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faults may be, it cannot be charged against 'us as a nation that we ever seek to exhibit our hostility to the living by waging war against the tombs of the dead. To preserve this monument, therefore, from violence became a point of honour with the British contingent; and their care was the more needed, that the Austrians appeared to har. bour a design towards it diametrically the reverse. The very first day an Austrian picquet mounted there, the men began to chip and deface the pillar. It was to no purpose that the act was condemned as unmanly and barbarous in general orders ; the same results fol. lowed on the next occasion, when the Duke found it expedient to commit the post to the guardianship of his allies, till, in the end, the very existence of the monument seemed to be endangered. This was too much for the good-nature even of our good-natured commander-in-chief. He placed the obelisk under the protection of a British guard, and neither Austrians, nor Hanoverians, nor the sol. diers of any other nation, were permitted, except under surveillance, to approach the hill. At length, on the
2nd of June, at ten o'clock at night, ground was formally broken. The operation was performed by a working-party of about three hundred men, which a second party, accoutred and ready for action, covered ; and as the men preserved a strict silence, and there was no moon in the heavens, considerable progress was made ere the enemy caught the alarm. No sooner, however, was our purpose made manifest than they opened a fire from every gun that bore upon the point, and night and day, till the parallel was finished, were our men exposed to its fury; yet the casualties were much fewer than from such a cannonade might have been expected. I do not recollect that anybody belonging to our regiment was killed, except one man; and I am mistaken if the wounded comprised more than the Earl of Cavan, whom the splinter of a shell struck on the head when he was standing in the trenches.
It is not worth while to give a minute and particular account of the progress of the siege, which lasted from the 2d of June to the 29th of July. In all essential points the details of one such operation will be found to resemble those of another, - that is to say, working parties are out for ever; and the greatest precautions are used, sometimes to no purpose, to guard against the risk of sorties, or to repel them when hazarded. Into the mysteries of these matters we were fully initiated. We worked, we watched, we patrolled,—we gave as well as received alarms, and became by degrees so accustomed to the whistle of shot and shells, as scarcely to regard it. Yet we had our little varieties too, of which the following may be received as specimens. About a week after the siege had fairly begun, there came from the town an officer with a flag of truce, to report that an English lady was just then taken with the pains of labour, and to beg an armistice of six hours, that she might be removed to a place of safety. The request was acceded to, of course, and out the lady came; but I am sorry to be obliged to add, that the French totally forgot the nature of the engagement into which they had entered. Round the town, and in front of our lines, there were some magnificent gardens, the cherry-trees in which were at this season laden with fruit, and often had they been gazed at by us with longing eyes, such as men generally turn upon the good things which they may not even hope to possess. We were no sooner informed of the
six hours' arınistice than we resolved to turn it to account. In large numbers we flocked to the orchards, and happy men were we while branch after branch gave up its treasures. But we had counted, more than the event proved that we were justified in doing, on French honour as well as French generosity. The enemy no sooner beheld us in this exposed state than they opened a fire from the battery opposite, and slew in cold blood three or four individuals, who imagined that they were safe, because of the armistice scarce one hour had elapsed. There was much indignation both experienced and expressed at so wanton an outrage ; but what could we do? We made all the haste possible back to the lines, and our guns soon made answer to the guns of the enemy.
Another circumstance occurred somewhat later in the siege, which operated for a while a good deal to our hurt, but of which we soon contrived to elude the worst consequences. An Austrian officer of engineers deserted; and, as he carried with him a perfect knowledge of the situation of our mines, and of the routes which we followed in carrying relief to the trenches, we had every right to expect that in both the garrison would disturb us. We were not mistaken in this anticipation. Regularly as the hour of relief came round the enemy used to fire with extreme precision towards certain exposed points on the line which it was our custom to follow ; while more than one of their shells lodged in the very mouth of the mine at the precise moment when our people had been appointed to charge it. Our obvious policy, of course, was to set aside the old arrangements, and we adopted it; yet a few casualties occurred, which, but for the double treachery of that individual, never would have happened.
My third anecdote has reference to a battery, which Major Wright of the British artillery erected on Famars hill ; and from which he inflicted a great deal of damage on the town. Among other things he set fire to a church which the governor had filled with forage, and totally consumed it. In mere wantonness, too, he battered the steeple of the cathedral, till he had fairly knocked it out of the perpendicular; and it still, I am told, in its tottering and insecure position, bears witness to the accuracy with which his shots were directed. But this was not all. We had our sortie likewise, and a little storming; the former of which ended very much in the discomfiture of the assailants, while the latter was attended on our parts with the most complete success.
I alluded just now to the siege of Condé, in which the Prince of Cobourg was engaged. It went on slowly,—for the means of attack were inadequate, and the garrison had been provided with every requisite for defence; yet it ended, after three months, in a capitulation, by which the allies became masters of the place. To mark our satisfaction, and that of our chiefs, at a result so earnestly desired, we received orders on a certain day to parade in rear of the lines, and fire a feu de joie. Now it so happened that the governor of Valenciennes was at this time in expectation of being relieved; and the firing which he heard naturally struck him as proceeding from the relieving army. Forth, therefore, he sallied at the head of a considerable column, in order to make a diversion in its favour; and between him and the guards of our trenches there was a smart encounter. But it did not last long. From our parade ground we marched back, having no French army in our rear, and the mistake
into which the garrison had fallen became immediately apparent. They retreated in great confusion, after sustaining a heavy loss, and never again, till the close of the siege, ventured to show themselves beyond the crest of the glacis.
By this time our batteries were far advanced, and our approaches pushed to the utmost limits that were attainable, so long as certain outworks, which intervened between us and the body of the place, should remain in the enemy's possession. These it was accordingly determined to storm, and on the night of the 29th of July the assault took place. I was not myself personally engaged in this affair, which was entrusted to detachments from several regiments; but, like the rest of the army, I was a spectator of it; and a very remarkable military show it was. We had run a mine under the ditch of one of the outworks, the explosion of which would, it was assumed, throw down both the scarp and the counterscarp; and the directions given to the storming party were to wait till that should be effected, and then to rush on. No operation of the kind could have been executed more regularly, or with more perfect success. A little before midnight we beheld the mine explode; and then the columns of attack, which had already been formed in the trenches, sprang forward, and bore down all opposition. A sharp firing there was for a time, with a hand-to-hand fight over the breach ; but the enemy did not long maintain it. They retreated into the town, and the very next day exhibited manifest symptoms of having had enough, or more than enough, of the siege.
The fall of this outwork appeared to operate upon the courage of the French governor with an effect which greatly surprised us. Не sent an aid-de-camp, without loss of time, to propose terms of capitulation, and was glad, when others more favourable were refused, to stipulate only for the honours of war as a salve to his own vanity and that of his troops.
The request was, of course, granted readily, and the 29th was selected as the day on which the garrison should march out, and lay down their arms in a particular field that was set apart for the purpose.
There was, however, another matter to be arranged ere we could give up our attention exclusively to this business. Several deserters had passed from our army into the town, and it was necessary for the sake of example that they should not escape punishment. Not, therefore, till the evening of the 28th was the blockade in the slightest degree relaxed, and then the vigilance of our picquets seemed only to increase. It had been arranged between the chiefs that at daybreak on the morning of the 29th detachments from the allied army should occupy the several gates, and that one and no more should continue in charge of the garrison, through which at the stipulated hour they were to pass to the place of surrender. All this was done accordingly. As soon as the day broke our people got under arms, and moved from their respective encampments to the posts that had been allotted to them. For ourselves we lined the road from the Cambray gate to Briquet, the place where the arms of the prisoners were to be deposited, — while between our ranks certain intelligent persons from each of the nations took post, for the purpose of examining the countenances of those who should pass, and otherwise providing that the deserters were not smuggled out in the confusion.
Such was the order in which we stood till the clocks of the town
struck six, when the word attention was given, and the Cambray gate being thrown open, multitudes of country people issued forth. They came with horses and waggons, and household stuff, as if about to emigrate to a distant country; and the lamentations of not a few of them were as loud and vehement as the mirth of others was unbecoming. Not a group was permitted to pass, however, till the individuals comprising it had been examined, -not a cart or vehicle of any description escaped the vigilance of the searchers. For a while all this care seemed to be applied in vain ; and we began to suspect, in some sort even to hope, that the unhappy deserters might have fallen upon a better plan of escape ; but the event showed that no such good fortune attended them. First one and then another was dragged from beneath a truss of straw, or seized, in defiance of the change of costume with which he had endeavoured to disguise himself; and a prévôt from each nation being at hand, to him his own people were immediately delivered. I am sorry to say that there was one Englishman, of the name of Cogle, in the list. He was taken out of a waggon more dead than alive, and placed in confinement; there to remain till a court martial should assemble before which his case might be fully heard. The foreigners were not so nice in their proceedings. Four Austrians, including the officer of engineers, one or two Hanoverians, and as many Dutchmen, were all hung up to the nearest trees; the fact of their having been detected in an endeavour to smuggle themselves out of the place being regarded as proof enough that they were not carried into it as prisoners of war.
Before I conclude my account of the siege of Valenciennes I may as well state, that his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge was present during the progress of the operation, and that both he and his regiment, a corps of Hanoverian grenadiers, were especial favourites with the British army. The grenadiers in question constituted nominally the same battalion which bad served under General Elliot in the defence of Gibraltar ; and, though time had accomplished among them his customary operation of weeding them out, well nigh to extinction, several of the old hands still remained to speak of the exploits of other days. It was curious to see how they attached themselves to the Coldstreams, both officers and men so arranging matters that we should take all manner of duties together; and I am bound to add that the feeling was mutual. We were the best friends possible, and spent many a joyous hour in each others' company, even when our conversation was of necessity carried on by signs only.
CHAPTER XXIV. In which Sir William's designs are more clearly developed. When Sir William originally felt that he might compass the fall of Stanley,—when he conceived the design of enriching himself by virtue of reducing him, by “honourable" means, to a state of comparative destitution, he was actuated solely by the vile passion of avarice; but after having seen and conversed with Amelia, — after having been received as a friend, and allowed the privileges of a friend, he was inspired with a stronger passion even than that.
He had proved that Stanley really loved Amelia, and that Amelia most fondly loved him ; but he did not despair of being able eventually to bring about a mutual revulsion of feeling, by inducing and cherishing inconstancy on the one hand, and a conviction of wrong on the other.
He possessed much subtlety; he had seen much of the world; he had no inconsiderable knowledge of the workings of the human heart, and more especially conversant was he with the evil passions of which it is susceptible. He knew how powerful an instrument the sense of deep injury was in effecting the destruction of virtue by promoting that terrible feeling of revenge, of which the gratification teems with frightful misery ; and this instrument he resolved to make available, and to use.
While studying the character of Amelia, while gazing upon her beauty,—that beauty which intellect and purity of soul when conjoined never fail to impart - with an eye whose expression, to one less pure than she, would have plainly portrayed the guilty mind, he felt, he could not but feel that the attainment of the base object he had proposed would require all the villanous ingenuity at his command; but this feeling only tended to urge him on the more; as in the view of the world gold is more valuable than other metals, only because it can be with less facility procured, so in his estimation was Amelia to him.
The passion by which he was prompted could not be called love. Love is not an essentially selfish passion. It embraces the peace the object beloved. Who that loves seeks to compass the ruin of that object? Will he, with a view to the gratification of any feeling of self, involve her in moral destruction ? No: he will guard her, he will cherish her; her virtue is his pride; the promotion of her happiness forms the strongest, the dearest wish of his heart; her honour is as dear to him as his own; he will lay down his life to preserve it. It was not love. It was nothing like love. It was a grovelling, morbid, sensual passion, springing from baseness, to which love never can be allied. What cared he for the feelings of Amelia ? The eternal destruction of her happiness was his aim; he sought to wean her affections from Stanley, and Stanley's affections from her, by inducing him to form such connections as those which undermine domestic peace, and thereby causing her to feel that she was indeed neglected.