Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/187

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

latest breath. Such were the gallant spirits which the bigotry of Lewis had sent to recruit, in the time of his utmost need, the armies of his deadliest enemies. The example was not lost. The grenades fell thick. The assailants mounted by hundreds. The Irish gave way and ran towards the bridge. There the press was so great that some of the fugitives were crushed to death in the narrow passage, and others were forced over the parapets into the waters which roared among the mill wheels below. In a few hours Ginkell had made himself master of the English quarter of Athlone; and this success had cost him only twenty men killed and forty wounded.[1]

But his work was only begun. Between him and the Irish town the Shannon ran fiercely. The bridge was so narrow that a few resolute men might keep it against an army. The mills which stood on it were strongly guarded; and it was commanded by the guns of the castle. That part of the Connaught shore where the river was fordable was defended by works, which the Lord Lieutenant had, in spite of the murmurs of a powerful party, forced Saint Ruth to entrust to the care of Maxwell. Maxwell had come back from France a more unpopular man than he had been when he went thither. It was rumoured that he had, at Versailles, spoken opprobriously of the Irish nation; and he had, on this account, been, only a few days before, publicly affronted by Sarsfield.[2] On the twenty-first of June the English were busied in flinging up batteries along the Leinster bank. On the twenty-second, soon after dawn, the cannonade

  1. Diary of the Siege of Athlone, by an Engineer of the Army, a Witness of the Action, licensed July 11, 1691; Story's Continuation; London Gazette, July 2, 1691; Fumeron to Louvois, June 28/July 8, 1691. The account of this attack in the Life of James, ii. 453, is an absurd romance. It does not appear to have been taken from the King's original Memoirs.
  2. Macariæ Excidium. Here again I think that I see clear proof that the English version of this curious work is only a bad translation from the Latin. The English merely says: "Lysander," — Sarsfield, — "accused him, a few days before, in the general's presence," without intimating what the accusation was. The Latin original runs thus: "Acriter Lysander, paucos ante dies, coram præfecto copiarum illi exprobraverat nescio quid, quod in aula Syriaca in Cypriorum opprobrium effutivisse dicebatur." The English translator has, by omitting the most important words, and by using the aorist instead of the preterpluperfect tense, made the whole passage unmeaning.