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At the beginning of our period stands Waterloo. It gave immense prestige to the name of Wellington, and as regards England added spectacular military glory to the substantial merit of having by the pressure of sea-power contributed, more perhaps than any other member of the great alliance, to Napoleon's downfall.

From Thomas Hardy's grandiose dramatic epic The Dynasts (1903—8) in which the struggle between England and France from 1802 onwards is depicted in a number of vivid saenes, we select the one concerning the ball that was held on the eve of the battle (It is also described in a famous chapter of Thackeray's Vanity Fair).

The Prince of Orange, who is mentioned in the first lines, the son of the new King of the Netherlands, was in command of the vanguard of the combined Anglo-Dutch army with headquarters near Braine-le-Comte. The Prussians under Blücher stood near Charleroi. Wellington would have preferred to hold his hand, covering the Netherlands, till the Russians and Austrians were ready to cross the Rhine, but Napoleon, in an attempt to defeat his enemies separately, attacked, and his first blow was directed against the Prussians.

The scène which we quote shows us Wellington being apprised of the fact and deciding to bring his main force into the battle.


A June midnight at the Duke and Duchess of Richmond's. Band of stringed instruments in the background. The room is crowded with a brilliant assemblage of more than two

1. stringed [strirjd] instruments: harp, violin, etc. Contrast: wind-instruments, such as flute, organ, etc.

England in the 19* Cent. I.