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Nor was one forward footstep stay'd,
Fast as their ranks the thunders tear, 220 Fast they renew'd each serried square ;
And on the wounded and the slain
Emerging from the smoke they see 225 Helmet, and plume, and panoply,–
Then waked their fire at once!
As when they practise to display 230 Their discipline on festal day.
Then down went helm and lance,
And to augment the fray,
Forced their resistless way. Then to the musket-knell succeeds 240 The clash of swords—the neigh of steeds
As plies the smith his clanging trade,
The well-served cannon rent their way, 245 And while amid their scatter'd band
Raged the fierce rider's bloody brand,
Horsemen and foot—a mingled host, 250 Their leaders fall’n, their standards lost.
236. Wheeled for having wheeled. See Cowper's Task, i. 4, nota.
Then, WELLINGTON ! thy piercing eye
The British host had stood
They were their ocean's flood.
Hath wrought thy host this hour of shame, 260 Think'st thou, thy broken bands will bide
The terrors of yon rushing tide ?
Or dost thou turn thine eye 265 Where coming squadrons gleam afar, And fresher thunders wake the war,
And other standards fly l-
Thy conquering troops from Distant Dyle270 Is Blucher yet unknown ?
Or dwells not in thy memory still,
In Prussia's trumpet tone ?-
In one dread effort more ?-
255. Stance.—Firm ; a Scotch word, connected with staunch.
259. Thy host.-Dative case.
Waterloo, the French general, Grouchy, attacked the Prussian army.
272. Thine hour.-See Shakspere's Merchant of Venice, Act i. Scene 1, 120.
275. Shall it be thine to head.—Compare “What ghastly sights were thine to meet," 161.
269. Dyle.--The river flowing past Wavre, where, simultaneously with the battle of
980 That Chieftain, who of yore
Ambition’s dizzy paths essay'd,
For empire enterprised -
Dug his red grave with his own blade
Abhorr'd—but not despised.
But if revolves thy fainter thought 290 On safety-howsoever bought,
Then turn thy fearful rein and ride,
On this eventful day,
Wilt barter thus away.
And art thou He of Lodi's bridge, 300 Marengo's field and Wagram’s ridge !
Or is thy soul like mountain-tide,
Whose channel shows display'd
280. The allusion to the reckless and worthless Catiline is anything but flattering, and, we may add, appropriate to Napoleon.
291. Thy fearful rein.— The qualification fearful, which belongs properly to the agent,
the subject of the sentence, is poetically joined to another part of the sentence, with which logically it has nothing to do.
296. Thus, i.e , by turning to flight.
The wrecks of its impetuous course,
By which these wrecks were made !
Spur on thy way, since now thine ear
Who, as thy flight they eyed, Exclaim'd,—while tears of anguish came, 315 Wrung forth by pride, and rage, and shame,
" O that he had but died !” But yet, to sum this hour of ill, Look, ere thou leav'st the fatal hill,
Back on yon broken ranks—
When rivers break their banks.
Objects half seen roll swiftly by, 325 Down the dread current hurl'd
So mingle banner, wain, and gun,
Defied a banded world.
330 List-frequent to the hurrying rout,
The stern pursuers' vengeful shout
So fell a shriek was none, 335 When Beresina's icy flood
Redden'd and thaw'd with flame and blood.
339. The children of the Don.-The Cossacks.
340 Thine ear no yell of horror cleft
So ominous, when, all bereft
In Leipsic's corpse-encumber'd wave. 345 Fate, in those various perils past,
Reserved thee still some future cast ;
Not one campaign—thy martial fame, 350 Thy empire, dynasty, and name
Have felt the final stroke ;
The last dread seal is broke.
355 Since live thou wilt-refuse not now
Before these demagogues to bow,
Make wordy theme of vain debate. 360 Or shall we say, thou stoop’st less low
In seeking refuge from the foe,
Such homage hath been paid
If it were freely made.
342. The valiant Polack. After the fatal battle of Leipsic, the Polish general Poniatowski was drowned in the river Elster, the bridge of which had been blown up by the French to cover their retreat.
356. These demagogues.—The Republican party in France.
361. From the foe is governed by seeking, not by refuge.
364. Such homage, i.e., seeking refuge from the foe.
365. Coriolanus and Themistocles fled to the enemies of their country for protection from the bostile party at home