Page images
PDF
EPUB

chanics’ Institution of Marsden,- for Bright, too, must lecture, it is " the last infirmity,”—he finds food for praise in the pilferings of the penny newspapers, in the shut-up literature of Russia and the civilisation of her serfs, and in the filibustering forbearance of the United States! Under the plea of a friendly correspondence with Mr. Crawshay, of Gateshead, he goes out of his way to insult the Prime Minister, whom he-he, Mr. Bright-stigmatises as

an impostor,” to expose whom “does nothing;” and being taken to task for this language, tums round and querulously asks if his correspondent's note is intended to insult him? Mr. Bright's sensitiveness is the only singular part of this affair. What is to be thought of the meekness and modesty of this “teacher of nations” who writes as follows: "To expose the Minister is nothing, so long as the people are a prey to the delusions which he practises upon them. He is the proper ruler of a nation arrogant and intoxicated, and, so long as the present temper of the public is maintained, they have the Government they most deserve." ? " Arrogant and intoxicated !" Has Mr. Bright ever heard of the Pharisee and the Publican? For our own parts we hope that “ the present temper of the public” may long be maintained, having no desire to try the effect of a broad-brimmed Administration. Before we have done with Mr. Bright, whom we have most unwittingly approached, we must ask him another question: Has he yet read the eleventh chapter of Macaulay's History?" If not, let him turn to the twenty-fifth page and note the character there drawn of Jack Howe, the Member of Convention for Cirencester at the commencement of the reign of William and Mary. Here is a passage which we specially commend—veluti in speculum-to Mr. Bright's consideration.

Of what the literary world is “ about,” the key-note has been struck in mentioning the author of the preceding sentence.

All are talking of or writing on the recent instalment of fifteen hundred pages towards the payment of the large self-incurred debt by Mr. Macaulay. There are very few who wish he had made that instalment less by a single line, so graphic are his general pictures, so accurate his individual portraiture, so wide the scope of his argument, so comprehensive his grasp of subject; but, on the other hand, there are fewer still, if any, who can hope to be alive when Mr. Macaulay's task is ended. We must not, however, repine, but “ take the good the gods provide us," content to foresee the enjoyment of our remote posterity, for Mr. Macaulay is too much of a gentleman to die without fulfilling his promise.

Such implied longevity reminds us of one whom many will miss, less perhaps for cessation of intercourse than for the consciousness that the last link is broken of the chain which united the literature of the present century with that of the past. Samuel Rogers, the Nestor of poets, and something besides, has at last been gathered to his fathers. “Nec domus,"--what a pretty house was

his, nec placens"-no, he had no wife, his was a morganatic marriage with the Muse, neque harum arborum,"—there were some sweet-scented lilacs and golden laburnums in the garden, none of these things will be the bourne of privileged pilgrims now that their master, whom none could invoke as “ Te brevem dominum,” is no more. What heir will tinge the pavement with the rich Cæcuban wines from the cellar of Samuel Rogers, who had no wine so old as himself? What guest will now linger at the pleasant breakfast-table, to listen to “ the old man eloquent ?” What connoisseur will suspend the play of his knife and fork to gaze upon the well-lit pictures that surrounded the dining-room? Will Christie seize and sell what has long been so freely exhibited ? We might put a thousand such questions, all of them regrets for one, who, like the Cerberus of Mrs. Malaprop, was “three gentlemen at once," dear to Apollo, Cytherea, and Plutus," the Bard, the Beau, the Banker."

But the year which closed yesterday, bids us mourn over many of greater mark than Samuel Rogers. Within the last twelve months what a gap has been made in the memorable roll! The sagacious and indefatigable Truro—the earnest and philosophic Molesworth—the enterprising Parry—the warm-hearted and upright Inglis—the scientific De la Beche-the learned Gaisford the reforming Hume-the harmonious Bishop—the financial Herries—the diplomatic Adair-the poetical Strangford, also a diplomatist, with Ellis and Ponsonby, his fellow-labourers in the lastnamed category—the gifted Lockhart-Miss Ferrier, and Adam Ferguson, connected, too, with Walter Scott-Lord Robertson, the convivial judge-Lord Rutherford, his acute compeer-Miss Mitford, and strong-hearted Currer Bell-Colburn, the godfather to half the novels of the last half-century-Sibthorp, the eccentric

-the travelled Buckingham-Park, the sculptor-Gurney, the short-hand writer-0. Smith, the preternatural—the centenarian Routh-Black, of the Morning Chroniclethe life-preserving Captain Manby–Archdeacon Hare-Jessie Lewers, the friend of Burns—the injured Baron de Bode--and a long file besides of titled names, and names distinguished in all the pursuits of life. The War, of course, came in for the lion's share, in sweeping among those already illustrious; or, had Fate permitted, those who would have been so: the gentle-hearted, courteous Raglan, the mirror of modern chivalry—the intrepid Torrens—the amiable Estcourt—the untiring Markham--the brave Adams—the gallant Campbell—the honest Boxer, and the unfortunate Christie, are amongst the most prominent of the heroes whom the bullet or the Crimean fever have forcibly taken from us. Death, too, has been busy with great people, in the ranks of our allies, in the field, on the wave, in the cabinet, in the private home: Harispé-Bruat Mackau-Della Marmora, who fought so well; the painter Isa

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

bey—the statesman Molé-the poet Micziewitz—the widow of Lavalette—the wife of Emile de Girardin-the brother of Victor Hugo-Count Bruhl, the antagonist of Philidor, the King of Chess-Khosrew Pasha, that true type of the old Osmanli— the chivalrous Duke of Genoa—and Adelaide of Sardinia, the earlylost wife of our noble Piedmontese ally.

But we are not writing a necrology. Sufficient for us be the day, with some aspirations for the future !

Great men were living before Agamemnon

And since, exceeding valorous and sage. We have many great people still distinguishing themselves, almost as much as the valorous Argive, though not, perhaps, altogether in the same line. To do unto others as you would not be done to appears to be a rule of conduct rather too generally followed. If not, why should the effigies of the three peccant Bankers be enshrined at Madame Tussaud's ? Why should à Judge's “ fancy" play, like lightning, round a bevy of innocent people? Why should the Guards monopolise the game of " heads I win, tails you lose ?” Why should Alice Gray be a heroine ? Why should poisoning be the rule of domestic intercourse and not the exception? Why should we, all of us, be doing the identical things against which we are as earnestly warned as Eve was before she ate the apple ?

Some good things, however, we are about. We are striving, all of us, to do honour to the foremost woman of her time-to Florence Nightingale — whose acts have shed an imperishable lustre on her name. We are gradually putting our great metropolitan house in order, although, to effect that object in the best way, we have not elected John Arthur Roebuck our Chairmanso hard it is to induce people, the best-intentioned, to go the proper way to work and put the right man in the right place. At last we are building gun-boats of light draught, and plenty of them, and all that remains is to hope that no Austrian interference may prevent them from fulfilling their mission beneath the walls of Cronstadt, creating another “ heap of blood-stained ruins,” and thoroughly humiliatingthe right word to use, pace Lord John Russell - humiliating to the Czar of Muscovy. In the East the gallant Codrington—the worthy son of a worthy sire—is steadily effecting the most beneficial changes in the condition of the large army entrusted to his care: the moral no less than the physical wants of his men claiming his constant care. With discipline firmly established, with mental activity heightened and bodily strength restored, the prospects of the next campaign offer everything that is hopeful, nor have we any fear of the result.

There is another campaign, also, in which we look for laurels bright as any we yet have worn. Our readers are interested in this question, for the battle-field is Bentley's Miscellany for this year, and with the present number we fire the first shot.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

5

PRESENT ASPECT OF AFFAIRS IN RELATION TO

THE WAR.

COLONEL ST. ANGE argues in the Journal des Débats that it would have been nothing short of madness on the part of the Allies to attack the forts north of Sebastopol, either by the mouth of the Balbek or by escalading the heights in front of Mackenzie's Farm. Efforts, according to the French apologist of existing tactics, were made to turn the position. Strong reconnoissances were pushed on from Baidar to try the possibility of turning the Mackenzie lines by the upper valley of the Balbek, but it was soon seen that in advancing by this route the army would have had to carry a series of strong positions (the nature and character of which, including as they do Mangup-Kaleh and Tcherkess Kirman, we have previously described), one behind the other; and in order to turn the second line it would have been necessary to penetrate into the mountains as far as the sources of the Katcha, an eccentric and difficult movement, and of doubtful success.

If, then, according to the admission of the military apologist of Marshal Pelissier's strategy, it was equally dangerous and difficult to attack the Russian position in front or to attempt to turn it, the Russian boast, that their position was as good after the fall of Sebastopol as before, proves to be sound. The Allies, even after the fall of Sebastopol, are still placed in a cul de sac, from which there is no emancipation save by sea. They are fairly hemmed in and beleaguered in the Heracleontic Chersonesus, without even the power to avail themselves navally of the harbour of Sebastopol. Those who are fighting on the defensive will always have the choice of position. It is difficult to imagine that the Russians could not have been driven from their strong position on the Mackenzie heights just as they were at Alma. Wherever they are to be combated they will select an entrenched position of natural strength in which to resist the assault. Their present position will be just as formidable in spring as it was this autumn; while the army is likely to lose more men by exposure, privations, and sickness during a long winter's bivouac than in one battle, however severe.

If it was impossible to attack the Russian position or to turn it, it will naturally be asked, why not leave the place altogether and land at Eupatoria, Kertch, or any other available point, and recommence a campaign upon different principles ?. The answer to that question involves the gist of Marshal Pelissier's strategy? It was impossible to move away all the impedimenta of a long siege in time. The true reason, we are told by the French apologist, of the marshal's resolve not to force his way by the Balbek or Katcha, was not so much the strength of the

[ocr errors]

enemy's works, but the danger of extending or dividing the army in any such operations, during which the Russian general might have crossed the valley of the Tchernaya, cutting through the allied centre, and exposing that portion of the force which still kept the heights above Sebastopol to an unequal contest. Marshal Pelissier declined to move, in short, until he could do so with his whole army-that is, till the plateau of the Chersonese was cleared of its artillery and stores, till Kamiesch was fortified, and the captured town itself left in such a state as to afford no advantage by its reoccupation. Sir George Brown predicted that the capture of Sebastopol would set 90,000 allied soldiers free. It has kept upwards of 100,000 encumbered and beleaguered around it, and we cannot for the life of us see how their position will be improved next spring. Whether by that time they will be sufficiently clear of encumbrances to march into the interior and turn the Russian position, remains to be seen. Meantime, the allied army is, as it has been justly expressed, crystallised in the Crimea. The number of those bearing great names, not to mention hecatombs of unknown, who have already perished there, have made of the place a terrible, but lasting reputation. Between sickness and the progress of an obscure and unsatisfactory kind of warfare -of a description such as has never before existed-men who have earned proud names in the Peninsula, in the Punjaub, at the Cape, or in Canada, have gone there to die or be slain, without the possibility of doing anything worthy of themselves or of the renown they carried with them. Personal genius and personal qualities have alike found an inglorious tomb in the Heracleontic Cher

Our own solid infantry, our heavy cavalry, our perfect artillery, the dashing Zouave, the scientific French engineer, the active Piedmontese, the trained bands of Egypt, and the rough Turkish troops, have furnished a variety of instruments rarely to be obtained in modern armies. We have ourselves added to the variety by the formation of German and Swiss legions and a Turkish contingent. There are also army-work corps, transport corps, "navvies,” and every conceivable supplementary service by land or by sea. Yet, with all these auxiliaries, it has been found impossible to harass the main body of the enemy, to capture Kaffa or Arabat, to succour Kars, or even interrupt the communication between Perekop or Chongar and the Russian camp!

Nothing in the history of the war is more annoying than the jealousy said to exisť between the Queen's officers and the gallant and experienced officers trained in India and those in command of irregular troops. To this jealousy is attributed the fact of Beatson's " Ottoman Irregular Horse,” which have cost some 250,0001., being sent away to Schumla-in fact, virtually disbanded. To the same jealousy is attributed the strange conduct pursued towards General Vivian and his Turkish Contingent, bandied about from one place to another, and at last tolerated, rather

sonesus.

« PreviousContinue »