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and so dearly purchased, or the renewal of a sanguinary and probably a long-protracted war depended on the issue. Objects of the most coinmanding nature stimulated the leaders on both sides, to give full scope to the extraordinary military talents with which they were endowed. On the one hand, Napoleon boped by a splendid victory, to recover his former character of invincibility, which he had lost by bis late reverses ; to arm the French people once more in defence of a throne to which he had climbed per fas et nefas_and thus again to rivet his yoke on the neck of Continental Europe. On the other hand, the Allied Generals were not less anxious to maintain the high reputation which they had justly acquired, by their successful exertions for the overthrow of that military tyranny, which nothing but universal empire seemed sufficient to satiate. They knew that the eyes of their respective countries—the eyes of Europe were upon them; and that not more was expected from their talents, than from their devoteduess to the cause of justice and independence ; and they nobly justified the confidence that was reposed in them.
Never had Napoleon displayed more vigour and activity than in his preparations for this momentous contest. His troops were collected and equipped with a celerity that at once argued the wisdom of his arrangements, and their enthusiasm in his cause. Having selected his point of attack, he led his followers to the field with a rapidity equal to that which had secured for him the conquest of Italy, and the victories of Ulm, of Austerlitz, and of Jena. But the efforts which succeeded
upon these occasions, proved inadequate to the task of counter-acting the wise combinations of the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Blucher, for the complete annihilation of his army. Though inferior in numerical strength to his adversaries, if united, he could, as the assailant, bring a superior force against either, while they were separated. On this principle he acted, with momentary success. Blucher, alone, had to sustain, and retreat before the fury of his first onset; Wellington, separated by this disaster from his Ally, had to retire from the field, which, on the same day, he had successfully maintained against the impetuous attacks of the French left wing, in order to restore his communications with the Prussians. Pursued by an enemy flushed with victory, and rejoicing in the prospect of the speedy and total ruin of their adversaries, the British chief conducted his army tu that spot which he had previously chosen for meeting the decisive conflict, and there he made such a skilful disposition of his forces, seconded as it was by the dauntless courage and heroic firmness of his followers, as rendered the post impregnable. Some have hazarded an assertion, that but for the opportune arrival of the Prussians, the British must have suffered a total defeat. Such was not Lord Wellington's opinion: On being asked by a friend,
whether at the most critical period of the battle, he looked often to the woods from which the Prussians were expected to issue ; “ No,” was the answer; “ I looked oftener at my watch than at any thing else. I knew if my troops could keep their position till night, that I must be joined by Blucher before morning, and we would not have left Bonaparte an army next day. But,” continued his Grace, “ Iown I was glad as one hour of daylight slipped away after another, and our position was still maintained." “ And if,” said the querist, « by misfortune the position bad been carried ?” “ We had the wood behind to retreat into.” " And if the wood also was forced ?" “ No, no ;" replied the Duke," they could never have so beaten us, but we could have made good the wood against them.”
Never was there a fairer field for exhibiting the military talents of two rival generals, or the pecuJiar military characteristics of two rival nations. --Napoleon, to use his own words bad come to “measure himself with Wellington;” and never did he labour so hard to assert the superiority. He had gained all his victories by what has been technically called the en avant system of tactics, which he knew was best suited to the active, daring, and impetuous character of the French soldier ; and this bis superior numbers, particularly in cavalry and artillery, enabled him to put in practice upon the present occasion with the fullest advan
tage, for never had he led an army to the field who displayed more heroism or ardour in his cause. It was indeed a battle of giants. For more than eight hours, uo maneuvre was exhibited, except a succession of desperate charges on the one side, and a stern resistance on the other, which it was impossible to overcome, How much the heroic and animating conduct of their illustrious chief contributed to the steady perseverance with which the British army maintained the dreadful struggle, we have already seen : wherever danger pressed he was to be found, and his word and his example inspired every phalanx with renewed ardour in their country's cause. His greatest diffi culty was to restrain the impetuosity of the troops, who, wearied of seeing their ranks diminished every moment in a species of inactive warfare, burned to rush upon the foe, and shew them what British courage could do as well as suffer. The decisive moment at length arrived, when they were permitted to prove themselves equally irresistible in attack as immoveable in defence. The eagle eye of Wellington perceived the successful progress of the Prussians on the enemy's right flank, and he resolved to terminate the contest by becoming the assailant. Forgetful of their diminished strength, their fatigues and sufferings, his whole line rushed exultingly to the assault, and in a few minutes, victory the most decisive crowned the gallant effort.
The noble share which the Prussian veteran and
his heroic followers took in accelerating and completing the grand catastrophe of the French army, has crowned them with imperishable laurels. Undismayed by his recent losses, and unaffected by his own personal sufferings, he pressed forward with ardent zeal and loyalty to the aid of his brave Allies; and but for his opportune arrival, Lord Wellington, though he might have been enabled to maintain his position, could not, with his inferior forces, have given the enemy so complete an overthrow as to put it out of their power again to renew the combat. In the eyes of military men,
of military men, the victory of Waterloo must appear to have been the result, not of fortuitous circumstances, but of a well.combined plan for terminating the new war at a single blow. When the Allied Generals perceived that the object of Napoleon was to separate and defeat the two armies in detail, they adopted the most judicious measures to counteract the project of their enterprising adversary, and they completely succeeded. Though Blucher by his defeat on the 16th was compelled to fall back from his advanced position, yet Wellington by his prudent retreat on the following day, again restored the communication which had thus been broken. By this Napoleon was left but a choice of difficulties—to fight the English, with a chance of defeating them before the Prussians could come up; or to retreat in the presence of an army, which in a few hours must