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thousands, regardless of danger. At the battle of Ortez he was known, with his own hand, to have slain thirty of the enemy; and his lance, the weapon with which he performed this feat, still wet with the vital fluid, was by himself, after the action, presented to the late General English. He is, without exception, the best guerilla chieftain that exists. With but little theoretical knowledge of the art of war, he has, from experience, become an adept in its practical duties. Correct in his judgment, decisive in his conduct, and rapid in his movements, success generally follows the execution of his plans. Were his education commensurate with his natural abilities, he might vie in talent with a Napoleon, and the southern hemisphere (according to the bias. his ambition might then take) yet have to lament a scourge, or glory in a benefactor.
Having now endeavored to give my reader some faint idea of the merits and demerits of the redoubtable Paez, I will request him to accompany me, in his "mind's eye," to the little town of Achaquas, where we shall arrive at the period of the truce agreed to by Bolivar and the Spanish general Morillo. A six months' suspension of hostilities had been just declared, and the patriot troops throughout Venezuela had taken possession of their different cantonments, where they hoped to enjoy a short respite from the toils and privations they had so long and so patiently endured. This pleasing anticipation was more particularly indulged in by the garrison of Achaquas. Here the remnant of the "British legion," that had arrived with General English two years previous, was stationed, under the command of Colonel Blosset, upon whom the charge had devolved at the demise of the former. The brigade now consisted of only eight incomplete companies of infantry, and one squadron of dismounted cavalry-a melancholy and convincing proof of the insalubrity of the
climate. These brave fellows had gallantly sustained the honor of the national character before Cumana and Barcelona, and, after numerous fatiguing marches and countermarches, had arrived at Achaquas some time prior to the truce, and were then regarded as the most effective and best-disciplined body at Paez's head-quarters. Strongly recommended by Bolivar to the special protection of that general (and to whose kindness their services alone should have proved a sufficient claim), they relied on the promises made them, and hoped to become sharers, at least, in the prosperity which now began to dawn upon the republic as an earnest of brighter prospect. How fallacious, alas, were these expectations!
They soon discovered that an undue preference was accorded by those in authority to the Creole troops they beheld themselves the objects of a narrow-minded prejudice, considered as intruders in the country in whose defence they had bled, hourly insulted by the inhabitants and rival soldiery, and designated by the epithet of slaves purchased by the barter of hides and tallow !
These bitter gibes and keen sarcasms were borne by the men for a long time with stoical fortitude, or, rather, with an apathy uncommon to Englishmen. Their energies had been numbed, as it were, by intense suffering; and it seemed as though the chords of their hearts had ceased to vibrate to the touch of indignity!
The bow-string, after rain, if too forcibly distended, will snap; so did our countrymen, by degrees, begin to feel the strain upon their sensibilities, though they writhed not till that strain became tightened to agony.
Bolivar had directed that half-pay should be issued monthly to the "British legion." This advantage was, however, only nominal: a base metal coin, slightly washed with silver (termed by the inhabitants "chipe a chipe ") was in
quence put in circulation. The tradesmen refused to receive it in exchange for the requisite articles of consumption until Paez threatened to shoot the recusant; and even then the enhanced price of provisions bore no comparison with the fictitious value of the spurious coin, and the English were therefore still unable to obtain the common necessaries of existence.
Meanwhile, the good money furnished from the exchequer for the express purpose of carrying Bolivar's order into effect, was by Paez (with an occasional sop in the pan thrown to one or two of the superior British officers to keep them quiet) distributed amongst his tawny-colored satellites; nor was it an unusual sight to behold the gamblingtables before alluded to covered with doubloons and "pesos duros," and of which our famished soldiers well knew they should have been the legal possessors. A pound of bad beef had, for a considerable period, been the only diurnal ration received by our brave comrades, and many of the officers were reduced to the necessity of parting with their wearing apparel; the "sambo," or mulatto purchaser, parading his uncomely figure, arrayed in all the glitter of gold and silver embroidery, and triumphing in the spoil, in the presence even of its former owner. Splendid uniforms changed wearers with surprising rapidity; and many a youthful "petit maître" was happy to shelter himself from the scorching rays of a tropical sun, or the furious pelting of the pitiless shower, beneath the once-despised but now coveted blanket. A considerable quantity of clothing, boots, shoes, &c. had arrived from England and the United States for the use of the troops. These were surreptitiously disposed of by the "administrador" to the merchant-pedlars who followed the army and preyed upon its vitals, and the produce of the sale
speedily found its way to the hazard table; whilst the British soldier was not only suffered to wander about destitute and barefooted, but otherwise literally in a state of nudity! Such, however, was the excellent discipline of the corps, that, notwithstanding these just motives of disaffection to a cause which they had been induced to espouse from the most flattering anticipations, the men still continued to perform their various military avocations, if not with cheerful alacrity, at least with mechanical steadiness, until a circumstance (which I am about to relate) occurred, and roused their dormant feelings to an acute sense of the degradation they had so long labored under.
General Paez requiring some alteration to be made in part of his dress, sent an orderly to command the immediate attendance of one of the British regimental tailors. The poor devil was in the act of masticating his hard beef when the general's mandate reached him; and not over anxious, possibly, to work without any chance of remuneration, neglected to obey quite so promptly as Paez expected. The general, irritated by what he qualified an act of insolent insubordination, despatched an aide-de-camp to Colonel Blosset, directing him forthwith to compliment the refractory tailor with a hundred lashes! That officer, feeling the injustice of the order, lost no time in waiting upon Paez, and respectfully stated, that by the English articles of war (under which code the "British legion had been embodied, and to which, by Bolivar's sanction, they could be alone amenable) he was prohibited from inflicting corporeal punishment, except by the sentence of a court martial; but if his excellency thought proper, he would immediately summon one, and doubted not, according to the evidence adduced, the court would satisfy him by their verdict.
. During this remonstrance, not a muscle in Paez's face betrayed his inward agitation, not a gesture interrupted the colonel's exordium. An indifferent spectator would have inferred from his manner that he had either lost all recollection of the occurrence, or deemed it too trivial to attract his further notice; a more accurate observer, however, would have detected the smile of ineffable contempt struggling for passage through his firmly closed lips. For some moments after Blosset had ceased to speak, there was a death-like pause-none dared to break the silence; those who best knew him almost dreaded to respire. All this time Paez kept his eyes intently fixed on Blosset, who (like the bird charmed by the fascinating influence of the rattlesnake) involuntarily trembled at length he raised them, as if wholly unconscious of the sensation he had caused, and turning to an aide-decamp who stood near, told him to order the bugle to sound "Turn out the whole; "then approaching Blosset, with calm, unruffled voice, addressed him thus :—“ If, Sir, the uncompromising strictness of your military code prevents you from chastising insolence in a soldier, by the application of a few lashes, unless sanctioned by a court-martial, mine imposes no such delicate restraints upon my will, and I can shoot the insubordinate object of my displeasure without the aid or authority of tribunal. Now mark me, your Colonel. Return to your brigade, see my former orders carried into prompt execution, or in ten minutes the man will have ceased to exist!" Blosset bowed and retired. It is almost needless to say, that of two evils the least was chosen-the unlucky tailor received his hundred lashes. Paez on horseback remained on the confines of the "Grande Plaza" till he saw his victim tied up and receive the first stripe he then rode off, accompanied by a numerous staff, to enjoy
a gallop and acquire an appetite on the neighboring plains!
The effect which this stretch of arbitrary power had upon the minds of the men may be readily surmised: non-commissioned officers and pri vates felt equal indignation; murmurs of disapprobation rose into expressions of loud complaint; all were alike clamorous for passports to quit the service; and there is little doubt, had an opportunity presented itself, the "British legion to a man would have joined the standard of the enemy.
For three days following, the symptoms of discontent became so generally apparent, that Paez himself began to calculate the result. Not that he dreaded the irruption of the volcano, or could be deterred by the burning lava it might vomit forth from pursuing his course; but it did not suit his present policy to drive things to extremity; he therefore adopted conciliatory measures, and by an augmentation of rations (not forgetting an allowance of spirituous liquor), with a few necessary articles of clothing, he contrived to appease the mutinous spirit his hard treatment had invoked. But the flame of discord was only partially smothered, and needed but a fresh grievance to rake it into a fiercer blaze. The men performed their wonted duties in sullen silence, and were still evidently brooding over the injuries they had sustained.
In this mood we will for the present leave them, as I am anxious to introduce to my reader's notice a few of the officers of the "British legion," with whom it is necessary he should have some acquaintance, in order to enable him to better understand the sequel of my narrative.
Colonel Blosset was a man of gentlemanlike manners and appearance. He had formerly held the rank of captain and brevet-major in the 28th foot, and served with that regiment in Egypt. He was considered as a brave and clever officer,
but he was ill calculated for the post he attained in the republican service. Owing, probably, to the influence of climate, his mind became enervated, and he evinced a most unpardonable apathy towards the interest and comforts of those under his command. He was peculiarly accessible to flattery, and the most fulsome adulation could neither of fend nor disgust him. This weakness was taken advantage of by a scoundrel, who, by the meanest arts, so wormed himself into the colonel's confidence, and took such firm hold of his affections, that he became his sole adviser, and directed his every action!
The officers of the legion beheld with astonishment the sudden elevation of a man who but a short time previous was a sergeant in the corps in which he now bore the rank of captain, together with the staffappointment of brigade-major, which his patron had bestowed upon him with a view of attaching him more immediately to his person. Conjecture was busy in unraveling the mystery of this preferment, but no correct solution of it appears to have been obtained. What seemed most singular was, that Blosset should have selected for his intimate companion an illiterate man of low and vulgar habits, and whose only redeeming qualities were a bustling activity and tolerably soldierlike appearance. Had he conducted himself with prudence in his new station, he might have secured the good-will of his former superiors; but his overbearing arrogance and insolent assumption of consequence rendered him an object of contempt and detestation to every Englishman in the garrison.
Still, however, Brigade-major Trayner (so was the colonel's minion named) set public opinion at defiance, and, heedless of the odium he incurred, continued to assert the prerogative of his place, and exercise its functions with a severity that astonished, but could not restrain the sarcastic comments of his 8 ATHENEUM, VOL. 5, 3d series.
quondam associates, some of whom had known him in the British army. The trite proverb of "Set a beggar on horseback" was fully verified in his conduct. Hints respecting his former character were at first cautiously indulged in, but soon acquired a more tangible shape; till at length he was boldly accused of having (whilst serving with his corps during the occupation of France by the Allied Forces) been reduced from the rank of corporal and punished for theft!
As he took no steps to invalidate a report so stigmatizing in its nature, the officers of the legion deemed it their duty to request the commanding officer to institute an inquiry into the truth of a charge which was calculated to reflect dishonor upon the whole. Strange to say, the colonel not only professed to discredit the accusation, but discountenanced all investigation! The officers, compelled to acquiesce in this decision, determined at least to avoid the contamination of his society save, therefore, on points of duty, they held no communication with him, and he was placed in strict "coventry." This very just manifestation of indignant feeling stung Trayner to the soul. Every baneful passion rankled in his bosom. He swore to be revenged, and too fatally did he keep his oath !—but let us not anticipate our tale.
Attached as lieutenant to the
light company of the "legion," was a young man of most amiable manners, gentlemanlike, and unassuming in his deportment. He was respected and idolized by his comrades, who took pleasure in predicting his advancement, which they would have witnessed without one particle of jealousy. The son of a rich and respectable manufacturer in Yorkshire, young Risdale, with all the ardent feelings of youthful ambition, and his heart glowing with enthusiasm to become a participator in the glorious struggle of South American independence, left his father's house; exchanging the ad
vantages of affluence for a precarious existence-the delights of a peaceful home, endeared to him by a thousand infantile recollections, for a country convulsed by civil war the salubrity of his native air for the pestiferous vapors of a foreign clime; sacrificing, in short, every earthly blessing to a vain phantom which has lured millions to destruction !
Unfortunate and misguided youth -May the tears of the brave that have been shed o'er thy untimely fate propitiate thine honored shade! -may the remembrance of thy virtues soothe the regrets of the friends that survive thee! The turf that covers thy humble sepulchre will lie light upon thy bosom, for it is not burthened with the curses of the widow or the orphan; whilst the marble that entombs the oppressor cannot shelter him from the execration he merits !
The reader will, I am sure, pardon my digression. I was unable to check this small tribute of respect to the manes of one endowed with every noble quality. Should a parent's eye peruse this sketch, in deploring the melancholy event that bereaved him of his son, he will, I -trust, derive some consolation from even my feeble efforts to do justice to the memory of my friend, and shield his character from aspersion. How many young men, like poor Risdale, impelled by the fervor of an ardent imagination, and the spirit of chivalrous enterprise, embraced a cause which presented to their view the flattering perspective of -immortal renown! How soon, alas! were the evergreen laurels they sought changed into mournful cypress! Denied even by the soil they aided in delivering from the yoke of the despot a little earth to cover their inanimate remains, their mouldering bones, the refuse of vultures, are still left to bleach upon the arid plains of Candalaria !-But to resume my narration.
The company to which Risdale belonged was commanded by the
son of an old British officer. Their relative situation as comrades linked them together, whilst a similarity of disposition and sentiments cemented an attachment, the natural result of this reciprocity of feeling. Captain Hodgkinson was an excellent officer, and, by his persevering exertions, the light company of the "British legion " would have done credit to the best-disciplined battalion in Europe. Respected and esteemed by his superiors, he was likewise beloved by his equals. No man knew better than himself how to draw the line of distinction betwixt hauteur and prudent reserve. He was condescending to all, familiar with none; but he regarded Risdale in the double light of friend and pupil, and took both pride and pleasure in imparting to him the fruits of his experience. Under these friendly auspices the young aspirant soon became a proficient in all military exercises, and bid fair to rival his instructer, which Hodgkinson rather gloried in than envied. Proud of his own creation, he neglected no opportunity of extolling the merits of his youthful competitor; and the affection which they mutually cherished towards each other made them inseparable companions, and caused them to be considered as the Damon and Pythias of modern friendship.
The very soul of honor himself, it is not surprising that Captain Hodgkinson should have shrunk from the polluting touch of infamy. Too sincere to disguise his feelings at any time, he attempted not to restrain them when the routine of his professional duties brought him into contact with the degraded Trayner. His heart would have sympathized with misfortune, might have wept over the delusions of error, but never could hold communion with guilt. Trayner's barefaced impudence disgusted him, and he evinced his abhorrence on every occasion by the most sovereign contempt. Risdale of course partook of his friend's antipathy; and both