« ПретходнаНастави »
THE LAST SIGH OF THE MOOR.
The Spaniards gave this name (" The Last Sigh of the Moor") to the eminence from which, after their expulsion,
the Moorish king and his followers took their farewell view of Grenada.
BENIGHTED once where Alpine storms Firm in the tempest's awful wrath,
Serene beneath the summer skies.
One dear companion of that night
Has passed away from human sight. The savage snow-cliffs seemed to frown; He reached his home to droop and The howling winds came fiercer down;
fade, Shrouded in such a dismal scene,
And sleep within his native glade; No mortal aid whereon to lean,
But as his fluttering hand I took, Think you what music 'twas to hear,
Before he gave his farewell look, “I see the Cross ! our way is clear!”
He whispered from his bed of pain,
The Alpine Cross I see again !” We looked, and there, amid the snows, Then, smiling, sank to endless rest, A simple cross of wood uprose;
Upon his weeping mother's breast.
J. T. FIELDS. • A chevron is a certain mark used in heraldry.
DEATH OF SIR JOHN MOORE.
As the troops approached Coruña, the general's looks were directed towards the harbour; but an open expanse of water painfully convinced him that to Fortune, at least, he was no way beholden; contrary winds still detained the fleet at Vigo, and the last consuming exertion made by the army was rendered fruitless ! The men were put into quarters, and their leader awaited the progress of events.
The bridge of El Burgo was destroyed, and also that of Cambria, situated a few miles up the Mero River; but the engineer employed at the latter, mortified at the former failures, was so anxious to perform his duty in an effectual manner, that he remained too near the mine, and was killed by the explosion. Meanwhile three divisions occupied the town and suburbs of Coruña, and the reserve was posted near the village of El Burgo. For twelve days these hardy soldiers had covered the retreat; during which time they had traversed eighty miles of road in two marches, passed several nights under arms in the snow of the mountains, were seven times engaged with the enemy, and now assembled at the outposts, having fewer men missing from the ranks, including those who had fallen in battle, than any other division in the army-an admirable instance of the value of good discipline, and a manifest proof of the malignant injustice with which Sir John Moore has been accused of precipitating his retreat beyond the measure of human strength.
The town of Coruña, although sufficiently strong to oblige an enemy to break ground before it, was weakly fortified, and to the southward commanded by some heights close to the walls. Sir John Moore therefore caused the land front to be strengthened, and occupied the citadel, but disarmed the sea face of the works; and the inhabitants cheerfully and honourably joined in the labour, although they were fully aware that the English intended to embark, and that they would incur the enemy's anger by taking
a part in the military operations. Such flashes of light from the dark cloud which at this moment covered Spain may startle the reader, and make him doubt if the Spaniards could have been so insufficient to their own defence as they have been represented.....
The late arrival of the transports, the increasing force of the enemy, and the disadvantageous nature of the ground, had greatly augmented the difficulty and danger of the embarkation, and several general officers now proposed to the commander-in-chief that he should negotiate for leave to retire to his ships upon terms. ..... Moore's high spirit and clear judgment revolted at the idea, and he rejected the degrading advice without hesitation.
All the encumbrances of the army were shipped in the night of the 15th and morning of the 16th, and everything was prepared to withdraw the fighting men as soon as the darkness would permit them to move without being perceived; and the precautions taken would without doubt have insured the success of this difficult operation, but a more glorious event was destined to give a melancholy but graceful termination to the campaign. About two o'clock in the afternoon a general movement along the French line gave notice of an approaching battle. .....
Sir John Moore, while earnestly watching the result of the fight about the village of Elvina, was struck on the left breast by a cannon shot. The shock threw him from his horse with olence; but he rose again in a sitting posture, his countenance unchanged, and his steadfast eye still fixed upon the regiments engaged in bis front, no sigh betraying a sensation of pain. In a few moments, when he was satisfied that the troops were gaining ground, his countenance brightened, and he suffered himself to be taken to the
Then was seen the dreadful nature of his hurt. The shoulder was shattered to pieces; the arm was hanging by a piece of skin; the ribs over the heart were broken and bared of flesh; and the les of the breast torn into long strips, which were interlaced by their recoil from the dragging of the shot. As the soldiers placed him in a blanket his sword got entangled, and the hilt entered the wound. Captain Hardinge, a staff officer, who was
near, attempted to take it off; but the dying man stopped him, saying, “ It is as well as it is. I had rather it should go out of the field with me;"—and in that manner, so becoming to a soldier, Moore was borne from the fight.
Meanwhile the arnıy was rapidly gaining ground. The reserve, overthrowing everything in the valley, obliged La Houssaye's dragoons, who had dismounted, to retire, turned the enemy on that side, and even approached the eminence upon which the great battery was posted; on the left, Colonel Nicholls, at the head of some companies of the fourteenth, carried Palavia Abaxo, which General Foy defended but feebly; in the centre, the obstinate dispute for Elvina had terminated in favour of the British, and when the night set in their line was considerably advanced beyond the original position of the morning, while the French were falling back in confusion. ..... To continue the action in the dark was to tempt Fortune: the French were still the more numerous, and their ground was strong; moreover, the disorder they were in offered such a favourable opportunity to get on board the ships, that Sir John Hope, upon whom the command of the army
had devolved, satisfied with having repulsed the attack, judged it more prudent to pursue the original plan of embarking during the night. This operation was effected without delay, the arrangements being so complete that neither confusion nor difficulty occurred. The piquets, kindling a number of fires, covered the retreat of the columns, and being themselves withdrawn at daybreak, were embarked under the protection of General Hill's brigade, which was posted near the ramparts of the town.
When the morning dawned, the French, observing that the British had abandoned their position, pushed forward some battalions to the heights of St. Lucie, and about mid-day succeeded in establishing a battery, which, playing upon the shipping in the harbour, caused a great deal of disorder among the transports. Several masters cut their cables, and four vessels went ashore; but the troops being immediately removed by the men-of-war's boats, the stranded vessels were burnt, and the whole fleet at last got out of harbour. General Hill's brigade then embarked from the citadel, while General Beresford, with a rear guard, kept possession of that work until the 18th, when the wounded being all put on board, bis troops likewise embarked : the inhabitants faithfully maintained the town against the French, and the fleet sailed for England. .....
Thus ended the retreat to Coruña, a transaction which, up to this day, bas called forth as much of falsehood and malignity as servile and interested writers could offer to the unprincipled leaders of a base faction, but which posterity will regard as a genuine example of ability and patriotism. From the spot where he fell, the general who had conducted it was carried to the town by a party of soldiers. His blood flowed fast, and the torture of his wound was great; yet such was the unshaken firmness of his mind, that those about him, judging from the resolution of his countenance that his hurt was not mortal, expressed a hope of his recovery. Hearing this, he looked steadfastly at the injury for a moment, and then said, “No, I feel that to be impossible.” Several times he caused his attendants to stop and turn him round, that he might behold the field of battle; and when the firing indicated the advance of the British, he discovered his satisfaction, and permitted the bearers to proceed. Being brought to his lodgings, the surgeons examined his wound; but there was no hope. The pain increased, and he spoke with great difficulty. At intervals he asked if the French were beaten; and addressing his old friend, Colonel Anderson, he said, “ You know that I always wished to die this way.” Again he asked if the enemy were defeated, and being told they were, observed, “ It is a great satisfaction to me to know we have beaten the French." His countenance continued firm and his thoughts clear; once only, when he spoke of his mother, he became agitated: but he often inquired after the safety of his friends and the officers of his staff; and he did not, even in this moment, forget to recommend those whose merit had given them claims to promotion. His th failed fast, and life was almost extinct, when, with an unsubdued spirit, as if anticipating the baseness of his posthumous calumniators, he exclaimed, " I hope the people of England will be satisfied! I hope my country