« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
silence and glistening eyes of the rough diggers hanging on his voice, out bursts in that distant land his English song.
It swelled his little throat and gushed from him with thrilling force and plenty, and every time he checked his song to think of its theme, the green meadows, the quiet, stealing streams, the clover he first soared from and the spring he sang so well, a loud sigh from many a rough bosom, many a wild and wicked heart, told how tight the listeners had held their breath to hear him; and when he swelled with song again, and poured with all his soul the green meadows, the quiet brooks, the honey clover, and the English spring, the rugged mouths opened and so stayed, and the shaggy lips trembled, and more than one drop trickled from fierce, unbridled hearts down bronzed and rugged cheeks.
Dulce domum !
And these shaggy men, full of oaths, and strife, and cupidity, had once been white-headed boys, and had strolled about the English fields with little sisters and little brothers, and seen the lark rise and heard him sing this very song. The little playmates lay in the churchyard, and they were full of oaths, and drink, and lusts, and remorses, but no note was changed in this immortal song. And so for a moment or two years of vice rolled away like a dark cloud from the memory, and the past shone out in the song-shine : they came back bright as the immortal notes that lighted them, those faded pictures, and those fleeted days ; the cottage, the old mother's tears when he left her without one grain of sorrow; the village church and its simple chimes; the clover field hard by in which he lay and gambolled, while the lark praised God overhead; the chubby play-mates that never grew to be wicked, the sweet hours of youth, and innocence, and home.
EXERCISE.--51. PARSING, ETC. 1. Parse the nouns in the first paragraph, and make a list of the prepositions, with the words they govern.
2. Analyse the following :-“Robinson's merriment was interrupted by a harsh remonstrance from several of the diggers, who were all from the other end of the camp.”
3. In what month did the events above narrated take place? 4. What is stated that is contrary to our experience of the season in England ? and show why the author's statements are true.
THE BATTLES OF WELLINGTON. de-ci-sive [L. decido, to determine, from de, away; cælo, to cut], final, positive, that which cannot be disputed. con-ven-tion (L. con, together, venio, to come), a temporary treaty, an agreement, an assembly. mem-or-a-ble [L, memor, minuful], worthy of remembrance. ARTHUR WELLESLEY, the greatest general that England has yet had, was born in 1769, and entered the army at the early age of eighteen. He was thirty years old, however, before he had an opportunity of distinguishing himself, which was in India, where he displayed, in 1803, the highest military genius, fighting and winning the battle of Assaye, which as a victory rivals that of Plassey. Having secured peace to England in India, Wellesley returned to his own country ; and, after being engaged in minor services, was sent to the Peninsula. Napoleon Bonaparte, who had raised himself to the position of Emperor of France, and who had fought against and conquered every European nation except England and Spain, was at that time pouring troops into the latter country with a view to subdue it also. The Spaniards resisted, but being weak and divided among themselves, they sent a cry for help to England, a cry which the British government, for its own sake as well as that of the Spaniards, gladly listened to. Ten thousand men were accordingly sent out under General Wellesley, and thus commenced the famous Peninsular War in 1808.
Landing in Portugal, Wellesley drove the French before him, defeating them in the
decisive battle of Vimiera, which led to their evacuation of Portugal, the terms of which were laid down in a convention at Cintra. Had Wellesley been entirely his own master, he would not have allowed the French to get off so easily ; but, unfortunately he was overruled by superiors, and, for a time, indeed, recalled. Sir John Moore next took the command, and won the battle of Corunna, which had no result save glory to the British arms, the leader himself being killed in the disastrous retreat which he was obliged to make, and buried hastily within sight of the sea.
In 1809 Sir Arthur Wellesley was again sent to the Peninsula, and landing at Lisbon, marched northwards and
drove Marshal Soult from Oporto, the English soldiers eating the dinner which the French had cooked. Shortly after, he won the splendid victory of Talavera, in which fell 10,000 French and 5000 English,
“ To feed the crows on Talavera's plains." Enraged at the defeat of his best generals, and at the success of the English in Spain, Napoleon now prepared a large force which he considered overwhelming, and sent it into the Peninsula under Marshal Massena. Wellesley, with great prudence, a quality as necessary in a soldier as daring, retired into Portugal, where, in the narrow neck of land between the river Tagus and the sea, he entrenched himself behind a position which he had selected and fortified with great care, and which is known as “the lines of Torres Vedras." The selection of these lines indeed was the master-piece of Wellesley's generalship in the Peninsula, and but for them he might have had to share the fate of Sir John Moore. Unable to make any impression on the lines, Massena was obliged to begin what proved to be a lasting retreat. The British followed, driving the French before them, gaining many memorable victories and taking many fortresses. The year 1812 is especially memorable in the great drama of war that followed : in January the strong fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo fell, in April Badajoz was taken by assault, and in July was fought the glorious battle of Salamanca, which enabled Wellington to enter Madrid.
Another campaign ended the war in the Peninsula. While Napoleon was striving to retrieve the awful losses he had sustained in his disastrous retreat from Moscow, by a desperate struggle with his enemies in northern Germany, Wellington led his army, without a halt, from the borders of Portugal to the Ebro, and from the Ebro to the field of Vittoria, where, in June, 1813, he defeated the French and drove them across the Pyrenees. Still pursuing the foe, he pushed on, and taking every fortress in his way, entered France. In 1814, he captured Bayonne, and defeated Soult at Orthez and Toulouse, the latter victory being scarcely won when news came that Napoleon, after being defeated at the battle of Leipsic, had been driven back to the gates of Paris. The Emperor now gave up the struggle, and, abdicating his office, was allowed to retire to the island of Elba, which had been assigned to him as a place of exile.
There was great joy over the whole of Europe at Napoleon's fall. In England the rejoicing was unbounded, and the “hero of a hundred fights” was loaded with honours. After an absence of five years from his native land, during which time he had been created successively, baron, viscount, earl, marquis, and duke, Wellington returned to take possession of his dignities, and was everywhere received with shouts of joy. He was not allowed a lengthened rest, however, for next year news arrived that Napoleon had escaped from Elba. All Europe flew to arms, and England sent her“Iron Duke” to take part in the expected struggle. At the head of one of the finest armies that were ever raised, and saying, “ I go to measure myself with Wellington," Napoleon marched northwards with hasty strides to Brussels, where the allied armies had gathered, and where the sound of his cannon broke on the ears of the chief oslicers as they joined in the festive dance.
“ There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered then
Her beauty and her chivalry.” The two generals met on the field of Waterloo, where on the 18th of June, 1815, was fought the battle of that name of which England is justly proud. Napoleon had eighty thousand men, and Wellington eight thousand less, of which united number sixty thousand were slain on that summer day.
“Rider and horse, friend, foe, in one red burial blent.” The battle raged from noon till night, the two armies being ranged on opposite eminences, witli a broad valley between, in which the "tug of war” was mainly kept up. Wellington acted solely on the defensive till the close, though his men often urged him to lead them on to the attack. “Not yet, my men, not yet,” he replied, as shower after shower of shot thinned their ranks, and squadrons of cavalry trampled over them. The English Life Guards, the Irish Dragoons, and the Scots Greys alike distinguished themselves, and stood unbroken; while the French cavalry hovered in clouds around them. Late in the evening