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The heavy clouds enwrapped in leaden gloom,
Grow thick with gathering snow. The sobbing wind,
In low dull angry murmurs o'er the fens,
Brushes their reedy armies, whilst the boom
Of the lone bittern, hermit of the waste,
Sounds o'er the marsh, as sounds the knell of doom.

The purple-crested mallard, from the sedge,
Whirls whirring upward, with a clarion shrill,
That bodes his quick alarm: the snow flakes fall,
Fall thick and fast: and fast and faster still,
Comes onward black-robed night: the landscape pales,
The last faint gleams of twilight die away,
A death-like stillness falls upon the fens
And all is silent, as the reign of Death.


GIBRALTAR first became ours in 1704,
when it was wrested from the Spaniards
by Admiral Rooke, who had been seat
into the Mediterranean with a fleet to
assist Charles, Archduke of Austria, in
obtaining the throne of Spain. In the
autumn of the same year the Rock was all
but retaken from us by escalade, and early
the next year the French and Spaniards
besieged it in form, but eventually retired,
after losing nearly ten thousand men from
our fire and from sickness. The enemy
attacked it again in 1726, and continued
the siege till they lost nearly three thousand

In 1779, Spain seeing England
embarrassed with a French and an American
war, seized the opportunity to have another
grapple for the Pillar of Hercules which
she had lost, and made a secret peace with
the Emperor of Morocco to induce him to
stop supplies to Gibraltar from the ports
of Tetuan and Tangiers. General Eliott,
a staunch old officer, was at that time
governor of the Rock, having with him
five thousand three hundred and eighty-two
English and Hanoverian troops, to
face the thirty-three thousand and thirty-eight
French and Spaniards already scowling
at us from the front of St. Roque.
The governor, prudent and alert, instantly
began to collect hogsheads full of earth to
strengthen the fortifications, and set to
work five hundred Jews and Genoese to
level the sand-heaps near the gardens in
the Neutral Ground, so that the enemy,
when advancing, should find no shelter
from our lower batteries. The artillery-men
in garrison being insufficient, one
hundred and eighty soldiers of the line
were selected to learn great gun practice.
On the 16th of July the Spaniards
blockaded the port with a squadron; two
seventy- fours, two frigates, five xebecs,
and a number of galleys and armed settees
also anchored in the bay off Algeziras, and
kept up a vigilant blockade. The governor
sent men along the cliff to collect shrubs
for fascines, and began some interesting
experiments with red-hot shot, which "roast
potatoes," as the men called them, proved
afterwards most efficacious against the
enemy. On the 12th of September, to
interrupt the incessant cart-loads of shot and
fascines coming to the enemy's lines, the
governor ordered the Green's Lodge, Willis,
and Queen Charlotte batteries to open fire
on the five hundred Spanish workmen who
were filling up with sand the northern
ditch of Fort St. Philip. This frightened
the custom-house men and advanced guards
out of their huts and storehouses, the
covered waggons were driven off, and the
cavalry fled to the camp in panic, but the
Spaniards were at "too great a distance,"
nearly a mile (what would the defenders
of Gibraltar have said to cannon that
carry six miles?), and the shells sank so
deep in the sand that few splinters rose to
the surface. To protect "Gib" as much
as possible from the coming bombardment,
the pavement of the north part of the
town was ploughed up, towers of
conspicuous buildings were taken down, and
traverses raised in different places to
protect the communications. The engineers,
determining to mount a gun on the very
summit of the northern front of the Rock,
the artillerymen, too impatient to wait for
a road being cut, dragged a seventy-four
pounder up the steep crag with great
difficulty and after prodigious exertions,
and saluted the enemy's forts. From this
"Rock Gun," as it was called, the men had
with glasses a bird's-eye view of the enemy's
whole lines. At daybreak on the 20th of
October, the garrison of "Gib" saw, to
their surprise, thirty-five embrasures cut
through the parapet of the Spanish lines,
the workmen having now completed three
batteries. By November provisions grew
very scarce in the garrison, mutton being
three shillings and sixpence a pound, ducks
from fourteen to eighteen shillings a couple,
and a goose, a guinea. The governor, an
abstemious man, who seldom tasted
anything but vegetables, puddings, and water,
as an experiment of what food would be
requisite lived for eight days on four ounces
of rice a day.

On the night of the 11th of November,
two men of the Walloon guards coming in
as deserters, were the next morning taken
to Willis's battery, to there describe the
enemy's works to the governor. On the