The Coming Conquest of England

第57章

Think of Rome! The Roman state had most excellent laws, and a magnificent political force which for centuries kept it in its predominant position among the nations of the world.But what of religion and philosophy in Rome? There was no state religion whatsoever; there was no priestly hierarchy, no strict theological codex, but only a mythology and worship of gods, which was of an eminently practical character, and it was owing to their practical common sense--or, as you would prefer to call it, materialism--that the Romans were enabled to found an organised society upon purely human needs and aspirations.And why should what they were enabled to achieve be impossible again for other nations who have succeeded them in their world-power? The spirit of the age is ever changing, yet it is only a regularly recurring return of the same conditions, just as the planets in the heavens, ever again in their orbit, come back to their old positions.""And supposing the 'Zeitgeist,' like many planets, does not move in a circle but in a spiral line? The British world-sovereignty has, as we see, taken a higher flight than did the Roman.Could not this British world-power, by permeating wise diplomacy with the profound idea of Indian philosophy, have attained to a great reformation of the whole of the human race? It would have been a glorious idea, but I have here learnt how far they were from its realisation.""All the same, I do not think that the English army would have been defeated by the Russian, had they not fought in accordance with the rules of antiquated tactics.""Oh, sir, if the Indian troops had fought with their whole soul for England we should never have sustained this defeat.""As a soldier, I am inclined to dispute that.The Indians will never be a match for a well-disciplined European army.The race is wanting in too great a measure in military qualities.""The Indian people is, by nature, it is true, gentle and good-hearted.In order to render it wild and bloodthirsty it must be wounded in its most sacred feelings.""Perhaps you judge it rather too mildly.Decided traces of barbarism still linger in this people, even in its highest circles.

Here is a case in point that I am able to quote of my own personal knowledge.An Indian prince, before the outbreak of the war, attempted to carry off, by his servants, an English lady from her home, and bribed an assassin to poison the English resident, who rebuked him for his conduct."The Professor was astounded.

"Is it possible? Can such things be? Have you not perhaps been deceived by an exaggerated report?""I myself was close at hand, and observed all that took place, and can give you, the names.The lady upon whom this dastardly attempt was made is Mrs.Edith Irwin, who had followed her husband, a captain in the lancers, to the camp of Chanidigot."The astonishment of the Professor visibly increased.

"Mrs.Edith Irwin? Is it possible? The daughter of my old friend, the excellent Rector Graham? Yes, beyond doubt, it must be the same, because she was married to a captain in the lancers.""Since yesterday she is this officer's widow.He fell in the battle of Lahore, and she herself is among the prisoners interned in Anar Kali.""Then I must endeavour to find her, for she has a claim, for her father's sake, upon my assistance.But, certainly, for the moment," he observed, with a somewhat melancholy smile, "I am myself in the greatest need of protection.""I believe you may be perfectly easy in your mind as to this lady.

My friend, Prince Tchajawadse, has just now ridden over to Anar Kali in order, at my request, to look after the lady."He had not concluded the sentence when the tall form of the Prince made its appearance at the entrance of the tent.His downcast face presaged no good news.He advanced to Heideck and shook his hand.

"I am not, unfortunately, the bearer of any good news, comrade.Ihave not discovered the lady whose guardian you are.""What! Has she left? And you could not learn whither she is gone?""All that I have been able to elicit is that she was driven off in an elegant carriage, in the company of several Indians.An English lady who saw the occurrence told me this."A fearful dread overcame Heideck.

"In the company of Indians? And does nobody know whither she was taken? Did she leave no message for me or anyone else?""The lady had no opportunity of speaking to her.She saw the departure at a distance.""But she must have noticed whether Mrs.Irwin left the mausoleum of her own free will or under compulsion?"The Prince shrugged his shoulders.

"I cannot, unfortunately, say anything about that.My inquiries were without result.Neither any one of the English prisoners or of the Russian sentries was able to give me further information."

August Niemann

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