Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

trine of the Church of England - nine Articles. And who is to say what and the same might be said of the they mean? In the last resort the Church of Rome-is wide enough to Queen in Council, for it must never be cover fundamental differences. Human forgotten that the supremacy of the nature is too strong for dogmas. So Crown in all causes, civil and ecclelong as there are many men, there will clesiastical—that is, in the present case, be many minds, in theology as well as the supremacy of the Judicial Comin everything else. It is the great mittee of the Privy Council—is itself merit of the Church of England, that one of the Articles of the Church of for a great length of time it has been England. It is in this sense perfectly in the habit of doing openly what all true, as Mr. Wilson said - and the ecclesiastical bodies have been obliged Bishop of St. David's has since said the to do, and what most of them have same thing—that the legal obligation done secretly. It has avowedly allowed is the measure of the moral obligation. great differences of opinion amongst the The phrase may sound harsh, and to elergy ; but, if this is so, what con- inaccurate observers it no doubt has scientious obligation lies upon any a harsh appearance. It sounds as if clergyman to adopt the opinions of any those who used it meant to say that other clergyman or set of clergymen ? they cared nothing for the moral chaWould any one, a few years ago, have racter of their conduct, that they paid cared to know whether Dr. Williams no attention to the degree in which and Mr. Wilson agreed or differed with they might deviate from the standard Dr. Longley and Dr. Thompson, and which they were bound in honour and what difference is made in the intrinsic conscience to maintain, that they feared value of the men, by the fact that the nothing but legal punishment, and would Prime Minister appointed the two last submit to no compulsion less rough than named doctors to be Archbishops of that of an ecclesiastical court and the Canterbury and York? No one is spe- legal process at its disposal. In fact, cially troubled at the difference between the phrase in question seems by many the Archbishops and the Bishop of persons to have been understood as it London, and it is highly probable, if those who used it had said, “No doubt, that is a matter of any importance, in honour and conscience, I ove you that, if the Archbishops were separately 201. ; but, as you have no memorandum cross-examined as to their own private in writing to satisfy the Statute of opinions on the Bible, and as to their Frauds, I will not pay, and you cannot reasons for holding them, they would make me ; "the legal obligation is the be found to differ widely from each measure of the moral one.'” other.

This is an entire misapprehension. The What, then, is the conscientious meaning of the phrase in question is, obligation of a clergyman who has no that it is impossible to specify any set formularies to guide him, no general of opinions which a elergyman is under consent of eminent divines, and who any obligation whatever to hold, except is not in any way bound to respect those contained in the Thirty - nine or share in the opinions of any con- Articles—a document which, as every temporary authority whatever ? Anyone knows, is in many parts incomone who faces the question candidly plete. To what, then, is he bound, will be obliged to own that it is ab- as to the ambiguous and incomplete solutely impossible to discover any other parts of this document ? He is bound test than that of legality. A clergyman to that which the highest authority no doubt is bound to teach the doctrines (declared by the document itself to which he has promised to teach. At be the Judicial Committee of the any rate he is bonnd not to contradict Privy Council) shall decide to be the them; but what has he promised to meaning. As to matters which the teach or not to contradict? The Thirty- document so interpreted does not decido, he is in the position of an independent fessors of your real opinions you are not, inquirer into truth, and is under a moral and cannot be, so long as you retain obligation to discover and uphold it by your preferment.” This most formidable every means in his power. It is in this of all weapons is now taken out of their sense that the legal measures the moral hands, and, if the clergy are but true to obligation. This often happens in private themselves, they have the power of dislife, and in matters unconnected with cussing, as it never has yet been distheology. A family finds that a distant cussed, at least in this country, with relation has left a large property amongst perfect freedom, and in the calmest and them by a will, of which the meaning is most deliberate way, one of the most altogether obscure, and which was obvi- interesting questions that ever engaged ously made in ignorance or forgetfulness human attention—the question, namely, of the state of the family, and of the What is the Bible really? This, of chronology of the births and deaths of course, will lead by degrees to a free its members. What would the most and full re-examination of much of united and affectionate family do under our existing theology, and, it may be the circumstances, if they wished to act hoped without any extreme rashness, with the most perfect regard to honour to its settlement on a sound basis. and morality ? Would they not say, That this will have to be done some “No one of us has more claim to this time is as clear as the sun at noonday; property, apart from the will, than any that it had better be done by friendly other, and, honestly, we do not know hands in the Church than by rough what the will means. Let us take the and unfriendly critics outside of it, must opinion of eminent lawyers, or, if neces- be obvious to every one who can in the sary, of the Court of Chancery, as to least degree appreciate the difference the legal effect of the will, and be bound between reform and revolution. by the result; the legal obligation is The conduct of those who are most the measure of the moral obligation.'" bitterly opposed to the recent decisions The moral obligation imposed on a affords an instructive and conclusive clergyman with respect to his belief proof of the fact, that they agree with arises from his subscription, from his the general principle that the question individual promise, and the exact mean- is, after all, a legal one ; and that, like ing of this can be decided only by a it or like it not, room cannot be denied court of law.

to those who have now established If this view is the true one, it hardly their right to a standing-ground in admits of a doubt that the judgment is a the Church. If the archbishops who great happiness for every honest member dissented from the judgment of the of the Church of England. Let any one Privy Council, and the bishops who consider for a moment what would have joined in condemning the “ Essays and been the result of an opposite decision. Reviews," had been able to go further, Suppose it had been decided that the if they had firmly believed in any clergy were to be excluded from all coherent system of their own, based on bona fide criticism of the Bible ; that grounds which challenged inquiry and they were not to be allowed to say this would command the assent of the reasonor that statement is not accurate; this able and devout, their course would have or that book has usually been assigned to been clear. They would have said, The a wrong author, or to a different period law has decided against us. We bow from that at which in fact it was written to its decision, but we will use that Such a decision, of course, would have been freedom which is open to us as to all a great triumph for the stricter classes of other English subjects. We will throw the clergy. They would have been able off from the Church that which makes to say, with perfect truth, to the liberal it appear to sanction what we know, party in the Church, “You may be right, and can prove, to be damnable errors, or you may be wrong, but honest pro- destructive of the souls of those who

entertain them. We will lay down our mitres, we will resign our palaces, our incomes, and our seats in the House of Lords; we will set up the pure and true doctrine of the Church independently of all State trammels, and leave the Judicial Committee to rule over willing and degraded slaves. They do not say this, or anything like it. As yet we have heard nothing of secession, and why not? Is it because of an ignoble preference of place, power, and money over truth and the Gospel ? To answer yes would be, to the last degree, unjust and untrue. There is no reason whatever to suppose that the accomplished and pious men who hold the high offices of the Church are mercenary or incapable of making sacrifices in a good cause. They have, in

i See however a letter from Dr. Pusev to the Editor of the Record (Feb. 19, 1864), which looks in the direction indicated.

a high degree, the honourable qualities of Christians and gentlemen. Many of them have given strong proofs of disinterested zeal in all good and charitable causes. The late Bishop of London gave away what might have constituted a princely fortune for his family. The late Bishop of Durham, who was attacked with the most vindictive acrimony for giving a living to his son-in-law, died poor. No man in his senses could charge the Bishop of Oxford with caring for money ; nor has any one a right to suppose that the members of the Bench would shrink from any duty which conscience distinctly imposed upon them. What, then, does their acquiescence prove? It proves that they have no strong convictions on the points settled by the Privy Council, no clear, plain system of doctrine on which they can appeal to the country against the law as now established.

MEMORANDUM ON A “STORY OF THE GREAT MUTINY.” 1

COMMUNICATED BY MAJOR-GENERAL VINCENT EYRE, C.B.,

LATE ROYAL ARTILLERY (BENGAL).

It is to be regretted that the able and men and things in India generally, entertaining writer of the above “story” which betoken the generous, highshould not have been content to accept minded English gentleman, whose main the plain, unvarnished tale of the “Relief object it is to inspire a kindly interest for of Arrah” as originally delivered in offi- the land of his adoption in the minds cial despatches published at the time, of his countrymen at home. and the truth of which has never been It is, therefore, in no unfriendly spirit impugned, but has wandered into the that I feel myself imperatively called uncertain regions of romance in quest of upon, at the earliest practicable moment “ telling incidents” wherewith to season after my return from India, to correct a pleasant dish for the public palate, the statement made in the following not, perhaps, duly considering the inju- extract, descriptive of the crisis of the rious tendency of these dangerous em struggle between Major Eyre's small bellishments, as far as they are calculated band of British soldiers and the formidto affect the soldierly reputations of the able host of mutineers and rebels who principal actors.

opposed their progress to the relief of That he must be acquitted of any Arrah, on the 2nd of August, 1857. malus animus against anybody concerned The “ Competition Wallah” writes is sufficiently evident from the pervading thus :—“Our troops began to be distone of the writer's graphic sketches of “heartened, and to be painfully aware 1 See Vacmillan's Magazine, for September,

“ of the overwhelming odds against Pp. 351, 352.

" which they were contending. It was “ trying work receiving twenty bullets papers, wherein he publicly and em“ for every one they fired. At such a phatically denied having acted, on the “ moment the man of sterling stuff feels above occasion, otherwise than in strict “ that things cannot go well unless he obedience to the orders of his immediate “ personally exerts himself to the utmost. superior, viz. Major Eyre, whose per“ It is this state of mind that wins foot- sonal presence, it must be remembered, “ ball matches, and boat-races, and battles. was, at that critical moment, absolutely “A young officer, by name Hastings, indispensable with the guns, there being “not relishing the idea of standing no other artillery officer in the field. “ still to be shot down, ran forward, The great object of the enemy through“sword in hand, towards the point out the action had been to gain posses“ where the enemy stood thickest, with sion of these guns, and twice had the “ a dozen volunteers, and twice as many sepoys charged most desperately almost “ soldiers at his heels. This appeared to their very muzzles, but had been “ to the sepoys a most unaccountable driven back with great slaughter. “ proceeding, but they were ignorant of Our ammunition was, however, fall“ the great military truth, that when two ing alarmingly short, and it was “ hostile parties find themselves on the necessary jealously to husband every " same ground, one or the other must round until the proper moment arrived “ leave it; and, as Hastings and his for delivering fire with effect. In the "companions kept coming nearer and excitement of action, nothing is more " nearer, with the expression on their difficult than to restrain gunners from “ faces which the Sahibs always wear wasting their ammunition in mere ran66 when they don't intend to turn back, dom shots. Had these guns been taken, " they had no choice but to run for it. we were all doomed men, and all hope “ That charge saved Arrah. When of relieving the Arrah garrison was for “ once the natives have given way it is ever gone. Hence it was that Major “ almost impossible to bring them again Eyre, though commanding the whole " to the scratch. Coer Sing retreated, party, felt that his own proper post was, “ leaving on the ground six hundred of just then, with his guns ; feeling as he “ his followers, most of whom had been did every confidence in the ability of his “ killed in the attack upon the battery, second in command, Captain L'Estrange " and our poor little force, which he of the 5th Fusileers (than whom a braver “ had expected to devour, gathered or better officer never existed), to carry " together the wounded, limbered up out his wishes with regard to the in“ the guns, and with lightened hearts fantry portion of the force, consisting “ pressed forward on the mission of de simply of 160 men (first-rate marksmen “liverance.”

all) of his own admirable regiment, The reader of this story must naturally distributed in skirmishing order along a wonder what Captain L'Estrange and front of 300 yards. the other officers of the 5th Fusileers N ow, Captain L'Estrange's operawere about, when a young stranger thus tions being partially concealed by trees assumed the command of their men and and by the nature of the ground, led them to the charge in this abrupt Major Eyre was obliged to employ and disorderly manner, and why Major his staff-officer, Captain Hastings, who Eyre did not place himself at the head was well mounted, to maintain comof the force at so critical a moment? munication with the second in command

Now, it is curiously illustrative of the during the action. At the critical period obstinate vitality of error, that Captain alluded to by a “Competition Wallah," Hastings, the hero of the above plea- Hastings had galloped across the field santly-told tale, and who was the with a message from L'Estrange, to the officiating staff-officer of the Force, effect that he feared his men could not actually took the trouble to address a much longer retain their present ground, letter to one of the leading Calcutta and requesting fresh instructions how to

act in such case. Major Eyre's reply to this was an order to collect his men forth with in line, and charge the enemy, while he himself would support the movement with a brisk cannonade. At this very moment the two guns on the left flank were themselves in imminent peril from a line of sharpshooters, who had gradually crept up under cover of the rough ground and thick bushes, and within a radius of eighty yards were deliberately aiming at the gunners, while a fresh column of sepoys stood ready to rush forward to another attack. Therefore not a moment was to be lost. What took place is accurately recorded in the despatch penned by Captain L'Estrange on the following morning. He writes :

“Our line was then about 300 yards “ in length, and the enemy came pour“ ing down on us in large numbers. At “ this time we were in imminent danger, “ when Major Eyre ordered us to charge “ the enemy. The movement was per “ fectly successful, and, our line advanc“ ing at the charge, the mutineers fled “ from the woods, from whence emerg“ing, Major Eyre opened on them with “ grape, and the enemy cleared off in all “ directions."

Major Eyre's own account of the matter, as communicated to Government, ran as follows:

“Finding at length that the enemy “ grew emboldened by the superiority " of their numbers and the advantage “ of their position, I determined on " trying the effect of a general charge “ of infantry, and sent the Hon. E. P. “ Hastings to Captain L'Estrange, with 6 orders to that effect. Promptly and “ gallantly he obeyed the order," &c.

With regard to the personal bearing exhibited by Captain Hastings, in carrying out the orders he had received, it is unnecessary to add a word to the very cordial recognition of his bravery, already rendered by Major Eyre in his public despatch. But Hastings himself would have been the very last to sanction the version of the affair now given by the “Competition Wallah,” after a lapse of six years, whereby an invidious attempt is made to exalt that

officer's reputation at the expense of his responsible superiors. It may be safely asserted that Captains L'Estrange and Scott, of the 5th Fusileers, were quite capable of leading their own men at such a crisis ; yet no mention is made of those officers in the “Story." Like most fictions, however, this one seems to have been founded on a basis of fact. Mixed up with our fortunes on this occasion were about a dozen British volunteers, chiefly railway officials and merchants, who had, from generous and patriotic motives, accompanied the force from Buxar, and who looked to Hastings (himself a volunteer from the same locality) as their natural chief. In galloping along the line to transmit the order to L'Estrange, it is undoubtedly true that Hastings waved his sword and shouted to the volunteers and skirmishers to prepare for a charge, and nothing could be more natural than that one of them, in writing to his friends in Calcutta, should make Hastings his prominent hero. But Hastings was far too thorough-bred a soldier and gentleman to accept the well-meant, though dubious compliment, and lost not a moment in stating the exact truth in the most public und unmistakable manner.

It would seem as though the “Competition Wallah” had, in the course of his travels, come across this old piece of gossip, which savoured too much of romance to be resisted. My sole object in noticing it thus seriously is to prevent what is, in reality, an incomplete and injurious statement from being accepted as reliable material for history. Happily, both Major Scott and Captain Oldfield, of the 5th Fusileers, still survive, and are now in England, to corroborate, if need be, the facts I have stated. They can also state whether, at the most critical period of the battle, their men were really like a flock of frightened sheep, without a leader of their own, as represented, or whether, on the contrary, the utmost order and calmness had not prevailed among all ranks from first to last of that trying day. Our struggle, be it remembered, had been carried on, at in

« AnteriorContinuar »