Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault;
The village all declared how much he knew;
’Twas certain he could write, and cypher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And e’en, the story ran, that he could gauge:
In arguing, too, the parson owned his skill;
For e’en though vanquished, he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around;
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
* * * * *
All the encumbrances being shipped on the morning of the 16th, it was intended to embark the fighting men in the coming night, and this difficult operation would probably have been happily effected; but a glorious event was destined to give a more graceful, though melancholy, termination to the campaign. About two o’clock a general movement of the French line gave notice of an approaching battle, and the British infantry, fourteen thousand five hundred strong, occupied their position. Baird’s division on the right, and governed by the oblique direction of the ridge, approached the enemy; Hope’s division, forming the centre and left, although on strong ground abutting on the Mero, was of necessity withheld, so that the French battery on the rocks raked the whole line of battle. One of Baird’s brigades was in column behind the right, and one of Hope’s behind the left; Paget’s reserve posted at the village of Airis, behind the centre, looked down the valley separating the right of the position front the hills occupied by the French cavalry. A battalion detached from the reserve kept these horsemen in check, and was itself connected with the main body by a chain of skirmishers extended across the valley. Fraser’s division held the heights immediately before the gates of Corunna, watching the coast road, but it was also ready to succour any point.
When Laborde’s division arrived, the French force was not less than twenty thousand men, and the Duke of Dalmatia made no idle evolutions of display. Distributing his lighter guns along the front of his position, he opened a fire from the heavy battery on his left, and instantly descended the mountain, with three columns covered by clouds of skirmishers. The British pickets were driven back in disorder, and the village of Elvina was carried by the first French column.