« PreviousContinue »
has ever been over about 250,000 men, an establishment it reached in 1858-259. As years go by, the advantages of peace become more appreciated by the people; internal wars cease, and the only outlets for the would-be soldier's ambition are to be found in our army, and in the forces maintained by the feudatory and independent native princes. More men, therefore, turn their attention every succeeding year to agricultural and other peaceable pursuits. As the public mind grows less warlike, the army required to secure internal peace and order can be gradually diminished. We have long since given up the policy of annexing more territory to our Eastern empire; but, before this new policy had been adopted, for each successive province we acquired, a military force in proportion to its population was required to maintain order in it. In many instances the annexation was forced upon us by the uncontrollable lawlessness of the people concerned, but in nearly all cases we found a more or less turbulent population accustomed to bloodshed and internecine warfare. Compelling the native rulers to disband their troops, we had to deal with these discharged soldiers for at least one generation afterward, and they constituted a dangerous element, requiring constant watching, and the presence of a strong detachment from our army to overawe. As long as we had to provide for contingencies of this nature, we required a considerable number of native regiments; but, now that all the territory we rule over has long been subject to the peace-inculcating principles of our Government, the maintenance of law and order can be secured by a police, with little or no backing-up from the moral support afforded by the presence of a military force. In former times, some of the independent states within the peninsula of Hindostan were allowed to have great organized forces, approaching the strength and importance of armies. They were more or less a standing menace to our authority, supplying the disaffected with a rallying-point to which they could look for the redress of supposed wrongs. In those days, also, the means of rapid communication were small; the roads were few and bad. Then, there was much less difference than now between the military efficiency of an army organized after an Asiatic fashion and one organized on European principles: in fact, the weapons of both were much the same, whereas, now that our Indian troops are armed with
breech-loading rifles, and that we only allow the small contingents which we permit some of the native princes to maintain to have muzzle-loading smooth-bore muskets, the superiority of our native troops over all others in India has been increased a hundred-fold. The numbers of troops kept up to add to the self-importance of the Indian chiefs and princes is still, however, imposing on paper, as it reaches a total of about 300,000 men. We endeavor to keep it down as much as possible, not only from motives of purely British policy, but also because we regard the maintenance of so many idle men as a heavy tax upon the people, since we have assumed to ourselves the duties of providing for the internal peace and external defense of the country.
The instinct of Easterns is to estimate the importance of a prince very much in a direct ratio to the number of armed retainers he has about him; and it is difficult, therefore, to induce an Indian rajah to dispense with his little army, when he believes that his rank and position in the country depend very much upon it. At present the only purely native forces worthy of any consideration in India are those kept up by Sindia and the Nizam: the former has the rank of general in our service, the latter is still a boy. Now that railways and good metaled roads pierce the country in all directions (we have now over 7,000 miles of railway open in India), and that steam flotillas exist upon all the navigable rivers, we can concentrate on any threatened point any required number of troops with a rapidity undreamed of at the beginning of this century. Our army is maintained in the highest condition of efficiency both as to equipment and discipline, and, owing to the large amount of carriage in the shape of elephants, camels, mules, and bullocks, kept up for its use, troops can be moved upon the shortest notice. These circumstances have enabled us to reduce the strength of our native army to its present moderate establishment of about 132,000 sabres and bayonets. This, of course, is in addition to a large force of armed police acting exclusively under the orders of the civil authorities.
To the eye accustomed only to the uniforms of European armies, the dress of our native troops, especially that of the cavalry, is striking and picturesque. The graceful turban is pleasant to look at, and the variety of color, especially in the clothing of the Bengal army, gives an artistic effect to an assemblage of Indian
soldiers to be seen upon no parade-ground in Western countries. The men carry no knapsacks of any description, which causes them to have an appearance of suppleness and freedom of movement that is so remarkably wanting to the overladen soldiers of all European armies. The lance is the favorite weapon of the Indian cavalry-soldier, although he can also make very deadly use of his tulwar (sword), which, kept in a wooden scabbard, has an edge so sharp that it cuts all it touches. "Tent-pegging" is a very favorite amusement of the sowar, and, to those who have never been in India, it is curious to see how proficient he is at it. I have no doubt that the inhabitants of Malta have already been amazed at the graceful ease with which he accomplishes the feat of picking up the peg on the end of his lance. A tent-peg, two feet long, is driven with a large, heavy mallet into the ground, about three inches of it only remaining visible. At this small object the lancer rides at full gallop, endeavoring as he passes to transfix it with his lance, and, if he succeeds, the pace at which he is going causes the lance to draw the peg from the ground. It is a very pretty sight to see the successful trooper twirl his lance in triumph round his head as he rides off with the large, heavy tentpeg still firmly fixed on its point.
Previous to 1857, we had a considerable force of native artillery, but since then, with the exception of a few mountain-batteries for work on the northwest frontier, the artillery force in India is exclusively composed of British soldiers. The native attaches far greater importance to the possession of guns in action than we do it is not so much on account of the loss he may hope to inflict thereby upon his enemy, as for the moral effect which the noise of artillery-fire has upon native troops; it seems to lend them increased confidence and courage, and, from having seen them, upon several occasions when our troops were advancing to attack them, fire blank cartridges before we had approached within the range of their guns, I presume they imagine it has a correspondingly depressing effect upon an enemy. Their belief in guns almost amounts to a superstition; and, knowing that, to protect ourselves against dangerous mutinies, we keep the artillery entirely in our own hands.
Since the invasion of Russia by Napoleon, we have been accustomed to hear a good deal of the Cossack troops, and of the
advantages possessed by an army well provided with them. We saw them in the Crimea, and all who know our Indian cavalry infinitely prefer the latter. They are far more intelligent, are better armed, and in every way better men, mounted on much better horses. Should we ever be engaged in any great European war, we could easily send 10,000 of them from India, which, added to the 6,000 British sabres we could put in the field, would form a very imposing cavalry force. The native infantry we could draw from India would be practically unlimited in number. No European troops are such good marchers, and all who have learned, from personal experience with them in action, to appreciate their fighting value, will agree with me in thinking that our recent discovery of how willing, nay anxious, our Indian army is to fight in this hemisphere, will enable England to reoccupy the military position she held in the estimation of the world at the beginning of this century.
G. I. WOLSELEY.
1.- Wilhelm Gesenius's Hebräisches und Chaldäisches Handwörterbuch über das Alte Testament. Achte Auflage, neu bearbeitet von F. MÜHLAU und H. VOLCK, ordentlichen Professoren der Theologie in Dorpat. Erste Hälfte. Leipsic: C. W. Vogel, 1877.
GESENIUS'S "Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon" made its first appearance three-quarters of a century ago, and it has till this day maintained its standing as the best manual of its kind in this branch of the Semitic languages. The author himself, who died in 1842, revised it three times, and left it, it is not too much to say, a masterwork of lexicography. The last complete revised edition is that of 1868, by Dietrich. The only Hebrew lexicographer who has ventured to vie with Gesenius in his field is Julius Fürst; but, though endowed with extensive philological knowledge and vast powers for work, he lacked the moderation, solidity, and soundness of the critical faculty, the stamp of which is seen on almost every page of Gesenius's numerous productions. Though deserving of credit for his additions to the stores of Old Testament lexicography, Fürst failed to supersede his master.
Yet, although holding its place, Gesenius's lexicon has been considerably changed in the editions produced after his death, and the reason is obvious. Semitic philology is a field on which very diligent research, with rich results, has been carried on in the last third of a century. Old Testament criticism has had new stores opened to it by unearthings on the cognate grounds of Egyptology and Assyriology. Theories and views change, and authorities supersede authorities. It is the task of every successive edition to place the work on the last level, to make it fresh "to date." The additions and modifications are, rightly or not, inserted in the old text, instead of being appended in notes; and it is only owing to the extraordinary merits of the original work, especially in parts less exposed to the influx of new discovery, that, as a whole, it still fully deserves to be called by the name of its author, even in the eighth edition, the