over their destinies—they believed they were left there to die! The orders given by the generals were not obeyed, but canvassed, commented on, sneered at; first insubordination, then downright disobedience. At length, as no orders were attended to, none were given ; no one remembered his friend and comrade-he had none; no one thought of to-morrow, it was not expected by him ; himself, and his wants of to-daythese ideas could go no farther.

“ It was in the beginning of our atrocious sufferings, while there was yet some respect shown to our officers, and some kindness towards each other, that we were forced to make a most harassing march, in order to reach Pascovo, where we were to halt by daylight: the sick and wounded, and those regiments that had suffered most, were in the van, the post of danger being in the rear-guard, for the Cossacks harassed us cruelly, driving us before them like bullocks, and slaughtering, without pity, all those regiments which they found unprepared. Our regiment being one of the best in the service had this duty imposed upon it in common with several others; and I was attached to the detachment headed by the Colonel himself, which was the last in the rear, for he, being the bravest of the brave, made it his glory to bring all his men off safe from the field, and yet to be the last to quit it. Worn out by fatigue, our detachment had halted to take a slight refreshment on the route, when the horrible ' Hourra!' was heard bursting all around us: we instantly formed under the orders of our gallant Colonel, I sounding the charge with all the lungs I had, as well to encourage our party as to bring some of the others to our assistance. While I was thus employed, the attack and defence began, and was conducted with the utmost fury and desperation on both sides. In the middle of it, a scoundrelly Cossack rode up to me, and, making a terrible cut at me, in order to silence my charge, cut my trumpet fairly in two, and thus for a moment spoiled my music. I returned his compliment by a sharp blow in the face with the end of my trumpet, which still remained in my hand. The devils had very nearly overpowered us, for they were five to one, when notice was given them that troops were marching up to our assistance; this made them hasten in order to profit by the occasion, and they began rapidly to strip the wounded and the dead. I was by the side of the Colonel when he was attacked by five or six, and stripped in an instant; and I, instead of being able to help him, had to fight sturdily to defend my own clothes, which they endeavoured to tear off my body. In the struggle I lost my jacket and pantaloons, but was determined, while I had life, not to part with my shirt and drawers, and moreover to reclothe my person ere the arrival of fresh troops, as the discovery of my sex would infallibly close my career of glory, an idea I could not bear. The Cossacks were all so busy in securing their plunder that they could not help each other. The Colossus who had knocked me down was loaded with booty; he had enor. mous packets under each arm, and half a dozen smaller in each hand. The hound had got the spoils of my poor Colonel, as well as my wardrobe, which was not enough for his avarice, as he even began to tug at my shirt, which he discovered was, for a trumpeter's, remarkably fine. Thinking this too bad, wounded as I was, I sprung up with the agility and wrath of a tiger, seized him by the hair, and jumped upon his shoulders, where I held tight with one hand, while I dealt with the other my best blows upon his ugly face. He tried hard to shake me off but found it impossible, as he dared not use his hands lest he should let fall some of his plunder, which a comrade would have appropriated in a moment; he jumped, leaped, danced under me, but all to no purpose, for the higher he caracoled the tighter I grasped his hair. Discovering, however, that I was searching in his belt for his pistols, he yelled a most tremendous cry to one of his companions, as I imagined, for help ; for the latter—who was also too busy to quit his work-looked up, and howled out an answer, indicative, no doubt, of his astonishment at beholding a half-naked figure seated on his countryman's shoulders, and trying hard to batter his brains out! I do not know that I was ever in a more uncomfortable position than at this moment, more especially when I saw the distant Cossack, in the design to assist his comrade, draw out his carbine, and adjust me at his leisure. It was well intended, doubtless, but ill performed. I had not time to drop from my resting-place, which was lucky; for the ball, instead of reaching me, lodged itself most conveniently in the enormous forehead of the beast who bore me, and who instantly dropped dead to the ground; and though I was sorely bruised by being sent so unceremoniously out of my saddle, I had both sense enough and time enough to jump into a pair of pantaloons and a jacket before the arrival of our friends on the spot, who speedily made the Cossacks face about, while they administered help to the fallen. On all sides I received praises for my gallant conduct in the affray, and my Colonel, who was not killed, gave me solid marks of his approbation, an example that was followed by all the officers of the regiment, and I became in consequence rich enough to be anxious about my wealth, wishing to preserve it to my own use, instead of being obliged to share it with my comrades, who were never slow of enforcing their rights,' as they called them, of partition, though, to balance accounts, they were slow enough to divide when the turn came to be their own."

(To be continued.)


« Vel duo vel nemo:-turpe et miserabile."

“ Audi alteram partem."

Reader! were you ever in Babylon? or have you trodden in the steps (or, to spell more geographically, the steppes) of Tartary ? In these locomotive days, when everybody has been everywhere, the hypothesis is not unreasonable. But if you should not chance to belong to the comprehensive class of the everybodies, and are contented to rank in the still more comprehensive category of the nobodies-if you bave not, in compliance with the decencies of modern civilization, visited such distant scenes, perhaps you have journied to the ruins of Pompeii, or done the contemplative in the Lateran quarter of Rome? In either case, you will be apt enough to fancy that you have a tolerably correct notion of desolation, concrete and abstract, and that you have nothing more to learn on the subject: if so, you never was more mistaken in your life. You have nothing more to do than to come to London, at this season

[ocr errors]

of the year, which, par parenthèse, is the scason when London is out of town, and when no decent person is thought capable of meeting his friend in the streets, without blushing, like Ciccro's augur. Then it is, that the Clubs are surrendered to the whitewashers and painters, Pall Mall and St. James's Street are in exclusive possession of the paviors and water-companies, and the owner of every third shop is brought to the scaffold. You may talk of cities overthrown by earthquakes, of forests unconscious of the foot of man, of towns destroyed or deserted through the revolutions of empires, or of fields blasted by the tornado, or the hurricane: nature in its loneliest wildernesses, and art in its utmost abandonment and decay, have nothing that can be voted comparable for dreariness and gloom, to long silent rows of uninhabited streets, shining in the mid-day sun, recent, beautiful, complete, and exhibiting every token of man and his energies, save only the presence of man himself!

The howling of the jackall in the desert, and the scream of the midnight cwl from the church turret, or from the wood embosomed tower of other days (those obligato accompaniments to real ruins), are certainly sounds more melancholy than musical, and quite sufficient to pull down the most exuberant spirits of the night-wandering traveller, especially if he be alone, and enforcedly sober. Yet even these must be counted as nothing to the measured tread of the solitary London policeman, as he wends his weary way on an August noon, prying into areas, and trying street-doors, with no chance of a row, no hope of a “stop thief!” (fugêre feræ ?) to vary the monotony of his lonely round. Think, likewise, of the bootless cry of the itinerant vendor of small wares, unanimated by the hope of a purchaser, breaking upon the silence of the untenanted street, short, faint, and quivering, and plainly betokening that the owner of such a voice crying out in the desert,

“ Is afraid Eeven of the sound himself hath made." The overthrown column, too, and the headless statue, are sufficiently depressing mementos of the transitory nature of man and his works; yet what are they for dreariness to some lonely housekeeper, the Didone abandonata of the second table, looking, like Ossian's fox, out of a deserted drawing-room window, with her arms wrapped in her clean apron; or to that other victim of solitary confinement, an housemaid promoted to the custody of the empty mansion, the Ariadne of some domestic Naxos, bewailing the absence of an entire household of Theseuses, and with no other Bacchus to comfort her than the pot-boy, whose advent she patiently (or impatiently) awaits at the area gate? Such, however, are the sole symptoms of inhabitation which distinguish the quarters of the west, when nobody is in town--such the sounds which alone break its stillness, when the London season has finally closed.

Was it not, then, a foolish fancy in the melancholy Jacques to promener ses ennuis in the leafy Ardennes, and was it not a great mistake in Baron Geramb—that whilom hero of the whiskers, that once living type of the Queen of Navarre's most extravagant imaginings-to betake himself to the solitudes of La Trappe? If the one desired to chew the sweet and bitter cud at his ease, or the other to fly from the temptations of bright eyes and small feet bien chaussés, might they not have satisfied these desires as perfectly by taking themselves to the “ ombre brune" of the shady side of Belgrave Square, or by seeking a pious security in the interminable emptiness of Baker Street, at this period of the year? Neither is the opportunity for “meditation e'en to madness” more perfect, than is the material for gloomy thoughts abundant in these regions. Think of the contrast afforded by the minus quantity of life and movement then prevailing, with the hubbub and bustle which reigned on the same spot but two short months before! Where is the roll of the frequent chariot? where the loud thunder of the footman's knock? where are the clustered rosebuds, the bursting beauties of debutante sixteen? where the full-blown, ripened charms of blasée sixty ? Echo does not answer “where ;” and, for the best of reasons, because there is no one present to ask these questions. The dice, too, are noiseless in Crockford's gilded saloons-as rococo as their prototypes, the tessere of antiquity; neither is the Clarendon, as men hare heard it, vocal with the contests between larking lords and fare-bilked hackney coachinen, No drowsy tiger paces his master's cab mechanically, with nodding head and eyes fast shut, up and down the street, in endless reiteration, sleeping himself to banish others' sleep, while his ennuyé master is bestowing all his tediousness on the mistress of the rout, two hours after every one else has gone home; and the servants, wearied with their night's work, and impatient for bed, are waiting in the hall to see him out, and, in the mean time, solace themselves by devoting him to the infernals, in the Queen's plainest English. No crash of carriages is now heard in Piccadilly, no link-boy's voice is hoarse in Grosvenor Square with calling Lady Chaperon's carriage, or the Countess of Last-guinea's servants. Scarcely, even on the rainiest night, does old Drury herself resound with her ancient and celebrated cry of “ coach unhired," or, “ No. 964:" some twenty or thirty dependants of the manager, driven thither by force of orders, may be seen issuing in single files from the doors, with bonnets and umbrellas just reclaimed from the hands of the box-keeper, and as melancholy, as if they were returning without a legacy from a funeral. The concert, too, is silent in Hanover Square, and the windows of Portland Place are not shaken by the cadenced foot-fall of corpulent waltzers. More miraculous still, and in theory utterly inexplicable, the Quadrant is not now a reflection of the Tower of Babel, and the smoke of cigars no longer scents its breezy gales. Not an hair of a whisker is visible beneath its columns, and even the pick-pockets have departed, in despair of a pocket to pick.

Neither does the ear alone miss its accustomed recreations: the eye is no longer feasted with the heavily laden trays of fishmongers' boys, the turbots are at rest in the Dutch seas, and the lobsters, unpursued, tell their tender tale of love, without interruption, to the lobstresses on the rocks of Norway. The nose, also, of the passing epicure now misses the spicy emanations which of old ascended from hot-hearths and stew-holes—a feast for the gods, worth a whole hecatomb of Pagan sacrifices. The casserols of Ude are gone to the tinman's, and Gunter, for want of other employment, may realise Lord Aly 's joke, and“ ice his horse," he has no longer need to ice himself. How pregnant with morality is such a scene! What a lesson does philosophy there teach, if it had but “fit audience” for its theme! Does the churchyard itself bear more conclusive testimony to the finite character of all worldly joys? Does the most eloquent divine so touchingly declare the

irreparable lapse of time? As seasons roll unperceived away, as parliaments are prorogued ere the butterflies of a London winter become aware that the supplies have been voted, and as summer steals upon us like a thief in the night, with the last fêtes of the Horticultural Society, so, too, do youth, and health, and love, take their unobserved flight; the graces slyly retreat into Truefit's tresses, and the once light fantastic toe takes a too sudden shelter in the gouty shoe, sweltering in its manifold involutions of fleecy-hosiery.

Terrible, also, are the lessons which these untenanted houses unfold of the emptiness of man's hopes and fears, the vanity of his wishes, the instability of his calculations. Here, the lately buoyant senator, newly dubbed M.P., had established himself on a scale above his briberydiminished means, in the certainty that his eloquence would attract the attention of the minister, and secure him a place, “ though it were but a thousand a-year to begin with ;” but, alas! the petitioner has prevailed against him; his voice is no longer potent in “ the house,” and he has made a premature flight from before the face of the bailiff's follower. On the opposite side of the street (which, as Pickwick found it, is still over the way) stands the furnished house where a fond mother had ensconced herself, for the season, as in the vestibule, through which her seven ringleted daughters were undoubtedly all to pass to the temple of Hymen. Manifold were the dinners she gave, crowded were her balls, and tedious were her pilgrimages on the corso of Hyde Park. Large was her account with her milliner, and her opera box is yet unpaid for. All, however, would not do: the season slipped away, and so did her credit; but there are the daughters still (as the Irish say) to the fore, -one for every day in the week, and fixed immoveably to her side, like so many bad coins to a baker's counter. Three doors lower down, you may observe the handsome house bearing on its dusty parlour windows the eloquent affiches of the Demosthenes of auctioneers. It was fitted up for the honeymoon of a noble lord ; but the honey has already turned to gall, his lady wife has eloped from him with another, and he has become, as the said affiches declare, “ a nobleman gone to reside on the continent!” Not very much further, you will encounter the quondam residence of a young calculator, whose mathematical studies while at Cambridge had disclosed to him an infallible method of breaking Crockford's bank. He took the mansion for the season, on a dead certainty of quadrupling his fortune. It turns out, however, that in the ardour of his algebraic pursuits, he had neglected his grammar, and overlooked the slight distinction between the active and the passive voice: it was not he who broke the bank, but he that was broken by it. The coroner's jury returned the verdict “ found drowned.”

Not less edifying is the aspect of Bond-street with its customless tradesmen. A few months ago, to cross it was a feat requiring the patience of Job, and the sinuous dexterity of an eel; now you may traverse it en long, et en large, or (if you prefer it) as Mr. Shandy would repose on in his bed, diagonally; and this with perfect impunity, though you were composing an epic all the time, or were naturally as absent of mind as a late nobleman that shall be nameless. If you enter a shop, there stands, sits, or lies its master, too listless even to take stock, meditating on the unpaid accounts of departed customers which load his ledger, and reflecting “ what dust we credit when 'tis man we trust :”

« 前へ次へ »