Page images

And gave himself to the quick-plashing pool,
And swimming in the foam her fleetness made,
Strove after-sometimes losing his white guide,
Down-sinking in the wild wash of the waves.

Together to the dreary cell they come,
The shallop and the swimmer-she alone
Thrusts at the wicket,-enters wet and wild.
What sees he there under the crucifix?
What holds his eyesight to the ivied loop?
Oh, Claude!-oh loving heart! be still, and break.
The Monk and Julie kneeling, not at prayer.
She kisses him with warm, wild, eager lips-
Weeps on his heart-that woman, nearly wived,
And, "Sweetest love," she saith, "I thought thee dead.”
And he-what is he that he takes and clasps
In his her shaking hands, and bends adown,
Crying, "Ah, my sweet love! it was no ghost
That left the palm-branch; but I saw thee not,

And heard their talk of Claude, and held thee false,
These many erring days." Oh, gaze no more,

Claude, Claude, for thy soul's peace! She binds the brand
About his gaberdine, with wild caress;

She fondles the thin neck, and clasps thereon

The gorget; then the breast-piece and the helm

Her quick hands fasten. "Come away," she cries,


'Thou Knight, and take me from them all for thine.
Come, true-love, come." The pebbles, water-washed,
Grate with the gliding of the shallop's keel,
Scarce bearing up those twain.

Frail boat, be strong!

Three lives are thine to keep-ah, Lady pale,
Choose of two lovers-for the other comes
With a wild bound that shakes the rotten plank.
Moon! shine out fair for one avenging blow!
She glitters on a quiet face and form

That shuns it not, but stays the lifted death.
"My brother Roland! Claude, dear brother mine.
I thought thee dead-I would that I had died
Ere this had come.-Nay, God! but she is thine!-
He wills it not for either: look, we fill-


The current drifts us, and the oars are gone-
I will leap forth." Now by the breast we sucked
So shalt thou not: let the black waters break
Over a broken heart.

Nay-tell him no ;
Bid him to save thee, Julie-I will leap!"
So strove they sinking, sinking-Julie bending
Between them; and those brothers over her
With knees and arms close locked for leave to die
Each for the other;-and the Moon shone down
Silvering their far-off home, and the great wave
That struck, and rose, and floated over them,
Hushing their death-cries, hiding their kind strife,
Ending the earnest love of three great hearts
With silence, and the splash of even waves.

So they who died for love, live in love now,
And God in heaven doth keep the gentle souls
Whom Earth hath lost, and one poor Poet mourns.
May 7, 1855.


CHAP. XXII.- —(Continued.)

ON the 3d May, an expedition, which had been for some days in course of preparation, consisting of about 7000 French with 12 guns, and 3000 English with 6 guns, sailed for Kertsch, but just after arriving in sight of its destination, was recalled by a message from the French commander. He had received telegraphic instructions from the Emperor to despatch all the transports he could command to the Bosphorus, to convey the French reserves there to the seat of war, and considered the instructions as sufficiently imperative to necessitate the recall of the expedition, which accordingly returned, amid much dissatisfaction. A few days afterwards, General Canrobert resigned the control of the army to General Pelissier, and took the command of the first division, the same he had held under St. Arnaud.

Several events marked the change of commanders. On the night of the 22d, the French made a determined attack on the rifle-pits between the Quarantine and Central Bastions, which form part of the earth-works covering the town. At nine o'clock a cannonade, accompanied by volleys far warmer and more sustained than in any previous night attack or operation of the siege, marked the commencement of the enterprise, and continued without intermission till three in the morning. The moon rather glimmered than shone upon the scene, and against the cloudy horizon the flashes of the guns, like summer lightning, marked the lines of defence and attack; the rattle of small-arms was almost incessant, and occasional cheers, rising from the gloom, showed some advantage won or charge attempted.

On the following day I visited the scene of combat. Entering the French lines at the Maison de Clocheton, a long walk through the zigzag approaches led to the advanced trench, where glimpses over the parapet and through loopholes, rendered precarious by the proximity of the Russian riflemen, who fired incessantly, revealed the features of the ground.

In a green hollow or basin, at the head of the inlet known as Quarantine

Bay, is a Russian cemetery, having in the midst a small church, surrounded by crosses and headstones. No English country churchyard, where the forefathers of the hamlet sleep, can, in its trim sanctity, be more suggestive of repose than this peaceful spot, above the occupants of which rude requiems of musketry and cannon had for months broken the silence. Instead of mourning friends, marksmen had crouched in the grass of the graves, or lain in the shadow of the tombstones. On the previous night there had been hard fighting above the dead, on the thresholds of whose green abodes lay others ready to join them. The cemetery is surrounded by a wall, and is about seventy yards square; the further wall was less than a hundred yards from the wall of the town, which was of masonry, upright (those of fortified places are in general strengthened with sloping buttresses, termed revetments), and having no ditch. It was breached in three or four places, though not extensively enough for the assault; but it was evident that, in a few hours, the French batteries could, whenever they pleased, destroy the whole extent of wall, which it would have been impolitic to do until the moment for storming had arrived. Between the wall of the cemetery and that of the town was a line of rifle-screens, strongly constructed of earth and gabions, and capable of holding each at least a dozen marksmen. Only two of these had been taken by the French, and the number of dead stretched on the grass showed at what cost. The cemetery was cleared of Russians, who had retired to their remaining riflepits, and its right wall now formed part of the French parapet. The Russian batteries before the town were silent, and the garrison had hoisted a flag of truce, which the French refused to respond to, as it was known the attack was to be resumed in greater force the same night (23d); and, on returning in the evening, I met bodies of troops entering the lines. In all, it was said that 30,000 men were to be assembled in

the trenches for this new attack. That night at nine o'clock, the cannonade and musketry opened as before, but soon became fainter, and by midnight died away. The Russians, cowed by the slaughter of the previous night, and overpowered by the numbers of the assailants, withdrew within their works, after a short struggle, and left the whole of the rifle-pits to our allies, who connected them by trenches, opened a communication with their nearest approach, and occupied them as a new advanced line. On the 24th there was a truce for six hours to collect the dead. The French lost 1600 killed and wounded, of whom about a fourth were killed. They delivered to the Russians 1150 bodies; 800 more were collected by the burial parties on the ground, most of whom had been killed by the fire of four French field-pieces, which ploughed through the enemy's dense columns drawn up in support; and the loss of the garrison in the two attacks could scarcely have been less

than 6000 men.

On the 23d the expedition again sailed for Kertsch, and this time accomplished the object of its mission. On the afternoon of the 24th, the allied force disembarked at Kamish, a village south-west of Kertsch. About 2000 Russian cavalry showed themselves there, but did not offer to attack; and the garrison, after blowing up their magazines and spiking most of their guns, were seen moving

off. Next morning the allies advanced on Kertsch, and halted for an hour in the town, where they destroyed a large foundry and bullet-factory, and then, advancing on Yenikale, and finding the place deserted, they proceeded to intrench themselves. In all, 108 guns were taken, many of them of large calibre (68-pounders), which in another week would have been mounted in the batteries, offering a formidable defence. Some of our war-steamers of light draught, and gun-boats, immediately entered the Sea of Azoff, capturing 260 boats laden with grain, and proceeding to Arabat, a strong fort at the southern extremity of the long narrow isthmus, by which the land communication with the neighbouring provinces of Russia is main tained, blew up, with the first shell fired, an immense magazine there. A few days afterwards, Genitsch, at the other extremity of the isthmus of Arabat, was set on fire, and eightysix boats destroyed in its harbour. The whole of the Sea of Azoff was scoured by this light armament. town of Berdiansk on the north shore was abandoned by the enemy, as was Soujouk-kale, near Anapa; and be sides the towns, guns, ammunition, and vessels (including four steamers sunk by themselves), the Russians either destroyed or lost grain sufficient for 100,000 men for four months; moreover, the road by which supplies had chiefly been sent to Sebastopol was rendered unavailable.




During the month of May the Sardinian contingent had joined us. The appearance of these troops was much admired; they were very neatly and serviceably clothed, those of the line in grey coats, fitting loosely, and leaving the neck free, with a light jacket and trousers underneath; their arms, equipments, waggon-train, and horses, were all in excellent order; the troops looked healthy and cheerful, and the few cavalry that accompanied them were extremely soldier-like and well-appointed.

Besides this addition to our forces, the French had received such strong reinforcements that it was necessary, if only for the ventilation of the army,

to extend our position. On the 25th, twenty thousand French, ten thousand Sardinians, and twenty thousand Turks, quitting the plateau some hours before daybreak, marched towards the Tchernaya, from which the Russians, who were in inconsiderable numbers there, fell back without opposition : the area of our position was thus nearly doubled the passage of the river secured, with a plentiful supply of water-and a large portion of the army encamped on spots far more eligible than could be found on the bare and trodden surface of the heights.

The Russian supplies from the Sea of Azoff being cut off, and our force thus largely augmented, the campaign

assumed a new aspect. The enemy must now draw their supplies from their depot at Simferopol, and an allied army advancing from Eupatoria to threaten that place, would draw their force thither, as Sir John Moore's advance in the north of Spain drew Napoleon's army from Madrid. A second force of the Allies might follow them from the Tchernaya, still leaving sufficient troops to watch Sebastopol and effect a juuction with the army from Eupatoria, presenting a force which it is unlikely the Russians could attempt to cope with, and the conquest of the whole province might ensue. On such grounds the time for actively continuing the siege would seem past, as, with our present means, the town might be obtained on easier terms than at the expense of a bloody assault. Situated as the Crimea is, at the extremity of the empire, and all the northern portion being extremely barren, it appears impossible that Russia should be able to maintain there an army at all equal to ours, and the form and position of the province render it very vulnerable to an enemy who commands the sea. On such considerations the time would seem to have arrived when the operations of the siege might give place to new, more extensive, and more decisive enterprises.


On the 25th I rode to our outposts the Tchernaya, and afterwards completed the circuit of the position. Descending from the plateau by the Woronzoff road with a companion, we crossed the ground where the light brigade made their memorable charge, to the low heights between the plateau and the Tchernaya, leaving behind us the hills from which the Turkish outposts were driven in the affair of Balaklava, and which were now again occupied by our Ottoman allies. The plains were in every part covered with luxuriant herbage and flowers, varying in character with the ground, the lower portions being sometimes moist and filled with marsh plants while a shorter growth clothed the upland slopes. At the base of the low heights, which were now occupied by a French division under Canrobert, six fieldbatteries were posted, the heights themselves were covered with the French tents, and bowers made of branches; and the guns in the Russian


works above the ruins of Inkermann tried vainly to reach them with shells, which, for the most part, burst high in air midway. A dell in the midst of these heights led to the road along which we had marched from Mackenzie's Farm. The bridge by which we had crossed the Tchernaya was uninjured, and on the further side the French were constructing a tête-du-pont or earthen work, the faces flanked by parapets for musketry on the hither side of the river. We rode along the bank, which was lined with Frenchmen and Sardinians fishing, and who appeared to have good sport, pulling out fish something like trout; one soldier caught a carp of a pound and a half. The meadows here, though they must in winter have been deep swamps, contained the remains of many burrows where the Russians had bivouacked, the branched roofs of which had fallen in. At a neighbouring ford several hundred French cavalry were watering their horses, the men in their stable dresses, with carbines at their backs, while strong picket, fully accoutred, was drawn up beyond the river to protect them from any sudden descent the enemy might make from the opposite heights, where a few Cossacks were occasionally visible. Close by, on the opposite bank, is a tall conical hill held by the Piedmontese, who have here their advanced posts of light troops, dressed in green tunics, and hats with bunches of green feathers, like theatrical bandits, and armed with short rifles. The back of this hill forms, with a steep slope opposite, a narrow gorge, where a pretty stone bridge spans the Tchernaya, and from this point branches the aqueduct which used to supply Sebastopol. Beyond, the valley widens again into meadows sprinkled with trees, and tinted glowingly with flowers; in some places knolls are so covered with purple, red, or yellow, as to look like great nosegays. In the midst of a grove stands the village of Tehergoum, with its large octagonal tower, and up the road behind it a Cossack may be seen sauntering towards some of his comrades who appear on the heights, and occasionally fire at those who advance furthest from the outposts. There are plenty of Russian burrows here on both sides of the river, and the

Allies in their advance made spoil of abundance of arms and furniture, which they disposed of to visitors, one of whom was offered a piano a great bargain, of which he was unable to avail himself, as it was rather too large to put in his saddle-bags; while in another quarter a post-chaise was for sale. Had the same purchaser got both, he might have taken home the piano in the post-chaise.

Riding back over the steep hills, which in the eastern corner of the position are held by Sardinians, you reach their right outposts near Kamara, where a road sweeps round the back of the mountain. Here the aspect of the country suddenly changes for whereas the hills towards Bakshi Sarai are bare and chalky, here they are clothed with a thick verdure of tall coppice, with some trees of large growth, spotting with the darkness of their shadowed sides the even sunlit green of the bushes, which is further broken by park-like glades. All is

silent here; there are no soldiers visible, and no sound is heard except the thrushes in the leaves, and the murmur of a small stream caught in a stone fountain beside the road. The next turn discloses a camp occupied by a detachment of our marines, supplying the pickets and sentries who complete the circuit of outposts from Kamara to the sea-shore far south of Balaklava. Their tents are pitched in a sunny meadow, before which rises a wooded mountain, with craggy peaks breaking through the verdure, on each of which stands a sentry with his red-coat and crossbelts discernible a mile off against the sky. From this camp a woodpath, shaded with fine trees, ascends to the next mountain ridge, where a turn of the road discloses a really magnificent prospect. Doubtless the long residence on the dreary heights of Sebastopol enhanced for us the effect of the view, but anywhere in the world it would have been eminently attractive. Below us lay the valley of Baidar, stretching from the edge of the sea-cliffs on our right to the distant mountain range, where it wound round out of sight. Like the fabled vale of Avilion, it was "deepbower'd, happy, fair with orchardlawns;" flowery meadows, sprinkled CAMP BEFORE SEBASTOPOL, June 4.

with trees and groves, reminded me, in their fertility and expanse, of the vega of Granada, as seen from the mountains behind the city. Two redroofed villages, embowered in trees, stood at some distance apart, in the midst of the valley, but no inhabitants, nor cattle, nor any kind of movingthing gave life to the scene-it was beautiful as a dream, but silent as a chart. No corn had been sown for this year's harvest; the only tokens of agriculture were some farm-waggons discernible through the glass at a distant point of the valley. The villages were not only deserted, but, as some visitors had ascertained a day or two before, quite denuded of all tokens of domestic life. Beyond this outpost it was now contrary to orders to pass; a marine officer was in charge of the party, and lay in a kind of nest, under the shade of his blanket and cloak, which hung on bushes.

Turning with regret from this view, we rode back along the sea-cliffs towards Balaklava. The tint of the Euxine was so light in the bright sunshine that it was not easy to distinguish where the sky joined it; and the steamers that crossed to and from Kertsch (one of them tugging a sailing vessel, perhaps a prize) seemed to traverse the air. The cliffs, as I have mentioned elsewhere, are of remarkable beauty, with delicate rosy tints and purple shadows. At length we arrived at the stockaded barrier drawn across the road in the winter, passing which we came to the fortified ridge from whence you look down on the harbour of Balaklava, lying like a small lake in its rocky, tower-skirted basin. Here work-a-day life began again-troops lighting their cooking fires and fetching their water-guards lolling in the sunshine-mules and buffaloes toiling with their loads; and up the hills beyond Kadukoi the bearded pashas, sitting in open green tents like canopies, gazing, as they smoked their tall silver nargillys, towards the distant mountains which surround Bakshi Sarai: while the more devout among the Musselman soldiers, drawn up in a body, with their faces turned (I suppose) towards Mecca, repeated, with many bendings and prostrations. their evening prayers.

« PreviousContinue »