« PreviousContinue »
Immediately after the repulse of Sir Neville Chamberlain's mission in the beginning of September last, the Viceroy issued orders through the regular channel, the Commander-in-Chief, to BrigadierGeneral Ross, commanding at Peshawur, to go and drive the Ameer's garrison out of Ali Musjid, and hold that place. Peshawur is the most important cantonment on the north-western frontier of India; its normal garrison consists of some six battalions of infantry, three regiments of cavalry, and three batteries of artillery. It summer Peshawur is a pestilential station, the demon of fever has full sway, and last year he was more than ordinarily fell. It is customary during that period to send away from it to healthier outlying places all the troops that can be spared. Brigadier-General Ross is a soldier who has shown his capacity again and again, and special circumstances made him now exceptionally eager to distinguish himself yet further. He got his orders, and he promptly mustered his available strength. He found that, when he left behind only three hundred men, chiefly convalescents, to overawe the most turbulent city of Upper India, in which disaffection was known to be rife, there was forthcoming for the prescribed enterprise a force barely one thousand strong, in whose ranks were many men whose efficiency fever had deteriorated. Not less morally than physically brave, General Ross rightly thought it his duty to represent the great risk of disaster which offensive
operations of an indefinite character, with this handful of virtually unequipped soldiers, would entail. His arguments were too cogent to be disregarded, and the crazy scheme was abandoned.
Yet the Viceroy—“in Council,” as is the technical, though mostly empty, term-still hankered after a coup. In the expectation that the home authorities, as the outcome of the impending Cabinet Council
, would pronounce for immediate hostilities, orders from Simla were issued in the third week of October to the principal commissariat officer of Peshawur', that he should have ready by the first week of November supplies for six thousand men for seven days, and adequate transport for the advance of the detachment to Dakka. The rashness of a design to launch six thousand men forty miles into a difficult and disturbed region with but seven days' supply in hand needs no exposure ; but death was dealt it, not from remorse at the folly of it, but by orders from home of a contrary tenor, and by the report of the commissariat officer that adequate transport could not be procured on such short notice.
These fortunately abortive struggles to compass premature hostilities are now for the first time made public. The Indian Government has a positive genius for unscrupulous contradiction ; but I am prepared to prove the truth of what I have written.
While workiñg after this fashion on his account, Lord Lytton was pleading vehemently with Lord Cranbrook for sanction for an immediate declaration of war, The Blue-book contains but a selection
from the telegraphic correspondence; but the Blue-book furnishes convincing proof of the Viceroy's urgency. His messages contain such expressions as these: Any demand for apology would, now, in my opinion, be useless, and only expose us to fresh insult, while losing valuable time." “We urgently request immediate sanction to measures stated above,” viz, immediate active offensive steps. Nor did he confine his urgency to the official and constitutional channel. It is not generally knowon, but it is nevertheless true, that the Viceroy of India, following the example of Colonels Mansfield and Wellesley in the recent Russo-Turkish war, has maintained direct communication on the Anglo-Afghan imbroglio with her Majesty the Queen. Horo copious and detailed this must have been may be judged from the fact that a single telegram from the Viceroy to the Queen, at an important and difficult crisis, was so long that the cost of it was eleven hundred rupees. Who paid for it—whether the Sovereign or the Viceroy, England or IndiaI know not ; but I do know that it cost what I have stated.
At this momentous conjecture, Lord Beaconfield's Cabinet displayed statecraft of a very high, because very difficult, character. The Viceroy was clamouring for an immediate declaration of war. Behind him stood ranged the chief military authorities of our Indian Empire; men who might well be assumed to know that subject which was par excellence their own-the condition of India's military establishments. A poor paper-stainer like myself need feel no shame that he followed the lead of experts so eminent. But if the Viceroy had got his way, there would have ensued an ignoble interval of abstract inoperative hostility, while the army was daubing on its war paint, and, like Mr. Winkle, getting ready to begin. For it is not to be deemed that, even on the expiry of the time which the presentation of the ultimatum gave for preparation, the columns were so deficient of complete equipment, that, for instance, the chief commissariat office of the Peshawur column put on record a demi-official repudiation of responsibility if the end of the term of grace given should be the signal for immediate advance. That state of unpreparedness, in the consciousness of which the authorities in India had light hearts, the Cabinet at home was most solemnly sensible of. How, I know not; whether of their own knowledge, or because of the counsels of wise and conversant soldiers that were doubtless at their disposal. To make time for getting ready they prescribed the expedient of the ultimatum; and so brought about the valuable result, that our nakedness was not uncovered before a jibing world. The ultimatum was simply a device to gain time; the locus pænitentis a mere facon de parler. But there was a fine ring of magnanimity in the expedient; and there was the off-very off-chance that the Ameer would realise the situation, and save us the cost of a war. In the actual issue, it achieved for us the eclat-a little hollow, it is true -under the appearance of dashing promptness, of beginning war on the very stroke of the clock. Of the conduct and results of that war, eherin has not come to speak. ARCHIBALD FORBES, in Time.
FRESH ASSYRIAN FINDS ;
TRIUMPHAL BRONZE GATES OF SHALMANESER THE GREAT.
THE opening of a new chapter in the stirring history of Assyrian discovery cannot be a matter of indifference to any who are in the slightest degree interested in the culture of the Old East, and least of all to intelligent and reverential students of Holy Writ. We none of us need to be reminded that our religion, although meant for all nations, is of Oriental origin, and that even the New Testament, whose very language is Greek or Western, whence we are daily learning it, is best read and understood in the light of the rising sun. Most would acknowledge that in no other light is it intelligible at all. In like manner, the Author of our faith and His apostles were all of them Jews, the flower of God's chosen people, with whose annals, as recorded in the Old Testament, those of the great empires on the Euphrates and the Tigris are for hundreds of years together inextricably interwoven. The astute kingcraft of the Pharaohs was the first to espy and make the most of the opportunity created by the disruption of the Hebrew monarchy on the death of Solomon, and in the fifth year of the wise king's foolish son Shishak sacked Jerusalem. In a hieroglyphical inscription on what is known as the porch of the Bubastite Pharaohs, at Thebes, Shishak, who was the founder of that dynasty of Egyptian kings, has taken care to record that conquest. His son and successor, Osorkon, has with good reason been identified with Zerakh the Ethiopian, mentioned in the second book of Chronicles (xiv: 9), whose huge invading host of Cushites and Libyans was hurled back by Rehoboam's pious grandson Asa. Osorkon is barely named in the contemporary Egyptian records, and had they been as communicative as they are silent about the events of his reign we should hardly have found them chronicling this crushing defeat. It is worth noting, however, that for more than a century and a half afterwards the Pharaohs wisely let the Hebrews alone, and that the next time the great southern monarchy is seen interesting itself in its Palestinian neighbours it is as their friends and allies. It was thus that Sabaco, the So of the Bible, encouraged Hoshea of Israel to shake off the Assyrian yoke, and to spurn paying tribute any longer to Shalmaneser IV., and that he bravely but unsuccessfully fought with that king's successor, Sargon, to ward off Samaria’s doom. Thus too the Pharaoh Tirhakah marched to the relief of Hezekiah—whom Sennacherib had shut up in Jerusalem, “like a bird in a cage,” as he boasts in his inscription-and by the rumour of his approach performed the part assigned to him by Providence in compelling the Assyrian to raise
the siege. The reader hardly needs to be reminded how marvellously the Bible accounts of these great events have been confirmed to the letter, as well as illustrated and supplemented, by the contemporary cylinders and tablets unearthed by our Bottas and Layards and interpreted by the daring erudition of many an Edipus, such as Hincks, Norris, Fox, Talbot, and George Smith amongst the dead, with their survivors Oppert and Rawlinson of the first generation of Assyriasts, and Sayce and Schrader of the second. Since Esarhadydon, who succeeded his father Sennacherib, includes Manasseh, King of Judah,” in a list of twenty-two of his vassals which has come down to us, he has been reasonably recognized as the unnamed King of Assyria mentioned in 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11–13. There we read that on account of the worse than heathen sins of Manasseh and his people, “the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the King of Assyria, which took Manasseh_among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Baby on. And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him : and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.” If now we turn back to Tiglath-Pileser II., the immediate predecessor of Shalmaneser IV., who began the siege of Samaria which Sargon ended, and with it the kingdom of Israel, we have in unbroken sequence no fewer than five successive kings of Assyria whose autograph annals record their contact, almost always their collisions, with seven Hebrew kings. Five of the seven-namely Menahem, Pekah, and Hoshea of Israel, with Azariah and Ahaz of Judah-are repeatedly spoken of by Tiglath-Pileser in his inscriptions as his contemporaries, with the exception of the first, whom the fragments as yet found mention but It seems at first sight' that to this single mention of Menahem by Tiglath-Pileser, whose annals, under his eighth year (B. C. 738), say expressly that he took tribute of the King of Samaria so named, there is nothing to answer in the Bible. On the other hand, we read in 2 Kings xv. 19 that “Pul the King of Assyria came against the land: and Menahan gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.” Formerly it was always thought that Pul must have been Tiglath-Pileser's predecessor. But since the discovery and decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions the opiniondhas been growing that these are but two names of one and the same Assyrian monarch. It may be remarked that whether we fall in with this view or not the chronological difficulty of making Menaham contemporary with Tiglath-Pileser will remain. Hence we need feel the less repugnance to accept the identification, which, besides being supported by the authority of profound Assyriologists, like Professor Schrader of Berlin and Professor Sayce of Oxford, at once enables us to see in Menaham's tribute to TiglathPileser the thousand talents of silver which the Bible says he gave to Pul. This Ninevite king with a twofold name would thus be the earliest of the series mentioned expressly in the Hebrew records. A far older sovereign of Assyria, however, and one whose conquests raised the great empire on the Tigris to the highest pitch of glory, speaks of two kings of Israel in his annals with whom he was successively brought into contact. This is Shalmaneser II., who reigned, according to the cuneiform astronomical canon, from B. C. 860 to B. C. 825. It was he who, to hand down his name to future ages, reared on high in the midst of his new capital Calah, where the mound of Nimrod now marks the site, the famous black obelisk brought by Layard to this country, and which is now in the British Museum. On it are five lines or rows of sculptures, representing the tributes rendered to their conqueror by the different subjugated countries, with accompanying legends. The inscription annexed to the second row of bas-reliefs was deciphered by the late learned Dr. Hincks, and independently of him by Sir Henry Rawlinson. Both found it to contain the name of Jehu. It reads: “I received tribute from Jehu, son of Omri; silver, gold, gold in plates, zukut of gold, gold cups, gold delami, sceptres which are in the hand of the king and bdellium.” The late Mr George Smith afterwards recognised in the annals of Shalmaneser II., engraved on one of Layard's bulls, a further record of the same fact, which at the same time it dates in the conqueror's eighteenth year, B.C. 843.
Meanwhile Professor Oppert, of Paris, had already brought to light a synchronism of Shalmaneser II., in his sixtieth year, B.C. 855, with Benhadad of Damascus and Ahab of Israel, predecessors respectively of Hazael and Jehu. This was in the far more detailed annals of the Assyrian king found at Kurkh, the modern name given to some important ruins on the right bank of the Tigris, twenty miles from Diarbekir, which are thought to represent the city Karkathiokerta of the classical geographers. Under that year the Assyrian autocrat boasts of having shattered, by a crushing defeat at Karkar on the banks of the Orontes, a Syrian league of twelve members which had been formed against him. Benhadad brought into the field 1,200 chariots, with as many other warlike equipages, and 20,000 men; Irkhuleni of Hamath, who ruled also over Karkar, Parga, Ada, &c., had 700 chariots, an equal number of reserve_carriages, and 10,000 men; Ahab, 2,000 chariots and 10,000 men. There was even an Egyptian contingent of 1,000 men, besides 1,000 fighting camels from Arabia. The other members of the league sent from 200 to 500 warriors each, and from 10 to 30 chariots, if any. Shalmaneser says he poured over them a deluge like the Air God, and slew 14,000 of their trocps, destroying them from Karkar to Gilzau, so that there was no room on the battlefield for their corpses, which were tumbled into the Orontes, and choked up its waters.
The above slight sketch of the relations between the twofold