« PreviousContinue »
imperishably associated with the most heroic achievements on one of India's bloodiest battle-fields. Were there no other reasons, the single one that Colonel Mountain, at the head of his brigade, stormed the centre and captured there the Artillery of the enemy in the battle of Chillianwallah, would be sufficient to claim for him, that his name should not willingly be let die. We are sure therefore that the memoir of him by his widow, will be received with general satisfaction.
With the exception of his service in the first China, and second Punjab wars, the career of Colonel Mountain was not marked by much of varied incident or exciting adventure. He entered the army in a time of peace, in 1815, after the close of the great continental war, and first saw active service in 1810 in China. His father was Bishop of Quebec, a man of high character and ability; and the hallowed influence of his training and example, his soldier son seemed to have carried with him throughout life. Born in 1797, Armine Mountain entered the army at the age of eighteen, served successively with the 96th, 52nd, 76th and 26th regiments, and arrived in India in 1829. Previous to this, he had been in Nova Scotia, England, Ireland, and the Island of Jersey. His life had been that of an ac. tive and conscientious officer, an affectionate son and brother, and an upright and honorable man. His first impressions of India contain in them, nothing particularly noticeable by people in this country, save perhaps a disposition to deal somewhat more gently with the natives with whom he came in contact than is often the case. For about a year, he was stationed in the Presidency of Madras, and was then removed with his regiment to Calcutta. After a few weeks in Bengal, the 26th marched to Meerut, and whilst stationed there, he renewed his acquaintance with the late Lord Dalhousie, then Commander-inChief, and also made the acquaintance of Lord and Lady William Bentinck, of whom he frequently speaks with the warmest affection and respect. Shortly after he proceeded to Bombay, as Military Secretary to Sir Colin Halkett, held that office till Sir Colin's recall, and then returned to Bengal as Aide-de-Camp to the Governor-General. In 1835, he visited England, in the hope of obtaining promotion to the rank of Lieut.-Colonel, but in this he failed, and returned to India two years after. Whilst at home, he had the sad consolation of being present at his mother's death, whom he seems to have loved with the tenderest affection. He had married and brought his wife to India, but his prospects of domestic happiness were soon marred by his wife's untimely death. His only remaining solace was the little daughter which his wife had borne him. This child died two years afterwards, at the commencement of a voyage to England. Her father was not with her, and there is something very beautiful and touching in the expression of his feelings when he heard of his loss. Writing to his sister, he says :
“ It is a bitter thought that you never even saw her ; that the wide sea is drifting her little bones I know not whither! That only one • brief week after I had been permitted to embark her with so much ' thought, and care, and hope, and thankful confidence, my sweet child
died, before she had learnt to love or even rightly knew her father,
-but this is weakness. God knows best. It was no doubt best • for you, for her : and at that day,' wherever I may be, she will surely be yielded up by the wide waters, and be numbered by her Saviour amongst the Angels of God.”
Having been appointed Adjutant General of the China force, he sailed from Calcutta in April, 1840, along with a party of staff officers, and after encountering what appears to have been a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, he reached the scene of War. Throughout this, we do not mean to follow him ; suffice it to say, that in one action he was severely wounded, having received three musket balls, and that he seems to have discharged his duties so adınirably, as to draw from the Duke of Wellington, subsequently, the remark, when a list of the officers who had served in this war, was laid before him, and he laid his finger upon Colonel Mountain's name, “ this man has * done his work remarkably well; I should like to do something
There is one thing however which we feel inclined to notice in Colonel Mountain's Correspondence, during the continuance of this war. We are well aware that it is the duty of a soldier simply to obey orders, and to sink his personality in his military allegiance; and that if it be a right thing for a man to enter an army, and a right thing for an army to be maintained, the responsibility of wrongdoing on a great scale, such as we sometimes see, rests not with subordinates, but with those at the head of affairs. We say therefore that if it be a right thing, as we think it is, for an army to be maintained to guard the interests of a kingdom, and if it be a right and justifiable thing that qualified men should take service in it, and if it be necessary that in this army, perfect discipline be maintained, as of course it is, then we do not see that the responsibility for the way in which it is employed, can rest any where but with the controlling power; and we do not see that for one individual wrong use of this army, the subordinate members are responsible. Were an army to be deprived of the services of all its conscientious members, every time the moral rightness of a war came to be a question, then it is not easy to see how it could exist for the accomplishment of those ends for which it was right that it should be embodied. It is a simple fact that very decided opinions have been held by many of our countrymen as to the morality of these China wars ; that whilst all have felt that outrages had been committed upon the English flag, and upon the persons and property of Englishmen, many have been satisfied that we were both actively and passively the aggressors. True it is that Englishmen had been maltreated, and their property seized; but why? Simply because they would not cease from a traffic which was in transgression of the laws of the Chinese empire, and would not withdraw from the country of the Chinese, when required to do so. We look in vain to the principle of commercial reciprocity, so often alleged as a justification of such a line of conduct. If it justify our forcing our traffic upon the Chinese, it must equally justify the French or the Russians in forcing their traffic upon us, or demanding our traffic for them. Supposing that SEPT., 1857.
Russia, acting upon the principle of commercial reciprocity, said it is right and fair that she should have some of England's machinery, or some of England's Enfield rifles, and sent her legions to our shores to secure compliance with this demand, would we still think commercial reciprocity a sound principle, and that we have nothing to complain of, provided we get Russian flax and tallow and corn? We would undoubtedly simply say, we Englishmen have a right to say to whom we shall sell, and of whom we shall buy, and what we shall sell and what we shall buy. Until England shall cease to be powerful and free, never will she hold any other principle.
But it may be said, how can England pass over the insults she has suffered again and again from the Chinese ;—for these she must have redress. We say, and we say it with a blush on our cheek, that England is shewing in the present day, a considerable power for pocketing insults. It may be a right thing for the sake of humanity to refrain from going to war with America, but every man knows that if America had been a third or fourth-rate power, the insults which of late she has haughtily heaped upon England, would have been pronounced an unavoidable cause of war. If for the sake of humanity, England can quietly submit to her ambassadors being ignominiously dismissed, her ministers receiving something very like the lie in their teeth, her subjects having their property wantonly destroyed, and their houses bombarded, and her own flag upon her consul's dwelling torn down, and the dwelling itself destroyed ;-if England for the sake of humanity can pocket all this at the hands of a civilized people, is it too much to expect her to be magnanimous enough to forget the insults of a half-civilized people, whose military power she never meets but to crush-insults which it cannot be denied Englishmen originally provoked ?
So much for these Chinese wars, in the first of which Colonel Mountain was engaged. What we wonder at in his journals and correspondence is this : not the absence of any feeling of personal responsibility for the carrying on of this war; that we acquit him of all obligation to feel. But we meet with such passages as the following:
“ Albeit we may leave China inglorious, and the English may still be subject to insults in the course of trade, I am yet disposed to ' consider this expedition as the era whence the regeneration of China, ' and ultimate prevalence of the true faith, may be dated,” p. 180.
“ I have from the first been inclined to consider our expedition as 'the epoch of better days for China, and to believe, however unworthy " the instruments, that this is the commencement of the ultimate
conversion of a race, which has been so many ages a distinct portion of the human family," p. 190.
“ To see however a crowd of Mandarins in their cumbrous boots, ' long petticoats, and conical caps with their distinctive balls and
peacocks' feathers, like beings of another planet mingling in amity on the quarter deck of a British ship, with our military and naval officers, was a sight novel and striking, which led the mind to future ' visions of God's purposes, and to the hope that the day was an era
of blessing to China, and to our own country also, being chosen as a means of blessing to a new world,” p. 211.
These passages occur amid descriptions of what were the chief incidents of the war, in which of course by far the most striking were the carnage committed by our troops, and the yet greater and more frightful carnage committed by the Chinese themselves upon their own families. Most of our readers, we presume, have read descriptions of those awful scenes of blood, in which a despairing people, in the madness of their misery, took wholesale the lives of those dearest to them, in order to save them from the disgrace and horrors which they believed awaited. Passing cases in which the feeble and helpless fell under the fire of the British, as e. g., p. 195, and such passages as that in p. 198, where Colonel Mountain says, “ The head of the enemy's ' thousands met our handful of men, and in a few minutes the street
was choked with a pile of slain, extending hip-deep for about thirty yards." “We followed up the pursuit for seven miles, inflicting a great deal of loss upon the retreating enemy.
It became a regular chase after the first brush, during which the Chinese stood ' well, and their killed were scattered over the country for miles • round !”—we come to such passages as the following:
** At length finding the struggle hopeless, they set to and murdered their fami
lies, cutting their wives' throats and throwing their children down ' wells, and then in many cases committed suicide. You cannot ' imagine a more frightful scene,” p. 205. * “A more pitia
ble scene than the gates of Chin Kiangfoo presented for several days-after the capture, has seldom perhaps been witnessed. The storming of the town, the blowing in of the west gate, the
struggles within the walls, the frightful murders in the Tartar city, ' the continual fires,--some lit by us, some by the Tartars in their fury,
some by the population in thirst for plunder,-completed the panic of the people, who were already excited by the Tartar commanders
having shut the gates previous to our arrival, and denied them ' egress. Sir Hugh was very unwilling to coerce them, and gave ' orders that free egress and ingress should be given, and no moles'tation offered to the peaceable inhabitants. The whole population ' poured out, from dawn to dark for several days, in one continuous
stream. There were to be seen females of every age and degree, ' from the time-worn cripple to the infant at the breast; many a
weeping mother staggering under the weight of a couple of fright• ed children ;
many young and old evidently unaccustomed ' to go abroad, tottering forth under a sun at 140°—where ?-to seek
a precarious shelter in the country, and subsist on charity, in many cases to die by the way side !" “As we were leaving the place, an officer called my
attention to a well in the outer court. It was full of young Tartar girls - recently drowned. The two upper ones were comely young women,
apparently of the higher class, with handsome gold ear-rings in ' their ears, and their hair neatly dressed.
I observed two · Tartar soldiers walking under a wall with a large tank on their left ' at some distance from us. Our leading men fired, and I called out
' to cease firing, as I thought I saw a woman, and presently a line
of women and children following the men, were visible. We fired no more, but the women forced their children's heads under; the men performed this office for the women, and then ducked themselves, and so the whole party was drowned !”
Amid such scenes as these, and many more, even more horrible, as described in the pages of the defenders of the war, a Christian officer could hope that this was “the era whence the regeneration • of China might be dated !" “ The commencement of the ultimate
conversion of the race!!" "an era of blessing to China and to our own country also, being chosen as a means of blessing to a new I world !!!" Because the Chinese would not receive our opium in obedience to "the principle of commercial reciprocity,” and had intimated this somewhat irregularly and summarily, war had broken out, and we were now visiting them with the utmost horrors of fire and sword, slaying them in thousands, entailing misery upon tens and hundreds of thousands, driving them in their madness to perpetrate even greater horrors amongst themselves. Yet we were the bearers to them of regeneration and conversion, the chosen means of blessing to them! We believe in the sincere piety of Colonel Mountain, but we deplore the perverting and blinding influence of this miserable war, so that even a good and brave man could persuade himself that the perpetrators of these atrocities upon an unhappy people, who would not receive the poison forced upon them, were those whom God would choose to be the bearers to them of gospel blessings. We question not the sovereignty of God, who often chooses the most unworthy instruments to accomplish his purposes; but we can hardly expect, that after these opium wars, England will be honoured to play a very large part in the conversion of China to the faith of Christ.
We gladly turn to note two incidents beautifully illustrative of the self-denying generosity of Colonel Mountain's character. Sir Hugh Gough had otfered to send him with his despatches, announce ing the close of the war to England, and this would have secured to him the rank of full Colonel. Before he had accepted this offer, a young officer came to Colonel Mountain, and begged him to use his influence with Sir Hugh to send him home with the despatches, pointing out how important the step of rank would be to him. Colonel Mountain, without mentioning his own prospects, promised to recommend him to the General. The young officer was sent home with the despatches, and received in consequence the rank of Major, whilst Colonel Mountain waited three years before the rank of Queen's A. D. C. was conferred upon
him. Subsequently Sir Hugh, on hearing that he was to be appointed Commander-in-Chief in India, proposed that Colonel Mountain should be his Military Secretary. This appointment was in every way suited to Colonel Mountain, and his personal attachment to Sir Hugh would have made it very agreeable to him; but the previous evening, a nephew of Sir Hugh Gough's had confided to him his desire to fill this situation. Colonel Mountain therefore thanked