He was delighted when I opened on him with that topic, and he told me with great spirit of the vehemence with which his brother-officer Colonel Macdonnell, and his men forced the French soldiers out of the Hougomont courtyard, and how big Sergeant Graham closed the door against them by main force of muscular strength.
There stood the old Hougomont Château, the walls dented, and scratched, and broken, and shattered by grape-shot and cannon-ball. There is the well in which three hundred dying and dead were pitched. There is the chapel with the head of the infant Christ shot off. There are the gates at which, for many hours, English and French armies wrestled.
Thus to answer the Catastrophe, thus to speak to Fate, to give this pedestal to the future lion, to hurl such a challenge to the midnight rainstorm, to the treacherous wall of Hougomont, to the sunken road of Ohain, to Grouchy's delay, to Blucher's arrival, to be Irony itself in the tomb, to act so as to stand upright though fallen, to drown in two syllables the European coalition, to offer kings privies which the Caesars once knew, to make the lowest of words the most lofty by entwining with it the glory of France, insolently to end Waterloo with Mardigras, to finish Leonidas with Rabellais, to set the crown on this victory by a word impossible to speak, to lose the field and preserve history, to have the laugh on your side after such a carnage, this is immense!
He surveyed the house with interest, and then walked round and scanned the outer boundary of the garden, as one might have done had it been the birthplace of Shakespeare, the prison of Mary Stuart, or the Château of Hougomont. After passing round and again reaching the gate he went in. Mrs.
The line was formed convex, dropping back towards the forest at either extremity; the right to Mark Braine, near Braine-la-Leude; the left to Ter-la-Haye. The chateau and gardens of Hougomont, and the farmhouse and enclosures of La Haye Sainte, about 1500 yards apart, on the slope of the declivity, were strongly occupied, and formed the important out-works of defence.
Bauduin's brigade was not strong enough to force Hougomont on the north, and the brigade of Soye could not do more than effect the beginning of a breach on the south, but without taking it. The farm buildings border the courtyard on the south. A bit of the north door, broken by the French, hangs suspended to the wall.
Hougomont and La Haie-Sainte continued to burn, forming, one in the west, the other in the east, two great flames which were joined by the cordon of bivouac fires of the English, like a necklace of rubies with two carbuncles at the extremities, as they extended in an immense semicircle over the hills along the horizon. We have described the catastrophe of the road of Ohain.
"I know how to read, I do!" She eagerly seized a book which lay open on the table, and read with tolerable fluency: " General Bauduin received orders to take the chateau of Hougomont which stands in the middle of the plain of Waterloo, with five battalions of his brigade." She paused. "Ah! Waterloo! I know about that. It was a battle long ago. My father was there.
The attack of the right wing of the French on Papelotte was calculated, in fact, to overthrow the English left, to cut off the road to Brussels, to bar the passage against possible Prussians, to force Mont-Saint-Jean, to turn Wellington back on Hougomont, thence on Braine-l'Alleud, thence on Hal; nothing easier.
Then, after that meeting amid the ashes of Hougomont, where they dreamed they had trodden out the embers of all democracy, the Prussians rode on before, doing after their kind. After them went that ironical aristocrat out of embittered Ireland, with what thoughts we know; and Blucher, with what thoughts we care not; and his soldiers entered Paris, and stole the sword of Joan of Arc.