« VorigeDoorgaan »
barkation, might be left as a present with the Emperor. As to mere philosophical instruments, how could those dazzle a people incapable of using them? There lay the error of Napoleon, who made Monge exhibit chemical experiments before the Mamelukes and the Arab Sheiks. Not having the very elements of science so as to comprehend more than that there had been a flash, or an effervescence, or an explosion, the solemn blockheads naturally said" Aye, this is very well, but can he do what our magicians can do? Can he make us jump into Abyssinia and back again in an hour?"
But by whatever presents and explanatory letters we court the personal favour of the Emperor, the strength of our impression will rest upon our visible demonstration of power contrasted with our extreme forbearance in using it.
That must make a favourable impression. And it is obvious that we are now arrived at a crisis in which some powerful impression is indispensable, in order, not only to make the further progress which is challenged by our position in Asia, but to continue our hold on the progress which is made already; not only for those objects even, but to meet the certain danger to our fellow-subjects from casual collisions with the Chinese laws. It is obvious enough that the Chinese commerce, if it were not ours already, ought to be procured by treaty-considering the clamorous instincts which propel us in our great Asiatic career. It is obvious that this Chinese commerce, having long been ours, will be pursued now at whatever hazard; and that it is the duty of our Government to make that intercourse secure and honourable which it has long been out of their power to prevent. Lastly, it is obvious that even if this commerce were extinguished by the violence of the Chinese, we should still need a treaty and a previous demonstration of our power, in order to protect our ships, with their increasing crews and passengers, from casual collisions with a cruel nation.
These arguments for an armed interference apply to any period of that vast system on which our Asiatic interests have been for some years expanding. But they apply at this mo ment beyond others for a separate reason, viz.-on account of two injurious acts on the part of the Commis.
sioner Lin, which have suddenly created a crisis. The first of these acts being the seizure of our opium, (since a peaceable surrender, under a virtual condition not fulfilled, is a seizure ;) the second of these acts being the violent, summary, and (as Lin says) everlasting exclusion of the British name from China. There were at any rate, and already, three general arguments for an interposition of our Goverment, pointing to the future; there is now a fourth argument, pointing to the past, the reprisals called for against special and recent outrages. This last reason we have treated as itself furnishing strong matter against our own Government; but that does not acquit the Chinese Government. It is only in collusion with the Chinese Commissioner that our own Government has been wrong. To seek indemnities, where we ourselves created the necessity for those indemnities by submitting to the wrong, criminates the Government under whose impulse and misrepresentation we did submit to that wrong: but it does not acquit Lin, under whose breach of faith that submission has turned out to be an illusory act.. Lin is guilty; and our own Government in a measure the accomplice of Lin. Yet, self-created as is our present necessity for indemnities, by pursuing that object in connexion with the other great objects indicated by the constant state of our danger from China, the Government will have its only chance of effacing past folly. We may forgive the absurdity and the fraud by which our merchants were decoyed into a supererogatory surrender of two birds in the hand by way of obtaining an uncertain reversion upon one bird in the bush; this and much besides we may forgive, and even rejoice in our own losses, as well as the blunders of our Government, if they should turn out to be the happy occasion of forcing a stream of light upon our Chinese position, and winning something more than a momentary indemnification for the British factory-winning honour for the name of Britain-winning a secure settlement planted in law, and selfrespect for our establishments in China -for ever taking away from British merchants all temptations to co-operate in legal murder for ever guaranteeing our own brothers and sisters from liability to torture.
We have taken no notice of one fea
ture in our Chinese relations, which threatens us beyond China. We have been alarmed recently on the matter of Chiva. There is a monomania in this country as regards the Emperor of Russia-because the Poles were conspirators, he must be a tyrant- and every man is suspected of aiming at a snuff-box through the Russian ambassador, who speaks a word of truth on behalf of his Russian Majesty. All that we shall say therefore is-that the expedition to Chiva can hardly have any relation to the British movement upon Cabul. It was planned and talked of two good years before we crossed the Indus. The Khan of Chiva is the common nuisance of central Asia; equally offensive to Russia as a disturber of her commerce in its natural chan nels, and a common Algerine pirate as regards her peaceful subjects on the Caspian. As regards India, if Russia could venture to assault with mere war an empire founded on both the war and the diplomacy of eighty years, how could she take an effectual departure from the Jaxartes, when she cannot reach it without the sacrifice of despair? Not to mention, that Russia cannot spare troops for an Indian campaign has not a battalion that is acclimatized cannot wish for an empire so distant as to demand a new centre of administration. Now, on the other hand, if China could become more warlike, the peril which we vainly look for on the Western Himalaya will seriously reach us from the Eastern.
We have taken no notice of a feature in the domestic circumstances of China, which may happen to favour us. A secret and revolutionary society
of vast ramifications, sometimes called the Society of the Triad, diffused through every province of maritime China, and having for its object to overthrow the existing Tartar dynasty and government, has been noticed by English travellers of late years. This may happen to co-operate with our purposes. But we rely upon no obscure features, whether for hope or for fear. We rely upon the condition of China— full of insolence, full of error, needing to be enlightened, and open to our at tacks on every side. A popular Review has pronounced recently an apotheosis of China; finding out that she is distinguished for her skill in the arts, (but obscure mechanic arts,) and that she was so when our ancestors lived in the forests of Germany. True; and no fact could better have measured the difference between us. The Review takes a retrospect of 1500 years. All the world sees how we have used that interval. We British have traversed the whole distance from savage life to the summit of civilisation. China, starting with such advantages, has yet to learn even the elements of law and justice, without counting on doubtful advantages. We rely upon this known and attested state of Chinese society, which needs a diplomatic interference to make it endurable. We rely upon our past position at Canton, which was always full of temptations to partnership in murder. We rely upon our in. juries, which are recent. We rely upon our honour, trampled under foot. We rely upon our interests, which, alike for commerce and for person, are now finally at stake.
CARLO SEBASTIANI, THE AID-DE-CAMP.
THE ball at Erlach was the most showy display that its old battlements and bastions had witnessed since their foundation by Charles V. The day itself was a gathering of good fortune. Besides its being the anniversary of the birth of the Empress of Austria, the adjutant had brought from Vienna one of the Imperial orders for the governor, with a highly complimentary letter from the war-minister, applauding the "extraordinary vigilance which had counteracted the daring enterprise of the enemy against his fortress," and the "consummate gallantry with which he met the attack, and captured and destroyed the whole division under the French general.'
If governors of threescore and ten had any faculty of blushing, MajorGeneral von Sharlheim must have blushed at his panegyric. But, as that was out of the question, he ordered the letter to be entered on the regimental books, and read at the head of every corps on the parade; had facsimiles made of it, which he dispatched to every corner of Europe without loss of time; and published it at full length, and with all explanatory comments, in the Hamburghsche Correspendenten, and the Algemeine Zeitung, and a crowd of others, which sent it flying round the globe. In short, the governor was in the highest spirits imaginable.
Carolina Cobentzel, fairer than ever, dressed like a sultana, and looking like the Queen of the Graces, was the centre of attraction for the night. The French officers themselves acknowledged that she had the vraie tournure Française, by which they meant perfection, of course; and the assiduities of the gallant chef-de-brigade were so pointed as to throw all the men into palpable despair, and all the ladies into as palpable displeasure. But the assembly was large, gay, and brilliant; the neighbouring nobles, delighted at the prospect of a fête, and at the transformation of the rugged old fortress into the palace of an Armida, had flocked to the festival, and all was waltzing if not wit, and wine if not gaiety. As in all fancy balls, some of the groups were dull, and some costumed in contempt of all history; but some were striking,
and, among the rest, was one of a band of Italian pilgrims, who came singing the airs which so perfectly suit their country, and so touchingly recall its captivations to all who have trod the southern side of the Alps. The group were chiefly young; but one of them, who seemed bowed with extreme old age, and sang with a feeble though still sweet voice, suddenly fixed Carolina's eye. The features were those of evident antiquity, yet there was an expression in them which reminded her of something which she could not drive from her mind. The attentions of the gallant chef-de-brigade lost their interest, if they had ever possessed any; and a shade of melancholy began to spread over one of the loveliest countenances of living woman.
The ball was kept up with additional gaiety by the arrival of fresh groups. Wine flowed more briskly, and the spirits of the company constantly grew more animated. But the groups seemed suddenly and unaccountably to thicken, and to be composed, in some instances, of individuals who could scarcely have been included in the governor's invitations. Sounds of riot, too, were heard outside the apartments, which scarcely comported with the discipline of a garrison. A strange feeling of alarm now began to exhibit itself in the assembly; and though the dance went on, and the hock and champagne were more liberally indulged in than ever, it was evident that something threatened to sour the festivity. At length the appearance of one of the aids-de-camp, with marks of extreme anxiety in his countenance, produced an universal pause in the dance, and every eye was turned on the governor. He continued calmly receiving the whispered report of the officer; and, though pale as death, yet, by his gestures, evidently desirous that no disturbance of the festivities should take place. The dancing was resumed, and the major-general again took his seat at the head of the room. But he had scarcely sat down, when a voice from one of the pilgrims whispered in his ear," Arrest the chef-debrigade on the spot, or all is lost." The gallant chef was at this moment
waltzing with the Lady Carolina in the midst of a buzz of admiration. This was a difficult point for the governor ; but the voice made so strong an impression on his mind, that, after a moment or two of deliberation, he called the Frenchman out of the set, and told him in a low but firm voice that he must retire to his quarters. The chef was all astonishment, demanded the reason of this insult, and haughtily refused to move. The groups suddenly crowded round him, a signal was made from the casement, and it was answered by a clash of arms from without, and a cry of Vive la République! The French man now drew his sword, and, turning to the overwhelmed Von Sharlheim, said with that look which no other nation can put on-" Voilà, mon général, la pièce est finie. Rendez vous; Vous êtes mon prisonnier à present!
"How is this, Monsieur ?" exclaimed the startled governor ; "what infamous treachery has done this?"
"Comrades," shouted the chef, "forward, and convince the major general that I am in the right and he in the wrong. Vive la République !" As he uttered the words, three-fourths of the groups threw off their masquerade cloaks, and showed the French uniform under them.
"Villain, take this!" was the brave old soldier's exclamation, when he had recovered his breath. The sabre blow which followed the word brought the chef to the ground; and the room was immediately a scene of the clashing of swords and crossing of bayonets. The German officers made all the resistance that could be expected from men taken completely by surprise; but they were gradually pushed from the saloon into the open air. There the scene was one of general struggle. The garrison continued to fight; but the greater part of them had been just roused from their beds, and the remainder had been drinking too deep, of potations furnished more by the French commissaries than by the governor's liberality, to be able to offer any effectual obstacle. Even the guns which the artillerymen wheeled down from the bastions to fire on the square, were found to have been rammed with clay. The very cartridges in the soldiers' pouches had been stolen, and their places filled up with cartridges of sand. Treachery had been active,
and been every where. continued pouring in battalion after battalion, until the garrison, seeing the hopelessness of all defence, called for quarter. Shouts of Vive la République rose at the entrance of every fresh battalion, and the fortress was inevitably lost.
"Let the poltrons be taken prisoners, if they will," exclaimed the governor, as, with a few soldiers and his staff, he fixed himself in a bastion-" I shall die here." But the enemy, determining to finish the affair at once, poured a volley into the work, which formidably thinned its defenders. The next volley threatened to extinguish the little desperate troop, when the governor heard the same mysterious voice at his side which had warned him in the ball-room. "Resistance is ruin," were the words; "follow me." He turned and saw the same decrepit and pilgrim-dressed figure which had before caught his attention. But desperate as the circumstances were, he disdained to save himself by flight. "Make your escape, sir, while you have time," said he ; and raising his voice, exclaimed to his officers, "Gentlemen, save yourselves; there is no chance of saving the fortress. You may live to be revenged, but the governor must die here." Some took the advice and disappeared; a few remained. The French fired again, and the whole brave remnant lay on the ground. Day broke, and the tricolor waved on Erlach-Glaringen.
The capture of the fortress was easily accounted for. The French prisoners had kept up a communication with their countrymen, who still covered the banks of the Rhine in great force. Jourdan, after his defeat by the Archduke, had retreated upon the Lahn, but leaving behind him nearly all his guns and baggage; the peasantry, infuriated at his excesses on the advance, had followed him with indefatigable hostility, and every straggler perished by their hands. The losses of the marauders amounted to thousands, and the fears of the Republican Government were so much alarmed, that powerful reinforcements were rapidly forwarded from the garrisons on both banks, and the march of a new army of 25,000 troops was ordered under the favourite officer of the service, Marceau. With this accession of strength the hopes of
conquest revived in the bosom of the French commander-in-chief. He threw himself forward, formed a new plan of campaign with the eccentric rapidity which distinguished the war of the Republic, and daringly manœuvred to outflank the Archduke. The news had immediately spread to the prisoners; they prepared for a general attempt on the garrison; and a division of the enemy was ordered into the forest to assist the enterprise. The enemy's march had been so dexterously concealed, that Von Sharlheim, accustomed to more regular tactics, remained totally unsuspicious of this formidable neighbourhood. The preparations for the fête on the Imperial birthday fully occupied the attention of his staff, and the result was the march of a powerful force at midnight to the gates of the place, their introduction by the bribery of the sentinels, and the capture. The scene in the ball-room was merely an adjunct of that which had already occurred without. A large party of French officers had joined the ball, in various cha racters, ready to take advantage of the hour, and seize the governor and the staff. The chef-de-brigade had meditated a seizure of another kind, which he must have effected but for the unlucky exultation which betrayed him, and which was rewarded by the sabre blow of the governor-a blow which swept off one of the most polished and picturesque mustaches in existence, and carried with it a portion of the lip sufficient to prohibit its growth for life. Whatever he might be as a hero in time to come, there was an end of his claims as an Adonis. The lady was lost; but the fortress was carried. A prodigious history of the "irresistible prowess of all concerned was sent to Paris; the achievement was blazoned in the Moniteur; thence it was turned into a melodrama at the Porte St Martin; furnished a horse-pantomime at Franconi's; flourished as a "romantic opera" at the Odeon; and finally soared as a "tragedie classique" at the Theatre Français. valry ask more?
What could chi
About a fortnight after this period a group of three persons, a wounded old man, a young one with an emaciated frame and countenance, and a young female, were seen sitting at the door of a hut on one of the heights
looking down upon the Rhine. Their attention was apparently fixed on a small column of troops which advanced with an open artillery waggon, covered with flags, in their centre; a few cavalry preceded and followed, and a solitary trumpet from time to time sent its melancholy echoes among the mountains. It was evidently the last march of some distinguished soldier. But, as the column ascended the heights, the uniform was observed to be Austrian, and the banner was the black eagle. They were friends; and the anxiety now was to know what gallant chief had been lost to the national cause. The peasant dress of the three precluded personal notice, and they reached the column just as it had arrived at its place of destination. The funeral procession was one of those instances in which war is softened by the spirit of civilisation, and the honour due to genius and valour, is paid, even in an enemy. An officer from the Archduke's headquarters commanded the escort, and as the coffin was lowered from the carriage, and laid in the grave, he pronounced a short and simple panegyric on the dead soldier.
"Austrians," said he, “you see before you the last resting-place of a gallant enemy. That grave contains a Frenchman, and one of the memorable of his country: General Marceau fought in the unjust cause, and therefore Germany may rejoice that the aggressor has been cut off; but he fought by the command of others, and theirs be the crime. It is but a month since that brave general brought his force into the field; it is but a weck since he saved the French army, which was on the point of perishing before Austrian bravery; it is but twelve hours' since, at the head of his troops, attempting to stop the irresistible arms of our country, he fell at the battle of Altenkirchen, in command of the rearguard. It is the glory of the Austrian, that while he fights the enemy in arms, he knows how to feel for the prisoner. We found him wounded on the field. The Archduke, the hero of Germany, ordered his wounds to be taken care of, but they were mortal; and the brave enemy breathed his last, thanking the humanity of his conqueror. Honour to Germany-honour to the Archduke-honour to the brave Marceau !"