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2. The battle of Waterloo-and this gave Blücher time to come up-could not be commenced before half past eleven. Why? Because the ground was soft. It was necessary to wait for it to acquire some little firmness, so that the artillery could maneuver.
3. Had the ground been dry and the artillery able to move, the action would have been commenced at six o'clock in the morning. The battle would have been won and finished at two o'clock, three hours before the Prussians turned the scale of fortune.
4. How much fault is there on the part of Napoleon in the loss of this battle? His plan of battle was, all confess, a masterpiece. To march straight to the center of the allied line, pierce the enemy, cut them in two, push the British half upon Hal and the Prussian half upon Tongres, make of Wellington and Blücher two fragments, carry Mont-Saint-Jean, seize Brussels, throw the German into the Rhine and the Englishman into the sea-all this, for Napoleon, was in this battle. What would follow, anybody can see.
5. Those who would get a clear idea of the battle of Waterloo, have only to lay down upon the ground, in their mind, a capital A. The left stroke of the A is the road from Nivelles; the right stroke is the road from Genappe; the cross of the A is the sunken road from Ohain to Braine-l'Alleud. The top of the A is Mont-Saint-JeanWellington is there; the left-hand lower point is Hougomont-Reille is there, with Jerome Bonaparte; the righthand lower point is La Belle Alliance-Napoleon is there.
6. A little below the point where the cross of the A meets and cuts the right stroke, is La Haie Sainte. At the middle of this cross is the precise point where the
final battle word was spoken. There the lion is placed, the involuntary symbol of the supreme heroism of the Imperial Guard. The triangle contained at the top of the A, between the two strokes and the cross, is the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean. The struggle for this plateau was the whole of the battle.
7. Both generals had carefully studied the plain of Mont-Saint-Jean, now called the plain of Waterloo. Already, in the preceding year, Wellington, with the sagacity of prescience, had examined it as a possible site for a great battle. On this ground, and for this contest, Wellington had the favorable side, Napoleon the unfavorable. The English army was above, the French army below.
8. Toward four o'clock the situation of the English army was serious. Hougomont yielding, La Haie Sainte taken, there was but one knot left-the center. That still held. Wellington reënforced it. He called thither Hill, who was at Merbe-Braine, and Chassé, who was at Brainel'Alleud.
The center of the English army, slightly concave, very dense, and very compact, held a strong position. It occupied the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean, with the village behind it, and in front the declivity, which at that time was steep.
9. Wellington, anxious but impassible, was on horseback, and remained there the whole day in the same attitude, a little in front of the old mill of Mont-Saint-Jean, which is still standing, under an elm, which an Englishman, an enthusiastic vandal, has since bought for two hundred francs, cut down, and carried away.
10. Wellington was frigidly heroic. The balls rained down. His aid-de-camp, Gordon, had just fallen at his
side. Lord Hill, showing him a bursting shell, said: “My lord, what are your instructions, and what orders do you leave us, if you allow yourself to be killed?" "To fol low my example," answered Wellington. To Clinton he said, laconically, “Hold this spot to the last man!" The day was clearly going badly. Wellington cried to his old companions of Talavera, Vittoria, and Salamanca : "Boys, we must not be beat! What would they say of us in England?"
11. About four o'clock the English line staggered backward. All at once only the artillery and the sharpshooters were seen on the crest of the plateau; the rest disappeared. The regiments, driven by the shells and bullets of the French, fell back into the valley, now crossed by the cow path of the farm of Mont-Saint-Jean ; a retrograde movement took place; the battle front of the English was slipping away. Wellington gave ground. Beginning retreat!" cried Napoleon.
12. At the moment when Wellington drew back, Napoleon started up. He saw the plateau of Mont-SaintJean suddenly laid bare, and the front of the English army disappear. It rallied, but kept concealed. The Emperor half rose in his stirrups. The flush of victory passed into his eyes. Wellington hurled back on the forest of Soignies, and destroyed-that was the final overthrow of England by France; it was Cressy, Poitiers, Malplaquet, and Ramillies avenged. The man of Marengo was wiping out Agincourt.
13. The Emperor rose and reflected. Wellington had fallen back. It remained only to complete this repulse by a crushing charge. Napoleon, turning abruptly, sent off a courier at full speed to Paris to announce that the battle was won.
14. Napoleon was one of those geniuses who rule the thunder. He had found his thunderbolt. He ordered Milhaud's cuirassiers to carry the plateau of Mont-SaintJean. They were three thousand five hundred. They formed a line of half a mile. They were gigantic men on colossal horses. They were twenty-six squadrons, and they had behind them a strong support.
15. Aid-de-camp Bernard brought them the Emperor's order. Ney drew his sword and placed himself at their head. The enormous squadrons began to move. Then was seen a fearful sight. All this cavalry, with sabers drawn, banners waving, and trumpets sounding, formed in column by division, descended with even movement and as one man-with the precision of a bronze battering-ram opening a breach.
16. An odd numerical coincidence-twenty-six battalions were to receive these twenty-six squadrons. Behind the crest of the plateau, under cover of the masked battery, the English infantry formed in thirteen squares, two battalions to the square, and upon two lines—seven on the first, and six on the second-with musket to the shoulder, and eye upon their sights, waiting, calm, silent, and immovable.
17. They could not see the cuirassiers, and the cuirassiers could not see them. They listened to the rising of this tide of men. They heard the increasing sound of three thousand horses, the alternate and measured striking of their hoofs at full trot, the rattling of the cuirasses, the clinking of the sabers, and a sort of fierce roar of the coming host.
18. There was a moment of fearful silence; then, suddenly, a long line of raised arms brandishing sabers ap
peared above the crest, with casques, trumpets, and standards, and three thousand faces, with gray mustaches, crying, "Vive l'Empereur!" All this cavalry debouched on the plateau, and it was like the beginning of an earthquake. Victor Hugo.
FOR PREPARATION.-I. From "Les Misérables." The extracts are from Book II., "Cosette," Chapters III. to XIII. What battle is referred to by Austerlitz? Read some account of Blücher and Wellington;-of Ney. Find Hal and Tongres on the map (the one ten miles to the west, and the other forty-five miles to the east, of Waterloo).
II. Ma-neu'-ver (-nü'-), çĕn'-ter, sym'-bol, plå-teau' (-tō'), yiēld’-ing, gen'-ius-es, lis'-tened (lis'nd), in-ereas'-ing, ǎl-ter'-nate, měas'-ured (mězh'urd), fiērce (feers), easques (casks), mus-tȧch'-eş (-tash'-), suf'-ficed' (-fizd'). (For the names, see page 263.)
III. Unseasonable (un?); overthrow (over?); crossing (ing ?).
IV. Prostrated, sufficed, "scale of fortune," allied, fragments, precise, involuntary, supreme, triangle, preceding, sagacity, prescience, serious, reenforced, concave, dense, compact, declivity, enthusiastic, Vandal, frigidly, laconically, retrograde, rallied, concealed, repulse, abruptly, courier, thunderbolt, enormous, squadrons, precision, battering-ram, coincidence, crest, standards.
V. "Allied line" (4): who were in alliance against Napoleon? Exain the allusions to Talavera, Vittoria, Salamanca (locations of Wellington's victories in Spain);-to Cressy, Poitiers, Agincourt, etc. (English victories in France, the two former by Edward the Black Prince, and the latter by Henry V.—Malplaquet and Ramillies by the Duke of Marlborough).
LXXXVIII. THE DEFEAT AT WATERLOO.
1. All at once, tragic to relate, at the left of the English, and on our right, the head of the column of cuirassiers reared with a frightful clamor. Arrived at the culminating point of the crest, unmanageable, full of fury, and bent upon the extermination of the squares and cannons, the cuirassiers saw between themselves and the