Page images

Monsieur de Rosen has dispensed with all the troublesome laws of honour, good faith, and humanity ; and we need not stick at a trifle in the articles of war.”

The Frenchman peremptorily ordered his men to advance upon Connellan ; the others as promptly joined in defending him. A desperate scuffle took place; pistols were discharged; while Magrath and others shouted from the walls their loud encouragement to the Irish party. It was a short interval of unspeakable horror to the husband, who beheld this sanguinary struggle around and over the death-bed of his beloved partner; and scarcely could Bryan withold him from leaping down to certain destruction. But the fray was ended, the Frenchmen retreated, leaving one of their number bleeding on the ground, and as the combatants separated, the Irish officer gently raised the lifeless object of their compassion, saying, “ She's gone, indeed: a bullet has passed through her brain."

The fact was evident; and Morrison, bowing his head upon the wall, exclaimed, in a smothered tone, “Even so; and there is mercy in it. Lord, teach my soul to praise thee.”

Late as was the hour, there was little appearance of repose within the walls of Derry: on the contrary, there seemed a greater stir than by day; a temporary respite from bombardment, combined with the freshness of the night breeze that swept over Loch Foyle, having tempted many to leave the covert into which they had been driven during the glare of a sultry sun, rendered doubly oppressive by the perpetual explosion of gunpowder in every street. Of the better sort, many felt an insuperable reluctance to expose the squalid wretchedness of their unwashed garments and blackened visages, even to the gaze of partners in affliction; and among all classes there were mourners whose very heart-strings had been rent, while the objects of their tenderest love perished miserably before their eyes, and to whom the darkness seemed more congenial than the day. To this may be added the appalling fact, that their principal support now consisted of such animals as might be discovered prowling about the haunts of famine, under the cover of night; and these were sold at a high price by those whose love of money overcame the cravings of hunger, or who had a surplus, after deadening that craving by a scanty meal on such loathsome fare as they had seized. Dogs were turned out in the evening, to prey upon the unburied bodies of those who had been slain without the walls ; and on their return were slaughtered to furnish a meal for the family, at whose hands they had once been plentifully fed. To such extremity had the garrison been reduced before the end of July, that a single quarter of one of these dogs was priced at five shillings and sixpence, the then currency, and his head at half that sum. Even a cat was gladly purchased whenever it could be found, for four shillings and sixpence; and animals yet more disgusting to the human palate, in proportion.

Such being the condition of the beleagured fortress, the imagination may perhaps sketch an outline-it cannot by any possibility fill up the picture -of what was passing under the midnight sky of Derry. One object appeared to possess attraction, even for the most reckless wanderer ; and that was the double beacon, which sent its red columns on high, from the cathedral roof. It was the appointed signal, communicating to the tardy fleet the desperation of that distress which they alone could relieve : and to the hollow eyes upturned towards the glare, it presented a sort of link between them and the objects of that oft-defeated hope which they could not relinquish. It was piteous to see the wistful countenances with which many would pause, to gaze upon this unconscious messenger of their grief; as though by so doing, they could communicate to it an additional power of expressing what they longed to send to the eye and the heart of the unfeeling Kirke. Seen under its ruddy blaze, the broken windows of the cathedral, the shattered walls and dismantled buildings around it, roofs ploughed up by innumerable bombs, and wood-work blackened by the frequent ignition that had marked the pr hot cannon balls - all these things united to produce such a spectacle of wretchedness, as the mind will

ress of red

shrink from dwelling upon. Yet, happy had it been for poor Ireland, could that scene have lived indeli. bly engraven on the memory of her Protestant race, as an abiding stimulus to incessant exertion in the peaceful and holy warfare, whereby alone the souls of their deluded countrymen can be rescued from the usurping powers of darkness and cruelty !

There was, indeed, much to occasion the most serious misgivings in the minds of those who knew the actual state to which the stores of the city were reduced : what this was might be pretty well guessed by the inbabitants, when, on the ninth of July, it was announced that the garrison allowance to be served out for that day's subsistence, was, to each man, a pound of tallow. This was the soldier's fare; the miserable citizens had no such regular supply whereon to depend; and they were to be seen in every corner, raking among the rubbish with which the bombs had overspread their little gardens, their bony fingers eagerly grasping every decayed leaf of even the most common weeds ; while many strolled out, in the carelessness of desperation, beyond the gates, to collect whatever the waters of Lough Foyle might have cast upon the beach, devouring the seaweed as a dainty, though its only effect was to render more intolerable the burning thirst, to slake which, few could obtain a cnp of cold water ; so high was the price set upon the refreshing beverage, by those who must place their lives in imminent hazard to

procure it. When, therefore, on the following day, bombs were thrown into the town, containing, in lieu of gunpowder, the most inviting proffers from General Hamilton, to such as should be willing to surrender the fortress, it became a matter of most anxious calculation how far the leaders could depend on those placed under their command. It was with a beating heart that Bryan M‘Alister communicated to his friend Ross, the morning after this discovery, that a parley had been agreed upon, and that a council was about to be held for the discussion of that subject, replete with awful interest to them all—the surrender of the city.

“ Surrender!” exclaimed Ross, starting from his chair, never, M‘Alister, never !”

“ It must not be,” said the lady ; we may not deliver up our strong hold; we may not renounce our trust : we must not make ourselves a scorn, and our hope a derision to those who have hitherto been defied in the name of the Lord of Hosts."

“What excuse upon earth have they found for such a project ?” asked Ross.

6. The dreadful strait to which we are reduced in point of provision; the rapid decrease of the garrison by death and overpowering disease; the disappearance of the ships, which drop away from their distant station, becoming invisible to our best glas


Morrison, who had entered as Ross put his ques


« PreviousContinue »