« PreviousContinue »
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. 9., 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
“ 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 families, 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 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
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, announcing 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
the General for his kindness, but declined his offer, on the ground that he did not wish to interfere with his nephew's prospects.
In 1813, Colonel Mountain returned to England, married a second time in 18415, and, having been offered by Lord Dalhousie, who had become Governor-General of India, the appointment of Military Secretary, accepted it and arrived in Calcutta in January, 1848. The second Sikh War breaking out almost immediately after, he applied for and received leave to join his regiment (the 29th, into which he had exchanged) in the field. On reaching Head Quarters, he received command of a brigade in the division of General Gilbert, consisting of his own, the 29th Queen's, and the 13th and 30th N. I. We find him writing as follows:
“ November 9, Gunda Singh Wala. “Here I am for the second time, not as visitor, but as head of a camp of three regiments, extending over the plain, and containing
about 3,000 fighting men ; but perhaps not less than 11,000 human ' beings of one sort or another. My General of division, however, ' not far from me, that is with the C.-in-C. about a mile to the rear. 'We move to Kupoor to-morrow. . We marched at four from the ' 29th barracks, my two native corps coming up in rear.
It was a ' beautiful moonlight, and the band was inspiring ...... We had to * ford the first branch of the river, which is only ankle-deep, and ' then came to the bridges, where there was an immense crush of ' cattle and followers. The General had stopped to let the brigade pass, and the bands played as they passed. On crossing the second bridge, General Gilbert, who was on the bank, welcomed me to the Punjab. He is a fine frank soldier-like fellow, and I am very glad to be in his division......"
By the death of Colonel Cureton in the action at Ramnuggur, the office of Adjutant-General of H. M.'s forces had become vacant, and it was offered by Lord Gough to Colonel Mountain, subject of course to the approval of the Duke of Wellington. Lord Dalhousie also wrote to him:
“If the Commander-in-Chief (as I conceive he will) should offer you the succession to the Adjutant-General's Commission, do not
let any consideration of me lead you to decline what would be so ' much for your interest I need not assure you of my confidence ' and attachment, and of my pleasure therefore, in your continued
service with me personally ; but I hope, I need as little assure you
of my greater pleasure in seeing your interests substantially pro' moted in official, though less close connection with myself.”
Lord Gough's offer was gratefully accepted, but it was arranged that Colonel Mountain should retain command of his brigade till the answer from the Horse Guard was received,
The battle of Chillianwallah was fought on the 13th January, 1849. On the following day, Colonel Mountain wrote to Lord Dalhousie :
" MY DEAR LORD “We marched from Lussoorie on the 12th, and reached ground, the name of which I forget, after a march of six and a half hours. We
' marched again yesterday, 13th, in order of battle, and about
noon had a scrimmage with the advanced post of the Sikh, who was
soon induced to abandon it after a salute from our heavy guns. We " then formed up, and a head-quarter officer told me in passing,
Major Mackeson has persuaded the chief not to attack to-day, ' and our baggage was ordered up from the rear, but about half-past
one, the Sikh opened the ball with artillery ; our heavy guns were then thrown forward, and replied. My brigade was lying down in line, the round shot toddling spent were picked up, and hurt only two
After a time, the chief passed down and said, " Advance," so up and forward was the word. We had what is the severest 'trial for infantry, to charge against grape through jungle. The
Sikh had brought his field guns into the jungle, dug trenches, ' which were evidently_fresh, for his matchlock men, and supported " them by cavalry. I had not gone 100 yards before I lost sight
of any superior officer, as well as of any support, but we pushed
on till we had taken the last gun in our front, on the skirt of “the jungle. The Sikh cavalry were on the open to my right
front, and if I had had cavalry, I might have swept them be" before me, but as the enemy were all about the jungle and on my
flanks, I could not advance further, and after a time, I got an order ' to move to my left to support General Campbell. Thus the guns that we had taken, were left to be carried off by others. We brought away two however, and the rest I believe were brought away by spare horses from the artillery. I can give no account of the whole, as in such a jungle, each brigade, and in some cases each regiment, had to act for itself. My loss has been heavy, it has pleased God to spare me, but I grieve for officers of my brigade,
and for men too, though I do not yet know the number. The ' 24th Queen's suffered severely! Brigadier Pennycuick, Colonel · Brooke, and one of the Majors, killed ; Brigadier General Campbell * wounded ; Major Ekins, D. A. G., killed.
“ After the enemy had been driven back and had disappeared, it was near night fall, and we had to come back here, the line of the
Sikh advanced post, for water. It was quite dark before we arrived, ' and we had to bivouac as we could. We lay on the ground without
covering, shelter, or food. Fortunately we had only two or three slight showers, the heavy rain having kept off till after we got our tents this morning, and we are now all comfortable. The chief intended to have pushed his advantage this morning, but a report came that the enemy had abandoned their camp ;-happily, · for if we had advanced, and been caught in this heavy rain after " the fatigues and losses of yesterday, the troops would have suffered
much. The Chief was pleased to say on the ground last night, " that my brigade had done its duty well."
Upon the folly which prompted, and the blind inconsiderateness which planned this disastrous battle,--a battle which was utterly barren in results, and which yet cost England many of her noblest sons, it is not our purpose now to dwell
. The personal beroism, and final brilliant success of the General Commanding have, in the estimation of many