Imágenes de páginas

error, which, if statesmen and legislators are misled by it, may be disastrous. It would be news to us that, among either the artisans or the peasantry of Great Britain, any such feeling as this last existed. We do not mean to say that early in the present century, when the factory question first came to the surface, there was not a very bitter feeling between employers and employed in some of our great centres of industry. But although the old controversy between labour and capital still survives, nobody will pretend to say that it is still marked by any of that personal animosity which is represented in the pages of Sybil.' In the rural districts there have been periods when a very angry feeling prevailed among the agricultural labourers; but that was roused by the introduction of machinery, and was chiefly direct ed against the farmers. The peasantry have quarrelled with the farmers, and the farmers have quarrelled with their landlords. But there has been no feud between the landlords and the peasantry. In some of the most recent reports of the Assistant Agricultural Commissioners there is evidence to show that the labourers in England fully appreciate the position of the gentry, understand the losses they have endured and the sacrifices they have made, and thoroughly sympathise with them. Again, there has been no hostility of any kind between the peasantry and the clergy. The clergy have done nothing to injure or to irritate them, even though we allowed, what is scandalously false, that they had done nothing to benefit them. Neither in towns nor country, therefore, would it be natural to expect any of that violent class feeling-beyond what is directly stirred up by Noncon

formist agitators—which by many very superior persons is alleged to prevail in them. If we can find no reason a priori why such feelings should exist, still less do we find any signs of them in contemporary facts. Discontented, disaffected men, longing for extensive changes and social revolution, do not usually vote for Conservatives. Yet this is what a large majority of the English working classes do.

We do not anticipate, therefore, that the "new democracy" will rise up en masse of its own accord and destroy the British Constitution. Three centuries of kindly relations between class and class leave an impression behind them which is not to be effaced in a day.

But at the same time we are never permitted to forget even for a moment that we have a new force to reckon with at the present day unknown to our forefathers, and that is agitation. By the use of this machinery small but resolute minorities are enabled to exercise a degree of influence out of all proportion to the real amount of public opinion by which they are supported. By noisy demonstrations attended by large crowds, which can be collected at a few hours' notice, they acquire among the thoughtless part of the nation a reputation for power and popularity which they do not really possess, and contrive to impress upon the same unreflecting class a vague kind of idea that it is useless to resist them. Behind all this noise, all these numbers, all this fiery indignation, there must, they think, be some amount of truth. Whether there really is any or not, they are too indolent to inquire; and in this way a kind of spurious public opinion is generated, which it is difficult to distinguish from the genuine, and is made to pass for such so often

that the difference between them is forgotten. Agitation is now reduced to a system and raised to the dignity of a profession. And this is the new power, and not the new democracy itself, which Conservatives really have to fear.

They have to fear it more especially for this reason, that it is a force with which they are not well qualified to cope. Agitation is not their role; yet it is difficult to fight the agitators except with their own weapons. It is their business to show that no good thing can come out of the Conservative party; to blacken every boon which they offer to the people; and to declare that, if they ever pass any measure for the benefit of the labouring class, they are only seeking to betray them with a kiss. It is the poison thus instilled into the minds of that numerous class who hold the destinies of England in their hands, which is the only thing likely to operate against their cordial reception of the new Conservative programme. And we

fear it is to the natural commonsense and love of fair-play to be found in Englishmen of all classes that we must look for an antidote, rather than to anything which Conservatives themselves can do to counteract the evil. The hopeful sign, on the other hand, is this, that both north and south of the Tweed there are evidently large sections of the population which are proof against this system of falsehood, and that more than half the working men have begun to find out that the Radicals have been only making cat's paws of them.

As for such flaring demonstrations as the Leeds Conference, we do not believe for a moment that a single convert will be made to the Gladstonian party by so transparent a device as this. The House of Lords has just saved the people from two great dangers : it has secured for them an opportunity of speaking their minds freely on certain great questions in which they are deeply interested, and has assisted to complete the work of local government begun and nearly finished by the previous Administration. And for this, forsooth, those who figure as the people's friends demand their condign punishment. What the House of Lords has done is not to injure the demos, but to discredit the demagogue. Hinc illæ lacrymæ. But there is nothing to be feared from this kind of thunder, as harmless as Mons Meg herself. It is the daily work of slander and calumny which is carried on by the emissaries of Radicalism in every pot-house in the kingdom which constitutes our real danger, and not the unwieldy and antiquated weapons fired off by Sir W. Lawson and Mr Labouchere. It is this creeping, crawling, but ubiquitous agitation which will come between the working man and the real practical benefits intended for him, if anything can have that effect. All that Conservatives can do is to try to brush away the lies as fast as they are spun. They cannot pelt the Radicals back again with their own mud. But they may hold aloft the Conservative banner, and take care that the people understand what is written upon it.

Printed by William Blackwood and Sons.

[blocks in formation]

SINCE the days when Ziethen and Seidlitz contributed so brilliantly to the victories of Frederick the Great, the cavalry arm has undergone considerable vicissitude. Quarter of a century ago the conviction was all but universal that there was no longer any métier for cavalry on the battle-field. At every field-day, in every newspaper, the cavalry was told that its sun had set for ever; and it was little wonder that under pressure so powerful the mounted arm came to distrust its own potentialities. But under the test of actual battle the theories of the pessimists went to water; and at Mars-la-Tour the charges of Bredow's brigade and of the 1st Guard Dragoons proved triumphantly what results well-led and well-disciplined cavalry could accomplish, even in the most unfavourable conditions, and against infantry still unshaken. The great fact came then to be realised, that the very intensity of the infantry


struggle creates moments of crisis, when the influence of control no longer has sway, and when, in spite of the fire of breechloading rifles, the bravest infantry, if assailed at the right moment, may be ridden over like a flock of sheep. Marsla-Tour created a revolution in the estimate of the cavalry arm held by the Great Powers of continental Europe. Since that memorable day they have been unanimous in the conviction that an adequate force of highly trained cavalry is absolutely indispensable to the safety and success of a modern army in the field, and they are exerting earnest and continuous effort to perfect the efficiency of their mounted arm in every detail.

The approaching cavalry manœuvres, which are to be held this year for the first time under the independent command and direction of the inspector-general of cavalry, may advantageously direct the attention of the country to


sundry questions of great importance alike to its protective and its financial interests. It is proposed in this article to inquire whether the cavalry arm of our military service has attained and continues to maintain the standard of efficiency demanded by the requirements of modern war, and therefore justifies its existence as a very costly item in the annual Army Estimates. If such inquiry shall result in the demonstration that the standard of efficiency in the cavalry is below that undoubtedly attained by the other arms, it seems eminently proper to determine to what extent this is so, and to attempt to ascertain on whom rests the blame for the injury inflicted on the country in being burdened with an unduly large charge for an inferior production.

In the consideration of this subject, it may be useful to the general reader to be briefly told what is the raison d'être of cavalry in modern war. Its role is twofold: on the march, and on the battlefield. On the march its cavalry are the eyes with which an army sees, and the ears with which it hears. From the beginning of an advance the cavalry is out in its front and on its flanks, at once protecting and informing the army, which marches safely and trustingly within the screen which it affords. The information which the zeal and the forwardness of the cavalry gathers and sends in has the advantage over that furnished by spies, in that it is furnished by professional soldiers who, because of their superior intelligence and conversance with the features of war, are capable of forming an opinion as to its value. As the advance proceeds, the cavalry divisions which precede the

respective armies presently come into collision; and it is the cavalry which has succeeded in defeating that of the enemy that thenceforth will achieve important successes in gaining intelligence. "Then only," in the words of Von der Goltz, "will individual officers and small detachments be able to penetrate to the enemy. A superior strength of advance-cavalry is master of the situation, the superiority not wholly consisting in numbers, but also in a just proportion of efficiency and numbers; and the weaker cavalry must accept the fate of being driven back upon its main body, to which it becomes rather an encumbrance instead of an advantage."

Valuable as are the services of the cavalry while acting as the eyes and ears of an army, its tactical duties on the battle-field are not of less importance. These may be briefly summed up as follows: To endeavour to gain the flank or rear of the enemy, with intent to gain information and create a diversion: to assist and support any movement of the other arms made with the object of outflanking the enemy: to prevent, retard, or give timely notice of any attempt of this nature made by the enemy: to push forward detachments along the roads by which reinforcements to the enemy may be expected, to give early notice of the approach of such, and to harass and impede them should they appear. It may be added that, as in the province of strategy, so in the sphere of tactics must the hostile cavalry be overthrown before any useful end can be obtained. The raison d'être of cavalry, then, may be shortly summed up as follows: (1) To carry out its strategic and

tactical rôle as generally outlined above; and (2) to everpower and paralyse the enemy's cavalry.

The necessity to an army of today of a sufficiently numerous and powerful cavalry force having been thus indicated, the reader may fairly desire to ask for a definition of the characteristics which constitute a perfectly efficient cavalry. The succinct reply is, that a cavalry force may be held to possess all the necessary attributes whose men and horses are physically fit in all respects for the cavalry servicethe men good riders and the horses thoroughly trained; which is equipped in the most serviceable manner; which is commanded and led by competent officers and leaders thoroughly known to their men, by whom they have been instructed and trained in peace-time, and in whom they have full confidence; which is possessed of an organisation lending itself most readily to the kind of work required in war, and requiring no radical changes on mobilisation; and, finally, which has has been thoroughly trained and instructed in all the duties it may be called upon to undertake in war by the officers who will lead and command it.

The first two of these attributes are simply the ordinary requirements of every reasonably efficient fighting body. But some comment is worth being made on the three latter, since in their fulfilment a principle is involved which is peculiar to this arm, and which is to it what fire-power is to the other arms, yet which is habitually disregarded in the preparation of our cavalry for war. It is an unquestioned fact-proved by history and testified to by leaders of experience in the most recent Continental wars- that when two

cavalry forces of fairly equal strength engage, victory will certainly belong to the side which possesses the higher morale. No one who cares to picture in imagination the conditions of a cavalry combat can fail instinctively to recognise that in it this quality must exercise a far more powerful influence than in any other kind of fight. What, then, are the elements which go to constitute this morale? They They are various and they are cumulative. The leader must be known and trusted by his men. The character and value of each individual man must be known to the leader by virtue of the latter's experience in the training and instruction of the former. The superior officers must be possessed of tried and acknowledged competence to command. An organisation must exist which shall keep close together in action men who have been trained and instructed together in peace-time. A spirit of mutual confidence must pervade all ranks, accompanied by the highest discipline and an individual and collective resolution to conquer or die.

While a high standard of morale, engendered by a sound organisation and a careful system of training and instruction, must imbue the whole body when acting together, this thorough military education is calculated to inspire in the individual non-commissioned officer and private trooper the noble virtues of self-command and self-reliance. In one of the most important duties of cavalry-the service of reconnaissance-the experience may befall a small scouting party, consisting mayhap only of a corporal and two men-nay, it may occur to one lone man-to be isolated in the midst of dangers, extrication from which can be ac

« AnteriorContinuar »