« PreviousContinue »
groups of soldiers drinking their morning dram, regiments forming into line, officers mounting, the great diversity of costume, the hurry, confusion and crowded animation of the whole scene. Our sultry marches would not have formed so happy a subject. I believe that there is no suffering sustainable by soldiers worse than that which we now endured in the meridian hour of a tropical sun, reflected from burning sands, through which we waded rather than walked. The maddening thirst we suffered was irritated rather than quenched by the scanty provision of water we carried with us. We occasionally halted to refresh ourselves with the above-mentioned beverage, well diluted with a more invigorating liquid. Sometimes even a more delusive refreshment cheated our senses. Once I recollect, during a day of unusual fatigue, a sudden burst of joy broke almost simultaneously from our whole force, on perceiving the village where we were to encamp before us. Its dategroves, towers, huts, and transparent springs; even the camels laden with water coming out to meet us, were all vividly pourtrayed; alas, it was only by our imaginations on the illuminated sands! It was some time before we discovered this to be a mirage, and we often found that we could raise any images we desired. Some, whose fancies were Oriental, conjured up mosques and tanks; others, streams, villas, and flocks; and many were animated by an inspiring vision of a stag-chase sweeping by them. These illusions would have entertained us highly, had we not been too cruelly disappointed to enjoy them. On the same day, we passed the ghauts (mountains) with infinite labour and difficulty. They are precipitous rugged rocks of great height; and being eminently exposed to the blaze of the sun, the heat was so intense that many fainted under it, and some, I believe, died. On reaching the summit, we had a most extensive view, and got sight of the distant Desert, which appeared like the sea in restless undulation. When
we descended into the plain, a few trees offered us a welcome and unexpected shelter, under which we scattered and reposed ourselves for half an hour.
It was usual with us to reach our halting-ground about four o'clock in the afternoon. Of course we had guides to direct us to the best passes, and pioneers to clear the obstructions of the way; yet, in spite of their assistance and labours, we were often thrown into the most fearful disarray, in scrambling over the rocks, which now and then agreeably relieved us from ploughing the weary waste of sands. The quarter-master and his myrmidons always preceded us, so that by the time we reached our resting-places, the tents were ready for our reception; but, as duty came rapidly round, we had, every other day, but a few hour's suspension from fatigue. A little before sunset the men for picket were summoned to march off. This was a post of considerable anxiety. Since the night attack at Zoar, others were justly apprehended, and it is surprising they were not made. The Whabees might have cut up our pickets every night, and have retired before they could have been exposed to any retaliation; or they might have stationed themselves in the difficult passes, and have effected prodigious slaughter among our men with very little loss to themselves; but they preferred, perhaps emboldened by their former success, to stand the brunt of a regular conflict. Nevertheless, the expectation of nocturnal incursions kept the outposts in a state of anxious vigilance, and occasioned many false alarms, which always originated in the timidity of the Sepoys, who fancied they saw an enemy in the shadow of every rock. In spite, however, of his painful responsibility, the officer on picket might pass the hours of his vigil in not unpleasing thoughts. With his watch-cloak about him and his segar in his mouth, pacing a neighbouring eminence, he could not fail to be struck with the peculiar character of the circumjacent landscape, so much
unlike the features of the earth, profuse in life and multiform in loveliness, in other parts of the world. The gigantic monotony of mountain and plain, canopied by "the dread magnificence of heaven," and the vast nakedness of nature, dotted only by the tents of the slumbering camp, where "eye nor listening ear an object found," awakened undefinable sensations.
An hiatus in my memory occurs here. In our last march, I think, we passed through a village in a state of demolition and desertion from a late visit of our enemics. Before we got within sight of their town, we halted to advance in more scientific order; and scouts and flanking parties were sent out to prevent the possibility of surprise. We crossed over the ground of Captain Thompson's defeat. Here were scattered over a considerable space, the skeletons of his five hundred men, many of them stretched out in frightful completeness, bleached into conspicuous whiteness by the sun. This sight animated our martial machinery with a spirit of retaliation; and many, loud, and coarse were the execrations with which each successive company felt the bones of their comrades under their feet. A little farther on, the town appeared in view. It struck us, after the sterility we had traversed, as a magnificent contrast. Noble groves of date-trees rose on each side of it; and in the open front an imposing line of towers, some of them of ample circumference, gave it a formidable aspect. We were saluted by shot and shell from our own amunition and our own artillery, taken from Thompson, as we advanced. One of these took such good effect, that a man and some cattle were killed. Our light field-pieces were then ordered out on the exposed flauk, and, by returning the fire, they proected us from farther loss. But this did not daunt the enemy; for immediately after they showed us defiance n the gleaming of hundreds of swords and spears, evidently designed to attract our gaze, and make known their
resolution; and then again their cannon opened upon us. In a little time we got protection behind some rising sand-banks and a few date-trees. Our commander thought of encamping here, and had, I believe, already sent to hasten the heavy artillery, under the idea that it would be necessary to take the place by regular approaches, when a happy discovery altered his determination. He had,— so at least I presume,-sent out some officers of his staff to reconnoitre an adjoining date-grove. They penetrated to its utmost verge without hindrance, and there discovered a large tower. One of them ascended this tower, with his glass, in the hope of getting a view of the enemy's movements in an opposite grove; for there was an ample plain between the two,-when lo! multitudes were seen equipped for action, and ready for the attack. It caused a thrilling sensation of horror, admiration, and pity, to behold their dark figures, made apparent by the glitter of their arms, for the last time under the congenial gloom of their own shades, a whole tribe coiled up for one spring of desperation,-still steadfast, and purposed upon death, and doomed to die within a few minutes; the consummation we now hastened to effect.
Our unfortunate enemies might, however, have still made a successful onset upon us. In straggling through the first-mentioned dategrove our men were obliged to pick their way singly, and, being encumbered by their heavy muskets and ammunition, it would have been impossible for them to have made any resistance had they been assaulted. On the contrary, they would have stumbled in all directions over the stumps of trees, and many, no doubt, must have fallen. Even when they issued out, man by man, confusedly into the plain, the effect of an attack would have been nearly as fatal. They were, however, allowed to fall into line, and advance. The 65th regiment and 7th native infantry occupied the plain. The remainder of
the force was immediately in the rear. A party of our rifle company then entered the enemy's covert, and, after a little popping, brought them out upon us. It was a strange sight-terrific, with something of the ludicrous intermingled. Not less than a thousand of their wild, black figures emerged in a confused swarm, shouting their war-songs, and capering about in the most grotesque atti tudes. They seemed for a moment uncertain about the best point of attack, and in the mean time threw stones into our ranks. To bring them to a speedy decision, we fired a volley upon them, and had commenced a charge, when the great body wheel ed suddenly about, and rushed precipitately at the Sepoy regiment on our left. As they came on, they sent their spears unerringly before them, and closed instantaneously with their swords, dealing around mortal gashes with frightful rapidity. The native regiment was in a moment cut up and routed; and it might have fared the same with the 65th, if its commanding officer, the late LieutenantColonel Warren, had not taken the precaution, at the critical moment, to wheel back the two flank companies, forming three sides of an oblong square. By this disposition we had a fire upon the enemy in every direction but the rear (where our reserve were stationed), and kept them from closing in upon us. Many, however, succeeded in getting round rearward; but there they were dismayed at our numbers, of which they had probably before no idea. The speed of their flight was then as great as the fierceness of their onset had been; but the incessant independent firing which was kept up, strewed them over the ground by hundreds as they fled.
Those who had effected their escape took refuge in the principal tower, which was the palace of the chief Sheikh, and was fortified with a good deal of skill. Thither we now proceeded. We discerned from this spot numbers of Whabees, mounted on camels and horses, flying across
the country. A volley brought some of them down, but most of them got away. Strange to say, the obstinacy of these people was such, that, even after their defeat they would not open the portals of what I may call their citadel to us. We were obliged to bring our artillery to play upon them. I recollect an old woman sitting under the portal we were firing upon, who, upon every fresh discharge dodged out of the way, aud then resumed her seat. I inquired afterwards the reason of this extraordinary foolhardiness, and was told that her children were all inside, and that two of her sons lay desperately wounded there. The poor mother was watching anxiously for the portal to be blown down, that she might rush in and join them. At last a flag of surrender was seen flying from the top of the tower, which was soon displaced by our colours. On enter ing their hold, a scene of horrible misery presented itself. About an hundred and fifty men, women, and children, were crowded together in a very narrow space. Most were badly wounded, many were dying; and the suppressed groans, the loud crying of the children, the women staunching the blood of their husbands and sons with their garments, and the "Allah i Allah," which rose in murmurs of resignation on every side, were truly afflicting. No attention which could be spared from our own hospital, was wanting to aid these wretched beings.
By this time night had come on, and, as it was then impossible to encamp, we wrapped ourselves in our cloaks, and slept soundly en masse, under the pigmy walls of the hive of the exterminated horde. This was considerably more extensive than Zoar, but in other respects appeared much the same. All that struck me as remarkable in it were the vast reservoirs of dates, dried fish, and coffee, which must have been the common property of the whole community. This fact was a strong proof of the strict bond of fraternity which united them. We found nothing valuable ;
our sole prizes were swords, matchlocks, cloaks, spears, shields, &c.
On the next day we were curious to visit the field of the slain. We counted about five hundred corpses. Most of them had been middle-aged men, handsomely and vigorously built. There were some venerablybearded patriarchs among them, many slender, smooth-cheeked lads, and not a few females, who had shared the battle with their husbands. We discovered several still alive, but in a hopeless state. These as we approached them, closed their eyes to avoid our sight; or, if any cast a look upon us, it was one of unsubdued vengefulness. From us they would not accept of water to quench their dying thirst, but from an Arab they
STANZAS TO A YOUNG FRIEND.
I OFT have gazed on thee sweet Anne,
Between thee and the skies,
Though rich in outward loveliness,
Calm and unruffled as the stream, O'er which the queen of night Loves to reflect her placid beam,
And bathe in floods of light, Is the collected thoughtful mien In which thy purity is seen.
did not hesitate; feebly ejaculating "Allah!" as they received it. This spectacle, perhaps, to one accustomed to carnage-covered plains, would have caused little emotion, but in a novice it excited intensely painful sensations. Before we left the ground where we had pitched our camp, and where we remained for ten days, the bodies became bloated, by the heat of the sun, to gigantic dimensions. This hideous and disgusting sight received an additional horror towards sunset, when the vultures came dowu to feast upon their prey. More than once, when on picket near them, have I been sickened by their wings flapping over the carcases, and bearing their busy beaks at work,
Du URING the reign of Casimir, King of Poland, a Prince as much feared by his enemies as he was beloved by his subjects, Enrique, an illustrious Spanish nobleman, left his country, for some unknown reason, and came to the Polish court. There he soon won the royal favour by his devotedness to the person, and his exploits in the military service of
Thine is that singleness of heart,
Oh, may no early sufferings dim
While memory on my soul shall trace
NATURE WILL PREVAIL.
parative degree of war-like courage among the various European nations. The Poles claimed the palm of bravery for their own nation: the Spaniards they unanimously acknowledged as inferior to none but themselves; but their opinions were not so united respecting the merits of the French and Hungarians. Enrique listened in silent attention to this dispute. The King did not fail to notice it, supposing his silence proceeded from a modest disinclination to praise his own country. "What is the reason," said His Majesty, "that our friend Eurique is the only person silent on a subject on which he is so well qualified to decide?" The prudent nobleman respectfully replied, that, if His Majesty would allow him to express his thoughts, he would say that such disputes never did good, as the opinion of each party would, after all, remain the same. Besides, as a stranger, it would be presumption in him to differ in sentiment from so many abler judges. The King was not, however, satisfied with this excuse. At length, compelled, as it were, to speak, Enrique pronounced for the superior bravery of his own countrymen; alleging, in proof, the numerous and signal victories obtained by them in all ages. "Your Majesty," said he, "would be convinced of their superiority, if an experiment which I could suggest were to be made."-" What is that?" inquired the King ; "for howsoever difficult it may be, it shall be attempted."-" Let an infant of Spanish extraction," replied Enrique, "be procured, and confined until he shall arrive at manhood. When released from his confinement, let different objects that may charm the senses be placed before him, and I will venture to predict that a suit of armour will fix his choice."
The King rose up, and signified his approval of the proposed experiment. He observed, however, that Enrique would repent the expression of an opinion so unfavourable to Sarmatian prowess.
His Majesty's words, to the great
concern of Enrique, were soon fulfilled. Knowing the latter had a son but two years old, he commanded him to be taken from its parents and enclosed in a solitary fort which had long served as a military outpost of the city.
The loss of a beloved child proved fatal to the lady of Enrique; and this double calamity so afflicted him, that, in three years, he followed her to the grave. To make all the atonement he could, for the wrongs he had inflicted, the King rendered great bonours to the memory of the deceased. He also directed, that when the time for the freedom of the youth should arrive, he should be well compensated for the privation he had endured, and elevated to the dignities of his father.
The child was entrusted during six years to the care of two nurses. He was then placed under an able tutor, by whom he was instructed in philosophy, the languages, and every other branch of learning. His talents were of the first order, and his mind gradually exhibited a strength far above his years. He continued in his prison until his twentieth year, daily longing with increased ardour for liberty, that greatest of all earthly blessings.
The imprisonment of Carlos-so the youth was called-was known only to few; for the King had commanded his heart-broken parents, under the pain of death, to keep the fatal secret.
The King had a beautiful and accomplished daughter, named Sol. Her portrait having been accidentally seen by Rosardo, Prince of Denmark, he became enamoured. Unfortunately, his father was preparing, in conjunction with the King of Sweden to make war on the Polish monarch, and he could not therefore satisfy his desire of visiting her without delay. He had a friend, the son of his father's ally, with whom he frequently spent months in hunting on the confines of the two kingdoms. During one of those excursions, he shewed that Prince (Oscar) the very portrait which had produced so new