THNIZE is undoubted justice in the view of the Frenchman
or the German that England is not a military nation. Lord Lans- downe is not the first of our Foreign Secretaries who has re- garded war as "the most futile and ferocious of human follies." And our genuine dislike of an appeal to arms, except in the very last resort, has indisputably reacted in the worst possible manner upon our military system. As Judge O'Connor Morris observes, our forces are always inefficient in time of peace. "This has been seen from the Peace of Utrecht to the South African War." It is ever the same tale of improvised armies first learning the business of war only in the actual course of the campaign, and yet somehow converted at ex- travagant cost of men and money into capital fighting machines at the eleventh hour, only, however, to be "scrapped" as redundant immediately after the conclusion of peace. This is the discouraging reflection which lends a dramatic unity to Translated The Chronicles of an Old Campaigner, M. Der La Colonis. 1882-1717. from the French by Walter C. Horsley. With Illustrations. London John Murray. [18s. net.)—(2) Wellington's Operations in the Peninsula, 18084814. By Captain Lewis Butler, late K.Itit. With Sketch Maps. 2 vols. London : T. Fisher Unwin. [82s. net.]—(3) Wellington and the Revival of the Military Power of Engles& By the late William O'Connor • Morris. "Heroes of the Nations " Series. London G. P. Putnam's Sons. Ds.]—(4) With Bundle's Eighth Division in South Africa, By T. C. Wetton. London : H. J. Brans, [6s.]
the four books on our list, which cover the ages of our three greatest generals. Nevertheless, there is, curiously enough, among the reading public in England a steady demand for military books. It would seem that we most of us cherish a platonic affection for the drum and the trumpet, how- ever disappointing the practical outcome of this affection may be.
Mr. Horsley, who, by the way, as Lieutenant-Colonel com- manding the Artists' Volunteers, does not himself confine his interest in problems of war to the four walls of his study, is to be congratulated on having rescued from oblivion the memoirs of a French soldier of fortune who was present at every engagement of note, excepting Blenheim, from Landen to Malplaquet, and whose period of service therefore exactly coincided with the first rise of the British standing army to a high level of efficiency. M. De La Colonic, like many of his contemporaries in the Europe of the day, sold his sword to the highest bidder, and though his 'vigorous patriotism and his admiration for the Boi Soleil would undoubtedly have made him scorn to serve against France, he regards the military profession from the standpoint of a Dugald Dalgetty. Having served in the King's armies up to the Peace of Ryswick, we find him at the outbreak of the War of tile Spanish Succession in virtual command of a regiment of French guards in the service of the Elector of Bavaria. When the territory of that Prince was overrun by tlie allies after the Blenheim campaign, he followed Maxi- milian Emanuel to the Netherlands, and served with his French grenadiers at Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malphiquet. On the conclusion of the Peace of Utreoht he joined the army of his old enemy, Prince Eugene, and commanded the Bavarian contingent at the famous battle of Belgrade. The Treaty of Passarowitz found him Marechal des Camps at Armees in the Bavarian Army,—" with the position to hope for still higher honours had the war continued."
It is natural that with such a career M. De La Colonie should be little concerned with the causes or with the rights of any particular struggle. War with him is a profession, and its cessa- tion, if we except the temporary retreat to winter quarters, which provided him with the necessary relaxation, an undoubted calamity. His interests are all opposed to a decisive cam- paign, and he is, therefore, no critic of the failures or in- capacity of the generals on his own side. Nor is he patriotic enough to see the misery and exhaustion entailed upon France by the ruinous and prolonged struggle in the Netherlands, or to be stirred to indignation and sorrow at the reverses initiated upon her arms. On the contrary, he sincerely deplores the Peace of Ryswick, and welcomes the renewal of war in 1702. Again, though he always speaks of" Milord "Marlborough, and more particularly of Prince Eugene, with respect, he does not appear to catch the true significance of the contrast between Landen and, say, Blenheim, in the rise at last of a British army which could meet the troops of France on equal terms, and of a British general who was more than a match for the Marshals of Louis XIV. Landen, if we except his re- capture of Namur, was the most successful of all the battles of William III. Yet Landen wai a bloody defeat, and the strategy of Marlborough is as superior to that of his Royal predecessor in the Netherlands as Villeroy's is inferior to Luxembourg's.
Nevertheless, at the battle of Schelemberg, which preceded Blenheim by five weeks, M. De La Colonic is much impressed. by the desperate courage of the British, and by their deter- mination in successfully driving their third attack home in the failing light, an impression which is perhaps enhanced by his own narrow escape in the rout which followed. At Malplaquet, where the Bavarians were ordered up to support the French Irish Brigade in their historic encounter with Withers's 18th Royal Irish in the wood of Taisnieres, he describes the combat in that wood as " murderous " (though he attributes the bravery of Lottum's corps to their plentiful use of "Dutch courage "), and he describes Marlborough's final charge up the terrible glade as being "most vioient7 and led by the Scotch Guards of the • Queen of England (Scots Greys), "most excellent troops." He also criticises the conduct of some of the smartest of the French regiment,, whom he accuses of having given ground for fear of spoiling their fine clothes. At Ramillies he frankly admits that CIO French were outmanceuvred, though he is able to comfort himself by relating how he saved the remnants of the Maisoii M. De La Colonie's narrative is singularly free from the passion and fury of war ; and terrible as were many of the scenes in which he was an actor, he accepts them quite calmly as part of the ordinary routine of a soldier. He is very accurate in his descriptions of the various operations in which he took part; and though his private adventures are exciting, they do not fall under the suspicion that detracts from the historical value of military memoirs of the Marbot type. The listory of a quarrel with his Colonel, one Boismorel, a favourite of the Duke of Orleans, which runs through the book, throws a striking sidelight upon the military life of the time ; and not less curious is his tale of a lawsuit in his native town. His adventures with the fair sex, the Marquise at Paris, the Countess of the Holy Roman Empire, the lady of Straubing, add a spice to his story, and support a reputation for gallantry, which, in common with most soldiers, M. De La Colonie is dearly anxious to establish. We should add that Mr. Horsley has provided his translation with an excellent .series of portraits and plans from contemporary prints.
We can only very briefly notice the two books that deal -with the Wellington period. They do not profess to have .unearthed any new facts ; indeed, Captain Butler's two volumes on the Peninsular War suffer greatly from the writer's evident neglect of the most recent material. He does not, apparently, attempt more than an epitome of Napier, with the addition of certain points of military detail "which Are either omitted or, at any rate, not prominently brought forward by him," and of some careful sketches of the -battles, orders of battle, and other similar information. Thus Captain Butler repeats without qualification all Napier's .strictures on the conduct of the Spaniards, including the libel on Romana end on the surrender of :Espinosa,—an attitude of mind which is almost inexplicable except on the .supposition that he has not read the works of Toreilo and Arteche, to say nothing of Professor Oman's recent volumes, which furnish us in the English language with the most con- vincing proofs of the injustice of these accusations. Captain Butler also insists on regarding Napoleon . as a beneficent power; he only mentions the treachery at Bayonne to defend it, on the ground that the Emperor was "faced by a succes- sion of unforeseen circumstances, and that his patriotism [sic] compelled Napoleon to do all in his power to secure his country from invasion " ! He also states that it cannot be „denied that he offered the Spaniards a really good govern- ment.
Captain Butler's general survey of the strategy of the :Peninsular War is, however, a useful one, though he has been obliged to compress the tactical descriptions of the battles within very small limits, and his book should prove useful as an introduction to the detailed study of the war. We are glad to see that in his account of the Corunna campaign he .gives full credit to Lord Paget for his admirable handling of the cavalry division, and assigns him a place second only to Cromwell, as one of the few cavalry generals that we have .ever had. It was not, however, "seniority obtained through -family interest" which made it impossible for Paget to serve under Wellington in the Peninsular War. While he is occa- sionally too severe in his treatment of those fine old warriors .Baird and Graham, Captain Butler attempts to excuse • Burrard and Cradock, chiefly in protest, it would appear, against what he considers the injustice of the public outcry against the former, and of Frere's civilian interference with the latter. In his concluding chapter, while paying tribute to the army which the genius of Wellington had created, he feels called upon to defend the British officer of to-day. -But he hardly improves his case by his tale of the distinguished -cavalry officer who, when asked his opinion of the compara- tive merits of Paget and Cotton, declared he had never beard -of either !
The late Judge O'Connor Morris was an established Authority on the Napoleonic Wars. The volume on Welling- ton as soldier and statesman which has just appeared in the -" Heroes of the Nations" Series is the counterpart of his popular Napoleon in the same series. There is no absolutely satisfactory biography of Wellington, and a Life of compact -size written by an author whose knowledge of his subject was profound, and who, as shown by his treatment of disputed kittestions of tactics or strategy, was thoroughly conversant
with the arguments of the most recent writers on the Peninsula or Waterloo, is sure to find many readers. The Life deals mainly with the military side of Wellington's work, but the sketch of his political career is also interesting, though not unbiassed. The story of his relations with Ireland as a poli- tician and statesman is particularly fresh. We observe, how- ever, that the Judge magnanimously denies that there was a drop of Celtic blood in the veins of the man to whom he quite rightly gives the particularly Saxon name of Wesley. When Wesley joined the Army it had sunk, as the Judge reminds us, "to the lowest point of inferiority seen in its history," and be was on the point of throwing up his commission in disgust. By 1815 it was the first for its size in Europe. The Judge's estimate of the Iron Duke as a soldier seems to us to be very just. "He was not, like Napoleon, a genius of the first order
as a strategist he was hardly the equal of the Archduke Charles." In the Peninsular campaigns "he made many grave mistakes"; in Belgium he was " out- generalled almost from first to last." It is on the field of battle that we see his best qualities, though even here he was hardly as great as Marlborough, and did not achieve anything equal to Blenheim and Ramillies. But he was "a safe and prudent commander with a remarkable gift of turning to account a mistake made by an adversary on the field," and, above all, with "a stern constancy" that never knew dismay. In the after years of peace—" though his military administration is hardly entitled to high praise— he saw from an early period how, as always happened, British statesmen, under the influence of a prolonged peace, were allowing the army to be dangerously reduced in strength, and how the defences of the country were being neglected." Finally, the Judge reminds us of Wellington's celebrated letter to Sir John Burgoyne in 1818, and of his firm belief in the Militia, which he lived to see increased in 1852.
Mr. Wetton's account of the sufferings of the Eighth Division, that commanded in the South African War by Sir Leslie Rundle, and the photographs which illustrate his book, will recall much to the memory of his comrades that is more pleasant in reminiscence than in actuality, while few who read his record of personal experiences, first as a hospital orderly, and then as a trooper of Imperial Yeomanry, will challenge his statement that the private soldier of to-day is quite surprisingly the gentleman, tender-hearted, uncomplaining, ever cheerful, and, withal, a lion in the field. In this respect Mr. Wetton's estimate, even when every allowance is made for the vast improvement that has taken place of recent years in the character of the rank-and-file of the Army, is at once more humane and more just than the Duke of Wellington's.