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repeatedly, distinguished himself, and never having heard him express himself in such terms before, Captain Swas lost in astonishment, and his first impression was, that his poor friend was suffering from the delirium of fever. He, therefore, proceeded to l'emonstrate with him, and to endeavour, if possible, to rally him out of that desponding presentiment, which appeared to affect him so seriously. MD_heard him calmly, and, without taking any notice of what he said, repeated his request in so cool and collected a manner, as to leave no doubt that he was in the full and perfect possession of his faculties. Captain S, therefore, readily promised to comply with his wishes, should he himself survive; they then separated, and each went to his post.
On the following day, after the tumult and mélée of the battle had subsided, the British being, as usual, victorious, a number of the officers met to congratulate one another on their safety. When Captain S—joined the party, he immediately inquired after his friend M‘D but none of the survivors had seen him, or knew any thing of his fate. The conversation of the preceding day now rushed upon his mind, and, without saying a word, he instantly returned to the field to search for him
the wounded the dead—and the dying. Nor did he search in vain. He found him already stripped of part of his regimentals; but he knew him at once, his head and face being unharmed. Captain S- became deeply affected, and could not help shedding tears over the lifeless body of the brave and gallant youth, fore-doomed to so premature a fate.
The same thing happened in the case of Serjeant Macdonald, from Lochabar, as brave a fellow as ever drew sword, or carried a halbert, and who had been in ten or twelve general engagements, in each of which he had distinguished himself. On one occasion, however, he was so overwhelmed with this presentiment of death, that, on the day of battle, when his regiment was ordered to advance, his limbs refused their office, and his comrades had literally to support, and assist the man, to whom they had been accustomed to look up as an example and model of a brave 'soldier The battle had not lasted half an hour, before he was shot through the head.
A private of the name of Mackay, a man of the most reckless and dare-devil character, used to be the delight of the bivouacs of the 43rd, during the Peninsular war. He had a great deal of that coarse, but effective, wit and drollery, which never fails to excite laughter; he abounded in anecdotes and stories, which he told with a remarkable degree of naïveté and humour; and often did he beguile the watches of the night, as poor Alan did with Mungo Park, by singing the songs of his dear native land. The instant Mackay appeared, hunger, thirst, and fatigue were forgotten; the soldiers clustered round him, and seating themselves by the watchfire, thought only of listening to the joke, the tale, or the song. Even some of the officers did not disdain to mingle in their parties,
and to acknowledge the rough, but powerful fascination which hung on the lips of this unlettered soldier. Nor were his humonr, mirth, and song, confined to the march and camp; in the thickest of the enemy's fire he was as merry and as vivacious as in the bivouac!
Never," said the officer who communicated to me, these particulars, “shall I forget the impression made upon my mind by hearing Mackay's full and deep-toned voice pealing forth ‘Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, under the destructive diagonal fire from the enemy's artillery on the heights above the village of St. Boes. A soldier only knows the thrilling effect of such an incident at such a moment.
Yet this singular man was seized with one of those “ Fatal Presentiments” of which I have been speaking.-On the eve of the battle of Toulouse, he suddenly became thoughtful and silent.
His previous character rendered this alteration more apparent, and his comrades eagerly crowded round him to inquire the reason, being at first inclined to jibe him with what they called his " Methodist face;" but, on observing his dejected look, the wild and unearthly expression of his eye, and the determined obstinacy with which he resisted all solicitations to join their party as usual, they stared at each other with astonishment, and ceased to annoy him.
It was his turn to go on duty at the outposts, and he, consequently, soon left them. On his way to his post, he met a young officer, who had shown him much kindness, and whose life he had been chiefly instrumental in saving. “Ha, Mackay!" said the officer, “ Is it you? Bless me, how ill you look! What's the matter? Are you unwell ? Stay-I will go to the Colonel, and request him to let some one else take your duty.” “I thank you kindly, Mr. " said Mackay, respectfully saluting the officer. “I am not unwell, and had rather go myself. But I have a favor to ask of you. You have always been kind-very kind to me, and I am sure you will not refuse it.” “What is it? Speak it out at once, man,” said Mr. M- “It is borne in my mind that I shall fall to-morrow,” rejoined Mackay; 66 here are ten dollars : will
you take charge of them, and send them to my mother? You know where she lives ; and-and-if it was not too much trouble, sir,” he added, his voice faltering, “you might tell her, if you should see her, poor old woman! that her son-devil as he has been-has never ceased, day or night, to beg Heaven's blessing on her head, or to blame himself with leaving her solitary and destitute."
The veteran wept like a child; and the young officer was scarcely less effected. Taking the money, he broke away from Mackay in order to conceal his emotion; and he retired to his quarters, oppressed with the melancholy feelings which this strange scene had occasioned; but, anxious at the same time, to persuade himself that it was a mere hallucination of fancy, and that the poor fellow's mind was touched. On the succeeding day, however, when the remains of the regiment were mustered, Mackay was missing; but the tears of his surviving comrades sufficiently indicated the fulfilment of his presentiment. He had fallen late in the action, beside one of the redoubts, pierced with more than twenty bullets.
The last instance of this kind, which we shall mention, is one that will probably make a greater impression than any of the preceding, as it relates to individuals of great historical importance. Napoleon, on the 7th of May, 1796, had surprised the passage of the Po at Piacenza, while Beaulieu was expecting him at Valeggio, and General Laharpe, commanding the grenadiers of the advanced guard, fixed his head-quarters at Emmetri, between Fiombio and the Po. During the night, Liptay's Austrian division arrived at Fiombio, which is only one league from the river; and having embattled the houses and steeples, filled them with troops. As the position was strong, and Liptay might receive reinforcements, it became of the utmost importance to dislodge him; and this, after an obstinate contest, was effected. Laharpe then executed a retrograde movement to cover the roads leading to Pavia and Lodi. In the course of the night, a regiment of the enemy's cavalry appeared at his outposts, and created considerable alarm, but, after a slight resistance, retired. Nevertheless, Laharpe, followed by a picquet and several officers, went forward to reconnoitre, and particularly to interrogate in person the inhabitants of the farm-houses on the road. Unfortunately, however, he returned to the camp by a different route to that by which he had been observed to set out; and the troops being on the watch, and mistaking the reconnoitring party for a detachment of the enemy, opened a brisk fire of musketry, and Laharpe fell dead, pierced by the bullets of his own soldiers, by whom he was dearly beloved. It was remarked that, during the action of Fiombio, throughout the evening preceding his death, Laharpe seemed very absent and dejected; giving no orders appearing, as it were, deprived of his usual energies, and entirely absorbed
by a fatal presentiment. Laharpe was one of the bravest generals in the army of Italy—a grenadier both in stature and courage; and, although by birth a foreigner (Swiss,) he had raised himself to the rank of a general by his mere talent and bravery.
An anecdote, somewhat bearing upon the point, has just come into my recollection; and as it is characteristic and striking, I offer no apology for its insertion. On the night before Massena's attack on Lord Wellington's position on the Sierra de Busaco, the troops, ignorant of the enemy's proximity, and fatigued with their day's march, had lain down on the summit of the ridge to take a little rest; and both men and officers were soon fast asleep. Amongst them was the gallant officer, who then commanded the Connaught Rangers. He had not, however, slept long, before he started up, apparently in great alarm; and calling a young officer of the same regiment, who lay close by him, he said, “D I have just had a most extraordinary dream; such as I had once before, the night before an unexpected battle. Depend upon it we
shall be attacked very soon.” The young man immediately went forward; and, after looking between him and the horizon, and listening attentively to every sound and murmur wafted on the nightbreeze, he returned, and reported that all was still. The Colonel was satisfied, and they again lay down. In less than half an hour, however, the Colonel again started up, exclaiming in strong language, that, ere an hour elapsed, they should surely be attacked ! On seeing the Colonel and his young friend throw aside their cloaks, and move off, several of the officers by them took the alarm. And it was high time; for, on examination, it was found that the enemy's columns of attack were ascending the heights, with the utmost secresy
and expedition. Some of them had then reached the summit, and deployed into line, before the British were ready to attack them. They were immediately charged, broken, and driven down the declivity with great loss. It is remarkable that the same gallant officer, now a general, had a similar dream in Egypt, on the morning of the 21st of March, before the British position was attacked by the French, under cover of the darkness. The circumstance is certainly curious, although not exactly connected with the immediate subject of the present article.
Theexamples, which I have hitherto adduced, areexclusively referable to incidents of a military character; but many of our readers, who have resided in the secluded districts of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, or even of more civilized England, will find no difficulty to charge their memory with abundant proofs of the realization of the gloomy forebodings of these “Fatal Presentiments ;” not occurring amidst the careless bustle of a camp, or the heedless hum and popularity of the busy world; but in the silent and secluded glen, the gloomy grove, or the pine-clad mountain. To a soldier on the eve of battle, it is possible that a sad foreboding for the fortune of the morrow may find ready access to the heart. The bravest man may wish to live, if not for himself, at least for his wife and little ones, his parents, or his kindred. And the fond remembrance of these, rushing with all the force of separated affection into his bosom, may conjure up those feelings of despondency, which, in their extreme intensity, may constitute these “Fatal Presentiments.” But this cannot be said of those, who, pursuing their calm, sequestered path, on the wide road of human life, scarcely ever vary the events of their existence, and rarely quit the secluded spot which
gave them birth. And that such persons are subjected to the occurrence of “Fatal Presentiments,” is too well known to need illustration here.
Supposing, then, that the occurrence of“ Fatal Presentiments” be firmly established, is it possible, consistently with any known reason of the human mind, to offer any satisfactory explanation of this strange and mysterious phenomenon? It is obvious, from the preceding anecdotes, that this “ Fatal Presentiment" cannot be considered as a mental hallucination, engendered by cowardice or fear, as, in all the instances adduced, the individuals have been remarkable for their courage, firmness, and intrepidity. It is curious, too, that the most striking concomitant of this prophetic anticipation of death, is the strong and overweening conviction of its positive realization.
It may be urged, that a person thus fatally possessed, may become so careless of existence, as, thereby, to insure his destruction. Be it so: but, we ask, what originally induces the presentiment? Soldiers, and particularly veteran soldiers, familiar with danger and death, are not generally liable to be troubled with hypocondriac feelings, or with phantoms of visionary terror. The evils to which they are exposed, are physical, not mental ; their life has too much of stern reality in it to be embittered, or disordered by the fanciful phantasmagoria of the brain: food and rest after fatigue, and, after battle, victory and glory, are commonly the prime objects with which they concern themselves. It is, therefore, highly improbable that such gloomy forebodings, as those which we have narrated, in the first instance, be occasioned by any distempered affection of the mind; and it is no less improbable that the constant fulfilment of the prediction should be a mere accidental coincidence.
Upon what principle, then, are we to account for the appalling certainty of approaching death thus irresistibly “borne in"(to use poor Mackay's words) upon the mind ? By what secret intervention is it thus, in some instances, assured of the near approach of an event, which, to the vast majority of men, “ clouds and shadows rest upon," till the fatal moment when it is revealed ? Whence, too, the overwhelming conviction with which it is accompanied ? We confess we cannot tell : but we believe the fact, because the moral evidence in its favor is irresistible. The physiology of the mind is a subject, of which we must ever remain in total ignorance. Spurzheim could have unravelled all the perplexing convolutions of the brain-he could have discovered new organs, new passions, and new combinations; he could, in short, have exerted all that ingenuity, for which he was so renowned; but he could have gained nothing by the effort, but our admiration for his anatomical skill and dexterity. The mind may have latent powers, which can only be called into action by a particular combination of circumstances; which combination may be of rare occurrence, and beyond the reach of our inquiries, when it does happen. Many of the lower animals are gifted with a presentiment of danger, the manner of acquiring which is probably as mysterious as that which we are now considering; and this seems to be given them by nature for their preservation.
Man, in general, is placed in a less enviable situation; because he has reason, instead of instinct, for his guide. Yet it has been believed, in all ages, that men have been, occasionally, forewarned of their approaching dissolution, and that "sounds by no mortals made,” are intelligible to “death's prophetic ear.” This belief, probably, originated in the observation of facts similar to those we