Imágenes de páginas
PDF

Alcock, who was successively Bishop of Rochester, Worcester, and Ely. Of the eminent men educated here, may be mentioned Andrew Marvell; Mason the poet; Dr. Isaac Milner; the late W. Wilberforce, Esq.; and Archdeacon Wrangham. There are also various other schools, several hospitals, and a general Infirmary. The Guild of the Holy Trinity was established by the masters, pilots and seamen of the Trinity House in Hull, in 1369, for the relief of decayed seamen and their widows. The Trinity House, rebuilt in 1753, contains several curiosities from foreign countries, and numerous paintings.

Hull is the birth-place of several persons of distinction, amongst whom are Dr. Thomas Johnson, an eminent physician and botanist; Sir John Lawson a distinguished naval commander in the reign of Charles the Second; Rev. W. Mason the poet, and biographer of Gray; Spence the entomologist; and W. Wilberforce, Esq.

[Abridged from Lewis's Ttrpographical Dictiontry.]

ON BELLS. II.

The shape and material of Bells is different in different countries ; they evidently originated in cymbals or basins, and there was probably a very gradual alteration in their shape. The use of bells implies a certain degree of civilization, for amongst savage tribes, in various parts of the world, they have hardly ever been observed. In Europe bells are made of a compound of copper and tin, called bell-metal, with, occasionally, silver, in very small quantities. The Chinese composition employed in their gongs is more sonorous than any European bell-metal.

The earliest mention of bells is, their being attached to the robes of Aaron, and worn at religious ceremonies; from which we may infer that they were known to the Egyptians in very early times. The ancient Greeks and Romans were certainly well acquainted with the use of bells, and, at Athens, the priest of Proserpine employed them in calling the people to sacrifice. They were hung at the gates of Roman temples on some occasions, and frequently used for domestic purposes. It is not quite certain when bells were first used to summon congregations to the Christian churches; for which purpose trumpets, hammers, and the human voice were anciently employed. Bede mentions a bell being used in a church, A. D. 680. An abbot of Croyland, about the year 1000, made the first attempt at ringing a sort of peal with five bells. They were usually consecrated in honour of some saint, and had different inscriptions and sentences on them.

The custom of tolling bells immediately after deaths, and during funerals, is said to have at first originated in the superstitions of the Pagans relating to demons, whom noise of all kinds was supposed to disturb and scare away. The ringing of bells during eclipses is mentioned by Juvenal, in the time of the Roman Empire, and they were soon applied to superstitious uses in the church. In the "Councils- of Cologne," it is said, "let the bells be blessed as the trumpets of the church militant, by which the people are assembled to hear the word of God; the clergy to announce his mercy by day, and his truth in their nocturnal vigils, that, by their sound, the faithful may be invited to prayer, and that the spirit of devotion in. them may be increased. The fathers have also maintained that demons affrighted by the sound of bells calling Christians to prayer would flee away, and ■when they fled the persons of the faithful would be secure; that the destruction of lightnings would be averted, and the spirits of the storm defeated,"

Perhaps, also, the motive of warning the hearers to pray for the souls of the dead, may, during the prevalence of superstition, have kept up the custom. It soon became the subject of emolument, fees being demanded for ringing the passing bell, and the quality or profession of the person distinguished by the ringing of a certain number of strokes, or of a particular bell. At the present day, St. Paul's Cathedral great bell is only tolled on the death of some of the Royal Family; and at Christ Church College, Oxford, the bell, which is the signal of the shutting of the gates every evening, is said to be tolled as many times as there are students on the Foundation. The custom of muffling bells may have been first introduced out of regard to the nerves of the expiring hearer; in the case of monks and priests, the usual close neighbourhood of the monastery or church bell would seem to favour the idea, and it was afterwards naturally used on all mournful occasions.

The various ceremonies of the Roman Catholic church were accompanied, and often announced, by the ringing of bells, every hour of the day being distinguished, as is still the case in Roman Catholic countries. When the monks were to undergo discipline in their monasteries, a bell called corrigiuncula, "the little correctress," was rung. Bells were sometimes suspended to the necks of criminals when undergoing punishment.

To deprive a town of its bells was a mark of degradation sometimes inflicted for revolt. A bell taken from Calais by Henry the Fifth, is still in the steeple of his native town, Monmouth. Music-bells, worked by machinery, or chimes, are preserved in many towns in England, Germany, and the Netherlands, in which country they are very fine. At Antwerp there are thirty-three in the cathedral tower; their sound is harmonious, and foreign chimes, in general, have a much more brilliant execution than those of England. The custom of ringing peals of bells, by persons trained to the employment, is almost entirely confined to England; it has not even extended to America j it is far superior to the inharmonious jangle of bells of all sizes in foreign towns. In 1550 ringing bells by way of rejoicing was common in England.

The use of a very large bell as an alarm-bell, has been for ages common to the continental cities of Europe. The great bell of St. Mark's, at Venice, was used for this purpose, and "Sound your trumpets and we will ring our bells," was the well-known defiance of the chief magistrate of the Florentine Republic to the German Emperor. In French History, we are but too familiar with the ringing of the tocsin, which was used in the late revolution, as the signal of civil war; whilst in our own fortunate country, which for many hundred years has never seen a hostile army, and for nearly a century has escaped civil war, the curfew alone preserves the memory of less fortunate times, and our bells serve only to call us to the worship of our Maker and Saviour, to tell of the departure of a friend or neighbour, to increase the festivities of a marriage, a birth, or a coming of age, to commemorate past deliverances, or triumphs, or to announce new causes for national gratitude to the Giver of all good.

As bells were of old the subject of pious donations, he who could give the greatest gift had the greatest merit, which tended more than any thing else to produce bells of very great size. We read of a bell in the time of Edward the Third, weighing 33,000 pounds weight. The great bell of St. Ivan's tower, at Moscow, is upwards of forty feet in circumference and sixteen inches thick, and weighs above fifty tons. There are said to be seven bells at Pekin, each

115—2

weighing 120,000 pounds, but their tone is poor, the clappers being of wood. In the year 1497, a bell was cast at Erfurth, in Germany, weighing 252,000 pounds, which was the largest bell ever hung, the great bell of Moscow*, (not that in St. Ivan's tower previously mentioned,) never having been hung.

In troublesome times, it has often happened, that church bells were melted down and Coined. In many parts of the Continent, more particularly in France, a coinage of this metal, struck in the time of the Revolution of 1792, may still be seen. * See Saturday Magaiitu, Vol. III., p. 7.

THE SABBATH BELL.

The Sabbath bell! the Sabbath bell!

To toil-worn men a soothing sound;
Now labour rests beneath its spell.

And holy stillness reigns around-.
The ploughman's team, the thresher's flail,

The woodman's axe, their clamours cease.
And only nature's notes prevail,

To humble bosoms echoing peace. The Sabbath bell! the Sabbath bell!

How sweet on ears devout it falls; While its sweet chime, with varying swell.

The rich and poor to worship calls. Hark! hark! again with sharper peals,

It chides the laggard's fond delay; Now through the vale it softly steals.

To cheer the timely on their way.

The Sabbath bell! the Sabbath bell!

W hat soul-awakening sounds we hear; Its blessed invitations tell

Of welcome to the house of prayer. "Come, sinner, come," it seems to cry;

"O, never doubt thy Maker's love; "Christ has thy ransom paid, then why

"Delay his clemency to prove 1"

The Sabbath bell! the Sabbath bell!

Oft have we heard its warning chime, And yet we love the world too well,

Nor feel our waywardness a crime:
Yet still thy calls, sweet bell, repeat,

Till, ended all our mortal strife,
In hand-built shrines no more we meet.

But worship in the realms of life.

The Sabbath bell! the Sabbath bell!

Its friendly summons peals no more;
The thronging crowds pour in with zeal

The Great Jehovah to adore.
Hence! fancy wild, hence! earth-born care;

With awe let hallowed courts be trod j
Wake all the soul to love and prayer,

And reverence the present God! R. M.

ILLUSTRATIONS OF LIGHT.

Sir Charles Bell has described some curious phenomena in optics, which will be very easily comprehended by the previous knowledge of two or three acknowledged facts.

Vision or sight is produced by the rays of light, (which fall from the sun or any other source of light, on an object,) being rtflected from thence, so as to fall on the retina or back part of the eye: thus the moon is seen by the rays of light (which fall on it from the sun), being reflected back to the eye, and a tree, a house, or any other object is seen by the daylight (which falls on the tree or the house), being in like manner reflected on the eye.

A ray of light is compounded of many rays, and may be divided into seven, capable of causing to the eye the sensation of so many different colours; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. If all these are reflected together, they produce on the retina the sensation of white, as from this paper. If these colours in their proper order and proportion, be painted on the broad rim of a wheel, and that wheel be swiftly turned round, it will appear of an. uniform and white colour. Black is the absence oe all colour, when the rays are all absorbed and none reflected.

The separation of a ray of light into colours is a beautiful experiment, and easily performed. Get a prism, which may be procured at any optician's for a trifle; it is a piece of glass a few inches in length, with three sides, in the form of a triangle.

To lose an old friend, is to be cut off from a great part of the little pleasure that this life allows. But such is the condition of our nature, that as we live on, we must see those whom we love drop successively, and find our circle of relations grow less and less, till we are almost unconnected with the world; and then it must soon be our turn to drop into the grave. There is always this consolation, that we have one Protector who can never be lost but by our own fault, and every new experience of the uncertainty of all other comforts, should determine us to fix our hearts where true joys are to be found. All union with the inhabitants of earth must in time be broken; and all the hopes that terminate here, must on one part or other, end in disappointment.—Johnson.

On The Death Of His Brother, Bt Bishop Hbher.

Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee I
Though sorrow and darkness encompass the tomb;

The Saviour has passed through its portals before thee,
And the lamp of his love is thy guide through the gloom.

Thou art gone to the grave, we no longer behold thee,
Nor tread the rough paths of the world by thy side;

But the wide arms of mercy are spread to enfold thee.
And sinners may hope since the Sinless hath died.

Thou art gone to the grave, and its mansion forsaking,

Perchance thy weak spirit in doubt lingered long;
But the sunshine of heaven beamed light on thy waking.

And the sound which thou heard'st was the seraphim's song.
Thou art gone to the grave, but 'twere vain to deplore thee,

When God was thy ransom, thy guardian, thy guide;
He gave thee, He took thee, and He shall restore thee,

And Death hath no sting since the Saviour hath died.

[graphic]

Suspend this prism A B C, at a hole r in the closed window-shutter K G, So that a beam of light s from the sun may pass through, and be received on a paper attached to the opposite wall M N. The image of the sun will appear on the paper at Pt, of an. oblong form, rounded at the extremities and straight at the edges; this image is called the prismatic spectrum, the principal part of which will be composed of seven parallel spaces of different breadths, and exhibiting seven different colours. The lowest colour is red, and above it appears successively, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, which is the highest coloured space. If we suppose the coloured part of the spectrum to be divided into one hundred parts, the red space is found to occupy eleven of those parts, the orange eight, the yellow fourteen, the green seventeen, the blue seventeen, the indigo eleven, and the violet twenty-two.

The retina is the internal coat of the eye, it consists of a delicate pulpy nervous matter, which is contained between two membranes of extreme fineness, and these membranes both support it, and give to its surfaces a smoothness mathematically correct. The matter of the nerves, as well as their supporting membranes, are perfectly transparent during life. Vision is not excited by light, unless the rays penetrate through the transparent retina, and reach the exterior surface from within. The retina is subject to exhaustion. When a coloured ray of light impinges continuously on the same part of the retina, the retina becomes less sensible to it, but more sensible to a ray of the opposite colour. When the eye is fixed upon a point, the lights, shades, and colours of objects continuing to strike upon the same relative parts of the retina, the nerve is exhausted: but when the eye shifts, there is a new exercise of the nerve. The part of the retina that was opposed to the lights, is now opposed to the shades, and what was opposed to the different colours, is now opposed to other colours, and the variation in the exciting cause produces a renewed sensation. From this it appears, how essential the incessant searching motion of the eye is to the continued exercise of the organ.

The familiar fact which we have to carry with us mto this inquiry, is, that if we throw a silver coin upon a dark table, and fix the eye upon the centre of the coin, when we remove the coin there is, for a moment, a white spot in its place, which presently becomes deep black. If we put a red wafer, upon a sheet of white paper, and look upon it, and continue to keep the eye fixed upon the same point, upon removing the wafer, the spot where it lay on the white paper will appear green. If we look upon a green wafer in the same manner, and remove it, the spot will be red; if upon blue or indigo, the paper will seem yellow. These phenomena are to be explained, by considering that the nerve is exhausted by the continuance of the impression, and becomes more apt to receive sensation from an opposite colour. All the colours of the prism come into the eye together from the surface of the white paper, when the wafer is removed; but if the nerve has been exhausted by the incidence of the red rays upon it, it will be insensible to these red rays when they are thus reflected together with the others from the white paper; the effect of the rays of an opposite kind will be increased, and, consequently, the spot will be no longer white, but of the prevailing green colour.

Let us see how the loss of sensibility produces an effect in engraving, where there is no colour, and only light and shade.

[graphic]

Is it possible that a high tower, in a cloudless iky, can be less illuminated at the top than at the bottom? Yet, if we turn to a book of engravings, where an old steeple or tower is represented standing up against the clear sky, we shall find, that all the higher part is dark, and that the effect is picturesque and pleasing. Now this is perfectly correct, for though the highest part of the tower be in the brightest illumination, it is not seen so: it never appears so to the eye,. The reason is_ that when we

look to the steeple, a great part of the retina is opposed to the light of the sky; and on shifting the eye to look at the particular parts of the steeple, the reflected light from that object falls upon the retina, where it is exhausted by the direct light from the sky. If we look to the top of the tower, and then drop the eye on some of the lower architectural ornaments, the effect infallibly is, that the upper half of the tower is dark. For example, if looking to the point A, fig. 2, we drop the eye to u: the tower from A to B is seen by that part of the retina which was opposed to the clear sky from A to C; and it is dark, not by contrast, as it would be thoughtlessly said, but by the nerve being somewhat exhausted of its sensibility. L. C.

[hei.l'j Bridgewater 7Y«ittM.]

The following facts are recorded as a proof of the thirst of the Irish for knowledge, and the difficulties which are overcome by perseverance.

Children have been known to acquire the first elements of reading, writing, and arithmetic, without a book", without a pen, without a slate! And, indeed, the place of meeting was no other than a grave-yard. The long flat stones with their inscriptions, were used instead of books, while a bit of chalk, and the gravestones together, served for all the rest. Take the following as a specimen of what has been acquired, without the intervention of the English language, and when it could not be attained. Mr. Patriok Lynch, with whom the writer once bad an opportunity of conversing, was, it appears, bom near Quin, in the county of Clare, in the year 1757. He was educated near Ennis, by Donough an Charrain, i. e. Dennis of the Heap. His master knew no English, and young Lynch learned the classics through the medium of the Irish language. Alter acquiring in this way, an excellent knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, he was compelled, by family misfortunes, to turn farmer, and for five years held a plough. From this employment he was happily relieved, and was subsequently able to better his condition. Six years he passed as a tutor in a gentleman's family, and after sundry experiments of the same kind, he settled at Carrick on Suir. Here he commenced author. He had written a Chronoscope, but had no means of publishing it. In concert with a barber in the town, he procured some types, and by means of a bellows-press, he actually set and printed his first work with his own bands, and established the first printing press ever seen in that place. He next wrote and published at that place, a Pentaglot Grammar, in which he instituted a comparison between English, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Irish; correcting several errors in the Saxon etymologies of Johnson. From Carrick he removed to Dublin, where his abilities were soon recognised. He was one of the first persons employed under the record commission, and was afterwards engaged in investigating the records of Ireland. He was secretary to the Gaelic Society of Dublin, and among various publications, before his death, was employed in a geographical and statistical history of Ireland. Anderson's Sketches of Ancient Native Irish. L. C

At Muscat, wo were visited by men of all nations and colours. I was principally attracted by the appearance and manners of some Arabs from the interior, who were brought on board by their countrymen, to see an English ship-of-war. Their figures were light and elastic, their countenances expressed quickness and energy. The most remarkable of their features were their dark rolling eyes, which perhaps struck me more from their wandering rapidly from one object to another, glistening with wonder at all they saw. A good telescope happened to be placed so as to give a complete view of one of the farthest fortifications. I called an Arab to look through it, and he did so for about a minute, then gazed with the most eager attention at me; and, without saying a word, dashed over the ship's side. When the boat he was in got to a little distance, he exclaimed, "You are magicians, and I now see how you take towns; that thing (pointing to the telescope), be they ever so far off, brings them as near as you like." We were much amused with his simplicity, but no arguments could prevail on him to return and receive such a lesson on optics as might dispel his delusion in supposing us to be adepts in the black art,"—Sketches of Persia.

Or every community, as it has pleased God to ordain in the present constitution of things, the poor must always form a very considerable majority. The necessities of mankind could never else be supplied; for the rich will not labour, but they are constrained to pay those, who, for their own and the common pood, can and will labour. In return for these services, the rich, if they were wise, should do every thing in their power, to make and keep the poor honest, virtuous, and religious; to instruct, or procure them to he instructed, in the knowledge and practice of their duty to God and man; more especially, to set them a proper example. This would he to act the part of wise men, as well as good men. For when the religious principle is once perished and gone in the poor, human laws will lose their effect, and be set at nought.

I will mention a .remarkable instance of this, well attested. A servant, who had made the improvement that might be expected, from hearing the irreligious and blasphemous conversation continually passing at the table where it was his place to wait, took an opportunity to rob his master. Being apprehended, and urged to give a reason for this infamous behaviour, " Sir," said he, " I had heard you so often talk of the impossibility of a future state, and that after death there was no reward for virtue, nor punishment for vice, that I was tempted to commit the robbery." "Well, but," replied the master, " had you no fear of that death which the laws of your country inflict upon the crime?" "Sir," rejoined the servant, looking sternly at his master, " what is that to you, if I had a mind to venture that? You had removed my greatest terror, why should I fear the less?" Bishop Hornj.

To the righteous at the last great day, the Judge will say "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." When the trial is ended, and the final allotments of angels and men are determined, flaming fire from the presence of the Judge will kindle this great world with a universal conflagration. All the works of man; his palaces, towers, and temples; his villages, towns, and cities; his wonderful displays of art, his haughty piles of grandeur, and his vast labours, of defence and dominion, will be lighted up in a single blaze, and vanish from the creation. Nor will the desolation be limited to the works of man. The earth on which we stand, the hills and mountains, the valleys and plains, the lakes, the rivers, shall all pass away; "And like the baseless fabric of a vision, leave not a wreck behind." Dwioht.

The good make a better bargain, and the bad a worse, than is usually supposed; for the rewards of the one, and the punishments of the other, not unfrequently begin on this side of the grave; for vice has more martyrs than virtue; and it often happens that men suffer more to be lost, than to be saved. But admitting that the vicious may happen to escape those tortures of the body, which are so commonly the wages of excess and of sin, yet in that calm and constant sunshine of the soul, which illuminates the breast of the good man, vice can have no competition with virtue. "Our thoughts," says an eloquent divine, "like the waters of the sea, when exhaled towards heaven! will lose all their bitterness and saltness, and sweeten into an amiable humanity, until they descend in gentle showers of love and kindness upon our fellow-men." Colton.

Who that has languished, even in advanced life, in sickness and despondency: who that has pined on a weary bed in the neglect and loneliness of a foreign land: but has thought on the Mother "that looked on his childhood," that smoothed his pillow, and administered to his helplessness. Oh! there is an enduring tenderness in the love of a Mother to a Son, that transcends all other affections of the heart. It is neither to be chilled by selfishness, nor daunted by danger, nor weakened by worthlessness, nor stilled by ingratitude. She sacrifices every comfort to his convenience; she surrenders every pleasure to his enjoyment; she glories in his fame, and exults in his prosperity; and, if adversity overtake him, he becomes even more dear to her by misfortune; and if disgrace settle upon his name, she will still love and cherish him • and if all the world beside cast him off, she will be all the world to him, W. J

THE WELLINGTON SHIELD.

No. IV. The Passage Of The Douro.

The battle of Vimiera, which is described in our last paper, was soon followed by the celebrated convention of Cintra, under which the French agreed to evacuate Portugal upon certain conditions.

A short time previous to this evacuation, Napoleon had sustained severe reverses in Spain. An army of 18,000 men, under General Dupont, had surrendered to the Spaniards; the Emperor's brother, Joseph, whom he had placed on the throne of that kingdom, had abandoned Madrid, and fled to the north; and two of his generals had been successfully resisted, in an attempt to capture the city of Zaragoza, whose heroic inhabitants had compelled their assailants to abandon its siege, by one of the most memorable defences recorded in history. The spirit of the usurper was roused, and the successes of the English in Portugal served only to animate him still further. He resolved at once to crush the nations of the Peninsula, and, to use his own expression, "to destroy the armies which the English had disembarked in that country." His means were mighty indeed, and they were guided by a powerful hand, and a hand, too, not restrained by any of those ties of honour or humanity which operate on ordinary men. Early in November he burst through the Pyreuees, at the head of 300,000 valiant soldiers,—men inured to battle, and gathered from among the countless hosts which he had spread over Europe. Not a month had elapsed before he was quietly seated in Madrid; and he then began to move his armies towards Portugal, to execute his threat of driving the English from the Peninsula, In the mean while a British army, under Sir John Moore, was advancing towards the north of Spain, and threatened the French line of operations on the side of Burgos. The whole of Napoleon's force was instantly bent^to that quarter, and the result was the celebrated retreat to Corufia, which ended in the battle at that place, and the death of the English general, Sir John Moore.

By this movement of the British, Lisbon was saved from a second subjugation; for Napoleon, having been recalled to France by the news of an approaching rupture with Austria, had left the completion of his designs upon that city to Marhal Soult. The English government now made preparations for sending another army to Portugal, the command of which was given to Sir Arthur Wellesley. Large bodies of troops were collected, consisting partly of the regiments which had returned from Corufia, and partly of others which had not yet seen service; and these, as they severally became complete, were sent off to Lisbon, where Sir John Cradock was in command with a small force. Sir Arthur Wellesley landed in that city on the 22nd of April, 1809, and his arrival created the greatest enthusiasm in Portugal. Every town throughout the kingdom, of which the French were not in possession, was illuminated for three successive nights, and the Regency made him Marshal-General of their Portuguese troops.

The new commander had soon formed his plans, yet he was not hasty in his decision, for his situation was one of some difficulty. In the north Soult held Oporto with 24,000 men, while Victor, at the head of 30,000, was hovering over the Alemtejo frontier on the west: if he advanced against either of these generals, he had to fear that the other would, in his absence, seize Lisbon. With his usual promptitude, Sir Arthur Wellesley determined at once to attack Soult, and drive him out of Portugal; then turning to the south, he designed to co-operate with, the Spaniards, under their General, Cuesta, and fall upon Victor. The main body of the army was directed upon Coimbra; and by the 5th of May, 25,000 troops were there concentrated, of which 9000 were Portuguese, 3000 Germans, and the remainder British.

At this time, there existed in Soult's army, one of those secret societies of Philadelphes, which grew out of Napoleon's military tyranny, and which had for their object, to hurl him from his throne, and erect a democracy in the place of his despotism. The conspirators were numerous in' Soult's army, and their chief was the Sieur d'Argenton, whom Mr. Southey describes as one worthy to have fallen on better times, "for he was a man of kind and generous affections, at once firm of purpose, and gentle of heart." This person visited Sir Arthur Wellesley twice; but when he returned from his second visit, he found himself suddenly arrested; Soult had learnt all his designs, and now offered him pardon if he would disclose the names of the other conspirators, and relate truly, what he had seen of the English and Portuguese armies. D'Argenton firmly refused to betray his confederates, but openly told all that he knew of the dispositions and intentions of the enemy. Owing to the foresight of Sir Arthur Wellesley, his information was of small import; yet scanty as it was, it was more than enough to rouse the suspicions of so vigilant a man as Soult. The marshal at once saw all the perils of his position, and he met them with his wonted firmness. It was evident, that he must no longer think of remaining in Portugal, and to secure his retreat into Spain, became therefore his first object. Orders were sent to General Loison, as he valued the safety of the army, to hold fast to the bridge at Amarante, by which the French would have to cross the Tamega; the greater part of the guns and stores were directed to the same quarter, and every preparation was made for retreat. But the arrangements of the British general had already begun to work, and Soult found that he had an active enemy to cope with.

Sir Arthur Wellesley advanced by two different routes. Directing Marshal Beresford to turn the enemy's left, he himself, with the main body of his army, marched upon their right. A well-conceived attempt to surprise the French on the 9 th, having failed, they were openly attacked, and compelled to draw back; the whole of the 10th was spent in fighting and retreating, " a blow and a race," as Colonel Napier describes it; both armies, in the mean while, rapidly nearing the Douro. The British halted at dark, but the French, continuing their retreat, passed the Douro in the night, and immediately afterwards broke down the bridge. All the boats and barges in the river were secured on the Oporto side, and guards were stationed at the most convenient points; all the artillery and baggage remaining in Oporto, were sent off along the intended line of retreat, and Soult himself proposed to stay only until after the 12th; thinking that, with a river like the Douro in his front, he was safe from attack for that short space of time.

The Douro is a deep and rapid stream, longer in its course than any other in the Peninsula, and rolling a larger volume of waters into the sea than the Tagus. It is more than 300 yards wide at Oporto, and its banks on either side are steep and rocky. Just before it enters the city, it sweeps round the base of a lofty height on the south bank, which is crowned by the buildings and gardens of the convent of S. Agostinho da Serra, and which completely screens the city from all view of the upper part of the river. Beneath the shelter of this hill the whole of the

British force was assembled in one mass, early on the morning of the 12th. The general himself mounted to the summit, and, "with an eagle's glance," scanned every object on the bank occupied by the enemy. Few French troops were to be seen, and there was every indication of the enemy's ap. proaching departure. Sir Arthur felt that he must be quick, or the prize would escape him, yet how to pass the river was the question. A large unfinished building, standing alone, and surrounded by a high stone wall, running down to the water's edge, soon fixed his attention, as affording a good position for those who should land first, until they could be supported; here then he resolved to cross.

"A boat," says Colonel Napier, "was soon obtained; for a poor barber of Oporto, evading the French patroles, had, during the night, come over the water in a small skiff. This being discovered by Colonel Waters, a staff-officer, of a quick and daring temper, he and -the barber, and the prior of Amarante, who gallantly offered his aid, crossed the river, and, in half an hour, returned, unperceived, witk three or four large barges. Meanwhile eighteen or twenty pieces of artillery were got up to the convent of Serra; and Major-General John Murray, with the German brigade, some squadrons of the 14th Dragoons, and two guns, reached the Barca de Avintas, three miles higher up the river, his orders being to search for boats, and to effect a passage there also, if possible. Some of the British troops were now sent towards Avintas, to support Murray, while others came cautiously forward to the brink of the river. It was ten o'clock j the enemy were tranquil and unsuspicious; and an officer reported to Sir Arthur Wellesley, that one boat was brought up to the point of passage;—" Well, let the men cross," was the reply; and, upon this simple order, an officer and twenty-five soldiers, of the Buffs, entered the vessel, and, in a quarter of an hour, were in the midst of the French army.

"The building was thus gained without any alarm being given, and every thing was still quiet in Oporto; not a movement was to be seen; not a hostile sound was to be heard: a second boat followed the first, and then a third passed a little higher up the riv*r; but scarcely had the men from the last landed, when a tumultuous noise of drums and shouts arose in the city; confused masses of the enemy were seen hurrying forth in all directions, and throwing out clouds of skirmishers, who came furiously down upon the building. The citizens were seen making signals from their houses, and the British troops instantly crowded to the bank of the river.

The troops in the unfinished building maintained their ground; the Douro was quickly covered with boats, which the exulting citizens eagerly brought; and as Murray's troops were seen descending the right bank from Avintas, a loud shout in the town, and the waving of handkerchiefs from all the windows, gave notice that the enemy had abandoned the lower part of the city.

The French hastily retreated, and as they pased along by the seminary wall, a deadly fire of musketry from within, tore open terrible gaps in their confused and massy columns. In the mean while Sherbrooke's men had crossed the river into the town, and hastening up the steep streets with "blessings breathed upon them, and shouts of triumphant gratulation and convulsive laughter, mingled with the tears and prayers that greeted them," came upon the enemy's rear, just as the drivers of five pieces of French artillery had pulled up hesitatingly, appalled by the line of musketry which they had to pass;—a volley

« AnteriorContinuar »