Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

“HER MAJESTY'S OPPOSITion"

IN 1887.

To those who have faith in by means of those oratorical disParliamentary government, the plays which have become almost condition of the representative, essential in these days of large or, more properly speaking, the constituencies and extended franelective, branch of the British chise. Such displays, having gained Legislature must at this moment the desired end of election, have be a matter of the most profound been perhaps expected, by the disappointment and regret. The local electorate before whom they most practical and hard-working have been exhibited, to be repeatof races would seem to have in- ed before the House of Commons trusted the performance of its with an equally satisfactory result. legislative business to hands Thus, even if the ingredient of which are either totally incompe- personal vanity had been absent, tent or utterly unwilling to dis- the new member has found himcharge that business after a sen- self urged, by the necessity of sible and workmanlike fashion. satisfying his constituents, to adThe waste of time is enormous, dress the House of Commons on the hours consumed in discussions various questions which could have of an eminently unpractical char- been satisfactorily discussed and acter are numerous beyond meas- settled without his intervention ; ure, and it is impossible but that and by this means the length of the reputation of the House of debates has increased to an inCommons should be lowered in the definite extent, and the power of eyes alike of the British public, the House of Commons to tranwho have hitherto regarded it sact business has been proporwith pride, and of the world beyond tionally curtailed and diminished. the seas, which has believed it to be from this point of view, it is one of the main bulwarks of the fair to allow that there is some free constitution of Great Britain. excuse for honourable members, The causes of this deterioration in who know that their chances of the Lower House of Parliament re-election to a new Parliament may be variously estimated and depend, in a greater or less degree, explained. There are those who upon their maintaining in the dewill attribute the evil solely to bates of the House their local the change which, since the Re- reputation for oratorical ability. form Bill of 1832, has gradually It is needless to discuss the quescrept over the constituencies, caus- tion whether such a cause suffiing them to require different qual- ciently accounts for the state into ities in a representative from those which the House of Commons has which, before that date, were ac- fallen, or whether the increase of counted his best recommendation. business which has to be performed, When borough or county seats in comparison with that with were in the hands of patrons or which the unreformed Parliament of a small body of electors, it was had to deal, must not also be not so necessary as at present that partly credited with the evil of a candidate for a seat in Parlia- which we complain. A still graver ment should possess the art of and more melancholy cause may peringratiating himself with electors haps be discovered in the scarcesome 3000 or 4000 men, was just essentially a campaign of the beginning to be sufficiently ac- mounted branches. The infantry quainted with drill and disci- and artillery have not been in pline, and police duties in gen- it. These two branches are ineral, to be of some use. In a valuable when the enemy makes a short time the battalions of Pan- stand; but when they persist in jabi police, now serving in Upper running away, there is only one Burma, will form a very fine branch of the service that is of body of troops, fit not only for any use, and that is the cavalry. police work, but for any military Even the mounted infantry were duties. Their numbers are being not in it at all, when the cavalry largely augmented by recruiting were there. The advent of three in India, and by volunteers from regiments of cavalry, armed with all the native regiments now serv- lances, completely demoralised the ing in Burma and also in India. Burmese rebels. The sight of a It is hoped, by the commencement single lancer terrified them into of the hot season, when a large headlong Aight or abject submisproportion of the regular troops sion. One sowar of the ist Bomare to return to India, that there bay Lancers alone routed forty or will be about 16,000 police, more fifty rebels, and brought in, with or less perfectly trained, available the assistance of some friendly in Burma for the maintenance of Burmans, a dozen prisoners. To peace and the prompt repression use a sporting expression, all the of all attempts at a revival of re- big bags of the season have been bellion and dacoity.

made by the cavalry; and it is to But I am rather anticipating. the complete demoralisation that I must first give a brief account they set on foot among the rebels of the active operations of Decem- that we owe in a great measure ber 1886 and January 1887 before the present comparatively quiet

to, their results. Practi- state of the country. As a matter cally speaking, little was done be- of fact, had the enemy been worth fore the close of November last- anything at all, they would have both the climate and the state of inficted severe losses on the cavthe country, with its flooded roads alry. Nothing is easier for inand vast area of rice-fields, being fantry than to worst cavalry in unfavourable to active operations. difficult country, cut up by ravines The force under General White and covered with dense jungle. As was apportioned into six brigades; a squadron marched along a narand from 3coo to 4000 men, from row track in Indian file, many and one-fourth to one-third, being Brit- many a time might the Burmese ish soldiers, were placed at the have poured volleys into them disposal of each brigadier. Each with disastrous effect. But from brigade had approximately two very fear they dare not do it. squadrons of cavalry and two The old game of breastworks and companies of mounted infantry. stockades was played out. The Artillery, of course, there was; enemy had no thought but to but it may be fairly said that for avoid all contact with our troops, all the use the guns have been especially the cavalry and mounted during the past winter in Burma, infantry. The rebel leaders, with they might just as well have been their following, hurried from place in India or Great Britain. Indeed to place, getting no peace or rest, this winter campaign has been and ever fearful of surprise. The

I pass

was the cavalry and mounted in- since the Government of India fantry would drop in upon them talked of reducing the army of occuabout daybreak at their bivouacs, pation in Burma at an early date. or in the villages, soon taught So far from its being reduced, it was them that they were not safe if augmented by 10,000. Now once our troops were within twenty more it is going to be reduced, but miles of them. To be rudely this time on good grounds. awakened at dawn from one's slum- The rebels have been so severely bers by the thunder of horses' feet, handled, that they will think twice and then ridden down like a before they again take the field sounder of pig, must be very un- against our troops. A very large pleasant. Still, such was the early body of trained police (by April) morning meal that was not un- 1887 there should be some 10,000 frequently prepared for a rebel- available) are ready to replace the gang that deemed itself secure in troops and garrison all the posts its jungle fastness. But despite and stations. There seems now the fact that our Burmese foeman good ground for believing that Uprarely showed fight, few troops per Burma is well on the road have ever had harder work than to pacification, and that the future those that have taken part in is not distant when the troubles these operations. It was one in- of the past will be repaid by a concessant march from the 1st of siderable surplus of revenue. The December 1886 to the ist of Feb- soil of Upper Burma is almost ruary 1887, late and early, day everywhere fertile. True, at presand night. It was the only way ent thousands of square miles are to do it, the only way to catch overgrown with jungle. But thouour wary slippery foe. Many a sands of square miles, as many as time have the mounted branches the present scant population can covered forty or fifty miles in a till, are producing rich crops of day, and had several brushes with rice, maize, cotton, oil-seed, jowari, the enemy en route. On more than &c. When the population increases one occasion long marches (thirty- new lands will be cleared and cultifive to forty miles) through difficult vated. The Irrawaddy,

, Sittang, country lasted from twenty-five to and other large rivers, afford every thirty hours, the troops being un- facility for commerce. The Lower der arms and on the move all that Burma railway system is being time. Fortunately the climate was extended from Tonghoo viâ Ningtolerably favourable, the nights not yan and Yemathen to Mandalay. being very cold nor the days very The next step will be to carry it warm. It was real hard arduous northward into Assam, and thence work while it lasted; but the onward until it connects with our fruits of that work, and good Indian railway system on the banks work it was, are now being reaped of the Brahmaputra. Good roads in the dispersal of the rebels, the are now being constructed, or will peaceful state of the country, and be shortly, throughout the length a well-earned rest for the troops. and breadth of the land, both to Not that it would be justifiable to facilitate trade and aid the represassuine that the last spark of re- sion of rebellion. The peaceful bellion is stamped out. Far from inhabitants—that is, those who it. Let the experiences of the past have taken no active part against year teach us to indulge no such our troops—have received inconfalse delusion. It is but a year trovertible proof that we can contend successfully with the rebels, In the absence, however, of abnorand pursue them and hunt them mal hard work and exposure to down in the thickest jungles and heat and damp, there is every in their remotest fastnesses. They reason to anticipate that a matehave been convinced that we are rial improvement in the health the stronger power, and policy and decrease in the death - rate will therefore counsel them to con- of the garrison of Upper Burma ciliate us; and they will further will take place. The cavalry will be encouraged to resist by force all be recalled to India, to avoid any demands that rebel bands may the decimation of the horses by in future make on them for arms, kamri (lion disease). Their place supplies, money, and recruits. The will be taken by the mounted inestablishment of a network of posts fantry, whose numbers, according held by military and police will en- to a report that has been circuable us to extend the ægis of our lated, are to be increased from armed protection to the friendly 75 to 100 per company. Two villages, and at the same time to mule batteries have been specially prevent the collection of armed raised for service in Upper Burhostile bands in their vicinity. We ma, and will replace those that have also gained much experience are about to be recalled to India. and an intimate knowledge of the In short, the numbers of every geography of the country—a know- branch of the service of Upper ledge that is most essential for the Burma are being largely diminconduct of military operations. In ished, except of the mounted inview of all the facts detailed above, fantry. This is as it should be, it is reasonable to conclude that since the cavalry are being withthe work of reformation in Burma drawn; and, next to the cavalry, has made considerable progress of the moral effect of mounted inlate, and is established on a sound fantry on the Burman is the basis not easily to be shaken. The greatest.

A. C. YATE. question of the health of the troops in Upper Burma is a serious one. YEMATHEN, Feb. 5, 1887.

HER MAJESTY'S OPPOSITION" IN 1887.

To those who have faith in by means of those oratorical disParliamentary government, the plays which have become almost condition of the representative, essential in these days of large or, more properly speaking, the constituencies and extended franelective, branch of the British chise. Such displays, having gained Legislature must at this moment the desired end of election, have be a matter of the most profound been perhaps expected, by the disappointment and regret. The local electorate before whom they most practical and hard-working have been exhibited, to be repeatof races would seem to have in- ed before the House of Commons trusted the performance of its with an equally satisfactory result. legislative business to hands Thus, even if the ingredient of which are either totally incompe- personal vanity had been absent, tent or utterly unwilling to dis- the new member has found himcharge that business after a sen- self urged, by the necessity of sible and workmanlike fashion. satisfying his constituents, to adThe waste of time is enormous, dress the House of Commons on the hours consumed in discussions various questions which could have of an eminently unpractical char- been satisfactorily discussed and acter are numerous beyond meas- settled without his intervention ; ure, and it is impossible but that and by this means the length of the reputation of the House of debates has increased to an inCommons should be lowered in the definite extent, and the power of eyes alike of the British public, the House of Commons to tranwho have hitherto regarded it sact business has been proporwith pride, and of the world beyond tionally curtailed and diminished. the seas, which has believed it to be From this point of view, it is one of the main bulwarks of the fair to allow that there is some free constitution of Great Britain. excuse for honourable members, The causes of this deterioration in who know that their chances of the Lower House of Parliament re-election to a new Parliament may be variously estimated and depend, in a greater or less degree, explained. There are those who upon their maintaining in the dewill attribute the evil solely to bates of the House their local the change which, since the Re- reputation for oratorical ability. form Bill of 1832, has gradually It is needless to discuss the quescrept over the constituencies, caus- tion whether such a cause suffiing them to require different qual- ciently accounts for the state into ities in a representative from those which the House of Commons has which, before that date, were ac- fallen, or whether the increase of counted his best recommendation. business which has to be performed, When borough or county seats in comparison with that with were in the hands of patrons or which the unreformed Parliament of a small body of electors, it was had to deal, must not also be not so necessary as at present that partly credited with the evil of a candidate for a seat in Parlia- which we complain.

A still graver ment should possess the art of and more melancholy cause may peringratiating himself with electors haps be discovered in the scarce

« ПредишнаНапред »