Page images

were as little before the law as the least subjects of the kingdom, and the result of his measures was most beneficial to the interests of the army.

It was also in 1635, that year so fertile from a military point of view, that the division of the regiments into battalions was introduced. At first it was only temporary, the internal administration of the corps not being sufficiently advanced for it to be otherwise; but the principle was established, and it was soon perceived that by this division it would be possible to obviate all the inconveniences produced in strategic operations by corps numerically too strong and so unequal as were the regiments at that day. It was therefore with the object of having some regularity that the regiments were divided, though only in times of war, into two or three battalions, commanded by the senior captains, and from this period the infantry were only reckoned in the army by the number of battalions.

This was the last important measure adopted during the reign of Louis XIII., who died a short time after Richelieu, the one hated and admired, as Voltaire says, the other already forgotten. Louis XIV., aged five, succeeded his father, as Cardinal de Mazarin did Richelieu. The new minister followed the external policy of the man who had been his master, and, in order to continue the wars undertaken, further increased the effective strength of the army. Unfortunately, renewed internal troubles plunged France once more into the state of anarchy from which the violent energy of the minister of Louis XIII. had drawn it; but these troubles had no influence on the military operations, or on the institution of the army, before which a splendid horizon gleamed; for, after the death of the man who had directed the great struggle in which France was again engaged, when the royalty once more reposed on a child in a cradle and a woman, Spain, bleeding and shattered, roused herself, and by a supreme effort tried to profit by the civil disorders of France to regain that European supremacy which Richelieu had wrested from her.

The army, amid all the disorders of the civil war, though very badly treated, displayed a devotion forming a singular contrast with the cowardly defection of the most illustrious of its chiefs. The Regent and Mazarin were thus requited for all the concessions they had made to the nobility. The seigneurs only employed their authority to raise soldiers arbitrarily; no resistance could be offered them, and more than 50,000 Frenchmen were compelled by them to take up arms against the royal army, which daily diminished. While it had a strength of 290,000 men under Richelieu, it did not count 35,000 twenty years later.

We have here reached an important epoch of the history of the French army, and will stop for the present. On another occasion we propose to follow its development from the reign of Louis XIV. up to the outbreak of the French revolution.




SOME geographers have given the name of Oceania to the whole collection of those islands which are situated in the Pacific Ocean, but it having been found, upon closer inspection, that this vast assemblage of islands is naturally divided into three groups, we are in the habit in this country of writing of them as belonging to Malasia, or the East Indian Archipelago, to Australasia, as contradistinguished from Australia, by which name what was once absurdly called New Holland is now designated, and to a third or eastern division, grouped under the head of Polynesia. These designations are not admitted by our good friends and allies the French, for obvious reasons; they have recently founded a colony in the Hindhu Chinese peninsula--in Annam, or Cochin China— and they naturally feel that the so-called East Indian Archipelago is just as much Hindhu Chinese as it is East Indian; they have established a "point d'appui" in the Australian seas, at New Caledonia, and the archipelago might therefore just as well be Franco-Caledonian as Australasian; and they have declared their supremacy in the Society Islands, discovered, like New Caledonia, by our own circumnavigator Cook, at the very heart and centre of the Eastern Pacific group, as also in the Marquesas, and they have therefore divided the whole collection into Malasian and Oceanic.

These regions, said one of their most gifted writers, present, in every quarter, scenes fitted to move the most frigid imagination. Many nations are here found in their earliest infancy. The amplest openings have been afforded for commercial activity. Numberless valuable productions have been already laid under contribution to our insatiable luxury. Here many natural treasures still remain concealed from scientific observation. How numerous are the gulfs, the ports, the straits, the lofty mountains, and the smiling plains! What magnificence, what solitude, what originality, and what variety! Here the zoophyte, the motionless inhabitant of the Pacific Ocean, creates by its accumulated exuvia a rampart of calcareous rock round the bank of sand on which it has grown. Grains of seed are

brought to this spot by the birds, or wafted by the winds. The nascent verdure makes daily acquisitions of strength, till the young palm waves its verdant foliage over the surface of the waters. Each shallow is converted

L'Océanie Nouvelle: Colonies, Migrations, Mélanges. Par Alfred Jacobs. Paris: Michel Lévy Frères.


2 c

into an island, and each island improved into a garden. We behold at a distance a dark volcano ruling over a fertile country, generated by its own lava. A rapid and charming vegetation is displayed by the side of heaps of ashes and of scoriæ. Where the land is more extended, scenes more vast present themselves; sometimes the ambiguous basalt rises majestically in prismatic columns, or lines, to a distance too great for the eye to reach, the solitary shore with its picturesque ruins. Sometimes enormous primitive peaks boldly shoot up among the clouds; while, hung on their sides, the dark pine forest varies the immense void of the desert with its gloomy shade. In another place, a low coast, covered with mangroves, sloping insensibly beneath the surface of the sea, stretches afar into dangerous shallows, where the noisy waves break into spray. To these sublime horrors a scene of enchantment suddenly succeeds. A new Cythera emerges from the bosom of the enchanted wave. An amphitheatre of verdure rises to our view. Tufted groves mingle their foliage with brilliant enamel of the meadows. An eternal spring, combining with an eternal autumn, displays the opening blossom along with the ripened fruits. A perfume of exquisite sweetness embalms the atmosphere, which is continually refreshed by the wholesome breezes from the sea. A thousand rivulets trickle down the hills, and mingle their plaintive murmurs with the joyful melody of the birds animating the thickets. Under the shade of the cocoa, the smiling but modest hamlets present themselves, roofed with banana leaves, and decorated with garlands of jessamine. Here might mankind, if they could only throw off their vices, lead lives exempt from trouble and from want. Their bread grows on the trees which shade their lawns, the scene of their festive amusement. Their light barks glide in peace on the lagoons, protected from the swelling surge by the coral reefs surrounding their whole island, at a short distance from the shore, and confining their domestic water in the stillness of a prison.

For what Great Britain has done for these lands of promise, it is sufficient to refer to Australia, Tasmania, and to New Zealand, the first with its five separate colonies, or distinct governments, and a population, since 1788, of upwards of a million of souls. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong, Hobart Town, Launceston, Auckland, Wellington, Singapore, and other places of minor import, attest to the colonial capabilities and enterprise of the mother country. The Dutch have their settlements also, of no small import, and the Americans have obtained a footing in the same sea of islands. No wonder, then, that France should desire to be worthily represented in "Oceania."

"But when we turn," says M. Alfred Jacobs, " from the spectacle presented by the English colonies, and pass on to that presented by our establishments in Oceania, the change is as complete as it is abrupt. We no longer see the activity, the force, the exuberant and turbulent life, the vast spaces delivered up to the process of clearing at the bottom of some haven, where occasional whalers or a wandering merchantman now and then seek refuge, may be seen a brick and mud building, over which our standard floats, whilst a few marines lounge about the doorway. A few scattered huts sometimes help to constitute a group of habitations that spreads and assumes even the aspect of a little town or of a goodly village; but everything is dull and lifeless except when the commodore or

admiral, who carries his flag from one establishment to another, comes to impart a kind of factitious animation by his presence, and to create a movement that is more military than industrious or com mercial."

The picture is not flattering, but it has the much greater advantage of being pointedly and graphically correct. There is something positively extraordinary in the manner in which France selects her colonies. Great Britain looks to the extent of available lands in which her surplus and enterprising population can thrive; Holland contents herself with a golden monopoly of spices, groceries, and tobacco; but France seems, at Adule, New Caledonia, Tahiti, and the Marquesas, to have no one single object in view but to plant sentry-boxes, or corps de garde, in the way of the world's commerce.

Sir R. I. Murchison, remarking, in his anniversary address to the Royal Geographical Society, in 1859, upon the necessity of keeping up the establishment at that time recently abandoned at Port Essington, whether as a port of refuge for our merchantmen in time of peace, or as a roadstead during war, in which a fleet could assemble, to protect the northern and eastern coasts of the vast continent of Australia, further observed, that, in the absence of such, it was clear that an enemy might sweep the eastern archipelago on one side, or attack the slightly protected colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, or Tasmania on the other. "In the mean time, although we have long ago abandoned the solitary station of Port Essington on the north coast of Australia-contrary to the entreaty of that excellent naval officer the late Sir Gordon Bremer and his associates now living, Captain Stokes and Drury, as well as in the face of a protest on the part of this society-not only has no substitute for it been obtained by occupying Cape York or any other station, but we seem to have been heedless of the efforts made in the interim by the French to establish other ports in these seas, and to fill them with a naval force. Thus, whilst the picture of New Caledonia, as discovered by Captain Cook, still hangs in the rooms of the first lord of our Admiralty, that great island has been taken possession of by the French, and is now their Nouvelle Calédonie.' Now, if our allies (and may they long continue such) were merely occupying these islands for purposes of trade and commerce, little notice might be taken of the event; but when it is known that they possess in those seas and bays a much larger force of ships of war than Britain, the prospect is, I am bound to say, most unsatisfactory as regards the long undefended coast-line of Eastern and Southern Australia. In vain has your old president insisted on this point for many years, in virtue of the advice of naval officers of experience in those seas, on whose opinion he could rely; but he trusts that a sufficient naval protection of Australia-no less than of the British isles -will now seriously occupy the attention of the government, the parliament, and the country."

Captain Byron Drury, R.N., said at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, held on the 22nd of November, 1858, that had we not been at Port Essington in 1838, two French frigates would probably have taken possession of it. They arrived two months after us! This was a close touch, and yet it depended upon a matter of two months' priority whether the future Anglo-Australian colonies should not have had a hostile people planted for centuries like a thorn in their side on the great

continent, where they fancied themselves so snugly established! If France can intimate that it will be necessary to strengthen herself by the occupation of Egypt-already a quasi-French province-if we open the shortest route to our Indian possessions via Western Asia, it is obvious that she can in the same way any day announce her intention of extending her power in the Eastern seas, if we act in any manner that is not consonant to what she may deem to be her political interests. These are unpleasant topics to dwell upon. We would personally have wished to have avoided such altogether; we take a real pleasure in the progress of France, or of any other civilised nation, in their subjection of new lands or semibarbarous races, and their bringing people and lands, as in Algeria and Cochin China, within the pale of humanity. Such are the legitimate fields of colonisation. But he must be blind who cannot see that establishments at Adule, New Caledonia, Tahiti, and the Marquesas, have no such legitimate meaning whatsoever, and it is sometimes in the power of the geographer to warn the politician.

But to return to our French author's pictures of a French colony in the South Seas. He goes on to inquire with admirable naïveté: "Whence this inactivity? Are we, then, unequal to the industry and labour of our neighbours, and have the descendants of that old Celtic race, that loved so much to wander over the face of the earth, become inimical to all change of place? Most assuredly not; Egypt, Persia, and India, which witness so many Frenchmen taking there their science and their swords, can testify to the contrary. Nor has the aptitude to colonise been always wanting to France: witness Canada and Louisiana, not to mention India, which might have had a very different destiny if Dupleix and La Bourdonnais, the heroes of the eighteenth century, had not been basely abandoned. There is still a region in the present day where French activity seems to take foot and to develop itself, and that is in the magnificent region watered by the Rio de la Plata.

"We are not, then, utterly foreign to the labours and proceedings of external life, and yet we must admit that divers circumstances have contributed to leave us in inferiority to our neighbours, the English, and even the Germans. Out of his own country, the Frenchman is engineer, soldier, adventurer; he is seldom a cultivator or a merchant. Further, the complete separation from his native soil is more repugnant to him than to any other exile. What a touching and persevering affection have Louisiana and Canada preserved for the metropolis! Add to all this, France has always sufficed for herself, and has never obliged her children to cast looks of covetousness across the ocean, or to ask from foreign regions for the resources of existence. Hence a radical difference has sprung up between the education and the primary ideas of the English and French people. Here people are born cultivators and soldiers; there, sailors and merchants. In England, the great cities are on the coasts, and a nation of men, cradled in the sea, are familiarised with ideas of expatriation, and have for the most part friends or relations in the most distant countries. Every day they read in the papers news of their countrymen in China or Australia, and they thus become accustomed to consider the world as a province of England.

"The fertility and natural abundance of our soil, the attachment that we experience for it, the political circumstances of the end of the last century

« PreviousContinue »