Tour in England, Ireland, and France in The Years 1826, 1827, 1828, AND 1829.
With Remarks on The Manner and Customs of the Inhabitants and Anecdotes of Distinguished Public Characters by a German Prince (Philadelphia, 1833) pp. 156-158
July 12th, 1827
Yesterday evening I went for the first time to Vauxhall, a public garden in the style of Tivoli at Paris, but on a far grander and more brilliant scale. The illumination with thousands of lamps of the most dazzling  colours is uncommonly splendid. Especially beautiful were large bouquets of flowers hung in the trees, formed of red, blue, yellow, and violet lamps, and the leaves and stalks of green; there were also chandeliers of a gay Turkish sort of pattern of various hues, and a temple for the music, surmounted with the royal arms and crest. Several triumphal arches were not of wood, but of cast-iron, of light transparent patterns, infinitely more elegant, and quite as rich as the former. Beyond this the gardens extended with all their variety and their exhibitions, the most remarkable of which was the battle of Waterloo. They open at seven: there was an opera, rope-dancing, and at ten o'clock (to conclude) this same battle. It is curious enough, and in many scenes the deception really remarkable. An open part of the gardens is the theatre, surrounded by venerable horse-chestnuts mingled with shrubs. Between four of the former, whose foliage is almost impervious, was a 'tribune', with benches for about twelve hundred persons, reaching to the height of forty feet. Here we took our seats, not without a frightful squeeze, in which we had to give and take some hearty pushes. It was a warm and most lovely night: the moon shone extremely bright, and showed a huge red curtain, hung, at a distance of about fifty paces from us, between two gigantic trees, and painted with the arms of the United Kingdom. Behind the curtain rose the tops of the trees as far as one could see. After a moment's pause, the discharge of a cannon thundered through the seeming wood, and the fine band of the second regiment of Guards was heard in the distance. The curtain opened in the centre, was quickly drawn asunder; and we saw, as if by the light of day, the outwork of Houguemont on a gently rising ground, amid high trees. The French 'Gardes' in correct uniform now advanced out of the wood to martial music, with the bearded 'Sapeurs' at their head. They formed into line; and Napoleon on his gray horse, and dressed in his gray surtout, accompanied by several marshals, rode past them 'en revue.' A thousand voices shout 'Vive l'Empereur!'-the Emperor touches his hat, sets off at a gallop, and the troops bivouac in dense groups. A distant firing is then heard; the scene becomes more tumultuous, and the French march out. Shortly after, Wellington appears with his staff,-all very good copies of the individuals,-harangues his troops, and rides slowly off. The great original was among the spectators, and laughed heartily at his representative. The fight is begun by the 'tirailleurs;' whole columns then advance upon each other, and charge with the bayonet; the French cuirassiers charge the Scotch Grays; and as there as a thousand men and two hundred horses in action, and no spare of gunpowder, it is, for a moment, very like a real battle. The storming of Houguemont, which is set on fire by several shells, was particularly well done: the combatants were for a time hidden by the thick smoke of real fire, or only rendered partially visible by the flashes of musquetry, while the foreground was strewed with the dead and dying. As the smoke cleared off, Houguemont was seen in flames,-the English as conquerors, the French as captives: in the distance was Napoleon on horseback, and behind him his carriage-and-four hurrying across the scene. The victorious Wellington was greeted with loud cheers mingled with the thunder of the distant cannon. The ludicrous side of the exhibition was the making Napoleon race across the stage several times, pursued and fugitive, to tickle English vanity, and afford a triumph to the 'plebs' in good and bad coats. But such is the lot  of the great! The conqueror before whom the world trembled,-for whom the blood of millions was freely shed,-for whose glance or nod kings waited and watched,-is now a child's pastime, a tale of his times, vanished like a dream,-the Jupiter gone, and as it seems, Scapan only remaining. Although past midnight it was still early enough to go from the strange scene of illumination and moonlight to a splendid ball at Lady L-'s where I found a blaze of diamonds, handsome women, dainty refreshments, a luxurious supper, and a gigantic ennui; I therefore went to bed as early as five o'clock.