Imágenes de páginas



CHAP. their last act was to blow up the church of St.

Engracia; the powder was placed in the subter

ranean church, .. and this remarkable place, .. August.

this monument of fraud and of credulity, .. the splendid theatre wherein so many feelings of deep devotion had been excited, .. which so many thousands had visited in faith, and from which unquestionably many had departed with their imaginations elevated, their principles ennobled, and their hearts strengthened, was laid in ruins. In the morning the French columns, to the great surprise of the Spaniards, were seen at a distance, retreating over the plain, on the road to Pamplona.

The history of a battle, however skilfully narrated, is necessarily uninteresting to all except military men; but in the detail of a siege, when time has destroyed those considerations, which prejudice or pervert our natural sense of right and wrong, every reader sympathizes with the besieged, and nothing, even in fictitious narratives, excites so deep and animating an interest. There is not, either in the annals of ancient or of modern times, a single event recorded more worthy to be held in admiration, now and for evermore, than the siege of Zaragoza. Will it be said that this devoted people obtained for themselves, by all this heroism and all these sacrifices, nothing more than a short' respite from their fate? Woe be to the slavish heart that conceives the thought, and shame to the base tongue that gives it utterance! They


1808. August.

purchased for themselves an everlasting remem- CHAP. brance upon earth, .. a place in the memory and love of all good men in all ages that are yet to come. They performed their duty; they redeemed their souls from the yoke; they left an example to their country, never to be forgotten, never to be out of mind, and sure to contribute to and hasten its deliverance.

One of the first cares of Palafox, after the delivery of the city, was, to establish a board of health to provide against the effects of putrefaction, . . such was the number of French who were left dead in the houses and in the streets. Pamplona, whither the wreck of their army retreated, was for many days filled with carts full and horse-loads of wounded, who arrived faster and in greater number than they could be lodged in the hospitals and convents. It was equally shocking to humanity to behold their sufferings, and the cruel regardlessness of their comrades, who, while these wretches were fainting for want of assistance and of food, and literally dying in the streets, were exposing their booty to sale, and courting purchasers for church plate, watches, jewels, linen, and apparel, the plunder which they had collected in Navarre and Aragon; and which, in their eagerness to convert into money, they were offering at a small part of their value. There were, however, scarcely any purchasers except for the church-plate, which was bought for the purpose of restoring it, at the same cost, to the churches and monasteries from whence it had been stolen.


1808. August.

The temper of the Zaragozans after their victory was not less heroic than their conduct during the struggle. It might have been expected that some degree of exhaustion would have succeeded the state of excitement to which they had been wrought; and that the widowed, the childless, and they who were left destitute, would now have lamented what they had lost, or, at least, that they themselves had not perished also. This, however, was not so. Mr. Vaughan visited Zaragoza a little while after the siege, and remained there during several weeks : he saw (they are his own impressive words) “ many a parent who had lost his children, and many a man reduced from competence to poverty, but he literally did not meet with one human being who uttered the slightest complaint: every feeling seemed to be swallowed

up in the memory of what they had recently done, and in a just hatred of the French.” These are the effects of patriotism, aided and strengthened by religion : its influence, thus elevated and confirmed, made women and boys efficient in the time of action, and the streets of a city not less formidable to an invader than the best constructed works of defence. Let not the faith which animated the Aragonese be called superstition, because our Lady of the Pillar, Santiago, and St. Engracia, were its symbols. It was virtually and essentially religion in its inward life and spirit; it was the sense of what they owed equally to their forefathers and their children ; the knowledge that their cause was as righteous as any for which an injured and in

[ocr errors]



sulted people ever rose in arms; the hope that CHAP. by the blessing of God upon that cause they might succeed; the certain faith that if they

August. fell, it was with the feeling, the motive, and the merit of martyrdom. Life or death therefore became to the Zaragozans only not indifferent, because life was useful to the cause for which they held it in trust, and were ready to lay it down: they who fell expired in triumph, and the survivors rather envied than regretted them. The living had no fears for themselves, and for the same reason they could have no sorrows for the dead. The whole greatness of our nature was called forth, .. a power which had lain dormant, and of which the possessors themselves had not suspected the existence, till it manifested itself in the hour of trial.

When the dead were removed, and the ruins sufficiently cleared, Ferdinand was proclaimed with all the usual solemnities; a cere- August 20. mony, at other times attended with no other feeling than such as sports and festivity occasion, now made affecting by the situation of Ferdinand himself, and the scene which surrounded the spectators ; walls blackened with fire, shattered with artillery, and stained with blood. The obsequies of the Spaniards who had August 25. fallen were next performed with military honours, and their funeral oration pronounced from the pulpit. The brave priest Santiago Sass was made chaplain to the commander in chief, and Palafox gave him a captain's commission.





CHAP. These were times when the religion of Matta

thias and the Maccabees was required; and the 1808. priest of the altar was in the exercise of his

duty, when defending it, sword in hand, in the field. A pension was settled upon Augustina, and the daily pay of an artilleryman. She was also to wear a small shield of honour embroidered upon the sleeve of her gown, with Zaragoza inscribed upon it. Tio Jorge was killed during the siege. Other persons, who had distinguished themselves, were rewarded; and the general reward which Palafox conferred upon the Zara

gozan people, is strongly characteristic of Spanish Sept. 20. feeling. By his own authority, and in the name of

Ferdinand, he conferred upon all the inhabitants of the city and its districts, of both sexes and of all ranks, the perpetual and irrevocable privilege of never being adjudged to any disgraceful punishment by any tribunal for any offence, except for treason or blasphemy.

« AnteriorContinuar »