Page images
PDF
EPUB

re

upon. It also ushered in a period of ment with which they had to deal was great legislative activity, of numerous implicated. It was clear from them codes of law, designed to weld together that the sepoys had been made to beas far as possible the heterogeneous lieve that we intended to destroy their populations of the empire. These are caste by contaminating the cartridges outside the scope of the book before us, which they had to bite with a mixture which, however, in the stirring incidents of cow's fat and lard-one abhorrent to of an eventful period does not lose sight the Hindu, the other to the Mussulman. of the steady development and concen- Lord Roberts uses the expression “made tration of military strength and se- to believe;" but extraordinary as it will curity.

always appear to the historian who apLord Roberts arrived in India just five preciates the strength of the religious years before the Mutiny broke out. He sentiment amongst Hindus and Matook an active part in the leading events homedans, the fanaticism with which of the fierce struggle which ensued, and they cling to their religious ideas and in after years his life was spent in the the animosity with which they reperplexities and constant conflicts in- garded what they considered a covert rolved in our relations to the tribes on attempt to compel the adoption of Christhe north-western frontier, and in the tianity after the destruction of caste, erentual establishment of that scientific there was ample ground for their infrontier which, aided by a political tense dissatisfaction. The recent understanding with Afghanistan, is to searches of Mr. Forrest in the records of be the first line of defence against any the government of India, says Lord hostile attack which the future may Roberts (i. 431), prove that "the lubrihave in store for us.

cating mixture used in preparing the The most astounding characteristic cartridges was actually composed of the of the years just before the Mutiny was objectionable ingredients, cow's fat and the infatuated sense of security which lard, and that incredible disregard of perraded all classes of Europeans. On the soldiers' religious prejudices was the rery ere of the outbreak there was displayed in the manufacture of these no suspicion at all amongst the officers cartridges.” The sepoys complained: serving with native regiments that dis- but their officers, in the belief that such content was universal amongst the utter indiscretion amongst the authorsepoys, and that a mutiny of the whole ities was impossible, assured their men Bengal army was imminent. The re- that the mixture useil was perfectly unliance on natire fidelity on the part of objectionable. Nothing was easier than those officers was so unbounded that, for the men quartered near Calcutta to eren after half the native army had ascertain from natives employed in mutinied, the officers belonging to the manufacturing cartridges at Fort Wilremaining regiments could not be liam arsenal that these assurances were brought to believe that any treachery contrary to the fact. Distrust accordTurked in the minds of their own par- ingly spread far and wide. The not ticular men. They remonstrated, in unnatural belief was held that gorernmany cases passionately, almost to the ment and officers were determined to point of insubordination, against meas- undermine their religion. The suddenures of disarmament, when these in- ness with which an elaborately organrolred imputations on the loyalty of ized and general mutiny burst upon us their own immediate regiment. Yet the must be attributed to the general sentievidence forthcoming of widespread ment of abhorrence and desperation disaffection was overwhelming. The which had been so wantonly provoked; Punjab officials on the first outbreak to the infatuation which blinded those laid hands on all native correspondence whom wisdom after the event convicts in the post-office. They found that the of having had numerous warnings; to number of seditious papers was alarm- the existence of a military system in ingly great, and that every native regi- which natives stood to Englishmen in the proportion of six to one, and were dent in our favor was the outbreak of trusted to guard—that is, were trusted hostilities with China, and Lord Elgin's with the possession of-almost all the timely diversion of troops to Calcutta, arsenals and magazines, the British which had been intended for Canton. officers in principal command being, in The fourth incident was that in this too many instances, men who were worn critical moment of the history of the out in mind and body by long residence native race of India, no leader of any in the country. Blind confidence on the mind or mark came to the front. If part of the British, intense (lissatisfac- those four incidents of the position had tion on the part of the natives, and their been wanting, and we had been depossession, actual or imminent, of arms, prived of the advantages which they ammunition, and places of strength, are combined to confer, the impression left amply sufficient to account for the re- on our minds from Lord Roberts's narrabellion.

tive of the portentous struggle which The political position of Great Britain ensued is, that the rebellion would at that time influenced, no doubt, the never have been suppressed nor India proceedings of the chiefs of the Mutiny. reconquered in the summary way deThe prestige of British arms had been scribed. We should have had to withseriously damaged in Afghanistan only draw within narrow limits, and begin sixteen years before, and the early dis- most of the work afresh. asters and mismanagement of the Cri- The thrilling tale of the marvellous mean expedition had not retrieved it. achievements by which empire was sucIt is well known that Nana Sahib's confi- cessfully restored within a year and a dential agent, Azimula Khan, visited the half of the first outbreaks at Berhampur Crimea during the siege of Sebastopol. and Meerut is unfolded in these volumes. He had been three years in London, a Lord Roberts took an active part in man of no rank at all, received and many of them. He was at Peshawur fêted as a royal prince in that ridiculous when the telegram of the 11th May, way which our social enthusiasms sug- 1857, arrived, which proved to be a mesgest. His correspondence was seized, sage from Delhi “to all stations in the and it was discovered that the Nana Punjab” that a very serious outbreak Sahib had widespread relations with had occurred at Meerut, and that Delhi Turkey, the king of Delhi, the na wabhad joined in the Mutiny. The first of Oudh, and other great personages. thing for those at Peshawur to do was Both he and his crafty agent were to secure the Punjab. The course delooked upon as harmless exemplary cided on was to trust the chiefs and creatures; the latter was engaged to an people, and to form a movable column, English girl, and one of his letters from to act where it was wanted. To Roban elderly dame in England called him erts's great satisfaction (it is always his her dear Eastern son. On the other good luck to which he attributes his hand, there were some incidents in the selection) he was appointed staff-officer political position favorable to us. Lord to its commander. He remained with it Dalhousie had concluded a treaty with until the progress of events urgently rethe ameer of Afghanistan, which kept quired the presence at Delhi of all artilthe Afghans quiet during a period when, lery officers not doing regimental duty. had they turned against us, we should From the 28th June onwards he took assuredly have lost the Punjab, and part in that memorable siege and in its probably the whole country north of it. final capture. That siege was typical The Sikhs had been conquered, and had of the whole struggle. It was a siege passed from open hostility to equally of a fortress of enormous strength held by sincere friendship. Throughout the untold thousands of armed men trained Mutiny they remained perfectly loyal, to war and in possession of our arms and performed the important service of and ammunition, by a force of 3.217 keeping open communication between British, with Sikhs and Gurkas, the Delhi and the Punjab). The third inci- total never reaching ten thousand troops of all kinds. The besiegers were again masters of Delhi; in the afternoon themselves besieged; there was no re- the last of the Mogul emperors surtreat; and if success were delayed, the rendered, and was brought into the Punjab authorities were convinced that city; on the 230 Nicholson died. there would be a struggle for European The fall of Delhi broke the back of the existence within the Punjab itself. rebellion. Failure, or even too longGeneral Wilson hesitated, face to face delayed success, would have put a with what seemed to be absolutely im- strain on the loyalty of the people bepossible, to take a stronghold by force, yond what it could bear. The general only to find himself amongst enemies opinion was, and is, that Sikhs and who were vastly superior in numbers Punjabis would have risen. To carry and position. An incident is given which Delhi the Punjab had been denuded of marks the intense determination to troops, but after its fall there still which the real leaders of the British remained the task of opening up comforce had worked themselves as they munication with Cawnpore and Luckgrasped the calamitous and far-reach- now. Accordingly, the very day after ing consequences which delay would Delhi fell a column was despatched to hare involved. Nicholson had resolved Cawnpore, and the Punjab was still left that if a particular council of war hes- to take care of itself. itated to assault, he would propose the Roberts was attached to this column, supersession of General Wilson-an which consisted of seven hundred and unprecedentedly extreme step to take fifty British and nineteen hundred nain presence of the enemy. Lord Rob- tives, and at once, the day after erts, at this distance of time, and after Nicholson's death, marched out of Delhi frequent discussion with others, be to open up the country between the lieres that Nicholson would have been Jumna and the Ganges. An urgent right, for if Wilson had refused to sanc- summons from Sir James Outram at the tion the assault, desperate as it seemed, Lucknow Residency reached them, he would have proved himself unfit for begging for aid as soon as possible, as the post. The whole of the wonderful provisions were running short. On the narrative is given in this book, with an 26th October they arrived at Cawnpore, amount of detail which must render it and for the first time heard the terrible extremely valuable to all military story of what had happened there. students. Nicholson will ever remain They learned also that Havelock and the hero of the capture of Delhi. He Outram, with little more than three has won his place in history as one of thousand men, had forced their way the greatest heroes whom the human through Lucknow, only to find themrace has produced. His threat, after he selves surrounded by a vast multitude was mortally wounded, to shoot his owu of the enemy. Outram wished the recommander-in-chief if he wavered when lieving force under Sir Colin Campsurrounded and outnumbered, in the bell to be spared the necessity of remidst of the city into which the small peating this experience, and pointed out besieging army had forced its way, is a different line of advance, which was one of the most striking incidents in adopted. Roberts with his column took the annals of war. The spirit which a foremost part in the wonderful saved our empire in India was the spirit achievement by which the Lucknow of determination, inextinguishable even garrison was relieved, which was carin death. One feels that the triumph of ried out in every particular as originally the besieging force was enhanced by planned, thus demonstrating with what the knowledge that Nicholson lived till care each detail had been thought out we had occupied the palace and had and each movement executed. The fall gained complete possession of the whole of Lucknow, which was effected on the city. At sunrise on the 21st September, 14 March, 1858, completed what the fall 1857, just seven days after the assault, a of Delhi had begun. the suppression of royal salute proclaimed that we were the Mutiny so far that every native

com

must from that moment have despaired inevitable consequences which would of success. The remaining struggles ensue if an outbreak occurred at the were against men rendered desperate beginning of the hot season which was by their crimes, who, as they had for- not immediately suppressed. It seems feited all right to clemency, determined unintelligible, looking at the whole to sell their lives on the field of battle. position with the wisdom which follows To that category belongs the resistance the event, that warnings as to such which the Gwaliors offered both at Agra obvious necessity should have been reand Cawnpore. Jhansi, no doubt, re- quired, and still more that they should mained to be subjugated, as also the rest have been disregarded. When he first of Oudh, Rohilkand, and Central India; heard of the outbreak at Meerut, he telebut there was no very important city or graphed to the new governor-general, stronghold in the hands of the enemy. Lord Canning, at once to send to China Sir Hugh Rose's operations in Jhansi and Ceylon for British troops, to call on and Central India do not fall within the the Nepalese to assist, and to give him scope of this book. On the 1st April, that military control in his province 1858, there was a force of ninety-six which would enable him to control the thousand British soldiers in India, more elderly military officers, who were not than twice the number which existed to be relied upon, and who had in Oudh, before the Mutiny broke out, besides a as well as in many other places, to be large body of reliable native troops. By effaced when the troubles began. Lawthat date the reconquest of India by the rence's influence with the natives entriumphant suppression of the Mutiny abled him to delay the outbreak at was effected.

Lucknow until his measures for the While Nicholson's name will always defence of the Residency were be associated with Delhi, and those of pleted, and to induce a considerable Havelock and Outram and Sir Colin number of sepoys not only to continue Campbell with Lucknow, the latter city in their allegiance, but to share the dancannot fail to recall that of Sir Henrygers and privations of the siege—"a Lawrence, one of the greatest names priceless service," says Lord Roberts, in British India prior to the Mutiny. "for without their aid the defence could Not merely was it his foresight and not have been made.” We have no activity, as Lord Roberts points out, space to describe the enormous diffiwhich rendered the defence of Lucknow .culties in the way of organizing the depossible against such tremendous odds fence of a place where there was no for so long a time; but he was appar- fort and no magazine. Interesting as ently the only European in India who they are, they yield at this distance of had foreseen the catastrophe of the time to the interest of a remarkable Mutiny, and who from the very first and powerful character. Before the end moment of its outbreak had accurately of May, in the midst of his own efforts estimated its portentous gravity. No and preparation, he wrote to Lord Can. one commanded more thoroughly than ning to point out that the desperateness he did the enthusiastic loyalty and of our position might be measured by obedience of the natives, and no one the rising insolence of the natives. “It

thoroughly appreciated and was only just after the Kabul mastrusted their many good qualities. Yet sacre,” he wrote, “and when we hesifourteen years before 1857 he had pre- tated to advance through the Khyber, dicted the Mutiny, and the course it that in my memory such a tone has ever would take. In the Calcutta Review of before prevailed." 1843 he had commented on the habitual The political interest of this stupencarelessness of the government, and its dous event culminates in a due appredisregard of ordinary military precau- ciation of the causes which led to it, tions and preparations. He had shown and of the means by which its recurhow possible it was for a hostile party rence may be prevented. Lord Roberts to seize Delhi, and had pointed to the discusses both questions in his 30th and following chapters, and the point of tion to the danger of allowing a Mohammost practical importance in his book edan prince, with all the surroundings , is whether those views will be allowed of royalty, to remain at the seat of the to influence policy in the future. A long old Mogul government. That danger period of comparative rest and tran- should have been abolished at the time. quillity had obscured in the minds of But the East India Company had from the natives all memory of their ante- the time of Lord Clive, and by virtue of cedent feuds, and race and religious dis- what was called a grant of the dewanny cords. Had the Mutiny been successful obtained by that nobleman, governed and no native leader of statesmaulike India as the transferee of Mogul sovcapacity appeared on the scene, the ereignty, Queen Victoria's sovereignty, anarchy which would have resulted, the not being proclaimed till 1858. That scenes of turbulent confusion and op- fiction was convenient when it was pression which must have followed the first resorted to, and it took time disappearance of our authority, would to die a natural death. By Lord Dalbave served to facilitate the task of re- housie's time it was likely forgotten. conquest. At the time all British The Mogul family probably recollected authorities were most anxious to make it, and accordingly it was to their init clearly understood that it was not a tense humiliation and disgust that they general insurrection of the whole coun- were removed from Delhi, and deprived try against our rule, but a mutiny of of the title of king after the death of its soldiers against their officers. No one actual holder. Before the Mutiny broke was more emphatic on that subject than out the king of Delhi was intriguing the late Sir George Campbell. But it is with the shah of Persia, and a proconly partially true. There is evidence lamation was issued calling on all true of considerable disaffection and discon- believers to rise and fight against the tent on the part of the great landowners infidels, for the Persians were coming. and potentates, most of whom had real The part played by the king of Delhi or fancied grievances. The greased was suffi nt to prevent the Mutiny cartridges were quite sufficient to ac- being exclusively an affair of disconcount for the mutiny of the soldiers, tented soldiery. since they were not merely destructive Another circumstance which showed in themselves of their caste, but were the political character of the movement believed to be intentionally directed to was the effect produced on the minds of that end-an end which it is unneces- native chiefs by Lord Dalhousie's syssary to explain was ruinous to their tem of rapid annexation, culminating position in this world and the next. in the annexation of Oudh. The enStill, a mutiny of that portentous char- croachments of the East India company acter must have leaders of wealth and in former generations, and the estabposition, and these leaders must also lishment of its power, were acquiesced bare grievances which excite them to in. They put an end to a period of instake life and fortune on the result of a tolerable strife and political confusion, desperate enterprise. The most promi- and they co-existed with considerable nent of these leaders were the aged native dominions. So long as the politititular king of Delhi, the ex-king of cal result was that a balance of power Oudh, and the Nana Sahib. The two between ourselves and native statesformer led the Mahomedans, the latter Mahratta, Rajput, Sikh, or Mahomedan the Hindus. The special grievance of -remained, they were prevented by the king of Delhi was that we had their mutual jealousies and religious decided that the title of king, which we differences from combining against us. had bestowed on the successors of the Lord Dalhousie's annexations, culmiMogul emperor, should on his death be nating in the seizure of Oudh, destroyed abolished and his family removed from that balance, and rendered us in India Delbi. Lord Wellesley, at the begin- what we now claim to be in South ding of the century, had drawn atten- Africa, the predominant power. Hos

more

« EelmineJätka »