Camps, Quarters, and Casual Places by Archibald Forbes

Produced by Eric Eldred, Andy Schmitt and PG Distributed Proofreaders 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_,
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Produced by Eric Eldred, Andy Schmitt and PG Distributed Proofreaders




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.






















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 Saarbruecken; 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 Schoenecken 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’hote_ and where quaint little Max, the drollest imp of a waiter imaginable, and pretty Frauelein 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 Zuelow–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 Saarbruecken, including myself. Of the waifs and strays which the war had drifted down to the pretty frontier town the great rendezvous was the Hotel 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 Kuester, 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 _Braeutigam_ 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 Saarbruecken, 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 Saarbruecken 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. Kuester 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 chassepot 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 Kueche 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. Kuester, 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 Hundsoehne!” 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 Hotel Till in the village of Duttweiler. After all the French, although they might have done so, did not occupy Saarbruecken; and towards evening our friends came dropping into the Hotel Till, singly or in pairs. Kuester 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 Saarbruecken doctor had kindly received into his house.

On the 6th August came the Prussian repossession of Saarbruecken 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 Zuelow 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.”



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 _fetes._ 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-dau_, or High Court. This gate was called the _Yive-dau-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-dau_, or Hall of the Supreme Council, before entering the Palace itself. The _Hlwot-dau_ 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-dau_, 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-dau_ 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-mache; 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.


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 _Zuendnadelgewehr_; 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 Woerth, 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 Maizieres 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 fuer Soldaten_–the Soldier’s Prayer-Book. It is supplied from the Berlin depot 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 fuer Soldaten_. It opens in his hand, and he comes and sits down by Gretchen and reads in a voice that chokes sometimes, the


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 depot, and got his uniform and arms. The _Militaerzug_ 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


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


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 _Zuendnadelgewehr_ 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


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 Chateau 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


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


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


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 _Krankentraeger_ 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


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


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 fuer Soldaten_?



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 ghat. 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 _Vivandiere_, 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 _debris_ 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.


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.



* * * * *

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 Coruna to Sevastopol_. [Footnote: _From Coruna 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 Kadikoei, 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 Kadikoei 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 Kadikoei, 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 Kadikoei, 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 Kadikoei 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 Kadikoei 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 Kadikoei. 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 Kadikoei 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 Kadikoei 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


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