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reason, disbelieved in the doctrine that Wellington made this world and all that therein is. We walked together, and in the rear of the rest of the party, so as not to interrupt them in their “devotions.” I think the guide regarded us as "separatists,” and added occasionally to his usual speech, for our benefit.
The field of Waterloo has not been greatly changed in appearance since the day of the battle. There are some lines of trees where there were none then, and a bit of forest near the farm of Hougoumont has been cut down, but the roads are on the same lines, and the appearance of things generally, on the August day when I beheld it, was essentially the same as on the June Sunday when the armies met. It is in its outline very much like the country lying around the north side of Burnett's Peak, near Topeka, though in better cultivation : as a rule, a gently-undulating region, covered with grain and grass fields, undivided by any fences except scanty hedges, for the “herd law" prevails in Belgium.
Looking over the field, it would be hard to see why it should have been selected as a place to give battle, were it not for one position, and that is the farm of Hougoumont, which was held by the English from first to last. Imagine a farm - house in New England with the old orchard adjoining it, and all the buildings, house, barns and barn-yard surrounded by a heavy, solid brick wall ten feet high and over a foot thick, and you have an idea of this position. Against anything but artillery, the place, if resolutely defended as it was - ought to be held, one to four, as it
To add to the strength of the place, it was covered by English batteries further back in the "prairie,” who could fire over it into the timber—now gone-in which the French advanced, pretty well covered, I should think, to a point close to the wall. There appears to have been no attempt to breach the wall with artillery, the French finally contenting themselves with shelling the interior, by which the little chapel was set on fire, partly burned, and the wounded, who had been placed therein, suffocated. You can see the charred cross-beam over the door to this day. No description ever conveyed to me, as did the sight of the place, the savage nature of the fight. The French surged around this inclosure and rushed for it like wild-cats. They penetrated to the orchard, but were driven out. They found the barn-yard gate open, and got inside a few feet, but were forced out; the gate was shut in their faces by two men, and then one of the assailants climbed to the top of the gate and fell riddled with musket balls. The brick wall was loop-holed (the openings remain), and a platform was built on which the English stood and fired over. For the French, it was like charging the steep sides of a doubledecker with all her guns blazing. The outside of the wall looks as if it had had the small-pox, but the French fire was thrown away alike on the brick wall and the iron men who defended it. The wall crumbled here and there, and here and there a soldier fell, but neither the wall nor the British soldier gave way. That brick wall stayed the onward progress of Napoleon. Against it his eagle dashed himself and died.
The place is cursed, I think. The same family own it, I believe, that did in the days of Waterloo, but no longer reside there. Traces remain of the formal old French garden, with its balustrades now fallen, and overgrown with grass. The old apple trees, whose roots wind about the bones of dead men, have a mournful look. It is a doleful place, which the summer sun cannot brighten. We went away from there, and walked to the high mound of earth erected to commemorate the victory. This is ascended by a flight of steps, and from thence you can see every part of the field — here yellow, here brown, here green, here marked by the straight line of a dusty road, here traversed by a scrubby hedge-row, dotted at'intervals with white-plastered farmhouses with red roofs. All the places, which on one Saturday were nothing and on the evening of Sunday had gone into history, were in sight - La Haye Sainte, La Belle Alliance, and the rest. When we got out into the open ground the guide grew animated. He described the charge of the Imperial Guard, the last effort of the French. “Zey were command,” said he, “by ze Zheneral Cambronne. Zey call on him to surrendare, but he zay, 'Ze Guard die, he nevare surrendare.'” And then he added, looking significantly at the Englishman and myself, “ Victor Hugo zay he zay somethings else.” On top of the mound the guide went over the story with all the animation of the “delineator" of a panorama. “Vare you sees zose leetle black booshes,” said he, “stood ze Scot Grees and ze Enniskeeleners. Ven Napoleon he saw 'em, he zay to Marshal Soult, 'Ah, zose gree horses, zose terrible gree horses ; if I had four such regiment I would take ze vorld. But I take zem in zis time.' ‘Mon Empereur,' zay Marshal Soult, ‘you no know zose English; you cut him in pieces, but he nevare give up.” As you stand on the mount there stretches away, almost from beneath your feet, a straight road apparently level with the surrounding surface. This was once the "sunk road of Ohain," in which, according to Victor Hugo, the head of the column of charging French cavalry was swallowed up. It then ran along the bottom of a sort of trench, fifteen feet deep, but the removal of the earth to build the huge mound has leveled one side of the trench.
Accustomed to the long lines of the great battles of our late war, to an American the space in which the battle of Waterloo was fought seemed singularly limited. You can see from one end of the field to the other without the aid of a glass.
The ground was more favorable for the Allies than the French, owing, as I have said, to the possession of the farm of Hougoumont, and also to the fact that Wellington was able to keep a considerable force sheltered behind what we would call in Kansas a "roll” in the “prairie.” The French, being the attacking force, necessarily had to take more medicine than the Allies, or, I might
Ι as well say, the British, who made the real fight. It was a field where sheer courage and endurance had more to do with results than strategy. The defeat of Napoleon was due to the stubborn valor of the British soldier; it was not the "sunk road," nor the arrival of Blucher. I firmly believe that the French would have driven any other troops off the ground long before sunset.
British pluck won Waterloo; British gold paid for it: but what England won by Waterloo I have never been able to discover. It is pitiful to go into the church at Waterloo village and see the monuments of mere boys who died on that dreadful day; to see the monument of the “loved and gallant Howard,” whose memory has been kept green by a single line of Byron. Why did these men die? It was to put back in a palace, from whence he had recently shot out like beans from a scoop-shovel, a fat-headed old Bourbon of a king, in whom no Englishman ought to have taken the least earthly interest. The Englishman, lover of liberty as he was, fought and died at Waterloo to keep in power a lot of
putrid people with crowns, who have since been ignominiously kicked into the streets within my recollection. If the cause was bad, what is to be said of the reward ? In the partitions which followed, what did England get? Nothing. The miserable Bourbons she bolstered up had nothing to give. What remains now of the “state of Europe,” as arranged after the battle of Waterloo ? Nothing. England, after hunting the great Napoleon to death, found an ally, and was proud of him, in that miserable fraud, the "nephew of his uncle.” England, to crush Napoleon, allied herself with Russia, and to-day about half England thinks a bloody war necessary to check the designs of that same Russia on the British possessions in India. England fought at Waterloo to keep up the ancient order of things—to support the “Dei gratia" style of monarchy- and who now believes in that style of government? Who reverences the “first gentleman in Europe" now? Who, like the Englishman Thackeray, has portrayed the idiocy or the wickedness of the “Four Georges?” Everything that England fouglat for at Waterloo is disreputable now.
If the design of the enormous expenditure of blood was to obliterate Napoleon, it was not a success. The man who, from a sub-lieutenancy, made his way without one faltering or hesitating step to the throne of empire, could not be extinguished by Waterloo, nor even by the practice of studiously calling him “General” Bonaparte. Even the high road over which admiring British tourists go to Waterloo is a monument to his energy. It is but a step from Waterloo to Antwerp, and what says the local chroni. cler there?
"That Napoleon caused millions of men to per in his cause, that he was ambitious and an egotist, what does it matter to us, who owe to him