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Camps, Quarters, and Casual Places by Archibald Forbes

Part 3 out of 5

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Elchies billiard-room; but I fear the collection is sadly diminished, for
Henry Grant was the freest-handed of men and towards the end of his life
anybody who chose was welcome to help himself from the contents of the
drawers. Yet no doubt some relics of this fine collection must still
remain; and I hope for his own sake that Mr. Justice A.L. Smith the
present tenant of Elchies, is free of poor Henry's cabinet.

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

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

The other veteran of our river of whom I would say something was that most
worthy man and fine salmon fisher Mr. Charles Grant, the ex-schoolmaster
of Aberlour, better known among us who loved and honoured the fine old
Highland gentleman as "Charlie" Grant. Charlie no longer lives; but to the
last he was hale, relished his modest dram, and delighted in his quiet yet
graphic manner to tell of men and things of Speyside familiar to him
during his long life by the riverside. Charles Grant was the first person
who ever rented salmon water on Spey. It was about 1838 that he took a
lease from the Fife trustees of the fishing on the right bank from the
burn of Aberlour to the burn of Carron, about four miles of as good water
as there is in all the run of Spey. This water would to-day be cheaply
rented at L250 per annum; the annual rent paid by Charles Grant was two
guineas. A few years later a lease was granted by the Fife trustees of the
period of the grouse shootings of Benrinnes, the wide moorlands of the
parishes of Glass, Mortlach, and Aberlour, including Glenmarkie the best
moor in the county, at a rent of L100 a year with four miles of salmon
water on Spey thrown in. The letting value of these moors and of this
water is to-day certainly not less than L1500 a year.

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

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

The rushing thunder of the Spey,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eighteen days after the victory of Koeniggraetz the Prussian hosts were in
line on the historic Marchfeld whence the spires of Vienna could be dimly
seen through the heat-haze. The soldiers were eager for the storm of the
famous lines of Florisdorf and King Wilhelm was keen to enter the Austrian
capital. But now the practical wisdom of Bismarck stepped in and his
arguments for moderation prevailed. The peace which ended the Seven Weeks'
War revolutionised the face of Germany. Austria accepted her utter exile
from Germany, recognised the dissolution of the old Bund, and consented to
non-participation in the new North German Confederation of which Prussia
was to have the unquestioned military and diplomatic leadership. Prussia
annexed Hanover, Electoral Hesse, Nassau, Sleswig and Holstein,
Frankfort-on-Main, and portions of Hesse-Darmstadt and Bavaria. Her
territorial acquisitions amounted to over 6500 square miles with a
population exceeding 4,000,000, and the states with which she had been in
conflict paid as war indemnity sums reaching nearly to L10,000,000
sterling. In a material sense, it had not been a bad seven weeks for
Prussia; in a sense other than material, she had profited incalculably
more. She was now, in fact as in name, one of the "Great Powers" of
Europe. The nation realised at length what manner of man this Bismarck was
and what it owed to him. When the inner history of the period comes to be
written, it will be recognised that at no time of his extraordinary career
did Bismarck prove himself a greater statesman than during the five days
of armistice in July 1866, when he fought his diplomatic Koeniggraetz in the
Castle of Nikolsburg and assuaged the wounds of the Austrian defeat by
terms the moderation of which went far to obliterate the memory of the
rancour of the recent strife.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

"_Saturday_.--Bargaining and drink.

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

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

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

The size of some of the Highland sheep farms is to be reckoned by miles
not by acres; and the stock, as in Australia, by the thousand. The largest
sheep-owner, perhaps, that the Highlands ever knew was Cameron of
Corrichollie, now dead. He was once examined before a Committee of the
House of Commons, and came to be questioned on the subject of his
ownership of sheep. "You may have some 1500 sheep, probably, sir?" quoth
the interrogating M.P. "Aiblins," was Corrichollie's quiet reply as he
took a pinch of snuff; "aiblins I have a few more nor that." "Two
thousand, then?" "Yes, I pelieve I have that and a few more forpye,"
calmly responded the Highlander with another pinch. "Five thousand?" "Oh,
ay, and a few more." "Twenty thousand, sir?" cried the M.P., capping with
a burst his previous bid. "Oh, ay, and some more forpye," was the
imperturbable response. "In Heaven's name how many sheep have you, man?"
burst out the astonished catechist. "I'm no very sure to a thousan' or
two," replied Corrichollie in his dry laconic way and with an extra big
pinch; "but I'm owner of forty thousan' sheep at the lowest reckoning."
Lochiel, known to the Sassenach as Mr. Cameron, M.P., is perhaps the
largest living sheep-owner in Scotland. He has at least 30,000 sheep on
his vast tracks of moorland on the braes of Lochaber. In the Island of
Skye Captain Cameron of Talisker has a flock of some 12,000; and there are
several other flocks both in the islands and on the mainland of more than
equal magnitude. Sheep-farming, at least in many instances, is an
hereditary avocation, and some families can trace a sheep-farming ancestry
very far back. The oldest sheep-farming family in Scotland are the
Mackinnons of Corrie in Skye. They have been on Corrie for four hundred
years and they were holding sheep-farms elsewhere even earlier. The
Macraes of Achnagart in Kintail, paid rent to Seaforth for two hundred
years. For as long before they had held Achnagart on the tenure of a bunch
of heather exigible annually and their fighting services as good clansmen.
Two hundred years ago an annual rental of L5 was substituted for the
heather "corve"; the clansmen's service continuing and being rendered up
till the '45. Now clanship is but a name: a Seaforth Mackenzie is no
longer chief in Kintail, and the Macrae who has succeeded his forbears in
Achnagart finds the bunch of heather and the L5 alike superseded by the
very far other than nominal rent of L1000. The modern Achnagart with his
broad shoulders and burly frame, looks as capable as were any of his
ancestry to render personal service to his chief if a demand were made
upon him; and very probably would be quite prepared to accept a reduction
of his money rental if an obligation to perform feudal clan-service were
substituted. Achnagart with his L1000 a year rental by no means tops the
sheep-farming rentals of his county. Perhaps Robertson of Achiltie, whose
sheep-walks stretch up on to the snow-patched shoulders of Ben Wyvis and
far away west to Loch Broom, pays the highest sheep-farming rental in
Ross-shire, when the factor has pocketed his half-yearly check for L800.

Part of this I learn from my friend as we drive to the station; part I
gather afterwards from other sources. The station for which we are bound
is Elgin, the county town of Morayshire. Between Elgin and Inverness, it
is true, we shall see but few of the great sheep-farmers and flock-masters
of the west country, who converge on the annual tryst from other points of
the compass and by various routes--by the Skye railway, by that portion of
the Highland line which extends north of Inverness, through Ross into
Sutherland, by the Caledonian Canal, etc. But it is promised to me that I
shall see many of the notable agriculturists of Moray land, who go to the
market as buyers; and a contingent of sheep-breeders are sure to join us
at Forres, coming down the Highland line from the Inverness-shire
Highlands on Upper Strathspey. There is quite an exceptional throng on the
platform of the Elgin station, of farmers, factors, lawyers, and
ex-coffee-planters--all very plentiful in Elgin; tanners bound for
investments in prospective pelts; and men of no avocation yet as much
bound to visit Inverness to-day as if they meant to invest thousands. In a
corner towers the mighty form of Paterson of Mulben, famous among breeders
of polls with his tribe of "Mayflowers." From beneath a kilt peep out the
brawny limbs of Willie Brown of Linkwood and Morriston, nephew of stout
old Sir George who commanded the light division at the Alma, son to a
factor whose word in his day was as the laws of the Medes and Persians
over a wide territory, and himself the feeder of the leviathan cross red
ox and the beautiful gray heifer which took honours so high at one of the
recent Smithfield Christmas Shows. There is the white beard and hearty
face of Mr. Collie, late of Ardgay, owner erstwhile of "Fair Maid of
Perth" and breeder of "Zarah." Here, too, is a fresh, sprightly gentleman
in a kilt whom his companions designate "the Bourach." Requesting an
explanation of the term I am told that "Bourach" is the Gaelic for
"through-other," which again is the Scottish synonym for a kind of amalgam
of addled and harum-scarum. A jolly tanner observes: "I'll get a
compartment to oursels." The reason of the desire for this exclusive
accommodation is apparent as soon as we start. A "deck" of cards is
produced and a quartette betake themselves to whist with half-crown stakes
on the rubber and sixpenny points. This was mild speculation to that which
was engaged in on the homeward journey after the market, when a Strathspey
sheep-farmer won L8 between Dalvey and Forres. As my friends shuffle and
deal, I look out of window at the warm gray towers of the cathedral,
beautiful still spite of the desecrating hand of the "Wolf of Badenoch."
Our road lies through the fertile "Laigh of Moray," one of the richest
wheat districts in the Empire and as beautiful as fertile. At Alves we
pick up a fresh, hale gentleman, who is described to me as "the laird of
three properties," bought for more than L100,000 by a man who began life
as the son of a hillside crofter. We pass the picturesque ruins of Kinloss
Abbey and draw up at Forres station, whose platform is thronged with noted
agriculturists bound for the "Character" Fair. Here is that spirited
Englishman Mr. Harris of Earnhill, whose great cross ox took the cup at
the Agricultural Hall seven or eight years ago; and the brothers Bruce--he
of Newton Struthers, whose marvellous polled cow beat everything in
Bingley Hall at the '71 Christmas Show and but for "foot and mouth" would
have repeated the performance at the Smithfield Show; and he of Burnside
who likewise has stamped his mark pretty deeply in the latter arena. At
Forres we first hear Gaelic; for a train from Carr Bridge and Grantown in
Upper Strathspey has come down the Highland Railway to join ours, and the
red-haired Grants around the Rock of Craigellachie--where a man whose name
is not Grant is regarded as a _lusus naturae_--are Gaelic speakers to a
man. No witches accost us, and speaking personally I feel no "pricking of
the thumbs" as we skirt the blasted heath on which Macbeth met the witches;
the most graphic modern description of which on record was given to Henry
Dixon in the following quaint form of Shakespearean annotation: "It's just
a sort of eminence; all firs and ploughed land now; you paid a toll near
it. I'm thinking, it's just a mile wast from Brodie Station."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It says a good deal for the peaceful predilections of the nations, that
there has been no fairly balanced experience affording the material for
decision as to the relative advantage of the offensive and the defensive
under modern conditions. In 1866 the Prussians, opposing the needle-gun to
the Austrian muzzle-loader, naturally utilised this pre-eminence by
adopting uniformly the offensive and traditions of the Great Frederick
doubtless seconded the needle-gun. After Sadowa controversy ran high as to
the proper system of tactics when breech-loader should oppose
breech-loader. A strong party maintained that "the defensive had now
become so strong that true science lay in forcing the adversary to attack.
Let him come on, and then one might fairly rely on victory." As
Boguslawski observes--"This conception of tactics would paralyse the

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