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ADVENTURES OF A BRITISH OFFICER DURING THE PENINSULAR WAR. Captain Colquhouu Grant, a celebrated scouting officer was sent by Lord Wellington to watch Marshal Marmont's proceedings. Attended by Leon, a Spanish peasant of great fidelity and quickness of apprehension, who had been his companion on many former occasions of the same nature, Grant arrived in the Salamancan district, and passing the Tormes in the night, remained, in uniform, for he never assumed any disguise, three days in the midst of the French camp. He thus obtained exact information of Marmont's object, and more especially of his preparations of provisions and scaling ladders, notes of which he sent to Lord Wellington, from day to day, by Spanish agents. However, on the third night, some peasants brought him a general order, addressed to the French regiments, and saying, that the notorious Grant, being within the circle of their cantonments, the soldiers were to use their utmost efforts to secure him, for which purpose, also, guards were placed in a circle round the army. Nothing daunted by this news, Grant consulted with the peasants, and the next morning, before daylight, entered the village of Huerta, which is close to the ford on the Tormes, and about six miles from Salamanca. Here was a French .battalion, and on the opposite side of the river, cavalry vidcttes were posted, two of which constantly patrolled back and forward, for the space of three hundred yards, meeting always at the ford.
When day "broke, the French battalion assembled on its alarm-post, and at that moment Grant was secretly brought with his horse behind the gable of a house, which hid him from the infantry, and was opposite to the ford. The peasants, standing on some loose stones, and spreading their large cloaks, covered him from the cavalry videttes, and thus he calmly waited until the latter were separated to the full extent of their beat; then putting spurs to his horse, he dashed through the ford between them, and receiving their fire without damage, reached a wood not very distant, where the pursuit was ballied, and where he was soon rejoined by Leon, who in his native dress met with no interruption. Grant had already ascertained that the means of storming Ciudad Rodrigo were prepared, and that the French ollicers openly talked of doing so, but he desired still further to test this project, and to discover if the march of the enemy might not finally be directed by the pass of Perales, towards the Tagus; he wished also to ascertain more correctly their real numbers, and therefore placed himself on a wooded hill, near Tamames, where the road branches off to the passes, and to Ciudad Rodrigo. Here lying perdue, until the whole French army had passed, he noted every battalion and gun, and finding that all were directed towards Ciudad, entered Tamames after they had passed, and discovered that they had left the greatest part of their scaling-ladders behind, which clearly proved that the intention of storming Ciudad Rodrigo was not real. This allayed Wellington's fears for th.it fortress. When Marmont afterwards passed the Coa, in this expedition, Grant preceded him, with intent to discover if his march would be by Guarda upon Coimbra, or by Sabugal upon Castallo Branca. Upon one of the inferior ridges in the pass of Peuamacor, this persevering ollicer placed himself, thinking that the dwarf oaks, with which the hills were covered, would effectually secure him from discovery; but from the higher ridge above, the French detected all his movements with their glasses. In a few moments, Leon, whose lynx-eyes were always
on the watch, called out, '•' The French, the French!" and pointed to the rear, whence some dragoons came galloping up. Grant and his follower instantly darted into the wood, for a little space, and then suddenly wheeling, rode off in a different direction, yet at every turn new enemies appeared, and at last the hunted men dismounted, and fled on foot through the thickest of the low oaks: but again they were met by infantry, who had been detached in small parties down the sides of the pass, and were directed in their chase, by the waving of the French officers' hats on the ridge above. At last Leon fell exhausted, and the barbarians who first came up, killed him, in spite of his companion's intreaties. Grant himself, they carried, without injury, to Marmont, who, receiving him with apparent kindness, invited him to dinner. The conversation turned upon the prisoner's exploits, and the French marshal affirmed that he had been for a long time on the watch, that he knew all his haunts, and his disguises, and had discovered, that only the night before, he had slept in the French head-quarters, with other adventures which had not happened, for this Grant never used any disguise; but there was another Grant, also very remarkable in his way, who used to remain for months in the French quarters, using all manner of disguises; hence the similarity of names caused the actions uf both to be attributed to one, which is the only palliation for Marmont's subsequent conduct.
Treating his prisoner, as I have said, with great apparent kindness, the French general exacted from him an especial parole, that he would not consent to be released by the Patridas, while on his journey through Spain to France, which secured his captive, although Lord Wellington offered 2000 dollars to any Guerilla chief who -should rescue him. The exaction of such a parole, however harsh, was in itself a tacit compliment to the man; but Marmont also sent a letter, with the escort, to the governor of Bayonne, in which, still labouring under the error that there was only one Grant, he designated his captive a dangerous spy, who had done infinite mischief to the French army, and whom he had only not executed on the spot, out of respect to something resembling an uniform, which he wore at the time of his capture. He therefore desired, that at Bayonne he should be placed in irons, and sent up to Paris. This proceeding was too little in accord with tha honour of the French army to be supported, and, before the Spanish frontier was passed, Grant, it matters not how, was made acquainted with the contents of the letter. Now the custom at Bayonne, in ordinary cases, was for the prisoner to wait on the authorities, and receive a passport to travel to Verdun, and all this was duly accomplished; meanwhile, the delivery of the fatal letter being, by certain means, delayed, Grant, with a wonderful readiness and boldness, resolved not to escape towards the Pyrenees, thinking he would naturally be pursued in that direction. He judged, that if the governor of Bayonne could not recapture him at once, he would, for liis own security, suppress the letter, in hopes the matter would be no farther thought of; judging, I say, in this acute manner, he, on the instant, inquired at the hotels, if any French officer was going to Paris, and finding that General Souham, then on his return from Spain, was so bent, he boldly introduced himself, and asked permission to join his partv. The other readily assented; and, while thus travelling, the general, unacquainted with Marmont's intentions, often rallied his companion about his adventures, little thinking he was then himself an instrument in forwarding the most dangerous and skilful of them all.
In passing through Orleans, Grant, by a species of intuition, discovered an English agent, and from him received a recommendation to another secret agent in Paris, whose assistance would be necessary to his final escape; for he looked upon Marmont's doubledealing, and the expressed design to take away his life, as equivalent to a discharge of his parole, which was moreover only given with respect to Spain. When he arrived at Paris, he took leave of Souham, opened an intercourse with the Parisian agent, from whom he obtained money, and, by his advice, avoided appearing before the police, to have his passport examined. He took a lodging in a very public street, frequented the coffee-houses, and even visited the theatres without fear, because the secret agent, who had been long established, and was intimately connected with the police, had ascertained that no inquiry about his escape had been set on foot.
In this manner he passed several weeks, at the end of which the agent informed him, that a passport was ready for one Jonathan Buck, an American, who had died suddenly, the very day it was to have been claimed. Seizing this occasion, Grant boldly demanded the passport, with which he instantly departed for the mouth of the Loire, because certain reasons, not necessary to mention, led him to expect more assistance there than at any other port.
However, new difficulties awaited him, and were overcome by fresh exertions of his surprising talents, which fortune seemed to delight in aiding. He first took a passage for America in a ship of that nation, but its departure being unexpectedly delayed, he frankly explained his true situation to the captain, who desired him to assume the character of a discontented seaman, and giving him a sailor's dresa and forty dollars, sent him to lodge the money in the American consul's hands, as a pledge that he would prosecute the captain for ill-usage, when he reached the American States j this being the custom on such occasions, the consul gave him a certificate, which enabled him to pass from port to port, as a discharged sailor seeking a ship. Thus provided, after waiting some days, Grant prevailed upon a boatman, by a promise of ten Napoleons, to row him in the night towards a small island, where, by usage, the English vessels watered unmolested, and in return, permitted the few inhabitants to fish and traffic without interruption. In the night, the boat sailed, the masts of the British ships were dimly seen on the other side of the island, and the termination of his toils appeared at hand, when the boatman, either from fear or malice, suddenly put about, and returned to port. In such a situation, some men would have striven in desperation to force fortune, and so have perished; the spirit of others would have sunk in despair: for the money he had promised, was all which remained of his stock, and the boatman, notwithstanding his breach of contract, demanded the whole; but with inexpressible coolness and resolution, Grant gave him one Napoleon instead of ten, and a rebuke for his misconduct. The other having threatened a reference to the police, soon found he was no match in subtilty for his opponent, who told him plainly, he would then denounce him as aiding the escape of a prisoner of war, and adduce the great price of his boat as a proof of his guilt!
This menace was too formidable to be resisted, and Grant in a few days engaged an old fisherman, who faithfully performed his bargain. But now there were no English vessels near the island; however, trie fisherman cast his nets and caught some fish, •with which he sailed towards the southward, where he had heard there was an English ship of war. In a
few hours they obtained a glimpse of her, and were steering that way, when a shot from a coast-battery brought them to, and a boat with soldiers put off to board them. The fisherman was true; he called Grant his son, and the soldiers, by whom they expected to be arrested, were only sent to warn them not to pass the battery, because the English vessel they were in search of, was on the coast. The old man who had expected this, bribed the soldiers with his fish, assuring them, he must go with his son or they would starve, and that he was so well acquainted with the coast, he could always escape the enemy. His prayers and presents prevailed, he was desired to wait under the battery till night, and then depart j but, under pretence of arranging his escape from the English vessel, he made the soldiers point out her bearings so exactly, that, when darkness came, he ran her straight on board, and the intrepid officer stood in safety on the quarter-deck.
After this Grant reached England, and obtained permission to choose a French officer, of equal rank with himself, to send to France, that no doubt might remain about the propriety of his escape; and great was his astonishment to find, in the first prison he visited, the old fisherman and his real son, who had, meanwhile, been captured, notwithstanding a protection given to them for their services. Grant, whose generosity and benevolence were as remarkable as the qualities of his understanding, soon obtained their release, and, having sent them with a sum of money to France, returned himself to the Peninsula, and, within four months from the date of his capture, was again on the Tormes, watching Marmont's army! This generous and spirited, yet gentle-minded man, having served his country nobly and ably in every climate, died, not long since, ex hausted by the continual hardships he had endured.
[napier's Peninsular War.]
OUR COUNTRY AND OUR HOME TnERE is a land, of ev'ry land the pride, Belov'd by heav'n, o'er all the world beside; Where brighter suns dispense serener light, And milder moons emparadise the night; A land of beauty, virtue, valour, truth, Time-tutor'd age, and love-exalted youth: The wand'ring mariner, whose eye explores The wealthiest isles, the most enchanting shores. Views not a realm so beautiful and fair, Nor breathes the spirit of a purer nir; In ev'ry clime the magnet of his soul, Touch'd by remembrance, trembles to that polo; For in this land of heaven's peculiar grace, The heritage of nature's noblest race, There is a spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest, Where man, creation's tyrant, casts aside His sword and sceptre, pageantry and pride, While in his soften'd looks benignly blend The sire, the son, the husband, father, friend: Here woman reigns; the mother, daughter, wife, Strews with fresh flow'rs the narrow way of life; In the clear heav'n of her delightful eye, An angel-guard of loves and graces lie; Around her knees domestic duties meet, And fireside-pleasures gambol at her feet. "Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found?" Art thou a man ?—a patriot ?—look around; O, thou shalt find, howe'er thy footsteps roam, That land thy country, and that spot thy home.
The water-lily in the midst of waters, lifts up its broad leaves, and expands its petals at the first pattering of the shower, and rejoices in the rain with a quicker sympathy than the parched shrub in the sandy desert. Coleridge.
AN ALLIGATOR HUNT IN CEYLON. In our second volume, we gave some account of the Alligator: we now propose giving a detail of the hunting that formidable creature, as described by Captain Basil Hall. It was got up for the amusement of the Admiral, Sir S. Hood, and performed by a corps of Malays in the British service.
Very early in the morning, the party were summoned from their beds, to set forth on the expedition. In other countries, the hour of getting up may be left to choice; in India, when any thing active is to be done, it is a matter of necessity; for after the sun has gained even a few degrees of altitude, the heat and discomfort, as well as the danger of exposure, become so great, that all pleasure is at an end. The day, therefore, had scarcely begun to dawn, when we all cantered up to the scene of action.
The ground lay as flat as a marsh for many leagues, and was spotted with small stagnant lakes, connected by sluggish streams, scarcely moving over beds of mud, between banks fringed with a rank crop of draggled weeds. The chill atmosphere of the morning felt so thick *od clammy, it was impossible not to think of agues, jungle-fevers, and all the hopeful family of malaria. The hardy native soldiers who had occupied the ground during the night, were drawn up to receive the Admiral, and a very queer guard of honour they formed. The whole regiment had stripped off their uniform, and every other stitch of clothing, save a pair of short trousers, and a kind of sandal. In place of a firelock, each man bore in his hand a slender pole, about six feet in length, to the extremity of which was attached the bayonet of his musket. His only other weapon, was the formidable Malay crease, a sort of dagger, or small two-edged sword.
Soon after the commander-in-chief came to the ground, the regiment was divided into two main parties, and a body of reserves. The principal columns, facing, one to the right, the other to the left, proceeded to occupy different points in one of the sluggish canals, connecting the pools scattered over the plain. These detachments being stationed about a mile from one another, enclosed an interval where, from some peculiar circumstances known only I to the Malays, who arc passionately fond of the sport, the alligators were sure to be found in great numbers. The troops formed themselves across the canals, in three parallel lines, ten or twelve feet apart; but the men in each line stood side by side, merely leaving room enough to wield their pikes. The canal may have been about four or five feet deep, in the middle of the stream, if stream it can be called, which scarcely moved at all. The colour of the water, when undisturbed, was a shade between ink and coffee; but no sooner had the triple line of Malays set themselves in motion, than the consistence and colour, became like those of peas-soup.
On every thing being reported ready, the soldiers planted their pikes before them in the mud, each man crossing his neighbour's weapon, and at the , word "march," away they alL started in full cry, sending forth a shout, or war-whoop, sufficient to curdle the blood of those on land, whatever effect itmay have had on the inhabitants of the deep. As the two divisions of the invading army gradually approached each other in pretty close column, screaming, and yelling, and striking their pikes deep in the slime before them, the startled animals naturally retired towards the unoccupied centre. Generally speaking, the alligators, or crocodiles, had sense enough to turn their long tails upon their assailants, and to scuttle off, as fast as they could, towards the middle
part of the canal. But every now and then, one of the terrified monsters floundered backwards, and, by retreating in the wrong direction, broke through the first, second, and even third line of pikes. This was the perfection of sport to the delighted Malays. A double circle of soldiers was speedily formed round the wretched aquatic who had presumed to pass the barrier. By means of well-directed thrusts with numberless bayonets, and the pressure of some dozens of feet, the poor brute was often fairly driven beneath his native mud. When once there, his enemies halfchoked and half-spitted him, till at last, they put an end to his miserable days, in regions quite out of sight, and in a manner as inglorious as can well be conceived.
The intermediate space was now pretty well crowded with alligators, swimming rbout in the utmost terror, at times diving below, and anon showing their noses above the surface of the dirty stream; or occasionally making a furious bolt, in sheer despair, right at the phalanx of Malays. On these occasions, half-a-dozen of the soldiers were often upset, and their pikes either broken or twisted out of their hands, to the infinite amusement of their companions, who speedily closed up the broken ranks. There were none killed, but many wounded; yet no man flinched in the least.
The perfection of the sport appeared to consist in detaching a single alligator from the- rest, surrounding and attacking him separately, and spearing him till he was almost dead. The Malays, then, by main strength, forked him aloft, over their heads, on the end of a dozen pikes, and, by a sudden jerk, pitched the conquered monster far on the shore. As the alligators are amphibious, they kept to the water no longer than they found they had an advantage in that element; but on the two columns of their enemy closing up, the monsters lost all discipline, floundered up the weedy banks, scuttling away to the right and left, helter-skelter. "Sauvc qui peut!" seemed to be the fatal watch-word for their total rout. That prudent cry would, no doubt, have saved many of them, had not the Malays judiciously placed beforehand their reserve on each side of the river, to receive the distracted fugitive!?, who, bathed in mud, and half dead with terror, but still in a prodigious fury, dashed off at right angles from the canal, in hopes of gaining the shelter of a swampy pool, overgrown with reeds and bulrushes, but which most of the poor beasts were never doomed to reach. The concluding battle between these retreating and desperate alligators, and the Malays of the reserve, was formidable enough. Indeed, had not the one party been fresh, the other exhausted; one confident, the other broken in spirit; it is quite possible that the crocodiles might have worsted the Malays. It was difficult, indeed, to say which of the two looked at that moment the more savage; the triumphant natives, or the flying troop of alligators wallopping away from the water. Many on both sides were wounded, and all covered with slime and weeds. There could not have been fewer than thirty or forty alligators killed. The largest measured ten feet in length, and four feet girth, the head bciug exactly two feet long. Besides these great fellows, a multitude of little ones, nine inches long, were caught alive, many of which, being carried on board, became great favourites amongst the sailors, whose queer taste in the choice of pets has freqently been noticed. [captain Basil Hall.]
Published In Wekk.lt Kvmeeiu, Price One I*ennt, And In Monthly Fabte
UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
EAST INDIA STATIONS.
Benares, or as it is usually styled, "the most holy city," is certainly one of the most interesting cities we possess in the East. It is situated on the left or northern bank of the river Ganges, and is distant 136 miles from Patna, and 380 from Calcutta. It is the capital of an extensive and populous district of Hindostan, which bears the same name, and is remarkable not only for its sacred character, but for the singularity of its structure, its vast wealth, and its immense population.
The ancient name of the city was Cast, the Splendid, but this it afterwards lost, and probably when it fell into the hands of its Mohammedan conquerors. Its present title is said to be derived from the two rivers, the Benar and the Assee, which flow into the Ganges, the one above, and the other below the city. The city itself is very extensive, stretching as it does for several miles along the bank of the Ganges; but extensive as it is, it contains a far larger population than could be anticipated from the space it occupies. By a census taken in the year 1803, the number of the inhabitants was represented as exceeding 582,000, whilst the houses formed of brick and stone were calculated at 12,000, and those of mud at 1 f>,000; and since that period the number of both, and more especially the latter, has considerably increased, the city having extended itself to the neighbouring villages. It is, in fact, without exception, the most populous city in Hindostan.
No written description, however elaborate, can convey even a faint idea of the extraordinary peculiarities of this singular place. Though strictly Eastern in its character, it differs very widely from all the other cities of Hindostan; and it is only by pictorial representations that any adequate notion can be formed of the mixture of the beautiful and grotesque, which, piled confusedly together, form that stupendous wall of buildings which spreads idong the Ganges at Benares. No panoramic view has ever been exhibited of this extraordinary place. The river is about thirty feet below the level of the houses, and is attained by means of numerous ghuuts, or landing-places, which spread their broad steps between fantastic buildings of the most curious description. The confused masses of stone, which crowd upon each other, sometimes present fronts so bare and lofty, as to convey the idea of a prison or a fortress. Others are broken into diminutive pagodas, backed by tall mansions seven stories in height, and interspersed with gothic gateways, towers, and arches, all profusely covered with ornaments, balconies, verandahs, battlements, mullioned windows, balustrades, turrets, cupolas, and round and pointed domes, the fancies of all ages. Since the conquest of the city by Aurungzebe, Mussulman architecture has reared its light and elegant formations amid the more heavy and less tasteful structures of Hindoo creation. From a mosque, built upon the ruins of a heathen temple, spring numerous minarets, which now rank amongst the wonders of the city. Their lofty spires shoot up into the golden sky from a dense cluster of buildings, crowning the barbaric pomp below with graceful beauty.
Notwithstanding its great antiquity, and the sums lavished upon its pagodas, Benares does not boast a single specimen of those magnificent temples which, in other parts of India, convey so grand an idea of the vast conceptions of their founders. Here are no pyramidal masses of fretted stone, no large conical
mounds of solid masonry standing alone to astonish the eye, as at Bindrabund; no gigantic town like the Cootub-Minar, at Delhi, to fill the imagination with awe and wonder; but the whole of this enormous city is composed of details, intermingled with each other without plan or design, yet forming altogether an architectural display of the most striking and imposing character. Amid much that is strange and fantastic, there are numerous specimens of a pure and elegant taste; and the smaller antique pagodas, which abound in every direction, are astonishingly beautiful. The lavish ornaments of richly-sculptured stone, with which they are profusely adorned, give evidence of the skill and talent of the artists of their day; and throughout the whole city a better taste is displayed in the embellishments of the houses than is usually found in the private buildings of India. The florid ornaments of wood and stone, profusely spread over the fronts of the dwelling-houses, bring to the mind recollections of Venice, which Benares resembles in some other particulars: one or two of the lofty narrow streets being connected by covered passages, not very unlike the far'famed Bridge of Sighs.
No European has ever been tempted to take up his abode in the close and crowded city. The military and civil station is about two miles distant, and is called Secrole. There is nothing striking or beautiful in the environs of Benares. The cantonments are flat and destitute of views, but are redeemed from positive ugliness by the groves which surround them. Immediately, however, beyond the military lines, the tract towards the city becomes interesting; several very handsome Mussulman tombs show the increase of the followers of a foreign creed, even in the sacred city of Brahma. A long straggling suburb, composed of houses of singular construction, in every stage of dilapidation, rendered exceedingly picturesque by intervening trees and flowering shrubs, leads to the gate of the city; and a short and rather wide avenue brings the visitor to the chokey, a large irregular square. From this point, vehicles of European construction are useless, and the party must either mount upon elephants, dispose themselves in tonjons, or proceed on foot; and very early in the morning, before the vast population is stirring, the latter affords by far the best method of visiting the temples; but the instant the tide of human beings has poured itself into the narrow avenues, it is expedient to be out of the thickly-gathering throng.
Benares, at day-break, presents less of animated life than most cities of the same magnitude and extent. A few sweepers only appear in the streets, and all the houses are shut up, and give no sign of the multitudes which swarm within. The shops are closely barricaded, the usual mode of fastening them being by a strong chain attached by a large padlock to a staple beneath the threshold. At this early hour, the streets are very clean, and the air of the city is much cooler and fresher than might be expected from its denseness and population. The members of the brute creation are up and abroad with the first gleam of the sun; the Brahmince bulls wander through the streets, monkeys spring from cornice to cornice, and flights of pigeons and paroquets dart from the parapets in every direction. As soon as it is broad day, the priests repair to the temples, and devotees are seen conveying the sacred watar from the Ganges to the several shrines. At the doors of the pagodas, persons are stationed with baskets of flowers for sale. Long rosaries of scarlet, white, or yellow blossoms, seem to be in the greatest request, and are purchased as offerings to the gods; the pavements of the tern