« 이전계속 »
something intuitive about it; it seemed to others that he could hear the subterranean working, where they could not catch a sound; and his success in countermining the galleries, and sometimes destroying large bodies of men in the midst of their work, confirmed this belief. Indefatigable and amiable, as he was intelligent, the loss of this officer by a cannon-ball, ten days before the rescue by Havelock, is another instance of the strange destiny which, in this campaign, has cut off so many in the sight of victory and safety.
In the earlier part of the siege provisions were plentiful and various, the casualties not very numerous, and the spirit of the garrison kept high by the sense of individual responsibility and the variety of personal adventure. The novel situation of the greater part of the volunteers was, perhaps, more diverting to the regular soldiers than to themselves; but the impression produced on Mr. Rees that
courage is natural to every man, if he has only the opportunity of trying it, and whatever faint-heartedness there was only showed itself in the desponding view that some took of their ultimate fate. The ladies began by keeping watch in turn, being very nervous, and expecting some dreadful catastrophe to happen ;' but they soon got braver, and voted there was no necessity for any one to keep awake' who had not some one to watch over. It was, perhaps, an advantage that the knowledge of the treachery of which the garrison at Cawnpore were the victims foreclosed every notion of surrender. There the hastilyfortified barracks had not deserved the name of entrenchments; and when some perishing hand wrote on those crumbling walls these words of fire, .This is worse than the siege of Jerusalem ! My God! my God! wilt thou deliver us! it was amid a moral atmosphere of despair from which, at the very worst, the garrison of Lucknow were preserved. Yet the casualties at first were, perhaps, more cruel than afterwards. The danger of certain posts was only known by the loss of life. Besides Sir H. Lawrence, a young lady was shot in the Residency itself, and the chaplain was severely wounded in the hospital. The fierce sun and drenching showers under which the men watched and worked, made them ill able to withstand the cholera and smallpox which, towards the middle of June, began to rage, and soon extended to the women and children. Lady Inglis was attacked, and happily recovered, though even the comparative comfort of her position did not permit her to occupy an apartment alone. The children were easy victims. The food that was sufficient to sustain life in healthy and vigorous subjects could not do the same for the infantine and weakly. There was hardly a day without a child's death, often, indeed, occurring from the careless
familiarity with which they exposed themselves to danger, playing with the bullets as with marbles, laughingly dropping them when too hot to hold, and driven back with good-humoured force from the perilous positions into which they loved to run. A boy is described on the 27th of May as 'the image of Murillo's John the Baptist ;' on the 2nd of August he was a little old man.' Here was Mr. Lawrence, watching by the death-bed of his darling convulsed with terror at a mine springing close to him; there an old merchant (notorious for his selfish greed) dragging himself, when weak with sickness, from under cover, to get firewood to cook his children's food, and shot down in the attempt; there a hard-tempered officer daily guarding a little cup of milk with a jealous care that was not satisfied till he had himself placed it to his infant's lips—and all in vain!
The escapes were literally hair-breadth : a cotton pillow was cut to pieces under a drummer's head, leaving him unhurt; a piece of a fuze was found sticking in Major Lowe's whisker, while the shell spread destruction around. Mr. Capper was caught by the neck between a falling beam and the verandah floor, and he was extricated after an hour's labour of men lying flat on their stomachs to avoid a rain of musketry, and working with both hands. On the other hand the accidents were as strange : a sergeant, with five medals on him, was killed by a bullet passing through a box which should have been full of earth, but where the careless workman had left out a shovelful. Of three fellows thrown up in the air by the explosion of a mine, two lighted unhurt in the rubbish and one was pitched over the ramparts into the midst of the enemy who beheaded him. During the rescue by Have lock, a Highlander, who had fired off his rifle, saved himself from the uplifted sabre of a trooper by putting his pipes to his mouth, and sending forth such a screech that the foe bolted off as if shot, ,-an anecdote which may serve as the foundation of the legend of Jessie Cameron' and Mr. Goodall's popular picture.
The condition of the atmosphere soon began to be the most constant and odious source of distress; the dead could not be put by; the disgusting task of burying the bodies of men and animals might be diligently executed, but in that narrow space the work could not be effectually done : so tainted was the whole air that complete recovery from wounds or sickness was next to impossible and amputation was certain death. A plague of flies was generated by this universal corruption, which the poor lads who had been pupils of the Martinière College were incessantly occupied in trying to brush away, yet which seemed to increase by destruction. The rats and mice ran over the invalids whenever left untended. But these and similar miseries are the common incidents of war, and must not be classed with the circumstances which give to this event its historical peculiarity and significance. These indeed mainly depend on the singular relation between the besiegers and the besieged. Numerous letters from the camp before Delhi in the earlier periods of the outbreak describe the sense of an almost unnatural conflict produced on the army by seeing the enemy issue from the town in British uniforms, with their bands playing the old familiar tunes, ' The British Grenadiers,'' The girl I left behind me,' even 'God save the Queen,' and the honoured colours of the regiments waving side by side with the green standard of civil revolt and religious hate, and the English words of command and well-known bugle-signals used for the purpose of their own destruction.
It was an experience of what, thank God! bas been long unknown to British troops, of the sentiments and passions of civil war, of that form of hostility in which personal take the place of national feelings-in which the excitement and, so to say, the pleasure of individual combat is substituted for the motives of military honour and patriotic duty. But if this was the case where the contact was only occasional—in the sortie, or the attack, or the felon's punishment--what must it have been at Lucknow, where it was incessant for months together? Since the days of Ariosto's heroes there has never been such a combination of words and blows. The enemy were the very newsmongers of the garrison ; each fresh disaster to European power was triumphantly heralded to the anxious ears of the besieged. After Havelock's first advance, when every heart was on the acme of expectation, and shouts of delight had answered the booming of the distant guns, up ran the malicious foes—So you think the reinforcements have come, do you? so they have, and we have beaten them off, and we have crowned our King. Again the combatants are so near that there is no difficulty in recognising faces; the son of a native Christian is recognised amongst the defenders, and a rebel finds shelter in a hut not five yards from the post he is guarding : Come over to us and leave the cursed Feringhees, whose mothers and sisters we have defiled, and all of whom we shall kill in a day or two.' “Am I going to be unfaithful to my salt, like you, you son of a dog ? take that,' and off goes his gun. Wait a moment,' cries the other, and we shall be over the wall.' • Come along, my bayonet is ready to catch you,' and so on, till the dialogue is lost in a volley of oaths and musketry from the comrades who on each side have joined the disputants. Mr. Rees's French friend Duprat became an object of especial detestation from the reckless courage he displayed, and perhaps, too, from the knowledge on the part of the Sepoys
that he was no sincere partisan of the rule which he was defending: it may have been no secret among them that overtures had been made to him by the Nana, through his agent Azimoolah (so well known in London society), and declined rather on a point of honour than from any interest in the British cause or even from any confidence in its success. •Cursed dog of an infidel,' they cried whenever they saw him, we'll have you yet; we know you - we'll kill you.'
Duprat loved to provoke these attacks by abusing the enemy in broken Hindostanee, exposing himself with the strong self-confidence which many men either possess or assume in circumstances of the greatest danger, but which in his case was sadly falsified, for he died from a wound in the face after a month of great suffering.
Another special feature of this siege was the impossibility of reducing the number of the assailants, either by repeated attacks or continuous resistance. The superiority of our rifle-practice was clear from the first, and our artillery was worked with a care and ability which could not be exceeded. Not only were the positions continually changed, so as to bring the guns to bear on the points where the masses of the enemy were greatest and their means of offence most dangerous, but we actually discovered what edifices were the seat of the provisional government, and even where the military councils were held, and often disturbed them by the arrival of a well-aimed shell or two. The six regiments of cavalry and nineteen of infantry give no estimate of the beleaguering force; at least three-fourths of the inhabitants of the town itself had the habit of arms, and the number of Zemindaree troops was only limited by the means of subsistence, which were abundant. The gratification, therefore, which Mr. Rees tells us was frequently all they had—viz., to kill as many as possible before they were killed themselves—was no great consolation to the reflecting mind. The only impression which European courage could produce was to check the more furious assaults, such as that of the 20th of July, and to confine the swarming hordes to the effect of their more distant projectiles. Here, indeed, our great protection was in the absence of combination and generalship in the masses of the enemy. Separate attacks were skilfully organised, separate batteries were effectively placed, individual courage was not wanting, but there was no master-mind and no all-directing hand. The commander-inchief—a brother-in-law of the ex-king-exercised only a nominal authority; the officers were elected by the sepoys, and the commanders by the officers, in the name of a puppet-sovereign. These were successively degraded when unsuccessful, and not unfrequently shot by their own soldiers. Thus discipline was null,
and organisation impossible. But had this well-armed multitude been simultaneously and scientifically brought against the scantily-protected and over-tasked garrison, destruction was inevitable. As it was, the scaling-ladders frequently were forgotten when most wanted, the mines often ran short of their object and wrong in the direction of their craters, and the communications with the forces that were attempting to relieve the besieged were not always intercepted.
As the siege wore on the monotony of suffering and the continual presence of death could not but produce some of the demoralising effects which have ever attended on similar circumstances, and have never been better described than by the historian of the Plague of Athens. The excitement went down ; the jest was rarer; horrible forebodings of the possible issue of the struggle were conjectured and whispered; the women, broken-hearted by the loss of child or husband, could not cheer the bed of the sick and wounded, as they were wont to do: yet, notwithstanding all this, there was no falling off in the earnest discharge of every military duty, with diminished numbers and declining strength. The mutilated and the faint dragged themselves over the perilous spaces to their posts; one broken arm did not prevent the other from levelling the musket; and, though the reserved scrap of choice food and the hoarded cheroot were followed by many wistful eyes, property was generally respected and subordination preserved. One of the rare exceptions was the pillage of part of the royal jewels, which, when the siege began, were transported to the Residency, and men were pointed at as possessors of great wealth in diamonds, but which they could not exchange for bread.
The contrast between the abundant beauty of the landscape outside after the rains, as it was seen by those who were adventurous enough to mount the exposed roofs to look out in the direction of the long-expected succour, and the unvarying gloom of the fætid enclosure is said to have been most painful. One day a bright-winged peacock settled on one of the buildings : welcome indeed would have been that taste of fresh food, but the guns aimed at it were lowered with an undefinable sense of humane superstition, and the gay stranger flew safe away. The
. supply of the bare necessities of life was indeed not so scanty at any time as to make actual hunger one of the prominent miseries, although many ladies wasted away from inability to derive nourishment from such rude means of subsistence. Sometimes meat was more abundant than was required from the casual butchery by the guns of the enemy, the wounded cattle being of necessity at once killed and distributed; but latterly the rations were so much Vol. 103.-No. 206.