Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

a

[ocr errors]

he had reached a little knoll forming one of the spurs of the Telegraph height. “Now, if we had a couple of guns here!" said he, instantly; for be saw that he was in a position to enfilade the Russian batteries defending the great road.

From this position Lord Raglan had the pain of seeing the advance, victory, and repulse of the light division. Originally too little ground had been taken up, so that the extreme regiments of the light and second divisions overlapped each other, and in passing through the orchards, which lined the river-bank, all formation was lost. Thus five regiments-four from the light, and one from the second division-all in a huddle, carried the great redoubt; and then being unsupported had to relinquish it, and retreated down the hill in confusion, carrying away the Fusilier Guards, and thereby leaving an awkward gap in the second line, which was at last coming up in support. All this time Lord Raglan was at too great a distance even to attempt to check the advance of the first, or hasten that of the second line. There are some inconveniences when a commanderin-chief stations himself in the midst of the enemy. But just at this moment the two guns of Turner's battery had arrived on the knoll ; and soon the Russian artillery barring the great road to Sebastopol had to retire. Then the British line, consisting of the Highland brigade, the brigade of Guards, and Pennefather's brigade, steadily advanced.

Meanwhile, just as the light division commenced its retreat, Canrobert, unable without artillery to bear up against the Russian “column of eight battalions," fell back over the edge of the plateau. But the opportune arrival of his artillery, which soon shattered the Russian column, enabled him to push on; the Telegraph height was carried after a sharp struggle; and all parts of the position were at about twenty minutes to four in the hands of the Allies. Lord Raglan wished to pursue, and offered our cavalry and Cathcart's division; but the French marshal declined.

Into the details of this last victorious advance, space will not permit us to enter. It is described, diffusely perhaps, but still with admirable clearness and spirit, by Mr. Kinglake. If some of his pictures of the deeds of inferior officers —such for instance as that of Colonel Yea—seem at first too highly coloured, the feeling passes away when we remember in how short a time the subjects of them met the death which they escaped here. But the old animosity to the French still remains. He even goes the length of absolutely denying the truth of their account of a severe hand-to-hand fight near the Telegraph; and this merely on the negative evidence of the Russian general Kiriakoff, and of two Russian officers who were present at the

- There ap

ary conflict.

battle, --none of whom make any mention of the matter. If French narratives pass over in silence any incident in which they did not maintain the mastery, their silence would be very differently treated. But Mr. Kinglake, who himself mentions Colonel Hamley's book with approbation, ignores that officer's evidence in a way which is hardly ingenuous. peared,” says Colonel Hamley at p. 36, “signs of a sanguin

Many Russians lay dead there, and they lay thicker near the signal tower, the hillock on which it was built being strewn with them. Three or four had been bayoneted while defending the entrance; and in the narrow space within, which was divided into compartments, were three or four small groups slain in the defence. Another spot near contained three or four hundred corpses.” This is the evidence of an eyewitness, and, as it appears to us, settles the question.

Prince Mentschikoff's tactics it is hard to criticise, for he had none. Relying on the strength of his position to cover his left, he had never broken up the artillery roads by which the cliff could be scaled there, nor did he so much as know of their existence. Still more inexplicable is the inactivity to which he condemned his splendid cavalry, which, by threatening our left, might have seriously imperilled our advancing line. But bad as were his tactics, his strategy was probably no better. With his small force (even at the Alma he had but 39,000 men, of whom some had arrived only that morning, to oppose to the 60,000 of the Allies), perhaps he could do no better, if fight he must, than choose a strong position to fight in. Either in opposing the landing, or, if he had maneuvred with his back to the great road from Simpheropol to Sebastopol, in attempting to drive the Allies into the sea, any advantage to be derived from his great superiority in cavalry would have been neutralised by the terrible fire of the fleets. Probably his best course would have been to allure the Allies into the interior, by falling slowly back towards Perekop, receiving as he retired the reinforcements which were daily hurrying from the Pruth. If the Allies had refused his lead, and marched on Sebastopol, he should have followed them closely, and they could bardly have attempted a coup-de-main, which they shrunk from after a victory, while an unconquered army of 40,000 men, daily increasing in numbers, was hanging on their rear.

Had Lord Raglan had the good fortune to command an army in the field while still in the prime of life, he might not improbably have attained no inconsiderable reputation; for he had that quickness of eye and readiness of judgment which enables a commander to act in the hour of battle with promptitude and decision. But for nearly forty years he had led an

official life, and the official business of his command necessarily assumed in his eyes an exaggerated importance. The careful preservation of the correspondence of head-quarters, which Mr. Kinglake acknowledges so gratefully, was, we fear, more useful to him than to the British army. Lord Raglan had also official prejudices. As Mr. Kinglake, in an admirable passage (vol. ii. p. 64) points out, the difficulty of England at the beginning of a campaign is always to get men. In Turkey excellent soldiers are to be had in shoals, needing nothing but what we could give them—officers, arms, accoutrements, drill, and very moderate pay. But Lord Raglan had an official dislike to auxiliaries, and so, when winter came on, our men bad to endure all the miseries, of which mere want of numbers was the principal cause. Still the faults inherent in old officials were no new thing when he was appointed; and therefore nothing could be more unjust than the outcry which was raised when they made themselves manifest. His moral character was especially pure and dignified. We doubt if it would have been possible to find another man who could have not only avoided disputes, but even won the affection of three generals so utterly different in character as St. Arnaud, Canrobert, and Pelissier. In this sense, his services to the alliance were priceless; and so long as he lived, the English army, even when it could bring but 15,000 men into the field, never dwindled into a contingent. But the French commanders, especially the first and last, respected his judgment; and, as St. Arnaud wrote of him, he was loyauté même. Few English generals have left a more spotless

name.

Mr. Kinglake's narrative of the military operations seems to us, with the exceptions we have mentioned, on the whole just and faithful. It is infinitely preferable, at all events, to the French accounts. Of M. de Bazancourt the less said the better; and M. Ducasse treats both his own countrymen's doings and ours with the same varnish. He simply leaves out the allied reverses altogether; says nothing of the retreat of the French centre and of the light division, but represents the battle as one unbroken victorious advance. This is quite fair as between French and English; but it is not truth. The real difficulties which arise in harmonising the different accounts are topographical. Every one makes his own plans to suit his own views, and there is but little chance of complete agreement until we know the distance intervening between the different parts of the field of battle much more accurately than we do. At present, the maps of the French official Atlas, the title of which will be found at the commencement of this paper, seem the most to be relied on. But if Mr. Kinglake's is a tolerably correct narra

a

tive, is it a fair account of the battle? Certainly not. But the unfairness consists, just as in the first volume, not in distorting facts so much as in misrepresenting the motives and feelings of those who are at once his enemies and our allies. Every Englishman is actuated by feelings of the purest patriotism and an almost unconscious heroism. Every Frenchman is without presence of mind, without resources, without decision, and almost without courage. Mr. Kinglake is never so happy as when he is making game of a Frenchman. Such small deer as a young aide-de-camp who came to Lord Raglan breathless with haste, and nervous at finding himself in the presence of the English general, are not beneath his sarcasms. Not a single French general does he praise for his conduct at the Alma, except Bosquet, and that not for any thing he did, -for Mr. Kinglake distinctly says that he did nothing,—but because he was in no way concerned in the coup-d'état. Indeed, this novel principle of judgment will be found avowed and insisted on with charming naiveté in the 50th section of the 16th chapter of the 2d volume; which leaves no longer in doubt, what the reader has already probably long perceived, -that this splendid literary effort is not to be regarded so much as a mere history of events which have occurred, as a brilliant diatribe against those two mischievous things, the French empire and the French alliance.

ART. III.-PASSAGES FROM THE LIFE OF ERASMUS.

1. Unpublished Papers in the Public Record Office.

2. Erasmi Epistola. THE present Dean of St. Paul's has familiarised his readers with the expression, “ Latin Christianity.” The phrase is new, and is apt to suggest a distinction that never existed. Had the patriarch of Constantinople succeeded in his opposition to the rival patriarch of the West, had an imperial court overawed by its splendour and authority the humble palace of the Vatican, Greek Christianity (if that be meant as a correlative to Latin) might have found a centre, in which the thousand varying lights of Greek intellect might have converged. But in fact Greek Christianity, as represented by the Greek fathers, is little more than a feeble reflexion of the Latin. Christianity, strange to say, awakened no responsive chord of the old Greek mind; the poetical and philosophical elements of earlier days sprung up to no second life.

Even that logical subtlety which struck such vigorous root in the Latin Church found no place in the Greek. The intellect, language, and leisure of the Greeks would have seemed to point them out as the most suitable guardians and interpreters of the New Testament. And yet, as if to falsify all human anticipations in these matters, the Greek Church produced no expositors comparable to the Latin, Athanasius excepted. The social forms and economy of Christian life are of Latin growth. Our ecclesiastical ceremonies and dresses are Latin; our prayers and liturgies are Latin; our translations of the Scripture are from the Latin; our disputes upon cardinal points of doctrine are founded upon Latin words, and guided entirely by our conceptions of their Latin meaning.

Placed in the van of that battle which Christianity had to wage with the new barbarian nationalities of the North, the Latin mind gained new life and vigour from the struggle. If it be true that there are men whose. genius, like aromatic herbs, never gives out its fullest sweetness until they are bruised and trampled on, it is equally true that but for these collisions we might have known the old Latin literature in its strength and majesty, but never in “its hearselike strains;” never in its more spiritual forms, and that ascetic beauty which haunts and lingers round the memory like a spell. If not the product of the same necessity, at the least the most potent aid to that same need, the Latin Church found in the Vulgate an instrument for reaching all hearts and guiding all tongues. For those new races, the founders of the nations of Western Christendom, all their earliest religious impressions were connected with the Vulgate. From the Vulgate all forms of thought took their first direction. What popes and schoolmen never could have done—for securing uniformity of belief and worship; for rooting in the hearts of men the grand idea of one church, one head, one language, binding the old to the new races in unbroken succession, and to him above all who had the keys of death and hell-was done by the silent and irresistible influence of the Vulgate. No wonder, then, that any attack on its authority should have been resisted as a deadly thrust against the very foundation of that system which had grown up with the growth of centuries and entwined itself with every fibre of the heart and imagination of mankind.

It is, then, as the opponent of that authority which till his time had been held infallible, and for this alone, that Erasmus can be regarded as the precursor of the Reformation. In his jests against the clergy, or rather against the religious orders, the clergy laughed as heartily as himself, secure and heart-sound. It was only when he proceeded to examine the evidence on which the Vulgate rested that they looked grave; when he claimed to apply to the authorised translation of the Scriptures

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »