THE DYNASTS ACT
I must dictate some letters. This new move
Of England on Madrid may mean some trouble.
Come, dwell not gloomily on this cold need
Of waiving private joy for policy.
We are but thistle-globes on Heaven's high gales,
And whither blown, or when, or how, or why,
Can choose us not at all! ...
I'll come to you anon, dear : staunch Roustan
Will light me in.
The scene shuts in shadow.
A village among the hills of Portugal, about fifty miles north of Lisbon. Around it are disclosed, as ten on Sunday morning strikes, a blue army of fourteen thousand men in isolated columns, and a red army of eighteen thousand in line formation, drawn up in order of battle. The blue army is a French one under JUNOT ; the other an English one under SIR ARTHUR WELLESLEY—portion of that recently landed.
The August sun glares on the shaven faces, white gaiters, and white cross-belts of the English, who are to fight for their lives while sweating under a quarter-hundredweight in knapsack and pouches, and with firelocks heavy as putlogs. They occupy a group of heights, but their position is one of great danger, the land abruptly terminating two miles behind their backs in lofty cliffs overhanging the Atlantic. The French occupy the valleys in the English front; and this distinction between the two forces strikes the eye—the red army is accompanied by scarce any cavalry, while the blue is strong in that arm.
The battle is begun with alternate moves that match each other like those of a chess opening. JUNOT makes an oblique attack by moving a division to his right; WELLESLEY moves several brigades to his left to balance it.
A column of six thousand French then climbs the hill against the English centre, and drives in those who are planted there. The