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ART. IX.-THE FALL OF SEBASTOPOL.

The Despatches from General Simpson to Lord Panmure, dated the Ninth of September, announcing the fall of Sebastopol.*

A GREAT victory has been won, but we cannot yet tell how great. At this moment the most recent history exactly resembles the most ancient. The narrative of remote antiquity is made up from scattered, short, fragmentary notices of ancient authors, by the acute diligence and laborious ingenuity of speculative scholars. If you see the small scraps of authorities, you wonder at the copious narrative to which they give rise. It is the same with the telegraphic fragments of recent information. The sharp acuteness of eager writers, the painful curiosity of an anxious people, a strong hope, and an interested fancy, soon turn a sentence from Sebastopol into elaborate and flowing composition. But both processes are rather speculative. One ancient historian commonly confutes another ancient historian. The article of September the twentyfirst is usually inconsistent with that of the twentieth.

But of one thing there can be no doubt, that the victory is very great. There are many cases in which the seeming truth is far more important than the real truth. Suppose we had listened to Mr. Gladstone, and had made peace three months ago. Conceive-what he did not in reality venture to maintain-that by a principle of "equilibrium," by a limitation of naval forces, we had obtained for Turkey an effectual guarantee,-imagine that Russia had yielded all that was important;-yet every one would have said that she had won. None would have understood the complicated terms; the world would have fancied a baffled expedition. We have now the imagination. on our side. While Sebastopol was untaken, peace on any terms would have been a Russian victory; now that Sebastopol is fallen, peace on any terms is a Russian defeat.

Some writers have maintained the contrary. The Germans consider that the loss of 4000 cannon is a "beneficial separation of noumenal force from heavy matériel." A Brussels paper discovers that the retreat of Prince Gortschakoff from the city is a military "advantage; " les braves Belges having always

* It may be well to state that we are writing on September 22nd.

thought it an "advantage" to be as far from the enemy as possible. But these speculations will not persuade mankind. If people lose what they have endeavoured to keep, it will be thought that they are beaten; if they have strained every anxious nerve to save what they have lost, it will be added that the intensity of their care truly measures the greatness of their defeat. The Russian loss is especially of this kind. It is said, that when a discerning Frenchman tried to found an Indian empire, one of his first steps was to build a great city, to erect a high column, and to call them "The Pillar and the City of the Greatness of Dupleix." The susceptible fancy of the orientals, which yields too easily to visible and prominent facts, was subjugated at once. The French were everywhere thought the greatest of western nations. Lord Clive broke the spell. Not a stone now remains on the site of the "City of Dupleix." Sebastopol is the City of the Czar. It is the image which he has set up for Jews, and Armenians, and Persians, and Greeks, and Tatars, to worship. It is the sign of his power: it is the type of his empire; the symbol of his right to rule the south. That the French flag floats on the summit of the Malakhoff-that English voices are heard in the Great Harbour-really means that the image is broken, the symbol defaced, the "City of the Czar" no longer a terror amongst the nations.

Nor as we know, though Sebastopol was a city of display, was it a city of mere display. A fanciful observer might call the peninsula of the Crimea a kind of protruding hand, which Russia is putting forth-is about to open upon Turkey. And if the mere territory seems a menace, assuredly that which was upon it, is not less so. It is, perhaps, an abuse of terms to call Sebastopol a "city" at all. It was a station for the navy and army, a depôt for military stores. Not a mercantile ship was allowed to enter one of the finest harbours in the world. The only trades tolerated were those serviceable in supplying soldiers, constructing vessels of war, manufacturing warlike implements. Formerly, in the east, great cities arose on a sudden, because a monarch chose them as the seat of his court; and mounds and tiles and tombs only mark how completely such towns decayed when that sign of favour was withdrawn. It would be the same with Sebastopol. No doubt its site has natural advantages, which in other hands and times might on other grounds become celebrated: but as far as the present town, the existing population-as far as all which makes the present Sebastopol the present Sebastopol-is in the least concerned, a change of policy in the Czar would abolish it in a very few years. If Russia were to confine her plans to the Baltic,

if she were to apply her enlightened attention to the conquest of Iceland, there would be no occasion for the arsenals, the stores, the ships, the soldiers of Sebastopol; the men would be drafted off, the movables be moved, the forts would rot, and the "City of the Emperor" again become the petty Aktiar of the village Tatars.

This is no dream of a hostile or ignorant mind. A cultivated German of rank was a few years ago admitted to the confidence of the Russian Government. Both parties knew he was to write an account of the country, and ample information for that purpose was given him. The crafty administration did not, of course, select a man of original mind. It would have been absurd to cast a man of wise and bold genius into a world of serfs and bribes and peculations and bureaus. What they wanted was a human note-book, an instructed registeringmachine. And such they found. M. Haxthausen has carefully inscribed, has studiously annotated, all that he was told; and this is what he has set down on Sebastopol. "The object of the fleet," he says, "is to secure the dominion of Russia in the Black Sea, and this is still further assured by the construction at Sebastopol-at the present moment-of a fortified port of war, which, according to the accounts of competent persons, will not have its equal in the world. When Europe shall have a moment of feebleness-and we may fairly expect this to come to pass after what we have seen to happen in 1848-and when she shall think the time arrived for conquests, then the establishment of Sebastopol will allow this power to take the offensive against Constantinople with equal energy and safety, by making use of the fleet, either to disembark her troops behind the lines of mountains and rivers which perpendicularly on the western shore of the Black Sea cut at a right angle the line of approach on Constantinople, or to strengthen the base of operations of a grand army, by supporting it wherever there are ports along the Euxine."

It is strange to think of the fortunes of the "fortified port of war." So far from being a basis for aggression, it is a point for defence. So far from "taking the offensive against Constantinople with equal energy and safety," every soldier she contained has been required to man her walls, every gun in her forts has been required to maintain those forts, every fort and battery in her vast circuit has done its utmost in defence, and has failed. The energy of the defence, the prodigies of labour, the masterpiece of ingenuity, have made evident the importance of the failure. "Certainly," says M. Haxthausen," the military position of Russia, in a war against the Ottoman Porte, has undergone une modification capitale" by the foundation of

Sebastopol. Certainly also it has undergone une modification capitale by its fall.

It is curious, too, to compare the actual result with the very recent negotiations. At Vienna there was a copious discussion of how many ships Russia should have; whether as many as Turkey and the Western powers; or as many as Turkey; or a fixed number. She has ended by having no ships at all. The fleet whose enumeration fills so many pages in Haxthausen, is food for the fishes; the noble armament, on each detail of which the placid German dwells with erudite wonder, has not dared to brave one combat with its equals; has fallen more short of its anticipated exploits than any similar fleet since the Spanish Armada; has even exceeded the latter in degradation, for the Russian ships were sunk by Russian hands, and the Spanish braved at least a more daring destruction from winds and waves. So great a failure, so complete a frustration of plans so much meditated, so laboriously executed, is scarcely to be found in civilized history.

It will be inferred from our remarks, that we think that the forts on the north side of Sebastopol will not detain us long. In truth, we only regard them as a halting place, which Prince Gortschakoff has chosen before commencing his final retreat. The case would have been entirely different, if the south side had been taken by a coup de main. If Marshal St. Arnaud had lived, if we had assaulted the south side of Sebastopol this time last year, if we had taken it, we cannot doubt that the north side would have given us great trouble and much uneasiness. The Russian energies were then wholly unexhausted. They have now, on at least two occasions, brought down immense forces from an enormous distance; they have at once sent them to the attack, and been repulsed; they have for a very long time sent great supplies across a great tract of country; it is reasonable to think that they have exhausted it. The only wonder is, that they did not do so before. Above all, they have themselves disclosed the position in which they stand. They have now voluntarily abandoned what it was of immense importance to them to have kept-cannon, powder, stores, arsenals, ships. They have set at liberty an immense army of besiegers; they have abandoned their prestige; they have lost, rightly or wrongly, the opinion of the world. It is clear they would never have done this, except under the compulsion of an imperious motive, of a strong necessity. Nor is there anything in the step they have taken to remove that necessity. If they wish to maintain a large force in the neighbourhood, they will have to supply it as before; and the aggressive power of the allies is vastly increased.

If they

only leave a small force to defend the northern forts, these may be soon invested and certainly taken. Either way, it would seem that there would be not much likelihood of great operations in defence of such a position.

We think, therefore, we are bound to assume that we have obtained nearly complete success in our aggressive operations. We conceive, that if Sebastopol were wholly in possession of the allies, there is little doubt that the Russians would evacuate the Crimea. There would be every military reason for their evacuating it. Its defence requires the transmission of vast supplies across a vast territory, unprovided with means of transmission. There would be no political reason for wishing to retain it. So long as Sebastopol could be defended, it was worth while for Russia to expend any money-to put forth every energy-to sacrifice every man. But when Sebastopol has fallen, it is not worth her while to defend a distant territory, poorly provided with warlike resources, and containing nothing peculiarly eminent in a political consideration. They will doubtless recur to their peculiar tactics of retreat. They will try to retire judiciously and decorously; but they will certainly retire from what it is so costly, so difficult, and so little important to defend.

We have therefore to ask ourselves, what will be the result of complete success? If we drive the Russians from the Crimea, what shall we do? In a military point of view, we do not consider it our province to recommend anything. When the war began, a west-country rustic met a soldier we know at a roadside railway station. The former began, “Well, zir, can you tell I this here? They do tell I, you be agoing to fight agen the old Czar. Now, I can't think, myzelf, however you will take he. They do tell I that Rooshie is a very big place, and that if ye do go away right down into the middle of 'n, you won't get at 'n not nohow." Our military friend tried to explain that it was possible to exhaust Russia, by crippling her trade, ruining her merchants, exhausting her resources; but he produced little effect. The reply was, "Well, zir, I hope you be right; I do hope, zame as you do zay, zir, you'll take he." We have always felt that the untutored intelligence of the provincial mind early grasped a great difficulty. If possible, it will of course again be our object to entrap the Emperor into a distant and exhausting conflict at an exposed extremity of his dominions. But if this be impossible, we must wait the slow operation of a commercial blockade-must let the time run on, until ruined nobles, a starving peasantry, disorganized industry, destitute commerce, compel a great ambition to yield. But this, as we said, is for military gentlemen.

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