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THE HUSSAR.

CHAPTER I.

My birth, parentage, and early adventures.

My name is Norbertus Landsheit, my Christian name being familiarly pronounced in my own country, Norbert. I was born on the 4th of November, 1775, at a place called St. Dennis, a village in the Bishopric of Cologne, not far from Crefeldt. My origin was at least respectable, and my prospects were at one time good; for my father was an officer of gendarmes, in the service of Maximilian the Second, and my mother, a native of Prussian Silesia, came from an honourable stock. But the profession of a soldier is not very lucrative anywhere, and least of all in the Bishopric of Cologne. Wherefore my father was prevailed upon soon after my birth to quit the army, and to establish himself as a distiller, and the keeper of a creditable hotel

the village where I first saw the light. His business proving, on the whole, a profitable one, and I being his only son, my father determined to make of me a Lutheran clergyman, and in order to qualify me for the office, he bestowed upon me as good an education as the state of the country and his own circumstances would permit. From him and from my mother I learned to read and write as well as to repeat my catechism, and to know something of scripture history; while the curate of the parish taught me the rudiments of Latin, and encouraged me to aspire' after still higher attainments. But long before I had made any proficiency in scholastic lore, a calamity overtook both my mother and myself, which was to her the beginning of many sorrows, and to me proved irremediable. I was barely seven years old when my father died, leaving his son and his twofold occupation, to be managed as she best could, by his widow.

My father and mother had been sincerely attached to one another, and her grief at his loss was in consequence excessive; yet being a strong-minded woman, she did not permit it to interfere with the steady discharge of the duties which she owed to herself and her family. She continued to carry on both the distillery and the hotel, as had been done during his lifetime, and my education was not for a moment interrupted. On the contrary, finding that St. Dennis could not supply such tuition as I came by this time to require, she sent me to Kempen, where, till I attained to my seventeenth year, I resided as a pupil, in a respectable academy.

Such was my condition when those extraordinary events befell, which produced throughout Europe other and more violent revolutions than the conversion of a parson in embryo into a hussar. The French people, victorious at home over religion, law, order, and humanity, burst, like a river that has broken down its banks, across their own frontier, and carried, wherever they appeared, desolation and misery into the districts which they came avowedly to set free. One of their armies, under the command of General Coustine, after driving the Austrians back upon the Rhine, advanced, in the summer of 1792, into our province, where they pursued the system which was acted upon everywhere else, in reference as well to the persons as to the property of the inhabitants. Not content to live at free quarters, to levy contributions of money, grain, horses, and other material, they brought the conscription into active play among the young men of the country; compelling all between the ages of sixteen and forty to take up arms and serve under the republican banner. Now, my mother had no particular fancy that I should become a soldier under any circumstances, and least of all, that I should serve France. She therefore took time by the fore-lock, and while the invaders were yet at a distance, packed me off to one of her brothers, who resided in Dusseldorf.

I arrived in Dusseldorf some time in June, and was kindly received by my uncle. He put me to school, and treated me in every respect as if I had been his ownindeed I should have been perfectly happy under his care, but for the strange desire which, in common with other lads of my standing, I experienced to see something of the French. For we were told from day to day of their inroads; we saw the Bavarian garrison march out and an Austrian arrive in its room; and not knowing what war was, we longed to be eye-witnesses of scenes, con. cerning which we had read, and heard others speak with the deepest interest. Not that I harboured at that time the smallest wish to wield a sword or wear a uniform. Mine was a mere boyish curiosity, which was perhaps the more whetted in consequence of the rebukes which it drew forth from older and wiser men. But this is not worth dwelling upon, so I will pass it by.

At the period to which I am now referring, Dusseldorf was crowded with French emigrants. Multitudes of all ranks, from the Duke de Broglie down to the meanest ar. tisan, had taken refuge there, and as each brought with him a certain supply of cash, money was, for a while, abundant in the city, and all fared well

. By degrees, however, the resources of the less wealthy began to fail, and then might be seen the devoted generosity with which their richer neighbours--men of family and high name stepped forward to the relief of their necessities. The Duke de Broglie in particular seemed to regard himself

as nothing more than a trustee for his suffering country. men—for whose benefit he hired a large hotel, with all its accompaniments of cooks, waiters, and other attendants, and caused a dinner to be daily provided there at his own expense for not fewer than four hundred persons. Such munificence could not of course be displayed without utterly draining, in a very short time, the resources of him who indulged in it. The Duke de Broglie became in a few months almost penniless, and was forced to seek a supply by despatching his son in disguise through the enemy's lines into the heart of France. The young man's first expedition proved to be eminently successful. His father's tenants paid their rents cheerfully, and he returned with the proceeds unobserved to Dusseldorf but the supply thus procured went as other moneys had gone, and a second expedition was decided upon. Alas! it was a rash act, however dictated by the noblest feelings —and led to results the most disastrous. The young Duke being discovered, was put to death; and his un. timely fate was mourned in every house in Dusseldorf, with as much sincerity as if each had lost a relative.

I have said, that not long after my arrival the Bavarian garrison marched out, and a body of Austrians, both horse and foot, reached Dusseldorf. Now, as the Bava. rians had taken neither side in the strife, and the Austrians were principals in opposing the French, this movement naturally convinced us that the period could not in all probability be distant, when we should see something of the invaders. Each new day, moreover, brought intelli. gence of their successes, which more and more prepared us to receive a visit. The Austrians were falling back; they had crossed the Rhine, and it was very doubtful whether, even with that obstacle in their front, the enemy would be arrested. At last, late in the autumn-I think somewhere in the beginning of October-it was an. nounced that the French were approaching. In common with others, I hurried to the ramparts, and saw, sure enough, with a glass, three or four heavy columns in movement on the opposite side of the river-of which a portion established themselves in rear of some houses that crowned the bank, within less than half cannon-shot of the town.

It was not, however among us civilians alone that a visit from General Coustine's army had for some time been anticipated. The military authorities had caused the flying bridge, which connects the two banks of the Rhine, to be hauled in. Far and near, above and below the town, every vessel and boat was secured, while posts were established here and there, in order to provide against the possibility of some sudden dash, such as might give to the enemy a moment's command of the river. Moreover, as soon as the French columns showed themselves in rear of the houses opposite, there went forth an order to rip up all the pavements, a strict observance of which converted a clean and well-regulated town, in the course of four-and-twenty hours, into one huge puddle. For no suoner were the stones removed than straw, mud, horse.dung, and every other filthy substance was accumulated in the streets, with the view, as I afterwards found, of rendering the shells which were expected to fall among us, comparatively innocuous. Un. fortunately, however, there were weak points in Dusseldorf, which no providence, on the part of the governor, could defend. In the heart of the town stood a Mewsa large stable-yard-accessible by one gate only, and surrounded by buildings capable of containing a brigade of horse, with the forage necessary for their maintenance. That enormous pile was, at this juncture, full of combustibles, and a regiment of Austrian dragoons had established in it their quarters. It was found impossible to protect the Mews from shot, while numerous storehouses, wharfs, and other places of commerce, were like. wise exposed. Still the distance between us and the enemy's position was considerable, and something it was

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