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BATTLE OF MONTONI.
morning of the memorable 23d of January dawned, and the bells were ringing in
every tower, when three cannon gave the signal for the fight, and the battle of
The light troops of the Constitutionalists opened a
smart fire upon the Austrians, and dislodged a strong corps from a position
which it occupied on the bank of a small stream. In consequence of this first
success, Richard was enabled to stretch out his right wing without restraint;
and, remembering the operation effected by the Cingani at Abrantani, he
instantly despatched that faithful corps, with a battalion of rifles, to make
the circuit of the village, and endeavour to turn the Austrians' left flank.
The left wing of the Constitutionalists soon came to
close quarters with the right wing of the enemy; and a desperate struggle ensued
to decide the occupancy of the sand-banks, which were quite hard and a desirable
position for artillery-pieces. Colonel Cossario, who commanded in that point,
succeeded, after a desperate conflict, in repulsing the Austrians; and twenty
field-pieces were dragged on the sand-banks. Those speedily vomited forth the
messengers of destruction; and the dread ordnance scattered death with appalling
The Grand Duke, seeing that his cause was hopeless if
that dreadful cannonade was not stopped, ordered four battalions of grenadiers
to attack the position. Markham, who was riding about the field, now
issuing orders now taking a part in the conflict, observed
the manoeuvre, and instantly placed himself at the head of two regiments of
cuirassiers with a view to render it abortive.
Then commenced one of the most deadly spectacles ever
performed on the theatre of the world. The Grand Duke sent a strong detachment
of Austrian Life-Guards to support the grenadiers; and the two squadrons of
cavalry came into fearful collision. The Constitutionalists were giving way,
when Markham precipitated himself into the thickest of the fight, cleared every
thing before him, and seized the Austrian colours. Morcar was immediately by his
side: the sword of a Life-Guard already gleamed above our hero's head another
moment, and he would have been no more. But the faithful gipsy warded off the
blow, and with another stroke of his heavy brand nearly severed the sword-arm of
the Life-Guard. Richard thanked him with a rapid but profoundly expressive
glance, and, retaining his hold on the Austrian banner, struck the ensign-bearer
to the ground.
This splendid achievement re-animated the Constitutional
cuirassiers; and the Austrian Life-Guards were shattered beyond redemption.
Almost at the same time, the Cingani and rifles affected
their movement on the left wing of the enemy, and threw it into confusion. This
disorder was however retrieved for about the space of two hours; when the
Marquis of Estella, with his cuirassiers, was enabled to take a part in the
conflict in that direction. This attack bore down the Austrians. They formed
themselves into a square; but vain were their attempts to oppose the impetuosity
with which the cuirassiers charged them. By three o'clock in the afternoon, the
left wing of the enemy was overwhelmed so completely that all the endeavours of
Marshal Herbertstein to rally his troops were fruitless.
Then, resolved to perish rather than surrender, the
Austrian commander met an honourable death in the ranks of battle.
In the centre the conflict raged with a fury which
seemed to leave room for doubt relative to the fortune of the day,
notwithstanding the important successes already obtained by the
The Grand Duke had flown with a choice body of cavalry
to support the compact masses that were now fighting for the victory: he himself
rode along the ranks encouraging them urging them
on promising rewards.
For nearly four hours more did the battle last in this
point; but at length our hero came up with his cuirassiers, all flushed with
conquest elsewhere; and his presence gave a decided turn to the struggle.
Rushing precipitately on bearing down all
before them thundering along with an irresistible impetuosity, the
cuirassiers scattered confusion and dismay in the ranks of their enemies. And
ever foremost in that last struggle, as in the first, the waving heron's plume
which marked his rank, and the death-dealing brand which he wielded with such
fatal effect, denoted the presence of Richard Markham.
He saw that the day was his own; the
Austrians were flying in all directions; confusion, disorder, and
dismay prevailed throughout their broken corps and shattered bands; Marshal
Herbertstein was numbered with the slain; the Grand Duke
fled; and at eight o'clock in the evening Montoni was delivered.
Darkness had now fallen on the scene of carnage; but
still the Constitutionalists pursued the Austrian fugitives; and numbers were
taken ere they could reach the river. A comparatively small portion of the
vanquished succeeded in throwing themselves into the boats that were moored on
the southern bank, or in gaining the adjacent bridges; and those only escaped.
Montoni saluted its deliverance with salvoes of
artillery and the ringing of bells; and the joyous sounds fell upon the ears of
the Grand Duke, as, heart-broken and distracted, he pursued his way, attended
only by a few faithful followers, towards the frontiers of that State from which
his rashness and despotism had driven him for ever.
Meantime, Richard Markham issued the necessary orders
for the safeguard of the prisoners and the care of the wounded; and, having
attended to those duties, he repaired to the village before mentioned where he
established his temporary head-quarters at the chβteau of a nobleman devoted to
the Constitutional cause.
Then, in the solitude of the chamber to which he had
retired, and with a soul full of tenderness and hope, as in the morning in the
grove of Legino, he addressed a letter to the Princess the
only joy [-173-] of his heart, the charming and
Quarters, near Montoni. Jan. 25.
"Eleven at night.
ere this will reach thee, dearest one, thou wilt have heard, by means of
telegraphic dispatch through France, of the great victory which has made me
master of Castelcicala. If there be any merit due unto myself. in consummating
this great aim, and conducting this glorious cause to its final triumph, it was
thine image, beloved Isabella, which nerved my arm and which gave me
intelligence to make the combinations that have led to so decided an end. In the
thickest of the fight in the midst of danger, when
balls whistled by me like hail, and the messengers of death were circulating in
every direction, thine eyes seemed to be guiding stars of hope,
and promise, and love. And now the first moment that I can snatch from the time
which so many circumstances compel me to devote to your native land is given to
"To morrow I shall write at great length to your
honoured father, whom in the morning it will be my pleasing duty to proclaim
ALBERTO I. GRAND DUKE OF CASTELCICALA.
"Although men now call me Marquis of Estella,
to thee dearest, I am simply
Our hero despatched this letter in one to Signor Viviani
at Pinella, by especial courier. He next wrote hasty accounts of the great
victory which he had gained, to the chief authorities of the various cities and
towns which had first declared in his favour, as before mentioned; and these
also were instantly sent off by messengers.
Then soon did rumour tell the glorious tale how Montoni
was delivered; and how the mighty flood of Austrian power, which had dashed its
billows against the walls of the ducal capital, was rolled back over the
confines of Castelcicala into the Roman States never to return.
We shall not dwell upon the particulars of that night
which succeeded the battle. Our readers can imagine the duties that devolve upon
a commander after so brilliant and yet so sanguinary a day. Suffice it to
observe, that Richard visited the houses in the village to which the wounded had
been conveyed; while Colonel Cossario took possession of the Austrian camp.
That night Montoni was brilliantly illuminated and the
most exuberant joy prevailed throughout the capital.
The Committee of Government assembled in close
deliberation, immediately after the receipt of the welcome tidings of the
victory; and, although they consulted in secret, still the inhabitants could
well divine the subject of their debate the best means of
testifying their own and the nation's gratitude towards that champion who had
thus diffused joy into so many hearts.
Early in the morning, the entire Committee, dressed in
their robes, and attended by the chief officers of the garrison, repaired on
horseback to the village where Richard had established his head quarters.
Our hero came forth to meet them, at the door of the
mansion where he was lodged, and received those high functionaries with his
plumed hat in hand.
"My lord," exclaimed Signor Galtano, the
President of the Committee, "it is for us to bare our heads to you. You
have saved us from an odious tyranny from oppression from
siege from famine! God alone can adequately reward you:
Castelcicala cannot. We have, however, further favours to solicit at your
lordship's hand. Until that Prince, who is now our rightful sovereign, can come
amongst us, and occupy that throne which your hands have prepared for him, you
must be our chief - our Regent. My lord, a hundred councillors, forming the
Provisional Committee of Government, debated this point last evening; and not a
single voice was raised in objection to that request which I, as their organ,
have now proffered to your lordship."
"No," answered Richard: "that cannot be.
The world would say that I am ambitious that I am swayed by
interested motives of aggrandizement. Continue, gentlemen, to exercise supreme
sway, until the arrival of your sovereign."
"My lord," returned the President, "Castelcicala
demands this favour at your hands."
"Then, if Castelcicala command, I accept the trust
with which you honour me," exclaimed Markham; "but so soon as I shall
have succeeded in restoring peace and order, you will permit me, gentlemen, to
repair to England, to present the ducal diadem to your rightful liege. And one
word more," continued Markham; "your troops have conducted themselves,
throughout this short but brilliant campaign, in a manner which exceeds all
praise. To you I commend them you must reward them."
"Your lordship is now the Regent of Castelcicala,"
answered the President; "and your decrees become our laws. Order and
"I shall not abuse the power which you place in my
hands," rejoined Markham.
The President then communicated to the Regent the
pleasing fact that the Lord High Admiral had that morning hoisted the tri-coloured
hag and sent an officer to signify his adhesion to the victorious cause. In
answer to a question from Signor Gaλtano, Richard signified his intention of
entering Montoni at three o'clock in the afternoon.
The principal authorities then returned to the capital.
Long before the appointed hour, the sovereign city wore
an aspect of rejoicing and happiness. Triumphal arches were erected in the
streets through which the conqueror would have to pass: the troops of the
garrison were mustered in the great square of the palace; and a guard of honour
was despatched to the southern gate. The windows were filled with smiling faces:
banners waved from the tops of the houses. The ships in the harbour and
roadstead were decked in their gayest colours; and boats were constantly
arriving from the fleet with provisions of all kinds for the use of the
The great bell in the tower of Saint Theodosia at length
proclaims the hour of three.
And, now hark! the artillery roars Montoni
salutes her Regent: the guard of honour presents arms; the martial music plays a
national air; and the conqueror enters the capital. The men-of-war in the
roadstead thunder forth echoes to the cannon on the ramparts; and the yards are
manned in token of respect for the representative of the sovereign power.
What were Richard's feelings now? But little more than
two months had elapsed since he had first entered that city, a prisoner vanquished with
shattered hopes and uncertain as to the fate that might be in
store for him. How changed were his circumstances! As a conqueror - a
noble and a ruler did he now make his appearance in a capital
where his name was upon every tongue, and where [-174-]
his great deeds excited the enthusiasm, the admiration, and the respect of every
Then his ideas were reflected still farther back; and he
thought of the time when he was a prisoner, though innocent, in an English gaol.
Far more rapidly than we can record his meditations, did memory whirl him
through all past adversities - reproduce before his mental eyes his recent
wanderings in Castelcicala and hurry him on to this glorious
consummation, when he finds himself entering the capital as the highest peer in
On his right hand was Colonel Cossario; and close behind
him amidst his brilliant staff was Morcar, the
faithful gipsy whose devotedness to his master had not a little contributed to
this grand result.
On went the procession amidst the enthusiastic applause
of the myriads collected to welcome the conquerors, on through
streets crowded to the roof-tops with happy faces, on to the ducal
palace, in whose great square ten thousand troops were assembled to receive the
Richard alighted from his horse at the gate of the
princely abode, on the threshold of which the municipal authorities were
gathered to receive him.
Oh! at that moment how deeply how
sincerely did he regret the loss of General Grachia, Colonel Morosino, and the
other patriots who had fallen in the fatal conflict of Ossore!
Nor less did memory recall the prophetic words of that
departed girl who had loved him so devotedly, but so unhappily; those
words which Mary-Anne, with sybilline inspiration, had uttered upon her
death-bed: "Brilliant destinies await you, Richard, All
your enduring patience, your resignation under the oppression of foul wrong,
will meet with a glorious reward. Yes for I know all: that
angel Isabella has kept no secret from me. She is a Princess, Richard; and by
your union with her, you yourself will become one of the greatest Princes in
Europe! Her father, too, shall succeed to his just rights; and then, Richard,
then how small will be the distance between yourself and the
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
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