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considerably higher than the champaign district which it traverses. At length, you spy the top of a poor-looking spire or two, not rising proudly preeminent from a group of buildings, but exhibiting their slender and mean pinnacles above the surrounding glacis, as if they belonged to a subterranean city, or indicated the former situation of one which had been levelled with the ground. The truth is, that the buildings of the town, being sunk to a considerable depth beneath the sloping ramparts by which it is surrounded and protected, are completely hidden, and the defences themselves, to an inexperienced eye, present nothing but huge sloping banks of earth, cut into fanciful shapes and angles, and carefully faced with green turf. Yet the arrangement of these simple barriers, with reference to the command of each other, as well as of the neighbouring country, has been held, and I doubt not justly, the very perfection of military science. And, upon a nearer approach, even the picturesque traveller finds some gratification. This is chiefly experienced upon his entrance into the town. Here, turning at a short angle into a deep and narrow avenue, running through those mounds, which at a distance seemed so pacific and unimportant, he finds himself still excluded by drawbridges and ditches, while guns, placed upon the adjoining batteries, seem ready to sweep the ground which he traverses. Still moving forward, he rolls over drawbridges, whose planks clatter under the feet of his horses, and through vaulted arches, which resound to the eternal smack of his driver's whip. He is questioned by whiskered sentinels, his passports carefully examined, and his name recorded in the orderly-book; and it is only after these precautions that a stranger, though as unwarlike as myself, is permitted to enter the town. The impression is a childish one; yet a Briton feels some degree of unpleasant restraint, not only at undergoing a scrutiny, to which he is so little accustomed, but even from the consciousness of entering a place guarded with such scrupulous minuteness. It is needless to tell you, my dear Major, how much this is a maller of general routine in fortified places on the continent, and how soon the traveller becomes used to it as a matter of course. But I conclude you would desire to have some account of my first impressions upon such an occasion. To you, who speak as familiarly of roaring cannon
As maids of fifteep do of puppy-dogs,
my expectations, my disappointment, and my further sensations, will probably appear ridiculous enough.
These formidable fortifications will soon be of little consequence, and may probably be permitted to go to decay. Bergen-op-Zoom, a frontier town of the last importance, while the Princes of Orange were only Stadtholders of the Seven United Provinces, is a central part of their dominions, since the Netherlands have been united into a single
kingdom. Meantime, the town is garrisoned by a body of Land-poliz, which corresponds nearly to our local militia in the mode in which it is levied. All the disposable forces of the Netherlands have been sent forward into France, and more are still organizing to be despatched in the same direction.
In the evening, by permission of the commandant, I walked round the scene of your former exploits. But you must forgive me if my attenlion was chiefly occupied by the more recent assault under our brave countryman, Lord Lynedock, which was so boldly undertaken, and so strangely disappointed, when success seemed almost certain. I was accompanied in my walk by a sensible native of the place, a man of Scotch descent, who spoke good English. He pretended to point out with accuracy the points on which the various assaults were made, and the spots where several of the gallant leaders fell. I cannot rest implicit faith in bis parralive, because I know, and you know still better, how difficult it is to procure a just and minute account of such an enterprise, even from those who have been personally engaged in it, and how impersect, consequently, must be the information derived from one who himself had it at second-hand. Some circumstances, however, may be safely taken upon my guide's averment, because they are such as must have consisted with bis own knowledge. But, first, it must be observed in general, that the history of war contains no example of a bolder allempt; and, if it failed of success, that failure only occurred after almost all the difficulties which could have been foreseen had been encountered and surmounted. In fact, the assailants, successful upon various points, were already in possession of by far the greater number of the bastions; and had they fortunately been in communication with each other, so as to have iaken uniform measures for attacking the French in the town, they must have become masters of the place. It is even confidently said, that the French commandant sent his aid-decamp to propose a capitulation ; but the officer being killed in the confusion, other and more favourable intelligence induced the Frenchman to alter his purpose. It has been generally alleged, that some disorder was caused by the soldiers, who had entered the town, finding access to the wine-houses. My conductor obstinately denied this breach of discipline. He said, that one of the attacking columns destined to cross the stream which forms the harbour, had unhappily attempted it before the tide had ebbed, and were obliged to wade through when it was of considerable depth; and he allowed, that the severity of the cold, joined to the welling, might give them the appearance of intoxication. But when the prisoners were put under his charge in the church, of which he was sexton, he declared solemnly, that he did not
(General Sir Thomas Grahame of Dalgnwan, ia Perthshire, created Baron Lydedoch in ļ814. See the Vision of Don Roderick (Sir W. Scott's Poetical Works), and nutes.)
see among them one individual who seemed affected by liquor. Perhaps his own predilections, or a natural desire to please his auditors, may have influenced his opinion. To resist such temptations to excess is not among the numerous excellences of the British soldier.
The fate of a Dutch officer in our service, who led the attack upon one of the bastions, was particularly interesting. He was a native of the town, and it was supposed had been useful in furnishing hints for the attack. He led on his party with the utmost gallantry; and although the greater number of them fled, or fell, under a heavy fire-for the enemy were by this time upon the alert-he descended into the main ditch, crossed it upon the ice, and forced his way, followed by a handful of men, as far as the internal desences of the place. He had already mounted the inner glacis, when he was wounded in many places, and precipitated into the ditch; and, as his followers were unable to bring him off, he remained on the ice until next morning, when, being still alive, he became a prisoner to the French. Their first purpose was to execule him as a traitor, from which they were with difficulty diverled by a letter from the British general, accompanied by documents to establish how long he had been in the English service. The unfortunate gentleman was then permitted to retire from the hospital to his own house in the town, where he did not long survive the wounds he had received.*
I did not, you may believe, fail to visit the unfortunate spot, where Skerret, so celebrated for his gallantry in the Peninsula, Gore, Mercer, Carleton, Macdonald, and other officers of rank and distinction, sell upon this unfortunate occasion. I was assured that General Skerret, after receiving a severe wound by which he was disabled, gave his watch and purse to a French soldier, requesting to be carried to the hospital; and that the ruffian dragged him down from the banquette only to pierce him with his bayonet. But I have since learned, from belter authority, that this gallant officer fell on the spot.
While I listened to the details of this unhappy affair, and walked slowly and sadly with my conductor from one bastion to another, admiring the strength of the desences which British valour had so nearly surmounted, and mourning over the evil fate which rendered that valour fruitless, the hour of the evening, gradually sinking from Twilight into darkness, suited well with the melancholy subject of my enquiries. Broad flashes of lambent lightning illuminated, from time to time, the bastions which we traversed ; and the figure of my companion, a tall, thin, elderly man, of a grave and interesting appearance,
* I have since beeu informed, from unquestionable authority, that this officer was not illtreated by the French. It is remarkable, that he had personally ventured into the town to ascertain the possibility of success, the day before the attack was made.
+ See Gazette of General Sir Thomas Grahame's despatches, dated Calmbout, 10th March, 1814, &c., in the Edinburgh Annual Register of that year, Appendix, p. cciii.,&c.] and who seemed, from his voice and manner, deeply impressed by recollections of the melancholy events which he detailed, was such as might appear to characterise their historian. A few broad and heavy drops of rain occasionally fell and ceased. And to aid the general effect, we heard from below the hollow roll of the drums announcing the setting of the watch, and the deep and sullen WER DA of the sentinels, as they challenged those who passed their station. I assure you this is no piece of imaginary scenery got up to adorn my letter, but the literal circumstances of my perambulation around the ramparts of Bergen-op-Zoom.
I presume you are now in active preparation for the moors, where I wish you much sport. Do not fail to preserve for me my due share in your friendship, notwithstanding that, on the subject of Bergen-opZoom, I am now qualified to give you story for story. Such are the advantages which travellers gain over their friends. My next letter to you shall contain more interesting, as well as more recent and more triumphant, military details.
I must not omit to mention that, in the Church of Bergen-op-Zoom, a tablet of marble, erected by their brother officers, records the names of the bravemen who fell in the valorous, but ill-fated attack upon this famous fortress. For them, as for their predecessors who sell at Fontenoy, the imagination of the Briton will long body forth the emblematic forms of Honour and Freedom weeping by their monuments. Once more, farewell, and remember me.
PAUL TO HIS COUSIN PETER.
Retrospect - Surrender of Paris - Bourbons Restored-Emigrants-Noblesse
The politics, my dear Peter, are of the right Scottish cast. Thou knowest our old proverbial character of being wise behind the hand. After all, the wisdom which is rather deduced from events than formed upon predictions, is best calculated for a country politician, and smacks of the prudence as well as of the aforesaid proverbial attribute of our national character. Yet, believe me, that though a more strict seclusion of the dethroned Emperor of France might have prevented his debarkment at Cannes, and although we and our allies might have spared the perilous farce of leaving him a globe and sceptre to play withal, there were, within France itself, elements sufficiently jarring to produce, sooner or later, a dreadful explosion. You daily politicians are so little in the practice of recollecting last year's news, that I may be excused recalling some leading facts to your recollection, which will serve as a text to my future lucubrations.
The first surrender of Paris had been preceded by so much doubt, and by so many difficulties, that the final victory seems to have been a malter not only of exultation, but even of surprise, to the victors themselves. This great event was regarded, rather as a gratification of the most romantic and extravagant expectations, than as a natural consequence of that course of reaction, the ebb of which brought the allies to the gates of Paris, as its tide had carried Bonaparte to those of Berlin and Vienna. Pleased and happy with themselves, and dazzled with the glory of their own exploit, the victors were in no humour to impose harsh conditions upon the vanquished; and the French, on their part, were delighted at their easy escape from the horrors of war, internal and external, of siege, pillage, and contribution. Bonaparte's government had of late become odious to the bulk of the people, by the pressure oftaxation, by the recurring terrors of the conscription, but, above all, by the repeated disasters which the nation had latterly sastained. The constitutional charter, under which the Bourbon family were restored, was not only a valuable gist to those who really desired to be ensured against the re-establishment of despotism, but operated as a salvo to the wounded feelings of the still more numerous class, who wished that the crimes and calamities of the Revolution should not appear to be altogether thrown away, and who could now appeal to this Bill of Rights, as a proof that the French nation had not sinned and suffered in vain. The laboratory and chemical apparatus which were to have produced universal equality of rights, had indeed exploded about the ears of the philosophical experimentalists, yet they consoled themselves with the privileges which had been assured to them by the King upon his restoration.
“So though the Chemist his great secret miss,
With good uusought, experiments by the way." All parties being thus disposed to be pleased with themselves, and with each other, the occupation of the capital was considered as the close of the disasters which France had sustained, and converted into a subject of general jubilee, in which the Parisians themselves rejoiced, or affected to rejoice, as loudly as their unbidden guests. But this desirable state of the public mind was soon overcast, and the French, left to their own reflections, began speedily to exhibit symptoms both of division and dissatisfaclion.