Page images

practice. Leaving the men under the command of their youthful pilot, to take care of the boat, the officers went on to the house, but had not been there above an hour, when they were alarmed by a shout which sounded as if it came from the river. Looking out, they beheld their party surrounded by seventy or eighty mounted riflemen; the boat dragged upon the beach, and set on fire. Giving themselves up for lost, they continued, for an instant, in a sort of stupor; but the master of the house, to whom some kindness had been shown by our people, proved himself grateful, and letting them out by a back door, directed them to hide themselves in the wood, while he should endeavour to turn their pursuers on a wrong scent. As they had nothing to trust to except the honour of this American, it cannot be supposed that they felt much at ease ; but seeing no better course before them, they resigned themselves to his guidance, and plunging into the thicket, concealed themselves as well as they could among the underwood. In the mean time, the American soldiers, having secured all that were left behind, except the young midshipman, who fled into the wood in spite of the fire, divided into two bodies, one of which approached the house, while the other endeavoured to overtake the brave boy. It so chanced that the party in pursuit passed close to the officers in concealment, but, by the greatest good fortune, did not observe them. They succeeded, however, in catching a glimpse of the midshipman, just as he had gained the water's edge, and was pushing off a light canoe which he had loosened from the stump of a tree. The barbarians immediately gave chase, firing at the brave lad, and calling out to surrender ; but the gallant youth paid no attention either to their voices or their bullets. Launching his little bark, he put to sea with a single paddle, and, regardless of the showers of balls which fell about him, returned alone and unhurt to the ship.

• While one party was thus employed, the other hastened to the house in full expectation of capturing the officers. But their host kept his word with great fidelity, and having directed his countrymen towards another farm-house at some distance from his own, and in an opposite quarter from where his guests lay, he waited till they were out of sight, and then joined his new friends in their concealment. Bringing with him such provisions as he could muster, he advised them to keep quiet till dark, when, their pursuers having departed, he conducted them to the river, supplied them with a large canoe, and sent them oft in perfect safety to the fleet.

On reaching their ship, they found the 85th regiment under arms, and preparing to land, for the purpose of either releasing their comrades from captivity, or inflicting exemplary punishment upon the farmer by whose treachery it was supposed that they had suffered. But when the particulars of his behaviour were related, the latter alternative was at once abandoned ; and it was determined to force a dismissal of the captives, by advancing up the country, and laying waste every thing with fire and sword. The whole of the light brigade was ac cordingly carried on shore, and halted on the beach, whilst a messenger was sent forward to demand back the prisoners. Such, however, was the effect of his threatening, that the demand was

committed any ravages, or marched for***

at once complied with, and they returned on board without having committed any ravages, or marched above two miles from the boats."

At length, the fleet left the Chesapeake for Jamaica. On the voyage, our Author had an opportunity of seeing a picture • in little of a sea-fight; the Volcano bomb-ship, on board of which he had embarked, having been attacked by a privateer, which, after a few broadsides, failing in an attempt to board, escaped by superior sailing. The scenery of Jamaica, the fireflies, and the Maroons, supply materials for interesting description; and its slavery, for a string of miserable and cold-hearted common-places about the happiness of the negroes, and their incapacity for any thing higher than the life they actually lead. Just as if all this, if it were as true as it is disgustingly false, gave their fellow-creatures the right to treat them as mere draught-animals. We are told that, when manumitted, they ask to be made slaves again— they beg, as a favour, to be re* ceived once more into their original state of slavery. It is admitted that the slave • may be beaten, and cannot resist ; but he never is beaten, unless he deserves it : and to a man afflicted, or, if you please, ennobled by no fine feelings of honour, a beating produces no pain, EXCEPT WHAT MAY ARISE FROM THE STROKES THEMSELVES!

After this, who can doubt the lawfulness of enslaving, and the felicity of slaves ? and who will venture to question the ' fine feelings' and the Christian temper of this exquisite moralist?

New Orleans was now the point of destination, and the principal casualty of the voyage consisted in the very extraordinary taste of an inhabitant-not an alderman most certainly

-of the Grand Cayman, who brought off a boat-load of • fine turtle,' which he exchanged, at fifty per cent. discount, for salt pork. We despair of comprising within contracted limits, what the Writer before us has failed to make clear with time and space ad libitum ; and we shall therefore refer our readers to the map and the gazetteer for the more distinct definition of the natural difficulties which bar the approach to New Orleans. Swamps and shallow lakes make its climate destructive, but add greatly to its means of military defence. The first contract the approaches, and the second are innavigable by ships of considerable draught. Such, in fact, are altogether the intricacy and difficulty of the access, that the most precise information could alone have given certainty to the naval and military movements. It seems, however, that, whether from error or treachery, the intelligence given was completely erroneous; and a forward movement of the first

i corps that fanded, in expectation of a general rising in favour of the invaders, had nearly occasioned its complete destruction. The American general Jackson seems to have been an able and enterprising officer, and he had excellent advisers at hand. Humbert, the general who commanded the French division that landed in Ireland, was with him, and no doubt afforded him effective assistance. But his best allies were the mistakes of the assailants. In the first place, the point of attack appears to have been ill-chosen ; and, secondly, had the English general, Keane, pushed forward more vigorously when he made his first questionable advance, he would have found New Orleans defenceless. The final and crowning error lay in the fatal gallantry which led the intrepid Pakenham to persist in the attack of Jackson's lines, after the disorganization of his force through the misconduct of Colonel Mullens. We have neither space nor inclination for the details of this miserable business, but we shall make room for the Writer's description of the commencement of the night-attack made by the Americans on the bivouac of General Keane.

• Darkness having set in, the fires were made to blaze with in.' creased splendour, our evening meal was eaten, and we prepared to sleep. But about half past seven o'clock, the attention of several individuals was drawn to a large vessel, which seemed to be stealing up the river till she came opposite to our camp; when her anchor was dropped, and her sails leisurely furled. At first, we were doubtful whether she might not be one of our own cruisers which had passed the port unobserved, and had arrived to render her assistance in our future operations. To satisfy this doubt, she was repeatedly hailed, but returned no answer; when, an alarm spreading through the bivouac, all thought of sleep was laid aside. Several musket-shots were now fired at her with the design of exacting a reply, of which no notice was taken; till at length, having fastened all her sails, and swung her broad-side towards us, we could distinctly hear some one cry out in a commanding voice, Give them this for the honour of America. The words were instantly followed by the flashes of her gups, and a deadly shower of grape swept down numbers in the camp.

Against this dreadful fire, we had nothing whatever to oppose. The artillery which we had landed was too light to bring into compe. tition with an adversary so powerful; and as she had anchored within a short distance of the opposite bank, no musketry could reach her with any precision or effect. A few rockets were discharged, which made a beautiful appearance in the air; but the rocket is an uncertain weapon, and these deviated too far from their object to produce even terror among those against whom they were directed. Under these circumstances, as nothing could be done offensively, our sole object was to shelter the men as much as possible from this iron hail. With this view, they were commanded to leave the fires, and to hasten

under the dyke. Thither all, accordingly, repaired, without much regard to order and regularity, and laying ourselves along wherever we could find room, we listened in painful silence to the pattering of grape-shot among our huts, and to the shrieks and groans of those who lay wounded beside them.

• The night was now as dark as pitch, the moon being but young, and totally obscured with clouds. Our fires, deserted by us, and beat about by the enemy's shot, began to burn red and dull, and, except when the flashes of those guns which played upon us cast a momen. tary glare, not an object could be distinguished at the distance of a yard. In this state we Jay for nearly an hour, unable to move from our ground, or offer any opposition to those who kept us there ; when a straggling fire of musketry called our attention towards the piquets, and warned us to prepare for a closer and more desperate strife. As yet, however, it was uncertain from what cause this dropping fire arose. It might proceed from the sentinels, who, alarmed by the cannonade from the river, mistook every tree for an American; and till this should be more fully ascertained, it would be improper to expose the troops, by moving any of them from the shelter which the bank afforded. But these doubts were not permitted to continue long in existence. The dropping fire having paused for a few moments, was succeeded by a fearful yell; and the heavens were illuminated on all sides by a semi-circular blaze of musketry. It was now clear that we were surrounded, and that by a very superior force; and, therefore, no alternative remaining, but, either to surrender at discretion, or to beat back the assailants.

• The first of these plans was never for an instant thought of; and the second was immediately put into force. Rushing from under the bank, the 85th and 95th few to support the piquets, while the 4th, stealing to the rear of the encampment, formed close column, and remained as a reserve. But to describe this action, is altogether out of the question, for it was such a battle as the annals of modern warfare can hardly match. All order, all discipline were lost. Each officer, as he was able to collect twenty or thirty men round him, ad. vanced into the middle of the enemy, when it was fought hand to hand, bayonet to bayonet, and sword to sword, with the tumult and ferocity of one of Homer's combats. pp. 283–287.

Throughout the whole of this transaction, there was no opportunity for manœuvring on a grand scale. Excepting the night-attack on the British advance, in which he failed, General Jackson did nothing more than command an army that defended a parapet too lofty to be carried but by escalade. Having repelled the enemy, he was satisfied, and made no attempt to harass the retreat. Yet it is for such an affair as this, that General Wilkinson claims the highest place of honour - Ma

rengo, Austerlitz, Leipsic, New Orleans, and Waterloo.'

Peace was concluded soon after this event; a hasty peace, which has left unadjusted all the causes of war, but which we devoutly hope may be made complete and lasting by a spirit of mutual concession and courtesy. The Writer returned home soon afterwards, making a short sojourn, in transitu, at the Havannah.

Art. VIII. 1. The Heart, with Odes, and other Poems. By Percy

Rolle. Fcap. 8vo. pp. 126. London. 1826. 2. Poetical Illustrations of Passages of Scripture. By Emily Taylor.

Fcap 8vo. pp. 80. Price 2s. 6d. Wellington, 1826. THE first of these little publications belongs to a class of I works which require, on the part of a Reviewer, kind and delicate handling,- the first essays of a young Author, who has embarked in the perilous adventure the whole capital of his intellectual substance, and trembling waits the breeze. Such volumes claim the critic's notice, not because they are of any importance to the public, but because they are of immense interest to the individual; and while ordinary readers will concern themselves merely with the obvious merits or demerits of the performance, the Reviewer has to exercise the functions of an augur, and to pronounce upon the talent which it indicates, and the promise it affords. The productions of boyhood cannot hope for more than to be praised and be forgotten; but much, as respects the future efforts and character of the young author, may depend upon the reception he meets with from those to whom he perhaps rashly but ingenuously appeals. Possibly, we may have been deemed, sometimes, too liberal of praise in noticing such productions ; but a little praise given in advance in some instances, is not ill-bestowed ; and we have seldom been deceived by the result. The chief danger is that of encouraging those who have been tolerably successful with a first publication, to take to versifying as a trade, and to carry their small wares to market as a regular source of profit, till they have written themselves down, or written themselves out, and are compelled to look out for some better employment. This abuse of critical lenity, however, ought by no means to harden us against the claims of youthful suppliants for fame, or render us unjust to real merit.

A modest advertisement to Mr. Rolle's volume apologises for the obvious inequality and juvenile character of his present performance, in terms which bespeak much good sense,-a more rare and hopeful quality, let us be permitted to say, in young poets, than much that passes for genius. His mind has evidently outgrown, already, his verse.

• The Writer is aware that a sombrous expression of sentiment occasionally discovers itself in the following pages; but he hopes it

« PreviousContinue »