Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto VII

The whole camp rung with joy; you would have thought
  That they were going to a marriage feast
(This metaphor, I think, holds good as aught,
  Since there is discord after both at least):
There was not now a luggage boy but sought
  Danger and spoil with ardour much increased;
And why? because a little — odd — old man,
Stript to his shirt, was come to lead the van.

But so it was; and every preparation
  Was made with all alacrity: the first
Detachment of three columns took its station,
  And waited but the signal's voice to burst
Upon the foe: the second's ordination
  Was also in three columns, with a thirst
For glory gaping o'er a sea of slaughter:
The third, in columns two, attack'd by water.

New batteries were erected, and was held
  A general council, in which unanimity,
That stranger to most councils, here prevail'd,
  As sometimes happens in a great extremity;
And every difficulty being dispell'd,
  Glory began to dawn with due sublimity,
While Souvaroff, determined to obtain it,
Was teaching his recruits to use the bayonet

It is an actual fact, that he, commander
  In chief, in proper person deign'd to drill
The awkward squad, and could afford to squander
  His time, a corporal's duty to fulfil:
Just as you 'd break a sucking salamander
  To swallow flame, and never take it ill:
He show'd them how to mount a ladder (which
Was not like Jacob's) or to cross a ditch.

Also he dress'd up, for the nonce, fascines
  Like men with turbans, scimitars, and dirks,
And made them charge with bayonet these machines,
  By way of lesson against actual Turks:
And when well practised in these mimic scenes,
  He judged them proper to assail the works;
At which your wise men sneer'd in phrases witty:
He made no answer; but he took the city.

Most things were in this posture on the eve
  Of the assault, and all the camp was in
A stern repose; which you would scarce conceive;
  Yet men resolved to dash through thick and thin
Are very silent when they once believe
  That all is settled: — there was little din,
For some were thinking of their home and friends,
And others of themselves and latter ends.

Suwarrow chiefly was on the alert,
  Surveying, drilling, ordering, jesting, pondering;
For the man was, we safely may assert,
  A thing to wonder at beyond most wondering;
Hero, buffoon, half-demon, and half-dirt,
  Praying, instructing, desolating, plundering;
Now Mars, now Momus; and when bent to storm
A fortress, Harlequin in uniform.

The day before the assault, while upon drill —
  For this great conqueror play'd the corporal —
Some Cossacques, hovering like hawks round a hill,
  Had met a party towards the twilight's fall,
One of whom spoke their tongue — or well or ill,
  'T was much that he was understood at all;
But whether from his voice, or speech, or manner,
They found that he had fought beneath their banner.

Whereon immediately at his request
  They brought him and his comrades to head-quarters;
Their dress was Moslem, but you might have guess'd
  That these were merely masquerading Tartars,
And that beneath each Turkish-fashion'd vest
  Lurk'd Christianity; which sometimes barters
Her inward grace for outward show, and makes
It difficult to shun some strange mistakes.

Suwarrow, who was standing in his shirt
  Before a company of Calmucks, drilling,
Exclaiming, fooling, swearing at the inert,
  And lecturing on the noble art of killing, —
For deeming human clay but common dirt,
  This great philosopher was thus instilling
His maxims, which to martial comprehension
Proved death in battle equal to a pension; —

Suwarrow, when he saw this company
  Of Cossacques and their prey, turn'd round and cast
Upon them his slow brow and piercing eye: —
  'Whence come ye?' — 'From Constantinople last,
Captives just now escaped,' was the reply.
  'What are ye?' — 'What you see us.' Briefly pass'd
This dialogue; for he who answer'd knew
To whom he spoke, and made his words but few.

'Your names?' — 'Mine 's Johnson, and my comrade 's Juan;
  The other two are women, and the third
Is neither man nor woman.' The chief threw on
  The party a slight glance, then said, 'I have heard
Your name before, the second is a new one:
  To bring the other three here was absurd:
But let that pass: — I think I have heard your name
In the Nikolaiew regiment?' — 'The same.'

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