Puslapio vaizdai

lie beneath its revolting features. Carnage is terrible. The conversion of producers into destroyers is a calamity. Death, and insults to woman worse than death-and human features obliterated beneath the hoof of the war-horseand reeking hospitals, and ruined commerce, and violated homes, and broken hearts-they are all awful. But there is something worse than death. Cowardice is worse. And the decay of enthusiasm and manliness is worse. And it is worse than death, aye, worse than a hundred thousand deaths, when a people has gravitated down into the creed that the "wealth of nations" consists, not in generous hearts-" Fire in each breast, and freedom on each brow"-in national virtues, and primitive simplicity, and heroic endurance, and preference of duty to life;-not in MEN, but in silk, and cotton, and something that they call "capital." Peace is blessed. Peace, arising out of charity. But peace, springing out of the calculations of selfishness, is not blessed. If the price to be paid for peace is this, that wealth accumulate and men decay, better far that every street in every town of our once noble country should run blood!

Through the physical horrors of warfare, Poetry discerned the redeeming nobleness. For in truth, when war is not prolonged, the kindling of all

the higher passions prevents the access of the baser ones. A nation split and severed by mean religious and political dissensions, suddenly feels its unity, and men's hearts beat together, at the mere possibility of invasion. And even woman, as the author of the "History of the Peninsular War" has well remarked, sufferer as she is by war, yet gains; in the more chivalrous respect paid to her, in the elevation of the feelings excited towards her, in the attitude of protection assumed by men, and in the high calls to duty which arouse her from the frivolousness and feebleness into which her existence is apt to sink.

I will illustrate this by one more anecdote from the same campaign to which allusion has been already made — Sir Charles Napier's campaign against the robber tribes of Upper Scinde.

A detachment of troops was marching along a valley, the cliffs overhanging which were crested by the enemy. A sergeant, with eleven men, chanced to become separated from the rest by taking the wrong side of a ravine, which they expected soon to terminate, but which suddenly deepened into an impassable chasm. The officer in command signalled to the party an order to return. They mistook the signal for a command to charge; the brave fellows answered with a cheer, and charged. At the summit of the steep

mountain was a triangular platform, defended by a breastwork, behind which were seventy of the foe. On they went, charging up one of those fearful paths, eleven against seventy. The contest could not long be doubtful with such odds. One after another they fell; six upon the spot, the remainder hurled backwards; but not until they had slain nearly twice their own number.

There is a custom, we are told, amongst the hillsmen, that when a great chieftain of their own falls in battle, his wrist is bound with a thread either of red or green, the red denoting the highest rank. According to custom, they stripped the dead, and threw their bodies over the precipice. When their comrades came, they found their corpses stark and gashed; but round both wrists of every British hero was twined the red thread!


I think you will perceive how Poetry, expressing in this rude symbolism unutterable admiration of heroic daring, had given another aspect to war than that of butchery; and you will understand how, with such a foe, and such a general as the English commander, who more than once refused battle because the wives and children of the enemy were in the hostile camp, and he feared for their lives, carnage changed its character, and

*"History of the Administration of Scinde," by Lieut. Gen. Sir William Napier.

became chivalry; and how it was that the British troops learned to treat their captive women with respect; and the chieftains of the Cutchee hills offered their swords and services with enthusiasm to their conqueror; and the wild hill-tribes, transplanted to the plains, became as persevering in agriculture as they had been before in war.

And now to conclude. They tell us that scenes such as this may be called for in this our England. I do not pretend to judge. We only know that a military nation is at our doors with 450,000 gallant soldiers under arms, every man burning to wipe out the memory of past defeats, with one at their head the prestige of whose name recalls an era of unparalleled brilliancy, many of them trained in a school of warfare where the razzias of Africa have not taught either scrupulosity or mercifulness. We know that a chieftain who is to rule France with any hope of imperial influence, can best secure enthusiasm by giving victory to her armies; and that French generals have already specified the way in which-I quote the words of Paixham-a lesson might be taught to England which she should not soon forget.

No one who loves his country,-no one who knows what is meant by the sack of a town, especially by French soldiers,-can contemplate the

possibility of such an event, without a fervent hope that that day may never come. Nor does it become us to boast; the enthusiasm of the platform is easy, and costs little; and we may be called upon, before very long, to show by something more than words, whether there be steel in our hearts and hands, or not.

But thus much I will dare to say. If a foreign foot be planted on our sacred soil-if the ring of the rifle of the Chasseurs de Vincennes be heard upon these shores, terrible as the first reverses might be, when discipline could be met only by raw enthusiasm-thanks to gentlemen who have taught us the sublime mysteries of "capital” in lieu of the old English superstitions of Honour and Religion-they may yet chance to learn that British Chivalry did not breathe her last at Moodkee or Ferozeshah, or Sobraon, or Goojerat, or Meeanee, or Hyderabad. They may yet be taught that there is something beyond the raw hysterics of a transient excitement in the spirit of self-sacrifice which we have learned from our Master's cross. They may yet discover that amongst the artisans, and peasants, and working men of England, there are a thousand thousand worthy to be brothers of those heroic eleven who sleep beneath the rocks of Trukkee, with the red thread of Honour round their wrists.

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