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Title: The Battle of Talavera
Author: Croker, John Wilson
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              THE BATTLE



                            TENTH EDITION.

             ’...... _Sibi cognomen in hoste
             ‘Fecit; et Hispanam sanguine tinxit humum._’
                                          OV. FAST. 6.




                        THE BATTLE



         _Dicam insigne, recens, adhuc_
         _Indictum ore alio._


    ’Twas dark; from every mountain head
    The sunny smile of heaven had fled,
    And evening, over hill and dale
    Dropt, with the dew, her shadowy veil;
    In fabled Teio’s darkening tide
        Was quenched the golden ray;
    Silent, the silent stream beside,
    Three gallant people’s hope and pride,
        Three gallant armies lay.
    France, every nation’s foe, is there,
    And Albion’s sons her red cross bear,
    With Spain’s young Liberty to share
        The patriot array,
    Which, spurning the oppressor’s chain,
    Springs arm’d, from every hill and plain
    From ocean to the eastern main--
        From Seville to Biscaye.
    All, from the dawn till even-tide,
    The fortune of the field had tried
        In loose but bloody fray;
    And now with thoughts of dubious fate
    Feverish and weary, they await
        A fiercer, bloodier day.


    Fraternal France’s chosen bands
    He of the stolen crown commands,
    And on Alberche’s hither sands
        Pitches his tents to-night:
    While, Talavera’s wall between
    And olive groves and gardens green,
        Spain quarters on the right;
    All scatter’d in the open air
    In deep repose; save here and there,
        Pondering to-morrow’s fight,
    A spearman, in his midnight prayer,
    Invokes our Blessed Lady’s care
        And good Saint James’s might.
    Thence to the left, across the plain
        And on the neighbouring height,
    The British bands, a watchful train,
    Their wide and warded line maintain,
    Fronting the east, as if to gain
        The earliest glimpse of light.


    While there, with toil and watching worn,
    The Island warriors wait the morn,
        And think the hours too slow;
    Hark!--on the midnight breezes borne
        Sounds from the vale below!
    What sounds? No gleam of arms they see,
    Yet still they hear--What may it be?
        It is, it is the foe!
    From every hand and heart and head--
    As quick was never lightning sped--
    Weakness and weariness are fled;
        And down the mountain steeps,
    Along the vale, and through the shade,
    With ball and bayonet and blade,
    They seek the foe who dares invade
        The watch that England keeps.
    Nor do the dauntless sons of France
    Idly await the hot advance:--
        As active and as brave
    Thrice rush they on, and thrice their shock
    Rebounding breaks, as from the rock
        Is dash’d the wintry wave.


    But soon the darkling armies blend,
    Promiscuous death around they send,
    Foe falls by foe and friend by friend
        In mingled heaps o’erthrown:
    And many a gallant feat is done,
    And many a laurel lost and won,
        Unwitness’d and unknown;--
    Feats, that achieved in face of day,
    Had fired the bard’s enthusiast lay,
    And, in some holy aisle, for aye
        Had lived in sculptured stone.
    Oh, for a blaze from heaven, to light
    The wonders of that gloomy fight,
        The guerdon to bestow,
    Of which the sullen envious night
        Bereaves the warrior’s brow!
    Furious they strike without a mark,
    Save where the sudden sulphurous spark
    Illumes some visage grim and dark,
        That with the flash is gone!
    And, ’midst the conflict, only know,
    If chance has sped the fatal blow,
    Or by the trodden corse below,
        Or by the dying groan.


    Far o’er the plain, and to the shores
    Of Teio and Alberche, roars
        The tumult of the fight;
    The distant camps, alarmed, arise;
    And throbbing hearts, and straining eyes
    Watch, through the dull and vapoury skies,
        The portents of the night--
    The vollying peals, terrific cries,
        And gleams of lurid light--
    But all is indistinct:--in vain
    The anxious crowds their senses strain,
        And, in the flash or shout,
    Fancy they catch the signal plain
        Of victory or rout:--
    The signal dies away again,
    And the still, breathless crowds remain
        In darkness and in doubt.


    Thus roll’d the short yet lingering night
        Its clouds o’er hill and dale;
    But when the morning show’d in light
    The wreck of that tempestuous fight
        Scatter’d along the vale;
    Still seated on her trophied height,
    Britain exulted at the sight,
        And France’s cheek grew pale.
    Lords of the field, the victors view
    Ten gallant French the turf bestrew
        For every Briton slain:
    They view, with not unmingled pride;
    Some anxious thoughts their souls divide--
        Their throbbing hopes restrain;
    Hundreds beneath their arm have died,
        But myriads still remain:
    A sterner strife must yet be tried,
    A more tempestuous day decide
        The wavering fates of Spain.


    From the hill summit they behold,
    By the first beams of orient gold
        In adverse arms reveal’d,
    Full fifty thousand warriors bold,
    Inured to war, in conquest old,
        To toil and terror steel’d:
    But they,--as steel’d to fear or toil,
    As bold, as proud of war-won spoil,
        In victory’s path as skill’d,
    Though doomed with twice their strength to try
        The hard unequal field,
    They view the foe with kindling eye,
    And, in their generous transport, cry
    “Conquer we may--perhaps must die;
         But never, never yield!”


    Thus ardent they: but who can tell,
    In Wellesley’s heart what passions swell?
    What cares must agitate his mind,
    What wishes, doubts, and hopes combined,
    Whom with his country’s chosen bands,
    ’Midst cold allies, in foreign lands,
        Outnumbering foes surround;
    From whom that country’s jealous call
    Demands the blood, the fame of all;
    To whom ’twere not enough to fall,
        Unless with victory crown’d?
    O heart of honour! soul of fire!
    Even at that moment fierce and dire,
        Thy agony of fame,
    When Britain’s fortune dubious hung,
    And France tremendous swept along
        In tides of blood and flame;
    Even while thy genius and thy arm
    Retrieved the day, and turn’d the storm
        To France’s rout and shame,
    Even at that moment, factious spite
    And envious fraud conspired to blight
        The honours of thy name!


    He thinks not of them:--From that height
    He views the scene of future fight,
    And, silent and serene, surveys,
    Down to the plain where Teio strays,
    The woods, the streams, the mountain ways,
        Each dell and sylvan hold:
    Prescient of all the war, he knows
    On wing or center, where the foes
        May pour their fury most;
    And marks what portion of the field
    To their advance ’twere good to yield,
        And what must not be lost.
    And all his gallant chiefs around
    Observant watch, where o’er the ground
        His eagle glance has rolled.
    Few words he spake, or needed they,
    Of counsel for the approaching fray,
    Where to condense the loose array,
        Or where the line unfold:
    They saw, they felt what he would say,
    And the best order of the day,
        It was his eye that told.


    And is it now a goodly sight,
        Or dreadful, to behold
    The pomp of that approaching fight--
    Waving ensigns, pennons light,
    And gleaming blades and bayonets bright,
        And eagles wing’d with gold;--
    And warrior bands of many a hue,
    Scarlet and white and green and blue,
    Like rainbows, o’er the morning dew
        Their varied tints unfold:
    While swells the martial din around,--
    And, starting at the bugle’s sound,
    The tramping squadrons beat the ground,
        And drums unceasing roll:
    Frequent and long the warrior cheer,
    To glory’s perilous career
        Awakes and fires the soul:
    And oft, by fits confused and clear,
    The din and clang, to fancy’s ear,
        The knell of thousands toll.


    Soon, soon shall vanish that array,
    Those varied colours fade away
        Like meteors light and vain,
    And eagle bright and pennon gay,
        Ensanguined dust distain:
    And soon be hush’d in various death,
    The cymbal’s clang, the clarion’s breath,
        The thunder of the plain:--
    That sun which fires the eastern sky
    Shall set, ere noon, to many an eye
        In battle’s stormy main!
    The young, the gay, the proud, the strong,
    Ghastly and gored, shall lie along
        In mingled carnage piled.
    Blood shall pollute the limpid source,
    And Teio flow, with many a corse
        Affrighted and defiled.


    But not alone by Teio’s shore,
    Tho’ heap’d with slain, and red with gore,
        The tide of grief shall flow:--
    ’Tis not amidst the din of fight,
    Nor on the warrior’s crested height,
        Death strikes his direst blow:--
    Far from the fray, unseen and late,
    Descend the bitterest shafts of fate,
    Where tender love, and pious care
    The lingering hours of absence wear
        In solitude and gloom;
    And, mingling many a prayer and tear,
    Of sire, or child, or husband dear
        Anticipate the doom:
    Their hopes no trophied prospects cheer,
        For them no laurels bloom;
    But trembling hope, and feverish fear,
    Forebodings wild, and visions drear
        Their anguish’d hearts consume.


    All tremble now, but not on all,
    Poison’d with equal woe, shall fall
    The shaft of destiny:--to some
    The dreadful tale of ill shall come,
        Not unallayed with good;
    And they, with mingled grief and pride,
    Shall hear that in the battle’s tide
    Their darling soldier sank and died;--
        Died as a soldier should!
    But in the rough and stormy fray,
    Many are doomed to death to-day,
    Whose fate shall ne’er at home be told,
    Whose very names the grave shall fold;
    Many, for whose return, in vain
    The wistful eye of love shall strain,
    In vain parental fondness sigh,
    In cruel hope that ne’er can die,
        And filial sorrow mourn--
    On Talavera’s plain they lie,
        No! never to return!


    But, tyrant, thou, the cause of all
    The blood that streams, the tears that fall,
    Who, by no faith or fear confin’d,
    In impious triumph o’er mankind,
        Thy desolating course hast driven,
    Bursting the sacred ties that bind
        Man to his fellow and to heaven!
    All great and guilty as thou art,
    Thou of the iron hand and heart,
    Shalt suffer yet the vengeance due
        To him, who swears but to betray,
    Whose friendship aids but to undo,
        And only smiles to slay!
    The insatiate fiend who drives thee on
        With treacherous hope elate,
    From crime to crime, and throne to throne,
    From Afric to the arctic zone,
        But dupes thee to thy fate:
    And Heav’n which, by thy power o’erthrown,
    Will one day vindicate its own,
        _Condemns_ thee to be great!
    The tempest, now thy sport and pride,
    The flood on which thy fortunes ride,
        Presumptuous and blind,
    Ceasing at Heaven’s command to roar,
    Shall cast thee naked on the shore,
    The hate, and what thou fearest more,
        The jest of all mankind.
    And in thy hour of parting pain,
        The parents’, widows’, orphans’ moan,
    The shrieking of the battle plain,
        The strangled prisoners’ midnight groan,
    Shall harrow up thy brain;
    From countless graves, the ghastly crew
    Shall burst upon thy frensied view--
        Thou peopler of the tomb!
    And, stern and silent ’midst their cries,
    The murder’d heir of Bourbon rise,
        And through the shadowy gloom,
    Shake the curst torches in thine eyes
        That lighted to his doom!


    But not to that tremendous hour
    Does Heaven remit its torturing power;
    And ev’n thy tyrant heart shall feel,
    That _here_--that _now_--there’s vengeance still!
    In vain, thy gorgeous state would hide
    Of conscious fear and wounded pride,
        The self-inflicted pang;--
    Though monarchs to thy car be tied,
    Though over half the world beside,
        Thy chains of conquest clang,--
    Britain and Spain, erect and proud,
    Defy thee to the strife aloud,
    And wave to Europe’s servile crowd,
        The flag of liberty:
    In it, thou seest thy glory’s shroud;
    It’s shadow, like a thunder cloud,
        O’erhangs thy destiny.


    Yes, thou shalt learn--and, at the tale,
    Thy pride shall shrink, thy hope shall fail,
        Though falsehood’s hand have trac’d
    The lying legend--thou shall know
    Thy marshals foiled--thy thousands low--
        Thy puppet King disgrac’d!
    Far other thoughts their bosoms fill;
    As now to Talavera’s hill
    Proud in their numbers and their skill,
        The Gallic columns haste:
    The same they are, and led by those,
    The scourges of the world’s repose,
    Victors of Milan’s fair domain,
    Of Austerlitz’s wintry plain,
        And Friedland’s sandy waste:
    Who Prussia’s shiver’d sceptre hurl’d
    Down to the dust, and from the world
        Her very name erased:
    Who boast them, in presumptuous tone,
    Each feat and fortune to have known
    Of war, except _defeat_ alone;
        But now of _that_ to taste!


    Valiant tho’ vain, tho’ boastful wise--
    Marshals, and Dukes!--with skilful eyes
        They view the adverse line;
    And well their prudent councils weigh
    The eventful danger of the day,
        Where Britain’s banners shine.
    ‘What though the Spanish spear we foil,
    Poor were the prize, and vain the toil:--
    Nothing is done till Britain’s spoil
        Attest our victory:
    Till, on the wings of terror borne,
    The Leopards, scattered and forlorn,
        Fly to their guardian sea.
    On then!--let _Britain_ prove our might!
    _Her’s_ be the trial of the fight,
        The peril and the pain!
    Press her with growing thousands round,
    Dash that red banner to the ground,
        And seal the fate of Spain!’


    Thus France her baseless vision forms:
    But HE,--long tried in battle storms--
        In Ind’s unequal war
    Scattering, like dust, the sable swarms
        Of Scindiah and Berar;
    He, conqueror still where’er he turns,
        On Zealand’s frozen reign,
    Or where the sultry summer burns
        Vimero’s rocky plain;
    Who, from his tyrant station shook,
    With grasp of steel, Abrantes’ Duke;
    HE, who from Douro’s rescued side,
    Dispersed Dalmatia’s upstart pride;--
    In fortune and desert, the same
        On every scene of war,
    Sebastiani’s pride shall tame;
    And practised Jourdan’s veteran fame,
    And Victor! thy portentous name
        Shall fade before his star!


    In front of Talavera’s wall,
    And near the confluent streams, the Gaul
    His royal banner rears to sight,
    With all the borrow’d blazon bright
        Of Leon and Castille;
    And seems to meditate a fight
        That Spain alone shall feel.
    Oh, vain pretence! to Wellesley’s eyes,
        As pervious as the air!
    He knows, that while the red cross flies,
    From the strong covert, where she lies
    Entrench’d and shelter’d, Spain defies
        The utmost France can dare--
    That Britain, on her blood-stain’d hill,
        The brunt of fight must bear--
    And France, though baffled thrice, will still
    Strain all her force, exhaust her skill,
        To plant her eagles there;
    Which soon, from that commanding height
    Would speed their desolating flight,
    And, sweeping o’er the scatter’d plain,
    The hopes of England and of Spain
        With iron talon tear.


    Now from the dark artillery broke
    Lightning flash and thunder stroke;
    And cloud on cloud of fiery smoke
        Rolls in the darken’d air:
    Wrapp’d in its shade, unheard, unseen,
    Artful surprise and onset keen
        The crafty foes prepare--
    Three columns of the flower of France
    With rapid step and firm, advance,
        At first thro’ tangled ground,
    O’er fence and dell and deep ravine;
    At length they reach the level green--
    The midnight battle’s murderous scene--
        The valley’s eastern bound.
    There in a rapid line they form,
    Thence are just rushing to the storm
        By bold Belluno led,
    When sudden thunders shake the vale,
    Day seems, as if eclipsed, to fail,
        The light of heaven is fled;
    A dusty whirlwind rides the sky,
    A living tempest rushes by
        With deafening clang and tread--
    ‘A charge! a charge!’ the British cry,
        ‘And Seymour at its head.’


    Belluno sees the coming storm,
        And feels the instant need--
    ‘Break up the line, the column form,
        And break and form with speed,
    Or under Britain’s thundering arm
        In rout and ruin bleed!’
    Quick, as upon the sea-beat sands
    Vanish the works of childish hands,
        The lengthen’d lines are gone,
    And broken into nimble bands
        Across the plain they run:
    ‘Spur, Britain, spur thy foaming horse,
    O’ertake them in their scatter’d course,
        And sweep them from the land!’
    She spurs, she flies; in vain, in vain--
    Already they have pass’d the plain,
    And now the broken ground they gain,
        And now, a column, stand!
    ‘Rein up thy courser, Britain, rein!’--
    But who the tempest can restrain?
        The mountain flood command?
    Down the ravine, with hideous crash,
    Headlong the foremost squadrons dash,
    And many a soldier, many a steed
    Crush’d in the dire confusion bleed.
    The rest, as ruin fills the trench,
    Pass clear, and on the column’d French,
    A broken and tumultuous throng,
    With glorious rashness pour along,
        Too prodigal of life;
    And they had died, ay every one,
    But Wellesley cries, ‘On, Anson, on,
    Langworth, and Albuquerque and Payne,
    Lead Britain, Hanover, and Spain,
        And turn the unequal strife.’


    Needs it to tell how fierce the flame
        Burn’d of that doubtful strife,
    Whose precious prize was life, and fame
        More precious still than life!--
    By France what English hearts were gor’d,
    What crests were cleft by Britain’s sword,
    When horse and foot infuriate met,
    And sabre clash’d with bayonet,
    And how they fought and how they fell,
    And man and steed, ’midst shout and yell,
        The field of carnage strew’d:
    It were a tedious tale to tell,
        A tedious tale of blood.
    But when the fierce and cloudless sun
        Blazed from his noontide height,
    And ere the field was lost or won,
        Worn and unable quite
    The hostile stroke to make or shun,
    Faint, breathless, all with toil foredone,
        They paus’d amid the fight!
    Oft, when the midnight tempests sweep
    With fiercest fury o’er the deep,
    Short, sullen pauses intervene,
    And, ev’ry fitful gust between,
        The stormy roar is still’d:
    Thus was the rage of battle staid,
    And clash of bayonet and blade
        Subsided o’er the field:
    Hush’d was the shout, the tumult laid,
    And each receding line obey’d
    The truce which weary nature made,
        And mutual honour seal’d.


    There is a brook, that from its source
        High in the rocky hill,
    Pours o’er the plain its limpid course,
    To pay to Teio’s monarch force
        Its tributary rill;
    Which, in the peaceful summer-tide,
    The swarthy shepherd sits beside,
    And loitering, as it rolls along
    In cadence pours his rustic song--
    Carol of love or pious chaunt,
    Or tale of knight and giant gaunt,
        And lady captive held;
    Or strains, not fabled, of the war,
    Where the great champion of Bivar
        The Moorish pagan quell’d.
    But now, no shepherd loiters there--
    He flies, with all his fleecy care,
        To mountains high and far,
    And starts, and breathless stops to hear
    Borne on the breeze, and to his fear
    Seeming, at every gust, more near,
        The distant roar of war.


    But on the streamlet’s margin green
    Other than shepherd forms are seen;
    And sounds, unlike the rustic song,
    The troubled current rolls along;
    When, of the cooling wave to taste,
    From either host the warriors haste
        With busy tread and hum:
    You would have thought that streamlet bound
    Were listed field or sacred ground
        Where battle might not come.
    So late in adverse contest tried,
    So deep in recent carnage dyed,
    To mutual honour they confide
        Their mutual fates; nor shrink
    To throw the cap and helm aside,
    As, mingled o’er the narrow tide,
        They bend their heads to drink;
    Or, nature’s feverish wants supplied,
    Unarm’d, unguarded, side by side,
    Safe in a soldier’s faith and pride
        They rest them on the brink.
    They speak not--in each others phrase
    Unskill’d--but yet the thoughts of praise,
        And honour to unfold,
    The heart has utterance of its own;
    And ere the signal trump was blown,
        And ere the drum had roll’d,
    The honest grasp of manly hands,
    That common link of distant lands,
    That sign which nature understands,
        The generous feeling told:
    The high and sacred pledge it gave,
    That both were true, and both were brave,
    And something added of regret,
    At parting when so lately met,
        And (not developed quite)
    Some dubious hopes of meeting yet
    As heaven their devious paths might set,
        In friendship or in fight.


    But short the truce that they can keep--
        For now the signals shrill
    Sounding along, from plain and steep,
    Longer forbid the fight to sleep;
    Light from the ground the warriors leap,
        And seize the rein and steel:
    All arm’d, all ardent, all array’d,
        Again their weapons wield;
    And echoing thro’ the livid shade,
    The clash of bayonet and blade
        Revives along the field.
    The hurried fight from post to post,
    Kindles, but on the center most,
    Whence, hoping on a happier stage,
    The renovated war to wage,
        France now assails the hill,
    And pours with aggregated rage
        The storm of fire and steel;
    Soon from the eye the hostile crowd
        The gathering shade conceals,
    While from its bosom, long and loud,
    Like thunder from a vernal cloud,
        The din of battle peals.


    But when the freshening breezes broke
    A chasm in the volumed smoke,
    Busy and black was seen to wave
        The iron harvest of the field,--
        That harvest, which, in slaughter till’d,
    Is gathered in the grave:--
    And now before their mutual fires
        They yield, and now advance;
    And now ’tis Britain that retires,
        And now the line of France:
    They struggle long with changeful fate;
        And all the battle’s various cries,
    Now depress’d and now elate,
        In mingled clamours rise;
    Till France at length before the weight
        Of British onset flies:
    ‘Forward,’ the fiery victors shout,
    ‘Forward, the enemy’s in rout,
        Pursue him and he dies!’


    Hot and impetuous they pursued,
    And wild with carnage, drunk with blood,
        Rush’d on the plain below;
    The wily Frenchman saw and stood--
    Screen’d by the verges of the wood
        He turn’d him on the foe.
    The gallant bands that guard the crown
    Of England, led the battle down,
        And, in their furious mood,
    Thrice they essay’d with onset fierce,
    Thrice fail’d, collected France to pierce--
        Still France collected, stood!
    While full on each uncover’d flank
    Cannon and mortar swept their rank,
    And many a generous Briton sank
        Before the dreadful blaze;
    Yet ’midst that dreadful blaze and din
        The fearless shout they raise,
    And ever, as their numbers thin,
    Fresh spirits rush unbidden in,
    Thoughtless, but how the meed to win
        Of peril and of praise.
    And still, as with a blacker shade
        Fortune obscures the day,
    Commingled thro’ the fight they wade,
    And hand to hand and blade to blade,
    Their blind and furious efforts braid,
    As if, still dark and disarray’d,
        They fought the midnight fray.


    In vain.--New hopes and fresher force
    Inspirit France, and urge her course,
    A torrent, rapid, wild, and hoarse,
        On Britain’s wavering train.
    As when, before the wintery skies,
    The struggling forests sink and rise,
        And rise and sink again,
    While the gale scatters as it flies
        Their ruins o’er the plain;
    Before the tempest of her foes,
    So England sank, and England rose,
    And, though still rooted in the vale,
    Strew’d her rent branches on the gale.
    Then, Wellesley! on thy tortured thought
    With ripening hopes of glory fraught,
        What honest anguish crost!
    Oh, how thy generous bosom burn’d,
    To see the tide of victory turn’d,
        And Spain and England lost!--
    Lost--but that, as the peril great
    And rising with the storms of fate,
        His rapid genius soars,
    Sees, at a glance, his whole resource,
    Drains from each stronger point its force,
        And on the weaker pours:
    Present where’er his soldiers bleed,
        He rushes thro’ the fray,
    And, (so the doubtful chances need,)
    In high emprize and desperate deed,
        Squanders himself away!


    Now from the summit, at his call,
        A gallant legion firm and slow
    Advances on victorious Gaul;
    Undaunted, though their comrades fall!
        Unshaken, though their leader’s low!
    Fix’d--as the high and buttress’d mound
    Which guards some leaguer’d city round,
    They stand unmoved--Behind them form
    The scatter’d fragments of the storm;
    While on their sheltering front, amain
    France drives, with all her thundering train,
        Her full career of death:
    But drives not long her full career,
    For now, that living bulwark near,
    Fault’ring between fatigue and fear
        She stops and pants for breath:
    That dubious pause, that wavering rest,
    The Britons seize, and breast to breast
    Opposing, havoc’s arm arrest,
    And from the foe’s exulting crest,
        Tear down the laurel wreath.


    Nor does the gallant foe resign,
    Even while his hopes and strength decline,
        A tame inglorious prize;--
    Long, long on Britain’s rallied line
        The deadly fire he plies;
    Long, long where Britain’s banners shine
        He vainly toils and dies!
    Ne’er to a battle’s fiercer groan
        Did mountain echo roar,
    Nor ever evening blush upon
        A redder field of gore.
    But feebler now, and feebler still,
    The panting French assail the hill,
    And weaker grows their cannon’s roar,
    And thinner falls their missile shower,
        Fainter their clanging steel;
    The hot and furious fit is o’er,
    They shout--they charge--they stand no more--
    And staggering in the slippery gore,
        Their very leaders reel.


    But shooting high and rolling far,
    What new and horrid face of war
        Now flushes on the sight?
    ’Tis France, as furious she retires,
    That wreaks, in desolating fires,
        The vengeance of her flight.
    Already parch’d by summer’s sun,
    The grassy vale the flames o’er-run;
        And, sweeping wreath’d and light
    Before the wind, the thickets seize,
    And climb the dry and withered trees,
        In flashes long and bright.
    Oh! ’twas a scene sublime and dire,
    To see that billowy sea of fire,
        Rolling its flaky tide
    O’er cultured field and tangled wood,
    And drowning in the flaming flood
        The seasons’ hope and pride!


    From Talavera’s wall and tower
        And from the mountain’s height,
    Where they had stood for many an hour
        To view the varying fight,
    Burghers and peasants in amaze
    Behold their groves and vineyards blaze:
    Calm they had view’d the bloody fray,
        And little thought that France’s groan
    And England’s sigh, ere close of day,
        Should mingle with their own!
    But ah! far other cries than these
    Are wafted on the dismal breeze--
    Groans, not the wounded’s lingering groan--
    Shrieks, not the shriek of death alone--
        But groan, and shriek, and yell,
    Of terror, torture, and despair;
    Such as ’twould chill the heart to hear
        And freeze the tongue to tell--
    When to the very field of fight,
    Dreadful alike in sound and sight,
        The conflagration spread,
    Involving in its fiery wave
    The brave and reliques of the brave--
        The dying and the dead!


    And now again the evening sheds
        Her dewy veil on Teio’s side,
    And from the Sierra’s rocky heads
        The giant shadows stride;
    And all is dim and dark again--
    Save here and there upon the plain,
        Still flash the baleful fires,
    Across the umber’d face of night
    Casting a dull and flickering light,
        As if from funeral pyres.
    But since the close of yester-e’en
    How alter’d is the martial scene!
    Again, in night’s surrounding veil,
        France moves her busy bands--but now
    She comes not, venturous, to assail
    The victors in their guarded vale,
        Or on the mountain’s brow--
    Dash’d from her triumph’s windy car
    She mourns the wayward fate of war,
    And baffled and dishearten’d, o’er
    Alberche’s stream and from his shore,
        With silent haste she speeds,
    Nor dares, ev’n at that midnight hour,
        To snatch the rest she needs;
    Far from the field where late she fought--
        The tents where late she lay--
    With rapid step and humbled thought,
        All night she holds her way:
    Leaving, to Britain’s conquering sons,
    Standards rent and ponderous guns,
        The trophies of the fray!
    The weak, the wounded, and the slain--
    The triumph of the battle plain--
        The glory of the day!


    I would not check the tender sigh,
        Nor chide the pious tear,
    That heaves the heart and dims the eye
        For friend or kinsman dear;
    Ev’n when their honoured reliques lie
        On victory’s proudest bier;
    But I would say, for those that die
        In honour’s high career,
    For those in glory’s grave who sleep,
    Weep fondly, but, _exulting_, weep!
    More freshly from the untimely tomb
    Renown’s eternal laurels bloom
        With sullen cypress twined.
    Fortune is fickle and unsure,
    And worth and fame to be secure
        Must be in death enshrin’d!


    I too have known what ’tis to part
    With the first inmate of my heart--
    To feel the bonds of nature riven--
        To witness o’er the glowing dawn,
    The spring of youth, the fire of heaven,
        The grave’s deep shadows drawn!
    He sleeps not on the gory plain
        The slumber of the brave--
    Dear Victim of disease, and pain,
    Where high Madeira’s summits reign
        Far o’er the Atlantic wave,
    He sought eluding health--in vain--
    Health never lit his eye again,
        He fills a foreign grave!
    Oh, had he lived, his hand to-day
        Had woven for the victor’s brow,
    Such garland of immortal bay,
    Such chaplet as the enraptured lay
        Of genius may bestow!
    Or,--since ’twas Heaven’s severer doom
    To snatch him to an earlier tomb--
    Would, Wellesley, would that he had died
    Beneath thine eye and at thy side!
    It would have lighten’d sorrow’s load,
    Had thy applause on him bestow’d
        The fame he loved in thee;
    And rear’d his honoured tomb beside
    Those of the gallant hearts who died,
    Their kinsmen’s, friends’, and country’s pride,
        In Talavera’s victory!




    Victor of Assaye’s orient plain;--
    Victor of all the fields of Spain;--
    Victor of France’s despot reign;--
        Thy task of glory done!
    Welcome!--from dangers greatly dared;
    From triumphs, with the vanquish’d shared;
    From nations saved, and nations spared;
        Unconquer’d Wellington!--


    _Unconquer’d!_ yet thy honours claim
    A nobler, than a Conqueror’s, name;--
    At the red wreaths of guilty fame
        Thy generous soul had blush’d:
    The blood--the tears the world has shed--
    The throngs of mourners--piles of dead--
    The grief--the guilt--are on _his_ head,
        The Tyrant thou hast crush’d.


    Thine was the sword which Justice draws;
    Thine was the pure and generous cause,
    Of holy rites and human laws
        The impious thrall to burst;
    And _thou_ wast destin’d for thy part!
    The noblest mind, the firmest heart,
    Artless--but in the warrior’s art--
        And in that art, the first.


    And WE, who in the eastern skies
    Beheld thy Sun of glory rise,
    Still follow, with exulting eyes,
        His proud Meridian height.
    Late,--on thy grateful country’s breast,
    Late, may that Sun descend to rest,
    Beaming through all the glowing West
        The memory of his light.



    Wave, wave, the banners of the fight;
    Be every breast in armour dight,
        And every soul on fire!
    To trembling Europe’s frighted eyes,
    Red let the sun of battle rise;
    And bloody be the morning skies
        That bring the day of ire!

    Whose impious voice, from his dark cave
    Wakes the destroyer of the brave?
        What hand prepares their tomb?
    ’Tis He, Ambition’s perjured sprite,
    ’Tis He, that waves the flags of fight,
    ’Tis He, in clouds of deadliest night,
        Who weaves the warrior’s doom.

    Weep, weep, ye gentle dames of France,
    Ye, whose devoted sons advance
        To Britain’s fatal shore:
    O! kiss their lips before ye part,
    O! press them to your bursting heart--
    Save in a dream’s convulsive start--
        Ye ne’er shall clasp them more.

    Arouse, arouse, ye British dames,
    With words of fire, the patriot flames
        That burn for glorious deed.
    For him that lives, the raptur’d eye
    Of love shall dance! for those who die,
    Their ladies’ tears, their country’s sigh,
        Shall be the sacred meed!






    Though I do love my country’s weal
      As well as any soul that breathes;
    Though more than filial pride I feel
      To see her crown’d, with conqu’ring wreaths;

    Yet from my heart do I deplore
      Her recent triumphs on the main--
    Those laurels dripping red with gore--
      That victory bought with NELSON slain.

    Oh! dearest conquest, heaviest loss,
      That England’s hope and heart have known
    Since first, in fight, her blood-red cross
      O’er the great deep triumphant shone.--

    And she should wail that conquest dear,
      And she that heavy loss should mourn;
    Hallow with sighs her Hero’s bier,
      And gem with tears her Hero’s urn.

    Shame on the wild and callous rout
      That lights for joy its countless fires,
    That hails the day with madd’ning shout,
      While HE, who won the day, expires!

    It was, indeed, a glorious day,--
      And every homage of the heart
    Were just, that rescued realms can pay,
      Had NELSON lived to share his part.

    Had NELSON lived to hear our praise,
      I too had hymn’d the victor’s song;
    I too had lit the joyous blaze,
      And wildly join’d the exulting throng.

    But HE is blind to pageant gay,
      And he is deaf to joyous strain;
    And I will raise no pleasant lay,
      And swell no pomp for NELSON slain.

    But I will commune with my mind,
      To celebrate its darling Chief
    What worthiest tribute it may find
      Of soften’d pride, of temper’d grief.

    Ye good and great, ’tis yours to raise
      The storied vase, the column tall,
    Through every future age to praise
      His life, and consecrate his fall:

    Mine it will be, (oh! would my tongue
      Were gifted with immortal verse!)
    To strew, with many a sorrowing song,
      Parnassian cypress o’er his hearse.


    The fight was long;--and deep in blood
    Britain’s triumphant warriors stood:
    High o’er the wave, untorn, unstain’d,
    The ensigns of her glory reign’d:
    Around, the wreck’d and vanquish’d pride
    Of hostile navies strew’d the tide;
    Or scatter’d, as the tempest bore,
    Their ruins on the affrighted shore.

    The haughty hopes of France and Spain,
        Had dream’d of conquest’s laurel crown--
    O! vision, arrogant and vain!--
    NELSON has swept them from the main,
        And dash’d their airy trophies down:
    Their fancied wreaths his brow adorn,
    Won by his valour, in his triumph worn.

    But, hark! amidst the joyous shout,
    For Spain’s defeat, and France’s rout:
    But, hark! amidst the glad acclaim
    Of England’s honour, NELSON’S fame,
    What deep and sullen sounds arise?
    Are these, alas! victorious cries?
    Bode they a widow’d nation’s woe;
    The triumph vain, and NELSON low?--

    In his full glory’s brightest blaze,
        On the high summit of his deeds,
    (While Victory’s saintly halo plays,
    With living fire,--immortal rays,--
        Around his head,) the Hero bleeds;
    In pomp of death, to mortal eyes
    Never before revealed, the Hero dies.

    He dies! but while on Egypt’s strand
    The Ptolomean tower shall stand;--
    Stain’d with the turbid streams of Nile,
    While seas shall beat Aboukir’s isle;--
    While the white ocean breaks and roars
    On Trafalgar’s immortal shores;--
    While high St. Vincent’s towery steep
    And, giant of the Atlantic deep,
    Dark Teneriffe, like beacons, guide
      The wanderers of the western wave;
    Sublime shall stand, amid the tide
    Of baffled Time,--his country’s pride--
        The sacred memory of the brave;
      And NELSON’S emulated name
    Shine the proud sea-mark to the ports of Fame!


    ’Twas at the close of that dark morn
        On which our Hero, conquering, died,
    That every seaman’s heart was torn
        By strife of sorrow and of pride;--

    Of pride, that one short day would show
        Deeds of eternal splendour done,
    Full twenty hostile ensigns low,
        And twenty glorious victories won--

    Of grief, of deepest, tenderest grief,
        That He, on every sea and shore,
    Their brave, beloved, unconquer’d Chief,
        Should wave his victor-flag no more.

    Sad was the eve of that dire day:
        But direr, sadder was the night;
    When human rage had ceased the fray,
        And elements maintain’d the fight.

    All shaken in the conflict past
        The navies fear’d the tempest loud--
    The gale, that shook the groaning mast--
        The wave, that climb’d the tatter’d shroud.

    By passing gleams of sullen light,
        The worn and weary seamen view’d
    The hard-earn’d prizes of the fight
        Sink, found’ring, in the midnight flood:

    And oft, as drowning screams they heard,
        And oft, as sank the ships around,
    Some British vessel lost they fear’d,
        And mourn’d some British brethren drown’d.

    And oft they cried, (as memory roll’d
        On Him, so late their hope and guide
    But now a bloody corse and cold,)
        ‘Was it for _this_, that NELSON died?’

    For three short days, and three long nights,
        They wrestled with the tempest’s force;
    And sank the trophies of their fights,--
        And thought upon that bloody corse!--

    But when the fairer morn arose
        Bright o’er the yet-tumultuous main,
    They saw no wreck but that of foes,
        No ruin but of France and Spain:

    And, victors now of winds and seas,
        Beheld the British vessels brave
    Breasting the ocean at their ease,
        Like sea-birds on their native wave:

    And now they cried, (because they found
        Old England’s fleet in all its pride,
    While Spain’s and France’s hopes were drown’d,)
        ‘It _was_ for _this_ that NELSON died!’

    He died, with many an hundred bold
        And honest hearts as ever beat!--
    But where’s the British heart so cold
        That would not die in such a feat?

    Yes! by their memories! by all
        The honours which their tomb surround!
    Theirs was the noblest, happiest fall
        Which ever mortal courage crown’d.

    Then bear them to their glorious grave
        With no weak tears, no woman’s sighs;
    Theirs was the death-bed of the brave,
        And manly be their obsequies!

    Haul not your colours from on high,
        Nor down the flags of victory lower:--
    Give every streamer to the sky,
        Let all your conq’ring cannon roar;

    That every kindling soul may learn
        How to resign its patriot breath;
    And from a grateful country, earn
        The triumphs of a trophied death.


    Rear high the monumental stone!--
    To other days, as to his own,
    Belong the Hero’s deathless deeds,
    Who greatly lives, who bravely bleeds.

    Not to a petty point of time
    Or space, but wide to every clime
    And age, his glorious fall bequeaths
    Valour’s sword, and victory’s wreaths.

    The rude but pious care of yore
    Heap’d o’er the brave the mounded shore;
    And still that mounded shore can tell
    Where Hector and Pelides fell.

    There, over glory’s earthly bed,
    When many a wasting age had fled,
    The world’s Great Victor pour’d his pray’rs
    For fame, and monuments like theirs.

    Happy the brave! whose sacred tomb
    _Itself_ averts the oblivious doom,
    Bears on its breast unfading bays,
    And gives eternity of praise!

    High, then, the monumental pile
    Erect, for NELSON of the NILE!
    Of TRAFALGAR, and VINCENT’S heights,
    For NELSON of the hundred fights--

    For Him, alike on shore and surge,
    Of proud Iberia’s power the scourge;
    And half around the sea-girt ball,
    The hunter of the recreant Gaul.

    Rear the tall shaft on some bold steep
    Whose base is buried in the deep;
    But whose bright summit shines afar
    O’er the blue ocean, like a star.

    Such let it be, as o’er the bed
    Of Nilus rears its lonely head;
    Which never shook at mortal might,
    Till NELSON lanced the bolts of fight.

    (What time the ORIENT, wrapt in fire
    Blazed, its own seamen’s funeral pyre,
    And, with explosive fury riven,
    Sprang thundering to the midnight heaven.)

    Around it, when the raven night
    Shades ocean, fire the beacon-light;
    And let it, thro’ the tempest, flame
    The star of safety as of fame.

    Thither, as o’er the deep below
    The seaman seeks his country’s foe,
    His emulative eye shall roll,
    And NELSON’S spirit fill his soul.

    Thither, shall youthful heroes climb,
    The NELSONS of an after-time,
    And, round that sacred altar, swear
    Such glory and such graves to share.

    Raise then, imperial Britain, raise
    The trophied pillar of his praise;
    And worthy be its towering pride,
    Of those that live, of HIM that died!

    Worthy of NELSON of the NILE!
    Of NELSON of the cloud-capp’d Isle,
    Of TRAFALGAR and VINCENT’S heights,
    Of NELSON of the hundred fights!





    Despair of Spain!--and dost _thou_ dare
    To talk, cold plodder, of despair?
        Dost _thou_ presume to scan
    The proud revenge, the deathless zeal,
    The throes that injured nations feel,
        Beneath the oppressor’s ban;
    The pride, the spirit, and the power,
    That, growing with the arduous hour,
        Ennoble patriot man?

    O thou of little heart and hope,
    Purblind diviner, can thy scope
        Nothing but danger see?--
    Unfrighted tho’ with carnage strew’d,
    Ev’n in her ruins unsubdued,
        Great in adversity,
    Do Saragossa and her train--
    Heroes and Saints--survive in vain,
    Shall they be told ‘Despair of Spain,’
        And told, alas! by _thee_?

    Oh, no; tho’ France’s murderous hand
    Should sweep the desolated land,
        _Revenge_ will still remain:--
    Smother’d, but not extinguish’d quite,
    A spark will live, in time will light,
        And fire the lengthening train.--
    Stung by that pang which never dies,
    Enthusiast millions shall arise,
    And Europe echo to their cries,




STANZA II. line 1.--_France’s chosen bands._

The force opposed to the allies comprised some of the élite of the
French army.

St. II. l. 2.--_He of the borrowed crown._

    ‘The _borrowed_ Majesty of England.’
              _Shakspeare, King John._

Joseph (el Rey botilla) was in the field, and of course nominally
commanding in chief; but he very prudently placed himself opposite to
the Spanish lines, where there was little to do; and, accordingly, we do
not hear of him again, till his gasconading proclamations from Saint
Olalla, _after his retreat_.

St. II. l. 5.--_Talavera._

Talavera, (called de la Reyna, because it was for some time the
_appanage_ of the Queens of Spain,) is one of the most ancient cities
of the monarchy. Though situated nearly in the centre of the Peninsula,
it has had the peculiar ill fortune of suffering in all ages, and from
all parties, the calamities of war. Christians and Moors stormed and
plundered it by turns, and not an instance occurs of an hostile force
failing before it, till that one which I now attempt to describe. The
ramparts were very strong, constructed of immense blocks of free-stone,
and flanked, as it is said, with eighteen square towers; but the most
ancient ramparts and towers have fallen into a state of dilapidation.
The inhabitants themselves, indeed, have been more destructive even than
Time, and, to procure stones for the erection of dwelling-houses, ‘have
industriously pillaged the dismantled walls, and reduced to an
insignificant heap of stones all those stately fragments of majesty and
strength, which had so long been preserved in Talavera as venerable
monuments of its eventful history[1].’

The gate of the western suburb has been rendered memorable by a
flagitious act of cruelty, committed in 1289, at the instigation of
Sancho the Brave. On that spot were exposed to view the dissected limbs
of 400 nobles of Talavera, who had been put to death for their adherence
to the cause of the unfortunate family of La Cerda, against a successful
usurper. This action is yet commemorated in the name of Puerto de
Quartos. Talavera is now a considerable and opulent city, and must have
been very populous even in 1289, since it could furnish 400 noble
victims of one party.

St. II. l. 13.--_St. James._

St. James, or Saint Jago, is the Patron Saint of Spain. The shrine at
Compostella, on the site of which the Apostle’s body was miraculously
discovered in 800, became famous throughout Europe, and was for many
ages the peculiar object of the liberality of the rich, and of the
pilgrimages of the poor of all nations. In the year 1434, no less than
2460 English had license from the King to proceed thither, with
considerable sums of money, as well for offerings as for their necessary

When Almanzor, the Moorish King of Seville, ravaged Gallicia, the divine
interposition preserved, by a miraculous storm of lightning, the temple
of Compostella from plunder and profanation. Is it too much to hope that
the vengeance of Heaven may yet, in our days, visit invaders more
rapacious, more cruel, more impious, than the Moors!

St. III. l. 20.--_Thrice come they on._

I have taken the liberty of representing the three attacks on General
Hill’s position to have been all made about midnight, and in immediate
succession, though, in fact, the first occurred late in the evening, the
second only at midnight, and the third about day-break on the 28th.

St. IV. l. 2.--_Promiscuous death._

It is certain that in the confusion of the night-fight, much loss was
occasioned on both parts, by mistaking friends for foes.

St. IV. l. 9.--_The Bard’s enthusiast lay._

   ---- sed omnes illacrimabiles
    Urguentur ignotique longâ
    Nocte, carent quia vate sacro.
               _Hor. Od. 9, lib. 4._

St. IV. l. 12.--_Oh for a blaze._

A young and accomplished lady has discovered, as she fancies, a
resemblance between the description of this night-fight, and that of the
encounter of Tancred and Clorinda in the _Gierusalemme Liberata_. I am
very far from agreeing with my fair critic in this notion, and any of my
readers, who shall turn to the fifty-fourth and subsequent stanzas of
the twelfth canto of the Jerusalem, will have the satisfaction, (not, I
think, of detecting me in a presumptuous and unacknowledged imitation of
Tasso,) but of reading one of the most striking passages of that
splendid poem.

St. VI. l. 23.--_Fifty thousand warriors._

The French acknowledge to have had 45,000 men engaged, and we know that
the effective British scarcely, if at all, exceeded 20,000.

⁂ Since these pages were first published, there have appeared in the
Moniteur of Sept. 28, 1809, notes on Lord Wellington’s dispatches, which
admit the disparity to have been still greater than the most sanguine
Englishman had thought--than even _we romancers_ had imagined.

They state the army which attacked Lord Wellesley, (as they call him,)
to have consisted of the 1st and 4th corps, and the reserve; and their
force they allege to have been,--the 1st corps, 36 battalions; the 4th,
30 battalions; and the reserve, 20 battalions, exclusive of the cavalry,
which was 40 squadrons. Now these 86 battalions, if complete, would have
numbered about 60,000 infantry; and even if but _half_ complete, would
have exceeded Lord Wellington’s force, (which they admit to have been
but 20,000) by 10,000 of infantry alone, or, reckoning the cavalry, by
14,000 men. But, in fact, they may be taken at 500 men to each battalion
at least, that is, in the whole, at 43,000 infantry, and about 4,000
cavalry. 1810.

It is now known, that the French force consisted of about 50,000 men.

St. VIII. l. 6.--_Cold allies._

The government and generals of Spain, at the period of the battle of
Talavera, were more than usually tardy and feeble in all their measures.
After the battle, Sir A. Wellesley was disabled from pursuing his
advantages, and (when he was obliged, by General Cuesta’s extraordinary
conduct, to retreat,) his army was almost exhausted, for want of those
means of transport which the Spanish authorities had liberally promised
him, and which, in fact, they could have furnished in sufficient
abundance. While the guns taken at Talavera were in the possession of
the English, the Spanish General could not be induced to afford the
means of drawing them; but when, on this account, the English were
forced to abandon them, the Spaniards easily found cattle for their
conveyance. So, when the British army laid down its ammunition for want
of means to carry it, the Spaniards found no difficulty in bringing it
away for their own use[2]. The correspondence between Sir A. Wellesley,
Lord Wellesley, and M. de Garay, in 1809, afford many similar proofs of
the _coldness_ of the government of our allies; though it is now clear
that it did not exist (as Sir J. Moore seems to have supposed) in all
classes: the lower orders, and not a few of the higher, have all along
exhibited irrefragable proofs of the warmest enthusiasm, and the most
patriotic devotion. There have been, and there still are, a great number
of persons in Spain, who, to say the best of them, are inclined to
_temporize_; and too many of this class have found means to influence
the national operations.--In spite of them, however, the spirit of the
people may save their country; and I shall not despair, however
‘Princes and Lords may flourish or may fade,’ of the cause of Spain,
till ‘the bold peasantry, its country’s pride,’ shall have passed under
the usurper’s yoke.

St. VIII. l. 14.--_The agony of fame._

This expression, and another in the last line of the XXVIIth Stanza, are
borrowed from a splendid passage of Mr. Burke’s, in which, speaking of
Lord Keppel, he says, ‘With what zeal and anxious affection I attended
him through his trial, _that agony of his glory_--with what prodigality
I _squandered_ myself in courting almost every sort of enmity for his
sake,’ &c. _Burke’s Works_, v. 8, p. 54.

St. VIII. l. 21.--_Factious spite._

The calumniators of Sir Arthur Wellesley have been so industrious in
publishing their malignity, that it is unnecessary to recal to the
public observation any particular instance of it. In reading their base
absurdities, one cannot but recollect the expression of Marshal Villars
(I think it was) to Lewis XIV. ‘Sire, je vais combattre vos ennemis, &
je vous laisse au milieu des miens.’--Sir Arthur, much worse treated
than M. de Villars, says nothing about it, but beats his country’s
enemies, and despises his own.

St. XIV. l. 1.--_But, tyrant, thou._

With all the reluctance which one must feel to charge with atrocious
crimes, a man whose talents (not always ill employed) have raised him to
the highest station and power that any human being ever attained, it is
yet impossible to think of his cruel and unprovoked attack on the
Spanish crown and people without indignation--without feeling, that
Divine Justice must charge to his account, all the ruin by fire, famine,
and the sword, which his unparalleled injustice has visited upon that
unhappy country.

St. XIV. l. 23.--_The murder’d heir of Bourbon._

The seizing the Duke D’Enghien in a neutral state, dragging him to a
tribunal to which he was, in no view, amenable, condemning him by laws
to which he owed no obedience, and finally, putting him to death by a
hasty and cowardly execution by _torch-light_, are stains on
Buonaparte’s character, of such violence, injustice, and cruelty, as no
good fortune, no talents, no splendour of power, or even of merit, can
ever obliterate.

St. XV. l. 7.--_Self inflicted pang._

   -------- Cur tamen hos tu
    Evasisse putes, quos, diri conscia facti,
    Mens habet attonitos, et surdo verbere cædit,
    Occultum quatiente animo tortore flagellum?
              _Juvenal, Sat. 13._

St. XV. l. 11.--_Spain erect and proud._

The author has feared to indulge any very sanguine hope of the final
success of the Spanish cause, particularly since the retreat of the
French from Madrid, and behind the Ebro, was turned to so little solid
advantage by the Spaniards. But that their efforts and their example in
a great degree have already crippled and distracted the power of France,
and afforded a considerable chance for the emancipation of Europe; that
the victories of Baylen and Talavera, the defence of Saragossa and
Gerona, have been of one great advantage (exclusively of any other) in
dissipating the spell of French invincibility, cannot be denied.
Undoubtedly Buonaparte will come out of the Spanish contest, even though
he should finally succeed in placing his brother on the throne, with
diminished reputation and more precarious power. It is singular that in
the succession war, a century ago, the French were obliged in like
manner to retire from Madrid behind the Ebro, and that the negligence of
the other party, in not dislodging them from that position, eventually
placed the French competitor on the throne of Spain. _See Carleton’s
Memoirs._ 1809.

It is now upwards of two years since this note was written, and it must
be confessed that the French cause is not now, to all appearance, in so
promising a condition as it was then. Hopes that the author once
considered as too sanguine, have been more than realized, and the final
deliverance of Spain from the atrocious usurpation of France, seems
every hour less improbable. 1812.

St. XVII. l. 12.--_Leopards._

This is an image which Buonaparte himself has chosen to use: ‘When I
shall shew myself’ (said his speech to the Legislative Body, in Dec.
1809), ‘beyond the Pyrenees, the _frightened leopard_ will fly to the
ocean to avoid shame, defeat, and death.’--This is bold; what follows
might well be called by the coarser epithet which Doctor Bentley applied
to the imitator of Pindar--‘The triumph of my arms will be the triumph
of the genius of good over that of evil; of _moderation_, _order_, and
_morality_, over civil war, anarchy, and the bad passions!!! My
friendship and protection will, I hope, restore tranquillity and
happiness to the people of the Spains!!!’

St. XVIII. l. 3.--_Ind’s unequal war._

At Assaye, on the third of September, 1803, with 2,000 Europeans, and
2,500 native troops, Sir Arthur Wellesley utterly defeated the united
armies of Scindia and the Rajah of Berar, amounting to 20,000 cavalry,
and at least 11,000 infantry, strongly posted, furnished with a
formidable and well served train of artillery, (all taken,) and
officered in a great degree by Frenchmen. On the 30th Nov. he again came
up with the recruited and reinforced armies of these princes in the
plains of Argaum, and again totally routed them, taking thirty-eight
pieces of cannon. Without entering into further detail, it may be enough
to say, that the whole campaign was a master-piece of courage and
conduct, crowned with the most brilliant and decisive successes.

St. XIX. l. 5.--_Of Leon and Castile._

The national flag of Spain bears, per pale, Luna, a lion rampant,
Saturn, for Leon; and Mars, a castle, Sol, for Castile.

St. XIX. l. 8.--_To Wellesley’s eyes as pervious as the air._

The sagacity with which Sir A. Wellesley always foresaw the enemy’s
point of attack, and prepared means of repelling it, was very
remarkable. Those modest gentlemen in England, who undervalue his
military abilities, are obliged, (though unintentionally I dare say,) to
deny at the same time those of _their friends_ the French, who admit
that the English position was excellently chosen, and obstinately
defended: but indeed this admission was superfluous; for the
perseverance with which they assailed it, sufficiently proves how
important they thought it! Let it never be forgotten, that this
position, five times at least attacked with more than double forces by
some of the best generals and troops of France, was found to be
impregnable. But what are the opinions of the French marshals, or even
the evidence of facts, to the speculations of the tacticians of the
Morning Chronicle.

St. XIX. l. 12.--_Strong covert._

‘The right, consisting of Spanish troops, extended immediately in front
of the town of Talavera, down to the Tagus. This part of the ground was
covered by olive-trees, and much intersected by banks and ditches. The
high road leading from the bridge over the Alberche, was defended by a
heavy battery, in front of a church, which was occupied by Spanish
infantry. All the avenues to the town were defended in a similar manner;
the town was occupied, and the remainder of the Spanish infantry was
formed in two lines behind the banks on the roads which led from the
town, and the right to the left of our position.----’

Sir A. Wellesley’s dispatch.--_Gazette, Aug. 15, 1809._

St. XIX. l. 18.--_Commanding height._

Had the French succeeded in carrying that height on which General Hill’s
brigade alone was at first posted, but towards which Sir Arthur
afterwards moved several other regiments, nothing, it is thought, could
have saved the British and Spanish armies from an entire defeat.

St. XX. l. 8.--_Three columns._

Many of the circumstances of this and the next Stanza are taken from an
excellent letter from an officer of the 48th to his friend in Dublin,
which was published in the Freeman’s Journal, of that city, of the 19th
August, 1809.

St. XXI. l. 7.--_As upon the sea-beat sand._

The fair critic, (whom I have before mentioned as accusing me of
borrowing from Tasso,) has discovered, that for this image I am indebted
to Homer; and to this latter charge I believe I must plead guilty, as
well as to the still greater offence of miserably deteriorating what I
have stolen: but the first of these faults was unintentional, and I need
scarcely say that the second was inevitable.

    ---- ῶς ὅτις ψάμαθον ῶάἵς ἄγχι δαλάσσης,
    Ὂστ’ ἐῶεἰ οῦν ῶοιήσή άθυρμαια νηῶιέησιν,
    Αψ ἀυτις συνέχευε ῶοςἰν καἰ χερσιν, ἀθύρων.
              Iliad, XV. 362.

St. XXI. l. 32.--_Langworth, and Albuquerque, and Payne._

General Baron Langworth, (who unfortunately, but gloriously fell,)
commanded the German cavalry. The duke of Albuquerque was of
considerable service with his corps of Spanish horse, and Generals Payne
and Anson commanded the British cavalry. These troops brought off the
remains of the 23d dragoons, who, in a charge headed by Colonel Seymour,
had gotten entangled in a ravine and deep ditches, and were in danger
of being entirely destroyed.--They behaved with great gallantry, but
suffered a considerable loss, having however had the satisfaction of
baffling Victor’s (the duke of Belluno) attempt on General Hill’s


These three stanzas have been added since the seventh edition.--With the
interesting circumstances which they attempt to describe, I was not
acquainted when the poem was originally written. They were indeed, I
believe, first made known to the public in a most impressive speech
delivered in the House of Commons, early in the last session, by Lord
Viscount Castlereagh; and I have only to regret, that I have not been
more successful in my endeavour to preserve, in my stanzas, the interest
and animation of his Lordship’s eloquent description. 1811.

St. XXIII. l. 14.--_The Champion of Bivar._

The famous Cid, Ruy Dias of Bivar, the Campeador.

St. XXIV. l. 28.--_Grasp of manly hands._

It is delightful to think that this incident, so interesting, and in
modern times so unusual, is strictly true.

St. XXV. l. 13.--_On the centre._

The repulse of Victor by the dragoons was followed by a general attack
on the centre and right of the British line, which was every where
gallantly repulsed; but the action was severest towards the left of the
centre, where General Sherbrook commanded: it was there that the gallant
impetuosity of the Guards for a moment endangered the victory, and with
the description of this principal attack the text is chiefly occupied.

St. XXVIII. l. 18.--_The tide of victory turned._

It is not to be denied, that at this moment the fate of the day was
something worse than doubtful; but Sir Arthur, as soon as he saw the
advance of the Guards, anticipated the result, and moved other troops
(among the rest the 48th regiment) from the heights into the plain, to
cover the retreat, which took place as he expected.

St. XXVIII. l. last.--_Squanders himself away._

See the note in Stanza VII. l. 14.--Towards the close of the action, Sir
A. Wellesley was struck by two balls, (but without injury,) and two of
his aid-de-camps were wounded at his side. On this occasion his personal
exertions and peril seemed necessary to retrieve the victory.

St. XXIX. l. 2.--_A gallant legion._

The 48th regiment, by whose coolness and courage (and both were severely
tried) the Guards were enabled to form again. Col. Donellan was
unfortunately severely wounded at the head of this gallant corps. 1809.

This wound was mortal. This good and gallant man now ‘sleeps the slumber
of the brave.’ 1810.

St. XXX. l. 7.--_He vainly toils and dies._

I have lately observed that this line is almost literally borrowed from
a description of circumstances nearly similar in ‘Marmion.’

      ‘While yet on Flodden side,
    ‘Afar, the royal standard flies,
    ‘And round it toils, and bleeds, and dies,
      ‘Our Caledonian pride.’--_Cant._ IV. _St._ XXXIII.

I have so many other and greater obligations to the author of ‘Marmion,’
that I should hardly have thought it worth while to notice this
involuntary plagiarism, but that, by doing so, I obtain an opportunity
of publicly acknowledging these obligations, and of expressing my
humble, but most sincere admiration of the vigour, originality, and
splendour, which distinguish, from all the other works of our day, the
delightful poems of Mr. Scott.

I have just noticed also, that the second line of the XIXth Stanza is
copied verbatim from Marmion.

St. XXXI. l. 5.--_Desolating fires._

This circumstance is mentioned in private letters; but not that the
French set fire to the field _designedly_:--it would rather seem that
the accidental bursting of their shells in the dry grass occasioned this
conflagration, which ravaged a great extent of ground, and entirely
consumed many of the dead, and (horrid to relate!) some of the wounded.
This must have been a new and striking feature of war.

St. XXXIII. l. 14.--_France moves her busy bands._

Immediately after the repulse of their general attack, the French began
to retire; which they did in good order; and during the night effected
their retreat towards Santa Olalla, leaving in the hands of the British
20 pieces of cannon, ammunition, tumbrils, and prisoners.

St. XXXIII. l. 18.--_Windy car._

‘Ventoso gloria curru.’

St. XXXIII. l. 34.--_Glory of the day._

If, says an eloquent writer in the Quarterly Review, we cherished, in
_former_ circumstances of the war, a hope of the success of our efforts
for the assistance of Spain, and of her final deliverance, ‘We own we
cannot consent to abandon it _now_, when such a day as that of Talavera
has re-established, in its old and romantic proportion, the relative
scale of British and French prowess; when an achievement, the recital of
which is alone sufficient to shame despondency, and to give animation
to hope, has not only inspired us with fresh confidence in ourselves,
but, by infusing into our allies a portion of that confidence, has
furnished them with new means and new motives for exertion.’----

_Quarterly Review, No. III. p. 234._

St. XXXIV. l. 18.

    _For those that die_
      _In honour’s high career._

I lament exceedingly that my plan and limits did not permit me to pay to
those distinguished officers who fell in this action the tribute they
individually deserved--but it is to be hoped that the Country will show
its sense of their glorious services and fall by a public monument.


The author’s brother died a few months before the publication of this
poem, at the age of twenty-two; at the moment when he, who had ever been
a source of happiness to his family, was become its ornament and
support, and had just entered on public life, with (for a person of his
level) the fairest prospects, and under the happiest auspices.


_WAR SONG.--Page 61._

These stanzas were written and published at the breaking out of the
present war, when, it will be recollected, the enemy’s threats of
invasion were not altogether despised in this country. Some of my
readers will possibly observe, that the style and metre of this trifle
are not very dissimilar from those which have been more lately used by
some popular writers. I have therefore thought it necessary to state
that it was published early in 1803--but the truth is, that the practice
of breaking the regular eight syllable verse into distichs or ternaries,
by shorter lines, is very ancient in English poetry. The Chester
Mysteries, written in 1328, exhibit this metre in a tolerably perfect
state. After a long disuse, it is indebted for its revival and
popularity to the good taste and extraordinary talents of Mr. Scott; and
I cannot but think that it is, in his hands, one of the most harmonious
and delightful of our English measures: to my ear, indeed, the
versification of Marmion, in which Mr. Scott has used this style very
freely, is more agreeable than that of the Lady of the Lake, in which he
has employed it more sparingly. 1812.


St. III. l. 4.--_Aboukir’s Isle._

The western point of Aboukir Bay is formed by an island, now called in
our charts, Nelson’s Island.

On this island probably, and the adjoining peninsula, stood the ancient
Canopus, both being, to this day, covered with ruins, supposed to be
those of that celebrated city.

This, I am inclined to think, is the Canopic Island known to all
antiquity, and in later times called the Island Aboukir. (Eutychius,
Ann. 2. 508.) This would account for the testimony given by Pliny,
Strabo, &c. as to the insular situation of Canopus, and by Scylax, as to
an island in the Canopic mouth, without having recourse to the
supposition that the Isthmus, somewhere between Alexandria and Aboukir
castle, had been covered by the sea, which indeed seems rather to have
encroached upon, than receded from, that part of the coast.

St. III. l. 7.--_St. Vincent’s towery steep._

On the summit of St. Vincent’s, and close on the precipices which
overhang the sea, is a convent, which gives the name of its patron to
the Cape.


St. II. l. 3.--_Twenty hostile ensigns low._

Such was the statement of the London Gazette, of the 27th Nov. 1805;
but in a subsequent number this was noticed as an error, there being, in
fact, _but nineteen_ sail of the line taken or utterly destroyed. I have
been assured by a gentleman who was at that period in Germany, that this
instance of the scrupulous veracity of the British government produced
an effect little less favourable to the British character than the news
of the victory itself.

I hope, however, that I may be forgiven for adhering to the first
report, particularly as these lines were written on the day I first
heard of the battle, and before the corrected statement came to my

It was a striking proof of Lord Nelson’s almost miraculous sagacity,
that just at the commencement of the action, he expressed his opinion
that twenty sail of the enemy would be taken.

St. XVI.

    _Haul not your colour from on high,_
      _Nor down the flags of victory lower:--_
    _Give every streamer to the sky,_
      _Let all your conquering cannon roar._

‘If any flag-officer shall die in actual service, his flag shall be
lowered half-mast, and shall continue so till he is buried; and at his
funeral the commanding officer present shall direct such a number of
minute-guns, not exceeding twenty-five, as he may think proper, to be
fired by every ship.’

_Naval Instructions, chap. 2, sec. 26._

These lines were written before the intentions of government as to the
hero’s funeral were known, or probably had been fixed; but I could not
refrain from expressing my hope that the usual cold and penurious
ceremonies should not disgrace an occasion so infinitely removed from,
and above all precedent; or that the grief of the navy and the nation
should be directed by chapter and section, and attested by twenty-five
minute-guns, and _no more_! After all, the funeral did no great credit
to our national taste; and I could wish, that the only memorial of it
which remains, I mean the pitiful and trumpery car on which the body was
carried, were returned from the Painted Hall at Greenwich, which it
disgraces, to the repository of the undertaker who built it. Shabby and
tasteless as it originally was, it is now much worse; for whatever was
costly about it has been removed, (particularly the plumes,) and cheap
_second hand_ finery substituted instead. To this almost incredible
meanness is added that of shewing this wretched vamped-up vehicle to the
visitors at Greenwich at _threepence_ each!!!


Line 15.--_The world’s great victor._

It is perhaps scarcely necessary to say, that I here allude to the
famous visit of Alexander the Great to the tomb of Achilles.

Line 34.

    _Such let it be, as o’er the bed_
    _Of Nilus rears its lonely head._

The famous pillar, commonly called Pompey’s, but stated, with such
ostentation of accuracy by all the French sçavans, to have been erected
in honour of Septimius Severus. The ingenuity and industry, however, of
two British officers, Capt. Duncan, of the royal engineers, and Lieut.
De Sade, of the Queen’s German regiment, have recovered the inscription
on this celebrated column, which attests that it was erected and
dedicated to Diocletian by Pontius, prefect of Egypt.

Line 49.--_Thither shall youthful heroes climb._

This and some other passages, (in these songs of Trafalgar,) so much
resemble some thoughts in the vigorous and beautiful verses entitled,
‘Ulm and Trafalgar,’ that it is necessary for me to say that the former
were written and published in Ireland in Nov. 1805, and that it was not
until a very considerable time after, that I had the pleasure of reading
the latter, which were printed in London early, I believe, in 1806. I
should also add, that I think it highly improbable that my little
publication could have reached the author of ‘Ulm and Trafalgar,’ before
his poem appeared: so that whatever coincidence there may be is purely
accidental. I cannot but confess that I have thought much the better of
my own lines since I have discovered them to have any resemblance to
his, though I am aware that upon every body else a contrary effect will
be produced, and that nothing can be more unfavourable to me than any
thing like a comparison between us.


Line 11.

    _---- can thy scope_
    _Nothing but danger see?_

These verses were prompted by the indignation which I felt and feel at
the _unbritish_ language of those who tremble, or affect to tremble, for
the safety of England, who prophesy the subjugation of Spain, and
trumpet forth the invincibility of Bonaparte. It may be weakness, it may
be ignorance, which prompts such expressions;--it may be a sincere,
though shameful conviction of the vanity of opposing France;--but,
whatever be its source, such conduct appears to be a most potent
auxiliary to the common enemy of Europe, and very little short of
treason against the liberties of mankind. 1810.

Line 16.--_Saragossa._

The defence of this city, in 1809, by its gallant inhabitants, under
their heroic leader, Don Josef Palafox, is one of the most splendid and
extraordinary events of modern times; and if any one of my readers shall
not have seen the narrative of the siege published by Mr. Vaughan, I
cannot (though the subject is, in some degree, gone by) but recommend it
to his perusal, as a valuable record ‘of an event which teaches so
forcibly the resources of patriotism and courage;’ and of an example
which ought not to be lost to the world.

Line 17.--_Heroes and saints._

‘One character which developed itself during the siege of Zaragoza, must
not be overlooked in this narrative. In every part of the town where the
danger was most imminent, and the French the most numerous, was Padre
St. Jago Sass, curate of a parish of Zaragoza. As General Palafox made
his rounds through the city, he often beheld Sass alternately playing
the part of a priest and a soldier; sometimes administering the
sacrament to the dying, and at others fighting in the most determined
manner against the enemies of his country: from his energy of character
and uncommon bravery, the Commander in Chief reposed the utmost
confidence in him during the siege; wherever any thing difficult or
hazardous was to be done, Sass was selected for its execution; and the
introduction of a supply of powder, so essentially necessary to the
defence of the town, was effected in the most complete manner by this
clergyman, at the head of forty of the bravest men in Zaragoza. He was
found so serviceable in inspiring the people with religious sentiments,
and in leading them on to danger, that the general has placed him in a
situation where both his piety and courage may continue to be as useful
as before; and he is now both captain in the army, and chaplain to the
Commander in Chief.’

_Vaughan’s Narrative._


T. DAVISON, Lombard-street,
Whitefriars, London.










    _Though Valois braved young Edward’s gentle hand,_
    _And Albret rush’d on Henry’s way-worn band,_
    _With Europe’s chosen sons in arms renown’d,_
    _Yet not on Vere’s bold archers long they look’d,_
    _Nor Audley’s squires nor Mowbray’s yeomen brook’d,--_
    _They saw their standard fall, and left their monarch bound._



_Printed by James Ballantyne & Co._




_It may be some apology for the imperfections of this Poem, that it was
composed hastily, during a short tour upon the continent, when the
Author’s labours were liable to frequent interruption. But its best
vindication is, that it was written for the purpose of assisting the
Waterloo Subscription._



    Fair Brussels, thou art far behind,
    Though, lingering on the morning wind,
        We yet may hear the hour
    Peal’d over orchard and canal,
    With voice prolong’d and measured fall,
        From proud Saint Michael’s tower.
    Thy wood, dark Soignies, holds us now,
    Where the tall beeches’ glossy bough
        For many a league around,
    With birch and darksome oak between,
    Spreads deep and far a pathless screen,
        Of tangled forest ground.
    Stems planted close by stems defy
    The adventurous foot--the curious eye
        For access seeks in vain;
    And the brown tapestry of leaves,
    Strew’d on the blighted ground, receives
        Nor sun, nor air, nor rain.
    No opening glade dawns on our way,
    No streamlet, glancing to the ray,
        Our woodland path has cross’d;
    And the straight causeway which we tread,
    Prolongs a line of dull arcade,
    Unvarying through the unvaried shade
        Until in distance lost.


    A brighter, livelier scene succeeds;
    In groupes the scattering wood recedes,
    Hedge-rows, and huts, and sunny meads,
        And corn-fields glance between;
    The peasant, at his labour blithe,
    Plies the hook’d staff and shorten’d scythe:--
        But when these ears were green,
    Placed close within destruction’s scope,
    Full little was that rustic’s hope
        Their ripening to have seen!
    And, lo, a hamlet and its fane:--
    Let not the gazer with disdain
        Their architecture view;
    For yonder rude ungraceful shrine,
    And disproportion’d spire, are thine,
        Immortal WATERLOO!


    Fear not the heat, though full and high
    The sun has scorch’d the autumn sky,
    And scarce a forest straggler now
    To shade us spreads a greenwood bough
    These fields have seen a hotter day
    Than e’er was fired by sunny ray.
    Yet one mile on--yon shatter’d hedge
    Crests the soft hill whose long smooth ridge
        Looks on the field below,
    And sinks so gently on the dale,
    That not the folds of Beauty’s veil
        In easier curves can flow.
    Brief space from thence, the ground again
    Ascending slowly from the plain,
        Forms an opposing screen,
    Which, with its crest of upland ground,
    Shuts the horizon all around.
        The soften’d vale between
    Slopes smooth and fair for courser’s tread;
    Not the most timid maid need dread
    To give her snow-white palfrey head
        On that wide stubble-ground;
    Nor wood, nor tree, nor bush are there,
    Her course to intercept or scare,
        Nor fosse nor fence are found,
    Save where, from out her shatter’d bowers,
    Rise Hougoumont’s dismantled towers.


    Now, see’st thou aught in this lone scene
    Can tell of that which late hath been?--
        A stranger might reply,
    “The bare extent of stubble-plain
    Seems lately lighten’d of its grain;
    And yonder sable tracks remain
    Marks of the peasant’s ponderous wain,
        When harvest-home was nigh.
    On these broad spots of trampled ground,
    Perchance the rustics danced such round
        As Teniers loved to draw;
    And where the earth seems scorch’d by flame,
    To dress the homely feast they came,
    And toil’d the kerchief’d village dame
        Around her fire of straw.”--


    So deem’st thou--so each mortal deems,
    Of that which is from that which seems:--
        But other harvest here
    Than that which peasant’s scythe demands,
    Was gather’d in by sterner hands,
        With bayonet, blade, and spear.
    No vulgar crop was theirs to reap,
    No stinted harvest thin and cheap!
    Heroes before each fatal sweep
        Fell thick as ripen’d grain;
    And ere the darkening of the day,
    Piled high as autumn shocks, there lay
    The ghastly harvest of the fray,
        The corpses of the slain.


    Aye, look again--that line so black
    And trampled, marks the bivouack,
    Yon deep-graved ruts the artillery’s track,
        So often lost and won
    And close beside, the harden’d mud
    Still shows where, fetlock-deep in blood,
    The fierce dragoon, through battle’s flood,
        Dash’d the hot war-horse on.
    These spots of excavation tell
    The ravage of the bursting shell--
    And feel’st thou not the tainted steam,
    That reeks against the sultry beam,
        From yonder trenched mound?
    The pestilential fumes declare
    That Carnage has replenish’d there
        Her garner-house profound.


    Far other harvest-home and feast,
    Than claims the boor from scythe released,
        On these scorch’d fields were known!
    Death hover’d o’er the maddening rout,
    And, in the thrilling battle-shout,
    Sent for the bloody banquet out
        A summons of his own.
    Through rolling smoke the Demon’s eye
    Could well each destined guest espy,
    Well could his ear in ecstacy
        Distinguish every tone
    That fill’d the chorus of the fray--
    From cannon-roar and trumpet-bray,
    From charging squadrons’ wild hurra,
    From the wild clang that mark’d their way,--
        Down to the dying groan,
    And the last sob of life’s decay
        When breath was all but flown.


    Feast on, stern foe of mortal life,
    Feast on!--but think not that a strife,
    With such promiscuous carnage rife,
        Protracted space may last;
    The deadly tug of war at length
    Must limits find in human strength,
        And cease when these are pass’d.
    Vain hope!--that morn’s o’erclouded sun
    Heard the wild shout of fight begun
        Ere he attain’d his height,
    And through the war-smoke volumed high,
    Still peals that unremitted cry,
        Though now he stoops to night.
    For ten long hours of doubt and dread,
    Fresh succours from the extended head
    Of either hill the contest fed;
        Still down the slope they drew,
    The charge of columns paused not,
    Nor ceased the storm of shell and shot;
        For all that war could do
    Of skill and force was proved that day,
    And turn’d not yet the doubtful fray
        On bloody Waterloo.


    Pale Brussels! then what thoughts were thine,
    When ceaseless from the distant line
        Continued thunders came!
    Each burgher held his breath, to hear
    These forerunners of havock near,
        Of rapine and of flame.
    What ghastly sights were thine to meet,
    When, rolling through thy stately street,
    The wounded shew’d their mangled plight
    In token of the unfinish’d fight,
    And from each anguish-laden wain
    The blood-drops laid thy dust like rain!
    How often in the distant drum
    Heard’st thou the fell Invader come,
    While Ruin, shouting to his band,
    Shook high her torch and gory brand!--
    Cheer thee, fair City! From yon stand,
    Impatient, still his outstretch’d hand
        Points to his prey in vain,
    While maddening in his eager mood,
    And all unwont to be withstood,
        He fires the fight again.


    “On! On!” was still his stern exclaim;
    “Confront the battery’s jaws of flame!
        “Rush on the levell’d gun!
    “My steel-clad cuirassiers, advance!
    “Each Hulan forward with his lance,
    “My Guard--my chosen--charge for France,
        “France and Napoleon!”
    Loud answer’d their acclaiming shout,
    Greeting the mandate which sent out
    Their bravest and their best to dare
    The fate their leader shunn’d to share.
    But He, his country’s sword and shield,
    Still in the battle-front reveal’d,
    Where danger fiercest swept the field,
        Came like a beam of light,
    In action prompt, in sentence brief--
    “Soldiers, stand firm,” exclaim’d the Chief,
        “England shall tell the fight!”


    On came the whirlwind--like the last
    But fiercest sweep of tempest blast--
    On came the whirlwind--steel-gleams broke
    Like lightning through the rolling smoke,
        The war was waked anew,
    Three hundred cannon-mouths roar’d loud,
    And from their throats, with flash and cloud,
        Their showers of iron threw.
    Beneath their fire, in full career,
    Rush’d on the ponderous cuirassier,
    The lancer couch’d his ruthless spear,
    And hurrying as to havock near,
        The Cohorts’ eagles flew.
    In one dark torrent broad and strong,
    The advancing onset roll’d along,
    Forth harbinger’d by fierce acclaim,
    That, from the shroud of smoke and flame,
    Peal’d wildly the imperial name.


    But on the British heart were lost
    The terrors of the charging host;
    For not an eye the storm that view’d
    Changed its proud glance of fortitude,
    Nor was one forward footstep staid,
    As dropp’d the dying and the dead.
    Fast as their ranks the thunders tear,
    Fast they renew’d each serried square;
    And on the wounded and the slain
    Closed their diminish’d files again,
    Till from their line scarce spears’ lengths three,
    Emerging from the smoke they see
    Helmet and plume and panoply,--
        Then waked their fire at once!
    Each musketeer’s revolving knell,
    As fast, as regularly fell,
    As when they practise to display
    Their discipline on festal day.
        Then down went helm and lance,
    Down were the eagle banners sent,
    Down reeling steeds and riders went,
    Corslets were pierced, and pennons rent;
        And to augment the fray,
    Wheel’d full against their staggering flanks,
    The English horsemen’s foaming ranks
        Forced their resistless way.
    Then to the musket-knell succeeds
    The clash of swords--the neigh of steeds--
    As plies the smith his clanging trade,
    Against the cuirass rang the blade;
    And while amid their close array
    The well-served cannon rent their way,
    And while amid their scatter’d band
    Raged the fierce rider’s bloody brand,
    Recoil’d in common rout and fear,
    Lancer and guard and cuirassier,
    Horsemen and foot,--a mingled host,
    Their leaders fallen, their standards lost.


    Then, WELLINGTON! thy piercing eye
    This crisis caught of destiny--
        The British host had stood
    That morn ’gainst charge of sword and lance
    As their own ocean-rocks hold stance,
    But when thy voice had said, “Advance!”
        They were their ocean’s flood.--
    O Thou, whose inauspicious aim
    Hath wrought thy host this hour of shame,
    Think’st thou thy broken bands will bide
    The terrors of yon rushing tide?
    Or will thy Chosen brook to feel
    The British shock of levell’d steel?
        Or dost thou turn thine eye
    Where coming squadrons gleam afar,
    And fresher thunders wake the war,
        And other standards fly?--
    Think not that in yon columns, file
    Thy conquering troops from distant Dyle--
        Is Blucher yet unknown?
    Or dwells not in thy memory still,
    (Heard frequent in thine hour of ill)
    What notes of hate and vengeance thrill
        In Prussia’s trumpet tone?--
    What yet remains?--shall it be thine
    To head the reliques of thy line
        In one dread effort more?--
    The Roman lore thy leisure loved,
    And thou can’st tell what fortune proved
        That Chieftain, who, of yore,
    Ambition’s dizzy paths essay’d,
    And with the gladiators’ aid
        For empire enterprized--
    He stood the cast his rashness play’d,
    Left not the victims he had made,
    Dug his red grave with his own blade,
    And on the field he lost was laid,
        Abhorr’d--but not despised.


    But if revolves thy fainter thought
    On safety--howsoever bought,
    Then turn thy fearful rein and ride,
    Though twice ten thousand men have died
        On this eventful day,
    To gild the military fame
    Which thou, for life, in traffic tame
        Wilt barter thus away.
    Shall future ages tell this tale
    Of inconsistence faint and frail?
    And art thou He of Lodi’s bridge,
    Marengo’s field, and Wagram’s ridge!
        Or is thy soul like mountain-tide,
    That, swell’d by winter storm and shower,
    Rolls down in turbulence of power
        A torrent fierce and wide;
    ’Reft of these aids, a rill obscure,
    Shrinking unnoticed, mean, and poor,
        Whose channel shows display’d
    The wrecks of its impetuous course,
    But not one symptom of the force
        By which these wrecks were made!


    Spur on thy way!--since now thine ear
    Has brook’d thy veterans’ wish to hear,
        Who, as thy flight they eyed,
    Exclaimed,--while tears of anguish came,
    Wrung forth by pride and rage and shame,--
        “Oh that he had but died!”
    But yet, to sum this hour of ill,
    Look, ere thou leav’st the fatal hill,
        Back on yon broken ranks--
    Upon whose wild confusion gleams
    The moon, as on the troubled streams
        When rivers break their banks,
    And, to the ruin’d peasant’s eye,
    Objects half seen roll swiftly by,
        Down the dread current hurl’d--
    So mingle banner, wain, and gun,
    Where the tumultuous flight rolls on
    Of warriors, who, when morn begun,
        Defied a banded world.


    List--frequent to the hurrying rout,
    The stern pursuers’ vengeful shout
    Tells, that upon their broken rear
    Rages the Prussian’s bloody spear.
        So fell a shriek was none,
    When Beresina’s icy flood
    Redden’d and thaw’d with flame and blood,
    And, pressing on thy desperate way,
    Raised oft and long their wild hurra,
        The children of the Don.
    Thine ear no yell of horror cleft
    So ominous, when, all bereft
    Of aid, the valiant Polack left--
    Aye, left by thee--found soldier’s grave
    In Leipsic’s corpse-encumber’d wave.
    Fate, in these various perils past,
    Reserved thee still some future cast:--
    On the dread die thou now hast thrown,
    Hangs not a single field alone,
    Nor one campaign--thy martial fame,
    Thy empire, dynasty, and name,
        Have felt the final stroke;
    And now, o’er thy devoted head
    The last stern vial’s wrath is shed,
        The last dread seal is broke.


    Since live thou wilt--refuse not now
    Before these demagogues to bow,
    Late objects of thy scorn and hate,
    Who shall thy once imperial fate
    Make wordy theme of vain debate.--
    Or shall we say, thou stoop’st less low
    In seeking refuge from the foe,
    Against whose heart, in prosperous life,
    Thine hand hath ever held the knife?--
        Such homage hath been paid
    By Roman and by Grecian voice,
    And there were honour in the choice,
        If it were freely made.
    Then safely come--in one so low,--
    So lost,--we cannot own a foe;
    Though dear experience bid us end,
    In thee we ne’er can hail a friend.--
    Come, howsoe’er--but do not hide
    Close in thy heart that germ of pride,
    Erewhile by gifted bard espied,
        That “yet imperial hope;”
    Think not that for a fresh rebound,
    To raise ambition from the ground,
        We yield thee means or scope.
    In safety come--but ne’er again
    Hold type of independent reign;
        No islet calls thee lord,
    We leave thee no confederate band,
    No symbol of thy lost command,
    To be a dagger in the hand
        From which we wrench’d the sword.


    Yet, even in yon sequester’d spot,
    May worthier conquest be thy lot
        Than yet thy life has known;
    Conquest, unbought by blood or harm,
    That needs nor foreign aid nor arm,
        A triumph all thine own.
    Such waits thee when thou shalt controul
    Those passions wild, that stubborn soul,
        That marr’d thy prosperous scene:--
    Hear this--from no unmoved heart,
    Which sighs, comparing what THOU ART
        With what thou MIGHT’ST HAVE BEEN!


    Thou, too, whose deeds of fame renew’d
    Bankrupt a nation’s gratitude,
    To thine own noble heart must owe
    More than the meed she can bestow.
    For not a people’s just acclaim,
    Not the full hail of Europe’s fame,
    Thy prince’s smiles, thy state’s decree,
    The ducal rank, the garter’d knee,
    Not these such pure delight afford
    As that, when, hanging up thy sword,
    Well may’st thou think, “This honest steel
    Was ever drawn for public weal;
    And, such was rightful Heaven’s decree,
    Ne’er sheathed unless with victory!”


    Look forth, once more, with soften’d heart,
    Ere from the field of fame we part;
    Triumph and Sorrow border near,
    And joy oft melts into a tear.
    Alas! what links of love that morn
    Has War’s rude hand asunder torn!
    For ne’er was field so sternly fought,
    And ne’er was conquest dearer bought.
    Here piled in common slaughter sleep
    Those whom affection long shall weep;
    Here rests the sire, that ne’er shall strain
    His orphans to his heart again;
    The son, whom, on his native shore,
    The parent’s voice shall bless no more;
    The bridegroom, who has hardly press’d
    His blushing consort to his breast;
    The husband, whom through many a year
    Long love and mutual faith endear.
    Thou can’st not name one tender tie
    But here dissolved its reliques lie!
    O when thou see’st some mourner’s veil,
    Shroud her thin form and visage pale,
    Or mark’st the Matron’s bursting tears
    Stream when the stricken drum she hears;
    Or see’st how manlier grief, suppress’d,
    Is labouring in a father’s breast,--
    With no enquiry vain pursue
    The cause, but think on Waterloo!


    Period of honour as of woes,
    What bright careers ’twas thine to close!--
    Mark’d on thy roll of blood what names
    To Britain’s memory, and to Fame’s,
    Laid there their last immortal claims!
    Thou saw’st in seas of gore expire
    Redoubted PICTON’S soul of fire--
    Saw’st in the mingled carnage lie
    All that of PONSONBY could die--
    DE LANCY change Love’s bridal-wreath,
    For laurels from the hand of Death--
    Saw’st gallant MILLER’S failing eye
    Still bent where Albion’s banners fly,
    And CAMERON, in the shock of steel,
    Die like the offspring of Lochiel;
    And generous GORDON, ’mid the strife,
    Fall while he watch’d his leader’s life.--
    Ah! though her guardian angel’s shield
    Fenced Britain’s hero through the field,
    Fate not the less her power made known,
    Through his friends’ hearts to pierce his own!


    Forgive, brave Dead, the imperfect lay!
    Who may your names, your numbers, say?
    What high-strung harp, what lofty line,
    To each the dear-earn’d praise assign,
    From high-born chiefs of martial fame
    To the poor soldier’s lowlier name?
    Lightly ye rose that dawning day,
    From your cold couch of swamp and clay,
    To fill, before the sun was low,
    The bed that morning cannot know.--
    Oft may the tear the green sod steep,
    And sacred be the heroes’ sleep,
        Till Time shall cease to run
    And ne’er beside their noble grave,
    May Briton pass and fail to crave
    A blessing on the fallen brave
        Who fought with Wellington!


    Farewell, sad Field! whose blighted face
    Wears desolation’s withering trace;
    Long shall my memory retain
    Thy shatter’d huts and trampled grain,
    With every mark of martial wrong,
    That scathe thy towers, fair Hougomont!
    Yet though thy garden’s green arcade
    The marksman’s fatal post was made,
    Though on thy shatter’d beeches fell
    The blended rage of shot and shell,
    Though from thy blacken’d portals torn
    Their fall thy blighted fruit-trees mourn,
    Has not such havock bought a name
    Immortal in the rolls of fame?
    Yes--Agincourt may be forgot,
    And Cressy be an unknown spot,
        And Blenheim’s name be new;
    But still in story and in song,
    For many an age remember’d long,
    Shall live the towers of Hougomont,
        And fields of Waterloo.


      Stern tide of human Time! that know’st not rest,
        But, sweeping from the cradle to the tomb,
      Bear’st ever downward on thy dusky breast
        Successive generations to their doom;
      While thy capacious stream has equal room
        For the gay bark where Pleasure’s streamers sport,
      And for the prison-ship of guilt and gloom,
        The fisher-skiff, and barge that bears a court,
    Still wafting onward all to one dark silent port.

      Stern tide of Time! through what mysterious change
        Of hope and fear have our frail barks been driven!
      For ne’er, before, vicissitude so strange
        Was to one race of Adam’s offspring given.
      And sure such varied change of sea and heaven,
        Such unexpected bursts of joy and woe,
      Such fearful strife as that where we have striven,
        Succeeding ages ne’er again shall know,
    Until the awful term when Thou shalt cease to flow.

      Well hast thou stood, my Country!--the brave fight
        Hast well maintain’d through good report and ill;
      In thy just cause and in thy native might,
        And in Heaven’s grace and justice constant still.
      Whether the banded prowess, strength, and skill
        Of half the world against thee stood array’d,
      Or when, with better views and freer will,
        Beside thee Europe’s noblest drew the blade,
    Each emulous in arms the Ocean Queen to aid.

      Well art thou now repaid--though slowly rose,
        And struggled long with mists thy blaze of fame,
      While like the dawn that in the orient glows
        On the broad wave its earlier lustre came;
      Then eastern Egypt saw the growing flame,
        And Maida’s myrtles gleam’d beneath its ray,
      Where first the soldier, stung with generous shame,
        Rivall’d the heroes of the wat’ry way,
    And wash’d in foemen’s gore unjust reproach away.

      Now, Island Empress, wave thy crest on high,
        And bid the banner of thy Patron flow,
      Gallant Saint George, the flower of Chivalry!
        For thou hast faced, like him, a dragon foe,
      And rescued innocence from overthrow,
        And trampled down, like him, tyrannic might,
      And to the gazing world may’st proudly show
        The chosen emblem of thy sainted Knight,
    Who quell’d devouring pride, and vindicated right.
      Yet ’mid the confidence of just renown,
        Renown dear-bought, but dearest thus acquired,
      Write, Britain, write the moral lesson down:
        ’Tis not alone the heart with valour fired,
      The discipline so dreaded and admired,
        In many a field of bloody conquest known;
    --Such may by fame be lured, by gold be hired--
        ’Tis constancy in the good cause alone,
    Best justifies the meed thy valiant sons have won.


Note I.

    _The peasant, at his labour blithe,_
    _Plies the hook’d staff and shorten’d scythe._--P. 195.

The reaper in Flanders carries in his left hand a stick with an iron
hook, with which he collects as much grain as he can cut at one sweep
with a short scythe, which he holds in his right hand. They carry on
this double process with great spirit and dexterity.

Note II.

_Pale Brussels! then what thoughts were thine._--P. 203.

It was affirmed by the prisoners of war, that Buonaparte had promised
his army, in case of victory, twenty-four hours plunder of the city of

Note III.

    “_Confront the battery’s jaws of flame!_
          “_Rush on the levell’d gun!_”--P. 204.

The characteristic obstinacy of Napoleon was never more fully displayed
than in what we may be permitted to hope will prove the last of his
fields. He would listen to no advice, and allow of no obstacles. An
eye-witness has given the following account of his demeanour towards the
end of the action:--

“It was near seven o’clock; Buonaparte, who, till then, had remained
upon the ridge of the hill whence he could best behold what passed,
contemplated, with a stern countenance, the scene of this horrible
slaughter. The more that obstacles seemed to multiply, the more his
obstinacy seemed to increase. He became indignant at these unforeseen
difficulties; and, far from fearing to push to extremities an army whose
confidence in him was boundless, he ceased not to pour down fresh
troops, and to give orders to march forward--to charge with the
bayonet--to carry by storm. He was repeatedly informed, from different
points, that the day went against him, and that the troops seemed to be
disordered; to which he only replied,--‘_En avant! en avant!_’

“One general sent to inform the Emperor that he was in a position which
he could not maintain, because it was commanded by a battery, and
requested to know, at the same time, in what way he should protect his
division from the murderous fire of the English artillery. ‘Let him
storm the battery,’ replied Buonaparte, and turned his back on the
aid-de-camp who brought the message.”--_Relation de la Bataille de
Mont-Saint-Jean. Par un Temoin Occulaire._ Paris, 1815, 8vo. p. 51.

Note IV.

_The fate their leader shunn’d to share._--P. 205.

It has been reported that Buonaparte charged at the head of his guards
at the last period of this dreadful conflict. This, however, is not
accurate. He came down, indeed, to a hollow part of the high road
leading to Charleroi, within less than a quarter of a mile of the farm
of La Haye Sainte, one of the points most fiercely disputed. Here he
harangued the guards, and informed them that his preceding operations
had destroyed the British infantry and cavalry, and that they had only
to support the fire of the artillery, which they were to attack with the
bayonet. This exhortation was received with shouts of _Vive l’Empereur_,
which were heard over all our line, and led to an idea that Napoleon was
charging in person. But the guards were led on by Ney; nor did
Buonaparte approach nearer the scene of action than the spot already
mentioned, which the rising banks on each side rendered secure from all
such balls as did not come in a straight line. He witnessed the earlier
part of the battle from places yet more remote, particularly from an
observatory which had been placed there by the king of the Netherlands,
some weeks before, for the purpose of surveying the country.[3] It is
not meant to infer from these particulars that Napoleon shewed, on that
memorable occasion, the least deficiency in personal courage; on the
contrary, he evinced the greatest composure and presence of mind during
the whole action. But it is no less true that report has erred in
ascribing to him any desperate efforts of valour for recovery of the
battle; and it is remarkable, that during the whole carnage, none of his
suite were either killed or wounded, whereas scarcely one of the Duke of
Wellington’s personal attendants escaped unhurt.

Note V.

_England shall tell the fight._--P. 205.

In riding up to a regiment which was hard pressed, the Duke called to
the men, “Soldiers, we must never be beat,--what will they say in
England?” It is needless to say how this appeal was answered.

Note VI.

    _As plies the smith his clanging trade,_
    _Against the cuirass rang the blade._--P. 208.

A private soldier of the 95th regiment compared the sound which took
place immediately upon the British cavalry mingling with those of the
enemy, to “_a thousand tinkers at work mending pots and kettles_.”

Note VII.

    _Or will thy Chosen brook to feel_
    _The British shock of levell’d steel._--P. 210.

No persuasion or authority could prevail upon the French troops to stand
the shock of the bayonet. The imperial guards, in particular, hardly
stood till the British were within thirty yards of them, although the
French author, already quoted, has put into their mouths the magnanimous
sentiment, “The guards never yield--they die.” The same author has
covered the plateau, or eminence, of St Jean, which formed the British
position, with redoubts and entrenchments which never had an existence.
As the narrative, which is in many respects curious, was written by an
eye-witness, he was probably deceived by the appearance of a road and
ditch which runs along part of the hill. It may be also mentioned, in
criticising this work, that the writer states the Chateau of Hougomont
to have been carried by the French, although it was resolutely and
successfully defended during the whole action. The enemy, indeed,
possessed themselves of the wood by which it is surrounded, and at
length set fire to the house itself; but the British (a detachment of
the Guards, under the command of Colonel Macdonnell, and afterwards of
Colonel Home,) made good the garden, and thus preserved, by their
desperate resistance, the post which covered the return of the Duke of
Wellington’s right flank.






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     Hope. 3 vols. crown 8vo.

            *       *       *       *       *

     JONAH, a Poem. By the Rev. E. SMEDLEY. 8vo.

     EURIPIDIS ALCESTIS. Ad fidem Manuscriptorum et Veterum, Editionum
     emendavit, Notis et Glossario instruxit JACOBUS HENRICUS MONK, A.
     M. Collegii S. S. Trinitatis Socius, et Græcarum Literarum apud
     Cantabragienses Professor Regius. 8vo.

            *       *       *       *       *

     JOSEPH SPENCE. Arranged with Notes, a preparatory Dissertation, and
     Illustrations. Handsomely printed by _Bulmer_, in 8vo.

            *       *       *       *       *

     A NARRATIVE of the EVENTS which have lately taken place in FRANCE.
     With an Account of the present State of Society and Public Opinion.

            *       *       *       *       *

     COLLECTIONS relative to SYSTEMATIC RELIEF of the POOR, at different
     Periods, and in different Countries, with Observations on
     Charity,--its proper Objects and Conduct, and its Influence on the
     Welfare of Nations. 8vo.


[1] Laborde’s View of Spain.

[2] Papers presented to Parliament, 1810, p. 545.

[3] The mistakes concerning this observatory have been mutual. The
English supposed it was erected for the use of Buonaparte; and a French
writer affirms it was constructed by the Duke of Wellington.

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