Page:The Chartist Movement.djvu/46

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
xxxvi
THE CHARTIST MOVEMENT

talked a lot about home. After dinner he asked me if it would be possible for him to receive the Holy Communion before going into the trenches, and next morning I took him in my cart two miles away, where we were having a special celebration for chaplains. That was the last I saw of him alive. He went into the trenches for the second time in his experience (he had been in a different part of the line the week before) on last Friday. On Saturday night at 9.10 P.M., August 12, it was decided that the Sherwood Foresters should explode a mine under the German trenches. Mark was told off to stand by with his platoon. When the mine blew up, one of Mark's men was caught by the fumes driving up the shaft, and Mark rushed to his rescue, like the brave lad that he was, and in the words of the Adjutant of his battalion, "we think he in turn must have been overcome by the fumes. He fell down the shaft and was killed. The Captain of the company went down after him at once and brought up his body." … They knew that he was a friend of mine, as I had been telling the Colonel what a brilliantly clever man he was, and what distinctions he had won, so they sent for me, and the men of his battalion carried his body reverently down the trenches. We laid him to rest in a separate grave, and I took the service myself. It was truly a soldier's funeral, for, just as I said "earth to earth," all the surrounding batteries of our artillery burst forth into a tremendous roar in a fresh attack upon the German line. … He has, as the soldiers say, "gone West" in a blaze of glory. He has fought and died in the noblest of all causes, and though now perhaps we feel that such a brilliant career has been brought to an untimely end, by and by we shall realise that his sacrifice has not been in vain.

Over a year has passed away since Hovell made the supreme sacrificed and the cannon still roar round the British burial-ground amidst the ruins of the big mining village of Vermelles where he lies at rest. While north and south his victorious comrades have pushed the tide of battle farther east, the enemy's guns still rain shell round his unquiet tomb from the hitherto impregnable lines that defend the approach to Lille.

Nothing more remains save to record the birth on March 26, 1917, of a daughter, named Marjorie, to Hovell and his wife, and to give to the world the unfinished book to which he had devoted himself with such extreme energy. This work, though very different from what it would have been had he lived to complete it, may do something to keep his memory green, and to suggest, better than any words of mine can, the promise of his career. But no printed pages are needed to preserve among his comrades