"Let me interrupt you. I am so only because it is the taste of the day; but I despise the parade of military glory we have got into the habit of. I prefer the period when a mot did as much and more than a discharge of mitraille, and men's esprit and talent succeeded better than a strong sword-arm or a seat on horseback. There were gentlemen in France once, my dear Burke. Ay, parbleu! and ladies too, not marchionesses of the drum-head nor countesses of the bivouac, but women in whom birth heightened beauty, whose loveliness had the added charm of high descent beaming from their bright eyes and sitting throned on their lofty brows; before whom our mustached marshals had stood trembling and ashamed, these men who lounge so much at ease in the salons of the Tuileries! Let me help you to this salmi; it is
The plain was swarming with natives who had come, no doubt, from the neighbouring islets, attracted by the prospect of pillaging the Jane. Seventy boats were being paddled towards the ship. The six men on board fired on them, but their aim was uncertain in the first volley; a second, in which mitraille and grooved bullets were used, produced terrible effect.
A thousand and thousand times did I wish to be at the head of a cavalry charge up that narrow road in face of those guns; ay, though the mitraille should sweep the earth, there was that in the onward torrent of the horseman's course that left no room for fear. But this cold and stealthy approach, this weary watching, I could not bear.
What, I ask you, had those poor decrepit senators, those effeminate priests in the costumes of béguines, to do with the eagles of a brave but unfortunate army? In what way can you connect that incense and that organ with the smoke of artillery and the crash of mitraille? And, lastly, was it like old Daru himself to stand there, half crouching, beside some wretched half-palsied priest?
In a week or so, a normal condition is re-established in conquered Paris. Though the yellowstone houses are pitted with the scourge of ball and mitraille, the streets are safe. Humanity's wrecks are cleared away. Huge, smoking ruins tell of the mad barbarity of the floods of released criminals.
Warriors of greater equanimity than the French soldier possesses might perhaps stand on the defensive in calm self-confidence with simple breech-loaders as their weapons, if simple breech-loaders were also weapons of the assailants. The assailants fall fast as their advance pushes forward, thinned down by the rifle fire, the mitraille, and the shrapnel of the defence.
Each considerable city had its guillotine, and where that instrument of punishment was wanting, the fusillade or the mitraille supplied its place.
The mitraille vanished in shapelessness; the bombs plunged into it; bullets only succeeded in making holes in it; what was the use of cannonading chaos? and the regiments, accustomed to the fiercest visions of war, gazed with uneasy eyes on that species of redoubt, a wild beast in its boar-like bristling and a mountain by its enormous size.
Behind these and other forts of nature they maintain for days an obstinate resistance, and pour deadly mitraille. The Turkish soldiers were here lounging about; they gaped and stared at me. I am, perhaps, the first European who has been to Yefran in the memory of the present generation, nay, the first European Christian who has visited this spot.
Lee's infantry was seen concentrating for the carnival of death; his artillery was massing to destroy the remnants of the charging divisions; those who deserted the crater, to scramble over the débris and run back, were shot down; then all that was left to the shuddering mass of blacks and whites in the pit was to shrink lower, evade the horrible mitraille, and wait for a charge of their friends to rescue them or surrender."