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The Dynasts - An Epic-Drama Of The War With Napoleon, In Three Parts, - Nineteen Acts, And One Hundred And Thirty Scenes
by Thomas Hardy
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This brief amendment therefore I submit To limit Ministers' aggressiveness And make self-safety all their chartering: "We at the same time earnestly implore That the Prince Regent graciously induce Strenuous endeavours in the cause of peace, So long as it be done consistently With the due honour of the English crown." [Cheers.]

CASTLEREAGH

The arguments of Members opposite Posit conditions which experience proves But figments of a dream;—that honesty, Truth, and good faith in this same Bonaparte May be assumed and can be acted on: This of one who is loud to violate Bonds the most sacred, treaties the most grave!...

It follows not that since this realm was won To treat with Bonaparte at Chatillon, It can treat now. And as for assassination, The sentiments outspoken here to-night Are much more like to urge to desperate deeds Against the persons of our good Allies, Than are, against Napoleon, statements signed By the Vienna plenipotentiaries!

We are, in fine, too fully warranted On moral grounds to strike at Bonaparte, If we at any crisis reckon it Expedient so to do. The Government Will act throughout in concert with the Allies, And Ministers are well within their rights To claim that their responsibility Be not disturbed by hackneyed forms of speech ["Oh, oh"] Upon war's horrors, and the bliss of peace,— Which none denies! [Cheers.]

PONSONBY

I ask the noble lord, If that his meaning and pronouncement be Immediate war?

CASTLEREAGH

I have not phrased it so.

OPPOSITION CRIES

The question is unanswered!

[There are excited calls, and the House divides. The result is announced as thirty-seven for WHITBREAD'S amendment, and against it two hundred and twenty. The clock strikes twelve as the House adjourns.]



SCENE VI

WESSEX. DURNOVER GREEN, CASTERBRIDGE

[On a patch of green grass on Durnover Hill, in the purlieus of Casterbridge, a rough gallows has been erected, and an effigy of Napoleon hung upon it. Under the effigy are faggots of brushwood.

It is the dusk of a spring evening, and a great crowd has gathered, comprising male and female inhabitants of the Durnover suburb and villagers from distances of many miles. Also are present some of the county yeomanry in white leather breeches and scarlet, volunteers in scarlet with green facings, and the REVEREND MR. PALMER, vicar of the parish, leaning against the post of his garden door, and smoking a clay pipe of preternatural length. Also PRIVATE CANTLE from Egdon Heath, and SOLOMON LONGWAYS of Casterbridge. The Durnover band, which includes a clarionet, {serpent,} oboe, tambourine, cymbals, and drum, is playing "Lord Wellington's Hornpipe."]

RUSTIC [wiping his face]

Says I, please God I'll lose a quarter to zee he burned! And I left Stourcastle at dree o'clock to a minute. And if I'd known that I should be too late to zee the beginning on't, I'd have lost a half to be a bit sooner.

YEOMAN

Oh, you be soon enough good-now. He's just going to be lighted.

RUSTIC

But shall I zee en die? I wanted to zee if he'd die hard,

YEOMAN

Why, you don't suppose that Boney himself is to be burned here?

RUSTIC

What—not Boney that's to be burned?

A WOMAN

Why, bless the poor man, no! This is only a mommet they've made of him, that's got neither chine nor chitlings. His innerds be only a lock of straw from Bridle's barton.

LONGWAYS

He's made, neighbour, of a' old cast jacket and breeches from our barracks here. Likeways Grammer Pawle gave us Cap'n Meggs's old Zunday shirt that she'd saved for tinder-box linnit; and Keeper Tricksey of Mellstock emptied his powder-horn into a barm-bladder, to make his heart wi'.

RUSTIC [vehemently]

Then there's no honesty left in Wessex folk nowadays at all! "Boney's going to be burned on Durnover Green to-night,"— that was what I thought, to be sure I did, that he'd been catched sailing from his islant and landed at Budmouth and brought to Casterbridge Jail, the natural retreat of malefactors!—False deceivers—making me lose a quarter who can ill afford it; and all for nothing!

LONGWAYS

'Tisn't a mo'sel o' good for thee to cry out against Wessex folk, when 'twas all thy own stunpoll ignorance.

[The VICAR OF DURNOVER removes his pipe and spits perpendicularly.]

VICAR

My dear misguided man, you don't imagine that we should be so inhuman in this Christian country as to burn a fellow creature alive?

RUSTIC

Faith, I won't say I didn't! Durnover folk have never had the highest of Christian character, come to that. And I didn't know but that even a pa'son might backslide to such things in these gory times—I won't say on a Zunday, but on a week-night like this—when we think what a blasphemious rascal he is, and that there's not a more charnel-minded villain towards womenfolk in the whole world.

[The effigy has by this time been kindled, and they watch it burn, the flames making the faces of the crowd brass-bright, and lighting the grey tower of Durnover Church hard by.]

WOMAN [singing]

Bayonets and firelocks! I wouldn't my mammy should know't But I've been kissed in a sentry-box, Wrapped up in a soldier's coat!

PRIVATE CANTLE

Talk of backsliding to burn Boney, I can backslide to anything when my blood is up, or rise to anything, thank God for't! Why, I shouldn't mind fighting Boney single-handed, if so be I had the choice o' weapons, and fresh Rainbarrow flints in my flint-box, and could get at him downhill. Yes, I'm a dangerous hand with a pistol now and then!... Hark, what's that? [A horn is heard eastward on the London Road.] Ah, here comes the mail. Now we may learn something. Nothing boldens my nerves like news of slaughter!

[Enter mail-coach and steaming horses. It halts for a minute while the wheel is skidded and the horses stale.]

SEVERAL

What was the latest news from abroad, guard, when you left Piccadilly White-Horse-Cellar!

GUARD

You have heard, I suppose, that he's given up to public vengeance, by Gover'ment orders? Anybody may take his life in any way, fair or foul, and no questions asked. But Marshal Ney, who was sent to fight him, flung his arms round his neck and joined him with all his men. Next, the telegraph from Plymouth sends news landed there by The Sparrow, that he has reached Paris, and King Louis has fled. But the air got hazy before the telegraph had finished, and the name of the place he had fled to couldn't be made out.

[The VICAR OF DURNOVER blows a cloud of smoke, and again spits perpendicularly.]

VICAR

Well, I'm d—- Dear me—dear me! The Lord's will be done.

GUARD

And there are to be four armies sent against him—English, Proosian, Austrian, and Roosian: the first two under Wellington and Blucher. And just as we left London a show was opened of Boney on horseback as large as life, hung up with his head downwards. Admission one shilling; children half-price. A truly patriot spectacle!—Not that yours here is bad for a simple country-place.

[The coach drives on down the hill, and the crowd reflectively watches the burning.]

WOMAN [singing]

I

My Love's gone a-fighting Where war-trumpets call, The wrongs o' men righting Wi' carbine and ball, And sabre for smiting, And charger, and all

II

Of whom does he think there Where war-trumpets call? To whom does he drink there, Wi' carbine and ball On battle's red brink there, And charger, and all?

III

Her, whose voice he hears humming Where war-trumpets call, "I wait, Love, thy coming Wi' carbine and ball, And bandsmen a-drumming Thee, charger and all!"

[The flames reach the powder in the effigy, which is blown to rags. The band marches off playing "When War's Alarms," the crowd disperses, the vicar stands musing and smoking at his garden door till the fire goes out and darkness curtains the scene.]



ACT SIXTH

SCENE I

THE BELGIAN FRONTIER

[The village of Beaumont stands in the centre foreground of a birds'-eye prospect across the Belgian frontier from the French side, being close to the Sambre further back in the scene, which pursues a crinkled course between high banks from Maubeuge on the left to Charleroi on the right.

In the shadows that muffle all objects, innumerable bodies of infantry and cavalry are discerned bivouacking in and around the village. This mass of men forms the central column of NAPOLEONS'S army.

The right column is seen at a distance on that hand, also near the frontier, on the road leading towards Charleroi; and the left column by Solre-sur-Sambre, where the frontier and the river nearly coincide

The obscurity thins and the June dawn appears.]

DUMB SHOW

The bivouacs of the central column become broken up, and a movement ensues rightwards on Charleroi. The twelve regiments of cavalry which are in advance move off first; in half an hour more bodies move, and more in the next half-hour, till by eight o'clock the whole central army is gliding on. It defiles in strands by narrow tracks through the forest. Riding impatiently on the outskirts of the columns is MARSHAL NEY, who has as yet received no command.

As the day develops, sight and sounds to the left and right reveal that the two outside columns have also started, and are creeping towards the frontier abreast with the centre. That the whole forms one great movement, co-ordinated by one mind, now becomes apparent. Preceded by scouts the three columns converge.

The advance through dense woods by narrow paths takes time. The head of the middles and main column forces back some outposts, and reaches Charleroi, driving out the Prussian general ZIETEN. It seizes the bridge over the Sambre and blows up the gates of the town.

The point of observation now descends close to the scene.

In the midst comes the EMPEROR with the Sappers of the Guard, the Marines, and the Young Guard. The clatter brings the scared inhabitants to their doors and windows. Cheers arise from some of them as NAPOLEON passes up the steep street. Just beyond the town, in front of the Bellevue Inn, he dismounts. A chair is brought out, in which he sits and surveys the whole valley of the Sambre. The troops march past cheering him, and drums roll and bugles blow. Soon the EMPEROR is found to be asleep.

When the rattle of their passing ceases the silence wakes him. His listless eye falls upon a half-defaced poster on a wall opposite— the Declaration of the Allies.

NAPOLEON [reading]

"... Bonaparte destroys the only legal title on which his existence depended.... He has deprived himself of the protection of the law, and has manifested to the Universe that there can be neither peace nor truce with him. The Powers consequently declare that Napoleon Bonaparte has placed himself without the pale of civil and social relations, and that as an enemy and disturber of the tranquillity of the world he has rendered himself liable to public vengeance."

His flesh quivers, and he turns with a start, as if fancying that some one may be about to stab him in the back. Then he rises, mounts, and rides on.

Meanwhile the right column crosses the Sambre without difficulty at Chatelet, a little lower down; the left column at Marchienne a little higher up; and the three limbs combine into one vast army.

As the curtain of the mist is falling, the point of vision soars again, and there is afforded a brief glimpse of what is doing far away on the other side. From all parts of Europe long and sinister black files are crawling hitherward in serpentine lines, like slowworms through grass. They are the advancing armies of the Allies. The Dumb Show ends.



SCENE II

A BALLROOM IN BRUSSELS[22]

[It is a June midnight at the DUKE AND DUCHESS OF RICHMOND'S. A band of stringed instruments shows in the background. The room is crowded with a brilliant assemblage of more than two hundred of the distinguished people sojourning in the city on account of the war and other reasons, and of local personages of State and fashion. The ball has opened with "The White Cockade."

Among those discovered present either dancing or looking on are the DUKE and DUCHESS as host and hostess, their son and eldest daughter, the Duchess's brother, the DUKE OF WELLINGTON, the PRINCE OF ORANGE, the DUKE OF BRUNSWICK, BARON VAN CAPELLEN the Belgian Secretary of State, the DUKE OF ARENBERG, the MAYOR OF BRUSSELS, the DUKE AND DUCHESS OF BEAUFORT, GENERAL ALAVA, GENERAL OUDENARDE, LORD HILL, LORD AND LADY CONYNGHAM, SIR HENRY AND LADY SUSAN CLINTON, SIR H. AND LADY HAMILTON DALRYMPLE, SIR WILLIAM AND LADY DE LANCEY, LORD UXBRIDGE, SIR JOHN BYNG, LORD PORTARLINGTON, LORD EDWARD SOMERSET, LORD HAY, COLONEL ABERCROMBY, SIR HUSSEY VIVIAN, SIR A. GORDON, SIR W. PONSONBY, SIR DENIS PACK, SIR JAMES KEMPT, SIR THOMAS PICTON, GENERAL MAITLAND, COLONEL CAMERON, many other officers, English, Hanoverian, Dutch and Belgian ladies English and foreign, and Scotch reel-dancers from Highland regiments.

The "Hungarian Waltz" having also been danced, the hostess calls up the Highland soldiers to show the foreign guests what a Scotch reel is like. The men put their hands on their hips and tread it out briskly. While they stand aside and rest "The Hanoverian Dance" is called.

Enter LIEUTENANT WEBSTER, A.D.C. to the PRINCE OF ORANGE. The Prince goes apart with him and receives a dispatch. After reading it he speaks to WELLINGTON, and the two, accompanied by the DUKE OF RICHMOND, retire into an alcove with serious faces. WEBSTER, in passing back across the ballroom, exchanges a hasty word with two of three of the guests known to him, a young officer among them, and goes out.

YOUNG OFFICER [to partner]

The French have passed the Sambre at Charleroi!

PARTNER

What—does it mean the Bonaparte indeed Is bearing down upon us?

YOUNG OFFICER

That is so. The one who spoke to me in passing out Is Aide to the Prince of Orange, bringing him Dispatches from Rebecque, his chief of Staff, Now at the front, not far from Braine le Comte; He says that Ney, leading the French van-guard, Has burst on Quatre-Bras.

PARTNER

O horrid time! Will you, then, have to go and face him there?

YOUNG OFFICER

I shall, of course, sweet. Promptly too, no doubt. [He gazes about the room.] See—the news spreads; the dance is paralyzed. They are all whispering round. [The band stops.] Here comes one more, He's the attache from the Prussian force At our headquarters.

[Enter GENERAL MUFFLING. He looks prepossessed, and goes straight to WELLINGTON and RICHMOND in the alcove, who by this time have been joined by the DUKE OF BRUNSWICK.]

SEVERAL GUESTS [at back of room]

Yes, you see, it's true! The army will prepare to march at once.

PICTON [to another general]

I am damn glad we are to be off. Pottering about her pinned to petticoat tails—it does one no good, but blasted harm!

ANOTHER GUEST

The ball cannot go on, can it? Didn't the Duke know the French were so near? If he did, how could he let us run risks so coolly?

LADY HAMILTON DALRYMPLE [to partner]

A deep concern weights those responsible Who gather in the alcove. Wellington Affects a cheerfulness in outward port, But cannot rout his real anxiety!

[The DUCHESS OF RICHMOND goes to her husband.]

DUCHESS

Ought I to stop the ball? It hardly seems right to let it continue if all be true.

RICHMOND

I have put that very question to Wellington, my dear. He says that we need not hurry off the guests. The men have to assemble some time before the officers, who can stay on here a little longer without inconvenience; and he would prefer that they should, not to create a panic in the city, where the friends and spies of Napoleon are all agog for some such thing, which they would instantly communicate to him to take advantage of.

DUCHESS

Is it safe to stay on? Should we not be thinking about getting the children away?

RICHMOND

There's no hurry at all, even if Bonaparte were really sure to enter. But he's never going to set foot in Brussels—don't you imagine it for a moment.

DUCHESS [anxiously]

I hope not. But I wish we had never brought them here!

RICHMOND

It is too late, my dear, to wish that now. Don't be flurried; make the people go on dancing.

[The DUCHESS returns to her guests. The DUKE rejoins WELLINGTON, BRUNSWICK, MUFFLING, and the PRINCE OF ORANGE in the alcove.]

WELLINGTON

We need not be astride till five o'clock If all the men are marshalled well ahead. The Brussels citizens must not suppose They stand in serious peril... He, I think, Directs his main attack mistakenly; It should gave been through Mons, not Charleroi.

MUFFLING

The Austrian armies, and the Russian too, Will show nowhere in this. The thing that's done, Be it a historied feat or nine days' fizz, Will be done long before they join us here.

WELLINGTON

Yes, faith; and 'tis pity. But, by God, Blucher, I think, and I can make a shift To do the business without troubling 'em! Though I've an infamous army, that's the truth,— Weak, and but ill-equipped,—and what's as bad, A damned unpractised staff!

MUFFLING

We'll hope for luck. Blucher concentrates certainly by now Near Ligny, as he says in his dispatch. Your Grace, I glean, will mass at Quatre-Bras?

WELLINGTON

Ay, now we are sure this move on Charleroi Is no mere feint. Though I had meant Nivelles. Have ye a good map, Richmond, near at hand?

RICHMOND

In the next room there's one. [Exit RICHMOND.]

[WELLINGTON calls up various general officers and aides from other parts of the room. PICTON, UXBRIDGE, HILL, CLINTON, VIVIAN, MAITLAND, PONSONBY, SOMERSET, and others join him in succession, receive orders, and go out severally.]

PRINCE OF ORANGE

As my divisions seem to lie around The probable point of impact, it behoves me To start at once, Duke, for Genappe, I deem? Being in Brussels, all for this damned ball, The dispositions out there have, so far, Been made by young Saxe Weimar and Perponcher, On their own judgment quite. I go, your Grace?

WELLINGTON

Yes, certainly. 'Tis now desirable. Farewell! Good luck, until we meet again, The battle won!

[Exit PRINCE OF ORANGE, and shortly after, MUFFLING. RICHMOND returns with a map, which he spreads out on the table. WELLINGTON scans it closely.]

Napoleon has befooled me, By God he has,—gained four-and-twenty hours' Good march upon me!

RICHMOND

What do you mean to do?

WELLINGTON

I have bidden the army concentrate in strength At Quatre-Bras. But we shan't stop him there; So I must fight him HERE. [He marks Waterloo with his thumbnail.] Well, now I have sped, All necessary orders I may sup, And then must say good-bye. [To Brunswick.] This very day There will be fighting, Duke. You are fit to start?

BRUNSWICK [coming forward]

I leave almost this moment.—Yes, your Grace— And I sheath not my sword till I have avenged My father's death. I have sworn it!

WELLINGTON

My good friend, Something too solemn knells beneath your words. Take cheerful views of the affair in hand, And fall to't with sang froid!

BRUNSWICK

But I have sworn! Adieu. The rendezvous is Quatre-Bras?

WELLINGTON

Just so. The order is unchanged. Adieu; But only till a later hour to-day; I see it is one o'clock.

[WELLINGTON and RICHMOND go out of the alcove and join the hostess, BRUNSWICK'S black figure being left there alone. He bends over the map for a few seconds.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

O Brunswick, Duke of Deathwounds! Even as he For whom thou wear'st that filial weedery Was waylaid by my tipstaff nine years since, So thou this day shalt feel his fendless tap, And join thy sire!

BRUNSWICK [starting up]

I am stirred by inner words, As 'twere my father's angel calling me,— That prelude to our death my lineage know!

[He stands in a reverie for a moment; then, bidding adieu to the DUCHESS OF RICHMOND and her daughter, goes slowly out of the ballroom by a side-door.]

DUCHESS

The Duke of Brunswick bore him gravely here. His sable shape has stuck me all the eve As one of those romantic presences We hear of—seldom see.

WELLINGTON [phlegmatically]

Romantic,—well, It may be so. Times often, ever since The Late Duke's death, his mood has tinged him thus. He is of those brave men who danger see, And seeing front it,—not of those, less brave But counted more, who face it sightlessly.

YOUNG OFFICER [to partner]

The Generals slip away! I, Love, must take The cobbled highway soon. Some hours ago The French seized Charleroi; so they loom nigh.

PARTNER [uneasily]

Which tells me that the hour you draw your sword Looms nigh us likewise!

YOUNG OFFICER

Some are saying here We fight this very day. Rumours all-shaped Fly round like cockchafers!

[Suddenly there echoes in the ballroom a long-drawn metallic purl of sound, making all the company start.]

Transcriber's Note: There follows in musical notation five measures for side-drum.

Ah—there it is, Just as I thought! They are beating the Generale.

[The loud roll of side-drums is taken up by other drums further and further away, till the hollow noise spreads all over the city. Dismay is written on the faces of the women. The Highland non- commissioned officers and privates march smartly down the ballroom and disappear.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Discerned you stepping out in front of them That figure—of a pale drum-major kind, Or fugleman—who wore a cold grimace?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

He was my old fiend Death, in rarest trim, The occasion favouring his husbandry!

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Are those who marched behind him, then, to fall?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Ay, all well-nigh, ere Time have houred three-score.

PARTNER

Surely this cruel call to instant war Spares space for one dance more, that memory May store when you are gone, while I—sad me!— Wait, wait and weep.... Yes—one there is to be!

SPIRIT IRONIC

Methinks flirtation grows too tender here!

[Country Dance, "The Prime of Life," a favourite figure at this period. The sense of looming tragedy carries emotion to its climax. All the younger officers stand up with their partners, forming several figures of fifteen or twenty couples each. The air is ecstasizing, and both sexes abandon themselves to the movement.

Nearly half an hour passes before the figure is danced down. Smothered kisses follow the conclusion. The silence is broken from without by more long hollow rolling notes, so near that they thrill the window-panes.]

SEVERAL

'Tis the Assemble. Now, then, we must go!

[The officers bid farewell to their partners and begin leaving in twos and threes. When they are gone the women mope and murmur to each other by the wall, and listen to the tramp of men and slamming of doors in the streets without.]

LADY HAMILTON DALRYMPLE

The Duke has borne him gaily here to-night. The youngest spirits scarcely capped his own.

DALRYMPLE

Maybe that, finding himself blade to blade With Bonaparte at last, his blood gets quick. French lancers of the Guard were seen at Frasnes Last midnight; so the clash is not far off.

[They leave.]

DE LANCEY [to his wife]

I take you to our door, and say good-bye, And go thence to the Duke's and wait for him. In a few hours we shall be all in motion Towards the scene of—what we cannot tell! You, dear, will haste to Antwerp till it's past, As we have arranged.

[They leave.]

WELLINGTON [to Richmond]

Now I must also go, And snatch a little snooze ere harnessing. The Prince and Brunswick have been gone some while.

[RICHMOND walks to the door with him. Exit WELLINGTON, RICHMOND returns.]

DUCHESS [to Richmond]

Some of these left renew the dance, you see. I cannot stop them; but with memory hot Of those late gone, of where they are gone, and why, It smacks of heartlessness!

RICHMOND

Let be; let be; Youth comes not twice to fleet mortality!

[The dancing, however, is fitful and spiritless, few but civilian partners being left for the ladies. Many of the latter prefer to sit in reverie while waiting for their carriages.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

When those stout men-at-arms drew forward there, I saw a like grimacing shadow march And pirouette before no few of them. Some of themselves beheld it; some did not.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Which were so ushered?

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Brunswick, who saw and knew; One also moved before Sir Thomas Picton, Who coolly conned and drily spoke to it; Another danced in front of Ponsonby, Who failed of heeding his.—De Lancey, Hay, Gordon, and Cameron, and many more Were footmanned by like phantoms from the ball.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Multiplied shimmerings of my Protean friend, Who means to couch them shortly. Thou wilt eye Many fantastic moulds of him ere long, Such as, bethink thee, oft hast eyed before.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

I have—too often!

[The attenuated dance dies out, the remaining guests depart, the musicians leave the gallery and depart also. RICHMOND goes to a window and pulls back one of the curtains. Dawn is barely visible in the sky, and the lamps indistinctly reveal that long lines of British infantry have assembled in the street. In the irksomeness of waiting for their officers with marching-orders, they have lain down on the pavements, where many are soundly sleeping, their heads on their knapsacks and their arms by their side.]

DUCHESS

Poor men. Sleep waylays them. How tired they seem!

RICHMOND

They'll be more tired before the day is done. A march of eighteen miles beneath the heat, And then to fight a battle ere they rest, Is what foreshades.—Well, it is more than bed-time; But little sleep for us or any one To-night in Brussels!

[He draws the window-curtain and goes out with the DUCHESS. Servants enter and extinguish candles. The scene closes in darkness.]



SCENE III

CHARLEROI. NAPOLEON'S QUARTERS

[The same midnight. NAPOLEON is lying on a bed in his clothes. In consultation with SOULT, his Chief of Staff, who is sitting near, he dictates to his Secretary orders for the morrow. They are addressed to KELLERMANN, DROUOT, LOBAU, GERARD, and other of his marshals. SOULT goes out to dispatch them.

The Secretary resumes the reading of reports. Presently MARSHAL NEY is announced He is heard stumbling up the stairs, and enters.]

NAPOLEON

Ah, Ney; why come you back? Have you secured The all-important Crossways?—safely sconced Yourself at Quatre-Bras?

NEY

Not, sire, as yet. For, marching forwards, I heard gunnery boom, And, fearing that the Prussians had engaged you, I stood at pause. Just then—-

NAPOLEON

My charge was this: Make it impossible at any cost That Wellington and Blucher should unite. As it's from Brussels that the English come, And from Namur the Prussians, Quatre-Bras Lends it alone for their forgathering: So, why exists it not in your hands/

NEY

My reason, sire, was rolling from my tongue.— Hard on the boom of guns, dim files of foot Which read to me like massing Englishry— The vanguard of all Wellington's array— I half-discerned. So, in pure wariness, I left the Bachelu columns there at Frasnes, And hastened back to tell you.

NAPOLEON

Ney; O Ney! I fear you are not the man that once you were; Of your so daring, such a faint-heart now! I have ground to know the foot that flustered you Were but a few stray groups of Netherlanders; For my good spies in Brussels send me cue That up to now the English have not stirred, But cloy themselves with nightly revel there.

NEY [bitterly]

Give me another opportunity Before you speak like that!

NAPOLEON

You soon will have one!... But now—no more of this. I have other glooms Upon my soul—the much-disquieting news That Bourmont has deserted to our foes With his whole staff.

NEY

We can afford to let him.

NAPOLEON

It is what such betokens, not their worth, That whets it!... Love, respect for me, have waned; But I will right that. We've good chances still. You must return foot-hot to Quatre-Bras; There Kellermann's cuirassiers will promptly join you To bear the English backward Brussels way. I go on towards Fleurus and Ligny now.— If Blucher's force retreat, and Wellington's Lie somnolent in Brussels one day more, I gain that city sans a single shot!...

Now, friend, downstairs you'll find some supper ready, Which you must tuck in sharply, and then off. The past day has not ill-advantaged us; We have stolen upon the two chiefs unawares, And in such sites that they must fight apart. Now for a two hours' rest.—Comrade, adieu Until to-morrow!

NEY

Till to-morrow, sire!

[Exit NEY. NAPOLEON falls asleep, and the Secretary waits till dictation shall be resumed. BUSSY, the orderly officer, comes to the door.

BUSSY

Letters—arrived from Paris. [Hands letters.]

SECRETARY

He shall have them The moment he awakes. These eighteen hours He's been astride; and is not what he was.— Much news from Paris?

BUSSY

I can only say What's not the news. The courier has just told me He'd nothing from the Empress at Vienna To bring his Majesty. She writes no more.

SECRETARY

And never will again! In my regard That bird's forsook the nest for good and all.

BUSSY

All that they hear in Paris from her court Is through our spies there. One of them reports This rumour of her: that the Archduke John, In taking leave to join our enemies here, Said, "Oh, my poor Louise; I am grieved for you And what I hope is, that he'll be run through, Or shot, or break his neck, for your own good No less than ours.

NAPOLEON [waking]

By "he" denoting me?

BUSSY [starting]

Just so, your Majesty.

NAPOLEON [peremptorily]

What said the Empress?

BUSSY

She gave no answer, sire, that rumour bears.

NAPOLEON

Count Neipperg, whom they have made her chamberlain, Interred his wife last spring—is it not so?

BUSSY

He did, your Majesty.

NAPOLEON

H'm....You may go.

[Exit BUSSY. The Secretary reads letters aloud in succession. He comes to the last; begins it; reaches a phrase, and stops abruptly.]

Mind not! Read on. No doubt the usual threat, Or prophecy, from some mad scribe? Who signs it?

SECRETARY

The subscript is "The Duke of Enghien!"

NAPOLEON [starting up]

Bah, man! A treacherous trick! A hoax—no more! Is that the last?

SECRETARY

The last, your Majesty.

NAPOLEON

Then now I'll sleep. In two hours have me called.

SECRETARY

I'll give the order, sire.

[The Secretary goes. The candles are removed, except one, and NAPOLEON endeavours to compose himself.]

SPIRIT IRONIC

A little moral panorama would do him no harm, after that reminder of the Duke of Enghien. Shall it be, young Compassion?

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

What good—if that old Years tells us be true? But I say naught. To ordain is not for me!

[Thereupon a vision passes before NAPOLEON as he lies, comprising hundreds of thousands of skeletons and corpses in various stages of decay. They rise from his various battlefields, the flesh dropping from them, and gaze reproachfully at him. His intimate officers who have been slain he recognizes among the crowd. In front is the DUKE OF ENGHIEN as showman.]

NAPOLEON [in his sleep]

Why, why should this reproach be dealt me now? Why hold me my own master, if I be Ruled by the pitiless Planet of Destiny?

[He jumps up in a sweat and puts out the last candle; and the scene is curtained by darkness.]



SCENE IV

A CHAMBER OVERLOOKING A MAIN STREET IN BRUSSELS

[A June sunrise; the beams struggling through the window-curtains. A canopied bed in a recess on the left. The quick notes of "Brighton Camp, or the "Girl I've left behind me," strike sharply into the room from fifes and drums without. A young lady in a dressing-gown, who has evidently been awaiting the sound, springs from the bed like a hare from its form, undraws window-curtains and opens the window.

Columns of British soldiery are marching past from the Parc southward out of the city by the Namur Gate. The windows of other houses in the street rattle open, and become full of gazers.

A tap at the door. An older lady enters, and comes up to the first.]

YOUNGER LADY [turning]

O mamma—I didn't hear you!

ELDER LADY

I was sound asleep till the thumping of the drums set me fantastically dreaming, and when I awoke I found they were real. Did they wake you too, my dear?

Younger Lady [reluctantly]

I didn't require waking. I hadn't slept since we came home.

ELDER LADY

That was from the excitement of the ball. There are dark rings round your eye. [The fifes and drums are now opposite, and thrill the air in the room.] Ah—that "Girl I've left behind me!"—which so many thousands of women have throbbed an accompaniment to, and will again to-day if ever they did!

YOUNGER LADY [her voice faltering]

It is rather cruel to say that just now, mamma. There, I can't look at them after it! [She turns and wipes her eyes.]

ELDER LADY

I wasn't thinking of ourselves—certainly not of you.—How they press on—with those great knapsacks and firelocks and, I am told, fifty-six rounds of ball-cartridge, and four days' provisions in those haversacks. How can they carry it all near twenty miles and fight with it on their shoulders!... Don't cry, dear. I thought you would get sentimental last night over somebody. I ought to have brought you home sooner. How many dances did you have? It was impossible for me to look after you in the excitement of the war-tidings.

YOUNGER LADY

Only three—four.

ELDER LADY

Which were they?

YOUNGER LADY

"Enrico," the "Copenhagen Waltz" and the "Hanoverian," and the "Prime of Life."

ELDER LADY

It was very foolish to fall in love on the strength of four dances.

YOUNGER LADY [evasively]

Fall in love? Who said I had fallen in love? What a funny idea!

ELDER LADY

Is it?... Now here come the Highland Brigade with their pipes and their "Hieland Laddie." How the sweethearts cling to the men's arms. [Reaching forward.] There are more regiments following. But look, that gentleman opposite knows us. I cannot remember his name. [She bows and calls across.] Sir, which are these?

GENTLEMAN OPPOSITE

The Ninety-second. Next come the Forty-ninth, and next the Forty- second—Sir Denis Pack's brigade.

ELDER LADY

Thank you.—I think it is that gentleman we talked to at the Duchess's, but I am not sure. [A pause: another band.]

GENTLEMAN OPPOSITE

That's the Twenty-eighth. [They pass, with their band and colours.] Now the Thirty-second are coming up—part of Kempt's brigade. Endless, are they not?

ELDER LADY

Yes, Sir. Has the Duke passed out yet?

GENTLEMAN OPPOSITE

Not yet. Some cavalry will go by first, I think. The foot coming up now are the Seventy-ninth. [They pass.]... These next are the Ninety-fifth. [They pass.]... These are the First Foot- guards now. [They pass, playing "British Grenadiers."]... The Fusileer-guards now. [They pass.] Now the Coldstreamers. [They pass. He looks up towards the Parc.] Several Hanoverian regiments under Colonel Best are coming next. [They pass, with their bands and colours. An interval.]

ELDER LADY [to daughter]

Here are the hussars. How much more they carry to battle than at reviews. The hay in those great nets must encumber them. [She turns and sees that her daughter has become pale.] Ah, now I know! HE has just gone by. You exchanged signals with him, you wicked girl! How do you know what his character is, or if he'll ever come back?

[The younger lady goes and flings herself on her face upon the bed, sobbing silently. Her mother glances at her, but leaves her alone. An interval. The prancing of a group of horsemen is heard on the cobble-stones without.]

GENTLEMAN OPPOSITE [calling]

Here comes the Duke!

ELDER LADY [to younger]

You have left the window at the most important time! The Duke of Wellington and his staff-officers are passing out.

YOUNGER LADY

I don't want to see him. I don't want to see anything any more!

[Riding down the street comes WELLINGTON in a grey frock-coat and small cocked hat, frigid and undemonstrative; accompanied by four or five Generals of his suite, the Deputy Quartermaster-general De LANCEY, LORD FITZROY SOMERSET, Aide-de-camp, and GENERAL MUFFLING.]

GENTLEMAN OPPOSITE

He is the Prussian officer attached to our headquarters, through whom Wellington communicates with Blucher, who, they say, is threatened by the French at Ligny at this moment.

[The elder lady turns to her daughter, and going to the bed bends over her, while the horses' tramp of WELLINGTON and his staff clatters more faintly in the street, and the music of the last retreating band dies away towards the Forest of Soignes.

Finding her daughter is hysterical with grief she quickly draws the window-curtains to screen the room from the houses opposite. Scene ends.]



SCENE V

THE FIELD OF LIGNY

[The same day later. A prospect of the battlefield of Ligny southward from the roof of the windmill of Bussy, which stands at the centre and highest point of the Prussian position, about six miles south-east of Quatre-Bras.

The ground slopes downward along the whole front of the scene to a valley through which wanders the Ligne, a muddy stream bordered by sallows. On both sides of the stream, in the middle plane of the picture, stands the village of Ligny, composed of thatched cottages, gardens, and farm-houses with stone walls; the main features, such as the church, church-yard, and village-green being on the further side of the Ligne.

On that side the land reascends in green wheatfields to an elevation somewhat greater than that of the foreground, reaching away to Fleurus in the right-hand distance.

In front, on the slopes between the spectator and the village, is the First Corps of the Prussian army commanded by Zieten, its First Brigade under STEINMETZ occupying the most salient point. The Corps under THIELMANN is ranged to the left, and that of PIRCH to the rear, in reserve to ZIETEN. In the centre-front, just under the mill, BLUCHER on a fine grey charger is intently watching, with his staff.

Something dark is seen to be advancing over the horizon by Fleurus, about three miles off. It is the van of NAPOLEON'S army, approaching to give battle.

At this moment hoofs are heard clattering along a road that passes behind the mill; and there come round to the front the DUKE OF WELLINGTON, his staff-officers, and a small escort of cavalry.

WELLINGTON and BLUCHER greet each other at the foot of the windmill. They disappear inside, and can be heard ascending the ladders.

Enter on the roof WELLINGTON and BLUCHER, followed by FITZROY SOMERSET, GNEISENAU, MUFFLING, and others. Before renewing their conversation they peer through their glasses at the dark movements on the horizon. WELLINGTON'S manner is deliberate, judicial, almost indifferent; BLUCHER'S eager and impetuous.

WELLINGTON

They muster not as yet in near such strength At Quatre-Bras as here.

BLUCHER

'Tis from Fleurus They come debouching. I, perforce, withdrew My forward posts of cavalry at dawn In face of their light cannon.... They'll be here I reckon, soon!

WELLINGTON [still with glass]

I clearly see his staff, And if my eyes don't lie, the Arch-one too.... It is the whole Imperial army, Prince, That we've before us. [A silence.] Well, we'll cope with them! What would you have me do?

[BLUCHER is so absorbed in what he sees that he does not heed.]

GNEISENAU

Duke, this I'd say: Events suggest to us that you come up With all your force, behind the village here, And act as our reserve.

MUFFLING

But Bonaparte, Pray note, has redistributed his strength In fashion that you fail to recognize. I am against your scheme.

BLUCHER [lowering his glass]

Signs notify Napoleon's plans as changed! He purports now To strike our left—between Sombreffe and Brye.... If so, I have to readjust my ward.

WELLINGTON

One of his two divisions that we scan Outspreading from Fleurus, seems bent on Ligny, The other on Saint-Amand.

BLUCHER

Well, I shall see In half an hour, your Grace. If what I deem Be what he means, Von Zieten's corps forthwith Must stand to their positions: Pirch out here, Henckel at Ligny, Steinmetz at La Haye.

WELLINGTON

So that, your Excellency, as I opine, I go and sling my strength on their left wing— Manoeuvring to outflank 'em on that side.

BLUCHER

True, true. Our plan uncovers of itself; You bear down everything from Quatre-Bras Along the road to Frasnes.

WELLINGTON

I will, by God. I'll bear straight on to Gosselies, if needs!

GNEISENAU

Your Excellencies, if I may be a judge, Such movement will not tend to unity; It leans too largely on a peradventure Most speculative in its contingencies!

[A silence; till the officers of the staff remark to each other that concentration is best in any circumstances. A general discussion ensues.]

BLUCHER [concludingly]

We will expect you, Duke, to our support.

WELLINGTON

I must agree that, in the sum, it's best. So be it then. If not attacked myself I'll come to you.—Now I return with speed To Quatre-Bras.

BLUCHER

And I descend from here To give close eye and thought to things below; No more can well be studied where we stand.

[Exeunt from roof WELLINGTON, BLUCHER and the rest. They reappear below, and WELLINGTON and his suite gallop furiously away in the direction of Quatre-Bras. An interval.]

DUMB SHOW [below]

Three reports of a cannon give the signal for the French attack. NAPOLEON'S army advances down the slopes of green corn opposite, bands and voices joining in songs of victory. The French come in three grand columns; VANDAMME'S on the left [the spectator's right] against Saint-Amand, the most forward angle of the Prussian position. GERARD'S in the centre bear down upon Ligny. GROUCHY'S on the French right is further back. Far to the rear can be discerned NAPOLEON, the Imperial Guard, and MILHAUD'S cuirassiers halted in reserve.

This formidable advance is preceded by swarms of tirailleurs, who tread down the high wheat, exposing their own men in the rear.

Amid cannonading from both sides they draw nearer to the Prussians, though lanes are cut through them by the latter's guns. They drive the Prussians out of Ligny; who, however, rally in the houses, churchyard, and village green.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

I see unnatural an Monster, loosely jointed, With an Apocalyptic Being's shape, And limbs and eyes a hundred thousand strong, And fifty thousand heads; which coils itself About the buildings there.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Thou dost indeed. It is the Monster Devastation. Watch.

Round the church they fight without quarter, shooting face to face, stabbing with unfixed bayonets, and braining with the butts of muskets. The village catches fire, and soon becomes a furnace. The crash of splitting timbers as doors are broken through, the curses of the fighters, rise into the air, with shouts of "En avant!" from the further side of the stream, and "Vorwarts!" from the nearer.

The battle extends to the west by Le Hameau and Saint-Amand la Haye; and Ligny becomes invisible under a shroud of smoke.

VOICES [at the base of the mill]

This sun will go down bloodily for us! The English, sharply sighed for by Prince Blucher, Cannot appear. Wellington words across That hosts have set on him at Quatre-Bras, And leave him not one bayonet to spare!

The truth of this intelligence is apparent. A low dull sound heard lately from the direction of Quatre-Bras has increased to a roaring cannonade. The scene abruptly closes.



SCENE VI

THE FIELD AT QUATRE-BRAS

[The same day. The view is southward, and the straight gaunt highway from Brussels [behind the spectator] to Charleroi over the hills in front, bisects the picture from foreground to distance. Near at hand, where it is elevated and open, there crosses it obliquely, at a point called Les Quatre-Bras, another road which comes from Nivelle, five miles to the gazer's right rear, and goes to Namur, twenty miles ahead to the left. At a distance of five or six miles in this latter direction it passes near the previous scene, Ligny, whence the booming of guns can be continuously heard.

Between the cross-roads in the centre of the scene and the far horizon the ground dips into a hollow, on the other side of which the same straight road to Charleroi is seen climbing the crest, and over it till out of sight. From a hill on the right hand of the mid-distance a large wood, the wood of Bossu, reaches up nearly to the crossways, which give their name to the buildings thereat, consisting of a few farm-houses and an inn.

About three-quarters of a mile off, nearly hidden by the horizon towards Charleroi, there is also a farmstead, Gemioncourt; another, Piraumont, stands on an eminence a mile to the left of it, and somewhat in front of the Namur road.]

DUMB SHOW

As this scene uncovers the battle is beheld to be raging at its height, and to have reached a keenly tragic phase. WELLINGTON has returned from Ligny, and the main British and Hanoverian position, held by the men who marched out of Brussels in the morning, under officers who danced the previous night at the Duchess's, is along the Namur road to the left of the perspective, and round the cross- road itself. That of the French, under Ney, is on the crests further back, from which they are descending in imposing numbers. Some advanced columns are assailing the English left, while through the smoke-hazes of the middle of the field two lines of skirmishers are seen firing at each other—the southernmost dark blue, the northernmost dull red. Time lapses till it is past four o'clock.

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

The cannonade of the French ordnance-lines Has now redoubled. Columns new and dense Of foot, supported by fleet cavalry, Straightly impinge upon the Brunswick bands That border the plantation of Bossu. Above some regiments of the assaulting French A flag like midnight swims upon the air, To say no quarter may be looked for there!

The Brunswick soldiery, much notched and torn by the French grape- shot, now lie in heaps. The DUKE OF BRUNSWICK himself, desperate to keep them steady, lights his pipe, and rides slowly up and down in front of his lines previous to the charge which follows.

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

The French have heaved them on the Brunswickers, And borne them back. Now comes the Duke's told time. He gallops at the head of his hussars— Those men of solemn and appalling guise, Full-clothed in black, with nodding hearsy plumes, A shining silver skull and cross of bones Set upon each, to byspeak his slain sire.... Concordantly, the expected bullet starts And finds the living son.

BRUNSWICK reels to the ground. His troops, disheartened, lose their courage and give way.

The French front columns, and the cavalry supporting them, shout as they advance. The Allies are forced back upon the English main position. WELLINGTON is in personal peril for a time, but he escapes it by a leap of his horse.

A curtain of smoke drops. An interval. The curtain reascends.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Behold again the Dynasts' gory gear! Since we regarded, what has progressed here?

RECORDING ANGEL [in recitative]

Musters of English foot and their allies Came palely panting by the Brussels way, And, swiftly stationed, checked their counter-braves. Ney, vexed by lack of like auxiliaries, Bade then the columned cuirassiers to charge In all their edged array of weaponcraft. Yea; thrust replied to thrust, and fire to fire; The English broke, till Picton prompt to prop them Sprang with fresh foot-folk from the covering rye.

Next, Pire's cavalry took up the charge.... And so the action sways. The English left Is turned at Piraumont; whilst on their right Perils infest the greenwood of Bossu; Wellington gazes round with dubious view; England's long fame in fight seems sepulchered, And ominous roars swell loudlier Ligny-ward.

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

New rage has wrenched the battle since thou'st writ; Hot-hasting succours of light cannonry Lately come up, relieve the English stress; Kellermann's cuirassiers, both man and horse All plated over with the brass of war, Are rolling on the highway. More brigades Of British, soiled and sweltering, now are nigh, Who plunge within the boscage of Bossu; Where in the hidden shades and sinuous creeps Life-struggles can be heard, seen but in peeps. Therewith the foe's accessions harass Ney, Racked that no needful d'Erlon darks the way!

Inch by inch NEY has to draw off: WELLINGTON promptly advances. At dusk NEY'S army finds itself back at Frasnes, where he meets D'ERLON coming up to his assistance, too late.

The weary English and their allies, who have been on foot ever since one o'clock the previous morning, prepare to bivouac in front of the cross-roads. Their fires flash up for a while; and by and by the dead silence of heavy sleep hangs over them. WELLINGTON goes into his tent, and the night darkens.

A Prussian courier from Ligny enters, who is conducted into the tent to WELLINGTON.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

What tidings can a courier bring that count Here, where such mighty things are native born?

RECORDING ANGEL [in recitative]

The fury of the tumult there begun Scourged quivering Ligny through the afternoon: Napoleon's great intent grew substantive, And on the Prussian pith and pulse he bent His foretimed blow. Blucher, to butt the shock, Called up his last reserves, and heading on, With blade high brandished by his aged arm, Spurred forward his white steed. But they, outspent, Failed far to follow. Darkness coped the sky, And storm, and rain with thunder. Yet once more He cheered them on to charge. His horse, the while, Pierced by a bullet, fell on him it bore. He, trampled, bruised, faint, and in disarray Dragged to another mount, was led away. His ragged lines withdraw from sight and sound, And their assailants camp upon the ground.

The scene shuts with midnight.



SCENE VII

BRUSSELS. THE PLACE ROYALE

[The same night, dark and sultry. A crowd of citizens throng the broad Place. They gaze continually down the Rue de Namur, along which arrive minute by minute carts and waggons laden with wounded men. Other wounded limp into the city on foot. At much greater speed enter fugitive soldiers from the miscellaneous contingents of WELLINGTON'S army at Quatre-Bras, who gesticulate and explain to the crowd that all is lost and that the French will soon be in Brussels.

Baggage-carts and carriages, with and without horses, stand before an hotel, surrounded by a medley of English and other foreign nobility and gentry with their valets and maids. Bulletins from the battlefield are affixed on the corner of the Place, and people peer at them by the dim oil lights.

A rattle of hoofs reaches the ears, entering the town by the same Namur gate. The riders disclose themselves to be Belgian hussars, also from the field.]

SEVERAL HUSSARS

The French approach! Wellington is beaten. Bonaparte is at our heels.

[Consternation reaches a climax. Horses are hastily put-to at the hotel: people crowd into the carriages and try to drive off. They get jammed together and hemmed in by the throng. Unable to move they quarrel and curse despairingly in sundry tongues.]

BARON CAPELLEN

Affix the new bulletin. It is a more assuring one, and may quiet them a little.

[A new bulletin is nailed over the old one.]

MAYOR

Good people, calm yourselves. No victory has been won by Bonaparte. The noise of guns heard all the afternoon became fainter towards the end, showing beyond doubt that the retreat was away from the city.

A CITIZEN

The French are said to be forty thousand strong at Les Quatre-Bras, and no forty thousand British marched out against them this morning!

ANOTHER CITIZEN

And it is whispered that the city archives and the treasure-chest have been sent to Antwerp!

MAYOR

Only as a precaution. No good can be gained by panic. Sixty or seventy thousand of the Allies, all told, face Napoleon at this hour. Meanwhile who is to attend to the wounded that are being brought in faster and faster? Fellow-citizens, do your duty by these unfortunates, and believe me that when engaged in such an act of mercy no enemy will hurt you.

CITIZENS

What can we do?

MAYOR

I invite all those who have such, to bring mattresses, sheets, and coverlets to the Hotel de Ville, also old linen and lint from the houses of the cures.

[Many set out on this errand. An interval. Enter a courier, who speaks to the MAYOR and the BARON CAPELLEN.]

BARON CAPELLEN [to Mayor]

Better inform them immediately, to prevent a panic.

MAYOR [to Citizens]

I grieve to tell you that the Duke of Brunswick, whom you saw ride out this morning, was killed this afternoon at Les Quatre-Bras. A musket-ball passed through his bridle-hand and entered his belly. His body is now arriving. Carry yourselves gravely.

[A lane is formed in the crowd in the direction of the Rue de Namur; they wait. Presently an extemporized funeral procession, with the body of the DUKE on a gun-carriage, and a small escort of Brunswickers with carbines reversed, comes slowly up the street, their silver death's-heads shining in the lamplight. The agitation of the citizens settles into a silent gloom as the mournful train passes.]

MAYOR [to Baron Capellen]

I noticed the strange look of prepossession on his face at the ball last night, as if he knew what was going to be.

BARON CAPELLEN

The Duchess mentioned it to me.... He hated the French, if any man ever did, and so did his father before him! Here comes the English Colonel Hamilton, straight from the field. He will give us trustworthy particulars.

[Enter COLONEL HAMILTON by the Rue de Namur. He converses with the MAYOR and the BARON on the issue of the struggle.]

MAYOR

Now I will go the Hotel de Ville, and get it ready for those wounded who can find no room in private houses.

[Exeunt MAYOR, CAPELLEN, D'URSEL, HAMILTON, etc. severally. Many citizens descend in the direction of the Hotel de Ville to assist. Those who remain silently watch the carts bringing in the wounded till a late hour. The doors of houses in the Place and elsewhere are kept open, and the rooms within lighted, in expectation of more arrivals from the field. A courier gallops up, who is accosted by idlers.]

COURIER [hastily]

The Prussians are defeated at Ligny by Napoleon in person. He will be here to-morrow.

[Exit courier.]

FIRST IDLER

The devil! Then I am for welcoming him. No Antwerp for me!

OTHER IDLERS [sotto voce]

Vive l'Empereur!

[A warm summer fog from the Lower Town covers the Parc and the Place Royale.]



SCENE VIII

THE ROAD TO WATERLOO

[The view is now from Quatre-Bras backward along the road by which the English arrived. Diminishing in a straight line from the foreground to the centre of the distance it passes over Mont Saint-Jean and through Waterloo to Brussels.

It is now tinged by a moving mass of English and Allied infantry, in retreat to a new position at Mont Saint-Jean. The sun shines brilliantly upon the foreground as yet, but towards Waterloo and the Forest of Soignes on the north horizon it is overcast with black clouds which are steadily advancing up the sky.

To mask the retreat the English outposts retain their position on the battlefield in the face of NEY'S troops, and keep up a desultory firing: the cavalry for the same reason remain, being drawn up in lines beside the intersecting Namur road.

Enter WELLINGTON, UXBRIDGE [who is in charge of the cavalry], MUFFLING, VIVIAN, and others. They look through their field- glasses towards Frasnes, NEY'S position since his retreat yesternight, and also towards NAPOLEON'S at Ligny.]

WELLINGTON

The noonday sun, striking so strongly there, Makes mirrors of their arms. That they advance Their glowing radiance shows. Those gleams by Marbais Suggest fixed bayonets.

UXBRIDGE

Vivian's glass reveals That they are cuirassiers. Ney's troops, too, near At last, methinks, along this other road.

WELLINGTON

One thing is sure: that here the whole French force Schemes to unite and sharply follow us. It formulates our fence. The cavalry Must linger here no longer; but recede To Mont Saint-Jean, as rearguard of the foot. From the intelligence that Gordon brings 'Tis pretty clear old Blucher had to take A damned good drubbing yesterday at Ligny, And has been bent hard back! So that, for us, Bound to the plighted plan, there is no choice But do like.... No doubt they'll say at home That we've been well thrashed too. It can't be helped, They must!... [He looks round at the sky.] A heavy rainfall threatens us, To make it all the worse!

[The speaker and his staff ride off along the Brussels road in the rear of the infantry, and UXBRIDGE begins the retreat of the cavalry. CAPTAIN MERCER enters with a light battery.]

MERCER [excitedly]

Look back, my lord; Is it not Bonaparte himself we see Upon the road I have come by?

UXBRIDGE [looking through glass]

Yes, by God; His face as clear-cut as the edge of a cloud The sun behind shows up! His suite and all! Fire—fire! And aim you well.

[The battery makes ready and fires.]

No! It won't do. He brings on mounted ordnance of his Guard, So we're in danger here. Then limber up, And off as soon as may be.

[The English artillery and cavalry retreat at full speed, just as the weather bursts, with flashes of lightning and drops of rain. They all clatter off along the Brussels road, UXBRIDGE and his aides galloping beside the column; till no British are left at Quatre-Bras except the slain.

The focus of the scene follows the retreating English army, the highway and its and margins panoramically gliding past the vision of the spectator. The phantoms chant monotonously while the retreat goes on.]

CHORUS OF RUMOURS [aerial music]

Day's nether hours advance; storm supervenes In heaviness unparalleled, that screens With water-woven gauzes, vapour-bred, The creeping clumps of half-obliterate red— Severely harassed past each round and ridge By the inimical lance. They gain the bridge And village of Genappe, in equal fence With weather and the enemy's violence. —Cannon upon the foul and flooded road, Cavalry in the cornfields mire-bestrowed, With frothy horses floundering to their knees, Make wayfaring a moil of miseries! Till Britishry and Bonapartists lose Their clashing colours for the tawny hues That twilight sets on all its stealing tinct imbues.

[The rising ground of Mont Saint-Jean, in front of Waterloo, is gained by the English vanguard and main masses of foot, and by degrees they are joined by the cavalry and artillery. The French are but little later in taking up their position amid the cornfields around La Belle Alliance.

Fires begin to shine up from the English bivouacs. Camp kettles are slung, and the men pile arms and stand round the blaze to dry themselves. The French opposite lie down like dead men in the dripping green wheat and rye, without supper and without fire.

By and by the English army also lies down, the men huddling together on the ploughed mud in their wet blankets, while some sleep sitting round the dying fires.]

CHORUS OF THE YEARS [aerial music]

The eyelids of eve fall together at last, And the forms so foreign to field and tree Lie down as though native, and slumber fast!

CHORUS OF THE PITIES

Sore are the thrills of misgiving we see In the artless champaign at this harlequinade, Distracting a vigil where calm should be!

The green seems opprest, and the Plain afraid Of a Something to come, whereof these are the proofs,— Neither earthquake, nor storm, nor eclipses's shade!

CHORUS OF THE YEARS

Yea, the coneys are scared by the thud of hoofs, And their white scuts flash at their vanishing heels, And swallows abandon the hamlet-roofs.

The mole's tunnelled chambers are crushed by wheels, The lark's eggs scattered, their owners fled; And the hedgehog's household the sapper unseals.

The snail draws in at the terrible tread, But in vain; he is crushed by the felloe-rim The worm asks what can be overhead,

And wriggles deep from a scene so grim, And guesses him safe; for he does not know What a foul red flood will be soaking him!

Beaten about by the heel and toe Are butterflies, sick of the day's long rheum, To die of a worse than the weather-foe.

Trodden and bruised to a miry tomb Are ears that have greened but will never be gold, And flowers in the bud that will never bloom.

CHORUS OF THE PITIES

So the season's intent, ere its fruit unfold, Is frustrate, and mangled, and made succumb, Like a youth of promise struck stark and cold!...

And what of these who to-night have come?

CHORUS OF THE YEARS

The young sleep sound; but the weather awakes In the veterans, pains from the past that numb;

Old stabs of Ind, old Peninsular aches, Old Friedland chills, haunt their moist mud bed, Cramps from Austerlitz; till their slumber breaks.

CHORUS OF SINISTER SPIRITS

And each soul shivers as sinks his head On the loam he's to lease with the other dead From to-morrow's mist-fall till Time be sped!

[The fires of the English go out, and silence prevails, save for the soft hiss of the rain that falls impartially on both the sleeping armies.]



ACT SEVENTH

SCENE I

THE FIELD OF WATERLOO

[An aerial view of the battlefield at the time of sunrise is disclosed.

The sky is still overcast, and rain still falls. A green expanse, almost unbroken, of rye, wheat, and clover, in oblong and irregular patches undivided by fences, covers the undulating ground, which sinks into a shallow valley between the French and English positions. The road from Brussels to Charleroi runs like a spit through both positions, passing at the back of the English into the leafy forest of Soignes.

The latter are turning out from their bivouacs. They move stiffly from their wet rest, and hurry to and fro like ants in an ant-hill. The tens of thousands of moving specks are largely of a brick-red colour, but the foreign contingent is darker.

Breakfasts are cooked over smoky fires of green wood. Innumerable groups, many in their shirt-sleeves, clean their rusty firelocks, drawing or exploding the charges, scrape the mud from themselves, and pipeclay from their cross-belts the red dye washed off their jackets by the rain.

At six o'clock, they parade, spread out, and take up their positions in the line of battle, the front of which extends in a wavy riband three miles long, with three projecting bunches at Hougomont, La Haye Sainte, and La Haye.

Looking across to the French positions we observe that after advancing in dark streams from where they have passed the night they, too, deploy and wheel into their fighting places—figures with red epaulettes and hairy knapsacks, their arms glittering like a display of cutlery at a hill-side fair.

They assume three concentric lines of crescent shape, that converge on the English midst, with great blocks of the Imperial Guard at the back of them. The rattle of their drums, their fanfarades, and their bands playing "Veillons au salut de l'Empire" contrast with the quiet reigning on the English side.

A knot of figures, comprising WELLINGTON with a suite of general and other staff-officers, ride backwards and forwards in front of the English lines, where each regimental colour floats in the hands of the junior ensign. The DUKE himself, now a man of forty- six, is on his bay charger Copenhagen, in light pantaloons, a small plumeless hat, and a blue cloak, which shows its white lining when blown back.

On the French side, too, a detached group creeps along the front in preliminary survey. BONAPARTE—also forty-six—in a grey overcoat, is mounted on his white arab Marengo, and accompanied by SOULT, NEY, JEROME, DROUOT, and other marshals. The figures of aides move to and fro like shuttle-cocks between the group and distant points in the field. The sun has begun to gleam.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Discriminate these, and what they are, Who stand so stalwartly to war.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Report, ye Rumourers of things near and far.

SEMICHORUS I OF RUMOURS [chanting]

Sweep first the Frenchmen's leftward lines along, And eye the peaceful panes of Hougomont— That seemed to hold prescriptive right of peace In fee from Time till Time itself should cease!— Jarred now by Reille's fierce foot-divisions three, Flanked on their left by Pire's cavalry.— The fourfold corps of d'Erlon, spread at length, Compose the right, east of the famed chaussee— The shelterless Charleroi-and-Brussels way,— And Jacquinot's alert light-steeded strength Still further right, their sharpened swords display. Thus stands the first line.

SEMICHORUS II

Next behind its back Comes Count Lobau, left of the Brussels track; Then Domon's horse, the horse of Subervie; Kellermann's cuirassed troopers twinkle-tipt, And, backing d'Erlon, Milhaud's horse, equipt Likewise in burnished steelwork sunshine-dipt: So ranks the second line refulgently.

SEMICHORUS I

The third and last embattlement reveals D'Erlon's, Lobau's, and Reille's foot-cannoniers, And horse-drawn ordnance too, on massy wheels, To strike with cavalry where space appears.

SEMICHORUS II

The English front, to left, as flanking force, Has Vandeleur's hussars, and Vivian's horse; Next them pace Picton's rows along the crest; The Hanoverian foot-folk; Wincke; Best; Bylandt's brigade, set forward fencelessly, Pack's northern clansmen, Kempt's tough infantry, With gaiter, epaulet, spat, and {philibeg}; While Halkett, Ompteda, and Kielmansegge Prolong the musters, near whose forward edge Baring invests the Farm of Holy Hedge.

SEMICHORUS I

Maitland and Byng in Cooke's division range, And round dun Hougomont's old lichened sides A dense array of watching Guardsmen hides Amid the peaceful produce of the grange, Whose new-kerned apples, hairy gooseberries green, And mint, and thyme, the ranks intrude between.— Last, westward of the road that finds Nivelles, Duplat draws up, and Adam parallel.

SEMICHORUS II

The second British line—embattled horse— Holds the reverse slopes, screened, in ordered course; Dornberg's, and Arentsschildt's, and Colquhoun-Grant's, And left of them, behind where Alten plants His regiments, come the "Household" Cavalry; And nigh, in Picton's rear, the trumpets call The "Union" brigade of Ponsonby. Behind these the reserves. In front of all, Or interspaced, with slow-matched gunners manned, Upthroated rows of threatful ordnance stand.

[The clock of Nivelles convent church strikes eleven in the distance. Shortly after, coils of starch-blue smoke burst into being along the French lines, and the English batteries respond promptly, in an ominous roar that can be heard at Antwerp.

A column from the French left, six thousand strong, advances on the plantation in front of the chateau of Hougomont. They are played upon by the English ordnance; but they enter the wood, and dislodge some battalions there. The French approach the buildings, but are stopped by a loop-holed wall with a mass of English guards behind it. A deadly fire bursts from these through the loops and over the summit.

NAPOLEON orders a battery of howitzers to play upon the building. Flames soon burst from it; but the foot-guards still hold the courtyard.]



SCENE II

THE SAME. THE FRENCH POSITION

[On a hillock near the farm of Rossomme a small table from the farmhouse has been placed; maps are spread thereon, and a chair is beside it. NAPOLEON, SOULT, and other marshals are standing round, their horses waiting at the base of the slope.

NAPOLEON looks through his glass at Hougomont. His elevated face makes itself distinct in the morning light as a gloomy resentful countenance, blue-black where shaven, and stained with snuff, with powderings of the same on the breast of his uniform. His stumpy figure, being just now thrown back, accentuates his stoutness.]

NAPOLEON

Let Reille be warned that these his surly sets On Hougomont chateau, can scarce defray Their mounting bill of blood. They do not touch The core of my intent—to pierce and roll The centre upon the right of those opposed. Thereon will turn the outcome of the day, In which our odds are ninety to their ten!

SOULT

Yes—prove there time and promptitude enough To call back Grouchy here. Of his approach I see no sign.

NAPOLEON [roughly]

Hours past he was bid come. —But naught imports it! We are enough without him. You have been beaten by this Wellington, And so you think him great. But let me teach you Wellington is no foe to reckon with. His army, too, is poor. This clash to-day Is more serious for our seasoned files Than breakfasting.

SOULT

Such is my earnest hope.

NAPOLEON

Observe that Wellington still labours on, Stoutening his right behind Gomont chateau, But leaves his left and centre as before— Weaker, if anything. He plays our game!

[WELLINGTON can, in fact, be seen detaching from his main line several companies of Guards to check the aims of the French on Hougomont.]

Let me re-word my tactics. Ney leads off By seizing Mont Saint-Jean. Then d'Erlon stirs, And heaves up his division from the left. The second corps will move abreast of him The sappers nearing to entrench themselves Within the aforesaid farm.

[Enter an aide-de-camp.]

AIDE

From Marshal Ney, Sire, I bring hasty word that all is poised To strike the vital stroke, and only waits Your Majesty's command,

NAPOLEON

Which he shall have When I have scanned the hills for Grouchy's helms.

[NAPOLEON turns his glass to an upland four or five miles off on the right, known as St. Lambert's Chapel Hill. Gazing more and more intently, he takes rapid pinches of snuff in excitement. NEY'S columns meanwhile standing for the word to advance, eighty guns being ranged in front of La Belle Alliance in support of them.]

I see a darkly crawling, slug-like shape Embodying far out there,—troops seemingly— Grouchy's van-guard. What think you?

SOULT [also examining closely]

Verily troops; And, maybe, Grouchy's. But the air is hazed.

NAPOLEON

If troops at all, they are Grouchy's. Why misgive, And force on ills you fear!

ANOTHER MARSHAL

It seems a wood. Trees don bold outlines in their new-leafed pride.

ANOTHER MARSHAL

It is the creeping shadow from a cloud.

ANOTHER MARSHAL

It is a mass of stationary foot; I can descry piled arms.

[NAPOLEON sends off the order for NEY'S attack—the grand assault on the English midst, including the farm of La Haye Sainte. It opens with a half-hour's thunderous discharge of artillery, which ceases at length to let d'Erlon's infantry pass.

Four huge columns of these, shouting defiantly, push forwards in face of the reciprocal fire from the cannon of the English. Their effrontery carries them so near the Anglo-Allied lines that the latter waver. But PICTON brings up PACK'S brigade, before which the French in turn recede, though they make an attempt in La Haye Sainte, whence BARING'S Germans pour a resolute fire.

WELLINGTON, who is seen afar as one of a group standing by a great elm, orders OMPTEDA to send assistance to BARING, as may be gathered from the darting of aides to and fro between the points, like house-flies dancing their quadrilles.

East of the great highway the right columns of D'ERLON'S corps have climbed the slopes. BYLANDT'S sorely exposed Dutch are broken, and in their flight disorder the ranks of the English Twenty-eighth, the Carabineers of the Ninety-fifth being also dislodged from the sand-pit they occupied.]

NAPOLEON

All prospers marvellously! Gomont is hemmed; La Haye Sainte too; their centre jeopardized; Travers and d'Erlon dominate the crest, And further strength of foot is following close. Their troops are raw; the flower of England's force That fought in Spain, America now holds.—

[SIR TOMAS PICTON, seeing what is happening orders KEMPT'S brigade forward. It volleys murderously DONZELOT'S columns of D'ERLON'S corps, and repulses them. As they recede PICTON is beheld shouting an order to charge.]

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

I catch a voice that cautions Picton now Against his rashness. "What the hell care I,— Is my curst carcase worth a moment's mind?— Come on!" he answers. Onwardly he goes!

[His tall, stern, saturnine figure with its bronzed complexion is on nearer approach discerned heading the charge. As he advances to the slope between the cross-roads and the sand-pit, riding very conspicuously, he falls dead, a bullet in his forehead. His aide, assisted by a soldier, drags the body beneath a tree and hastens on. KEMPT takes his command.

Next MARCOGNET is repulsed by PACK'S brigade. D'ERLON'S infantry and TRAVERS'S cuirassiers are charged by the Union Brigade of Scotch[23] Greys, Royal Dragoons, and Inniskillens, and cut down everywhere, the brigade following them so furiously the LORD UXBRIDGE tries in vain to recall it. On its coming near the French it is overwhelmed by MILHAUD'S cuirassiers, scarcely a fifth of the brigade returning.

An aide enters to NAPOLEON from GENERAL DOMON.]

AIDE

The General, on a far reconnaissance, Says, sire, there is no room for longer doubt That those debouching on St. Lambert's Hill Are Prussian files.

NAPOLEON

Then where is General Grouchy?

[Enter COLONEL MARBOT with a prisoner.]

Aha—a Prussian, too! How comes he here?

MARBOT

Sire, my hussars have captured him near Lasnes— A subaltern of the Silesian Horse. A note from Bulow to Lord Wellington, Announcing that a Prussian corps is close, Was found on him. He speaks our language, sire.

NAPOLEON [to prisoner]

What force looms yonder on St. Lambert's Hill?

PRISONER

General Count Bulow's van, your Majesty.

[A thoughtful scowl crosses NAPOLEONS'S sallow face.]

NAPOLEON

Where, then, did your main army lie last night?

PRISONER

At Wavre.

NAPOLEON

But clashed it with no Frenchmen there?

PRISONER

With none. We deemed they had marched on Plancenoit.

NAPOLEON [shortly]

Take him away. [The prisoner is removed.] Has Grouchy's whereabouts Been sought, to apprize him of this Prussian trend?

SOULT

Certainly, sire. I sent a messenger.

NAPOLEON [bitterly]

A messenger! Had my poor Berthier been here Six would have insufficed! Now then: seek Ney; Bid him to sling the valour of his braves Fiercely on England ere Count Bulow come; And advertize the succours on the hill As Grouchy's. [Aside] This is my one battle-chance; The Allies have many such! [To SOULT] If Bulow nears, He cannot join in time to share the fight. And if he could, 'tis but a corps the more.... This morning we had ninety chances ours, We have threescore still. If Grouchy but retrieve His fault of absence, conquest comes with eve!

[The scene shifts.]



SCENE III

SAINT LAMBERT'S CHAPEL HILL

[A hill half-way between Wavre and the fields of Waterloo, five miles to the north-east of the scene preceding. The hill is wooded, with some open land around. To the left of the scene, towards Waterloo, is a valley.]

DUMB SHOW

Marching columns in Prussian uniforms, coming from the direction of Wavre, debouch upon the hill from the road through the wood.

They are the advance-guard and two brigades of Bulow's corps, that have been joined there by BLUCHER. The latter has just risen from the bed to which he has been confined since the battle of Ligny, two days back. He still looks pale and shaken by the severe fall and trampling he endured near the end of the action.

On the summit the troops halt, and a discussion between BLUCHER and his staff ensues.

The cannonade in the direction of Waterloo is growing more and more violent. BLUCHER, after looking this way and that, decides to fall upon the French right at Plancenoit as soon as he can get there, which will not be yet.

Between this point and that the ground descends steeply to the valley on the spectator's left, where there is a mud-bottomed stream, the Lasne; the slope ascends no less abruptly on the other side towards Plancenoit. It is across this defile alone that the Prussian army can proceed thither- a route of unusual difficulty for artillery; where, moreover, the enemy is suspected of having placed a strong outpost during the night to intercept such an approach.

A figure goes forward—that of MAJOR FALKENHAUSEN, who is sent to reconnoitre, and they wait a tedious time, the firing at Waterloo growing more tremendous. FALKENHAUSEN comes back with the welcome news that no outpost is there.

There now remains only the difficulty of the defile itself; and the attempt is made. BLUCHER is descried riding hither and thither as the guns drag heavily down the slope into the muddy bottom of the valley. Here the wheels get stuck, and the men already tired by marching since five in the morning, seem inclined to leave the guns where they are. But the thunder from Waterloo still goes on, BLUCHER exhorts his men by words and eager gestures, and they do at length get the guns across, though with much loss of time.

The advance-guard now reaches some thick trees called the Wood of Paris. It is followed by the LOSTHIN and HILLER divisions of foot, and in due course by the remainder of the two brigades. Here they halt, and await the arrival of the main body of BULOW'S corps, and the third corps under THIELEMANN.

The scene shifts.



SCENE IV

THE FIELD OF WATERLOO. THE ENGLISH POSITION

[WELLINGTON, on Copenhagen, is again under the elm-tree behind La Haye Sainte. Both horse and rider are covered with mud-splashes, but the weather having grown finer the DUKE has taken off his cloak.

UXBRIDGE, FITZROY SOMERSET, CLINTON, ALTEN, COLVILLE, DE LANCEY, HERVEY, GORDON, and other of his staff officers and aides are near him; there being also present GENERALS MUFFLING, HUGEL, and ALAVA; also TYLER, PICTON'S aide. The roar of battle continues.]

WELLINGTON

I am grieved at losing Picton; more than grieved. He was as grim a devil as ever lived, And roughish-mouthed withal. But never a man More stout in fight, more stoical in blame!

TYLER

Before he left for this campaign he said, "When you shall hear of MY death, mark my words, You'll hear of a bloody day!" and, on my soul, 'Tis true.

[Enter another aide-de-camp.]

AIDE

Sir William Ponsonby, my lords, has fallen. His horse got mud-stuck in a new-plowed plot, Lancers surrounded him and bore him down, And six then ran him through. The occasion sprung Mainly from the Brigade's too reckless rush, Sheer to the French front line.

WELLINGTON [gravely]

Ah—so it comes! The Greys were bound to pay—'tis always so— Full dearly for their dash so far afield. Valour unballasted but lands its freight On the enemy's shore.—What has become of Hill?

AIDE

We have not seen him latterly, your Grace.

WELLINGTON

By God, I hope I haven't lost him, too?

BRIDGMAN [just come up]

Lord Hill's bay charger, being shot dead, your Grace, Rolled over him in falling. He is bruised, But hopes to be in place again betimes.

WELLINGTON

Praise Fate for thinking better of that frown!

[It is now nearing four o'clock. La Haye Sainte is devastated by the second attack of NEY. The farm has been enveloped by DONZELOT'S division, its garrison, the King's German Legion, having fought till all ammunition was exhausted. The gates are forced open, and in the retreat of the late defenders to the main Allied line they are nearly all cut or shot down.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

O Farm of sad vicissitudes and strange! Farm of the Holy Hedge, yet fool of change! Whence lit so sanct a name on thy now violate grange?

WELLINGTON [to Muffling, resolutely]

Despite their fierce advantage here, I swear By every God that war can call upon To hold our present place at any cost, Until your force cooperate with our lines! To that I stand; although 'tis bruited now That Bulow's corps has only reached Ohain. I've sent Freemantle hence to seek them there, And give them inkling we shall need them soon.

MUFFLING [looking at his watch]

I had hoped that Blucher would be here ere this.

[The staff turn their glasses on the French position.]

UXBRIDGE

What movement can it be they contemplate?

WELLINGTON

A shock of cavalry on the hottest scale, It seems to me.... [To aide] Bid him to reinforce The front line with some second-line brigades; Some, too, from the reserve.

[The Brunswickers advance to support MAITLAND'S Guards, and the MITCHELL and ADAM Brigades establish themselves above Hougomont, which is still in flames.

NEY, in continuation of the plan of throwing his whole force on the British centre before the advent of the Prussians, now intensifies his onslaught with the cavalry. Terrific discharges of artillery initiate it to clear the ground. A heavy round- shot dashes through the tree over the heads of WELLINGTON and his generals, and boughs and leaves come flying down on them.]

WELLINGTON

Good practice that! I vow they did not fire So dexterously in Spain. [He calls up an aide.] Bid Ompteda Direct the infantry to lie tight down On the reverse ridge-slope, to screen themselves While these close shots and shells are teasing us; When the charge comes they'll cease.

[The order is carried out. NEY'S cavalry attack now matures. MILHAUD'S cuirassiers in twenty-four squadrons advance down the opposite decline, followed and supported by seven squadrons of chasseurs under DESNOETTES. They disappear for a minute in the hollow between the armies.]

UXBRIDGE

Ah—now we have got their long-brewed plot explained!

WELLINGTON [nodding]

That this was rigged for some picked time to-day I had inferred. But that it would be risked Sheer on our lines, while still they stand unswayed, In conscious battle-trim, I reckoned not. It looks a madman's cruel enterprise!

FITZROY SOMERSET

We have just heard that Ney embarked on it Without an order, ere its aptness riped.

WELLINGTON

It may be so: he's rash. And yet I doubt. I know Napoleon. If the onset fail It will be Ney's; if it succeed he'll claim it!

[A dull reverberation of the tread of innumerable hoofs comes from behind the hill, and the foremost troops rise into view.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Behold the gorgeous coming of those horse, Accoutered in kaleidoscopic hues That would persuade us war has beauty in it!— Discern the troopers' mien; each with the air Of one who is himself a tragedy: The cuirassiers, steeled, mirroring the day; Red lancers, green chasseurs: behind the blue The red; the red before the green: A lingering-on till late in Christendom, Of the barbaric trick to terrorize The foe by aspect!

[WELLINGTON directs his glass to an officer in a rich uniform with many decorations on his breast, who rides near the front of the approaching squadrons. The DUKE'S face expresses admiration.]

WELLINGTON

It's Marshal Ney himself who heads the charge. The finest cavalry commander, he, That wears a foreign plume; ay, probably The whole world through!

SPIRIT IRONIC

And when that matchless chief Sentenced shall lie to ignominious death But technically deserved, no finger he Who speaks will lift to save him.!

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