Page images
PDF
EPUB

relieve the infantry of the army, at least, from its injurious operation. We have long been of opinion that, whatever the deficiencies in our military education, it is the want of something to create emulation that lies at the bottom of the business. Let it only be determined that merit, and merit alone, shall be recompensed by staff appointments, promotion, honours, &c, and we should soon see the schoolmaster at home in the army. Men will never work unless stimulated by an important object. If you ask a young ensign why he does not study tactics, military sketching, drawing, and other matters, instead of passing his time in the billiard-room, or in other ways equally frivolous, he simply asks you—"Cut bono? Will my studies procure me a lieutenancy? Will they help me to a staff situation? Will my playing billiards prevent my promotion in my regiment?" We repeat it—the want of stimulus to professional exertion has kept our officers from exercising their talents and energies to render themselves competent to the duties of their profession. The recent order subjecting them to an examination before they can be appointed to the staff, will, if properly and fairly carried out, work a great change, and will be felt by the junior cadet of the Military College, who will quickly perceive there is something worth working for in the perspective, and he will buckle to accordingly.

In looking through the report on the Prussian educational system, it struck us that a grade corresponding to that of PortepieFahnrich (sword-knot ensign), might be introduced into our system with advantage. Let us suppose a youth to have passed a sufficient examination upon the general subjects of education, as recommended by Dr. Vaughan; he might then be given an intermediate rank—call it under-officer if you will,—and employed for a twelvemonth or so in studies exclusively military. The course might consist of mathematics, comprising geometry, trigonometry, and mensuration of planes and solids ; fortification, field and permanent ; military surveying and drawing ; military history; military law ; and the French and German languages. We would have every study made, so far as may be possible, practical; for instance, trigonometry should be connected with surveying, and mensuration with both surveying and fortitication. The latter should be chiefly taught by throwing up works of sand on a reduced scale—say, for field-works, three or four inches to a foot, as we have seen practised at Addiscombe. The students should learn to make gabions and fascines of full size. We do not advocate devoting much time to drawing plans, but would cause the students to measure field-works and make their own plans. We would have extensive practice in rapid military sketching with the aid of a compass, and pacing distances, the plotting of which would afford in-door employment during bad weather, and give practice in military drawing. We would have no waste of time in copying pretty plans, such as we see the cadets of our military colleges employed upon; and, if we might venture to speak the truth, we should think it would be well to curtail, by about one half, the number of plans required at Woolwich, Sandhurst, and Addiscombe. If an officer can furnish a correct military sketch or plan—one that his superior can read and understand,—it would not add to its value in our eyes if its execution were superlatively beautiful. We have known in our time some excellent engineer officers who were wretched draughtsmen, but never heard it remarked by any one whose opinion we valued, " Oh, such an officer is an able engineer; what a pity he can't draw better." What we want of our staff officers in the field is, that they shall possess a quick eye, and accurate judgment of the nature of ground, so as to be able to see at a glance how troops should be disposed, whether for attacking or defence; and therefore we would urge the necessity of exercising all officers in examining and sketching ground. Some, as we know, can never be brought to do this at all, others may do it badly, but many—even the majority—would succeed.

If a candidate for the army should during this probationary twelvemonth evince a marked want of ability or of energy, he ought not to receive a commission ; but those, on the contrary, who show striking zeal, ability, and activity, might, along with their commission, be rewarded by a small addition to their pay. It is well known that the sum of £50 per annum, in addition to his pay, is the least that an ensign can exist on ; we therefore know of no more appropriate way of stimulating to study than by a pecuniary grant to distinguished merit.

We reserve the rest of our remarks until next month.

The Duke of Cambridge having founded a musical school at Kneller-hall for the instruction of boys belonging to ibe array in musical education, the commanding officers at Chatham Garrison have recei\ed directions to select a certain number of hoys wlio have a knowledge of music from their respective corps, in order to their being trained for bandmasters in the army.

The General Commanding-in-Chiefin Scotland considering it incompatible, in the present state of the Regiments of Artillery, that Colonels should hold what may be considered the command of a Lieutenant-Colonel, has decided to relieve Colonel Warde of the command of the Royal Artillery there.

It is understood to be the intention of the authorities at the War Office to despatch a Division of the Field Equipment Corps of the Royal Engineers to China, in order that they may act with the Royal Engineer Force now on their passage thither.

Pembroke Garrison.—It is rumoured that two regiments will be stationed at Pembroke Dockyard in lieu of the present Four Company Battalion now doing duty there, and that this measure is contemplated in consequence of the duties of the establishment falling with severity on the depots, which are inadequate to guard the extended ground over which the posts lie. The Staff and the first depot battalion are to be removed to Newport, Monmouthshire.

From the 1st of May the Orderly-Room Serjeant of the Depot Battalion, formed of less than four Regimental Depots, will receive an extra daily allowance of Is. 6d., provided such Serjeant be recommended for his zeal and efficiency. Soldiers acting as Orderly-room Clerks of Regimental Depots attached to Depot Battalions will receive an allowance to complete their pay as Private or Corporal to that of Serjeant, and if a Serjeant within tbe eslabthment of his Regiment a daily allowance of 6d. is to be charged for him while so employed.

THE CLOSING YEARS OF NAPIER.

The third and fourth volumes of the Life of Napier,* so eagerly expected by the military and reading public, have promptly'made their appearance; and the career and character of the hero now stand out in the colours they are to wear as long as England lasts. When existing animosities shall have passed away—when posterity shall sit in judgment on Charles Napier and his enemies—the portrait here given will be looked upon with reverence as well as admiration; and this faithful chronicle of his life will testify to his integrity and devotedness. Something it tells us of his infirmities—something of the same sort it leaves to our conjecture; but no man can escape the common heritage of his kind; and we do not grieve to be reminded that this bronze figure had a heart of flesh. A warm, generous heart it was withal— impetuous and fiery under opposition, ever showing a resolute front to an enemy, but ever generous, indulgent, and yielding, to a friend. Let us take this honest, bluff soldier, earnest in all he undertakes, with a mind capable of planning, and a soul yearning to execute great projects—always longing to do some good for his country or improve on the particular charge intrusted to him; and let us place him in the midst of a clique of jobbers and incapables, in the very hotbed and nest of jobs, in India, where the British name is only now slowly ignoring the reproach of Burke, that after so many years of possession, we have raised not one memorial of good and useful government. Here was Hercules come to make a clearance of the Augsean stable, warning every man to set his house in order. Napier's reputation went out before him, and was scented from afar, like the odour on the raiment of Esau. Every man who had been raised and benefitted by a job, every man whose patron was a jobber, and who hoped to have an opportunity of jobbing himself—all the high functionaries and all the low, thereupon entered into a solemn league and covenant, binding themselves to resist this paladin, to array against him all the host of the Philistines, to bring out Juggernaut from Leadenhall Street, and crush him beneath his car. He was to be represented as a pestilent fellow, to be libelled in newspapers, to be pelted, worried, and hunted down, to be kept in continual hot water, and have no quarter, and no benefit of clergy. It must be owned that Sir Charles, regarding his honest intentions as armour of proof, was a little Quixotic; for he went straight into the midst of the horde, and when he found out what they were made of, began laying about him right and left, without considering the overwhelming odds against him. The volumes now before us tell the story of his struggles and his wrongs, and certainly they form a strange chapter of military biography, while they enlist our interest and kindle our sympathy for the hero of the drama.

While consolidating British power in his noble conquest of Scinde, prosecuting schemes for the development and extension of the resources

• "The Life and Opinions of General Sir Charles James Napier, G.C.B." By Lieut-General Sir W. Napier, K.C.B. Vols. III. and IV.

of the country, and the advancement of its population, Napier, who could not be vanquished by his enemies, was struck down by pestilence, which, at the same time, ravaged the whole territory, smiting alike the army and people. The moment seemed favourable to the disaffected; hostile neighbours assumed a menacing attitude; the revenue melted away; production and commerce were at a stand still; and newspapers indulged in confident predictions of the loss of the province. But Napier shook off his sickness like a giant, and grappled with the emergency, as Nelson would have grappled a French frigate, by laying himself alongside. The treacherous Ameers, who had been secretly mustering their forces, were reminded of Meanee and Hyderabad; the revenue was nursed and restored; the troops were carefully tended; the population encouraged; and gradually prosperity returned. Who else could have accomplished so great a result, in a time so incredibly short, and in the face of difficulties so overwhelming, we know not. The administration of Scinde is one of the most brilliant triumphs of Napier's life. It represents his grasp, his aptitude, the breadth and force of his genius, more strikingly, perhaps, than any of his other achievements; for here events called simultaneously into action all those qualities which on other occasions were exhibited separately and at different times. It is pleasing to see his kind nature still peering out through the thick and heat of the struggle. In the midst of his multifarious vexations and duties, he could find a moment to plead for misfortune, and in November, 1843, he writes to the Bombay Governor in Council in behalf of two widows:—" In forwarding the inclosed memorials from the widows of Majors Teesdale and Jackson for the Honourable Court of Directors, few words are required from me. The conduct of Major Teesdale ere he fell was glorious beyond that of any man I ever saw die; for an instant I forgot the battle and looked at him with admiration. I can say no more. Major Jackson also fell nobly. I did not witness his death, but those who did, speak of his unflinching courage as heroic. His regiment was forced back, but, with three havildars of the 12th, he stood, and they were surrounded; the regiment quickly rallied to their rescue, but those four bold soldiers were slain! Seven Baloochees died under the blows dealt by these courageous men ere they fell; of the seven, five were said to have been killed by the hand of the powerful Major Jackson. No man's sword did more towards victory on that day."

We hear a great talk of Napier's insatiable ambition; but, after all, he was not hard to please, and a few approving words were received as full recompense for incredible application and toil. He was quite touched by Wellington's eulogium on "the two glorious battles of Meanee and Hyderabad," and prized his nomination to a regiment by the great Duke "more than all the grand crosses in the world." Had he lived but a year or two longer, and seen how these decorations were distributed under the corrupt administration of Lord Hardinge, it is our candid belief that he would have blushed to have worn them on his breast. He was proud of the approval of Sir Robert Peel, and it may have had some influence in determining him to remain at his post, though failing health and advancing years both warned him to retire. It is at this moment he begins to think of retiring at eighty—perhaps, stirred up by a reminiscence of Lord Lynedoch, whom he met on his way out at Malta, when there was some rumour of a war with France, and who regretted that, if hostilities ensued, he would be unable to go home through the French territory, as he might be catight on his route, and be kept twenty or thirty years in prison, his age at the time being fourscore and ten! Sir Charles can't help smiling at his game, though he lets us know, in the same breath, what a fix he is in, from making a mistake in generalship, not in the field, but after dinner. Oh! those speeches! Mr. fiuist, of the Bombay Times, who has recently been figuring in the Timet of London, was the mark to have hit; but Napier's blood was up, and, forgetting the tactics of Meanee and Hyderabad, he let fly at the whole Indian press. It was just such a blunder as we might expect from his frank, ingenuous nature; but who but himself would have made full confession, and let us into the secret of a wiser policy, which rushed upon him next morning. This man of war knew the way to go to work, but suffered his just resentment and honest feelings to carry him away. He might have abused Buist, who was always abusing and belabouring him, to his heart's content, and the press, which loves fair play, would have backed him up; but he threw down the gauntlet to every journal in India. "I ought to have confined myself," he says, in the cool of the morning, "to one editor, Buist, and then all the others would have joined against him." As journalists, we might here ask if Sir Charles had been initiated: if not, who has revealed the mysteries of our craft? But, on the whole—having run his head into the lion's mouth, and found that it was wagging its tail—the veteran warrior is pretty cool, though not altogether indifferent. Who, indeed, could be so, under a tissue of calumny and misrepresentation? "The rabid abuse of the Bombay Times makes me laugh," he observes; "yet it is injurious, because good and honourable people swallow it all, and, if Shakespeare is right, that does harm." But good and honourable people—the high-minded and grateful people of England— will not swallow abuse of Sir Charles Napier, and the malice of his detractors will not be permitted to tarnish the lustre of his name.

The hero was compensated for the animosity of Mr. Buist by the encomium of Wellington, pronounced in the most august assembly in the world, the House of Lords, and echoed by the whole country. He expressed his sense of this distinction in a letter to the Duke, as remarkable for the simple eloquence of the composition as the modesty of the sentiments. "As your Grace never had a master in war, how can I convey to your mind the feelings of a disciple? It requires much firmness to bear commendation so high, and from such a quarter. I pray earnestly that the fear of losing this, the highest of all honours, may not make me over-cautious, should passing events again place me in front of an enemy. That I may continue to merit the high encomiums which your Grace has bestowed upon my conduct is among the first wishes of my heart, as it must ever be my greatest glory." He thought he ought now to die, and have the Duke's speech engraved on his tomb. But while ambition was satisfied—while every source of vexation, even to the immortal Buist, was forgotten and effaced in

« PreviousContinue »