網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

I was reconducted to the common room in Porte Chaussée. Some Spanish prisoners, who had arrived there during my absence, insisted that I should treat them with wine. I paid for two bottles, which they said was not enough. Enraged at a conduct which I had never experienced even from French prisoners, I smashed the bottles against each other, when the Spaniards fell upon me with their knives, and, had it not been for the interposition of the French, the consequence would, in all probability, have proved fatal to me. Shortly after, I was removed to the upper room with Messrs. Jackson, De Wolmar, and M‘Farlane; we soon made a hole in the ceiling, which opened into a garret. MʻFarlane descended first by means of a rope, and escaped ; the alarm was then given. De Wolmar, however, attempted to follow MʻFarlane, but the rope was cut by some persons underneath; he fell and broke his thigh. Jackson regained his room; but I could not discover the aperture in time to retreat. I heard the gingling of keys and the clashing of swords at the garret door; the remembrance of Cox and Marshall's horrid fate forcibly struck my

mind. In short, I expected my hour was come. Giving myself up for lost, as a forlorn hope, I made a desperate rush through my assailants, the instant the door was opened ; and fortunately without receiving any material injury. When the search was over, Jackson and I were locked up in a room without even straw to lie on. In the month of September following, I was ordered to Briançon, a fortress in the Upper Alps, sir hundred miles distant. On the 6th of October, betwixt Lyons and Bourgouin, I again effected my escape; but, after wandering three days in the mountains, on the banks of the Rhone, living on chesnuts, I was retaken near Valence, and arrived at Grenoble in time to accompany a party of my countrymen, who were travelling to the same destination as myself. A few leagues beyond Grenoble is the spot where Napoleon, after his landing from Elba, first met the troops who were sent against him; hut whom he harangued and brought over to him. We little thought that retired spot would ever become the scene of an event so extraordinary.

In the latter end of November, after a tedious march through a wild and dreary country, the cold being excessive, we at length, after passing through Gap and Montdauphin, a strong fortress, arrived within sight of the magnificent castle of Briançon, situated about twenty leagues from Turin. The Fort des Trois Têtes was fixed upon for our habitation. Our entrance into this majestic place was accompanied by circumstances rather remarkable. On arriving at the outer gate, a centinel cried: “Qui vive !” the reply from our guards was: “Prisonniers Anglais coupables de désertion.” The drawbridge was then let down, and we were allowed to enter. On being ranked up in the court-yard, a most risible stage-trick was played off by our mountebank commandant, Montet. The troops marched round us three times, coming in at one gate, and going out at another, so as to make their numbers appear more considerable by leaving no chasm betwixt the gates in the interior. At length they formed a line in our rear, when we perceived their amount, the paucity of which astonished us. The commandant (surnamed “the goat,” from a lock of hair which he suffered to grow from a wart on his under lip, taking great pleasure in pulling it when in conversation) having ordered the troops to prime Jan. 1826.

D

and load, in our presence, exclaimed: “ Voyez vous ce mouvement là ? Le premier d'entre vous qui fera la moindre tentative pour s'échapper sera fusillé.” We were then locked up in rooms, each containing eight or ten of us. Here George Atkinson, a native of York, a remarkably fine young man, and most agreeable companion, died of a spotted fever, after an illness of three days. I escaped the contagion, although I was his bed-fellow; but, two months afterwards, being slightly indisposed, three of my fellow-prisoners accompanied me to the hospital, where, having made an unsuccessful attempt to escape, we were sent to a dungeon in the fortress, where no light was visible at noon-day, and which, being cut out of a solid rock, was continually wet, from the dripping of water that issued from different parts of it. After a month's imprisonment in this wretched abode, the door was forced open by one of my companions, but none hastened to take advantage of it. Opposite the dungeon was a centinel pacing to and fro’; within six yards to the right was a guard-house, containing twenty-four soldiers; on the left was the gate leading to Italy; beyond which was a small outer fort. On the 26th of April, 1812, about seven o'clock in the morning, this circumstance took place. The time was fast approaching when the regular morning visit took place ; we had but a few minutes to spare, when I entreated my comrades to depart; not one would stir. Thinking such an opportunity, though fraught with extreme danger, was not to be neglected, I watched the moment when the centinel's back was turned, and turning the corner, I passed through the Italian gate. Observing some peasants coming towards me, I slackened my pace; but, hearing footsteps behind me, I again accelerated my march, when, on looking back for the first time, I discovered Mr. Hare in full speed to join me. He, with five others who took a different road, and were retaken the same day, had at length resolved to leave the dungeon. In about twenty minutes the alarm was given by the guns of the fortress, and was answered by all the village bells within sound of the cannon. The garrison then sallied out in quest of us; but ascending the steepest rocks, we lay down amongst the bushes, and from thence had a full view of our pursuers. Many a shot did we hear resound from beneath us, and many a shuddering thrill came over us whenever the tremendous shouts of the enemy seemed to approach us. At length, after a day of agony, night put an end to our fears, as the troops, retiring to the fort, left us at liberty to continue our journey. Our bodies faint with want of food, but our minds elated with the prospect of liberty, we scaled the snowy mountains that separated us from Italy. Frequently forced to rest our weary limbs on the bare ground, the terrific quadrupeds of these savage regions would howl around us; but the season undoubtedly rendered them less ferocious. Forty hours did we pass without food; an occasional mouthful of snow, or a sip at a clear spring, was all the refreshment we could procure; being afraid to enter any human habitation, while in the vicinity of our late prison.

At the end of three days we reached Susa, at the foot of Mount Cenis, and mistaking our road, we ascended almost its summit hefore we perceived our error. This mountain, from which Hannibal is

• Do you see that evolution ? The first that makes the least attempt to escape shall be shot,

The pea

said to have harangued his army, pointing out to them the beautiful plains of Italy they were going to conquer, is now a grand specimen of the modern improvement in roads. There is a wide carriageroad over it, where formerly there was no travelling but through a narrow and extremely dangerous path. Part of the old road still remains, and many of the natives prefer it; although by so doing, they are in constant danger of breaking their necks. A few hours' march presents you with the attributes of spring and winter; for, in descending into the plains of Piedmont, we were agreeably surprised to see the hedges and trees in full verdure, while on Mount Cenis the least sign of vegetation was not to be perceived. On the fourth night of our departure from Briançon a dreadful thunder-storm overtook us; having lost our way, we wandered about in the ploughed fields, being in momentary hazard of slipping into the swollen streams that surrounded us. After several hours of disheartening terrors, we regained the high road, and on the next day arrived at Turin. My companion was taken there by gens-d'armes, hut I eluded their grasp ; and, following the course of the Po, at the end of three days I beheld the enchanting prospect of the extensive plains of Alexandria. Never shall I forget the delightful scene that burst on my astonished sight, when, after a tedious journey in the mountains, I first discovered that beautiful country. The clearest sky I ever saw brightened the almost boundless prospect before me. santry I invariably found to be hospitable in the extreme. I passed through Alexandria, the strongest fortress in Piedmont, when, at a quarter of a mile from Novi, I was arrested by a maréchal des logis of gens-d'armes, who was walking in the shade of the moon, while I was pacing the high road; this was about two o'clock in the morning. I was then in the most deplorable condition, being almost barefooted; my clothes were torn to tatters, and my pockets were quite empty. Notwithstanding my helpless state, I should doubtless have been induced to seize an opportunity of disarming my captor, but a revenueofficer made his appearance before I could put my design into execution, and prevented me from a desperate effort that would probably have caused my destruction. On arriving at Novi, I was humanely treated by the sub-prefect, Mr. Reboult, who clothed me and furnished me with money, which enabled me to encounter, in some measure, the evils that still awaited me. After a few days residence at Novi, I was ordered to revisit the Fort of Bitche, a distance of seven hundred miles. Being much refreshed, I began my march with renewed hopes of being yet able to escape to Genoa, from whence Novi is only ten leagues distant. Travelling by day through the plains of Marengo, I had a better opportunity of remarking that celebrated spot. In the village of Marengo is a tower, from which the inhabitants say, Napoleon made several observations during the battle of that name; in the evening, I arrived at Alexandria, and was lodged in the citadel. The situation of this fortress is admirable, being in the centre of an extensive plain, guarded, moreover, by two rapid rivers, the Bormida and the Tanaro; it is accounted the strongest in Piedmont. In three days I reached the noble city of Turin, where I rested a few days. From thence I marched to Susa, and re-ascended Mount Cenis. The heat in the plains was excessive, while, on the top of this mount, the cold was intense. Here I was confined in a miserable dungeon, by the road-side, which, added to the great change in the atmosphere, laid the foundation of the illness I soon after experienced.

I now entered Savoy, and, from prison to prison, arrived at Chambery, the capital of that country. This romantic spot is greatly improved by the new roads lately cut through the whole of this duchy, by order of Napoleon, to the great astonishment and utility of the inhabitants. Immediately on my arrival at Chambery, I fell seriously ill of a fever, and was removed to the hospital of that city. To describe the affectionate regard and attention I obtained from the kindhearted nuns, who officiated as nurses in that hospital, is totally beyond my power; a religious zeal animated them to the performance of the most disgusting duties which they had voluntary assumed. In about six weeks I was convalescent, and returned to prison, from whence I was escorted to Lyons, Besançon, Nancy, Metz, &c. and on the 15th of September I was once more deposited in the Fort of Bitche, which I had quitted, seven years before, with an ardent desire never to see it again. The French say, “il ne faut pas dire fontaine! Je ne boirai plus de ton eau;"* this proverb has been verified in my case more than once. Contrary to my expectation, I was transferred to Sedan, a month afterwards; and resided with a few others, in the chamber wherein Marshal Turenne was born. In the month of March following, having entirely recruited myself, I resolved to make another attempt to obtain freedom, and having observed that the commandant's secretary resembled me in features and in stature, one morning, about ten o'clock, I took two large accountbooks under my arm, and passing three centinels and two guard-houses, I reached the town of Sedan, unmolested. A Polish regiment did duty at Sedan castle alternately with the French. I chose a day when the Poles were on guard, they not being so likely as the French to discover me, although, if they had suspected me in the least, they would have treated me with much greater ferocity. I was in extreme danger from the curiosity of my fellow-captives, who, being unacquainted with my design, crowded the windows to see me pass along, and by their inquisitive words and looks would have confirmed any suspicion the centinels might previously have entertained concerning me. Fron Sedan I went to Verdun, and from thence I took the road to Paris, which I entered, notwithstanding the decree that a prisoner of war or enemy found within ten leagues of Paris should suffer death as a spy:

From Paris I took the road to Dieppe; but, after wandering about on the sea-shore, during four days, disa ppointed in my hopes of prevailing on some fishermen to convey me to the English ships, which came daily within gun-shot of the forts, I proceeded along the coast to Havre de Grace, where I was again arrested by the police, through the information of an American to whom I had applied for aid. I was remanded to Sedan by the route of Roan, Beauvais, Mezières, &c., and arrived there in the middle of June. I was sent to a dungeon where many an unfortunate victim had breathed his last, during the reign of despotism and that of terror. The commandant, De Wasronville, did not possess that fiend-like disposition

* We must not say—fountain! I will never drink of your water again.

which was the characteristic of those I had previously known. In a few days his feelings for my situation overcame his sense of duty, and he allowed me to associate with my former companions. In about a month after, forty of us were ordered to march to Montdauphin, ten leagues from the dire fortress of Briançon. This decision filled me with horror; but, fortunately, I succeeded in making my escape from St. Mihel, seven leagues from Verdun, to which I returned ; and having remained there till the hue and cry concerning me had subsided, I departed for the Rhine, which I reached in nine days. Endeavouring to pass Strasburg bridge, I was informed by an officer on guard, that a pass from the commissary of police of Strasburg was indispensable: I was grateful for the hint, and, the next day being Sunday, I took advantage of the concourse of people who are in the habit of visiting the opposite banks of the Rhine on that day, and through the agency of a Napoleon d'or, I obtained a pass from a mechanic, and thus quitted France, where I had undergone so many indignities.

This happened on the 29th of August, 1813. Although I had escaped from France, the alliance which existed betwixt Napoleon and the German princes convinced me that I was not entirely free from danger; for, after two days' travelling through Baden and Wirtemburg, I was again surprised by gens-d'armes, a few leagues from Stutgard, and conducted to Fort Asperg, where I was confined two months. When the result of the battle of Leipsic was known, I claimed my liberty from the King of Wirtemburg, who granted it immediately. I then departed for Prague, through Ulm, Ratisbon, &c.; on the 23d of November I passed over the field of battle near Leipsic, which city I traversed on my road to Brunswick, Hanover, Bremen, and Cuxhaven, where I embarked, and after touching at Heligoland, landed at Harwich on the 29th of December, 1813.

References when at Verdun. The Rev. Mr. Lee; The Rev. Mr. Gorden; Capt. Jervoise, RN.; Capt. Smith, RN.; Major Sankey; Lieut. Jackson, RN.; Lieut. Le Worthy, RN.; Lieut. Bingham, RN., Lieut. Radford, RN.; Messrs. Melville, Matley, Williams, &c.

At Bitche.
General Stack; Dr. Fox; Lieut. Morris, RN.; Mr. Scott; Mr. Billings ; Mr
Priestley; Mr. Gibson ; Capt. Bannatyne ; Capt. Hocquart, &c.

At Briançon.
Capt. Rose ; Dr. Forsyth ; Mr. Hare ; Mr. Goldsmith ; Mr. Tunstall, &c.

At Sedan.
Messrs. Giles, Edwards, Buckley, Houghton, Hare, Davis, &c.

COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE.

If the ten thousand moralists, who have written from Solomon down to Miss Ferriar, have left any thing to say on the subject of marriage, a writer will have good luck that finds it out. It would be no small merit even to shuffle the cards into a new position. The experiment shall, however, be tried. It is a subject that never wearies, that is one comfort; it comes home to all our feelings, to some for hope, to others for regretto whom for enjoyment? to whom not for vexation? It is the bottom of

« 上一頁繼續 »