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Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Battle of Waterloo; Rethinking Waterloo from Multiple Perspectives; Teaching 1815

From The European Association of History Teachers, by Francesco Scatigna

A 32- page pdf file can be downloaded from the link above.

This looks interesting (not yet read). Historical memory and 'ego-documents' - beyond the national perspective.

"Waterloo, as previously noted, was much more than a confrontation between Napoleon, Wellington, and Blucher. It was also more than a battle between German, French, British, Dutch, and Belgian troops. We are used to learn about Waterloo with a focus on our national narrative; so that French students learn about the glorious defeat, British learn about the definitive victory, Germans about the beginning of their process of unification, Dutch about the participation in the battle of the future King William II, and so on".


Thou sayest well. Thy full meridian-shine
Was in the glory of the Dresden days,
When well-nigh every monarch throned in Europe
Bent at thy footstool.


Saving always England's—
Rightly dost say “well-nigh.”—Not England's,—she
Whose tough, enisled, self-centred, kindless craft
Has tracked me, springed me, thumbed me by the throat,
And made herself the means of mangling me!

(From Hardy, The Dynasts)

See also, 'Thomas Hardy and Napoleon'

The Battle of Waterloo, Wikipedia account


"Warfare mere,
Plied by the Managed for the Managers;
To wit: by frenzied folks who profit naught
For those who profit all!"

Thomas Hardy's account of the battle, in The Dynasts, reads like a film-script:



    [The view is now from Quatre-Bras backward along the road by
    which the English arrived.  Diminishing in a straight line from
    the foreground to the centre of the distance it passes over Mont
    Saint-Jean and through Waterloo to Brussels.

    It is now tinged by a moving mass of English and Allied infantry,
    in retreat to a new position at Mont Saint-Jean.  The sun shines
    brilliantly upon the foreground as yet, but towards Waterloo and
    the Forest of Soignes on the north horizon it is overcast with
    black clouds which are steadily advancing up the sky.

    To mask the retreat the English outposts retain their position
    on the battlefield in the face of NEY'S troops, and keep up a
    desultory firing: the cavalry for the same reason remain, being
    drawn up in lines beside the intersecting Namur road.
    Enter WELLINGTON, UXBRIDGE [who is in charge of the cavalry],
    MUFFLING, VIVIAN, and others.  They look through their field-
    glasses towards Frasnes, NEY'S position since his retreat
    yesternight, and also towards NAPOLEON'S at Ligny.]

  The noonday sun, striking so strongly there,
  Makes mirrors of their arms.  That they advance
  Their glowing radiance shows.  Those gleams by Marbais
  Suggest fixed bayonets.


            Vivian's glass reveals
  That they are cuirassiers.  Ney's troops, too, near
  At last, methinks, along this other road.


  One thing is sure: that here the whole French force
  Schemes to unite and sharply follow us.
  It formulates our fence.  The cavalry
  Must linger here no longer; but recede
  To Mont Saint-Jean, as rearguard of the foot.
  From the intelligence that Gordon brings
  'Tis pretty clear old Blucher had to take
  A damned good drubbing yesterday at Ligny,
  And has been bent hard back!  So that, for us,
  Bound to the plighted plan, there is no choice
  But do like.... No doubt they'll say at home
  That we've been well thrashed too.  It can't be helped,
  They must!... [He looks round at the sky.]  A heavy rainfall
       threatens us,
  To make it all the worse!

    [The speaker and his staff ride off along the Brussels road in
    the rear of the infantry, and UXBRIDGE begins the retreat of the
    cavalry.  CAPTAIN MERCER enters with a light battery.]

  MERCER [excitedly]

            Look back, my lord;
  Is it not Bonaparte himself we see
  Upon the road I have come by?

 UXBRIDGE [looking through glass]

            Yes, by God;
  His face as clear-cut as the edge of a cloud
  The sun behind shows up!  His suite and all!
  Fire—fire!  And aim you well.

    [The battery makes ready and fires.]

            No!  It won't do.
  He brings on mounted ordnance of his Guard,
  So we're in danger here.  Then limber up,
  And off as soon as may be.

    [The English artillery and cavalry retreat at full speed, just as
    the weather bursts, with flashes of lightning and drops of rain.
    They all clatter off along the Brussels road, UXBRIDGE and his
    aides galloping beside the column; till no British are left at
    Quatre-Bras except the slain.

    The focus of the scene follows the retreating English army, the
    highway and its and margins panoramically gliding past the vision
    of the spectator.  The phantoms chant monotonously while the retreat
    goes on.]
CHORUS OF RUMOURS [aerial music]

       Day's nether hours advance; storm supervenes
       In heaviness unparalleled, that screens
       With water-woven gauzes, vapour-bred,
       The creeping clumps of half-obliterate red—
       Severely harassed past each round and ridge
       By the inimical lance.  They gain the bridge
       And village of Genappe, in equal fence
       With weather and the enemy's violence.
       —Cannon upon the foul and flooded road,
       Cavalry in the cornfields mire-bestrowed,
       With frothy horses floundering to their knees,
       Make wayfaring a moil of miseries!
       Till Britishry and Bonapartists lose
       Their clashing colours for the tawny hues
     That twilight sets on all its stealing tinct imbues.

    [The rising ground of Mont Saint-Jean, in front of Waterloo,
    is gained by the English vanguard and main masses of foot, and
    by degrees they are joined by the cavalry and artillery.  The
    French are but little later in taking up their position amid
    the cornfields around La Belle Alliance.

    Fires begin to shine up from the English bivouacs.  Camp kettles
    are slung, and the men pile arms and stand round the blaze to dry
    themselves.  The French opposite lie down like dead men in the
    dripping green wheat and rye, without supper and without fire.

    By and by the English army also lies down, the men huddling
    together on the ploughed mud in their wet blankets, while some
    sleep sitting round the dying fires.]

  CHORUS OF THE YEARS [aerial music]

       The eyelids of eve fall together at last,
       And the forms so foreign to field and tree
       Lie down as though native, and slumber fast!


       Sore are the thrills of misgiving we see
       In the artless champaign at this harlequinade,
       Distracting a vigil where calm should be!

       The green seems opprest, and the Plain afraid
       Of a Something to come, whereof these are the proofs,—
       Neither earthquake, nor storm, nor eclipses's shade!


       Yea, the coneys are scared by the thud of hoofs,
       And their white scuts flash at their vanishing heels,
       And swallows abandon the hamlet-roofs.

       The mole's tunnelled chambers are crushed by wheels,
       The lark's eggs scattered, their owners fled;
       And the hedgehog's household the sapper unseals.

       The snail draws in at the terrible tread,
       But in vain; he is crushed by the felloe-rim
       The worm asks what can be overhead,

       And wriggles deep from a scene so grim,
       And guesses him safe; for he does not know
       What a foul red flood will be soaking him!

       Beaten about by the heel and toe
       Are butterflies, sick of the day's long rheum,
       To die of a worse than the weather-foe.

       Trodden and bruised to a miry tomb
       Are ears that have greened but will never be gold,
       And flowers in the bud that will never bloom.

       So the season's intent, ere its fruit unfold,
       Is frustrate, and mangled, and made succumb,
       Like a youth of promise struck stark and cold!...

       And what of these who to-night have come?

       The young sleep sound; but the weather awakes
       In the veterans, pains from the past that numb;

       Old stabs of Ind, old Peninsular aches,
       Old Friedland chills, haunt their moist mud bed,
       Cramps from Austerlitz; till their slumber breaks.

       And each soul shivers as sinks his head
       On the loam he's to lease with the other dead
       From to-morrow's mist-fall till Time be sped!

    [The fires of the English go out, and silence prevails, save
    for the soft hiss of the rain that falls impartially on both
    the sleeping armies.]




    [An aerial view of the battlefield at the time of sunrise is

    The sky is still overcast, and rain still falls.  A green
    expanse, almost unbroken, of rye, wheat, and clover, in oblong
    and irregular patches undivided by fences, covers the undulating
    ground, which sinks into a shallow valley between the French and
    English positions.  The road from Brussels to Charleroi runs like
    a spit through both positions, passing at the back of the English
    into the leafy forest of Soignes.

    The latter are turning out from their bivouacs.  They move stiffly
    from their wet rest, and hurry to and fro like ants in an ant-hill.
    The tens of thousands of moving specks are largely of a brick-red
    colour, but the foreign contingent is darker.

    Breakfasts are cooked over smoky fires of green wood.  Innumerable
    groups, many in their shirt-sleeves, clean their rusty firelocks,
    drawing or exploding the charges, scrape the mud from themselves,
    and pipeclay from their cross-belts the red dye washed off their
    jackets by the rain.

    At six o'clock, they parade, spread out, and take up their positions
    in the line of battle, the front of which extends in a wavy riband
    three miles long, with three projecting bunches at Hougomont, La
    Haye Sainte, and La Haye.

    Looking across to the French positions we observe that after
    advancing in dark streams from where they have passed the night
    they, too, deploy and wheel into their fighting places—figures
    with red epaulettes and hairy knapsacks, their arms glittering
    like a display of cutlery at a hill-side fair.

    They assume three concentric lines of crescent shape, that converge
    on the English midst, with great blocks of the Imperial Guard at
    the back of them.  The rattle of their drums, their fanfarades,
    and their bands playing “Veillons au salut de l'Empire” contrast
    with the quiet reigning on the English side.

    A knot of figures, comprising WELLINGTON with a suite of general
    and other staff-officers, ride backwards and forwards in front
    of the English lines, where each regimental colour floats in the
    hands of the junior ensign.  The DUKE himself, now a man of forty-
    six, is on his bay charger Copenhagen, in light pantaloons, a
    small plumeless hat, and a blue cloak, which shows its white
    lining when blown back.

    On the French side, too, a detached group creeps along the front
    in preliminary survey.  BONAPARTE—also forty-six—in a grey
    overcoat, is mounted on his white arab Marengo, and accompanied
    by SOULT, NEY, JEROME, DROUOT, and other marshals.  The figures
    of aides move to and fro like shuttle-cocks between the group
    and distant points in the field.  The sun has begun to gleam.]


       Discriminate these, and what they are,
       Who stand so stalwartly to war.


       Report, ye Rumourers of things near and far.

       Sweep first the Frenchmen's leftward lines along,
       And eye the peaceful panes of Hougomont—
       That seemed to hold prescriptive right of peace
       In fee from Time till Time itself should cease!—
       Jarred now by Reille's fierce foot-divisions three,
       Flanked on their left by Pire's cavalry.—
       The fourfold corps of d'Erlon, spread at length,
       Compose the right, east of the famed chaussee—
       The shelterless Charleroi-and-Brussels way,—
       And Jacquinot's alert light-steeded strength
       Still further right, their sharpened swords display.
       Thus stands the first line.

                 Next behind its back
       Comes Count Lobau, left of the Brussels track;
       Then Domon's horse, the horse of Subervie;
       Kellermann's cuirassed troopers twinkle-tipt,
       And, backing d'Erlon, Milhaud's horse, equipt
       Likewise in burnished steelwork sunshine-dipt:
       So ranks the second line refulgently.

       The third and last embattlement reveals
       D'Erlon's, Lobau's, and Reille's foot-cannoniers,
       And horse-drawn ordnance too, on massy wheels,
       To strike with cavalry where space appears.

       The English front, to left, as flanking force,
       Has Vandeleur's hussars, and Vivian's horse;
       Next them pace Picton's rows along the crest;
       The Hanoverian foot-folk; Wincke; Best;
       Bylandt's brigade, set forward fencelessly,
       Pack's northern clansmen, Kempt's tough infantry,
       With gaiter, epaulet, spat, and {philibeg};
       While Halkett, Ompteda, and Kielmansegge
       Prolong the musters, near whose forward edge
       Baring invests the Farm of Holy Hedge.

       Maitland and Byng in Cooke's division range,
       And round dun Hougomont's old lichened sides
       A dense array of watching Guardsmen hides
       Amid the peaceful produce of the grange,
       Whose new-kerned apples, hairy gooseberries green,
       And mint, and thyme, the ranks intrude between.—
       Last, westward of the road that finds Nivelles,
       Duplat draws up, and Adam parallel.

       The second British line—embattled horse—
       Holds the reverse slopes, screened, in ordered course;
       Dornberg's, and Arentsschildt's, and Colquhoun-Grant's,
       And left of them, behind where Alten plants
       His regiments, come the “Household” Cavalry;
       And nigh, in Picton's rear, the trumpets call
       The “Union” brigade of Ponsonby.
       Behind these the reserves.  In front of all,
       Or interspaced, with slow-matched gunners manned,
       Upthroated rows of threatful ordnance stand.

    [The clock of Nivelles convent church strikes eleven in the
    distance.  Shortly after, coils of starch-blue smoke burst into
    being along the French lines, and the English batteries respond
    promptly, in an ominous roar that can be heard at Antwerp.

    A column from the French left, six thousand strong, advances on
    the plantation in front of the chateau of Hougomont.  They are
    played upon by the English ordnance; but they enter the wood,
    and dislodge some battalions there.  The French approach the
    buildings, but are stopped by a loop-holed wall with a mass of
    English guards behind it.  A deadly fire bursts from these through
    the loops and over the summit.

    NAPOLEON orders a battery of howitzers to play upon the building.
    Flames soon burst from it; but the foot-guards still hold the



    [On a hillock near the farm of Rossomme a small table from the
    farmhouse has been placed; maps are spread thereon, and a chair
    is beside it.  NAPOLEON, SOULT, and other marshals are standing
    round, their horses waiting at the base of the slope.

    NAPOLEON looks through his glass at Hougomont.  His elevated face
    makes itself distinct in the morning light as a gloomy resentful
    countenance, blue-black where shaven, and stained with snuff, with
    powderings of the same on the breast of his uniform.  His stumpy
    figure, being just now thrown back, accentuates his stoutness.]


  Let Reille be warned that these his surly sets
  On Hougomont chateau, can scarce defray
  Their mounting bill of blood.  They do not touch
  The core of my intent—to pierce and roll
  The centre upon the right of those opposed.
  Thereon will turn the outcome of the day,
  In which our odds are ninety to their ten!

  Yes—prove there time and promptitude enough
  To call back Grouchy here.  Of his approach
  I see no sign.

  NAPOLEON [roughly]

            Hours past he was bid come.
  —But naught imports it!  We are enough without him.
  You have been beaten by this Wellington,
  And so you think him great.  But let me teach you
  Wellington is no foe to reckon with.
  His army, too, is poor.  This clash to-day
  Is more serious for our seasoned files
  Than breakfasting.

       Such is my earnest hope.


  Observe that Wellington still labours on,
  Stoutening his right behind Gomont chateau,
  But leaves his left and centre as before—
  Weaker, if anything.  He plays our game!

    [WELLINGTON can, in fact, be seen detaching from his main line
    several companies of Guards to check the aims of the French on

  Let me re-word my tactics.  Ney leads off
  By seizing Mont Saint-Jean.  Then d'Erlon stirs,
  And heaves up his division from the left.
  The second corps will move abreast of him
  The sappers nearing to entrench themselves
  Within the aforesaid farm.

    [Enter an aide-de-camp.]

            From Marshal Ney,
  Sire, I bring hasty word that all is poised
  To strike the vital stroke, and only waits
  Your Majesty's command,

            Which he shall have
  When I have scanned the hills for Grouchy's helms.

    [NAPOLEON turns his glass to an upland four or five miles off on
    the right, known as St. Lambert's Chapel Hill.  Gazing more and
    more intently, he takes rapid pinches of snuff in excitement.
    NEY'S columns meanwhile standing for the word to advance, eighty
    guns being ranged in front of La Belle Alliance in support of them.]

  I see a darkly crawling, slug-like shape
  Embodying far out there,—troops seemingly—
  Grouchy's van-guard.  What think you?
SOULT [also examining closely]

            Verily troops;
  And, maybe, Grouchy's.  But the air is hazed.

  If troops at all, they are Grouchy's.  Why misgive,
  And force on ills you fear!

            It seems a wood.
  Trees don bold outlines in their new-leafed pride.

  It is the creeping shadow from a cloud.


  It is a mass of stationary foot;
  I can descry piled arms.

    [NAPOLEON  sends off the order for NEY'S attack—the grand assault
    on the English midst, including the farm of La Haye Sainte.  It
    opens with a half-hour's thunderous discharge of artillery, which
    ceases at length to let d'Erlon's infantry pass.

    Four huge columns of these, shouting defiantly, push forwards in
    face of the reciprocal fire from the cannon of the English.  Their
    effrontery carries them so near the Anglo-Allied lines that the
    latter waver.  But PICTON brings up PACK'S brigade, before which
    the French in turn recede, though they make an attempt in La Haye
    Sainte, whence BARING'S Germans pour a resolute fire.

    WELLINGTON, who is seen afar as one of a group standing by a
    great elm, orders OMPTEDA to send assistance to BARING, as may
    be gathered from the darting of aides to and fro between the
    points, like house-flies dancing their quadrilles.

    East of the great highway the right columns of D'ERLON'S corps
    have climbed the slopes.  BYLANDT'S sorely exposed Dutch are
    broken, and in their flight disorder the ranks of the English
    Twenty-eighth, the Carabineers of the Ninety-fifth being also
    dislodged from the sand-pit they occupied.]

  All prospers marvellously!  Gomont is hemmed;
  La Haye Sainte too; their centre jeopardized;
  Travers and d'Erlon dominate the crest,
  And further strength of foot is following close.
  Their troops are raw; the flower of England's force
  That fought in Spain, America now holds.—

    [SIR TOMAS PICTON, seeing what is happening orders KEMPT'S
    brigade forward.  It volleys murderously DONZELOT'S columns
    of D'ERLON'S corps, and repulses them.  As they recede PICTON
    is beheld shouting an order to charge.]

       I catch a voice that cautions Picton now
       Against his rashness.  “What the hell care I,—
       Is my curst carcase worth a moment's mind?—
       Come on!” he answers.  Onwardly he goes!

    [His tall, stern, saturnine figure with its bronzed complexion is
    on nearer approach discerned heading the charge.  As he advances
    to the slope between the cross-roads and the sand-pit, riding very
    conspicuously, he falls dead, a bullet in his forehead.  His aide,
    assisted by a soldier, drags the body beneath a tree and hastens
    on.  KEMPT takes his command.

    Next MARCOGNET is repulsed by PACK'S brigade.  D'ERLON'S infantry
    and TRAVERS'S cuirassiers are charged by the Union Brigade of
    Scotch Greys, Royal Dragoons, and Inniskillens, and cut down
    everywhere, the brigade following them so furiously the LORD
    UXBRIDGE tries in vain to recall it.  On its coming near the
    French it is overwhelmed by MILHAUD'S cuirassiers, scarcely a
    fifth of the brigade returning.

    An aide enters to NAPOLEON from GENERAL DOMON.]

  The General, on a far reconnaissance,
  Says, sire, there is no room for longer doubt
  That those debouching on St. Lambert's Hill
  Are Prussian files.


       Then where is General Grouchy?

    [Enter COLONEL MARBOT with a prisoner.]

  Aha—a Prussian, too!  How comes he here?

  Sire, my hussars have captured him near Lasnes—
  A subaltern of the Silesian Horse.
  A note from Bulow to Lord Wellington,
  Announcing that a Prussian corps is close,
  Was found on him.  He speaks our language, sire.
NAPOLEON [to prisoner]

  What force looms yonder on St. Lambert's Hill?

  General Count Bulow's van, your Majesty.

    [A thoughtful scowl crosses NAPOLEONS'S sallow face.]

  Where, then, did your main army lie last night?


  At Wavre.

       But clashed it with no Frenchmen there?


  With none.  We deemed they had marched on Plancenoit.
 NAPOLEON [shortly]

  Take him away.  [The prisoner is removed.]  Has Grouchy's whereabouts
  Been sought, to apprize him of this Prussian trend?

  Certainly, sire.  I sent a messenger.
 NAPOLEON [bitterly]

  A messenger!  Had my poor Berthier been here
  Six would have insufficed!  Now then: seek Ney;
  Bid him to sling the valour of his braves
  Fiercely on England ere Count Bulow come;
  And advertize the succours on the hill
  As Grouchy's.  [Aside]  This is my one battle-chance;
  The Allies have many such!  [To SOULT]  If Bulow nears,
  He cannot join in time to share the fight.
  And if he could, 'tis but a corps the more....
  This morning we had ninety chances ours,
  We have threescore still.  If Grouchy but retrieve
  His fault of absence, conquest comes with eve!

    [The scene shifts.]


    [A hill half-way between Wavre and the fields of Waterloo, five
    miles to the north-east of the scene preceding.  The hill is
    wooded, with some open land around.  To the left of the scene,
    towards Waterloo, is a valley.]

  Marching columns in Prussian uniforms, coming from the direction of
  Wavre, debouch upon the hill from the road through the wood.

  They are the advance-guard and two brigades of Bulow's corps, that
  have been joined there by BLUCHER.  The latter has just risen from
  the bed to which he has been confined since the battle of Ligny,
  two days back.  He still looks pale and shaken by the severe fall
  and trampling he endured near the end of the action.

  On the summit the troops halt, and a discussion between BLUCHER and
  his staff ensues.

  The cannonade in the direction of Waterloo is growing more and more
  violent.  BLUCHER, after looking this way and that, decides to fall
  upon the French right at Plancenoit as soon as he can get there,
  which will not be yet.

  Between this point and that the ground descends steeply to the
  valley on the spectator's left, where there is a mud-bottomed
  stream, the Lasne; the slope ascends no less abruptly on the other
  side towards Plancenoit.  It is across this defile alone that the
  Prussian army can proceed thither- a route of unusual difficulty
  for artillery; where, moreover, the enemy is suspected of having
  placed a strong outpost during the night to intercept such an

  A figure goes forward—that of MAJOR FALKENHAUSEN, who is sent to
  reconnoitre, and they wait a tedious time, the firing at Waterloo
  growing more tremendous.  FALKENHAUSEN comes back with the welcome
  news that no outpost is there.

  There now remains only the difficulty of the defile itself; and the
  attempt is made.  BLUCHER is descried riding hither and thither as
  the guns drag heavily down the slope into the muddy bottom of the
  valley.  Here the wheels get stuck, and the men already tired by
  marching since five in the morning, seem inclined to leave the guns
  where they are.  But the thunder from Waterloo still goes on, BLUCHER
  exhorts his men by words and eager gestures, and they do at length
  get the guns across, though with much loss of time.

  The advance-guard now reaches some thick trees called the Wood of
  Paris.  It is followed by the LOSTHIN and HILLER divisions of foot,
  and in due course by the remainder of the two brigades.  Here they
  halt, and await the arrival of the main body of BULOW'S corps, and
  the third corps under THIELEMANN.

  The scene shifts.


    [WELLINGTON, on Copenhagen, is again under the elm-tree behind La
    Haye Sainte.  Both horse and rider are covered with mud-splashes,
    but the weather having grown finer the DUKE has taken off his cloak.

    HERVEY, GORDON, and other of his staff officers and aides are
    near him; there being also present GENERALS MUFFLING, HUGEL, and
    ALAVA; also TYLER, PICTON'S aide.  The roar of battle continues.]


  I am grieved at losing Picton; more than grieved.
  He was as grim a devil as ever lived,
  And roughish-mouthed withal.  But never a man
  More stout in fight, more stoical in blame!

  Before he left for this campaign he said,
  “When you shall hear of MY death, mark my words,
  You'll hear of a bloody day!” and, on my soul,
  'Tis true.

    [Enter another aide-de-camp.]

  Sir William Ponsonby, my lords, has fallen.
  His horse got mud-stuck in a new-plowed plot,
  Lancers surrounded him and bore him down,
  And six then ran him through.  The occasion sprung
  Mainly from the Brigade's too reckless rush,
  Sheer to the French front line.
 WELLINGTON [gravely]

            Ah—so it comes!
  The Greys were bound to pay—'tis always so—
  Full dearly for their dash so far afield.
  Valour unballasted but lands its freight
  On the enemy's shore.—What has become of Hill?

  We have not seen him latterly, your Grace.

  By God, I hope I haven't lost him, too?
  BRIDGMAN [just come up]

  Lord Hill's bay charger, being shot dead, your Grace,
  Rolled over him in falling.  He is bruised,
  But hopes to be in place again betimes.

  Praise Fate for thinking better of that frown!

    [It is now nearing four o'clock.  La Haye Sainte is devastated by
    the second attack of NEY.  The farm has been enveloped by DONZELOT'S
    division, its garrison, the King's German Legion, having fought
    till all ammunition was exhausted.  The gates are forced open, and
    in the retreat of the late defenders to the main Allied line they
    are nearly all cut or shot down.]

       O Farm of sad vicissitudes and strange!
       Farm of the Holy Hedge, yet fool of change!
       Whence lit so sanct a name on thy now violate grange?
  WELLINGTON [to Muffling, resolutely]

  Despite their fierce advantage here, I swear
  By every God that war can call upon
  To hold our present place at any cost,
  Until your force cooperate with our lines!
  To that I stand; although 'tis bruited now
  That Bulow's corps has only reached Ohain.
  I've sent Freemantle hence to seek them there,
  And give them inkling we shall need them soon.
  MUFFLING [looking at his watch]

  I had hoped that Blucher would be here ere this.

    [The staff turn their glasses on the French position.]

  What movement can it be they contemplate?

  A shock of cavalry on the hottest scale,
  It seems to me.... [To aide] Bid him to reinforce
  The front line with some second-line brigades;
  Some, too, from the reserve.

    [The Brunswickers advance to support MAITLAND'S Guards, and the
    MITCHELL and ADAM Brigades establish themselves above Hougomont,
    which is still in flames.

    NEY, in continuation of the plan of throwing his whole force
    on the British centre before the advent of the Prussians, now
    intensifies his onslaught with the cavalry.  Terrific discharges
    of artillery initiate it to clear the ground.  A heavy round-
    shot dashes through the tree over the heads of WELLINGTON and
    his generals, and boughs and leaves come flying down on them.]

  Good practice that!  I vow they did not fire
  So dexterously in Spain.  [He calls up an aide.]  Bid Ompteda
  Direct the infantry to lie tight down
  On the reverse ridge-slope, to screen themselves
  While these close shots and shells are teasing us;
  When the charge comes they'll cease.

    [The order is carried out.  NEY'S cavalry attack now matures.
    MILHAUD'S cuirassiers in twenty-four squadrons advance down the
    opposite decline, followed and supported by seven squadrons of
    chasseurs under DESNOETTES.  They disappear for a minute in the
    hollow between the armies.]

  Ah—now we have got their long-brewed plot explained!
  WELLINGTON [nodding]

  That this was rigged for some picked time to-day
  I had inferred.  But that it would be risked
  Sheer on our lines, while still they stand unswayed,
  In conscious battle-trim, I reckoned not.
  It looks a madman's cruel enterprise!

  We have just heard that Ney embarked on it
  Without an order, ere its aptness riped.

  It may be so: he's rash.  And yet I doubt.
  I know Napoleon.  If the onset fail
  It will be Ney's; if it succeed he'll claim it!

    [A dull reverberation of the tread of innumerable hoofs comes
    from behind the hill, and the foremost troops rise into view.]

       Behold the gorgeous coming of those horse,
       Accoutered in kaleidoscopic hues
       That would persuade us war has beauty in it!—
       Discern the troopers' mien; each with the air
       Of one who is himself a tragedy:
       The cuirassiers, steeled, mirroring the day;
       Red lancers, green chasseurs: behind the blue
       The red; the red before the green:
       A lingering-on till late in Christendom,
       Of the barbaric trick to terrorize
       The foe by aspect!

    [WELLINGTON directs his glass to an officer in a rich uniform
    with many decorations on his breast, who rides near the front
    of the approaching squadrons.  The DUKE'S face expresses

  It's Marshal Ney himself who heads the charge.
  The finest cavalry commander, he,
  That wears a foreign plume; ay, probably
  The whole world through!

                 And when that matchless chief
       Sentenced shall lie to ignominious death
       But technically deserved, no finger he
       Who speaks will lift to save him.!

                 To his shame.
       We must discount war's generous impulses
       I sadly see.

                 Be mute, and let spin on
       This whirlwind of the Will!

    [As NEY'S cavalry ascends the English position the swish of the
    horses' breasts through the standing corn can be heard, and the
    reverberation of hoofs increases in strength.  The English gunners
    stand with their portfires ready, which are seen glowing luridly
    in the daylight.  There is comparative silence.]

  Now, captains, are you loaded?

       Yes, my lord.

  Point carefully, and wait till their whole height
  Shows above the ridge.

    [When the squadrons rise in full view, within sixty yards of the
    cannon-mouths, the batteries fire, with a concussion that shakes
    the hill itself.  Their shot punch holes through the front ranks
    of the cuirassiers, and horse and riders fall in heaps.  But they
    are not stopped, hardly checked, galloping up to the mouths of the
    guns, passing between the pieces, and plunging among the Allied
    infantry behind the ridge, who, with the advance of the horsemen,
    have sprung up from their prone position and formed into squares.]

       Ney guides the fore-front of the carabineers
       Through charge and charge, with rapid recklessness.
       Horses, cuirasses, sabres, helmets, men,
       Impinge confusedly on the pointed prongs
       Of the English kneeling there, whose dim red shapes
       Behind their slanted steel seem trampled flat
       And sworded to the sward.  The charge recedes,
       And lo, the tough lines rank there as before,
       Save that they are shrunken.

                 Hero of heroes, too,
       Ney, [not forgetting those who gird against him].—
       Simple and single-souled lieutenant he;
       Why should men's many-valued motions take
       So barbarous a groove!

    [The cuirassiers and lancers surge round the English and Allied
    squares like waves, striking furiously on them and well-nigh
    breaking them.  They stand in dogged silence amid the French
  WELLINGTON [to the nearest square]

  Hard pounding this, my men!  I truly trust
  You'll pound the longest!

  MUFFLING [again referring to his watch]

  However firmly they may stand, in faith,
  Their firmness must have bounds to it, because
  There are bounds to human strength!... Your, Grace,
  To leftward now, to spirit Zieten on.

  Good.  It is time!  I think he well be late,
  However, in the field.

    [MUFFLING goes.  Enter an aide, breathless.]

  Your Grace, the Ninety-fifth are patience-spent
  With standing under fire so passing long.
  They writhe to charge—or anything but stand!

  Not yet.  They shall have at 'em later on.
  At present keep them firm.

    [Exit aide.  The Allied squares stand like little red-brick castles,
    independent of each other, and motionless except at the dry hurried
    command “Close up!” repeated every now and then as they are slowly
    thinned. On the other hand, under their firing and bayonets a
    disorder becomes apparent among the charging horse, on whose
    cuirasses the bullets snap like stones on window-panes.  At this
    the Allied cavalry waiting in the rear advance; and by degrees they
    deliver the squares from their enemies, who are withdrawn to their
    own position to prepare for a still more strenuous assault.  The
    point of view shifts.]


    [On the sheltered side of a clump of trees at the back of the
    English position camp-fires are smouldering.  Soldiers' wives,
    mistresses, and children from a few months to five or six years
    of age, sit on the ground round the fires or on armfuls of straw
    from the adjoining farm.  Wounded soldiers lie near the women.
    The wind occasionally brings the smoke and smell of battle into
    the encampment, the noise being continuous.  Two waggons stand
    near; also a surgeon's horse in charge of a batman, laden with
    bone-saws, knives, probes, tweezers, and other surgical instruments.
    Behind lies a woman who has just given birth to a child, which a
    second woman is holding.

    Many of the other women are shredding lint, the elder children
    assisting.  Some are dressing the slighter wounds of the soldiers
    who have come in here instead of going further.  Along the road
    near is a continual procession of bearers of wounded men to the
    rear.  The occupants of the camp take hardly any notice of the
    thundering of the cannon.  A camp-follower is playing a fiddle
    near.  Another woman enters.]

  There's no sign of my husband any longer.  His battalion is half-a-
  mile from where it was.  He looked back as they wheeled off towards
  the fighting-line, as much as to say, “Nancy, if I don't see 'ee
  again, this is good-bye, my dear.”  Yes, poor man!... Not but
  what 'a had a temper at times!

  I'm out of all that.  My husband—as I used to call him for form's
  sake—is quiet enough.  He was wownded at Quarter-Brass the day
  before yesterday, and died the same night.  But I didn't know it
  till I got here, and then says I, “Widder or no widder, I mean to
  see this out.”

    [A sergeant staggers in with blood dropping from his face.]

  Damned if I think you will see it out, mis'ess, for if I don't
  mistake there'll be a retreat of the whole army on Brussels soon.
  We can't stand much longer!—For the love of God, have ye got a
  cup of water, if nothing stronger?  [They hand a cup.]
  THIRD WOMAN [entering and sinking down]

  The Lord send that I may never see again what I've been seeing while
  looking for my poor galliant Joe!  The surgeon asked me to lend a
  hand; and 'twas worse than opening innerds at a pig-killing!  [She
  FOURTH WOMAN [to a little girl]

  Never mind her, my dear; come and help me with this one.  [She goes
  with the girl to a soldier in red with buff facings who lies some
  distance off.]  Ah—'tis no good.  He's gone.

  No, mother.  His eyes are wide open, a-staring to get a sight of
  the battle!

  That's nothing.  Lots of dead ones stare in that silly way.  It
  depends upon where they were hit.  I was all through the Peninsula;
  that's how I know.  [She covers the horny gaze of the man.  Shouts
  and louder discharges are heard.]—Heaven's high tower, what's that?
    [Enter an officer's servant.[24]]

  Waiting with the major's spare hoss—up to my knees in mud from
  the rain that had come down like baccy-pipe stems all the night
  and morning—I have just seen a charge never beholded since the
  days of the Amalekites!  The squares still stand, but Ney's cavalry
  have made another attack.  Their swords are streaming with blood,
  and their horses' hoofs squash out our poor fellow's bowels as they
  lie.  A ball has sunk in Sir Thomas Picton's forehead and killed him
  like Goliath the Philistine.  I don't see what's to stop the French.
  Well, it's the Lord's doing and marvellous in our eyes.  Hullo,
  who's he?  [They look towards the road.]  A fine hale old gentleman,
  isn't he?  What business has a man of that sort here?

    [Enter, on the highway near, the DUKE OF RICHMOND in plain clothes,
    on horseback, accompanied by two youths, his sons.  They draw
    rein on an eminence, and gaze towards the battlefields.]
  RICHMOND [to son]

  Everything looks as bad as possible just now.  I wonder where your
  brother is?  However, we can't go any nearer.... Yes, the bat-
  horses are already being moved off, and there are more and more
  fugitives.  A ghastly finish to your mother's ball, by Gad if it

    [They turn their horses towards Brussels.  Enter, meeting them,
    MR. LEGH, a Wessex gentleman, also come out to view the battle.]

  Can you tell me, sir, how the battle is going?

  Badly, badly, I fear, sir.  There will be a retreat soon, seemingly.

  Indeed!  Yes, a crowd of fugitives are coming over the hill even now.
  What will these poor women do?

  God knows!  They will be ridden over, I suppose.  Though it is
  extraordinary how they do contrive to escape destruction while
  hanging so close to the rear of an action!  They are moving,
  however.  Well, we will move too.

    [Exeunt DUKE OF RICHMOND, sons, and MR. LEGH.  The point of view


    [NEY'S charge of cavalry against the opposite upland has been
    three times renewed without success.  He collects the scattered
    squadrons to renew it a fourth time.  The glittering host again
    ascends the confronting slopes over the bodies of those previously
    left there, and amid horses wandering about without riders, or
    crying as they lie with entrails trailing or limbs broken.]

  NAPOLEON [starting up]

  A horrible dream has gripped me—horrible!
  I saw before me Lannes—just as he looked
  That day at Aspern: mutilated, bleeding!
  “What—blood again?” he said to me.  “Still blood?”

    [He further arouses himself, takes snuff vehemently, and looks
    through his glass.]

  What time is it?—Ah, these assaults of Ney's!
  They are a blunder; they've been enterprised
  An hour too early!... There Lheritier goes
  Onward with his division next Milhaud;
  Now Kellermann must follow up with his.
  So one mistake makes many.  Yes; ay; yes!

  I fear that Ney has compromised us here
  Just as at Jena; even worse!

            No less
  Must we support him now he is launched on it....
  The miracle is that he is still alive!

    [NEY and his mass of cavalry again pass the English batteries
    and disappear amid the squares beyond.]

  Their cannon are abandoned; and their squares
  Again environed—see!  I would to God
  Murat could be here!  Yet I disdained
  His proffered service.... All my star asks now
  Is to break some half-dozen of those blocks
  Of English yonder.  He was the man to do it.

    [NEY and D'ERLON'S squadrons are seen emerging from the English
    squares in a disorganized state, the attack having failed like
    the previous ones.  An aide-de-camp enters to NAPOLEON.]

  The Prussians have debouched on our right rear
  From Paris-wood; and Losthin's infantry
  Appear by Plancenoit; Hiller's to leftwards.
  Two regiments of their horse protect their front,
  And three light batteries.

    [A haggard shade crosses NAPOLEON'S face.]

  What then!  That's not a startling force as yet.
  A counter-stroke by Domon's cavalry
  Must shatter them.  Lobau must bring his foot
  Up forward, heading for the Prussian front,
  Unrecking losses by their cannonade.

    [Exit aide.  The din of battle continues.  DOMON'S horse are soon
    seen advancing towards and attacking the Prussian hussars in front
    of the infantry; and he next attempts to silence the Prussian
    batteries playing on him by leading up his troops and cutting
    down the gunners.  But he has to fall back upon the infantry
    of LOBAU.  Enter another aide-de-camp.]

  These tiding I report, your Majesty:—
  Von Ryssel's and von Hacke's Prussian foot
  Have lately sallied from the Wood of Paris,
  Bearing on us; no vast array as yet;
  But twenty thousand loom not far behind
  These vanward marchers!

            Ah!  They swarm thus thickly?
  But be they hell's own legions we'll defy them!—
  Lobau's men will stand firm.

    [He looks in the direction of the English lines, where NEY'S
    cavalry-assaults still linger furiously on.]

            But who rides hither,
  Spotting the sky with clods in his high haste?

  It looks like Colonel Heymes—come from Ney.
  NAPOLEON [sullenly]

  And his face shows what clef his music's in!

    [Enter COLONEL HEYMES, blood-stained, muddy, and breathless.]

  The Prince of Moscow, sire, the Marshal Ney,
  Bids me implore that infantry be sent
  Immediately, to further his attack.
  They cannot be dispensed with, save we fail!
  NAPOLEON [furiously]

  Infantry!  Where the sacred God thinks he
  I can find infantry for him!  Forsooth,
  Does he expect me to create them—eh?
  Why sends he such a message, seeing well
  How we are straitened here!

            Such was the prayer
  Of my commission, sire.  And I say
  That I myself have seen his strokes must waste
  Without such backing.


            Our cavalry
  Lie stretched in swathes, fronting the furnace-throats
  Of the English cannon as a breastwork built
  Of reeking copses.  Marshal Ney's third horse
  Is shot.  Besides the slain, Donop, Guyot,
  Lheritier, Piquet, Travers, Delort, more,
  Are vilely wounded.  On the other hand
  Wellington has sought refuge in a square,
  Few of his generals are not killed or hit,
  And all is tickle with him.  But I see,
  Likewise, that I can claim no reinforcement,
  And will return and say so.

    [Exit HEYMES]
  NAPOLEON [to Soult, sadly]

            Ney does win me!
  I fain would strengthen him.—Within an ace
  Of breaking down the English as he is,
  'Twould write upon the sunset “Victory!”—
  But whom may spare we from the right here now?
  So single man!

    [An interval.]

            Life's curse begins, I see,
  With helplessness!... All I can compass is
  To send Durutte to fall on Papelotte,
  And yet more strongly occupy La Haye,
  To cut off Bulow's right from bearing up
  And checking Ney's attack.  Further than this
  None but the Gods can scheme!

    [SOULT hastily begins writing orders to that effect.  The point
    of view shifts.]


    [The din of battle continues.  WELLINGTON, UXBRIDGE, HILL, DE
    LANCEY, GORDON, and others discovered near the middle of the line.]

       It is a moment when the steadiest pulse
       Thuds pit-a-pat.  The crisis shapes and nears
       For Wellington as for his counter-chief.

       The hour is shaking him, unshakeable
       As he may seem!

                 Know'st not at this stale time
       That shaken and unshaken are alike
       But demonstrations from the Back of Things?
       Must I again reveal It as It hauls
       The halyards of the world?

    [A transparency as in earlier scenes again pervades the spectacle,
    and the ubiquitous urging of the Immanent Will becomes visualized.
    The web connecting all the apparently separate shapes includes
    WELLINGTON in its tissue with the rest, and shows him, like them,
    as acting while discovering his intention to act.  By the lurid
    light the faces of every row, square, group, and column of men,
    French and English, wear the expression of that of people in a
  SPIRIT OF THE PITIES [tremulously]

                 Yea, sire; I see.
       Disquiet me, pray, no more!

    [The strange light passes, and the embattled hosts on the field
    seem to move independently as usual.]
  WELLINGTON [to Uxbridge]

  Manoeuvring does not seem to animate
  Napoleon's methods now.  Forward he comes,
  And pounds away on us in the ancient style,
  Till he is beaten back in the ancient style;
  And so the see-saw sways!

    [The din increases.  WELLINGTON'S aide-de-camp, Sir A. GORDON,
    a little in his rear, falls mortally wounded.  The DUKE turns

            But where is Gordon?
  Ah—hit is he!  That's bad, that's bad, by God.

    [GORDON is removed.  An aide enters.]

  Your Grace, the Colonel Ompteda has fallen,
  And La Haye Sainte is now a bath of blood.
  Nothing more can be done there, save with help.
  The Rifles suffer sharply!

    [An aide is seen coming from KEMPT.]

       What says he?

  He says that Kempt, being riddled through and thinned,
  Sends him for reinforcements.
  WELLINGTON [with heat]

  And where am I to get him reinforcements
  In Heaven's name!  I've  no reinforcements here,
  As he should know.
  AIDE [hesitating]

       What's to be done, your Grace?

  Done?  Those he has left him, be they many or few,
  Fight till they fall, like others in the field!

    [Exit aide.  The Quartermaster-General DE LANCEY, riding by
    WELLINGTON, is struck by a lobbing shot that hurls him over
    the head of his horse.  WELLINGTON and others go to him.]
  DE LANCEY [faintly]

  I may as well be left to die in peace!

  He may recover.  Take him to the rear,
  And call the best attention up to him.

    [DE LANCEY is carried off.  The next moment a shell bursts close
  HILL [approaching]

  I strongly feel you stand too much exposed!

  I know, I know.  It matters not one damn!
  I may as well be shot as not perceive
  What ills are raging here.

            Conceding such,
  And as you may be ended momently,
  A truth there is no blinking, what commands
  Have you to leave me, should fate shape it so?

  These simply: to hold out unto the last,
  As long as one man stands on one lame leg
  With one ball in his pouch!—then end as I.

    [He rides on slowly with the others.  NEY'S charges, though
    fruitless so far, are still fierce.  His troops are now reduced
    to one-half.  Regiments of the BACHELU division, and the JAMIN
    brigade, are at last moved up to his assistance.  They are partly
    swept down by the Allied batteries, and partly notched away by
    the infantry, the smoke being now so thick that the position of
    the battalions is revealed only by the flashing of the priming-
    pans and muzzles, and by the furious oaths heard behind the cloud.
    WELLINGTON comes back.  Enter another aide-de-camp.]

  We bow to the necessity of saying
  That our brigade is lessened to one-third,
  Your Grace.  And those who are left alive of it
  Are so unmuscled by fatigue and thirst
  That some relief, however temporary,
  Becomes sore need.

            Inform your general
  That his proposal asks the impossible!
  That he, I, every Englishman afield,
  Must fall upon the spot we occupy,
  Our wounds in front.

            It is enough, your Grace.
  I answer for't that he, those under him,
  And I withal, will bear us as you say.

    [Exit aide.  The din of battle goes on.  WELLINGTON is grave but
    calm.  Like those around him, he is splashed to the top of his hat
    with partly dried mire, mingled with red spots; his face is grimed
    in the same way, little courses showing themselves where the sweat
    has trickled down from his brow and temples.]
  CLINTON [to Hill]

  A rest would do our chieftain no less good,
  In faith, than that unfortunate brigade!
  He is tried damnably; and much more strained
  Than I have ever seen him.

            Endless risks
  He's running likewise.  What the hell would happen
  If he were shot, is more than I can say!
  WELLINGTON [calling to some near]

  At Talavera, Salamanca, boys,
  And at Vitoria, we saw smoke together;
  And though the day seems wearing doubtfully,
  Beaten we must not be!  What would they say
  Of us at home, if so?
  A CRY [from the French]

            Their centre breaks!
  Vive l'Empereur!

    [It comes from the FOY and BACHELU divisions, which are rushing
    forward.  HALKETT'S and DUPLAT'S brigades intercept.  DUPLAT
    falls, shot dead; but the venturesome French regiments, pierced
    with converging fires, and cleft with shells, have to retreat.]
  HILL [joining Wellington]

            The French artillery-fire
  To the right still renders regiments restive there
  That have to stand.  The long exposure galls them.

  They must be stayed as our poor means afford.
  I have to bend attention steadfastly
  Upon the centre here.  The game just now
  Goes all against us; and if staunchness fail
  But for one moment with these thinning foot,
  Defeat succeeds!

    [The battle continues to sway hither and thither with concussions,
    wounds, smoke, the fumes of gunpowder, and the steam from the hot
    viscera of grape-torn horses and men.  One side of a Hanoverian
    square is blown away; the three remaining sides form themselves
    into a triangle.  So many of his aides are cut down that it is
    difficult for WELLINGTON to get reports of what is happening
    afar.  It begins to be discovered at the front that a regiment of
    hussars, and others without ammunition, have deserted, and that
    some officers in the rear, honestly concluding the battle to be
    lost, are riding quietly off to Brussels.  Those who are left
    unwounded of WELLINGTON'S staff show gloomy misgivings at such
    signs, despite their own firmness.]

                 One needs must be a ghost
       To move here in the midst 'twixt host and host!
       Their balls scream brisk and breezy tunes through me
       As I were an organ-stop.  It's merry so;
       What damage mortal flesh must undergo!

    [A Prussian officer enters to MUFFLING, who has again rejoined
    the DUKE'S suite.  MUFFLING hastens forward to WELLINGTON.]

  Blucher has just begun to operate;
  But owing to Gneisenau's stolid stagnancy
  The body of our army looms not yet!
  As Zieten's corps still plod behind Smohain
  Their coming must be late.  Blucher's attack
  Strikes the remote right rear of the enemy,
  Somewhere by Plancenoit.

            A timely blow;
  But would that Zieten sped!  Well, better late
  Than never.  We'll still stand.

    [The point of observation shifts.]


    [NEY'S long attacks on the centre with cavalry having failed,
    those left of the squadrons and their infantry-supports fall
    back pell-mell in broken groups across the depression between
    the armies.

    Meanwhile BULOW, having engaged LOBAU'S Sixth Corps, carries

    The artillery-fire between the French and the English continues.
    An officer of the Third Foot-guards comes up to WELLINGTON and
    those of his suite that survive.]

  Our Colonel Canning—coming I know not whence—

  I lately sent him with important words
  To the remoter lines.

            As he returned
  A grape-shot struck him in the breast; he fell,
  At once a dead man.  General Halkett, too,
  Has had his cheek shot through, but still keeps going.

  And how proceeds De Lancey?

            I am told
  That he forbids the surgeons waste their time
  On him, who well can wait till worse are eased.

  A noble fellow.

    [NAPOLEON can now be seen, across the valley, pushing forward a
    new scheme of some sort, urged to it obviously by the visible
    nearing of further Prussian corps.  The EMPEROR is as critically
    situated as WELLINGTON, and his army is now formed in a right
    angle [“en potence”], the main front to the English, the lesser
    to as many of the Prussians as have yet arrived.  His gestures
    show him to be giving instructions of desperate import to a
    general whom he has called up.]

       He bids La Bedoyere to speed away
       Along the whole sweep of the surging line,
       And there announce to the breath-shotten bands
       Who toil for a chimaera trustfully,
       With seventy pounds of luggage on their loins,
       That the dim Prussian masses seen afar
       Are Grouchy's three-and-thirty thousand, come
       To clinch a victory.

            But Ney demurs!

       Ney holds indignantly that such a feint
       Is not war-worthy.  Says Napoleon then,
       Snuffing anew, with sour sardonic scowl,
       That he is choiceless.

                 Excellent Emperor!
       He tops all human greatness; in that he
       To lesser grounds of greatness adds the prime,
       Of being without a conscience.

    [LA BEDOYERE and orderlies start on their mission.  The false
    intelligence is seen to spread, by the excited motion of the
    columns, and the soldiers can be heard shouting as their spirits

    WELLINGTON is beginning to discern the features of the coming
    onset, when COLONEL FRASER rides up.]

  We have just learnt from a deserting captain,
  One of the carabineers who charged of late,
  That an assault which dwarfs all instances—
  The whole Imperial Guard in welded weight—
  Is shortly to be made.

            For your smart speed
  My thanks.  My observation is confirmed.
  We'll hasten now along the battle-line [to Staff],
  As swiftest means for giving orders out
  Whereby to combat this.

    [The speaker, accompanied by HILL, UXBRIDGE, and others—all now
    looking as worn and besmirched as the men in the ranks—proceed
    along the lines, and dispose the brigades to meet the threatened
    shock.  The infantry are brought out of the shelter they have
    recently sought, the cavalry stationed in the rear, and the
    batteries of artillery hitherto kept in reserve are moved to the

    The last Act of the battle begins.

    There is a preliminary attack by DONZELOT'S columns, combined
    with swarms of sharpshooters, to the disadvantage of the English
    and their Allies.  WELLINGTON has scanned it closely.  FITZROY
    SOMERSET, his military secretary, comes up.]

  What casualty has thrown its shade among
  The regiments of Nassau, to shake them so?

  The Prince of Orange has been badly struck—
  A bullet through his shoulder—so they tell;
  And Kielmansegge has shown some signs of stress.
  Kincaird's tried line wanes leaner and more lean—
  Whittled to a weak skein of skirmishers;
  The Twenty-seventh lie dead.

       Ah yes—I know!

    [While they watch developments a cannon-shot passes and knocks
    SOMERSET'S right arm to a mash.  He is assisted to the rear.

    NEY and FRIANT now lead forward the last and most desperate
    assault of the day, in charges of the Old and Middle Guard,
    the attack by DONZELOT and ALLIX further east still continuing as
    a support.  It is about a quarter-past eight, and the midsummer
    evening is fine after the wet night and morning, the sun approaching
    its setting in a sky of gorgeous colours.

    The picked and toughened Guard, many of whom stood in the ranks
    at Austerlitz and Wagram, have been drawn up in three or four
    echelons, the foremost of which now advances up the slopes to
    the Allies' position.  The others follow at intervals, the
    drummers beating the “pas de charge.”]
  CHORUS OF RUMOURS [aerial music]

       Twice thirty throats of couchant cannonry—
       Ranked in a hollow curve, to close their blaze
       Upon the advancing files—wait silently
            Like to black bulls at gaze.

       The Guard approaches nearer and more near:
       To touch-hole moves each match of smoky sheen:
       The ordnance roars: the van-ranks disappear
            As if wiped off the scene.

       The aged Friant falls as it resounds;
       Ney's charger drops—his fifth on this sore day—
       Its rider from the quivering body bounds
            And forward foots his way.

       The cloven columns tread the English height,
       Seize guns, repulse battalions rank by rank,
       While horse and foot artillery heavily bite
            Into their front and flank.

       It nulls the power of a flesh-built frame
       To live within that zone of missiles.  Back
       The Old Guard, staggering, climbs to whence it came.
            The fallen define its track.

    [The second echelon of the Imperial Guard has come up to the
    assault.  Its columns have borne upon HALKETT'S right.  HALKETT,
    desperate to keep his wavering men firm, himself seizes and
    waves the flag of the Thirty-third, in which act he falls wounded.
    But the men rally.  Meanwhile the Fifty-second, covered by the
    Seventy-first, has advanced across the front, and charges the
    Imperial Guard on the flank.

    The third echelon next arrives at the English lines and squares;
    rushes through the very focus of their fire, and seeing nothing
    more in front, raises a shout.

  The Emperor!  It's victory!

            Stand up, Guards!
  Form line upon the front face of the square!

    [Two thousand of MAITLAND'S Guards, hidden in the hollow roadway,
    thereupon spring up, form as ordered, and reveal themselves as a
    fence of leveled firelocks four deep.  The flints click in a
    multitude, the pans flash, and volley after volley is poured into
    the bear-skinned figures of the massed French, who kill COLONEL
    D'OYLEY in returning fire.]

  Now drive the fellows in!  Go on; go on!
  You'll do it now!

    [COLBORNE converges on the French guard with the Fifty-second, and
    The former splits into two as the climax comes.  ADAM, MAITLAND,
    and COLBORNE pursue their advantage.  The Imperial columns are
    broken, and their confusion is increased by grape-shot from
    BOLTON'S battery.]

            Campbell, this order next:
  Vivian's hussars are to support, and bear
  Against the cavalry towards Belle Alliance.
  Go—let him know.

    [Sir C. CAMPBELL departs with the order.  Soon VIVIAN'S and
    VANDELEUR'S light horse are seen advancing, and in due time the
    French cavalry are rolled back.

    WELLINGTON goes in the direction of the hussars with UXBRIDGE.  A
    cannon-shot hisses past.]
  UXBRIDGE [starting]

       I have lost my leg, by God!

  By God, and have you!  Ay—the wind o' the shot
  Blew past the withers of my Copenhagen
  Like the foul sweeping of a witch's broom.—
  Aha—they are giving way!

    [While UXBRIDGE is being helped to the rear, WELLINGTON makes a
    sign to SALTOUN, Colonel of the First Footguards.]
  SALTOUN [shouting]

            Boys, now's your time;
  Forward and win!

  The Guard gives way—we are beaten!

    [They recede down the hill, carrying confusion into NAPOLEON'S
    centre just as the Prussians press forward at a right angle from
    the other side of the field.  NAPOLEON is seen standing in the
    hollow beyond La Haye Sainte, alone, except for the presence of
    COUNT FLAHAULT, his aide-de-camp.  His lips move with sudden

       He says “Now all is lost!  The clocks of the world
       Strike my last empery-hour.”

    [Towards La Haye Sainte the French of DONZELOT and ALLIX, who
    are fighting KEMPT, PACK, KRUSE, and LAMBERT, seeing what has
    happened to the Old and Middle Guard, lose heart and recede
    likewise; so that the whole French line rolls back like a tide.
    Simultaneously the Prussians are pressing forward at Papelotte
    and La Haye.  The retreat of the French grows into a panic.]
  FRENCH VOICES [despairingly]

       We are betrayed!

    [WELLINGTON rides at a gallop to the most salient point of the
    English position, halts, and waves his hat as a signal to all
    the army.  The sign is answered by a cheer along the length of
    the line.]

  No cheering yet, my lads; but bear ahead,
  Before the inflamed face of the west out there
  Dons blackness.  So you'll round your victory!

    [The few aides that are left unhurt dart hither and thither with
    this message, and the whole English host and it allies advance
    in an ordered mass down the hill except some of the artillery,
    who cannot get their wheels over the bank of corpses in front.
    Trumpets, drums, and bugles resound with the advance.

    The streams of French fugitives as they run are cut down and shot
    by their pursuers, whose clothes and contracted features are
    blackened by smoke and cartridge-biting, and soiled with loam
    and blood.  Some French blow out their own brains as they fly.
    The sun drops below the horizon while the slaughter goes on.]

       Is this the last Esdraelon of a moil
       For mortal man's effacement?

                 Warfare, mere,
       Plied by the Managed for the Managers;
       To wit: by frenzied folks who profit nought
       For those who profit all!

                 Between the jars
       Of these who live, I hear uplift and move
       The bones of those who placidly have lain
       Within the sacred garths of yon grey fanes—
       Nivelles, and Plancenoit, and Braine l'Alleud—
       Beneath the unmemoried mounds through deedless years
       Their dry jaws quake: “What Sabaoath is this,
       That shakes us in our unobtrusive shrouds,
       As though our tissues did not yet abhor
       The fevered feats of life?”

                 Mere fancy's feints!
       How know the coffined what comes after them,
       Even though it whirl them to the Pleiades?—
       Turn to the real.

                 That hatless, smoke-smirched shape
       There in the vale, is still the living Ney,
       His sabre broken in his hand, his clothes
       Slitten with ploughing ball and bayonet,
       One epaulette shorn away.  He calls out “Follow!”
        And a devoted handful follow him
       Once more into the carnage.  Hear his voice.
  NEY [calling afar]

  My friends, see how a Marshal of France can die!

       Alas, not here in battle, something hints,
       But elsewhere!... Who's the sworded brother-chief
       Swept past him in the tumult?

                 D'Erlon he.
       Ney cries to him:

            Be sure of this, my friend,
  If we don't perish here at English hands,
  Nothing is left us but the halter-noose
  The Bourbons will provide!

                 A caustic wit,
       And apt, to those who deal in adumbrations!

    [The brave remnant of the Imperial Guard repulses for a time the
    English cavalry under Vivian, in which MAJOR HOWARD and LIEUTENANT
    GUNNING of the Tenth Hussars are shot.  But the war-weary French
    cannot cope with the pursuing infantry, helped by grape-shot from
    the batteries.

    NAPOLEON endeavours to rally them.  It is his last effort as a
    warrior; and the rally ends feebly.]

  They are crushed!  So it has ever been since Crecy!

    [He is thrown violently off his horse, and bids his page bring
    another, which he mounts, and is lost to sight.]

       He loses his last chance of dying well!

    [The three or four heroic battalions of the Old and Middle Guard
    fall back step by step, halting to reform in square when they
    get badly broken and shrunk.  At last they are surrounded by the
    English Guards and other foot, who keep firing on them and smiting
    them to smaller and smaller numbers.  GENERAL CAMBRONNE is inside
    the square.]

  Surrender!  And preserve those heroes' lives!
  CAMBRONNE [with exasperation]

  Mer-r-rde!... You've to deal with desperates, man, today:
  Life is a byword here!

    [Hollow laughter, as from people in hell, comes approvingly from
    the remains of the Old Guard.  The English proceed with their
    massacre, the devoted band thins and thins, and a ball strikes
    CAMBRONNE, who falls, and is trampled over.]

       Observe that all wide sight and self-command
       Desert these throngs now driven to demonry
       By the Immanent Unrecking.  Nought remains
       But vindictiveness here amid the strong,
       And there amid the weak an impotent rage.

       Why prompts the Will so senseless-shaped a doing?

       I have told thee that It works unwittingly,
       As one possessed, not judging.

       Of Its doings if It knew,
       What It does It would not do!

       Since It knows not, what far sense
       Speeds Its spinnings in the Immense?

       None; a fixed foresightless dream
       Is Its whole philosopheme.

       Just so; an unconscious planning,
       Like a potter raptly panning!

       Are then, Love and Light Its aim—
       Good Its glory, Bad Its blame?
       Nay; to alter evermore
       Things from what they were before.

       Your knowings of the Unknowable declared,
       Let the last pictures of the play be bared.

    [Enter, fighting, more English and Prussians against the French.
    NEY is caught by the throng and borne ahead.  RULLIERE hides an
    eagle beneath his coat and follows Ney.  NAPOLEON is involved
    none knows where in the crowd of fugitives.

    WELLINGTON and BLUCHER come severally to the view.  They meet in
    the dusk and salute warmly.  The Prussian bands strike up “God save
    the King” as the two shake hands.  From his gestures of assent it
    can be seen that WELLINGTON accepts BLUCHER'S offer to pursue.

    The reds disappear from the sky, and the dusk grows deeper.  The
    action of the battle degenerates to a hunt, and recedes further
    and further into the distance southward.  When the tramplings
    and shouts of the combatants have dwindled, the lower sounds are
    noticeable that come from the wounded: hopeless appeals, cries
    for water, elaborate blasphemies, and impotent execrations of
    Heaven and hell.  In the vast and dusky shambles black slouching
    shapes begin to move, the plunderers of the dead and dying.

    The night grows clear and beautiful, and the moon shines musingly
    down.  But instead of the sweet smell of green herbs and dewy rye
    as at her last beaming upon these fields, there is now the stench
    of gunpowder and a muddy stew of crushed crops and gore.]

       So hath the Urging Immanence used to-day
       Its inadvertent might to field this fray:
       And Europe's wormy dynasties rerobe
     Themselves in their old gilt, to dazzle anew the globe!

    [The scene us curtained by a night-mist.[25]]


    [It is midnight.  NAPOLEON enters a glade of the wood, a solitary
    figure on a faded horse.  The shadows of the boughs travel over
    his listless form as he moves along.  The horse chooses its own
    path, comes to a standstill, and feeds.  The tramp of BERTRAND,
    SOULT, DROUOT, and LOBAU'S horses, gone forward in hope to find
    a way of retreat, is heard receding over the hill.]
  NAPOLEON [to himself, languidly]

  Here should have been some troops of Gerard's corps,
  Left to protect the passage of the convoys,
  Yet they, too, fail.... I have nothing more to lose,
  But life!

    [Flocks of fugitive soldiers pass along the adjoining road without
    seeing him.  NAPOLEON'S head droops lower and lower as he sits
    listless in the saddle, and he falls into a fitful sleep.  The
    moon shines upon his face, which is drawn and waxen.]

       “Sic diis immortalibus placet,”—
       “Thus is it pleasing to the immortal gods,”
        As earthlings used to say.  Thus, to this last,
       The Will in thee has moved thee, Bonaparte,
       As we say now.
  NAPOLEON [starting]

            Whose frigid tones are those,
  Breaking upon my lurid loneliness
  So brusquely?... Yet, 'tis true, I have ever know
  That such a Will I passively obeyed!

    [He drowses again.]

       Nothing care I for these high-doctrined dreams,
       And shape the case in quite a common way,
       So I would ask, Ajaccian Bonaparte,
       Has all this been worth while?

            O hideous hour,
  Why am I stung by spectral questionings?
  Did not my clouded soul incline to match
  Those of the corpses yonder, thou should'st rue
  Thy saying, Fiend, whoever those may'st be!...

  Why did the death-drops fail to bite me close
  I took at Fontainebleau?  Had I then ceased,
  This deep had been umplumbed; had they but worked,
  I had thrown threefold the glow of Hannibal
  Down History's dusky lanes!—Is it too late?...
  Yes.  Self-sought death would smoke but damply here!

  If but a Kremlin cannon-shot had met me
  My greatness would have stood: I should have scored
  A vast repute, scarce paralleled in time.
  As it did not, the fates had served me best
  If in the thick and thunder of to-day,
  Like Nelson, Harold, Hector, Cyrus, Saul,
  I had been shifted from this jail of flesh,
  To wander as a greatened ghost elsewhere.
  —Yes, a good death, to have died on yonder field;
  But never a ball came padding down my way!

  So, as it is, a miss-mark they will dub me;
  And yet—I found the crown of France in the mire,
  And with the point of my prevailing sword
  I picked it up!  But for all this and this
  I shall be nothing....
  To shoulder Christ from out the topmost niche
  In human fame, as once I fondly felt,
  Was not for me.  I came too late in time
  To assume the prophet or the demi-god,
  A part past playing now.  My only course
  To make good showance to posterity
  Was to implant my line upon the throne.
  And how shape that, if now extinction nears?
  Great men are meteors that consume themselves
  To light the earth.  This is my burnt-out hour.

       Thou sayest well.  Thy full meridian-shine
       Was in the glory of the Dresden days,
       When well-nigh every monarch throned in Europe
       Bent at thy footstool.

            Saving always England's—
  Rightly dost say “well-nigh.”—Not England's,—she
  Whose tough, enisled, self-centred, kindless craft
  Has tracked me, springed me, thumbed me by the throat,
  And made herself the means of mangling me!

       Yea, the dull peoples and the Dynasts both,
       Those counter-castes not oft adjustable,
       Interests antagonistic, proud and poor,
       Have for the nonce been bonded by a wish
       To overthrow thee.


                 Peace.  His loaded heart
       Bears weight enough for one bruised, blistered while!

       Worthless these kneadings of thy narrow thought,
       Napoleon; gone thy opportunity!
       Such men as thou, who wade across the world
       To make an epoch, bless, confuse, appal,
       Are in the elemental ages' chart
       Like meanest insects on obscurest leaves,
       But incidents and grooves of Earth's unfolding;
       Or as the brazen rod that stirs the fire
       Because it must.

    [The moon sinks, and darkness blots out NAPOLEON and the scene.]

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