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That other portions of the empire should be jealous of the attention bestowed on Hungary is natural enough, but provided they receive equal privileges they cannot have much real ground of complaint.
However difficult it may be to reconcile the policy of Austria with the desires of the French Government, there is no doubt that the personal feelings of the two emperors towarıls each other are friendly enough; the interchange of Orders on their respective sons would of itself be almost sufficient to prove this. It is probable that the recent concessions made by the Emperor of Austria to the emigrants froin Venetia, and which, we are told, they have rejected, were made at the suggestion of the Einperor Napoleon with a view to cut away some of the ground under the feet of the party in Italy who seem likely to come into power.
It is generally supposed that Russia is a long way behind any other European nation, and if this were intended only to apply to the amount of educational acquirements possessed by individuals, it would not be far from the truth; when, however, the assertion includes the Government it is simply a mistake, a confounding of the past with the present. Inventors of all nations when they fail to obtain the acknowledgment of the merits of their inventions in their own country usually betake themselves to Russia, and generally find there the opportunity they seek. This is more especially the case with regard to implements and vessels of war. It is not unlikely that she will be the first power to build turretships according to the plans of Capt. Coles, and it is more than probable that she will be the first to cise her ports with slabs of iron. She is building iron-clads of great strength, and arming them with steel 300 pounder guns; while for her forts she has some of a vast deal heavier calibre than this. With the exception of these guns and some of the plates for the fortifications, all are made of Russian materials, and so also are most of the engines she now requires.
The St. Petersburgh Gazette urges the reduction of the standing army and the substitution of a military force for defensive purposes only, similar to the English militia or volunteers; but to this it is replied that the Russians are by nature so peacefully inclined that they would never voluntarily subject themselves to a military training; they will fight willingly enough when the country is in danger, but have no love for mere mili. tary display, and hate the restrictions to which they must submit in accordance with the discipline necessary to the government of an armed force.
The number of soldiers sent to distant parts of the empire is very small; in Siberia, for example, the armed force is raised within the province itself, and that serving in the countries of Orenburg and the Caucasus is mostly raised in adjacent provinces. The mass of the arıny is stationed along the western frontiers of the empire, the centre and the south; so that the troops have no reason to complain of being compelled to serve in climates more rigorous than that to which they have been accustomed all their lives. With respect to the mortality in the army, the returns of the War Department for the years 1862 and 1863 show that the deaths were 13.7 per thousand in the for ver year, and 14.7 in the latter. The idea which commonly prevails with respect to the chances of a recruit ever seeing his native home again is that they amount to nothing. Speaking from memory, I believe it has been asserted by a French author long resident in Russia that a peasant drawn in the conscription takes leave of bis wife and children if he has any, just as though he were going to execution, and within a limited period after his departure his wife might apply for and obtain a formal divorce as a matter of course. It rests pretty much with himself, however, whether he returns or not. The ages at which recruits are taken for the army is twenty to thirty years, the average being about twenty-two years. The entire period of service is fixed at fifteen years, but when he has served twelve years he is given an unlimited furlough. This is the regulation, but the actual practice in a tiine of profound peace is said to be to discharge thein at the end of ten years' service. Thus, not including those who re-enlist, men complete their terın of service as a matter of right at the average age of thirty-seven, and in time of peace they are set at liberty from thirty-two to thirty-five years at the outside ; at the present time there are upwards of 400,000 men who have paid their debt to the state, and three-fourths of that number on furlough. Then, as regards the amount of money realized by the Government from the payments for substitutes. So far from reaching the preposterous total of 300,000,000 of roubles as has been asserted, the entire sum will but little exceed 1,500,000 roubles.
The frequent ministerial changes prove how far Greece is from being settled. The brigandage of Italy is a small matter in comparison with that of Greece, not as regards its extent, but as regards the impunity with which it may be carried on. Rumours are circulated that there is still a chance of the ex-king Otho being recalled, which is not likely, nor is it very likely that he would return if he were asked to do so, being, it is said, more pleasantly engaged in translating Homer than in governing Greeks.
Hong-Kong! There was a time when these bizarre syllables, although imiportalised in the burden of a popular ditty, conveyed little definite idea to me; and when, however, travel by land or by water may have formed part of my life-dream, as the golden hours of youth floated on, leaving a track of never to be forgotten happiness amid the peaceful “ learned shades” of my Alma Mater-it had not yet been revealed to me that a few short months should alter my destiny froin learning to war, and that the best years of my life were fated to be spent amid the bright sunshine and deep verdure of the Flowery Land! Most of iny readers are old enough to recollect how vague were “the public's" ideas of China in 1857, when the breaking out of a new war recalled “distant seres” to our recollection; and how the popular kuowledge of that immense country, the greatest coherent political organisation on the earth, extended little beyond a belief in the unhealthiness of the climate, and in the pride, treachery, cruelty—with seasoning of other bad qualities as suited each parrator- of its people. My own knowledge was not then sufficient to qualify this gloomy picture; but it was not to be concealed that one's friends looked on being sent to China in somewhat the light of a death warrant! and this, coupled with the dreary vaticinations of Mr. Montgomery Martin (whose book on China I happened to read), of the woeful results of our continuing to retain possession of this "pestiferous, barren island," such as everlasting epidemics, ruined trade, decayed "godowns,” impoverished merchants, and the poison of decaying granite ever exhaling from the soil was little likely to impart a couleur de rose to my mental anticipations of the colony. It was therefore a little to my relief that I found myself on a glowing summer day after a weary five months' voyage at anchor in a calm, land-locked harbour, amid ships of all sizes and of every nation under the sun, the green waves rippling a pleasant welcome against the vessel's side; a lofty barren peak, seared and furrowed by some weird influence of nature, rearing itself abruptly to near two thousand feet above; and perched on the more gentle slope at its feet, street upon street, and house upon house, white, glaring and shadeless in the fiery tropic sunshine ; while a faint, fresh fringe of green trees and sward by the water's edge relieved a little the scorched, barren aspect of the place, and left room amid an exile's despondency for the consolatory if commonplace reservation, that possibly " it may not be as bad as it looks, and one may be able to live there, after all,” in spite of Mr. Martin's jeremiads !
But although the influences of land, life and vegetation, after a long sojourn amid the wild waste of waters made Mr. Martin's picture of the dark side of Hong-Kong seem to new arrivals somewhat over-coloured, it must not be supposed that his view was altogether incorrect. It is, as he says, not easy to imagine why the island was ever coveted as a desirable possession. It was, when we first knew it, uninhabited, except a fishing village on the distant side, and a few wretched hovels here and there on the beach ; even the industrious Chinese could make nothing of it. The soil with difficulty supported some stunted trees and bamboo clumps. We knew it only as a safe and cominodious harbour, no other legitimnate good quality ; but we knew also that amid its many nooks, and bays, and islets, were secure havens and unsuspected hiding-places for craft engaged in the opium smuggling, with which we were then corrupting the people of Canton, and in this consisted its real value to us. Indeed the place itself might almost be considered a discovery of ours, so little was it known to the inhabitants of the neighbouring province; for so slight is its need to be discriininated from any other of the “thousand islands” amid which it lies, that to this day even its original name is disputed, whether Chi-chu, “ red pillar," or Hiang Kiang, "scented streams." Time has changed all this, we have compelled the Chinese by force of arms to buy opium, therefore, we do not need to smuggle it, and hence the magnificent 'harbour has come to be the most valued possession of the colony; and the pirates' lurkingplaces are now, by a just Nemesis, a sore tribulation to the peaceful trader, and a thorn in the side of our local magnates. It is wonderful how thirty years of brisk Anglo-Saxondom have transformed this island. Though still not capable of growing a single meal for its inhabitants, it is possibly at this moment, bulk for bulk, the richest spot in actual wealth on the globe. Year by year stuccoed and green verandal'd houses have spread along the beach, and crept higher and higher up the hill side. Presto! instead of a half dozen bamboo huts, the majestic Peak now sits enthroned over a mimic metropolis ; instead of a few ferns and wild bamboos, our attention is attracted to the phenomena of western civilisation, miniature public gardens, a pretentious but badly situated clock-tower, and a drinking fountain hideous enough for any country town at home; and do they not talk of completing and intensifying the glories of the little city with a mint, a theatre, and a towu-hall, all undreamt of in days of old, unless, perhaps, in the sagacious and prophetic brain of its ablest governor, John Bowring.
Still all these signs of material prosperity, however satisfactory, convey
conclusive refutation of Mr. Martin's dismal second-sight.
The uprise of Shanghai has been far quicker and more marvellous than that of Hong-Kong, notwithstanding the vast governmental machinery of the latter. Experience shows that the current of foreign trade flows to the north of China, and reflection foretells that when in God's good time our political relations with this great empire are on a mutual, not murderous footing, interpreted by men of intellect instead of men of violence, our trading establishments will require no “middle term” like Hong-Kong, but will move to the Chinese towns themselves, and our dealings be direct with the native merchants and people. Further, the principal legitimate articles of foreign export, tea, silks and furs, are mainly of northern production, and our woollen imports little required in the south (where artificial heat is a mere luxury at the cold season), however “lively” the demand may be for them in Chibli and Shantung, where King Ice reigns with Canadian rigour for half the year, so that it would seem that the northern trade will be ultimately of incomparably the greater extent and inportance to us.
When one has lived long enough in Hong-Kong to adapt the focus of his mental vision to the grandeurs of this Eastern Lilliput, it is almost subversive of faith in mundane greatness, to think that the stimulus of a war or a famine is needed to recall its very existence to the recollection of the public at home. Alas, for the levelling tendency of the age! How is it that we do not reverence the political institutions of this extensive colony of twelve miles long? yet it has a governor, duly słyled “ Excellency,” a “ Lord Bishop," and his cathedral; a general and his staff, with a battalion for army, a chief-justice and other legal luminaries, heathen teipples, dissenting chapels, Roman Catholic churches, a mosque, a government-house, a club (so called, really a joint-stock tavern of no high grade), court-house, “general” post-office, treasury, missionary college, cruciform masonic lodge, huge prison, and I know not how many more public places ? Are not the officials all“ generals ?” auditor-general, surveyor-general, solicitor-general ;
are not the council all “Honourables ?” though a new-comer does wonder at a grandee formally styled “Hon. John Sinith, Esquire !” Is not the chief-justice assiduously "my-lorded” by ever so many gentlemen of the long robe? What a long list of them one reads, not altogether with satisfaction, in the annual directory which this litigious little community supports! Are there not two newspapers, scurrilous, as befits the magnitude of the colony, printed in English, and one in Chinese, nicely adapted by missionaries to the tender intellects of the natives ? . Is not alınost everyone a justice of the peace? Truly, we must subdue our radical tendencies, and by no means speak lightly or irreverently of a place of such importance !
There is yet another point, but of somewhat greater moment, wherein we“ Gentlemen of England, who live at home at ease;" tout-à-fait insulaires as we are in our ideas of foreign places, are apt to be mistaken when we think of Hong-Kong, or rather of the Chinese settlers in it. Once for all, let us settle with ourselves as preliminary to all understanding of the country and people, that we have to deal with, not naked savages nor"d-d niggers,” but a nation of high culture and old civilisation, (though not founded on the Baconian method), where education is more generally diffused than in any other land, and which possessed laws, history, poetry, art, trade and manufactures, long before our ancestors had thouglit of relinquishing the chivalrous custom of burning their war captives in a wicker statue of Moloch. Nay, I have even met men of learning and capable of thought, who held that Chinese effeteness and feeblenees were due to over-organisation and intellectual contempt of brute force, and that they wanted rather to retrograde into some of the savage virtues and individuality of the primitive, rough, human man, than to be further emasculated and moulded into the "member of society.” Some who held this theory were wranglers, graduates, and competition-wallahs, and had the brick