« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Minister, in speaking of a General of high ultimate issue be favourable, the verdict of society stamps the fortunate commander a in the cap of a soldier. It hallows blunders,
was remarked by a celebrated Prime character and professional attainments, and of unquestionable courage, but who had always been unfortunate in war, that he wanted only one quality to constitute him a great warrior
success. Whatever may be the errors committed in the course of a campaign, if the great” General.
Success” is undoubtedly a superb feather
and consecrates follies ;—it is at once an answer, an apology, and a justification. The Poles were traitors because they failed at Grodno and Ostrolenka ; had they triumphed, Skrynecski would have been elevated to the rank of a hero, and the Emperor of all the Russias degraded to the condition of a monster.
There is, however, another accident indispensable to the elevation of a military man. Whatever may be his natural talents, however extensive his professional attainments—though his courage be indomitable and his acquaintance with the “ bookish theoric” something prodigious, he remains for ever in obscurity, if he does not at some time or other enjoy the blessing of opportunity. Nine-tenths of the officers of the British army are, to all appearance, cast in the same mould. They have the same ideas, the same aspirations ; are animated by the same motives, governed by the same principles, and are nearly of the same degree of capacity. But the opportunity of achieving distinction alone establishes their
It is then that individual genius manifests itself. Opportunity is the crucible which tests the quality of the military metal - it is the talismanic touch which evokes the latent qualities of
the Abercrombie did not enjoy his opportunity until he was sixty years
age. Herbert Edwardes wrought fame out of opportunity at twenty-seven. Nelson and Cochrane, impatient of obscurity, made their opportunities.
I do not mean this brief homily to be accepted as the herald of the results of my own temporary good fortune, but simply as an illustration of what chance will achieve for almost any soldier. Accident made me an extrà aide-de-camp, and the circumstances which attended my employment, in that capacity led to my subsequent transfer to Nepaul. Had the same chances been available to any one of my brother officers, similar, if not much higher, consequences might have ensued from their fortune. Who can doubt it that remembers the illustrious names of Lawrence,
Lake, Herbert, Abbott, Brown, Cunningham, Nicholson, Broadfoot, Hammersley, Pottinger, Macgregor, Hore, Backhouse, Christie, &c., each of whom demonstrated of what fine elements the Indian army is composed ? But for the accidents of war they might all have lingered in hopeless obscurity. Affghanistan, Scinde, the Sutlej, the Punjaub, and Gwalior, revived the glories of Seringapatam and Laswarrie, Kirkee and Setabuldee, Nepaul, Burmah, and Bhurtpore. Without those five modern campaigns, how many bright spirits might have wasted their power in an inglorious barrack life—how long the Government might have continued in ignorance of the brilliant talents which have enabled it not merely to check and subdue, but to control, reconcile, and civilize the rude warrior nations which encircle the British Indian empire from the Runn of Cutch to the mouths of the Irrawaddy!
The happy accident which removed me from the routine of regimental duty, and gave me the means of collecting the materials of the