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So far, then, as proving a negative goes, his lordship, we think, has the advantage. The instances fail in which his antagonists try to establish a want of promptitude and ingenuity. But, on the other hand, he does not prove himself to have displayed those qualities. The noble horses that broke through the Russian squadrons at Balaklava as deer break through the broom-the gallant greys, the glistening bays, "whose necks were clothed with thunder, who said among the trumpets Ha ha! who went forth to meet the armed men," have rotted on the plain which shook beneath their charge. Possibly a man of extreme promptitude and ingenuity might have saved them, but the means of their salvation have not been incontestibly indicated; and had Lord Lucan been notoriously such a man, he might still, for all that has transpired, have been unequal to the struggle with the ele
assault each other, and engage in a conflict, at the termination of which nothing would be left of these aristocratic Kilkenny cats but the tails.
This promising programme, as we had sketched it for the occasion, was, however, totally different from his real course. In place of adopting Ercles' vein, "a vein to tear a cat in, to make all split," he delivered himself, not only like a man of this world, but a very meek and reasonable man of this world, saying that he had never solicited any inquiry, and confining himself to refuting a statement in the Report, which certainly does not amount to a charge, to the effect that he had declined to let the horses of his brigade fetch their own forage.
Next came Lord Cardigan-and we must confess our disappointment at not finding his lordship so entertaining as we expected. The animadversion he had to complain of was so slight, that it could hardly be considered an animadversion at all, and therefore his exculpation was not likely to be particularly interesting, and thus far we did not anticipate much amusement. But remembering his Lordship's appetite for the monstrari digito, his lofty self-importance, and the sonorous energy with which the trumpet blown by himself lately resounded through the world, we expected to see him make the fullest use of the present opportunity for display. Arrayed like another distinguished errant, in pasteboard helmet, and armour somewhat out of date, we expected to see him go forth on his Rosinante, "the horse on which his lordship led the celebrated charge at Balaklava," to attack innumerable windmills, to combat many vast but shadowy giants, to complain bitterly of envious enchanters, and to scatter whole flocks of sheep. Finally, we entertained some dim expectation that, chancing to meet in his career his brother complainant Lord Lucan, the noble blood of both heated by the contest, they would incontinently
We have said we think Colonel Tulloch indiscreet in appearing as the defender of the Report, which, made at the instance of, and published by the Government, might be considered as their adopted child, and which, if it be defended at all, should have received Ministerial support and protection. Considering that the Government had been pressing in its solicitations to at least one of the Commissioners to undertake a difficult, invidious, and delicate office; that though in ill health he complied; and that the Commission spared no labour in its investigations, we think a prompt and warm recognition of its services might fairly have been expected. Instead of that, the official statement of the Minister of War on the subject, certainly left the public under the impression that the Report was itself to be impeached in the Court of Inquiry; and Colonel Tulloch found the task of publicly defending it so full of anxiety and trouble, that his health gave way, and the inquiry was eventually concluded in his absence.
General Airey's reply may be briefly summed up. Its essence consisted in showing that the Commissioners had imputed blame to his department for not issuing supplies in store, when its province lay not in the issue but the apportionment of these supplies. He called one of his assistants to prove that the Report is inaccurate in the quantities of clothing stated to be in store at particular
dates. He showed that requisitions for clothing, so far from being refused, were generally in the possession of regiments long before they were able to render them available, and that to the oft-quoted want of transport alone was due the fact that those stores remained unissued. No official barrier was, he says, raised between the men and the supplies; on the contrary, the issues of clothing were authorised very much faster than the men could draw it. He rightly observes that, in the altered state of affairs existing in the middle of March, it was impossible for any two persons, whether civilians or military men, fully to appreciate the position of the army in the midst of the unheard-of difficulties of the winter, and concludes by a picture of the condition of the troops, and the causes of distress and perplexity by which they were surrounded.
The reader of the Report and Inquiry will possess as much information on the subject of the campaign as will enable him to draw his own conclusions. The reader of this paper will, we hope, have a fair idea of the Report and Inquiry. A careful comparison of the statements contained in both has confirmed us in the opinion, formed long ago, that, the army once before Sebastopol, no arrangement or foresight within the scope of human means could have averted, to any extent, the disasters which followed. While bearing testimony to the patience and sagacity with which the Commissioners investigated the circumstances of the army, and to the general correctness of their facts in all important particulars, we think the inference to be drawn from the Reports, that blame may be justly affixed in specified quarters, cannot be sustained. The fact that the different departments of the army have their proper limits seems in some measure to have been lost sight of by the Commissioners, as well as by the public, whose complaints all appear to us to have been based on the error that everybody ought to understand and interfere in the business of everybody else as well as his own. No commander-in-chief would wish to see such a system of interchange of duties substituted for the restricted
and specific sphere of operations and responsibility allotted to each department. To perform the duties of his own branch is all that can be expected from an officer; and it is the province of the superintending intelfect, which knows the instruments it works with, to combine all in harmonious action.
While showing that to undertake the siege was to brave great and inevitable distresses, we nevertheless rejoice that the siege was undertaken. Our own losses, though great, were nothing in comparison with those inflicted on the enemy, by forcing him to carry on the war at such a distance from his resources, and with such a country as the Crimea intervening. Thus, and thus only, could be attained the result we behold; Russia, at the end of one campaign, compelled to accept the terms dictated by the Allies.
While we write, the tents which whiten the plains of Sebastopol are disappearing like dissolving snow : each day sees roods of the plateau restored to the dominion of desolation. To prove that practice and material alone were wanting to render our departments effective, we need only look back on the past winter in the Crimea, where our troops have lived in comfort, plenty, and extraordinary health, while our allies, notwithstanding the oft-quoted superiority of their military system, experienced severe suffering and loss. That army, which would have begun another campaign in a state of unrivalled completeness, is about to be dissolved for ever; already its regiments are landing, some in distant colonies, some in England, while the militia, which garrisoned our fortresses, are once more absorbed into the general population. Seeing the indifference with which this great change is viewed, and the apathy with which the announcement for the reduction of the army is listened to, we would impress once more the moral, which, in anticipation of the Board's verdict, we draw from the Report we have been discussing. That moral is, that all the suffering and calamity, not absolutely inevitable, which befell our troops, were caused by the nation itself, which
O'er the forest she throws a diamond shower,
O'er the ash, and the fir, and the wild rose-tree; With elf-woven domes she roofs the bower
Where sleeps the young anemone.
When once she has clasped the earth, like true love
A visitant all too pure for earth,
Early she fades in her virgin day,
And her spirit floats back to the clime of her birth,
THE ATHELINGS; OR, THE THREE GIFTS.
It was made into a parcel, duly packed and tied up; not in a delicate wrapper, or with pretty ribbons, as perhaps the affectionate regard of Agnes might have suggested, but in the commonest and most matter-offact parcel imaginable. But by that time it began to be debated whether Charlie, after all, was a sufficiently dignified messenger. He was only a boy-that was not to be disputed; and Mrs Atheling did not think him at all remarkable for his "manners," and papa doubted whether he was able to manage a matter of business. But, then, who could go?-not the girls certainly, and not their mother, who was somewhat timid out of her own house. Mr Atheling could not leave his office; and really, after all their objections, there was nobody but Charlie, unless it was Mr Foggo, whom Agnes would by no means consent to employ. So they brushed their big boy, as carefully as Moses Primrose was brushed before he went to the fair, and gave him strict injunctions to look as grave, as sensible, and as old as possible. All these commands Charlie received with perfect coolness, hoisting his parcel under his arm, and remaining entirely unmoved by the excitement around him. "I know well enoughdon't be afraid," said Charlie; and he strode off like a young ogre, carrying Agnes's fortune under his arm. They all went to the window to look after him with some alarm and some hope; but though they were troubled for his youth, his abruptness, and his want of " manners," there was exhilaration in the steady ring of Charlie's manful foot, and his own entire and undoubting confidence. On he went, a boyish giant, to throw down that slender gage and challenge of the young genius to all the world; meanwhile they returned to their private occupations, this little group of women, excited, doubtful, much expecting, marvel
ling over and over again what Mr Burlington would say. Such an eminence of lofty criticism and censorship these good people, upon this morning, recognised in the position of Mr Burlington! He seemed to hold in his hands the universal key which opened everything: fame, honour, and reward, at that moment, appeared to these simple minds to be mere vassals of his pleasure; and all the balance of the future, as Agnes fancied, lay in the doubtful chance whether he was propitious or unpropitious. Simple imaginations! Mr Burlington, at that moment taking off his top-coat, and placing his easychair where no draught could reach it, was about as innocent of literature as Charlie Atheling himself.
But Charlie, who had to go to "the office" after he fulfilled his mission, could not come home till the evening; so they had to be patient in spite of themselves. The ordinary occupations of the day in Bellevue were not very novel, nor very interesting. Mrs Atheling had ambition, and aimed at gentility; so, of course, they had a piano. The girls had learned a very little music; and Marian and Agnes, when they were out of humour, or disinclined for serious occupation, or melancholy (for they were melancholy sometimes in the "prodigal excess" of their youth and happiness), were wont to bethink themselves of the much-neglected "practising," and spend a stray hour upon it with most inconsistent and variable zeal. This day there was a great deal of "practising"-indeed, these wayward girls divided their whole time between the piano and the garden, which was another recognised safety-valve. Mamma had not the heart to chide them; instead of that, her face brightened to hear the musical young voices, the low sweet laughter, the echo of their flying feet through the house and on the garden paths. As she
sat at her work in her snug sittingroom, with Bell and Beau playing at her feet, and Agnes and Marian playing too, as truly, and with as pure and spontaneous delight, good Mrs Atheling was very happy. She did not say a word that any one could hear-but God knew the atmosphere of unspoken and unspeakable gratitude, which was the very breath of this good woman's heart. When Charlie came home, though he came earlier than papa, and there was full opportunity to interrogate him-Charlie, we are grieved to say, was not very satisfactory in his communications. "Yes," said Charlie, "I saw him: I don't know if it was the head-man: of course, I asked for Mr Burlington and he took the parcel -that's all."
"That's all-you little savage!" cried Marian, who was not half as big as Charlie. "Did he say he would be glad to have it? Did he ask who had written it? What did he Bay?"
Are you sure it was Mr Burlington?" said Agnes. "Did he look pleased? What do you think he thought? What did you say to him? Charlie, boy, tell us what you said?" "I won't tell you a word, if you press upon me like that," said the big boy. Sit down and be quiet. Mother, make them sit down. I don't know if it was Mr Burlington; I don't think it was: it was a washy man, that never could have been head of that place. He took the papers, and made a face at me, and said, Are they your own?' I said 'No' plain enough; and then he looked at the first page, and said they must be left. So I left them. Well, what was a man to do? Of
course, that is all."
"What do you mean by making a face at you, boy?" said the watchful mother. I do trust, Charlie, my dear, you were careful how to behave, and did not make any of your faces at him."
"Oh, it was only a smile," said Charlie, with again a grotesque imitation. 666 Are they your own?'meaning I was just a boy to be laughed at, you know-I should think so! As if I could not make an end of half-a-dozen like him.".
"Don't brag, Charlie," said Marian, "and don't be angry about the gentleman, you silly boy; he always must have something on his mind different from a lad like you."
Charlie laughed with grim satisfaction. "He hasn't a great deal on his mind, that chap," said the big boy; "but I wouldn't be him, set up there for no end but reading rubbish -not for-five hundred a-year."
Now, we beg to explain that five hundred a-year was a perfectly magnificent income to the imagination of Bellevue. Charlie could not think at the moment of any greater inducement.
"Reading rubbish! And he has Agnes's book to read!" cried Marian. That was indeed an overpowering anti-climax.
"Yes, but how did he look? Do you think he was pleased? And will it be sure to come to Mr Burlington safe?" said Agnes. Agnes could not help having a secret impression that there might be some plot against this book of hers, and that everybody knew how important it was.
Why, he looked as other people look who have nothing to say," said Charlie; " and I had nothing to say-so we got on together. And he said it looked original-much he could tell from the first page! And so, of course, I came away-they're to write when they've read it over. I tell you, that's all. I don't believe it was Mr Burlington; but it was the man that does that sort of thing, and so it was all the same."
This was the substance of Charlie's report. He could not be prevailed upon to describe how this important critic looked, or if he was pleased, or anything about him. He was washy man, Charlie said; but the obstinate boy would not even explain what washy meant, so they had to leave the question in the hands of time to bring elucidation to it. They were by no means patient; many and oft-repeated were the attacks upon Charlie-many the wonderings over the omnipotent personage who had the power of this decision in his keeping; but in the mean time, and for sundry days and weeks following, these hasty girls had to wait,
and to be content.