« AnteriorContinuar »
character, but the men themselves trained in all that pertains to their calling. Hence it becomes necessary to mass thousands of men, drawn from the lower grades of society, in one spot, that they may learn more effectively the arts of their profession. Cannock Chase, to the eye of a civilian, seems admirably adapted for such a purpose; its hills and valleys and broad plains, more or less undulating, covered with heather, the bilberry, bunchberry, fern, and other moorland plants, afford no indication of the rich mineral treasures lying deep below, which at various spots are being brought to the surface for distribution over the country. The sands and gravels, relics of former sea-beds and beaches, afford admirable drainage for the surface-water, while many streams furnish the necessary supplies for the soldier and his steed.
On the occasion of our visit, we found the camp in two divisions, with a very considerable stretch of heath between them. The bellshaped tents, arranged in beautifully regular lines, with the horses of the cavalry tethered in long, straight rows, with the artillery, the control, the engineers, and the hospital tents, &c., form a picture so novel and striking as not readily to be forgotten; but our presence in so unwonted a scene was not to witness military display, or to be initiated into the mysteries of a soldier's career, so much as to ascertain what, if any, provision had been made for the moral and intellectual welfare of the men who were thus to spend a month away from their usual haunts, to undergo a good deal of physical labour, but to have much idle time hanging upon their hands. The soldier carries no more in his kit than he can well avoid, as his time is to be spent on the march or in the camp. When not on duty he is cleaning his accoutrements, lounging in his tent, or, it must be said, too often drinking in the canteens, or away from his officer's eye, in the beer-houses of the neighbouring town, which on Sunday evening presented an aspect but little creditable to the British soldier or to modern civilisation. It must not, however, be supposed that there are not bright exceptions, as we found a number of the Guards met together every evening for prayer under a hedge-side near their camp; but the only provision made by the authorities, beyond the daily supply of food, is that of the regimental canteen, into two of which we looked, and could discover nothing for the men's comfort but barrels of beer. In the midst, however, of the principal camp we discovered a small colony of tents; one, a kind of shop or canteen, where hot tea and coffee were being rapidly disposed of, eatables of a plain but good kind, lemonade and other similar drinks, needles and thread, paper and envelopes, and other multifarious articles useful to the soldier, were being sold. Alongside was another, having the inscription, "For soldiers only;" but obtaining permission to enter, we found a number of rudely-constructed tables and seats, the former being covered with the London daily newspapers, the Illustrated London News, Graphic, &c., numerous religious and temperance publications, sundry materials for pleasant but harmless games, inkstands, pens, &c. In connection with these tents were three other smaller ones, used as store and sleeping-places for the attendants, while in the open ground at the rear, large boilers and a camp oven were in active operation under the care of a stalwart cook, who, like his comrades, had been a soldier; and near the entrance to the reading or recreation tent
was a covered van, such as is used by travelling gipsies, a most unusual appendage to a camp, in which dwelt the presiding genius and active spirit of the whole, in the person of Miss Robinson, of Guildford, who having spent a month in this van amid the rain and fog of Dartmoor, during which time her clothing was never thoroughly dry, had come on to this camp, and was now happily rejoicing in sunshine. Miss Robinson, "the soldier's friend," had kindly placed herself at the disposal of the National Temperance League, whose committee was very desirous to do something for the comfort and welfare of the men while in camp, and to counteract in some manner the terrible temptations to which they are exposed. The Duke of Cambridge, Commander-in-Chief, kindly gave his unqualified authority, and ordered that the generals commanding should afford every facility; thus, probably for the first time in the history of the British army, has a civilian establishment, unconnected in any way with the War Office, and for the sale only of unintoxicatiug drinks, been permitted to enter a camp. The Temperance League provided the funds and arranged as far as it could be done in London, all the preliminaries, but the work could not have been carried out without Miss Robinson's devoted zeal; her previous knowledge of the wants and feelings of the soldier enabling her to do just what was required, and at the right time. Not only have the tents (there is one in each camp) furnished supplies of food and drink, but, by means of a waggon, large quantities of hot coffee have been served as early as five o'clock, to regiments lying from two to three miles away, to the great comfort of both officers and men. At Dartmoor, as at Cannock, the Temperance tent has been used each Sunday evening for divine service or prayer-meetings; while during the day, Bibles, religious publications and books are upon the tables for the free use of any soldier who chooses to come: on our visit, about two o'clock on Sunday, it was nearly full of men, either reading or writing. The Post Office has a receiving-place at the camp, but refused Miss Robinson's request to issue Post Office Orders, and as soldiers appear to be unable to keep money in their pockets, it became necessary that she should herself undertake the duty of remitting money for the men. From Dartmoor more than one hundred pounds was sent from a great number of men, some of the amounts being very small; the amount sent from Cannock bids fair to be even greater. These sums have for the most part, doubtless, been saved from the public-house. The confidence of the soldier in his friend is shown by his bringing his open letter with the money he wishes to send, which Miss Robinson takes to the town, obtains the order, encloses it, secures, and posts. Thus, what the Times denominated "a novel experiment," has been most successfully carried out; the men have been provided with creature comforts of a wholesome character, with pleasant recreation, moral training, and spiritual guidance. The cost in money has been large, that of time and energy has been greater; but then it has demonstrated that the soldier, like every other human being, is to a great extent a creature of circumstances, and is willing to avail himself of help when it is offered to him.
We found on the Sunday that divine worship was conducted in the camp by ministers of the Established Church, by the Wesleyan
chaplain, and by a Presbyterian; the Roman Catholics being marched to a hapel of that persuasion in the town. At head-quarters the sight was brilliant and imposing as the men marched up to attend service upon a piece of tolerably level greensward, having in the background the general's tent, and behind a steep sloping bank, forming a kind of amphitheatre, covered with civilians. The Life Guards in their bright and glittering helmets, headed by their band, playing martial strains, were the first to arrive; these were quickly succeeded by men of various regiments, until some thousand or twelve hundred men were massed around three sides of a square at the upper and open side a small table, brought from a neighbouring tent and covered with a railway rug, indicated the preacher's position; on either side were the respective commanding officers and their suites, in very varied but strikingly brilliant uniforms, while all around was a dense mass of civilian onlookers, and away almost as far as the eye could reach, stretched over the Chase, the white tents of the First Division of the camp, amid which were here and there dense masses of horses, where the Artillery, Life Guards, Engineers, &c., had their quarters. The clergyman, a reverend canon from the neighbouring cathedral, whose name it is not necessary to mention, having taken his stand at the improvised desk, commenced the services in a full, sonorous voice, which augured well that every one in the great crowd would hear. Two or three campstools had been found for as many ladies, all the rest of the congregation, of course, standing the whole time on a previous Sunday the worthy bishop had kept them in that position for more than an hour and a half. Having a place immediately behind the preacher, we were enabled carefully to observe the men, very many of whom appeared to join with great interest in the service, which, it is needless to say, was conducted somewhat after the manner adopted in churches, the preacher making a most judicious selection from the Book of Common Prayer, and reading with emphasis and feeling a chapter from the Gospels. The singing was disappointing, for although hymn books were handed round to most of the soldiers, and the tunes were the familiar ones of "Rousseau" and "Singing for Jesus," but very few of the men sang, although a few officers near us did so with a will: had it not been for the Guards' band, which played the airs, this part of the service would have been very dull. The preacher took no text, but proceeded to address the men on the importance of regarding little things, and whatever the effect might have been upon others, we came away feeling that of all little things, that address was certainly of the smallest. Some good advice and instruction were given, such as might have been useful amongst a class of boys in a day-school, but it was a miserably lost opportunity of proclaiming the gospel to a vast crowd of military and others.
General Lysons, commanding the camp, is extremely rigid in prohibiting any preaching or addresses by other than the authorised ministers. A worthy "brother" mounted a little knoll in the midst of the tents, nearly a mile from head-quarters, and having vigorously rung a bell for some time, to gather a congregation, was in the act of singing a hymn, when an orderly, galloping up, peremptorily stopped the proceedings by ordering the would-be preacher off the ground and the men to their tents;
no objection is, however, made to the distribution of tracts and to personal intercourse with the men.
Services in camp are of two kinds, parade and voluntary; to the former all the men who can be spared from duty are marched under the guidance of their officers, and must hear whether they like it or not; at the voluntary services, of course only those attend who choose to do so. A preacher appointed to labour in a camp has, if he does his duty, no idle life, as the men are scattered over a wide extent of country, and many visits have to be paid to their tents, as well as to those in hospital, in addition to the more public duties. We found the excellent Wesleyan chaplain, the Rev. Richard Hardy, holding a parade service in the First Division camp at nine o'clock in the morning; to these services not only are the Wesleyans marched, but men of other dissenting persuasions attend also; this being ended, the preacher had to walk across the Chase to Brindley Heath, between three and four miles of very toilsome country, to the Second Division camp, where another service was held; a third service was appointed for the same camp in the afternoon; and in the evening, after a walk back to the First Division, a fourth service, each in the open air, and all standing; the latter service was succeeded by a prayer-meeting in the tent of the National Temperance League, which was soon crowded with red and blue coats, who overflowed and stood all round the outside as far as earshot extended. Here the singing was hearty enough, putting to shame the bated breath of the morning service. The gospel was faithfully preached, and the prayers of the soldiers were deep, earnest, and thoughtful. Mr. Hardy writes of this day :-"After more than thirteen hours' absence, I reached my lodgings, very weary, but very grateful to God for the manifestations of his presence and power so blessedly experienced by us. My conviction is, that the godly men will finish the month spiritually stronger and better. In each camp, meetings are quietly held every night. Many would be startled to come upon some secluded spot, or, if wet, under the canopy of some overshadowing trees, and listen, first to the singing, then perhaps to the reading of some passages of Holy Scripture, and then to prayer, so pleading, realising, prevailing, that you feel to such prayer the promise in the Word is present life and blessing in the heart. The men are seated, lest it might be supposed a service was being held, instead of a mere group for mutual edification."
China's Cry and China's Need.
BY THOMAS P. HARVEY.
[ITHERTO we have confined ourselves to detailing the causes and symptoms of China's suffering. We now propose to speak of the treatment which we believe will alone meet the case, and effect a radical cure.
Some will remark that we have drawn a sad picture in what we have
written concerning the "Cry" of the people of China, and doubtless are anxious to hear what we have to say about the "Need."
As sad as the symptoms may appear, "the half hath not been told." They are but symptoms of that great psychological malady, "Sin," for which we know but one remedy, namely, "the Gospel; "which" is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." (Rom. i. 16.) As to this matter, we speak very distinctly and decidedly. Good diplomacy will doubtless secure greater international advantages and facilities for commerce. The instillation of Western science and art may tend to make the Chinese more like a European people. The introduction of western appliances, such as telegraphs, locomotives, and steamships, would certainly enable them to open up the hidden wealth of their vast country, and so improve their position amongst the nations of the world. But all these things, as powerful as they may appear, would fail to deliver the people from the thraldom of Satan, and impart that Divine light and truth which we hold to be the one true secret of the lasting success of every nation.
Some have said that we need but teach the Chinese our western sciences, and introduce our modern improvements, in order to overcome their ancient conservatism and barbarous customs. This has to some extent been tried; and with what success? Has it been found that those Chinese who have adopted western appliances, or studied western science and art, have been led to give up their heathen customs and reform their mode of living? Our experience, together with the experience of all who have examined this subject, answers "No." The deep-rooted aversion to foreigners, ignorance of spiritual things, filth, treachery, deceit, and inhuman customs, have been found to survive all the teaching of this kind which could well be imparted. True, the Chinese seem to avail themselves of every opportunity of improving their "defences," by enlisting the services of foreign officers to drill their troops, and of others to assist in the manufacture of cannon and arms, and the building of iron ships; but still, this is done with a view of ultimately being able to drive" the foreign devils into the sea.
Those who look to commerce to convert the Chinese, look in vain. One of the greatest blights which has ever visited the people of China is the result of foreign commerce-the traffic in opium. Neither can we hopefully look to those of our fellow-countrymen who go to China for trading purposes to bring the Chinese to the knowledge of truth. We mourn as we see the baneful influence foreign merchants exercise upon the Chinese. Were it not the constant remark of outsiders, and of the Chinese themselves, I would not dare to advance a word upon this point; but it is well known that some of the very worst Chinese in all China are to be found in connection with foreign merchants at freeports. One of the greatest hindrances to our missionary work in China is the practical denial other foreigners give to "vital Christianity." I seek not to speak unkindly; but unflinchingly, as a servant of God, I am bold to speak the truth. I do so because many at home have been erroneously led to believe that the merchant-service is the harbinger to the gospel; whereas it is quite the reverse.
As regards educating the Chinese in the knowledge of western science and art, with a view of ultimately leading them to "the truth;"