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I remained at Brescia only until my new uniform was made, and then joined my regiment at Cremona. I arrived there late in the evening; but anxious to make acquaintance with my comrades, and not without a secret wish to display my new uniform, I followed them to the opera, where as usual a large box was retained for our use. This was not counted unto me for weakness as it would have been in England. I hardly know how to define the difference, but in Austria, though the extreme of etiquette is observed, there is an utter absence of pretension or surface manner. There is a kindliness almost like that of home, and a simple directness in all they do or say, which I have rarely seen, except in the very best and most cultivated English men and women. Slow they may be, disastrously slow as late events have proved them, but honourable, truthful, and highcouraged and sweet-tempered to the last. I hope I may be pardoned this digression; but when I compare the dignified and grieving yet honest telegrams of Franz Joseph, in the Italian war, and the sturdy outspoken despair of General Benedek after Sadowa, with the alternate boastfulness and rancorous bitterness of the Italians, I cannot help feeling that the first are cast nearer to the ideal of a genuine Englishman than the last.
My comrades received me with great kindness, and nothing remarkable occurred except that my military spurs—worn of course for the first time (and enormously long they were)—tripped me up, causing my sword to get between my legs; the consequence of which was that down those high, broad, and steep stairs which led from the box I rolled from the top to the bottom, amidst roars of laughter from my new friends, and making a clatter which, great as it was, was nothing to that which I heard in my own ears when I managed to get on my legs again.
The difference between a cadet in a cavalry regiment and one in a Jäger regiment is enormous. Mind, I never regret for one moment that I was at first a Jäger, and had to undergo the hard discipline and severe physical exercise inseparable to the position. I am quite sure it made a better man of me; and to be able to walk between thirty and forty miles a day, in full or rather heavy marching order, before a man has reached his twentieth year, is no bad preparation for a cavalry regiment, because that kind of work strengthens the muscles of the leg and thigh amazingly. But the difference between my former duties and those which now fell to my lot was exceedingly agreeable to me. There was, to begin with, orly one cadet besides myself, and I had a room assigned to me exclusively for my own use. I was thrown entirely into the society of the commissioned officers, and was allowed to remain out of barracks after the call for retreat at 9 P.M. There was a servant whose duty it was to clean my horse, clothes, and accoutrements. I had of course, being only a cadet-sergeant, to take my turn for inspection : but I had no longer to mount guard, as the cavalry furnish no sentries beyond what are required for their own barracks and stables. In fact I was in all essential respects treated like a commissioned officer, and my Colonel promised me that, as soon as I had mastered the Hungarian language, I should receive my
commission. Naturally, I set myself to work in carnest to accomplish it. Yet, while in the Hussars, I tried a bit of more severe punishment than bad yet fallen to my lot; but it was voluntary, or at most was accepted under the influence of moral pressure. It happened in this wise. A man was brought up to receive twenty-five cuts with a stick for stabbing and otherwise ill-treating his horse, and it was my duty to conduct him from the guard-room to the ground, see the sentence inflicted, and escort him back to prison. After it was over, I stood talking with some of the non-commissioned officers about it, and holding one of the sticks which had been used in my hand, boy-like, I expressed a wish to know how hard I could hit with it. The senior sergeant of my troop said, “ Well, cadet, if you will stand a quart of wine you may give me half a score of cuts with your whole strength.” I agreed to the proposal, and without another word he lay down, and took the ten blows which I administered without a sound, a word, or a movement. When it was over he of course got his wine, and then tried to persuade me to try "just one stroke," saying that I could not be a thorough hussar unless I knew what it was like. An officer entered while we were discussing the matter. I reported of course, according to custom, and he then inquired what we were talking about. The senior sergeant laughed and replied, “I have been telling our Engländer that he is no hussar until he has tried Stockstreich, but he does not seem to like the idea." The officer said So, and stroked his moustaches, and in going away added, “Sie haben kein Courage-(You are Fanting in courage.)" At these words I saw several of the men smile. Now I expected to become an officer, and knew very well I need never hope to do anything with my men if I allowed them to suppose I was deficient in pluck ; so I said that at any rate I would see what it was like, and lying down called out to the sergeant to give me a cut and a good one. It may be that his arm was stronger than mine, or that my skin was more tender than his, but it was an awful blow, and I do not know which touched the ground first, my feet or the stick, for I was on my legs in a second, one hand on the part struck, and the other on my mouth. I could hardly breathe, and knew not whether to laugh or groan. However, I decided to grin and bear it. Fortunately, an immediate retreat to my room was necessary, for my thick trousers were cut across as though by a knife, and for many days I found the saddle exceedingly painful, notwithstanding the sheepskin and extra padding with which it was furnished.
On joining, my principal business was in the riding-schools, but I delighted in it. The sergeant-major of the squadron gave me separate lessons in the first instance; and I likewise rode in each of the classes with the men, so that often before 10 A.M. I had been on eight or ten different horses, and was sometimes nine hours in the saddle in one day. Four cavalry regiments, three Hussar and one Dragoon, were mustered that year for practice on the plains of Poudenone in Venetia. We turned out at 6 1.2., and it was a pretty sight when the four detachments issued forth from their several quarters to the rendezvous. When we were all drawn in line or in column, there were at least 6,500 men on the ground, exclusive of the horse artillery and rocket batteries.
In three weeks I received my commission as lieutenant of the second class. My captain was likewise promoted ; and when he gave me, according to custom, my sword and officer's sword-knot, his regi. mental horse was also transferred to my keeping. This was a kind of memorial of my commanding officer, which it gave me much pleasure to receive, for Counts, though young, was an admirable soldier and horseman. He was of one of the first Hungarian families, and very popular with us all, and his kindness to a youngster like myself I shall always remember with gratitude. With some friendly assistance from my comrades I was able that evening to appear at the café dressed as they were. During our stay there the young Emperor Franz Joseph came to inspect us, and we had a good deal of parade duty and much rejoicing. Among the guests invited was the Duke of Parma, who appeared in the uniform of juniorcolonel of the Hussars. One morning being near the Imperial quarters at break of day, I heard several bugle-calls for which I could not account, and shortly afterwards saw the Emperor and the Grand Duke riding about together; the latter had a bugle under his arm, and was giving his Majesty all the new calls which were to be adopted in the army. The Duke frequently joined us at the café and took part in a game at cards. He was, however, often very short of cash, though he was constantly accompanied by his minister and purse-bearer, Baron Ward, the Yorkshire stable-boy. I have often heard him wish that he had been born a poor cavalry captain instead of a Grand Duke. Had it been so, he would probably have had a longer and happier life, and he had certainly all the qualities which constitute a man a good comrade. I have said that the Hussars are composed of Hungarians; the word itself signifies the twentieth man, for in former times one man in twenty was taken for the cavalry, and the Hussar dress is, in fact, the national costume of the Hungarians. We wore trousers, tight-fitting Hessian boots, edged round the top with gold chain lace and gold rosette, a short tunic called Attila with five rows of lace across the chest: the olives or buttons were of silver, and the sling-jacket, lined with scarlet cashmere and edged with fur, served for an overcoat. The pouch-belt was of broad gold lace, the cartouch-box of silver embossed with the doubleheaded eagle; the girdle of gold lace is four fingers broad, and the shako is of white cloth with a black and yellow feather and gold chain and cord attached to it, while the sabretache is of red cloth embroidered with gold. The undress was the tunis, grey trousers, and black forage-cap edged with gold cord, and finished with a gold rosette worked with the initials of the Emperor. I describe all this for two reasons: first, all the extra finery of the Hussar is for a purpose, and every article has its use. For instance, the sabretache is a pocket, as the Hungarian is supposed to have no storage-room in his tight-fitting dress; the chains on the shako are for extra curb-chains; the cord is made strong enough to be useful for many ptir. poses; and the sling.jacket, called in Hungarian churepe, is the winter
coat, and for the privates is lined with sheepskin. Secondly, the whole espense of my uniform, full and undress, trappings and saddlery, did not exceed 1081., though that sum would not procure a plain infantry outfit in England, much less the uniform of a Dragoon or Hussar, as I know to my cost. And this is because, though it is understood that Austrian officers must be gentlemen, it is not assumed that they are also rich men. A supply of every article which they can require is kept at the regimental staff, furnished at cost price, and paid for either then or by instalments, accord·ing to the convenience of the officer. The uniform is made by the regimental tailor at a most reasonable charge, and for perfection of fit and good workmanship I never met with anything to beat our soldier-tailors. By constantly working for military men, and for them only, they turn their whole attention to that branch of their craft, and have a military cut which, for style and ease, is the best I ever saw. If I had my own way, no military tailor should ever touch a civilian; it only spoils his style and demoralizes his ideas.
Again, my pay as a lieutenant of the second class was thirty-two florins (about 31. 4s.) per month, without any deductions for income tax. I had forage for three horses, quarters, consisting of three rooms for myself and one for my servant (the latter also given to me), together with a soldier out of my own troop to be my orderly and take care of my horses. There is no general mess, but each officer caters for himself as he thinks best: in some cases three or four club together, and have a mess of their own; others dine at the hotels when they can afford it. I joined two other men, and as we had good rooms, and our servants were not contemptible cooks, while provisions were cheap and plentiful, we found that we had every day an excellent dinner of three courses for about 11. each a month. We breakfasted at the cafés for sixpence, or even fourpence, and supped there likewise. The pay may seem small, but the privileges and conveniences accorded to the Austrian officer are very great. He is treated with the utmost consideration, and everything is done by the State so that he shall not be forced into expenses above his means. A good box at the theatre was always ours at half-price; the band and mess subscriptions, which swallow up the slender pay of an English ensign, were unknown among us; many of us lived comfortably entirely on our pay, and found we had a surplus for cigars and the opera. A poor gentleman is much better off, and stands in a more satisfactory position in the Austrian service than in the English army. The regimental bands played not only for the amusement of our own men, but for the public generally, and were of course paid by Government.
As a rule, the Austrian bands are the most magnificent in the world : they greatly excel both the Prussian and French ; in some regiments they number as many as ninety performers, and comprise a good average of really skilled and admirable musicians. I am aware that the question of the reorganization of some portions of the system by which our own army is recruited and managed, is one much discussed in England at the present moment. I should be glad to think that such reforms, if they are ever carried out, will affect advantageously not only the private but the officer. Much, very much, remains to be done in that direction. Omitting the subject of the regimental band—though I think the money to support it would never be grudged by the English tax-payer if it were distinctly understood that it was no longer the property of the officers, but was to play at proper times, and in public places, for the encouragement of the men and the pleasure and amusement of the people in whatever town the regiment happened to be quartered—there are still the mess and uniform grievances to be adjusted. Look at them from what point of view you will, extravagance is forced upon the needy gentleman; and whether he is rich, or the reverse, extortion is practised with regard to these two matters. If the sale of commissions and promotion by purchase are ever abolished, and a severe course of professional study is made compulsory, our officers will enter the army 10 longer as an agreeable amusement for a few years, but will regard it as their career for life. They will also probably be drawn from a poorer bat more ambitious and intelligent class of men. It will therefore be very essential so to reduce the cost, that a man can live on his pay as a gentleman should do; and I have shown how inexpensively, and yet how efficiently, the thing is worked in the Austrian service. The original object of a regimental mess was to reduce the outlay for each man individuals, and to give him a good dinner for less money than he could get elsewhere. That the reverse is the case, is in English regiments a notorious fact. Again, if the uniform and trappings required by the officer were furnished to him by Government at cost price from a regimental store, and made by the regimental tailor, it would surely be a wise reform ; and since it would cost no human being a farthing, but would simply put a stop to a good deal of jobbing and black-mail, it should not be difficult to carry out. It would protect both the pockets and the morals of our subalterns; for the first-class tailors who call themselves “ military" make enormous profits on every single article which they supply.
The time came for our division to go into winter-quarters, and we repaired to Crema-a rather dull little town I had thought it while stationed there with the Jägers. The school for “rough-riders was held there, in which I was to learn my duties for the next four months. On our march we stayed a couple of days at Verona, and I along with the other officers of the division had the honour of receiving an invitation to dine with FieldMarshal Radetzky. Our “old father" conversed with us all separately, though we were a very numerous company, and he was good enough to call me to him, detaining me by his side for a considerable time, and treating me with marked kindness. I was, of course, well aware that I owed this favour to the fact that he had recognized me as one of the old
Jägers, to which branch of the service he was known to be extremely. partial; indeed he told me so, and I was much gratified by the compliment so conveyed to my old corps. Radetzky's son was also present at the