John Wall Callcott
(1766 - 1821)

Callcott : Waterloo : illustration

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Few contemporaries would have agreed with Callcott that Scott's poem on the battle of Waterloo was worth setting. Written with earnest intentions (the profits were donated for the relief of the widows and orphans of those killed in the battle) the poem attracted much derision, summed up in Lord Erskine's epigram
On Waterloo's ensanguined plain
Lie tens of thousands of the slain,
But none, by sabre or by shot,
Fell half as flat as Walter Scott.
Lyrics: Sir Walter Scott

Farewell sad field, whose blighted face
Wears desolation's with'ring trace;
Long shall thy memory retain
Thy shattered huts, thy trampled grain;
With ev'ry mark of martial wrong
That scathes thy towers, fair Hougoumont.
Yet tho' thy garden's green arcade
The marksman's fatal spot was made,
Tho' on the shattered beeches fell
The blended rage of shot and shell,
Tho' from thy blackened portals torn
Their fall the blighted fruit-trees mourn,
Say, has not havoc bought a name
Immortal in the rolls of fame?
Yes! Agincourt may be forgot,
And Cressy be an unknown spot,
And Blenheim's name be new;
But still in story and in song
Through many an age remembered long,
Shall live the towers of Hougoumont
And the fields of Waterloo.