Slike strani
PDF
ePub

thick woods, they formed their co- fallen soldier, and fearless of the deadly lumns for a desperate attack upon our hail of bullets, stood upright before a extreme right—the cottage where I window firing with quick precision, was, and the conical hill, upon the then rapidly reloading. Nevertheless, possession of which our safety de- every now and then, lie cast an anxious pended. While these new disposi- look beyond, to see how fared the tions were being made, the firing strife upon the all-important hill. almost ceased along the whole line. And now the roar of musketry is We guessed pretty well what was heard among the trees, and a thick coming, and prepared as best we cloud of smoke hangs over the scene might for the approaching storm. of the struggle, concealing the fortunes

Presently thousands of bayonets of the fight. But see! From the back glittered in the bright sun-light among of the hill furthest from the enemy, a the trees in our front; the heads of tall man, in the uniform of an officer, three heavy columns issued from the hastens stealthily away; he crosses wood and pushed across the valley towards the river close to the cottage ; against our positions. The main though hidden by a bank from the force assailed the platform, but could Carlists, we see him plainly from the make no head against the fire of the upper windows; his object is probably artillery, and the masses of troops to escape unobserved down by the defending it ; another body of some stream into the lines. He has thrown strength rushed up to our cottage away his sword, his eyes are bloodstronghold, swarmed round it, and shot, his face pale with deadly fear, poured a deafening roar of musketry and wild with terror. We look again: upon the doors and windows; we were eternal infamy! it is the captain instantly driven from the orchard to of carbineers. Immediately after the shelter of the dwelling, but there this, the defenders of the hill, dewe held our own, and the stout serted by their leader and pressed by Londoners dealt death among the the superior force of the Carlists, gave foe. Several men had been killed, ground, broko, and fled along the and some badly wounded, while re- valley. " That accursed coward has treating from the orchard into the betrayed us,” shouted our commancottage, so my hands were full. I did der, fiercely. " But he shall not escape my utmost, but could not keep pace us, by As he spoke he aimed with the work of destruction. The at the fugitive and pulled the trigger, fire waxed heavier ; the Carlists, but before he finished the sentence, though suffering severely, pressed I heard a dull, heavy splash, as of a closer and closer round us, animated weight falling upon water; the muswith the hope that we might fall into ket dropped from his grasp, he threw their hands; but the conical hill is his long sinewy arms up over his head, not yet assailed, and till it is lost our and feil back without a groan. A retreat is safe. The third attacking bullet had gone through his brain; column has disappeared in a ravine meanwhile the object of his wrath ran to our left. Where will that storm rapidly past and gained the sheltering burst ? See, there they are now underwood by the stream in safety. they rise up from the deep hollow- Oursoldiers, instead of being daunted the glittering bayonets and the ter- by the loss of their commander, were rible " white caps ;” and now with a inspired with the energy of despair. fierce shout, louder than the roar of the They knew they might not hope for battle, they dash against the conical mercy from their fierce assailants, and hill. We see no more; the thick determined to struggle to the last. woods conceal alike our friends and foes. All retreat was cut off, but as long as

My late patient, the commander of their ammunition lasted they could onr little garrison, had been already keep at bay. This, however, began wounded in the head, but refused my soon to fail. They rifled the pouches aid with horrid oaths. A torn hands of their dead comrades, and still, kerchief was wrapped round his tem- though almost against hope, bravely ples, his face and long grizzled beard held on the fight. were stained with blood, begrimed The Carlists upon the conical hill with smoke and dust ; he had seized. were now exposed to the fire from ththe musquet and ammunition of a guns of the platform, and though in

great degree sheltered by the trees, we feel their aid; our assailants they suffered severely. The Chris- slacken their fire, and give way; the tino forces were, however, being path is nearly clear: when the hill is gradually withdrawn from the field of won we are saved. We can now battle, and the chances of our perilous plainly distinguish our deliverers — situation being observed by our friends, the Second Light Infantry, and in became momentarily less; a vigorous front of the leading rank the gallant rush upon the conical hill to gain pos- cadet toils up the bloody hill. A session of it, even for a few minutes, crashing volley staggers the advancmight enable us to extricate ourselves, ing files ; but the youth cheers them but in the roar and confusion of the on-one effort more. Hurrah, brave battle our little band was forgotten by boy! hurrah for the honour of Castile! the Spanish force, left to cover the They follow him again; the brow is withdrawal of the army - forgotten gained, they plunge into the wood; by all but one, -the gallant young another rattle of musketry, and the cadet, my generous friend. He Carlists are driven from the hill. knew that I was in the beleaguered We seized the golden opportunity, cottage, disgracefully left to its fate and bearing with us those of the by a portion of his own regiment; he wounded who survived, made good saw that we still held out, -that there our retreat. The few still capable was hope that we might yet be saved. of any exertion joined our brave deHe hastened to the commanding officer liverers, and retired slowly with them, of his corps, told of our perilous situa- but the Carlists pressed upon us no tion, and pointed out the means of more that night. extricating us. The orders were, that The evening was falling fast, and this regiment,--the second light in the long shadows of the mountains fantry, should check the Carlist ad- covered the field of blood, when I sat vance, till the main body of the down at the advanced post of our lines Christinos had fallen back upon the to await the returning column and positions taken in the morning. The meet the gallant boy, our deliverer generous boy who had gained a hear from the merciless enemy. ing by his gallant conduct through the marched slowly up along the road ; day, urged his cause so earnestly, that for many wounded men, borne ou at last it won attention ; he pointed stretchers, or supported by their comout how the recovery of the conical panions, encumbered their movements. hill would effectually secure the retire. Then, as company after company filed ment of the troops from annoyance, and past, I looked with anxious straining that they would have the glory of eyes for my dear young friend. But saving the detachment of the Legion he came not. Even in the pride of from destruction. The colonel, a gal- their brave deed the soldiers seemed lantold soldier, himself an Englishman dull and sorrowful without his airy by birth, leant no unwilling ear, and the step and gallant bearing to cheer regiment received the order to advance. them on. Last in the ranks came a

Meanwhile, we saw with bitter sor- tall bearded grenadier, carrying somerow battalion after battalion with- thing in his arms-something very drawing from the platform, and the light, but borne with tender care. It Carlist reserves advancing down the was the young cadet. His eyes were valley in our front to press on the re- closed ; his face wore a smile of ineftiring army. But when we had fable sweetness, but was white as almost ceased to hope, a dark green marble, and, like the smile on the feacolumn emerged from the woods in tures of a marble statue, there may our rear by the water side, and in be never again a change ; for the fair serried ranks, with steady step, child was dead. marched straight upon the fatal hill. The Captain of the ship had joined It dashes aside the opposing crowds our group some time before, and lisof white-capped skirmishers like foam tened attentively to the latter part of from a ship's prow; it gains the slope the story. When it came to this and nears the wooded brow, still, point, he cried out somewhat impawith unfaltering courage, pressing on, tiently, “ Hillo, Doctor! if you have though men are struck down at every nothing pleasanter to tell us, the step. They are now close at hand; sooner we turn in the better."

They FLECHIER'S CHRONICLE OF CLERMONT ASSIZES.

а

MANY of our readers, unacquainted the most incredulous. True, there with his writings, will remember the was vast difference in tone and subname of the gentle prelate and re- ject between the literary pastime of nowned rhetorician who delivered the the Abbé, and the results of the grave funeral oration of the great TURENNE, studies and oratorical talents of the accomplishing the mournful but reverend churchman and renowned glorious task with such eloquence and preacher; but affinities of style were grace that the composition constitutes detectible by the skilful, and, in adhis chief claim to the admiration of dition to this, there had crept out, at posterity. We should say, perhaps, sundry periods of the present century, that it did constitute his principal certain letters of Fléchiert - letters hold upon the world's memory, pre- not to be found in the so-called vionsly to the year 1844, date of ex. complete editions” of his works humation of a work likely to command whose strain of graceful levity and readers longer than his Oraisons Funé- exaggerated gallantry indicated bres, or, than any other portion of the talent distinct from that to which he ten serious volumes published under the owes a fame now daily diminishing ; incorrect title of Euvres Completes. and prepared the few whose notice We can imagine the astonishment of they attracted for a transition from an erudite book-worm, suddenly en- grave didactics and inflated declamacountering, when winding his way tion to lively badinage and debonair through dusty folios and antique narrative. The masses knew little black letter, a sprightly and gallant about the matter, and cared less. narrative, sparkling with graceful Latin verses, complimentary dissallies and with anecdotes and allu- courses, and funeral orations, dating sions à la Grammont; and finding from a century and a half back, and himself compelled, by evidence inter relating to persons and events great nal and collateral, to accept the mun- and brilliant, it is true, but now seen dane manuscript as the work of a dim and distant through the long vista grave and pious father of the church. of years, are not the class of literature À courtly chronicle, in tone fringing to compel much attention in this on the frivolous, and often more re- practical and progressive age. As markable for piquancy of subject than a constructor of French prose, Fléchier for strict propriety of tone, suddenly is unquestionably entitled to honourdragged from the cobwebbed obscurity able mention. If his claims to origiof an ancient escritoire and put abroad nality of genius were small, he at as the production of a South, a Til- least was an elegant rhetorician and lotson, or a Blair, would astound the a delicate and polished writer, to public, and find many to doubt its whom the French language is under authenticity. In bringing forward obligations. As a man of letters, he the earliest work of the amiable bishop formed an important link between the of Nismes, the librarian of the town school of Louis XIII, and that of the of Clermont had no such scepticism Grand Monarque; he was one of the to contend against. Moreover, he first to appreciate grace of diction, and had arguments and proofs at hand to attempt the elevation and correcsufficient to confound and convince tion of a spurious style. His florid

* Mémoires de Fléchier sur les Grands-Jours tenus à Clermont, en 1665-66: publiés par B. Gonod, Bibliothécaire de la Ville de Clermont. Paris 1844.

+ These letters were addressed to a young Norman Lady, Mademoiselle Anne de Lavigne, who wrote sonnets in the Scudéry style, and with whom Fléchier kept up a gallant and high-flown correspondence in mingled prose and verse. As far as can be ascertained the liaison was an innocent one; it is quite certain that it caused no seandal at the time. Most of the letters bear date three or four years subsequently to the Grands-Jours.

eloquence, however, not unfrequently And when he condescended to flatter, wearies by its stilted pomposity, and, it was with delicacy and adroitness. save by å few scholars and literati, Ambitions of the patronage of the his works are rather respected than Duke of Montausier, lie knew how to liked, more often praised than read. obtain it by a judicious independence He wrote for the century, not for all of tone and deportment, more pleasing time. And his books, if still oc- to that nobleman than the most insicasionally referred to, cach day drew nuating flattery. A constant guest nearer to oblivion, when the publica- in the Salon Rambouillet, he made tion of the Mémoires sur les Grands- good his place amongst the wits freJours tenus à Clermont came oppor- quenting it

, and when its presiding tunely to refresh his fading bays. genius expired, it fell to him to speak The lease of celebrity secured by ten

its funeral oration. This was the studied and ponderous tomes, exhaling commencement of his fame. From strong odour of midnight oil, had the hour of that brilliant harangue, nearly expired, when it was renewed his progress was rapid to the pinnacle by a single volume, written with of royal favour and priestly dignity. ilowing pen and careless grace, but Unanimously elected member of the overlooked and underrated for nearly academy, he became almoner to the two centuries.

dauphiness, and was long the favourite Although scarcely essential to a court preacher, petted by the king and just appreciation of the book before by Madame de Maintenon. His us, we shall cursorily sketch the career nomination as bishop was delayed of Esprit Fléchier, esteemed one of longer than the high favour he enjoyed the ablest of French pulpit orators,

seemed to justify. At last, in 1685, one of the most kind-hearted and vir- he received his appointment to the tuous of French prelates. Born in

see of Lavaur. The words with which 1632, in the courty of Avignon, he Louis XIV. accompanied it, were early assumed the sacerdotal garb, characteristic of the selfish and smoothand obtained occupation as teacher of spoken sovereign. " Be not surprised rhetoric. At the age of eight-and- at my tardiness in rewarding your twenty, business resulting from the great merits; I could not sooner death of a relation having taken him resolve to resign the pleasure of hearto Paris, he conceived an affection ing you." His promotion to the for that capital and remained there. bishopric of Nismes followed two years IIaving no fortune of his own, he was later, and there he founded the fain to earn a modest subsistence by academy, and abode in the constant teaching the catechism to parish chil- practice of all Christian virtues, until dren. Already, when professing his death, which occurred in 1710, rhetoric at Narbonne, he had given five years sooner than that of his royal indication of the oratorical talents that patron and admirer. This provincial were subsequently to procure him residence could hardly have been a the highest dignities of the church, matter of inclination to one who had the favour of a great king, and the so long basked in the warm sunshine enthusiastic admiration of a Sévigné. of court favour. But the self-imposed At Paris he busied himself with the duty was well and cheerfully percomposition of Latin verses, for which formed. And we find the mild and unhe had a remarkable talent, and cele- ambitious churchman deprecating the brated in graceful hexameters the benefits showered on him by the king. successes and virtues of ministers, “It is a great proof of your goodness," princes, and kings. The peace con- he wrote to Louis, when appointed to cluded with Spain by Mazarine, the the rich and important see of Nismes, future prospects of the dauphin of “that you leave me nothing to ask but France, the splendid tournament held a diminution of your favours.” Strict by the youthful Louis, in turn afforded in his own religious tenets, he was subjects for the display of his elegant tolerant of those of others, and more Latinity. Fléchier had the true than once, during the cruel persecuinstinct of the courtier, exempt from tions of the Huguenots, his sacerdotal fawning, sycophancy, and tempered mantle was extended' to shield the by the dignity of his sacred profession. unhappy fanatics from the raging sabres of their pitiless foes." He able for duration, for the number and died," says St Simon, " distinguished importance of the trials, for the quafor his learning, his works, his morals, lity of the persons figuring in them, and for a truly episcopal life. Al- and for their result, are, without the though very old, he was much regret- slightest question, those of 1665-6. ted and mourned throughout all Lan. They lasted more than four months, guedoc."

from the 26th September to the 30th It is pleasing to trace so virtuous a January. More than twelve thoucareer, its just reward and peaceful sand complaints were brought before termination; otherwise we might have them, and a multitude of cases, both been contented to refer to the period civil and criminal, were decided. when Fléchier was tutor to the son of And, amongst the latter, whom do M. Lefevre de Caumartin, one of the we see upon the bench of the accused? king's council, master of requests, and The most considerable persons, by bearer of the royal seals at the tribu- birth, rank, and fortune, of Auvergne nal of the Grands-Jours. The future and the circumjacent provinces, judges, bishop had been at Paris about two and even priests!”. Here we find the years, when he accepted this tutor- true reason why Fléchier's interesting ship. Four years more elapsed; he memoirs of this important session was in priest's orders, and already had have so long remained unprinted, some reputation as a preacher, when almost unknown. It were idle to he accompanied M. de Caumartin to assert that want of merit caused Clermont. It was in 1665, and Louis them to be omitted, or at best passed XIV. had convoked the exceptional over with a cursory notice, by colleccourt occasionally held in the distant tors and commentators of Fléchier's provinces of France, and known as writings. We have already intimated, the Grands-Jours. “ This word,” and shall presently prove, that, both says M. Gonod, in his introduction to as a literary composition, and as a Fléchier's volume," which excited, chronicle of the manners of the times, scarcely two centuries ago, such great this long-neglected volume is of great expectations, so many hopes and merit and interest. And had these fears, is almost unknown at the pre- been less, this was still hardly a reason sent day; and one meets with many for grudging the honours and advanpersons, otherwise well informed, tages of type to a single volume of who inquire what the Grands-Jours no very great length, at the cost of were ?' They were extraordinary the integrity of its author's works. assizes, held by judges chosen and If not included in any of the partial deputed by the king. These judges, editions of the bishop's writings, or selected from the parliament, were printed with his posthumous works sent with very extensive powers, to at Paris in 1712, a nook might surely decide all criminal and civil cases that have been reserved for it in the Abbé might be brought before them, and Ducreux's complete edition, or in the their decisions were without appeal. less estimable one of Fabre de NarThey inherited the duties of those bonne. But no—such favour was not commissioners, called missi dominici, afforded. M. Fabre dismisses it with whom our kings of the first and second a curt and flippant notice, and Dudynasties sent into the provinces to creux confines himself to a careless take information of the conduct of abstract, inserted in the tenth volume dukes and counts, and to reform the of his edition, as a sort of sop to cerabuses that crept into the admi- tain persons who, having obtained nistration of justice and of the access to the manuscript, were suffifinances. The rare

occurrence of ciently judicious to hold it in high these assizes, and the pomp of the estimation. The Abbé alleged as his judges, contributed to render them reason, that he thought little of the imposing and solemn, and obtained style, which he considered strange for them from the people the name of and negligent. We will not do him Grands-Jours. They were held but the unkindness to accept this as his seven times in Auvergne,” (the dates real opinion. His true motive, we follow, commencing 1454 ;)" and of cannot doubt, was more akin to that those seven sittings, the most remark- loosely hinted at by M. Fabre, who,

VOL, LXIII.-NO. CCCLXXXVII.

D

« PrejšnjaNaprej »