Part 14 out of 16
'Tisn't a mo'sel o' good for thee to cry out against Wessex folk, when
'twas all thy own stunpoll ignorance.
[The VICAR OF DURNOVER removes his pipe and spits perpendicularly.]
My dear misguided man, you don't imagine that we should be so inhuman
in this Christian country as to burn a fellow creature alive?
Faith, I won't say I didn't! Durnover folk have never had the
highest of Christian character, come to that. And I didn't know
but that even a pa'son might backslide to such things in these gory
times--I won't say on a Zunday, but on a week-night like this--when
we think what a blasphemious rascal he is, and that there's not a
more charnel-minded villain towards womenfolk in the whole world.
[The effigy has by this time been kindled, and they watch it burn,
the flames making the faces of the crowd brass-bright, and lighting
the grey tower of Durnover Church hard by.]
Bayonets and firelocks!
I wouldn't my mammy should know't
But I've been kissed in a sentry-box,
Wrapped up in a soldier's coat!
Talk of backsliding to burn Boney, I can backslide to anything
when my blood is up, or rise to anything, thank God for't! Why,
I shouldn't mind fighting Boney single-handed, if so be I had
the choice o' weapons, and fresh Rainbarrow flints in my flint-box,
and could get at him downhill. Yes, I'm a dangerous hand with a
pistol now and then! . . . Hark, what's that? (A horn is heard
eastward on the London Road.) Ah, here comes the mail. Now we may
learn something. Nothing boldens my nerves like news of slaughter!
[Enter mail-coach and steaming horses. It halts for a minute while
the wheel is skidded and the horses stale.]
What was the latest news from abroad, guard, when you left
You have heard, I suppose, that he's given up to public vengeance,
by Gover'ment orders? Anybody may take his life in any way, fair
or foul, and no questions asked. But Marshal Ney, who was sent to
fight him, flung his arms round his neck and joined him with all
his men. Next, the telegraph from Plymouth sends news landed there
by _The Sparrow_, that he has reached Paris, and King Louis has
fled. But the air got hazy before the telegraph had finished, and
the name of the place he had fled to couldn't be made out.
[The VICAR OF DURNOVER blows a cloud of smoke, and again spits
Well, I'm d--- Dear me--dear me! The Lord's will be done.
And there are to be four armies sent against him--English, Proosian,
Austrian, and Roosian: the first two under Wellington and Blucher.
And just as we left London a show was opened of Boney on horseback
as large as life, hung up with his head downwards. Admission one
shilling; children half-price. A truly patriot spectacle!--Not that
yours here is bad for a simple country-place.
[The coach drives on down the hill, and the crowd reflectively
watches the burning.]
My Love's gone a-fighting
Where war-trumpets call,
The wrongs o' men righting
Wi' carbine and ball,
And sabre for smiting,
And charger, and all
Of whom does he think there
Where war-trumpets call?
To whom does he drink there,
Wi' carbine and ball
On battle's red brink there,
And charger, and all?
Her, whose voice he hears humming
Where war-trumpets call,
"I wait, Love, thy coming
Wi' carbine and ball,
And bandsmen a-drumming
Thee, charger and all!"
[The flames reach the powder in the effigy, which is blown to
rags. The band marches off playing "When War's Alarms," the
crowd disperses, the vicar stands musing and smoking at his
garden door till the fire goes out and darkness curtains the
THE BELGIAN FRONTIER
[The village of Beaumont stands in the centre foreground of a
birds'-eye prospect across the Belgian frontier from the French
side, being close to the Sambre further back in the scene, which
pursues a crinkled course between high banks from Maubeuge on the
left to Charleroi on the right.
In the shadows that muffle all objects, innumerable bodies of
infantry and cavalry are discerned bivouacking in and around the
village. This mass of men forms the central column of NAPOLEONS'S
The right column is seen at a distance on that hand, also near
the frontier, on the road leading towards Charleroi; and the
left column by Solre-sur-Sambre, where the frontier and the river
The obscurity thins and the June dawn appears.]
The bivouacs of the central column become broken up, and a movement
ensues rightwards on Charleroi. The twelve regiments of cavalry
which are in advance move off first; in half an hour more bodies
move, and more in the next half-hour, till by eight o'clock the
whole central army is gliding on. It defiles in strands by narrow
tracks through the forest. Riding impatiently on the outskirts of
the columns is MARSHAL NEY, who has as yet received no command.
As the day develops, sight and sounds to the left and right reveal
that the two outside columns have also started, and are creeping
towards the frontier abreast with the centre. That the whole forms
one great movement, co-ordinated by one mind, now becomes apparent.
Preceded by scouts the three columns converge.
The advance through dense woods by narrow paths takes time. The
head of the middles and main column forces back some outposts, and
reaches Charleroi, driving out the Prussian general ZIETEN. It
seizes the bridge over the Sambre and blows up the gates of the
The point of observation now descends close to the scene.
In the midst comes the EMPEROR with the Sappers of the Guard,
the Marines, and the Young Guard. The clatter brings the scared
inhabitants to their doors and windows. Cheers arise from some
of them as NAPOLEON passes up the steep street. Just beyond the
town, in front of the Bellevue Inn, he dismounts. A chair is
brought out, in which he sits and surveys the whole valley of the
Sambre. The troops march past cheering him, and drums roll and
bugles blow. Soon the EMPEROR is found to be asleep.
When the rattle of their passing ceases the silence wakes him. His
listless eye falls upon a half-defaced poster on a wall opposite--
the Declaration of the Allies.
". . . Bonaparte destroys the only legal title on which his existence
depended. . . . He has deprived himself of the protection of the law,
and has manifested to the Universe that there can be neither peace
nor truce with him. The Powers consequently declare that Napoleon
Bonaparte has placed himself without the pale of civil and social
relations, and that as an enemy and disturber of the tranquillity
of the world he has rendered himself liable to public vengeance."
His flesh quivers, and he turns with a start, as if fancying that
some one may be about to stab him in the back. Then he rises,
mounts, and rides on.
Meanwhile the right column crosses the Sambre without difficulty
at Chatelet, a little lower down; the left column at Marchienne a
little higher up; and the three limbs combine into one vast army.
As the curtain of the mist is falling, the point of vision soars
again, and there is afforded a brief glimpse of what is doing far
away on the other side. From all parts of Europe long and sinister
black files are crawling hitherward in serpentine lines, like
slowworms through grass. They are the advancing armies of the
Allies. The Dumb Show ends.
A BALLROOM IN BRUSSELS(22)
[It is a June midnight at the DUKE AND DUCHESS OF RICHMOND'S. A
band of stringed instruments shows in the background. The room
is crowded with a brilliant assemblage of more than two hundred
of the distinguished people sojourning in the city on account of
the war and other reasons, and of local personages of State and
fashion. The ball has opened with "The White Cockade."
Among those discovered present either dancing or looking on are
the DUKE and DUCHESS as host and hostess, their son and eldest
daughter, the Duchess's brother, the DUKE OF WELLINGTON, the
PRINCE OF ORANGE, the DUKE OF BRUNSWICK, BARON VAN CAPELLEN the
Belgian Secretary of State, the DUKE OF ARENBERG, the MAYOR OF
BRUSSELS, the DUKE AND DUCHESS OF BEAUFORT, GENERAL ALAVA, GENERAL
OUDENARDE, LORD HILL, LORD AND LADY CONYNGHAM, SIR HENRY AND LADY
SUSAN CLINTON, SIR H. AND LADY HAMILTON DALRYMPLE, SIR WILLIAM AND
LADY DE LANCEY, LORD UXBRIDGE, SIR JOHN BYNG, LORD PORTARLINGTON,
LORD EDWARD SOMERSET, LORD HAY, COLONEL ABERCROMBY, SIR HUSSEY
VIVIAN, SIR A. GORDON, SIR W. PONSONBY, SIR DENIS PACK, SIR JAMES
KEMPT, SIR THOMAS PICTON, GENERAL MAITLAND, COLONEL CAMERON, many
other officers, English, Hanoverian, Dutch and Belgian ladies
English and foreign, and Scotch reel-dancers from Highland
The "Hungarian Waltz" having also been danced, the hostess calls
up the Highland soldiers to show the foreign guests what a Scotch
reel is like. The men put their hands on their hips and tread it
out briskly. While they stand aside and rest "The Hanoverian
Dance" is called.
Enter LIEUTENANT WEBSTER, A.D.C. to the PRINCE OF ORANGE. The
Prince goes apart with him and receives a dispatch. After reading
it he speaks to WELLINGTON, and the two, accompanied by the DUKE
OF RICHMOND, retire into an alcove with serious faces. WEBSTER,
in passing back across the ballroom, exchanges a hasty word with
two of three of the guests known to him, a young officer among
them, and goes out.
YOUNG OFFICER (to partner)
The French have passed the Sambre at Charleroi!
What--does it mean the Bonaparte indeed
Is bearing down upon us?
That is so.
The one who spoke to me in passing out
Is Aide to the Prince of Orange, bringing him
Dispatches from Rebecque, his chief of Staff,
Now at the front, not far from Braine le Comte;
He says that Ney, leading the French van-guard,
Has burst on Quatre-Bras.
O horrid time!
Will you, then, have to go and face him there?
I shall, of course, sweet. Promptly too, no doubt.
(He gazes about the room.)
See--the news spreads; the dance is paralyzed.
They are all whispering round. (The band stops.) Here comes
He's the attache from the Prussian force
At our headquarters.
[Enter GENERAL MUFFLING. He looks prepossessed, and goes straight
to WELLINGTON and RICHMOND in the alcove, who by this time have
been joined by the DUKE OF BRUNSWICK.]
SEVERAL GUESTS (at back of room)
Yes, you see, it's true!
The army will prepare to march at once.
PICTON (to another general)
I am damn glad we are to be off. Pottering about her pinned to
petticoat tails--it does one no good, but blasted harm!
The ball cannot go on, can it? Didn't the Duke know the French
were so near? If he did, how could he let us run risks so coolly?
LADY HAMILTON DALRYMPLE (to partner)
A deep concern weights those responsible
Who gather in the alcove. Wellington
Affects a cheerfulness in outward port,
But cannot rout his real anxiety!
[The DUCHESS OF RICHMOND goes to her husband.]
Ought I to stop the ball? It hardly seems right to let it continue
if all be true.
I have put that very question to Wellington, my dear. He says that
we need not hurry off the guests. The men have to assemble some
time before the officers, who can stay on here a little longer
without inconvenience; and he would prefer that they should, not to
create a panic in the city, where the friends and spies of Napoleon
are all agog for some such thing, which they would instantly
communicate to him to take advantage of.
Is it safe to stay on? Should we not be thinking about getting the
There's no hurry at all, even if Bonaparte were really sure to
enter. But he's never going to set foot in Brussels--don't you
imagine it for a moment.
I hope not. But I wish we had never brought them here!
It is too late, my dear, to wish that now. Don't be flurried; make
the people go on dancing.
[The DUCHESS returns to her guests. The DUKE rejoins WELLINGTON,
BRUNSWICK, MUFFLING, and the PRINCE OF ORANGE in the alcove.]
We need not be astride till five o'clock
If all the men are marshalled well ahead.
The Brussels citizens must not suppose
They stand in serious peril. . . He, I think,
Directs his main attack mistakenly;
It should gave been through Mons, not Charleroi.
The Austrian armies, and the Russian too,
Will show nowhere in this. The thing that's done,
Be it a historied feat or nine days' fizz,
Will be done long before they join us here.
Yes, faith; and 'tis pity. But, by God,
Blucher, I think, and I can make a shift
To do the business without troubling 'em!
Though I've an infamous army, that's the truth,--
Weak, and but ill-equipped,--and what's as bad,
A damned unpractised staff!
We'll hope for luck.
Blucher concentrates certainly by now
Near Ligny, as he says in his dispatch.
Your Grace, I glean, will mass at Quatre-Bras?
Ay, now we are sure this move on Charleroi
Is no mere feint. Though I had meant Nivelles.
Have ye a good map, Richmond, near at hand?
In the next room there's one. (Exit RICHMOND.)
[WELLINGTON calls up various general officers and aides from
other parts of the room. PICTON, UXBRIDGE, HILL, CLINTON, VIVIAN,
MAITLAND, PONSONBY, SOMERSET, and others join him in succession,
receive orders, and go out severally.]
PRINCE OF ORANGE
As my divisions seem to lie around
The probable point of impact, it behoves me
To start at once, Duke, for Genappe, I deem?
Being in Brussels, all for this damned ball,
The dispositions out there have, so far,
Been made by young Saxe Weimar and Perponcher,
On their own judgment quite. I go, your Grace?
Yes, certainly. 'Tis now desirable.
Farewell! Good luck, until we meet again,
The battle won!
[Exit PRINCE OF ORANGE, and shortly after, MUFFLING. RICHMOND
returns with a map, which he spreads out on the table. WELLINGTON
scans it closely.]
Napoleon has befooled me,
By God he has,--gained four-and-twenty hours'
Good march upon me!
What do you mean to do?
I have bidden the army concentrate in strength
At Quatre-Bras. But we shan't stop him there;
So I must fight him HERE. (He marks Waterloo with his thumbnail.)
Well, now I have sped,
All necessary orders I may sup,
And then must say good-bye. (To Brunswick.) This very day
There will be fighting, Duke. You are fit to start?
BRUNSWICK (coming forward)
I leave almost this moment.--Yes, your Grace--
And I sheath not my sword till I have avenged
My father's death. I have sworn it!
My good friend,
Something too solemn knells beneath your words.
Take cheerful views of the affair in hand,
And fall to't with _sang froid_!
But I have sworn!
Adieu. The rendezvous is Quatre-Bras?
Just so. The order is unchanged. Adieu;
But only till a later hour to-day;
I see it is one o'clock.
[WELLINGTON and RICHMOND go out of the alcove and join the
hostess, BRUNSWICK'S black figure being left there alone. He
bends over the map for a few seconds.]
SPIRIT OF THE YEARS
O Brunswick, Duke of Deathwounds! Even as he
For whom thou wear'st that filial weedery
Was waylaid by my tipstaff nine years since,
So thou this day shalt feel his fendless tap,
And join thy sire!
BRUNSWICK (starting up)
I am stirred by inner words,
As 'twere my father's angel calling me,--
That prelude to our death my lineage know!
[He stands in a reverie for a moment; then, bidding adieu to the
DUCHESS OF RICHMOND and her daughter, goes slowly out of the
ballroom by a side-door.]
The Duke of Brunswick bore him gravely here.
His sable shape has stuck me all the eve
As one of those romantic presences
We hear of--seldom see.
It may be so. Times often, ever since
The Late Duke's death, his mood has tinged him thus.
He is of those brave men who danger see,
And seeing front it,--not of those, less brave
But counted more, who face it sightlessly.
YOUNG OFFICER (to partner)
The Generals slip away! I, Love, must take
The cobbled highway soon. Some hours ago
The French seized Charleroi; so they loom nigh.
Which tells me that the hour you draw your sword
Looms nigh us likewise!
Some are saying here
We fight this very day. Rumours all-shaped
Fly round like cockchafers!
[Suddenly there echoes in the ballroom a long-drawn metallic purl
of sound, making all the company start.]
Transcriber's Note: There follows in musical notation five measures
Ah--there it is,
Just as I thought! They are beating the Generale.
[The loud roll of side-drums is taken up by other drums further
and further away, till the hollow noise spreads all over the city.
Dismay is written on the faces of the women. The Highland non-
commissioned officers and privates march smartly down the ballroom
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
Discerned you stepping out in front of them
That figure--of a pale drum-major kind,
Or fugleman--who wore a cold grimace?
SPIRIT OF THE YEARS
He was my old fiend Death, in rarest trim,
The occasion favouring his husbandry!
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
Are those who marched behind him, then, to fall?
SPIRIT OF THE YEARS
Ay, all well-nigh, ere Time have houred three-score.
Surely this cruel call to instant war
Spares space for one dance more, that memory
May store when you are gone, while I--sad me!--
Wait, wait and weep. . . . Yes--one there is to be!
Methinks flirtation grows too tender here!
[Country Dance, "The Prime of Life," a favourite figure at this
period. The sense of looming tragedy carries emotion to its
climax. All the younger officers stand up with their partners,
forming several figures of fifteen or twenty couples each. The
air is ecstasizing, and both sexes abandon themselves to the
Nearly half an hour passes before the figure is danced down.
Smothered kisses follow the conclusion. The silence is broken
from without by more long hollow rolling notes, so near that
they thrill the window-panes.]
'Tis the Assemble. Now, then, we must go!
[The officers bid farewell to their partners and begin leaving
in twos and threes. When they are gone the women mope and murmur
to each other by the wall, and listen to the tramp of men and
slamming of doors in the streets without.]
LADY HAMILTON DALRYMPLE
The Duke has borne him gaily here to-night.
The youngest spirits scarcely capped his own.
Maybe that, finding himself blade to blade
With Bonaparte at last, his blood gets quick.
French lancers of the Guard were seen at Frasnes
Last midnight; so the clash is not far off.
DE LANCEY (to his wife)
I take you to our door, and say good-bye,
And go thence to the Duke's and wait for him.
In a few hours we shall be all in motion
Towards the scene of--what we cannot tell!
You, dear, will haste to Antwerp till it's past,
As we have arranged.
WELLINGTON (to Richmond)
Now I must also go,
And snatch a little snooze ere harnessing.
The Prince and Brunswick have been gone some while.
[RICHMOND walks to the door with him. Exit WELLINGTON, RICHMOND
DUCHESS (to Richmond)
Some of these left renew the dance, you see.
I cannot stop them; but with memory hot
Of those late gone, of where they are gone, and why,
It smacks of heartlessness!
Let be; let be;
Youth comes not twice to fleet mortality!
[The dancing, however, is fitful and spiritless, few but civilian
partners being left for the ladies. Many of the latter prefer to
sit in reverie while waiting for their carriages.]
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
When those stout men-at-arms drew forward there,
I saw a like grimacing shadow march
And pirouette before no few of them.
Some of themselves beheld it; some did not.
SPIRIT OF THE YEARS
Which were so ushered?
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
Brunswick, who saw and knew;
One also moved before Sir Thomas Picton,
Who coolly conned and drily spoke to it;
Another danced in front of Ponsonby,
Who failed of heeding his.--De Lancey, Hay,
Gordon, and Cameron, and many more
Were footmanned by like phantoms from the ball.
SPIRIT OF THE YEARS
Multiplied shimmerings of my Protean friend,
Who means to couch them shortly. Thou wilt eye
Many fantastic moulds of him ere long,
Such as, bethink thee, oft hast eyed before.
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
I have--too often!
[The attenuated dance dies out, the remaining guests depart, the
musicians leave the gallery and depart also. RICHMOND goes to
a window and pulls back one of the curtains. Dawn is barely
visible in the sky, and the lamps indistinctly reveal that long
lines of British infantry have assembled in the street. In the
irksomeness of waiting for their officers with marching-orders,
they have lain down on the pavements, where many are soundly
sleeping, their heads on their knapsacks and their arms by their
Poor men. Sleep waylays them. How tired they seem!
They'll be more tired before the day is done.
A march of eighteen miles beneath the heat,
And then to fight a battle ere they rest,
Is what foreshades.--Well, it is more than bed-time;
But little sleep for us or any one
To-night in Brussels!
[He draws the window-curtain and goes out with the DUCHESS.
Servants enter and extinguish candles. The scene closes in
CHARLEROI. NAPOLEON'S QUARTERS
[The same midnight. NAPOLEON is lying on a bed in his clothes.
In consultation with SOULT, his Chief of Staff, who is sitting
near, he dictates to his Secretary orders for the morrow. They
are addressed to KELLERMANN, DROUOT, LOBAU, GERARD, and other
of his marshals. SOULT goes out to dispatch them.
The Secretary resumes the reading of reports. Presently MARSHAL
NEY is announced He is heard stumbling up the stairs, and enters.]
Ah, Ney; why come you back? Have you secured
The all-important Crossways?--safely sconced
Yourself at Quatre-Bras?
Not, sire, as yet.
For, marching forwards, I heard gunnery boom,
And, fearing that the Prussians had engaged you,
I stood at pause. Just then---
My charge was this:
Make it impossible at any cost
That Wellington and Blucher should unite.
As it's from Brussels that the English come,
And from Namur the Prussians, Quatre-Bras
Lends it alone for their forgathering:
So, why exists it not in your hands/
My reason, sire, was rolling from my tongue.--
Hard on the boom of guns, dim files of foot
Which read to me like massing Englishry--
The vanguard of all Wellington's array--
I half-discerned. So, in pure wariness,
I left the Bachelu columns there at Frasnes,
And hastened back to tell you.
Ney; O Ney!
I fear you are not the man that once you were;
Of your so daring, such a faint-heart now!
I have ground to know the foot that flustered you
Were but a few stray groups of Netherlanders;
For my good spies in Brussels send me cue
That up to now the English have not stirred,
But cloy themselves with nightly revel there.
Give me another opportunity
Before you speak like that!
You soon will have one! . . .
But now--no more of this. I have other glooms
Upon my soul--the much-disquieting news
That Bourmont has deserted to our foes
With his whole staff.
We can afford to let him.
It is what such betokens, not their worth,
That whets it! . . . Love, respect for me, have waned;
But I will right that. We've good chances still.
You must return foot-hot to Quatre-Bras;
There Kellermann's cuirassiers will promptly join you
To bear the English backward Brussels way.
I go on towards Fleurus and Ligny now.--
If Blucher's force retreat, and Wellington's
Lie somnolent in Brussels one day more,
I gain that city sans a single shot! . . .
Now, friend, downstairs you'll find some supper ready,
Which you must tuck in sharply, and then off.
The past day has not ill-advantaged us;
We have stolen upon the two chiefs unawares,
And in such sites that they must fight apart.
Now for a two hours' rest.--Comrade, adieu
Till to-morrow, sire!
[Exit NEY. NAPOLEON falls asleep, and the Secretary waits till
dictation shall be resumed. BUSSY, the orderly officer, comes
to the door.
Letters--arrived from Paris. (Hands letters.)
He shall have them
The moment he awakes. These eighteen hours
He's been astride; and is not what he was.--
Much news from Paris?
I can only say
What's not the news. The courier has just told me
He'd nothing from the Empress at Vienna
To bring his Majesty. She writes no more.
And never will again! In my regard
That bird's forsook the nest for good and all.
All that they hear in Paris from her court
Is through our spies there. One of them reports
This rumour of her: that the Archduke John,
In taking leave to join our enemies here,
Said, "Oh, my poor Louise; I am grieved for you
And what I hope is, that he'll be run through,
Or shot, or break his neck, for your own good
No less than ours.
By "he" denoting me?
Just so, your Majesty.
What said the Empress?
She gave no answer, sire, that rumour bears.
Count Neipperg, whom they have made her chamberlain,
Interred his wife last spring--is it not so?
He did, your Majesty.
H'm. . . .You may go.
[Exit BUSSY. The Secretary reads letters aloud in succession.
He comes to the last; begins it; reaches a phrase, and stops
Mind not! Read on. No doubt the usual threat,
Or prophecy, from some mad scribe? Who signs it?
The subscript is "The Duke of Enghien!"
NAPOLEON (starting up)
Bah, man! A treacherous trick! A hoax--no more!
Is that the last?
The last, your Majesty.
Then now I'll sleep. In two hours have me called.
I'll give the order, sire.
[The Secretary goes. The candles are removed, except one, and
NAPOLEON endeavours to compose himself.]
A little moral panorama would do him no harm, after that reminder of
the Duke of Enghien. Shall it be, young Compassion?
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
What good--if that old Years tells us be true?
But I say naught. To ordain is not for me!
[Thereupon a vision passes before NAPOLEON as he lies, comprising
hundreds of thousands of skeletons and corpses in various stages
of decay. They rise from his various battlefields, the flesh
dropping from them, and gaze reproachfully at him. His intimate
officers who have been slain he recognizes among the crowd. In
front is the DUKE OF ENGHIEN as showman.]
NAPOLEON (in his sleep)
Why, why should this reproach be dealt me now?
Why hold me my own master, if I be
Ruled by the pitiless Planet of Destiny?
[He jumps up in a sweat and puts out the last candle; and the
scene is curtained by darkness.]
A CHAMBER OVERLOOKING A MAIN STREET IN BRUSSELS
[A June sunrise; the beams struggling through the window-curtains.
A canopied bed in a recess on the left. The quick notes of
"Brighton Camp, or the "Girl I've left behind me," strike sharply
into the room from fifes and drums without. A young lady in a
dressing-gown, who has evidently been awaiting the sound, springs
from the bed like a hare from its form, undraws window-curtains
and opens the window.
Columns of British soldiery are marching past from the Parc
southward out of the city by the Namur Gate. The windows of
other houses in the street rattle open, and become full of
A tap at the door. An older lady enters, and comes up to the
YOUNGER LADY (turning)
O mamma--I didn't hear you!
I was sound asleep till the thumping of the drums set me fantastically
dreaming, and when I awoke I found they were real. Did they wake you
too, my dear?
Younger Lady (reluctantly)
I didn't require waking. I hadn't slept since we came home.
That was from the excitement of the ball. There are dark rings round
your eye. (The fifes and drums are now opposite, and thrill the air
in the room.) Ah--that "Girl I've left behind me!"--which so many
thousands of women have throbbed an accompaniment to, and will again
to-day if ever they did!
YOUNGER LADY (her voice faltering)
It is rather cruel to say that just now, mamma. There, I can't look
at them after it! (She turns and wipes her eyes.)
I wasn't thinking of ourselves--certainly not of you.--How they
press on--with those great knapsacks and firelocks and, I am told,
fifty-six rounds of ball-cartridge, and four days' provisions in
those haversacks. How can they carry it all near twenty miles and
fight with it on their shoulders! . . . Don't cry, dear. I thought
you would get sentimental last night over somebody. I ought to
have brought you home sooner. How many dances did you have? It
was impossible for me to look after you in the excitement of the
Which were they?
"Enrico," the "Copenhagen Waltz" and the "Hanoverian," and the
"Prime of Life."
It was very foolish to fall in love on the strength of four dances.
YOUNGER LADY (evasively)
Fall in love? Who said I had fallen in love? What a funny idea!
Is it? . . . Now here come the Highland Brigade with their pipes
and their "Hieland Laddie." How the sweethearts cling to the men's
arms. (Reaching forward.) There are more regiments following.
But look, that gentleman opposite knows us. I cannot remember his
name. (She bows and calls across.) Sir, which are these?
The Ninety-second. Next come the Forty-ninth, and next the Forty-
second--Sir Denis Pack's brigade.
Thank you.--I think it is that gentleman we talked to at the
Duchess's, but I am not sure. (A pause: another band.)
That's the Twenty-eighth. (They pass, with their band and colours.)
Now the Thirty-second are coming up--part of Kempt's brigade. Endless,
are they not?
Yes, Sir. Has the Duke passed out yet?
Not yet. Some cavalry will go by first, I think. The foot coming
up now are the Seventy-ninth. (They pass.) . . . These next are
the Ninety-fifth. (They pass.) . . . These are the First Foot-
guards now. (They pass, playing "British Grenadiers.") . . . The
Fusileer-guards now. (They pass.) Now the Coldstreamers. (They
pass. He looks up towards the Parc.) Several Hanoverian regiments
under Colonel Best are coming next. (They pass, with their bands
and colours. An interval.)
ELDER LADY (to daughter)
Here are the hussars. How much more they carry to battle than at
reviews. The hay in those great nets must encumber them. (She
turns and sees that her daughter has become pale.) Ah, now I know!
HE has just gone by. You exchanged signals with him, you wicked
girl! How do you know what his character is, or if he'll ever come
[The younger lady goes and flings herself on her face upon the
bed, sobbing silently. Her mother glances at her, but leaves
her alone. An interval. The prancing of a group of horsemen
is heard on the cobble-stones without.]
GENTLEMAN OPPOSITE (calling)
Here comes the Duke!
ELDER LADY (to younger)
You have left the window at the most important time! The Duke of
Wellington and his staff-officers are passing out.
I don't want to see him. I don't want to see anything any more!
[Riding down the street comes WELLINGTON in a grey frock-coat and
small cocked hat, frigid and undemonstrative; accompanied by four
or five Generals of his suite, the Deputy Quartermaster-general
De LANCEY, LORD FITZROY SOMERSET, Aide-de-camp, and GENERAL
He is the Prussian officer attached to our headquarters, through whom
Wellington communicates with Blucher, who, they say, is threatened by
the French at Ligny at this moment.
[The elder lady turns to her daughter, and going to the bed bends
over her, while the horses' tramp of WELLINGTON and his staff
clatters more faintly in the street, and the music of the last
retreating band dies away towards the Forest of Soignes.
Finding her daughter is hysterical with grief she quickly draws
the window-curtains to screen the room from the houses opposite.
THE FIELD OF LIGNY
[The same day later. A prospect of the battlefield of Ligny
southward from the roof of the windmill of Bussy, which stands at
the centre and highest point of the Prussian position, about six
miles south-east of Quatre-Bras.
The ground slopes downward along the whole front of the scene to
a valley through which wanders the Ligne, a muddy stream bordered
by sallows. On both sides of the stream, in the middle plane of
the picture, stands the village of Ligny, composed of thatched
cottages, gardens, and farm-houses with stone walls; the main
features, such as the church, church-yard, and village-green
being on the further side of the Ligne.
On that side the land reascends in green wheatfields to an
elevation somewhat greater than that of the foreground, reaching
away to Fleurus in the right-hand distance.
In front, on the slopes between the spectator and the village,
is the First Corps of the Prussian army commanded by Zieten, its
First Brigade under STEINMETZ occupying the most salient point.
The Corps under THIELMANN is ranged to the left, and that of
PIRCH to the rear, in reserve to ZIETEN. In the centre-front,
just under the mill, BLUCHER on a fine grey charger is intently
watching, with his staff.
Something dark is seen to be advancing over the horizon by
Fleurus, about three miles off. It is the van of NAPOLEON'S
army, approaching to give battle.
At this moment hoofs are heard clattering along a road that
passes behind the mill; and there come round to the front the
DUKE OF WELLINGTON, his staff-officers, and a small escort of
WELLINGTON and BLUCHER greet each other at the foot of the
windmill. They disappear inside, and can be heard ascending
Enter on the roof WELLINGTON and BLUCHER, followed by FITZROY
SOMERSET, GNEISENAU, MUFFLING, and others. Before renewing
their conversation they peer through their glasses at the dark
movements on the horizon. WELLINGTON'S manner is deliberate,
judicial, almost indifferent; BLUCHER'S eager and impetuous.
They muster not as yet in near such strength
At Quatre-Bras as here.
'Tis from Fleurus
They come debouching. I, perforce, withdrew
My forward posts of cavalry at dawn
In face of their light cannon. . . . They'll be here
I reckon, soon!
WELLINGTON (still with glass)
I clearly see his staff,
And if my eyes don't lie, the Arch-one too. . . .
It is the whole Imperial army, Prince,
That we've before us. (A silence.) Well, we'll cope with them!
What would you have me do?
[BLUCHER is so absorbed in what he sees that he does not heed.]
Duke, this I'd say:
Events suggest to us that you come up
With all your force, behind the village here,
And act as our reserve.
Pray note, has redistributed his strength
In fashion that you fail to recognize.
I am against your scheme.
BLUCHER (lowering his glass)
Napoleon's plans as changed! He purports now
To strike our left--between Sombreffe and Brye. . . .
If so, I have to readjust my ward.
One of his two divisions that we scan
Outspreading from Fleurus, seems bent on Ligny,
The other on Saint-Amand.
Well, I shall see
In half an hour, your Grace. If what I deem
Be what he means, Von Zieten's corps forthwith
Must stand to their positions: Pirch out here,
Henckel at Ligny, Steinmetz at La Haye.
So that, your Excellency, as I opine,
I go and sling my strength on their left wing--
Manoeuvring to outflank 'em on that side.
True, true. Our plan uncovers of itself;
You bear down everything from Quatre-Bras
Along the road to Frasnes.
I will, by God.
I'll bear straight on to Gosselies, if needs!
Your Excellencies, if I may be a judge,
Such movement will not tend to unity;
It leans too largely on a peradventure
Most speculative in its contingencies!
[A silence; till the officers of the staff remark to each other
that concentration is best in any circumstances. A general
We will expect you, Duke, to our support.
I must agree that, in the sum, it's best.
So be it then. If not attacked myself
I'll come to you.--Now I return with speed
And I descend from here
To give close eye and thought to things below;
No more can well be studied where we stand.
[Exeunt from roof WELLINGTON, BLUCHER and the rest. They reappear
below, and WELLINGTON and his suite gallop furiously away in the
direction of Quatre-Bras. An interval.]
DUMB SHOW (below)
Three reports of a cannon give the signal for the French attack.
NAPOLEON'S army advances down the slopes of green corn opposite,
bands and voices joining in songs of victory. The French come
in three grand columns; VANDAMME'S on the left (the spectator's
right) against Saint-Amand, the most forward angle of the Prussian
position. GERARD'S in the centre bear down upon Ligny. GROUCHY'S
on the French right is further back. Far to the rear can be
discerned NAPOLEON, the Imperial Guard, and MILHAUD'S cuirassiers
halted in reserve.
This formidable advance is preceded by swarms of tirailleurs, who
tread down the high wheat, exposing their own men in the rear.
Amid cannonading from both sides they draw nearer to the Prussians,
though lanes are cut through them by the latter's guns. They drive
the Prussians out of Ligny; who, however, rally in the houses,
churchyard, and village green.
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
I see unnatural an Monster, loosely jointed,
With an Apocalyptic Being's shape,
And limbs and eyes a hundred thousand strong,
And fifty thousand heads; which coils itself
About the buildings there.
SPIRIT OF THE YEARS
Thou dost indeed.
It is the Monster Devastation. Watch.
Round the church they fight without quarter, shooting face to face,
stabbing with unfixed bayonets, and braining with the butts of
muskets. The village catches fire, and soon becomes a furnace.
The crash of splitting timbers as doors are broken through, the
curses of the fighters, rise into the air, with shouts of "En
avant!" from the further side of the stream, and "Vorwarts!" from
The battle extends to the west by Le Hameau and Saint-Amand la Haye;
and Ligny becomes invisible under a shroud of smoke.
VOICES (at the base of the mill)
This sun will go down bloodily for us!
The English, sharply sighed for by Prince Blucher,
Cannot appear. Wellington words across
That hosts have set on him at Quatre-Bras,
And leave him not one bayonet to spare!
The truth of this intelligence is apparent. A low dull sound heard
lately from the direction of Quatre-Bras has increased to a roaring
cannonade. The scene abruptly closes.
THE FIELD AT QUATRE-BRAS
[The same day. The view is southward, and the straight gaunt
highway from Brussels (behind the spectator) to Charleroi over
the hills in front, bisects the picture from foreground to
distance. Near at hand, where it is elevated and open, there
crosses it obliquely, at a point called Les Quatre-Bras, another
road which comes from Nivelle, five miles to the gazer's right
rear, and goes to Namur, twenty miles ahead to the left. At a
distance of five or six miles in this latter direction it passes
near the previous scene, Ligny, whence the booming of guns can
be continuously heard.
Between the cross-roads in the centre of the scene and the far
horizon the ground dips into a hollow, on the other side of which
the same straight road to Charleroi is seen climbing the crest,
and over it till out of sight. From a hill on the right hand of
the mid-distance a large wood, the wood of Bossu, reaches up
nearly to the crossways, which give their name to the buildings
thereat, consisting of a few farm-houses and an inn.
About three-quarters of a mile off, nearly hidden by the horizon
towards Charleroi, there is also a farmstead, Gemioncourt; another,
Piraumont, stands on an eminence a mile to the left of it, and
somewhat in front of the Namur road.]
As this scene uncovers the battle is beheld to be raging at its
height, and to have reached a keenly tragic phase. WELLINGTON has
returned from Ligny, and the main British and Hanoverian position,
held by the men who marched out of Brussels in the morning, under
officers who danced the previous night at the Duchess's, is along
the Namur road to the left of the perspective, and round the cross-
road itself. That of the French, under Ney, is on the crests further
back, from which they are descending in imposing numbers. Some
advanced columns are assailing the English left, while through the
smoke-hazes of the middle of the field two lines of skirmishers
are seen firing at each other--the southernmost dark blue, the
northernmost dull red. Time lapses till it is past four o'clock.
SPIRIT OF RUMOUR
The cannonade of the French ordnance-lines
Has now redoubled. Columns new and dense
Of foot, supported by fleet cavalry,
Straightly impinge upon the Brunswick bands
That border the plantation of Bossu.
Above some regiments of the assaulting French
A flag like midnight swims upon the air,
To say no quarter may be looked for there!
The Brunswick soldiery, much notched and torn by the French grape-
shot, now lie in heaps. The DUKE OF BRUNSWICK himself, desperate
to keep them steady, lights his pipe, and rides slowly up and down
in front of his lines previous to the charge which follows.
SPIRIT OF RUMOUR
The French have heaved them on the Brunswickers,
And borne them back. Now comes the Duke's told time.
He gallops at the head of his hussars--
Those men of solemn and appalling guise,
Full-clothed in black, with nodding hearsy plumes,
A shining silver skull and cross of bones
Set upon each, to byspeak his slain sire. . . .
Concordantly, the expected bullet starts
And finds the living son.
BRUNSWICK reels to the ground. His troops, disheartened, lose their
courage and give way.
The French front columns, and the cavalry supporting them, shout
as they advance. The Allies are forced back upon the English main
position. WELLINGTON is in personal peril for a time, but he escapes
it by a leap of his horse.
A curtain of smoke drops. An interval. The curtain reascends.
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
Behold again the Dynasts' gory gear!
Since we regarded, what has progressed here?
RECORDING ANGEL (in recitative)
Musters of English foot and their allies
Came palely panting by the Brussels way,
And, swiftly stationed, checked their counter-braves.
Ney, vexed by lack of like auxiliaries,
Bade then the columned cuirassiers to charge
In all their edged array of weaponcraft.
Yea; thrust replied to thrust, and fire to fire;
The English broke, till Picton prompt to prop them
Sprang with fresh foot-folk from the covering rye.
Next, Pire's cavalry took up the charge. . . .
And so the action sways. The English left
Is turned at Piraumont; whilst on their right
Perils infest the greenwood of Bossu;
Wellington gazes round with dubious view;
England's long fame in fight seems sepulchered,
And ominous roars swell loudlier Ligny-ward.
SPIRIT OF RUMOUR
New rage has wrenched the battle since thou'st writ;
Hot-hasting succours of light cannonry
Lately come up, relieve the English stress;
Kellermann's cuirassiers, both man and horse
All plated over with the brass of war,
Are rolling on the highway. More brigades
Of British, soiled and sweltering, now are nigh,
Who plunge within the boscage of Bossu;
Where in the hidden shades and sinuous creeps
Life-struggles can be heard, seen but in peeps.
Therewith the foe's accessions harass Ney,
Racked that no needful d'Erlon darks the way!
Inch by inch NEY has to draw off: WELLINGTON promptly advances. At
dusk NEY'S army finds itself back at Frasnes, where he meets D'ERLON
coming up to his assistance, too late.
The weary English and their allies, who have been on foot ever since
one o'clock the previous morning, prepare to bivouac in front of the
cross-roads. Their fires flash up for a while; and by and by the
dead silence of heavy sleep hangs over them. WELLINGTON goes into
his tent, and the night darkens.
A Prussian courier from Ligny enters, who is conducted into the tent
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
What tidings can a courier bring that count
Here, where such mighty things are native born?
RECORDING ANGEL (in recitative)
The fury of the tumult there begun
Scourged quivering Ligny through the afternoon:
Napoleon's great intent grew substantive,
And on the Prussian pith and pulse he bent
His foretimed blow. Blucher, to butt the shock,
Called up his last reserves, and heading on,
With blade high brandished by his aged arm,
Spurred forward his white steed. But they, outspent,
Failed far to follow. Darkness coped the sky,
And storm, and rain with thunder. Yet once more
He cheered them on to charge. His horse, the while,
Pierced by a bullet, fell on him it bore.
He, trampled, bruised, faint, and in disarray
Dragged to another mount, was led away.
His ragged lines withdraw from sight and sound,
And their assailants camp upon the ground.
The scene shuts with midnight.
BRUSSELS. THE PLACE ROYALE
[The same night, dark and sultry. A crowd of citizens throng the
broad Place. They gaze continually down the Rue de Namur, along
which arrive minute by minute carts and waggons laden with wounded
men. Other wounded limp into the city on foot. At much greater
speed enter fugitive soldiers from the miscellaneous contingents
of WELLINGTON'S army at Quatre-Bras, who gesticulate and explain
to the crowd that all is lost and that the French will soon be in
Baggage-carts and carriages, with and without horses, stand before
an hotel, surrounded by a medley of English and other foreign
nobility and gentry with their valets and maids. Bulletins from
the battlefield are affixed on the corner of the Place, and people
peer at them by the dim oil lights.
A rattle of hoofs reaches the ears, entering the town by the same
Namur gate. The riders disclose themselves to be Belgian hussars,
also from the field.]
The French approach! Wellington is beaten. Bonaparte is at our heels.
[Consternation reaches a climax. Horses are hastily put-to at the
hotel: people crowd into the carriages and try to drive off. They
get jammed together and hemmed in by the throng. Unable to move
they quarrel and curse despairingly in sundry tongues.]
Affix the new bulletin. It is a more assuring one, and may quiet
them a little.
[A new bulletin is nailed over the old one.]
Good people, calm yourselves. No victory has been won by Bonaparte.
The noise of guns heard all the afternoon became fainter towards the
end, showing beyond doubt that the retreat was away from the city.
The French are said to be forty thousand strong at Les Quatre-Bras,
and no forty thousand British marched out against them this morning!
And it is whispered that the city archives and the treasure-chest
have been sent to Antwerp!
Only as a precaution. No good can be gained by panic. Sixty or
seventy thousand of the Allies, all told, face Napoleon at this
hour. Meanwhile who is to attend to the wounded that are being
brought in faster and faster? Fellow-citizens, do your duty by
these unfortunates, and believe me that when engaged in such an
act of mercy no enemy will hurt you.
What can we do?
I invite all those who have such, to bring mattresses, sheets, and
coverlets to the Hotel de Ville, also old linen and lint from the
houses of the cures.
[Many set out on this errand. An interval. Enter a courier, who
speaks to the MAYOR and the BARON CAPELLEN.]
BARON CAPELLEN (to Mayor)
Better inform them immediately, to prevent a panic.
MAYOR (to Citizens)
I grieve to tell you that the Duke of Brunswick, whom you saw ride
out this morning, was killed this afternoon at Les Quatre-Bras. A
musket-ball passed through his bridle-hand and entered his belly.
His body is now arriving. Carry yourselves gravely.
[A lane is formed in the crowd in the direction of the Rue de
Namur; they wait. Presently an extemporized funeral procession,
with the body of the DUKE on a gun-carriage, and a small escort
of Brunswickers with carbines reversed, comes slowly up the
street, their silver death's-heads shining in the lamplight.
The agitation of the citizens settles into a silent gloom as
the mournful train passes.]
MAYOR (to Baron Capellen)
I noticed the strange look of prepossession on his face at the ball
last night, as if he knew what was going to be.
The Duchess mentioned it to me. . . . He hated the French, if any
man ever did, and so did his father before him! Here comes the
English Colonel Hamilton, straight from the field. He will give
us trustworthy particulars.
[Enter COLONEL HAMILTON by the Rue de Namur. He converses with
the MAYOR and the BARON on the issue of the struggle.]
Now I will go the Hotel de Ville, and get it ready for those wounded
who can find no room in private houses.
[Exeunt MAYOR, CAPELLEN, D'URSEL, HAMILTON, etc. severally. Many
citizens descend in the direction of the Hotel de Ville to assist.
Those who remain silently watch the carts bringing in the wounded
till a late hour. The doors of houses in the Place and elsewhere
are kept open, and the rooms within lighted, in expectation of
more arrivals from the field. A courier gallops up, who is accosted
The Prussians are defeated at Ligny by Napoleon in person. He will
be here to-morrow.
The devil! Then I am for welcoming him. No Antwerp for me!
OTHER IDLERS (sotto voce)
[A warm summer fog from the Lower Town covers the Parc and the
THE ROAD TO WATERLOO
[The view is now from Quatre-Bras backward along the road by
which the English arrived. Diminishing in a straight line from
the foreground to the centre of the distance it passes over Mont
Saint-Jean and through Waterloo to Brussels.
It is now tinged by a moving mass of English and Allied infantry,
in retreat to a new position at Mont Saint-Jean. The sun shines
brilliantly upon the foreground as yet, but towards Waterloo and
the Forest of Soignes on the north horizon it is overcast with
black clouds which are steadily advancing up the sky.
To mask the retreat the English outposts retain their position
on the battlefield in the face of NEY'S troops, and keep up a
desultory firing: the cavalry for the same reason remain, being
drawn up in lines beside the intersecting Namur road.
Enter WELLINGTON, UXBRIDGE (who is in charge of the cavalry),
MUFFLING, VIVIAN, and others. They look through their field-
glasses towards Frasnes, NEY'S position since his retreat
yesternight, and also towards NAPOLEON'S at Ligny.]
The noonday sun, striking so strongly there,
Makes mirrors of their arms. That they advance
Their glowing radiance shows. Those gleams by Marbais
Suggest fixed bayonets.
Vivian's glass reveals
That they are cuirassiers. Ney's troops, too, near
At last, methinks, along this other road.
One thing is sure: that here the whole French force
Schemes to unite and sharply follow us.
It formulates our fence. The cavalry
Must linger here no longer; but recede
To Mont Saint-Jean, as rearguard of the foot.
From the intelligence that Gordon brings
'Tis pretty clear old Blucher had to take
A damned good drubbing yesterday at Ligny,
And has been bent hard back! So that, for us,
Bound to the plighted plan, there is no choice
But do like. . . . No doubt they'll say at home
That we've been well thrashed too. It can't be helped,
They must! . . . (He looks round at the sky.) A heavy rainfall
To make it all the worse!
[The speaker and his staff ride off along the Brussels road in
the rear of the infantry, and UXBRIDGE begins the retreat of the
cavalry. CAPTAIN MERCER enters with a light battery.]
Look back, my lord;
Is it not Bonaparte himself we see
Upon the road I have come by?
UXBRIDGE (looking through glass)
Yes, by God;
His face as clear-cut as the edge of a cloud
The sun behind shows up! His suite and all!
Fire--fire! And aim you well.
[The battery makes ready and fires.]
No! It won't do.
He brings on mounted ordnance of his Guard,
So we're in danger here. Then limber up,
And off as soon as may be.
[The English artillery and cavalry retreat at full speed, just as
the weather bursts, with flashes of lightning and drops of rain.
They all clatter off along the Brussels road, UXBRIDGE and his
aides galloping beside the column; till no British are left at
Quatre-Bras except the slain.
The focus of the scene follows the retreating English army, the
highway and its and margins panoramically gliding past the vision
of the spectator. The phantoms chant monotonously while the retreat
CHORUS OF RUMOURS (aerial music)
Day's nether hours advance; storm supervenes
In heaviness unparalleled, that screens
With water-woven gauzes, vapour-bred,
The creeping clumps of half-obliterate red--
Severely harassed past each round and ridge
By the inimical lance. They gain the bridge
And village of Genappe, in equal fence
With weather and the enemy's violence.
--Cannon upon the foul and flooded road,
Cavalry in the cornfields mire-bestrowed,
With frothy horses floundering to their knees,
Make wayfaring a moil of miseries!
Till Britishry and Bonapartists lose
Their clashing colours for the tawny hues
That twilight sets on all its stealing tinct imbues.
[The rising ground of Mont Saint-Jean, in front of Waterloo,
is gained by the English vanguard and main masses of foot, and
by degrees they are joined by the cavalry and artillery. The
French are but little later in taking up their position amid
the cornfields around La Belle Alliance.
Fires begin to shine up from the English bivouacs. Camp kettles
are slung, and the men pile arms and stand round the blaze to dry
themselves. The French opposite lie down like dead men in the
dripping green wheat and rye, without supper and without fire.
By and by the English army also lies down, the men huddling
together on the ploughed mud in their wet blankets, while some
sleep sitting round the dying fires.]
CHORUS OF THE YEARS (aerial music)
The eyelids of eve fall together at last,
And the forms so foreign to field and tree
Lie down as though native, and slumber fast!
CHORUS OF THE PITIES
Sore are the thrills of misgiving we see
In the artless champaign at this harlequinade,
Distracting a vigil where calm should be!
The green seems opprest, and the Plain afraid
Of a Something to come, whereof these are the proofs,--
Neither earthquake, nor storm, nor eclipses's shade!
CHORUS OF THE YEARS
Yea, the coneys are scared by the thud of hoofs,
And their white scuts flash at their vanishing heels,
And swallows abandon the hamlet-roofs.
The mole's tunnelled chambers are crushed by wheels,
The lark's eggs scattered, their owners fled;
And the hedgehog's household the sapper unseals.
The snail draws in at the terrible tread,
But in vain; he is crushed by the felloe-rim
The worm asks what can be overhead,
And wriggles deep from a scene so grim,
And guesses him safe; for he does not know
What a foul red flood will be soaking him!
Beaten about by the heel and toe
Are butterflies, sick of the day's long rheum,
To die of a worse than the weather-foe.
Trodden and bruised to a miry tomb
Are ears that have greened but will never be gold,
And flowers in the bud that will never bloom.
CHORUS OF THE PITIES
So the season's intent, ere its fruit unfold,
Is frustrate, and mangled, and made succumb,
Like a youth of promise struck stark and cold! . . .
And what of these who to-night have come?
CHORUS OF THE YEARS
The young sleep sound; but the weather awakes
In the veterans, pains from the past that numb;
Old stabs of Ind, old Peninsular aches,
Old Friedland chills, haunt their moist mud bed,
Cramps from Austerlitz; till their slumber breaks.
CHORUS OF SINISTER SPIRITS
And each soul shivers as sinks his head
On the loam he's to lease with the other dead
From to-morrow's mist-fall till Time be sped!
[The fires of the English go out, and silence prevails, save
for the soft hiss of the rain that falls impartially on both
the sleeping armies.]
THE FIELD OF WATERLOO
[An aerial view of the battlefield at the time of sunrise is
The sky is still overcast, and rain still falls. A green
expanse, almost unbroken, of rye, wheat, and clover, in oblong
and irregular patches undivided by fences, covers the undulating
ground, which sinks into a shallow valley between the French and
English positions. The road from Brussels to Charleroi runs like
a spit through both positions, passing at the back of the English
into the leafy forest of Soignes.
The latter are turning out from their bivouacs. They move stiffly
from their wet rest, and hurry to and fro like ants in an ant-hill.
The tens of thousands of moving specks are largely of a brick-red