페이지 이미지

that Paris should still be considered to be the destination of the army. A fortified camp was immediately formed round Orleans, new troops arrived, and in a few days the French had more than 200,000 men in position.

Meanwhile Prince Frederic Charles was marching up with extraordinary speed. His brigades advanced separately, by various roads, to their general rendezvous at Pithiviers, but D'Aurelles let them come without attempting to attack them, though General des Pallieres asked to be allowed to march against them with his division, and though M. Gambetta wrote a despatch on the subject on 13th November. General d'Aurelles invoked, however, the old arguments of bad weather, bad roads, and ill-clothed troops; and time passed uselessly until the 19th November, when M. Gambetta seems to have lost patience. On that day he wrote to the General as follows: "We cannot stop eternally at Orleans. Paris is hungry, and calls for us. Prepare a plan which will enable us to reach Trochu, who will come out to meet us." General d'Aurelles declined, however, to prepare a plan, on the ground that he could not do so without knowing what General Trochu meant to do. It was not till about the 23d November that orders were at last given to get ready to march, and to send forward a few divisions to open the road.

On the 13th November, M. Gambetta had sent a pigeon-telegram to General Trochu informing him of the victory of Coulmiers, and proposing joint action between the Loire and Paris armies. M. Trochu replied on the 18th, by balloon: "Your telegram excites my interest and my zeal to the utmost; but it has been five days coming, and we shall want a week to get ready. I will not lose one instant. We have ample food till the end of the year, but perhaps the population will not wait till then, and we must solve the problem long before that." On the 24th another balloon was sent out, with the news that a great sortie would be made on the 29th, in the hope of breaking the investing lines and effecting a junction with d'Aurelles. But, most unluckily, this balloon was carried into Norway, and it was not till the 30th that its intelligence reached Tours by telegraph. Of course it created an immense sensation; for though it was expected, the definitive announcement of a great

sortie was an event of the gravest importance. The telegram was as follows: "The news received from the Loire army has naturally decided me to go out on the southern side, and to march towards that army at any cost. On Monday, 28th November, my preparations will be finished. I am carrying them on day and night. On Tuesday, the 29th, an army, commanded by General Ducrot, the most energetic of us all, will attack the enemy's positions, and, if they are carried, will push onwards towards the Loire in the direction of Gien. I suppose that if your army is turned on its left flank" (this was an allusion to the Duke of Mecklenburg, who, General Trochu thought, would move down from Chartres), "it will pass the Loire, and will withdraw on Bourges." This important despatch, which announced the Paris sortie for the 29th, was not received, as has just been said, till the 30th. M. de Freycinet was instantly sent up from Tours to General d'Aurelles with instructions to send the whole army next morning towards Pithiviers, where the Red Prince's troops were supposed to be massed by this time. A council of war was called to meet M. de Freycinet, whose arrival was announced by telegraph; and though General Chanzy says that a march forward under such hasty circumstances was considered to be dangerous, and was objected to by the generals present, M. Gambetta's will prevailed. It was decided to attempt to form a junction with General Ducrot near Fontainebleau, and the details of the operation were discussed and settled. A large stock of food, representing eight days' rations for 300,000 men, had been prepared, and was to be sent after the army directly Pithiviers was taken. The movement commenced on the morning of 1 st December, and the fighting that . day, particularly at Villepion, was all in favor of the French, who drove in the Germans everywhere. On the same day another balloon reached Belle Isle, bringing news of the first day's sortie from Paris, announcing a victory, and stating (hat the battle would go on next day. Thereupon General d'Aurelles issued a proclamation to his men, saying, "Paris, by a sublime effort of courage and patriotism, has broken the Prussian lines. General Ducrot, at the head of his army, is marching towards us; let us march towards him with a vigor equal to that of the Paris army." Despatches were sent to Generals Briand at Rouen, and Faidherbe at Lille, begging them to support the movement by a concentric march on Paris, so as to occupy the Germans at all points. M. Gambetta telegraphed all over France that the hour of success had come at last. The fight went on again on 2d and 3d December; but after a series of movements and engagements, all more and more unsuccessful, the blame of which is thrown by everybody on everybody else, General d'Aurelles telegraphed to Tours, on the night of the 3d, that he was beaten, that he considered the defence of Orleans to be impossible and that he proposed to break up his army and retreat in detachments in three different directions, on Gien, Blois, and the Sologne. To this afflicting news Gambetta instantly replied by telegraph: "Your despatch of to-night causes me the most painful stupefaction. I can see nothing in the facts it communicates which can justify the desperate resolution with which it concludes. Thus far you have managed badly, and have got yourself beaten in detail; but you still have 200,000 men in a state to fight, provided their leaders set them the example of courage and patriotism. The evacuation you propose would be, irrespective of its military consequences, an immense disaster. It is not at the very moment when the heroic Dutrot is fighting his way to us that we can withdraw from him; the moment for such an extremity is not yet come. I see nothing to change for the present in the instructions which I sent you last evening. Operate a general movement of concentration as I have ordered." To this General d'Aurelles replied at eight in the morning: "I am on the spot, and more able than you are to judge the situation. It gives me as much grief as to you to adopt this extreme resolution. . . . Orleans is surrounded, and can no longer be defended by troops exhausted by three days of fatigue and battle, and demoralized by the heavy losses they have sustained. The enemy's forces exceed all my expectations, and all the estimates which you have given me.

. . . Orleans will fall into the enemy's hands to-night or to-morrow. That will be a great misfortune; but the only way to avoid a still greater catastrophe is to have the courage to make a sacrifice while it is yet time. ... I therefore maintain the orders which I have given."

This brought back, two hours lateT, another angry protest from Tours, leaving, however, to General d'Aurelles the power to retreat on his own responsibility. At half-past eleven that night (4th December) the Prussians re-entered Orleans. M. Gambetta came up from Tours in a special train, with the idea that his presence would produce some effect; but he could not get to Orleans, and was nearly caught by a party of cavalry which had got upon the railway.

Such is the secret history, on the French side, of the last effort to save Paris. It could scarcely have been expected to end otherwise: the real opportunity, during the few days after Coulmiers, was thrown away; success was almost as certain then as it was hopeless afterwards—for the Loire army, numerous though it was, could not contend after 20th November with the united forces of Prince Frederic Charles and the Duke of Mecklenburg. Friends of France cannot read such a story without bitter regret For the first time during the war, the French had won a real victory, and for the first time the Germans had made a mistake, and had uncovered the whole southern front of Paris; on 10th November the Red Prince was eight days' march off, and yet D'Aurelles would not move. If he had gone straight on, as a German would have done, he would have been on the Seine within three days. Versailles would have been evacuated, and the siege of Paris would have been suspended. A great battle would have taken place a week later, on the arrival of the Red Prince; but whatever might have been its result—however convinced we may be that it would have been a victory for Germany—a vast moral effect would have been produced. Paris would have been revictualled, and the issue of the war might have been materially altered. The battle of Coulmiers, though it was a week late, was still in time to open the door to active and useful movements; but the cavalry had gone calmly home to bed, just when it was wanted to ride down the outnumbered Bavarians. General d'Aurelles thought that his troops were wet and cold, and forgot that the other side was wetter and colder; so the precious hours passed away,—and when at last the Loire army was moved ahead, it was too late to hope for success of any kind.

It is useless to speculate on what might have happened if Marshal Bazaine, instead of surrendering on 26th October, had held out for another month. The Germans themselves have frankly owned that, in that event, they could not have resisted the Loire army. But they admit this under the impression that the Loire army would have really come on; an hypothesis which can scarcely be admitted after reading the curious revelations contained in M. de Freycinet's well-written book. Even the wilful and obstinate Gambetta could not get General d'Aurelles de Paladines to move; even the mistake of General von Moltke, which cleared the whole road to Paris, could not tempt the prudent Frenchman to risk the journey. With these facts before us, it may be fear

ed that, if Metz had held out to Christmas, the fact would have exercised no influence on the siege of Paris. The moment when D'Aurelles should have struck his blow was precisely calculated at Versailles; but then the Germans knew their business; and if they packed up their clothes on the 14th of November, it was because, according to all the laws of strategy, the Loire army ought to have reached the Seine that night. If it had done that, instead of corresponding with the "heroic Pucrot" by pigeons and balloons, in order to "negotiate a mutual support," as the Americans say, it might have marched right into Paris; but it did not, and the world knows what the consequences were.

Fortnightly Review.


Mr. Gladstone, in speaking of the opium war with China, once remarked that "justice was on the side of the Pagan." Never was this more true than at the present time, when a Pagan government, in spite of domestic anarchy, of the paralyzing influence of official corruption, and of the perpetual menace of foreign intervention, yet nobly endeavors to exert what remains of its shattered authority on the side of virtue and the good order of the State. On the other hand, I know of nothing more ignoble than the heartless indifference with which the failure of these patriotic efforts is regarded by so-called civilized nations, or the immoral cynicism with which English statesmen not only excuse but justify our share in entailing the greatest of calamities on one-third of the human race. If it were possible for us to escape from the responsibility which must ever attach itself to the authors of the first Chinese War; if we could prove that in forcing the legislation of the opium trade by the treaty of Tientsin we yielded to iron necessity; if, moreover, we could demonstrate that our duty to India compelled us to prefer the temporary exigences of revenue to the lasting interests of morality —it would still be incumbent on us to face the fact that our position is at once shameful and humiliating. But when we know that the direct responsibility of every act that has led to the degradation and

rapid decline of the Chinese Empire lies at our own door, and that the policy which has borne these evil fruits is still being, in a great measure, carried out by the concurrent action of Anglo-Indian administrators and British statesmen, the ignominy demands some fortitude for us to bear it. We, however, do bear it; and, at the same time, lose no opportunity of ministering to our self-love by pretending that wherever English commerce extends, or English influence penetrates, both confer untold benefits upon the less-favored nations of the world.

A few historical facts will show how entirely Great Britain is answerable for the desolating effects of the opium trade in China. Before the East India Company executed the project of embarking in the trade, the only opium exported into China was conveyed thither by the Portuguese from Turkey. The annual supply did not exceed 200 chests, and it was used strictly for medicinal purposes. In 1773, the Company first engaged in the traffic, but for many years the Chinese regarded it with so little favor that it proved very unprofitable. The Company, in fact, had to create the appetite, which has since given the extraordinary stimulus to the demand for the drug which we see existing in our own day. The Chinese Government, from the outset, exhibited a resolute determination to restrain its subjects either from carrying on the trade or from becoming personally addicted to the use of opium. The severest penalties were imposed by law, and in many instances, actually enforced. The punishment of the bamboo and the pillory not sufficing to curb the appetite of the opium-smoker, far severer punishments—including that of death— were added. The persistence of the Celestials in resisting the encroachments of the East India Company was only equalled by the perseverance with which the latter prosecuted its designs. A government monopoly in the drug was established. Large districts of fertile territory were confiscated to the cultivation of the poppy, and the ryots were openly coerced into growing it. The finest and swiftest vessels were employed to convey the prepared drug from India to China. How " the foreign devils"—and surely the phrase is not altogether misapplied—violated the laws of the empire is graphically described by Heu Naetze, Vice-President of the Sacrificial Court at Pekin :—

"At Canton," he says, "there are brokers of the drug, who are called melters; these pay the price of the drug into the hands of the resident foreigners, who give them orders for the delivery ot the opium from the receiving-ships. There are carrying-boats plying up and down the river, and these are vulgarly termed 'fast-crabs' and 'scrambling-dragons.' They are well armed with guns and other weapons, and are manned with some scores of desperadoes, who ply their oars as if they were wings to fly with. All the custom-houses and military posts which they pass are largely bribed; if they happen to encounter any of the armed cruising-boats, they are so audacious as to resist, and slaughter and carnage ensue."

The war of 1839 was the natural outcome of these lawless proceedings. The authorities at Canton, in the exercise of a strict right, required the British merchants to send away the "receiving-ships"; but these persons would neither send away the ships nor deliver up the opium. Commissioner Lin then ordered the merchants to be imprisoned until the opium was surrendered—a measure which had the effect of placing the whole of the drug then in Chinese waters, amounting to 20,000 chests, in his possession. Even in the light of the tragical events which ensued one may be excused for exulting in the moral courage which the Chinese Commis

sioner displayed. He might have retained the opium, to be given up under pressure; or he might, as easily, have confiscated it, reserving to himself, according to Eastern fashion, a lion's share of the plunder. Instead of adopting either of these courses, he caused the entire stock—the estimated value of which was three millions sterling—to be thrown into the sea, and thus gave to the world an example 01 thoroughness in dealing with a great abuse which, fatal though it proved to China, may not be without its use hereafter. In this way originated the opium war, the parent of all the succeeding wars with China—a struggle in which British grapeshot mowed down the Celestials like grass, and our men-of-war made equally short work of the Chinese junks. We compelled the Chinese to sue for peace, and to pay an indemnity of upwards of four millions sterling; but there was one thing which they stubbornly refused to do—they would not legalize the trade to which all their misfortunes were due. It was pointed out to the Emperor that if he insisted on declaring the trade contraband, smuggling would still go on; whereas, if he consented to impose an import duty on the opium he might derive therefrom a revenue of ^1,200,000 a year. His answer merits the attention of those Indian administrators who argue that they ought not to give up the traffic because of the princely revenue it yields. "It is true," he said, "I cannot prevent the introduction of the flowing poison; gain-seeking and corrupt men will, for profit and sensuality, defeat my wishes, but nothing -will induce me to derive a revenue from the vice and misery of my people." It needed two other wars, as well as the moral impression produced by the sack of the Summer Palace and the fall of Pekin, to break down what some people are disposed to regard as the stupid prejudices of the Chinese against the legalization of the noxious drug.

Lord Elgin's treaty apparently placed the trade on a secure footing. At last the ban of celestial law was withdrawn from it, and opium was enabled to take its place side by side with the products of Lancashire looms and Birmingham workshops. The opium smuggler was transformed into an opium merchant. No pirate could have been made more respectable if the Admiralty, besides condoning his past offences, had appointed him to the commission of one of Her Majesty's ships. As for the Imperial Government, nothing could have been more opportune than the legalization of a trade for the prosecution of which, on the political extinction of the East India Company, it necessarily became largely responsible. That Government was enabled to cultivate opium under the Indian monopoly, and even to extend the area of cultivation as the now lawful appetites of the Chinese were enlarged, without any further apprehension from prohibitory laws, which the sword had cut in twain, and which, indeed, Lord Elgin's treaty had formally abrogated. There was, however, one fly in the pot of ointment. The Chinese, from eating opium in ever-increasing quantities (for since the year 1800 the exports from India have multiplied nearly forty-fold), have taken to cultivating it on a large scale. I have die authority of a gentleman who recently made a journey of more than three thousand miles in the west of China, traversing the provinces of Hoo-pih, Sze-chuen, and Shen-se, "and found nearly everywhere evidence of extensive cultivation." This home cultivation has all grown up during the last twenty years. It has already driven out the opium which formerly enriched Btirmah at the expense of Western China. Chinese opium has two qualities which render it a formidable competitor to the Indian poppy. It only costs half the price, and is not nearly so deleterious. It therefore seems probable that while the rich epicure will still consume the foreign article, the poorer slaves of the vice will be content with wasting their substance on the drug of native growth and manufacture.

The Imperial edicts prohibiting the cultivation of the poppy in the provinces of the empire are still unrepealed, but for the present they remain a dead letter. What adequate motive can the Emperor and his council have for enforcing these edicts so long as they are not permitted to deal with the foreign trade? The money expended on opium, if spent in the country, would not be so absolutely unproductive as if it were all sent abroad in exchange for the Indian drug. On the other hand, the Chinese Government is naturally alarmed at the extent to which the good lands of the empire are being

used up by the cultivation of the po*ppy. China is an excessively poor and overcrowded country, and cannot afford to give to opium land which ought to yield food to the people. Choo-Tsun, a statesman who lived long enough to foresee, but not long enough actually to witness, the downfall of the empire, many years ago put this pertinent question: "If all the rich and fertile ground be used for planting the poppy, and if the people, hoping for a large profit therefrom, madly engage in its cultivation, where will flax and the mulberry-tree be cultivated, or wheat and rye be planted?" Two years ago, the answer to this inquiry was virtually given by one of the censors at Pekin, who, in a memorial to the throne, complained that there had been "a great scarcity of food in Shensi and Kiangsu, where the opium-farming mostly prevails," and that "the laborers give their strength and time to the poppy, while wheat and millet are neglected."

Last year the Under-Secretary for India was somewhat despondent at the falling off in the opium revenue. This session his tone is more hopeful. The revenue has revived, and the prophets of evil—who were, however, chiefly connected with the Indian Department—stand rebuked. It is not impossible that the new-born confidence may be as premature as the recent depression. It is true that Mr. Grant Duff plumes himself on " the excellent" quality of Indian opium. It is indeed so "excellent" that it destroys the Chinese more quickly than the home-made drug; and if the object be to decimate China, or to multiply the number of sensual imbeciles and paupers, no one can deny that this end is likely to be attained. But unfortunately for the prospect of Indian opium, Mr. D. B. Robertson, her Majesty's Consul at Canton, has lately discovered a marked improvement in the quality of native opium, which is now, he says, equal to Malwa—a tribute calculated to induce Mr. Grant Duff to look well to his laurels. M. Hue. who published his "Chinese Empire" sixteen years ago, anticipated this very state of things, and, indeed, predicted that when the Chinese made at home all the opium necessary for their own consumption, "British India would experience a terrible blow—one that might possibly even be felt in the British metropolis." In allusion to the increasing use of laudanum in our

« 이전계속 »