The Battle of Waterloo
“Wm. Thos. Fitzgerald, Esq.”
[William Thomas Fitzgerald]
The New Monthly Magazine, IV (August 1815), pp. 34-35
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXXV, ii (1815), p. 62
The European Magazine, LXVIII (1815), pp. 55-56
"Arraign'd by Nations, let the CULPRIT stand
At EUROPE'S bar, and there uplift his hand!
The shades of murder'd ENGHIEN, PALM, and WRIGHT,
Awful Accusers! shall appal his sight;
With all the massacres that mark his reign—
The bones that whiten JAFFA'S dreary plain,
And those that bleach beneath the Northern sky,
All on his head for RETRIBUTION CRY!
MERCY, too long abused, will cease to plead,
When the World dooms THE MAN OF BLOOD TO BLEED!
And should DEGRADED FRANCE his cause maintain,
She shares his guilt, and ought to share his pain."
So sang THE BARD, whose lays for years express'd,
The honest hatred of a Patriot breast,
Against the vile OPPRESSOR of mankind,
To whose black crimes some dazzled eyes were blind.
The muse's prophecy's complete at last,
Thy reign, DETESTED CORSICAN, is past!
And HEAVEN decreed, in its appointed hour,
That BRITAIN'S arm should crush the TYRANT'S power.
But where's the BARD, however grac'd his name,
Can venture to describe GREAT WELLESLEY'S fame?
Such Bard, in strength and loftiness of lays,
May soar beyond hyperbole of praise,
And yet not give the tribute that is due
To BRITONS, WELLINGTON, led on by you!!
For to the plains of WATERLOO belong
The magic numbers of immortal song!
A HOMER'S lyre, or CAESAR'S pen, should tell
How BRUNSWICK died, and valiant PICTON fell;
How PONSONBY, too, shar'd their honour'd fate,
And join'd in death the GALLANT and the GREAT!
How laurell'd WELLINGTON seiz'd Fortune's hour,
To blast like lightning BUONAPARTE'S power,
And with a mighty and tremendous blow,
Confound, defeat, annihilate the Foe!
In vain the CUIRASSIERS advance,
The TYRANT'S boast, the pride of FRANCE,
To break our HOLLOW SQUARE:
Ten times they charge, ten times retire;
Again they face the BRITISH fire,
And perish in despair!
New masses on our squares descend;
They also charge to meet their end,
And countless warriors fall;
Horses and horsemen strew the plain,
And cannon mingled with the slain,
One fate attends them all
So on some bold, projecting rock,
The furious billows beat;
But still it stands the mighty shock,
And spurns them from its feet!
Thus long defensive BRITONS stood,
And brav'd the overwhelming flood,
With constancy divine!
'Till the brave PRUSSIAN'S distant gun
Induced the GLORIOUS WELLINGTON
To form the BRITISH LINE;
His eagle eye discerns from far
That moment which decides the war,
"FORWARD! he cries, "FOR ENGLAND'S GLORY!"
The veteran bands of GALLIA yield,
And WATERLOO'S triumphant field
Shall shine in BRITISH story!
Not CRESSY, AGINCOURT, or BLENHEIM'S day,
Could bear a nobler wreath of fame away;
And PRINCELY EDWARD, HENRY, MARLBOROUGH too,
Had done that justice, WELLINGTON, to you!
Such mighty triumphs must be purchas'd dear,
And on her LAURELS VICTORY drops a tear—
The sweetest tribute to the fallen brave
Are Soldier's sorrows on a Soldier's grave!
The blood that's shed gives every bosom pain,
But with this solace—'tis not shed in vain;
For to their noble death their COUNTRY owes
Her high RENOWN! and EUROPE her repose.
On LOFTY COLÜMNS of eternal Fame
Shall British Gratitude record each name!
There ever shall each SISTER ISLE behold
Her gallant Sons immortaliz'd in gold;
But deeper far, eternally imprest,
Shall live their memory in the PATRIOT BREAST!
Nor shall the GALLANT GERMANS be forgot,
Who shar'd their triumphs, and partook their lot.
1. This is representative of the vast number of poems written on the subject of Waterloo.
2. In Fitzgerald's obituary in the Annual Register in 1829, it is noted that "On all public occasions his pen was ever ready." A vice-president of the Literary Fund, Fitzgerald was fond of reciting his works at the Fund's annual dinner. His penchant is mentioned in the first couplet of Byron's English Bards and Scotch Reviewers:
Still must I hear?—Shall hoarse Fitzgerald bawl
His creaking couplets in a tavern hall.
In 1814, Fitzgerald issued a collection of verses in denunciation of Napoleon. See note to Britons, to Arms!! (1803).
3. Louis de Bourbon-Condé, duc of Enghein, Johann Palm, a Nurenberg bookseller, and Wright were all executed at Napoleon's command.
4. [Author's note]: "Vide Mr. Fitzgerald's Anniversary Poem for the Literary fund, May 4, 1815."