Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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accordingly delighted to observe that the peace estab-
lishment is to be 140,000 men, on a footing admitting
of speedy increase : above all, that twenty thousand ar-
tillery-men are to be maintained.

We regret, however, that nothing was done, on the
treaty of peace, to control Bussia in Asia. We are
aware that there were difficulties ; but the right of
having a Consul at Meshed and trading vessels on the
Caspian might have been obtained. Information on
Central Asian matters is greatly wanted. Insensibly
and almost by a coup-de-main, the Eussian empire has
been extended for thirteen thousand miles across the whole
Continent of Europe and Asia, and for twenty degrees
over America. Curbed to the south and west, Eussia
has not waited an hour to push forward her soldiers,
her sailors, her savants, her engineers, and her labourers
to the Caspian, to the Aral, and even to the mighty
Amoor. Her old policy will now, more vigorously
than ever, be pursued, and though the dream of a
century will never be realized, her position in Persia
will speedily be strengthened, and posts will be esta-
blished in Central Asia and even in China. Bomar-
sunds, if not Sebastopols, will arise at Orenburgh,
Astrakan, and Astrabad, perhaps even at Balkh and
Herat. The wave has receded, to return with re-
doubled force, though at a different angle.

Such has ever been and will be Eussia's policy. There
will be no Eussian invasion of India, nor probably will
the tribes be impelled on us. The latter now under-
stand our strength; Eussia has long understood both
our strength and our weakness. There will be no


foolish, raid as long as India is united, in tranquillity and
contentment, under British rule. Bussia well knows
that such an attempt would only end in the entire de-
struction of the invaders. India lias been invaded some
forty times, but always by small armies, acting in com-
munication with domestic parties. A small Eussian
army could not make good its way through Aifghanistan ;
a large army would be starved there in a week. The
largest army that could come with Aifghanistan and
Persia in its train, would be met at the outlets of the
only two practicable passes, and while attempting to
debouche would be knocked to pieces. A hundred
thousand Anglo-Indian troops might, with the help of
railroads, be collected at each pass in as few days as it
would take an unopposed Eussian army weeks to traverse
them. Hundreds of eight-inch guns would there be
opposed to their field-pieces. The danger, then, is ima-
ginary. Herat is no more the key to India than is
Tabreez, or Khiva, or Kokan, or Meshed. The chain
of almost impenetrable mountains is the real key to
India. England's own experience in the western passes,
and in the Crimea, have proved the absurdity of the tale
of Eussian invasion. No, the dream is idle : England's
dangers are in India, not without ; and we trust that it
will be in India they will be met, and that there will be
no third Afighan campaign. Such a move would be
playing Eussia's game. We are safe while we hold our
ground and do our duty. Eussia may teaze, annoy, and
frighten us by her money and by emissaries. She may
even do us mischief, but she will never put foot in Hin-

What America may venture, sixty years hence, when
her population numbers a hundred millions, and when
vessels of ten thousand tons ply the ocean, is another,
and may possibly be considered a wilder question. But


that America will strive for Oriental sovereignty is
certain. She is welcome ; there will be room for cen-
turies, for the whole Saxon race. Let England work
out her destiny, let her govern India for the people, and,
as far as possible, by the people, and neither England
nor India need fear Eussia or America, or both com-

To recapitulate. Our object is, to direct attention to
Wellington's dying legacy, and to our greatest living
warrior's equally solemn enunciation,

" Woe to the nation that forgets the military art ! Woe to that nation
— woe to that nation which heaps up riches, but which does not take the
precaution to defend them."

Such were the impressive and truthful words of the
hero of Kars, on the day he landed in England ; such
the warning addressed by him to the thousands who
hailed his return. And the lesson his words inculcate,
based as it is on a mournful experience, cannot be too
often or too earnestly urged upon the minds of those who
truly and unselfishly love their country. Let us not for
ever learn onli/ from disaster. Let us use our opportunities.

To conclude : Our recommendations are, to have one
strong fortress in every province, and a redoubt in
every cantonment. All may be of mud, at very moderate
expense. No man, black or white, to be permitted merely
to cumber a muster roll, a cantonment, or a battle field.
Only the young and middle-aged to be in the service
ranks. Elderly men to be in garrison, and in veteran
corps, commanded hy hale and efficient soldiers. Old men
to retire to their homes. Similar rules for European
officers and soldiers, as for Natives, without favour or
affection. It is sheer madness, on the plea of economy,
mercy, or aught else, to keep inefficients, from whatever
cause, in the service ranks. It is worse, it is a crime, to
keep such men in authority, high or low. Their fitting


places are the invalids, the pension list, the clubs, their
English hearths.

Legitimate outlets for military energy and ability in
all ranks, and among all classes, must be given. The
minds of subadars and resseldars, sepoys and sowars,
can no more with safety be for ever cramped, tramelled,
and restricted as at present, than can a twenty-foot
embankment restrain the Atlantic. It is simply a
question of time. The question is only whether justice
is to be gracefully conceded or violently seized. Ten or
twenty years must settle the point.

Our view is also, that regiments jprofessedly officered
by Europeans should be really so, that officers should
really do the duty they profess to do. That the work
should not be left to havildar majors and pay orderlies.
We accordingly propose that at least two European
officers per company be posted to each of such regi-
ments ; that there be no Native officers, unless indeed
one Anglicized jemadar (as ensign) be attached to each
company, to learn his duty as a captain (subadar), when
he may be transferred as such to a regiment officered
by Natives.

We further propose that certain cavalry and infantry
regiments be wholly, and others partially, officered by

That the veteran service be made one of honour and
comparative ease.

That honorary rewards be increased, and that pen-
sions be given earlier, and, in particular cases, on a more
liberal scale. Whether pensions be by deferred annui-
ties, or as at present, there can be no better safety
valve to the service than the pension establishment.
Comparatively few attain it ; all look to it. The vista
is long, and the cottage in the distance, very small ; it
is nevertheless the day and the night dream of thou-


sands. To the Native soldiers, home is not, as witli
Europeans, a simple resting-place after life's task is
done ; it is the return to, and union with, the relatives
and friends of earlier years. The whole domestic ex-
istence of the sepoy is limited to the few years of
pensioned and furlough life. His peculiar customs
deprive him of such happiness while in the ranks.

The scientific branches of the service to be kept
complete on the most liberal scale. This is the best
economy. Sappers and artillerymen will, on an emer-
gency, make fair infantry, but sepoys cannot reciprocate
the obligation, nor is it perhaps expedient that they
should be taught.

The numerical strength of the European troops
should never be less than one-fourth of the regular
Native army. One-third would be a better proportion.
Year by year, the proportions have decreased, though
the contrary would have been the wiser policy. Eami-
liarity nowhere engenders reverence. A hundred years
ago a company was looked on by the enemy as a regi-
ment is now, and yet at Seringapatam, the proportion
of Europeans was very much greater than it has been
during more recent wars.

The arms and accoutrements of all, but especially of
the Europeans, should be of the very best description.
Our infantry arms at Sebastopol were better than those
of the Russians. The Minie rifle probably saved Inker-
mann, as the change from six to nine-pounders may
have saved Waterloo.

A staff corps to be formed of ofiicers who have served
from two to four years with their own arm, and for at
least one with every other. The staff not to be ex-
clusively drawn from this corps. Examinations to be
required for every post ^ and iox every grade, up to given
points. Staff corps men, as others, to undergo such


examinations. Literary attainments to be slightly con-
sidered ; military science, rather than mathematics, to be
the desideratum. In short, strictly practical and pro-
fessional knowledge with soldierly bearing, and good
characters, to be the main points. We are quite sensible
of the difficulty : the public service, not the welfare of
individuals, is the point at issue. ^^ ^

Another of our suggestions is, quietly and unostenta- \
tiously to oppose class to class, creed to creed, and j
interest to interest. We have also argued, that this /
can be best done in the army, not as at present, by a j \
mixture of sects in each regiment, but by separate /
regiments, each consisting chiefly, though not entirely^ [
of a single sect. ^— ^

Annual " Chobhams,*' and " Aldershotts " to be esta-
blished at each Presidency, where officers, soldiers, and
sepoys should be taught to work, as before an enemy ;
to make gabions and fascines : to dig and delve ; to
throw up works ; to attack and defend them. In short,
for two or three months of every year, soldiers should
have the opportunity, as far as practicable, of learning
what war is, and should also learn to take care of them-
selves in the field in all weather.

On somewhat the principles above enunciated, and
with one unmistakable Fay Code for all India, the
army* might be made doubly efficient for war or for
peace, at an expense hardly exceeding half a million in
excess of present expenditure. Officers would no longer

* We have purposely left un- necessity of a large field for selec-

touched the question of one army tions for Indian army staff apply

or three armies, or of a general amal- equally to the Royal troops. Free

gamation with the Royal army. But employment for all^ and liberty of

in whatever hands the Indian army exchange between the Queen's and

remains, its ofiicers should be avail- Company's troops should be the

able for service throughout the world, rule. — H. M. L.
All the arguments that apply to the



doubt their own men,* the men would have less reason
to complain of their officers. The latter would do what
they hardly now profess to do — they would look into the
details of their regiments and companies, not leave them
to Native officers whom they despise, or to non-com-
missioned Natives, who have no legitimate authority.
Each man, high or low, in each class of regiments,
would have his place and his duty. Each man would
accordingly have more contentment. The staff ap-
pointments from corps being few, and regimental
commands being earlier obtainable, and given hy merit
as much as by seniority, there would be fewer and less
loud aspirations for staff employ. The contentment of
the officers would alone go far to content the sepoys.
Pleasure and pain are catching. The murmurs of
messes quickly reach the quarter guard, as do contrary
feelings. We conclude with our oft-repeated remark,
that it is not a numerically strong army, but a contented
one with efficient officers, that is wanted. Our duty is
now done ; let others do theirs, and a reproach, possibly
a danger, w^ill have been removed.

A paragraph in the Delhi Gazette, announcing that
the Oude authorities are disposed to dispense with the
service of the regular regiments for Lucknow, tempts a
few further words of caution — ^though we do not alto-
gether credit the newspaper report. The earliest days
of annexation are not the safest. Be liberal, considerate,
and merciful, but be prompt, watchful, and even quietly
suspicious. Let not the loose characters floating on the
surface of society, especially such society as Lucknow,
be too far tempted, or trusted. Wellington's maxim of
" keeping the troops out of sight,'' answered for Eng-

* We refer especially to such times as those of the Madras Mutiny.


land; it will not answer for India. There must be
triisti/ bayonets, within sight of the understandings, if
not of the eyes, of Indian subjects, before they will pay
willing obedience, or any revenue. Of late years, the
wheels of Government have been moving very fast.
Many Native prejudices have been shocked. Natives
are now threatened with the abolition of polygamy. It
would not be difficult to twist this into an attack on
Hindooism. At any rate, the faster the vessel glides,
the more need of caution, of watching the weather, the
rocks, and the shoals.

Felix quern faciunt aliena pericula cautum.

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Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 39 of 39)