Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

we

“O yes, do !” said Lamia. Ve- | The oasthouse smoke, the hop-bine burn, ronica said nothing, but the silence that Knowing that all good things return followed seemed filled with an unspoken To Love that lasts ! request. Hitherto the nightingales liad If Love could last, who then would mind been competing with each other in the The freezing rack, the unfeeling wind, contiguous brakes. Now, as though The curdling pool, the shivering sedge, they knew our desire, they desisted The empty nest in leafless hedge, for a while, and in the gathering dark Brown dripping bents and furrows bare, ness, rendered deeper by the drooping The wild-geese clamoring through the air, branches of the wide-spreading oak,

The huddling kine, the sodden leaves, listened to lines none of us had heard Lack-lustre dawns and clammy eaves ?

For then through twilight days morose before.

We should within keep warm and close, If Love could last, if Love could last, And by the friendly fireside blaze The Future be as was the Past,

Talk of the ever-sacred days Nor faith and fondness ever know

When first we met, and felt how drear
The chill of dwindling afterglow,

Were life without the other near ;
O! then we should not have to long Or, too at peace with bliss to speak,
For cuckoo's call and throstle's song,

Sit hand-in-hand, and cheek-to-cheek,
But every season then would ring

If Love could last ! With rapturous voices of the Spring.

Was it fancy that made me think I In budding brake and grassy glade

caught the sound of a sigh, almost of a The primrose then would never fade, The windflower flag, the bluebell haze

sob? But no untimely word of thanks Faint from the winding woodland ways,

or praise marred the consentaneous But vernal hopes chase wintry fears,

silence. Moon there was none; only And happy smiles and happier tears

here and there a dimly discerned Be like the sun and clouds at play, - outrider of the night. Then the nightIf Love could last !

ingales resumed their unobtrusive noc

turn, and the odor of unseen flowers If Love could last, the rose would then Not bloom but once, to fade again.

came floating on the dewy air from the June to the lily would not give

garden that I love. A life less fair than fugitive,

ALFRED AUSTIN. But flower and leaf and lawn renew Their freshness nightly with the dew. In forest dingles, dim and deep, Where curtained noonday lies asleep, The faithful ringdove ne'er would cease

From Blackwood's Magazine, Its anthem of abiding peace.

1ST MARCH, 1871. All the year round we then should stray In the early morning of 1st March, Through fragrance of the new-mown hay, 1871, Laurence Oliphant (who was Or sit and ponder old-world rhymes then correspondent of the Times) and I Under the leaves of scented limes.

left the Hôtel Chatham to walk up the Careless of Time, we should not fear

Champs Elysées to a balcony in the The footsteps of the fleeting year,

Avenue de la Grande Armée, from Or, did the long warm days depart,

which we were to view the entry of the 'Twould still be Summer in our heart,

Germans into Paris.

The sky was Did Love but last !

grey ; the air was full of mist ; not a Did Love but last, no shade of grief soul was to be seen; the shutters of For fading flower, for falling leaf,

every house were closed ; a day of naFor stubbles whence the piled-up wain tional humiliation could not have comHath borne away the golden grain,

menced more dismally. I remember Leaving a load of loss behind, Would shock the heart and haunt the mind. that we felt an oppressive sensation of With mellow gaze we then should see

loneliness and gloom, which we comThe ripe fruit shaken from the tree,

municated to each other at the same The swallows troop, the acorns fall,

instant, and then laughed at the simulThe last peach redden on the wall,

taneity of our thoughts.

At the Arch of Triumph were two glish represented the rest of the world, men in blouses, the first we met. They as we generally do ou sucl occasions. were staring through the mist. at the We gazed hard at the Porte Maillot, Porte Maillot, and we proceeded to from which we were distant about a stare too, for it was from that gate that quarter of a mile ; but though the mist the entry was to be made. So far as bad begun to lift a little, it was still too we could see, the whole place was thick to allow anything to be distinabsolutely empty ; but our eyes were guished clearly on the Neuilly road. not quite reliable, for the fog on the We looked and looked again in vain. low ground was so thick that it was It was not till we had waited, somewhat impossible to make out anything. That impatiently, for half an hour, that, at a fog might be full of troops, for all we quarter past eight, some one exclaimed, knew.

“I do believe I see moving specks out It was then about half past seven, there beyond the gate.” Up went all and as we had been told the night be- our glasses, and there they were ! We fore that the advanced-guard would recognized more and more distinctly come in at eight, we thought, after six semen coming, and evidently standing for some minutes on the heaps coming fast, for they grew bigger and of gravel which had been thrown up sharper as each second passed. One during the siege to form a trench and seemed to be in front, the other five barricade under and around the Arch, behind. that we had better move on to our As we watched eagerly they reached balcony. Meanwhile, however, some the open gate, dashed through it, and twenty or thirty other blouses, evil-faced the instant they were inside the five and wretched, had come up, and eyed behind spread out right and left across us with undisguised suspicion, and con- the broad avenue, as if to occupy it. sulted each other apparently, as to what The one in front, who, so far as we we could be, and what they should do could see, had been riding until then at to us. We left them hesitating, and a canter, broke into a hand-gallop, and walked on.

then into a full gallop, and came tearA group of Englishmen gathered on ing up the hill. As he neared us we • that balcony a dozen curious sight- saw he was a hussar officer a boy

The owner of the house was he did not look eighteen! He charged Mr. Corbett, who was afterwards min- past us, his sword uplifted, his head ister at Stockholm ; amongst the others, thrown back, his eyes fixed straight so far as I remember, were Mr. Elliot, before him, and one of us cried out, the Duke of Manchester, Captain Trot- “ By Jove, if that fellow's mother ter, and Lord Ronald Gower. Except. could see him she'd have something to ing the men in blouses about the Arch, be proud of for the rest of her time!” who by this time had multiplied to at The youngster raced on far ahead of least a hundred, there was nobody his men, but at the Arch of Triumph within sight. The void was painful. the blouses faced him. So, as he Not a window was open (excepting in would not ride them down in order to the rooms to which we had come); our go through (and if he had tried it lie balcony alone was peopled ; one of the would only have broken his own neck greatest historic spectacles of our time and his horse's too in the trench), he was about to be enacted in front of us ; waved his sword at them, and at slackyet, save ourselves and the blouses, ened speed passed round. We caught there was no public to contemplate it. sight of him on the other side through The French who lived up there refused the archway, his sword high up, as if to look, or, if they did look, it was from he were saluting the vanquishied city at behind their shutters. Such part of his feet. But he did not stop for sentithe educated population as were in ment. He cantered on, came back, Paris that day (most of them were ab- and as his five mien had got up by that sent) hid themselves in grief. We En-time (he had outpaced them by a couple

[ocr errors]

seel's.

of minutes), he gave them orders, and More and more troops marched up, off they went, one to each diverging infantry and cavalry, but always in avenue and rode down it a short dis- small numbers ; the mass of the Gertance to see that all was right.

mau arıny was at Longchamps, for the The boy trotted slowly round and great review to be held that morning round the Arch, the blouses glaring at by the emperor, and the thirty thouhim.

sand men who, under the convention The entry was over that is to say, of occupation, were to enter Paris (in the Germans were inside Paris. That reality, about forty thousand came), boy had done it all alone. The moral were not to appear till the review was effect was produced. Nothing more of over. that sort could be seen from the bal- At nine o'clock the commander of cony. We took it for granted that the the occupation (General von Kameke) rest, when it came, would only be a rode in with an escort. At his side march past, and that thenceforth the was Count Waldersee, who during the interest of the drama would be in the war had been chief of the staff to the street. So to the street Oliphant and I Duke of Mecklenburg, to whose army returned, two others accompanying us. Oliphant had been attached. Seeing The remainder of the party, if I re- Waldersee, Oliphant jumped out to member right, stopped where they greet him, shook hands with him were for some time longer.

warmly, chatted gaily, and, after showJust as we got to the Arch the boy ing various signs of intimacy, came came round once more. I went to him back towards us laughing, as the other and asked his name.

rode on. This was, not unnaturally, 6 What for ?” he inquired.

too much for those of the blouses who “ To publish it in London to-morrow saw it; and, before Oliphant could morning."

reach us, they rushed at him. Some 6. Oh I that's it, is it ?” he remarked, hit him, some tried to trip him up; a with a tinge of the contempt for news- good dozen of them were on him. A papers which all German officers dis- couple of us made a plunge after him, play. “Well, I'm von Bernhardi, 14th roared to the blouses that he was an Hussars. Only, if you're going to Englishman, and that they had no right. print it, please give my captain's name to touch him ; and somehow (I have also ; he's von Colomb."

never understood how) we pulled him (I heard, the last time I was in Ger- out undamaged, but a good deal out of mauy, that the brave boy Bernhardi is breath and with his jacket torn. The dead, and that Colomb was then colonel blouses howled at us, and bestowed of the King's Hussars, at Bonn.) ungentle epithets on us, and followed

Five minutes later a squadron of the us, and menaced ; but we got away regiment came up, and Lieutenant von into another part of the constantly Bernhardi's command-in-chief expired. thickening crowd, and promised each But the youngster had made a history other that we would speak no for his name ; he was the first German that day to Germans. I need scarcely into Paris in 1871.

say that the mob was unchecked masWe stood amongst the blouses, and ter, that the Germans would not have wondered whether they would wring, interfered in any fight that did not diour necks. We were clean, presum- rectly concern them, and that neither ably we had money in our pockets, and a French policeman nor a French solI had spoken to a German — three uu- dier was present to keep order within pardonable offences. No attack, how the limits of the district fixed for the ever, was made on any of us for the occupation. Those limits were the moment. Now that I look back on the Place de la Concorde on the east, the particular circumstances, I fail to com- Faubourg St. Honoré and the Avenue prehend why they were good enough des Ternes on the north, the Seine on to abstain.

the south.

[ocr errors]

more

Dess.

a

as

By ten the sun had worked through creditable to them. So long as they the fog, and also, þy ten, a consider- were not provoked by some particular able number of the inhabitants of Paris cause, they remained quiet and showed had become unable to resist the temp- no rage. They wanted to behold a retation of seeing a new sight, and had markable sight that was offered for come out to the show. At that hour their inspection, and though beyond there must have been thirty or forty doubt it vexed them, their vexation thousand people in the upper part of was not strong enough to check their the Champs Elysées ; the gloom of the curiosity. At least that was our im

pression from we been ; all was movement and bright-| At half past one I had wandered

The crowd, which in the after- back alone to the Avenue de la Grande noon we estimated at from a hundred to Armée, where the crowd had become a hundred and fifty thousand, was com- very dense, filling up, indeed, the enposed, for the greater part, of blouses ; tire roadway. On the other side I saw but mixed with them were a quantity a horseman trying to work his way of decent people, from all parts of the through. It was Mr. W. H. Russell. town, women and children as well I could not get to him to speak, but I

men, belonging, apparently, to knew by his presence there that the the classes of small shopkeepers, em- review (to which he had ridden from ployees, and workmen. From morning Versailles) was over, and that, before to night I did not perceive one single very long, the real march in would geutleman ; nor was a shutter opened commence. It did not occur to me at in the Champs Elysées. The upper the moment that Mr. Russell was doing strata kept out of sight; it was the a risky thing in cutting across the mob other couches, especially the very low- on a prosperous horse, which maniest, that had come out.

festly had not gone through the siegeDirectly troops enough were in to time in Paris. It was not till some supply pickets, sentries were posted at hours later that I learnt how nearly the the street-corners ; patrols were set go- mob had killed him. ing ; a guard was mounted at the house At last, at two o'clock, thick dust of Queen Christina, in the Champs arose outside the Porte Maillot, and I Elysées, which had been selected for made out with my glass that the people the German headquarters. We looked were being pressed back at the gate, on at all this, at first with close atten- and that troops were advancing slowly tion, but by degrees the state of things - for the mob would not make way, grew rather dull. In times of great and the Germans were patient and excitement, events seem to become stu- gentle with them. The head of the pid so soon as they cease, temporarily, column got up creepingly as far as the to be dangerous. Besides, for the Arch of Triumph; but then came a moment, the interest of the day had dead block. The gathering of people changed its place and nature ; it was filled up the Place de l'Etoile and the no longer in the German army, but in upper part of the Avenue des Champs the Freuch crowd ; not in the entry, Elysées, and packed it all so solidly but in the reception. As we had that often, for minutes at a time, the rightly judged, the drama was in the cavalry could not move ahead. A good street. So we stood about and watched half-hour passed before space was the people, and talked to some of them, cleared for the emperor's headquarters and thought that, on the whole, they staff; and even then, for nearly anbehaved very well. Of course they other balf-hour after the staff had would have done better still if they had reached the Neuilly side of the Arch, stopped at home, and had left the Ger- they had to sit still upon their horses, mans severely alone ; but, as they had unable to progress one yard. thought fit to come, they also thought And what a staff it was! With the fit to keep their tempers, which was exception of the Crown Prince Fred

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

was

[ocr errors]

The top

erick, every prince in the army - and i horses from me - to make out the esthat meant almost every prince in Ger- pression of his face, which was then many — and heaps of officers of high fully exposed to me; but there was no rank, had come up from the review to marked expression on it. Al tbat motake part in the ride in. At their head, ment of intense victory, when all was alone, sat the late Duke Ernest of won, inside surrendered Paris, with Saxe-Coburg, taking precedence as the the whole world thinking of him, he senior reigning sovereign present. Be- seemed indifferent, fatigued, almost hind him were rows on rows of mem- sad. bers of the royal and historic families Suddenly I saw that his horse's head of Germany, some twenty in a row, was moving from the line ; he and, including aides-de-camp and order coming out.

He turned to the right, lies, some thirty rows ! In every sort in my direction ; he raised his hand to and color of uniform, they stretched the salute as he passed before his across the full width of the great ave- neiglıbors to the end of the rank, came nue from curbstone to curbstone, and straight towards me, and guided his would have filled up the pathways loo horse in between the column of officers if they had not been already choked and the tightly jammed crowd on the with French spectators.

I had the pavement. It seemed impossible be good fortune to work my way to the could find room to pass, so little space corner of the pavement where the was there ; but pass he did. Place de l'Etoile opens out, and there of his jackboot brushed hard against I stood and gazed.

my waistcoat; but with all my desire to The sun shone splendidly ; the mob get out of his way I could not struggle stared silently ; the princes waited backwards, because of the denseness tranquilly.

of the throng behind me. No FrenchI recognized many faces that I had man recoynized him. I have wondered got to know at Versailles during the since what would bave happened if I siege. I saw Meiningens, and Hohen- had told the people who he was. Would zollern, and Altenburgs, and Lippes, they have gaped at him in bating siand Reuss, and Pless, and Schønburgs, lence? Would they have cursed him Waldecks, Wieds, Hohenlohes, and aloud ? Would they have flung stones Mecklenburgs, and other names that at him ? Or would they, as a safer are written large in the chronicles of solution, have battered me for the crime the Fatherland.

of knowing him by sight? He rode on And as I went on looking, my eyes slowly down the hill, making his way fell on the front rank, and the fourth with dificulty. I heard next day that, man in

rank was Bismarck. once outside the gate, he trolled straight His right hand was twisted into his back to Versailles. horse's mane ; his helmeted head hung So, on that marvellous occasion down upon his chest, so low that I occasion which he, of all men, had could perceive nothing of his face ex- most contributed to create — he did not cept the tip of his nose and the ends of enter Paris after all (beyond the Arch his moustache. There he sat, motion of Triumph, I mean). A friend to less, evidently in deep thought. After whom I told this story some years later, I had watched him for a couple of min- took an opportunity to ask him what utes (I need scarcely say that, having was his reason for riding away and for discovered him, I ceased to look at taking no further part in the day's anybody else), le raised his head work. He answered, “Why, I saw slowly and fixed bis eyes on the top of that all was going on well, and that the Arch, which was just in front of there would be no row ; I had a lot to him, some eighty yards off. In that do at Versailles, so I went and did it.” position he remained, once more mo- If that was in reality his sole motive, tionless, for a while. I did my best — he proved that he possessed, at that he was only the thickness of three period of liis life, a power of self

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »