Imagens das páginas

questions, when I could do nothing, and go nowhere! —when a long way must yet be measured, by my weary, trembling limbs, before I could reach human habitation ;-when cold charity must be entreated before I could get a lodging; reluctant sympathy importuned, almost certain repulse incurred, before my tale could be listened to, or one of


wants relieved !.... I had one morsel of bread yet: the remnant of a roll I had bought in a town we passed through at noon, with a stray penny-my last coin. I saw ripe bilberries gleaming here and there like jet beads in the heath. I gathered a handful, and ate them with the bread. My hunger, sharp before, was, if not satisfied, appeased by this hermit's meal. I said my evening prayers at its conclusion, and then chose my couch, and ere long in sleep forgot


But next day want came to me, pale and bare. Long after the little birds had left their nests—long after bees had come in the sweet prime of day to gather the heath honey before the dew was driedwhen the long morning shadows were curtailed, and the sun filled earth and sky—I got up and looked round me.

What a still, hot, perfect day! What a golden desert this spreading moor! Everywhere sunshine. I wished I could live in it, and on it. I saw a lizard run over the


I saw a bee busy among the sweet bilberries. I would fain at that moment have become bee or lizard, that I might have found fitting nutriment and permanent shelter here.



[ocr errors]

Captain Absolute.—To what fine purpose have I been plotting! A noble reward for all my schemes, upon my soul! A little gipsey! I did not think her little romance could have made her so absurd, either. I never was in a worse humour in all my life! I could cut my own throat, or any other person's, with the greatest pleasure in the world.

Sir Lucius OʻTrigger.-Faith! I'm in the luck of it. I never could have found him in a sweeter temper for my purpose-to be sure, I'm just come in the nick! Now to enter into conversation with him, and to quarrel genteelly.-With regard to that matter, Captain Absolute, I must beg leave to differ in opinion with you.

Captain A.-Upon my word, then, you must be a very subtle disputant; because, Sir, I happened just then to be giving no opinion at all.

Sir L.—That's no reason ; for, give me leave to tell you, a man may think an untruth as well as speak one.

Captain A.-Very true, Sir; but if a man never utters his thoughts, I should think they might stand a chance of escaping controversy.

Sir L.-Then, Sir, you differ in opinion with me; which amounts to the same thing. Captain A.—Hark ye, Sir Lucius ; If I had not

— before known you to be a gentleman, upon my soul I should not have discovered it at this interview ;for what you can drive at, unless you mean to quarrel with me,

I cannot conceive.

[ocr errors]

Sir L.--I humbly thank you, Sir, for the quickness of your apprehension (bowing), you have named the very thing I would be at.

Captain 4.–Very well, Sir: I shall certainly not baulk your inclinations ; but I should be glad if you would please to explain your motives.

Sir L.–Pray, Sir, be easy: the quarrel is a very pretty quarrel as it stands; we should only spoil it by trying to explain it. However, your memory is very short, or you could not have forgot an affront you passed on me a week ago. So no more, but name your time and place.

Captain A.-Well, Sir, since you are so bent on it, the sooner the better : let it be this evening, here, by the Spring Gardens. We shall scarcely be interrupted.

Sir L.–Faith! that same interruption, in affairs of this nature, shows very great ill-breeding. I don't know what's the reason, but in England, if a thing of this kind gets wind, people make such a pother, that a gentleman can never fight in peace and quietness. However, if it's the same to you, Captain, I should take it as a particular kindness if you'd let us meet in King's Mead Fields, as a little business will call me there about six o'clock, and I may

dispatch both matters at once.

Captain A.—'Tis the same to me exactly. A little after six, then, we will discuss this matter more seriously.

Sir L.-If you please, Sir; there will be very pretty small-sword light, though it won't do for long shot. So that matter's settled ! and my mind's at ease.

SHERIDAN, The Rivals."




Of the two instruments wielded by these masters of their art-namely, an English and a French army

-Colonel Napier has spoken with the knowledge and with the enthusiasm of a soldier. The differences, and the peculiar excellences of each, are pointed out with a sagacity and precision that long experience and accurate knowledge could alone supply, and with that fairness and candour which always belongs to a generous and exalted spirit. Had the writers of both nations, when treating of this subject, so rife of prejudice, and hate, and national antipathy, always adopted the same tone of generosity and respect, we should not now have to lament the ill-feeling and suppressed rancour that still seem to rankle in the minds of both people. No man can rise from the perusal of Colonel Napier's history, without perceiving that his own mind has been influenced by the generous chivalry of the historian. The reader finds therein no tendency to contemn or to hate our great rivals in arms; no desire to depreciate their valour or military capacity; no bitter feeling of national animosity: for he is taught to know that, if we ourselves be worthy for courage, for daring enterprise, for patient suffering, we have ever found in the French a foe worthy as ourselves in all the virtues of a soldier ;that throughout the long war described, a rich harvest of honour was reaped by both people, while none was lost by either. It had been well for the world if such were always the feelings created by those who


have treated of the hostilities (too constant indeed) between England and France. Neither nation would now have believed that aught was wanting to the full establishment of its military renown, or that for its glory any further deeds of arms were necessary. Mutual respect for the great achievements and great qualities of each other would have begotten permanent mutual regard, and an assured and continuous peace would lead to a noble emulation in those arts which conduce at once to the happiness as well as the glory of a people. A scientific history of war proves, beyond all doubt or cavil, that fortune domineers over war; and a moral may thence be derived which might conduce to peace and good-will among all nations. If fortune be supreme, victory is not the true test of merit. Defeat is no proof either of want of valour or of skill : the bravest may fail, the most far-sighted and skilful

, may have the wisest councils crossed and thwarted by the merest stroke of chance.

The blind decrees of fate do not award the palm of merit as of victory; nor is merit to be determined by the vulgar test of success. No one who follows the history of the armies of France, in their struggle for the Peninsula, can fail to honour the valour of their soldiers, the skill of most of the commanders who led them, or be blind to the all-pervading genius, and the almost superhuman sagacity, prudence, and forethought of their chief; why, then, should an Englishman be taught to entertain any feeling but that of respect and admiration for the nation which sent these armies forth ? or why should England and France still continue to be hostile, because a quarter of a century since, their

« AnteriorContinuar »