Obrazy na stronie

fort,” or any other of the distinctive enjoyments of which we are so justly proud.

And so it is that nine-tenths of the “ pilgrims pay their devotions at this immortal shrine; going there not for its sake but their own, just to have to say they saw it, -which, barring the immorality, they might as well


without doing * But this was not my way. I have been over and over the ground full twenty times or more; that is, over the valleys, and plains, and rising slopes, which were the scene of the fight, and which will go down to the latest posterity as the field of Waterloo. But I have also seen, and examined well, many an accessory spot which are all necessary links in the chain of general interest, but which not one traveller in a thousand ever dreams of looking at.

Can the hasty inquirer, who goes his gallopade across the battle-field, in the care of that commonplace automaton called a “ guide,”--that curse of the intellectual observer,-rightly understand the philosophy of such a scene ? Is it in an hour's run across the surface that he can read the deep-buried lessons of that vast gymnasium, where he who thinks may be self-taught on all the grandest topics of politics and mo

Í neither deserve nor claim any particular merit for seeing Waterloo as it should be seen. I lived in its neighbourhood for a long time, and I was probably its visitor less frequently than I should have been. Thousands come away disappointed, unmoved by the scene; and so might I, had I visited it in the usual hop-step-and-jump manner of the many. I remember once standing in the very centre of the field with an eminent poet, but a poor philosopher, for he is a narrow politician. Nó man, however, has a finer imagination, or is more likely to be affected by whatever is rich in mighty inspiration : yet he was totally unaffected and quite uninterested by the place, and knew not a thrill of feeling nor a shudder of



Treading on a nation's dust!" He told me that "he was never moved by any site, however memorable for deeds done upon it, that did not present some feature of natural beauty." I could not exactly understand such want of susceptibility to the moral sublime. But I am sure that had he wandered previously through the forest-paths of Soignies, or the delicious defiles between Wavre and Waterloo, let his mind grow redolent with images of the past, and his fancy conjure up the myriads of bright spirits that wait upon its spell, he had found the field too acutely exciting, instead of being, as it seemed to him,

" Flat, stale, and unprofitable." It was after such a ramble as I here allude to, gun on my arm and dog at heel, that I burst suddenly from the forest, in pursuit of a covey of partridges, in the very place where Bulow first appeared to the deceived and then desperate gaze of Imperial Napoleon. The season was advanced. It was September; and I had abundant proof in my gamebag that I had not spent my day for nothing, but that if I had been wandering in a mood of sadness, shooting had physicked care."

* Most people have heard (but some may not) of Sheridan's characteristic reply to his son's assertion that he went down into # coal mine, merely that he “ might have to say he did 80."-"Ah! Tom," replied the father, “ you might have easily said it, without committing the folly of doing it."

Just as I emerged from the forest the sun was going rapidly down. The western horizon was filled with the mixture of haze and light that forms so indescribable a beauty of the hour,—which the pen may talk of withont telling, and the pencil may daub but cannot paint. The lion, that fine emblem which should teach the nations who adopt it that dignity is joined with true courage, stood evident on his earthen mound, formed of the very floor that had echoed the tramp and turmoil of the fight. This noble monument was fully lighted by the sunbeams, projected towards it in triangular shapes, and giving to the whole an effect of vapoury yet brilliant architecture, quite indescribable, yet often attempted, in pictures which, while meant to be holy, are but mockeries of heaven.

a Just at this hour,” thought I, “on that great day of battles, the whole Evglish line sprang up and rushed to the charge,-just at this hour the Prussian columns, Aushed with the memory of disgrace which had, for two days, defied even the temporary oblivion of sleep, and parched by the double thirst of vengeance and fatigue, deployed in merciless vigour on the broken foe-just now the worn-down French, frantic in hopeless heroism, gave way and fled! Now let me tread the ground, uninterrupted, alone, while imagination acts again the awful scene in all its grand details. To heel, Carlo! To heel?”

I had then most assuredly began to moralize,-to poetize, perhaps, had not my attention been suddenly called away from images of the past, by a figure of palpable existence, little in unison with those which had been filling my mind's eye. It was that of a man on horseback, When I first observed him he was careering at full gallop along the sloping ground in front of the spot where Wellington's Tree " had stood, till some speculating Vandal cut it down to make snuff-boxes. I was astonished at his speed; but more so still when I saw him, a little beyond the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte, turn suddenly down the valley; and when he reached the lower extremity of the orchard hedge, just where Shawe, the life-guardsman, fell and was buried, (after despatching four of his assailants to prepare his billet in the next world,) he pulled up his horse, and, with all the rapidity of the riding-school or drill-yard, he went through the semblance of a series of manæuvres, such as might have been acted on the spot by the brave bruiser over whose grave he was careering.

I had by this time clambered up the rough pedestal of earth which supports the little obelisk raised to the memory of the slain of the German legion. I leaned against the pillar, and watched my man. soon concluded that he was mad,- but not without method either; -for he went through, in the course of half an hour, a whole series of evolutions, formed columns, squares, and lines, advanced and retreated, charged, ran away, and went through the whole mimicry of the great battle, as evidently and as perfectly as any single individual could possibly do. He was capitally mounted on a chestnut horse of true English breed, showing age, but much blood, and displaying a speed that might, in days of yore, have carried away many a cup and plate: The man rode admirably for one of his nation, with quite the air of a dealer in the animals he knew how to manage so well.

After some time I attracted the attention of this solitary evolutionist, and he came towards me as though he intended to take the monument by storm. But when he reached the high road which runs at its foot,

I very

he pulled up, and in good jockey-like style took his position with his horse's head up the hill, and (what I afterwards discovered) his blind eye turned from me.

I had then an opportunity of a close personal examination. The cavalier was a fine specimen of second-rate Belgian dandyism. He wore a whity-brown hat, with broad brim and of most clumsy shape; a green frock-coat of a vile cut, lined with a flaunting-patterned plaid—the front flaps and skirts thick studded with large brass buttons, each bearing the figure of a stag, fox or hare, horse or hound; his waistcoat was of the same stuff as the lining of his coat; his pantaloons of sky-blue cloth; long brass spurs of a most ungainly curve; a yellow silk handkerchief twisted knowingly round his neck, and a row of many-coloured buttons decking his shirt front. His hands were ungloved ; and while one of them held the reins, and wielded a long-thonged and hammerhandled whip, the other patted the neck of his steed, which showed in every nerve and vein its fine condition, high blood, and past exertions. The mau looked more blown than the beast. He was stout-not fatstrong-built, comely-faced, and about forty-five years of age. As he took off his hat to salute me, his sable-silvered hair hung loosely round his face and on his, shoulders.

“Well, Sir, what do you think of her? is she not a mare for an English sportsman to be proud of? Sabre de bois! What do ye say of her ? Pistolet de paille !* "

Such was his first address, wound up by a short, convulsive laugh. He spoke in fluent French ; but his accent was broad Belgian, and his idiom plainly marked him a Walloon.

“ She is handsome and good,” said I.

“I believe it !" replied he, with a nod, a wink, and a peculiar chirp produced by turning up his lip, and pressing his tongue against his teeth, as though something had stuck between them. It was a very knowing combination, approaching more to the generic attributes of English jockeyism than anything I had ever seen abroad.

"Monsieur has been in England ?” I observed.

“Never, d'ye see t; but I love England, and Englishmen, and English horses—as well I might! Sabre de bois! I never see one of your countrymen that I don't long to shake him by the hand, and my house is always his home as long he likes it. Pistolet de paille ! what a fine dog you have there! Ah, I like those dzetters (nod, wink, and chirp), I had a noble one myself last year, but I gave it to an Englishman who spent five weeks with me.”

« What was his name?” asked I.

“ His name? Sabre de bois ! I never asked that; for in the first place I don't care a fig for any man's name if I like himself; and, in the second, I couldn't remember it if he had told it to me.

I never

* Sabre de bois !Pistolet de paille ! Sabre of wood !-Pistol of straw ! favourite, innocent, and very unexplainable oaths common in the mouth of my hero.

+ “ Voyez vous” and “ Savez vous" are the most usual expletives of Belgian conversation. . I can make no nearer approach to the orthography of the word setter, as pronounced by my hero.

could pronounce the name of an Englishman but General Bg but I had good reasons for knowing that."

“And what were they?" asked I, finding that I had to deal with a familiar spirit, who might amuse myself and others.

Sabre de bois ! you shall know that, but not now (nod, wink, and chirp). I'll tell you what, I am a man of few words (chirp); but I can speak to the point. Look there to the south-east; do you see that elm-tree standing alone in the distance ? there, far away-ay, that's it; my château is at the foot of that tree. I have good quarters there for a friend, and good shooting all round. I am at home over eight thousand arpens (nod and wink) d'ye see. Will you come with me? Supper will be ready, and there is always enough for a chance comer or two. Pistolet de paille ! say yes---come along!”

I had no notion of saying no. I was too much pleased with my subject to let it slip. “ Yes," answered I, “ I'll go with great pleasure.”

“Right, that's right! Sabre de bois ! I never knew an Englishman refuse an offer of shooting. If I had only asked you to supper you wouldn't have come ?” : “ Yes, I should, though; for I like hospitality even better than shooting." But I did not add that I liked the study of such an original even better than hospitality.

A man after my own heart ! Pray come down from that mound, that I may shake you by the hand. Sabre de bois! I'll ride up if you're not quick, d’ye see-(nod, wink, chirp, and laugh altogether). So, you'd have come to supper even without the shooting ?” continued he, grasping my offered hand, as I sprang down into the road. That's devilish unlike Englishmen in general, though. They'll sport with you as long as you like, kill every hare in your covers, and thin your partridges without mercy, d'ye 'see, and be hail fellow well met all the time; but ask them to breakfast, dine, or sup, and unless they can give you a return, either at Brussels (if they live there) or at the King of Spain ''at Genappe, hard by here, they'll refuse you, with a stiff bow, parbleu! as though you had done them mortal ill, or were not as good a gentle man, although you may be a better shot and a better fellow (no offence !) than themselves."

We had by this time turned in the direction of my companion's house, and as we went along he continued

“ That's a thing I never could understand in Englishmen. Why the devil do they lay such stress on the obligation of a dinner? Is eating a matter of such importance with them that a man is disgraced if he does not give bit for bit? How unsocial it is! How unworthy the spirit of hospitality and good fellowship! Sabre de bois ! If I share my meal with a man to-day, is he to bend down under the shame, when I may accept the same from another to-morrow ?... Pistolet de paille ! it seems to me a very false sense of dignity, that would raise the instinct of eating, which the very brutes enjoy, to a height of such moral consequence. Excuse me, Sir, but I love the English for all that the very sight of this field here makes me forget their failings."

I liked the shrewdness of these remarks, and I longed to chime in with some of my own on the same subject; but he gave me no time, and I was not sorry, after all, that he had turned into the channel with which I felt sure he had some particular connexion.


“You seryed at Waterloo, no doubt P” said I.

“ Served! Sabre de bois! But for me the battle had never been gained---no, nor fought, d'ye see. Served! Pistolet de paille !"

A peculiarly emphatic chorus of nod, wink, and that most inimitable chirp, followed the speech; while my hero--for such he was now avowed, on the best authority, next to his valet, if he had one-turned suddenly off the road, put spurs to his horse, and clearing the hedge of La Haye Sainte's orchard, galloped furiously over a considerable portion of the adjoining scene of the most terrible conflict of cavalry on the memorable day. There was in my hero a dash of that wild originality, that wandering from the beaten path of manners and conduct, which may be called symptomatic of insanity, but which is not the less amusing for all that. It is infinitely more common on the continent than at home; and I have often wished that foreigners of this stamp might sometimes bite a group of statue-like Englishmen, whose stiff good breeding and formal elegance show so ungracious a contrast to the more natural negligence and picturesque urbanity which surrounds them, I do not hold up the “ Hero of Waterloo ” model of French or even Belgian politeness; but he hit my fancy marvellously for the nonce, and I was resolved to let him fool himself “ to the top of his bent." He soon returned to my side.

Sabre de bois ! that charge did me good--that was the last done by the gallant Greys. What a glorious moment! There stood Napoleonthere Wellington-here swept along the cavalry—there thundered the cannon! Yonder came the Prussians-what a crash! Once a week, Monsieur, for a dozen years past, I have gone through the manœuvres of the fight. You caught me at it just now; and as long as I live, I will thus keep up the memory of my own glorious work.”

" You served in the cavalry, doubtless ?”
“ The cavalry! Pistolet de paille! I made the cavalry."

“ The Belgian, of course,” said I, now firmly believing that I was cheek-by-jowl with some general officer on half-pay, who had done good service to the cause; and I was prepared, from many an instance, particularly Prussian and Dutch, to hear that any one but he who really won the battle was entitled to all its fame.

“ Belgian, Dutch, Hanoverian, English--all, Sabre de bois! Monsieur, but for me Napoleon would have been this day emperor of the world; but for me you, and every other Englishman, would be a slave; but for me, I tell you again, the battle had never been won or fought. But, never mind, you shall hear all about it by-and-by. We must now think of supper. You have dined to-day, perhaps ?”

“ I have,” replied I, with a smile.

“ That's more than I have then, Sabre de bois ! I was jolliment taken in for a dinner. Monsieur, if there are two things I hate most in the world they are a priest and a doctor. Now, our sneaking curé has been for years asking me to dine with him, in hopes of getting a permanent plate at my table. But no; Pistolet de paille! a thousand times no! His jesuitical face would sour my wine, and kill my appetite as sure as a carbonade of beef. Sabre de bois ! I little thought he would ever have entrapped me to his den; but he caught me to-day in that heavy shower, about one o'clock. Ah! coquin that he is! He had his repast on the table; he never told me that till he got me inside, and then he and his niece set on me so fiercely that I could'nt resist. Sabre de bois d 'twas

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