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brevet, said: “at the very time when you were a sub-lieutenant in the National Guard of Rome, I was in that city, a corporal of the 67th regiment of the line. You see what changes time brings about; I am now a commandant, and you a soldier. As I see that you know the exercise I exempt you from drill, and as I shall make some corporals in a few days, I will promote you to that rank, and am sure that you will do credit to the appointment." The commandant went to inspect the other conscripts who were going through the manæuvres. The sergeant seeing that I knew the exercise as well as himself, allowed me to stand at ease for some time, and talked to me of the kindness of the commandant. When drill was over, we returned to barracks, and the whole corps sat down to a mess of potatoes stewed with beef, which is much liked by the soldiery. To avoid any imputation of pride I partook with them of this fare from the common dish. My companion observing this with more surprise than satisfaction, though he had never tasted such food, fell to, and ate heartily. Having finished our meal, I made my bed, and stretching myself upon it, began to muse on our distressing condition. In the evening the roll was called ; and we went early to rest. There was a great cry of silence, and some old soldiers began to tell stories, while others recounted their adventures, which, though mixed up shocking circumstances, diverted us by their numerous absurdities, until, through utter weariness, we fell asleep. At daybreak next morning we were called up, which to me was a hardship, as I was not accustomed to early rising. The moment we were dressed and had made the bed, the sergeant of the week ordered out me and my companion to take our turn as swabbers, and bade us sweep out the barrack. Several comrades immediately came and offered to do the work for us, in consideration of a little money; and this offer we accepted, distributing among them ten sous.
In three days' time it was declared, in the order of the day, that I was made corporal. I was recognised as such by my company; of which the veterans were displeased at seeing a conscript promoted, while they remained in the condition of privates. I at first thought that the rank of corporal would be preferable to that of soldier, but * I soon found that the duties of it consisted in being the servant of the squad. The garrison in the isle amounted to two thousand men, of whom at least eight hundred had been sent hither for punishment; that is to say, when there were any bad subjects in the various regiments of France, who were irreclaimable by other means, they were sent to Belleisle. The Governor had formed them into a separate regiment, with grey uniforms and red facings. There was also the 67th regiment, consisting of six hundred men; our battalion of five hundred; and a company of artillery. As the governor found that this force was insufficient to man the forty forts that surrounded the isle, he organized a National Guard, which amounted to two thousand men. Our battalion was ordered to the southern coast for the purpose of garrisoning the forts in that quarter. I was much grieved at leaving the little town of Pales, (for so it is called,) to go and dwell among the rocks. Melancholy took possession of our minds; we had no longer the solace we enjoyed while living in the town, where every evening, after the roll-call, I and my companion had the commandant's permission to go out and amuse ourselves at billiards in some coffeehouse or other. We were stationed in divisions of thirty in a fort; aud it was my duty to go to the town twice or thrice a week to purchase necessaries for the squadron, taking two or three men with me to carry the provisions to quarters. The fort we occupied was seven miles distant from the city; and on returning at night, we had to put on our belts, take our muskets, and go every two hours from fort to fort, from continual apprehension lest the English cruizers, which were daily seen hovering near the coast, should effect a landing. They frequently came within cannon shot, when we opened a fire upon them, which they promptly returned. I now began to feel the real hardship of a soldier's life; and particularly in this kind of service, where there was no chance of obtaining promotion by distinguishing ourselves in open combat.
I cursed the commandant, who in making me a corporal, had obliged me to toil day and night. In my squad there were two Parisians, who were discontented also at finding themselves soldiers without any hope, either of going to America, or of gaining advancement.
One day when I had to go and purchase provisions in the town, I ordered out with me my companion and the two Parisians. Meditating on our condition as we went along, we began to think of some remedy for it. We sat down in the midst of the plain to deliberate, and were not long in concluding that there was no expedient but desertion. “ But how is that possible,” said my companion, “ as we are on an island distant one-and-twenty miles from the Continent ?" I replied: “We may seize a fishing-boat in the night-time and get away; we will take care to make our escape in calm weatber, and then we may easily row to the main land, or get on board the English ships which are not far distant. If they make us prisoners, we will enter into their service, and go to India. Anything will be better than leading this dismal life. We shall probably meet with some kind English commander, who, on reading our papers, will interest himself in our situation, and put us on shore on the Continent. Animated with these thoughts, we determined to risk our lives in the attempt, and lend each other every possible assistance in case of need. Having lost much time in this discussion, we rose up and resumed our march with redoubled speed. On arriving at the city, the first thing I and my companion did was to go to the house where we had deposited our trunks, and having taken out of them what money we possessed, we locked and sealed them; took a receipt for them from the person in whose custody they were left, and told him to deliver them to no one without a written order
We then went to make our purchases for the squad; and returned to our fort. In our way thither, we surveyed the isle to ascertain the most favourable point for our flight. We determined that, next day, on pretence of going to see a friend on the other side of the isle, I and my friend should go and fix on the precise spot. Having consequently asked permission of the serjeant, we set out early in the morning. It gave me much pleasure to make this tour of the island. We were delighted with the view of its beautiful and wellcultivated plains, which, had it not been for the scarcity of trees, would have presented a variety of rich landscapes; but the absence of wood was compensated by the frequency of neat houses, with their alleys kept in the most elegant order, and by the appearance of the peasantry, all respectably dressed in the saine costume, consisting of a blue jacket and pantaloons. They spoke Breton, but they were all acquainted with the French language. Several of them in the course of our tour, offered us milk, for which they would receive no payment. We had nearly finished our perambulation without having found a spot favourable for our purpose ; all the little creeks where there were fishing-boats being guarded by forts, of which the sentinels had orders from the Governor to challenge every fisherman they saw, and if they came not on being called, to fire upon them. At length we reached a retreat, in which were four fishing-boats wholly unguarded; the fort was situated a little in the rear, so that if the centinel walked to the distance of five-and-twenty paces he was out of sight. When we passed by this spot, he was not visible, and we thought that by favour of the darkness, we might hence make our escape, without being seen. Having fixed upon the bark which we would take, we went to examine if it was provided with oars, thinking, totally unused as we were to a seafaring life, that this was all that was necessary. Returning to our fort by a contrary way, that we might complete our circuit of the island, we passed through several clean-looking villages, and occasionally refreshed ourselves at the inns on the road. We inquired the circumference of the island, and were informed that it was one-and-twenty miles. The two Parisians having seen us afar off, were impatient to hear the report of our journey. After informing them of all that we had seen, it was determined that as this very evening would be favourable, the sea being calm, and the weather rather cloudy, the attempt should be made. On the pretext of taking a walk among the rocks to view the sea-forts, according to custom, we went forth, and having proceeded to some distance from the fort, we quickened our pace, and hastened to the spot where the bark Jay. At nightfall, by good fortune, the centinel was not to be seen. We descended the rocks, took up a small anchor that lay there, and began to push off the boat. As she lay high and dry, we had much trouble in getting her atioat, but in about an hour, with a great deal of effort, we got her clear out of the mud, and wet as we were, we jumped in and began to pull away, though we were none of us skilled in rowing. At this moment, the centinel walking forth, saw the boat leave the shore ; and, it not being so dark as we had expected he perceived that we were soldiers by our caps. He called to us; we gave no answer, but kept rowing desperately, though, as we could not pull together, we made but little way. The centinel having called a second time, we answered we were fishermen, and had an order from the Governor. Then, perceiving that we were getting away, he concluded that we were soldiers going to desert, (as fishermen would have brought to, on being called,) he descended to the beach and fired a shot at us, which wounded one of the Parisians in the arm, though but slightly, as it was a spent ball. Not dismayed at this, we kept on rowing, and as we could now time our oars a little better, we passed under other forts, whence we were hailed with the question, “Qui vive?” We answered : “ fishermen," and fortunately passed the forts, and got out to sea, though without knowing in what direction to steer, either for the English cruizers or for the main land, as it was now dark. We endeavoured to keep out to sea, and from the island, as much as possible. The centinel meantime made his report to the sergeant. The sergeant sent a message to the governor in the town, who ordered seven or eight boats to go in chase of the fugitives. The weather, instead of becoming cloudy, cleared up, and the moon being at full, now shone forth clearly to frustrate our enterprise. A fresh contrary wind also sprung up, and it was with much trouble that we could make any way. Our companion, though not severely hurt, lost a great deal of blood, and began to feel much pain from his exertions ; yet, though we saw every thing conspire against us, we failed not at heart, but redoubled our efforts, and having brought with us two bottles of brandy, began to drink, and pull away with renewed vigour. We heard a noise of voices behind us, but on turning could see nothing; the noise, however, grew louder, and we were not long in discovering that we were closely pursued. In fact, ten minutes afterwards, we beheld eight boats in chace of us, and heard the cry of “ Bring to, or you are dead men." Seeing that we could make no resistance, unarmed as we were, (and indeed, had it been otherwise, we were too few in number, and at the same time too much fatigued to fight at such disadvantage,) we rested on our oars ; two sailors came on board, and made us each get into a separate boat, where we were all bound, and taken back to the town of Belleisle. As soon as the boats were put about, I enquired what distance we had got from the island. They told me eight miles, and added, that we were going directly toward the English ships.
As the wind was favourable, and we carried sail, we reached the fort in a few minutes, and were taken to the citadel, where we were all four placed in a strong room, which was a wretched damp apartment, extremely distressing to men drenched to the skin as we were. We were considered as spies and deserters, who wished to join the enemy, and looked upon as doomed to certain death. We threw ourselves upon some boards, and consulted on the means of going through our examination. At daylight in the morning, we perceived that we were in a kind of vault, which adnitted only a few rays through a hole fenced with grating, that opened into an outer subterraneons apartment, better lighted than this. An hour afterwards, we heard them open the door by removing seven or eight large chains; and immediately the provost-martial presented himself, and said to us, in a rough voice: “At one o'clock you are to be examined; and after that, I think General Roland will wish to speak with you, (this was our general of brigade, a man seventy years of age,) therefore you must put on your best clothes." I begged he would do us the favour to send some soldiers to the fort to bring our knapsacks, and promised to be dressed very speedily.
(To be Continued.)
DIARY OF “A CONSTANT READER,”
FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER.
December 1st.We are beyond all dispute the most moral people in the known world, but our pepper is very bad. It appears from a trial (the King v. Sadler and Firth) in the Morning Chronicle of this day, that it is a regular trade to supply grocers with a composition of chilis, ground ginger, linsced-cake, mustard-cake, and lamp-black, which mess is mixed with the genuine pepper, according to the evidence
of an honest tradesman, in such proportion as “ conscience dictates."* The conscience of the defendants in this case had dictated ninety-six pounds of the rubbish to four pounds of pepper. No wonder that our devils are not as hot as they used to be, when Conscience makes the pepper.
Some one writes in America that Kean has been driven from England“ because he is an ardent and intemperate opposer of the government he does not love monarchy, he does not admire a church establishment.”. Poor Kean! Ve knew here that he was intemperate in his drink, not in his opposition; and that his spirits were ardent, not his politics; his love of Mrs. Cox was also supposed to have more to do with his disgrace than his no love of monarchy.
Bad news of the conflagration at Miramichi. The new world will be burnt down, and liberty is not insured.
- The Gwennappe Mining Company have had a meeting. A Mr. Cook who has acquired a sort of fame at the expense of Lord Nugent, said many remarkable things. He set out by declaring that if he possessed the eloquence of Cicero, the force of a Curran, or the poetical and beautiful style of a Phillips (!) they would not avail him on this occasion; which was, I think, a modest and appropriate exordium. He read extracts from several letters which had, he said, been sent to him confidentially, from which it appeared that the mines for which he was in treaty were an excellent bargain--that great advantages were to be derived from them and that, above all, the writer of one of the most important letters described himself as a man of the “strictest honour," and could therefore be implicitly relied upon. Shortly afterwards a considerable squabble arose, one of the directors of this mining association being roundly accused of-a bad debt of 11l.; much was said about these eleven pounds, and Mr. Cook observed, with infinite dignity, “ When once I find any man with whom I have acted, guilty of a dishonourable act, from that moment I quit his society, be he who he will." Speaking of the mining affairs, he said, with commendable caution: “ I can't say how soon a lode or a vein may be discovered, but. I think we shall have a dividend within the time stated in the prospectus.” I think so too. Lodes and veins are pot necessary to a dividend.
2d.-There is abroad a Royal bon-mot, which, strange to say, has not found its way into the newspapers. The King, on hearing some one declare that Moore had murdered Sheridan, observed: "I won't say that Mr. Moore has murdered Sheridan, but he has certainly attempted his life.”
3d.The statement of Augustus Stanhope, against whom the Marquis of Hertford lately exhibited articles of the peace, is in the Chronicle of this day. This is rather a curious affair, as it shows the
Thomas Wilkinson called in and examined by Mr. Clarke : "I am a grocer living in Tottenham Court Road; I know the defendants, they are mustard manufacturers in Guildford-street, in the Borough ; Mr. Firth and his brother came about for orders, and to them I have given orders; I was called on to give an order for imitative pepper about fourteen months ago, by the brother of one of the partners; it was called " thirds;" I gave him an order, which was executed; and he gave me instructions how to use it ; a quantity was to be ground with the genuine pepper; it was to be as conscience dictated."