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Title: Waterloo Days - The narrative of an Englishwoman resident at Brussels in June 1815
Author: Eaton, Charlotte Annie Waldie
Language: English
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The following little book which was first published within two years
of the events which it describes, was republished in 1852, after some
revision by the author, under the title of "The Days of Battle." It has
now been out of print for a considerable time, but its merits as a very
graphic and interesting description of those few momentous days which
have left their mark on English literature no less than on the history
of Europe, are sufficient, it is believed, to justify its republication
in a popular series.

Though it was first published anonymously as a "Narrative of a few
days' Residence in Belgium with some account of a visit to the field of
Waterloo, by an Englishwoman," it has so much personal interest that
the reader will, doubtless, be glad to know something of its author,
more especially as she is favourably known by other works, and with
other members of her family has claims upon the memory of a younger

Miss Charlotte Anne Waldie, the lady in question, was born 28
September, 1788, and was the second of three daughters of George
Waldie, Esq., of Hendersyde Park, near Kelso, Roxburghshire, and Forth
House, Newcastle-on-Tyne. There were also two sons, one of whom is
mentioned in the following pages, but they both died without issue.
The eldest daughter, Maria Jane, married in 1812 Mr. Richard Griffith,
the distinguished civil engineer, who was appointed by Government sole
commissioner for the general valuation of Ireland, and was the author
of the famous geological map of that country. After more than forty
years of arduous public service, during a large part of which he was
President of the Board of Works in Ireland, he was created a baronet;
and his son, Sir George R. Waldie-Griffith, inherited Mr. Waldie's

The youngest of the three sisters, Jane, was an accomplished painter,
and her pictures are to be met with in many institutions in the north
of England. She also had considerable literary talent, and wrote a work
entitled "Sketches descriptive of Italy," which was published in four
volumes in 1820. She married Captain, afterwards Admiral, Watts, of
Langton Grange, near Staindrop, Darlington, but unfortunately died in
early life.

Charlotte, the sister with whom we are chiefly concerned, accompanied
her brother and younger sister, as is hereafter related, on a visit to
Brussels, in June, 1815, when it had temporarily and hastily become the
headquarters of the army under Wellington. The allied forces, as every
one supposed, were to meet and crush Napoleon, who had just returned
from Elba, before he had time to take the offensive. But his movements
were more rapid than had been anticipated, and the Belgian capital,
crowded with non-combatants of both sexes, instead of being merely a
point of departure, suddenly found itself the central point of the seat
of war. The pen of Thackeray has well adapted this dramatic situation
to the purposes of fiction; but in the following pages we have the
circumstances brought before us with all the vividness which actual
experience only can give. A few weeks later the two sisters visited the
field of Waterloo, and a short narrative of the battle written by one,
and illustrated by the pencil of the other, was published anonymously
by Murray, and rapidly went through ten editions.

In the course of the next year the two sisters rejoined their brother
in France, and went on with him to Italy, and it was then, as explained
in the author's preface, that the following account, which incorporated
the previous narrative, made its appearance.

In 1817-18 Miss Charlotte Waldie was again in Italy, and in 1820
published, still anonymously, her best known work, "Rome in the
Nineteenth Century."[2] This work gives the result of her own
experience and observation, and is written in the personal style which,
when it is combined, as in her case it is, with cultivated taste and
sensible criticism, is not to be equalled in interest by any formal
description. Notwithstanding the many changes which recent research
and excavation have wrought in the descriptive topography of Rome the
book is still useful to travellers, and is largely quoted by the latest
popular writer on the subject.[3]

In the same year her sister published her "Sketches in Italy,"
above referred to. Two years later Charlotte Waldie married Stephen
Eaton, Esq., banker, of Stamford, and of Ketton Hall, Rutland. A few
years afterwards she published a story in three volumes, entitled
"Continental Adventures."

Mrs. Eaton's last work, "At Home and Abroad," was published in 1831. In
1851 she prepared a new edition, the fifth, of "Rome in the Nineteenth
Century," in two volumes, with illustrations, for Bohn's Illustrated
Library, and in 1852 she revised the present work for the same
publisher. She died on 28 April, 1859, in the seventy-first year of her

The following reprint differs only from the author's last edition in
respect to the title and the appended notes. It must be remembered
that the few details of the battle of Waterloo are based upon the
reports current at the time, and have since been supplemented or
corrected in various ways. In all that came under the writer's own
observation there is no room for doubt as to her correctness, and
her picture of Brussels during the days of battle is corroborated by
another account, also by a lady and an English writer, namely, the
well-known Fanny Burney, who was then the wife of General D'Arblay, a
French officer in the service of Louis XVIII. Madame D'Arblay, being
unsuccessful in an attempt to leave the city by canal-boat, spent some
weeks in Brussels, but pre-occupied as she was by the absence of her
husband she exercised less observation on what was going on around
her, and her account is far less graphic than that of her younger
fellow-countrywoman. Nor did she visit the field of battle, and realize
in an equal degree the terrible penalty which war exacts from victors
as well as vanquished.[4] Whilst military glories are held to be worthy
of commemoration, it is fitting that such details should not be left
untold. And in truth the campaign of Waterloo has memories which an
Englishman cannot afford to lose. If a righteous and unselfish cause
may hallow the horrors of those days, it is not well to ignore them
altogether. If a cool and confident intrepidity on the part of a
leader, if daring disregard of life in comparison with duty on the
part of his officers, if resolute and patient endurance for hours, of
rank and file, under repeated charge, or still more deadly storm of
lead--if, in short, courage and fortitude, well employed, are virtues
not yet out of date, the tale of Waterloo should still be told, and
this little book, genuine as it is, has still its testimony to add



This little Narrative is the simple and faithful account of one who was
a spectator of the scenes she describes, and a witness of the events
she relates, during those days of desperate conflict and unparalleled
victory which must be for ever memorable in British history, and
interesting to every British heart. It was written whilst the
impression of those eventful scenes was yet fresh upon the mind: and
the thoughts and feelings which such awful and affecting circumstances
were irresistibly calculated to inspire, were expressed without
restraint, in the full security of the sympathy and approbation of the
partial friends for whose perusal alone this Narrative was intended.

During the absence of the Author in Italy in 1816, the members of her
family in England sent the manuscript to the late Mr. Murray, and it
was already in the press before she received any intimation of its
intended publication.

The Author must be permitted most earnestly to disclaim all idea of
entering into competition with the writers whose talents and genius
have been so well employed in describing the battle and the field of
Waterloo. They were not, however, like the Author, on the spot at the
time; they were pilgrims who afterwards visited the memorable scenes
of these glorious events, and wrote from report: they related the
past--she described the present.

Conscious of her inadequacy to a theme on which all that can be said
falls so far short of what must be felt; impossible as it is to do
justice to the achievements of that gallant army who have been the
champions, the conquerors, and the deliverers of the world, and
to whom, under Heaven, Europe owes her security, and England her
glory--the writer yet ventures to hope, that the generous indulgence
of a British public will be extended to this humble attempt to record
the proofs displayed on those glorious "days of battle," of their
heroic valour in combat, their noble magnanimity in victory, and
their unshaken fortitude in suffering--faintly and feebly as they are
described by

                                 AN ENGLISHWOMAN.


[Footnote 1: I have to thank Mr. C.O. Eaton, J.P., of Tolethorpe Hall,
Stamford, for his assistance in preparing this account of his mother's
various writings; and Mr. George Hooper, author of "Waterloo, the
Downfall of the First Napoleon," for kindly revising the notes at the
end of the volume.]

[Footnote 2: The first edition was published by Constable, Edinburgh; a
second edition was brought out by Murray in 1826.]

[Footnote 3: See "Walks in Rome," by Augustus J.C. Hare.]

[Footnote 4: There is another small book published shortly before this,
"A Visit to Flanders in July, 1815," by James Simpson (Edinburgh,
1815), which also gives an account of the field a few weeks after the
battle. Müffling's "Passages from my Life," and Kincaird's "Adventures
in the Rifle Brigade," also give some interesting details of Brussels
on the eve of Waterloo.]


JUNE 1815.

On Saturday, the 10th of June, 1815, my brother, my sister, and myself,
sailed from the pier of Ramsgate at three in the afternoon, in company
with Sir Neil Campbell, the celebrated Knight of Elba, Major Wylie, of
the Royal Fusiliers, extra aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington, a
Mr. N., an English merchant; together with an incongruous assemblage
of horses, dogs, and barouches; Irish servants, French valets, and
steerage passengers, too multifarious to mention, all crowded together
into a wretched little packet. On Sunday evening, the 11th of June,
we found ourselves, after a passage of thirty-six hours, many miles
distant from Ostend, lying at anchor in a dead calm, and without a
hope of reaching it till the following morning. To escape remaining
another night amidst the discomforts of this packet, without food,
for we had eaten up all our provisions; and without sleep, for we
had experimentally proved that none was to be got, our three selves,
and our three companions in misfortune, the Knight, the Major, and
the Merchant, embarked in a crazy little boat, about nine o'clock
in a beautiful summer's evening, as the sun was sinking in golden
splendour, and trusted ourselves to the mercy of the waves. The tide
was running strong against the rowers, and night closed in long before
we approached the shore; but though the light of the heavens had
faded, the ocean was illuminated with that beautiful phosphoric fire
so well known in warmer latitudes. The most brilliant magic light
played upon the surface of the waters, and marked the path of our
little vessel through the deep, with the softest, purest radiance;
the oars seemed to be moving through liquid fire, and every drop, as
it dashed from them, sparkled like the blaze of a diamond: the little
rippling waves, as they curled their heads, were covered with the same
transparent ethereal fire, which would mock the powers of the poet's
fancy, "glancing from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven," to
embody or describe. It is more like the pale beam the glow-worm sheds
from his evening lamp than anything on earth, but ten thousand times
more bright and more beautiful. By such a light Oberon and his Queen,
attended by their band of tiny sprites, might have held their midnight
revels, amidst the bowers and halls of fairyland; and by such a light,
enchanted spirits in happier worlds might be supposed to slumber. This
soft, transparent, _unearthly_ light gleaming around us, and kindling
at every touch in living brightness over the waters; the calm and
glassy stillness of the wide extended ocean; the softened glow that
lingered in the western sky; and the mild breath of evening, made our
passage to the shore, slow as it was, most delightful. It was a night
calculated to soothe every unquiet passion into rest, and in which the
imagination loved to indulge in dreams of delight and beauty. The
heart must have been cold that did not feel the harmony of nature, and
the spirit turbulent that did not partake of its repose: everything
seemed to have been touched by the hand of enchantment. But the magic
spell was dissolved, and the visions of fancy faded away in a moment;
for we suddenly struck upon the sands, when we seemed still far from
the shore; waves of apparent fire dashed into the boat; and the sturdy
sailors, abandoning their oars, seized upon us without the smallest
ceremony, and carried us literally through fire and water to the beach.

Thus were we thrown, late at night, and in the dark, upon a foreign
coast, uncertain which way to direct our steps through the deep,
deserted, trackless sands that surrounded us; forewarned of the rapid
approach of the tides upon this coast, and wholly at a loss in what
direction lay the town, or how to get admittance through the sentry
posts, at such an hour, if we did reach it. Yet under these appalling
circumstances, I cannot say that we felt the smallest alarm, or even a
momentary uncomfortable situation: we had no fear of being drowned, nor
the remotest idea that any more serious mischief could befal us than
spending the night upon the sands, of which, however, there seemed to
be much probability. Luckily for us, this Mr. N. proved a most able
pilot; he had frequently been at Ostend before, and led the way with
great sagacity, in spite of the darkness in which we were involved.
We were all loaded with travelling bags, or parcels of some sort, for
it was with difficulty the little nutshell of a boat contained our
six selves, and all the servants were left in the vessel. We were
each, therefore, obliged to carry all that we wanted of our travelling
equipments; and thus burdened, and sinking every step ankle deep
in the heavy sands, we reached at last, with considerable toil, the
fortifications, and were immediately hailed by the soldier on guard. We
declared ourselves to be "friends," but in vain; friends or foes were
all the same to the sentry; we might have lain all night in the ditch,
for anything he cared; for his orders were positive, to admit no person
into the garrison, without the express order of the commandant after
dark. But the cocked hat, aide-de-camp's uniform, and authoritative
tone of Major Wylie carried us all through. He declared "that he and
his party were going to join the army with speed;" and, although some
of us must have struck the sentry as not being likely to prove a very
valuable reinforcement to the troops, he did not venture to make any
further opposition, and we all entered Ostend. Although we came "in
such a questionable shape," we obtained admittance into "La Cour
Impériale," where we got an excellent supper, which was particularly
acceptable to some of us, who had eaten nothing all day, excepting
a bit of bread. We then went to bed, where we enjoyed the sweets of
undisturbed repose, with a zest which none but those who have spent a
suffocating, sick, and sleepless night in a wretched little berth on
board a packet, can understand.

Next day, after viewing the fortifications, which, although they had
been recently repaired by the English, could no longer stand the
long sieges which have made Ostend famous in history, we proceeded
to Bruges, walked about in the rain till late at night, to visit the
beautiful Hôtel de Ville, and other public buildings of that fine
old city; and rose early the next morning to see the churches of San
Sauveur and Notre Dame, and the magnificent tombs of Charles the
Bold and his daughter. Already the churches were crowded with pious
Catholics, whose attention was sadly distracted from their devotion by
our appearance: sometimes they whispered an Ave Maria with the utmost
fervency of prayer; and sometimes an half-uttered exclamation of wonder
burst from their lips; sometimes they resolutely resumed counting their
beads, and sometimes their eyes involuntarily rested on our foreign
figures with the broad stare of curiosity.

We left Bruges in the same bark which had once conveyed Napoleon
Buonaparte to that city, and which is now used as a côche d'eau. It
contained 150 people of every sort and description, from the courtiers
of Louis XVIII. down to Flemish peasants; all of whom, however, were
obliging, talkative, attentive, flattering, and amusing. After dining
on board, and spending a most entertaining day, we arrived in the
evening at Ghent.

The whole of Wednesday we spent in this ancient city, and though its
extent is so great as to have been the subject of a well-known imperial
quibble,[5] I believe we left but little of it unexplored. We visited
its magnificent cathedral, whose walls, pillars, roofs, columns, and
pulpits are formed of the richest polished marble of every varying
hue, and carved with exquisite skill; and whose sculptured ornaments,
the work of ages when the statuary's art was in high perfection,
seemed almost to start to life before our eyes. We explored the deep
sepulchral gloom of its subterranean church; visited the costly shrines
of all the saints; contemplated the ancient and decaying monasteries,
which were formerly its pride; made a most indefatigable research
after cabinets of paintings; and wandered with the utmost perseverance
through its abominable streets. We saw the balcony in which the monster
Vandamme, in the bloody times of the Revolution, used to stand, day
after day, to see victims led out, at his bidding, to the guillotine.
In its altered scenes, we now beheld loyal Bourbon beaux in gold
epaulettes, and smart Flemish belles, in French fashions, laughing and
flirting. We, like them, paraded in its gay promenade, and rambled
through the perfumed walks and exotic bowers of its beautiful Botanic
Garden. The City of Ghent seemed to be restored to some traces of its
ancient grandeur by the temporary residence of the Bourbon princes,
and the little expatriated court of Louis XVIII. I had never been able
to feel any extravagant degree of attachment to this unfortunate royal
family: their restoration had not given me any enthusiastic joy, nor
their fall much sorrow; and even the honour of paying my devoirs to
Louis le Désiré, and exchanging some profound and reverential bows and
courtesies with his most Catholic Majesty, failed to inspire me with
much interest or admiration for this persecuted, princely race. These
bows, by the way, cost the good old king considerable time and labour,
for he is extremely unwieldy and corpulent, and gouty; and he looks
very lethargic and snuffy; and it is really a thousand pities that an
exiled and dethroned monarch should be so remarkably uninteresting a

Early in the morning of Thursday, the 15th of June, we left the City of
Ghent, passed its ancient walls, and crossed the "lazy Scheldt," which
is here but a small stream, and belies the epithet Goldsmith applies
to its more advanced course; for it runs with considerable rapidity.
We proceeded along the straight, undeviating line of the broad, flat
chaussée, or paved road, that leads to Brussels. It is bordered on each
side with rows of tall trees, which form one long interminable avenue,
as far as the eye can reach. We remembered that it was down this very
road that Napoleon Buonaparte had made his triumphant progress through
the Netherlands, and we most devoutly hoped, that neither by this, nor
any other road, he would ever have it in his power to enter them again.

The country is thickly covered with neat cottages, scattered hamlets,
and small farm-houses: the fields were waving with tall, luxuriant
crops of corn, and far from wearing the appearance of the theatre
of war, it seemed to be the abode of peace and plenty; and hope,
contentment, and hilarity shone in the countenances of the people. The
peasants almost all wore sabots; but the cottage children, bare-footed
and bare-headed, frequently pursued the carriage for miles, keeping
pace with the horses, tumbling as they went along, singing Flemish
patriotic songs, the burden of which was invariably, "Success to the
English, and destruction to the French;" and crying with unwearied
perseverance, "Viv_é_[6] les Anglaises!" "Dat for Napoleon!" expressing
at the same time, by an emphatic gesture, cutting off his head. They
threw bouquets of flowers into the carriage, twisted their little
sun-burnt faces into the most extraordinary grimaces, and kept whirling
round on their hands and feet, in imitation of the rotatory motion of
a wheel. Dr. Clarke, in his Travels, mentions that the children of the
Arabs in Egypt performed the same exploit, and for the same purpose,
that of extorting from the passengers a few sous; nay, even one they
seemed to think a sufficient reward for a laborious chase of more than
a league, and the exhibition of all these fatiguing antics.

At the little town of Alost, half way to Brussels, we stopped to
dine. It was the head-quarters of the Duc de Berri, and the streets,
the promenades, and the caffés looked gay. There is a pleasant walk,
shaded by trees, round the ramparts; for, this little town, like
every other in the Netherlands, was formerly fortified; although its
dismantled walls no longer afford any means of defence. A violent
shower of rain obliged us to take refuge, in rather an unceremonious
manner, in a small house, the mistress of which, who was preparing
to take her afternoon's coffee (though it was only one o'clock),
received us with the utmost courtesy and kindness. Short as our stay
was beneath her roof, it was long enough for her to express with great
energy her detestation of Napoleon and of the French; which she said
was universal throughout Belgium. We had a good deal of conversation
with her upon this subject, and upon the past and present state of
Belgium.--"Ah, madame! before they came among us," she said, "this was
a very different country. Then we were rich, and good, and happy."
She lamented over the trade, the manufactories, the commerce they had
destroyed; the contributions they had exacted; the fine young men they
had seized as conscripts; the convents they had ruined; the priests
and "les bonnes religieuses" they had turned to the door. Wherever we
had gone before, and wherever we afterwards went, we heard the same
sentiments from every tongue, and we saw the most unequivocal signs
of the inveterate hatred of the Belgic people towards their former
rulers. It bursts out spontaneously, as if they could not suppress it;
their whole countenances change; their eyes sparkle with indignation;
their very gestures are eloquent, and they seem at a loss for words
strong enough to express the bitterness of their detestation. This
surprised us not a little, as in England we had been taught to believe
that the French were popular in this country; but we were at length
convinced of our mistake. It is the _English_, not the French, who are
popular in Belgium; and it was far more gratifying than any individual
distinction could have been, to find that we were everywhere received
with marked attention and respect for the sake of our country, and that
the name of England is everywhere beloved and honoured.

At the village of Ashe, half way between Alost and Brussels, while I
was buying in a little shop a basket of "gateaux sucrés," for which the
place is famous, two Belgic ladies, who happened to be there, entered
into conversation with me, with all the ease of foreign manners,
and uttered the same energetic invective against their late French
Government, and animated praise of the English, which we heard from
every tongue during our stay in Belgium. These people evidently speak
from their hearts: and yet in manners, in customs, in ancient ties,
in modern predilections, and even in language, they are French. Their
deep-rooted hatred, therefore, of the people to whom they were so
firmly attached, must have sprung from very flagrant wrongs, and very
galling oppression.

Alost is situated on the little river Dender, and from the road we
caught a glimpse of the spire of Dendermond, so famous for its siege
by the Allies in the last century. We were now in a country which had
repeatedly been, in every age, the seat of war, and in which England
had already gained immortal glory. In retracing the proud history of
her past triumphs, and her recent and not less brilliant conquests,
we felt the firm assurance that in those scenes where the British
under the Duke of Marlborough had, in the eighteenth century, won the
glorious victories of Oudenarde, Ramillies, and Malplaquet, the British
under the Duke of Wellington, in the nineteenth century, would gain
fresh laurels and immortal renown, and raise still higher the glory of
their country's arms.

After leaving Alost, the country became more rich and undulating.
Instead of a dull, dead flat, which we had before traversed, sloping
grounds, and distant hills, and sheltered valleys diversified the
prospect. The woods rose in prouder beauty, and the fields were
dressed in brighter verdure and richer luxuriance; and as we passed
through those smiling scenes, and saw the husbandman pursuing his
peaceful labours, the cottage wife busy with her household cares,
and the merry groups of haymakers spread over the fragrant meadows,
we rejoiced in the hope that the hand of the spoiler would never lay
waste these fruitful fields, nor burn these peaceful hamlets, and
that these contented peasants would never again be torn from their
homes to fight in the cause of unprincipled ambition, and become in
turn the instruments of that oppression of which they had been the
victims. It was with a feeling of pride for our country we indulged
the thought that it was to England they owed their security; that it
was her protecting arm which interposed the impenetrable shield of
her armies between them and the tyranny and usurpation of France. We
could not but rejoice that since the awful struggle must be made, its
horrors--if inevitable--would, at least, be distant;--that since the
awful thunderbolt of war must fall, it would descend, in all human
probability, upon that country which had raised the storm; and that
France herself would at length be visited by some part of the dreadful
calamities which she had so long and so mercilessly inflicted upon
other nations.[7]

Short sighted mortals! while we fondly indulged these hopes, and
exulted in the blessings of security and peace, how little did we
suspect that the most aggravated horrors of war were ready to burst
over our heads; how little did we foresee the rapid changes and
alarming events which even this very day was destined to produce; and
while we watched the sun sinking in glory in the western sky, how
little did we dream of the scenes that were to pass before the dawn of
morning! In all the bliss of ignorance, however, we journeyed along,
admiring from afar the lofty towers and spires of Brussels, and its
crowded roofs clustering round the steep sides of a hill, in the midst
of a rich and cheerful country, and thinking with joyful and impatient
anticipation of the well-known faces of the beloved friends whom we
were to meet within its walls.

Near Brussels we passed a body of Brunswick troops (called Black
Brunswickers). They were dressed in black, and mounted upon black
horses, and their helmets were surmounted with tall nodding plumes of
black horsehair, which gave them a most sombre and funereal appearance.
As they slowly moved along the road before us in a long regular
procession, they looked exactly like an immense moving hearse. I
laughed, and observed to my sister, "that one might take this for a
bad omen, and that it reminded me of the mourning wedding-ring in the
Simple Story." Some of these black, ominous looking men kept before us,
and entered Brussels along with us. At first we passed through some
mean, dirty streets, but the appearance of the town soon improved. The
houses are large, ancient, and highly ornamented. There is an air of
grandeur and of architectural design in the towns of Flanders, which
is peculiarly striking, on first coming from the plain, diminutive,
shopkeeper-looking, red brick rows of houses in England. The streets of
Brussels are narrow, but they have that air of bustle, opulence, and
animation, which characterises a metropolis. To us everything was new
and amusing: the people, the dresses, the houses, the shops, the very
signs diverted us. Every notice was stuck up in the French language,
and quite in the French style: the poorest and most paltry shop called
itself a Magazine. Here were Magasins de Modes, Magasins de Souliers,
Magasins de----everything, in short: it was amusing to see the names
of people and trades, that we had only been accustomed to meet with in
French books and plays, stuck up in gilt letters above every shop-door.

Everything wore a military aspect; and the number of troops of
different nations, descriptions, and dresses, which filled the town,
made it look very gay. Soldiers' faces, or at least their white belts
and red coats, were to be seen at every window; and in our slow
progress through the streets we were delighted to see the British
soldiers, and particularly the Highlanders, laughing and joking, with
much apparent glee, with the inhabitants. On our right we caught a
glimpse of the magnificent spire of the Hôtel de Ville, far exceeding,
in architectural beauty, anything I remember to have seen. We slowly
continued to ascend the windings of the long and steep hill, which
leads from the low to the high town of Brussels, and the upper part of
which is called La Montagne du Parc. Passing on our left the venerable
towers of the Cathedral, we reached at last the summit of this huge
"Montagne;" and the Parc of Brussels, of which we had heard, read, and
talked so much, unexpectedly opened upon us. What a transition from
the dark, narrow, gloomy streets of the low town to the lightness,
gaiety, and beauty of the Parc, crowded with officers in every variety
of military uniform, with elegant women, and with lively parties and
gay groups of British and Belgic people, loitering, walking, talking,
and sitting under the trees! There could not be a more animated, a more
holiday scene; everything looked gay and festive, and everything spoke
of hope, confidence, and busy expectation.

The Parc of Brussels does not bear the smallest resemblance to what
in England we denominate a park. It is more like a garden enclosed
with iron rails, the interior of which is laid out with gravel-walks,
grass-plots, and parterres, shaded with trees, and ornamented with
fountains[8] and statues. It is quite a promenade, and is exclusively
devoted to pedestrians. The walks are formal, but kept with great
exactness, and the tout ensemble looks gay, inviting, and pleasant.
It is surrounded by a wide street, enclosed by a square of magnificent
houses, in which are the palace of the Prince of Orange, and many
beautiful public buildings. Compared to this grand square, the finest
squares of London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, are small and paltry.
Adjoining the Parc is the Place Royale, and so strikingly grand and
imposing is its architecture, that we all uttered an involuntary
exclamation of surprise and admiration as we drove into it. The doors
and windows of the Hôtel Bellevue, and of the Hôtel de Flandre,
adjoining to it, were crowded with British officers. We took possession
of two pleasant rooms in the latter, which had been secured for us by
the kind attention of Sir Neil Campbell. They were in the troisième
étage, and we had a hundred steps to ascend; but we were fortunate in
procuring such good accommodation, as Brussels was extremely crowded.
We had not entered the hotel many minutes, and had not once sat down,
when we recognised our pleasant compagnon de voyage, Major Wylie,
standing in the Place Royale below, encompassed with officers. He saw
us, took off his hat, and, breaking from the people that surrounded
him, darted in at the door of the hotel, and was with us in a minute.
Breathless with haste, he could scarcely articulate that hostilities
had commenced! Our amazement may be conceived: at first we could
scarcely believe him to be in earnest. "Upon my honour," exclaimed
Major Wylie, still panting, and scarcely able to speak, from the haste
with which he had flown up the hundred steps, "it is quite true; and
the troops are ordered to be in readiness to march at a moment's
notice; and we shall probably leave Brussels to-morrow morning." In
answer to our eager inquiries, he then told us that this unexpected
intelligence had only just arrived; that he had that moment left the
Duke of Wellington's table, where he had been dining with a party of
officers; and that, just as the dessert had been set upon the table,
a courier had arrived, bringing dispatches from Marshal Blucher,
announcing that he had been attacked by the French: but although the
fighting was hot, it seemed to be Blucher's opinion that it would most
probably be nothing more than a mere skirmish. While the Duke was
reading the dispatches, the Prince of Orange, General Mufflin, and
some other foreign officers had come in. After a short debate, the
Duke, expecting that the blow would be followed up, and believing that
it was the enemy's plan to crush the English army, and take Brussels,
immediately ordered the troops to be in readiness to take the field
at a moment's notice. "And when did all this happen?--when was this
attack made?" we anxiously inquired. "It took place this afternoon."
"This afternoon!" I exclaimed, in astonishment, and, I suppose, with
looks of consternation, which drew a good-natured smile from Major
Wylie, for we had not been used to hear of battles so near, or fought
the same afternoon. "Yes, it happened this very afternoon," said
Mayor Wylie; "and when the express came away, they were fighting as
hard as ever: but after all, it may prove a mere trifling affair of
outposts--nothing at all." "But are the French in great force? Where
are they? Where are the Prussians? How far off do you suppose all this
fighting is?" were some of the many questions we asked. The fighting
was in the neighbourhood of Charleroi, about half a day's march from
Brussels: nothing certainly was known of the force of the French. In
fact, nothing at all was known, except that the French had this very
day attacked the Prussians, when they were totally unprepared, at a
short distance from us. "However, after all, this may end in nothing,"
said Major Wylie, after a pause; "we _may_ have to march to-morrow
morning, or we may not march these three weeks: but the Duke expects
another dispatch from Blucher, and that will settle the business:" and
so saying, Major Wylie went away to dress for a ball. Yes, a ball! for
the Duke of Wellington, and his aides-de-camp, and half of the British
officers, though they expected to go to a battle to-morrow, were going
to a ball to-night, at the Duchess of Richmond's; and to the ball they
did accordingly go. They seemed to say, or to feel, with the Scottish
Chief in Douglas:

                 "This night once more
  Within these walls we rest: our tents we pitch
  To-morrow in the field. Prepare the feast!--
  Free is his heart who for his country fights:
  He on the eve of battle may resign
  Himself to social pleasure: sweetest then,
  When danger to a soldier's soul endears
  The human joy that never may return."

Late as it was, my brother and sister went to call upon Mrs. H., whom
they were impatient to see. They had not been gone many minutes, when
Sir Neil Campbell sent up to ask if I would admit him. I made no
objection: so in he came, looking magnificent, in a full dress uniform,
covered with crosses, clasps, orders, and medals. Behold me, then,
tête-à-tête with this splendid beau, in my own room, between ten and
eleven o'clock at night! In England it would have been extraordinary
enough, to be sure; but in Brussels it was nothing. It was impossible
to receive him, or anybody else, in any other place than a bed-room,
for the Hôtel de Flandre was entirely composed of bed-rooms, all of
which were occupied. Without discomposing myself about the matter,
therefore, I gave Sir Neil Campbell some tea, and we had a long chat
together. He, too, had been dining with the Duke of Wellington, and
had been present when these important dispatches arrived, and from him
I heard a repetition of all that Major Wylie had told us, with the
alarming addition, that the French were said to be upwards of 100,000
strong, and that Napoleon himself was at the head of the army. It was
generally thought that this attack upon the Prussians was a stratagem
to conceal more effectually his real designs, of surprising Brussels,
and destroying, if possible, at one blow, the English army. It was well
known that the Russians had crossed the Rhine; and Sir Neil Campbell
said _he_ had no doubt that Buonaparte would push forward at all
hazards, and give battle before they could arrive. As Sir Neil Campbell
had certainly reason to know _something_ of Buonaparte, and as these
rapid, unexpected movements were in perfect uniformity with his general
policy, this conjecture seemed but too probable; but we concluded that
the numbers of the French must be prodigiously exaggerated. It seemed
quite incredible that so large an army could have formed, advanced,
and even attacked Marshal Blucher, without his having any knowledge of
their movements; and even if their force was very superior to ours, I
felt confident that they would meet with a very different reception
from that which they expected; and that Napoleon, with every advantage
on his side, would not find the defeat of an English army quite so easy
a thing in practice, as he had always seemed to consider it in theory.
Having settled this point much to our mutual satisfaction, Sir Neil
Campbell went away. My brother and sister returned, and we went to bed.

But we were not destined long to enjoy the sweets of repose. Scarcely
had I laid my weary head on the pillow, when the bugle's loud and
commanding call sounded from the Place Royale. "Is that the call to
arms?" I exclaimed, starting up in the bed. My sister laughed at the
idea; but it was repeated, and we listened with eager and anxious
suspense. For a few moments a pause of doubt ensued. Hark! again!
it sounded through the silence of the night, and from every quarter
of the town it was now repeated, at short and regular intervals.
"It is the call to arms!" I exclaimed. Instantly the drums beat;
the Highland pibroch sounded----It was the call to arms! Oh! never
shall I forget the feelings of that moment! Immediately the utmost
tumult and confusion succeeded to the silence in which the city had
previously been buried. At half-past two we were roused by a loud
knocking at our room door, and my brother's voice calling to us to
get up instantly, not to lose a moment--that the troops were under
arms--were marching out against the French--and that Major Llewellyn
was waiting to see us before he left Brussels. Inexpressibly relieved
to find that this nocturnal alarm was occasioned by the departure of
Major Llewellyn, not by the arrival of the French, which, in the first
startling confusion of my thoughts, and trepidation of my mind, had
actually entered my head; and much better pleased to meet an old and
kind friend, than to run away from a furious enemy, we got up with the
greatest alacrity, and hastily throwing some clothes about us, flew
to see Llewellyn, who was waiting on the stairs. Short and agitated
indeed was our meeting under such circumstances. By the light of a
candle in my brother's room, we sat down for a few minutes on some
boxes, scarcely able to believe our senses, that all this was real,
and almost inclined to doubt whether it was not a dream: but the din
of war which resounded in our ears too painfully convinced us that it
was no illusion of phantasy:--we could scarcely even "snatch a fearful
joy," for not for a single moment could we banish from our minds the
impression, that in a few moments we must part, perhaps for ever, and
that this hurried interview might prove our last. We could only gaze
intently upon each other, as if to retain a lasting remembrance of the
well-known countenance, should we indeed be destined to meet no more:
we could only utter incoherent words or disjointed speeches. While he
still lingered, we heard his charger, which his servant held in the
court-yard below, neighing and pawing the ground, as if impatient of
his master's delay, and eager to bear him to the field. Our greetings
and adieus were equally hurried. We bade him farewell, and saw him go
to battle.

It was nearly two years since we had met; and little did we think, when
we parted in the peaceful valleys of Roxburghshire, that our next,
and perhaps our last, meeting would be in Brussels, in the dead of
the night, and on the very eve of battle. He was the same to us as a
brother. He left us then, as now, to fight the battles of his country;
and we trusted that victory and glory would still follow the British
arms, and that he would once more return in honour and safety.

Just as he left us, the dawn appeared, and, by the faint twilight
of morning, we saw the Place Royale filled with armed men, and with
all the tumult and confusion of martial preparation. All was "hurry
skurry for the field." Officers were looking in vain for their
servants--servants running in pursuit of their masters--baggage
waggons were loading--bât horses preparing--trains of artillery
harnessing.--And amidst the clanking of horses' hoofs, the rolling of
heavy carriages, the clang of arms, the sounding of bugles, and the
neighing of chargers, we distinctly heard, from time to time, the loud,
deep-toned word of command, while the incessant din of hammers nailing
"gave dreadful note of preparation."

A second express had arrived from Blucher, bringing intelligence that
the French were in much more formidable force than he had imagined;
that the attack was become serious; they had taken Charleroi, and
driven back the Prussians. It was, therefore, necessary for the British
to march immediately to support them. The Duke had received the
dispatches containing this important news in the ball-room. We were
afterwards told, that upon perusing them he seemed for a few minutes to
be absolutely absorbed in a profound reverie, and completely abstracted
from every surrounding object; and that he was even heard to utter
indistinctly a few words to himself. After a pause, he folded up the
dispatches, called one of his staff officers to him, gave the necessary
orders with the utmost coolness and promptitude; and having directed
the army to be put in motion immediately, he himself stayed at the ball
till past two in the morning. The cavalry officers, whose regiments,
for the most part, were quartered in villages about the frontier, ten,
fifteen, and even twenty miles off, flew from the ball-room in dismay,
in search of their horses, and galloped off in the dark, without
baggage or attendants, in the utmost perplexity which way to go, or
where to join their regiments, which might have marched before they
could arrive. Numbers of the officers had been out when the first
order to be in readiness to march was issued, and remained in perfect
ignorance of the commencement of hostilities, until the alarm sounded,
and called them from scenes of festivity and mirth to scenes of war
and bloodshed. As the dawn broke, the soldiers were seen assembling
from all parts of the town, in marching order, with their knapsacks
on their backs, loaded with three days' provision. Unconcerned in
the midst of the din of war, many a soldier laid himself down on a
truss of straw, and soundly slept, with his hands still grasping his
firelock; others were sitting contentedly on the pavement, waiting the
arrival of their comrades. Numbers were taking leave of their wives and
children, perhaps for the last time, and many a veteran's rough cheek
was wet with the tears of sorrow. One poor fellow, immediately under
our windows, turned back again and again, to bid his wife farewell, and
take his baby once more in his arms; and I saw him hastily brush away a
tear with the sleeve of his coat, as he gave her back the child for the
last time, wrung her hand, and ran off to join his company, which was
drawn up on the other side of the Place Royale.

Many of the soldiers' wives marched out with their husbands to the
field, and I saw one young English lady mounted on horseback, slowly
riding out of town along with an officer, who, no doubt, was her
husband. But even at this interesting moment, when thousands were
parting with those nearest and dearest to their hearts, my gravity was
suddenly overset, and my sorrow turned into mirth, by the unexpected
appearance of a long train of market carts, loaded with cabbages,
green peas, cauliflowers, early potatoes, old women, and strawberries,
peaceably jogging along, one after another, to market. These good
people, who had never heard of battles, and who were perfectly at a
loss to comprehend what could be the meaning of all this uproar, stared
with astonishment at the spectacle before them, and actually gaped with
wonder, as they slowly made their way in their long carts through the
crowds of soldiers which filled the Place Royale. There was something
so inexpressibly ludicrous in the contrast which the grotesque figures
and rustic dresses of these old women presented to this martial hurry
and confusion, that really "_not_ to laugh surpassed all powers of
face," and that I did laugh I must acknowledge, though it was perhaps
very ill-timed levity. Soon afterwards the 42nd and 92nd Highland
regiments marched through the Place Royale and the Parc, with their
bagpipes playing before them, while the bright beams of the rising sun
shone full on their polished muskets, and on the dark waving plumes of
their tartan bonnets. We admired their fine athletic forms, their firm
erect military demeanour and undaunted mien. We felt proud that they
were our countrymen: in their gallant bearing we recognised the true
hardy sons of Caledon, men who would conquer or die; and we could not
restrain a tear at the reflection, how few of that warlike band who now
marched out so proudly to battle might ever live to return. Alas! we
little thought that even before the fall of night these brave men, whom
we now gazed at with so much interest and admiration, would be laid low!

During the whole night, or rather morning, we stood at the open window,
unable to leave these sights and sounds of war, or to desist for a
moment from contemplating a scene so new, so affecting, and so deeply
interesting to us. Regiment after regiment formed and marched out of
Brussels; we heard the last word of command--March! the heavy measured
uniform tread of the soldiers' feet upon the pavement, and the last
expiring note of the bugles, as they sounded from afar.

We saw our gallant army leave Brussels with emotions which may be
better imagined than described. They went again to meet that enemy whom
they had so often encountered, and as invariably vanquished; to follow
that general, who, in a long course of years of command devoted to
the service and glory of his country, had never experienced a single
defeat; who had so lately led them from victory to victory, crossed,
in his triumphant march, the plains of Spain, fought his way over the
frozen heights of the Pyrenees, carried conquest and dismay in the very
heart of France, and whose rapid and unparalleled career of conquest
had only been checked by the angel of peace. As we saw the last of our
brave troops march out of Brussels, the recollection of their past
glory, the proud hopes of their present triumph, the greatness of the
contest, upon the issue of which the fate of Europe and the security
of the world depended; the dread of their encounter with the numerous
and formidable hosts of _that man_, whom no treaties could bind, no
adversity could amend, no considerations of justice or humanity could
soften, no laws, divine or human, could restrain, swelled our hearts
with feelings which language is too feeble to express: and our brave
countrymen were followed by our tears, our warmest wishes, and our most
fervent prayers for their safety and success.

Before seven in the morning, the streets, which had been so lately
thronged with armed men and with busy crowds, were empty and silent.
The great square of the Place Royale no longer resounded with the
tumult and preparations for war. The army were gone, and Brussels
seemed a perfect desert. The mourners they had left behind were shut up
in their solitary chambers, and the faces of the few who were slowly
wandering about the streets were marked with the deepest anxiety and
melancholy. The heavy military waggons, ranged in order, and ready to
move as occasion might require, were standing under the silent guard of
a few sentinels. The Flemish drivers were sleeping in the long tilted
carts destined to convey the wounded; and the horses, ready to harness
at a moment's notice, were quietly feeding on fresh-cut grass by their
side: the whole livelong day and night did these Flemish men and horses
pass in the Place Royale. A few officers were still to be seen, slowly
riding out of town to join the army. The Duke of Wellington set off
about eight o'clock, in great spirits, declaring he expected to be
back by dinner-time; and dinner was accordingly prepared for him. Sir
Thomas Picton, who, like ourselves, had only arrived in Brussels the
day before, rode through the streets in true soldier-like style, with
his reconnoitring glass slung across his shoulders, reining in his
charger as he passed, to exchange salutations with his friends, and
left Brussels--never to return.

We had a most agreeable surprise at our breakfast-table in the sight
of Major Llewellyn. He had ridden a few miles out of Brussels with
the regiment, and then galloped back with Sir Philip Belson, who also
wished to return. We spent a few hours together, and, embittered as
they were with the prospect of so near and dreadful a separation, there
was much consolation in thus meeting. No expectation was entertained
of any engagement taking place to-day. Sir Philip Belson and Major
Llewellyn, therefore, felt quite at their ease; "being certain," they
said, "of overtaking the regiment _at a place called Waterloo_, where
the men were to stop to cook." Little did any of us then suspect how
memorable to future ages "that place called Waterloo" was destined to
become! We denied ourselves to several idlers, but Sir Neil Campbell,
and Mr. and Mrs. H., succeeded in gaining admittance.

At last the moment of parting arrived; Sir Philip Belson called for
Major Llewellyn, and, after sitting a few moments, they got up to go
away, and we bade farewell to one who from childhood had been our
friend and companion, and whom we loved as another brother. We could
not but feel how probable it was that we might never see him more; and,
under this impression, some minutes after he had left us, which he had
spent in bidding farewell to my brother below, we ran to the window,
saw Sir Philip Belson and him mount their horses and ride away, and
caught the last glimpse of them as they passed under the gateway of the
Place Royale. Two hours afterwards they were in the thickest of the

Although we had not the smallest suspicion that any engagement
could take place to-day, our anxiety for news, both of the French
and Prussians, was extreme; but we could hear nothing but vague,
unauthenticated reports, upon which no reliance could be placed.

We dined, or rather sat down to dinner, at the table d'hôte, and
afterwards wandered restlessly about the streets, our minds too much
absorbed in the approaching contest, to see, hear, understand, think,
or talk about anything but what related to public events.

Our consternation may be imagined when we were told that a dreadful
cannonade had been heard from the Parc, in the very direction which our
army had taken, and that it was supposed they must have been attacked
by the French within a few miles of Brussels. At first I was utterly
incredulous; I could not, would not believe it; but, hurrying to the
Parc, we were too soon, too incontestably convinced of the dreadful
truth, by ourselves hearing the awful and almost incessant thunder of
the guns apparently very near to us. For many hours this tremendous
cannonade continued, while, unable to gain any intelligence of what was
passing, ignorant of everything, except of the fact, proclaimed by the
loud and repeated voice of war, that there was a battle, we listened in
a state of terrible uncertainty and suspense, and thought with horror,
in the roar of every cannon, that our brave countrymen were every
moment falling in agony and death.

Unable to rest, we wandered about, and lingered till a late hour in the
Parc. The Parc! what a different scene did its green alleys present
this evening from that which they exhibited at the same hour last
night! Then it was crowded with the young and the gay, and the gallant
of the British army, with the very men who were now engaged in deadly
strife, and perhaps bleeding on the ground. Then it was filled with
female faces sparkling with mirth and gaiety; now terror, and anxiety,
and grief were marked upon every countenance we met.

In addition to the general alarm and anxiety, which surpassed
anything it is in my power to describe, we had a particular subject
of solicitude. We had but too much reason to fear that it would be
impossible for Sir Philip Belson and Major Llewellyn to join their
regiment in time for the action. The idea, the very doubt was dreadful.
If _we_ listened to the cannonade with such heart-sinking apprehensions
for them, what must have been _their_ feelings, if, at a distance
from the army, absent without leave, they heard its sounds! After
years of service in various climates and countries, after six long and
glorious campaigns in the Peninsula, would they forfeit, by one act of
imprudence, all the distinction they had obtained by a life devoted
to their country, and be found absent from their post in the hour
of danger! Dear to us as was the life of our friend, his honour was
still dearer; and while every one else was anxiously dreading lest the
battle should be near, and trembling at the reports that prevailed of
its vicinity, I was secretly praying that it might not be distant, and
would have felt inexpressibly relieved to have been assured that it was
within a few miles of Brussels.

But it was in vain we attempted to discover where it really was. Some
people said it was only six, some that it was ten, and some that it was
twenty miles off. Numbers of people in carriages and on horseback had
gone out several miles on the road which the army had taken, and all
of them had come back in perfect ignorance of the real circumstances
of the case, and with some ridiculous report, which, for a time, was
circulated as the truth. No authentic intelligence could be gained; and
every minute we were assailed with the most absurd and contradictory
stories. One moment we heard that the allied army had obtained a
complete victory; that the French had been completely repulsed, and
had left _twenty thousand dead_ upon the field of battle. Gladly
would I have believed the first part of this story, but the _twenty
thousand dead_ I could not swallow. Then again we were told that the
French, 180,000 strong, had attacked the British, that the Belgians
had abandoned their arms and fled, that our troops were literally
cut to pieces, and that the French were advancing to Brussels. Then
an English gentleman stopped his carriage to tell us, that _he_ had
been out farther than anybody, and that he had actually _seen_ the
engagement, which was between the French and the Prussians, and that
old Blucher had given the rascals a complete beating. We had not gone
ten paces farther, before another man, in a great hurry, advised us to
set off instantly if we wished to make our escape; that he was on the
point of going, for that certain intelligence had been received "that
the French had won the battle, and that our army was retreating in the
utmost confusion." I never remember to have felt so angry in my life;
and I indignantly exclaimed, that such a report deserved only to be
treated with contempt, and that it must be false, for that the English
would never retreat _in confusion_. The man seemed a little ashamed of
himself, and Mr. H. advised him "by all means to take care of himself,
and set off directly." We hastened on. Presently we met another of
Mr. H.'s wise friends, who assured us, with a face of the greatest
solemnity, "that the day was going against us; that the battle was as
good as lost; that our troops had been driven back from one position
after another; and that the artillery and baggage had commenced the
retreat; that all the horses would be seized for the service of the
army; and that in two hours it would be impossible to get away." All
this time we could hear nothing of what was really passing; or these
idle tales and unfounded rumours were unworthy of a moment's attention,
and did not give us a moment's alarm; but the poor Belgians, not
knowing what to make of all this, and nearly frightened out of their
senses, firmly expected the French in Brussels before the morning;
for their terror of them was so great and so deeply rooted, that they
believed nothing on earth could stop their advance.

This dreadful uncertainty and ignorance of the truth made us truly
wretched. Nobody knew anything of the actual state of affairs. Nobody
could tell where our army was engaged, nor under what circumstances,
nor against what force, nor whether separately or conjointly with the
Prussians, nor which side was gaining the advantage. We knew nothing,
except that there was a battle, and that at no great distance from
us; for that the unceasing cannonade too certainly proved. Anxiously
and vainly we looked for news from the army--none arrived. The
consternation of the people was not to be described. "The cannonade is
approaching nearer!" they exclaimed. "Hark! how loud was that peal!
There, again! Our army must be retreating. Good heavens! what will
become of us!" On every side, in the tones of terror and despondency,
we heard these exclamations repeated. Heard through the density and
stillness of the evening air, the cannonade did, in fact, seem to
approach nearer, and become more tremendous. During the whole evening
we wandered about the Parc, or stood in silence on the ramparts,
listening to the dreadful thunder of the battle. At length it became
less frequent. How often did we hope it had ceased, and vainly flatter
ourselves that each peal was the last! when, again, after an awful
pause, a louder, a longer roar burst on our ears, and it raged more
tremendously than ever. To our great relief, about half-past nine, it
became fainter and fainter, and at last entirely died away.

After we had returned to the hotel, Sir Neil Campbell, who, in our
absence, had been twice at our rooms and in the Parc in search of us,
good-naturedly came again, to tell us that he had met Sir G. Scovell,
who had left the field with orders from Brussels about half-past
five, and that so far "all was well." The French army had encountered
our troops on their march, upon the high road, about fifteen miles
from Brussels. The 92nd and 42nd Highland regiments were the first
in order of march. These brave men immediately made a stand, formed
into squares, received the furious onset of the French with undaunted
intrepidity, and alone sustained the fight, until the Royal Scots,
the 28th, and some other regiments, came up to support them. Every
regiment, as it arrived, instantly formed and fought; and though
the English had been taken by surprise, unprepared, unconcentrated;
without cavalry, and with scarcely any artillery; and, though the enemy
outnumbered them far beyond all computation, they had not yielded an
inch of ground, and they were still fighting in the fullest confidence
of success. "There can be no doubt of their repulsing the French,"
said Colonel Scovell, "but nothing of any importance can be done till
the cavalry come up, which it is expected they will do this evening.
To-morrow the engagement will most probably be renewed, and I hope it
will prove decisive." The Duke, he said, who was in excellent spirits,
was to sleep to-night at Genappe.

Certainly no other troops but the English, without any cavalry, and
with very little artillery, would have thought themselves sure of
repulsing an enemy with both, and with an almost countless superiority
of numbers: and most certainly none but the English could have achieved
it. It is a perversion of words to call the troops engaged in the
battle of Quatre Bras the English army. During the greater part of the
day a few regiments only, a mere handful of men, were opposed to the
immense masses the French continually poured down against them; but
they formed impenetrable squares, which were in vain attacked by the
French cavalry, "steel-clad cuirassiers," and infantry; and against
which tremendous showers of shot and shell descended in vain.

The 92nd, 42nd, 79th, the 28th, the 95th, and the Royal Scots, were
the first, and most hotly, engaged.[9] For several hours these brave
troops alone maintained the tremendous onset, and the shock of the
whole French army, and to their determined valour Belgium owes her
independence, and England her glory. I do not, however, mean to give
them exclusive praise. I do not doubt that had the post of honour
fallen upon other British regiments, they would have acquitted
themselves equally well: but let honour be paid where it is so justly
due. Let England be sensible of the vast debt of gratitude she owes
them; and let the names of those who perished there be enrolled in the
long list of her noblest heroes! The 92nd, 42nd, and 79th Highland
regiments had suffered most severely. They had received the furious
and combined attack of the French cavalry and infantry, from first to
last, with undaunted firmness, till, after supporting this unequal
contest the whole day, after making immense havoc among their columns,
and repeatedly charging and driving them back in confusion, they had
themselves fallen, overpowered by numbers, and among heaps of the
slaughtered enemy, on the very spot where they first stood to arms;
and we were told that they were, almost to a man, cut to pieces. With
grief and horror, not to be described, we thought of these gallant
soldiers whom, in the morning, we had seen march out so proudly to
battle, and who were now lying insensible in death on the plains of
Quatre Bras. They had fought, and they had fallen, as became the
same noble spirits who had wrested from the same vaunting foe the
standard of the Invincibles on the sands of Egypt. They were gallantly
supported by the 28th, who, on the same soil, as well as in the long
campaigns of Spain, had gained immortal honour, and who particularly
distinguished themselves in this day's battle by their complete repulse
of the French cuirassiers, who, though clad in mail, and "armed at
all points precisely cap-à-pie," were driven back with immense loss
from every attack, and uniformly gave way before the dreaded British
charge with the bayonet. One regiment of raw Belgic troops had turned
and fled where they had the finest opportunity of charging. I confess
I was not sorry to hear that these recreant Belgians had, almost to a
man, been cut to pieces by the very French troops they had not courage
to face. The fate of cowards is unpitied. The consequences of their
misconduct had, however, been retrieved by part of Sir Thomas Picton's
division,[10] which regained the post they had lost, though with
considerable slaughter.

After hearing this account our spirits completely revived, I scarcely
knew why; for, except in the new proof we had just had of invincible
British valour and firmness, there was nothing to inspire satisfaction
or confidence. We had just learned, beyond all doubt, the truth of
the alarming report, that the Prussians were separately engaged with
another division of the enemy, which completely outnumbered them. Thus
the allied armies seemed to be effectually cut off, and prevented from
assisting each other, or acting in concert. The French then, whose
combined numbers report magnified to 180,000, were on two sides of
us, at the distance of only three hours' march from Brussels. Their
army was collected, combined, concentrated, and well-appointed. The
Prussians and the English were surprised, separated, dispersed, and
unprepared; the latter were destitute of cavalry, ill-supported by
artillery, and with an appalling inferiority even of infantry; and
these too partly composed of Belgians, who seemed to make a practice
of running away. Yet, in spite of all these disadvantages, they _had_
bravely stood the first brunt of the battle, and we felt the firm
assurance that they would eventually triumph.

Colonel Scovell had left the army at half-past five; the battle, or at
least the cannonading, had lasted till about ten; and our anxiety to
know its results, our impatience for further news from the army, may be
imagined; but no later intelligence arrived; we could hear nothing but
vague reports of defeat, disaster, and dismay, to which, as they were
founded upon no authority, we paid no attention. Sir Neil Campbell was
going to join the army, like many others who had no business there:--he
was to set off at one in the morning, so that we should see him no
more, and what was infinitely worse, receive no more, through him,
immediate and authentic intelligence of all that was known. In this
respect he was a great loss to us; for he was indefatigable in bringing
us news, and took unwearied pains to be of use to us in every possible

Late as it was we went to see Mrs. H., whom we knew to be in great
alarm. We found her sitting surrounded by plate, which she was vainly
trying to acquire sufficient composure to pack up, with a face pale
with consternation, and quite overcome with agitation and distress.
We did all we could to assist, and said all we could to console and
reassure her. Mr. H. had gone out towards the army, and, late as it
was, had not yet returned. We stayed with her some time, and had the
satisfaction of leaving her in much better spirits than we found her.

My brother had engaged, and made an agreement to pay for, horses, upon
the condition of their being in readiness to convey us to Antwerp at a
moment's warning, by day or night, if required. We had not, however,
the smallest intention of leaving Brussels for some days to come,
unless some sudden and unexpected change in public events should
render it absolutely necessary. Thinking it, however, prudent to be
prepared, we had sent our valet de place to la blanchisseuse to desire
her to send home everything belonging to us early in the morning. La
blanchisseuse sent back a message literally to this effect,--"Madame,"
said the valet, addressing himself to me in French, "the blanchisseuse
says, that if the English should beat the French, she will iron and
plait your clothes, and finish them for you; but if, au contraire,
these vile French should get the better, then she will assuredly send
them all back quite wet--tout mouillé--early to-morrow morning." At
this speech, which the valet delivered with immoveable gravity, we
all, with one accord, burst out a laughing, irresistibly amused to find
that amongst the important consequences of Buonaparte's gaining the
victory, would be our clothes remaining unplaited and unironed; and
that the British were, in a manner, fighting, in order that the getting
up of our fine linen might be properly performed. The valet, as soon
as he could obtain a hearing, went on to say, that he sincerely hoped
we should get our clothes dried and finished, and that the English
would beat "ces diables de Français;" but this seemed quite a secondary
consideration with the valet, compared with ironing our clothes, and
we were again seized with an uncontrollable fit of laughter. Even the
valet's long face of dismay relaxed into something like a smile, and,
as he left the room, he said to himself, "Mais ces demoiselles sont
bien enjouées."

It was half-past twelve; and hopeless now of hearing any further news
from the army, we were preparing to retire to rest--but rest was a
blessing we were not destined to enjoy in Brussels. We were suddenly
startled by the sound of the rapid rolling of heavy military carriages
passing at full speed through the Place Royale:--a great tumult
instantly took place among the people below; the baggage waggons,
which we knew were not to set off, except in a case of emergency, were
harnessed in an instant, and the noise and tumult became every instant
more alarming. For some minutes we listened in silence: faster and
faster, and louder and louder, the long train of artillery continued to
roll through the town:--the cries of the affrighted people increased.
I hastily flew out to inquire the cause of this violent commotion. The
first person I encountered was a poor, scared fille de chambre, nearly
frightened out of her wits. "Ah, madame!" she exclaimed, "les François
sont tout près; dans une petite demi-heure ils seront ici.--Ah, grand
Dieu! Ah, Jésus! Jésus! que ferons-nous! que ferons-nous!" In vain
I eagerly asked how she knew, or why she believed, or from whence
this news came, that the French were near? She could only reiterate,
again and again, "Les François sont tout près--les François sont
tout près!" my questions were unanswered and unheard; but suddenly
recollecting herself, she earnestly besought us to set off instantly,
exclaiming, "Mais, mesdames, vous êtes Anglaises--il faut partir tout
de suite--_tout de suite_," she repeated, with great emphasis and
gesticulation, and then resumed her exclamations and lamentations.

As I flew down stairs the house seemed deserted. The doors of the rooms
(which in foreign hotels are not only shut, but locked) were all wide
open; the candles were burning upon the tables, and the solitude and
silence which reigned in the house formed a fearful contrast to the
increasing tumult without. At the bottom of the staircase a group of
affrighted Belgians were assembled, all crowding and talking together
with Belgic volubility. They cried out that news had arrived of the
battle having terminated in the defeat of the British; that all the
artillery and baggage of the army were retreating; and that a party
of Belgians had just entered the town, bringing intelligence that a
large body of French had been seen advancing through the woods to
take Brussels, and that they were only two leagues off. In answer to
my doubts and my questions, they all exclaimed, "Ah! c'est trop vrai;
c'est trop vrai. Ne restez pas ici, mademoiselle, ne restez pas ici;
partez, éloignez vous vîte: c'est affreux!"

"Mais demain matin----" I began.

"Ah! demain matin," eagerly interrupted a little good-humoured Belgic
woman belonging to the hotel--"demain matin il n'y aura pas plus le
tems--une autre heure peut-être, et il ne sera pas plus possible de
partir." "Ecoutez, mademoiselle, écoutez!" they cried, turning paler
and paler as the thundering noise of the artillery increased. At this
moment several people, among whom were some English gentlemen and
servants, rushed past us to the stables, calling for their carriages
to be got ready instantly. "Apprêtes les chevaux, tout de suite--Vite!
vite! il n'a pas un moment!" was loudly repeated in all the hurry of
fear. These people confirmed the alarm. I sent for our côcher, and most
reluctantly we began to think that we must set off; when we found, to
our inexpressible joy, that the long trains of artillery, which still
continued to roll past with the noise of thunder, were not flying from
the army, but advancing to join it. It is impossible to conceive the
blessed relief this intelligence gave us. From that moment we felt
assured that the army was safe, and our fears for ourselves were at
an end. My brother, who had been roused from his sleep, and who, like
many other people, had been running about half-dressed, and was still
standing in his nightcap, in much perplexity what to do, now went to
bed again with great joy, declaring he was resolved to disturb himself
no more about these foolish alarms.

We were now perfectly incredulous as to the whole story of the French
having been seen advancing through the woods to take Brussels; but the
Belgians still remained convinced of it; and though they differed about
how it would be done, they all agreed that Brussels would be taken.
Some of them said that the British, and some that the Prussians, had
been defeated, and some that both of them had been defeated, and
that the French, having broken through their lines, were advancing
to take Brussels; others believed that Buonaparte, while he kept the
allies employed, had sent round a detachment, under cover of night,
by a circuitous route, to surprise the town; but it seemed to be the
general opinion, that before morning the French would be here. The
town was wholly undefended, either by troops or fortifications; it
was well known to be Napoleon's great object to get possession of it,
and that he would leave no means untried to effect it. The battle had
been fought against the most fearful disparity of numbers, and under
the most disadvantageous circumstances to the British. Its event
still remained unknown; above all, no intelligence from our army had
arrived. Under such circumstances it was not surprising that the
general despondency should be so great; while continual rumours of
defeat, disaster, and dismay, and incessant alarms, only served to
confirm their worst fears. As the French, however, had not yet come,
this panic in some degree subsided, and comparative quietness seemed
to be restored. Great alarm, however, continued to prevail through
the whole night, and the baggage waggons stood ready harnessed to
set off at a moment's notice. Several persons took their departure,
but we quietly went to bed. My sister, however, only lay down in her
clothes, observing, half in jest, and half in earnest, that we might,
perhaps, be awakened by the entrance of the French; and overcome with
fatigue, we both fell fast asleep. Her prediction seemed to be actually
verified, for at six o'clock we were roused by a violent knocking at
the room-door, accompanied by the cries of "Les François sont ici! les
François sont ici!" Starting out of bed, the first sight we beheld from
the window was a troop of Belgic cavalry galloping from the army at the
most furious rate, through the Place Royale, as if the French were at
their heels; and instantly the whole train of baggage waggons and empty
carts, which had stood before our eyes so long, set off, full speed,
by the Montagne de la Cour, and through every street by which it was
possible to effect their escape. In an instant the whole great square
of the Place Royale, which had been crowded with men, horses, carts,
and carriages, was completely cleared, as if by magic, and entirely
deserted. The terrified people fled in every direction, as if for
their lives. While my sister, who had never undressed, flew to rouse
my brother, and I threw on my clothes I scarcely knew how; I heard
again the dreadful cries of "Les François sont ici! Ils s'emparent de
la porte de la ville!" My toilet, I am quite certain, did not occupy
one minute; and as I flew down stairs, in the hope that it might yet
be possible to effect our escape, I met numbers of bewildered-looking
people running about half-dressed in every direction, in all the
distraction of fear. The men with their nightcaps on, and half their
clothes under their arms; the women with their dishevelled hair
hanging about their shoulders, and all of them pale as death, and
trembling in every limb. Some were flying down stairs loaded with all
sorts of packages; others running up to the garrets sinking under
the accumulated weight of the most heterogeneous articles. The poor
fille de chambre, nearly frightened out of her senses, was standing
half-way down the stairs, wringing her hands, and unable to articulate
anything but "Les François! les François!" A little lower, another
woman was crying bitterly, and exclaimed, as I passed her, "Nous
sommes tous perdus!" But no language can do justice to the scene of
confusion which the court below exhibited: masters and servants, ladies
and stable-boys, valets and soldiers, lords and beggars; Dutchmen,
Belgians, and Britons; bewildered garçons and scared filles de chambre;
enraged gentlemen and clamorous coachmen; all crowded together,
jostling, crying, scolding, squabbling, lamenting, exclaiming,
imploring, swearing, and vociferating, in French, English, and Flemish,
all at the same time. Nor was it only a war of words; the disputants
had speedily recourse to blows, and those who could not get horses by
fair means endeavoured to obtain them by foul. The unresisting animals
were dragged away half-harnessed. The carriages were seized by force,
and jammed against each other. Amidst the crash of wheels, the volleys
of oaths, and the confusion of tongues, the mistress of the hotel, with
a countenance dressed in woe, was carrying off her most valuable plate
in order to secure it, ejaculating, as she went, the name of Jesus
incessantly, and, I believe, unconsciously; while the master, with a
red nightcap on his head, and the eternal pipe sticking mechanically
out of one corner of his mouth, was standing with his hands in his
pockets, a silent statue of despair.

Amidst this uproar I soon found out our côcher, but, to my utter
consternation, he vehemently swore, "that he would neither go himself,
nor let his horses go; no, not to save the King of Holland himself; for
that the French were just at hand, and that they would take his horses,
and murder him:" and neither entreaties, nor bribes, nor arguments,
nor persuasions, had the smallest effect upon him; he remained
inexorable, and so did numbers of the fraternity. While my brother,
who had now come down stairs, was vainly and angrily expostulating
with him, I inquired on all sides, and of all people, if there was no
possibility of procuring other horses. The good-natured garçon of the
house exclaimed, "That if there were horses to be had in Brussels, I
should have them;" and away he ran in quest of them, while I continued
my fruitless inquiries. In a little while he returned disappointed and
unsuccessful, exclaiming, with a face of horror that I shall never
forget, "Il n'y a pas un seul cheval, et les François sont tout près
de la ville." At this moment in rushed Mr. H., in an agony of terror,
panting, breathless, and exhausted, crying to us "that his carriage
was ready, that they could carry one of us, and that we must come away
instantly." It was to no purpose both he and I implored my sister to
accompany them, but she was inflexible. Nothing could induce her to
go without us, and, finding she was immoveable, Mr. H. ran off with
the good-natured intention of taking Lady W., since we refused to go
singly. With incredible expedition, one English carriage after another
drove off at full speed, and we were left to our fate. Of the rapid
approach of the enemy we could not entertain the smallest doubt. To
say I was frightened is nothing: I honestly confess I never knew what
terror was before. Never shall I forget the horror of those moments.
Our own immediate danger, and all the dreadful list of uncertain,
undefined evils to which we might be exposed, in the power of those
merciless savages; the anxiety, the distress, and despair of our
friends at home, joined to the dreadful idea that the English army had
been overwhelmed by numbers, defeated, perhaps cut to pieces, agonised
my mind with feelings which it is impossible to describe. Escape
seemed, however, impossible: like Richard, I would have gladly given my
kingdom (if I had had one) for a horse, or at least for a pair; but no
horses were to be had, neither for love, money, nor kingdoms.

In the midst of this state of terror and suspense, I suddenly beheld
Major Wylie. If an angel had descended from heaven I could not have
welcomed him with more transport. Hope revived: and, springing
forward to meet him, I exclaimed: "Oh! Major Wylie, is it true?" His
countenance inspired little comfort; he looked pale, and struck with
horror and consternation. "God forbid!" he exclaimed: "I hope not. I
do not believe it; but I am going to inquire, and I will come back
to you immediately." He wrung my hand, and hurried away. In the mean
time I flew up-stairs to collect all our things, and bundle them
together, to be ready for instant departure, if we should be able to
procure horses. Never was packing more expeditiously performed: I am
certain it did not occupy anything like three minutes. With the help
of the valet de place, I crammed them all together, wet and dry, into
the travelling-bags, trunks, and portmanteaus, without the smallest

Every minute seemed to be an age, till at last Major Wylie returned
with the blessed assurance that it was a false alarm; "that for the
present, at least, we were in no danger." It is quite impossible to
give the smallest idea of the transport we felt when we found that
the enemy were not at hand, that our army was not defeated, and that
we ourselves were not in the power of the French. I never can forget
the ecstasy of that moment--the bliss of that deliverance, and the
inexpressible comfort of those feelings of safety which we now enjoyed.
No fabled spirit, emerging from the dark and dismal regions of Pluto
to the brightness and beauty of the Elysian Fields, could feel more
transporting joy than we did when "the spectre forms of terror" fled,
and we felt secure from every danger. From two English gentlemen, and
lastly from Lord C., we received a confirmation of these happy tidings.
The alarm had been raised by those dastardly Belgians whom we had seen
scampering through the town, and who had most probably been terrified
by the same foraging party of the enemy which, as we were afterwards
told, had come up even to the gates of the city, insolently summoning
it to surrender. They were supposed to have come from the side of the
Prussians; and, knowing the defenceless state of Brussels, amused
themselves with this bravado. Their appearance had confirmed the alarm
beyond all doubt, and given rise to the dreadful cry that the French
were seizing on the gates of the town. The panic had indeed been
dreadful, but it was now happily over.

Major Wylie again attempted to go to the Place Royale, but he was
instantly surrounded by a clamorous multitude, who, knowing him by his
dress to be an aide-de-camp of the Duke, angrily exclaimed, "What is
the reason that nothing is done for our security? Are we to be left
here abandoned to the enemy? Are we to be given up to the French in
this way? Why is not the City Guard ordered out to defend the town?"
(The City Guard to defend the town from the French!) We could not
help laughing at the idea of the excellent defence the City Guard of
Brussels would make against the French army. But the frightened and
enraged Belgians could not be pacified, and they beset poor Major
Wylie so unmercifully that he was fain to retreat again within the
Hôtel de Flandre.

He told us that the battle of yesterday had been severe, and most
obstinately contested. The French, whose superiority of force was so
great as to surpass all computation, had borne down with dreadful
impetuosity upon our little army. "During all his campaigns, and all
the bloody battles of the Peninsula," Major Wylie said, "he had never
seen so terrible an onset, nor so desperate an engagement. The British,
formed into impenetrable squares, received the French cavalry with
their bayonets; drove them back again and again; stood firm beneath
the fire of their tremendous artillery; and, after many hours' hard
fighting, completely repulsed the enemy, and remained masters of the
field of battle." Our cavalry had come up in the evening, but too late
to take any part in the action. A French general and colonel had come
over to the British during the battle, crying "Vive le Roi!" Their
names I heard, but they have since escaped my memory:[11] indeed, the
names of men who were base enough treacherously to desert the cause
even of a rebel and a tyrant in the hour of danger, which they had
openly espoused, ought only to be stamped with everlasting infamy.
These men must have been doubly traitors, first to Louis XVIII., and
then to Napoleon Buonaparte.

The French were commanded by Marshal Ney,[12] who, with three
divisions of infantry, a strong corps of cavalry (under the command of
General Kellerman), and a powerful artillery, could make no impression
on one division of British infantry, without any cavalry, and with
very little artillery. It was but too true that the greatest part of
the brave Highlanders, both men and officers, were amongst the killed
and wounded. They fought like heroes, and like heroes they fell--an
honour to their country: and on many a Highland hill, and through many
a Lowland valley, long will the deeds of these brave men be fondly
remembered, and their fate deeply deplored! The 28th had particularly
distinguished themselves, and gallantly repulsed the French in every
attack. Our friend Major Llewellyn was safe; and I scarcely knew
whether the assurance of his safety, or that he and Sir Philip Belson
had been in time for the battle, gave me the most heartfelt pleasure.
Our loss had been severe, but that of the enemy much greater; but
though our loss was less in actual numbers, it was much more important
to us than that which the enemy had sustained was to them. From their
great superiority of force, the killed and wounded fell proportionably
heavier on our small army, while theirs was scarcely felt among their
tremendous hosts.

When Major Wylie came away, about half-past four in the morning, the
Duke had made every disposition for battle, in the full expectation
that a general engagement would take place this day.[13] "The Prussians
had fought like lions," Major Wylie said; not, however, like British
lions, for it was but too true that they had been defeated and
repulsed, though we could scarcely at the time give entire credit
to this disagreeable news. Waggon-loads of Prussians now began to
arrive. Belgic soldiers, covered with dust and blood, and faint with
fatigue and pain, came on foot into the town. The moment in which I
first saw some of these unfortunate people was, I think, one of the
most painful I ever experienced, and soon, very soon, they arrived in
numbers. At every jolt of the slow waggons upon the rough pavement we
seemed to feel the excruciating pain which they must suffer. Sick to
the very heart with horror, I re-entered the hotel, and, in answer
to something Major Wylie said to me, I could only exclaim that the
wounded were coming in. "Good God! how pale you look! For God's sake
do not be alarmed," said the good-natured Major Wylie, compassionately
laying his hand upon my arm; "I do assure you there is nothing to fear.
The wounded must come here at any rate--it has nothing to do with a
defeat." Long familiarised himself to such scenes, they now made no
impression upon him, and it never occurred to him to imagine that we
could be shocked by seeing anything so common as waggons filled with
wounded soldiers. He thought it was the victory or the approach of the
French that I feared.

Again, however, he strongly recommended us to set off immediately.
If the army should have to retreat, and fall back upon Brussels,
which, considering the immense force of the enemy, he said, was not
improbable, the confusion in Brussels would be dreadful, and escape
impossible. The French might even take the town, and then our situation
would be horrible indeed. Of the prudence and wisdom of this advice
there could be no doubt. We had experienced the utter impracticability
of getting away in the moment of danger; we knew not how soon that
moment might return. Had we ourselves possessed the means of escape,
like Mr. and Mrs. H. and others, who had horses of their own, nothing
could have induced us to have left Brussels to the last; but to remain
exposed to incessant alarm and to imminent danger, in an open town,
which before night might be in possession of a merciless enemy, whose
formidable armies were threatening it in two separate divisions, at
the distance of a very few leagues, seemed certainly little less than
madness. With extreme reluctance we at last determined to set out for
Antwerp. The Wilsons, though they had carriage-horses, were on the
point of setting off; the carriages of Lady F.S. and Lady C. were also
at their doors, the trunks and imperiales were tying on with the utmost
dispatch, though they had at all times the means of escape within their

Our faithless côcher now declared he was willing to go with us, as the
French, he said, were not _yet_ come--and to Antwerp accordingly we
consented to repair. We had had no breakfast all this time, nor would
it ever have occurred to us to procure any, had not the sight of Major
Wylie's breakfast-tray reminded us of our own famishing state. We
swallowed some coffee and bread, sitting on one of the window-seats of
the staircase of the Hôtel de Flandre, and then with great regret set
off, casting "many a longing, lingering look behind," with feelings of
anxiety so deep and overwhelming for the fate and success of our army,
that it engrossed all our faculties. Upon the event of the impending
battle, which we fully believed this very day was to decide, depended
not only the present as well as the future peace and security of
Belgium and of Europe; but, what I confess was to us even yet more
dear, the safety and the glory of our gallant army. Absorbed in these
reflections, as we slowly made our way out of the town, we witnessed
many a melancholy sight; crowds of afflicted people were assembled
round their poor wounded countrymen who had been brought in from the
field. One soldier was dying at the door of his own house: the sobs
and lamentations of some of the crowd who were collected round him,
and the grief marked on their countenances, proclaimed them to be near
relations of the unfortunate sufferer. Quite in the suburbs, some
poor people were hanging over the insensible corpses of two soldiers
who had died of their wounds. The streets were crowded so as to be
scarcely passable: carriages were driving past each other as fast as
the horses could go. All Brussels seemed to be running away; and the
only competition appeared to be who should run the fastest. The road
was thronged with people on horseback and on foot flying from the
battle, while scattered parties of troops, British, Belgic, Hanoverian,
Nassau, and Prussian, were hurrying to the scene of action. A great
number of Prussian Lancers, with their black mustachios, high caps,
long pikes, and little horses, were pushing forwards to the field. Long
trains of commissariat waggons were rolling along with a deafening
clatter; overturned carts, and the remains of broken wheels, were
lying in the ditches. By the wayside, and beneath the shade of some
tall trees, there was a large rude sort of encampment, consisting of
men and women, horses and waggons, amongst which universal uproar
seemed to prevail. I could have fancied them a Tartar settlement in
the act of suddenly decamping at the approach of some horde of savage
enemies. Farther on, parks of artillery were drawn up in the peaceful
verdant meadows. Droves of oxen were going up to be slaughtered for
the army, and the poor beasts, amazed at the horrid objects and noises
which they encountered, took fright, and ran about in every direction
except the right one, entirely blocking up the road, where confusion
reigned unbounded: while the barking of the dogs, the blows and halloos
of the drivers, the curses of the soldiers, and the vexation of the
passengers, only served to increase the turbulence of the unruly
cattle. The canal, by the side of which the road is carried, was
covered with boats, and trackschuyts, and côches d'eau, and vessels
of every description, and presented a scene of tumult and confusion
scarcely inferior to that upon land.

About three miles from Brussels, situated upon an eminence above the
road, we passed the magnificent palace of Lacken. I shuddered as I
looked up to its lofty dome, and recollected that Napoleon had made the
boast that this very night he would sleep beneath its roof. Uncertain,
as we then were, how the day that had risen might terminate, believing
as we did that the eventful battle was even now begun which was to
decide the fate of Europe, my heart swelled with the proud confidence,
that unprepared, unconcentrated, outnumbered as they were; leagued
with foreigners who could not be depended upon, and with allies who
had been defeated, yet that under every disadvantage British valour
would still be triumphant, as it had ever been in every contest, and at
every period. Great numbers of wounded stragglers from the field were
slowly and painfully wandering along the road, pale and faint from loss
of blood, and with their heads, arms, and legs bound up with bloody
bandages. We spoke to several of them, but they were all either Belgic
or Prussian, and did not understand a word of French. Two of the most
severely wounded we took upon our carriage and carried into Malines,
where they told the côcher their friends lived. From him we learnt
that they had been wounded in the battle yesterday morning. I saw--I
am sorry to say--one young English gentleman, who was travelling quite
alone in his own carriage, sternly order down two of these unfortunate
wounded men from his carriage.

The wounded, however, whom we saw, were able to move. In time they
would reach a place of safety and shelter; but, if even their
sufferings were so great that the very sight of them was painful,
what must be the state of those who were left bleeding on the field
of the lost battle, deserted by the retreating Prussians, passed by,
unpitied and unaided, by the advancing French, and abandoned to perish
in sufferings from the bare idea of which humanity recoils![14] The
day was unusually sultry; but if we felt the rays of the sun beneath
which we journeyed to be so oppressive, what must be the situation of
the poor unsheltered wounded, exposed to its fervid blaze in the open
field, without even a drop of water to cool their thirst? What must be
the sufferings of our own unfortunate men, above all, of those who
were not only wounded but prisoners, and at the mercy of the merciless
French? Never--never till this moment, had I any conception of the
horrors of war! and they have left an impression on my mind which no
time can efface. Dreadful, indeed, is the sight of pain and misery
we have no power to relieve, but far more dreadful are the horrors
imagination pictures of the scene of carnage; the agonies of the
wounded and the dying on the field of battle, where even the dead who
had fallen by the sword, in the prime of youth and health, are to be
envied!--the thought was agony, and yet I could not banish it from my

At a little inn, half-way to Malines, we got out of the carriage while
the horses were eating their rye-bread, and the poor people of the
village crowded around us with faces of the greatest consternation and
distress, to inquire what had happened. They had heard such varying
and contradictory reports that they knew not what to believe, but
terror was the predominant feeling; and their horror of the approach
of the French, which they were convinced would happen sooner or later,
surpassed everything I could have imagined. In spite of all we could
say to inspire confidence, and to convince them that the English had
been, and would still be, victorious, and that the French would never
again be masters of Belgium, their apprehensions completely overpowered
their hopes; and their alarm and consternation were truly pitiable. I
asked them why they feared the French so much? With one accord they
immediately burst out into exclamations, that they would plunder and
destroy everything, and rob and murder them;--that they were monsters,
who had no pity, and would show no mercy:--"Oh! what will become
of us! what will become of us!" was the universal cry of these poor
affrighted peasants. They were anxious about the Duke of Brunswick,
and when they heard that he had really fallen (which we had learnt
from Major Wylie), their lamentations were great, and the certainty
of his fate seemed to increase their despondency. He must have been a
good prince whose fate could at such a moment be deplored. He had a
country seat in the neighbourhood of Lacken, and he was consequently
well known and much beloved in this part of the country. An officer
in a dark military great coat, whom I took for a German, hearing me
talk to some poor affrighted women with babies in their arms, whom I
was endeavouring to reassure, asked me in French if I had come from
Brussels, and what was the issue of yesterday's battle? I told him
all the particulars I knew, and after some minutes' conversation,
he said at last, with the air of a person paying a compliment, that
he understood _some_ of my countrymen had behaved most gallantly:
"comme braves hommes," was his expression. "Some of my countrymen!"
I indignantly exclaimed, feeling myself turn as red as fire at this
foreigner's degrading and partial praise of the British army--"they all
behaved most gallantly, they fought like heroes; how else should the
French have been repulsed: and when did the English behave otherwise?"
"The English! but you are not English surely, madame?" said the
officer. "Oui, monsieur," said I, proudly, "je suis Anglaise." "Et
moi aussi," said he, half laughing; and during the short time our
conversation lasted, we condescended to make use of our mother-tongue.
He proved to be an English officer going from Antwerp to join the army,
and I took him for a German, chiefly I think because he accosted me
in French, and because he did not look much like an Englishman. Why
he took me for a Belgian, heaven only knows: it was not likely that a
Belgic lady should be speaking in French to the Belgic people, rather
than in the common language of the country.

A party of Nassau troops, on their way to the army, were sitting
drinking in some long Flemish waggons at the door of the inn. A
Prussian hussar, whom we had passed on the road, arrived while we were
there. The moment he dismounted from his horse he was assailed by the
Nassau soldiers for news of the battle. While he was telling them his
story, anxiety for intelligence made me draw as near as I durst. The
loud voices of the soldiers, however, drowned the greater part of his
recital, and their language was so barbarous that I could only make
out that they were making a joke of Louis XVIII., and laughing at the
idea of the fright he would be in, and saying, that he was so fat and
unwieldy he would never be able to run away before Napoleon's long
legs overtook him. The hussar, seeing me, I suppose, gazing at him
very wistfully, respectfully took off his cap, which encouraged me to
ask him if I had not misunderstood him, that I thought I had heard him
say the French had beaten the Prussians. "No, madame," said he, with
an air of great concern, "it is really so; the French have beaten the
Prussians." "The French beat the Prussians!" I exclaimed: "Did you say,
sir, that the French had beaten the Prussians? are you sure of it?"
"Too sure, madame, for I was in the battle." I now perceived for the
first time that he was slightly wounded; his long blue cloak, which
nearly descended to his feet, had concealed it. He told us that, after
a desperate engagement, the Prussians had been repulsed and compelled
to retreat, and that the French were advancing in great force. We had
repeatedly heard this at Brussels; but, unwilling to believe bad news,
we had hoped it would prove false, and even yet we would gladly have
taken refuge in incredulity.

The garçon of this inn, a fine youth, with a most engaging countenance,
was in great anxiety and alarm at the approach of the French, and he
implored us to tell him the whole truth; for if they should come, it
would cost him his life, and he would fly to the end of the world to
avoid them. We assured him that the French had been repulsed yesterday
by the British, when our force was not half collected, and that, now
that the cavalry and all the troops had joined the army, there could
be no doubt that the English would be victorious. "Ah! je l'espère!"
said the garçon; "mais ils sont terribles, ces François." We assured
him that terrible as they were, they would never conquer the British
and Belgic army, nor regain possession of Belgium. The garçon fervently
prayed they never might:--"Mais, je ne sais quoi faire, moi," said this
poor youth in his Belgic French, with a face of extreme perplexity, as
we drove off.

Of the town of Malines I do not retain the smallest remembrance; but
the consternation of the people with whom it was crowded, and their
faces of terror and distress, I shall never forget. They were struck
with universal dismay, and so thoroughly convinced that Napoleon
would be victorious, that we might as well have talked to the winds
as have told them that he would be defeated. They only shook their
heads, and despondingly said: "Ah! he has so many soldiers, and he is
so desperate--and he cares not how many thousands he sacrifices; he
cares for nothing but his ambition:--Oh! he will be here, that is
too certain." The garçon of this inn had been a conscript, and served
two years in the French army. At the expiration of that period he had
procured a substitute for one thousand florins, which money, I suspect,
he had amassed by plunder. He was, however, a most intelligent man,
and his hatred of the French, and of Napoleon in particular, was so
strong, that he could not refrain from pouring out a most eloquent
torrent of invective against him: "And throughout the whole of Belgium
he is equally dreaded and detested in every place--except at Antwerp,"
added he, correcting himself; "there he has some adherents, for many
people grew rich by the public works, and by making the docks, and
building the ships, and supplying the arsenal; and many grew rich upon
the distresses of the people--and therefore they wish for him back
again." My brother observed that he had certainly done a great deal for
Antwerp, and made great improvements, and he particularly mentioned the
docks and the quays.

"Yes! he did a great many fine things, to be sure, at Antwerp, and
he took care to make us pay for them. Au reste," continued he, "the
people of Antwerp, that is, the merchants and the manufacturers, and
all the decent, industrious people, hate him with their whole hearts."
"And why do the Belgians hate him so much?" I asked. "Why! because he
stopped our trade; he ruined our manufactures and commerce; he took
our men to fight his battles, and our money to fill his pockets; and
he took from us the means to get money: here, in this very town, the
lace manufacturers were starved; the work-women had no employment;
our streets were filled with beggars; our priests were insulted: he
destroyed, he consumed everything." "Il a mangé tout," was the phrase
he frequently repeated, with an expression of hatred in his voice
and gesture so strong that I can give no idea of it. "But he cannot
live without war, nor can the French; it is their trade; they live
by it; they make their fortunes by it; they place all their hopes in
it; they are wolves that prey upon other nations; they live by blood
and plunder: they are true banditti (vrais brigands), and they are so
cruel, so wicked--ils sont si méchans." It is impossible to give the
force of this expression in a literal translation. When we asked him if
the Belgians did not dislike the Dutch, and if the government of the
House of Orange was not unpopular, he said, "Je vous dirai, monsieur:
Les Hollandais et les Belges never liked each other, and one great
reason is the difference of our religion. They think us Papists and
bigots, and we think them Puritans and Calvinists; besides, we were
always rivals, and always jealous of each other, and we think (c'est à
dire les Belges) that their king becoming our king, is, as if we had
fallen under their dominion. If we may not be an independent nation,
we would, perhaps, rather belong to the English, or to the Austrians;
but we would rather belong to anything--to the devil himself--than to
Napoleon Buonaparte."

The poor lace-makers whom we saw were in nervous trepidation at the
expected approach of the dreaded French, whom they reviled with all
the bitterness and volubility of female eloquence. The same sentiments
were written upon every countenance, and uttered by every tongue. In
every village and every hamlet through which we passed, the utmost
consternation seemed to reign. We met officers on horseback, and
detachments of troops marching to join the army. It was with difficulty
I refrained from beseeching them to hasten forwards: it seemed to me
that every man was of importance. At another time I might have been
interested with seeing the country; but now--I could not look at it--I
could not think of it; and as my eye rested with a vacant gaze upon
the waving fields of luxuriant corn through which we passed, I could
only feel the heart-sickening dread, that the harvests of Belgium,
though they had been sown in peace, would be reaped in blood. We had
every reason to think that the mortal struggle had been renewed;
Lord Wellington himself, the whole army expected it. How then was it
possible, believing, as we did, that, within a few leagues of us, the
battle was at that time raging that was to decide the fate of Europe,
and give or take from our gallant countrymen the palm of victory and of
glory--that we could for a single instant feel the smallest interest
about anything else?

At a distance, we saw the lofty spire of the cathedral of Antwerp,
without _then_ admiring its beauty, or even being conscious that it
was beautiful. We looked, we felt, indeed, like moving automatons. Our
persons were there, but our minds were absent. Every step we took only
seemed to increase our solicitude for all we left behind. Our thoughts
still to the battle

                "turned with ceaseless pain,
  And dragged at each remove a lengthening chain."

A tremendous storm of thunder and lightning and rain burst over our
heads. It was peculiarly awful. But what are the thunder and lightnings
of heaven to the thunder and lightnings of war, which, perhaps, at
this very moment, were sweeping away thousands! The thunderbolts of
God are merciful and harmless; those of men deadly and destructive. We
thought of this storm, as of everything else, only with reference to
our army--to those who were fighting, and those who were bleeding on
the field of battle, and who were exposed unsheltered to its rage.

We gazed with admiration at the threatening walls and ancient
battlements of Antwerp, which are encircled with a wooden palisade.
This seemed a complete work of supererogation, and struck me as
being something like putting a strong box of iron into a band-box of
pasteboard for further security.[15] Three walls of immense strength
and thickness, surrounded by three broad deep ditches or moats, lay
one behind another. To an ignorant, unpractised eye like mine, its
fortifications seemed to be impregnable; and as we passed under its
gloomy gates, and slowly crossed its sounding draw-bridges, I heartily
wished that the whole British army were safe within its walls.--This
was certainly more "a woman's than a warrior's wish." Antwerp was
already crowded with fugitives from Brussels; and with considerable
difficulty we got the accommodation of two very small rooms in the
hotel of Le Grand Laboureur, in the Place de Maire.

No later authentic intelligence than that which we had heard previously
to leaving Brussels had been received here; reports of all kinds
assailed us, as quick and varying as the tints of the evening clouds,
but we could learn nothing; the commandant knew nothing; we could not
even ascertain whether another engagement had taken place to-day, and
in miserable suspense we passed the remainder of the evening.

One of the apartments in our hotel was occupied by the corpse of the
Duke of Brunswick, which had arrived about two o'clock. It had been
already embalmed, and was now placed in its first coffin. My brother
went to see it: but the room was so crowded with guards and soldiers,
British and foreign military, and with people of every description,
that neither my sister nor I chose to go. My brother described the
countenance as remarkably placid and noble; serene even in death. It
was past midnight: my brother and sister had gone to rest, and I was
sitting alone, listening to the incessant torrents of rain which drove
furiously against the windows, and thinking of our army, who were lying
on the cold, wet ground, overcome with toil, and exposed to all "the
pelting of the pitiless storm." Everything was silent,--when I heard,
all at once, the dismal sounds of nailing down the coffin of the Duke
of Brunswick. It was a solemn and affecting sound; it was the last
knell of the departed princely warrior: when at length it ceased, and
all again was silent, I went down with the young woman of the house, to
look at the last narrow mansion of this brave and unfortunate prince.
Tapers were burning at the head and foot of the coffin. The room was
now cleared of all, excepting two Brunswick officers who were watching
over it, and whose pale, mournful countenances, sable uniforms, and
black nodding plumes, well accorded with this gloomy chamber of death.
It was but yesterday that this prince, in the flower of life and
fortune, went out to the field full of military ardour, and gloriously
fell in battle, leading on his soldiers to the charge. He was the first
of the noble warriors who fell on the memorable field of Quatre Bras.
But he has lived long enough who has lived to acquire glory: he dies
a noble death who dies for his country. The Duke of Brunswick lived
and died like a hero, and he has left his monument in the hearts of
his people, by whom his fate will be long and deeply lamented; and by
future times his memory will be honoured.

It seemed to be my invariable lot at the dead hour of the night to
be disturbed with some new and terrible alarm. I had not returned
many minutes to my room, after this visit to the remains of departed
greatness, and I was just preparing to go to bed, when I suddenly
heard the well-known hateful sounds of the rolling of heavy military
carriages, passing rapidly through the streets, which were instantly
succeeded by the trampling of horses' feet, the clamour of voices,
and all the hurry of alarm. The streets seemed thronged with people.
Concluding that some news must have arrived, I hastily went out to the
little apartment which the young woman of the house occupied, and where
she told me at any hour she was to be found--but she was gone, and the
noise below was so great, and the men's voices so loud, that I durst
not venture down stairs. I wandered along the passages, and hung over
the balustrades of the staircase, listening to this increasing noise in
a state of the most painful suspense. At last the girl returned with a
countenance of consternation, and pale as death. I eagerly inquired if
there was any news. She said that there was; the very worst;--that all
was lost; that our army had been compelled to retreat, and were falling
back upon Brussels: the French pursuing them. All the English had left
Brussels. People in carriages, on horseback, and on foot, were flying
into Antwerp in the greatest dismay. Baggage waggons, ammunition,
and artillery, were pouring into the town on all sides: and "enfin,
madame," said she, "tout est perdu!"

For a few minutes, consternation overpowered all my faculties.
The English retreating, pursued by the French, overwhelmed by a
tremendous superiority of numbers--our gallant countrymen vainly
sacrificed--the flower of our army laid low--Buonaparte and the French
triumphant!--the thought was not to be borne: till this moment I never
knew the bitterness, the intensity of my detestation of them. It never
occurred to me to doubt that there had been a battle, and it seemed
too probable that its result had been unfavourable to the British. I
hoped, however, that they were only retreating in consequence of their
extreme inferiority of force to the enemy, to wait until they were
joined either by the fresh reinforcements of our own troops which were
expected, or by the Russians. Some experienced officers had thought
this might probably happen, even when the troops first marched out of
Brussels. I recollected Lord Wellington entrenching himself in the
lines of Torres Vedras. I recalled with proud confidence the multiplied
triumphs of my countrymen in arms, and I firmly believed that, whatever
might be the temporary reverses, or appearance of reverse, they would
eventually prove victorious.

But in vain I endeavoured to reassure this poor terrified girl, or
inspire her with the conviction I felt myself, that though the English
might retreat before an overpowering force, against which it would be
madness to keep the field, they only retreated to advance with more
strength; and that when joined by fresh reinforcements they would give
battle, and beat the French; and that with such a general and such an
army, they never had been, and they never could be, defeated.

I succeeded much better in inspiring myself with hope and confidence
than this poor young woman; but all that I myself endured during this
long night of misery is not to be imagined or described. The uncertain
fate of our army, their critical situation, and the dread that some
serious reverse had befallen them, filled my mind with the most
dreadful apprehensions. Worn out as I had been with two successive
nights of sleepless alarm, this news had effectually murdered sleep;
and even when fatigue for a few minutes overpowered my senses, I
started up again with a sense of horror to listen to the beating of
the heavy torrents of rain, and the dismal sounds of alarm which
filled the streets; the rattle of carriages continually driving to the
door, crowded with fugitives who vainly solicited to be taken in, and
drove away utterly at a loss where to find a place of shelter; and
the deafening noise of the rolling of heavy military waggons which,
during the whole night, never ceased a single moment. So deep was the
impression these sounds made upon my senses, so associated had they now
become with feelings of dismay and alarm, that long after every terror
was ended in the glorious certainty of victory, I never could hear
the rattling of these carriages, and the thundering of their wheels,
without a sensation of horror that went to my very heart.

The morning--the eventful morning of Sunday, the 18th of June--rose,
darkened by clouds and mists, and driving rain. Amongst the rest of the
fugitives, our friends, the Hon. Mr. and Mrs. H., arrived about seven
o'clock, and, after considerable difficulty and delay, succeeded in
obtaining a wretched little hole in a private house, with a miserable
pallet bed, and destitute of all other furniture; but they were too
glad to find shelter, and too thankful to get into a place of safety,
to complain of these inconveniences; and overcome with fatigue, they
went immediately to bed. It was not without considerable difficulty
and danger that their carriage had got out of the choked-up streets
of Brussels, and made its way to Malines, where they had been, for a
time, refused shelter. At length, the golden arguments Mr. H. used
obtained for them admittance into a room filled with people of all
sexes, ages, countries, and ranks--French Princes and foreign Counts,
and English Barons, and Right Honourable ladies and gentlemen, together
with a considerable mixture of less dignified beings, were all lying
together, outstretched upon the tables, the chairs, and the floor; some
groaning, and some complaining, and many snoring, and almost all of
them completely drenched with rain. The water streamed from Mr. H.'s
clothes, who had driven his own carriage. In this situation, they, too,
lay down and slept, while their horses rested; and then, at break of
day, pursued their flight. A hundred Napoleons had been vainly offered
for a pair of horses but a few hours after we left Brussels, and the
scene of panic and confusion which it presented on Saturday evening
surpassed all conception. The certainty of the defeat of the Prussians;
of their retreat; and of the retreat of the British army, prepared the
people to expect the worst. Aggravated reports of disaster and dismay
continually succeeded to each other: the despair and lamentations of
the Belgians, the anxiety of the English to learn the fate of their
friends who had been in the battle the preceding day; the dreadful
spectacle of the waggon loads of wounded coming in, and the terrified
fugitives flying out in momentary expectation of the arrival of
the French:--the streets, the roads, the canals covered with boats,
carriages, waggons, horses, and crowds of unfortunate people, flying
from this scene of horror and danger, formed altogether a combination
of tumult, terror, and misery which cannot be described. Numbers, even
of ladies, unable to procure any means of conveyance, set off on foot,
and walked in the dark, beneath the pelting storm, to Malines; and the
distress of the crowds who now filled Antwerp, it is utterly impossible
to conceive. We were, however, soon inexpressibly relieved, by hearing
that there had been no engagement of any consequence the preceding day;
that the British army had fallen back seven miles in order to take up
a position more favourable for the cavalry, and for communication with
the Prussians; that they were now about nine miles from Brussels; and
that a general and, most probably, decisive action would inevitably
take place to-day.

Although it continued to rain, we set out, for to sit still in the
house was impossible, and after passing through several streets, we
went into the cathedral, where high mass was performing, and

  "Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
  The pealing anthem swell'd the note of praise."

For a while its solemn harmony seemed to calm the fever of my mind; it
elevated my thoughts to that God, in whose unerring wisdom and divine
mercy I could alone at this awful moment put my trust, and to Him
"who is the only giver of victory," and at whose command empires rise
and fall, flourish and decay; to Him who alone has power to save and
to destroy, I breathed a silent prayer to bless the British arms, to
shield my brave and heroic countrymen in the hour of danger, and give
to them the success and glory of the battle. Intelligence arrived that
the action had commenced. We were told that the French had attacked the
British this morning at daybreak: the contending armies were actually
engaged, and the last, the dreadful battle was at this very moment

It is impossible for any but those who have actually experienced it to
conceive the dreadful, the overwhelming anxiety of being so near such
eventful scenes, without being actually engaged in them; to know that
within a few leagues the dreadful storm of war is raging in all its
horrors, and the mortal conflict going forward which is to decide the
glory of your country, and the security of the world:--to think that
while you are sitting in passive inactivity, or engaged in the most
trifling occupations, your brave countrymen are fighting and falling in
the uncertain battle, and your friends, and those whose fate you may
deplore through life, perhaps at that very moment breathing their last;
to be surrounded by misery that you cannot console, and sufferings that
you cannot relieve; to wait, to look, to long in vain for intelligence;
to be distracted with a thousand confused and contradictory accounts
without being able to ascertain the truth; to be at one moment
elevated with hope, and the next depressed with fear; to endure the
long-protracted suspense--the deep-wrought feelings of expectation--the
incessant alarms, the ever-varying reports--the dreadful rumours of
evil--Oh! it was a state of misery almost too great, too agonising for
human endurance! Never--never shall I forget the torturing suspense,
the intense anxiety of mind, and agitation of spirit, in which this
day was passed. In the midst of all that could interest the mind and
charm the fancy, and surrounded by all that, at any other time, would
have afforded me the highest gratification, I could neither see, hear,
observe, admire, nor understand anything; I could think of nothing
but the battle. In vain I tried to distract my thoughts, or to force
my attention even for a moment to other things: the situation of our
army, their danger, their success, their sufferings, and their glory,
were for ever present to me. Unable to rest, we wandered mechanically
about the town, regardless of the frequent heavy showers of rain, and
of the deep and dirty streets, anxiously awaiting the arrival of news
from the army--though well aware that for many hours nothing could
be known of the event of the battle. With a view to dissipate our
fruitless anxiety, and as a shelter from the rain, we visited several
cabinets of paintings: but I beheld the noblest works of art, and the
finest monuments of departed genius, with indifference. Not even the
sublime touches, the affecting images, and the unrivalled productions
of Guido, and Raphael, and Rubens; not all the force, the pathos, and
the expression of their powerful genius, could at this moment charm or
even interest me; for I had no power to feel their beauties.

Every faculty of our minds was absorbed in one feeling, one thought,
one interest;--we seemed like bodies without souls. Our persons and our
outward senses were indeed present in Antwerp, but our whole hearts and
souls were with the army.

In the course of our wanderings we met many people whom we knew, and
had much conversation with many whom we did not know. At this momentous
crisis, one feeling actuated every heart--one thought engaged every
tongue--one common interest bound together every human being. All
ranks were confounded; all distinctions levelled; all common forms
neglected. Gentlemen and servants; lords and common soldiers; British
and foreigners, were all upon an equality--elbowing each other without
ceremony, and addressing each other without apology. Ladies accosted
men they had never before seen with eager questions without hesitation;
strangers conversed together like friends, and English reserve seemed
no longer to exist. From morning till night the great Place de Maire
was completely filled with people, standing under umbrellas, and
eagerly watching for news of the battle; so closely packed was this
anxious crowd, that, when viewed from the hotel windows, nothing
could be seen but one compact mass of umbrellas. As the day advanced,
the consternation became greater. The number of terrified fugitives
from Brussels, upon whose faces were marked the deepest anxiety and
distress, and who thronged into the town on horseback and on foot,
increased the general dismay, while long rows of carriages lined the
streets, filled with people who could find no place of shelter.

Troops from the Hanseatic towns marched in to strengthen the garrison
of the city in case of a siege. Long trains of artillery, ammunition,
military stores, and supplies of all sorts incessantly poured in, and
there seemed to be no end of the heavy waggons that rolled through the
streets. Reports more and more gloomy reached our ears; every hour only
served to add to the general despondency. On every side we heard that
the battle was fought under circumstances so disadvantageous to the
British, and against a preponderance of force so overpowering, that
it was impossible it could be won. Long did we resist the depressing
impression these alarming accounts were calculated to make upon our
minds; long did we believe, in spite of every unfavourable appearance,
that the British would be victorious. Towards evening a wounded officer
arrived, bringing intelligence that the onset had been most terrible,
and so immense were the numbers of the enemy, that he "did not
believe it was in the power of man to save the battle." To record the
innumerable false reports we heard spread by the terrified fugitives,
who continually poured into the town from Brussels, would be endless.
At length, after an interval of the most torturing suspense, a wounded
British officer of hussars, scarcely able to sit his horse, and faint
from loss of blood, rode up to the door of the hotel, and told us the
disastrous tidings, that the battle was lost, and that Brussels, by
this time, was in the possession of the enemy. He said, that in all the
battles he had ever been engaged in, he had never witnessed anything at
all equal to the horrors of this. The French had fought with the most
desperate valour, but, when he left the field, they had been repulsed
by the British at every point with immense slaughter: the news of
the defeat had, however, overtaken him on the road; all the baggage
belonging to the army was taken or destroyed, and the confusion among
the French at Vittoria, he said, was nothing to this. He had himself
been passed by panic-struck fugitives from the field, flying for their
lives, and he had been obliged to hurry forward, notwithstanding his
wounds, in order to effect his escape. Two gentlemen from Brussels
corroborated this dreadful account: in an agitation that almost
deprived them of the power of utterance, they declared that when they
came away, Brussels presented the most dreadful scene of tumult,
horror, and confusion; that intelligence had been received of the
complete defeat of the British, and that the French were every moment
expected. The carnage had been most tremendous. The Duke of Wellington,
they said, was severely wounded; Sir Dennis Pack killed; and all our
bravest officers killed, wounded, or prisoners. In vain we inquired,
where, if the battle was lost, where was now, and what had become of
the British army?--"God alone knows," was the answer. The next moment
we heard from a gentleman who had just arrived, that before he left
Brussels, the French had actually entered it; that he had himself seen
a party of them; and another gentleman (apparently an officer) declared
he had been pursued by them more than half way to Malines!

Dreadful was the panic and dismay that now seized the unfortunate
Belgians, and in the most piercing tones of horror and despair they
cried out, that the French would be at the gates before morning. Some
English people, thinking Antwerp no longer safe, set off for Breda,
late as it was. Later still, accounts were brought (as we were told)
by three British officers, confirming the dreadful tidings of defeat;
it was even said that the French were already at Malines. We believed,
we trusted that these reports of evil were greatly exaggerated; we did
not credit their dreadful extent, but that some terrible reverse had
befallen the British army it was no longer possible to doubt. During
the whole of this dreadful night, the consternation, the alarm, the
tumult, the combination of horrid noises that filled the streets, I
shall never forget. The rapid rolling of the carriages, the rattle of
artillery, and the slow, heavy motion of the large waggons filled with
wounded soldiers, which incessantly entered the town, were the most
dismal of all.

Of the bitter agony, the deep-seated affliction that now overwhelmed
us, it would be in vain to speak. There are feelings in the human
heart that can find no utterance in words, and which "lie too deep for
tears:" and the conviction that the British army had been defeated--the
dreadful uncertainty of its fate--and the heart-piercing sight of
my brave, my unfortunate wounded countrymen returning from the lost
battle in which their valour had been exerted, and their blood been
shed in vain, awakened sensations which no visible emotion, no power
of language could express; but which have left an impression on my
mind that no lapse of time can efface. No private calamity, however
great, that had befallen myself individually, could have afflicted me
with such bitter anguish as I now suffered. The image of the British
troops retreating before a conquering, an insulting, a merciless
enemy--defeated, perhaps cut to pieces: the idea of their misfortunes
and their sufferings--of the wounded abandoned to perish on the fatal
field; the misery of thousands; the distress in which it would plunge
my country; the years of war and bloodshed, and all the dreadful
consequences it would bring upon the world, incessantly haunted my mind
during this long night of misery. Overpowered by three days and nights
of extreme fatigue, anxiety, and agitation, I fell at times into a sort
of unquiet slumber; but my busy fancy still presented the horrid images
of terror and distress, and repeatedly I started up from uneasy sleep
to the dreadful consciousness of waking misery. Oh! it was a night of
unspeakable horror--

                  "Nor when morning came
    Did the realities of light and day
    Bring aught of comfort: wheresoe'er we went
    The tidings of defeat had gone before;
    And leaving their defenceless homes, to seek
    What shelter walls and battlements might yield,

    Old men with feeble feet, and tottering babes,
    And widows with their infants in their arms
    Hurried along: nor royal festival,
    Nor sacred pageant--with like multitude
    E'er fill'd the public way:--all whom the sword
    Had spared--fled here!"--_Southey's Roderick._

With a heavy heart, I rose and dressed myself, and went out before
eight o'clock, attended only by our old valet de place, who with a
sorrowful countenance awaited me at the foot of the stairs. From him,
and from the master of the hotel, who were both on the watch for news,
I learned that no official intelligence had been received, no courier
had arrived: but no doubt was entertained of the truth of the dreadful
reports of the night, and the events of every hour seemed to give full
confirmation of the worst. I traversed the gloomy streets, anxiously
gazing at every melancholy careworn countenance I met, as if there I
could read the truth. I was struck to the heart with horror by the
sight of the heavy loaded waggons of wounded soldiers which incessantly
passed by me; while litters borne silently along on men's shoulders
gave dreadful indications of sufferings more severe, or nearer their
final termination; nor were they less painful to the thoughts from
being unseen. Imagination perhaps conjured up sufferings more dreadful
than the reality--sufferings at which my blood ran cold.

Wholly forgetful of some business I had to transact, which I had
undertaken for a friend before leaving England, I hurried through the
streets with the vague hope of hearing some decisive intelligence;
certain that anything, even the knowledge of the worst, would be
preferable to this state of wretchedness and torturing suspense. At
last, without intending it, I found myself near the Malines gate.
Conducted by the old valet, I turned into a narrow street on my
right, where, to my inexpressible astonishment, I saw five wounded
Highland soldiers who, in spite of the bandages which enveloped their
heads, arms, and legs, were shouting and huzzaing with the vociferous
demonstrations of joy. In answer to my eager questions, they told
me that a courier had that moment entered the town from the Duke of
Wellington, bringing an account that the English had gained a complete
victory, that the remains of the French army were in full retreat, and
the English in pursuit of them.

To the last hour of my life, never shall I forget the sensations of
that moment. Scarcely daring to credit the extent of this wonderful,
this transporting news, I did, however, believe that the English had
gained the victory; believed it with feelings to which no language
can do justice, and which found relief in tears of joy that I could
not repress. For some minutes I was unable to speak. The overpowering
emotions which filled my heart were far too powerful for expression;
but the boon of life to the wretch whose head is laid upon the block
could scarcely be received with more transport and gratitude. The
sudden transition from the depth of despair to joy unutterable, was
almost too great to be borne.

In the mean time the Highlanders, regardless of their wounds, their
fatigues, their dangers, and their sufferings, kept throwing up their
Highland bonnets into the air, and continually vociferating,--"Boney's
beat! Boney's beat! hurrah! hurrah! Boney's beat!" Their tumultuous joy
attracted round them a number of old Flemish women, who were extremely
curious to know the cause of this uproar, and kept gabbling to the
soldiers in their own tongue. One of them, more eager than the rest,
seized one of the men by his coat, pulling at it, and making the most
ludicrous gestures imaginable to induce him to attend to her; while
the Highlander, quite forgetting in his transport that the old woman
did not understand Scotch, kept vociferating that "Boney was beat, and
rinning away till his ain country as fast as he could gang." At any
other time, the old Flemish woman, holding the soldier fast, shrugging
up her shoulders, and making these absurd grimaces, and the Highlander
roaring to her in broad Scotch would have presented a most laughable
scene--"Hout, ye auld gowk," cried the good-humoured soldier, "dinna
ye ken that Boney's beat--what, are ye deef?--dare say the wife--I say
Boney's beat, woman!" When the news was explained to the old women
they were in an ecstasy almost as great as that of the Highlanders
themselves, and the joy of the old valet was quite unbounded. These
poor men were on their way to the hospital, but they did not know which
way to go; they were ignorant of the language, and could not inquire.
I thought of sending the valet de place with them, who was extremely
willing to conduct "ces bons Ecossois," as he called them, but then I
could not easily have found my own way home; so the valet de place,
the soldiers, and I, all went to the hospital together. Our progress
was slow, for one of them was very lame, another had lost three of the
fingers of his right hand, and had a ball lodged in his shoulder. Some
of them were from the Highlands, and some from the Lowlands, and when
they found that I came from Scotland, and lived upon the Tweed, they
were quite delighted. One of them was from the Tweed as well as myself,
he said, "he cam' oot o' Peeblesshire."

After parting with them close to the hospital, I returned homewards,
and by the time I reached the Place de Maire it was thronged with
multitudes of people, who seemed at a loss how to give vent to their
transport. One loud universal buzz of voices filled the streets; one
feeling pervaded every heart; one expression beamed on every face: in
short, the people were quite wild with joy, and some of them really
seemed by no means in possession of their senses. At the door of our
hotel the first sight I beheld among the crowds that encircled it, was
an English lady, who had apparently attained the full meridian of life,
with a night-cap stuck on the top of her head, discovering her hair
in papillotes beneath, attired in a long white flannel dressing-gown,
loosely tied about her waist, with the sleeves tucked up above the
elbows. She was flying about in a distracted manner, with a paper
in her hand, loudly proclaiming the glorious tidings, continually
repeating the same thing, and rejoicing, lamenting, wondering, pitying,
and exclaiming, all in the same breath. From an English gentleman
whom I had met, I had already learned all the particulars that were
known; but this lady seized upon me, repeated them all again and again,
interrupting herself with mourning over the misfortunes of poor Lady de
Lancey, pitying Lady F. Somerset, rejoicing in the victory, wondering
at the Duke's escape, lamenting for Sir Thomas Picton, and declaring,
which was incontestably true, that she herself was quite distracted.

In vain did her maid pursue her about with a great shawl, which
occasionally she succeeded in putting upon her shoulders, but which
invariably fell off again the next moment.

In vain did another lady, whose dress and mind were rather more
composed, endeavour to entice her away--she could not be brought to
pay them the smallest attention, and I left her still talking as
fast as ever, and standing in this curious déshabille among gentlemen
and footmen, and officers and soldiers, and valets de place, and in
full view of the multitudes who thronged the great Place de Maire. An
express had arrived, soon after eight o'clock, bringing the Duke of
Wellington's bulletin, dated Waterloo, containing a brief account of
the glorious battle. But from private letters and accounts we learnt
that the triumph of the British arms had indeed been complete. After
a most dreadful and sanguinary battle, which lasted from ten in the
morning till nine at night, the French at length gave way, and fled
in confusion from the field, leaving behind them their artillery,
their baggage, their wounded, and their prisoners. The certainty of
this great, this glorious victory, won by the heroic valour of our
countrymen in circumstances so disadvantageous; the fall of the enemy
of Britain and of mankind; the deliverance of Europe; the peace of the
world, and, above all, the glory of England, rushed into my mind; and
every individual interest, every personal consideration, every other
thought and feeling, were swallowed up and forgotten.

The contest had been dreadful--the carnage unexampled in the bloodiest
annals of history. The French army had been nearly annihilated, and
our loss was tremendous. The greatest part of our gallant army, the
best, the bravest of our officers, were among the killed and wounded.
Sir Colin Halket, Generals Cooke and Alten, Sir Dennis Pack, the
Prince of Orange, Lord Uxbridge,[16] and Lord Fitzroy Somerset,
were severely wounded. Sir Thomas Picton, Sir William Ponsonby, Sir
Alexander Gordon were killed. Sir William de Lancey had also been
killed by a cannon-ball while in absolute contact with the Duke, whose
escapes seemed to have been almost miraculous. Unmindful, perhaps
even unconscious, of the showers of shot and shell, he had stood
undaunted from morning till night in the thickest of the battle,
coolly reconnoitring with his glass the motions of the enemy, issuing
his orders with the utmost precision, and everywhere present by his
promptitude, coolness, and presence of mind. Almost all his staff
officers were either killed or wounded.[17] Lady M. showed us the
official bulletin; it contained a most brief and modest account of
the victory, announcing scarcely any particulars, and mentioning the
names only of a very few of the principal officers who were among the

In a few hours the town was crowded with the wounded. The regular
hospitals were soon filled, and barracks, churches, and convents were
converted into temporary hospitals with all possible expedition. Tents
were pitched in a large piece of open ground near the citadel, and
numbers of these unfortunate sufferers were carried there: but nothing
could contain the multitude of wounded who continually entered the
town. Numbers were lying on the hard pavement of the streets, and on
the steps of the houses; and numbers were wandering about in search of
a place of shelter. Nothing affected me more than the quiet fortitude
and uncomplaining patience with which these poor men bore their
sufferings. Not a word, not a murmur, not a groan escaped their lips.
They lay extended on their backs in the long waggons, their clothes
stained with blood, blinded by the intolerable rays of the sun, in
silent suffering; while every jolt of the waggons seemed to go to one's
very heart. Numbers on foot, almost sinking with fatigue and loss of
blood, were slowly and painfully making their way along the streets.
Officers supported on their horses, and almost insensible, with faces
pale as death, and marked with agony, and those dreadful litters, whose
very appearance bespoke torture and death, were passing through every

Never shall I forget the impression that the sight of my poor wounded
countrymen made upon my mind. When I saw their sufferings, and thought
of their deeds in arms, of their dauntless intrepidity in the field,
and of the immortal glory they had won, tears of pity, admiration, and
gratitude burst from my heart, and I looked at the meanest soldier
returning, covered with wounds, from fighting the battles of his
country, with a respect and admiration which not all the kings and
princes of the earth could have extorted from me.

If such were the horrors of the scene here, what must they be on the
field of battle, covered with thousands of the dead, the wounded, and
the dying! The idea was almost too dreadful for human endurance; and
yet there were those of my own country, and even of my own sex, whom I
heard express a longing wish to visit this very morning the fatal field
of Waterloo! If, by visiting that dreadful scene of glory and of death,
I could have saved the life, or assuaged the pangs, of one individual
who had fallen for his country, gladly would I have braved its horrors;
but for the gratification of an idle, a barbarous curiosity, to gaze
upon the mangled corpses of thousands; to hear the deep groans of
agony, and witness the last struggles of the departing spirit--No!
worlds should not have bribed me to have encountered the sight: the
consolation of being useful, alone could have armed one with courage to
have witnessed it. Nothing could exceed the humanity and kindness of
the Belgic people to those poor sufferers who now crowded the streets.
Unsolicited they took them into their own houses; sent bedding to the
hospitals; resigned their own rooms to their use; provided them with
every comfort, and administered to their wants as if they had been
their own sons. One old lady alone, who was the sole inhabitant of a
large house, refused to take in two wounded officers; the Commandant,
on hearing of this, immediately billetted six private soldiers upon
her. But, notwithstanding the praiseworthy activity and exertion which
were used to accommodate them, it was long, long indeed, before they
could all be taken care of. We grieved that we had no house to shelter
them, and no power to give them any essential relief. Money was to them
as useless as the lump of gold to Robinson Crusoe in his desert island:
we could not act by them the part of the good Samaritan, nor could we,
like the heroines of the days of chivalry, bind up and dress their
wounds, for in our ignorance we should only have injured them, and the
most stupid hospital mate could perform that office a thousand times
better than the finest lady.

Numbers of poor wounded Highlanders were patiently sitting in the
streets, shaded from the powerful rays of the sun. We had a good
deal of conversation with several of the privates of the 42nd and
92nd regiments, and their account of the battle was most simple and
interesting. They seemed not to have the smallest pride in what they
had done; but to consider it quite as a matter of course; they uttered
not the smallest complaint, but rather made light of their sufferings,
and there was nothing in their words or manner that looked as if they
were sensible of having done anything in the least extraordinary;
nothing that laid claim to pity, admiration, or glory. The carnage
among the French, both on the 16th and 18th, in their encounter with
the Highland regiments, was described to us as most dreadful. The
cuirassiers, men and officers, horses and riders, were rolled in
death, one upon another, after the British charge with the bayonet.
In vain the French returned to the attack with furious valour and
reinforced numbers. Their utmost efforts could make no impression on
the impenetrable squares of the infantry, and the spiked wall of the
British embattled bayonets; and when they retired from the ineffectual
attack, the brave Highlanders, with loud cries of "Scotland for ever!"
rushed among them, bore down all resistance, and scattered their
legions like withered leaves before the blast of autumn.

It is but justice to these gallant men to say, that it was not from
themselves we heard this relation of their own deeds. _They_ could
not be induced to speak of what they had done, but it was repeated on
every side; it was the theme of every tongue. The love and admiration
of the whole Belgic people for the Highlanders are most remarkable.
Whenever they heard them mentioned, they exclaimed, "Ah! ces braves
hommes! ces bons Ecossais! ils sont si doux--et si aimables--et dans
la guerre!--ah! mon Dieu! comme ils sont terribles!" They never speak
of them without some epithet of affection or admiration. Their merits
are the darling topic of their private circles, and their figures the
favourite signs of their public-houses; in short, they are the best of
soldiers and of men, according to the Belgians--nothing was ever like
them, and the idea they have of their valour is quite prodigious.[18]

The sufferings of the wounded, however, did not form the only affecting
sight that Antwerp presented. The deep, the distracting grief of the
unfortunate people whose friends had perished, and the heart-rending
anxiety of those who vainly sought for intelligence of the fate of
those most dear to them, were amongst the most distressing parts of
the many mournful scenes we witnessed. Of those friends for whose
safety we were deeply solicitous, we could gain no information, and the
suspense, dreadful as it was, we, as well as thousands, were obliged to
endure. But our anxiety, our sorrows, seemed light indeed in comparison
with those of others: there were few who had not some near friend or
relative to deplore, and Antwerp was filled with heart-broken mourners,
whom the victory of yesterday had bereft of all that made life dear to
them. In the same hotel with us was poor Lady de Lancey, a young and
widowed bride, upon whom, in all the hopes of happiness--in the very
flower of youth--unacquainted with sorrow, and far from every friend,
the heaviest stroke of affliction had fallen unprepared. But three
little days ago, she seemed to be at the summit of felicity, and now
she was bereaved of every earthly hope. She bore the intelligence of
her irreparable loss with astonishing firmness. I did not wonder that
she refused to see every human being, for no earthly power could speak
consolation to misery such as hers. In vain I tried to forget her--I
could not banish her from my remembrance; and often, during our long
wanderings in the distant regions of Holland, when I was far from her,
and far from all that might have recalled her to my remembrance, among
other sights and other scenes, her early misfortunes wrung my heart
with the deepest sorrow.

But whatever might be the grief and anxiety of individuals, the
universal joy was unbounded. It is impossible to describe the effects
of this victory upon all ranks of people. Every human heart seemed to
beat in sympathy; every countenance beamed with joy; every tongue spoke
the language of exultation. As the terror and despair of the Belgians
had been excessive, their transport was now vehement and overflowing,
and their volubility not to be imagined. We went into several shops,
and the people, unable to restrain themselves, poured out upon us
the fulness of their joy, their astonishment, their gratitude, their
admiration, and their praise. Totally forgetful of their interests,
they thought not of selling their goods; they thought of nothing--they
could do nothing but talk of the battle and the British, and it was
with difficulty we could get them to show us what we wanted: nay, more
than once we were actually obliged to go away without doing anything,
from the impossibility of making them attend to the business of selling
and buying.

But sometimes the expression of their feelings was so simple, so
natural, and so touching, and there was so much of truth and naïveté,
both in their manner and their words, that it was impossible to hear
them without emotion. The French they loaded with execrations; and
their hatred, their indignation, and their bitter feelings of their
wrongs, said more than volumes of eloquence, or even facts could have
done, in condemnation of the conduct of their late masters. All the
English merchandise, and all colonial produce, imported even before
it was decreed to be a crime, were seized, carried from their shops
and warehouses, and burnt before their eyes in the Place Verte. No
remuneration, no indemnity whatever was given them; and by this single
act of wanton tyranny, hundreds of industrious families were reduced
to beggary. Heavy exactions and continual contributions were levied,
and the weight of these fell upon the most industrious and respectable
orders of the people. "All that we had they took," was said again and
again to us, "and if we had had thousands more, it would have all
gone." They ruined the commerce, the manufactures, the trade of the
country, and then they drained the poor inhabitants of their property.
They shut up the sources of wealth, and then called on them for money.
They blocked up the fountain, and then asked for its waters. Like
Egyptian task-masters, they took from them the materials, and then
demanded their work. They expected them to make "bricks without straw."
The French soldiers lived at free-quarters upon the people, and the
Belgic youths were marched away to fight in foreign wars. The oppressed
people were subject to the unrestrained rapine and brutal insolence of
the French soldiery, of which they durst not complain. It was unsafe
even to murmur. Not only the liberty of the press, but the liberty of
speech was denied them. Any unfortunate person convicted of holding
intercourse with England was imprisoned, and some of them (we were
told), by way of example, were shot.

We happened to go into a little stationer's shop, kept by a widow and
her three daughters, who received us almost with adoration because we
were English. They all began to talk at once, and relieved their minds
by pouring out a torrent of invectives against those detested tyrants,
"Ces fléaux du genre humain," as they called them. All their goods had
been seized; their shop (which was not then a stationer's) completely
stripped of its contents, under the pretence of its being filled with
British and colonial produce, which they said was not the case; and a
considerable quantity of continental manufactures had also been carried
away. "But _that_ was nothing," the poor mother said, as she wiped
the tears from her eyes, "_that_ she could have borne, for though it
seemed heavy at the time, she thought less of it now;--but her five
sons (fine handsome young men, they were, as ever a mother bore), her
five sons were all taken for soldiers, and perished in the French wars;
some in the retreat from Russia, and some in the subsequent campaign
in Germany." The tears streamed down the cheeks of one of these young
women, as she spoke to me of her "poor brothers." I can give no idea of
the bitterness, the rancour, the hatred, and above all, the volubility
of the abuse which these poor women poured out against the French.

We got away from them with difficulty; and though the deep sense of
their own wrongs rankled in their minds, and aggravated the resentment
and detestation which they must naturally feel towards the authors of
so much misery, yet we found the same sentiments, in greater or in
less degree, among all the Belgians with whom we conversed, or whom we
heard conversing. I had always understood that the French (and Napoleon
in particular) were highly popular in Antwerp, but from some most
respectable old-established merchants, both British and Belgic, we
learned that the inhabitants were decidedly hostile to the French, and
that they were both feared and hated by all, excepting the very dregs
of society, and those individuals who had made fortunes under their

In the course of our rambles we had many conversations with various
people whom we never saw before, and I suppose shall never see again.
We met a wounded officer who had been taken prisoner by the French. He
said, that after repeatedly threatening to kill him, and loading him
with abuse, they actually knocked him on the head with the butt-end
of a musket, and left him for dead upon the field: he came, however,
to himself, and effected his escape. His face was most frightfully
swelled, and so bruised, that it was every shade of black, and blue,
and green; his head was entirely tied up with white handkerchiefs and
bloody bandages, and in my life I never saw a more battered object. He
had his arm in a sling; but he was by much too rejoiced at his escape
to care about his wounds or bruises. He told us, what _then_ I could
scarcely believe, that the French had killed many of our officers whom
they had taken prisoners, and that they had _piked_ numbers of the
wounded. The truth of these brutal murders, disgraceful to humanity,
and even more dishonourable and more barbarous than the worst cruelty
of savages, were unhappily, afterwards, too indisputably proved.

In our progress through the streets we could not resist stopping to
speak to such of the poor wounded soldiers as seemed able to talk,
and who looked as if they would thank us even for a word of kindness,
much to the amazement of Mr. D., an Antwerp merchant, who was walking
about with us, to "show us the lions," as he said. However, he waited
most patiently, while Mrs. H., my sister, and I talked to ensigns,
sergeants, corporals, and common soldiers, who were all, more or less,
wounded or disabled.

"We have got six of those wounded soldiers billeted upon us," said
Mr. D., as we walked on, "but I must get them boarded out somewhere,
for they would be very troublesome in the house." "Troublesome!" I
exclaimed. "Yes! you know they would be very troublesome in a house,
though I suppose the surgeons will look after their _wounds_, and all
_that_; they will cost me" (I forget how many guelders he said) "a
week, but I would rather _pay_ it" (with a strong and proud emphasis
upon the word pay) "than have them in the house, it would be so very

I was silent, for I durst not trust myself to speak. Yet this was a
very well-meaning man. I make no doubt he subscribed _handsomely_ to
the Waterloo fund, and that he would have given money to those very
wounded soldiers to whom he refused shelter--if he had thought they
wanted it. But beyond giving money his ideas of charity did not extend.
To his mercantile mind, money was the chief and only good; the sole
source of pride and of happiness; the only object in life worth seeking
after--the one thing needful. He was a very good kind of man in his
way, but he was entirely occupied with his "snug box" at Clapham, his
brother's grand potteries in Staffordshire, and his own cargoes of
rice, and hogsheads of rum and sugar; he could not feel the vast debt
of gratitude their country owed to "the men of Waterloo;" to those
gallant soldiers who had fought and bled for her safety and glory.
He did not mean to be unkind or ungenerous; he would have started at
the reproach of wanting humanity, or being deficient in gratitude,
but--but--but--in short, he was altogether an Antwerp merchant.

The day was extremely hot, and on the outside of the Cafés, beneath
the shade of awnings, and seated beside little tables in the open
street, the Belgic gentlemen were eating ices and fruit, and drinking
coffee, and reading "L'Oracle de Bruxelles," and playing at domino
and backgammon with the utmost composure, utterly regardless of the
crowds of passengers, and apparently as much at their ease as if they
were in their own houses,--or indeed more so; for the Belgians, like
the French, are more at home at le Café, or in the public streets, or
anywhere, than in their own home, which is the last place in which
they think of looking for enjoyment. They have no notion of domestic
comfort, domestic pleasure, or domestic happiness; and consequently
they cannot have much knowledge of domestic virtues. I cannot,
therefore, help considering the French as a gay, rather than a happy
nation. French habits and manners, and, I am afraid, French morals,
are universally prevalent throughout Belgium. Groups of ladies of the
most respectable character may everywhere be seen, sitting on chairs
or benches, in the public streets or promenades, working, talking,
laughing, and amusing themselves with all the ease and gaiety and
sangfroid in the world. Sometimes only a knot of ladies, but more
frequently ladies coquetting with their obsequious beaux.

We visited the unfinished Quay, begun by Napoleon, which was to have
extended above a mile along the broad and deep Scheldt, and would have
been one of the finest quays in Europe. We saw the flying bridge ("Le
Pont Volant"), a most ingenious contrivance, on which carriages,
horses, and waggons pass with great rapidity and security from one
side of the river to the other, without interrupting its navigation,
even for vessels of the largest burden. Such a plan, I should think,
might be adopted with great success upon the Thames between London and
Gravesend, or in any river where the arches of a stone bridge would
obstruct the passage of the ships, and where the breadth is too great
for the single span of an iron bridge. The mechanism seemed to be very
simple. The largest ships of war can come up close to the quay; but the
navigation of the Scheldt is difficult, and even dangerous, from the
number of sand banks which choke it up. Antwerp is upwards of fifty
miles from the mouth of the river.

We saw the docks, the offspring of Napoleon's hatred against our
country; one of them was made sufficiently large and deep to be capable
of containing the greatest part of the British navy, and at one time he
exulted in the expectation of seeing the "wooden walls" of Old England
safely moored in _his_ docks at Antwerp. Little did he anticipate the
day when the little army of England, which he despised and ridiculed,
should be the unmolested possessors of _his_ capital of Paris!

The Arsenal (la Maison de Marine) is now emptied of its stores, and
deserted by its workmen. We saw a long building erected by Napoleon for
the manufacture of ropes for ships--now equally useless. Its length is
precisely the same as that of the cable of a first-rate British ship
of war. The manner in which they repair ships in these docks is unlike
anything I ever saw before. Instead of lifting the ship entirely out
of water, and placing it upon the stocks (in effecting which, or in
relaunching it, a vessel is said often to sustain injury), a rope is
attached to the masts, and the ship is hauled down until its keel is
exposed; after repairing that side they haul it down on the other in
the same manner, and the workmen stand upon a raft that is fastened to
its side.

We went to see the Citadel, a noble and complete fortification
overlooking the Scheldt. The walls are of such an immense height and
thickness, that I should imagine them to be quite invulnerable. The
fortress is capable of containing 10,000 men; by means of the river
fresh reinforcements might be constantly thrown in; and with a strong
garrison, and an adequate supply of provisions and ammunition, I should
suppose, that like another Troy, it might stand a ten years' siege;
only that modern patience would never hold out such a length of time.

The commandant was confined to his bed by indisposition; but every
part of the fortification was explained to us by a very good-humoured,
intelligent Irish officer, whose name I have forgotten, but who seemed
to be excessively amused by the (I fear) almost childish delight which
my sister and I betrayed in seeing all the wonders of this wonderful
place. Everything to us was new and interesting. It was the first
citadel we had ever seen: and to see with our own eyes a real, actual
citadel--nay, more, to be in one, was so very delightful, that we both
agreed, if we had seen nothing else, we should have thought ourselves
amply repaid for our journey to Antwerp.

This good-natured officer contentedly toiled along with us, under the
burning rays of a most sultry sun, round the whole fortifications, and
pointed out to us where and how attacks might be made with success,
and in what manner they could be resisted. The sight of the moat,
the draw-bridges, the ramparts, the bastions, and the dungeons; the
sally-ports and gates, which communicate with the citadel from the moat
by long subterranean passages, so forcibly recalled to my recollection
all that I had heard and read of battles and sieges in history and in
tales of chivalry, that I could have fancied myself transported back
into ages long since past--into the iron times of arms; and all that
had before existed only in imagination was at once realised.

After visiting all the lions of Antwerp, docks and fortresses; and
ships and statues; and pictures and prisons; and quays and cathedrals;
and battle-beaten walls and flying bridges; and decayed monasteries,
and modern arsenals; which, as they have all been often so much better
described than I can describe them, I shall forbear to describe at
all--we returned to the hotel, excessively heated and tired, and very
glad to sit down to rest. To-day, for the first time since our arrival,
we began to have serious thoughts of getting some dinner. We might have
eaten something during those days of alarm and agitation, and I suppose
we did; but, excepting the breakfast we had got upon the stairs at
Brussels on Saturday, I have not the most distant recollection of ever
having eaten at all.

Upon the necessity and expediency of now dining, however, we were all
unanimously agreed: the difficulty was how to achieve it. Mr. and Mrs.
H. had a pigeon-hole for their only habitation, in which it would
have been perfectly impossible to have introduced a table; a single
chair was all it was capable of containing. In our rooms we had some
difficulty in turning round when more than one person at a time was
in them; but by dint of sitting _out_ of the window, and against the
door, and upon all the boxes, we had, I was assured--for I actually did
not remember it--ingeniously succeeded in getting some breakfast--but
to dine was perfectly impracticable. There happened, however, to be in
this very hotel, a Captain F., an idle, not a fighting, captain; one
who made his campaigns, not at Waterloo, but in Bond-street; and this
Captain F., who had been in Antwerp long before the commencement of
hostilities, had, luckily for us, got possession of a room in which
it was possible to move. He was a Newmarket friend of Mr. H.'s, who
introduced him to us, with the recommendation that he was a young man
of fashion and fortune, well known about town; and in Captain F.'s room
and company, Mr. and Mrs. H., my sister, my brother, and I accordingly
dined; we were also favoured with the company of a particular friend
of his, a Mr. C. Many foolish young men it has been my lot to see, but
never did I meet with any whose folly was at all comparable to that of
Captain F.

Captain F. was a young man who prided himself upon his knowledge of
horse-flesh, and who had, by his own account, been jockeyed out of
"many a cool thousand" by his ignorance of it; he was a young man who
delighted in building more _new invented_ carriages in one year than
he could pay for in twenty; he was a young man who prided himself upon
borrowing money from Jews at fifteen per cent. while his guardians were
saving it for him at five; and in squandering it at Newmarket while
they thought him poring over Greek and mathematics at Cambridge; he
was a young man whose highest pride consisted in driving four-in-hand
"knowingly;" whose greatest ambition was to resemble a stage-coachman
exactly, and whose distinguishing characteristic was that of being a
most egregious fool.

In consequence, I suppose, of a perseverance in this laudable career,
Captain F. now found it more convenient to play the fool upon the
continent than in England. After recounting to us various and manifold
deeds of folly committed in London and Newmarket, amongst Jews and Whip
Clubs, he at length gravely asserted, "that it was impossible for any
man to dress under seven hundred a year."

This piece of information was received by some of the party with equal
amazement and incredulity: but Captain F. assured us, "'Pon his soul
it was true; that he knew as well as any man what it was to dress, and
that it could not be done for less than seven hundred a year--nay, that
it often costs nine."

"And pray, Captain F.," said I, involuntarily glancing at his coat,
which happened not to be by any means a new one, "do _you_ spend nine
hundred a year upon dress?"

"Oh! not _now_," he exclaimed; "I don't dress _now_; I never dressed
but eighteen months in my life." He then explained at large to me,
who, in my ignorance, had not understood what to dress meant, "that
'to dress' signified to be the first in fashion, to make it the study
of one's life to appear in a new mode before anybody else; 'to sport'
something new every day; and during the time he dressed," he said,
"his tailor sent him down three boxes of clothes every week from town,
wherever he might happen to be." Having thus satisfactorily proved,
that, at a considerable expense to his pocket, he had turned himself
into a sort of block for the tailors to attire in their new invented
coats and waistcoats, like the wooden dolls the milliners dress up
to set off their new fashions, he next poured out such a quantity
of nonsense about the battle and the wounded, that he reminded me of
Hotspur's account of his interview with a coxcomb of the same species:

  "When the fight was done,----"

But why do I waste a word upon him.

A Scotch acquaintance, Mr. E., of M., arrived this evening from the
field, where he had been ineffectually engaged in the soul-harrowing
employment of searching among the dead, the wounded, and the dying,
for his youngest brother, who was nowhere to be found. He was a
gallant-spirited youth of eighteen, and this was his first campaign.
His horse had returned without its rider--among the multitude of
wounded he could not be found. Some hopes, some faint hopes, yet
remained that he might have been taken prisoner, and that he might yet
appear; but there was too much reason to fear that he had perished,
though where or how was unknown. Alas! every passing day made the hopes
of his friends more and more improbable. No tidings were ever heard of
him, and "on earth he was seen no more." The uncertainty in which the
fate of this lamented young man was involved was even more dreadful
than the knowledge of the worst could have been. Mrs. H.'s anxiety
respecting her brother was relieved by Mr. E.'s assurance of his being
in perfect safety. He could tell us nothing of the fate of those for
whom we were so deeply anxious. "Do not ask me," he exclaimed, "who
_is_ wounded--I cannot tell you. It would be easy to say who are
_not_." Intelligence from another quarter, however, relieved our fears,
and although it subsequently proved false, for the present it led us
to believe that our friends were in safety.

We now learnt that the battle had been even more desperate, and the
victory more glorious and decisive, than Lord Wellington's concise and
modest bulletin had led us to imagine. The French had not "retreated,"
they had been completely routed, and put to flight; they had not
merely "been defeated," they were no longer an army. They had fled in
every direction from the field, pursued by the victorious British and
by the Prussians, who had not come up till just at the close of the
battle.[19] The whole of their artillery, ammunition, and baggage,
their caissons, all the matériel of their army had been taken. Of
130,000 Frenchmen who had marched yesterday morning to battle,
flushed with all the hopes and confidence of victory, no trace, no
vestige now remained; they were all swept away; they were scattered
by the whirlwind of war over the face of the earth. Yesterday their
proud hosts had spread terror and dismay through nations, and struck
consternation into every heart, except those of the brave band of
warriors who opposed them. To-day the greater part of them slept
in death, the rest were fugitives or captives. It was an awful and
tremendous lesson. They were gone with all their imperfections on their
heads,--their hopes, their purposes, their plans, their passions, and
their crimes, were at rest for ever! And their leader, who had sported
away the lives of thousands, with feelings untouched by remorse; who
had impiously presumed to defy the powers of God and man; and whose
insatiate ambition the world itself seemed too small to contain--where
was he now?--an outcast and a wanderer, hunted, pursued, beset on all
sides, and at a loss where to lay his head!

It was with a heart pierced with anguish that I wept for the brave who
had fallen; that I felt in the bitterness of sorrow, that not even the
proud triumph of my country's glory could console me for the gallant
hearts that were lost to her for ever!

  "How many mothers shall lament their sons;
  How many widows weep their husbands slain!--
  Ye dames of Albion! ev'n for you I mourn:
  Who sadly sitting on the sea-beat shore,
  Long look for lords who never shall return!"

It was twelve o'clock before our friends left us, and then, worn out
with fatigue of body and mind, for the first time during four nights,
I enjoyed the blessing of some hours of undisturbed repose, in spite
of the bonfires, the acclamations, the noisy rejoicings, and the
songs, more patriotic than melodious, which resounded in my ears. Last
night the streets were filled with the cries of horror and alarm,
to-night they resounded with the shouts of exultation and joy; and
it was with feelings of deep and fervent thanksgiving to Heaven that
I laid my wearied head upon the pillow, and sank to sleep with the
blessed consciousness that we should not this night be disturbed by the
dreadful alarms of war.

Nothing on retrospection seemed to me so extraordinary as the shortness
of time in which these wonderful events had happened. I could scarcely
convince myself that they had actually been comprised in the short
space of three days--so long did it seem to be! Yet in that brief space
how many gallant spirits had death arrested in their glorious career of
honour and immortality--how many hearts had grief rendered desolate! In
these eventful days the fates of empires and of kings had been decided,
and the trembling nations of Europe freed from the vengeance and the
yoke of the tyranny which menaced them with subjugation.

If the passage of time were to be computed by the succession of events,
rather than by moments, we should indeed have lived a lifetime! an age!
for it was "eternity of thought." Every thing that had happened, even
immediately before these events, seemed like the faintly-remembered
traces of a dream, or the fading and distant images of long past years.
It seemed as if at once

        "From the tablet of my memory
  Were wiped away all trivial fond records,
  All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
  That youth and observation copied there;
  And this remembrance all alone remain'd,
  Within the book and volume of my brain,
  Unmixed with baser matter."

Yes! the days, the months, the years of my future life may pass away
and be forgotten, and all the changes that mark them fade like a
morning dream; but the minutest circumstance of these eventful days
must be remembered "while Memory holds her seat;" for such moments and
such feelings in life can never return more.

A fortnight elapsed, which we passed in making the tour of Holland; in
gliding along its slow canals, visiting its populous cities, gazing at
its splendid palaces, yawning over its green ditches, wondering at its
great dykes, its prodigious sluices, and its innumerable windmills;
admiring its clean houses, laughing at the humours of its fairs, and
falling fast asleep in its churches.

We found the Dutch a plain, plodding, pains-taking, well-meaning,
money-getting, matter-of-fact people; very dull and drowsy, and slow
and stupid; little addicted to talking, but very much given to smoking;
but withal pious and charitable, and just and equitable; with no wit,
but some humour; with little fancy, genius, or invention--but much
patience, perseverance, and punctuality. They make excellent merchants,
but very bad companions. What Buonaparte once in his ignorance said
of the English, is truly applicable to the Dutch,--"They are a nation
of shopkeepers;" and they used to remind me very much of a whole
people of Quakers. In dress, in manners, in appearance, and in habits
of life, they precisely resemble that worthy sect; and like them, in
all these points they are perfectly stationary. It is singular enough
that in all matters of taste and fashion, in which other nations are
continually varying, the Dutch have stood stock still for at least
two centuries; and in political opinions and institutions, which it
requires years, and even ages, to alter in other countries, the Dutch
have veered about without ceasing. They have literally changed their
form of government much oftener than the cut of their coats. They have
had Stadtholders, and Revolutions, and Republics, and Despotisms, and
Tyrants, and limited Monarchies; and new Dynasties and old; and the
"New Code Napoleon,"--and the newer Code of King William: and they have
changed from the side of England to that of France, and from France
to that of England,--and from the House of Orange to Buonaparte, and
from Buonaparte to the House of Orange, with a rapidity and versatility
which even their volatile neighbours, the French, could not equal.

But while their government, their laws, their sovereigns, and their
institutions, have undergone every possible transformation--the
fashion of their caps and bonnets, their hats and shoebuckles, remains
unchanged; and they have adhered, with the most scrupulous exactitude,
to the same forms of politeness, the same hours, dresses, manners, and
habits of life that were the fashion among the venerable Burgomasters
in the days of good King William. Certainly if Solomon had ever lived
in Holland he never would have said that "the fashion of this world
passeth away," for there it lasts from generation to generation.

I should think that the Dutch are now very like what the English were
in the times of the Puritans. They have a great deal of rigidity and
vulgarity in their appearance, and of coarseness and _grossièreté_ in
their manners; and they are wholly destitute of vivacity, refinement,
and "the grace that charms." I speak of the people at large; not of the
Court nor of the courtly, who in every country are much the same, or at
least fashioned upon one model; but, excepting the Court, there is no
polite circle, no general good society. It is the rarest thing in the
world to meet with a gentleman in Holland. The Dutch are equally devoid
of that acquired good breeding which distinguishes the well educated
English, and that native politeness and winning courtesy which is so
irresistibly engaging among the French, and even the Belgic people.

I did not think anything could have roused the phlegmatic Dutch to such
energy and vehement animation as they showed in their ardent attachment
to the present government, and their detestation of their former
tyrants. They are absolutely enthusiastic in their loyalty to the House
of Orange; and their implacable and virulent hatred to the French
surpasses all conception. They cannot be silent upon this subject; they
cannot forget their past sufferings, and the tyranny and cruelty which
they endured so long. They never utter their names without bitter
execrations, and the very language is become unpopular. But the British
they look upon with the highest respect and admiration, and treat
them with a blunt, coarse, complimentary sort of kindness, which is
flattering to our national pride.

The Dutch, however, allowed that Louis Buonaparte was a very
well-intentioned, good-hearted man; but he was only a tool in the hands
of the "Great Napoleon;" and, though he did not like to crush them, he
had no power to mitigate the tyranny which bowed them to the earth.
For Napoleon himself--his ministers, his soldiers, his edicts, and
the system of plunder, oppression, and slavery which constituted his
government--no words are strong enough to speak their abhorrence. They
are now most completely an unanimous people. From the lowest beggar in
the street to the king upon his throne, one common political feeling
animates and inspires them.

The only people who grew rich during the reign of the French were
the smugglers, and some of these men made astonishing fortunes by
the sale of colonial produce,--chiefly coffee and tobacco; and
English manufactures, which they introduced into the kingdom in great
quantities, notwithstanding all the spies, soldiers, plans, penalties,
and prohibitions of Buonaparte.

In the failure of taxes and contributions to satisfy his rapacity,
he sequestrated a large portion of the funds destined for the annual
repair of the dykes and sluices, which in consequence were fast falling
to decay; so that had the French Government lasted much longer, Holland
might have been no longer a country; it might _physically_, as well as
_politically_, have ceased to exist, and a tide, even more destructive
than the armies of France, have rolled over it and restored it again to
the ocean.

Sometimes the faint reports of distant war roused us during our
slumbering progress through this soporific country; and Dutch men and
Dutch bonnets, and towns and palaces, and universities and museums,
and tulips and hyacinths, and even "Orange Boven" itself, were
entirely forgotten in the animating and overpowering interest of the
triumphant progress of the British arms,--the final fall of the Usurper
of France,--and the entrance of the Allied Army, led by the Duke of
Wellington, into the gates of Paris.

A sight more affecting than any other that Holland contained we
frequently witnessed:--long _treckschuyts_ filled with the wounded
Dutch soldiers of Waterloo, mutilated, disabled, sick and suffering,
passed us upon the canals, slowly returning to their homes. In many
of the towns and villages of Holland, the hospitals were filled with
these poor soldiers, to whom the inhabitants showed the most humane
and praiseworthy kindness and attention. It is but justice to the
Dutch to state, that though their charity began at home it did not end
there. Every town and village made contributions for the wounded Belgic
and British, as well as for the Dutch, both of money and provisions,
including plenty of butter and cheese, together with an enormous supply
of ankers of real Hollands, which amused me extremely. I am sure they
sent it out of pure love and kindness, anxious, I suppose, that the
poor wounded should have plenty of what they liked best themselves; or
perhaps they thought that gin, like spermaceti, was "sovereign for an
inward bruise."

If Ireland be "the country that owes the most to Nature and the least
to Man," Holland is unquestionably the country which owes the most to
Man and the least to Nature. I bade it farewell without one feeling of
regret: with as little emotion as Voltaire, I could have said--"Adieu!
Canaux, Canards, Canaille!"--and after crossing many a tedious and
toilsome ferry, and slowly traversing the trackless and sandy desert
which separates Bergen-op-Zoom from Antwerp, we left Holland,--I hope,
for ever!

Nothing can be imagined more dreary than this journey. One wide
extended desert of barren sand surrounded us as far as the eye could
reach, in which no trace of man, nor beast, nor human habitation,
could be seen. Some bents, thinly scattered upon the hillocks of sand,
and occasional groups of stunted fir, through which the wind sighed
mournfully, were the only signs of vegetation. Slowly and heavily the
horses dragged our cabriolet through these deep sands, choosing their
own path as their own sagacity, or that of their driver, directed.
Quitting at last this solitary waste, we entered the sheltering copse
woods of oak which surround the city of Antwerp, drove swiftly by neat
cottages and smiling gardens, descried with delight its lofty walls,
its frowning fortifications, and the spire of the Cathedral, whose
beauty we could _now_ admire; and with feelings which may be better
conceived than described, we once more entered its gates.--But what
a change had one fortnight produced! It did not seem to be the same
place or the same people; and when I thought of all the quick varying
scenes of horror, consternation, and triumph which we had witnessed
here, and remembered that within these walls we had trembled for the
safety, and mourned the imaginary defeat of that army who were now
victorious in the capital of France; when I recalled all that the
heroes of my country had done and dared and suffered for her honour
and security and peace--and that to them, under Heaven, Europe owed its
salvation--it was difficult, it was nearly impossible to restrain the
strong tide of mingled emotions which at this moment swelled my heart.
Not for worlds, not to have been the first and greatest in another
land, would I have resigned the distinction of calling England my
country; and I blessed Heaven that I was born an Englishwoman, and born
in this, the proudest era of British glory.

As these reflections rapidly passed through my mind, a Highland soldier
obstructed our passage with his musket, signifying to the driver
that he was to go at a foot-pace past a large building, which we now
discovered to be an hospital, and before which the street was thickly
laid with straw. We were affected with this proof of the attention
and care paid to the wounded, still more so when we learnt that this
hospital was full of wounded French. The Highland soldier who now stood
on guard to prevent the smallest noise from disturbing the repose of
his enemies, had himself been wounded--wounded in the action with them.
It was a noble, a divine instance of generosity: it was returning good
for evil. It was worthy of England. The French soldiers had inhumanly
murdered their wounded prisoners. The British not only dressed the
wounds and attended to all the wants of theirs, but they protected and
watched over them, that even their very slumbers might not be disturbed.

At the hotel of Le Grand Laboureur they knew and welcomed us again,
and testified great joy at the success of the Allies since we had seen
them, and a great dread lest Napoleon should make his escape. In the
streets we met numbers of poor wounded British officers, weak, pale,
faint, and emaciated, slowly and painfully moving a few yards to taste
the freshness of the summer and the blessed beams of heaven.

Many fine young men had lost their limbs, many were on crutches, many
were supported by their wives or by their servants. At the open windows
of the houses, propped up by pillows, some poor unfortunate sufferers
were lying, whose looks would have moved a heart of stone to pity. We
passed several hospitals, and looked into some of them. The cleanliness
and neatness of appearance which they exhibited were truly gratifying.

Antwerp was filled with wounded. In every corner we met numbers of
convalescent soldiers and officers, some of whom looked well; but the
sufferings we saw, and heard of, were far too dreadful to relate, and
in many cases death would have been a blessed relief from a state of
hopeless torture. Several vessels had already sailed, filled with
convalescent wounded, for England.

Most of the wounded French, the wretched survivors of Buonaparte's
imperial army, were here. But what consolation had they to support them
on the bed of pain and sickness? What glory awaited them when they
returned to their native country? What was their recompense for their
valour, their sufferings, their services, and their dangers?--Broken
health, and blighted hopes, and ruined fortunes, and blasted fame,
were all they had to look to. They had not fought and bled for their
country, but for a leader who had basely deserted them. Surrounded by
these bleeding victims of a tyrant's ungovernable ambition, I felt the
truth that inspired the poet's lines--

  "Unblest is the blood that for tyrants is squandered,
  And Fame has no wreath for the brow of the slave."

And what British heart would not exclaim with him--

  "But hail to thee, Albion, who meet'st the commotion
  Of Europe, as firm as thy cliffs meet the foam,
  With no bond but the law, and no slave but the ocean--
  Hail, Temple of Liberty! thou art my home!"

The night soon closed in upon us, and we could see the wounded no more.
We went to rest, and enjoyed a night of more calm repose than it had
ever yet been our lot to experience in Antwerp.

With what different feelings, and under what different circumstances,
did I open my eyes on this Sunday morning, to those which we suffered
on the dreadful morning of Sunday, the 18th of June, which we had
spent here before! Then horror and despair filled the minds of the
people--then they were lamenting the imaginary destruction of that
army for whose success they were now offering up thanks--for this was
the _Kennesgevin_, or day of thanksgiving, for the glorious victory
of Waterloo. We attended high mass at the Cathedral, as we had done
before--but with sensations how different! and if at that awful moment
my prayers had ascended to heaven, to crown with victory and glory the
arms of my country, the deep and fervent emotions of gratitude which
filled my heart were now offered up in thanksgiving to the throne of
divine mercy. The anxiety, the misery that I had endured when I was
before within these aisles, was too poignant to be easily forgotten;
but that remembrance made me feel more deeply the blessings which
Heaven had bestowed upon us.

Mass being over, we ascended by 640 steps to the top of the tower, or
rather of the staircase, of the Cathedral, for its utmost pinnacle is
accessible only to the winged inhabitants of air: but as we were not
furnished with wings, we were obliged to content ourselves, instead
of soaring higher, with gazing upon the magnificent prospect that lay
below us. The men and women flocking out of the churches through the
streets, looked exactly like a colony of ants swarming on the gravel
walks of a garden in a sunny day: the streets and houses looked like
the miniature model of a town in pasteboard; and the majestic Scheldt
like a long ribbon streaming through a measureless tract of country.

However, the view was both various and beautiful. Far as the eye
could reach, the rich fields and woods of Flanders, with its populous
villages, its lofty spires, and noble canals lay extended around us,
presenting a striking contrast to the cold, bare, triste, watery flats
of Holland, which were fresh in our remembrance; and Flanders, no
doubt, looked doubly beautiful from the recent comparison.

We distinctly saw the fortifications of Bergen-op-Zoom on one side, and
the steeple of Vilvorde on the other. We traced the Scheldt winding its
course through a rich country down towards the ocean. Upon its broad
bosom lay the vessels waving with the flag of Britain, and destined
to carry home the troops who had so bravely fought and bled in her
service, and for her glory.

When I thought of the dreadful waste of human life and sufferings
which the battle of Waterloo had cost the world, it almost seemed as
if it had been dearly purchased: yet in frequent indecisive battles,
and in long-protracted campaigns, more blood might--must have been
shed, without the same glorious or important results. In one great
day, years of bloodshed and of toil had been saved. In one tremendous
burst of thunder the war had ended, and the lightnings of Heaven in
that vengeful hour had descended upon the head of the guilty. The dark
cloud which menaced Europe had passed away, and the prospect was now
calm, bright, and unclouded. The blood of Britons had indeed flowed,
but it had flowed in a noble cause, and it had not flowed in vain. It
had secured present peace and security to the world, and it had left to
future ages the proudest monument of British fame.

But I forget that I am all this time upon the top of Antwerp Cathedral;
and it is high time to descend from my altitude. When we once more
reached the earth, we went to see a sort of religious puppet-show,
called Mount Calvary. It had been "got up" with great care and cost,
and must have required a world of labour; for there were artificial
rocks and caverns, and heaven and hell into the bargain; and it was
altogether a most edifying spectacle. There were the Crucifixion, and
the Virgin Mary, and St. Paul, and St. Peter,--and I dare say all the
rest of the Apostles, and at least fifty more holy persons, who were
most likely saints, all as large as life, and made of white stone.
There were also red-hot flaming furnaces of purgatory, filled with
figures of the same materials; with this difference, that they were
making horrible grimaces. There were also the Sepulchre and the Angel;
and our friend Mr. D. (the Antwerp merchant), who took us to see this
show, was in an ecstasy with it, and declared that all the paintings
in the world were not to be compared to it--nay, that he did actually
think that it was almost as well worth seeing as St. Paul's or the
Monument;--but this he asserted more cautiously.

We visited the house and the tomb of Rubens with more veneration than
we had paid to the shrines of all the saints. The people of Antwerp
almost adore the memory of this great artist. He was descended from
one of the most ancient families in Flanders; of noble birth and of
splendid fortune. Antwerp was the place of his birth and of his death,
and his spirit still seems to hover over it; for never did I witness
a passion for paintings, and a knowledge of the art, so universally
diffused among all classes as in this town. All the merchants, and even
the petty shopkeepers and tradespeople, have good paintings, both of
the Flemish and Italian school. In every house they may be seen; and
in every street even the lowest of the people may be heard to canvass
their merits. They still lament over the loss of the fine paintings
which were carried from the churches by the French; and they seemed
particularly to grieve for their celebrated Altar-piece, the pride of
their city, which was taken from them. They petitioned and implored
Buonaparte with so much importunity and perseverance to restore to
them this idol of their affections, that he at last promised it should
be sent back. In process of time, and in conformity with his imperial
word, there arrived the celebrated altar-piece of "The Descent from
the Cross,"--correctly copied from the original by a modern French
artist! The immortal touches of Rubens were not there. The fraud was
instantly discovered, and the people were indignant at this mockery of
restitution. They told us they intended immediately to send deputies
to Paris to claim this and the other treasures of which they had been
despoiled, and which now adorn the Louvre.

There are some very fine private cabinets of pictures in Antwerp, which
are opened to strangers with all that alacrity and politeness which in
England, in such cases, we are so lamentably and notoriously deficient
in. In one of these we saw the celebrated "Chapeau Pâle" of Rubens. I
was disappointed in it; probably from having had my expectations too
highly raised by hearing its beauties extravagantly extolled. In fact,
the subject does not call forth any great powers either of genius or
execution. It is simply the portrait of a handsome woman with a very
attractive countenance, and dressed in a very becoming grey beaver
hat and feather; and both the lady and her hat are most beautifully
painted. We saw some landscapes by Rubens, some of which were very
fine. There is no branch of painting which the versatile genius of this
wonderful man did not lead him to attempt, and none in which he did
not succeed. His Scriptural and historical paintings, upon which rests
his fame; his allegories, portraits, and landscapes, are well known:
but I have seen a miniature picture of his performance, beautifully
finished--a piece of fruit and flowers, very well executed, though in
an uncommon style--and lastly, _an interior_, not a servile copy of
Teniers, Ostade, or Gerard Douw, but marked with his own characteristic
originality of manner and expression. This last piece is in the
possession of a Flemish gentleman at Ghent.

At Antwerp we saw some beautiful landscapes by Asselins and
Dietrichsen; a very fine Holy Family by Murillo; and the Death of
Abel by Guido. The whole figure of Abel prostrate on the earth, but
especially the touching, the more than human expression of his face
as he looks up at his brother and his murderer, is one of the finest
things I ever beheld in painting. It is in that upward look of pathetic
supplication and unutterable feeling that Guido is unrivalled--it is
his characteristic excellence. We saw some very fine paintings both
by Italian and Flemish artists, but the fascination of the former, in
spite of myself, riveted my eyes upon their never-satiating beauties.
It is impossible not to feel the decided superiority of the Italian
over the Flemish school of painting, in force, delicacy, and dignity
of expression; in the power of transposing _soul_ into painting, if
I may so express myself, and in all that constitutes the greatness
and the sublimity of the art. But the Flemish artists laboured under
great natural disadvantages. They did not live beneath the brilliant
sky that sheds its tints of beauty over the happier climates of Italy
and Provence; they did not dwell in the enchanting vales and sunny
mountains, or gaze upon the caverned rocks and romantic solitudes
which formed and perfected the genius of a Claude Lorraine, Vernet,
Salvator Rosa, and Poussin. Fate threw Berghem and Both, and Cuyp,
under unkinder skies, and amidst less picturesque scenes; but in genius
they are perhaps equal, if not superior, to the French and Italian
masters. Nor were Rubens, Rembrandt, Teniers, and many of the Flemish
artists, inferior to any in conception and execution, in originality,
in invention, in truth of expression, and all the natural and acquired
powers which constitute the perfection of the painter's art. And if
the Italian artists--if Guido, Raphael, Buonarotti, Carlo Dolce, and
Correggio, possess a pathos and sublimity, a force, a grace, and an
undefinable charm of expression, which makes their works unequalled
on earth--let it be remembered that the Flemish artists did not,
like them, wake to life amidst the beauty and the harmony of nature;
they were not surrounded by faces and forms of speaking, moving
expression--of heavenly sublimity and soul-subduing tenderness. The
"human face divine" was not moulded of the finer elements of beauty
and of grace.--Painting is an imitative art. The world which Nature
had spread before them they copied, but they could not create a
new one. They were driven to seek in the habitations of men for the
sources of that interest which the scenes of Nature denied them; and
their powerful and original genius, seizing upon the materials which
surrounded them, formed for itself a new and distinct school. They were
most faithful copies of Nature. It is impossible to travel through
Belgium and Holland and not notice at every step the landscapes of
Hobbima, the _Interiors_ of Ostade and Gerard Douw; the faces, figures,
and humorous scenes which Teniers has exhibited so often to our view;
and to recognise at every turn the fat and fair, and well-fed and
well-clad beauties of F. Mieres. But the paintings and the painters
of Italy and Flanders have led me far from my travels. To return to

After the bright-painted, well-scoured, baby-house looking towns of
Holland, the streets of Antwerp appeared very grand and magnificent,
but extremely dirty. Remarking this to an English, or rather an
Irish officer, he laughed, and said they were beautifully clean in
comparison of the state in which the British troops found them when
they first came to the garrison. Their complaints of the filthiness
and unwholesomeness of the town produced no effect; and to their
representations of the necessity of cleaning it, the magistrates
answered, with offended dignity, that "the city of Antwerp _was_
clean." The British commandant then ordered our soldiers to sweep
the streets, and to pile up all the dirt against the houses of those
magistrates who with so much pertinacity maintained that the city of
Antwerp was clean! The mountains of dirt collected by the soldiers in
one morning blocked up the windows, and it was with difficulty that the
magistrates could get out of their doors. When they did, however, they
immediately bestirred themselves, convinced by more senses than one
that the city of Antwerp was _not_ clean; and they have taken due care
ever since that the streets shall be regularly swept.

The churches in Antwerp were once extremely rich in silver shrines,
images, ornaments, gold plate, and precious stones; but these
treasures, the Belgians said, had been carried off by Buonaparte: upon
more strict inquiry, we found that these alleged robberies of Napoléon
le Grand had been committed eighteen years ago, most probably by the
sacrilegious hands of the Jacobin Revolutionists, who would leave
little or nothing for imperial plunder. On my remarking this to one
of the Belgians, he said, with a shrug of the shoulder, "Ah! c'est
égal--ces gens-là étoient tous les mêmes--les coquins!"--but whatever
mischief has been done, they always lay it upon Buonaparte, whom they
hate with a bitterness surpassing all conception.

The journey betwixt Antwerp and Brussels was quite new to us. The
anxiety and agitation of mind which we had suffered on the day we left
Brussels for Antwerp, had so completely engrossed every faculty, that
the scenery on the way had not made the smallest impression on us. The
objects of living interest, with which the road was then crowded, had
alone fixed our attention. I could scarcely believe that I had ever
travelled this road before, or ever seen the towns and villages through
which we had so lately passed.

I beheld the same harvest, which I then feared would be reaped in
blood, ripening, to crown the hopes of the husbandman, beneath the
blessing of Heaven. My eye now rested with delight upon the corn
fields, waving in rich luxuriance, the deep verdure of the meadows,
and the lofty woods which diversified the prospect:--the peaceful and
prosperous appearance of the country, and the contented, gladsome faces
of the people, as they stood at their cottage-doors, "gay in their
Sunday 'tire," presented a happy contrast to the terrors and sufferings
we had witnessed, and the still more dreadful and multiplied horrors
which then seemed ready to burst upon this devoted country.

We entered Malines; but I did not retain the smallest recollection
of it until we again reached the inn. From the inn-window I well
remembered sorrowfully gazing into the market-place below, and
contemplating the train of baggage-waggons, the confusion of English
carriages, the parties of troops advancing, the wounded soldiers
returning, and the affrighted countenances of the poor Belgic
peasantry, crowding together in dismay, with which it was then filled.
Now I beheld a very different scene:--a crowd of Belgians, indeed,
filled the market-place, but it was a joyous, not a trembling crowd.
The people were all amusing themselves after their own fashion. Some
flocking to the Church; others gazing at a wonderful puppet-show,
which was stationed at the very door; others listening to a Belgic
ballad-singer, who was roaring out, in no very harmonious strains,
the downfal of Napoleon, and the warlike prowess of the Belgians; and
others were talking and laughing with most noisy glee. The sounds of
innocent mirth and pious gratitude were indeed a blessed contrast to
the terrors and anxiety we had before witnessed here.

The _Kennesgevin_, or thanksgiving, for the victory, and for the
deliverance of the country, had been celebrated, and one priest
mounting the pulpit after another, continued to preach a succession of
homilies to the people, who might listen to as many or as few of them,
as their piety or their taste dictated. We saw a young priest mount the
pulpit, and some of the congregation, who had been assembled during the
sermon of his predecessor, remained to hear him. He preached in the
Belgic language, therefore we could not understand him; his discourse
was apparently extempore, and accompanied with much ungraceful
gesticulation. In distant parts of the Church, before the shrine of
many a saint, numbers of pious votaries of both sexes were kneeling in
silence; engaged in their private earnest devotions, without attending
at all to the lectures of the priest, or being disturbed by those who,
like us, were wandering up and down the long-drawn aisles and decorated
chapels of this ancient Cathedral.

There is a perpetual going in and out, and moving backwards and
forwards, during the whole service of the Roman Catholic Church abroad.
The people, as soon as they have finished their own prayers, walk off
without ceremony, and are succeeded by others; which in a Protestant
church we should think a most scandalous proceeding; and indeed the
service of the Roman Catholic Church itself, both in England and in
Ireland, is conducted in a very different manner. It is a common
practice here, as well as in France and Italy, for strangers to walk
about and examine the churches, paintings, &c., when the Mass is
performing; nor does it seem to annoy the congregation in the least.

The Roman Catholic is the exclusive religion of Belgium no other form
of worship or religious persuasion seems to have any proselytes;
indeed, it is only in consequence of a law enacted since the present
King ascended the throne, that other religions have been tolerated.
The Belgians are very pious, and even bigoted; but they are not
gloomy, they are lively bigots; apparently without a doubt to disturb
the fulness of their faith; strict in their observances, gay in their
lives, happy in the consolation their religion gives them here, and in
its promises hereafter. Comparing their character with that of their
unbelieving neighbours, the French, I have no hesitation in preferring
bigotry to infidelity. Even the extreme of superstition is better than
the horrors of irreligion and atheism.

The Church of Malines is a fine old structure: the towers (for there
are two) seem to have been built at an earlier period than the body. We
were astonished at the magnificence of the interior. Its magnitude, its
antiquity, its lofty arches, its massive pillars, its rich altars, its
sculptured figures, and its carved confessionals, have a very imposing
effect; and the large, though not fine paintings which adorn its walls,
and the decorations which piety has profusely spread over every part of
this vast edifice, gave it an air of great splendour. Foreign churches
possess a decided advantage, to the eye of the mere spectator, over
those of England, from being wholly unincumbered with pews, which
certainly take from the grandeur and unity of the whole.

The pulpit of carved wood in this Church is most beautifully executed.
It was done only a few years ago by a Flemish artist. There are a few
pieces of sculpture of ancient date carved in wood in basso relievo,
and painted white, which I admired extremely. The expression given to
some of the figures and faces is quite astonishing.

We passed through Vilvorde, half-way to Brussels, where there is
a strong _Maison de force_ for the imprisonment and employment of
criminals. At the little inn where we had before baited our horses,
we stopped once more for the same purpose. The garçon remembered us
immediately, and with a countenance of great glee expressed his delight
to see us again, and described most vividly the distress they had
experienced, and all the rapid and dreadful alarms that had succeeded
to each other. He then reminded us of our parting prophecy, that the
Allies would be victorious, and that the French would never more
penetrate into Flanders, and he said, he had often thought of it since;
and that it had proved true, for they had indeed seen no French, except
"les François blessés."

We proceeded on our journey through a country still improving in
beauty. Sloping grounds, and woods and lawns, and country seats and
pleasure-grounds, and meadows covered with the richest verdure, greeted
our eyes as we advanced to Brussels. We met and passed several of the
Diligences; tremendous machines in size, and in slowness, not unlike
the vehicles which in England are used for the conveyance of wild
beasts from one town to another. They were filled with an innumerable
motley multitude, some of which were playing upon the fiddle, others
singing, and all merry-making, as they jogged along. The road was much
cut up with the passage of commissariat-waggons, long trains of which
we frequently met upon the way.

We drew near to Brussels, and traversed the margin of that calm and
quiet canal, which, when we left it, had presented a scene of such
horrid confusion; and as we approached Lacken we looked up at it once
more, but with very different feelings to those with which we had gazed
at it when we had passed it before, and recollected the boast Napoleon
had made the preceding day--"To-morrow I shall sleep at Lacken." It
was from hence that his premature pompous declarations to the Belgic
people were dated, announcing victory; which were even found ready
printed in his carriage at Charleroi, after his defeat and flight on
the 18th of June.

We entered a sort of wood. On each side of us, upon the grass and
beneath the shade of the trees, there was a large encampment of tents,
men, horses, waggons, huts, and arms; with all the accompaniments and
confusion attendant upon such an establishment. It formed, however, a
picturesque and animated scene; fires were burning, suppers cooking,
men sleeping, children playing, women scolding, horses grazing, and
waggons loading; while long carts and tumbrils were drawn up beneath
the trees; parties of Flemish drivers sitting on the ground round the
fires, drinking and smoking; and people moving to and fro in every
direction. This encampment belonged to the Commissariat department.

We passed the Allée Verte, usually the fashionable promenade for
carriages on Sunday evening; but though this was Sunday evening, it was
entirely deserted. The inhabitants of Brussels had not yet, perhaps,
resumed their habits of gaiety, and in fact the Allée Verte was nearly
impassable, owing to the heavy rains and the immense passage of
military carriages upon it.

We entered Brussels about the same hour that we had entered it for the
first time. Then, the British military were crowding every street;
standing at every corner; leaning out of every window, in the full
vigour of youth and hope and expectation: then, they were gaily talking
and laughing, unconscious that to many it was the last night of their
lives. Now, Brussels was filled with the wounded. It is impossible
to describe with what emotions we read the words "Militaires blessés"
marked upon every door; "un, deux, trois, quatre," even "huit Officiers
blessés," were written upon the houses in white chalk. As we slowly
passed along, at every open window we saw the wounded, "languid and
pale, the ghosts of what they were." In the Parc, which had presented
so gay a scene on the night of our arrival, crowded with military
men, and with fashionable women, a few officers, lame, disabled, or
supported on crutches, with their arms in slings, or their heads bound
up, were now only to be seen, slowly loitering in its deserted walks,
or languidly reclining on its benches. The Place Royale, which we had
left a dreadful scene of tumult and confusion, was now quite quiet, and
nearly empty. It was in all respects a melancholy contrast, and it was
with saddened hearts that we alighted at the Hôtel de Flandre, where
they gladly received us again, and talked much of the eventful scenes
that had followed our departure.

Colonel M., of the Inniskillen Dragoons, was in this hotel. He had
been severely wounded in five different places; he passed the night
after the battle on the road between Waterloo and Brussels, which was
completely blocked up from the excessive confusion occasioned by the
abandoned baggage and waggons. Although his life had been despaired of,
he was now recovering, and supposed to be out of danger. Some English
newspapers, which we borrowed, were indescribably interesting to us;
every particular relative to the battle we read, or rather devoured,
with insatiable avidity; but the list of the killed and wounded we
could not get a sight of till the next morning. Secure that none of
our own friends were contained in it, we restrained our impatience and
went to rest. Little did we know the shock that awaited us! the misery
of the following morning, when we saw the name of Major L. among the
list of severely wounded; and found him at last in a state of extreme
suffering and danger! The days of deep anxiety and individual grief
that followed I pass over in silence. Nor can I bear to dwell upon the
miseries it was our lot to witness; the still more excruciating and
hopeless sufferings which we daily heard related, and the scenes of
death and distracting affliction which surrounded us. How often was
the anxious inquiry made with trembling eagerness for a wounded friend
or relation--"Where is he to be found?" How often, after a few minutes
of torturing suspense, was the dreadful answer returned--"Dead of his
wounds!" Numbers of the young and the brave, after languishing for
weeks in hopeless agony, expired during our stay in Brussels; and it
happened more than once within our own knowledge, that the parents,
whose earthly hopes and happiness were centred in an only son, arrived
from England to see their wounded boy the very day of his decease--in
time to gaze upon his insensible and altered corpse, and to follow
the mortal remains of all they loved to the grave. The heart-broken
countenance, and the silent, motionless grief of one old man, whom I
saw under this dreadful affliction, made an impression on my mind too
strong to be easily forgotten. Despair seemed to have settled upon his
soul, but he neither shed a tear, nor uttered a complaint. I could not
even go from the hotel where we stayed to the house where Major L.
lodged, without passing crowded hospitals, filled with many hundreds
of poor wounded soldiers; and although every attention that skill
and humanity could suggest to contribute to their recovery was paid
to them, both by the British Government and the Belgic people, their
sufferings were dreadful. Many of the British officers died in the
common hospitals: they had been originally conveyed to them, and it was
afterwards found impossible to remove them.

At every corner the most pitiable objects struck one's eye. I could not
pass through a single street without meeting some unfortunate being,
the very sight of whose sufferings wrung my heart with anguish. Numbers
of young officers, in the very flower of life and vigour, pale, feeble,
and emaciated, were slowly dragging along their mutilated forms. Upon
couches, supported by pillows, near the open windows, numbers lay to
enjoy the fresh summer air, and divert the sense of pain by looking at
what passed in the streets. But we knew too well, that the sufferings
we saw were nothing to those we did not see. Every house was filled
with wounded British officers; and how many, like our old friend Major
L., were silently enduring lingering and excruciating torture, unable
to raise themselves from the couch of pain!

Often, as I gazed at the soldier's frequent funeral as it passed along,
I could not help thinking that, though no eye here was moistened
with a tear, yet in some remote cottage or humble dwelling of my
native country, the heart of the wife or the mother would be wrung
with despair for the loss of him who was now borne unnoticed to a
foreign grave. But let me not dwell upon these scenes of misery; their
remembrance is still too painful--though it can never be erased from my

When at last we had the consolation of seeing our good old friend out
of immediate danger, we dedicated one day to a visit to Waterloo.[20]

On the morning of Saturday the 15th of July, we set off to visit the
field of the ever-memorable and glorious battle of Waterloo. After
passing the ramparts, we descended to the pretty little village of
Ixelles, embosomed in woods and situated close to the margin of a
still, glassy piece of water. From thence we ascended a steep hill, and
immediately entered the deep shades of the forest of Soignies, which
extends about nine miles from Brussels. The morning was bright and
beautiful; the summer sun sported through the branches which met above
our heads, and gleamed upon the silver trunks of the lofty beech trees.
On either side woodland roads continually struck in various directions
through the forest; so seldom trodden, that they were covered with
the brightest verdure. At intervals, neat white-washed cottages,
and little villages by the road-side, enlivened the forest scenery.
We passed through "Vividolles," "La Petite Espinette," "La Grande
Espinette," "Longueville," and several other hamlets whose names I have

Upon the doors of many of the cottages we passed, were written, in
white chalk, the names of the officers who had used them for temporary
quarters on their way to the battle; or who had been carried there for
shelter in returning, when wounded and unable to proceed further. Many
we knew had died in these miserable abodes; but all the survivors,
excepting one or two of the most severely wounded, had now been removed
to Brussels. It was impossible to retrace, without emotion, the very
road by which our brave troops had marched out to battle, three weeks
before, and by which thousands had been brought back, covered with
wounds, in pain and torture. They alone of all that gallant army had
returned; thousands had met a glorious death upon the field of battle,
and the victorious survivors had pursued their onward march to the
capital of France.

I could not help asking myself, as we proceeded along, what would have
been the consequences if the French and British armies had happened to
encounter each other in the midst of this forest, instead of meeting,
as they did, a few miles beyond it? Had our troops been a little later
in leaving Brussels on the morning of the 16th of June, this must
inevitably have been the case; for it was impossible that the advanced
guard of Belgic troops, which was stationed at the outpost of Quatre
Bras, could have sustained the attack of the French, or have delayed
their progress for any length of time. But if the hostile armies had
encountered each other here, it would have been impossible that a
general action could have taken place; the thick entangled underwood
makes all entrance into the forest impracticable; and if they had
attempted to fight, the road would soon have been choked up with dead.
Yet the English, I imagine, would not have retreated, since, if they
had, they must either have abandoned Brussels to the enemy, or fought
under its very walls; and whether the French would have retreated
till they came to open ground, or how they would have manoeuvred in
such a situation, it was impossible for an unmilitary head like mine
even to form a conjecture. During the battle, all the cottages and
villages by the wayside had been deserted by their inhabitants, who
fled in consternation into the woods, in expectation of the victory
and immediate advance of the French, from whom they looked for no
mercy. The road had been so dreadfully cut up with the heavy rains and
the incessant travelling upon it, that notwithstanding three weeks of
summer weather had now elapsed since the battle, the chaussée in the
centre was worn into ruts upon the hard pavement, and in many places
it was still so deep, that the horses could scarcely drag us through;
the unpaved way on each side of the chaussée was perfectly impassable.
Along the whole way, shattered wheels and broken remains of waggons
still lay, buried among the mud. Their demolition was one of the many
consequences that resulted from the violent panic with which the men
who were left in charge of the baggage were seized towards the close
of the battle. It was originally caused, I understood, by the Belgic
cavalry, great numbers of whom fled in the heat of the desperate
attack made by the French upon our army in front of Mont St. Jean
before the Prussians came up. They were rallied and brought back by
some British officers; but, unable to stand the dreadful onset of the
French, they turned about again and fled in irretrievable confusion,
trampling upon the wounded and the dying in their speed, and spreading
the alarm that the battle was lost. With troops less steady, with any
other troops, in short, than the British, the example of flight, joined
to such an alarm, at this critical moment, might have occasioned the
loss of the battle in reality. The men stationed in the rear in charge
of the baggage, who knew nothing of what was going forward, believed at
once the report, and, without stopping a moment to ascertain its truth,
they set off at full speed. If the battle was lost, it was clearly
their business to run away, and they could not be accused of neglecting
this part of their duty. Following the example of the Belgians, they
all set off full gallop in the utmost confusion, pell-mell, along the
road to Brussels. Nothing is so infectious, nothing so rapid in its
progress as fear: the panic increased every moment; the terrified
fugitives overtook the carts filled with wounded, and encountered
waggons and troops, and military supplies coming up to the field. It
was impossible to pass: the road, confined on each side by the thickly
woven and impenetrable underwood, was speedily choked up; those who
were proceeding to the army insisted upon going one way, and those who
were running away from it, persisted in going the other. The confusion
surpassed all description; till at last, amidst the crash of waggons,
the imprecations of the drivers, and the cries of the soldiers, a
battle took place, and many were the broken heads and bruises, and
various were the wounds and contusions received in this inglorious
fray. It is even said, and I fear with truth, that some lives were
lost. The baggage was abandoned, and scattered along the road; the
waggons were thrown one upon another into the woods, and over the banks
by the road-side; the horses, half-killed, were left to perish; and the
wounded were deserted. Over every obstacle these panic-struck people,
frantic with fear, forced their way, and, pursued by nothing but their
own terrified imaginations, they arrived at Brussels, proclaiming the
dreadful news that the battle was lost, and the French advancing! The
fearful tidings extended from thence even into Holland; and thus, in
consequence of the cowardice of some Belgians and baggage-men, the
last and most dreadful alarm of Sunday night was spread over the whole

The road, the whole way through the forest of Soignies, was marked with
vestiges of the dreadful scenes which had recently taken place upon it.
Bones of unburied horses, and pieces of broken carts and harness were
scattered about. At every step we met with the remains of some tattered
clothes, which had once been a soldier's. Shoes, belts, and scabbards,
infantry caps battered to pieces, broken feathers and Highland bonnets
covered with mud, were strewn along the road-side, or thrown among
the trees. These mournful relics had belonged to the wounded who had
attempted to crawl from the fatal field, and who, unable to proceed
farther, had laid down and died upon the ground now marked by their
graves--if holes dug by the way-side and hardly covered with earth
deserved that name. The bodies of the wounded who died in the waggons
on the way to Brussels had also been thrown out, and hastily interred.

Thus the road between Waterloo and Brussels was one long uninterrupted
charnel-house: the smell, the whole way through the forest, was
extremely offensive, and in some places scarcely bearable. Deep
stagnant pools of red putrid water, mingled with mortal remains,
betrayed the spot where the bodies of men and horses had mingled
together in death. We passed a large cross on the left side of the
road, which had been erected in ancient times to mark the place where
_one_ human being had been murdered. How many had now sunk around it in
agony, and breathed, unnoticed and unpitied, their dying groans! It was
surrounded by many a fresh-made, melancholy mound, which had served for
the soldier's humble grave; but no monument points out to future times
the bloody spot where they expired; no cross stands to implore from the
passenger the tribute of a tear, or call forth a pious prayer for the
repose of the departed spirits who here perished for their country!

The melancholy vestiges of death and destruction became more frequent,
the pools of putrid water more deep, and the smell more offensive, as
we approached Waterloo, which is situated at the distance of about
three leagues, or scarcely nine miles, from Brussels. Before we left
the forest, the Church of Waterloo appeared in view, at the end of
the avenue of trees. It is a singular building, much in the form of a
Chinese temple, and built of red brick. On leaving the wood, we passed
the trampled and deep-marked bivouac, where the heavy baggage-waggons,
tilted carts, and tumbrils had been stationed during the battle, and
from which they had taken flight with such precipitation.

Even here cannon-balls had lodged in the trees, but had passed over
the roofs of the cottages. We entered the village which has given
its name to the most glorious battle ever recorded in the annals of
history. It was the Headquarters of the British army on the nights
preceding and following the battle. It was here the dispositions for
the action were made on Saturday afternoon. It was here on Monday
morning the dispatches were written, which perhaps contain the most
brief and unassuming account a conqueror ever penned, of the most
glorious victory that a conqueror ever won.[22] Waterloo consists of a
sort of long, irregular street of whitewashed cottages, through which
the road runs. Some of them are detached, and some built in rows. A
small house, with a neat, little, square flower-garden before it, on
the right hand, was pointed out to us as the quarters of Lord Uxbridge,
and the place where he remained after the amputation of his leg, until
well enough to bear removal. His name, and those of "His Grace the Duke
of Wellington," "His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange," and other
pompous titles, were written on the doors of these little thatched
cottages. We also read the lamented names of Sir Thomas Picton, Sir
Alexander Gordon, Sir William de Lancey, and Sir William Ponsonby, who
had slept there the night before the battle, and many others who now
sleep in the bed of honour. Volumes of sermons and homilies upon the
instability of human life could not have spoken such affecting and
convincing eloquence to our hearts as the sight of these names, thus
traced in chalk, which had been more durable than the lives of these
gallant men.

After leaving Waterloo, the ground rises: the wood, which had opened,
again surrounded us, though in a more straggling and irregular
manner--and it was not till we arrived at the little village of Mont
St. Jean, more than a mile beyond Waterloo, that we finally quitted the
shade of the forest, and entered upon the open field where the battle
had been fought. During the whole of the action the rear of the left
wing of our army rested upon this little village, from which the French
named the battle. We gazed with particular interest at a farm-house, at
the farthest extremity of the village nearest the field, on the left
side of the road,--with its walls and gates and roofs still bearing the
vestiges of the cannon-balls that had pierced them. Every part of this
house and offices was filled with wounded British officers; and here
our friend Major L. was conveyed in excruciating agony, upon an old
blanket, supported by the bayonets of four of his soldiers.

On the right we saw at some distance the church of Braine la Leude,
which was in the rear of the extremity of the right wing of our army.
From the top of the steeple of this church the battle might have
been seen more distinctly than from any other place, if any one had
possessed coolness and hardihood sufficient to have stood the calm
spectator of such a scene; and if some cannon-ball had not stopped his
observations by carrying off his head.

Alighting from the carriage, which we sent back to the barrière of Mont
St. Jean, we walked past the place where the beaten down corn, and the
whole appearance of the ground, would alone have been sufficient to
have indicated that it had been the bivouac of the British army on the
tempestuous night before the battle, when, after marching and fighting
all day beneath a burning sun, they lay all night in this swampy piece
of ground, under torrents of rain. We rapidly hurried on, until our
progress was arrested by a long line of immense fresh-made graves. We
suddenly stopped--we stood rooted to the spot--we gazed around us in
silence; for the emotions that at this moment swelled our hearts were
too deep for utterance--we felt that we stood on the field of battle!

"And these, then, are the graves of the brave!" at length mournfully
exclaimed one of the party, after a silence of some minutes, hastily
wiping away some "natural tears." "Look how they extend all along in
front of this broken, beaten-down hedge--what tremendous slaughter!"
"This is, or rather was," said an officer who was our conductor,
"the hedge of La Haye Sainte;[23] the ground in front of it, and
the narrow lane that runs behind it, were occupied by Sir Thomas
Picton's division, which formed the left wing of the army; and it
was in leading forward his men to a glorious and successful charge
against a furious attack made by an immense force of the enemy, that
this gallant and lamented officer fell. He was shot through the head,
and died instantly, without uttering a word or a groan!" We gazed at
the opposite height, or rather bank, upon which the French army was
posted. We thought of the feelings with which our gallant soldiers
must have viewed it, before the action commenced, when it was covered
with the innumerable legions of France, ranged in arms against them.
The solemn and portentous stillness which precedes the bursting of the
tempest, is nothing to the awful sublimity of a moment such as this.
The threatening columns of that immense army, which their valour had
destroyed and scattered, were then ready to pour down upon them. The
cannon taken in the action, which now stood in the field before us
under the guard of a single British soldier, were then turned against

The field-pieces taken by the Prussians in the pursuit were not here.
But 130 pieces of cannon belonging to the British, and taken by them on
the field of battle, still remained here. We went to examine them; they
were beautiful pieces of ordnance, inscribed with very whimsical names,
and some of them with the revolutionary words of Liberté, Egalité,
Fraternité! Our own artillery, which was admirably served, had been
principally placed in two lines upon the ridge of the gentle slope
on which our army was stationed. About four o'clock in the afternoon
the first line of guns advanced, and the second took the place which
the first had before occupied; it was also placed upon every little
eminence over the field, and it did great execution amongst the enemy's

The ground occupied by Sir Thomas Picton's division, on the left of
the road from Brussels, is lower than any other part of the British
position. It is divided from the more elevated ridge where the French
were posted by a very gentle declivity. To the right the ground rises,
and the hollow irregularly increases, until at Château Hougoumont it
becomes a sort of small dell or ravine, and the banks are both high and
steep. But the ground occupied by the French is uniformly higher, and
decidedly a stronger position than ours.

Nothing struck me with more surprise than the confined space in which
this tremendous battle had been fought; and this, perhaps, in some
measure contributed to its sanguinary result. The space which divided
the two armies from the farm-house of La Haye Sainte, which was
occupied by our troops, to La Belle Alliance, which was occupied by
theirs, would, I think, scarcely measure three furlongs. Not more than
half a mile could have intervened between the main body of the French
and English armies; and from the extremity of the right to that of the
left wing of our army, I should suppose to be little more than a mile.

The hedge along which Sir Thomas Picton's division was stationed, and
through which the Scots Greys, with the Royals and the Inniskillens,
headed by Lord Uxbridge, made their glorious and decisive charge at the
close of the action, is almost the only one in the field of battle.
The ground is occasionally divided by some shallow ditches, and in one
place there is a sort of low mud dyke, which was very much broken and
beaten down. This was not on the ground our troops occupied, but rather
below the French position; and excepting this, the whole field of
battle is unenclosed. The ground is, however, very uneven and broken,
and the soil a strong clay. It belongs to different farmers, and bore
crops of different kinds of corn; but it is entirely arable land, and,
excepting a very small piece on the French side, none of it was in

Against the left wing of our army the attacks of the French were
furious and incessant. Buonaparte had stationed opposite to it the
chief body of his Corps de Réserve, and fresh columns of troops
continually poured down, without being able to make the smallest
impression upon the firm and impenetrable squares which the British
regiments formed to receive them. It was Buonaparte's object to turn
the left wing of our army, and cut it off from the Prussians, with whom
a communication was maintained through Ohain, and who were known (at
least by the commanders of the British army) to be advancing.[25] The
Duke expected them to have joined before one o'clock, but it was seven
before they made their appearance.

On the top of the ridge in front of the British position, on the left
of the road, we traced a long line of tremendous graves, or rather
pits, into which hundreds of dead had been thrown as they had fallen
in their ranks, without yielding an inch of ground. The effluvia which
arose from them, even beneath the open canopy of heaven, was horrible;
and the pure west wind of summer, as it passed us, seemed pestiferous,
so deadly was the smell that in many places pervaded the field. The
fresh-turned clay which covered those pits betrayed how recent had
been their formation. From one of them the scanty clods of earth which
had covered it had in one place fallen, and the skeleton of a human
face was visible. I turned from the spot in indescribable horror, and
with a sensation of deadly faintness which I could scarcely overcome.

On the opposite side of the road we scrambled up a perpendicular
bank, through which the road had evidently been cut. It was upon this
eminence that the Duke of Wellington stood, beneath the memorable tree,
from the commencement of the action, surrounded by his staff. It was
here, we were told, that in the most critical part of it he rallied the
different regiments, and led them on again in person to renew the shock
of battle. Here we stood some time to survey the field.

Immediately before us, nearly in the hollow, was the farm-house of
La Haye Sainte, surrounded by a quadrangular wall, full of holes for
musketry. At the commencement of the action it was occupied by the
British, and it formed the most advanced post of the left centre of
our army. It was gallantly and successfully defended by a detachment
of the light battalion of the German Legion, until nearly the close
of the day, when their ammunition was exhausted; it was impossible to
send them a supply, as all communication with them was cut off by the
enemy, who at length succeeded in carrying it, after a most obstinate
resistance; but its brave defenders only resigned its possession with
their lives.

On the opposite side of the road, a little behind La Haye Sainte,
and immediately below the ground occupied by Sir Thomas Picton's
division, is a quarry which was surrounded by British artillery at
the commencement of the battle. Towards the close of the action it
was filled with the wounded, who had taken refuge in it as a shelter
from the shot and shells, and from the charge of the cavalry--when,
horrible to relate! a body of French Cuirassiers were completely
overthrown into this quarry by a furious charge of the British,
and horses and riders were rolled in death upon these unfortunate
sufferers. The ghastly spectacle which it exhibited next morning was
described to me by an eye-witness of this scene of horror. On the
left, in the hollow between the two armies, we saw the hamlet of Ter
la Haye, which was occupied by British troops;--its possession was
never disputed by the enemy, although it was close advanced upon their
position. Beyond it, still farther to the left, were the woods of
Frischermont, and the road to Wavre, from which the Prussians issued
through a narrow defile, and advanced to attack the right flank of the

These woods bounded the prospect on that side. On the right stood the
ruins of Château Hougoumont (or Château Goumont, as the country-people
called it), concealed from view by a small wood which crowns the hill.
It formed the most advanced post of the right centre of our army,
and it was defended to the last with efforts of successful valour,
almost more than human, against the overpowering numbers and furious
attacks of the enemy. The battle commenced here about eleven o'clock.
The French, suddenly uncovering a masked battery, opened a tremendous
fire upon this part of our position, and advanced to the attack with
astonishing impetuosity, led on, it is said, by Jerome Buonaparte in
person, while Napoleon viewed it from his station near the Observatory
on the opposite height. They were completely repulsed by the bravery of
General Byng's brigade of Guards, but they succeeded in carrying the
wood, which was occupied by the Belgic troops. The French, however,
after a dreadful struggle, were driven out of the wood again by the
Coldstreams and the third regiment of Guards, and never afterwards
were able to regain possession of it. The Black Brunswickers behaved
most gallantly. In retrieving the consequences of the misconduct of
the Belgic troops, and in defending the Château and the garden, the
British Guards performed prodigies of valour, though they suffered
most severely. Lieutenant General Cooke, Major-General Byng, Lord
Saltoun, the lamented Colonel Miller, who died as he had lived--a brave
and honourable soldier; Captain Adair, Captains Evelyn and Ellis;
Colonels Askew, Dashwood, and D'Oyley, with many others, particularly
distinguished themselves by their steady gallantry and personal valour.
The house was consumed by fire, and numbers of the wounded perished in
the flames; yet the British maintained possession of it to the last,
in spite of the incessant and desperate attacks of the enemy, who
directed against it a furious fire of shot and shells, under cover of
which large bodies of troops advanced continually to the assault, and
were driven back again and again with tremendous slaughter. Without the
possession of this important post the right flank of our army could not
be attacked; it formed what is called the key of the position; from its
elevation it commanded the whole of the ground occupied by our army,
and had it been lost, the victory to the French would scarcely have
been doubtful.

Opposite, but divided from it by a deep hollow, were the heights
occupied by the French, upon which, at some distance, and secure from
the storm of war, stands the Observatory, where Buonaparte stationed
himself at the beginning of the action, and whence he issued his
orders, and commanded column after column to advance to the charge,
and rush upon destruction. His "invincible" legions, his invulnerable
Cuirassiers, in vain assaulted the position of the British with the
most furious and undaunted resolution. In vain the vast tide of battle
rolled on--like the rocks of their native land, they repelled its
rage.--Squares of infantry received the onset of the French columns;
directed against them a steady and uninterrupted fire of musketry, and
stood firm and unshaken beneath the most tremendous showers of shot
and shell. Every vacancy caused by death was instantly filled up: the
enemy vainly sought for an opening through which they might penetrate
the impenetrable phalanx; and when at last they receded from the
ineffectual attack, the British cavalry rushed forward to the charge,
and, notwithstanding their superiority of numbers, drove them back
with immense slaughter. But I am relating the history of the battle,
forgetful that I am only describing the field.

From the spot where we now stood I cast my eyes on every side, and saw
nothing but the dreadful and recent traces of death and devastation.
The rich harvests of standing corn,[26] which had covered the scene
of action we were contemplating, had been beaten into the earth, and
the withered and broken stalks dried in the sun, now presented the
appearance of stubble, though blacker and far more bare than any
stubble land.

In many places the excavations made by the shells had thrown up the
earth all around them; the marks of horses' hoofs, that had plunged
ankle deep in clay, were hardened in the sun; and the feet of men,
deeply stamped into the ground, left traces where many a deadly
struggle had been. The ground was ploughed up in several places with
the charge of the cavalry, and the whole field was literally covered
with soldiers' caps, shoes, gloves, belts, and scabbards; broken
feathers battered into the mud, remnants of tattered scarlet or blue
cloth, bits of fur and leather, black stocks and havresacs, belonging
to the French soldiers, buckles, packs of cards, books, and innumerable
papers of every description. I picked up a volume of Candide; a few
sheets of sentimental love-letters, evidently belonging to some French
novel; and many other pages of the same publication were flying
over the field in much too muddy a state to be touched. One German
Testament, not quite so dirty as many that were lying about, I carried
with me nearly the whole day; printed French military returns, muster
rolls, love-letters, and washing bills; illegible songs, scattered
sheets of military music, epistles without number in praise of
"l'Empereur, le Grand Napoléon," and filled with the most confident
anticipations of victory under his command, were strewed over the field
which had been the scene of his defeat. The quantities of letters
and of blank sheets of dirty writing paper were so great that they
literally whitened the surface of the earth.

The road to Genappe, descending from the front of the British position,
where we were now standing, passes the farm-house of La Haye Sainte,
and ascends the opposite height, on the summit of which stands La
Belle Alliance, which was occupied by the French. We walked down the
hill to La Haye Sainte--its walls and slated roofs were shattered and
pierced through in every direction with cannon shot. We could not get
admittance into it, for it was completely deserted by its inhabitants.
Three wounded officers of the 42nd and 92nd Regiments were standing
here to survey the scene: they had all of them been wounded in the
battle of the 16th. One of them had lost an arm, another was on
crutches, and the third seemed to be very ill. Their carriage waited
for them, as they were unable to walk. After some conversation with
them, we proceeded up the hill to the hamlet of La Belle Alliance.
The principal house on the left side of the road was pierced through
and through with cannon balls, and the offices behind it were a heap
of dust from the fire of the British artillery. Notwithstanding the
ruinous state of the house, it was filled with inhabitants. Its broken
walls, "its looped and windowed wretchedness," might indeed defend them
sufficiently "well from seasons such as these," when the soft breezes
and the bright beams of summer played around it--but against "the
pelting of the storm," it would afford them but a sorry shelter. It was
immediately to be repaired; but I rejoiced that it yet remained in its
dilapidated state.

The house was filled with vestiges of the battle. Cuirasses, helmets,
swords, bayonets, feathers, brass eagles, and crosses of the Legion
of Honour, were to be purchased here. The house consisted of three
rooms, two in front, and a very small one behind. On the opposite side
of the road is a little cottage, forming part of the hamlet of La
Belle Alliance; and at a short distance, by the way side, is another
low-roofed cottage, which was pointed out to us as the place where
Buonaparte breakfasted on the morning of the battle. Farther along this
road, but not in sight, was the village of Planchenoit, which was the
head-quarters of the French on the night of the 17th.[27]

We crossed the field from this place to Château Hougoumont, descending
to the bottom of the hill, and again ascending the opposite side. Part
of our way lay through clover; but I observed that the corn on the
French position was not nearly so much beaten down as on the English,
which might naturally be expected, as they attacked us incessantly,
and we acted on the defensive, until that last, general, and decisive
charge of our whole army was made, before which theirs fled in
confusion. In some places patches of corn nearly as high as myself
was standing. Among them I discovered many a forgotten grave, strewed
round with melancholy remnants of military attire. While I loitered
behind the rest of the party, searching among the corn for some relics
worthy of preservation, I beheld a human hand, almost reduced to a
skeleton, outstretched above the ground, as if it had raised itself
from the grave. My blood ran cold with horror, and for some moments I
stood rooted to the spot, unable to take my eyes from this dreadful
object, or to move away: as soon as I recovered myself, I hastened
after my companions, who were far before me, and overtook them just as
they entered the wood of Hougoumont. Never shall I forget the dreadful
scene of death and destruction which it presented. The broken branches
were strewed around, the green beech leaves fallen before their time,
and stripped by the storm of war, not by the storm of Nature, were
scattered over the surface of the ground, emblematical of the fate of
the thousands who had fallen on the same spot in the summer of their
days. The return of spring will dress the wood of Hougoumont once more
in vernal beauty, and succeeding years will see it flourish:

  "But when shall spring visit the mouldering urn,
  Oh! when shall it dawn on the night of the grave!"

The trunks of the trees had been pierced in every direction with
cannon-balls. In some of them I counted the holes, where upwards of
thirty had lodged:[28] yet they still lived, they still bore their
verdant foliage, and the birds still sang amidst their boughs. Beneath
their shade the hare-bell and violet were waving their slender
heads; and the wild raspberry at their roots was ripening its fruit.
I gathered some of it with the bitter reflection, that amidst the
destruction of human life these worthless weeds and flowers had escaped

Melancholy were the vestiges of death that continually met our eyes.
The carnage here had indeed been dreadful. Amongst the long grass lay
remains of broken arms, shreds of gold lace, torn epaulets, and pieces
of cartridge boxes; and upon the tangled branches of the brambles
fluttered many a tattered remnant of a soldier's coat. At the outskirts
of the wood, and around the ruined walls of the Château, huge piles
of human ashes were heaped up, some of which were still smoking. The
countrymen told us, that so great were the numbers of the slain, that
it was impossible entirely to consume them. Pits had been dug, into
which they had been thrown, but they were obliged to be raised far
above the surface of the ground. These dreadful heaps were covered with
piles of wood, which were set on fire, so that underneath the ashes lay
numbers of human bodies unconsumed.

The Château itself, the beautiful seat of a Belgic gentleman, had been
set on fire by the explosion of shells during the action, which had
completed the destruction occasioned by a most furious cannonade. Its
broken walls and falling roof presented a most melancholy spectacle:
not melancholy merely from its being a pile of ruins, but from the
vestiges it presented of that tremendous and recent warfare by which
those ruins had been caused. Its huge blackened beams had fallen in
every direction upon the crumbling heaps of stone and plaster, which
were intermixed with broken pieces of the marble flags, the carved
cornices, and the gilded mirrors, that once ornamented it.

We went into the garden, which had sustained comparatively little
injury, while every thing around it was laid waste. Its gay parterres
and summer flowers made it look like an island in the desert. A
berçeau, or covered walk, ran round it, shaded with creeping plants,
amongst which honey-suckles and jessamines were intermixed, en
treillage. The trees were loaded with fruit; the myrtles and fig-trees
were flourishing in luxuriance, and the scarlet geraniums, July
flowers, and orange-trees, were in full blow. My native country can
boast of no such beauty as bloomed at Château Hougoumont: its rugged
clime produces no fruitful fig-trees, no flowers rich in the fragrance
of orange blossom:--but it is the land of heroes!

  "Man is the nobler growth our realms supply,
  And souls are ripened in our northern sky."

I saw the pure and polished leaves of the laurel shining in the sun,
and I could not restrain my tears at the thought that the laurels, the
everlasting laurels which England had won upon this spot, were steeped
in the heart-blood of thousands of her brave, her lamented sons. But
if not immortal in their lives, they will be so in their fame: their
laurels will never wither; and no British heart, henceforward, will
ever visit this hallowed spot without paying a tribute of veneration
and regret to those gallant spirits who here fought and fell for their

At the garden gate I found the holster of a British officer, entire,
but deluged with blood. In the inside was the maker's name--Beazley
and Hetse, No. 4, Parliament-street. All around were strewed torn
epaulets, broken scabbards, and sabretashes stained and stiffened
with blood--proofs how dreadfully the battle had raged. The garden
and courts were lined during the engagement with Nassau troops, as
sharpshooters, who did great execution.

A poor countryman, with his wife and children, inhabited a miserable
shed amongst these deserted ruins. This unfortunate family had only
fled from the spot on the morning of the battle. Their little dwelling
had been burnt, and all their property had perished in the flames. They
had scarcely clothes to cover them, and were destitute of everything.
Yet the poor woman, as she told me the story of their distresses, and
wept over the baby that she clasped to her breast, blessed heaven that
she had preserved her children. She seemed most grateful for a little
assistance, took me into her miserable habitation, and gave me the
broken sword of a British officer of infantry (most probably of the
Guards), which was the only thing she had left; and which, with some
other relics before collected, I preserved as carefully as if they had
been the most valuable treasures.

It is a remarkable circumstance that amidst this scene of destruction,
and surrounded on all sides by the shattered walls and smoking piles
of "this ruined and roofless abode," the little chapel belonging to
the Château stood uninjured. Its preservation appeared to these simple
peasants an unquestionable miracle; and we felt more inclined to
respect than to wonder at the superstitious veneration with which they
regarded it. No shot nor shell had penetrated its consecrated walls;
no sacrilegious hand had dared to violate its humble altar, which was
still adorned with its ancient ornaments and its customary care. A type
of that blessed religion to which it was consecrated, it stood alone,
unchanged, amidst the wreck of earthly greatness--as if to speak to our
hearts, amidst the horrors of the tomb, the promises of immortality;
and to recal our thoughts from the crimes and sorrows of earth to the
hopes and happiness of heaven. The voice of the Divinity himself within
his holy temple seemed to tell us, that those whom we lamented here,
and who, in the discharge of their last and noblest duty to their
country, had met on the field of honour "the death that best becomes
the brave,"--should receive in another and a better world their great
reward! Blackened piles of human ashes surrounded us; but I felt that
though "the dust returns to the earth, the spirit returns unto Him that
gave it."

The countryman led me to one of these piles within the gates of the
court belonging to the Château, where, he said, the bodies of three
hundred of the British Guardsmen who had so gallantly defended it, had
been burnt as they had been found, heaped in death.[29] I took some of
the ashes and wrapped them up in one of the many sheets of paper that
were strewed around me; perhaps those heaps that then blackened the
surface of this scene of desolation are already scattered by the winds
of winter, and mingled unnoticed with the dust of the field; perhaps
the few sacred ashes which I then gathered at Château Hougoumont are
all that is now to be found upon earth of the thousands who fell upon
this fatal field!

It was not without regret that we left this ever-memorable spot,
surrounded as it was by horrors that shocked the mind, and vestiges
that were revolting to the senses. Still we lingered around it, till
at length, after gazing for the last time at its ruined archways and
desolated courts, we struck into the wood, and lost sight for ever of
the Château Hougoumont. The road to Nivelles, which strikes off to the
right from the highroad to Genappe at the village of Mont St. Jean,
passes the Château on the other side. The right wing of the British
army crossed this road, and in the deep ditches on each side of it we
were told that human remains still lay uninterred. Some of the party
returned to Mont St. Jean by this road, which is considerably nearer;
but my brother, my sister, and myself, once more crossed the field in
order to pay another visit to La Belle Alliance.

I could not be persuaded to go to see the skeleton of a calf which had
been burnt in one of the outhouses of Hougoumont, and over which one
of the ladies of our party uttered the most pathetic lamentations.
It seemed to fill her mind with more concern than anything else.
At another time I might have been sorry for the calf; but when I
remembered how many poor wounded men had been burnt alive in these
ruins, it was impossible to bestow a single thought upon its fate.
Finding that her sensibility obtained no sympathy from me, the lady
turned to my sister, and began to bewail the calf anew, till at last,
wearied out with such folly, "out of her grief and her impatience,"
she exclaimed, "that she did not care if all the calves in the world
had been burnt, compared to one of the brave men who had perished here."

As we passed again through the wood of Hougoumont, I gathered some
seeds of the wild broom, with the intention of planting them at
H. Park, and with the hope that I should one day see the broom of
Hougoumont blooming on the banks of the Tweed. In leaving the wood I
was struck with the sight of the scarlet poppy flaunting in full bloom
upon some new-made graves, as if in mockery of the dead. In many parts
of the field these flowers were growing in profusion: they had probably
been protected from injury by the tall and thick corn amongst which
they grew, and their slender roots had adhered to the clods of clay
which had been carelessly thrown upon the graves. From one of these
graves I gathered the little wild blue flower known by the sentimental
name of "Forget me not!" which to a romantic imagination might have
furnished a fruitful subject for poetic reverie or pensive reflection.

While my sister was taking a view of the field of battle, and my
brother was overlooking and guarding her, I entered the cottage of "La
Belle Alliance," and began to talk to Baptiste la Coste, Buonaparte's
guide, whom I found there. He is a sturdy, honest-looking countryman,
and gave an interesting account of Buonaparte's behaviour during the
battle. He said that he issued his orders with great vehemence, and
even impatience: he took snuff incessantly, but in a hurried manner,
and apparently from habit, and without being conscious that he was
doing so: he talked a great deal, and very rapidly--his manner of
speaking was abrupt, quick, and hurried: he was extremely nervous and
agitated at times, though his anticipations of victory were most
confident. He frequently expressed his astonishment, rather angrily,
that the British held out so long--at the same time he could not
repress his admiration of their gallantry, and often broke out into
exclamations of amazement and approbation of their courage and conduct.
He particularly admired the Scotch Greys--"Voilà ces chevaux gris--ah!
ce sont beaux cavaliers--très beaux;" and then he said they would all
be cut to pieces. He said--"These English certainly fight well, but
they must soon give way;" and he asked Soult, who was near him, "if
he did not think so?" Soult replied, "He was afraid not." "And why?"
said Napoleon, turning round to him quickly. "Because," said Soult,
"I believe they will first be cut to pieces." Soult's opinion of the
British army, which was founded on experience, coincided with that of
the Duke of Wellington. "It will take a great many hours to cut them
in pieces," said the Duke, in answer to something that was said to him
during the action; "and I know they will never give way."

Buonaparte, however, who knew less of them, and whose head always ran
upon the idea of the English flying to their ships, had never dreamt
that with a force so inferior they would think of giving him battle,
but imagined that they would continue their retreat during the night,
and that he should have to pursue them. It is said that he expressed
great satisfaction when the morning broke and he saw them still there;
and that he exclaimed, "Ah! pour le coup--je les tiens donc--ces

Before the engagement began he harangued the army, promising them the
plunder of Brussels and Ghent. Once, towards the close of the battle,
he addressed himself to the Imperial Guard, leading them on to the
brink of the hill, and telling them "that was the road to Brussels."
Regardless of the waste of human life, he incessantly ordered his
battalions to advance--to bear down upon the enemy--to carry every
thing before them. He inflamed their ardour by the remembrance of past,
as well as the prospect of present victory, and the promise of future
reward: but he never led them on to battle himself--he never once
braved the shock of British arms. It is not true as has been reported,
that he was ever near Lord Uxbridge, or in any danger of being taken
prisoner by the English. Indeed, he exposed himself to very little
personal risk--a proof of which is, that not one of those who attended
him the whole day was wounded.

La Coste said, that at first, when he was told that the Prussians were
advancing, he obstinately and angrily refused to believe it, declaring
it was the French corps under Marshal Grouchy.[30] He then commanded
this news to be spread amongst the army, and ordered Marshal Ney, at
the head of two columns, each composed of four battalions of the old
Imperial Guard, and seconded by all the available force of the French
army, both cavalry and infantry, to charge, and to penetrate to the
centre of the British position. He stood to witness the desperate
struggle which ensued, and the final and complete overthrow of the
_élite_ of his gallant army, of immensely preponderating force, by
a handful of determined British troops; but when he perceived his
"invincible legions" give way, and retreat in confusion before the
grand simultaneous charge of the British army, which immediately
ensued, led by the Duke of Wellington in person, who was amongst the
foremost in the onset, he turned pale, his perturbation became extreme,
and exclaiming, "All is lost--let us save ourselves" (Tout est perdu;
or, Sauve qui peut!), or words to that effect; he put spurs to his
horse, and galloped from the field. La Coste expressly said, that he
was among the first of the officers to set the example of flight.[31]
His own old Imperial Guard still remained--disputed every foot of
ground--fought desperately to the last, and at length, overpowered by
numbers, fell gloriously--as their leader should have fallen.

But he!--not even despair could prompt him to one noble thought, or
rouse him to one deed of desperate valour. He fled--as at Egypt, at
Moscow, and at Leipsic he had fled--while his faithful veterans were
still fighting with enthusiastic gallantry, and shedding the last drop
of their blood in his cause!

Was this the conduct of a hero? Was this the conduct of a general? Was
this the conduct of a great mind? No! He had set his "life upon a cast,
and he should have stood the hazard of the die." And for what did he
abandon his army, and basely fly in the hour of danger? That he might
be humiliated, pursued, and taken--that he might become a suppliant to
that hated enemy whose ruin he had pursued with implacable hostility,
and be indebted to their faith and generosity for life and safety--that
he might live to hear his name execrated, and linger out a few years
of miserable existence in exile, obscurity, and degradation.

It has been said by his advocates and admirers, that he was not only a
great man, but the greatest man who ever lived--and that his only fault
was ambition. Yes! Napoleon Buonaparte had, indeed, ambition; but it
was selfish ambition; it was for power, not for glory; for unbounded
empire and unlimited dominion, not for the welfare of his subjects and
the prosperity of his country. He used the talents, the opportunities,
and the power, with which he was gifted, and such as perhaps no mortal
ever before enjoyed, not to save, but to destroy, not to bless, but to
desolate, the world.

The conduct of the leaders of the contending armies was as opposite as
the cause for which they fought. While Napoleon kept aloof from the
action, Lord Wellington exposed himself to the hottest fire, threw
himself into the thickest of the fight, and braved every danger of the
battle. He issued every order, he directed every movement, he seemed
to be everywhere present, he encouraged his troops, he rallied his
regiments, he led them on against the tremendous forces of the enemy,
charged at their head, and defeated their most formidable attacks. No
private soldier in his army was exposed to half the personal danger
that he encountered.[32] All who surrounded him fell by his side,
wounded and dying. All his personal staff, with scarcely an exception,
were either killed or wounded. In the battle's most terrible moment,
and most hopeless crisis, when our gallant army, weakened by immense
losses, and by more than seven hours of unequal combat, were scarcely
able to stand against the overwhelming number of fresh troops which
the enemy poured down against them; when the recreant Belgians fled,
when every British soldier was in action, when reinforcements were
asked for in vain; when no reserve remained, and no prospect of succour
from our allies appeared, Lord Wellington, exposed to the hottest
fire, calmly rode along the lines of his diminished army, animating
and encouraging the men; directed fresh arrangements of his remaining
forces; rallied in the fight, the wavering Brunswickers, cheered on,
and headed the brave British Brigades,[33] and finally, having repulsed
the last tremendous attack of the enemy,--with the memorable words, "Up
guards! and at them!" led on the remnant of his gallant army to the
most glorious victory a general ever won.[34]

Nor was the conduct of the two generals on this day more opposite
than that of the armies which they commanded, and the motives by
which they were actuated. The French fought to obtain plunder and
aggrandisement--the British to fulfil their duty to their country.
Well did their generals know this essential difference! Buonaparte
held out to his troops the spoils of Belgium and Holland. When he
wished to animate them to the greatest exertions, he led them forward
and told them, "That was the road to Brussels!" Lord Wellington, in
the most critical moment of the battle, held another language. "We
must not be beaten," he said to his soldiers; "What will they say of
us in England!" After the battle their conduct was equally different.
The French had murdered numbers of their prisoners, and those whose
lives they spared, they robbed, insulted, and treated with the utmost
cruelty, shutting them up without food, without dressing their wounds,
and subjecting them to every hardship and privation. The British, on
the contrary, though irritated by the knowledge of these barbarities,
protected the wounded French from the rage of the Prussians, who would
have gladly revenged the cruelties with which they had been treated by
them. Our wounded soldiers, who were able to move, employed themselves
in assisting their suffering enemies, binding up their wounds, and
giving them food and water--but the brave are always merciful.

A countryman, who belonged either to La Belle Alliance, or to some of
the neighbouring cottages, told me, that when he came here early on the
morning after the battle, the house was surrounded with the wounded and
dying of the French army, many of whom implored him, for God's sake, to
put an end to their sufferings.

But the agonising scenes which had so recently taken place here, and
the images of horror which every object in and around La Belle Alliance
was irresistibly calculated to suggest to the mind, were almost too
dreadful for reflection. More pleasing was the remembrance, that it was
here Napoleon Buonaparte stood when he prematurely dispatched a courier
to Paris with the false news that he had won the day; and that it was
here the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Blucher accidently met, a few
hours after, in the very moment of victory, when Buonaparte was flying
before their triumphant armies, himself the bearer of the news of his
own defeat. [_See_ Appendix, E.]

The interview between the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Blucher was
short, but it will be for ever memorable in the annals of history.
They did not enter the house, but remained together a few minutes in
earnest conversation. It is well known that Blucher and the Prussians
continued the pursuit during the night. The remains of the British army
rested from their toils on the ground, surrounded by the bleeding and
dying French, on the very spot which they had occupied the preceding
night--and Lord Wellington returned to Waterloo.

"As he crossed again the fatal field, on which the silence of death
had now succeeded to the storm of battle, the moon, breaking from
dark clouds, shed an uncertain light upon this wide scene of carnage,
covered with mangled thousands of that gallant army whose heroic valour
had won for him the brightest wreath of victory, and left to future
times an imperishable monument of their country's fame. He saw himself
surrounded by the bloody corpses of his veteran soldiers, who had
followed him through distant lands, of his friends, his associates in
arms, his companions through many an eventful year of danger and of
glory: in that awful pause, which follows the mortal conflict of man
with man, emotions, unknown or stifled in the heat of battle, forced
their way--the feelings of the man triumphed over those of the general,
and in the very hour of victory Lord Wellington burst into tears."[35]

The state of the wounded during this dreadful night may be conceived.
Not even a drop of water was to be had on the field to relieve their
thirst, and none was to be procured nearer than Waterloo. Late as it
was, and exhausted as our officers must have been with the fatigue of
such unremitting exertions, many of them mounted their horses, slung
over their shoulders as many canteens as they could carry, galloped to
Waterloo, a distance of more than two miles from almost every part of
the field, filled them with water, and returned with it for the relief
of the wounded men.

I did not leave a corner of La Belle Alliance unrummaged, but I cannot
say that I saw anything particularly worthy of notice: I ate a bit of
intolerably bad rye-cake, as sour as vinegar, and as black as the bread
of Sparta, which nothing but the consideration of its having been in La
Belle Alliance during the battle (which the woman assured me was the
case) could have induced me to swallow:--but I need not stop to relate
my own follies.

I bought from the people of the house the feather of a French officer,
and a cuirass which had belonged to a French Cuirassier, who, they
said, had died here the day after the battle. Loaded with my spoils, I
traversed the whole extent of the field, thinking, as I toiled along
beneath the burning sun, under the weight of the heavy cuirass, that
the poor man to whom it had belonged, when he brought it into the
field, in all the pride of martial ardour, and all the confidence of
victory, little dreamed who would carry it off. If he had known that
it was to be an English lady, he would have been more surprised than

I did not stop till I got to the old tree now known by the name of Lord
Wellington's tree,[36] near which he stood for a length of time during
the battle, and beneath which I now sat myself down to rest. Its massy
trunk and broken branches were pierced with a number of cannon-balls,
but its foliage still afforded me a grateful shade from the rays of the

It was between this part of the field and Hougoumont that the lamented
Sir William Ponsonby gloriously fell in the prime of life and honour,
after repeatedly leading the most gallant and successful charges
against the enemy, in which he took upwards of 2000 prisoners and two
French eagles. The particulars of his death are well known. In the
heat of the action he was unfortunately separated from his brigade,
his horse stuck fast in the deep wet clay of some newly-ploughed
land, and he saw a large body of Polish Lancers bearing down against
him. In this dreadful situation he awaited the inevitable fate that
approached him with the composure of a hero: he calmly turned to his
aide-decamp, who was still by his side, and it is said that he was in
the act of giving him a picture and a last message to his wife, when
he was pierced at once with the pikes of seven of the Polish Lancers,
and fell covered with wounds. England never lost a better soldier, nor
society a brighter ornament. He was deservedly beloved by his friends
and companions, adored by his family, and lamented and honoured by his

Numbers of country-people were employed in what might be called the
gleanings of the harvest of spoil. The muskets, the swords, the
helmets, the cuirasses--all the large and unbroken arms had been
immediately carried off; and now the eagles that had emblazoned the
caps of the French infantry, the fragments of broken swords, &c., were
rarely to be found, though there was great abundance upon sale. But
there was still plenty of rubbish to be picked up upon the field, for
those who had a taste for it like me--though the greatest part of it
was in a most horrible state.

It was astonishing with what dreadful haste the bodies of the dead
had been pillaged. The work of plunder was carried on even during
the battle; and those hardened and abandoned wretches who follow the
camp, like vultures, to prey upon the corpses of the dead, had the
temerity to press forward beneath a heavy fire to rifle the pockets of
the officers who fell of their watches and money. The most daring and
atrocious of these marauders were women.[37]

The description I heard of the field the morning after the battle
from those who had visited it, I cannot yet recal without horror.
Horses were galloping about in every direction without their riders:
some of them, bleeding with their wounds and frantic with pain, were
tearing up the ground, and plunging over the bodies of the dead and
the dying--and many of them were lying on the ground in the agonies of

Over the whole field the bodies of the innumerable dead, already
stripped of every covering, were lying in heaps upon each other; the
wounded in many instances beneath them. Some, faint and bleeding, were
slowly attempting to make their way towards Brussels; others were
crawling upon their hands and knees from this scene of misery; and
many, unable to move, lay on the ground in agony.

For four days and nights some of these unfortunate men were exposed
to the beams of the sun by day, and to the dews by night; for
notwithstanding the most praiseworthy and indefatigable exertions, the
last of the wounded were not removed from the field until the Thursday
after the battle; and if we consider that there were at least 8000
British, besides the Belgic, Brunswick, and Prussian wounded soldiers,
and an incalculable number of wounded French--we shall find cause for
surprise and admiration, that they could be removed in so short a time.
Their conveyance, too, was rendered extremely difficult, as well as
inconceivably painful to the poor sufferers, by the dreadful and almost
impassable state of the roads.

The Belgic peasantry showed the most active and attentive humanity to
these poor wounded men. They brought them the best food they could
procure; they gave them water to drink--they ministered to all their
wants--complied with all their wishes--and treated them as if they had
been their own children.

An officer, with whom we are well acquainted, went over the field on
the morning of the battle, and examined the ghastly heaps of dead in
search of the body of a near relation; and after all the corpses were
buried or burnt--in the same melancholy and fruitless search, many an
Englishwoman, whom this day of glory had bereft of husband or son,
wandered over this fatal field, wildly calling upon the names of those
who were now no more. The very day before we visited it, the widow
and the sister of a brave and lamented British officer had been here,
harrowing up the souls of the beholders with their wild lamentations,
vainly demanding where the remains of him they loved reposed, and
accusing Heaven for denying them the consolation of weeping over
his grave. I was myself, afterwards, a sorrowful witness of the
dreadful effects of the unrestrained indulgence of this passionate and
heart-breaking grief. In the instance to which I allude, sorrow had
nearly driven reason from her seat, and melancholy verged upon madness.

I have forced myself to dwell upon these scenes of horror, with
whatever pain to my own feelings, because in this favoured country,
which the mercy of Heaven has hitherto preserved from being the theatre
of war, and from experiencing the calamities which have visited other
nations, I have sometimes thought that the blessings of that exemption
are but imperfectly felt, and that the sufferings and the dangers of
those whose valour and whose blood have been its security and glory,
are but faintly understood, and coldly commiserated. I wished that
those who had suffered in the cause of their country should be repaid
by her gratitude, and that she should learn more justly to estimate
"the price of victory." But it is impossible for me to describe, or for
imagination to conceive, the horrors of Waterloo!

How gladly would I dwell upon the individual merits of those who
fell upon this glorious field, had I but the power to snatch from
oblivion one of the many names which ought to be enrolled in the
proud list of their country's heroes! In the heat of such a battle,
probably thousands have fallen, whose untold deeds surpass all that
from childhood our hearts have worshipped. But that heroic valour and
devoted patriotism, which in other days were confined to individuals
and signalised their conduct--at Waterloo pervaded every breast.
Every private soldier acted like a hero, and thus individual merit
was lost in the general excellence, as the beams of the stars are
undistinguished in the universal blaze of day.

But it is not only the unrivalled glory of my countrymen in arms, of
which I am proud, it is the noble use which they have made of their
triumph. It is not only their irresistible valour in battle, but their
unexampled mercy and moderation in victory which exalts them above all
other nations. It has been justly said by those whom they conquered,
that no other army than the British could have won the battles of
Quatre Bras and Waterloo: and no other army but the British, after such
a battle and such a victory, after a long course of incessant warfare,
after recent insults and wanton cruelties, and after ages of inveterate
hostility and national animosity,--no other army but the British,
in such circumstances, would have marched through the heart of that
enemy's country, and entered that enemy's capital, as the British army
marched through France and entered Paris.

We have only to remember what has invariably been the conduct of the
French armies in their march through the countries they have conquered.
We have only to picture to ourselves what _would_ have been their
conduct, if they had triumphantly marched through England, and we shall
then be able to appreciate the meritorious moderation of the British
army. No plundered towns, no burning villages, no ruined houses marked
their course; no outrage, no cruelty nor violence disgraced their
triumphant progress. The French people received from their enemies that
mercy which was denied them by their own soldiers. There is not a spot
on the earth, from the burning sands of Egypt to the frozen deserts
of Russia--from the Black Sea to the Pillars of Hercules--from the
coasts of the Baltic to the shores of the Mediterranean, where the name
of Frenchman and of Napoleon Buonaparte is not dreaded and detested.
Whereever the power of Buonaparte has been known, or his dominion felt,
his name is uttered with execrations. Wherever he has gone, his path,
like that of the pestiferous serpent, has been traced by misery and
desolation. But it is a proud reflection to every British heart, that
there is not a country of the civilised world where England is not
mentioned with respect and gratitude, and the very name of Englishman
coupled with blessings.

I am too sensible of my own incompetency, and too conscious of my want
of knowledge, to attempt to give any account of the battle itself.
The deeds of my countrymen I can only admire--I am not qualified to
record them. Abler pens than mine must do justice to the events of
this day of glory, which I cannot recal to memory without tears: but
it was impossible to stand on the field where thousands of my gallant
countrymen had fought and conquered, and bled and died--and where
their heroic valour had won for England her latest, proudest wreath
of glory--without mingled feelings of triumph, pity, enthusiasm, and
admiration, which language is utterly unable to express.

I stood alone upon the spot so lately bathed in human blood--where
more than two hundred thousand human beings had mingled together in
mortal strife: I cast my eyes upon the ruined hovels immortalised by
the glorious achievements of my gallant countrymen. I recalled to mind
their invincible constancy--their undaunted intrepidity--their heroic
self-devotion in the hour of trial--their magnanimity and mercy in the
moment of victory: I cast my eyes upon the tremendous graves at my
feet, filled with the mortal remains of heroes.--Silence and desolation
now reigned on this wide field of carnage: the scattered relics of
recent slaughter and devastation covered the sun-burnt ground; the
gales of heaven, as they passed me, were tainted with the effluvia
of death. I shuddered at the thought that, beneath the clay on which
I stood, the best and bravest of human hearts reposed in death. Oh!
surely in such a moment and on such a spot, "some human tears might
fall and be forgiven!"

Alas! those for whom I mourned sleep in death--and in vain for
them are the tears, the praise, or the gratitude of their country:
but though their bodies may moulder in the tomb, and their ashes,
mingled with the dust, be scattered unnoticed by the winds of winter,
their names and their deeds shall never perish--they shall live
for ever in the remembrance of their country, and the tears which
pity-gratitude--admiration--wring from every British heart, shall
hallow their bloody and honourable grave. On earth they shall receive
the noblest meed of praise; and oh! may we not, without impiety or
presumption, indulge the hope, that in heaven the crown of glory and
immortality awaits those who fell in the field of honour, and who
in the discharge of their last and noblest duty to their country,
"resigned their spirit unto Him that gave it?"

It was with difficulty I could tear myself from the spot--but after
casting one long and lingering look upon the wood-crowned hill of
Hougoumont, the shattered walls of La Haye Sainte, the hamlet of La
Belle Alliance, the woods of Frischermont, the broken hedge in front
of which Sir Thomas Picton's division had been stationed, and which was
doubly interesting from the remembrance that it was there that gallant
and lamented general had fought and fallen; and after giving one last
glance at the ever memorable tree beneath which I stood, I joined my
brother and sister, who had been taking sketches at a little distance,
and set off with them to Mont St. Jean--lightened of the load of my
cuirass, which a little girl, who before the battle had been one of the
inhabitants of La Haye Sainte, joyfully carried to the village for half
a franc.

On our return we entered the farm-house where Major L. had been
conveyed when wounded. The farm-house and offices enclose a court into
which the windows of the house look. It is only one story high, and
consists of three rooms, one through another. Not only these rooms,
but the barns, out-houses, and byres were filled with wounded British
officers, many of whom died here before morning.

In that last tremendous attack which took place towards the close of
the day, before the arrival of the Prussians (but which, thanks to
British valour, was wholly unsuccessful), the battle extended even
here. The French suddenly turned the fire of nearly the whole of their
artillery against this part of our position, in front of Mont St. Jean,
and a general charge of their infantry and cavalry advanced, under
cover of this tremendous cannonade, to the attack. Weakened as our
army had been in this quarter with the immense loss it had sustained,
they expected it to give way instantly, and that they should be able
to force their way to Brussels. The Belgians fled at this tremendous
onset. The British stood firm and undaunted, contesting every inch
of ground. Every little rise was taken and retaken. The French and
English, intermingled with each other, fought man to man, and sword
to sword, around these walls, and in this court, while cannon-shot
thundered against the walls of the house, and shells broke in at the
windows of the rooms crowded with wounded. Such of the officers as it
was possible to remove were carried out beneath a shower of musketry.
But our troops maintained their ground in spite of the immense numbers
of the enemy, and of a most tremendous and incessant fire; and after
a long and desperate contest, the French were completely repulsed and
driven back. They never for a moment gained possession even of this
farm-house, much less of the village of Mont St. Jean, to which indeed
the battle never extended. Some cannon-balls indeed were lodged in the
walls of the cottages, but the action took place entirely in front of
the village, and its possession was never therefore disputed.

The farmer's wife had actually remained in this farm-house during the
whole of this tremendous battle, quite alone, shut up in her own room,
or rather garret. There she sat the whole day, listening to the roar
of the cannon, in solitude and silence, unable to see anything, or to
hear any account of what was passing. It seemed to me that the utmost
ingenuity of man could not have devised a more terrible punishment than
this woman voluntarily inflicted upon herself. When I asked her what
could have been her motives for remaining in such a dreadful situation,
she said that she stayed to take care of her property--that all she had
in the world consisted in cows and calves, in poultry and pigs--and she
thought if she went away and left them, she should lose them all--and
perhaps have her house and furniture burnt. She seemed to applaud
herself not a little for her foresight. If the French, however, had
been victorious instead of the English, the woman, as well as her hens
and chickens, would have been in rather an awkward predicament.

Her husband first told me this story, which I could scarcely credit
till she herself confirmed it. But he, honest man! had wisely run away
before the battle had begun, leaving his wife, his pigs, and poultry
to take care of themselves. She said she stayed in her room all that
night, and never came down till the following morning, when all the
surviving wounded officers had been removed, but the bodies of those
who had expired during the night still remained, and the floors of
all the rooms were stained with blood. She seemed very callous to
their fate, and to the sufferings of the wounded; and very indifferent
about everything except her hens and chickens. She led me to a little
miserable dark cow-house, where General Cooke (or Cock, as she called
him) had remained a considerable time when wounded, and it seemed to be
a sort of gratification to her, that a British general had been in her

Leaving this farm-house, we walked through the village of Mont St.
Jean, and stopped at the little inn, where we found the rest of the
party busily employed upon every kind of eatable the house afforded,
which consisted of brown bread, and butter and cheese--small beer,
and still smaller wine. Although I had rejected with abhorrence at
Château Hougoumont a proposal of eating, which some one had ventured
unadvisedly to make; and though it did seem to me upon the field of
battle that I should never think of eating again, yet no sooner did I
cast my eyes upon these viands than I pounced upon them, as a falcon
does upon its prey, and devoured them with nearly as much voracity.
They seemed to me to be delicious; and the brown bread and butter,
especially, were incomparable.

The woman of the house and her two daughters, who were industriously
employed in plain needlework, related to us with great naïveté all the
terrors they had suffered, and all the horrors they had seen. Like all
the other inhabitants of the village, they had fled the day before the
battle--not into the woods, but to a place, the name of which I do not
remember, but which they said was very far off ("bien loin").

Several cannon-balls had lodged in the walls about this house, although
it was at the extremity of the village, farthest from the field.
Having finished our frugal repast, for which these kind and simple
people asked a most trifling recompense, we left Mont St. Jean, passed
through the village of Waterloo for the last time, and returned to
Brussels with an impression on our minds, from our visit to the field
of Waterloo, which no time can efface.

It was on Wednesday, the 19th of July, that we learnt the astonishing
news that Napoleon Buonaparte had surrendered himself to the
British, and was actually a prisoner on board the Bellerophon. An
aide-de-camp of the King of France, going express to the King of
Holland at the Hague, was the bearer of this important intelligence.
It was communicated to us by General Murray, who came in with a
countenance radiant with joy, and scarcely could my sister and I, in
our transports, refrain from embracing the good old general. He had
himself seen the aide-de-camp of Louis XVIII.; yet this news was so
unexpected, so wonderful--and above all so good; that scarcely could
it be credited. Could it indeed be possible that Napoleon--the dreaded
Napoleon--was really a prisoner to the English! All ranks of people
were breathless with expectation, and with trembling eagerness and
anxious inquiries awaited further intelligence. In a few hours it was
confirmed beyond a possibility of doubt.--"Buonaparte est pris!--il
est pris!--c'est vrai--c'est bien vrai!" cried M. Weerid, the Belgic
gentleman in whose house Major L. was an inmate, bursting into his room
with a turbulence of joy ill-suited to the suffering state of our poor
wounded friend. The loud acclamations of the populace--the ejaculations
of thanksgiving and tears of joy which burst from the women--and
the curses which were freely bestowed on him by the men--proved the
strength of their terror, and the bitterness of their detestation.

It was our fate to be the bearers of this intelligence almost the
whole way through Belgium. So slowly does news travel in this country,
that although it had arrived in Brussels at five o'clock in the
afternoon, and we did not set off till eight the following morning,
no rumours of it had been received in any of the towns or villages
through which we passed; and we even found the good people of Ghent in
profound ignorance of it. But the Belgians were slow of belief, and the
transport and the vociferous joy with which it was uniformly received
at first, were generally followed by doubts and fears, and fervent
wishes for its truth.

At the inn at Alost we found a party comfortably sitting down to dinner
at twelve o'clock, at the well-spread Table d'Hôte. No sooner had I
mentioned this news than knives and forks were thrown down, plates and
dishes abandoned. An old fat Belgic gentleman, overturning his soup
plate, literally jumped for joy; another, more nimble, began to caper
up and down the room. A corpulent lady, in attempting to articulate her
transport, was nearly choked, like little Hunchback, with a fish-bone;
and the demonstrations of joy shown by the rest of the party were not
less extravagant. One old man, however, shook his head in sign of
incredulity, and said with fervour, when I assured him that Buonaparte
was really a prisoner to the English, "that he should have lived long
enough if he ever lived to see that day." Nothing amused me more,
however, than the squall set up by an old country-woman, who shook my
hand till she nearly wrung it off, and then, shocked at what she had
done, burst forth into apologies to me, exclamations of joy, and abuse
of Buonaparte, all in a breath.

To my cost, however, the official account of this important news did
arrive at Ghent, just after I had gone to bed. It had been more than
twenty-four hours on its way, travelling at the rate of about a mile an
hour; and much did I wish that it had been longer, for neither peace
nor repose was now to be had. Bonfires were lighted, guns fired, squibs
and crackers let off in the streets, rockets sent up to the clouds,
and both heaven and earth disturbed by the uproar. Not satisfied with
this, they took it into their heads to keep up a firing with muskets
under my windows; and the inhabitants and the English soldiers, royally
drunk and loyally noisy, vied with each other in singing or rather
roaring out the most discordant strains; and "God save the King," in
English, and a variety of Belgic songs in low Dutch, were sung all at
once, with the most patriotic perseverance, in the streets. By the time
these outrageously loyal people found their way to bed, it was nearly
time for me to get up, which I did at five o'clock, in order to see a
very fine cabinet of paintings. The old Flemish gentleman to whom they
belonged, not satisfied with giving me permission to see them, had the
politeness to rise at that unseasonable hour, in order that he might
be ready to receive me, and to show them to me himself. What English
gentleman would have got out of his bed before six o'clock in order
to show his collection of paintings to a foreigner, a person of no
distinction, of whom he knew nothing, who had no introduction to him,
whom he had never seen before, and would most probably never see again?

Next day at nine o'clock we embarked from Ostend for England in a
large packet crowded with passengers. We set sail with a favouring
gale, but the winds and the waves maintained their usual capricious
and inconstant character, and after a succession of calms, contrary
winds, and opposing tides, we found ourselves, late on the evening of
the second day, at anchor within sight of the harbour of Margate, but
without a hope of reaching it till the following morning. In order to
escape spending another night on board, we embraced the expedient of
committing ourselves to a little boat, in which it seemed invariably to
be our fate to end all our voyages.

We were rowed ashore, and landed in the dark, at past eleven o'clock
at night, upon the slippery and weed-covered rocks of Margate, exactly
six weeks after we had landed in the same manner, at the same hour, and
the same day of the week, on the deep and deserted sands of Ostend.
In that six weeks what a change had taken place! When I left England,
Buonaparte was the terror of the world--Europe was arming against
him, and his threatening hosts were ready to overwhelm it again with
ruin. When I returned, these tremendous armies were defeated and
scattered--the victorious troops of England were in the capital of
France; and Buonaparte himself, fallen from the highest imperial throne
of the universe to the lowest abyss of fortune, was a prisoner on board
a British ship of war, and a suppliant to the mercy of my country!

Events so extraordinary and improbable, and changes so sudden and so
wonderful, seemed to outrun the rapidity of imagination itself, and
to exceed the limits of possibility. The past seemed like a dream.
Scarcely, on retrospection, could we believe it to be real, or be
convinced that the scenes we had witnessed, since our departure from
England, had not been the illusions of fancy, or the "baseless fabric
of a vision." They bore more resemblance to the shifting and imaginary
scenes represented on the stage, than to events which had actually
happened on the great theatre of the world. It had indeed been a great
and a bloody tragedy, and it had been our lot to witness it from the
first to the last scene. It began at our entrance, it finished at our
departure from Brussels. The news of Buonaparte having attacked the
Prussians reached Brussels at the very moment of our arrival--the news
of his surrender to the British was received the night before we left

In that six weeks the work of an age had been accomplished; an usurper
had been dethroned; a monarch had been restored; a kingdom had been
lost and won; a war had begun and ended; peace had revisited the world;
and justice--strict, impartial justice--had descended upon the head of
the guilty. And all this was the work of England!

Yet it has been asked--and I have often heard the question slightingly
repeated by my own countrymen--"And what, after all, has England gained
for years of war and bloodshed but glory?" I might answer that she has
gained security, peace, and prosperity for the world, and for herself,
besides, the highest place among nations: but granting that she had
only gained glory--what, I ask in return, could she gain that is
equivalent to it? What is there on earth to be compared to it?

  "Is aught on earth so precious and so dear
  As Fame or Honour? or is aught so bright
  And beautiful as Glory's beams appear,
  Whose goodly light than Phoebus' lamp doth shine more clear?"

  _Faerie Queen._

Glory is the highest, the most lasting good. Without it, extent of
empire, political greatness, and national prosperity, are but a name;
without it, they can have no security, and can command no respect;
without it all other possessions are worthless and despicable--unstable
and transitory. Fortune may change; arts may perish; commerce may
decay; and wealth and power, and dominion and greatness may pass
away--but glory is immortal and indestructible, and will last when
empires and dynasties are no more.

What gives nations honour and renown in future times but the glory
they have acquired? What exalted Greece and Rome to their proud
pre-eminence among the nations, and transmitted the lustre of their
name to the remotest time? Why does the traveller still traverse
distant countries, to explore with hallowed respect their mouldering
temples, and linger with silent awe amidst the ruins of the Parthenon,
or on the site of the Capitol? Why does generation after generation
contemplate with veneration the plains of Marathon, and the heights of
Leuctra? Why do they still retrace with enthusiasm the deeds of their
departed heroes, and the long catalogue of their ancient glories?--It
is to these ancient glories that they owe their present interest and
importance. The nations of the East were possessed of unbounded wealth,
magnificence, and power--and were long the seats of commerce, of the
arts of life, and of learning, when the western world was immersed in
ignorance and barbarism.--Yet their antiquities are unexplored--their
history neglected--their very existence almost forgotten; for they have
left no proud remembrance, no ray of glory, to immortalise their name.

If it had been extent of empire, or superiority of wealth, that gave
nations lasting greatness, Persia would have enjoyed that veneration
which is now paid to Athens. If it had been conferred by antiquity, or
by being the birth-place of the arts and sciences, Egypt would have
stood upon that pedestal of fame which Rome now fills.

Yes! England has nobly fought, triumphantly conquered and well has she
been rewarded! She has gained that unalienable, imperishable prize,
which neither time nor fortune, nor fate--nor any earthly power can
ever wrest from her. She has won the immortal meed! Generations yet
unborn shall pride themselves on being the descendants of those who
fought and conquered in the righteous cause of Justice, Honour, and
Independence, on the plains of Spain, and on the glorious field of
Waterloo; and feel the throb of generous enthusiasm and of virtuous
patriotism, when they retrace the bright history of their country's

With these sentiments deeply impressed upon my mind; with the proud
consciousness, that highly as the fame of England had stood in all
ages, she had now attained an unparalleled height of greatness and
glory; that the ancient triumphs of Cressy, Poictiers, and Agincourt,
in one age, of Ramillies, Malplaquet, and Blenheim, in another, had
been surpassed in those of Salamanca, Vittoria, and Waterloo, in our
own; that her name would descend to the latest times as unrivalled
in arms, invincible by land and by sea, and pre-eminent, not only in
valour, but in faith and honour--in justice, mercy, and magnanimity,
and in public virtue--I returned to my country after all the varying
and eventful scenes through which it had been my lot to pass, more
proud than when I left it of the name of

                                 AN ENGLISHWOMAN.


[Footnote 5: The Emperor Charles V., in disparagement of the capital
City of his rival, used to delight in saying, "Je peux mettre tout
Paris dans _mon Gand_." Ghent, on the Continent, is always spelt and
pronounced Gand, the same as _gant_, glove.]

[Footnote 6: I write it not grammatically, but as they pronounced it,
with a strong emphasis on the last letter.]

[Footnote 7: It was not expected at that time that Belgium would be the
theatre of war, but that the Allies would advance into France.]

[Footnote 8: Afterwards, on our return to Brussels, I observed an
inscription on one of these fountains, purporting, that the Czar, Peter
the Great, having drunk too freely of wine, fell into its waters. The
day and year are mentioned. It was, I think, about a century ago.]

[Footnote 9: [The 32nd and 44th should be added.--ED.]]

[Footnote 10: Consisting of the 28th, 32nd, 79th, 95th, a battalion of
the 1st, or Royal Scots, the 42nd, 92nd, and the 2nd battalion of the
44th, and a battalion of Hanoverians. It was the first division which
arrived, and, during the principal part of the day, it was the only
part of the British army engaged.]

[Footnote 11: Since writing the above, I have found that the names of
these officers were Lieutenant-General Bourmont and Colonel Clouet.
[_See_ Appendix, A.]]

[Footnote 12: Ney, in his own account of this battle, says, "in spite
of my exertions, in spite of the intrepidity and devotion of my troops,
my utmost exertions could only maintain me in my position till the
close of the day." He then complains grievously of having had _only_
three divisions to fight against the British, and boasts of what he
_would have done_ if he had had five.--_Vide Marshal Ney's Letter._]

[Footnote 13: Subsequently, the news of the defeat and retreat of the
Prussians obliged the Duke of Wellington also to retreat, to keep open
the communications with Blucher.]

[Footnote 14: Not even imagination could form an idea of the dreadful
sufferings that the unfortunate soldiers of the French and Prussian
armies, who were wounded in the battles of the 15th and 16th of June,
were condemned to endure. It was not until nearly a week afterwards
that surgical aid, or assistance of any kind, was given to them. During
all this time they remained exposed to the burning heat of the noonday
sun, the heavy rains, and the chilling dews of midnight, without any
sustenance except what their importunity extorted from the country
people, and without any protection even from the flies that tormented
them. Numbers had expired; the most trifling wounds had festered, and
amputation in almost every instance had become necessary. This, and
every other necessary operation, was hastily and negligently performed
by the Prussian surgeons. The description I heard of this scene of
horror, from some respectable Belgic gentlemen who were spectators of
it on the Wednesday following, is too dreadful to repeat.]

[Footnote 15: This was, I find, only a proof of my ignorance; I
afterwards learnt that wooden palisades add greatly to the strength of

[Footnote 16: Afterwards Marquis of Anglesey]

[Footnote 17: At one time, as we afterwards learned, the Duke had
scarcely a single aide-de-camp left to dispatch with orders. All around
him fell dead, or wounded. His preservation was miraculous. As he
himself reverentially declared after the battle, "The finger of God was
upon me."]

[Footnote 18: No doubt the gallantry of every British regiment was
equally praiseworthy, but few had such opportunities of displaying it.
And we naturally enough heard of the exploits of the brave Highland
regiments which had nearly been cut to pieces, and the remains of
which, all wounded, had reached Antwerp.]

[Footnote 19: [_See_ Appendix, B.]]

[Footnote 20: The road from Brussels to the field of battle was not
for some time considered safe, on account of the number of deserters
who had taken shelter in the woods, and issued forth, sometimes alone,
and sometimes in a gang, to rob passengers and plunder the defenceless
cottages and farm-houses of the surrounding country. Neither property
nor life certainly could be considered safe at the mercy of these armed
desperadoes; but I never heard of any well-authenticated murder that
they committed: and from all the inquiries I made, I believe that most
of the horrible stories we heard of their enormities were entirely
devoid of truth; and that the mischief, even in the way of plunder,
they did, was very much exaggerated. Even at the time we went to the
field, great apprehensions were entertained by many people of these
lawless deserters. Large parties of these were brought in two or three
times a week, during our stay in Brussels. They consisted of Belgic,
Nassau, and Brunswick soldiers. There was some difficulty in procuring
proper places of confinement for them. They were generally sent to
the neighbouring Maisons de Force; what eventually was to be their
punishment, or what has been their fate, I have never been able to

[Footnote 21: It is remarkable that every village in this part of the
country has a French name, except Waterloo, which is pronounced by the
natives--according to the fashion of the London Cockneys--_Vaterloo_;
the letter W being the exclusive property of the British people--with
the exception of the aforesaid Cockneys, who resign all claim to it.]

[Footnote 22: Cæsar's celebrated _bulletin_, "Veni, vidi, vici," was
more concise, but not quite so unassuming.]

[Footnote 23: La Haye Sainte (the holy hedge). It gives its name to the
farm-house of La Haye Sainte. I could not hear from any of the country
people why it was distinguished by the epithet "Sainte." They did not
seem to have any tradition respecting it.]

[Footnote 24: An order had been issued not to fire at the enemy's
field-pieces, but at the troops. However, during the latter part of
the action, a young officer of artillery, out of patience with the
destruction caused among his men, and particularly with the loss of
Captain Bolton, his friend and brother officer, from the fire of some
guns opposite, levelled his cannon at them, and had the satisfaction
to see the French artillerymen, and officers who commanded them, fall
in their turn. At that moment he was accosted suddenly by the Duke
of Wellington, whom he had no idea was near--"What are you firing at
there?" The artillery officer confessed what he was about. "Keep a
good look out to your left," said the Duke, "you will see a large body
of the enemy advancing just now--fire at them." They soon perceived
a tremendous number of the Imperial Guards, the _élite_ of the army,
advancing with great order and steadiness to attack the British. The
moment they appeared in view, the officer to whom the Duke had spoken,
directed against them such a tremendous and effective fire, that they
were mowed down by ranks. This gallant young officer had volunteered
his services, and was one of the brigade attached to the second
division of our army.]

[Footnote 25: It is, however, a remarkable fact, and does additional
honour to the resolute, invincible constancy of British soldiers, that
nearly all the officers, and the whole of the privates of the British
army, were ignorant that there was any expectation of the arrival of
the Prussians. Indeed, many of them never knew till after the battle
was over that they had joined.]

[Footnote 26: In this part of Belgium, the wheat had this year grown to
full five feet in height, and rye upwards of six feet: great quantities
of the latter are grown, for it answers to the liberal definition of
oats by Dr. Johnson, and is the food of men in England, and of horses
in Flanders; nay, it is actually baked into bread for their use, and
regularly given them at the inns where they stop to bait. Several
soldiers of the Highland regiments who had got into a field of this
gigantic rye on the 16th, were shot without even being able to see
their enemy.]

[Footnote 27: Buonaparte slept at the farm of Caillon, near

[Footnote 28: These memorable beech-trees, pierced through and through
with balls, have been since all cut down by the owner of Château

[Footnote 29: In other pits the corpses of the French had also been
burned. About eight thousand of the French army fell in the attack of

[Footnote 30: That Buonaparte pretended to believe those troops to be
French, although he must have known the contrary, is unquestionably
true. Marshal Ney, in his account of the battle, states that he
received a message from the emperor, brought by General Labedoyère, to
inform him "that the French corps under Marshal Grouchy had arrived
in the field, and attacked the left wing of the British and Prussians
united. General Labedoyère rode along the lines, spreading this
intelligence through the whole army."--Vide _Marshal Ney's Letter_.
[_See_ Appendix, C.]]

[Footnote 31: This statement too is confirmed by Marshal Ney, who
said, "that Buonaparte had entirely disappeared before the end of the
battle." Let it be remembered that Ney's letter was written exactly a
week after the battle, while Napoleon was still emperor, and still in
Paris, and, if his statement was not true, a thousand witnesses could
have contradicted it.]

[Footnote 32: The Duke himself reverentially said afterwards, "The
finger of God was upon me."]

[Footnote 33: It was near seven o'clock when this circumstance
happened. The Prussians had not appeared. The regiments which he led to
the charge were the 71st, the 52nd, and the 95th. He also repeatedly
rallied the Belgic regiments, and sometimes vainly exerted himself to
make them face the enemy.]

[Footnote 34: [_See_ Appendix, D.]]

[Footnote 35: It was with a heart saddened by feelings which did him
honour, that the Duke of Wellington returned from the battle. The
letters which he wrote to the relations of the distinguished officers
who had fallen, prove how truly he felt what he sorrowfully said, that
"there is nothing more melancholy than a victory--except a defeat." I
cannot resist inserting the following simple and affecting extract from
one of his letters, written on the morning after the battle. "I cannot
express to you," he writes, "the regret and sorrow with which I look
around me, and contemplate the losses which I have sustained. They have
quite broken me down. The glory resulting from such actions, so dearly
bought, is no consolation to me."

The extract in the text is taken "From Circumstantial Details Relative
to the Battle of Waterloo," which was written by the author to explain
"A Panoramic Sketch of the Field of Battle," by her sister, both of
which were published by J. Booth, London, in August, 1815, for the
benefit of the Waterloo Fund.]

[Footnote 36: It is on the left of the road in going towards Waterloo,
behind the farm-house of La Haye Sainte. But this tree, which ought to
have been for ever sacred, has been CUT DOWN!!!]

[Footnote 37: Some soldiers' wives were, however, actuated by better
motives, and, like the matrons of Hensberg, in times of old, seemed
to think their best treasures were their husbands. Many of them
rushed forward and carried their wounded husbands off the field at
the hazard of their own lives. The wife of a sergeant in the 28th was
severely wounded in two places by a shell, which struck her as she
was carrying off her wounded husband. This anecdote was related to me
by an eye-witness of the circumstance. The woman (respecting whom I
inquired since my return to England) has, I understand, been allowed
a pension from Chelsea Hospital. I heard of several similar instances
of heroic conjugal affection; and I myself saw one poor woman, the
wife of a private in the 27th, whose leg was dreadfully fractured by
a musket-ball in rescuing her husband. When struck by the ball she
fell to the ground with her husband, who was supposed to be mortally
wounded, but she still refused to leave him, and they were removed
together to the rear, and afterwards sent to Antwerp. The poor man
survived the amputation of both his arms, and is still alive. The
woman, who was then in a state of pregnancy, has, since her return to
this country, given birth to a child, to which the Duke of York stood





  19th November, 1852.

The great Arthur, Duke of Wellington, whose latest achievements in
war form the subject of the preceding pages, is no more. Long, long
will the nation mourn the greatest, the most irreparable loss it ever
sustained. The last sad and solemn scene has passed away. That great
and wondrous man, who was its stay, its pride and glory, has been borne
to his honoured tomb, amidst those splendid obsequies and funeral pomps
with which his grateful country vainly sought to evince her unbounded
admiration, her devoted love, and her profound veneration, for him who
was her deliverer and preserver; to whom she owed her unprecedented
triumphs in war--her prolonged blessings in peace.

"His funeral pall has been borne by nations--not by the nations he
enslaved, but the nations he liberated;--the truncheons of eight
armies have dropped from his grasp, and they were borne in the funeral
procession by the companions and allies of his arms and victories."[38]
But, nobler far, he was followed to the grave by the blessings and the
tears of millions; and he, alone, amidst all the great generals and
conquerors of the earth, merits the proud eulogium, that he was at once
a true patriot and a benefactor to his species.

Eloquence has vainly exhausted itself in enumerating his merits and
services; but words are powerless to speak his praises. They are
felt in the hearts of the people of England. Never did a chieftain,
a conqueror, a hero, descend to the tomb so universally honoured and
lamented. All ranks, all ages, all parties, unite in one unanimous
sense of sorrow and bereavement. Every man seems to feel that he,
personally, has lost a benefactor, a protector--almost a parent. And as
the light of the sun is not missed until it is withdrawn, so even his
value was not perhaps fully felt until he was lost.

But he is gone! "Quenched is that light which was the leading star to
guide every Briton on the path of duty and honour."[39] His name is
surrounded by a pure halo of glory--not that ordinary vulgar glory
which is the meed of the mere conqueror. No! the "hero of a hundred
fights," who never knew defeat, sought not, valued not such glory;
nay, more, he despised it; he never even named "its very name."[40]
His watchword was Duty, and the path of duty, honour, and patriotism,
he trod. What a striking contrast did his career present to that of
Napoleon, who sought that vain, false glory, through fields of fire
and carnage, crushing the nations beneath his iron yoke, to aggrandise
his selfish ambition, and reign the despot of a devastated world! How
striking is the fact, that at the very time when, by the mysterious
decree of Providence, a Buonaparte was sent to desolate and enslave
the world, a Wellesley was given to save and deliver it!--the one, the
Destroyer; the other, the Preserver. They seemed like the Incarnate
Principles of Evil and of Good; but the Good triumphed: the conqueror
and deliverer of distracted and bleeding Europe became its Pacificator;
and through long years of peace and prosperity the nations which he
saved from tyranny and ruin, have had reason to bless the name of

Will it yet be permitted to one British heart--simply "An
Englishwoman," who witnessed the most eventful scenes of his glorious
campaigns, and proudly watched from first to last his high unblemished
career--to offer, with the deepest veneration, a humble tribute of high
and holy admiration upon the tomb of that hero whom, through life, her
heart has worshipped.

The ONE TRUE HERO! unequalled in the annals of history--unsurpassed
even in the creations of Romance; He, who never headed the battalions
of his countrymen except in a just and righteous cause, and never once
failed to lead them on to victory and honour; He, who was not only the
"Victor of Victors," the greatest of Conquerors, but also the greatest
Pacificator the world ever saw--for he used the triumphs of War only
to obtain the blessings of Peace;--He, whose first thought in victory
was mercy, whose first care was to ensure, not the spoils, but the
protection of the vanquished;--He, who, when he sheathed his conquering
sword, consecrated the powers of his mighty genius, his mind, and life,
to the welfare of his country; who worked her weal through evil report
and good report, unmoved by the cabals of Faction, the intrigues of
Power, and the slanders of Malignity;--He, whose Spirit, whilst he
lived, was our Shield and Buckler, our Stay and Support; his counsels
our best resource; his name our tower of strength; and his very
existence our surest defence.

Alas, for England! Woe! woe to our country! The grave has closed over
him; but his sacred ashes shall still guard our land. Around his
honoured tomb every British heart will rally to rout and vanquish
the hostile foe who dares to set foot on British ground. Every heart
will be roused, every arm raised to repel the insult. His name shall
be our everlasting panoply of defence; his life, his example, his
memory, shall live in our hearts, and to the latest posterity England's
proudest boast shall be the name of Wellington.


[Footnote 38: _Times_, November 18th, 1852.]

[Footnote 39: Lord Lovaine's speech, November 12th.]

[Footnote 40: It is well known that the word "Glory" does not once
occur in the multifarious dispatches of the Duke of Wellington.]


A. (p. 44).

The desertion of General Bourmont did not take place during the Battle
of Quatre Bras, but on the day before. He and his Staff joined the
Prussian General Ziethen as the French were advancing on Charleroi, on
June 15. The mistake, however, is hardly the writer's fault, as Sir F.
Head, the English authority for the statement, misprints the date. (See
Hooper's _Waterloo_, p. 68.)

B. (p. 93).

The decisive part which the Prussian army played in the Battle of
Waterloo is often overlooked, as it is here. Readers must bear in mind
that the junction of the two armies of the Allies was preconcerted by
Wellington and Blücher, and that the battle would not have been fought
under other circumstances. It is true that the Prussian advance from
Wavre, whence it had retreated after the Battle of Ligny on the 16th,
was delayed, whereby an undue strain was placed upon and nobly borne
by the English infantry, but the first Prussian corps under Bülow was
known to be approaching by three o'clock. Their advance on the village
of Planchenoit, on the light of the French position, caused Napoleon to
detach to his right 16,000 French troops, out of the 72,000 with which
he began the battle, and at last engaged his attention so far as that
he left Ney to conduct the attack upon Wellington's army. Though it
may be true, as Mrs. Eaton states, that the Prussians did not "make
their appearance" (_i.e._ to the British troops) till seven o'clock (p.
130), they were nevertheless in conflict with the French for some hours
before, and considerably modified their attack on Wellington's position.

C. (p. 145).

The allegations of cowardice brought against Napoleon at the time,
and frequently repeated, do not meet with the slightest support from
accurate historians. It is almost certain that when Wellington, on the
17th, withdrew his army from Quatre Bras to the position in which he
accepted battle on the following day, Napoleon was with the head of
the French column which followed up the retreat, and was within cannon
shot of the British artillery and of Lord Uxbridge, who commanded the

At the close of the Battle of Waterloo he showed no lack of courage.
"During the attack of the Imperial Guard he had ridden as far as the
orchard of La Haye Sainte; when the Guard recoiled he had rallied them;
when the 52nd and other regiments of the brigade pursued so promptly he
had gradually fallen back with the steadier masses of the fugitives,
surrounded by the truly _dévourés_ of those days, the veterans of the
Guard."--_Hooper_, p. 238.

It was only when the Prussians, almost fresh upon the field, undertook
the pursuit, that he diverged from the press and rapidly made his way
to Charleroi, where he obtained a carriage.

D. (p. 148).

The celebrated order of Wellington to the Guards is perhaps, in its
popular form, not quite authentic. When towards the close of the battle
Ney, unhorsed, was leading the column of the Old Guard up the slope of
the British position, behind the crest of which the British infantry
was lying, Wellington said, "Up, Guards, and make ready!" they "sprang
to their feet within fifty yards of the astonished French, and poured
in a volley which struck the column like a bolt of iron ... and when
the Duke cried, 'Charge!' and the British Guards dashed forward with a
cheer, Ney's veterans broke and fled."--_Hooper_, p. 231. The approach
of cavalry caused the British to retreat to their position on the hill,
but in the meantime the second column of the French Guard had been
routed by a bold and skilful charge of the 52nd Regiment, followed up
by cavalry, whilst the Prussians were successfully pushing back the
right wing of the French. Then the English leader saw that his time,
at last, was come. To quote again Mr. Hooper's stirring description:
"On the ridge near the Guards, his figure standing out amidst the smoke
against the bright north-western sky, Wellington was seen to raise his
hat with a noble gesture, the signal for the wasted line of heroes to
sweep like a dark wave from their coveted position, and roll out their
lines and columns over the plain. With a pealing cheer, the whole line
advanced just as the sun was sinking, and the Duke, sternly glad, but
self-possessed, rode off into the thick of the fight, attended by only
one officer, almost the last of the splendid squadron which careered
around him in the morning."--P. 234.

E. (p. 149).

Though the meeting of Wellington and Blücher at La Belle Alliance has
been made the subject of a well-known picture, it is not founded on
fact. The actual meeting took place nearer Rossomme, some distance
further south on the Charleroi road, along which the routed army was
struggling. From this point the pursuit was left to Blücher's troops.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Waterloo Days - The narrative of an Englishwoman resident at Brussels in June 1815" ***

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