AT THE GRAND REVIEW IN PARIS

After remaining in London at a heavy expense while I awaited the
answers of my commanding officers and the result of my memorial, I left
town and joined the 2nd Battalion of the regiment, then quartered at
Lewes. Here I remained for some time; and then being still on sick,
or rather wounded, leave, I visited my old acquaintance, the Prince
d’Arenberg, from whom I had received repeated and pressing invitations.
Arriving in Brussels, I found that unfortunately he was then in
Italy. When I was rather weary of Brussels but unwilling so soon to
go back to England, especially as the prince was shortly expected
to return, some particular friends, Sir John Burke of Glenesk, Sir
William Elliot and Lord Bury, aide-de-camp to the Prince of Orange,
determined on an excursion to Paris, and I was prevailed upon to
accompany them. We travelled in Burke’s private carriage. The early
part of our journey was excessively agreeable; but on drawing near the
capital we encountered an extraordinary number of vehicles of every
description and on approaching a small town within a post or two of
Paris towards dark, we met a train of from thirty to forty carriages.
Upon asking the cause of this great concourse, a Mrs. Atchison, whom
with her two amiable daughters we had known at Brussels, exclaimed
from one of the carriages, “What, are you not aware that Napoleon
will be in Paris to-morrow?” and she added that every British subject
there was hastening away as fast as post-horses could be procured,
which was attended with much difficulty and delay. Thunderstruck at
this information, for not a word even of Napoleon’s escape from Elba
was known two days before at Brussels, we immediately stopped; and as
soon as we could procure change of horses we proceeded to Cambray.
Here the party separated: Mrs. and the Misses Atchison escorted by the
two baronets leisurely proceeded to Brussels; Lord Bury and I shaped
our course with all speed for Ostend, on our way to England. We were
detained at Cambray until towards dark by the difficulty of procuring
post-horses; but just as we were about to set forward, a French officer
carrying, as he stated, despatches of utmost importance, galloped into
the yard, his steed covered with foam. He immediately demanded a horse,
and the authority which he carried left the postmaster no choice; he
immediately provided one. I asked the officer a few questions as to
the sentiments entertained in the capital and of the nature of his
despatches, but I could procure no direct reply. As I was getting into
Lord Bury’s cabriolet, with his lordship and his private servant, I
chanced to mention that our route lay through Lisle, when the man of
despatch at length opened his mouth, saying that he also was bound
for Lisle, and that if we would take him into our carriage and let
the servant ride his horse, he would engage to pass us through the
different enclosed towns which lay in our route, at which without
his intervention we should be detained if arriving after dark. This
proposal was made in consequence of the inclemency of the weather,
which was tremendous, incessant heavy rain, accompanied with high
winds, thunder and awful lightning. Though Bury felt reluctant to
expose his servant to the raging elements, yet our great anxiety to get
clear of the French territory overcame every other consideration.

[Sidenote: NAPOLEON HOME FROM ELBA.]

During our progress I asked our new companion many questions, but he
would appear much fatigued and slept, or feigned to sleep, the greater
part of the time; however, he kept his word in passing us through the
towns. On presenting his credentials the drawbridges were dropped,
we entered, changed horses and passed on without our passports being
looked at until we arrived at Lisle. Here our companion left us with
scant ceremony. Being no longer under the protection of the man of
despatch and having arrived after dark, we were not permitted to leave
the fortress until morning. We afterwards learned that this officer,
who sat so very comfortably in Lord Bury’s carriage between two British
officers, was at the time the bearer of disaffected despatches to
induce the two Generals Lallemande to declare in favour of Napoleon.

Our night at Lisle was restless; but fortunately we got off next
morning without meeting any obstruction, and having soon entered
the Belgian territory felt a degree of security which previously
we considered very doubtful. Our feelings somewhat resembled those
experienced by the Prince d’Arenberg after crossing the Spanish
frontier into Portugal.

Although now freed from dread of detention, yet we relaxed not in
posting forward to Ostend. On arrival Lord Bury waited on General
Vandeleur, commanding the British troops there, and related the
circumstances attending our journey. The general was excessively
astonished and appeared somewhat startled, not having had the slightest
knowledge of Napoleon having left his island; indeed he seemed rather
incredulous. Bury requested that I should be sent for to the hotel,
where I was making hasty preparations for our departure to England.
On appearing, I confirmed Lord Bury’s statement, adding that from all
I could collect along our route, or rather flight, I felt perfectly
convinced that Napoleon was at that moment in Paris. Courtesy, and
I believe courtesy alone, induced the general no longer to appear
incredulous. At the same time he begged us to be very cautious as to
what we should say, for if what we had heard were true he would find
himself in rather an embarrassing position among the Belgians, who
seemed much inclined towards the government and person of Napoleon.

Being politely dismissed by the general we proceeded to England, and
landing at Ramsgate pushed forward to Canterbury. Here we halted for
breakfast, when hundreds collected round the hotel since a report was
spread that the Duc de Berri had just arrived from France, whom they
were anxious to behold; but upon learning that it was the English Lord
Bury, not His Royal Highness the French Duc de Berri who had arrived,
they retired rather disappointed. That night we arrived in London,
but not a soul would give credence to our account; and Napoleon was
victoriously sitting on the throne of France and in the heart of the
capital some days before even his departure from Elba was known in
London.

Immediately on my return I applied to Sir Henry Torrens for a staff
appointment in the army of Belgium; and I asked that, should His Royal
Highness not have an opportunity of appointing me at present, he would
be pleased to permit my proceeding there, as from my acquaintance with
many general officers under whom I had had the honour of serving, I
felt emboldened to think that I should be employed. This letter was
written to Sir Henry Torrens at his own request; but as he was a few
days afterwards sent to Brussels to confer with the Duke of Wellington,
I repeated my request to Lieutenant-Colonel Shaw, Military Secretary
_ad interim_. To this application I received an answer to the effect
that the commander-in-chief was sensible of my zeal for active service,
but had no present opportunity of employing me on the staff, nor could
he comply with my request for leave of absence. It may be necessary
here to state that at that period a general order had been issued
strictly prohibiting all officers on leave of absence from leaving the
kingdom without the special permission of the commander-in-chief. My
leave of absence which terminated on the 24th of the month was renewed
as a matter of course, but not without the prohibition mentioned.

[Sidenote: THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO FOUGHT.]

My regiment being in Ireland and not ordered to the Netherlands, I
still remained in London urging my request, but to no purpose. In the
meantime the battle of Waterloo was fought; and the 36th were ordered
to reinforce the duke’s army. I now procured permission to proceed
direct from London. Major-General Sir William O’Callaghan was ordered
out at the same time; and as we had been intimately acquainted in the
Peninsula, I now acted as his aide-de-camp. In this way I anticipated
the arrival of the regiment in Paris by at least a month, which gave me
full opportunity, uninterrupted by regimental duties, of examining the
discipline, dress and movements of the different armies then in Paris,
particularly as they passed in review order.

This review was a splendid spectacle. Each crowned head of the powers
engaged had nominally a regiment in the army of each brother sovereign;
and each in his turn marched past as colonel of his regiment, saluting
with due military discipline the crowned head to whose army the
regiment belonged. The Emperor Alexander wore his cocked hat square
to the front, kept firm on his head by a black ribbon tied under his
chin. When he saluted in marching past his chosen master, he shot his
right arm at full length horizontally from his right shoulder, and then
curving the arm with tolerable grace to the front he touched the upper
part of his forehead with his hand, the fingers closed together and the
palm turned downwards. His appearance was soldier-like; yet he seemed
not a hardy veteran, but rather a good-humoured, well-conditioned
English yeoman than the representative of Peter the Great. Contentment,
apparently uninterrupted by thought or reflection, seemed to sit on
his unruffled brow. The King of Prussia wore his hat fore and aft.
In saluting he sent his right hand perpendicularly upwards, the palm
turned towards his face, his fingers stiff and their tips brought
suddenly against the point of his hat. Sullenness was portrayed on his
countenance. His figure was tall; but I saw nothing lofty about him
save his station, which, had it not been hereditary, would never have
been his. He was what we call in a horse wall-eyed. Nothing indicated
the determined warrior, polished courtier or profound statesman; and
during the whole time in which I presumed to regard him I do not
recollect that a single thought of the Great Frederick flashed on my
mind. The Emperor Francis wore his hat neither square nor fore and aft;
the right cock was brought rather forward. In saluting, his right arm
was slowly brought up to meet the fore part of his hat, to touch which
his fingers were bent into a bunch. His stature was scarcely above the
middle size, his face melancholy and overcast; it did not appear to
be that sullen melancholy which indicates disappointed ambition–it
seemed rather to be produced by painful recollections of happy scenes
and feelings which, like blooming youth gone by, can never return. His
deportment was that of an over-thoughtful, but an affable gentleman;
dejection he combated, but could not shake off; he would appear happy,
but failed in the endeavour. His former deadly foe and conqueror (a
fortunate revolutionist emerged from obscurity) was now united to the
child of his affections, the descendant of the Cæsars. The overthrow
of the one must drag down the other. Unwillingly then he drew his
sword, for whatever he might have previously suffered he now made war
against his daughter and her husband. These conflicting feelings must
have harassed his very soul; his position was cruelly embarrassing; and
it was impossible to witness his distress and not participate in his
feelings. His appearance throughout proclaimed him an unwilling actor
in the gorgeous show. He alone seemed to reflect that players sometimes
act the part of kings, but that here the farce was reversed.

[Sidenote: A PAGEANT OF EMPERORS.]

It struck me as rather singular and wanting in delicacy that every
band of music in the Austrian, Russian and Prussian armies, while they
marched past the group of kings, played the tune by us called _The
Downfall of Paris_; but I subsequently learned that among the nations
mentioned, as also in France, the music bore a quite different name and
meaning.

During these reviews the troops of the foreign nations marched from
Paris through the Place Louis Quinze; and passing through the Champs
Elysées filed off into the suburbs. The last review, or rather march
past, was by the British troops. The line of route was now reversed.
Our troops, proudly following the tattered flags but upright standards
of Britain, debouched from the Champs Elysées, and after marching past
filed through Paris. The music played at the head of every regiment was
the inspiring tune “The British Grenadiers.” The duke took his station
close to the Place Louis Quinze, towards the entrance from the Champs
Elysées. He was dressed in the uniform of a British field-marshal; he
grasped a mamaluke sabre, the hand which held it resting on the pommel
of his saddle. In this position he remained for some hours during the
marching past of the troops; and although he evidently saw all, yet he
moved not at all; and during the whole time (for I was near) even his
sword moved not an inch from its original position. All the working was
in his mind; his body was absolutely still.

As the British troops moved forward they called forth general
admiration; and, candidly speaking, their appearance was splendid in
the extreme. This opinion is not prompted by either partiality or
prejudice; but having had the opportunity of previously beholding the
parade of the allied troops, all showing stage effect rather than
the free use of the limbs, I could not avoid noticing the contrast
between them and the British soldiers, whose movements were in strict
conformity with the intention of Providence in providing joints to be
freely used for the easy carriage of the body. It was this manly, free
and firm step which induced the Emperor Alexander after the reviews
were over to declare that he would introduce the British discipline and
system of drill into his army, since the English movements were more
in conformity with the natural structure of man. Even the dress of the
British soldier was calculated more for comfort and use than for mere
outward appearance, and yet was far from being unseemly.

[Sidenote: THE IRON DUKE.]

The Russian troops appeared like rampant bears; the Prussians like
stuffed turkeys; the slow-going Austrians were in figure, countenance
and appearance altogether characteristically Germanic; the French, from
their being well inured to fire and moving with such little up-and-down
steps making but little progress to the front, brought to mind that
species of animal called turnspit in the active performance of his
duty. But the object of general regard, and that which attracted the
attention of all, was the hero who led the British troops through an
unparalleled series of brilliant campaigns and victorious battles. The
all-seeing eagle eye which illumined his countenance, the aquiline
nose which stamps talent on the countenance of man, together with the
peculiar length of upper lip, marked him apart. In all he seemed the
Roman of old–save in pomp.

Shortly after the reviews the 36th Regiment arrived in Paris, and
on the same day Sir William O’Callaghan’s aide-de-camp, his nephew,
Captain Colthurst, made his appearance. The general being thus
provided, I joined my regiment. We were quartered at Montmartre, the
theatre of Marmont’s fidelity. Subsequently we encamped in the Bois
de Boulogne; thence we moved into cantonments not far distant from
Versailles. A part of the regiment were quartered in the Chateau of
the Postmaster-General of France. His history so far as it relates
to his attachment to Napoleon, his imprisonment and the mode of his
escape aided by a British general officer lately reinstated in rank, is
already well known.

Towards the close of December 1815 the regiment was ordered home. We
passed through Paris on the day that Marshal Ney was shot; whether
our presence there during that melancholy occasion was accidental
or designed I cannot say, but it was probably designed. His death
was worthy of his former undaunted character, which gained him the
title of “Le brave des braves.” Disdaining to have his eyes bandaged
he commanded the soldiers appointed for his execution to fire; and
shedding bitter tears they obeyed his order, by which France was
deprived of the bravest and brightest genius who ever led her armies
to victory. On the second restoration of Louis XVIII. a general pardon
was granted by proclamation in his name to all French subjects then
residing in Paris; but by a strange construction of words it was argued
that Ney was not included, although at the time he did reside in Paris,
if a soldier be considered as ever residing anywhere.

[Sidenote: EXECUTION OF MARSHAL NEY.]

Soult, although he fought in the ranks of Napoleon at Waterloo, yet
made so noble a defence that the Duc de Richelieu durst not push the
prosecution; yet His Grace declared that it would be an abuse of mercy
to pardon Ney. He was found guilty of high treason, upon which verdict
he was executed. But against whom or what was the treason? Not against
France, in whose defence or for whose aggrandisement he fought five
hundred battles, and never drew his sword against her. His treason
then consisted in his unfortunate choice of allegiance between two
individuals: one, the Emperor selected by the French nation and under
whose standard all the armies of France were ranged; the other a king
indeed but a nominal one, a king who fled his country on the approach
of a foreign invader, as Napoleon actually was on coming from the
Island of Elba. This king too was opposed by the nation upon whom he
was foisted, as he himself gratefully but imprudently proclaimed by
declaring that next to God he owed his crown to the Prince Regent of
England. This insult to his countrymen was deeply felt all through
France, and cannot be more forcibly expressed than by the manner in
which the French at the time proclaimed him as “Louis XVIII., King of
France and Navarre, by the grace of three hundred thousand foreign
bayonets.” As traitor against this king, Ney was executed; but, had he
been spared, the monarch’s crown would have been the brighter, and the
bravest of the brave have been spared to his country.

In our route to Calais the detachment of the regiment to which I
belonged passed through the village of Creçy, where we halted for
a day. Natural curiosity, not unmixed with national pride, induced
some of us to visit the plains glorious to Edward III. and the Black
Prince. Our guide pointed out the little tower in which the victorious
Edward is stated to have taken post during the battle; it had all
the appearance of having been a windmill. The glorious days of the
Edwards and Henrys flashed on our imaginations: days when the warlike
monarchs led their gallant troops in person and by their heroic example
fired them to deeds of glory; days when personal merit was promptly
and impartially rewarded. Rewards for gallant deeds of arms did not
_then_ depend upon a county election. The chief who witnessed and who
consequently could best judge possessed the power to reward without
reference to the jarring interests of voters at home.

On surveying the extensive plain, our guide pointed out a mound,
distant from the windmill about two miles. Here it was, he said, that
the French army made their last desperate effort. A small chapel is
built on the site, called “La Chapelle des Trois Cents Corps Nobles,”
to commemorate the fact that where the chapel stands three hundred
nobles of the contending armies fighting fell. On returning to our
billets I signified to the man of the house my wish to visit the
hallowed spot next morning, as it was then too late in the day. Upon
this our good host entertained us with many legendary tales of the
chapel, and said amongst other things that the door could never be
kept shut. My evident incredulity rather displeasing him, he protested
most solemnly that bolts and locks had been repeatedly put on the
door to endeavour to keep it shut, but to no purpose: it was always
found wide open in the morning; and as to watching it, none could be
found sufficiently daring to make the attempt. Notwithstanding the
solemn assertions of our good host, I told him that I was determined
to proceed to the chapel next morning and shut myself within its
mysterious walls. When he had used many arguments to dissuade me from
my purpose but found me still determined, he remarked that there was
one difficulty in my shutting myself up there, since, in consequence
of the fact that the chapel could never be kept closed, it had been
without a door for more than a century. Much disappointed, but still
perceiving by the solemn manner of my host that his account of the
chapel was not intended as a jest, I told him that I should certainly
go there next morning and nail a blanket against the doorway, to
witness the consequence of closing the chapel; and this foolish act
I was determined to carry into execution, but as we received orders
that night to continue our march at daybreak next morning, my quixotic
enterprise was frustrated. The impossibility of closing the chapel was
religiously believed by every inhabitant of the place, not excluding
the parish priest.

We embarked at Calais and descended at Ramsgate and Dover, and thence
proceeded overland to Portsmouth, which we garrisoned until the year
1817, when we embarked for the Island of Malta.

In 1819 I procured leave of absence to proceed to England; and in this
year I repeated my visit to Brussels. I found Prince Prosper at home
and received the most marked attention from the old duke, his father.
Here it may not be irrelevant to mention that Napoleon, as contributing
to fortify his unwieldy empire, insisted on the Prince Prosper
marrying a Miss Tacher, a niece of Josephine, and transferred to him
his father’s title, Duke d’Arenberg, at the same time by a similar
arbitrary act compelling the old unduked duke to assume the title of a
baron of the French empire. This was one of Napoleon’s master strokes
of policy. Prince Prosper was now married to his second wife having
been previously divorced from his first duchess, Miss Tacher that was,
to whom the mustachios had been sent from Lisbon.

At the old duke’s table I had always a cover; and a groom and a pair
of horses were exclusively at my service. The duke was a remarkably
fine old man, but had been blind for many years when I had the
honour of making his acquaintance. The calamity occurred through the
following lamentable circumstance. At his father’s house, celebrated
for hospitality, a large party of friends were entertained, for whose
greater amusement rural sports were resorted to. The wild-boar hunt
was generally selected, in which the duke, then a young man, took great
delight; but as one of the guests, who was _chargé d’affaires_ of the
British Court, expressed an unwillingness to join in the boar hunt,
preferring partridge-shooting, the young duke in courtesy gave up his
favourite amusement and joined his friend, for whom he entertained
the greatest esteem. All being arranged, the parties set forth, and
on their arrival at Enghien, a considerable estate belonging to the
duke about five-and-twenty miles from Brussels, the sport began. The
duke took his station behind a hedge; and his English friend screened
himself behind a neighbouring fence. The cover being very close,
beaters were sent in to drive out the birds, as in woodcock-shooting
in England. A rustling sound being heard by the Englishman, who had
the boar hunt, which took place in the same parts, still in his mind,
he fired through the fence and lodged the contents of his gun in the
face of his friend. At a cry of distress from the duke, the Englishman
broke his way through the fence, when fancy his horror at perceiving
his dear friend prostrate on the ground, his figure recognised, but
all his features disguised by blood and his eyes incapable of seeing
his agonised friend. Nearly frantic at witnessing the dreadful result
of his incautious fire, he holloaed out for assistance; and on the
arrival of some domestics he instantly ran into the town of Enghien,
and ordering a postchaise drove off to Brussels, nor stopped he, except
to change horses, until he arrived at Ostend, where he instantly
embarked for England, never again to return to the Netherlands. The
two faithful friends never more beheld each other, one because he was
blind, the other on account of a horror which he could never overcome.
The duke was carried to Brussels and the first medical aid which the
Netherlands could produce immediately consulted. The most eminent
physicians and surgeons of France and England were sent for, but to no
purpose–the vision was for ever destroyed.

[Sidenote: A NOBLE SERVITOR.]

During my visit at Brussels, by the duke’s desire, I passed a few
days at Enghien. Being alone, I was entertained by an old family
steward, who always resided there. The family mansion having been
burnt, its place was supplied by two handsome pavilions. The old
domestic, who had been previously advised of my visit, was the most
respectable person for his station whom I ever met; in truth, he
appeared a perfect gentleman of the old school, as well in dress as
in address. Nearly seventy chill winters must have passed over his
head, but although those rigid seasons left many a rough stamp behind,
his sympathy and warm heart gave ample testimony that an equal number
of genial summers had done their part. His white hair was bound with
black ribbons and formed a massy queue, extending some way down his
shoulders; yet, silvered as were his venerable locks, he was highly
powdered too,–this always gives a peculiarly dressy appearance.
His coat was of the old-fashioned cut, sloping backwards from the
lower part of the breast to the extremity of the skirts and bearing
large steel buttons. His waistcoat was of a similar cut, having long
low-flapped pockets, below which were short velvet breeches, black
silk stockings and polished shoes with large silver buckles. To be
attended by such a personage during dinner distressed me very much.
I should have felt more easy if in place of serving he had sat down
and borne me company; this I proposed, but no remonstrance of mine
could prevail upon him to acquiesce. He remarked that he could never
so far forget his duty and respect as to sit at the same table with
his lord’s guest, and moreover that I should be without the attendance
which he had received orders to give. I then proposed that the young
lad who always rode after me should wait. To this he objected, unless
I ordered it, which I declined to do, perceiving by a half-muttered
expression that it would be indecorous to introduce a stable groom into
the dining-room. After dinner, which I hurried over, I insisted on his
placing a second wineglass and obliged him to sit down, stating that
there were many circumstances relative to his lord with which I wished
to become acquainted, and for which I had the duke’s authority. This
he considered as a mandate and sat down; yet such was the distance at
which he placed his chair from the table that he imposed upon himself
the obligation of standing up whenever I prevailed upon him to take his
glass of the good wine, which I had always to pour out for him.

During my stay at Enghien this respectable gentleman-butler related
many anecdotes of gallant deeds performed by the Dukes d’Arenberg, but
as was natural dwelt most upon those scenes which took place in his
own time. Next morning he conducted me to the spot where the fatal
accident deprived his lord of sight. The old man was of the shooting
party; and with tears in his eyes he described the whole scene most
minutely and pathetically. Having seen all the grounds, I returned to
the pavilion; but on that day too I could not prevail on the old man to
sit down to dinner, and finding him inflexible and being hurt at seeing
so old and so respectable a person on his legs whilst I sat at dinner,
I determined to depart next morning. On coming away I cordially shook
the good old man by the hand, and would most willingly have made some
donation, but I could not presume to offer him money, knowing how much
it would hurt him; I should as soon have offered such an affront to the
duke.

[Sidenote: THE FRIEND WHO SHOT HIM.]

When I returned to Brussels the good old duke asked me with the
greatest coolness if I had seen the spot where he was deprived of
sight. He seemed to treat the circumstance with perfect indifference;
but he evidently felt great emotion whenever the name of his unhappy
friend was mentioned, and I repeatedly heard him say, “My poor friend!
he suffers more than I do.” Some years after the accident took place
the duke visited England, and calling upon his friend, who happened
to be out, left his name and address. When the other returned and saw
the duke’s card, he instantly ordered post-horses and departed for
Italy, not being able to summon fortitude sufficient to encounter
that friend whom he so highly prized. The duke suffered much by this
disappointment; for although deprived of the power of seeing him, still
it would have afforded him the greatest consolation to press to his
bosom the friend whom he now more than ever esteemed. Not long after
the duke travelled into Italy, where he was doomed to experience a
similar disappointment. Happening to visit the same town in which his
friend was living for a time, he paid him a visit, but not finding him
at home did not leave his card, as he hoped to meet him another time;
but when the friend returned and heard from his servant a description
of the caller, he instantly set out for England. They never met after
the sad accident; and they both departed this life nearly at the same
moment.

During the duke’s sojourn in England he ordered a machine to be made
entirely imagined by himself, which in his lamentable state enabled
him to play at whist, a game to which he was very partial and which
afterwards principally contributed to his amusement. It was a small
mahogany box about eighteen inches long, six inches deep, and the same
in breadth; it screwed under the leaf of the table in front of where
the duke sat to play; in its side were four rows or little channels,
and in each channel were thirteen holes corresponding with the number
of cards in each suit; in each of these holes was a movable peg, which
could be pushed in or pulled out. The pack being dealt out, a page,
who sat close to the duke, sorted his cards, placing them in suits and
in order of value from left to right, each suit being separated from
the others by the duke’s fingers, between which they were placed by
the page. Beginning from the left with spades, hearts, diamonds and
clubs in order, the peg corresponding with each card in the duke’s hand
was drawn out, so that the duke passing his fingers over the machine
learned each card in his hand by means of the corresponding peg. Each
of the other players named the card which he played. For instance,
the person sitting on the left of the duke said, “I play the seven of
hearts”; the next, “I play the ten”; the third, “I play the queen,”
when the duke exclaimed, “And I play the king,” and infallibly down
came the king. I never saw him make a mistake. When he had played a
card he pushed in the peg corresponding to that card. On one occasion
having had the honour of being his partner against the Marquis de
Grimelle and another, I won a napoleon, which I bored and kept in
memory of having won it with a partner totally deprived of sight. The
duke was much pleased at my doing so.

The duke entertained in princely style. His table displayed the
choicest viands, the rarest productions of the seasons and the most
exquisite wines. I remarked that on fast-days there was a particular
kind of white soup always placed before the abbé who was attached to
the family. Curiosity induced me to ask Prince Prosper, next to whom I
always sat, of what this select soup consisted. The prince replied in a
suppressed tone of voice that it was extracted from frogs; “For,” said
he, “the Church has decided that those animals are not to be considered
as flesh: but yet, since the soup thus produced is not sufficiently
rich, a couple of pounds of veal are added; and although he is fully
aware of the deception practised, the abbé is so good a person that he
pardons the cook and absolves him from all sin.”

[Sidenote: LETTER FROM H.R.H. THE DUKE OF KENT.]

My leave of absence allowing me to remain no longer at Brussels, I
returned to England. At parting, the good, the truly noble old duke
presented me with a letter of introduction recommending me to the
protection of H.R.H. the Duke of Kent; and although, as I have stated,
he had been blind for many years, yet I saw him write the concluding
one or two lines and subscribe his name to this letter.

On my arrival in London, finding that the Duke of Kent was then at
Sidmouth, I presumed to write to him, enclosing Duke d’Arenberg’s
letter. In my letter to His Royal Highness I gave a short summary of
my services, at the same time stating that an introductory letter from
so humble an individual as myself to a personage of such exalted rank
could have no other object than that of soliciting His Royal Highness’s
protection in forwarding my military promotion. By return of post I was
honoured with the following reply:

“SIDMOUTH, _January 8th, 1820_.

“The Duke of Kent was favoured last night with Captain
Blakeney’s letter of the 6th instant, including one from his
esteemed and illustrious friend the Duke d’Arenberg, and he
feels anxious not to lose a moment in assuring Captain Blakeney
that if he possessed the means or influence necessary to
expedite his promotion they should _instantly_ be exerted to
the _utmost_ in his behalf both from the friendship and esteem
he bears the good duke through whom he has been introduced to
him, and from conceiving Captain Blakeney’s statement of his
services to warrant his friendly interference in his behalf;
but the fact is that the duke cannot interfere with any point
regarding army promotion beyond the limits of his own corps,
the Royal Scots, in which, from the circumstance of its having
been during the whole war double the strength of any other
regiment, there are too many claimants upon him for long and
faithful services for it to be in his power to hold out the
slightest expectation to Captain Blakeney of being able to
bring him into that corps. This he can assure the captain is
a matter of real regret to him, and he trusts when he says so
that Captain Blakeney will give him credit for his sincerity.
In concluding this letter, the duke feels it an act of justice
to the good Duke d’Arenberg to observe that it is impossible
for any gentleman to plead more warmly the cause of another
than His Serene Highness has that of Captain Blakeney, or to
state more strongly the obligations he owes him for his liberal
and friendly conduct towards the Prince Prosper whilst that
nobleman was a prisoner of war under his charge. If Captain
Blakeney should happen to be in town when the duke returns
to Kensington, which will probably be the end of March or
beginning of April, the duke will have great pleasure in
receiving him and in explaining the matter more fully to him
_viva voce_ than it is possible for him to do in a letter,
however extended the length of it might be. Should Captain
Blakeney have occasion to address the duke again previous to
his arrival, he is requested to leave his letter at Messrs.
Kirklands, No. 88, Bennet Street, St. James’s.

“CAPTAIN BLAKENEY, _36th Regiment_.”

I scarcely need say that such a letter as this from the son of my
Sovereign was to me most highly flattering, and on it was founded the
delusive expectation of presenting myself before His Royal Highness
and verifying the statement of my services as advanced in my letter. I
applied at the Horse Guards for copies of the different recommendations
forwarded from time to time in my favour by general and other officers,
as well as of those which accompanied my memorial presented to H.R.H.
the Duke of York in 1814. These were very liberally given to me, and
are as follows:

[Sidenote: LETTERS OF GRAHAM AND ABERCROMBIE.]

FROM THE RIGHT HONOURABLE GENERAL LORD LYNEDOCH, G.C.B.

“ISLA DE LEON, _March 30th, 1811_.

“SIR,–I have the honour to state to you that I have just
received a report from Lieutenant-Colonel Browne of the 28th
Regiment, who commanded the flank battalion which so greatly
distinguished itself in the action of the 5th instant (_i.e._,
at Barossa), of the eminent services of this officer. All
the other officers of the regiment left wounded, and himself
severely hurt by a contusion, he continued to animate and keep
the men of those companies together during the hottest fire,
giving the lieutenant-colonel the most essential assistance.
As Lieutenant Blakeney is a lieutenant of July 1805, I trust
this statement will be most favourably considered by the
commander-in-chief, and that this officer will soon reap the
reward of such distinguished conduct.

“I have the honour, etc., etc., etc.,
“THOMAS GRAHAM,
“_Lieutenant-General_.

“COLONEL TORRENS, _Military Secretary_.”

FROM THE HONOURABLE COLONEL ABERCROMBIE, C.B.

“ALBUQUERQUE, _November 20th, 1811_.

“SIR,–I have the honour to enclose to you herewith a memorial
which has been transmitted to me by Lieutenant Blakeney
belonging to the battalion under my command, and which I
request you will be good enough to forward to Major-General
Howard.

“As far as I had an opportunity of judging of the merits of
Lieutenant Blakeney, I have every reason to be well satisfied
with him as an officer of great zeal and activity. His
exertions at the battle of Barossa obtained him the approbation
of Lieutenant-General Graham, by whom he was recommended to the
commander-in-chief for promotion.

“His conduct also in the late action with the enemy at Arroyo
de Molinos was very conspicuous, and did not, I believe, pass
unnoticed by Lieutenant-General Hill.

“I have the honour to be, etc., etc., etc.,
“ALEXANDER ABERCROMBIE,
“_Lieutenant-Colonel 28th Regiment_.

“COLONEL WILSON, ETC., ETC., ETC., _commanding the Brigade_.”

[Sidenote: LETTERS OF HILL, BROWNE, AND OTHERS.]

FROM THE RIGHT HONOURABLE GENERAL LORD HILL, G.C.B.

“PORTALEGRE, _November 24th, 1811_.

“MY LORD,–I had an opportunity of witnessing Lieutenant
Blakeney’s zeal and gallantry at the head of the light infantry
which formed the advance guard of General Howard’s column at
Arroyo de Molinos on the 28th ultimo. I have therefore much
pleasure in forwarding and recommending his memorial herewith
enclosed.

“I have the honour to be, etc., etc., etc.,
“R. HILL,
“_Lieutenant-General_.

“LORD FITZROY SOMERSET, _Military Secretary_.”

FROM LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BROWNE, C.B., _late 28th Regiment, commanding
56th Regiment_.

“SHEERNESS, _October 4th, 1814_.

“MY DEAR BLAKENEY,–I have to acknowledge yours of the 28th
ultimo, and am happy to bear testimony to your gallant conduct
as an officer whenever an opportunity offered, which was
conspicuous in the battle of Barossa, so much so that it was
the cause of my recommending you to the protection of Sir
Thomas Graham. And believe me, my dear Blakeney, your ever
sincere friend,

“T. F. BROWNE.

“CAPTAIN BLAKENEY, _36th Regiment_.”

FROM LIEUTENANT-COLONEL CROSS, C.B.

“KILKENNY, _August 23rd, 1814_.

“SIR,–Understanding that Captain Blakeney is about
memorialising His Royal Highness the Commander-in-chief for the
rank of major in the army, founding his claims on his services
and wounds, I have great pleasure in bearing testimony to
the fact of his having twice volunteered to serve with this
battalion in the Peninsula before he was effective; and that
upon every occasion after his joining that the regiment was
in fire his conduct was highly meritorious, and his gallantry
when it was the proud lot of the battalion to charge and carry
the enemy’s redoubt on the heights of Andaya on November 10th
was most conspicuous; and on this occasion it was his great
misfortune to receive the severe wound under which he is still
suffering, and I accordingly with great respect presume to
recommend his case to the favourable consideration of His Royal
Highness the Commander-in-chief.

“I have the honour to be,
“WILLIAM CROSS,
“_Lieutenant-Colonel 36th Regiment_.

“MAJOR-GENERAL TORRENS, _Military Secretary_.”

FROM MAJOR-GENERAL SIR CHARLES BELSON, K.C.B.

“FERMOY BARRACKS, _August 22nd, 1814_.

“SIR,–Captain Blakeney of the 36th Regiment (late of the 28th
Regiment) having written to me for testimonials of his services
whilst under my command, to be submitted to you, I have the
honour of stating that he entered into the 28th Regiment very
young, and that he served with it until March 1812 in the
campaign under the late Sir John Moore, on that retreat and
at the battle of Corunna. He was in the light company, and
distinguished himself particularly at the Bridge of Betanzos.
His conduct was also conspicuous at Arroyo de Molinos, and was
noticed by Lieutenant-General Lord Hill upon that occasion. I
beg to add that he is an officer who will put himself forward
and distinguish himself whenever he may be employed, and
to recommend him for such reward or promotion as His Royal
Highness the Commander-in-chief may be pleased to grant.

“I have the honour to be, etc., etc., etc.,
C. BELSON,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL, _commanding 28th Regiment_

MAJOR-GENERAL TORRENS, _Military Secretary_.”

The above letter, which was enclosed to me, was accompanied with a note
containing the following few words:

“MY DEAR BLAKENEY,–I hope the enclosed will answer your
purpose (and in justice I could say no less) to promote your
wishes. I have not time to say more.

“Your friend,
“C. BELSON.

“P.S.–The first troops that leave this country will be your
old friends, the 28th.”

The above strong testimonials I never had an opportunity of presenting
to the illustrious personage for whose perusal they were intended.
The Duke of Kent did not survive to return to the capital. His Royal
Highness expired at Sidmouth, the place from which he did me the honour
of writing the letter quoted, the last perhaps which he ever either
penned or dictated. Thus in the general calamity which afflicted the
nation by the death of His Royal Highness, I was in common with the
whole of my fellow subjects doomed to mourn a great national loss; and
for myself deplored the untimely fate of a royal and generous prince,
who would have extended his protection to me, as his letter, I think,
clearly demonstrated.

[Sidenote: H.R.H. THE DUKE OF YORK MAKES A NOTE.]

In the early part of the year 1820 a partial brevet took place to
reward meritorious officers, whose names through oversight had been
passed over. I presented myself to H.R.H. the Duke of York, and asked
to be included. His Royal Highness replied that the partial promotion
contemplated was intended as a reward for services performed in the
field. I took the liberty of remarking that it was for services
performed in the field I applied for promotion, adding that I should
not value promotion otherwise obtained. The duke then said that in
mentioning services overlooked, allusion was made to those officers
whose names were mentioned in despatches. In reply I felt emboldened
to remark that, although my name was not mentioned in despatches, yet,
besides other strong testimonials, I was strongly recommended for
distinguished conduct in two different actions by the generals who
respectively commanded in each, than whom the British Army cannot boast
more brilliant military characters–Lords Hill and Lynedoch. His Royal
Highness was pleased to make a pencil note, and bowed. I retired; and
of the import of that note I remain to this day ignorant, as I never
had further communication on the subject.

During my interview with the Commander-in-chief I presented the Duke
of Kent’s letter, which was returned next day without comment. Against
the presentation of this letter I was strongly advised; but guided by
my own sentiments and feelings, I would not be dissuaded. I considered
that whatever difference of opinion might have subsisted between the
illustrious personages, all unfriendly feelings would cease in the
breast of the survivor. Yet, though I felt chagrin at the little
notice taken of His Royal Highness’s letter, I consoled myself a
little with the thought that the infant Princess Victoria, coming in
nature’s course to the throne, might perhaps be pleased to take into
consideration that which her royal sire had expressed so much anxiety
to promote. But the royal brothers now lie side by side in peace, and
so close that

“The vet’ran’s sigh, to gallant York that’s sent,
Glides trembling o’er the breast of virtuous Kent”;

and the time has gone by for vexing either with my claims.

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