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facts, "''out of which future tales and romances may be constructed; and depicting such appalling scenes of grandeur and honor, of suffering and heroism, as we mistakenly imagined could. only exist in the brain of a Byron or Maturin.
The work possesses other claims to attention, from the useful lesson it inculcates to young people who, becoming restless and discontented with the quiet case and comfort of home, seek to realize .vague notions of happiness and adventure which experience proves entirely visionary. If there be any such, we cannot recommend a better antidote than the history of one who laboured under similar delusions, and whose lot it has been to expiate his early errors, when these errors were irreparable, in the sad realities of life.
The subject of these " Recollections" is a native of Glasgow, born of decent parents, but the victim of a wayward disposition, and chimerical fancies, formed from injudicious reading. His first passion was for a shepherd's life; a bleak Scotch hill, however, and a rough Highland girl, do not realize his previous idea of " sylvan groves" and " piping shepherdesses." He next tries the sea; of which propensity he is cured by severe sickness, rough usage, and a frightful storm on the homeward voyage. There are many vivid and interesting descriptions in this part of the narrative, but we shall hasten to the period when he enlisted for a soldier. This appears to have been a severe trial to his parents; and he gives an affecting account of his first interview with them after he had rashly tied himself to a profession for which he had no particular fitness or inclination.
"My mother first broke silence. 'Poor infatuated boy !' said she, the tears flowing down her cheeks; 'what new calamity have you brought on yourself by your wild, inconstant disposition f I told her I had enlisted, and was going that day to join my regiment.—'Alas!' said she, ' you have now finished it. Now you are lost to us and to yourself; but will you not come home, and see your father before you go V I hesitated, 'Perhaps, said she, 'it will be the last time you may ever see him. Come, you had better go with me.' I consented, and we went home together. It was near four o'clock. My father generally came home at that hour to dinner. My mother met him as be came in, and explained matters to him. He strove to assume an air of calmness; but his countenance showed the emotions that were working in his mind. We sat down at the table to dinner; but no one seemed inclined to eat, My father
cut some meat on his plate; but instantly pushed it from him. He rose from his seat, and walked about the floor with a rapid paqe. He opened his waistcoat; he seemed suffocating. I could no longer endure to see the convulsive agony with which his whole frame was agitated. I sunk on my knees at his feet, and cried out,' Forgive me, O, father—forgive me!' He looked at me for a moment; then, bursting into tears, he said, 'God forgive you! God forgive you! my poor, unfortunate boy.'"
Our author did not remain long in this country before his regiment was ordered for Jersey, and finally for Portugal. His adventures in the|peninsular war are full of interest, and he gives animated sketches of British valour,—the midnight assault, toilsome marches, and all the perils and privations incident to military life. Our selections must necessarily be insulated, but we will endeavour to fix on "a few of the most striking incidents.
FIRST GOINO INTO BATTLE.
I could scarcely define my feelings during the action; but, so far from feeling fear when it first commenced, and the silent gloom of the night was broken by the rapid flash, and reverberating thunder of the cannon, I felt a sensation something resembling delight; but it was of an awful kind—enthusiasm, ^sublimity, and wonder, mixed with a sense of danger—something like what I have felt in a violent storm.
We had a Highlandman in the company, who had enlisted raw from his native hills, and who, I believe, had never seen any thing of the kind before. When he came for his allowance of the coffee, which was now nearly done, the cook was skimming it off the top very carefully, to avoid stirring up the grounds. Donald, who thought this a scheme to keep all the good part to himself, exclaimed, " Tam your plood! will you'll no gie some o' the sik as well as the sin?" "Oh, certainly," said the cook, (who was a bit of a wag;) and, stirring the grounds well up, he gave him a double proportion. Donald came in, chuckling with satisfaction at having detected the knavery of the cook, saying, "If she'll socht to sheat a Highlandman, she'll be far mistook." And, seeing the rest of his 'comrades breaking bread in their coffee, he did the same: by this time the eye of every one in the tent was on him, scarcely able to refrain from laughing. Donald began to sup it with his spoon; but, after taking two or three spoonfuls, grinding the coffee
grounds" between his teeth, and making Wry faces, he threw the tin, contents and all, out of the tent-door, exclaiming, "Tarn their coffee! you might as weel chow heather, and drink pog water as that teevil's stuff. Gi'e Donal a cog o' brochan before ony o' your tea or coilees either."
A "newly ploughed field, on the face of a hill, was our portion. We got out our blankets, and lay down, expecting to get a comfortable nap, although the weather was rather cold ; but, towards morning, it began to rain so heavily that we were soon wet to the skin. Some, who had a little wisdom in fheirj heads, got up, and packed up their blankets; but others lay'still, until they were literally floated with water and mud, which came rolling in streams down the ridges, in such a way that they could scarcely be distinguished from the soil around. They were then obliged to get up, dripping, and squeeze their blankets in that wet and dirty state into their knapsacks. The rain got heavier, the longer it continued, and we stood huddled together, shivering with cold and wet. At last, an order came for us to march into Torres Vedras; but such a march I never saw, even in the worst of times, afterwards. We were novices in the business, and not yet weather-proof. Had it not been that the town was so near, we would have occupied three or four miles of a line of road, We were so straggled. The ground was of a clayey nature, and, with the rain that fell, it had become like bird-lime. Our feet stuck fast at every step, and our shoes Were actually torn off, and many of them were left lying in the clay. Some were walking barefoot; others'.in their stockings, without shoes; and more had one shoe on, and another carrying in their hand. We were a set of drenched and miserable looking creatures, and the officers were in as bad a plight as ourselves.
We had not long taken up our quarters in the village, where our whole brigade was, when a peasant entered it, driving a flock of sheep before him. In a moment a race was made amongst them by some of the soldiers. Others, stimulated by their example, followed; and, in a few minutes, officers and men'promiscuously could be seen scrambling for the mutton. Dennis joined the throng, and had seized one of them at the same moment that an officer of the Irish regiment in the brigade made a grasp at it. "Give me that sheep, sir," said the officer, in an
authoritative tone. "Arrah, be aisy, honey," said Dennis. "Kill a Hessian for yourself, if you plase."* The officer relinquished his claim, and pursued another. The poor Portuguese shepherd stood like a statue, not knowing well what to do. At last, when he found himself relieved from all his charge, he went away, lamenting and muttering curses on the"ladronesEnglese,"to make his complaint to the general.
GENERAL PICTON'S SERMON. *
The first Sunday after the outrage already related, when the chaplain left his station, general Picton took his place, not to pray but to give us a sermon.
This was the first time he had addressed us. I felt anxious to examine the features of a man who had been so much the public talk on account of his reputed cruelty at Trinidad. I could not deny that I felt a prejudice against him, and his countenance did not do it away; for it had a stern and gloomy expression, which, added to a very dark complexion, made it no way prepossessing; but, when he opened his mouth, and began to pour forth a torrent of abuse on us for our conduct, and his dark eye flashed with indignation as he recapitulated our errors, "hope withering fled, and mercy sighed farewell." He wound up the particular part of his speech addressed to us with— "You are a disgrace to your moral country, Scotland!" That had more weight than all his speech. It sunk deep in our hearts. To separate a Scotchman from his country—to tell him he was unworthy of it—is next to taking away his life*
On the advance to this place, I became acquainted with a lad of the name
of Henry G . While on guard 'with
him one day, I perceived him reading a book, which, on ia«fity, I found to be Cromek's Plains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, which he had borrowed from an officer's servant. Books of any kind were rare amongst us at that time, but one of this description had top much nationality in it, not to be considered a valuable prize in a foreign land. We read the book together, and a similarity of feeling and sentiment, subsequently led to a friendship which continued unimpaired while we remained in the Pe
* A common expression amongst Irishmen. I asked Dennis what it meant. He said that, during the rebellion, a number of Hessian soldiers had been landed in Ireland, and an "United Man," having shot one of them, was busy plundering him, when one of his comrades came and asked share, "kill a Hessian, for yourself, my gay fellow," was the reply, .
Hiasula. In his "romantic turn of mind and acute sensibility, he bore a strong resemblance to my former friend and shipmate, William. He had read a great deal, but like myself, he had read with little discrimination. The effects were nearly the same in both, a propensity to day-dreaming and castle-building. Many a weary mile have we travelled together, almost unconscious of progression, charming the sense of hunger away by anticipating our future honour and preferment, and in forming romantic schemes of rural retirement; when our campaigns were ended, and we had acquired wealth and fame.
. NATIONAL GENEROSITY.
'While here, there was an understanding, I believe, between both armies, that each should have the.use of the river without molestation, and our men and the Trench used to swim in it promiscuously, mixing together, and at times bringing brandy and wine < with them, for the purpose of treating. each other; but though thus friendly to our men, the French soldiers studiously avoided coming near the Portuguese, whom they knew by the dark colour of their skin. This friendly feeling between our soldiers and the French was remarkably displayed during the whole war, whenever we were brought in position close to each other, or either party were taken prisoners, and could only be accounted for by the respect excited by the bravery of.each nation, and a similar generosity of sentiment, for in this the French were not deficient; how different were our feelings in this respect from many of our countrymen at home, whose ideas of the French character were drawn from servile newspapers and pamphlets, or even from so low a source as the caricatures in print shops; but I myself must confess, in common with many others, that I was astonished when I came in contact with French soldiers, to find them, instead ot pigmy spidershanked wretches, who fed on nothing but frogs and beef-tea, stout, handsome looking fellows, who understood the principles of good-living as well as any Englishman amongst us; and whatever may be said' to the contrary, remarkably brave soldiers.
Beyond this village, about two miles, tee encamped by the road-side, and had not been long encamped, when my friend, the corporal of the band, whom I have already mentioned, arrived, bringing with him a child which he had found in a field under peculiar circumstances. As he and a. musician of the 83d regiment were passing aloDg th$ road, $ey were at-:
tracted by the piteous Cries of a French officer, who lay severely wounded in a ditch a short distance from them; he begged, for God's sake, (in his own language,) that they would give him a drink, and as I have already .hinted, P. always ready to follow the dictates of a benevolent heart, gave him some wine from his canteen; it was then dusk, but while he stooped to give the officer the wine, he perceived something moving beneath his cloak, and on drawing it a little aside, he found a fine boy about four years old, dressed in the English fashion, nestled in beside him. Taking him up [in his arms, he asked him his name, when the child replied " James." The officer entered into an explanation of the matter, and P. understood enough of the language, to learn that the child came up the road during a heavy fire while our army and the French were engaged. The officer, who had been wounded a little before, seeing the poor child in imminent danger, and in- the midst of his own sufferings, feeling interested for his fate, had enticed him off the road, and kept him amused until he fell asleep, when hVwrapped him in the corner of his cloak.
<. During our campaigns in the Peninsula, it is almost incredible what the poor women, who followed us, had to endure, marching often in a state of pregnancy, and frequently bearing their children la the open air, in some instances, in the line of march on the road-side; suffering, at the same time, all the privations (to which the army was liable. Having children certainly increased their hardships; but excess of suffering, which tore asunder every other tie, only'rendered maternal love stronger; and it was amazing what hardships were voluntarily endured for the sake of their offspring. I remember one poor fellow of our brigade whose wife died, and left an infant with him of a few months old; and although he might have got one of the women to take care of it, he preferred taking charge of it himself, and for many a day he trudged along with it sitting ou the top of his knapsack.
We have only one remark to make at the conclusion of these volumes. They are much too dear for general circulation. •• If they were brought out at one half the present price, we are persuaded' they would prove much more profitable to those who may have an interest in the sale of them. They would then be accessible to all classes, and from the interesting matter they contain, it is likely they would to universally read.
The spot given in our sketch, however, humble in its appearance, was once the favourite haunt of the celebrated author of the Seasons. On his way from London to Richmond, the bard would often make his halt, and not unfrequently pour out the inspired effusions of his mind, as he sat contemplating the beautiful and majestic Thames, rolling its placid stream beneath the window of the little parlour which looked out upon its banks. It was here, also, that his friend and companion, Arthur Murphy, the celebrated dramatist, would join the poet, and while away the time in converse and familiar chat: and had the shrewd and observing landlord put upon record what he so boastingly used to relate, (to such of his customers who would listen to his narrative,) there might have been an excellent wine and walnut article for the press. But five and twenty, or thirty years ago, these sort of scraps were little thought of.
The place thus chosen by Thomson has, in point of prospect, every thing to recommend it to the admirers of nature, and the lovers of the picturesque. From it may be seen the church, and part of the town of Chiswick. In the churchyard are the tombs of Hogarth, Loutherbourg, and lord Macartney; all of which have their interesting associations, independent of the local advantages of the view; which, when seen as illumined by the rays of the setting sun, presents a subject worthy the pencil of a Wilson or a Claude. The view given in our sketch has part of the Ewe Coffee-house for its.
fore-ground, looking towards Brandenburgh House. But," whether looking to the right or to'the left, from this favoured spot, the eye is presented with an interesting variety of objects, either inJjmotion or at rest.
It cannot, therefore, be" matter of surprise, that Thomson, who fed on the beauties of nature, and who was no less a lover of liberty than of leisure, should occasionally take up his rest, and find himself free from interruption, in the parlour of his little inn: where, as Shenstone has it, both freedom and welcome are to be found:
'* To thee, fair Freedom! I retire,"
Nor art thou found in mansions higher
* * * * .
* * * *
M Whoe'er h*' uavell'd life's dull round,'
Must sigh to think he still has found .
It is no great stretch of imagination to suppose that the trees which now [form an arbour over the benches and tables, the pipes and ale of the visitors, in the present day, might spread their young branches over the heads and beverage of the bard and his companion.* As every day sweeps some interesting object from our sight, it should be the endeavours of the artist
* The name of the landlord who kept the Dove Coffee-house, when visited by Thomson and Arthur Murphy, was James Cade, an observing and intelligent man, and it countryman, of the pard-,
and the [antiquary, to assist in that preservation which the pen or the pencil may afford.
THE DRAMA. I
'It is so long since any thing, even resembling originality, spirit, and taste, has made its appearance at either theatre, that we gladly hail the appearance of any thing of the kind, whether in comedy or farce. We therefore made a point of being one of the audience at Drury-lane, on Saturday last, by no means so much attracted by the Fall of Algiers, the music of which we know by rote, as by the announcement of a new second-piece, a Traditionary Tale, entitled The Shepherd of Derwent • Vale. If, however, we were not wholly disappointed of the pleasure we hoped for, neither were we as satisfied as a perfectly new and ingenious plot and dialogue, sparkling with wit and glowing with humour, would have rendered us. In faot, the fable of The Shepherd of Derwent Vale presented us with but little of incident of any kind, and, in the conduct of the business, less of what can strictly be called new. The situations, though not absolutely destitute of interest, form but a kind of compound of the general ingredients of this species of drama.
Sir Wilfred Wayward, a man of loose life and morals, having caused his elder brother to be exposed in his childhood, he becomes a shepherd in the beautiful vales near Derwent Water, under the name of Shock, marries, has children, and endures all the consequent sufferings of poverty. In the mean while, his cruel brother succeeds to the family wealth and honours, and addresses his vows to the daughter of Lord Derwent. A disturbed conscience, however, haunts his steps, and mars his felichou* prospects. His mind, at length, is in too trenialous a state for him not to be alarmed and scared at every person he meets. At this juncture, an oM soldier appears—a member of the Wayward f* mily, and a sort of Corporal Trim—whose reprobation of his base and unnatural conduct to his brother, literally frightens him out of his wits. The baronet, however, assuming for a moment a false courage, meets, and murderously assaults, the veteran officer in a wood. Fearful of the consequences of this foul deed, he seeks his injured brother, and, by the all-persua-sive powers of gold, prevails on him to.
}rield himself up as the homicide, promising lim his protection. The result of this execrable manoeuvre is, however, exactly, what it should be. Sir Wilfred's villany ii discovered, and the shepherd succeeds to his title and estates.
Shekwin represented," the Shepherd with much nature and truth; and the Old Soldier was justly and spiritedly acted bv YouNGE.with whose performance we were never better pleased. To overlook Miss I. Paton's Matilda, would be inexcusable: she both looked and spoke the^character, and, throughout, acquitted herself with a degree of delicacy and liveliness that could not but delight every spectator. Of the music we cannot speak in very exailted terms. It is, in fact, but sparingly ifnbued with beauty, or with the indications of a creative talent, and will be sufficiently complimented, by our saying, that it is just endurable.
At Covent-garden, Henry'the Fourth, The Belle's Stratagem, the operas of Clari, and of Native Land, were followed by the comedies of A Woman never Vexed, and Farquhar's Inconstant. The most attractive of these were, of course, the second and sixth. The Belle's Stratagem drew a full, though not a crowded house: and the representative of Letitia Hardy had her due portion of applause; though it was not characterised by that enthusiastic description, with which she was hailed on the previous Saturday. There was audible encomium, but its object was changed: the acting, not the actress, engaged the interest felt by the audience ; and.so far, the favourable notices were merited and proper. The play was well given throughout, and went off in a charming style: but the triumph of her with whose private conduct and treatment the town has lately rung, was reserved for Saturday, when, in her favourite character of Oriana, she exerted all her abilities. Though the play of The Inconstant is not a little objectionable, on moral grounds, some of the scenes are skilfully wrought, and the whole is very artificially and interestingly worked up. Of Miss F.'s share in the representation, we have to say, that it was so correct and impressive, as to be highly effective. It was in the opportunities her part afforded her, of giving grace and pathos to the expression uf the tender affections, that she shone superior. In many of such passages, the author himself, had he been living and present, would have been highly gratified. The comedy was well got up, and a crowded auditory testified its satisfaction with the whole performance.
The pantomimes, however limited their merits, and however conspicuous their defects, have long maintained their stations at both theatres; but are now beginning to yield to the more potent, because)more rational, calls of dialogue, wit, and sentiment.