Imágenes de página

questionable personal qualities of the present emperor. I am more disposed to agree with the second part of Lord Byron's line than the first

"There fell the greatest, nor the worst of men."

IRENEUS.-If he was not cruel, some of his marshals were, and they were undeniable soldiers.

TLEPOLEMUS.-But not gentlemen by birth or education; so they preserved in an elevated rank the feelings of the class they had quitted, in many respects at least. Their chief fault was that they took no trouble to restrain their men. We are not discussing any character that falls short of the ideal soldier. I cannot help thinking that the perfect gentleman and perfect soldier are convertible terms, every gentleman in esse being the soldier in posse. Froissart and all the medieval writers consider these terms convertible. And we read in Chevy Chace

[ocr errors]

Many a gallant gentleman Lay gasping on the ground." The gentleman and soldier are one, because the soldier's character is a compound of gentleness and manliness, without both of which qualities he is incomplete.

IRENEUS.-I always considered the term gentleman to apply rather to birth in those times than to conduct. You remember, perhaps, the


"Within the bounds of Annandale

The gentle Johnstones rideThey have been there a thousand years, A thousand yet shall bide." Now these Johnstones, though their family was as old as the Cheviot hills, were probably very rough-and-ready customers; nor did they ride along the Border merely to air their horses. They were moss-troopers; which is the same as saying many things which did not tell in favour of their gentleness.

TLEPOLEMUS.-At all events they rode, and rode well, and that is more than your men of peace do; and it appears they were exemplary boys, and did not go out of bounds. But whether they were gentle by nature, or only in name, it is certain that this name was applied to the wellborn, from the conduct by which they were originally distinguished; and as

it continues to be applied to them, it is an eternal homily on the duties of their station. The hero of Scinde was not far wrong when he said that all soldiers were by nature gentlemen. History is filled with gentlemanly soldiers, always the best. The bare mention of Sydney and Raleigh will suffice us here; and we ought not to forget our then enemies, but now fast friends, and their gentle heroes, Henri Quatre, and Condé, and Villars, and Saxe, with his

"Messieurs, veuillez tirer les premiers," addressed to the enemy with a bow before action. This gentleness is related to humanity as honour is related to honesty; it is not an effort of principle, but bred in the bone. Of our Peninsular heroes, none was more gentle or brave than Hill. And there is one more. Need I name him? He was a stern man in the servicewas the Iron Duke; but he had a rough lot to deal with, and no bed of roses to lie on, between his countrymen, his allies, and the enemy-the latter being his least difficulty. see the man of war become the man of peace, and judge him thus; for I say that, after all, it is the warrior who makes, when the wars are over, the most perfect man of peace. It is enough that he was the idol of the children of his friends, of those young beings who saw nothing in him but a mild old man. They did not know of Torres Vedras or Vittoria; but they knew that he kept a stock of shillings, new from the mint, in his pockets on purpose to give them. They knew him as their silver mine.


IRENEUS.-Yet his name was the Iron Duke.

TLEPOLEMUS.-A name that will last as long as history. But iron, you know, will grow warm or cold; it is a substance of universal application; it does not, like stone, express stiffness, coldness, an inexorable nature: it is only strong, and firm, and enduring, nor easy to break and bend. He was the Iron Duke. Yet Copenhagen, the horse he rode at Waterloo, was by his order turned out to grass for the remainder of his life, as a reward for bearing him safely through that day of days; and though he gave short answers to impertinent corre

spondents, reminding them that he was Commander of the Forces, and not a Jack-of-all-trades, yet, if they could help it, his old servants never left him; and blessings for kind deeds, and kind words no less good for them than deeds, done and spoken to the poor, and those dependent on him -blessings fervent and strong and humid in the eye, and more numerous by far than its own scant silver hairs, followed, in God's good time, that laurelled head to the grave.

This is my case for the defence. But how, in your attacks on soldiers, came you not to think of Cromwell?

IRENEUS.-Cromwell, like Mahomet, must be considered to have become a soldier only because he was a fanatic, and to have applied the strong common-sense with which he was endowed to the science of warvery successfully too. If it had not been for his fanaticism, he would have remained a butcher at Huntingdon.

TLEPOLEMUS.-You are right in considering Cromwell scarcely a case in point. Though, if he was a mere impostor in his religion, he was an atrociously cruel man. But he certainly was not. All fanatics are apt to become impostors in many things; because in that they are fanatics they are ready to sacrifice truth, honesty, and morality in general, to the triumph of their views. It is impossible to mistake the sly twinkle in the corner of the eye of a genuine fanatic. Sidney Smith proposed to deal with fanaticism, not by controversy, but by asking it to dinner. If I were to do so, I think I should substitute electro-plate spoons for silver. The Jesuits of all religions are alike in many respects. Cromwell was a Puritan Jesuit. When he believed people Amalekites, he was destitute of mercy or pity; but I do not think him on that account to be regarded as a cruel man. A cruel man is one whose pleasure is the infliction of pain. Domitian, whose imperial amusement was to kill flies, is to my mind the model cruel man; I think you will find that cruel men have in general been men of peace, and that men of peace are often cruel men.

IRENEUS.-I suppose you think that you have parried my thrusts, and that your turn is come now. But I

do not fear you much, for you have come to the attack out of breath, like the third of the Curiatii; nor quite unwounded either. I think I have little to fear from your remaining history, for the cistern must be dry by this time. You have probably done as young divines often do, who let out their whole reservoir of divinity in their maiden sermon, and in consequence appear as dry and as tough as oak-chips in their second. I am ready for you with a fifty-horse power of passive resistance.

TLEPOLEMUS. Do you think soldiers in spirit the same as murderers?

IRENEUS. As the greater is to the lesser. Murderers are not necessarily cruel, any more than soldiers.

TLEPOLEMUS. Did you never hear of a Friend being hung for murder ?

IRENEUS.-Never! we always read them out first.

TLEPOLEMUS.-Transparent sophistry! The being hung does not constitute the murderer, but the deed of blood. Men of your body have murdered, but they have not been suffered to obey God's law in expiating their guilt; because when they do so, they no longer belong to your body. Thus it seems to me that this system of reading out has only the effect of staining your society with unexpiated crime. But I do not mean to lay too great stress on this. Men of peace are not often murderers, any more than warriors are. But there is a spirit of murder inherent in society, more damaging to human happiness than the overt act which the law punishes. Such a spirit is to be found in the selfish hard-heartedness habitual to those accustomed to look at their fellow-creatures through the inverted spy-glass of trade. Men are dwarfed into worthless, feelingless puppets. They are spoken of, not as souls or as heads, but as "hands."

IRENEUS.-Well, so they are on board ship; and the soldier speaks of them as "sabres and bayonets."

TLEPOLEMUS.-The nautical term had manifestly its origin in the merchant-service. As to the military term, it is pictorial and poetical, and has nothing to do with the moral of



the case.

But the hard-heartedness of men of peace consists in looking at man as a machine for achieving physical well-being. To those accustomed to lay great stress on the preservation of life, all the little adjuncts of physical well-being become of exaggerated importance. Thus, to enhance luxury for a few, the faces of the many are ground in mills; and the wood and iron of which those mills are made, are looked upon in the same light as the blood and bone of God's image which sets them going. It is not bread alone the poor want, as horses want oats; it is cheerful and innocent recreation for which they are athirst. But he is a cruel man who would deprive his horse of a roll and a gallop in the meadow. So he is a cruel man who does not care for the recreation of the poor. You may murder a man's life as effectually by destroying hope and happiness out of it, as by cutting his throat.

τὰς γὰρ ἡδονὰς

ὅταν προδῶσιν ἀτινδρὲς, οὐ πθημ' ἐγὼ γῆν τοῦτον, ἀλλ' ἔμψυχον ἡγοῦμαι νεκρὸν. Labour is a duty for us all; but labour is a duty, because it is not a pleasure, but the curse; and though we undertake it cheerfully ourselves, we ought to do all we can to mitigate it for others. Now, I maintain that the almost entire disappearance of the innocent pleasures of the poor from the face of our country, is owing to two things. The first is, that Puritanical leaven which has remained by us ever since the so-called reign of the saints, as a meet punishment for the crimes of that epoch; poisoning our social happiness, embittering our domestic relationships, infecting the very current of our ideas, and showing itself often when we least expect it, as ineradicable as those livid stains in the marble, which seem, from time to time, to come from the interior to the surface, on purpose to spoil the pure beauty of the Ariadne of Dannecker. The second is the unwarlike spirit of utilitarianism. When the nation was a nation of warriors, and every peasant was an archer, as every gentleman was a man-at-arms, and even the Cockneys had a military organisation, then did the necessity of warlike exercising produce merry-makings

innumerable. Those were the days of dances on the green, shooting-matches, maypoles, music, and madrigals. It seems now as if May-day had changed its nature, because it has ceased to be honoured. England was merry England then, instead of being, as it is now, the land of the seldom-smiling, where men breathe the atmosphere of Trophonius' cave. If our young yeomen were all rifles, and our gentlemen mounted rifles, those times might come round again. But, firstly, your men of peace must be put down.

IRENEUS.-Why sigh for the restoration of vanities?

TLEPOLEMUS.-Have you no vanities? What are your expensive dinners, your curiously ventilated houses, your stuffed carriages with ascent between the wheels, your cushioned dormitories called pews, your public meetings, but vanities? I cannot help thinking a shooting-match in the open air, refreshed by a moderate consumption of sound ale or cider, infinitely less a vanity than a spoutingmatch in an atmosphere of carbonic acid, enlivened by the indefinite consumption of human pig's-wash, called bad tea. But you men of peace would keep your vanities to yourselves, and let the poor have none, at least of an innocent kind, for they have vanities of another. Hence it is that young Hodge has no other idea of pleasure but that of nocturnally stupefying himself with Cocculus indicus, under the name of beer, till he finds he cannot get money to drink fast enough; and then poor Mary, who has been pining at home, is dragged to the altar" by a brute beast that hath no understanding," who wants a slave and not a wife, to wash that he may swill; and utter misery ensues, which is only modified by the Act for aggravated assaults removing her, for a time, from the power of her tyrant. This is the state of things brought about by you men of peace among the labouring classes. Man's pleasures are only of the vilest character, while woman's have been utterly abolished. I am now going to make a bold assertion; but as there are no ladies to hear me, I am not afraid of being tossed in a blanket. I do think that the philosophy of the teapot is for men, whatever it be for women,


a false philosophy; and that no good ever came of public meetings inangurated with libations of tea. We know that the only goddesses of old who would have no wine offered to them, were the Faries. I do not object to tea as a sort of consolatory medicine; but I do object to it as a source of inspiration. I cannot see much good in a thing that is out of the pale of poetry. Some have tried to make tea-songs; but their kettle did it much better. Their Te-Deums were inexpressibly tedious.

IRENEUS-But is not tea the beverage of the Celestials?

TLEPOLEMUS.-Don't try to be a humourist; it is not your line. I suppose you will say that Hebe poured out tea next, when the text expressly says Pékrap éwroyo, proving nectar to have been a wine, probably as hard to get anywhere but at gods' tables, as Schloss Johannisberg is anywhere but at courts. But I'll venture to say, if she did make tea, that her husband would have none of it. He could never have got through his twelve labours upon it. But tea was certainly not nectar, because it is a godless drink. Bacchus was the god of wine, Ceres the goddess of oivos κpiliòs, or malt-liquor. Prometheus may have been the cider-god, for he was bound in the land of orionposσidnpoμntwp ala; and Pales may have been not impossibly the goddess of pale ale.

IRENEUS.-There I have you on the hip. She may just as well have been the goddess of tea. Does not Virgil say, "Te quoque, magna Pales?"

TLEPOLEMUS.-I will tell Mrs Irenæus of that pun when I go back ; you shall catch it, you backslider. But as to the Chinese Celestials, of whom you thought first, they send us tea vindictively, because we send them opium. Tea is considered a medicine, and not a beverage, all over the continent of Europe, and, before the continent was Anglicised, was so little understood in some parts that on one occasion the leaves were served up to Mr and Mrs Bull, the decoction having been thrown away. But medicine and poison are the same in Greek and the same in Homœopathy. Thus, our real national enemies are

not the Russians, still less the French, but the Chinese. If we do not hate each other like poison, we do much the same; we poison each other like hate. For all this, I say nothing against tea as a medicine, but I repadiate it as a source of inspiration. Wine has been a stereotyped inspirer of poets. Even water has done its part in spite of Horace. Does not Pindar say it is the best thing? Water is sister of wine, and not its antago nist. There is plenty of poetry in water, and painters can do nothing without it. Its presence is the life of the country, and countrifies the town. Those two words, "living water," are instinct with beauty. How we pity the poor Londoners, and all such as are obliged to drink it dead! Water for ever! if you will-not tea. Burns immortalises John Barleycorn; Byron "the sober berry" and the "sublime" weed; but tea has found no poet to praise it but poor Cowper, who had all the pluck knocked out of him at Eton, and was embittered into rather old-ladylike tastes. We have heard of generous wine and pure water-we have heard of "holy water;"-but who ever heard of boly tea? Tea is essentially heretical and heterodox, associated with Anti-CornLaw meetings, Rights of Woman meetings, Schism, Bloomerism, Mesmerism, Mormonism, and every other abomination. Irenæus, I shall begin to hope to see you at church when I hear that you have given up drinking tea.

IRENEUS.-You have launched out into a sea of tea, and have not yet proved men of peace cruel. All your history, as I said before, is out.

TLEPOLEMUS.-Not quite. What do you say to the doings of those men of peace who took possession of North America? There was satire in the man who said, "When the French colonise, the first thing they do is to build a fort; when the Spaniards do, the first thing they set up is a church; when the British do, the first thing they set up is a tavern or a shop." That so-called treaty with the Indians was abominable cruelty. If your broad-brimmed ancestors had attacked them with rifle and bowieknife, as their descendants do, it would have been intelligible to the red-skins,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

but the war of the ledger and the firewaters they did not understand. If they had, the result would have been different. The scalp-locks which grew under the broad-brims would soon have ornamented the leggings of the Strong Wind, or Black Eagle, or Oiled Lightning, Chiefs of the Cherokees, or have dangled from the flounces of their squaws. It was this fear of being scalped that was the probable cause of that main article of religion of the Quakers, the ungerman custom of wearing the hat in all presences. Your grandfathers did it to keep temptation out of the sight of the Indians. The Turks curse, by wishing one's soul as little repose as the hat of a German; they might bless, by wishing it as much as the hat of a Quaker enjoys. Perhaps this custom, so unnecessary now, is a sort of penance for the wrongs done the poor Indians, when they were cheated out of their birthright for red cloth and beads, which their squaws probably would not let them refuse. Poor fellows, they little thought, when they gave up a few acres of their hunting-grounds to the plough, it would end by their being elbowed into the setting sun. It is a favourite maxim with our political economists, that men have no right to inhabit the earth, unless they cut it all up-that they have no right to live, unless they are settled. But the sons of Ishmael have a divine right to be unsettled; and is not the desert theirs to this day?

But what right have you to say that a red nobleman may not keep his buffalo-drives or wild-turkey covers to himself, just as much as a white nobleman may preserve his game on his own ground here at home? Because you are no sportsmen yourselves, can you be satisfied with nothing short of making an end of sport? for I dare say, in your hearts, you want to do the same at home. Tastes differ. One man likes to live with a million others, and breathe with them foul air, and drink with them filthy water; another likes to live with nature, and in the country which God made, preferring the song of the bird to the squeak of the mouse, and "the blue vault of heaven, with its cresset so pale," to the gas-lighted

and yellow-feverish air of manufacturing towns. I say that the tastes of such a man ought to be respected. You have no right to civilise him against his will. And I should like to know who is most civil-the red gentleman, smoking the pipe of peace in his wigwam, or the yellow snob chewing tobacco in his store? Try them both by asking for a night's lodging. Irenæus, do you call scientific men emphatically men of peace?

IRENEUS.-Yes, in that they are scientific, decidedly. Prince Rupert himself was a man of peace so far as he was scientific.

TLEPOLEMUS.-Good! A book fell into my hands lately. It gave an account of the effects of different poisons injected into the veins of living dogs, cats, and rabbits; describing with apparent zest-at all events with minute interest-the agonies of the poor beasts, which generally terminated in death. It seems to me that he who could inflict such misery on that noblest of animals, the semihuman dog, might have been put in the dock with the wretch who appeared in a London police - court, charged with roasting a cat alive. Now, do you think any soldier could have written that book? You do not answer. I am sure you agree with me.

There are other occupations which harden man's heart more than war. I say that the man who could have done that for the sake of science, was

"A fingering slave,

One who would peep and botanise Upon his mother's grave,"

after having dissected her first for the sake of science. No soldier could have written that, or sportsman either; for a sportsman is only a warrior out of work, and his worst cruelties are accidental.

IRENEUS.-That is a new field for us to fight on. But the night is getting cold. I am shaken, but not convinced. Let us to my inn; we will hear it out there.

TLEPOLEMUS.-So be it. We will meet again at Philippi, without parting now. Let me take your arm.

I took his arm, for he is taller and bigger than I am. As we strolled round the harbour, our attention was

« AnteriorContinuar »