Ebooks, Fiction, Non-Fiction 1000s of Free books and stories online to read now ~ Main Page

 

 

 

The British Soldier by H. James, Jr.

 

I allude to the British soldier, more especially, as I lately observed and admired him at Aldershot, where, just now, he appears to particular advantage; but at any time during the past twelvemonth—since England and Russia have stood glaring at each other across the prostrate body of the expiring yet reviving Turk—this actually ornamental and potentially useful personage has been picturesquely, agreeably conspicuous. I say "agreeably," speaking from my own humble point of view, because I confess to a lively admiration of the military class. I exclaim, cordially, with Offenbach's Grand Duchess, "Ah, oui, j'aime les militaires!" Mr. Ruskin has said somewhere, very naturally, that he could never resign himself to living in a country in which, as in the United States, there should be no old castles. Putting aside the old castles, I should say, like Mr. Ruskin, that life loses a certain indispensable charm in a country destitute of an apparent standing army. Certainly, the army may be too apparent, too importunate, too terrible a burden to the state and to the conscience of the philosophic observer. This is the case, without a doubt, just now in the bristling empires of the Continent. In Germany and France, in Russia and Italy, there are many more soldiers than are needed to make the taxpayer thrifty or the lover of the picturesque happy. The huge armaments of continental Europe are an oppressive and sinister spectacle, and I have rarely derived a high order of entertainment from the sight of even the largest masses of homesick conscripts. The chair à canon—the cannon-meat—as they aptly term it in French, has always seemed to me dumbly, appealingly conscious of its destiny. I have seen it in course of preparation—seen it salted and dressed and packed and labelled, as it were, for consumption. In that marvellous France, indeed, which bears all burdens lightly, and whose good spirits and absence of the tragic pose alone prevent us from calling her constantly heroic, the army scarcely seems to be the heavy charge that it must be in fact. The little red-legged soldiers, always present and always moving, are as thick as the field-flowers in an abundant harvest, and amid the general brightness and mobility of French life they strike one at times simply as cheerful tokens of the national exuberance and fecundity. But in Germany and Italy the national levies impart a lopsided aspect to society: they seem to drag it under water. They hang like a millstone round its neck, so that it can't move: it has to sit still, looking wistfully at the long, forward road which it is unable to measure.

England, which is fortunate in so many things, is fortunate in her well-fed mercenaries, who suggest none of the dismal reflections provoked by the great foreign armies. It is true, of course, that they fail to suggest some of the inspiring ones. If Germany and France are burdened, at least they are defended—at least they are armed for conflict and victory. There seems to be a good deal of doubt as to how far this is true of the nation which has hitherto been known as the pre-eminently pugnacious one. Where France and Germany and Russia count by hundreds, England counts by tens; and it is only, strictly speaking, on the good old principle that one Englishman can buffet a dozen foreigners that a very hopeful view of an Anglo-continental collision can be maintained. This good old principle is far from having gone out of fashion: you may hear it proclaimed to an inspiring tune any night in the week in the London music-halls. One summer evening, in the country, an English gentleman was telling me about his little boy, a rosy, sturdy, manly child whom I had already admired, and whom he depicted as an infant Hercules. The surrounding influences at the moment were picturesque. An ancient lamp was suspended from the ceiling of the hall; the large door stood open upon a terrace; and outside the big, dense treetops were faintly stirring in the starlight. My companion dilated upon the pluck and muscle, the latent pugnacity, of his dear little son, and told me how bravely already he doubled his infant fist. There was a kind of Homeric simplicity about it. From this he proceeded to wider considerations, and observed that the English child was of necessity the bravest and sturdiest in the world, for the plain reason that he was the germ of the English man. What the English man was we of course both knew, but, as I was a stranger, my friend explained the matter in detail. He was a person whom, in the ordinary course of human irritation, every one else was afraid of. Nowhere but in England were such men made—men who could hit out as soon as think, and knock over persons of inferior race as you would brush away flies. They were afraid of nothing: the sentiment of hesitation to inflict a blow under rigidly proper circumstances was unknown to them. English soldiers and sailors in a row carried everything before them: foreigners didn't know what to make of such fellows, and were afraid to touch them. A couple of Englishmen were a match for a foreign mob. My friend's little boy was made like a statue: his little arms and legs were quite of the right sort. This was the greatness of England, and of this there was an infinite supply. The light, as I say, was dim in the great hall, and the rustle of the oaks in the park was almost audible. Their murmur seemed to offer a sympathetic undertone to the honest conversation of my companion, and I sat there as humble a ministrant to the simple and beautiful idea of British valor as the occasion could require. I made the reflection—by which I must justify my anecdote—that the ancient tradition as to the personal fighting-value of the individual Englishman flourishes in high as well as in low life, and forms a common ground of contact between them; with the simple difference that at the music-halls it is more poetically expressed than in the country-houses.

I am grossly ignorant of military matters, and hardly know the names of regiments or the designations of their officers; yet, as I said at the beginning of these remarks, I am always very much struck by the sight of a uniform. War is a detestable thing, and I would willingly see the sword dropped into its scabbard for ever. Only I should plead that in its sheathed condition the sword should still be allowed to play a certain part. Actual war is detestable, but there is something agreeable in possible war; and I have been thankful that I should have found myself on British soil at a moment when it was resounding to the tread of regiments. If the British army is small, it has during the last six months been making the most of itself. The rather dusky spectacle of British life has been lighted up by the presence in the foreground of considerable masses of that vivid color which is more particularly associated with the protection of British interests. The sunshine has appeared to rest upon scattered clusters of red-coats, while the background has been enveloped in a sort of chaotic and fuliginous dimness. The red-coats, according to their number, have been palpable and definite, though a great many other things have been inconveniently vague. At the beginning of the year, when Parliament was opened in the queen's name, the royal speech contained a phrase which that boisterous organ of the war-party, the Pall Mall Gazette, pronounced "sickening" in its pusillanimity. Her Majesty alluded to the necessity, in view of the complications in the East, of the government taking into consideration the making of "preparations for precaution." This was certainly an ineffective way of expressing a thirst for Russian blood, but the royal phraseology is never very felicitous; and the "preparations for precaution" have been extremely interesting. Indeed, for a person conscious of a desire to look into what may be called the psychology of politics, I can imagine nothing more interesting than the general spectacle of the public conduct of England during the last two years. I have watched it with a good deal of the same sort of entertainment with which one watches a five-act drama from a comfortable place in the stalls. There are moments of discomfort in the course of such a performance: the theatre is hot and crowded, the situations are too prolonged, the play seems to drag, some of the actors have no great talent. But the piece, as a whole, is intensely dramatic, the argument is striking, and you would not for the world leave your place before the dénouement is reached. My own pleasure all winter, I confess, has been partly marred by a bad conscience: I have felt a kind of shame at my inability to profit by a brilliant opportunity to make up my mind. This inability, however, was extreme, and my regret was not lightened by seeing every one about me set an admirable example of decision, and even of precision. Every one about me was either a Russian or a Turk, the Turks, however, being greatly the more numerous. It appeared necessary to one's self-respect to assume some foreign personality, and I felt keenly, for a while, the embarrassment of choice. At last it occurred to me simply that as an American I might be an Englishman; and the reflection became afterward very profitable.

When once I had undertaken the part, I played it with what the French call conviction. There are many obvious reasons why the rôle, at such a time as this, should accommodate itself to the American capacity. The feeling of race is strong, and a good American could not but desire that, with the eyes of Europe fixed upon it, the English race should make a passable figure. There would be much fatuity in his saying that at such a moment he deemed it of importance to give it the support of his own striking attitude, but there is at least a kind of filial piety in this feeling moved to draw closer to it. To see how the English race would behave, and to hope devoutly it would behave well,—this was the occupation of my thoughts. Old England was in a difficult pass, and all the world was watching her. The good American feels in all sorts of ways about Old England: the better American he is, the more acute are his moods, the more lively his variations. He can be, I think, everything but indifferent; and, for myself, I never hesitated to let my emotions play all along the scale. In the morning, over the Times, it was extremely difficult to make up one's mind. The Times seemed very mealy-mouthed—that impression, indeed, it took no great cleverness to gather—but the dilemma lay between one's sense of the brutality and cynicism of the usual utterances of the Turkish party and one's perception of the direful ills which Russian conquest was so liberally scattering abroad. The brutality of the Turkish tone, as I sometimes caught an echo of it in the talk of chance interlocutors, was not such as to quicken that race-feeling to which I just now alluded. English society is a tremendously comfortable affair, and the crudity of the sarcasm that I frequently heard levelled by its fortunate members at the victims of the fashionable Turk was such as to produce a good deal of resentful meditation. It was provoking to hear a rosy English gentleman, who had just been into Leicestershire for a week's hunting, deliver the opinion that the vulgar Bulgarians had really not been massacred half enough; and this in spite of the fact that one had long since made the observation that for a good plain absence of mawkish sentimentality a certain type of rosy English gentleman is nowhere to be matched. On the other hand, it was not very comfortable to think of the measureless misery in which these interesting populations were actually steeped, and one had to admit that the deliberate invasion of a country which professed the strongest desire to live in peace with its invaders was at least a rather striking anomaly. Such a course could only be justified by the most gratifying results, and brilliant consequences as yet had not begun to bloom upon the blood-drenched fields of Bulgaria.

To see this heavy-burdened, slow-moving Old England making up her mind was an edifying spectacle. It was not over-fanciful to say to one's self, in spite of the difficulties of the problem and the (in a certain sense) evenly-balanced scales, that this was a great crisis in her history, that she stood at the crossing of the ways, and that according as she put forth her right hand or her left would her greatness stand or wane. It was possible to imagine that in her huge, dim, collective consciousness she felt an oppressive sense of moral responsibility, that she too murmured to herself that she was on trial, and that, through the mists of bewilderment and the tumult of party cries, she begged to be enlightened. The sympathetic American to whom I have alluded may be represented at such an hour as making a hundred irresponsible reflections and indulging in all sorts of fantastic visions. If I had not already wandered so far from my theme, I should like to offer a few instances here. Very often it seemed natural to care very little whether England went to war with Russia or not: the interest lay in the moral struggle that was going on within her own limits. Awkward as this moral struggle made her appear, perilously as it seemed to have exposed her to the sarcasm of some of her neighbors—of that compact, cohesive France, for instance, which even yet cannot easily imagine a great country sacrificing the substance of "glory" to the shadow of wisdom—this was the most striking element in the drama into which, as I said just now, the situation had resolved itself. The Liberal party at the present hour is broken, disfigured, demoralized, the mere ghost of its former self. The opposition to the government has been, in many ways, factious and hypercritical: it has been opposition for opposition's sake, and it has met, in part, the fate of such immoralities. But a good part of the cause that it represented appeared at times to be the highest conscience of a civilized country. The aversion to war, the absence of defiance, the disposition to treat the emperor of Russia like a gentleman and a man of his word, the readiness to make concessions, to be conciliatory, even credulous, to try a great many expedients before resorting to the showy argument of the sword,—these various attributes of the peace party offered, of course, ample opportunity to those scoffers at home and abroad who are always prepared to cry out that England has sold herself, body and soul, to "Manchester." It was interesting to attempt to feel what there might be of justice in such cries, and at the same time feel that this looking at war in the face and pronouncing it very vile was the mark of a high civilization. It is but fair to add, though it takes some courage, that I found myself very frequently of the opinion of the last speaker. If British interests were in fact endangered by Russian aggression—though, on the whole, I did not at all believe it—it would be a fine thing to see the ancient might of this great country reaffirm itself. I did not at all believe it, as I say; yet at times, I confess, I tried to believe it, pretended I believed it, for the sake of this inspiring idea of England's making, like the lady in Dombey & Son, "an effort." There were those who, if one would listen to them, would persuade one that that sort of thing was quite out of the question; that England was no longer a fighting power; that her day was over; and that she was quite incapable of striking a blow for the great empire she had built up—with a good deal less fighting, really, than had been given out—by taking happy advantage of weaker states. (These hollow reasoners were of course invidious foreigners.) To such talk as this I paid little attention—only just enough to feel it quicken my desire that this fine nation, so full of private pugnacity and of public deliberation, might find in circumstances a sudden pretext for doing something gallant and striking.

Meanwhile I watched the soldiers whenever an opportunity offered. My opportunities, I confess, were moderate, for it was not often my fortune to encounter an imposing military array. In London there are a great many red-coats, but they rarely march about the streets in large masses. The most impressive military body that engages the attention of the contemplative pedestrian is the troop of Life Guards or of Blues which every morning, about eleven o'clock, makes its way down to Whitehall from the Regent's Park barracks. (Shortly afterward another troop passes up from Whitehall, where, at the Horse Guards, the guard has been changed.) The Life Guards are one of the most brilliant ornaments of the metropolis, and I never see two or three of them pass without feeling shorter by several inches. When, of a summer afternoon, they scatter themselves abroad in undress uniform—with their tight red jackets and tight blue trousers following the swelling lines of their manly shapes, and their little visorless caps perched neatly askew on the summit of their six feet two of stature—it is impossible not to be impressed, and almost abashed, by the sight of such a consciousness of neatly-displayed physical advantages and by such an air of superior valor. It is true that I found the other day in an amusing French book (a little book entitled Londres pittoresque, by M. Henri Bellenger) a description of these majestic warriors which took a humorous view of their grandeur. A Frenchman arriving in London, says M. Bellenger, stops short in the middle of the pavement and stares aghast at this strange apparition—"this tall lean fellow, with his wide, short torso perched upon a pair of grasshopper's legs and squeezed into an adhesive jacket of scarlet cloth, who dawdles himself along with a little cane in his hand, swinging forward his enormous feet, curving his arms, throwing back his shoulders, arching his chest, with a mixture of awkwardness, fatuity and stiffness the most curious and the most exhilarating.... In his general aspect," adds this merciless critic, "he recalls the circus-rider, minus the latter's flexibility: skin-tight garments, simpering mouth, smile of a dancing-girl, attempt to be impertinent and irresistible which culminates only in being ridiculous."

This is a very heavy-handed picture of those exaggerated proportions and that conquering gait which, as I say, render the tall Life Guardsman one of the most familiar ornaments of the London streets. But it is when he is armed and mounted that he is most picturesque—when he sits, monumentally, astride of his black charger in one of the big niches on either side of the gate of the Horse Guards, cuirassed and helmeted, booted and spurred. I never fail to admire him as I pass through the adjacent archway, as well as his companions, equally helmeted and booted, who march up and down beside him, and, as Taine says, alluding in his Notes sur l'Angleterre to the scene, "posent avec majesté devant les gamins." If I chance to be in St. James's street when a semi-squadron of these elegant warriors are returning from attendance upon royalty after a Drawing-Room or a Levee, I am sure to make one of the gamins who stand upon the curbstone to see them pass. If the day be a fine one at the height of the season, and London happen to be wearing otherwise the brilliancy of supreme fashion—with beautiful dandies at the club-windows, and chariots ascending the sunny slope freighted with wigged and flowered coachmen, great armorial hammercloths, powdered, appended footmen, dowagers and débutantes—then the rattling, flashing, prancing cavalcade of the long detachment of the Household troops strikes one as the official expression of a thoroughly well-equipped society. It must be added, however, that it is many a year since the Life Guards or the Blues have had harder work than this. To escort their sovereign to the railway-stations at London and Windsor has long been their most arduous duty. They were present to very good purpose at Waterloo, but since their return from that immortal field they have not been out of England. Heavy cavalry, in modern warfare, has gone out of fashion, and in case of a conflict in the East those nimble, pretty fellows the Hussars, with their tight, dark-blue tunics so brilliantly embroidered with yellow braid, would take precedence of their majestic comrades. The Hussars are indeed the prettiest fellows of all, and if I were fired with a martial ambition I should certainly enlist in their ranks. I know of no military personage more agreeable to the civil eye than a blue-and-yellow hussar, unless indeed it be a young officer in the Rifle Brigade. The latter is perhaps, to a refined and chastened taste, the most graceful, the most truly elegant, of all military types. The little riflemen, the common soldiers, have an extremely useful and durable aspect: with their plain black uniforms, little black Scotch bonnets, black gloves, total absence of color, they suggest the rigidly practical and business-like phase of their profession—the restriction of the attention to the simple specialty of "picking off" one's enemy. The officers are of course more elegant, but their elegance is sober and subdued. They are dressed all in black, save for a broad, dark crimson sash which they wear across the shoulder and chest, and for a very slight hint of gold lace upon their small, round, short-visored caps. They are furthermore adorned with a small quantity of broad black braid discreetly applied to their tight, long-skirted surtouts. There is a kind of severe gentlemanliness about this costume which, when it is worn by a tall, slim, neat-waisted young Englishman with a fresh complexion, a candid eye and a yellow moustache, is of quite irresistible effect. There is no such triumph of taste as to look rich without high colors and picturesque without accessories. The imagination is always struck by the figure of a soberly-dressed gentleman with a sword.

The little riflemen, the Hussars, the Life Guards, the Foot Guards, the artillerymen (whose garments always look stiffer and more awkwardly fitted than those of their confrères) have all, however, one quality in common—the appearance of extreme, of even excessive, youth. It is hardly too much to say that the British army, as a stranger observes it now-a-days, is an army of boys. All the regiments are boyish: they are made up of lads who range from seventeen to five-and-twenty. You look almost in vain for the old-fashioned specimen of the British soldier—the large, well-seasoned man of thirty, bronzed and whiskered beneath his terrible bearskin and with shoulders fashioned for the heaviest knapsack. This was the ancient English grenadier. But the modern grenadier, as he perambulates the London pavement, is for the most part a fresh-colored lad of moderate stature, who hardly strikes one as offering the elements of a very solid national defence. He enlists, as a general thing, for six years, and if he leave the army at the end of this term his service in the ranks will have been hardly more than a juvenile escapade. I often wonder, however, that the unemployed Englishman of humble origin should not be more often disposed to take up his residence in Her Majesty's barracks. There is a certain street-corner at Westminster where the recruiting-sergeants stand all day at the receipt of custom. The place is well chosen, and I suppose they drive a tolerably lively business: all London sooner or later passes that way, and whenever I have passed I have always observed one of these smart apostles of military glory trying to catch the ear of one of the dingy London lazzaroni. Occasionally, if the hook has been skilfully baited, they appear to be conscious of a bite, but as a general thing the unfashionable object of their blandishments turns away, after an unillumined stare at the brilliant fancy dress of his interlocutor, with a more or less concise declaration of incredulity. In front of him stretches, across the misty Thames, the large commotion of Westminster Bridge, crowned by the huge, towered mass of the Houses of Parliament. To the right of this, a little effaced, as the French say, is the vague black mass of the Abbey; close at hand are half a dozen public-houses, convenient for drinking a glass to the encouragement of military aspiration; in the background are the squalid and populous slums of Westminster. It is a characteristic congregation of objects, and I have often wondered that among so many eloquent mementos of the life of the English people the possible recruit should not be prompted by the sentiment of social solidarity to throw himself into the arms of the agent of patriotism. Speaking less vaguely, one would suppose that to the great majority of the unwashed and unfed the condition of a private in one of the queen's regiments would offer much that might be supremely enviable. It is a chance to become, relatively speaking, a gentleman—more than a gentleman, a "swell"—to have the grim problem of existence settled at a stroke. The British soldier always presents the appearance of scrupulous cleanliness: he is scoured, scrubbed, brushed beyond reproach. His hair is enriched with pomatum and his shoes are radiantly polished. His little cap is worn in a manner determined by considerations purely æsthetic. He carries a little cane in one hand, and, like a gentleman at a party, a pair of white gloves in the other. He holds up his head and expands his chest, and bears himself generally like a person who has reason to invite rather than to evade the fierce light of modern criticism. He enjoys, moreover, an abundant leisure, and appears to have ample time and means for participating in the advantages of a residence in London—for frequenting gin-palaces and music-halls, for observing the beauties of the West End and cultivating the society of appreciative housemaids. To a ragged and simple-minded rustic or to a young Cockney of vague resources all this ought to be a brilliant picture. That the picture should seem to contain any shadows is a proof of the deep-seated relish in the human mind for our personal independence. The fear of "too many masters" weighs heavily against the assured comforts and the opportunity of cutting a figure. On the other hand, I remember once being told by a communicative young trooper with whom I had some conversation that the desire to "see life" had been his own motive for enlisting. He appeared to be seeing it with some indistinctness: he was a little tipsy at the time.

I spoke at the beginning of these remarks of the brilliant impressions to be gathered during a couple of days' stay at Aldershot, and I have delayed much too long to attempt a rapid and grateful report of them. But I reflect that such a report, however friendly, coming from a visitor profoundly uninitiated into the military mystery, can have but a relative value. I may lay myself open to contempt, for instance, in making the simple remark that the big parade held in honor of the queen's birthday, and which I went down more particularly to see, struck me, as the young ladies say, as perfectly lovely. I will nevertheless hazard this confession, for I should otherwise seem to myself to be grossly irresponsive to a delightful hospitality. Aldershot is a very charming place—an example the more, to my sense, if examples were needed, of the happy variety of this wonderful little island, its adaptability to every form of human convenience. Some twenty years ago it occurred to the late prince consort, to whom so many things occurred, that it would be a good thing to establish a great camp. He cast his eyes about him, and instantly they rested upon a spot as perfectly adapted to his purpose as if Nature from the first had had an eye to pleasing him. It was a matter of course that the prince should find exactly what he looked for. Aldershot is at but little more than an hour from London—a high, sunny, breezy expanse surrounded by heathery hills. It offers all the required conditions of liberal space, of quick accessibility, of extreme salubrity, of contiguity to a charming little tumbled country in which the troops may indulge in ingenious imitations of difficult manœuvres; to which it behooves me to add the advantage of enchanting drives and walks for the entertainment of the impressible visitor. In winter, possibly, the great circle of the camp is rather a prey to the elements, but nothing can be more agreeable than I found it toward the end of May, with the light fresh breezes hanging about, and the sun-rifts from a magnificently cloudy sky lighting up all around the big yellow patches of gorse.

At Aldershot the military class lives in huts, a generic name given to certain low wooden structures of small dimensions and a single story, covering, however, a good many specific variations. The oblong shanty in which thirty or forty common soldiers are stowed away is naturally a very different affair from the neat little bungalow of an officer. The buildings are distributed in chessboard fashion over a very large area, and form two distinct camps. There is also a substantial little town, chiefly composed of barracks and public-houses; in addition to which, at crowded seasons, far and near over the plain there is the glitter of white tents. "The neat little bungalow of an officer," as I said just now: I learned, among other things, what a charming form of habitation this may be. The ceilings are very low, the partitions are thin, the rooms are all next door to each other; the place is a good deal like an American "cottage" by the seaside. But even in these narrow conditions that homogeneous English luxury which is the admiration of the stranger blooms with its usual amplitude. The specimen which suggests these observations was cushioned and curtained like a pretty house in Mayfair, and yet its pretensions were tempered by a kind of rustic humility. I entered it first in the dark, but the next morning, when I stepped outside to have a look at it by daylight, I burst into pardonable laughter. The walls were of plain planks painted a dark red: the roof, on which I could almost rest my elbow, was neatly endued with a coating of tar. But, after all, the thing was very pretty. There was a matting of ivy all over the front of the hut, thriving as I had never known ivy to thrive upon a wooden surface: there was a tangle of creepers about all the windows. The place looked like a "side-scene" in a comic opera. But there was a serious little English lawn in front of it, over which a couple of industrious red-coats were pulling up and down a garden-roller; and in the centre of the drive before the door was a tremendous clump of rhododendrons of more than operatic brilliancy. I leaned on the garden-gate and looked out at the camp: it was twinkling and bustling in the morning light, which drizzled down upon it in patches from a somewhat agitated sky. An hour later the camp got itself together and spread itself, in close battalions and glittering cohorts, over a big green level, where it marched and cantered about most effectively in honor of a lady living at a quiet Scotch country-house. One of this lady's generals stood in a corner, and the regiments marched past and saluted. This simple spectacle was in reality very brilliant. I know nothing about soldiers, as the reader must long since have discovered, but I had, nevertheless, no hesitation in saying to myself that these were the handsomest troops in the world. Everything in such a spectacle is highly picturesque, and if the observer is one of the profane he has no perception of weakness of detail. He sees the long squadrons shining and shifting, uncurling themselves over the undulations of the ground like great serpents with metallic scales, and he remembers Milton's description of the celestial hosts. The British soldier is doubtless not celestial, but the extreme perfection of his appointments makes him look very well on parade. On this occasion at Aldershot I felt as if I were at the Hippodrome. There was a great deal of cavalry and artillery, and the dragoons, hussars and lancers, the beautiful horses, the capital riders, the wonderful wagons and guns, seemed even more theatrical than military. This came, in a great measure, from the freshness and tidiness of their accessories—the brightness and tightness of uniforms, the polish of boots and buckles, the newness of leather and paint. None of these things were the worse for wear: they had the bloom of peace still upon them. As I looked at the show, and then afterward, in charming company, went winding back to camp, passing detachments of the great cavalcade, returning also in narrow file, balancing on their handsome horses along the paths in the gorse-brightened heather, I allowed myself to wish that since, as matters stood, the British soldier was clearly such a fine fellow and a review at Aldershot was such a delightful entertainment, the bloom of peace might long remain.

H. James, Jr.