Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

tracted struggle that followed. For seven successive years, Britain poured the elite of her army into the Peninsula in a full and generous stream. When she first unfurled her banner there, the there, the arms

of Napoleon were dominant from the Pyrenees to the Rock of Gibraltar; when she refolded it, she had driven every invader across his own frontier, and sealed the independence of Spain, by repeated victories on the soil of France.

The recollection of those times is still vivid, and will long remain so, throughout the British Isles. The circumstances under which the Peninsular war commenced the lofty historical associations connected with the country-the formidable character of the foe-and, above all, the memorable services of our army, combine to throw over it a degree of solemn romance, which attaches to no other struggle in which Britain has ever been engaged. Fifteen years have elapsed since it terminated, yet many brave and gentle hearts are still linked to Spain by emotions too proud and too holy even for time to destroy. There are few families in the land who have not one or more

relatives sleeping in a soldier's grave, among the Spanish Sierras ; and there is certainly not one who had not, at some period or other, during the contest, a kinsman serving in the British ranks.

- Under these impressions, the following Memorials are now given to the public. They embrace no regular history of the campaigns-for, at a time when so many able narratives, specially dedicated to that object are in the hands of the public, such a work would be altogether supererogatory; but they exhibit what will be sought for in vain in more dignified and voluminous productions,-faithful pictures of the individual vicissitudes of the soldier-his hairbreadth escapes by flood and field”-his mode of cheating the lagging hours in those brief intervals of repose which war allowed himand, above all, the peculiar emotions that agitated him, when butchery was his daily pastime, and rapine his licensed trade.

The 66 Journal of a Soldier" is perhaps the most faithful and unaffected record of the varied and desultory career of a private sentinel, that has yet appeared. As a fragment of general history, it is of course ob

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

scure and unsatisfactory; but, as a Memo. rial of the sanguinary conflicts in which the author was engaged, it is fully entitled to the precedence now given it. It has no pretensions to dignity of style, and narrates only the fortunes of one who was but a unit of the thousands with whom he was banded; but the very simplicity with which these are recorded, proves it a genuine index to the feelings of a personal observer. Dr Neale's narrative, on the contrary, is of a strictly historical description. Like the author of the “ Journal,” he was an eyewitness of the sufferings of the British army, during the retreat in which Sir John Moore lost his life; and, having held an appointment of some distinction on that occasion, he has delineated the operations of the campaign with a faithful and vigorous pen. His estimate of the brave but luckless commander, falls short of that which has been generally adopted; but, he bears willing testimony to his character, both as a soldier and as a man, and does ample justice to the valour of his troops-a valour which shed a radiance even over the terrible reverses they sustained.

Mr Malcolm's “ Reminiscences" also relate to a period of the war, which the Jour

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

nalist has briefly noticed; but the incidents embraced by the two works are totally different. The “ Reminiscences” not only give a clear and comprehensive view of the move. ments of the British army in the south of France, but abound in rare and splendid pictures of the vicissitudes of war, which no one but a man of education and a poet could have painted.

The second volume contains a new Translation of Rocca's Memoirs of the War in Spain ;-and a Popular account of the Battle of Waterloo, without which, these Men morials would have been incomplete. Roc ca's work is highly valuable for the information it gives relative to the spirit and organization of the French army; but the principal motive, however, for including it among Narratives otherwise exclusively de dicated to our own gallant troops, is, that the reader may be better enabled to exercise his own judgment in forming an estimate of the character of the two armies, during a contest in which the national peculiarities of both were strongly developed.

EDINBURGH, JULY, 1828.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »