Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/213

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141
WELLINGTON TAKES THE COMMAND.

ments were being despatched from England without intermission, and the Duke of Wellington had arrived to take command of the troops, native and foreign, in Belgium. There was nothing left for Napoleon except to fight. In the latter end of May, the headquarters of the French army of the north was established at Avesnes, in French Flanders; while, in the apprehension of an invasion by the allied armies on that part, Laon and the Castle of Guise were put in a defensive condition. On the 12th of June Bonaparte left Paris, accompanied by Marshal Bertrand and General Drouet, and proceeded to Laon.

At this point we meet with a piece of George Cruikshank's handiwork which is curious as indicative of the spirit which pervaded England at this momentous period. I am not at present in a position to refer to a newspaper of the period; but it would appear from the sketch referred to that, on or about the very day that Napoleon left Paris to join the splendid army which six days afterwards was so disastrously routed at Waterloo, a city fête was held at the Mansion House, at which that eccentric and sturdy nationalist, Sir William Curtis, whose face and figure were a fortune to the caricaturists of the period, covered the floor of the Mansion House Tri-coloured "Eagles."with the tri-coloured eagles captured from the French in Peninsular battle-fields, while the banners of England domineered from the walls above. The exceedingly rare sketch which illustrates this incident is labelled appropriately by the artist, Opening of Sir William Curtis's Campaign against the French Colours.

Six days afterwards, the star of Napoleon Bonaparte had set for ever in the lurid and ensanguined battle clouds of Waterloo. Scarcely one month later on—that is to say, on the 15th of July, 1815—he had surrendered to Captain Maitland, of his majesty's ship Bellerophon, under circumstances which, while they reflect no discredit on the honour of that gallant officer, seem to us, so far as England was herself concerned, scarcely to have justified her subsequent treatment of the great but unfortunate emperor. With this, however, we have nothing to do. The Bellerophon on the evening of the 23rd, brought the distinguished exile within sight of the coast of