[Transcriber's Note: A table of contents has been added for the reader's convenience. Minor, obvious printer errors have been corrected without note. Numbers in brackets are footnotes, which are set forth below the paragraphs in which they appear. Numbers in parentheses appearing in the narrative are endnotes, which can be found in the Notes to Lady De Lancey's Narrative.]
A WEEK AT WATERLOO IN 1815
LADY DE LANCEY'S NARRATIVE
BEING AN ACCOUNT OF HOW SHE NURSED HER HUSBAND, COLONEL SIR WILLIAM HOWE DE LANCEY, QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL OF THE ARMY, MORTALLY WOUNDED IN THE GREAT BATTLE
EDITED BY MAJOR B.R. WARD ROYAL ENGINEERS
LONDON JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W. 1906
"Dim is the rumour of a common fight, When host meets host, and many names are sunk; But of a single combat Fame speaks clear."
—Sohrab and Rustum.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS INTRODUCTION A WEEK AT WATERLOO IN 1815 NOTES TO LADY DE LANCEY'S NARRATIVE APPENDIX A—Letters to Captain Basil Hall, R.N., from Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens APPENDIX B—Bibliography of Lady De Lancey's Narrative INDEX
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
MAJOR WILLIAM HOWE DE LANCEY, 45th Regt. of Foot, c. 1800. From a miniature in the possession of Wm. Heathcote De Lancey of New York Frontispiece
THE GOLD CROSS OF SIR WM. DE LANCEY, received after serving in the Peninsular War, with clasps for Talavera, Nive, Salamanca, San Sebastian, and Vittoria. In the possession of Major J.A. Hay Face p. 10
LADY DE LANCEY. From a miniature after J.D. Engleheart " 24
PART OF AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER OF SIR WALTER SCOTT " 34
PART OF AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER OF CHARLES DICKENS " 36
COLONEL SIR WILLIAM HOWE DE LANCEY, c. 1813 " 38
MAP OF PART OF THE BATTLEFIELD OF WATERLOO " 110
THE VILLAGE OF MONT ST JEAN, 1815 " 113
THE WATERLOO MEMORIAL IN EVERE CEMETERY " 118
A WEEK AT WATERLOO IN 1815
The following narrative, written over eighty years ago, and now at last given to the world in 1906, is remarkable in many respects.
It is remarkable for its subject, for its style, and for its literary history.
The subject—a deathbed scene—might seem at first sight to be a trite and common one. The mise-en-scene—the Field of Waterloo—alone however redeems it from such a charge; and the principal actors play their part in no common-place or unrelieved tragedy. "Certainly," as Bacon says, "Vertue is like pretious Odours, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed: For Prosperity doth best discover Vice; But Adversity doth best discover Vertue."
As to the style, it will be sufficient to quote the authority of Dickens for the statement that no one but Defoe could have told the story in fiction.
Its literary history is even more remarkable than either its style or its subject.
It is no exaggeration to say of the narrative—as Bacon said of the Latin volume of his Essays—that it "may last as long as Bookes last." And yet it has remained in manuscript for more than eighty years. This is probably unique in the history of literature since the Invention of Printing.
As regards the hero of the narrative, the Duke of Wellington once said that he "was an excellent officer, and would have risen to great distinction had he lived."
[Footnote 1: Notes of Conversations with the Duke of Wellington, by Earl Stanhope, p. 183.]
Captain Arthur Gore, who afterwards became Lieutenant-General Gore, alludes to him in the following terms: "This incomparable officer was deservedly esteemed by the Duke of Wellington, who honoured him with his particular confidence and regard."
[Footnote 2: Explanatory Notes on the Battle of Waterloo, by Captain Arthur Gore, 1817, p. 83.]
His ancestors, for several generations, had been men of great distinction, and he undoubtedly inherited their great qualities in a very high degree.
The De Lancey family is one of Huguenot origin, the founder of the family, Etienne De Lancey, having fled from France at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
[Footnote 3: In French annals the family can be traced back to the time of the Hundred Years' War. The first of the name, of whom there is any authentic record, was Guy de Lancy, Vicomte de Laval et de Nouvion, who in 1432 held of the Prince Bishop of Laon and Nouvion, villages and territories a few miles south of that city. See History of New York during the Revolutionary War, by Thomas Jones, edited by Edward Floyd De Lancey, vol i., p. 651, and Dictionnaire de la Noblesse de France, vol. viii., title "Lancy."]
The following extracts treating of the family history are taken from Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography.
The author of the articles, Edward Floyd De Lancey, was born in 1821, and died at Ossining, N.Y., on the 7th April 1905. At one time he held the position of President of the New York Genealogical Society, and has done a great deal of work in the field of historical research.
[Footnote 4: For biographical sketch, see Appleton's Cyclopaedia, vol. ii., p. 130.]
"Etienne De Lancey (great-grandfather of Sir William De Lancey), was born in Caen, France, 24th October 1663; and died in the city of New York, 18th November 1741. Having been compelled, as a Protestant, to leave France on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (18th October 1685), he escaped into Holland. Deciding to become a British subject and to emigrate to America, he crossed to England and took the oath of allegiance to James II. He landed in New York, 7th June 1686. His mother had given him, on his departure from Caen, a portion of the family jewels. He sold them for L300, became a merchant, and amassed a fortune of L100,000. He married Anne, second daughter of Stephanus van Cortlandt, 23rd January 1700. He took a prominent part in public affairs, representing the fourth ward of New York as alderman in 1691-93, and was a member of Assembly for twenty-four years. While sitting in the latter body he gave his salary, during one session, to purchase the first town-clock erected in New York; and with the aid of his partner imported and presented to the city the first fire-engine that had been brought into the province. The De Lancey house, built by Etienne in 1700 upon a piece of land given to him by his father-in-law, is now the oldest building in the city of New York." Mr De Lancey was buried in the family vault in Trinity Church, New York.
[Footnote 5: Appleton's Cyclopaedia, vol. ii., p. 129.]
Three of his sons, James, Peter, and Oliver, left descendants. Descendants of the eldest son, James, amongst whom were included Edward Floyd De Lancey, the historian of the family, are resident in the city of New York, and also at Ossining, N.Y. Descendants of the second son, Peter, are now living in the county of Annapolis, Nova Scotia.
[Footnote 6: For further details of this branch of the family, see the History of the County of Annapolis, by Calnek and Savary, pp. 339-344 and 499.]
The third son, Oliver, grandfather of the hero of the present narrative, went to England after the Revolutionary War. No direct descendants of his in the male line would appear to be now living.
The following is the account of his life as given in Appleton's Cyclopaedia:—
"Oliver, the youngest son of Etienne, was born in New York City, 16th September 1708; and died in Beverley, Yorkshire, England, 27th November 1785. He was originally a merchant, being a member of the firm founded by his father. He early took an active part in public affairs, and was noted for his decision of character and personal popularity. He represented the city of New York in the Assembly in 1756-60, and served as alderman of the out-ward from 1754 till 1757. He was active in military affairs during the entire French War, and, in 1755, obtained leave from Connecticut to raise men there for service in New York, for which he received the thanks of the Assembly of his own province. In March 1758 he was appointed to the command of the forces then being collected for the expedition against Crown Point, and succeeded in raising the entire New York City regiment within ten days. He was placed at the head of the New York contingent, under General Abercrombie (about 5000 strong), as Colonel-in-Chief. In the attack on Fort Ticonderoga, 8th July 1758, he supported Lord Howe, and was near that officer when he fell mortally wounded. In November of the same year the Assembly of New York again voted him its thanks 'for his great service, and singular care of the troops of the colony while under his command.' In 1760 he was appointed a member of the Provincial Council, retaining his seat until 1776. In 1763 he was made Receiver-General, and in 1773 Colonel-in-Chief of the Southern military district of the province. 'In June 1776,' says the historian Jones, 'he joined General Howe on Staten Island; and, had that officer profited by his honest advice, the American War, I will be bold to say, would have ended in a very different manner to what it did.' In September of that year he raised three regiments of Loyalists, largely at his own expense, of 500 men each, known as 'De Lancey's battalions.' Of these regiments a brigade was formed, and Colonel De Lancey was commissioned Brigadier-General in the Loyalist service. He was assigned to the command of Long Island, where he remained during the war. One of his battalions served in the South with great credit, under his son-in-law, Colonel John Harris Cruger, doing effective service in the defence of Fort Ninety-six against General Greene. In November 1777, his country-seat at Bloomingdale, on the Hudson, was robbed and burned at night by a party of Americans from the water-guard at Tarrytown, his wife and daughters being driven from the house in their night-dresses and compelled to spend the night in the fields, now the Central Park. Having been attainted, and his immense estates in New York and New Jersey confiscated, General De Lancey retired to England, where he resided in Beverley until his death. Of his four daughters, Susanna married Sir William Draper, while Charlotte became the wife of Sir David Dundas, K.C.B., who succeeded the Duke of York as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army."
[Footnote 7: Appleton's Cyclopaedia, vol. ii., p. 132.]
In the Life of Van Schaak, his decease is mentioned thus by a fellow-Loyalist: "Our old friend has at last taken his departure from Beverley, which he said should hold his bones; he went off without pain or struggle, his body wasted to a skeleton, his mind the same. The family, most of them, collected in town (London). There will scarcely be a village in England without some American dust in it, I believe, by the time we are all at rest."
[Footnote 8: Loyalists of the American Revolution (Sabine), vol. i., 365.]
Stephen, the eldest son of Brigadier-General Oliver De Lancey, and father of Sir William De Lancey, was born in New York City about 1740; and died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, December 1798. He was educated in England, and practised law in New York before the Revolutionary War, during which he served as Lieutenant-Colonel of the "De Lancey's" second battalion. After the war he was appointed Chief Justice of the Bahama Islands, and subsequently was made Governor of Tobago and its dependencies. His health becoming impaired while he held the latter office, he sailed for England to rejoin his family. But he grew rapidly worse on the voyage, and, at his own request, was transferred to an American vessel bound for Portsmouth, N.H., where he died, and was buried a few days after his arrival.
[Footnote 9: The following is an extract from the Parish Register of St John's Church, Portsmouth, N.H.
- "1798. RECORD OF DEATHS. - Decbr. 6th His Excellency, Stephen De Lancy, Governour of Tobago, who died, the night after his arrival in the harbour of this town, of a decline which had been upon him for six months, aged 50 years." -
Mr De Lancey was buried in the Wentworth tomb, in St John's Churchyard, where many of the Wentworth Governors of New Hampshire and their families are buried.—ED.]
Sir William De Lancey, soldier, only son of the preceding, was born in New York about 1781, and died in June 1815, in consequence of wounds received at the battle of Waterloo. He was educated in England, and early entered the British army. He served with great distinction under Wellington in Spain, and was several times honourably mentioned in his despatches.
[Footnote 10: This date agrees with the tradition handed down in the family with Lady De Lancey's narrative, to the effect that he was only thirty-four at the time of his death at Waterloo.—ED.]
[Footnote 11: Vide Gurwood's Despatches of the Duke of Wellington, 2nd edition, vol. iii., pp. 227 and 229; vol. v., p. 476; vol. vi., p. 542. Sir Harry Smith, a soldier of soldiers—"inter milites miles"—speaks of him in his Autobiography as "that gallant fellow De Lancey." (Autobiography of Sir Harry Smith, vol. i., p. 266.)]
At the close of the war he was made a Knight of the Bath. When Napoleon landed from Elba, Wellington, in forming his staff, insisted on having De Lancey appointed as his Quartermaster-General. The officer really entitled to the promotion was Sir William's brother-in-law, Sir Hudson Lowe; but as Wellington had conceived a dislike for him, he refused to accept that officer in that capacity. The military authorities, however, insisted on his appointment, and it was only when Wellington made the promotion of De Lancey a sine qua non of his acceptance of the supreme command that the former yielded. Six weeks before the battle of Waterloo, Sir William married the daughter of Sir James Hall of Dunglass, the Scottish scientist. His bride accompanied him on the Continent. On the second day of the battle Sir William was knocked from his horse by a spent cannon-ball, and it was at first supposed that he had been instantly killed. Thirty-six hours afterwards he was discovered, still alive and in his senses, but incapable of motion, although without any visible wound. Notwithstanding the skill of the surgeons, and the tender care of his wife, he succumbed to his injuries nine days after the battle.
[Footnote 12: It was not till the 16th December 1815—six months after Waterloo—that Sir Hudson Lowe married Mrs Susan Johnson, sister of Sir William De Lancey. (Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xxxiv., p. 191.) See also The Creevey Papers, Third Edition (1905), p. 247.]
[Footnote 13: "Wellington assumed command in the Netherlands early in April 1815, and Lowe, who had been acting as Quartermaster-General in the Low Countries under the command of the Prince of Orange, remained for a few weeks under him as his Quartermaster-General; but having been nominated to command the troops in Genoa designed to co-operate with the Austro-Sardinian armies, he was replaced in May by Sir William Howe De Lancey." (Dictionary of National Biography, art. "Lowe, Sir Hudson," vol. xxxiv., p. 191.) See also The Creevey Papers, Third Edition (1905), p. 247.
The following extract of a letter from Major-General Sir H. Torrens to Earl Bathurst, Secretary for War, dated Ghent, 8th April 1815, alludes to the hitch about Sir Hudson Lowe: "I shall communicate fully with the Commander-in-Chief upon the Duke of Wellington's wishes respecting his Staff.... As you were somewhat anxious about Sir Hudson Lowe, I must apprise you that he will not do for the Duke." (Supplementary Despatches of the Duke of Wellington, vol. x., pp. 42 and 43.) (Cf. The Creevey Papers, Third Edition (1905), p. 289.)
Evidently Sir Hudson Lowe was no more of a persona grata to Wellington than he afterwards became to Napoleon!
A letter from Major-General Sir H. Torrens, who appears to have been acting at the time as Military Secretary to the Duke of York, Commander-in-Chief at the Horse Guards, written to the Duke of Wellington from London on the 16th April 1815, shows the high estimation in which the Duke held De Lancey's services:—
"De Lancey is in town on his way to go out.... I told him the very handsome and complimentary manner in which you asked for his services, and assured him that nothing could be so gratifying, in my view of the case, to his military and professional feelings as the desire you expressed to me of having him again with you." (Supplementary Despatches of the Duke of Wellington, vol. x., p. 130.)
That the Duke felt deeply the interference of Headquarters with his selection of Staff Officers is clearly shown by the following letter, written by him to Earl Bathurst, Secretary for War, dated Bruxelles, 4th May 1815:—
"To tell you the truth, I am not very well pleased with the manner in which the Horse Guards have conducted themselves towards me. It will be admitted that the army is not a very good one, and, being composed as it is, I might have expected that the Generals and Staff formed by me in the last war would have been allowed to come to me again; but instead of that, I am overloaded with people I have never seen before; and it appears to be purposely intended to keep those out of my way whom I wished to have. However I'll do the best I can with the instruments which have been sent to assist me." (Supplementary Despatches of the Duke of Wellington, vol. x., p. 219.)]
[Footnote 14: See Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xxiv., p. 68.]
[Footnote 15: On the 18th June, at Waterloo; the battle of Quatre Bras having been fought on the 16th.—ED.]
[Footnote 16: Appleton's Cyclopaedia, vol. ii., pp. 132, 133.]
There are several references to De Lancey's death in the "Letters of Colonel Sir Augustus S. Frazer, K.C.B., commanding the R.H.A. in the army under the Duke of Wellington, written during the Peninsular and Waterloo campaigns," edited by Major-General Sir Edward Sabine, R.A. On the 29th June Sir Augustus writes to Lady Frazer from Mons: "I regret to state that poor De Lancey is dead; so Hume, the Duke's surgeon, told me. He had opened the body; eight ribs were forced from the spine, one totally broke to pieces, and part of it in the lungs. Poor De Lancey! He is our greatest loss; a noble fellow and an admirable officer," p. 582.
In connection with the foregoing, it will be interesting to compare the account of De Lancey's wound given in the Dictionary of National Biography:—
"The Duke of Wellington gave the following version of the occurrence to Samuel Rogers: 'De Lancey was with me, and speaking to me when he was struck. We were on a point of land that overlooked the plain. I had just been warned off by some soldiers (but as I saw well from it, and two divisions were engaging below, I said "Never mind"), when a ball came bounding along en ricochet, as it is called, and, striking him on the back, sent him many yards over the head of his horse. He fell on his face, and bounded upwards and fell again. All the staff dismounted and ran to him, and when I came up he said, 'Pray tell them to leave me and let me die in peace.' I had him conveyed to the rear, and two days after, on my return from Brussels, I saw him in a barn, and he spoke with such strength that I said (for I had reported him killed), 'Why! De Lancey, you will have the advantage of Sir Condy in "Castle Rackrent"—you will know what your friends said of you after you were dead.' 'I hope I shall,' he replied. Poor fellow! We knew each other ever since we were boys. But I had no time to be sorry. I went on with the army, and never saw him again."
[Footnote 17: "Recollections of Samuel Rogers," under "Waterloo." From the article on "Sir William De Lancey," by H. Manners Chichester, in the Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xiv., pp. 304, 305.]
The following is the extract from Wellington's official despatch of the 19th June, referring to De Lancey:—
"I had every reason to be satisfied with the conduct of the Adjutant-General, Major-General Barnes, who was wounded, and of the Quartermaster-General, Colonel De Lancey, who was killed by a cannon-shot in the middle of the action. This officer is a serious loss to His Majesty's service, and to me at this moment."
[Footnote 18: Gurwood, vol. viii., p. 150. Cf. Letters of Colonel Sir Augustus S. Frazer, K.C.B., dated Nivelles, June 20: "De Lancey is said to be dead: this is our greatest loss, none can be greater, public or private," p. 550.]
At the end of the despatch there is a P.S. announcing the death of Major-General Sir William Ponsonby, followed by a second P.S. couched in the following terms: "I have not yet got the returns of killed and wounded, but I enclose a list of officers killed and wounded on the two days, as far as the same can be made out without the returns; and I am very happy to add that Colonel De Lancey is not dead, and that strong hopes of his recovery are entertained."
That the Duke felt keenly his severe losses in killed and wounded, especially amongst the members of his Staff, is shown by the following reminiscence of General Alava, as told by him, two years after the battle, to Sir Harry Smith and his wife—the lady now immortalised by the name Ladysmith, emblazoned on the colours or accoutrements of thirty-five British regiments.
[Footnote 19: A Spanish naval officer who served on the Staff of the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War and at Waterloo. Alava enjoyed the unique distinction of having been present both at Trafalgar and Waterloo. At the former battle he commanded a Spanish line-of-battle ship.—ED.]
On the evening of the battle, "the Duke got back to his quarters at Waterloo about nine or ten at night. The table was laid for the usual number, while none appeared of the many of his Staff but Alava and Fremantle. The Duke said very little, ate hastily and heartily, but every time the door opened he gave a searching look, evidently in the hope of some of his valuable Staff approaching. When he had finished eating, he held up both hands in an imploring attitude and said, 'The hand of Almighty God has been upon me this day,' jumped up, went to his couch, and was asleep in a moment."
[Footnote 20: Autobiography of Sir Harry Smith, vol. i., p. 291.]
The following is from General Alava's official report of the action: "Of those who were by the side of the Duke of Wellington, only he and myself remained untouched in our persons and horses. The rest were all either killed, wounded, or lost one or more horses. The Duke was unable to refrain from tears on witnessing the death of so many brave and honourable men, and the loss of so many friends and faithful companions."
[Footnote 21: From the Supplement to the Madrid Gazette of the 13th July 1815, quoted in the London Evening Mail of August 2 to August 4, 1815.]
The next morning, the Duke wrote the following note to Lady Frances W. Webster, dated
"BRUXELLES, 19th June 1815.
"Half-past 8 in the morning.
"MY DEAR LADY FRANCES,
"Lord Mount-Norris may remain in Bruxelles in perfect security. I yesterday, after a most severe and bloody contest, gained a complete victory, and pursued the French till after dark. They are in complete confusion; and I have, I believe, 150 pieces of cannon; and Bluecher, who continued the pursuit all night, my soldiers being tired to death, sent me word this morning that he had got 60 more. My loss is immense. Lord Uxbridge, Lord Fitzroy Somerset, General Cooke, General Barnes, and Colonel Berkeley are wounded: Colonel De Lancey, Canning, Gordon, General Picton killed. The finger of Providence was upon me, and I escaped unhurt.—Believe me, etc.,
[Footnote 22: All the foregoing were on the General Staff of the Army or on the Duke's personal Staff.—ED.]
[Footnote 23: Supplementary Despatches of the Duke of Wellington, vol. x., p. 531.]
Captain Gronow—a subaltern of the 1st Guards at Waterloo—gives us the following glimpse of the Duke and his Staff, on the morning of the 18th, before the opening of the battle:—
"The road was ankle-deep in mud and slough; and we had not proceeded a quarter of a mile when we heard the trampling of horses' feet, and on looking round perceived a large cavalcade of officers coming at full speed. In a moment we recognised the Duke himself at their head. He was accompanied by the Duke of Richmond, and his son, Lord William Lennox. The entire Staff of the army was close at hand: the Prince of Orange, Count Pozzo di Borgo, Baron Vincent, the Spanish General Alava, Prince Castel Cicala, with their several aides-de-camp; Felton Hervey, Fitzroy Somerset, and De Lancey were the last that appeared. They all seemed as gay and unconcerned as if they were riding to meet the hounds in some quiet English county."
[Footnote 24: Recollections and Anecdotes, by Captain Gronow, p. 186.]
Colonel Basil Jackson, who in 1815 was a lieutenant in the Royal Staff Corps, attached to the Quartermaster-General's department (see Dalton's Waterloo Roll Call, p. 38), gives the following interesting reminiscences of De Lancey on the 17th, at Quatre Bras, and during the retreat to Waterloo on the same day: "Some few changes were made in the disposition of the troops after the Duke of Wellington arrived on the ground, soon after daylight; arms were then piled, and the men, still wearied with their exertions of marching and fighting on the preceding day, lay down to snatch a little more rest. The Duke, too, after riding about and satisfying himself that all was as it should be, dismounted and stretched himself on the ground, very near the point where the road from Brussels to Charleroi crossed that leading from Nivelles to Namur, forming thereby the Quatre Bras....
"I remained for some time at a short distance from the great man, who occasionally addressed a few words to Lord Fitzroy Somerset, Sir E. Barnes, De Lancey, and others of his principal officers. He was then awaiting the return of Sir Alexander Gordon, who had gone off by the Namur road, some time between 6 and 7 o'clock, escorted by a squadron of the 10th Hussars. I had seen this detachment start at a round trot, but of course knew not the object of despatching it; which, as we learned afterwards, was to gain intelligence of Bluecher's operations, whose defeat at Ligny we, that is, the army generally, were ignorant of, though the Duke was aware of it.
"I availed myself of this period of quietness to go and examine particularly the ground which had been so hardly contested the day before....
"Returning to the place where I had left the Duke when I set out on my ramble round the outposts, I found him still on the same spot; where he remained till Gordon and his escort came in with jaded horses, soon after 10 o'clock. On hearing his report, the Duke said a few words to De Lancey, who, observing me near him, directed me to go to Sir Thomas Picton, and tell him the orders were to make immediate preparation for falling back upon Waterloo....
"Just as the retreat commenced (about noon), I was ordered off to Mont St Jean, where I was told I should meet the Quartermaster-General; accordingly I made for Genappe, and as the high road was by that time filled with troops, being, moreover, careless of the farmer's interest, I took a short cut through the corn-fields, in such a direction as enabled me to strike into that village about its centre. There I found sad confusion prevailing; country waggons with stores, ammunition tumbrils, provision waggons, and wounded men, choked up the street, so that it was impossible for any one to pass. Aware of the great importance of freeing the passage at a time when the retiring troops might be pressed by the enemy, I at once set to work to remedy the disorder that prevailed. Let the reader picture to himself Police Constable 61 C posted at the pastry-cook's corner where Gracechurch Street enters Cheapside, at a moment when those passages, together with Bishopsgate and Leadenhall Streets are blocked up by 'buses, drays, waggons, carts, advertising locomotives, private carriages, and dodging cabs, when that unhappy functionary is vainly striving to restore order and clear the ways, and he will have some idea of the difficulty I experienced in executing my self-imposed task. Happily, I was acquainted with some pithy expressions in two or three languages, which were familiar to the ears of those I had to deal with; and these, together with the flat of my sword, proved very efficacious in the end. While in the thick of this scene of tumult and confusion, I felt some one clap me on the shoulder, and on looking round saw Sir W. De Lancey. 'You are very well employed here,' said he; 'remain, and keep the way clear for the troops; I shall not want you at Waterloo.' Encouraged by my chief's commendation I redoubled my efforts, and had soon the satisfaction of seeing the defile free."
[Footnote 25: "Recollections of Waterloo," by a Staff Officer, in United Service Journal for 1847, Part III., p. 11.]
"A week after the battle"—to quote again from the article by H. Manners Chichester in the Dictionary of National Biography—"De Lancey succumbed to his injuries, in a peasant's cottage in the village of Waterloo, where he was tenderly nursed by his young wife, who had joined him in Brussels a few days before the battle. According to another account, De Lancey was laid down at his own request when being conveyed to the rear, and so was left out untended all night and part of the next day. Rogers, in a note, states that he was killed by 'the wind of the shot,' his skin not being broken; and also that Lady De Lancey left a manuscript account of his last days."
This manuscript account was written in the first instance by Lady De Lancey for the information of her brother, Captain Basil Hall, R.N. The original manuscript has been lost sight of. An early copy, which was made by Mrs Basil Hall, is now in the possession of their grand-daughter, Lady Parsons. Copies would appear to have been made by members of the family at various times; but the existence of the narrative was apparently not known to Edward Floyd De Lancey, the historian of the family in Appleton's Cyclopaedia. Besides the copy of the narrative made by Mrs Basil Hall, another copy came into the possession of the poet Rogers. This copy is now owned by W. Arthur Sharpe, Esq., Highgate, N. Both the above versions—which contain only slight variations—have been consulted in the present edition of the narrative.
Captain Basil Hall, R.N. (vide Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xxiv., p. 58), was a well-known author in his day, his best known work being Fragments of Voyages and Travels, published in three series between 1831 and 1833, and frequently reprinted since.
In Volume II. of the first series, Captain Hall alludes to his first meeting with De Lancey. It occurred on board H.M.S. Endymion on the morning of the 18th January 1809, when the British troops had all been safely embarked on the transports, the second day after the battle of Corunna.
Basil Hall—then a lieutenant in the navy—and De Lancey struck up a great friendship on the Endymion, and the former introduced his soldier friend after the voyage home to his family in Scotland. The marriage of De Lancey six years afterwards to Basil Hall's sister Magdalene was a result of this introduction.
[Footnote 26: De Lancey was at this time a lieutenant-colonel and permanent assistant in the quartermaster-general's department (Army List, 1809, p. 323).
His first commission as a cornet in the 16th Light Dragoons bore the date 7th July 1792 (Army List, 1793, p. 50), when he was only eleven years old.
He was gazetted lieutenant in the same regiment on the 26th February 1793, and was subsequently transferred to the 80th Foot.
On the 20th October 1796 he was gazetted captain in the 17th Light Dragoons, of which regiment his uncle, General Oliver De Lancey, was then colonel.
He obtained a majority in the 45th (or Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot on the 17th October 1799. He was by this time eighteen years of age, and up to this date had probably no connection with the army at all beyond drawing his pay and figuring in the Army List. Even now he does not appear to have joined his regiment until its return from the West Indies, a year or two afterwards (Dict. Nat. Biog., vol. xiv., p. 305). His first uniform was probably that of the 45th Foot, and the portrait, forming the frontispiece of this volume, was in all likelihood painted on his first joining the regiment as a major in 1800 or 1801.
In the Army List of 1804 he is shown on page 31 as an assistant quartermaster-general. His actual regimental service can therefore hardly have exceeded two or three years. Until his death in 1815, he was continuously on the staff of the army in the quartermaster-general's department.]
The following extract from Captain Basil Hall's Fragments of Voyages and Travels, gives an account of the first meeting of the two friends on board the Endymion, and of the dramatic circumstances under which Captain Hall heard the news of his sister's marriage, and of De Lancey's death at Waterloo:—
"As we in the Endymion had the exclusive charge of the convoy of transports, we remained to the very last, to assist the ships with provisions, and otherwise to regulate the movements of the stragglers. Whilst we were thus engaged, and lying to, with our main-topsail to the mast, a small Spanish boat came alongside, with two or three British officers in her. On these gentlemen being invited to step up, and say what they wanted, one of them begged we would inform him where the transport No. 139 was to be found.
"'How can we possibly tell you that?' said the officer of the watch. 'Don't you see the ships are scattered as far as the horizon in every direction? You had much better come on board this ship in the meantime.'
"'No, sir, no,' cried the officers; 'we have received directions to go on board the transport 139, and her we must find.'
"'What is all this about?' inquired the captain of the Endymion; and being told of the scruples of the strangers, insisted upon their coming up. He very soon explained to them the utter impossibility, at such a moment, of finding out any particular transport amongst between three and four hundred ships, every one of which was following her own way. We found out afterwards that they only were apprehensive of having it imagined they had designedly come to the frigate for better quarters. Nothing, of course, was farther from our thoughts; indeed, it was evidently the result of accident. So we sent away their little boat, and just at that moment the gun-room steward announced breakfast. We invited our new friends down, and gave them a hearty meal in peace and comfort—a luxury they had not enjoyed for many a long and rugged day.
"Our next care was to afford our tired warriors the much-required comforts of a razor and clean linen. We divided the party amongst us; and I was so much taken with one of these officers, that I urged him to accept such accommodation as my cabin and wardrobe afforded. He had come to us without one stitch of clothes beyond what he then wore, and these, to say the truth, were not in the best condition, at the elbows and other angular points of his frame. Let that pass—he was as fine a fellow as ever stepped; and I had much pride and pleasure in taking care of him during the passage.
"We soon became great friends; but on reaching England we parted, and I never saw him more. Of course he soon lost sight of me, but his fame rose high, and, as I often read his name in the Gazettes during the subsequent campaigns in the Peninsula, I looked forward with a gradually increasing anxiety to the renewal of an acquaintance begun so auspiciously. At last I was gratified by a bright flash of hope in this matter, which went out, alas, as speedily as it came. Not quite six years after these events, I came home from India, in command of a sloop of war. Before entering the Channel, we fell in with a ship which gave us the first news of the battle of Waterloo, and spared us a precious copy of the Duke of Wellington's despatch; and within five minutes after landing at Portsmouth, I met a near relation of my own. This seemed a fortunate rencontre, for I had not received a letter from home for nearly a year—and I eagerly asked him—
"'What news of all friends?'
"'I suppose,' he said, 'you know of your sister's marriage?'
"'No, indeed! I do not!—which sister?'
"He told me.
"'But to whom is she married?' I cried out with intense impatience, and wondering greatly that he had not told me this at once.
"'Sir William De Lancey was the person,' he answered. But he spoke not in the joyous tone that befits such communications.
"'God bless me!' I exclaimed. 'I am delighted to hear that. I know him well—we picked him up in a boat, at sea, after the battle of Corunna, and I brought him home in my cabin in the Endymion. I see by the despatch, giving an account of the late victory, that he was badly wounded—how is he now? I observe by the postscript to the Duke's letter that strong hopes are entertained of his recovery.'
"'Yes,' said my friend, 'that was reported, but could hardly have been believed. Sir William was mortally wounded, and lived not quite a week after the action. The only comfort about this sad matter is, that his poor wife, being near the field at the time, joined him immediately after the battle, and had the melancholy satisfaction of attending her husband to the last!'"
[Footnote 27: Fragments of Voyages and Travels, by Captain Basil Hall, R.N., 1831, vol. ii., pp. 367-371.]
It was, as before stated, at Captain Hall's request that Lady De Lancey wrote the memorable Waterloo narrative.
In order to satisfy the natural curiosity of friends—who had probably heard of the narrative in Captain Hall's possession—Lady De Lancey prepared an abridged version, in more general terms, and of a much more reserved character than the original account, written for her brother only.
This condensed account was found amongst the papers of her nephew, General De Lancey Lowe, after his death in 1880. His widow published it in the Illustrated Naval and Military Magazine for 1888, p. 414.
In some few instances this abridged account contains descriptive touches not given in the original narrative. These variations are given in the form of notes to the present edition of the narrative.
Thomas Moore in his diary for the 29th August 1824 describes the circumstances under which Captain Hall lent him his copy of the narrative as follows:—
"A note early from Lord Lansdowne, to say that Capt. Basil Hall, who is at Bowood, wishes much to see me; and that if I cannot come over to-day to either luncheon or dinner, he will call upon me to-morrow. Answered that I would come to dinner to-day. Walked over at five.... Company, only Capt. Basil Hall, Luttrel, and Nugent, and an ad interim tutor of Kerry's.... Hall gave me, before I came away, a journal written by his sister, Lady De Lancey, containing an account of the death of her husband at Waterloo, and her attendance upon him there, they having been but three months married. Walked home; took the narrative to bed with me to read a page or two, but found it so deeply interesting, that I read till near two o'clock, and finished it; made myself quite miserable, and went to sleep, I believe, crying. Hall said he would call upon me to-morrow."
[Footnote 28: Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore, edited by Lord John Russell, vol. iv., p. 239.]
Earl Stanhope, in his Notes of Conversations with the Duke of Wellington, p. 182, writes as follows: "I mentioned with much praise Lady De Lancey's narrative of her husband's lingering death and of her own trials and sufferings after Waterloo. The Duke told me that he had seen it—Lord Bathurst having lent it him many years ago." This conversation took place on the 12th October 1839.
The two most famous literary men to whom Captain Basil Hall lent the narrative, were, however, Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens.
Sir Walter Scott writes under date Abbotsford, 13th October 1825, that his publisher, Constable, thinks that the narrative "would add very great interest as an addition to the letters which I wrote from Paris soon after Waterloo, and certainly I would consider it as one of the most valuable and important documents which could be published as illustrative of the woes of war."
"I never read anything which affected my own feelings more strongly, or which, I am sure, would have a deeper interest on [sic] those of the public....
"Perhaps it may be my own high admiration of the contents of this heartrending diary, which makes me suppose a possibility that after such a lapse of years, the publication may possibly (as that which cannot but do the highest honour to the memory of the amiable authoress) may [sic] not be judged altogether inadmissible....—Most truly yours,
[Footnote 29: Perhaps the Memoires de Madame la Marquise de Larochejaquelein of which four editions were published between 1814 and 1817—one of the noblest and most touching of autobiographies—is the nearest parallel in literature to Lady De Lancey's narrative. The French Marchioness describes her experiences in Paris in 1789, and during the Insurrection of La Vendee in 1793.—ED.]
[Footnote 30: The complete letter will be found in Appendix A of this volume.]
The following is a transcript of the most remarkable passages in Dickens' letter:—
"Tuesday evening, 16th March 1841.
"MY DEAR HALL, ...
"I have not had courage until last night to read Lady De Lancey's narrative, and, but for your letter, I should not have mastered it even then. One glance at it, when, through your kindness, it first arrived, had impressed me with a foreboding of its terrible truth, and I really have shrunk from it in pure lack of heart.
"After working at Barnaby all day, and wandering about the most wretched and distressful streets for a couple of hours in the evening—searching for some pictures I wanted to build upon—I went at it, at about ten o'clock. To say that the reading that most astonishing and tremendous account has constituted an epoch in my life—that I shall never forget the lightest word of it—that I cannot throw the impression aside, and never saw anything so real, so touching, and so actually present before my eyes, is nothing. I am husband and wife, dead man and living woman, Emma and General Dundas, doctor and bedstead—everything and everybody (but the Prussian officer—damn him) all in one. What I have always looked upon as masterpieces of powerful and affecting description, seem as nothing in my eyes. If I live for fifty years, I shall dream of it every now and then, from this hour to the day of my death, with the most frightful reality. The slightest mention of a battle will bring the whole thing before me. I shall never think of the Duke any more but as he stood in his shirt with the officer in full-dress uniform, or as he dismounted from his horse when the gallant man was struck down. It is a striking proof of the power of that most extraordinary man, Defoe, that I seem to recognise in every line of the narrative something of him. Has this occurred to you? The going to Waterloo with that unconsciousness of everything in the road, but the obstacles to getting on—the shutting herself up in her room and determining not to hear—the not going to the door when the knocking came—the finding out by her wild spirits when she heard he was safe, how much she had feared when in doubt and anxiety—the desperate desire to move towards him—the whole description of the cottage, and its condition; and their daily shifts and contrivances, and the lying down beside him in the bed and both falling asleep; and his resolving not to serve any more, but to live quietly thenceforth; and her sorrow when she saw him eating with an appetite, so soon before his death; and his death itself—all these are matters of truth, which only that astonishing creature, I think, could have told in fiction.
"Of all the beautiful and tender passages—the thinking every day how happy and blest she was—the decorating him for the dinner—the standing in the balcony at night and seeing the troops melt away through the gate—and the rejoining him on his sick-bed—I say not a word. They are God's own, and should be sacred. But let me say again, with an earnestness which pen and ink can no more convey than toast and water, in thanking you heartily for the perusal of this paper, that its impression on me can never be told; that the ground she travelled (which I know well) is holy ground to me from this day; and that, please Heaven, I will tread its every foot this very next summer, to have the softened recollection of this sad story on the very earth where it was acted.
"You won't smile at this, I know. When my enthusiasms are awakened by such things, they don't wear out....—Faithfully yours,
[Footnote 31: The complete letter will be found in Appendix A of this volume.]
Many literary and artistic masterpieces have grouped themselves round Waterloo. One of the most striking passages in Vanity Fair refers to an imaginary incident in connection with the battle. Sir Walter Scott once said that in the whole range of English poetry there was nothing finer than the stanzas in Childe Harold, commencing with the line—
"There was a sound of revelry by night,"
and ending with the words—
"Rider and horse, friend, foe, in one red burial blent."
Tennyson's Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington ranks as a funeral dirge with Lycidas and Adonais. Napoleon's tomb in the Invalides may hold its own almost with the Taj. Yet, when all is said and done, the fact remains that no hero of the battle, and indeed few victims of war, have ever received a more touching memorial than the one here set forth in the sight of all future generations of men by the love and the literary genius of Lady De Lancey.
HALIFAX, N.S., April 1906.
A WEEK AT WATERLOO IN 1815
I arrived at Brussels on Thursday, 8th June 1815, and was much surprised at the peaceful appearance of that town, and the whole country from Ostend. We were billeted in the house of the Count de Lannoy, in the Park, which is a square of very beautiful houses with fine large trees in the centre. The Count de Lannoy was very attentive, and we had a suite of very excellent rooms, up four stories, which is the fashion in that country, I believe. It was amusing enough, sometimes, to see from our windows the people parading in the Park. I saw very little of the town, and still less of the inhabitants; for notwithstanding Sir William's belief that we should remain quietly there for a month at least, I have the comfort of remembering that, as there was a chance we might separate in a few days, I wasted no time in visiting or going to balls, which I did not care for, and therefore I never went out, except for an hour or two every afternoon, to walk with Sir William.
The people in general dined between three and four, we dined at six; we walked while others were at dinner, so that literally I never saw anybody, except some gentlemen, two or three of whom dined with us every day—Sir William's friends, whom he brought to introduce to me.
I never passed such a delightful time, for there was always enough of very pleasant society to keep us gay and merry, and the rest of the day was spent in peaceful happiness.
Fortunately my husband had scarcely any business to do, and he only went to the office for about an hour every day. I then used to sit and think with astonishment of my being transported into such a scene of happiness, so perfect, so unalloyed!—feeling that I was entirely enjoying life—not a moment wasted. How active and how well I was! I scarcely knew what to do with all my health and spirits. Now and then a pang would cross my mind at the prospect of the approaching campaign, but I chased away the thought, resolved not to lose the present bliss by dwelling on the chance of future pain. Sir William promised to let me know as soon as he knew himself, everything concerning the movement of the army; and accordingly he gave me every paper to read, to keep my mind easy. After some consideration, he decided that upon the commencement of hostilities I should go to Antwerp, and there remain till the end of the campaign, which might last months. He wished me not to think of going along with him, because the rear of a great army was always dangerous, and an unfit situation for a woman; and he wished not to draw me into any scenes, or near any danger, more than if I had remained in England. He little thought I should be in the midst of horrors I would not pass again for any being now living; and alas, the cautious anxiety he expressed that I should avoid being shocked, only made me feel more desolate and miserable when I found myself in the midst of most terrible scenes.
Several other officers, on hearing that he designed to send me to Antwerp, fixed that their wives should go there too. It is a very strongly fortified town, and likewise having the sea to escape by, if necessary, it was by far the safest place; and being only twenty-five miles from Brussels, it added so little to the time of hearing from him, if separated, that I acquiesced cheerfully. After this was arranged, we never thought more about it, and enjoyed each hour as it passed with no more anxiety than was sufficient to render time precious.
On Wednesday the 14th, I had a little alarm in the evening with some public papers, and Sir William went out with them, but returned in a short time; and it passed by so completely, that Thursday(1) forenoon was the happiest day of my life; but I cannot recollect a day of my short married life that was not perfect. I shall never get on if I begin to talk of what my happiness was; but I dread to enter on the gloomy past, which I shudder to look back upon, and I often wonder I survived it. We little dreamt that Thursday was the last we were to pass together, and that the storm would burst so soon. Sir William had to dine at the Spanish Ambassador's,(2) the first invitation he had accepted from the time I went; he was unwilling to go, and delayed and still delayed, till at last when near six, I fastened all his medals and crosses on his coat, helped him to put it on, and he went.(3) I watched at the window till he was out of sight, and then I continued musing on my happy fate; I thought over all that had passed, and how grateful I felt! I had no wish but that this might continue; I saw my husband loved and respected by everyone, my life gliding on, like a gay dream, in his care.
When I had remained at the window nearly an hour, I saw an aide-de-camp ride under the gateway of our house. He sent to enquire where Sir William was dining. I wrote down the name; and soon after I saw him gallop off in that direction. I did not like this appearance, but I tried not to be afraid. A few minutes after, I saw Sir William on the same horse gallop past to the Duke's,(4) which was a few doors beyond ours. He dismounted and ran into the house—left the horse in the middle of the street. I must confess my courage failed me now, and the succeeding two hours formed a contrast to the happy forenoon.
About nine,(5) Sir William came in; seeing my wretched face, he bade me not be foolish, for it would soon be all over now; they expected a great battle on the morrow; he would send me to Antwerp in the morning, and desired me to be ready at six. He said that though he expected it would be a decisive battle, and a conclusion of the whole business, he thought it best I should keep the plan of going to Antwerp, to avoid the alarms that he knew would seize everyone the moment the troops were gone; and he said he would probably join me there, or send for me to return the same evening. He said he should be writing all night, perhaps: he desired me to prepare some strong green tea in case he came in, as the violent exertion requisite to setting the whole army in motion quite stupefied him sometimes. He used sometimes to tell me that whenever the operations began, if he thought for five minutes on any other subject, he was neglecting his duty. I therefore scrupulously avoided asking him any questions, or indeed speaking at all.(6) I moved up and down like one stupefied myself.
He went to the office, and returned near twelve,(7) much fatigued, but he did not attempt to sleep; he went twice to the Duke's; the first time he found him standing looking over a map with a Prussian general,(8) who was in full-dress uniform—with orders and crosses, etc.—the Duke was in his chemise and slippers, preparing to dress for the Duchess of Richmond's ball; the two figures were quite admirable. The ball took place notwithstanding the reveille played through the streets the whole night. Many of the officers danced, and then marched(9) in the morning.
About two, Sir William went again to the Duke, and he was sleeping sound! At three the troops were all assembled in the Park, and Sir William and I leant over the window, seeing them march off—so few to return. It was a clear refreshing morning, and the scene was very solemn and melancholy.(10) The fifes played alone, and the regiments one after another marched past, and I saw(11) them melt away through the great gate at the end of the Square. Shall I ever forget the tunes played by the shrill fifes and the buglehorns which disturbed that night!
At six in the morning, Friday the 16th, I went to Antwerp: Sir William gave me a letter to Captain Mitchell, in the Q.M.-General's department, requesting him to take charge of me. Accordingly, soon after we arrived I was settled in very comfortable apartments. I was at first for an hour in the inn,(12) and I lay down in a small back room. In the evening I sent my maid from the lodgings to get some wine at the inn; when wandering in the passage to find some English person, she opened the door of the room I had been in, and saw the body(13) of the Duke of Brunswick on the very bed.
I was fortunate enough to have a room at the back, so shut in with buildings that I could not hear any noise in the streets. Sir William had made me promise to believe no reports, and not upon any account to move without his written order for it. I thought it was best not to listen to any stories, so I told my maid Emma not to tell me any, and to do her best to get no alarms herself. Captain Mitchell I found of great service; he is a very sensible and seemingly good-hearted man. There was a calmness in his manner which was of infinite use to me when I could not entirely get the better of fears but too well founded. Though he was afterwards oppressed with business, night and day, he never failed to come to me when he had heard any accounts he could depend upon. But I may say I never saw so much kindness, and softness indeed, as during that miserable time.
The general and individual distress that rapidly followed the battles then fought, seemed quite to unman them; and one grew accustomed to see men weep, without their attempting to conceal it. The same evening the Town Major, Machel, called. He knew Sir William, and he brought a Mrs —— to call. She very kindly asked me to go and visit her in the country about a mile. I was much obliged to her, but said I hoped to return to Brussels so soon that I should not have time. She apologised for Mr ——; he would have called on me, but the report I had brought of the marching of the troops had given him a great deal of business. The town was now very bustling, though when I arrived there was nothing but quiet. Captain Mitchell told me in the evening that the battle had taken place; that the English had gained a victory, but he believed there was to be more fighting. He promised to send me any letter, or if he heard of Sir William. I sat up late, but none came.
On Saturday the 17th, Antwerp was truly a scene of confusion—by the servant's account, for I would not stir out of my room. Not one of the ladies who had intended to come to Antwerp at first, kept their resolution; and in consequence they got a great alarm, which was what my husband wished me to escape. There was a battle fought on Friday the 16th, near Brussels, and I was told the noise of the cannon was tremendous—the houses shook with it. It was distinctly heard at Antwerp; but I kept the windows shut, and tried not to hear. I only heard a rolling like the sea at a distance.(14) Poor Emma, urged by curiosity, stood in the street listening to terrible stories, seeing wounded men brought in, carriages full of women and children flying from Brussels, till she was completely frightened. She came and told me that all the ladies were hastening to England by sea, for the French had taken Brussels. I saw I must take my time to alarm her, and I said, "Well, Emma, you know that if the French were firing at this house, I would not move till I was ordered; but you have no such duty, therefore go if you like. I dare say any of the families will let you join them."
Emma was shocked at my supposing she would be so base as to desert me, and declared that if she was sure she had to remain in a French prison for five years, she would not leave me. My reproof had all the effect I intended; for she brought me no more stories, and I am certain she never was frightened after, even when we were in far greater danger.
Though I had little reason to expect a letter from my husband, I sat up late in hopes. At midnight, what was my joy to get a little note from him, written at Genappe,(15) after the battle of the 16th. He said he was safe, and in great spirits; they had given the French a tremendous beating. I wrote to him every day, and Captain Mitchell sent my letters, but they never reached him.
On Sunday, Captain Mitchell told me he had heard the last effort was to be made. I cannot attempt to describe the restless unhappy state I was in; for it had continued so much longer than I had expected already, that I began to find it difficult to keep up my spirits, though I was infatuated enough to think it quite impossible that he could be hurt. I believe mine was not an uncommon case, but so it was. I might be uneasy at the length of the separation, or anxious to hear from him; but the possibility of his being wounded never glanced into my mind, till I was told he was killed.
On Sunday the 18th June, there was to be a great battle. It began about eleven;(16) near three,(17) when Sir William was riding beside the Duke, a cannon ball struck him on the back, at the right shoulder, and knocked him off his horse to several yards distance. The Duke at first imagined he was killed; for he said afterwards, he had never in all the fighting he had ever been in seen a man rise again after such a wound. Seeing he was alive (for he bounded up again and then sank down), he ran to him, and stooping down, took him by the hand.(18)
Sir William begged the Duke, as the last favour he could have it in his power to do him, to exert his authority to take away the crowd that gathered round him, and to let him have his last moments in peace to himself. The Duke bade him farewell, and endeavoured to draw away the Staff, who oppressed him; they wanted to take leave of him, and wondered at his calmness. He was left, as they imagined, to die; but his cousin, Delancey Barclay,(19) who had seen him fall, went to him instantly, and tried to prevail upon him to be removed to the rear, as he was in imminent danger of being crushed by the artillery, which was fast approaching the spot; and also there was danger of his falling into the hands of the enemy. He entreated to be left on the ground, and said it was impossible he could live; that they might be of more use to others, and he only begged to remain on the field. But as he spoke with ease, and Colonel Barclay saw that the ball had not entered, he insisted on moving him, and he took the opinion of a surgeon, who thought he might live, and got some soldiers to carry him in a blanket to a barn(20) at the side of the road, a little to the rear. The wound was dressed, and then Colonel Barclay had to return to the Division; but first he gave orders to have Sir William moved to the village;(21) for that barn was in danger of being taken possession of by the enemy. Before Colonel Barclay went, Sir William begged him to come quite close to him, and continued to give him messages for me. Nothing else seemed to occupy his mind. He desired him to write to me at Antwerp; to say everything kind, and to endeavour to soften this business, and to break it to me as gently as he could. He then said he might move him, as if he fancied it was to be his last effort. He was carried to the village of Waterloo, and left in a cottage, where he lay unheeded all night, and part of next day. Many of his friends were in the village, and no one knew where he was, or that he was alive even. It was by chance that an officer of the Staff Corps found him next morning, and sent to inform Sir George Scovell.(22) The evening before,(23) the Duke had written the despatches, and had inserted De Lancey as killed. Interest was made that he should alter them, when he was told that he had been carried off the field alive. Some kindly thought this might benefit me; but I was not so fortunate. Sad scenes were passing at Antwerp in the meantime.
On Monday morning, Captain Mitchell, at nine o'clock, came to tell me that the last battle was over, and the French entirely defeated, and that Sir William was safe. I asked him repeatedly if he was sure, and if he had seen any of his writing, or if he had heard from him. He had not; but had read a list of the killed and wounded, and could assure me his name was not in it. Captain Mitchell was quite sincere; and was afterwards much grieved that he had added to the accumulation of misery, for this only made the dash down more severe. I now found how much I had really feared by the wild spirits I got into. I walked up and down, for I could not rest, and was almost in a fever with happiness, and for two hours this went on.
At eleven a message came that Lady Hamilton wished to see me. I went down to the parlour, and found her and Mr James. I did not remark anything in her countenance, but I think I never saw feeling and compassion more strongly marked than in his expression. I then said I hoped Lady Emily was well. He answered that she was so, with a tone of such misery that I was afraid something had happened, I knew not what, to somebody. I looked at Lady Hamilton for an explanation. She seemed a little agitated too, and I said, "One is so selfish: I can attend to nothing, I am so rejoiced Sir William is safe."
Mr James walked to the other end of the room. I did not know what to do. I feared that my gay voice grieved them, for I saw something had made them unhappy. Little did I think the blow was falling on my own unfortunate head.
Lady Hamilton said, "Poor Mr James! He has lost a brother and I a nephew. It was a dreadful battle!—so many killed."
I thought it cruel of them to come to me to tell all this to, when I was so merry; but I tried to be polite, and again apologised for appearing glad, on account of my own good fortune.
Lady Hamilton said, "Did you hear from him?"
"No, but Captain Mitchell saw the list, and his name was not in it."
Mr James went out of the room. Lady Hamilton said, "He is gone to see it, I suppose," and then began to talk about the list, and what were the first names, and a great deal about whether I had any friends in that country, etc. She then asked what I intended to do if the fighting continued, and if I should go to England? I was a little surprised at these enquiries, but assured her I would not move until Sir William came or sent for me. She found me so obstinately confident that she began...—and after a short time a suspicion darted into my mind. What a death-like feeling was that!
[Footnote 32: Here there is a hiatus in the MS.]
Lady Hamilton confessed she had written the list, and with a most mistaken kindness had omitted several of the names, Sir William's among the rest. A general had come from the field and named them; and she, knowing I was in the country, had left his out, fearing that I should be suddenly informed. But such information would not be otherwise than a shock whatever way it was told, and the previous account of his safety only tortured me the more. But it is needless to dwell upon it now; and though I believe she thinks I never forgave her, I now recollect only the motive, which was kind.
My difficulty then was to find out, or rather to believe the truth. She assured me he was only wounded. I looked at her keenly, and said, "Lady Hamilton, I can bear anything but suspense. Let me know the very worst. Tell me, is he killed?"
She then solemnly assured me he was only desperately wounded.
I shook my head and said, "Ah, it is very well to say so. Yes, he must be wounded first, you know." And I walked round the room fast. "Yes, yes, you say so, but I cannot believe what you say now."
She was terrified, for I could not shed a tear. She declared upon her word of honour that when General Alava left the field he was alive, but was not expected to live.
This I felt sounded like truth, and I stood before her and said, "Well, Lady Hamilton, if it is so, and you really wish to serve me, help me to go to him instantly. I am sure Mr James will be so good as to hurry the servant. Oh, how much time has been lost already! If Captain Mitchell had but known, I should have gone at nine. Every moment may make me too late to see him alive."
She was glad to try to do anything for me, and was going. I stopped her at the door, and said, "Now, if you are deceiving me, you may perhaps have my senses to answer for."
She repeated her assurances, and I said I would send my servant for the carriage, which was at the Town Major's, if she would see anybody to get horses, and I was ready. She said she would offer to go with me, but she knew it would oppress me.
I said, "Oh no, let me be alone," and I ran upstairs.
No power can describe my sufferings for two hours before I could set out. Captain Mitchell requested a friend of his to ride forward to Brussels, and to gallop back with information of where Sir William was, and whether it was still of any avail for me to proceed: he was expected to meet us at Malines, half-way. We at last left Antwerp; but bribing the driver was in vain. It was not in his power to proceed; for the moment we passed the gates, we were entangled in a crowd of waggons, carts, horses, wounded men, deserters or runaways, and all the rabble and confusion, the consequence of several battles.(24) Every now and then we went several miles at a walk; and the temper of the people was so irritable that we feared to speak to them; and I had to caution my servant to be very guarded, because they were ready to draw their swords in a moment. Two men got on the back of the carriage, and we dared not desire them to get off; and this was no imaginary terror, as I afterwards experienced.
When we were within a mile or two of Malines, the carriage stopped, and the servant said, "It is the Captain." I had drawn the blinds to avoid seeing the wretched objects we were passing. I hastily looked out, and saw Mr Hay.(25) When he saw me he turned his head away.
I called out, "Mr Hay, do you know anything?"
He hesitated, and then said, "I fear I have very bad news for you."
I said, "Tell me at once. Is he dead?"
"It is all over."
I sank into the carriage again, and they took me back to Antwerp. When I had been a short time there, Mr Hay sent to know if I had any commands to Brussels, as he was going to return, and would do anything for me there. At first I said I had none, and then I sent for him, and asked repeatedly if he were sure of what he said; if he had seen him fall. He had not been in the action,(26) and of course was not near Sir William, "who was surrounded by Lord Wellington's Staff; but in the middle of the action he was struck in the breast by a cannon ball, and instantly fell. The Duke went and leant over him, and he died like a soldier."
I then begged Mr Hay to make a point of seeing someone who had been near him; and if possible to learn if he had spoken, and if he had named me. Mr Hay promised this, and then asked if I would choose to go to England. I said: "Instantly." He then said if he had twelve hours to search the field once more—for his brother was missing—he would be ready to take a passage for me, and to accompany me if I chose. He said Lady Hamilton and Mrs B. were below, anxious to be of use.
I said I greatly preferred being alone, and was always much better alone. About half an hour after, Mrs B. contrived to get into the room. I was terrified, and called out, "Go away, go away, leave me to myself." She prayed and entreated me to hear her, and then said if I was ill would I send for her. I said, "Oh, yes, yes; but the only thing anybody can do for me is to leave me alone." She was alarmed at my violent agitation and went away. I locked the outer door, and shut the inner one, so that no one could again intrude. They sent Emma to entreat I would be bled; but I was not reasonable enough for that, and would not comply. I wandered about the room incessantly, beseeching for mercy, though I felt that now, even Heaven could not be merciful. One is apt to fix on a situation just a little less wretched than one's own, and to dwell upon the idea that one could bear that better. I repeated over and over that if I had seen him alive for five minutes, I would not repine. At night Emma brought her bed into my room, as she feared I should be ill. Towards morning I fancied I heard a sound of someone trying to get into the room. I heard it a long while, but thinking it was somebody coming to visit me, I made no answer.
About two hours after, the attempt was repeated. I said to Emma, "There is a noise at the door. Don't let Mrs B. in, or Lady Hamilton."
She went, and returning in a few minutes said, "I am desired to tell you cautiously"—
I said, "O Emma! go away. Don't tell me anything, any more."
"Nay, but I must tell you. I have good news for you."
"How can you be so inhuman! What is good news for me now?"
"But—Sir William is not dead."
I started up, and asked what she was saying, for she would make me mad. She told me that General M'Kenzie(27) was below, and had a message from Brussels, requesting him to inform me that Sir William was alive, and that there were even hopes of his recovery.
I ran down to General M'Kenzie, and began earnestly to persuade him it must be impossible. I had suffered so much the day before, I durst not hope for anything now. His voice faltered, and his eyes filled with tears.
He said, "Can you believe any man would bring such intelligence unless it were well-founded?" He then gave me a letter from Sir G. Scovell, who had seen an officer of the Staff Corps who had seen Sir William alive that morning, who was anxious to see me. He was attended by a skilful surgeon, and had been twice bled. This was dated Monday, seven o'clock, evening.
I regretted the deal of time that had been lost, and said that yesterday morning was a long time ago; and was no argument for his being alive now; for it was often repeated in the letter not to raise my hopes. I then asked General M'Kenzie to assist me to get away. Unfortunately I did not say I had a carriage. He said he was going to Brussels, and would take me. I consented, and he went to get ready. I would not if I could, describe the state I was in for two hours more; then I lost all self-command. I would not allow Emma to put up my clothes, for fear of being detained. My agitation and anxiety increased. I had the dreadful idea haunting me that I should arrive perhaps half an hour too late. This got the better of me, and I paced backward and forward in the parlour very fast, and my breathing was like screaming. I went into the passage, and sent Emma to see if the carriage were coming; and then sat down on the stair, which was steep and dark. There General M'Kenzie found me. Whenever he learnt I had a carriage, he sent the horses he had; for his carriage was not ready, and would not be for some time. When he saw what a state I was in, he roused me in a most sensible manner.
He said, "Lady De Lancey, consider what you are doing. You are exhausting your strength and spirits to no purpose, for your friends are endeavouring to forward your departure as soon as possible."
I exclaimed, "Oh, I shall never be there. He may be dying at this moment."
He took my hand, and said calmly and firmly, "My dear madam, why fancy evil? You know what dreadful scenes you may have to go through when you reach Waterloo. You will probably require all your courage, and must command yourself for his sake."
I said no more, but quietly went to the parlour and remained waiting—such an immediate effect had his steady good sense on my fevered mind. I overheard him say, "No, do not at present; she is not fit for it." I was alarmed, and ran out; but I saw a lady retreating, and I was grateful to him.
We left Antwerp between eight and nine, and had the same difficulties to encounter; but the road was not quite so much blocked up. General M'Kenzie said he would ride after us in an hour, in case we should be detained; he also sent a dragoon before, to order horses. When we were near Vilvorde, the driver attempted to pass a waggon, but the soldier who rode beside it would not move one inch to let us pass. The waggons kept possession of the chaussee the whole way, and we had to drive on the heavy road at the side. My servant got off the seat to endeavour to lead the horses past. This provoked the soldier, and a dispute began. I was alarmed, and desired the servant to get upon the carriage again, which he did. A Prussian officer, enraged at our attempting to pass the waggon he was guarding, drew his sword, and made several cuts at the servant's legs, but did not reach him. He was preparing to get down again, but I looked from the opposite window and commanded him to sit still, and not to answer a word; or else to quit the carriage altogether. The driver now made a dash past the waggon, and the officer galloped after us and attempted to wound the horses. This made me desperate, and I ventured on a most imprudent action. I drew up the blind, and holding up my hands, I petitioned him to let us pass. I exclaimed that my husband, a British officer, was dying, and if he detained me I might not see him. It had the desired effect, for without seeming to have heard me, he slackened his pace and was soon far behind.
When within ten miles of Brussels, the smell of gunpowder was very perceptible. The heat was oppressive. As we came within a mile of Brussels, the multitude of wretched-looking people was great, as Emma told me, for I was both unwilling and unable to look out. I was so much worn with anxiety that I could scarcely sit up. As we entered Brussels the carriage stopped, and I saw Mr Hay. I durst not speak, but he instantly said, "He is alive. I sent my servant to Waterloo this morning; he is just returned, and Sir William is better than they expected. I have horses standing harnessed, and you will soon be there if the road is passable, though it was not yesterday, for a horse."
We were soon out of Brussels again, and on the road to Waterloo. It is nine miles, and we took three hours and a half. Mr Hay rode before us with his sword drawn, and obliged them to let us pass. We often stood still for ten minutes. The horses screamed at the smell of corruption, which in many places was offensive. At last, when near the village, Mr Hay said he would ride forward and find the house, and learn whether I should still proceed or not. I hope no one will ever be able to say they can understand what my feelings must have been during the half-hour that passed till he returned. How fervently and sincerely I resolved that if I saw him alive for one hour I never would repine! I had almost lost my recollection, with the excess of anxiety and suspense, when Mr Hay called out, "All's well; I have seen him. He expects you."
When we got to the village, Sir G. Scovell met the carriage, and opening the door, said, "Stop one moment."
I said, "Is he alive?"
"Yes, alive; and the surgeons are of opinion that he may recover. We are so grieved for what you have suffered."
"Oh! never mind what I have suffered. Let me go to him now."
He said I must wait one moment. I assured him I was composed indeed.
He said, "I see you are," with a smile, "but I wish to warn you of one thing. You must be aware that his life hangs on a very slender hold; and therefore any agitation would be injurious. Now, we have not told him you had heard of his death; we thought it would afflict him; therefore do not appear to have heard it."
I promised, and he said, "Now come along." I sat down for an instant in the outer room, and he went in; and when I heard my husband say, "Let her come in, then," I was overpaid for all the misery.
I was surprised at the strength of his voice, for I had expected to find him weak and dying. When I went into the room where he lay, he held out his hand and said, "Come, Magdalene, this is a sad business, is it not?" I could not speak, but sat down by him and took his hand. This was my occupation for six days.
Though I found him far better than I expected, I can scarcely say whether I hoped or feared most at first; because I was so much occupied with gathering comforts about him, and helping him, that I had not time to think about the future. It was a dreadful but sufficient preparation, being told of his death; and then finding him alive, I was ready to bear whatever might ensue without a murmur. I was so grateful for seeing him once more, that I valued each hour as it passed, and as I had too much reason to fear that I should very soon have nothing left of happiness but what my reflections would afford me, I endeavoured, by suppressing feelings that would have made him miserable, and myself unfit to serve him, to lay up no store of regret. He asked me if I was a good nurse. I told him that I had not been much tried. He said he was sure he would be a good patient, for he would do whatever I bade him till he was convalescent; and then he knew he would grow very cross. I watched in vain for a cross word. All his endeavour seemed to be to leave none but pleasing impressions on my mind; and as he grew worse and suffered more, his smile was more sweet, and his thanks more fervent, for everything that was done for him.
I endeavoured to find out from the surgeons the extent of the danger. They said that at present there were no bad symptoms, and after seeing him alive at all after such a wound they would not despair: and if the fever could be kept off, there was a great chance of his recovering. With this view they wished to bleed him constantly; wishing also thereby to make the recovery more complete. I knew they had no interest in me, and therefore would probably tell me the same as other people, so I continued to ask them after every visit what they thought; but when by watching the symptoms myself and also observing the surgeon's expression, I saw what I must soon prepare for, I did not tease them any more with questions, but tried not to give way, and endeavoured to keep up as long as it would be of consequence to him; for even after all hope was gone and the disorder increased rapidly, I felt that if by agitating him I should afterwards imagine I had shortened his life by one hour, that reflection would embitter my whole life. I have the satisfaction of knowing that I succeeded even better than I could have hoped; for toward the end of the week, when every symptom was bad, the surgeon (probably because I desisted from enquiring and did not appear agitated) doubtful what I thought, yet, judging it right to tell me, asked Emma if she knew whether I was aware of the danger or not. She assured him I had entirely given up hope for some time.
I found Emma of great service. Her good will carried her through excessive fatigue while at Waterloo; and afterwards her excellent heart and superior judgment were quite a blessing to me. She told me she was thankful she had been at Waterloo, for it would do her good to see a little of what other people endured. She never before knew half the value of her peaceful, comfortable home in London, where the absence of miserable objects might alone be considered as a benefit. I can hardly express what I felt on returning to England, to see people surrounded with every luxury unhappy at the want of the smallest comfort. I can fancy no better cure for all imaginary evils than a week's residence at Waterloo.
Noise did not disturb Sir William, fortunately, for the cottage was surrounded with roads.(28) One in front led to Nivelles, and every waggon going to and from the army, and all the wounded and prisoners, passed along that road. It was paved, and there was an unceasing noise for four days and nights. We were obliged to keep the windows open, and people used to pass close to that in his room, talking loud, and sometimes looking in and speaking; but he never took any notice. I never saw anybody so patient. The people to whom the cottage belonged were, luckily, favourable to our cause, or they would have tormented us a good deal; instead of which, I never met with such good nature; and though they never rested one moment helping the soldiers to water, and were constantly worn out with giving them assistance, we had only to tell them what to do, and they ran about to work for us. Their menage, I must allow, was in a sad state.(29) There was a want of everything. I could not help thinking with envy of the troublesome abundance I had often seen in sick-rooms, when there was far less need for it. However, in a short time we got everything he required; and I have the greatest comfort in recollecting that there was not one thing which he expressed a wish for that we did not procure. I sent a servant instantly to Brussels with a list of things we wanted; and once I recollect something was brought which he had been very anxious for. Naturally enough, he was disappointed when he found it not so good as he expected; but I was quite struck with his endeavour to praise it, for fear I should be sorry. There was a languid melancholy about him at the same time that he was calm and resigned, which would have made the most uninterested person grieved to see him suffering, and with such sweetness. Emma once gave him some drink, and she told me that the tone of voice and his smile when he thanked her, was like to break her heart, for he was in severe pain at the time.
He said the wound gave him no pain at all, but a little irritating cough caused excessive pain in his chest and side. As far as I could learn, the blow had affected the lungs, which produced inflammation and afterwards water in the chest, which was eventually the cause of his death. I suspect the surgeons had never much hope, but they said there was a chance if the inflammation could have been stopped. By constantly watching him, and gradually day after day observing the progress and increase of suffering and the elevated tone of his mind, along with fatigue and weakness, I was prepared for his final release in a manner that nothing but his firmness and composure could have effected.
He had at first been laid in the outer room, which had two large windows to the road, and everyone saw in. This he did not like, and he made the people move him to a small room, about seven feet wide, with a bed across the end of it. They placed him so low and awkwardly in the bed, that when I first went in I thought his legs were hurt, for he could not straighten his knees. After a day or two, he got shoved up by degrees, and then could stretch his limbs. The bed was wretched, merely a wooden frame fastened to the wall, so that it could not be moved, which rendered it extremely difficult to bleed him, or to assist him in any way, as he could neither turn nor raise his head an inch from the pillow, or rather sack of chaff, upon which he was laid. This was so full of dust that it made him cough. I soon removed it, and got a cushion out of the carriage instead. We had a clean blanket from Brussels, and at first we put clean sheets on every day. But latterly he grew so restless that he preferred having only the blanket. I had purposely sent for a French cotton one, as I thought the flannel would tease him. The bed was made tolerable at least, and though I could not be pleased with it, he was. He repeated more than once, "What a thing it was for you being in this country!" and I had the delight of hearing him say that he did not know what he would have done without me. He said he was sure he would not have lived so long, for he would not have been so obedient to anyone else.
I found he had been the worse of seeing some friends who had called the first day I was at Waterloo, so I told the servant afterwards never to let anybody come into his room. I remember one day an officer called, and before he was out of sight I had his card converted into a teaspoon. Sir William never ate anything, except once or twice a morsel of toast out of the water. He drank a great deal of tea and lemonade. At first he had no milk to his tea, and he complained that it was very bad; but there was none to be got. I sent my servant to search for some, and he met some Prussian cows, and milked one, and brought a fine jug of milk. The different contrivances sometimes amused him. One day he wished to have the room fumigated. How was this to be done, without fire-irons, or indeed without fire? We put some vinegar into a tumbler, and Emma went with a large pair of scissors, and brought a piece of burning charcoal, and put it into the vinegar, and that made a great smoke. Every time we wanted anything warmed, or water boiled, Emma had to cross a court and make a fire, and then watch it, or someone would have run away with what she was cooking. Meantime I would call her ten different times, and this in wet or dry, night or day. I now regretted having brought so few clothes.
The day I went to Waterloo, Sir William told me the Duke(30) had visited him in the morning. He said he never had seen him so warm in his feelings: he had taken leave of him with little hope of seeing him again, I fancy. The Duke told him he never wished to see another battle; this had been so shocking. It had been too much to see such brave men, so equally matched, cutting(31) each other to pieces as they did. Sir William said there never had been such fighting; that the Duke far surpassed anything he had ever done before.(32) The general opinion seemed to be that it had been a peculiarly shocking battle. Sir William said he never would try it again; he was quite tired of the business. In speaking of his wound he said this might be the most fortunate event that could have happened for us both. I looked at him for an explanation. He said, "Certainly, even if I recover completely, I should never think of serving again. Nobody could ask such a thing, and we should settle down quietly at home for the rest of our lives." The evening after I went to Waterloo, Sir G. Scovell said he would take something to eat, and after seeing me fairly established he would go to Headquarters. He wrote a copy of a return of rations, for which we were to send to Brussels; and also any other provisions must be got from thence, for the village produced nothing. He left two sentinels, for fear there should be any disturbances, and we might feel unprotected. One night there was a great noise of people quarrelling in front of the house; the windows had no fastening whatever, but they passed away without molesting us. I was a little more seriously alarmed another day. Some reports had reached us that the French were coming back, and were within nine miles. I thought it unlikely, but about eight in the morning all the waggons that had passed for two hours came back as fast as possible, horses trotting and men running. I was uneasy on Sir William's account: his situation was so helpless. I leant forward, to prevent people looking in and seeing him. I waited without saying anything, to learn the cause of this bustle. I found afterwards that it was merely the waggons had gone several miles on the wrong road, and were hurrying back to make it up.(33)
From the time Sir G. Scovell left us, we scarcely saw anybody but the surgeons. It must add very much to the fatigue of their business, having to do everything for the wounded whom they attend. Mr Powell,(34) who attended most constantly to Sir William, and with evidently great anxiety for his recovery, was sometimes quite knocked up with walking many miles on the heavy road to the field and the cottages. He had some difficulty to consider me as a useful person. At first he used to ask me to tell the servant to come; but he learnt to employ me very soon.
The night I went, Sir William desired me to take some rest, for I looked ill. A portmanteau bed had been brought for me from Brussels. I left him reluctantly, for I grudged wasting any of such precious time, but he would not hear of my sitting up. I had just lain down with my clothes on—for there was no blanket, and the floor was damp tiles. I heard him call to his servant, who slept at the end of his room on a mattress. I jumped up and went to him, and did not leave him again. He wanted some drink, which I gave him, and then sat down beside him. He slept and woke every half-hour. He was not restless, nor had he any pain, but he was constantly thirsty.
On Wednesday he wished to have leeches applied to his side, where the bruise appeared. Mr Powell had no objection, and desired me to send for him when the leeches were brought from Brussels. I did so; but in the meantime, not knowing why he was sent for, I began as a matter of course to apply them. When he came, he apologised, and thanked me. I was not at first aware of how I was obliging him. He said he was very tired, and when he attempted to fix the leeches, he did not do it so well as I did. Next time they were to be applied, I asked if I should send for him. He said I was as good at it as any hospital nurse could be, and as he had scarcely had an hour's rest any night since the battle, he would be greatly obliged to me if I would take the trouble. Sir William alleged that I grew quite vain of my skill in tormenting my poor husband with these animals. The same day Dr Hume(35) called in passing to Brussels, for ten minutes. I was a little provoked at the gaiety of his manner; the gravity he assumed at Brussels would have been suitable to the present scene. Though Sir William never complained, he was serious, and seemed inclined to be quiet, and neither to speak much nor to listen. He generally lay thinking, often conversed with me, but seemed oppressed with general conversation, and would not listen when anyone told him of the progress of the army. His thoughts were in a very different train. Dr Hume's rapid, lively visit annoyed me much.
I did not feel the effects of having sat up on Tuesday night till next night, but was resolved to fight against it. Sir William desired me to go to rest, as he had done the night before; but I only remained away till I had an excuse to return, and he always forgot a second time to bid me go. This was the only night I had real difficulty to keep awake; the noise of the carts assisted me a little. I counted the rushes of the chair, for want of occupation. Some people said, why did I not let my maid sit up; but that showed they did not understand; for if twenty people had sat up, it would have made no difference to me. I frequently rejoiced that I had no friend there who could exert authority to make me take care of myself, when my only wish was to keep up as long as he needed me.
On Thursday he was not quite so well. Before this he had been making a gradual progress, and he could move about with more ease. He spoke much better than he did at first. His countenance was animated; but I fear this was the beginning of the most dangerous symptoms, and I saw that the surgeon now became uneasy at the appearance of the blood; and Mr Woolriche,(36) a very eminent surgeon, now constantly attended. He had come over once or twice before. General Dundas(37) called this forenoon. He stayed only a minute, as Sir William was not so well, and I was busy. After he was away, I recollected having neglected to ask him to send a blanket and some wine. I never had time to eat, and I always forgot to get wine—as I could take a glass of that and a bit of bread in a moment—and my strength was failing. I looked out and saw him still at the door. I went out, and there were a number of people, Sir H.D. Hamilton,(38) etc. I told General Dundas I had no blanket. "Bless me!" everyone exclaimed, "no blanket!" I said it was not of much consequence, as I never lay down, but the floor was so damp I was afraid my maid would be ill, and her help was very essential. I then asked for wine, both of which General Dundas sent down next day.
That night I had no difficulty in keeping awake. Sir William was restless and uncomfortable; his breathing was oppressed, and I had constantly to raise him on the pillow. The pain in his chest increased, and he was twice bled before morning. He was very much better on Friday forenoon. Mr Woolriche told us that every day since the battle the people of Brussels sent down carriages to take the wounded to the hospital; from twenty to thirty private carriages came every day.