« AnteriorContinuar »
firm plain, which had lately borne a large crop of corn. But the harvest was gathered in, and the expanse was unbroken by tree, bush, or interruption of any kind. The rest of the army were following fast, when they heard the drums of the enemy beat the general. Surprise, however, had made no part of their plan, so they were not disconcerted by this intimation that the foe was upon his guard, and prepared to receive them. It only hastened their dispositions for the combat, which were very simple. · The Highland army, which now occupied the eastern end of the wide plain, or corn field, so often referred to, was drawn up in two lines, extending from the morass towards the sea. The first was destined to charge the enemy, the second to act as a reserve. The few horse, whom the Prince headed in person, remained be'tween the two lines. The Adventurer 'had intimated a resolution to charge in Derson at the head of his first line; but
his purpose was deprecated by all around him, and he was with difficulty induced to abandon it.
Both lines were now moving forward, the first prepared for instant combat. The clans, of which it was composed, formed each a sort of separate phalanx, narrow in front, and in depth ten, twelve, or fifteen files, according to the strength of the following. The best armed and best born, for the words were synonymous, were placed in front of each of these irregular subdivisions. The others in the rear shoul-.. dered forward the front, and by their press sure added both physical impulse, and additional ardour and confidence, to those who were first to encounter the danger,
“ Down with your plaid, Waverley," cried Fergus, throwing off his own;" we'll win silks for our tartans before the sun is above the sea.”.
The clansmen on every side stript their plaids, prepared their arms, and there was an awful pause of about three minutes,
during which the men, pulling off their bonnets, raised their faces to heaven, and uttered a short prayer. Waverley felt his. heart at that moment throb as it would have burst from his bosom. It was not fear, it was not ardour,-it was a compound of both, a new and deeply energetic impulse, that with its first emotion chilled and astounded, then fevered and maddened his mind. The sounds around him combined to exalt his enthusiasm ; the pipes played, and the clans rushed forward, each in its own dark column. As they advan. ced they mended their pace, and the muttering sounds of the men to each other began to swell into a wild cry. :"
At this moment the sun, which was now above the horizon, "dispelled the mists. The våpours rose like a curtain, and shewed the two armies in the act of closing. The line of the regulars was formed di. rectly fronting the attack of the Highlanders ;-it glittered with the appointments of a complete army, and was flanked
by cavalry and artillery. But the sight impressed no terror on the assailants. “Forward, sons of Iyor," cried their Chief, “ or the Camerons will draw the first blood.” They rushed on with a tremendous yell.
The rest is well known. The horse, who were commanded to charge the advancing Highlanders in the flank, received a fire from their fusees as they ran on, and, seized with a disgraceful panic, wavered, halted, disbanded, and galloped from the field. The artillery-men, deserted by the cavalry, fled after discharging their pieces, and the Highlanders, who dropped their guns when fired, and drew their broadswords, rushed with headlong fury against the infantry,
It was at this moment of confusion and terror that Waverley remarked an English officer, apparently of high rank, standing alone and unsupported by a field-piece, which, after the flight of the men by whom it was wrought, he had himself levelled and discharged against the clan of Mac-Ivor, the nearest group of Highlanders within his aim. Struck with his tall martial figure, and eager to save him from inevitable destruction, Waverley out. stripped for an instant even the speediest of the warriors, and reaching the spot first, called to him to surrender. The officer replied by a thrust with his sword, which Waverley received in his target, and in turn. ing it aside the Englishman's weapon broke. At the same time the battle axe of Dugaldı Mahony was in the act of descending upon the officer's head. Waverley intercepted and prevented the blow, and the officer, perceiving further resistance unavailing, and struck with Edward's generous anxiety for his safety, resigned the. fragment of his sword, and was committed by Waverley to Dugald, with strict charge to use him well, and not to pillage his person, promising him, .at the same time, full indemnification for the spoil.. - On Edward's right the battle still raged