FROM an early period of our connexion with the East Indies, we have sustained periodical disasters in those countries. The first of these, popularly called 'the Amboyna massacre,' was, comparatively speaking, upon so small a scale, that we can hardly conceive how it should have excited so great a commotion in this country as it did. In the year 1623, the Dutch, who were the most vigorous of our early rivals in the East, seized upon one Captain Towerson, and nine other Englishmen, and, after a trial by torture, hanged them. So greatly were the public enraged, that the Dutch merchants resident in London had to appeal to the Privy Council for protection; and a picture, commemorating the horrors of the scene, was exposed publicly by the East India Company. More than a century later, the city of Madras was wrested from us by the French, a treaty which provided for its restoration violated, the Governor and other authorities carried to Pondicherry, and marched bareheaded through the French capital of the East. Just a hundred and one years ago was perpetrated that outrage which, above all others, has made a deep impression upon the popular memory of England. One hundred and forty-six Englishmen were thrust, by a revengeful Nabob, into a dungeon eighteen feet square, at Calcutta, and the next morning only twenty-three remained alive.
These last two events together exercised an influence on our history in the East which can never be computed. Among those enraged by the capture and disgrace of Madras was a young clerk, Robert Clive, who in his fury turned soldier; and gained so much fame that, when the Black Hole tragedy occurred, he was appointed avenger; in executing which office he made himself the founder of a great empire. Several years later, Hyder Ali suddenly appeared at the gates of Madras at the head of an army, and dictated terms of peace; and shortly after occurred the entire destruction of a detachment of our army under Colonel Baillie, by Tipu Sahib, Hyder's son. In 1806, the Sepoys in the Fort of Vellore, taking advantage of the ceremonies connected with the marriage of a Princess,— one of the daughters of Tipu, whose family were then imprisoned in the Port,—rose in the night, and poured a murderous fire through the windows into the quarters of our European troops, of whom two Colonels, thirteen other officers, and eighty-two men fell, beside ninety-one wounded. In 1824, a regiment at Barrackpore, being ordered to Chittagong, turned the Major General off parade, and rushed to arms. Two European regiments were on the spot; some guns opened upon them at once, and seventy fell. About the year 1834, a plot was discovered in Bangalore for the murder of the whole of the European officers and their families: the leading conspirators were blown from the cannon's mouth. In 1842 occurred the greatest disaster of all,—a sudden insurrection in the recently captured capital of Affghanistan. The British Envoy was treacherously murdered, thirteen thousand troops destroyed, and the small remnant of the British force driven beyond the mountains.
Important as each of these occurrences was in its time, and serious as they are when collectively viewed, it must be admitted that, in proportion to the ordinary reverses of warfare, they cannot be considered as forming a dark page in history; especially when we remember that they spread over so great a length of time, and over a series of conquests and occupations seldom equalled.
In the future history of India, the crisis through which it is now passing will undoubtedly occupy a much more prominent place than any of the preceding; not because the actual loss of life has hitherto been as great as in the Affghan war, or the military reverses in the field borne any comparison with what was sustained at the hands of Hyder and others,—but because that which had always been looked to as the greatest calamity that could occur has come to pass, and the material foundation, on which our power in India seemed to rest, has been blown from under it. Besides, this outburst has been laid before the world with more details of personal suffering and domestic calamity than even wars on a grand scale usually expose to view.
Before proceeding to consider at length the mutiny, its sources, and its consequences, we will ask our readers to follow us in a cursory survey of the great country which it disturbs. We stipulate that a map be laid down before the eye. Take your stand at the southern extremity, on Cape Comorin, and look northward. You are now only eight degrees from the equator. On your right hand lies the district of Tinnivelly, inhabited by a Tamul-speaking population, British subjects, among whom exists a larger number of Protestant Christians than in any other province of India. On your left is the little state of Travancore, with a population of a million, under a native Prince, among whose subjects also are a large number of Christians, many thousands of them Protestants, many others Syrians, the language being Malayahim. Proceeding northward, you pass by the ancient and renowned city of Trichinopoly, one of the hottest, but not unhealthiest, in the world, and presently arrive at the Neilgherry Hills, rising to a height of nearly nine thousand feet, covered at the top with plants of the temperate zone, and inhabited by a large English community. This noble chain stands across a considerable breadth of the peninsula, from west to east, and then stretches two immense and widely diverging arms away towards the north: the western arm, running for hundreds of miles within a comparatively short distance of the Indian Ocean, is called the Western Ghauts; the eastern, keeping not so close to the Bay of Bengal, is called the Eastern Ghauts, which are on an average only half the height of the Western. Enclosed between these two great mountain chains lies an elevated region of table-land, some eight hundred miles long, varying from five to one hundred in breadth, with a mild climate, undulating surface, fertile soil, and vigorous population, who produce silk, sugar, coffee, and cotton, besides all the common crops of the country. On reaching this upland region, you find the Canarese language, and are in the territory of Mysore; whence the armies of Hyder and Tipu so long menaced our rising power. The city of Seringapatam is decaying on the banks of the Cauvery, wisely left to itself, instead of having its traditional importance maintained, like Delhi. This country is nominally the possession of a native Rajah, but really administered by our own Government, and contains a population of at least three and a half millions. Beyond this, still upon the table-lands, lie immense tracts of British territory taken from the Mahrattas; then follow the dominions of the Nizam of Hydrabad, with ten millions of population, whose language is Tloogoo: they are frightfully misgoverned by their Mohammedan master; but we are pledged to keep him on the throne, and do. West of his territories lie those of Sattara, and east of them Nagpore, both Mahratta states, lately absorbed into our own, through our refusal to allow the adoption of heirs by the Kings. Along the table-lands the whole of the waters flow from west to east, forming innumerable streams, and some grand rivers, such as the Cauvery, the Krishna, and the Godavery. These, on passing from the table-land, rush down the Ghauts, and water the strip of territory lying between them and the sea, called the Payeen Ghaut, or Mountain Foot. This includes Tanjore, which, with its Rajah receiving £118,000 a year from our Government, lies by the mouths of the Cauvery. North of this comes Pondicherry, still French; then the Carnatic, with its capital, Madras, the head of an army of seventy thousand men; then the Northern Circars, a hot and rich region, through which the Krishna and Godavery, coming down from the Hydrabad and Nagpore territories, reach the sea. Beyond, Orissa, where stands Juggernaut, leads to Bengal.
At the foot of the Eastern Ghauts runs another strip of territory, but not nearly so wide; for there the mountains, like the chain of Lebanon on the Phoenician coast, generally come close to the sea, sometimes right into it. On this tract lies the province of Canara, the Portuguese possession of Goa, and Bombay. This division of the peninsula into two distinct kinds of territory, running along side by side, lowland and upland, forming a country on two levels, the one from a thousand to three thousand feet above the other, greatly enriches the otherwise profuse variety of natural products, and delightfully varies the climate. In the Mountain Foot country the sheep have hides like a calf, with no sign of wool; within a morning's walk, above the Ghauts, they have fleeces. You sleep to-night where nothing can be grown but what is tropical; you breakfast after a morning's ride where Englishmen can rear strawberries, apples, and potatoes.
At the northern limit of the table-land, you are in the Bombay Presidency, in the midst of the ancient Mahratta territory, and of the Mahratta language; and now, passing from the great plateau, on which you have been for seven or eight hundred miles, you come upon a central region of mountains, the rivers of which run in the opposite direction from those of the plateau, making, not for the Bay of Bengal, but for the Indian Ocean. In this district lie many of the native states, of which a considerable number still retain their identity, their Rajahs supporting armies of their own, and administering their governments, but acknowledging the supreme authority of the British, and unable to declare war or maintain diplomatic relations with their neighbouring states. Of these the most powerful is Sindia, King of Gwalior, and of three and a half millions; whose contingent, eight thousand four hundred strong, has joined the mutineers, though he is himself reputed loyal, and promptly sent aid to Delhi. The next in point of consideration is Holkar, King of Indore, with perhaps a million subjects. He, too, is loyal; but his troops have played the traitor. He maintains a contingent of fourteen hundred men. A contingent means a number of troops whom a native Rajah is, by treaty, bound to maintain for the service of the supreme Government whenever called for, in return for an engagement on its part to protect his territories from all invaders. These states just named are Mahratta; and west of them lie those of the Rajpoots, a nobler race, not fiercer, but prouder, and on the whole the finest of the Hindu types. Round the chief states of these two divisions are dozens of little ones, as numerous as in Germany, and as insignificant.
Pursuing our northward course, as we emerge from the central mountains, and arrive within about six hundred miles of the Himalayas, all the streams begin to follow the direction of the Ganges, and eventually join that great river. The system of drainage of which it is the trunk, extends over the greatest of all the natural divisions of India, covering a length of at least twelve hundred miles, by a breadth of six hundred, called the Plain of the Ganges, and including Bengal, Behar, Orissa, Oude, Delhi, and minor countries; with a population greater than that of France, Austria, and Prussia united, speaking several distinct languages, the chief of which are the Bengalee in the east, and the Hindui in the west. Bengal Proper is as large as France, and as populous; flat, watery, steaming with heat; inexhaustibly rich; and peopled by a cowardly, cringing race, who speak the Bengalee, and never attempt soldiering. Behar, further up the plain, lies on higher ground, with a finer population; and here you leave the tropics, entering on the temperate zone. Next comes Allahabad, a district, the capital of which lies on a most sacred site, the junction of the two great rivers, the Jumna and the Ganges. Before you reach the junction is the holiest of all Hindu sacred places, Benares, to reach which a pilgrimage from any distance is cheerfully undertaken. This is the lowest point at which a massacre has occurred, and is about three hundred and seventy miles from Calcutta. O had even that space been pierced by a railway!
Now we come into the thick of the disturbed districts. At the junction, about seventy miles further on, lies the city of Allahabad, where the treacherous 6th caressed their officers in the forenoon, and slaughtered them at dinner time. Following the Ganges, to the right you come upon Oude, the most famous land of India in their old poems, one of its richest now; the chief source whence our Sepoys for the Bengal army were recruited, our latest annexation, and the bitter fountain of our present troubles. On its frontier, watered by the Ganges, lies Cawnpore, where the heroic Sir Hugh Wheeler fell; the victim of Nena Sahib and Leadenhall Street, which would not forward railways, of which one hundred miles more would have brought Neill and Havelock in time, on the jackals that tore up our noble countrymen. A little to the right lies the capital, Lucknow, a centre of indescribable depravity, where Sir Henry Lawrence first taught the feeble folk at Calcutta how to deal with the mutiny; where he maintained the glory of English valour; and where he, the greatest man in India, worth ten thousand men, fell, sacrificed for want of roads to reach and support him. Turning from Oude to the left, you are in the Doab, that is, the Delta formed by the two rivers Jumna and Ganges, where Havelock has burned Bithoor, the den of Nena Sahib. Proceeding upwards, you come upon Agra, the seat of Government for the North West Provinces, before which five hundred English troops attacked ten thousand well armed and disciplined mutineers. Ninety miles further to the north-west lies Delhi, where the splendours of the Mogul formerly dazzled eyes, accustomed only to the paler pomp of Europe; where now a new Emperor is in deadly struggle with the power which spared and protected his fathers, and liberally pensioned him.
Above the district of Delhi lies Sirhind, or Head-of-India, in which the waters begin to turn, leaving the Plain of the Ganges, on which lie all the great countries we have just traversed, and running for the Indus. The system of drainage whereof that river is the trunk, forms the last of the great natural divisions of India, the Plain of the Indus. It includes the celebrated countries of the Punjab, Cachmere, and Scinde; and between it and the central region of mountains spreads out a great sandy desert. Any one who will clearly fix in his mind the three leading physical features of India,—in the south the table-land, with its two fringes of mountain-foot territory; on the north and north-east the great Plain of the Ganges, skirting the Himalayas, and bending downward to the Bay of Bengal; on the west the Plain of the Indus, with its border of sandy desert,—will easily carry in his memory the outline of the country, and can insert the central mountain tract without trouble.
From the flats of Bengal, a constant progress of vigour in the population attends your advance, west and north. In Oude and its surrounding countries you are among a soldierly race, who do not, as the Hindus of the seaboard, live alone on rice, but eat a great deal of wheat. Here also is the holy Land of the Brahmin, where that caste forms not a small class of the Hindu community, as elsewhere, but an immense proportion of it. According to Lord Metcalfe, all these tribes 'detest' Bengal, and have horrid ideas of all to the east of it. Yet here almost exclusively our Bengal authorities sought for Sepoys. Beyond this, through Delhi and Sirhind, you advance amid a progressively improving climate and race, till you reach the Punjab, and thence to Cachmere, where you are in the latitude not of the Indian Ocean, but of the Mediterranean. Since Oude was annexed, it may be said that no native states remain, either in the Plain of the Indus or that of the Ganges, except on the southern borders of the latter, where lie Gwalior and Bundlecund, &c. The native Rajahs still reigning, great and little, number in all two hundred; and their armies are four hundred thousand men. Among those who are deposed and pensioned, and who have no armies, the King of Delhi, at present set up against us, had, from the East India Company, £150,000 a year; the Nawab of Calcutta, £160,000; of Madras, £116,000; the families of Hyder and Tipu, £63,000; the Peishwa, or hereditary head of the Mahrattas, £80,000; and smaller Princes proportionate sums, amounting in all to about £1,500,000 a year.
As to the population inhabiting Hindustan, it is only now that the English mind is beginning to open to any conception of its magnitude. The ease with which we have attained supreme dominion in India, and the smallness of the armies which sufficed for its military occupation, together with the slowness of any people to conceive of masses of mankind greater than those with which they are familiar, have combined to maintain a popular impression respecting India far below the truth. It is only of recent years that our best writers and statesmen have spoken of it as containing anything like the amount of population now ascertained to exist; but by degrees the public estimate has been rising, and also that of careful and inquiring writers. At the time that the first number of this journal appeared, (four years ago,) the public returns had brought up the population to a hundred and fifty millions; and we then stated our belief that it was very little short of two hundred millions. The papers lately laid before Parliament make it a hundred and eighty millions; and we have no doubt that the further researches of a few years will as easily discover the additional twenty, as those of a few past ones have discovered the thirty now added. It is easy to write of a population of two hundred millions, but extremely difficult to bring any mind to support the weight of the fact that, when we speak of India, we are speaking of one in every six human beings on the face of the earth. Yet unless this be kept in sight, confusion of ideas is constantly arising from the notion that all Hindus are one people, with one set of characteristics; whereas they are one to us only in the same way as all Europeans are one to them. The Mahratta and the Bengalee are more distinguished, by opposite traits of character, and by language, than the Englishman and the Frenchman. The Rohila and the Tamulian are as different from each other as Swede and Neapolitan. One man in India lives as far north as our European fellow-subjects at Malta, and another as far south as Sierra Leone; one is within eight degrees of the equator, another seven hundred miles inside the temperate zone. Nova Scotia is not further west of Ireland than is Scinde of Assam: only the way between the latter two lies not over a waste of water, but through a world of population.
It may be taken as a general rule, that on the seaboard the population answer to the prevalent idea in this country, of Hindoo feebleness and effeminacy, these characteristics reaching their highest degree in damp, hot, featureless Bengal. It is from the coast population that nearly all the specimens of Hindus who appear in England, sweeping crossings, or speckling the neighbourhood of our docks, are drawn; but these differ widely from the natives of the higher lands, whether of the southern plateau, the central mountains, or the North West Provinces. The Mahrattas of the table-land are a small, ungainly, but vigorous and enterprising race, who, before they were crushed by our arms, swept the country terribly, sparing no human interest, and rejoicing chiefly in plunder. In the central district and the hills are tribes called Bheels, Ghonds, and others, who are small, ill-favoured, and savage. The Rajpoots, who inhabit the sandy desert and tracts lying immediately to the east of it, are a tall, grave, soldierly, and romantic people, capable of all the crimes and virtues of semi-barbarous highland clans, tracing the hue of their Chiefs to the sun and moon, maintaining much feudal and heraldic state, and murdering their female children, when not afraid of our authorities. The tract called the Doab, that is, the district between the Jumna and the Gauges, is inhabited chiefly by the Jats, another warlike race; and to the west of this lie the Sikhs, who are men of noble physical proportions and great military capabilities.
In the romantic vale of Cachmere, the people approach again more to the feeble type of the Bengalee than the bolder races on which they border. Throughout every region of India, the Mohammedans are to be found as a distinct people, everywhere speaking the Hindustani, which is therefore the only language useful in all parts of the country. Not that every one understands it, but that in every important village some Mohammedans will be found whose domestic tongue it is. The proportion they bear to the whole population is variously estimated at from one in seven to one in fifteen, and sixty millions, or nearly twice the population of France, is not an unusual guess—for, after all, it is but a guess—as to the total number of Mohammedans in India. While they retained supremacy in the country, the Court language was Persian, which continued to be used by our authorities until the day of Lord William Bentinck, who had the sense to replace it by English. It was as much a foreign language as our own, the language of fiercer conquerors, and more severe masters; therefore it was odious to the Hindu, and the use of it a homage to the power of the Mohammedans.
The two greatest Mohammedan states remaining in India are Oude, which has scarcely yet disappeared, and Hydrabad, which holds together by British support alone.
It may be taken for granted that all the Mohammedans in India are incurably disaffected to the British Government. They look upon the country as the spoil of their fathers' valour, upon themselves as wronged by a hateful infidel force; and when they are not plotting towards our overthrow, it is simply because no feasible movement can then be undertaken. Their habitual state of feeling is, that they will
'Spoil the spoiler as they may,
And from the robber rend the prey.'
The first striking division, then, of the native population is one that pervades the whole country,—a division by religion into Hindu and Mussulman; or, to be more accurate, into Hindu, Mussulman, and Sikh; for the last deny and accept respectively many of the principles of both the other religions, and form a sect which, on the whole, is not only different from both, but intolerant of them. In the days of Runjeet Singh, neither Islam nor Hinduism was free of the Punjab.
After the division by religions, we come upon another, equally prominent in late occurrences,—the division by caste. The whole of the people of India are divided into High-caste, Low-caste, and Out- caste. It is important to bear the three-fold character of this division in mind; for, in nearly all popular speaking and writing about India, the last division is totally forgotten, or confounded with the second; but it is highly desirable to keep in view that the caste system excludes an immense proportion of the whole people of India from every social privilege. The High-caste are Brahmins, the priestly caste, any one of whom would be dishonoured for life by dining with our gracious Queen; and the Rajpoots, who claim to be of the ancient King and soldier caste, to any private in whose ranks the same distinction would be not less ruinous. Below these two castes, the great body of the Hindu population are Low-caste, of the tribe that is called Sudra, excluded from any social admixture with either of the two High-castes, but themselves maintaining an equal exclusiveness with regard to the Out-castes, and to other divisions of caste people. Into how many castes the Sudras are divided, no one can say; for every craft is a distinct caste, from the washerman to the jeweller. None of these can eat, reside, or intermarry with the other. In the Low-castes whole nations are included, as for instance the Mahrattas; and, indeed, most of the remaining Hindu Princes, if not all, are of this caste.
At a moment when the question of caste is threatening the whole fabric of our Indian Empire, it is desirable that every man in England should have a clear idea of what it really is; and we have been much surprised, that in the great amount of writing that has taken place, no one seems to have raised the simple question, 'WHAT IS CASTE?' It is taught in the sacred books of the Hindus that caste is a distinction grounded upon the creation of different orders of men, imbued with different proportions of goodness and badness, who have transmitted their original nature to the present generations. The following account gives us briefly the substance of their doctrines on this point:—
"Formerly," as the sage Parasara teaches, "when the truth-meditating Brumha was desirous of creating the world, there sprang from his mouth beings especially endowed with the quality of goodness; others sprang from his breast pervaded by the quality of foulness; others from his thighs, in whom foulness and darkness prevailed; and others from his feet, in whom the quality of darkness predominated. These were in succession beings of the several castes, Bramhans, Kshetriyas, Vaisyas, and Shudras, produced from the mouth, the breast, the thighs, and the feet of Brumha." The popular account describes the Kshetriya as born from the creator's arm. These castes have thus distinct origins, and natures equally distinct. They repel the doctrine, that "God made of one blood all men to dwell upon the face of the earth;" and, in opposition to it, maintain that the different castes of men have natures as dissimilar as the different castes of grain, fruit, or animals. Caste is their word for species. Wheat, rice and Indian corn are different castes of grain; mangoes, bananas, amid tamarinds, different castes of fruit ; tigers, camels, and elephants, different castes of animals; and Bramhans, Kshetriyas, Vaisyas, and Shudras, different castes of men. "You may say, if you please," they will observe, "that Bramhans and Shudras are both men. They are both men, if you will, just as a horse and an ass are both animals; but as you never can make an ass of a horse, nor a horse of an ass, so you can never make a Bramhan of a Shudra, nor a Shudra of a Bramhan." The idea that the Out-castes are sprung from the same stock as the rest of mankind is scouted with disgust.
Into these four divisions, then, is society parted ; each being a separate commonwealth, with its own heads, its own prejudices, its own pursuits, and its own laws. The various castes may not eat together, may not intermarry, may not reside in the same house, and may not assume each other's professions. Thus they are really wider apart than if separated by national distinctions, or even than races alien in blood and complexion. Again, the calling is transmitted from father to son, and it passes on through indefinite generations. The design of this was doubtless to secure perfection in the various departments of trade. Whether it has done this or not, it has certainly established professional genealogies. " Old houses" and "ancient families" are common things in India. Every tailor may confidently reckon that his sires clipped arid fitted since before the days of the Caesars, and every barber can boast an ancestry of barbers who shaved in remote antiquity: the weaver, too, the joiner, the potter, the washerman and the blacksmith, may each pride himself that the line of his fathers stretches up through long centuries.'—Arthur's Mission to the Mysore, p. 381, &c.
It might be expected that the Brahmins, who, according to this account of creation, are beings 'especially endowed with the quality of goodness,' would take high rank. Accordingly, we find the great Hindu authority, Menu, speaking thus:—
'Whatever exists in the universe is all, in effect, though not in form, the wealth of the Bramhan, since the Bramhan is entitled to all by his primogeniture and eminence of birth. The Bramhan eats but his own food, wears but his own apparel, and bestows but his own alms. Through the benevolence of the Bramhan, indeed, other mortals enjoy life.'
So entirely different is the distinction created by caste from any distinction of rank as existing in other nations, that a man of lower caste cannot even be admitted to the dignity of domestic service in the house of his higher caste neighbour. Not one Brahmin or Rajpoot soldier in the whole of the Bengal army could have allowed his English General to cook a dish of curry for him, or to offer him a cup of tea, without thereby polluting himself irrecoverably. All his food must be prepared by the hands of persons of his own caste. This absurd institution has been adopted by the Mussulmans, although contrary to their own religion; so that, instead of discountenancing the Hindu nonsense, they set up a rival caste, and affect to be as strict and punctilious as their idolatrous neighbours. Hence arises the enormity of the blunder with regard to the greased cartridges, which, by some almost incredible inattention to the habits of the people, was an affront exactly prepared to frighten and wound both Hindu and Mussulman alike. A Brahmin will shriek with terror if a drop of pure water from a glass in the hand of a European fall upon him by accident; and how any Government, having even heard of India, not to say knowing it, could allow the issue of the greased cartridges to such men, is one of those marvels of human folly, in presence of which it is impossible to be angry, it looks so like judicial blindness. The best illustration we have seen, to convey to the minds of those who are not practically acquainted with the horror which the caste feeling inspires against any article of food supposed to be impure, is given by a writer who says, that the effect of asking Brahmins and Rajpoots to bite the cartridges, greased with fat either of swine or cows, or perhaps of both, was much the same as would be that of asking Roman Catholic soldiers to offer some public insult to the consecrated wafer.
The Hindu can conceive of no calamity comparable to the loss of caste; and hence, to a great extent, arises what is very often alleged as their reproach,—their want of patriotism. For, in fact, all the feelings of attachment to a particular form of Government, or dynasty, or nationality, or freedom, are in the Hindu concentrated upon that which is to him the embodiment of all his family traditions and privileges, of his personal station, and religious hopes,—his caste. Governments may change, and nationalities be overthrown, but his position remains little altered: infringe, however, the regulations of his caste, and at once he is dislocated from society, and hopeless for the life to come. Hence, while he will look upon changes in the nation with comparative indifference, he will resent any affront to the caste with ungovernable fury. A change of religion does not necessarily involve a departure from caste; for many of the native Christians have endeavoured to combine caste with Christianity, and in the earlier stages of missionary operations this tendency was so far conceded to, that, in Tanjore, caste ran as high among the Christians as among the heathen, until the abuse brought down its own destruction. Loss of caste is most ordinarily and speedily brought about by eating or tasting anything that has been prepared by unclean hands; and hence among the Out-castes in India are to be ranked, first of all, the native Pariahs; secondly, the Mussulmans, whose affected caste the Brahmin cannot acknowledge; and, thirdly, the Europeans, who are Out-caste by a double title,—first, because they are of an unclean race; secondly, because their food is universally cooked by Pariahs. This last fact alone places the European at an infinite distance from all decency, according to the code of caste; and either he must consent to have all his food cooked in England, and eat it there, or else meet Brahmins on the plain ground that their caste is a local distinction founded on untruth, and pushed to absurdity, which he is prepared to respect, so far as never to offer or invite them to anything offensive, but against which every meal he eats is a practical protest. No barrier has ever been raised between man and man so impassable as caste. The Frank and the western Mohammedan grow friends over a meal; the European and the South Sea Islander warm at table; even the Chinese can entertain strangers; but two men may be neighbours for life, may write in the same office or parade in the same company for twenty years, and never dare to break bread together, thought equals in fortune, employment, and ability. Loss of caste is also caused by the omission of established rites, neglecting to sacrifice to ancestors, or drunkenness. Of the effect of loss of caste, the following correct account is given by the Abbé Dubois:—
'He' (who has lost caste) 'is a man as it were dead to the world. He is no longer in the society of men. By losing his caste, the Hindu is bereft of friends and relations, and often of wife and children, who will rather forsake him than share in his miserable lot. No one dares to eat with him, or even to pour him out a drop of water. If he has marriageable daughters, they are shunned; no other girls can be approached by his sons. Wherever he appears, he is scorned and pointed at as an Out-caste. If he sinks under the grievous curse, his body is suffered to rot on the place where he dies. Even if, in losing his caste, he could descend into an inferior one, the evil would be less; but he has no such resource. A Shudra, little scrupulous as he is about honour or delicacy, would scorn to give his daughter in marriage even to a Bramhan thus degraded. If he cannot re-establish himself in his own caste, he must sink into the infamous tribe of the Pariah, or mix with persons whose caste is equivocal.'
One part of the operation of the caste system which is of the first importance, and which seems to have received no notice whatever in the present agitation, is the formation of a large section of the people universally diffused, who, being Out-castes, are degraded below all social rights. What proportion these may bear to the whole population, we are not prepared to say. The Abbé Dubois, who is generally considered an authority, says that they are one in five. We imagine that this is too high an estimate, and perhaps one in ten would be nearer the truth. But, even in this proportion, the Indian Out- castes would be twenty millions of human beings, or more than the population of all England. Outside the walls of every village in India may be seen a miserable kraal of huts, inhabited by a hopeless race, who are borne down for generation after generation to a condition of the extremest degradation. The following extract will give an idea of the condition of these people:—
'The Out-caste may not live in the common street; and in some parts of the extreme south, he may not even walk the street where the Bramhans reside. He is forbidden the house of all the castes; but in some districts may enter that part where the cattle are lodged, and may even show his head and one foot inside the door of the family apartment. To touch him, to enter his house, to drink water he had drawn, to eat food he had cooked, to use a vessel he had touched, to sit down beside him, to ride in the same vehicle, or even to give him a drink of water, would be unlawful for a man of caste. He would take a proposal for anything of the kind as a mortal affront. The condition of an American or West Indian slave is worse than theirs only in one respect,—compulsory labour. But the slave may tread the same floor as his master, without polluting the whole house; he may enter the room where he sits, touch the dish he uses, sleep under the same roof, and prepare the food he eats. He is not made to feel that his step defiles a room ; that his touch infects the purest wares; and that he carries in his own body, no matter how clean, a cursed incurable filthiness which fills with disgust all who have proper human sentiments. He has at least the privilege of a domestic animal. Above all, he may possibly die free; his children may be intelligent and respectable. But the Out-caste has no hopes; no manumission can change his birth ; he must bear his curse down to the grave ; he must bequeath it to his children, who will bequeath it in turn, and from generation to generation on it must go, nor can any power arrest it, except one, of which he knows not. Nothing can elevate the Out-caste, till the Gospel has taught his neighbours to own his rights. Every Englishman would ten thousand times prefer being a slave, permitted some semblance of intercourse with the rest of mankind, and having a possibility of ransom, with the glorious prospect of leaving his children free, to being an Out-caste, driven to live beyond the village wall, hunted from every door, scorned by the most base, loathed by the most vile, and knowing that this malediction awaits his little ones.
'The living of this hapless race is precarious: sometimes employed as scavengers, sometimes as horse-keepers, porters, or messengers; for the most part labouring in the fields for three- halfpence or twopence a day; often selling themselves for a term to a farmer, or reduced to a kind of slavery as payment of debt, they never venture to hope for aught but poverty and shame. When labour fails, charity lends no substitute; for, thought I find in the sacred books directions for alms to Out-castes, I never heard of such a thing taking place. The Out-caste sees costly entertainments for beggars; but not one of these beggars would admit him to the honour of washing his dish, or dine in a room that his presence stained. Thus they are driven to eat all disgusting things: no sooner does a beast die, be the disease what it may, than a crowd of these hungry beings surround the carrion,—and even for carrion they have generally to pay. Crows, rats, snakes, reptiles, almost everything, is pressed into the service of destitute nature, and drunkenness follows to crown their shame and woe.
'It is said that, on one part of the Malabar coast, a section of Out-castes is so abhorred, that they are not allowed to erect houses, only an open shed supported on four bamboos; and that they may not approach a caste person nearer than a hundred yards, but must give notice of their approach by a loud cry. To prevent the danger of contact, they are forbidden the highway.'—Mission to the Mysore, p. 415, &c.
Few Englishmen have thought, that under our own sceptre some twenty millions of human beings were living in a degradation like this; and it will be well if one of the effects of the attention now excited as to the caste system, be to work into the heart of Englishmen a feeling of the unparalleled oppression which it entails. The benefits already conferred on the unhappy Out-castes by English rule are incalculable. Admitted into European families as domestic servants, they are at once raised into a new position; received by Missionaries into schools, they are proved to have the mental qualities of man. In the early days of our rule in India, they were admitted to our armies, and General Briggs has ably shown that, when that was the case, our native levies were perfectly trustworthy and efficient. An able writer in the Edinburgh Review for January, 1853, when none of the nervous anxiety of the present moment disturbed discussion, as to the best organization of our Sepoy army, said that in the early times the native officers 'not unfrequently filled their ranks with Pariahs and persons of the lowest caste. Nor did the slightest inconvenience arise from this. Off duty, the Brahmin and the Rajpoot could not come into contact with the Sudra, far less touch the Pariah, or eat food which he had dressed; on duty, they rubbed shoulders freely, and were honestly attached to one another.' But then the native officers had real rank, and power over their troops; and the native army was, as General Briggs points out, composed of two classes,—gentlemen, and those of the lowest grades. But, just as the caste prejudice had before our day infected the Mohammedans, in time it infected British officers also. 'The Sepoys,' says General Briggs, 'who fought the battles of Chive and Coote, who contributed to the humiliation of Tipu, and who gained laurels under Sir Arthur Wellesley, were of a mixed class. The infantry was composed of Pariahs, Pullars, and other low cultivators of the Carnatic, of the Northern Circars, and some few Mohammedans. The cavalry were wholly Mohammedans.' But, in the lapse of years, these men were either dismissed, or gradually dropped out of the army, and only men of caste enlisted. The same profound student of India relates how an old Rajpoot, a Subahdar, alluding to the Out-castes, whom England was now treating, not in her own spirit, but in that of the Brahmins, said, 'The day will come when you will confess how much higher qualities they possess as soldiers than the Mohammedans.' That day came long ago to men of insight, such as Sir Charles James Napier; but never came, until their comrades were massacred and their wives dishonoured, to the common run of routine officers; and even at the time when the fearful storm under which we are now shuddering, was gathering over our heads, the Commander-in-Chief of Bombay was silly enough to issue a General Order, enforcing the exclusion from the army hereafter of recruits from the Out-castes, he being resolved, of course, to make his own army as respectable, in point of caste, as that of Bengal. Owing to this miserable un-English policy, while the influence of our rule in the main has been to open up some hopes of amelioration to the down- trodden millions of the Out-castes, we have been gradually made the tools of Brahminical cunning, in excluding them from the honourable employment of soldiers, and so leaving arms in the hands chiefly of the two classes of men who, beyond all others, are our enemies, the Mohammedans and the High-castes, who must be averse to any Government not founded on their respective systems.
In reasoning upon the cause of the present outbreak, it is not uncommon to confound two things which are very distinct: disaffection, which may be chronic, and co-exist with a long course of obedience; and mutiny, which is an inflammatory action, founded upon the other, but itself brought about by some active and irritating cause. It is too generally assumed that for the whole matter some one must be to blame; whereas it may be that the only blame lies in furnishing the irritating cause where a state of disaffection existed. That this latter does constantly exist among the native Princes, the Brahmins, and the Mohammedans, no one can doubt; and in all three classes, universally, or nearly so, though exceptions may be found. Each of these classes believes in its traditional right to dominion, and is therefore disinclined to obey any foreign power. But many of the Brahmins have not yet ceased to know how much the English are preferable to the Mussulmans whom they supplanted; and many of the native Princes are aware that they are more secure under the protection of the British power, than their forefathers were, when trusting only to their own forces. To the Mohammedans, however, although even here there may be exceptions, the English are detestable on the double ground of being Christians and conquerors; through whom they themselves, from being the ruling class, have become at once a minority of the population and a subjugated race. Brahminism inspires a contempt for all who are not included within the sacred limits of caste; and can ill brook the dominion of any power that does not worship the order of the 'gods of the earth,' as the Brahmins delight to be called. Yet it is not, as a system of religion, persecuting and intolerant, and is opposed only to the English Government as it must be to any not organized on its own principles. The Mohammedans, on the other hand, have a more intolerant creed, a keener sense of the degradation of being conquered, and a more energetic character. Both parties are cunning enough to hatch great conspiracies, and neither had courage or military power to present a front to the British Government, unless they could gain the Sepoys; and therefore every hope of a far-sighted conspirator must have turned upon the possibility of uniting the two classes, of which our native troops are composed, in resistance to their European masters. The existence of plots with this object ought not to be taken, in itself, as any proof of misgovernment on the part of the East India Company, or any demonstration that we have oppressed the people. The antipathy of race and religion, with ambition, is sufficient to account for all this. Were a general disaffection manifest among the people, and hatred to our Government shown by the traders and agriculturists of the country, it might be taken as approaching to a proof of wrongs inflicted; although even then the doubt would remain, how far it arose simply from national feeling.
There can be no doubt that the natural disaffection of all the three classes we have just alluded to has been abated under the British Government, more than could easily have been conceived possible; and at the same time it is manifest that those classes of the community—for instance, the traders and the peasantry—who had none of the ambition of governing, and were chiefly influenced by the desire of well-being, have been, on the whole, so far sensible of the benefits of English rule, that national animosity has been conquered by a sense of self-interest; and even in the present time of our peril, many of them have manifested a desire for our success. The domestic servants, also, attached to European families, drawn as they almost universally are from the Out-castes, have in the main acted well, although to them the temptation of plunder must have been inviting in the highest degree. But the feelings of self-interest which our Government has engaged on its behalf, in the case of large numbers of the people, could not be appealed to in Mussulmans and Brahmins, any more than in the native Princes. All these must see, that whatever might be the fate of individuals of their own body, the inevitable tendency of British rule was, to elevate the whole mass of the people to equal chances of employment and consideration with themselves, and to merge all traditional claims to eminence in the vulgar qualifications of energy or merit. Many reason as if great pains ought to have been taken to make these classes feel, that there was nothing in our ascendancy unfriendly to their aspirations. It is very certain that they ought to be treated so as to leave no ground to suspect underhand designs against their caste, or any idea of coercing their consciences, or of offering gratuitous affronts to their scruples. But, on the other hand, it is perfectly useless to attempt to administer government, by the agency of Englishmen and Christians, on principles that will assure Brahmins and Mohammedans that their influence is to be eternal. Therefore, whatever prejudices have been raised by their seeing that their old prophecies, foretelling a system from the west which should supplant theirs, are in course of fulfilment in the rule of the British, must be encountered as the inseparable inconvenience of dealing with a people who have to pass through the stage of elevation from an old and jealous superstition.
We are not, however, to be understood as arguing that no disaffection, resulting from real fault on the part of our own Government, has existed in India. It is not a little significant, that at the very time when the mutineers, unknown to us, were wreaking their vengeance upon our countrymen and countrywomen, the House of Commons was discussing the motion of Mr. Kinnaird, founded on a memorial from the missionary body in Bengal, in which serious grievances suffered by the people were set forth, and much consequent disaffection on their part was affirmed to exist. The House has seldom argued a question affecting India with more intelligence than was displayed in that debate, and we would especially recommend the published speech of Mr. Kinnaird to the consideration of our readers. The mode in which the Bengal Government replied to the representations of the Missionaries was very characteristic. Mr. Halliday, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, insists from his own knowledge that the disaffection spoken of does not exist, and we dare say that he believes he knows as much about the matter as the Missionaries; but for any one who has lived really among the people of India, nothing is more difficult to conceive than how the civil servants of the Company can ever gain much information on the real condition of things. They are surrounded by so much state, exercise so much authority, are beset by so many native officials, who represent all things as they please, and, when they do come into personal contact with the peasantry, shed down upon them such an amount of awe, that they would do very wisely to use the eyes and ears of any European residing in the country, without power and without retinue, knowing the language, and accustomed to hear the people speak their minds. A Missionary, living at a country station, would hear a great deal more of the real feeling of the peasantry in one week, than a dignitary at Calcutta would in a lifetime. Even Mr. Theobald, who, in the pamphlets named at the head of this paper, shows perfect mastery of all points affecting the relations of the British residents and the Government, shows also complete ignorance of the feelings of the people respecting the zemindars, or middlemen; such ignorance as is inevitable in mere residents in English settlements, and, above all, in one of the Presidencies. We feel as strongly as he does the necessity of giving Englishmen an easy and permanent tenure of land in India; and wish him all success in his able endeavours to that end. But it is impossible to put upon paper the intensity of hatred which we have seen invariably manifested by Hindus toward all systems of native middlemen. These wretches extort and torture, browbeat and deceive, under pretext of our authority, and, it must be admitted, under the shield of our power, till the curses of the people fall not only upon them, but equally upon us. We do not sanction the individual acts of wrong, or of torture; but we founded, and pledged ourselves to perpetuate, the system whence these unavoidably spring; and what has been practised on our countrymen and countrywomen helps us to conceive what is, in our name, though without our knowledge, often practised on our native subjects. No promise to an individual can override the general principles of justice; and while every zemindar who will administer on principles consistent with uprightness ought to be sacredly respected, every one who uses British authority to sanction native cruelties or extortions ought to be instantly struck down.
Among the causes most generally assigned for an increase of disaffection of late, one of the most prominent has been Lord Dalhousie's policy of annexation. This acted upon the native Princes by denying their right of adoption where no real heir existed, and on the Mohammedans by sweeping away one of their few remaining great states, Oude. We are inclined to think that in these measures Lord Dalhousie was perfectly justified. We can see no reason upon earth why we are to perpetuate misrule over millions of men, for the sake of gratifying a Hindu Prince, whom we have protected in a shadowy sovereignty, with the feeling that he will have some one to sacrifice to him when he is dead. Yet it is not to be denied that cases of Sattarah and Nagpore have aggrieved the native Princes seriously, and stimulated the conspiracies which they have always been carrying on. Oude was a different and more complex case, and we expect will prove to have been the real cause of the present crisis. Whenever such measures are justified, our Government must be prepared to lay its account with the disaffection which will ensue; for the rule of proceeding cannot be to avoid everything that will annoy native Princes, Brahmins, and Mussulmans, but everything contrary to justice or injurious to the people; and in the long run the disaffection of classes, excited by measures founded on a true English policy, will be far less detrimental to our rule than would be injuries to the population at large by a temporizing and half-Hindu policy. Yet, whenever steps are taken which irritate any dangerous class, the Government are responsible for adopting sufficient measures to forestall evil; and here we think Lord Dalhousie pitifully failed: failed in foresight, insight, and practical safeguards.
Another of the alleged causes of disaffection is one which has effectually played into the hands of the leaders of the conspiracy, after the fall of Oude had set them to work. Rohilcund and Oude have been, too exclusively, the recruiting ground for the Bengal army; and the Government have set on foot scrutinies into land titles there, by which many of the relations of the Sepoys have been disturbed, and thus doubtless a feeling of personal bitterness has been carried into their ranks.
Among the causes of disaffection, we have been amused to find a writer in a northern contemporary gravely alleging the too great rapidity with which Government has proceeded in matters of reform, alleging, of all things, in proof of his point, the railways, and the system of governing new countries by mixed Commissions of military men and civilians. The way in which the writer manages to connect these matters with the mutiny is, that both the one and the other, though good in themselves, as he does allow, have drafted away a great many officers from their regiments, to attend to the duties arising from the construction of railways in one case, and the administration of governments in the other. But more of the dangers of our present position are due to the spirit which could invent such an argument, than to all other causes put together. Four years ago, we said in these pages, that the delay of the Government, in the construction of railways, was as 'politically foolish, as it was unfaithful to the interests of the people;' and had a railway been completed even from Calcutta to Delhi, the saving in simple money within the last three months would have been far more than the cost of its construction. Their slowness in this particular has been a great crime against humanity in general, and especially against the English nation and the Hindu people, between whom they stood, the guardians of the honour of the one, and the interests of the other. As to the absurd apology that the construction of railways has taken away officers from their regiments,—whose fault was that? Plenty of gentlemen were to be found in England to officer both the railways and the regiments, if the Government had called for them. And if adopting a better system for governing new countries has left regiments bare of officers, again we ask, Whose fault was that?
Another cause of disaffection frequently dwelt upon, is the change made by Lord Hardinge with regard to the law of inheritance; for, up to his time, our Government had administered the persecuting law of the Hindus, which deprives any one who forsakes the religion of his forefathers of all hereditary property. At last, however, an English prevailed over an Hindu policy, and it was declared that British subjects should no longer be persecuted for conscience' sake; but every man protected in his right to worship God after his convictions; even though his God was He whom our Queen addresses as OUR FATHER. It may be true that this change of the law irritated the Brahmins; as to the population generally, we do not believe they cared the least about it; and the petitions which were sent forward to England were never heard of by any but a very small section of the people, and were manifestly concocted by English lawyers. But suppose that this change in our proceeding had given serious offence, the question is, Was it right, or was it wrong? In a moral point of view, none will dispute; as a question of duty between man and man, as a question of responsibility to the great Ruler, we are right in refusing to administer, with English hands, the old cruel laws which would bind every man on the fair plains of India to the altars of obscene idols, or in default cast him out homeless.
But, though morally right, many will say, it was politically unwise. Yet we venture to think that only they who look merely at the moment and at the surface will go thus far. One first point in political wisdom is, that the governing class shall maintain self- respect. No momentary quiet they may gain by prostrating themselves before those they rule, can in the issue be of value. Only in so far as they stand high on their own honour, can they have permanent repose; and for any Governors to administer judicial persecution against their own subjects, by embracing their own religion, is a folly in politics, as it is a crime in morals, which we believe was never heard of, until that strangest of all mongrel creatures, the English Hindu, began to mutter and mumble about the respect to be paid to the prejudices of a multitude. If any man dares to propose in the British Senate that the authority of England shall ever again be exerted to persecute a native of any clime under heaven for avowing himself a disciple of Christ, we believe there are men there able to deal with him as to the political fatuity of his course, and others who will show honest English astonishment at his moral degradation. The British power was never created to bind Brahminical chains, and enslave consciences by the million.
Another alleged cause of disaffection is our 'tampering' with the Hindu law of marriage; and, from what has been said by Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Whiteside, and other gentlemen more eloquent than informed, it might be supposed that the English in India had undertaken to compel Hindus to marry widows, or to compel widows themselves again to join in marriage, or had inflicted some other grievous wrong upon human society. Now, what is the extent to which we have actually gone? Simply that of permitting a poor widow to be reckoned in the ordinary ranks of marriageable women, instead of being, as she has been hitherto, under the accursed stroke of Hindu law, a blasted and hated thing. We do not know that we felt any indignation on reading Mr. Disraeli's attacks upon the measure, for any obliquity in that gentleman's moral perception is not wont to ruffle us; but that Mr. Whiteside, a man of feeling, of generosity, and an Irishman, should lend himself on such a question to such leading, did, we confess, excite both our astonishment and shame. Time was when Irish eloquence shed gorgeous light on Indian debates; but never did Edmund Burke kindle his fires to reweld a chain which Christian charity had broken. We expect that Mr. Whiteside's own good feeling will promptly recall him from so false a course, when he better understands the facts.
The following description of the condition of Hindu widows was published years ago, when no such controversy as the present could have been in contemplation:—
'The girl thus pompously married is always of immature age, and, after the ceremony, remains in her father's house for a shorter or longer term, as the case may be. When deemed fit to be united to her husband, she is led to his residence, on which occasion ceremonies are renewed, but on a much smaller scale. Though we should hold the original ceremony only a betrothment, they hold it a marriage. From that moment the man has all the rights of a husband, the girl all the obligations of a wife; and should he die, though she may never have left her father's roof, she is his widow; and his widow all her days she must remain. The tahli is removed from her neck; then. one by one, her articles of jewellery; her dress changed for a widow's robe, and her rich black hair shaved, to be allowed to grow no more. From that day she commences a life of shame. Her lot is not regard as an affliction to which all are liable, and which entitles the sufferer to universal sympathy, but as a retribution for the vices of a former birth. The gods hold her unworthy of the joys and honours of marriage. The husband's relatives do not scruple to charge the loss of their kinsman on her sins. Their religion teaches that the only atonement she can make, the only path whereby she may escape days of infamy and woe, is self-destruction. She ought to burn with the clay of him whom she had never seen but at the wedding, or under whom she had lived in bondage for years. The benign spirit of Christianity has now averted this final stroke; but the life thus spared is a life of sorrow and shame. The world scorns her; and the care of her own family is to keep her steps so watched, her spirit so broken, and her frame so weak, that she may not bring disgrace upon them. Should their endeavours fail, her crime cannot make her condition much more severe. With us, a widow's weeds are the signals of charity, inviting commiseration and respect; in India, they are the brand of justice, inspiring horror. No human being is more to be pitied than young Hindu widow. Then it is to be remembered, that this class is far more numerous in India than amongst us; for, first, every man, without exception, marries and may re-marry as often as he likes; secondly, every bride is a young girl,—a child; thirdly, every female once widowed continues a widow for life. From these three causes, widows in India must be at least twice as numerous as in England; and when it is remembered, that the population of India is seven-fold that of the British Isles, it will be seen what a multitude of breasts are pierced by Hinduism with continual sorrows.'— Mission to the Mysore .
It may be stated, in addition to the above, that if the widow have the honour to be of the Brahmin tribe, she is usually kept on one meal a day, and is the drudge and butt of the family; and being considered the unlucky cause of every disaster, her presence is forbidden at any festivity. Suppose, then, that England had secured some ill-will from the Brahmins, by doing the little that she could do towards the removal of this fearful curse, that is, refusing to administer penalties upon any who shall have the courage to raise themselves against it,—we ask, Is she to grudge the trouble that may arise in consequence? They are poor politicians who look to a measure like this as the root of a deep-seated and active conspiracy; but if it were, if refusing longer to stretch out our hand against the widows were the real cause of all this blood, will England shrink from the act, or stand by it? Will England prefer the favour of the Brahmins, with participation of their cruelties, or their deadly hatred, with clean hands? Among the many questionable acts, and worse, of the East India Company, on this at least they may look back with some content in their day of fiery trouble. Others, too, will find comfort in recalling a measure fraught both with justice and charity; and many an English widow and bereaved mother, thinking of husbands murdered and daughters defiled, would feel a drop of sweetness mingling with their gall, could they believe that the cup was raised to their lips because we took it from those of the helpless. But, no, this act of justice has cost no blood.
Another alleged cause of disaffection has been education and missionary labours. We believe it is universally admitted,—at least we have not heard any one deny it,—that the class of natives educated in Government Colleges, and there carefully protected from all Christian teaching, are to a great extent infidel in creed and dangerous in politics. But, on the other hand, we cannot, at this moment, recollect any pamphlet, or any book, in which it is asserted that the pupils of missionary schools have generally displayed those characteristics. On the contrary, we are inclined to believe that were the English power to come to its final struggle to- morrow, among its best and last native friends would be no small number of these. It must be remembered, that in every case the education received at the hands of the Missionaries has been sought by the natives themselves. Their schools have always been more frequented than those of the Government, or any others; and this simple fact is the one practical answer to all the theory, which asserts that missionary operations, in the way of education or otherwise, must create disaffection.
That the Brahmins foresee that the effect of missionary labours will be the overthrow of their own system is undoubted; for in such a matter they have a truer instinct than the class of English politicians who are their apologists, and who, while they on the one hand charge the Missionaries with turning India upside down, are continually affirming on the other that they will never acquire influence. The Brahmins, on the contrary, know that they will; that the sermon, the book, the school, are surely and irresistibly working their way into the heart of the nation; and doubtless many of them would be glad, on this as on every other account, to see the end of British domination. But all the enemies of Missions,—and they are many, bitter, and certainly free from scruples,—although they have ventured on the largest assertions, in the highest places, have yet failed to produce one authentic fact to prove that the labours of the Missionaries, either in schools or otherwise, have involved the Government in conflict with the people.
The writer of one of the pamphlets at the head of this article, signing himself 'Caubalee,' says, very naturally, that had the question of the greased cartridges been submitted to a jury of Missionaries, they would, to a man, have decided against any such attack upon the prejudices of the people; for they know what does and what does not irritate. Sir Charles J. Napier never showed his insight into the native character more clearly, than when he stated that they had no objection whatever to theological discussions. What they feared was 'not conversion, but contamination.' Of this their traditions of former conquerors gave them reason to be afraid. The Mussulmans were in the habit of converting them wholesale by violence. Tales of a similar kind circulate in the villages of the south, to this day, regarding both the Portuguese and the French; and nothing but a thorough knowledge of the real spirit of Christianity will ever relieve the English, or any foreign Government, from the continual suspicion of being ready, by stratagem or force, to break the caste of the people. Every native, however, whose intercourse with Missionaries, or other decided and consistent Christians, has enabled him clearly to discover the principles of our religion, feels certain that what we seek is not 'contamination,' but 'conversion;' and that it would afford no pleasure whatever to us to see him deprived of his caste by trick or violence.
Gentlemen inattentive to religious questions may confidently state their opinions on one side, and we as confidently give ours on the other; but facts are much more to the purpose than the assertions of either.
Take two extremes of the Indian community,—the classes who have been most brought into contact with Missionaries, and those who have been the least. The latter are the Sepoys, and, above all, the Sepoys of the Bengal army. No Missionary ever dare preach in their lines, or open a school among their children; no Christian native dare enlist with them. They were studiously kept, by statesmen, from all means of knowing what Christianity really was; and the consequence is, that they are so ignorant of its spirit and aims, as to be the dupes of men who represent our Government as capable of entering into a conspiracy, to break their caste by making them eat hog's lard. Lord Ellenborough may be assured that no native who had frequently held discussions with Missionaries, would have been led away by ideas so derogatory to his Lordship, and to other statesmen who have guided the destinies of India. It may be worth noting, for those who have had a hand in maintaining this state of ignorance as to Christianity in the Sepoy army, in order that they may at their leisure remember it, that the scene of the one well-known conversion of a Sepoy to Christianity, and of his consequent expulsion from the British army, although he was a blameless, and even a meritorious, native officer,—that the scene of this crime against our national religion, against the rights of that poor man, of this reckless servility to the Koran and caste, was no other than the very city of Meerut, in which we have had so wretchedly to drink the wormwood and the gall of caste and the Koran.
On the other hand, just as the enmity to the English has broken out in the classes least approached by Missionaries, and in the countries least occupied by them, so, where their labours are most extensive, and their converts most numerous, British life is at this moment most sacred, and British authority strongest. There have been no risings against the English in Tinnivelly or Travancore in the south, none in Serampore or Krishnagur in the north. In all the Madras Presidency, which has had much more of missionary labour, and had it longer, than any other part of the country, there has been no disaffection; and we will venture to assert, that in proportion as the natives have been under missionary influence, so will they be friendly and serviceable to the English. Even where the mutiny has broken out, no special enmity has been directed against those who are active Christians. Efforts are made to hold up Colonel Wheeler as a cause of mutiny, because he had been active in instructing and exhorting the natives. So far as we understand his case, he did not act the part of a good soldier in the day of trial, and therefore we will cheerfully leave him to whatever military censure his demerits may call for. But this much is plain, that when disaffection broke out in his regiment, the Adjutant, whom no one charges with preaching, was shot at and wounded, and the Colonel, who was so zealous, was let alone. By the natives generally, that class of civilians or officers who manfully identify themselves with the religion they profess, venerate its institutions, and cherish its spirit, are far more respected than those of equal rank and talent who indulge in vices, which some fluent speakers are much slower to drag to light, for public disapproval, than any occasional example of Christian zeal. One hasty and haughty oath at a native will leave a rankling wound totally different from the feeling caused by kindly conversation on religion.
Is there any proof in the conduct of the Sepoys of a special desire for the blood of the Missionaries? Even in the sacred city of Benares they have escaped, while many an officer who, poor fellow, was far enough from offence on the score of Christianity, has been laid low. Indeed, there the authorities have sought the aid of the personal influence of a Missionary in getting stores. Only at three stations have we yet heard of Missionaries being killed, and that, we will venture to say, not from special enmity to them, but because nothing European was to be spared. No solitary Mission station has been, so far as we know, attacked. Again, the native newspapers, in their endeavours to prove a conspiracy against the caste of the people, did not allege anything that the Missionaries did, but the action of the authorities,—their mad action of thrusting unclean grease on the lips of Brahmins and Mohammedans.
The attempt to lay the disaffection at the door of the Missionaries could have been foretold with absolute certainty by every one acquainted with the history of India. We could beforehand have selected the men, and almost set down the very phrases that would be used. It has been so from the beginning, and it will be so until the dying day of the last of the race whom we have called by the name of the 'English Hindu.' What they were fifty years ago, they are to-day. Then, the Vellore mutiny had no sooner occurred than they laid it to the charge of the Missionaries; but the question was asked, Was there a Missionary in Vehlore?—No. Was there one near Vehlore?—No. Was there one in the whole Presidency of Madras?—Not a single English Missionary. Some Danes and Germans were peaceably labouring at Tanjore and Tranquebar, and a few Englishmen had landed a thousand miles off, in Bengal; and this rare apparition of Christianity had so disordered the vision of the 'English Hindu,' that he believed then, and believes to this day, that the Sepoys who murdered their officers and their European comrades during the wedding of Tipu's daughter, were fighting against Missionaries.
The disaffection was one of race amid religion, but mere disaffection did not make mutiny. That arose from provocation administered by the Government itself. The Sepoys had been forbidden earrings, forbidden to put on the marks which distinguish one caste and religion from another, commanded to trim their beards to a standard model, forced to wear black leather stocks and ungainly European jackets, and, last of all, their own beautiful turban was displaced for a horrid, ugly hat; and, moreover, they were required to use a turnscrew made in the form of a cross. They demurred to wear the hat, were savagely dealt with, took their revenge; and men were sensible enough to say that this was chargeable upon Missions. While writing this, we have put the case to a native Prince now in England; his reply may go for what it is worth. 'They pretend that the Government want to break caste, for the sake of enraging the Sepoys: but their meaning is, "We want to get the English out of the way, and have the country to ourselves."'
This naturally leads us to look at what we have already pointed out, as needing to be distinguished from disaffection, which is chronic, and which pervades classes military and nonmilitary,—namely, the inflammatory action upon the minds of the Sepoys which leads to mutiny. This always pre-supposes some temporary excitement, something which, irritating the habitual state of disaffection, brings it to a head. The outburst in India has been, hitherto, a military mutiny. The Sepoys have been certainly joined in several cases by such persons as would hail any revolution that promised excitement and plunder; but, as a whole, they have not met with the support of the trading and labouring classes of the country, whose interests are most immediately involved in the character of the Government. It is therefore our duty to look specially to causes affecting the Sepoys; and of these the number assigned by various writers is certainly legion. We shall not attempt to enumerate them all, much less to estimate their value; but some of the most prominent we may indicate.
The first, and most generally assigned, is the paucity of officers on duty with their regiments. The public are weary of hearing that every man of ability looked forward, as the best reward of his talents, to be removed from his regiment and appointed to some civil employment; and so far was this carried, that in many cases none remained with the Sepoys but the youngest or the most incompetent officers. The blame of this state of things must rest on the Government alone. For them or their advocates to turn and say that the demands for improvement forced them to employ military men in civil positions, is mere trifling. It was their duty to govern the country, and train the army; and no consideration, but the miserable one of money, could for a moment suggest the policy which they pursued. Like all public measures springing from parsimoniousness, it wreaks vengeance upon the heads of its authors, by occasioning ten-fold the expense which a wise liberality would have dictated.
Another cause, not less generally assigned, and more bitterly felt, than even the former, by officers of spirit and ability, is, that the regimental authorities have been gradually deprived of all power either to promote or to punish their own men, everything being held in the hands of a bureau authority, or moved by mechanical system; so that the Colonel, instead of being a potentate in the eyes of his men, as he ought to have been, was only a better-paid mercenary, whose duty it was to go first into action, because he had most pay. In all spheres of government, it is hard to exaggerate the importance of committing a due share of power to every one invested with responsibility; but, in dealing with a race like the Hindus, and especially when under the peculiar conditions of mercenary soldiers, shortsightedness could do nothing worse, than to denude officers at the head of regiments, of anything necessary to make their will habitually powerful over the men under their command.
If these two causes reflect upon the Government, another points our attention to the officers. Much has been said about the familiarity of officers with their men in old days, and the gradual increase of distance and distrust between them in modern times. It has been very broadly intimated, by more than one, that when officers kept a kind of seraglio, like native gentry, they were more fitted for sympathy with their men, than now, when they have generally creditable Christian families. On this latter point, we would simply say, that officers enough of the old class remain. And we will engage that if all the history of the past three months were known, it would not prove that those who have by seduction dishonoured and broken the caste of the female relations of the Sepoys, were one whit more respected in the common onslaught than those who were irreproachable in their private character. Gentlemen who practise loose living in India have little idea how well the natives know it, and how heartily they despise them for it. Things which they will even justify themselves in doing, they know ought not to be done by Englishmen; and we have heard things said by natives of men who are not afraid in public to fall foul of those who have been 'too good,' which would make their ears tingle, if they were translated into plain English.
Those who deplore the decrease of fellowship between officers and men are right; but those who charge it upon an improvement in the character of the officers, are as wrong in point of fact as in point of morals. A good man has the advantage in any country under heaven; and where general respect, sympathy, and moral influence are the objects to be gained, virtue must ever be power.
But we must not be understood as denying the fact, that the officer is, as a rule, woefully isolated from his men. Many are so through simple ignorance of their language. It is not all who have the brains, or the perseverance, to learn an Indian tongue so well, that it becomes to them an easy medium of communication; and nearly all the officers who do so are at once removed from their regiments to other work. Many of those who remain can just talk enough of the native language to get through routine phrases which they must employ; but they are always glad to confine conversation within the narrowest limits, and thus are all their lifetime incapacitated for gaining the hearts of their men. They meet on parade, but are strangers.
Beside this, it is not to be concealed that the habitual bearing of Englishmen to natives is marked by a high degree of pride and distance. Any traveller in Egypt or the East must be struck with the extent to which English residents there, as well as natives, are impressed with the haughty and domineering spirit of the 'Indians' whom they see constantly passing. They think that these have all the ways, not only of a lordly, but of a despotic race. We remember once seeing some Arabs laugh with astonishment and pleasure, on being heartily thanked for some service they had rendered; and when a native who spoke English was asked why they laughed, 'O,' he said, 'because you thank them.' 'Then would not a Pacha thank them, if they did anything for him?' 'Pacha thank them! He? No! Turk like Englishman in India.' And this idea of the 'Englishman in India' is far too correct. He is too much of the 'Turk.' Persons who have not observed the bearing of the English abroad, are often surprised that all nations speak of us as the most domineering and insolent of people. We award this distinction to the Americans, and they conscientiously return it to us. And both they and we are right. No two nations under the sky are half so overbearing, or half so insolent, as the English and the Americans. Others are more cruel, more tyrannical, more unjust, more revengeful; but far more willing to admit foreigners to companionable and equal relations. The Englishman or the American walks through the world, the moment he leaves his own soil, feeling, and unconsciously showing at every turn that he feels, everybody he meets with to be beneath him, not personally, but simply because he is not English or not American, as the case may be. Even among our neighbours in Paris the complaint is often heard, that our English there behave as if the place belonged to them; and there are towns on the Continent that the French have burned and sacked more than once, where they have committed every atrocity of which men are capable, and yet, on account of their companionable ways, they are more welcome as individuals than the English, who have never done anything but good to the people, and yet by their whole bearing make them feel that they look down upon every man of them. If this is the case when Englishmen are side by side with Europeans, on terms of neighbourhood, how much more is it likely to be so, when they are placed beside the feeble Hindu, in a position of undisputed authority and power! Many a respectable native is left to stand before a European, looking meek and contented all the while, though his heart is gnawing within him. Many a one hears rude sharp words which outrage his ideas of self-respect, when his cowardly nature will not allow even a look to betray the mortification that he feels; and in every day's intercourse much is done, by these miserable faults in manners, to obliterate the good impressions of honour, justice, amid truth, even where these virtues are maintained. 'You do not rob us,' said a native to Sir Charles Forbes, 'but you make us stand behind your chair.'
The organization of the native army itself, in the Bengal Presidency, has been much pointed to, and with reason, as highly favourable to a chronic state of disaffection, and to the designs of any who wished to promote actual mutiny. Recruited, as we have already stated, chiefly in the most renowned seats of Brahminism, and, to a very great extent, from territories that, until the other day, were under the Mohammedan dominium of Oude, they have had everything, in the local traditions and caste ties of the men, that was unfriendly to the English power. It is computed that a regiment of a thousand strong, on the average, contained about two hundred Mohammedans and eight hundred Hindus; that, of the latter, six hundred were High- caste, Brahmins or Rajpoots, and about two hundred Low-caste; no Out- castes or native Christians being in the army. Four hundred hereditary priests to a regiment say, two hundred more Rajpoots! every one of them considering himself, as the name signifies, the son of a King; and two hundred Mohammedans! What should we think of the British statesman who would attempt to govern Ireland by regiments of Maynooth Priests? And yet this appears to be the nearest illustration that we have at hand, of the odd art of government we have been attempting in Bengal. No laudation of Lord Dalhousie—and we gladly give him credit for great qualities and great services—can ever redeem him, in the eyes of impartial men, from the fault of having refused to see the true working of this system; and the still greater fault of disgusting and driving from India the man who did see it, and who would have saved the Hindus and the English from what has now occurred. Sir Charles J. Napier's period of command formed a crisis of Indian history, and, had he been allowed to carry out his views, a new era would have been inaugurated. His military reforms were necessary to accompany Lord Dalhousie's great political measures. The Governor- General opposed them; and, though he is in weakness and retirement now, the truth must be told, that to that opposition we owe the evils which have lately arisen. Genius and Talent were, as they so often are in affairs of Government, opposed: Genius with its insight and foresight, reading thoughts and tendencies, till it read the future; Talent priding itself in the idea of being practical, because it was carrying out now the views emitted by Genius fifty years ago; and, as to the future, assuming that to-morrow is yesterday. Lord Dalhousie was ably acting out the policy of the Marquis of Wellesley; but he had no original genius-light. The other read for himself; and 'practical men' some years hence, because they are acting out Sir Charles's views, will be wonderfully wiser in their own eyes than the next man of genius who shall arise, and who will see when it is time to modify.
Taking all these causes put together, they tended to prepare the Sepoys for any conspirators who might have the art to present them with an object, or use any cause of irritation give them by oversight. It would appear that both of these had occurred. The capture of Oude turned a wily and able minister from preying on his own country, to plotting for the overthrow of the power that had cast him and his master down. The King of Delhi was no inattentive listener to proposals emanating from this quarter. Agents were disseminated among the Sepoys; they were often sympathized with, often unsuccessful, but never betrayed. Doubtless they used every argument to persuade the Hindus that the English meant to treat them, as they would treat one another, or as Mussulmans had often treated them,—to contaminate their caste by some violence or stratagem; a crime of which Sepoys might well believe us capable, because they knew so little of what we were. Yet it is doubtful whether all this would have ever succeeded in raising a general mutiny, had not that event occurred which we have already said, was an act of such sheer madness, that it can only be set down to judicial blindness permitted by the great Ruler of all. Every one knows that to Hindus and Mohammedans alike the idea of tasting the flesh of a swine, in any form, is horribly disgusting; and that no English regiment would assent an order to diet them on snails or carrion, so much as would these an attempt to make them eat pig. Again, of all living things, the most sacred to the Hindu is the cow; she is one of the divinities most generally worshipped. Among the crimes on their catalogue, scarcely one ranks so high as 'cow murder.' In popular parlance, it is as great a crime to kill one woman as seven children, and to kill one cow as twenty women. Everything that comes from the cow is so sacred, that one of the most meritorious acts of religion, one of the most effectual towards attaining sanctification, is taking a mixture composed of what are called 'the five products of the cow,'—the uncleanest of them not being rejected. Even the tamest people of a country village would be fired with rage at any attempt to make them taste the flesh of a cow. It may then be imagined what was the horror of a certain Brahmin Sepoy, when a Lascar, a man of low caste, asked him to give him a drink of water out of his pot. The Sepoy refused, on caste ground; the touch of the Lascar would have polluted his pot for ever. The Lascar jeered, and told him that he was every day touching cartridges besmeared with cow's fat. The horror-struck Brahmin rushed to his comrades; and those who know the Hindu will estimate the startling effect of this intelligence, as it passed from man to man. Had the agents of the Oude conspirators produced a thousand affidavits, that the Government had bad designs, they would have weighted little with the Sepoys in comparison with this astounding discovery. The blame of issuing these cartridges is laid on Colonel Birch, the Military Secretary for India. To have been the author of such an enormous error, is a calamity that cannot well be measured, and one which all must pity; but the man through whose hands such a blow has been dealt to an honourable Government and a prosperous empire, must be swept from public life, and may be well content if his name be never heard nor his form seem in public again.
The first act of insubordination shows that mysterious meanings were now instantly attached to our scientific preparations for the good of the country. As the Sepoys no longer doubted the designs of Government against them, the electric wires became to them an evil instrument of their ruin; and, consequently, within a week from the time when the cartridge abomination was brought to their knowledge, on the 24th of January, the first stroke was struck by burning down the Telegraph Office at Barrackpore, sixteen miles from Calcutta. That station was at this time occupied only by native troops, of which there were four regiments; and it is almost incredible, that at the moment there was only one regiment of Europeans for a distance of four hundred miles,—half of it in the fort at Calcutta, and half seven miles off, at Dumdum. Night after night acts of incendiarism occurred; at time same time, agents of disaffection were making the most of the opportunity which the Government had given them, and it was asleep. A whole month was allowed to pass before any explanation was given; and by that time the Sepoys were fully satisfied that the design of contamination had been abandoned only because it was discovered. The native post is said to have been filled with soldiers' letters, conveying from the Sepoys to their comrades, all over the country, the terrible tidings of the Government conspiracy against them; and at last, by the middle of February, General Hearsey found it necessary to muster the troops at Barrackpore, and harangue them. On the 24th of that month, a small guard from a regiment quartered there reached Berhampore, a hundred and twenty miles from Calcutta, and doubtless excited, with their tales of the cows'-fat conspiracy, the men of the 19th regiment. The next day the latter regiment was paraded, and blank cartridges served out to them. The men, excited by the tales they had heard from the capital, thought these were the contaminated cartridges, although they were perfectly innocent, and refused them, until threatened with courts-martial, when they took them in gloomy silence; and in the night they rose as one man, shouting defiance. Colonel Mitchell marched against them with the remaining forces, and called upon them to give up their arms; but they would not even return to their lines, until the artillery and cavalry which had been marched against them were moved away. The Colonel yielded; and thus in the first conflict the victory was with the mutineers. Some years before Lord Dalhousie had first requested a regiment to go to Burmah, and, when it refused, quietly submitted to the affront! In mentioning the word 'lines,' it may be as well to explain that it means ten rows of huts, each row accommodating a company, and the whole a regiment.
At this point we may pause to say, that from the past history of Indian mutinies, nothing is easier than to deduce the conclusion, that Sepoys never break into resistance but when their superiors cross them on one of the following grounds: 1. Pay. 2. Changes of costume. 3. Caste customs. 4. Going abroad. With the certainty of a law you may always trace mutiny to one of these causes. Even one exception, to 'establish the rule,' or to give colour to the outcry about Missionaries, cannot be found.
It was not until about the 4thm of March that the news of this outbreak reached Calcutta; and, on the morning of the 6th, a steamer started for Rangoon. In the meantime, the regiments in the neighbourhood of the metropolis at Barrackpore showed increasing symptoms of disaffection; and reports of ill-feeling manifested far away at Meerut amid Lucknow also came to hand. After fourteen days' absence, the steamer that had been dispatched to Rangoon returned with Her Majesty's 84th Regiment, which was at once placed at Chinsurah, eight miles from Barrackpore; and the 19th Regiment, which had mutinied, was ordered to march to that station. In the meantime, the 34th, from which the men who excited them had come, committed the first act of violence against any Englishman. The Adjutant of the regiment, Lieutenant Baugh, heard that a Sepoy was traversing the lines, calling upon his comrades to rise. He rode immediately to the parade-ground. Mungul Pandy,— for this was the Sepoy's name,—hiding himself behind a cannon which was near, took deliberate aim, and fired at the officer. The horse was wounded, and came to the ground with his rider. The officer, snatching a pistol from his holster, fired in return, but missed his man; and before he could draw his sword, the Sepoy brought him to the ground with a blow. A guard of the regiment was close by, but they did not interfere. The European Sergeant-Major called out to them, but their native Lieutenant forbade them to stir, and Mungul Pandv wounded a second Englishman, the Sergeant-Major, and then the guard struck the two wounded men with the butts of their muskets. But one Mohammedan was faithful, and seized Mungul Pandy just as he had re-loaded his piece. Lieutenant-Colonel Wheeler acted feebly and inefficiently; but General Hearsey was presently on the spot, with some other officers, and Mungul Pandy fired at and wounded himself. General Hearsey promoted the faithful Sepoy to the rank of Sergeant on the spot; and it is said, in India, that Colonel Birch, the same man to whom is attributed the order for time greased cartridges, had the hardy imbecility to give a 'severe wigging' to the General for this departure from the sacred punctilios of routine promotion. The native guard and their officer were left atlarge, while the regiment which had previously mutinied at Berhampore were marched on this station to be disarmed. It is said that, on the last night of this march, a deputation, of Mungul Pandy's comrades, joined them, and proposed that they should that very night kill all their officers, march on to Barrackpore, where the two regiments were prepared to join them, then burn the bungalows, surprise and massacre the European force, then march on Calcutta, and sack it. But the 19th, having learned that they were about to be disbanded, were already in a penitent mood, and had sent a petition to the Governor-General, offering to proceed at once to China, or any other place, by land or sea, if they were only pardoned: thus they rejected the counsel of their bloody brethren of the 34th. They were marched into Barrackpore, and there disbanded; but the 34th, who had gone much further than they, were left untouched.
The Jemadar (native Lieutenant) of that corps, who had forbidden his men to rescue the wounded Adjutant, was left three days at large, and four weeks passed before he was brought to punishment. The men of his guard, who beat the wounded officer, were at liberty; their comrades, who refused to give them up, were not disturbed; and that for five weeks. Thus Lord Canning told every Sepoy in India, in what is the most emphatic language to say anything in, acts, that it was a matter for long consideration whether native officers who helped in the murder of a European one should be hanged, and that it was worth while to house, clothe, feed, and pay Sepoys for beating wounded Englishmen.
The policy of conspirators is tremulous, and such steps looked not like English honesty, but native cunning. Every Sepoy would read fresh evidence of evil design in every token of fear. An oversight had irritated disaffection into suspicion; temporizing turned suspicion to certainty; and resistance broke out. From Lucknow, the capital of Oude, came the news that a doctor, who tasted a bottle of physic before giving it to a sick Sepoy, was set down as a conspirator against caste, and his house burned. At Umballah, much farther away, the Commander-in-Chief was led, by the sullenness of the men, to address and attempt to reassure them. At Sealkote, in the heart of the Punjab, letters were found from the precious 34th at Barrackpore, urging their comrades at the former place to revolt. A Jemadar of the 70th regiment was found going through the lines, exciting the men to mutiny; and when a court-martial of his native brother officers sentenced him to the gentle pain of dismissal, the authorities complacently ratified the decision. In the midst of all this, orders were given that the British regiment which had been brought up from Burmah to overawe the 19th while being disarmed, should be sent away again.
This crowning folly was hindered by the rush of events. On May 3rd, a Sepoy at Lucknow received a letter from the 7 th Oude Cavalry, which had belonged to the ex-King, and was lying seven miles off, to this effect: 'We are ready to obey the directions of our brothers of the 48th in the matter of cartridges, and to resist either actively or passively.' The Brahmin—for be it said, he was a Brahmin—showed this to a Havildar (Sejeant) and he to a Subahdar (Captain); and the three carried it to Sir Henry Lawrence, whose great character thus elicited one of the very, very few gleams of light which have broken on the darkness of the plot. That same day he learned that four men of the regiment whence this letter came, had entered the room of their Adjutant, armed to the teeth, and told that they did not dislike him, but he was a Feringhee (European), and must die. Lieutenant Mecham looked at them, and said, 'I am unarmed, and you may kill me if you like; but that will do you no good, for you will not succeed in this mutiny, and another Adjutant will be appointed.' The calm on his countenance and in his voice quelled the rage of the murderers, and they retired, leaving him unharmed.
When night had just fallen on the lines of these mutineers, they were thunderstruck at being summoned to meet Sir Henry Lawrence, who was backed by eight guns manned by Europeans, with one English and four native regiments. They were ordered to form close in front of him, and to lay down their arms. As they silently obeyed, the port- fires of the artillery suddenly flashed in the dark. 'Don't fire don't fire!" screamed the mutineers, and rushed frantically away. That night all their ringleaders were secured by native soldiers.
This news reached Calcutta on the 4th; and, as if the electricity of the telegraph had galvanized the Government, the order to send off the English regiment to Burmah was recalled; and on the 6th, the 34th were ordered out for punishment, after more weeks of respite than their accomplices at Lucknow had hours. An order of the Governor-General was read, detailing their great offences, and announcing their penalty,—simple dismissal. This was to be read to every regiment in India. When it reached Oude, Sir Henry Lawrence had the courage to set it aside. Lord Canning had wisely attempted to imitate his energy; he wisely resolved not to imitate Lord Canning's feebleness. Nevertheless, it was made known to every Sepoy that, when the Governor-General did his worst, it was but dismissal; and it is confidently affirmed that, at the same time, the Sepoys had offers of better pay from the Kings of Delhi and Oude.
The clouds had long been growing black, and now the thunderbolt was coming. On the same day that the 34th received their tardy dismissal, a parade was ordered at Meerut, on purpose to test the troops by serving out unexceptionable cartridges. Out of the ranks of the 3rd Cavalry, eighty-five men boldly advanced, and refused to take them. They were tried by a native court-martial, and sentenced, eighty to ten years' imprisonment, with hard labour, and the remaining five to but six years. Three days after their mutinous act, in the presence of guns, and English rifles, and English horse, with their own and two other native regiments, they were stripped of the British uniform, and laden with fetters; imploring General Hewitt for mercy during the process, and at the close reproaching their comrades for permitting it. They were not put under a European guard, but lodged in the common jail, guarded only by natives.
The next day was a Sunday,—Sunday, May 10th, 1857,— henceforth in the calendar of many a family a blood-colour day. When we think how peacefully we sat in our homes or our churches that day, and that thousands in India sat in theirs just as peacefully, we feel how short is human sight! 'One who has served under Sir Charles Napier' thus tells the tale of that Sunday:—
'The Havildars made the morning report to their officers; the men of the European regiment attended morning service as usual, and there was no sign of the coming storm. The day passed away as Sundays generally pass in India, and not even the Serjeants, who live in the native lines, had noticed anything to call for report, or even for remark. Evening church-time was approaching: the 60th Rifles were turning out with their side-arms to proceed thither; officers, too, were dressing either for church or for an evening ride. Sepoys! restrain your impatience for half an hour longer, and Meerut is your own. Providentially they cannot restrain it. Suddenly the alarm of fire is given; then there is loud shouting, as if the Sepoys were turning out to quench the flames. But, then, that volley of musketry, followed by another and another! those discordant yells! that clattering of cavalry! the bugle sound of the alarm! It is not fire only that has caused this direful outcry; it is mutiny! insurrection! THE BENGAL ARMY HAS REVOLTED!
'It was nearing five o'clock on that memorable afternoon when, at a given signal, the 3rd Light Cavalry and the 20th Native Infantry rushed out of their lines, armed and furious. A detachment of the former regiment at once galloped in the direction of the jail. On reaching it, its gates were opened to them without resistance, and they at once liberated all its inmates, including their imprisoned comrades: a native smith was at hand to strike off their irons. These men, infuriated by their disgrace, ran with all possible speed to their lines, armed themselves, and mounted; they then rushed to the scene of action, yelling fearfully, and denouncing death to every European. Meanwhile the remaining portion of the 3rd Cavalry and the 20th Native Infantry had proceeded to the lines of the 11th with all possible speed. Thither also the officers of that regiment, alarmed by the shouting and noise, had gone before them. They found Colonel Finnis haranguing his men, and endeavouring to keep them firm to their colours. The men were wavering when the 20th arrived. The men of this regiment, whose hands were already red with the blood of several of their own officers, seeing this hesitation and its cause, at once fired at Colonel Finnis. The first shot took effect on his horse only, but almost immediately afterwards he was riddled with balls. All discipline, all better feelings, now vanished. It is true that the Sepoys of the 11th permitted their officers to escape with their lives; but having done this, the greater portion of them followed the example the 20th. And now ensued a scene of disorder, rapine, and murder, which pen cannot describe. Every house and building near the lines, except the hospital, had been fired; and the smoking and blazing barracks and houses, the yells of the mutineers, and the shouts and shrieks of the multitude gathered there, numbers of whom fell from shots of the mutineers, made on that dark night a scene than which one cannot be imagined more horrible. Officers galloping about, carrying orders to the European troops, were fired at, not only by the mutineers, but by the native guards placed over the public buildings for security. Ladies driving in their carriages, gentlemen in their buggies, who had left their houses unsuspicious of evil, were assaulted, and, if not murdered, treated with a brutality to which death would have been a relief. Not only the Sepoys, but the released jail-birds, fifteen hundred in number, the population also, that "vile rabble' which is always available for plunder or murder, had joined the movement, and spread terror and desolation all around them. Nor were houses or public offices safe places of refuge from these assaults. Most of the houses in Meerut—all of those in the military lines—are thatched with straw, and easily inflammable: the plan of the insurgents was to set fire to the roof, and to murder the frightened residents as they quitted the burning dwelling. Many met their deaths in this way ; more, providentially, escaped ; yet not one of those in the latter category owed their safety to the mercy of their assailants. In some instances outrages were perpetrated which the pen refuses to record. These men, whom we had pampered for a century, who had always professed the utmost devotion to us, seemed suddenly converted into demons. Nor was this a solitary example; other stations were destined to witness atrocities fouler, more brutal, and more treacherous than even those of Meerut.'
Had the man who smothered the flame at Lucknow been at Meerut, with a regiment of English rifles, one of English horse, and a troop of English artillery, not a single company of the mutineers would have escaped. They were only three regiments. Yet they all got away, or nearly all. The British force was, after a long delay, brought out against them, but soon led back 'to guard the station,' while Delhi, India, England, were left at the mercy of the mutineers. The General who served his nation this turn was 'superseded for supineness' after some months had passed.
The tiger had now tasted blood, and all the ferocity of his nature was awakened. The next morning, the English at Delhi received a hasty intimation to repair to a strong place outside the walls, called the Flagstaff Tower. (After all that has passed, in alluding to those British-built towers and bastions of Delhi, we have a painful recollection that they were executed by a valued friend, who does not live to lament the unforeseen use to which his engineering science has been turned.) To the Flagstaff Tower several hastened, others never received the message, others it reached too late. The Meerut murderers were at hand. To face them, Brigadier Graves had three regiments of infantry and a battery of artillery, all native! Not a company of English troops! 'Plenty of mischief,' wrote Sir Charles Napier, years before, to an officer of artillery,1 'will be hatched within those walls, and no European forces!'—' Meanwhile,' says the writer whom we have quoted just above,—
'Meanwhile the regiments were ordered out, the guns loaded, and every possible preparation made. The Brigadier harangued the troops in a manly style; told them that now was the opportunity to show their fidelity to the Company to whom they had sworn fidelity, and by whom they had never been deceived. His brief, pithy address was received with cheers. The 54th, especially, seemed eager to exterminate the mutineers, and loudly demanded to be led against them. The Brigadier, responding to their seeming enthusiasm, put himself at their head, and led them out of the Cashmere Gate to meet the rebels, whose near approach had been announced. As they marched out in gallant order, to all appearance
proud and confident, a tumultuous array appeared advancing from the Hindun. In front, and in full uniform, with medals on their breasts gained in fighting for British supremacy, confidence in their manner, and fury in their gestures, galloped on about two hundred and fifty troopers of the 3rd Cavalry: behind them, at no great distance, and almost running in their efforts to reach the golden minarets of Delhi, appeared a vast mass of Infantry, their red coats soiled with dust, and their bayonets glittering in the sun. No hesitation was visible in all that advancing mass; they came on, as if confident of the result. Now the Cavalry approach nearer and nearer! At this headlong pace they will soon be on the bayonets of the 54th. These latter are ordered to fire ; the fate of India hangs on their reply. They do fire, but alas! into the air; not one saddle is emptied by that vain discharge. And now the Cavalry are amongst them ; they fraternize with them; they leave the officers to their fate; and these are remorselessly cut down wherever they can be found!'
Some fled to the palace of the King of Delhi for refuge. It is said that when the Sepoys cried, 'What shall we do with them?' the clement reply from the throne was, 'What you like; I give them to you.' And with our brothers, with our sisters, with our little girls, with our merry boys, those tigers and satyrs did 'what they liked.' That day the honour of England's daughters was outraged in the streets.
There was a young Lieutenant of artillery who thought of the most important thing in Delhi, the Arsenal, which the Commandant seems to have entirely forgotten, though, with that exception, his conduct was excellent; but, had he duly ordered the firing of the magazine in case of need, the mutineers would have been comparatively powerless. The young soldier laid a train; went into a subterranean passage; waited until he heard the raging of men within the building, until he heard them wrestling outside for entrance. 'It is full,' he said. The match is applied, the ground quakes, from fifteen hundred to three thousand poor wretches are blown into the air; and yet the hand that dealt the blow, though scorched and bruised, is not dead. Some of his noble comrades reached Meerut; and have heard, no doubt, many a man's and many a woman's warm word, 'Well done;' but he has gone to the grave to which he devoted himself. Of all the names which the mention of Delhi will hereafter recall to the memories of Englishmen, none will ring upon the ear with a tone so solemn and so grand as that of Willoughby!
What he destroyed was the small-arms magazine; enough of stores remained to supply the rebels with the means of long-continued defence, which might all have been destroyed. From the Flagstaff Tower a puff of smoke was seen, then a 'huge coronet of red dust,' then came the noise of an explosion. The Sepoys in the Tower turned the two guns which were there upon the Europeans; Brigadier Graves told them to escape, and was himself the last man to leave. And that escape! What tales have been told, and what tales remain to tell!
Through General Hewitt's 'supineness,' the disaffected Sepoys throughout the country had now obtained the one thing necessary to give them courage,—success. An English station well manned by Europeans had been burned; the perpetrators of the deed mad marched off unhurt; and the former capital of India had become their easy prize. The man who issued the greased cartridges gave conspirators the means of turning Sepoys into mutimneers; General Hewitt gave mutinous Sepoys courage to become rebels.
The King of Delhi, who owed us nothing but obligations; whose ancestors had been reduced to a mere pageant before we appeared on the field, tossed about from Mahratta to Rohilla, now with eyes put out, now with a little army; whose father, instead of this, had lived in peace, plenty, and respect, under our protection; who was himself rich, and at ease, by our bounty; he at once put himself at the head of the movement, called the regiments by the names of his sons, appointed Lall Khan, of the 3rd Cavalry, the Meerut regiment, his General-in-Chief, and issued proclamations, promising double pay to Sepoys, and plenty of blessings to the people.
'Success,' that magic word for the timid, sped through every Sepoy station;—success, in the face of an equal, or nearly equal, force of Europeans;—suceess, so well used as to secure boundless stores, a fortress, and an Emperor to head the movement. No wonder that the Sepoy, who had so long hesitated between fear, hatred, and self-interest, should now think that the scale was turned as to the latter, and rush at once to vengeance and greatness by rebellion. The English had tried to rob him of his caste, dearer than life; and now their hour was come. The Bengal army revolted, murdering, violating, and burning wherever they could. All Oude soon raged around the calm, strong presence of Sir Henry Lawrence, who with five hundred men stood against a kingdom, until a shot brought him to the grave,—one of the best and greatest men whom England ever sent to India. Blood is on the head of those who placed him in that newly-annexed kingdom with but one European regiment, and of those who delayed the formation of railways by which he might have received support in time. In the Punjab, the vigour of his brother, Sir John, backed by such men as Chamberlain and Edwardes, sufficed to extinguished the flames of rebellion in detail as they broke out; so that the mutinous army received no important accession thence, and the loyal one did. The admirable management of the Punjab supplied us with a base of operations in the Plain of the Indus, west of the insurgents, in addition to that furnished by Bengal, on their east.
Although it is no exaggeration to say that the Bengal army revolted, the prevalent ideas, and even the representations in the Press and in Parliament, of the extent of the rebellion are much exaggerated. From a tone of confidence approaching to levity, some of our journals passed at once to the position that we had to re-commence the conquest of India. The confidence was excusable, for nearly all who knew India shared it; and it will prove well founded in the long run, resting, as it did, on the full persuasion that no native power existed capable of destroying the British empire in India. But we have never yet come near the position of having to re-conquer India. First of all, out of two hundred reigning Rajahs, not one of any importance has openly set himself against us; for the King of Delhi had not one soldier, and Nena Sahib was a private person. Had the reigning Rajahs led out their four hundred thousand men to join the Sepoys, even then it had not been all India. But several of them promptly and energetically took our side. Again, the Madras and Bombay armies, one hundred thousand strong, remained our sturdy friends; and all the territory south of the central mountains, the whole of the great Table Land, of the Mountain Foot, were undisturbed. Scinde, Guzerat, Bengal, Orissa, never needed re-conquest. The Punjab was ruffled, but was immediately pacified by its own garrisons. The rebellion never established itself west of Delhi, never (till the 'eleventh hour') broke out east of Benares; the distance between these being little over four hundred miles. At Benares, however, it never had a day's ascendancy. In fact, any one may define to himself, very easily and completely, the seat of real rebellion, the country needing to be re-conquered, if he will trace the Ganges up to its junction with the Jumna, and, beginning at Allahabad, say, 'There is the hostile frontier;' then let him ascend the line of both these great rivers, with Oude and Rohilcund skirting one, and Agra and Delhi lying on the other, and he will have before him the scene on which our soldiers have to triumph. Serious outbreaks have occurred south of this; but the mutinous troops have marched northward, from Neemuch and other stations, to Delhi, leaving the field open for re- occupation without the necessity of re-conquest. Most of it has been already reclaimed, and forces from the south are steadily approaching Delhi. Had all India to be re-conquered, we should have against us, first, our own Sepoys, say 250,000; secondly, the armies of the Rajahs, 400,000; thirdly, the people, either in arms or passively hostile; fourthly, all the strong places occupied by the enemy. Instead of this, we have lost about 80,000 Sepoys, of whom perhaps 60,000 are in arms against us; with what amount of abetting rabble we do not at present know. They hold only one strong place, Delhi; and all the other great fortresses of India are in our hands. Neither the people nor the Princes have joined the mutineers, so that the work to be done, though serious, difficult, and costly, is no more a re-conquest of India than the suppression of a French revolt, which had occurred at Paris, would be a conquest of Europe. They who speak of re-conquering India have very imperfect ideas of what such words mean. What lies before us is much less than that, and yet it is far from being a trifle.
The movement towards repressing the rebellion began from three sides,—Calcutta on the east, the Punjab and the Hills on the north-west, and the Bombay Presidency on the south. The Commander-in- Chief was hunting in the hills, though the army had long been in a state of the most alarming ferment. He moved towards Delhi, and, while pausing at Kurnaul for siege guns, was carried off by cholera. General Anson possessed all the qualities of a perfect gentleman, accomplishments unquestionably of great value in any sphere, and furnishing sufficient qualifications for an appointment about the Court; but every one knew that he had never commanded an army, every one believed he had never commanded a regiment, and many military men asserted that he had never commanded a company. It is a great crime to appoint any man to high command whose professional reputation does not insure the confidence of those below him. Every active Captain or Adjutant in India believed that he knew more of the art of war, practically, than his Commander-in-Chief. How far this feeling—for nothing is so contagious as a feeling of this kind—passed to the Sepoys, we cannot tell.
The fallen Chief was succeeded by one who had seen service, General Barnard. He reached Delhi on the 8th of June, just four weeks after it had been seized, swept the rebels before him, took twenty-six guns, paused at the walls, and resolved not to risk an assault. He maintained himself outside the walls; bravely repulsed innumerable sorties, inflicting terrible loss on the enemy; and died at his post, of the same plague which had carried off General Anson. His policy has had one advantage—that of making Delhi a trap, to which the mutineers have been drawn from all points; but, had he carried forward his victorious men, they would have planted his standard on the walls, and the hearts of the mutineers would have sunk all over the country. In battle, or in policy, timidity with Hindus is folly; they bend before bravery, but spring up at the least sign of weakness. From the 8th of June up to this day, Delhi has continued to be the centre of the struggle, receiving new hordes from stations which had mutinied, sending them out as they arrived to attack our forces, receiving back the defeated survivors, and again recruiting its numbers and its courage by new arrivals.
From the side of Calcutta, our movement consisted in sending reinforcements up towards the seat of war. In this, at least,—and, we fear we must say, in this only,—the Government of Lord Canning showed itself equal to the requirements of the moment. From Burmah, from Madras, from Ceylon, from Mauritius, and from the Chinese expedition, it sought and found help. As the troops arrived, they produced a double effect: first, their appearance in Calcutta quenched the hope of mutiny among the conspirators there; and, secondly, as they moved on to the interior, they carried the return tide with them. Among the first effects were the disarming of the troops at Barrackpore, and the capture of the King of Oude; but, as if everything done in Calcutta itself was to be defective, the Fakeer, whose revelations when under sentence of death led to the King's capture, was allowed to escape from prison; and whether he had told enough to be of much value, we do not know.
Among the arrivals was a regiment from Madras, and the first the English public knew of its Colonel was that, when his men were leaving by the railway, some were not up in time, and the train was ordered to start. He remonstrated; the station-master insisted that, the time being up, the train must go; the Colonel put him under arrest, and, when the last of his men were in the carriage, set him free. This was Colonel Neill, and the regiment was the Madras Fusileers. He might have been in Benares in twenty-four hours, had the railway been finished; but at last he did reach that city, and the same night came the outbreak of rebellion: with more than ten to one against him, he ended it in half an hour or so. Had he been at Meerut, with two noble regiments and artillery, Delhi would never have passed into rebel hands. It was on the 4th of June that this collision at Benares occurred, and that point was the farthest down the Ganges at which real fighting took place, before the recent outburst at Dinapore. Here the two advancing waves, of the rebel and of the re-conquering power, first met, and the former was rolled back; a tide was setting in against a stream.
From Benares, Neill and his force soon reached Allahabad. There the officers of the 6th had been murdered at mess by the men who assured them of their loyalty in the forenoon; and, though the authorities retained hold of time place, things were in fearful confusion, and were managed without decision. Colonel Neill, though junior to the officer in charge, had happily authority to take the command. 'Things changed as if by magic.' Rebels were punished, order was restored, and the surrounding district as well as the city overawed. One of the sufferers was a boy Cadet, from the smiling vale of Evesham, who, after being wounded, spent five miserable days and nights in a gully, blistered by the sun and chilled by the dews, until at last he was dragged dying to the presence of a fellow who had set up as a small Rajah. Here he saw a native Christian, a convert from Mohammedanism, and a Catechist of the American Mission, enduring torture and menaces to make him deny Christ. He glanced round in his anguish, as if for help or courage, and the dying English boy raised his feeble frame, and said, 'O Padre, whatever you do, do not deny the Lord Jesus!' Just then a noise was heard outside, the noise of angry men: it was Colonel Neill's gallant band; the persecutors were soon punished, the native Christian was released, and the lad whose voice had strengthened him died among friends. Let his memory be cherished in every home of the peaceful, beautiful vale of his nativity!
At Allahabad a second important step was gained, the rebellion being rolled so much farther back from the metropolis. At the same time, the base of operations, on the opposite side of the rebel field, was being strengthened and made available. The whole of the regular Sepoy regiments in the Punjab, or nearly the whole, were disarmed; corps were raised from the people of the country itself, hostile to the Brahmins and Mussulmans; and some forces dispatched to Delhi. Colonel Herbert Edwardes, who gained much celebrity in the great Sikh war, was able, with other officers, to arouse emulation to be enlisted among the people under his government; not only did Chiefs on whom he called respond, but those whom he passed by remonstrated. At Sealkote the Sepoys broke fairly out, and, having murdered several officers, marched for Delhi; but, on their way, they were beaten into the Ravee by Brigadier Nicholson, and then, after having found temporary refuge in an island, were utterly routed; their victor marched for Delhi instead of them, and the miserable remainder of them were caught by native authorities, and delivered up. General Van Cortlandt, who had earlier performed similar feats, took the same road. Thus, from the west, as from the east, the return tide was setting in. At Neemuch and Nusseerabad successful and bloody risings had taken place; and also at Indore and Mhow, all south of Delhi. From these points ten thousand mutineers appeared before Agra, the seat of the Lieutenant-Governor of the North West Provinces; five hundred British soldiers, instead of awaiting them in the fort, went out to attack them; and, though the proceeding was mismanaged, fought them for three hours, and made such an impression that, instead of being besieged, they saw the host move away. Holkar, the head of the second Mahratta nation in point of importance, stood firm
when his troops at Indore rebelled; was reproached by them for not resembling his ancestor, who had been a foe not unworthy of the steel of Lake and Wellesley; but replied that the murder of women and children did not make part of any religion. A column under Colonel Steuart, advancing from Bombay, has taken possession of these regions, and thus the return tide has set in from the south.
We left the force advancing from Calcutta at Allahabad. There Neill fell ill; but, happily, not fatally. In the meantime, at the next important post, Cawnpore, on the banks of the Ganges, and on the frontier of Oude, one of the first soldiers in India was nobly playing his part. Sir Hugh Wheeler made a temporary but strong fort out of his barracks, and soon needed it; for his Sepoys rose, and at their head was placed a Mahratta of note living in the neighbourhood. What could have induced our Government to make the most sacred and exciting lands of Hinduism the residence of conquered Monarchs, we cannot tell; but, among others, the Peishwa, or great Mahratta Priest-King, when dethroned, was placed, with a royal pension, in the sacred land by the Ganges. Having no son, he adopted Nena Sahib, who very naturally wished for a royal pension, in addition to all the property of the ex- Peishwa. He obtained the latter, was denied the former, lived in state, kept troops and artillery, talked English, visited the officers, and seemed very friendly. No sooner did the disturbance offer a hope of revenge for the refusal of the pension, than he took part with the mutineers; and of his atrocities all the world has heard. In Europe, they are new and horrible. In India, such things were beginning to be strange, because of British supremacy; but they formed the ordinary appendages of native war, and every year had its wars. To us the horror is, that noble British men and delicate British women were the victims over whom this wild beast gloated. We say British, rather than English; for in the streams that have reddened the Ganges the blood of the three kingdoms has flowed indiscriminately. But no one who knew the Hindus, or had even an idea of their history, would expect much better or much worse than what has occurred. The organ of Tipu Sahib is preserved in the East India House, and may be seen by any visitor in the instructive museum of that establishment. It is an instrument expressive of any native hero's feeling towards an enemy, and one after Nena Sahib's own heart. Its form is that of a British officer prostrate, with a tiger standing upon him; its music is the alternate cry of the Briton and growl of the brute.
Nena Sahib and Sir Hugh Wheeler! One burns to write two such names in the same line! Yet the latter was the prey of the former. With some three hundred men, Wheeler maintained himself against a host, in a mere barrack, riddled with cannon shot, and crowded with women and children. At last he fell, and his hapless followers, trusting to the word of Nena, took boat for Allahabad. They were fired on from the banks of the river, and most of them thus destroyed; but many women were reserved for the gratification of our enemies, until the avenger drew nigh.
Brigadier Havelock had left Allahabad, at the head of 1,800 Britons. In the terrible heats of July, this brigade in eight days marched a hundred and twenty-six miles, won four battles, took twenty- four guns, and recaptured Cawnpore. On the 12th of July, (a day memorable as the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne,) they reached Futteypore, found the rebels in force, were attacked, and the result is best told in General Havelock's words to his men, which show that he can write as well as fight:—
'Morning Order, July 13th, 1857.
'Brigadier-General Havelock, C.B., thanks his soldiers for their arduous exertions of yesterday, which produced, in four hours, the strange result of a whole army driven from a strong position, eleven guns captured, and their whole force scattered to the winds, without the loss of a single British soldier!
'To what is this astonishing effect to be attributed? To the fire of the British artillery, exceeding in rapidity and precision all that the Brigadier-General has ever witnessed in his not short career; to the power of the Enfield Rifle in British hands; to British pluck,— that good quality that has survived the revolution of the hour; and to the blessing of Almighty God on a most righteous cause,—the cause of justice, humanity, truth, and good government in India.'
Three days afterwards, they defeated the enemy in two separate engagements, again capturing several guns; but here Major Renaud, who, in the absence of Colonel Neill, commanded the Madras Fusileers, received a wound, from which he has died. The next day, they encountered the whole body of the rebels under Nena Sahib in person, in an intrenched position, which was skilfully turned, and bravely carried in the face of a determined opposition, which cost us one man in every fifteen of those engaged, but ended in the complete rout of the enemy and the surrender of Cawnpore. Nena Sahib, however, in retiring, had more caution than the Commandant of Delhi; for he took care to have the magazine blown up. A number of our countrywomen, who had been preserved up to the day of the battle,—or the day previous, for the accounts vary,—were now not to be found; a well was choked with their bodies; and all that remained of these women above ground was 'long tresses of hair, dresses covered with blood, here and there a workbox or a bonnet.'
After a day or two's rest, General Havelock passed on for Bithoor, the seat of Nena. The wretch had abandoned it, and our force burned it to the ground; and whether its savage master is drowned in the Ganges, or still lives, we are at present left in uncertainty, the report being that, in crossing the stream, he had drowned himself and his family. Hence General Havelock proceeded direct towards Lucknow, and on the 29th of July came upon 10,000 mutineers, strongly posted, with fifteen guns, whom he routed, capturing all their ordnance; and, after a halt of four hours, he assaulted a second strong position, carried it, and captured all its guns. After another victory, he fell back to place his sick, wounded, and captured guns in safety, received a small reinforcement, and set forward anew. We leave General Havelock almost within sight of the noble little band who have held their ground around the grave of Sir Henry Lawrence; and the hope that, ere this, they have met above that great man's ashes has already made many a heart in England say, 'God bless General Havelock!'
The present position of affairs, then, is, first, symptoms of the mutiny beginning to appear in the Bombay army, at Kolapore; secondly, great anxiety in parts of the Madras Presidency lest the approaching Mohurrum should witness an outbreak; thirdly, government restored in Central India and confirmed in the Punjab; fourthly, in Bengal, the rebellion driven up the Ganges from Benares to Allahabad, from Allahabad to Cawnpore, and from Cawnpore to Oude; our besieging force at Delhi triumphant in twenty-two engagements, but kept small by constant losses, yet expecting powerful reinforcements in the columns of Van Cortlandt, Nicholson, and Havelock, all of which will come as victors; and all this before reinforcements have arrived either from the Cape or from England.
Yet by the folly of the Government in refusing to disarm three regiments at Dinapore, and keeping an imbecile old man in command, disturbance has been gratuitously imported to Behar; and the heroism of the little garrison of Arrah, where a dozen English and forty-five Sikhs repulsed and held at bay two thousand or three thousand Sepoys, has been deprived of its legitimate effect; for a detachment was driven at night into the jaws of an ambuscade, when half of them fell.
If we turn for a moment to look at the effects of this mutiny, one of the first and most obvious will be, a better knowledge in Europe of Hindu character. It was the fashion of a certain school to paint that character as so gentle, that the atrocities of this rebellion took the public by surprise. But no one familiar with the best writers upon India,—with such writers as Orme or Mill,—ever expected that Hindus in warfare would act otherwise than they have acted. Feebleness and ferociousness can easily unite in the same person. Any one who had read the accounts of Bengal dacoity, or gang robbery, would know that even the most cringing of all the Hindu nations habitually indulge in incredible atrocities, when once engaged in conflict. The authentic memoirs of any native Court, whether Hindu or Mussulman, would be too horrible for belief in England. It is impossible to calculate the saving of human life which has resulted from the British conquest of that country, if it was only through the stopping of murders by authority. We know a case of one Rajah, now deposed, of whom his former subjects say that he killed only five thousand persons while he was on the throne; whereas his father had killed about ten thousand; and his uncle, a much greater and abler man than either, who in his day rendered services to the Government of the Marquis of Wellesley, had killed at least fifteen thousand. A case was well known, in which the Queen of the Nairs, in whose country it was not fashionable for women to cover the breast, on learning that one who had been abroad did so since her return to her own country, ordered her breasts to be cut off. But the narratives with which our papers have teemed have settled for ever the question in the mind of the British public, whether the character of the natives is, or is not, that which a religion full of blood, and lust, and murder, in its most sacred tales of its gods, is calculated to foster. The Hindus are heathens, with all the cruelty which heathenism continually nourishes.
Another effect will be, a clearer apprehension on the subject of native institutions, especially that of caste. This has been hitherto regarded rather as an oriental curiosity than as a bad institution, a practical curse to mankind. By the horrors of this rebellion, many will be taught that caste is the most unnatural barrier ever interposed between man and man, the greatest source of estrangement between neighbours of the same race and language, and the most dangerous obstacle in the intercourse between different nations. It must henceforth be looked at gravely as one of the worst things existing under the sun; not to be rudely assailed, because that would rouse fanaticism in its defence, but to be calmly and strongly passed by, in every arrangement let alone, all ordinances and regulations proceeding upon the basis given us by our own constitution, and leaving, in the enjoyment of their rights, those who prefer the pride of caste to the advantages we offer them: and these will be very few; for when the Hindus are not forced, they easily slide into practices irreconcilable with caste, if advantage is to be gained thereby. In fact, the scrupulous Brahmins of the south of India would not acknowledge the pure Brahminical caste of a single man of the Bengal Army, in so many ways have they departed from the strict regimen of their system to secure secular advantages, although they have resented with violence, of which we all are aware, the supposed attempt to pollute them by fraud.
Another effect of the rebellion is, to scatter for ever the confident belief which nearly all the English residents in India entertained, that the Hindus and the Mussulmans could never combine. On this point no one can reproach his neighbour; for all were agreed, and all have been equally disappointed. We put it the other day to a Hindu of rank and note, how it was that his people could unite with the Mussulmans. His reply was, 'All the men in India who remember the miseries of the Mussulman days, have now white beards. The present generation know nothing about it; the pains that we have gone through are all forgotten, and the people have joined, thinking they would clear the English out of the way, and have the country to themselves.' Henceforth our policy can never take, as the basis of any one proceeding, the assumption that the Hindu and the Mussulman cannot make common cause against us. That hitherto all-pervading element in the calculation of Indian policy must wholly disappear.
Another effect, closely allied with this one, is the proof, terribly perfect now, that the policy of our Government in matters of religion has been a total failure. That policy has been, in its public principles, purely atheistical. As a Government, to have no religion at all, and to support Hinduism for the Hindus, Mohammedanism for the Mohammedans, and Christianity for the English, with a view to please all, has been the way of our Government. Our whole Indian policy has been tinged with the original character of commerce. We have traded in everything, from crowns down to cowry-shells, and from opium up to conscience. Which would cost least, or which would pay most, has always been the ruling consideration. Meaner than any conquerors in any country before, we have been ashamed and afraid to avow and encourage our own creed. Our authorities did all that in them lay to keep Hindus and Mussulmans in complete ignorance of Christianity. They did more: they did all that in them lay to excite the jealousy of the natives against Christian efforts to enlighten them. They sowed fear and discontent, by manifesting disfavour to their own religion to obtain the confidence of the Hindus. Even with an honest and straightforward people, such conduct could not obtain respect; but to those who can never believe in the integrity of any one, so deeply is their own character imbued with dissimulation, all these evidences of tremor or anxiety could have but one meaning;—they were meant to conceal a conspiracy. Had the Government been as honest as the Mussulmans when they were in power, or as Runjeet Singh, or as any kind of rulers that the Hindus have ever had to do with before,—that is, had they avowed, and acted on, and encouraged their own religion,—the whole body of Hindus would by this time have known what that religion and its principles are, and been persuaded that to it the idea of obtaining crowds of nominal adherents, by fraud or force, would be utterly abhorrent. The Mussulmans, acting upon their principles, and Runjeet Singh on his, not only encouraged but compelled conversion, not only discountenanced but persecuted other religions; and yet there are no traces in the history of India that this course was the cause of any material weakness to their governments. We, with other principles and another creed, which would have led us never to coerce any man's conscience, never to interfere with any man's rights, but frankly displaying a purer belief and a more elevating worship, should have held out to all mild invitations to become wiser and holier, with the strong assurance of acts, not of words, of habitual acts, that their conversion by other means than that of sincere conviction was not only undesired by us, but would be dreaded, as the introduction of vices and superstitions within the pale of our religion. They who, by their un-English cowardice in all matters of morals; who, by their steady bartering of the name and form of Christianity for supposed favour with Brahmins and Moollahs; who, by abetting heathen ceremonies and administering persecuting heathen laws, by shutting up the Sepoy from all Christian enlightenment, and making the army a hotbed of anti- Christian prejudices, kept a perpetual magazine of disaffection in the country, and then applied to it the match of the greased cartridges, now turn round upon those against whom their policy has been all along directed, and untruly say, 'The mischief is your doing.' When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.
Again, one of the most immediate results will be, the revival in the native mind of the old dread of British valour. For years we have ceased to meet native hosts with small bands; our armies, from the days of Lord Hastings down, have assumed proportions which complimented every enemy with the show of meeting him on equal terms; and besides, European and Sepoy qualities have been confounded, the fire of the British regiment inspiring its neighbour, the soul of the British officer animating his men. In this state of things, the deeds done by handfuls of English in the heroic days of Clive and Lawrence, Wellesley and Lake, had faded from the native memory; and many Sepoy regimens probably thought themselves quite a match for British ones. Their first trial at Meerut seemed to justify such an idea. But since that day, how often has the brow of the rebel darkened and furrowed with terror, as he heard the tale of what tens and twenties of Britons have done! Five hundred attacking ten thousand, and frightening them away, as at Agra; a handful holding Lucknow against all the forces of the kingdom; another handful holding Cawnpore; less than three hundred scattering three thousand at Benares; and the fearful charges of the Rifles at Delhi, when, ten against a hundred, they dash forward with the cry, 'Remember the Ladies,—Remember the Babies,' and everything flies before them: these are feats which heroes can appreciate, and which cowards will feel to the depths of their soul. They will tell, too, of that officer at Agra who killed five-and- twenty men; of poor Skene, who, after cutting down six or seven, saw his wife seized, and then, drawing the pistol he had reserved, sent one ball through her heart, and the other through his own head; and of Miss Wheeler, the daughter of the gallant Sir Hugh, who shot five with a revolver before they secured her. Against such tales they can set those of women ripped, mutilated, stripped naked, sold by auction, burned alive; babies hacked and cast into the flames; husbands mutilated, and compelled to witness the dishonour of their wives; but none of heroism or prowess. They have never gained an action in the field, no matter what their odds; never carried a position against British arms, no matter how few. Their success has been only by murder, not once by victory. In the history of the world there never was a rebellion with such means and advantages, which effected so little. The old heroic fame of British prowess rises up anew from the annals of every encounter, except the first at Meerut; from Lucknow, from Cawnpore, from the banks of the Ravee, and the field of Futteypore; and for at least another generation the records of great deeds will be alive in the memory of the people; the deeds no longer of the first conquerors, but of the modern British troops, fighting not against undisciplined hordes, but trained and picked battalions. Nothing is so forcible an instrument of command over the Hindus as a sense of personal prowess; for this goes deeper into their hearts than either admiration of military science, or a sense of the benefits of good government. This grand element of our national ascendancy has received, and is now receiving, wonderful illustration.
Nor will the display of our military resources be less signal than that of individual heroism. Before this outbreak all the world have agreed in saying, that the total defection of the Bengal army must overthrow our power in that Presidency. Yet this has occurred, and that at a time when the British force was extremely weak; but after three months have elapsed, the revolted army has not secured a single Province; Oude, its home and stronghold, being at the last date swept by a British army, while its capital had never been without a garrison. And not in a single place, where a British force was stationed, had they maintained themselves for a day, not even at Dinapore, before poor General Lloyd. At the same time Ceylon sends men and guns; the Mauritius, men and guns; the Chinese expedition becomes an army of reserve, and by this time the Cape of Good Hope has probably sent its men and guns; and by the time these have ceased to arrive, will begin to appear noble hosts from England, in steamers and sailing ships, which will swell our forces to eighty-seven thousand Britons,—enough to sweep India, were it all in arms, from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas, and from the Himalayas back again to Cape Comorin. We exaggerate to ourselves the smallness of the military resources of England, and we teach others to do the same; but this Indian rebellion will show us, and show the natives, what neither of us knew before, that by British bayonets alone we could conquer again and again the length and breadth of immense India. Time never saw an army so far distant from its own country, equal to that which we shall have in India in three months. Our steamers, well placed on the rivers, could alone command half of the great cities.
But some ulterior plans will soon present themselves before us, and demand our judgment, and require our prompt approval and our firm support. When the trouble is past, what then? What is to be the future policy of England in India? Is it to be a temporizing, hollow, half- Hindu policy, attempting to bolster up an insecure power, by choking our national faith and principles? or is it to be a manly English policy, taking our stand as what we are, rulers; rulers now by double right, and well-tested strength; rulers who have a character which we proclaim to be higher than that of the people we rule, a religion more enlightened, laws and institutions more benign, and a will which we mean shall command? Nothing is more remarkable than the difference of tone between the letters of practical men, residents in India, which have appeared, and the words of politicians, more or less affecting knowledge of Indian questions. Several of the latter, and among them, to judge by its quibbling dispatch on the Southal question, the Court of Directors, clearly feel inclined to do a little more duty for the Brahmins, to repent of the exceedingly small measures of Christian truth and justice to which we have ever dared to commit ourselves, and to 'behave ourselves' like good friends of every abomination, however much opposed to us and our interests, as well as to the Christian faith, provided only it be well pleasing to the potentates whom we subserve. On the other hand, men writing from the midst of the dangers say straightforwardly and strongly that this must end the reign of double-dealing and temporizing for ever; that we must let the natives know that we are masters, and that India is to be ruled not by either Brahmins or Moolahs, but by Englishmen, with English ends, and English principles. To this latter section we at once declare our adherence. We must henceforth feel and assume that we are not in India by permission, but by power. We now hold the country not by the good will of the Brahmins; but alone by the good hand of God, and the strength of the English people. If the Government can rely on Brahmins in time of danger, let it court them; if it can only rely on the people of England, if it can only invoke the providence of God, let it follow a Christian policy.
We are far from joining in the wild, savage, yet natural cry for a bloody retribution, wherewith our journals have horrified all Europe. Let meet and dignified punishment be administered to murderers and mutineers; but let no deed give the heathen the impression that our excitement at their crimes springs not from horror, but from emulation. As to the mosques, the towers, and the palaces of Delhi, we should be glad that not a stone remained; as to the homes of the common people, we would leave them alone. Let Britain sweep before her everything that resists, but let the defenceless feel that they have no enemy in Christian armies. With the native Princes we would be equally tolerant: their caution in the present case shows that having something to lose is not without its weight. Those who have been actively loyal ought to be well rewarded.
We are equally far from advising persecution for religion or caste; let Hindu, Mussulman, and Sikh, as heretofore, feel that, under Christian rule, his conscience is as free as air. Let no trifling with temples, processions, or questions of caste, give the impression that our Government charges itself with the direction of religious movements. Let every man be sacredly protected in his liberties; but, on the other hand, let the Government frankly say, 'We are Christians, and our religion is on the footing of the most favoured; no heritage shall be alienated, no civil penalty suffered, for becoming a Christian; no act, such as a re-marriage of a widow, consistent with Christian morals, shall be punishable; no rite stained by cruelty or obscenity publicly permitted.' Above all, let them say, 'We force no one to be educated, we leave all free; but if schools are provided by us, they must teach physical truths which overturn Brahminism, and therefore it is right that they should teach moral truths which lay a basis for purer religion.' There is something terrible in the fact that, at this moment, when heathenism is showing us what it is, our authorities are actually expunging from school books such sentences as, 'God is a Spirit;' showing not only their cowardice, but their ignorance; for that is a sentence which every Brahmin in India would call beautiful. The day for such trading in creeds and principles is past: either let us keep out of education entirely, or be honest, and teach what we believe to those who are willing to be instructed. We should deprecate active interference, on the part of the Government, to procure conversions; but why dread them, show a jealousy, and discourage them in every way short of actual persecution? This has been our craven policy, and has hindered many from becoming Christians. Had Sepoys, clerks, and all classes been assured of protection, every regiment and every public office might now have contained Christians, who would have felt their interest one with ours, and been ready to discover any plot.
We plead then for an English, an eminently English policy; tolerant, liberal, free; but frank and courageous, as becomes our honour, our valour, and our Christianity. With the noble institutions which have blessed ourselves, let us confront all opposition; and the people who would begin new courses of agitation at any sign of double-dealing, will respect, obey, and soon imitate us, when they see that we are true to ourselves, and resolved to be so. There must be no receding from one step taken in advance, no sop to mutiny, no shred of pretence for any future conspirator to argue that murders will make Englishmen give way. Even if, after long years of experiment, it should prove that measures having some complexion of Christianity had better be repealed, (which time will never show,) it would be madness to think of retracing any steps now.
With an English policy we must have an English force. We are not prepared to say that a native army can be altogether dispensed with, although Colonel Macdonald's arguments to that effect have been left unanswered, by those who have written on the other side. But this we say without the shadow of a doubt, that, with railways completed throughout India, the country would be far more secure with 80,000 European troops than it was without railways with all the Sepoy hordes. There may be Sepoys still; but let them be few; money will he better spent in making roads. Lord Stanley's proposal of quickly constructed and cheap lines struck us, at the time it was made. as one of the best ever brought forward; and how much has all that has since transpired confirmed this view! It is to be hoped that his Lordship will return to this practical suggestion in great earnest when Parliament next meets.
With English troops we also want to see English settlers. Among the many errors of the East India Company, not one of the least has been its blind adherence to a policy which discouraged British independent enterprise in the country. This jealousy began in the days of trading, when the Company's servants wanted all the field for fortune-making to themselves. But it has retained a pertinacious and baneful vitality. Rather than encourage the influx of British capital, energy, and loyalty, they have fostered the opium trade, the most accursed commerce, after the Slave Trade, which ever disgraced a nominally Christian Government. We do not expect that the discouragement of settlers will end till Leadenhall Street is ended; for there the 'covenanted service' is sacred as Brahmins in Bernares. For that service we have high regard; many of its members are among the best of men, and most valuable of officers; but the present events have shown of what value planters are in a time of difficulty; and had the independent British residents counted by hundreds instead of by tens, many a centre of information and influence, many a refuge and defence, would have been provided in the day of danger. Few as they were, some of the planters did the Government great service.
The petition of the British inhabitants of Calcutta falls with terrible effect on the men in power there. We reluctantly join any cry against those who, at a great crisis, are charged with
overwhelming responsibility. We give the members of Lord Canning's Council credit for doing all of which they are capable; but our own impression of their incompetence and want of principle is painful. His Lordship is surrounded by very little men, and has proved incapable of rising above them. We cordially wish to see the Queen assume the reins of power over all the empire.
Looking at the disasters which have befallen us, we may both console ourselves that they were not merited from the people, and at the same time feel that they are not unmerited from the God of our nation. Judging ourselves by Hindu standards, the peop1e owed us nothing but gratitude. We have ruled them better than they ever were ruled; given them for the first time repose, security, and freedom; and brought into their country improvements which no other Asiatic race have yet received. But judging ourselves by Christian standards, we must not wonder that chastisements have overtaken us. If our women hare been disgraced, how many of those of India have our officers and troops dishonoured! Have we not on that soil permitted wholesale murders of widows and of old men, under pretext of religion? and though we interposed, at last, on behalf of the former, the ghaut murders of the Ganges—that Ganges which ran red at Cawnpore with English blood—still continue. Have we not introduced licensed drinking-houses, to debauch the people, for profit? Have we not fed on the odious opium revenue? Have we not trafficked in prostitution and the obscenest idolatry by our temple subsidies? Have we not steadfastly befriended Heathenism and Mohammedism, and yielded to Christianity the commonest liberties only inch by inch, as it was necessitated by public opinion? Have we not shut out, as far as possible, the name and fear of God from our schools and Sepoys, and placed our confidence in opposing His Gospel?
The Christian people of England must hear a call to awake in the chastisements which have smitten us so sorely. Men whose thoughts go no higher than secular interests will naturally incline to their old courses of petting superstition, of dreading light and truth. But those who believe in a Ruler who smiles on goodness, and bids light speed with His blessing, will see in the new disclosures, now made, of heathen hearts, strong reason for more exertion to mollify them with the Gospel; and in the disasters of a Government carefully non- Christian, a loud proclamation, that, to secure God's protection, we must fulfil His mission, and enlighten the hand committed to our care.
We look steadily into the future. The trial long past, the new order established, and what then? Our comfort is that the destiny of India will be hastened by this awful providence. When a great work is to be accomplished for which mere human measures are hopelessly inadequate, the Almighty is wont to interpose by extraordinary means,—by means which man could not conceive and dare not execute; from which we first shrink in terror before we bow to them in gratitude. Perhaps it is so in the case of this terrible visitation. Mercy not only 'seasons justice,' but inspires it. Nothing less than a sword to 'go through the land' will plough up the field for the reception of humanizing and immortal truths. Nothing but a social earthquake could break up that system of consolidated wrongs which we call India. The curse of its native rule was the twofold curse of idolatry and oppression; it has groaned for ages under the tyranny of 'gods many and lords many.' And now that we are about more thoroughly to supersede the rapacious and cruel rule of its chiefs, it will behoove us to put to shame its foolish and obscene 'divinities' by the exhibition of a purer worship. If we take the country and its people for our beloved Queen, shall we not put both it and them under the protection of the same true God? It is only as we are faithful henceforth to the spirit of our own institutions, civil and religious, that we may profit by this dreadful lesson, and hope to see the slow but steady light of prosperity advance above the plains and heights of Hindustan.
Last modified 10 October 2007