Page images
PDF
EPUB

AMUSING CHRONICLE,

[blocks in formation]

We select from the Third Canto, just published, of LORD Byron's Childe Harold's. Pilgrimage, the following picture of the Battle of Waterloo. Many beautiful passages will be found in it, but it is not free from many glaring detects,

Its principal viciousness is an inertness of feeling and a quaintness of expression little suited to the subject.

There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered then
Her Beauty and her Chivalry, and briglit:
The lamps shone o'er fair women and bravé inen';
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again,

And all went merry as a marriage bell ;
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!

Did ye not hear it ?-No; 'twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o'er the stoney street;
On with the dance ! let joy be unconfined ;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet
But, hark !--that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;

And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
Arm! Arm, it is it is the cannon's opening roar!

Within a windowed niche of that high ball
Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain ; he did hear
That sound the first amidst the festiral,
And caught its tone with Death's prophetic car ;

[ocr errors]

Macpherson, Printer, Russell Court, Covent Garden.

[ocr errors]

And when they smiled because he deem'd it near,
His heart more truly knew that peal too well
Which stretch'd his father op a bloody bier,

And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell :
He rush'd into the field, and, foremost fighting fell.

Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathered tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness ;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er might be repeated ; who could guess

If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon nights so sweet such awful morn could rise ?

And there was mounting in hot haste : the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning stạr ;

While throng'd the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering, with white lips “The foe! Theycome, they come!"

And wild and high the “Cameron's gathering" rose !
The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes :-
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils

The stirring memory of a thousand years,
And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's cars.

Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the sigual-sound of strife,
The morn the marshaling in arms,—the day
Battle's magnificently stern array !
The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent
The earth is covered thick with other clay,
? Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
Rider and horse,-friend, foe,-in one red burial blent !

Their praise is hymn'd by loftier harps than mine ;
Yet one I would select from that proud throng,
Partly because they blend me with his line,
And partly that I did his sire some wrong,
And partly that bright dames will hallow sungi

And his was of the bravest, and when shower'd
The death-bolts deadliest the thinn'd files along,

Even where the thickest of war's tempest lower'd,
They reach'd no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant Howard!

There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee,
And mine were nothing, had I such to give;
But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree,
Which living waves where thou didst cease to live,
And saw around me the wide field revive
With fruits and fertile promise, and the Spring
Come forth her work of gladness to contrive,

With her reekless birds upon the wing,
I turn'd from all she brought to those she could not bring.

I turo'd to thee, to thousands of whom each
And one as all a ghastly gap did make
In his own kind and kindred whom to teach
Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake;
The Archangel's trump, not Glory's, must awake
Those whom they thirst for; though the sound of Fame
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake

The fever of vain longing, and the name
So honoured but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.
They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling, inourn ;
The tree will wither long before it fall ;
The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn;
The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall
In massy hoariness; the ruined wall
Stands when its wind-worn battlments are gone;
The bars survive the captive they enthral;

The day drags through though storms keep out the sun ;
And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on :

Even as a broken mirror, which the glass
In every fragment multiplies; and makes
A thousand images of one that was,
The same, and still the more, the more it breaks ;
And thus the heart will do which not forsakes,
Living in shattered guise, and still, and cold,
And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches,

Yet withers on till all without is old,
Shewing no visible sign, for such things are untold.

There is a very life in our despair,
Vitality of poison—a quick root
Which feeds these deadly branches; for it were
As nothing did we die; but Life will suit
Itself to Sorrow's most detested fruit,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Like to the appples on the Dead Sea's shore,
All ashes to the taste: Did man compute

Existence by enjoyment, and count o'er
Such hours 'gainst years of life,--say, would he name three-score?

The Psalmist numbered out the years of man:
They are enough; and if thy tale be true,
Thou, who didst grudge him even that fleeting span,
More than enough, thou fatal Waterloo !
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children's lips shall echo them, and say

Here, where the sword united nations drew,
“ Our countrymen were warring on that day';"
And this is much, and all which will not pass away.

There sunk the greatest, nor the worst of men,
Whose spirit antithetically mixt
One moment of the mightiest, and again
On little objects with like firmness fixt,
Extreine in all things! hadst thou been betwixt,
Thy throne had still been thine, or never been ;
For daring made thy rise as fall : thou seek'st

Even now to re-assume the imperial mein,
And shake again the world, the Thunder of the scene !

Conqueror and captive of the earth art thou !
She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name
Was ne'er more bruited in men's minds than now
Trat thou art nothing, save the jest of Fame,
Who wooed thee once, thy vassal, and became
The flatterer of thy fierceness, till thou wert
A god unto thyself; nor less the same

To the astounded kingdoms all inert,
Who deem'd thee for a time whate'er thou didst assert,

Oh, more or less than man-in high or low,
Posting with nations, flying from the field;
Nvy making monarchs' necks thy footstool, now
Tre than thy meanest soldier taught to yield;
Au empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild;
but govern vot thy pettiest passion, nor,
However deeply in inen's spirits skillid,

Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of war,
Nor learn thar tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star.

Yet well thy soul bath brook'd the turning tide
With that untaught innate philosophy,
Which, be it wisdom, coldness, or deep pride,
Is gall and wormwood to an enemy.
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by,
To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smiled

With a sedate and all-enduring eye;

When Fortune fled her spoil'd and favourite child,
He stood unbowed beneath the ills upon him piled.

Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them
Ambition steel'd on too far to show
That just habitual scorns which could contemn
Men and their thoughts ; 'twas wise to feel, not so
To wear it ever on thy lip and brow,
And
spurn

the instruments thou wert to use
Till they were turned unto thine overthrow:

Tis but a worthless world to win or lose ;
So hath it proved to thee, and all such lot who choose.

THE LIFE OF H. M. DE LATUDE,

( Continued from page 135.) The great work still remained, the rope ladder by which they might descend from the tower; they unravelled all their linen, shirts, cravats, night-caps, napkins, stockings, handkerchiefs every thing that could supply them with thread, or silk. No ropemaker could have made a better cord than what they produced from these materials; and the length of it altogether amounted to near fourteen hundred feet. They made the rounds of the ladder of wood, and covered them with some flannel, lest the noise of their striking against the wall should be heard. Some of the superfluous cord was to serve as an additional security in case the ladder should break, or their heads should turn giddy at the height.

All these preparations occupied them eighteen months; but it was necessary to ensure some means of escaping from the Gover-nor's garden, which was surrounded by a high wall, and they determined to do this by working through it with two bars of iron from the chimney, which they covered with flannel to prevent noise.

At length all was ready, and on the night of the 25th of February, 1756, they got safe from this tremendous prison. Latude first climbed the chimney, the labour of which made his hands and knees perfectly raw, and gave him great pain. He then drew up the various articles necessary for their escape by a cord, and assisted the ascent of his companion. They were then on the platform of the Bastille, and fixed on the tower du Trésor, as most favourable for their purpose ; they then fastened one end of the ladder to a cannon, and taking the precaution before-mentioned of fixing the spare cord round his body, Latude descended; but it was very difficult, the battlements overhung the wall so

« PreviousContinue »