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Mary Anne Wellington, the Soldier’s Daughter, Wife and Widow. With plates
By Richard COBBOLD
About this book
Terms of Service
229 – 233
zans. At the steady approach of the allied army, Burgos was deserted, the castle was blown up; and it is said that the town itself, with all its innocent inhabitants, were doomed to similar destruction, but that the hurried retreat of the French caused the works to be neglected, and the trains were not fired. If so, God’s providence and protection overruled the wickedness of man.
Lord Wellington had been gradually concentrating his forces upon Vittoria, for he had ascertained that Joseph Buonaparte had determined to give him battle before that place. The mock king had sent forward all his baggagemaggons; and whilst the town was illuminated inhonour of his presence, he himself was ordering all his stolen goods to be moved forward towards the frontiers. Never was there a greater proof of the rapacious nature of the French invasion, than that which the retreat of Joseph from Madrid exhibited. Every public relic of value that could possibly be carried off, was hoisted on to the baggage-waggons of this King Log. Even the imperials of his own travelling carriage were stuffed with rolls of the most valuable pictures, cut from their gilt frames, out of the collections of all the Spanish galleries. Plunder, direful plunder, of every species of valuable property which Frenchmen could lay their hands upon, from the highest to the lowest, found an easy conveyance in the long train of vans, of which there seemed to be no end, from the high hills of the Zadorra to the beautiful range along the valley of Irun.
N o powers of description are adequate to convey a just idea of the
‘ imposing effect presented to the eye of our heroine, on the morning of the 21st of J unc, 1813, as she sat upon the lofty summit of the Sierra, in company with a party of poor sick soldiers and campfollowers, who, with a few peasants of the country, had collected to see the awful battle which was there and then to take place.
These guides of the country had conducted the party, by gentle and gradual ascents, up to a height beneath which the.clouds played fantastic revels; and there, upon a projecting point, whose top was formed of moss-covered fragments, sat our heroine, watching the bright sun rising amidst a flood of glory, to look herself upon a scene of grandeur such as few eyes could behold and forget. He rose in majesty; he lifted the curtain of darkness, and dispelled with his beams the foggy vapours of the valleys. The mists rolled away, and long before the two leaders of those armies could see each other, they were descried from ‘the height, beyond the reach of cannon, but scarcely out of the flapping of the eagle’s mng.
On the hills of the Zadorra, opposite to the Sierra, stood Marshal Jourdan and King Joseph Buonaparte, anxiously awaiting the attack upon their long line of defence, which was spread through the valley of the Zadorra; whilst just beneath our heroine’s party stood the unassuming Commander of the allies, in his grey coat and with telescope in hand, surveying, as the curtain was withdrawn, the immense battle-field upon which his operations were to be displayed.
Vittoria lay before them; and in the distance might still be seen, winding along the high road, those royal incumbrances, which were never exceeded in extent, never included a greater mass of wealth, and never were so much in every one’s way, as upon that memorable morning.
What must have been the feelings of the soldier’s wife, as she saw before her eyes, in all the splendour of the nations to which they belong, the finest race of men, the best-trained soldiers, the best equipped forces that the sun of Spain ever shone upon! Private feelings were swallowed up in the imposing public spectacle; and thoughts, thoughts too solemn for language to describe, arose in her soul, as she saw the enemy of Spain and her deliverer confronted with such terror-speaking troops and tongues as mortal powers cannot unfold. She lifted up her heart to God; and, if she forgot her husband and her friend, it was only in that general breathing of a prayer for the preservation of the whole British army.
The battle began at the extremity of the line, by the attack of Sir Rowland Hill upon the heights of La Puebla. What pigmies did the little creatures look from the lofty summit where our heroine was placed! The guns which first opened their desultory fire, seemed but pop-guns with little wreaths of smoke curling over their months. But, as the masses advanced, and the steady firing of the line succeeded, then the sounds began to reverberate along the Sierra; and with varied feelings of hope and fear did the eye of the soldier’s wife witness the advance, repulse, re-attack, and success of that first position of the battle, which caused the death of Oadogan, who had counted with vivacity on that morn which saw his destruction.
Hill’s division was watched with intense anxiety, because our heroine’s heart was with old Dan and the 48th. She more than once thought she could distinguish the black charger in the rear of the regiment, and saw, as she imagined, many of her friends stretched upon the ground. It appeared a singular sight to behold men and horses falling dead before the reports of the destructive fire which prostrated them could be heard. Hundreds were seen from that eagle height falling without apparent cause. The effect was so sudden, and the distance so great, that individual red, black, or green spots distinguished masses, who appeared to be smitten, as it were, with sudden sleep. Here and there, indeed, might be seen a single flying steed, appearing no larger than a lady’s lap dog, galloping without a rider, and stopping only at the brink of the river. The smoke from the booming cannon and all the different parks of artillery, looked like small white clouds, which curled up the sides of the mountains, and did not, for any lengthened period, hide the moving masses of soldiers.
From her lofty height, it appeared to our heroine for a long, long time, as if neither side had gained any advantage. The most impoaing troop, seeming like a long line of men clad in gold, was a body of French heavy dragoons, dressed in dark green, with’ brass helmets. From the heights, these helmets seemed to cover their bodies; and, when they rushed to the fight, our heroine’s breath was suspended, as she saw them resisted at the point of the British bayonet. The gold was tarnished, the bright line destroyed, and scattered; and by two’s, three’s, four’s, and six’s, the golden line formed again, and appeared but half its former length. The centre of the enemy appeared to give way. The red-coats steadily advanced. At last she saw Lord Wellington change his position, and Joseph and his staff move off, the whole of the troops aiming at one point to reach Vittoria.
At the latter part of the day, it became distinctly evident that the victory was decided; the mighty masses of France appeared to join each other in a confused flight, while the columns of the allies kept steadily advancing.
The peasants now conducted our heroine and her companions down the lofty sides of the mountain, every turn affording a nearer view of the still contending forces; but the distance apparently greater to them, as they reached a corresponding level with the combatants.
It was night, and a brilliant night it was when our heroine reached the battle-field. She was directed to Hill’s brigade, and found her husband in the act of removing his Colonel from the scene into the village of Snbijana do Alava.
‘ You are arrived just in time to help me,’ said the assistantsurgeon Macauley. ‘ Colonel White is desperately wounded; we must get him a quiet berth, and you, my dear, must attend him. Never mind the plunder. It is, I hear, immense; but duty calls both you and me away from scenes of predatory discord, which must degrade the glories of victory.’
Immense indeed was the plunder of Vittoria. Independently of the one hundred and fifty-one pieces of cannon, the four hundred and fifteen caissons, the fifty-six forage waggons, and the immense stores of ammunition which fell into the hands of our victorious troops, the Staff of the French Marshal was sent to the victor, and J oseph’s carriage, baggage, and military chest were captured. The extraordinary exhibition of that night is scarcely to be credited. At every regimental bivouac, some chosen man put up to auction the plunder of his companions; and, had Jew dealers from Portugal been there, cent. per cent. might have been realized, even for the current coin of the country; for it is a positive fact that Spanish dollars, on account of their incumbranoe, fetched only half their real price, in exchange for gold.
Our heroine, however partook of none of these things, nor her husband either. They were engaged in attending upon the wounded, and at this time upon the Colonel of their own regiment. To them the plunder was an accursed thing; they honestly thought their preservation and glorious victory were more worthy matters of thankfulness and exultation, than any spoils obtained from the plunderers of Spain.
Our heroine was engaged to attend upon Colonel White, and faithfully did she perform her duty; gratefully were her services acknowledged : should these pages reach the eye of that brave officer, he will remember his last words of gratitude to the soldier’ s wife :
‘ If ever you should want a friend, apply to me; and, if God blesses me with the means, you shall not want.”
The battle of Vittoria made Wellington Field-Marshal and Marquis of Wellington, K.G., and raised the quality of the British army to a standard of excellence which it had never till then enjoyed.
Old Dan and the band of the 48th played a triumphant march within the walls of Vittoria, and then marched forward to other victories, to the glory and honour of old England, the release of Spain, and the ultimate confusion of the enemies of mankind.
CHAPTER XXV. i
‘ THE PYRENEES. I new #’ – ,iv Tun battle of Vittoria was succeeded by all the disastrous laxities which the unfortunate possession of rich plunder is so apt to produce.” ‘- omqu on: arms 0.1 qu The spirit of plunder is a great drawback to the efficiency of an army. It ruins thousands; and whilst it now seemed to baffle the efl’orts of the officers to counteract it, so bold and vexatious an evil had it grown that it even became a matter of high and glorious principle in a common soldier to resist it. There were some regiments, however, conspicuous for hostility to this predatory madness; one of thesewas the gallant 48th, whose officers were ably seconded by the non-commissioned officers, in their decided enmity to this prevalent disorder. nod: ‘ Ifa fellow will desert for the sake of plunder,’ said old Dan, ‘ he deserves to have his head cut off by the guerillas, and his illgotten store divided among banditti. I hate this system of plunder. We hear of these disasters every day; and until some strong example shall be made, the evil will not be checked. Painful as it is to witness the punishment of a man who has fought bravely in the day of battle; yet, if he has fought merely for the sake of plunder, he is not a good soldier, he is no better than a robber.’ ! ‘ I agree with you, Dan. Our swords are drawn only to preserve lawful owners of property, and the enjoyment of the civil rights and privileges of a people against those who usurp all those blessings, and turn them into ruin. And if we take a leaf out of their book we deserVe to meet with their reward. To be taken out of the way of temptation is a good thing; but to resist it when most inviting is better still. Thank God, we are supported in both situations. I fear, however, examples will have to be made, or we shall have
The widow married: A sequel to “The Widow Barnaby”.
By Frances Milton Trollope
About this book
Terms of Service
308 – 312
induce her, or her beloved Mr. 0’D.,to utter a word that might influence her; for, excellent as the connection was, they were quite determined, on this and every other occasion, to let their only darling consult her own pure heart, and nothing else !
In the midst of all this contradictory variety, Patty, while endeavouring to look mysterious to both father and mother, and saying little on the subject to either, took to hating Jack in her very heart of hearts, most thoroughly and sincerely, and she would have gone very considerable lengths, as she confessed to her friend, to plague him as he deserved. A feeling in no degree less hostile had also, very naturally, supplied, in the breast of the tender Matilda, the place of all other sentiments towards Mr. Foxcroft; and it is probable that nothing but their wholesome fear of Mr. O’Donagough kept either fair one within the bounds of moderate rudeness, whenever their faithless swains approached them. Nevertheless Patty had her flirtations, and Miss Matilda did her very best to have hers too, so that there was not wanting between them a constant fund of confidential secrets which nourished and sustained their friendship in all its pristine warmth and purity.
Having ascertained the affronting indifference of her husband respecting General and Mrs. Hubert, Mrs. O’Donagough called him not again to her councils respecting them, but quietly settled in her own mind how to indulge herself, by fully displaying to them, and to all their daughters and sons, the spectacle of her greatness.
Amongst other simulations of fashionable manners adopted by the prosperous adventurer and his family, was their ignorance and independence of each other’s occupations and engagements before dinner. Mrs. O’Donagough was blessed by having at her command one of the most showy carriages in London. Arms, embellished by a prodigious number of splendid quarterings, adorned the panels, the hammer-cloth hung stiff with embroidery of the same, blinds of crimson silk aided the glowing complexions within, and tags, tassels, and silver lace decorated those without. Let those who best know Mrs. O’Donagough, judge what her feelings were in driving to the door of Mrs. Hubert in such an equipage as this.
With care and skill she chose that hour for her visit at which ladies are most certainly visible at home; namely, the interval between the two o’clock luncheon, and the three o’clock sortie for shopping.
Mrs. O’Donagough watched with some emotion the colloquy between the servants at the door, but all her doubts and fears were speedily put to the rout by the throwing wide the door of her carriage, and the presentation of the arm that was to assist in her descent from it.
” You will sit in the carriage, and wait for us, my dears,”
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said the swelling lady, with condescending dignity, to the two Miss Perkinses, who occupied the back of the carriage.
” Oh! yes, ma’am! we shall be quite amused, I’m sure,” returned Miss Matilda.
” Pray do not think of us!” meekly ejaculated her sister.
” No, no, no,—of course not, my dear ; you will do very well I dare say; take care about drawing up and down the windows. What do you poke that beautifully-laced pockethandkerchief into your bag for, Patty ? I did not buy it for that, I promise you.”
” And that’s true, and no lie,” said Patty, winking at her friend, as she prepared in her usual style to precipitate herself out of the carriage after her mamma, but at the same time obeying the maternal behest, and drawing forth the handkerchief with a flourish that sent it into the eyes of the simpering Louisa.
There were several persons in Mrs. Hubert’s drawing-room when Mrs. and Miss O’Donagough were ushered into it. At a small table apart, near a window, sat two very lovely girls, each occupied before a little desk, one copying a page of MS. music, and the other drawing. Behind the chair of the latter stood a tall and graceful young man, whose head was bent forward as in the act of criticising the performance. He started as the servant distinctly pronounced the words ” Mrs. and Miss O’Donagough,” but did not immediately look up.
On a sofa near a loo-table at the upper end of the room sat Mrs. Hubert, and beside her an elegant-looking little woman, apparently some few years older than herself, but whose black eyes, neatly-cut little features, and fine teeth, still gave her a right to be called a pretty woman. In a deep chair on the opposite side of the table, another lady, about the same age, perhaps, but infinitely less well-looking, employed herself by incessantly twitching a green ribbon, which being attached to the collar of a poodle lap-dog, occasioned from time to time a sharp little bark that seemed to delight her. Mrs. O’Donagough had observed a carriage waiting at the door, aud the dress of these last-mentioned ladies showed that it was for them it waited, and that they, too, were morning visitors.
If satin, feathers, and a profusion of the finest lace, could have made Mrs. O’Donagough look elegant, she would have looked elegant then, for she was dressed like a duchess; nor was her daughter Patty much less splendid; and even had their names been unknown to all the party, their appearance was altogether such as imperiously to have commanded attention. Hut their names were not unknown to any individual there.
It is possible that Mrs. Hubert was not particularly delighted by this early visit from her remarkable aunt, but most certainly she felt considerable consolation from perceiving that hermanners, though affectionately familiar, were less vehemently caressing than formerly. In feet, Mrs. O’Donagough felt, and thanted God for the same, that there was no longer any occasion for it; besides, it was impossible to press anybody to her heart now, without risking the injury of her exquisite toilet, so she only stretched out one arm as she advanced, saying with a good deal of her most elegant lisp, ” How do, Agnes, dear ? What an age, isn’t it ? You would hardly know Patty, would you ? How are the children ? ”
Mrs. Hubert stepped forward, and received the large offered hand very gracefully, giving a smiling answer to each question. Patty followed after, and notwithstanding her anti-Hubert prejudices, stretched out her hand too, which was also received by Mrs. Hubert with a smile, while she turned her head towards the two young ladies at the window, saying, ” Here is your cousin Martha, my dear Elizabeth.” Thus called upon, a tall, slight, lovely girl rose from the place she occupied, laid her pencil on her desk, and came forward.
” My goodness! Are you Elizabeth ? ” exclaimed Patty, really too much engaged by staring at her, to perceive her offered hand. ” Well, I’m sure I should never have known you again—I wonder if I’m as much altered as you ? ”
” I do not think you are at all altered,” replied Elizabeth, sitting down beside her. ” But you are looking very well.”
” Yes, I am always very well, and you know I have always got a fresh colour,” replied Patty, who was frequently apt to suspect, when people told her she looked well, that they might, perhaps, be thinking she had helped herself to a little of her mamma’s rouge. ” Hardly anybody has got as much colour as I have ; I am sure I often wish I hadn’t so much, people stare so. But my goodness! is that Emily ? ”
” Oh no ! Emily still looks quite like a little girl; that is Miss Seymour.”
As she said this, the tall young man stood upright, and stepping forward, extended a hand to Mrs. O’Donagough, while at the same time he paid his compliments to her daughter, by inquiring very civilly after her health.
” Soh! you are here, are you, Sir Henry. How d’ye do ? ” said Mrs. O’Donagough, thrusting a hand towards the young man over her shoulder, and throwing her plumed head on one side, with a sort of lolloping affectation that was intended to indicate great intimacy.
” I hope Mr. O’Donagough is quite well, ma’am? ” said the young baronet, with a considerable augmentation of colour.
” Quite well, dear Seymour,” replied the great lady; ” I hope we shall see you to-night ? How late we kept it up, Tuesday, didn’t we ? But Lord Mucklebury is always so delightful! ”
While this was passing, the lady seated on the sofa by Mrs. Hubert, looked and listened with great appearance of interest
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and amusement, but said nothing. At length Agnes, who had been watching her with a laughing countenance, addressed Mrs. O’Douagough: ” You do not remember these ladies, aunt ? ” and as she spoke, she pointed to both her bonneted visitors.
” Remember them ? No, really! have I ever met them before ? I live iu such a round of company, that, upon my honour, it is perfectly impossible to remember one face from another. You must excuse me, ladies, if I have the honour of your acquaintance, but I have not the slightest recollection of you.”
” My name is Henderson,” said the lady on the sofa,—” but formerly it was Mary Peters.”
” Mary Peters! ” ejaculated the energetic Mrs. O’Donagough, almost with a shriek, ” Mary Peters! my own dear first husband’s own niece! Gracious heaven! Well, to be sure, this is a most extraordinary discovery ! And this? ” turning to the plain-looking, middle-aged mistress of the lap-dog, “this must be, yes, to be sure, this must be Elizabeth ? ”
” Very true, indeed, I certainly am Elizabeth,” replied the lady she addressed; ” but I am sure I do not wonder at your not knowing me at first, for I had not the least notion who you was. I never saw anybody grow so large in my life.”
“You are so dreadfully thin yourself, my dear, that I have no doubt I do look rather large to you;” then turning her back in rather a marked manner to her former ally, she addressed an almost interminable string of questions to her sister.
“And so you are married, Mary, are you? Well! that’s well. I can’t say I am any great friend to old-maidism—it spoils people’s tempers. I have had three—God bless me!—I mean I have had two husbands, both first-rate, quite first-rate men in their way, and I can’t say I think I should have had the tine temper that I believe everybody allows I have got, if I had
civil to say so just now. Are neither of your sisters married, my dear Mary ? ”
” Oh yes! Lucy has been married many years, and has a very large family! ”
” Poor thing ! ” said Mrs. O’Donagough with a deep sigh; ” then I do pity her! There certainly is nothing so pitiable as having a large family!”
” Is it worse than being an old maid? ” said Miss Elizabeth Peters, with a sneer.
” No, my dear!” replied Mrs. O’Donagough, turning sharply round upon her ; ” nothing, of course, can be so bad as that. And how is your mother, Mary ? and your father ? and James, I dare say he is married, isn’t he ? ”
” Yes, ma’am, he is married also.”
” And what sort of style are you all living in ? comfortable, I hope ? We must not mind your being a little humdrum, if
However, perhaps it is not quite
you are comfortable; but let that be as it may, you must come and see me ; I think my drawing-rooms will please you. But, dear me! how everything depends upon comparison! I remember as well as if it was but yesterday, thinking your drawing-rooms in Rodney-place quite beautiful, but when you come to see mine, my dear, you won’t expect me to think so any longer. In fact, my dear Mr. O’Donagough has so very superior a taste that I must not talk of comparing what he orders to anything else ; I really want you to see my new carriage, Agnes— it will strike you, as something quite out of the common way.”
Mrs. Hubert smiled, and bowed, and looked at Sir Henry Seymour, and then at her lovely daughter, as if to consult them both as to what her aunt was talking about, being herself quite at a loss to decide whether she were in jest or earnest. But she did not venture to speak, for fear of making some blunder, and Mrs. O’Donagough, increasing every moment in the delightful consciousness of causing unbounded astonishment, began again.
“And pray, Agnes dear, who is that?” she said, nodding her plumes in the direction of Miss Seymour; ” it is not one of Frederic Stephenson’s girls, is it ? ”
” That young lady is Miss Seymour,” replied Mrs. Hubert, gravely.
” A sister of youre, my dear Sir Henry, eh ? Pray introduce her,—I shall be quite delighted.”
Caroline Seymour, who was several years younger than her brother, and one of the most timid creatures that ever existed, started up the moment these words were spoken, and before her brother could perform the ceremony demanded of him, was already, though trembling and covered with blushes, close to Mrs. O’Donagough, and extending her hand with an air that gave her the appearance of being eagerly impatient to make the acquaintance.
Mrs. Hubert looked at her with astonishment, while Elizabeth Hubert, not too well knowing what she herself intended, rose also, and seizing the other hand of her young friend, endeavoured to draw her away, convinced that she was acting under some delusion, and that she fancied Mrs. O’Donagough had some claim upon her acquaintance which it was necessary she should acknowledge.
Elizabeth Hubert was partly right. Poor Caroline knew that the terrible-looking woman before whom she stood and trembled, had a claim upon her acquaintance, which, let her hate it ever so much, she would have acknowledged in church or market, in court or city, in public or in private. Clinging to her brother as her protector and only relative, loving him beyond all things, and knowing herself, all childish as she was, to be his only confidante and adviser in the unfortunate secret, to the preservation of which he attached so much importance, she