Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

and yet hasty, shuffle up the great suspicious uncertain hand tries the echoing staircase; but as I stood door doubtfully—now it creaks upon still to listen, now the silence crept its hinges-nowand stagnated around me without a My dearest friend! you cannot be human sound to break it. Nothing half or a hundredth part so much but the rain outside, the wet leaves disappointed as I was; for as the against the window, not even the door creaked, and the guilty step familiar pulse of a clock to soften advanced, and my heart beat with the painful stillness. My thoughts wild expectation, I awokewere of the blackest. I concluded I am ashamed to confess the no better than that murder, cowardly humiliating truth-awoke to find and base, was in this house, which I, myself in my own crimson easy-chair, alone and unsupported, had come to after dinner, with the fire glowing beard, accuse, and defy in its own into the cosy twilight, and no dark stronghold. But, fired with excite- avenue or lonely manor-house within ment, I feared nothing—thought of a score of miles. Under the circumnothing but a possible spectacle of stances, I am grieved to add that the horror concealed within one of these deepest mystery, a gloom which I unknown rooms, and of the question fear I may never be able to peneperpetually on my lips, Where is the trate, still hangs darkly over the Squire ?

ways of Witcherley, and the fate of At length, as I listened, a foot the old Squire. sounded upon the stair, heavy, some- Had Joseph's young master come times rapid, sometimes hesitating, only five minutes sooner-but fate is the true step of guilt. I felt assured inexorable; and though I have made it was the son, the parricide! My investigations through a primitive heart beat with choking rapidity, a nook of country, and missed a train cold dew rose upon my forehead, and with resignation in the pursuit of I turned to the door to face the new- knowledge, I have never fallen upon comer with the fervour and zeal of an that rainy pathway across the field, avenger. Now for the solution of nor come to the Witcherley Arms this horrible mystery! And now & again.

ROUTINE.

Periods occur in British history when he sees them in the dishes when there is no public grievance. with his beef and pudding. These Weary times these are when Bull are likewise bad times for agitators, lies on his back greatly disordered The business is so brisk that the because nothing particular disagrees intervention of brokers or middlewith him, and repels all attempts to men is impossible. Every man does rouse himn with wrathful suspicion, his own grievance-work, and a dreadas Mr. Weller, in his second widow- ful Babel there is. They are glorihood, refused the proffered consola- ous times nevertheless. Besides the tion of his handmaiden. The most great trunk grievances, there are temptingly bedizened wrong cannot ramifications and sidings to suit entice him from his torpor. Agi- all tastes and capacities. A man tators rack their brains in vain, and may not only feast at the great pubcontemplate the horrid prospect of lic ordinaries of grievances, but he being driven to honest courses. O may discuss select grievances at his for a good, palpable, working griev- symposium, or pick his own morsel ance! It were worth more than a grievance in his chamber, if he be of new pleasure was to the Persian. unsocial temperament. The air is

Other periods happen when griev- thick with grievances; they fly about ances are as plentiful as blackberries; like bats. Anon, they begin to arwhen a man finds them out without range themselves in sections, each leaving his fireside ; when he stum- section being still independent and bles over them as he walks abroad; erratic. The big grievance attracts

menon.

and absorbs the smaller fry within the store-ships topsy-turvy; it made its influence, and is itself absorbed the medical officers negligent at Scuinto a grievance still greater. At tari ; it left our position before Selength three or four swollen and bastopol unfortified; and it caused mighty grievances contend for em- us to be surprised at Inkermann. pire. Death or proscription disposes Whatever evil was done, whatever of the unsuccessful, and a victorious, good was left undone, Routine had despotic grievance reigns autocrat of to answer for. It was a target for the minds and acts of Britons. Pri- all sorts of missiles. Charity boys vate grievances are no longer toler- fleshed their pens on it; penny-aated. The poor man's grievance, liners grew fat on it; it was a godwhich lay in his bosom, and was to send to stump-orators, and an object him as a daughter, is torn from him, of vituperation for everybody. Bull that the monster grievance may be was unmistakably aroused, and dean atom more monstrous. All minor termined to be down on something. grievances fly to attach themselves Had his wrath descended on those to the leviathan grievance, as did the whom we take to have been the real nails of the royal Calender's ship to culprits, it is probable that they the exigeant mountain.

would have received a souvenir that This is not an everyday pheno- would have hung round their necks

It is rare as a grand epic, to the last day of their lives. But as the bloom of an aloe, or as when the red cloak was shown to him in Mrs. Fruitful, mindful of the short- the form of Routine: he rushed at ness of existence, compresses the the rag, while his cunning tormenwork of a lifetime into a few months, tors slunk away unscathed. and presents the enviable Fruitful It is well for a denounced object with four scions at a birth.

when it consists of many members, In 1854 and 1855, however, things or when, under the name of a scheme were much in this case. Every writer or system, all who are in any degree in a provincial paper, every toper on

answerable for it are made to divide an alehouse bench, every beggar un- the odium. Like the corporations der a hedge, set forth his view of our felicitated by Lord Thurlow, collecwrongs, and his remedy for the evils tive bodies may outlive a degree of that afflicted us. The cries, discor- popular displeasure which would dant at first, began soon to sound overwhelm an individual. And it more and more in unison, till at last was well for all connected with Routhey were all modulated to a com- tine that when the general fury demon note, and syllabled their sounds scended on it their name was Legion. into the name of Routine. Voracious Some were prostrated by the storm; as the rod of Aaron, Routine devoured some bent before it; but a large small abominations, and monopolised majority repudiated the thing--dethe public odium. Routine, as we clared that they had exercised it only used to say in Persia, was the father under pressure and under protest; and grandfather of mismanagement. and, to evince their zeal in its supRoutine thwarted the designs of Smith pression, initiated and boasted of of Birmingham for the early reduc- a wild disorder which would have tion of Sebastopol, the excellence of turned any system into a chaos. which is attested in letters from the Whether any practical improvement Duke of Newcastle to this day in took place in the working of the Smith's possession. Routine pre- public departments is more than we vented that great contract calculated can answer for. Another Secretary at two plums to Brown, not to of State has been called to office and mention the inestimable benefit to pay; the Ordnance has ceased to Brown's beloved country.

Routine exist; dozens of new offices have acdebarred Ensign Robinson, of the quired a being, and dozens of others Chronicle, from proceeding to the are called by new names. But let East, taking command of the army, any man having a claim, project, or and at once gloriously terminating complaint to submit to the authothe campaign. Routine brought the rities, despatch his foolscap to Downcholera to Varna. Routine freighted ing Street, Pall-Mall, or Whitehall,

under the cabalistic H. M. S., and he of a government, an army, or a navy, it will learn, we think, though not soon, is indispensable. Wherever the wills that the course of office is rather of an individual or of a few are to more tedious than it was three years govern the lives and actions of many, ago. Still papers must collect dust there routine must have place, for on desks while noble lords enjoy Routine is the handmaid of order. deer-stalking, or ignoble officials read An army, to merit the appellation the Times and consume their fore- “ Exercitus,” and to be distinguished noon repast. Still they are shuttled from a rabble, must be familiar with forwards and backwards, acquiring established forms of motion, position, a meaningless minute at each tro- dress, habits of living and feeling, pic, and the writer may, at the not to mention accounts, returns, end of ten or twelve weeks, get punishments, rewards, and records. them back, enriched with these Above all, the habit of obedience briefs, and not improved in general must be manifest in every isolated or appearance by travelling; but he conjoint proceeding at all connected must repeat the process, and make with military duty. Routine is the many trials like this of his patience, sole means by which discipline can before he receives an answer to his exist. It is essential to combined communication.

exertion. It is study for all in It is not, however, to descant on authority. It must be respected by the doings in public offices that we all under authority. Mr. Carlyle, to have now taken up the pen. Our whom so few existing things are theme is Routine, which we think as satisfactory, is pleased to commend much deserving of investigation as it a 74-gun ship in commission. Nay, ever was, notwithstanding that the the learned and implacable censor Times has ceased to roar at it, and condescends to be eloquent in admithat we have lately stood three or ration of her, and to discourse as folfour times preprandially on a hearth- lows:rug without hearing the subject men- “It has inarticulate traditions, tioned. Distance, instead of en- ancient methods and habitudes in it, chanting, seems rather to clear the stoicisms, noblenesses, true rules both view, and the present occasion is of sailing and of conduct; enough to more proper for profitably consider- keep it afloat on nature's veridical ing the matter than when every man bosom after all. . . If it meet with the word on his lips had pre- with hurricanes, it rides them out; judged the case in his heart. Hence if it meet an enemy's ship, it shivers it is that we are not yet disposed to it to powder; and, in short, it holds let the much-belaboured subject drop, on its way, and to a wonderful exbut would play out the play, having tent does what it means and pretends something to say on behalf of this to do." Routine.

She deserves this praise. No meNow, although we admit that the chanism can be more exact than her outcry was called for, and that the wondrous parts. She testifies not public dissatisfaction was natural, only of present skill and energy and we cannot consent to regard offend- system all working together in that ing Routine as an incubus. It is to wooden hive, but of the skill and the body politic or military what the vigour of years long past. She is a blood is to the natural body. It is thing for an Englislıman to be proud the means by which vitality is trans- of- but she is the creature of routine. mitted from the centre through to From the day when the axe was laid the extremities of a system, and by to the root of the oak to this hour which parts and extremities har- when she floats an epitome of the moniously respond to the centre. science, power, and enterprise of the Interrupt it, you disable a limb or nation and of the age, Routine has a faculty; annihilate it, and you produced, maintained, and perfected have no longer organisation. With- her. out it there can be no economy in a Having said that Routine is necesmanufactory, or workshop, or even a sary, and that its results are admirable, household; but to the very existence we shall be expected to explain how

and why we consider it deserving of indisputable. He is supreme, not the clamour which it not long since only in matters of disciple, manexcited. In doing so we reject the @uvring, and operations of offence solution frequently hinted at “that and defence, but likewise in finance, it was carried to excess, and so be- stores, rations, clothing, and every came an impediment." Our opinion local arrangement. No doubt he is, that the more you extend Routine, must give account of his proceedings the more efficient you are likely to in th respects, but a great and make the department which receives able man will not shrink from reit. We must look deeper for a reason sponsibility. He cannot, of course, why that which was ordained unto bear the blame of withholding suplife we have found to be unto death. plies at home, or of indifference there We believe that Routine has been to the wants of his force. But everymade odious by ignorance, imbecility, thing on the spot is absolutely under and corruption. No able statesman, the control of the commander-in-chief; general, or admiral, ever waged war and if all is not used to the best adwith Routine. They understand vantage, he, and not routine, is to be both the use and the abuse of it. blained. We used to hear of stoves They can distinguish between the being remorselessly retained in store means and the end, and will not suffer while soldiers starved with cold and the former to take the place of the hunger ; of hay-bales floating in latter. The great Duke and glorious Balaklava harbour, while emaciated Nelson were friends of Routine. Their horses were abandoned by their achievements could not have been owners; and of a multitude of similar without it. That old Spanish Infantry enormities. Surely such disorders with which the Marshal could " bave might have been rectified without an gone anywhere and done anything”- Act of Parliament or a national ferthat fleet wherein England expected, mentation ! Certain

are we that and not vainly, that every man would under the Duke of Wellington in the do his duty-were the perfection of Peninsula, they would not have enRoutine; and their commanders knew dured two days. If the commander it. It is only when incapable, infirm, cannot, in cases of great emergency, or dishonest men are put in situa- where there is no time for reference tions of responsibility that it appears to himself and his immediate subordisadvantageously. One who can- dinates, delegate to colonels of reginot do, must find excuse for his in- ments the power of drawing from activity. He dares not say, “I am store what is necessary for their solincompetent,” but he can find old diers, especially their sick, he may at orders and regulations, never meant least appoint as many officers as are for such cases, which conveniently required to execute that service, atforbid him to move or to see, or to de- taching them to regiments, or even cide when he is indisposed or unable to troops and companies. Nullum to do these things. Routine might numen abest si sit prudentia. But have saved the Danish fleet at Co- where a feeble will arises out of a conpenhagen, or ruined the French army scious inability to oversee and to act, on the plateau of Rivoli; it might everything connected with the service have justified the loitering in Hamo- must appear to disadvantage. Proaze of the Pallas while a French bably our military grievances, which frigate flaunted at the Mewstone, or were attributed to Routine, may be have prevented the passage of the reduced, or nearly so, to one great Douro. But Nelson and Napoleon, defect-the advanced age of the Cochrane and Wellington, were supe- superior officers. It is fair to suprior to Routine.* It was their ser- pose that if this were corrected, many vant, not their master.

others, which have been singly asThe authority of the general com- sailed, and their remedies attempted, manding in the field is absolute and would at once disappear. Take for

* But for the illustrious names in the text we had not forborne to mention the royal palace of Lilliput, which must have become a cinder had not the soul of Lemuel Gulliver risen above Routine!

instance the alleged incompetency assist in the achievement. What of the Staff. It is pretty clear matters it to a man who hopes how this is caused. Elderly generals to transmit a coronet to his eldest have sons and nephews arrived at son, and an honoured name to all manhood, for whom they desire well- who follow him, whether or not his paid appointments. They think more hopeful's pay be at the present moof placing those relatives in situations ment increased by ten shillings a-day, which are likely to supply plausible or whether a partial despatch gain excuses for their promotion, than the lad a brevet-majority ? Away they do of surrounding themselves with such miserable considerations. with an able and efficient staff. In- “There is goodly work toward' stead, therefore, of seeking through which shall make his name and race the army for the most accomplished illustrious; he sees in the distance and energetic aids, they appoint those the great reward, and can wait in whom they feel an interest, whether awhile for it. Meantime let the the officers so selected are qualified youths jog along as they can; better or not. The opportunity is too tempt- days are in store ; but, that the hope ing to be missed. The general him- be made as sure as possible, let the self may not last long, and this is aid be sought of all those best qualiperhaps his only chance of putting fied to secure its fulfilment. This is his beloved kinsmen in the way of the rational view of the case. A promotion. True, one is wild and Wellington or a Napoleon would not thoughtless, almost a child; another, barter the mighty space of his large though older, understands dogs and honours" for paltry or present conhorses, and very little else. He siderations. would deliver an order of ten words Again, let the leaders be men in in exceptionable English-never has the prime of life, and not only will used a pencil save to book his bets, they be likely to select a creditable and, in knowledge of the art of war, staff, but they will scarcely tolerate would probably bow to Mr. Widdi- senility or incapacity in any suborcombe. Nevertheless it would be dinate situation. The tu quoque once unnatural were they to be set aside silenced, they would speedily use the on these grounds. They will do as power belonging to their office to rewell, no doubt, as others similarly move all who should be unable to situated. The general has learned in execute fairly the duties required of his long service to take care of Num- them. Cominanders able and deterber One, if he has learned little be- mined to do, must very soon be folsides : he has but small private for- lowed by a host of their own charactune to leave them, and must, if he ter. They communicate life to the can and while he can, push their for- whole machine. Secure but these tune in the service; therefore, bon gré at the head, and we feel certain the mal gré, the youths are laced up, and effect would be as remarkable and as placed in the responsible positions of encouraging as when, in the tale, staff-officers-positions which ought after a series of contradictions and to be filled by the élite of the army.* crosses, the fire began to burn the

Now, this is not so likely to occur stick, the stick began to beat the dog, if generals, instead of being old, are the dog began to do his devoir, and middle-aged men. In the first place, in short, a Routine of the most satisthey being younger, are less likely to factory nature was established. have grown-up sons and nephews; It is needless to enlarge upon the and, in the second place, if they have increased probability of checking these, they have probably & soldier's peculation, skulking, or imposture, ambition swelling high in their by a commander not yet past his breasts, which will induce them not work. Ca va sans dire. In fact, we only to dare great things, but to avail firmly believe that, but for one deeply theinselves of all accessories that may rooted evil, of which we shall shortly

Let it be remembered that we are commenting on a practice—not attacking individuals. All honour to our brave staff-officers who did their work, and they were many. But the system does not tend to the selection of such.

« PoprzedniaDalej »