THE FALL OF PORT ARTHUR. -question.
prises. No one acquainted with the history of Asia Empire without inquiring afresh, as each new incident has ever doubted that some Asiatics are good soldiers, or reveals the extent of Chinese weakness, what can be its that a majority of Asiatics are brave men ; but it has cause ? All Englishmen now on the spot acknowledge become a sort of dogma that the men of the arrested that the first two causes are the imbecility of the Palace, this war, however, it is precisely this power of organisation istenee, of the manlier virtues. That it is the Mandarins, which the Japanese have exhibited. They have not had a chance yet of testing their fighting power, for their enemies fly first, is the substance of every trustworthy report on have never fought with any heart ; and have never used the the battles or on the condition of the defensive force. mass of cavalry which they control, and which is the one Those facts of themselves almost account for the defeat of Nankin or Canton—seems on the evidence to be past all ..
superiority, has forgotten the utility, if not the very ex- this war, however, it is precisely this power of organisation istenee, of the manlier virtues. That it is the Mandarins, who have stolen the supplies, and that the Chinese officers chance yet of testing their fighting power, for their enemies fly first, is the substance of every trustworthy report on have never fought with any heart ; and have never used the the battles or on the condition of the defensive force. mass of cavalry which they control, and which is the one Those facts of themselves almost account for the defeat of incurable Japanese deficiency ; but they have transported China ; but there must be others of great efficacy, small armies across the sea, have moved them with though for the present less frequently discussed. There Prussian precision, have trained armies of coolies to supply is the apathy of the people still to be accounted for. the place of horses, have moved artillery over hilly and While the Japanese are boiling over with patriotism. roadless districts rapidly enough to be always useful, and marching by the twenty thousand to serve as coolies in the have succeeded in enforcing such discipline and care that campaign, and staking their whole fortunes on the issue an attack by many columns appears to be directed by a of the war, the Chinese remain apparently apathetic, single mind. They leave nothing to chance, never hurry, not offering aid to the throne ; not even, it would seem,. and evidently include in their calculations the nature of very much alarmed, except when Japanese soldiers are their enemy. A European invader with Marshal Oyama's almost in sight. May it not be that they are disgusted. force would hardly have carried Port Arthur, because with the dynasty, and would accept its deposition as com- he would never have believed that an Army would aban- pensation for a great defeat in war ? A correspondent, don fortifications so nearly impregnable. The Japanese who thinks this is the case, adds that the people are Generals, however, knew their opponents. They marched greatly influenced by a universal belief that a dynasty in• on the great arsenal from two sides, slowly, storm- China never survives much beyond two-and-a-half cen- ing the passes on their road one by one ; they carried turies ; that the Manchus have run out their appointer} the hills which command the forts by daring rushes ; they term, and that heaven is now ordering them in these dragged up one hundred pieces of heavy cannon to the thunderclaps to quit the throne. However that may hill-tops, a feat of patient labour and courage ; and then, be, and we pretend to no knowledge on the point, the when the batteries opened from the land side, the torpedo- apathy of the people is certain, as is also the growth of boats rushed into the harbour, and the columns of Japanese suspicion between the Tartars and Chinese, and the con- crawled on to a series of successful attacks on the forts, sequent conflict among the highest administrators, revealed, the details of which are still unknown, and about which to the public in the desperate struggle which must be we can only say that success ought to have been impossible. silently going on between a section of the Palace group- The German engineers had done their work perfectly, and and Li Hung Chang. No man so powerful could be had only forgotten that even the mightiest fortifications denounced in that style in China, if those who denounce can only be held as long as their defenders choose. him were not sure of irresistible protection. The next- This is the second cause of surprise. If there was a explanation—treachery—seems to us almost impossible. dogma supposed to be true about Asiatics, it was that Li Hung Chang, or any other Chinese, may be disaffected, even when unable to fight in the open, they were dangerous and may even rejoice in defeats which break the sceptre- foemen behind strong fortifications. The usual reason of the Manchus, but that they should ally themselves with assigned is that the protection of masonry restores their the Japanese is inconceivable. What are they to get by courage, but that is probably not wholly accurate. To being conquered by a race which, whatever it wants,. defend fortresses well, men must die readily and in heaps, wants it for itself and not for them ? That Li Hung- as, for example, Arabi's black soldiers did at Alexandria; Chang is believed by Tartars, and by Americans in but fortresses restore discipline, and render mobility, which Shanghai, to be treacherous, is beyond doubt ; but that depends on discipline, comparatively unimportant. Even he should have helped to destroy the Army he built ; that Turks, whose courage is splendid, fight best behind stone he should be plotting the overthrow of the dynasty he walls, because their eyes are upon each other ; they cannot saved ; that he should destroy his own place in China to mistake where they should go ; and they cannot escape facilitate a Japanese victory, seems to us one of those their Pashas' anger if they retreat. In this war, however, suspicions born only of wounded vanity, which even among the Chinese have fought no better behind walls than in those who entertain them are only half-believed. the open. They ran from the fortified position of Ping- There is more in the stories which are gradually creeping. Yang, from the works on the Yaloo, and from the many out of stupidities and thefts committed in arming the• forts which protected the arsenal at Port Arthur. They forces of China. It is more than possible that the majority killed a few of the enemy at long ranges, but in the of the Chinese soldiers are not armed at all ; that even passes they scarcely stood, and on the 21st ult., the when they have rifles, the rifles are worthless, or that actual day of attack, the heavy fire from the hills when they are sound, the cartridges will not fit. The so disheartened them that they fled to the sea or weapons purchased in Europe were bought in the most ban- hazard way, a battery of guns, for example, being pur- chased in England or Germany, and the carriages for it in France, so that the guns have never been mounted ; and the Japanese report that while the guns in a fort in Port Arthur are all of a size, the shells for them are of six different sizes, only one of them, of course, or possibly not one, fitting the gun. It is more than possible that a similar blunder extends to the small arms, and a defect of that kind at once cows any troops in the world. Even Austrian soldiers would not face the needle-gun when armed only with the musket ; and the Chinese with good rifles but no ammunition, would in the presence of the Japanese armed with Winchesters and their proper cartridges be as helpless as children. It is nonsense to talk as some writers talk, of the superior build of Chinamen. Modern war only demands strength of a kind, and Bismarck's Pomeranians or our own High- landers, if armed only with inferior rifles, could do nothing against the light, wiry Japanese if armed with good repeaters. They would be killed, as the Matabele were by the Gatlings, before their strength and pluck could tell. We have no mission to defend the Chinese, and we acknowledge fully both their corruption and their collapse ; but their helplessness must be due, in part, to material causes of which we have at present no full account. An Empire cannot have been crushed by a Kingdom solely because its officials were selected by a competitive examination in ancient classics.