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Title: Camps, Quarters, and Casual Places
Author: Forbes, Archibald, 1838-1900
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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CAMPS, QUARTERS AND CASUAL PLACES

BY ARCHIBALD FORBES, LL.D.



NOTE

My obligations for permission to incorporate some of the articles in
this volume are due to Messrs. George Routledge and Sons, Mr. James
Knowles of the _Nineteenth Century_, Mr. Percy Bunting of the
_Contemporary Review_, and the Proprietor of _McClure's Magazine_.

LONDON, _June_ 1896.



CONTENTS


1. MATRIMONY UNDER FIRE

2. REVERENCING THE GOLDEN FEET

3. GERMAN WAR PRAYERS

4. MISS PRIEST'S BRIDECAKE

5. A VERSION OF BALACLAVA

6. HOW I "SAVED FRANCE"

7. CHRISTMAS IN A CAVALRY REGIMENT

8. THE MYSTERY OF MONSIEUR REGNIER

9. RAILWAY LIZZ

10. MY NATIVE SALMON RIVER

11. THE CAWNPORE OF TO-DAY

12. BISMARCK BEFORE AND DURING THE FRANCO-GERMAN WAR

13. THE INVERNESS "CHARACTER" FAIR

14. THE WARFARE OF THE FUTURE

15. GEORGE MARTELL'S BANDOBAST

16. THE LUCKNOW OF TO-DAY

17. THE MILITARY COURAGE OF ROYALTY

18. PARADE OF THE COMMISSIONAIRES

19. THE INNER HISTORY OF THE WATERLOO CAMPAIGN



MATRIMONY UNDER FIRE


The interval between the declaration of the Franco-German war of
1870-71, and the "military promenade," at which the poor Prince
Imperial received his "baptism of fire," was a pleasant, lazy time at
Saarbrücken; to which pretty frontier town I had early betaken myself,
in the anticipation, which proved well founded, that the tide of war
would flow that way first. What a pity it is that all war cannot be
like this early phase of it, of which I speak! It was playing at
warfare, with just enough of the grim reality cropping up occasionally,
to give the zest which the reckless Frenchwoman declared was added to a
pleasure by its being also a sin. The officers of the
Hohenzollerns--our only infantry regiment in garrison--drank their beer
placidly under the lime-tree in the market-place, as their men smoked
drowsily, lying among the straw behind the stacked arms ready for use
at a moment's notice. The infantry patrol skirted the frontier line
every morning in the gray dawn, occasionally exchanging with little
result a few shots with the French outposts on the Spicheren or down in
the valley bounded by the Schönecken wood. The Uhlans, their piebald
lance-pennants fluttering in the wind, cantered leisurely round the
crests of the little knolls which formed the vedette posts, despising
mightily the straggling chassepot bullets which were pitched at them
from time to time in a desultory way; but which, desultory as they
were, now and then brought lance-pennant and its bearer to the
ground--an occurrence invariably followed by a little spurt of lively
hostility.

I had my quarters at the Rheinischer Hof, a right comfortable hotel on
the St. Johann side of the Saar, where most of the Hohenzollern
officers frequented the _table d'hôte_ and where quaint little Max, the
drollest imp of a waiter imaginable, and pretty Fraülein Sophie the
landlord's niece, did all that in them lay to contribute to the
pleasantness and comfort of the house. Not a few pleasant evenings did
I spend at the table of the long dining-room, with the close-cropped
red head of silent and genial Hauptmann von Krehl looming large over
the great ice-pail, with its _chevaux de frise_ of long-necked
Niersteiner bottles--the worthy Hauptmann supported by blithe
Lieutenant von Klipphausen, ever ready with the _Wacht am Rhein_;
quaint Dr. Diestelkamp, brimful of recollections of "six-and-sixty" and
as ready to amputate your leg as to crack a joke or clink a glass; gay
young Adjutant von Zülow--he who one day brought in a prisoner from the
foreposts a red-legged Frenchman across the pommel of his saddle; and
many other good fellows, over most of whom the turf of the Spicheren,
or the brown earth of the Gravelotte plain, now lies lightly.

But although the Rheinischer Hof associates itself in my mind with many
memories, half-pleasant, half-sad, it was not the most accustomed haunt
of the casuals in Saarbrücken, including myself. Of the waifs and
strays which the war had drifted down to the pretty frontier town the
great rendezvous was the Hôtel Hagen, at the bend of the turn leading
from the bridge up to the railway station. The Hagen was a
free-and-easy place compared with the Rheinischer, and among its
inmates there was no one who could sing a better song than manly
George--type of the Briton at whom foreigners stare--who, ignorant of a
word of their language, wholly unprovided with any authorisation save
the passport signed "Salisbury," and having not quite so much business
at the seat of war as he might have at the bottom of a coal-mine,
gravitates into danger with inevitable certainty, and stumbles through
all manner of difficulties and bothers by reason of a serene
good-humour that nothing can ruffle and a cool resolution before which
every obstacle fades away. Was there ever a more compositely polyglot
cosmopolitan than poor young de Liefde--half Dutchman, half German by
birth, an Englishman by adoption, a Frenchman in temperament, speaking
with equal fluency the language of all four countries, and an
unconsidered trifle of some half-dozen European languages besides? Then
there was the English student from Bonn, who had come down to the front
accompanied by a terrible brute of a dog, vast, shaggy, self-willed,
and dirty; an animal which, so to speak, owned his owner, and was so
much the horror and disgust of everybody that on account of him the
company of his master--one of the pleasantest fellows alive--was the
source of general apprehension. There was young Silberer the many-sided
and eccentric, an Austrian nobleman, a Vienna feuilletonist and
correspondent, a rowing man, a gourmet, ever thinking of his stomach
and yet prepared for all the roughness of the campaign--warm-hearted,
passionate, narrow-minded, capable of sleeping for twenty-three out of
the twenty-four hours, and the wearer of a Scotch cap. There was
Küster, a German journalist with an address somewhere in the Downham
Road; and Duff, a Fellow of ---- College, the strangest mixture of
nervousness and cool courage I ever met.

We were a kind of happy family at the Hagen; the tone of the coterie
was that of the easiest intimacy into which every newcomer slid quite
naturally. Thus when on the 31st July there was a somewhat sensational
arrival, the stolid landlord had not turned the gas on in the empty
saal before everybody knew and sympathised with the errand of the
strangers. The party consisted of a plump little girl of about eighteen
with a bonny round face and fine frank eyes; her sister who was some
years older; and a brother, the eldest of the three. They had come from
Silesia on rather a strange tryst. Little Minna Vogt had for her
_Bräutigam_ a young Feldwebel of the second battalion of the
Hohenzollerns, a native of Saarlouis. The battalion quartered there was
under orders to join its first battalion at Saarbrücken, and young
Eckenstein had written to his betrothed to come and meet him there,
that the marriage-knot might be tied before he should go on a campaign
from which he might not return. The arrangement was certainly a
charming one; we should have a wedding in the Hagen! There was no
nonsense about our young _Braut_. She told me the little story at
supper on the night of her arrival in the most matter-of-fact way
possible, drank her two glasses of red wine, and went off serenely to
bed with a dainty lisping _Schlafen Sie wohl!_

While Minna was between the sheets in the pleasant chamber in the Hagen
her lover was lying in bivouac some fifteen miles away. In the
afternoon of the next day his battalion approached Saarbrücken and
bivouacked about two miles from the town. Of course we all went out to
welcome it; some bearing peace-offerings of cigars, others the
drink-offering of potent Schnapps. The Vogt family were left the sole
inmates of the Hagen, delicacy preventing their accompanying us. The
German journalist, however, had a commission to find out young
Eckenstein and tell him of the bliss that awaited him two short miles
away. Right hearty fellows were the officers of the second
battalion--from the grizzled Oberst down to the smooth-faced junior
lieutenant; and the men who had been marching and bivouacking for a
fortnight looked as fresh as if they had not travelled five miles.
Küster soon found the young Feldwebel; and the Hauptmann of his company
when he heard the state of the case, smiled a grim but kindly smile,
and gave him leave for two days with the proviso, that if any hostile
action should be taken in the interval he should rejoin the colours
immediately and without notice. "No fear of that!" was Eckenstein's
reply with a significant down glance at his sword; and then, after a
cheery "good-night" to the hardy bivouackers, we visitors started in
triumph on our return to the Hagen, the young Feldwebel in our midst It
was good to see the unrestraint with which Minna--she of the apple face
and frank eyes--threw herself round the neck of her betrothed as she
met him on the steps of the Hagen, and his modest manly blush as he
returned the embrace. Ye gods! did not we make a night of it! Stolid
Hagen came out of his shell for once, and swore, _Donner Wetter_ that
he would give us a supper we should remember; and he kept his word. The
good old pastor of the snow-white hair and withered cheeks--he had been
engaged to perform the ceremony of the morrow--we voted into the chair
whether he would or not; and on his right sat Minna and Eckenstein,
their arms interlacing and whispering soft speeches which were not for
our ears. The table was covered with bottles of Blume de Saar, the
champagne peculiar of the Hagen; and the speed with which the full
bottles were converted into "dead marines" was a caution to
teetotallers. Then de Liefde the polyglot gave the health of the happy
couple in a felicitous but composite speech, in which half a dozen
languages were impartially intermixed so that all might understand at
least a portion. George the jolly insisted in leading off the honours
with a truly British "three times three;" and that horrible dog of
Hyndman's gave the time, like a beast as he was, with stentorian
barkings. Then Minna and her sister retired, followed by Herr Pastor;
and after a considerable number of more bottles of Blume de Saar had
met their fate we formed a procession and escorted the happy Eckenstein
to the Rheinischer Hof where he was to sleep.

Next morning by eleven, we had all reassembled in the second saal of
the Hagen. In the great room the marriage-breakfast was laid out, and
in the kitchen Hagen and his Frau were up to their eyes in mystic
culinary operations. Minna looked like a rosebud in her pretty
low-necked blue dress, and the pastor in his cassock helped to the
diversity of colour. We had done shaking hands with the bride and
bridegroom after the ceremony, and were sitting down to the marriage
feast, when young Eckenstein started and made three strides to the open
window. His accustomed ear had caught a sound which none of us had
heard. It was the sharp peremptory note of the drum beating the alarm.
As it came nearer and could no longer be mistaken, the bright colour
went out from poor Minna's cheek and she clung with a brave touching
silence to her sister. In two minutes more Eckenstein had his helmet on
his head and his sword buckled on, and then he turned to say farewell
to his girl ere he left her for the battle. The parting was silent and
brief; but the faces of the two were more eloquent than words. Poor
Minna sat down by the window straining her eyes as Eckenstein, running
at speed, went his way to the rendezvous.

When I got up to the Bellevue the French were streaming in overwhelming
force down the slope of the Spicheren into the intervening valley. It
was a beautiful sight; but I am not going to describe it here. Ere an
hour was over the shells and chassepôt bullets were sweeping across the
Exercise Platz, and it was no longer a safe spot for a non-combatant
like myself. Before I got back into the Hagen after paying my bill at
the Rheinischer and fetching away my knapsack, the French guns were on
the Exercise Platz. I heard for the first time the angry screech of the
mitrailleuse and saw the hailstorm of its bullets spattering on the
pavement of the bridge. Somehow or other the whole of our little
coterie had found their way into the Hagen; by a sort of common
impulse, I imagine. The landlady was already in hysterics; the Vogt
girls were pale but plucky. Presently the shells began to fly. The
Prussians had a gun or two on the railway esplanade above us, the fire
of which the French began to return fiercely. Every shell that fell
short tumbled in or about the Hagen; and a company of the Hohenzollerns
was drawn up in the street in front of it, in trying to dislodge which
the French fire could not well miss the Hagen and the houses opposite.
A shell burst in the back-yard and the landlady fainted. Another came
crashing in through a first-floor window, and, bursting, knocked
several bedrooms into one. Then we thought it time to get the women
down into the cellar--rather a risky undertaking since the door of it
was in the backyard. However, we got them all down in safety and came
up into the second saal to watch the course of events. Hagen gave a
fearful groan as a shell broke into the kitchen behind us, and,
bursting in the centre of the stove, sent his _chefs-d'oeuvre_ of
cookery sputtering in all directions. He gave a still deeper groan as
another shell crashed into the principal dining-room and knocked the
long table, laid out as it was for the marriage-feast, into a chaos of
splinters, tablecloth, and knives and forks. The Restauration Küche on
the other side was in flames, so was the stable of the hotel to the
left rear. In this pleasing situation of affairs George produced a pack
of cards and coolly proposed a game of whist. Küster, de Liefde, and
Hyndman joined him; and the game proceeded amidst the crashing of the
projectiles. Silberer and myself took counsel together and agreed that
the occupation of the town by the French was only a question of a few
hours at latest. We were both correspondents; and although the French
would do us no harm our communications with our journals would
inevitably be stopped--a serious contingency to contemplate at the
beginning of a campaign. We both agreed that evacuation of the Hagen
was imperative; but then, how to get out? The only way was up the
esplanade to the railway station, and upon it the French shells were
falling and bursting in numbers very trying to the nerves. However,
there was nothing for it but to make a rush through the fire; and
saying good-bye to the whist-players we sallied forth. To my disgust I
found that Silberer positively refused to make a rush of it. Although
an Austrian all his sympathies were Prussian, and he had the utmost
contempt for the French. In his broken language his invariable
appellation for them was "God-damned Hundsöhne!" and he would not run
before them at any price. I would have run right gladly at top-speed;
but I did not like to run when another man walked, and so he made me
saunter at the rate of two miles an hour till we got under shelter.
After a hot walk of several miles, we reached the Hôtel Till in the
village of Duttweiler. After all the French, although they might have
done so, did not occupy Saarbrücken; and towards evening our friends
came dropping into the Hôtel Till, singly or in pairs. Küster and
George brought the Vogt sisters out in a waggon--it was surprising to
see the coolness and composure of the girls. By nightfall we were all
reunited, except one unfortunate fellow who had been slightly wounded
and whom a Saarbrücken doctor had kindly received into his house.

On the 6th August came the Prussian repossession of Saarbrücken and the
desperate storm of the Spicheren. The 40th was the regiment to which
was assigned the place of honour in the preliminary recapture of the
Exercise Platz height. Kameke rode up the winding road to the Bellevue;
then came the march across the broad valley and after much bloodshed
the final storm of the Spicheren, in which the 40th occupied about the
left centre of the Prussian advance. Three times did the blue wave
surge up the green steep, to be beaten back three times by the terrible
blast of fire that crashed down upon it from above. Yet a fourth time
it clambered up again, and this time it lipped the brink and poured
over the intrenchment at the top. But I am not describing the battle.

When it was over or at least when it had drifted away across the
farther plateau, I followed on in the broad wake of dying and dead
which the advance had left. The familiar faces of the Hohenzollerns
were all around me; but either still in death or writhing in the
torture of wounds. About the centre of the valley lay the genial
Hauptmann von Krehl, more silent than ever now, for a bullet had gone
right through that red head of his and he would never more quaff of the
Niersteiner; neither would Lieutenant von Klipphausen ever again stir
the blood of the sons of the Fatherland with the _Wacht am Rhein_; he
lay dead close by the first spur of the slope--what of him at least a
bursting shell had left. On a little flat half up sat quaint Dr.
Diestelkamp, like Mark Tapley jolly under difficulties; by his side lay
a man who had just bled to death as the good doctor explained to me.
While he had been applying the tourniquet under a hot fire his right
arm had been broken; and before he could pull himself up and go to the
rear another bullet had found its billet in his thigh. There the little
man sat, contentedly smoking till somebody would be good enough to come
and take him away. Von Zülow too--he of the gay laugh and sprightly
countenance--was on his back a little higher up, with a bullet through
the chest. I heard the ominous sound of the escaping air as I raised
him to give him a drink from my flask. What needs it to become diffuse
as to the terrible sights which that steep and the plateau above it
presented on this beautiful summer evening? It was farther to the
right, in ground more broken with gullies and ravines, that the second
battalion of the Hohenzollerns had gone up; and I wandered along there
among the carnage eking out the contents of my flask as far as I could,
and when the wounded had exhausted the brandy in it filling it up with
water and still toiling on in a task that seemed endless. At last, in a
sitting posture, his back against a hawthorn tree in one of the grassy
ravines, I saw one whom I thought I recognised. "Eckenstein!" I cried
as I ran forward; for the posture was so natural that I could not but
think he was alive. Alas! no answer came; the gallant young Feldwebel
was dead, shot through the throat. He had not been killed outright by
the fatal bullet; the track was apparent by the blood on the grass
along which he had crawled to the hawthorn tree against which I found
him. His head had fallen forward on his chest and his right hand was
pressed against his left breast. I saw something white in the hollow of
the hand and easily moved the arm for he was yet warm; it was the
photograph of the little girl he had married but three short days
before. The frank eyes looked up at me with a merry unconsciousness;
and the face of the photograph was spotted with the life-blood of the
young soldier.

I sent the death-token to Saarlouis by post to the young widow. I never
knew whether she received it, for all the address I had was Saarlouis.
Eckenstein I saw buried with two officers in a soldier's grave under
the hawthorn. Any one taking the ascent up the fourth ravine
Forbach-ward from the bluff of the Spicheren, may easily find it about
halfway up. It may be recognised by the wooden cross bearing the rude
inscription: "Hier ruhen in Gott 2 Officiere, 1 Feldwebel, 40ste
Hohenzol. Fus. Regt."



REVERENCING THE GOLDEN FEET

1879


By Christmas 1878 the winter had brought to a temporary standstill the
operations of the British troops engaged in the first Afghan campaign,
and I took the opportunity of this inaction to make a journey into
Native Burmah, the condition of which seemed thus early to portend the
interest which almost immediately after converged upon it, because of
King Thebau's wholesale slaughter of his relatives. Reaching Mandalay,
the capital of Native Burmah, in the beginning of February 1879, I
immediately set about compassing an interview with the young king. Both
Mr. Shaw, who was our Resident at Mandalay at the time of my visit, and
Dr. Clement Williams whose kindly services I found so useful, are now
dead, and many changes have occurred since the episode described below;
but no description, so far as I am aware, has appeared of any visit of
courtesy and curiosity to the Court of King Thebau of a later date than
that made by myself at the date specified. One of my principal objects
in visiting Mandalay, or, in Burmese phrase, of "coming to the Golden
Feet," was to see the King of Burmah in his royal state in the Presence
Chamber of the Palace. Certain difficulties stood in the way of the
accomplishment of this object. I had but a few days to spend in
Mandalay. With the approval of Mr. Shaw, the British Resident, I
determined to pursue an informal course of action, and with this intent
I enlisted the good offices of an English gentleman resident in
Mandalay, who had intimate relations with the Ministers and the Court.

This gentleman, Dr. Williams, was good enough to help me with zeal and
address. The line of strategy to adopt was to interest in my cause one
of the principal Ministers. Of these there were four, who constituted
the _Hlwot-dau_, or High Court and Council of the Monarchy. These
"Woonghys" or "Menghyis," as they were more commonly called--"Menghyi,"
meaning "Great Prince"--were of equal rank; but the senior Minister,
the Yenangyoung Menghyi, who had precedence, was then in confinement,
and, indeed, a decree of degradation had gone forth against him.
Obviously he was of no use; but a more influential man than he ever
was, and having the additional advantages of being at liberty, in power
and in favour, was the "Kingwoon Menghyi." He was in effect the Prime
Minister of the King of Burmah. His position was roughly equivalent to
that of Bismarck in Germany, or of Gortschakoff in Russia, since, in
addition to his internal influence, he had the chief direction of
foreign affairs. Now this "Kingwoon Menghyi" had for a day or two been
relaxing from the cares of State. Partly for his own pleasure, partly
by way of example, he had laid out a beautiful garden on the low ground
near the river. Within this garden he had the intention to build
himself a suburban residence, which meanwhile was represented by a
summer pavilion of teak and bamboo. He was a liberal-minded man, and it
was a satisfaction to him that the shady walks and pleasant rose-groves
of this garden should be enjoyed by the people of Mandalay. He was a
reformer, this "Kingwoon Menghyi," and believed in the humanising
effect of free access to the charms of nature. His garden laid out and
his pavilion finished, he was celebrating the event by a series of
_fêtes._ He was "at home" in his pavilion to everybody; bands of music
played all day long and day after day, in the kiosks, among the young
palm trees and the rosebushes. Mandalay, high and low, made holiday in
the mazy walks of his garden and in an improvised theatre, wherein an
interminable _pooey,_ or Burmese drama, was being enacted before
ever-varying and constantly appreciative audiences. Dr. Williams opined
that it would conduce to the success of my object that we should call
upon the Minister at his garden-house and request him to use his good
offices in my behalf.

It was near noon when we reached the entrance to the garden. Merry but
orderly sightseers thronged its alleys, and stared with wondering
admiration at a rather attenuated jet of water which rose into the
clear air some thirty feet above a rockwork fountain in the centre.
Dignitaries strolled about under the stemless umbrellas like huge
shields, with which assiduous attendants protected them from the sun;
and were followed by posses of retainers, who prostrated themselves
whenever their masters halted or looked round. Ladies in white jackets
and trailing silk skirts of vivid hue were taking a leisurely airing,
each with her demure maid behind her carrying the lacquer-ware box of
betel-nut. As often as not the fair ones were blowing copious clouds
from huge reed-like cheroots. Sounds of shrill music were heard in the
distance. Walking up the central alley between the rows of palms and
the hedges of roses, we found in the veranda a mixed crowd of laymen
and priests, the latter distinguishable by their shaved heads and
yellow robes. The Minister was just finishing his morning's work of
distributing offerings to the latter, in commemoration of the opening
of his gardens. In response to a message, he at once sent to desire
that we should come to him. The great "shoe-question," the _quaestio
vexata_ between British officialism and Burmah officialism, did not
trouble me. I had no official position; I wanted to gain an object. I
have a respect for the honour of my country, but I could not bring
myself to realise that the national honour centres in my shoes. So I
parted with them at the top of the steps leading up into the Minister's
pavilion, and walking on what is known as my "stocking-feet," and
feeling rather shuffling and shabby accordingly, was ushered through a
throng of prostrate dependents into the presence of the Menghyi. He
came forward frankly and cordially, shook hands with a hearty smile
with Dr. Williams and myself, and beckoned us into an inner alcove,
carpeted with rich rugs and panelled with mirrors. Placing himself in a
half-sitting, half-kneeling attitude which did not expose his feet, he
beckoned to us to get down also. I own to having experienced extreme
difficulty in keeping my feet out of sight, which was a point _de
rigueur_; but his Excellency was not censorious. There was with him a
secretary who had resided several years in Europe, and who spoke
fluently English, French, and Italian. This gentleman knew London
thoroughly, and was perfectly familiar both with the name of the _Daily
News_ and of myself. He introduced me formally to his Excellency, who,
I ought to have mentioned, was the head of the Burmese Embassy which
had visited Europe a few years previously. That his Excellency had some
sort of knowledge of the political character of the _Daily News_ was
obvious from the circumstance that when its name was mentioned he
nodded and exclaimed, "Ah! ah! Gladstone, Bright!" in tones of manifest
approval, which was no doubt accounted for by the fact that he himself
was a pronounced Liberal. I explained that I had come to Mandalay to
learn as much about Burmese manners, customs, and institutions as was
possible in four days, with intent to embody my impressions in letters
to England; and that as the King was the chief institution of the
country, I had a keen anxiety to see him and begged of his Excellency
to lend me his aid toward doing so. He gave no direct reply, but
certainly did not frown on the request. We were served with tea
(without cream or sugar) in pretty china cups, and then the Menghyi,
observing that we were looking at some quaint-shaped musical
instruments at the foot of the dais, explained that they belonged to a
band of rural performers from the Pegu district, and proposed that we
should first hear them play and afterwards visit the theatre and
witness the _pooey_. We assenting, he led the way from his pavilion
through the garden to a pretty kiosk half-embosomed in foliage, and
chairs having been brought the party sat down. We had put on our shoes
as we quitted the dais. The Menghyi explained that it was pleasanter
for him, as it must be for us, that we should change the manner of our
reception from the Burmese to the European custom; and we were quite
free to confess that we would sooner sit in chairs than squat on the
floor. More tea was brought, and a plateful of cheroots. After we had
sat a little while in the kiosk we were joined by the chief
Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Baron de Giers of Burmah, a
jovial, corpulent, elderly gentleman who had the most wonderful
likeness to the late Pio Nono, and who clasped his brown hands over his
fat paunch and kicked about his plump bare brown feet in high enjoyment
when anything that struck him as humorous was uttered. He wholly
differed in appearance from his superior, who was a lean-faced and
lean-figured man, grave, and indeed somewhat sad both of eye and of
visage when his face was in repose. As we talked, our conversation
being through the interpreting secretary, there came to the curtained
entrance to the kiosk a very dainty little lady. I had noticed her
previously sauntering around the garden under one of the great
shield-like shades, with a following of serving-men and serving-women
behind her. She greeted the Menghyi very prettily, with the most
perfect composure, although strangers were present. She was clearly a
great pet with the Menghyi; he took her on his knee and played with her
long black hair, as he told her about the visitors. The little lady was
in her twelfth year, and was the daughter of a colleague and a relative
of the Menghyi. She had an olive oval face, with lovely dark eyes, like
the eyes of a deer. She wore a tiara of feathery white blossoms. In her
ears were rosettes of chased red gold. Round her throat was a necklace
of a double row of large pearls. Her fingers--I regret to say her nails
were not very clean--were loaded with rings set with great diamonds of
exceptional sparkle and water; one stone in particular must have been
worth many thousands of pounds. She wore a jacket of white silk, and
round her loins was girt a gay silken robe that trailed about her bare
feet as she walked. She shook hands with us with a pretty shyness and
immediately helped herself to a cheroot, affably accepting a light from
mine. The Menghyi told us she was a great scholar--could read and write
with facility, and had accomplishments to boot.

By this time the provincial band had taken its place under one of the
windows of the kiosk, and it presently struck up. Its music was not
pretty. There were in the strange weird strain suggestions of gongs,
bagpipes, penny whistles, and the humble tom-tom of Bengal. The
gentleman who performed on an instrument which seemed a hybrid between
a flute and a French horn, occasionally arrested his instrumental music
to favour us with vocal strains, but he failed to compete successfully
with the cymbals. I do not think the Menghyi was enraptured by the
music of the strollers from Pegu, for he presently asked us whether we
were ready to go to the _pooey_. He again led the way through a garden,
passing in one corner of it a temporary house of which a company of
Burmese nuns, short-haired, pallid-faced, unhappy-looking women, were
in possession; and passing through a gate in the wicker-work fence
ushered us into the "state-box" of the improvised theatre. There is
very little labour required to construct a theatre in Burmah. Over a
framework of bamboo poles stretch a number of squares of matting as a
protection from the sun. Lay some more down in the centre as a flooring
for the performers. Tie a few branches round the central bamboo to
represent a forest, the perpetual set-scene of a Burmese drama; and the
house is ready. The performers act and dance in the central square laid
with matting. A little space on one side is reserved as a dressing and
green room for the actresses; a similar space on the other side serves
the turn of the actors; and then come the spectators crowding in on all
four sides of the square. It is an orderly and easily managed audience;
it may be added an easily amused audience. The youngsters are put or
put themselves in front and squat down; the grown people kneel or stand
behind. Our "state-box" was merely a raised platform laid with carpets
and cushions, from which as we sat we looked over the heads of the
throng squatting under and in front of us. Of the drama I cannot say
that I carried away with me particularly clear impressions. True, I
only saw a part of it--it was to last till the following morning; but
long before I left the plot to me had become bewilderingly involved.
The opening was a ballet; of that at least I am certain. There were six
lady dancers and six gentlemen ditto. The ladies were arrayed in
splendour, with tinsel tiaras, necklaces, and bracelets, gauzy jackets
and waving scarfs; and with long, light clinging silken robes, of which
there was at least a couple of yards on the "boards" about their feet.
They were old, they were ugly, they leered fiendishly; their faces were
plastered with powder in a ghastly fashion, and their coquetry behind
their fans was the acme of caricature. But my pen halts when I would
describe the gentlemen dancers. I believe that in reality they were not
meant to represent fallen humanity at all; but were intended to
personify _nats,_ the spirits or princes of the air of Burmese
mythology. They carried on their heads pagodas of tinsel and coloured
glass that towered imposingly aloft. They were arrayed in tight-bodiced
coats with aprons before and behind of fantastic outline, resembling
the wings of dragons and griffins, and these coats were an incrusted
mass of spangles and pieces of coloured glass. Underneath a skirt of
tartan silk was fitfully visible. Their brown legs and feet were bare.
The expression of their faces was solemn, not to say lugubrious--one
performer had a most whimsical resemblance to Mr. Toole when he is sunk
in an abyss of dramatic woe. They realised the responsibilities of
their position, and there were moments when these seemed too many for
them. The orchestra, taken as a whole, was rather noisy; but it
comprised one instrument, the "bamboo harmonicon," which deserves to be
known out of Burmah because of its sweetness and range of tone. There
were lots of "go" in the music, and every now and then one detected a
kind of echo of a tune not unfamiliar in other climes. One's ear seemed
to assure one that _Madame Angot_ had been laid under contribution to
tickle the ears of a Mandalay audience, yet how could this be? The
explanation was that the instrumentalists, occasionally visiting
Thayet-myo or Rangoon, had listened there to the strains of our
military bands, and had adapted these to the Burmese orchestra in some
deft inscrutable manner, written music being unknown in the musical
world of Burmah.

Next day the Kingwoon Menghyi took the wholly unprecedented step of
inviting to dinner the British Resident, his suite, and his
visitor--myself. Mr. Shaw accepted the invitation, and I considered
myself specially fortunate in being a participator in a species of
intercourse at once so novel, and to all seeming so auspicious.

About sundown the Residency party, joined _en route_ by Dr. Williams,
rode down to the entrance to the gardens. Here we were warmly received
by the English-speaking secretary, and by the jovial bow-windowed
minister who so much resembled the late Pio Nono. We were escorted to
the verandah of the pavilion, where the Menghyi himself stood waiting
to greet us, and were ushered up to the broad, raised, carpeted
platform which may be styled the drawing-room. Here was a semicircle of
chairs. On our way to these, a long row of squatting Burmans was
passed. As the Resident approached, the Menghyi gave the word, and they
promptly stood erect in line. He explained that they were the superior
officers of the army quartered in the capital--generals, he called
them--whom he had asked to meet us. Of these officers one commanded the
eastern guard of the Palace, the other the western; two others were
aides-de-camp after a fashion. Just as the Menghyi and his subordinate
colleagues represented the Ministry, so these military people
represented the Court. The former was the moderate constitutional
element of the gathering; the latter the "jingo" or personal government
element, for the Burmese Court was reactionary, and those military
sprigs were of the personal suite of the King and were understood to
abet him in his falling away from the constitutional promise with which
his reign began. Their presence rendered the occasion all the more
significant. That they were deputed from the Palace to attend and watch
events was pretty certain, and indeed the two aides went away
immediately after dinner, their excuse being that his Majesty was
expecting their personal attendance. After a little while of waiting,
the _mauvais quart d'heure_ having the edge of its awkwardness taken
off by a series of introductions, dinner was announced, and the
Menghyi, followed by the Resident, led the way into an adjoining
dining-room. Good old Pio Nono, who, I ought to have said, had been
with the Menghyi a member of the Burmese Embassy to Europe, jauntily
offered me his arm, and gave me to understand that he did so in
compliance with English fashion. The Resident sat on the right of the
Menghyi, I was on his left; the rest of the party, to the number of
about fifteen, took their places indiscriminately; Mr. Andrino, an
Italian in Burmese employ, being at the head of the table, Dr. Williams
at the foot. Our meal was a perfectly English dinner, served and eaten
in the English fashion. The Burmese had taken lessons in the nice
conduct of a knife and fork, and fed themselves in the most
irreproachably conventional manner, carefully avoiding the use of a
knife with their fish. Pio Nono, who sat opposite the Menghyi, tucked
his napkin over his ample paunch and went in with a will. He was in a
most hilarious mood, and taxed his memory for reminiscences of his
visit to England. These were not expressed with useless expenditure of
verbiage, nor did they flow in unbroken sequence. It was as if he dug
in his memory with a spade, and found every now and then a gem in the
shape of a name, which he brandished aloft in triumph. He kept up an
intermittent and disconnected fire all through dinner, with an interval
between each discharge, "White-bait!" "Lord Mayor!" "Fishmongers!"
"Cremorne!" "Crystal Palace!" "Edinburgh!" "Dunrobin!" "Newcastle!"
"Windsor!"--each name followed by a chuckle and a succession of nods.
The Menghyi divided his talk between the Resident and myself. He told
me that of all the men he had met in England his favourite was the late
Duke of Sutherland; adding that the Duke was a nobleman of great and
striking eloquence, a trait which I had not been in the habit of
regarding as markedly characteristic of his Grace. He spoke with much
warmth of a pleasant visit he had paid to Dunrobin, and said he should
be heartily glad if the Duke would come to Burmah and give him an
opportunity of returning his hospitality. Here Pio Nono broke in with
one of his periodical exclamations. This time it was "Lady Dudley." Of
her, and of her late husband, the Menghyi then recalled his
recollections, and if more courtly tributes have been paid to her
ladyship's charms and grace, I question if any have been heartier and
more enthusiastic than was the appreciation of this Burmese dignitary.
The soldier element was at first somewhat stiff, but as the dinner
proceeded the generals warmed in conversation with the Resident. But
the aides were obstinately supercilious, and only partially thawed in
acknowledgment of compliments on the splendour of their jewelry.
Functionaries attached to the personal suite of his Majesty wore huge
ear-gems as a distinguishing mark. The aides had these in blazing
diamonds, and were good enough to take out the ornaments and hand them
round. The civil ministers wore no ornaments and their dress was
studiously plain. We were during dinner entertained by music,
instrumental and vocal, sedulously modulated to prevent conversation
from being drowned. The meal lasted quite two hours, and when it was
finished the Menghyi led the way to coffee in one of the kiosks of the
garden. I should have said that no wine was on the table at dinner. The
Burmese by religion are total abstainers, and their guests were willing
to follow their example for the time and to fall in with their
prejudices. After coffee we were ushered into the drawing-room, and
listened to a concert. The only solo-vocalist was the prima donna _par
excellence,_ Mdlle. Yeendun Male. The burden of her songs was love, but
I could not succeed in having the specific terms translated. Then she
sang an ode in praise of the Resident, and gracefully accepted his
pecuniary appreciation of her performance. Pio Nono then beckoned to
her to flatter me at close quarters; but, mistaking the index, she
addressed herself to the Residency chaplain in strains of hyperbolical
encomium. The mistake having been set right, much to the reverend
gentleman's relief, the songstress overpowered my sensitive modesty by
impassioned requests in verse that I should delay my departure; that,
if I could not do so, I should take her away with me; and that, if this
were beyond my power, I should at least remember her when I was far
away. The which was an allegory and cost me twenty rupees.

When the good-nights were being said, the Menghyi gratified me by the
information that the King had given his consent to my presentation, and
that I was to have the opportunity next morning of "Reverencing the
Golden Feet."

The Royal Palace occupied the central space of the city of Mandalay. It
was almost entirely of woodwork, and was not only the counterpart of
the palace which Major Phayre saw at Amarapoora, but the identical
palace itself, conveyed piecemeal from its previous site and re-erected
here. Its outermost enclosure consisted of a massive teak palisading,
beyond which all round was a wide clear space laid out as an esplanade,
the farther margin of which was edged by the houses of ministers and
court officials. The Palace enclosure was a perfect square, each face
about 370 yards. The main entrance, the only one in general use, was in
the centre of the eastern face, almost opposite to which, across the
esplanade, was the _Yoom-daù_, or High Court. This gate was called the
_Yive-daù-yoo-Taga_, or the Royal Gate of the Chosen, because the
charge of it was entrusted to chosen troops. As I passed through it on
my way to be presented to his Majesty, the aspect of the "chosen"
troops was not imposing. They wore no uniform, and differed in no
perceptible item from the common coolies of the outside streets. They
were lying about on charpoys and on the ground, chewing betel or
smoking cheroots, and there was not even the pretence of there being
sentries under arms. Some rows of old flintlock guns stood in racks in
the gateway, rusty, dusty, and untended; they might have been untouched
since the last insurrection. Crossing an intermediate space overgrown
with shrubbery, we passed through a high gateway cut in the inner brick
wall of the enclosure; and there confronted us the great Myenan of
Mandalay--the Palace of the "Sun-descended Monarch." The first
impression was disappointing, for the whole front was covered with
gold-leaf and tawdry tinsel-work which had become weather-worn and
dingy. But there was no time now to halt, inspect details, and rectify
perchance first impressions. A message came that the Kingwoon Menghyi,
my host of the previous evening--substantially the Prime Minister of
Burmah, desired that we--that was to say, Dr. Williams, my guide,
philosopher, and friend, and myself--should wait upon him in the
_Hlwot-daù_, or Hall of the Supreme Council, before entering the Palace
itself. The _Hlwot-daù_ was a detached structure on the right front of
the Palace as one entered by the eastern gate. It was the Downing
Street of Mandalay. Its sides were quite open, and its fantastic roof
of grotesquely carved teak plastered with gilding, painting, and
tinsel, was supported on massive teak pillars painted a deep red.
Taking off our shoes we ascended to the platform of the _Hlwot-daù_,
where we found the Menghyi surrounded by a crowd of minor officials and
suitors squatting on their stomachs and elbows, with their legs under
them and their hands clasped in front of their bent heads. The Menghyi
came forward several paces to meet us, conducted us to his mat, and
sitting down himself and bidding us do the same, explained that as it
was with him a busy day, he would not be able personally to present me
to the King as he had hoped to have done, but that he had made all
arrangements and had delegated the charge of us to our old friend whom
I have ventured to call "Pio Nono." That corpulent and jovial worthy
made his appearance at this moment along with his English-speaking
subordinate, and with cordial acknowledgments and farewells to the
Menghyi we left the _Hlwot-daù_ under their guidance. They led us along
the front of the Palace, passing the huge gilded cannon that flanked on
either side the central steps leading up into the throne-room; and
turning round the northern angle of the Palace front, conducted us to
the Hall of the _Bya-dyt_, or Household Council. We had to leave our
shoes at the foot of the steps leading up to it. The _Bya-dyt_ was a
mere open shed; its lofty roof borne up by massive teak timbers. What
splendour had once been its in the matter of gilding and tinsel was
greatly faded. The gold-leaf had been worn off the pillars by constant
friction, and the place appeared to be used as a lumber-room as well as
a council-chamber. On the front of one of a pile of empty cases was
visible, in big black letters, the legend, "Peek, Frean, and Co.,
London." State documents reposed in the receptacle once occupied by
biscuits. Clerks lay all around on the rough dusty boards, writing with
agate stylets on tablets of black papier-mâche; and there was a
constant flux and reflux of people of all sorts, who appeared to have
nothing to do and who were doing it with a sedulously lounging
deliberation that seemed to imply a gratifying absence of arrears of
official work. We sat down here for a while along with Pio Nono and his
assistant, who busied himself in dictating to a secretary a description
of myself and a catalogue of my presents to be read by the herald to
his Majesty when I should be presented. Then Pio Nono went away and
presently came back, saying that it was intended to bestow upon me some
souvenirs of Mandalay, and that to admit of the preparation of these
the audience would not take place for an hour or so. He invited us in
the meantime to inspect the public apartments of the Palace itself and
the objects of interest in the Palace enclosure. So we got up, and
still without our shoes walked through the suite leading to the
principal throne-room or great hall of audience.

These were simply a series of minor throne-rooms. The first one in
order from the private apartments was close to the _Bya-dyt_. It must
be borne in mind that the whole suite, including the great audience
hall, were not rooms at all in our sense of the word. They were simply
open-roofed spaces, the roofs gabled, spiked, and carved into fantastic
shapes, laden with dingy gold-leaf garishly picked out with glaring
colours and studded with bits of stained glass; the roofs, or rather I
should say, the one continuous roof, supported on massive deep red
pillars of teak-wood. The whole palace was raised from the ground on a
brick platform some 10 feet high. The partitions between the several
walls were simply skirtings of planking covered with gold-leaf. The
whole palace seemed an armoury. Some ten or twelve thousand stand of
obsolete muskets were ranged along these partitions and crammed into
the anteroom of the throne-room proper. The whole suite was dingy,
dirty, and uncared-for; but on a great day, with the gilding renewed,
carpets spread on the rugged boards, banners waving, and the courtiers
in full dress, no doubt the effect would have been materially improved.
The vista from the throne of the great hall of audience looked right
through the columned arcade to the "Gate of the Chosen"; and that we
might imagine the scene more vividly, we considered ourselves as on our
way to Court on one of the great days, and going back to the gate again
began our pilgrimage anew. The pillared front of the Palace stretched
before us raised on the terrace, its total length 260 feet. Looking
between the two gilded cannon, we saw at the foot of the central steps
a low gate of carved and gilded wood. That gate, it seemed, was never
opened except to the King--none save he might use those central steps.
Raising our eyes we looked right up the vista of the hall to the lofty
throne raised against the gilded partition that closed at once the
vista and the hall. We had been looking down the great central nave, as
it were, toward the west gate, in the place of which was the throne.
But along the eastern front of the terrace ran a long colonnade, whose
wings formed transepts at right angles to the nave. The throne-room was
shaped like the letter T, the throne being at the base of the letter
and the cross-bar representing the colonnade. Entering at the extremity
of one of these, we traversed it to the centre and then faced the nave.
The throne was exactly before us, at the end of the pillared vista.
Five steps led up to the dais. Its form was peculiar, contracting by a
gradation of steps from the base upwards to mid-height, and again
expanding to the top, on which was a cushioned ledge such as is seen in
the box of a theatre. On the platform, which now was bare planks, the
King and Queen on a great reception day would sit on gorgeous carpets.
The entrance was through gilded doors from a staircase in the ante-room
beyond. There was a rack of muskets round the foot of the throne, and
just outside the rails a half-naked soldier lay snoring. Our Burman
companion assured us that seeing the throne-room now in its condition
of dismantled tawdriness, I could form no idea of the fine effect when
King and Court in all their splendour were gathered in it on a
ceremonial day. I tried to accept his assurances, but it was not easy
to imagine such forlorn dinginess changed into dazzling splendour. Just
over the throne, and in the centre of the Palace and of the city, rose
in gracefully diminishing stages of fantastic woodcarving a tapering
_phya-sath_ or spire similar to those surmounting sacred buildings, and
crowned with the gilded _Htee_, an honour which royalty alone shared
with ecclesiastical sanctity. The spire, like everything else, had been
gilt, but it was now sadly tarnished and had lost much of its
brilliancy of effect.

Having looked at the hall of audience we strolled through the Palace
esplanade. A wall parted this off from the private apartments and the
pleasure grounds occupying the western section of the Palace enclosure.
A series of carved and gilded gables roofed with glittering zinc plates
was visible over the wall. The grounds were said to be well planted
with flowering shrubs and fruit trees and to contain lakelets and
rockeries. Built against the outer wall and facing the enclosed space
were barracks for soldiers and gun sheds. The accommodation was as
primitive as are the weapons, and that was saying a good deal. Pio Nono
led us across to a big wooden house, scarcely at all ornamented, which
was the everyday abode of the "Lord White Elephant." His "Palace," or
state apartment, was not pointed out to us. His lordship, in so far as
his literal claim to be styled a white elephant, was an impostor of the
deepest dye and a very grim and ugly impostor to boot. He was a great,
lean, brown, flat-sided brute, his ears, forehead, and trunk mottled
with a dingy cream colour. But he belonged all the same to the lordly
race. "White elephants" were a science which had a literature of its
own. According to this science, it was not the whiteness that was the
criterion of a "white elephant." So much, indeed, was the reverse, that
a "white elephant" according to the science may be a brown elephant in
actual colour. The points were the mottling of the face, the shape and
colour of the eyes, the position of the ears, and the length of the
tail. Certainly the "Lord White Elephant" had, to the most cursory
observation, a peculiar and abnormal eye. The iris was yellow, with a
reddish outer annulus and a small, clear, black pupil. It was
essentially a shifty, treacherous eye, and I noticed that everybody
took particularly good care to keep out of range of his lordship's
trunk and tusks. The latter were superb--long, massive, and smooth,
their tips quite meeting far in front of his trunk. His tail was much
longer than in the Indian elephants, and was tipped with a bunch of
long, straight, black hair. Altogether he was an unwholesome,
disagreeable-looking brute, who munched his grass morosely and had no
elephantine geniality. He was but a youngster--the great, old, really
white elephant which Yule describes had died some time back, after an
incumbency dating from 1806. The "White Elephant" was never ridden now,
but the last King but one used frequently to ride its predecessor,
acting as his own mahout. We did not see his trappings, as our visit
was paid unawares when he was quite in undress; but Yule says that when
arrayed in all his splendour his head-stall was of fine red cloth,
studded with great rubies, interspersed with valuable diamonds. When
caparisoned he wore on his forehead, like other Burmese dignitaries
including the King himself, a golden plate inscribed with his titles
and a gold crescent set with circles of large gems between the eyes.
Large silver tassels hung in front of his ears, and he was harnessed
with bands of gold and crimson set freely with large bosses of pure
gold. He was a regular "estate of the realm," having a _woon_ or
minister of his own, four gold umbrellas, the white umbrellas which
were peculiar to royalty, with a large suite of attendants and an
appanage to furnish him with maintenance wherewithal. When in state his
attendants had to leave their shoes behind them when they enter his
Palace. In a shed adjacent to that occupied by the "Lord White
Elephant" stood his lady wife, a browner, plumper, and generally more
amiable-looking animal. Contrary to universal experience elsewhere,
elephants in Burmah breed in captivity, but this union was unfertile
and the race of "Lord White Elephants" had to be maintained _ab extra_.
The so-called white elephants are sports of nature, and are of no
special breed. They are called Albinoes, and are more plentiful in the
Siam region than in Burmah.

By this time the hour was approaching that had been fixed for the
presentation, and we returned to the _Bya-dyt_. The summons came almost
immediately. Ushered by Pio Nono and accompanied by several courtiers,
we traversed some open passages and finally reached a kind of pagoda or
kiosk within the private gardens of the Palace. The King was not to
appear in state, and this place had been selected by reason of its
absolute informality. There was no ornament anywhere, not so much as a
speck of gilding or an atom of tinsel. We solemnly squatted down on a
low platform covered with grass matting, through which pierced the teak
columns supporting the lofty roof. A space had been reserved for us in
the centre, on either side of which, their front describing a
semicircle, a number of courtiers lay crouching on their stomachs but
placidly puffing cheroots. On our left were two or three superior
military officers of the Palace guard, distinguishable only by their
diamond ear-jewels. My presents--they were trivial: an opera-glass, a
few boxes of chocolate, and a work-box--were placed before me as I sat
down. There were other offerings to right and to left of them--a huge
bunch of cabbages, a basket of _Kohl-rabi_, and three baskets of
orchids. In the clear space in front I observed also a satin robe lined
with fur, a couple of silver boxes, and a ruby ring. These, I imagined,
were also for presentation, but it presently appeared they were his
Majesty's return gifts for myself. Before us, at a higher elevation,
there was a plain wooden railing with a gap in the centre, and the
railing enclosed a sort of recess that looked like a garden-house. Over
a ledge where the gap was, had been thrown a rich crimson and gold
trapping that hung low in front, and on the ledge were a crimson
cushion, a betel box, and a tall oval spittoon in gold set with pearls.
A few minutes passed, beguiled by conversation in a low tone, when six
guards armed with double-barrelled firearms of very diverse patterns,
mounted the platform from the left side and took their places on either
side, squatting down. The guards wore black silk jackets lined with fur
and with scarlet kerchiefs bound round their heads. Then a door opened
in the left side of the garden-house, and there entered first an old
gaunt beardless man--the chief eunuch--closely followed by the King,
otherwise unattended. His Majesty came on with a quick step, and sat
down, resting his right arm on the crimson cushion on the ledge in the
centre of the railing. He wore a white silk jacket, and a _loonghi_ or
petticoat robe of rich yellow and green silk. His only ornaments were
his diamond ear-jewels. As he entered all bent low, and when he had
seated himself a herald lying on his stomach read aloud my credentials.
The literal translation was as follows:--"So-and-so, a great newspaper
teacher of the _Daily News_ of London, tenders to his Most Glorious
Excellent Majesty, Lord of the Ishaddan, King of Elephants, master of
many white elephants, lord of the mines of gold, silver, rubies, amber,
and the noble serpentine, Sovereign of the empires of Thunaparanta and
Tampadipa, and other great empires and countries, and of all the
umbrella-wearing chiefs, the supporter of religion, the Sun-descended
Monarch, arbiter of life, and great, righteous King, King of kings, and
possessor of boundless dominions, and supreme wisdom, the following
presents." The reading was intoned in a uniform high recitative,
strongly resembling that used when our Church Service is intoned; and
the long-drawn "Phya-a-a-a-a" (my lord) which concluded it, added to
the resemblance, as it came in exactly like the "Amen" of the Liturgy.

The reading over, the return presents were picked up by an official and
bundled over to me without any ceremony, the King meanwhile looking on
in silence, chewing betel and smoking a cheroot. Several of the
courtiers were following his example in the latter respect. Presently
the King spoke in a distinct, deliberate voice--

"Who is he?"

Dr. Williams acting as my introducer, replied in Burmese--

"A writer of the _Daily News_ of London, your Majesty."

"Why does he come?"

"To see your Majesty's country, and in the hope of being permitted to
reverence the Golden Feet."

"Whence does he come?"

"From the British army in Afghanistan, engaged in war against the
Prince of Cabul."

"And does the war prosper for my friends the English?"

"He reports that it has done so greatly and that the Prince of Cabul is
a fugitive."

"Where does Cabul lie in relation to Kashmir?"

"Between Kashmir and Persia, in a very mountainous and cold region."

There had been pauses more or less long between each of these
questions; the King obviously reflecting what he should ask next; then
there was a longer, and, indeed, a wearisome pause. Then the King spoke
again.

"Where is the Kingwoon Menghyi?"

"In Court, your Majesty," replied Pio Nono. "It is a Court day."

"It is well. I wish the Ministers to make every day a Court day, and to
labour hard to give prompt justice to suitors, so that there be no
complaint of arrears."

With this laudable injunction, his Majesty rose and walked away, and
the audience was over.

The King of Burmah, when I saw him, was little over twenty, and he had
been barely four months on the throne. He was a tall, well-built,
personable young man, very fair in complexion, with a good forehead,
clear, steady eyes, and a firm but pleasant mouth. His chin was full
and somewhat sensual-looking, but withal he was a manly, frank-faced
young fellow, and was said to have gained self-possession and lost the
early nervous awkwardness of his new position with great rapidity.
Circumstances had even then occurred to prove that he was very far from
destitute of a will of his own, and that he had no favour for any
diminution of the Royal Prerogative. As we passed out of the Palace
after the interview a house in the Palace grounds was pointed out to
me, within which had been imprisoned in squalid misery ever since the
mortal illness of the previous King, a number of the members of the
Burmese blood royal.

_P.S._--A few days after my visit, all these unfortunately were
massacred with fiendish refinements of cruelty.



GERMAN WAR PRAYERS 1870-71


In the multifarious ramifications of their military organisation the
Germans by no means neglect religion. Each army corps is partitioned
into two divisions and each division has its field chaplain. In those
corps in which there is a large admixture of the Catholic element,
there is a cleric of that denomination to each division as well as a
Protestant chaplain. The former is known as a _Feldgeistliger_, a word
which in itself means nothing more distinctive than a "field
ecclesiastic," while the Protestant chaplain has usually the title of
_Feldpastor_. Of the priest I can say but little. The pastors, for the
most part, are young and energetic men. They may be divided into two
classes: those who have at home no stated charges, and those who have
temporarily left their charge for the duration of the war. The former
generally are regularly posted to a division; the latter, equally
recognised but not perhaps quite so official, are chiefly to be found
in the lazarettoes, in the battlefield villages whither the wounded are
borne to have their fresh wounds roughly seen to, and on the
battlefield itself. Not that the regular divisional chaplains do not
face the dangers of the battlefield with devoted courage; but their
duties, in the nature of their special avocation, lie more among the
hale and sound who yet stand up before an enemy, than with the poor
fellows who have been stricken down. Earnestness and devotion are the
chief characteristics of those pastors. It struck me that their
education was not of a very high order--certainly not on a par with
that of the average regimental officer.

The _Feldpastor_ wears an armlet of white and light purple to denote
his calling; but indeed it is not easy to mistake him for anything else
than he is. He has his quarters with the Divisional General, and
preaches whenever and wherever it is convenient to get a congregation.
A church is passed on the wayside, a regiment halts and defiles into
it, and the pastor mounts the steps of the altar and holds forth
therefrom for half an hour. There is a quiet meadow near a village, in
which a brigade is lying. Looking over the hedge, you may see in the
meadow a hollow square of helmeted men with the general and the pastor
in the centre, the latter speaking simple, fervent words to the
fighting men. When, as during the siege of Paris, a division occupies a
certain district for a long time, you may chance--let me say on a New
Year's night--on the village church all ablaze with light. The garrison
have decorated the gaunt old Norman arches with laurels and evergreens;
they have cleared out the market-vendor's stock of tallow-dips to
illuminate the church wherewithal. The band has been practising the
glorious _Nun Danket alle Gott_ for a week; the vocalists of the
regiments have been combining to perfect themselves in part-singing.
The gorgeous trumpery of Roman Catholic church paraphernalia, unheeded
as it is, looks strangely out of place and contrasts curiously with the
simple Protestant forms.

The church is crowded with a denser congregation than ever its walls
contained before. The _Oberst_ sits down with the under-officer; the
general gropes for half a chair between two stalwart _Kerle_ of the
line. Hymn-cards are distributed as at the Brighton volunteer service
in the Pavilion on Easter Sunday. As the pastor enters and takes his
way up the altar steps--he goes not to the pulpit--there bursts out a
volume of vocal devotional harmony, which is so pent in the aisles and
under the arches that the sound seems almost to become a substance.
Then the pastor delivers a prayer and there is another hymn. He
enunciates no text when he next begins to speak; he chops not a subject
up into heads, as the grizzled major who listens to him would partition
out his battalion into companies. There is no "thirteenthly and lastly"
in his simple address. But he gets nearer the hearts of his hearers
than if he assailed them with a battery of logic with multitudinous
texts for ammunition. For he speaks of the people at home, in the quiet
corners of the Fatherland; he tells the soldier in language that is of
his profession, how the fear of the Lord is a better arm than the
truest-shooting _Zündnadelgewehr_; how preparedness for death and for
what follows after death, is a part of his accoutrement that the good
soldier must ever bear about with him.

Herr Pastor has other functions than to preach to the living. The day
after a battle, his horse must be very tired before the stable-door is
reached. The burial parties are excavating great pits all over the
field, while others pick up the dead in the vicinity and bear them unto
the brink of the common grave. Herr Pastor cannot be ubiquitous. If he
is not near when the hole is full, the _Feldwebel_ who commands the
party bares his head, and mutters, "In the name of God, Amen," as he
strews the first handful of mould on the dead--it may be on friends as
well as on foes. If the pastor can reach the brink of the pit, it is
his to say the few words that mark the recognition of the fact that
those lying stark and grim below him are not as the beasts that perish.
The Germans have no set funeral service, and if they had, there would
be no time for it here. "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, _durch
unsern Herr Jesu Christe_. Amen;" words so familiar, yet never heard
without a new thrill.

They are slightly uncouth in several matters, these _Feldpastoren_, and
would not quite suit sundry metropolitan charges one wots of. They do
not wear gloves, nor are they addicted to scent on their
pocket-handkerchiefs. Their boots are too often like boats, and when
they are mounted there is frequently visible an interval of more or
less dusky stocking between the boot-top and the trouser-leg. They
slobber stertorously in the consumption of soup, and cut their meat
with a square-elbowed energy of determination that might make one think
that they had vanquished the Evil One and had him down there under
their knife and fork. But they are simple-hearted and valiant servants
of their Master. Who was it, in the bullet-storm that swept the slope
of Wörth, from facing which the stout hearts of the fighting men
blenched and quailed, that there walked quietly into it, to speak words
of peace and consolation to the dying men whom that terrible storm had
beaten down? A smooth-faced stripling with the _Feldpastor's_ badge on
his arm, the gallant Christian son of an eminent Prussian divine, Dr.
Krummacher of Berlin. At one of the battles (I forget which) a pastor
came to fill a grave, not to consecrate it. Shall I ever forget the
unswerving hurry to the front of Kummer's divisional chaplain when the
_Landwehrleute_, his flock, were going down in their ranks as they held
with stubbornness unto death the villages in front of Maizières les
Metz? Let the _Feldpastoren_ slobber and welcome, say I, while they
gild their slobbering with such devotion as this! But there must be
times and seasons when Herr Pastor is not at hand; nor can the
ministration of any pastor stand in the stead of private prayer. The
German soldier's simple needs in this matter are not disregarded. Each
man is served out when he gets his kit with a tiny gray volume less
than quarter the size of this page, the title of which is _Gebetbuch
für Soldaten_--the Soldier's Prayer-Book. It is supplied from the
Berlin depôt of the Head Society for the Promotion of Christian
Knowledge in Germany, and it is a compendium of simple war prayers for
almost every conceivable situation, with one significant
exception--there is no prayer in defeat. The word is blotted out of the
German war vocabulary. It has been said that the belief in the divinity
of our Saviour is rapidly on the wane in Germany. If this war
prayer-book avails aught, the taint of the heresy may not enter into
the army.

Germany is at war. While Paris is frantically shouting _A Berlin!_,
while all Germany is singing and meaning _Die Wacht am Rhein_, Moltke's
order goes forth into the towns and villages of the Fatherland for the
mobilisation of the Reserves. Hans was singing _Die Wacht am Rhein_
last night over his beer; but there is little heart for song left in
him as he looks from that paper on the deal table into Gretchen's face.
She is weeping bitterly as her children cling around her, too young to
realise the cause of their parents' sorrow. Hans rises moodily, and
pulling down what military belongings he has not given into the arsenal
after the last drill, falls a turning over of them abstractedly. By
chance his hand rests upon the little gray volume, the _Gebetbuch für
Soldaten_. It opens in his hand, and he comes and sits down by Gretchen
and reads in a voice that chokes sometimes, the


PRAYER IN STRAIT AND SORROW

O Lord Jesus Christ! let the crying and sighing of the poor come before
Thee. Withhold not Thy countenance from the tears and beseechings of
the woebegone. Help by Thine outstretched arm, and avert our sorrow
from us. Awake us who are lying dead in sin and in great danger, and
whose thoughts often wander from Thee. Let us trust with all our hearts
that nothing can be so broad, so deep, so high, nor so arduous that Thy
grace and favour cannot overcome it; that we so can and must be holpen
out of every difficulty and discomfiture when Thou takest compassion
upon us. Help us, then, through grace, and so I will praise Thee from
now to all eternity.


Hans has bidden good-bye to Gretchen, and has kissed the children he
may never see more. He has marched with his fellows to the depôt, and
got his uniform and arms. The _Militärzug_ has carried him to
Kreuznach, and thence he has marched sturdily up the Nahe Valley and
over the ridge into the Kollerthaler Wald. His last halt was at
Puttingen, but Kameke has sent an aide back at the gallop to summon up
all supports. The regiment stacks arms for ten minutes' breathing-time
while the cannon-thunder is borne backward on the wind to the ears of
the soldiers. In two hours more they will be across the French
frontier, storming furiously up the Spicheren Berg. As Hans gropes in
his tunic pocket for his tinder-box, the little war prayer-book somehow
gets between his fingers. He takes it out with the pipe-light, and
finds in its pages a prayer surely suited to the situation--the prayer


FOR THE OUTMARCHING

O gracious God! I defile from out my Fatherland and from the society of
my friends,[1] and out of the house of my father into a strange land,
to campaign against the enemies of our king. Therefore I would cast
myself with life and soul upon Thy divine bosom and guardianship; and I
pray Thee, with prostrate humility, that Thou willst guide me with
Thine eye, and overshadow me with Thy wings. Let Thine angels camp
round about me, and Thy grace protect me in all the difficulties of the
marches, in all camps and dangers. Give me wisdom and understanding for
my ways and works. Give success and blessing to our ingoings and
outcomings, so that we may do everything well, and conquer on the field
of battle; and after victory won, turn our steps homeward as the
heralds who announce peace. So shall we praise Thee with gladsomeness,
O most gracious Father, for Thy dear Son's sake, Jesus Christ!

[Footnote 1: Every now and then one comes across a German word
untranslatable in its compact volume of expressiveness. How weakly am I
forced to render _Freundschaft_ here! "Outmarching," though a literal,
is a poor equivalent for _Ausmarsch_. In the old Scottish language we
find an exact correspondent for _aus_; the "Furthmarch" gives the idea
to a hair's-breadth.]

It is the morning of Gravelotte. King Wilhelm has issued his laconic
order for the day, and all know how bloody and arduous is the task
before his host. The French tents are visible away in the distance
yonder by the auberge of St. Hubert, and already the explosion of an
occasional shell gives earnest of the wrath to come. The regiment in
which Hans is a private has marched to Caulre Farm, and is halted for
breakfast there before beginning the real battle by attacking the
French outpost stronghold in Verneville. The tough ration beef sticks
in poor Hans' throat. He is no coward, but he thinks of Gretchen and
the children, and the Reserve-man draws aside into the thicket to
commune with his own thoughts. He has already found comfort in the
little gray volume, and so he pulls it out again to search for
consolation in this hour of gloom. He finds what he wants in the prayer


FOR THE BATTLE

Lord of Sabaoth, with Thee is no distinction in helping in great things
or in small. We are going now, at the orders of our commanders, to do
battle in the field with our enemies. Let us give proof of Thy might
and honour. Help us, Lord our God, for we trust in Thee, and in Thy
name we go forth against the enemy. Lord Christ, Thou hast said, "I am
with thee in the hour of need; I will pull thee out, and place thee in
an honourable place." Bethink Thee, Lord, of Thy word, and remember Thy
promise. Come to our aid when we are sore pressed, when the close
grapple is imminent, when the enemy overmatches us, and we have been
surrounded by them. Stand by us in need, for the aid of man is of no
avail. Through Thee we will vanquish our enemies, and in Thy name we
will tread under the foot those who have set themselves in array
against us. They trust in their own might, and are puffed up with
pride; but we put our trust in the Almighty God, who, without one
stroke of the sword, canst smite into the dust not only those who are
now formed up against us, but also the whole world. God, we await on
Thy goodness. Blessed are those who put their trust in Thee. Help us,
that our enemies may not get the better of us, and wax triumphant in
their might; but strike disorder into their ranks, and smite them
before our eyes, so that we may overwhelm them. Show us Thy goodness,
Thou Saviour, of those who trust in Thee. Art Thou not God the Lord
unto us who are called after Thy name? So be gracious unto us, and take
us--life and soul--under the protection of Thy grace. And since Thou
only knowest what is good for us, so we commend ourselves unto Thee
without reserve, be it for life or for death. Let us live comforted;
let us fight and endure comforted; let us die comforted, for Jesus
Christ, Thy dear Son's sake. Amen.


Alvensleben is sitting on his horse on the little hillock behind the
hamlet of Flavigny, pulling his gray moustache, and praying that he
might see the _Spitze_ of Barneckow's division show itself on the edge
of the plain up from out the glen of Gorze. Rheinbaben's cavalry are
half of them down, the other half of them are rallying for another
charge to save the German centre. Hans is in the wood to the north of
Tronville, helping to keep back Leboeuf from swamping the left flank.
The shells from the French artillery on the Roman Road are crashing
into the wood. The bark is jagged by the slashes of venomous chassepot
bullets. Twice has Ladmirault come raging down from the heights of
Bruville, twice has he been sent staggering back. Now, with strong
reinforcements, he is preparing for a third assault. Meanwhile there is
a lull in the battle. Hans, grimed and powder-blackened, may let the
breech of his _Zündnadelgewehr_ cool and may wipe his blood-stained
bayonet on the forest moss. He has a moment for a glance into the
little gray volume, and it opens in his blackened fingers at the prayer


IN THE AGONY OF THE BATTLE

O Thou Lord and Ruler of Thine own people, awake and look now in grace
upon Thy folk. Lord Jesus Christ, be now our Jesus, our Helper and
Deliverer, our rock and fortress, our fiery wall, for Thy great name's
sake. Be now our Emmanuel, God with us, God in us, God for us, God by
the side of us. Thou mighty arm of Thy Father, let us now see Thy great
power, so that men shall hail Thee their God, and the people may bend
their knees unto Thee. Strengthen and guide the fighting arm of Thy
believing soldiers, and help them, Thou invincible King of Battles.
Gird Thyself up, Thou mighty fighting Hero; gird Thy sword on Thy
loins, and smite our enemy hip and thigh. Art Thou not the Lord who
directest the wars of the whole world, who breakest the bow, who
splinterest the spear, and burnest the chariots with fire? Arouse
Thyself, help us for Thy good will, and cast us not from Thee, God of
our Saviour; cease Thy wrath against us, and think not for ever of our
sins. Consider that we are all Thine handiwork; give us Thy countenance
again, and be gracious unto us. Return unto us, O Lord, and go forth
with our army. Restore happiness to us with Thy help and counsel, Thou
staunch and only King of Peace, who with Thy suffering and death hast
procured for us eternal peace. Give us the victory and an honourable
peace, and remain with us in life and in death. Amen.


Hans has marched from before Metz towards the valley of the Meuse, and
the regimental camp for the night is on the slopes of the Ardennes,
over against Chemery. The setting sun is glinting on the windows of the
Château of Vendresse, where the German King is quartered for the night.
The birds are chirruping in the bosky dales of the Bar. The morrow is
fraught with the hot struggle of Sedan, but honest Hans, a simple
private man, knows nought of strategic moves and takes his ease on the
sward while he may. He has oiled the needle-gun and done his cooking; a
stone is under his head and his mantle is about him. As he ponders in
the dying rays of the setting sun there comes over him the impulse to
have a look into the pages of the _Gebetbuch_, and he finds there this
prayer


IN THE BIVOUAC

Heavenly Father, here I am, according to Thy divine will, in the
service of my king and war-master, as is my duty as a soldier; and I
thank Thee for Thy grace and mercy that Thou hast called me to the
performance of this duty, because I am certain that it is not a sin,
but is an obedience to Thy wish and will. But as I know and have learnt
through Thy gracious Word that none of our good works can avail us, and
that nobody can be saved merely as a soldier, but only as a Christian,
I will not rely on my obedience and upon my labours, but will perform
my duties for Thy sake, and to Thy service. I believe with all my heart
that the innocent blood of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, which He has shed
for me, delivers and saves me, for He was obedient to Thee even unto
death. On this I rely, on this I live and die, on this I fight, and on
this I do all things. Retain and increase, O God, my Father, this
belief by Thy Holy Ghost. I commend body and soul to Thy hands. Amen.


It is the evening of Sedan, the most momentous victory of the century.
The bivouac fires light up the sluggish waters of the Meuse, not yet
run clear from blood. The burning villages still blaze on the lower
slopes of the Ardennes, and the tired victors, as they point to the
beleaguered town, exclaim in a kind of maze of sober triumph, "_Der
Kaiser ist da!_" Hans is joyous with his fellows, chaunts with them
Luther's glorious hymn, _Nun Danket alle Gott_; and as the watch-fire
burns up he rummages in the _Gebetbuch_ for something that will chime
with the current of his thoughts. He finds it in the prayer


AFTER THE VICTORY

God of armies! Thou hast given us success and victory against our
enemies, and hast put them to flight before us. Not unto us, O Lord,
not unto us, but to Thy holy name alone be all the honour! Thou hast
done great things for us, therefore our hearts are glad. Without Thy
aid we should have been worsted; only with God could we have done
mighty deeds and subdued the power of the enemy. The eye of our general
Thou hast quickened and guided; Thou hast strengthened the courage of
our army, and lent it stubborn valour. Yet not the strategy of our
leader, nor our courage, but Thy great mercy has given us the victory.
Lord, who are we, that we dare to stand before Thee as soldiers, and
that our enemies yield and fly before us? We are sinners, even as they
are, and have deserved Thy fierce wrath and punishment; but for the
sake of Thy name Thou hast been merciful to us, and hast so marked the
sore peril of our threatened Fatherland, and hast heard the prayer of
our king, our people, and our army, because we called upon Thy name,
and held out our buckler in the name of the Lord of Sabaoth. Blessed be
Thy holy name for ever and ever. Amen.


The surrender of the French army of Sedan has been consummated, and
Napoleon has departed into captivity; while Hans, marching down by
Rethel, and through grand old Rheims, and along the smiling vinebergs
of the Marne Valley, is now _vor Paris_. He is on the _Feldwache_ in
the forest of Bondy before Raincy, and his turn comes to go on the
uttermost sentry post. As the snow-drift blows to one side he can see
the French watch-fires close by him in Bondy; nearer still he sees the
three stones and the few spadefuls of earth behind which, as he knows,
is the French outpost sentry confronting him. The straggling rays of
the watery moon now obscured by snow-scud, now falling on him faintly,
could not aid him in reading even if he dared avert his eyes from his
front. But Hans had come to know the value of the little gray volume;
and while he lay in the _Feldwache_ waiting for his spell of sentry go,
he had learnt by heart the following prayer


FOR OUTPOST SENTRY DUTY

Lord Jesus Christ, I stand here on the foremost fringe of the camp, and
am holding watch against the enemy; but wert Thou, Lord, not to guard
us, then the watcher watcheth in vain. Therefore, I pray Thee, cover us
with Thy grace as with a shield, and let Thy holy angels be round about
us to guard and preserve us that we be not fallen upon at unawares by
the enemy. Let the darkness of the night not terrify me; open mine eyes
and ears that I may observe the oncoming of the enemy from afar, and
that I may study well the care of myself and of the whole army. Keep me
in my duty from sleeping on my post and from false security. Let me
continually call to Thee with my heart, and bend Thyself unto me with
Thine almighty presence. Be Thou with me and strengthen me, life and
soul, that in frost, in heat, in rain, in snow, in all storms, I may
retain my strength and return in health to the _Feldwache_. So I will
praise Thy name and laud Thy protection. Amen.


It is the evening of the 2nd of December. Duerot has tried his hardest
to sup in Lagny, and has been balked by German valour. But not without
terrible loss. On the plateau and by the party wall before Villiers,
dead and wounded Germans lie very thick. In one of the little corries
in the vineberg poor Hans has gone down. The shells from Fort Nogent
are bursting all around, endangering the _Krankenträger_ while
prosecuting their duties of mercy and devotion. Hans has somehow bound
up his shattered limb; and as he pulled his handkerchief from his
pocket the little _Gebetbuch_ has dropped out with it. There is none on
earth to comfort poor Hans; let him open the book and find consolation
there in the prayer


FOR THE SICK AND WOUNDED

Dear and trusty Deliverer, Jesus Christ, I know in my necessity and
pains no whither to flee to but to Thee, my Saviour, who hast suffered
for me, and hast called unto all ailing and miserable ones, "Come unto
Me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Oh, relieve me, also, of Thy love and kindness, stretch out Thy healing
and almighty hand, and restore me to health. Free me with Thy aid from
my wounds and my pains, and console me with Thy grace who art
vouchsafed to heal the broken heart, and to console all the sorrowful
ones. Dost Thou take pleasure in our destruction? Our groaning touches
Thee to the heart, and those whom Thou hast cast down Thou wilt lift up
again. In Thee, Lord Jesus, I put my trust; I will not cease to
importune Thee that Thou bringest me not to shame. Help me, save me, so
I will praise Thee for ever. Amen.


Alas for Gretchen and her brood! The 4th of December has dawned, and
still Hans lies unfound in the corrie of the vineberg. He has no pain
now, for his shattered limb has been numbed by the cruel frost. His
eyes are waxing dim and he feels the end near at hand. The foul raven
of the battlefield croaks above him in his enfeebled loneliness,
impatient for its meal. The grim king of terrors is very close to thee,
poor honest soldier of the Fatherland; but thou canst face him as
boldly as thou hast faced the foe, with the help of the little book of
which thy frost-chilled fingers have never lost the grip. The gruesome
bird falls back as thou murmurest the prayer


AT THE NEAR APPROACH OF DEATH

Merciful heavenly Father, Thou God of all consolation, I thank Thee
that Thou hast sent Thy dear Son Jesus Christ to die for me. He has
through His death taken from death his sting, so that I have no cause
to fear him more. In that I thank Thee, dear Father, and pray Thee
receive my spirit in grace, as it now parts from life. Stand by me and
hold me with Thine almighty hand, that I may conquer all the terrors of
death. When my ears can hear no more, let Thy Spirit commune with my
spirit, that I, as Thy child and co-heir with Christ, may speedily be
with Jesus by Thee in heaven. When my eyes can see no more, so open my
eyes of faith that I may then see Thy heaven open before me and the
Lord Jesus on Thy right hand; that I may also be where He is. When my
tongue shall refuse its utterance, then let Thy Spirit be my spokesman
with indescribable breathings, and teach me to say with my heart,
"Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit." Hear me, for Jesus
Christ's sake. Amen.


Would it harm the British soldier, think you, if in his kit there was a
_Gebetbuch für Soldaten_?



MISS PRIEST'S BRIDECAKE

1879


In broad essentials the marryings and givings in marriage of India
nowadays do not greatly differ from these natural phenomena at home;
but to use a florist's phrase, they are more inclined to "sport." The
old days are over when consignments of damsels were made to the Indian
marriage-market, in the assured certainty that the young ladies would
be brides-elect before reaching the landing ghât. The increased
facilities which improved means of transit now offer to bachelors for
running home on short leave have resulted in making the Anglo-Indian
"spin" rather a drug in the market; and operating in the same untoward
direction is the growing predilection on the part of the Anglo-Indian
bachelor for other men's wives, in preference to hampering himself with
the encumbrance of a wife of his own. Among other social products of
India old maids are now occasionally found; and the fair creature who
on her first arrival would smile only on commissioners or colonels has
been fain, after a few--yet too many--hot seasons have impaired her
bloom and lowered her pretensions, to put up with a lieutenant or even
with a dissenting _padre_. Slips between the cup and the lip are more
frequent in India than in England. Loving and riding away is not wholly
unknown in the Anglo-Indian community; and indeed, by both parties to
the contract, engagements are frequently regarded in the mistaken light
of ninepins. Hearts are seldom broken. At Simla during a late season a
gallant captain persistently wore the willow till the war broke out,
because he had been jilted in favour of a colonel; but his appetite
rapidly recovered its tone on campaign, and he was reported to have
reopened relations by correspondence from the tented field with a
former object of his affections. Not long ago there arrived in an
up-country station a box containing a wedding trousseau, which a lady
had ordered out from home as the result of an engagement between her
and a gallant warrior. But in the interval the warrior had departed
elsewhere and had addressed to the lady a pleasant and affable
communication, setting forth that there was insanity in his family and
that he must have been labouring under an access of the family disorder
when he had proposed to her. It was hard to get such a letter, and it
must have been harder still for her to gaze on the abortive
wedding-dress. But the lady did not abandon herself to despair; she
took a practical view of the situation. She determined to keep the
trousseau by her for six months, in case she might within that time
achieve a fresh conquest, when it would come in happily. Should fortune
not favour her thus far she meant to advertise the wedding-gear for
sale.

Miss Priest was no "spin" lingering on in spinsterhood against her
will. It is true that when I saw her first she had already been "out"
three years, but she might have been married a dozen times over had she
chosen. I have seen many pretty faces in the fair Anglo-Indian
sisterhood, but Miss Priest had a brightness and a sparkle that were
all her own. At flirting, at riding, at walking, at dancing, at
performing in amateur theatricals, at making fools of men in an airy,
ruthless, good-hearted fashion, Miss Priest, as an old soldier might
say, "took the right of the line." There was a fresh vitality about the
girl that drew men and women alike to her. You met her at dawn
cantering round Jakko on her pony. Before breakfast she had been
rinking for an hour, with as likely as not a waltz or two thrown in.
She never missed a picnic to Annandale, the Waterfalls, or Mashobra.
Another turn at the Benmore rink before dinner, and for sure a dance
after, rounded off this young lady's normal day during the Simla
season. But if pleasure-loving, capricious, and reckless, she scraped
through the ordeal of Simla gossip without incurring scandal. She was
such a frank, honest girl, that malign tongues might assail her indeed,
but ineffectually. And she had given proof that she knew how to take
care of herself, although her only protectress was a perfectly
inoffensive mother. On the occasion of the Prince of Wales's visit to
Lahore, had she not boxed the ears of a burly and somewhat boorish
swain, who had chosen the outside of an elephant as an eligible
_locale_ for a proposal, the uncouth abruptness of which did not accord
with her notion of the fitness of things?

Miss Priest may be said to have lived in a chronic state of
engagements. The engagements never seemed to come to anything, but that
was on account mostly of the young lady's wilfulness. It bothered her
to be engaged to the same man for more than from a week to ten days on
end. No bones were broken; the gentleman resigned the position at her
behest, and she would genially dance with him the same night. Malice
and heartburning were out of the question with a lissom, winsome,
witching fairy like this, who played with her life as a child does with
soap-bubbles, and who was as elusory and irresponsible as a summer-day
rainbow. But one season at Mussoorie Miss Priest contracted an
engagement somewhat less evanescent. Mussoorie of all Himalayan
hill-stations is the most demure and proper. Simla occasionally is
convulsed by scandals, although dispassionate inquiry invariably proves
that there is nothing in them. The hot blood of the quick and fervid
Punjaub--casual observers have called the Punjaub stupid, but the
remark applies only to its officials--is apt to stir the current of
life at Murree. The chiefs of the North-West are invariably so
intolerably proper that occasional revolt from their austerity is all
but forced on Nynee Tal, the sanatorium of that province. But
Mussoorie, undisturbed by the presence of frolicsome viceroys or
austere lieutenant-governors, is a limpid pool of pleasant propriety.
It is not so much that it is decorous as that it is genuinely good; it
is a favourite resort of clergymen and of clergymen's wives. It was at
Mussoorie that Miss Priest met Captain Hambleton, a gallant gunner.
They danced together at the Assembly Rooms; they rode in company round
the Camel's Back; they went to the same picnics at "The Glen." The
captain proposed and was accepted. For about the nineteenth time Miss
Priest was an engaged young lady. And Captain Hambleton was a lover of
rather a different stamp from the men with whom her name previously had
been nominally coupled. He was in love and he was a gentleman; he had
proposed to the girl, not that he and she should be merely engaged but
that they should be married also. This view of the subject was novel to
Miss Priest and at first she thought it rather a bore; but the captain
pegged away and gradually the lady came rather to relish the situation.
Men and women concurred that the wayward pinions of the fair Bella were
at last trimmed, if not clipped; and to do her justice the general
opinion was that, once married, she would make an excellent wife. As
the close of the Mussoorie season approached the invitations went out
for Bella Priest's wedding, and for "cake and wine afterwards at the
house." The wedding-breakfast is a comparatively rare _tamasha_ in
India; the above is the formula of the usual invitation at the
hill-stations.

It happened that just two days before the day fixed for the marriage of
Miss Priest and Captain Hambleton, there was a fancy-dress ball in the
Assembly Rooms at Mussoorie. I think that as a rule fancy-dress balls
are greater successes in India than at home. People in India give their
minds more to the selection and to the elaboration of costumes; and
there is less of that _mauvaise honte_ when masquerading in fancy
costume, which makes a ball of this description at home so wooden and
wanting in go. At a fancy ball in India "the devil" acts accordingly,
and manages his tail with adroitness and grace. It is a fact that at a
recent fancy-dress ball in Lahore a game was played on the lap of a
lady who appeared as "chess," with the chess-men which had formed her
head-dress. This Mussoorie ball, being the last of the season, was to
excel all its predecessors in inventive variety. A _padre's_ wife
conceived the bright idea of appearing as Eve; and only abandoned the
notion on finding that, no matter what species of thread she used, it
tore the fig-leaves--a result which, besides causing her a
disappointment, imperilled her immortal soul by engendering doubts as
to the truth of the Scriptural narrative of the creation. Miss Priest
determined to go to this ball, although doing so under the
circumstances was scarcely in accordance with the _convenances_; but
she was a girl very much addicted to having her own way. Captain
Hambleton did not wish her to go, and there was a temporary coolness
between the two on the subject; but he yielded and they made it up. The
principle as to her going once established, Miss Priest's next task was
to set about the invention of a costume. It was to be her last effort
as a "spin"; and she determined it should be worthy of her reputation
for brilliant inventiveness. She had shone as a _Vivandière_, as the
Daughter of the Regiment, as a Greek Slave, Grace Darling, and so
forth, times out of number; but those characters were stale. Miss
Priest had a form of supple rounded grace, nor had Diana shapelier
limbs. A great inspiration came to her as she sauntered pondering on
the Mall. Let her go as Ariel, all gauze, flesh-tints, and natural
curves. She hailed the happy thought and invested in countless yards of
gauze. She had the tights already by her.

Now Miss Priest, knowing the idiosyncrasy of Captain Hambleton, had
little doubt that he would put his foot down upon Ariel. But she knew
he loved her, and with characteristic recklessness determined to trust
to that and to luck. She too loved him, even better, perhaps, than
Ariel; but she hoped to keep both the captain and the character. She
did not, however, tell him of her design, waiting perhaps for a
favourable opportunity. But even in Arcadian Mussoorie there are the
"d----d good-natured friends" of whom Byron wrote; and one of those--of
course it was a woman--told Captain Hambleton of the character in which
Miss Priest intended to appear at the fancy ball. The captain was a
headstrong sort of man--what in India is called _zubburdustee_. Instead
of calling on the girl and talking to her as a wise man would have
done, he sat down and wrote her a terse letter forbidding her to appear
as Ariel, and adding that if she should persist in doing so their
engagement must be considered at an end. Miss Priest naturally fired
up. Strangely enough, being a woman, she did not reply to the captain's
letter; but when the evening of the ball came, she duly appeared as
Ariel with rather less gauze about her shapely limbs than had been her
original intention. She created an immense sensation. Some of the
ladies frowned, others turned up their noses, yet others tucked in
their skirts when she approached; and all vowed that they would decline
to touch Miss Priest's hand in the quadrille. Miss Priest did not care
a jot for these demonstrations, and she never danced square dances.
Among the gentlemen she created a perfect furore.

Captain Hambleton was present at the ball. For the greater part of the
evening he stood near the door with his eye fixed on Miss Priest,
apparently rather in sorrow than in anger. His gaze seemed but to
stimulate her to more vivacious flirtation; and she "carried on above a
bit," as a cynical subaltern remarked, with the gallant major to whom
she had been penultimately engaged. Toward the close of the evening
Captain Hambleton relinquished his post of observation, seemed to
accept the situation, and was observed at supper-time paying marked
attention to a married lady with whom his name had been to some extent
coupled not long before his engagement to Miss Priest.

Next morning Miss Priest took time by the forelock. She waited for no
further communication from Captain Hambleton; he had already sent his
ultimatum and she had dared her fate. The morrow was the day fixed for
the marriage. Many people had been bidden. Mussoorie, including
Landour, is a large station, and the postal delivery of letters is not
particularly punctual. So she adopted a plan for warning off the
wedding-guests identical with that employed in Indian stations for
circulating notifications as to lawn-tennis gatherings and unimportant
intimations generally. At the head of the paper is written the
notification, underneath are the names of the persons concerned. The
document is intrusted to a messenger known as a _chuprassee_, who goes
away on his circuit; and each person writes "Seen" opposite his or her
name in testimony of being posted in the intelligence conveyed in the
notification. Miss Priest divided the invited guests into four rounds
and despatched four _chuprassees_, each bearing a document curtly
announcing that "Miss Priest's marriage will not come off as arranged,
and the invitations therefore are to be regarded as cancelled."

Miss Priest had no fortune, and her mother was by no means wealthy. It
may seem strange to English readers--not nearly so much so, however, as
to Anglo-Indian ones--that Captain Hambleton had thought it a graceful
and kindly attention to provide the wedding-cake. It had reached him
across the hills from Peliti's the night of the ball, and now here it
was on his hands--a great white elephant. Whether in the hope that it
might be regarded as an olive-branch, whether that he burned to be rid
of it somehow, or whether, knowing that Miss Priest was bound to get
married some day and thinking that it would be a convenience if she had
a bridecake by her handy for the occasion, there is no evidence.
Anyhow, he sent it to Mrs. Priest with his compliments. That very
sensible woman did not send it back with a cutting message, as some
people would have done. Having considerable Indian experience, she had
learned practical wisdom and the short-sighted folly of cutting
messages. She kept the bridecake, and enclosed to the gallant captain
Gosslett's bill for the dozen of simkin that excellent firm had sent in
to wash it down wherewithal.

Bridecakes are bores to carry about from place to place, and Miss
Priest and her mother were rather birds of passage. Peliti declined to
take this particular bridecake back, for all Simla had seen it in his
window and he saw no possibility of "working it in." So the Priests,
mother and daughter, determined to realise on it in a somewhat original
and indeed cynical fashion. The cake was put up to be raffled for.

All the station took tickets for the fun of the thing. Captain
Hambleton was anxious to show that there was no ill-feeling, and did
not find himself so unhappy as he had expected--perhaps from the
_redintegratio amoris_ in another quarter; so he took his ticket in the
raffle like other people. It is needless to say that he won; and the
cake duly came back to him.

Had Captain Hambleton been a superstitious man, he might have regarded
this strange occurrence as indicating that the Fates willed it that he
should compass somehow a union with Miss Priest. But the captain had no
superstition in his nature; and, indeed, had begun to think that he was
well out of it; besides which it was currently reported that Miss
Priest had already re-engaged herself to another man. But the bridecake
was upon him as the Philistines upon Samson; and the question was, what
the devil to do with it? He could not raffle it over again; nobody
would take tickets. He had half a mind to trundle it over the _khud_
(_Anglice_, precipice) and be done with it; but then, again, he
reflected that this would be sheer waste and might seem to indicate
soreness on his part. It cost him a good many pegs before he thought
the matter out in all its bearings, for, as has been said, he was a
gunner, but as he sauntered away from the club in the small hours a
happy thought came to him.

He would give a picnic at which the bogey bridecake should figure
conspicuously, and then be laid finally by the process of demolition.
His leave was nearly up; he had experienced much hospitality and a
picnic would be a graceful and genial acknowledgment thereof. And he
would ask the Priests just like other people, and no doubt they would
enter into the spirit of the thing and not send a "decline." Bella, he
knew, liked picnics nearly as well as balls, and it must be a powerful
reason indeed that would keep her away from either.

Captain Hambleton's picnic was the last of the season, and everybody
called it the brightest. "The Glen" resounded to the laughter at
tiffin, and the shades of night were falling ere stray couples turned
up from its more sequestered recesses. Amid loud cheers Miss Priest,
although still Miss Priest, cut up her own bridecake with a serene
equanimity that proved the charming sweetness of her disposition. There
was no marriage-bell yet all went merry as a marriage-bell, which is
occasionally rather a sombre tintinnabulation; and the _débris_ of the
bridecake finally fell to the sweeper.

I would fain that it were possible, having a regard to truth, to round
off this little story prettily by telling how in a glade of "The Glen"
after the demolition of the bridecake, Miss Priest and the captain
"squared matters," were duly married and lived happily ever after, as
the story-books say. But this consummation was not attained. Miss
Priest indeed was in the glade, but it was not with the captain, or at
least this particular captain; and as for him, he spent the afternoon
placidly smoking cigarettes as he lay at the feet of his married
consoler. To the best of my knowledge Miss Priest is Miss Priest still.



A VERSION OF BALACLAVA


Referring to a particular phase of this memorable combat, Mr. Kinglake
wrote: "The question is not ripe for conclusive decision; some of those
who, as is supposed, might throw much light upon it, have hitherto
maintained silence." It was in 1868 that the fourth volume--the
Balaclava volume--of Mr. Kinglake's History was published. Since he
wrote, singularly few of those who could throw light on obscure points
of the battle have broken silence. Lord George Paget's Journal
furnished little fresh information, since Mr. Kinglake had previously
used it extensively. There is but a spark or two of new light in Sir
Edward Hamley's more recent compendium. As the years roll on the number
of survivors diminishes in an increasing ratio, nor does one hear of
anything valuable left behind by those who fall out of the thinning
ranks. The reader of the period, in default of any other authority,
betakes himself to Kinglake. There are those who term Kinglake's
volumes romance rather than history--or, more mildly, the romance of
history. But this is unjust and untrue. It would be impertinent to
speak of his style; that gift apart, his quest for accurate information
was singularly painstaking, searching, and scrupulous. Yet it cannot be
said that he was always well served. He had perforce to lean on the
statements of men who were partisans, writing as he did so near his
period that nearly all men charged with information were partisans.
British officers are not given to thrusting on a chronicler tales of
their own prowess. But _esprit de corps_ in our service is so
strong--and, spite of its incidental failings that are almost merits
what lover of his country could wish to see it weakened?--that men of
otherwise implicit veracity will strain truth, and that is a weak
phrase, to exalt the conduct of their comrades and their corps. No
doubt Mr. Kinglake occasionally suffered because of this propensity;
and, with every respect, his literary _coup d'oeil_, except as regards
the Alma where he saw for himself, and Inkerman where no _coup d'oeil_
was possible, was somewhat impaired by his having to make his picture
of battle a mosaic, each fragment contributed by a distinct actor
concentrated on his own particular bit of fighting. If ever military
history becomes a fine art we may find the intending historian, alive
to the proverb that "onlookers see most of the game," detailing capable
persons with something of the duty of the subordinate umpire of a sham
fight, to be answerable each for a given section of the field, the
historian himself acting as the correlative of the umpire-in-chief.

[Illustration: MAP OF BALACLAVA PLAIN.

EXPLANATIONS.

       *       *       *       *       *

Figures 1 to 6 indicate Redoubts.

A. Point of collision.

B. "C" Troop R.H.A.'s position during combat, in support Heavy Cavalry.

C. "C" Troop in action against fugitive Russian Cavalry about D., range
about 750 yards.

E. Lord Lucan's position watching advance of Russian Cavalry mass.

F. Position "C" Troop when approached by Cardigan and Paget after Light
Cavalry charge.

G. Position "C" Troop in support Light Cavalry charge.

H. Russian Cavalry mass advancing at trot up "North" valley.

HH. Russian Cavalry General and Staff trotting along Causeway heights,
with view into both valleys.

K. Line of Light Cavalry charge.

L. Light Brigade during Heavy Cavalry charge.

M. "I" Troop R.H.A. during ditto.

N. Lord Raglan's position (approximate).

O. Scarlett's five squadrons beginning their advance.

P. Russian Cavalry mass halted.]

It is true that the battle of Balaclava was fought to "a gallery"
consisting of the gazers who looked down into the plain from the upland
of the Chersonese. But of close and virtually independent spectators of
the battle's most thrilling episodes, so near the climax of the Heavy
Cavalry charge that they heard the clash of the sabres, so close to the
lip of the Valley of Death that they discerned the wounds of our
stricken troopers who strewed its sward and could greet and be greeted
by the broken groups that rode back out of the "mouth of hell," there
was but one small body of people. This body consisted of the officers
and men of "C" Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. "C" Troop had been
encamped from 1st October until the morning of the battle close to the
Light division, in that section of the British position known as the
Right Attack. When the fighting began in the Balaclava plain on the
morning of the 25th, it promptly started for the scene of action.
Pursuing the nearest way to the plain by the Woronzoff road, at the
point known as the "Cutting" it received an order from Lord Raglan to
take a more circuitous route, as by the more direct one it was
following it might become exposed to fire from Russian cannon on the
Fedoukine heights. Pursuing the circuitous route it came out into the
plain through the "Col" then known as the "Barrier," crossed the
"South" or "Inner" valley, and reached the left rear of Scarlett's
squadrons formed up for the Heavy Cavalry charge. Here it received an
order from Brigadier-General Strangways, who commanded the Artillery,
with which it could not comply; and thenceforward "C" Troop throughout
the day acted independently, at the discretion of its enterprising and
self-reliant commander. What it saw and what it did are recorded in a
couple of chapters of a book entitled _From Coruña to Sevastopol_.
[Footnote: _From Coruña to Sevastopol_: The History of "C" Battery, "A"
Brigade (late "C" Troop), Royal Horse Artillery. W.H. Allen and Co.]
This volume was published some years ago, but the interesting and vivid
details given in its pages of the Balaclava combats and the light it
throws on many obscure incidents of the day have been strangely
overlooked. The author of the chapters was an officer in the Troop
whose experiences he shared and describes, and is a man well known in
the service to be possessed of acute observation, strong memory, and
implicit veracity. The present writer has been favoured by this officer
with much information supplementary to that given in his published
chapters, which is embodied in the following account throughout which
the officer will be designated as "the 'C' Troop chronicler."

The "Plain of Balaclava" is divided into two distinct valleys by a low
ridge known as the "Causeway Heights," which bisects it in the
direction of its length and is everywhere easily practicable for all
arms. The valley nearest to the sea and the town of Balaclava has been
variously termed the "South" and the "Inner" valley; it was on the
slope descending to it from the ridge that our Heavy Cavalry won their
success; the valley beyond the ridge is the "North" or "Outer" valley,
down which, their faces set eastward, sped to glorious disaster the
"noble six hundred" of the Light Brigade. On the north the plain is
bounded by the Fedoukine heights; on the west by the steep face of the
Chersonese upland whereon was the allied main position before
Sevastopol during the siege; on the south by the broken ground between
the plain and the sea; on the east by the River Tchernaya and the
Kamara hills. Our weakness in the plain invited attack. At Kadiköi, on
its southern verge, Sir Colin Campbell covered Balaclava with a
Scottish regiment, a Field battery, and some Turks. Near the western
end of the South valley were the camps of the cavalry division.
Straggled along the Causeway heights was a series of weak earthworks
whose total armament consisted of nine iron guns, and among which were
distributed some six or seven battalions of Turkish infantry. At
daybreak of 25th October the Russian General Liprandi with a force of
22,000 infantry, 3300 cavalry, and 78 guns, took the offensive by
driving the Turkish garrisons out of these earthworks in succession,
beginning with the most easterly--No. 1, known as "Canrobert's Hill."
The Turks holding it fought well and stood a storm and heavy loss
before they were expelled. The other earthworks fell with less and less
resistance, and the first three, with seven out of their nine guns,
remained in the Russian possession.

During the morning, while the Russians were taking the earthworks along
the ridge, our two cavalry brigades, in the words of General Hamley,
had been manoeuvring so as to threaten the flanks of any force which
might approach Balaclava, without committing themselves to an action in
which they would have been without the support of infantry. Ultimately,
until his infantry should become available, Lord Raglan drew in the
cavalry division to a position on the left of redoubt No. 6, near the
foot of the Chersonese upland.

While it was temporarily quiescent there Liprandi was engaging in an
operation of enterprise rare in the record of Russian cavalry. General
Ryjoff at the head of a great body of horse started on an advance up
the North valley. Presently he detached four squadrons to his left,
which moved toward where Sir Colin Campbell was in position at the head
of the Kadiköi gorge, was repulsed without difficulty by that soldier's
fire, and rode back whence it had come. The main body of Russian horse,
computed by unimaginative authorities to be about 2000 strong,
continued up the valley till it was about abreast of redoubt No. 4
[Footnote: See Map.], when it halted; checked apparently, writes
Kinglake, by the fire of two guns from a battery on the edge of the
upland. The "C" Troop chronicler states that in addition to "a few"
shots fired by this battery (manned by Turks), the guns of "I" troop
R.H.A., temporarily stationed in a little hollow in front of the Light
Brigade [Footnote: See Map.], fired rapidly one round each,
"haphazard," over the high ground in their front. General Hamley
assigns no ground for the Russian halt, but mentions that just at the
moment of collision between our Heavies and the Russian mass "three
guns" on the edge of the upland were fired on the latter. From whatever
cause, the Russian cavalry wheeled obliquely to the leftward, crossed
the Causeway heights about redoubt No. 5, and began to descend the
slope of the South valley. Kinglake heard of no ground for believing
that the Russian horse thus wheeling southward, were cognisant of the
presence of the Heavies in the valley they were entering. But the "C"
Troop chronicler states that as the Troop was crossing the plain a few
Russian horsemen were seen by it trotting fast along the top of the
ridge [Footnote: See Map.], who, when almost immediately afterwards the
head of the Russian column showed itself on the skyline, were set down
as the General commanding it and his staff.

Kinglake observes that the Russians have declared their object in this
operation to have been the destruction of a non-existent artillery park
near Kadiköi, while some of our people imagined it to have been a real
attempt on Balaclava. But up the centre of the North valley was neither
the directest nor the safest way to Kadiköi, much less to Balaclava. Is
it not more probable that the enterprise was of the nature merely of a
sort of "snap-offensive"; while as yet the allied infantry visibly
pouring down the slopes of the upland were innocuous because of
distance and while the sole occupants of the plain were a couple of
weak cavalry brigades and a single horse battery? Ryjoff on the ridge
could see in his front at least portions of the Light Brigade; its fire
told him the horse battery was thereabouts too, and there were those
shots from the cannon on the upland. Is it not feasible that, looking
down on his left to Scarlett's poor six squadrons--his two following
regiments were then some distance off--and seeing those squadrons as
yet without accompanying artillery, he should have judged them his
easier quarry and ordered the wheel that should bring his avalanche
down on them?

Kinglake recounts how, while our cavalry division yet stood intact near
the foot of the upland, Lord Raglan had noticed the instability of the
Turks under Campbell's command at Kadiköi and had sent Lord Lucan
directions to move down eight squadrons of Heavies to support them; how
Scarlett started with the Inniskillings, Greys, and Fifth Dragoon
Guards, numbering six squadrons, to be followed by the two squadrons of
the Royals; how the march toward Kadiköi was proceeding along the South
valley, when all of a sudden Elliot, General Scarlett's aide-de-camp,
glancing up leftward at the ridge "saw its top fretted with lances, and
in another moment the skyline broken by evident squadrons of horse."
Then, Kinglake proceeds, Scarlett's resolve was instantaneous; he gave
the command "Left wheel into line!" and confronted the mass gathering
into sight over against him. Soon after Scarlett had started Lord Lucan
had learned of the advance up the North valley of the great mass of
Russian cavalry, which he had presently descried himself, as also its
change of direction southward across the Causeway ridge; and after
giving Lord Cardigan "parting instructions" which that officer
construed into compulsory inactivity on his part when a great
opportunity presented itself, he had galloped off at speed to overtake
Scarlett and give him directions for prompt conflict with the Russian
cavalry. Thus far Kinglake.

The testimony of the "C" Troop chronicler differs from the above
statement in every detail. He significantly points out that Kinglake
does not, as is his custom, quote the words of Lord Raglan's order
directing the march of the Heavies to Kadiköi. His averment is to the
following effect. When the cavalry division after its manoeuvring of
the morning was retiring by Lord Raglan's command along the South
valley toward the foot of the upland, it was followed as closely as
they dared by some Cossacks who busied themselves in spearing and
capturing the unfortunate Turks flying from the ridge toward Kadiköi
athwart the rear of the British squadrons. Eventually the Cossacks
reached the camp of the Light Brigade and set about stabbing and
hacking at the sick and non-effective horses left standing at the
picket-lines. Lord Raglan from his commanding position on the upland
saw those Cossacks working mischief in our lines, and sent a message to
Lord Lucan "to take some cavalry forward and protect the camp from
being destroyed." The "C" Troop chronicler has in his possession a
letter from the actual bearer of this message, to the effect that he
duly delivered it to Lord Lucan and that consequent on it his lordship
moved forward some heavy cavalry into the plain toward the
picket-lines. Testimony to be presently noted will indicate the
importance of this statement. The chronicler denies that Lord Lucan, as
Kinglake states, galloped after Scarlett after having given Lord
Cardigan his "parting instructions." No doubt he did give those
instructions, when apprised by Lord Raglan's aide-de-camp of the
threatening advance of Russian horse. But what he then did, assured as
he was of the stationary attitude of the heavy squadrons sent out to
protect the camp, was to ride forward along the ridge-line to discern
for himself where, if indeed anywhere, the Russians were intending to
strike. He most daringly remained at a forward and commanding point of
the ridge [Footnote: See Map.] until actually chased off his ground by
the van of the Russian wheel, and he then galloped straight down the
slope to join Scarlett drawing out his squadrons for the conflict with
the Russian mass whose leading files Elliot's keen eye had discerned on
the skyline.

If Kinglake were right as to his alleged movement of the Heavies toward
Kadiköi and its sudden arrestment because of Elliot's discovery, "C"
Troop, as it approached them, would have seen the squadrons still in
motion. But the chronicler testifies that "C" Troop, while moving to
the scene of action and when still more than a mile and a half distant
(at least fifteen minutes at the pace the weakened gun-teams
travelled), had a full view of the South valley. And it then saw five
squadrons of heavy cavalry thus early halted in the plain near the
cavalry picket-lines, fronting towards the ridge and apparently
perfectly dressed--the Greys (two squadrons deep) in the centre,
recognised by their bearskins; a helmeted regiment (also two squadrons
deep) on the left (afterwards known to be the 5th Dragoon Guards); and
one helmeted squadron on the right (2nd squadron Inniskillings). A
sixth squadron (1st Inniskillings) was visible some distance to the
right rear and it was also fronting towards the ridge. This force, so
and thus early positioned, consisted, avers the chronicler, of the
identical troops which Kinglake erroneously describes as straggling
hurriedly into deployment under the urgency of Scarlett and Lucan to
cope with the suddenly disclosed adversary.

When "C" Troop and its chronicler reached the rear of the formed-up
squadrons they were found in the same formation as when first observed,
but the whole had in the interval been moved somewhat to the right,
farther into the plain, with intent no doubt to be clear of obstacles
on the previous front. Kinglake speaks throughout of the force that
first charged under Scarlett--"Scarlett's three hundred," as consisting
of three squadrons ranked thus:--


  -------------------  -------------------    -------------------
       2nd squad.           lst squad.      2nd squad. Inniskillings

        \__________________________/
                    Greys.


And, although his words are not so clear as usual, he appears to
believe that the 5th Dragoon Guards, whom in his plan he places some
little distance to the left rear of the Greys, were actually the last
to move to the attack, of all the five regiments participating in the
heavy cavalry onslaught. The "C" Troop chronicler, noting details, be
it remembered, from his position immediately in rear of the cavalry
force which first charged, describes its composition and formation
thus:--


     -------------------          -------------------  -------------------
  Front squad. 5th Dr. Guards.     1st squad. Greys.        2nd squad.
                                                           Inniskillings.
     -------------------          -------------------
  Rear squad. 5th Dr. Guards.      2nd squad. Greys.


in all five squadrons, instead of Mr. Kinglake's three. Nor, according
to the chronicler, did the three squadrons in first line start
simultaneously, as Kinglake distinctly conveys. The leading squadron of
the Greys moved off first, and just as it was breaking into a gallop
was temporarily hampered by the swerving of the horse of Colonel
Griffiths, who was struck in the head by a bullet from the halted
Russians' carbine fire. Next moved, almost simultaneously, the 2nd
squadron Inniskillings and the front squadron 5th Dragoon Guards;
thirdly, the 2nd squadron Greys, and finally the rear squadron 5th
Dragoon Guards. Lord Lucan is represented as having been "personally
concerned in or approving of everything connected with the five
squadrons at this moment," galloping to each in succession, giving
orders when and in what sequence it was to start, what section of the
Russian front it was to strike, and exerting himself to the utmost to
have everything fully understood. His errors were in omitting to call
in the outlying regiments of the brigade, and either now--or earlier
before he left the ridge, specifically to order Lord Cardigan to fall
on the flank of the Russians at the moment when their front should be
_aux prises_ with Scarlett's heavy squadrons. "C" Troop's position was
such that it could command, over the heads of the stationary Heavies,
the gradual slope up to the Russian front, and every detail of the
charge was under its eyes. Scarlett's burnished helmet and plain blue
coat were conspicuous in front. The Troop also had the opportunity of
making a deliberate study of the Russian cavalry both before and during
the combat.

Its front had the appearance of three strong squadrons; its formation
was either close or quarter distance column--probably the former, since
the column could nowhere be seen through from front to rear; its depth
halted was about the same as its breadth of front; its pace across the
ridge was a sharp trot and its discipline was indicated by the
smartness with which it took ground to the left. Kinglake describes the
serried mass as encircled by a loose fringe of satellites, but the "C"
Troop chronicler saw neither skirmishers, flankers, nor scouts; and no
guns were discerned or heard, although General Hamley says that as the
huge cohort swept down batteries darted out from it and threw shells
against the troops on the upland. No Lancers were seen with the column,
certainly none with pennons. The "partial deployment" of which Kinglake
speaks, consisting of "wings or forearms" devised to cover the flanks
or fold inwards on the front, did not make itself apparent to any
observer of "C" Troop; and indeed the present writer never knew a
Russian who had heard of it, the species of formation adumbrated, so
far as he is aware, being confined to Zulu impis. It was noticed, and
this is not rare, that on the halt the centre pulled up a little
earlier than the flanks, so that the latter were somewhat prolonged and
advanced. The halt was quite brief and a slower advance ensued without
correction of the frontal dressing. Presently there was another halt
and some pistol or carbine fire from the central squadron on the
advancing first squadron of the Greys. Kinglake makes the Russian front
meet our assault halted, but the "C" Troop chronicler declares that
when the collision occurred the mass were actually moving forward but
at "a pace so slow that it could hardly be called a trot." General
Hamley describes "the impetus of the enemy's column carrying it on, and
pressing our combatants back for a short space," and the chronicler
speaks of the Russians as surging forward after the impact, but without
bearing back our people.

It is extremely difficult for the reader of a detailed narrative of a
combat that may become a landmark in the military history of a nation,
to realise that it may have been fought and finished in no longer time
than it has taken him to read the few paragraphs of introductory
matter. Mr. Kinglake has devoted a whole volume to the battle of
Balaclava, and four-fifths of it deals with the two cavalry
fights--Scarlett's charge, and the charge of the Light Brigade. The
latter deed was enacted from start to finish within the space of
five-and-twenty minutes; as regards the former, from the first
appearance of the Russian troopers on the skyline to their defeat and
flight a period of eight minutes is the outside calculation. General
Hamley, an eyewitness, says "some four or five minutes." During those
minutes "C" Troop R.H.A. under Brandling's shrewd and independent
guidance was moving slowly forward on the right of the ground that had
been covered by the charging Heavies. There was no opportunity for its
intervention while the melley lasted. Even when the Russian squadrons
broke it could not for the moment act while the redcoats were still
blended with the gray. But Brandling saw that his chance was nigh; he
galloped forward to the point marked C on the map, unlimbered, and
stood intent. Kinglake states that the fugitive Russians, hanging
together as closely as they could, retreated by the way they had come
and Hamley describes them as vanishing beyond the ridge. Kinglake also
says that "I" Troop R.H.A. (accompanying the Light Brigade) fired a few
shots at the retreating horsemen, against whom Barker's battery, from
its position near Kadiköi, also came into action. The "C" Troop
chronicler traverses those statements. His testimony is that the
Russian line of retreat was by their left rear along the slope of the
South valley, and not immediately over the ridge; that the mass was
spread over acres of ground; and that their officers were trying to
rally the men and had actually got some ranks formed, when "C" Troop
opened fire from about point C in the general direction of point D. "I"
Troop was out of sight, he says, and Barker out of range; neither came
into action; but "C" Troop, of whose presence in the field Kinglake
apparently was unaware, fired forty-nine shot and shells, broke up the
attempted rally, and punished the Russians severely. The range was
about 750 paces.

At the time when the Light Brigade started on its "mad-brained" charge
down the North valley, "C" Troop was halted dismounted on the slope of
the South valley a little below redoubt No. 5. In rear of it was the
Heavy Cavalry Brigade, halted on the scene of its recent victorious
combat. Lord Lucan was some little distance to the front. "C" Troop
presently saw him trot away over the ridge in the direction of the
Light Brigade, a scrap of paper in his hand at which he kept
looking--doubtless the memorable order which Nolan had just brought
him--and a group of staff officers, among whom was Nolan, behind him.
Out of curiosity Brandling with his trumpeter rode up to the crest,
whence he commanded a view into the North valley. By and by some of the
Heavies were moved over the crest, no doubt the Royals and Greys which
Scarlett was to lead forward in support of the Light Brigade. All was
still quiet but for an occasional shot from a Russian battery about
redoubt No. 2, when suddenly Brandling came galloping back shouting
"Mount! mount!" and telling his officers as he came in that the Light
Cavalry had begun an advance on the other side of the ridge. But that
he had happened to ride to the crest, the charge of the Light Brigade
would have begun and ended without the knowledge of "C" Troop. No order
from any source reached it, and Brandling, acting on his own
initiative, took his guns rapidly to the front along the inner edge of
the ridge and unlimbered at point G. He durst not fire into the bottom
of the North valley where our light horsemen were mixed up with the
enemy; all the diversion he could effect was to open on the Russian
cannon-smoke directly in his front, about redoubt No. 2. Even from this
he had soon to desist, being without support and threatened by the
Russian cavalry, and he retired by the way he had advanced, to point F,
where the troop halted near the Heavies, whose advance Lord Lucan had
arrested resolving that they at all events should not be destroyed.
These regiments had been moved toward the ridge out of the line of fire
in the North valley, and were kept shifting their position and
gradually retiring, suffering frequent casualties from the Russian
artillery about redoubt No. 2 until they finally halted near the crest
in the vicinity of "C" Troop's latest position at point F.

At this point only the left-hand gun of "C" Troop was on the crest,
with a view into the North valley; the other guns were on the southern
slope. But little had been previously seen of the terrible and glorious
experiences of the Light Brigade; and now what was witnessed was not
the glory but the horror of battle. For the wounded of the charge were
passing to the rear, shattered and maimed, some staggering on foot,
others reeling in their saddles, calling to the gunners and the Heavies
to look at a "poor broken leg" or a dangling arm. Brandling and his
officers held their flasks to the poor fellows' mouths as long as the
contents lasted. The "C" Troop chronicler, whose narrative I have been
following, tells how Captain Morris, who commanded the 17th Lancers,
was carried past the front of the troop towards Kadiköi, dreadfully
wounded about the head and calling loudly: "Lord, have mercy on my
soul!" Kinglake gives a wholly different account of Captain Morris's
removal from the field; but the "C" Troop chronicler is quite firm on
his version, and explains that the 17th Lancers and "C" Troop having
lain together shortly before the war all the people of the latter knew
and identified Captain Morris.

Balaclava is rather an old story now, and some readers may require to
be reminded that the Light Brigade charged in two lines, the first line
being led by Lord Cardigan, the second by Lord George Paget; that the
first line rode into the Russian batteries considerably in advance of
the second, the latter having advanced at a more measured pace; and
that the second line, with sore diminished ranks and accompanied by a
couple of groups rather than detachments of the first, came back later
than did the few survivors of Cardigan's regiments other than the
groups referred to. The aspersion on Cardigan was that he returned
prematurely, instead of remaining to share the fortunes of the second
line of his brigade, and this he did not deny. Kinglake's statement is
that "he rode back alone at a pace decorously slow, towards the spot
where Scarlett was halted." He adds that General Scarlett maintained
that Lord Lucan was present at the time; but Lord Lucan's averment was
that Lord Cardigan did not approach him until afterwards when all was
over. Kinglake relates further that when Lord George Paget came back at
the head of the last detachment, some officers rode forward to greet
him one of whom was Lord Cardigan. Seeing him approach composedly from
the rear Lord George exclaimed: "Halloa, Lord Cardigan, weren't you
there?" to which, according to one version of the story, Cardigan
replied: "Wasn't I, though? Here, Jenyns, didn't you see me at the
guns?"

The reasonable inferences from Kinglake are that Cardigan's first halt
was made and that his earliest remarks were uttered when he reached
Scarlett, and that he and Paget met after the charge for the first time
when the alleged question and answer passed.

The "C" Troop chronicler's narrative of events is right in the teeth of
these inferences. While the troop was halted at point F and after a
great many wounded and disabled men had already passed it going to the
rear, Lord Cardigan came riding by at a "quiet pace" close under the
crest. He had passed the troop on his left for several horse-lengths,
when he came back and halted within a yard or two of the left-hand gun,
the only one fairly on the crest. He was not alone, but attended by
Cornet Yates of his own old regiment the 11th Hussars, a recently
commissioned ranker. "Lord Cardigan was in the full dress _pelisse_
(buttoned) of the 11th Hussars, and he rode a chestnut horse very
distinctly marked and of grand appearance. The horse seemed to have had
enough of it, and his lordship appeared to have been knocked about but
was cool and collected. He returned his sword, undid a little of the
front of his dress and pulled down his underclothing under his
waistbelt. Then, in a quiet way, as if rather talking to himself, he
said, 'I tell you what it is: those instruments of theirs,' alluding to
the Russian weapons, 'are deuced blunt; they tickle up one's ribs!'
Then he pulled his revolver out of his holster as if the thought had
just struck him, and said, 'And here's this d----d thing I have never
thought of until now.' He then replaced it, drew his sword, and said,
'Well, we've done our share of the work!' and pointing up toward the
Chasseurs d'Afrique on our left rear (ignorant of their opportune
service), he added, 'It's time they gave those dappled gentry a
chance.' Afterwards he asked, 'Has any one seen my regiment?' The men
answered, 'No, sir.'" Brandling was holding aloof; and his lordship
turned his horse and rode away farther back.

Just then a cheer was raised by some Heavies who had lately formed in
front of "C" Troop. Cardigan, so the chronicler tells, looked backward
to see the occasion, and saw the cheer was in compliment to the 8th
Hussars coming back with Colonel Sewell in front and Colonel Mayow, the
brigade-major, behind on the left. Cardigan wheeled, trotted back
towards the 8th, turned round in front of Colonel Sewell, and took up
the "walk." Then occurred something "painful to witness. It was seen
from the left of 'C' Troop that the moment Cardigan's back was toward
the 8th as he headed them, Colonel Mayow pointed toward him, shook his
head, and made signs to the officers on the left of the Heavies as much
as to say, 'See him; he has taken care of himself.'" Men in the ranks
of the 8th also pointed and made signs to the troopers of the Heavies
as they were passing left to left. There was, as well, a little excited
undertalk from one corps to the other. Colonel Sewell neither saw nor
took part in this wretched business; and of course Cardigan did not
know that he was being thus ridiculed and disparaged while he was
smiling and raising his sword to the cheers of the Heavies and the
gunners.

Immediately after this episode the returning 4th Light Dragoons came
obliquely across the North valley at a sharp pace, but fell into the
"walk" as they came within a hundred yards of "C" Troop. Lord George
Paget, who led what remained of the regiment, rode up to the flank of
"C" Troop and halted on the very spot where Cardigan had stood a few
minutes earlier. Lord George had the look of a man who had ridden hard,
and was heated and excited. He exclaimed in rather a loud tone, "It's a
d----d shame; there we had a lot of their guns and carriages taken, and
received no support, and yet there's all this infantry about--it's a
shame!" Meanwhile Lord Cardigan had come back and was close behind Lord
George while he was speaking, without the other knowing it. He called
out, "Lord George Paget!"; and on the latter turning round said to him
in an undertone, "I am surprised!"; and "tossing his head in the air
added some other remark which was not heard." Lord George lowered his
sword to the salute, and, without speaking turned his horse and rode on
after his men. The "C" Troop chronicler is positive that both officers
visited "C" Troop before going to any general or to any other command,
and that they met there for the first time after the combat.

When Lord Raglan came down from the upland after all was over, the "C"
Troop chronicler says that he went straight for Lucan then in front of
the Heavy Cavalry brigade, having first sent for Cardigan to meet him.
After a few moments the latter repassed the troop on his way toward the
remnant of his brigade. "Then Lord Raglan took Lucan a little forward
by himself out of hearing of the group of staff officers, and his
gesticulations of head and arm were so suggestive of passionate anger,
that the onlookers did not need to be told that the Commander-in-Chief
did not charge the blame chiefly on Cardigan." Lord Raglan's subsequent
interview with General Scarlett, which occurred in the hearing of "C"
Troop, was of a different character. After complimenting the gallant
old warrior his lordship said, "Now tell me all about yourself."
Scarlett replied, "When the Russian column was moving down on me, sir,
I began by sending first a squadron of the Greys at them, and--" but at
the word "and" Lord Raglan struck in, saying, "And they knocked them
over like the devil!" He then turned his horse away, as if he did not
need to hear any more.



HOW I "SAVED FRANCE"


These be big words, my masters! I can only say they are not mine,--I am
far too modest to utter any such high-sounding phrase on my own
responsibility,--but they are the exact terms used by a high municipal
dignitary in characterising the result of what he was pleased to term
my "chivalrous conduct." My sardonic chum, on the contrary,--an
individual wholly abandoned to the ignoble vice of punning,--asserts
that my conduct was simply "barbarous." It will be for the reader to
judge.

St. Meuse--let us call it St. Meuse--is a town of what is still French
Lorraine; and to St. Meuse I came drifting up the Marne Valley, over
the flat expanse of the plain of Châlons, and by St. Menehould, the
proud stronghold of pickled pigs' feet, in the second week of September
1873. St. Meuse was one of the last of the French cities held in pawn
by the Germans for the payment of the milliards. The last instalment of
blood-money had been paid and the _Pickelhaubes_ were about to evacuate
St. Meuse as soon as the cash had been methodically counted, and after
they should have leisurely filled their baggage trains and packed their
portmanteaus. My intention in going to St. Meuse was to witness this
evacuation scene, and to be a spectator of the return of
light-heartedness to the French population of the place, on the
withdrawal of the Teuton incubus which for three years had lain upon
the safety-valve of their constitutional sprightliness. I had been a
little out of my reckoning of time, and when I reached St. Meuse I
found that I had a week to stay there before the event should occur
which I had come to witness; but the interval could not be regarded as
lost time, for St. Meuse is a very pleasant city and the conditions
which were so soon to terminate presented a most interesting field of
study.

You must know that St. Meuse is a fortress. It has a citadel or at
least such fragments of a citadel as the bombardment had left, and the
quaint old town is surrounded with bastions which are linked by
curtains and flanked by lunettes, the whole being girdled by a ditch,
beyond the counterscarp of which spreads a sloping glacis which makes a
very pleasant promenade. The defensive strength of the place is reduced
to zero in these days of far-reaching rifled siege artillery, for it
lies in a cup and is surrounded on all sides by hills the summits of
which easily command the fortifications. But the consciousness that it
is obsolete as a fortress has not yet come home to St. Meuse. It has,
in truth, a very good opinion of itself as a valorous, not to say
heroic, place; nor can it be denied that its title to this
self-complacency has been fairly earned. In the Franco-German war,
spite of its defects, it stood a siege of over two months and succumbed
only after a severe bombardment which lasted for several days. And
while as yet it was not wholly beleaguered, it was very active in
making itself disagreeable to the foreign invader. It was a patrolling
party from St. Meuse that intercepted the courier on his way from the
battlefield of Sedan to Germany, carrying the hurried lines to his wife
which the Crown Prince of Prussia scrawled on the fly-leaf of an
orderly book while as yet the last shots of the combat were dropping in
the distance; carrying too the notes of the momentous battle which
William Howard-Russell had jotted down in the heat of the action and
had taken the same opportunity of despatching. St. Meuse, then, had
balked the Princess of the first tidings of her husband's safety, and
the great English newspaper of the earliest details of the most
sensational battle of the age. It had fallen at last, but not
ingloriously; and the iron of defeat had not entered so deeply into its
soul as had been the case with some French fortresses, of which it
could not well be said that they had done their honest best to resist
their fate. Its self-respect, at least, was left to it, and it was
something to know that when the German garrison should march away, it
was bound to leave to St. Meuse the artillery and munitions of war of
the fortress just as they had been found on the day of the surrender.

I came to like St. Meuse immensely in the course of the days I spent in
it waiting for the great event of the evacuation. The company at the
_table d'hôte_ of the Trois Maures was varied and amusing. The Germans
ate in a room by themselves, so that the obnoxious element was not
present overtly at the general _table d'hôte._ But we had a few German
officials in plain clothes--clerks in General Manteuffel's bureau,
contractors, cigar merchants, etc., who spoke French even among
themselves, and were painfully polite to the French habitués who were
as painfully polite in return. There was a batch of Parisian
journalists who had come to St. Meuse to watch the evacuation, and who
wrote their letters in the café over the way to the accompaniment of
_verres_ of absinthe and bocks of beer. Then there was the gallant
captain of gendarmes, who had arrived in St. Meuse with a trusty band
of twenty-five subordinates to take over from the Germans the municipal
superintendence of the place, and, later, the occupation of the
fortress. He was the most polite man I ever knew, this captain of
gendarmes, with a clever knack of turning you outside in in the course
of half an hour's conversation, and the peculiar attribute of having,
to all appearance, eyes in the back of his head. To him, as he placidly
ate his food, there came, from time to time, quiet and rather
bashful-looking men in civilian attire of a slightly seedy description.
Sometimes they merely caught his eye and went out again without
speaking; sometimes they handed to him little notes; sometimes they
held with him a brief whispered conversation during which the captain's
nonchalance was imperturbable. These respectable individuals who, if
they saw you once in conversation with their chief, ever after bowed to
you with the greatest empressement, were members of the secret police.

As for the inhabitants of St. Meuse, they appeared to await the hour of
their delivery with considerable philosophy. Physically they are the
finest race I ever saw in France; their men, tall, square, and
muscular, their women handsome and comely. Numbers of both sexes are
fair-haired, and the sandiness of hair which we are wont to associate
with the Scottish Celt is by no means uncommon. A sardonic companion
whom I had picked up by the way, attributed those characteristics to
the fact that in the great war St. Meuse was a depôt for British
prisoners of war who had in some way contrived to imbue the native
population with some of their own physical attributes. He further
prophesied a wave of Teuton characteristics as the result of the German
occupation which was about to terminate; but his insinuations seemed to
me to partake of the scurrilous, especially as he instanced Lewes, once
a British depôt for prisoners of war, as a field in which similar
phenomena were to be discerned. But, nevertheless, I unquestionably
found a good deal of what may be called national hybridism in St.
Meuse. I used to buy photographs of a shopkeeper over whose door was
blazoned the Scottish name Macfarlane. Outwardly Macfarlane was a
"hielanman" all over. He had a shock-head of bright red hair such as
might have thatched the poll of the "Dougal cratur;" his cheek-bones
were high, his nose of the Captain of Knockdunder pattern, and his
mouth of true Celtic amplitude. One felt instinctively as if Macfarlane
were bound to know Gaelic, and that the times were out of joint when he
evinced greater fondness for _eau sucrée_ than for Talisker. It was
with quite a sense of dislocation of the fitness of things that I found
Macfarlane could talk nothing but French. But although he had torn up
the ancient landmarks, or rather suffered them to lapse, he yet was
proud of his ancestry. His grandfather, it appeared, was a soldier of
the "Black Watch" who had been a prisoner of war in St. Meuse, and who,
when the peace came, preferred taking unto himself a daughter of the
Amalekite and settling in St. Meuse, to going home to a pension of
sevenpence a day and liberty to ply as an Edinburgh caddie.

As for the German "men in possession," they pursued the even tenor of
their way in the precise yet phlegmatic German manner. Their guards
kept the gates and bridges as if they meant to hold the place till the
crack of doom, instead of being under orders to clear out within the
week. The recruits drilled on the citadel esplanade, straightening
their legs and pointing their toes as if their sole ambition in life
was to kick their feet away into space, down to the very eve of
evacuation. Their battalions practised skirmishing on the glacis with
that routine assiduity which is the secret of the German military
success. Old Manteuffel was living in the prefecture holding his levees
and giving his stiff ceremonious dinner-parties, as if he had done
despite to Dr. Cumming's warnings and taken a lease of the place. The
German officers thronged their café, each man, after the manner of
German officers, shouting at the pitch of his voice; and at the café of
the under-officers tough old _Wachtmeisters_ and grizzled sergeants
with many medals played long quiet games at cards, or knocked the balls
about on the chubby little pocketless tables with cues the tips of
which were as large as the base of a six-pounder shell.

The French journalists insisted I should accept it as an article of
faith, that these two races dwelling together in St. Meuse hated each
other like poison. They would have it that while discipline alone
prevented the Germans from massacring every Frenchman in the place, it
was only a humiliating sense of weakness that hindered the Frenchmen
from rising in hot fury against the Germans who were their temporary
masters. I am afraid the gentlemen of the Parisian press came rather to
dislike me on account of my obdurate scepticism in such matters. That
there was no great cordiality was obvious and natural. Some of the
Germans were arrogant and domineering. For instance, having a respect
for the Germans, it pained and indeed disgusted me to hear a colonel of
the German staff, in answer to my question whether the evacuating force
would march out with a rearguard as in war time, reply, "Pho, a field
gendarme with a whip is rearguard enough against such _canaille!_" But
in the mouths of Hans and Carl and Johann, the stout _Kerle_ of the
ranks, there were no such words of bitter scorn for their compulsory
hosts. The honest fellows drew water for the goodwives on whom they
were billeted, did a good deal of stolid love-making with the girls,
and nursed the babies with a solicitude that put to shame the male
parents of these youthful hopes of Troy. I take leave, as a reasonable
person, to doubt whether it can lie in the heart of a family to hate a
man who has dandled its baby and whether a man can be rancorous against
a family whose baby he has nursed. But fashion's sway is omnipotent in
emotion as in dress. Ever since the war, journalists, authors, and
public opinion generally had hammered it into the French nation that if
it were not to be a traitor to its patriotism, the first article of its
creed must be hatred against the Germans; and that the bitterer this
hate the more fervent the patriotism. It was not indeed incumbent on
Frenchmen and Frenchwomen to accept this creed, but it behoved them at
least to profess it; and it must be admitted that they did this for the
most part with an intensity and vigour which seemed to prove that with
many profession had deepened into conviction.

While as yet the evacuation had been a thing of the remote future, the
people of St. Meuse had borne the yoke lightly, and indeed had, I
believe, privily congratulated themselves on the substantial advantages
in the way of money spent in the place and the immunity from taxation
which were incidental to the foreign occupation. But as the day for the
evacuation drew closer and closer, one became dimly conscious of an
electrical condition of the social atmosphere which any trifle might
stimulate into a thunderstorm. Blouses gathered and muttered about the
street-corners, scowling at and elbowing the German soldiers as they
strode to buy sausages to stay them in the homeward march. The gamins,
always covertly insolent, no longer cloaked their insolence, and wagged
little tricolour flags under the nose of the stolid German sentry on
the Pont St. Croix. At the _table d'hôte_ the painful politeness of the
German civilians had no effect in thawing the studied coldness of the
French habitués.

As for myself, I was a neutral, and professing to take no side,
flattered myself that I could keep out of the vortex of the soreness.
Soon after my arrival at St. Meuse I had called upon the Mayor at his
official quarters in the Hôtel de Ville, and had received civil
speeches in return for civil speeches. Then I had left my card on
General Manteuffel, with whom I happened to have a previous
acquaintance; and those formal duties of a benevolent neutral having
been performed I had held myself free to choose my own company.
Circumstances had some time before brought me into familiar contact
with very many German officers, and I had imbibed a liking for their
ways and conversation, noisy as the latter is. Several of the officers
then in St. Meuse had been personal acquaintances in other days and it
was at once natural and pleasant for me to renew the intercourse. I was
made an honorary member of the mess; I spent many hours in the
officers' casino; I rode out with the officers of the squadron of
Uhlans. All this was very pleasant; but as the day of the evacuation
became close I noticed that the civility of the French captain of
gendarmes grew colder, that the cordiality of the French habitués of
the _table d'hôte_ visibly diminished, and that I encountered not a few
unfriendly looks when I walked through the streets by myself. It began
to dawn upon me that St. Meuse was getting to reckon me a German
sympathiser, and as there was no half-way house, therefore not in
accord with the emotions of France and St. Meuse.

On the afternoon immediately preceding the morning that had been fixed
for the evacuation, there came to me a polite request that I should
visit M. le Maire at the Hôtel de Ville. His worship was elaborately
civil but obviously troubled in mind. He coughed nervously several
times after the initiatory compliments had passed, and then he began to
speak. "Monsieur, you are aware that the Germans are going to-morrow
morning?"

I replied that I had cognisance of this fact. "Do you also know that
the last of the German officials depart by the 5 A.M. train, not caring
to remain here after the troops are gone?"

Of this also I was aware.

"Let me hope," continued the Mayor, "that you are going along with
them, or at all events will ride away with Messieurs the officers?"

On the contrary, was my reply, I had come not only to witness the
evacuation but to note how St. Meuse should bear herself in the hour of
her liberation; I desired to witness the rejoicings; I was not less
anxious to be a spectator of any disturbance if such unhappily should
occur. Why should M. le Maire have conceived this desire to balk my
natural curiosity?

M. le Maire was obviously not a little embarrassed; but he persevered
and was candid. This deplorable occupation was now so nearly finished
and happily, as yet, everything had been so tranquil, that it would be
a thousand pities if any untoward event should occur to detract from
the dignified attitude which the territory now to be evacuated had
maintained. It was of critical importance in every sense that St. Meuse
should not give way to riot or disorder on that occasion. He hoped and
believed it would not--here M. le Maire laid his hand on his heart--but
a spark, as I knew, fired tinder, and the St. Meuse populace were at
present figurative tinder. I might be that spark.

"You much resemble a German," said M. le Maire, "with that great yellow
beard of yours, and your broad shoulders, as if you had carried arms.
Our citizens have seen you much in the society of Messieurs the German
officers; they are not in a temper to draw fine distinctions of
nationality; and, dear sir, I ask you to go away with the Germans lest
perchance our blouses, reckoning you for a German, should not be very
tender with you when the spiked helmets are out of the place. The truth
is," said the worthy Maire with a burst of plain speaking, "I'm afraid
that you will be mobbed and that there will be a row, and that then the
Germans may come back and the evacuation be postponed, and I'll get
wigged by the Prefect and the Minister of the Interior and bully-ragged
in the newspapers, and St. Meuse will get abused and the fat will be
generally in the fire!"

Here was an awkward fix. I could not comply with the Mayor's request;
that was not to be thought of for reasons I need not mention here. I
had no particular desire to be mobbed. Once before I had experienced
the tender mercies of a French mob and I knew that they were very
cruel. But stronger than the personal feeling was my sincere sympathy
with the Mayor's critical position; and also my anxiety, by what means
might be within my power, to contribute to the maintenance of a
tranquillity so desirable. But, then, what means were within my power?
I could not go; I could not promise to stop indoors, for it was
incumbent on me to see everything that was to be seen. And if through
me trouble came I should be responsible heaven knows for what!--with a
skinful of sore bones into the bargain.

"If Monsieur cannot go,"--the Mayor broke in upon my cogitation,--"if
Monsieur cannot go, will he pardon the exigency of the occasion if I
suggest one other alternative? It is,"--here the Mayor hesitated--"it
is the yellow beard which gives to Monsieur the aspect of a German.
With only whiskers nobody could take Monsieur for anything but an
Englishman. If Monsieur would only have the complaisance and charity
to--to--"

Cut off my beard! Great powers! shear that mane that had been growing
for years!--that cataract of hair that has been, so to speak, my
oriflamme; the only physical belonging of which I ever was proud, the
only thing, so far as I know, that I have ever been envied! For the
moment the suggestion knocked me all of a heap. There came into my head
some confused reminiscence of a story about a girl who cut off her hair
and sold it to keep her mother from starving, or redeem her lover from
captivity, or something of the kind. But that must have been before the
epoch of parish relief, and kidnapping is now punishable by statute.
What was St. Meuse to me that for her I should mow my hirsute glories?
But then, if people grew savage, they might pull my beard out by the
roots. And there had been lately dawning on me the dire truth that its
tawny hue was becoming somewhat freely streaked with gray, a colour I
abhor, except in eyes. I made up my mind.

"I'll do it, sir," said I to the Mayor, with a manly curtness. My heart
was too full for many words.

He respected my emotion, bowed in silence over the hand which he had
grasped, and only spoke to give me the address of his own barber.

This barber was a patriot of unquestioned zeal; but I am inclined to
think his extraction was similar to that of Macfarlane, for he combined
patriotism with profit in a most edifying manner. He shaved the German
officers during the whole of their stay in St. Meuse; he accompanied
them on their march to the frontier; he earned the last centime in
Conflans; and then, driving forward to the frontier line, he unfurled
the tricolour as the last German soldier stepped over it. It is seldom
that one in this world sees his way to being so adroitly ambidextrous.

But this is a digression. In twenty minutes, shorn and shaven, I was
back again in the Mayor's parlour. The tears of gratitude stood in his
eyes. I learned afterwards that a decoration was contingent on his
preservation of the public peace on the occasion of the evacuation.

Started by the Mayor, the report rapidly circulated through St. Meuse
that I had cut off my beard rather than that it should be possible that
any one should mistake me for a German. From being a suspect I became a
popular idol. The French journalists entertained me to a banquet at
night at which in libations of champagne eternal amity between France
and England was pledged. Next morning the Germans went away and then
St. Meuse kicked up its heels and burst into exuberant joy. The Mayor
took me up to the station in his own carriage to meet the French
troops, and introduced me to the colonel of the battalion as a man who
had made sacrifices for _la belle France_. The colonel shook me
cordially by the hand and I was embraced by the robust vivandière, who
struck me as being in the practice of sustaining life on a diet of
garlic. When we emerged from the station I was cheered almost as loudly
as was the colonel, and a man waved a tricolour over my head all the
way back to the town, treading at frequent intervals on my heels. In
the course of the afternoon I happened to approach the civic band which
was performing patriotic music in the Place St. Croix. When the
bandmaster saw me he broke off the programme and struck up "Rule
Britannia!" in my honour, to the clamorous joy of the audience, who
were thwarted in their aim of carrying me round the Place shoulder-high
only by the constancy with which I clung to the railings which surround
Chevert's statue. But the crowning recognition of my sacrifice came at
the banquet which the town gave to the French officers. The Mayor
proposed the toast of "our English friend." "We had all," he said,
"made sacrifices for _la Patrie_--he himself had sustained the loss of
a wooden outhouse burned down in the bombardment; the gallant colonel
on his right had spilt his blood at St. Privat. Them it behoved to
suffer and they would do it again cheerfully, for it was, as he had
said, for _la Patrie_. But what was to be said of an honourable
gentleman who had sacrificed the most distinguishing ornament of his
physical aspect without the holy stimulus of patriotism, and simply
that there might be obviated the risk of an embroilment to the possible
consequence of which he would not further allude? Would it be called
the language of extravagant hyperbole, or would they not rather be
words justified by facts, when he ventured before this honourable
company to assert that his respected English friend had by his
self-sacrifice saved France from a great peril?" The Mayor's question
was replied to by a perfect whirlwind of cheering. Everybody in the
room insisted upon shaking hands with me and I was forced to get on my
legs and make a reply. Later in the evening I heard the Mayor and the
town clerk discussing the project of conferring upon me the freedom of
the city.



CHRISTMAS IN A CAVALRY REGIMENT

1875


The civilian world, even that portion of it which lives by the
profusest sweat of its brow, enjoys an occasional holiday in the course
of the year besides Christmas Day. Good Friday brings to most an
enforced cessation from toil. Easter and Whitsuntide are recognised
seasons of pleasure in most grades of the civilian community. There are
few who do not compass somehow an occasional Derby day; and we may
safely aver that the amount of work done on New Year's Day is not very
great. But in all the year the soldier has but one real holiday--a
holiday with all the glorious accompaniments of unwonted varieties of
dainties and full liberty to be as jolly as he pleases without fear of
the consequences. True, the individual soldier may have his day's
leave, nay, his month's furlough; but his enjoyments resulting
therefrom are not realised in the atmosphere of the barrack-room, but
rather have their origin in the abandonment for the nonce of his
military character and a _pro tempore_ return into civilian life.
Christmas Day is the great regimental merry-making, free to and
appreciated by the veteran and the recruit alike; and as such it is
looked forward to for many a month prior to its advent and talked of
many a day after it is past and gone.

About a month before Christmas the observer skilled in the signs of the
times may begin to notice the tokens of its approach. Self-deniant
fellows, men who can trust themselves to carry a few shillings about
with them without experiencing a chronic sensation that the accumulated
pelf is burning a hole in their pockets, busy themselves in
constructing "dimmocking bags" for the occasion, such being the
barrack-room term for receptacles for money-hoarding purposes. The weak
vessels, those who mistrust their own constancy under the varied
temptations of dry throats, empty stomachs, and a scant allowance of
tobacco, manage to cheat their fragility of "saving grace" by
requesting their sergeant-major to put them "on the peg,"--that is to
say, place them under stoppages, so that the accumulation takes place
in his hands and cannot be dissipated by any premature weaknesses of
the flesh. Everybody becomes of a sudden astonishingly sober and
steady. There is hardly any going out of barracks now; for a walk
involves the expenditure of at least "the price of a pint," and in the
circumstances this extravagance is not allowable. The guard-room is
unwontedly empty--nobody except the utterly reckless will get into
trouble just now; for punishment at this season involves the forfeiture
of certain privileges and the incurring of certain penalties--the
former specially prized, the latter exceptionally disgusting at this
Christmas season.

Slowly the days roll on with anxious expectancy, the coming event
forming the one engrossing topic of conversation alike in barrack-room,
in stable, in canteen, and in guard-room. The clever hands of the troop
are deep in devising a series of ornamentations for the walls and roof
of the common habitation. One fellow spends all his spare time on the
top of a table with a bed on top of that again, embellishing the wall
above the fireplace with a florid design in a variety of colours meant
to be an exact copy of the device on the regiment's kettledrums, with
the addition of the legend, "A Merry Christmas to the old Straw-boots,"
inscribed on a waving scroll below. The skill of another decorator is
directed to the clipping of sundry squares of coloured paper into
wondrous forms--Prince of Wales's feathers, gorgeous festoons, and the
like--with which the gas pendants and the edges of the window-frames
are disguised out of their original nakedness and hardness of outline,
so as to be almost unrecognisable by the eye of the matter-of-fact
barrack-master himself. What is this felonious-looking band up
to--these four determined rascals in the forbidden high-lows and stable
overalls who go slinking mysteriously out at the back gate just at the
gloaming? Are they Fenian sympathisers bound for a secret meeting, or
are they deserters making off just at the time when there is the least
likelihood of suspicion? Nay, they are neither; but, nevertheless,
their errand is a nefarious one. Watch at the gate for an hour and you
will see them come back again each man laden with the spoils of the
shrubberies--holly, mistletoe, and evergreens--ruthlessly plundered
under cover of the darkness. A couple of days before "the day," the
sergeant-major enters the barrack-room, a smile playing upon his
rubicund features. We all know what his errand is and he knows right
well that we do; but he cannot refrain from the customary short
patronising harangue, "Our worthy captain--liberal gent you
know--deputed me--what you like for dinner--plum-puddings, of course--a
quart of beer a man; make up your minds what you'll have--anything but
game and venison;" and so he vanishes grinning a saturnine grin. The
moment is a critical one. We ought to be unanimous. What shall we have?
A council of deliberation is constituted on the spot and proceeds to
the discussion of the weighty question. The suggestions are not
numerous. The alternative lies between pork and goose. The old
soldiers, for some inscrutable reason, go for goose to a man. The
recruits have a carnal craving after the flesh of the pig. I did once
hear a "carpet-bag" recruit[1] hesitatingly broach the idea of mutton,
but he collapsed ignominiously under the concentrated stare of
righteous indignation with which his heterodox suggestion was received.
Goose versus pork is eagerly debated. As regards quantity the question
is a level one, since the allowance from time immemorial has been a
goose or a leg of pork among three men.

[Footnote 1: "Carpet-bag" recruit is the barrack-room appellation of
contempt for the young gentleman recruit who joins his regiment
_omnibus impedimentis_--who, in fact, brings his baggage with him, to
find it, of course, utterly useless.]

At length the point is decided during the evening stable-hour,
according as old or young soldiers predominate in the room. The
sergeant-major is informed of the conclusion arrived at, and in the
evening the corporal of each room accompanies him on a marketing
expedition into the town. Another important duty devolves upon the said
corporal in the course of this marketing tour. The "dimmocking bags"
have been emptied; the accumulations in the sergeant-major's hands have
been drawn, and the corporal, freighted with the joint savings, has the
task of expending the same in beer. In this undertaking he manifests a
preternatural astuteness. He is not to be inveigled into giving his
order at a public-house,--swipes from the canteen would do as well as
that,--nor do the bottled-beer merchants tempt him with their high
prices for dubious quality. No, he goes direct to the fountain-head. If
there be a brewery in the place he finds it out and bestows his order
upon it, thus triumphantly securing the pure article at the wholesale
price. His purchasing calculation is upon the basis of two gallons per
man. If, as is generally the case, the barrack-room he represents
contains twelve men, he orders a twenty-four gallon barrel of
porter--always porter; and if he has a surplus left he disburses it in
the purchase of a bottle or two of spirits, for the behoof of any fair
visitors who may haply honour the barrack-room with their presence.

It is Christmas Eve. The evening stable-hour is over and all hands are
merrily engaged in the composition of the puddings; some stoning fruit,
others chopping suet, beating eggs, and so forth. The barrel of beer is
in the corner but it is sacred as the honour of the regiment! Nothing
would induce the expectant participants in its contents to broach it
before its appointed time shall come. So there is beer instead from the
canteen in the tin pails of the barrack-room, and the work of
pudding-compounding goes on jovially to the accompaniments of song and
jest. Now, there is a fear lest too many fingers in the pudding may
spoil it--lest a multitude of counsellors as to the proportions of
ingredients and the process of mixing may be productive of the reverse
of safety. But somehow a man with a specialty is always forthcoming,
and that specialty is pudding-making. Most likely he has been the butt
of the room--a quiet, quaint, retiring, awkward fellow who seemed as if
he never could do anything right. But he has lit upon his vocation at
last--he is a born pudding-maker. He rises with the occasion, and the
sheepish "gaby" becomes the knowing practical man; his is now the voice
of authority, and his comrades recant on the spot, acknowledge his
superiority without a murmur, and perform "ko-tow" before the once
despised man of undeveloped abilities. They pull out their clean towels
with alacrity in response to his demand for pudding-cloths; they run to
the canteen enthusiastically for a further supply on a hint from him
that there is a deficiency in the ingredient of allspice. And then he
artistically gathers together the corners of the cloths and ties up the
puddings tightly and securely; whereupon a procession is formed to
escort them into the cook-house, and there, having consigned them into
the depths of the mighty copper, the "man of the time" remains watching
the caldron bubble until morning, a great jorum of beer at his elbow
the ready contribution of his now appreciative comrades.

The hours roll on; and at length out into the darkness of the
barrack-square stalks the trumpeter on duty, and the shrill notes of
the _réveille_ echo through the stillness of the yet dark night. On an
ordinary morning the _réveille_ is practically negatived, and nobody
thinks of stirring from between the blankets till the "warning" sounds
quarter of an hour before the morning stable-time. But on this morning
there is no slothful skulking in the arms of Morpheus. Every one jumps
up, as if galvanised, at the first note of the _réveille_. For the
fulfilment of a time-honoured custom is looked forward to--a remnant of
the old days when the "women" lived in the corner of the barrack-room.
The soldier's wife who has the cleaning of the room and who does the
washing of its inmates--for which services each man pays her a penny a
day, has from time immemorial taken upon herself the duty of bestowing
a "morning" on the Christmas anniversary upon the men she "does for."
Accordingly, about a quarter to six, she enters the room--a
hard-featured, rough-voiced dame, perhaps, with a fist like a shoulder
of mutton, but a soldier herself to the very core and with a big,
tender heart somewhere about her. She carries a bottle of whisky--it is
always whisky, somehow--in one hand and a glass in the other; and,
beginning with the oldest soldier administers a calker to every one in
the room till she comes to the "cruity," upon whom, if he be a
pullet-faced, homesick, bit of a lad, she may bestow a maternal salute
in addition, with the advice to consider the regiment as his mother
now, and be a smart soldier and a good lad.

Breakfast is not an institution in any great acceptation in a cavalry
regiment on Christmas morning. When the stable-hour is over a great
many of the troopers do not immediately reappear in the barrack-room.
Indeed they do not turn up until long after the coffee is cold; and,
when they do return there is a certain something about them which, to
the experienced observer, demonstrates the fact that, if they have been
thirsty, they have not been quenching their drought at the pump. It is
a standing puzzle to the uninitiated where the soldier in barracks
contrives to obtain drink of a morning. The canteen is rigorously
closed. No one is allowed to go out of barracks and no drink is allowed
to come in. A teetotallers' meeting-hall could not appear more rigidly
devoid of opportunities for indulgence than does a barrack during the
morning. Yet I will venture to say, if you go into any barrack in the
three kingdoms, accost any soldier who is not a raw recruit, and offer
to pay for a pot of beer, that you will have an instant opportunity
afforded you of putting your free-handed design into execution any time
after 7 A.M. I don't think it would be exactly grateful in me to
"split" upon the spots where a drop can be obtained in season; many a
time has my parched throat been thankful for the cooling surreptitious
draught and I refuse to turn upon a benefactor in a dirty way.
Therefore suffice it to say that many a bold dragoon when he re-enters
the barrack-room to get ready for church parade, has a wateriness about
the eye and a knottiness in the tongue which tell of something stronger
than the matutinal coffee. Indeed, when the trumpet sounds which calls
the regiment to assemble on the parade-ground, there is dire misgiving
in the mind of many a stalwart fellow, who is conscious that his face,
as well as his speech, "berayeth him." But the lynx-eyed men in
authority who another time would be down on a stagger like a
card-player on the odd trick and read a flushed face as a passport to
the guard-room, are genially blind this morning; and so long as a man
possesses the capacity of looking moderately straight to his own front
and of going right-about without a flagrant lurch, he is not looked at
in a critical spirit on the Christmas church parade. And so the
regiment marches off to church, the band playing merrily in its front.
I much fear there is no very abiding sense in the bosoms of the
majority of the sacred errand on which they are bound.

But there are two of the inmates of each room who do not go to church.
The clever pudding-maker and a sub of his selection are left to cook
the Christmas dinner. This, as regards the exceptional dainties, is
done at the barrack-room fire, the cook-house being in use only for the
now despised ration meat and for the still simmering puddings. The
handy man cunningly improvises a roasting-jack, and erects a screen
consisting of bed-quilts spread on a frame of upright forms, for the
purpose of retaining and throwing back the heat. He is a most versatile
genius, this handy man. Now we see him in the double character of cook
and salamander, and anon he develops a special faculty as a clever
table-decorator as well. This latter qualification asserts itself in
the face of difficulties which would be utterly discomfiting to one of
less fertility of resource. There is, indeed, a large expanse of table
in every barrack-room; but the War Department has not yet thought
proper to consider private soldiers worthy to enjoy the luxury of
table-linen. Yet bare boards at a Christmas feast are horribly
offensive to the eye of taste. Something must be done; something has
already been done. Ever since the last issue of clean sheets, one or
two whole-souled fellows have magnanimously abjured these luxuries _pro
bono publico_. Spartan-like they have lain in blankets, and saved their
sheets in their pristine cleanliness wherewithal to cover the Christmas
table. So now these are brought forth, not snow-white certainly, nor of
a damask texture, being indeed somewhat sackclothy in their appearance,
but still they are immeasurably in advance of the bare boards; and when
the covers are laid, with each man's best knife and fork, with a little
additional crockery-ware borrowed of a beneficent married woman and
with the dainty sprigs of evergreen stuck on every available coign, the
effect is triumphantly enlivening.

By the time these preparations are complete the men are back from
church; and after a brief attendance at stables to water and feed they
assemble fully dressed in the barrack-room, hungrily silent. The
captain enters the room and _pro formâ_ asks whether there are "any
complaints?" A chorus of "No, sir," is his reply; and then the oldest
soldier in the room with profuse blushing and stammering takes up the
running, thanks the officer kindly in the name of his comrades for his
generosity, and wishes him a "Happy Christmas and many of 'em" in
return. Under cover of the responsive cheer the captain makes his
escape, and a deputation visits the sergeant-major's quarters to fetch
the allowance of beer which forms part of the treat. Then all fall to
and eat! Ye gods, how they eat! Let the man who affirmed before the
Recruiting Commission that the present scale of military rations was
liberal enough show himself now, and then for ever hide his head! The
troopers seem to have become sudden converts to Carlyle's theory on the
eloquence of silence. It reigns supreme, broken only by the rattle of
knives and forks and by an occasional gurgle indicative of a man
judiciously stratifying the solids and liquids, for a space of about
twenty minutes, by which time--be the fare goose or pork--it is,
barring the bones, only "a memory of the past." The puddings, turned
out of the towels in which they have been boiled, then undergo the
brunt of a fierce assault; but the edge of appetite has been blunted by
the first course and with most of the men a modicum of pudding goes on
the shelf for supper. The soldier is very sensitive on the subject of
his Christmas pudding. I remember once seeing a cook put on the table
and formally "strapped" for allowing the pudding to stick to the bottom
of the pot for lack of stirring.

At length dinner is over. Beds are drawn up from the sides of the room
so as to form a wide circle of divans round the fire, and the big
barrel's time has come at last. A clever hand whips out the bung, draws
a pailful, and reinserts the bung till another pailful is wanted, which
will be very soon. The pail is placed upon the hearthstone and its
contents are decanted into the pint basins, which do duty in the
barrack-room for all purposes from containing coffee and soup to mixing
chrome-yellow and pipe-clay water. The married soldiers come dropping
in with their wives, for whom the corporal has a special drop of
"something short" stowed in reserve on the shelf behind his kit. A song
is called for; another follows, and yet another and another. Now it is
matter of notice that the songs of soldiers are never of the modern
music-hall type. You might go into a hundred barrack-rooms or soldier's
haunts and never hear such a ditty as "Champagne Charley" or "Not for
Joseph." The soldier takes especial delight in songs of the sentimental
pattern; and even when for a brief period he forsakes the region of
sentiment, it is not to indulge in the outrageously comic but to give
vent to such sturdy bacchanalian outpourings as the "Good Rhine Wine,"
"Old John Barleycorn," and "Simon the Cellarer." But these are only
interludes. "The Soldier's Tear," "The White Squall," "There came a
Tale to England," "Ben Bolt," "Shells of the Ocean," and other melodies
of a lugubrious type, are the special favourites of the barrack-room. I
remember once hearing a cockney recruit attempt "The Perfect Cure" with
its accompanying gymnastic efforts; but he was I not appreciated, and
indeed, I think broke down in the middle for want of encouragement.

Songs and beer form the staple of the afternoon's enjoyment,
intermingled with quiet chat consisting generally of reminiscences of
bygone Christmases. Here and there a couple get together who are
"townies," i.e. natives of the same district; and there is a good deal
of undemonstrative feeling in the way they talk of the scenes and folks
of boyhood. There is no speechifying. Your soldier is not an oratorical
animal. Not but what he heartily enjoys a speech; but he somehow cannot
make one, or will not try. I remember me, indeed, of a certain quiet
Scotsman who one Christmastime being urgently pressed to sing and being
unblessed with a tuneful voice, volunteered in utter desperation a
speech instead. He referred in feeling language to the various
troop-mates who had left us since the preceding Christmas, made a
touching allusion to the happy home circle in which the Christmases of
our boyhood had been spent, referred to the manner in which the old
"Strawboots" had cut their way to glory through the dense masses of
Russian horsemen on the hillside of Balaclava, and wound up
appropriately by proposing the toast of "our noble selves." He created
an immense sensation, was vociferously applauded, and, indeed, was the
hero of the hour; but ere next Christmas he was among the "have beens"
himself, and his mantle not having devolved upon any successor we had
to content ourselves with the songs and the beer.

It is a lucky thing for a good many that there is no roll-call at the
Christmas evening stable-hour. The non-commissioned officers mercifully
limit their requirements to seeing the horses watered and bedded down
by the most presentable of the roisterers, whose desperate efforts to
simulate abject sobriety in order to establish their claim for
strong-headedness are very comical to witness. It has often been matter
of wonderment to me how the orders for the following day which are
"read out" at the evening stable-hour, are realised on Christmas
evening with clearness sufficient to ensure their being complied with
next day without a hitch; but the truth is that, as we shall presently
see, a certain order of things for the morning after Christmas has
become stereotyped.

This interruption of the evening stable-hour over the circle re-forms
round the fire, and the cask finally becomes a "dead marine." The cap
is then sent round for contributions towards a further instalment of
the foundation of conviviality, which is fetched from the canteen or
the sergeant's mess; and another and yet another supply is sent for, as
long as the funds hold out and somebody keeps sober enough to act as
Ganymede. The orderly sergeant is not very particular to-night about
his watch-setting report, for he knows that not many have the physical
ability to be absent if they were ever so eager. And so the lights go
out; the sun of the dragoon may be said to set in beer and he is left
to do his best to sleep himself sober. For in the morning the reins of
discipline are tightened again. The man who is foolish enough to
revivify the drink which "is dying out in him" by a refresher is apt to
find himself an inmate of the black-hole on very scant warning.
Headaches and thirst are curiously rife, and the consumption of
"fizzers"--a temperance beverage of an effervescent character vended by
an individual with the profoundest trust in human nature on the subject
of deferred payments--is extensive enough to convert the regiment into
a series of walking reservoirs of carbonic acid gas. The authorities
display a demoniacal ingenuity in working the beer out of the system of
the dragoon. The morning duty on the day following Christmas is
invariably "watering order with numnahs," the numnah being a felt
saddle-cloth without stirrups. Every man without exception rides
out--no dodging is permitted--and the moment the malicious fiend of an
orderly officer gets clear of the barracks he gives the word "Trot!"
Six miles of it without a break is the set allowance; and it beats
vinegar, pickles, tea smoked in a tobacco-pipe, or any other nostrum,
as an effectual generator of sobriety. Six miles at the full trot
without stirrups on a rough horse I can conscientiously recommend to
the inebriated gentleman who fears to encounter a justly irate wife at
two in the morning. I wont answer for the integrity of his cuticle when
it is over; but I will stake my existence on the abject profundity of
his sobriety. The process would extract the alcohol from a cask of
spirits of wine, let alone dispel an average skinful of beer.

And thus evaporates the last vestige of the dragoon's Christmas
festivity. It may be urged that the enjoyments of which I have
endeavoured to give a faithful narrative are gross and have no
elevating tendency. I fear the men of the spur and sabre must bow to
the justice of the criticism; and I know of nothing to advance in
mitigation save the old Scotch proverb: "It is ill to mak' a silk purse
out o' a sow's ear."



THE MYSTERY OF MONSIEUR REGNIER


In these modern days men live fast and forget fast; yet, since it was
barely twenty-six years ago, numbers among us must still vividly
remember the lurid autumn of 1870. Eastern and Northern France had been
deluged with French and German blood. During the month of fighting from
the 2nd of August to the 1st of September the regular armies of France
had suffered defeat on defeat, and were now blockaded in Metz or were
tramping from the catastrophe of Sedan to captivity in Germany. The
Empire in France had fallen like a house of cards; Napoleon the Third
was a prisoner of war in Cassel; the Empress and the ill-fated Prince
Imperial were forlorn exiles in England. To the Empire had succeeded,
at not even a day's notice--for in France a revolution is ever a
summary operation--the Government of National Defence with the
watchword of "War to the bitter end" rather than cede a foot of
territory or one stone of a fortress. The Germans made no delay. The
blood-tint had scarcely faded out of the waters of the Meuse, the
unburied dead of Sedan yet festered in the sun-heat, and the blackened
ruins of Bazeilles still smoked and stank, when their heads of columns
set forth on the march to Paris. The troops were full of ardour; but in
the Royal headquarters there was not a little disquietude. The old King
made a long stay in the old cathedral city of Rheims, while men all
over Europe were asking each other whether the catastrophe of Sedan had
not virtually ended the war and were hoping for the white dove of peace
to alight on the blood-stained land. But that happy consummation was
not yet to be. When King Wilhelm crossed the frontier he had proclaimed
that he warred not with the French nation but with its ruler. That
ruler was now his prisoner; but Wilhelm had for adversary now the
French nation, because it had taken up the quarrel which might have
gone with the _Déchéance_ and in effect had made it its own. In the
absence of overtures there was no alternative but to march on Paris.

But Bismarck, although he carried a blithe front, was far from
comfortable. He would fain have had peace--always on his own terms; but
the question with him was with whom could he negotiate, capable, in the
existing confusion, of furnishing adequate guarantees for the
fulfilment of conditions? That requisite he could not discern in the
self-constituted body which styled itself the Government of National
Defence, but of which he spoke as "the gentlemen of the pavement." He
had all the monarchical dislike and distrust of a republic, and before
the German army had invested Paris he already had begun to ponder as to
the possibility of reinstating the dethroned dynasty. Possibly indeed,
he had already felt the pulse of Marshal Bazaine on this subject.

It was on the 23rd of September when the Royal headquarters was at
Ferrières, Baron Rothschild's château on the east of Paris, that there
either presented himself to Bismarck an intriguant, or that the
Chancellor evoked for himself an instrument for whom the way was made
open to penetrate the beleaguerment of Metz and submit to Bazaine
certain considerations. In connection with this mission we heard a good
deal at the time of a mysterious "Mons. M." and an equally mysterious
"Mons. N." Both were myths: "M." and "N." were alike pseudonyms of the
real go-between, a certain Edmond Regnier who died in Paris on the 23rd
of January 1894, after a strange and varied career of which the episode
to be detailed in this article is the most remarkable. In a now very
rare pamphlet published by Regnier in November 1870, he describes
himself as a French landed proprietor with financial interests in
England yielding him an income of £800 per annum, and as having come to
England with his family in the end of August of that year in
consequence of the proximity of German troops to his French residence.
The painstaking compilers of the indictment against Bazaine give rather
a different account of the character and antecedents of M. Regnier.
Their information is that he received an imperfect education,
sufficiently proven by his extraordinary style and vicious orthography.
He studied, with little progress, law and medicine; later he took up
magnetism. He was curiously mixed up in the events of the revolution of
1848. He had some employment in Algeria as an assistant surgeon.
Returning to France he developed a quarry of paving-stone, and
afterwards married in England a wife who brought him a certain
competence. "Regnier," continues the Report, "is a sharp, audacious
fellow; his manners are vulgar--vain to excess he considers himself a
profound politician. Was he induced to throw himself into the midst of
events by one of the monomanias which are engendered by periods of
storm and revolution? Was he simply an intriguer, plying his trade? It
is difficult to tell. But however that may be, the established fact is
that we find him in England in September 1870 besieging with his
projects the _entourage_ of the Empress."

Regnier's siege of the forlorn colony at Hastings took the form of a
bombardment of letters, his principal victim being Madame Le Breton,
the lady-in-waiting of the Empress and the sister of the unfortunate
General Bourbaki, then in command of the Imperial Guard at Metz. He was
about to have his passport viséd by the German Ambassador in London,
rather an equivocal proceeding for a French subject; and on the 12th of
September he wrote thus to Madame Le Breton, desiring that the letter
should be communicated to Her Majesty:--


The Ambassador in London of the North German Confederation may possibly
say, "I think the King of Prussia would prefer treating for peace with
the Imperial Government rather than with the Republic." If so, I shall
start to-morrow for Wilhelmshöhe, after having paid a visit to the
Empress. The following are the propositions I intend to submit to the
Emperor: (1) That the Empress-Regent ought not to quit French
territory; (2) That the Imperial fleet _is_ French territory; (3) That
the fleet which greeted Her Majesty so enthusiastically on its
departure for the Baltic, or at least a portion of it, however small,
be taken by the Regent for her seat of government, thus enabling her to
go from one to another of the French ports where she can count upon the
largest number of adherents, and so prove that her government exists
both _de facto_ and _de jure_. Further, that the Empress-Regent issue
from the fleet four proclamations--viz. to foreign governments, to the
fleet, to the army, and to the French people.


It will suffice to quote two of those suggested proclamations:--


To foreign governments! To firmly insist upon the fact that the
Imperial Government is the _actual_ government, as it is the government
by right. To the fleet! That just as the Emperor remained to the last
in the midst of his army, sharing the chances of war, so also does the
Regent, the only executive power legally existing, come with gladness
to trust her political fortune to the Imperial fleet.


There followed a voluminous screed of irrelevant dissertation.

Regnier confessedly made no way with the Empress. He saw, indeed,
Madame Le Breton on the 14th, but only to be told, in language worthy
of a patriot sovereign, that "Her Majesty's feeling was that the
interests of France should take precedence of those of the dynasty;
that she would rather do nothing than incur the suspicion of having
acted from an undue regard for dynastic interests, and that she has the
greatest horror of any step likely to bring about a civil war." Those
high-souled expressions ought to have given definite pause to Regnier's
importunity; but that busybody was indefatigable. A second letter to
Madame Le Breton for the Empress simply elicited from the gentlemen of
her suite the information that Her Majesty, having read his
communications, had expressed the greatest horror of anything
approaching a civil war. A final letter from him, containing the
following significant passage:--


I myself, or some other person, ought already to have been secretly and
confidentially in communication with M. de Bismarck; our conditions for
peace must be more acceptable than those to which the _soi-disant_
Republican Government may have agreed; every action of theirs ought to
be turned to our advantage--we ourselves must _act_,


evoked the ultimatum that "the Empress would not stir in the matter."
Regnier then said that as he found no encouragement at Hastings he
would probably go to Wilhelmshöhe, where he would perhaps be better
understood; and he produced a photographic view of Hastings on which he
begged that the Prince Imperial would write a line to his father. On
the following morning the Prince's equerry returned him the
photographic view at the foot of which were the simple and affectionate
words: "Mon cher Papa, je vous envoie ces vues d'Hastings; j'espère
qu'elles vous plairont. Louis-Napoléon." I am personally familiar with
the late Prince Imperial's handwriting and readily recognise it in this
brief sentence. Regnier averred that it was with Her Majesty's consent
that this paper was given him; but admitted that he was told she added:
"Tell M. Regnier that there must be great danger in carrying out his
project, and that I beg him not to attempt its execution." In other
words, the Empress was willing that he should visit the Emperor at
Cassel, authenticating him thus far by the Prince Imperial's little
note; but she put her veto on his undertaking intrigues detrimental to
the interests of France.

Regnier by no means took the road for Wilhelmshöhe. At 7 P.M. of Sunday
the 18th he read in the special _Observer_ that Jules Favre was next
day to have an interview with Bismarck at Meaux. Eager to anticipate
the Republican Foreign Minister he promptly took the night train for
Paris. No trains were running beyond Amiens and he did not reach Meaux
until midnight of the 19th, to learn that Bismarck and the headquarters
had that day gone to Ferrières. At 10 A.M. of the 20th he reached that
château and appealed to Count Hatzfeld, now German Ambassador in
London, for an immediate interview with Bismarck, stating that he had
come direct from Hastings. He was informed that the Chancellor had an
appointment with Jules Favre at eleven and that it was improbable he
could be received in advance. But Bismarck having been apprised of his
arrival the fortunate Regnier was immediately ushered into his
presence. Regnier congratulates himself on having anticipated the
French Minister, ignorant of the circumstance that on the previous day
the latter had two interviews with Bismarck and that their then
impending interview was simply for the purpose of communicating to
Favre the German King's final answer to the French proposals.

Regnier says that he drew from his portfolio the photograph of Hastings
with the Prince Imperial's little note to his father at its foot and
handed the paper in silence to Bismarck; and that after the latter had
looked at it for some moments, Regnier said, "I come, Count, to ask you
to grant me a pass which will permit me to go to Wilhelmshöhe and give
this autograph into the Emperor's hands." Why he should have applied to
Bismarck for this is not apparent, since he might have gone direct from
Hastings to Wilhelmshöhe without any necessity for invoking the
Chancellor's offices. It seems extremely probable that the request for
a pass was a mere pretext to gain an interview, and the more so since
Bismarck made no allusion to the subject, but after a few moments,
according to Regnier, addressed that person as follows:--


Sir, our position is before you; what can you offer us? with whom can
we treat? Our determination is fixed so to profit by our present
position as to render impossible for the future any war against us on
the part of France. To effect this object, an alteration of the French
frontier is indispensable. In the presence of two governments--the one
_de facto_, the other _de jure_--it is difficult, if not impossible, to
treat with either. The Empress-Regent has quitted French territory, and
since then has given no sign. The Provisional Government in Paris
refuses to accept this condition of diminution of territory, but
proposes an armistice in order to consult the French nation on the
subject. We can afford to wait. When we find ourselves face to face
with a government _de facto_ and _de jure_, able to treat on the basis
we require, then we will treat.


Regnier suggested that Bazaine in Metz and Uhrich in Strasburg, if they
should capitulate, might do so in the name of the Imperial Government.
Bismarck replied that Jules Favre was assured that the garrisons of
those fortresses were staunchly Republican; but that his own belief was
that Bazaine's army of the Rhine was probably Imperialist. Then Regnier
offered to go at once to Metz. "If you had come a week earlier," said
Bismarck, "it was yet time; now, I fear, it is too late." Upon this the
Chancellor went away to meet Jules Favre with the parting words to
Regnier, "Be so good as to present my respectful homage to his Imperial
Majesty when you reach Wilhelmshöhe." At a subsequent meeting the same
evening Regnier repeated his anxiety to go at once to Metz and
Strasburg and make an agreement that these places should be surrendered
only in the Emperor's name. Bismarck was clearly not sanguine, but he
said, "Do what you can to bring us some one with power to treat with
us, and you will have rendered great service to your country. I will
give orders for a 'general safe-conduct' to be given you. A telegram
shall precede you to Metz, which will facilitate your entrance there.
You should have come sooner." So these two parted; Régnier received his
"safe-conduct" and started from Ferrières early on the morning of the
21st. But this indefatigable letter-writer could not depart without a
farewell letter:--


I shall leave (he wrote to Bismarck) your advanced posts near Metz,
giving orders for the carriage to await my return. I shall wrap myself
in a shawl, which will hide a portion of my face. In the event of
Marshal Bazaine acceding to my conditions, either Marshal Canrobert or
General Bourbaki, acquainted with all that will be requisite for the
success of my plans, may go out with my papers, dressed in my clothes,
wrapped in my shawl, and depart for Hastings, after giving me his word
of honour that for every one, except the Empress, he was to be simply
Mons. Regnier. If everything succeeded according to my anticipation, he
might then establish his identity, and place himself at the head of the
army, with orders to defend the Chamber assembled, if possible, at a
seaport town, where a loyal portion of the fleet should also be
present. If the project should miscarry, the Marshal or the General
would return and resume his post.


Bismarck must have smiled grimly as he read this strange farrago; yet,
whatever may have been his motives, he furthered the errand on which
Regnier was going to Metz.

That person reached the headquarters of Prince Frederick Charles at
Corny, outside of Metz, on the afternoon of 23rd September and was
promptly presented to the Prince, who said that Count Bismarck had
informed him of his wish to enter Metz and had left it to him to decide
as to the expediency of complying with it. This, said the Prince, he
was prepared to do and he gave Regnier the requisite pass. The same
evening that active individual presented himself at the French forepost
line, and having stated that he had a mission to Marshal Bazaine and
desired to see him immediately, he was driven to Ban-Saint-Martin where
the Marshal was residing. Bazaine at once received him in his study. At
the outset a discrepancy manifests itself in the subsequent testimony
of the interlocutors. The Marshal states that Regnier said he came on
the part of the Empress with the consent of Bismarck; while Regnier
declares that he did not state to the Marshal that he had any mission
from the Empress. On other points, with one important exception, the
versions given of the interview by the two participants fairly agree,
and Bazaine's account of it may be summarised. After Regnier had stated
that his commission was purely verbal he went on to observe that it was
to be regretted that a treaty of peace had not put an end to the war
after Sedan; that the maintenance of the German armies on French
territory was ruinous to the country; and that it would be doing France
a great service to obtain an armistice preparatory to the conclusion of
peace. That as regarded this, the French army under the walls of
Metz--the only army remaining organised--would be in a position to give
guarantees to the Germans if it were allowed its liberty of action; but
that without doubt they would exact as a pledge the surrender of the
fortress of Metz.


I replied (says Bazaine) that certainly if we--the "Army of the
Rhine"--could extricate ourselves from the _impasse_ in which we now
were, with the honours of war--that is to say, with arms and
baggage--in a word completely constituted as an army, we would be in a
position to maintain order in the interior, and would cause the
provisions of the convention to be respected; but a difficulty would
occur as to the fortress of Metz, the governor of which, appointed by
the Emperor, could not be relieved except by His Majesty himself.


One of Regnier's stated objects, continues the Marshal, was to bring it
about that either Marshal Canrobert or General Bourbaki should go to
England, inform the Empress of the situation at Metz, and place himself
at her disposition. The departure of whichever of the two high officers
should undertake this duty was to be surreptitious; and for this
Regnier had provided with Prussian assistance. Seven Luxembourg
surgeons who had been in Metz ever since the battle of Gravelotte had
written to Marshal Bazaine for leave to go home through the Prussian
lines. This letter, sent to the Prussian headquarters, was replied to
in a letter carried into Metz by Regnier and by him given to Bazaine,
to the effect that the _nine_ surgeons were free to depart. As there
were but seven surgeons, the implication is obvious that the
safe-conduct was expanded to cover the incognito exit, along with the
surgeons, of Regnier and the French officer bound for Hastings.

Regnier gave me (writes Bazaine) so many details of his _soi-disant_
relations with the Empress and her _entourage_ that, notwithstanding
the strangeness of the apparition, I put faith in his mission, and
believed that I ought not, in the general interest, to neglect the
opportunity opened to me of putting myself in communication with the
outside world. I consequently told him that he would be duly brought
into relations with Marshal Canrobert and General Bourbaki, whom I
would inform in regard to his proposals, and whom I would place at
liberty to act as each might choose in the matter.

Finally Regnier produced the photograph of Hastings with the Prince
Imperial's signature at the foot, and begged the Marshal to add his,
which he did "as a souvenir of the interview" explained Regnier,
according to the Marshal; according to Regnier, that he could exhibit
the signature to Bismarck in proof that he had the Marshal's assent to
his proposals. Diplomacy conducted by chance signatures on casual
photographs has a certain innocent simplicity, but is not in accordance
with modern methods. Perhaps, however, the strangest thing in
connection with this strange interview is Bazaine's final comment:--


All this which I have narrated was only a simple conversation to which
I attached a merely secondary importance, since M. Regnier had no
written authority from the Empress nor from M. de Bismarck.... This
personage, therefore, appeared to act without the knowledge of the
German military authorities, and it was not until considerably later
that I became convinced of their cognisance, and of their mutual
understanding as regards M. Regnier's visit to Metz.


And this in the face of General Stiehle's letter to him in his hand,
brought in by Regnier, sanctioning the exit of the _nine_ surgeons; and
the Marshal's promise to Régnier that he and the officer who should
accept the mission to Hastings should quit the camp incognito along
with the Luxembourg surgeons.

Reference has been made to a discordance between the testimony of
Marshal Bazaine and of Regnier on a very important point in regard to
this interview. In his notes taken at the time the latter writes:--


The Marshal tells me of his excellent position, of the long period for
which he can hold out; that he considers himself as the Palladium of
the Empire. He speaks of the very healthy condition of the troops; and,
if I may judge by his own rosy face, he is quite right. He tells of all
the successful sallies he had made, and of the facility with which he
can break through the besieging lines whenever he chooses to do so.


Later, he contradicts all this, explaining that finding himself in the
Prussian lines and his papers liable to be read, he had written just
the reverse of what he was told by the Marshal. He says that what
Bazaine actually informed him was that the bread ration had been
already diminished and would be necessarily further reduced in a few
days; that the horses lacked forage and had to be used for food; and
that in such conditions and taking into account the necessity of
carrying four or five days' rations for the army and keeping a certain
number of horses in condition to drag the guns and supplies, there
would be great difficulty in holding out until the 18th of October.
Bazaine, for his part, vehemently denied having given Regnier any such
information, and it seems utterly improbable that he should have done
so. It is nevertheless the fact that the 18th of October was the last
day on which rations were issued to the army outside Metz. Regnier must
have been a wizard; or Bazaine must have leaked atrociously; or there
must have been lying on the Marshal's table during the interview with
Regnier, the most recent state furnished by the French intendance, that
of the 21st of September which specified the 18th of October as the
precise date of the final exhaustion of the army's supplies.

At midnight of the 23rd Regnier went to the outposts and next morning
to Corny, where he found a telegram from Bismarck authorising the
departure for Hastings of a general from the army of Metz. He was back
again at Ban-Saint-Martin on the afternoon of the 24th, when Marshal
Canrobert and General Bourbaki were summoned to headquarters to meet
him and the Luxembourg surgeons were assembled. Canrobert declined the
proposed mission on the plea of ill-health. Bourbaki had to be searched
for and was ultimately found at St. Julien with Marshal Lebceuf. As he
dismounted at the headquarters he asked Colonel Boyer--they had both
been of the intimate circle of the Empire--whether he knew the person
walking in the garden with the Marshal?

"No," replied Boyer.

"What?" rejoined Bourbaki; "have you never seen him at the Tuileries?"

"No," said Boyer. "I forget names, but not faces--I never saw this
fellow. He is neither a familiar of the Tuileries nor an employé."
Whereupon the two aristocrats despised the bourgeois Regnier. But
Bourbaki, nevertheless, had to endure the presentation to him of the
"fellow," who promptly entered on a political discourse to the effect
that the German Government was reluctant to treat with the Paris
Government, which it did not consider so lawful as that of the Empress,
and that if it treated with her the conditions would be less
burdensome; that the intervention of the army of Metz was
indispensable; that it was all-important that one of its chiefs should
repair to the side of the Empress to represent the army with her; and
that he, Bourbaki, was the fittest person to occupy that position on
the declinature of Marshal Canrobert. Bourbaki turned from the man of
verbiage to Bazaine and asked, "Marshal, what do you wish me to do?"
The Marshal answered that he desired him to repair to the Empress.

"I am ready," answered Bourbaki, "but on certain conditions: you will
have the goodness to give me a written order; to announce my departure
in army orders; not to place a substitute in my command; and to promise
that, pending my return, you will not engage the Guard." His terms were
accepted; he was told that he was to leave immediately and he went to
his quarters to make his preparations.

It was understood that the general's departure was to be by way of
being incognito, so that it should not get wind. He had no civilian
clothes and Bazaine fitted him out in his; Regnier had obtained from
one of the Luxembourger surgeons a cap with the Geneva Cross which
completed the costume. At the Prussian headquarters General Stiehle,
Prince Frederick Charles's chief of staff, desired to pay his respects
to a man whose brilliant courage he admired. Bourbaki's bitter answer
to Regnier who communicated to him Stiehle's wish, was that he would
see "none of them, nor even eat a morsel of their bread," which, he
said, would choke him. He presently started with the surgeons,
travelling in Regnier's name and on Regnier's passport, on an
enterprise which was to lead to the wreck of a fine career. At the same
time Regnier quitted Corny on his return to Ferrières to report to
Bismarck, having promised Bazaine that he would return to Metz within
six days. His bolt was about shot. But he had not realised this fact.
He maintains in his curious pamphlet that, to quote his own words, "the
Minister had given me to understand that if I were backed by Bazaine
and his army he would treat with me as if I were the representative of
the Emperor or the Regent. I had obtained from the Marshal a
capitulation with the honours of war, which the Minister--for the
furtherance of our political ends--had consented to accord to him." He
hurried expectant to Ferrières; there to be summarily disillusioned.
Bismarck gave him an interview on the 28th, and crushed him in a few
trenchant sentences:--


I am surprised and sorry (said the Chancellor) that you, who appeared
to be a practical man, after having been permitted to enter Metz with
the certainty of being able to leave it, a favour never before
accorded, should have left it without some more formal recognition of
your right to treat than merely a photograph with the Marshal's
signature on it. But I, Sir, am a diplomatist of many years' standing,
and this is not enough for me. I regret it; but I find myself compelled
to relinquish all further communication with you till your powers are
better defined.


Regnier expressed his regret at having been so cruelly deceived but
thanked Bismarck for his kindness, whereupon the latter offered to give
him a last chance. "I would certainly," he said, "have treated with you
as to peace conditions, had you been able to treat in the name of a
Marshal at the head of 80,000 men; as it is, I will send this telegram
to the Marshal: 'Does Marshal Bazaine authorise M. Regnier to treat for
the surrender of the army before Metz in accordance with the conditions
agreed upon with the last-named?'" On the 29th came Bazaine's somewhat
diffuse reply:--


I cannot reply definitely in the affirmative to the question. Regnier
announced himself the emissary of the Empress without written
credentials. He asked the conditions on which I could enter into
negotiations with Prince Frederick Charles. My answer was that I could
only accept a convention with the honours of war, not to include the
fortress of Metz. These are the only conditions which military honour
permits me to accept.


Regnier bombarded the Chancellor with letters until the 30th, when
Count Hatzfeld informed him that the Minister would listen to nothing
more until Regnier could show full powers without evasion; that the
matter must imperatively be conducted openly and above board; and that
his Excellency hoped Regnier would be able to get clear of it with
honour, and that soon.

So Regnier quitted Ferrières in great dejection. He gives vent ruefully
to the belief that Bismarck regarded him as an unaccredited agent of
the Empress, while, curiously enough, the partisans of the Empress took
him for an emissary of Bismarck. Reaching Hastings on the 3rd of
October he found that the Empress was now at Chislehurst. He had
telegraphed in advance to "M. Regnier," the name which he had
instructed General Bourbaki to pass under until the true Regnier should
reach England. But Bourbaki had cast away the false name at the
instigation of a brother officer while passing through Belgium. On
arriving at Chislehurst he learned from the Empress that he had been
made the victim of a mystification on the part of Regnier, and that she
had never expressed the desire to have with her either Marshal
Canrobert or himself. This intelligence, of which the newspapers had
given him a presentiment, struck him to the heart. Although covered by
his chief's order he found himself in a false position; and he wrote to
the late Lord Granville, then Foreign Secretary, begging his good
offices to obtain for him an authorisation to return to his post. An
assurance was given that this would be accorded, and he hurried to
Luxembourg there to await intimation of permission to re-enter Metz.
Some delay occurred in the transmission of the Royal order to this
effect and although Bourbaki was assured that the decision would
shortly reach him, he became impatient, went into France, and placed
himself at the disposition of the Provisional Government. But
thenceforth he was a soured and dispirited man. The _ci-devant_
aide-de-camp of an Emperor writhed under the harrow of Gambetta and
Freycinet.

As for Regnier, on his return to England he seems to have haunted
Chislehurst. Once, so he frankly writes, after waiting a full hour in
expectation of an audience of the Empress Madame Le Breton came to tell
him that Her Majesty was sorry to have kept him waiting so long, but
that she had now definitely resolved not to receive him. Yet he hung
on, and the same evening he tells that he was called somewhat abruptly
into a room in which stood several gentlemen, when a lady suddenly rose
from a couch and addressed him standing. At last he was face to face
with the Empress. "Sir," said Her Majesty, "you have been persistent in
wishing to speak with me personally; here I am; what have you to say?"
Then Regnier, by his own account, harangued that august and unfortunate
lady in a manner which in print seems extremely trenchant and
dictatorial. It was all in vain, he confesses; he could not alter the
convictions of the Empress. He says that "she feared that posterity, if
she yielded, would only see in the act a proof of dynastic selfishness;
and that dishonour would be attached to the name of whoever should sign
a treaty based on a cession of territory." Probably Her Majesty spoke
from a more lofty standpoint than Regnier was able to comprehend or
appreciate.

Regnier's subsequent career during that troublous period was both
curious and dubious. General Boyer states that on the 28th of October
he found Regnier _tête-à-tête_ with Prince Napoleon (Plon-Plon). Later
he went to Cassel, where he busied himself in trying to implicate in
political machinations sundry French officers who were prisoners there.
Presently we find him at Versailles, figuring among the conductors of
the _Moniteur Prussien_, Bismarck's organ during the German occupation
of that city, in which journal he published a series of articles under
the title of _Jean Bonhomme_. During the armistice after the surrender
of Paris he betook himself to Brussels, where he told General Boyer
that he had gone to Versailles to attempt a renewal of negotiations
tending towards an Imperial restoration. He showed the general the
original safe-conduct which Bismarck had given him at Ferrières, and a
letter of Count Hatzfeld authorising him to visit Versailles. The last
item during this period recorded of this strange personage--and that
item one so significant as to justify Mrs. Crawford's shrewd suspicion
"that Regnier played a double game, and that Prince Bismarck, if he
chose, could clear up the mystery which hangs over Regnier's curious
negotiations"--is found in a page of the _Procès Bazaine_. This is the
gem: "On the 18th of February 1871 he was in Versailles, where he met a
person of his acquaintance, to whom he uttered the characteristic
words--'I do not know whether M. de Bismarck will allow me to leave him
this evening.'" He is said to have later been connected with the Paris
police under the late M. Lagrange. Whether Regnier was more knave or
fool--enthusiast, impostor, or "crank"--will probably be never known.



RAILWAY LIZZ

BY AN HOSPITAL MATRON


We see many curious phases of humanity--we who administer to the sick
in the great hospitals which are among the boasts of London. The mask
worn by the face of the world is dropped before us. We see men as they
are, and while the sight is often not calculated to enhance our
estimate of human nature, there are occasionally strong reliefs which
stand out from the mass of shadow. There are curious opinions
entertained in the outer world as to the internal economy of hospitals,
not a few "laymen" imagining that the main end of such establishments
is that the doctors may have something to experiment upon for the
advancement of their professional theories--something which, while it
is human, is not very valuable in the social scale and therefore open
to be hacked and hewn and operated upon with a freedom begotten of the
knowledge that the subject is a mere vile corpus.

Nor is this the only delusion. Many people think that the hospital
nurse is but another name for a heartless harpy, brimful of callous
selfishness. Her attentions--kindness is an inadmissible word--are
believed to be purely mercenary. Those who themselves can afford to fee
her or who have friends able and willing to buy her services, may
purchase civil treatment and careful nursing while the poor wretch who
has neither money nor friends may languish unheeded. There is no
greater mistake than this. Year by year the character of hospital
nursing has improved. It is not to be denied that in times gone by
there were nurses the mainsprings of whose actions may be said to have
been money and gin; but these have long since been driven forth with
contumely. I have seen a poor wretch of a discharged soldier without a
single copper to bless himself with, nursed with as much tender
assiduity and real feeling as if he were in a position to pay his
nurses handsomely.

Indeed, in most hospitals now the practice of accepting money presents
is altogether forbidden; and if the prohibition, as in the case of
railway porters and guards, is sometimes looked upon in the light of a
dead letter, there is, I sincerely believe, no such thing as any
grasping after a guerdon nor any neglect in a case where it is evident
no guerdon is to be expected. There is an hospital I could name in
which the nurses are prohibited from accepting from patients any more
substantial recognition of their services than a nosegay of flowers.
The wards of this hospital are always gay with bright, fragrant posies,
most of them the contributions of those who, having been carefully
tended in their need, retain a grateful recollection of the kindness
and now that they are in health again take this simple, pretty way of
showing their gratitude. It is two years ago since a rough bricklayer's
labourer got mended in the accident ward of this hospital of some
curiously complicated injuries he had received by tumbling from the top
of a house. Not a Sunday afternoon has there been since the
house-surgeon told him one morning that he might go out, that he has
not religiously visited the "Albert" ward and brought his
thank-offering in the shape of a cheap but grateful nosegay.

Those nurses who thus devote themselves to the tending of sick have
often curious histories if anybody would be at the trouble of
collecting them. It is by no means always mere regard for the securing
of the necessaries of life which has brought them to the thankless and
toilsome occupation. We have all read of nunneries in which women
immured themselves, anxious to sequester themselves from all
association with the outer world and to devote themselves to a life of
penance and devotion. After all their piety was aimless and of no
utility to humanity. There was a concentrated selfishness in it which
detracted from its ambitious aspiration. But in the modern nuns of our
hospitals methinks we have women who, abnegating with equal solicitude
the pleasures and dissipations of the world, find a more philanthropic
opening for their exertions in their retirement than in sleeping on
hair pallets, and in eating nothing but parched peas.

It was towards the autumn of a recent year that a modest-looking young
woman applied to me for a situation on our nursing staff. She wore a
widow's dress and seemed a self-contained, reserved little woman, with
something weighing very heavily on her mind. Her testimonials of
character were ample and of a very high order but they did not
enlighten me with any great freedom as to her past history, and she for
her part appeared by no means eager to supplement the meagre
information furnished by them. However, people have a right to keep
their own counsel if they please, and there was no sin in the woman's
reticence. We happened to be very short of efficient nurses at the time
and she was at once taken upon trial; her somewhat strange stipulation,
which she made absolute, being agreed to--that she should not be
compelled to reside in the hospital, but merely come in to perform her
turn of nursing, and that over, be at liberty to leave the precincts
when she pleased. I say the stipulation was a strange one, because
attached to it there was a considerable pecuniary sacrifice as well as
a necessity for entering a lower grade.

She made a very excellent nurse, with her quiet, reserved ways and her
manner of moving about a ward as if she studied the lightness of every
footfall. But she had her peculiarities. I have already said that she
was not given to be communicative, and for the first three months she
was in the place I do not believe she uttered a word to any one within
the walls except on subjects connected with the performance of her
duties. Then, too, she manifested a curious fondness for being on duty
in the accident ward. Most nurses have very little liking for this
ward--the work is very heavy and unremitting and frequently the sights
are more than usually repulsive. But she specially made application to
be placed in it, and the more terrible the nature of the accident the
more eager was her zeal to minister to the poor victim. It seemed
almost a morbid fondness which she developed for waiting, in
particular, upon people injured by railway accidents. When some poor
mangled plate-layer or a railway-porter crushed almost out of
resemblance to humanity would be borne in and laid on an empty cot in
the accident ward, this woman was at the bedside with a seemingly
intuitive perception of what would best conduce to soothe and ease the
poor shattered fellow; and she would wait on him "hand and foot" with
an intensity of devotion far in excess of what mere duty, however
conscientiously fulfilled, would have demanded of her. Indeed, her
partiality for railway "cases" was so marked that it appeared to amount
to a passion; and among the other nurses, never slow to fix upon any
peculiarity and base upon it some not unfriendly nickname, our quiet
friend went by the name of "Railway Lizz." Nobody ever got any clue to
the reason, if there was one, for this predilection of hers. Indeed,
nobody ever was favoured with the smallest scrap of her confidence. I
confess to have felt much interest in the sad-eyed young widow and to
have several times given her an opening which she might have availed
herself of for narrating something of her past life; but she always
retired within herself with a sensitiveness which puzzled me not a
little, satisfied as I was that there was nothing in her antecedents of
a character which would not bear the light.

There are few holidays within an hospital. Physical suffering is not to
be mitigated by a gala day; the pressure of disease cannot be lightened
by jollity and merry-making. One New Year's Eve, when the world outside
our walls was glad of heart, a poor shattered form was borne into the
accident ward. It was a railway-porter whom a train had knocked down
and passed over, crushing the young fellow almost out of the shape of
humanity. Railway Lizz was by his side in a moment, wetting the
pain-parched lips and smoothing the pillow of the half-conscious
sufferer. The house-surgeon came and went with that silent shake of the
head we know too surely how to interpret, and the mangled
railway-porter was left in the care of his assiduous nurse. It was
almost midnight when I again entered the accident ward. The night-lamp
was burning feebly, shedding a dull dim light over the great room and
throwing out huge grotesque shadows on the floor and the walls. I
glanced toward the railway-porter's bed, and the tell-tale screen
placed around it told me that all was over and that the life had gone
out of the shattered casket. As I walked down the room toward the
screen I heard a low subdued sound of bitter sobbing behind it; and
when I stepped within it, there was the sad-faced widow-nurse weeping
as if her heart would break. When she saw me she strove hard to repress
her emotion and to resume the quiet, self-possessed demeanour which it
was her wont to wear; but she failed in the attempt and the sobs burst
out in almost convulsive rebellion against the effort to repress them.
I put my arm round the neck of the poor young thing and stooping down
kissed her wet cheek as a tear from my own eye mingled with her profuse
weeping. The evidence of feeling appeared to overpower her utterly; she
buried her head in my lap, and lay long there sobbing like a child.
When the acuteness of the emotion had somewhat spent itself I gently
raised her up, and asked of her what was the cause of a grief so
poignant. I found that I was now at last within the intrenchments of
her reserve; with a deep sigh she said, in her Scottish accent, that it
was "a lang, lang story," but if I cared to hear it she would tell it.
So sitting there, we two together in the dim twilight of the
night-lamp, with the shattered corpse of the railway-porter lying there
"streekit" decently before us, she told the following pathetic tale:--

"I am an Aberdeen girl by birth. My father was the foreman at a
factory, a very stiff, dour man, but a gude father, and an upright,
God-fearing man. When I was about eighteen, I fell acquainted with a
railway-guard, a winsome, manly lad as ever ye would wish to see. If ye
had kent my Alick, ye wadna wonder at me for what I did. My father was
a proud man, and he couldna bear that I should marry a man that he said
wasna my equal in station; and in his firm, masterful way he forbade
Alick from coming about the house, and me from seeing him. It was a
sair trial, and I dinna think ony father has a right to put doon his
foot and mar the happiness of twa young folks in the way mine did. The
struggle was a bitter ane, between a father's commands and the bidding
of true luve; and at last, ae night coming home from a friend's house,
Alick and I forgathered again, and he swore he would not gang till I
had promised I would marry him afore the week was out.

"I'll not trouble ye with lang details of the battle that I fought with
mysel', and how in the end Alick conquered. We were married in the West
Kirk the Sunday after, and we twa set up our simple housekeeping in a
single room in a house by the back of the Infirmary. Oh, mem, we were
happy young things! Alick was the fondest, kindest man ye could ever
think of. Sometimes he wad take me a jaunt the length of Perth in the
van with him, and point out the places of interest on the road as we
went flashing by them. Then on the Sunday, when he was off duty, we
used to take a walk out to the Torry Lighthouse, or down by the auld
brig o' Balgownie, and then hame to an hour's read of the Bible afore I
put down the kebbuck and the bannocks. My father keepit hard and
unforgiving; they tellt me he had sworn an oath I should never darken
his door again, and at times I felt very sairly the bitterness of his
feeling toward me, whan I was sitting up waiting for Alick's
hame-coming whan he was on the night turn; but then he wad come in with
his blithe smile and cheery greeting and every thought but joy at his
presence wad flee awa as if by magic. Some of the friends I had kent
when a lassie at home still keepit up the acquantance, and we used
sometimes to spend an evening at one of their houses. The New Year time
came, and Alick and myself got an invitation to keep our New Year's Eve
at the house of a decent, elderly couple that lived up near the Kitty
Brewster Station--quiet, retired folk that had been in business and
made enough to live comfortable on. It was Alick's night for the late
mail train from Perth, but he would be at Market Street Station in time
to get up among us to see the auld year out and the new ane in; and I
was to spend the evening there and wait for his arrival.

"It was a vera happy time. The auld couple were as kind as kind could
be, and their twa or three young folks keepit up the fun brisk and
lively. I took a hand at the cairts and sang a lilt like the rest; but
I was luiking for Alick's company to fill up my cup of happiness. The
time wore on, and it was getting close to the hour at which he might be
expectit. I kenna what ailed me, but I felt strangely uneasy and
anxious for his coming. 'Here he is at last!' I said to myself, as my
heart gave a jump at the sound of a foot on the gravel walk. As it came
closer, I kent it wasna Alick's step, and a strange, cauld grip of fear
and doubt caught me at the heart. Mr. Thomson, that was the name of our
old friend, was called out, and I overheard the sound of a whispered
conversation in the passage. Then he put his head in and called out his
wife; I could see his face was as white as a sheet, and his voice shook
in spite of himself. The boding of misfortune came upon me with a force
it was in vain to strive against, and I rose up and gaed out into the
passage amang them. The auld man was shakin' like an aspen leaf; the
gudewife had her apron ower her face and was greeting like a bairn, and
in the door stood Tarn Farquharson, a railway-porter frae the station.
I saw it aa' quicker nor I can tell it to you, leddy. I steppit up to
Tarn and charged him simple and straught.

"'Tam, what's happent to my Alick?'

"The wet tears stood in Tarn's e'en as he answered, 'Dinna speer,
Lizzie, my puir lass, dinna speer, whan the answer maun be a waefu'
ane.'

"'Tell me the warst, Tam,' says I; 'let me hear the warst, an' pit me
oot o' my pain!'

"The words are dirlin' and stoonin' in my ears yet--

"'The engine gaed ower him, and he's lyin' dead at Market Street.'

"I didna faint, and I couldna greet. Something gied a crack inside my
head, and my e'en swam for a minute; but the next I was putting on my
bonnet and shawl and saying good-nicht to Mrs. Thomson. They tried to
stop me. I heard Tam whisper to the auld man, 'She maunna see him. He
is mangled oot o' the shape o' man.'

"But I wasna to be gainsaid, and Tam took my airm as we gaed doon
through the toon to Market Street. There they tried hard to keep him
oot frae my sight. They tellt me he wasna fit to be seen, but there's
nae law that can keep a wife frae seeing her husband's corpse. He was
lying in a waiting-room covered up with a sheet, and, oh me, he was
sair, sair mangled--that puir fellow there is naething to him; but the
winsome, manly face, with the sweet, familiar smile on it, was nane
spoiled; and lang, lang, I sat there, us twa alane, with my hand on his
cauld forehead, playing wi' his bonnie waving hair. They left me there,
in their considerate kindliness, till the cauld light o' the New Year's
morning began to break, and syne they came and tellt me I maun go. But
I wadna gang my lane. He was mine, and mine only, sae lang as he was
abune the mools; and I claimed my dead hame wi' me, to that hoose he
had left sae brisk and sprichtly whan he kissed me in the morning. Four
of the railway-porters carried him up to that hame which had lost its
hame-look for me now. I keepit him to mysel' till they took him awa'
frae me and laid him under a saugh tree in the Spittal Kirkyard."

She paused in her story, overcome by the bitter memory of the past, and
I wanted no formal application now to give me the clue to her strange
preference for the accident ward and her hitherto inexplicable fondness
for "railway cases." Poor thing, with what inexpressible vividness must
the circumstances in which this New Year's night was passing with her
have recalled the sad remembrances of that other New Year's night the
narrative of which she had just given me! Presently she recovered her
voice, and briefly concluded the little history.

"Leddy, I was wi' bairn whan my Alick was taken from me. Oh, how I used
to pray that God would be gude to me, and give me a living keepsake of
my dead husband! I troubled naebody. I never speered if my father would
do anything for me; but I got work at the factory, and I lived in
prayerful hope. My hour of trouble came, and a fatherless laddie was
born into this weary world, the very picture o' him that was sleeping
under the tree in the Spittal Kirkyard. I needna tell ye I christened
him Alick, and the bairn has been my joy and comfort ever since God
gifted me with him. I found the sichts and memories of Aberdeen ower
muckle for me, sae I came up to London here, and ye ken the rest about
me. It was because of being with my bairn that I wouldna agree to live
in the hospital here like the rest of the nurses, and whan I gang hame
noo to my little garret, he will waken up out of his saft sleep, rosy
and fresh, and hold up his bonnie mou', sae like his father's, for
'mammie's kiss.'"



MY NATIVE SALMON RIVER


None of the greater rivers of Scotland makes so much haste to reach the
ocean as does the turbulent and impatient Spey. From its parent lochlet
in the bosom of the Grampians it speeds through Badenoch, the country
of Cluny MacPherson, the chief of Clan Chattan, a region to this day
redolent of memories of the '45. It abates its hurry as its current
skirts the grave of the beautiful Jean Maxwell, Duchess of Gordon, who
raised the 92nd Highlanders by giving a kiss with the King's shilling
to every recruit, and who now since many long years

  Sleeps beneath Kinrara's willow.

But after this salaam of courtesy the river roars and bickers down the
long stretch of shaggy glen which intervenes between the upper and
lower Rocks of Craigellachie, whence the Clan Grant, whose habitation
is this ruggedly beautiful strath, takes its slogan of "Stand fast,
Craigellachie," till it finally sends its headlong torrent shooting
miles out through the salt water of the Moray Firth. In its course of
over a hundred miles its fierce current has seldom tarried; yet now and
again it spreads panting into a long smooth stretch of still water when
wearied momentarily with buffeting the boulders in its broken and
contorted bed; or when a great rock, jutting out into its course,
causes a deep black sullen pool whose sluggish eddy is crested with
masses of yellow foam. Merely as a wayfaring pedestrian I have followed
Spey from its source to its mouth; but my intimacy with it in the
character of a fisherman extends over the five-and-twenty miles of its
lower course, from the confluence of the pellucid Avon at Ballindalloch
to the bridge of Fochabers, the native village of the Captain Wilson
who died so gallantly in the recent fighting in Matabeleland. My first
Spey trout I took out of water at the foot of the cherry orchard below
the sweet-lying cottage of Delfur. My first grilse I hooked and played
with trout tackle in "Dalmunach" on the Laggan water, a pool that is
the rival of "Dellagyl" and the "Holly Bush" for the proud title of the
best pool of lower Spey. My first salmon I brought to the gaff with a
beating heart in that fine swift stretch of water known as "The Dip,"
which connects the pools of the "Heathery Isle" and the "Red Craig,"
and which is now leased by that good fisherman, Mr. Justice North. I
think the Dundurcas water then belonged to the late Mr. Little Gilmour,
the well-known welter-weight who went so well to hounds season after
season from Melton Mowbray, and who was as keen in the water on Spey as
he was over the Leicestershire pastures. A servant of Mr. Little
Gilmour was drowned in the "Two Stones" pool, the next below the "Holly
Bush;" and the next pool below the "Two Stones" is called the
"Beaufort" to this day--named after the present Duke, who took many a
big fish out of it in the days when he used to come to Speyside with
his friend Mr. Little Gilmour.

In those long gone-by days brave old Lord Saltoun, the hero of
Hougomont, resided during the fishing season in the mansion-house of
Auchinroath, on the high ground at the mouth of the Glen of Rothes. One
morning, some five-and-forty years ago, my father drove to breakfast
with the old lord and took me with him. Not caring to send the horse to
the stable, he left me outside in the dogcart when he entered the
house. As I waited rather sulkily--for I was mightily hungry--there
came out on to the doorstep a very queer-looking old person, short of
figure, round as a ball, his head sunk between very high and rounded
shoulders, and with short stumpy legs. He was curiously attired in a
whole-coloured suit of gray; a droll-shaped jacket the great collar of
which reached far up the back of his head, surmounted a pair of
voluminous breeches which suddenly tightened at the knee. I imagined
him to be the butler in morning dishabille; and when he accosted me
good-naturedly, asking to whom the dogcart and myself belonged, I
answered him somewhat shortly and then ingenuously suggested that he
would be doing me a kindly act if he would go and fetch me out a hunk
of bread and meat, for I was enduring tortures of hunger.

Then he swore, and that with vigour and fluency, that it was a shame
that I should have been left outside; called a groom and bade me alight
and come indoors with him. I demurred--I had got the paternal
injunction to remain with the horse and cart. "I am master here!"
exclaimed the old person impetuously; and with further strong language
he expressed his intention of rating my father soundly for not having
brought me inside along with himself. Then a question occurred to me,
and I ventured to ask, "Are you Lord Saltoun?" "Of course I am,"
replied the old gentleman; "who the devil else should I be?" Well, I
did not like to avow what I felt, but in truth I was hugely
disappointed in him; for I had just been reading Siborne's _Waterloo_,
and to think that this dumpy old fellow in the duffle jacket that came
up over his ears was the valiant hero who had held Hougomont through
cannon fire and musketry fire and hand-to-hand bayonet fighting on the
day of Waterloo while the post he was defending was ablaze, and who had
actually killed Frenchmen with his own good sword, was a severe
disenchantment. When I had breakfasted he asked leave of my father to
let me go with him to the waterside, promising to send me home safely
later in the day. When he was in Spey up to the armpits--for the "Holly
Bush" takes deep wading from the Dundurcas side--the old lord looked
even droller than he had done on the Auchinroath doorstep, and I could
not reconcile him in the least to my Hougomont ideal. He was delighted
when I opened on him with that topic, and he told me with great spirit
of the vehemence with which his brother-officer Colonel Macdonnell, and
his men forced the French soldiers out of the Hougomont courtyard, and
how big Sergeant Graham closed the door against them by main force of
muscular strength. Before he had been in the water twenty minutes the
old lord was in a fish; his gillie, old Dallas, who could throw a fine
line in spite of the whisky, gaffed it scientifically, and I was sent
home rejoicing with a 15 lb. salmon for my mother and a half-sovereign
for myself wherewith to buy a trouting rod and reel. Lord Saltoun was
the first lord I ever met, and I have never known one since whom I have
liked half so well.

Spey is a river which insists on being distinctive. She mistrusts the
stranger. He may be a good man on Tweed or Tay, but until he has been
formally introduced to Spey and been admitted to her acquaintance, she
is chary in according him her favours. She is no flighty coquette, nor
is she a prude; but she has her demure reserves, and he who would stand
well with her must ever treat her with consideration and respect. She
is not as those facile demi-mondaine streams, such as the Helmsdale or
the Conon, which let themselves be entreated successfully by the chance
comer on the first jaunty appeal. You must learn the ways of Spey
before you can prevail with her, and her ways are not the ways of other
rivers. It was in vain that the veteran chief of southern fishermen,
the late Francis Francis, threw his line over Spey in the _veni, vidi,
vici_ manner of one who had made Usk and Wye his potsherd, and who over
the Hampshire Avon had cast his shoe. Russel, the famous editor of the
_Scotsman_, the Delane of the north country, who, pen in hand, could
make a Lord Advocate squirm, and before whose gibe provosts and bailies
trembled, who had drawn out leviathan with a hook from Tweed, and
before whom the big fish of Forth could not stand--even he, brilliant
fisherman as he was, could "come nae speed ava" on Spey, as the old
Arndilly water-gillie quaintly worded it.

Yet Russel of the _Scotsman_ was perhaps the most whole-souled salmon
fisher of his own or any other period. His piscatorial aspirations
extended beyond the grave. Who that heard it can ever forget the
peroration, slightly profane perhaps, but entirely enthusiastic, of his
speech on salmon fishing at a Tweedside dinner? "When I die," he
exclaimed in a fine rapture, "should I go to heaven, I will fish in the
water of life with a fly dressed with a feather from the wing of an
angel; should I be unfortunately consigned to another destination, I
shall nevertheless hope to angle in Styx with the worm that never
dieth." To his editorial successor Spey was a trifle more gracious than
she had been to Russel; but she did not wholly open her heart to this
neophyte of her stream, serving him up in the pool of Dellagyl with the
ugliest, blackest, gauntest old cock-salmon of her depths, owning a
snout like the prow of an ancient galley.

Spey exacts from those who would fish her waters with success a
peculiar and distinctive method of throwing their line, which is known
as the "Spey cast." In vain has Major Treherne illustrated the
successive phases of the "Spey cast" in the fishing volume of the
admirable Badminton series. It cannot be learned by diagrams; no man,
indeed, can become a proficient in it who has not grown up from
childhood in the practice of it. Yet its use is absolutely
indispensable to the salmon angler on the Spey. Rocks, trees, high
banks, and other impediments forbid resort to the overhead cast. The
essence and value of the Spey cast lies in this--that his line must
never go behind the caster; well done, the cast is like the dart from a
howitzer's mouth of a safety rocket to which a line is attached. To
watch it performed, strongly yet easily, by a skilled hand is a liberal
education in the art of casting; the swiftness, sureness, low
trajectory, and lightness of the fall of the line, shot out by a
dexterous swish of the lifting and propelling power of the strong yet
supple rod, illustrate a phase at once beautiful and practical of the
poetry of motion. Among the native salmon fishermen of Speyside,
_quorum ego parva pars fui,_ there are two distinct manners which may
be severally distinguished as the easy style and the masterful style.
The disciples of the easy style throw a fairly long line, but their aim
is not to cover a maximum distance. What they pride themselves on is
precise, dexterous, and, above all, light and smooth casting. No fierce
switchings of the rod reveal their approach before they are in sight;
like the clergyman of Pollok's _Course of Time_ they love to draw
rather than to drive. Of the masterful style the most brilliant
exponent is a short man, but he is the deepest wader in Spey. I believe
his waders fasten, not round his waist, but round his neck. I have seen
him in a pool, far beyond his depth, but "treading water" while
simultaneously wielding a rod about four times the length of himself,
and sending his line whizzing an extraordinary distance. The resolution
of his attack seems actually to hypnotise salmon into taking his fly;
and, once hooked, however hard they may fight for life, they are doomed
fish.

Ah me! These be gaudy, flaunting, flashy days! Our sober Spey, in the
matter of salmon fly-hooks, is gradually yielding to the garish
influence of the times. Spey salmon now begin to allow themselves to be
captured by such indecorous and revolutionary fly-hooks as the "Canary"
and the "Silver Doctor." Jaunty men in loud suits of dittoes have come
into the north country, and display fly-books that vie in the
variegated brilliancy of their contents with a Dutch tulip bed. We
staunch adherents to the traditional Spey blacks and browns, we who
have bred Spey cocks for the sake of their feathers, and have sworn
through good report and through evil report by the pig's down or Berlin
wool for body, the Spey cock for hackle, and the mallard drake for
wings, have jeered at the kaleidoscopic fantasticality of the leaves of
their fly-books turned over by adventurers from the south country and
Ireland; and have sneered at the notion that a self-respecting Spey
salmon would so far demoralise himself as to be allured by a miniature
presentation of Liberty's shop-window. But the salmon has not regarded
the matter from our conservative point of view; and now we, too,
ruefully resort to the "canary" as a dropper when conditions of
atmosphere and water seem to favour that gaudy implement. And it must
be owned that even before the "twopence-coloured" gentry came among us
from distant parts, we, the natives, had been side-tracking from the
exclusive use of the old-fashioned sombre flies into the occasional use
of gayer yet still modest "fancies." Of specific Spey hooks in favour
at the present time the following is, perhaps, a fairly correct and
comprehensive list: purple king, green king, black king, silver heron,
gold heron, black dog, silver riach, gold riach, black heron, silver
green, gold green, Lady Caroline, carron, black fancy, silver spale,
gold spale, culdrain, dallas, silver thumbie, Sebastopol, Lady Florence
March, gold purpie, and gled (deadly in "snawbree"). The Spey cock--a
cross between the Hamburg cock and the old Scottish mottled hen--was
fifty years ago bred all along Speyside expressly for its feathers,
used in dressing salmon flies; but the breed is all but extinct now, or
rather, perhaps, has been crossed and re-crossed out of recognition. It
is said, however, to be still maintained in the parish of Advie, and
when the late Mr. Bass had the Tulchan shootings and fishings his head
keeper used to breed and sell Spey cocks.

Probably the most extensive collection of salmon fly-hooks ever made
was that which belonged to the late Mr. Henry Grant of Elchies, a
property on which is some of the best water in all the run of Spey. His
father was a distinguished Indian civil servant and of later fame as an
astronomer; and his elder brother, Mr. Grant of Carron, was one of the
best fishermen that ever played a big fish in the pool of Dellagyl.
Henry Grant himself had been a keen fisherman in his youth, and when,
after a chequered and roving life in South Africa and elsewhere, he
came into the estate, he set himself to build up a representative
collection of salmon flies for all waters and all seasons. His father
had brought home a large and curious assortment of feathers from the
Himalayas; Mr. Grant sent far and wide for further supplies of suitable
and distinctive material, and then he devoted himself to the task of
dressing hundred after hundred of fly-hooks of every known pattern and
of every size, from the great three-inch hook for heavy spring water to
the dainty little "finnock" hook scarcely larger than a trout fly. A
suitable receptacle was constructed for this collection from the timber
of the "Auld Gean Tree of Elchies"--the largest of its kind in all
Scotland--whose trunk had a diameter of nearly four feet and whose
branches had a spread of over twenty yards. The "Auld Gean Tree" fell
into its dotage and was cut down to the strains of a "lament," with
which the wail and skirl of the bagpipes drowned the noise of the
woodmen's axes. Out of the wood of the "Auld Gean Tree" a local
artificer constructed a handsome cabinet with many drawers, in which
were stored the Elchies collection of fly-hooks classified carefully
according to their sizes and kinds. The cabinet stood--and, I suppose,
still stands--in the Elchies billiard-room; but I fear the collection
is sadly diminished, for Henry Grant was the freest-handed of men and
towards the end of his life anybody who chose was welcome to help
himself from the contents of the drawers. Yet no doubt some relics of
this fine collection must still remain; and I hope for his own sake
that Mr. Justice A.L. Smith the present tenant of Elchies, is free of
poor Henry's cabinet.

It is a popular delusion that Speyside men are immortal; this is true
only of distillers. But it is a fact that their longevity is
phenomenal. If Dr. Ogle had to make up the population returns of Strath
Spey he could not fail to be profoundly astonished by the comparative
blankness of the mortality columns. Frederick the Great, when his
fellows were rather hanging back in the crisis of a battle, stung them
with the biting taunt, "Do you wish to live for ever?" If his
descendant of the present day were to address the same question to the
seniors of Speyside, they would probably reply, "Your Majesty, we ken
that we canna live for ever; but, faith, we mak' a gey guid attempt!" A
respected relative of mine died a few years ago at the age of
eighty-five. Had he been a Southron, he would have been said to have
died full of years; but of my relative the local paper remarked in a
touching obituary notice that he "was cut off prematurely in the midst
of his mature prime." When I was young, Speyside men mostly shuffled
off this mortal coil by being upset from their gigs when driving home
recklessly from market with "the maut abune the meal;" but the railways
have done away in great measure with this cause of death. Nowadays the
centenarians for the most part fall ultimate victims to paralysis. In
the south it is understood, I believe, that the third shock is fatal;
but a Speyside man will resist half a dozen shocks before he succumbs,
and has been known to walk to the kirk after having endured even a
greater number of attacks.

Among the senior veterans of our riverside I may venture to name two
most worthy men and fine salmon fishers. Although both have now wound
in their reels and unspliced their rods, one of them still lives among
us hale and hearty. "Jamie" Shanks of Craigellachie is, perhaps, the
father of the water. He himself is reticent as to his age and there are
legends on the subject which lack authentication. It is, however, a
matter of tradition that Jamie was out in the '45; and that, cannily
returning home when Charles Edward turned back at Derby, he earned the
price of a croft by showing the Duke of Cumberland the ford across Spey
near the present bridge of Fochabers, by which the "butcher duke"
crossed the river on his march to fight the battle of Culloden. It is
also traditioned that Jamie danced round a bonfire in celebration of
the marriage of "bonnie Jean," Duchess of Gordon, an event which
occurred in 1767. Apart from the Dark Ages one thing is certain
regarding Jamie, that the great flood of 1829 swept away his croft and
cottage, he himself so narrowly escaping that he left his watch hanging
on the bed-post, watch and bed-post being subsequently recovered
floating about in the Moray Firth. The greatest honour that can be
conferred on a fisherman--the Victoria Cross of the river--has long
belonged to Jamie; a pool in Spey bears his name, and many a fine
salmon has been taken out of "Jamie Shanks's Pool," the swirling water
of which is almost at the good old man's feet as he shifts the "coo" on
his strip of pasture or watches the gooseberries swelling in his pretty
garden. His fame has long ago gone throughout all Speyside for skill in
the use of the gaff: about eight years ago I was witness of the calm,
swift dexterity with which he gaffed what I believe was his last fish.
In the serene evening of his long day he still finds pleasant
occupation in dressing salmon flies; and if you speak him fair and he
is in good humour "Jamie" may let you have half a dozen as a great
favour.

The other veteran of our river of whom I would say something was that
most worthy man and fine salmon fisher Mr. Charles Grant, the
ex-schoolmaster of Aberlour, better known among us who loved and
honoured the fine old Highland gentleman as "Charlie" Grant. Charlie no
longer lives; but to the last he was hale, relished his modest dram,
and delighted in his quiet yet graphic manner to tell of men and things
of Speyside familiar to him during his long life by the riverside.
Charles Grant was the first person who ever rented salmon water on
Spey. It was about 1838 that he took a lease from the Fife trustees of
the fishing on the right bank from the burn of Aberlour to the burn of
Carron, about four miles of as good water as there is in all the run of
Spey. This water would to-day be cheaply rented at £250 per annum; the
annual rent paid by Charles Grant was two guineas. A few years later a
lease was granted by the Fife trustees of the period of the grouse
shootings of Benrinnes, the wide moorlands of the parishes of Glass,
Mortlach, and Aberlour, including Glenmarkie the best moor in the
county, at a rent of £100 a year with four miles of salmon water on
Spey thrown in. The letting value of these moors and of this water is
to-day certainly not less than £1500 a year.

Charles Grant had a great and well-deserved reputation for finding a
fish in water which other men had fished blank. This was partly because
from long familiarity with the river he knew all the likeliest casts;
partly because he was sure to have at the end of his casting-line just
the proper fly for the size of water and condition of weather; and
partly because of his quiet neat-handed manner of dropping his line on
the water. There is a story still current on Speyside illustrative of
this gift of Charlie in finding a fish where people who rather fancied
themselves had failed--a story which Jamie Shanks to this day does not
care to hear. Mr. Russel of the _Scotsman_ had done his very best from
the quick run at the top of the pool of Dalbreck, down to the almost
dead-still water at the bottom of that fine stretch, and had found no
luck. Jamie Shanks, who was with Mr. Russel as his fisherman, had gone
over it to no purpose with a fresh fly. They were grumpishly discussing
whether they should give Dalbreck another turn or go on to Pool-o-Brock
the next pool down stream, when Charles Grant made his appearance and
asked the waterside question, "What luck?" "No luck at all, Charlie!"
was Russel's answer. "Deevil a rise!" was Shanks's sourer reply. In his
demure purring way Charles Grant--who in his manner was a duplicate of
the late Lord Granville--remarked, "There ought to be a fish come out
of that pool." "Tak' him out, then!" exclaimed Shanks gruffly. "Well,
I'll try," quoth the soft-spoken Charlie; and just at that spot, about
forty yards from the head of the pool, where the current slackens and
the fish lie awhile before breasting the upper rapid, he hooked a fish.
Then it was that Russel in the genial manner which made provosts swear,
remarked, "Shanks, I advise you to take a half year at Mr. Grant's
school!" "Fat for?" inquired Shanks sullenly. "To learn to fish!"
replied the master of sarcasm of the delicate Scottish variety.

Respectful by nature to their superiors, the honest working folk of
Speyside occasionally forget themselves comically in their passionate
ardour that a hooked salmon shall be brought to bank. Lord Elgin, now
in his Indian satrapy, far away from what Sir Noel Paton in his fine
elegy on the late Sir Alexander Gordon Cumming of Altyre called

  The rushing thunder of the Spey,

one day hooked a big fish in the "run" below "Polmet". The fish headed
swiftly down stream, his lordship in eager pursuit, but afraid of
putting any strain on the line lest the salmon should "break" him. Down
round the bend below the pool and by the "Slabs" fish and fisherman
sped, till the latter was brought up by the sheer rock of
Craigellachie. Fortunately a fisherman ferried the Earl across the
river to the side on which he was able to follow the fish. On he ran,
keeping up with the fish, under the bridge, along the margin of
"Shanks's Pool," past the "Boat of Fiddoch" pool and the mouth of the
tributary; and he was still on the run along the edge of the croft
beyond when he was suddenly confronted by an aged man, who dropped his
turnip hoe and ran eagerly to the side of the young nobleman. Old
Guthrie could give advice from the experience of a couple of
generations as poacher, water-gillie, occasional water-bailiff, and
from as extensive and peculiar acquaintance with the river as Sam
Weller possessed of London public-houses. And this is what he
exclaimed: "Ma Lord, ma Lord, gin ye dinna check him, that fush will
tak' ye doun tae Speymouth--deil, but he'll tow ye oot tae sea! Hing
intil him, hing intil him!" His lordship exerted himself accordingly,
but did not secure the old fellow's approval. "Man! man!" Guthrie
yelled, "ye're nae pittin' a twa-ounce strain on him; he's makin' fun
o' ye!" The nobleman tried yet harder, yet could not please his
relentless critic. "God forgie me, but ye canna fush worth a damn! Come
back on the lan', an' gie him the butt wi' pith!" Thus adjured, his
lordship acted at last with vigour; the sage, having gaffed the fish,
abated his wrath, and, as the salmon was being "wetted," tendered his
respectful apologies.

In my time there have been three lairds of Arndilly, a beautiful
Speyside estate which is margined by several miles of fishing water
hardly inferior to any throughout the long run of the river. Many a
man, far away now from "bonnie Arndilly" and the hoarse murmur of the
river's roll over its rugged bed, recalls in wistful recollection the
swift yet smooth flow of "the Dip;" the thundering rush of Spey against
the "Red Craig," in the deep, strong water at the foot of which the big
red fish leap like trout when the mellowness of the autumn is tinting
into glow of russet and crimson the trees which hang on the steep bank
above; the smooth restful glide into the long oily reach of the "Lady's
How," in which a fisherman may spend to advantage the livelong day and
then not leave it fished out; the turbulent half pool, half stream, of
the "Piles," which always holds large fish lying behind the great
stones or in the dead water under the daisy-sprinkled bank on which the
tall beeches cast their shadows; the "Bulwark Pool;" the "Three
Stones," where the grilse show their silver sides in the late May
evenings; "Gilmour's" and "Carnegie's," the latter now, alas! spoiled
by gravel; the quaintly named "Tam Mear's Crook" and the "Spout o'
Cobblepot;" and then the dark, sullen swirls of "Sourdon," the deepest
pool of Spey.

The earliest of the three Arndilly lairds of my time was the Colonel, a
handsome, generous man of the old school, who was as good over High
Leicestershire as he was over his own moors and on his own water, and
who, while still in the prime of life, died of cholera abroad. Good in
the saddle and with the salmon rod, the Colonel was perhaps best behind
a gun, with which he was not less deadly among the salmon of the Spey
than among the grouse of Benaigen. His relative, old Lord Saltoun, was
hard put to it once in the "Lady's How" with a thirty-pound salmon
which he had hooked foul, and which, in its full vigour, was taking all
manner of liberties with him, making spring after spring clean out of
the water. The beast was so rebellious and strong that the old lord
found it harder to contend with than with the Frenchmen who fought so
stoutly with him for the possession of Hougomont. The Colonel,
fowling-piece in hand, was watching the struggle, and seeing that Lord
Saltoun was getting the worst of it awaited his opportunity when the
big salmon's tail was in the air after a spring, and, firing in the
nick of time, cut the fish's spine just above the tail, hardly marking
it elsewhere. The Colonel occasionally fished the river with
cross-lines, which are still legal although their use is now considered
rather the "Whitechapel game." He resorted to the cross-lines, not in
greed for fish but for the sake of the shooting practice they afforded
him. When the hooked fish were struggling and in their struggles
showing their tails out of water, he several times shot two right and
left breaking the spine in each case close to the tail.

The Colonel was succeeded by his brother, who had been a planter in
Jamaica before coming to the estate on the death of his brother. Hardly
was he home when he contested the county unsuccessfully on the old
never-say-die Protectionist platform against the father of the present
Duke of Fife; on the first polling-day of which contest I acquired a
black eye and a bloody nose in the market square of a local village at
the hands of some gutter lads, with whose demand that I should take the
Tory rosette out of my bonnet I had declined to comply. Later, this
gentleman became an assiduous fisher of men as a lay preacher, but he
was as keen after salmon as he was after sinners. He hooked and
played--and gaffed--the largest salmon I have ever heard of being
caught in Spey by an angler--a fish weighing forty-six pounds. The
actual present laird of Arndilly is a lady, but in her son are
perpetuated the fishing instincts of his forbears.

My reminiscences of Spey and Speyside are drawing to an end, and I now
with natural diffidence approach a great theme. Every Speyside man will
recognise from this exordium that I am about to treat of "Geordie." It
is quite understood throughout lower Speyside that it is the moral
support which Geordie accords to Craigellachie Bridge, in the immediate
vicinity of which he lives, that chiefly maintains that structure; and
that if he were to withdraw that support, its towers and roadway would
incontinently collapse into the depths of the sullen pool spanned by
the graceful erection. The best of men are not universally popular, and
it must be said that there are those who cast on Geordie the aspersion
of being "some thrawn," for which the equivalent in south-country
language is perhaps "a trifle cross-grained." These, however, are
envious people, who are jealous of Geordie's habitual association with
lords and dukes, and who resent the trivial stiffness which is no doubt
apparent in his manner to ordinary people for the first few days after
the illustrious persons referred to have reluctantly permitted him to
withdraw from them the light of his countenance. For my own part I have
found Geordie, all things considered, to be wonderfully affable. That
his tone is patronising I do not deny; but then there is surely a joy
in being patronised by the factotum of a duke.

I have never been quite sure, nor have I ever dared to ask Geordie,
whether he considers the Duke to be his patron, or whether he regards
himself as the patron of that eminent nobleman. From the
"aucht-and-forty daugh" of Strathbogie to the Catholic Braes of
Glenlivat where fifty years ago the "sma' stills" reeked in every
moorland hollow, across to beautiful Kinrara and down Spey to the
fertile Braes of Enzie, his Grace is the benevolent despot of a
thriving tenantry who have good cause to regard him with esteem and
gratitude. The Duke is a masterful man, whom no factor need attempt to
lead by the nose; but on the margin of Spey, from the blush-red crags
of Cairntie down to the head of tide water, he owns his centurion in
Geordie, who taught him to throw his first line when already he was a
minister of the Crown, and who, as regards aught appertaining to salmon
fishing, saith unto his Grace, Do this and he doeth it.

Geordie is a loyal subject, and when a few years ago he had the
opportunity of seeing Her Majesty during her momentary halt at Elgin
station, he paid her the compliment of describing her as a "sonsie
wife." But the heart-loyalty of the honest fellow goes out in all its
tender yet imperious fulness towards the Castle family, to most of the
members of which, of both sexes, he has taught the science and practice
of killing salmon. Hint the faintest shadow of disparagement of any
member of that noble and worthy house, and you make a life enemy of
Geordie. On no other subject is he particularly touchy, save one--the
gameness and vigour of the salmon of Spey. Make light of the fighting
virtues of Spey fish--exalt above them the horn of the salmon of Tay,
Ness, or Tweed--and Geordie loses his temper on the instant and
overwhelms you with the strongest language. There is a tradition that
among Geordie's remote forbears was one of Cromwell's Ironsides who on
the march from Aberdeen to Inverness fell in love with a Speyside lass
of the period, and who, abandoning his Ironside appellation of
"Hew-Agag-in-Pieces," adopted the surname which Geordie now bears. This
strain of ancestry may account for Geordie's smooth yet peremptory
skill as a disciplinarian. It devolves upon him during the rod-fishing
season to assign to each person of the fishing contingent his or her
particular stretch of water, and to tell off to each as guide one of
his assistant attendants.

It is a great treat to find Geordie in a garrulous humour and to listen
to one of his salmon-fishing stories, told always in the broadest of
north-country Doric. His sense of humour is singularly keen,
notwithstanding that he is a Scot; and it is not in his nature to
minimise his own share in the honour and glory of the incident he may
relate. One of Geordie's stories is vividly in my recollection, and may
appropriately conclude my reminiscences of Speyside and its folk. There
was a stoup of "Benrinnes" on the mantelpiece and a free-drawing pipe
in Geordie's mouth. His subject was the one on which he can be most
eloquent--an incident of the salmon-fishing season, on which the worthy
man delivered himself as follows:--

"Twa or three seasons back I was attendin' Leddy Carline whan she was
fushin' that gran' pool at the brig o' Fochabers. She's a fine fusher,
Leddy Carline: faith, she may weel be, for I taucht her mysel'. She
hookit a saumon aboot the midst o' the pool, an' for a while it gied
gran' sport; loupin' and tumblin', an' dartin' up the watter an' doon
the watter at sic a speed as keepit her leddyship muvin' gey fast tae
keep abriesht o't. Weel, this kin' o' wark, an' a ticht line, began for
tae tak' the spunk oot o' the saumon, an' I was thinkin' it was a
quieston o' a few meenits whan I wad be in him wi' the gaff; but my
birkie, near han' spent though he was, had a canny bit dodge up the
sleeve o' him. He made a bit whamlin' run, an' deil tak' me gin he
didna jam himself intil a neuk atween twa rocks, an' there the dour
beggar bade an' sulkit. Weel, her leddyship keepit aye a steady drag on
him, an' she gied him the butt wi' power; but she cudna get the beast
tae budge--no, nae sae muckle as the breadth o' my thoomb-nail. Deil a
word said Leddy Carline tae me for a gey while, as she vrought an'
vrought tae gar the saumon quit his neuk. But she cam nae speed wi'
him; an' at last she says, says she, 'Geordie, I can make nothing of
him: what in the world is to be done?' 'Gie him a shairp upward yark,
my leddy,' says I; 'there canna be muckle strength o' resistance left
in him by this time!' Weel, she did as I tellt her--I will say this for
Leddy Carline, that she's aye biddable. But, rugg her hardest, the fush
stuck i' the neuk as gin he waur a bit o' the solid rock, an' her
leddyship was becomin' gey an' exhaustit. 'Take the rod yourself,
Geordie,' says she, 'and try what you can do; I freely own the fish is
too many for me.' Weel, I gruppit the rod, an' I gied a shairp, steady,
upward drag; an' up the brute cam, clean spent. He hadna been sulkin'
aifter aa'; he had been fairly wedged atween the twa rocks, for whan I
landit him, lo an' behold! he was bleedin' like a pig, an' there was a
muckle gash i' the side o' him, that the rock had torn whan I draggit
him by main force up an' oot. The taikle was stoot, ye'll obsairve, or
else he be tae hae broken me; but tak' my word for't, Geordie is no the
man for tae lippen tae feckless taikle.

"Weel, I hear maist things; an' I was tellt that same nicht hoo at the
denner-table Leddy Carline relatit the haill adventur', an' owned, fat
was true aneuch, that the fush had fairly bestit her. Weel, amo' the
veesitors at the Castle was the Dowager Leddy Breadanham; an' it seemed
that whan Leddy Carline was through wi' her narrateeve, the dowager be
tae gie a kin' o' a scornfu' sniff an' cock her neb i' the air; an' she
said, wha but she, that she didna hae muckle opingin o' Leddy Carline
as a saumon fisher, an' that she hersel' didna believe there was a fush
in the run o' Spey that she cudna get the maistery ower. That was a gey
big word, min' ye; it's langidge I wadna venture for tae make use o'
mysel', forbye a south-countra dowager.

"Weel, I didna say muckle; but, my faith, like the sailor's paurot, I
thoucht a deevil o' a lot. The honour o' Spey was in my hauns, an' it
behuvit me for tae hummle the pride o' her dowager leddyship. The
morn's mornin' cam, an' by that time I had decided on my plan o'
operautions. By guid luck I fand the dowager takin' her stroll afore
brakfast i' the floor-gairden. I ups till her, maks my boo, an' says I,
unco canny an' respectfu', 'My leddy, ye'll likely be for the watter
the day?' She said she was, so says I, 'Weel, my leddy, I'll be prood
for tae gae wi' ye mysel', an' I'll no fail tae reserve for ye as guid
water as there is in the run o' Spey!' She was quite agreeable, an' so
we sattlit it.

"The Duke himsel' was oot on the lawn whan I was despatchin' the ither
fushin' folk, ilk ane wi' his or her fisherman kerryin' the rod.
'Geordie,' said his Grace, 'with whom will you be going yourself?' 'Wi'
the Dowager Leddy Breadanham, yer Grace!' says I. 'And where do you
think of taking her ladyship, Geordie?' speers he. 'N'odd, yer Grace,'
says I, 'I am sattlin in my min' for tae tak' the leddy tae the "Brig
o' Fochabers" pool;' an' wi' that I gied a kin' o' a respectfu'
half-wink. The Duke was no' the kin' o' man for tae wink back, for
though he's aye grawcious, he's aye dignifeed; but there was a bit
flichter o' humour roun' his mou' whan he said, says he, 'I think that
will do very well, Geordie!'

"Praesently me an' her leddyship startit for the 'Brig o' Fochabers'
pool. She cud be vera affauble whan she likit, I'll say that muckle for
the dowager; an' me an' her newsed quite couthie-like as we traivellt.
I saftened tae her some, I frankly own; but than my hert hardent again
whan I thoucht o' the duty I owed tae Spey an' tae Leddy Carline. Of
coorse there was a chance that my scheme wad miscairry; but there's no
a man on Spey frae Tulchan tae the Tug Net that kens the natur' o'
saumon better nor mysel'. They're like sheep--fat ane daes, the tithers
will dae; an' gin the dowager hookit a fush, I hadna muckle doobt fat
that fush wad dae. The dowager didna keep me vera lang in suspense. I
had only chyngt her fly ance, an' she had maist fushed doon the pool a
secont time, whan in the ripple o' watter at the head o' the draw abune
the rapid a fush took her 'Riach' wi' a greedy sook, an' the line was
rinnin' oot as gin there had been a racehorse at the far end o't, the
saumon careerin' up the pool like a flash in the clear watter. The
dowager was as fu' o' life as was the fush. Odd, but she kent brawly
hoo tae deal wi' her saumon--that I will say for her! There was nae
need for me tae bide closs by the side o' a leddy that had boastit
there was na a fush in Spey she cudna maister, sae I clamb up the bank,
sat doun on ma doup on a bit hillock, an' took the leeberty o' lichtin'
ma pipe. Losh! but that dowager spanged up an' doun the waterside among
the stanes aifter that game an' lively fush; an' troth, but she was as
souple wi' her airms as wi' her legs; for, rinnin' an' loupin' an'
spangin' as she was, she aye managed for tae keep her line ticht. It
was a dooms het day, an' there wasna a ruffle o' breeze; sae nae doobt
the fush was takin' as muckle oot o' her as she was takin' oot o' the
fush. In aboot ten meenits there happent juist fat I had expectit. The
fush made a sidelins shoot, an' dairted intil the vera crevice occupeed
by Leddy Carline's fush the day afore. 'Noo for the fun!' thinks I, as
I sat still an' smokit calmly. She was certently a perseverin' wummun,
that dowager--there was nae device she didna try wi' that saumon tae
force him oot o' the cleft. Aifter aboot ten meenits mair o' this wark,
she shot at me ower her shouther the obsairve, 'Isn't it an obstinate
wretch?' 'Aye,' says I pawkily, 'he's gey dour; but he's only a Spey
fush, an' of coorse ye'll maister him afore ye've dune wi' him!' I'm
thinkin' she unnerstude the insinivation, for she uttert deil anither
word, but yokit tee again fell spitefu' tae rug an' yark at the sulkin'
fush. At last, tae mak a lang story short, she was fairly dune.
'Geordie,' says she waikly, 'the beast has quite worn me out! I'm fit
to melt--there is no strength left in me; here, come and take the rod!'
Weel, I deleeberately raise, poocht ma pipe, an' gaed doun aside her.
'My leddy,' says I, quite solemn, an' luikin' her straucht i' the
face--haudin' her wi' my ee, like--'I hae been tellt fat yer leddyship
said yestreen, that there wasna a saumon in Spey ye cudna maister. Noo,
I speer this at yer leddyship--respectfu' but direck; div ye admit
yersel clean bestit--fairly lickit wi' that fush, Spey fush though it
be? Answer me that, my leddy!' 'I do own myself beaten,' says she, 'and
I retract my words.' 'Say nae mair, yer leddyship!' says I--for I'm no
a cruel man--'say nae mair, but maybe ye'll hae the justice for tae say
a word tae the same effeck in the Castle whaur ye spak yestreen?' 'I
promise you I will,' said the dowager--'here, take the rod!' Weel, it
was no sae muckle a fush as was Leddy Carline's. I had it oot in a few
meenits, an' by that time the dowager was sae far revived that she was
able to bring it in aboot tae the gaff; an' sae, in the hinner end, she
in a sense maistert the fush aifter aa'. But I'm thinkin' she will be
gey cautious in the futur' aboot belittlin' the smeddum o' Spey saumon!"



THE CAWNPORE OF TO-DAY


The traveller up the country from Calcutta does not speedily reach
places the names of which vividly recall the episodes of the great
Mutiny. It is a chance if, as the train passes Dinapore, he remembers
the defection of the Sepoy brigade stationed there which Koer Singh
seduced from its allegiance. Arrah may possibly recall a dim memory of
Wake's splendid defence of Boyle's bungalow and of Vincent Eyre's
dashingly executed relief of the indomitable garrison. Benares is a
little off the main line--Benares, on the parade ground of which Neill
first put down that peremptory foot of his, where Olpherts was so quick
with those guns of his, and where Jim Ellicott did his grim work with
noose and cross-beam until long after the going down of the summer sun.
But when the traveller's eye first rests on the gray ramparts of
Akbar's hoary fortress in the angle where the Ganges and the Jumna meet
and blend one with another, the reality of the Mutiny begins to impress
itself upon him. Allahabad was the scene of a terrible tragedy; it was
also the point of departure whence Havelock set forward on Cawnpore
with his column, not indeed of rescue, but of retribution. The journey
from Allahabad to Cawnpore, although perchance performed in the night,
is not one to be slept through by any student of the story of the great
rebellion. The Indian moon pours her flood of light on the little knoll
hard by Futtehpore, where Havelock stood when Jwala Pershad's first
round shot came lobbing, through his staff in among the camp kettles of
the 64th. That village beyond the mango tope is Futtehpore itself,
whence the rebel sowars swept headlong down the trunk road till Maude's
guns gave them the word to halt. The pools are dry now through which,
when Hamilton's voice had rung out the order--"Forward, at the double!"
the light company of the Ross-shire Buffs splashed recklessly past the
abandoned Sepoy guns, in their race with the grenadier company of the
64th that had for its goal the Pandy barricade outside the village. In
that cluster of mud huts--its name is Aoong--the gallant Rénaud fell
with a shattered thigh, as he led his "Lambs" up to the _épaulement_
which covered its front. One fight a day is fair allowance anywhere,
but those fellows whom Havelock led were gluttons for fighting.
Spanning that deep rugged nullah there, down which the Pandoo flows
turbulently in the rainy season, is the bridge across which in the
afternoon of the morning of Aoong, Stephenson with his Fusiliers dashed
into the Sepoy battery and bayoneted the gunners before they could make
up their minds to run away. And it was in the gray morning following
the day of that double battle (the 15th of July) that the General,
having heard for the first time that there were still alive in Cawnpore
a number of women and children who had escaped the massacre of the
boats, told his men what he knew. "With God's help," shouted Havelock,
with a break in his voice that was like a sob, as he stood with his hat
off and his hand on his sword--"with God's help, men, we will save
them, or every man die in the attempt!" One answer came back in a great
cheer; but a sadder answer to the aspiration, a bitter truth that made
that aspiration futile and hopeless, had lain ever since the evening of
the day before in the Beebeegur, and almost as the chief was speaking
the Well was receiving its dead inmates. Where the train begins to
slacken its pace on approaching the station, it is passing over the
field of the first--the creditable--battle of Cawnpore. Fresh from the
butchery Nana Sahib (Dhoondoo Punth) himself had come out to aid in the
last stand against the avengers. Yonder is the mango tope which formed
the screen for Hamilton's turning movement. It needs little imagination
to recall the scene. Close by, at the cross-roads, stands the Sepoy
battery, and those horsemen still nearer are reconnoitring sowars.
Beyond the road the Highlanders are deploying on the plain as they
clear the sheltering flank of the mango trees, amidst a grim silence
broken only by the crash of the bursting shells and the cries of the
bullock-drivers as the guns rattle on to open fire from the reverse
flank. The flush rises in Hamilton's face and the eyes of him begin to
sparkle, as he shouts "Ross-shire Buffs, wheel into line!" and then
"Forward!" Quick as lightning the trails of the Sepoy guns are swung
round and shot and shell come crashing through the ranks, while the
rebel infantry, with a swiftness which speaks well for their British
drill, show a front against this inroad on their flank. In silent grim
imperturbability the Highland line stalks steadily on with the long
springy step to be learned only on the heather. Now they are within
eighty yards of the muzzles of the guns, and they can see the colour of
the mustaches of the men plying and supporting them. Then Hamilton,
with his sword in the air and his face all ablaze with the fighting
blood in him, turns round in the saddle, shouts "Charge!" and bids the
pipers to strike up. Wild and shrill bursts over that Indian plain the
rude notes of the Northern music. But louder yet, drowning them and the
roll of the artillery, rings out that Highland war-cry that has so
often presaged victory to British arms. The Ross-shire men are in and
over the guns ere the gunners have time to drop their lint-stocks and
ramming-rods; they fall with bayonets at the charge upon the supporting
infantry, and the supporting infantry go down where they huddle
together, lacking the opportunity to break and run away in time. But
the battle rages all day, and the white soldiers, as they fight their
way slowly forward, hear the bursts of military music that greet the
Nana as he moves from place to place, _not_ in the immediate front.
Barrow and his handful of cavalry volunteers crash into the thick of
them with the informal order to his men, "Give point, lads; damn cuts
and guards." Young Havelock, mounted by the side of the gallant and
ill-fated Stirling trudging forward on foot, brings the 64th on at the
double against the great 24-pounder on the Cawnpore road that is
vomiting grape at point-blank range. The night falls and the battle
ceases, but among the wearied fighting men there is none of the elation
of victory; for through the ranks, after the going down of the sun, had
throbbed the bruit, originating no one knew where, that the women and
children in Cawnpore had been butchered on the afternoon of the day
before, while Stephenson and his Fusiliers were carrying the bridge of
the Pandoo Nuddee.

The railway station of Cawnpore is distant more than a mile from the
cantonment. Close to the road and not far from the station, the
explorer easily finds the massive pile of the "Savada House," now
allotted as residences for railway officials. English children play now
in the corridors once thronged by the minions of the Nana, for here
were his headquarters during part of the siege. Its verandas all day
long were full of ministers, diviners, courtiers, and creatures. Here
strolled the supple, panther-like Azimoolah, the self-asserted
favourite of home society in the pre-Mutiny days. Teeka Sing, the
Nana's war minister, had his "bureau" in a tent under the peepul tree
there. In that other clump of trees, where an ayah is tickling a white
baby into laughter, was the pavilion of the Nana himself, who inherited
the Mahratta preference for canvas over bricks and mortar. And here,
while the crackle of the musketry fire and the din of the big guns came
softened on the ear by distance, sat the adopted son of the Peishwa
while Jwala Pershad came for orders about the cavalry, and Bala Rao,
his brother, explained his devices for harassing the sahibs, and Tantia
Topee, Hoolass Sing, Azimoolah, and the Nana himself devised the scheme
of the treachery. But the Savada House has even a more lurid interest
than this. Hither the women and children whom an unkind fate had spared
from dying with the men were brought back from the Ghaut of Slaughter.
You may see the two rooms into which 125 unfortunates were huddled
after that march from before the presence of one death into the
presence of another. As they plodded past the intrenchment so long
held, and across the plain to the Nana's pavilion, "I saw," says a
spectator, "that many of the ladies were wounded. Their clothes had
blood upon them. Two were badly hurt and had their heads bound up with
handkerchiefs; some were wet, covered with mud and blood, and some had
their dresses torn; but all had clothes. I saw one or two children
without clothes. There were no men in the party, but only some boys of
twelve or thirteen. Some of the ladies were barefoot." Hither, too,
were sent later the women of that detachment of the garrison which had
got off from the ghaut in the boat defended by Vibart, Ashe, Delafosse,
Bolton, Moore, and Thomson, and which had been captured at Nuzzufghur
by Baboo Ram Bux. It had been for those people a turbulent departure
from the Suttee Chowra Ghaut, but it was a yet more fearful returning.
"They were brought back," testified a spy; "sixty sahibs, twenty-five
memsahibs, and four children. The Nana ordered the sahibs to be
separated from the memsahibs, and shot by the 1st Bengal Native
Infantry.... 'Then,' said one of the memsahibs, 'I will not leave my
husband. If he must die I will die with him.' So she ran and sat down
behind her husband, clasping him round the waist. Directly she said
this, the other memsahibs said, 'We also will die with our husbands,'
and they all sat down each by her husband. Then their husbands said,
'Go back,' and they would not. Whereupon the Nana ordered his soldiers,
and they went in, pulling them forcibly away." ...

The drive from the railway station to the European cantonments is
pleasant and shaded. At a bend in the road there comes into view a
broad, flat, treeless parade ground. This plain lies within a circle of
foliage, above which, on the south-eastern side, rise the balconies and
flat tops of a long range of barracks built in detached blocks, while
around the rest of the circle the trees shade the bungalows of the
cantonment. Near the centre of this level space there is an irregular
enclosure defined by a shallow sunk wall and low quickset hedge, and in
the middle of this enclosure rises the ornate and not wholly
satisfactory structure known as the "Memorial Church." It is built on
the site of the old dragoon hospital, which was the very focus of the
agony of the siege. It is impossible to analyse the mingled emotions of
amazement, pride, pity, wrath, and sorrow which fill the visitor to
this shrine of British valour, endurance, and constancy. The heart
swells and the eyes fill as one, standing here with all the arena of
the heroism lying under one's eyes, recalls the episodes of the
glorious, piteous story. The blood stirs when one remembers the buoyant
valour of the gallant Moore, who, "wherever he passed, left men
something more courageous and women something less unhappy," the
reckless audacity of Ashe, the cool daring of Delafosse, the deadly
rifle of Stirling, the heroic devotion of Jervis. And a great lump
grows in the throat when one bethinks him of the beautiful constancy
and fearful sufferings of the women; of British ladies going barefoot
and giving up their stockings as cases for grape-shot; of Mrs. Moore's
journeys across to No. 2 Barrack; of the hapless gentlewomen, "unshod,
unkempt, ragged, and squalid, haggard and emaciated, parched with
drought, and faint with hunger, sitting waiting to hear that they were
widows." And what a place it was which the garrison had to defend! Not
a foot of all the space bomb-proof, an apology for an intrenchment such
as "an active cow might jump over." The imagination has to do much work
here, for most of the landmarks are gone. The outline of the
world-famous earthwork is almost wholly obliterated; only in places is
it to be dimly recognised by brick-discoloured lines, and a low raised
line on the smooth _maidan_. The enclosure now existing has no
reference to the outlines of the intrenchment. That enclosure merely
surrounds the graveyard, in the midst of which stands the "Memorial
Church," a structure that cannot be commended from an architectural
point of view. But the space enclosed around its gaunt red walls is
pregnant with painful interest. We come first on a railed-in memorial
tomb, bearing an inscription in raised letters, on a cross let into the
tessellated pavement: "In three graves within this enclosure lie the
remains of Major Edward Vibart, 2nd Bengal Cavalry, and about seventy
officers and soldiers, who, after escaping from the massacre at
Cawnpore on the 27th June 1857, were captured by the rebels at
Sheorapore, and murdered on the 1st July." The inmates of these graves
were originally buried elsewhere, and were removed hither when the
enclosure was formed. In another part of the enclosure is a raised
tomb, the slab of which bears the inscription: "This stone marks a spot
which lay within Wheeler's intrenchment, and covers the remains and is
sacred to the memory of those who were the first to meet their death
when beleaguered by mutineers and rebels in June 1857." Two only lie in
this grave, Mr. Murphy and a lady who died of fever. These two perished
on the first day of the siege and had the exclusive privilege of being
decently interred within the precincts of the intrenchment. After the
first day of the siege there was scant leisure for funeral rites. To
find the last resting-place of the remaining dead of this siege, we
must quit the enclosure and walk across the _maidan_ to a spot among
the trees by the roadside under the shadow of No. 4 Barrack. There was
an empty well here when the siege begun; three weeks after, when the
siege ended, this well contained the bodies of 250 British people. With
daylight the battle raged around that sepulchre, but when the night
came the slain of the day were borne thither with stealthy step and
scant attendance. Now the well is filled up, and above it, inside a
small ornamental enclosure formed by iron railings, there rises a
monument which bears the following inscription: "In a well under this
enclosure were laid by the hands of their fellows in suffering the
bodies of men, women, and children, who died hard by during the heroic
defence of Wheeler's intrenchment when beleaguered by the rebel Nana."
Below the inscription is this apposite quotation from Psalm cxli. 7:
"Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and
cleaveth wood upon the earth. But mine eyes are unto Thee, O God the
Lord." At the corners of the flower-plot are small crosses bearing
individual names. One commemorates Sir George Parker, the cantonment
magistrate; a second, Captain Jenkins; a third, Lieutenant Saunders and
the men of the 84th Regiment; a fourth, Lieutenant Glanville and the
men of the Madras Fusiliers; and here, too, lies stout-hearted yet
tender-hearted John MacKillop of the Civil Service the hero of another
well, that from which the team of buffaloes are now drawing water to
make the mortar for the Memorial Church. Thence was procured the water
for the garrison and it was a target also for the rebel artillery, so
that the appearance of a man with a pitcher by day and by night the
creaking of the tackle, was the signal for a shower of grape. But John
MacKillop, "not being a fighting-man," made himself useful as he
modestly put it, for a week as captain of the Well, till a grape-shot
sent him to that other well thence never to return.

The Memorial Church is in the form of a cross, and now that it has been
finished is not destitute of beauty as regards its interior. Perhaps it
is in place, but the noblest monument that could commemorate Cawnpore
would have been the maintenance, for the wonder of the world unto all
time, of the intrenchment and what it surrounded, as nearly as possible
in the condition in which they were left on the evacuation of the
garrison. The grandest monument in the world is the Residency of
Lucknow, which remains and is kept up substantially in the condition in
which it was left when Sir Colin Campbell brought out its garrison in
November 1857; and the Cawnpore intrenchment would have been a still
nobler memorial as the abiding testimony to a defence even more
wonderful, although unfortunately unsuccessful, than that of Lucknow.
But the Memorial Church of Cawnpore will always be interesting by
reason of its site and of the memorial tablets on the walls of its
interior. In the left transept is a tablet "To the memory of the
Engineers of the East Indian Railway, who died and were killed in the
great insurrection of 1857; erected in affectionate remembrance by
their brother Engineers in the North-West Provinces." On the left side
of the nave are several tablets. One is to the memory of poor young
John Nicklen Martin, killed in the battle at Suttee Chowra Ghaut.
Another commemorates three officers, two sergeants, two corporals, a
drummer, and twenty privates of the 34th Regiment, killed at the
(second) Battle of Cawnpore on the 28th November 1857; the day on which
the Gwalior Contingent, seduced into rebellion by Tantia Topee, made
itself so unpleasant to General Windham, the "Cawnpore Runners," and
other regiments of that officer's command. A third tablet is "To the
memory of A.G. Chalwin, 2nd Light Cavalry, and his wife Louisa, who
both perished during the siege of Cawnpore in July 1857. These are they
which came out of great tribulation." A fourth commemorates Captain
Gordon and Lieutenant Hensley, of the 82nd Foot, also victims of the
Gwalior Contingent. In the right of the nave there is a tablet "Sacred
to the memory of Philip Hayes Jackson, who, with Jane, his wife, and
her brother Ralf Blyth Croker, were massacred by rebels at Cawnpore on
27th June." Another is to Lieutenant Angelo, of the 16th Grenadiers
Bengal Native Infantry, who also fell in the boat massacre; and a third
is to the memory of the gallant Stuart Beatson, who was Havelock's
adjutant-general, and who, dying as he was of cholera, did his work at
Pandoo Nuddee and Cawnpore in a _dhoolie_. In the right transept are
tablets in memory of the officers of the Connaught Rangers, and of the
officers and men of the 32nd Cornwall Regiment "who fell in defence of
Lucknow and Cawnpore and subsequent campaign"--fourteen officers and
448 "women and men." And here, too, is perhaps the most affecting
memorial of any--a tablet "In memory of Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Wainwright,
Miss Wainwright, Mrs. Hill, forty-three soldiers' wives and fifty-five
children, murdered in Cawnpore in 1857."

It is easy enough now to follow the footsteps of Mrs. Moore, dangerous
as was that journey of hers, from the intrenchment to the corner of No.
2 Barrack, which she was wont to make when her husband went on duty
there to strengthen the hands of Mowbray Thomson. There is no trace now
and the very memory of its whereabouts is lost, of the bamboo hut in a
sheltered corner which the garrison of this exposed post built for the
brave gentlewoman. But No. 2 Barrack, except that it is finished and
tenanted, stands now very much as it did when Glanville first, and when
he fell then Mowbray Thomson, defended with a success which seems so
wonderful when we look at the place defended and its situation. The
garrison was not always the same. "My sixteen men," writes Thomson,
"consisted in the first instance of Ensign Henderson of the 56th Native
Infantry, five or six of the Madras Fusiliers, two plate-layers, and
some men of the 84th. The first instalment was soon disabled. The
Madras Fusiliers were all shot at their posts. Several of the 84th also
fell, but in consequence of the importance of the position, as soon as
a loss in my little corps was reported, Captain Moore sent us over a
reinforcement from the intrenchment. Sometimes a soldier, sometimes a
civilian, came. The orders given us were not to surrender with our
lives, and we did our best to obey them." And in a line with No. 2
Barrack is No. 4 Barrack, held with equal stanchness by a party of
Civil Engineers who had been employed on the East Indian Railroad, and
who had for their commander Captain Jenkins. Seven of the engineers
perished in defence of this post.

There is nothing more to see on the _maidan_, and one feels his anger
rising at the obliteration of everything that might help towards the
localisation of associations. Let us leave the scene of the defence and
follow the track of the defenders as they marched down to the scene of
the great treachery. The distance from the intrenchment to the ghaut is
barely a mile. Think of that stirrup-cup--that _doch an dhorras_--of
cold water, in which the hapless band pledged one another. The noble
Moore cheerily leads the way down the slope to the bridge with the
white rails with an advance guard of a handful of his 32nd men. The
palanquins with the women, the children, and the wounded follow, the
latter bandaged up with strips of women's gowns and petticoats, and
fragments of shirt-sleeves. And then come the fighting-men--a gallant,
ragged, indomitable band. A martinet colonel would stand aghast--for
save a regimental button here and there, he would find it hard to
recognise the gaunt, hairy, sun-scorched squad for British soldiers.
But let who might incline to disown these few war-worn men in their
dirty flannel rags and fragmentary nankeen breeches, their foes know
them for what they are, and make way for the white sahibs with no
dressing indeed in their ranks, but each man with his rifle on his
shoulder, the deadly revolver in his belt, and the fearless glance in
the hollow eye. The wooden bridge with the white rails spans at right
angles a rough irregular glen which widens out as it approaches the
river, some three hundred yards distant from the bridge. It is a mere
footpath that leaves the road on the hither side of the bridge, and
skirting the dry bed of the nullah touches the river close to the old
temple. By this footpath it was that our countrymen and countrywomen
passed down to the cruel ambush which had been laid for them in the
mouth of the glen. There are few to whom the details of that fell scene
are not familiar. What a contrast between the turmoil and devilry of it
and the serene calmness of the all but solitude the ghaut now presents!
On the knolls of the farther side snug bungalows nestle among the
trees, under the veranda of one of which a lady is playing with her
children. The village of Suttee Chowra on the bluff on the left of the
ghaut, where Tantia Topee's sepoys were concealed, no longer exists; a
pretty bungalow and its compound occupy its site. The little temple on
the water's edge by the ghaut is slowly mouldering into decay; on the
plaster of the coping of its river wall you may still see the marks of
the treacherous bullets. The stair which, built against its wall, led
down to the water's edge, has disappeared. Tantia Topee's dispositions
for the perpetration of the treachery could not now succeed, for the
Ganges has changed its course and there is deep water close in shore at
the ghaut. In the stream nearest to the Oude side the river has cast up
a long narrow dearah island, in the fertile mud of which melons are
cultivated where once whistled the shot from the guns on the Oude side
of the river. A Brahmin priest is placidly sunning himself on the river
platform of the temple over the dome of which hangs the foliage of a
peepul tree. A dhobie is washing the shirts of a sahib in the stream
that once was dyed with the blood of the sahibs. There is no monument
here, no superfluous reminder of the terrible tragedy. The man is not
to be envied whose eyes are dry, and whose heart beats its normal
pulsations, while he stands here alone on this spot so densely peopled
by associations at once so tragic and so glorious.

The scene of the final massacre lies some distance higher up the river.
As we cross the Ganges canal, the native city lying on our left, there
rises up before us the rich mass of foliage that forms the outer screen
of the beautiful Memorial Gardens. The hue of the greenery would be
sombre but for the blossoms which relieve it, emblem of the divine hope
which mitigated the gloom of despair for our countrywomen who perished
so cruelly in this balefully historic spot. Of the Beebeeghur, the term
by which among the natives is known the bungalow where the massacre was
perpetrated, not one stone now remains on another but neither its
memory nor its name will be lost for all time. Natives are strolling in
the shady flower-bordered walks of the Memorial Gardens, the
prohibition which long debarred their entrance having been wisely
removed. In the centre of the garden rises, fringed with cypresses, a
low mound, the summit of which is crowned by a circular screen, or
border, of light and beautiful open-work architecture. The circular
space enclosed is sunken, and from the centre of this sunken space
there rises a pedestal on which stands the marble presentment of an
angel. There is no need to explain what episode in the tragic story
this monument commemorates; the inscription round the capital of the
pedestal tells its tale succinctly indeed, but the words burn.
"Sacred," it runs, "to the perpetual memory of the great company of
Christian people, chiefly women and children, who near this spot were
cruelly massacred by the followers of the rebel, Nana Doondoo Punth of
Blithoor; and cast, the dying with the dead, into the well below, on
the 15th day of July 1857." A few paces to the north-west of the
monument is the spot where stood the bungalow in which the massacre was
done; and now, where the sight they saw maddened our countrymen long
ago to a frenzy of revenge, there bloom roses and violets. And a step
farther on, in a thicket of arbor vitae trees and cypresses, is the
Memorial Churchyard, with its many nameless mounds, for here were
buried not a few who died during the long occupation of Cawnpore, and
in the combats around it. Here there is a monument to Thornhill, the
Judge of Futtehghur, Mary his wife, and their two children, who
perished in the massacre. Thornhill was one of the males brought out
from the bungalow and shot earlier in the afternoon than when the
women's time came. Another monument bears this inscription: "Sacred to
the memory of the women and children of the 32nd, this monument is
raised by twenty men of the same regiment, who were passing through
Cawnpore, 21st Nov. 1857." And among the tombstones are those of
gallant Douglas Campbell of the 78th, Woodford of the 2nd Battalion
Rifle Brigade, and Young of the 4th Bengal Native Infantry.



BISMARCK

BEFORE AND DURING THE FRANCO-GERMAN WAR


The ex-Chancellor of the German Empire owed nothing of his unique
career to adventitious advantages. Otto von Bismarck-Schoenhausen, who
for more than a generation was the most prominent and most powerful
personality of Europe, was essentially a self-made man. He was a
younger son of a cadet family of a knightly and ancient but somewhat
decayed house, ranking among the lesser nobility of the Alt Mark of
Brandenburg. The square solid mansion in which he was born, embowered
among its trees in the region between the Elbe and the Havel, might be
taken by an Englishman for the country residence of a Norfolk or
Somersetshire squire of moderate fortune. But memories cling around the
massive old family place of Schoenhausen, such as can belong to no
English residence of equal date. In the library door of the Brandenburg
mansion are seen to this day three deep fissures made by the bayonet
points of French soldiers fresh from the battlefield of Jena, who in
their brutal lawlessness pursued the young and beautiful chatelaine of
the house and strove to crush in the door which the fugitive had locked
behind her. The lady thus terrified and outraged was the mother of
Bismarck; and the story told him in boyhood of his loved mother's
narrow escape from worse than death, and of his father's having to
conceal her in the depth of the adjoining forest, may well have
inspired their son with the ill-feeling against the French nation which
he never cared to disguise.

The Bismarcks had been fighting men from time immemorial, and the
combatant nature of the great scion of their race displayed itself in
frequent duels during his university career at Göttingen. In the series
of some eight-and-twenty duels in which he engaged during his first
three terms, he was wounded but twice--once in the leg and again on the
cheek, the mark of which latter wound he bears to this day. At one time
he seems to have all but decided to embrace the military career but for
family reasons he became a country gentleman, and if Europe had
remained undisturbed by revolution he might have lived and died a
bucolic squire, "Dyke Captain" of his district, with a seat in the
Provincial Diet, a liking for history and philosophy, a propensity to
rowdyism and drinking bouts of champagne and porter, and a character
which defined itself in his local appellation of "Mad Bismarck." _Dis
aliter visum_. The Revolution of 1848 swept over Europe and Bismarck
rallied to the support of his sovereign. When in 1851 the young
Landwehr lieutenant was sent to Frankfort by that sovereign as the
representative of Prussia in the German Diet, he carried with him a
reputation for unflinching devotion to the Crown, for a conservatism
which had been styled not only "mediaeval" but "antediluvian," and for
startling originality in his views as well as fearlessness in
expressing them. The latter attribute he displayed when, in reply to a
remark of a French diplomat on a question of policy, "_Cette politique
va vous conduire à Jena_," Bismarck significantly retorted, "_Pourquoi
pas à Leipsic ou à Waterloo?_" During his tenure of office at Frankfort
his conviction steadfastly strengthened that Prussia could become a
great nation only by shaking herself free from the Austrian supremacy
in Germany. "It is my conviction," he placed on record in a despatch
soon after the Crimean War, "that at no distant time we shall have to
fight with Austria for our very existence;" and he was yet more
emphatic when he wrote just before leaving Frankfort to take up his new
position as German Ambassador to Russia in the beginning of 1859: "I
recognise in our relations with the Bund a certain weakness affecting
Prussia, which, sooner or later, we shall have to cure _ferro et
igni_"--with fire and sword--words which embodied the first distinct
enunciation of that policy of "blood and iron" which was destined
ultimately to bring about the unification of Germany. His disgust was
so strong that Prussia did not assert herself against Austria in 1858
when the latter's hands were full in Italy, that his continued presence
at Frankfort was considered unadvisable. He remained "in ice"--to use
his own expression--at St. Petersburg until early in 1862; and in
September of that year, after a few months of service as Prussian
Ambassador at Paris, he was appointed by King Wilhelm to the high and
onerous post of Minister-President with the portfolio of Foreign
Secretary. It was then that his great career as a European statesman
really began.

The impression is all but universal that King Wilhelm throughout the
eventful years which followed was but the figure-head of the ship at
the helm of which stood Bismarck, strong, shrewd, subtle, cynical, and
unscrupulous. This conception I believe to be utterly wrong. I hold
Wilhelm to have been the virtual maker of the united Germany and the
creator of the German Empire; and that the accomplishment of both those
objects, the former leading up to the latter, was already quietly in
his mind long before he mounted the throne. I consider him to have
possessed the shrewdest insight into character. I believe him to have
been quite unscrupulous, when once he had brought himself to cross the
threshold of a line of action. I discern in him this curious, although
not very rare, phase of character, that although resolutely bent on a
purpose he was apt to be irresolute and even reluctant in bringing
himself to consent to measures whereby that purpose was to be
accomplished. He was that apparent contradiction in terms, a bold
hesitator; he habitually needed, and knew that he needed, to have his
hand apparently forced for the achievement of the end he was most bent
upon. He knew full well that his aspirations could be fulfilled only at
the bayonet point; and recognising the defects of the army, he had
while still Regent set himself energetically to the task of making
Prussia the greatest military power of Europe. He it was who had put
into the hands of Prussian soldiers the weapon that won Königgrätz.
With his clear eye for the right man he had found Moltke and placed the
premier strategist of his day at the head of the General Staff. Roon he
picked out as if by intuition from comparative obscurity, and assigned
to him the work of preparing and carrying out that scheme of army
reform which all continental Europe has copied.

And then, constant in the furtherance of his purposes, Wilhelm
deliberately invented Bismarck. He had steadfastly taken note of the
man whom he chose to be his minister from the big Landwehr lieutenant's
first commission to the Frankfort Diet in 1851; probably, indeed,
earlier, when Bismarck was a rare but forcible speaker in Frederick
Wilhelm's "quasi-Parliament." In Bismarck Wilhelm saw precisely the man
he wanted--the complement of himself; arbitrary as he was, unscrupulous
as he was, but bolder and at the same time more wise. Knowing where he
himself was lacking, he recognised the man who, when he himself should
have the impulse to balk and hesitate, was of that hardier
nature--"grit" the Americans call it--to take him hard by the head and
force him over the fence which all the while he had been longing to be
on the other side of. To a monarch of this character Bismarck was
simply the ideal guide and support--the man to urge him on when
hesitating, to restrain him when over-ardent. Wilhelm had all along
thoroughly realised that war with Austria was among the inevitables
between him and the accomplishment of his aims, and had accepted it as
such when it was yet afar off; but when confronted full with it his
nerve failed him, and Bismarck--engaged among other things for just
such an emergency--had to act as the spur to prick the side of his
master's intent. The spur having done its work Wilhelm was himself
again; he really enjoyed Königgrätz and would fain have dictated peace
to Austria from the Hofburg of Vienna. In his zeal for promoting German
unity at Prussia's bayonet point he lost his head a little, and on
Bismarck devolved, in his own words, "the ungrateful duty of diluting
the wine of victory with the water of moderation." One of the beads on
the surface of the former fluid was certainly thus early the Imperial
idea; but the time for its fulfilment Bismarck wisely judged not yet
ripe. As it approached four years later, the diary of the Crown Prince
depicts with unconscious humour the amusing progress of the "weakening"
of Wilhelm's opposition to the Kaisership; it weakened in good time
quite out of the sort of existence it had ever had, and Wilhelm was
ready for the Kaisership before the Kaisership was ready for him.

Bismarck as Premier began as he meant to go on, with uncompromising
masterfulness. The Chamber and the nation might probably have fallen in
willingly with Wilhelm's scheme for the reorganisation and
reinforcement of the army, had it been possible to divulge the intent
in furtherance of which the increased armament was being created. But
since neither monarch nor minister could even hint at the objects in
view, the nation was set against that increased armament for which it
could discern no apparent use. So the Chamber, session after session,
went through the accustomed formula of rejecting the military
reorganisation bill as well as the military expenditure estimates. "No
surrender" was the steadfast motto of Bismarck and his royal master.
The constitution, such as it was, in effect was suspended. The Upper
House voted everything it was asked to vote; loans were duly effected,
the revenues were collected and the military disbursements were made,
right in the teeth of the popular will and the veto of the
representatives of the nation. Bismarck became the best-hated man in
Prussia. He was compared to Catiline and Strafford; he was threatened
with impeachment; the House and the nation clamoured to the King for
his dismissal and for the sovereign's return to the path of
constitutional government.

But the long "conflict-time" was drawing near its close, and the
triumph of the monarch and his minister over the constitution was
approaching. The policy of doing political evil that national advantage
might come was, for once at least, to stand vindicated. War with
Austria as the outcome of Bismarck's astute if unscrupulous statecraft
was imminent when the hostile parliament was dissolved; and a general
election took place amidst the fervid outburst of enthusiasm which the
earlier victories of the Prussian arms in the "Seven Weeks' War"
stirred throughout the nation. The prospect of war had been unpopular
in the extreme, but the tidings of the first success kindled the flame
of patriotism. Bismarck lost for ever the title of the "best-hated man
in Prussia" in the loud volume of the enthusiastic greetings of the
populace, and on the day of Münchengrätz and Skalitz Prussia now
rejoiced to put her stubborn neck under the great minister's foot.

The mingled truculence and tortuousness of the diplomacy by which
Bismarck sapped up to the short but decisive war, the issue of which
gave to Prussia the virtual headship of Germany and contributed so
greatly toward the unification of the Fatherland, constitute a striking
illustration of his methods in statecraft. He was fairly entitled to
say, "_Ego qui feci_." He had achieved his aim in defiance of the
nation. The Court threw its weight into the scale against the war; to
the Crown Prince the strife with Austria was notoriously repugnant. The
King himself, as the crisis approached, evinced marked hesitation. How
triumphantly the event vindicated the policy of the great Premier, is a
matter of history. He has frankly owned that if the decisive battle
should have resulted in a Prussian defeat, he had resolved not to
survive the shipwreck of his hopes and schemes. And there was a period
in the course of the colossal struggle of Königgrätz, when to many men
it seemed that the wielders of the needle-gun were having the worst of
the battle. An awful hour for Bismarck, conscious of the load of
responsibility which he carried. With great effort he could indeed
maintain a calm visage, but his heart was beating and every pulse of
him throbbing. In his torture of suspense he caught at straws. Moltke
asked him for a cigar. As Bismarck handed him his cigar case he
snatched a shred of comfort from the inference that if matters were
very bad Moltke could hardly care to smoke. But Moltke was not only in
a frame for tobacco but Bismarck watched with what deliberate coolness
the great strategist inspected and smelt at cigar after cigar before
making his final selection; and he dared to infer that the man who best
understood the situation was in no perturbation as to the ultimate
outcome. The opportune arrival of the Crown Prince's army on the
Austrian right flank decided the business, and that arrival Bismarck
was the first to discern. Lines were dimly visible on the hither slope
of the Chlum heights; but they were pronounced to be ploughed ridges.
Bismarck closed his field-glasses with a snap and exclaimed, "No, these
are not plough furrows; the spaces are not equal; they are marching
lines!" And he was right.

Eighteen days after the victory of Königgrätz the Prussian hosts were
in line on the historic Marchfeld whence the spires of Vienna could be
dimly seen through the heat-haze. The soldiers were eager for the storm
of the famous lines of Florisdorf and King Wilhelm was keen to enter
the Austrian capital. But now the practical wisdom of Bismarck stepped
in and his arguments for moderation prevailed. The peace which ended
the Seven Weeks' War revolutionised the face of Germany. Austria
accepted her utter exile from Germany, recognised the dissolution of
the old Bund, and consented to non-participation in the new North
German Confederation of which Prussia was to have the unquestioned
military and diplomatic leadership. Prussia annexed Hanover, Electoral
Hesse, Nassau, Sleswig and Holstein, Frankfort-on-Main, and portions of
Hesse-Darmstadt and Bavaria. Her territorial acquisitions amounted to
over 6500 square miles with a population exceeding 4,000,000, and the
states with which she had been in conflict paid as war indemnity sums
reaching nearly to £10,000,000 sterling. In a material sense, it had
not been a bad seven weeks for Prussia; in a sense other than material,
she had profited incalculably more. She was now, in fact as in name,
one of the "Great Powers" of Europe. The nation realised at length what
manner of man this Bismarck was and what it owed to him. When the inner
history of the period comes to be written, it will be recognised that
at no time of his extraordinary career did Bismarck prove himself a
greater statesman than during the five days of armistice in July 1866,
when he fought his diplomatic Königgrätz in the Castle of Nikolsburg
and assuaged the wounds of the Austrian defeat by terms the moderation
of which went far to obliterate the memory of the rancour of the recent
strife.

He had been wily enough to secure by vague non-committal half-promises
the neutrality of France during the weeks while Prussia was crushing
the armed strength of Austria in Bohemia. But the issue of Königgrätz
startled Napoleon and set France in ferment. Bismarck dared to refuse
point-blank the demand which the French Emperor made for the fortress
of Mayence, made though that demand was under threat of war. The
Prussian commanders would have liked nothing better than a war with
France, and Roon indeed had warned for mobilisation 350,000 soldiers to
swell the ranks of the forces already in the field; but Bismarck was
wise and could wait. He allowed Napoleon to exercise some influence in
the negotiations in the character of a mediator; and to French
intervention was owing the stipulation that the South German States
should be at liberty to form themselves into a South German
Confederation of which Napoleon hoped to be the patron. But Bismarck
was a better diplomatist than Napoleon. While he formed and knit
together the North German Confederation in which Prussia was dominant,
he quietly negotiated an alliance offensive and defensive with each of
the Southern States separately. No Southern bund was ever formed, and
when the Franco-German War broke out in 1870 Napoleon saw the shipwreck
of his abortive devices in the spectacle of the troops of Bavaria and
Würtemberg marching on the Rhine in line with the battalions of Prussia.

The unity of Germany was not yet; that consummation and the
Kaisership--the two greatest triumphs of Bismarck's life--required
another and a greater war to bring about their accomplishment. During
the interval between 1866 and 1870, while the armed strength of
Northern Germany was being quietly but sedulously perfected, Bismarck
with dexterous caution was smoothing the rough path toward the ultimate
unification. He would not have his hand forced by the enthusiasts for
"the consummation of the national destiny." "No horseman can afford to
be always at a gallop" was the figure with which he met the clamourers
of the Customs Parliament. He invoked the terms of the treaty of Prague
against the spokesmen of the Pan-German party inveighing vehemently
against the policy of delay. He was staunch in his conviction that the
South for its own safety's sake would come into the union the moment
that the North should engage in war. He was a few weeks out in his
reckoning; the Southern States waited until Sedan had been fought, when
the prospect of the spoils of victory was assured; and this measured
delay on their part was the best justification of Bismarck's sagacious
deliberateness. The negotiations were tedious, but at length, on the
evening of 23rd November 1870 the Convention with Bavaria was signed,
and the unity of Germany was an accomplished fact. Busch vividly
depicts the great moment:--

The Chief came in from the salon, and sat down at the table. "Now," he
exclaimed excitedly, "the Bavarian business is settled and everything
is signed. _We have got our German Unity and our German Emperor_."
There was silence for a moment. "Bring a bottle of champagne," said the
Chief to a servant, "it is a great occasion." After musing a little, he
remarked, "The Convention has its defects, but it is all the stronger
on account of them. I count it the most important thing that we have
accomplished during recent years."

Notwithstanding that there was still before Bismarck a period of twenty
years of virtual omnipotence, it was in the memorable years of 1870 and
1871 that the apostle of blood and iron attained the zenith of his
extraordinary career. Germany was his wash-pot; over France had he cast
his shoe. The years of _Sturm und Drang_ were behind him, during which
he had wrought out the military supremacy of Prussia in spite of
herself; and in 1870 he had no misgivings as to the ultimate result. So
confident indeed was he that before he crossed the French frontier on
the second day after the twin victories of Wörth and Spicheren, he had
already resolved on annexing to the Fatherland the old German province
of Alsace which had been part of France for a couple of centuries.
Bismarck was at his best in 1870 in certain attributes; in others he
was at his worst, and a bitter bad worst that worst was. He was at his
best in clear swift insight, in firm masterful grasp of every phase of
every situation, in an instinctive prescience of events, in lucid
dominance over German and European policy. If patriotism consists in
earnest efforts to advantage and aggrandise one's native land _per fas
aut nefas_, than Bismarck during the Franco-German War there never was
a grander patriot. His hands were clean, he wanted nothing for himself
except, curiously enough, the only thing that his old master was strong
enough to deny him, the rank of Field Marshal when that military
distinction was conferred on Moltke. He was at his worst in many
respects. He had, or affected, a truculence which was simply brutal,
its savagery intensified rather than mitigated by a bluff, boisterous
bonhomie. Jules Favre complained to him that the German cannon in front
of Paris fired upon the sick and blind in the Blind Institute, Bismarck
in those days of swaggering prosperity had a fine turn of badinage. "I
don't know what you find so hard in that," he retorted, "you do far
worse; you shoot at our soldiers who are hale and useful fighting men."
It is to be hoped that Favre had a sense of humour; he needed it all to
relish the grim pleasantry.

I do not suppose, if he had had a free hand, that Bismarck would have
exhibited the courage of his opinions; but if his sentiments as
expressed count for anything he would fain have seen the methods of
warfare in the Dark Ages reverted to. "Prisoners! more prisoners!" he
once exclaimed at Versailles, after one of Prince Frederick Charles's
victories in the Loire country--"What the devil do we want with
prisoners? Why don't they make a battue of them?" His motto, especially
as regarded Francs-tireurs, was "No quarter," forgetful of the swarms
of free companions and volunteer bands whose gallant services in
Prussia's War of Liberation are commemorated to this day in song and
story. It was told him that among the French prisoners taken at Le
Bourget were a number of Francs-tireurs--by the way, they were the
volunteers _de la Presse_ and wore a uniform. "That they should ever
take Francs-tireurs prisoners!" roared Bismarck in disgust. "They ought
to have shot them down by files!" Again, when it was reported that
Garibaldi with his 13,000 "free companions" had been taken prisoners,
the Chancellor exclaimed, "Thirteen thousand Francs-tireurs, who are
not even Frenchmen, made prisoners! Why on earth were they not shot?"
And when he heard that Voights Rhetz having experienced some resistance
from the inhabitants of the open town of Tours, had shelled it into
submission, Bismarck waxed wrath because the General had ceased firing
when the white flag went up. "I would have gone on," said he, "throwing
shells into the town till they sent me out 400 hostages." The simple
truth is that in spite of his long pedigree and good blood Bismarck was
not quite a gentleman in our sense of the word; and as this accounts
for his ferocious bluster and truculent bloodthirsty utterances when he
was in power in the war time, so it was the keynote to his more recent
undignified attitude and howls of querulous impatience of his altered
situation. It must be said of him, however, that he was a man of cool
and undaunted courage. I have seen him perfectly impassive under heavy
fire. In Bar-le-Duc, in Rheims, and over and over again in Versailles,
I have met him walking alone and unarmed through streets thronged with
French people who recognised him by the pictures of him, and who glared
and spat and hissed in a cowed, furtive, malign fashion that was ugly
to see.

I vividly remember the first occasion on which I saw Bismarck. It was
on the little tree-shaded _Place_ of St. Johann, the suburb of
Saarbrücken, in the early evening of the 8th August, the next day but
one after the battle of the Spicheren. Saarbrücken was full to the
door-sills with the wounded of the battle and stretcher-parties were
continually tramping to the "warriors' trench" in the cemetery,
carrying to their graves soldiers who had died of their wounds. The
Royal Headquarters had arrived a couple of hours earlier, and I was
staring with all my eyes at a fresh-faced, white-haired old gentleman
who was sitting in one of the windows of Guepratt's Hotel and whom I
knew from the pictures to be King Wilhelm. Two officers in general's
undress uniform were walking up and down under the pollarded
lime-trees, talking as they walked. Presently from out a house opposite
the hotel there emerged a very tall burly man of singularly upright
carriage and with a certain air of swashbucklerism in his gait. A long
cavalry sabre trailed and clanked on the rough pavement as he advanced
to join the two sauntering officers under the trees. He wore the long
blue double-breasted frockcoat with yellow cuffs and facings and white
cap which I knew to be the undress uniform of the Bismarck Cuirassiers,
but he was only partially in undress since the long cuirassier
thigh-boots in which he strode were conventionally full uniform. The
wearer of this costume was Bismarck; nor did I ever see him otherwise
attired except on four occasions--at the Château Bellevue on the
morning after Sedan, in the Galerie des Glaces in the Château of
Versailles on 18th January, in the Place de la Concorde of capitulated
Paris, and in the triumphal entry into Berlin; when he appeared in full
uniform. Saluting His Majesty and then the two officers whom I
recognised as Moltke and Roon, he joined the pedestrian couple, taking
post between them and joining in their promenade and conversation. We
heard his voice and laugh above the rumble of the waggon wheels on the
causeway; the other two spoke little--Moltke, as he moved with bent
head and hands clasped behind his back, scarcely anything.

One would have imagined that those three men, the chief makers of that
empire which was soon to come to the grand but not brilliant old
gentleman in the window-seat, were on the most intimate and cordial
terms. In reality they were jealous of each other with an inconceivable
intensity. Bismarck had umbrage with Moltke because the great
strategist withheld from the great statesman the military information
which the latter held he ought to share. Moltke has roundly disclosed
in his posthumous book his conviction that Roon's place as Minister of
War was at home in Germany, not on campaign, embarrassing the former's
functions. Roon envied Moltke because of the latter's more elevated
military position, and disliked Bismarck because that outspoken man
made light of Roon's capacity. I have known the headquarter staff of a
British army whose members were on bad terms one with the other, and
the result, to put it mildly, was unsatisfactory. But those three high
functionaries, each with bitterness in his heart against his fellows,
nevertheless co-operated earnestly and loyally in the service of their
sovereign and for the advantage of their country. Their common
patriotism had the mastery in them of their mutual hatred and jealousy.
Ardt's line: _"Sein Vaterland muss grösser sein!"_ was the watchword
and inspiration of all three, and dominated their discordancies.

On the 17th August, the day of comparative quietude intervening between
the day of Mars-la-Tour and the day of Gravelotte I was wandering about
among the hamlets and farmsteads to the southward of Mars-la-Tour,
waiting the arrival in their appointed bivouacs about Puxieux of my
early friends of the Saxon Army Corps. Since in the battle of the
previous day some 32,000 men had fallen killed or wounded within a
comparatively small area, it may be imagined--or rather, without having
seen the horror of carnage it cannot be imagined--how shambles-like was
the aspect of this Aceldama. Scrambling up through the Bois la Dame
with intent to obtain a wider view from the plateau above it, I found
in a farmyard in the hamlet of Mariaville a number of wounded men under
the care of a single and rather helpless surgeon. The water supply was
very short and I volunteered to carry some bucketsful from the stream
below. The surgeon told me that among his patients was Count Herbert
Bismarck, the Chancellor's eldest son, who--as was also his younger
brother Count "Bill"--was a volunteer private in the 2nd Guard
Dragoons, and who had been shot in the thigh in the desperate charge
made by that fine regiment to extricate from annihilation the
Westphalian regiments which had suffered so severely near Bruville. A
little later I saw Bismarck who had left the King on the Flavigny
height, and who was riding about, as I assumed, in quest of his wounded
son's whereabouts. I ventured to inform him on this point and he
thanked me with some emotion. He was greatly moved at the meeting with
his son but their interview was short; then he addressed himself to
reproving the surgeon for not having had the Mariaville poultry killed
for the use of the wounded, and presently rode away to order up a
supply of water in barrels. I remember thinking him an exceedingly
practical man.

The English Warwick was styled the "King-maker"; but it was for the
Prussian Bismarck to be Emperor-breaker and Emperor-maker within the
same six months. The most wretched morning of Napoleon's life was that
following the fatal day of Sedan, spent in and before the weaver's
cottage on the Donchery road with Bismarck by his side, telling him in
stern if courteous terms that as a prisoner of war his power to
exercise the Imperial functions had fallen from him. It has been said
that "the egg from which was hatched the German Empire was laid on the
battlefield of Sedan." But, not to speak of the offer of the Imperial
Crown to King Frederick Wilhelm by the Frankfort Parliament in 1848,
Bismarck more than a year before the Austro-Prussian war had spoken to
Lord Augustus Loftus, then British Ambassador to Prussia, of his
ultimate intention that the King of Prussia should become the Emperor
of an united Germany. The _Kaiserthum_ permeated the air of Northern
Germany throughout the years from 1866 to 1870. But Bismarck had the
true statesman's sense of the proper sequence of things. He would move
no step toward the Kaisership until German unity was in near and clear
sight. Then, and not till then, in spite of the Crown Prince's ardour,
was the Imperial project brought forward, discussed, and finally
carried through by Bismarck's tact and diplomacy.

On the 18th January 1871, the anniversary of the coronation of the
first king of his house, Wilhelm was proclaimed German Emperor in the
Galerie des Glaces of the Château of Versailles. Behind the grand old
monarch on the dais were ranged the regimental colours which had been
borne to victory at Wörth and the Spicheren, at Mars-la-Tour,
Gravelotte, and Sedan. On Wilhelm's right was his handsome and princely
son; to right and to left stood potentates and princes and the leaders
of the hosts of United Germany. Stalwart and square, somewhat apart on
the extreme left of the great semicircle of which his sovereign was the
centre, with a face of deadly pallor--for he had risen from a
sick-bed--stood Bismarck in full cuirassier uniform leaning on his
great sword, the man of all others who might that day most truly say,
_"Finis Coronat Opus."_ His strong massive features were calm and
self-possessed, yet elevated as it were by some internal power which
drew all eyes to the great immobile figure with the indomitable
lineaments instinct with will--force and masterfulness. After the
solemn religious service His Majesty in a loud yet broken voice
proclaimed the re-establishment of the German Empire, and that the
Imperial dignity so revived was vested in him and his descendants for
all time in accordance with the unanimous will of the German people.
Bismarck then stood forward and read in sonorous tones the proclamation
which the Emperor addressed to the German nation. As his final words
rang through the hall the Grand Duke of Baden strode forward and
shouted with all his force, "Long live the Emperor Wilhelm!" With a
tempest of cheering, amidst waving of swords and of helmets the new
title was acclaimed, and the Emperor with streaming tears received the
homage of his liegemen. The first on bended knees to kiss his
sovereign's hand was the Crown Prince, the second was Bismarck. The
band struck up the National Anthem. Louder than the music, heard above
the clamour of the cheering, sounded the thunder of the French cannon
from Mont Valérien, the _Ave Caesar_ from the reluctant lips of worsted
France. Bismarck, impassive as he seemed, must have had his emotions as
he quitted this scene of triumph for the banquet-table of the Kaiser of
his own making. He knew himself for the most conspicuous man in Europe,
the greatest subject in the world. It was the proudest day of his life.

There were many proud days still to occur in his long life. One of
those was on the occasion of the German entry into Paris during the
armistice which resulted in peace. The war had been of his making, and
he chose to witness with his own eyes the actual triumph of his craft.
It was a strange spectacle. There, helmet on head and sword on thigh,
he sat in the shadow of the crape-shrouded statue of Strasburg on the
Place de la Concorde. About him had gathered a group of extremely
sinister French of the Belleville type. They had recognised him, and
their lurid upward glances at the massive form on the great war-horse
were charged with baleful meaning. Bismarck once or twice looked down
on them with a grim smile under his moustache. At length the most
daring of the "patriots" emitted a tentative hiss. With a little polite
wave of his gloved hand Bismarck bent over his holster and requested
"Monsieur" to oblige him with a light for his cigar. The man writhed as
he compelled himself to comply. Little doubt that in his heart he
wished the lucifer were a dagger and that he had the courage to use it.



THE INVERNESS "CHARACTER" FAIR

1873


"_Thursday_.--Gathering, hand-shaking, brandy and soda and drams.

"_Friday_.--Drinking, dandering, and feeling the way in the forenoon;
the ordinary in the afternoon; at night a spate of drink and bargaining.

"_Saturday_.--Bargaining and drink.

"_Sunday morning_.--Bargains, drink, and the kirk."

Such was the skeleton programme of the Inverness "Character" Fair given
by a farmer friend to me, who happened to be lazily rusticating in the
north of Scotland during the pleasant month of July. My friend asked me
to accompany him in his visit to this remarkable institution and the
programme was too tempting for refusal. As we drove to the station he
handed me Henry Dixon's _Field and Fern_, open at a page which gave
some particulars of the origin and character of the great annual sheep
and wool market of the north. "Its Character Market," wrote "The
Druid,"--no longer, alas! among us--"is the great bucolic glory of
Inverness. The Fort-William market existed before, but the Sutherland
and Caithness men, who sold about 14,000 sheep and 15,000 stones of
wool annually so far back as 1816, did not care to go there. They dealt
with regular customers year after year, and roving wool-staplers with
no regular connection went about and notified their arrival on the
church door. Patrick Sellar, 'the agent for the Sutherland
Association,' saw exactly that some great _caucus_ of buyers and
sellers was wanted at a more central spot; and on 27th February 1817
that meeting of the clans was held at Inverness which brought the fair
into being. Huddersfield, Wakefield, Halifax, Burnley, Aberdeen, and
Elgin signified that their leading merchants were favourable and ready
to attend. Sutherland, Caithness, Wester Ross, Skye, the Orkneys,
Harris, and Lewis were represented at the meeting; Bailie Anderson also
'would state with confidence that the market was approved of by William
Chisholm, Esq., of Chisholm, and James Laidlaw, tacksman, of Knockfin;'
and so the matter was settled for ever and aye, and the _Courier_ and
the _Morning Chronicle_ were the London advertising media. This
Highland Wool Parliament was originally held on the third Thursday in
June, but now it begins on the second Thursday of July and lasts till
the Saturday; and Argyllshire, Nairnshire, and High Aberdeenshire have
gradually joined in. The plain-stones in front of the Caledonian Hotel
have always been the scene of the bargains, which are most truly based
on the broad stone of honour; not a sheep or fleece is to be seen and
the buyer of the year before gets the first offer of the cast or clip.
The previous proving and public character of the different flocks are
the purchasers' guide far more than the sellers' description."

Thus far "The Druid"; and my companion as we drove supplemented his
information. It is from the circumstance that not a head of sheep or a
tait of wool is brought to the market but that everything is sold and
bought unseen and even unsampled, that the market derives its
appellation of "character" fair. Of the value of the business
transacted, the amount of money turned over, it is impossible to form
with confidence even an approximate estimate since there is no source
for data; but none with whom I spoke put the turnover at a lower figure
than half a million. In a good season such as the past, over 200,000
sheep are disposed of exclusive of lambs, and of lambs about the same
number. The stock sold from the hills are for the most part Cheviots
and Blackfaces; from the low grounds half-breds, being a cross between
Leicester and Cheviot and crosses between the Cheviot and Blackface.
All the sales of sheep and lambs are by the "clad score" which contains
twenty-one. The odd one is thrown in to meet the contingency of deaths
before delivery is effected. Established when there was a long and
wearing journey for the flocks from the hills where they were reared
down to their purchasers in the lowlands or the south country, the
altered conditions of transit have stimulated farmers to efforts for
the abolition of the "clad score." Now that sheep are trucked by
railway instead of being driven on foot or conveyed from the islands to
their destination in steamers specially chartered for the purpose, the
farmers grudge the "one in" of the "clad score." In 1866 they seized
the opportunity of an exceptionally high market and keen competition to
combine against the old reckoning and in a measure succeeded. But next
year was as dull as '66 had been brisk, and then the buyers and dealers
had their revenge and re-established the "clad score" in all its
pristine firmness of position. The sheep-farmers wean their lambs about
the 24th of August and delivery of them is given to the buyers as soon
as possible thereafter. The delivery of ewes and wethers is timed by
individual arrangement. A large proportion of the old ewes--no ewes are
sold but such as are old--go to England where a lamb or two is got from
them before they are fattened. Most of the lambs are bought by
sheep-farmers who, not keeping a ewe flock, are not themselves
breeders, and are kept till they are three years old--"three shears" as
they are technically called--and sold fat into the south country. There
they get what Mr. M'Combie called the last dip and the butcher sells
them as "prime four-year-old wedder mutton."

The size of some of the Highland sheep farms is to be reckoned by miles
not by acres; and the stock, as in Australia, by the thousand. The
largest sheep-owner, perhaps, that the Highlands ever knew was Cameron
of Corrichollie, now dead. He was once examined before a Committee of
the House of Commons, and came to be questioned on the subject of his
ownership of sheep. "You may have some 1500 sheep, probably, sir?"
quoth the interrogating M.P. "Aiblins," was Corrichollie's quiet reply
as he took a pinch of snuff; "aiblins I have a few more nor that." "Two
thousand, then?" "Yes, I pelieve I have that and a few more forpye,"
calmly responded the Highlander with another pinch. "Five thousand?"
"Oh, ay, and a few more." "Twenty thousand, sir?" cried the M.P.,
capping with a burst his previous bid. "Oh, ay, and some more forpye,"
was the imperturbable response. "In Heaven's name how many sheep have
you, man?" burst out the astonished catechist. "I'm no very sure to a
thousan' or two," replied Corrichollie in his dry laconic way and with
an extra big pinch; "but I'm owner of forty thousan' sheep at the
lowest reckoning." Lochiel, known to the Sassenach as Mr. Cameron,
M.P., is perhaps the largest living sheep-owner in Scotland. He has at
least 30,000 sheep on his vast tracks of moorland on the braes of
Lochaber. In the Island of Skye Captain Cameron of Talisker has a flock
of some 12,000; and there are several other flocks both in the islands
and on the mainland of more than equal magnitude. Sheep-farming, at
least in many instances, is an hereditary avocation, and some families
can trace a sheep-farming ancestry very far back. The oldest
sheep-farming family in Scotland are the Mackinnons of Corrie in Skye.
They have been on Corrie for four hundred years and they were holding
sheep-farms elsewhere even earlier. The Macraes of Achnagart in
Kintail, paid rent to Seaforth for two hundred years. For as long
before they had held Achnagart on the tenure of a bunch of heather
exigible annually and their fighting services as good clansmen. Two
hundred years ago an annual rental of £5 was substituted for the
heather "corve"; the clansmen's service continuing and being rendered
up till the '45. Now clanship is but a name: a Seaforth Mackenzie is no
longer chief in Kintail, and the Macrae who has succeeded his forbears
in Achnagart finds the bunch of heather and the £5 alike superseded by
the very far other than nominal rent of £1000. The modern Achnagart
with his broad shoulders and burly frame, looks as capable as were any
of his ancestry to render personal service to his chief if a demand
were made upon him; and very probably would be quite prepared to accept
a reduction of his money rental if an obligation to perform feudal
clan-service were substituted. Achnagart with his £1000 a year rental
by no means tops the sheep-farming rentals of his county. Perhaps
Robertson of Achiltie, whose sheep-walks stretch up on to the
snow-patched shoulders of Ben Wyvis and far away west to Loch Broom,
pays the highest sheep-farming rental in Ross-shire, when the factor
has pocketed his half-yearly check for £800.

Part of this I learn from my friend as we drive to the station; part I
gather afterwards from other sources. The station for which we are
bound is Elgin, the county town of Morayshire. Between Elgin and
Inverness, it is true, we shall see but few of the great sheep-farmers
and flock-masters of the west country, who converge on the annual tryst
from other points of the compass and by various routes--by the Skye
railway, by that portion of the Highland line which extends north of
Inverness, through Ross into Sutherland, by the Caledonian Canal, etc.
But it is promised to me that I shall see many of the notable
agriculturists of Moray land, who go to the market as buyers; and a
contingent of sheep-breeders are sure to join us at Forres, coming down
the Highland line from the Inverness-shire Highlands on Upper
Strathspey. There is quite an exceptional throng on the platform of the
Elgin station, of farmers, factors, lawyers, and
ex-coffee-planters--all very plentiful in Elgin; tanners bound for
investments in prospective pelts; and men of no avocation yet as much
bound to visit Inverness to-day as if they meant to invest thousands.
In a corner towers the mighty form of Paterson of Mulben, famous among
breeders of polls with his tribe of "Mayflowers." From beneath a kilt
peep out the brawny limbs of Willie Brown of Linkwood and Morriston,
nephew of stout old Sir George who commanded the light division at the
Alma, son to a factor whose word in his day was as the laws of the
Medes and Persians over a wide territory, and himself the feeder of the
leviathan cross red ox and the beautiful gray heifer which took honours
so high at one of the recent Smithfield Christmas Shows. There is the
white beard and hearty face of Mr. Collie, late of Ardgay, owner
erstwhile of "Fair Maid of Perth" and breeder of "Zarah." Here, too, is
a fresh, sprightly gentleman in a kilt whom his companions designate
"the Bourach." Requesting an explanation of the term I am told that
"Bourach" is the Gaelic for "through-other," which again is the
Scottish synonym for a kind of amalgam of addled and harum-scarum. A
jolly tanner observes: "I'll get a compartment to oursels." The reason
of the desire for this exclusive accommodation is apparent as soon as
we start. A "deck" of cards is produced and a quartette betake
themselves to whist with half-crown stakes on the rubber and sixpenny
points. This was mild speculation to that which was engaged in on the
homeward journey after the market, when a Strathspey sheep-farmer won
£8 between Dalvey and Forres. As my friends shuffle and deal, I look
out of window at the warm gray towers of the cathedral, beautiful still
spite of the desecrating hand of the "Wolf of Badenoch." Our road lies
through the fertile "Laigh of Moray," one of the richest wheat
districts in the Empire and as beautiful as fertile. At Alves we pick
up a fresh, hale gentleman, who is described to me as "the laird of
three properties," bought for more than £100,000 by a man who began
life as the son of a hillside crofter. We pass the picturesque ruins of
Kinloss Abbey and draw up at Forres station, whose platform is thronged
with noted agriculturists bound for the "Character" Fair. Here is that
spirited Englishman Mr. Harris of Earnhill, whose great cross ox took
the cup at the Agricultural Hall seven or eight years ago; and the
brothers Bruce--he of Newton Struthers, whose marvellous polled cow
beat everything in Bingley Hall at the '71 Christmas Show and but for
"foot and mouth" would have repeated the performance at the Smithfield
Show; and he of Burnside who likewise has stamped his mark pretty
deeply in the latter arena. At Forres we first hear Gaelic; for a train
from Carr Bridge and Grantown in Upper Strathspey has come down the
Highland Railway to join ours, and the red-haired Grants around the
Rock of Craigellachie--where a man whose name is not Grant is regarded
as a _lusus naturae_--are Gaelic speakers to a man. No witches accost
us, and speaking personally I feel no "pricking of the thumbs" as we
skirt the blasted heath on which Macbeth met the witches; the most
graphic modern description of which on record was given to Henry Dixon
in the following quaint form of Shakespearean annotation: "It's just a
sort of eminence; all firs and ploughed land now; you paid a toll near
it. I'm thinking, it's just a mile wast from Brodie Station."

Nairn is that town by the citation of a peculiarity of which King Jamie
put to shame the boastings of the Southrons as to the superior
magnitude of English towns. "I have a town," quoth the sapient James,
"in my ancient kingdom of Scotland, whilk is sae lang that at ane end
of it a different language is spoken from that whilk prevails at the
other." To this day the monarch's words are true; one end of Nairn is
Gaelic, the other Sassenach. Here we obtain a considerable accession of
strength. The attributes of one kilted chieftain are described to me in
curious scraps of illustrative patchwork. "A great litigant, an
enthusiastic agriculturist, a dealer in Hielan' nowt--something of a
Hielan' nowt himself, a semi-auctioneer, a great hand as chairman at an
agricultural dinner, a visitor to the Baker Street Bazaar when the
Smithfield Shows were held there and where the Cockneys mistook him for
one of the exhibits and began pinching and punching him." Stewart of
Duntalloch swings his stalwart form into our carriage--a noted breeder
of Highland cattle and as fine a specimen of a Highlander as can be
seen from Reay to Pitlochrie. "Culloden! Culloden!" chant the porters
in that curious sing-song peculiar to the Scotch platform porter. The
whistle of the engine and the talk about turnips and cattle contrast
harshly with that bleak, lonely, moorland swell yonder--the patches of
green among the brown heather telling where moulders the dust of the
chivalrous clansmen. It is but little longer than a century and a
quarter ago since Charles Stuart and Cumberland confronted each other
over against us there; and here are the descendants of the men that
fought in their tartans for the "King over the Water," who are
discussing the right proportion of phosphates in artificial manures and
of whom one asks me confidentially for my opinion on the Leger
favourite.

Here we are at Inverness at length; that city of the Clachnacudden
stone. There is quite a crowd in the spacious station of business
people who have been awaiting the arrival of the train from the east,
and the buyers and sellers whom it has conveyed find themselves at once
among eager friends. Hurried announcements are made as to the
conditions and prospects of the market. The card-players have plunged
suddenly _in medias res_ of bargaining. The man who had volunteered to
stand me a seltzer and sherry has forgotten all about his offer, and is
talking energetically about clad scores and the price of lambs. I quit
the station and walk up Union Street through a gradually thickening
throng, till I reach Church Street and shoulder my way to the front of
the Caledonian Hotel. I am now in "the heart of the market," standing
as I am on the plain-stones in front of the Caledonian Hotel and
looking up and down along the crowded street. What physique, what broad
shoulders, what stalwart limbs, what wiry red beards and high
cheek-bones there are everywhere! You have the kilt at every turn, in
every tartan, and often in no tartan at all. Other men wear
whole-coloured suits of inconceivably shaggy tweed, and the breadth of
the bonnets is only equalled by that of the accents. Every second man
has a mighty plaid over his shoulder. It may serve as a sample of his
wool, for invariably it is home made. Some carry long twisted crooks
such as we see in old pastoral prints; others have massive gnarled
sticks grasped in vast sinewy hands on the back of which the wiry red
hairs stand out like prickles. There is falling what in the south we
should reckon as a very respectable pelt of rain, but the Inverness
Wool Fair heeds rain no more than thistledown. Hardly a man has thought
it worth his pains to envelop his shoulders in his plaid, but stands
and lets the rain take its chance. There is a perfect babel of tongues;
no bawling or shouting, however, but a perpetual gruff _susurrus_ of
broad guttural conversation accentuated every now and then by a louder
exclamation in Gaelic. Quite half of the throng are discoursing in this
language. It is possible to note the difference in the character of the
Celt and Teuton. The former gesticulates, splutters out a perfect
torrent of alternately shrill, guttural, and intoned Gaelic; he shrugs
his shoulders, he throws his arms about, he thrills with vivacity. The
Teuton expresses quiet, sententious canniness in every gesture and
every utterance; he is a cold-blooded man and keeps his breath to cool
his porridge.

On the plain-stones there are a number of benches on which men sit down
to gossip and chaffer. Scraps of dialogue float about in the moist air.
If you care to be an eavesdropper you must have a knowledge of Gaelic
to be one effectively. "It's to be a stout market," remarks stalwart
Macrae of Invershiel, come of a fine old West Highland stock and
himself a very large sheep-farmer. "Sixteen shillings is my price. I'll
come down a little if you like," says the tenant of Belmaduthy to
keen-faced Mr. Mackenzie of Liverpool, one of the largest wool-dealers
and sheep-buyers visiting the market. "You'll petter juist pe coming
down to it at once." "I could not meet you at all." "I'm afraid I'll pe
doing what they'll pe laughing at me for." "We can't agree at all," are
the words as a couple separate, probably to come together again later
in the day. "An do reic thu na 'h'uainn fhathast, Coignasgailean?" "Cha
neil fios again'm lieil thusa air son tavigse thoirtorra,
Cnocnangraisheag?" "Thig gus ain fluich sin ambarfan." Perhaps I had
better translate. Two sheep-farmers are in colloquy, and address each
other by the names of their farms, as is all but universal in the
north. Cnocnangraisheag asks Coignasgailean, "Have you sold your
lambs?" The cautious reply is, "I don't know; are you inclined to give
me an offer?" and the proposal ensues, "Come and let us take a drink on
the transaction." Let us follow the two worthies into the Caledonian.
Jostling goes for nothing here and you may shove as much in reason as
you choose, taking your chance of reprisals from the sons of Anak. The
lobbies of the Caledonian are full of men drinking and bargaining with
books in hand. There is no sitting-room in all the house and we follow
the Cnocnangraisheag and his friend into the billiard-room, where we
are promptly served standing. What keenness of business-discussion
mingled with what galore of whisky there is everywhere! The whisky
seems to make no more impression than if it were ginger-beer; and yet
it is over-proof Talisker, as my throat and eyes find to their cost
when I recklessly attempt to imitate Coignasgailean and take a dram
neat. As I pass the bar going out Willie Brown is bawling for soda with
something in it, and Donald Murray of Geanies, one of the ablest men in
the north of Scotland, brushes by with quick decisive step. In the
doorway stands the sturdy square-built form of Macdonald of Balranald,
the largest breeder of Highland cattle in the country. Over the
heathery pasture-land of North Uist 1500 head and more of horned newt
of his range in half-wild freedom. The Mundells and the Mitchells seem
ubiquitous. The ancestors of both families came from England as
shepherds when the Sutherland clearances were made toward the end of
last century, and between them they now hold probably the largest
acreage--or rather mileage, of sheep-farming territory in all Scotland.

It is a "very dour market," that all admit. Everybody is holding back,
for it is obvious prices are to be "desperate high" and everybody wants
to get the full benefit of the rise. The predetermination of the
Southern dealers to "buy out" freely at big prices had been rashly
revealed over-night by one of the fraternity at the after-dinner
toddy-symposium in the Caledonian. He had been sedulously plied with
drink by "Charlie Mitchell" and some others of the Ross and Sutherland
sheep-farmers, till reticence had departed from his tongue. Ultimately
he had leaped on the table, breaking any quantity of glass-ware in the
saltatory feat, and had asserted with free swearing his readiness to
give 50s. all round for every three-year-old wedder in the north of
Scotland. His horror-stricken partners rushed upon him and bundled him
downstairs in hot haste, but the murder was out and the "dour market"
was accounted for. Fancy 50s. a head for beasts that do not weigh 60
lb. apiece as they come off the hill! No wonder that we townsmen have
to pay dear for our mutton.

I push my way out of the heart of the market to find the outlying
neighbourhood studded all over with conversing groups. There is an
all-pervading smell of whisky, and yet I see no man who has "turned a
hair" by reason of the strength of the Talisker. A town-crier ringing a
bell passes me. He halts, and the burden of his cry is, "There is a
large supply of fresh haddies in the market!" The walls are placarded
with advertisements of sheep smearing and dipping substances; the
leading ingredients of which appear to be tar and butter. A recruiting
sergeant of the Scots Fusilier Guards is standing by the Clachnacudden
Stone, apparently in some dejection owing to the little business doing
in his line. Men don't come to the "Character" Fair to 'list. It
strikes me that quite three-fourths of the shops of Inverness are
devoted to the sale of articles of Highland costume. Their fronts are
hidden by hangings of tartan cloth; the windows are decked with
sporrans, dirks, cairngorm plaid-brooches, ram's-head snuff-boxes,
bullocks' horns and skean dhus. If I chose I might enter the emporium
of Messrs. Macdougall in my Sassenach garb and re-emerge in ten minutes
outwardly a full-blown Highland chief, from the eagle's feather in my
bonnet to the buckles on my brogues. Turning down High Street I reach
the quay on the Ness bank, where I find in full blast a horse fair of a
very miscellaneous description, and totally destitute of the features
that have earned for the wool market the title of "Character" Fair.
There are blood colts running chiefly to stomach, splints and bog
spavins; ponies with shaggy manes, trim barrels, and clean legs; and
slack-jointed cart-horses nearly asleep--for "ginger" is an institution
which does not seem to have come so far north as Inverness. Business is
lively here, the chronic "dourness" of a market being discounted by the
scarcity of horseflesh.

At four o'clock we sit down to the market ordinary in the great room of
the Caledonian. A member of Parliament occupies the chair, one of the
croupiers is a baronet, the other the chief of the clan Mackintosh.
There is a great collection of north-country notabilities, and tables
upon tables of sheep-farmers and sheep-dealers. We have a considerable
_cacoethes_ of speech-making, among the orators being Professor Blackie
of Edinburgh, whose quaint comicalities convulse his audience. It is
pretty late when the Professor rises to speak, and the whisky has been
flowing free. Some one interjects a whiskyfied interruption into the
Professor's speech, who at once in stentorian tones orders that the
disturber of the harmony of the evening shall be summarily consigned to
the lunatic asylum. I see him ejected with something like the force of
a stone from a catapult and have no reasonable doubt that he will spend
the night an inmate of "Craig Duncan." The speeches over bargaining
recommences moistened by toddy, which fluid appears to exercise an
appreciable softening influence on the "dourness" of the market. Till
long after midnight seasoned vessels are talking and dealing, booking
sales while they sip their tenth tumbler.

I have to leave on the Saturday morning, but I make no doubt that the
skeleton programme given at the beginning of this paper will have its
bones duly clothed with flesh.



THE WARFARE OF THE FUTURE


At first sight the proposition may appear startling and indeed absurd;
yet hard facts, I venture to believe, will enforce the conviction on
unprejudiced minds that the warfare of the present when contrasted with
the warfare of the past is dilatory, ineffective, and inconclusive.

Present, or contemporary warfare may be taken to date from the general
adoption of rifled firearms; the warfare of the past may fairly be
limited for purposes of comparison or contrast, to the smooth-bore era;
indeed, for those purposes there is no need to go outside the present
century. Roughly speaking the first five and a half decades of the
century were smooth-bore decades; the three and a half later decades
have been rifled decades, of which about two and a half decades
constitute the breechloading period. Considering the extraordinary
advances since the end of the smooth-bore era in everything tending to
promote celerity and decisiveness in the result of campaigns--the
revolution in swiftness of shooting and length of range of firearms,
the development in the science of gunnery, the increased devotion to
military study, the vast additions to the military strength of the
nations, looking to the facilities for rapid conveyance of troops and
transportation of supplies afforded by railways and steam
water-carriage, to the intensified artillery fire that can now be
brought to bear on fortresses, to the manifold advantages afforded by
the electric telegraph, and to the crushing cost of warfare, urging
vigorous exertions toward the speedy decision of campaigns--reviewing,
I say, the thousand and one circumstances encouraging to short, sharp,
and decisive action in contemporary warfare, it is a strange and
bewildering fact that the wars of the smooth-bore era were for the most
part, shorter, sharper, and more decisive. Spite of inferiority of
weapons the battles of that period were bloodier than those of the
present, and it is a mathematically demonstrable proposition that the
heavier the slaughter of combatants the nearer must be the end of a
war. There is no pursuit now after victory won and the vanquished draws
off shaken but not broken; in the smooth-bore era a vigorous pursuit
scattered him to the four winds. When Wellington in the Peninsula
wanted a fortress and being in a hurry could not wait the result of a
formal siege or a starvation blockade, he carried it by storm. No
fortress is ever stormed now, no matter how urgent the need for its
reduction, no matter how obsolete its defences. The Germans in 1871 did
attempt to carry by assault an outwork of Belfort, but failed utterly.
It would almost seem that in the matter of forlorn hopes the Caucasian
is played out.

Assertions are easy, but they go for little unless they can be proved;
some examples, therefore, may be cited in support of the contentions
advanced above. The Prussians are proud and with justice, of what is
known as the "Seven Weeks' War of 1866" although as a matter of fact
the contest with Austria did not last so long, for Prince Frederick
Charles crossed the Bohemian frontier on the 23rd of June and the
armistice which ended hostilities was signed at Nikolsburg on the 26th
of July. The Prussian armies were stronger than their opponents by more
than one-fourth and they were armed with the needle-gun against the
Austrian muzzle-loading rifle. When the armistice was signed the
Prussians lay on the Marchfeld within dim sight of the
Stephanien-Thurm, it is true; but with the strong and strongly armed
and held lines of Florisdorf, the Danube, and the army of the Archduke
Albrecht between them and the Austrian capital. On the 9th of October
1806 Napoleon crossed the Saale. On the 14th at Jena he smashed
Hohenlohe's Prussian army, the contending hosts being about equal
strength; on the same day Davoust at Auerstadt with 27,000 men routed
Brunswick's command over 50,000 strong. On the 25th of October Napoleon
entered Berlin, the war virtually over and all Prussia at his feet with
the exception of a few fortresses, the last of which fell on the 8th of
November. Which was the swifter, the more brilliant, and the more
decisive--the campaign of 1866, or the campaign of 1806?

The Franco-German war is generally regarded as an exceptionally
effective performance on the part of the Germans. The first German
force entered France on the 4th of August 1870. Paris was invested on
the 21st of September, the German armies having fought four great
battles and several serious actions between the frontier and the French
capital. An armistice, which was not conclusive since it allowed the
siege of Belfort to proceed and Bourbaki's army to be free to attempt
raising it, was signed at Versailles on the 28th of January 1871, but
the actual conclusion of hostilities dates from the 16th of February,
the day on which Belfort surrendered. The Franco-German war, therefore,
lasted six and a half months. The Germans were in full preparedness
except that their rifle was inferior to the French _chassepot_; they
were in overwhelmingly superior numerical strength in every encounter
save two with French regular troops, and they had on their banners the
prestige of Sadowa. Their adversaries were utterly unready for a great
struggle; the French army was in a wretched state in every sense of the
word; indeed, after Sedan there remained hardly any regulars able to
take the field. In August 1805 Napoleon's Grande Armée was at Boulogne
looking across to the British shores. Those inaccessible, he promptly
altered his plans and went against Austria. Mack with 84,000 Austrian
soldiers was at Ulm, waiting for the expected Russian army of
co-operation and meantime covering the valley of the Danube. Napoleon
crossed the Rhine on the 26th of September. Just as in 1870 the Germans
on the plain of Mars-la-Tour thrust themselves between Bazaine and the
rest of France, so Napoleon turned Mack and from Aalen to the Tyrol
stood between him and Austria. Mack capitulated Ulm and his army on the
19th of October and Napoleon was in Vienna on the 13th of November.
Although he possessed the Austrian capital, he was not, however, master
of the Austrian empire. The latter result did not fall to him until the
2nd of December, when under "the sun of Austerlitz" he with 73,000 men
defeated the Austro-Russian army 85,000 strong, inflicting on it a loss
of 30,000 men at the cost of 12,000 of his own soldiers _hors de
combat_. It took the Germans in 1870 a month and a half to get from the
frontier to _outside_ Paris; just in the same time, although certainly
not with so severe fighting by the way but nearly twice as long a
march, Napoleon moved from the Rhine to _inside_ Vienna. From the
active commencement to the cessation of hostilities the Franco-German
war lasted six and a half months; reckoning from the crossing of the
Rhine to the evening of Austerlitz Napoleon subjugated Austria in two
and a quarter months. Perhaps, however, his campaign of 1809 against
Austria furnishes a more exact parallel with the campaign of the
Germans in 1870-71. He assumed command on the 17th of April, having
hurried from Spain. He defeated the Austrians five times in as many
days, at Thann, Abensberg, Landshut, Eckmuhl, and Ratisbon; and he was
in Vienna on the 13th of May. Balked at Aspern and Essling, he gained
his point at Wagram on the 5th of July, and hostilities ceased with the
armistice of Znaim on the 11th after having lasted for a period short
of three months by a week.

The Russians have a reputation for good marching, and certainly
Suvaroff made good time in his long march from Russia to Northern Italy
in 1799; almost as good, indeed, as Bagration, Barclay de Tolly, and
Kutusoff made in falling back before Napoleon when he invaded Russia in
1812. But they have not improved either in marching or in fighting at
all commensurately with the improved appliances. In 1877, after
dawdling two months they crossed the Danube on the 21st to the 27th of
June. Osman Pasha at Plevna gave them pause until the 10th of December,
at which date they were not so far into Bulgaria as they had been five
months previously. After the fall of Plevna the Russian armies would
have gone into winter quarters but for a private quasi-ultimatum
communicated to the Tzar from a high source in England, to the effect
that unpleasant consequences could not be guaranteed against if the war
was not finished in one campaign. Alexander, who was quite an astute
man in his way, was temporarily enraged by this restriction, but
recovering his calmness, realised that nowhere in war books is any
particular time specified for the termination or duration of a
campaign. It appeared that so long as an army keeps the field
uninterruptedly a campaign may continue until the Greek kalends. In
less time than that Gourko and Skobeleff undertook to finish the
business; by the vigour with which they forced their way across the
Balkans in the heart of the bitter winter Sophia, Philippopolis, and
Adrianople fell into Russian hands; and the Russian troops had been
halted some time almost in face of Constantinople when the treaty of
San Stephano was signed on the 3rd of March 1878. It had taken the
Russians of 1877-78 eight weary months to cover the distance between
the Danube and the Marmora. But fifty years earlier a Russian general
had marched from the Danube to the Aegean in three and a half months,
nor was his journey by any means a smooth and bloodless one. Diebitch
crossed the Danube in May 1828 and besieged Silistria from the 17th of
May until the 1st of July. Silistria has undergone three resolute
sieges during the century; it succumbed but once, and then to Diebitch.
Pressing south immediately, he worsted the Turkish Grand Vizier in the
fierce battle of Kuleutscha and then by diverse routes hurried down
into the great Roumelian valley. Adrianople made no resistance and
although his force was attenuated by hardship and disease, when the
Turkish diplomatists procrastinated the audacious and gallant Diebitch
marched his thin regiments forward toward Constantinople. They had
traversed on a wide front half the distance between Adrianople and the
capital when the dilatory Turkish negotiators saw fit to imitate the
coon and come down. Whether they would have done so had they known the
weakness of Diebitch may be questioned; but again it may be questioned
whether, that weakness unknown, he could not have occupied
Constantinople on the swagger. His master was prepared promptly to
reinforce him; Constantinople was perhaps nearer its fall in 1828 than
in 1878, and certainly Diebitch was much smarter than were the Grand
Duke Nicholas, his fossil Nepokoitschitsky, and his pure theorist
Levitsky.

The contrast between the character of our own contemporary military
operations and that of those of the smooth-bore era is very strongly
marked. In 1838-39 Keane marched an Anglo-Indian army from our frontier
at Ferozepore over Candahar to Cabul without experiencing any serious
check, and with the single important incident of taking Ghuzni by storm
on the way. Our positions at and about Cabul were not seriously
molested until late in 1841, when the paralysis of demoralisation
struck our soldiers because of the crass follies of a wrong-headed
civilian chief and the feebleness of a decrepit general. Nott
throughout held Candahar firmly; the Khyber Pass remained open until
faith was broken with the hillmen; Jellalabad held out until the
"Retribution Column" camped under its walls. But for the awful
catastrophe which befell in the passes the hapless brigade which under
the influence of deplorable pusillanimity and gross mismanagement had
evacuated Cabul, no serious military calamity marked our occupation of
Afghanistan and certainly stubborn resistance had not confronted our
arms. From 1878 to 1880 we were in Afghanistan again, this time with
breech-loading far-ranging rifles, copious artillery of the newest
types, and commanders physically and mentally efficient. All those
advantages availed us not one whit. The Afghans took more liberties
with us than they had done forty years previously. They stood up to us
in fair fight over and over again: at Ali Musjid, at the Pewar Kotul,
at Charasiab, on the Takt-i-Shah and the Asmai heights, at Candahar.
They took the dashing offensive at Ahmed Kheyl and at the
Shutur-gurdan; they drove Dunham Massy's cavalry and took British guns;
they reoccupied Cabul in the face of our arms, they besieged Candahar,
they hemmed Roberts within the Sherpoor cantonments and assailed him
there. They destroyed a British brigade at Maiwand and blocked Gough in
the Jugdulluck Pass. Finally our evacuating army had to macadamise its
unmolested route down the passes by bribes to the hillmen, and the
result of the second Afghan war was about as barren as that of the
first.

It was in the year 1886 that, the resolution having been taken to
dethrone Thebau and annex Upper Burmah, Prendergast began his all but
bloodless movement on Mandalay. The Burmans of today have never
adventured a battle, yet after years of desultory bushwhacking the
pacification of Upper Burmah has still to be fully accomplished. On the
10th of April 1852 an Anglo-Indian expedition commanded by General
Godwin landed at Rangoon. During the next fifteen months it did a good
deal of hard fighting, for the Burmans of that period made a stout
resistance. At midsummer of 1853 Lord Dalhousie proclaimed the war
finished, announced the annexation and pacification of Lower Burmah,
and broke up the army. The cost of the war of which the result was this
fine addition to our Indian Empire, was two millions sterling; almost
from the first the province was self-supporting and uninterrupted peace
has reigned within its borders. We did not dally in those primitive
smooth-bore days. Sir Charles Napier took the field against the Scinde
Ameers on the 16th of February 1843. Next day he fought the battle of
Meanee, entered Hyderabad on the 2Oth, and on the 24th of March won the
decisive victory of Dubba which placed Scinde at his mercy, although
not until June did the old "Lion of Meerpore" succumb to Jacob. But
before then Napier was well forward with his admirable measures for the
peaceful administration of the great province he had added to British
India.

The expedition for the rescue of General Gordon was tediously boated up
the Nile, with the result that the "desert column" which Sir Herbert
Stewart led so valiantly across the Bayuda reached Gubat just in time
to be too late, and was itself extricated from imminent disaster by the
masterful promptitude of Sir Redvers Buller. Notwithstanding a general
consensus of professional and expert opinion in favour of the
alternative route from Souakin to Berber, 240 miles long and far from
waterless, the adoption of it was condemned as impossible. In June
1801, away back in the primitive days, an Anglo-Indian brigade 5000
strong ordered from Bombay, reached Kosseir on the Red Sea bound for
the Upper Nile at Kenéh thence to join Abercromby's force operating in
Lower Egypt. The distance from Kosseir to Kenéh is 120 miles across a
barren desert with scanty and unfrequent springs. The march was by
regiments, of which the first quitted Kosseir on the 1st of July. The
record of the desert-march of the 10th Foot is now before me. It left
Kosseir on the 20th of July and reached Kenéh on the 29th, marching at
the rate of twelve miles per day. Its loss on the march was one
drummer. The whole brigade was at Kenéh in the early days of August,
the period between its debarkation and its concentration on the Nile
being about five weeks. The march was effected at the very worst season
of the year. It was half the distance of a march from Souakin to
Berber; the latter march by a force of the same strength could well
have been accomplished in three months. The opposition on the march
could not have been so severe as that which Stewart's desert column
encountered. Nevertheless, as I have said, the Souakin-Berber route was
pronounced impossible by the deciding authority.

The comparative feebleness of contemporary warfare is perhaps
exceptionally manifest in relation to the reduction of fortresses.
During the Franco-German War the frequency of announcements of the fall
of French fortresses used to be the subject of casual jeers. The jeers
were misplaced. The French fortresses, labouring under every
conceivable disadvantage, did not do themselves discredit. All of them
were more or less obsolete. Excluding Metz and Paris, neither fortified
to date, their average age was about a century and a half and few had
been amended since their first construction. They were mostly
garrisoned by inferior troops, often almost entirely by Mobiles. Only
in one instance was there an effective director of the defence. That
they uniformly enclosed towns whose civilian population had to endure
bombardment, was an obvious hindrance to desperate resistance. Yet,
setting aside Bitsch which was never taken, the average duration of the
defence of the seventeen fortresses which made other than nominal
resistance was forty-one days. Excluding Paris and Metz which virtually
were intrenched camps, the average period of resistance was
thirty-three days. The Germans used siege artillery in fourteen cases;
although only on two instances, Belfort and Strasburg, were formal
sieges undertaken. "It appears," writes Major Sydenham Clarke in his
recent remarkable work on Fortification [Footnote: _Fortification_. By
Major G. Sydenham Clarke, C.M. G. (London: John Murray).] which ought
to revolutionise that art, "that the average period of resistance of
the (nominally obsolete) French fortresses was the same as that of
besieged fortresses of the Marlborough and Peninsular periods.
Including Paris and Metz, the era of rifled weapons actually shows an
increase of 20 per cent in the time-endurance of permanent
fortifications. Granted that a mere measurement in days affords no
absolute standard of comparison, the striking fact remains that in
spite of every sort of disability the French fortresses, pitted against
guns that were not dreamed of when they were built, acquitted
themselves quite as well as the _chefs-d'oeuvre_ of the Vauban school
in the days of their glory." Even in the cases of fortresses whose
reduction was urgently needed since they interfered with the German
communications--such as Strasburg, Toul, and Soissons--the quick
_ultima ratio_ of assault was not resorted to by the Germans. And yet
the Germans could not have failed to recognise that but for the
fortresses they would have swept France clear of all organised bodies
of troops within two months of the frontier battles. During the
Peninsular War Wellington made twelve assaults on breached fortresses
of which five were successful; of his twelve attempts to escalade six
succeeded. The Germans in 1870-71 never attempted a breach and their
solitary effort at escalade, on the Basse Perche of Belfort, utterly
failed.

The Russians in 1877 were even less enterprising than had been the
Germans in 1870. They went against three permanently fortified places,
the antediluvian little Matchin which if I remember right blew itself
up; the crumbling Nicopolis which surrendered after one day's fighting;
and Rustchuk which held out till the end of the war. They would not
look at Silistria, ruined, but strong in heroic memories; they avoided
Rasgrad, Schumla, and the Black Sea fortresses; Sophia, Philippopolis,
and Adrianople made no resistance. The earthworks of Plevna, vicious as
they were in many characteristics, they found impregnable. I think
Suvaroff would have carried them; I am sure Skobeleff would if he had
got his way.

The vastly expensive armaments of the present--the rifled
breech-loader, the magazine rifle, the machine guns, the long-range
field-guns, and so forth, are all accepted and paid for by the
respective nations in the frank and naked expectation that these
weapons will perform increased execution on the enemy in war time. This
granted, nor can it be denied, it logically follows that if this
increased execution is not performed nations are entitled to regard it
as a grievance that they do not get blood for their money, and this
they certainly do not have; so that even in this sanguinary particular
the warfare of to-day is a comparative failure. The topic, however, is
rather a ghastly one and I refrain from citing evidence; which,
however, is easily accessible to any one who cares to seek it.

The anticipation is confidently adventured that a great revolution will
be made in warfare by the magazine rifle with its increased range, the
machine gun, and the quick-firing field artillery which will speedily
be introduced into every service. It does not seem likely that
smokeless powder will create any very important change, except in siege
operations. On the battlefield neither artillery nor infantry come into
action out of sight of the enemy. When either arm opens fire within
sight of the enemy its position can be almost invariably detected by
the field-glass, irrespective of the smokelessness or non-smokelessness
of its ammunition. Indeed, the use of smokeless powder would seem
inevitably to damage the fortunes of the attack. Under cover of a bank
of smoke the soldiers hurrying on to feed the fighting line are fairly
hidden from aimed hostile fire. It may be argued that their aim is thus
reciprocally hindered; but the reply is that their anxiety is not so
much to be shooting during their reinforcing advance as to get forward
into the fighting line, where the atmosphere is not so greatly
obscured. Smokeless powder will no doubt advantage the defence.

It need not be remarked that a battle is a physical impossibility while
both sides adhere to the passive defensive; and experience proves that
battles are rare in which both sides are committed to the active
offensive, whether by preference or necessity. Mars-la-Tour (16th
August 1870) was the only contest of this nature in the Franco-German
War. Bazaine had to be on the offensive because he was ordered to get
away towards Verdun; Alvensleben took it because it was the only means
whereby he could hinder Bazaine from accomplishing his purpose. But for
the most part one side in battle is on the offensive; the other on the
defensive. The invader is habitually the offensive person, just for the
reason that the native force commonly acts on the defensive; the latter
is anxious to hinder further penetration into the bowels of its land;
the former's desire is to effect that penetration. The defensive of the
native army need not, however, be the passive defensive; indeed, unless
the position be exceptionally strong that is according to present
tenets to be avoided. When, always with an underlying purpose of
defence, its chief resorts to the offensive for reasons that he regards
as good, his strategy or his tactics as the case may be, are expressed
by the term "defensive-offensive."

It says a good deal for the peaceful predilections of the nations, that
there has been no fairly balanced experience affording the material for
decision as to the relative advantage of the offensive and the
defensive under modern conditions. In 1866 the Prussians, opposing the
needle-gun to the Austrian muzzle-loader, naturally utilised this
pre-eminence by adopting uniformly the offensive and traditions of the
Great Frederick doubtless seconded the needle-gun. After Sadowa
controversy ran high as to the proper system of tactics when
breech-loader should oppose breech-loader. A strong party maintained
that "the defensive had now become so strong that true science lay in
forcing the adversary to attack. Let him come on, and then one might
fairly rely on victory." As Boguslawski observes--"This conception of
tactics would paralyse the offensive, for how can an army advance if it
has always to wait till an enemy attacks?" After much exercitation the
Germans determined to adhere to the offensive. In the recent modest
language of Baron von der Goltz: [Footnote: _The Nation in Arms_, by
Lieutenant-Colonel Baron von der Goltz. (Allen.)] "Our modern German
mode of battle aims at being entirely a final struggle, which we
conceive of as being inseparable from an unsparing offensive.
Temporising, waiting, and a calm defensive are very unsympathetic to
our nature. Everything with us is action. Our strength lies in great
decisions on the battlefield." Perhaps also the guileless Germans were
quite alert to the fact that Marshal Niel had shattered the French
army's tradition of the offensive, and gone counter to the French
soldier's nature by enjoining the defensive in the latest official
instructions. Had the Teutons suborned him the Marshal could not have
done them a better turn.

Their offensive tactics against an enemy unnaturally lashed to the
stake of the defensive stood the Germans in excellent stead in 1870. On
every occasion they resorted to the offensive against an enemy in the
field; strictly refraining, however, from that expedient when it was a
fortress and not soldiers _en vive force_ that stood in the way. At St.
Privat their offensive would probably have been worsted if Canrobert
had been reinforced or even if a supply of ammunition had reached him;
and a loss there of one-third of the combatants of the Guard Corps
without result caused them to change for the better the method of their
attack. But in every battle from Weissenburg to Sedan with the
exception of the confused _mêlée_ of Mars-la-Tour, the French, besides
being bewildered and discouraged, were in inferior strength; after
Sedan the French levies in the field were scarcely soldiers. There was
no fair testing of the relative advantages of defence and offence in
the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78; and so it remains that in an actual
and practical sense no firm decision has yet been established. All
civilised nations are, however, assiduously practising the methods of
the offensive.

It may nevertheless be anticipated that in future warfare between
evenly matched combatants the offensive will get the worst of it at the
hands of the defensive. The word "anticipate" is used in preference to
"apprehend," because one's sympathy is naturally for the invaded state
unless it has been wantonly aggressive and insolent. The invaded army,
if the term may be used, having familiar knowledge of the terrain will
take up a position in the fair-way of the invader; affording strong
flank _appui_ and a far-stretching clear range in front and on flanks.
It will throw up several lines, or still better, tiers of shallow
trenches along its front and flanks, with emplacements for artillery
and machine guns. The invader must attack; he cannot turn the enemy's
position and expose his communications to that enemy. He takes the
offensive, doing so, as is the received practice, in front and on a
flank. From the outset he will find the offensive a sterner ordeal than
in the Franco-German War days. He will have to break into loose order
at a greater distance, because of the longer range of small arms, and
the further scope, the greater accuracy, and the quicker fire of the
new artillery. He too possesses those weapons, but he cannot use them
with so great effect. His field batteries suffer from the hostile
cannon fire as they move forward to take up a position. His infantry
cannot fire on the run; when they drop after a rush the aim of panting
and breathless men cannot be of the best. And their target is fairly
protected and at least partially hidden. The defenders behind their low
épaulement do not pant; their marksmen only at first are allowed to
fire; these make things unpleasant for the massed gunners out yonder,
who share their attentions with the spraying-out infantry-men. The
quick-firing cannon of the defence are getting in their work
methodically. Neither its gunners nor its infantry need be nervous as
to expending ammunition freely since plenteous supplies are promptly
available, a convenience which does not infallibly come to either guns
or rifles of the attack. The Germans report as their experience in the
capacity of assailants that the rapidity and excitement of the advance,
the stir of strife, the turmoil, exhilarate the soldiers, and that
patriotism and fire-discipline in combination enforce a cool steady
maintenance of fire; that in view of the ominous spectacle of the swift
and confident advance, under torture of the storm of shell-fire and the
hail of bullets which they have to endure in immobility, the defenders,
previously shaken by the assailants' artillery preparation, become
nervous, waver, and finally break when the cheers of the final
concentrated rush strike on their ears. That this was scarcely true as
regarded French regulars the annals of every battle of the
Franco-German War up to and including Sedan conclusively show. It is
true, however, that the French nature is intolerant of inactivity and
in 1870 suffered under the deprivation of its _métier;_ but how often
the Germans recoiled from the shelter trenches of the Spicheren and
gave ground all along the line from St. Privat to the Bois de Vaux, men
who witnessed those desperate struggles cannot forget while they live.
Warriors of greater equanimity than the French soldier possesses might
perhaps stand on the defensive in calm self-confidence with simple
breech-loaders as their weapons, if simple breech-loaders were also
weapons of the assailants. But in his magazine rifle the soldier of the
future can keep the defensive not only with self-confidence, but with
high elation, for in it he will possess a weapon against which it seems
improbable that the attack (although armed too with a magazine or
repeating rifle) can prevail.

The assailants fall fast as their advance pushes forward, thinned down
by the rifle fire, the mitraille, and the shrapnel of the defence. But
they are gallant men and while life lasts they will not be denied. The
long bloody advance is all but over; the survivors of it who have
attained thus far are lying down getting their wind for the final
concentration and rush. Meanwhile, since after they once again stand up
they will use no more rifle fire till they have conquered or are
beaten, they are pouring forth against the defence their reserve of
bullets in or attached to their rifle-butts. The defenders take this
punishment, like Colonel Quagg, lying down, courting the protection of
their earth-bank. The hail of the assailants' bullets ceases; already
the artillery of the attack has desisted lest it should injure friend
as well as foe. The word runs along the line and the clumps of men
lying prostrate there out in the open. The officers spring to their
feet, wave their swords, and cheer loudly. The men are up in an
instant, and the swift rush focussing toward a point begins. The
distance to be traversed before the attackers are _aux prises_ with the
defenders is about one hundred and fifty yards.

It is no mere storm of missiles which meets fair in the face those
charging heroes; no, it is a moving wall of metal against which they
rush to their ruin. For the infantry of the defence are emptying their
magazines now at point-blank range. Emptied magazine yields to full
one; the Maxims are pumping, not bullets, but veritable streams of
death, with calm, devilish swiftness. The quick-firing guns are
spouting radiating torrents of case. The attackers are mown down as
corn falls, not before the sickle but the scythe. Not a man has
reached, or can reach, the little earth-bank behind which the defenders
keep their ground. The attack has failed; and failed from no lack of
valour, of methodised effort, of punctilious compliance with every
instruction; but simply because the defence--the defence of the future
in warfare--has been too strong for the attack. One will not occupy
space by recounting how in the very nick of time the staunch defence
flashes out into the counter-offensive; nor need one enlarge on the
sure results to the invader as the unassailed flank of the defence
throws forward the shoulder and takes in flank the dislocated masses of
aggressors.

One or two such experiences will definitively settle the point as to
the relative advantage of the offensive and the defensive. Soldiers
will not submit themselves to re-trial on re-trial of a _res judicata_.
Grant, dogged though he was, had to accept that lesson in the shambles
of Cold Harbour. For the bravest sane man will rather live than die. No
man burns to become cannon-fodder. The Turk, who is supposed to court
death in battle for religious reasons of a somewhat material kind, can
run away even when the alternative is immediate removal to a Paradise
of unlimited houris and copious sherbet. There are no braver men than
Russian soldiers; but going into action against the Turks tried their
nerves, not because they feared the Turks as antagonists, but because
they knew too well that a petty wound disabling from retreat meant not
alone death but unspeakable mutilation before that release.

It is obvious that if, as is here anticipated, the offensive proves
impossible in the battle of the future, an exaggerated phase of the
stalemate which Boguslawski so pathetically deprecates will occur. The
world need not greatly concern itself regarding this issue; the
situation will almost invariably be in favour of the invaded and will
probably present itself near his frontier line. He can afford to wait
until the invader tires of inaction and goes home.

Magazine and machine guns would seem to sound the knell of possible
employment of cavalry in battle. No matter how dislocated are the
infantry ridden at so long as they are not quite demoralised, however
_rusé_ the cavalry leader--however favourable to sudden unexpected
onslaught is the ground, the quick-firing arms of the future must
apparently stall off the most enterprising horsemen. Probably if the
writer were arguing the point with a German, the famous experiences of
von Bredow might be adduced in bar of this contention. In the combat of
Tobitschau in 1866 Bredow led his cuirassier regiment straight at three
Austrian batteries in action, captured the eighteen guns and everybody
and everything belonging to them, with the loss to himself of but ten
men and eight horses. It is true, says the honest official account,
that the ground favoured the charge and that the shells fired by the
usually skilled Austrian gunners flew high. But during the last 100
yards grape was substituted for shell, and Bredow deserved all the
credit he got. Still stronger against my argument was Bredow's
memorable work at Mars-la-Tour, when at the head of six squadrons he
charged across 1000 yards of open plain, rode over and through two
separate lines of French infantry, carried a line of cannon numbering
nine batteries, rode 1000 yards farther into the very heart of the
French army, and came back with a loss of not quite one half of his
strength. The _Todtenritt_, as the Germans call it, was a wonderful
exploit, a second Balaclava charge and a bloodier one; and there was
this distinction that it had a purpose and that that purpose was
achieved. For Bredow's charge in effect wrecked France. It arrested the
French advance which would else have swept Alvensleben aside; and to
its timely effect is traceable the sequence of events that ended in the
capitulation of Metz. The fact that although from the beginning of his
charge until he struck the front of the first French infantry line
Bredow took the rifle-fire of a whole French division yet did not lose
above fifty men, has been a notable weapon in the hands of those who
argue that good cavalry can charge home on unshaken infantry. But never
more will French infantry shoot from the hip as Lafont's conscripts at
Mars-la-Tour shot in the vague direction of Bredow's squadrons. French
cavalry never got within yards of German infantry even in loose order;
and the magazine or repeating rifle held reasonably straight will stop
the most thrusting cavalry that ever heard the "charge" sound.

Fortifications of the future will differ curiously from those of the
present. The latter, with their towering scarps, their massive
_enceintes_, their "portentous ditches," will remain as monuments of a
vicious system, except where, as in the cases of Vienna, Cologne,
Sedan, etc., the dwellers in the cities they encircle shall procure
their demolition for the sake of elbow-room, or until modern howitzer
shells or missiles charged with high explosives shall pulverise their
naked expanses of masonry. In the fortification of the future the
defender will no longer be "enclosed in the toils imposed by the
engineer" with the inevitable disabilities they entail, while the
besieger enjoys the advantage of free mobility. Plevna has killed the
castellated fortress. With free communications the full results
attainable by fortress artillery intelligently used, will at length
come to be realised. Unless in rare cases and for exceptional reasons
towns will gradually cease to be fortified even by an encirclement of
detached forts. Where the latter are availed of, practical experience
will infallibly condemn the expensive and complex cupola-surmounted
construction of which General Brialmont is the champion. "A work,"
trenchantly argues Major Sydenham Clarke, "designed on the principles
of the Roman catacombs is suited only for the dead, in a literal or in
a military sense. The vast system of subterranean chambers and passages
is capable of entombing a brigade, but denies all necessary tactical
freedom of action to a battalion."

The fortress of the future will probably be in the nature of an
intrenched camp. The interior of the position will provide casemate
accommodation for an army of considerable strength. Its defences will
consist of a circle at intervals of about 2500 yards, of permanent
redoubts which shall be invisible at moderate ranges for infantry and
machine guns, the garrison of each redoubt to consist of a half
battalion. Such a work was in 1886 constructed at Chatham in thirty-one
working days, to hold a garrison of 200 men housed in casemates built
in concrete, for less than £3000, and experiments proved that it would
require a "prohibitory expenditure" of ammunition to cause it serious
damage by artillery fire. The supporting defensive armament will
consist of a powerful artillery rendered mobile by means of tram-roads,
this defence supplemented by a field force carrying on outpost duties
and manning field works guarding the intervals between the redoubts.
Advanced defences and exterior obstacles of as formidable a character
as possible will be the complement of what in effect will be an
immensely elaborated Plevna, which, properly armed and fully organised,
will "fulfil all the requirements of defence" while possessing
important potentialities of offence.

An illustration is pertinent of the pre-eminent utility of such
fortified and strongly held positions, of whose characteristics the
above is the merest outline. In the event of a future Franco-German
War, the immensely expensive cordon of fortresses with which the French
have lined their frontier, efficiently equipped, duly garrisoned and
well commanded, will unquestionably present a serious obstacle to the
invading armies. The Germans talk of _vive force_--shell heavily and
then storm; the latter resort one for which they have in the past
displayed no predilection. Whether by storm or interpenetration, they
will probably break the cordon, but they cannot advance without masking
all the principal fortresses. This will employ a considerable portion
of their strength, and the invasion will proceed in less force, which
will be an advantage to the defenders. But if instead of those
multitudinous fortresses the French had constructed, say, three such
intrenched-camp fortresses as have been sketched, each quartering
50,000 men, it would appear that they would have done better for
themselves at far less cost. Each intrenched position containing a
field army 50,000 strong would engross a beleaguering host of 100,000
men. The positions of the type outlined are claimed to be impregnable;
they could contain supplies and munitions for at least a year,
detaining around them for that period 300,000 of the enemy. No European
power except Russia has soldiers enough to spare so long such a mass of
troops standing fast, and simultaneously to prosecute the invasion of a
first-rate power with approximately equal numbers. France at the cost
of 150,000 men would be holding supine on her frontier double the
number of Germans--surely no disadvantageous transaction.

In conclusion, it may be worth while to point out that the current
impression that the maintenance by states of "bloated armaments" is a
keen incentive to war, is fallacious. How often do we hear, "There must
be a big war soon; the powers cannot long stand the cost of standing
looking at each other, all armed to the teeth!" War is infinitely more
costly than the costliest preparedness. But this is not all. The
country gentleman for once in a way brings his family to town for the
season, pledging himself privily to strict economy when the term of
dissipation ends, in order to restore the balance. But for a State, as
the sequel to a season of war there is no such potentiality of economy.
Rather there is the grim certainty of heavier and yet heavier
expenditure after the war, in the still obligatory character of the
armed man keeping his house. Therefore it is that potentates are
reluctant to draw the sword, and rather bear the ills they have than
fly to other evils inevitably worse still. Whether the final outcome
will be universal national bankruptcy or the millennium, is a problem
as yet insoluble.



GEORGE MARTELL'S BANDOBAST

[Footnote: _Bandobast_ is an Indian word, which, like many others, has
been all but formally incorporated into Anglo-Indian English. The
meaning is, plan, scheme, organised arrangement.]


George Martell was an indigo-planter in Western Tirhoot, a fine tract
of Bengal stretching from the Ganges to the Nepaul Terai, and roughly
bounded on the west by the Gunduck, on the east by the Kussi.
Planter-life in Tirhoot is very pleasant to a man in robust health, who
possesses some resources within himself. In many respects it more
resembles active rural life at home than does any other life led by
Anglo-Indians. The joys of a planter's life have been enthusiastically
sung by a planter-poet; and the frank genial hospitality of the
planter's bungalow stands out pre-eminent, even amidst the universal
hospitality of India. The planter's bungalow is open to all comers. The
established formula for the arriving stranger is first to call for
brandy-and-soda, then to order a bath, and finally to inquire the name
of the occupant his host. The laws of hospitality are as the laws of
the Medes and Persians. Once in the famine time a stranger in a palki
reached a planter's bungalow in an outlying district, and sent in his
card. The planter sent him out a drink but did not bid him enter. The
stranger remained in the veranda till sundown, had another drink, and
then went on his way. This breach of statute law became known. There
was much excuse for the planter, for the traveller was a missionary and
in other respects was a _persona ingrata_. But the credit of
planterhood was at stake; and so strong was the force of public opinion
that the planter who had been a defaulter in hospitality had to abandon
the profession and quit the district. It was on this occasion laid down
as a guiding illustration, that if Judas Iscariot, when travelling
around looking for an eligible tree on which to hang himself, had
claimed the hospitality of a planter's bungalow, the dweller therein
would have been bound to accord him that hospitality. Not even
newspaper correspondents were to be sent empty away.

The indigo-planter is "up in the morning early" and away at a swinging
canter on his "waler" nag, out into the _dahaut_ to visit the _zillahs_
on which his crop is growing. He returns when the sun is getting high
with a famous appetite for a breakfast which is more than half
luncheon. After his siesta he may look in upon a neighbour--all Tirhoot
are neighbours and within a radius of thirty miles is considered next
door. He would ride that distance any day to spend an hour or two in a
house brightened by the presence of womanhood. His anxious period is
_mahaye_ time, when the indigo is in the vats and the quantity and
quality of the yield depend so much on care and skill. But except at
_mahaye_ time he is always ready for relaxation, whether it takes the
form of a polo match, a pig-sticking expedition, or a race-meeting at
Sonepoor, Muzzufferpore, or Chumparun. These race-meetings last for
several days on end, there being racing and hunting on alternate days
with a ball every second night. It used to be worth a journey to India
to see Jimmy Macleod cram a cross-grained "waler" over an awkward
fence, and squeeze the last ounce out of the brute in the run home on
the flat. The Tirhoot ladies are in all respects charming; and it must
remain a moot point with the discriminating observer whether they are
more delightful in the genial home-circles of which they are the
centres and ornaments, or in the more exciting stir and whirl of the
ballroom. After every gathering hecatombs of slain male victims
mournfully cumber the ground; and one all-conquering fair one, now
herself conquered by matrimony and motherhood, wrung from those her
charms had blighted the title of "the destroying angel."

George Martell was an honest sort of a clod. He stood well with the
ryots, and the mark of his factory always brought out keen bidding at
Thomas's auction-mart in Mission Row and was held in respect in the
Commission Sale Rooms in Mincing Lane. He was a good shikaree and could
hold his own either at polo or at billiards; but being somewhat shy and
not a little clumsy he did not frequent race-balls nor throw himself in
the way of "destroying angels." He had been over a dozen years in the
district and had not been known to propose once, so that he had come to
be set down as a misogynist. Among his chief allies was a neighbouring
planter called Mactavish. Mactavish in some incomprehensible way--he
being a gaunt, uncouth, bristly Scot, whose Highland accent was as
strong as the whisky with which he had coloured his nose--had contrived
to woo and win a bonny, baby-faced girl, the ripple of whose laughter
and the dancing sheen of whose auburn curls filled the Mactavish
bungalow with glad bright sunshine. When Mac first brought home this
winsome fairy Martell had sheepishly shunned the residence of his
friend, till one fine morning when he came in from the _dahaut_ he
found Minnie Mactavish quite at home among the pipes, empty soda-water
bottles, and broken chairs that constituted the principal articles of
furniture in his bachelor sitting-room. Minnie had come to fetch her
husband's friend and in her dainty imperious way would take no denial.
So George had his bath, got a fresh horse saddled, nearly chucked
Minnie over the other side as he clumsily helped her to mount her pony,
and rode away with her a willing if somewhat clownish captive. Arriving
at the bungalow Mactavish, honest George was bewildered by the
transformation it had undergone. Flowers were where the spirit-case
used to stand. There was a drawing-room with actually a piano in it;
the _World_ lay on the table instead of the _Sporting Times_, and the
servants wore a quiet, tasteful livery. Mac himself had been trimmed
and titivated almost out of recognition. He who had been wont to lounge
half the day in his _pyjamas_ was now almost smartly dressed; his beard
was cropped, and his bristly poll brushed and oiled. If George had a
weak spot in him it was for a simple song well sung. Mrs. Mac,
accompanying herself on the piano, sang to him "The Land o' the Leal"
and brewed him a mild peg with her own fair hands. George by bedtime
did not know whether he was on his head or his heels.

He lay awake all night thinking over all he had seen. Mactavish now was
clearly a better man than ever he had been before. He had told George
he was living more cheaply as a married man than ever he had done as a
bachelor; and in the matter of happiness there was no comparison.
George rose early to go home; but early as it was Mrs. Mac was up too,
and arrayed in a killing morning _négligé_ that fairly made poor George
stammer, gave him his _chota hazri_ and stroked his horse's head as he
mounted. About half-way home George suddenly shouted, "D----d if I
don't do it too!" and brought his hand down on his thigh with a smack
that set his horse buck-jumping.

In effect, George Martell had determined to get married. But where to
find a Mrs. Martell? Mrs. Mactavish had told him she had no sisters and
that her only relative was a maiden grand-aunt, whom George thought
must be a little too old to marry unless in the last resort. If he took
the field at the next race-meeting the fellows would chaff the life out
of him; and besides, he scarcely felt himself man enough to face a
"destroying angel." As he pondered, riding slowly homeward, a thought
occurred to him. When he had been at home a dozen years ago his two
girl-sisters had been at school, and their great playmate had been a
girl of eleven, by name Laura Davidson. Laura was a pretty child. He
had taken occasional notice of her; had once kissed her after having
been severely scratched in the struggle; and had taken her and his
sisters to the local theatre. What if Laura Davidson--now some
three-and-twenty--were still single? What if she were pretty and nice?
He remembered that the colour of her hair was not unlike Mrs. Mac's,
and was in ringlets too. And what if she were willing to come out and
make lonely George Martell as happy a man as was that lucky old Mac?

It was mail-day, and George, taking time by the forelock, sat down and
wrote to his sister what had come into his head. By the return mail he
had her reply: Laura Davidson was single; she was nice; she was pretty;
she had fair ringlets; she had a hazy memory of George and the kissing
episode, and was willing to come out and marry him and try to make him
happy. But she could not well come alone; could George suggest any
method of _chaperonage_ on the voyage?

In the district of Champarun, which in essentials is part of Tirhoot,
lies the quaint little cavalry cantonment of Segowlie. It is the last
relic of the old Nepaul war, which caused the erection of a chain of
cantonments along the frontier all of which save Segowlie, are now
abandoned. There is just room for one native cavalry regiment at
Segowlie, and the soldiers like the station because of excellent sport
and the good comradeship of the planters. At Segowlie at the time I am
writing of there happened to be quartered a certain Major Freeze, whose
wife, after a couple of years at home, was about returning to India.
George had some acquaintance with the Major and a far-off profound
respect for his wife, who was an admirable and stately lady. It
occurred to him to try whether it could not be managed that she should
bring out the future Mrs. Martell. He saw the Major, who was only too
delighted at the prospect of a new lady in the district, and the affair
was soon arranged. Mrs. Freeze wrote that she and Miss Davidson were
leaving by such-and-such a mail; and knowing that Martell was rather
lumpy when a lady was in the case, she thoughtfully suggested that he
should go down to Bombay and meet them so as to get over the initial
awkwardness by making himself useful and gain his intended's respect by
swearing at the niggers.

All went well. But George Martell was not quite his own master, he was
only part of a "concern" and was bound to do his best for his partners.
It happened, just about the time the P. and O. steamer was due at
Bombay, that the most ticklish period of the indigo-planters' year was
upon Martell. The juice had begun to flow from the vats. He had no
assistant and he did not dare to leave the work, so he telegraphed to
Bombay to explain this to Mrs. Freeze, and added that he would meet her
and her companion at Bankipore where their long railway journey would
end. Miss Davidson did not understand much about the absorbing crisis
of indigo production, and she had a spice of romance in her
composition; so that poor Martell did not rise in her estimation by his
default at Bombay. When the ladies reached Bankipore there was still no
Martell, but only a _chuprassee_ with a note to say that the juice was
still running, and that Martell sahib could not leave the factory but
would be waiting for them at Segowlie. At this even Mrs. Freeze almost
lost her temper.

They have a "State Railway" now in Tirhoot, but at the time I am
writing of there was only one _pukha_ road in all the district. The
ladies travelled in palanquins, or palkis, as they are more familiarly
called. It is a long journey from Bankipore to Segowlie, and three
nights were spent in travelling. Bluff old Minden Wilson stood on the
bank above the ghât to welcome Mrs. Freeze across the Ganges. One day
was spent at young Spudd's factory, the second at the residence of a
genial planter rejoicing in the quaint name of Hong Kong Scribbens; on
the third morning they reached Segowlie. But still no Martell; only a
_chit_ to say that that plaguy juice was still running but that he
hoped to be able to drive over to dinner. Miss Davidson went to bed in
a huff; and Major Freeze was temporarily inclined to think that her
home-trip had impaired his good lady's amiability of character.

Martell did turn up at dinner-time. But he was hardly a man at any time
to create much of an impression, and on this occasion he appeared to
exceptional disadvantage. He was stutteringly nervous; and there were
some evidences that he had been ineffectually striving to mitigate his
nervousness by the consumption of his namesake. He wore a new
dress-coat which had not the remotest pretensions to fit him, and the
bear's-grease which he had freely used gave unpleasant token of
rancidity. The dinner was an unsatisfactory performance. Miss Davidson
was extremely _distraite_, while Martell became more and more nervous
as the meal progressed and was manifestly relieved when the ladies
retired. Soon after they had done so the Major was sent for from the
drawing-room. He found Miss Davidson sobbing on his wife's bosom. He
asked what was the matter. The girl, with many sobbing interruptions,
gasped out--

"He's the wrong man! O Heavens, I never saw _him_ before! The man I
remember who gave me sweets when I was a child had black hair; _he_ has
red! Oh, what shall I do? Oh, please send that man away and let me go
home!"

And then Miss Davidson went off into hysterics.

Here was a pretty state of matters! The Major and his wife could not
see their way clear at all. Consultation followed consultation, with
visits on the Major's part to poor Martell in the dining-room
irregularly interspersed. It was almost morning before affairs arranged
themselves after a fashion. The new basis agreed upon was that the
previously existing arrangement should be regarded as dead, and that a
courtship between Martell and Miss Davidson should be commenced _de
novo_--he to do his best to recommend himself to the lady's affections,
she to learn to love him if she could, red hair and all. And so George
went home, and the Segowlie household went to bed.

Poor George at the best had a very poor idea of courting acceptably;
and surely no man was more heavily handicapped in the enterprise
prescribed him. He had to court to order, and to combat, besides, both
the bad impression made at starting and the misfortune of his red hair.
The poor fellow did his best. He used to come and sit in Mrs. Freeze's
drawing-room hours on end, glowering at Miss Davidson in a silence
broken by spasmodic efforts at forced talk. He brought the girl
presents, gave her a horse, and begged of her to ride with him. But the
great stupid fellow had not thought of a habit and the girl felt a
delicacy in telling him that she had not one. So the horse ate his head
off in idleness, and George's heart went farther and farther down in
the direction of his boots. He had so bothered Mrs. Freeze that she had
washed her hands of him, and had bidden him worry it out on his own
line.

In less than a month the crisis came. Miss Davidson could not bring
herself to think of poor George as affording the makings of a husband.
She told Mrs. Freeze so, and begged, for kindness sake, that the Major
would break this her determination to Mr. Martell and desire him to
give the thing up as hopeless. The Major thought the best course to
pursue was to write to George to this effect. Next morning in the small
hours the poor fellow turned up in the Segowlie veranda in a terribly
bad way. He would not accept his fate at second-hand in this fashion;
he must see Miss Davidson and try to move her to be kind to him. In the
end there was an interview between them, from which George emerged
quiet but very pale. His notable matrimonial bandobast had proved the
deadest of failures; and the poor fellow's lip trembled as he thought
of Mactavish's happy home and his own forlorn bungalow.

But although he had red hair and did not know in the least what to do
with his feet, George Martell was a gentleman. The lady continuing
anxious to go home, he insisted on his right to pay her return passage
as he had done her passage outward, urging rather ruefully that, having
taken a shot at happiness and having missed fire, he must be the sole
sufferer. It is a little surprising that this uncouth chivalry did not
melt the lady, but she was obdurate, although she let him have his way
about the passage money. So in the company of an officer's wife going
home Miss Davidson quitted Segowlie and journeyed to Bombay. Poor old
George, with a very sore heart, was bent on seeing the last of her
before settling down again to the old dull bachelor life. He dodged
down to Bombay in the same train, travelling second class that he might
not annoy the girl by a chance meeting; and stood with a sad face
leaning on the rail of the Apollo Bunder, as he watched the ship
containing his miscarried venture steam out of Bombay harbour on its
voyage to England.

The same night he set out on his return to his plantation. At near
midnight the mail-train from Bombay reaches Eginpoora, at the head of
the famous Bhore ghât. Some refreshment is ordinarily procurable there,
but it is not much of a place. George Martell had had a drink, and was
sauntering moodily up and down the platform waiting for the whistle to
sound. As he passed the second class compartment reserved for ladies he
heard a low, tremulous voice exclaim, "Oh, if I could only make them
understand that I'd give the world for a cup of tea!" George, if
uncouth, was a practical man. His prompt voice rang out, "_Qui hye, ek
pyala chah lao!_" Promptly came the refreshment-room _khitmutghar_,
hurrying with the tea; and George, taking off his hat, begged to know
whether he could be of any further service.

It was a very pleasant face that looked out on him in the moonlight,
and there was more than mere conventionality in the accents in which
the pleasant voice acknowledged his opportune courtesy. Insensibly
George and the lady drifted into conversation. She was very lonely,
poor thing; a friendless girl coming out to be governess in the family
of a _burra sahib_ at Chupra. Now Chupra is only across the Gunduck
from Tirhoot, so George told his new acquaintance they were both going
to nearly the same place, and professed his cordial willingness to
assist her on the journey. He did so, escorting her right into Chupra
before he set his face homeward; and he thenceforth got into a habit of
visiting Chupra very frequently. Need I prolong the story? I happened
to be in Bankipore when the Prince of Wales visited that centre of
famine-wallahs. It fell to my pleasant lot to take Mrs. Martell in to
dinner at the Commissioner's hospitable table. Mrs. Mactavish was
sitting opposite; and I went back to my bedroom-tent in the compound
without having made up my mind whether she or Mrs. Martell was the
prettier and the nicer. So you see George Martell did not make quite so
bad a _bandobast_ after all.



THE LUCKNOW OF TO-DAY--1879


It was in Cawnpore on my way up country, during the Prince of Wales's
tour through India, that there were shown to me some curious and
interesting mementoes of the siege of Lucknow. The friend in whose
possession they were was near Havelock as he sat before his tent in the
short Indian twilight, a short time before the advance on Lucknow made
by him and Outram in September 1857. Through the gloom of the falling
twilight there came marching towards the General a file of Highlanders
escorting a tall, gaunt Oude man, on whose swarthy face the lamplight
struck as he salaamed before the General Lord Sahib. Then he extracted
from his ear a minute section of quill sealed at both ends. The
General's son opened the strange envelope forwarded by a postal service
so hazardous, and unrolled a morsel of paper which seemed to be covered
with cabalistic signs. The missive had been sent out from Lucknow by
Brigadier Inglis, the commander of the beleaguered garrison of the
Lucknow Residency, and its bearer was the stanch and daring scout,
Ungud. As I write the originals of this communication and of others
which came in the same way lie before me; and two of those missives in
their curious mixture of characters may be found of interest to readers
of to-day.


LUKHNOW, _Septr. 16th._ (Recd. 19th.)

MY DEAR GENERAL--The last letter I recd. from you was dated 24th ult'o,
since when I have rec'd [Greek: no neus] whatever from y'r [Greek:
kamp] or of y'r [Greek: movements] but am now [Greek: dailae expekting]
to receive [Greek: inteligense] of y'r [Greek: advanse] in this [Greek:
direktion]. Since the date of my last letter the enemy have continued
to persevere unceasingly in their efforts against this position & the
firing has never ceased day or night; they have about [Greek: sixten]
guns in position round us--many of them 18 p'rs. On 5th inst. they made
a very determined attack after exploding 2 mines and [Greek: suksaeded]
for a [Greek: moment] in [Greek: almost geting] into one of our [Greek:
bateries], but were eventually repulsed on all sides with heavy loss.
Since the above date they have kept up a cannonade & musketry fire,
occasionally throwing in a shell or two. My [Greek: waeklae loses]
continue very [Greek: hevae] both in [Greek: ophisers] & [Greek: men].
I shall be quite out of [Greek: rum] for the [Greek: men] in [Greek:
eit dais], but we have been [Greek: living] on [Greek: redused rations]
& I hope to be [Greek: able] to [Greek: get] on [Greek: til] about
[Greek: phirst prox]. If you have not [Greek: relieved] us by [Greek:
then] we shall have [Greek: no meat lepht], as I must [Greek: kaep]
some few [Greek: buloks] to [Greek: move] my [Greek: guns] about the
[Greek: positions]. As it is I have had to [Greek: kil] almost all the
[Greek: gun buloks], for my men c'd not [Greek: perphorm] the [Greek:
ard work without animal phood]. There is a report, tho' from a source
on which I cannot implicitly rely, that [Greek: mansing] has just
[Greek: arived] in [Greek: luknow] havg. [Greek: lepht part] of his
[Greek: phors outside] the [Greek: sitae]. It is said that [Greek: he]
is in [Greek: our interest] and that [Greek: he] has [Greek: taken] the
[Greek: above step] at the [Greek: instigation] of B[Greek: riti]sh
[Greek: athoritae]. But I cannot say whether [Greek: su]ch [Greek: be
the kase], as all I have to go upon is [Greek: bazar rumors]. I am
[Greek: most anxious] to [Greek: hear] of yr. [Greek: advanse] to
[Greek: enable mae] to [Greek: rae-asure our native soldiers].
[Footnote: The reader will observe that the words are English, though
the characters are Greek.]--Yours truly,

J. INGLIS, _Brigadier_,

H.M. 32'd Reg't.

To Brig'r Havelock, Commg. Relieving Force.


The other missive is of an earlier date, and was brought out in the
same manner as the first.


_August 16_. (Recd. 23rd August.)

MY DEAR GENERAL--A note from Colonel Tytler to Mr. Gubbins reached last
night, dated "Mungalwar, 4th instant," the latter part of which is as
follows:--"You must [Greek: aid] us in [Greek: everae] way even to
cutting y'r way out if we [Greek: kant phorse our] way in. We have
[Greek: onlae a small phorse]." This has [Greek: kaused mae] much
[Greek: uneasiness], as it is quite [Greek: imposible] with my [Greek:
weak] & [Greek: shatered phorse] that I can [Greek: leave] my [Greek:
dephenses]. You must bear in mind how I am [Greek: hampered], that I
have upwards of [Greek: one undred & twentae-sik wounded], and at the
least [Greek: two undred & twenae women], & about [Greek: two undred] &
[Greek: thirtae children], & no [Greek: kariage] of any [Greek:
deskription], besides [Greek: sakriphising twentae-thrae laks] of
[Greek: treasure] & about [Greek: thirtae guns] of [Greek: sorts]. In
consequence of the news rec'd I shall soon put the [Greek: phorse] on
[Greek: alph rations], unless I [Greek: hear phrom] you. [Greek: Our
provisions] will [Greek: last] us [Greek: then] till [Greek: about] the
[Greek: tenth] [Greek: september]. If you [Greek: hope] to [Greek: save
this no time must] be [Greek: lost] in pushing forward. We are [Greek:
dailae] being [Greek: ataked] by the [Greek: enemae], who are within a
few yards of our [Greek: dephenses]. Their [Greek: mines] have [Greek:
alreadae weakened our post], & I have [Greek: everae] [Greek: reason]
to [Greek: believe] that are carrying on [Greek: others]. Their [Greek:
aeteen] [Greeks: pounders] are within 150 yards of [Greek: some oph our
bateries], & [Greek: phrom] their [Greek: positions & [Greek: our
inabilitae] to [Greek: phorm working] [Greek: parties], we [Greek:
kanot repli] to [Greek: them. Thae damage done ourlae] is very [Greek:
great]. My [Greek: strength] now in [Greek: europeans] is [Greek: thrae
undred] & [Greek: phiphtae], & about [Greek: thrae hundred natives], &
the men [Greek: dreadphulae] [Greek: harassed], & owing to [Greek:
part] of the [Greek: residensae] having been [Greek: brought down] by
[Greek: round shot] are without [Greek: shelter]. Our [Greek: native]
[Greek: phorse] hav'g been [Greek: asured] on Col. Tytler's authority
of y'r [Greek: near] [Greek: aproach some twentae phive dais ago are
naturallae losing konphidense], [Greek: and iph thae leave] us I do not
[Greek: sae how the dephenses] are to be [Greek: manned]. Did you
[Greek: reseive a letter & plan phrom] the [Greek: man] [Greek:
Ungud]?--Kindly answer this question.--Yours truly,

J. INGLIS, _Brigadier_.

Cawnpore is an engrossing theme, and Bithoor alone would furnish
material for an article; but my present subject is Lucknow, and I must
get to it. There is a railway now to Lucknow from Cawnpore, but the
railway bridge across the Ganges is not yet finished and passengers
must cross by the bridge of boats to the Oude side. Behind me, as the
gharry jingles over the wooden platform, is the fort which Havelock
began, which Neill completed, and in which Windham found the shelter
which alone saved him from utter defeat. Before me is the low Gangetic
shore, with the dumpy sand-hills gradually rising from the water's
edge. A few years ago there used to ride at the head of that noble
regiment the 78th Highlanders, a smooth-faced, gaunt, long-legged,
stooping officer on an old white horse. The Colonel had a voice like a
girl and his men irreverently called him the "old squeaker"; but
although you never heard him talk of his deeds he had a habit of going
quietly and steadily to the front, taking fighting and hardship
philosophically as part of the day's work. Those sand-banks were once
the scene of some quiet, unsensational heroism of his. He commanded the
two companies of Highlanders whom Havelock threw on the unknown shore
as the vanguard of his advance into Oude. No prior reconnaissance was
possible. Oude swarmed with an armed and hostile population. The
chances were that an army was hovering but a little way inland, waiting
to attack the head of the column on landing. But it was necessary to
risk all contingencies, and Mackenzie accepted the service as he might
have done an invitation to a glass of grog. In the dead of the night
the boats stood across with the little forlorn hope with which Havelock
essayed to grapple on to Oude. Landing in the rain and darkness, it was
Mackenzie's task to grope for an enemy if there should be one in his
vicinity. There was not; but for four-and-twenty hours his little band
hung on to the Oude bank as it were by their eyelids, detached,
unsupported, and wholly charged with the taking care of themselves
until it was possible to send a reinforcement. The charge of this
vague, uncertain, tentative enterprise, fraught with risks so imminent
and so vast, required a cool, steady-balanced courage of no common
order.

"Onao!" shouts the conductor of the train at the first station from
Cawnpore, and we look out on a few railway bungalows and a large native
village apparently in a ruinous state. All this journey is studded with
battlefields, and this is one of them. If I had time I should like to
make a pilgrimage to the street mouth into which dashed frantically
Private Patrick Cavanagh of the 64th, who, stung to madness by the
hesitation of his fellows, was cut to pieces by the tulwars of the
mutineers. We jog on very slowly; the Oude and Rohilcund Railway is to
India in point of slowness what the Great Eastern used to be to us at
home; but every yard of the ground is interesting. Along that high road
passed in long, strangely diversified procession the people whom Clyde
brought away from Lucknow--the civilians, the women, the children, and
the wounded of the immortal garrison. That swell beyond the mango trees
under which the _nhil gau_ are feeding, is Mungalwar, Havelock's
menacing position. No wonder though the outskirts of this town on the
high road present a ruined appearance. It is Busseerutgunge, the scene
of three of Havelock's battles and victories, fought and won in a
single fortnight. We pass Bunnee, where Havelock and Outram tramping on
to the relief, fired a royal salute in the hope that the sound of it
might reach to the Residency and cheer the hearts of its garrison. And
now we are on the platform of the Lucknow station which has more of an
English look about it than have most Indian stations. There is a
bookstall, although it is not one of Smith's; and there are lots of
English faces in the crowd waiting the arrival of the train. The
natives, one sees at a glance, are of very different physique from the
people of Bengal. The Oude man is tall, square-shouldered, and upright;
he has more hair on his face than has the Bengali, and his carriage is
that of a free man. The railway station of Lucknow is flanked by two
earthwork fortifications of considerable pretensions.

Lucknow is so full of interest and the objects of interest are so
widely spread that one is in doubt where to begin the pilgrimage. But
the Alumbagh is on the railway side of the canal and therefore nearest;
and I drive directly to it before going into the town. From the station
the road to the Alumbagh turns sharp to the left and the two miles'
drive is through beautiful groves and gardens. Then the plain opens up
and there is the detached temple which so long was one of Outram's
outlying pickets; and to the left of it the square-walled enclosure of
the Alumbagh itself with the four corners flanked by earthen bastions.
The top of the wall is everywhere roughly crenelated for musketry fire,
and on two of its faces there are countless tokens that it has been the
target for round shot and bullets. The Alumbagh in the pre-Mutiny
period was a pleasure-garden of one of the princes of Oude. The
enclosed park contained a summer palace and all the surroundings were
pretty and tasteful. It was for the possession of the Alumbagh that
Havelock fought his last battle before the relief; here it was where he
left his baggage and went in; here it was that Clyde halted to organise
the turning movement which achieved the second relief. Hither were
brought from the Dilkoosha the women and children of the garrison prior
to starting on the march for Cawnpore; here Outram lay threatening
Lucknow from Clyde's relief until the latter's ultimate capture of the
city. But these occurrences contribute but trivially to the interest of
the Alumbagh in comparison with the circumstance that within its
enclosure is the grave of Havelock. We enter the great enclosure under
the lofty arch of the castellated gateway. From this a straight avenue
bordered by arbor vitae trees, conducts to a square plot of ground
enclosed by low posts and chains. Inside this there is a little garden
the plants of which a native gardener is watering as we open the
wicket. From the centre of the little garden there rises a shapely
obelisk on a square pedestal and on one side of the pedestal is a long
inscription. "Here lie," it begins, "the mortal remains of Henry
Havelock;" and so, methinks, it might have ended. There is needed no
prolix biographical inscription to tell the reverent pilgrim of the
deeds of the dead man by whose grave he stands--so long as history
lives, so long does it suffice to know that "here lie the mortal
remains of Henry Havelock"--and the text and verse of poetry grate on
one as redundancies. He sickened two days before the evacuation of the
Residency and died on the morning of the 24th of November in his dooly
in a tent of the camp at the Dilkoosha. The life went out of him just
as the march began, and his soldiers conveyed with them, on the litter
on which he had expired, the mortal remains of the chief who had so
often led them on to victory.

On the following morning they buried him here in the Alumbagh, under
the tree which still spreads its branches over the little garden in
which he lies. There stood around the grave-mouth Colin Campbell and
the chivalrous Outram, and stanch old Walter Hamilton, and the
ever-ready Fraser Tytler; and the "boy Harry" to whom the campaign had
brought the gain of fame and the loss of a father; and the devoted
Harwood with "his heart in the coffin there with Caesar;" and the
heroic William Peel; and that "colossal red Celt," the noble, ill-fated
Adrian Hope, sacrificed afterwards to incompetent obstinacy. Behind
stood in a wide circle the soldiers of the Ross-shire Buffs and the
"Blue Caps" who had served the dead chief so stanchly, and had gathered
here now, with many a memory of his ready praise of valour and his
indefatigable regard for the comfort of his men, stirring in their
war-worn hearts--

  Guarded to a soldier's grave
  By the bravest of the brave,
  He hath gained a nobler tomb
  Than in old cathedral gloom.
  Nobler mourners paid the rite,
  Than the crowd that craves a sight;
  England's banners o'er him waved,
  Dead he keeps the name he saved.

The burial-place was being temporarily abandoned, and as the rebels
desecrated all the graves they could discover it was necessary to
obliterate as much as possible the tokens of the interment. A big "H"
was carved into the bark of the tree and a small tin plate fastened to
its trunk, to guide to the subsequent investigation of the spot. Dr.
Russell tells us that when he visited the Alumbagh before his return
home after the mutiny in Oude was stamped out, he found the hero's
grave a muddy trench near the foot of a tree which bore the mark of a
round shot and had carved into its bark the letter "H." The tree is
here still and the dent of the round shot, and faintly too is to be
discerned the carved letter but the bark around it seems to have been
whittled away, perhaps by the sacrilegious knives of relic-seeking
visitors. There is the grave of a young lieutenant in a corner of the
little garden and a few private soldiers lie hard by.

I turn my face now toward the Charbagh bridge, following the route
taken by Havelock's force on the 25th of September--the memorable day
of the relief. There is the field where, as at a table in the open air
Havelock and Outram were studying a map, a round shot from the Sepoy
battery by the Yellow House ricochetted between them. There is the spot
where stood the Yellow House itself, whence after a desperate struggle
Maude's artillerymen drove the Sepoy garrison and its guns. Presently
with a sweep the road comes into a direct line with the Charbagh bridge
over the canal. Now there is not a house in the vicinity; the Charbagh
garden has been thrown into the plain and the steep banks of the canal
are perfectly naked. But then the scene was very different. On the
Lucknow side the native city came close up to the bridge and lined the
canal. The tall houses to right and left of the bridge on the Lucknow
side were full of men with firearms. At that end of the bridge there
was a regular overlapping breastwork, and behind it rose an earthwork
battery solidly constructed and armed with five guns, one a 42-pounder,
all crammed to the muzzle with grape. Let us sit down on the parapet
and try to realise the scene. Outram with the 78th has made a detour to
the right through the Charbagh garden to clear it of the enemy, and,
gaining the canal bank, to bring a flanking fire to bear on its
defenders. There is only room for two of Maude's guns; and there they
stand out in the open on the road trying to answer the fire of the
rebel battery. Thrown forward along the bank to the left of the bridge
is a company of the Madras Fusiliers under Arnold, lying down and
returning the musketry fire from the houses on the other side. Maude's
guns are forward in the straight throat of the road where it leads on
to the bridge close by, but round the bend under cover of the wall the
Madras Fusiliers are lying down. In a bay of the wall of the Charbagh
enclosure General Neill is standing waiting for the effect of Outram's
flank movement to develop, and young Havelock, mounted, is on the other
side of the road somewhat forward. Matters are at a deadlock. It seems
as if Outram had lost his way. Maude's gunners are all down; he has
repeatedly called for volunteers from the infantry behind, and now his
gallant subaltern, Maitland, is doing bombardier's work. Maude calls to
young Havelock that he shall be forced to retire his guns if something
is not done at once; and Havelock rides across through the fire and in
his capacity as assistant adjutant-general urges on Neill the need for
an immediate assault. Neill "is not in command; he cannot take the
responsibility; and General Outram must turn up soon." Havelock turns
and rides away down the road towards the rear. As he passes he speaks
encouragingly to the recumbent Fusiliers, who are getting fidgety at
the long detention under fire. "Come out of that, sir," cried one
soldier, "a chap's just had his head taken off there!" It is a grim
joke that reply which tickles the Fusiliers into laughter: "And what
the devil are we here for but to get our heads taken off?" Young
Havelock is bent on the perpetration of what, under the circumstances,
may be called a pious fraud. His father, who commands the operations,
is behind with the Reserve, and he disappears round the bend on the
make-belief of getting instructions from the chief. The General is far
in the rear but his son comes back at the gallop, rides up to Neill,
and saluting with his sword, says, "You are to carry the bridge at
once, sir." Neill, acquiescing in the superior order, replies, "Get the
regiment together then, and see it formed up." At the word and without
waiting for the regiment to rise and form the gallant and eager Arnold
springs up from his advanced position and dashes on to the bridge,
followed by about a dozen of his nearest skirmishers. Tytler and
Havelock, as eager as Arnold, set spurs to their horses and are by his
side in a moment. The brave and ardent 84th, commanded by Willis,
dashes to the front. Then the hurricane opens. The big gun crammed to
the muzzle with grape, sweeps its iron sleet across the bridge in the
face of the gallant band, and the Sepoy sharpshooters converge their
fire on it. Arnold drops shot through both thighs, Tytler's horse goes
down with a crash, the bridge is swept clear save for young Havelock
erect and unwounded, waving his sword and shouting for the Fusiliers to
come on, and a Fusilier corporal, Jakes by name, who, as he rams a
bullet home into his Enfield, says cheerily to Havelock, "We'll soon
have the ---- out of that, sir!" And corporal Jakes is a true prophet.
Before the big gun can be loaded again the stormers are on the bridge
in a rushing mass. They are across it, they clear the barricade, they
storm the battery, they are bayoneting the Sepoy gunners as they stand.
The Charbagh bridge is won, but with severe loss which continues more
or less all the way to the Residency; and when one comes to know the
ground it becomes more and more obvious that the strategy of Havelock,
overruled by Outram, was wise and prescient, when he counselled a wide
turning movement by the Dilkoosha, over the Goomtee near the
Martinière, and so along its northern bank to the Badshah-bagh, almost
opposite to the Residency and commanding the iron bridge.

I recross the Charbagh bridge and bend away to the left by the byroad
along the canal side by which the 78th Highlanders penetrated to the
front of the Kaiser-bagh. Most of the native houses are now destroyed,
whence was poured so deadly a fire on the advancing Ross-shire men that
three colour-bearers fell in succession, and the colour fell to the
grasp of the gallant Valentine McMaster, the assistant-surgeon of the
regiment. And now I stand in front of the main entrance to the
Kaiser-bagh, hard by the spot where stood the Sepoy battery which the
Highlanders so opportunely took in reverse. Before me on the _maidan_
is the plain monument to Sir Mountstuart Jackson, Captain Orr, and a
sergeant, who were murdered in the Kaiser-bagh when the success of
Campbell's final operations became certain. I enter the great square
enclosure of the Kaiser-bagh and stand in the desolation of what was
once a gay garden where the King of Oude and his women were wont to
disport themselves. The place stands much as Campbell's men left it
after looting its multifarious rich treasures. The dainty little
pavilions are empty and dilapidated, the statues are broken and
tottering. Quitting the Kaiser-bagh, I try to realise the scene of that
informal council of war in one of the outlying courtyards of the
numerous palaces. I want to fix the spot where on his big waler sat
Outram, a splash of blood across his face, and his arm in a sling;
where Havelock, dismounted, walked up and down by Outram's side with
short, nervous strides, halting now and then to give emphasis to the
argument, while all around them were officers, soldiers, guns, natives,
wounded men, bullocks, and a surging tide of disorganisation
momentarily pouring into the square. But the attempt is fruitless. The
whole area has been cleared of buildings right up to the gate of the
Residency, only that hard by the Goomtee there still stands the river
wing of the Chutter Munzil Palace with its fantastic architecture, and
that the palace of the King of Oude is now the station library and
assembly rooms. The Hureen Khana, the Lalbagh, the courts of the Furrut
Bux Palace, the Khas Bazaar, and the Clock Tower have alike been swept
away, and in their place there opens up before the eye trim ornamental
grounds with neat plantations which extend up to the Baileyguard
itself. One archway alone stands--a gaunt commemorative skeleton--a
pedestal for the statue of a noble soldier. It was from a chamber above
the crown of this arch that the sepoy shot Neill as he sat on his horse
urging the confused press of guns and men through the archway. The spot
is memorable for other causes. This archway led into that court which
is world-famous under the name of Dhooly Square. Here it was that the
native bearers abandoned the wounded in the doolies which poor Bensley
Thornhill was trying to guide into the Residency; here it was where
they were butchered and burned as they lay, and here it was where Dr.
Home and a handful of men of the escort did what in them lay to cover
the wounded and defended themselves for a day and a night against
continuous attacks of countless enemies.

The _via dolorosa_, the road of death up which Outram and Havelock
fought their way with Brazier's Sikhs and the Ross-shire Buffs, is now
a pleasant open drive amid clumps of trees, leading on to the
Residency. A strange thrill runs through one's frame as there opens up
before one that reddish-gray crumbling archway spanning the roadway
into the Residency grounds. Its face is dented and splintered with
cannon-shot and pitted all over by musket-bullets. This is none other
than that historic Baileyguard gate which burly Jock Aitken and his
faithful Sepoys kept so stanchly. You may see the marks still of the
earth banked up against it on the interior during the siege. To the
right and left runs the low wall which was the curtain of the defence,
now crumbled so as to be almost indistinguishable. But there still
stands, retired somewhat from the right of the archway, Aitken's
post--the guard-house and treasury, its pillars and façade cut and
dented all over with the marks of bullets fired by "Bob the Nailer" and
his comrades from the Clock Tower which stood over against it. And in
the curtain wall between the archway and the building is still to be
traced the faint outline of the embrasure through which Outram and
Havelock entered on the memorable evening. The turmoil and din and
conflicting emotions of that terrible, glorious day have merged into a
strange serenity of quietude. The scene is solitary, save for a native
woman who is playing with her baby on a spot where once dead bodies lay
in heaps. But the other older scene rises up vividly before the mind's
eye out of the present calm. Havelock and Outram and the staff have
passed through the embrasure here, and now there are rushing in the men
of the ranks, powder-grimed, dusty, bloody; but a minute before raging
with the stern passion of the battle, now full of a woman-like
tenderness. And all around them as they swarm in there crowd a mass of
folk eager to give welcome. There are officers and men of the garrison,
civilians whom the siege has made into soldiers; women, too, weeping
tears of joy down on the faces of the children for whom they had not
dared to hope for aught but death. There are gaunt men, pallid with
loss of blood, whose great eyes shine weirdly amid the torchlight and
whose thin hands tremble with weakness as they grip the sinewy, grimy
hands of the Highlanders. These are the wounded of the long siege who
have crawled out from the hospital up yonder, as many of them as could
compass the exertion, with a welcome to their deliverers. The hearts of
the impulsive Highlanders wax very warm. As they grasp the hands held
out to them they exclaim, "God bless you!" "Why, we expected to have
found only your bones!" "And the children are living too!" and many
other fervid and incoherent ejaculations. The ladies of the garrison
come among the Highlanders, shaking them enthusiastically by the hand;
and the children clasp the shaggy men round the neck, and to say truth,
so do some of the mothers. But Jessie Dunbar and her "Dinna ye hear
it?" in reference to the bagpipe music, are in the category of
melodramatic fictions.

The position which bears and will bear to all time the title of the
Residency of Lucknow, is an elevated plateau of land, irregular in
surface, of which the highest point is occupied by the Residency
building, while the area around was studded irregularly with buildings,
chiefly the houses of the principal civilian officials of the station.
When Campbell brought away the garrison in November 1857 it lapsed into
the hands of the mutineers, who held it till his final occupation of
the city and its surroundings in March of the following year. They
pulled down not a few of the already shattered buildings, and left
their fell imprint on the spot in an atrociously ghastly way by
desecrating the graves in which brave hands had laid our dead
country-people and flinging the exhumed corpses into the Goomtee. When
India once more became settled the Residency, its commemorative
features uninterfered with, was laid out as a garden and flowers and
shrubs now grow on soil once wet with the blood of heroes. The _débris_
has been removed or dispersed; the shattered buildings are prevented
from crumbling farther; tablets bearing the names of the different
positions and places of interest are let into the walls; and it is
possible, by exploring the place map in hand, to identify all the
features of the defence. The avenue from the Baileyguard gate rises
with a steep slope to the Residency building. On either side of the
approach and hard by the gate, are the blistered and shattered remnants
of two large houses; that on the right is the banqueting house which
was used as the hospital during the siege; that on the left was Dr.
Fayrer's house. The banqueting house is a mere shell, riven everywhere
with shot and pitted over by musket-bullets as if it had suffered from
smallpox. The ground-floor has escaped with less damage but the
banqueting hall itself has been wholly wrecked by the persistent fire
which the rebels showered upon it, and to which, notwithstanding the
mattresses and sandbags with which the windows were blocked, several
poor fellows fell victims as they lay wounded on their cots. Dr.
Fayrer's house is equally a battered ruin. In its first floor, roofless
and forlorn, its front torn open by shot and the pillars of its windows
jagged into fantastic fragments, is the veranda in which Sir Henry
Lawrence, 4th July 1857, died, exposed to fire to the very last. At the
top of the slope of the avenue and on the left front of the Residency
building as we approach it--on what, indeed, was once the lawn--has
been raised an artificial mound, its slopes covered with flowering
shrubs, its summit bearing the monumental obelisk on the pedestal of
which is the terse, appropriate inscription: "In memory of
Major-General Sir Henry Lawrence and the brave men who fell in defence
of the Residency. _Si monumentum quaeris Circumspice!_" Beyond this
lies the scathed and blighted ruin of the Residency House, once a large
and imposing structure, now so utterly wrecked and shivered that one
wonders how the crumbling reddish-gray walls are kept erect. The
veranda was battered down and much of the front of the building lies
bodily open, the structure being supported on the battered and
distorted pillars assisted by great balks of wood. Entering by the left
wing I pass down a winding stair into the bowels of the earth till I
reach the spacious and lofty vaults or _tykhana_ under the building.
Here, the place affording comparative safety, lived immured the women
of the garrison, the soldiers' wives, half-caste females, the wives of
the meaner civilians and their children. The poor creatures were seldom
allowed to come up to the surface, lest they should come in the way of
the shot which constantly lacerated the whole area, and few visitors
were allowed access to them. Veritably they were in a dungeon.
Provisions were lowered down to them from the window orifices near the
roof of the vaulting, and there were days when the firing was so heavy
that orders were given to them not even to rise from their beds on the
floor. For shot occasionally found a way even into the _tykhana_; you
may see the holes it made in penetrating. The miserables were billeted
off ten in a room, and there they lived, without sweepers, baths,
dhobies, or any of the comforts which the climate makes necessities.
Here in these dungeons children were born, only for the most part to
die. Ascending another staircase I pass through some rooms in which
lived (and died) some of the ladies of the garrison, and passing from
the left wing by a shattered corridor am able to look up into the room
in which Sir Henry Lawrence received his death-wound. Access to it is
impossible by reason of the tottering condition of the structure; and
turning away I clamber up the worn staircase in the shot-riven tower on
the summit of which still stands the flagstaff on which were hoisted
the signals with which the garrison were wont to communicate with the
Alumbagh. The walls of the staircase and the flat roof of the tower are
scratched and written all over with the names of visitors; many of the
names are those of natives, but more are those of British soldiers, who
have occasionally added a piece of their mind in characteristically
strong language.

I set out on a pilgrimage under the still easily traceable contour of
the intrenchment. Passing "Sam Lawrence's Battery" above what was the
water-gate, I traverse the projecting tongue at the end of which stood
the "Redan Battery" whose fire swept the river face up to the iron
bridge. Returning, and passing the spot where "Evans's Battery" stood,
I find myself in the churchyard in a slight depression of the ground.
Of the church, which was itself a defensive post, not one stone remains
on another and the mutineers hacked to pieces the ground of the
churchyard. The ground is now neatly enclosed and ornamentally planted
and is studded with many monuments, few of which speak the truth when
they profess to cover the dust of those whom they commemorate. There
are the regimental monuments of the 5th Madras Fusiliers, the 84th (360
men besides officers), the Royal Artillery, the 90th (a long list of
officers and 271 men). The monument of the 1st Madras Fusiliers bears
the names of Neill, Stephenson, Renaud, and Arnold, and commemorates a
loss of 352 men. There is a monument to Mr. Polehampton the exemplary
chaplain, and hard by a plain slab bears the inscription, "Here lies
Henry Lawrence, who tried to do his duty; may the Lord have mercy on
his soul!" words dictated by himself on his deathbed. Other monuments
commemorate Captain Graham of the Bengal Cavalry and two children; Mr.
Fairhurst the Roman Catholic chaplain; Major Banks; Captain Fulton of
the 32nd who earned the title of "Defender of Lucknow;" Lucas, the
travelling Irish gentleman who served as a volunteer and fell in the
last sortie; Captain Becher; Captain Moorsom; poor Bensley Thornhill
and his young daughter; "Mrs. Elizabeth Arne, burnt with a shell-ball
during the siege;" Lieutenant Cunliffe; Mr. Ommaney the Judicial
Commissioner; and others. The nameless hillocks of poor Jack Private
are plentiful, for here were buried many of those who fell in the final
capture; and there are children's graves. Interments take place still.
I saw a freshly-made grave; but only those are entitled to a last
resting-place here who were among the beleaguered during the long
defence. I have seen the medal for the defence of Lucknow on the breast
of a man who was a child in arms at the time of the siege, and such an
one would have the right to claim interment in this doubly hallowed
ground. From the churchyard I pass out along the narrow neck to that
forlorn-hope post, "Innes's Garrison," and along the western face of
the intrenchment by the sides of the sheep-house and the
slaughter-house, to Gubbins's post. The mere foundations of the house
are visible which the stout civilian so gallantly defended, and the
famous tree, gradually pruned to a mere stump by the enemy's fire, is
no longer extant. Along the southern face of the position there are no
buildings which are not ruined. Sikh Square, the Brigade Mess House,
and the Martinière boys' post, are alike represented by fragmentary
gray walls shivered with shot and shored up here and there by beams.
The rooms of the Begum Kothi near the centre of the position, are still
laterally entire but roofless. The walls of this structure are
exceptionally thick and here many of the ladies of the garrison were
quartered. All around the Residency position the native houses which at
the time of the siege crowded close up on the intrenchment, are now
destroyed; and indeed the native town has been curtailed into
comparatively small dimensions and is entirely separated from the area
in which the houses of the station are built.

Quitting the Residency I drive westward by the river side, over the
site of the Captan Bazaar, past also that huge fortified heap the
Muchee Bawn, till I reach the beautiful enclosure in which the great
Imambara stands. This majestic structure--part temple, part convent,
part palace, and now part fortress--dominates the whole _terrain_, and
from its lofty flat roof one looks down on the plain where the weekly
_hât_ or market is being held, on the gardens and mansions across the
river, and southward upon the dense mass of houses which constitute the
native city. Sentries promenade the battlements of the Muchee Bawn, and
the Imambara--an apartment to which for space and height I know none in
Europe comparable--is now used as an arsenal, where are stored the
great siege guns which William Peel plied with so great skill and
gallantry. Just outside the Imambara, on the edge of the _maidan_
between it and the Moosabagh, I come on a little railed churchyard
where rest a few British soldiers who fell during Lord Clyde's final
operations in this direction. Then, with a sweep across the plain to
the south and by a slight ascent, I reach the gate of the city which
opens into the Chowk or principal street--the street traversed in
disguise by the dauntless Kavanagh when he went out from the garrison
to convey information and afford guidance to Sir Colin Campbell on his
first advance. The gatehouse is held by a strong force of native
policemen, armed as if they were soldiers; and as I pass the guard I
stand in the Chowk itself, in the midst of a throng of gaily clad male
pedestrians, women in chintz trousers, laden donkeys, multitudinous
children, and still more multitudinous stinks. All down both sides the
fronts of the lower stories are open, and in the recesses sit merchants
displaying paltry jewelry, slippers, pipes, turban cloths, and
Manchester stuffs of the gaudiest patterns. The main street of Lucknow
has been called "The Street of Silver," but I could find little among
its jewelry either of silver or of gold. The first floors all have
balconies, and on these sit draped, barefooted women of Rahab's
profession. The women of Lucknow are fairer and handsomer, and the men
bolder and more stalwart, than those in Bengal, and it takes no great
penetration to discern that Lucknow is still ruled by fear and not by
love.

It remained for me still to investigate the scenes of the route by
which Lord Clyde came in on both his advances; but to do justice to
these would demand separate articles. Let me begin the hasty sketch at
the Dilkoosha Palace, two miles and more away to the east of the
Residency; for on both occasions the Dilkoosha was Clyde's base. Wajid
Ali's twenty-foot wall has now given place to an earthen embankment
surrounding a beautiful pleasure park, and there are now smooth green
slopes instead of the dense forest through which Clyde's soldiers
marched on their turning movement. On a swell in the midst of the park,
commanding a view of the fantastic architecture of the Martinière down
by the tank, stands the gaunt ruin of the once trim and dainty
Dilkoosha Palace or rather garden-house. From one of the pepper-box
turrets up there Lord Clyde directed the attack on the Martinière on
his ultimate operation; and here it was that, as Dr. Russell tells us,
a round shot dispersed his staff on the adjacent leads. After quietude
was restored the Dilkoosha was the headquarters for a time of Sir Hope
Grant, but now it has been allowed to fall into decay although the
garden in the rear of it is prettily kept up. On the reverse slope
behind the Dilkoosha was the camp in one of the tents of which Havelock
died. We drive down the gentle slope once traversed at a rushing double
by the Black Watch on their way to carry the Martinière, past the great
tank out of the centre of which rises the tall column to the memory of
Claude Martine, and reach the entrance of the fantastic building which
he built, in which he was buried, and which bears his name. We see at
the angle of the northern wing the slope up which the gun was run which
played so heavily on the Dilkoosha up on the wooded knoll there. The
Martinière is now, as it was before the Mutiny, a college for European
boys, and the young fellows are playing on the terraces. Grotesque
stone statues are in niches and along the tops of the balconies; you
may see on them the marks of the bullets which the honest fellows of
the Black Watch fired at them, taking them for Pandies. I go down into
a vault and see the tomb of Claude Martine; but it is empty, for the
mutineers desecrated his grave and scattered his bones to the winds of
heaven. Then I make for the roof, through the dormitories of the boys
and past fantastic stone griffins and lions and Gorgons, till I reach
the top of the tower and touch the flagstaff from which, during the
relief time, was given the answering signal to that hoisted on the
tower of the Residency. I stand in the niches where the mutineer
marksmen used to sit with their hookahs and take pot shots at the
Dilkoosha. I look down to the eastward on the Goomtee, and note the
spot where Outram crossed on that flank movement which would have been
very much more successful than it was had he been permitted to drive it
home. To the north-east beyond the topes is the battle-ground of
Chinhut, where Lawrence received so terrible a reverse at the beginning
of the siege. Due north is the Kookrail viaduct which Outram cleared
with the Rifles and the 79th, and in whose vicinity Jung Bahadour, the
crafty and bloodthirsty generalissimo of Nepaul, "co-operated" by a
demonstration which never became anything more. And to the west there
lie stretched out before me the domes, minarets, and spires of Lucknow,
rising above the foliage in which their bases are hidden, and the
routes of Clyde in the relief and capture. The rays of the afternoon
sun are stirring into colour the dusky gray of the Secunderbagh and of
the Nuddun Rusool, or "Grave of the Prophet," used as a powder magazine
by the rebels. Below me, on the lawn of the Martinière, is the big
gun--one of Claude Martine's casting--which did the rebels so much
service at the other angle of the Martinière and which was spiked at
last by two men of Peel's naval brigade, who swam the Goomtee for the
purpose. That little enclosure slightly to the left surrounds "all that
can die" of that strange mixture of high spirit, cool daring, and weak
principle, the famous chief of Hodson's Horse. By Hodson's side lies
Captain da Costa of the 56th N.I., attached to Brazier's Sikhs. Of this
officer is told that, having lost many relatives in the butchery of
Cawnpore, he joined the regiment likeliest to be in the front of the
Lucknow fighting, and fell by one of the first shots fired in the
assault on the Kaiser-bagh.

Descending from the Martinière tower I traverse the park to the
westward passing the grave of Captain Otway Mayne, cross the dry canal
along which are still visible the heaps of earth which mark the
stupendous first line of the rebels' defences, and bending to the left
reach the Secunderbagh. This famous place was a pleasure garden
surrounded with a lofty wall with turrets at the angles and a
castellated gateway. The interior garden is now waste and forlorn, the
rank grass growing breast-high in the corners where the slaughter was
heaviest. Here in this little enclosure, not half the size of the
garden of Bedford Square, 2000 Sepoys died the death at the hands of
the 93rd, the 53rd, and the 4th Punjaubees. Their common grave is under
the low mound on the other side of the road. The loopholes stand as
they were left by the mutineers when our fellows came bursting in
through the ragged breach made in the reverse side from the main
entrance by Peel's guns. Farther on--that is, nearer to the
Residency--I come to the Shah Nujeef, with its strong exterior wall
enclosing the domed temple in its centre. It is still easy to trace the
marks of the breach made in the angle in the wall by Peel's battering
guns, and the tree is still standing up which Salmon, Southwell, and
Harrison climbed in response to his proffer of the Victoria Cross.
Opposite the Shah Nujeef white girls are playing on the lawn of that
castellated building, for the Koorsheyd Munzil, on the top of which
there was hoisted the British flag in the face of a _feu d'enfer_, is
now a seminary for the daughters of Europeans. A little beyond, on the
plain in front of the Motee Mahal, is the spot where Campbell met
Outram and Havelock--a spot which, methinks, might well be marked by a
monument; and after this I lose my reckoning by reason of the extent of
the demolition, and am forced to resort to guesswork as to the precise
localities.



THE MILITARY COURAGE OF ROYALTY


Writing of the late Alexander III. of Russia, a foreign author has
recently permitted himself to observe: "Marvellous personal courage is
not a striking characteristic of the dynasty of the Romanoffs as it was
of the English Tudors." It will be conceded that periods materially
govern the conditions under which sovereigns and their royal relatives
have found opportunities for proving their personal courage. The Tudor
dynasty had ended before the Romanoff dynasty began. It is true,
indeed, that the ending of the former with the death of Elizabeth in
1603 occurred only a few years before the foundation of the latter by
the election to the Tzarship of Michael Feodorovitz Romanoff in 1612.
But of the five sovereigns of the Tudor dynasty it happened that only
one, Henry VII., the first monarch of that dynasty, found or made an
opportunity for the display of marked--scarcely perhaps of
"marvellous"--personal courage; and thus the selection of the Tudor
dynasty by the writer referred to as furnishing a contrasting
illustration in the matter of personal courage to that of the Romanoffs
was not particularly fortunate. Henry VIII. was only once in action; he
shared in the skirmish known as the "Battle of the Spurs," because of
the precipitate flight of the French horse. Edward VI. died at the age
of sixteen, and the two remaining sovereigns of the dynasty were women,
of whom it is true that Elizabeth was a strong and vigorous ruler, but
in the nature of things had no opportunity for showing "marvellous
personal courage." Henry VII. literally found his crown in the heart of
the _mêlée_ on Bosworth field, it matters not which of the alternative
stories is correct, that he himself killed Richard, or that Richard was
killed in the act of striking him a desperate blow. But Henry at
Bosworth in 1485 still belonged to the days of chivalry--to an era in
which monarchs were also armour-clad knights, who headed charges in
person and gave and took with spear, sword, and battle-axe. Long before
Peter the Great, more than two centuries after Bosworth, foamed at the
mouth with rage and hacked with his sword at his panicstricken troops
fleeing from the field of Narva on that winter day of 1700, the face of
warfare had altered and the _métier_ of the commander, were he
sovereign or were he subject, had undergone a radical change.

Of a family of the human race it is not rationally possible to
predicate a typical generic characteristic of mind. A physical trait
will endure down the generations, as witness the Hapsburg lip and the
swarthy complexion of the Finch-Hattons, in the face of alliances from
outside the races; but, save as regards one exception, there is no
assurance of a continuous inheritance of mental attributes. What a
contrast is there between Frederick the Great and his father; between
George III. and his successor; between the present Emperor of Austria
and his hapless son; between the genial, wistful, and well-intentioned
Alexander II. of Russia and the not less well-intentioned but
narrow-minded and despotic sovereign who succeeded him! But there may
be reserved one exception to the absence of assurance of inherited
mental attributes--one mental feature in which identity takes the place
of dissimilarity, and even of actual contrast. And that feature--that
inherited characteristic of a race whose progenitors happily possessed
it--is personal courage.

Take, for example, the Hohenzollerns. One need not hark back to
Carlyle's original Conrad, the seeker of his fortune who tramped down
from the ancestral cliff-castle on his way to take service under
Barbarossa. Before and since the "Grosse Kurfurst" there has been no
Hohenzollern who has not been a brave man. He himself was the hero of
Fehrbellin. His son, the first king of the line, Carlyle's "Expensive
Herr," was "valiant in action" during the third war of Louis XIV. The
rugged Frederick William, father of Frederick the Great, had his own
tough piece of war against the volcanic Charles XII. of Sweden and did
a stout stroke of hard fighting at Malplaquet. Of Fritz himself the
world has full note. Bad, sensual, debauched Hohenzollern as was his
successor, Frederick the Fat, he had fought stoutly in his youth-time
under his illustrious uncle. His son, Frederick William III.,
overthrown by Napoleon who called him a "corporal," did good soldierly
work in the "War of Liberation" and fought his way to Paris in 1814.
His eldest son, Frederick William IV., the vague, benevolent dreamer
whom _Punch_ used to call "King Clicquot" and who died of softening of
the brain, even he, too, as a lad had distinguished himself in the "War
of Liberation" and in the fighting during the subsequent advance on
Paris. As for grand old William I., the real maker of the German Empire
on the _quid facit per alium facit per se_ axiom, he died a veteran of
many wars. He was not seventeen when he won the Iron Cross by a service
of conspicuous gallantry under heavy fire. He took his chances in the
bullet and shell fire at Königgrätz, and again on the afternoon of
Gravelotte. Not a Hohenzollern of them all but shared as became their
race in the dangers of the great war of 1870-71; even Prince George,
the music composer, the only non-soldier of the family, took the field.
William's noble son, whose premature death neither Germany nor England
has yet ceased to deplore, took the lead of one army; his nephew Prince
Frederick Charles, a great commander and a brilliant soldier, was the
leader of another. One of his brothers, Prince Albert the elder, made
the campaign as cavalry chief; whose son, Prince Albert junior, now a
veteran Field-Marshal, commanded a brigade of guard-cavalry with a
skill and daring not wholly devoid of recklessness. Another brother,
Prince Charles, the father of the "Red Prince," made the campaign with
the royal headquarters; Prince Adalbert, a cousin of the sovereign and
head of the Prussian Navy, had his horse shot under him on the
battlefield of Gravelotte.

The trait of personal courage has markedly characterised the House of
Hanover. As King of England George I. did no fighting, but before he
reached that position he had distinguished himself in war not a little;
against the Danes and Swedes in 1700 and in high command in the war of
the Spanish succession from 1701 to 1709. His successor, while yet
young, had displayed conspicuous valour in the battle of Oudenarde, and
later in life at Dettingen; and he was the last British monarch who
took part in actual warfare. Cumberland had no meritorious attribute
save that of personal courage, but that virtue in him was undeniable.
At Dettingen he was wounded in the forefront of the battle; at Fontenoy
the "martial boy" was ever in the heart of the fiercest fire, fighting
at "a spiritual white heat." His grand-nephew the Duke of York was an
unfortunate soldier, but his personal courage was unquestioned. In the
present reign a cousin and a son of the sovereign have done good
service in the field; and that venerable lady herself in situations of
personal danger has consistently maintained the calm courage of her
race.

The foreign author has written that "marvellous personal courage is not
the striking characteristic of the dynasty of the Romanoffs." He makes
an exception to this quasi-indictment in favour of the Emperor
Nicholas, who, he admits, "was absolutely ignorant of fear, and could
face a band of insurgents with the calm self-possession of a shepherd
surveying his bleating sheep." The monarch who at the moment of his
accession illustrated the dominant force of his character by
confronting amid the bullet fire the ferocious mutiny of half an army
corps, and who crushed the bloodthirsty _émeute_ with dauntless
resolution and iron hand; the man who, facing the populace of St.
Petersburg crazed with terror of the cholera and red with the blood of
slaughtered physicians, quelled its panic-fury by commanding the people
in the sternest tones of his sonorous voice to kneel in the dust and
propitiate by prayers the wrath of the Almighty--such a man is
scarcely, perhaps, adequately characterised by the expressions which
have been quoted. But setting aside this instance of the fearlessness
of Nicholas, facts appear to refute pretty conclusively reflections on
the personal courage of the Romanoffs. No purpose can be served by
cumbering the record by going back into the period of Russia's
semi-civilisation; illustrations from three generations may reasonably
suffice. At Austerlitz Alexander I. was close up to the fighting line
in the Pratzen section of that great battle, and so recklessly did he
expose himself that the report spread rearward that he had fallen. He
was riding with Moreau in the heart of the bloody turmoil before
Dresden when a French cannon-ball mortally wounded the renegade French
general, and he was splashed by the latter's blood. Moreau had insisted
on riding on the outside, else the ball which caused his death would
certainly have struck Alexander. That monarch participated actively and
forwardly in most of the battles of the campaign of 1814 which
culminated in the allied occupation of Paris. Marmont's bullets were
still flying when he rode on to the hill of Belleville and looked down
through the smoke of battle on the French capital. The captious foreign
writer has admitted that Nicholas, the successor of Alexander, was
"absolutely ignorant of fear," and I have cited a convincing instance
of his "marvellous personal courage." Two of his sons--the Grand Dukes
Nicholas and Michael--were under fire in the battle of Inkerman and
shared for some time the perils of the siege of Sevastopol. Alexander
II. was certainly a man of real, although quiet and undemonstrative,
personal courage. But for his disregard of the precautions by which the
police sought to surround him he probably would have been alive to-day.
The Third Section was wholly unrepresented in Bulgaria and His
Majesty's protection on campaign consisted merely of a handful of
Cossacks. No cordon of sentries surrounded his simple camp; his tent at
Pavlo and the dilapidated Turkish house which for weeks was his
residence at Gorni Studen were alike destitute of any guards. The
imperial Court of Russia is said to be the most punctiliously
ceremonious of all courts; in the field the Tzar absolutely dispensed
with any sort of ceremony. He dined with his suite and staff at a
frugal table in a spare hospital marquee; his guests, the foreign
attachés and any passing officers or strangers who happened to be in
camp. When he drove out his escort consisted of a couple of Cossacks.
In the woods about Biela at the beginning of the war there still
remained some forlorn bivouacs of Turkish families; he would alight and
visit those, his sole companion the aide-de-camp on duty; and would
fearlessly venture among the sullen Turks all of whom were armed with
deadly weapons, try to persuade them to return to their homes, and,
unmoved by their refusal, promise to send them food and medicine.
Dispensing with all etiquette he would see without delay any one coming
in with tidings from fighting points, were he officer, civilian, or war
correspondent. During the September attack on Plevna he was continually
in the field while daylight lasted, looking out on the slaughter from
an eminence within range of the Turkish cannon-fire, and manifestly
enduring keen anguish at the spectacle of the losses sustained by his
brave, patient troops. Later, during the investment of Plevna, his
point of observation was a redoubt on the Radischevo ridge still closer
to the Turkish front of fire, and it was thence he witnessed the
surrender of Osman's army on the memorable 10th December 1877. If
Alexander was fearless alike in camp and in the field on campaign, he
was certainly not less so in St. Petersburg, when he returned thither
after the fall of Plevna.

Alexander II. literally sacrificed his life to his self-regardless
concern for the suffering. After the first bomb had burst on the
Alexandra Canal Road, striking down civilians and Cossacks of the
following escort but leaving the Emperor unhurt, his coachman begged to
be allowed to dash forward and get clear of danger. But Alexander
forbade him with the words, "No, no! I must alight and see to the
wounded;" and as he was carrying out his heroic and benign intention,
the second bomb exploded and wrought his death.

As did the men of the Hohenzollern house in 1870, so in 1877 the adult
male Romanoffs went to the war with scarce an exception. The Grand Duke
Nicholas, brother of the Emperor and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian
armies in Europe, was neither a great general nor an honest man; but
there could be no question as to his personal courage. That attribute
he evinced with utter recklessness when arriving, as was his wont, too
late for a deliberate and careful survey, he galloped round the Turkish
positions on the morning on which began the September bombardment of
Plevna, in proximity to Turkish cannon-fire so dangerous that his staff
remonstrated, and that even the sedate American historian of the war
speaks of him as having "exposed himself imprudently to the Turkish
pickets." His son, the Grand Duke Nicholas, jun., in 1877 scarcely of
age, was nevertheless a keen practical soldier, imbued with the wisdom
of getting to close quarters and staying there. He was among the first
to cross the Danube at Sistova under the Turkish fire, and he fought
with great gallantry under Mirsky in the Schipka Pass. The brothers,
Prince Nicholas and Prince Eugene of Leuchtenberg, members of the
imperial house, commanded each a cavalry brigade in Gourko's dashing
raid across the Balkans at the beginning of the campaign, and both were
conspicuous for soldierly skill and personal gallantry in the desperate
fighting in the Tundja Valley. The Grand Duke Vladimir, the second
brother of Alexander III., headed the infantry advance in the direction
of Rustchuk, and served with marked distinction in command of one of
the corps in the army of the Lom. A younger brother, the Grand Duke
Alexis, the nautical member of the imperial family, had charge of the
torpedo and subaqueous mining operations on the Danube, and was held to
have shown practical skill, assiduity, and vigour. Prince Serge of
Leuchtenberg, younger brother of the Leuchtenbergs previously
mentioned, was shot dead by a bullet through the head in the course of
his duty as a staff officer at the front of a reconnaissance in force
made against the Turkish force in Jovan-Tchiflik in October of the war.
He was a soldier of great promise and had frequently distinguished
himself. No unworthy record, it is submitted, earned in war by the
members of a family of which, according to the foreign author,
"personal courage is not the striking characteristic."

That writer may be warranted in stating that the late Tzar had been
frequently accused of cowardice--an indictment to which, it must be
admitted, many undeniable facts lent a strong colouring of probability;
and he further tells of "the Emperor's aversion to ride on horseback,
and of his dread of a horse even when the animal was harnessed to a
vehicle." There is something, however, of inconsistency in his
observation that Alexander III. might well have been a contrast to his
grandfather without deserving the epithet craven-hearted. The
melancholy explanation of the strange apparent change between the
Tzarewitch of 1877 and the Tzar of 1894 may lie in the statement that
"Alexander's nerves had been undoubtedly shaken by the terrible events
in which he had been a spectator or actor." In 1877, when in campaign
in Bulgaria, Alexander did not know what "nerves" meant. He was then a
man of strong, if slow, mental force, stolid, peremptory, reactionary;
the possessor of dull but firm resolution. He had a strong though
clumsy seat on horseback and was no infrequent rider. He had two ruling
dislikes: one was war, the other was officers of German extraction. The
latter he got rid of; the former he regarded as a necessary evil of the
hour; he longed for its ending, but while it lasted he did his sturdy
and loyal best to wage it to the advantage of the Russian arms. And in
this he succeeded, stanchly fulfilling the particular duty which was
laid upon him, that of protecting the Russian left flank from the
Danube to the foothills of the Balkans. He had good troops, the
subordinate commands were fairly well filled, and his headquarter staff
was efficient--General Dochtouroff, its _sous-chef_, was certainly the
ablest staff-officer in the Russian army. But Alexander was no puppet
of his staff; he understood his business as the commander of the army
of the Lom, performed his functions in a firm, quiet fashion, and
withal was the trusty and successful warden of the eastern marches. His
force never amounted to 50,000 men, and his enemy was in considerably
greater strength. He had successes and he sustained reverses, but he
was equal to either fortune; always resolute in his steadfast, dogged
manner, and never whining for reinforcements when things went against
him, but doing his best with the means to his hand. They used to speak
of him in the principal headquarter as the only commander who never
gave them any bother. So highly was he thought of there that when,
after the unsuccessful attempt on Plevna in the September of the war,
the Guard Corps was arriving from Russia and there was the temporary
intention to use it with other troops in an immediate offensive
movement across the Balkans, he was named to take the command of the
enterprise. But this intention having been presently departed from, and
the reinforcements being ordered instead to the Plevna section of the
theatre of war, the Tzarewitch retained his command on the left flank,
and thus in mid-December had the opportunity of inflicting a severe
defeat on Suleiman Pasha, just as in September he had worsted Mehemet
Ali in the battle of Carkova. It is sad to be told that a man once so
resolute and masterful should later have been the victim of shattered
nerves; it is sadder still to learn that he was a mark for accusations
of cowardice. He never was a gracious, far less a lovable man; but, as
I can testify from personal knowledge, he was a cool and brave soldier
in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877.



PARADE OF THE COMMISSIONAIRES

1875


On a Sunday morning in early June, just before the church bells begin
to ring, there is wont to be held the annual general parade and
inspection of the Corps of Commissionaires, on the enclosed grass plot
by the margin of the ornamental water in St. James's Park. On the
ground, and accompanying the inspecting officer on his tour through the
opened ranks, there are always not a few veteran officers, glad by
their presence on such an occasion to countenance and recognise their
humbler comrades in arms in bygone war-dramas enacted elsewhere than
within hearing of London Sunday bells. No scene could be imagined
presenting a more practical confutation of the ignorant calumny that
the British army is composed of the froth and the dregs of the British
nation, and that there exists no cordial feeling between British
soldiers and British officers. It is good to see how the face kindles
of the veteran guardsman at the sight and the kindly greeting of Sir
Charles Russell. Doubtless the honest private's thoughts go back to
that misty morning on the slopes of Inkerman, when officer and private
stood shoulder to shoulder in the fierce press, and there rang again in
his ears the cheer with which the Guards greeted the act of valour by
the performance of which the baronet won the Victoria Cross. There is a
feeling deeper than a mere formality in the half-dozen words that pass
between Sir William Codrington and the old soldier of the 7th Royal
Fusiliers, to whom the gallant general showed the way up to the Russian
front, through the shot-torn vineyards on the slopes of the Alma. When
one feeble old ex-warrior is smitten suddenly on parade with a palsied
faintness, it is on the yet stalwart arm of his old chief that he
totters out of the ranks, and the twain do not part till the superior
has exacted a pledge that his humble ex-subordinate shall call upon him
on the morrow, with a view to medical advice and strengthening comforts.

Notwithstanding that in the true old martial spirit it shows what in
the Service is known as a good front, it is not a very athletic or
puissant cohort this, that stands on parade here on the grass within
hearing of the church bells. The grizzled old soldiers, sooth to say,
look rather the worse for wear. There is a decided shortcoming among
them of the proper complement of limbs, and one at least, in speaking
of the battlefields he had seen, might with truth echo the old soldier
in Burns's _Jolly Beggars_--

  And there I left for witness a leg and an arm.

They carry no weapons; to some may belong the knowledge only of the
obsolete "Brown Bess" manual exercise; and not many have been so
recently on active service as to have learnt the handling of the modern
breech-loader. On the whole, a battered, fossil, maimed army of
superannuated fighting men, scarcely fitted to shine in the new tactics
of the "swarm-attack" by which the battles of the future are to be won
or lost. But you cannot jibe at the worn old soldiers as "lean and
slippered pantaloons." Look how truly, with what instinctive intuition,
the dressing is taken up at the word of command; note how the old
martial carriage comes back to the most dilapidated when the adjutant
calls his command to "attention." Age and wounds have not quenched the
fighting spirit of the old soldiers; there is not a man of them but
would, did the need arise, "clatter on his stumps to the sound of the
drum." There are few breasts in those ranks that are not decorated with
medals. In very truth the parade is a record of British campaigns for
the last thirty years. Among the thicket of medals on the bosom of this
broken old light dragoon note the one bearing the legend, "Cabul 1842"
within the laurel wreath. Its wearer was a trooper in the famous
"rescue" column. The skeletons of Elphinstone's hapless force littered
the slopes of the Tezeen Valley, up which the squadron in which he rode
charged straight for the tent of the splendid demon Akbar Khan. He rode
behind Campbell at the battle of Punniar, and won there that star of
silver and bronze which hangs from the famous "rainbow" ribbon.
"Sutlej" is the legend on another of his medals, and he could recount
to you the memorable story of Thackwell's cavalry operations against
the Sikh field works, and how that division of seasoned horsemen
reduced outpost duty to a methodical science. "Punjab" medals for
Gough's campaign of 1848-49 are scattered up and down in the ranks. The
sword-cut athwart this wiry old trooper's cheek he got in the hot
_mêlée_ of Ramhuggur, where a certain Brigadier Colin Campbell whom men
knew afterwards as Lord Clyde, found it hard work to hold his own, and
where gallant Cureton and the veteran William Havelock fell at the head
of their light horsemen as they crashed into the heart of 4000 Sikhs.
His neighbour took part in the storm of Mooltan, and saw stout,
calm-pulsed Sergeant John Bennet of the 1st Bombay Fusiliers plant the
British ensign on the crest of the breach and quietly stand by it
there, supporting it in the tempest of shot and shell till the storming
party had made the breach their own. This old soldier of the 24th can
tell you of the butchery of his regiment at Chillianwallah; how Brooks
went down between the Sikh guns, how Brigadier Pennycuick was killed
out to the front, and how his son, a beardless ensign, maddened at the
sight of the mangling of his father's body, rushed out and fought
against all comers over the corpse till the lad fell dead on his dead
father; how on that terrible day the loss of the 24th was 13 officers
killed, 10 wounded, and 497 men killed and wounded; and how the issue
of the bloody combat might have been very different but for the
display, on the part of Colin Campbell, of "that steady coolness and
military decision for which he was so remarkable." Scarcely a great
show on a troop-horse would this bent and gnarled old 12th Lancer make
to-day, but he and his fellows rode right well on the day for which he
wears this "Cape" medal, with the blue and orange ribbon and the lion
and mimosa bush on the reverse. Because of its prickles the Boers call
the mimosa the "wait-a-bit" thorn, but there was no thought of waiting
a bit among the 12th Lancers at the Berea, when they charged the savage
Basutos and captured their chief Moshesh. This one-armed veteran of the
Royal Fusiliers was left lying wounded in the Great Redoubt on the
Russian slope of the Alma, when the terrible fire of grape and musketry
forced Codrington's brigade of the Light Division temporarily to give
ground after it had struggled so valiantly up the rugged broken banks,
and through the hailstorm of fire that swept through the vineyards.
This still stalwart man was one of the nineteen sergeants of the
33rd--the Duke of Wellington's Own--who were either killed or wounded
in defence of the colours on the same bloody but glorious day. A few
files farther down the line stands an old 93rd man. The veteran
Sutherland Highlander was one of that "thin red line" which disdained
to form square when the Russian squadrons rode with seeming heart at
the kilted men on Balaclava day. He heard Colin Campbell's stern
repressive rebuke--"Ninety-third, ninety-third, damn all that
eagerness!" when the hotter spirits of the regiment would fain have
broken ranks and met the Russians half-way with the cold steel; he saw
the Scotch wife chastise the fugitive Turks with her tongue and her
frying-pan. Speak to his tall, shaggy neighbour of the "bonny Jocks,"
and you will call up a flush of pleasure on the harsh-featured Scottish
face; for he was a trooper in the Greys on that self-same Balaclava day
when the avalanche of Russian horsemen thundered down upon the heavy
brigade. He was among those who heard, and with sternly rapturous
anticipation obeyed Scarlet's calm-pitched, far-sounding order, "Left
wheel into line!" He was among those who, when the trumpets had sounded
the charge, strove in vain by dint of spur to overtake the gallant old
chief with the long white moustache, as he rode foremost on the foe
with the dashing Elliot and the burly Shegog on either flank of him; he
was among those who, as they hewed and hacked their way through the
press, heard already from the far side of the _mêlée_ the stentorian
adjuration of big Adjutant Miller, as standing up in his stirrups the
burly Scot shouted, "Rally, rally on me, ye muckle ----!" Mightily
knocked about has been this man with the empty sleeve, but he does not
belie the familiar sobriquet of his old regiment; he was one of the
"Diehards," a title well earned by the 57th on the bloody height of
Albuera, and it was under their colours that he lost his arm on
Inkerman morning. There is quite a little regiment of men who were
wounded in the "trenches" or about the Redan. There is no "19" now on
the buttons of this scarred veteran, but the number was there when he
followed Massy and Molesworth over the parapet of the Redan on the day
when so much good English blood was wasted. Shoulder to shoulder now,
as oft of yore, stand two old soldiers of the Buffs both of whom went
down in the same assault; and an umwhile bugler of the Perthshire
Grey-breeks "minds the day" well also by reason of the wound that has
crippled him for life. As he stands on parade this calm Sabbath
morning, that maimed man of the 60th Rifles can remember another and a
very different Sabbath--the 10th of May 1857 in Meerut--day and place
of the first outburst of the Mutiny; a fell Sabbath of burning,
slaughter, and dismay, of disregard of sex, age, and rank, of fierce
brutality and of nameless agony. He was one of the rifles whose fire in
the assault of Delhi covered the desperate duty of blowing open the
Cashmere Gate, performed with so methodical calmness by Home, Salkeld,
and Burgess; and his comrade hero with the maimed limb, when the hour
had come for a rush to close quarters, followed Reid and Muter over the
breastwork at the end of the serai of Kissengunge. Proud, yet their
pride dashed by sadness, must be the soldiering memories of this stout
northman, erstwhile a front rank man in the old Ross-shire Buffs, a
regiment ever true to its noble Celtic motto of _Cuidichn Rhi_. At
Kooshab, in the short, but brilliant Persian War, he fought in the same
field where Malcolmson earned the Victoria Cross by one of the most
gallant acts for which that guerdon of valour ever has been accorded.
He was in Mackenzie's company at Cawnpore when the Highlanders, stirred
by the wild strains of the war-pibroch, rushed upon the Nana's battery
at the angle of the mango tope with the irresistible fury of one of
their own mountain torrents in spate. And next day he was among those
who, with drawn ghastly faces and scared eyes, looked into that fearful
well, filled to the lip with the mangled corpses of British women and
children. He was one of those who, standing by that well, pledged the
oath administered by the bareheaded Ross-shire sergeant over the long,
heavy tress of auburn hair which a demon's tulwar had severed from the
head of an Englishwoman, that while strong arm and trusty steel lasted
to no living thing of the accursed race should quarter be accorded. And
he was one of those who, having battled their way over the Charbagh
Bridge, having threaded the bullet-torn path to the Kaiser-bagh, and
having forced for themselves a passage up to the embrasures by the
Baileyguard Gate, melted from the stern fierceness of the fray when the
siege-worn women and children in the residency of Lucknow sobbed out
upon their necks blessings for the deliverance. His rear-rank man is an
ex-Bengal Fusilier, wounded once at Sabraon, again at Pegu, and a third
time at Delhi. He will not be offended if you hail him as one of the
"old Dirty-shirts;" for it was in honourable disregard of appearances
as they toiled night and day in the trenches of Delhi that the
regiment, which now in the Queen's service is numbered 101, gained the
nickname. Time and space fail one to tell a tithe of the stories of
valour and hardship linked in the medals and wounds borne by men on
this unostentatious parade--a parade the members of which have shed
their blood on the soil of every quarter of the globe. The minutest
military annals scarcely name some of the obscure combats in which men
here to-day have fought and bled. This man desperately wounded at
Najou, near Shanghai; that one wounded in two places at Owna, in
Persia; this one with a sleeve emptied at Aroga, in Abyssinia--who
among us remember aught, if, indeed, we have ever heard, of Najou,
Owna, or Aroga? On the breast of this bent, hoary old man, note these
strange emblems, the Cross of San Fernando and the Order of the Tower
and Sword. Their wearer is a relic of the British Legion in the Carlist
War of 1837, and they were won under brave old De Lacy Evans at the
siege of Bilbao.

Over the modest portals of the Commissionaire Barracks in the Strand
might well be inscribed the legend, "To all the military glories of
Britain." But just as we have not long ago seen the pride of a palace
in another land on whose façade is a kindred inscription, abased by the
occupation of a foreign conqueror, so there was a time when the living
emblems of Britain's military glory were wont to undergo much
humiliation and adversity when their career of soldiering had come to
an end. Germany recompenses her veterans by according them, as a right,
reputable civil employ when they have served their time as soldiers;
the custom of Britain, on the contrary, has been too commonly to leave
her scarred and war-worn soldiers to their own resources, or to a
pension on which to live is impossible. We were always ready enough to
feel a glow at the achievements of our arms; but till lately we were
prone to reckon the individual soldier as a social pariah, and to
regard the fact of a man's having served in the ranks as a brand of
discredit. To this estimate, it must be allowed, the ex-soldier himself
very often contributed not a little. Destitute of a future, and often
debarred by wounds or by broken health from any laborious industrial
employment, he made the most of the present; and his idea of making the
most of the future not unfrequently took the form of beer and
shiftlessness. Recognising the disadvantages that bore so hard on the
deserving old soldier, recognising too, in the words of the late Sir
John Burgoyne, that "there are many qualities peculiar to the soldier
and sailor, and imbibed by him in the ordinary course of his service,
which, added to good character and conduct, may render such men more
eligible than others for various services in civil life," Captain
Edward Walter founded the Corps of Commissionaires. That organisation,
beginning with seven men, has now a strength of several hundreds, and
its ranks are still open to all the eligible recruits who choose to
come forward. The Commissionaire is no recipient of charity; what
Captain Walter has done is simply to show him how he may earn an honest
and comfortable livelihood, and to provide him, if he desires it, with
a home of a kind which the ex-militaire naturally most appreciates. The
advantages are open to him of a savings-bank and of a sick and burial
fund, and when the evil days come when he can no longer earn his own
bread, the "Retiring Fund" guarantees the thrifty and steady
Commissionaire against the prospect of ending his days in the
workhouse. Among the fruits of Captain Walter's devoted and gratuitous
services in this cause has been a wholesome change in the bias of
popular opinion as to the worth of old soldiers. No longer are they
regarded as the mere chaff and _débris_ of the cannon fodder--"no
account men," as Bret Harte has it; he has furnished them with
opportunity to prove, and they have proved, that they can so live and
so work as to win the respect and trust of their brethren of the
civilian world. The man who has done this thing deserves well, not
alone of the British army, but of the British nation. He has brought it
about that the time has come when most men think with Sir Roger de
Coverley. "You must know," says Sir Roger, "I never make use of anybody
to row me that has not lost either a leg or an arm. I would rather bate
him a few strokes of his oar than not employ an honest man that has
been wounded in the Queen's service. If I was a lord or a bishop ... I
would not put a fellow in my livery that had not a wooden leg."



THE INNER HISTORY OF THE WATERLOO CAMPAIGN


The actual fighting phase of this memorable campaign was confined to
the four days from the 15th to the 18th of June, both days inclusive.
The literature concerning itself with that period would make a library
of itself. Scarcely a military writer of any European nation but has
delivered himself on the subject, from Clausewitz to General Maurice,
from Berton to Brialmont. Thiers, Alison, and Hooper may be cited of
the host of civilian writers whom the theme has enticed to description
and criticism. There is scarcely a point in the brief vivid drama that
has not furnished a topic for warm and sustained controversy; and the
cult of the Waterloo campaign is more assiduous to-day than when the
participators in the great strife were testifying to their own
experiences.

Quite recently an important work dealing chiefly with the inner history
of the campaign has come to us from the other side of the Atlantic.
[Footnote: _The Campaign of Waterloo: a Military History_. By John
Codman Ropes. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. February 1893.] Its
author, Mr. John Ropes, is a civilian gentleman of Boston, who has
devoted his life to military study. He has given years to the
elucidation of the problems of the Waterloo campaign, has trodden every
foot of its ground, and has burrowed for recondite matter in the
military archives of divers nations. A citizen of the American
Republic, he is free alike from national prejudices and national
prepossessions; if he is perhaps not uniformly correct in his
inferences, his rigorous impartiality is always conspicuous. By his
research and acute perception he has let light in upon not a few
obscurities; and it may be pertinent briefly to summarise the inner
history of the campaign, giving what may seem their due weight to the
arguments and representations of the American writer.

The following were the respective positions on the 14th of
June:--Wellington's heterogeneous army, about 94,000 strong with 196
guns, lay widely dispersed in cantonments from the Scheldt to the
Charleroi-Brussels chaussée, its front extending from Tournay through
Mons and Binche to Nivelles and Quatre Bras. Of the Prussian army under
Blücher, about 121,000 strong with 312 guns, one corps was at Liège,
another near the Meuse above Namur, a third at Namur, and Ziethen's in
advance holding the line of the Sambre. The mass of Blücher's command
had already seen service and, with the exception of the Saxons, was
full of zeal; the corps were well commanded, and their chief, although
he had his limits, was a thorough soldier. The French army, consisting
of five corps d'armée, the Guard, four cavalry corps and 344
guns--total fighting strength 124,500--Napoleon had succeeded in
assembling with wonderful celerity and secrecy south of the Sambre
within an easy march of Charleroi. Its officers and soldiers were alike
veterans but its organisation was somewhat defective. Napoleon scarcely
preserved the phenomenal force of earlier years; but, in Mr. Ropes's
words, he disclosed "no conspicuous lack of energy and activity." Soult
was far from being an ideal chief of staff. Ney, to whom was assigned
the command of the left wing, only reached the army on the 15th, and
without a staff; Grouchy, to whom on the 16th was suddenly given the
command of the right wing, was not a man of high military capacity.

Napoleon's plan of campaign was founded on the circumstance that the
bases of the allied armies lay in opposite directions--the English base
on the German Ocean, the Prussian through Liège and Maestricht to the
Rhine. The military probability was that if either army was forced to
retreat, it would retreat towards its base; and to do this would be to
march away from its ally. Napoleon was in no situation to manoeuvre
leisurely, with all Europe on the march against him. His engrossing aim
was to gain immediate victory over his adversaries in Belgium before
the Russians and Austrians should close in around him. His expectation
was that Blücher would offer battle about Fleurus and be overwhelmed
before the Anglo-Dutch army could come to the support of its Prussian
ally. To make sure of preventing that junction the Emperor's intention
was to detail Ney with the left wing to reach and hold Quatre Bras. The
Prussians thoroughly beaten, drifting rearward toward their base, and
reduced to a condition of comparative inoffensiveness, he would then
turn on Wellington and force him to give battle.

Mr. Ropes refutes the contention maintained by a great array of
authorities, that Napoleon's design was to "wedge himself into the
interval between the allied armies" by seizing simultaneously Sombreffe
and Quatre Bras, in order to cut the communication between the two
armies and then defeat them in succession. Against this view he
successfully marshals Napoleon himself, Wellington by the mouth of Lord
Ellesmere, and the great German strategist Clausewitz. It will suffice
to quote Napoleon:--

  The Emperor's intention was that his advance should
  occupy Fleurus, the mass concealed behind this town;
  he took good care ... above all things not to occupy
  Sombreffe. To have done so would have caused the
  failure of all his dispositions, for then the battle of Ligny
  would not have been fought, and Blücher would have had
  to make Wavre the concentration-point for his army.

Wellington alludes pointedly to the obvious danger to the French army
of the suggested wedge position in what the Germans call _die taktische
Mitte_, where, instead of being able to defeat the allies in
succession, it would itself be liable to be crushed between the upper
and the nether millstone.

At daybreak of the 15th Napoleon took the offensive, driving in Ziethen
on and through Charleroi although not without sharp fighting. On that
evening three French corps, the Guard, and most of the cavalry, were
concentrated about Charleroi and forward toward Fleurus, ready to
attack Blücher next day. Controversy has been very keen on the question
whether or not on the afternoon of the 15th Napoleon gave Ney verbal
orders to occupy Quatre Bras the same evening. Mr. Ropes holds it
"almost certain" that the order was given. From Napoleon's bulletin
despatched on the evening of the 15th, which is the only piece of
strictly contemporary evidence, he quotes: "Le Prince de la Moskowa
(Ney) a eu le soir son quartier général aux Quatres-Chemins;" and he
remarks that this must have been the belief in the headquarter "unless
we gratuitously invent an intention to deceive the public." There is no
need for Mr. Ropes to put that strain on himself, since the main
purport of Napoleon's bulletins notoriously was to deceive the public.
But if Napoleon had not intended that Ney should occupy Quatre Bras on
the night of the 15th, the statement that this had been done would have
been a purposeless futility; and if he had intended that Ney should do
so it is unlikely that he should have omitted to give him instructions
to that effect. Grouchy claims to have heard Napoleon censure Ney for
his omission to occupy Quatre Bras; an omission which had its
importance, for the reason, among others, that it was ominous of the
Marshal's infinitely more harmful disobedience of orders next day.

All writers agree that Blücher ordered the concentration of his army in
the fighting position previously chosen in the event of the French
advancing by Charleroi, "without," in Mr. Ropes's words, "any definite
agreement or undertaking with Wellington that he was to have English
aid in the impending battle." He was content to take his risk of the
English general's possible inability for sundry obvious reasons, to
come to his support. And while the Prussian army with the unfortunate
exception of Bülow's corps, was on the 15th moving toward the chosen
position of Ligny, where its right was to be on St. Amand, its centre
on and behind Ligny, and its left about Balâtre, what was happening in
the Anglo-Dutch army lying spread out westward of the
Charleroi--Brussels chaussée?

Wellington was at Brussels expecting the French invasion by or west of
the Mons-Brussels road, to meet which he considered his army very well
placed, but could expect no Prussian cooperation. His courier service,
with his forces so dispersed, should have been well organised and
alert, but it was neither; and Napoleon's secrecy and suddenness in
taking the offensive were worthy of his best days. It has been freely
imputed to Wellington that he was thereby in a measure surprised. There
is the strange and probably mythical story in the work professing to be
Fouché's _Memoirs_ to the effect that Wellington was relying on him for
information of Napoleon's plans, and that he--Fouché--played the
English commander false. "On the very day of Napoleon's departure from
Paris," say the _Memoirs_, "I despatched Madame D----, furnished with
notes in cipher, narrating the whole plan of the campaign. But at the
same time I privately sent orders for such obstacles at the frontier,
where she was to pass, that she could not reach Wellington's
headquarters till after the event. This was the real explanation of the
inactivity of the British generalissimo which excited such universal
astonishment." Readers of the _Letters of the First Earl of Malmesbury_
will remember the apparently authentic statement of Captain Bowles,
that Wellington, rising from the supper-table at the famous ball,

  whispered to ask the Duke of Richmond if he had a good
  map. The Duke of Richmond said he had, and took
  Wellington into his dressing-room. Wellington shut the
  door and said, "Napoleon has humbugged me, by God;
  he has gained twenty-four hours' march on me.... I
  have ordered the army to concentrate at Quatre Bras;
  but we shall not stop him there, and if so I must fight
  him _there_" (passing his thumb-nail over the position of
  Waterloo). The conversation was repeated to me by the
  Duke of Richmond two minutes after it occurred.

Facts, however, are stronger evidence than words; and this confession
on Wellington's part is inconsistent with the circumstance that he had
not hurried to retrieve the time he is represented as having owned that
Napoleon had gained on him--that he had, on the contrary, allowed his
adversary to gain several hours more. Wellington's combination of
caution and decision throughout this momentous period is a very
interesting study. It was not until 3 P.M. (of the 15th) that there
reached him tidings almost simultaneously of firing between the
outposts about Thuin and that Ziethen had been attacked before
Charleroi, the two places ten miles apart and both occurrences in the
early morning. Those affairs might have been casual outpost skirmishes;
and the Duke, in anticipation of further information, took no measures
for some hours. At length, in default of later tidings he determined on
the precautionary step of assembling his divisions at their respective
rendezvous points in readiness to march; further specifically directing
a concentration of 25,000 men at Nivelles on his then left flank, when
it should have been ascertained for certain that the enemy's line of
attack was by Charleroi. These orders were sent out early in the
evening--"between 5 and 7." Later in the evening came a letter from
Blücher announcing the concentration of the Prussian army to occupy the
Ligny fighting position, in which disposition Wellington acquiesced;
but, still uncertain of Napoleon's true line of attack--his conviction
being, as is well known, that Napoleon should have moved on the British
right--he would not definitely fix the point of ultimate concentration
of his army until he should receive intelligence from Mons. But
Blücher's tidings caused him to issue about 10 P.M. a second set of
orders, commanding a general movement of the army, not as yet to any
specific point of concentration but in prescribed directions towards
its left (eastward). At length, when the news came from Mons that he
need have no further serious solicitude about his right since the whole
French army was advancing by Charleroi, he saw his way clear. Towards
midnight, writes Müffling the Prussian Commissioner at his
headquarters, Wellington informed him of the tidings from Mons, and
added: "The orders for the concentration of my army at Nivelles and
Quatre Bras are already despatched. Let us, therefore, go to the ball."

There are three definite evidences that before midnight of the 15th
Wellington had resolved to concentrate about Quatre Bras, and had
issued final orders accordingly--his statement to the Duke of Richmond,
his statement to Müffling, and his statement in his official report to
Lord Bathurst. Yet Mr. Ropes believes that his decision to that effect
"could not have been arrived at very long before he left Brussels" on
the morning of the 16th, which he did "probably about half-past seven."
He founds this belief on two orders dated "16th June" sent to Lord Hill
in the early morning of that day, in which there is no allusion to a
concentration at Quatre Bras. But those were merely supplementary
instructions as to points of detail; for example, one of them enjoined
that a division ordered earlier to Enghien should move instead by way
of Braine le Comte, that being a nearer route toward the final general
destination of Quatre Bras specified in the earlier (the "towards
midnight") orders. The latter orders are not extant, having been lost
according to Gurwood, with De Lancey's papers when he fell at Waterloo;
but that they must have been issued is proved by the fact that they
were acted upon by the troops; and that they were issued before
midnight of the 15th is made clear by Wellington's three specific
statements to that effect.

When the Duke left Brussels for the front on the morning of the 16th he
took with him a singularly optimistic paper styled "Disposition of the
British Army at 7 A.M., 16th June," which was "written out for the
information of the Commander of the Forces by Colonel Sir W. de
Lancey," his Quartermaster-General. In the nature of things for the
most part guess-work, the wish as regarded almost every particular set
out in this document was father to the thought. Wellington was no doubt
reasonably justified in accepting and relying on this flattering
"Disposition;" but its terms, as Mr. Ropes conclusively shows, simply
misled him and caused him also unconsciously to mislead Blücher, both
by the expressions of the letter written by him to that chief on his
arrival at Quatre Bras and later when he met the Prussian commander at
the mill of Brye. Wellington was indeed trebly fortunate in finding the
Quatre Bras position still available to him--fortunate that Ney on the
previous evening had defaulted from his orders in refraining from
occupying it; fortunate that Ney still on this morning was remaining
passive; and more fortunate still that it had been occupied, defended,
and reinforced by Dutch-Belgian troops not only without orders from him
but in bold and happy violation of his orders. Perponcher's division
was scarcely a potent representative of the Anglo-Dutch army, but there
was nothing more at hand; and pending the coming up of reinforcements
Wellington, with rather a sanguine reliance on Ney's maintenance of
inactivity, rode over to Brye and had a conversation with Blücher.
There are contradictory accounts of its tenor, and Gneisenau certainly
seems to have formed the impression that the Duke gave a positive
pledge of support. Mr. Ropes considers that, misled by the erroneous
"Disposition," Wellington honestly believed he would be able to
co-operate with Blücher, and that he "certainly did give that commander
some assurance of support by the Anglo-Dutch army in the impending
battle." Müffling, who was present, states that the Duke's last words
were: "Well, I will come, provided I am not attacked myself;" and this
probably was the final undertaking. Wellington's words were in
accordance with the caution of his character; and it is certain that
Blücher had decided to fight at Ligny whether assured or not of his
brother-commander's support. That Wellington regarded Blücher's
dispositions for battle as objectionable is proved by his blunt comment
to Hardinge--"If they fight here they will be damnably licked!"

It would have been possible for Napoleon to have crushed the Prussian
army in the early hours of the 16th when it was in the throes of
formation for battle; and this he would probably have done if Ney had
occupied Quatre Bras on the previous evening. But in Ney's default of
accomplishing this Napoleon, in his solicitude that Wellington should
be hindered from supporting Blücher, determined to delay his own stroke
against the latter until Ney should be in possession of Quatre Bras
with the left wing, where, in Soult's words, "he ought to be able to
destroy any force of the enemy that might present itself," and then
come to the support of the Emperor by getting on the Prussian rear
behind St. Amand. Napoleon's instructions were explicit that Ney was to
march on Quatre Bras, take position there, and then send an infantry
division and Kellerman's cavalry to points eastward, whence the Emperor
might summon them to participate in his own operations. If Ney had
fulfilled his orders by utilising the whole force at his disposal, in
all human probability he would have defeated Wellington at Quatre Bras,
whose troops, arriving in detail, would have been crushed by greatly
superior numbers as they came up. As it was, although at the beginning
of the battle he was in superior strength, Ney never utilised more than
22,000 men; whereas by its close Wellington had 31,000, and, thanks to
the stanchness of the British infantry, was the victor in a very
hard-fought contest. But Mr. Ropes has reason in holding it humanly
certain that he would have been beaten--in which case the battle of
Waterloo would never have been fought--had not D'Erlon's corps of Ney's
command while marching towards Quatre Bras, been turned aside in the
direction of the Prussian right.

In the justifiable belief that Ney was duly carrying out his orders
Napoleon at half-past one opened the battle of Ligny. He had expected
to have to deal with but a single Prussian corps, but the actual fact
was that, while he had 74,000 men on the field, Blücher had 87,000 with
a superior strength of artillery. The fighting was long and severe.
From the first, recognising the defects of his adversary's position,
Napoleon was satisfied that he could defeat the Prussian army. But he
needed to do more--to crush, to rout it, so that he need give himself
no further concern regarding it. This he saw his way to accomplish if
Ney were to strike in presently on the Prussian right; and so, with
intent to stir that chief to vigorous enterprise, the message was sent
him that "the fate of France was in his hands." The battle proceeded,
Blücher throwing in his reserves freely, Napoleon chary of his and
playing the waiting game pending Ney's expected co-operation. About
half-past five he was preparing to put in the Guard and strike the
decisive blow, when information reached him from his right that a
column, presumably hostile, was visible some two miles distant marching
toward Fleurus. Napoleon sent an aide to ascertain the facts and until
his return postponed the decisive moment. Two hours later the
information was brought back that the approaching column was D'Erlon's
from Ney's wing. This intelligence dispelled all anxiety. Strangely
enough, no instructions were sent to the approaching reinforcement, and
the suspended stroke was promptly dealt. The Prussians, after desperate
fighting, were everywhere driven back. Napoleon with part of the
Imperial Guard broke Blücher's centre, and the French army deployed on
the heights beyond the stream. In a word, Napoleon had defeated the
Prussians, but had neither crushed nor routed them. There was no
pursuit.

D'Erlon's corps on this afternoon had achieved the doubly sinister
distinction of having prevented Ney from gaining a probable victory at
Quatre Bras, and of detracting from the thoroughness of Napoleon's
actual victory at Ligny. While it was leisurely marching towards
Frasnes in support of Ney, it was diverted eastward towards the
Prussian right flank in consequence of an order given (whether
authorised or not is uncertain) by an aide-de-camp of the Emperor. It
was about to deploy for action, when, on receiving from Ney a
peremptory order to rejoin his command; and in absence of a command
from Napoleon to strike the Prussian flank, it went about and tramped
back towards Frasnes. D'Erlon's promenade was as futile as the famous
march of the King of France up the hill and then down again.

Mr. Ropes considers that on the morning of the 17th Napoleon had thus
far in the main fulfilled his programme. This view may be questioned.
He had merely defeated two of the four Prussian corps; he had not
wrecked Blücher. He had failed to occupy Quatre Bras; the Anglo-Dutch
army had succeeded in effecting a partial concentration and in
repulsing his left wing there. Still it must be admitted that with two
corps absolutely intact and with no serious losses in the Guard and
cavalry, Napoleon was in good shape for carrying out his plan. If Ney
had sent him word overnight that Wellington's army was bivouacking
about Quatre Bras in ignorance, as it turned out, of the result of
Ligny, he might have attacked it to good purpose in conjunction with
Ney in the early morning of the 17th. But Ney was silent and sulky;
Napoleon himself was greatly fatigued, and Soult was of no service to
him.

During the night the Prussians "had folded their tents like the Arabs,
and as silently stolen away." They had neither been watched nor
followed up, all touch of them had been lost, and there was nothing to
indicate their line of retreat. This slovenliness on the part of the
French would not have occurred in Napoleon's earlier days; nor in those
days of greater vigour would he have delayed until after midday of the
17th to follow up an army which he had defeated on the previous
evening, and which had disappeared from before him in the course of the
night. The reports which had been sent in from a cavalry reconnaissance
despatched in the morning indicated that the Prussians were retiring on
Namur. No reconnaissance had been made in the direction of Tilly and
Wavre. This was a strange error, since Blücher had two corps still
untouched, and as above everything a fighting man, was not likely to
throw up his hands and forsake his ally after one partial discomfiture.
Napoleon tardily determined to despatch Grouchy on the errand of
following up the Prussians with a force consisting of about 33,000 men
with ninety-six guns. Thus far all authorities are agreed; but as
regards the character of the orders given to Grouchy for his guidance
in an obviously somewhat complicated enterprise, there is an
extraordinary contrariety of evidence. It is stated in the _St. Helena
Memoirs_ that Grouchy received positive orders to keep himself always
between the main French army and Blücher; to maintain constant
communication with the former and in a position easily to rejoin it;
that since it was possible that Blücher might retreat on Wavre, he
(Grouchy) was to be there simultaneously; if the Prussians should
continue their march on Brussels and should pass the night in the
forest of Soignies, he was to follow to the edge of the forest; should
they retire on the Meuse, he was to watch them with part of his cavalry
and himself occupy Wavre with the mass of his force, where he should be
in position for easy communication with Napoleon's headquarters. Those
orders are certainly specific enough, but there is no record of them;
and they may be assumed to represent rather what Napoleon at St. Helena
considered Grouchy should have done, than what he was actually ordered
to do.

Grouchy's version, again--and it is adequately corroborated--is to the
effect that about midday of the 17th on the field of Ligny, the Emperor
gave him the verbal order to take the 3rd and 4th Corps and certain
cavalry and "go in pursuit of the Prussians." Grouchy raised sundry
objections which the Emperor overruled and repeated his commands,
adding that "it was for me (Grouchy) to discover the route taken by
Blücher; that he himself was going to fight the English, and that it
was for me to complete the defeat of the Prussians by attacking them as
soon as I should have caught up with them." So much for Grouchy for the
moment.

Soon after the Emperor had given Grouchy this verbal order, tidings
came in from a scouting party that a body of Prussian troops had been
seen about 9 A.M. at Gembloux, considerably northward of the Namur
road. The abstract probability no doubt was that the Prussians would
retire towards their base. But that Napoleon kept an open mind on the
subject is evidenced by his instruction to Grouchy to "go and discover
the route taken by Blücher," and this later intelligence, it may be
assumed, opened his mind yet further. He thought it well, then, to send
to Grouchy a supplementary written order which in the temporary absence
of Marshal Soult he dictated to General Bertrand. This order enjoined
on Grouchy to proceed with his force to Gembloux; to explore in the
directions of Namur and Maestricht; to pursue the enemy; explore his
march; and report upon his manoeuvres, so that "I (Napoleon) may be
able to penetrate what the enemy is intending to do; whether he is
separating himself from the English, or whether they are intending
still to unite in trying the fate of another battle to cover Brussels
or Liège." To me I confess--and the view is also that of Chesney and
Maurice--this written order is simply an amplification in detail of the
previous verbal order, which by instructing Grouchy "to discover the
route taken by Blücher" clearly evinced doubt in Napoleon's mind as to
the Prussian line of retreat. Mr. Ropes, on the other hand, bases an
indictment on Grouchy's conduct on the argument that not only was the
tone of the written order altogether different from that of the verbal
order, but that the duty assigned to Grouchy by the former was wholly
different from that specified in the latter.

He adds that Grouchy constantly and persistently denied having received
any other than the verbal order, that in this denial Grouchy lied, and
that "the mischievous influence of this deliberate concealment of his
orders by Grouchy caused for nearly thirty years after the battle of
Waterloo to be prevalent a wholly false notion as to the task assigned
by Napoleon to the Marshal." Certainly Grouchy's conduct is
inexplicable to any one holding the belief, as I do, that there is
nothing in the written order to account for Grouchy's denial of having
received it. It is more inexplicable than Mr. Ropes appears to be aware
of. It is true, as Mr. Ropes proves, that Grouchy vehemently denied
receiving the written order in all his works printed from 1818 to 1829.
But he had actually acknowledged its receipt almost immediately after
Waterloo. In his son's little book, _Le Maréchal de Grouchy du 16me au
19me Juin, 1815,_ is printed among the _Documents Historiques Inédits_
a paper styled "Allocution du Maréchal Grouchy à quelques-uns des
officiers généraux sous les ordres, lorsqu'il eût appris les désastres
de Waterloo." From this document I make the following extract: "A few
hours later the Emperor modified his first order, and caused to be
written to me by the Grand Marshal Bertrand the order to betake myself
to Gembloux, and to send reconnaissances towards Namur. 'It is
important,' continued the order, 'to discover the intentions of the
Prussians--whether they are separating from the English, or have the
design to take the chance of a new battle.'" It is strange that this
acknowledgment should never have been cited against Grouchy; stranger
still that in the face of it he should have maintained his denials; yet
more strange that those denials were never exposed; and most strange of
all, that finally the "written order" should have appeared for the
first time in a casual article published in 1842, without evoking any
explanation from Grouchy, or any strictures on his persistent mendacity.

It may be questioned whether the force of 33,000 men entrusted to
Grouchy was not either too large or too small. The main French army, in
the possible contingencies before it, could not safely spare so large a
detachment, as events showed. Grouchy's command was not sufficiently
strong to oppose the whole Prussian army; two corps of which could
certainly have "held" it, while the other two were free to support
Wellington. Mr. Ropes thinks it might have been diminished by one-half,
but then a single Prussian corps could have dealt with it. It is
difficult to discern in what respect the 6000 cavalry assigned to
Grouchy should have been inadequate to such service as could reasonably
have been expected of his whole command.

The British force about Quatre Bras on the morning of the 17th amounted
to about 45,000 men. Early on that morning Wellington was in
conversation with the Captain Bowles previously mentioned, when an
officer galloped up and, to quote Captain Bowles,

  whispered to the Duke, who then turned to me and said,
  "Old Blücher has had a d----d good licking and has gone
  back to Wavre. As he has gone back, we must go too. I
  suppose in England they will say we have been licked--I
  can't help that."

He quietly withdrew his troops from their positions, an operation which
Ney, with 40,000 men at his disposal, did not attempt to molest,
notwithstanding repeated orders from Napoleon to move on Quatre Bras.
Early in the afternoon Napoleon reached that vicinity with the Guard,
6th Corps, and Milhaud's Cuirassiers, picked up Ney's command, and
mounting his horse led the French army, following up Wellington's
retreat. His energy and activity throughout the march is described as
intense. Those characteristics he continued to evince during the
following night and in the morning of the eventful 18th. In the dead of
night he spent two hours on the picquet line, and about seven he was
out again on the foreposts in the mud and rain. His anxiety was not as
to the issue of a battle with Wellington, but lest Wellington should
not stand and fight. That apprehension was dispelled when, as he rode
along his front about 8 A.M., he saw the Anglo-Dutch army taking up its
ground. He was aware that at least one "pretty strong Prussian
column"--which actually consisted of the two corps beaten at Ligny--had
retired on Wavre. But notwithstanding the disquieting vagueness and
ineptitude of Grouchy's letter of 10 P.M. of the 17th from Gembloux,
and that up to the morning of the battle he had sent no suggestions or
instructions to that officer, he yet trusted implicitly to him to fend
off the Prussians; and it did not seem to occur to him that
Wellington's calm expectant attitude indicated his assurance of
Blücher's cooperation.

In one of the cavalry charges toward the close of the battle of Ligny,
Blücher had been overthrown, ridden over, almost taken prisoner, and
severely bruised; but the gallant old hussar was almost himself again
next morning, thanks to copious doses of gin and rhubarb, for the
effluvium of which restorative he apologised to Hardinge as he embraced
that wounded officer, in the extremely plain expression, "_Ich stinke
etwas_." Gneisenau, his Chief of Staff, rather distrusted Wellington's
good faith, and doubted whether it was not the safer policy for the
Prussian army to fall back toward Liège. But Blücher prevailed over his
lieutenants; and on the evening of the 17th all four Prussian corps in
a strength of about 90,000 men, were concentrated about Wavre, some
nine miles east of the Waterloo position, full of ardour and confident
of success. That same night Müffling informed Blücher by letter that
the Anglo-Dutch army had occupied the position named, wherein to fight
next day; and Blücher's loyal answer was that Bülow's corps at daybreak
should march by way of St. Lambert to strike the French right; that
Pirch's would follow in support; and that the other two would stand in
readiness. This communication, which reached Wellington at headquarters
at 2 A.M. of the 18th, has been held to have been the first actually
definite assurance of Prussian support. The story to the effect that on
the evening of the 17th the Duke rode over to Wavre to make sure from
Blücher's own mouth that he could rely on Prussian support next day, to
the truth of which not a little of vague testimony has been adduced,
may be now definitely disregarded. The evidence against the legend is
conclusive. An authoritative contradiction was given to it in an
article in the _Quarterly Review_ of 1842, from the pen of Lord Francis
Egerton, afterwards Lord Ellesmere, who confessedly wrote under the
inspiration of the Duke, and in this instance directly from a
memorandum drawn up by his Grace. Quite recently there have been found
and are now in the possession of the Rev. Frederick Gurney, the
grandson of the late Sir John Gurney, the notes of a "conversation with
the Duke of Wellington and Baron Gurney and Mr. Justice Williams,
Judges on Circuit, at Strath-fieldsaye House, on 24th February 1837."
The annotator was Baron Gurney, to the following effect:--"The
conversation had been commenced by my inquiring of him (the Duke)
whether a story which I had heard was true of his having ridden over to
Blücher on the night before the battle of Waterloo, and returned on the
same horse. He said--'No, that was not so. I did not see Blücher on the
day before Waterloo. I saw him the day before, on the day of Quatre
Bras. I saw him after Waterloo, and he kissed me. He embraced me on
horseback. I had communicated with him the day before Waterloo.'" The
rest of the conversation made no further reference to the topic of the
ride to Wavre.

It is not proposed to give here any account of the memorable battle,
the main incidents of which are familiar to all. It was of course
Wellington's policy to take up a defensive attitude; both because of
the incapacity of his raw soldiers for manoeuvring, and since every
minute before Napoleon should begin the offensive was of value to the
English commander, as it diminished the length of punishment he would
have to endure single-handed. Further, he was numerically weaker than
his adversary, while his troops were at once of divers nationalities
and divers character; his main reliance was on his British troops and
those of the King's German Legion. Napoleon for his part deliberately
delayed to attack when celerity of action was all-important to him,
disregarding the obvious probability of Prussian assistance to
Wellington, and sanguinely expecting that Grouchy would either avert
that support or reach him in time to neutralise it. Mr. Ropes has
written an admirable criticism of the errors of the French in their
contest with the Anglo-Dutch army, for which Ney was for the most part
responsible, since from before 3 P.M. Napoleon was engrossed in
preparing his right flank for defence against the Prussians. The issue
of the great battle all men know. The badness of the roads retarded the
Prussians greatly, and, save in Bülow's corps, there was no doubt
considerable delay in starting; but the proverb that "All's well that
ends well" might have been coined with special application to the
battle of Waterloo.

It only remains briefly to refer to Mr. Ropes's elaborate _résumé_ of
the melancholy adventures of Grouchy, on whom he may be regarded as too
severe. Sent out too late on a species of roving commission, more was
expected from him by Napoleon than could have been accomplished by any
but a leader of the highest order, whereas Grouchy had never given
evidence of being more than respectable. He received from his master
neither instructions nor information from the time he left the field of
Ligny until 4 P.M. of the 18th, nor until at Walhain he heard the
cannonade of Waterloo had he any knowledge of the whereabouts of the
French main army. On the morning of the 18th he was late in leaving
Gembloux, on not the most direct route towards Wavre; instead of moving
on which, when he heard the noise of the battle, he should no doubt
have marched straight for the Dyle bridges at Ottignies and Moustier.
Had he done so, spite of all delays he could have been across the Dyle
by 4 P.M. But when Mr. Ropes claims that thus Grouchy would have been
able to arrest the march toward the battlefield of the two leading
Prussian corps, one of which was four miles distant from him and the
other still farther away, he is too exacting. Had Grouchy made the vain
attempt, the two nearer Prussian corps would have taken him in flank
and headed him off, while Bülow and Ziethen pressed on to the
battlefield. If he had marched straight and swiftly on the
cannon-thunder of Waterloo, he might perhaps have been in time to
effect something in the nature of a diversion, although it is extremely
improbable that he could have materially changed the fortune of the
day; but instead, acting on the letter of Napoleon's instructions
despatched to him on the morning of the battle, he moved on Wavre and
engaged in a futile action with the Prussian 3rd Corps there. A shrewd
and enterprising man would have at least seen into the spirit of his
orders; Grouchy could not do this, and he is to be pitied rather than
blamed.


THE END





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