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In proceeding along these stupendous heights, the traveller occasionally experiences a distressing sensation. The atmosphere, rarified to excess, becomes nearly unfit for supporting respiration —the action of the lungs being impeded, the slightest fatigue overpowers him—he stops at every three or four steps, gasping for breath—the skin is painful, and blood bursts from the lipssometimes he is affected by giddiness in the head and a tendency to vertigo. The natives, who are also seized with these symptoms, without being able to divine the physical cause, ascribe them to bis, or bish, meaning air poisoned, as they imagine, by the deleterious odour of certain flowers. A little observation would have shown them that the flowers in these regions have scarcely any scent; while it is in the most elevated tracts, where all vegetation has ceased, that the feelings in question become the most severe and oppressive.
Amid these awful scenes there are two spots peculiarly sacred and sublime; those, namely, where the Jumna and the Ganges, the two rivers which give grandeur and fertility to the plain of Hindostan, burst from beneath the eternal snows. No mortal foot has yet ascended to their highest springs, situated in the most elevated recesses of the mountains. There they issue forth as torrents, amid broken masses of granite, to force their way through the deep glens of the middle Himalayah. Hugh MURRAY.
He is gone. Heaven's will is best :
Strew not on the hero's hearge
THE RELIEF OF LUCKNOW.
At length, on the 23rd, a letter was received from General Outram, stating that the relieving army had crossed the Ganges, and in a few days would be in Lucknow.
The glad news ran from mouth to mouth, and from house to house—but still they had been told this before, only to be struck back from the sunlight of hope into the abyss of despair. During that afternoon heavy distant cannonading was heard in the direction of Cawnpore. Are they coming? was asked in whispered accents, and the most intense excitement prevailed in the garrison. There was that wavering between doubt and hope which ever fills the bosom with the most painful anxiety. Eager inquiries were made of the officers if they thought that cannonading proceeded from their friends. Many shook their heads, saying they could not have advanced so far, on account of the heavy rains. At five o'clock, however, the deep booming of cannon again broke over the intrenchments, sounding nearer than before, and throwing the garrison into an excitement that was painful to contemplate. It lasted for half an hour, then ceased; but there was little sleep in the garrison that night. The rain came down in torrents, yet through the rushing floods the ear was strained to catch once more the sound of those guns. Before daylight they were again heard, and in the morning look-outs from the top of the Residency reported that the army was only about four miles distant, and the smoke of cannon could be plainly seen.
Doubt was now changed into certainty, and as the explosions, rising louder and nearer, proclaimed the advance, the excitement among a portion of the garrison amounted almost to delirium. They ran from one to another, exclaiming, “ They are coming! they are coming!” As the deep reverberations rolled over the plain, hysterical soks would burst forth, and tears fall in showers. Never before did the thunder of artillery sound so musical to mortal ears. Those dumb cannon seemed all at once to become conscious beings, dear friends, and to be talking to them in the distance, saying in stern, yet kind language, “We are coming!” No lute or harp ever thrilled the heart with such wild ecstasy as did the accents that broke from those bronze lips.
Ay, they were coming—that serried host of braves. They had ploughed their way through the waves of rebellion; and now, over frowning batteries, through clouds of foes, over the dead and dying, were sweeping on like the avenging angel, and soon their battle-shout would ring louder than a thousand bugle blasts over those battered intrenchments. Ah! who can describe the sensations of those within the garrison ? Eyes that had long looked unmoved on death now moistened with tears; lips that seemed made of iron during this long and terrible conflict quivered with emotion; and hearts that had beat serenely amid the storm of shot and shell heaved convulsively. God had not abandoned them. His bow of promise spanned the heavens, and his voice of mercy was heard in the incessant and deafening crash of cannon.
The brave Inglis and the garrison of Lucknow will remain for ever as monuments of human skill, courage, and endurance.
Outram was worthy of the high position to which he had been assigned, for in addition to his great ability as a commander, he was thoroughly acquainted with the region about Cawnpore and Lucknow. His knowledge of the country enabled him fully to appreciate the Herculean efforts Havelock had put forth to save Lucknow; and being the soul of honour and chivalry himself, he felt nothing but pride and a true soldier's admiration for his heroic deeds. Instead, therefore, of assuming the command, he immediately, on his arrival, issued orders respecting the arrangement of the different brigades and engineer's department, and then adds :
“ The important duty of first relieving the garrison of Lucknow has been intrusted to Brigadier-General Havelock, C.B.; and
Major-General Outram feels that it is due to this distinguished officer, and the strenuous and noble exertions which he has already made to effect that object, that to him should accrue the honour of the achievement. Major-General Outram is confident that the great end for which General Havelock and his brave troups have so long and so gloriously fought will now, under the blessing of Providence, be accomplished.
“The Major-General, therefore, in gratitude for, and admiration of, the brilliant deeds in arms achieved by General Havelock and his gallant troops, will cheerfully waive his rank on the occasion, and will accompany the force to Lucknow in his civil capacity as Chief Commissioner of Oude, tendering his military services to General Havelock as a volunteer.”
Never before was so remarkable an order issued to an army by its commander—the days of chivalry can furnish no parallel to it. There is a grandeur in the very simplicity and frankness with which this self-sacrifice is made, while the act itself reveals a nobleness of character, a true greatness of soul, that wins our unbounded admiration. To waive his rank and move on with the column as a spectator would have shown great self-denial, and elicited the applause of the world; but, not satisfied with this, he joined the volunteer cavalry, and, though covered with well-earned laurels, stood ready to win his epaulettes over again. All his illustrious deeds in the field that have rendered his name immortal grow dim before the glory of this one act. When they shall be forgotten it shall remain, the best eulogium that could be pronounced on his name. No wonder that Sir Colin Campbell, in afterwards confirming this arrangement, said: “Seldom, perhaps never, has it occurred to a commander-in-chief to publish and confirm such an order as the following one, proceeding from MajorGeneral Sir James Outram. With such a reputation as MajorGeneral Sir James Outram has won for himself, he can afford to share glory and honour with others. But that does not lessen the value of the sacrifice he has made with such disinterested generosity in favour of Brigadier-General Havelock, commanding the field force in Oude.".
Havelock, in his order, thus speaks of Outram's noble and disinterested conduct:
“CAWAPORE, Sept. 16th. “ Brigadier-General Havelock, in making known to the column the kind and generous determination of General Sir James Outram, to leave to him the task of relieving Lucknow, and rescuing its gallant and enduring garrison, has only to express his hope that the troops will strive, by their exemplary and gallant conduct in the field, to justify the confidence thus reposed in them.”
Havelock had determined when he started in the morning to relieve the anxiously-waiting garrison that night, or not survive the attempt; and the soldiers, who at first were glad to obtain a moment's rest, became impatient at delay. They had fought their way for nearly a hundred miles to rescue their beleaguered comrades with their wives and children, and they could not rest till they thundered at the gates of their prison.
The garrison in the meantime were anxiously listening for their arrival. They had heard the heavy firing in the morning, and noticed that there was a great sensation in the city. Towards noon they could see the smoke of battle as it rolled upwards over the houses, and, a little later, people hurrying out of the city, carrying bundles of clothes on their heads, followed by large bodies of cavalry and men. Although the enemy kept up a steady fire upon them, they were too excited to pay much heed to it, but listened with beating hearts to the heavy cannonading as it wound hither and thither through the streets. By four o`clock some officers on the look-out reported that they saw, far away, near a palace, a regiment of Europeans and a bullock battery. Soon after, the rattle of musketry was heard in the streets.
While they stood listening, a minnie ball went whistling over their heads, and never before was the sound of a bullet so sweet to the ear. It was a voice from their friends, and whispered of deliverance. Five minutes later and the Highlanders were seen storming through one of the principal streets; and although they dropped rapidly, (13)