Page images

table, was, however, considered a terrible innovation, and resisted, as most improvements are. All these changes have taken place in the most familiar details of life.

Dress can scarcely have been said to be more attractive than the houses in which its owners dwelt in those days. A large square of muslin or silk folded in many folds was swathed two or three times round every man's throat, the corners of the shawl, for such it was, being tied in a straggling little knot in front; or, what was still worse, he wore a stock as stiff as iron, which was less troublesome to put on, but of a much more appalling effect. The coat was shaped like those which we all abuse as insane in their construction, the swallowtail now only known in evening dress. Insane it is, looked at in the abstract as a garment intended to cover a man's body; but there must be qualities in it, since it has borne the stress of ages and critics. But it is the dress of women and not of men which distinguishes the generations from each other. And here let us say a word for the modes of an elder time.

For we seem to see a kind of artless ideal in the forms of fashion in Queen Victoria's early days, which were not without their attraction, a little pathetic even, if properly considered. It was as if the happy thought of a young Queen, first to be considered in all such matters, had penetrated into the mind, if mind it can be called, of those mystic authorities who hold the female taste in fee. Fashion is not an intelligent nor highly educated spirit. It gropes its way blindly from one mode to another, and as often stumbles into as selects the variation which tells best. There came upon it, it would seem, in face of these unforeseen circumstances, a sudden sug

gestion of modesty, simplicity, a kind of virtue in apparel which was altogether new to the imagination of the costumière. Apparently the only thing that occurred to the bewildered genius of the mantuamaker as fit for this new age was the natural dress of extreme youth, a thing altering little, whatever are the fancies of the time, but for this once adapted as the mould of form. The short full skirt, the little puff of a sleeve, the little bodice shaped to the natural waist and surrounded by the primeval girdle, became the dress of the age. I dare not ask-such mysteries are beyond me

how a large and plump matron looked in this simple attire; but the young Queen, just after her accession, looked charming in it, as may be seen in her Majesty's picture, with pretty ankles visible and carefully sandalled with narrow ribbons above the little rational shoe, where there was room for all the toes and no heel to speak of. She looks as fresh as a rose, modest, simple as becomes her age. Let us hope that in these days most ladies were young. The intention, the meaning, was indeed very creditable to fashion. The impression left on one's mind was that, for once in a way, that old and battered Divinity which has presided over so many changes was overawed and struck dumb by an ideal of Innocence heretofore unknown to her, and that she gave her whole mind to the interpretation of that novel quality. Everything followed the model of this simplicity: the smooth young hair, glossy as satin, uncrimped, unfrizzed, untortured, was braided over the brow, behind or round the shell-like ear, all natural in the dazzle of youth, owing nothing to art. When not braided it might fall in ringlets supposed also to be natural, which hung on either side and half veiled

[ocr errors]

the drooping modest little countenance. Such was the ideal of those days. Nothing so saucy as a hat to be cocked upon an ingenuous head- the bonnet projecting over the cheeks, that no impertinent stare might disturb the composure of the vestal. Modesty was the mode, the artificial was banished and gone for ever. In the nature of things it could not last, any more than even a young Queen can be always young; but it was a pretty ideal-everything natural, even the ringlets curling at their will, falling in loose spirals. O Sancta Simplicitas! It is seldom that fashion takes such a virtuous turn.

We have had many changes of fashion since, but not much that we can feel to be inspired even unconsciously by the Queen, who so early retired from these splendours and veiled her head in the veil of the widowa fashion peculiar to our race alone, and one which, though many unkind things have been said of it, has always been beloved by the simplehearted public as the sign of constancy and faithful love. It is not in our opinion unbecoming, though it is common to say so. But dress has never been more magnificent than now: it has not had in this century anything like the same beautiful stuffs to deal with. Its materials are splendid, and there is no special wrong against the human form to be chronicled at this special period. If there is too much heaping up of gorgeous material and florid ornament, yet otherwise the form is left unspoiled, and the outline graceful and sweeping. Nothing could possibly be more different than the splendid show of a Drawing-Room nowadays and the

little girl's frock which was the ideal of fashion, 'tis sixty years since, in the beginning of the reign.

The changes we have attempted to describe are only such as have been witnessed by all who have lived, like her Majesty, through the trials and the vicissitudes of these sixty years-not wholly a joyful retrospect, perhaps, to any individual from the highest to the humblest; not even to the most truly thankful and the most truly blessed an occasion of thanksgiving unbroken by memories of sorBut beyond the personal circle of life in which all men and women are equal before God, what a glorious record of honour and prosperity and fame! In great Victoria's golden days what increase, what power, what progress, what incredible new forces and assistances brought to the service of the world! Still more and greater, what help, what pity, what solace to the sufferer


pain lessened, life prolonged, Charity enlarged and strengthened! When all other applauses fail, the glory of having reduced the measure of human suffering and vanquished Pain will remain an endless distinction of the Victorian age. And to the Queen above all others, to her own person and character, there remains the still fairer crown of unity woven for her special brows by a dozen great nations all one in her house, her allegiance, her loyal love and championship. Not for nothing come the Colonists shouting over the seas, the country-folk from their villages, the sons from far away. For love of the mothercountry and all she has givenbut yet again, and above all, for the love of the Mother-Queen.


To the travelling tourist who journeys comfortably by the NorthWestern Railway of India, across the five rivers of the Punjab, who drives in a four-in-hand up the Khaibar Pass to Ali Masjid, or who pauses to inspect the great military camp of Rawal Pindi, with its elaborate line of fortifications, it must be hard to realise that but fifty years ago our armies had scarcely established themselves in the province, and that the Lawrence brothers were engaged at Ranjit Singh's capital in working out the details of that administration which has since become the boast of English rule in India, and has helped to immortalise its founders.

The task of tranquillising the newly acquired dependency was no light one. Scattered through all the villages from the Sutlej to the Indus were the remnants of the armies of the Khalsa, which had measured their strength with ours so valiantly at Firozshah, Aliwal, and Sobraon. And, more difficult perhaps than even the Sikh soldiery to deal with, were the tribes of the wild hill country north of the Indus, who acknowledged allegiance neither to the rulers of Kabul nor to those of Lahore, and whose only fixed purpose was to plunder and ravage the fertile country in their vicinity whenever opportunity offered. Beyond them again were the mountains of Afghan istan, whose ruler, the redoubtable Dost Muhammad, did not fail to remember the fateful struggle of but seven years before; and though that struggle had ended in his final establishment on the throne of Kabul, yet it was but human nature that he should look with a


lenient eye on conduct which might give trouble and perplexity to his sometime aggressors. Thus it was that no mandate from Kabul could be looked for, even supposing it would have availed, to hinder the Pathans of the border from periodical depredations into the plains of the Punjab.

Henry Lawrence was the first to recognise the fact that the best method of checking these border raids would be with the aid of levies drawn from the clansmen themselves, and it was in accordance with this view that on the 14th December 1846 an order of Government was issued authorising the raising of a troop, or, to use the old Indian term, a ressalah, of cavalry, and two companies of infantry, the whole to be termed the "Corps of Guides."

To the command of this corps was posted Lieutenant H. B. Lumsden, and for a year and more he laboured unassisted at the rough task of making trained and loyal soldiery out of the wild warriors of the Peshawar border. Even at this early stage of their history the Guides soon won a foremost place amongst the troops of the frontier, and more than once in the year 1847 were detachments of the corps actively employed in quelling disturbances or avenging outrages. Meantime, therefore, there was little leisure for attention to details of drill or equipment, and the men were still but rough and ready soldiers in these respects when, in the spring of 1848, Lieutenant Lumsden brought his new formed corps to the Punjab capital. Here the Guides received an important addition in the person of Lieutenant


W. S. R. Hodson, of the 1st at Lahore came the news of the Bengal Fusiliers, who was ap- tragedy at Multan, where Vans pointed to do duty as adjutant Agnew and Anderson were sacriand second in command. Hodson, ficed by the treachery of the Diwan whose name afterwards became a Mulraj, and the first blow was household word as that of one of struck in that final struggle bethe bravest of the many daring tween Sikhs and British, which spirits who upheld the British ended in the annexation of the power in India in 1857, was at Punjab. The story of how Herthis time a subaltern of but two bert Edwardes, at the head of a years' service; but he had already few raw levies, hastened to the learned experience of hard fighting assistance of the British officers in the Sikh battles, and his energy at Multan, is famous among the and dash had attracted the notice "golden deeds" of the British in of so keen an observer of men as India. He arrived only to hear of Henry Lawrence. "Young Hod"Young Hod- the massacre in the Idgah, and to son has been appointed to do duty find the whole army of Mulraj with our Punjab Guide Corps," arrayed against him. Neverthewrote Herbert Edwardes, "I less he held his ground with his think he will do it justice. He little force, and by his firmness is one of the finest young fellows and determination did much to I know, and a thorough soldier at check the effects of the rising. heart." With him was a party of twentyfive of the Guides, and at the end of June he was joined by Lieutenant Lumsden with the whole of the cavalry of the corps. In the siege of Multan which followed, the Guides again and again distinguished themselves, either individually or as a corps; but one instance must suffice of the fearlessness and dash which thus early made them remarkable, and for which they have ever since been famous. One August day news was brought hurriedly to the British camp that a party of Mulraj's cavalry had driven off a herd of Government camels which were grazing in the open country some miles away. Lieutenant Lumsden was absent at the moment, but those of the Guides who were in camp, less than seventy horsemen in all, turned out under a gallant frontier chief, Fateh Khan by name, and, within a few minutes of the first alarm, they were racing across country in the direction taken by the

Some time was now spared, in the midst of more stirring duties, for completing the organisation and outfit of the Guides, and the Rev. George Hodson, in his brother's Memoirs,1 gives an amusing picture of the perplexity of the quiet English clergyman confronted with requests to select helmets, uniform, and carbines for the frontier soldiers of India. At any rate, the equipment of his choice was approved of, for in the following year Hodson wrote: "Sir Charles Napier says they are the only properly dressed light troops he has seen in India." The drab uniform thus selected has since become famous wherever Indian soldiers have borne arms, and is indissolubly connected with the many gallant deeds of the Corps of Guides.

But it was not long before sterner work claimed the energies of the Guides and their leaders. Within a few weeks of their arrival

1 Hodson of Hodson's Horse; or, Twelve Years of a Soldier's Life in India.

marauders. A gallop of three miles brought the troop suddenly within sight of the enemy, when, instead of a small party, as they had expected, they found themselves confronted with the whole force of Mulraj's cavalry. The apparition of so superior a force might well have checked the ardour of the pursuers; but no odds were so great as to appal the Guides. Without check or hesitation the gallant little band charged straight at the opposing mass of horsemen, and before the latter had time to face them, they had cut their way right through their midst. Rapidly rallying and wheeling about, they charged back, as they had come, through the ranks of the confused and astonished enemy, dealing destruction as they passed. Stupefied by the impetuosity of the attack, the Sikhs still stood irresolute, when, before they could decide whether to retreat or retaliate, once again their dauntless foes bore down upon themi. This settled the issue of the combat: before the whirling line of Guides horsemen could close with them a third time the enemy broke and fled, closely pursued by Fateh Khan and his victorious band, nor did either side draw rein till the walls of Multan gave shelter to the vanquished and checked the career of the pursuers.

Meanwhile the news of the revolt of Mulraj had kindled the flames of discontent, which had been smouldering throughout the Punjab. In the dying struggle of the Sikhs, which thus began, the Guide Corps had not the good fortune to be present at the principal battles of the beginning of the campaign; but the infantry under Hodson nevertheless distinguished themselves in the harassing guerilla warfare of the Jullundur Doab, and there they were

joined shortly before the end of the war by Lieutenant Lumsden with the cavalry, relieved from their arduous work at Multan by the fall of that city. In February 1849 the whole corps joined Lord Gough's "army of the Punjab' just in time to be present at the final battle of Gujrat, and to accompany Sir Walter Gilbert in his pursuit of the beaten foe to the northern frontier of the Punjab.

The services of the corps had been so conspicuous during the war that its strength was immediately afterwards increased to three troops of cavalry and six companies of infantry.

For the next eight years the Guides were almost incessantly engaged with the frontier tribes of the Peshawar district, and the despatches relating to the numerous expeditions and raids of this period never fail to refer to the exploits of the men and the gallantry and judgment of their leaders. When, in May 1857, the news of the Bengal mutiny reached' Peshawar, the command of the Guides was in new hands. Only two months before, Lieutenant Lumsden had started on a political mission to Kandahar, escorted by a party of his own men, nor did he return thence till the war of the Mutiny was over. But though he was thus deprived of the distinction of commanding his men. at one of the most famous periods of their history, yet his services during the previous ten years had already earned for him no common reputation. "A braver or a better soldier," wrote Sir Charles Napier and Sir Colin Campbell of Lumsden in 1851, "never drew a sword; and Lord Dalhousie, the greatest of India's Governors-General, cordially endorsed their praises. Lieutenant Lumsden's after career amply proved how well merited

« PreviousContinue »