June 18, 2007

Gratuitous Historickal Posting


Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 in which the Iron Dook, in their first meeting, put the final kybosh on the Corsican Tyrant. I'll post what my quote-of-the-day-email-guy says to mark the occassion:

The village sleeps, a name unknown till men
With life-blood stain its soil, and pay the due
That lifts it to eternal fame, -- for then
'Tis grown a Gettysburg or Waterloo.

- Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe (1864-1960) ("Distinction")

You will have heard of our battle of the 18th. Never did I see such a pounding match... Napoleon did not maneuver at all. He just moved forward in the old style, and was driven off in the old style.

- Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (1769-1852)
(letter to Sir William Beresford, 2 July 1815)

Thou fateful Waterloo,
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children's lips shall echo them, and say --
"Here, where the sword the united nations drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!"
And this is much, and all which will not pass away.*

- George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) (Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto II, 35)

Today is the 192nd anniversary of the battle of Waterloo in 1815, in which British forces under the Duke of Wellington and the Prussians under Field Marshall Blücher decisively defeated the French under Napoleon to end the "Hundred Days Campaign." After the allies took Paris in March 1814, Napoleon was inititally exiled to Elba. A year later, he returned to France amid great acclaim, re-entered Paris, declared himself emperor again, and retook command of the French armies to renew the struggle. Four days after the debacle at Waterloo - which Wellington described as "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life" - Napoleon abdicated again and was sent into final exile on St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821.

Let American poet Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) have the last word, in "Grass":

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work --
I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
I am the grass.
Let me work.

* N.B. This passage was quoted by Winston Churchill to President Franklin Roosevelt in choosing the phrase, United Nations, to designate the victorious powers in World War II.

Posted by Robert at June 18, 2007 10:29 AM | TrackBack

"Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won."

- Arthur Wellesley

Posted by: Boy Named Sous at June 18, 2007 12:29 PM

The monument to the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo is an earthen pyramid. The top is leveled and on it is a lion to symbolize England. One paw is up, claws extended. The lion faces west towards France, towards the enemy.

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