The dreadful struggle which so long convulsed Europe,
and in which England bore so prominent a part, was
then at its hottest; we were at war, and determination
and enthusiasm shone in every face; man, woman, and
child were eager to fight the Frank, the hereditary,
but, thank God, never dreaded enemy of the Anglo-Saxon
race. ’Love your country and beat the French,
and then never mind what happens,’ was the cry
of entire England. Oh, those were days of power,
gallant days, bustling days, worth the bravest days
of chivalry at least; tall battalions of native warriors
were marching through the land; there was the glitter
of the bayonet and the gleam of the sabre; the shrill
squeak of the fife and loud rattling of the drum were
heard in the streets of country towns, and the loyal
shouts of the inhabitants greeted the soldiery on
their arrival, or cheered them at their departure.
And now let us leave the upland, and descend to the
sea-bord; there is a sight for you upon the billows!
A dozen men-of-war are gliding majestically out of
port, their long buntings streaming from the top-gallant
masts, calling on the skulking Frenchman to come forth
from his bights and bays; and what looms upon us yonder
from the fog-bank in the east? a gallant frigate towing
behind her the long low hull of a crippled privateer,
which but three short days ago had left Dieppe to
skim the sea, and whose crew of ferocious hearts are
now cursing their imprudence in an English hold.
Stirring times those, which I love to recall, for
they were days of gallantry and enthusiasm, and were
moreover the days of my boyhood.
Pretty D-----The venerable church--The stricken heart--Dormant
energies—The small packet—Nerves—The books—A picture—Mountain-like
billows—The footprint—Spirit of De Foe—Reasoning powers—Terrors of
God—Heads of the dragons—High-Church clerk—A journey—The drowned
And when I was between six and seven years of age
we were once more at D—–, the place
of my birth, whither my father had been despatched
on the recruiting service. I have already said
that it was a beautiful little town—at
least it was at the time of which I am speaking—what
it is at present I know not, for thirty years and
more have elapsed since I last trod its streets.
It will scarcely have improved, for how could it be
better than it then was? I love to think on thee,
pretty quiet D—–, thou pattern of
an English country town, with thy clean but narrow
streets branching out from thy modest market-place,
with thine old-fashioned houses, with here and there
a roof of venerable thatch, with thy one half-aristocratic
mansion, where resided thy Lady Bountiful—she,
the generous and kind, who loved to visit the sick,
leaning on her gold-headed cane, whilst the sleek old
footman walked at a respectful distance behind.
Pretty quiet D—–, with thy venerable
church, in which moulder the mortal remains of England’s
sweetest and most pious bard.