Part 3 out of 16
In the foreground yellow sands spread smoothly, whereon there
are sundry temporary erections for athletic sports; and closer
at hand runs an esplanade on which a fashionable crowd is
promenading. Immediately outside the Lodge are companies of
soldiers, groups of officers, and sentries.
Within the room the KING and PITT are discovered. The KING'S
eyes show traces of recent inflammation, and the Minister has
a wasted look.]
Yes, yes; I grasp your reasons, Mr. Pitt,
And grant you audience gladly. More than that,
Your visit to this shore is apt and timely,
And if it do but yield you needful rest
From fierce debate, and other strains of office
Which you and I in common have to bear,
'Twill be well earned. The bathing is unmatched
Elsewhere in Europe,--see its mark on me!--
The air like liquid life.--But of this matter:
What argue these late movements seen abroad?
What of the country now the session's past;
What of the country, eh? and of the war?
The thoughts I have laid before your Majesty
Would make for this, in sum:--
That Mr. Fox, Lord Grenville, and their friends,
Be straightway asked to join. With Melville gone,
With Sidmouth, and with Buckinghamshire too,
The steerage of affairs has stood of late
Somewhat provisional, as you, sir, know,
With stop-gap functions thrust on offices
Which common weal can tolerate but awhile.
So, for the weighty reasons I have urged,
I do repeat my most respectful hope
To win your Majesty's ungrudged assent
To what I have proposed.
But nothing, sure,
Has been more plain to all, dear Mr. Pitt,
Than that your own proved energy and scope
Is ample, without aid, to carry on
Our just crusade against the Corsican.
Why, then, go calling Fox and Grenville in?
Such helps we need not. Pray you think upon't,
And speak to me again.--We've had alarms
Making us skip like crackers at our heels,
That Bonaparte had landed close hereby.
Such rumours come as regularly as harvest.
And now he has left Boulogne with all his host?
Was it his object to invade at all,
Or was his vast assemblage there a blind?
Undoubtedly he meant invasion, sir,
Had fortune favoured. He may try it yet.
And, as I said, could we but close with Fox---
But, but;--I ask, what is his object now?
Lord Nelson's Captain--Hardy--whose old home
Stands in a peaceful vale hard by us here--
Who came two weeks ago to see his friends,
I talked to in this room a lengthy while.
He says our navy still is in thick night
As to the aims by sea of Bonaparte
Now the Boulogne attempt has fizzled out,
And what he schemes afloat with Spain combined.
The "Victory" lay that fortnight at Spithead,
And Nelson since has gone aboard and sailed;
Yes, sailed again. The "Royal Sovereign" follows,
And others her. Nelson was hailed and cheered
To huskiness while leaving Southsea shore,
Gentle and simple wildly thronging round.
Ay, sir. Young women hung upon his arm,
And old ones blessed, and stroked him with their hands.
Ah--you have heard, of course. God speed him, Pitt.
I read it as a thing
Of signal augury, and one which bodes
Heaven's confidence in me and in my line,
That I should rule as King in such an age! . . .
Well, well.--So this new march of Bonaparte's
Was unexpected, forced perchance on him?
It may be so, your Majesty; it may.
Last noon the Austrian ambassador,
Whom I consulted ere I posted down,
Assured me that his latest papers word
How General Mack and eighty thousand men
Have made good speed across Bavaria
To wait the French and give them check at Ulm,
That fortress-frontier-town, entrenched and walled,
A place long chosen as a vantage-point
Whereon to encounter them as they outwind
From the blind shades and baffling green defiles
Of the Black Forest, worn with wayfaring.
Here Mack will intercept his agile foe
Hasting to meet the Russians in Bohemia,
And cripple him, if not annihilate.
Thus now, sir, opens out this Great Alliance
Of Russia, Austria, England, whereto I
Have lent my earnest efforts through long months,
And the realm gives her money, ships, and men.--
It claps a muffler round the Cock's steel spurs,
And leaves me sanguine on his overthrow.
But, then,--this coalition of resources
Demands a strong and active Cabinet
To aid your Majesty's directive hand;
And thus I urge again the said additions--
These brilliant intellects of the other side
Who stand by Fox. With us conjoined, they---
What, what, again--in face of my sound reasons!
Believe me, Pitt, you underrate yourself;
You do not need such aid. The splendid feat
Of banding Europe in a righteous cause
That you have achieved, so soon to put to shame
This wicked bombardier of dynasties
That rule by right Divine, goes straight to prove
We had best continue as we have begun,
And call no partners to our management.
To fear dilemmas horning up ahead
Is not your wont. Nay, nay, now, Mr. Pitt,
I must be firm. And if you love your King
You'll goad him not so rashly to embrace
This Fox-Grenville faction and its friends.
Rather than Fox, why, give me civil war!
Hey, what? But what besides?
I say besides, sir, . . . nothing!
The Chancellor's here, and many friends of mine: Lady Winchelsea,
Lord and Lady Chesterfield, Lady Bulkeley, General Garth, and Mr.
Phipps the oculist--not the least important to me. He is a worthy
and a skilful man. My eyes, he says, are as marvellously improved
in durability as I know them to be in power. I have arranged to go
to-morrow with the Princesses, and the Dukes of Cumberland, Sussex,
and Cambridge (who are also here) for a ride on the Ridgeway, and
through the Camp on the downs. You'll accompany us there?
I am honoured by your Majesty's commands.
[PITT looks resignedly out of the window.]
What curious structure do I see outside, sir?
It's but a stage, a type of all the world. The burgesses have
arranged it in my honour. At six o'clock this evening there are
to be combats at single-stick to amuse the folk; four guineas
the prize for the man who breaks most heads. Afterward there
is to be a grinning match through horse-collars--a very humorous
sport which I must stay here and witness; for I am interested in
whatever entertains my subjects.
Not one in all the land but knows it, sir.
Now, Mr. Pitt, you must require repose;
Consult your own convenience then, I beg,
On when you leave.
I thank your Majesty.
[He departs as one whose purpose has failed, and the scene shuts.]
BEFORE THE CITY OF ULM
[A prospect of the city from the east, showing in the foreground
a low-lying marshy country bounded in mid-distance by the banks
of the Danube, which, bordered by poplars and willows, flows
across the picture from the left to the Elchingen Bridge near
the right of the scene, and is backed by irregular heights and
terraces of espaliered vines. Between these and the river stands
the city, crowded with old gabled houses and surrounded by walls,
bastions, and a ditch, all the edifices being dominated by the
nave and tower of the huge Gothic Munster.
On the most prominent of the heights at the back--the Michaelsberg
--to the upper-right of the view, is encamped the mass of the
Austrian army, amid half-finished entrenchments. Advanced posts
of the same are seen south-east of the city, not far from the
advanced corps of the French Grand-Army under SOULT, MARMONT,
LANNES, NEY, and DUPONT, which occupy in a semicircle the whole
breadth of the flat landscape in front, and extend across the
river to higher ground on the right hand of the panorama.
Heavy mixed drifts of rain and snow are descending impartially
on the French and on the Austrians, the downfall nearly blotting
out the latter on the hills. A chill October wind wails across
the country, and the poplars yield slantingly to the gusts.]
Drenched peasants are busily at work, fortifying the heights of
the Austrian position in the face of the enemy. Vague companies
of Austrians above, and of the French below, hazy and indistinct
in the thick atmosphere, come and go without apparent purpose
near their respective lines.
Closer at hand NAPOLEON, in his familiar blue-grey overcoat, rides
hither and thither with his marshals, haranguing familiarly the
bodies of soldiery as he passes them, and observing and pointing
out the disposition of the Austrians to his companions.
Thicker sheets of rain fly across as the murk of evening increases,
which at length entirely obscures the prospect, and cloaks its
bleared lights and fires.
ULM. WITHIN THE CITY
[The interior of the Austrian headquarters on the following
morning. A tempest raging without.
GENERAL MACK, haggard and anxious, the ARCHDUKE FERDINAND, PRINCE
SCHWARZENBERG, GENERAL JELLACHICH, GENERALS RIESC, BIBERBACH, and
other field officers discovered, seated at a table with a map
spread out before them. A wood fire blazes between tall andirons
in a yawning fireplace. At every more than usually boisterous
gust of wind the smoke flaps into the room.]
The accursed cunning of our adversary
Confounds all codes of honourable war,
Which ever have held as granted that the track
Of armies bearing hither from the Rhine--
Whether in peace or strenuous invasion--
Should pierce the Schwarzwald, and through Memmingen,
And meet us in our front. But he must wind
And corkscrew meanly round, where foot of man
Can scarce find pathway, stealing up to us
Thiefwise, by out back door! Nevertheless,
If English war-fleets be abreast Boulogne,
As these deserters tell, and ripe to land there,
It destines Bonaparte to pack him back
Across the Rhine again. We've but to wait,
And see him go.
But who shall say if these bright tales be true?
Even then, small matter, your Imperial Highness;
The Russians near us daily, and must soon--
Ay, far within the eight days I have named--
Be operating to untie this knot,
If we hold on.
Conjectures these--no more;
I stomach not such waiting. Neither hope
Has kernel in it. I and my cavalry
With caution, when the shadow fall to-night,
Can bore some hole in this engirdlement;
Outpass the gate north-east; join General Werneck,
And somehow cut our way Bohemia-wards:
Well worth the hazard, in our straitened case!
The body of our force stays here with me.
And I am much surprised, your Highness, much,
You mark not how destructive 'tis to part!
If we wait on, for certain we should wait
In our full strength, compacted, undispersed
By such partition as your Highness plans.
There's truth in urging we should not divide,
But weld more closely.--Yet why stay at all?
Methinks there's but one sure salvation left,
To wit, that we conjunctly march herefrom,
And with much circumspection, towards the Tyrol.
The subtle often rack their wits in vain--
Assay whole magazines of strategy--
To shun ill loomings deemed insuperable,
When simple souls by stumbling up to them
Find the grim shapes but air. But let use grant
That the investing French so ring us in
As to leave not a span for such exploit;
Then go we--throw ourselves upon their steel,
And batter through, or die!--
What say you, Generals? Speak your minds, I pray.
I favour marching out--the Tyrol way.
Bohemia best! The route thereto is open.
My course is chosen. O this black campaign,
Which Pitt's alarmed dispatches pricked us to,
All unforseeing! Any risk for me
Rather than court humiliation here!
[MACK has risen during the latter remarks, walked to the
window, and looked out at the rain. He returns with an air
MACK (to Archduke)
It is my privilege firmly to submit
That your Imperial Highness undertake
No venturous vaulting into risks unknown.--
Assume that you, Sire, as you have proposed,
With your light regiments and the cavalry,
Detach yourself from us, to scoop a way
By circuits northwards through the Rauhe Alps
And Herdenheim, into Bohemia:
Reports all point that you will be attacked,
Enveloped, borne on to capitulate.
What worse can happen here?--
Remember, Sire, the Emperor deputes me,
Should such a clash arise as has arisen,
To exercise supreme authority.
The honour of our arms, our race, demands
That none of your Imperial Highness' line
Be pounded prisoner by this vulgar foe,
Who is not France, but an adventurer,
Imposing on that country for his gain.
But it seems clear to me that loitering here
Is full as like to compass our surrender
As moving hence. And ill it therefore suits
The mood of one of my high temperature
To pause inactive while await me means
Of desperate cure for these so desperate ills!
[The ARCHDUKE FERDINAND goes out. A troubled, silence follows,
during which the gusts call into the chimney, and raindrops spit
on the fire.]
The Archduke bears him shrewdly in this course.
We may as well look matters in the face,
And that we are cooped and cornered is most clear;
Clear it is, too, that but a miracle
Can work to loose us! I have stoutly held
That this man's three years' ostentatious scheme
To fling his army on the tempting shores
Of our Allies the English was a--well--
Scarce other than a trick of thimble-rig
To still us into false security.
Well, I know nothing. None needs list to me,
But, on the whole, to southward seems the course
For lunging, all in force, immediately.
The Will throws Mack again into agitation:
Ho-ho--what he'll do now!
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
Nay, hard one, nay;
The clouds weep for him!
If he must;
And it's good antic at a vacant time!
[MACK goes restlessly to the door, and is heard pacing about
the vestibule, and questioning the aides and other officers
He wavers like this smoke-wreath that inclines
Or north, or south, as the storm-currents rule!
Bring that deserter hither once again.
[A French soldier is brought in, blindfolded and guarded. The
bandage is removed.]
Well, tell us what he says.
AN OFFICER (after speaking to the prisoner in French)
He still repeats
That the whole body of the British strength
Is even now descending on Boulogne,
And that self-preservation must, if need,
Clear us from Bonaparte ere many days,
Who momently is moving.
Still retain him.
[He walks to the fire, and stands looking into it. The soldier
is taken out.]
JELLACHICH (bending over the map in argument with RIESC)
I much prefer our self-won information;
And if we have Marshal Soult at Landsberg here,
(Which seems to be truth, despite this man,)
And Dupont hard upon us at Albeck,
With Ney not far from Gunzburg; somewhere here,
Or further down the river, lurking Lannes,
Our game's to draw off southward--if we can!
I have it. This we'll do. You Jellachich,
Unite with Spangen's troops at Memmingen,
To fend off mischief there. And you, Riesc,
Will make your utmost haste to occupy
The bridge and upper ground at Elchingen,
And all along the left bank of the stream,
Till you observe whereon to concentrate
And sever their connections. I couch here,
And hold the city till the Russians come.
A GENERAL (in a low voice)
Disjunction seems of all expedients worst:
If any stay, then stay should every man,
Gather, inlace, and close up hip to hip,
And perk and bristle hedgehog-like with spines!
The conference is ended, friends, I say,
And orders will be issued here forthwith.
Surely that's from the Michaelsberg above us?
Never care. Here we stay. In five more days
The Russians hail, and we regain our bays.
BEFORE ULM. THE SAME DAY
[A high wind prevails, and rain falls in torrents. An elevated
terrace near Elchingen forms the foreground.]
From the terrace BONAPARTE surveys and dictates operations against
the entrenched heights of the Michaelsberg that rise in the middle
distance on the right above the city. Through the gauze of
descending waters the French soldiery can be discerned climbing
to the attack under NEY.
They slowly advance, recede, re-advance, halt. A time of suspense
follows. Then they are seen in a state of irregular movement, even
confusion; but in the end they carry the heights with the bayonet.
Below the spot whereon NAPOLEON and his staff are gathered,
glistening wet and plastered with mud, obtrudes on the left the
village of Elchingen, now in the hands of the French. Its white-
walled monastery, its bridge over the Danube, recently broken by
the irresistible NEY, wear a desolated look, and the stream, which
is swollen by the rainfall and rasped by the storm, seems wanly to
Anon shells are dropped by the French from the summits they have
gained into the city below. A bomb from an Austrian battery falls
near NAPOLEON, and in bursting raises a fountain of mud. The
Emperor retreats with his officers to a less conspicuous station.
Meanwhile LANNES advances from a position near NAPOLEON till his
columns reach the top of the Frauenberg hard by. The united corps
of LANNES and NEY descend on the inner slope of the heights towards
the city walls, in the rear of the retreating Austrians. One
of the French columns scales a bastion, but NAPOLEON orders the
assault to be discontinued, and with the wane of day the spectacle
THE SAME. THE MICHAELSBERG
[A chilly but rainless noon three days later. At the back of the
scene, northward, rise the Michaelsberg heights; below stretches
the panorama of the city and the Danube. On a secondary eminence
forming a spur of the upper hill, a fire of logs is burning, the
foremost group beside it being NAPOLEON and his staff, the former
in his shabby greatcoat and plain turned-up hat, walking to and
fro with his hands behind him, and occasionally stopping to warm
himself. The French infantry are drawn up in a dense array at
the back of these.
The whole Austrian garrison of Ulm marches out of the city gate
opposite NAPOLEON. GENERAL MACK is at the head, followed by
GIULAY, GOTTESHEIM, KLINAU, LICHTENSTEIN, and many other officers,
who advance to BONAPARTE and deliver their swords.]
Behold me, Sire. Mack the unfortunate!
War, General, ever has its ups and downs,
And you must take the better and the worse
As impish chance or destiny ordains.
Come near and warm you here. A glowing fire
Is life on the depressing, mired, moist days
Of smitten leaves down-dropping clammily,
And toadstools like the putrid lungs of men.
(To his Lieutenants.) Cause them so stand to right and left of me.
[The Austrian officers arrange themselves as directed, and the
body of the Austrians now file past their Conqueror, laying down
their arms as they approach; some with angry gestures and words,
others in moody silence.]
Listen, I pray you, Generals gathered her.
I tell you frankly that I know not why
Your master wages this wild war with me.
I know not what he seeks by such injustice,
Unless to give me practice in my trade--
That of a soldier--whereto I was bred:
Deemed he my craft might slip from me, unplied?
Let him now own me still a dab therein!
Permit me, your Imperial Majesty,
To speak one word in answer; which is this,
No war was wished for by my Emperor:
Russia constrained him to it!
If that be,
You are no more a European power.--
I would point out to him that my resources
Are not confined to these my musters here;
My prisoners of war, in route for France,
Will see some marks of my resources there!
Two hundred thousand volunteers, right fit,
Will join my standards at a single nod,
And in six weeks prove soldiers to the bone,
Whilst you recruits, compulsion's scavengings,
Scarce weld to warriors after toilsome years.
But I want nothing on this Continent:
The English only are my enemies.
Ships, colonies, and commerce I desire,
Yea, therewith to advantage you as me.
Let me then charge your Emperor, my brother,
To turn his feet the shortest way to peace.--
All states must have an end, the weak, the strong;
Ay; even may fall the dynasty of Lorraine!
[The filing past and laying down of arms by the Austrian army
continues with monotonous regularity, as if it would never end.]
NAPOLEON (in a murmur, after a while)
Well, what cares England! She has won her game;
I have unlearnt to threaten her from Boulogne. . . .
Her gold it is that forms the weft of this
Fair tapestry of armies marshalled here!
Likewise of Russia's drawing steadily nigh.
But they may see what these see, by and by.
SPIRIT OF THE YEARS
So let him speak, the while we clearly sight him
Moved like a figure on a lantern-slide.
Which, much amazing uninitiate eyes,
The all-compelling crystal pane but drags
Wither the showman wills.
And yet, my friend,
The Will itself might smile at this collapse
Of Austria's men-at-arms, so drolly done;
Even as, in your phantasmagoric show,
The deft manipulator of the slide
Might smile at his own art.
CHORUS OF THE YEARS (aerial music)
Ah, no: ah, no!
It is impassible as glacial snow.--
Within the Great Unshaken
These painted shapes awaken
A lesser thrill than doth the gentle lave
Of yonder bank by Danube's wandering wave
Within the Schwarzwald heights that give it flow!
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES
But O, the intolerable antilogy
Of making figments feel!
Logic's in that.
It does not, I must own, quite play the game.
CHORUS OF IRONIC SPIRITS (aerial music)
And this day wins for Ulm a dingy fame,
Which centuries shall not bleach from her name!
[The procession of Austrians continues till the scene is hidden
LONDON. SPRING GARDENS
[Before LORD MALMESBURY'S house, on a Sunday morning in the
same autumn. Idlers pause and gather in the background.
PITT enters, and meets LORD MULGRAVE.]
Good day, Pitt. Ay, these leaves that skim the ground
With withered voices, hint that sunshine-time
Is well-nigh past.--And so the game's begun
Between him and the Austro-Russian force,
As second movement in the faceabout
From Boulogne shore, with which he has hocussed us?--
What has been heard on't? Have they clashed as yet?
The Emperor Francis, partly at my instance,
Has thrown the chief command on General Mack,
A man most capable and far of sight.
He centres by the Danube-bank at Ulm,
A town well-walled, and firm for leaning on
To intercept the French in their advance
From the Black Forest toward the Russian troops
Approaching from the east. If Bonaparte
Sustain his marches at the break-neck speed
That all report, they must have met ere now.
--There is a rumour . . . quite impossible! . . .
You still have faith in Mack as strategist?
There have been doubts of his far-sightedness.
I know, I know.--I am calling here at Malmesbury's
At somewhat an unceremonious time
To ask his help to translate this Dutch print
The post has brought. Malmesbury is great at Dutch,
Learning it long at Leyden, years ago.
[He draws a newspaper from his pocket, unfolds it, and glances
There's news here unintelligible to me
Upon the very matter! You'll come in?
[They call at LORD MAMESBURY'S. He meets them in the hall, and
welcomes them with an apprehensive look of foreknowledge.]
Pardon this early call. The packet's in,
And wings me this unreadable Dutch paper,
So, as the offices are closed to-day,
I have brought it round to you.
(Handling the paper.)
What does it say?
For God's sake, read it out. You know the tongue.
MALMESBURY (with hesitation)
I have glanced it through already--more than once--
A copy having reached me, too, by now . . .
We are in the presence of a great disaster!
See here. It says that Mack, enjailed in Ulm
By Bonaparte--from four side shutting round--
Capitulated, and with all his force
Laid down his arms before his conqueror!
[PITT's face changes. A silence.]
Outrageous! Ignominy unparalleled!
By God, my lord, these statement must be false!
These foreign prints are trustless as Cheap Jack
Dumfounding yokels at a country fair.
I heed no word of it.--Impossible.
What! Eighty thousand Austrians, nigh in touch
With Russia's levies that Kutuzof leads,
To lay down arms before the war's begun?
'Tis too much!
But I fear it is too true!
Note the assevered source of the report--
One beyond thought of minters of mock tales.
The writer adds that military wits
Cry that the little Corporal now makes war
In a new way, using his soldiers' legs
And not their arms, to bring him victory.
Ha-ha! The quip must sting the Corporal's foes.
PITT (after a pause)
O vacillating Prussia! Had she moved,
Had she but planted one foot firmly down,
All this had been averted.--I must go.
'Tis sure, 'tis sure, I labour but in vain!
[MALMESBURY accompanies him to the door, and PITT walks away
disquietedly towards Whitehall, the other two regarding him
as he goes.]
Too swiftly he declines to feebleness,
And these things well might shake a stouter frame!
Of late the burden of all Europe's cares,
Of hiring and maintaining half her troops,
His single pair of shoulders has upborne,
Thanks to the obstinacy of the King.--
His thin, strained face, his ready irritation,
Are ominous signs. He may not be for long.
He alters fast, indeed,--as do events.
His labour's lost; and all our money gone!
It looks as if this doughty coalition
On which we have lavished so much pay and pains
Would end in wreck.
All is not over yet;
The gathering Russian forces are unbroke.
Well; we shall see. Should Boney vanquish these,
And silence all resistance on that side,
His move will then be backward to Boulogne,
And so upon us.
Nelson to our defence!
Ay; where is Nelson? Faith, by this time
He may be sodden; churned in Biscay swirls;
Or blown to polar bears by boreal gales;
Or sleeping amorously in some calm cave
On the Canaries' or Atlantis' shore
Upon the bosom of his Dido dear,
For all that we know! Never a sound of him
Since passing Portland one September day--
To make for Cadiz; so 'twas then believed.
He's staunch. He's watching, or I am much deceived.
[MULGRAVE departs. MALMESBURY goes within. The scene shuts.]
OFF CAPE TRAFALGAR
[A bird's eye view of the sea discloses itself. It is daybreak,
and the broad face of the ocean is fringed on its eastern edge
by the Cape and the Spanish shore. On the rolling surface
immediately beneath the eye, ranged more or less in two parallel
lines running north and south, one group from the twain standing
off somewhat, are the vessels of the combined French and Spanish
navies, whose canvases, as the sun edges upward, shine in its
rays like satin.
On the western horizon two columns of ships appear in full sail,
small as moths to the aerial vision. They are bearing down
towards the combined squadrons.]
RECORDING ANGEL I (intoning from his book)
At last Villeneuve accepts the sea and fate,
Despite the Cadiz council called of late,
Whereat his stoutest captains--men the first
To do all mortals durst--
Willing to sail, and bleed, and bear the worst,
Short of cold suicide, did yet opine
That plunging mid those teeth of treble line
In jaws of oaken wood
Held open by the English navarchy
With suasive breadth and artful modesty,
Would smack of purposeless foolhardihood.
RECORDING ANGEL II
But word came, writ in mandatory mood,
To put from Cadiz, gain Toulon, and straight
At a said sign on Italy operate.
Moreover that Villeneuve, arrived as planned,
Would find Rosily in supreme command.--
Gloomy Villeneuve grows rash, and, darkly brave,
Leaps to meet war, storm, Nelson--even the grave.
SEMICHORUS I OF THE YEARS (aerial music)
Ere the concussion hurtle, draw abreast
Of the sea.
Where Nelson's hulls are rising from the west,
Each linen wing outspread, each man and lad
Sworn to be
Amid the vanmost, or for Death, or glad
[The point of sight descends till it is near the deck of the
"Bucentaure," the flag-ship of VILLENEUVE. Present thereupon
are the ADMIRAL, his FLAG-CAPTAIN MAGENDIE, LIEUTENANT
DAUDIGNON, other naval officers and seamen.]
All night we have read their signals in the air,
Whereby the peering frigates of their van
Have told them of our trend.
Makes threat as though to throw him on our stern:
Signal the fleet to wear; bid Gravina
To come in from manoeuvring with his twelve,
And range himself in line.
I say again
Bid Gravina draw hither with his twelve,
And signal all to wear!--and come upon
The larboard tack with every bow anorth!--
So we make Cadiz in the worst event.
And patch our rags up there. As we head now
Our only practicable thoroughfare
Is through Gibraltar Strait--a fatal door!
Signal to close the line and leave no gaps.
Remember, too, what I have already told:
Remind them of it now. They must not pause
For signallings from me amid a strife
Whose chaos may prevent my clear discernment,
Or may forbid my signalling at all.
The voice of honour then becomes the chief's;
Listen they thereto, and set every stitch
To heave them on into the fiercest fight.
Now I will sum up all: heed well the charge;
EACH CAPTAIN, PETTY OFFICER, AND MAN
IS ONLY AT HIS POST WHEN UNDER FIRE.
[The ships of the whole fleet turn their bows from south to
north as directed, and close up in two parallel curved columns,
the concave side of each column being towards the enemy, and
the interspaces of the first column being, in general, opposite
the hulls of the second.]
AN OFFICER (straining his eyes towards the English fleet)
How they skip on! Their overcrowded sail
Bulge like blown bladders in a tripeman's shop
The market-morning after slaughterday!
It's morning before slaughterday with us,
I make so bold to bode!
[The English Admiral is seen to be signalling to his fleet. The
signal is: "ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN TO DO HIS DUTY." A loud
cheering from all the English ships comes undulating on the wind
when the signal is read.]
They are signalling too--Well, business soon begins!
You will reserve your fire. And be it known
That we display no admirals' flags at all
Until the action's past. 'Twill puzzle them,
And work to our advantage when we close.--
Yes, they are double-ranked, I think, like us;
But we shall see anon.
The foremost one
Makes for the "Santa Ana." In such case
The "Fougueux" might assist her.
Be it so--
There's time enough.--Our ships will be in place,
And ready to speak back in iron words
When theirs cry Hail! in the same sort of voice.
[They prepare to receive the northernmost column of the enemy's
ships headed by the "Victory," trying the distance by an occasional
single shot. During their suspense a discharge is heard southward,
and turning they behold COLLINGWOOD at the head of his column in
the "Royal Sovereign," just engaging with the Spanish "Santa Ana."
Meanwhile the "Victory's" mizzen-topmast, with spars and a quantity
of rigging, is seen to have fallen, her wheel to be shot away, and
her deck encumbered with dead and wounded men.]
'Tis well! But see; their course is undelayed,
And still they near in clenched audacity!
Which aim deft Lucas o' the "Redoubtable"
Most gallantly bestirs him to outscheme.--
See, how he strains, that on his timbers fall
Blows that were destined for his Admiral!
[During this the French ship "Redoubtable" is moving forward
to interpose itself between the approaching "Victory" and the
Now comes it! The "Santisima Trinidad,"
The old "Redoubtable's" hard sides, and ours,
Will take the touse of this bombastic blow.
Your grapnels and your boarding-hatchets--ready!
We'll dash our eagle on the English deck,
And swear to fetch it!
Ay! We swear. Huzza
Long live the Emperor!
[But the "Victory" suddenly swerves to the rear of the "Bucentaure,"
and crossing her stern-waters, discharges a broadside into her and
the "Redoubtable" endwise, wrapping the scene in folds of smoke.
The point of view changes.]
THE SAME. THE QUARTER-DECK OF THE "VICTORY"
[The van of each division of the English fleet has drawn to the
windward side of the combined fleets of the enemy, and broken
their order, the "Victory" being now parallel to and alongside
the "Redoubtable," the "Temeraire" taking up a station on the
other side of that ship. The "Bucentaure" and the "Santisima
Trinidad" become jammed together a little way ahead. A smoke
and din of cannonading prevail, amid which the studding-sail
booms are shot away.
NELSON, HARDY, BLACKWOOD, SECRETARY SCOTT, LIEUTENANT PASCO,
BURKE the Purser, CAPTAIN ADAIR of the Marines, and other
officers are on or near the quarter-deck.]
See, there, that noble fellow Collingwood,
How straight he helms his ship into the fire!--
Now you'll haste back to yours (to BLACKWOOD).
--We must henceforth
Trust to the Great Disposer of events,
And justice of our cause! . . .
[BLACKWOOD leaves. The battle grows hotter. A double-headed shot
cuts down seven or eight marines on the "Victory's" poop.]
Captain Adair, part those marines of yours,
And hasten to disperse them round the ship.--
Your place is down below, Burke, not up here;
Ah, yes; like David you would see the battle!
[A heavy discharge of musket-shot comes from the tops of the
"Santisima Trinidad. ADAIR and PASCO fall. Another swathe
of Marines is mowed down by chain-shot.]
My lord, I use to you the utmost prayers
That I have privilege to shape in words:
Remove your stars and orders, I would beg;
That shot was aimed at you.
They were awarded to me as an honour,
And shall I do despite to those who prize me,
And slight their gifts? No, I will die with them,
If die I must.
[He walks up and down with HARDY.]
At least let's put you on
Your old greatcoat, my lord--(the air is keen.).--
'Twill cover all. So while you still retain
Your dignities, you baulk these deadly aims
Thank 'ee, good friend. But no,--I haven't time,
I do assure you--not a trice to spare,
As you well will see.
[A few minutes later SCOTT falls dead, a bullet having pierced
his skull. Immediately after a shot passes between the Admiral
and the Captain, tearing the instep of Hardy's shoe, and striking
away the buckle. They shake off the dust and splinters it has
scattered over them. NELSON glances round, and perceives what
has happened to his secretary.]
Poor Scott, too, carried off! Warm work this, Hardy;
Too warm to go on long.
I think so, too;
Their lower ports are blocked against our hull,
And our charge now is less. Each knock so near
Sets their old wood on fire.
Ay, rotten as peat.
What's that? I think she has struck, or pretty nigh!
[A cracking of musketry.]
Not yet.--Those small-arm men there, in her tops,
Thin our crew fearfully. Now, too, our guns
Have dipped full down, or they would rake
The "Temeraire" there on the other side.
True.--While you deal good measure out to these,
Keep slapping at those giants over here--
The "Trinidad," I mean, and the "Bucentaure,"
To win'ard--swelling up so pompously.
I'll see no slackness shall be shown that way.
[They part and go in their respective directions. Gunners, naked
to the waist and reeking with sweat, are now in swift action on
the several decks, and firemen carry buckets of water hither and
thither. The killed and wounded thicken around, and are being
lifted and examined by the surgeons. NELSON and HARDY meet again.]
Bid still the firemen bring more bucketfuls,
And dash the water into each new hole
Our guns have gouged in the "Redoubtable,"
Or we shall all be set ablaze together.
Let me once more advise, entreat, my lord,
That you do not expose yourself so clearly.
Those fellows in the mizzen-top up there
Are peppering round you quite perceptibly.
Now, Hardy, don't offend me. They can't aim;
They only set their own rent sails on fire.--
But if they could, I would not hide a button
To save ten lives like mine. I have no cause
To prize it, I assure 'ee.--Ah, look there,
One of the women hit,--and badly, too.
Poor wench! Let some one shift her quickly down.
My lord, each humblest sojourner on the seas,
Dock-labourer, lame longshore-man, bowed bargee,
Sees it as policy to shield his life
For those dependent on him. Much more, then,
Should one upon whose priceless presence here
Such issues hang, so many strivers lean,
Use average circumspection at an hour
So critical for us all.
Ay, ay. Yes, yes;
I know your meaning, Hardy,; and I know
That you disguise as frigid policy
What really is your honest love of me.
But, faith, I have had my day. My work's nigh done;
I serve all interests best by chancing it
Here with the commonest.--Ah, their heavy guns
Are silenced every one! Thank God for that.
'Tis so. They only use their small arms now.
[He goes to larboard to see what is progressing on that side
between his ship and the "Santisima Trinidad."]
OFFICER (to seaman)
Swab down these stairs. The mess of blood about
Makes 'em so slippery that one's like to fall
In carrying the wounded men below.
[While CAPTAIN HARDY is still a little way off, LORD NELSON turns
to walk aft, when a ball from one of the muskets in the mizzen-
top of the "Redoubtable" enters his left shoulder. He falls upon
his face on the deck. HARDY looks round, and sees what has
Ah--what I feared, and strove to hide I feared! . . .
[He goes towards NELSON, who in the meantime has been lifted by
SERGEANT-MAJOR SECKER and two seamen.]
Hardy, I think they've done for me at last!
I hope not!
Yes. My backbone is shot through.
I have not long to live.
[The men proceed to carry him below.]
Those tiller ropes
They've torn away, get instantly repaired!
[At sight of him borne along wounded there is great agitation
among the crew.]
Cover my face. There will be no good be done
By drawing their attention off to me.
Bear me along, good fellows; I am but one
Among the many darkened here to-day!
[He is carried on to the cockpit over the crowd of dead and
Doctor, I'm gone. I am waste o' time to you.
HARDY (remaining behind)
Hills, go to Collingwood and let him know
That we've no Admiral here.
[He passes on.]
Now quick and pick him off who did the deed--
That white-bloused man there in the mizzen-top.
POLLARD, a midshipman (shooting)
No sooner said than done. A pretty aim!
[The Frenchman falls dead upon the poop.
The spectacle seems now to become enveloped in smoke, and the
point of view changes.]
THE SAME. ON BOARD THE "BUCENTAURE"
[The bowsprit of the French Admiral's ship is stuck fast in the
stern-gallery of the "Santisima Trinidad," the starboard side of
the "Bucentaure" being shattered by shots from two English three-
deckers which are pounding her on that hand. The poop is also
reduced to ruin by two other English ships that are attacking
her from behind.
On the quarter-deck are ADMIRAL VILLENEUVE, the FLAG-CAPTAIN
MAGENDIE, LIEUTENANTS DAUDIGNON, FOURNIER, and others, anxiously
occupied. The whole crew is in desperate action of battle and
stumbling among the dead and dying, who have fallen too rapidly
to be carried below.]
We shall be crushed if matters go on thus.--
Direct the "Trinidad" to let her drive,
That this foul tangle may be loosened clear!
It has been tried, sir; but she cannot move.
Then signal to the "Hero" that she strive
Once more to drop this way.
We may make signs,
But in the thickened air what signal's marked?--
'Tis done, however.
And "Victory" there,--they grip in dying throes!
Something's amiss on board the English ship.
Surely the Admiral's fallen?
A PETTY OFFICER
Sir, they say
That he was shot some hour, or half, ago.--
With dandyism raised to godlike pitch
He stalked the deck in all his jewellery,
And so was hit.
Then Fortune shows her face!
We have scotched England in dispatching him. (He watches.)
Yes! He commands no more; and Lucas, joying,
Has taken steps to board. Look, spars are laid,
And his best men are mounting at his heels.
Ah, God--he is too late! Whence came the hurl
Of heavy grape? The smoke prevents my seeing
But at brief whiles.--The boarding band has fallen,
Fallen almost to a man.--'Twas well assayed!
That's from their "Temeraire," whose vicious broadside
Has cleared poor Lucas' decks.
And Lucas, too.
I see him no more there. His red planks show
Three hundred dead if one. Now for ourselves!
[Four of the English three-deckers have gradually closed round
the "Bucentaure," whose bowsprit still sticks fast in the gallery
of the "Santisima Trinidad." A broadside comes from one of the
English, resulting in worse havoc on the "Bucentaure." The main
and mizzen masts of the latter fall, and the boats are beaten to
pieces. A raking fire of musketry follows from the attacking
ships, to which the "Bucentaure" heroically continues still to
keep up a reply.
CAPTAIN MAGENDIE falls wounded. His place is taken by LIEUTENANT
Now that the fume has lessened, code my biddance
Upon our only mast, and tell the van
At once to wear, and come into the fire.
(Aside) If it be true that, as HE sneers, success
Demands of me but cool audacity,
To-day shall leave him nothing to desire!
[Musketry continues. DAUDIGNON falls. He is removed, his post
being taken by LIEUTENANT FOURNIER. Another crash comes, and
the deck is suddenly encumbered with rigging.]
There goes our foremast! How for signalling now?
To try that longer, Fournier, is in vain
Upon this haggard, scorched, and ravaged hulk,
Her decks all reeking with such gory shows,
Her starboard side in rents, her stern nigh gone!
How does she keep afloat?--
"Bucentaure," O lucky good old ship!
My part in you is played. Ay--I must go;
I must tempt Fate elsewhere,--if but a boat
Can bear me through this wreckage to the van.
Our boats are stove in, or as full of holes
As the cook's skimmer, from their cursed balls!
[Musketry. VILLENEUVE'S Head-of-Staff, DE PRIGNY, falls wounded,
and many additional men. VILLENEUVE glances troublously from
ship to ship of his fleet.]
How hideous are the waves, so pure this dawn!--
Red-frothed; and friends and foes all mixed therein.--
Can we in some way hail the "Trinidad"
And get a boat from her?
[They attempt to distract the attention of the "Santisima
Trinidad" by shouting.]
Amid the loud combustion of this strife
As well try holloing to the antipodes! . . .
So here I am. The bliss of Nelson's end
Will not be mine; his full refulgent eve
Becomes my midnight! Well; the fleets shall see
That I can yield my cause with dignity.
[The "Bucentaure" strikes her flag. A boat then puts off from the
English ship "Conqueror," and VILLENEUVE, having surrendered his
sword, is taken out from the "Bucentaure." But being unable to
regain her own ship, the boat is picked up by the "Mars," and
the French admiral is received aboard her. Point of view changes.]
THE SAME. THE COCKPIT OF THE "VICTORY"
[A din of trampling and dragging overhead, which is accompanied
by a continuos ground-bass roar from the guns of the warring
fleets, culminating at times in loud concussions. The wounded
are lying around in rows for treatment, some groaning, some
silently dying, some dead. The gloomy atmosphere of the low-
beamed deck is pervaded by a thick haze of smoke, powdered wood,
and other dust, and is heavy with the fumes of gunpowder and
candle-grease, the odour of drugs and cordials, and the smell
from abdominal wounds.
NELSON, his face now pinched and wan with suffering, is lying
undressed in a midshipman's berth, dimly lit by a lantern. DR.
BEATTY, DR. MAGRATH, the Rev. DR. SCOTT the Chaplain, BURKE the
Purser, the Steward, and a few others stand around.]
MAGRATH (in a low voice)
Poor Ram, and poor Tom Whipple, have just gone..
There was no hope for them.
Who have just died?
Two who were badly hit by now, my lord;
Lieutenant Ram and Mr. Whipple.
So many lives--in such a glorious cause. . . .
I join them soon, soon, soon!--O where is Hardy?
Will nobody bring Hardy to me--none?
He must be killed, too. Surely Hardy's dead?
He's coming soon, my lord. The constant call
On his full heed of this most mortal fight
Keeps him from hastening hither as he would.
I'll wait, I'll wait. I should have thought of it.
[Presently HARDY comes down. NELSON and he grasp hands.]
Hardy, how goes the day with us and England?
Well; very well, thank God for't, my dear lord.
Villeneuve their Admiral has this moment struck,
And put himself aboard the "Conqueror."
Some fourteen of their first-rates, or about,
Thus far we've got. The said "Bucentaure" chief:
The "Santa Ana," the "Redoubtable,"
The "Fougueux," the "Santisima Trinidad,"
"San Augustino, "San Francisco," "Aigle";
And our old "Swiftsure," too, we've grappled back,
To every seaman's joy. But now their van
Has tacked to bear round on the "Victory"
And crush her by sheer weight of wood and brass:
Three of our best I am therefore calling up,
And make no doubt of worsting theirs, and France.
That's well. I swore for twenty.--But it's well.
We'll have 'em yet! But without you, my lord,
We have to make slow plodding do the deeds
That sprung by inspiration ere you fell;
And on this ship the more particularly.
No, Hardy.--Ever 'twas your settled fault
So modestly to whittle down your worth.
But I saw stuff in you which admirals need
When, taking thought, I chose the "Victory's" keel
To do my business with these braggarts in.
A business finished now, for me!--Good friend,
Slow shades are creeping me. . . I scarce see you.
The smoke from ships upon our win'ard side,
And the dust raised by their worm-eaten hulks,
When our balls touch 'em, blind the eyes, in truth.
No; it is not that dust; 'tis dust of death
That darkens me.
[A shock overhead. HARDY goes up. On or two other officers go up,
and by and by return.]
What was that extra noise?
The "Formidable' passed us by, my lord,
And thumped a stunning broadside into us.--
But, on their side, the "Hero's" captain's fallen;
The "Algeciras" has been boarded, too,
By Captain Tyler, and the captain shot:
Admiral Gravina desperately holds out;
They say he's lost an arm.
And we, ourselves--
Who have we lost on board here? Nay, but tell me!
Besides poor Scott, my lord, and Charles Adair,
Lieutenant Ram, and Whipple, captain's clerk,
There's Smith, and Palmer, midshipmen, just killed.
And fifty odd of seamen and marines.
Poor youngsters! Scarred old Nelson joins you soon.
And wounded: Bligh, lieutenant; Pasco, too,
and Reeves, and Peake, lieutenants of marines,
And Rivers, Westphall, Bulkeley, midshipmen,
With, of the crew, a hundred odd just now,
Unreckoning those late fallen not brought below.
That fellow in the mizzen-top, my lord,
Who made it his affair to wing you thus,
We took good care to settle; and he fell
Like an old rook, smack from his perch, stone dead.
'Twas not worth while!--He was, no doubt, a man
Who in simplicity and sheer good faith
Strove but to serve his country. Rest be to him!
And may his wife, his friends, his little ones,
If such be had, be tided through their loss,
And soothed amid the sorrow brought by me.
Who's that? Ah--here you come! How, Hardy, now?
The Spanish Admiral's rumoured to be wounded,
We know not with what truth. But, be as 'twill,
He sheers away with all he could call round,
And some few frigates, straight to Cadiz port.
[A violent explosion is heard above the confused noises on deck.
A midshipman goes above and returns.]
MIDSHIPMAN (in the background)
It is the enemy's first-rate, the "Achille,"
Blown to a thousand atoms!--While on fire,
Before she burst, the captain's woman there,
Desperate for life, climbed from the gunroom port
Upon the rudder-chains; stripped herself stark,
And swam for the Pickle's boat. Our men in charge,
Seeing her great breasts bulging on the brine,
Sang out, "A mermaid 'tis, by God!"--then rowed
And hauled her in.--
Such unbid sights obtrude
On death's dyed stage!
Meantime the "Achille" fought on,
Even while the ship was blazing, knowing well
The fire must reach their powder; which it did.
The spot is covered now with floating men,
Some whole, the main in parts; arms, legs, trunks, heads,
Bobbing with tons of timber on the waves,
And splinter looped with entrails of the crew.
Our course will be to anchor. Let me know.
But let me ask, my lord, as needs I must,
Seeing your state, and that our work's not done,
Shall I, from you, bid Admiral Collingwood
Take full on him the conduct of affairs?
NELSON (trying to raise himself)
Not while I live, I hope! No, Hardy; no.
Give Collingwood my order. Anchor all!
You mean the signal's to be made forthwith?
I do!--By God, if but our carpenter
Could rig me up a jury-backbone now,
To last one hour--until the battle's done,
I'd see to it! But here I am--stove in--
Broken--all logged and done for! Done, ay done!
BEATTY (returning from the other wounded)
My lord, I must implore you to lie calm!
You shorten what at best may not be long.
I know, I know, good Beatty! Thank you well
Hardy, I was impatient. Now I am still.
Sit here a moment, if you have time to spare?
[BEATTY and others retire, and the two abide in silence, except
for the trampling overhead and the moans from adjoining berths.
NELSON is apparently in less pain, seeming to doze.]
What are you thinking, that you speak no word?
HARDY (waking from a short reverie)
Thoughts all confused, my lord:--their needs on deck,
Your own sad state, and your unrivalled past;
Mixed up with flashes of old things afar--
Old childish things at home, down Wessex way.
In the snug village under Blackdon Hill
Where I was born. The tumbling stream, the garden,
The placid look of the grey dial there,
Marking unconsciously this bloody hour,
And the red apples on my father's trees,
Just now full ripe.
Ay, thus do little things
Steal into my mind, too. But ah, my heart
Knows not your calm philosophy!--There's one--
Come nearer to me, Hardy.--One of all,
As you well guess, pervades my memory now;
She, and my daughter--I speak freely to you.
'Twas good I made that codicil this morning
That you and Blackwood witnessed. Now she rests
Safe on the nation's honour. . . . Let her have
My hair, and the small treasured things I owned,
And take care of her, as you care for me!
NELSON (resuming in a murmur)
Does love die with our frame's decease, I wonder,
Or does it live on ever? . . .
[A silence. BEATTY approaches.]
Now I'll leave,
See if your order's gone, and then return.
NELSON (symptoms of death beginning to change his face)
Yes, Hardy; yes; I know it. You must go.--
Here we shall meet no more; since Heaven forfend
That care for me should keep you idle now,
When all the ship demands you. Beatty, too.
Go to the others who lie bleeding there;
Them can you aid. Me you can render none!
My time here is the briefest.--If I live
But long enough I'll anchor. . . . But--too late--
My anchoring's elsewhere ordered! . . . Kiss me, Hardy:
[HARDY bends over him.]
I'm satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty!
[HARDY brushes his eyes with his hand, and withdraws to go above,
pausing to look back before he finally disappears.]
BEATTY (watching Nelson)
Ah!--Hush around! . . .
He's sinking. It is but a trifle now
Of minutes with him. Stand you, please, aside,
And give him air.
[BEATTY, the Chaplain, MAGRATH, the Steward, and attendants
continue to regard NELSON. BEATTY looks at his watch.]
Two hours and fifty minutes since he fell,
And now he's going.
[They wait. NELSON dies.]
Yes. . . . He has homed to where
There's no more sea.
We'll let the Captain know,
Who will confer with Collingwood at once.
I must now turn to these.
[He goes to another part of the cockpit, a midshipman ascends to
the deck, and the scene overclouds.]
CHORUS OF THE PITIES (aerial music)
His thread was cut too slowly! When he fell.
And bade his fame farewell,
He might have passed, and shunned his long-drawn pain,
Endured in vain, in vain!
SPIRIT OF THE YEARS
Young Spirits, be not critical of That
Which was before, and shall be after you!
SPIRIT OF THE PITIES