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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe History Of The Next French Revolution - Chapter VI. THE ENGLISH UNDER JENKINS
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The History Of The Next French Revolution - Chapter VI. THE ENGLISH UNDER JENKINS Post by :tedbosworth Category :Long Stories Author :William Makepeace Thackeray Date :April 2012 Read :3375

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The History Of The Next French Revolution - Chapter VI. THE ENGLISH UNDER JENKINS

But the Prince had not calculated that there was a line of British infantry behind the routed Irish Brigade. Borne on with the hurry of the melee, flushed with triumph, puffing and blowing with running, and forgetting, in the intoxication of victory, the trifling bayonet-pricks which had impelled them to the charge, the conquering National Guardsmen found themselves suddenly in presence of Jenkins's Foot.

They halted all in a huddle, like a flock of sheep.

"UP, FOOT, AND AT THEM!" were the memorable words of the Duke Jenkins, as, waving his baton, he pointed towards the enemy, and with a tremendous shout the stalwart sons of England rushed on!--Down went plume and cocked-hat, down went corporal and captain, down went grocer and tailor, under the long staves of the indomitable English Footmen. "A Jenkins! a Jenkins!" roared the Duke, planting a blow which broke the aquiline nose of Major Arago, the celebrated astronomer. "St. George for Mayfair!" shouted his followers, strewing the plain with carcasses. Not a man of the Guard escaped; they fell like grass before the mower.

"They are gallant troops, those yellow-plushed Anglais," said the Duke of Nemours, surveying them with his opera-glass. "'Tis a pity they will all be cut up in half an hour. Concombre! take your dragoons, and do it!" "Remember Waterloo, boys!" said Colonel Concombre, twirling his moustache, and a thousand sabres flashed in the sun, and the gallant hussars prepared to attack the Englishmen.

Jenkins, his gigantic form leaning on his staff, and surveying the havoc of the field, was instantly aware of the enemy's manoeuvre. His people were employed rifling the pockets of the National Guard, and had made a tolerable booty, when the great Duke, taking a bell out of his pocket, (it was used for signals in his battalion in place of fife or bugle,) speedily called his scattered warriors together. "Take the muskets of the Nationals," said he. They did so. "Form in square, and prepare to receive cavalry!" By the time Concombre's regiment arrived, he found a square of bristling bayonets with Britons behind them!

The Colonel did not care to attempt to break that tremendous body. "Halt!" said he to his men.

"Fire!" screamed Jenkins, with eagle swiftness; but the guns of the National Guard not being loaded, did not in consequence go off. The hussars gave a jeer of derision, but nevertheless did not return to the attack, and seeing some of the Legitimist cavalry at hand, prepared to charge upon them.

The fate of those carpet warriors was soon decided. The Millefleur regiment broke before Concombre's hussars instantaneously; the Eau-de-Rose dragoons stuck spurs into their blood horses, and galloped far out of reach of the opposing cavalry; the Eau-de-Cologne lancers fainted to a man, and the regiment of Concombre, pursuing its course, had actually reached the Prince and his aides-de-camp, when the clergymen coming up formed gallantly round the oriflamme, and the bassoons and serpents braying again, set up such a shout of canticles, and anathemas, and excommunications, that the horses of Concombre's dragoons in turn took fright, and those warriors in their turn broke and fled. As soon as they turned, the Vendean riflemen fired amongst them and finished them: the gallant Concombre fell; the intrepid though diminutive Cornichon, his major, was cut down; Cardon was wounded a la moelle, and the wife of the fiery Navet was that day a widow. Peace to the souls of the brave! In defeat or in victory, where can the soldier find a more fitting resting-place than the glorious field of carnage? Only a few disorderly and dispirited riders of Concombre's regiment reached Tours at night. They had left it but the day before, a thousand disciplined and high-spirited men!

Knowing how irresistible a weapon is the bayonet in British hands, the intrepid Jenkins determined to carry on his advantage, and charged the Saugrenue light infantry (now before him) with COLD STEEL. The Frenchmen delivered a volley, of which a shot took effect in Jenkins's cockade, but did not abide the crossing of the weapons. "A Frenchman dies, but never surrenders," said Saugrenue, yielding up his sword, and his whole regiment were stabbed, trampled down, or made prisoners. The blood of the Englishmen rose in the hot encounter. Their curses were horrible; their courage tremendous. "On! on!" hoarsely screamed they; and a second regiment met them and was crushed, pounded in the hurtling, grinding encounter. "A Jenkins, a Jenkins!" still roared the heroic Duke: "St. George for Mayfair!" The Footmen of England still yelled their terrific battle-cry, "Hurra, hurra!" On they went; regiment after regiment was annihilated, until, scared at the very trample of the advancing warriors, the dismayed troops of France screaming fled. Gathering his last warriors round about him, Nemours determined to make a last desperate effort. 'Twas vain: the ranks met; the next moment the truncheon of the Prince of Orleans was dashed from his hand by the irresistible mace of the Duke Jenkins; his horse's shins were broken by the same weapon. Screaming with agony the animal fell. Jenkins's hand was at the Duke's collar in a moment, and had he not gasped out, "Je me rends!" he would have been throttled in that dreadful grasp!

Three hundred and forty-two standards, seventy-nine regiments, their baggage, ammunition, and treasure-chests, fell into the hands of the victorious Duke. He had avenged the honor of Old England; and himself presenting the sword of the conquered Nemours to Prince Henri, who now came up, the Prince bursting into tears, fell on his neck and said, "Duke, I owe my crown to my patron saint and you." It was indeed a glorious victory: but what will not British valor attain?

The Duke of Nemours, having despatched a brief note to Paris, saying, "Sire, all is lost except honor!" was sent off in confinement; and in spite of the entreaties of his captor, was hardly treated with decent politeness. The priests and the noble regiments who rode back when the affair was over, were for having the Prince shot at once, and murmured loudly against "cet Anglais brutal" who interposed in behalf of the prisoner. Henri V. granted the Prince his life; but, no doubt misguided by the advice of his noble and ecclesiastical counsellors, treated the illustrious English Duke with marked coldness, and did not even ask him to supper that night.

"Well!" said Jenkins, "I and my merry men can sup alone." And, indeed, having had the pick of the plunder of about 28,000 men, they had wherewithal to make themselves pretty comfortable. The prisoners (25,403) were all without difficulty induced to assume the white cockade. Most of them had those marks of loyalty ready sewn in their flannel-waistcoats, where they swore they had worn them ever since 1830. This we may believe, and we will; but the Prince Henri was too politic or too good-humored in the moment of victory, to doubt the sincerity of his new subjects' protestations, and received the Colonels and Generals affably at his table.

The next morning a proclamation was issued to the united armies. "Faithful soldiers of France and Navarre," said the Prince, "the saints have won for us a great victory--the enemies of our religion have been overcome--the lilies are restored to their native soil. Yesterday morning at eleven o'clock the army under my command engaged that which was led by his SERENE Highness the Duke de Nemours. Our forces were but a third in number when compared with those of the enemy. My faithful chivalry and nobles made the strength, however, equal.

"The regiments of Fleur-d'Orange, Millefleur, and Eau-de-Cologne covered themselves with glory: they sabred many thousands of the enemy's troops. Their valor was ably seconded by the gallantry of my ecclesiastical friends: at a moment of danger they rallied round my banner, and forsaking the crosier for the sword, showed that they were of the church militant indeed.

"My faithful Irish auxiliaries conducted themselves with becoming heroism--but why particularize when all did their duty? How remember individual acts when all were heroes?" The Marshal of France, Sucre d'Orgeville, Commander of the Army of H.M. Christian Majesty, recommended about three thousand persons for promotion; and the indignation of Jenkins and his brave companions may be imagined when it is stated that they were not even mentioned in the despatch!

As for the Princes of Ballybunion, Donegal, and Connemara, they wrote off despatches to their Government, saying, "The Duke of Nemours is beaten, and a prisoner! The Irish Brigade has done it all!" On which his Majesty the King of the Irish, convoking his Parliament at the Corn Exchange Palace, Dublin, made a speech, in which he called Louis Philippe an "old miscreant," and paid the highest compliments to his son and his troops. The King on this occasion knighted Sir Henry Sheehan, Sir Gavan Duffy (whose journals had published the news), and was so delighted with the valor of his son, that he despatched him his order of the Pig and Whistle (1st class), and a munificent present of five hundred thousand pounds--in a bill at three months. All Dublin was illuminated; and at a ball at the Castle the Lord Chancellor Smith (Earl of Smithereens) getting extremely intoxicated, called out the Lord Bishop of Galway (the Dove), and they fought in the Phoenix Park. Having shot the Right Reverend Bishop through the body, Smithereens apologized. He was the same practitioner who had rendered himself so celebrated in the memorable trial of the King--before the Act of Independence.

Meanwhile, the army of Prince Henri advanced with rapid strides towards Paris, whither the History likewise must hasten; for extraordinary were the events preparing in that capital.

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