« AnteriorContinuar »
fashion. of their prototypes in the Transvaal, they cared but little as to the trouble they might bring upon their country so that their money-bags were safe.
These gentlemen having taken to themselves Señor Villanueva, who had been Minister of Agriculture under the Conservatives, apparently saw in Melilla an opportunity of doing business after the fashion of their kind. Without regard to the fact that the Riff is an integral part of the same Empire that Spain by signing the Act of Algeciras had pledged herself to save, they went to the Roghi, then a rebel in the field, and from him got a concession to work some mines a mile or two miles outside the Spanish lines.
They must have known that no concession from a rebel in the field could possibly be binding on the Sultan when once he was established on his throne. With as much reason might a Moor, when George II. reigned, have got concessions from Rob Roy to work mines in the Highlands and then expected George to ratify them.
The concession granted, the next thing was to construct a railway to bring provisions to the mines, for to the present day no word has reached the outside world of any mineral being sent down to the coast. A company was slowly formed under the presidency of Villanueva, the chief founder being the Duke of Tovar; the Count of Romanones and a Scotch Spaniard called McPherson, an employé of the Marquis of Comillas in the Transatlantic Line.
The pity of it is that they neglected to provide a good photographer to take them in a group.
Had they done this, and written on the picture "Rio de Oro, La Tabacalera, Subsidy to the Transatlantic" and all the rest of their great national undertakings for the development of Spain
and their own pockets, much trouble had been saved.
The efforts of the company being conducted in the true Spanish style ("let my death come from Spain" was a saying in the Middle Ages), a new company was formed in Paris, but with Señor Garcia Alix for the Spanish figure-head.
It is not fully known whether the second company secured a new concession or merely worked upon the old one, but in any case concessions cost El Roghi nothing, and usually put something in his purse. Early this spring, Spain sent a mission up to Fez, the ambassador being Señor Merry del Val, the brother of the Cardinal.
This gentleman apparently thought to carry everything by fire and sword, with the result that his mission was a failure, and he will probably be sent to represent his country in Tristan d'Acunha or in Fernando de Noronha or whatever place is the equivalent in Spain for Stellenbosch.
One of the demands he laid before the Sultan was that he should ratify the concessions of the mines near Melilla which had been given by the Roghi, a rebel in the field.
The Sultan naturally refused, and the ambassador left Fez, as the French put it, bredouillé, or we, in English, with his tail between his legs.
Being a weak man, he exhaled his rage in threats, and told a friend of mine that if the matter came to war. he would have every man in Spain behind him, for, as he said, the ancient cry "War with the Moor" was never known to fail.
This dictum of the ambassador shows how much he knew of national feeling, for it may be said that with the exception of the capitalists and clergy there is no single man or woman in all Spain in favor of the war.
Hardly had Señor Merry del Val returned from Fez than the slaughter
of four Spanish workmen happened at the Melilla mines. Instantly, without rhyme or reason, came the intervention, without apparently a moment's thought of justice or recollection of the falseness of the position of the concessionaries, working as they were upon a title which no sane man could approve.
Let us examine quietly what had occurred. A Moorish freebooter, such as was Rob Roy in Scotland, had given a concession for the working of a mine to men who were well educated, one of them (Romanones) having been a Liberal Minister of State. This man at least (even supposing that Tovar, McPherson and the Marquis of Comillas all were uneducated men) must certainly have known the bearings of the case.
Instead of representing to the Sultan of Morocco (the potentate his government had pledged itself to aid, and also to maintain the integrity of his dominions), Spain rushed straight to a crusade. There is no doubt Tovar, Comillas, Romanones, and the commander of the army in Melilla thought it such, though clearer-minded people see it was nothing but a filibustering raid.
Let us suppose, just for a moment (since we are, as I hear, a Christian nation) that the old Lex talionis is still in force. Four Christians had been slain; nothing would have been easier than to send out and shoot four Mussulmans. After this act of Peralvillo justice (which perhaps might have been made still more palatable to those concerned by shooting eight of the Moorish dogs instead of four, for cent. per cent. is almost certainly a law of God), had Spain been really a civilizing Power she could have approached the Sultan and got a new concession of the mines; this would have put the thing upon a business footing, and if the mines prove worth the working,
LIVING AGE. VOL. XLV. 2338
they then could have been worked with a clear conscience and a fair chance of success.
Spain, though the least of all the European Powers, must needs go to work in just as arbitrary a fashion as do the greatest, with the result we
Her troops have had a serious reverse. Two or three thousand miserable conscripts have been slain, the national prestige has had another blow, and for a week the country has been verging on rebellion while the throne tottered to its base.
This takes us back again across the straits, those straits which, in the Middle Ages, bore the ominous name "The Gate of the Road," meaning thereby that by that path the Moors had entered Spain.
Nothing is easier, now that Barcelona has been swept by artillery and no return of killed or wounded has been forthcoming, or will ever be;. now when again "Peace reigns in Warsaw" (as one might say)-nothing is easier than to depreciate all that has taken place.
Just in the same way that a broncotwister riding a wild colt, or on the southern Pampa a gaucho on his bagual sticks out his feet and leans a little sideways in the saddle, saying that horses nowadays do not buck half so hard as they did years ago when he has sat some dozen or two plunges and the horse begins to give his head, so does a government that just has held its own behave when it has drowned a rising in men's blood.
For all that, just as the broncotwister or the gaucho still keeps a watchful eye on the wild horse's ears, and pats him cautiously upon the shoulder, so does a government comfort itself with words.
That this is so in Spain is proved to demonstration by the edict of the king published August 5 abolishing the
right to buy exemption from military to build up a republic, and that both service, and thus ending a scandal which figured in the forefront of the national protest against the stupid war.
This fact, and also the release of nearly all the prisoners from the dark dungeons of that Spanish Schlusselburg, Montjuich, shows amply that the Government has had a fright. Certainly they have had good cause.
In spite of all the specious misrepresentation of the newspapers, the cry against the war (Guerra á la Guerra) has been spontaneous, and not a rising only of the Anarchists in Catalonia.
In Catalonia, where the people are fierce and turbulent and where, moreover, a Separatist (Conservative) agitation is always going on, they have appealed to force. In the Castilles and the Basque Provinces, even in hedonistic Andalusia, the feeling has been deep and indignant at seeing Spanish blood poured out and Spanish honor prostituted at the beck and call of a few money-mongers.
Such little and contemptuous popu larity as has hitherto been accorded to the king on account of youth, and being born in Spain and having grown up in Madrid, seems to have vanished. For the meantime, the throne seems safe, once more the dynasty (that lost the colonies) is saved, but without honor. It now remains upon probation, and mostly by the fact that there are no Republicans out of whose ranks The English Review.
parties, Liberal and Conservative alike, are hopelessly corrupt.
During the last ten years of tarnished honor to the national flag, of stern repression of all Liberal expression, Spaniards have had full time for self-examination. Never before, in all her history (since the day when Spanish liberty was lost at Villalar and the disastrous Austrians came to reign over her), has Spain been so convulsed, not even in the War of Independence, where her dear Latin, transpyrenean brothers stabled their horses in her churches, and carried fire and sword throughout the land. What may come of the now seething cauldron when it cools down no man can say.
One thing is certain, Spain wants peace. Peace to build up her commerce, peace to heal old wounds, and her best friends would rather see her lose the whole of her possessions on the coast of Africa, useless and costly as they are, than plunge into a war.
All that she lost in Cuba and the West Indies has been gain to her. Her commerce has improved, her national credit has become more stable since the war. There is no reason why, in fifty years, she shall not once again be a Great Power, if she will comprehend the full significance of the cry which has lately rung in every street of every Spanish town: "Spain's future is in Spain!"
R. B. Cunninghame Graham.
FOREWORD. My Dear J- W——————,
AS IT HAPPENED.
When I set about this ticklish business of writing a Second Book (one's First is, as it were, secreted unconsciously), you, in the kindly-shrewd manner native to you, bade me beware of Three Things.
"In your story," said you, "let there be none of This"; and you shall find, as I think, none of This in it, or not much.
"Avoid That," you enjoined with minatory forefinger; and That, too, have I avoided, so far as was possible.
"Keep clear o' The Other," you urged,
"for too liberal seasoning spoils the dish, dims the memory of what went before, and weakens the gust for what follows"; and of The Other have I kept clearnearly-but not quite.
What This and That may be you and I know, and is the business of nobody else; for what's missed is mystery. But as for The Other, I'll own 'twas against Impossibilities you warned me -from the introduction of feats, whether moral or physical, beyond the scope of mortal man.
And this, alack! have I done-twice.
That a sane man should behave as I have represented a sane man behaving in Bk. V. chap. vi. is one instance. That a human being should be found alive under the circumstances related in Bk. VI. chap. xi. is another. Both are Impossibilities.
Yet (hear my excuse, such as it is), both are historical facts as well accredited as any that I know of.
For the former I refer you to a curious old Tract entitled The Fighting Sailor Turn'd Peaceable Christian: manifested in the Convincement and Conversion of Thomas Lurting. With a short Relation of many great Dangers and wonderful Deliverances he met withal. First Written for Private Satisfaction, and Now Published for General Service.
London: Printed and Sold by J. Sowle, in White Hart Court, in Gracious Street, October 1710.
This is that Lurting who was the friend of a certain George Fox, and I hold him to be the witness of truth, notwithstanding the Impossibility of what he relates. Him, or some part of him, have I annexed and reset amid eighteenth-century surroundings, for which liberty may the heroic soul pardon me.
This is my Moral Impossibility. For the physical, and yet greater (if there be degrees in impossibility), I will send you to Captain Sayer's
History of Gibraltar, Saunders, Otley & Co., London, 1862.
For liberties taken with history I have little to repent me of. As you know, the Madras Cabal was a black business. As you also know, the assault upon the North Front in my last chapter has no warrant from the page of stout old Drinkwater. The omission, albeit no fault of his, will always seem to me a blemish upon a remarkable work. There should certainly have been an attempt at escalade, but there wasn't. If I have rectified the deficiency, and done more than justice to the military genius of Mendoza, who is hurt?
I remain, my dear J-W With renewed thanks for your counsel and encouragement,
IN OLD MADRAS
CHAPTER I A CRISIS
The guns were going in Old Madras that day in June in the year of our Lord 1778. Fort St. George was firing salvo after salvo in token of victory. Bastions, still pitted with the shotmarks of Lally's cannonade of twenty years before, quivering with the shocks of a feu de joie that informed whomsoever it might concern-Blacktown to the north there, and Pudupuk, Mylapore Sao Thomé, and the ring of suburbs west and south-that the power of France in the Indies was broken at last, and that the chief of King Louis's forts and factories had struck their flags without firing a shot.
Good news, great news this, which the subalterns of the garrison were wetting British fashion. Older heads, remembering the up-and-down fighting of five-and-twenty years, wagged powdered wigs over it, opining that
Ponthe luck was too good to last. dicheri held out, and what about Mahé? Would Hyder Ali stand aside and let us take it? God send King George and John Company no worse The felluck! But was it likely? low had probably refitted by this after the knockings about and carryings away of his last campaign; he would be spoiling for another fight, and a smack at us would be entirely in his line (dev'lish hard hitter, Hyder Ali); and this new falling out between French and British was a chance he would be a fool to let slip.
Boom! Boom!! Every weathercock, shifting of late, pointed to war, bloody war by land and sea, to forts to be stormed, to factories to be looted, districts to be annexed or held to ransom, prizemoney to be divided, to promotion for moistening the
feverish lips at the prospect; but, for the oldsters, shaken by climate and hard living, wrinkled, yellow men in their early middle age, who knew in themselves that one more campaign would be as much as they could stand, those sounded ominguns
Boom! Boom!! The recurrent shocks
went pulsing away inland, stimulating It was but a memory as they went. few years since this same Fort St. to these George surrendered had French; still more recently the Mahrattas had attacked it, had fallen back from its embattled strength indeed, but had held its suburbs for weeks. Now, it goes without saying that a horde of sowars is bad for the trading community upon which it chooses quarter itself, hence, at the sound of the guns, the sowkar bethought him of his secret strongroom beneath the mud of the tank, and certain British residents, planters, and retired Company's servants, who had speculated in land and built themselves bungalows
in these suburbs, were weighing their chances.
Boom! Old Chisholm was standing at the couch-side of his dying wife. "It "She disna ken me," he mused. is a week syne she has spoken ma name," he frowned helplessly, pawing a great beard, revolving many things, and presently resigned the wasted, unresponsive body to its women watchers, and left the twilit room again for the shade of the tree whence he could see the top-sails of the Indiaman which was to sail for Home next day.
Ian Chisholm had not seen Scotland for many a year; he was a rich man: the dying woman within there was his only tie to the east. Were she deadand her death, as he sorrowfully recognized, was but a matter of hours now-he would consider matters.
Boom! In another bungalow, whitewalled and shaded by its mango tope, a lean, sick man turned wearily upon his charpoy and lent a listening ear. The punkah drove warm gusts about the room and shook the hanging chicks, but he felt himself sufficiently alone to steal a swift, covert glance from beneath the black penthouse of bristling brows at a brace of horseBoom! One pistols upon the wall. peep was enough; they hung there ready for use, it seemed. He nodded and dozed again.
Boom! Boom!! To his Excellency the Governor those guns knocked like the knuckles of some expected but unknown visitor. An anxious man was Mr. Thomas Rumbold. He will be a baronet before he dies, and what concerns us more to-day, shall and beget a line of fighting men diplomatists for the service of the Empire, of whom one is still with us. In his time he had used both sword and pen; an empty sleeve attested service under Clive; he had sate in Parliament for Shoreham, and would presently find it needful to sit again,