תמונות בעמוד

Nor was one forward footstep stay'd,
As dropp'd the dying and the dead.

Fast as their ranks the thunders tear, 220 Fast they renew'd each serried square ;

And on the wounded and the slain
Closed their diminish'd files again,
Till from their line scarce spears’-lengths three,

Emerging from the smoke they see 225 Helmet, and plume, and panoply,–

Then waked their fire at once!
Each musketeer's revolving knell,
As fast, as regularly fell,

As when they practise to display 230 Their discipline on festal day.

Then down went helm and lance,
Down were the eagle banners sent,
Down reeling steeds and riders went,
Corselets were pierced and pennons

rent 235

And to augment the fray,
Wheel'd full against their staggering flanks,
The English horsemen's foaming ranks

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,
Against the cuirass rang the blade ;
And while amid their close array

The well-served cannon rent their way, 245 And while amid their scatter'd band

Raged the fierce rider's bloody brand,
Recoild in common rout and fear,
Lancer and guard and cuirassier,

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
This crisis caught of destiny-

The British host had stood
That morn 'gainst charge of sword and lance
255 As their own ocean rocks hold stance,
But when thy voice had said “ Advance !”

They were their ocean's flood.
O Thou, whose inauspicious aim

Hath wrought thy host this hour of shame, 260 Think'st thou, thy broken bands will bide

The terrors of yon rushing tide ?
Or will thy chosen brook to feel
The British shock of leveli'd steel ?

Or dost thou turn thine eye 265 Where coming squadrons gleam afar, And fresher thunders wake the war,

And other standards fly l-
Think not that in yon columns, file

Thy conquering troops from Distant Dyle270 Is Blucher yet unknown ?

Or dwells not in thy memory still,
(Heard frequent in thine hour of ill)
What notes of hate and vengeance thrill

In Prussia's trumpet tone ?-
275 What yet remains ?—shall it be thine
To head the relics of thy line

In one dread effort more ?-
The Roman lore thy leisure loved,
And thou canst tell, what fortune proved

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,
And with the gladiators' aid

For empire enterprised -
He stood the cast, his rashness play'd,
285 Left not the victims, he had made,

Dug his red grave with his own blade
And on the field, he lost, was laid,

Abhorr'd—but not despised.


But if revolves thy fainter thought 290 On safety-howsoever bought,

Then turn thy fearful rein and ride,
Though twice ten thousand men have died

On this eventful day,
To gild the military fame
295 Which thou, for life, in traffic tame

Wilt barter thus away.
Shall future ages tell this tale
Of inconsistence faint and frail ?

And art thou He of Lodi's bridge, 300 Marengo's field and Wagram’s ridge !

Or is thy soul like mountain-tide,
That, swell’d by winter storm and shower,
Rolls down in turbulence of power,
A torrent fierce and wide

305 Reft of these aids, a rill obscure,
Shrinking unnoticed, mean and poor,

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,
But not one symptom of the force,

By which these wrecks were made !



Spur on thy way, since now thine ear
Has brook'd thy veterans' wish to hear.

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—
320 Upon whose wild confusion gleams
The moon, as on the troubled streams,

When rivers break their banks.
And to the ruin'd peasant's eye

Objects half seen roll swiftly by, 325 Down the dread current hurl'd

So mingle banner, wain, and gun,
Where the tumultuous flight rolls on
Of warriors, who, when morn begun,

Defied a banded world.


330 List-frequent to the hurrying rout,

The stern pursuers' vengeful shout
Tells, that upon their broken rear
Rages the Prussian's bloody spear.

So fell a shriek was none, 335 When Beresina's icy flood

Redden'd and thaw'd with flame and blood.
And pressing on thy desperate way
Raised oft and long their wild hurra
The children of the Don.

339. The children of the Don.-The Cossacks.

340 Thine ear no yell of horror cleft

So ominous, when, all bereft
Of aid, the valiant Polack left-
Ay, left by thee—found soldier's grave

In Leipsic's corpse-encumber'd wave. 345 Fate, in those various perils past,

Reserved thee still some future cast ;
On the dread die, thou now hast thrown,
Hangs not a single field alone,

Not one campaign—thy martial fame, 350 Thy empire, dynasty, and name

Have felt the final stroke ;
And now o'er thy devoted head
The last stern vial's wrath is shed,

The last dread seal is broke.


355 Since live thou wilt-refuse not now

Before these demagogues to bow,
Late objects of thy scorn and hate,
Who shall thy once imperial fate

Make wordy theme of vain debate. 360 Or shall we say, thou stoop’st less low

In seeking refuge from the foe,
Against whose heart, in prosperous life,
Thine hand hath ever held the knife {

Such homage hath been paid
365 By Roman and by Grecian voice,
And there were honour in the choice,

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

« הקודםהמשך »