Tag Archives: Napoleon

18 June: The Battlefield

The Battle-Field


 They dropped like flakes, they dropped like stars,
    Like petals from a rose,
When suddenly across the June
    A wind with fingers goes.
 

They perished in the seamless grass, —
    No eye could find the place;
But God on his repealless list
    Can summon every face.”

(from “Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series)

I’m not sure how literally to take these two stanzas from Emily Dickinson, I have no clue what particular battle, if any, she had in mind, but this is Waterloo Day, when great horse-backed armies clashed and Napoleon was finally beaten.

The British troops that day were led by the Duke of Wellington who later became the honorary Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and had his official residence at Walmer Castle in Kent. Like its nearby companion, Deal Castle, it was built by Henry VIII to fortify a vulnerable stretch of the English Channel coastline.

It is the chapel of Deal Castle that we see here. This was built in the 1920s for the Captain of Deal, another honorary position then held by another military commander, General Sir John French, the First Earl of Ypres who commanded the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War.

The chapel is a memorial to all who have died in armed conflict. The petals on the altar are from British Legion poppies, which represent those who died in the First World War and conflict since then.

On this summer’s day, let us pause and pray for peace; for all those who are fighting around the world, for those injured in battle and for bereaved families.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, PLaces, poetry, Summer

18 November: The Field of Waterloo, I.

The chapel at Deal Castle, now a memorial to all who fell in conflict.The Duke of Wellington had his official residence as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports nearby at Walmer Castle, Kent.

Sir Walter Scott wrote a long poem on the Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815. This extract is from near the end of the epic and is addressed to the Duke of Wellington, Commander of British forces. Scott justifies Wellington’s gallantry as always ‘for public weal’. He has a point when Napoleon’s imperial ambitions are considered. But as we shall see tomorrow, there was and still is another side to conflict; death, injury, bereavement, loss. Hardly Heaven’s decree.


For not a people’s just acclaim,
Not the full hail of Europe’s fame,
Thy Prince’s smiles, the State’s decree,
The ducal rank, the gartered knee,
Not these such pure delight afford
As that, when hanging up thy sword,
Well may’st thou think, “This honest steel
Was ever drawn for public weal;
And, such was rightful Heaven’s decree,
Ne’er sheathed unless with victory!”

(from “Some Poems” by Sir Walter Scott)

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, PLaces, poetry

1 April, Maundy Thursday: Slavery and the Eucharist: two 18th Century abolitionists.

Slave ship from a Methodist history book

In the years leading to the French Revolution of 1789 there were abolitionists striving to find a way to free the slaves in France’s American and Caribbean colonies and terminate the slave trade. Two such were Jacques Pierre Brissot and the Swiss pastor Benjamin Sigismond Frossard.

Before all that the two men met in Lyon, where Frossard was a pastor and member of academic societies. Brissot was edified by Frossard’s preaching, and at the Lord’s Supper was struck by the realisation that ‘it was indeed the meal and the sign of equality’.

Frossard himself referred to the liturgy as a bridge between slave and master where all people came to profess that they are equal.

Brissot was guillotined in 1793, as the revolution turned in upon itself, and Frossard returned to Switzerland. Although the National Assembly in Paris abolished slavery, Napoleon reinstated the practice, which had never gone away because the Assembly was unable to enforce its decrees across the Atlantic.

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

James 2:1-4

The source for this post is FROSSARD AND THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY: A MORAL DILEMMA by Barbara Saunderson.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission, PLaces