ePub 版


Randolph buckled the sword to his side, and prepared to depart to join the troops levying over the continent. "Be not unmindfui of your life, my son : remember you are our only child-our only hope ani joy"-said his father, “ Not that I would have you cold and unaspiring studiously careful of your life : but be not rash and precipitate. Youthful soldiers are too anxious to distinguish themselves by some daring feat; heedless of life, and spurning the dictates of prudence, they rush unnecessarily into places of the most imminent danger. Randolph, I once was a sollier no older than yourself, and have not forgotten what hazard my hot blood led me into. Disregard not then the warning voire of grey headed experience-be wary and careful."-" Do, do Randolphe mind your father's admonition. Ch! my son, if we were to be deprived of you, soon, soon would follow our death knell."-" Alarm not yourselves, fondest, dearest parents. God armeth the patriot. Well convinced of that, my heloveil, revered father and mother, can you fear for me. Doubt not that the all-protecting Omnipotent, in whose eye, the world is bounded to a span, will be unmindful of your

HE, who putteth down the oppressor, will again return me to your arms.”—“Did I think differently,” said his mother, “ thou shouldst not leave me. That the Almighty will shield thee from danger, is all that soothes the parting with thee.”—“Farewell, my boy,” said the father, as the youth uttered the tardy farewell. “ be mindful of your life, but not cowardly so, goremember you are a soldier. remen:ber, you are my son. His mother spoke not : but as hier son bent upon her bosom, she prossed him closer to her, then clasping her hands together, raised them up to Heaven and the devout expression of her look. told that she was calling down the benediction and protection of Heaven upon her otispring. She then gently raised him from off her bosom, gazed on him with that forvent expression of countenance with which we look upon the remains of a dear friend or relative for the last time, and departed into the next chamber. Randolph looked after his mother, as if he had seen for the last time, the protector of his infancy, and fondly strove to catch one-only one more glimpse of her venerated form. “Father! fatber!” said he (as he turned his eyes from the door of the apartment into which she had entered) “God. God bles you farewell: farewell!” and raising his hands and eyes up to Ileaven for a moment, he covered his face with his hands, and rushed out of the house.

At the Battle of Queenstown-Heights, (his first engagement) he was desperately wounded, but undaunted he fought on, and it was not until endeavouring to protect the lifeless body of the intrepid and much lamented Ensign Morris, from the brutal

Indian allies of the English, that his scull was fractured by the tomahawk of one of the Indians, and he was compelled to retire.

He was so desperately wounded, that he was conveyed to his parents at Washington. At the time when the marauding English were about to make a descent upon that city, our hero was yet an invalid, and his wounds but partially healed. He heard that the English, unsated by the blood they had spilt, the horrid acts they had perpetrated, and the families they had ruined, were about to attack and burn Washington. “Oh! God, is it possible!" exclaimed the youth, springing from his mat, while a glow of indignation suffised his pale and manly cheek. “Can it be that they still thirst for more blood? Have not their savage propensities been glutted by the burnings of Havre de Grace and Hampton? Do not the shrieks of the innocent victims of their infernal lust, still ring in their ears—the groans and supplications of children and women, the curses of parents still follow them? But why talk I thus—come my sword again to my hand, and oh! God of Justice! nerve me with strength, that I may deal out confusion and just retribution upon the base and lawless spoilers of my country!" "Talk not thus, Randolph," said his agonized mother. “You do not, you cannot intend what your words purport.” “Mother, mother,” answered the youth in breathless trepidation, “ I mean as my words have expressed, and I am now girding on my sword to join myself with those who rally round the standard of my country, to protect from invasion and desolation this metropolis. Hallowed by the revered, and never to be forgotten name of Washington--to teach the homocides—the savage recreants—the haughty foe, that freemen are never unprepared to expel from their soil, such an insolent invader, who, after having laid waste our shores—sacked our cities murdered our countrymen”- “But Randolph, Randolph," interrupted bis mother, “ Your wounds are yet unhealed, they will break out afresh, you are unable to hear the fatigue of war, nay, you must not, shall not go. %' Shell not shall not,” re iterated Randolph ; " Mother, revoke your words--I will not disobey you, I will not go, if you bid me stay; but then my obedience will cost me my life. For me to remain at home, while all are doing something to protect their homes, would make me so contemptible and cowardly in my own eyes. that the sense of my dishonour woud soon terminate my existence. Has not every one that can ìift a sword been called upon, nay, commanded to assemble round the standard of the people of this free country to assist in repelling the sattelites of tyranny? and shall a few paltry unhealed wounds stay me. when fathers, husbands, brothers and children are shedding their hearts blood-shall I not strike one blow, for my country for the home of my parents? Heaven forefend! Mother, you would not have me so base-you must not, cannot wish it! Though my arm is weak, God can nerve it with strength. Look there, mother, look there,” (continued the youth, approaching the window, and throwing up the sash; his eyes beaming with the enthusiasm of his sentiments) “ see that hoary headed old man supported by his daughter; behold that feeble mother, bearing an infant, with the little ones following her-look on all around, see what agony and wo is depicted on every face-hear their exclamations-; - The British!The British!

The British!Havre de Grace.'" Hampton!" My Children!" “ My Father!Daughter!" - Husband!" Brother!”–Mother, mark these objects and hear their cries, then ask yourself if thou canst bid me stay? Justice! Heaven! the dearest ties that bind us. must all say, no--I go to preserve to those decrepit and infirm ones their homes and families—to those parents their children to those children their parents--Nay, dearest mother, look not so on me.”— When she said, "Go, my son, and may God prosper and protect you!" she might have been likened to a Spartan Matron.

On Wednesday, the 24th August, 1814, Randolph was with the troops at Bladensburg—where deadly danger, and frightful hazard, seemed to take their stations, he was seen striving by his exhortations, entreaties, example and prowess to stimulate his countrymen to greater deeds of valor. Though lately risen from the bed of sickness, weak and tender, in the fight he seemed to have been nerved with super-human strength ; onwards he pressed when others fell back. But when he saw the American troops discomfited, retreating before the enemy, he paused for a moment, and trembling, leaning on his sword gasped for breath; but it was for a moment only. The next, with indignation in his countenance, he flew to the 5th Baltimore Regiment, (headed by Lt. Col. Smith,) which still stood firm. “God, God be praised! they still stand firm"-cried he, while his cheeks glowed with the vehemence of feeling; and the energy with which he spoke filled his eyes with tears—“Keep them to it—soldiers as ye regard your country's honour, your friend's safety, stand, nor basely retreat,-yield not your family property to the tyrants, fight bravely, courageously, strongly, and God will yield you an invincible support-on, on, now for God and Liberty!" And he threw himself successively into every part of the field in the hotest moments of the battle. Annimated by his example, for a while the soldiers stood firmly to it, but through the cowardice of some, they, in despite of the youth's noble bearing. gave way before the enemy. Randolph wondered ; he could not believe his senses was it his countrymen, descendants of revolutionary he

res that now fled?-It was too true; and the young soldier, almost heart-broken, wished for death to close his eyes upon a scene of such dishonor :--But his countenance lit up, and hope once more revisited him, when he saw Commodore Barney with his gallant men, stoutly disputing every foot of ground ; musket to musket, almost foot to foot and breast to breast, they fought. “My country yet may triumph (said he springing towards them, and his eyes gleaming with the patriotic ardor of his soul) “Fight on-fight 01—for God's sake, sir, (addressing Commodore Barney) hold to it, and let the world see how much a few well nerved arms, contending for liberty, can do against myriads of foes.” “They shall not give way (returned the gallant Barney) while I have an arm to strike a blow.” Stoutly did they fight, and dreadful was the havoc. But when the never-to-be forgotten Barney fell, covered with wounds and almost hacked to pieces, into the hands of the enemy, hope sunk in the heart of Randolph. Led on by such a man, wbat could they not achieve ; but now that he was lost to them, the few brave men that remained, despairing of success, weak and wounded began to retreat. Randolph flew to the standard, he waved it on high, he called on the retreating soldiers to return, he reproached, he urged, he begged and entreated. Touched by the agonizing earnestness of his manner, some did return. "Now on, on brave men, fight on till you have not left a running vein, till you are hewed and hacked to pieces oh! it will be glorious for us few to preserve our City from these fell plunderers." They renewed the attack-but overpowered by numbers, they a second time retreated. “Oh! coward, coward hearts!" (exclaimed the wretched Randolph) My country, thou art disgraced forever!" The agony of wounded sensibility, was too much for him, and he fell apparently dead on the ground, and for a time was blessed with the oblivion of forgetfulness. When he recovered, the starry mantle of night covered the firmament. “Oh my Country! my Country!" burst from the breaking heart of Randolph—“ To basely retreat, coward souls, why did they not in the face of glorious death. form a horrid obstacle to the enemy's entrance to the City, ere they vilely sought for safety in flight!” “My friend, how is it with you!” said the voice of a person approaching and kneeling beside Randolph. “Ha! Wharton, is it you? and do you outlive this days disgrace !-I shall not long. I shall not long--but how came you here?” He had been stunned by a blow, and left for dead upon the field. “Oh, my friend, (issued from the swoolen heart of Randolph) that men who have enjoved freedom in its fullness, should have thus disgraced themselves. Wharton, 'tis a stain upon our country that ages will not obliterate. Would to God I had fallen at Queenstown-Heights, ere I had lived to behold my degenerated country

men act as they have done this day! I had thought they would have died before they would yield to such despoilers. O! Washington! parent of our liberty ; if spirits of the other worlds are permited to"

-At this moment a loud report was heard, “Ha! Whar. ton, what signal is that? what means it" He needed no answer, the next a dreadful glare of light shone in the air. “ I see-I know it all, eternal providence, the British have fired the city —they have commenced their devastation and plunder-Oh God! perhaps (starting wildly on his feet), perhaps it is the light of my parent's house.—They would not flee, they thought the citizens would protect their homes. Ere this their habitation may be incinerated, and their bones among the ashes--my brain will burst with the thought of it—I'll fly, and if alive, protect them from the insults and invidious designs of the soldiery, or die in the attempt!" “ Are you not mad!" (cried Wharton, as Randolph was rushing from him) Do you know what you are about to do? The city is full of soldiers—to attempt to stop them in their designs will be your death-They will not harm your parents." Will not harm them, how can you assure me of that? - Think of Hampton, and Havre de Grace, and then bid me stay, if you can? I'm gone—nay stop me not-Wharton stop me notsee, see the flames how they arise! Father, dear mother, I come, I come!” “ Since you are so rash, we will together brave the indignation of the soldiers”-“ Wharton no—this must not be it will probably cost me my life; but let me only see my parents safe from the ruthless depredators, and I care not. I shall have done my duty. You have a wife and child safe from harm ; live for them, fol. low me not, death treads

upon my heels.”

And ere his friend could reply, he had darted from his grasp, and was almost instantly out of sight.

Randolph abated not his speed—he reached the city. He dashed through the crowd; the wildness of his appearance (for he was without hat, his bosom bare, and his face pale as monumental marble, while he held a naked sword in his hand) made place for him each way he trod. With an exulting shout he sprang upon the steps of his parent's dwelling house, just as a party of soldiers were approaching it with fire brands. “ Back from this house, ye insatiable gang, back I say!” A loud rude laugh was all the answer he received! “Aye, aye, pass as you please the fulsome jest ; but you enter not this house, but across my lifeless body." * I tell you what it is, my dung-hill cock, enter that house we shall. So stand out of the way, or a leaden bullet or two shall pass through your body in less time than I can prime." - You enter this house, I repeat, but over me”-“ Don't, don't talk so" (said an inebriated soldier approaching the house with a torch in his hand). His honour, our brave commander, told us to plun

« 上一頁繼續 »