Skip to main content

Full text of "History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8;"

See other formats











VOL. I. 






All rights reserved 


Transferred from W. H. Allen &* Co. to 
Longmans , Green &* Co., February 1896. 

Re-issued in Silver Library , August 1897. 

Reprinted June 1898. 

Re-issued in new style, July 1898. 

Reprinted January 1906, March 1909, and 
August 1 9 14. 






. . . Fob to think that an handful of people can, ■with tub 







In preparing a new, and, if I may so call it, a consolidated, 
edition of the History of the Indian Mutiny — that is, an edition 
in which Colonel Malleson's three volumes of continuation are 
blended with the two initiatory volumes of Sir John Kaye — 
I have had to encounter few difficulties beyond those of form. 
By difficulties of form I mean differences of arrangement, and 
differences in the spelling of Indian proper names. It seemed 
to me absolutely essential that in both these respects the two 
works should be brought into complete accord. I have, there- 
fore, met the first difficulty by substituting, in Sir John Kaye's 
volumes, an initial " Table of Contents " for the chapter head- 
ings. Such a table, apart from other considerations, is more 
useful to a reader who may desire to refer to a particular 
incident. "With respect to the other difference it was impossible 
to hesitate. The spelling of the past, based upon the impres- 
sions made upon men, ignorant of the Native languages, by the 
utterances of the Natives, a spelling based upon no system, and 
therefore absolutely fortuitous, has in these latter days given 
place to a spelling founded upon the actual letters which repre- 
sent the jdaces indicated. In its General Orders and in its 
Gazettes the Government of India of the present day adopts 
the enlightened system of spelling drawn up by Dr. Hunter, 
and this system has been adopted generally by the Indian 
Press, and by residents in India. Between the alternative of 
adhering to a barbarous system, fast dying if not already dead, 
and the more enlightened system of the present and of the 
future, there could not be a moment's hesitation. I have 
adapted, then, Sir John Kaye's spelling of Indian proper names 
to one more in accordance with modern usage, and in every 
respect more correct. In the text, I need scarcely say, I have 
not changed even a comma. That text remains, in these 
volumes, as he wrote and published it. Some of the indices, 


the interest in which has waned, if not altogether died out, 
have been omitted ; some have been abridged ; and in one 
instance the salient part has been transferred to the note to 
which it properly belonged. Colonel Malleson's three volumes 
have naturally met with far less indulgence at my hands. 
When these shall be published the reader will find that the 
severest critic of a work may be its author. 

The work, when completed, will consist of Sir John Kaye's 
first and second volumes and of Colonel Malleson's three. These, 
with the index, will make six volumes. It is needless to 
discuss all the reasons why Colonel Malleson's first volume has 
been preferred to Sir John Kaye's third, for one will suffice. 
Kaye's third volume would not fit in with Malleson's second 
volume, as it concludes with the story of the storming of Dehli, 
which forms the first chapter of Malleson's second volume, 
whilst it omits the relief of Lakhnao, the account of which 
concludes Malleson's first volume. 

I may add that on the few occasions on which I have deemed 
it absolutely necessary to append a note, that note bears the 
initials of the Editor. 

G. B. M. 

Ut October, 1888. 


It was not without muck hesitation that I undertook to write 
this narrative of the events, which have imparted so painful 
a celebrity to the years 1857-58, and left behind them such 
terrible remembrances. Publicly and privately I had been 
frequently urged to do so, before I could consent to take upon 
myself a responsibility, which could not sit lightly on any one 
capable of appreciating the magnitude of the events themselves 
and of the many grave questions which they suggested. If, 
indeed, it had not been that, in course of time, I found, either 
actually in my hands or within my reach, materials of history 
such as it was at least improbable that any other writer could 
obtain, I should not have ventured upon so difficult a task. 
But having many important collections of papers in my posses- 
sion, and having received promises of further assistance from 
surviving actors in the scenes to be described, I felt that, 
though many might write a better history of the Sipahi War, 
no one could write a more truthful one. 

So, relying on these external advantages to compensate all 
inherent deficiencies, I commenced what I knew must be a 
labour of years, but what I felt would be also a labour of love. 
My materials were too ample to be otherwise than most 
sparingly displayed. The prodigal citation of authorities has 
its advantages ; but it encumbers the text, it impedes the 
narrative, and swells to inordinate dimensions the record of 
historical events. On a former occasion, when I laid before 
the public an account of a series of important transactions, 
mainly derived from original documents, public and private, 
I quoted those documents freely both in the text and in the 
notes. As I was at that time wholly unknown to the public, 
it was necessary that I should cite chapter and verse to obtain 
credence for my statements. There was no ostensible reason 

a 2 


why I should have known more about those transactions than 
any other writer (for it was merely the accident of private 
friendships and associations that placed such profuse materials 
in my possession), and it seemed to be imperative upon me 
therefore to produce my credentials. But, believing that this 
necessity no longer exists, I have in the present work abstained 
from adducing my authorities, for the mere purpose of sub- 
stantiating my statements. I have quoted the voluminous 
correspondence in my possession only where there is some 
dramatic force and propriety in the words cited, or when they 
appear calculated, without impeding the narrative, to give 
colour and vitality to the story. 

And here I may observe that, as on former occasions, the 
historical materials which I have moulded into this narrative 
are rather of a private than of a public character. I have 
made but little use of recorded official documents. I do not 
mean that access to such documents has not been extremely 
serviceable to me ; but that it has rather afforded the means of 
verifying or correcting statements received from other sources 
than it has supplied me with original materials. So far as 
respects the accumulation of facts, this History would have 
differed but slightly from what it is, if I had never passed the 
door of a public office ; and, generally, the same may be said of 
the opinions which I have expressed. Those opinions, whether 
sound or unsound, are entirely my own personal opinions- 
opinions in many instances formed long ago, and confirmed by 
later events and more mature consideration. No one but myself 
is responsible for them ; no one else is in any way identified 
with them. In the wide range of inquiry embraced by the 
consideration of the manifold causes of the great convulsion of 
1857, almost every grave question of Indian government and 
administration presses forward, with more or less importunity, 
for notice. Where, on many points, opinions widely differ, and 
the policy, which is the practical expression of them, takes 
various shapes, it is a necessity that the writer of cotemporary 
history, in the exercise of independent thought, should find 
himself dissenting from the doctrines and disapproving the 
actions of some authorities, living and dead, who are worthy of 
all admiration and respect. It is fortunate, when, as in the 
present instance, this difference of opinion involves no diminu- 
tion of esteem, and the historian can discern worthy motives, and 
benevolent designs, and generous strivings after good, in those 


whose ways he may think erroneous, and whose course of action 
he may deem unwise. 

Indeed, the errors of which I have freely spoken were, for 
the most part, strivings after good. It was in the over-eager 
pursuit of Humanity and Civilisation that Indian statesmen of 
the new school were betrayed into the excesses which have 
been so grievously visited upon the nation. The story of the 
Indian Rebellion of 1857 is, perhaps, the most signal illustration 
of our great national character ever yet recorded in the annals 
of our country. It was the vehement self-assertion of the 
Englishman that produced this conflagration ; it was the same 
vehement self-assertion that enabled him, by God's blessing, to 
trample it out. It was a noble egotism, mighty alike in 
doing and in suffering, and it showed itself grandly capable of 
steadfastly confronting the dangers which it had brought down 
upon itself. If I have any predominant theory it is this : 
Because we were too English the great crisis arose ; but it was 
only because we were English that, when it arose, it did not 
utterly overwhelm us. 

It is my endeavour, also, to show how much both of the 
dangers which threatened British dominion in the East, and of 
the success with which they were encountered, is assignable to 
the individual characters of a few eminent men. With this 
object I have sought to bring the reader face to face with the 
principal actors in the events of the Sipahi War, and to take a 
personal interest in them. If it be true that the best history 
is that which most nearly resembles a bundle of biographies, it 
is especially true when said with reference to Indian history ; 
for nowhere do the characters of individual Englishmen impress 
themselves with a more vital reality upon the annals of the 
country in which they live ; nowhere are there such great 
opportunities of independent action ; nowhere are developed 
such capacities for evil or for good, as in our great Anglo-Indian 
Empire. If, then, in such a work as this, the biographical 
element were not prominently represented — if the individualities 
of such men as Dalhousie and Canning, as Henry and John 
Lawrence, as James Outram, as John Nicholson, and Herbert 
Edwardes, were not duly illustrated, there would be not only 
a cold and colourless, but also an unfaithful, picture of the 
origin and progress of the War. But it is to be remarked that, 
in proportion as the individuality of the English leaders is 
distinct and strongly marked, that of the chiefs of the insurrec- 


tionary movement is faint and undecided. In the fact of this 
contrast we see the whole history of the success which, by God's 
providence, crowned the efforts of our countrymen. If the 
individual energies of the leaders of the revolt had been com- 
mensurate with the power of the masses, we might have failed 
to extinguish such a conflagration. But the whole tendency of 
the English system had been to crush out those energies ; so 
again, I say, we found in the very circumstances which had 
excited the rebellion the very elements of our success in sup- 
pressing it. Over the Indian Dead Level which that system had 
created, the English heroes marched triumphantly to victory. 

In conclusion, I have only to express my obligations to those 
who have enabled me to write this History by supplying me 
with the materials of which it is composed. To the executors 
of the late Lord Canning, who placed in my hands the private 
and demi-official correspondence of the deceased statesman, 
extending over the whole term of his Indian administration, I 
am especially indebted. To Sir John Lawrence and Sir Herbert 
Edwardes, wdio have furnished me with the most valuable 
materials for my narrative of the rising in the Panjab and the 
measures taken in that province for the re-capture of Dehli ; to 
the family of the late Colonel Baird Smith, for many interesting 
papers illustrative of the operations of the great siege ; to Sir 
James Outram, who gave me before his death his correspondence 
relating to the brilliant operations in Oudh ; to Sir Bobert 
Hamilton, for much valuable matter in elucidation of the 
history of the Central Indian Campaign; and to Mr. E. A. 
Beade, whose comprehensive knowledge of the progress of 
events in the North- Western Provinces has been of material 
service to me, my warmest acknowledgments are due. But to 
no one am I more indebted than to Sir Charles Wood, Secretary 
of State for India, who has permitted me to consult the official 
records of his Department — a privilege wmich has ennabled me 
to make much better use of the more private materials in my 
possession. No one, however, can know better or feel more 
strongly than myself, that much matter of interest contained in 
the multitudinous papers before me is unrepresented in my 
narrative. But such omissions are the necessities of a history 
so full of incident as this. If I had yielded to the temptation 
to use my illustrative materials more freely, I should, have 
expanded this work beyond all acceptable limits. 

London, October, 1864. 


Editor's Preface 
Author's Preface 






Administration of Lord Dalhousie . 

First Occupation of the Panjab 

Sir Henry Lawrence and the Council of Regency 

Character of Sir Henry Lawrence . 

Work of Lawrence and his School . 

Sir Frederick Currie succeeds Lawrence . 

The Marquess of Dalhousie . 

Mulraj and Multan .... 

The Attack on Vans Agnew and Anderson 
The second Sikh War .... 

Herbert Edwardes .... 

Siege of Multan ..... 

Defection of Sher Singh 
Chatar Singh rises in the Hazarah . 
Emphatic Declaration of Lord Dalhousie 
Lord Gough ..... 

Combat of Ramnagar .... 

Sir Henry Lawrence returns to India . 
Capture of Multan .... 

Chilianwala ...... 

The Afghans join the Sikhs . 

Decisive Battle of Gujrat 

Annexation of the Panjab, and reasons for the same 

Dhulip Singh ..... 

The Board of Administration . 

" They found much to do, little to undo " 

The Panjab System .... 

The Board of Administration superseded by Mr. John Lawrence 
Conquest and Annexation of Pegu ...... 






The Question of " Adoption " . . . . , 

Satarah aud the Right of Lapse .... 

Satarah is Annexed ...... 

Annexation of Nagpiir ...... 

Jhansi ......... 

Annexation of Jhansi .... 

Karauli ........ 

Lord Dalhousie is refused permission to annex Karauli 
Sambhalpur is annexed ...... 

Treatment of the Peshwa ..... 

Of his Heir ........ 

The Nana appeals to England .... 

His Appeal is rejected ...... 

Azim-ullah Khan ....... 

Empty Titular Dignities dangerous Possessions . 





Oudh ......... 

Early connection with Oudh ..... 

Misrule of the Kings of Oudh .... 

Problem before the Government of India . . 

Lord William Bentinck's Scheme rejected 

Views of Sir John Low ...... 

A fresh Treaty is signed with a new King 

The new Treaty foolishly disallowed by the Court of Directors 

Lord Hardinge warns Wajid Ali ..... 

Misrule of Wajid Ali 

Colonel Sleeman's Report ...... 

His Advice not to interfere with the Revenues of the Country 
Sir James Outram is sent to Oudh . ... 

Outrarn reports in favour of virtual Annexation . . 

Lord Dalhousie supports Outram's Views .... 

The Court of Directors approve . . • 

Outram is directed to enter and take possession of Oudh . 
Details of the annexation of Oudh ..... 




















Destruction of the Territorial Nobility of India 

Settlement Operations . 

The Talukdar .... 

The Administrative Agency . . 

The Thomason System . 

Treatment of the Native Gentry . 

Rent-free Tenures .... 

Resumption Operations . 

The Bombay Inam Commission . 

Depression of the Upper Classes . 





The Priesthood . . 

Progress of enlightenment 
Female Education. 
Re-marriage of Hindu Widows 
The Railway and the Telegraph 
Caste ..... 
Prison Discipline . 
Muhammadan Alarms . 
The Hindu and the Lotah 
Inflammability of the Native Mind 





India was won by the Sword ..... 

The Fidelity of the Native Army an accepted Theory 

Lord Dalhousie's Minute on the Sipahi Army 

First Sipahi Levies 

The first Mutiny in Bengal . 

Clive atid the Bengal Officers . 

Degradation of the Native Officer 

Effect of Caste on Discipline . 

The Sipahi Officer 

The Reorganisation of 1796 ,and its consequences 

Effect on the Sipahi of a Period of Peace . 

Mutiny at Velliir, and its Causes . 

Excitement at Haidarabad .... 

Conduct of the Nizam ..... 

Conspiracy at Nandidriig .... 

Is baffled by the Vigilance of Captain Baynes . 

Alarms at Paliamkotta .... 

And at Walajahabad ..... 

The Government disavow in a Proclamation the Plans attributed to 

them by the Natives .... 
Afterthoughts on the Causes of the Excitement 
Views of the Home Government 






Mutiny of the Madras Officers, 1809 

Contrast between the English Soldier and the Sip&hi 

Civil Privileges of the Sipahi . 

The Sipahi and his Officer .... 

The Policy of Centralisation, and its Consequences 

The Transfer of Officers to the Staff 

Grievances of the Soldiery . . 





The Reorganisation of 1824, and its Results 

The Dislike of the Bengal Sipahis to Shipboard 

The Mutiny at Barrackpur ...... 

The Half-Batta Order 

The Abolition of Corporal Punishment and its Reintroduction 





The effect of the Afghan War on the Sipahis 
Sindh and the Reduction of Extra-Batta 
Mutinies of the 34th N. I., the 7th L 

the 69th N. I 

Mutiny of the 6th Madras Cavalry . 

And of the 47th Madras N. I. . 

Penal Measures for Mutinous Regiments 

Disbandment simply an Expedient — and Ineffective . 

O, the 4th, the 64th, and 





The Patna Conspiracy .... , 222 

Mutiny of the 22nd N. I. at Rawalpindi 227 

Suppressed by Colin Campbell ....... 228 

Sir C. Napier makes a Tour of Inspection in the Panjab . . . 228 

Colonel Hearsey represses Incipient Mutiny at Wazirabad . . . 229 
The 66th N. I. Mutiny ; are baffled by the Gallantry of Macdonald ; 

and disbanded ......... 230 

Sir Charles Napier's Action is condemned by Lord Dalhousie . . 232 

Dalhousie is Supported by the Duke of Wellington, and Napier resigns 233 

Evil Effect of the Controversy on the Native Mind .... 234 

The just Grievances of the Sipahi are not recognised by the 

Authorities 236 


Moral Deterioration of the Sipahi . 

His Character ...... 

The Dangerous Feature of his Character . 

Its Better Side ...... 

Defects in the Military System affecting him . 

The Question of Caste considered . 

And of Nationalities ..... 

Of Separation from his Family 

Of the different Systems of Promotion 

Of the European Officers .... 

Of the Intermixture of European Troops . 
The Proportion of the Latter dangerously small 
Rumours current during the Crimean War 
Some Effects of the Annexation of Oudh . 
Summary of Deteriorating Influences 







Lord Dalhousie leaves India ........ 259 

Character of Lord Dalhousie .... 

. 259 

His great Error based upon Benign Intentions 

. 263 

Antecedents of Lord Canning .... 


Succeeds Lord Dalhousie as Governor-General 


Speech of, at the Farewell Banquet 

. 276 

Reaches Egypt ...... 


Disembarks at Calcutta . 

i • 

. 282 

His Initiation 

, , 

. 282 

Sir John Low 

i • 

. 283 

Mr. Dorin and Mr. J. P. Grant 

• t 

. 284 

Mr. Barnes Peacock 

• i 


General Anson 



, 287 

The Administration of Oudh ....... 

Question of Successor to Sir James Outram Debated . . . 
Mr. Coverley Jackson is Appointed ..... 

Quarrels between the New Commissioner and Mr. Gubbins 

The Ex-King of Oudh takes up his abode at Garden Reach 

The Queen- Mother proceeds to England to make a Personal Appeal 

She dies in Paris ......... 

Grievances of the Ex-King ....... 

Discontent of Lord Canning with Mr. Coverley Jackson, and its 
Cause .......... 

Rupture with Persia ..... 

The Question of Herat Stated ...... 

The British Minister quits Teheran ..... 

Feeling of Dost Muhammad respecting Herat .... 

Lord Canning's Views on the Crisis. . . . 

War declared with Persia ....... 

Question of Command — Lord Canning's Views . 

Lord Elphinstone's Views ....... 

Sir James Outram is nominated to Command .... 

Central Asian Policy ........ 

The Amir Dost Muhammad .... . . 

Herbert Edwardes ......... 

Suggests the Advisability of a Personal Conference with the Amir 
The Amir accepts the Invitation ...... 

Interview between John Lawrence and the Amir at Peshawar 
Results in a Cordial Understanding ...... 

An English Mission sent to Kandahar ..... 

Merms of Agreement with the Amir ..... 

John Lawrence doubts his good Faith ..... 

The Future of Herat 



XVI 11 


Lord Canning appoints Sir Henry Lawrence to be Chief Commissioner 

ofOudh 329 

Sir Henry Lawrence takes up his Office 332 


Retrospect of 1856 . 

Policy regarding the Native Army 

Evils of Extended Dominion . 

Lord Dalhousie and the 38th N. I. 

How to send Reliefs to Pegu . 

The Duty to devolve temporarily on the Madras Army 

Lord Canning alters the Enlistment Act 

Effect of the Alteration on the Mind of the Sipahi 

Enlistment of more Sikhs .... 

Apprehensions and Alarms in the Native Mind 

Lord Canning and the Religious Societies 

Progress of Social Reform .... 

Excess of Zeal in propagating Christianity 

The King of Dehli and Persia .... 

Rumours of coming Absorptions of Hindu States 

The Century since Plassey .... 



The rising Storm ......... 

The old-fashioned Musket to be replaced by an improved "Weapon 
Story of the greased Cartridges 

Spread of evil Tidings 

Disseminators of Evil ..... 
The Barrackpiir Brigade .... 

General Hearscy reports an Ill-feeling in the Brigade 
Incendiarism and Excitement at Barrackpiir 
The 19th N. I., at Barhampiir. mutinies . 
Details of the earlv History of their Mutiny 
Story of the Mutiny of the 19th N. I. 
A Court of Inquiry assembles 



The Military Hierarchy in India considered 374 

Delays thereby Caused ......... 375 

Inquiry proves that but few greased Cartridges had been issued . 377 

Orders are transmitted not to use those issued ..... 378 

Composition of the Cartridges 379 

Causes of Alarm among the Sipahis 382 

General Hearsey realises the Danger 384 

The Sipahis are asked to state their Grievances before a Court of 

Inquiry ... ....... 385 


xi x 

General Hearsey addresses them in Hindustani 

But does not convince them ..... 

The 84th arrives from Kangun .... 

Circumstances connected with Sindhia's Visit to Calcutta 

Rumours of Intended Revolt ..... 

Hearsey again addresses the Brigade 

And again fails to make a permanent Impression 

The Story of Manghal Pandi 

Disbandment of the 19th N. I. 

Hearsey addresses the Brigade for the third time 




Sentence executed on Manghal Pandi 

Discontent of the 34th N. I. . 

Delay versus Prompt Action . 

Retrospect of Events at Ambalah . 

Alarm at that Station . 

The Commander-in-Chief addresses the Men 

The Native Officers express their Opinions on the Crisis . 

Views of the Commander-in-Chief ..... 

And of Lord Canning ....... 

The general Excitement finds a vent in general Incendiarism 

Views of Sir Henry Barnard on the Crisis 

Events at Mirath .... . 

The Story of the Ground Bones ..... 

And of the Chapatis ....... 

Political Intrigues ....... 

Nana Sahib . . . . 

Sir Henry Lawrence at Lakhnao ..... 

Intrigues of Nana Sdhib ...... 



Return of Confidence at Calcutta and elsewhere 

The 34th N. I. is Disbanded .... 

Sir H. Lawrence reports the 48th N. I. to be shaky 

The 7th Oudh Irregulars mutiny at Lakhnao . 

Sir Henry Lawrence quells the Revolt 

Reports Interesting Conversation with a Native Officer 

Lord Canning in favour of Disbandment as a Punishment 

The Mutiny begins at Mirath 10th May, 1857 . 

Tlio Week of exciting Telegrams 

Tho Mutineers seize Dehli .... 

Measures taken by Lord Canning . 

Is cheered by the Conclusion of the Persian War 

Calls upon Lord Elgin and General Ashburnhamto divert 

Troops destined for China .... 

Sends for Troops from Burmah and Madras 

to India the 





General Measures of Defence taken at the Moment 
Communication with Lord Elgin 
And with General Ashburnham 
Issues a Proclamation declaring the Purity of the 
Government ...... 

Confers large Powers upon Kesponsible Officers 

Lords Harris and Elphinstone 

The Lawrences ...... 

Movements and Views of John Lawrence. . 

Sir Henry Lawrence's Suggestions . 

Was it Mutiny or Rebellion ? . . . . 


• * * * 



• • ■ • 


Intentions of the 

• . • . 



• • • • 


• • • 


■ ■ • • 


• • ■ • 


• ■ • 





[13T6— 1856.] 


Broken in bodily health, but not enfeebled in spirit, by eight 
years of anxious toil beneath an Indian sun, Lord Dalhousie 
laid down the reins of government and returned to his native 
country to die. Since the reign of Lord Wellesley, so great in 
written history, so momentous in practical results, there had 
been no such administration as that of Lord Dalhousie ; there 
had been no period in the annals of the Anglo-Indian Empire 
surcharged with such great political events, none which nearly 
approached it in the rapidity of its administrative progress. 
Peace and War had yielded their fruits with equal profusion. 

On the eve of resigning his high trust to the hands of another, 
Lord Dalhousie drew up an elaborate state-paper reviewing the 
eventful years of his government. He had reason to rejoice in 
the retrospect ; for he had acted in accordance with the faith 
that was within him, honestly and earnestly working out his 
cherished principles, and there was a bright flush of success 
over all the apparent result. Peace and prosperity smiled upon 
the empire. That empire he had vastly extended, and by its 
extension he believed that he had consolidated our rule and 
imparted additional security to our tenure of the country. 

Of these great successes some account should be given at the 
outset of such a narrative as this : for it is only by under- 
standing and appreciating them that we can rightly estimate 
the subsequent crisis. It was in the Panjab and in Oudh that 
many of the most important incidents of that crisis occurred. 

VOL. I. B 


Lord Dalhousie found them Foreign States ; be left them 
British Provinces. 

Lord Hardin ge conquered the Sikhs; but he spared the 
Panjab. Moderate in victory as resolute in war. 
Stoelwjlb. 011 ^ e left ^ empire of Eanjit Singh, shorn only of 
its outlying provinces, to be governed by his 
successors, and strove to protect the boy-prince against the 
lawlessness of his own soldiers. But it was felt that this 
forbearance was only an experimental forbearance ; and the 
proclamation which announced the restoration of the Panjab to 
the Maharajah Dhulip Singh sounded also a note of warning 
to the great military autocracy which had well-nigh overthrown 
the State. " If this opportunity," said the victor, " of rescuing 
the Sikh nation from military anarchy and misrule be neglected, 
and hostile opposition to the British army be renewed, the 
Government of India will make such other arrangements fur 
the future government of the Panjab as the interests and 
security of the British power may render just and expedient." 
Thus was the doubt expressed ; thus were the consequences 
foreshadowed. It did not seem likely that the experiment 
would succeed ; but it was not less right to make it. It left 
the future destiny of the empire, under Providence, for the 
Sikhs themselves to determine. It taught them how to pre- 
serve their national independence, and left them to work out 
the problem with their own hands. 

But Hardinge did more than this. He did not interfere with 
the internal administration, but he established a powerful 
military protectorate in the Panjab. He left the Durbar to 
govern the country after its own fashion, but he protected the 
Government against the lawless domination of its soldiery. 
The Sikh army was overawed by the presence of the British 
■battalions ; and if the hour had produced the man — if there had 
been any wisdom, any love of country, in the councils of the 
nation — the Sikh Empire might have survived the great peril of 
the British military protectorate. But there was no one worthy 
to rule ; no one able to govern. The mother of the young 
Maharajah was nominally the Eegent. There have been great 
queens in the East as in the West — women who have done for 
their people what men have been incapable of doing. But the 
mother of Dhulip Singh was not one of these. To say that she 
loved herself better than her country is to use in courtesy the 
mildest words, which do not actually violate truth. She was. 

1846 J LAL SINGH. 3 

indeed, an evil presence in the nation. It rested with her to 
choose a minister, and the choice which she made was another 
great suicidal blow struck at the life of the Sikh Empire. It 
may have been difficult in this emergency to select the right 
man, for, in truth, there were not many wise men from whom a 
selection could be made. The Queen- Mother cut through the 
difficulty by selecting her paramour. 

Lai Singh was unpopular with the Durbar ; unpopular with 
the people ; and he failed. He might have been an able and an 
honest man, and yet have been found wanting in such a con- 
juncture. But he was probably the worst man in the Panjab 
on whom the duty of reconstructing a strong Sikh Government 
could have devolved. To do him justice, there were great 
difficulties in his way. He had to replenish an exhausted 
treasury by a course of unpopular retrenchments. Troops were 
to be disbanded and Jaghirs resumed. Lai Singh was not the 
man to do this, as one bowing to a painful necessity, and 
sacrificing himself to the exigencies of the State. Even in a 
countiy where political virtue was but little understood, a 
course of duty consistently pursued for the benefit of the nation 
might have ensured for him some sort of respect. But whilst 
he was impoverishing others, he was enriching himself. It was 
not the public treasury, but the private purse, that he sought 
to replenish, and better men were despoiled to satisfy the greed 
of his hungry relatives and friends. Vicious among the vicious, 
he lived but for the indulgence of his own appetites, and ruled 
but for his own aggrandisement. The favourite of the Queen, he 
was the oppressor of the People. And though he tried to dazzle 
his British guests by rare displays of courtesy towards them, 
and made himself immensely popular among all ranks of the 
Army of Occupation by his incessant efforts to gratify them, he 
could not hide the one great patent fact, that a strong Sikh 
Government could never be established under the wazirat of 
Lai Singh. 

But the British were not reponsible for the failure. The 
Regent chose him ; and, bound by treaty not to exercise any 
interference in the internal administration of the Lahor State, 
the British Government had only passively to ratify the choice. 
But it was a state of things burdened with evils of the most 
obtrusive kind. We were upholding an unprincipled ruler and 
an unprincipled minister at the point of our British bayonets, 
and thus aiding them to commit iniquities which, without such 

B 2 


external support, they would not have long been suffered to 
perpetrate. The compact, however, was but for the current 
year ; and even for that brief period there seemed but little 
probability of Lai Singh tiding over the difficulties and dangers 
which beset his position. 

Very soon his treachery undid him. False to his own 
country, he was false also to the British Government. The 
province of Kashmir, which was one of the outlying depen- 
dencies taken by the British in payment of the war-charges, 
had been made over to Gulab Singh, chief of the great Jainu 
family, who had paid a million of money for the cession. But 
the transfer had been resisted by the local governor, who had 
ruled the province under the Sikh Bajahs, and covertly Lai 
Singh had encouraged the resistance. The nominal offender was 
brought to public trial, but it was felt that the 
real criminal was Lai Singh, and that upon the 
issue of the inquiry depended the fate of the minister. It was 
soon apparent that he was a traitor, and that the other, though, 
for intelligible reasons of his own, reluctant to render an 
account of his stewardship, was little more than a tool in his 
hands. The disgrace of the minister was the immediate result 
of the investigation. He left the Durbar tent a prisoner under 
a guard, an hour before his own body-guard, of Sikh soldiers ; 
and the great seal of the Maharajah was placed in the hands of 
the British Besident. So fell Lai Singh ; and so fell also the 
first experiment to reconstruct a strong Sikh Government on a 
basis of national independence. 

Another experiment was then to be tried. There was not a 
native of the country to whose hands the destinies of the empire 
could be safely entrusted. If the power of the English 
conqueror were demanded to overawe the turbulent military 
element, English wisdom and English integrity were no less 
needed, in that conjuncture, to quicken and to purify the corrupt 
councils of the State. Sikh statesmanship, protected against the 
armed violence of the Praetorian bands, which had overthrown 
so many ministries, had been fairly tried, and had been found 
miserably wanting. A purely native Government was not to 
be hazarded again. Averse as Hardinge had been, and still 
wan, to sanction British interference in the internal adminis- 
tration of the Panjab, there was that in the complications 
before him which compelled bim to overcome his reluctance. 
The choice, indeed, lay between a half measure, which might 


succeed, though truly there was small hope of success, 
aud the total abandonment of the country to its own vices 
which would have been sj)eedily followed, in self-defence, 
by our direct assumption of the Government on our own 
account. Importuned by the Sikh Durbar, in the name of the 
Maharajah, Hardinge tried the former course. The next effort, 
therefore, to save the Sikh Empire from self-destruction em- 
braced the idea of a native Government, presided over by a 
British statesman. A Council of Regency was instituted, to be 
composed of Sikh chiefs, under the superintendence and. con- 
trol of the Resident ; or, in other words, the British Resident 
became the virtual ruler of the country. 

And this time the choice, or rather the accident, of the man 
was as propitious, as before it had been untoward and perverse. 
The English officer possessed well-nigh all the qualities which 
the Sikh Sirdar so deplorably lacked. A captain of the 
Bengal Artillery, holding the higher rank of colonel by brevet 
for good service, Henry Lawrence had graduated in Panjabi 
diplomacy under George Clerk, and had accompanied to Kabul 
the Sikh Contingent, attached to Pollock's retributory force, 
combating its dubious fidelity, and controlling its predatory 
excesses on the way. After the return of the expedition to the 
British provinces, he had been appointed to represent our 
interests in Nipal; and there — for there was a lull in the 
sanguinary intrigues of that semi-barbarous Court — immersed 
in his books, and turning to good literary purpose his hours 
of leisure, he received at Katmandu intelligence of the Sikh 
invasion, and of the death of George Broadfoot, and was sum- 
moned to take the place of that lamented officer as the agent 
of the Governor-General on the frontier. In the negotiations 
which followed the conquest of the Khalsa army, he had taken 
the leading part, and, on the restoration of peace, had been 
appointed to the office of British Resident, or Minister, at 
Labor, under the first experiment of a pure Sikh Government 
hedged in by British troons. 

If the character of the man thus placed at the head of affairs 
could have secured the success of this great compromise, it 
would have been successful far beyond the expectations of its 
projectors. For no man ever undertook a high and important 
trust with a more solemn sense of his responsibility, or ever, 
with more singleness of purpose and more steadfast sincerity of 
heart, set himself to work, with God : s blessing, to turn a great 


opportunity to great account for the benefit of his fellows. In 
Henry Lawrence a pure transparent nature, a simple manliness 
and truthfulness of character, were combined with high intel- 
lectual powers, and personal energies which nothing earthly 
could subdue. I may say it here, once for all, at the very 
outset of my story, that nowhere does this natural simplicity 
and truthfulness of character so often as in India survive a 
long career of public service. In that country public men are 
happily not exposed to the pernicious influences which in 
England shrivel them so fast into party leaders and parlia- 
mentary chiefs. With perfect singleness of aim and pure 
sincerity of purpose, they go, with level eyes, straight at the 
public good, never looking up in fear at the suspended sword 
of a parliamentary majority, and never turned aside by that 
fear into devious paths of trickery and finesse. It may be that 
ever since the days of Clive and Omichund an unsavoury odour 
has pervaded the reputation of Oriental diplomacy ; but the 
fact is, that our greatest successes have been achieved by men 
incapable of deceit, and by means which have invited scrutiny. 
When we have opposed craft to craft, and have sought to out- 
juggle our opponents, the end has been commonly disastrous. 
It is only by consummate honesty and transparent truthfulness 
that the Talleyrands of the East have been beaten by such 
mere children in the world's ways as Mountstuart Elphinstone, 
Charles Metcalfe, James Outram, and Henry Lawrence. 

Henry Lawrence, indeed, was wholly without guile. He had 
great shrewdness and sagacity of character, and he could read 
and understand motives, to which his own breast was a stranger, 
for he had studied well the Oriental character. But he was 
singularly open and unreserved in all his dealings, and would 
rather have given his antagonist an advantage than have 
condescended to any small arts and petty trickeries to secure 
success. All men, indeed, trusted him ; for they knew that 
there was nothing selfish or sordid about him ; that the one 
desire of his heart was to benefit the people of the country in 
which it had pleased God to cast his lot. But he never suffered 
this plea of beneficence to prevail against his sense of justice. 
He was eminently, indeed, a just man, and altogether incapable 
of that casuistry which gives a gloss of humanity to self- 
seeking, and robs people for their own good. He did not look 
upon the misgovernment of a native State as a valid reason for 
the absorption of its revenues, but thought that British power 

1816-47.] HENRY LAWRENCE. 7 

might be exercised for the protection of the oppressed, and 
British wisdom for the instruction and reformation of their 
oppressors, without adding a few more thousand square miles 
to the area of our British possessions, and a few more millions 
of people to the great muster-roll of British subjects in the 

Above the middle height, of a spare, gaunt frame, and a 
worn face bearing upon it the traces of mental toil and bodily 
suffering, he impressed you, at first sight, rather with a sense 
of masculine energy and resolution than of any milder and 
more endearing qualities. But when you came to know him, 
you saw at once that beneath that rugged exterior there was a 
heart gentle as a woman's, and you recognised in his words and 
in his manner the kindliness of nature, which won the affection 
of all who came within its reach, and by its large and liberal 
manifestations made his name a very household word with 
thousands who had never felt the pressure of his hand or stood 
in his living presence. But, with all this, though that name 
was in men's mouths and spoken in many languages, no un- 
known subaltern had a more lowly mind or a more unassuming- 

Such was the man who now found himself the virtual 
sovereign of the empire of Eanjit Singh. The new protec- 
torate, established at the end of 1846, gave to Henry Lawrence 
" unlimited authority," " to direct and control every depart- 
ment of the State." He was to be assisted in this great work 
by an efficient establishment of subordinates, but it was no 
part of the design to confer upon them the executive manage- 
ment of affairs. The old officers of the Sikh Government were 
left to carry on the administration, guided and directed by 
their British allies. Under such a system corruption and 
oppression could no longer run riot over the face of the land. 
It was a protectorate for the many, not for the few ; and for a, 
while it seemed that all classes were pleased with the arrange- 
ment. Outwardly, indeed, it did not seem that feelings of 
resentment against the British Government were cherished by 
any persons but the Queen-Mother and her degraded paramour. 

And so, in the spring of 1847, the political horizon was 
almost unclouded. The Council of Regency, under the control 
of Henry Lawrence, seemed to be carrying on the government 
with a sincere desire to secure a successful result. Tranquillity 
had been restored ; confidence and order were fast returning. 


The Sikh soldiery appeared to he contented with their lot, and 
to he gradually acquiring- hahits of discipline and ohedience, 
under a system which rendered them dependent on the British 
officers for whatever most promoted their interests and con- 
tributed to their comforts. But it did not escape the sagacious 
mind of the Besident, that serene as was the aspect of affairs, 
and promising as were the indications of continued repose, 
there were, beneath all this surface-calm, dangerous elements 
at work, waiting only for time and circumstance to call them 
into full activity. The memory of frequent defeat was still too 
fresh in the minds of the humbled Khalsa to suffer them to 
indulge in visions of fvt once re-acquiring their lost supremacy. 
But as time passed and the impression waxed fainter and 
fainter, it was well-nigh certain that the old hopes would 
revive, and that outbursts of desperate Asiatic zeal might be 
looked for in quarters where such paroxj-sms had long seemed 
to be necessary to the very existence of a lawless and tumul- 
tuous class. It is a trick of our self-love — of our national 
vanity — to make us too often delude ourselves with the belief 
that British supremacy must be welcome wheresoever it 
obtrudes itself. But Henry Lawence did not deceive himself 
in this wise. He frankly admitted that, however benevolent 
our motives, and however conciliatory our demeanour, a British 
army could not garrison Lahor, and a British functionary 
supersede the Sikh Durbar, without exciting bitter discontents 
and perilous resentments. He saw around him, struggling for 
existence, so many high officers of the old Sikh armies, so many 
favourites of the old line of Wazfrs now cast adrift upon the 
world, without resources and without hope under the existing 
system, that when he remembered their lawless habits, their 
headstrong folly, their desperate suicidal zeal, he could but 
wonder at the perfect peace which then pervaded the land. 

But whatsoever might be taking shape in the future, the 
present was a season of prosperity — a time of promise — and 
the best uses were made by the British functionaries of the 
continued calm. Interference in the civil administration of 
the country was exercised only when it could be turned to the 
very apparent advantage of the people. British authority and 
British integrity were then employed in the settlement of long- 
unsettled districts, and in the development of the resources of 
long-neglected tracts of country. The subordinate officers thus 
employed under the Besident were few, but they were men of 


no common ability and energy of character — soldiers such ae 
Edwardes, Nicholson, Eeynell Taylor, Lake, Lumsden, Becher, 
George Lawrence, and James Abbott ; civilians such as Vans 
Agnew and Arthur Cocks — men, for the most part, whose deeds 
will find ample record in these pages. They had unbounded 
confidence in their chief, and their chief had equal confidence 
in them. Acting, with but few exceptions, for the majority 
were soldiers, in a mixed civil and military character, they 
associated with all classes of the community; and alike by 
their courage and their integrity they sustained the high 
character of the nation they represented. One common spirit 
of humanity seemed to animate the Governor-General, the 
Resident, and his Assistants. A well-aimed blow was struck 
at infanticide, at Sati, and at the odious traffic in female slaves. 
In the agricultural districts, a system of enforced labour, which 
had pressed heavily on the ryots, was soon also in course of 
abolition. The weak were everywhere protected against the 
strong. An entire revision of the judicial and revenue systems 
of the country — if systems they can be called, where system 
there was none — was attempted, and with good success. New 
customs rules were prepared, by which the people were greatly 
gainers. Every legitimate means of increasing the revenue, 
and of controlling unnecessary expenditure, were resorted to, 
and large savings were effected at no loss of efficiency in any 
department of the State. The cultivators were encouraged to 
sink wells, to irrigate their lands, and otherwise to increase the 
productiveness of the soil, alike to their own advantage and the 
profit of the State. And whilst everything was thus being- 
done to advance the general prosperity of the people, and to 
ensure the popularity of British occupation among the indus- 
trial classes, the Army was propitiated by the introduction of 
new and improved systems of pay and pension, and taught to 
believe that what they had lost in opportunities of plunder, and 
in irregular largesses, had been more than made up to tbem 
by certainty and punctuality of payment, and the interest 
taken by the British officers in the general welfare of their 

As the year advanced, these favourable appearances rather 
improved than deteriorated. In June, the Besident reported 
that a large majority of the disbanded soldiers had returned 
to the plough or to trade, and that the advantages of British 
influence to the cultivating classes were every day becomino- 


more apparent. But still Lawrence clearly discerned the fact 
that although the spirit of insurrection was at rest in the 
Panjab, it was not yet dead. There were sparks flying about 
here and there, which, alighting on combustible materials, 
might speedily excite a blaze. " If every Sirdar and Sikh in 
the Panjab," he wrote, with the candour and good sense which 
are so conspicuous in all his communications, " were to avow 
himself satisfied with the humbled position of his country, it 
would be the extreme of infatuation to believe him, or to doubt 
for a moment that among the crowd who are loudest in our 
praise there are many who cannot forgive our victory, or even 
our forbearance, and who chafe at their own loss of power in 
exact proportion as they submit to ours." People were not 
wanting even then, in our camp, to talk with ominous head- 
shakings of the " Kabul Catastrophe," and to predict all sorts 
of massacres and misfortunes. But there was no parallel to 
be drawn between the two cases, for an overweening sense of 
security had not taken possession of the British functionaries 
at Lahor. They had not brought themselves to believe that 
the country was " settled," or that British occupation was 
" popular " among the chiefs and people of the Panjab. With 
God's blessing they were doing their best to deserve success, 
but they knew well that they might some day see the ruin 
of their hopes, the failure of their experiments, and they were 
prepared, in the midst of prosperity, at any hour to confront 

Even then, fair as was the prospect before us, there was one 
great blot upon the landscape ; for whilst the restless nature 
of the Queen-Mother was solacing itself with dark intrigues, 
there was a continual source of disquietude to disturb the mind 
of the Resident with apprehensions of probable outbreaks and 
seditions. She hated the British with a deadly hatred. They 
had deprived her of power. They had torn her lover from her 
arms. They were training her son to become a puppet in their 
hands. To foment hostility against them, wheresoever there 
seemed to be any hope of successful revolt, and to devise a plot 
for the murder of the Resident, were among the cherished 
objects by which she sought to gratify her malice. But she 
could not thus labour in secret. Her schemes were detected, 
and it was determined to remove her from Lahor. The place 
of banishment was Shekhopur, in a quiet part of the country, 
and in the midst of a Musulman population. When the decision 

1847-48. J LORD HARDIXGE. 1] 

was communicated to her by her brother, she received it with 
apparent indifference. She was not one to give her enemies an 
advantage by confessing her wounds and bewailing her lot. 
She uttered no cry of pain, but said that she was ready for any- 
thing, and at once prepared for the journey. 

The autumn passed quietly away. But an important change 
was impending. Lord Hardinge was about to lay down the 
reins of government, and Colonel Lawrence to leave the Panjab 
for a time. The health of the latter had long been failing. 
He had tried in August and September the effect of the bracing 
hill air of Simla. It had revived him for a while, but his 
medical attendants urged him to resort to the only remedy 
which could arrest the progress of the disease ; and so, with 
extreme reluctance, he consented to quit his post, and to accom- 
pany Lord Hardinge to England. He went ; and Sir Frederick 
Currie, a public servant of approved talent and integrity, who, 
in the capacity of Political Secretary, had accompanied the 
Governor-General to the banks of the Satlaj, and who had been 
subsequently created a baronet and appointed a member of the 
Supreme Council of India, was nominated to act as Eesident in 
his place. 

Meeting the stream of European revolution as they journeyed 
homewards, Hardinge and Lawrence came overland to England 
in the early spring of 1848. Brief space is allowed to me for 
comment ; but before I cease to write Lord Hardinge's name 
in connection with Sikh politics and history, I must give ex- 
pression, if only in a single sentence, to the admiration with 
which I regard his entire policy towards the Panjab. It was 
worthy of a Christian warrior : it was worthy of a Christian 
statesman. It is in no wise to be judged by results, still less 
by accidents not assignable to errors inherent in the original 
design. "What Hardinge did, he did because it was right to 
do it. His forbearance under provocation, his moderation in 
the hour of victory foreshadowed the humanity of his subse- 
quent measures. It was his one desire to render British con- 
nection with the Panjab a blessing to the Sikhs, without 
destroying their national independence. The spirit of Christian 
philanthropy moved at his bidding over the whole face of the 
country — not the mere image of a specious benevolence dis- 
guising the designs of our ambition and the impulses of our 
greed, but an honest, hearty desire to do good without gain, 
to save an Empire, to reform a people, and to leave behind us 


the marks of a hand at once gentle and powerful — gentle to 
cherish and powerful only to sustain. 

Conquest of the The portfolio of the Indian Government now 

anjd ' passed into the hands of Lord Dalhousie, a young 

statesman of high promise, who, in the divisions of part}- 
politics at home, had been ranged among the followers of Sir 
Kobert Peel, and professed the newly-developed liberalism of 
that great parliamentary chief. Held in esteem as a man of 
moderate views, of considerable administrative ability, and 
more than common assiduity in the public service, his brief 
career as an English statesman seemed to afford good hope 
that, in the great descriptive roll of Ind ian Viceroys, his name 
would be recorded as that of a ruler distinguished rather for 
the utility than for the brilliancy of his administration. And 
so, doubtless, it seemed to himself. What India most wanted 
at that time was Peace. Left to her repose, even without 
external aid, she might soon have recovered from the effects 
of a succession of wasting wars. But, cherished and fostered 
by an unambitious and enlightened ruler, there was good 
prospect of a future of unexampled prosperity — of great mate- 
rial and moral advancement — of that oft-promised, ever realis- 
able, but still unrealised blessing, the " development of the 
resources of the country." The country wanted railroads, and 
the people education, and there was good hope that Dalhousie 
would give them both. 

When he looked beyond the frontier he saw that everything 
was quiet. The new year had dawned auspiciously on the 
Pan jab. The attention of the British functionaries, ever 
earnest and active in well-doing — for the disciples of Henry 
Lawrence had caught much of the zealous humanity of their 
master — was mainly directed to the settlement of the Land 
Eevenue and the improvement of the judicial system of the 
country. They had begun codifying in good earnest, and laws, 
civil and criminal, grew apace under their hands. In a state 
of things so satisfactory as this there was little to call for 
special remark, and the Governor-General, in his letters to the 
Home Government, contented himself with the simple observa- 
tion, that he " forwarded papers relating to the Panjab." But 
early in May intelligence had reached Calcutta which impelled 
him to indite a more stirring epistle. The Panjab was on the 
eve of another crisis. 


In September, 1844, Sawan Mall, the able and energetic 
Governor * of Multan, was shot to death by an assassin. He 
was succeeded by his son Mulraj, who also had earned for him- 
self the reputation of a chief with just and enlightened views 
of government, and considerable administrative ability. But 
he had also a reputation very dangerous in that country : he 
was reputed to be very rich. Sawan Mall was believed to have 
amassed immense treasures in Multan ; and on the instalment of 
his son in the government, the Labor Durbar demanded from 
him a succession duty f of a million of money. The exorbitant 
claim was not complied with ; but a compromise was effected, 
by which Mulraj became bound to pay to Labor less than a fifth 
of the required amount. And this sum would have been paid, 
but for the convulsions which soon began to rend the country, 
and the disasters which befell the Durbar. 

On the re-establishment of the Sikh Government the claim was 
renewed. It was intimated to the Diwan that if the stipulated 
eighteen lakhs, with certain amounts due for arrears, were paid 
into the Lahor Treasury, he would be allowed to continue in 
charge of Multan ; but that if he demurred, troops would be 
sent to coerce him. He refused payment of the money, and 
troops were accordingly sent against him. Thus threatened, 
he besought the British Government to interfere in his favour, 
and consented to adjust the matter through the arbitration of 
the Eesident. The result was, that he went to Lahor in the 
autumn of 1846 ; promised to pay by instalments the money 
claimed ; and was mulcted in a portion of the territories from 
which he had drawn his revenue. The remainder was farmed 
out to him for a term of three years. With this arrangement 
he appeared to be satisfied. He was anxious to obtain the 
guarantee of the British Government ; but his request was 
refused, and he returned to Multan without it. 

For the space of more than a year, Mulraj remained in peace- 
ful occupation of the country which had been leased out to him. 
There was no attempt, on the part of the British functionaries, 
to interfere with the affairs of Multan. That territory was 
especially exempted from the operation of the revenue settle- 

* I have used the word most intelligible to ordinary English readers, but 
it dot s not fitly represent the office held by the " Diwan," who was financial 
manager or revenue- farmer of the district, with the control of the internal 

t Nazuraua. 


meet, which had taken effect elsewhere, and of the new customs 
regulations which had been established in other parts of the 
Panjab. But the compact which had been entered into with the 
Lahor Durbar did not sit easily upon him. He thought, or 
affected to think, that its terms were too rigorous ; and accord- 
ingly, about the close of 1847, he repaired to the capital to seek 
some remission of them. He soon began intriguing with the 
Durbar for the reduction of the stipulated rents ; and not 
coming to any satisfactory arrangement, intimated his wish to 
resign a charge which he had fnund so little profitable. He 
was told that his resignation, when formally tendered, would 
be accepted ; but was recommended to reflect upon the subject 
before finally coming to a determination, which could not be 
subsequently revoked. Mulraj quitted Lahor ; and sent in first 
a somewhat vague, and afterwards a more distinct, resignation 
of his office ; and the Durbar at once appointed a successor. 
Sirdar Khan Singh, who was described as a " brave soldier and 
intelligent man," was nominated to the Governorship ofMultan, 
on a fixed annual salary. At the same time, Mr. Vans Agnew, 
a civil servant of the Company, and Lieutenant Anderson, of the 
Bombay army, were despatched to Multan with the new 
Governor, and an escort of five hundred men, to receive charge 
of the place. On their arrival before the city there were no 
symptoms of any hostile intentions on the part of its occupants. 
Mulraj himself waited on the British officers on the 18th of 
April, and was peremptorily called upon to give in his accounts. 
Disconcerted and annoyed, he quitted their presence, but next 
morning he met them with a calm aspect, and conducted them 
through the fort. Two companies of Gurkhas and some horse- 
men of the escort were placed in possession of one of the fort- 
gates. The crisis was now at hand. Mulraj formally gave 
over charge of the fort ; and as the party retired through the 
gate, the British officers were suddenly attacked and severely 
wounded. Mulraj, who was riding with them at the time, 
offered no assistance, but, setting spurs to his horse, galloped off 
in the direction of his garden-house, whilst the wounded officers 
were carried to their own camp by Khan Singh and a party of 
the Gurkhas. 

In the course of the following day all the Multani troops 
were in a state of open insurrection. Mulraj himself, who may 
hot have been guilty in the first instance of an act of premedi- 
tated treachery, and who subsequently pleaded that he was 

1848.] SECOND SIKH WAR. 15 

coerced by his troops, sent excuses to Vans Agnew, -who, with 
the generous confidence of youth, acquitted him of all partici- 
pation in the outrage. But he was soon heart and soul in the 
work ; and his emissaries plied their trade of corruption with 
unerring effect. Before nightfall, the commandant of the escort, 
with all his men, went over to the enemy. The building in 
which the wounded officers lay was surrounded. A motley crew 
of ruffians — soldiers and citizens — men of all classes, young and 
old, moved by one common impulse, one great thirst of blood, 
came yelling and shouting around the abode of the doomed 
Faringhis. In they rushed, with a savage cry, and surrounded 
their victims. The wounded officers lay armed on their beds, 
and helpless, hopeless as they were, put on the bold front of 
intrepid Englishmen, and were heroes to the last. Having 
shaken hands, and bade each other a last farewell, they turned 
upon their assailants as best they could ; but, overpowered by 
numbers, they fell, declaring in the prophetic language of death, 
that thousands of their countrymen would come to avenge them. 
The slaughter thoroughly accomplished, the two bodies were 
dragged out of the mosque, and barbarously mutilated by the 
murderers, with every indignity that malice could devise. 

Irretrievably committed in the eyes both of our countrymen 
and his own, Mulraj now saw that there was no going back ; he 
had entered, whether designedly or not, on a course which 
admitted of no pause, and left no time for reflection. All the 
dormant energies of his nature were now called into full 
activity. He took command of the insurgents — identified him- 
self with their cause — bestowed largesses upon the men who 
had been most active in the assault upon the British officers, 
retained all who would take service with him, laid in stores, 
collected money, and addressed letters to other chiefs urging 
them to resistance. He had never been looked upon by others 
— never regarded himself — as a man to become the leader of a 
great national movement ; but now circumstances had done for 
him what he would never willingly have shaped out for him- 
self ; so he bowed to fate, and became a hero. 

Thus was the second Sikh War commenced. Outwardly, it 
was but the revolt of a local government — the rebellion of* an 
officer of the Sikh State against the sovereign power of the land. 
But, rightly considered, it was of far deeper significance. 
Whether Mulraj had been incited to resistance by the prompt- 
ings of a spirit far more bitter in its resentments, and more 


active in its malignity than his own, is not very apparent. 
But it is certain that when he raised the standard of rebellion 
at Multan, he did but anticipate a movement for which the 
whole country was ripe. Already had ominous reports of ill- 
concealed disaffection come in from some of the outlying dis- 
tricts, and though the mortifying fact was very reluctantly 
believed, it is certain that the state of things which Henry 
Lawrence had predicted was already a present reality, and 
that the Sikhs, chafing under the irritating interference of the 
European stranger, were about to make a common effort to 
expel him. A finer body of officers than those employed under 
the British Resident in the Panjab seldom laboured for the good 
of a people. That they worked, earnestly and assiduously, 
animated by the purest spirit of Christian benevolence, is not 
to be doubted. But it was not in the nature of things that 
even if the thing done had been palatable to the Sikhs, they 
would have reconciled themselves to the doers of it. Habituated 
to rule in all parts of the world, and to interfere in the affairs 
of people of all colours and creeds, Englishmen are slow to 
familiarise themselves with the idea of the too probable unpopu- 
larity of their interference. They think that if they mean 
well they must secure confidence. They do not consider that 
our beneficent ways may not be more in accordance with the 
national taste than our round hats and stiff neckcloths ; and 
that even if they were, alien interference must in itself be 
utterly distasteful to them. It is not to be doubted, I sa_y, that 
the young Englishmen first employed in the Panjab laboured 
earnestly for the good of the people ; but their very presence 
was a sore in the flesh of the nation, and if they had been 
endowed with superhuman wisdom and angelic benevolence, it 
would have made no difference in the sum total of popular dis- 

But it is probable that some mistakes were committed — the 
inevitable growth of benevolent ignorance and energetic inex- 
perience — at the outset of our career as Panjabi administrators. 
The interference appears to have been greater than was con- 
templated in the original design of the Second Protectorate. 
At that time the God Terminus was held by many of our ad- 
ministrators in especial veneration. The Theodolite, the Recon- 
noitring Compass, and the Measuring Chain were the great 
emblems of British rule. And now these mysterious instru- 
ments began to make their appearance in the Panjab. We were 


taking sights and measuring angles on the outskirts of civilisa- 
tion ; and neither the chiefs nor the people could readily 
persuade themselves that we were doing all this for their good ; 
there was an appearance in it of ulterior design. And, as I have 
hinted, the agents employed were sometimes wholly inexperi- 
enced in business of this kind. " My present rule," wrote a 
young ensign * of two years' standing in the service, whose 
later exploits will be recorded in these pages, " is to survey a 
part of the country lying along the left bank of the Bavi and 
below the hills, and I am daily and all day at work with com- 
passes and chain, pen and pencil, following streams, diving into 
valleys, burrowing into hills, to complete my work. I need 
hardly remark, that having never attempted anything of the 
kind, it is bothering at first. I should not be surprised any day 
to be told to build a ship, compose a code of laws, or hold 
assizes. In fact, 'tis the way in India; every one has to teach 
himself his work, and to do it at the same time." Training of 
this kind has made the finest race of officers that the world has 
ever seen. But the novitiate of these men may have teemed 
with blunders fatal to the people among whom they were sent, 
in all the self-confidence of youth, to learn their diversities of 
work. As they advance in years, and every year know better 
how difficult a thing it is to administer the affairs of a foreign 
people, such public servants often shudder to think of the errors 
committed, of the wrong done, when they served their appren- 
ticeship in government without a master, and taught themselves 
at the expense of thousands. The most experienced adminis- 
trators in the present case might have failed from the want of 
a right understanding of the temper of the people. But it was 
the necessity of our position that some who were set over the 
officers of the Sikh Government knew little of the people and 
little of administration. They were able, indefatigable, and 
conscientious. They erred only because they saw too much and 
did too much, and had not come to understand the wise policy 
of shutting their eyes and leaving alone. 

And so, although the rebellion of Mulraj was at first only a 
local outbreak, and the British authorities were well disposed 
to regard it as a movement against the Sikh Government, not 


W. R. Hndson ("Hodson of Hodson's Horse"), January, 1818. This 
young officer narrowly escaped the fate of Anderson at Multan, for he hail 
keen selected in the first instance to accompany Vans Agnew. 

VOL. I. c 


as an outrage especially directed against ourselves, that fiction 
could not be long maintained — for every day it became more 
and more apparent that the whole country was ripe for another 
war with the intruding Faringhi. The Durbar officers did not 
hesitate to express their conviction that to send Sikh troops to 
act against Mulraj would only be to swell the number of his 
adherents. To have despatched with them a small English 
force would have been to risk its safety and precipitate the con- 
flict. An overwhelming display of force, on the part of the 
British Government, might have crushed the rebellion at 
Multan and retarded the general rising of the country. But 
the season was far advanced; the responsibility was a great 
one. The Commander-in-Chief of the British army in India was 
not far distant. Currie, therefore, though his own judgment 
inclined to the commencement of immediate hostilities, rightly 
referred the momentous question to the military chief. Lord 
Gough was against immediate action ; and the head of the 
Indian Government unreservedly endorsed the decision. 

The remnant of the old Khalsa army eagerly watched the 
result, and were not slow to attribute our inactivity, at such 
a moment, to hesitation — to fear — to paralysis. I am not 
writing a military history of the Second Sikh War, and the 
question now suggested is one which 1 am not called upon to 
discuss. But I think that promptitude of action is often of 
more importance than completeness of preparation, and that 
to show ourselves confident of success is in most cases to attain 
it. The British power in India cannot afford to be quiescent 
under insult and outrage. Delay is held to be a sign of weak- 
ness. It encourages enmity and confirms vacillation. It is a 
disaster in itself — more serious, often, than any that can arise 
from insufficient preparation, and that great bugbear the in- 
clemency of the season. On the other hand, it is not to be 
forgotten that to despise our enemies is a common national 
mistake, and that sometimes it has been a fatal one. We have 
brought calamities on ourselves by our rashness as we have by 
our indecision. The History of India teems with examples of 
both results ; the most profitable lesson to be learnt from which 
is, that, however wise we may be after the event, criticism in 
such a case ought to be diffident and forbearing. 

But whilst the Commander-in-Chief, in the cool mountain air 
of Simla, was deciding on the impossibility of commencing 
military operations, a young lieutenant of the Bengal army, who 


had been engaged in the Revenue settlement of the country 
about Banu, was marching down upon Multan with a small 
body of troops, to render assistance to his brother-officers in 
their perilous position, and to support the authority of the 
Labor Durbar. A letter from Vans Agnew, dictated by the 
wounded man, had providentially fallen into his hands. He 
saw at once the emergency of the case ; he never hesitated ; 
but abandoning all other considerations, improvised the best 
force that could be got together, and, with fifteen hundred men 
and two pieces of artillery, marched forth in all the eager 
confidence of youth, hoping that it might be his privilege to 
rescue his countrymen from the danger that beset them. 

The name of this young officer was Herbert Edwardes. A 
native of Frodley, in Shropshire, the son of a country clergy- 
man, educated at King's College, London, he had entered the 
Company's service as a cadet of infantry, at an age somewhat 
more advanced than that which sees the initiation into military 
life of the majority of young officers. But at an age much 
earlier than that which commonly places them in possession of 
the most superficial knowledge of the history and politics of the 
East, young Edwardes had acquired a stock of information, 
and a capacity for judging rightly of passing events, which 
would have done no discredit to a veteran soldier and diplomatist. 
He had served but a few years, when his name became familiar 
to English readers throughout the Presidency to which he 
belonged, as one of the ablest anonymous writers in the country. 
His literary talents, like his military qualities, were of a bold, 
earnest, impulsive character. Whatever he did, he did rapidly 
and well. He was precisely the kind of man to attract the 
attention and retain the favour of such an officer as Henry 
Lawrence, who, with the same quiet love of literature, com- 
bined a keen appreciation of that energy and fire of character 
which shrinks from no responsibility, and are ever seeking to 
find an outlet in dashing exploits. In one of the earliest and 
most striking scenes of the Panjabi drama, Edwardes had acted 
a distinguished part. When the insurrection broke out in 
Kashmir, he was despatched to Jamu, to awaken Gulab Singh 
to a sense of his duty in that conjuncture; and there are few 
more memorable and impressive incidents in Sikh history than 
that which exhibited a handful of British officers controlling: the 
movements of large bodies of foreign troops, — the very men, 
and under the very leaders, who, so short a time before, had 

c 2 


contested with us on the banks of the Satlaj the sovereignty of 

On the reconstruction of the Sikh Government, after the 
deposition of Lai Singh, Herbert Edwardes was one of the 
officers selected to superintend the internal administration of 
the country ; and he had just completed the Eevenue settle- 
ment of Banu, when the startling intelligence of the Multan 
outbreak reached his camp. He marched at once to succour his 
brother-officers ; crossed the Indus, and took possession of Leia, 
the chief city in the Sindh Sagar Duab. But tidings by this 
time had reached him of the melancholv fate of Aa;new and 
Anderson, and there was then no profit in the immediate 
movement on Multan to compensate for its certain danger. But 
the demonstration still had its uses. It was something that 
there was a force in the field with a British officer at the head 
of it to assert the cause of order and authority in the name of 
the Maharajah of the Pan jab. Such a force might, for a time at 
least, hold rebellion in check in that part of the country. But 
Edwardes dreamt of higher services than this. To the south of 
Multan, some fifty miles, lies Bahawalpur, in the chief of which 
place we believed, that we had a staunch ally. In the name of 
the British Government, Edwardes called upon him to move an 
auxiliary force upon Multan ; and he bad little doubt that, 
after forming a junction with these troops, he could capture 
the rebel stronghold. The confidence of the young soldier, 
stimulated by a victory which he gained over a large body of 
rebels on the great anniversary of Waterloo, saw no obstacle to 
this enterprise which could not be overcome if the Resident 
would only send him a few heavy guns and mortars, and 
Major Napier, of the Engineers, to direct the operations of the 
siege. He knew the worth of such a man in such a conjuncture, 
and every year that has since ]3assed has made him prouder of 
the youthful forecast which he then evinced. 

The Bahawalpur troops were sent, the junction was formed, 
and the force marched down upon Multan. Placing himself at 
the head of a considerable body of men, the rebel chief went 
out to give them battle, but was beaten by Edwardes, aided 
by Yan Cortlandt, a European officer in Sikh employ, who 
bas since done good service to the British Government, and 
Edward Lake, a gallant young officer of Bengal Engineers, 
directing the Bahawalpur column, who has abundantly fulfilled, 
on the same theatre of action, the high promise of his youth. 


But much as irregular levies, so led, might do in the open field, 
they were powerless against the walls of Multan. Again, 
therefore, Edwardes urged upon the Resident the expediency of 
strengthening his hands, especially in respect of the ordnance 
branches of the service. Only send a siege train, some Sappers 
and Miners, with Eobert Napier to direct the siege, and — this 
time, for the difficulties of the work had assumed larger 
proportions in his eyes — a few regular regiments, under a 
young brigadier, and we shall "close," he said, "Mulraj's 
account in a fortnight, and obviate the necessity of assembling 
fifty thousand men in October." 

In the early part of July this requisition was received at 
Lahor. The interval which had elapsed, since the disastrous 
tidings of the rebellion of Mulraj had reached the Residency, 
had not been an uneventful one at the capital. Early in May, 
discovery was made of an attempt to corrupt the fidelity of our 
British Sipahis. The first intimation of the plot was received 
from some troopers of the 7th Irregular Cavalry, who commu- 
nicated the circumstance to their commanding officer. The 
principal conspirators were one Khan Singh, an unemployed 
general of the Sikh army, and Ganga Ram, the confidential 
Vakil of the Maharani. These men, and two others, were 
seized, tried, and convicted. The two chief conspirators were 
publicly hanged, and their less guilty associates transported. 
That they were instruments of the Maharani was sufficiently 
proved. The conspirators acknowledged that she was the 
prime instigator of the treacherous attempt, and her letters 
were found in their possession. With this knowledge, it could 
no longer be a question with the Resident as to what course 
it behoved him to adopt. The mother of the Maharajah and 
the widow of Ranjit Singh could no longer be suffered to 
dwell among the Sikhs. She had already been removed from 
Lahor to Shekkopur. It now became necessary to remove her 
from the Panjab. Accordingly, certain accredited agents of 
the Lahor Durbar, accompanied by two British officers, Captain 
Lumsden and Lieutenant Hodson, were despatched to She- 
khopur, with a mandate under the seal of the Maharajah, 
directing her removal from that place. Without offering any 
resistance, or expressing any dissatisfaction, she placed herself 
under the charge of the deputation ; and, when it became 
clear to her that she was on her way to the British frontier, 
she desired — not improbably with that blended irony and 


bravado which she so well knew how to employ — that her 
thanks might be conveyed to the Eesident for removing her 
to the Company's dominions, out of the reach of the enemies 
who would destroy her. With a considerable retinue of female 
attendants, she was conveyed to Firuzpur, and eventually to 
Banaras, where she was placed under the charge of Major 
George Macgregor, an Artillery officer of high personal character 
and great diplomatic experience, who had well sustained in 
the Panjab the brilliant reputation which he had earned at 

Such was the apparent growth visible at the British Resi- 
dency, recognised in our State-papers, of those three months in 
the Panjab. But in the hands of a Sikh historian these incidents 
would form but a small part of the national annals, for all over 
the country the great chiefs were actively maturing the plan 
of their emancipation, calling upon all true Sikhs, in the name 
of the great Founder of their Faith, to exterminate the Christian 
usurpers, and even those nearest to the throne were among the 
arch promoters of the movement. The daughter of Chatar 
Singh and the sister of Sher Singh was the betrothed wife of 
the Maharajah ; but these Sirdars, though anxious to veil their 
designs until the whole country was ripe for a simultaneous 
rising, were intriguing and plotting for our overthrow. The 
former was in the Hazarah, where his fidelity had been for 
some time suspected by James Abbott — another officer of the 
Bengal Artillery, friend and comrade of Henry Lawrence, who 
had been settling that part of the country — one of those men 
whose lot in life it is never to be believed, 'never to be appre- 
ciated, never to be rewarded ; of the true salt of the earth, but 
of an unrecognised savour ; chivalrous, heroic, but somehow or 
other never thoroughly emerging from the shade. He was not 
one to estimate highly the force of the maxim that " speech is 
silver, silence is gold ;" and his suspicions are said not to have 
been acceptable at Labor. But though it may be good to 
suspect, it is doubtless good, also, not to appear to suspect. 
And if Currie, in that conjuncture, had betrayed a want of 
confidence in the Sikh Sirdars, he would have precipitated the 
collision which it was sound policy to retard. So, whatever 
may have been his genuine convictions, he still appeared to 
trust the chiefs of the Regency ; and Sher Singh, with a strong 
body of Sikh troops, was sent down to Multan. It was wise to 
maintain, as long as possible, the semblance of the authority of 


the Sikh Durbar — wise to keep up the show of suppressing a 
rebellion by the hand of the native Government. To send 
down that undeveloped traitor to the great centre of revolt 
may have been a hazardous experiment, but it was hazardous 
also to keep him where he was ; and the master-passion of the 
Sikh soldiery for plunder might have kept his battalions nomi- 
nally on the side of authority, until they had glutted themselves 
with the spoils of Multan, and preparations had, meanwhile, 
been made in the British provinces for the commencement of 
military operations on a scale befitting the occasion. But the 
repeated requisitions of Edwardes for British aid at last wrought 
upon the Besident, and Currie determined to send a force to 
Multan, with a siege-train for the reduction of the fortress. In 
General Samson Whish, of the Artillery, under whose command 
the force was despatched, there was not literally what Edwardes 
had asked for — "a young brigadier " — but there was a general 
officer of unwonted youthfulness of aspect and activity of body, 
who could sit a horse well, could ride any distance at a stretch, 
and was generally esteemed to be one of the best artillery 
officers in the service. This forward movement was not counte- 
nanced in high places. The Commander-in-Chief shook his 
head. The Governor-General shook his head. But the Besident 
had ordered it, and it could not be countermanded without 
encouraging a belief that there was a want of unanimity in 
British councils. 

So the besieging force marched upon Multan, and arrived 
before the city in high health and excellent spirits. On the 
5th of September, in the name of the Maharajah and Queen 
Victoria, the British General summoned the garrison to sur- 
render. No answer was returned to the summons, and the 
siege commenced. But on the 14th, when our guns were within 
breaching distance of the walls of the town, Whish, to his bitter 
mortification, was compelled to abandon the siege. The Sikh 
force under Sher Singh had gone over to the enemy. 

This event had long been matter of anxious speculation in 
the British camp, and now took no one by surprise. It was 
known that the hearts of the soldiery were with Mulraj ; but 
there was something of a more doubtful character in the conduct 
of the Bajah himself, who had on more than one occasion 
testified his zeal and loyalty by voluntary acts of service in our 
cause. In his own camp, the Khalsa troops said contemptuously, 
that he was a Musulman. With Edwardes he was outwardly 


on the best possible terms ; spoke freely of the conduct of his 
father, Chatar Singh; declared that he washed his hands of 
all the old man's rebellions projects ; and candidly avowed his 
mistrust of the Sikh troops. But in all this be was playing 
a part. He had written to his brother to say that he intended 
to go over to the enemy on that very 14th of September, and 
he kept his word to the letter. On the morning of that day, 
the whole Durbar force sought entrance into the city. Doubtful 
of the real nature of the movement, Mulraj at first refused them 
admittance ; but soon satisfied of their intentions, he opened 
the gates; the long dreaded and fatal junction was effected; 
and the British General was under the mortifying necessity of 
raising the siege of Multan. 

The whole truth was now visible before the world. It was im- 
possible any longer to maintain the fiction of a local rebellion, 
to pretend that the Lahor Government, assisted by British 
troops, was endeavouring to coerce a refractory subject. The 
A r ery heads of that Government were in open hostility to the 
Britisb, raising the standard of nationality in the name of the 
Maharajah. It was obvious that the war now about to be 
waged, was between the British and the Sikhs. Some hope 
was at one time to be drawn from the fact of long-standing 
feuds among the different Sikh families. Then there was the 
not unreasonable conviction that the Muhammadan population 
of the Panjab might easily be kept in a state of enmity with 
the Sikhs. But these assurances soon melted away. Hostile 
families and hostile reKgions were content to unite for the 
nonce against the Faringhis ; and the Commander-in-Chief, as 
the cold weather approached, was gratified by finding that 
there had been no premature birth of victory — that the work 
was yet to be done — and that an army of twenty thousand 
men. under his personal command, was required to take the 

And from that time Multan ceased to be the focus of rebellion 
and the head-quarters of the war. In the Hazarah country 
Chatar Singh had thrown off all vestments of disguise, and 
plunged boldly into the troubled waters -that lay before him. 
The thoughts of Sher Singh soon began to turn towards that 
quarter — indeed, such had been his desire from the first — and 
before the second week of October had passed away, he had 
marched out of Multan to join his father. The whole country 
was now rising against us. Having used the name of the 


Maharajah, the Sikh leaders were eager to possess themselves 
of the person of the boy-King, and but for the vigilance of the 
Resident they would have achieved an object which would 
have added a new element of strength to the national cause. 
Dhulfp Singh remained in our hands virtually a prisoner at 

All this time the Governor-General was at Calcutta, watching 
from a distance the progress of events, and betraying no eager- 
ness to seize a favourable opportunity for the conquest of the 
Panjab. Indeed, it has been imputed to him, as a grave political 
error, that he did not at an earlier period make due preparation 
for the inevitable war. But, it would seem that in the summer 
of 1848, his desire was to recognise as long as possible only 
internal rebellion in the Sikh country — to see, not the rising of 
a nation against a foreign intruder, but the revolt of a few 
unloyal chiefs against their own lawful sovereign. But with 
the first breath of the cool season there came a truer conception 
of the crisis, and Lord Dalhousie prepared himself for the 
conflict. " I have wished for peace," he said, at a public enter- 
tainment, early in October ; " I have longed for it ; I have 
striven for it. But if the enemies of India determine to have 
Avar, war they shall have, and on my word they shall have it 
Avith a vengeance." A few days afterwards he turned his back 
upon Calcutta, and set his face towards the north-west. All 
the energies of his mind were then given to the prosecution of 
the war. 

The British army destined for the re-conquest of the Panjab 
assembled at Firuzpur, and crossed the Satlaj in different detach- 
ments. On the 13th of November the head-quarters reached 
Lahor. At that time it could hardly be said that British influ- 
ence extended a rood beyond the Residency walls. In all parts 
of the country the Sikhs had risen against the great reproach 
of the English occupation. In many outlying places, on the 
confines of civilisation, our English officers were holding out, in 
the face of every conceivable difficulty and danger, with con- 
stancy and resolution most chivalrous, most heroic, hoping only 
to maintain, by their own personal gallantry, the character of 
the nation they represented. There was, indeed, nothing more 
to be done. We had ceased to be regarded as allies. So eager 
and so general was the desire to expel the intruding Faringhi, 
that the followers of Govind sank for a time all feelings of 
national and religious animosity against their Afghan neigh- 


bours, and invoked Muhammadan aid from the regions beyond 
the passes of the Khaibar. 

On the 21st of November, Lord Gough joined the army on 
the left bank of the Satlaj. A veteran commander, who within 
the space of a few years had fought more battles in different 
parts of the world than were crowded into the lives of most 
living warriors — a general whose uniform good fortune had 
glossed over his want of forecast and science, and whose 
repeated successes had silenced criticism — he was now about to 
engage in military operations greater than those of his ante- 
cedent campaigns, with, perhaps, even less knowledge of the 
country and less consideration of the probable contingencies 
of the war. But all men had confidence in him. India had 
been won by a series of military mistakes that would have dis- 
graced an ensign before the examination period, and, perhaps, 
would not have been won at all if we had infused into our 
operations more of the pedantry of military science. He was a 
soldier, and all who fought under him honoured his grey hairs, 
and loved him for his manly bearing, his fine frank character, 
and even for the impetuosity which so often entangled his 
legions in difficulties, and enhanced the cost of the victories he 

The arrival of the Commander-in-Chief was the signal for the 
immediate commencement of hostilities. The force then under 
his personal command consisted of upwards of twenty thousand 
men, with nearly a hundred pieces of artillery, and Gough was 
in no temper for delay. On the day after his arrival in camp 
was fought the battle of Eamnagar, the first of those disastrous 
successes which have given so gloomy a character to the cam- 
paign. The enemy had a strong masked battery on the other 
side of the river, and very cleverly contrived to draw the 
British troops into an ambuscade. The operations of the 
Commander-in-Chief, commenced with the object of driving a 
party of the rebels, who were on his side of the Chinab, across 
the river, had the effect of bringing his cavalry and artillery 
within reach of these concealed guns ; and twenty-eight pieces 
of ordnance opened upon our advancing columns. The cavalry 
were ordered to move forward to the attack as soon as an 
opportunity presented itself. They found an opportunity, and 
charged a large body of the enemy, the Sikh batteries pouring 
in their deadly showers all the while. Many fell under the 
fire of the guns, many under the sabre-cuts of the Sikh swords- 


men, many under the withering fire of a body of matchlockmen, 
who, taking advantage of the nature of the ground, harassed 
our horsemen sorely. Nothing was gained by our " victory ;" 
but we lost many brave and some good soldiers ; and our troops 
returned to camp weary and dispirited, asking what end they 
had accomplished, and sighing over the cost. 

Some days afterwards a force under General Thackwell was 
sent out to cross the river, but being scantily supplied with in- 
formation, and grievously hampered by instructions, it succeeded 
only in losing a few men and killing several of the enemy. No 
great object was gained, but great opportunities were sacrificed. 
The Commander-in-Chief pompously declared that " it had 
pleased Almighty God to vouchsafe to the British arms the 
most successful issue to the extensive combinations rendered 
necessary for the purpose of effecting the passage of the Chinab, 
the defeat and dispersion of the Sikh force under the insurgent 
Rajah Sher Singh and the numerous Sikh Sirdars who had the 
temerity to set at defiance the British power." These " events, 
so fraught with importance," were to " tend to most momentous 
results." The results were, that the field of battle was shifted 
from the banks of the Chinab to the banks of the Jhilam. The 
enemy, who might have been taken in rear, and whose batteries 
might have been seized, if Thackwell had been free to carry 
out the most obvious tactics, escaped with all their guns; 
and on the 13th of January bore bloody witness to the little 
they had suffered, by fighting one of the greatest and most 
sanguinary battles in the whole chronicle of Indian warfare.* 

By this time Henry Lawrence had returned to the Panjab. 
The news of the outbreak at Multan had reached him in 
England, whilst still in broken health, and had raised within 
him an incontrollable desire, at any hazard, to return to his 
post. He had won his spurs, and he was eager to prove that 
he was worthy of them, even at the risk of life itself. It has 
been said that he ought uot to have quitted the Panjab, and 
that if he had been at Labor in the spring of 1848, the war 
would not then have been precipitated by the rebellion of 
Mulraj, for " any one but a civilian would have foreseen that to 
send Vans Agnew and Anderson down to Multan at the time 

* A critical account of this campaign, based on the most accurate informa- 
tion, is to be found in ' The Decisive Battles of India,' published by Messrs. 
Allen & Co. -G. B. M. 


and in the manner selected was almost sure to produce an 
ebullition of feeling and violence." But if Lawrence 
JKto£ had no . t gone to England at the time, he would, in all 
probability, have died ; and though he might not have 
sent the same men to Multan, he would have sent a mission 
there for the same purpose. " I meant to have sent Arthur 
Cocks," was his remark to the present writer, when the dis- 
astrous news reached us in London. He saw at once that the 
Multani revolt was but the prelude to a great national outbreak, 
and though his friends trembled for his safety and counselled 
delay, his strong sense of duty to the State overruled all per- 
sonal considerations, and so he carried back his shattered frame 
and his inexhaustible energies to the scene of the coming 
conflict. Leaving London at the end of October, he reached 
Bombay early in December, and pushing up the Indus with 
characteristic rapidity of movement, joined the camp of General 
Whish, before the walls of Multan, two days after the great 
festival of Christmas. 

On the second day of the new year, Whish, reinforced from 
Bombay, carried the city of Multan. Long and obstinate had 
been the resistance of the besieged ; and now that our storming 
columns entered the breach, the garrison still, at the bayonet'^ 
point, showed the stuff of which they were made. Frightful 
had been the carnage during the siege. Heaps of mangled 
bodies about the battered town bore ghastly witness to the 
terrible effects of the British ordnance. But many yet stood to 
be shot down or bayoneted in the streets ; and the work of the 
besieging force was yet far from its close. Mulraj was in the 
citadel with some thousands of his best fighting-men ; and the 
fort guns were plied as vigorously as before the capture of the 
town. The strength of this formidable fortress seemed to 
laugh our breaching batteries to scorn. Mining operations 
were, therefore, commenced; but carried on, as they were, 
beneath a constant discharge from our mortars, it seemed little 
likely that the enemy would wait to test the skill of the engi- 
neers. The terrible shelling to which the fortress was exposed 
dismayed the pent-up garrison. By the 21st of January they 
were reduced to the last extremity. Mulraj vainly endeavoured 
to rally his followers. Their spirit was broken. There was 
nothing left for them but to make a desperate sally and cut 
their way through the besiegers, or to surrender at once. The 
nobler alternative was rejected. Asking only for his own life 

1849.] chiliInwAla. 29 

and the honour of his women, Mulraj tendered on that day his 
submission to the British General. Whish refused to guarantee 
the first, but promised to protect the women ; and on the fol- 
lowing morning the garrison marched out of Multan, and Diwan 
Mulraj threw himself on the mercy of the British Government. 

Meanwhile, Henry Lawrence, having witnessed the fall of 
the city of Multan, hastened upwards to Firuzpur, conveyed to 
Lord Dalhousie the first welcome tidings of that event, took 
counsel with the Governor-General, made himself master of the 
great man's views, then hurried on to Lahor, communicated 
with the Besident, and on the same evening pushed on to the 
camp of the Commander-in-Chief, which he reached on the 
10th of January. He was there in no recognised official 
position, for Currie's tenure of office did not expire until the 
beginning of the ensuing month ; but he was ready for any 
kind of service, and he placed himself at Lord Gough's disposal, 
as an honorary aide-de-camp, or any other subordinate officer, in 
the fine army which was now stretching out before him. 

Three days after Lawrence's arrival in camp the battle of 
Chilianwala was fought. The time had arrived when a far less 
impetuous general than Gough might have deemed it incumbent 
on him to force the Sikh army into a general action. It is true 
that the final reduction of the fortress of Multan would have 
liberated a large portion of "Whish's column, and greatly have 
added to the strength of the British army on the banks of the 
Jhilam. But the Sikh Sirdars, on this very account, were eager 
to begin the battle, and would not have suffered us to wait for 
our reinforcements. Gough already had a noble force under 
him, equal to any service. It was panting for action. There 
had been a lull of more than a month's duration, and all through 
India there was a feeling of impatience at the protracted delay. 
Gough, therefore, prepared for action. Ascertaining the nature 
of the country occupied by the Sikh army, and the position of 
their troops, he planned his attack upon sound tactical principles, 
and fully instructed his generals in the several parts which 
they were called upon to play. On the afternoon of the 13th 
everything was ready, and the battle was to have been com- 
menced early on the following morning. But, unwilling to 
give the British General the long hours of the morrow's light, 
from daybreak to sunset, that he wanted, to fight his battle 
according to approved principles of modern warfare, the Sikh 
leaders, when the day was far spent, determined, if possible, to 


aggravate him into an immediate encounter. They knew their 
man. So they advanced a few guns, and sent some round-shot 
booming in the direction of the British camp. The bait took. 
The warm Hibernian temperament of the British leader could 
not brook the insult. He moved up his heavy guns, responded 
with some chance shots at the invisible enemy, and then, there 
being little of the day left for his operations, gave the command 
for his line to advance. 

The story of what followed has been often told, and it is not 
so gratifying a page of history that I need care to repeat it, 
Night closed upon the fearful carnage of that terrible engage- 
ment, and both armies claimed the victory. What it cost us is 
written in the Gazette. Never was an official bulletin received 
in England with a wilder outcry of pain and passion. The 
past services, the intrepid personal courage, the open honest 
character, the many noble qualities of the veteran Commander 
were forgotten in that burst of popular indignation, and 
hundreds of English families turned from the angry past to the 
fearful future, and trembled as they thought that the crowning 
action with that formidable enemy had yet to be fought by a 
General so rash, so headstrong, and so incompetent. 

In the high places of Government there was universal dis- 
composure, and the greatest military authority in the country 
shook his head with an ominous gesture of reproach. Then 
arose a wild cry for Napier. The conqueror of the Biluchis 
was sent out in hot haste to India to repair the mischief that 
had been done by Gough, and to finish off the war with the 
Sikhs in a proper workmanlike manner. But the hottest haste 
could not wholly annihilate time and space, and though this 
sudden supersession of the brave old chief, who had fought so 
many battles and won so many victories, might shame his grey 
hairs, it could not bring the war to a more rapid or a more 
honourable close. The carnage of Chilian wala shook for a time 
the confidence of the army in their chief, but it did not shake 
the courage of our fighting-men, or destroy their inherent 
capacity for conquest. It was a lesson, too, that must have 
scored itself into the very heart of the British chief, and made 
him a sadder man and a wiser commander. The errors of the 
13th of January were to be atoned for by a victory which any 
leader might contemplate with pride, and any nation with 
gratitude. Scarcely had his appointed successor turned his 
back upon England when Gough fought another great battle, 


which neither Napier, nor Wellington himself, who talked of 
going in his place, could have surpassed in vigour of execution 
or completeness of effect. 

Anxiously was the intelligence of the surrender of Mulraj 
looked for in the camp of the Commander-in-Chief. Since that 
disastrous action at Chilianwala, Gough had been intrenching 
his position, and waiting reinforcements from Multan. The 
surrender of that fortress set free some twelve thousand men, 
and Whish, with unlooked-for rapidity, marched to the banks 
of the Jhilam to swell the ranks of the grand army. A great 
crisis was now approaching. Thrice had the British and Sikh 
forces met each other on the banks of those classical rivers 
which had seen the triumphs of the Macedonian — thrice had 
they met each other only to leave the issue of the contest yet 
undecided. A great battle was now about to be fought — one 
differing from all that had yet been fought since the Sikhs first 
crossed the Satlaj, for a strange but not unlooked-for spectacle 
was about to present itself — Sikhs and Afghans, those old 
hereditary enemies, fighting side by side against a common foe. 
The Sikh Sirdars, I have said, had been intriguing to secure 
the assistance of the Amir of Kabul. For some time there 
appeared little likelihood that old Dost Muhammad, whose 
experience ought to have brought wisdom with it, would lend 
himself to a cause which, in spite of temporary successes, was 
so sure to prove hopeless in the end. But neither years, nor 
experience, nor adversity had taught him to profit by the 
lessons he had learned. The desire of repossessing himself of 
Peshawar was the madness of a life. The bait was thrown 
out to him, and he could not resist it. He came through the 
Khaibar with an Afghan force, marched upon the Indus, and 
threatened Atak, which fell at his approach ; despatched one of 
his sons to the camp of Sher Singh, and sent a body of Durani 
troops to fight against his old Faringhi enemy, who for years had 
been the arbiter of his fate. How deplorable an act of senile 
fatuity it was, the events of the 21st of February must have 
deeply impressed upon his mind. On that day was fought an 
action — was gained a victory, in the emphatic words of the 
Governor-General, " memorable alike from the greatness of the 
occasion, and from the brilliant and decisive issue of the 
encounter. For the first time, Sikh and Afghan were banded 
together against the British power. It was an occasion which 
demanded the putting forth of all the means at our disposal, 


and so conspicuous a manifestation of the superiority of our 
arms as should appal each enemy, and dissolve at once their 
compact by fatal proof of its futility. The completeness of the 
victory which has been won equals the highest hopes enter- 
tained." And there was no official exaggeration in this ; none 
of the vain boasting of the interested despatch-writer. At 
Gujrat, to which place the enemy had unexpectedly moved 
their camp, Lord Gough fought a great battle as a great battle 
ought to be fought, coolly and deliberately, by a British Com- 
mander. Every arm of his fine force was brought effectively into 
play ; each in its proper place, each supporting and assisting the 
others, and each covering itself with glory. From the early dawn 
of that clear bright morning the cannonade commenced. Never 
had the Bengal Artillery made a nobler display : never had it 
been worked with more terrible effect. Besolute and well 
handled as was the Sikh army, it could not stand up against 
the steady fire of our guns. By noon the enemy were retreating 
in terrible disorder, " their position carried, their guns, ammuni- 
tion, camp equipage, and baggage captured, their flying masses 
driven before their victorious pursuers, from mid-day receiving 
most severe punishment in their flight." And all this was 
accomplished with but little loss of life on the side of the 
victorious army. It pleased the Almighty that the bloody 
lessons of the Chinab and the Jhilam should not be thrown 

A division under Sir Walter Gilbert, an officer of great 
personal activity, unequalled in the saddle, was ordered to 
follow up the successes of Gujrat, and to drive the Afghans 
from the Pan jab. And well did he justify the choice of his 
chief. By a series of rapid marches, scarcely excelled by any 
recorded in history, he convinced the enemy of the hopelessness 
of all further resistance. The Barukzai force fled before our 
advancing columns, and secured the passage of the Khaibar 
before British influence could avail to close it against the 
fugitives. By the Sikhs themselves the game had clearly been 
played out. The Khalsa was now quite broken. There was 
nothing left for Sher Singh and his associates but to trust 
themselves to the clemency of the British Government. On 
the 5th of March, the Bajah sent the British prisoners safely 
into Gilbert's camp. On the 8th, he appeared in person to 
make arrangements for the surrender of his followers ; and on 
the 14th, the remnant of the Sikh army, some sixteen thousand 


men, including thirteen Sirdars of note, laid down their arms 
at the feet of the British General. 

The military chief had now done his work, and it was time 
for the appearance of the Civil Governor on the scene. Lord 
Dalhousie was on the spot prepared for immediate action. 
Already was his portfolio weighty with a proclamation which 
was to determine the fate of the empire of Banjit Singh. I do 
not suppose that a moment's doubt ever obscured the clear, 
unsullied surface of the Governor-General's resolution. It was 
a case which suggested no misgivings and prompted no hesita- 
tion. The Sikhs had staked everything on the issue of the war, 
and they had lost it in fair fight. They had repaid by acts of 
treachery and violence the forbearance and moderation of the 
British Government. We had tried to spare them ; but they 
would not be spared. First one course, then another, had been 
adopted in the hope that eventually a strong native Govern- 
ment might be established, able to control its own subjects, and 
willing to live on terms of friendly alliance with its neighbours. 
Our policy had from the first been wholly unaggressive. There 
was no taint of avarice or ambition in it. But it had not 
been appreciated ; it had not been successful. The whole 
system had collapsed. And now that again a British ruler was 
called upon to solve the great problem of the Future of the 
Panjab, he felt that there was no longer any middle course open 
to him ; that there was but one measure applicable to the crisis 
that had arisen ; and that measure was the annexation of the 
country to the territories of the British Empire. So a pro- 
clamation was issued announcing that the kingdom founded by 
Ranjit Singh had passed under British rule ; and the wisdom 
and righteousness of the edict few men are disposed to cpuestion. 

The last Sikh Durbar was held at Lahor. The fiat of the 
British conqueror was read aloud, in the presence of 
the young Maharajah, to the remnant of the chiefs who 
had not committed themselves by open rebellion ; and 
a paper of Terms was then produced by which the British 
Government bound themselves to pay the annual sum of forty 
or fifty thousand pounds to the boy-Prince and his family,* so 
long as he should remain faithful to his new master and abide 

* This is not the loose diction of doubt. The agreement was, that tbo 
British Government should pay not less than four, or more than five, lakhs o( 

VOL. I. D 

March 29. 


by his sovereign will. It was a happy change for Dhuh'p 
Singh, born as he was for the Sikh shambles ; for in his new 
state he had abundant wealth, perfect safety, freedom from all 
care, and the unsurpassable blessing of a saving faith. Be- 
coming, in his twelfth year, the ward of the Governor-General, 
he was placed under the immediate tutelage of an Assistant- 
Surgeon of the Bengal Army,* who was so fit a man for the 
office, so worthy of the confidence reposed in him, that the 
little Sikh Prince, under his wise ministrations, developed into 
a Christian gentleman, an English courtier, and a Scotch laird. 
And it may be recorded here, before I pass on to the history of 
British rule in the Panjab, that the mother of Dhulip Singh, 
the widow of old Eanjit, that restless, turbulent Chand Kaur, 
whose intrigues did so much to precipitate the fall of the Sikh 
Empire, after a series of strange romantic vicissitudes, prema- 
turely old, well-nigh blind, broken and subdued in spirit, found 
a resting-place at last under the roof of her son, in a 
quiet corner of an English castle, and died in a London 
suburb, t 

The proclamation which turned the Panjab into a British 
province was no ^ tne 0D ty weighty State-paper 
Administration in the portfolio of the Governor-General. "Whilst 
of tbe Panjab. Gough had been preparing to strike the last 
crushing blow at the military power of the Khalsa, Dalhousie, 
with Henry Elliot at his elbow, never doubting the issue, was 
mapping out the scheme of administration under which it 

* Afterwards Sir John Login. 

f In the presence of the subsequent action of Dhulip Singh, of his abnega- 
tion of the Christian faith, and of the position of " an English courtier 
and a Scotch laird," it is impossible to allow this passage to pass without 
remark. When Lord Dalhousie annexed the Panjab Dhulip Singh was the 
•ward of the British Government. The British troops combated for him, and 
on his behalf. The rebellion which culminated in the victory of Gujrat was 
"brought about by the incompetence, not of Dhulip Singh, but of the British 
■officials by whom he was surrounded, notably by that of the acting Resident, 
Sir F. Currie. It is difficult, then, to see the moral grounds upon which it 
was decided that Dhulip Singh should bear the brunt of the punishment. 
Sir Henry Lawrence could not see them, neither can I. Having annexed his 
oountry for no fault of his, mere child as he was, we were bound to assure to 
him something more than a mere personal provision, to lapse upon his death. 
i. am far from defending the recent action of Dhulip Singh, but it is most 
certain that he had a very just cause for discontent.— G. B. M. 


seemed good to him to govern the country which was about 
to pass under our rule. The crowning victory of Gujrat found 
everything devised and prepared to the minutest detail. The 
men were ready ; the measures were defined. There was no 
hurry, therefore — no confusion. Every one fell into his ap- 
pointed place, and knew what he had to do. And never had 
any Governor better reason to place unbounded confidence in 
the men whom he employed ; never was any Governor more 
worthily served. 

The country which had thus fallen by right of conquest into 
our hands embraced an area of fifty thousand square miles, and 
contained a population of four millions of inhabitants. These 
inhabitants were Hindus, Muhammadans, and Sikhs. The last 
were a new people — a sect of reformed Hindus, of a purer faith 
than the followers of the Brahminical superstitions. It was a 
Sikh Government that we had supplanted ; and mainly a Sikh 
army that we had conquered ; but it must not be supposed that 
Panjabi is synonymous with Sikh, that the country was peopled 
from one end to the other with the followers of Nanak and 
Govind, or that they were the ancient dwellers on the banks 
of those five legendary rivers. The cities of the Pan jab were 
Muhammad an cities ; cities founded, perhaps, ere Muhammad 
arose, enlarged and beautified by the followers of the Ghaznivite. 
The monuments were mainly Muhammadan monuments, with 
traces here and there of Grecian occupation and Bactrian rule. 
Before Dehli had risen into the imperial city of the Mughuls, 
Labor had been the home of Indian kings. But the rise of the 
Sikh power was contemporaneous with our own, and the apostles 
of the new Beformation had not numbered among their converts 
more than a section of the people. And as was the population, 
so was the country itself, of a varied character. Tracts of rich 
cultivated lands, the cornfield and the rose-garden, alternated 
with the scorched plain and the sandy desert. Here, as far as 
the eye could reach, a dreary level of jungle and brushwood ; 
there, a magnificent panorama, bounded by the blue ranges and 
the snowy peaks of the Himalayah. And ever the great rivers 
as they flowed suggested to the cultured mind of the English 
scholar thoughts of that grand old traditionary age, when Porus 
fought, and Alexander conquered, and Megasthenes wrote, and 
the home-sick Argive, on the banks of those fabulous streams, 
sighed for the pleasant country he had left, and rebelled against 
his leader and his fate. It was a country full of interest and 

D 2 


full of opportunity ; and it grew at once into the pet province 
of the British Viceroy, the youngest and the most hopeful 
of all. 

That a country so situated, so circumstanced, and so peopled, 
should not he brought under the system of administration pre- 
vailing in our long-settled provinces was a mere matter of 
course. But Dalhousie had no disposition to rush into the 
opposite extreme of a purely military government. He had 
at no time of his career any class prejudices, and he did not 
see why soldiers and civilians should not work harmoniously 
together in the administrative agency of the province. He had 
faith in both ; each in his appointed place ; for there was rough 
soldiers' work to be done, and much also that needed the calm 
judgment and the tutored eye of the experienced civilian. So 
he called in the aid of a mixed Staff of civil and military officers, 
and at the head of this he placed a Board of Administration, 
presided over by Henry Lawrence.* 

The Board was to consist of three members, with secretaries 
to do the pen-work of the administration, and to scatter its 
instructions among the subordinate functionaries of the pro- 
vince. It was not a controlling authority which a man of 
Dalhousie's stamp was likely to affect ; scarcely, indeed, could 
he be supposed to tolerate it. But he could not set aside the 
great claims of Henry Lawrence, nor, indeed, could he safely 
dispense with his services in such a conjuncture ; yet he was 
unwilling to trust to that honest, pure-minded, soldier-states- 
man the sole direction of affairs. The fact is that, with a 
refinement of the justice and moderation which were such 
conspicuous features of Henry's character, he dissented from 
the policy of annexation. He thought that another effort might 
have been made to save the Sikh Empire from destruction. 
Out of this difficulty arose the project of the Board. It was 
natural that Dalhousie should have desired to associate with 
one thus minded some other statesman whose views were more 
in harmony with his own. A Board of two is, under no cir- 
cumstances, a practicable institution ; so a Triumvirate was 
established. But sentence of death was written down against 
it from the very hour of its birth. 

* Sir Frederick Currie had by this time resumed his seat in the Supreme 
Council of India. 

1849.] JOHN LAWRENCE. 37 

The second seat at the Board was given to the President's 
brother, John Lawrence. An officer of the Company's Civil 
Service, he had achieved a high reputation as an administrator ; 
as one of those hard-working, energetic, conscientious servants 
of the State, who live ever with the harness on their hack, 
to whom labour is at once a duty and a delight, who do every- 
thing in a large unstinting way, the Ironsides of the Public 
Service. He had taken, in the earlier stages of his career, an 
active part in the Eevenue Settlement of the North- Western 
Provinces, and had subsequently been appointed Magistrate 
of the great imperial city of Delhi, with its crowded, turbulent 
population, and its constant under-current of hostile intrigue. 
In this post, winning the confidence of men of all classes and 
all creeds, Lord Hardinge found him when, in 1845, he jour- 
neyed upwards to join the army of the Satlaj, There was an 
openness, a frankness about him that pleased the old soldier, 
and a large-hearted zeal and courage which proclaimed him a 
man to be employed in a post of more than common difficulty, 
beyond the circle of ordinary routine. So, after the campaign 
on the Satlaj, when the Jalandhar Duab was taken in part pay- 
ment of the charges of the war, John Lawrence was appointed 
to superintend the administration of that tract of country ; and 
on more than one occasion, during the enforced absence of 
Henry from Lahor, in the first two years of the British 
Protectorate, he had occupied his brother's seat at the capital, 
and done his work with unvaried success. That there were 
great characteristic differences between the two Lawrences 
will be clearly indicated as I proceed ; but in unsullied honesty 
and intrepid manliness, they were the counterparts of each 
other. Both were equally without a stain. 

The third member of the Lahor Board of Administration was 
Mr. Charles Grenville Mansel, also a covenanted civilian, who 
had earned a high reputation as one of the ablest financiers in 
India, and who supplied much of the knowledge and experience 
which his colleagues most lacked. His honesty was of as fine 
a temper as theirs, but he was a man rather of thought than 
of action, and wanted the constitutional robustness of his asso- 
ciates in office. Perhaps his very peculiarities, rendering him, 
as it were, the complement of the other two, especially marked 
him out as the third of that remarkable triumvirate. Eegarded 
as a whole, with reference to the time and circumstances of its 
creation, the Board could not have been better constituted. It 


did honour to the sagacity of Lord Dalhousie, and fully justified 
the choice of agents he had made. 

The system was one of divided labour and common respon- 
sibility. On Heniy Lawrence devolved what was technically 
called the " political" work of the Government. The disarming 
of the country, the negotiations with the chiefs, the organisation 
of the new Panjabi regiments, the arrangements for the educa- 
tion of the young Maharajah, who had now become the ward 
of the British Government, were among the immediate duties 
to which he personally devoted himself; the chief care of John 
Lawrence was the civil administration, especially the settlement 
of the Land Revenue ; whilst Mansel superintended the general 
judicial management of the province ; each, however, aiding 
the others with his advice, and having a potential voice in the 
general Council. Under these chief officers were a number of 
subordinate administrators of different ranks, drawn partly from 
the civil and partly from the military service of the Company. 
The province was divided into seven divisions, and to each of 
these divisions a Commissioner was appointed. Under each of 
these Commissioners were certain Deputy-Commissioners, vary- 
ing in number according to the amount of business to be done ; 
whilst under them again were Assistant-Commissioners and 
Extra Assistants, drawn from the uncovenanted servants of 
Government — Europeans, Indo-Britons, or natives of pure 

The officers selected for the principal posts under the Lahor 
Board of administration were the very flower of the Indian 
services. Dalhousie had thrown his whole heart into the work 
which lay before him. Besolved that it should not be marred 
by the inefficiency of his agents, he looked about him for men 
of mark and likelihood, men in the vigour of their years, men 
of good performance for the higher posts, and sturdy, eager- 
spirited youths of good promise for the lower. It mattered not 
to him whether the good stuff were draped in civil black or 
military red. Far above all petty prejudices of that kind, the 
Governor-General swept up his men with an eye only to the 
work that was in them, and sent them forth to do his bidding. 
Some had already graduated in Panjabi administration under 
the Protectorate ; others crossed the Satlaj for the first time 
with honours taken under Thomason and his predecessors in the 
North- West Provinces. And among them were such men as 
George Edmonstone, Donald Macleod, and Robert Montgomery 


from the one service ; Frederick Mackeson and George Alac- 
gregor from the other ; such men, besides those already named, * 
as Richard Temple, Edward Thornton, Neville Chamberlain, 
George Barnes, Lewin Bowring, Philip Goldney, and Charles 
Saunders ; soldiers and civilians working side by side, without 
a feeling of class jealousy, in the great work of reconstructing 
the administration of the Panjab and carrying out the executive 
details ; whilst at the head of the department of Public Works 
was Robert Napier, in whom the soldier and the man of science 
met together to make one of the finest Engineer officers in the 

They found much to do, but little to undo. The Govern- 
ment of Ranjit Singh had been of a rude, simple, elementary 
character ; out of all rule ; informal ; unconstitutional ; un- 
principled ! one great despotism and a number of petty 
despotisms; according to our English notions, reeking with 
the most " frightful injustice." But somehow or other it had 
answered the purpose. The injustice was intelligible injustice, 
for it was simply that of the strong will and the strong hand 
crushed down in turn by one still stronger. Petty governors, 
revenue-farmers, or kardars, might oppress the people and 
defraud the State, but they knew that, sooner or later, a day 
of reckoning would come when their accounts would be audited 
by the process of compulsory disgorgement, or in some parts of 
the country settled in the noose of the proconsular gibbet. No 
niceties of conscience and no intricacies of law opposed an 
obstacle to these summary adjustments. During the existence 
of that great fiction, the Council of Regency, we had begun to 
systematise and to complicate affairs ; and as we had found — at 
least, as far as we understood the matter — a clear field for our 
experiments, we now, on assuming undisguisedly the adminis- 
tration of the country, had a certain basis of our own to 
operate upon, and little or nothing to clear away. 

The system of administration now introduced into the 
Panjab, formal and precise as it may have been when com- 
pared with the rude simplicity of the old Sikh Government, 
was loose and irregular in comparison with the strict procedure 
of the Regulation Provinces. The administrators, whether 

* Ante, p. 12. I have here named only those distinguished during the 
earlier deriod of our Panjabi career. Others there were, appointed at a later 
period, equally entitled to honourable; mention. 


soldiers or civilians, were limited to the discharge of no par- 
ticular departmental functions. They were judges, revenue- 
collectors, thief-catchers, diplomatists, conservancy officers, and 
sometimes recruiting Serjeants and chaplains, all in one. Men 
trained in such a school as this, and under such masters as the 
Lawrences, became equal to any fortune, and in no conjuncture, 
however critical, were ever likely to fail. There was hardly 
one among them who did not throw his whole heart into his 
work ; who ever thought of ease, or leisure, or any personal 
enjoyment beyond that which comes from an honest sense of ' 
duty done. They lived among the people of the countiy, their 
tents open to all the points of the compass ; * and won by their 
personal bearing the confidence and the admiration of all who 
came within their reach. 

And so, far sooner than even sanguine men ventured to 
predict, the Pan jab began to settle down under its new rulers. 
Even the old Jvhalsa fighting-men accepted their position, and 
with a manly resignation looking cheerfully at the inevitable, 
confessed that they had been beaten in fair fight, and sub- 
mitted themselves to the English conqueror. Some were 
enlisted into the new Panjabi Irregular Regiments, which were 
raised for the internal defence of the province. Others betook 
themselves, with the pensions or gratuities which were bestowed 
upon them, to their fields, and merged themselves into the 
agricultural population. There was no fear of any resurrection 
of the old national cause. For whilst the people were forced 
to surrender all their weapons of war — their guns, their 
muskets, their bayonets, their sabres, their spears — the whole 
province was bristling with British arms. An immense 

* Sir John Malcolm used to say that the only way to govern the people of 
a newly-acquired country was by means of char durwaseh kolah, or four doors 
open. That the Panjabi officials well understood this, here is a pleasant 
illustrative proof, from a paper written by one of them : — " For eight months 
in the year the tent is the proper home of him who loves his duties and his 
people. Thus he comes to know and be known of them ; thus personal in- 
fluence and local knowledge give him a power not to be won by bribes or 
upheld by bayonets. The notables of the neighbourhood meet their friend 
and ruler on his morning march ; greybeards throng round his unguarded 
door with presents of the best fruits of the land, or a little sugar, spices, and 
almonds, according to the fashion of their country, and are never so happy as 
when allowed to seat themselves on the carpet and talk over old times and 
new events — the promise of the harvest and the last orders of the rulers." — 
Calcutta Review, vol. xxxiii. 


military force was maintained in the Panjab. It was a happy 
circumstance that, as the Indus had now become our boundary 
and the country of the Sikhs our frontier province, it was 
necessary for purposes of external defence, after the apparent 
settling down of our newly-acquired territories, still to keep 
our regular troops, European and native, at a strength more 
than sufficient to render utterly harmless all the turbulent 
elements of Panjabi society. Had the British army been with- 
drawn from the Panjab, as at a latter period it was from Oudh, 
it is hard to say what might not have resulted from our con- 
fidence and incaution. 

On the acquisition of a new country and the extinction of an 
old dynasty, it has commonly happened that the chief sufferers 
by the revolution have been found among the aristocracy of the 
land. The great masses of the people have been considerately, 
indeed generously treated, but the upper classes have been 
commonly prostrated by the annexing hand, and have never 
recovered from the blow. This may be partly attributed to 
what is so often described as the " inevitable tendency " of such 
a change from a bad to a good government. It has been 
assumed that the men whom we have found in the enjoyment 
of all the privileges of wealth and social position, have risen to 
this eminence by spoliation and fraud, and maintained it by 
cruelty and oppression. And it is true that the antecedents of 
many of them would not bear a very jealous scrutiny. Now, so 
far as the substitution of a strong and pure for a weak and 
corrupt government must necessarily have checked the pros- 
perous career of those who were living on illicit gains and 
tyrannous exactions, it was, doubtless, the inevitable tendency 
of the change to injure, if not to ruin them, as the leaf must 
perish when the stem dies. But it must be admitted that for 
some years past the idea of a native aristocracy had been an 
abomination in the eyes of English statesmen in India; that 
we had desired to see nothing between the Sarkar, or Govern- 
ment, and the great masses of the people ; and that, however 
little we might have designed it, we had done some great 
wrongs to men, whose misfortune, rather than whose fault, it 
was that they were the growth of a corrupt system. There 
was at the bottom of this a strong desire for the welfare of the 
people — an eager and a generous longing to protect the weak 
against the tyranny of the strong; but benevolence, like 
ambition, sometimes overleaps itself, and falls prostrate on the 


other side, and out of our very love of justice come sometimes 
unjust deeds. 

To the great chiefs of the Pan jab the annexation of the 
country to the British Empire was a source of sore disquietude.* 
Mercy to the vanquished in the hour of victory was not one of 
the weaknesses they had been accustomed to contemplate. 
They had played for a great stake, and they had lost. They 
had brought their losses on themselves. They had invited by 
their own acts the conflict which had ruined them. In no one 
instance had our policy been aggressive. We had not coveted 
the possession of the Panjab. We had not invited either the first 
or the second great conflict between the British and the Sikh 
armies. A brave nation fighting for its independence is one of 
the noblest spectacles of humanity ; and the leaders of such a 
movement have just claim to sympathy and respect. But these 
men had risen against us whilst they pretended to be our 
friends. They had soiled their patriotism by treachery, and 
forfeited their honour by falsehood and deceit. Still, to a man 
of large mind and catholic spirit like Henry Lawrence, it could 
not seem right to judge these Sirdars as he would the flower of 
European chivalry. So he dealt gently with their offences ; 
and when he came to consider their position under the new 
Government, he respected their fallen fortunes, and laid a 
lighter hand upon their tenures than higher authority was 
altogether willing to sanction. That a large portion of the 
revenue would be alienated by grants to military chiefs and to 
priestly sinecurists was certain ; not less certain did it appear 
that the money might be better bestowed. Still, it might be 
politic, even in a financial aspect, to tolerate for a time abuses 
of this kind, as not the most expensive means of reconciling the 
influential classes to our rule. Thus argued Henry Lawrence. 
So these privileged classes received from him, in many 
instances, though not all that he wished to give, more perhaps 

* This was admitted in the first Panjab Report, the following passage of 
which may be advantageously quoted : — " A great revolution cannot happen 
without injuring some classes. When a State falls, its nobility and its sup- 
porters must to some extent suffer with it ; a dominant sect and party once 
moved by political ambition and religious enthusiasm, cannot return to the 
ordinary "level of society and the common occupations of life without feeling 
some discontent and some enmity against their powerful but humane con- 
querors. But it is probable that the mass of the people will advance in 
material prosperity and in moral elevation under the influence of British rule." 


than they had dared to expect. Existing incumbents were 
generally respected ; and the privileges enjoyed by one genera- 
tion were to be only partially resumed in the next. 

Thus, by a well-apportioned mixture of vigour and clemency, 
the submission, if not the acquiescence, of the more dangerous 
classes was secured ; and our administrators were left, un- 
disturbed by the fear of internal revolt, to prosecute their 
ameliorative measures. It would be beyond the scope of such a 
narrative as this to write in detail of the operations which 
were carried out, under the Labor Board, at once to render 
British rule a blessing to the people, and the possession of the 
Panjab an element of strength and security to the British 
Empire. These great victories of peace are reserved for others 
to record. Tbat the measures were excellent, that the men 
were even better than the measures, that the administration of 
the Panjab was a great fact, at which Englishmen pointed with 
pride and on which foreigners dwelt with commendation, is 
freely admitted, even by those who are not wont to see much 
that is good in the achievements of the British Government in 
India. Under the fostering care of the Governor-General, who 
traversed the country from one end to the other, and saw every- 
thing with his own eyes, the " Panjab system " became the 
fashion, and men came to speak and to write of it as though it 
were a great experiment in government originated by Lord Dal- 
housie. But it was not a new system. It had been tried long 
years before, with marked success, and was still in force in other 
parts of India, though it had never been carried out on so large 
a scale, or in so fine a country, or been the darling of a viceroy. 
The only novelty in the construction of the administration was 
the Labor Board, and that was abandoned as a failure. 

I do not say that it ivas a failure ; but it was so regarded by 
Lord Dalhousie, who, in 1853, remorselessly signed its death- 
warrant. A delicate operation, indeed, was the breaking up of 
the Panjabi Cabinet and the erection of an autocracy in its 
place. It was the will of the Governor-General that the chief 
direction of affairs should be consigned to the hands, not of 
many, but of one. And when the rumour of this resolution 
went abroad, there was scarcely a house, or a bungalow, or a 
single-poled tent occupied by an English officer, in which the 
future of the Panjab — the question of the Lawrences — was not 
eagerly discussed. Was Henry or was John Lawrence to remain 
supreme director of affairs ? So much was to be said in favour 


of the great qualities of each brother, that it was difficult to 
arrive at any anticipatory solution of the question. But it was 
in the character of the Governor-General himself that the key 
to the difficulty should have been sought. Lord Hardinge 
would have chosen Henry Lawrence. Lord Dalhousie chose 
John. No surprise is now expressed that it was so ; for, in 
these days, the character and policy of Dalhousie are read by 
the broad light of history. No regret is now felt that it was 
so; for, when the great hurricane of which I am about to 
write swept over India, each of those two great brothers was, 
by God's providence, found in his right place. But there were 
many at the time who grieved that the name of Henry Law- 
rence, who had been for so many years associated with all their 
thoughts of British influence in the Sikh country, and who had 
paved the way to all our after successes, was to be expunged 
from the list of Panjabi administrators. It was said that he 
sympathised overmuch with the fallen state of Sikhdom, and 
sacrificed the revenue to an idea; that he was too enger to 
provide for those who suffered by our usurpation ; whilst Dal- 
housie, deeming that the balance-sheet would be regarded as 
the great test and touchstone of success, was eager to make the 
Panjab pay. John Lawrence, it was said, better understood the 
art of raising a revenue. He was willing, in his good brotherly 
heart, to withdraw from the scene in favour of Henry ; but the 
Governor-General needed his services. So he was appointed 
Chief-Commissioner of the Panjab, and anew theatre was found 
for the exercise of Henry Lawrence's more chivalrous bene- 
volence amoDg the ancient states of Eajputana. 

Outwardly, authoritatively, and not untruthfully, the ex- 
planation was, that the work of the soldier-statesman was done, 
that the transition-period in which Henry Lawrence's services 
were so especially needed had passed ; that the business of 
internal administration was principally such as comes within 
the range of the civil officer's duties ; and that a civilian with 
large experience, especially in revenue matters, was needed to 
direct all the numerous details of the Executive Government. 
Dalhousie never liked the Board. It was not a description of 
administrative agency likely to find favour in his eyes ; and it 
is not impossible that he placed, with some reluctance, at the 
head of it a man who had not approved the original policy of 
annexation. But he could not have read Henry Lawrence's 
character so badly as to believe for a moment that, on that 


account, the policy once accomplished, he could have heen less 
eager for its success, or less zealous in working it out. There 
was the indication, however, of a fundamental difference of 
opinion, which as time advanced hecame more and more appa- 
rent, for Henry's generous treatment of his fallen enemies came 
from that very source of enlarged sympathy which rendered the 
policy of annexation distasteful to him. It was natural, there- 
fore, that the Governor- General, who had resolved to rid himself 
of the Board on the first fitting opportunity, should have selected 
as the agent of his pet policy, the administrator of his pet pro- 
vince, the civilian who concurred with, rather than the soldier 
who dissented from, his views. The fitting opportunity came 
at last, for there was a redistribution of some of the higher 
political offices ; * and Dalhousie then swept away the obnoxious 
institution, and placed the administration of the Panjab in the 
hands of a single man. 

Henry Lawrence bowed to the decision, but was not reconciled 
to it. He betook himself to his new duties a sadder and a 
wiser man. He did not slacken in good service to the State ; 
but he never again had the same zest for his work. Believing 
that he had been unfairly and ungratefully treated, he had no 
longer his old confidence in his master, and as the Dalhousie 
policy developed itself, under the ripening influence of time, he 
saw more clearly that he was not one to find favour in the eyes 
of the Governor-General. Much that he had before but dimly 
seen and partly understood now became fully revealed to him 
in the clear light of day. Once, and once only, there was any 
official conflict ; but Henry Lawrence saw much that whilst he 
deplored he could not avert, and he sighed to think that his prin- 
ciples were out of date and his politics out of fashion. 

In the meanwhile, John Lawrence reigned in the Panjab. 
The capacity for administration, which he had evinced as a 
Member of the Board, had now free scope for exercise, and was 
soon fully developed. His name became great throughout the 
land, and he deserved the praise that was lavished upon him. 
Eight or wrong he did all in accordance with the faith that was 

* The Haidarabad Residency was about to be vacated. It was an office 
that had been held by Sir Charles Metcalfe and other eminent men. I 
believe that Henry Lawrence suggested (for the days of the Board had been 
for some time numbered) that either he or his brother should be sent to 
Haidarabad. Lord Dalhousie, however, sent General Low to the Court of the 
Nizam, and gave Henry Lawrence the scarcely less honourable appointment 
of Governor-General's agent in Rajpiitana. 


in him. He was a fitting agent of Dalhousie's policy, only because 
he believed in that policy. And happily the greater part of his 
work lay along the straight road of undebatable beneficence. 
How he worked, day after day, early and late, and how all men 
worked under him, is a history now well known. He was em- 
phatically a man without a weakness. Strong himself, bone 
and muscle, head and heart, of adamantine strength, that would 
neither bend nor break, he expected others to be equally strong. 
They sighed, perhaps they inwardly protested, but they knew 
that the work he exacted from them he gave, in his own 
person, unstintingly to the State ; and they could not regard as 
a hard task-master one who tasked himself hardest of all. From 
moral infirmities of all kinds he appeared to be equally free. 
He did not even seem to be ambitious. Men said that he had 
no sentiment, no romance. We so often judge our neighbours 
wrongly in this, that I hesitate to adopt the opinion ; but there 
was an intense reality about him such as I have never seen 
equalled. He seemed to be continually toiling onwards, up- 
wards, as if life were not meant for repose, with the grand 
princely motto, " I serve," inscribed in characters of light on his 
forehead. He served God as unceasingly as he served the State; 
and set before all his countrymen in the Panjab the true pattern 
of a Christian gentleman. 

And it was not thrown away. The Christian character of the 
British administration in the Panjab has ever been one of its 
most distinguishing features. It is not merely that great 
humanising measures were pushed forward with an alacrity 
most honourable to a Christian nation — that the moral elevation 
of the people was continually in the thoughts of our adminis- 
trators ; but that in their own personal characters they sought 
to illustrate the religion which they professed. Wherever two 
or three were gathered together, the voice of praise and prayer 
went up from the white man's tent. It had been so during the 
Protectorate, when, in the wildest regions and in the most 
stirring times, men like the Lawrences, Eeynell Taylor, and 
Herbert Edwardes, never forgot the Christian Sabbath.* And 

* Many will remember that delightful little story, so pleasantly told in 
Edwardes's " Year on the Panjab frontier," of Reynell Taylor's invitation to 
prayer on a Sunday morning in February, 1848, and of the question whether 
the half-caste colonel, " John Holmes," who had " always attended prayers at 
Peshawar " in George Lawrence's house, was sufficiently a Christian to be 
admitted to swell the two or three into three or four. 

1849.1 THE BURMESE. 47 

now that peace and order reigned over the country, Christianity 
asserted itself more demonstratively, and Christian churches 
rose at our bidding. There was little or none, too, of that great 
scandal which had made our names a hissing and a reproach in 
Afghanistan. Our English officers, for the most part, lived 
pure lives in that heathen land ; and private immorality under 
the administration of John Lawrence grew into a grave public 

And so the Panjab administration floui'ished under the Chief- 
Commissioner and his assistants ; * and the active 
mind of Lord Dalhousie was enabled to direct itself c° nquest of 

. Pegu* 

to new objects. Already, far down on the south- 
eastern boundary of our empire — at the point farthest removed 
of all from the great country whose destinies we have been 
considering — the seeds of war had been sown broad-cast. Ever 
since 1826, when the first contest with Ava had been brought 
to a close by the surrender to the English of certain tracts of 
country in which no Englishman could live, our relations with 
the Burmese had been on an unsatisfactory footing. In truth, 
they were altogether a very unsatisfactory people ; arrogant 
and pretentious, blind to reason, and by no means anxious to 
manifest their appreciation of the nice courtesies of diplomatic 
intercourse. To find just cause, according to European notions 
for chastising these people would at any time have been easy. 
But their insolence did us very little harm. We could tolerate, 
without loss of credit or of prestige, the discourtesies of a 
barbarian Government on the outskirts of civilisation. An 
insult on the banks of the Ira wad i was very different from an 
insult on the banks of the Jamna. The Princes and chiefs of 
India knew nothing and cared nothing about our doings far 
out beyond the black waters of the Bay of Bengal. But at last 
these discourtesies culminated in an outrage which Lord Dal- 
housie thought it became the British Government to resent. 
Whether, under more discreet management, redress might have 
been obtained and war averted, it is now of little moment to 
inquire. A sea-captain was appointed to conduct our diplomacy 
at Ban gun, and he conducted it successfully to a rupture. A 

* On the abolition of the Board, Mr. Montgomery, who had succeeded Mr 
Mansel as third member, became Judicial Commissioner, and Mr. Macleod 
was appointed Financial Commissioner. 


war ensued, to which the future historian of India may'devote 
a not very inviting chapter, but its details have nothing to do 
with the story of this book. English arms were triumphant, 
and the province of Pegu lay at our feet. Dalhousie annexed 
it to the British Empire, " in order that the Government of 
India might hold from the Burmese State both adequate com- 
pensation for past injury, and the best security against future 
danger." Thus did the British Empire, which had so recently been 
extended to the north-west, stretch itself out to the south-east ; 
and the white man sat himself down on the banks of the Irawadi 
as he had seated himself on the banks of the Indus. There were 
not wanting those who predicted that the whole of Burmah would 
soon become British territory, and that then the " uncontrol- 
able principle," by reference to which a great English statesman 
justified the seizure of Sindh, would send the English conqueror 
to grope his way through the Shan States and Siam to Cochin- 
China. But these apprehensions were groundless. The ad- 
ministrator began his work in Pegu, as he had begun his work 
in the Panjab, and there was no looking beyond the frontier ; 
but, on the other hand, a desire to avoid border disputes, or, if 
they could not be avoided, to treat them as matters of light 
account, inevitable and soon to be forgotten. There was a 
military officer, admirably fitted for the work, why had served 
long and successfully, as a civil administrator, in Arakan ; who 
knew the Burmese language and the Burmese people, and had 
a great name along the eastern coast. Those isolated regions 
beyond the Bay of Bengal are the grave of all catholic fame. 
Whilst the name of Lawrence was in all men's mouths, 
Phayre was pursuing the even tenor of his way, content with a 
merely local reputation. But the first, and as I write the only 
commissioner of Pegu, is fairly entitled to a place in the very 
foremost rank of those English administrators who have striven 
to make our rule a blessing to the people of India, and have 
not failed in the attempt. 

In India the native mind readily pervades vast distances, and 
takes little account of space that the foot can travel. But it is 
bewildered and confused by the thought of the " black water." 
The unknown is the illimitable. On the continent of India, 
therefore, neither our war-successes nor our peace-successes in 
the Burmese country stirred the heart of Indian society. In 
the lines of the Sipahi and the shops of the money-changer they 
were not matters of eager interest and voluble discourse. We 


might have sacked the cities of Ava and Amarapura, and 
caused their sovereign lord to be trodden to death by one of his 
white elephants without exciting half the interest engendered 
by a petty outbreak in Central India, or the capture of a small 
fort in Bundelkhand. The Princes and chiefs of the great 
continent of Hindostan knew little and cared less about a 
potentate, however magnificent in his own dominions, who 
neither worshipped their gods nor spoke their language, and 
who was cut off from their brotherhood by the intervention of 
the great dark sea. We gained no honour, and we lost no 
confidence, by the annexation of this outlying province ; but it 
opened to our Native Soldiery a new field of service, and 
unfortunately it was beyond the seas. 




So, three years after his arrival in India, Dalhousie had 
brought to a close two great military campaigns, and had 
captured two great provinces. He had then done with foreign 
wars; his after- career was one of peaceful invasion. Erelong 
there was a word which came to be more dreaded than that of 
Conquest. The native mind is readily convinced by the inex- 
orable logic of the sword. There is no appeal from such 
arbitration. To be invaded and to be conquered is a state of 
things appreciable by the inhabitant of India. It is his 
" kismat ; " his fate ; God's will. One stronger than he cometh 
and taketk all that he hath. There are, however, manifest 
compensations. His religion is not invaded ; his institutions 
are not violated. Life is short, and the weak man, patient aud 
philosophical, is strong to endure and mighty to wait. But 
Lapse is a dreadful and an appalling word ; for it pursues the 
victim beyond the grave. Its significance in his eyes is nothing 
short of eternal condemnation. 

" The son," says the great Hindu lawgiver, " delivers his 
father from the hell called Pat." There are, he tells us, different 
kinds of sons ; there is the son begotten ; the son given ; the 
son by adoption ; and other filial varieties. It is the duty of 
the son to perform the funeral obsequies of the father. If they 
be not performed, it is believed that there is no resurrection to 
eternal bliss. The right of adoption is, therefore, one of the 
most cherished doctrines of Hinduism. In a country where 
polygamy is the rule, it might be supposed that the necessity 
of adopting another man's offspring, for the sake of these cere- 
monial ministrations, or for the continuance of an ancestral 
name, would be one of rare occurrence. But all theory on the 
subject is belied by the fact that the Princes and chiefs of India 
more frequently find themselves, at the close of their lives, 
without the solace of male offspring than with it. The Zenana 


is not an institution calculated to lengthen out a direct line of 
Princes. The alternative of adoption is one, therefore, to 
which there is frequent resort ; it is a source of unspeakable 
comfort in life and in death ; and politically it is as dear to the 
heart of a nation as it is personally to the individual it affects. 

It is with the question of Adoption only in its political 
aspects that I have to do in this place. There is a private and 
personal, as there is a public and political, side to it. No 
power on earth beyond a man's own will can prevent him from 
adopting a son, or can render that adoption illegal if it be 
legally performed. But to adopt a son as a successor to private 
property is one thing, to adopt an heir to titular dignities and 
territorial sovereignty is another. Without the consent of the 
Paramount State no adoption of the latter kind can be valid. 
Whether in this case of a titular Prince or a possessor of 
territorial rights, dependent upon the will of the Government, 
Hinduism is satisfied by the private adoption and the penalties 
of the sonless state averted, is a question for the pundits to 
determine ; but no titular chief thinks the adoption complete 
unless he can thereby transmit his name, his dignities, his 
rights and privileges to his successor, and it can in no wise be 
said that the son takes the place of his adoptive father if he 
does not inherit the most cherished parts of that father's 

But whether the religious element does or does not rightly 
enter into the question of political adoptions, nothing is 
more certain than that the right, in this larger political 
sense, was ever dearly prized by the Hindus, and was not alien 
ated from them by the Lords-Paramount who had preceded us. 
The imperial recognition was required, and it was commonly 
paid for by a heavy "nazarana," or succession-duty, but in this 
the Mughul rulers were tolerant. It was reserved for the British 
to substitute for the right of adoption what was called " the 
right of lapse," and in default of male heirs of the body law- 
fully begotten to absorb native principalities into the great 
amalgam of our British possessions. " In 18-49," wrote Lord 
Dalhousie, in his elaborate farewell minute, " the principality 
of Satarah was included in the British dominions by right of 
lapse, the Eajah having died without male heir." The Princes 
of Satarah were the descendants of Sivaji, the founder and the 
head of the Maratha Empire. Their power and their glory had 
alike departed. But they were still great in tradition, and 

e 2 


were looked up to with respect by the Marathas of Western 
India. In April, 1848, the last Eajah died; * and a question 
arose as to whether, no direct male heir of the body having been 
left by the deceased, a son by adoption, or a collateral member 
of the family, should be permitted to succeed him, or whether 
the rights and titles of the principality should be declared to be 
extinct. Sir George Clerk was then Governor of Bombay. He 
looked at the Treaty of 1819; saw that "the British Govern- 
ment agreed to cede in perpetual sovereignty to the Rajah of 
Satarah, his heirs and successors," the territories which he had 
held, and at once declared himself in favour of the continuance 
of the native Raj. The members of his Council looked upon 
the question as purely one of expediency, and considered it the 
duty of the British Government to decide it in the manner 
most advantageous to ourselves. But the Governor refused to 
admit any secondary considerations, saying, "If it be incon- 
sistent with justice to refuse confirmation to the act of adoption, 
it is useless to inquire whether it is better for the interests of 
the people or of the empire at large to govern the Satarah terri- 
tories through the medium of a native Rajah, or by means of 
our own administration." The trumpet of that statesman was 
not likely to give an uncertain sound. 

When this question first arose, the Governor-General was in 
his novitiate. But new as he was to the consideration of such 
subjects, he does not appear to have faltered or hesitated. The 
opinions, the practical expression of which came subsequently 
to be called the " policy of annexation," were farmed at the 
very outset of his career, and rigidly maintained to its close. 
Eight months after his first assumption of the Government of 
India, he placed on record a confession of faith elicited by this agi- 
tation of the Satarah question. Subsequent events of far greater 
magnitude dwarfed that question in the public mind, and later 
utterances of the great minute-writer caused this first manifesto 
to be comparatively forgotten ; but a peculiar interest must 
ever be associated with this earliest exposition of Dalhousie's 
political creed, and therefore I give it in the words of the 

* Appa Sahib. He had succeeded his brother, who in 1839 was deposed, 
and, as I think, very rightly, on account of a series of intrigues against the 
British Government, equally foolish and discreditable. It is worthy of remark, 
that Sir Robert Grant, being satisfied of the Rajah's guilt, proposed to punish 
him in the manner least likely to be advantageous to ourselves. 


statesman himself : " The Government," he wrote on the 30th 
August, 1848, "is bound in duty, as well as policy, to act on 
every such occasion with the purest integrity, and in the most 
scrupulous observance of good faith. Where even a shadow of 
doubt can be shown, the claim should at once be abandoned. But 
where the right to territory by lapse is clear, the Government 
is bound to take that which is justly and legally its due, and to 
extend to that territory the benefits of our sovereignty, present 
and prospective. In like manner, while I would not seek to lay 
down any inflexible rule with respect to adoption, I hold that, 
on all occasions, where heirs natural shall fail, the territory should 
be made to lapse, and adoption should not be permitted, except- 
ing in those cases in which some strong political reason may 
render it expedient to depart from this general rule. There 
may be conflict of opinion as to the advantage or the propriety 
of extending our already vast possessions beyond their present 
limits. No man can more sincerely deprecate than I do any 
extension of the frontiers of our territory which can be avoided, 
or which may not become indispensably necessary from con- 
siderations of our own safety, and of the maintenance of the 
tranquillity of our provinces. But I cannot conceive it possible 
for any one to dispute the policy of taking advantage of every 
just opportunity which presents itself for consolidating the 
territories that already belong to us, by taking possession of 
States that may lapse in the midst of them ; for thus getting 
rid of these petty intervening principalities, which may be 
made a means of annoyance, but which can never, I venture to 
think, be a source of strength, for adding to the resources of the 
public Treasury, and for extending the uniform application of 
our system of government to those whose best interests we sin- 
cerely believe will be promoted thereby. Such is the general 
principle that, in our humble opinion, ought to guide the con- 
duct of the British Government in its disposal of independent 
States, where there has been a total failure of heirs whatsoever, 
or where permission is asked to continue by adoption a succession 
which fails in the natural line." 

The Court of Directors of the East India Company confirmed 
the decision of the Governor-General, and Satarah was annexed. 
There were men, however, in the Direction who protested 
against the measure as an act of unrighteous usurpation, " We 
are called upon," said Mr. Tucker, ever an opponent of wrong, 
"to consider and decide upon a claim of right, and I have 


always felt that our best policy is that which most closely 
adheres to the dictates of justice." " We ought not to forget," 
said Mr. Shepherd, who, on great questions of this kind, wag 
commonly to be found side by side with his veteran friend, 
contending for the rights of the native Princes of India, " that 
during the rise and progress of our empire in the East, our 
Governments have continued to announce and proclaim to the 
people of India that not only should all their rights and privi- 
leges which existed under preceding Governments be preserved 
and maintained, but that their laws, habits, customs, and pre- 
judices should be respected." * And what right more cherished, 
what custom more honoured, than the right and custom of 
adoption ? But the majority of the Court of Directors supported 
the views of the Governor-General. They had heard the voice 
of the charmer. And from that time the policy of Dalhousie 
became the policy of Leadenhall-street, and the " Eight of 
Lapse " was formally acknowledged. 

And it was not, for reasons which I have already given, 
likely long to remain a dead letter. Soon another of the 

agpur ' great Maratha chiefs was said to be dying, and in a few 
days news came to Calcutta that he was dead. It was the 
height of the cold season of 1853 — a few days before Christmas 
— when the slow booming of minute guns from the Saluting 
Battery of Fort William announced the death of Baguji Bhonsla, 
Bajah of Nagpur. At the age of forty -seven he succumbed to a 
complication of disorders, of which debauchery, cowardice, and 
obstinacy were the chief. There have been worse specimens of 
royalty, both in Eastern and Western Palaces, than this poor, 
worn-out, impotent sot ; for although he was immoderately 
addicted to brandy and dancing-girls, he rather liked his people 
to be happy, and was not incapable of kindness that caused no 
trouble to himself. He had no son to succeed him ; a posthu- 
mous son was an impossibility; and he had not adopted an 

It may seem strange and contradictory that if the right of 
adoption as sanctioned by religion and prescribed by ancestral 
usage be so dear to the people of India, they should ever fail to 
adopt in default of heirs of their body. But we know that they 
often do ; and the omission is readily explicable by a reference 

* Colonel Oliphaut and Mr. Leslie Melville recorded minutes on the same 


to the ordinary weaknesses of humanity. We know that even 
in this country, with all the lights of civilisation and Christi- 
anity to keep us from going astray, thousands of reasoning 
creatures are restrained from making their wills by a vague 
feeling of apprehension that there is something " unlucky " in 
such a procedure ; that death will come the sooner for such a 
provision against its inevitable occurrence. What wonder, 
then, that in a country which is the very hotbed of superstition, 
men should be restrained by a kindred feeling from providing 
against the event of their dissolution? But in this case there 
is not only the hope of life, but the hope of offspring, to cause 
the postponement of the anticipatory ceremony. Men, under 
the most discouraging circumstances, still cling to the belief 
that by some favourable reaction of nature they may, even when 
stricken in years, beget an heir to their titles and possessions. 
In this sense, too, adoption is held to be unlucky, because it is 
irreligious. It is like a surrender of all hope, and a betrayal of 
want of faith in the power and goodness of the Almighty. No 
man expects to beget a son after he has adopted one. 

In the case, too, of this Maratha Prince, there were special 
reasons why he should have abstained from making such a pro- 
vision for the continuance of his House. According to the law 
and usage of his country, an adoption by his widow would have 
been as valid as an adoption by himself. It was natural, there- 
fore, and assuredly it was in accordance with the character of 
the man, who was gormandising and dallying with the hand of 
death upon him, that he should have left the ceremony to be 
performed by others, Whether it was thus vicariously per- 
formed is not very clearly ascertainable. But it is certain that 
the British Eesident reported that there had been no adoption. 
The Eesident was Mr. Mansel, who had been one of the first 
members of the Labor Board of Administration — a man with a 
keen sense of justice, favourable to the maintenance of native 
dynasties, and therefore, in those days, held to be crotchety and 
unsound. He had several times pressed the Rajah on the sub- 
ject of adoption, but had elicited no satisfactory response. He 
reported unequivocally that nothing had been done, and asked 
for the instructions of the Supreme Government. 

Lord Dalhousie was then absent from Calcutta. He was 
making one of his cold-weather tours of inspection — seeing with 
his own eyes the outlying province of Pegu, which had fallen 
by right of conquest into his hands. The Council, in hia 


absence, hesitated to act, and all the instructions, therefore, 
which they could send were to the effect that the Resident 
should provide for the peace of the country, and keep things 
quiet until further orders. There was no doubt about Dal- 
housie's decision in such a case. Had the Rajah adopted a son, 
there was little likelihood of the Governor- General's sanction of 
the adoption ; but as he had wilfully failed to perform the 
ceremony, it appeared to be as clear as noon-day that the great 
organ of the Paramount State would jn'onounce the fatal sen- 
tence of Lapse. 

Dalhousie returned to Calcutta, and with characteristic 
energy addressed himself to the masteiy of the whole question. 
Before the first month of the new year had worn to a 
J i8'54 8 ' c l° se » ne attached his signature to an elaborate minute, 
in which he exhausted all the arguments which could be 
adduced in favour of the annexation of the country. Printed 
at full length, it would occupy fifty pages of this book. It was 
distinguished by infinite research and unrivalled powers of 
special pleading. It contended that there had been no adoption, 
and that if there had been, it would be the duty of the British 
Government to refuse to recognise it. " I am well aware," he 
said, "that the continuance of the Raj of Nagpur under some 
Maratha rule, as an act of grace and favour on the part of the 
British Government, would be highly acceptable to native 
sovereigns and nobles in India ; and there are, doubtless, many 
of high authority who would advocate the policy on that special 
ground. I understand the sentiment and respect it ; but re- 
membering the responsibility that is upon me, I cannot bring 
my judgment to admit that a kind and generous sentiment 
should outweigh a just and prudent policy." 

Among the members of the Supreme Council at that time was 
Colonel John Low. An old officer of the Madras army, who 
long years before, when the Peshwa and the Bhonsla were in 
arms against the British, had sate at the feet of John Malcolm, 
and had graduated in diplomacy under him ; he had never for- 
gotten the lessons which he had learnt from his beloved chief; 
he had never ceased to cherish those " kind and generous senti- 
ments " of which the Governor-General had spoken in his minute. 
His whole life had been spent at the Courts of the native Princes 
of India. He had represented British interests long and faithfully 
at the profligate Court of Lakhnao. He had contended with 
the pride, the obstinacy, and the superstition of the effete 

1854.] JOHN LOW. 67 

Princes of Kajputana. He had played, and won, a difficult 
game, with the bankrupt State of Haidarabad. He knew what 
were the vices of Indian Princes and the evils of native mis- 
rule. But he had not so learnt the lesson presented to him by 
the spectacle of improvident rulers and profligate Courts ; of 
responsibilities ignored and opportunities wasted ; as to believe 
it to be either the duty or the policy of the Paramount Govern- 
ment to seek " just occasions " for converting every misgoverned 
principality into a British province. Nor had he, knowing as 
he did, better perhaps than any of his countrymen, the real 
character of such misgovernment, ever cherished the conviction 
that the inhabitants of every native State were yearning for 
the blessings of this conversion. There were few such States 
left — Hindu or Muhammadan — but what remained from the 
wreck of Indian dynasties he believed it to be equally just and 
politic to preserve. And entertaining these opinions he spoke 
them out ; not arrogantly or offensively, but with what I believe 
may be described as the calm resolution of despair. He knew 
that he might speak with the tongue of angels, and yet that his 
speech would no more affect the practical result than a sounding 
brass or a tinkling cymbal. " What am I against so many ? he 
said ; nay, what am I against one ? Who will listen to the 
utterance of my ideas when opposed to the " deliberately- 
formed opinion of a statesman like the Marquis of Dalhousie, in 
whose well-proved ability and judgment and integrity of pur- 
pose they have entire confidence ?"* But great statesmen in 
times past had thought that the extension of British rule in 
India was, for our own sakes, to be arrested rather than 
accelerated ; that the native States were a source to us of 
strength rather than of weakness, and that it would go ill with 
us when there were none left.j 

Strong in this belief, Colonel Low recorded two minutes, pro- 

* Minute of Colonel John Low. February 10, 1854. 

t " If Great Britain shall retain her present powerful position among the 
States of Europe, it seems highly probable that, owing to the infringement of 
their treaties on the part of native Princes and other causes, the whole of 
India will, in the course of time, become one British province ; but many 
eminent statesmen have been of opinion that we ought most carefully to 
avoid unnecessarily accelerating the arrival of that great change ; and it is 
within my own knowledge that the following five great men were of that 
number — namely, Lord Hastings, Sir Thomas Munro, Sir John Malcolm, the 
Hon. Mountstuart Elphinatone, and Lord Metcalfe." — Minute, Feb. 10, 1854. 


testing against the impolicy and the injustice of the proposed 
annexation of Nagpur. He said that already the annexation of 
Satarah had in many parts of India had a bad moral effect ; * 
that it had shaken the confidence of the people in the justice 
and good faith of the British Government ; that people had 
asked what crime Satarah had committed that sentence of 
political death should thus have been pronounced against it ; 
that throughout India acquisition by conquest was well under- 
stood, and in many cases admitted to be right ; that the annexa- 
tion of the Panjab, for example, had not been regarded as a wrong, 
because the chiefs and people had brought it on themselves, but 
that the extinction of a loyal native State, in default of heirs, 
was not appreciable in any part of India, and that the exercise 
of the alleged right of lapse would create a common feeling of 
uncertainty and distrust at every Durbar in the country. He 
dwelt upon the levelling effects of British dominion, and urged 
that, as in our own provinces, the upper classes were invariably 
trodden down, it was sound policy to maintain the native States, 
if only as a means of providing an outlet for the energies of men 
of good birth and aspiring natures, who could never rise under 
British rule. He contended that our system of administration 
might be far better than the native system, but that the people 
did not like it better ; they clung to their old institutions, how- 
ever defective, and were averse to change, even though a change 
for the better. " In one respect," he said, " the natives of 
India are exactly like the inhabitants of all parts of the known 
world ; they like their own habits and customs better than 
those of foreigners." 

Having thus in unmeasured opposition to the Dalhousie 
theory flung down the gauntlet of the old school at the feet of 
the Governor-General, Low ceased from the enunciation of 
general principles, and turned to the discussion of the particular 

* " When I went to Malwa, in 1850, where I met many old acquaintances, 
whom I had known when a very young man, and over whom I held no autho- 
rity, I found these old acquaintances speak out much more distinctly as to 
their opinion of the Satarah case ; so much so, that I was on several occa- 
sions obliged to check thein. It is remarkable that every native who ever 
spoke to me respecting the annexation of Satarah, asked precisely the same 
question : ' What crime did the late Rajah commit that his country should 
be seized by the Company ? ' Thus clearly indicating their notions, that if 
any crime had been committed our act would have been justifiable, and not 
otherwise." — Minute of Colonel Low, Feb. 1 0, 1854. 

1854.] LOW'S MINUTES. 59 

case before him. He contended that the treaty between the 
British Government and the late Eajah did not limit the suc- 
cession to heirs of his body, and that, therefore, there was a 
clear title to succession in the Bhonsla family by means of a son 
adopted by either the Eajah himself or by his eldest widow, in 
accordance with law and usage. The conduct, he said, of the 
last Prince of Nagpur had not been such as to alienate this 
right; he had been loyal to the Paramount State, and his 
country had not been misgoverned ; there had been nothing to 
call for military interference on our part, and little to compel 
o-rave remonstrance and rebuke. For what crime, then, was 
his line to be cut off and the honours of his House extinguished 
for ever ? To refuse the right of adoption in such a case would, 
he alleged, be entirely contrary to the spirit, if not to the letter, 
of the treaty. But how was it to be conceded when it was not 
claimed ; when no adoption had been reported ; when it was 
certain that the Eajah had not exercised his right, and there 
had been no tidings of such a movement on the part of his 
widow? The answer to this was, that the Government had 
been somewhat in a hurry to extinguish the Eaj without wait- 
ing for the appearance of claimants, and that if they desired to 
perpetuate it, it was easy to find a fitting successor. 

Of such opinions as these Low expected no support in the 
Council-chamber of Calcutta — no support from the authorities 
at home. It little mattered, indeed, what the latter might 
think, for the annexation of Nagpur was decreed and to be 
accomplished without reference to England. As the extinction 
of the Satarah State had been approved by the Company, in the 
face of an undisputed adoption asserted at the right time, Dal- 
housie rightly judged that there would be no straining at a 
gnat in the Nagpur case, where there had been no adoption at all. 
Indeed, the general principles upon which he had based his pro- 
ceedings towards Satarah, in the first year of his administration 
having been accepted in Leaden hall-street, there could be no 
stickling about so mild an illustration of them as that afforded 
by the treatment of Nagpur. The justification of the policy in 
the latter instance is to be found in the fact that there was no 
assertion of an adoption — no claim put forward on behalf of any 
individual — at the time when the British Government was 
called upon to determine the course to be pursued. It is true 
that the provisional Government might, for a time, have been 
vested in the eldest widow of the deceased Prince, adoption by 


whom would have been recognised by Hindu law and Maratha 
usage ; but it was not probable that the British Government 
would have thus gone out of its way to bolster up a decayed 
Maratha dynasty, when the head of that Government con- 
scientiously believed that it was the duty of the Paramount 
State to consolidate its dominions by recognising only among 
these effete Princes succession by direct heirship of the body. 
Cherishing the faith which he did, Dalhousie would have gone 
grievously wrong, and he would have stood convicted of a 
glaring inconsistency, if he had adopted any other course ; so 
the kingdom of Barar was declared to have lapsed to the British 
Government, and the family of the Bhonsla was extinct. 

The country passed under British rule, and the people be- 
came British subjects, without an audible murmur of discontent 
except from the recesses of the palace. There the wretched 
ladies of the royal household, at first dismayed and paralysed 
by the blow which had fallen upon them, began, after a little 
space, to bestir themselves and to clamour for their asserted 
rights. Liberal pensions had been settled upon them ; but their 
family was without a head, and that which might soon have 
faded into an idea was rendered a galling and oppressive reality 
by the spoliation of the palace, which followed closely upon the 
extinction of the Kaj. The live stock and dead stock of the 
Bhonsla were sent to the hammer. It must have been a great 
day for speculative cattle-dealers at Sitabaldi when the royal 
elephants, horses, and bullocks were sold off at the price of car- 
rion ; * and a sad day, indeed, in the royal household, when the 
venerable Bankha Bai,f with all the wisdom and moderation 
of fourscore well-spent years upon her, was so stung by a sense 
of the indignity offered to her, that she threatened to fire the 
palace if the furniture were removed. But the furniture was 
removed, and the jewels of the Bhonsla family, with a few pro- 
pitiatory exceptions, were sent to the Calcutta market. And I 
have heard it said that these seizures, these sales, created a 

* Between five and six hundred elephants, camels, horses, and bullocks 
were sold for 1300Z. The Ham's sent a protest to the Commissioner, and 
memorialised the Governor-General, alleging, in the best English that the 
Palace could furnish, that "on the 4th instant (Sept.) the sale of animals, viz. 
bullocks, horses, camels, and elephants, commenced to sell by public auction 
and resolution — a pair her hackery bullocks, valued 100 rupees, sold in the 
above sale for 5 rupees." 

t The Bankha Baf was a widow of the deceased Rajah's grandfather. 


worse impression, not only in Barar, but in the surrounding 
provinces, than the seiziire of the kingdom itself. * 

But even in the midst of their degradation, these unfortunate 
ladies clung to the belief that the Bhonsla family would some 
day be restored and rehabilitated. The Governor-General had 
argued that the widow, knowing that her husband was dis- 
inclined to adopt, had, for like reasons, abstained from adoption. 
He admitted the right according to Maratha usage, but declared 
that she was unwilling to exercise it. He contended, too, that 
the Bankha Bai, the most influential of the royal ladies, would 
naturally be averse to a measure which would weaken her own 
authority in the palace. But his logic halted, and his prophecy 
failed. Both the elder and the younger lady were equally 
eager to perpetuate the regal dignities of their House. Mr. 
Mansel had suggested a compromise, in the shape of an arrange- 
ment somewhat similar to that which had been made with the 
Nawabs of the Karnatik, by which the title might be main- 
tained, and a certain fixed share of the revenue set apart for 
its dotation. But he had been severely censured for his indis- 
cretion, and had left Nagpiir in disgrace. He was, perhaps, the 
best friend that the Banis had in that conjuncture ; but — such 
is the value of opinion — they accused him, in the quaint Palace- 
English of their scribe, of " endeavouring to gain baronetage 
and exaltation of rank by reporting to the Governor-General 
that the late Bajah was destitute of heirs to succeed him, with 
a view to his Lordship being pleased to order the annexation 
of the territory." | But there was not a man in the country 

* I know that the question of public and private property, in such cases, is 
a very difficult one, and I shall not attempt to decide it here. I only speak 
of the intense mortification which these sales create in the family itself, and 
the bad impression which they produce throughout the country. Eightly or 
wrongly, they cast great discredit on our name ; and the gain of money is not 
worth the loss of character. 

t Lord Dalhousie, in his Nagpiir Minute, says that the Rajah did not 
adopt, partly because he did not like to acknowledge his inability to beget a 
son, and partly because he feared that the existence of an adopted son might 
some day be used as a pretext for deposing him. He then observes : " The 
dislike of the late Rajah to the adoption of a successor, was of course known 
to his widow ; and although the custom of the Marathas exempts her from that 
necessity for having the concurrence of her husband in adoption, which general 
Hindu law imperatively requires, in order to render the act of adoption valid, 
still the known disinclination of the Rajah to all adoption could not fail to 
disincline his widow to have recourse to adoption after his decease." It will 


less disposed to annex provinces and to humour Governors than 
Charles Mansel, and instead of being exalted in rank, he sacri- 
ficed his prospects to his principles and retired from the 

Failing altogether to move the Governor-General, the Ranis 
sent agents to London, but with no better result. After the 
manner of native emissaries from Indian Courts, they spent 
large sums of money in feeing lawyers and printing pamphlets, 
without making any impression on Leadenhall -street or Cannon- 
row, and at last, being recalled by their employers, and having 
nothing wherewith to pay their debts, they flung themselves 
on the generosity of their opponents, and were sent home by 
the help of the great Corporation whom they had reviled. 
Meanwhile, the elder widow of the late Rajah died, and a 
boy, of another branch, whom the Ranis called Janoji Bhonsla, 
and in whose person they desired to prolong the Nagpur dynasty, 
was formally adopted by the dying lady. Clutching at any 
chance, however desperate, an attempt was made to revive the 
question of the political adoption; but the sagacity of the 
Bankha Bai must have seen that it was too late, and that 
nothing but the private property of the deceased Princess 
could be thus secured to the adopted heir. The country of 
the Bhonslas had become as inalienably a part of the Company's 
possessions as the opium go-downs of Patna, or the gun-factory 
at Kasipur. 

Thus, within a few years of each other, the names of two of 
the great rulers of the Maratha Empire ceased from off the roll 
of Indian Princes ; and the territories of the Company were 
largely increased. Great in historical dignity as was the 
Satarah Raj, it was comparatively limited in geographical 
extent, whilst the Bhonsla, though but a servant in rank, 
owned rich and productive lands, yielding in profusion, among 
other good gifts, the great staple of our English manufactures.* 
Whilst the annexation of the Paujab and of Pegu extended the 
British Empire at its two extreme ends, these Maratha acquisi- 

be seen at once that the ordinary logical acumen of the Governor-General 
failed him in this instance, for the very reasons given by the writer himself 
for the failure of adoption by the Rajah ceased altogether to be operative, 
ipso facto, " after his decease." 

* Lord Dalhousie put forth the cotton-growing qualities of the Barar 
country as one of the many arguments which he adduced in favour of the 
annexation of the territory. 

1854.] SATARAH AND NAGPtJR. (?3 

tions helped to consolidate it. Some unseemly patches, breaking 
the great rose-hued surface, which spoke of British supremacy 
in the East, were thus effaced from the map ; and the Eight 
of Lapse was proclaimed to the furthermost ends of our Indian 

There is a circumstantial difference between these two cases, 
inasmuch as that, in the one, there was an actual and undis- 
puted adoption by the deceased Eajah, and in the other there 
was none ; but as Dalhousie had frankly stated that he woiild 
not have recognised a Nagpur adoption had there been one, the 
two resumptions were governed by the same principle. And 
this was not a mere arbitrary assertion of the power of the 
strong over the weak, but was based, at all events, on a plausible 
substratum of something that simulated reason and justice. It 
was contended that, whenever a native Prince owed his exist- 
ence as a sovereign ruler to the British Government, that 
Government had the right, on failure of direct heirs, to resume, 
at his death, the territories of which it had originally placed 
him in possession. The power that rightly gives, it was 
argued, may also rightfully take away. Now, in the cases 
both of Satarah and Nagpur, the Princes, whom the British 
Government found in possession of those States, had forfeited 
their rights : the one by hidden treachery and rebellion, the 
other by open hostility. The one, after full inquiry, had been 
deposed ; the other, many years before, had been driven into 
the jungle, and had perished in obscurity, a fugitive and an 
outcast.* In both cases, therefore, the " crime " had been 
committed which the natives of India are so willing to recog- 
nise as a legitimate reason for the punishment of the weaker 
State by the stronger. But the offence had been condoned, and 
the sovereignty had been suffered to survive ; another member 
of the reigning family being set up by the Paramount State 
in place of the offending Prince. Both Partab Singh and 
Baguji Bhonsla, as individuals, owed their sovereign power 

* It is to be observed, too, with respect to Satarah, that not only had the 
XaBt Rajah been elevated by the British Government, but that the Raj itself 
had been resuscitated by us in the person of bis predecessor. We had found 
the Rajah prostrate and a prisoner, almost, it may be said, at his last gasp; 
we had rescued bim from his enemies, and set him up in a principality of his 
own; a fact which, assuming tbe validity of the argument against adoption, 
necessarily imparted additional force to it. The same may be said of the 
Nagpur Raj. It was "resuscitated" by the British Government. 


to the grace and favour of the British Government. All this 
is historical fact. It may be admitted, too, that when the 
crimes of which I have spoken were committed by the heads 
of the Satarah and Nagpur families, the British Government 
would have been justified in imposing conditions upon the 
restoration of the Baj, to the extent of limiting the succession 
to heirs of the body, or even in making a personal treaty with 
the favoured Prince conferring no absolute right of sovereignty 
upon his successors. But the question is whether, these restric- 
tions, not having been penally imposed, at the time of forfeiture, 
the right which then might have been exercised could be justly 
asserted on the occurrence of a subsequent vacancy created by 
death ? Lord Dalhousie thought that it could — that the circum- 
stances under which the Satarah and Nagpur Princes had 
received their principalities as free gifts from the British 
Government conferred certain rights of suzerainty on that 
Government, which otherwise they could not have properly 
asserted. But, on the other hand, it is contended that both 
principalities, whatsoever might have been the offences com- 
mitted years before by their rulers, had been re-established in 
their integrity — that no restrictions as to their continuance 
had then been imposed — that treaties had been concluded 
containing the usual expressions with respect to succession — 
in a word, that the condonation had been complete, and that 
both the Satarah and the Nagpur Houses really possessed all 
the rights and privileges which had belonged to them before 
the representative of the one compromised himself by a silly 
intrigue, and the head of the other, with equal fatuity, plunged 
into hostilities which could result only in his ruin. 

This justificatory plea, based upon the alleged right of the 
British Government to resume, in default of direct heirs, 
tenures derived from the favour of the Lord Paramount, was 
again asserted about the same time, but with some diversity of 
application. Comparatively insignificant in itself, the case 
claims especial attention on account of results to be hereafter 
recorded in these pages. In the centre of India, among the 
small principalities of Bundelkhand, was the state of 

jh&nsi. jk£ ng i } k e i c i "by a Maratha chief, originally a vassal 
of the Peshwa. But on the transfer to the British Govern- 
ment of that Prince's possessions in Bundelkhand, the former 
had resolved " to declare the territory of Jhansi to be hereditary 
in the family of the late SheoBao Bhao, and to perpetuate with 

1854.J JHANSI. 65 

his heirs the treaty concluded with the late Bhao ; " and, 
accordingly, a treaty was concluded with the ruling chief, Ram 
Chand, then only a Subahdar, constituting " him, his heirs, 
and successors," hereditary rulers of the territory. Loyal and 
well disposed, he won the favour of the British Government, who, 
fifteen years after the conclusion of the treaty, conferred upon 
him the title of Rajah, which he only lived three years to enjoy. 

For all purposes of succession he was a childless man ; and 
so various claimants to the chiefship appeared. The British 
agent believed that the most valid claim was that of the late 
Rajah's uncle, who was at all events a direct lineal descendant 
of one of the former Subahdars. He was a leper, and might 
have been rejected ; but, incapable as he was, the people accepted 
him, and, for three years, the administration of Jhansi wa9 
carried on in his name. At the end of those three years 
he died, also without heirs of the body, and various 183 
claimants as before came forward to dispute the succession. 
Having no thought of absorbing the State into our British 
territories, Lord Auckland appointed a commission of British 
officers to investigate and report upon the pretensions of the 
several claimants ; and the result was, that Government, rightly 
considering that if the deceased Rajah had any title to the 
succession, his brother had now an equally good title, acknow- 
ledged Gangadhar Rao's right to succeed to the hereditary 

Under the administration of Ragunath the Leper the country 
had been grossly mismanaged, and as his successor was scarcely 
more competent, the British Government undertook to manage 
the State for him, and soon revived the revenue, which had 
dwindled down under the native rulers. But, in 1843, after 
the amputation of a limb of the territory for the support of the 
Bundelkhand Legion, the administration was restored to Gan- 
gadhar Rao, who carried on the government for ten years, and 
then, like his predecessors, died childless. 

Then again arose the question of succession ; but the claims 
of the different aspirants to the Raj were regarded with far 
other eyes than those which had scrutinised them in times past. 
The Governor-General recorded another fatal minute, by which 
the death-warrant of the State was signed. It was ruled that 
Jhansi was a dependent State, held by the favour of the Peshwa, 
as Lord Paramount, and that his powers had devolved upon 
the British Government. A famous minute recorded, in 1837, 

vol. L F 


by Sir Charles Metcalfe, was cited to show the difference 
between Hindu sovereign Princes and " chiefs who hold grants 
of land or public revenue by gift from a sovereign or paramount 
Power," and to prove that, in the latter case, " the Power which 
made the grant, or that which by conquest or otherwise has 
succeeded to its rights, is entitled to limit succession," and to 
" resume on failure of direct heirs of the body."* To demon- 
strate the right to resume was in those days tantamount to 
exercising it. So Jhansi was resumed. In vain the widow of 
the late Eajah, whom the Political Agent described as " a lady 
bearing a high character, and much respected by every one at 
Jhansi," protested that her husband's House had ever been 
faithful to the British Government — in vain she dwelt upon 
services rendered in former days to that Government, and the 
acknowledgments which they had elicited from our rulers — in 
vain she pointed to the terms of the treaty, which did not, to 
her simple understanding, bar succession in accordance with 
the laws and usages of her country — in vain she quoted prece- 
dents to show that the grace and favour sought for Jhansi had 
been yielded to other States. The fiat was irrevocable. It had 
been ruled that the interests both of the Jhansi State and the 
British Government imperatively demanded annexation. " As 
it lies in the midst of other British districts," said Lord 
Dalhousie, " the possession of it as our own will tend to the 
improvement of the general internal administration of our 
possessions in Bundelkhand. That its incorporation with the 
British territories will be greatly for the benefit of the people 
of Jhansi a reference to the results of experience will suffice to 
show." The results of experience have since shown to what 
extent the people of Jhansi appreciated the benefits of that 

Whilst this question was being disposed of by Lord Dalhousie 
,, and his colleagues, another lapse was under considera- 
tion, which had occurred some time before, but re- 
garding which no final decision had been passed. In the 

* But what Sir Charles Metcalfe really said was, that the paramount 
Power was "entitled to limit succession according to the limitations of the 
grant, which in general confirms it to heirs male of the body, and conse- 
quently precludes adoption. In such cases, therefore, the Power which 
granted, or the Power standing in its place, wouhl have a right to resume on 
failure of heirs male of the body." This passage is very fairly quoted in 
Lord Dalhousie's Minute. 

1852.] KARAULI. 67 

summer of 1852, the young chief of Karauli, one of the smaller 
Bajput States, had died, after adopting another hoy, connected 
with him by ties of kindred. At that time Colonel Low repre- 
sented the British Government in Eajputana, and he at once 
pronounced his opinion that the adoption ought immediately 
to he recognised. 

The Governor-General hesitated. It appeared to him that 
Karauli might, rightly and expediently, he declared to have 
lapsed. But his Council was divided ; his Agent in Eajputana 
had declared unequivocally for the adoption ; and the case 
differed in some respects from the Satarah question, which had 
already been decided with the sanction and approval of the 
Home Government. How great the difference really was 
appeared far more clearly to the experienced eye of Sir 
Frederick Currie than to the vision of the Governor-General, 
clouded as it was by the film of a foregone conclusion.* The 
name of Satarah had, by the force of accidental circumstances, 
become great throughout the land, both in India and in England ; 
it was a familiar name to thousands and tens of thousands who 
had never heard of Karauli. With the Marathas, too, the House 
of Sivaji had been held in high veneration ; but the Marathas 
could only boast of recent sovereignty ; their high estate was 
one of modern usurpation. Their power had risen side by side 
with our own, and had been crushed down by our greater 
weight and greater vigour. But the houses of Eajputana had 
flourished centuries before the establishment of British rule; 
and the least of them had an ancestral dignity respected through- 
out the whole length and breadth of Hindustan, and treaty 
rights not less valid than any possessed by the greatest of 
territorial Princes. To men who had graduated, from boyhood 
upwards, in Indian statesmanship, there was something almost 
sacrilegious in the idea of laying a destroying hand even upon 
the least of the ancient Houses of Eajputana — of destroying 
titles that had been honoured long years before the face of the 
white man had been seen in the country. But impressions of 
this kind are the growth of long intercourse with the people 
themselves, and we cannot be surprised that, after a year or 
two of Indian government, Lord Dalhousie, with all his on- 

* Sir Frederick Currie's Minute on the Karauli question ia an admirable 
state-paper — accurate in its facts, clear in its logic, and unexceptionable in 
its political morality. 

F 2 


rivalled quickness of perception, should not have thoroughly 
understood the vital differences between the various races in- 
habiting the great continent of India. Had he done so, he would 
at once have sanctioned the proposed adoption ; as it was, he 
referred the question to the final decision of the Home 

Eager as they were at that time to support the policy of 
Lord Dalhousie, and entire as was the faith of many of them in 
his wisdom, the Directors could not look with favour upon a 

proposal to commence the gradual extinction of the ancient 
J i853 6 ' P r i nc ip a liti es of Kajputana. " It appears to us," they said, 

" that there is a marked distinction in fact between the 
case of Karauli and Satarah, which is not sufficiently adverted to 
in the Minute of the Governor-General. The Satarah State was 
one of recent origin, derived altogether from the creation and 
gift of the British Government, whilst Karauli is one of the 
oldest of the Rajput States, which has been under the rule of 
its native princes from a period long anterior to the British 
power in India. It stands to us only in the relation of pro- 
tected ally, and probably there is no part of India into which 
it is less desirable, except upon the strongest grounds, to sub- 
stitute our government for that of the native rulers. In our 
opinion, such grounds do not exist in the present case, and 
we have, therefore, determined to sanction the succession of 
Bharat Pal." 

But before the arrival of the despatch expressing these just 
sentiments and weighty opinions, all chance of the succession of 
Bharat Pal had passed away. Had the adoption been granted 
at once, it would, in all probability, have been accepted by the 
members of the late Rajah's family, by the principal chiefs, and 
by the people of the country. But it is the inevitable tendency 
of delay in such a case to unsettle the public mind, to raise 
questions which but for this suspense would not have been 
born, and to excite hopes and stimulate ambitions which other- 
wise would have lain dormant. So it happened that whilst 
London and Calcutta were corresponding about the rights of 
Bharat Pal, another claimant to the sovereignty of Karauli was 
asserting his pretensions in the most demonstrative manner. 
Another and a nearer kinsman of the late Prince — older, and, 
therefore, of a more pronounced personal character— stood for- 
ward to proclaim his rights, and to maintain them by arms. 
The ladies of the royal family, the chiefs, and the people, sup- 


ported his claims ; and the representative of the British Govern- 
ment in Eajputana recognised their validity. That representa- 
tive was Sir Henry Lawrence. Succeeding General Low in the 
Agency, he cherished the same principles as those which bad 
ever been so consistently maintained by that veteran statesman ; 
but circumstances had arisen which moved him to give them 
a different application. This new pretender to the throne had 
better claims on the score of consanguinity than Bharat Pal, 
but Adoption overrides all claims of relationship, and, if the 
adoption were valid, the latter was legally the son and heir of 
the deceased. In this view, as consonant with the customs of 
the country, Henry Lawrence would have supported the succes- 
sion of Bharat Pal ; but, on investigation, it appeared that all 
the requirements and conditions of law and usage had not been 
fulfilled, and that the people themselves doubted the validity 
of the adoption. It appeared to him, therefore, that the British 
Government would best discharge its duty to Karauli by allow- 
ing the succession of Madan Pal. Even on the score of adoption 
his claims were good, for he had been adopted by the eldest of 
the late Eajah's widows, which, in default of adoption by the 
Rajah himself, would have been good against all claimants. 
But, in addition to this, it was to be said of the pretensions of 
this man that he was older than the other ; that a minority 
would thus be avoided altogether ; that he had some personal 
claims to consideration ; and that the voice of the chiefs and 
the people had decided in his favour. As the succession, there- 
fore, of Bharat Pal had not been sanctioned, and as the decision 
of the Home Government in his favour had not been published, 
there would be no wrong to him in this preference of his rival, 
so Henry Lawrence recommended, and. the Government of 
Lord Dalhousie approved, the succession of Madan Pal to the 
sovereignty of Karauli. 

So Lapse, in this instance, did not triumph ; and the ancient 
Houses of Eajputana, which, during these two years of suspense, 
had awaited the issue with the deepest interest, felt some tem- 
porary relief when it was known that the wedge of annexation 
had not been driven into the time-honoured circle of the States. 
But it is not to be supposed that because no wrong was done at 
last no injury was done by the delay. Public rumour recognises 
no Secret Department. It was well known at every native 
Court, in every native bazaar, that the British Government 
were discussing the policy of annexing or not annexing Karauli. 


The mere fact that there was a question to be discussed, in such 
a case, was sufficient to fill the minds of the people with 
anxiety and alarm. For two years Karauli was without any 
other ruler than the Political Agent of the British Government ; 
and this was a significant fact, the impression of which was 
not to be removed by the subsequent decision. The Rajput 
Princes lost their confidence in the good faith of the British 
Government. Karauli had been spared, they scarcely knew 
how ; some were fain to attribute it to the well-known justice 
and liberality of Heniy Lawrence. But the same moderation 
might not be displayed again ; there were childless men amongst 
them; and from that time a restless, uneasy feeling took pos- 
session of them, and no man felt sure that his House would not 
perish with him. It was not strange, indeed, that a year or 
two afterwards there should have been in circulation all over 
the country ominous reports to the effect that the policy of 
Lord Dalhousie had eventually triumphed, and that the gradual 
absorption of all the Rajput States had been sanctioned by the 
Home Government. It was a dangerous lie; and even the 
habitual reticence of the Court of Directors was not proof 
against the grossness of the calumny ; so it was authori- 
tatively contradicted. But not before it had worked its 
way in India, and done much to undermine the foundations 
of that confidence which is one of the main pillars of our 

There is one other story of territorial annexation yet to be 

told — briefly, for it was not thought at the time to 
SaH i849 lp,ir ^ e °f milcn political importance, and now is held but 

little in remembrance. Beyond the south-western 
frontier of Bengal was the territory of Sambhalpur. It had 
formerly been an outlying district of the Nagpiir principality, 
but had been ceded by the Bonslah family, and had been 
bestowed by the British on a defendant of the old Sambhalpur 
Rajahs, under terms which would have warranted the resump- 
tion of the estate on the death of the first incumbent. But 
twice the sovereign rights had been bestowed anew upon 
members of the family, and not until 1849, when Narain Singh 
lay at the pomt of death, was it determined to annex the 
territory to the British dominions. There were no heirs of 
the body; no ne^r relatives of the Rajah. No adoption had 
been declared. The country was said to have been grievously 
misgoverned. And so there seemed to be a general agreement 


that the Lapse was perfect, and that annexation might be 
righteously proclaimed. Dalhousie was absent from the Presi- 
dency ; but the case was clear, and the Government neither 
in India nor in England hesitated for a moment. And, perhaps, 
though it was not without its own bitter fruit, there is less to 
be said against it, on the score of abstract justice, than against 
anything of which I have written in this division of my 

But there were lapses of another kind, lapses which involved 
no gain of territory to the British Government, for the terri- 
tory had been gained before. There were several deposed 
princes in the land, representatives of ancient Houses, whose 
sceptres had passed by conquest or by treaty into the white 
man's hand, but who still enjoyed the possession of considerable 
revenues, and maintained some semblance of their former dignity 
and state. It happened that, whilst Dalhousie reigned in India, 
three of these pensioned princes died. Of the story of one of 
them I must write in detail. There had once been 
three great Maratha Houses : the Houses of Satarah, ™e f e°hwf 
of Nagpur, and of Puna. It has been told how 
Dalhousie extinguished the two first ; the third had been for 
some thirty years territorially extinct when he was sent out 
to govern India. In 1818, at the close of the second great 
Maratha war, the Peshwa, Baji Eao, surrendered to Sir John 
Malcolm. He had been betrayed into hostility, and treacherous 
hostility ; he had appealed to the sword, and he had been fairly 
beaten ; and there was nothing left for him but to end his days 
as an outcast and a fugitive, or to fling himself upon the mercy 
of the British Government. He chose the latter course ; and 
when he gave himself to the English General, he knew that he 
was in the hands of one who sympathised with him in his fallen 
fortunes, and would be a generous friend to him in adversity. 
Malcolm pledged the Government to bestow upon the Peshwa, 
for the support of himself and family, an annual pension of not 
less than eight lakhs of rupees. The promise was said to be an 
over-liberal one ; and there were those who at the time con- 
demned Malcolm for his profuseness. But he replied, that " it 
had been the policy of the British Government, since its first 
establishment in India, to act towards princes, whose bad faith 
and treachery had compelled it to divest them of all power and 
dominion, with a generosity which almost lost sight of their 
offences. The effect of this course of proceeding in reconciling 


all classes to its rule had been great. The liberality and the 
humanity which it had displayed on such occasions had, I was 
satisfied, done more than its arms towards the firm establishment 
of its power. It was, in fact, a conquest over mind, and among 
men so riveted in their habits and prejudices as the natives of 
their country, the effect, though unseen, was great beyond calcu- 
lation." It was a solace to him to think that these sentiments 
were shared by such men as Mountstuart Elphinstone, David 
Ochterlony, and Thomas Munro. 

So Baji Kao went into honourable seclusion, and an asylum 
was found for him at Bithur, distant some twelve miles from 
the great military station of Kanhpur, in the North- Western 
Provinces of India. He was not then an old man, as age is 
calculated by years, but he was said to be of debauched habits 
and feeble constitution ; and no one believed that he would very 
long survive to be a burden upon the Company. But he out- 
lived his power for a third part of a century, living resignedly, 
if not contentedly, in his new home, with a large body of fol- 
lowers and dependents, mostly of his own race, and many others 
of the outward insignia of state. From the assemblage, under 
such circumstances, of so large a body of Marathas, some feeling 
of apprehension and alarm might have arisen in the mind of 
the British Government, especially in troubled times ; but the 
fidelity of the ex-Peshwa himself was as conspicuous as the 
good conduct and the orderly behaviour of his people. Nor 
was it onlj- a passive loyalty that he manifested ; for twice, in 
critical conjunctures, when the English were sore-pressed, he 
came forward with offers of assistance. When the War in 
Afghanistan had drained our Treasury, and money was 
grievously wanted, he lent the Company five lakhs of rupees ; 
and when, afterwards, our dominions were threatened with an 
invasion from the Panjab, and there was much talk all over 
the country of a hostile alliance between the Sikhs and the 
Marathas, the steadfastness of his fidelity was evidenced by an 
offer made to the British Government to raise and to maintain 
at his own cost a thousand Horse and a thousand Foot. As 
he had the disposition, so also had he the means to serve us. 
His ample pension more than sufficed for the wants even of a 
retired monarch ; and as years passed, people said that he had 
laid by a great store of wealth, and asked who was to be its 
inheritor ? For it was with him, as it was with other Maratha 
princes, he was going down to the grave leaving no son to 

1818-51.] THE FALL OF THE PESHWA. 73 

succeed hiin. So be adopted a son, from his own family stock,* 
and, some years before bis deatb, sought the recognition of the 
British Government for an adoption embracing more than the 
right of succession to his savings (for this needed no sovereign 
sanction), the privilege of succeeding to the title and the pension 
of the Peshwa. The prayer was not granted ; but the Companjr 
did not shut out all hope that, after the death of Baji Eao, some 
provision might be made for his family. The question was 
reserved for future consideration — that is, until the contingency 
of the ex-Peshwa's death should become an accomplished reality ; 
and as at this time the old man was feeble, paralytic, and nearly 
blind, it was not expected that his pension would much longer 
remain a burden on the Indian revenues. 

But not until the 28th of January, 1851, when there was 
the weight of seventy-seven years upon him, did 
the last of the Peshwas close his eyes upon the DeathofBaji 
world for ever. He left behind him a will, exe- 
cuted in 1839, in which he named as his adopted son, "to 
inherit and be the sole master of the Gadi of the Peshwa, tht. 
dominions, wealth, family possessions, treasure, and all his real 
and personal property," a youth known as Dundu Pant, Nana 
Sahib. When Baji Eao died, the heir was twenty- 
seven years old ; described as " a quiet, unosten- Tb s ^K U& 
tatious young man, not at all addicted to any ex- 
travagant habits, and invariably showing a ready disposition 
to attend to the advice of the British Commissioner." What 
he was safe to inherit was about £300,000, more than one-half 
of which was invested in Government securities ; "j" but there 
was an immense body of dependents to be provided for, and it 
was thought that the British Government might appropriate 
a portion of the ex-Peshwa's stipend to the support of the 
family at Bithur. The management of affairs was in the hands 
of the Subahdar Bamchandar Pant, a faithful friend and 

* Strictly it should be said that he adopted three sons and a grandson 
His will says : " That Diiudu Pant Nana, my eldest son, and Gangadhar 
Eao, my youngest and third son, and Sada-She'o Pant Dada, son of my second 
sun, Pundii Rang Eao, my grandson ; these three are my sons and grandson. 
After me Dundu Pant Nana, my eldest son, Miikh Pardan, shall inherit and 
be the sole master of the Gadi of the Peshwa, &c." — MS. Records. 

t The official report of the Commissioner said, 16 lakhs of Government 
paper, 10 lakhs of jewels, 3 lakhs of gold coins, 80,000 rupees gold ornaments, 
20,000 rupees silver plate. 


adherent of Bdji Kao, who counselled his master with wisdom, 
and controlled his followers with vigour ; and he now, with 
all due respect for the British Government, pleaded the cause 
of the adopted son of the Peshwa. "Nana Sahib," he said, 
" considering the Honourable Company in the room of the late 
Maharajah as his protector and supporter, is full of hopes and 
free of care on this subject. His dependence in every way 
is on the kindness and liberality of the British Government, 
for the increase of whose power and prosperity he has ever 
been, and will continue to be, desirous." The British Com- 
missioner at Bithur * supported the appeal on behalf of the 
family, but it met with no favour in high places. Mr. Thomason 
was then Lieutenant-Governor of the North- Western Provinces. 
He was a good man, an able man, a man of high reputation, 
but he was one of the leaders of the New School, and was no 
friend to the princes and nobles of the land ; and he told the 
Commissioner to discourage all hopes of further assistance in 
the breasts of the family, and to " strive to induce the numerous 
retainers of the Peshwa speedily to disperse and return to the 
Dakhin." Lord Dalhousie was Governor-General ; and, in such 
a case, his views were little likely to differ from those of his 
Lieutenant. So he declared his opinion that the recommenda- 
tions of the Commissioner were " uncalled for and unreasonable." 
" The Governor-General," it was added, " concurs in opinion 
with his Honour (Mr. Thomason) in thinking that, under any 
circumstances, the Family have no claim upon the Government ; 
and he will by no means consent to any portion of the public 
revenues being conferred on them. His Lordship requests that 
the determination of the Government of India may be explicitly 
declared to the Family without delay." And it was so declared ; 
but with some small alleviation of the harshness of the sentence, 
for the Jaghir, or rent-free estate, of Bithur was to be continued 
to the Nana Sahib, but without the exclusive jurisdiction which 
had been enjoyed by the ex-Peshwa. 

When Dundu Pant learnt that there was no hope of any 
Memorial of further assistance to the family at Bithur from the 
the Nana, liberality of the Government of India, he determined 

* It should rather be said, " two British Commissioners." Colonel Manson 
was Commissioner when the Peshwa died, but he left Bithur shortly after- 
wards, and Mr. Morland, then magistrate at Kanhpiir, took his place, and on 
him devolved the principal business of the settlement of the ex-Peshwa' a 


to appeal to the Court of Directors of the East India Company. 
It had been in contemplation during the lifetime of Baji Rao to 
adopt such a course, and a son of the Subahdar Eamchandar had 
been selected as the agent who was to prosecute the appeal. But, 
discouraged by the Commissioner, the project had been aban- 
doned, and was not revived until all other hope had failed after 
the ex-Peshwa's death. Then it was thought that a reversal of 
the adverse decision might be obtained by memorialising the 
authorities in England, and a memorial was accordingly drawn 
up and despatched, in the usual manner, through the Govern- 
ment in India. " The course pursued by the local governments," 
it was said, " is not only an unfeeling one towards the numerous 
family of the deceased prince, left almost entirely dependent 
upon the promises of the East India Company, but inconsistent 
with what is due to the representative of a long line of sove- 
reigns. Your memorialist, therefore, deems it expedient at 
once to appeal to your Honourable Court, not merely on the 
ground of the faith of treaties, but of a bare regard to the 
advantages the East India Company have derived from the last 

of the Maratha Empire It would be contrary to the 

spirit of all treaties hitherto concluded to attach a special 
meaning to an article of the stipulations entered into, whilst 
another is interpreted and acted upon in its most liberal sense." 
And then the memorialist proceeded to argue, that as the 
Peshwa, on behalf of his heirs and successors, had ceded his 
territories to the Company, the Company were bound to pay 
the price of such cession to the Peshwa and his heirs and 
successors. If the compact were lasting on one side, so also 
should it be on the other. " Your memorialist submits that a 
cession of a perpetual revenue of thirty -four lakhs of rupees in 
consideration of an annual pension of eight lakhs establishes a 
de facto presumption that the payment of one is contingent 
upon the receipt of the other, and hence that, as long as those 
receipts continue, the payment of the pension is to follow." It 
was then argued that the mention, in the treaty, of the 
" Family " of the Peshwa indicated the hereditary character of 
the stipulation, on the part of the Company, as such mention 
would be unnecessary and unmeaning in its application to a 
mere life-grant, " for a provision for the support of the prince 
necessarily included the maintenance of his family ; " and after 
this, from special arguments, the Nana Sahib turned to a 
general assertion of his rights, as based on precedent and 


analogy. "Your memorialist," it was said, "is at a loss to 
account for the difference between the treatment, by the Com- 
pany, of the descendants of other princes and that experienced 
by the family of the Peshwa, represented by him. The ruler of 
Maisur evinced the most implacable hostility towards the 
Company's government; and your memorialist's father was 
one of the princes whose aid was invoked by the Company to 
crush a relentless enemy. When that chieftain fell, sword in 
hand, the Company, far from abandoning his progeny to their 
fate, have afforded an asylum and a liberal support to more 
than one generation of his descendants, without distinction 
between the legitimate and the illegitimate. With equal or 
even greater liberality the Company delivered the dethroned 
Emperor of Delhi from a dungeon, re-invested him with the 
insignia of sovereignty, and assigned to him a munificent 
revenue, which is continued to his descendants to the present 
day. Wherein is your memorialist's case different ? It is true 
that the Peshwa, after years of amity with the British Indian 
Government, during which he assigned to them revenue to the 
amount of half a crore of rupees, was unhappily engaged in 
war with them, by which he perilled his throne. But as he 
was not reduced to extremities, and even if reduced, closed 
with the terms proposed to him by the British Commander, 
and ceded his rich domains to place himself and his family 
under the fostering care of the Company, and as the Company 
still profit by the revenues of his hereditary possessions, on 
what principle are his descendants deprived of the pension 
included in those terms and the vestiges of sovereignty? 
Wherein are the claims of his family to the favour and con- 
sideration of the Company less than those of the conquered 
Maisurean or the captive Mughul ? " Then the Nana Sahib 
began to set forth his own personal claims as founded on the 
adoption in his favour ; he quoted the best authorities on Hindu 
law to prove that the son by adoption has all the rights of the 
son by birth ; and he cited numerous instances, drawn from the 
recent history of Hindustan and the Dakhin, to show how 
such adoptions had before been recognised by the British 
Government. " The same fact," he added, " is evinced in the 
daily practice of the Company's Courts all over India, in 
decreeing to the adopted sons of princes, of zamindars, and 
persons of every grade, the estates of those persons to the 
exclusion of other heirs of the blood. Indeed, unless the 


British Indian Government is prepared to abrogate the Hindu 
Sacred Code, and to interdict the practice of the Hindu religion, 
of both of which adoption is a fundamental feature, your 
memorialist cannot understand with what consistency his claim 
to the pension of the late Peshwa can be denied, merely on the 
ground of his being an adopted son." 

Another plea for refusal might be, nay, had been, based upon 
the fact that Baji Bao, from the savings of his pension, had 
accumulated and left behind him a large amount of private 
property, which no one could alienate from his heirs. Upon 
this the Nana Sahib, with not unreasonable indignation, said : 
" That if the withholding of the pension proceeded from the 
supposition that the late Peshwa had left a sufficient provision for 
his family, it would be altogether foreign to the question, and 
unprecedented in the annals of the History of British India. 
The pension of eight lakhs of rupees per annum has been 
agreed upon on the part of the British Government, to enable 
his Highness the late Baji Bao to support himself and family ; 
it is immaterial to the British Government what portion of 
that sum the late prince actually expended, nor has there been 
any agreement entered into to the effect that his Highness the 
late Baji Bao should be compelled to expend every fraction of 
an annual allowance accorded to him by a special treaty, in 
consideration of his ceding to the British Government terri- 
tories yielding an annual and perpetual revenue of thirty-four 
lakhs of rupees. Nobody on earth had a right to control the ex- 
penditure of that pension, and if his Highness the late Baji Bao 
had saved every fraction of it, he would have been perfectly 
justified in doing so. Your memorialist would venture to ask, 
whether the British Government ever deigned to ask in what 
manner the pension granted to any of its numerous retired 
servants is expended ? or whether any of them saves a portion, 
or what portion, of his pension ? and, furthermore, in the event 
of its being proved that the incumbents of such pensions 
had saved a large portion thereof, it would be considered a 
sufficient reason for withholding the pension from the children 
in the proportions stipulated by the covenant entered into with 
its servant ? And yet is a native prince, the descendant of 
an ancient scion of Boyalty, who relies upon the justice and 
liberality of the British Government, deserving of less con- 
sideration than its covenanted servants ? To disperse, however, 
any erroneous impression that may exist on the part of the 


British Government on that score, your memorialist would 
respectfully beg to observe that the pension of eight lakhs of 
rupees, stipulated for by the treaty of" 1818, was not exclusively 
for the support of his Highness the late Baji Rao and his family, 
but also for the maintenance of a large retinue of faithful 
adherents, who preferred following the ex-Peshwa in his volun- 
tary exile. Their large number, fully known to the British 
Government, caused no inconsiderable call upon the reduced 
resources of his Highness ; and, furthermore, if it be taken into 
consideration the appearance which Native princes, though 
rendered powerless, are still obliged to keep up to ensure respect, 
it may be easily imagined that the savings from a pension of 
eight lakhs of rupees, granted out of an annual revenue of 
thirty-four lakhs, could not have been large. But notwith- 
standing this heavy call upon the limited resources of the late 
Peshwa, his Highness husbanded his resources with much care, 
so as to be enabled to invest a portion of his annual income in 
public securities, which, at the time of his death, yielded an 
income of about eighty thousand rupees. Is then the foresight 
and the economy on the part of his Highness the late Baji Rao 
to be regarded as an offence deserving to be visited with the 
punishment of stopping the pension for the support 

MS. Records. r f ,. , .-, u , B i i 1 p . , „. o >> 

of his family guaranteed by a formal treaty i 
But neither the rhetoric nor the reasoning of the Nana Sahib 
had any effect upon the Home Government. The Court of 
Directors of the East India Company were hard as a rock, and 
by no means to be moved to compassion. They had already ex- 
pressed an opinion that the savings of the Peshwa were sufficient 
Decision of f° r the maintenance of his heirs and dependents ; * 
the company. an( j when the memorial came before them, they 
summarily rejected it, writing out to the Government to " in- 
form the memorialist that the pension of his adoptive father 
was not hereditary, that he has no claim whatever to it, and 
that his application is wholly inadmissible." Such 
May 4, 1353. & re pjy. as fins must have crashed out all hope from 

* "May 19, 1852. — We entirely approve of the decision of the Governor- 
General that the adopted son and dependents on Baji Rao have no claim upon 
the British Government. The large pension which the ex-Peshwa enjoyed 
• luring thirty-three years afforded him the means of making an abundant 
provision for his family and dependents, and the property, which he is known 
to have left, is amply sufficient for their support." — The Court of Directors to 
the Government of India. — MS. 

1853.] AZIM-ULLAH KHAN. 79 

the Bithiir Family, and shown the futility of further action ; 
but it happened that, before this answer was received, the 
Nana Sahib had sent an agent to England to prosecute his 
claims. This agent was not the son of the old Maratha Subah- 
dar, to whom the mission first contemplated was to have been 
entrusted, but a young and astute Muhammadan, with a good 
presence, a plausible address, and a knowledge of the English 
language. His name was Azim-ullah Khan. In the summer 
of 1853 he appeared in England, and in conjunction with an 
Englishman named Biddle, prosecuted the claims of the Nana, 
but with no success. Judgment had already been recorded, and 
nothing that these agents could say or do was likely to cause 
its reversal. 

So Azim-ullah Khan, finding that little or nothing could be 
done in the way of business for his employer, devoted his 
energies to the pursuit of pleasure on his own account. Pass- 
ing by reason of his fine clothes for a person of high station, he 
made his way into good society, and is said to have boasted of 
favours received from English ladies. Outwardly he was a gay, 
smiling, voluptuous sort of person ; and even a shrewd observer 
might have thought that he was intent always upon the amuse- 
ment of the hour. There was one man, however, in England at 
that time, who, perhaps, knew that the desires of the plausible 
Muhammadan were not bounded by the enjoyment of the 
present. For it happened that the agent, who had been sent 
to England by the deposed Satarah Family, in the hope of 
obtaining for them the restoration of their principality, was 
still resident in the English metropolis. This man was a 
Maratha named Eangu Bapuji. Able and energetic, he had 
pushed his suit with a laborious, untiring conscientiousness 
rarely seen in a Native envoy ; but though aided by much 
soundness of argument and much fluency of rhetoric expended 
by others than hired advocates, upon the case of the Satarah 
Princes, he had failed to make an impression on their judges. 
Though of different race and different religion, these two men 
were knit together by common sympathies and kindred tasks, 
and in that autumn of 1853, by like failures and disappoint 
ments to brood over, and the same bitter animosities to cherish. 
What was said and what was done between them no Historian 
can relate. They were adepts in the art of dissimulation. So 
the crafty Maratha made such a good impression even upon 
those whom his suit had so greatly troubled, that his debts 


were paid for him, and he was sent back at the public expense 
to Bombay with money in his pocket from the Treasury of the 
India House ; * whilst the gay Muhammadan floated about the 
surface of society and made a conspicuous figure at crowded 
watering-places, as if he dearly loved England and the English, 
and could not persuade himself to return to his own dreary and 
benighted land. 

So little material are they to this History that I need not 

Kamatikand write in detail of the circumstances attending the 

Tanjur. extinction of the titular sovereignties of the Karnatik 

and Tanjur, two ancient Houses, one Muhammadan, the other 

Hindu, that had once flourished in the Southern Peninsula. 

Lord Wellesley had stripped them of territorial power. It 

remained, therefore, only for Lord Dalhousie, when 

the Nawab of the Karnatik and the Baiah of Taniur 

1855 • v o 

died without heirs of the body, to abolish the titular 
dignities of the two Families and " to resume the large stipends 
they had enjoyed, as Lapses to Government." Pensions were 
settled upon the surviving members of the two Families ; but 
in each case, the head of the House made vehement remonstrance 
against the extinction of its honours, and long and loudly 
clamoured for restitution. There were many, doubtless, in 
Southern India who still clung with feelings of veneration to 
these shadowy pageants, and deplored the obliteration of the 
royal names that they had long honoured ; and as a part of the 
great system of demolition these resumptions made a bad im- 
pression in more remote places. But empty titular dignities 
are dangerous possessions, and it may be, after all, only mis- 
taken kindness to perpetuate them when the substance of 
royalty is gone. 

%* In this chapter might have been included other cases of Lapse, as 
ihose of the Pargannah, of Udaipur, on the South-Western Frontier, and of 
Jaitpur, in Bundelkhand ; but, although every additional absorption of 
territory tended to increase, in some measure, the feeling of insecurity in 
men's minds, they were comparatively of little political importance ; and Lord 
Dalhousie did not think them worth a paragraph in Lis Farewell Minute. 

* Ransru Bapuji returned to India in December, 1853 The East India 
Company gave him 2500Z. and a free passage. 

1856.1 (81 \ 


There was still another province to be absorbed into the 
British Empire under the administration of Lord Dalhousie ; 
not by conquest, for its rulers had ever been our friends, and 
its people had recruited our armies ; not by lapse, for there had 
always been a son or a brother, or some member of the royal 
house, to fulfil, according to the Muhammadan law of succes- 
sion, the conditions of heirship, and there was still a king, the 
son of a king, upon the throne ; but by a simple assertion of 
the dominant will of the British Government. This was the 
great province of Oudh, in the very heart of Hindustan, which 
had long tempted us, alike by its local situation and the reputed 
wealth of its natural resources. 

It is a story not to be lightly told in a few sentences. Its 
close connexion with some of the more important passages of 
this history fully warrants some amplitude of narration. Before 
the British settler had established himself on the peninsula of 
India, Oudh was a province of the Mughul Empire. When 
that empire was distracted and weakened by the invasion of 
Nadir Shah, the treachery of the servant was turned against 
the master, and little by little the Governor began to govern 
for himself. But holding only an official, though an hereditary 
title, he still acknowledged his vassalage ; and long after the 
Great Mughul had shrivelled into a pensioner and a pageant, 
the Nawab- Wazir of Oudh was nominally his minister. 

Of the earliest history of British connexion with the Court of 
the Wazir, it is not necessary to write in detail. There is 
nothing less creditable in the annals of the rise and progress of 
the British power in the East. The Nawab had territory ; the 
Nawab had subjects; the Nawab had neighbours; more than 
all, the Nawab had money. But although he possessed in 
abundance the raw material of soldiers, he had not been able 
to organise an army sufficient for all the external and internal 
requirements of the State, and so he was fain to avail himself 

vol. I. o 


of the superior military skill and discipline of the white men, 
and to hire British battalions to do his work. At first this was 
done in an irregular, desultory kind of way, job-work, as in the 
infamous case of the Rohilla massacre ; but afterwards it as- 
sumed a more formal and recognised shape, and solemn engage- 
ments were entered into with the Nawab, by which we under- 
took, in consideration of certain money-payments, known as 
the Subsidy, to provide a certain number of British troops for 
the internal and external defence of his Excellency's dominions. 
In truth it was a vicious system, one that can hardly be too 
severely condemned. By it we established a Double Govern- 
ment of the worst kind. The Political and Military government 
was in the hands of the Compan} T ; the internal administration 
of the Oudh territories still rested with the Nawab- Wazir. In 
other words, hedged in and protected by the British battalions, 
a bad race of Eastern Princes were suffered to do, or not to do, 
what they liked. Under such influences it is not strange that 
disorder of every kind ran riot over the whole length and 
breadth of the land. Never were the evils of misrule more 
horribly apparent ; never were the vices of an indolent and 
rapacious Government productive of a greater sum of misery. 
The extravagance and profligac}^ of the Court were written in 
hideous characters on the desolated face of the countiy. It 
was left to the Nawab's Government to dispense justice : justice 
was not dispensed. It was left to the Nawab's Government to 
collect the revenue ; it was wrung from the people at the point 
of the bayonet. The Court was sumptuous and profligate ; the 
people poor and wretched. The expenses of the royal household 
were enormous. Hundreds of richly-caparisoned voracious 
elephants ate up the wealth of whole districts, or carried it 
in glittering apparel on their backs. A multitudinous throng 
of unserviceable attendants ; bands of dancing-girls ; flocks of 
parasites ; costly feasts^ and ceremonies ; folly and pomp and 
profligacy of every conceivable description, drained the coffers 
of the State. A vicious and extravagant Government soon 
beget a poor and a suffering people ; a poor and a suffering 
people, in turn, perpetuate the curse of a bankrupt Government. 
The process of retaliation is sure. To support the lavish ex- 
penditure of the Court the mass of the people were persecuted 
and outraged. Bands of armed mercenaries were let loose upon 
the ryots in support of the rapacity of the Amils, or Eevenue- 
farmers, whose appearance was a terror to the people. Under 


such a system of cruelty and extortion, the country soon became 
a desert, and the Government then learnt by hard experience 
that the prosperity of the people is the only true source of 
wealth. The lesson was thrown away. The decrease of the 
revenue was not accompanied by a corresponding diminution of 
the profligate expenditure of the Court, or by any effort to 
introduce a better administrative system. Instead of this, every 
new year saw the unhappy country lapsing into worse disorder, 
with less disposition, as time advanced, on the part of the local 
Government to remedy the evils beneath which it was groan- 
ing. Advice, protestation, remonstrance were in vain. Lord 
Cornwallis advised, protested, remonstrated : Sir John Shore 
advised, protested, remonstrated. At last a statesman of a very 
different temper appeared upon the scene. 

Lord Wellesley was a despot in every pulse of his heart. 
But he was a despot of the right kind ; for he was a man of 
consummate vigour and ability, and he seldom made a mistake. 
The condition of Oudh soon attracted his attention ; not because 
its government was bad and its people were wretched, but be- 
cause that country might either be a bulwark of safety to our own 
dominions, or a sea of danger which might overflow and destroy 
us. That poor old blind ex-King, Shah Zainan, of the Saduzai 
family of Kabul, known to the present generation as the feeble 
appendage of a feeble puppet, had been, a little while before 
the advent of Lord Wellesley, in the heyday of his pride and 
power, meditating great deeds which he had not the ability to 
accomplish, and keeping the British power in India in a chronic 
state of unrest. If ever there had been any real peril, it had 
passed away before the new century was a year old. But it 
might arise again. Doubtless the military strength of the 
Afghans was marvellously overrated in those days : but still 
there was the fact of a minacious Muhammadan power beyond 
the frontier, not only meditating invasion, but stirring up the 
Muhammadan Princes of India to combine in a religious war 
against the usurping Faringhi. Saadat Ali was then on the 
musnud of Oudh ; he was the creature and the friend of the 
English, but Wazir Ali, whom he had supplanted, had intri- 
gued with Zaman Shah, and would not only have welcomed, 
but have subsidised also an Afghan force in his own dominions. 
At the bottom of all our alarm, at that time, were some not 
unreasonable apprehensions of the ambitious designs of the first 
Napoleon. At all events, it was sound policy to render Oudb 

g 2 


powerful for good and powerless for evil. To the accomplish- 
ment of this it was necessary that large bodies of ill-disciplined 
and irregularly paid native troops in the service of the Nawab- 
Wazir — lawless bands that had been a terror alike to him and 
to his people — should be forthwith disbanded, and that British 
troops should occupy their place. Now, already the Wazir was 
paying seventj r -six lakhs of rupees, or more than three-quarters 
of a million of money, for his subsidised British troops, and 
though he was willing to disband his own levies, and thereby 
to secure some saving to the State, it was but small in propor- 
tion to the expense of the more costly machinery of British 
military defence now to be substituted for them. The addi- 
tional burden to be imposed upon Oudh was little less than 
half a million of money, and the unfortunate Wazir, whose 
resources had been strained to the utmost to pay the previous 
subsidy, declared his inability to meet any further demands on 
his treasury. This was what Lord Wellesley expected — nay, 
more, it was what he wanted. If the Wazir could not pay in 
money, he could pay in money's worth. He had rich lands 
that might be ceded in perpetuity to the Company for the 
punctual payment of the subsidy. So the Governor-Genera] 
prepared a treaty ceding the required provinces, and with a 
formidable array of British troops at his call, dragooned the 
Wazir into sullen submission to the will of the English Sultan. 
The new treaty was signed ; and districts then yielding a 
million and a half of money, and now nearly double that 
amount of annual revenue, passed under the administration of 
the British Government. 

Now, this treaty — the last ever ratified between the two 
Governments — bound the Nawab- Wazir to " establish in his 
reserved dominions such a system of administration, to be 
carried on by his own officers, as should be conducive to the 
prosperity of his subjects, and be calculated to secure the lives 
and properties of the inhabitants," and he undertook at the 
same time " always to advise with and to act in conformity 
to the counsels of the officers of the East India Company." 
But the English ruler knew well that there was small hope of 
these conditions being fulfilled. " I am satisfied," he said, " that 
no effectual security can be provided against the ruin of the 
province of Oudh until the exclusive management of the civil 
and military government of that country shall be transferred 
to the Company under suitable provisions for the maintenance 

1801-17.] THE TREATY OF 1801 85 

of his Excellency and his family." He saw plainly before him 
the breakdown of the whole system, and believed that in the 
course of a few years the entire administration of the province 
would be transferred to the hands of our British officers. There 
was one thing, however, on which he did not calculate — the 
moderation of his successors. He lived nearly half a century 
after these words were written, and yet the treaty outlived him 
by many years. 

If there was, at any time, hope for Oudh, under purely 
native administration, it was during the wazirship of Saadat 
Ali, for he was not a bad man, and he appears to have had 
rather enlightened views with respect to some important ad- 
ministrative questions.* But the opportunity was lost; and 
whilst the counsels of our British officers did nothing for the 
people, the bayonets of our British soldiers restrained them 
from doing anything for themselves. Thus matters grew from 
bad to worse, and from worse to worst. One Governor-General 
followed another ; one Kesident followed another ; one Wazir 
followed another : but still the great tide of evil increased in 
volume, in darkness, and in depth. 

But, although the Nawab-Wazirs of Oudh were, doubtless, 
bad rulers and bad men, it must be admitted that they were 
good allies. False to their people — false to their own manhood — 
they were true to the British Government. They were never 
known to break out into open hostility, or to smoulder in hidden 
treachery against us ; and they rendered good service, when 
they could, to the Power to which they owed so little. They 
supplied our armies, in time of war, with grain ; they supplied 
us with carriage-cattle ; better still, they supplied us with cash. 
There was money in the Treasury of Lakhnao, when there 
was none in the Treasury of Calcutta ; and the time came when 
the Wazir's cash was needed by the British ruler. Engaged in 
an extensive and costly war, Lord Hastings wanted two 

* Sir Henry Lawrence says that he was "in advance of the Bengal 
Government of the day on revenue arrangements," and gives two striking 
instances of the fact. With characteristic candour and impartiality, Law- 
rence adds that Saadat Ali's mal-administiation was " mainly attributable to 
English interference, to the resentment he felt for his own wrongs, and the 
bitterness of soul with which lie must have received all advice from hia 
oppressors, no less than to the impunity with which they enabled him to play 
the tyrant." — Calcutta Review, vol. iii. See also Lawrence's Essays, in 
which this paper is printed. 


millions for the prosecution of his great enterprises. They 
were forthcoming at the right time; and the British Govern- 
ment were not unwilling in exchange to hestow both titles and 
territories on the W'azir. The times were propitious. The 
successful close of the Nipal war placed at our disposal an 
unhealthy and impracticable tract of country at the foot of the 
Hills. This "terai" ceded to us by the Nipalese was sold for 
a million of money to the Wazir, to whose domains it was 
contiguous, and he himself expanded and bloomed into a King 
under the fostering sun of British favour and affection.* The 
interest of the other million was paid away by our Government 
to a tribe of Oudh pensioners, who were not sorry to exchange 
for a British guarantee the erratic benevolence of their native 

It would take long to trace the history of the progressive 
misrule of the Oudh dominions under a succession of sovereigns 
all of the same class — passive permitters of evil rather than 
active perpetrators of iniquity, careless of, but not rejoicing in, 
the sufferings of their people. The rulers of Oudh, whether 
Wazirs or Kings, had not the energy to be tyrants. They 
simply allowed things to take their course. Sunk in volup- 
tuousness and pollution, often too horribly revolting to be 
described, they gave themselves up to the guidance of panders 
and parasites, and cared not so long as these wretched creatures 
administered to their sensual appetites. Affairs of State were 
pushed aside as painful intrusions. Corruption stalked openly 
abroad. Every one had his price. Place, honour, justice — 
eveiything was to be bought. Fiddlers and barbers, pimps 
and mountebanks, became great functionaries. There were 
high revels at the capital, whilst, in the interior of the country, 
every kind of enormity was being exercised to wring from the 
helpless people the money which supplied the indulgences of 
the Court. Much of the land was farmed out to large con- 

* Sir John Malcolm said that the very mention of "his Majesty of Oudh " 
made him sick. " Would I make," he said, "a golden calf, and suffer him to 
throw off his subordinate title, and assume equality with the degraded repre- 
sentative of a line of monarchs to whom his ancestors have been for ages 
really or nominally subject ? " Sir Henry Lawrence seems to have thought 
that this was precisely what was intended. '"The Nawab Ghazi-mi-din 
Haidar," he wrote, " was encouraged to assume the title of King ; Lord 
Hastings calculated on this exciting a rivalry between the Oudh and Dehh 
Families.'' — Calcutta Review, vol. iii. ; and Essays, page 119. 


tractors, who exacted every possible farthing from the cnlti- 
vators; and were not seldom, upon complaint of extortion, 
made, unless inquiry were silenced by corruption, to disgorge 
into the royal treasury a large portion of their gains. Murders 
of the most revolting type, gang-robberies of the most out- 
rageous character, were committed in open day. There were 
no Courts of Justice except at Lakhnao ; no Police but at the 
capital and on the frontier. The British troops were con- 
tinually called out to coerce refractory landholders, and to 
stimulate revenue-collection at the point of the bayonet. The 
sovereign — Wazir or King — knew that they would do their 
duty ; knew that, under the obligations of the treaty, his 
authority would be supported; and so he lay secure in his 
Zenana, and fiddled whilst his country was in flames. 

And so years passed ; and ever went there from the Eesidency 
to the Council-chamber of the Supreme Government the same 
unvarying story of frightful misrule. Eesidents expostulated, 
Governors-General protested against it. The protests in due 
course became threats. Time after time it was announced to 
the rulers of Oudh that, unless some great and immediate reforms 
were introduced into the system of administration, the British 
Government, as lords-paramount, would have no course left to 
them but to assume the direction of affairs, and to reduce the 
sovereign of Oudh to a pensioner and a pageant. 

By no man was the principle of non-interference supported 
more strenuously, both in theory and in practice, than by Lord 
William Bentinck. But in the affairs of this Oudh State he 
considered that he was under a righteous necessity to interfere. 
In April, 1831, he visited Lakhnao ; and there, distinctly and 
emphatically told the King that "unless his territories were 
governed upon other principles than those hitherto followed, and 
the prosperity of the people made the principal object of his 
administration, the precedents afforded by the principalities of 
the Karnatik and Tanjiir would be applied to the kingdom of 
Oudh, and to the entire management of the country, and the 
King would be transmuted into a State prisoner." This was 
no mere formal harangue, but the deliberate enunciation of the 
Government of India ; and to increase the impression which it 
was calculated to make on the mind of the King, the warning 
was afterwards communicated to him in writing, But, spoken 
or written, the words w ere of no avail. He threw himself more 
than ever into the arms of parasites and panders ; plunged more 


deeply into debauchery than before, and openly violated all 
decency by appearing drunk in the public streets of Lakhnao.* 
With the corruption of the Court the disorders of the country 
increased. The crisis seemed now to have arrived. A com- 
munication was made to the Court of Oudh, that " instructions 
to assume the government of the country, if circumstances 
should render such a measure necessary, had arrived, and that 
their execution was suspended merely in the hope that the 
necessity of enforcing them might be obviated." 

But in what manner was the administration to be assumed — 
in what manner was the improvement of the country to be 
brought about by the intervention of the British Government ? 
There were different courses open to us, and they were all dili- 
gently considered. We might appoint a Minister of our own 
selection, and rule through him by the agency of the Eesident. 
We might depose the ruling sovereign, and set up another and 
more hopeful specimen of royalty in his place. We might place 
the country under European administration, giving all the 
surplus revenues to the King. We might assume the entire 
government, reducing the King to a mere titular dignitary, and 
giving him a fixed share of the annual revenues. Or we might 
annex the country outright, giving him so many lakhs of rupees 
a year, without reference to the revenues of the principality. 
The ablest and most experienced Indian statesmen of the day 
had been invited to give their opinions. Malcolm and Metcalfe 
spoke freely out. The first of the above schemes seemed to 
represent the mildest form of interference ; but both the soldier 
and the civilian unhesitatingly rejected it as the most odious, 
and. in practice, the most ruinous of all interposition. Far 
better, they said, to set up a new King, or even to assume the 
government for ourselves. But those were days when native 
dynasties were not considered unmixed evils, and native ^ insti- 
tutions were not pure abominations in our eyes. And it was 
thought that we might assume the administration of Oudh, but 
not for ourselves. It was thought that the British Government 
might become the guardian and trustee of the King of Oudh, 
administer his affairs through native agency and in accordance 

* This was Nasar-ud-din Haidar— the second of the Oudh kings, and 
perhaps the worst. I speak dubiously, however, of their comparative merits. 
Colonel Sleeman seems to have thought that he might have extracted more 
good out of Nasar-ud-din than out of any of the rest. 


with native institutions, and pay every single rupee into the 
royal treasury. 

This was the scheme of Lord William Bentinck, a man of 
unsurpassed honesty and justice ; and it met with favourable 
acceptance in Leadenhall-street. The Court of Directors at 
that time, true to the old traditions of the Company, were slow 
to encourage their agents to seek pretexts for the extension of 
their dominions. The despatches which they sent out to India 
were for the most part distinguished by a praiseworthy modera- 
tion ; sometimes, indeed, by a noble frankness and sincerity, 
which shewed that the authors of them were above all disguises 
and pretences. They now looked the Oudh business fairly in 
the face, but hoping still against hope that there might be some 
amelioration, they suffered, after the receipt of Lord William 
Bentinck's report, a year to pass away, and then another year, 
before issuing authoritative orders, and then they sent forth a 
despatch, which was intended to bring the whole July 16 
question to a final issue. They spoke of the feelings 1834. ' 
which the deplorable situation of a country so long and so 
nearly connected with them had excited in their minds — of the 
obligations which such a state of things imposed upon them — 
of the necessity of finding means of effecting a great altera- 
tion. They acknowledged, as they had acknowledged before, 
that our connexion with the country had largely contributed 
to the sufferings of the people, inasmuch as it had afforded 
protection to tyranny, and rendered hopeless the resistance of 
the oppressed.* This made it the more incumbent upon them 
to adopt measures for the mitigation, if not the removal, of 
the existing evil. They could not look on whilst the ruin 
of the country was consummated. It was certain that some- 
thing must be done. But what was that something to be? 
Then they set in array before them, somewhat as I have 
done above, the different measures which might be resorted to, 
and, dwelling upon the course which Bentinck had recom- 
mended, placed in the hands of the Governor-General a discre- 
tionary power to carry the proposed measure into effect at such 

* For a long time, as we have said, our troops were employed by the Kin^s 
officers to aid them in the collection of the revenue ; thereby active, as the 
Court frankly described it, as " instruments of extortion and vengeance." 
This scandal no longer existed; but our battalions were still stationed in the 
country, ready to dragoon down any open insurrection that might result from 
the misgovemment of Oudh. 


period, and in such a manner as might seem advisable, but 
with the utmost possible consideration for the King, whose 
consent to the proposed arrangement was, if possible, to be 
obtained. It was suggested that all the titles and honours of 
sovereignty should remain with his Majesty as before ; that the 
revenues should be mainly expended in the administration and 
the improvement of the country, and that either the surplus, or 
a fixed stipend, should be assigned to the King. But, at the 
same time, the Government were instructed, in the event of 
their proceeding to assume the administration of the country, 
distinctly to announce that, so soon as the necessary reforms 
should have been effected, the administration of the country, as 
in the case of Nagpur, would be restored to its native rulers. 

Colonel John Low, of whose character and career I have 
already spoken, was then Eesident at Lakhnao. The despatch 
of the Court of Directors, authorizing the temporary assumption 
of the Government of Oudh, was communicated to him, and he 
pondered over its contents. The scheme appeared in his eyes 
to be distinguished by its moderation and humanity, and to be 
one of a singularly disinterested character. But he was con- 
vinced that it would be misunderstood. He said that, however 
pure the motives of the British Government might be, the 
natives of India would surely believe that we had taken the 
country for ourselves. So he recommended the adoption of 
another method of obtaining the same end. Fully impressed 
with the necessity of removing the reigning King, Nasar-ud- 
din, he advised the Government to set up another ruler in his 
place ; and in order that the measure might be above all sus- 
picion, to abstain from receiving a single rupee, or a single acre 
of ground, as the price of his elevation. " What I recommend 
is this," he said, " that the next heir should be invested with 
the full powers of sovereignty ; and that the people of Oudh 
should continue to live under their own institutions." He had 
faith in the character of that next heir ; he believed that a 
change of men would produce a change of measures ; and, at all 
events, it was but bare justice to try the experiment. 

But, before anything had been done by the Government of 
India, in accordance with the discretion delegated to them by 
the Court of Directoi s, the experiment which Low had suggested 
inaugurated itself. Not without suspicion of poison, but really, 
I believe, killed only by strong drink, Nasar-ud-din Haidar died 
on a memorable July night. It was a crisis of no common 

(837.] LORD AUCKLAND. 91 

magnitude, for there was a disputed succession ; and large 
bodies of lawless native troops in Lakhnao were ready to strike 
at a moment's notice. The cool courage of Low and his assis- 
tants saved the city from a deluge of blood. An uncle of the 
deceased Prince — an old man and a cripple, respectable in his 
feebleness — was declared King, with the consent of the British 
Government ; and the independence of Oudh had another lease 
of existence. 

Lord Auckland was, at that time, Governor-General of India. 
The new King, who could not but feel that he was a creature 
of the British, pledged himself to sign a new treaty. And soon 
it was laid before him. That the engagements of the old treaty 
had been violated, day after day, year after year, for more than 
a third part of the century, was a fact too patent to be ques- 
tioned. The misgovernment of the country was a chronic 
breach of treaty. Whether the British or the Oudh Govern- 
ment were more responsible for it was somewhat doubtful to 
every clear understanding and every unprejudiced mind. The 
source of the failure was in the treaty itself, which the author 
of it well knew from the first was one of impossible fulfilment. 
But it was still a breach of treaty, and there was another in the 
entertainment of vast numbers of soldiers over and above the 
stipulated allowance. Those native levies had gradually swollen, 
according to Eesident Low's calculations, to the bulk of seventy 
thousand men. Here was an evil not to be longer permitted ; 
wonder, indeed, was it that it should have been permitted so 
long. This the new treaty was to remedy; no less than the 
continued mal-administration of the country by native agency. 
It provided, therefore, that in the event of any further-pro- 
tracted misrule, the British Government should be entitled to 
appoint its own officers to the management of any part, small 
or great, of the province ; that the old native levies should be 
abandoned, and a new force, commanded by British officers, 
organised in its place, at the cost of the Oudh Government. 
But there was no idea of touching, in any other way, the 
revenues of the country. An account was to be rendered of 
every rupee received and expended, and the balance was to be 
paid punctually into the Oudh Treasury. 

This was the abortion, often cited in later years as the Oudh 
Treaty of 1837. Authentic history recites that the Government 
of India were in throes with it, but the strangling hand of 
higher authority crushed all life out of the thing before it had 


become a fact. The treaty was wholly and absolutely dis- 
allowed by the Home Government.* They took especial excep- 
tion to the establishment of the new auxiliary force, which was 
to cost the Oudh Treasury sixteen lakhs of rupees a year ; for, 
with all the pure logic of honesty, they said that the treaty of 
1801 had made it compulsory on the British Government to 
provide for the defence of the country, and that a large tract of 
territory had been ceded with the express object of securing 
the payment of the troops necessary for this purpose. If, then, 
it were expedient to organise a fresh force under British officers, 
it was for the Company, not for the Oudh Government, to 
defray the expenses of the new levy. But not only on these 
grounds did they object to the treaty. It is true that, a few 
years before, they had given the Governor-General discre- 
tionary power to deal, as he thought best, with the disorders of 
Oudh, even to the extent of a temporary assumption of the 
government ; but this authority had been issued at a time when 
Nasar-ud-din, of whose vicious incapacity they had had many 
.years' experience, sat upon the throne ; and the Home Govern- 
ment were strongly of opinion that the new King, of whose 
character they had received a favourable account, ought to be 
allowed a fair trial, under the provisions of the treaty existing 
at the time of his accession to the throne. They therefore 
directed the abrogation, not of any one article, but of the entire 
treaty. Wishing, however, the annulment of the treaty to 
appear rather as an act of grace from the Government of India 
than as the result of positive and unconditional instructions 
from England, they gave a large discretion to the Governor- 
General as to the mode of announcing this abrogation to the 
Court of Lakhnao. 

The receipt of these orders disturbed and perplexed the 
Governor-General. Arrangements for the organisation of the 
Oudh auxiliary force had already advanced too far to admit of 
the suspension of the measure. It was a season, however, of diffi- 
culty and supposed danger, for the seeds of the Afghan war had 
been sown. Some, at least, of our regular troops in Oudh were 
wanted to do our own work ; so, in any view of the case, it was 
necessary to fill their places. The Auxiliary Force, therefore, 
was not to be arrested in its formation, but it was to be main- 

* That is to say, by the Secret Committee, who had, by Act of Parliament 
special powers in this matter of Treaty-making. 


tained at the Company's expense. Intimation to this effect was 
given to the King in a letter from the Governor-General, which, 
after acquainting his Majesty that the British Government had 
determined to relieve him of a burden which, in the existing 
state of the country, might have imposed heavier exactions on 
the people than the}* well were able to bear, expressed a strong 
hope that the King would see, in the relaxation of this demand, 
good reason for applying his surplus revenues firstly to the relief 
of oppressive taxation, and, secondly, to the prosecution of useful 
public works. But nothing was said, in this letter, about the 
abrogation of the entire treaty, nor was it desired that the 
Besident, in his conferences with the King or his minister, 
should say anything on that subject. The Governor-General, 
still hoping that the Home Government might be induced to 
consent to the terms of the treaty (the condition of the auxiliary 
force alone excluded), abstained from an acknowledgment which, 
he believed, would weaken the authority of his Government. 
But this was a mistake, and worse than a mistake. It betrayed 
an absence of moral courage not easily to be justified or 
forgiven. The Home Government never acknowledged the 
validity of any later treaty than that which Lord Wellesley 
had negotiated at the commencement of the century. 
' Such is the history of the treaty of 1837. It was never 
carried out in a single particular, and seldom heard of agaic 
until after a lapse of nearly twenty years, except in a collection 
of treaties into which it crept by mistake.* And, for some 

* Much was attempted to be made out of this circumstance — but the mis- 
take of an under Secretary cannot give validity to a treaty which the highest 
authorities refused to ratify. If Lord Auckland was unwilling to declare the 
nullity of the treaty because its nullification hurt the pride of his Government, 
the Home Government showed no such unwillingness, for, in 1838, the 
following return was made to Parliament, under the signature of one of the 
Secretaries of the Board of Control : 

" There has been no treaty concluded with the present King of Oudh, 
which has been ratified by the Court of Directors, with the approbation o r 
the Commissioners for the affairs of India. (Signed) " R. Gordon. 

"India Board, 3rd .July, 1838." 

It must, however be admitted, on the other hand, that, years after this 
date, even in the Lakhnao Residency, the treaty was held to be valid. In 
October, 1853, Colonel Sleeman wrote to Sir James Ho»g : " The treaty of 
1837 gives our Government ample authority to take the whole administration 
on ourselves." And again, in 1854, to Colonel Low : " Our Government would 
be fully authorised at anytime to enforce the penalty prescribed in your treaty 
of 1837." This was doubly a mistake. The treaty was certainly not Low's. 


time, indeed, little was heard of Oudh itself. A Native State 
is never so near to death, but that it may become quite hale and 
lusty again when the energies and activities of the British are 
engrossed by a foreign war. Now, it happened that, for some 
time to come, the British had quite a crop of foreign wars. 
First, the great Afghanistan war of Auckland, which made him 
wholly forgetful of Oudh — her People and her King — her 
sorrows and her sensualities. Then there was the Sindh war 
of Ellenborough, intended to wash out by a small victory the 
stain of a great defeat, but fixing a still deeper stain upon the 
character of the nation ; and next the fierce Maratha onslaught, 
which followed closely upon it. Then there was the invasion 
from beyoud the Satlaj, and the first Sikh war, in which 
Hardinge was most reluctantly immersed. Altogether, some 
eight years of incessant war, with a prospect of further strife, 
kept the sword out of the scabbard and the portfolio out of the 
hand. Then Oudh was safe in its insignificance and obscurity. 
Moreover, Oudh was, as before, loyal and sympathising, and, 
although the hoardings of Saadat Ali had long since been 
squandered, there was still money in the Treasure-chests of 
Lakhnao. But peace came, and with it a new birth of danger 
to the rulers of that misruled pioviuce. There had been no 
chauge for the better; nay, rather there had been change for 
the worse, during the years of our conflicts beyond the frontier. 
One Prince had succeeded another only to emulate the vices of 
his ancestors with certain special variations of his own. And 
when Lord Hardinge, in the quiet interval between the two 
Sikh wars, turned his thoughts towards the kingdom of Oudh, 
he found Wajid Ali Shah, then a young man in the first year 
of his reign, giving foul promise of sustaining the character of 
the Eoyal House.* 

With the same moderation as had been shown by Lord 
William Bentinck, but also with the same strong sense of the 
paramount duty of the British Government to arrest the dis- 

* There was something in the number seven fatal to the Princes of Oudh 
Ghazi-ud-dih Haidar died in 1827; Nasar-ud-dfn in 1837; and Umjid Ali 
Shah in 1847. The last named succeeded, in 1842, the old King, whom we 
had set up, and from whose better character there appeared at one time to be 
some hope of an improved administration. But, capax imperii nisi imper- 
asset, he was, for all purposes of government, as incompetent as his prede- 
cessors. His besetting infirmity was avarice, and he seemed to care for 
nothing so long as the treasure-chest was full. 


orders which had so long heen preying upon the vitals of the 
country, Lord Hardinge lifted up his voice in earnest remon- 
strance and solemn warning ; and the young King cowered 
beneath the keen glance of the clear bine eyes that were turned 
upon him. There were no vague words in that admonition ; no 
uncertain sound in their utterance. Wajid Ali Shah was dis- 
tinctly told that the clemency of the British Government would 
allow him two years of grace ; but that if at the end of that 
period of probation there were no manifest signs of improvement, 
the British Government could, in the interests of humanity, 
no longer righteously abstain from interfering peremptorily 
and absolutely for the introduction of a system of administration 
calculated to restore order and prosperity to the kingdom of 
Oudh. The discretionary power had years before been placed 
in the hands of the Governor-General, and these admonitions 
failing, it would assuredly be exercised. A general outline of 
the means, by which the administration might be reformed, was 
laid down in a memorandum read aloud to the King ; and it was 
added that, if his Majesty cordially entered into the plan, he 
might have the satisfaction, within the specified period of two 
years, of checking and eradicating the worst abuses, and, at the 
same time, of maintaining his own authority and the native 
institutions of his kingdom unimpaired — but that if he should 
adhere to his old evil ways, he must be prepared for the alter- 
native and its consequences. 

Nervous and excitable at all times, and greatly affected by 
these words, the Kin^; essayed to speak ; bnt the power of utter- 
ance had gone from him. So he took a sheet of paper and wrote 
upon it, that he thanked the Governor-General, and would 
regard his counsels as though they had been addressed by a 
father to his son. There are no counsels so habitually disre- 
garded ; the King, therefore, kept his word, Believed from the 
presence of the Governor-General his agitation subsided, and he 
betook himself, without a thought of the future, to his old 
courses. Fiddlers and dancers, singing men and eunuchs, were 
suffered to usurp the government and to absorb the revenues of 
the country. The evil influence of these vile panders and para- 
sites was felt throughout all conditions of society and in all 
parts of the country. Sunk in the uttermost abysses of en- 
feebling debauchery, the King pushed aside the business which 
he felt himself incapable of transacting, and went in search of 
new pleasures. Stimulated to the utmost by unnatural excite- 


ments, his appetites were satiated by the debaucheries of the 
Zenana, and, with an understanding emasculated to the point 
of childishness, he turned to the more harmless delights of 
dancing, and drumming, and drawing, and manufacturing 
small rhymes. Had he devoted himself to these pursuits in 
private life, there would have been small harm in them, but 
overjoyed with his success as a musician, he went about the 
crowded streets of Lakhnao with a big drum round his neck, 
striking as much noise out of it as he could, with all the 
extravagance of childish delight. 

The two years of probation had passed away, and the British 
Resident reported that " the King had not, since the Governor- 
General's visit in October, 1847, shown any signs of being fully 
aware of the responsibility he incurred." " In fact," he added, 
" I do not think that his Majesty can ever be brought to feel 
the responsibilities of sovereignty strungly enough to be in- 
duced to bear that portion of the burden of its duties that must 
necessarily devolve upon him ; he will always confide it to the 
worthless minions who are kept for his amusements, and enjoy 
exclusively his society and his confidence." So the time had 
arrived when the British Government might have righteously 
assumed the administration of Oudh. The King had justly 
incurred the penalty, but the paramount power was in no haste 
to inflict it. Lord Dalhousie was Governor-General of India; 
but again the external conflicts of the British were the salva- 
tion of the sovereignty of Oudh. The Panjab was in flames, 
and once more Lakhnao was forgotten. The conquest of the 
Sikhs ; the annexation of their country ; the new Burmese war 
and its results ; the lapses of which I have spoken in my last 
chapter ; and many important affairs of internal administration 
of which I have yet to speak, occupied the ever-active mind of 
Lord Dalhousie until the last year of his reign ; but it was felt 
by every one, who knew and pondered over the wretched state 
of the country, that the day of reckoning was approaching, and 
that the British Government could not much longer shrink 
from the performance of a duty imposed upon it by every 
consideration of humanity. 

Colonel Sleeman was then Resident at Lakhnao. He was a 
man of a liberal and humane nature, thoroughly acquainted 
with the character and feelings, the institutions and usages of 
the people of India. No man had a larger toleration for the 
short-comings of native Governments, because no one knew 

1849-50.] COLONEL SLEEMAN. 97 

better how much our own political system had aggravated, if 
it had not produced, the evils of which we most complained. 
But he sympathised at the same time acutely with the suffer- 
ings of the people living under those native Governments ; and 
his sympathy overcame his toleration. Having lived all his 
adult life in India— the greater part of it in, or on the borders 
of, the Native States — he was destitute of all overweening pre- 
possessions in favour of European institutions and the "blessings 
of British rule." But the more he saw, on the spot, of the ter- 
rible effects of the misgovernment of Oudh, the more convinced 
he was of the paramount duty of the British Government to 
step in and arrest the atrocities which were converting one of 
the finest provinces of India into a moral pest-house. In 1849 
and 1850 he made a tour through the interior of the country. 
He carried with him the prestige of a name second to none in 
India, as that of a friend of the poor, a protector of the weak, 
and a redresser of their wrongs. Conversing freely and 
familiarly in the native languages, and knowing well the 
character and the feelings of the people, he had a manner that 
inspired confidence, and the art of extracting from every man 
the information which he was best able to afford. During this 
tour in the interior, he noted down, from day to day, all the 
most striking facts which were brought to his notice, with the 
reflections which were suggested by them ; and the whole pre- 
sented a revolting picture of the worst type of misrule— of a 
feebleness worse than despotism, of an apathy more productive 
of human suffering than the worst forms of tyrannous activit}'. 
In the absence of all controlling authority, the strong carried 
on everywhere a war of extermination against the weak. Power- 
ful families, waxing gross on outrage and rapine, built forts, 
collected followers, and pillaged and murdered at discretion, 
without fear of justice overtaking their crimes. Nay, indeed, 
the greater the criminal the more sure he was of protection, for 
he could purchase immunity with his spoil. There was hardly, 
indeed, an atrocity committed, from one end of the country to 
the other, that was not, directly or indirectly, the result of the 
profligacy and corruption of the Court.* 

* " The Taliikdars keep the country in a perpetual state of disturbance, 

and render life, property, and industry everywhere insecure. Whenever they 

quarrel with each other, or with the local authorities of the Government, from 

whatever cause, they take to indiscriminate plunder and murder — over all 

VOL. I. H 


Such was Colonel Sleeinan's report of the state of the Oudh 
country ; such was his account of what he had seen with his 
own eyes or heard with his own ears. There was not a man 
in the Two Services who was more distressed by the fury for 
annexation which was at that time breaking out in the most 
influential public prints and the highest official circles. He 
saw clearly the danger into which this grievous lust of dominion 
was hurrying us, and he made a great effort to arrest the evil ;* 
but he lifted up a warning voice in vain. The letters which he 
addressed to the Governor-General and to the Chairman of the 
East India Company appear to have produced no effect. He 
did not see clearly, at that time, that the principles which he 
held in such abhorrence were cherished by Lord Dalhousie him- 

lands not held by men of the same class — no road, town, village, or hamlet 
is secure from their merciless attacks — robbery and murder become their 
diversion, their sport, and they think no more of taking the lives of men, 
women, and children, who never offended them, than those of deer and wild 
hogs. They not only rob and murder, but seize, confine, and torture all whom 
they seize, and suppose to have money or credit, till they ransom themselves 
with all they have, or can beg or borrow. Hardly a day has passed since I 
left Lakhnao, in which I have not had abundant proof of numerous atrocities 
of this kind committed by landholders within the district through which I was 
passing, year by year, up to the present day." And again : " It is worthy of 
remark that these great landholders, who have recently acquired their posses- 
sions by the plunder and the murder of their weaker neighbours, and who 
continue their system of plunder in order to acquire the means to maintain 
their gangs and add to their possessions, are those who are most favoured at 
Court, and most conciliated by the local rulers, because they are more able 
and more willing to pay for the favour of the one and set at defiance the 
authority of the other." — Sleeman's Diary. 

* See Sleeman 's Correspondence, passim. Exempli gratia : " In September, 
1818, 1 took the liberty to mention to your Lordship my fears that the system 
of annexing and absorbing Native States — so popular with our Indian 
Services, and so much advocated by a certain class of writers in public 
journals — might some day render us too visibly dependent upon our Native 
Army ; that they might see it, and that accidents might occur to unite them, 
or too great a portion of them, in some desperate act." — Colonel Sleeman to 
Lord Dalhousie, April, 1852. And again: "I deem such doctrines to be 
dangerous to our rule in India, and prejudicial to the best interests of the 
country. The people see that these annexations and confiscations go on, and 
that rewards and honorary distinctions are given for them and for the 
victories which lead to them, and for little else ; and they are too apt to infer 
that they are systematic and encouraged and prescribed from home. The 
Native States I consider to be breakwaters, and when they are all swept away 
we shall be left to the mercy of our Native Army, which may not always be 
sufficiently under our control." — Colonel Sleeman to Sir James Hogg, January, 


self, and he did not know that the Court of Directors had such 
faith in their Governor-General that they were content to sub- 
stitute his principles for their own. But, utterly distasteful to 
him as were the then prevailing sentiments in favour of ab- 
sorption and confiscation, Sleeman never closed his eyes against 
the fact that interference in the affairs of Oudh, even to the 
extent of the direct assumption of the government, would be a 
righteous interference. Year after year he had pressed upon the 
Governor-General the urgent necessity of the measure. But, 
perhaps, had he known in what manner his advice was destined 
to be followed, and how his authority would be asserted in 
justification of an act which he could never countenance, he 
would rather have suffered the feeble-minded debauchee who 
was called King of Oudh still to remain in undisturbed pos- 
session of the throne, than have uttered a word that might 
hasten a measure so at variance with his sense of justice, and 
so injurious as he thought to our best interests, as that of 
which the interference of Government eventually took the 

Sleeman's advice had been clear, consistent, unmistakable. 
"Assume the administration," he said, "but do not grasp the 
revenues of the country." Some years before the same advice 
had been given by Henry Lawrence,* between whom and 
Sleeman there was much concord of opinion and some simili- 
tude of character. The private letters of the latter, addressed 
to the highest Indian functionaries, and, therefore, having all 
the weight and authority of public documents, were as distinct 
upon this point as the most emphatic words could make them. 
" What the people want, and most earnestly pray for," he wrote 
to the Governor-General, " is that our Government should take 
upon itself the responsibility of governing them well and 
permanently. All classes, save the knaves, who now surround 
and govern the King, earnestly pray for this — the educated 
classes, because they would then have a chance of respectable 
employment, which none of them now have ; the middle classes, 
because they find no protection or encouragement, and no hope 

* " Let the management," he said, " be assumed under some such rules as 
those which were laid down by Lord William Bentinck. Let the adminis- 
tration of the country, as far as possible, be native. Let not a rupee come 
into the Company's coffers." (The italics are Lawrence's.) " Let Oudh be at 
last governed,* not for one man, the King, but for him and his people." — 
Calcutta Review, vol. iii. (1S45); and Lawrence's Essays, p. 132. 

* 2 


that their children will be permitted to inherit the property 
they leave, not invested in our Government Securities ; and the 
humbler classes, because they are now abandoned to the merci- 
less rapacity of the starving troops and other public establish- 
ments, and of the landholders driven or invited to rebellion by 
the present state of misrule." But he added : " I believe that 
it is your Lordship's wish that the whole of the revenues of 
Oudh should be expended for the benefit of the Eoyal Faniily 
and People of Oudh, and that the British Government should 
disclaim any wish to derive any pecuniary advantage from 
assuming to itself the administration." And again, about the 
same time, he had written to the Chairman of the Court of 
Directors, urging the expediency of assuming the administra- 
tion, but adding : " If we do this, we must, in order to stand 
well with the rest of India, honestly and distinctly disclaim all 
interested motives, and appropriate the whole of the revenues 
for the benefit of the People and Eoyal Family of Oudh. If 
we do this, all India will think us right." And again, a few 
months later, writing to the same high authority, he said, 
mournfully and prophetically, that to annex and confiscate the 
country, and to appropriate the revenues to ourselves, would 
" be most profitable in a pecuniary view, but most injurious in 
a political one. It would tend to accelerate the crisis which 
the doctrines of the absorbing school must sooner or later bring 
upon us." * 

Such was the counsel Sleeman gave ; such were the warnings 
he uttered. But he did not remain in India, nay, indeed, he 
did not live, to see his advice ignored, his cautions disregarded. 
After long years of arduous and honourable service, compelled 
to retire in broken health from his post, he died on his home- 
ward voyage, leaving behind him a name second to none upon 
the roll of the benefactors and civilisers of India, for he had 

grappled with her greatest abomination, and had 

effectually subdued it. Some solace had it been to 
him when he turned his back upon the country to know that 

his place would be well and worthily filled. 
Sep i854 ber " ^ a< ^ y° ur Lordship left the choice of a successor 

to me," he wrote to the Governor-General, " I 
should have pointed out Colonel Outram ; and I feel very much 

* Private correspondence of Sir W. H. Sleeman, printed at the end of the 
English edition of his " Diary in Oudh." 

1854.] JAMES OUTKAM. 101 

rejoiced thai he has been selected for the office, and I hope he 
will come as soon as possible." 

An officer of the Company's army on the Bombay establish- 
ment, James Outrain had done good service to his country, 
good service to the people of India, on many different fields of 
adventure ; and had risen, not without much sore travail and 
sharp contention, to a place in the estimation of his Govern- 
ment and the affections of his comrades, from which he could 
afford to look down upon the conflicts of the Past with measure- 
less calmness and contentment. Versed alike in the stern 
severities of war and the civilising humanities of peace, he was 
ready at a moment's notice to lead an army into the field or to 
superintend the government of a province. But it was in rough 
soldier's work, or in that still rougher work of mingled war 
and diplomacy which falls to the share of the Political officer in 
India, that Outram's great and good qualities were most con- 
spicuously displayed. For in him, with courage of the highest 
order, with masculine energy and resolution, were combined 
the gentleness of a woman and the simplicity of a child. No 
man knew better how to temper power with mercy and forbear- 
ance, and to combat intrigue and perfidy with pure sincerity 
and stainless truth. This truthfulness was, indeed, perhaps 
the most prominent, as it was the most perilous, feature of his 
character. Whatsoever he might do, whatsoever he might say, 
the whole was there before you in its full proportions. He 
wore his heart upon his sleeve, and was incapable of conceal- 
ment or disguise. A pure sense of honour, a strong sense of 
justice, the vehement assertions of which no self-interested 
discretion could hold in restraint, brought him sometimes into 
collision with others, and immersed him in a sea of controversy. 
But although, perhaps, in his reverential love of truth, he was 
over-eager to fight down what he might have been well content 
to live down, and in after life he may have felt that these 
wordy battles were very little worth fighting, he had still no 
cause to regret them, for he came unhurt from the conflict. It 
was after one of these great conflicts, the growth of serious 
official strife, which had sent him from an honourable post into 
still more honourable retirement, that, returning to India with 
strong credentials from his masters in Leadenhall-street, Lord 
Dalhousie selected him to succeed Sleeman as Resident at 

The choice was a wise one. There was work to be done 


which required a hand at once gentle and strong. The fame of 
Outram was not the fame of a spoliator, but of a just man 
friendly to the native Princes and chiefs of India, who had 
lilted up his voice against wrongs done to them in his time, 
and who would rather have closed his public career than have 
been the agent of an unrighteous policy. But a measure which 
Low, and Sleeman, and Henry Lawrence had approved, nay, 
which in the interests of humanity they had strenuously recom- 
mended, was little likely to be an unrighteous one, and Outram, 
whilst rejoicing that his past career had thus been stamped by 
his Government with the highest practical approval, accepted 
the offer in the full assurance that he could fulfil its duties 
without a stain upon his honour or a burden upon his con- 

Making all haste to join his appointment, Outram quitted 
Aden, where the summons reached him, and took ship for 
Calcutta, where he arrived in the first month of the cold season. 
His instructions were soon prepared for him ; they 
°i854. er ' were brief, but they suggested the settled resolution 
of Government to wait no longer for impossible im- 
provements from within, but at once to shape their measures for 
the assertion, in accordance with Treaty, of the authority of 
the Paramount State. But it was not a thin<r to be done in a 
hurry. The measure itself was to be deliberately carried out 
after certain preliminary formalities of inquiry and reference. 
It was Outram's part to inquire. A report upon the existing 
state of Oudh was called for from the new Eesident, and before 
the end of March it was forwarded to Calcutta. It was an 
elaborate history of the misgovernment of Oudh from the com- 
mencement of the century, a dark catalogue of crime and suffer- 
ing "caused by the culpable apathy of the Sovereign and the 
Lurbar." " I have shown," said the new Eesident, in con- 
clusion, " that the affairs of Oudh still continue in the same 
state, if not worse, in which Colonel Sleeman from time to time 
described them to be, and that the improvement which Lord 
Hardinge peremptorily demanded, seven years ago, at the hands 
of the King, in pursuance of the Treaty of 1801, has not, in 
any degree, been effected. And I have no hesitation in declar- 
ing my opinion, therefore, that the duty imposed on the British 

* I speak, of course, of the mere fact of the assumption of the administra- 
tion. The manner of carrying out the measure had not then been decided. 

1855.] OUTRAM'S REPORT. 103 

Government by that treaty cannot any longer admit of our 
• honestly indulging the reluctance which the Government of 
India has felt heretofore to have recourse to those extreme 
measures which alone can be of any real efficiency in remedying 
the evils from which the state of Oudh has suffered so long.' ' 

To this report, and to much earlier information of the same 
kind with which the archives of Government were laden, 
the Governor-General gave earnest and sustained attention 
amidst the refreshing quiet of the Blue Mountains of Madras. 
The weighty document had picked up, on its road through 
Calcutta, another still more weighty, in the shape of 
a minute written by General Low. Few as were the M "^ s ' 
words, they exhausted all the arguments in favour of 
intervention, and clothed them with the authority of a great 
name. No other name could have invested them with this 
authority, for no other man had seen so much of the evils of 
native rule in Oudh, and no man was on principle more averse 
to the extinction of the native dynasties of India. All men 
must have felt the case to be very bad when John Low, who 
had spoken the brave words in defence of the Princes and chiefs 
of India which I have cited in the last chapter, was driven to 
the forcible expression of his conviction, that it was the para- 
mount duty of the British Government to interfere at once for 
the protection of the people of Oudh.* 

It was not possible to add much in the way of fact to what 
Outram had compiled, or much in the way of argument to what 
Low had written. But Dalhousie, to whom the fine bracing 

* Low said that he was in favour of interference, " because the public and 
shameful oppressions committed on the people by Government officers in 
Oudh have of late years been constant and extreme ; because the King of 
Oudh has continually, during many years, broken the Treaty by syste- 
matically disregarding our advice, instead of following it, or even endeavour- 
ing to follow it; because we are bound by Treaty (quite different in that 
respect from our position relatively to most of the great Native States) to 
prevent serious interior misrule in Oudh ; because it has been fully proved 
that we have not prevented it, and that we cannot prevent it by the present 
mode of conducting our relations with that State ; and because no man of 
common sense can entertain the smallest expectation that the present King 
of Oudh can ever become an efficient ruler of his country.'* And he added 
to these pungent sentences an expression of opinion that the unfulfilled 
threats of Lord Hardinge had increased the evil, inasmuch as that they had 
produced an impression in Oudh that the Indian Government were restrained 
from interference by the orders of higher authority at home. 


air of the Nilgiris had imparted a new-born capacity for 
sustained labour, sat himself down to review the whole ques- 
tion in a gigantic minute. He signed it on the 18th June ; 
and, indeed, it was his Waterloo — the crowning victory of 
annexation. It is not necessary to repeat the facts, for I have 
stated them, or the arguments, for I have suggested them. No 
reader can have followed me thus far, without a strong assur- 
ance on his mind, that it would have been a grievous wrong 
done to humanity to have any longer abstained from inter- 
ference. But what was the interference to be ? Here was a 
question for the ^Governor-General to solve in the invigorating 
atmosphere of Utakamand — a question, the solution of which 
was to yield the crowning measure of his long vice-regal career. 

There may have been many ways of working out the practical 
details of this measure ; but there was only one uncertain point 
which was of much substantial importance. All men agreed 
that the Treaty of 1801 might rightfully be declared to have 
ceased by reason of repeated violations, and that with the con- 
sent of the King, if attainable, or without it, if unattainable, the 
Government of the country might be transferred to the hands 
of European administrators. That the King must be reduced 
to a mere cypher was certain ; it was certain that all possible 
respect ought to be shown to him in his fallen fortunes, and 
that he and all his family ought to be splendidly endowed ; no 
question could well be raised upon these points. The question 
was, what was to be done with the surplus revenue after paying 
all the expenses of administration ? Just and wise men, as has 
been shown, had protested against the absorption of a single 
rupee into the British Treasury. They said that it would be as 
politic as it would be righteous, to demonstrate to all the States 
and Nations of India, that we had not deposed the King of Oudh 
for our own benefit — that we had done a righteous act on broad 
princijDles of humanity, b}^ which we had gained nothing. But 
Lord Dalhousie, though he proposed not to annex the country, 
determined to take the revenues. 

It is not very easy to arrive at a just conception of his views : 
" The reform of the administration," he said, " may be wrought, 
and the prosperity of the people may be secured, without 
resorting to so extreme a measure as the annexation of the 
territory and the abolition of the throne. I, for my part, there- 
fore, do not recommend that tin province of Oudh should be 
declared to be British territory." But he proposed that the 

1855.] DALHOUSIE'S VIEWS. 105 

King of Oudh, whilst retaining the sovereignty of his dominions, 
should "vest all power, jurisdiction, rights and claims thereto 
belonging in the hands of the East India Company," and that 
the surplus revenues should be at the disposal of the Company. 
What this territorial sovereignty was to be, without territorial 
rights or territorial revenues, it is not easy to see. When the 
Nawab of the Karnatik and the Bajah of Tanjur were deprived 
of their rights and revenues, they were held to be not terri- 
torial, but titular sovereigns. The Nizam, on the other hand, 
might properly be described as " territorial sovereign " of the 
Assigned Districts, although the administration had been taken 
from him, because an account of the revenue was to be rendered 
to him, and the surplus was to be paid into his hands. But the 
King of Oudh, in Dalhousie's scheme, was to have bad no more 
to do with his territories than the titular sovereigns of the 
Karnatik and Tanjur ; and yet he was to be told that he was 
" to retain the sovereignty of all the territories " of which he 
was then in possession. 

Strictly interpreted to the letter, the scheme did not suggest 
the annexation of Oudh. The province was not to be incor- 
porated with the British dominions. The revenues were to be 
kept distinct from those of the empire ; there was to be a sepa- 
rate balance-sheet ; and thus far the province was to have a sort 
of integrity of its own. This is sufficiently intelligible in itself; 
and, if the balance being struck, the available surplus had been 
payable to the King of Oudh, the rest of the scheme would have 
been intelligible also, for there would have been a quasi-sove- 
reign ty of the territories thus administered still remaining with 
the King. But the balance being payable into the British 
Treasury, it appears that Oudh, in this state of financial isola- 
tion, would still have substantially been British territory, as 
much as if it had become a component part of the empire. 
Again, under the proposed system, Oudh would have been 
beyond the circle of our ordinary legislation, in which respect 
it would not have differed much from other " Non-Begulation 
Provinces " ; and if it had, even this Legislative segregation 
superadded to the Financial isolation of which I have spoken, 
would not have made it any the less British territory. The 
Channel Islands have a separate Budget and distinct laws of 
their own, but still they are component parts of the British 
Empire, although they do not pay their surplus into the British 
Treasury. But in everything that really constitutes Kingship, 


the Bailiff of Jersey is as much the territorial sovereign of that 
island as Wajid Ali would have been territorial sovereign of 
Oudh under Lord Dalhousie's programme of non-annexation. 

But this transparent disguise was not to be worn ; this dis- 
tinction without a difference was not to be asserted, anywhere 
out of Lord Dalhousie's great Minute. The thing that was to 
be done soon came to take its proper place in the Councils of 
the Indian Empire as the Annexation of Oudh ; and it was as 
the annexation of Oudh that the measure was considered by the 
Government at home. The Court of Directors consented to the 
annexation of Oudh. The Board of Control consented to the 
annexation of Oudh. The British Cabinet consented to the an- 
nexation of Oudh. The word was not then, as it since has been, 
freely used in official documents, but it was in all men's minds, 
and many spoke it out bluntly instead of talking delicately 
about "assuming the Government of the Country." And, whether 
right or wrong, the responsibility of the measure rested as 
much with the Queen's Ministers as with the Merchant Com- 
pany* That the Company had for long years shown great for- 
bearance is certain. They had hoped against hope, and acted 
against all experience. So eager, indeed, had they been to 
give the Native Princes of India a fair trial, that they had dis- 
allowed the proposed treaty of 1837, and had pronounced an 
authoritative opinion in favour of the maintenance of the then 
existing Native States of India. But twenty more years of 
misrule and anarchy had raised in their minds a feeling of 
wondering self-reproach at the thought of their own patience ; 
and when they responded to the reference from Calcutta, they 
said that the doubt raised by a survey of the facts before them, 
was not whether it was then incumbent upon them to free 
themselves from the responsibility of any longer upholding 
such a Government, but whether they could excuse themselves 
for not having, many years before, performed so imperative a 

The despatch of the Court of Directors was signed 
November 19, j n ^he middle of November. At midnight on the 
2nd of January, the Governor-General mastered its 
contents. Had he thought of himself more than of his country, 
he would not have been there at that time. The energies of 
his mind were undimmed ; but climate, and much toil, and a 
heavy sorrow weighing on his heart, had shattered a frame 
never constitutionally robust, and all men said that he was 

1855-56.] ORDERS FROM HOME. 107 

" breaking." Without any failure of duty, without any im- 
putation on his zeal, he might have left to his successor the 
ungrateful task of turning into stern realities the oft-repeated 
menaces of the British rulers who had gone before him. But 
he was not one to shrink from the performance of such a task 
because it was a painful and unpopular one. He believed that, 
by no one could the duty of bringing the Oudh Government to 
solemn account be so fitly discharged as by one who had watched 
for seven years the accumulation of its offences, and seen the 
measure of its guilt filled to the brim. He had intimated, there- 
fore, to the Court of Directors his willingness to remain at his 
post to discharge this duty, and in the despatch, which he read 
in the quiet of that January night, he saw on official record the 
alacrity with which his offer was accepted, and he girded him- 
self for the closing act of his long and eventful administration.* 

Next morning he summoned a Council. It was little more 
than a form. Dalhousie had waited for the authoritative sanction 
of the Home Government ; but he knew that sanction was 
coming, and he was prepared for its arrival. The greater 
part of the work had, indeed, been already done. The instruc- 
tions to be sent to the Eesident ; the treaty to be proposed to 
the King ; the proclamation to be issued to the people had all 
been drafted. The whole scheme of internal government had 
been matured, and the agency to be employed had been carefully 
considered. The muster-roll of the new administration was 
ready, and the machinery was complete. The system was very 
closely to resemble that which had been tried with such good 
success in the Panjab, and its agents were, as in that province, 
to be a mixed body of civil and military officers, under a Chief 
Commissioner. All the weighty documents, by which the 
revolution was to be effected, were in the portfolio of the 
Foreign Secretary ; and now, at this meeting of the Council, 
they were formally let loose to do their work. 

The task which Outram was commissioned to perform was a 
difficult, a delicate, and a painful one. He was to endeavour to 
persuade the King of Oudh formally to abdicate his sovereign 
functions, and to make over, by a solemn treaty, the govern- 
ment of his territories to the East India Company. In the 
event of his refusal, a proclamation was to be issued, declaring 

* The Court of Directors to the Government of India, November 19, 1855, 
Paragraph 19. 


the whole of Oudh to be British territory. By a man of Outram's 
humane and generous nature no counsel from his Government was 
needed to induce him to do the work entrusted to him in the 
manner least likely to wound the feelings of the King- But it 
was right that such counsel should be given. It was given ; but 
the decree of the Paramount State, tempered as it might be by out 
ward courtesy of manner, was still to be carried out, with stern 
and resolute action. No protests, no remonstrances, no promises, 
no prayers were to be suffered to arrest the retributive measure 
for a day. It need not be added that no resistance could avert 
it. A body of British troops, sufficient to trample down all 
possible opposition, had been moved up into a position to over- 
awe Lakhnao, and for the doomed Government of Oudh to 
attempt to save itself by a display of force would have been 
only to court a most useless butchery. 

Outram received his instructions at the end of January. On 
the last day of the month he placed himself in communication 
with the Oudh Minister, clearly stated the orders of the British 
Government, and said that they were final and decisive. Four 
days were spent in preliminary formalities and negotiations. 
In true Oriental fashion, the Court endeavoured to gain time, 
and, appealing to Outram, through the aged Queen Mother — a 
woman with far more of masculine energy and resolution than 
her son — importuned him to persuade his Government to give 
the King another trial, to wait for the arrival of the new 
Governor-General, to dictate to Wajid Ali any reforms to be 
carried out in his name. All this had been expected ; all this 
provided for. Outram had but one answer ; the day of trial, 
the day of forbearance, was past. All that he could now do was 
to deliver his message to the King. 

On the 4th of February, Wajid Ali announced his willingness 
to receive the British Besident ; and Outram, accompanied by 
his lieutenants, Hayes and Weston, proceeded to tne palace. 
Strange and significant symptoms greeted them as they went. 
The guns at the palace-gates were dismounted. The palace- 
guards were unarmed. The guard of honour, who should have 
presented arms to the Besident, saluted him only with their 
hands. Attended by his brother and a few of his confidential 
Ministers, the King received the English gentlemen at the 
usual spot ; and after the wonted ceremonies, the business com- 
menced. Outram presented to the King a letter from the 
Governor-General, which contained, in terms of courteous ex- 

1856.] ANNEXATION. 109 

planation, the sentence that had been passed upon him, and 
urged him not to resist it. A draft of the proposed treaty was 
then placed in his hands. He received it with a passionate 
burst of grief, declared that treaties were only between equals ; 
that there was no need for him to sign it, as the British would 
do with him and his possessions as they pleased ; they had 
taken his honour and his country, and he would not ask them 
for the means of maintaining his life. All that he sought was 
permission to proceed to England, and cast himself and his 
sorrows at the foot of the Throne. Nothing could move him 
from his resolution not to sign the treaty. He uncovered his 
head ; placed bis turban in the hands of the Eesident, and 
sorrowfully declared that title, rank, honour, everything were 
gone ; and that now the British Government, which had made 
his grandfather a King, might reduce him to nothing, and 
consign him to obscurity. 

In this exaggerated display of helplessness there was some- 
thing too characteristically Oriental for any part of it to be 
assigned to European prompting. But if the scene had been 
got up expressly for an English audience, it could not have 
been more cunningly contrived to increase the appearance of 
harshness and cruelty with which the friends of the King were 
prepared to invest the act of dethronement. No man was more 
likely than Outram to have been doubly pained, in the midst 
of all bis painful duties, by the unmanly prostration of the 
King. To deal harshly with one who declared himself so feeble 
and defenceless, was like striking a woman or a cripple. But 
five millions of people were not to be given up, from generation 
to generation, to suffering and sorrow, because an effeminate 
Prince, when told he was no longer to have the power of 
inflicting measureless wrongs on his country, burst into tears, 
said that he was a miserable wretch, and took off his turban 
instead of taking out his sword. 

There was nothing now left for Outram but to issue a pro- 
clamation, prepared for him in Calcutta, declaring the province 
of Oudh to be thenceforth, for ever, a component part of the 
British Indian Empire. It went forth to the people of Oudh ; 
and the people of Oudh, without a murmur, accepted their 
new masters. There were no popular risings. Not a blow 
was struck in defence of the native dynasty of Oudh. The 
whole population went over quietly to their new rulers, and 
the country, for a time, was outwardly more tranquil than before. 


This was the last act of Lord Dalhousie's Ministry. When 
he placed the Portfolio of Government in the hands of Lord 
Canning, the British officers to whom had been entrusted the 
work of reforming the administration of Oudh were dis- 
charging their prescribed duties with an energy which seemed 
to promise the happiest results. The King was still obstinate 
and sullen. He persisted in refusing to sign the treaty or to 
accept the proposed stipend of twelve lakhs ; and 
though he had thought better of the idea of casting 
himself at the foot of the British Throne, he had made arrange- 
ments to send his nearest kindred — his mother, his brother, and 
his son — to England to perform a vicarious act of obeisance, 
and to clamour for his lights. 

With what result the administration, as copied closely from 
the Panjabi system, was wrought out in detail, will be shown 
at a subsequent stage of this narrative. It was thought, as the 
work proceeded in quietude and in seeming prosperity, that it 
was a great success ; and it gladdened the heart of the Govern- 
ment in Leadenhall-street, to think of the accomplishment of 
this peaceful revolution. But that the measure itself made a 
very bad impression on the minds of the people of India, is not 
to be doubted; not because of the deposition of a King who 
had abused his powers ; not because of the introduction of a 
new system of administration for the benefit of the people ; 
but tecause the humanity of the act was soiled by the profit 
which we derived from it; and to the comprehension of the 
multitude it appeared that the good of the people, which we 
had vaunted whilst serving ourselves, was nothing more than 
a pretext and a sham ; and that we had simply extinguished 
one of the few remaining Muhammadan States of India that 
we might add so many thousands of square miles to our British 
territories, and so many millions of rupees to the revenues of 
the British Empire in the East. And who, it was asked, could 
be safe, if we thus treated one who had ever been the most 
faithful of our allies? 



Whilst great principalities were thus being absorbed and 
ancient sovereignties extinguished, a war of extermination no 
less fatal in its effects, but more noiseless in its operations, was 
being waged against the nobility and gentry of the country. 
The original proclamation of this war did not emanate from 
Lord Dathousie. The measures by which the native aristocracy 
were destroyed were not primarily his measures. It was the 
policy of the times to recognise nothing between the Prince and 
the Peasant ; a policy which owed its birth not to one but to 
many ; a policy, the greatest practical exposition of which was 
the Settlement of the North- West Provinces. It was adopted 
in pure good faith and with the most benevolent intentions. It 
had the sanction of many wise and good men. It was not the 
policy by which such statesmen as John Malcolm, George 
Clerk, and Henry Lawrence sought to govern the people ; but 
it was sanctified by the genius of John Lawrence, and of the 
Gamaliel at whose feet he had sat, the virtuous, pure-minded 
James Thomason. 

To bring the direct authority of the British Government to 
bear upon the great masses of the people, without the interven- 
tion of any powerful section of their own countrymen — to 
ignore, indeed, the existence of all governing classes but the 
European officers, who carried out the behests of that Govern- 
ment — seemed to be a wise and humane system of protection. 
It was intended to shelter the many from the injurious action 
of the interests and the passions of the few. The utter worth- 
lessness of the upper classes was assumed to be a fact ; and it 
was honestly believed that the obliteration of the aristocracy of 
the land was the greatest benefit that could be conferred on the 
people. And thus it happened that whilst the native sove- 
reigns of India were one by one being extinguished, the native 
aristocracy had become well-nigh extinct. 

Doubtless, we started upon a theory sound in the abstract, 
intent only on promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest 


number; but if we had allowed ourselves to understand the 
genius and the institutions of the people, we should have re- 
spected the rights, natural and acquired, of all classes of the 
community, instead of working out any abstract theory of our 
own. It was in the very nature of things necessary, inevitable, 
that the extension of British rule, followed always by a recon- 
struction of the administration, and a substitution of civil and 
military establishments fashioned upon our own models and 
composed of our own people, should have deprived many of the 
chief people of their official rank and official emoluments, and 
cast them adrift upon the world, either to seek new fields of 
adventure in the unabsorbed Native States, or to fester into a 
disaffected and dangerous class sullenly biding their time. This 
is old story ; an old complaint. Half a century before the time 
of which I am now writing, it had been alleged to be one of 
the main causes of that national outburst in Southern India 
known as the mutiny of Vellur. But this very necessity for 
the extinction of the old race of high native functionaries, often 
hereditary office-bearers, ought to have rendered us all the more 
desirous to perpetuate the nobility whose greatness was derived 
from the Land. It is true that the titles of the landed gentry 
whom we found in possession were, in some cases, neither of 
very ancient date nor of very unquestionable origin. But, what- 
soever the nature of their tenures, we found them in the posses- 
sion of certain rights or privileges allowed to them by the 
Governments which we had supplanted, and our first care should 
have been to confirm and secure their enjoyment of them. We 
might have done this without sacrificing the rights of others. 
Indeed, we might have done it to the full contentment of the 
inferior agricultural classes. But many able English states- 
men, especially in Upper India, had no toleration for any one 
who might properly be described as a Native Gentleman. They 
had large sympathies and a comprehensive humanity, but still 
they could not embrace any other idea of the Native Gentry of 
India than that of an institution to be righteously obliterated 
for the benefit of the great mass of the people. 

There were two processes by which this depression of the 
privileged classes was effected. The one was known by the 
name of a Settlement, the other was called Besumption. It 
would be out of place here, if I had the ability, to enter minutely 
into the difficult question of landed tenures in India. It is an 
old story now, that when that clever coxcomb, Victor Jacque- 


mont, asked Holt Mackenzie to explain to him in a five minutes' 
conversation the various systems of Land Eevenue obtaining in 
different parts of the country, the experienced civilian replied 
that he had been for twenty years endeavouring to understand 
the subject and had not mastered it yet. Such a rebuke ought 
to be remembered. The little that I have to say on the subject 
shall be said with the least possible use of technical terms, and 
with the one object of making the general reader acquainted 
with the process by which the substance of the great land- 
holders in Upper India was diminished by the action of the 
British Government. 

In the Literature of India the word " Settlement " is one of 
such frequent occurrence, and to the Indian resident 
it conveys such a distinct idea, that there is some Settlement 
danger of forgetting that the general reader may not 
be equally conversant with the exact meaning of the term. It 
may therefore, perhaps, be advantageously explained that as the 
Indian Eevenue is mainly derived from the land, it is of the 
first importance, on the acquisition of new territory, clearly to 
ascertain the persons from whom the Government dues are to be 
exacted, and the amount that is payable by each. We may call 
it Eent or we may call it Eevenue, it little matters. The ad- 
justment of the mutual relations between the Government and 
the agriculturists was known as the Settlement of the Eevenue. 
It was an affair of as much vital interest and concernment to 
the one as to the other, for to be charged with the payment of 
the Eevenue was to be acknowledged as the proprietor of the 

When we first took possession of the country ceded by the 
Nawab-Wazir of Oudh, or conquered from the Marathas, all 
sorts of proprietors presented themselves, and our officers, 
having no special theories and no overriding prejudices, were 
willing to consider the claims of all, whether small or great 
holders, whom they found in actual possession ; and brief settle- 
ments or engagements were made with them, pending a more 
thorough investigation of their rights. There was, doubtless, 
at first a good deal of ignorance on our part, and a good deal of* 
wrong-doing and usurpation on the part of those with whom 
we were called upon to deal. But the landed gentry of these 
Ceded and Conquered Provinces, though they suffered by the 
extension of the British Baj, were not deliberately destroyed by 
a theory. It was the inevitable tendency of our EegulatioDS, 

VOL. i. i 


especially of that great Mystery of Iniquity, the Sale Law, and 
of the immigration of astute native functionaries from the 
Lower Provinces, which inaugurated our rule, to subvert the 
supremacy of the old landholders. Under the system, which 
we introduced, men who had been proprietors of vast tracts of 
country as far as tli6 eye could reach, shrivelled into tenants of 
mud-huts and possessors only of a few cooking-pots. The pro- 
cess, though certain in its results, was gradual in its operation ; 
and the ruin which it entailed was incidental, not systematic. 
It was ignorantly suffered, not deliberately decreed. But, at a 
later period, when a new political creed had grown up among 
our British functionaries in India, and upon officers of this new 
school devolved the duty of fixing the relations of the agricul- 
tural classes with the British Government, the great besom of 
the Settlement swept out the remnant of the landed gentry 
from their baronial possessions, and a race of peasant- proprietors 
were recognised as the legitimate inheritors of the soil. 

How this happened may be briefly stated. A Permanent 
Settlement on the Bengal model had been talked of, ordered 
and counter-ordered ; but for nearly a third part of a century, 
under a series of brief engagements with holders of different 
kinds, uncertainty and confusion prevailed, injurious both to 
the Government and to the People. But in the time of Lord 
William Bentinck an order went forth for the revision of 
this system or no-system, based upon a detailed survey and 
a clearly recorded definition of rights, and what is known in 
History as the Settlement of the North- West Provinces was 
then formally commenced. 

That it was benevolently designed and conscientiously exe- 
cuted, is not to be doubted. But it was marred by a Theory. 
In the pursuit of right, the framers of the settlement fell into 
wrong. Striving after justice, they perpetrated injustice. 
Nothing could be sounder than the declared principle, that 
" it was the duty of the Government to ascertain and pro- 
tect all existing rights, those of the poor and humble villager 
as well as those of the rich and influential Talukdar."* It 
was said that this principle had been not only asserted, but 

* See letter of Mr. John Thornton, Secretary to Government, North-West 
Provinces, to Mr. H. M. Elliot, Secretary to Board of Revenue, April 30, 
1845. It is added, with undeniable truth, that "in so far as this is done 
with care and diligence, will the measure be successful in placing property on 
a Lealthy and sound footing." 


acted upon. But the fact is, that the practice halted a long 
way behind the principle. Such were the feelings with which 
many of our officers regarded the great landholders, that equal 
justice between the conflicting claims and interests of the two 
classes was too often ignored. There were scales over the eyes 
of commonly clear-sighted men when they came to look at 
this question in the face, and therefore the " poor and humble 
villager " had a full measure of justice, pressed down and 
running over, whilst the " rich and influential Talukdar " had 
little or none. 

There are few who have not become familiar with this word 
Talukdar ; who do not know that an influential class of men so 
styled in virtue of certain rights or interests in the land, were 
dispossessed of those rights or interests and reduced to absolute 
ruin. It must be understood, however, that the proprietary 
rights of which I speak were very different from the rights of 
landed property in England. The Talukdar was little more 
than an hereditary revenue-contractor. His right was the right 
to all the just rents paid by the actual occupants, after satisfac- 
tion of the Government claims. His property was the rent 
minus the revenue of a particular estate. This Talukdari 
right, or right of collection, was distinct from the Zamindari 
right, or proprietary right in the soil. The Talukdar. who 
paid to Government the revenue of a large cluster of villages, 
had, perhaps, a proprietary right in some of these small estates ; 
perhaps, in none. The proprietary right, in most instances, 
lay with the village communities. And it was the main effort 
of the English officers, engaged in the Settlement of the North- 
West Provinces, to bring these village occupants into direct 
relations with the Government, and to receive from them the 
amount of the assessment fixed upon their several estates. 

Now it was a just and fitting thing that the rights of these 
village proprietors should be clearly defined. But it was not 
always just that the Government should enter into direct 
engagements with them and drive out the intervening Talukdar. 
The actual occupants might, in a former generation, have been 
a consequence only of a pre-existing Talukdari right, as in cases 
where cultivators had been located on waste lands by a con- 
tractor or grantee of the State ; or the Talukdar might have 
acquired his position by purchase, by favour, perhaps by fraud, 
after the location of the actual occupants ; still it was a pro- 
prietary interest, perhaps centuries old. Let us explain their 

I 2 


position as we may, these Talukdars constituted the landed 
aristocracy of the country ; they had recognised manorial rights ; 
they had, in many instances, all the dignity and power of great 
feudal barons, and, doubtless, often turned that power to bad 
account. But whether for good or for evil, in past years, we 
found them existing as a recognised institution ; and it was at 
the same time a cruel wrong and a grievous error to sweep it 
away as though it were an encumbrance and an usurpation. 

The theorv of the Settlement officers was that the village 
Zamindars bad an inalienable right in the soil, and that the 
Talukdar was little better than an upstart and an impostor. 
All the defects in his tenure were rigidly scanned ; all the 
vices of his character were violently exaggerated. He was 
written down as a fraudulent upstart and an unscrupulous 
oppressor. To oust a Talukdar was held by some young Settle- 
ment officers to be as great an achievement as to shoot a tiger ; 
and it was done, too, with just as clear a conviction of the 
benefit conferred upon the district in which the animal prowled 
and marauded. It was done honestly, conscientiously, labor- 
iously, as a deed entitling the doer to the gratitude of mankind. 
There was something thorough in it that wrung an unwilling 
admiration even from those who least approved. It was a grand 
levelling system, reducing everything to first principles and a 
delving Adam. Who was a gentleman and a Talukdar, they 
asked, when these time-honoured Village Communities were 
first established on the soil? So the Settlement Officer, in pur- 
suit of the great scheme of restitution, was fain to sweep out 
the Landed Gentry and to applaud the good thing he had 

And if one, by happy chance, was brought back bj a saving 
hand, it was a mercy and a miracle ; and the exception which 
proved the rule. The chances against him were many and 
great, for he had divers ordeals to pass through, and he seldom 
survived them all. It was the wont of many Settlement officers 
to assist the solution of knotty questions of proprietary right 
by a reference to personal character and conduct, so that when 
the claims of a great Talukdar could not be altogether ignored, 

* In sober official language, described by Lieutenant-Governor Robertson 
as "the prevailing, and perhaps excessive, readiness to reduce extensive 
properties into minute portions, and to substitute, whenever there was an 
opportunity, a village community for an individual landholder." 


it was declared that he was a rogue or a fool — perhaps an 
atrocious compound of both — and that he had forfeited, by 
oppressions and cruelties, or by neglects scarcely less cruel, all 
claim to the compassion of the State. They gave the man a 
bad name, and straightway they went out to ruin him. A 
single illustration will suffice. One of the great landholders 
thus consigned to perdition was the Rajah of Mainpuri. Of 
an old and honoured family, distinguished for loyalty and good 
service to the British Government, he was the Talukdar of a 
large estate comprising nearly two hundred villages, and was 
amongst the most influential of the landed aristocracy of that 
part of the country. The Settlement officer was one of the 
ablest and best of his class. Fulfilling the great 
promise of his youth, he afterwards attained to the * Ir - G - Edmon - 

| . , . J , t-i • • stone. 

highest post m those very rrovmces, an eminence 
from which he might serenely contemplate the fact, that the 
theory of the Dead-Level is against nature, and cannot be 
enforced without a convulsion. But, in the early days of 
which I am speaking, a great Talukdar was to him what it 
was to others of the same school ; and he represented that the 
Rajah, himself incompetent almost to the point of imbecility, 
was surrounded by agents of the worst character, who in his 
name had been guilty of all kinds of cruelty and oppression. 
Unfit as he was said to be for the management of so large an 
estate, it would, according to the prevailing creed, have been 
a righteous act to exclude him from it; but it was necessary, 
according to rule, to espy also a flaw in his tenure ; so it was 
found that he had a just proprietary right in only about a 
fourth of the two hundred villages.* It was proposed, there- 
fore, that his territorial greatness should to this extent be 
shorn down in the future Settlement, and that the bulk of the 
property should be settled with the village communities, whose 
rights, whatever they might originally have been, had lain for 
a century in abeyance. 

Above the Settlement officer, in the ascending scale of our 
Administrative Agency, was the Commissioner ; above the 
Commissioner, the Board of Revenue ; above the Board of 
Revenue, the Lieutenant-Governor. In this cluster of gra- 

* The exact number was 189, of which it was ruled that the Rajah could 
justly be recorded as proprietor only of 51. A money-compensation, in the 
shape of a percentage, was to be given him for the loss of the reat. 


duated authorities the Old and New School alternated like the 
Black and White of a chess-board. The recommendations of 
George Edmonstone were stoutly opposed by Robert Hamilton. 
The sharp, incisive logic of the Commissioner cut through the 
fallacious reasoning of the Settlement officer. " He was of 
opinion that the value of landed possessions and the import- 
ance attached to them could never be made up by a money 
allowance; that the imbecility of the Rajah, if affording a 
justification for his being relieved from the management of his 
estate, could be none for depriving his family of their inherit- 
ance ; and that it was inconsistent to denounce as oppressive 
in a native ruler the same measures of sale and dispossession 
which were adopted by our own Government towards Revenue 
defaulters."* But the Board, of which the living principle was 
Robert Bird, dissented from the views of the Commissioner, 
and upheld the levelling processes of the Settlement officer. 
Then Lieutenant-Governor Robertson appeared upon the scene, 
and the decision of the Board was flung back upon them as 
the unjust growth of a vicious, generalising system, which 
would break up every large estate in the country into minute 
fractions, and destroy the whole aristocracy of the country. 
He could not see that, on the score either of invalidity of 
tenure or of administrative incapacity, it would be just to pare 
down the Rajah's estate to one-fourth of its ancestral dimen- 
sions ; so he ruled that the settlement of the whole ought 
rightly to be made with the Talukdar.f But the vicissitudes 
of the case were not even then at an end. The opposition of 

* Despatch of Court of Directors, August 13, 1851. 

t The Lieutenant-Governor recorded his opinion, that no proof of the 
Rajah's mismanagement, such as could justify his exclusion, had been adduced ; 
that the evidence in support of the proprietary claims of the Zamindars was 
insufficient and inconclusive ; that if the Zamindars ever possessed the rights 
attributed to them, they had not been in the active enjoyment of them for 
upwards of a century, while the Rajah's claims had been admitted for more 
than four generations; that, admitting the inconvenience which might some- 
times result from the recognition of the superior malgoosar, it would not be 
reconcilable with good feeling or justice to deal as the Board proposed to do, 
with one found in actual and long-acknowledged possession. He condemned 
the practice of deciding cases of this nature on one invariable and generalising 
principle ; stated that he could discover no sufficient reason for excluding the 
Rajah of Mainpuri from the management of any of the villages composing the 
Taluk of Minchanah ; and finally withheld his confirmation of the settlement 
concluded with the village Zamindars. directing the engagements to betakeo 
from the Talukdar." — Despatch of Court of Directors, August 13, 1851. 


the Board caused some delay in the issue of the formal instruc- 
tions of Government for the recognition of the Talukdar, and 
before the settlement had been made with the Eajah, Kobertson 
had resigned his post to another. That other was 
a man of the same school, with no greater passion £* r> George 
than his predecessor for the subversion of the landed 
gentry ; but sickness rendered his tenure of office too brief, 
and, before the close of the year, he was succeeded 
by one whose name is not to be mentioned without 
respect — the honoured son of an honoured father — the much- 
praised, much-lamented Thomason. He was as , r mi . 

x -, , , .-, t t t Hr. Thomason. 

earnest and as honest as the men who had gone 
before him ; but his strong and sincere convictions lay all in 
the other way. He was one of the chief teachers in the New 
School, and so strong was his faith in its doctrines that he 
regarded, with feelings akin to wondering compassion, as men 
whom God had given over to a strong delusion that they 
should believe a lie, all who still cherished the opinions which 
he had done so much to explode.* Supreme in the North- 
West Provinces, he found the case of the Mainpuri Eajah 
still formally before the Government. No final orders had 
been issued, so he issued them. The besom of the Settlement 
swept the great Talukdar out of three-fourths of the estate, and 
the village proprietors were left to engage with Government 
for all the rest in his stead. 

It is admitted now, even by men who were personally con- 
cerned in this great work of the Settlement of Northern India, 
that it involved a grave political error. It was, undoubtedly, 
to convert into bitter enemies those whom sound policy would 
have made the friends and supporters of the State. Men of the 
Old School had seen plainly from the first that by these measures 

* See, for example, his reflections on the contumacy of Mr. Boulderson, of 
whom Mr. Thomason says : " With much honesty of principle he is possessed 
of a constitution of mind which prevents him from readily adopting the prin- 
ciples of others, or acting upon their rules. A great part of his Indian career 
has heeu passed in opposition to the prevailing maxims of the day, and he 
finds himself conscientiously adverse to what has been done." With respect to 
these prevailing maxims, Mr. F. H. Robinson, of the Civil Service, in a pamphlet 
published in 1855, quotes the significant observation of an old Rasaldar of 
Gardener's Horse, who said to him : " No doubt the wisdom of the new gentle- 
men had shown them the folly and the ignorance of the gentlemen of the old 
time, on whom it pleased God, nevertheless, to bestow the government of 


we were sowing broadcast the seeds of future trouble. Fore- 
most among these was the veteran Director Tucker, who had 
been engaged in the first settlement of the Ceded and Con- 
quered Provinces, and who knew as well as any man what 
rights existed on our original assumption of the government of 
those territories. " The way to conciliate the pea- 
santry," he wrote, " or to improve their condition, 
is not, I think, by dissolving the connection between them and 
the superior Talukdars, or village Zamindars. The one we 
have, I fear, entirely displaced ; but we cannot destroy the 
memory of their past or the consciousness of their present state. 
They were once prosperous, and their descendants must feel 
that they are no longer so. They are silent, because the natives 
of India are accustomed to endure and to submit to the will of 
their rulers ; but if an enemy appear on our Western frontier, 
or if an insurrection unhappily take place, we shall find these 
Talukdars, I apprehend, in the adverse ranks, and their ryots 
and retainers ranged under the same standard." And a quarter 
of a century later, one who had received the traditions of this 
school unbroken from Thomas Campbell Eobertson, at whose feet 
he had sat, wrote that he had long been pointing out that, 
" although the old families were being displaced fast, we could 
not destroy the memory of the past, or dissolve the ancient 
connexion between them and their people ; and said distinctly 
that, in the event of any insurrection occurring, we should find 
this great and influential body, through whom we can alone 
hope to keep under and control the rural masses, ranged against 
us on the side of the enemy, with their hereditary followers and 
retainers rallying around them, in spite of our attempts to 
separate their interests." " My warnings," he added, " were 
unheeded, and I was treated as an alarmist, who, having hitherto 
served only in the political department of the State, and being 
totally inexperienced in Revenue matters, could give no sound 
opinion on the subject." * 

Warnings of this kind were, indeed, habitually disregarded ; 
Treatment of the and the system, harsh in itself, was carried out, in 
native gentry. some cases harshly and uncompromisingly, almost 
indeed as though there were a pleasure in doing it. It is true 

* Personal Adventures during the Indian Rebellion. By William Ed- 
wards, B.C.S., Judge of Banaras, and late Magistrate and Collector of 
Badaon, in Rokilkhand. 

1835-46.] RENT-FREE TENURES. 121 

that men deprived of their vested interests in great estates 
were recommended for money-payments direct from the Trea- 
sury ; but this was no compensation for the loss of the land, 
with all the dignity derived from manorial rights and baronial 
privileges, and it was sometimes felt to be an insult. It was 
not even the fashion in those days to treat the Native Gentry 
with personal courtesy and conciliation. Some of the great 
masters of the school, men of the highest probity and benevo- 
lence, are said to have failed in this with a great failure, as 
lamentable as it was surprising. " In the matter of discourtesy 
to the native gentry," wrote Colonel Sleeman to John Colvin, 
" I can only say that Eobert Mertins Bird insulted them, when- 
ever he had an opportunity of doing so ; and that Mr. T ho mason 
was too apt to imitate him in this as iu other things. Of 
course their example was followed by too many of their 
followers and admirers." * 

"" And whilst all this was going on, there was another process in 
active operation by which the position of the privi- 
leged classes was still further reduced. There is not 
one of the many difficulties, which the acquisition of a 
new country entails upon us, more serious than that which arises 
from the multiplicity of privileges and prescriptions, territorial, 
and official, which, undetermined by any fixed principle, have 
existed under the Native Government which we have supplanted. 
Even at the outset of our administrative career it is difficult to 
deal with these irregular claims, but the difficulty is multiplied 
tenfold by delay. The action of our Government in all such 
cases should be prompt and unvarying. Justice or Injustice 
should be quick in its operation and equal in its effects. Ac- 
customed to revolutions of empire and mutations of fortune, the 
native mind readily comprehends the idea of confiscation as the 
immediate result of conquest. Mercy and forbearance at such 
time are not expected, and are little understood. The descent 
of the strong hand of the conqueror upon all existing rights 
and privileges is looked for with a feeling of submission to 
inevitable fate ; and at such a time no one wonders, scarcely 
any one complains, when the acts of a former Government 
are ignored, and its gifts are violently resumed. 


* See Correspondence annexed to published edition of Sleeman's Oudh 
Diary. I have been told by men whose authority is entitled to respect, that 
the statement is to be received with caution. 


Under former Governments, and, indeed, in the earlier days 
of our own, there had been large alienations of revenue in favour 
of persons who had rendered good service to the State, or had 
otherwise acquired the favour of the rulers of the land. These 
rent-free tenures were of many different kinds. A volume 
might be filled with an account of them. Some were burdened 
with conditions ; some were not. Some were personal life- 
grants ; some were hereditary and perpetual. Some were of 
old standing ; some were of recent origin. Some had been 
fairly earned or justly acquired ; others were the vile growth of 
fraud and corruption. They varied no less in the circumstances 
of their acquisition than in their intrinsic character and inhe- 
rent conditions. But anyhow they were for some time a part 
of our system, and had come to be regarded as the rights of the 
occupants. Every year which saw men in undisturbed posses- 
sion seemed to strengthen those rights. An inquiry, at the 
outset of our career of administration, into the validity of all 
such tenures would have been an intelligible proceeding. 
Doubtless, indeed, it was expected. But years passed, and the 
danger seemed to have passed with them. Nay, more, the in- 
activity, seemingly the indifference, of the British Government, 
with respect to those whom we found in possession, emboldened 
others to fabricate similar rights, and to lay claim to immunities 
which they had never enjoyed under their native masters. 
In Bengal this manufacture of rent-free tenures was carried 
on to an extent that largely diminished the legiti- 
mate revenue of the country. A very considerable 
portion of these tenures was the growth of the transition-period 
immediately before and immediately after our assumption of the 
Diwani, or Bevenue- Administration, of Bengal, Bihar, and Orisa. 
At the time of the great Permanent Settlement 
the rent-free holders were called upon to register 
their claims to exemption from the payment of the Govern- 
ment dues, and their grounds of exemption ; and as they still 
remained in possession they believed that their rights and privi- 
leges had been confirmed to them. The Permanent Settlement, 
indeed, was held to be the Magna Charta of the privileged 
classes ; and for more than forty years men rejoiced in their 
freeholds, undisturbed by any thoughts of invalidity of title or 
insecurity of tenure. 

But after this lapse of years, when Fraud itself 
operation. might reasonably have pleaded a statute of limita- 


tions, the English revenue- officer awoke to a sense of the wrongs 
endured by his Government. So much revenue alienated : so 
many worthless sinecurists living in indolent contentment at 
the cost of the State, enjoying vast privileges and immunities, 
to the injury of the great mass of the People. Surely it was a 
scandal and a reproach ! Then well-read, clever secretaries, 
with a turn for historical illustration, discovered a parallel 
between this grievous state of things in Bengal and that which 
preceded the great revolution in France, when the privileges of 
the old nobility pressed out the very life of the nation, until 
the day of reckoning and retribution came, with a more dire 
tyranny of its own. Viewed in this light, it was held to be an 
imperative duty to Colbertise the Lakhirajdars of the Lower 
Provinces.* So the resumption-officer was let loose upon the 
land. Titles were called for ; proofs of validity were to be estab- 
lished, to the satisfaction of the Government functionary. But 
in families, which seldom last a generation without seeing their 
houses burnt down, and in a climate which during some months 
of the year is made up of incessant rains, and during others of 
steamy exhalations — where the devouring damp, and the still 
more devouring insect, consume all kinds of perishable property, 
even in stout-walled houses, it would have been strange if 
genuine documentary evidence had been forthcoming at the 
right time. It was an awful thing, after so many years of un- 
disturbed possession, to be called upon to establish proofs, when 
the only proof was actual incumbenc}'. A reign of terror then 
commenced. And if, when thus threatened, the weak Bengali 
had not sometimes betaken himself in self-defence to the ready 
weapons of forgery, he must have changed his nature under 
the influence of his fears. That what ensued may properly be 
described as wholesale confiscation is not to be doubted. Expert 

* " In a memoir of the Great Colbert I read the following words, which 
are exactly descriptive of the nature of the pretensions of the great mass of 
the Lakhirajdars, and of the present measures of the Government: 'Under 
the pernicious system which exempted the nobility from payment of direct 
taxes, a great number of persons had fraudulently assumed titles and claimed 
rank, while another class had obtained immunity from taxation by the 
prostitution of Court favour, or the abuse of official privileges. These cases 
Colbert caused to be investigated, and those who failed in making out a 
legal claim to immunity were compelled to pay their share of the public 
burdens, to the relief of the labouring classes, on whom nearly the whole 
weight of taxation fell.' " — See Letters of Gauntlet, addressed to the Calcutta 
Papers of 1838. 


young revenue-officers settled scores of cases in a day ; and 
families, who had held possession of inherited estates for long 
years, and never doubted the security of their tenure, found 
themselves suddenly deprived of their freeholds and compelled 
to pay or to go. That the State had been largely defrauded, at 
some time or other, is more than probable. Many, it is admitted, 
were in possession who had originally no good title to the 
exemption they enjoyed. But many also, whose titles were 
originally valid, could produce no satisfactory evidence of their 
validity : so the fraudulent usurper and the rightful possessor 
were involved in one common ruin. 

— The success of these operations was loudly vaunted at the 
time. A social revolution had been accomplished, to the mani- 
fest advantage of the State, and at no cost, it was said, of 
popular discontent. The Bengali is proverbially timid, patient, 
and long-suffering. But there were far-seeing men who said, 
even at that time, that though a strong Government might 
do this with impunity in those lower provinces, they must 
beware how they attempt similar spoliation in other parts of 
India, especially in those from which the Native Army was 
recruited. If you do, it was prophetically said, you will some 
day find yourselves holding India only with European troops. 
The probability of alienating by such measures the loyalty of 
the military classes was earnestly discussed in the European 
journals of Calcutta ; * and it was said, by those who defended 

* The following, written a quarter of a century ago, affords a curious 
glimpse of the apprehensions even then entertained by far-seeing men : 
" We would just hint by the way to those who have planned this very 
extraordinary attack upon vested rights, that the Sipahis are almost all 
landholders, many of them Brahmans, whose families are supported by the 
charitable foundations which it is now sought to confiscate and destroy. 
The alarm has not yet, we believe, spread to the Army, but it has not been 
without its causes of complaints; and we would very calmly and respectfully 
put it to our rulers, whether it is wise or prudent to run the risk to which 
this Resumption measure would sooner or later infallibly lead. The native 
soldier has long been in the habit of placing implicit reliance upon British 
faith and honour ; but let the charm once be broken, let the confiscation of 
rent-free land spread to those provinces out of which our Army is recruited, 
and the consequences may be that we shall very soon have to trust for our 
security to British troops alone. The Government may then learn rather 
late that revenue is not the only thing needful, and that their financial 
arithmetic, instead of making twice two equal to one, as Swift says was the 
case in Ireland, may end by extracting from the same process of multiplica- 
tion just nothing at all." — Englishman, November 2, 1838. 


the measure, that it was not intended to extend these resump- 
tion operations to other parts of the country. But scarcely any 
part of the country escaped ; scarcely any race of men, holding 
rent-free estates of any kind, felt secure in the possession of 
rights and privileges which they had enjoyed under Mughul 
and Maratha rule, and had believed that they could still 
enjoy under the Raj of the Christian ruler. 

Jn the North- West Provinces it was part of the duty of 
the Settlement officer to inquire into rent-free 
tenures, and to resume or to release from assessment p r ^incl s est 
the lands thus held. The feelings with which the 
task imposed upon him was regarded varied with the character 
and the opinions of the functionary thus employed ; but whilst 
those who were disposed to look compassionately upon doubtful 
claims, or believed that it would be sound policy to leave men 
in undisturbed possession even of what might have been in the 
first instance unrighteously acquired, were few, the disciples of 
Bird and Thomason, who viewed all such alienations of revenue 
as unmixed evils, and considered that any respect shown to 
men who were described as " drones who do no good in the 
public hive " was an injury done to the tax-paying community 
at large, were many and powerful, and left their impression on 
the land. Eejoicing in the great principle of the Dead-Level, 
the Board commonly supported the views of the resumptionist ; 
and but for the intervention of Mr. Robertson, the Lieutenant- 
Governor, there would scarcely, at the end of the Settlement 
operations, have been a rent-free tenure in the land. There 
was sometimes a show of justice on the side of resumption, for 
the immunity had been granted, in the first instance, as pay- 
ment for service no longer demanded, or what had been 
originally merely a life-grant had assumed the character of an 
hereditary assignment. Perhaps there was sometimes more 
than suspicion that in unsettled times, when there was a sort 
of scramble for empire, privileges of this kind had been fabri- 
cated or usurped; but in other instances strong proofs of 
validity were ignored, and it has been freely stated, even by 
men of their own order, that these earnest-minded civilians 
" rejected royal firmans and other authentic documents," and 
brought upon the great rent-roll of the Company lands which 
had been for many generations free from assessment. Nay, 
even the highest authority, in the great Settlement epoch, 
declared that " the Settlement officer swept up, without inquiry, 


every patch of unregistered land ; even those exempted by a 
subsequent order, which did not come out until five-sixths of 
the tenures had been resumed." In one district, that of Farru- 
khabad, " the obligations of a treaty and the direct orders of 
Government were but lightly dealt with ; and in all, a total 
disregard was evinced for the acts even of such men as Warren 
Hastings and Lord Lake." * In every case what was done was 
done conscientiously, in the assured belief that it was for the 
general good of the people ; but the very knowledge that was 
most vaunted, a knowledge of the institutions and the temper 
of the natives, was that which they most lacked. They were 
wrecked upon the dangerous coast of Little Learning. 

There were, however, it has been said, some men engaged in 
those great Settlement operations who were not smitten with 
this unappeasable earth-hunger, and who took altogether an- 
other view both of the duty and of the policy of the State. 
Mr. Mansel, of whose eager desire, so honourably evinced at a 
later period, to uphold the Native States of India I have already 
spoken, was the principal exponent of these exceptional opin- 
ions. " If it be of importance," he wrote, in his Report on the 
Settlement of the Agra District, "to conciliate the affections of 
the people, as well as to govern by the action of naked penal 
laws ; if it be important that the natural tendency of every 
part of native society in these provinces, to sink into one 
wretched level of poverty and ignorance, should, as a principle, 
be checked as far as possible by the acts of Government ; if it 
be important that the pride of ancestry and nobility, the valour 
of past times, and the national character of a country, should be 
cherished in recollection, as ennobling feelings to the human 
mind, I know of no act to which I could point with more 
satisfaction, as a zealous servant of Government, than the 
generous manner in which the restoration of the family of the 
Badawar Rajah to rank and fortune was made by the Lieuten- 
ant-Governor of Agra ; and I cannot refrain from allowing 
myself to echo, for the inhabitants of this part of the country, 
that feeling, in a report of necessity, largely connected with the 
welfare and happiness of the district of Agra." Mr. Robert-on 
had granted the Badawar Jaghir to the adopted son of the 
deceased Rajah, and it was the recognition of this adoption 

* Minute of Mr. Robertson, Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West 
Provinces, quoted in Dispatch of the Court of Directors, August 13, 1851. 


which so rejoiced the heart of the sympathising Settlement 

As the events of which I am about to write occurred, for the 
most part, in Northern India, it is to the disturbing causes in 
that part of the country that the introductory section of this 
book is mainly devoted. But before it passes altogether away 
from the subject of Resumption, something should be said about 
the operations of that great confiscatory Tribunal known as the 
Inam Commission of Bombay. This was but the 
supplement of a series of measures, of which it Theinam 

rx , - , , .. t , .n » Commission of 

would take a long time to write in detail. A great Bombay, 
part of the territory, now constituting the Presidency 
of Bombay, was in 1817 conquered from the Peshwa. With 
conquest came the old difficulty, of which I have spoken * — 
the difficulty of dealing with the privileges and prescriptions, 
the vested interests of all kinds, territorial and official, derived 
from the Maratha Government. As in Bengal and in the 
North- Western Provinces, these difficulties were greatly aggra- 
vated by delay. Had we instituted a searching inquiry at once, 
and resumed every doubtful tenure ; had we cancelled even the 
undoubted grants of former governments, and suddenly annulled 
all existing privileges, such proceedings in the eyes of the 
people would have been the intelligible tyranny of the con- 
queror, and, at all events, in accordance with the custom of the 
country. But our very desire to deal justly and generously 
with these privileged classes generated delayed and unequal 
action. At different times, and in different parts of Western 
India, these old alienations of Eevenue were dealt with after 
different fashions ; and it was a source of bitter discontent that, 
under like circumstances, claims were settled by Government 
with far greater rigour in one part of the country than in 

Years passed, various regulations were framed, for the most 
part of restricted operation ; and still, after the country had 
been for more than a third of a century under British rule, the 
great question of alienated revenue had only been partially 
adjusted. So in 1852 an Act was passed, which empowered a 
little body of English officers, principally of the military pro- 
fession — men, it was truly said, " not well versed in the prin- 
ciples of law, and wholly unpractised in the conduct of judicial 

* Ante, page 121. 


inquiries " — to exercise arbitrary jurisdiction over thousands of 
estates, many of them held by men of high family, proud of their 
lineage, proud of their ancestral privileges, who had won what 
they held by the sword, and had no thought by any other means 
of maintaining possession. In the Southern Maratha country 
there were large numbers of these Jaghirdars, who had never 
troubled themselves about title-deeds, who knew nothing about 
rules of evidence, and who had believed that long years of 
possession were more cogent than any intricacies of law. If they 
had ever held written proofs of the validity of their tenures, 
they had seldom been so provident as to preserve them. But, 
perhaps, they had never had better proof than the memory of 
a fierce contest, in the great gardi-ki-waJct, or time of trouble, 
which had preluded the dissolution of the Maratha power in 
Western India, and placed the white man on the Throne of the 
Peshwa.* Year after year had passed, one generation had 
followed another in undisturbed possession, and the great seal 
of Time stood them in stead of the elaborate technicalities of the 
Conveyancer. But the Inam Commission was established. 
The fame of it went abroad throughout the Southern Maratha 
country. From one village to another passed the appalling 
news that the Commissioner had appeared, had called for titles 
that could not be produced, and that nothing but a general 
confiscation of property was likely to result from the operations 
of this mysterious Tribunal. " Each day," it has been said, 
" produced its list of victims ; and the good fortunes of those 
who escaped but added to the pangs of the crowd who came 
forth from the shearing-house shorn to the skin, unable to 

* See the admirably-written memorial of Mr. G. B. Seton-Karr : " Chiefs, 
who had won their estates by the sword, had not been careful to fence them 
in with a paper barrier, which they felt the next successful adventurer wonld 
sweep away as unceremoniously as themselves. Instead of parchments, they 
transmitted arms and retainers, with whose aid they had learnt to consider 
mere titles superfluous, as without it they were contemptible. In other in- 
stances, men of local influence and energetic character having grasped at the 
lands which lay within their reach in the general scramble which preceded 
the downfall of the Peshwd's Government, had transmitted their acquisitions 
to the children, fortified by no better titles than entries in the village account- 
books, which a closer examination showed to be recent or spurious. Housed 
from the dreams of thirty years, these proprietors of precarious title, or of no 
title at all, found themselves suddenly brought face to face with an apparatus, 
which, at successive strokes, peeled away their possessions with the harsh, 
precision of the planing machine." 


work, ashamed to beg, condemned to penury." * The titles of 
no less than thirty -five thousand estates, great and small, were 
called for by the Commission, and during the first 1852 _ 57 
five years of its operations, three-fifths of them were 

Whilst the operations of the Eevenue Department were thus 
spreading alarm among the privileged classes in all 
parts of the country, the Judicial Department was Pj^vT of 
doing its duty as a serviceable ally in the great Courts. 
war of extermination. Many of the old landed 
proprietors were stripped to the skin by the decrees of our 
civil courts. The sale of land in satisfaction of these decrees 
was a process to which recourse was often had among a people 
inordinately addicted to litigation. We must not regard it 
altogether with English eyes ; for the Law had often nothing 
else to take. There was many a small landed proprietor whose 
family might have been established for centuries on a particular 
estate, with much pride of birth and affection for his ancestral 
lands, but possessing movable goods and chattels not worth 
more than a few rupees. He might have owned a pair of small 
bullocks and a rude country cart consisting of two wheels and 
a few bamboos, but beyond such aids to busbandrj' as these, he 
had nothing but a drinking-vessel, a few cooking-pots, and the 
blankets which kept the dews off at night. Justice in his case 
might not be satisfied without a surrender of his interests in 
the land, which constituted the main portion of his wealth.^ 
So a large number of estates every year were put iip to sale, 
under the decrees of the courts, in satisfaction of debts some- 
times only of a few shillings, and bought by new men, perhaps 
from different parts of the country, not improbably the agents 

* Memorial of G. B. Setou-Karr. 

t Ibid. 

X I have stated here the principle upon -which the law was based. But I 
believe that in many cases no pains were taken to ascertain in the first instance 
what were the movable goods of the debtor. Recourse was had to the register 
of landed property, even when the debt amounted to no more than four or 
five rupees. " I have seen," says an officer of the Bengal Civil Service, in a 
Memorandum before me, "estates put up for sale for four rupees (eight 
shillings), which appears to me just the same as if an English grocer, getting 
a decree in a small-debt court against a squire for half a sovereign, put up 
his estate in Cheshire for the same, instead of realising the debt by the sale 
of his silk umbrella." 

VOL. I. K 


or representatives of astute native functionaries from the lower 
provinces ; whilst the ancient proprietors, still rooted to the 
soil, shrank into small farmers or under-tenants on their old 
ancestral domains. Thus a revolution of landed property was 
gradually brought about by means of English application, 
which, acting coincidentally with the other agencies of which I 
have spoken, swelled the number of the disaffected, dangerous 
classes, who traced their downfall to the operations of British 
rule, and sullenly bided their time for the recovery of what 
they had lost, in some new revolutionary epoch. 

This general system of depression, which, thus assuming- 
many different forms and exercising itself in many different ways, 
struck with uniform precision at the most cherished privileges 
of the upper classes, had not its origin in the fertile brain of 
Lord Dalhousie. He only confirmed and extended it ; confirmed 
it in our older provinces, and extended it to those which he had 
himself acquired.. In the Panjab it sorely disquieted some few 
of our more chivalrous English officers connected with the Admin- 
istration,* and it was carried into the Oudh dominions, as will 
hereafter be shown, with a recklessness which in time brought 
down upon us a terrible retribution. Every new acquisition of 
territory made the matter much worse. Not merely because 
the privileged classes were in those territories struck down, but 
because the extension of the British Eaj gradually so contracted 
the area on which men of high social position, expelled by our 
system from the Company's provinces, could find profitable and 
honourable employment, that it seemed as though every outlet 
for native enterprise and ambition were about to be closed 
against them. It was this, indeed, that made the great dif- 
ference between resumptions of rent-free estates under the 
Native Governments and under our own. It has been said that 
under the former there was no security of tenure ; and it is 

* Sir Herbert EJwardes, in a Memorandum quoted by Mr. Charles Raikes 
in his graphic "Notes of the Revolt of the North-West Provinces of India," 
says of Arthur Cocks, that he " imbibed Sir Henry Lawrence's feelings, and 
became greatly attached to the chiefs and people. He hardly stayed a year 
after annexation, and left the Panjab because he could not bear to see the 
fallen state of the old officials and Sirdars.'' Of Henry Lawrence himself, 
Mr. Raikes says : " He fought every losing battle for the old chiefs and 
Jaghirdars with entire disregard for his own interest, and at last left the 
Panjab, to use Colonel Edwardes's words, dented all over with defeat* and 
disappointments, honourable scars in the eyes of the bystanders." 

1836-56.] BRAHMANISM. 131 

true that the Native Princes did not consider themselves bound 
to maintain the grants of their predecessors, and often arbitrarily 
resumed them. But the door of honourable and lucrative 
employment was not closed against the sufferers. All the great 
offices of the State, civil and military, were open to the children 
of the soil. But it was not so in our British territories. There 
the dispossessed holder, no longer suffered to be an unprofitable 
drone, was not permitted to take a place among the working bees 
of the hive. And what place was there left for him, in which 
he could serve under other masters ? We had no room for him 
under us, and we left no place for him away from us. And so 
we made dangerous enemies of a large number of influential 
persons, amongst whom were not only many nobles of royal 
or princely descent, many military chiefs, with large bodies of 
retainers, and many ancient landholders for whom a strong 
feudal veneration still remained among the agricultural classes, 
but numbers of the Brahmanical, or priestly order, who had 
been supported by the alienated revenue which we resumed, and 
who turned the power which they exercised over the minds of 
others to fatal account in fomenting popular discontent, and 
instilling into the minds of the people the poison of religious 

Other measures were in operation at the same time, the ten- 
dency of which was to disturb the minds and to 
inflame the hatred of the Priesthood. It seemed as J b e d Priest " 
though a great flood of innovation were about to 
sweep away all their powers and their privileges. The pale- 
faced Christian knight, with the great Excalibar of Truth in 
his hand, was cleaving right through all the most cherished 
fictions and superstitions of Brahmanism. A new generation 
was springing up, without faith, without veneration ; an in- 
quiring, doubting, reasoning race, not to be satisfied with 
absurd doctrines or captivated by grotesque fables. The 
literature of Bacon and Milton was exciting a new appetite for 
Truth and Beauty ; and the exact sciences of the West, with 
their clear, demonstrable facts and inevitable deductions, were 
putting to shame the physical errors of Hinduism. A spirit of 
inquiry had been excited, and it was little likely ever to be 
allayed. It was plain that the inquirers were exaltiug the 
Professor above the Pandit, and that the new teacher was fast 
displacing the old. 

it 2 


Rightly to understand the stake for which the Brahman was 
playing, and with the loss of which he was now threatened, the 
reader must keep before him the fact that Brahmanism is the 
most monstrous system of interference and oppression that the 
world has ever yet seen, and that it could be maintained only by 
ignorance and superstition of the grossest kind. The people 
had been taught to believe that in all the daily concerns of life 
Brahmanical ministrations were essential to worldly success. 
The Deity, it was believed, could be propitiated only by money- 
payments to this favoured race of holy men. " Every form and 
ceremony of religion," it has been said ; " all the public festi- 
vals ; all the accidents and concerns of life ; the revolutions of 
the heavenly bodies ; the superstitious fears of the people ; births, 
sicknesses, marriages, misfortunes ; death ; a future state — have 
all been seized as sources of revenue to the Brahmans." " The 
farmer does not reap his harvest without paying a Brahman 
to perform some ceremony ; a tradesman cannot begin business 
without a fee to a Brahman ; a fisherman cannot build a 
new boat, nor begin to fish in a spot which he has farmed, 
without a ceremony and a fee."* " The Brahman," says another 
and more recent writer, " does not only stand in a hierarchical, 
but also in the highest aristocratical position ; and he has an 
authoritative voice in all pursuits of industry. All processes 
in other arts, as well as agriculture, are supposed to have been 
prescribed and imparted through the Brahmans. Every newly- 
commenced process of business, every new machine, or even re- 
pair of an old one, has to go through the ceremony of ' pujah,' 
with a feeing of the Brahman."f And as the Brahman was 
thus the controller of all the ordinary business concerns of his 
countrymen, so also was he the depositary of all the learning of 
the country, and the regulator of all the intellectual pursuits of 
the people. There was, indeed, no such thing among them as 
purely secular education. " It is a marked and peculiar feature 
in the character of Hinduism," says another writer, himself by 
birth a Hindu, " that instead of confining itself within the 
proper and lawful bounds prescribed to every theological 
system, it interferes with and treats of every department of 
secular knowledge which human genius has ever invented ; so 

* Ward on the Hindus. 

t Jeffreys on the " British Army in India," Appendix, in which there is 
much interesting and valuable matter- 


that grammar, geography, physics, law, medicine, metaphysics, 
&c, do each form as essential a part of Hinduism as any reli- 
gious topic with which it is concerned. ... In their religious 
works they have treated of all the branches of secular know- 
ledge known among them, in a regular, systematic manner ; and 
have given them out to the world in a tone of absolute autho- 
rity from which there could be no appeal."* But the English 
had established a Court of Appeal of the highest order, and 
Brahmanism was being continually cast in it. In a word, the 
whole hierarchy of India saw their power, their privileges, and 
their perquisites rapidly crumbling away from them, and they 
girded themselves up to arrest the devastation. 

All this had been going on for years; but the progress of 
enlightenment had been too slow, and its manifestations too 
little obtrusive, greatly to alarm the sacerdotal mind. As long 
as the receptacles of this new wisdom were merely a few clever 
boys in the great towns, and the manhood of the nation was 
still saturated and sodden with the old superstition, Brahmanism 
might yet flourish. But when these boys grew up in time to be 
heads of families, rejoicing in what they called their freedom 
from prejudice, laughing to scorn their ancestral faith as a 
bundle of old wives' fables, eating meat and drinking wine, and 
assuming some at least of the distinguishing articles of Chris- 
tian apparel, it was clear that a very serious peril was beginning 
to threaten the ascendency of the Priesthood. They saw that a 
reformation of this kind, once commenced, would work its way 
in time through all the strata of society. They saw that, as 
new provinces were one after another brought under British 
rule, the new light must diffuse itself more and more, until 
there would scarcely be a place for Hinduism to lurk un- 
molested. And some at least, confounding cause and effect, 
began to argue, that all this annexation and absorption was 
brought about for the express purpose of overthrowing the 
ancient faiths of the country, and establishing a new religion in 
their place. 

Every monstrous lie exploded, every abominable practice 
suppressed, was a blow struck at the Priesthood ; . 

for all these monstrosities and abominations had 
their root in Hinduism, and could not be eradicated without 
sore disturbance and confusion of the soil. The murder of 

* Calcutta Review, vol. xi. Article : " Physical Errors of Hinduism." 


women on the funeral pile, the murder of little children in 
the Zenana, the murder of the sick and the aged on the banks 
of the river, the murder of human victims, reared and fattened 
for the sacrifice, were all religious institutions, from which the 
Priesthood derived either profit, power, or both. Nay, even the 
wholesale strangling of unsuspecting travellers was sanctified 
and ceremonialised by religion. Now all these cruel rites had 
been suppressed, and, what was still worse in the eyes of the 
Brahmans, the foul superstitions which nurtured them were 
fast disappearing from the land. Authority might declare their 
wickedness, and still they might exist as part and parcel of the 
faith of the people. But when Beason demonstrated their ab- 
surdity, and struck conviction into the very heart of the nation, 
there was an end of both the folly and the crime. The Law 
might do much, but Education would assuredly do much more 
to sweep away all these time-honoured superstitions. Educa- 
tion, pure and simple in its secularity, was quite enough in 
itself to hew down this dense jungle of Hinduism ; but when 
it was seen that the functions of the English schoolmaster and 
of the Christian priest were often united in the same person, 
and that high officers of the State were present at examinations 
conducted by chaplains or missionaries, a fear arose lest even 
secular education might be the mask of proselytism, and so the 
Brahmans began to alarm the minds of the elder members of the 
Hindu community, who abstained, under priestly influence, 
from openly countenancing what they had not the energy 
boldly to resist.* 

-- And every year the danger increased. Every year were 
there manifestations of a continually increasing desire to eman- 
cipate the natives of India from the gross superstitions which 
enchained them. One common feeling moved alike the English 
Government and the English community. In other matters of 
State-policy there might be essential changes, but in this there 
was no change. One Governor might replace another, but only 
to evince an increased hostility to the great Baal of Hinduism. 
And in no man was there less regard for time-honoured abomi- 
nations and venerable absurdities — in no man did the zeal of 

* The English journalists sometimes remarked in their reports of these 
school-examinations upon the absence of the native gentry — e.g. : "We cannot 
help expressing great surprise at the absence of natives of influence."— 
Bengal Hurkaru, March 14, 1S53. 


iconoclasm work more mightily than in Lord Dalhousie. During 
no former administration had the vested interests of Brahmanism 
in moral and material error been more ruthlessly assailed. There 
was nothing systematic in all this. Almost, indeed, might it bo 
said that it was unconscious. It was simply the manifestation 
of such love as any clear-sighted, strong-headed man may be 
supposed to have for truth above error, for intelligent progress 
above ignorant stagnation. From love of this kind, from the 
assured conviction that it was equally humane and politic to 
substitute the strength and justice of British administration for 
what he regarded as the effete tyrannies of the East, had 
emanated the annexations which had distinguished his rule. 
And as he desired for the good of the people to extend the 
territorial rule of Great Britain, so he was eager also to extend 
her moral rule, and to make those people subject to the powers 
of light rather than of darkness. And so he strove mightily to 
extend among them the blessings of European civilisation, and 
the Priesthood stood aghast at the sight of the new things, moral 
and material, by which they were threatened. 

Many and portentous were these menaces. Not only was 
Government Education, in a more systematised and portentous 
shape than before, rapidly extending its network over the whole 
male population of the country, but even the fastnesses of the 
female apartments were not secure against the intrusion of the 
new learning and new philosophy of the West. England had 
begun to take account of its shortcomings, and among all the 
reproaches heaped upon the Company, none had been so loud or 
so general as the cry that, whilst they spent millions on War, 
they grudged hundreds for purposes of Education. So, in 
obedience to this cry, instructions had been sent out to India, 
directing larger, more comprehensive, more systematic measures 
for the instruction of the people, and authorising increased ex- 
penditure upon them. Whilst great Universities were to be 
established, under the immediate charge of the Government, 
the more humble missionary institutions were to be aided by 
grants of public money, and no effort was to be spared that 
could conduce to the spread of European knowledge. It was 
plain to the comprehension of the guardians of Eastern learning, 
that what had been done to unlock the floodgates of the West 
would soon appear to be as nothing in comparison with the 
great tide of European civilisation which was about to be 
poured out upon them. 


Most alarming of all were the endeavours made, during Lord 
Dalhousie's administration, to penetrate the Zenana 
Female with our new learning and our new customs. The 

English at the large Presidency towns began to 
systematise their efforts for the emancipation of the female mind 
from the utter ignorance which had been its birthright, and the 
wives and daughters of the white men began to aid in the work, 
cheered and encouraged by the sympathies of their sisters at 
home. For the first time, the education of Hindu and Muham- 
madan females took, during the administration of Lord Dal- 
housie, a substantial recognised shape. Before it had been 
merely a manifestation of missionary zeal addressed to the con- 
version of a few orphans and castaways. But now, if not the 
immediate work of the Government in its corporate capacity, it 
was the pet project and the especial charge of a 

Mr. Bethune. mem ^ er f ^ Government, and, on his death, passed 
into the hands of the Governor- General himself, and afterwards 
was adopted by the Company's Government. Some years before, 
the Priesthood, secure in the bigotry and intolerance of the heads 
of families, might have laughed these efforts to scorn. But now 
young men, trained under English Professors, were becoming 
fathers and masters, sensible of the great want of enlightened 
female companionship, and ill-disposed to yield obedience to the 
dogmas of the Priests. So great, indeed, was this yearning 
after something more attractive and more satisfying than the 
inanity of the Zenana, that the courtesans of the Calcutta 
Bazaars taught themselves to play on instruments, to sing songs, 
and to read poetry, that thereby they might lure from the 
dreary environments of their vapid homes the very flower of 
Young Bengal. 

About the same time the wedge of another startling in- 
novation was being driven into the very heart of 

Re-marriage Hindu Society. Among the many cruel wrongs to 

Widows! which the womanhood of the nation was subjected 
was the institution which forbade a bereaved wife 
ever to re-marry. The widow who did not burn was con- 
demned to perpetual chastity. Nay, it has been surmised that 
the burning inculcated in the old religious writings of the 
Hindus was no other than that which, centuries afterwards, the 
great Christian teacher forbade, saying that it is better to 
marry than to burn. Be this as it may, the re-marriage of Hindu 
widows was opposed both to the creeds and the customs of the 


land. It was an evil and a cruel thing itself, and the prolific 
source of other evils. Evil and cruel would it have been in any 
country and under any institutions, but where mere children 
are married, often to men advanced in years, and are left 
widows, in tender youth, when they have scarcely looked upon 
their | husbands, its cruelty is past counting. To the more en- 
lightened Hindus, trained in our English colleges and schools, 
the evils of this prohibition were so patent and so distressing, 
that they were fain to see it abrogated by law. One of their 
number wrote a clever treatise in defence of the re-marriage of 
widows, and thousands signed a petition, in which a belief was 
expressed that perpetual widowhood was not enjoined by the 
Hindu scriptures. But the orthodox party, strong in texts, 
greatly outnumbered, and, judged by the standard of Hinduism, 
greatly outargued them. The Law and the Prophets were on 
their side. It was plain that the innovation would inflict 
another deadly blow on the old Hindu law of inheritance. 
Already had dire offence been given to the orthodoxy of the 
land by the removal of those disabilities which forbade all who 
had forsaken their ancestral faith to inherit ancestral property. 
A law had been passed, declaring the abolition of " so much of 
the old law or usage as inflicted on any person forfeiture of 
rights or property, by reason of his or her renouncing, or having 
been excluded from, the communion of any religion." Against 
this the old Hindus had vehemently protested, not without 
threats, as a violation of the pledges given by the British 
Government to the natives of India ; pledges, they said, issued 
in an hour of weakness and revoked in an hour of strength.* 
But Lord Dalhousie had emphatically recorded his opinion, " that 
it is the duty of the State to keep in its own hands the right of 
regulating succession to property," and the Act had been passed. 
And now there was further authoritative interference on the 

* The Bengal Memorial said : " Your memorialists will not conceal that 
from the moment the proposed Act becomes a part of the law applicable to 
Hindus, that confidence which they hitherto felt in the paternal character of 
their British rulers will he most materially shaken. No outbreak, of course, 
is to be dreaded ; but the active spirit of fervent loyalty to their sovereign 
will be changed into sullen submission to their will, and obedience to their 
power." The Madras Memorial was couched in much stronger language. It 
denounced the measure as a direct act of tyranny, and said that the British 
Government, " treading the path of oppression," " would well deserve what it 
will assuredly obtain — the hatred and detestation of the oppressed." 


part of the State, for it was proposed to bestow equal rights of 
inheritance on the offspring of what the old-school Hindus 
declared to be an illicit, God-proscribed connection. This, how- 
ever, was but a part of the evil. Here was another step towards 
the complete emancipation of woman ; and Hindu orthodoxy 
believed, or professed to believe, that if widows were encouraged 
to marry new husbands instead of burning with the corpses of 
the old, wives would be induced to make themselves widows by 
poisoning or otherwise destroying their lords. It was appre- 
hended, too — and not altogether without reason* — that the re- 
marriage of Hindu widows would soon be followed by a blow 
struck at Hindu polygamy, especially in its worst but most 
honoured form of Kulinism ; and so the Brahmans, discomfited 
and alarmed by these innovations, past, present, and prospective, 
strove mightily to resist the tide, and to turn the torrent of 
destruction back upon their enemies, f 

Nor was it only by the innovations of moral progress that 

the hierarchy of India were alarmed and offended. 

Th f,^ ai ^y The inroads and encroachments of physical science 

andthelele- nl n . _. -,-,. . r . J . .. 

graph. were equally distasteful and disquieting. A privi- 

leged race of men, who had been held in veneration as 
the depositaries of all human knowledge, were suddenly shown 
to be as feeble and impotent as babes and sucklings. It was no 
mere verbal demonstration ; the arrogant self-assertion of the 
white man, which the Hindu Priesthood could contradict or 
explain away. There were no means of contradicting or ex- 
plaining away the railway cars, which travelled, without horses 

* See the following passage of a speech delivered by Mr. Barnes Peacock, 
in the Legislative Council, July 19, 1S56 : "There was a great distinction 
between preventing a man from doing that which his religion directed him to 
do, and preventing him from doing that which his religion merely allowed him 
to do. If a man were to say that his religion did not forbid polygamy, and 
therefore that he might marry as many wives as he pleased, when it was im- 
possible for him to carry out the contract of marriage, it would be no interfer- 
ence with his religion for the Legislature to say that the marrying of a hundred 
wives, and the subsequent desertion of them, was an injury to society, and 
therefore that it should be illegal to do so. He " (Islx. Peacock) " maintained 
that it was the duty of the Legislature, in such a case, to prevent him from 
doing that which his religion merely permitted, but did not command him 
to do." 

f The " Bill to remove all legal obstacles to the marriage of Hindu widows," 
though introduced and discussed during the administration of Lord Dalhousie, 
was not finally passed till after his retirement. It received the assent of Lord 
Canning in July, 1856. 

1848-56.] MATERIAL PROGRESS. lcJ!> 

or "bullocks, at the rate of thirty miles an hour, or the electric 
wires, which in a few minutes carried a message across the 
breadth of a whole province. 

These were facts that there was no gainsaying. He who ran 
might read. The prodigious triumphs over time and space 
achieved by these "fire-carriages" and "lightning-posts" put 
to shame the wisdom of the Brahmans, and seemed to indicate 
a command over the supernatural agencies of the Unseen World, 
such as the Pandits of the East could never attain or simulate. 
They, who for their own ends had imparted a sacred character 
to new inventions, and had taught their disciples that all im- 
provements in art and science were derived from the Deity 
through their especial intercession, and were to be inaugurated 
with religious ceremonies attended with the usual distribution 
of largesses to the priests, now found that the white men could 
make the very elements their slaves, and call to their aid 
miraculous powers undreamt of in the Brahmanical philosophy. 
Of what use was it any longer to endeavour to persuade the 
people that the new knowledge of the West was only a bundle 
of shams and impostures, when any man might see the train 
come in at a given moment, and learn at Banaras how many 
pounds of flour were sold for the rupee that morning in the 
bazaars of Dehli and Calcutta ? 

To the introduction into India of these mysterious agencies 
the Hour and the Man were alike propitious. When Lord 
Dalhousie went out to India, England was just recovering from 
the effects of that over-activity of speculation which had gene- 
rated such a disturbance of the whole financial system of the 
country. She had ceased to project lines of Railway between 
towns without Traffic, and through countries without Popula- 
tion, and had subsided, after much suffering, into a healthy 
state of reasonable enterprise, carefully estimating both her 
wants and her resources. As President of the Board of Trade, 
Dalhousie had enjoyed the best opportunities of acquainting 
himself with the principles and with the details of the great 
question of the day, at the one central point to which all infor- 
mation converged, and he had left England with the full deter- 
mination, God willing, not to leave the country of his adoption 
until he had initiated the construction of great trunk-roads of iron 
between all the great centres of Government and of Commerce, 
and had traversed, at railway speed, some at least of their first 
stages. A little while before, the idea of an Indian railway 


had, in the estimation of the greater number of English resi- 
dents, been something speculative and chimerical, encouraged 
only by visionaries and enthusiasts. A few far-seeing men, 
foremost among whom was Macdonald Stephenson, predicted 
their speedy establishment, and with the general acceptance of 
the nation ; but even after Dalhousie had put his hand to the 
work, and the Company had responded to his efforts, it was the 
more general belief that railway communication in India would 
be rather a concern of Government, useful in the extreme for 
military purposes, than a popular institution supplying a na- 
tional want. It was thought that Indolence, Avarice, and 
Superstition would keep the natives of the country from flock- 
ing to the Eailway Station. But with a keener appreciation of 
the inherent power of so demonstrable a benefit to make its 
own way, even against these moral obstructions, Dalhousie had 
full faith in the result. He was right. The people now learnt 
to estimate at its full worth the great truth that Time is Money ; 
and having so learned, they were not to be deterred from 
profiting by it by any tenderness of respect for the feelings of 
their spiritual guides. 

That the fire-carriage on the iron road was a heavy blow to 
the Brahmanical Priesthood is not to be doubted. The light- 
ning post, which sent invisible letters through the air and 
brought back answers, from incredible distances, in less time 
than an ordinary messenger could bring them from the next 
street, was a still greater marvel and a still greater disturbance. 
But it was less patent and obtrusive. The one is the natural 
complement of the other ; and Dalhousie, aided by the genius 
of O'Shaughnessy, had soon spread a network of electric wires 
across the whole length and breadth of the country. It was a 
wise thing to do ; a right thing to do ; but it was alarming and 
offensive to the Brahmanical mind. It has been said, that as 
soon as we had demonstrated that the earth is a sphere revolving 
on its axis, there was an end to the superstitions of Hinduism. 
And so there was — in argument, but not in fact. The Brah- 
manical teachers insisted that the new doctrines of Western 
civilisation were mere specious inventions, with no groundwork 
of eternal truth, and as their disciples could not bring the test 
of their senses to such inquiries as these, they succumbed to 
authority rather than to reason, or perhaps lapsed into a state 
of bewildering doubt. But material experiments, so palpable 
and portentous that they might be seen at a distance of many 

1848-56.] MATEKIAL PROGRESS. 141 

miles, convinced whilst they astounded. The most ignorant 
and unreasoning of men could see that the thing was done. 
They knew that Brahmanism had never done it. They saw 
plainly the fact, that there were wonderful things in the world 
which their own Priests could not teach them — of which, 
indeed, with all their boasted wisdom, they had never dreamt ; 
and from that time the Hindu Hierarchy lost half its power, for 
the People lost half their faith. 

But clear as was all this, and alarming as were the prospects 
thus unfolded to the Pandits, there was something c 
more than this needed to disturb the popular mind. 
Hinduism might be assailed ; Hinduism might be disproved ; 
and still men might go about their daily business without a 
fear for the future or a regret for the past. But there was 
something about which they disturbed themselves much more 
than about the abstract truths of their religion. The great 
institution of Caste was an ever-present reality. It entered 
into the commonest concerns of life. It was intelligible to the 
meanest understanding. Every man, woman, and child knew 
what a terrible thing it would be to be cast out from the com- 
munity of the brotherhood, and condemned to live apart, ab- 
horred of men and forsaken by God. If, then, the people could 
be taught that the English by some insidious means purposed 
to defile the Hindus, and to bring them all to a dead level of 
one-caste or of no-caste, a great rising of the Natives might 
sweep the Foreigners into the sea. This was an obvious line of 
policy ; but it was not a policy for all times. It needed oppor- 
tunity for its successful development. Equally patient and 
astute, the Brahman was content to bide his time rather than 
to risk anything by an inopportune demonstration. The Eng- 
lish were loud in their professions of toleration, and commonly 
cautious in their practice. Still it was only in the nature of 
things that they should some day make a false step. 

As the Brahman thus lay in wait, eager for his opportunity 
to strike, he thought he espied, perhaps in an unexpected 
quarter, a safe point of attack. It required some 
monstrous invention, very suitable to troubled times, Jii , ;^ 1 ^ ing 

-i -t • n f* 1 oy SlGIH in 

but only to be circulated with success alter the Gaols. 
popular mind, by previous excitement, had been 
prepared to receive it, to give any colour of probability to a 
report that the Government had laid a plot for the defilement 
of the whole mass of the people. But there were certain classes 


with which Government had a direct connection, and whose 
bodies and souls were in the immediate keeping of the State. 
Among these were the inmates of our gaols. As these people 
were necessarily dependent upon Government for their daily 
food, it appeared to be easy, by a well-devised system of Prison 
Discipline, either to destroy the caste of the convicts or to 
starve them to death. The old tolerant regulations allowed 
every man to cater and to cook for himself. A money-allow- 
ance was granted to him, and he turned it into food after his 
own fashion. But this system was very injurious to prison 
discipline. Men loitered over their cooking and their eating 
and made excuses to escape work. So the prisoners were 
divided into messes, according to their several castes ; rations 
were issued to them, and cooks were appointed to prepare the 
daily meals at a stated hour of the day. If the cook were of a 
lower caste than the eaters, the necessary result was the con- 
tamination of the food and loss of caste by the whole mess. 
The new system, therefore, was one likely to be misunderstood 
and easily to be misinterpreted. Here, then, was one of those 
openings which designing men were continually on the alert to 
detect, and in a fitting hour it was turned to account. Not 
merely the inmates of the gaols, but the inhabitants of the 
towns in which prisons were located, were readily made to 
believe that it was the intention of the British Government to 
destroy the caste of the prisoners, and forcibly to convert them 
to Christianity. It mattered not whether Brahman cooks had 
or had not, in the first instance, been appointed. There might 
be a Brahman cook to-day ; and a low-caste man in his place 
to-morrow. So the lie had some plausibility about it ; and it 
went abroad that this assault upon the gaol-birds was but the 
beginning of the end, and that by a variety of different means 
the religions of the country would soon be destnryed by the 
Government of the Faring-his. 

Eeports of this kind commonly appear to be of Hindu origin ; 
for they are calculated primarily to alarm the minds of the 
people on the score of the destruction of caste. But it seldom 
happens that they are not followed by some auxiliary lies 
expressly designed for Muhammadan reception. The Muham- 
madans had some especial grievances of their own. The ten- 
dency of our educational measures, and the all-pervading 
Englishism with which the country was threatened, was to 
lower the dignity of Muhammadanism, and to deprive of their 

1845-56.] MUHAMMADAN ALARMS. 143 

emoluments many influential people of that intolerant faith. 
The Maulavis were scarcely less alarmed hy our innovations than 
the Pandits. The Arabic of the one fared no better than the 
Sanskrit of the other. The use of the Persian language in our 
law courts was abolished; new tests for admission into the 
Public Service cut down, if they did not wholly destroy, their 
chances of official employment. There was a general inclina- 
tion to pare away the privileges and the perquisites of the 
principal Muhammadan seats of learning. All the religious 
endowments of the great Calcutta Madrasa were annihilated ; 
and the prevalence of the English language, English learning, 
and English law, made the Muhammadan doctors shrink into 
insignificance, whilst the resumption of rent-free tenures, which, 
in many instances, grievously affected old Musulman families, 
roused their resentments more than all the rest, and made them 
ripe for sedition. A more active, a more enterprising, and a 
more intriguing race than the Hindus, the latter knew well the 
importance of associating them in any design against the State.* 
So their animosities were stimulated, and their sympathies were 
enlisted, by a report, sedulously disseminated, to the effect that 
the British Government were about to issue an edict prohibiting 
circumcision, and compelling Muhammadan women to go abroad 

Small chance would there have been of such a lie as this find- 
ing a score of credulous Musulmans to believe it, if it had not 
been for the little grain of truth that there was in the story of 
the messing system in the gaols. The innovation had been 

* It must be admitted, however, that it is a moot question, in many 
instances, whether the first movement were made by the Hindus or the 
Muhainmadans. Good authorities sometimes incline to the latter sup- 
position. Take, for example, the following, which has reference to a sedi- 
tious movement at Patna in the cold season of 1845-46 : " From inquiries I 
have made," wrote Mr. Dampier, Superintendent of Police in the Lower Pro- 
vinces, " in every quarter, I am of opinion that the Muhammadans of these 
parts, amongst whom the resumption of the Maafi Tenures, the new educa- 
tional system, and the encouragement given to the English language, have 
produced the greatest discontent and the bitterest animosity against our 
government, finding that the enforcement of the messing system in the gaols 
had produced a considerable sensation amongst the people, were determined 
to improve the opportunity, especially as our troops were weak in numbers, 
and we were supposed to be pressed "in the North-West." Of the event to 
which this refers, more detailed mention will be found in a subsequent 
chapter of this work, in connection with the attempt then made to corrupt 
the regiments of Danapiir. 


originated some years before Lord Dalhousie appeared upon the 
scene. At first it had been introduced with a discretion signify- 
ing a full knowledge of the lurking danger : * but, as time 
advanced, one experiment followed another, and some of the old 
caution was perhaps relaxed. So in many places the prisoners 
broke into rebellion and violently resisted the proposed change. 
Eager and excited, under the influence of a common alarm, the 
townspeople cheered them on, and were ready to aid them, with 
all their might, in what they believed to be the defence of their 
religion. At Shahabad, Saran, Bihar, and Patna, there were 
serious disturbances, and at a later period, Banaras, the very 
nursery and hotbed of Hinduism, the cherished home of the 
Pandits, was saved only by prudential concessions from becom- 
ing the scene of a sanguinary outbreak. 

The experience thus gained of the extreme sensitiveness of 

the native mind, given up as it was to gross delu- 
and hhTLotah s i 0BS > does not appear to have borne the fruit of 

increased caution and forbearance. For not long 
afterwards another improvement in prison discipline again 
stirred up revolt in gaols ; and, for the same reason as before, 
the people sided with the convicts. A Hindu, or a Hinduised 
Muhammadan, is nothing without his Lotah. A Lotah is a 
metal drinking-vessel, which he religiously guards against 
defilement, and which he holds as a cherished possession when 
he has nothing else belonging to him in the world. But a brass 
vessel may be put to other uses than that of holding water. It 
may brain a magistrate,! or flatten the face of a gaoler, and truly 
it was a formidable weapon in the hands of a desperate man. 
So an attempt was made in some places to deprive the prisoners 
of their lotahs, and to substitute earthenware vessels in their 
place. Here, then, in the eyes of the people, was another 
insidious attempt to convert prison discipline into a means of 
religious persecution — another attempt covertly to reduce them 
all to one caste. So the prisoners resisted the experiment, and 

* See Circular Orders of Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Pro- 
vinces, July, 1841 : — "Government are of opinion that these measures ought 
not to be compulsorily enforced, if there be any good ground to believe that 
they will violate or offend the religious prejudices of the people, or injure the 
future prospects of those who may be subjected to temporary imprisonment." 

t My earliest recollection of India is associated with the sensation created 
in Calcutta, in April, 1834, when Mr. Richardson, magistrate of the 24 Par- 
ganahs, was killed in Alipur gaol by a blow from a brass lotah. 

!«55-56.] PRISON OUTBREAKS. 145 

in more than one place manifested their resentment with a fury 
which was shared by the population of the towns. At Arah 
the excitement was so great that the guards were ordered to fire 
upon the prisoners, and at Muzaffarpur, in Tirhut, so formidable 
was the outburst of popular indignation, that the magistrate, in 
grave official language, described it as " a furious and altogether 
unexpected outbreak on the part of the people of the town and 
district in support and sympathy with the prisoners." The 
rioters, it was said, " included almost all the inhabitants of the 
town, as well as a vast number of ryots, who declared that they 
would not go away until the lotahs were restored ; " and so 
great was the danger of the prisoners escaping, of their plunder- 
ing the Treasury and pillaging the town, before the troops 
which had been sent for could be brought up, that the civil 
authorities deemed it expedient to pacify the insurgents by 
restoring the lotahs to the people in the gaols. And this was 
not held at the time to be a sudden outburst of rash and mis- 
guided ignorance, but the deliberate work of some of the rich 
native inhabitants of the town, and some of the higher native 
functionaries of our Civil Courts. 

It was clear, indeed, that the inflammability of the native 
mind was continually increasing ; and that there were many 
influential persons, both Hindu and Muhammadan, running 
over with bitter resentments against the English, who were 
eagerly awaiting a favourable opportunity to set all these com- 
bustible materials in a blaze. The gaol-business was an experi- 
ment, and, as far as it went, a successful one. But it was not 
by an outbreak of the convict population that the overthrow of 
the English was to be accomplished. There was another class 
of men, equally under the control of the Government, whose 
corruption would far better repay the labours of the Maulavis 
and the Pandits. 




Whilst the hearts of the Aristocracy and of the Priesthood of 
the country were thus turned against the government of the 
English, there was a third great class, esteemed to be more 
powerful than all, whom it was believed that our policy had 
propitiated. There was security in the thought that the 
Soldiery were with us. It was the creed of English statesmen 
that India had been won by the Sword, and must be retained 
by the Sword. And so long as we held the sword firmly in our 
hands, there was but little apprehension of any internal danger. 
The British power in the East was fenced in and fortified by 
an army of three hundred thousand men. 

A small part only of this Army was composed of our own 
countrymen. Neither the manhood of England nor the 
revenues of India could supply the means of defending the 
country only with British troops. A large majority of our 
fighting-men were, therefore, natives of India, trained, disci- 
plined, and equipped after the English fashion. We had first 
learnt from the French the readiness with which the " Moors " 
and the " Gentus " could be made to adapt themselves to the 
habits and forms of European warfare, and, for a hundred 
years, we had been improving on the lesson. Little by little, 
the handful of Blacks which had helped Eobert Clive to win 
the battle of Plassey had swollen into the dimensions of a 
gigantic army. It had not grown with the growth of the 
territory which it was intended to defend ; but still, nerved and 
strengthened by such Eui'opean regiments as the exigencies of 
the parent state could spare for the service of the outlying 


dependency, it was deemed to be of sufficient extent to support 
the Government which maintained it against all foreign enmity 
and all intestine revolt. 

It was, doubtless, a strange and hazardous experiment upon 
the forbearance of these disciplined native fighting-men, held 
only by the bondage of the Salt in allegiance to a trading 
Company which had usurped the authority of their Princes 
and reduced their countrymen to subjection. But it was an 
experiment which, at the date of the commencement of this 
history, had stood the test of more than a century of probation. 
The fidelity of the Native Army of India was an established 
article of our faith. Tried in many severe conjunctures, it had 
seldom been found wanting. The British Sipahi had faced 
death without a fear, and encountered every kind of suffering 
and privation without a murmur. Commanded by officers 
whom he trusted and loved, though of another colour and 
another creed, there was nothing, it was said, which he would 
not do, there was nothing which he would not endure. In an 
extremity of hunger, he had spontaneously offered his scanty 
food to sustain the robuster energies of his English comrade. 
He had planted the colours of his regiment on a spot which 
European valour and perseverance had failed to reach. He 
had subscribed from his slender earnings to the support of our 
European wars. He had cheerfully consented, when he knew 
that his Government was in need, to forego that regular receipt 
of pay which is the very life-blood of foreign service. History 
for a hundred years had sparkled with examples of his noble 
fidelity ; and there were few who did not believe, in spite of 
some transitory aberrations, that he would be true to the last 
line of the chapter. 

If there were anything, therefore, to disturb the mind of 
Lord Dalhousie when he laid down the reins of govern- 
ment on that memorable spring morning, the trouble 1856 ' 
which oppressed him was not the growth of any mistrust of 
the fidelity of the Sipahi. " Hardly any circumstance of his 
condition," he said, in his Farewell Minute, " is in need of 
improvement." And there were few who, reading this passage, 
the very slenderness of which indicated a more settled faith in 
the Sipahi than the most turgid sentences could have expressed, 
did not feel the same assurance that in that direction there was 
promise only of continued repose. It was true that Asiatic 
armies were ever prone to revolt — that we had seen Maratha 

l 2 


armies and Sikh armies, Arab armies and Gurkha armies, all 

the military races of India indeed, at some time or other rising 

in mutiny against their Government, and perhaps overthrowing 

it. But fifty years had passed away since the minds of our 

British rulers had "been seriously disturbed by a fear of military 

revolt, and that half century, it was believed, had brought full 

conviction home to the understanding of the Sipahi that the 

Company was a good and generous master, whose colours it 

was a privilege to bear. Outwardly, there was only a great calm ; 

and it was not thought that beneath that smooth surface there 

were any latent dangers peculiar to the times. The Sipahi 

was esteemed to be " faithful to a proverb "; and his fidelity 

was the right arm of our strength. 

Our first Sipahi levies were raised in the Southern Peninsula, 

o: * c- ^u- 1 • when the English and French powers were con- 
First Sipdhi levies , . t- .-i i • , • n • i n 

in Bombay and tending lor the dominant influence m that part of 
Madras. ^ e coun t r y. They were few in number, and at 
the outset commonly held in reserve to support our European 
fighting-men. But, little by little, they proved that they were 
worthy to be entrusted with higher duties, and, once trusted, 
they went boldly to the front. Under native commandants, 
for the most part Muhammadan or high-caste Bajput Hindus, 
but disciplined and directed by the English captain, their pride 
was flattered and their energies stimulated by the victories 
they gained. How they fought in the attack of Madura, how 
they fought in the defence of Arkat, how they crossed bayonets, 
foot to foot, with the best French troops at Gudalur, historians 
have delighted to tell. All the power and all the responsibility, 
all the honours and rewards, were not then monopolised by the 
English captains. Large bodies of troops were sometimes 
despatched, on hazardous enterprises, under the independent 
command of a native leader, and it was not thought an offence 
to a European soldier to send him to fight under a black 
commandant. That black commandant was then a great man, 
in spite of his colour. He rode on horseback at the head of his 
men, and a mounted staff-officer, a native adjutant, carried his 
commands to the Subakdars of the respective companies. And 
a brave man or a skilful leader was honoured for his bravery 
or his skill as much under the folds of a turban as under a 
round hat. 

When the great outrage of the Black Hole called Olive's 
The Bengal Army, retributory army to Bengal, the English had no 

1756-57.] BIRTH OF THE BENGAL ARMY. 149 

Sipahi troops on the banks of the Hugli. But there were 
fourteen native battalions in Madras, numbering in all ten 
thousand men, and Clive took two of these with him, across 
the black water, to Calcutta. Arrived there, and the first blow 
struck, he began to raise native levies in the neighbourhood, 
and a battalion of Bengal Sipahis fought at Plassey side by side 
with their comrades from Madras. Eight years after this 
victory, which placed the great province of Bengal at our feet, 
the one battalion had swollen into nineteen, each of a thousand 
strong. To each battalion three English officers were appointed 
— picked men from the English regiments.* The native 
element was not so strong as in the Southern Army ; but a good 
deal of substantive authority still remained with the black 

And that the Bengal Sipahi was an excellent soldier, was 
freely declared by men who had seen the best troops of the 
European powers. Drilled and disciplined in all essential 
points after the English model, the native soldier was not 
called upon to divest himself of all the distinctive attributes 
of his race. Nothing that his creed abhorred or his caste 
rejected was forced upon him by his Christian masters. 
He lived apart, cooked apart, ate apart, after the fashion 
of his tribe. No one grudged him his necklace, his earrings, 
the caste-marks on his forehead, or the beard which lay upon 
his breast. He had no fear of being forcibly converted to 
the religion of the white men, for he could not see that the 
white men had any religion to which they could convert him. 
There was no interference from the Adjutant-General's office, 
no paper government, no perpetual reference to order-books 
bristling with innovations ; and so he was happy and contented, 
obedient to the officers who commanded him, and faithful to 
the Government he served. 

His predominant sentiment, indeed, was fidelity to his Salt, 
or, in other words, to the hand that fed him. But if he thought 
that the hand was unrighteously closed to withhold from him 
what he believed his due, he showed himself to be most 
tenacious of his rights, and he resolutely asserted them. This 
temper very soon manifested itself. The Bengal Army was 
but seven years old, when it first began to evince some symptoms 

* In 17ti5, the number was increased to five. There were then a nativa 
-commandant and ten Subahdars to each battalion. — Broome. 


of a mutinous spirit. But in this instance the contagion 
came from the Europeans. The white troops had 

The First mutinied because the promise of a donation to 

M BengL. in the Army from Mir J'afar had halted on the way 
to performance ; and when the money came, the 
Sipahis followed their example, because they thought that they 
were denied their rightful share of the prize. They had just 
ground of complaint in this instance, and they were soothed by 
a reasonable concession.* But the fire had not burnt itself 
out; and before the close of the year some regiments were 
again in rebellion. One battalion seized and imprisoned its 
English officers, and vowed that it would serve no more. It 
was one of those childish ebullitions, of which we have since 
seen so many in the Bengal Army. But it was plain that the 
evil was a growing one, and to be arrested with a strong hand. 
So twenty-four Sipahis were tried, at Chapra, by a drum-head 
Court-Martial, for mutiny and desertion, found guilty, and 
ordered to be blown away from the guns. 

A century has passed since the order was carried into execu- 
tion, and many strange and terrible scenes have been witnessed 
by the Sipahi Army ; but none stranger or more terrible than 
this. The troops were drawn up, European and Native, the 
guns were loaded, and the prisoners led forth to suffer. Major 
Hector Munro, the chief of the Bengal Army, superintended 
that dreadful punishment parade, and gave the word of com- 
mand for the first four of the criminals to be tied up to the 
guns. The order was being obeyed; the men were being 
bound ; when four tall, stately Grenadiers stepped forward 
from among the condemned, and represented that as they had 
always held the post of honour in life, it was due to them that 
they should take precedence in death. The request was 
granted ; a brief reprieve was given to the men first led to exe- 
cution ; the Grenadiers were tied to the guns, and blown to 
pieces at the word of command. 

Then all through the Sipahi battalions on that ghastly 
parade there ran a murmur and a movement, and it_ seemed 
that the black troops, who greatly outnumbered the white, were 
about to strike for the rescue of their comrades. There wero 

* Whilst a private of the European Army was to receive forty rupees, it 
was proposed to give a Sipahi six. The share of the latter was afterward* 
fixed at twenty rupees. 

1764-6.] BLOWN FROM THE GUNS. 151 

signs and sounds not to be misunderstood ; so the officers of the 
native regiments went to the front and told Munro that their 
men were not to be trusted ; that the Sipahis had resolved not 
to suffer the execution to proceed. On the issue of that 
reference depended the fate of the Bengal Army. The English 
troops on that parade were few. There was scarcely a man 
among them not moved to tears by what he had seen ; but 
Munro knew that they could be trusted, and that they could 
defend the guns, which once turned upon the natives would 
have rendered victory certain. So he closed the Europeans on 
to the battery ; the Grenadiers upon one side, the Marines on 
the other, loaded the pieces with grape, and sent the Sipahi 
officers back to their battalions. This done, he gave the word 
of command to the native regiments to ground arms. In the 
presence of those loaded guns, and of the two lines of white 
troops ready to fire upon them, to have disobeyed would have 
been madness. They moved to the word of command, laid 
down their arms, and when another word of command was 
given, which sent the Sipahis to a distance from their grounded 
muskets, and the Europeans with the guns took ground on the 
intervening space, the danger had passed away. The native 
troops were now completely at Munro's mercy, and the execu- 
tion went on in their presence to its dreadful close. Twenty 
men were blown away from the guns at that parade. Four 
were reserved for execution at another station, as a warning to 
other regiments, which appeared to be mutinously disposed, and 
six more, tried and sentenced at Bankipur, were blown away at 
that place. Terrible as was this example, it was the act of a 
merciful and humane man, and Mercy and Humanity smiled 
sorrowfully, but approvingly, upon it. It tatight the Sipahi 
Army that no British soldier, black or white, can rebel against 
the State without bringing down upon himself fearful retribu- 
tion, and by the sacrifice of a few guilty forfeited lives checked 
the progress of a disease which, if weakly suffered to run its 
course, might have resulted in the slaughter of thousands. 

The lesson was not thrown away. The Sipahi learnt to 
respect the stern authority of the law, and felt that the Nemesis 
of this new Government of the British was certain in its opera- 
tions, and not to be escaped. And the time soon came when his 
constancy was tested, and found to have the ring of the true 
metal. The European officers broke into rebellion ; but thH 
natives did not falter in their allegiance. Conceiving them- 


selves aggrieved by the withdrawal of the extraordinary allow- 
ances which they had enjoyed in the field, the 
itengli y offlcer e s. f° rmer determined to remonstrate against the 
reduction, and to clamour for what they called 
their rights. In each brigade meetings were called, con- 
sultations were held, and secret committees were formed, 
under the disguise of Freemasons' Lodges. Headstrong 
and obstinate, the officers swore to recover the double batta 
which had been taken from them, or to resign the service 
in a body. Large sums of money were subscribed, and the 
Company's civilians contributed to the fund, which was to 
enable their military brethren to resist the authority of their 
common masters. It was a formidable conjuncture, and one to 
try the courage even of a Clive. The orders of the Company 
were peremptory ; and he was not a man to lower the authority 
of Government by yielding to a threat. But he could not dis- 
guise from himself that there were contingencies which might 
compel him to make a temporary concession to the insubordi- 
nates ; one was an incursion of the Marathas,* the other the 
defection of the Sipahis. Had the native soldiers sympathised 
with and supported the English officers, the impetus thus given 
to the movement would have overborne all power of resistance, 
and Government must have succumbed to the crisis. In this 
emergency, Clive saw clearly the importance of securing " the 
fidelity and attachment of the Subahdars, or commanding 
officers of the black troops," and he wrote urgently to his lieu- 
tenants, Smith and Fletcher, instructing them to attain this 
end. But the Sipahis had never wavered. True to their 
colours, they were ready at the word of command to fire on the 
white mutineers. Assured of this, Clive felt that the danger 
was over — felt that he could hold out against the mutiny of the 
English officers, even though the European troops should break 
into revolt, f 

* " In case the Marathas should still appear to intend an invasion, or in 
case you apprehend a mutiny among the troops, but in no other case, you 
have authority to make terms with the officers of your brigade."— Lord Clive 
to Col. Smith, May 11, 1766. [See also following note.] 

t " The black Sipahi officers, as well as men, have given great proofs of 
fidelity and steadiness upon this occasion, and so long as they remain so, 
nothing is to be apprehended from the European soldierv, even if they should 
be mutinously inclined."— Clive to Smith, May 15, 1760* MS. Records.— They 
had just afforded a striking proof that they were prepared, if necessary, to 


The founders of the Native Army had conceived the idea of a 
force recruited from among the people of the country, and com- 
manded for the most part by men of their own race, but of 
higher social position — men, in a word, of the master-class, 
accustomed to exact obedience from their inferiors. But it was 
the inevitable tendency of our increasing power in India to oust 
the native functionary from his seat, or to lift him from his 
saddle, that the white man might fix himself there, with all the 
remarkable tenacity of his race. An Englishman believes that 
he can do all things better than his neighbours, and, therefore, 
it was doubtless with the sincere conviction of the good we 
were doing that we gradually took into our own hands the reins 
of office, civil and military, and left only the drudgeiy and the 
dirty work to be done by the people of the soil. Whether, if 
we had fairly debated the question, it would have appeared to 
us a safer and a wiser course to leave real military power in the 
hands of men who might turn it against us, than to cast upon 
the country a dangerous class of malcontents identifying the 
rise of the British power with their own degradation, it may 
now be difficult to determine. But any other result than that 
before us would have been utterly at variance with the genius 
of the English nation, and, theorise as we might, was not to be 
expected. So it happened, in due course, that the native 
officers, who had exercised real authority in their battalions, 
who had enjoyed opportunities of personal distinction, who had 
felt an honourable pride in their position, were pushed aside by 
an incursion of English gentlemen, who took all the substantive 
power into their hands, and left scarcely more than the shadow 
of rank to the men whom they had supplanted. 
An English subaltern was appointed to every com- increase of 
pany, and the native officer then began to collapse officers. 
into something little better than a name. 

As the degradation of the native officer was thus accom- 
plished, the whole character of the Sipahi army was changed. 
It ceased to be a profession in which men of high position, 

fire upon the Europeans. See Broome's "History of the Bengal Army," vol. i. 
589 : " The European battalion had got under arms, and were preparing to 
leave the fort and follow their officers, and the artillery were about to do the 
same, but the unexpected appearance of this firm line of Sipahis, with thoir 
bayonets fixed and arms loaded, threw them into some confusion, of which 
Captain Smith took advantage, and warned them, that if they did not retire 
peaceably into their barracks, he would fire upon them at once." 


accustomed to command, might satisfy the aspirations and 
expend the energies of their lives. All distinctions were 
effaced. The native service of the Company came down to a 
dead level of common soldiering, and rising from the ranks by 
a painfully slow progress to merely nominal command. There 
was employment for the many ; there was no longer a career for 
the few. Thenceforth, therefore, we dug out the materials of 
our army from the lower strata of society, and the gentry of 
the land, seeking military service, carried their ambitions 
beyond the red line of the British frontier, and offered their 
swords to the Princes of the Native States. 

But in those lower strata there were elementary diversities 
of which in England we know nothing. The lower orders 
amongst us are simply the lower orders — all standing together 
on a common level of social equality ; we recognise no distinc- 
tions among them except in respect of the callings which they 
follow. Thus one common soldier differs only from another 
common soldier in the height of his stature, or the breadth of 
his shoulders, or the steadiness of his drill. But in India the 
great institution of Caste — at once the most exclusive 
and the most levelling system in the world — may 
clothe the filthiest, feeblest mendicant with all the dignities and 
powers of the proudest lord. So, in our Native Army, a Sipahi 
was not merely a Sipahi. He might be a Brahman, or he might 
be a Pariah ; and though they might stand beside each other 
shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot, on the parade-ground, there 
was as wide a gulf between them in the Lines as in our own 
country yawns between a dustman and a duke. 

In the Bengal Army the Sipahis were chiefly of high Caste. 
Deriving its name from the country in which it was first raised, 
not from the people composing it, it was recruited in th9 first 
instance from among the floating population which the Muham- 
madan conquest had brought from the northern provinces— 
from Bohilkhand, from Oudh, from the country between the 
two rivers ; men of migratory habits, and martial instincts, and 
sturdy frames, differing in all respects, mind and body, from 
the timid, feeble denizens of Bengal. The Jat, the Bajput, and 
the priestly Brahman, took service, with the Patan, under the 
great white chief, who had humbled the pride of Siraju'd 
daulah. And as time advanced, and the little local militia 
swelled into the bulk of a magnificent army, the aristocratic 
element was still dominant in the Bengal Army. But the 

1784-96.] CASTE IN THE ARMY. 155 

native troops of Madras and Bombay were made up from more 
mixed and less dainty materials. There were men in the ranks 
of those armies of all nations and of all castes, and the more ex- 
elusive soon ceased from their exelusiveness, doing things which 
their brethren in the Bengal Army shrunk from doing, and 
solacing their pride with the reflection that it was the " custom 
of the country." Each system had its advocates. The Bengal 
Sipahi, to the outward eye, was the finest soldier ; tallest, best- 
formed, and of the noblest presence. But he was less docile 
and serviceable than the Sipahi of the Southern and the Western 
Armies. In the right mood there was no better soldier in the 
world, but he was not always in the right mood ; and the 
humours which he displayed were ever a source of trouble to 
his commanders, and sometimes of danger to the State. 

In an army so constituted, the transfer of all substantive 
authority to a handful of alien officers might have 
been followed by a fatal collapse of the whole system, The Sipahi 
but for one fortunate circumstance, which sustained 
its vitality. The officers appointed to command the Sipahi 
battalions were picked men; men chosen from the European 
regiments, not merely as good soldiers, skilled in their pro- 
fessional duties, but as gentlemen of sound judgment and 
good temper, acquainted with the languages and the habits 
of the people of the country, and prone to respect the pre- 
judices of the soldiery. The command of a native battalion 
was one of the highest objects of ambition. It conferred 
large powers and often great wealth upon the Sipahi officer ; 
and though the system was one pregnant with abuses, which 
we see clearly in these days, it contained that great prin- 
ciple of cohesion which attached the English officer and the 
native soldier to each other — cohesion, which the refinements 
of a later civilisation were doomed rapidly to dissolve. 

It lasted out the century, but scarcely survived it.* The 

* That the national basis, which, had originally distinguished the founda- 
tion of the Madras Army, did not very long survive the establishment of the 
reformed system of Bengal, and that the native officers soon lost the power 
and the dignity in which they had once rejoiced, may be gathered from an 
sarly incident in the Life of Sir John Malcolm. It was in 1784, when an 
exchange of prisoners with Tipu had been negotiated, that a detachment of 
two companies of Sipahis was sent out from our side of the Maisur frontier to 
meet the escort under Major Dallas conveying the English prisoners from 
Seringapatam. " In command of this party,'' says the biographer, " went 
Ensign John Malcolm. This was his first service ; and it was long reinem- 


English Sipahi officer having become a great substantive fact, 
not a mere excrescence upon the general body of the English 
Army, it became necessary to define his position. He had 
many great advantages, but he had not rank ; and the Com- 
pany's officer found himself continually superseded by younger 
men in the King's army. Very reasonably, if not always very 
temperately, he began then to assert his rights ; and the result 
was an entire reorganisation of the Company's army, which 
greatly improved the status of its old officers and opened a 
door for the employment of a large numbers of others. By the 
regulations thus framed, two battalions of Sipahis were formed 
into one regiment, to which the same number of officers were 
posted as to a regiment in the King's army, and all took rank 
according to the date of their commissions. It was believed 
that the increased number of European officers would add to 
the efficiency of the Native Army. But it was admitted, even 
by those who had been most active in working out the new 
scheme, that it did not develop all the good results with which 
it was believed to be laden. The little authority, the little 
dignity, which still clung to the position of the native officers 
was then altogether effaced by this new incursion of English 
gentlemen ; * and the discontent, which had been growing up 
in the minds of the soldiery, began then to bear bitter fruit. 

But this was not all. The new regulations, which so greatly 
improved the position of the Company's officers, and in no 
respect more than in that of the pensions which they were then 
permitted to enjoy, held out great inducements to the older 
officers of the Company's army to retire from active service, and 
to spend the remainder of their days at home. Many of the 
old commandants then prepared to leave the battalions over 
which they had so long exercised paternal authority, and to 
give up their jilaces to strangers. Not only was there a change 
of men, but a change also of system. The English officer rose 

bered by others than the youthful hero himself. When the detachment met 
the prisoners' escort, a bright-faced healthy English boy was seen by the 
latter riding up to them on a rough pony. Dallas asked him after his com- 
manding officer. ' I am the commanding officer,' said young Malcolm." As 
Malcolm was born in 1769, he must at this time have been a boy of fifteen ; 
yet he commanded a detachment of two companies of Sipahis, and all the 
old native officers attached to them. 

* It was alleged to be an advantage of the new system that the increased 
number of English officers would obviate the necessity of ever sending out a 
detachment uuder native command. 

1796-1805.] THE REORGANIZATION OF 1796. 157 

by seniority to command. The principle of selection was 
abandoned. And men, who could scarcely call for a glass of 
water in the language of the country, or define the difference 
between a Hindu and a Muhammadan, found themselves in- 
vested with responsibilities which ought to have devolved only 
on men of large local experience and approved good judgment 
and temper. 

But the evil results of the change were not immediately 
apparent. The last years of the eighteenth, and the 
first years of the nineteenth century were years of Mwith^Wars* 1 
active Indian warfare. In the Maisur and in the 
Maratha countries the Sipahi had constant work, under great 
generals whom he honoured and trusted ; he had strong faith 
in the destiny of the Company ; and his pride was flattered 
by a succession of brilliant victories. But it is after such wars 
as those of Harris, Lake, and Wellesley, when a season of stag- 
nation succeeds a protracted period of excitement, that the 
discipline of an army, whether in the East or in the West, is 
subjected to its severest trials. All the physical and moral 
properties which have so long sustained it in high health and 
perfect efficiency then seem to collapse ; and the soldier, nerve- 
less and languid, readily succumbs to the deteriorating in- 
fluences by which he is surrounded. And so it was with the 
Sipahi after those exhausting wars. He was in the state which, 
of all others, is most susceptible of deleterious impressions. 
And, unhappily, there was one especial source of annoyance 
and alarm to irritate and disquiet him in the hour of peace. 
Amidst the stern realities of active warfare, the European 
officer abjures the pedantries of the drill-sergeant and the 
fopperies of the regimental tailor. He has no time for small 
things ; no heart for trifles. It is enough for him that his men 
are in a condition to fight battles and to win them. But in 
Peace he sometimes shrivels into an Arbiter of Drill and Dress, 
and worries in time the best of soldiers into malcontents and 

And so it was that, after the fierce excitement of the Maisur 
and Maratha wars, there arose among our English officers an 
ardour for military improvement ; and the Sipahi, who had 
endured for years, without a murmur, all kinds of hardships 
and privations, under canvas and on the line of march, felt that 
life was less endurable in cantonments than it had been in the 
field, and was continually disturbing himself, in his matted 

L58 Tin: sirAin AitiMY its immk ani> PROGRESS. [UN 

hut, about the now things thatwere being foroed upon him. 
All iorti of novelties were bristling up In bit path. I In wan to 
be drilled aftei b new English i > i > i< >n . tie was to be drei ed 
; 1 1 1 < • i ■ a new Hmglish fashion tie was i" be ihavod after a new 

ICnglish i . 1 1 1 1 1 i < .11. He was not smart e igh i"i the Martinets 

who had taken him In hand to polish him up into an ICnglish 
soldier. They were stripping him, Indeed, of hii distinctive 
Oriental obaraoter and Itwai long before he began to §ee in 
I In . .•■ i ii"i i i" Aiij'Iicim' iii iii Mn i it 'i 1 1 i 1 1 ; • 1 1 ih m than ill" vexatious 
innovations and orndnnxpnriiuontsof ISuropoan military roiorm. 

To Illi'Cn 11.11 III »_VM IK'I'M :MhI \ '§ \ :i I inllll tllO Mlldl'MN A I I II \ Wi'l'n 

especially subjected. Oompoied an were Iti batts 
Mutiny 'of tiio |ionn of men of different oastos. and not In anT " :, \ 

I ■■ml \iiiiv ' .' •' 

govornod by oasto | n i mi plin, tlmy worn liold to be 
peouliarly nuoossible i" innovation ; and, little by little, all the 
"Id outward characteristics of the native soldier wore offaood, 
and new things! upon the muni, approved Ruropoan pnttorn, 
substituted in their place, ai Last the Bipahi, Forbidden to 
wear ilm distinguishing marks of Caste on his forehond, 
stripped <>i iiiw oarringH, in whioh, by ties alike of vanity and 
superstition, he "mi fondly attached,* and ordered i" shave 
IniiiM'll according to a regulation mil, I was put into ■>■ stifl 
round hat, like u Pariah drummer's, with a flat top, a leather 
uookade, and a standing feather. li was no longer oalled b 
" i mi band " . li was a hat or cap j In the language oi the natives, 
n injn ; .Mini ii lo/n wallah, or hat wearer, was In ihcir phrasou- 
logj a synonym for a ITaringhi or Christian. 

The Sipahi Is not logical, but lm in nimlnlouH and suspioioui. 
li w.'iii not difficult in persuade him that there were hidden 
meanings and oeoult designs In all this assimilation of the 
imiivn iiuiiiim'H dniHH to that of the European ii".iiiiti", man 
J he new ha1 was nol moroly an omblom of Christianity, and 

* lly Hi. IM iilntiiiiiiniliiii ; ijmIii HlO .iii i i m ■ ■ wini "III ii wiiin hi ii rlnuiii. II. 

wiin f, i vi ii in inin ni imi inllll, mill iiiiiiriiii ii in M patron mini 

| Boo the fallow in,"., i 'nni in, Si I- 1 1 . : i.hhIiii - <inii in n| IVTitclrni \im\ 
" li in or* fared by the Itnuulnl i i lm i n nnttvti ikoMfar nhit.ll uol L lili 

I in-' In iii I ml.' Inn i -ii. :li-, or Wi HI I'll ■■;• fthni ■ I ■ ■ , . I in III i mill iiml |l 

i I in I In i ilm rli i|, I Imi, nl nil 1 1 1 1 in I, ii, mill mi nil 1 1 ii I ir, i, , \,i v ni ill 1 1 it nl I lm 
I.iiIIiiImii nliiill lm rliiin .lm vi il mi Ilic ohin. II i:i iiIm.i, lli.l 

uniformity ihftll, ni Pttr ni In prftotfaubfa, lie pronorvotl In regard fa thu qumil Itj 

iiml iiliii|n< nl tin' limr mi tln> ii|i|n'i Up/' 

IM6-&] THH iiiM'i'nsMi) mmiAiMMADAM. LBfl 

there fo to p<>nN0NMed of a grave moral signifloanoe, but materially, 
mIsd, It was discovered to be an abomination. It was made in 
part uC i< ;ii In r | ii<- 1 i.i t «■< l from the skin « > I" the unolean bog, oi 
.of the saored oow, and was, therefore, an offence and dosei 
ihiH alike in Muhammadan and Hindu. The former bad no 
(liHtiii^iiiHliiii", marks of oaite l«» be rubbed off on parade willi a 
dirty ■tiok, but be venerated 1 1 i m beard and iii:< earrings, and, 
under the foroe of oontaol and example, he bad developed many 
trong generic rosoinblanoei to the oaste observing Hindu. The 
M 1 1 1 ■ :i 1 1 1 ii in 1 1 :« 1 1 of [ndia differs great ly in bii babita and bis feelings 

from the Muhai adun of Central Asia or Arabia ; be aooommo 

datei himself, In some sort, to the usages of the oountry, and 
being thus readily acclimatised, he strikes strong root in the 
soil. Christianity does not differ more than Muhammadanism, 
dootrinally or ethically, from the religion of the Hindus; but 
in the one oaso there may be sooial fusion, In the other It Li 
impossible. Evon In the former instanoe, the fusion Liimperfeot, 
and there Is In thiB partial assimilation of raoei one of tho ohief 
olements of our seourity In [ndia. But the seourity derived 
Irora this souroe is alio Lmperfuot; and oiroumstanoes maj &1 

any time, by an ti n I'ml ii na Ii- OOlnoidenOO, appeal to the 'I I) n ii'ii I 

nililaiii'i'M ami tho ooiiiinon iiiNtiuctN of dill'oreut nationalities, 
in luoh a manner an to excite in both tho same fears and to 
raise llm Haunt aspirations, and no to eaiiHo nil diversities to be 
tor a time forgotten. Ami wmli a ooinoidenoe appears now to 
have arisen. Different raoes, moved by the sense <>l a oommon 
danger, and rouied by oommon hope, forgot their differences, 
ami oombined against ■••■ oommon foe. 

And hii It happoned that In the ipring of 1806, the Hindu 
mil Muhammadan Bipahi in the Southern Peninsula of [ndia 
■MIC talking together, Like oaste-brothers, about their grie^ 
anoes, and weaving | >li >i h for their deliveranoe. Ii Li partly by 
aooident, partly by design, that suoh plots ripen In the spring, 
By aooident, beoause relieved from oohl weather oxorei • 
parades, field days, and Lnipeotioni, the soldier has more leisure 
<u ruminate bii wrongs, and more time bo diiouss them. By 

di 1 "ii, beoause 1 ii iming heati and rains paralyse the activities 

of the white man, and are great gain i" the Dative mutineor. 
In \|iul and May the English ofHoer sees little of his men ; Id* 
visits to the Lines are few j few are his appearances on parade, 
tie is languid and prostrate. The morning and evening ride 
are as muoh as his mini ■ i< - nan eoinpaHN. The SipAhi then, disen* 


cumbered of dress and dismissed from drill, can afford to snatch 
some hours from sleep to listen to any strange stories, told by 
wandering mendicants, with the odour of sanctified filth about 
them, and to discuss the most incredible fables with all the 
gravity of settled belief. There is always more or less of this 
vain talk. It amuses the Sipahi, and for a while excites him 
with a visionary prospect of higher rank and better pay, under 
some new dispensation. But he is commonly content to regard 
this promised time as a far-off Hegaira, and, as he turns him- 
self round on his charpai for another nap, he philosophically 
resolves in the meanwhile to eat the Company's salt in peace, 
and to wait God's pleasure in quietude and patience. 

But there was at this time something more to excite the 
imagination of the Sipahi in Southern India than the ordinary 
vain talk of the Bazaars and the Lines. The travelling fakirs 
were more busy with their inventions ; the rumours which they 
carried from place to place were more ominous ; the prophecies 
which they recited were more significant of speedy fulfilment. 
There was more point in the grotesque performances of 
the puppet-shows — more meaning in the rude ballads which 
were sung and the scraps of verse which were cited. Strange 
writings were dropped by unseen hands, and strange placards 
posted on the walls. At all the large military stations in the 
Karnatik and the Dakhin there was an uneasy feeling as of some- 
thing coming. There were manifold signs which seemed to 
indicate that the time to strike had arrived, and so the Sipahi 
began to take stock of his grievances and to set before him all 
the benefits of change. 

The complaints of the Sipahi were many. If he were to pass 
his whole life in the Company's service, and do what he might, 
he could not rise higher than the rank of Subahdar ; there had 
been times when distinguished native soldiers had been ap- 
pointed to high and lucrative commands, and had faithfully 
done their duty ; but those times had passed, and, instead of 
being exalted, native officers were habitually degraded. A 
Sipahi on duty always presented or carried arms to an English 
officer, but an English soldier suffered a native officer to pass 
by without a salute. Even an English Sergeant commanded 
native officers of the highest rank. On parade, the English 
officers made mistakes, used the wrong words of command, then 
threw the blame upon the Sipahis and reviled them. Even 
native officers, who had grown grey in the service, were publicly 


abused by European striplings. On the line of march the 
native officers were compelled to live in the same tents with the 
common Sipahis, and had not, as in the armies of native poten- 
tates, elephants or palanquins assigned to them for their con- 
veyance, how great soever the distance which they were obliged 
to traverse. And if they rode horses or ponies, purchased from 
their savings, the English officer frowned at them as upstarts. 
" The Sipahis of the Nizam and the Maratha chiefs," they said, 
" are better off than our Subahdars and Jamadars." Then it 
was urged that the Company's officers took the Sipahis vast dis- 
tances from their homes, where they died in strange places, and 
that their wives and children were left to beg their bread ; that 
native Princes, when they conquered new countries, gave grants 
of lands to distinguished soldiers, but that the Company only 
gave them sweet words ; that the concubines of the English 
gentlemen were better paid than the native officers, and their 
grooms and grass-cutters better than the native soldiers ; that 
the English officers could import into their Zenanas the most 
beautiful women in the country, whilst the natives hardly 
dared to look at the slave-girls ; and, to crown all, it was 
declared that General Arthur Wellesley had ordered his wounded 
Sipahis to be mercilessly shot to death. 

Preposterous as were some of the fables with which this bill 
of indictment was crusted over, there was doubtless beneath it 
a large substratum of truth. But the alleged grievances were, 
for the most part, chronic ailments which the Sipahi had been 
long enduring, and might have endured still longer, patiently 
and silently, had they not culminated in the great outrage of 
the round hat, with its auxiliary vexations of the shorn beard, 
the effaced caste-marks, and the despoiled earrings. Then, it 
was not difficult to teach him that this aggregation of wrongs 
had become intolerable, and that the time had come for him to 
strike a blow in defence of his rights. And the teacher was 
not far distant. The great Muhammadan usurpation of Maisur 
had been overthrown, but the representatives of the usurper 
were still in the country. The family of the slain Sultan were 
living in the fort of Vellur, as the clients rather than the cap- 
tives of the English, with abundant wealth at their command, 
and a numerous body of Musulman attendants. But generous 
as was the treatment they had received, and utterly at variance 
with their own manner of dealing with fallen enemies, they had 
not ceased to bewail the loss- of the sovereign power which had 

VOL. 1. M 


passed from their House, or to hate the conquerors who had un- 
kinged them. In the luxurious idleness of Vellur they dreamed 
of the recovery of their lost empire. There was but one way 
to the attainment of that cherished object, and that way was 
through the corruption of the Sipahi. The time was propitious, 
and the work commenced. 

It ought not to have been easy work, but so it was. If there 
had been relations of confidence between the English officer and 
the native soldier, the corruption of the latter would have been 
a task of sore difficulty and danger ; but those relations were 
not what they had been a few years before. It was not that 
the officers themselves had deteriorated, but that a new system 
had been introduced, which, greatly improving their state and 
prospects, and, it may be said, permanently increasing their 
efficiency as a body, still caused some temporary relaxation of 
the ties which bound them to the soldiery of the country. The 
new regulations of 1796, it has been said, opened out to the 
elder generation of officers a door by which they might retire 
on advantageous terms from the service. Some took their pen- 
sions at once ; but a period of active warfare supervened, and 
many veteran officers waited for the restoration of peace to take 
advantage of the boon that was offered. They went ; and a new 
race of men, young and inexperienced, took their places. And 
so, for a time, the Sipahi did not know his officer, nor the officer 
his men ; they met almost as strangers on parade, and there was 
little or no communion between them. It was a transition 
period of most untoward occurrence, when so many other ad- 
verse influences were destroying the discipline of the army ; 
and, therefore, again I say the hour was propitious, and the 
work of corruption commenced. 

At the end of the first week of May, as Adjutant-General 

M » Agnew was rising from his work, in the white heat 

Progress of of Fort St. George, there came tidings to his office 

the Mutiny. f g enera | disaffection among the native troops at 

Vellur. One battalion, at least, already had broken into open 

mutiny. The chief of the Madras army, Sir John Cradock, had 

retired for the evening to his garden house in the pleasant 

suburbs of Madras, so Agnew drove out to see him with the 

important missive in his hand. A few days afterwards, Cradock 

was posting to Vellur. Arrived there, he found that there had 

been no exaggeration in the reports which had been furnished 

to him, but that more judicious treatment at the outset might 


have allayed the excitement among the troops, and restored the 
confidence of the Sipahi. So said a Court of Inquiry ; so said 
the Commander-in-Chief. A gentle sudorific, almost insensibly 
expelling the pent-up humours, may suffice at the beginning, 
though only much blood-letting can cure at the end. But ail- 
ments of this kind, in the military body, seldom reveal them- 
selves in their full significance until the time for gentle 
treatment is past. When Cradock went to Vellur no mere 
explanations could repair the mischief that had been done. The 
mutinous troops were sent down to the Presidency, and others 
substituted for them. Military discipline was vindicated for 
the time by a court-martial, and two of the ringleaders were 
sentenced to be — flogged. But the infection still clung to 
Vellur. The whole native garrison was tainted and corrupted. 

Nor was it a mere local epidemic. At other military stations 
in the Karnatik there was similar excitement. Midnight meet- 
ings were being held in the Lines ; oaths of secresy were being 
administered to the Sipahis ; threats of the most terrible 
vengeance were fulminated against any one daring to betray 
them. The native officers took the lead, the men followed, some 
roused to feelings of resentment, others huddling together like 
sheep, under the influence of a vague fear. In the bungalows 
of the English captains there was but small knowledge of what 
was passing in the Sipahis' Lines, and if there had been more, 
discretion would probably have whispered that in such a case 
" silence is gold." For when in the high places of Government 
there is a general disinclination to believe in the existence of 
danger, it is scarcely safe for men of lowlier station to say or to 
do anything indicating suspicion and alarm. 

At Vellur, after the first immature demonstration, there was 
a lull ; and the quietude had just the effect that it was intended 
to have ; it disarmed the suspicion and suspended the vigilance 
of the English. The most obvious precautions were neglected. 
Even the significant fact that the first open manifestation of 
disaffection had appeared under the shadow of the asylum of 
the Maisur Princes, had not suggested any special associations, 
or indicated the direction in which the watchful eye of the 
British Government should be turned. Nothing was done to 
strengthen the European garrison of Vellur.* No pains were 

* "That neither the Government nor the Commander-in-Chief entertained 
any serious apprehensions from the agitation having first occurred at Vellur, 

M 2 


taken to cut off the perilous intercourse which existed between 
the native soldiery and the occupants of the Palace. So the 
latter weut about the Fort jeering the Sipahis, and telling them 
that they would soon be made Christians to a man. The dif- 
ferent parts of their uniform were curiously examined, amidst 
shrugs and other expressive gestures, and significant " Wah- 
wahs ! " and vague hints that everything about them in some 
way portended Christianity. They looked at the Sipahi's stock , 
and said, " What is this? It is leather ! Well ! " Then they 
would look at his belt, and tell him that it made a cross on his 
breast, and at the little implements of his calling, the turu- 
screw and worm, suspended from it, and say that they also were 
designed to fix the Christian's cross upon his person. But it 
was the round hat that most of all was the object of the taunts 
and warnings of the people from the Palace. " It only needed 
this," they said, " to make you altogether a Faringhi. Take 
care, or we shall soon all be made Christians — Bazaar-people, 
Ryots, every one will be compelled to wear the hat; and then 
the whole country will be ruined." Within the Fort, and out- 
side the Fort, men of all kinds were talking about the forcible 
conversion to Christianity which threatened them ; and every- 
where the round hat was spoken of as an instrument by which 
the Caste of the Hindu was to be destroyed, and the faith of 
the Musulman desecrated and demolished. 

But all this was little known to the officers of the Vellur 
garrison, or, if known, was little heeded. So unwilling, indeed, 
were they to believe that any danger was brewing, that a iSipahi 
who told his English officer that the regiments were on the eve 
of revolt was put in irons- as a madman. The native officers 
declared that he deserved condign punishment for blackening 
the faces of his corps, and they were readily believed. But the 
time soon came when the prophecy of evil was verified, and the 
prophet was exalted and rewarded. Deeply implicated as he 
was said to be in the plot — a traitor first to the English, and 
then to his own people — his name became an offence and an 
abomination to the Army, and the favour shown to him a source 

ie obvious. The battalion that most opposed the innovation was, indeed, 
ordered to Madras, but nothing was directed indicative of any jealousy of the 
Princes. No precautions seem to have been taken within the Fort, and not- 
withstanding the discontent manifested by the native troops, the garrison 
was still left with only four companies of Europeans." — Barry Clone to John 
Malcolm. Poonah, Aug. 12, 1806. MS. Correspondence. 


of the bitterest resentment. " The disposition of the gentlemen 
of the Company's service," they said, " and the nature of their 
government, make a thief happy, and an honest man afflicted." * 
On the 10th of July the mine suddenly exploded. It was 
remembered afterwards that on the preceding 
afternoon an unusual number of people had July fo.'woe. 
passed into the Fort, some mounted and some 
on foot, seemingly on no especial business ; all with an inso- 
lent, braggart air, laughing and rollicking, making mimic 
battle among themselves, and otherwise expressing a general 
expectancy of something coming. It was remembered, too, 
that on that evening there Lad been more than the common 
tendency of the times to speak abusively of the English. The 
Adjutant of a Sipahi regiment had been called, to his face, by 
the vilest term of reproach contained in the language of the 
country.f But it has been doubted whether the day and hour 
of the outburst were those fixed for the development of the plot. 
The conspirators, it is said, were not ripe for action. Two or 
three days later, the first blow was to have been struck, but 
that a Jamadar, inflamed with strong drink, could not control 
the passionate haste within him, and he precipitated the colli- 
sion which it was the policy of his party to defer.! Numbers 

* From a paper in Hindustani, transmitted to Adjutant-General Agnew 
from the Haidarabad Subsidiary Force : " In the affair at Velliir," said the 
Sipahis, " when the mutiny first commenced, it was on account of Mustafa 
Beg ; and the gentlemen of the Company's Government have bestowed upon 
him a reward of two thousand pagodas from the public treasury, with the 
rank of Subahdar. The same Mustafa Beg, Sipahi, was the man who gave 
the signal for revolt to the people at Velliir, and this is the man whom the 
Company have distinguished by their favour." 

f Unhappily it is one of the first words which the Englishman in India 
learns to speak, and by which many young officers, when displeased, habitually 
call their native servants. (Very few, I think. — G. B. M.) 

% In the private correspondence of the time, it is stated that the day fixed 
for the outbreak was the 14th. It appeared, however, in the evidence of the 
first Committee of Inquiry assembled at Velliir, that it was agreed that the 
first blow should be struck fifteen days after the Maisur standard, prepared in 
the Piilace, was ready to be hoisted, and that thirteen days had then passed. 
The story of the drunken Jamadar appears in Madras Secret Letter, Sept. 
30, 1806. It happened, too, that the European officer commanding the native 
guard fell sick, that the Subahdar was also indisposed, and that Jamadar 
Kasim Khan, one of the most active of the mutineers, was eager to go the 
grand rounds ; and it is possible that this accident helped to precipitate the 
crisis. On the other hand, it is to be observed that Major Armstrong, who had 
been absent from Velliir, and who returned on the night of the 1 0th, was warned 
by people outside the Fort not to enter, as sonit thing was about to happen. 


thus suddenly roused to action were unprepared to play their 
parts ; and letters which had been written to disaffected polygars 
and others in Maisur had not yet been despatched. It was 
confidently believed that in a few days ten thousand faithful 
adherents of the House of Haidar would rally round the standard 
of the Musulman Princes. All that was required of the Sipahis 
was, that they should hold Yelliir for a week. At the end of 
that time it was believed that the whole country would be in 
the hands of the insurgents. 

The European garrison of Vellur, at this time, consisted only 

of four companies of a Line regiment. To fall 
ms 69th Sty ' 8 suddenly, in the dead of the night, on all who 

might happen to be on guard, to overpower them 
by numbers, and then to murder the rest in their beds, was 
apparently an easy task. Two hours after midnight the work 
commenced. The sentries were shot down. The soldiers on 
main guard were killed as they lay on their cots, and the white 
men in the hospital were ruthlessly butchered. There was 
then a scene of unexampled confusion. Roused from their beds 
by the unaccustomed sound of firing in the Fort, the English 
officers went out to learn the cause of the commotion, and many 
of them were shot down by the mutineers in the first bewilder- 
ment of surprise. The two senior officers of the garrison were 
among the first who fell. On the threshold of his house, Fan- 
court, who commanded the garrison, was warned, for dear life's 
sake, not to come out, but answering with the Englishman's 
favourite formula of " Never mind," he made for the Main 
Guard, and was shot with the " Fall in ! " on his lips. Of the 
survivors two or three made their way to the barracks, and 
took command of such of the Europeans as had escaped the 
first murderous onslaught of the Sipahis. But it was little that 
the most desperate resolution could do in this extremity to 
stem the continually increasing tide of furious hostility which 
threatened to overwhelm them. It was no mere military revolt. 
The inmates of the Palace were fraternising with the Sipahis. 
From the apartments of the Princes went forth food to refresh 
the weary bodies of the insurgents, and vast promises to stimu- 
late and sustain the energies of their minds. One of the Princes, 

the third son of Tipu, personally encouraged the 
Prince Moisu'd i ea a e rs of the revolt. With his own hands he 

gave them the significant bhital-nut. With his 
own lips he proclaimed the rewards to be lavished upon the 

1806.] THE MASSACRE OF VELI.tht. 167 

restorers of the Muhamniadan dynasty. And from his apart- 
ments a confidential servant was seen to bring the tiger-ntriped 
standard of Maisur, which, amidst vociferous cries of " Din ! 
Din !" was hoisted above the walls of the Palace. But the 
family of the Sultan were soon forgotten. There was no com- 
bination to aid their escape. The Sipahis at first gave them- 
selves up to the work of massacre. The people from the Palace, 
following in their wake, gorged themselves with the plunder of 
the white men, and aided the mutineers without sharing their 
danger. After a time the Sipahis betook themselves also to 
plunder; and the common object was forgotten under the ex- 
citement of personal greed. The white women in the Fort 
were spared. The tender mercies of the wicked, with a refined 
cruelty, preserved them for a worse fate than death. The people 
from the Palace told the Sipahis not to kill them, as all the 
English would be destroyed, and the Moormen might then take 
them for wives.* 

But whilst these terrible scenes were being enacted, and the 
sons of Tipu were swelling with the proud certainty of seeing 
the rule of the Sultan again established in Maisur, retribution 
swift and certain was overtaking the enterprise. 
An officer of the English regiment, who happened Major Coats. 
to be on duty outside the Fort, heard the firing, 
thoroughly apprehended the crisis, and, through the darkness of 
the early morning made his way to Arkat, to carry thither the 
tidings of insurrection, and to summon succours to the aid of 
the imperilled garrison. There was a regiment of British 
Dragoons at Arkat, under the command of Colonel 
Gillespie. By seven o'clock Coats had told his p™^ 
story. Fifteen minutes afterwards, Gillespie, with 
a squadron of his regiment, was on his way to Velliir. The 
rest were saddling and mounting ; the galloper-guns were being 
horsed and limbered ; and a squadron of Native Cavalry was 
responding to the trumpet-call with as much alacrity as the 
British Dragoons. The saving virtues of promptitude and pre- 
paration were never more conspicuously manifested. A little 
vacillation, a little blundering, a little delay, the result of 
nothing being ready when wanted, and all might have been 

* The massacre included fourteen officers and ninety-nine soldiers killed. 
There were, moreover, several officers and men wounded, some of the latter 


lost. Never had the sage precept of Haidar Ali, that the 
English should keep their white soldiers like hunting- 
leopards in cages, and slip them suddenly and fiercely at 
the enemy, been wrought into practice with more terrible 
effect, than now against the followers and supporters of his 

Once under the walls of Vellur, Gillespie was eager to make 
his way into the Fort, that he might rally the remnant of the 
European garrison and secure the safe admission of his men. 
The outer gates were open, but the last was closed, and in pos- 
session of the enemy. There was no hope of forcing it without 
the aid of the guns. But these were now rapidly approaching. 
There were good officers with the relieving force, to whom the 
conduct of external operations might be safely entrusted ; and 
Gillespie longed to find himself with the people whom he had 
come to save. So, whilst preparations were being made for the 
attack, he determined to ascend alone the walls of the Fort. In 
default of ladders, the men of the 69th let down a rope, and, 
amidst the shouts of the delighted Europeans, he was drawn up, 
unhurt, to the crest of the ramparts, and took command of the sur- 
vivors of the unhappy force. Quickly forming at the word of 
command, they came down eagerly to the charge, and, cheered by 
the welcome sound of the guns, which were now clamouring for 
admission, and not to be denied, they kept the mutineers at a 
distance till the gates were forced ; and then the cavalry 
streamed in, and victory was easy. The retribution was 
terrible, and just. Hundreds fell beneath the sabres of the 
Dragoons and of the native horsemen, who emulated the ardour 


of their European comrades. Hundreds escaped over the walls 
of the Fort, or threw down their arms and cried for mercy. But 
the excited troopers, who had seen Tipii's tiger-standard floating 
over the citadel of Vellur, could not, after that hot morning- 
ride, believe that they had done their work until they had des- 
troyed the " cubs." They were eager to be led into the Palace, 
and there to inflict condign punishment on those whom they 
believed to be the real instigators of the butchery of their 
countrymen. For a moment there was a doubt in Gillespie's 
mind ; but an appeal from Colonel Marriott, in whose charge 
was the Maisur family, removed it ; and he put forth a restrain- 
ing hand. He would not soil his victory with any cruel 
reprisals. The members of Tipu's family were now at his 
mercy, and the mercy which he showed them was that which 


the Christian soldier delights to rain down upon the fallen and 
the helpless.* 

But the storm had not expended itself in this fierce convul- 
sion. Taught by so stern a lesson, the Government resolved 
that " all orders which might be liable to the objection of affect- 
ing the usages of the troops " should be abandoned. But the 
obnoxious hats might have been burnt before the eyes of the 
troops, and the caste-marks and earrings restored on parade, in 
the presence of the Governor, the Commander-in-Chief, and all 
the magnates of the land ; and still a rettirn to quietude and 
contentment might have been far distant. Individual causes of 
anger and bitterness might be removed, but still there would 
remain, together with the mistrust they had engendered, all the 
vague anxieties on the one side, and the indefinite expectations 
on the other, which designing men had excited in the minds of 
the soldiery, f Rebellion had been crushed for a time at its 
Head-Quarters. The British flag floated again over Vellur ; but 
there were other strong posts, which it had been intended to 

* For all the facts given in the text, I have the authority of a mass of 
official, semi-official, ami private contemporary correspondence, which I have 
very carefully collated. In doing so, I have been compelled to reject some 
personal incidents which have hitherto generally formed part of the narrative 
of the "Massacre of Vellur," but which, however serviceable they may be 
for purposes of effective historical writing, are, I am sorry to say, at best 
apocryphal. It has been ^aid that the officer who carried the tidings to Arkat 
escaped through a sally-port, and swam the ditch of the Fort so famous for 
the number and size of its alligators. Sober official correspondence states 
that Major Coats, who was bearer of the news, was outside the Fort at the 
time of the outbreak. It is very generally stated, too, that when Gillespie 
wished to enter the Fort in advance of the men, as there were no ladders and 
no ropes, the survivors of the 69th fastened their belts together, and thus drew 
him up the walls. But I have before me two letters, signed "R. Gillespie," 
which state that he was drawn up by a rope. Among the fictitious incidents 
of the mutiny may be mentioned the whole of the stories which tell of the 
foul murder of English women, and the braining of little children before 
their mothers' eyes. 

t " The subversion of the British Empire in Tndia by foreign invasion and 
domestic revolt, seem to have been the common theme of discourse all over 
the country, and opinions have generally prevailed that such a revolution was 
neither an enterprise of great difficulty, nor that the accomplishment of it 

was far distant A mot-t extraordinary and unaccountable impression 

has been made upon the Sipahis, which has been fomented by prophecies and 
predictions inducing a belief that wonderful changes are about to take place, 
and that the Europeans are to be expelled from India." — General Hay Mao- 
dowall. Naudidriig, Oct. 31. MS. Correspondence. 


seize, and efforts might yet be made to establish revolt in other 
parts of the Southern Peninsula. 

Nor was it only in Maisur and the Karnatik that the spirit of 
disaffection was rife. In the Dakhin, also, it was mani- 
ai ara a . f eg .j.j n g itself in a manner which, for a while, created 
serious alarm. At Haidarabad, the capital of the Nizam's 
dominions, there was a high tide of excitement. It was appre- 
hended that the native troops of the Subsidiary Force, 
encouraged and aided by some of the chief people of this 
Muhammadan State, if not by the Nizam himself, would break 
out into revolt. They were wrought upon by nearly the same 
influences as had destroyed the loyalty of the troops in Maisur, 
with some peculiar aggravations of their own. A new com- 
manding officer had recently been placed over 
Colonel them — a smart disciplinarian of the most approved 
European pattern. They had been worried and 
alarmed before his arrival. Montresor's appearance soon made 
matters worse. Knowing little or nothing of the habits and 
feelings of the country, he enforced the new orders with more 
than common strictness, and supplemented them with some 
obnoxious regulations of his own. An order had been issued 
just before his arrival forbidding the Sipahi to leave his Guard 
and to divest himself of his uniform during his period of duty ; 
and now the new English commandant prohibited the beating 
of tam-tams in the bazaars. It was not seen that these pro- 
hibitions were, in effect, orders that the Hindu Sipahi should 
take no sustenance on duty, and that there should be no 
marriage and no funeral processions. When the discovery was 
made, the new local regulations were rescinded ; but it was not 
possible to rescind the mischief that was done. There was a 
profound conviction among the Sipahis that it was the intention 
of the English to destroy their caste, to break down their 
religion, and forcibly to convert them to Christianity. And all 
through the long straggling lines of Haidarabad there was a 
continual buzz of alarm, and the Sipahis were asking each other 
if they had heard how the English General, Weinyss Sahib, at 
Colombo, had marched his native soldiers to church.* 

* " It is astonishing how strong and how general the impression was of a 
systematic design to enforce the conversion of the Sipahis to Christianity. 
1'he men here heard, and talked of the late arrival of some clergymen from 
England, and of the story of General Wemyss marching the Sipahi9 to 
church at Colombo." — Captain Thomas Sydenham (Resident at Haidarabad) 
to Mr. Edmonstone, July 27, 1806. MS. Correspondence. 


That the feeling of mingled fear and resentment, which had 
taken possession of the minds of the soldiery, was much 
fomented by emissaries from the city of Haidarabad, is not to 
be doubted. Many leading men, discontented and desperate, at 
all times prone to intrigue and ripe for rebellion, looked eagerly 
for a crisis out of which might have come some profit to them- 
selves. It is probable that they were in communication with 
dependents of the House of Tipu. It is certain that they 
fostered the resentments and stimulated the ambition of the 
native officers, and that a programme of action had been agreed 
upon, of which murder and massacre were the prelude.* But 
happily the Nizam and his minister, Mir A'lam — the one in word, 
the other in spirit — were true to the English alliance. Wisely, 
in that conjuncture, did Sydenham confide all his troubles to 
them. It is a sad necessity to be compelled to communicate to 
a native Prince the belief of the English Government that their 
troops are not to be trusted. But concealment in such a case is 
impossible, and any attempt to diguise the truth helps others to 
exaggerate and to distort it. The Nizam knew all that had 
been going on, perhaps before the British Resident had even a 
suspicion of it. Eager for his support, and willing to raise the 
standard of revolt in his name, the conspirators had conveyed to 
him a written paper signifying their wishes. He did not answer 
it. He did not give it to the Resident. He simply waited and 
did nothing. It was not in the nature of the man to do more. 
He knew the power of the English ; but he secretly hated them, 
and naturally shrank from opposing or betraying a cause which 
appealed to him in the name of his religion. Perhaps it is 
hardly fair to expect from a native Prince, under such conflict- 
ing circumstances, more than this negative support. 

The feeling among the native troops was so strong, the 
danger appeared to be so imminent, that Montresor was 
besought by some old Sipahi officers not to enforce the 
obnoxious regulations. But he replied that he had been 

* Captain Sydenham wrote that, from the best information he could obtain 
at Haidarabad, it appeared that " the native troops had been invited to desert 
their colours, to break out in open mutiny, and to murder their officers. It 
was intended that a commotion should have taken place in the city at the 
moment of the insurrection in cantonments; that Mir A'lam, and all those in 
the interests of the English, were to be destroyed ; that the Subahdar 
(Nizam) was to be confined, and Earidiim Jah either made Diwan or placed 
on the masnad, as circumstances might suggest." — MS. Correspondence. 


selected for that especial command as a fitting agent for their 
enforcement, and how could he turn his back upon his duty? 
But when tidings of the massacre at Vellur reached Haidarabad, 
he saw at once that concession must be made to the prejudices 
of the Sipahi, and the orders were revoked in anticipation of 

instructions from the Madras Government. Still 
uy22, 1806. ^ e ^. ro0 p S were no t satisfied. Having gained one 
victory they determined to attempt another. So they fell back 
upon the old grievance of the leather stock, and the men of 
some of the battalions, encouraged by their native officers, were 
seen disencumbering themselves of this article of their uniform 
on parade, and casting it contemptuously on the ground. A 
display of vigour at the right time crushed the mutiny ere it 
was matured. On the 14th of August, the troops at Haidarabad 

were ordered under arms. The English regiment 
H.M.'8 33rd was posted near the park of artillery, and the 

cavalry were drawn up en potence on both flanks. 
Then four Subahdars of Native Infantry, who were believed 
to be the ringleaders in the mutinous movement, were called to 
the front and marched off under a guard of thirty Europeans 
and a company of Sipahis. Under this escort they were sent to 
Machlipatan. This movement had the best possible effect both 
in the cantonment and in the city. Mutiny was awe-struck ; 
sedition was paralysed ; conciliatory explanations and addresses, 
which had before failed, were now crowned with success, and 
early in the following month Sydenham wrote from Haiderabad 
that everything was " perfectly tranquil, both in the city and 
the cantonments." " The Sipahis," it added, " appear cheerful 
and contented, and the Government goes on with considerable 
vigour and regularity." 

But ere long the anxieties of the Government again turned 
towards the old quarter. It was clear that, in the former 
domains of the Sultan, the fire, though suppressed fur a time, 
had not been extinguished. At Nandidrug, in the heart of the 
Maisur territory, there had been symptoms of uneasiness from the 
commencement of the year. The native troops were 
Nandidrug. ^ ew . ^^ ^ )e f or ^ resSj built upon a high scarped rock, 

was one of uncommon strength, and, well defended, might have 
defied attack. In itself, therefore, a coveted possession for the 
rebel force, it was rendered doubly important by its position. 
For it was within a night's march of the great station of 
Bangalur, and the mutineers from that post would have flocked 


to it as a rallying-point and a stronghold, admirably suited for 
the Head-Quarters of Rebellion.* The influences, therefore, of 
which I have spoken — the fakirs, the conjurors, the puppet- 
showmen, the propagators of strange prophecies — were more 
than commonly operative in that direction, and had success 
attended the first outbreak at Velliir, the Nandidrug garrison 
would then have turned upon their officers, hoisted the rebel flag 
on the walls of the Fort, and displayed signals which might 
have been seen at Bangalur. But a season of suspended 
activity naturally followed this failure ; and it was not until 
the mouth of October that they ventured to resolve on any open 
demonstration. Then the Muhammadan and Hindu Sipahis 
feasted together, bound themselves by solemn engagements to 
act as brethren in a common cause, and swore that they would 
rise against and massacre their English officers. 

The day and the hour of the butchery were fixed. The 
native soldiery had quietly sent their families out 
of the Fort, and otherwise prepared for the struggle.f Oct ° s b e 6 r _ 18> 
Two hours before midnight on the 18th of October 
the Sipahis were to have rushed upon their English officers, 
and not left a white man living in the place. But about eight 
o'clock on that evening an English officer galloped t Ba „ s 
up to the house of the Commandant Cuppage, and 
told him that no time was to be lost ; that the Sipahis were on 
the point of rising, and that means of safety must at once be 
sought. Scarce had the story been told, when an old and 
distinguished native officer came breathless with the same 
intelligence. There was no room for doubt ; no time for delay. 
An express, calling for reinforcements, was despatched to 
Bangalur ; and the officers, selecting one of their houses in the 
Pagoda-square, which seemed best adapted to purposes of 
defence, took post together and waited the issue. The night 

* Mark Wilks wrote to Barry Close, with reference to this movement at 
Nandidrug: "I do not know what to make of all this; men who had any 
great combination in view could scarcely have any design to act on so small 
a scale." But Bany Close, taking a more comprehensive view, replied: 
" The great object of the Insurgents at Vellure seems to have been to secure 
to themselves a strong post on which to assemble in force. Cuppage's 
garrison, though small, may have liad it in view to seize on Nandidrug. 
Possessed of this strong post, the conspirators would have probably assembled 
upon it in force, and proceeded to act against us openly." — MS. Correspond- 

f Colonel Cuppage to Barry Close. — MS. Correspondence. 


passed without an attack ; and on the morrow afternoon safety 
came in the shape of a squadron of Dragoons from Bangalur. 
Colonel Davis had received the tidings soon after daybreak, 
and by three o'clock his troopers were clattering into 

November came, and with it came new troubles. Far down 
the coast, not many leagues removed from the 
southernmost part of the Peninsula, lies the station 
of Paliamkotta. There Major Welsh, with six European officers 
under him, commanded a Sipahi battalion, in which many 
relatives of the mutineers cut up at Vellur were brooding over 
their loss of kindred. Towai'ds the end of the third week 
of the month, it was believed that the Muhammadan Sipahis 
were about to rise and massacre all the Europeans in the place. 
The story ran that, rejecting with contempt the idea of banding 
themselves with the Hindus, they had met at a mosque and 
concerted their murderous plans. Some buildings were to be 
fired in the cantoment to draw the English officers from theii 
homes. In the confusion, the whole were to be slain, the Port 
was to be seized, and the rebel flag hoisted on the ramparts. 
Scenting the plot, a Malabar-man went to the mosque in 
disguise, and carried tidings of it to the English Commandant. 
The danger appeared to be imminent, and Welsh at once took 
his measures to avert it. Whatever may have been the 
judgment and discretion of the man, his courage and determina- 
tion were conspicuous ; and his comrades were of the same 
temper. Assuming the bold, intrepid front, which has so 
often been known to overawe multitudes, this little handful of 
undaunted Englishmen seized and confined thirteen native 
officers, and turned five hundred Musulman Sipahis out of the 
Fort. That they were able to accomplish this, even with the 
support of the Hindus, was declared to be a proof that no 
desperate measures had really been designed. But the prema- 
ture explosion of a plot of this kind always creates a panic. 
In a state of fear and surprise, men are not capable of reasoning. 
There is a vague impression that boldness presages power; 
that there is something behind the imposing front. A single 
man has ere now routed a whole garrison. I am not sure, 
therefore, that there was no danger, because it was so easily 
trodden oitt. 

Two days afterwards Colonel Dyce, who commanded the 
district of Tinniveli, threw himself into Paliamkotta ; assembled 

1806.] FATE OF MAJOR WELSH. 175 

the Hindu troops ; told them that he had come there to maintain 
the authority of the Company, or to die in the defence of the 
colours which he had sworn to protect. He then called upon 
those who were of the same mind to approach the British flag 
for the same purpose, but if not to depart in peace. They went 
up and took the oath to a man, presented arms to the colours, 
gave three unbidden cheers in earnest of their unshaken 
loyalty, and fell in as on a muster-parade. 

On the first appearance of danger, Welsh had despatched a 
letter by a country-boat to Ceylon, calling for European troops, 
and the call was responded to with an alacrity beyond all 
praise. But so effectual were the measures which had been 
already adopted, or so little of real danger had there been, that 
when the succour which had been sent for arrived from 
Trichinapali, the alarm had passed, and the work was done. 

Told as I have told this story — a simple recital of facts, as 
written down in contemporary correspondence — it would appear 
to afford an instructive example of promptitude and vigour. 
But this is not the only lesson to be learnt from it. It is more 
instructive still to note that Major Welsh was severely con- 
demned as an alarmist, the tendency of whose precipitate action 
was to destroy confidence and to create irritation. Another 
officer,* who, apprehending danger, had disarmed his regiment 
as a precaution, was denounced with still greater veheinence.j 
Apprehensions of this kind were described as "disgraceful and 
groundless panics "; and political officers chuckled to think that 
it was proposed at Madras to remove from their commands and 
to bring to Courts-Martial the officers who had considered it 
their duty not to wait to be attacked.^ With these lessons 

* Lieutenant-Colonel Grant. 

t I find this fact recorded in the correspondence of the day with three 
notes of exclamation : " "With regard to Colonel Grant," wrote Major Wilks 
from Maisur, " it appears that he disarmed his troops simply as a measure of 
precaution ! ! ! Whether we are in danger from our own misconduct, or from 
worse causes, the danger is great. ... I conclude that Chalmers will be 
sent to supersede Grant, and Vesey to Paliamkotta, and my best hope is 
that there will be found sufficient grounds for turning Welsh and Grant out 
of the service, but this will not restore the confidence of the Sipahis." — 
MS. Correspondence. Grant's conduct was at once repudiated in a general 
order, and he and Welsh ordered for Court-Martial. Both were honourably 

X Many years after the occurrence of these events, Major, then Colonel 
Welsh, published two volumes of Military Reminiscences. Turning to these 


before us, we cannot wonder that men, in such conjunctures, 
should hesitate to strike the blow which any one may declare 
uncalled-for, and the wisdom of which no one can prove — should 
pause to consider whether they are more likely to develop the 
evil by an assertion of strength, or to encourage its growth by 
the feebleness of inaction.* 

But it was plain that, whatsoever might be the wisest course 
w i • h'MH * n sucn a conjuncture, the Government of Lord 
William Bentinck was all in favour of the milder 
and more sedative mode of treatment. In remarkable contrast 
to the manner in which the symptoms of coming mutiny were 
grappled with at Paliamkotta stands the story of Walajahabad. 
borne of the earliest signs of disaffection, on the score of the 
turban, had manifested themselves at that place ; and Gillespie, 
with his dragoons, had been despatched thither at the end of 
July, not without a murmur of discontent at the thought of his 
" poor hard-worked fellows " being sent to counteract what, 
appeared to him a doubtful danger. It was believed, however, 
that the uneasiness had passed away, and for some months 
there had been apparent tranquillity. But in November the 
alarm began to revive ; and a detailed statement of various 
indications of a coming outbreak, drawn up by Major Hazlewood, 
was sent to the authorities. On the morning of the 2nd of 
December the members of the Madras Government met in 

for some account of the affair at Paliamkotta, I was disappointed to find only 
the following scanty notice of it : " Towards the end of the year an event 
took place, which, although injurious to my own prospects and fortune, 
under the signal blessing of Providence terminated fortunately. Time has 
now spread his oblivious wings over the whole occurrence, and I will not 
attempt to remove the veil." 

* The difficulties of the English officer at that time were thus described 
by a contemporary writer, in a passage which I have chanced upon since the 
above was written : "The massacre at Vellur had naturally created a great 
degree of mistrust between the European officers and the Sipahis throughout 
the Army; and the indecision of measures at Head -Quarters seemed further 
to strengthen this mistrust. If an officer took no precautionary measures on 
receiving information of an intended plot, he was liable to the severest 
censure, as well as responsible for his own and the lives of his European 
officers. On the contrary, if he took precautionary measures he was accused 
of creating unnecessary distrust ; and equally censured for being premature 
and not allowing the mutiny to go on till satisfactorily proved, when it would 
have been too late to prevent." — Strictures on the present Government of 
India, &c. In a Letter from an Officer resident on the spot. Trichimipali, 
1807; London, 1808. 


Council. Hazlewood's statement was laid before them and 
gravely discussed ; but with, no definite result. The Council 
broke up without a decision, but only to meet again, refreshed 
by the sea-breeze and the evening ride. Then it was resolved 
that a discreet officer, in the confidence of Government, 
should be sent to Walajahabad to inquire into and report on 
the state of affairs ; and on the same evening Colonel Munro, 
the Quarterma.ster-General, received his instructions, and pre- 
pared to depart. The event appeared to justify this cautious 
line of aclion ; but one shudders to think what might have 
happened at Walajahabad whilst Government were deliberating 
over written statements of danger, and drafting instructions 
for a Staff Officer in the Council-Chamber of Madras. 

Six months had now passed since the Madras Government 
had been made acquainted with the state of feeling 
in the Native Army, and understood that a vague 
apprehension of the destruction of caste and of " forcible con- 
version to Christianity " had been one of the chief causes of the 
prevailing disquietude. The obnoxious regulations had been 
abandoned, but this was a concession obviously extorted from 
fear ; and nothing had yet been done to reassure the minds of 
the soldiery by a kindly paternal address to them from the 
fountain-head of the local Government. But at last Bentinck 
and his colleagues awoke to a sense of the plain and palpable 
duty which lay before them ; and at this Council of the 2nd 
of December a Proclamation was agreed upon, and on the 
following day issued, which, translated into the Hindustani, 
the Tamil, and Telugu dialects, was sent to every native 
battalion in the Army, with orders to commanding officers to 
make its contents known to every native officer and Sipahi 
under their command. After adverting to the extraordinary 
agitation that had for some time prevailed in the Coast Army, 
and the reports spread for malicious purposes, by persons of 
evil intention, that it was the design of the British Government 
to convert the troops by forcible means to Christianity, the 
Proclamation proceeded to declare that the constant kindness 
and liberality at all times shown to the Sipahi should convince 
him of the happiness of his situation, " greater than what the 
troops of any other part of the world enjoy," and induce him to 
return to the good conduct for which he had been distinguished 
in the days of Lawrence and Coote, and " other renowned 
heroes." If they would not, they would learn that the British 

vol. i. » 


Government " is not less prepared to punish the guilty than to 
protect and distinguish those who are deserving of its favour." 
But this was something more than the truth. The British 
Government did not show itself, in this conjuncture, to he 
" prepared to punish the guilty " in a manner proportionate 
to the measure of their offences. Lord AVilliam Bentinck and 
his Councillors were all for clemency. Sir John Cradock 
counselled the adoption of more vigorous punitory measures, 
and the Supreme Government were disposed to support the 
military chief. Something of a compromise then ensued, the 
result of which was a very moderate instalment of the retribu- 
tion which was justly due. A few only of the most guilty of 
the murderers were executed ; whilst others, clearly convicted 
of taking part in the sanguinary revolt, were merely dismissed 
the service. And if it had not heen for the overruling authority 
of the Government at Calcutta — that is, of Sir George Barlow, 
with Mr. Edmonstone at his elbow* — the numbers of the 
assassin-battalions would not have been erased from the Army 
List. But penal measures did not end here. The higher 
tribunals of the Home Government condemned the chief 
authorities of Madras, and, justly or unjustly, the Governor, 
the Commander-in-Chief, and the Adjutant-General were 
summarily removed from office. 

The mutiny died out with the old year ; the active danger 

was passed ; but it left behind it a flood of bitter 

Alleged causts controversy which did not readily subside. What 

of the was the cause of the revolt ? Whose fault was it ? 

Was it a mere military mutiny, the growth of 
internal irritation, or was it a political movement fomented by 
agitators from without? The controversialists on both sides 
were partly wrong and partly right — wrong in their denials, 
right in their assertions. It is difficult in such a case to put 
together in proper sequence all the links of a great chain of 

* Many years afterwards, Sir George Barlow gracefully acknowledged the 
valuable assistance which, in this conjuncture, Mr. Edmonstone had ren- 
dered to him, saying that his "unshaken firmness and resolution in times of 
internal difficulty and danger'' were "signally displayed on the discovery of 
the conspiracy formed at Vellur." " His wise and steady counsel," added 
Barlow, " afforded me important aid and support in carrying into effect the 
measures necessary for counteracting the impressions made by that alarming 
event, which threatened the most serious consequences to the security of our 
power." — MS. Document*. 


events terminating even in an incident of yesterday, so little do 
we know of what is stirring in the occult heart of native 
society. After a lapse of half a century it is impossible. 
There is often in the Simultaneous, the Coincidental, an 
apparent uniformity of tendency, which simulates design, but 
which, so far as human agency is concerned, is wholly for- 
tuitous. We see this in the commonest concerns of life. We 
see it in events affecting mightily the destinies of empires. 
Under a pressure of concurrent annoyances and vexations, men 
often cry out that there is a conspiracy against them, and the 
historical inquirer often sees a conspiracy when in reality there 
is only a coincidence. A great disaster, like the massacre at 
Vellur, acts like iodine upon hidden writings in rice-water. 
Suddenly is proclaimed to us in all its significance what has 
long been written down on the page of the Past, but which, 
for want of the revealing agent, has hitherto lain illegibly 
before us. Doubtless, many hidden things were disclosed to us 
at this time ; but whether they were peculiar to the crisis or of 
a normal character, at any period discernible had we taken 
proper steps to develop them, was matter of grave dispute. 
The political officers, headed by Mark Wilks, the historian of 
Southern India, who was then representing British interests 
in Maisur, laughed to scorn the discoveries of the military 
officers, and said that the things which they spoke of as so 
portentous were in reality only phenomena of every-day 
appearance, familiar to men acquainted with the feelings and 
habits of the people. He derided all that had been said about 
seditious conversations in the Bazaars and the Lines, the wild 
prophecies and mysterious hints of wandering Fakirs, and the 
suggestive devices of the puppet-shows.* There was nothing 
in all this, he contended, of an exceptional character, to be 
regarded as the harbingers of mutiny and massacre. And his 
arguments culminated in the chuckling assertion that the 
military authorities had discovered a cabalistic document of a 
most treasonable character, which appeared to their excited 
imaginations to be a plan for partitioning the territory to be 
wrested from the English, but which, in reality, was nothing 

* There were two subjects which the Kutputli- Wdlas extremely delighted 
to illustrate— the degradation of the Mughul, and the victories of the French 
over the English, the one intended to excite hatred, the other contempt, in 
the minds of the spectators. 

N 2 


more portentous than the scribblentent of the Dervesh Bazi, or 
" royal game of goose." 

With equal confidence on the other hand, the military 
authorities protested that the new regulations had nothing to 
do with the mutiny — that it was altogether a political move- 
ment. The new cap, they said, had been accepted and worn 
by the Sipahis. Three representative men, types of the prin- 
cipal nationalities composing the Coast Army, had signified 
their satisfaction with the new head-dress, and one or two 
regiments en masse had been paraded in it without a murmur. 
The fact, they alleged, was that the movement had emanated 
solely from the deposed family of Tipu Sultan; that its object 
was to restore, in the first instance, the Muhammadan dynasty 
in Southern India, and eventually to recover the imperial 
throne for the Mughul. If proper precautions had been taken 
by Government — if Tipu's family, eager for a taste of blood, 
had not been left to disport themselves at will in Vellur — if 
they had not been gorged with money, and attended by count- 
less Musulman followers eager to recover the posts and the 
privileges which they had lost, there would, said the military 
leaders, have been no massacre and no mutiny and, some said, 
not even a murmur of discontent. But the military critic was 
as wrong as the political, and for the same reason. Each was 
blinded by professional interests and professional prejudices. 
Each argued in self-defence. The truth, as it commonly does 
in such cases, lay midway between the two extremes. But for 
the intrigues of Tipu's family there would have been no out- 
break at that time, and but for the new military regulations 
they might have intrigued in vain. It so happened that the 
political and military influences were adverse to us at the same 
moment, and that from the conjuncture arose the event known 
in history as the Massacre of Vellur, but which was in reality 
a much more extensive military combination, prevented only 
by repeated local failures from swelling into the dimensions of 
a general revolt of the Coast Army. 

Nor is it to be forgotten that there was a third party, which 
attributed the calamity less to political and to military causes 
than to the general uneasiness which had taken possession of 
the native mind in consequence of the supposed activity of 
Christian missionaries and of certain " missionary chaplains." 
The dread of a general destruction of Caste and forcible con- 
version to Christianity was not confined to the Sipahis. The 

1807.] LYING RUMOUKS. 181 

most preposterous stories were current in the Bazaars. Among 
other wild fables, which took firm hold of the popular mind, 
was one to the effect that the Company's officers had collected 
all the newly-manufactured salt, had divided it into two great 
heaps, and over one had sprinkled the blood of hogs, and over 
the other the blood of cows ; that they had then sent it to be 
sold throughout the country for the pollution and the desecra- 
tion of Muhammadans and Hindus, that all might be brought 
to one caste and to one religion like the English. When this 
absurd story was circulated, some ceased altogether to eat salt, 
and some purchased, at high prices, and carefully stored away, 
supplies of the necessary article, guaranteed to have been in 
the Bazaars before the atrocious act of the Faringhis had been 
committed. Another story was that the Collector of Trinkomali 
had, under the orders of Government, laid the foundation of a 
Christian Church in his district close to the great Pagoda of 
the Hindus; that he had collected all the stone-cutters and 
builders in the neighbourhood ; that he was taxing every 
household for the payment of the cost of the building ; that he 
had forbidden all ingress to the Pagoda, and all worshipping of 
idols; and that to all complaints on the subject he had replied 
that there was nothing extraordinary in what he was doing, as 
Government had ordered a similar building to be erected in 
every town and every village in the country. In India, stories 
of this kind are readily believed. The grosser the lie, the more 
eagerly it is devoured.* They are circulated by designing 
persons with a certainty that they will not be lost. That the 
excitement of religious alarm was the principal means by which 
the enemies of the British Government hoped to accomplish 

* Not immediately illustrating this point of inquiry, but even more pre- 
posterous in itself than the rumours cited in the text, was a story which was 
circulated at Haidarabad. It was stated that an oraclp in the neighbouring 
Pagoda had declared that there was considerable treasure at the bottom of a 
well in the European barracks, which was destined not to be discovered until 
a certain number of human heads had been offered up to the tutelar deity of 
the place ; and that accordingly the European soldiers were sacrificing the 
necessary number of victims with all possible dispatch. It happened that the 
dead body of a native without a head was found near the Resiliency, and that 
a drunken European artilleryman, about the same time, attacked a native 
sentry at his post. These facts gave new wings to the report, and such was 
the alarm that the natives would not leave their homes or work after dark, 
and it was reported both to the Nizam and his minister that a hundred bodies 
without heads were lying on the banks of the Masai River. — Captain Syden- 
ham to the Government of India. MS. Records. 


their objects is certain ; but, if there had not been a foregone 
determination to excite this alarm, nothing in the actual 
progress of Christianity at that time would have done it. A 
comparison, indeed, between the religious status of the English 
in India and the wild stories of forcible conversion which were 
then circulated, seemed openly to give the lie to the malignant 
inventions of the enemy. There were no indications on the 
part of Government of any especial concern for the interests of 
Christianity, and among the officers of the Army there were so 
few external signs of religion, that the Sipahis scarcely knew 
whether they owned any faith at all.* But in a state of ] anic 
men do not pause to reason ; and, if at any time the doubt had 
been suggested, it would have been astutely answered that the 
English gentlemen cared only to destroy the religions of the 
country, and to make the people all of one or of no caste, in 
order that they might make their soldiers and servants do 
everything they wished. 

The authoritative judgment of a Special Commission ap- 
pointed to investigate the causes of the out- 
Views of the break confirmed the views of the more moderate 
Government, section of the community, which recognised, not 
one, but many disturbing agencies ; and the Home 
Government accepted the interpretation in a candid and im- 
partial spirit. That " the late innovations as to the dress 
and appearance of the Sipahis were the leading cause of the 
mutiny, and the other was the residence of the family of the late 
Tipu Sultan at Vellur," was, doubtless, true as far as it went. 
But the merchant-rulers of Leadenhall-street were disposed to 
sound the lower depths of the difficulty. Those were not days 
when the numerous urgent claims of the Present imperatively 
forbade the elaborate investigation of the Past. So the Directors 
began seriously to consider what had been the more remote 
predisposing causes of the almost general disaffection of the 
Coast Army. And the " Chairs," in a masterly letter to Mr. 
Dundas, freighted with the solid intelligence of Charles Grant, 
declared their conviction that the general decline of the fidelity 

* Sir John Cradoek said, after the occurrence of these events, that "from 
the total absence of religious establishments in the interior of the country, 
from the habits of life prevalent among military men, it is a mela icholy 
truth, that so unfrequent are the religious observances of officers doing duty 
with battalions, that the Sipahis have not, until very lately, discovered the 
nature of the religion professed by the English." 


of the Army and of the attachment of the People to British 
rule, was to be traced to the fact that a new class of men, with 
little knowledge of India, little interest in its inhabitants, and 
little toleration for their prejudices, had begun to monopolise the 
chief seats in the Government and the chief posts in the Army ; 
that the annexations of Lord Wellesley had beggared the old 
Muhammadau families, and had shaken the belief of the people 
in British moderation and good faith ; and that the whole 
tendency of the existing system was to promote the intrusion of 
a rampant Englishism, and thus to widen the gulf between the 
Rulers and the Ruled.* 

* The Chairman and Deputy-Chairman of the East India Comrnny 
(Mr. Parry and Mr. Grant) to the President of the Board of Control (Mr, 
Dundas).— May 18, 1S07. MS. Records. 



It was not strange that, for some time after the occurrence of 
these events in the Coast Army, the English in Southern 
India should have been possessed by a common sense of an^er, 
and that this feeling should have spread to some other parts 
of the country. For a while the white man saw a conspirator 
beneath the folds of every turban, and a conspiracy in every 
group of people talking by tlie wayside. In every laugh there 
was an insult, and in every shrug there was a menace. English 
officers pillowed their heads on loaded fire-arms, and fondled 
the hilts of their swords as they slept. But gradually they 
lived down the sensitiveness that so distressed them. Other 
thoughts and feelings took possession of the bungalow ; other 
subjects were dominant in the mess-room. And ere long a 

new grievance came to supersede an old danger ; 

Mutiny of and the officers of the Madras Army forgot the re- 

a r i«o9. te ' s 'bellion of the Sipabis as they incubated a rebellion 

of their own. How the mutiny of the officers grew 
out of the mutiny of the men of the Coast Army, it would not be 
difficult to show; but the chapter of Indian history which 
includes the former need not be re-written here. The objects 
for which the officers contended were altogether remote from 
the interests and sympathies of the Sipahis ; and although the 
latter, in ignorance, might at first have followed their com- 
manders, it is not probable tbat they would have continued to 
cast in their lot with the mutineers, after the true character of 
the movement had been explained to them, and an appeal made 
to their fidelity by the State. But they were not unobservant 
spectators of that unseemly strife ; and the impression made 
upon the Sipahi's mind by this spectacle of disunion must have 
been of a most injurious kind. There is nothing so essential to 
the permanence of that Opinion, on which we so much rely, as 
a prevailing sense tbat the English in India are not Many but 


Nor was it strange that, after these unfortunate events, the 
fame of which went abroad throughout the whole country, 
there should have been for a little space less eagerness than 
before to enlist into the service of the Company. But the re- 
luctance passed away under the soothing influence of time. In 
the prompt and regular issue of pay, and in the pensions, 
which had all the security of funded property, there were 
attractions, unknown to Asiatic armies, not easily to be resisted. 
And there were other privileges, equally dear to the people of the 
country, which lured them by thousands into the ranks of the 
Company's Army. As soon as his name was on the muster-roll, 
the Sipahi, and through him all the members of his family, 
passed under the special protection of the State. 

It is difficult to conceive two conditions of life more dissimilar 
in their social aspects than soldiering in India and 
soldiering in England. In England few men enlist Th s e ol d°f r lish 
into the Army as an honourable profession, or 
seek it as an advantageous source of subsistence. Few men 
enter it with any high hopes or any pleasurable emotions. 
The recruit has commonly broken down as a civilian. Of 
ruined fortune and bankrupt reputation, he is tempted, 
cheated, snared into the Army. Lying placards on the walls, 
lying words in the pot-house, the gaudy ribbons of Sergeant 
Kite, the drum and the fife and the strong drink, captivate 
and enthral him when he is not master of himself. He has 
quarrelled with his sweetheart or robbed his employer. He 
has exhausted the patience of his own people, and the outer 
world has turned its back upon him. And so he goes for a 
soldier. As soon as he has taken the shilling, he has gone right 
out of the family circle and out of the circle of civil life. He is 
a thousandth part of a regiment of the Line. Perhaps he has 
changed his name and stripped himself of his personal identity. 
Anyhow, he is as one dead. Little more is heard of him ; and 
unless it be some doting old mother, who best loves the blackest 
sheep of the flock, nobody much wishes to hear. It is often, 
indeed, no greater source of pride to an English family to know 
that one of its members is serving the Queen, in the ranks of 
her Army, than to know that one is provided for, as a convict, 
at the national expense. 

But the native soldier of India was altogether T g e ,l" dian 
of a different kind. When he became a soldier, 
he did not cease to be a civilian. He severed no family 


ties ; he abandoned no civil rights. He was not the outcast, 
but the stay and pride of his house. He visited his home at 
stated times. He remitted to it a large part of his pay. It was 
a decorous boast in many families that generation after genera- 
tion had eaten the Company's salt. Often, indeed, in one 
household you might see the Past, the Present, and the Future 
of this coveted military service. There was the ancient pen- 
sioner under the shade of the banyan-tree in his native village, 
who had stories to tell of Lawrence, Coote, and Medows ; of 
battles fought with the French ; of the long war with Haidar 
and the later struggles with his son. There was the Sipahi, on 
furlough from active service, in the prime of his life, who had 
lii's stories also to tell of " the great Lord's brother," the younger 
Wellesley, of Harris and Baird, perhaps of " Bikrum 
Abercrombie g dll ib " and Egypt, and how "Lick Sahib," the 

and Lake. »«' f ' . . 

fine old man, when provisions were scarce in 
the camp, had ridden through the lines, eating dried pulse 
for his dinner. And there was the bright-eyed, supple- 
limbed, quick-witted boy, who looked forward with eager ex- 
pectancy to the time when he would be permitted to take 
his father's place, and serve under some noted leader. It 
was no fond delusion, no trick of our self-love, to believe in 
such pictures as this. The Company's Sipahis had a genuine 
pride in their colours, and the classes from which they 
were drawn rejoiced in their connection with the paramount 
State. It was honourable service, sought by the very flower of 
the people, and to be dismissed from it was a heavy punishment 
and a sore disgrace. 

Strong as were these ties, the people were bound to the mili- 
tary service of the Company by the still stronger ties of self- 
interest. For not only were the Sipahis, as has been 
a ' u h pr j,T u ^. es said, well cared for as soldiers — well paid and well 
pensioned — but, as civilians, they had large privi- 
leges which others did not enjoy. Many of them, belonging to 
the lesser yeomanry of the country, were possessors of, or share- 
holders in, small landed estates ; and, thus endowed, they re- 
joiced greatly in a regulation which gave the Sipahi on furlough 
a right to be heard before other suitors in our civil courts.* 

* This was a part only of the civil privileges enjoyed by the native soldier. 
Sir Jasper Nicolls, in his evidence before the Parliamentary Committee of 
1832, said that the withdrawal of these privileges had been regarded as an 
especial grievance by the Sipahis — but I have failed to discover that they 


In a country whose people are inordinately given to liti- 
gation, and where justice is commonly slow-paced, this was 
so prodigious a boon, that entrance to the service was often 
sought for the express purpose of securing this valuable 
precedence, and the soldier-member of the family thus became 
the representative of his whole house. In this connection of the 
si ildiery with hereditary rights in the soil, there was an 
additional guarantee for his loyalty and good conduct. He was 
not merely a soldier— a component unit of number two company, 
third file from the right; he was an important member of 
society, a distinct individuality in his native village no less than 
in his cantonment Lines. He retained his self-respect and the 
respect of others; and had a personal interest in the stability 
of the Government under which his rights were secured. 

And whilst these extraneous advantages were attached to his 
position as a soldier of the Company, there was nothing inherent 
in the service itself to render it distasteful to him. 
His officers were aliens of another colour and another T ¥. Sl / ?£ hi and 

_.. . his Officer. 

creed ; but the Hindu was accustomed to foreign 
supremacy, and the Muhammadan, profoundly impressed with 
the mutabilities of fortune, bowed himself to the stern neces- 
sities of fate. As long as the Sipahi respected the personal 
qualities of the English officer, and the English officer felt a 
personal attachment for the Sipahi, the relations between them 
were in no degree marred by any considerations of difference of 
race. There was a strong sense of comradeship between them, 
which atoned for the absence of other ties. The accidental 
severance of which I have spoken was but short-lived.* In that 
first quarter of the present century, which saw so much hard 
fighting in the field, the heart of the Sipahi officer again turned 

ever were withdrawn. [Note by Editor. — They were withdrawn from the 
regulation provinces, but not from Oudh, the home of the great majority of 
the Sipahis, until after the annexation of that country by the British. It "was 
this very withdrawal that tended greatly to incense the Sipahis against their 
masters. — G. B. M.] 

* There had certainly been, before the mutiny in Southern India, a very 
culpable want of kindly consideration on the part of our English officers for 
the native officers and men of the Sipahi army. In the letter, written by the 
Chairman and Deputy-Chairman of the East India Company, to Mr. Dundas, 
referred to above, this is alleged to have been one of the remote causes of the 
mutiny. It is stated that the English had ceased to offer chairs to their 
native officers when visited by them. A favourable reaction, however, seems 
afterwards to have set in. 

188 THE SIPlHI ARMY — ITS DECLINE. [1809-22. 

towards his men, and the men looked up and clung to him with 
a childlike confidence and affection. To command a company, 
and in due course, a regiment of Sipahis, was still held to be a 
worthy object of professional ambition. The regiment, in those 
days, was the officer's home, whether in camp, or cantonment, 
or on the line of march. There was but little looking beyond ; 
little hankering to leave it. To interest himself in the daily 
concerns of the Sipahis, to converse with them off parade, to enter 
into their feelings, to contribute to their comforts, were duties, 
the performance of which occupied his time, amused his mind, 
and yielded as much happiness to himself as it imparted to. 
others. There was, in truth, little to divert hi in from the 
business of his profession or to raise up a barrier between him 
and his men. Intercourse with Europe was rare and difficult. 
Neither the charms of English literature nor the attractions of 
English womanhood alienated his affections from the routine of 
military life, and made its details dull and dreary in his sight. 
He had subdued his habits, and very much his way of thinking, 
to the Orientalism by which he was surrounded. He was glad 
to welcome the native officer to his bungalow, to learn from him 
the news of the Lines and the gossip of the Bazaar, and to tell 
bim, in turn, what were the chances of another campaign and 
to what new station the regiment was likely to be moved at the 
approaching annual Belief. If there were any complaints in 
the regiments, the grievance was stated with freedom on the 
one side, and listened to with interest on the other. If tbe 
men were right, there was a remedy ; if they were wrong, 
there was an explanation. The Sipahi looked to his officer as 
to one who had both the power and the will to dispense ample 
justice to him. In every battalion, indeed, the men turned to 
their commandant as the depository of all their griefs, and 
the redresser of all their wrongs They called him their father, 
and he rejoiced to describe them as his " baba-log" — his babes. 
But in time the power was taken from him, und with the 
power went also the will. A variety of deterio- 
Progressof rating circumstances occurred — some the inevi- 
entra ma ion. ^^ e growth of British progress in the East, and 
gome the results of ignorance, thoughtlessness, or miscalculation 
on the part of the governing body. The power of the English 
officer was curtailed and his influence declined. The command 
of a regiment had once been something more than a name. 
The commanding officer could promote his men, could punish 

1822-35.] RELAXATION OF OLD TIES. 189 

his men, could dress thern and discipline them as he pleased. 
The different battalions were called after the commander who 
had first led them to victory, and they rejoiced to be so dis- 
tinguished. But, little by little, this power, by the absorbing 
action of progressive centralisation, was taken out of his hands ; 
and he who, supreme in his own little circle, had been now a 
patriarch and now a despot, shrivelled into the mouthpiece of 
the Adjutant-General's office and the instrument of Head- 
quarters. The decisions of the commanding officer were appealed 
against, and frequently set aside. In the emphatic language of 
the East, he was made to eat dirt in the presence of his men. 
The Sipahi, then, ceased to look up to him as the centre of his 
hopes and fears, and the commanding officer lost much of the 
interest which he before took in his men, when he know how 
much their happiness and comfort depended upon his individual 
acts, and how the discipline and good conduct of the corps were 
the reflection of his personal efficiency. 

And it happened that, about the same time, new objects of 
interest sprung up to render more complete the 
severance of the ties which had once bound the ^j^a ™ 
English officer to the native soldier. The second 
quarter of the nineteenth century in India was a period of pro- 
gressive reform. We reformed our Government and we reformed 
ourselves. Increased facilities of intercourse with Europe gave 
a more European complexion to Society. Knglish news, English 
books, above all, English gentlewomen, made their way freely 
and rapidly to India. The Overland Mail bringing news scarcely 
more than a month old of the last new European revolution ; 
the book-club yielding its stores of light literature as fresh as is 
coinmonhy obtained from circulating libraries at home ; and an 
avatar of fair young English maidens, with the bloom of the 
Western summer on their cheeks, yielded attractions beside 
which the gossip of the lines and the feeble garrulity of the 
old Subahdar were very dreary and fatiguing. Little by little 
the Sipahi officer shook out the loose folds of his Orientalism. 
Many had been wont, in the absence of other female society, to 
solace themselves with the charms of a dusky mate, and to 
spend much time in the recesses of the Zenana. Bad as it was, 
when tried in the crucible of Christian ethics, it was not without 
its military advantages. The English officer, so mated, learnt 
to speak the languages of the country, and to understand the 
habits and feelings of the people ; and he cherished a kindlier 


feeling for the native races than he would have done if no such 
alliances had been formed. But this custom passed away with 
the cause that produced it. The English wife displaced the 
native mistress. A new code of morals was recognised ; and 
the Zenana was proscribed. With the appearance of the English 
gentlewoman in the military cantonment there grew up a host 
of new interests and new excitements, and the regiment became 
a bore. 

Whilst these influences were sensibly weakening the attach- 
ment which had existed between the native soldier 
foment an< ^ kis English officer, another deteriorating agent 
was at work with still more fatal effect. The Staff 
was carrying off all the best officers, and unsettling the rest. 
As the red line of British Empire extended itself around new 
provinces, and the administrative business of the State was thus 
largely increased, there was a demand for more workmen than 
the Civil Service could supply, and the military establishment 
of the Company was, therefore, indented upon for officers to fill 
the numerous civil and political posts thus opened out before 
them. Extensive surveys were to be conducted, great public 
works were to be executed, new irregular regiments were to 
be raised, and territories not made subject to the " regulations " 
were, for the most part, to be administered by military men. 
More lucrative, and held to be more honourable than common 
regimental duty, these appointments were eagerly coveted by 
the officers of the Company's army. The temptation, indeed, 
was great. The means of marrying, of providing for a family, 
of securing a retreat to Europe before enfeebled by years or 
broken down by disease, were presented to the officer by this 
detached employment. And if these natural feelings were not 
paramount, there was the strong incentive of ambition or the 
purer desire to enter upon a career of more active utility. The 
number of officers with a regiment was thus reduced ; but 
numbers are not strength, and still fewer might have sufficed, 
if they had been a chosen few. But of those who remained 
some lived in a state of restless expectancy, others were sunk in 
sullen despair. It was not easy to find a Sipahi officer, pure 
and simple, with no aspirations beyond his regiment, cheerful, 
content, indeed proud of his position. All that was gone. The 
officer ceased to rejoice in his work, and the men saw his heart 
was not with them. 

There were some special circumstances, too, which at this 


time — during the administrations of Lord Amherst and Lord 
William Bentinck— tended to aggravate these deteriorating 
influences both upon the officers and the men of the Sipahi 
regiments. Since the subsidence of the spirit of disaffection, 
which had pervaded the Coast Army in 1806, there had been 
no obtrusive manifestations of discontent in the Sipahi's mind. 
He had done his duty faithfully and gallantly in the great wars, 
which Lord Hastings had conducted to a triumphant issue; but, 
when peace came again, he again, after a while, began to take 
stock of his troubles and to listen to strange reports. One more 
illustration may be drawn from Madras, before the Bengal Army 
claims a monopoly of the record. In the early spring of 1822, 
a paper was dropped in the Cavalry Lines of Arkat, setting 
forth that the followers of Muhammad, having 
been subjected to the power of the English, suffered Muhammadan 

J _ . . i i • -i • i i grievances. 

great hardships — that, being so subjected, then- 
prayers were not acceptable to the Almighty, and that, there- 
fore, in great numbers they were dying of cholera morbus — that 
the curse of God was upon them ; and that, therefore, it behoved 
them to make a great effort for the sake of their religion. There 
were countless Hindus and Musulmans between Arkat and 
Delhi. But the Europeans being few, it would be easy to slay 
the whole in one day. Let them but combine, and the result 
would be certain. There was no time, it said, to be lost. The 
English had taken all the Jaghirs and Inams of the people of 
the soil, and now they were about to deprive them of employ- 
ment. A number of European regiments had been called fur, 
and in the course of six months all the native battalions would 
be disbanded. Let, then, the senior Subakdar of each regi- 
ment instruct the other Subahdars, and let them instruct the 
Jamadars, and so on, till all the Sipahis were instructed, and 
the same being done at A r ellur, at Chitiir, at Madras, and other 
places, then, on a given signal, the whole should rise on one 
day. The day fixed was Sunday, the 17th of March. A Naik 
and ten Sipahis were to proceed at midnight to the house of 
each European, and kill him, without remorse, in his bed. This 
done, the regiments would be placed under the command of the 
native officers, and the Subahdars should have the pay of 
Colonels. It was always thus. It is always thus. A little 
for the Faith, and all for the Pocket. 

From whomsoever this paper may have emanated, the attempt 
to corrupt the Sipahis was a failure. It was picked up in the 


Lines of the 6th Cavalry, and another nearly resembling it 
was dropped in the Lines of the 8th —but both were carried 
at once to the commanding officer of the station. Colonel Foulis 
took his measures with promptitude and vigour. He assembled 
the regimental commanders, imparted to them the contents of 
the paper, and desired them to place themselves in communica- 
tion with the native officers whom they most trusted. Having 
done this, he wrote to the commandants of the several stations 
named in the paper. But they could see no signs of disaffection, 
and the appointed day passed by without even an audible 
murmur of discontent. But not many days afterwards, the 
Governor of Madras received by the post a letter 
^Munro 1 * 8 * n Hindustani, purporting to come from the prin- 
cipal native officers and Sipahis of the Army, 
setting forth the grievances under which they suffered as a 
body. The complaint was that all the wealth and all the 
honour went to the white Sirdars, especially to the civilians, 
whilst for the soldier there was nothing but labour and grief. 
" If we Sipahis take a country," they said, " by the sword, these 
whore-son cowardly civil Siidars enter that country and rule 
over it, and in a short time fill their coffers with money and go 
to Europe — but, if a Sipahi labour all his life, he is not five 
kaoris the better." Under the Muhammadan Government it 
had been different, for, when victories were gained, Jaghirs were 
given to the soldiers, and high offices distributed among them. 
But, under the Company, everything was given to the Civil 
Service. " A single Collector's peon has an authority and great- 
ness in the country which cannot be expressed. But that peon 
does not fight like a Sipahi." Such, in effect, was the plaint of 
the native soldiery, as conveyed to Governor Munro. It may 
have been the work of an individual, as might have been also 
the papers picked up in the lines of Arkat ; but it is certain 
that both documents expressed sentiments which may be sup- 
posed at all times to lie embedded in the Sipahi mind, and 
which need but little to bring them, fully developed, above the 

The relations between the English officer and the native 
soldier were better then than they had been sixteen years 
before. But these relations were sadly weakened, and a heavy 

* It was to this event that Sir Thomas Munro alfuded iu his remarkable 
minute on the dangers of a Free Press in India. 

1822-4.] WAR WITH BTJRMAH. 192 

blow was given to the discipline and efficiency of the Indian 
army, when, two years later, the military establishment of the 
Three Presidencies were reorganised. Then every 
regiment of two battalions became two separate The I ^° I r 1 ga " isa ' 
regiments, and the officers attached to the original 
corps were told off alternately to its two parts — " all the odd 
or uneven numbers," said the General Order, " to 
the first, and the even numbers to the second ; " 
by which process it happened that a large number of officers 
were detached from the men with whom they had been 
associated throughout many years of active service. The evil 
of this was clearly seen at the time, and a feeble compromise 
was attempted. " It is not intended," said the General Order, 
" that in carrying the present orders into effect, officers should 
be permanently removed from the particular battalion in which 
they may long have served and wished to remain, provided 
that by an interchange between officers standing the same 
number of removes from promotion, each could be retained in 
his particular battalion, and both are willing to make the 
exchange." In effect, this amounted to little or nothing, and 
a large number of officers drifted away from the battalions in 
which they had been /cared from boyhood, and strangers glided 
into their place. 

Bad as at any time must have been such a change as this, in 
its influence upon the morale of the Sipahi army, 
the evil was greatly enhanced by falling upon The Burmese 
evil times. The best preservative, and the best 
restorative of military spirit and discipline, is commonly a good 
stirring war. But the Sipahi, though not unwilling to fight, 
was somewhat dainty and capricious about his fighting ground. 
A battle-field in Hindustan or the Dakhin was to his taste ; but 
he was disquieted by the thought of serving in strange regions, 
of which he had heard only vague fables, beyond inaccessible 
mountain-ranges, or still more dreaded wildernesses of water. 
With the high-caste, fastidious Bengal Sipahi the war with 
Burmah was not, therefore, a popular war. The Madras 
Sipahi, more cosmopolitan and less nice, took readily to the 
transport vessel ; and a large part of the native force was 
drawn from the Coast Army. But some Bengal regiments 
were also needed to take part in the operations of the war, and 
then the system began to fail us. To transport troops by sea 
from Calcutta to Kan gun would have been an easy process. 

VOL. i. 


But the Bengal Sipahi had enlisted only for service in countries 
to which he could march ; to take ship was not in his bond. 
The regiments, therefore, were marched to the frontier station 
of Chatgaon, and there assembled for the landward invasion of 
the Burmese country. 

Without any apparent symptoms of discontent, some corps 
had already marched, when, in October, the in- 

The Mutiny at c ident occurred of which I am about to write, an 

Barrackpur. ... . . . , „ . . 

incident which created a most powerful sensation 
from one end of India to the other, and tended greatly to impair 
the loyalty and discipline of the Bengal Sipahi. The 47th 
Regiment had been warned for foreign service, and was waiting 
at Barrackpur, a few miles from the Presidency, whilst 
preparations were being made for its march in the cold weather. 
To wait is often to repent. Inactive in cantonments during 
the rainy season, and in daily intercourse with the men of 
other regiments, who had been warned for the same service, the 
47th, uninfluenced by any other external causes, would have 
lost any ardour which might have possessed them when first 
ordered to march against a barbarous enemy who had insulted 
their flag. But it happened that ominous tidings of disaster 
came to them from the theatre of war. The British troops had 
sustained a disaster at Bamu, the proportions of which had 
been grossly exaggerated in the recital, and it was believed 
that the Burmese, having cut up our battalions, or driven them 
into the sea, were sweeping on to the invasion of Bengal. The 
native newspapers bristled with alarming announcements of 
how the Commander-in-Chief had been killed in action and 
the Governor-General had poisoned himself in despair ; and 
1here was a belief throughout all the lower provinces of India 
that the rule of the Company was coming to an end. The 
fidelity of the Sipahi army requires the stimulus of continued 
success. Nothing tries it so fatally as disaster. When, there- 
fore, news came that the war had opened with a great failure, 
humilating to the British power, and all kinds of strange 
stories relating to the difficulties of the country to be traversed, 
the deadliness of the climate to be endured, and the prowess 
of the enemy to be encountered, forced their way into cir- 
culation in the Bazaars and in the Lines, the willingness which 
the Si pah is bad once shown to take part in the operations 
beyond the frontier began to subside, and they were eager to 
find a pretext for refusing to march on such hazardous service. 


And, unhappily, one was soon found. There was a scarcity of 
available carriage-cattle for the movement of the troops. 
Neither bullocks nor drivers were to be hired, and fabulous 
prices were demanded from purchasers for wretched starvelings 
not equal to a day's journey. For the use of the regiments 
which had already marched, Bengal had been well-nigh swept 
out, and the reports which had since arrived rendered it 
difficult to persuade men voluntarily to accompany as camp- 
followers an expedition fraught with such peculiar perils. All 
the efforts of the Commissariat failed to obtain the required 
supply of cattle ; and so the Sipahis were told to supply 
themselves. In this conjuncture, it would seem that a new lie 
was circulated through the Lines of Barrackpur. It was said 
that as the Bengal regiments could not, for want of cattle, be 
marched to Ckatgaon, they would be put on board ship and 
carried to Ban gun across the Bay of Bengal. Murmurs of 
discontent then developed into oaths of resistance. The 
regiments warned for service in Burmah met in nightly 
conclave, and vowed not to cross the sea. 

Still foremost in this movement, the 47th Begiment was 
commanded by Colonel Cartwright. Rightly measuring the 
difficulty, and moved with compassion for the Sipahi, who 
really had just ground for complaint, he offered to provide 
cattle from his private funds ; and all the refuse animals, either 
too old or too young for service, were got together, and the 
Government offered to advance money for their purchase. But 
the terrible ban of " Too Late " was written across these con- 
ciliatory measures. The regiment was already tainted with the 
ineradicable virus of mutiny, which soon broke out on parade. 
The Sipahis declared that they would not proceed to Burmah 
by sea, and that they would not march unless they were 
guaranteed the increased allowances known in the jargon of 
the East as " double batta." This was on the 30th of October. 
On the 1st of November, another parade was summoned. The 
behaviour of the Sipahis was worse than before — violent, 
outrageous, not to be forgiven ; and they remained masters of 
the situation throughout both the day and night. Then the 
Commander-in-Chief appeared on the scene. A hard, strict 
disciplinarian, with no knowledge of the native army, and a 
bitter prejudice against it, Sir Edward Paget was a man of the 
very metal to tread down insurrection with an iron heel, 
regardless both of causes and of consequences. He carried 

o 2 

196 THE SIP Alii ARMY — ITS DECLINE. [1824. 

with him to Barrackpur two European regiments, a battery of 
European artillery, and a troop of the Governor- General's 
Body-guard. Next morning the native regiments found them- 
selves in the presence of the English troops ; but still they did 
not know the peril that awaited them, and, with a childlike 
obstinacy, they were not to be moved from their purpose of 
resistance. Some attempt was made at explanation — some 
attempt at conciliation. But it was feeble and ineffectual ; 
perhaps not understood. They were told, then, that they must 
consent to march, or to ground their arms. Still not seeing the 
danger, for they were not told that the artillery guns were 
loaded with grape, and the gunners ready to fire,* they refused 
to obey the word ; and so the signal for slaughter was given. 
The guns opened upon them. The mutineers were soon in 
panic flight. Throwing away their arms and accoutrements, 
they made for the river. Some were shot down ; some wero 
drowned. There was no attempt at battle. None had been 
contemplated. The muskets with which the ground was 
strewn were found to be unloaded. 

Then the formalities of the military law were called in to aid 
the stern decisions of the grape-shot. Some of the leading- 
mutineers were convicted, and hanged ; and the regiment was 
struck out of the Army List. But this display of vigour, 
though it checked mutiny for the time, tended only to sow 
broadcast the seeds of future insubordinations. It created a 
bad moral effect throughout the whole of the Bengal army. 
From Bazaar to Bazaar the news of the massacre ran with a 
speed almost telegraphic. The regiments, which had already 
marched to the frontier, were discussing the evil tidings with 
mingled dismay and disgust before the intelligence, sent by 
special express, had reached the ears of the British chiefs. " They 
are your own men whom you have been destroying," said an 
old native officer ; and he could not trust himself to say more.t 

* It is doubtful, indeed, whether they knew that the guns were in the 
rear of the European regiments. [The account of this mutiny might have 
been written by one of the mutinous Sipahis. In point of fact, all means 
were exhausted before force was resorted to. Tlie Sipahis knew thoroughly 
well their position, and they counted on the weakness and forbearance of 
their masters. But for the prompt action of Sir Edward Paget the whole 
army would have revolted. — G. B. M.] 

t " Political Incidents of the first Burmese War." By T. C. Robertson, to 
whom was entrusted the political conduct of the war. [I can only affirm that 

1825.] MUTINY AVERTED. 197 

The Bengal regiments, with the expeditionary force, had 
soon a grievance of their own, and the remembrance of this 
dark tragedy increased the bitterness with which they dis- 
cussed it. The high- caste men were writhing under an order 
which, on the occupation of Arakan, condemned the whole 
body of the soldiery to work, as labourers, in the construction 
of their barracks and lines. The English soldier fell to with a 
will ; the Madras Sipahi cheerfully followed his example. But 
the Bengal soldier asked if Brahmans and Eajputs were to be 
treated like Kulis, and, for a while, there was an apprehension 
that it might become necessary to make another terrible 
example after the Barrackpur pattern. But this was fortunately 
averted. General Morrison called a parade, and addressed the 
recusants. The speech, sensible and to the point, was translated 
by Captain Phillips ; and so admirable was his free rendering 
of it, so perfect the manner in which he clothed it with familiar 
language, making every word carry a meaning, every sentence 
strike some chord of sympathy in the Sipahi's breast, that when 
he had done, the high-caste Hindustanis looked at each other, 
understood what they read in their comrades' faces, and 
forthwith stripped to their work. 

Thus was an incipient mutiny checked by a few telling words. 
And the sad event which had gone before might have been 
averted also if there had been as much tact and address as 
" promptitude and decision." A few sentences of well-chosen, 
well-delivered Hindustani, on that fatal November morning, 
might have brought the 8ipahis back to reason and to loyalty.* 
But they had the benefit of neither wise counsel from within nor 
kindly exhortation from without. Deprived, by the reconstruc- 
tion of the Army, of the officers whom they had long known 
and trusted, they were more than ever in need of external aid 
to bring them back to a right state of feeling. They wanted a 

the crushing of the mutiny had the effect exactly contrary to that here 
recorded. It crushed the incipient feeling of disobedience which would 
otherwise have led to the worst results. None more rejoiced at it, none more 
admitted its justice, than the loyal Sipahis. — G. B. M.] 

[* When one recollects how many sentences of " well-chosen, well-delivered 
Hindustani,' were used in vain in 1857, one marvels the more at this con- 
demnation of the one remedy which proved successful in 1825. Mutiny caa 
never be crushed out by smooth words. The soul that will not nerve itself 
to have recourse to heroic measures will never successfully cope with revolt. — 
G. B. M.] 


General of Division, such as Malcolm or Ochterlony, to re- 
awaken their soldierly instincts — their pride in their colours, 
their loyalty to their Salt. But, instead of such judicious treat- 
ment as would have shown them their own folly, as in a glass, 
the martinets of the Horse Guards, stern in their un sympathising 
ignorance, their ruthless prejudices, had, in our own territories, 
at the very seat of government, in the presence of no pressing 
danger, no other lessons to teach, no other remedies to apply, 
than those which were to be administered at the bayonet's 
point and the cannon's mouth.* 

With the return of peace came new disquietudes. A reign 

of Eetrenchment commenced. Alarmed by the ex- 
TheHaif-Battap erises f t heir military establishments, the Company 

sent out imperative orders for their reduction — 
orders more than once issued before, more than once disobeyed. 
Blows of this kind commonly fall upon the weakest — upon 
those least able to endure them. So it happened that the con- 
dition of the regimental officer having, by a variety of ante- 
cedent circumstances, been shorn of well-nigh all its advantages, 
was rendered still more grievous and intolerable by the curtail- 
ment of his pecuniary alio wances. An order, known in military 
history as the Half-Batta Order, was passed, by which all offi- 
cers stationed within a certain distance from the Presidency 
were deprived of a large percentage of their pay.f The order 
excited the utmost dismay throughout the Army ; but the dis- 
content which it engendered vented itself in words. Twice 
before the officers of the Company's army had resented similar 
encroachments, and had been prepared to strike in defence of 
their asserted rights. But this last blow did not rouse them to 
rebellion. Never before had justice and reason been so clearly 
upon their side ; but, keenly as they felt their wrongs, they did 

[* In 1857, the Sipahis had generals of division like Hearsey, who knew 
them well, who spoke their language as well as they did, and who did all 
in his power " to awaken their soldierly instincts, their pride in their colours, 
their loyalty to their Salt." The result was general mutiny. And the same 
result would have followed the application of a similar remedy in 1825. I 
ask the intelligent reader to compare the two circumstances — 1825 and 1857 : 
the two remedies : the two results : and to draw his own conclusions. — 
G. B. M.] 

f Or, in strict professional language, his allowances. The gross salary of 
an Indian officer was known as his " pay and allowances." The former, 
which was small, was enhanced by several substantial accessories, as tentage, 
house-rent, and batta, or field allowance 


not threaten the Government they served, but loyally protested 
against the treatment to which the}'' had been subjected. The 
humours of which their memorials could not wholly relieve 
them, a Press, virtually free, carried off like a great conduit. 
The excitement expended itself in newspaper paragraphs, and 
gradually subsided. But it left behind it an after-growth of 
unanticipated evils. The little zeal that was left in the regi- 
mental officer was thus crushed out of him, and the Sipahi, who 
had watclied the decline, little by little, of the power once 
vested in the English captain, now saw him injured and humi- 
liated by his Government, without any power of resistance ; saw 
that he was no longer under the special protection of the State, 
and so lost all respect for an instrument so feeble and so despised. 

And as though it were a laudable achievement thus to divest 
the native soldier of all fear of his European officer, 
another order went forth during the same interval Abolition of 
of peace, abolishing the punishment of the lash punishment, 
throughout the Sipahi army in India. So little was 
he a drunkard and a ruffian, that it was a rare spectacle to see 
a black soldier writhing under the drummer's cat. But when 
the penalty, though still retained in the European army, became 
illegal and impossible among them, the native soldiery felt that 
another blow was struck at military authority — another tie of 
restraint unloosed. It was looked upon less as a boon than as a 
concession — less as the growth of our humanity than of our 
fear. So the Sipahi did not love us better, but held us a little 
more in contempt. 

There were great diversities of sentiment upon this point, 
and some, whose opinions were entitled to respect, believed in 
the wisdom of the measure. But the weight of authority was 
against it,* and, some ten years afterwards, Hardinge revived 

* Numerous illustrations might be cited, but none more significant than 
the following anecdote, told by Mr. Charles Raikes : "I recollect a con- 
versation which I had in 1839 with an old pensioned Subahdar. I inquired 
of him how the measure would work. He replied, that the abolition of the 
punishment woidd induce some classes to enter the Army who had not done 
so before. 'But, Sahib,' said the old man, ' Fauj be-dar hogya.' (The Army 
has ceased to fear.)" Another native officer said : "The English, to manage 
us rightly, should hold the whip in one hand and the mehtais (sweetmeats) in 
the other. You have dropped the whip, and now hold out sweets to us in 
both hands." [On this I cannot help remarking that if the Army had ceased 
to fear, and that cessation of corporal punishment had caused it to deteriorate, 
no appeals to its loyalty in words of will-chosen Hindustani, spoken even by 
" a Malcolm or an Ochterlony," would have remedied the evil. — G. B. M.] 


what Bentinck had abolished. But even before the act of 
abolition, by a variety of concurrent causes, the character and 
the conduct of the Sipahi Army were so impaired, that an officer 
who had served long with them, and knew them well, declared, 
in his evidence before a Committee of Parliament, that " in all 
the higher qualifications of soldiers, in devotedness to the 
service, readiness for any dtity they may be called upon to 
perform, cheerfulness under privations, confidence and attach- 
ment to their officers, unhesitating and uncalculating bravery 
in the field, without regard either to the number or the cha- 
racter of the enemy, the native soldier is allowed by all the 
best-informed officers of the service, by those who have most 
experience, and are best acquainted with their character, to 
have infinitely deteriorated."* 

* Evidence of Captain Macau in 1834. 

1838.] THE AFGHAN WAK. 201 


Peace is never long-lived in India, and the Army was soon 
again in the hustle and excitement of active service. 
There was a long war ; and, if it had heen a J*"- w ? r in 
glorious one, it might have had a salutary effect 
upon the disposition of the Sipahi. But when all his soldierly 
qualities were thus, as it were, at the last gasp, the War in 
Afghanistan came to teach him a new lesson, and the worst, at 
that time, which he could have heen taught. He learnt then, 
for the first time, that a British army is not invincible in the 
field; that the great " Ikhbal," or Fortune, of the Company, 
which had carried us gloriously through so many great enter- 
prises, might sometimes disastrously fail us; he saw the proud 
colours of the British nation defiled in the bloody snows of 
Afghanistan, and he believed that our reign was hastening to 
a close. The charm of a century of conquest was then broken. 
In all parts of Upper India it was the talk of the Bazaars that 
the tide of victory had turned against the Faringhis, and that 
they would soon be driven into the sea. Then the Sikh arose 
and the Maratha bestirred himself, rejoicing in our humiliation, 
and eagerly watching the next move. Then it was that those 
amongst us, who knew best what was seething in the heart of 
Indian society, were " ashamed to look a native in the face." 
The crisis was a perilous one, and the most experienced Indian 
statesmen regarded it with dismay, not knowing what a day 
might produce. They had no faith in our allies, no faith in our 
soldiery. An Army of Betribution, under a wise and trusted 
leader, went forth to restore the tarnished lustre of the British 
name ; but ominous whispers soon came from his camp that 
that Army was tainted — that the Sipahi regiments, no longer 
assured and fortified by the sight of that ascendant Star of 
Fortune which once had shone with so bright and steady a 
light, shrunk from entering the passes which had been the grave 
of so many of their comrades. It was too true. The Sikhs 


were tampering with their fidelity. Brahman emissaries were 
endeavouring to swear them on the Holy Water not to advance 
at the word of the English commander. Nightly meetings of 
delegates from the different regiments were being held ; and, 
perhaps, we do not even now know how great was the danger. 
But the sound discretion and excellent tact of Pollock, aided 
by the energies of Henry Lawrence and Richmond Shakespear, 
brought the Sipahis to a better temper, and, when the word 
was given, they entered the dreaded passes, and, confiding in 
their leader, carried victory with them up to the walls of the 
Afghan capital. 

The Sipahi did his duty well under Pollock. He had done 
his duty well under Nott, who spoke with admiration of his 
" beautiful regiments," and manfully resented any imputation 
cast upon them. And when, after the British Army had been 
disentangled from the defiles of Afghanistan, war was made 
against the Amirs of Sindh, the Sipahi went gallantly to the 
encounter with the fierce Biluchi fighting-man, and Napier 
covered him with praise. Then there was another war, and the 
native regiments of the Company went bravely up the slopes of 
Maharajpiir, and turned not aside from the well-planted, well- 
manned batteries of the turbulent Marathas. But peace came, 
and with peace its dangers. Sindh had become a British pro- 
vince, and the Sipahi, who had helped to conquer, had no wish 
to garrison the country. 

The direct and immediate result of well-nigh every annexa • 
tion of Territory, by which our Indian empire 

Results of the h as been extended, may be clearly discernecf in 
' the shattered discipline of the Sipahi Army. 
To extend our empire without increasing our means of de- 
fence was not theoretically unreasonable ; for it might have 
been supposed that as the number of our enemies was reduced 
by conquest and subjection, the necessity for the main- 
tenance of a great standing army was diminished rather 
than increased. These annexations, it was said, consolidated 
our own territories by eradicating some native principality in 
the midst of them, or else substituted one frontier, and perhaps 
a securer one, for another. But the security of our empire lay 
in the fidelity of our soldiery. To diminish the number of our 
enemies, and to extend the area of the country to be occupied 
by our troops, was at the same time to diminish the importance 
of the Sipahi, and to render his service more irksome to him ; 


for it sent him to strange places far away from his home, to do 
the work of military Police. It frittered away in small de- 
tached bodies the limited European force at the disposal of the 
Indian Government, or massed large ones on a distant frontier. 
This extension of territory, indeed, whilst it made us more 
dependent upon our native troops, made that dependence more 
hazardous. The conversion of Sindh into a British province, 
by which our long line of annexations was commenced, had 
burnt this truth into our history before Lord Dalhousie ap- 
peared upon the scene. For indeed it was a sore trial to 
tbe Sipahi to be posted in a dreary outlying graveyard of this 
kind, far away from his home and his people — far beyond the 
limits of the empire in which he had enlisted to serve. And 
when it was proposed to take from him the additional allowances, 
which had been issued to the troops, on active service in an 
enemy's country, on the plea that they had subsided into the 
occupation of British cantonments, he resented this severe 
logic, and rose against the retrenchment. He did not see why, 
standing upon the same ground, he should not receive the same 
pay, because the red line of the British boundary had been 
extended by a flourish of the pen, and the population of the 
country had by the same magic process been converted into 
British subjects ; and still less easily could he reconcile him- 
self to the decision when he thought that the Sipahi himself 
had contributed to bring about the result that was so injurious 
to him ; that he had helped to win a province for his employers, 
and, in return for this good service, had been deprived of part 
of his pay. In the old time, when the Company's troops con- 
quered a country, they had profited in many ways by the 
achievement, but now they were condemned to suffer as though 
gallantry were a crime. 

In more than a camel-load of documents the story lies re- 
corded, but it must be briefly narrated here. 
In the month of February, 1844, Governor- Muttoyofthe 
General Ellenborough, being then absent from 
his Council in the Upper Provinces, received the dishearten- 
ing intelligence that the 34th Sipahi .Regiment of Bengal, 
which had been warned for service in Sindh, had been 
halted at Firuzpur. It had refused to enter our newly- 
acquired province, unless its services were purchased by the 
grant of the additional allowances given to the soldiery beyond 
the Indus in time of war. The distressing character of the 


intelligence was aggravated by many circumstances of time 
and place. In a moment, Ellenborough's quick perceptions 
had grappled the whole portentous truth. Our troops were 
mutinying for pay, on the Panjab frontier, almost in the 
presence of the disorderly masses of Sikh troops, who, 
gorged with the donatives they had forced from a weak 
Government, were then dominating the empire. Other regi- 
ments were coming up, on the same service, who might be 
expected to follow the rebellious lead of the 34th; and so 
Ellenborough and Napier might have found themselves with 
the province they had just conquered on their hands, and no 
means of securing its military occupation, without destroying 
the authority of Government by humiliating concessions. 

In this conjuncture, the first thing that Ellenborough did 
was the best that could have been done. He delegated to the 
Commander-in-Chief the full powers of the Governor-General 
in Council for the suppression of mutiny in the Army. But 
how were those powers to be exercised? Doubt and per- 
plexity, and something nearly approaching consternation, 
pervaded Army Head-Quarters. The 7th Bengal Cavalry, on 
the line of march to the frontier, had broken into open mutiny, 
and in spite of all the efforts of their officers, who had 
guaranteed to pay them from their own funds the allowances 
they demanded, the troopers had refused to obey the trumpet- 
call to march, and were halted, therefore, sullen and obstinate, 
in the neighbourhood of Firuzpur. Some companies of Native 
Artillery had already refused to march, and there were rumours 
of other regiments being on the eve of declaring their refusal. 
The most obvious course, under such circumstances, was to 
march the recusant regiments back to one or more of the large 
stations, as Lodiana and Mirath, where European troops were 
posted, and there to disband them. But sinister whispers were 
abroad that the sympathies of the Europeans, in this instance, 
were with the native soldiery. One regiment of the Line, it 
was reported, had openly declared that it would not act against 
the Sipahis, who were demanding no more than their rights. 
There were Sikh emissaries from beyond the Satlaj doing their 
best to debauch the Sipahis by offering both their sympathy 
and their assistance. Dick, the General of Division, declared 
his belief that an order to the mutineers to march back for 
disbandment would not be obeyed ; and a violent collision at 
such a time would have set the whole frontier in a blaze. The 


project of disbandment was, therefore, suspended ; and all the 
more readily, as even at Head-Quarters there was a belief that, 
although the recusant troops might have had no reasonable 
ground of complaint, the actual state of the case with respect 
to the Sindh pay and allowances had not been properly ex- 
plained to them.* 

Uncondemned, the mutinous regiments were ordered back to 
the stations from which they had marched, to await the result 
of a reference to the Governor-General ; and other corps, 
warned for the Sindh service, came up to the frontier. Dick's 
first and wisest impulse had been to halt the regiments 
marching to Firuzpur, in order that they might not run the 
risk of contamination by the tainted corps, or the corrupting 
influence of the Sikhs. But, by some strange fatality, this 
judicious measure had been revoked ; the regiments marched 
to the frontier; and Dick's difficulties increased. The 69th 
refused to embark, unless the old Indus allowances 
were guaranteed to them. By the exertions of The 69th and the 
the officers, one-half of the regiment was after- 
wards brought round to a sense of their duty ; they loaded 
their carriage cattle, marched to the banks of the river, and 
declared their willingness to embark on the boats. They ought 
to have been embarkt d at once with the colours of their 
regiment. Their comrades would then have followed them ; 
and other regiments, moved by the good example, might also 
have asserted their fidelity. But the golden opportunity was 
lost ; and all example was in tlie way of evil. The 4th Eegi- 
ment, trusted overmuch by its commanders, followed the 69th 
into mutiny at Firuzpur, and such was the conduct of the 
Sipahis, that Philip Goldney, a man of equal courage and 
capacity, suddenly called to the scene of tumult, drew upon one 
the foremost of the mutineers, and a younger officer, moved to 
passion by their violence, struck out with a bayonet, and 
wounded two soldiers in the face. Those were days when 

* The extraordinary allowances — the withdrawal of which had created all 
this ill-feeling — were originally granted when the troops crossed the Indus 
in 1838, on their march to Kandahar and Kabul. They were withdrawn 
from the troops in Sindh early in 1840, when there seemed to be no longer 
any extraordinary duties to be performed by them. When the insurrection 
broke out in Afghanistan, and retributory operations were commenced, tlie 
allowances were restored; but they were again reduced from the 1st of July 
1843, after the close of the war in Afghanistan and the conquest of Siudh. 

206 THE SlPlm AKMY — ITS DECLINE. [1844. 

mutiny did not mean massacre, and the Sipahi did not turn upon 
his officer. But neither regiment would march. On many hard- 
fought fields Sir Robert Dick had proved himself to he a good 
soldier, hut he was not equal to such a crisis as this : so Ellen- 
borough at once ordered him to be cushioned in some safer place. 

In the meanwhile, aid to the embarrassed Government was 

coming from an unexpected quarter. The 64th Regiment of 

Sipahis had formed part of that unfortunate detachment 

e 64 ' known in history as Wilde's Brigade, which had been 
sent, before Pollock's arrival at Peshawar, to carry the Khaibar 
Pass, without guns and without provisions. It had afterwards 
served with credit during the second Afghan campaign, since 
the close of which it had been cantoned at the frontier station 
of Lodiana. The Sipahis had manifested a strong reluctance to 
serve in Sindh, and had addressed to the Adjutant-General 
more than one arzi, or pe+ition, couched in language of com- 
plaint almost akin to mutiny. From Lodiana the regiment 
had been ordered down to Banaras. On the 15th of February 
it reached Ambalah, then become the Head-Quarters of ihe 
Sirhind division of the Army, which General Fast, an old 
officer of the Company's service, commanded. Well able to 
converse in the language of the country, and knowing, from 
long intercourse with them, the character and feelings of the 
native soldiery, Fast believed that something might still be 
done to bring the regiment back to its allegiance. So he halted 
the 64th at Ambalah, and summoned the native officers to his 
presence. Questioned as to the disposition of the regiment, 
they one and all declared that the men had never refused to 
march to Sindh ; that they were still willing to march ; that 
only on the evening before the native officers had severally 
ascertained the fact from their respective companies ; that the 
matter of the allowances would not influence the Sipahis; and 
that the mutinous arzis had emanated only from a few bad 
characters in the regiment; perhaps, it was added, from a 
Sipahi who had been already dismissed. From these and other 
representations, it appeared to the General that the 64th really 
desired to wipe out the stain, which the arzis had fixed 
upon their character, and, believing in this, he recommended 
that they should be permitted to march to Sindh. Under 
certain stringent conditions, the Commander-in-Chief adopted 
the recommendation; and so Moseley, with his Sipahis, again 
turned his face towards the Indus. 


The disposition of the regiment now seemed to be so good, it 
was inarching with such apparent cheerfulness towards the 
dreaded regions, and setting so good an example to others, that 
the Commander-in-Chief was minded to stimulate its alacrity, 
and to reward its returning fidelity, by a volui tary tender 
of special pay and pension, and relaxations of the terms of 
service.* The language of these instructions was somewhat 
vague, and Moseley, eager to convey glad tidings to his 
men, turned the vagueness to account by exaggerating the 
boon that was offered to them. And so the error of Head- 
quarters was made doubly erroneous, and the Governor- 
general was driven wild by the blunder of the ( 'ommauder-in- 

Whatsoever Head-Quarters might have intended to grant, 
was contingent upon the good conduct of the regiment. But 
before the letter had been received by Moseley, on the line of 
inarch, mutiny had again broken out in the ranks of the 64th. 
At Miidki, now so famous in the annals of Indian warfare, the 
regiment, not liking the route that had been taken, assumed a 
threatening front, and attempted to seize the colours. j The 
petulance of the hour was suppressed, and next day the regi- 
ment resumed its march. But transitory as was the outbreak, 
it was mutiny in one of its worst forms. On the second day, 
the Colonel received, at Tibi, the letter from Head-Quarters, on 
the subject of the additional allowances. The outbreak at Miidki 
had converted it into an historical document, to be quietly put 
aside for purposes of future record. It was, indeed, a dead 
letter. The fatal words " too late " were already written across 

* " In addition to the full or marching batta always allowed to regiments 
serving in Sindh, still higher advantages in regard to pay, together with the 
benefits of the regulated family pension to the heirs of those who may die 
from disease contracted on service." The commanding officer was also in- 
structed " to make known to the corps that it shall be brought back to a 
station in the provinces in one year in the event of the ensuing season 
proving unhealthy, and under no circumstances be kept in Sindh beyond two 
years, while the indulgence of furlough to visit their homes will, in the latter 
case, be extended to the men in the proportion enjoyed by corps located at 
stations within the British frontier." — [The Adjutant-General to Colonel 
Moseley, March 15, 1844.] Sindh, however, had become a British "province," 
and was "within the British frontier." 

t It was advisable to march the troops proceeding to Sindh along a route 
which would not bring them into contact with other regiments, either coming 
from that province or stationed on the frontier; and it was specially desirable 
to mask Finizpur. 


the page. But Moseley laid eager hands upon it, as a living 
reality, for present uses. The 64th was plainly in an excitable 
state. It had mutinied once on the march, and, without the 
application of some very powerful sedative, it might mutiny 
again. The outbreak at Mudki had not been reported to Head- 
Quarters. It might pass into oblivion as an ugly dream of the 
past; and the future might be rendered peaceful and prosperous 
by the letter of the Adjutant-General. So Moseley, having 
caused it to be translated into Hindustani, summoned a parade, 
and ordered it to be read aloud to his men. 

Tremendous as was this error — for it tendered to the mutinous 
the reward intended only for the faithful — its proportions were 
dwarfed by the after-conduct of the infatuated Colonel. He 
put a gloss of his own on the Head-Quarters' letter, and told 
the regiment that they would receive the old Indus allow- 
ances given to Pollock's Army.* Upon which they set up a 
shout of exultation. And then the 64th pursued its journey 
to Sindh. 

The horrible mistake which had thus been committed soon 
began to bear bitter fruit. The inevitable pay-day came ; and 
Moseley, like a man who has silenced the clamorous demands 
of the Present by drawing a forged bill upon the Future, 
now saw his gigantic folly staring him in the face. The crisis 
came at Shikarpur. The Indus war-allowances were not forth- 
coming, and the 64th refused in a body to receive their legiti- 
mate pay. 

There was then, under Governor Napier, commanding the 
troops in Sindh, an old Sipahi officer, familiarly and 

George affectionately known throughout the Army as George 
Hunter. Of a fine presence, of a kindly nature, and 
of a lively temperament, he led all men captive by the sunny 
influence of his warm heart and his flowing spirits ; whilst his 
manly courage and resolution commanded a wider admiration 
and respect. Of his conspicuous gallantly in action he carried 
about with him the honourable insignia in an arm maimed and 
mutilated by the crashing downward blow of a Jat swordsman, 
as he was forcing one of the gates of Bharatpur. In the 
whole wide circle of the Army, there was scarcely one man 
whom the Sipahi more loved and honoured ; scarcely one whose 

* This was known among the Sipahis as " Pollock's Batta." It made up 
the soldier's pay to twelve rupees a month. 

1844.] GEOEGE HUNTER. 209 

appearance on the scene at this moment could have had a 
more auspicious aspect. But there are moods in which we turn 
most angrily against those whom we most love ; and General 
Hunter in this emergency was as powerless as Colonel 

George Hunter was not a man to coquet with mutiny. He 
saw at a glance the magnitude of the occasion, and he 
was resolute not to encourage its further growth bv Mutiny of 
an y inopportune delay. The short twilight of the 
Indian summer was already nearly spent when news reached 
him that the regiment had refused to receive its pay. Instantly 
calling a parade, he declared his intention of himself paying the 
troops. Darkness had now fallen upon the scene ; but lamps 
were lit, and the General commenced his work. The light 
company, as the one that had evinced the most turbulent spirit, 
was called up first; the Sipahis took their pay to a man, and 
were dismissed to their Lines. Of the company next called, 
four men had refused to receive their pay, when Moseley went 
up to the General, and told him that the whole regiment would 
take their money quietly,, if disbursed to them by their own 
officers. Hunter had once refused this, but now he consented, 
and again the effort to flatter the corps into discipline was 
miserably unsuccessful. No sooner was this reluctant consent 
wrung from the General, than the parade was broken up with a 
tumultuous roar. Filling the air with shouts, sometimes shaped 
into words of derision and abuse, the Sipahis flocked to their 
Lines. In vain Hunter ordered them to fall in ; in vain he im- 
plored them to remember that they were soldiers. They turned 
upon him with the declaration that they had been lured to 
Sindh by a lie ; and when he still endeavoured to restore order 
and discipline to the scattered rabbin into which the regiment 
had suddenly crumbled, they threw stones and bricks at the fine 
old soldier and the other officers who had gone to his aid. 

Nothing more could be done on that night ; so Hunter went 
to his quarters, and waited anxiously for the dawn. A morning- 
parade had been previously ordered, and when the General went 
to the ground, he saw, to his exceeding joy, that the 64th were 
already drawn up — "as fine-looking and steady a body of men," 
he said, "as he could wish to see." No signs of disorder greeted 
him; and as he inspected company after company, calling upon 
all who had complaints to make to come forward, the regiment 
preserved its staid and orderly demeanour, and it seemed as if a 

vol. i. p 


great shame held them all in inactivity and silence.* Keturn- 
ing then to the head of the column, drawn up left in front, 
Hunter proceeded to resume the work which had been broken 
off so uproariously on the preceding evening. Ten men of one 
company refused their pay, but none others followed their 
example. All now seemed to be proceeding to a favourable 
issue ; and Hunter believed that the favourable disposition 
which had begun to show itself might be confirmed by a suit- 
able address. So he prepared himself to harangue them. 

The ways of the Sipahi are as unaccountable as the ways of a 
child. It is impossible to fix the limits of his anger, or rightly 
to discern the point at which his good temper has really 
returned. Unstable and inconsistent, his conduct baffles all 
powers of human comprehension. So it happened that just on 
the seeming verge of success the ground crumbled away under 
Hunter's feet. As each company had been called up to receive 
its pay, the men had piled their arms to the word of command. 
But when the word was given to un-pile, there was an im- 
mediate shudder of hesitation, which seemed to be caught by 
one company from another, until it pervaded the whole regi- 
ment. Each man seemed to read what was in his neighbour's 
heart, and without any previous concert, therefore, they clung 
to each other in their disobedience. Three Grenadier Sipahis 
took their muskets, and were promoted on the spot ; but not an- 
other man followed their example. The regiment had again 
become a rabble. Nothing now could reduce them to order. 

Until the blazing June sun was rising high in the heavens, 
Hunter and the regimental officers remained on the parade- 
ground, vainly endeavouring to persuade the Sipahis to return 
to their duty. They had only one answer to give — their 
Colonel and their Adjutant had promised them what they had 
not received. If the General would guarantee them the old 
Indus war-allowances, they would serve as good soldiers; if not, 
they wished to be discharged, and return to their homes. All 
through the day, and all through the night, without divesting 
themselves of their uniform, without going to their lines to cook 
or to eat, the mutineers remained on the ground, sauntering 
about in the neighbourhood of their piled arms, and discussing 
their wrongs. 

* Only one man came forward, and his complaint waa that he lind been 
passed over in promotion. 

1844.] MUTINY OF THE 64TH. 211 

Day broke, and found them still on the ground. But hunger 
and fatigue had begun to exhaust the energies of their resist- 
ance, and when Hunter appeared again on the scene, accom- 
panied only by his aide-de-camp, and beat to arms, the men fell 
in, took their muskets, and evinced some signs of contrition. 
Then the General spoke to them, saying that he would receive 
at his quarters a man from each company, and hear what be had 
to say on the part of his comrades. Satisfied with this promise, 
and being no longer irritated by the presence of the officers who 
had deceived them, the 64th allowed the parade to be quietly 
dismissed, and went to their Lines. At the appointed hour, the 
delegates from the several regiments waited on the General, and 
each man told the same story of the deception that had been 
practised upon the regiment. They had been promised 
" General Pollock's Batta," and the twelve rupees which they 
had expected had dwindled down into eight. 

With this evidence before him, the General removed Colonel 
Moseley from the command of the station and from the command 
of the regiment,* and ordered the 64tb to march to Sukkhar, on 
their way back to our older provinces. It was an anxious time ; 
a hazardous march. So Hunter went with them. But the hot 
stage of the fever bad passed, and the paroxysm seemed to have 
left them feeble and sore-spent. Unresistingly they 
went to Sukkhar, and encamped in the presence of June 25, 
European troops ; and George Hunter, thankiug God 
that the peril was over, and that not a drop of blood had been 
shed, then took upon himself the responsibility of pardoning the 
regiment as a body, and bringing to punishment only the worst 
of the individual offenders.f Such moderation could hardly be 
misunderstood at a time when there was present power to 
enforce the decrees of a sterner justice. So he addressed the 
regiment on parade, told them that he pardoned all but the 
leading mutineers, who would be tried by Court-martial ; and 
he trusted that the mercy thus shown to them would not be 
thrown away, that they would repent of their misconduct and 
return to their allegiance. And perhaps the provocation which 

* Colonel Moseley was afterwards tried by court-martial, and cashiered. 

t Thirty-nine prisoners were sent to trial, of whom one only was acquitted. 
Six were ordered for capital punishment, and the sentence of death passed 
upon the others was commuted to imprisonment and hard labour for various 

p 2 

212 THE SIP Affl ARMY — ITS DECLINE. [1844. 

they had received was ample warrant for the leniency of their 

But the embarrassments of the Government did not end here. 
Whatsoever might he the punishment of the offence, it could not 
afford a remedy for the evil. The mutinous regiments might 
he disbanded, and their ringleaders might be hanged by the 
neck, or blown to atoms from the guns ; but still there would 
be no answer to the question of how was Sindh to be garrisoned 
with British troops ? It had been the design of the Government 
to employ only Bengal regiments on that service, seeking aid in 
other quarters from Madras. But the Bengal Army had broken 
down under the experiment ; and there was small hope, after 
what had passed, of its ever being induced, except by humiliat- 
ing concessions, to look that hated province in the face. There 
were, however, two other Presidencies, and two other Armies, 
not so nice as Bengal ; and the defence of Sindh might be en- 
trusted to Bombay or Madras regiments. If such had been the 
design in the first instance, it might, under judicious manage- 
ment, have been successfully carried into effect. But after such 
an example as had been set by the Bengal regiments, there was 
small consolation to be drawn from the prospect of loyal service 
to be rendered by their comrades. Already, indeed, were there 
signs that the disposition to strike for higher pay which had 
manifested itself among the Bengal troops was not confined to 
the Sipahis of that " pampered and petted " Army. The 
Bombay regiments were untainted ;f but a mutinous spirit had 
again displayed itself among the native soldiery of the Coast 
Army 4 

* There is something very touching in the humility which pervades the 
letters written at this time by George Hunter to Lord Ellenborough and 
Sir Charles Napier. He asks to be pardoned for all shortcomings, in con- 
sideration of the difficulty of the circumstances. " I never could write,'' he 
says at the end of one letter, " and old age does not improve a man in any 
way, except, I trust, in seeing his own failings and praying for mercy." 

t The Bombay Army was said at that time to have more duty on its hands 
than it could perform without a severe strain, and the Bombay Government 
were clamouring for an augmentation. 

% There had been several recent instances of extreme insubordination, 
amounting, indeed, to mutiny, in the Madras Army. The 52nd Native 
Infantry had mutinied at Asigarh and Maligaon ; there had been a mutiny 
of the Madras troops at Sikandarabad ; and the 2nd and 41st Regiments had 
shown a bad spirit, when ordered to embark for China. The 3rd and 4th 
Native Cavalry regiments had also mutinied ; the former in 1838, the latter 
In 1842. 


The first symptom of this was in a Cavalry regiment at 
Jabalpur. Among the results of an extension of Mutinyofthe 
empire without a corresponding augmentation of eth Madras 
our military force, are frequent violations of old Pre- ava ry ' 

sidential limits in the location of our troops, which, however un- 
objectionable they may appear at the Adjutant-General's office, 
are seldom carried out without some disturbance of our military 
system. It might seem to be of small consequence whether the 
station at which a regiment was posted were within the limits 
of one Presidency or another ; but if a Madras regiment were 
called upon to serve in the Bengal Presidency, or a Bombay 
regiment in Madras, or any other departure from ordinary rule 
was decreed, the Government was fortunate if it were not 
seriously perplexed and embarrassed by the results. Now, the 
Madras Army, though, as has been said, more cosmopolitan and 
less nice than that of Bengal, and not deterred by caste pre- 
judices from proceeding to strange places, suffered even more 
than the Bengal troops from being ordered to distant stations, 
because the family of the Madras soldier followed his regiment, 
whilst the belongings of his Bengal comrade remained in their 
native village. The removal of the family from one station to 
another was a sore trouble and a heavy expense to the Madras 
Sipahi ; and whatever increased the distance to be traversed was, 
therefore, a grievance to him. 

To the Cavalry it was especially a grievance, for the troopers 
were principally well-born Muhammadans, and the rigid seclu- 
sion in which their women were kept greatly increased the cost 
of their conveyance from one station to another. The 6th 
Cavalry had been more than commonly harassed in this respect, 
when, towards the close of 1843, just as they were expecting to 
get their route for the favourite cavalry station of Arkat, they 
received orders to inarch from Kampati to Jabalpur, in the 
valley of the Narbada, which, in consequence of the demand for 
Bengal troops on the Indus, it had been necessary to occupy 
with regiments from Madras. The sharp disappointment, 
however, was in some measure mitigated by the assurance that 
the service on which they were required was but temporary, 
and that they would soon return within the proper limits of 
their own Presidency. They went, therefore, leaving their 
families behind them ; but when they reached Jabalpur, they 
found that they were to be permanently located there upon 
lower allowances than they had expected, that they must send 


for their families from Kampati, and that their next march 
would be nine hundred miles southward to Arkat. 

Only by savings from their pay at the higher rates could the 
troopers hope to defray these extraordinary expenses. On the 
lower rates of pay it was impossible ; for the greater part of 
their earnings was remitted for the support of their absent 
families, and what remained was barely enough to keep together 
body and soul. When, therefore, they found that they were to 
receive these lower rates at Jabalpur, they broke into open 
manifestations of discontent, and bound themselves by oaths 
to stand by each other whilst they resisted the unjust decree. 
The first few days of December were, therefore, days of sore 
vexation and disturbance to the officers of the 6th, and most of 

Major Litch- a U to the Commandant, Major Litchfield, to whose 
field. want of personal sympathy with their sufferings the 
Sipahis, reasonably or unreasonably, attributed a great part of 
their affliction. The conduct of the men was violent and 
outrageous. They were with difficulty induced to saddle and 
mount for exercise ; and when the trumpet sounded for the canter, 
they loosened rein, urged their horses forward at a dangerous 
pace, and raising the religious war-cry of " Din ! din ! " broke into 
tumultuous disorder. Brought back to something like discipline, 
the regiment was dismissed ; but throughout the day the 
greatest excitement prevailed among them, and a large body of 
troopers marched in a defiant manner through the lines to the 
tent of a favourite officer, declaring that they would 

ap ' yn| ' obey his orders, and serve under him, and beseeching 
him to place himself at their head. On the following day the 
excitement had increased. The troop-officers went among their 
men, endeavouring to pacify them. But they could report 
nothing more satisfactory than that the troops were in a frantic 
state, and that if Litchfield ventured on parade next morning 
the result would be fatal to him. 

Undeterred b} T this, the Major would have held the parade, 
Imt the Brigadier commanding the station, to whom, in due 
course, all the circumstances were reported, caused it to be 
countermanded, and an Inspection Parade under his own 
command ordered in its stead. To this the regiment sullenly 
responded ; and when the Brigadier addressed them, saying that 
he was willing to hear their complaints, many of the men 
stepped forward and presented him with petitions, which were 
given over to the troop-officers, to be forwarded to him through 


the regular official channels. But, although it was plain that 
there was a hitter feeling of resentment against Litchfield, no 
act of violence was committed at that parade. Ami it happened 
that before its dismissal a letter reached the Brigadier an- 
nouncing that the higher allowances were to be given to the 
men ; and so the active danger was passed. But the disturb- 
ance which had been engendered did not soou pass away ; the 
Sipahis remained sullen and discontented, and for some days 
it appeared to the Brigadier not improbable that he would be 
compelled to call the Infantry and Artillery to his assistance. 
But the Madras Army was spared this calamity of bloodshed ; 
and after a little while the regiment returned to the quiet and 
orderly performance of its duty. 

As the old year closed upon the scene of mutiny in the 
Madras Cavalry, so, very soon, the new year opened upon a 
kindred incident in the Madras Infantry. When it was found 
that the Bengal troops were reluctant to serve, under the pro- 
posed terms, in the Sindh province, and serious embarrass- 
ment was, thereby, likely to be occasioned to the Supreme 
Government, the Madras authorities, believing that the crisis 
was one in which it behoved every one to do his best, promptly 
and vigorously, for the salvation of the State, determined, on a 
requisition from the Government of Bombay, to send two 
infantry regiments to Sindh.* The Sipahis were to embark 
on board transport vessels at Madras, to touch at Bombay, and 
thence to proceed to Karachi. One of these regiments, the 
47th, was in orders for Moulmein, on the eastern coast of the 
Bay of Bengal — a station at which, being beyond Presidential 
limits, extra allowances, known as field-batta and rations, were 
paid to the troops. Ignorant, it would appear, of the Bengal 
regulations, the Madras Government, represented by the 
Marquis of Tweedale, who held the double office of Governor 
and Commander-in-Chief, guaranteed to the regiments ordered 
to Sindh the allowances received at Moulmein ; and under these 
conditions the 47th embarked for B mibay. 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Goverment had been advised of the 
unauthorised measures of the Madras authorities Mutiny of the 
Chafing under such usurpation of the powers and Madras 47th. 
prerogatives of the Governor-General, Ellenborough sent orders 

* Sir Charles Napier had made an urgent call on Bombay, which, Bombay 
not being able to comply with it, passed on to Madras. 

216 ■ THE SIPAHI ARMY — ITS DECLINE. [1843-44. 

for the detention of the Madras regiment at Bombay, and it was 
disembarked on its arrival.* There the Madras Sipahis learnt 
that the advantages of foreign service, promised to them at 
Madras, and on the faith of which they had set their faces towards 
Sindh, were disallowed. The greater part of their pay up to 
the end of March had already been disbursed to them, for the 
benefit of their families whom they left behind, and now they 
found, in the middle of February, that the scanty residue, on 
which they had relied for their own support, was by these 
retrenchments taken from them, and that, far away from their 
homes, starvation stared them in the face. It was not strange 
that they should have regarded this as a cruel breach of faith ; 
and that they should have resented it. They had been promised 
rations, and they asked for them, and when they found they 
were not likely to be supplied, they manifested their discontent, 
after the wonted fashion, by breaking; out on 

Feb. 19 1844. 'J & 

parade. When the word of command was given for 
them to march to their Lines, by fours from the left, they stood 
fast. The word was repeated, but still they stood fast ; and when 
the Adjutant rode up to the leading section and asked the men if 
they had not heard the word of command, they answered sullenly 
that they had heard it ; and when a Native officer asked them 
why they did not move, they told him that they wanted food, 
and that they would not stir without it. 

When the order to advance was again given, the regiment 
moved off; but only to renew on the following morning the 
exhibition of disobedience and discontent. Paraded before the 
General commanding the garrison, the regiment soon evinced 
signs of being in the same mood. After inspection, when the 
order was given to march by companies to their respective 
Lines, the Grenadiers stepped off, but presently wavered and 
halted ; and when their captain, having ordered their arms, 
went off to report their conduct to the commanding officer, they 
insisted on following him in a body, declaring that if they then 
lost their chance of representing their hard case to the General, 
they might never find it again. Another company was even 
more violent in its demands. When the word of command was 

* Intelligence of the change of destination was communicated to the 
officers during the voyage. It should be stated that one detachment of the 
regiment mutinied on board the John Line transport vessel ; but the dis- 
content then manifested arose from circumstances unconnected with the 
after-causes of disaffection. 


given to advance at the quick march, a man from the ranks 
cried out " Eight about face," and the whole company stood 
fast, as did other parts of the column. Taken in the act of 
flagrant mutiny, the Sipahi was disarmed, and sent to the 
guard, whither the greater part of the company followed, 
declaring that they also would go to the guard, that they 
wanted rice, and must have it. 

After a while order was restored. The General addressed the 
European and Native officers, and told them to assure the men, 
that any complaints advanced in a soldierly manner would be 
inquired into and any grievances redressed, but that such 
conduct as had been displayed on parade could not be over- 
looked. The regiment was then moved off to its Lines, some of 
the ringleaders being carried off as prisoners ; and an advance 
of money, at first reluctantly received, stifled the further 
progress of mutiny. Here, then, the story may end. The 
Madras Army was not destined to supply the want accruing 
from the defective loyalty of Bengal. It broke down at a 
critical time ; but only under such a weight of mismanagement 
as might have crushed out the fidelity of the best mercenaries 
in the world. 

In these, as in instances above cited, by conflicts of authority 
and variations of system, the Sipahi was not unreasonably 
alarmed for the integrity of his pay ; and although we may 
condemn the manner in which he manifested his discontent, we 
must not think too harshly of the tenacity with which he 
asserted his rights. If an English soldier strikes for more pay, 
it is in most cases only another name for more drink. He 
seeks it, too often, as a means of personal indulgence. There is 
nothing to render less greedy his greed. But the avarice of the 
Sipahi was purified by domestic affection, by a tender regard 
for the interests of others, and that strong feeling of family 
honour which in India renders Poor Laws an useless institution. 
He had so many dependents with whom to divide his slender 
earnings, that any unexpected diminution of his pay excited 
alarm lest those who were nearest and dearest to him should in 
his absence be reduced to want. The honour of his family was 
threatened ; he chafed under the thought ; and if he took un- 
soldierly means of asserting his rights, we must remember the 
provocation, and not forget those peculiarities of national senti- 
ment which lighten the dark colours in which all such resistance 
of authority presents itself to European eyes. 


Eventually Bombay troops were sent to garrison Sindh, and 
the province became a part of the Bombay Presi- 
Metres d enc y- But it is hard to say how much these first 
abortive attempts to provide for its defence shook 
the discipline of the Sipahi Army. For the evil was one to 
which it was difficult to apply a remedy ; and the authorities 
were greatly perplexed and at variance one with another. The 
disbandment of a mutinous regiment is, in such a case, the most 
obvious, as it is the easiest, measure to which Government can 
resort ; but it may often be unjust in itself and dangerous in 
its results. It falls alike on the innocent and on the guilty. 
It fills the country with the materials of which rebellions are 
made, or sends hundreds of our best fighting-men, with all the 
lessons we have taught them, into the enemy's ranks. To be 
effective, it should follow closely on the commission of the 
crime which it is intended to punish; but it can rarely be 
accomplished with this essential promptitude, for it is only 
under certain favouring circumstances that an order to reduce 
to penury and disgrace a thousand trained soldiers can be 
carried out with safety to the State. To delay the execution of 
the punishment is outwardly to condone the offence. It was 
not strange, therefore, that when the 34th Infantry and the 
7th Cavalry of Bengal mutinied on the frontier, almost in the 
presence of the Sikh Army, there should have been obstinate 
cpiestionings at Head-Quarters as to the expediency of disband- 
ment on the spot, or at some safer place remote from the scene 
of their crimes. It was the opinion of Lord Ellenborough, at 
the time, that a regiment of Europeans and a troop of European 
artillery should have been summoned with all haste from 
Lodiana to Firuzpur, and that, in presence of this force, the 
mutinous corps should have been at once disbanded. But a 
reference, it has been said, was made to Government, and 
the mutinous regiments were marched down, unsentenced, to 
Lodiana and Mirath, there to await the decision of supreme 
authority. The orders given left some discretion with the 
Commander-in-Chief. The 7th Cavalry had not mutinied in a 
body. The native officers and nearly two hundred troopers 
were true to their Salt. Discipline might, therefore, be vin- 
dicated by ordinary processes of law without involving the 
innocent and the guilty alike in one common ruin. But the 
34th, Native officers and Sipahis, were all tainted ; so, with 
every mark of infamy, in the presence of all the troops, Euro- 

1844.] DISBANDMENT. 219 

pean arid Native, at Mirath, the regiment was broken up, the 
British uniform was stripped from the backs of the mutineers, 
and the number of the regiment was erased from the Army 

Propinquity to an overawing European force removes the 
chief difficulties which oppose themselves to the sudden dis- 
solution of a Native regiment. But under no other circum- 
stances is it to be counselled. The question of disbandment, 
therefore, perplexed the Madras authorities even more than 
those of Bengal. To march a regiment, with arms in its hands, 
some hundreds of miles across the country, to receive its ser- 
vices, and perhaps to witness its repentance during a period of 
many weeks, all that time concealing the fate that is in store 
for it, and then, having caged it in a safe place, pinioned it, as 
it were, beyond all hope of resistance, to visit it with all the 
terrors of a long-hidden, long-delayed retribution, is altogether 
abhorrent to the generous nature of an English officer. To 
have disbanded, for example, the 6th Madras Cavalry at Jabal- 
pur would have been cruel and dangerous. To have marched it 
to Arkat in ignorance of its fate, would have been cruel and 
dastardly. To have broken it up at Kampati would have been 
to incur, only in a less degree, the evil of both courses. And 
nothing else appeared possible ; for it was not to be supposed 
that all those indignant Muhammadans, men with whom revenge 
is a virtue, would have quietly gone down, mounted on good 
horses, and with sharpened sabres at their sides, in full know- 
ledge of their destiny, to the disgraceful punishment awaiting 
them. With these considerations before them, it was not 
strange the Madras authorities hesitated to carry out the com- 
prehensive penalty of disbandment, and that, as a choice 
of difficulties, it should have suffered many guilty men to 

In this instance, Lord Ellenborough was eager for disband- 
ment. He said that the conduct of the regiment had been 
equally bad in itself and pernicious in its results, for that the 
disturbed state of Bundelkhand rendered it little short of 
mutiny before the enemy, and it had disconcerted all the 

* Two or three years afterwards the gap was filled up by the raising of a 
new regiment, in no degree better than the old. [It was a rose-water measure 
which inflicted but little real punishment, and failed entirely to stop the 
plague.— G. B. M.] 


arrangements of his Government for the general defence of the 
country. But it was not his, either on principle or in practice, 
to deal harshly with the errors and delusions of the Native 
Army, and there were few men living who had a more kindly 
appreciation of the good qualities of the Sip;ihi, or who could 
more readily sympathise with him. If he did not know pre- 
cisely how to deal with a mutiny of that Army ; if he could 
not, with accurate calculation of the results, so apportion the 
just measures of leniency and severity as in no case to encourage 
by the one or to exasperate by the other, he only failed where 
no one had yet succeeded, and need not have blushed to find 
himself mortal. He often said that a general mutiny of the 
Native Army was the only real danger with which our empire 
in India was threatened ; and he believed that the surest means 
of maintaining the fidelity of the Sipahi was by continually 
feeding his passion for military glory. In this he was right. 
But the passion for military glory cannot always be fed without 
injustice, and the evils of conquest may be greater than its 
gains. He had much faith, too, in the good effect of stirring 
addresses, appealing to the imaginations of the soldiery, and in 
the application of donatives promptly following good service. 
And, although in working out his theory he was sometimes 
impelled to practical expressions of it, which caused people to 
smile, as in the famous Somnat Proclamation, and in the dis- 
tribution of the " favourite mihtais " to the Sipahis 
after the battle of Maharajpur, there was, doubtless, 
sound philosophy at the bottom of it. But such light as this 
only served to show more clearly the many and great difficulties 
with which the whole question of the Sipahi Army was beset, 
and to convince reflecting minds that, though human folly 
might accelerate the break-down of the whole system, human 
wisdom could not so fence it around with safeguards as to give 
it permanent vitality and strength. 

That the treatment to which the mutinies arising out of the 
annexation of Sindh were subjected by the Government of the 
day was nothing more than a series of expedients is a fact, but 
one which may be recorded without censure. The disbandment 
of one regiment, the punishment of a few ringleaders in others, 
the forgiveness of the rest ; the dismissal of an officer or two for 
culpable mismanagement, and a liberal issue of donatives to all 
who during the preceding year had either done well, or suffered 
much, in the service of the State, were so many palliatives, 


born of the moment, which did not touch the seat of the disease, 
or contribute to the future healthy action of the system. But 
there were circumstances, both intrinsic and extrinsic, which 
seemed to forbid, on grounds alike of justice and of policy, the 
application of more vigorous remedies. The fact, indeed, that 
the misconduct of the soldiery had, in a great measure, been the 
direct growth of the injuries which they had sustained at the 
hands of the Government, would have made severity a crime. 
But it was no less certain that leniency was a blunder. If an 
Army once finds that it can dictate to Government the amount 
of its pay, there is an end to the controlling power of the latter. 
What the State ought to have learnt from this lesson was the 
paramount obligation which rested upon it of clearly explaining 
to its troops all regulations affecting their pay and allow- 
ances, and especially such as entailed upon them any loss of 
privileges antecedently enjoyed. Under any circumstances a 
reduction of pay is a delicate and hazardous operation. Even 
the loyalty of European officers is not always proof against 
such a trial. But the absence of explanation aggravates it, in 
the Sipahi's eyes, into a breach of faith ; he believes that he is 
only asserting his rights when he strikes for the restoration of 
that of which he has been, in his own eyes unjustly, deprived •. 
and the Government then, perplexed in the extreme, has only a 
choice of evils before it, and either on the side of leniency or 
severity is too likely to go lamentably wrong. 



It was fortunate, perhaps, for the rulers of that day that Peace 
was but of short duration, and that the " passion for military 
glory " had again something to feed upon. The Sikh Army, 
having risen against its own leaders, was vapouring on the 
hanks of the Satlaj, and threatening to cross the British 
frontier. No war could have been more welcome to the Sipahi 
than a war with the Sikhs. For they were an insolent and 
minacious race, and it was known that they had talked of 
overrunning Hindustan, and pouring on to the sack of Delhi 
and the pillage of Calcutta. They took the first step, and the 
war commenced. 

Whilst the Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief 
were at the head of the Army on the frontier, and 
TbePatna a ]j[ e yes were turned towards the scene of that 
sanguinary conflict on the batlaj, lower down, on 
the banks of the Ganges, four hundred miles from Calcutta, an 
incident was occurring, which, in quiet times, might have made 
itself heard all over the country, but which, lost in the din of 
battle in that momentous winter, gave only a local sound. 
Discovery was made of an organised attempt to corrupt the 
soldiery in the Lower Provinces. On Christmas-eve the Magis- 
trate of Patna received a letter from Major Eowcroft, informing 
him that the Munshi of his regiment — the 1st N.I. — was in 
treasonable correspondence with a rich and influential land- 
owner in the neighbourhood, who had been tampering with the 
allegiance of the Native officers and Sipahis in the contiguous 
station of Danapur. 

Of the truth of the story there was no doubt. To what 
dimensions the conspiracy really extended, and from what 
central point it radiated, is not known, and now never will be 
known. It was a season of considerable popular excitement, 
aggravated in the neighbourhood of Patna by local causes, and 
eager efforts had been made to prepare the people for revolt. 

1845-6.] EXCITEMENT AT PATNA. 223 

Reports had been for some time current to the effect that the 
British Government purposed to destroy the caste of the 
Hindus, and to abolish Muharumadanism by forbidding the initial 
ceremonj- through which admission is obtained to the number 
of the Faithful. And to this was added another lie, scarcely 
less alarming, that the Pardah was also to be prohibited, and that 
Muhammadan females of all ranks were to be compelled to go 
about unveiled. Stories of this kind, it has been observed, 
however monstrous in themselves, are readily believed, if there 
be but only a very little truth to give them currency. The 
truth may be from within or it may be from without. It may 
be direct proof or indirect confirmation. It little matters so 
lung as there is something which men may see and judge for 
themselves. There had been many exciting causes at this time, 
to rouse the resentments and to stimulate the activities of the 
Maulvis and the Pandits, such as the new law of inheritance 
and the new educational measures ; and now the introduction of 
the messing system in the gaols was a patent fact which all 
might understand. It was an incident, moreover, of untoward 
occurrence, that about this time, when designing men were 
eagerly looking out for some false move on the part of the 
Government, the Magistrate of Patna, at the request of the 
Principal of the College, alarmed the inhabitants of the city by 
instituting inquiries enabling him to form something of a census 
of the population, showing their different castes, professions, and 
employments — a movement which was at once declared to be 
a part of the great scheme of the Government for the forcible 
conversion of the people. 

But it was necessary that the soldiery should be gained over 
by some alarming fiction of especial application to the Sipahi 
himself. Already had indirect agency been set at work for his 
corruption. He found the lie in full leaf in his native village. 
When he went on furlough, his relatives told him that if he did 
not make a stand for his religion he would soon have to fight 
against his brethren and kinsmen.* When he returned to his 
regiment he found that every one was talking on the same 
subject, and that it was currently believed that the introduction 
of the messing system into the gaols was to be followed by its 

* Some of the men of the 1st Regiment told Major Eowcroft that the 
villagers had said, "Our village furnishes 500 men to your Army; but if you 
will not listen to us, we will send 2000 jawans (young men) to oppose you." 


introduction into the Army, and that the Sipahi was not much 
longer to he allowed to have uncontrolled dominion over his own 

If, then, there had been nothing more than this, the time 
would have been propitious, and plotters might reasonably have 
thought that the opportunity was ripe. But in that winter of 
1845—46 a seditious enterprise of this kind in the Lower 
Provinces was favoured by the circumstances of the great war 
with the Sikhs, which was drawing all the resources of the 
Government to the North-Western frontier. There was a vague 
belief that lakhs of Panjabi fighting-men would soon be streaming 
over the country, and that the English would be driven into the 
sea. Many, then, with eager cupidity, bethought themselves of 
gutting the opium godowns of Patna, where a million and a half 
of Government property lay stored ; and all the dangerous 
classes of the city were ripe and ready for pillage and for 
slaughter. A rising of the Sipahis at such a time, or their 
acquiescence in a rising of the people, might have been fatal to 
the continued supremacy of Government in that part of the 
country. The plotters scarcely hoped to accomplish more than 
the latter of these two means of overthrowing the English. At 
all events, it was safer to begin with the milder experiment on 
the fidelity of the Sipahi. bo delegates went about in the Lines 
saying that the great King of Dehli had sent a confidential 
agent to give a month's pay to every Native officer and soldier 
in the regiments in order that if any outbreak should occur iu 
their part of the country they should not lift a hand in support 
of the Government. All the landowners, and the cultivators, 
and the townspeople were ready, it was said, to rise ; and if the 
soldiery would only remain inactive, the British power might be 
destroyed before it could perpetrate the outrages by which it 
sought to overturn the religions of the country. 

A Jamadar of the 1st Eegiinent heard this story, gravely 
listened to all that was urged by the emissary of sedition, and 
said that he would consider of the matter.* Then he repeated 
all that had happened to his commanding officer, and measm-es 
were soon taken to test the reality of the plot. There was 
at all events one substantial proof that the story was no fiction. 

* The Jamadar was a Brahman, by name Moti-Misr. He had been pay- 
havililar to Roweroft, when the latter was adjutant of the regiment, and was 
greatly attached to him. 


There was money counted out for the work of corruption, and 
tied up in bags ready for immediate delivery. It was agreed that 
the Jamadar and another officer in Eowcroft's confidence should 
take the money, and matters were soon conveniently arranged so 
as to bring about the disclosure. A detachment of the regiment 
was about to proceed to Gaya; with, this went the two faithful 
Jamadars. On the way they met or were overtaken by two 
well-dressed Muhammadans in an ekka, or native wheeled- 
carriage, who gave tbem the money, saying that others had 
taken it, and that larger supplies were forthcoming for the same 
purpose. Nothing could stamp the reality of the design more 
surely than this. Men are in earnest when they part with their 

Another Native officer of the 1st traitorously took the cor- 
rupting coin, and a Munshi of the regiment Avas found to be 
deeply implicated in the plot. But Eowcroft's opportune 
discovery of the attempt to debauch his men, and the measures 
which he wisely adopted, rendered the further efforts of the 
conspirators utterly futile and hopeless. The military offenders 
were soon in confinement; the civil magistrate was tracking 
down the instigators of sedition ; and if no great success then 
attended the attempt to bring the necks of the most guilty to 
the gallows, it was sufficient for the public peace that the plot 
was discovered. What the amount of real danger then was it 
is difficult to determine. Two other Native regiments at 
Danapiir were tampered with in like manner, but the dis- 
covery of the plot in Eowcroft's corps rendered other efforts 
abortive. Many great names were used by the agents of 
sedition, but upon what authority can only be conjectured. It 
was stated that a royal mandate had come from the King of 
Dehli ; that the Bajah of Nipal was ready to send a great 
army sweeping down to the plains ; and again it was said that 
the Sikhs were the prime movers of the plot.* All this can be 
only obscurely shadowed on the page of history. But it is 

* The principal aetor in the Patna conspiracy was one Khojah Hasan Ali 
Khan. It seems that at the Sdnpur Fair, a short time before, he had 
appeared in great state, and received a considerable number of influential 
people in his tent, with the object of instilling: into them a fear of religious 
conversion, and encouraging their determination to resist. He escaped for 
want of evidence. There was also a wandering bookseller, who, on the plea 
of selling Persian volumes to the Munshis of regiments, readily gained 
access to them without exciting suspicion. 

vol. I. Q 


certain that a scroll was found, described by a witness as being 
many dibits long, on which the names of some hundred of 
respectable inhabitants of Patna, Hindus and Muhammadans, 
were attached to a solemn declaration binding them to die in 
defence of their religion, and that it was honestly believed by 
large numbers of the educated no less than the ignorant people 
of that part of the country, that the one cherished object of 
the British Government was to reduce all the people of India 
to the no-caste state of the Faringhis. Of the reality of this 
belief there is no doubt ; so a Proclamation was put forth by 
the Governor of Bengal, declaring that as the British Govern- 
ment never had interfered, so the people might be assured thai 
it never would interfere in any way with the religions of the 

The Jamadar and the Munshi of the 1st Regiment, who had 
been seduced into traitorous courses, were tried by court-martial, 
and sentenced to death, with the usual reluctance manifested 
by a tribunal composed only of Native officers.* But it was nol 
necessary to strike terror into the minds of an army hovering 
on the brink of general mutiny ; so the sentence was not carried 
out. Whatever danger there may have been had passed away.1 
The victories of Hardin ge and Gough had a grand moral effecl 
from one end of the country to the other, for it had been 
believed that the British were sore pressed, and that their powei 
would be shaken to the centre by this collision with the Sikhs. 
Victory made all things right again, and for a while we heard 
nothing more of mutiny or sedition. With intervals of com- 
parative repose, distinguished by an occupation of the Sikt 
country, very flattering to the Sipahi's pride, and very profitable 
to his purse, the operations which resulted in the fall of the 

* Not long after the discovery of this plot, Major Rowcroft was seized witt 
severe illness, not without suspicion of poison, and obliged to proceed to 
England. Jamadar Moti-Misr told him that on his return to Iudia, he would, 
doubtless, be able to lay before the Major further facts illustrative of the 
extent of the conspiracy. But when Rowcroft rejoined the regiment both 
Moti-Misr and the other faithful Jamadar were dead. 

t It is stated in an interesting pamphlet, published by Mr. Stocqueler, iD 
1857, that it was said at Danapur, after the discovery of this conspiracy, that 
although the English had then escaped, there would be, in 1S57, when they 
had ruled a hundred years, such a tomdaha as the country had never seen. 
I can find no trace of this in any contemporary documents, nor have rny 
inquiries from officers who were then at Danapur enabled me to confirm the 
truth of the story. 


Sikh empire then lasted for more than three years. The story 
has been told in the first chapter of this work. The Panjab, 
like Sindh, was turned by a stroke of the pen into a British 
province, and the same difficulties bristled up in the path of the 
Annexer. The Sipahi, called to serve in the Panjab, had no 
longer the privileges of foreign service ; and, in spite of the 
lesson taught by the Sindh annexation, he could not understand 
why the conquest of the country should be inaugurated by the 
reduction of his pay. 

And so the regiments in the Panjab at that time, and those 
which were moved across the Satlaj from our 
older provinces, determined to refuse the reduced Mutiny in the 
rates, and to stand out boldly for the higher Panjab. 
allowances. All the regiments, suffering or soon to suffer from 
the incidence of the reduction, took counsel with each other, 
and promised mutual support. Delegates from the several corps 
went about from station to station, and letters were exchanged 
between those at a distance. The first manifestation of open 
discontent was at Eawalpindi. There, one morning in July, 
Sir Colin Campbell, a soldier of the highest promise, already 
budding into fame — the " war-bred Sir Colin," as Napier then 
called him — received the significant intelligence 
that the 22nd Eegiment had refused to receive 
their pay. Outwardly, the Sipahis were calm and respectful , 
but their calmness indicated a sense of strength, and Campbell 
felt that all the other Native regiments in the Panjab would 
probably follow their example. Such a combination at any 
time and in any place would have been dangerous and alarming ; 
but the peril was greatly aggravated by the peculiar circum- 
stances of the times. For it had grown up in a newly-con- 
quered country, swarming with the disbanded fighting-men of 
the old Sikh Army, and it was believed that our discontented 
Sipahis, if they had once broken into rebellion, would have soon 
found their ranks swollen by recruits from the Khalsa soldiery, 
eager to profit by the crisis, and again to strike for the recovery 
of their lost dominion. We had just seen the downfall of an 
empire precipitated by the lawlessness of an army, driven 
onward by the impulses of its greed ; and now it seemed as 
though our own soldiery, having caught the contagion, were 
clamouring for donatives, and that it required very careful 
steering to save us from being wrecked upon the same rock. 

Sir Charles Napier had, at that time, just appeared upon the 

Q 2 


stase. He had hastened from Calcutta to Simla to meet the 
Governor-General, who was refreshing himself with the cool 
mountain air ; and there the news reached him, not that one, 
but that two regiments at Eawalpindi had refused to take their 
pay, and that there was every prospect of four more regiments 
at Wazirabad, and two at the intermediate station of Jhilam, 
following their example. Then Dalhousie and Napier took 
counsel together, with some of their staff-officers, and it was 
debated whether it would not be wise to strike a vigorous blow 
at the incipient mutiny by disbanding the regiments which 
had already refused to accept their pay. To this course, pro- 
posed by Colonel Benson, an old officer of the Company's service, 
held in deserved regard by many successive Governors-General, 
Napier resolutely objected, and Dalhousie concurred with the 
Chief. Hoping for the best, but still prepared for the worst, 
the old soldier instructed Campbell to point out to the recusant 
regiments the folly and wickedness of their course ; but he 
wrote privately to him that in the event of their obduracy, he 
and other commanding officers must bring the power of the 
European regiments in the Panjab to bear upon the coercion of 
the mutinous Sipahis. But before these letters arrived, Camp- 
bell had tided over the difficulty. " The combination amongst 
the men of the 13th and 22nd Kegiments," he wrote to Napier, 
on the 26th of July, " gave way to fear on the 18th, the day 
before your prescription for bringing them to their senses was 
despatched from Simla." The fact is that, at that time, they 
were not ready ; they were not strong enough for the resistance 
of authority ; and they were not prepared to be the protomartyrs 
in such a cause. There was a European regiment at Eawalpindi ; 
there were European regiments at other stations not far removed ; 
and so it was held to be a wiser course to wait until the new 
regiments should arrive from the older provinces and unite with 
them in the dangerous work of military rebellion. 

That these regiments were prepared to resist was soon too 
apparent. From Simla, Napier proceeded on a tour of inspection 
to the principal military stations in the Northern Provinces of 
India ; and at Delhi he found unmistakable signs of a confedera- 
tion of many regiments determined not to serve in the Panjab 
except on the higher pay. One regiment there, warned for 
service beyond the Satlaj, declared its intention not to march; 
but it was conciliated by a liberal grant of furloughs, which 
had before been withheld; and it went on to its destination. 

1849.] COLONEL HEARSEY. 229 

Napier believed that the spirit of disaffection was wide-spread. 
He had heard ominous reports of twenty-four regiments pre- 
pared to strike, and when he entered the Panjab, he was not 
surprised to find that mutiny was there only in a state of sus- 
pended activity, and that at any moment it might burst out, 
all the more furiously for this temporary suppression. 

At Wazirabad it soon openly manifested itself. In command 
of that station was one of the best soldiers of the Company's 
service. At an early age John Hearsey had earned a name in 
History, as one of the heroes of Sitabaldi, and thirty years of 
subsequent service had thoroughly ripened his experience, so 
that at this time he had perhaps as large a knowledge of the 
Sipahi, of his temper, of his habits, of his language, as any 
officer in the Native Army. With this large knowledge dwelt 
also in him a large sympathy. It commonly happened in those 
days that the man who best knew the Sipahi best loved him ; 
and Hearsey, who had seen how good a soldier he could be 
before the enemy, respected his good qualities, and looked 
leniently on his bad. He believed that, with good management, 
a Sipahi regiment might be kept, under almost any circum- 
stances, in the right temper, and he had great faith in the magic 
efficacy of a good speech. When, therefore, one of the regiments 
at Wazirabad openly refused its pay, Hearsey drew up the men 
on parade, and addressed them in language so touching, so 
forcible, and so much to the point, that many hung down their 
heads, ashamed of what they had done, and some even shed 
tears of penitence. The pay was then offered to them again. 
The first four men who refused were tried at once, and sentenced 
to imprisonment with hard labour. The whole brigade was 
then turned out to see the sentence carried into effect. There 
were four Native regiments at Wazirabad ; but there was also 
a Eegiment of the Line and detachments of European Artillery, 
Horse and Foot. In the presence of this force, the convicted 
Sipahis were manacled as felons and sent off to work on the 
roads. After this, there were no more refusals ; the men took 
their pay and did their work. 

But discipline had not yet been fully vindicated. Three 
ringleaders, who had been known to go from company to com- 
pany, instigating and fomenting rebellion, were tried by court- 
martial, and sentenced to fourteen years' imprisonment. But 
Napier, who regarded in a far stronger light both the enormity 
of the offence and the magnitude of the danger, ordered a 

230 THE SIPiHI ARMY — ITS DECLINE. [1849-50. 

revision of the sentence, and death was recorded against the 
culprits ; and against two others who were tried for the same 
offence by the same Court.* Then justice was satisfied, and 
mercy might stretch forth its hand. The sentence was com- 
muted to transportation for life. " In eternal exile," said Napier, 
in his general order to the troops, "they will 
Jan , u „ a J7 25 ' expiate their crimes. For ever separated from 

1850. -., *i -t • ~t • • 

their country and their relations, m a strange 
land beyond the seas, they will linger out their miserable lives. 
It is a change, but I do not consider it an amelioration of their 
punishment. They will remain living examples of the miserable 
fate which awaits traitors to their colours." 

But the spirit of disaffection was not suppressed, though 
locally for a time it was subdued. It was declared that the 
Post-office runners laboured under the weight of the Sipahis' 
letters, which were then passing from cantonment to canton- 
ment ; but a large number of these letters were seized and 
examined, and they were found to contain nothing on the 
subject of the allowances. f Napier, however, anticipated a 
crisis, and was prepared for it. Taking post at Peshawar, the 
extremest comer of our new Panjab territory, where was a 
strong European force, he believed that he would ere long be 
compelled to sweep down with the English regiments, picking 
up reinforcements as he went from station to station, and to 
crush a general rising of the Sipahi troops. And soon it 
appeared to him that the crisis had come. The 66th Eegiment 
broke into mutiny at Govindgarh. Bursting out, on parade, 
with vehement shouts of disapprobation, they attempted to 
seize the gates of the Fort, so as to cut off all communication 
with the loyal troops outside the walls. There was no European 
regiment at Grovindgarh, but the 1st Native Cavalry, under 
Bradford, were faithful among the faithless, and, aided by the 
cool courage of Macdonald of the 66th, they made good their 
entrance through the gate.| The Fort was saved. The European 

* Sir Charles Napier, in his Indian Misgoverninent, says that four were 
tried at first, and one afterwards ; but the fact is as stated in the text. 

f Sir Henry Lawrence, in Calcutta Review, vol. xxii. The statement is 
made on the authority of Major W. Mayne, President of the Goviudgarh 
Court of Enquiry. 

% An opportune blow from Macdonald's sword appears to have caused the 
gate to be opened. See statement published by Sir H. Lawrence in Calcutta 
Review, vol. xxiL 


officers were saved. And the guilty regiment was doomed to a 
moral death. The 66th was struck out of the Army List. The 
men were disbanded in a body, and their colours given to a 
corps of Gurkhas, from the hill-tracts of Nipal, who were known 
to be good soldiers, with no Brahman leal daintiness about them, 
and a general fidelity to their Salt. 

" When the 66th was disbanded," says Sir Charles Napier, 
" the mutiny ceased entirely. Why ? The Brahmans saw that 
the Gurkhas, another race, could be brought into the ranks of 
the Company's Army — a race dreaded, as more warlike than 
their own. Their religious combination was by that one stroke 
rendered abortive." But, far other causes than this helped to 
subdue the spirit of disaffection which was then ripening in 
the Panjab. The Sipahis had struck for higher allowances than 
those which had been granted to them by the strict letter of 
the Eegulations ; but Napier thought, that however unsoldierly, 
however culpable their conduct might be, some grounds of 
dissatisfaction existed. The change, which the Sipahis re- 
sented, was declared by the Chief to be " impolitic and unjust" ; 
and, pending a reference to Government, orders were issued for 
the payment of compensation to the troops, on a higher scale 
than that sanctioned by the latest regulations.* 

* The bare statement in the text will suffice for the general reader, but 
not, perhaps, for the professional one. It may be stated, therefore, that it had 
been for many years the rule of the Indian Government, "whenever the prices 
of the common articles of consumption used by the Native soldiery exceeded 
a certain fixed price, to grant them compensation proportionate to the ad- 
ditional cost of supplies. This bounty seems first to have been bestowed in 
the year 1821 on the Native troops serving in the Western Provinces, and 
was limited to the single article of attah, or flour. Whenever attah was 
selling at less than fifteen sirs (or thirty pounds) the rupee, a proportionate 
compensation was granted. But, subsequently, in 1844, the application of 
this order was extended by Lord Ellenborough, and compensation also was 
granted to the Native troops serving in Sindh, when certain minor articles 
of consumption were selling at a high price. In the following year a new 
order relative to this same subject of compensation-money was issued by 
Lord Hardinge, who had by this time succeeded to the government. Instead 
of granting a separate money-compensation for each particular high-priced 
article of consumption, all the several articles were massed, and some being 
cheaper than elsewhere, a general average was struck. It was then officially 
announced that thenceforth compensation would be granted to the Sipahis 
" whenever the price of provisions, forming the Native soldier's diet, should 
exceed 3 rupees and 8 annas, the aggregate of the rates for the several articles 
laid down in the General Orders of the 26th of February, 1844." Whenever, 
in other words, the Sipahi was unable to obtain his daily rations at a cost of 


Then arose that memorable conflict between Napier and 
Dalhousie, which ended in the resignation by the 

Daihousie and former of an office which many had predicted that 
he conld not long continue to hold. Both were 
men of imperious temper, and a collision between them was, 
from the first, clearly foreseen. When the Military Chief took 
upon himself to readjust the allowances of the troops in the 
Panjab, the Civil Governor was at sea beyond the reach of an 
official reference. He returned to find what had been done, and 
he resented such an encroachment upon the prerogative of the 
Government. Napier had justified the exercise of an authority 
not constitutionally belonging to his office, by the assertion 
that the danger was pressing, and that action, in such an 
emergency, did not admit delay. Dalhousie denied the 
premises ; he insisted that there had been no danger. " I 
cannot sufficiently express," he wrote, in an elaborate Minute 
on Napier's proceedings, " the astonishment with which I read, 
on the 26th of May, the intimation then made to the Govern- 
ment by the Commander-in-Chief, that in the month of January 
last a mutinous spirit pervaded the army in the Panjab, and 
that insubordination had risen so high and spread so wide, as 
to impress his Excellency with the belief that the Government 
of the country was placed at that time in a position of ' great 
peril.' I have carefully weighed the statements which his 
Excellency has advanced. I have examined anew the records 
that bear on the state of public affairs at that period, and I 
have well reflected upon all that has passed. While I do not 
seek to question in any way the sincerity of the convictions by 
which Sir Charles Napier has been led to declare that the army 
was in ■ mutiny and the empire in clanger, I, on my part, am 
bound to say that my examination and reflection have not lessened 
in any degree the incredulity with which I first read the 
statements to which I have referred." " There is no justi- 
fication," continued his Lordship, " for the cry that India was 
in danger. Free from all threat of hostilities from without, 

3 rupees 8 annas a month (which cost was calculated in accordance with the 
aggregate fixed rates of the prices of provisions, beyond which compensation, 
under the old regulations, was granted for each article), the excess was to be 
defrayed by the Government. The regulation of 1845 was not so favourable 
to the troops as that of 184-1, and Sir Charles Napier, believing that the 
application of the former rule to the troops in the Panjab was a mistake, 
directed the regulation of 1844 again to be brought into force. 


and secure, through the submission of its new subjects, from 
insurrection within, the safety of India has never for one 
moment been imperilled by the partial insubordination in the 
ranks of its army. I have confronted the assertions of the 
Commander-in-Chief on this head with undisputed facts, and 
with the authority of recorded documents, and my convictions 
strengthened by the information which the Government 
commands, I desire to record my entire dissent from the 
statement that the army has been in mutiny, and the empire in 

This was, doubtless, the popular view of the matter ; and it 
was readily accepted at the time. What amount of danger 
really existed was never known, and now never will be known. 
Whatever it may have been, it was tided over; and the 
quietude that followed this temporary explosion seemed to 
warrant the confidence which the Governor-General had ex- 
pressed. But Napier held to his opinion with as much tenacity 
as Dalhousie. Nothing could shake the belief of the old soldier 
that the exceptional course he had adopted was justified by 
the exceptional circumstances of the times. Still he knew the 
duty of obedience ; he knew that in a conflict between two 
authorities the lower must yield to the higher, and that he had 
no right to complain if the latter asserted the power vested in 
him by the Law. " And I do not complain," he emphatically 
added. But strong in his conviction of right, and master of 
himself, though not of the situation, he felt that he could 
retire with dignity from a position which he could not hold 
with profit to the State. And he did retire. On the 22nd of 
May, he addressed a letter to the Horse-Guards, requesting that 
the Duke of Wellington would obtain her gracious Majesty's 
permission for him to resign the chief command of the Indian 
Army. " And the more so," he added, " as being now nearly 
seventy years of age — during the last ten years of which I have 
gone through considerable fatigue of body and mind, especially 
during the • last year — my health requires that relief from 
climate and business which public service in India does not 

But there is no blame, in such a case, to be recorded against 
the Governor-General. When an old and distinguished soldier 
— a warrior of high repute, and a man of consummate ability — 
deliberately declares that he regards the system under which 
he has been called upon to command an army as a system at 


once faulty and dangerous; that lie conceives the power of the 
civil magistrate to be so absolute that the arm of the chief 
soldier is paralysed ; and that, so enervated and emasculated bv 
restrictions imposed upon him by law, he cannot wield the 
sword with honour to himself or advantage to the State, and 
that, therefore, he desires to lay it down, he utters words 
which, whether he be right or wrong in his estimate of what 
ought to be the just balance between the civil and the military 
j)ower, are honest, manly, dignified words, and outrht every- 
where to be received with respect. Few men had a better 
right than Sir Charles Napier to criticise an Act of Parliament. 
He had a right to think that the law was a bad law ; and he 
had a right to say that it was bad. But the law, whether good 
or bad, was not made by Lord Dalhousie, but by the British 
Parliament. It was Dalhousie's business to administer that 
law, and to maintain the authority vested in him by the 
Imperial Legislature. Of this Napier had no right to complain, 
and he declared that he did not complain. But the contest was 
on every account an unseemly and an unfortunate one. It was 
another and a culminating instance of that excessive central- 
isation which weakened the authority and degraded the character 
of the military arm, and taught the soldiery that the greatest 
chief whom England could send them was as much a subaltern 
of the civil governor as the youngest ensign on the Army List. 
And it taught even more than this. It taught thinking 
men, not for the first time, that even the chief members of the 
Government were at war among themselves, and the lesson 
shook their faith in the stability of a power thus disunited, 
thus incoherent. " I am now sixty years of age," wrote an 
intelligent native official to Sir George Clerk. " I have heard 
three sayings repeated by wise men, and I myself have also 
found out, from my own experience, that the sovereignty of 
the British Government will not be overthrown save by the 
occurrence of three objectionable circumstances." And the first 
of these circumstances he thus stated : " Formerly the high, 
dignified Sahibs had no enmity among themselves, or at least 
the people of India never came to know that they had enmity. 
Now enmity exists among them, and it is as well seen as the 
sun at noonday that they calumniate and bear malice against 
each other." * Such conflicts of authority are keenly watched and 

* MS. Correspondence, translated from the Persian. 


volubly discussed ; and a significance is attached to them out of 
all proportion to the importance with which amongst us like 
contentions are invested. The natives of India know that we 
are few ; hut they feel that union makes us many. Seen to he 
at discord among ourselves, we shrivel into our true pro- 
portions, and it is believed that our power is beginning to 
crumble and decay. 

During the administration of Lord Ellenborough there had 
been disunion among the higher authorities, arising out of 
nearly similar causes. The unauthorised promises given by 
the Commander-in-Chief to the Native troops proceeding to 
Sindh had stirred the resentment of the Governor-General, and 
his grave displeasure was excited by the zealous indiscretions 
of the Madras Government. But he had studiously veiled 
from the public eye the differences that had arisen. There was 
nothing to which he was more keenly alive than to the 
necessity, especially in troubled times, of maintaining a show of 
union and co-operation in the high places of Government. It 
was his hard fate at last to be compelled, by the fiat of a 
higher power, to exhibit to the people of India, in his own 
person, the very spectacle which he had striven to conceal from 
them, and to declare, trumpet-tongued, that the English were 
vehemently contending among themselves. But so long as 
he exercised the supreme control he was careful not to reveal 
the local dissensions of the Government, lest he should weaken 
the authority it was so essential to uphold ; and little even is 
now known of the strife that raged at the time, when the 
great difficulty of garrisoning Sindh was filling the minds of 
the rulers of the land. But the strife between Dalhousie and 
Napier was proclaimed, almost as it were by beat of drum, in 
all the Lines and Bazaars of the country ; and all men knew 
that the English, who used so to cling to one another, that it 
seemed that they thought with one strong brain and struck 
with one strong arm, were now wasting their vigour by 
warring among themselves, and in their disunion ceasing to 
be formidable. 

This was apparent to all men's eyes ; but the Sipahi had his 
own particular lesson to learn, and did not neglect it. How 
it happened that the bitter experience which the English 
Government had gained, on the annexation of Sindh, made 
no impression upon the minds of those whose duty it was 
to provide against the recurrence of similar disasters, it, is 


impossible to explain. All we know is, that five years after a 
misunderstanding between the Government and the Army 
with respect to the rates of pay and allowance to be disbursed 
to the Sipahi, in a newly-acquired country, had driven into 
mutiny a large number of Native regiments, and greatly per- 
plexed the rulers of the day, a similar conjuncture arose, and 
there was a similar misunderstanding, with similar results.* 
The Sipahi had not learnt to reconcile himself to the British 
theory of Annexation, and so he resented it in the Panjab as 
he had before resented it in Sindh. In the latter country the 
excitement was far greater, and the danger more serious, than 
in the former ; but in both there was an outburst on the one 
side, and a concession on the other. That was given to the 
mutinous soldier, not without loss of character by Government, 
which might before have been given to the loyal one with 
befitting dignity and grace. When the emergency arises, it is 
hard to say whether there be greater evil in concession or in 
resistance. Napier thought the one thing, Dalhousie thought 
the other ; and each had strong argument on his side. But 
both must have bitterly regretted that the contingency was 
ever suffered to arise, that no one in authority, warned by the 
lessons of the Past, had learnt to look at the consequences of 
Annexation with a Sipahi's eyes, and anticipated, by small 
concessions, the not irrational expectations which, at a later 
stage developing into demands, had all the force and signifi- 
cance of mutiny. Had this been done ; had the Sipahi been 

* This uncertainty with respect to the pay and allowances of different 
branches and different ranks of the Indian Army was emphatically com- 
mented upon by Sir Henry Lawrence in an article bearing his name in the 
Calcutta Bevieiv : " Of all the wants of the Army, perhaps the greatest want 
is a simple pay-code, unmistakably showing the pay of every rank, in each 
branch, under all circumstances. At present there are not three officers in 
the Bengal Army who could, with certainty, tell what they and the people 
under them are entitled to in every position in which they are liable to be 
placed. The Audit-office seldom affords help. It is considered an enemy 
ready to take advantage of difficulties, not an umpire between man and man. 
During the last thirty years I have seen much hardship on officers in matters 
■of accounts, and of the several instances of discontent that I have witnessed 
in the Native Army, all were more or less connected with pay. and in almost 
every instance the men only asked for what they were by existing rules 
entitled to. Half a sheet of paper ought to show every soldier his rate of 
pay, by sea, by land, on leave, on the staff', in hospital, on duty, &c. There 
ought to be no doubt on the matter. At present there is great doubt, 
though there are volumes of Pay and Audit Regulations." 


told that in consideration of increased distance from home, and 
other circumstances rendering service in Sindh and the Panjab 
more irksome to him than in our older provinces, certain 
especial advantages would be conferred upon him — advantages 
which might have been bestowed at small cost to the State — 
he would have received the boon with gratitude, and applauded 
the justice of his masters ; but after he had struck for it, he 
saw not their justice, but their fear, in the concession, and he 
hugged the feeling of power, which lessons such as these could 
not fail to engender. 



After this, there was again a season of quiet. The remaining 
years of Lord Dalhousie's administration passed away without 
any further military outbreaks to disturb his rooted conviction 
of the fidelity of the Sipahi. There were not wanting those who 
declared that there was an ineradicable taint in the constitu- 
tion of the Bengal Arniy, that it was rotten to the very core. 
But the angry controversies which arose — the solemn warnings 
on the one side, and the indignant denials on the other — 
proved nothing more than that among men entitled to speak 
with authority on the subject there were vast diversities of 
opinion. Much of this was attributed to class prejudices and 
professional jealousies. One voice, very loud and very earnest, 
pealing from the West, sustained for years a continual remon- 
strance against the laxities of the Bengal system. But Bengal 
resented the outrage. A genuine man, above all pettiness, 
John Jacob, was declared to be the exponent only of small 
Presidential envyings and heart-burnings. The voice of 
Truth was proclaimed to be the voice of Bombay. And 
when officers of the Bengal Army wrote, as some did most 
wisely, of the evil symptoms which were manifesting them- 
selves, and of the clangers which appeared to be looming 
in the distance, they were denounced as defilers of their 
own nest, and as feeble-minded alarmists, to whose utterances 
no heed should be given. There was a general unwilling- 
ness to believe in the decay of discipline throughout one 
of the finest armies of the world ; and in the absence of 
any outward signs of mischief, we willingly consented not 
to look beneath the surface for the virus of undeveloped 

There is nothing that is strange, and little that is blamable 
in this. The Bengal Sipahi had evinced signs of a fro ward, 
petulant nature, and he had, on several occasions, broken out 


after a fashion which, viewed by European military eyes, is 
criminality of the deepest dye. But these aberrations were 
merely a few dark spots upon a century of good service. It 
was not right that rare exceptions of this kind should cancel in 
our minds all the noble acts of fidelity which were chronicled 
in the history of our Empire. Nor was it to be forgotten that, 
in most instances, the criminality of the Sipahi had been the 
direct growth of some mismanagement on the part either of the 
officers whom he followed or the Government which he served. 
To have looked with suspicion on the Sipahi, because from 
time to time some component parts of our Army had done that 
which the Armies of every Native State had done with their 
whole accumulated strength, would have been equally unwise 
and unjust. For although it might be said that the examples 
which those Natives States afforded ought to have taught us 
to beware of the destroying power of a lawless soldiery, the 
English were justified in believing that there were special 
reasons why their own mercenaries should not tread in the 
footsteps of the Maratha and Sikh Armies. They did not 
believe in the love of the Sipahi ; but they believed in his 
fidelity to his Pay. 

Whilst it was natural, and indeed commendable, that the 
remembrance of all the good service which the 
Native soldiery had done for their English Char |J/ h ? fthe 
masters, should have sustained our confidence in 
them as a body, there was nothing in the individual character 
of the Sipahi to subvert it. Even his outbreaks of rebellion 
had recently partaken more of the naughtiness of the child than 
of the stern resolution of manhood. He had evinced a dis- 
position, indeed, rather to injure himself than to injure others ; 
and it was not easy for those who knew him to believe that he 
was capable of any violent and sanguinary excesses. His 
character was made up of inconsistencies, but the weaker and 
less dangerous qualities appeared to have the preponderance ; 
and though we knew that they made him a very difficult 
person to manage, we did not think that they made him a 
dangerous one. From the time when, in the very infancy of 
the Sipahi Army, a Madras soldier cut down Mr. Haliburton, 
and was immediately put to death by his own comrades, to the 
day when Colin Mackenzie was well-nigh butchered at Bolarani 
by troopers of his own brigade, there had been ever and anon 
some murderous incidents to disfigure the Military History of 


our Indian Empire.* But outrages of this kind are common to 
all armies ; and. there was no reason to regard them in any- 
other light than that of exceptional aberrations. It was not to 
be said that the Sipahi was a ruffian because he had done 
some ruffianly deeds. 

He was, indeed, altogether a paradox. He was made up of 
inconsistencies and contradictions. In his character, qualities 
so adverse as to be apparently irreconcilable with each other 
met together and embraced. He was simple and yet designing; 
credulous and easily deceived by others, and yet obstinately 
tenacious of his own inbred convictions ; now docile as a child, 
and now hard and immovable in the stubbornness of his man- 
hood. Abstemious and yet self-indulgent, calm and yet im- 
petuous, gentle and yet cruel, he was indolent even to languor 
in his daily life, and yet capable of being roused to acts of the 
most desperate energy. Sometimes sportive, and sometimes 
sullen, he was easily elevated and easily depressed ; but he was 
for the most part of a cheerful nature, and if you came suddenly 
upon him in the Lines you were more likely to see him with a 
broad grin upon his face than with any expression of moroseness 
or discontent. But light-hearted as was his general tempera- 
ment, he would sometimes brood over imaginary wrongs, and 
when a delusion once entered his soul it clung to it with the 
subtle malevolence of an ineradicable poison. 

And this, as we now understand the matter, was the most 
dangerous feature of his character. For his gentler, more genial 
qualities sparkled upon the surface and were readily appreciated, 
whilst all the harsher and more forbidding traits lay dark and 
disguised, and were not discernible in our ordinary intercourse 
with him. There was outwardly, indeed, very much to rivet 
the confidence of the European officer, and very little to disturb 
it. It is true that if we reasoned about it, it did not seem to be 
altogether reasonable to expect from the Sipahi any strong 
affection for the alien officer who had usurped all the high places 
of the Army, and who kept him down in the dead level of the 
dust. But Englishmen never reason about their position in the 
midst of a community of strangers ; they take their popularity 
for granted, and look for homage as a thing of course. And that 

* See Williams's Bengal Army and Mackenzie's Narrative of the Mutiny 
at Bolarara ; compare also section on the Sipahi Army in Sutherland's Sketches 
of the Native States of India. 


homage was yielded to the British officer, not for his own sake, 
for the Sipahi hated his colour and his creed, his unclean ways, 
and his domineering manners ; but because he was an embodi- 
ment of Success. It was one of the many inconsistencies of 
which I have spoken, that though boastful and vainglorious 
beyond all example, the Native soldier of India inwardly 
acknowledged that he owed to the English officer the aliment 
which fed his passion for glory and sustained his military pride. 
This, indeed, was the link that bound class to class, and resisted 
the dissolving power of many adverse influences. It was this 
that moved the Sipahi to light up the tomb of his old command- 
ing officer ; it was this that moved the veteran to salute the 
picture of the General under whom he had fought. But there 
was a show also of other and gentler feelings, and there were 
instances of strong personal attachment, of unsurpassed fidelity 
and devotion, manifested in acts of charity and love. You might 
see the Sipahi of many fights, watchful and tender as a woman, 
beside the sick-bed of the English officer, or playing with the 
pale-faced children beneath the verandah of his captain's 
bungalow. There was not an English gentlewoman in the 
country who did not feel measureless security in the thought 
that a guard of Sipahis watched her house, or who would not 
have travelled, under such an escort, across the whole length 
and breadth of the land. What was lurking beneath the fair 
surface we knew not. We saw only the softer side of the 
Sipahi's nature ; and there was nothing to make us believe that 
there was danger in the confidence which we reposed in those 
outward signs of attachment to our rule. 

But whilst cherishing this not unreasonable confidence in 
the general good character of the Sipahi, the British 
Government might still have suffered some doubts Defects in 
and misgivings to arise when they looked into the 
details of the System. They might, it has been urged, have be- 
lieved in the soundness of the whole, but admitted the defective- 
ness of parts, and addressed themselves earnestly and deliberately 
to the details of the great work of Army Beform. Instead of 
boasting that the condition of the Native soldier left nothing to 
be desired, Lord Dalhousie, it is said, ought to have looked 
beneath the surface, to have probed all the vices of the existing 
system, and to have striven with all his might to eradicate them. 
Information was not wanting. " Officers of experience " were at 
all times ready to tell him what it behoved him to do. But in 

VOL. I. R 


the multitude of counsellors there was inextricable confusion. 
As with the whole, so with the parts. The forty years' 
experience of one greybeard belied the forty years' experience 
of another. And when the responsible ruler had been almost 
persuaded to see a blot and to promise to erase it, another 
adviser came, straightway declared it to be a beauty, and 
besought him to leave it as it was. Thus distracted by the con- 
flicting judgments of the best military critics, Dalhousie did, as 
others had done before him ; he admitted that if he had then for 
the first time to construct a Native Army it would in some 
respects differ from that which he saw before him, the growth 
not of systems and theories but of circumstances ; but that as it 
had grown up, so on the whole it was better to leave it, as 
chauge is sometimes dangerous, and almost always misunder- 

That, indeed, there was no more difficult question to under- 
stand than that of the Sipahi Army, was a fact which must have 
been continually forced upon the mind of the Governor-General, 
by the discordant opinions which were pronounced on points 
vitally affecting its fidelity and efficiency. Even on the great 
question of Caste, men differed. Some said it was 
desirable that Native regiments should be composed 
mainly of high-caste men ; because in such men were combined 
many of the best qualities, moral and physical, which contribute 
to the formation of an accomplished soldier. The high-caste 
man had a bolder spirit, a purer professional pride, a finer frame, 
and a more military bearing, than his countrymen of lower social 
rank. Other authorities contended that the Native soldiery 
should be enlisted indiscriminately, that no account should be 
taken of Caste distinctions, and that the smaller the proportion 
of Brahmans and Eajputs in the service the better for the disci- 
pline of the Army. Comparisons were drawn between the 
Bengal and the Bombay Armies. There was a strong and not 
unnatural prejudice in favour of the Bengal Sipahi ; for he was 
a fine, noble-looking fellow, and in comparison with his 
comrades from the Southern and Western Presidencies, was said 
to be quite a gentleman ; but there were those who alleged that 
he was more a gentleman than a soldier ; and it was urged that 
the normal state of the Bengal Army was Mutiny, because in an 
Army so constituted caste was ever stronger than discipline ; 
and the social institutions of the Sipahi domineered over the 
necessities of the State. 


It was contended, for this reason, that the Bengal Army 
required a larger infusion of low-caste men. But it was alleged, 
on the other hand, that this very mixture of castes tended to 
destroy the discipline of which it was proposed to mate it the 
preservative ; for that military rank was held to be nothing in 
comparison with Brahmanical Elevation, and that the Sipahi 
was often the " master of the officer." * To this it was replied 
that the presumption of Caste was favoured and fostered by the 
weakness and indulgence of the officers of the Bengal Army ; 
that, in the armies of Madras and Bombay, Caste had found its 
level ; that it had neither been antagonistic to good service, nor 
injurious to internal discipline ; that high-caste men in those 
armies did cheerfully what they refused to do in Bengal, and 
that low-caste native officers met with all the respect from 
their social superiors due to their superior military rank. It 
was asserted, indeed, that Brahmanism was arrogant and exact- 
ing in Bengal, because it saw that it could play upon the 
fears of the English officers. To this it was replied, that disre- 
gard caste as we might, we could never induce the natives to 
disregard it. And then again the rejoinder was, that in the 
other Presidencies we had taught them to disregard it, why, 
then, might not the same lesson be taught in Bengal ? The 
answer to this was, that men will often do in other countries 
what they cannot be persuaded to do in their own ; that high- 
caste Hindustanis enlisting into the Bombay or Madras Armies 
were, to a great extent, cut off from the brotherhood, that they 
were greatly outnumbered in their several regiments, that it 
was convenient to conform to the custom of the country, and 
that what he did in a foreign country amongst strangers was 
little known at home. In a word, when he took service in the 
Bombay Army, he did what was done in Bombay; just as 
among ourselves, men who, fearful of losing caste, would on no 
account be seen to enter a London hell, think nothing of spend- 
ing whole days in the gambling-rooms of Homburg or Baden- 

Of a kindred nature was the question hotly discussed, whether 
it were wiser to compose each regiment of men of the same race, 

* " I cannot conceive the possibility of maintaining discipline in a corps 
where a low-caste non-commissioned officer will, when he meets off duty a 
Brahman Sipahi, crouch down to him with his forehead on the ground. I 
have seen this done. The Sipahi thus treated is the master of the officer." — 
Evidence of Major-Oeneral Birch. 

R 2 


or to mix up different races in the same corps. On the one hand, 
it was alleged that the fusion of different nation- 

Nationalities. -i... ijxt j. i • ^ 1 *■ 

alines nad a tendency to keep internal combina- 
tions in check ; but that if men of one tribe were formed into 
separate regiments ; if we had Patan regiments and Gurkha 
regiments, Sikh regiments and Maratha regiments, facilities 
for mutinous combinations would be greatly increased. On 
the other hand, it was contended that the fusion of different 
tribes and castes in the several regiments encouraged external 
combinations by imparting common interests to the whole 
Army ; that if safety were to be sought in the antagonism of 
nationalities, it was more likely to be attained by keeping them 
apart than by fusing them into a heterogeneous mass ; that it 
was easier to keep one regiment from following the example 
of another composed of different materials, raised and stationed 
in a different part of the country, than to keep one half of a 
regiment from following the example of the other; easier to 
make men fight against those whom they had never seen, than 
against those with whom they had long lived, if not in brother- 
hood of caste, at least in brotherhood of service. 

Again, men discussed, with reference to this question of 
combination, the relative advantages and dis- 

Generai advantages of localisation and distribution. 

service. Whilst some contended that the different Sipahi 
regiments should serve respectively only in certain parts 
of the country, except under any peculiar exigencies of war 
— in other words, that they should be assimilated as much 
as possible to a sort of local militia — others were in favour 
of the existing system, under which there were periodical 
reliefs, and regiments marched from one station to another, 
often many hundreds of miles apart. On the one hand, it was 
argued that there was much danger in the local influence 
which would be acquired by men long resident in the same 
place, and that intrigues and plots, rendered perilous by the 
fusion of the civil and military classes, might result from this 
localisation ; and, on the other, it was urged that it was far 
more dangerous to suffer the Sipahi regiments to become 
extensively acquainted with each other, for the men to form 
friendships, and therefore to have correspondents in other corps, 
and thus to afford them the means, in times of excitement, of 
forming extensive combinations, and spreading, as it were, a 
network of conspiracy over the whole face of the country. Thus, 


again, men of wisdom and experience neutralised one another's 
judgments, and from amongst so many conflicting opinions it 
was impossible to evolve the truth. 

It was a question also much debated whether the fidelity and 
efficiency of the Sipahi were best maintained by 
keeping him apart from his family, or by suffering 
the wives, the children, and the dependents of the soldier to attach 
themselves to his regiment, and to follow his fortunes. The 
former was the system in the Bengal Army ; the latter, in the 
Army of Madras, and partially in that of Bombay. Each 
system had its advocates ; each its special advantages. The 
Bengal Sipahi visited his family at stated times, and remitted to 
them a large part of his pay. If he failed to do this he was a 
marked man in his regiment ; and it was said that the know- 
ledge that if he failed in his duty as a soldier, a report of his 
misconduct would surely reach his native village, and that his 
face would be blackened before his kindred, kept him in the 
strict path of his duty. The presence of the Family led to 
much inconvenience and embarrassment, and the necessity of 
moving it from one station to another, when the regiments were 
relieved, strained the scanty resources of the Sipahi, and 
developed grievances out of which mutiny might arise.* It was 
said, indeed, that there was " hardly a Native regiment in the 
Bengal Army in which the twenty drummers, who were 
Christians, and had their families with them, did not cause 
more trouble to their officers than the whole eight hundred 
Sipahis." t On the other hand, it was urged that the presence 
of the Family afforded the best guarantee for the fidelity and 
good conduct of the Sipahi. His children were hostages in our 
hands ; tbe honour of his women was in our keeping. These 
were held to be safeguards against mutiny and massacre. It 
was urged, too, that the system tended more to keep them, as a 
race, apart from the general mass of their countrymen ; that the 
ties which bound them to the country were thus weakened, and 
their interests more indissolubly associated with the State. 
They were less representative men than their brethren of the 
Bengal Army, and more a part of the machinery of Government. 
And so each system had its advocates, and each was left to work 
itself out and develop its own results. 

* See the case of the 6th Madras Cavalry, ante, p. 213. 
t Sleeman on the Spirit of Discipline in the Native Army. 


Great, also, was the difference of opinion with respect to 
Promotion. Some said that the Bengal Army was 

omo on. destroyed by the Seniority system, which gave to 
every Sipahi in the service an equal chance of rising to the rank 
of a Commissioned Officer.* Others maintained that this was 
the very sheet-anchor which enabled it to resist all adverse 
influences. Strong arguments were adduced, and great names 
were quoted upon both sides. It was said that under such a 
system there was no incentive to exertion ; that the men were 
independent of their officers, that they had no motive to earn the 
good opinion of their superiors, that it was enough for them to 
drowse through a certain number of years of service, to slide 
quietly into a commission, and then to end their military lives 
in a state of senile somnolence and apathy. The Native officers 
of the Bengal Army were, therefore, for the most part, respect- 
able, worn-out, feeble-minded old men, with no influence in their 
regiments, and no desire beyond that of saving themselves as 
much trouble as possible, and keeping things as quiet as they 
could. On the other hand, it was alleged that the seniority 
system was the very prop and support of the Sipahi service ; 
that all men were happy and contented, and had some aliment 
of hope, so long as they felt that nothing but their own mis- 
conduct could deprive them of the right of succession to the 
highest grades of the Native Army. It was said that to pass 
over a man at the head of the list, and to give promotion to 
others of shorter service, would be to flood the regiments with 
desperate malcontents, or else with sullen, broken-spirited idlers. 
Whilst Henry Lawrence and John Jacob were descanting on the 
evil of filling the commissioned ranks of the Sipahi Army with 
" poor old wretches, feeble in body and imbecile in mind,"| 
Charles Napier was peremptorily commanding that " the fullest 
attention and consideration should invariably be given to the 
claim of seniority in every grade " of the Native Army, and 
William Sleeman was asserting, not less emphatically, in his 
published writings, that " though we might have in every 
regiment a few smarter Native officers, by disregarding the rule 
of promotion than by adhering to it, we should, in the diminu- 

* To every regiment of Native infantry were attached one Subahdar-major, 
ten Subahdars, and ten Jamadars. 

t Views and Opinions of General John Jacob, p. 120 ; compare also Sir 
Henry Lawrence's Essays, Military and Political, p. 24 et seq. 


tion of good feeling towards the European officers and the 
Government, lose a thousand times more than we gained."* 
What wonder, then, that Governor-General after Governor- 
General was perplexed and bewildered, and left things, when he 
passed away from the scene, as he found them on his first 

Then, again, there were wide diversities of opinion with 
respect to the European officering of regiments. 
There were those who contended for the Irregular European officers. 
and those who were loud in their praises of the 
Eegular system ; some who thought it better to attach 
to each regiment a few select officers, as in the old times, 
giving them some power and authority over their men ; and 
others who believed it to be wiser to officer the regiments 
after the later English system, like regiments of the Line, 
with a large available surplus for purposes of the General 
Staff, and to leave all the centralised power and authority in 
the hand of the Adjutant-General of the Army, j There was a 
continual cry, not always, it must be admitted, of the most un- 
selfish character, for " more officers " ; and yet it was plain that 
the Irregular regiments, to which only three or four picked 
officers were attached, were in a perfect state of discipline in 
peace, and capable of performing admirable service in war. It 
was said that in action the Sipahis, losing their officers, killed 
or carried wounded to the rear, lost heart, and were soon panic- 

* Sleeman relates, that " an old Subahdar, who had been at the taking of 
the Isle of France, mentioned that when he was the senior Jamadar of his 
regiment, and a vacancy had occurred to bring him in as Subahdar, he was 
sent for by his commanding officer, and told that by orders from Head- 
Quarters he was to be passed over, on account of his advanced age and sup- 
posed infirmity. ' I felt,' said the old man, ' as if I had been struck by light- 
ning, and fell down dead. The Colonel was a good man, and had seen much 
service. He had me taken into the open air, and when I recovered he told 
me that he would write to the Commander-in-Chief and represent my case. 
He did so immediately, and I was promoted, and I have since done my duty 
as Subahdar for ten years.' " But, it may be asked, hoiv ? It must be borne 
in mind, too, that Sleeman speaks here of the effect of supercession under a 
Seniority system. Under a system of selection such results would not be 
apparent, because there would not be the same disgrace in being passed 

f A regiment of Native Infantry in March, 1856, was officered by 1 colonel, 
1 lieutenant- colonel, 1 major, 6 captains, 10 lieutenants, and 5 ensigns. A 
few months afterwards another captain and another lieutenant were added to 
each regiment. 


struck ; and that if officers were so few, this contingency must 
often happen. To this, however, it was replied, that if 
the Native officers were of the right class, they would keep 
their men together, and still do good service ; but if they were 
worn-out imbeciles, or over-corpulent and scant of breath, of 
course disorder and ruin must follow the fall of the English 
officers. Then, hearing this, the disputant on the other side 
would triumphantly ask how many years' purchase our empire 
in India were worth, if our Native officers were as efficient as 
ourselves. It was often argued, indeed, that our instructions 
might some day return to plague the inventor ; that to make men 
qualified to lead our battalions to battle against our enemies is 
to qualify them to command troops to fight against ourselves. 
Btit there were others, and chief among them Henry Lawrence, 
who, taking a larger and more liberal view of the question, 
contended that it was sound policy to give every man, European 
and Native, a motive for exertion ; who declared that it was one 
of the crying wants of our system that it afforded no outlet for 
the energies of Native soldiers of superior courage and ability, 
and urged that we could not expect to have an efficient Native 
Army so long as we rigidly maintained in it the theory of the 
Dead Level, and purposely excluded every possible inducement 
to superior exertion. 

Nor less curious were the fundamental diversities of opinion 
which manifested themselves, when thinking men began to 
consider whether the English in India carried into their daily 
lives too much or two little of their nationality. It was asserted 
on the one side, that the English officer was too stiff-necked and 
exclusive, that he dwelt apart too much, and subdued himself 
too little to surrounding influence ; and on the other side, that 
he fell too rapidly into Oriental habits, and soon ceased to be, 
what it should have been his ambition to remain to the last, a 
model of an English Gentleman. It was urged by some that 
increased facilities of intercourse with Europe rendered men 
more dissatisfied with the ordinary environments of Eastern 
life and professional duty, whilst others declared that one of 
the most serious defects in the Indian Military System was the 
difficulty with which the English officer obtained furlough to 
Europe.* The stringency of the Furlough Regulations had, how- 
ever, been greatly relaxed during the administration of Lord 

* Views and Opinions of Brigadier-General John Jacob. 


Dalhousie, and the establishment of regular steam-communi- 
cation between the two countries had made the new rules 
practical realities. But whatsoever increased intercourse with 
Europe may have done to promote the application of Western 
science to our Indian Military System, it did not improve the 
regimental officer. It was contended that he commonly re- 
turned to his duty with increased distaste for cantonment life ; 
and that he obeyed the mandate, " Let it be the fashion to be 
English," by suffering a still greater estrangement to grow up 
between him and the Native soldier. 

Indeed, there was scarcely a single point, in the whole wide 
range of topics connected with the great subject of the efficiency 
of the Native Indian Army, which did not raise a doubt and 
suggest a controversy. And there was so much of demonstrable 
truth in the assertions, and so much cogency in the arguments 
adduced, on both sides, that in the eyes of the looker-on it was 
commonly a drawn battle between the two contending parties ; 
and so, as it was the easier and perhaps the safer course to leave 
things as they were, tbe changes which Army Keformers so 
earnestly advocated were practically rejected, and we clung to 
evils which had grown up in the system rather than we would 
incur the risk of instituting others of our own. 

But perplexing as were these practical details, there was 
nothing so difficult of solution as the great doubt 
which arose as to the amount of confidence in the intermixture of 

-i . 1 . t . ,, European 1 roops. 

Sipahi Army which it was expedient outwardly 
to manifest. It was said, upon the one hand, that any 
diminution of our confidence would be fatal to our rule, and, 
on the other, that our confidence was leading us onward to 
destruction. Some said that the Native Army should be 
narrowly watched, and held in control by sufficient bodies of 
European soldiery ; other contended that we could commit no 
more fatal mistake than that of betraying the least suspicion of 
the Sipahi, and suggesting even a remote possibility of one part 
of our Army ever being thrown into antagonism to the other. 
This controversy was half a century old. When, after the 
massacre of Velliir, the Madras Government urged upon the 
Supreme Authority in Bengal the expediency of sending some 
reinforcements of European troops to the Coast, the latter 
refused to respond to the call, on the ground that such a move- 
ment would betray a general want of confidence in the Native 
Army, and might drive regiments still loyal into rebellion 


under an impulse of fear. There was force in this argument, 
which will be readily appreciated by all who understand 
the character of the Sipahi Army ; and its cogency was not 
diminished by the fact put forth by the Madras Government 
that the European troops under their command were fewer by 
two thousand men than they had been before the recent large 
extension of territory. But a great lesson was to be learnt 
from the embarrassment which then arose ; a lesson which ought 
to have been taken to the hearts of our rulers from one genera- 
tion to another. It was then clearly revealed, not merely that 
" prevention is better than cure," but that prevention may be 
possible when cure is not ; that we may hold danger in check 
by quietly anticipating it, but that, when it has arisen, the 
measures, to which we might have resorted before the fact, 
cannot be pursued, after it, without increasing the evil. If 
anything should teach us the wisdom of never suffering our 
European force, even in the most tranquil times, to decline 
below what we may call " the athletic standard," it is the fact 
that, when the times cease to be tranquil, we cannot suddenly 
raise it to that standard without exciting alarm and creating 

But this lesson was not learnt. Or, if Indian statesmen ever 
took it to their hearts, it was remorselessly repudiated in the 
Councils of the English nation. Other considerations than 
those of the actual requirements of our Indian empire were 
suffered to determine the amount of European strength to be 
maintained on the Company's establishment. Stated in round 
numbers, it may be said that the normal state of things, for 
some years, had been that of an Army of 300,000 men, of which 
40,000 were European troops. Of these, roughly calculated, 
about one-third were the local European troops of the Country, 
raised exclusively for Indian service ; the rest were the men 
of Boyal regiments, Horse and Foot, periodically relieved 
according to the will of the Imperial Government, but paid out 
of the Kevenues of India. In the five years preceding the de- 
parture of Lord Dalhousie from India, the strength of the 
Company's European troops had been somewhat increased, but 
the force which England lent to India was considerably reduced. 
In 1852, there were twenty -nine Koyal regiments in the three 
Presidencies of India, mustering 28,000 men ; in 1856, there 
were twenty-four Koyal regiments, mustering 23,000 men. 
During those five years there had been a vast extension of 

The Crimean 


empire; but the aggregate European strength was lower in 
1856 than in 1852 by nearly three thousand men. Between 
those two dates England had been engaged in a great war, and 
she wanted her troops for European service. 

We deceive ourselves, when we think that European politics 
make no impression on the Indian Public. The 
impression may be very vague and indistinct ; but 
ignorance is a magnifier of high power, and there 
are never wanting a few designing men, with clearer knowledge 
of the real state of things, to work upon the haziness of popular 
conceptions, and to turn a little grain of truth to account in 
generating a harvest of lies. That a number of very pre- 
posterous stories were industriously circulated, and greedily 
swallowed, during the Crimean War, and that these stories all 
pointed to the downfall of the British power, is not to be doubted. 
It was freely declared that Russia had conquered and annexed 
England, and that Queen Victoria had fled and taken refuge 
with the Governor-General of India. The fact that the war 
was with Russia gave increased significance to these rumours ; 
for there had long been a chronic belief that the Russlog 
would some day or other contend with us for the mastery of 
India ; that, coming down in immense hordes from the North, and 
carrying with them the intervening Muhammadan States, they 
would sweep us, broken and humbled, into the sea. And it 
required no great acuteness to perceive that if a popular in- 
surrection in India were ever to be successful, it was when the 
military resources of the empire were absorbed by a great 
European war. It is at such times as these, therefore, when 
there is always some disturbance of the public mind, that 
especial care should be taken to keep the European strength in 
India up to the right athletic standard. But, in these very 
times, the dependency is called upon to aid the empire, and 
her European regiments are reluctantly given up at the critical 
moment when she most desires to retain them. " The idea 
broached in Parliament," said a Native gentleman, " of drawing 
troops from India for the Crimean War, took intelligent natives 
of India by surprise." They saw plainly the folly of thus 
revealing our weakness to the subject races ; for we could not 
more loudly proclaim the inadequacy of our resources than by 
denuding ourselves in one quarter of the world in order that 
we might clothe ourselves more sufficiently in another. 

Nor was it this alone that, during the last years of Lord 


Dalhousie's administration, " took intelligent natives of India 
by surprise." They saw us increasing our territory, in all 
directions, without increasing our European force. There were 
those who argued that territorial increase did not necessarily 
demand increased means of defence, as it might be a change, 
not an extension, of frontier ; indeed, that the consolidation of 
our empire, by diminishing the numbers of our enemies, ought 
rather to be regarded as a reason for the diminution of our 
military strength. And this, in respect to our external enemies, 
it has already been observed, was not untrue.* But our 
dangers were from within, not from without ; and it was for- 
gotten that false friends might be more dangerous than open 
enemies. The English in India were, indeed, continually in a 
state of siege, and the conquest of their external enemies 
increased the perils of their position, for it deprived them of 
those safety-valves which had often before arrested a ruinous 
explosion. We were far too sanguine in our estimates of the 
results of conquest or annexation. We saw everything as we 
wished to see it. We saw contentment in submission, loyalty 
in quiescence ; and took our estimate of national sentiment 
from the feelings of a few interested individuals who were 
making money by the change. But " intelligent natives " 
seeing clearly our delusion, knowing that we believed a lie, 
wondered greatly at our want of wisdom in suffering vast tracts 
of territory, perhaps only recently brought under British rule, 
to lie naked and defenceless, without even a detachment of 
English fighting-men to guard the lives of the new masters of 
the country. And little as we gave them credit for sagacity in 
such matters, they touched the very kernel of our danger with 
a needle's point, and predicted that our confidence would 
destroy us. 

It was fortunate that, when we conquered the Panjab, it was 
impossible to forget that Afghanistan, still festering with 
animosities and resentments born of the recent invasion, lay 
contiguous to the frontier of our new province. It was 
fortunate, too, that Henry Lawrence, being a man of a quick 
imagination, could feel as a Sikh chief or a Sikh soldier would 
feel under the new yoke of the Faringhi, and could therefore 
believe that we were not welcomed as deliverers from one end 
of the country to the other. But it was not fortunate that the 

* Ante, p. 202. 


obvious necessity of garrisoning this frontier Province with a 
strong European force should have been practically regarded as 
a reason for denuding all the rest of India of English troops. 
Acting in accordance with the old traditions, that the only 
danger with which our position in India is threatened, is 
danger coming from the North- West, we massed a large body 
of Europeans in the Panjab, and scattered, at wide intervals, 
the few remaining regiments at our disposal over other parts of 
our extended dominions. Thus we visibly became more and 
more dependent on our Native Army ; and it needed only the 
declaration of weakness made, when England called on India 
for regiments to take part in the Crimean War, to assiire " intel- 
ligent natives " that the boasted resources of England were 
wholly insufficient to meet the demands made upon them from 
different quarters, and that we could only confront danger 
in one part of the world by exposing ourselves to it in 

And this impression was strengthened by the fact that when 
Oudh was annexed to our British territories, 
although the province was thereby filled with Annexation of 
the disbanded soldiery of the destroyed Native 0udh ' 
Government, and with a dangerous race of discontented nobles, 
whom the revolution had stripped of their privileges and 
despoiled of their wealth, the English appeared not to possess 
the means of garrisoning with European troops the country 
which they had thus -seized. As Oudh was not a frontier 
province, there was no necessity to mass troops there, as in 
the Panjab, for purposes of external defence ; and the English, 
emboldened by success, were stronger than ever in their 
national egotism, and believed that, as they could not be 
regarded in Oudh in any other light than that of deliverers, 
there was small need to make provision against the possibility 
of internal disturbance. They left the province, therefore, 
after annexation had been proclaimed, with only a small 
handful of European fighting-men ; and " intelligent natives " 
were again surprised to see that the English gentlemen were 
carrying out their new scheme of administration, to the ruin of 
almost every pre-existing interest in the country, with as much 

* It has been alleged, too, that the subscriptions raised towards tbe support 
of the Patriotic Fund during the Crimean War, impressed intelligent natives 
•with the belief that we were as short of money as we were of men. 


confidence as if every district of Oudh were bristling with 
British bayonets. They saw, too, that the English had absorbed 
one of the last remaining Muhammadan States of India ; and 
they felt that not only would this prodigious appropriation 
be regarded from one end of India to the other as the pre- 
cursor of new seizures, and that it would thus greatly 
disturb the public mind, but that the very class of men on 
whom we appeared to rely for the continued security of our 
position were, of all others, most likely to resent this act of 

For the annexation of Oudh had some results injurious to the 
Sipahi. A very large portion of the Bengal Army was drawn 
from that province. In every village were the families of men 
who wore the uniform and bore the arms of the English. Being 
for the most part high-caste Hindus, they might not have 
regarded the peaceful revolution by which a Muhammadan 
monarchy was destroyed with any strong feelings of national 
resentment; and it is certain that this extension of territory 
was not provocative of the feelings of aversion and alarm with 
which they regarded those other seizures which had sent them 
to rot in the charnel-house of Sindh, or to perish in exile on the 
frontiers of Afghanistan. Their griefs were of another kind. 
The old state of things had suited them better. They had 
little sympathy, perhaps, with Wajid Ali, and service in Oudh 
brought them nearer to their homes. But so long as it was a 
foreign province, they derived certain special privileges and 
advantages from their position as the servants of the Company, 
and increased importance in the eyes of the people of the 
province. They had, indeed, been a favoured race, and as such 
the Sipahi families had held up their heads above those of their 
countrymen who had no such bonds of privilege and protection 
to unite them to the Paramount State. " The Sipahi," wrote 
the man who had studied the character and probed the feelings 
of the Native more deeply and philosophically perhaps than 
any of his contemporaries — " the Sipahi is not the man of 
consequence he was. He dislikes annexations ; among other 
reasons, because each new province added to the Empire widens 
his sphere of service, and at the same time decreases our foreign 

enemies and thereby the Sipahi's importance The 

other day, an Oudh Sipahi of the Bombay Cavalry at Niinach, 
being asked if he liked annexation, replied, ' No ; I used to be a 
great man when I went home. The best in my village rose as 


I approached. Now the lowest puff their pipes in my face.' " * 
Under the all-prevailing lawlessness and misrule, which had so 
long overridden the province, the English Sipahi, whatever 
might be the wrongs of others, was always sure of a full 
measure of justice on appeal to the British Eesident. If he 
himself were not, some member of his family was, a small 
yeoman, with certain rights in the land — rights which 
commonly among his countrymen were as much a source of 
trouble as a source of pride — and in all the disputes and con- 
tentions in which these interests involved him, he had the 
protection and assistance of the Eesident, and right or wrong 
carried his point. In the abstract it was, doubtless, an evil 
state of things, for the Sipahi' s privileges were often used as 
instruments of oppression, and were sometimes counterfeited 
with the help of an old regimental jacket and pair of boots, by 
men who had. never gone right-face to the word of command. 
But for this very reason they were dearly valued ; and when 
the Sipahis were thus brought down by annexation to the dead 
level of British subjects, when the Besidency ceased to be, and 
all men were equally under the protection of the Commissioner, 
the Sipahi families, like all the other privileged classes in 
Oudh, learnt what the revolution had cost them, and, wide 
apart as their several grievances lay from each other, they 
joined hands with other sufferers over a common grief. 

Looking, then, at the condition of the Native Army of India, 
and especially at the state of the Bengal regi- 
ments, as it was in the spring: of 1856, we see that Summary of 

. c -i • i i'i* • deteriorating 

a series ot adverse circumstances, culminating in influences. 
the annexation of Oudh, some influencing him 
from without and some from within, had weakened the attach- 
ment of the Sipahi to his colours. We see that, whilst the 
bonds of internal discipline were being relaxed, external events, 
directly or indirectly affecting his position, were exciting within 

* Sir Henry Lawrence to Lord Canning, MS. Correspondence. I may 
give here in a note the words omitted in the text, as bearing, though not im- 
mediately, upon the Oudh question, and upon the general subject of annexa- 
tion : " Ten years ago, a Sipahi in the Panjab asked an officer what we would 
do without them. Another said, ' Now you have got the Panjab, you will 
reduce the Army.' A third remarked, when he heard that Sindh was to be 
joined to the Bengal Presidency, ' Perhaps there will be an order to join 
London to Bengal.' " 


him animosities and discontents. We see that as he grew less 
faithful and obedient, he grew also more presuming ; that 
whilst he was less under the control of his officers and the 
dominion of the State, he was more sensible of the extent to 
which we were dependent upon his fidelity, and therefore more 
capricious and exacting. He had been neglected ou the one 
hand, and pampered on the other. As a soldier, he had in many 
ways deteriorated, but he was not to be regarded only as a 
soldier. He was a representative man, the embodiment of 
feelings and opinions shared by large classes of his countrymen, 
and circumstances might render him one day their exponent. 
He had many opportunities of becoming acquainted with 
passing events and public opinion. He mixed in cantonments, 
or on the line of march, with men of different classes and 
different countries ; he corresponded with friends at a distance ; 
he heard all the gossip of the Bazaars, and he read, or heard 
others read, the strange mixture of truth and falsehood con- 
tained in the Native newspapers. He knew what were the 
measures of the British Government, sometimes even what were 
its intentions, and he interpreted their meanings, as men are 
wont to do, who, credulous and suspicious, see insidious designs 
and covert dangers in the most beneficent acts. He had not 
the faculty to conceive that the English were continually 
originating great changes for the good of the people ; our 
theories of government were beyond his understanding, and as 
he had ceased to take counsel with his English officer, he was 
given over to strange delusions, and believed the most dangerous 

But in taking account of the effect produced upon the 
Sipahi's mind by the political and social measures of the British 
Government, we must not think only of the direct action of 
these measures — of the soldier's own reading of distant events, 
which might have had no bearing upon his daily happiness, and 
which, therefore, in his selfishness he might have been content- 
to disregard. For he often read these things with other men's 
eyes, and discerned them with other men's understandings. If 
the political and social revolutions, of which I have written, did 
not affect him, they affected others, wiser in their generation, 
more astute, more designing, who put upon everything we did 
the gloss best calculated to debauch the Sipahi's mind, and to 
prepare him, at a given signal, for an outburst of sudden 
madness. Childish, as he was, in his faith, there was nothing 


easier than to make him believe all kinds and conditions of 
fictions, not only wild and grotesque in themselves, but in 
violent contradiction of each other. He was as ready to believe 
that the extension of our territory would throw him out of 
employment, as that it would inflict upon him double work. 
He did not choose between these two extremes ; he accepted 
both, and took the one or the other, as the humour pleased him. 
There were never wanting men to feed his imagination with the 
kind of aliment which pleased it best, and reason never came to 
his aid to purge him of the results of this gross feeding. 

Many were the strange glosses which were given to the acts 
of the British Government ; various were the ingenious fictions 
woven with the purpose of unsettling the mind and uprooting 
the fidelity of the Sipahi. But diverse as they were in many 
respects, there was a certain unity about them, for they all 
tended to persuade him that our measures were directed to one 
common end, the destruction of Caste, and the general in- 
troduction of Christianity into the land. If we annexed a 
province, it was to facilitate our proselytising operations, and 
to increase the number of onr converts. Our resumption 
operations were instituted for the purpose of destroying all the 
religious endowments of the country. Our legislative enact- 
ments were all tending to the same result, the subversion of 
Hinduism and Muhammadanism. Our educational measures 
were so many direct assaults upon the religions of the country. 
Our penal system, according to their showing, disguised a 
monstrous attempt to annihilate caste, by compelling men of 
all denominations to feed together in the gaols. In the Lines 
of eveiy regiment there were men eager to tell lies of this kind 
to the Sipahi, mingled with assurances that the time was 
coming when the Faringhis would be destroyed to a man ; 
when a new empire would be established, and a new military 
system inaugurated, under which the high rank and the 
higher pay monopolised by the English would be transferred 
to the people of the country. We know so little of what is 
stirring in the depths of Indian society; we dwell so much 
apart from the people ; we see so little of them, except in full 
dress and on their best behaviour, that perilous intrigues and 
desperate plots might be woven, under the very shadow of our 
bungalows, without our perceiving any symptoms of danger. 
But still less can we discern that quiet under-current of 
hostility which is continually flowing on without any im- 

VOL. I. S 


mediate or definite object, and which, if we could discern it, 
would baffle all our efforts to trace it to its soiirce. But it does 
not the less exist because we are ignorant of the form which it 
assumes, or the fount from which it springs. The men, whose 
business it was to corrupt the minds of our Sipahis, were, per- 
haps, the agents of some of the old princely houses, which we 
had destroyed ,* or members of old baronial families which we 

had brought to poverty and disgrace. They were, perhaps, the 
emissaries of Brahmanical Societies, whose precepts we were 
turning into folly, and whose power we were setting at naught. 
They were, perhaps, mere visionaries and enthusiasts, moved 
only by their own disordered imaginations to proclaim the 
coming of some new prophet or some fresh avatar of the Deity, 
and the consequent downfall of Christian supremacy in the 
East. But whatsoever the nature of their mission, and what- 
soever the guise they assumed, whether they appeared in the 
Lines as passing travellers, as journeying hawkers, as religious 
mendicants, or as wandering puppet-showmen, the seed of 
sedition which they scattered struck root in a soil well pre- 
pared to receive it, and waited only for the ripening sun of 
circumstance to develop a harvest of revolt. 

* It was asserted at the time of the " Mutiny of Vellilr," that not only were 
agents of the House of Tipu busy in all the lines of Southern India, but that 
there was scarcely a regiment into which they had not enlisted. 




When, on the last day of February, 1856, "the Most Noble" 
the Marquis of Dalhousie placed the Portfolio of the Indian 
Empire in the hands of his successor, all men said that a great 
statesman and a great ruler was about to depart from the land. 
The praises that were bestowed upon him had been well earned. 
He had given his life to the public service ; and many feared, 
as they sorrowfully bade him farewell, that he had given it up 
for the public good. 

He stood before men at that time as the very embodiment of 
Success. Whatsoever he had attempted to do he had done with 
his whole heart, and he had perfected it without a failure or a 
flaw. The policy which during those eventful eight years had 
been so consistently, maintained was emphatically his policy. 
The success, therefore, was fairly his. No man had ever 
stamped his individuality more clearly upon the public measures 
of his times. There are periods when the Government fades 
into an impersonality ; when men cease to associate its measures 
with the idea of one dominant will. But during the reign 
then ended we heard little of " the Government " ; in every 
one's mouth was the name of the individual Man. 

And in this remarkable individual manhood there was the very 
essence and concentration of the great national 
manhood ; there was an intense Englishism in him Character f Lord 
such as has seldom been equalled. It was the 
Englishism, too, of the nineteenth century, and of that par- 
ticular epoch of the nineteenth century when well-nigh every 
one had the word " progress " on his lips, and stagnation was 


both disaster and disgrace. A man of strong convictions and 
extraordinary activity of mind, he laid fast hold of the one 
abstract truth that English government, English laws, English 
learning, English customs, and English manners, are better 
than the government, the laws, the learning, the customs, and 
the manners of India ; and with all the earnestness of his nature 
and all the strength of his understanding he wrought out this 
great theory in practice. He never doubted that it was good 
alike for England and for India that the map of the country 
which he had been sent to govern should present one surface of 
Red. He was so sure of this, he believed it so honestly, so con- 
scientiously, that, courageous and self-reliant as he was, he 
would have carried out this policy to the end, if all the chief 
officers and agents of his government had been arrayed against 
him. But he commenced his career at a time when the ablest 
of our public functionaries in India, with a few notable excep- 
tions, had forsaken the traditions of the old school — the school 
of Malcolm, of Elphinstone, and of Metcalfe — and stood eager 
and open-armed to embrace and press closely to them the very 
doctrines of which they perceived in Dalhousie so vigorous an 
exponent. He did not found the school; neither were his 
opinions moulded in accordance with its tenets. He appeared 
among them and placed himself at their head, just at the very 
time when such a coming was needed to give consistency to 
their faith, and uniformity to their works. The coincidence had 
all the force of a dispensation. No prophet ever had more 
devoted followers. No king was ever more loyally served. For 
the strong faith of his disciples made them strive mightily to 
accomplish his will ; and he had in a rare degree the faculty of 
developing in his agents the very powers which were most 
essential to the fitting accomplishment of his work. He did not 
create those powers, for he found in his chief agents the instincts 
and energies most essential to his purpose ; but he fostered, he 
strengthened and directed them, so that what might have run 
to weed and waste without his cherishing care, yielded under 
his culture, in ripe profusion, a harvest of desired results. 

As his workmen were admirably suited to his work, so also 
was the field, to which he was called, the one best adapted to 
the exercise of his peculiar powers. In no other part of our 
empire could his rare administrative capacity have found such 
scope for development. For he was of an imperious and des- 
potic nature, not submitting to control, and resenting opposition ; 


and in no situation could he hare exercised a larger measure of 
power in the face of so few constitutional checks. His capacities 
required free exercise, and it may be doubted whether they 
would have been fully developed by anything short of this 
absolute supremacy. But sustained and invigorated by a sense 
of enormous power, he worked with all the energies of a giant. 
And he was successful beyond all examj^le, so far as success is 
the full accomplishment of one's own desires and intentions. 
But one fatal defect in his character tainted the stream of his 
policy at the source, and converted into brilliant errors some of 
the most renowned of his achievements. No man who is not 
endowed with a comprehensive imagination can govern India 
with success. Dalhousie had no imagination. Lacking the 
imaginative faculty, men, after long years of experience, may 
come to understand the national character ; and a man of lively 
imagination, without such experience, may readily apprehend it 
after the intercourse of a few weeks. But in neither way did 
Dalhousie ever come to understand the genius of the people 
among whom his lot was cast. He had but one idea of them — 
an idea of a people habituated to the despotism of a dominant 
race. He could not understand the tenacity of affection with 
which they clung to their old traditions. He could not sym- 
pathise with the veneration which they felt for their ancient 
dynasties. He could not appreciate their fidelity to the time- 
honoured institutions and the immemorial usages of the land. He 
had not the faculty to conceive that men might like their own 
old ways of government, with all their imperfections and cor- 
ruptions about them, better than our more refined systems. 
Arguing all points with the preciseness of a Scotch logician, he 
made no allowance for inveterate habits and ingrained prejudices, 
and the scales of ignorance before men's eyes which will not 
suffer them rightly to discern between the good and the bad. 
He could not form a true dramatic conception of the feelings 
with which the representative of a long line of kings may be 
supposed to regard the sudden extinction of his royal house by 
the decree of a stranger and an infidel, or the bitterness of spirit 
in which a greybeard chief, whose family from generation to 
generation had enjoyed ancestral powers and privileges, might 
contemplate his lot when suddenly reduced to poverty and 
humiliation by an incursion of aliens of another colour and 
another creed. He could not see with other men's eyes; or 
think with other men's brains ; or feel with other men's hearts. 


With the characteristic unimaginativeness of his race he could 
not for a moment divest himself of his individuality, or conceive 
the growth of ancestral pride and national honour in other 
breasts than than those of the Campbells and the Barosays. 

And this egotism was cherished and sustained by the pre- 
vailing sentiments of the new school of Indian politicians, who, 
as I have said, laughed to scorn the doctrines of the men who 
had built up the great structure of our Indian Empire, and by 
the utterances of a Press, which, with rare ability, expounded 
the views of this school, and insisted upon the duty of universal 
usurpation. Such, indeed, was the prevailing tone of the 
majority, in all ranks from the highest to the lowest, that any 
one who meekly ventured to ask, " How would you like it 
yourself?" was reproached in language little short of that 
which might be fitly applied to a renegade or a traitor. To 
suggest that in an Asiatic race there might be a spirit of in- 
dependence and a love of country, the manifestations of which 
were honourable in themselves, however inconvenient to us, 
was commonly to evoke as the very mildest result the imputa- 
tion of being " Anti-British," whilst sometimes the " true 
British feeling " asserted itself in a less refined choice of epithets, 
and those who ventured to sympathise in any way with the 
people of the East were at once denounced as " white niggers." 
Yet among these very men, so intolerant of anything approach- 
ing the assertion of a spirit of liberty by an Asiatic people, 
there were some who could well appreciate and sympathise 
with the aspirations of European bondsmen, and could regard 
with admiration the struggles of the Italian, the Switzer, or the 
Pole to liberate himself, by a sanguinary contest, from the yoke 
of the usurper. But the sight of the dark skin sealed up their 
sympathies. They contended not merely that the love of country, 
that the spirit of liberty, as cherished by European races, is in 
India wholly unknown, but that Asiatic nations, and especially 
the nations of India, have no right to judge what is best for 
themselves ; no right to revolt against the beneficence of a more 
civilised race of white men, who would think and act for them, 
and deprive them, for their own good, of all their most cherished 
rights and their most valued possessions. 

So it happened that Lord Dalhousie's was a strong Govern- 
ment ; strong in everything but its conformity to the genius of 
the people. It was a Government admirably conducted in 
accordance with the most approved principles of European 


civilisation, by men whose progressive tendencies carried them 
hundreds of years in advance of the sluggish Asiatics, whom 
they vainly endeavoured to bind to the chariot-wheels of their 
refined systems. There was everything to give it complete 
success but the stubbornness of the national mind. It failed, 
perhaps, only because the people preferred darkness to light, 
folly to wisdom. Of course the English gentlemen were right 
and the Asiatics lamentably wrong. But the grand scriptural 
warning about putting new wine into old bottles was disre- 
garded. The wine was good wine, strong wine; wine to 
gladden the heart of man. But poured into those old bottles 
it was sure, sooner or later, to create a general explosion. They 
forgot that there were two things necessary to successful gov- 
ernment ; one, that the measures should be good in themselves ; 
and the other, that they should be suited to the condition of the 
recipients. Intent upon the one, they forgot the other, and 
erred upon the side of a progress too rapid and an Englishism 
too refined. 

But at the bottom of this great error were benign intentions. 
Dalhousie and his lieutenants had a strong and steadfast faith in 
the wisdom and benevolence of their measures, and strove alike 
for the glory of the English nation and the welfare of the 
Indian people. There was something grand and even good in 
the very errors of such a man. For there was no taint of base- 
ness in them ; no sign of anything sordid or self-seeking. He 
had given himself up to the public service, resolute to do a 
great work, and he rejoiced with a noble pride in the thought 
that he left behind a mightier empire than he had found, that 
he had brought new countries and strange nations under the 
sway of the British sceptre, and sown the seeds of a great 
civilisation. To do this, he had made unstinting sacrifice of 
leisure, ease, comfort, health, and the dear love of wedded life,, 
and he carried home with him, in a shattered frame and a torn 
heart, in the wreck of a manhood at its very prime, mortal 
wounds nobly received in a great and heroic encounter. 

Great always is the interest which attaches to the question of 
succession ; greatest of all when such a ruler as Dalhousie 
retires from the scene. Who was to take the place of this great 
and successful statesman ? Who was to carry out to its final 
issue the grand policy which he had so brilliantly inaugurated ? 
This was the question in all men's mouths as the old year 
passed away and the new year dawned upon India ; in some 


sort a remarkable year, for was it not the centenary of the great 
disaster of the Black Hole which had brought Olive's avenging 
army to Bengal ? Ever at such times is there much talk of the 
expected advent of some member of the English Cabinet, some 
successful Colonial Governor, or some great Lord little ex- 
perienced in statesmanship, of high lineage and dilapidated 
fortune. And so now there was the wonted high tide of 
speculation and conjecture, wild guesses and moonshine rumours 
of all kinds, from dim possibilities to gigantic nonsenses, until 
at last there came authentic tidings to India that the choice had 
fallen on Her Majesty's Postmaster-General, one of the younger 
members of Lord Palmerston's Cabinet. 

Scarcely within bounds of possibility was it, that, in the 
midst of so great an epidemic of faith in Lord 

LorTcannto? Lalhousie, England could send forth a statesmen 
to succeed him, whom her Anglo-Indian sons would 
not receive with ominous head-shakings, denoting grave doubts 
and anxious misgivings. Another great man, it was said, was 
needed to understand, to appreciate, to maintain, the policy of 
the hero whom they so glorified. But they knew little or 
nothing of Viscount Canning, except that he was the bearer of a 
great name. Thirty-four years before, all England 
had been talking about the acceptance of the 
Governor-Generalship by this man's father. There were a 
few, then, who, looking at the matter solely from an Indian 
point of view, exulted in the thought that one who had done 
such good service at the Board of Control, and whose abilities 
were known to be of the very highest order, was about to 
devote some of the best years of his life to the government of 
our great Eastern empire. There was another and a baser few, 
who, festering with jealousies, and animosities, and dishonourable 
fears, joyed most of all that they should see his face no more for 
years, or perhaps for ever. But the bulk of the English people 
deplored his approaching departure from among them, because 
they felt that the country had need of his services, and could 
ill bear the loss of such a man. And it was a relief to them 
when the sad close of Lord Castlereagh's career brought George 
Canning back from the visit, which was to have been his fare- 
well, to Liverpool, to take his place again in the great Council 
of the nation. 

Great, also, was the relief to George Canning himself — great 


for many reasons ; the greatest, perhaps, of all, that he was 
very happy in his family. In the first year of the century he 
had married a lady, endowed with a considerable share of the 
world's wealth, but with more of that better wealth which the 
world cannot give ; the daughter and co-heiress of an old 
general officer named Scott. No man could have been happier 
in his domestic life ; and domestic happiness is domestic virtue. 
Blind to the attractions of that Society in which he was so pre- 
eminently formed to shine, he found measureless delight in the 
companionship of his wife and children. And as an Indian life 
is more or less a life of separation, it was now a joy to him to 
think that the brief vision of Government House, Calcutta, had 
been replaced by the returning realities of the English fireside.* 
At this time the great statesmen had a son in his tenth year, 
at school with Mr. Carmalt, of Putney, on the 
banks of the Thames. He was the third son Gloucester Lodge, 
born to George Canning ; f born during what was 
perhaps the happiest period of his father's life, his residence at 
Gloucester Lodge. This was the boy's birthplace. Lying 
between Brompton and Kensington, it was at that time 
almost in the country. There was not, perhaps, a pleasanter 
place near Town. It had a strange, memorable history, 
too, and it was among the notabilities of suburban London. 
In the days of Eanelagh, it had been, under the name 
of the Florida Gardens, a lesser rival to that fashionable 
haunt ; and from this state, after an interval of desertion and 
decay, it had developed into a royal residence.:}: The Duchess 
of Gloucester bought the Gardens, built there a handsome 
Italian villa, lived and died there, and, passing away, bequeathed 
her interest in the estate to the Princess Sophia, who sold it 
to Mr. Canning. And there, in this pleasant umbrageous retreat, 

* " The unsullied purity of Mr. Canning's domestic life," says his last and 
pleasantest biographer, " and his love of domestic pleasures (for after his 
marriage he seldom extended his intercourse with general society beyond 
those occasions -which his station rendered unavoidable), were rewarded by as 
much virtue and devotion as ever graced the home of an English statesman." 
— BelVs Life of Canning. 

f At this time Charles was the second surviving son. The eldest, George 
Charles, born in April, 1801, died in March, 1820. The second brother was 
in the navy. 

% See Bell's Life of Canning, chapter x., which contains an animated 
sketch of the early history of Gloucester Lodge, and of the social and 
domestic environments of the great statesman's residence there. 


on the 14th December, 1812, was born the third son of George 
Canning, who, in due course, was christened Charles John. 
In 1822, as I have said, when George Canning woke from 
his brief dream of Indian vice-regal power to 
Th scho U ai ney take tne seals of the Foreign Office, this boy 
Charles was under the scholastic care of Mr. 
Carmalt, of Putney. In those days his establishment enjoyed 
a great reputation. It was one of the largest and best private 
schools in the neighbourhood of London, perhaps in the whole 
kingdom, and, as the sons of our highest noblemen mingled 
there with those of our middle-class gentry, not a bad half-way 
house to the microcosm of Eton or Harrow. The impression 
which Charles Canning made upon the minds of his school- 
fellows was, on the whole, a favourable one. He was not a boy 
of brilliant parts, or of any large popularity ; but he was re- 
membered long afterwards as one who, in a quiet, unostentatious 
way, made it manifest to ordinary observers that there was, in 
schoolboy language, " something in him." One, whose letter is 
now before me, and who was with him for nearly two years in 
the same room at the Putney school, remembered, after a 
lapse of more than a third part of a century, the admiration 
with which he then regarded young Canning's "youthful 
indications of talent, and amiable and attractive manners." b> 
Two years after George Canning's surrender of the Governor- 
Generalship, his son Charles left Mr. Carmalt's 
and went to Eton. Eton was very proud of the 
father's great reputation, and eager to embrace the son ; for, 
verily, George Canning had been an Etonian of Etonians, and 
had done as much, as a scholar and wit, to make Eton 
flourish as any man of his age. It was, perhaps, therefore, 
in a spirit of pure gratitude and veneration, and with no 
'hope of future favours," that worthy Provost Goodall, than 
whom perhaps no man ever had a keener appreciation both 
of scholarship and of wit, on intimation made to him that 
George Canning wished his son to be entered as an oppidan, 
sent Mr. Chapman, one of the masters of the school,* who 
had been selected as the boy's tutor, to examine him at 
Gloucester Lodge. These examinations, which determine the 
place in the school which the boy is to take, are commonly held 
in the tutor's house at Eton, not beneath the parental roof. But 

> ■ ■ ' '" '" ' ' ' ... 

* Afterwards Bishop of Colombo ; now retired. 


the Minister's son was examined in his father's library and in 
his father's presence at Gloucester Lodge ; a double trial, it 
may be thought, of the young student's nerve, and not pro- 
vocative of a successful display of scholarship. But it was 
successful.* Charles Canning was declared to be fit for the 
fourth form, and on the 4th of September, 1824, he commenced 
his career. It is on record that he was " sent up for good " for 
his proficiency in Latin verse. It is on record, also, if the re- 
cording minister at Eton does not kindly blot out such traces 
of boyish error, tbat he was also sent up for bad ; in more 
correct Etonian phraseology, "in the bill," marked for the 
flogging block. And it is traditional that the avenging hand 
of Head-master Keate was sometimes stayed by a tender re- 
luctance to apply the birch to the person of Secretary Canning's 
son. On the whole, perhaps, it is historically true that, at Eton,. 
he bad no very marked reputation of any kind. He was good- 
looking, and a gentleman, which goes for something ; but I do- 
not know that he was a great rower, a great cricketer, or a great 
swimmer, or was in any sense an athlete of the first water and 
the admiration of his companions; and, scholastically, it is 
remembered of him that he had " a reputation rather for in- 
telligence, accuracy, and painstaking, than for refined scholar- 
ship, or any remarkable powers of composition." 

But on passing away from Eton, the stature of his mind was 
soon greatly enlarged. At the close of 1827, having risen to the 
Upper division of the fifth form, he received the parting gifts 
of his schoolfellows; and soon afterwards became the private 
pupil of the Eev. John Shore, a nephew of Sir John Shore, 
Governor-General of India, and known to a later generation as 
Lord Teignmouth. This worthy Christian gentleman and ripe 
scholar lived, but without church preferment, at Potton, a 
quiet little market-town in Bedfordshire, receiving pupils there 
of the better sort. Among the inmates of his house was the 
grandson of the first Lord Harris, with whom Charles Canning 

* I am indebted for this incident to Sir Robert Phillimore, Queen's 
Advocate. The memorandum from which it is taken adds : " The well- 
known description of the storm in the first JSneid, ' Interea magno miscerl 
murmure pontum,' &c, was the passage chosen for the trial of his proficiency,, 
and the Bishop now remembers the anxiety with which the father watched 
the essay of his son, and the smile of approval which greeted his reading of 
the rather difficult transition, ' Quos ego — sed raotos,' &c, and the %al ' Not 
so bad,' which followed at the close of the whole translation." 


entered into bonds of friendship, riveted at Oxford, strength- 
ened in public life at home, and again by strange coincidence 
in India, and broken only by death. Here, doubtless, he 

made great progress in scholarship. Perhaps 
August sth, the death of his father, and the after-honours 

which were conferred on the family, and, more 
than all, the subsequent calamitous end of his elder brother,* 
awakened within him a sense of the responsibilities of 
his position, and roused him to new exertions. Though born 
the third in succession of George Canning's sons, he was now 
the eldest, the only one. He and his sister alone survived. 
He was now the heir to a peerage, sufficiently, though not 
splendidly, endowed, and there was a public career before him. 
He applied himself to his books.! 

His next step was to the University. In December, 1828, he 

was entered on the Roll as a Student of Christ 
oxford. Church, Oxford, as his father had been entered just 
forty years before. Among the foremost of his fellow-students 
were Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Bruce, and Mr. Robert Phillimore,^ 
all of whom lived to take parts, more or less prominent, in 
public affairs. Among other members of the same distinguished 
house, at that time, was the young Lord Lincoln, heir to the 
Dukedom of Newcastle, and the representative of the great 
Scotch House of Ramsay, ennobled by the Earldom of Dalhousie. 
But the most intimate of all his associates was the present 
Lord De Tabley, with whom he lived in the closest bonds of 
friendship to the latest day of his life. By him, and a few 
other chosen companions, he was dearly loved and much 
respected ; but neither achieving nor seeking extensive popu- 
larity among his cotemporaries, he was regarded by the outer 
University world as a man of a reserved and distant manner, 
and of a somewhat cold and unimpulsive temperament. The 
few in the inner circle knew that he was not cold ; knew that 
he had a true loving heart, very loyal and constant in its 
affections ; knew that in the society of his familiar friends he 
had a pleasant, a genial, and sometimes a playful manner, that 

* William Pitt Canning, then a Captain in the Royal Navy, was drowned 
while bathing at Madeira, in September, 1828. 

+ It need scarcely be indicated that the widow of George Canning, on his 
death was created a Viscountess, with remainder to his eldest son. 

t The present (1861) Chancellor of the Exchequer; the late Lord Elgin, 
Governor-General of India ; and the present Queen's Advocate. 


he had a fine scholarly taste, a fund of quiet humour, a keen, 
appreciation of character, and that he was, all in all, a delightful 
companion. They had great hope, too, of his future career, 
though he did not seem to be ambitious ; nay, rather, it appeared 
to those who closely observed him, that he was haunted and 
held back by the thought of his father's renown, and a diffidence 
of his own capacity to maintain the glories of the name. But, 
although he did not care to take part in the proceedings of 
debating societies, and, apparently, took small interest in the 
politics of the great world, he was anxious that at least his 
University career should do no dishonour to his lineage, and 
that if he could not be a great statesman, he might not stain 
the scholarly reputation enjoyed by two generations of Cannings 
before him. He strove, therefore, and with good results, to 
perfect himself in the classic languages ; and even more as- 
siduous were his endeavours to obtain a mastery over his own 
language. At an early age he acquired a thoroughly good 
English style ; not resonant or pretentious ; not splintery or 
smart; but pure, fluent, transparent, with the meaning ever 
visible beneath it, as pebbles beneath the clearest stream. 

His efforts bore good fruit. In 1831 he wrote a Latin Prize 
Poem, on the " Captivity of Caractacus " ; and recited it in the 
great hall of Christ Church, standing beneath his father's 
picture.* And in the Easter term of 1833 he took his degree, 
with high honours : a first class in Classics, and a second in 
Mathematics. He was then in his twenty-first year, and 
Parliament would soon be open to him. But he was in no 

* I am indebted for this to Sir Robert Pliillimore. I give the incident in 
his own words : " In the year 1831, he won the Christ Church prize for Latin 
verse. The subject was ' Caractacus Captivus Romarn ingreditur.' The 
verses were, as usual, recited in the hall. It was a remarkable scene. In 
that magnificent banquetin^-room are hung the portraits of students who 
have reflected honour upon the House which reared them by the distinctions 
which they have won in after life. Underneath the portrait of George 
Canning, the recollection of whose brilliant career and untimely end was still 
fre&h in the memory of men, stood the son, in the prime of youth, recalling 
by his eminently handsome countenance the noble features of the portrait, 
while repeating the classical prize poem, which would have gladdened his 
father's heart. Generally speaking, the resident members of Christ Church 
alone compose the audience when the prize poem is recited. But on this 
occasion there was a stranger present — the old faithful friend of Mr. Canning, 
his staunch political adherent through life — Mr. Sturges Bourne. He had 
travelled from Loudon for the purpose of witnessing the first considerable 
achievement of the younger Canning." — MS. Memorandum. 

270 OUTBREAK OF THE MUTINY. [1836-56. 

hurry to enter upon the realities of public life. He was 
diffident of his oratorical powers ; he was constitutionally sby ; 
and it did not appear to him that the House of Commons was a 
theatre in which he was ever likely to make a successful 
appearance. Moreover, he had other work in hand at that 
time ; other yearnings to keep down any young ambitions that 
might be mounting within him. Love and courtship filled up 
a sweet interlude in his life, as they do in the lives of most 
men whose story is worth telling ; and, in due course, they 
bore the rich fruit of happy wedlock. On the 5th of September, 
1835, the Honourable Charles John Canning espoused the 
Honourable Charlotte Stuart, eldest daughter of Lord Stuart 
He Eothesay, a lady of a serene and gentle beauty, and many 
rare gifts of mind. 

But, after a year of wedded life, he was prevailed upon to 
enter Parliament, and in August, 1836, he was returned foi 
Warwick. In that month, however, Parliament was prorogued, 
and on its reassembling at the commencement of the following 
year, he was content to be a silent member. His opportunities, 
indeed, were very few, for his whole career in the House of 
Commons extended over a period of little more than six weeks. 
During the month of February and the early part of March he 
attended in his place with praiseworthy regularity.* But, on the 
15th of the latter month, his mother, Viscountess Canning, died ; 
and, on the 24th of April, he took his seat in the House of Lords. 

For nearly twenty years he sate in that House, taking no 
very prominent part in the debates, but doing his duty in a 
quiet, unostentatious way, and gradually making for himself a 
reputation as a conscientious, painstaking young statesman, 
who might some day do good service to his country and honour 
to his great name. His political opinions, which were shared 
by most of his distinguished cotemporaries at Christ Church, 
were characterised by that chastened Liberalism which had 
found its chief exponent in Sir Eobert Peel ; and when, in 
1841, that great Parliamentary leader was invited to form a 
Ministry, Lord Canning, Lord Lincoln, and Mr. Gladstone were 
offered, and accepted, official seats. The seals of the Foreign 
Office had been placed in the hands of Lord Aberdeen. He had 

* His name is to be found in all the principal division lists. He voted 
sometimes against Lord Melbourne's Government, but more frequently 
with it. 


a high opinion of, and a personal regard for, Lord Canning, 
and there was no one whom the veteran statesman wished so 
much to associate with himself in office as George Canning's 
son. About the same time another distinguished member of 
the House of Lords was also moved by a strong desire to have 
the benefit of the young statesman's official co-operation and 
personal companionship. This was Lord Ellenborough, who. 
on the formation of the Peel Ministry, had been appointed 
President of the Board of Control, but who had subsequently 
been selected to succeed Lord Auckland as Governor-General of 
India. He offered to take Canning with him in the capacity of 
Private Secretary. 

Creditable as this offer was to the discernment of Lord 
Ellenborongh, and made in perfect sincerity, it was one little 
Likely to be accepted by a man of high social position, good 
political prospects, and a sufficient supply of the world's wealth. 
Lord Canning elected to remain in England, and entered official 
life as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He liked 
his work ; he did it well, and he had the entire confidence of 
his chief. But he did not take an active part in the debates 
and discussions of the House of Lords. The presence, in the 
same Chamber, of the Chief of his Department, relieved him 
from the responsibility of ministerial explanations and replies, 
and his constitutional reserve forbade all unnecessary displays. 
It was not, indeed, until the Session of 1846 found him in the 
office of Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, that he 
took any prominent part in the business of the House. If the 
position which he then held afforded no opportunity for the 
development of his powers either as an orator or a debater, it 
kept him continually in Parliamentary harness, and the train- 
ing was of service to him. It lasted, however, but a little time. 
At the end of June, 1846, Sir Eobert Peel and his colleagues 
resigned, and a Whig Cabinet was formed under the leadership 
of Lord John Russell. 

Lord Canning was then " in opposition," but in heart he was 
a Liberal, and willing to support liberal measures, without 
reference to the distinctions of party. When, therefore, in 
May, 1848, Lord Lansdowne moved the second reading of the 
Jewish Disabilities Bill, Lord Canning was the first to speak in 
support of it. He answered Lord Ellenborough, who had 
moved the amendment, and he voted against all his old col- 
leagues then in the Upper House, with the exception of Lord 


Hardinge. But in 1850 he supported, in a speech displaying an 
entire mastery of the subject, the resolution of Lord Derby con- 
demnatory of the Foreign Policy of Lord Palmerston ; and he 
spoke against the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, introduced by Lord 
John Bussell. So little, indeed, was he considered to be pledged 
to any party, that when the Bussell Cabinet resigned in the 
spring of 1851, and Lord Derby was invited to form an ad- 
ministration, the great Conservative leader saw no reason why 
he should not invite Canning to become a member of it. The 
offer then made was a tempting one, for it was the offer of a 
seat in the Cabinet second in importance only to that of the 
First Minister. To the son of George Canning it was especially 
tempting, for it was the offer of the seals of the Foreign Office. 
In that office the father had built up his reputation, and the son 
had already laid the foundation of an honourable career of 
statesmanship. It was the department which, above all others, 
Lord Canning best knew and most desired. He had served a 
long apprenticeship in it, and if his humility suggested any 
doubts of his capacity to direct its affairs, they must have been 
removed by the manner in which he was invited to take their 

The offer now made to him was made through his old official 
chief, Lord Aberdeen, who pressed him to accept it. But there 
were many grave considerations which caused him to hesitate. 
He had sat for some years on the same ministerial bench with 
Lord Derby, but the latter had separated himself from his 
party, and the cause of the disruption was the liberal commercial 
policy of Sir Bobert Peel, in favour of which Canning had 
freely declared his opinions. He had condemned the foreign 
policy of the Whig party ; but, on the other hand, there were 
matters of home government in which his liberality was far 
in advance of the opinions of Lord Derby and his colleagues ; 
and, on the whole, he felt that he could not honestly and con- 
sistently support the Administration which he was invited to 
enter. He judged rightly, and in such a case he judged wisely. 
Lord Derby failed to construct a Ministry, and the Whigs 
resumed office for another year. This was the turning-point of 
Lord Canning's career, and it is impossible to say how different 
might have been the story which I am now about to write, if 
these overtures had been accepted. 

In the following year, Lord Derby again endeavoured, and 
with better success, to form a Ministry, but its career was of 


brief duration. In November, its place was filled by an Ad- 
ministration under the premiership of Lord Aberdeen, composed 
of the leading members of the Governments both of Sir Eobert 
Peel and Lord John Russell. In this Coalition Ministry Lord 
Canning held the office of Postmaster-General. Though held 
by many a distinguished man, the post was not one to satisfy 
the desires of an ambitious one. But he was not disappointed 
or discouraged. He knew the difficulties which lay in the path 
of his leader,* and he addressed himself cheerfully and assidu- 
ously to his work, with a steadfast resolution to elevate the 
importance of the appointment he held, by doing in it the largest 
possible amount of public good. In this office he had first an 
opportunity of displaying that high conscientious courage which 
bears up and steers right on, in spite of the penalties and morti- 
fications of temporary unpopularity. What was wrong he 
endeavoured to set right ; and knowing how much depended on 
the personal exertions of individual men, he strove, even at the 
expense of certain very clamorous vested interests, to obtain the 
utmost possible amount of competency for the performance of 
all the higher departmental duties. During his administration 
of the Post-office many important reforms were instituted, and 
much progress made in good work already commenced. So 
effectually, indeed, had he mastered all the complicated details 
of the department, that when the Coalition Ministry was dis- 
solved and a new Government formed under Lord Palmerston, 
the public interests required that there should be no change at 
the Post-office ; so Lord Canning was reappointed to his old 
office, but with further acknowledgment of his good services in 
the shape of a seat in the Cabinet. But it was not ordered that 
he should hold the office much longer. There was more stirring 
work in store for him. His old friend and contemporary, 
Lord Dalhousie, was coming home from India, and it was 
necessary that a new Governor-General should be appointed in 
his place. Practically the selection, in such cases, was made 
by the Imperial Government, but constitutionally the appoint- 
ment emanated from the East India Company. The President 
of the Board of Control and the Chairman of the Court of 
Directors commonly took counsel together, when the Cabinet 

* In a " coalition ministry " there is necessarily an exceptional nunibt-j: of 
claimants for the higher offices with seats in the Cabinet. In the arrange- 
ments then made the seals of the Foreign Office fell, in the first instance, to 
Lord John Russell. 

"PL. I. T 

274 OUTBREAK OF THE MUTEST. [1836-56. 

had chosen their man ; and then the nomination was formally 
submitted to the Court. There is always, in such cases, much 
internal doubt and conflict among those with whom the selec- 
tion rests, and much speculation and discussion in the outer 
world. It was believed in this instance, that some member of 
the Ministry would be appointed ; but people said in England, 
as they said in India, that it would be no easy thing to find a 
fit successor for Lord Dalhousie ; and when at last it transpired 
that the choice had fallen on Lord Canning, men shook their 
heads and asked each other whether there was anything great 
about him but his name. In Parliament the propriety of the 
appointment was questioned by some noisy speakers, and there 
was a general feeling in society that the appointment was rather 
a mistake. But those who knew Lord Canning — those especially 
who had worked with him — knew that it was no mistake. They 
knew that there was the stuff in him of which great adminis- 
trators are made. 

On the first day of August a Court of Directors was held at 

the India House, and Lord Canning was introduced 
theuov^rnor- to take the accustomed oath. On the evening 
Gen i85- ship ' °f *hat *^ a y ^he Company gave, in honour of their 

new servant, one of those magnificent entertain- 
ments at which it was their wont to bid God-speed to those 
who were going forth to do their work. Those banquets were 
great facts and great opportunities. It was discovered soon 
afterwards that the expenditure upon them was a profligate 
waste of the public money. But the Government of a great 
empire, spending nothing upon the splendid foppery of a Court, 
was justified in thinking that, without offence, it might thus do 
honour to its more distinguished servants, and that, not the 
turtle and the venison, but the hospitality and the courtesy of 
the Directors, thus publicly bestowed upon the men who had 
done their work well in civil or military life, would find ample 
recompense in increased loyalty and devotion, and more 
energetic service. Many a gallant soldier and many a wise 
administrator carried back with him to India the big card of the 
East India Company inviting him to dinner at the London 
Tavern, and religiously preserved it as one of the most cherished 
records of an honourable career. There were niany> too, who 
hoarded among their dearest recollections the memory of the 
evening when they saw, perhaps for the first and the last time, 
England's greatest statesmen and warriors, and heard them 


gravely discoui'se on the marvel and the miracle of our Indian 
Empire. Nor was it a small thing that a man selected to 
govern a magnificent dependency beyond the seas, should thus, 
in the presence of his old and his new masters, and many of 
his coadjutors in the great work before him, publicly accept his 
commission, and declare to the people in the West and in the 
East the principles which were to regulate his conduct and to 
shape his career. The words uttered on these occasions rose far 
above the ordinary convivial level of after-dinner speeches. 
There was a gravity and a solemnity in them, appreciated not 
merely by those who heard them spoken, but by thousands also, 
to whom the Press conveyed them, in the country which they 
most concerned ; and on the minds of the more intelligent 
Natives the fact of this great ceremonial of departure made a 
deep impression, and elevated in their imaginations the dignity 
of the coming ruler. 

Seldom or never had this ceremonial assumed a more impos- 
ing character than that which celebrated the appointment of 
Lord Canning to the Governor-Generalship of India. In the 
great Banqueting Hall of the London Tavern were assembled 
on that 1st of August many members of the Cabinet, including 
among them some of Canning's dearest friends ; others besides 
of his old companions and fellow-students ; and all the most 
distinguished of the servants of the Company at that time in 
the country. Mr. Elliot Macnaghten, Chairman of the East 
India Company, presided, and after dinner proposed the accus- 
tomed toasts. It was natural and right that, when doing 
honour to the newly-appointed Governor-General, the speaker 
should pay a fitting tribute to the distinguished statesman who 
was then bringing his work to a close ; it was natural and 
graceful that tribute should be paid also to the worth of the 
elder Canning, who had done India good service at home, and 
had been selected to hold the great office abroad which his son 
was proceeding to fill ; but there was something to a compara- 
tively untried man perilous in such associations, and the younger 
Canning, with instinctive modesty, shrunk from the invidious 
suggestion. Perhaps there were some present who drew com- 
parisons, unfavourable to the son, between the early careers of 
the two Cannings, which had entitled them to this great dis- 
tinction ; but when the younger stood up to speak, every one 
was struck — the many judging by busts and pictures, and the 
few recalling the living likeness of George Canning — by hi? 

T 2 


great resemblance to his father. The singularly handsome face, 
the intellectual countenance, and, above all, the noble " Canning 
brow," like a block of white marble, bespoke no common 
capacity for empire, and gave emphatic force to the words he 
uttered. He said, after the usual expression of thanks for the 
kind words spoken, and the kind reception accorded to them, 
that the kindness which he had received had not created any 
delusion in his mind, for whether he contemplated the magni- 
tude of the task that awaited him, or the great achievements of 
the distinguished men who had preceded him, he was painfully 
sensible that the labourer was unequal to the great work that 
had been entrusted to his hands. He was not ashamed to con- 
fess that there were times when he was tempted to shrink from 
the responsibility that awaited him. But this feeling, he added, 
was not inconsistent with his determination to devote all the 
energies of his mind, every hour, nay, every minute of his time, 
every thought and every inspiration, to the discharge of the 
duties which he had that day accepted from the hands of the 
Company. There were, however, other considerations, which 
had greatly reassured and encouraged him ; " You have," he 
said, turning to the Chairman, " assured me, this day, of what 
you rightly describe as the generous confidence and co-opera- 
tion of the Court of Directors. I thank you for that assurance, 
and I rely on it implicitly, for I know the body of which you 
are the head are, wherever they bestow their confidence, no 
niggards in supporting those who honestly and faithfully serve 
them." And then, not perhaps without a knowledge of what, 
more than a quarter of a century before, his father had said on 
a similar occasion,* he added, " I feel that I can also rely on the 
cordial support and sympathy of my noble friend at the head 
of the Government, and of all those colleagues with whom I 
have had the proud satisfaction of serving as a Minister of the 
Crown, but, above all, I delight in the co-operation — for on that 
I must daily and hourly rely— of those two admirable bodies, 
the Civil Service and the Army of India. I hardly know 

* The occasion alluded to -was the farewell banquet given by the East 
India Company to Sir John Malcolm, on his appointment to the government 
of Bombay. Then it was that George Canning said : " There cannot be 
found in the history of Europe the existence of any monarchy which, within 
a given time, has produced so many men of the first talents, in civil and 
military life, as India has first trained for herself, and then given to thei? 
native country." 


whether there is any feature of our Government, any portion of 
our institutions, upon which Englishmen may look with more 
honest exultation than those two noble branches of our Public 
Service. The men of those branches have done much for the 
advancement of India, and have sent forth from their ranks 
men who were efficient in war and peace, in numbers of which 
any monarchy in Europe might be proud, and who have 
rescued their countrymen from charges formerly, and not 
unjustly, levelled against them of dealing sometimes too harshly 
with those whom they were bound to succour and protect. 
Sir, it is the possession of such men which enables you to 
exhibit a spectacle unequalled in the world's history — that of 
a hundred and fifty millions of people submitting in peace and 
contentment, in a country teeming with wealth, to the govern- 
ment of strangers and aliens." 

Then, after a few more words on the high character of the 
Services, and a brief declaration of the fact that he assumed 
office " without a single promise or pledge to any expectant," 
he proceeded with increased gravity and solemnity of utterance, 
almost, indeed, as one under the spell of prophecy : " I know 
not what course events may take. I hope and pray that we 
may not reach the extremity of war. I wish for a peaceful time 
of office, but 1 cannot forget that in our Indian Empire that 
greatest of all blessings depends upon a greater variety of 
chances and a more precarious tenure than in any other quarter 
of the globe. We must not forget that in the sky of India, 
serene as it is, a small cloud may arise, at first no bigger than a 
man's hand, but which, growing larger and larger, may at last 
threaten to burst, and overwhelm us with ruin. What has hap- 
pened once may happen again. The disturbing causes have 
diminished certainly, but they are not dispelled. We have still 
discontented and heterogeneous peoples united under our sway ; 
we have still neighbours before whom we cannot altogether lay 
aside our watchfulness ; and we have a frontier configuration 
that renders it possible that in any quarter, at any moment, 
causes of collision may arise. Besides, so intricate are our rela- 
tions with some subsidiary states, that I doubt whether in an 
empire so vast and so situated it is in the power of the wisest 
Government, the most peaceful and the most forbearing, to 
command peace. But if we cannot command, we can at least 
deserve it, by taking care that honour, good faith, and fair 
dealing are on our side ; and then if, in spite of us, it should 


become necessary to strike a blow, we can strike with a clear 
conscience. With blows so dealt the struggle must be short and 
the issue not doubtful. But I gladly dismiss from my mind 
apprehensions that may not be realised, and joyfully recognise 
a large arena of peaceful usefulness, in which I hope for your 
kind assistance and co-operation." 

Equally surprised were the few then present, who were 
familiar with Lord Canning's parliamentary utterances, and the 
many, who had never heard him speak, but had been told that 
he was " no orator " ; for the speech which they now heard from 
his lips was all that such a speech ought to have been. It was 
impressive rather than impassioned ; slowly spoken, with a 
deliberate gravity, every sentence making itself felt, and every 
word making itself heard in the farthest corners of that great 
Banqueting Hall. There were few present in whose estimation 
the speaker had not risen before he resumed his seat; few 
present who did not, years afterwards, remember with strong 
emotion that picture of the little cloud rising in an unexpected 
quarter, and in time obscuring the firmament and overshadowing 
the land. Some, perhaps, thought also of another speech, then 
delivered by a more practised speaker ; for the First Minister of 
the Crown, on that August evening, let fall some memorable 
words. It was only in common course that he should spfeak of 
the qualifications of his colleague for the high office to which 
he had been appointed ; only in common course that he should 
express his gratitude to the Company who so materially lightened 
the cares of the Sovereign and her ministers. But when Lord 
Palmerston dwelt on "the significant fact that, whereas of old 
all civilisation came from India, through Egypt, now we, who 
were then barbarians, were carrying back civilisation and en- 
lightenment to the parent source," and added, " perhaps it might 
be our lot to confer on the countless millions of India a higher 
and a holier gift than any real human knowledge ; but that 
must be left to the hands of time and the gradual improve- 
ment of the people," he supplemented Lord Canning's prophecy, 
though he knew it not, and pointed to the quarter from which 
the little cloud was to arise. 

But although Lord Canning had been sworn in at the India 
House, and had stood before the magnates of the land as 
Governor-General elect, he was still a member of the Cabinet 
and her Majesty's Postmaster-General. Parliament was pro- 
rogued on the 14th of August, and in accordance with that wise 


official usage, which recognises the necessity of holidays no less 
for statesmen than for schoolboys, the Queen's Ministers dis- 
persed themselves over the country, and Lord Canning went to 
Scotland. It had been settled that he should receive from the 
hands of Lord Dalhousie the reins of Indian Government on the 
1st of February, 1856, and his arrangements, involving a short 
sojourn in Egypt, and visits to Ceylon, Bombay, and Madras, 
had been made with a view to his arrival at Calcutta on that 
day. But at Dalhousie's own request, his resignation was sub- 
sequently deferred to the 1st of March. When this request was 
first made to him, Canning thought that the intention of the 
change was simply to allow the old Governor-General more time 
not only to consummate the annexation of Oudh, but to confront 
the first difficulties of the revolution ; and it appeared to him, 
thinking this, that the postponement might be interpreted alike 
to his own and to his predecessor's disadvantage. It might 
have been said that the new Governor-General shrank from 
encountering the dangers of the position, or that the measure 
was so distasteful to him, on the score of its injustice, that he 
could not bring himself to put his hand to the work. Both 
assumptions would have been utterly erroneous. The question 
of the annexation of Oudh had been a Cabinet question, and as 
a member of the Cabinet, Lord Canning had given his assent 
to the policy, which after much discussion in Leadenhall and in 
Downing-street, found final expression in the Court's despatch 
of the 19th of November. The policy itself had been already 
determined, although the precise terms of the instructions to 
be sent to the Government of India were still under con- 
sideration, when Dalhousie's proposal reached him ; and he was 
willing to accept all the responsibilities of the measure. The 
proposed delay, therefore, did not at first sight please him ; but 
when, from a later letter, he learnt that Dalhousie required a few 
more weeks of office, not for special, but for general purposes ; 
that he needed time to gather up the ends of a large number of 
administrative details, the case was altered, and he assented, 
with the concuri'ence of the Court of Directors, to the change.* 

* " As long," he wrote to the Chairman, " as it turned upon Oudh alone, 
I felt that there was some difficulty in making the change proposed by Lord 
Dalhousie, and some risk of its intention being misrepresented to the disad- 
vantage of both of us. But it is now clear that for other reasons, apart from 
Oudh, and for the general winding up of the work on his hands, it will be a 
great help to him to have a month more time. These are his very words to 


A few days afterwards, Lord Canning turned his face again 
towards the South, to superintend the final arrangements for 
his departure, and to take leave of his friends. Thus the month 
of October and the greater part of November were passed ; but 
not without some study of Indian questions, some useful training 
for the great work upon -which he was about to enter. On the 
21st of November he went by command to Windsor, accom- 
panied by Lady Canning, who was among her Majesty's cherished 
friends, and on the 23rd returned to London, after taking final 
leave of the Queen. Another day or two, and he had commenced 
his overland journey to the East. From the Erench capital he 
wrote, on the last day of November : "I intended to leave 
Paris this afternoon, but I received notice in the morning that 
the Emperor wished to see me to-morrow, so that it will be 
Tuesday morning (December 4th) before we embark at Mar- 
seilles. We still hope to reach Alexandria on the 10th." He 
arrived there, however, not before the 12th, and after a day's 
halt pushed on to Cairo, where he was received and entertained 
magnificently by orders of the Pacha, who was at that time 
absent from his capital. 

The party consisted of Lord and Lady Canning, his nephew 
Lord Hubert de Burgh,* Captain Bouverie, A.D.C., and Dr. 
Leckie. There was abundant time for an exploration of the 
wonders of Egypt, and, as the fine climate of the country 
invited a protracted sojourn there, it was arranged that some 
weeks should be spent in pleasant and profitable excursions, 
and that they should embark at Suez about the middle of the 
month of January. " The Pacha was in Upper Egypt until 
to-day," wrote Lord Canning to Mr. Macnaghten, on the 17th 
of December, " when he returned to this neighbourhood. I am 
to see him to-morrow, and on the following day we set out on 
our expedition up the Nile. Thanks to a steamer, which the 
Pacha lends us, we shall be able to accomplish all we wish, and 
to embark on the Feroze immediately upon its arrival at Suez, 

me ; and I cannot hesitate, so far as I am concerned, to do that which will be 
agreeable and convenient to bim, and probably advantageous to the publio 
interests. I hope, therefore, that you will feel no difficulty in complying 
with Lord Dalhousie's wish, by putting off my succession until the day he 
names." — Lord Canning to Mr. Macnaghten, September 20, 1855. — MS. Corre- 

* Afterwards Lord Hubert Canning. [Now Marquis of Clanrikarde. 
— G B. M.] 


which, according to a letter from Lord Dalhousie, that met me 
at Alexandria, will not be until close upon the 12th of January. 

. . The magnificence, not to say extravagance, of our recep- 
tion here far exceeds anything that I had expected. I shall 
need to be very profuse of my thanks to the Pacha to-morrow." 

It would be pleasant to follow Lord Canning and his family 
on their river-voyage, the grateful experiences of which he has 
himself recorded, but these personal incidents have no connection 
with the stern story before me, and the temptation, therefore, 
to enlarge upon them must be resisted. The programme of his 
movements given in the above letter to the Chairman of the 
Company, was realised with but little departure from the 
original design. The Governor-General elect halted at Aden, 
where, under the guidance of Brigadier Coghlan* — an officer of 
the Company's Artillery, one of those excellent public servants 
who, partly in a military, partly in a diplomatic capacity, 
represent great interests and undertake great responsibilities in 
the East — Lord Canning made his first acquaintance with the 
Sipahi Army of India. From Aden he steamed to Bombay, 
where he arrived on the 28th of January, 1856, and first planted 
his foot on Indian soil. " I found," he wrote to Mr. Macnaghten 
on the 2nd of February, " that Lord Dalhousie had given orders 
that I should be received with the full honours of Governor- 
General in possession ; and of course I did nothing to check or 
escape from the demonstrations with which we were met, 
though I did not desire or expect them. I have been unceasingly 
busy for two-thirds of every twenty-four hours since our arrival ; 
and by the 5th or 6th I hope to have seen nearly all that 
calls for ocular inspection in the city and its neighbourhood. 
We shall then embark for Madras; for I have given up all 
thoughts of stopping at Ceylon, unless to coal, and hope to 
arrive there on the 14th or 15th. I cannot sufficiently con- 
gratulate myself on having come round by this Presidency. It 
has shown me much that I should not easily have learnt other- 
wise." It was a disappointment to him that he had not time to 
visit Ceylon, for his old Eton tutor, Chapman, had developed 
into Bishop of Colombo, and there would have been a grand 
old Etonian pleasure, on both sides, in talking over old times. 
But there was consolation in the thought that his friend Lord 
Harris, his fellow-pupil in the Bedfordshire market-town, was 

* Afterwards Sir "William Coghlan, K.C.B. 


Governor of Madras. In that presidency he spent a few pleasant 
days, sojourning at Guindy, and then on the 25th of February 
set out to face the realities of Indian Government, and steamed 
up the Bay of Bengal. 

On the last day of February, Lord Canning disembarked at 
Calcutta; and, proceeding to Government House, 
Feb ™5^ 29 ' at once took his oaths of office and his seat in 
Council. It is the custom in such cases. No time 
is left for any question to arise as to who is Governor-General 
of India. So brief did the whole operation appear to him, that 
he wrote home that he had been sworn in and installed " within 
five minutes after touching land." As his dignities and respon- 
sibilities commenced at once, so did his work. At the end of 
his first week of office, he wrote that such had been the pressure 
of public business, that he had found time only for " one look 
out of doors" since he arrived. During that first week Lord 
Dalhousie tarried in Calcutta, and the past and future of the 
Government of India was discussed with interest, the depths of 
which were stirred by varying circumstances, between those 
earnest-minded men ; the one all readiness to teach, the other 
all eagerness to learn. Dull and prosaic as its details often 
appear to Englishmen at a distance, it is difficult to describe the 
living interest with which statesmen in India of all classes, 
from the highest to the lowest, perpetually regard their work. 

No man ever undertook the office of Governor-General of 
India under the impression that it would be a 

First days^of s i necU re. But it is scarcely less true that no man, 
whatever opinion he may have formed in England, 
ever entered upon its duties without discovering that he had 
greatly underrated the extent of its labours. The current of 
work is so strong and so continuous; so many waters meet 
together to swell the stream ; that at first even a strong man 
trying to breast it may feel that he is in danger of being over- 
whelmed. Time lessens the difficulty ; but at the outset, the 
multiplicity of unfamiliar details distracts and bewilders even 
the sharpest wit and the clearest brain ; and the first result is 
apt to be a chaos. Box after box is placed upon the Governor- 
G eneral's table ; and each box is crammed with papers rugged 
with the names of strange men and stranger places, and 
references to unknown events and incomprehensible states of 
society. By some means or other, he must master the antecedents 
of every case that comes before him for decision ; and there are 


often very intricate cases purposely left for his decision, that 
he may not be embarrassed by the judgments of his predecessor. 
Week after week goes by and little impression is made upon 
this pile of work. " Another fortnight is gone," wrote Lord 
Canning towards the end of March, " and I am beginning to 
gather up by slow degrees the threads of business, as it passes 
before me ; but it is severe work to have to give so much time 
to the bygones of almost every question that comes up ; and 
some weeks more must pass before I shall feel myself abreast 
of current events." There was a strong conscientiousness within 
the new Governor-General which would not suffer him to pass 
anything lightly over, and he endeavoured to understand all that 
came before him even at the risk of some inconvenient delays. 

So he did not rush at his work ; but quietly confronted it, 
and was in no haste to impress people with a sense of the pro- 
fundity of his wisdom and the greatness of his self-reliance. 
He knew that he had much to learn, and he adopted the best 
means of learning it ; for he invited all the chief agents of his 
Government, scattered over the country, especially those who 
were representing British interests at the Native Courts, to 
correspond confidentially with him on matters relating to their 
respective charges ; an invitation which gave to every man thus 
addressed full liberty to declare his sentiments and to expound 
his views. And thus he escaped the danger on the one hand of 
surrendering his own judgment, by succumbing to the influence 
of some two or three public functionaries immediately attached 
to the Executive Government, and, on the other, of the over- 
confident exercise of a dominant self-will rejecting all external 
aids, and refusing to walk by other men's experiences. He 
knew that there was no royal road to a knowledge of India , 
and he was well content that the first year of his administration 
should be unostentatiously devoted to the great duty of learning 
his work. 

There were able men, too, at his elbow to assist him to a 
correct knowledge of facts, and to the formation of TheCo „ 
sound opinions. The Supreme Council consisted at 
that time of General John Low, Mr. Dorin, Mr. John Peter Grant, 
and Mr. Barnes Peacock. Of the first I can say little in 
this place that has not been already said. The only 
charge laid against him by the assailants of the Government was 
that he was well stricken in years. But although one who had 
fought beside Malcolm at Mehidpur, and then not in his first 


youth, must have lost some of the physical energy that animated 
him in his prime, his intellect was unimpaired. Ceasing to be 
a man of action, he had subsided gracefully into the condition 
of a councillor, the Nestor of the Political Service, a veteran 
without a stain. No man had so large an acquaintance with 
the Native Courts of India ; no man knew the temper of the 
people better than John Low. He could see with their eyes, 
and speak with their tongues, and read with their under- 
standings. And, therefore, he looked with some dismay at the 
wide-spread Englishism of the Dalhousie school, and sorrow- 
fully regarded the gradual dying out of the principles in which 
he had been nurtured and trained, and to which, heedless of 
their unpopularity, he clung with honest resolution to the last. 
Dalhousie had too often disregarded his counsel ; but he had 
always respected the man. And now Canning equally admired 
the personal character of his colleague, but was not equally 
minded to laugh his principles to scorn. 

Of the two Bengal civilians who sat in that Council, it may 
be said that the one owed his position there appa- 
r ' onn ' rently to chance, the other to his unquestionable 
abilities. Mr. Dorm was not a man of great parts ; he was 
not a man of high character. If he had any official repu- 
tation, it was in the capacity of a financier ; and finance was 
at that time the weakest point of our Government. He had 
limited acquaintance with the country, and but small knowledge 
of the people. He had no earnestness ; no enthusiasm ; no 
energy. He had a genius for making himself comfortable, and 
he had no superfluous activities of head or heart to mar his 
success in that particular direction. He had supported the 
policy of Lord Dalhousie, and had recorded in his time a number 
of minutes expressing in two emphatic words, which saved 
trouble and gained favour, his concurrence with the most noble 
the Governor-General ; and now if the new ruler was not likely 
to find him a very serviceable colleague, there was no greater 
chance of his being found a troublesome one. 

In John Grant the Governor-General might have found both. 
He was many years younger than his brother 

J °hn p eter civilian, but he had done infinitely more work. In 
him, with an indolent sleepy manner was strangely 
combined extraordinary activity of mind. He was one of the 
ablest public servants in the country. With some heredi- 
tary claim to distinction, he had been marked out from the very 

1856.] JOHN PETER GEANT. 285 

commencement of his career, no less by a favourable concurrence 
of external circumstances than by his own inherent qualifica- 
tions, for the highest official success. No young civilian in his 
novitiate ever carried upon him so clearly and unmistakably the 
stamp of the embryo Councillor, as John Grant. In some 
respects this was a misfortune to him. His course was too 
easy. He had found his way ; he had not been compelled to 
make it. He had not been jostled by the crowd ; he had seen 
little or none of the rough work of Indian administration or 
Indian diplomacy. It had been his lot, as it had been his 
choice, to spend the greater part of his official life in close con- 
nection with the Head-Quarters of the Government; and, there- 
fore, his opportunities of independent action had been few ; his 
personal acquaintance with the country and the people was not 
extensive ; and his work had been chiefly upon paper. But as a 
member of a powerful bureaucracy his value was conspicuous. 
Quick in the mastery of facts, clear and precise in their ana- 
lytical arrangement, and gifted with more than common powers 
of expression, he was admirably fitted to discharge the duties 
of the Secretariat. He was a dead hand at a report; and if 
Government were perplexed by any difficult questions, involving; 
a tangled mass of disordered financial accounts, or a great con- 
flict of authority mystifying the truth, he was the man of all 
others to unravel the intricate or to elucidate the obscure. Com- 
paratively yoxmg in years, but ripe in bureaucratic experience, 
he entered the Supreme Council towards the close of Lord 
Dalhousie's administration. But he had sat long enough at the 
Board to establish his independence. He expressed his opinions 
freely and fearlessly ; and his minutes, when minute-writing 
was in vogue, were commonly the best State papers recorded 
by the Government of the day. Closely reasoned, forcibly ex- 
pressed, with here and there touches of quiet humour or subdued 
sarcasm, they cut through any sophistries put forth by his 
colleagues, with sharp incisive logic, and clearly stated the 
points at issue without disguises and evasions. On the whole, 
he was a man of large and liberal views, the natural mani- 
festations of which were, perhaps, somewhat straitened by an 
acquired official reserve; and no one questioned the honesty of 
his intentions or the integrity of his life. 

Mr. Barnes Peacock was the fourth, and, as is p ^^ 
commonly called, the "Law Member" of Council. 
An English lawyer, appointed to aid the great work of Indian 


legislation, he was a member of the Executive rather by 
sufferance than by right. In a limited sense, he was supposed 
to represent the popular element in the Council. There was no 
very violent conflict of class interests in those days. But so 
far as such division existed at all, he was regarded as the 
exponent of the views of the non-official Englishman and of the 
Europeanised Natives of the large towns, whose interests are 
bound, up with our own. For the institution of the Company 
he was believed to have no respect, and for the exclusive system 
of Government by the Company's servants no toleration. He 
had a clear head, an acute understanding, but by no means a 
large mind. Assiduous in the work of law-making, he was the 
very soul of the Legislative Council ; and had he confined his 
efforts to the work of moulding into draft-acts the ideas of other 
men, he would have been an invaluable public servant. But 
he sometimes went beyond this ; and, when he did so, he com- 
monly went wrong. For knowing little of the people of India, 
and having only thoroughly English notions of philanthropic 
reforms and legislative beneficences, he would have taught the 
people better manners with a rapidity for which they were not 
prepared, if he had unrestrainedly followed out his own ideas of 
social improvement. Indeed, he had already threatened to limit 
the polygamies of the Natives of India, and, doubtless, had a 
draft-act for the purpose on the legislative anvil, when circum- 
stances arrested his career of reform. But, although it was in 
the legislative department that his especial strength lay, he did 
not confine himself to it. He grappled manfully with all the 
varied details of the general administration. There were times 
when his legal penetration was of service in the disentangle- 
ment of knotty questions of executive government, and he 
sometimes recorded minutes distinguished by no common powers 
of special pleading. But, on the whole, this laborious addiction 
to business was an encumbrance and an embarrassment to the 
Ministry ; and Lord Canning had soon reason to complain of 
the conscientious excesses of his colleague. A general dis- 
inclination to take anything for granted impeded the progress 
of business ; and the Governor-General, not without a feeling of 
admiration for a defect that had its root in honesty of purpose, 
endeavoured, and with good success, to wean the law member 
from his habit of mastering details which he was not expected 
to understand, and keeping back business which it was desirable 
to dispose of, whilst he was working up the past history of a 

1856.] GENERAL ANSON. 287 

Native State, or calculating grain-bags in a commissariat account. 
There must have been some inward promptings of self-knowledge 
in Canning's own mind to assure him that this laborious con- 
scientiousness was a part of his own nature ; but he felt, at the 
same time, that his larger scope of responsibility demanded 
from him a larger scope of action, and that what was right in 
the Governor-General was not therefore right in his depart- 
mental colleague. 

Such were the fellow-labourers with whom Lord Canning 
was now about to prosecute the work of Government. On the 
whole, the Council was not badly constituted for ordinary 
purposes of administration in quiet times. It contained, indeed, 
many of the essential elements of a good Board. What it most 
wanted was military knowledge ; for General Low, though an 
old soldier of the Madras Army, had seen more of the Court 
than of the Camp ; and it was rather in the diplomacies of the 
Native States than in the conduct of warlike operations, or in 
the details of military administration, that he had earned, by 
hard service, the right to be accepted as an authority.* It 
was a constitutional fiction that, in an Indian Council, the 
necessary amount of military knowledge was supplied in the 
person of the Commander-in-Chief, who had a seat in it. The 
seat, though legally occupied, was for the most part practically 
empty, for duty might not, and inclination did not, keep the 
military chief at the Head-Quarters of the Civil Government. 
But it happened that, when Lord Canning arrived in India, he 
found General Anson in Calcutta. And it was a pleasure to 
him to see in the Indian capital a face that had been familiar to 
him in the English. 

The appointment of the Honourable George Anson to the 
chief command of the Indian Army took by surprise 
the English communities in the three Presidencies, G , eneral 

iii i • i • i -r-» • /-iin Anson. 

who had seen his name only m the Kacing Calendar, 
or in other records of the Turf. But there was one thing at 
least to be said in hi3 favour : he was not an old man. It was 
not in the nature of things, after a long European peace, that 
good service should be found in the officers of the Queen's 
Army unaccompanied by the weight of years. But the scandal 
of imbecility had risen to such a height, the military world had 

* Shortly after Lord Canning's arrival, General Low went to England, but 
returned at the commencement of the cold weather (1856-57). 


grown so sick of infirmity in high places — of the "blind, the 
lame, the deaf, the obesely plethoric — that they were prepared to 
welcome almost any one who could sit a horse, who could see from 
one end to the other of a regiment in line, and hear the report of 
a nine-pounder at a distance of a hundred yards. There was 
nothing to be said against George Anson on this score. He 
could hear and see ; he could ride and walk. He was of a light 
spare figure, well framed for active exercise ; and his aspect 
was that of a man who could " stand the climate." But with 
all men who first brave that climate in the maturity of life, 
there is a risk and an uncertainty ; and appearances belied 
Anson's capabilities of resistance. During the hot weather and 
rainy season of 1856, the heats and damps of Bengal tried him 
severely ; and Lord Canning more than once wrote home that 
his military colleague was reduced to a skeleton, and had lost 
all his bodily strength and all his buoyancy of spirit. But, at 
the same time, he spoke of the Chief as one who had many 
excellent points, both as an officer and as a man. The precise 
limits of authority vested in the chief civil and military func- 
tionaries are so ill defined, that, when the powers of both are 
combined in one individual, it is a mercy if he does not quarrel 
with himself. When they are divided, as is commonly the case, 
a conflict of authority is inevitable. And so at this time, the 
Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief soon came into 
official collision ; but it never grew into personal strife between 
Lord Canning and General Anson. The public prints hinted 
that there was a rupture between them ; and the same story 
travelled homewards and penetrated Cannon-row. But the 
Civilian wrote, that though there had been some special points 
of difference between them, the temper of the Soldier was so 
charming, and he was so thoroughly a gentleman, that it was 
quite impossible to quarrel with him. The inevitable antagonism 
of official interests could not weaken the ties of personal regard - t 
and when Anson, in the month of September, left Calcutta on a 
tour of military inspection in the Upper Provinces, he carried 
with him no kindlier wishes than those which attended him 
warm from the heart of the Governor-General.* 

* What Lord Canning wrote about General Anson is so honourable to both 
that it is quite a pleasure to quote it. "We get on admirably together," 
wrote the Governor-General in June. " His temper is chaiming, and I know 
no one whom I should not be sorry to see substituted for him." And again*. 

1856.] GENEKAL ANSON. 289 

in October : " I am not surprised at the report you mention that Anson and I 
do not get on well together, because such a rumour was current in Calcutta 
two or three months ago, and even found its way into the newspapers. I 
believe it originated in a difference between us on two points; one (of much 
interest to the Indian Army), the power of the Commander-in-Chief to with- 
hold applications for furlough, transmitted through him to the Governor- 
General iD Council ; the other, an authority to exercise something very like 
a veto upon the Governor-General's selections of officers for civil and political 
service. Upon both of which I found it necessary to disallow his pretensions. 
But neither these disagreements, nor the report to which they gave rise, have 
for a moment caused any misunderstanding or reserve between us. It would 
be very difficult to quarrel with any one so imperturbably good-tempered, and 
so thoroughly a gentleman." — MS. Correspondence. 

TOTj. I. 



With these colleagues in the Council Chamber, and with a staff 
of able, well-trained secretaries, of whom I shall speak hereafter, 
in the several Departments, the new Governor-General found 
the burden of his work, though it pressed heavily upon him, in 
no way galling or dispiriting. There are always small vexations 
and embarrassments ; incidental details, that will not run 
smoothly in the administrative groove, but grind and grate and 
have a stubborn obstructiveness about them. But the great 
sum-total of the business before him wore an aspect cheerful 
and encouraging. There was tranquillity in India. Outwardly, 
it seemed that Lord Dalhousie had left only a heritage of Peace. 
Even in Oudh, just emerging from a revolution, 
Administration there were external signs of general quietude ; of 
of oudh. contentment, or at least of submission ; and of the 
satisfactory progress of the administration. But a new adminis- 
trator was wanted. Outram had done his work. He had been 
selected to fill the office of Eesident, and no man could have 
more becomingly represented British interests at a corrupt and 
profligate Court. In that capacity it had fallen to his lot to 
accomplish ministerially the revolution which had been decreed 
by the British Government. But it was work that sickened 
him ; for although he believed that it was the duty of the 
Paramount State to rescue Oudh from the anarchy by which it 
had so long been rent, he was one whose political predilections 
were in favour of the maintenance of the Native States, and he 
knew that much wrong had been done to the Princes and Chiefs 
of India under the plea of promoting the interests of the people. 
When the Proclamation converted Oudh into a British province, 
the Eesident became Chief Commissioner, and the superintend- 
ence of the administration was the work that then devolved 
upon him. But it was work that Outram was not now destined 
to perforin. His health had broker, down ; the hot season was 

1856.] HENRY LAWRENCE. 291 

corning on apace ; and a voyage to England had been urgently 
pressed upon him by his medical advisers. So he sought per- 
mission to lay down the Portfolio for a while, and asked the 
Governor-General to appoint an officer to act for him in his 

It would have been comparatively easy to find a successor 
suited to the work, if the appointment to be disposed 
of had been a permanent one. But Lord Canning Question of 
had to find a man able to conduct the administra- 
tion at its most difficult stage, and yet willing to forsake other 
important work for the brief tenure of another's office. Outram 
said that there was one man in whom both the ability and the 
will were to be found. That man was Henry Eicketts, a Bengal 
civilian of high repute, whose appointment was pressed upon 
Lord Canning as the best that could be made. But Eicketts 
was wanted for other work. The authorities at home were 
clamouring for a reduction of expenditure ; and as retrenchment, 
public or private, commonly begins in the wrong place, a revision 
of official salaries was to be one of the first efforts of our economy. 
So Mr. Eicketts had been specially appointed to furnish a 
Report on the best means of extracting from the officers of 
Government the same amount of good public service for a less 
amount of public money. Lord Canning shook his head doubt- 
fully at the experiment ; but Cannon-row was urgent, and 
nothing was to be suffered to interrupt the labours of the man 
who was to suggest the means of increasing the financial 
prosperity of the Company by sapping out the energies of those 
upon whom that prosperity mainly depended. 

Whilst Outram and the Governor-General were corresponding 
about this arrangement, another plan for the temporary ad- 
ministration of Oudh was suggesting itself; but it never 
became more than a suggestion. Ever since the dissolution of 
the Lahore Board, Sir Henry Lawrence had held office as chief 
of the Political Agency at Rajputana. It was a post of honour 
and responsibility ; but there was not in the work to be done 
enough to satisfy so ardent and so active a mind, and he had 
longed, during that great struggle before Sebastopol, which he 
had watched with eager interest from the beginning, to show, 
when all the departments were breaking down, what a rough- 
and-ready Indian Political might do to help an army floundering 
miserably in a strange land. But this field of adventure was 
closed against him. Peace was proclaimed : and Henry 

u 2 


Lawrence, who had studied well the history and the institu- 
tions of Oudh, and who had advocated the assumption of the 
government, but not the annexation of the province or the 
absorption of its revenues, thought that he might do some good 
by superintending the administration during the first year of 
our tenure. There were many interests to be dealt with in that 
conjuncture, which required a strong but a gentle hand to 
accommodate them to the great revolution that had been 
accomplished, and he felt some apprehension lest civilian- 
government, harsh and precise, should forthwith begin to 
systematise, in utter disregard of the institutions and usages 
of the country, and should strike at once for a flourishing 
balance-sheet. It was too little the fashion to sympathise with 
the fallen fortunes of men ruined by the dominant influence of 
the White Eace. In the chivalrous benevolence of the out- 
going Commissioner, Henry Lawrence had full confidence. 
The great-hearted compassion which Outram had shown for 
the Arnirs of Sindh, proclaimed the mercy and justice of the 
man. But a civilian of the new school from the Eegulation 
Provinces might bring with him a colder heart and a sharper 
practice, and might overbear all ancient rights and privileges 
in pursuit of the favourite theory of the Dead Level. Anxious 
to avert this, which he believed would be a calamity alike to the 
people of Oudh and to his own government, Henry Lawrence 
offered to serve, during the transition-period, in Outram's place ; 
and the first misfortune that befell the ministry of Lord Canning 
was that the letter, conveying the proposal, arrived a little too 
late. A Commissioner had already been appointed. 

The choice had fallen on Mr. Coverley Jackson, a civilian 
from the North-West Provinces, an expert revenue 

The New officer, held in high esteem as a man of abilitv. 

Commissioner. . t , ° -in • » . "J 

but more than suspected ot some infirmity of 
temper. Aware of this notorious failing, but not deeming it 
sufficient to disqualify one otherwise so well fitted for the post, 
Lord Canning accompanied his offer of the appointment with a 
few words of caution, frank but kindly, and Jackson in the 
same spirit received the admonition, assuring the Governor- 
General that it would be his earnest endeavour to conciliate 
the good feelings of all who might be officially connected with 
him, so far as might be consistent with the claims of the public 
service and the maintenance of the authority entrusted to him. 
But he did not accomplish this ; and there is slight evidence 


that he resolutely attempted it. It was an untoward occurrence 
that the man next in authority, and the one with whom the 
circumstances of the province brought him most frequently 
into official communication, was as little able to control his 
temper as Jackson himself. Mr. Martin Gubbins, of the Bengal 
Civil Service, was the Financial Commissioner. Upon him 
devolved the immediate superintendence of the revenue ad- 
ministration of our new territory, whilst Mr. Ommaney, of the 
same service, superintended the department of Justice. A man 
of rare intelligence and sagacity, eager and energetic, Martin 
Gubbins would have been a first-rate public servant, if his 
utility had not been marred by a contentious spirit. His 
angularities of temper were continually bringing him in 
collision with others, and his pertinacious self-assertion would 
not suffer him, when once entangled in a controversy, ever to 
detach himself from it. Of all men in the service 
he was the one least likely to work harmoniously ^X^ 
with the Chief Commissioner. So it happened 
that, in a very short time, they were in a state of violent 
antagonism. Whether, in the first instance, Jackson over- 
strained his authority, and unwisely and unkindly expressed 
his displeasure in language calculated to excite irritation and 
resentment, or whether Gubbins was the first to display an 
insubordinate spirit, and to provoke the censure of his chief by 
the attempted usurpation of his powers, it is of little im- 
portance now to inquire. The sharp contention that grew up 
between them was soon made known to the Governor-General, 
ivho deplored and endeavoured to arrest it. How wisely and 
calmly he conveyed to the Commissioner an expression, less 
of his displeasure than of his regret, his correspondence 
pleasantly illustrated.* But no kindly counsel from Govern- 

* Take, for example, the following : " Judging by my own experience, I 
should say that in dealing with public servants who have incurred blame, 
everything is to be gained by telling them their faults in unmistakable 
language, plainly and nakedly ; but that one's purpose (their amendment) is 
rather defeated than otherwise by the use of terms that sting them, or amplify 
their offences to them unnecessarily — even though all be done within the 
strict limits of truth and fact. T believe that if a man has at bottom a sense 
of his duty, and is possessed of the feelings and temper of a gentleman, the 
more simply his error is put before him, and the more plain and quiet the 
reproof, tlie better chance there is of his correcting himself readily and will- 
ingly, and that if we wish to get work done hereafter out of some one whom 


ruent House could smooth down the asperities of Jackson's 
temper. As time advanced, the feud between him and Gubbins 
grew more bitter and more irreconcilable. In India, a paper 
war once commenced lasts out many a military campaign. 
There is something so exciting, so absorbing in it, that even 
the best public servants sometimes forget the public interests 
whilst they are wasting their time and expending their energies 
in personal conflicts and criminations. Had Coverley Jackson 
taken half as much pains to see that the pledges of the British 
Government were fulfilled, and the annexation of Oudh ren- 
dered as little ruinous as possible to all the chief people of the 
province, as he did to convict his subordinates of official mis- 
demeanours, it would have been better both for his own 
character and for the character of the nation. But whilst 
Jackson and Gubbins were in keen contention with each other, 
covering reams of paper with their charges and counter-charges 
and their vehement self-assertions, the generous nature of the 
Governor- General was grieved by complaints and remonstrances 
from the King, who declared, or suffered it to be declared for 
him, that the English officers in Lakhnao were inflicting 
grievous wrongs and indignities upon him and upon his family, 
seizing or destroying his property, and humiliating the members 
and dependents of his House. 

It has been shown that Wajid Ali, when he saw that all 
hope of saving his dominions from the great white 

Movements of k and t ] lat jjad ^ een J ai(i upon fa em 1^ titterly 
the ex-King. X" «/ 

gone from him, had talked about travelling to 
England and laying his sorrows at the foot of the Throne. 
But, in truth, travelling to England, or to any other place, was 
a thing rather to be whined about than to be done, by one so 
destitute of all activities, physical and mental, and it was 
almost certain that he would hitch somewhere ; not improbably 
at the first stage. And so he did. Halting not far from 
Lakhnao, the King awaited the on-coming of his minister, Ali 
Naki Khan, a man not wanting in activities of any kind, who 
had been detained at the capital to aid in the " transfer of the 
Government," out of which he had been ousted. But after a 

it is necessary to rebuke, we ought to give him as little excuse as possible (he 
will too often find it where it is not given) for feeling irritated against our- 
selves." — Lord Canning to Mr. Coverley Jackson, July 7, 1856. — MS. Correi- 

1856.J THE KING OF OUDH. 295 

while King and Minister, and other regal appendages, male and 
female, moved on towards Calcutta — the first . stages by land ; 
then afterwards taking the river steamer, at a time of year 
when there is ever a scant supply of water for such travelling, 
they were constrained to go " round by the Sundarbans," and 
make a long and by no means a pleasant voyage to the English 
capital ; of which necessity Lord Canning shrewdly observed 
that it would give his Majesty such a foretaste of life on board 
as would inevitably drive out of him any lingering thought of 
the passage across the black water to England. 

And so it was. The King arrived at Calcutta when the 
month of May had burnt itself half out, and Avas soon domiciled 
in a house on the river-side, which had erst been the suburban 
villa of an English Chief Justice. It was enough for him to 
see the steamers smoking past him seawards, and to keep 
steadily before him the conviction that for a man of his tastes 
and habits, to take no account of his girth, Garden Eeach was 
a more recommendable place than the Bay of Bengal, the Red 
Sea, or the Mediterranean. But still the pilgrimage to the foot 
of the Throne was to be undertaken, not by but for the last of 
the Oudh Kings. Without any sacrifice of his personal ease, 
or any abandonment of the delights of the Zenana, he might 
enter a vicarious appearance at St. James's by sending the 
chief members of his family — the nearest of his kindred, in 
each stage and relation, before, beside, and after him — his 
mother, his brother, and his son, with agents and ministers, 
black and white, to plead against the seizure of his dominions. 

There was one of the royal party with some substance of 
masculine vigour still left as God had given it; 
and that one was not the Heir- Apparent, or the so- ^fj^ 11 
called General, or a born manhood of any kind, but 
the Queen-Mother, who set the example of going across the dreary 
waste of black water and level sand straight to the feet of the 
Queen of England. And they went, not scantily attended 
either, those three, like thieves in the night, embarking secretly 
in the darkness, and taking Government House by surprise 
with the report of the accomplished fact of their departure. 
Not that Government House would have opposed any obstacle 
to their going in broad daylight, with drums beating and flags 
flying ; but that the steam-company, with an eye to business, 
thought it better to make a secret of it, such fellow-travellers, 
according to European notions, not increasing the comforts of 


the voyage. As to the Governor-General, all he could say was, 
" Let them go," pitying the East India Company, thus com- 
pelled to take such troublesome visitors, but claiming for them 
kindly and courteous treatment at the hands of the magnates 
of Leadenhall. And so those representatives of the exploded 
kingship of Oudh went westward, with vague but extensive 
ideas of a recovery past looking for on this side of eternity, 
buoyed up and encouraged by men who well knew the hope- 
lessness of the endeavour. The " case " was miserably mis- 
managed. There was much internal strife, and scarcely an 
attempt to strike out against the common foe. The so- 
called " Mission " went to pieces and rotted piecemeal. Not 
merely waste of treasure was there, but waste of life. The 
Queen-Mother and the Prince-General died, and were buried in 
the great cemetery of Pere la Chaise. The Heir-Apparent, 
money-bound and helpless, threw himself upon the mercy of 
the enemy, borrowed from them half a lakh of rupees, and was 
carried homewards, somewhat dazed and bewildered as to the 
upshot or no upshot of the whole affair, but with a prevailing 
sense of escape and relief that it was all over. And the rest of 
the luckless embassy went at last, leaving behind them some 
scum of official trouble and mishap, and some legal perplexities 
not readily soluble by any " perfection of human reason " known 
in our English courts. 

Meanwhile, in the name of the King himself, ministerial 
activities had not been wanting in India to make 
'tteex-Kinff substantial grievance, not so much of the thing done 
(for that was left to the " Mission ") as of the 
manner of doing it, which had not been all right. In the 
Humanities, wherein is included the great art of letting down 
easily, good to be learnt alike by Men and by Governments, we 
had not taken first-class honours. Not without some redden- 
ings of shame is it to be recorded that the wrongs inflicted 
upon the Princes of India in the shape of territorial disposses- 
sions and titular extinctions had been sometimes supplemented 
by lesser wrongs, more grievous to bear upon the one side and 
less to be justified on the other. For there is some dignity in 
great wrong, doing or suffering ; and a persuasion, in one case, 
not without sincerity at the bottom, that wrong is right. But 
look at the matter in what light we may, it can be nothing but 
miserable wrong to make these dispossessions and extinctions, 
which may be for the national good, the forerunners of per- 


sonal distresses and humiliations to individuals thus dispossessed 
and extinguished. Yet men and, redder shame still, feeble 
Zenana-bred women had brought this charge against the strong 
Government of the British, before the kingdom of Oudh was 
marked for extinction ; and now again the same complaint of 
supplemental cruelties and indignities, more galling than the 
one great wrong itself, went up from Wajid Ali, or was uttered 
in his name. It was charged against us that our officers had 
turned the stately palaces of Lakhnao into stalls and kennels, 
that delicate women, the daughters or the companions of kings, 
had been sent adrift, homeless and helpless, that treasure- 
houses had been violently broken open and despoiled, that the 
private property of the royal family had been sent to the 
hammer, and that other vile things had been done very 
humiliating to the King's people, but far more disgraceful to 
our own. 

Not only so disgraceful, but so injurious to us, so great a 
blunder, indeed, would such conduct have been, that all who 
had any hope of the restoration of the Oudh monarchy must 
have devoutly wished the story to be true. There were those 
who had such hope. How could it be hopeless, when it was 
remembered that the Sipahi Army of the Company was full of 
men whose homes were in Oudh; when it was believed that 
the great flood of English rule was sweeping away all existing 
interests, and destroying all the influential classes alike in tbe 
great towns and in the rural districts? The ministers and 
courtiers of the King of Oudh were at large in Calcutta and 
the neighbourhood, and might journey whithersoever they 
pleased. Vast fields of intrigue were open before them. The 
times were propitious. It was plain that there was a feeling of 
inquietude in the native mind, and that fear had engendered 
discontent. It was certain that the British Government were 
weak, for the country was stripped of European troops. The 
good day might yet come. Meanwhile, it might be something 
to spread abroad, truly or falsely, a story to the effect that the 
English, adding insult to injury, had cruelly humiliated all 
the members of the Oudh family left behind in Lakhnao. 

In these stories of official cruelty Canning had small faith. 
But the honour of his Government demanded that they should 
be inquired into and contradicted, and he urged the Chief 
Commissioner at once to investigate and report upon the 
charges put forth by the creatures of the King. But Jackson, 


full of his own wrongs, failed to see the importance of the task 
assigned to him, and his answers were unsatisfactory and 
apparently evasive. Privately as well as publicly he was 
urged by the Governor-General to address himself seriously to 
the work of effacing from the nation the dishonour with which 
the dependents of the old Court of Lakhnao had endeavoured 
to besmear the British name. But the result was not what 
Lord Canning had sought, not what he had expected. So at 
last, bitterly grieved and disappointed by the manner in which 
his representative had dealt with a subject, at once of so delicate 
and so important a nature, the Governor-General thus becom- 
ingly poured forth his indignation : " I will not 
° ct i°856 19 ' concea l from you," he wrote to Mr. Jackson, " my 
disappointment at the manner in which from first to 
last you have treated this matter. Instead of enabling the 
Government to answer distinctly and categorically every com- 
plaint which the King has preferred, you have passed over 
unnoticed some upon which you must have known that the 
Government were without materials for reply. Upon placing 
your answers, now that all have been received, side by side 
with the King's letters, I find myself quite unable to say 
whether any buildings such as he describes have been pulled 
down, and if so, why? — although one building, the Jelwa 
Khana, had been especially mentioned to the King, as in course 
of demolition — whether dogs or horses have been quartered in 
the Chatar Manzil, and especially whether a stoppage of the 
allowances to the King's descendants has been threatened, a 
statement to this effect being pointedly made in the King's 
letter of the 14th of September. You tell me that you have 
delayed your answers in order that they may be more complete. 
I can hardly think, therefore, that these matters have escaped 
you, and yet I do not know how otherwise to account for their 
being passed by. Be this as it may, the result of your course 
of proceeding is that the Governor-General is placed in an 
unbecoming, not to say humiliating position towards the King 
of Oudh. The King brings complaints, which, whether true or 
false, are plain enough against the officers of Government, and 
the Governor-General, after assuring the King that as soon as 
reference shall have been made to the Chief Commissioner, 
satisfactory explanation shall be given, and relying, as he has 
a right to do, that that officer will obey his instructions and do 
his duty, finds himself altogether mistaken, and defeated upon 


points which, however unworthy of notice they may appear to 
the Chief Commissioner at Lakhnao, cannot he slurred over by 
the Government in Calcutta. It matters nothing that these 
charges are instigated by disreputable hangers-on of the King, 
or that they are wholly or partly untrue, or even impossible. 
There they are in black and white, and they must be answered. 
It is surprising to me that you should have failed to appreciate 
the necessity." 

And it was surprising ; but Coverley Jackson, at that time, 
could scarcely appreciate any necessity save that of riding 
roughshod over Gubbins and Ommaney, and keeping them 
down to the right subordinate level. How far these charges 
of cruel indifference to the feelings of the Oudh family were 
true, to what extent the dependents of the late King were 
wronged and humiliated and the nobles of the land despoiled 
and depressed ; how, indeed, the revolution affected all existing 
interests, are subjects reserved for future inquiry. It would 
have been well if the Chief Commissioner had done as much to- 
mollify these poor people as to exasperate his own colleagues. 
But the temper of the man was to the last degree arbitrary and 
exacting, and Lord Canning, though with admirable patience 
and moderation he strove to control the excesses of his agent, 
could not hold them in check. Pointing to the great exemplar 
of John Lawrence, the Oudh administration having been con- 
structed on the Panjabi model, he showed that the reins of 
government might be held with a firm and vigorous hand by 
one not grasping at all departmental authority. But these 
kindly teachings were in vain. The old strife continued. 
Striking with one hand at Gubbins, and with the other at 
Ommaney, the Chief Commissioner was continually in an 
attitude of offence ; and the administration was likely to be 
wrecked altogether upon the lee-shore of these internal con- 
tentions. So, at last, the Governor-General was forced upon 
the conviction that he had selected the wrong man to preside 
in Oudh, and that the sooner he could be removed from it the 
better for the province. 

The readiest means of effecting this, without any public 
scandal or any recorded reproach injurious to Jackson's career, 
was by the restoration of James Outram to the post which the 
civilian had been holding for him. Very unfit, doubtless, was 
the " officiating Chief Commissioner " for that post ; but he had 
done good service to the State, he had some commendable points 


of character, and even at the bottom of his proved incapacity 
for this particular office there might be nothing worse than a 
distempered zeal. So Lord Canning, in the exercise of what is 
called a " sound discretion," as well as in obedience to the 
dictates of a kind heart, sought to accomplish the end in view 
by a return to the status ante in the natural order of things, 
rather than by any violent supersession of his unfortunate 
nominee. It was doubly a source, therefore, of satisfaction to 
him to learn that Outram, whose shattered health at the time 
of his departure in the spring had excited sad forebodings in 
the mind of the Governor-General, now in the autumn declared 
himself convalescent and about to return to his work. But the 
work, the very thought of which had breathed into the veins 
of the soldier-statesman new health, and revived all his pros- 
trate activities, was not administrative business in Oudh. It 
was altogether work of another kind and in another place, far 
enough away from the scene of all his former endeavours ; work 
the account of which must be prefaced by some historical 

Scarcely had Lord Canning taken his place in Government 
House, when the question of a war with Persia began 
T ^ e h r p pt 1 re to assume portentous dimensions. Truly, it was not 
his concern. Ever since the days when, nearly half 
a century before, there had been a strange mad scramble for 
diplomatic supremacy in Persia between the delegates of the 
Governor-General and of the Court of St. James's, the position 
of the Government of India towards our Persian Mission and 
our Persian policy had been very indistinctly defined. The 
financial responsibility of the Company had been at all times 
assumed, and the executive assistance of the Indian Govern- 
ment had been called for,* when our relations with that per- 
fidious Court had been beset with difficulties beyond the reach 
of diplomatic address. But the political control had been vested 
in the Imperial Government, as represented by the Foreign 
Office ; * and the officers of the Mission had been nominated by 
the Crown. Affairs were still in this state when Lord Canning 
assumed the Government of India, and found that Great Britain 

* Except during a brief interval ; that is, between the years 1826 and 
1835, when the King's Government delegated partially the management of 
affairs to the Governor-General, only to resume it wholly again. 

1852.] WAR WITH PERSIA. 301 

was rapidly drifting into a war with Persia, which it would be 
his duty to direct, and the resources for which must be supplied 
from the country under his charge. 

The difficulties, which now seemed to render war inevitable, 
were chronic difficulties, which were fast precipitat- 
ing an acute attack of disease. They were an after- 
growth of the great convulsion of 1838, which had culminated 
in the war in Afghanistan. We had tried to forget that hated 
country; but there was a Nemesis that forbade oblivion. It 
was an article of our political faith that Herat must be an inde- 
pendent principality, and we clung to it as if the very salva- 
tion of our Indian Empire depended un the maintenance of this 
doctrine. But there was nothing in the whole range of Eastern 
politics so certain to engender continual tribulation, and at last 
to compel us to apostatise in despair. The independence of 
Herat was a shadowy idea ; it never could be a substantial 
reality. With an Army of Occupation in Afghanistan, and with 
British officers freely disbursing British gold at the " gate of 
India," we had for awhile maintained the outward independence 
of the principality under Shah Kamran of the Saduzai House 
of Kabul ; but even then the minister, Yar Muhammad, was 
continually declaring that his heart was with Iran, and threaten- 
ing to throw himself into the arms of the Persian King. When 
the British Army had evacuated Afghanistan, the bold, un- 
scrupulous minister, having soon relieved himself of the nominal 
sovereignty of the Saduzai, began to rule the country on his 
own account. And he ruled it well : that is, he ruled it with 
vigour ; and for some ten years, by astute diplomacy, the soul 
of which was a system of small concessions to Persia, which 
soothed her pride and averted great demands, he governed the 
principality in peace, and maintained its nominal integrity. 
But his son, Sai'ud Muhammad, who succeeded him, had none of 
the essentials of a great ruler. Plentifully endowed with his 
father's wickedness, he lacked all his father's vigour. Trea- 
cherous and unscrupulous, but feeble in the extreme, he was 
ready, on the first appearance of danger, to become a creature 
of the Persian Court. Persia eagerly seized the opportunity ; 
and again England appeared upon the scene. 

In the course of 1852, a Persian Army marched upon Herat. 
Not, indeed, in open defiance ; not with any avowed object of 
conquest; but nominally, as a powerful ally, to perform an 
office of friendship. On the death of Yar Muhammad the affairs 


of the principality had fallen into confusion, and the Persian 
Army went forth with the benevolent design of restoring them 
to order and prosperity^. But the mask was soon thrown aside. 
The real object of the expedition proclaimed itself. Herat was 
declared to be an appendage of the Persian monarchy. This 
was not to be borne. To maintain the independence of Herat, 
England a few years before had been prepared to send her 
legions to the gates of the city. And now Persia was destroy- 
ing it by a trick. So, fortified by instructions from Downing- 
street, the British minister resisted the outrage. On pain of an 
entire forfeiture of the friendship of Great Britain, the Persian 
Government were called upon to withdraw their army, and to 
enter into a solemn covenant binding them to recognise and 
respect the independence of Herat. There were then the usual 
displays of trickery and evasiveness ; but overawed at last by 
the resolute bearing of the British minister, the required pledge 
was given, and Persia bound herself to acknowledge the inde- 
pendence which she was so eager to crush. But she was sorely 
disturbed and irritated by our interference with her schemes of 
ambition ; and thenceforth the British Mission became an object 
of dislike and suspicion at Teheran ; and a rupture between the 
two Courts was only a question of time. 

The war in the Crimea delayed — it did not avert — the inevit- 
able crisis. The genius of Persia had then free scope for exer- 
cise, and turned to the best account its opportunities of double- 
dealing. Waiting the sentence of the great Judge of Battles, 
she coquetted both with Bussia and with the Allies, and was ready 
to sell her good offices to the stronger party, or in a time of 
uncertainty to the higher bidder. But when the war ceased, 
her importance was gone ; she had not been able to turn her 
position to account during the day of strife, and when peace 
dawned again upon Europe, she tried in vain to be admitted to 
the great International Council, which made the work of recon- 
ciliation complete. Disappointed and offended, perhaps, not 
thinking much of our boasted victory, for Bussia had been 
successful in Asiatic Turkey, and Persia knew less about 
Sebastopol than about Kars, she could see no profit in the 
English alliance. The minister who then directed her affairs 
had no feeling of affection for the British representative at her 
Court. A strong personal prejudice, therefore, came in to 
aggravate the national antipathy; and before the end of 1855, 
the Mission had been so grievously insulted that Mr. Murray 


hauled down the British flag, and set his face towards the 
Turkish frontier. 

Into the details of this affair it is unnecessary to enter. 
Another event occurred about the same time. A rebellion 
broke out in Herat. Sai'ud Muhammad was killed. In his 
place was installed a member of the old Saduzai House, a 
nephew of Shah Kamran, Yusuf Khan by name, who had no 
peculiar qualifications for empire, but who could not be worse 
than the man whom he had supplanted. A revolution of this 
kind is so much in the common course of Afghan history, that 
we need not seek to account for it by any other than internal 
causes. But it was said that it had been fomented by Persian 
intrigue ; and it is certain that the Government of the Shah 
were eager to profit by the crisis. The times were propitious. 
There was in Central Asia at that time one great man, whose 
movements were regarded at the Persian Court with alarm not 
altogether feigned, though sometimes exaggerated for a purpose. 
Ever since the British had set the seal on their confession of 
gigantic failure in Afghanistan by restoring Dost Muhammad 
to empire, the energies and activities of the old Amir had ex- 
pended themselves on the consolidation of his former dominions ; 
and now he was hot to extend them to the westward. It was 
not merely an impulse of ambition. In part, at least, it was an 
instinct of self-preservation. The pretensions of Persia were 
not limited, and her encroachments were not likely to be con- 
fined to the principality of Herat. Already she had estab- 
lished a dominant influence in Kandahar, and did not scruple 
to talk about her rights of dominion. It was impossible for 
Dost Muhammad to regard this with unconcern. That Persia 
had views of extended influence, if not of actual conquest, in 
Afghanistan was certain. She had proposed to the Amir him- 
self to reduce the whole country to the condition of a protected 
State. The time had now come for him to put forth a mighty 
hand and a stretched-out arm for the maintenance of the inde- 
pendence of Afghanistan. Kohan-dil-Khan, his half-brother, 
the Chief of Kandahar, died in the autumn of 1855. Dost 
Muhammad had never trusted him ; and his son was not to be 
trusted. So the Amir, who had no love for half-measures, 
annexed Kandahar to the kingdom of Kabul ; and the Persian 
Government believed, or pretended to believe, that he included 
Herat itself in his scheme of conquest. 

He had at that time no such design. But it was a favourite 


trick of Persia to justify her own acts of aggression by a refer- 
ence to some alleged clanger and the necessity of self-preser- 
vation. So, seeing in the internal state of Herat an encouraging 
opportunity, and in the movements of Dost Muhammad a 
plausible pretext for evading their obligations, the Government 
of the Shah tore the convention of 1853 into shreds, and again 
marched an army upon Herat. But it met with no welcome 
there. Alarmed by the movements of the Kabul Amir, and threat- 
ened with a counter-revolution at home, the nominal ruler of 
Herat had turned towards the Persians for assistance, but when 
he found that the chief people of the place were opposed to such 
an alliance, and that a strong national Suni-ism prevailed 
among them, he hoisted British colours and invited Dost 
Muhammad to come to his aid. The characteristic bad faith of 
the Saduzai Princes was conspicuous in this wretched man. 
His own people could not trust him. The Persians were in- 
vesting the place, and it was feared that Yusuf Khan would 
betray the city into their hands. It was easy, therefore, to 
raise a party against him. So Isa Khan, the Deputy or 
Lieutenant-Governor of the place, caused him to be seized, and 
sent him a prisoner into the enemy's camp, with a letter 
declaring that he was of no use in Herat, and that the Persians 
might do with him as they liked. 

To this point events had progressed when Lord Canning was 
called upon to address himself seriously to the consideration of 
the troubled politics of Central Asia. To the new Governor- 
General these complications were a source of no common 
anxiety, for he could see clearly that England was drifting 
into war, and that, however little he might have to do with it 
in its origin and conception, its execution would be entrusted 
to him. There was a bitter flavour about the whole affair that 
was distasteful in the extreme to the Governor-General. " My 
hope of an accommodation," he wrote to the President in 
August, "has almost died out, and I contemplate the prospect 
of the inglorious and costly operations which lie before us with 
more disgust than I can express."* He had gone out, as others 
had gone before him, with an avowed and a sincere desire for 
peace ; but warned by their cruel disappointments, he had laid 
fast hold in India of the resolution which he had formed in 
England, and he was not by any adverse or any alluring cir- 

* Lord Canning to Mr. Vernon Smith, August 8, 1856. — MS. 


cumstances to be driven or enticed into unnecessary war. " Do 
not," he said, " be afraid of my being unduly hasty to punish 
Persia. Unless the Shah should steam up the Hugli, with 
Murray swinging at his yard-arm, I hope that we shall be able 
to keep the peace until your instructions arrive."* And he 
was anxious to avoid, not only aggressive measures from the 
side of India, but any diplomatic entanglements that might at 
some future time be a cause of perplexity to his Government. 
The politics of Central Asia he regarded with extreme aversion. 
Eemembering the fearful lessons of the Past, he determined 
not, of his own free will, to send a single man into Afghanistan ; 
and he resisted the promptings of Ministers at home, when it 
was suggested to him somewhat prematurely that seasonable 
donatives might convert Dost Muhammad into an effective ally, 
willing and ready to apply a blister from the side of Kandahar 
And when, at a later period, instructions came from 
England to supply the Amir with arms and money, and A 1 u 8 g 5 g St ' 
authority was given to the Governor-General to send a 
British Mission to Herat, he shrunk froin acting upon the latter 
suggestion. " I do not purpose," he wrote, " to use the per- 
mission to send British officers to Herat. We know much too 
little of things there to justify this step, which would for 
certain be full of risk. The place is hard pressed by famine as 
well as by the enemy. Our officers could take with them no 
relief nor any promise of it, for we are not going to march to 
Herat ourselves, and we cannot afford to promise on the faith of 
the Amir's performances." 

But unwilling as was Lord Canning to adopt the measures, 
to which reference was made in these letters, he could not 
maintain this policy of non-interference in Afghanistan after 
the Home Government had determined upon the declaration of 
war against Persia. The year had scarcely dawned, when such 
an upshot began to be discussed as something of no very remote 
reality, and before Parliament had broken up and her Majesty's 
Ministers had dispersed for the autumn, the equipment of an 
expedition to the Persian Gulf had been decreed. The orders 
from Home were that all preparations should be made for the 
despatch of a military and naval expedition from Bombay to 
the Persian Gulf; but that pending the progress of some further 
diplomacies in Europe, which might end in concessions, no 

* Lord Canning to Mr. Vernon Smith, April 22, 1856.- MS. 
vol. i. x 


actual start should be made. It was not until the end of 
September that Her Majesty's Government, through the legal 
channel of the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors of 
the East India Company, sent out final instructions for the 
sailing of the expedition and the commencement of the war.* 
On the evening of the last day of October, these instructions 
reached the Governor-General in Calcutta, and on the following 

morning — day of evil omen, for eighteen years before 
N °Y™ ber ^ na d delivered itself of the sad Afghan manifesto — 

a proclamation of war was issued. On the same day 
it was sent to Lord Elphinstone at Bombay, and the General in 
command was charged with instructions respecting the conduct 
of the expedition, and ordered straightway to begin. 

The question of the command of the expedition had been one 

which Lord Canning by no means found it easy to 
o^command" soive - Many names had been suggested to him, and 

among them that of General Windham — " Windham 
of the Eedan" — who had performed feats of gallantry in the 
Crimea, and was ready for hard service in any part of the 
world. But Lord Canning, whilst thoroughly appreciating 
Windham's gallant services in the field, and knowing well that 
his appointment would be " popular in England," saw that 
there were strong reasons against it. " In a mixed force of 
Queen's and Company's troops," he said, " it is of great import- 
ance that there should be a willing and earnest co-operation of 
all subordinate officers with the Commander, and it is more 
difficult to obtain this for a stranger than for one who is known. 
The Commander should have some acquaintance with the 
Indian Army, if he has to lead a large force of it into an un- 
known and difficult country. He should know something of its 
constitution, temper, and details — of what it can and what it 

* The orders were, under date July 22, 1856, that measures were to be 
"immediately taken at Bombay for the preparation of an expedition suffi- 
ciently powerful to occupy the island of Karak in the Persian Gulf, and the 
district of Bushir on the mainland ; but the expedition is not to sail until 
further orders shall have been received from this country." On the 26th of 
September the Secret Committee forwarded to Lord Canning copies of Lord 
Clarendon's instructions to the British Consuls in Persia to withdraw from 
that country, and of a letter addressed by his Lordship to the Commissioners 
for the Affairs of India, " requiring that the expedition, which will have been 
prepared, under instructions of the 22nd of July, shall, as soon as it can be 
completed, proceed to its destination in the Persian Gulf." 


cannot do. This would not be the case with Windham, fresh 
landed from England." And it is not to be doubted that he 
was right. If the force had been on a larger scale, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief himself might perhaps have been placed at its 
head ; but Lord Canning, with the highest possible opinion of 
Genera] Anson's fine temper, of the assiduity with which he 
had addressed himself to the business of his high office, and the 
ability with which he had mastered its details, had still some 
misgivings with respect to his prejudices, and doubted whether 
he had not formed certain conclusions unjust to the Company's 

On the whole, it was better, in any circumstances, that an 
Indian officer should command ; and Lord Canning was resolute 
that such should be the arrangement. But he had been some- 
what perplexed at first as to the choice to be made, and he had 
consulted Sir John Lawrence, as the man of all others who, not 
being by profession a soldier, had the finest soldierly instincts 
and the keenest appreciation of the essential qualities demanded 
for the command of such an expedition. What the great 
Panjabi administrator said in reply was an utterance of good 
sense and good feeling, the fulness of which, however, was not 
then as discernible as it now is, viewed by the light of inter- 
vening history. About the answer to be given there was no 
doubt; but clearly there was some difficulty. For the man 
whom of all men in India he held to be best fitted for the 
work in hand was his own brother, Sir Henry Law- 
rence ; and if he could go, accompanied by Colonel L^^nce 
Sydney Cotton, all would be well. " Cotton," wrote 
John Lawrence to the Governor-General, " is one of the best 
officers I have seen in India. He is a thorough soldier, 
loves his profession, and has considerable administrative talent. 
Of all the officers I have noted, with one exception, Sydney 
Cotton is the best." But his experiences, great as they were, 
had not lain in the line of diplomatic action, and, if it were 
uecessary, as Lawrence believed, to unite the political and the 
military authority in the same person, Cotton, good soldier as 
he was, might clearly lack some of the essential qualifications 
for the double office. So John Lawrence proceeded to say : " The 
man whom I would name for the command of such an expe- 
dition is my brother Henry. I can assure your lordship that I 
am not in the slightest degree biased in his favour. He has 
seen a good deal of service, having been in the first Burmese 

x 2 


war, in the second Afghan war, and in both the Satlaj cam- 
paigns. He is not an officer of much practical knowledge, 
except in his own branch (the Artillery), and he is not fond of 
details. But, on the other hand, he has great natural ability, 
immense force of character, is very popular in his service, has 
large political acumen, and much administrative ability. I do 
not think that there is a military man in India who is his equal 
in these points. He is also in possession of his full vigour, 
both of mind and body, and there is not a good soldier of the 
Bengal Army in the Panjab, or perhaps in Upper India, but 
would volunteer to serve under him. With him as the Com- 
mander, and Sydney Cotton as the Second-in-Command, the 
arrangement would be complete. Cotton is master of all tech- 
nical details of every arm of the service, and devotes his entire 
energies and thoughts to the welfare of his soldiers." 

All this might have been misunderstood ; and a little man, 
in such a case, would perhaps have hesitated to recommend his 
brother ; but John Lawrence knew that the advice was good, 
and that he was incapable of offering it if it had not been. 
" If I know myself," he wrote, " I would revolt against such 
conduct." But though strong in the conviction that of all men 
living Henry Lawrence was the best suited to the work in 
hand, he was loud in his praise of other good officers, and had 
various plans to recommend, any one of which might have a 
successful issue. If Sydney Cotton were sent in command, it 
would be well to associate with him such an officer as Herbert 
Edwardes, in the character of political adviser. "But, in such 
matters," said John Lawrence, " unity in council and action is 
of the highest importance, and a commander who unites the 
military and political functions is most desirable. If your 
lordship does not take my brother, and Outran) is available, I 
would be inclined to recommend him. I never met this officer ; 
but he has a high reputation." And John Jacob, as having 
much military ability and considerable political experience, was 
a man not to be overlooked in the account of available capacity 
for such an enterprise. 

But not only in Calcutta and in the Panjab was this cpiestion 
of the command of the expedition being considered. It was 
well pondered at Bombay and in England, taking a shape 
eventually to overrule all other decisions. The expedition 
was to sail from Bombay, and all the arrangements for its 
organisation and equipment were proceeding there. Lord 


Elphinstone was Governor of that Presidency. Twenty years 
before he had been Governor of Madras. At that time 
he was young, and not so serious and sedate as some Elp ^°gtone 
people thought the head of a Government ought to be. 
" We want a Governor," it was said, somewhat bitterly, " and 
they send us a Guardsman ; we want a statesman, and they 
send us a dancer." But he had ripened into what these people 
wanted, and now with a higher sense of the responsibilities of 
office, with a keener pleasure in his work, and a statesmanlike 
assiduity, for which the companions of his youth had not given 
him credit, he was, a second time, administering the affairs of 
an Indian Presidency, and busying himself with our external 
relations. The troops to be despatched, in the first instance, to 
the Persian Gulf were mainly Bombay troops, and it seemed 
fitting that the choice of a Commander should be made from 
the Bombay Army. If under stress of circumstance the war 
should assume more important dimensions, and the military 
force be proportionably extended, another selection might be 
made. But meanwhile, Elphinstone was requested to name 
some officer attached to his own Presidency, in whom the troops 
of all arms would have common confidence. So he named 
General Stalker, not without a pang of regret that he could not 
select Colonel Hancock — Hancock, the Adjutant-General of the 
Bombay Army — whom ill-health was driving to England. 
Stalker was the senior of the available officers, so there were no 
heart-burnings from supersession ; he had seen much service, 
he was experienced in command, and it was believed that the 
appointment would be both a popular and a safe one. " I hear 
favourable accounts of his good sense and temper," said Lord 
Oanning ; " and that is what is wanted for the service before 
him, which will require more of patient and enduring than of 
brilliant qualities." 

So General Stalker was appointed to the command of the 
expedition to the Persian Gulf. But whilst these and 
other arrangements were being: made in India, in the J a mes 

-iTr-T i iii -i-i Outram. 

belief that ere long they would be merged into others 
of a more comprehensive character, the question of the chief 
command was being solved in England in a manner hardly 
anticipated by the Governor-General. In the month of May 
he had taken leave of Sir James Outram. with painful mis- 
givings raised in his mind by the sight of the General's 
shattered frame and feeble bearing. He had suspected that 


the mischief was far greater than Outrain himself acknowledged 
or believed, and thought that years must elapse before he would 
be fit again for active service. And so thought all his friends 
in England. He appeared among them as the wreck only of 
the strong man who had left them a short time before; and 
they grieved to see the too visible signs of weakness and suffer- 
ing which every look and gesture afforded. The summer faded 
into autumn ; but there was little change for the better 
apparent in his outer aspect, when suddenly they were startled 
by the announcement that he was about forthwith to proceed 
to the Persian Gulf and take command of the expedition. 

Nobody knew, nobody knows, how it happened that suddenly, 
in this conjuncture, James Outram shook off the incumbrances 
of disease, rose up from the prostration of the sick-room, and 
stood erect, active, robust before the world with the harness of 
war on his back. It was the autumnal season, when men 
scatter and disperse themselves in strange places, and elude in 
a vagrant life the rumours of the distant world ; so there were 
many friends who, having left him at the summer's close a 
feeble invalid, were struck with a strange surprise when, 
returned or returning homewards, they were met by the news 
that Outram had gone or was going to Persia to take command 
of the invading force. The wonder soon gave place to delight ; 
for they knew that though he was moved by strong ambitions, 
there was ever within him a sense of duty still stronger, and 
that on no account would he jeopardise the interests of the 
State by taking upon himself responsibilities which he had not 
full assurance in his inmost self of his ample competence to dis- 
charge. And so it was. The sound of the distant strife had 
rekindled all his smouldering energies. There was work to be 
done, and he felt that he could do it. On the pleasant Brighton 
esplanade, sauntering along meditative, or perhaps in the 
stimulating companionship of a stalwart friend and high func- 
tionary, the Chairman of the Court of Directors of the 

^ykes! East India Company, Master of Masters, new hopes 
were wafted upon him with the sea-breezes, and his 
step grew firmer, his carriage more erect, as with strong assur- 
ance of support from Leadenhall-street, he resolved to tender 
his services to her Majesty's Government for employment in 
Persia with a joint military and diplomatic command. 

This was at the beginning of the last week of October. On 
the 26th he wrote to Lord Canning that he purposed returning 

i856.] SIK JAMES OUTRAM. 311 

to India by the mail of the 20th of December, " having perfectly- 
recovered from the illness which drove him home." And he 
added, " In the supposition that I may be more usefully 
employed with the army about to proceed to Persia than neces- 
sary to your lordship in Oudh, where everything is progressing 
so satisfactorily, I have offered my services to the President (of 
the Board of Control), should it be deemed advisable to entrust 
to me diplomatic powers in conjunction with the military 
command, and I believe that, should your lordship be disposed 
so to employ me, the home authorities would not object. In 
that case your lordship's commands would meet me at Aden, 
whence I would at once proceed to Bombay." * 

This letter reached Calcutta on the 2nd December. By the 
outgoing mail of the 8th, Lord Canning wrote to Outram at 
Aden, rejoicing in his complete recovery, " on every account, 
public and private," but questioning the policy of the Persian 
appointment. The expedition, he said, was not likely to 
increase in magnitude ; it was not probable that there would 
be any operations beyond the seaboard during the winter, or 
that any diplomatic action would be .taken to call for the 
employment of a high political functionary; if, indeed, over- 
tures were to be made, they would most probably be addressed 
through some friendly power to London ; there would be little 
scope, therefore, for his services with the Persian expedition, 
and it would be better, therefore, that he should return to his 
old appointment. " Oudh is completely tranquil," wrote Lord 
Canning, " and generally prospering. Nevertheless, I shall be 
very glad to see you resume your command there." The fact 
was that the Administration was by this time plunged into 
such a hopeless condition of internecine strife, that the 
Governor-General could in no way see any outlet of escape 
from the perplexities besetting him except by the removal of 
Chief-Commissioner Jackson ; and now here was the opportu- 
nity, for which he had been waiting, to accomplish this end in 
an easy natural manner, without any official scandal, or the 
infliction of any personal pain. 

But it was not to be so accomplished. Before the end of 
November the question of Outram's command of the Persian 

* So full was Outram at this time of the thought of his departure in 
December, and so eager for the advent of the happy day of release, that he 
dated this letter " December " instead of October. 


expedition had been fully discussed in the English Cabinet. 
Downing-street had laid fast hold of the idea, and pronounced 
its full satisfaction with it. Her Majesty the Queen had 
stamped the commission with the seal of her approbation, and 
the public voice, with one accord, had proclaimed that a good 
thing had been done, and that the right man would soon be 
in the right place. That it was thus virtually settled, past 
recall, went out under the President's hand by the mail of the 
26th of November, and greeted Lord Canning with the new 
year. In official language, however, of Court of Directors, or 
Secret Committee thereof, it took the shape not of an announce- 
ment of a thing done, but of a recommendation that it should 
be clone ; for it was substantially an interference with the 
prerogative of the Governor-General, and was to be softened 
down so as in no wise to give offence. But Lord Canning was 
not a man, in such a case, to raise a question of privilege, or, 
assured that it was, actually or presumedly, for the official good, 
to shoot out any porcupine-quills from his wounded official 
dignity. He took the interference in good part ; thanked the 
Chairman for the delicacy with which it had been communi- 
cated, and promised to give Outram his best support. He had 
doubted, he said, whether Outram's health and strength would 
be sufficient to bear the burdens that would be imposed upon 
him. " But the Queen's Government," he continued, " and the 
Secret Committee have seen him in recovered health, and if 
they are satisfied that he is in a condition to undertake the 
labour and trial of such a command, without risk to the interest 
confided to him, I have no objection to make, nor any wish to 
shake myself clear of responsibility." And then, with a refer- 
ence to a memorandum on the future conduct of the campaign 
which Outram had drawn up in England, the Governor-General 
added, "It is a pleasure to me to declare that I have been 
greatly struck by all that has proceeded from General Outram 
in regard to future operations in Persia. I think his plans 
excellent, prudent for the present, and capable of easy expan- 
sion hereafter, and the means which he proposes for carrying 
them out for the most part well suited. For everything that I 
have yet heard of his proposals he shall have my cordial support." 
Whilst the first division of the expeditionary force under 
1857 Stalker was commencing operations with good success 
Central-Asian in the Persian Gulf, the new year found Outram at 
Policy. Bombay superintending the despatch of the second. 


But it was not only by these movements from the sea-board 
that an impression was now to be made on the fears of 
the Court of Teheran. Diplomacy was to do its work in the 
country which lay between India and Persia. Eeluctant as 
he had been, in the earlier part of the year, to commit 
himself to any decided course of Central-Asian policy, Lord 
Canning now began to discern more clearly the benefits that 
might arise from a friendlv alliance with the Amir of Kabul. 
There was no longer any chance of a pacific solution of our 
difficulties. War had been proclaimed. Herat had fallen. 
Dost Muhammad had put forth plentiful indications of a strong 
desire for an English alliance ; and the English Government at 
home appeared to be not unwilling to meet his wishes. That 
some action must now be taken in that direction was certain. 
Already had arms and money been sent into Afghanistan ; but 
with no specific undertaking on the one side or the other, and 
it appeared desirable to put the matter now upon a more secure 
and a more dignified footing than that of temporary shifts and 
expedients. But there were great diversities of opinion as to 
the shape which should be taken by British action in the 
Afghan countries. Lord Canning had always had at least one 
clear conception about the matter ; that it was better to do 
little than to do much, and wise not to do that little a day 
sooner than was needed. The terrible lessons which had been 
burnt into us fifteen years before had lost none of their signi- 
ficance. The warning voice was still sounding in our ears ; the 
saving hand was still beckoning us away from those gloomy 
passes. It could never again enter into our imaginations to 
conceive the idea of turning back the tide of Russo-Persian 
invasion by making war against the national will and the 
substantive Government of the Afghans. But the monitions of 
the Past did not stop there. They cautioned us against ever 
sending a single British regiment across the Afghan frontier. 
Neither the Princes nor the People of Afghanistan were to be 
trusted, if the memories of their wrongs were to be reawakened 
within them by the presence of that which had done them such 
grievous harm. So, although among the schemes which were 
discussed, and in some military quarters advocated, was the 
project of an auxiliary British force, acting in close alliance 
with the Afghans, it was never for a moment seriously enter- 
tained in the Council Chamber. But to assail Persia in some 
measure from that side, whilst we were operating upon the sea- 


board ; to recover Herat, and, at the same time, to occupy some 
of the littoral provinces of the Persian Empire ; was doubtless 
to put enormous pressure upon the Shah, to hold him, as it 
were, in a vice, helpless and agonised, and to extort from him 
all that we might want. This, peradventure, might be done, 
by continuing to send British bayonets into Afghanistan, but 
without, as of old, British valour to wield them ; so many 
thousands of stands of arms, not so many thousands of soldiers ; 
and British money, lakhs upon lakhs, but no British hands to 
dispense it. In a word, if we could manage successfully to 
subsidise Dost Muhammad, and hold him, by the bonds of self- 
interest, to a friendly covenant, whereby whilst aiding us he 
would aid himself, we might bring the war much more rapidly 
to a conclusion than if no such alliance were formed. 

But there were strong doubts of the good faith of Dost 
Muhammad. The wily old Amir, it was said, was 
Muhammad w^ing upon the shore of circumstance, willing to 
sail in the same boat with us, if tide and stream 
should be in our favour and a fair wind setting in for success. 
For some time there had been going on between the Governor- 
General of India and the Ruler of Kabul certain passages of 
diplomatic coquetry, which had resulted rather in a promise of 
a close alliance, a kind of indefinite betrothal, than in the 
actual accomplishment of the fact. We had condoned the 
offence committed by the Amir at the close of the last war in 
the Panjab, when he had sent some of his best troops, in the 
uniforms of our own slaughtered soldiers, to aid the Sikhs in their 
efforts to expel us; and whilst Dalhousie was still the ruler of 

India, an engagement of general amity had been nego- 
M i855 3 °' tiated by John Lawrence on the one side, and Haidar 

Khan on the other, between the English and the 
Afghans. It was probably intended, with a forecast of the com- 
ing rupture with Persia, that this should in time be expanded 
into a more definite treaty with Dost Muhammad ; and more 
than two years before the occasion actually arose, the subsidising 
of the Amir loomed in the distance.* It was an old idea. Mr. 

* It was talked of, indeed, before the compact of 1855, but did not form a 
part of it. In 1854 (June 19), Sir Henry Lawrence wrote to the author : " I 
fancy that we shall have some sort of Treaty with Dost Muhammad, unless 
Lord Dalhousie overreach himself by too great anxiety and by agreeing to 
pay him a subsidy. If Persia attack Afghanistan the help we should give 
the latter should be by attacking Persia from the Gulf. We should not send 

1849-56.] DOST MUHAMMAD KHAN. 315 

Henry Ellis had entertained it; Sir John M'Neill had enter- 
tained, it ; * and if Lord Auckland's Secretaries had allowed 
him to entertain it, it is probable that the events of which I am 
about to write would never have afforded me a subject of 
History. In an hour of miserable infatuation, we had played 
the perilous game of King-making, and had forced an unpopular 
pageant upon a reluctant people. Now, after bitter experience, 
we were reverting to the first conception of our diplomatists ; 
but mild as comparatively the interference was, it was held by 
some great authorities to be wiser to leave Afghanistan and the 
Afghans altogether alone. In spite of the present benefit to 
be derived from applying in that quarter a blister to the side 
of Persia, it might be better to suffer the old Amir to make the 
most of the crisis after his own fashion. He would not fight our 
battles for us without substantial help ; but he might fight his 
own, and there could be no time, for the extension of his 
dominion to Herat, so opportune as that which saw Persia 
entangled in a war with England. But Dost Muhammad bad 
too clear a knowledge of the English, and Afghan cupidity was 
too strong within him, to suffer this gratuitous co operation. 
He knew that, if he waited, we should purchase his aid ; so he 
magnified the difficulties of the march to Herat, talked of the 
deficiency of his resources, and otherwise pretended that he 
lacked strength for a successful enterprise without continuous 
pecuniary aid from the English. Whether, having received 
such assistance from us, he would render effectual service in 
return for it, seemed to some of our Indian statesmen extremely 
doubtful, for there was the lowest possible estimate in their 
minds of Afghan truth and Afghan honour. There was the 
fear that the old Amir would set an extravagant price on his 
services, and that by disappointing his expectations, if not 
scouting his pretensions, we might inopportunely excite his 

a rupee or a man into Afghanistan. We should express readiness to forgive 
and forget, to cry quits in Afghan matters, and pledge ourselves to live as 
good neighbours in future ; but there ought to be no interference beyond the 
passes, and no backing of one party or another.'" 

* One passage in Sir John M-Neill*s early correspondence I cannot help 
quoting. There is rare prescience in it : " Dost Muhammad Khan, with a 
little aid from us, could be put in possession of both Kandahar and Herat. I 
anxiously hope that aid will not be withheld. A loan of money would pro- 
bably enable him to do this, and would give us a great hold upon him 

Until Dost Muhammad or some other Afghan shall have got both Kandahar 
and Herat into his hands, our position here must continue to be a false one." 


animosities against us. Some, indeed, thought that he looked 
eagerly to the conjuncture as one that might help him to 
realise his old day-dream, the recovery of Peshawar. There 
was, in truth, no lack of sagacity in these anticipations ; but, 
perhaps, at the bottom of them there lay too deep a distrust of 
the personal character of the Amir. He had, in all candour it 
must be admitted, too much reason to doubt the good faith of 
the English. He could fathom the depths of our selfishness as 
well as we could fathom the depths of his guile. In truth, 
there were causes of mutual suspicion ; and little good was 
likely to come from the distant fencing of diplomatic corres- 
pondence. So at last it was resolved to test the sincerity of 
the Amir by inviting him to a conference on the frontier. 
At that time, Herbert Edwardes, he of whose glorious 
youthful impulses I have spoken in the first chap- 
Herbert ^ er f ^jg wor ]r was Commissioner of Peshawar. 

Edwardes. ' . 

He had grown, by good-service brevet, rather than 
by the slow process of regimental promotion, from Lieutenant 
to Lieutenant-Colonel. His career had been a prosperous one, 
and its prosperity was well deserved. The great reputation 
which he had gained as an ambitious subaltern, brought 
down upon him at one time a shower of small jealousies 
and detractions. He had been feasted and flattered in Eng- 
land, and there were some who, doubtless with a certain self- 
consciousness of what would be likely to flow from such 
adulations, said that his head was turned, and that he had 
been overrated. But one, the noble helpmate of a truly noble 

man, wrote to me at this time, as one, however, not 
Honoria doubting, for I had like faith, that Herbert Edwardes 

was one of Nature's true nobility, and that surely I 
should live to know it. It was right. Under the Lawrences, 
Henry and John, both of whom he dearly loved, he grew to be 
one of the main pillars of the Panjabi Administration ; and 
now he was in charge of that part of the old dominions of 
Eanjit Singh which lay beyond the Indus ; the Proconsulate of 
Peshawar. Planted thus upon the frontier of Afghanistan, it 
was one of his special duties to watch the progress of events in 
that country, and duly to report upon them to the higher 
authorities. Of direct diplomatic action there had been little 
or none ; but no one knew what a day might produce, and it 
was ever therefore among the responsibilities of the Peshawar 
Commissioner to be well versed in the politics of Kabul, and 


prepared, in any conjuncture, to counsel the course to be taken 
by the British Government. 

For some time there had been much to observe and much to 
report, and now a conjuncture had arisen, which seemed to require 
from us that we should act. Persia was doing all that could 
be done to enlist the sympathies of Central Asia on her side, 
even in the far-off regions of Bokhara and Kokhand, by sending 
abroad, as a proof of the dangers of English friendship, copies 
of the pro-Christian Firman of the Sultan, which had been 
issued at the close of the Eussian war. It was fortunate, 
therefore, that at this time the political animosities of the 
Afghans were strongly excited against the Persians, for, per- 
haps, under such pressure, the chronic sectarian jealousies 
which kept the two nations apart might for a while have been 
merged in a common religious hatred of the Faringhis. A 
very little done, or left undone on our part, to offend the old 
Amir, might have lost to us for ever the only serviceable 
Muhammadan alliance that could Lave availed us in such a 
crisis. To no man was the value of this alliance so apparent 
as to Herbert Edwardes ; no man pressed its importance so 
earnestly upon the Governor-General. He believed that Dost 
Muhammad would respond with pleasure to an invitation to 
meet on the frontier of the two States a representative of the 
British Government, and to discuss the terms of a friendly 
alliance ; and he recommended that this invitation should be 
sent to him. Eeluctant as Lord Canning had been in the 
earlier part of the year to commit himself to any decided course 
of Afghan policy, he now before the close of it, in the altered 
circumstances that had arisen, yielded to this suggestion, and 
afterwards, with that frankness which sat so becomingly upon 
him, gracefully acknowledged its wisdom, and thanked the 

So Dost Muhammad was invited to a conference at Peshawar. 
He was, if willing to meet the representatives of the British 
Government, to discuss personally with them the terms of the 
alliance. Either Sir John Lawrence, accompanied by Colonel 
Edwardes, or Colonel Edwardes alone, as might be determined 
between them, was to meet the old Amir on the frontier, to 
feel his pulse, and to prescribe accordingly. It would have 
been a great opportunity for the younger man ; but Edwardes. 
to whom the decision was left by Lawrence, for ever giving 
the lie to all that had been charged against him on the score of 


vanity and self-assertion, strongly urged that the Mission 
should be headed by his beloved Chief. Lawrence, much doubt 
ing, however, whether the Amir would come, and little expect- 
ing a successful issue if he should come, lauded the magnanimity 
of his more sanguine friend, and prepared himself with all the 
earnestness of his nature to prove the groundlessness of his own 
anticipations of failure. 

They were groundless. The Amir accepted the invitation, 
marched down with two of his sons, some of his chosen coun- 
sellors, and a body of picked troops, to the frontier ; 

Ja °857 J L ' an( ^ on ^ ie fi rst ^ a y °f ^ ne new y ear received in the 
Khaibar Pass the first visit of the British Commis- 
sioners. It was with no common interest that Lawrence, 
Edwardes, Sydney Cotton, and the other English officers who 
accompanied them, looked into the face of the old Amir, 
whose white beard and venerable aspect had, fifteen years 
before, been so familiar to the eyes of the dwellers in Cal- 
cutta, and who in his fallen fortunes, half prisoner and half 
guest, had been a not unworthy object of our sympathies. 
When, nearly half a century before, the representatives of 
the British Government had been received almost on the same 
spot by Shah Sujah, they had found the Kabul ruler arrayed 
in gorgeous apparel, his whole person a blaze of jewellery, 
with the Koh-i-niir outshining it all; but the EDglish gentle- 
men now saw before them only a hale old man, very simply 
attired in a garment of the coarse camel-hair of the country. 
They found him full of energy, full of sagacity; courteous 
and friendly in his outer manner ; glad to welcome them to 
his camp. It was only a visit of ceremony ; repaid, two days 
later, by the Amir, who was received in the grand English 
style near Peshawar. Our troops formed a street more than 
a mile long, and after the Durbar marched past the Amir 
and his host in review order. More than seven thousand 
British fighting-men were assembled there, and among them 
were three complete European regiments, whose steady dis- 
cipline and soliditj^ and fine soldierly bearing, made a strong 
impression on the minds of the Afghan visitors, from the aged 
Amir himself to the youngest trooper of his escort. 

The formal interviews thus accomplished, the serious business 
of the conference commenced on the 5th of January. The Amir 
had pitched his Camp at Jamrud, and there Lawrence and 
Edwardes visited him, accompanied by Major Lumsden of the 


Guides. Dost Muhammad, his sons standing behind him, and a 
few chosen Sirdars on his left, opened the discussions with a 
long exposition of the recent struggles in Herat, and of the 
policy which he had himself pursued. He had entertained no 
schemes of conquest embracing that principality. The move- 
ments which the Persians had thus pretended to interpret were 
directed only towards Kandahar. But he frankly avowed his 
eager longing to recover Herat ; and, please God and the 
English, he would take it from the Persians. Swearing by 
Allah and the Prophet that, from that time, he would be our 
friend, let all the world be against him, he declared, as his 
enthusiasm kindled, that let the English but make a diversion 
in the Persian Gulf and supply him with money and with arms, 
he would mine the walls of Herat, blow up the towers, and take 
the place at the point of the sword ; or raise such a flame in the 
surrounding country as fairly to burn the Persians out of it. 
The Turkomans and the Usbegs would rise at his bidding, and 
join against a common foe. 

From that distant-frontier post, on the very outskirts of our 
empire, the telegraphic wires ran right up to the vice-regal 
capital, and the Governor-General and the Chief Commissioner 
were corresponding by the " lightning post " between Calcutta 
and Peshawar. So it happened that whilst John Lawrence 
and Dost Muhammad were in conference, a horseman galloped 
up with a message from the former, despatched on the pre- 
ceding day. In it Lord Canning told Lawrence that a re- 
inforcement of five thousand men would be sent as quickly as 
possible to the Persian Gulf; and that amongst the conditions 
of Peace with Persia would be a stipulation that she should 
withdraw her troops from Herat, and renounce for ever her 
pretensions to interfere with Afghanistan. The significant 
words, " You may make use of this," were included in the 
message. But the time had not then come for the best use to 
be made of it ; so John Lawrence, reserving the rest for more 
opportune disclosure, announced only that the reinforcements 
were about to be despatched to the Gulf. It was his design, at 
that first meeting, to elicit the views and intentions of the 
Amir rather than to disclose those of his own Government,* 

* This course, though doubtless the one that would have suggested itself 
to John Lawrence's unaided judgment, was expressly dictated by Lord Can- 
ning, who had written on the 2nd of December to the Chief Commissioner 


So, making no promises of any kind, he indicated the difficulties 
that seemed to lie in the way of the Afghan ruler, and asked 
for a recital of the means and resources, by which they were to 
be overcome, already at bis disposal, and the extent of the aid 
which lie would require from the English. But this was too 
momentous a question to be answered, without much thought 
and calculation ; so the Amir, seeking time for deliberation, said 
that he would unfold his views fully at the next meeting ; and 
so the conference broke up for the day. 

On the 7th, Dost Muhammad, attended by a few chosen 
counsellors, visited the British Camp, and the 
conferences were renewed in the Chief Com- JaD !857 y 7 ' 
missioner's tent. Pursuing the old process of 
drawing-out, John Lawrence, at the outset, reminded the Amir 
of his promise to state fully his views and intentions ; but it 
required some resolution and perseverance to keep the old 
Afghan to this point, and it was not without difficulty that the 
promised revelation was extorted from him. At last he 
explained that, owing to the state of the season, he could not 
commence his march on Herat until after the expiration of a 
period of two months ; grass and young grain would then be 
springing up, and with the aid of some not very elaborate 
commissariat arrangements, he would be able to find provisions 
for his troops ; that he proposed to march one column from 
Balkh and another from Kandahar. The muster-roll of his 
troops showed some thirty-five thousand men and sixty guns. 
These, he said, should be raised to fifty thousand men with a 
hundred guns ; four-fifths of the men and nearly the whole of 
the guns should, he said, be moved upon Herat. " But," he 
added, " if you say take more troops, I will take more ; if you say 
less will suffice, I will take less. I have given you my own 
opinion, but you Sahibs know Persia best." But when pressed 
for a statement of the amount of aid he would require, he said 
that on the morrow morning his son, Azim Jah, would wait upon 
the English gentlemen with all the required information in a 
digested form, in order that they might judge for themselves. 

Baying, " It is not certain that onr object will continue the same as the Amir's ; 
neither is it certain to what extent the Amir can contribute towards it, even 
whilst it continues the same. For these reasons it is necessary first that we 
should know what he can do ; and next, that we should come to a clear under- 
standing as to the conditions upon which lie shall receive aid in doing it. The- 
meeting ought to clear up the first point at onee." — MS. Correspondence. 

1857.] VIEWS OF THE AMIR. 321 

So the conference broke up ; and on the following day tho 
Amir's sons, accompanied by a few of his ministers, waited 
upon John Lawrence, and laid before him a detailed statement 
of the Finances of Afghanistan, and of the military resources 
of the empire, together with an estimate of the aid that would 
be required from the English to enable the Afghans to drive 
the Persians out of Herat, and to hold their own against all 
comers. The aid that was thus sought amounted in money to 
sixty-four lakhs of rupees a year whilst the war lasted, and in 
munitions to more than fifty guns, eight thousand stands of 
small arms, and ammunition at discretion. It was more than 
the English Government were likely to be willing to give, but 
not more than appeared really to be wanted. The largeness of 
the demand, however, suggested the idea of a less extensive 
enterprise ; and so Lawrence asked what would be required to 
enable the Afghans, abandoning all aggressive movements, to 
hold their own, without danger of encroachments from the 
westward. The question was not a welcome one. The Afghans 
were hot for an advance on Herat. If they were to sit down 
within their own dominions, the Persians would assuredly 
occupy Farah. It was for the English, of course, to decide 
upon the course to be pursued, but it was more in accordance 
with the genius and temper of the Afghans to take vigorous 
action in advance. Still, however, John Lawrence pressed for 
a statement of the requirements of the Afghans if a strictly 
defensive policy were maintained. The Sirdars could give no 
answer without consulting the Amir, so the conference broke 
up ; and next day they returned with the statement that, in 
addition to what had already been supplied, four thousand 
muskets would be required, and money to pay eight thousand 
regular troops ; one-half to be employed in tho Kandahar 
country, and the other half in Balkh. But still they were 
eager for the larger enterprise ; and one of them whispered to 
Edwardes that the enmity between the Afghans and the 
Persians was not merely an affair of this world, for that Shiahs 
and Sunis must always hate each other in the world to come. 
There was nothing more now to be said. The Afghans, on 
their part, had made known their wishes ; and all the English 
gentlemen could say in reply was, that they would at once 
communicate with their Government. 

So the telegraphic wires were again set in motion, and the 
Bubstance of what had passed at the two last meetings was 

VOL. I. Y 


communicated to the Governor-General at Calcutta. Then 
there was doubt in the Council Chamber. Would it be better 
to await detailed reports from Peshawar by post, or at once to 
send telegraphic instructions to Sir John Lawrence ? The 
former course was determined upon, and a message to that 
effect despatched to Peshawar. Lawrence had sent in detailed 
reports of the meetings, and had added to the last an ex- 
pression of his own views as to what should be done. He 
recommended that assistance on the larger scale, for the siege 
of Herat, should not be given to Dost Muhammad, but that we 
should give him the four thousand muskets that he required, 
and an annual subsidy of twelve lakhs of rupees, so long as 
England and Persia might be at war with each other. But it 
did not seem to him to be wise to await the slow process of 
correspondence by letter. The Amir was eager to depart ; and 
some time must be necessarily occupied in the negotiation of a 
formal agreement. So Lawrence telegraphed the substance of his 
recommendation to Calcutta, urged that nothing would be gained 
by awaiting his more detailed reports, and asked permission to 
communicate to the Amir the proposal which he thought it 
best to make. To this a message was promptly returned, 
saying : " You may tell the Amir that the terms are agreed to. 
Four thousand stand of arms and twelve lakhs a year, whilst 
England is at war with Persia. You will proceed to arrange 
the articles of agreement and report them by telegraph." 

This message was despatched on the 13th of January. On 
the following morning Lawrence and Edwardes proceeded to 
Dost Muhammad's camp, and unfolded to him the views and 
intentions of the British Government. With less appearance 
of disappointment than had been expected, the Amir assented 
to the abandonment of the expedition to Herat, and accepted 
the modified proposal of the English. But the despatch of a 
party of British officers to Kabul, which was to form part of 
the agreement, appeared to be distasteful to him. When active 
offensive warfare against Persia had been contemplated, he 
cherished the thought of their presence with his troops ; but 
now the state of affairs was altered. The point, however, was 
one not to be yielded. If the British were to give the subsidy, 
they were entitled to see it rightly appropriated. Then the Amir 
lowered his tone, and said that he was ready to do what was 
expedient ; and finally he agreed to all that was proposed. But- 
next day, when his son, Azim Khan, accompanied by other 


chiefs, visited, according to agreement, the English Com- 
missioners, to settle the precise terms of agreement, the question 
of the Mission to Kabul was reopened. It was urged that the 
appearance of British officers at the Afghan capital might 
compromise the Amir either with his own people or with his 
English friends. There would he danger in their path at 
Kabul ; but at Kandahar, threatened by the Persians, their 
presence would be better understood, and they might abide in 
perfect security. Nearly fifteen years had passed since our 
retributive Army had set its mark upon the Afghan capital ; 
but still the hatred which our usurpation had engendered was 
fresh in the minds of the people, and Dost Muhammad knew 
that there were those in Kabul whom he could not trust within 
reach of an English throat. It was a sad thought ; and 
Lawrence could not but ask how the alliance between the two 
nations could ever strike deep root when in one country such 
suspicions and animosities were never suffered to sleep. What 
the English wanted was not a temporary alliance dictated by 
an emergency of self-interest, but an enduring friendship based 
upon mutual confidence and respect. But Dost Muhammad knew 
the Afghans well, and little wisdom would there have been in 
disregarding a warning which eveiy Englishman's heart must 
have told him was an utterance of the voice of truth. So it 
was resolved that, although we should claim, and duly record, 
our right to send British officers to Kabul, as to other parts of 
Afghanistan, yet that practically the Mission should, in the 
first instance, proceed only to Kandahar. It was better than 
that our officers should be smuggled into the capital, sur- 
rounded by the Amir's troops, virtually prisoners under the 
name of protected guests. There was, at all events, some 
definite meaning in their proceeding to the more western city, 
for it was a better point from which to observe the movements 
of the Persians. But what route were they to take ? It was 
the Amir's wish that the Mission should proceed by way of the 
Bolan Pass ; but this, although the route by which Shah Sujah 
and the Army of the Indus had marched into Afghanistan, was 
said to be entering the country by a back door. It was, 
therefore, finally determined that the Mission should proceed 
by way of the Paiwar Pass,* an unexplored road to Kandahar ; 

* It was deemed advisable that the Mission should journey to Kanda- 
har by the route of the Paiwar Pass, a road that had never before been 

Y 2 


and that Major Henry Lumsden, of the Guide corps, an officer 
of great courage and capacity, versed in the politics of Afghan- 
istan, who had been marked from the first for the conduct of 
this enterprise, should he placed at its head. His brother, 
Lieutenant Peter Lumsden, was to accompany him, and Mr. 
Henry Bellew was selected to take medical charge of the 
Mission ; a post of more importance than it appears to be in an 
official gazette, for in such diplomacies as these the Medicine- 
chest and the Lancet are often more serviceable than the 
Portfolio and the Pen. 

On the 26th of January, the Articles of Agreement, having 
by the aid of the telegraph been approved by the Government 
at Calcutta, were ready for seal and signature; and a meeting 
for the conclusion of the compact was held in Dost Muhammad's 
tent. In attendance on the Amir were his son Azim Khan and 
several of his chief counsellors, whilst Lawrence, Edwardes, 
and Lumsden appeared on behalf of the English. Written in 
Persian and in English, the Articles of Agreement were read 
aloud in Durbar. By these the Amir engaged to maintain a 
force of eighteen thousand men ; to allow British officers to be 
stationed at Kabul, Kandahar, or Balkh, or wherever Afghan 
troops might be posted ; to receive a Wakil at Kabul, and to 
send one to Calcutta ; and to communicate to the Government 
of India any overtures that he might receive from Persia and 
from the Allies of Persia during the war. On their part, the 
English undertook, during the continuance of hostilities, to 
pay to the Amir a monthly subsidy of a lakh of rupees, to send 
him four thousand stands of arms, and, as if the wrong done 
had been all against us, to forget and forgive the past. It was 
explained that the British officers would in the first instance 
proceed to Kandahar ; and with this assurance the Amir was 
satisfied. So the Articles of Agreement were signed and sealed. 
Then came some discussion and some interchange of compli- 
ments. A message from the Governor- General had been received 
by telegraph, desiring Sir John Lawrence to express to Dost 
Muhammad "the satisfaction which he had derived from his 

traversed by Europeans, and was consequently unknown ground, and fall of 
interest to the British in a military point of view, as being one of the 
approaches by which an invading force from the West might enter andathick 
their Indian Empire." — Bellew' s Journal of a Political Mission to Afghanistan 
in 1857. 


frank dealing, and from the clear understanding on which 
affairs had been placed," together with the best wishes for his 
health and long life, and a word of regret that he had not 
himself been able to meet the Amir. The message was now 
delivered and received with manifest gratification. It would 
have delighted him, he said, to meet Lord Canning, but he 
could not expect his Lordship to take so long a journey to see 
him. He had known two Governor-Generals, Lord Auckland 
and Lord Ellenborough, who had been kind to him in old times ; 
he remembered also with gratitude the kindness of two other 
English gentlemen, Mr. Wilberforce Bird and Mr. Thoby 
Prinsep,* who had paid him much attention in Calcutta. 
" And now," he said, in conclusion, " I have made an alliance 
with the British Government, and come what may, I will keep 
it till death." And the promise thus given was never broken. 
He was true to the English alliance to the last. 

On the following day a Durbar was held in the Camp of the 
British Commissioner, and the chief officers of the 
Amir's suite attended to take their leave of the Jan ^ 27 ' 
English gentlemen. Dost Muhammad had ex- 
cused himself on the plea of age and infirmity. The visit to 
Peshawar, with its attendant anxieties and excitements, had 
visibly affected the Amir's health. The hale old man, who, 
three or four weeks before, had spent hours in the saddle, and 
seemed to be full of health and energy, had lost much of his 
bodily vigour and his elasticity of spirit. A sharp attack of gout 
had prostrated him ; and he seemed to be growing impatient 
under his protracted detention in Camp. So the conclusion of 
the Terms of Agreement was a manifest relief to him ; and it 
was with no common satisfaction that, on the day following the 
Farewell Durbar, he set his face towards Jalalabad, carrying 
with him, in bills on Kabul, a lakh of rupees and some costly 
presents from the British Government, j 

Nor was the gratification experienced at this time confined to 
the Amir's camp. Lawrence and Edwardes were well pleased 

* Then members of the Supreme Council of India. 

f The only present made by the Afghan ruler to his allies consisted of a 
batch of wretched horses, all of which, John Lawrence wrote, were spavined 
or worn out. The whole were sold for not more than 100Z. Perhaps Dost 
Muhammad, remembering the " pins and needles " brought by Burne.-t, which 
had caused so much disappointment some twenty years before at Kabul, did 
uot expect, on this occasion, to be the recipient of anything more valuable. 


to think that all had gone off so smoothly ; that the friendship 
of the Afghans had "been secured at no very extravagant cost ; 
and that, on the whole, although Dost Muhammad had not 
obtained all that he had asked, he had taken his departure 
tolerably well satisfied with the favourable issue of the meeting. 
Lord Canning, too, was more than well satisfied with the 
manner in which the negotiations had been conducted, and 
with the apparent result. He was not one stinting in free out- 
spoken expressions of praise and gratitude to those who did 
good service to his Government ; and, both in public and 
private letters, he cordially thanked the Commissioners, even 
before their work was done, for the admirable judgment and 
good tact which they had displayed at the conferences ; giving 
an especial word of thanks to Edwardes as the original suggester 
of the meeting,* and, it might have been added, the originator 
of the new policy which had more recently been observed 
towards the Afghans. To Major Lumsden he wrote, at the 
same time, a letter of kindly encouragement and good advice, 
cordially approving the selection, " not only from his trust in 
Sir John Lawrence's judgment on such matters, but from every- 
thing that the Governor-General had been able to hear of 
Lumsden from those who knew him." He knew the power of 
such words ; as a statesman he felt assured that they would 
bear good fruit ; but as a man he uttered them from the kind- 
ness of his heart. 

So Dost Muhammad set his face towards Kabul, and Sir John 
Lawrence, after a month of administrative journeying about 
the province, returned to Lahor. It need be no subject of 
surprise if the latter, as he went about his work, thinking of 
all that had been done at Peshawar, sometimes asked himself, 
"What good ? and wished that the monthly lakh of rupees to be 

* " I must ask you," wrote Lord Canning to Colonel Edwardes on the 19th 
January, " to accept my best thanks for the part you have taken in the recent 
negotiations, and for their satisfactory issue. I feel the more bound to do this, 
because the first suggestion of a meeting came from you; and so far as I can 
judge from the reports as yet received, and from the tone of the discussion 
shown in them, I believe that the suggestion has proved a very wise and use- 
ful one. • It would be a good thing if all diplomatic couferences were con- 
ducted so satisfactorily, and set forth as lucidly as these have been." All 
this was well deserved ; for the policy was emphatically Edwardes's policy ; 
he had been the first to recommend, in Lord Dalhousie's time, that we should 
try the effect of trusting the Afghans, and his recommendations had resulted 
in the general compact of 1855. 


expended on the Afghan Army were available for the improve- 
ment of the province under his charge ; for he had never liked 
the project from the beginning. He had no faith in Dost 
Muhammad. He had detected him in at least one palpable 
falsehood, and the detection had excited in the Amir no sense 
of shame, but rather a feeling of admiration at the clever in- 
credulity of the Faringhis. The expulsion of the Persians from 
Herat, or even the raising of the Turkoman tribes, was, in 
Lawrence's opinion, so far beyond the power of the Amir, that 
he believed, on the other hand, that the Persians would have 
little difficulty in seizing Kandahar. This belief in the weak- 
ness of Dost Muhammad was based upon a somewhat exaggerated 
estimate of the disunion among the chief people of the country. 
But even if the Amir had the power, Lawrence could not believe 
that he had the will to serve the British ; and he doubted, 
therefore, whether the subsidy would produce any tangible 
results. As to the question of the future of Herat, it had 
never even approached a solution. Dost Muhammad had been 
assured that the evacuation of the place by the Persians would 
be an essential condition of peace ; but he had not been able 
to offer, without manifest doubt and hesitation, any suggestion 
as to the best means of providing for its future government. 
In truth, there was a lack of available capacity in the direction 
in which it was most natural that we should look for a new ruler. 
When the Amir was asked if there was any member of Yar Mu- 
hammad's family to whom the government could be entrusted, he 
replied that there was a brother of Sai'ud Muhammad, but that, 
if possible, he was a greater reprobate and a greater fool than 
that unlucky chief. Sai'ud Muhammad, however, bad left a 
son, a boy of some ten years, in whose name a competent Wazir 
might administer the affairs of the principality; but a com- 
petent Wazir was not to be found more readily than a competent 
Prince. The future of Herat was, therefore, left to the de- 
velopment of the Chapter of Accidents. In the meanwhile, 
Lord Canning, though he had slowly come to this point, 
believed that the subsidising of the Amir was not a bad stroke of 
policy. It bound the Afghan ruler by strong ties of self-interest 
to remain faithful to the British Government. Even neutrality 
was great gain at a time when Persia was doing her best to raise 
a fervour of religious hatred against the English throughout 
all the countries of Central Asia. The very knowledge, indeed, 
of the fact that Dost Muhammad had gone down to Peshawar 


to negotiate a closer alliance with the British, must have had 
a moral effect at Teheran by no means conducive to an increased 
confidence in the Shah's powers of resistance. Altogether, it 
was not an inefficacious, whilst comparatively it was an inexpen- 
sive, mode of pressing upon Persia from the side of Afghanistan. 
But whilst he went thus far, Lord Canning was resolute to go 
no farther. He had made up his mind that the independence 
of Herat could be written only on sand ; that the waves of cir- 
cumstance from one direction or another must utterly efface it 
after a while ; and that it would be wiser to abandon an effort 
that was so fraught with tribulation, and so sure to result in 
failure. Certain he was that nothing would ever induce him 
to send a single regiment into Afghanistan to maintain the 
integrity of a petty state, which Nature seemed to have intended 
to be a part of Persia or a part of Afghanistan, and which, as in 
a national and religious sense it assuredly belonged to the 
latter, was certain, if left to itself, eventually to fall into the 
right hands.* 

Whilst thus, in this first month of the new year, Lord Canning 
„,, was eagerly watching, the progress of his foreign 

The question & J ° 1 & & 

oftneoudh policy, he was grappling with tne great difficulty 
Commissioners"!?, which beset his internal administration. The ques- 
tion of the Persian command had been settled ; but it unsettled, 
by its solution, that other question of the Oudh Commissioner- 
ship. It was clearer than ever that Jackson must be removed ; 
but it was no longer possible that his tenure of office should 
come to a natural end and peacefully die out. It was necessary 
to lay violent hands upon it, and bring it to an ignominious 
close. The necessity was painful to Lord Canning ; but the 
interests of the State demanded it, and the Govern or- General, 
in such a case, properly overrode the man. Therefore, as Outram 

* Dost Muhammad and his counsellors, during the conferences at Pesha- 
war, frequently asserted that Persia had, on this as on a former occasion, been 
instigated and aided by Russia to occupy Herat. I can discern no evidence 
of this. Prince Gortscliakotf assured Lord Granville at Moscow that the 
Russian Minister at Teheran had urged the Persian Government to evacuate 
Herat, and so to place themselves in a better position to demand from others 
a like observance of treaty obligations. It may be noted here, that the Amir 
told Lawrence at Peshawar that he would show him the letter which the 
unfortunate Russian diplomatist, Viktevitch, had carried with him to Kabul 
from the Government of the Czar. But he did not produce it after all. 


could not quietly resume his old seat, another officer was to be 
found to take the place of Commissioner Jackson. Ample 
admissions were there of zeal and ability, of assiduous devotion 
to public business, of much good work well done in the province ; 
but the tone and temper of the man, his contentious spirit, his 
insolent treatment of his colleagues, were past bearing ; and 
communication to that effect, with notice of appointment of a 
successor, was made to him in due course. 

The choice was an admirable one. It has been said that in 
the spring of 1856 Sir Henry Lawrence had offered his services 
to the Governor-General, to officiate as Chief Commissioner of 
Outlh, in Outram's absence, and that the first disaster that befell 
Lord Canning was that the offer was received too late.* When 
Henry Lawrence found that it was so, he saw at once the weak 
point of the arrangement, and an idea struck him that if, whilst 
the civil administration of the province was placed in Jackson's 
hands, he himself were vested with political and military 
authority in Oudh, all objects might be advantageously secured. 
It was but a passing thought, a fleeting suggestion ; but it 
found expression in a letter addressed to the Governor- General, 
who said, " Two Consuls and Two Tribunes have worked well 
enough in old times, as we all know ; but Two Commissioners 
at Lakhnao would have been at a dead lock within a month. 
I could not have delayed for a day the sending of a third." A 
truth not to be disputed. So Henry Lawrence had fallen back 
upon his duties among those intractable Eajputs ; grieving over 
their degeneracy, striving mightily, but with no great success, 
to evolve something of good out of their transition state, and at 
last admitting that the peace and security we had given them 
had not yet much improved the race. All through the year he 
had gone on, in bis old earnest, unstinting way, doing what he 
could, through divers channels of beneficence, alike for the 
Ancient Houses and the National Chivalries, whereof History 
and Tradition had given such grand accounts. But often had he 
turned aside from the thought of the Princes and the people by 
whom he was surrounded to consider the general condition of 
our empire in the East, and most of all our Military System, 
wherein he discerned some rottenness, which needed to be 
arrested lest the entire edifice should some day become nothing 
but a prostrate ruin. 

* Ante, page 292. 


But as the new year approached, certain promptings of failing 
health inwardly admonished him that it would be well to turn 
his face towards England for a while ; and he had just com- 
municated his wishes upon this score to the Governor-General, 
when there sprung up a great need for his services on a new 
and more hopeful field of action. So the answer that went back 
contained the expression of a hope that he would reconsider 
his determination to go home and accept the Chief Commissioner- 
ship of Oudh. " There is no person in whose hands I would so 
gladly and confidently place the charge," wrote Lord 
Canning, " and my only scruple in ottering it to you 
is, that I am proposing that which will interfere with the im- 
mediate recruiting of your health. But I will not for this 
refrain from executing my intention to do so, which was 
formed many days before I received your letter." And truly a 
most wise intention ; formed without any doubts and misgivings 
upon his part, for he knew the real character of the man ; but 
not without some counsel against it, given in perfect honesty 
and good faith by one honest and faithful to the core, but undei 
a false impression, an error afterwards frankly admitted. Had 
the counsellors been many, and all of the same singleness and 
sincerity, and the same ripe experience, they could not have 
turned Lord Canning from his good purpose, or shaken his 
conviction that he was right. 

The invitation reached Henry Lawrence at Nimach. It 
came to him, weak and dispirited as he was, with all the 
renovating influence of a breath of his native air. It was to 
him what the distant sound of the Persian war had been to 
James Outrarn. It made the blood course less languidly through 
his veins. With such work as lay before him in Oudh, he 
could not be an invalid. The head-shakings of the medical 
profession were nothing, if the practitioners learned in physical 
symptoms took no account of the action of the mind. It was 
the spirit, not the flesh, that required rousing. Two great 
clouds, coming from opposite directions, had overshadowed his 
life, blighting both his honourable ambitions and his domestic 
affections; a heavy disappointment followed by a cruel loss. 
The black-edged paper on which he wrote still spoke of the 
latter; a certain sadness of tone in all his allusions to his public 
life told how fresh were the wounds of the former. " Annoy- 
ances try me much more than work," he now wrote to Lord 
Canning. " Work does not oppress me." He could work at 

1857.] HENRY LAWRENCE. 331 

his desk, he said, for twelve or fifteen hours at a time. He had 
just made a tour of Gujrat, riding thirty or forty miles a day, 
sometimes being in the saddle from inorning to night, or from 
nio-ht to morning. "But," he added, "ever since I was so 
cavalierly elbowed out of the Panjab, I have fretted even to 
the injury of my health. Your lordship's handsome letter has 
quite relieved my mind on that point ; so I repeat that if, on 
this explanation, you think fit to send me to Oudh, I am quite 
ready, and can be there within twenty days of receiving your 
telegraphic reply." 

The substance of this letter was telegraphed to Calcutta, and 
it brought back a telegraphic answer. The convictions on both 
sides were so strong in favour of the arrangement that it was 
not likely to break down under any conditions or reservations 
on either part ; and so it was settled that Henry Lawrence 
should be Chief Commissioner of Oudh. " I am in great hopes," 
wrote Lord Canning, " that the task being so thoroughly con- 
genial to you, it will sit more lightly upon you than, measured 
by its labour alone, might be expected ; and as to my support, 
you shall have it heartily. The field before you is a noble one, 
full of interest and of opportunities for good ; and I look forward 
with the greatest confidence to the results of your exertions in 
it." So Henry Lawrence prepared himself to proceed to 
Lakhnao, and was soon on his way thither by easy stages ; for 
it was not desired that he should assume office before the middle 
of the following month. Halting at Bharatpur, where he took 
counsel with the Political agent and the Engineer officer, and 
did much to give a right direction to their energies, he proceeded 
thence to Agra, which was then the seat of the Lieutenant- 
Governorship of the North- Western Provinces. It was vividly 
remembered afterwards by one old friend with whom 
he held sweet communion at that time, that though M R ' e a<i e A ' 
his thoughts were pregnant with many grave matters 
begotten of the great Condition-of-lndia Question, and though 
he conversed of many things and many men, there was nothing 
that seemed to press more heavily on his mind than an anxious, 
uncertain feeling with respect to the state of the Sipahi Army. 
There were few civilians in the service who knew the Native 
soldier so well as this friend ; and as they talked over certain 
manifest signs and symptoms, and narrated what they had seen 
and heard, each saw plainly that there was a painful sense of 
comino- danger in the other's mind. For twelve years Henry 


Lawrence had been publicly discoursing of the defects of our 
Indian military system, and emphatically indicating the dangers 
which might some day overtake the State in the most terrible 
of all shapes, an outburst of the Native Soldiery ;* and he now 
playfully told his friend, but with more of sadness than of 
pleasantry in his speech, that the time was not far distant when 
the Sipahis would hold him and the Lieutenant-Governor and 
other " big Brahmans," as hostages in the Fort of Agra, until 
all their demands were granted. 

Still thinking much of this, and mindful that in the province 
to which he was proceeding he would stand on vantage-ground 
for the clear discernment of the real causes of the malady, 
Henry Lawrence passed on to Lakhnao. And before day had 
broken on the 20th of March, he had been received, at the 
Eesidency, by the man whom he had come to supplant. There 
must have been pain and embarrassment on both sides in such a 
meeting. But before he had broken his fast, the new Com- 
missioner sat down and wrote a letter to Lord Canning, saying 
that he had had two hours' friendly conversation with Mr. 
Jackson, who had received him altogether " like a gentleman." 
He had found a long and encouraging letter from the Governor- 
General awaiting him on his arrival ; and now he emphatically 
replied, " With your lordship's cordial support I have no fear 
of success." His spirit rose as he thought of the work before 
him. What that work was, what he found done and what he 
found undone in the province, when he assumed charge of his 
new office, will be told in a subsequent page of this story. 

%* No better opportunity than this may be afforded for a note on the 
opinions of Sir Henry Lawrence with respect to the maintenance of the 
Native States of India. Having said elsewhere that he was on principle 
opposed to the " Annexation Policy," I recently elicited the following reply 
from a distinguished writer in the Edinburgh Review: "A writer so well in- 
formed as Mr. Kaye need not have thus held on to the skirts of a popular 
delusion. The course which Sir Henry Lawrence favoured in respect to 
Oudh, by whatever name it may be called, is plain enough. It is a course 

* See Lawrence's Essays, reprinted from the Calcutta Review : " How un 
mindful we have been that what occurred in the city of Kabul may some day 
occur at Dehli, Mirath, or Bareli " (page 51). Again : " What the European 
officers have repeatedly done (i.e. mutinied) may surely be expected from 
Natives. We shall be unwise to wait for such occasion. Come it will, unless 
anticipated. A Clive may not be then at hand." The emphatic italics are 
Lawrence's. Other passages to the same effect might be cited. 

1857.] HENRY LAWRENCE. 333 

tfhich, if submitted to the ' Law Officers of the Crown,' as a question of inter- 
national law, would, probably, receive from these authorities some name 
harsher than 'annexation.'" To this T think it right to reply, that as any 
opinion which I may have formed of the sentiments, on this or any other sub- 
ject, of Sir Henry Lawrence, has been derived either from oral communication 
with him or from his letters to myself, I ought not to be charged with " hanging 
on to the skirts of a popular delusion." That those sentiments were what I 
have represented them to be, I have numerous proofs in his own handwriting. 
A single extract, however, from his correspondence will suffice for all pur- 
poses. Writing to me from Mount Abu on the 16th of July, 1856, with 
reference to the office under the Home Government of India which had 
recently been conferred on me, he said : " The appointment must be one of 
the pleasantest, unless, indeed, you feel as I do, that Government is going too 
fast, and that we are losing our good name among the Native States. I con- 
fess that I do not like the present system, and that I would gladly give up 
salary to change to a purely civil or military berth. When I read the tirades 
of the Friend of India, I half think myself (with many better men, including 
Elphinstone, Munro, and Clerk) a fool. The doctrine now is that it is 
wicked not to knock down and plunder every Native prince. My views are 
exactly what they were when I wrote the articles for you on the Marathas 
and on Oudh. My paper on Oudh would serve as a guide to present doings 
in all points save the disposal of the surplus revenue, which assuredly ought 
to be spent in Oudh. Nor, indeed, do I think that we should materially lose, or 
fail to gain thereby. Is it nothing that we should make a garden of the nursery 
of our Sipahis, and open out the resources of a province bordering for a thou- 
sand miles on our old ones ? . . . . But I repeat, that my taste for politics 
is gone. There is no confidence left in the country ; and one does not feel 
that the people about Government House care one straw about, one's exertions 
on behalf of the Native States.' Surely, the trumpet here gives no " uncertain 



The anxieties which Henry Lawrence carried with him to 
Lakhnao had then, for some weeks, been disquieting 
cloud, e the mind of the Governor-General. The old year had 
J T857 ry ' ^ e< ^ 0U ^' a PP aren tly leaving to its successor no 
greater troubles than those which were inseparable 
from the Persian war ; but before the new year was many days 
old, there arose upon the horizon that little cloud, no bigger 
than a man's hand, of which Lord Canning, at the great Fare- 
well Banquet of the Company, had prophetically spoken. It 
might be little ; it might be much. It might be blown away 
by a breath of wind ; or it might expand into terrific dimen- 
sions, covering the whole heaven as with a pall. Anyhow, it 
had an angry threatening aspect ; and the looker-on, being no 
alarmist, might well wish it away. 

Memorable, and, doubtless, well remembered is it that, when 
Lord Dalhousie bade farewell to the cares of Indian 
Ret i85^ Ct ' Government, he placed upon record an opinion that 
the condition of the Native soldiery left nothing to be 
desired. There was no reason why Lord Canning, at the out- 
set of his career, should not take this assertion on trust ; no 
reason why he should not hold to it for a while. He went out 
to India, prepossessed in favour of " the faithful Sipahi." He 
had, doubtless, read the noble picture which, nearly forty years 
before, his father had drawn of the fidelity of the Native 
soldiery of the Company, unshaken by threats, unallured by 
temptations.* There were no flutterings of disquiet apparent 

* As President of the Board of Control, George Canning had moved, in the 
House of Commons, the vote of thauks to Lord Hastings's Army for its ser- 
vice in the second Maratha war, and in the course of his speech had paid 
this fine tribute to the Native Army : " In doing justice," he said, " to the 
bravery of the Native troops, I must nut overlook another virtue, their fidelity 

1856] RETROSPECT. 335 

on the surface to raise anxious doubts and misgivings. But he 
had not long taken up the reins of Government, when the 
subject of the Native Army began to occupy his thoughts and 
to afford matter for much grave correspondence. The vast 
extension of territory which had made famous the career of 
Lord Dalhousie had not been followed by any corresponding 
extension of the Agency by which all this new country was to 
be administered. As so much more civil duty was to be done, 
it seemed, in strict logical sequence, that there was an increased 
demand for civil servants, and that this demand should have 
been supplied. But government by the Civil Service of the 
Company was costly ; and to have called for increased agency 
of this kind would perhaps have supplied Leadenhall Street 
with an argument against the profitableness of annexation. 
Moreover, there was much rough work to be done in our newly 
acquired provinces, for which, on the whole, perhaps, military 
administrators were better suited than civilians. So the 
military officer, as has before been said, was taken from his 
regimental duties to share in the civil administration of the 
country. Great had been, for this purpose, the drain upon the 
Native regiments, before the annexation of Oudh. That event 
brought the ascendant evil to a climax; and Lord Canning 
wrote home that it had become necessary to add two officers to 
each Native Infantry regiment and four to the Europeans. " A 
request," he wrote, in the early part of April, " for an addition 
to the number of officers in each Infantry regiment— European 
and Native — goes home by this mail. Four for each European 
and two for each Native regiment are asked. The application 
comes singly and in a bald shape ; because the necessity of an 

Many of the Bombay Army had been recruited in the territories of the Peshwa ; 
their property, their friends, their relatives, all that was valuable and dear to 
them, were still in that prince's power. Previously to the commencement of 
hostilities, the Peshwa had spared no pains to seduce and corrupt these 
troops ; he abstained from no threats to force them from their allegiance, but 
his utmost arts were vain. The Native officers and soldiers came to the 
British Commanders with the proofs of these temptations in their hands, and 
renewed the pledges of their attachment. One man, a non-commissioned 
officer, brought to his captain the sum of 5000 rupees, which had been pre- 
sented to him by the Peshwa in person, as an earnest of reward for desertion. 
The vengeance denounced by the Peshwa was not an unmeaning menace ; it 
did, in many instances, fall heavily on the relatives of those who resisted his 
threats and his entreaties ; but the effect was rather to exasperate than to 
repress their ardour in the service to which they had sworn to adhere." 


immediate increase is urgent, and because I have had no time 
to go into the complicated questions of our military wants 

There was, indeed, nothing more difficult to understand 
aright than these military questions ; difficult to ex- 

ot&aen" P ei "i ence d statesmen ; altogether embarrassing and 
bewildering to a Governor in his novitiate. Even this 
matter of " more officers," so smooth as it appeared to be on the 
surface, when you came to gauge it, was found to contain a 
deposit of doubt and conflict. It was held by some, who had 
studied well all the deteriorating influences of which so much 
has been said in these pages, that the cry for " more officers " 
was one to be responded to with caution ; that, indeed, the 
Native Army had already too many officers ; and that now to 
increase their number would be to increase one of the evils that 
had long been impairing its efficiency. That Lord Canning, 
fresh from England, should have taken the more popular view 
of this want of officers, was natural ; and, indeed, it may be said 
that it was a plain common-sense view, not wanting in a certain 
kind of logic. It had become a proverb that the English officer 
was the Backbone of the Native regiment; and, assuredly, the 
administrative demands of our new provinces had left these 
Native regiments, according to the recognized reading, sadly 
enfeebled and incapacitated. All that he now sought to do was 
to restore them somewhat more nearly to their normal condition. 
The remedy seemed to lie on the surface, and straightway he 
exerted himself to supply it. But the theory of the Backbone 
accepted, it was still possible that the vertebral column might 
be weakened by having too many joints ; and therefore it was 
said by a few thoughtful and experienced men, emphatically by 
Sir George Clerk,* that there was more danger in giving our 
Native regiments too many English officers than in giving them 
too few ; and for this reason, that being many they formed a 
society apart and kept aloof from their men, and became alto- 
gether in their ways of life too European. Doubts such as 
these, and from such a quarter, brought clearly to Lord 
Canning's mind the fact that the Native Army question was a 
very difficult one ; that it was almost impossible, indeed, whilst 
avoiding one rock, to escape from steering upon another. But 
the call for more officers had been made ; and, perhaps, with no 

* Then Secretary to the Board of Control. 


want of wisdom. For, although there was profound truth in 
what was said about the evil of too much Englishism in the Native 
Army, the Regular Regiments of the Company had been formed 
upon the European model, and the principle of command by 
many officers was a vital part of the system. The Irregular 
system might have been better than the Regular, but a Regular 
Regiment denuded of its officers fulfilled the condition of 
neither. So the Home Government recognized the want of 
more officers, and responded to the appeal. 

Another, and still more important question, soon came up for 
solution. The specific evils, which resulted from the „._,,, 

, • *■ j • • • n • t Evils of 

extension ot our dominions, varied in accordance extended 
with the direction in which we had extended them. domiui °n- 
The acquisition of new territory on the south-eastern coast had 
caused but little political excitement in India; but the very 
circumstance to which we owed our exemption from evils of one 
kind was the immediate source of another class of evils. It has 
been said that the intervention of the black waters of the Bay 
of Bengal cut off the sovereigns of Burmah from the brotherhood 
of the Princes of the great continent of India, and made it a 
matter of small concern whether we gained battles or lost them 
in that part of the world.* But that very black water made it 
difficult for us to garrison the country which we 
had won. The new province of Pegu had been Milita ^y de - 
bronght administratively under the Supreme 
Government of India, and in the first arrangements made for 
its military defence, the regiments planted there had been 
drawn from the Bengal Army. But the great bulk of that 
Army eschewed Foreign Service.! It was not part of the con- 
ditions under which they had enlisted, that they should cross 
the seas. The Sipahi, on taking service, swore that he would 
never forsake or abandon his colours, and that he would march 
whithersoever he was directed, whether within or beyond the 
territories of the Company. Out of the seventy-four regiments 

* Ante, pp. 47-49. 

f " The natives of India have, generally speaking, a rooted dislike to tho 
sea; and when we consider the great privations and hardships to which 
Hindus of high caste are subject on a long voyage, during which some of them, 
from prejudices of caste, subsist solely on parched grain, we feel less surprised 
at the occasional mutinies, which have been caused by orders for their em- 
barkation, than at the zeal and attachment they have often shown upon such 
trying occasions." — Sir John Malcolm in the Quarterly Review, vol. xviii. p. 399, 
VOL,. I. z 


composing the Native Infantry of the Bengal Army, six only 
were recruited for general service. When more Native troops 
had been required to take part in operations beyond the seas, it 
had been customary to call for volunteers from the 
Volunteer limited- service regiments. There had been often a 
free response to this invitation, and the volunteer corps 
had done their duty well upon Foreign service. In the old 
times, indeed, before the new organisation, they had in this 
respect shown signal devotion; they had gone willingly to 
remote places beyond the seas and cheerfully endured all the 
miseries and privations of long and boisterous voyages. In one 
year, seven thousand Bengal Sipahis had volunteered 
for service against the French in the Mauritius and 
in Java ; and had served for many years in those islands with 
unvarying fidelity and good conduct.* But, even in those days, 
they had been at times capricious ; and their caprices, as time 
advanced and their devotion to their officers diminished, had 
grown more frequent and more embarrassing, f The mutiny 
and massacre at Barrackpur had arisen out of the demands of 
the first Burmese war, and the second war in those trans- 
marine regions had raised up a new crop of difficulties of the 
old type. 

A few sentences will tell all that need be told of this last 

story : The Native troops employed in the conquest of Pegu 

were either Madras troops or the general-service regi- 

ments of the Bengal Army. But reinforcements were 

needed, and so a call was to be made for volunteers. The 

38th Native Begiment was then at the Presidency. It 

had served long and fought gallantly in Afghanistan, 

and it was believed that it would follow its officers to any part 

of the world. But when the day of trial came, the result was a 

bitter disappointment. The Sipahis were asked whether they 

would embark for Kangun to take part in the war, or for 

Arakan, there to relieve a general-service regiment, which in 

that case would be sent on to Burmah. Their reply wap, that 

they were willing to march anywhere, but that they would 

* The battalions thus formed were the basis of the six general-service 
regiments, in the later organisation, of which mention is made in the text. 

t Sir John Malcolm, writing in 1817-18, says, that all the mutinies in the 
Bengal Army up to that time had arisen from the blunders of tl eir command- 
ing officers, or from orders given to go beyond the seas. See article, pre- 
viously quoted, in Quarterly Review. 

1856.] RELIEFS FOR PEGU. 339 

not volunteer to cross the seas. Perfectly respectful in their 
language, they were firm in their refusal. Doubt and suspicion 
had taken possession of their minds. How it happened I do not 
know, but a belief was afterwards engendered among them that 
the English Government had a foul design to entrap them, and 
that if they commenced the march to the banks of the Irawadi, 
they would at a convenient point be taken to the sea-board and 
forcibly compelled to embark. Lord Dalhousie, taking, there- 
fore, the prudent rather than the vigorous view of the situation, 
and availing himself of the advanced state of the season as a 
plea for the adoption of the feebler of the two courses before 
him, yielded to these first symptoms of danger, and decreed that 
the 38th should be sent neither to Eangun nor to Arakan, but 
to the nearer and more inland station of Dhaka. And so nothing 
more was heard for a time of the disaffection of the Bengal Army. 
The Court of Directors of the East India Company, when 
this business was reported to them, saw clearly that it had 
become difficult to carry on the concerns of their vastly extended 
empire with one-half of their army, and that the more important 
half, bound to render them only a restricted obedience ; so tncy 
wrote out to the Governor-General that they hoped soon to be 
put in possession of the " sentiments of his Govern- 
ment on the expediency of adopting such a change ^^g^ 20 ' 
in the terms of future enlistments as might even- 
tually relieve them from similar embarrassments." But no action 
was taken during the remaining years of Lord Dalhousie's 
administration, and Lord Canning found, on his accession, that 
still but a twelfth part of the Bengal Army was available for 
service beyond the seas. What then was to be done, 
when reliefs were required for Pegu ? Even if the old Re pg f8 u for 
professional ardour of the Sipahi had been restored, 
the occasion was scarcely one on which the Government could 
have called for volunteers. The formation of volunteer regi- 
ments had been confined to periods of actual warfare ; and 
now that we required them merely to garrison our acquisitions 
in time of peace, the difficulty that confronted Lord Canning 
was one not readily to be overcome. He found at this time that 
of the six general-service regiments three were then in Pegu. 
They had embarked on a specific understanding that they should 
not be called upon to serve there for more than three years, and, 
in the rainy season of 1856, two of the three regiments were in 
their third year of transmarine service. In the early part of the 

2 2 


following year, therefore, a relief would be necessaiy ; but not 
one of the other three regiments could be despatched ; for they 
had all returned only a year or two before from service in the 
same part of the country. It was clear, therefore, that the 
Bengal Army could not provide the means of despatching the 
required reliefs by water transport to Pegu. 

So a question arose as to whether the lelieving regiments 
might not, according to their bond, be marched to the Burmese 
coast. It was a circuitous and toilsome journey, but it had been 
done, under pressure of like difficulty, thirty years before, and 
might yet be done again. But although the improvement of 
the communications between the Hugh and the Irawadi was 
then being urged forward by the Government, there was still a 
break on the line from Chatgaon to Akyab, of which our Engi- 
neers could not give a sufficiently encouraging account to satisfy 
the Governor-General that the relieving regiments could be 
sent by land in the ensuing cold season. " A part of the road," 
said Lord Canning, "could not be made passable for wheels by 
that time without the addition of eight thousand labourers to 
those already employed. If the use of wheeled carriages were 
abandoned, there would still remain encamping ground to be 
cleared on many parts of it ; the jungle, which is already 
choking the tract, to be removed ; preparation to be made for 
halting the men on the march ; wells to be dug, or water to be 
stored, where none has yet been found ; and stations and store- 
houses provided. Simple operations enough in themselves, but 
which in this case would have to be begun and completed, on 
two hundred miles of road, between the beginning of December, 
before which no work on that coast can be attempted, and 
February, when the troops must begin to pass over the ground, 
the supply of labour, as well as its quality, being very little 
trustworthy." " Obstacles of this kind," continued the Governor- 
General, "have been overcome again and again by the Sipahis 
of Bengal in their marches, whenever it has been necessaiy to 
do so ; but I am of opinion that it will be better in the present 
instance to seek some other solution of the difficulty. And I believe 
that the one most available is a recourse to the Madras Army." 

And why not ? The Madras, or, as it was once called, the 

Coast Army, was enlisted for general service. 

Demands on the p os t e d in the Southern Peninsula, and to a sreat 

Madras Army. . . , .. . Ti 

extent along the sea- board, it was as readily 
available for service on the other side of the Bay as the 


Army in Lower Bengal. If the duty were unpalatable, it 
could not, when diffused over fifty regiments, press very 
heavily upon any individual soldier. Besides, service of this 
kind had some compensations of its own, and was not altogether 
to be regarded as a grievance.* So it was thought that the 
garrison of Pegu might, for a time at least, be drawn from the 
Madras Army. But ready as the solution appeared to be, it 
was found that here also there was some hard, gritty, insoluble 
matter at the bottom of the scheme. The Madras Government, 
though not unwilling to send troops to Pegu as a temporary 
arrangement, protested against being called upon to supply a per- 
manent garrison to that part of our dominions. Such an arrange- 
ment would bring round to every regiment a tour of service 
beyond the sea once in every nine years, instead of once in 
twelve years ; it would render service in the Madras Army 
unpopular ; make recruiting difficult among the better class of 
Natives whom it was desired to enlist ; and, inasmuch as every 

* It must not be supposed, however, that the Madras Army had always 
cheerfully accepted this necessity for going upon foreign service. On several 
occasions they had broken into mutiny on the eve of embarkation. Once, 
towards the close of the last century, they had risen upon their European 
officers, when about to embark at Vizagpatan, and shot all but one or two, 
who had contrived to escape on board the ship which was waiting to receive 
the regiment. In a former chapter I have given some later instances, and 
others might have been cited. But there are some noble examples on record 
of another kind, and one adduced by Sir John Mal< olm, in the article previously 
quoted, deserves to be recorded here, if only as an illustration of the influence 
for good of a trusted commanding officer. Speaking of the services of the 22nd 
Madras Regiment, he says : " This fine corps was commanded by Lieutenant- 
Colonel James Oram, an officer not more distinguished for his personal zeal 
and gallantry than for a thorough knowledge of the men under his command, 
whose temper he had completely preserved, at the same time that he had 
imparted to them the highest perfection in their dress and discipline. When 
he proposed to his corps on parade to volunteer for Manilla, they only 
requested to know whether Colonel Oram would go with them ? The answer 
was, ' He would.' ' Will he stay with us ? ' was the second question. The 
reply was in the affirmative. The whole corps exclaimed, ' To Europe ! — to 
Kmrope!' And the alacrity and spirit with which they subsequently em- 
barked, showed that they would as readily have gone to the shores of the 
Atlantic as to an island of the Eastern Ocean. Not a man of the corps 
deserted, from the period they volunteered for service until they embarked ; 
and such was the contagion of their enthusiasm, that several Sipahis who 
were missing from one of the battalions in garrison at Madras, were found, 
when the expedition returned, to have deserted to join the 22nd under 
Colonel Oram. We state this anecdote," adds Sir John Malcolm, " with a 
full impression of the importance of the lesson it conveys. It is through theu 
affections alone that such a class of men can well be commanded," 


regiment lost much of its morale on Foreign service, and took 
two or three years to recover what was lost, the efficiency of 
the Madras Army would be permanently deteriorated. 

So Lord Canning turned his thoughts in another direction. 

Madras troops might be sent for the nonce to Pegu, 

The General but the permanent defence of that < >utly ing provi nee 

n Ac™ en across the Bay must, it appeared to him, be provided 

for by drawing, in some way, upon the Bengal 
Army. There was then lying, unresponded to, among the 
Records of the Military Department, that despatch of the Court 
of Directors in which the Government of India had been urged 
to devise the means of relieving themselves from all such em- 
barrassments by a change in the terms of future enlistments. 
After much inward thought and much consultation with others, 
he determined, therefore, to institute such a radical change in 
the constitution of the Bengal Army as four years before had 
been indicated by the Home Government. The reform which 
he contemplated was to have only a prospective effect. It was 
to touch no existing interests ; but to be applied prospectively 
to all who might enlist into the military service of the State. 
Thenceforth every recruit was to engage himself for general 
service. There might be an alteration in the form of the oath, 
or it might simply be left to the European officer to explain to 
every recruit that he had been enlisted for general service. 
Such had been the custom with respect to the six general- 
service regiments of the Bengal Army, and it had been found 
to answer every requirement. An explanatory order might be 
issued by the Governor-General in Council, and then the 
military authorities might follow up, in their own way, the 
blow struck at the niceties of the old system. The Governor- 
General argued, with irresistible force, that every Government 
should be master of its own Army. He was, however, at that 
time, fresh from England ; and he might be forgiven for not 
knowing how the Government could best make itself the 
master of such an Army as that with which he was then dealing. 
But he would have had no legitimate claim to forgiveness if he 
had failed to take counsel with those among his constitutional 
advisers who had spent all their adult lives in India, and who 
were presumably familiar with the feelings and opinions of the 

people. He did take counsel with them ; and they 

w. ur g e( j kj m | p Ursue this course. He who, of all 

the Councillors, best knew the Native character, was then in 


England ; but the ablest man amongst tbem argued that there 
was no place like Calcutta for shipping off a large 
military force, and that the Bay of Bengal had become M J - J - p - 
an Indian Lake. It does not seem that there was 
was any one at Lord Canning's elbow to tell him that, whatsoever 
might be the facilities of transport, the Bay of Bengal would 
still be the black water, the salt water, in the thoughts of the 
people from whom our recruits were to be drawn ; still regarded 
with mysterious awe, and recoiled from with unconquerable 

So, on the 25th July, 1858, a General Order was issued by the 
Government of India, declaring that, thenceforth, they would 
not accept the service of auy Native recruit who would not, 
" at the time of his enlistment, distinctly undertake to serve 
beyond the sea, whether within the territories of the Company 
or beyond them." In what light Lord Canning regarded this 
important change, with what arguments he supported the 
measures, may be gathered from his correspondence. " You 
will see," he wrote to the President of the India 
Board, "that a General Order has been published Au ^} 9 ' 
putting an end to the long-established, but most im- 
politic, embarrassing, and senseless practice of enlisting the 
Native Army of Bengal for limited service only ; the sole 
exceptions being six regiments of Native Infantry, which are 
recruited on the condition of serving anywhere, and the Artil- 
ler}\ It is marvellous that this should have continued so long, 
and that the Government of India should have tolerated, a»ain 
and again, having to beg for volunteers, when other Govern- 
ments, including those of Madras and Bombay, would have 
ordered their soldiers on their duty. It is the more surprising, 
because no one can allege any reason for conceding this un- 
reasonable immunity to the Bengal Sipahi. The difficulties of 
Caste furnish none whatever, for the Bombay Army is recruited 
in great part from the same classes and districts as that of 
Bengal ; and even in the latter the best Brahman in the ranks 
does not scruple to set aside his prejudices, whenever it suits 
him to do so. There seems to have been a dim apprehension 
that there might be risk in meddling with the fundamental 
conditions upon which the bargain between the Army and the 
Government has hitherto rested, and there are some few alarm- 
ists on the present occasion, but I have seen no reason to fear 
that the order will cause any bad feeling in the Bengal Army. 


As it touches no existing rights, it could only do so by exciting 
apprehensions that something more remains behind ; and, pro- 
bably, this may prove to be the case, for whenever I can 
propose a reduction in the numbers of the Bengal Eegiments, 
I shall endeavour to do so upon terms that will give a pre- 
ference of remaining in the ranks to such men as may be 
willing to accept general service. But this is no part of, and is 
not necessarily connected with, the present change ; moreover, 
as yet it is only in my own breast." And again, a 
Nov *™^ er 8 * few months later, he wrote, with still greater con- 
fidence : " There is no fear of feelings of Caste being 
excited by the new enlistment regulations in the Bengal Army. 
No one will come under it otherwise than voluntarily ; and the 
fact that a vast number of the recruits who join the Bombay 
regiments come from the same country, and are of the same 
caste, and in every respect of the same condition with the bulk 
of the Army in Bengal, proves that they do not, on first enter- 
ing the service, hold very closely to Caste privileges. You are 
aware that the Bombay Army is enlisted for general service 
without exception. The only apprehension I have ever had 
(and that has vanished) is, that the Sipahis already enlisted on 
the old terms might suspect that it was a first step towards 
breaking faith with them, and that on the first necessity they 
might be compelled to cross the sea. But there has been no 
sign of any such false alarm on their part." 

No signs truly apparent at Government House ; but many 
and great in the Native villages, and much talk in the Lines 
and Bazaars. It was hardly right even to say that there was 
no interference with existing interests. For the interest of the 
Sipahi in the Bengal Army was an hereditary interest. If the 
British Government did not at once assume the right to send 
him across the sea, it seemed certain that his sons would be sent. 
There was an end, indeed, of the exclusive privileges which the 
Bengal Sipahi had so long enjoyed ; the service never could be 
hereafter what it had been of old ; and all the old pride, there- 
fore, with which the veteran had thought of his boys succeeding 
him was now suddenly extinguished. Besides, the effect, he 
said, would be, that high-caste men would shrink from entering 
the service, and that, therefore, the vacant places of his brethren 
would be filled by men with whom he could have no feeling of 
comradeship. And this was no imaginary fear. No sooner 
had the order made its way through the Provinces, than it 


became patent to all engaged in the work of enlistment that 
the same high-caste men as had before been readily recruited 
were no longer pressing forward to enter the British service.* 
As it was believed that we had too many Brahmans and 
Rajputs in the Bengal Army, this in itself might have been no 
great evil. But it was of all things the least likely that such 
an order should pass into general circulation without being 
ignorantly misunderstood by some, and designedly misinter- 
preted by others. 

So it was soon said that the English gentlemen were trying 
to rid themselves of their old high-caste Sipahis, 
and that soon the profession which had been fol- Enli s s i t ^ e s " t of 
lowed, with honourable pride, by generation after 
generation of old soldier-families would not be open to them. 
And this belief was greatly strengthened by a rumour which 
went forth about the same time, to the effect that Government 
had determined on enlisting thirty thousand more Sikhs. The 
conquest of the Panjab had placed at our disposal the services 
of a warlike race, always eager to wear the uniform of a suc- 
cessful ruler, for in their eyes success was plunder. Less dainty 
in the choice of their battlefields, and not less brave or robust 
in battle, they were the very kind of mercenaries that we 
wanted to give new bone and sinew to the body of our Native 
Army. Whether there were or were not, at this time, a ten- 
dency to over-work this new and promising recruiting-ground, 
it is certain that the old race of Sipahis believed that we were 
designedly working it to their injury and their overthrow. 
They gave ready credence, therefore, to exaggerated reports of 
Sikh enlistments, and, coupling them with the New General 
Service Order, leapt to the conclusion that the English had 
done with the old Bengal Army, and were about to substitute 
for it another that would go anywhere and do anything, like 
coolies and pariahs. 

* Take, in proof of this, the following extract from a letter written by Sir 
Henry Lawrence to Lord Canning, on the 1st of May, 1857 : "The General 
Service Enlistment Oath is most distasteful, keeps many out of the service, and 
frightens the old Sipahis, who imagine that the oaths of the young recruits 
affect the whole regiment. One of the best captains of the 13th Native 
Infantry, in this place, said to me last week that he had clearly ascertained 
this fact : Mr. E. A. Keade, of the Sudder Board, who was for years collector 
of Gorakhpur, had the General Service Order given to him as a reason last 
year, when on his tour, by Rajputs, for not entering the service. The salt 
water, he told me, was the universal answer." — MS. Correspondence. 


Moreover, there were not wanting those who were eager to 
persuade the Sipahis of the Bengal Army that this 
Effects of the new Act was another insidious attempt to destroy 
Ge me e n a Aud!r. t " the Caste of the people, and to make men of all 
creeds do the bidding of the English, by merging 
all into the one faith of the Faringhi. It was another link in 
the great chain of evidence which had been artfully employed 
to convict the British Government of the charge of aiming at 
the compulsory conversion of the people. The season was most 
propitious. The coming of Lord Canning had, by some strange 
process of association which I find it impossible to trace, been 
identified with certain alleged instructions from England, ema- 
nating from the Queen herself in Council, for the Christian- 
isation, by fair means or by foul, of the great mass of the 
people ; and now one of the first acts of his Government was to 
issue an order making it compulsory on the Sipahi to take to 
the transport vessel, to cross the black water, and to serve in 
strange parts of the world, far away, perhaps, from all the 
emblems and observances of his religion, among a people sacri- 
legious and unclean. 

The Native mind was, at this time, in a most sensitive state, 
and easily wrought upon by suspicious appearances. 
Apprehensions "What these appearances were, has, in some measure, 
been shown in former chapters of this narrative. 
Even the Bailway and the Electric Telegraph had been ac- 
counted as blows struck at the religions of the country. Nor 
was this purely a creation of the Native mind, an unaided 
conception of the Priests or the People; for the missionaries 
themselves had pleaded the recent material progress of the 
English as an argument in favour of the adoption by the in- 
habitants of India of one universal religion. " The time 
appears to have come," they said in an Address which was 
extensively circulated in Bengal during the closing years of 
Lord Dalhousie's administration, " when earnest consideration 
should be given to the question, whether or not all men should 
embrace the same system of religion. Bail ways, Steam- vessels, 
and the Electric Telegraph are rapidly uniting all the nations 
of the earth. The more they are brought together, the more 
certain does the conclusion become that all have the same 
wants, the same anxieties, and the same sorrows ;" and so on, 
with manifest endeavour to prove that European civilization 
was the forerunner of an inevitable absorption of all other 


faiths into the one faith of the White Ruler. This had gone 
forth, an egregious Christian manifesto, not wanting in funda- 
mental truth, or in certain abstract proprieties of argument and 
diction, to " Educated Natives," especially to respectable Mu- 
hammadans in Government employment, some of the leading 
Native functionaries of Bengal. What might truly be the 
purport of it, and whence it came, was not very clear at first ; 
but ere long it came to be accepted as a direct emanation from 
Government, intended to invite the people to apostatise from 
the religions of their fathers. And such was the excitement 
that Commissioner Tayler, of the great Patna division, wherein 
some disquietudes had before arisen, mainly of the Muham- 
madan type, reported to Lieutenant-Governor Halliday that 
intelligent natives, especially the better class of Muslims, were 
"impressed with a full belief that Government were imme- 
diately about to attempt the forcible conversion of its subjects." 
It was added, that "a correspondence on this head had for 
some time been going on between native gentlemen in various 
parts of the Lower Provinces ;" and Lieutenant-Governor Hal- 
liday saw so clearly that this was no impalpable mare's-nest, 
no idle scum of an alarmist brain, that he forthwith issued 
a sedative Proclamation ; which sedative Proclamation was 
speedily answered anonymously, but beyond doubt by an " in- 
telligent native," or conclave of " intelligent natives," clearly 
showing by the inevitable logic of facts that if this notion of a 
war against the religions of India had laid hold of the national 
mind, the Government had by their own measures given en- 
couragement to the dangerous belief. 

Very obstinate, indeed, and hard to be removed, was this 
belief; so hard, that the very efforts made to efface it might 
only fix more ineffaceably the damaging impression on the 
native mind. For if the wondering multitude did not think, 
there were a crafty few ready to teach them, that if Govern- 
ment designed, by foul means, to destroy the caste of the people 
and the religions of the country, they would not hesitate to 
make the issuing of a lying proclamation a part of the process. 
The conviction that it was the deliberate design of the British 
Government, by force or fraud, to attain this great object, was 
growing stronger and stronger every month, when Lord 
Canning arrived in India, and at once became, all unwittingly, 
a special object of suspicion and alarm. The lies which 
attended, perhaps preceded, his advent, caused all his move- 


ments to he narrowly watched ; and it began soon to he hruited 
abroad that he had subscribed largely to missionary societies, 
and that Lady Canning, who was known to be in the especial 
confidence of the Queen, was intent on making great personal 
exertions for the conversion of the women of the country. 

But there was no truth in all this. The Governor-General 
I ord Canning ^ad °^ orie no more than other Governors-General 
and the Religious had done before him. He had sent a donation to 
societies. t ^ e gi D i e Society, a society for the translation of 
the Scriptures into the Oriental languages, and the circulation 
of these new versions among the people. But the translation 
of the Scriptures had been carried on more than half a century 
before, in the College of Fort William, under the especial 
patronage of Lord Wellesley ; and Lord Wellesley's successor, 
during whose reign the Calcutta Bible Society was established, 
headed the list with a large subscription. Lord Hastings, Lord 
William Bentinck, and Sir Charles Metcalfe had all contributed 
to the funds of the society. But Lord Canning had also given 
a donation to the Baptist College at Srirampur. What then ? 
It had been established in 1818, under the auspices of Lord 
Hastings, whose name had been published as the "First 
Patron " of the Institution, and it had received the support of 
subsequent Goveimors-General without question or comment. 
Besides these donations, he had made a contribution to the 
support of the excellent school of the Free Church Mission, 
under the management of Dr. Duff, as Lord Dalhousie had done 
before him. " I admit," he said, " that the Head of the 
Government in India ought to abstain from acts which may 
have the appearance of an exercise of power, authority, solicita- 
tion, or persuasion towards inducing natives to change their 
religion. But if it is contended that a school like this, 
thoroughly catholic and liberal, open to students of every creed, 
doing violence to none, and so conducted as to disarm hostility 
and jealousy (the number of the Hindu and Musulman scholars 
shows this), is not to have countenance and support from the 
Governor-General because it is managed by missionaries, I join 
isstie on that point. I am not prepared to act upon that 

And what had Lady Canning done ? She had taken a true 
womanly interest in the education of native female children. 
She had visited the female schools of Calcutta in a quiet, un- 
obtrusive way ; but once only in each case, save with a notable 


exception in favour of the Bethune Institution, which had been 
taken by Lord Dalhousie under the special care of the Govern- 
ment.* In this Lady Canning had taken some observable 
interest. But as the Managing Committee of the school was 
composed of high-caste Hindu gentlemen, there was assuredly 
no apparent necessity for restraining her womanly instincts 
and shrinking into apathy and indolence, as one regardless of 
the happiness and the dignity of her sex. Whatsoever may 
have been the zeal for the conversion of the Heathen that 
pervaded Government House, there were no indiscreet manifes- 
tations of it. There are times, however, when no discretion 
can wholly arrest the growth of dangerous lies. A very little 
thing, in a season of excitement, will invest a colourable false- 
hood with the brightest hues of truth, and carry conviction to 
the dazzled understanding of an ignorant people. The sight 
of Lady Canning's carriage at the gates of the Bethune school 
may have added, therefore, Heaven only knows, some fresh 
tints to the picture of a caste-destroying Government, which 
active-minded emissaries of evil were so eager to hang up in 
the public places of the land. 

It was not much; perhaps, indeed, it was simply nothing. 
But just at that time there was a movement, urged 
on by John Grant and Barnes Peacock, in the ^Sorm. 
purest spirit of benevolence, for the rescue of the 
women of India from the degradation in which they were sunk. 
It happened — truly, it happened, for it was wholly an accident 
— that one of the first measures, outwardly, of Lord Canning's 
Government was the formal passing of the bill " to remove all 
legal obstacles to the marriage of Hindu widows," which had 
been introduced, discussed, and virtually carried, during the 
administration of his predecessor.! And this done, there was 
much said and written about the restraints that were to be 
imposed on Hindu polygamy ; and every day the appearance of 
a Draft Act, formidable in the extreme to Brahmanism, was 
looked for, with doubt and aversion, by the old orthodox 
Hindus. For they saw that in this, as in the matter of Re- 
Marriage, some of their more free-thinking countrymen, mostly 
of the younger generation, moved by the teachings of the 
English, or by some hope of gain, were beseeching Government 
to relieve the nation from what they called the reproach of 

* Ante, page 136. t Ante, page 137. 


Kulinism. And, at such a time, Orthodoxy, staggering under 
blows given, and shrinking from blows to come, looked aghast 
even at such small manifestations as the visits of the wife of 
the Governor-General to the Bethune female school. It was 
clear that the English, with their overpowering love of rule, 
were about now to regulate in India, after their own fashion, 
the relations of the two sexes to each other.* 

Lord Canning found this movement afoot ; he in no wise 
instituted it. He found that Lord Dalhousie, after an experience 
of many years, believed these social reforms to be practicable 
and safe ; he found that the ablest member of his Council, who 
had spent all his adult life in India, was with all his heart and 
soul eager for their promotion, and with all the activity of his 
intellect promoting them. As to this movement against Hindu 
polygamy, which was intended to prune down the evil, not 
wholly to eradicate it, there was something, to his European 
understanding, grotesque in the notion of a Christian Legisla- 
ture recognising certain forms of polygamy, and addressing 
itself only to the abuses of the system, as though to Christian 
eyes it were not altogether an abuse. But he could see plainly 
enough that only by admitting such a compromise could the 
good thing be done at all ; and seeing also the necessity of pro- 
ceeding warily with such a delicate operation, he was not 
disposed, in the first instance, to do more than to feel the pulse 
of the people. It would be wise to delay actual legislation 
until public opinion should have been more unmistakably 

* Sir Henry Lawrence clearly discerned the danger of this, and in an 
article in the Calcutta Review, written in 1856, pointed it out : " Of late 
years," he wrote, " the wheels of Government have been moving very fast. 
Many native prejudices have been shocked. Natives are now threatened 
with the abolition of polygamy. It would not be difficult to twist this into 
an attack on Hinduism. At any rate, the. faster the vessel glides, the more 
need of caution, of watching the weather, the rocks, and the fhoals." 

f Lord Canning's opinions are so clearly expressed in the following passage, 
that it is right that his words should be given : " It will no doubt be a little 
Btaggering to find ourselves drawing up a law by which, although a horrible 
abuse of polygamy will be checked, a very liberal amount of it will be 
sanctioned, and which must recognise as justifying it reasons which we believe 
to be no justification whatever. It may be said that we shall only be enforc- 
ing Hindu law, and that we are constantly doing this in many ways which 
abstractedly we should not approve. But I do not know that we have any 
examples of laws of our own making and wording, by which anything so con* 


In the personal action of Lord Canning during this year of 
his novitiate, in the promotion either of the religious conver- 
sion or the social reformation of the people, I can see no traces 
of intemperate zeal. But it is not to be questioned that just- at 
this time there was a combination of many untoward circum- 
stances to strengthen the belief, which had been growing for 
some years, that the English Government were bent upon 
bringing, by fair means or by foul, all the nations of India 
under the single yoke of the White Man's faith. Nor is it less 
certain that at such a time the order for the enlistment of 
Native troops for general service appeared to their unaided 
comprehensions, and was designedly declared by others, to be a 
part of the scheme. There were those, indeed, who saw, or 
professed to see, in this matter, the very root of our cherished 
desire for the conversion of the people. It was said that we 
wished to bring them all to our own faith in order that we 
might find them willing to do our bidding in all parts of the 
world, that they might shrink from no kind of work by sea or 
by land, and even fight our battles in Europe ; for it was plain 
that England had sad lack of fighting-men, or she would not 
have drawn upon India for them during the Crimean war. In 
the art of what is called " putting two and two together," there 
were many intelligent natives by no means deficient, and 
deeper and deeper the great suspicion struck root in the 
popular mind. 

There was another ugly symptom, too, at this time, which 
greatly, in some particular quarters, strengthened this impres- 

trary to our convictions of right and wrong as the taking of a second wife, for 
the reasons allowed by Menu (or at least for eight of them out of ten), is 
declared lawful. This, however, is a matter of appearance and feeling rather 
than of substance. Practically, a monstrous horror would be put an end to, 
and we might keep ourselves straight even in appe.irance by making it very 
clear in the preamble that the act is passed at the desire of the Hindus to 
rescue their own law and custom from a great abuse, and that in no respect 

is it proposed to substitute English law for the laws of that people 

Upon the whole, I come, without hesitation, to the conclusion that the move- 
ment ought to be encouraged to our utmost, and that the existence and strength 
of it ought to be made generally known. The presentation of the petitions to 
the Legislative Council, and their publication, will effect this. How soon the 
introduction of a bill should follow, or how much time should be given to see- 
ing whether serious opposition is evoked, I should like to talk over with you 
some day, as also the scope of the bill." — Lord Canning to Mr. J. F. Grunt, 
June 20, 1856. MS. Correspondence. 


sion of coming danger among the Sipahis of the Bengal Army. 
There were among the European officers of that army many 
earnest-minded, zealous Christians ; men whose hearts were 
wrung by the sight of the vast mass of heathendom around 
them, and who especially deplored the darkness which brooded 
over their companions in arms, their children in the service of 
the State, the Sipahis who looked up to and obeyed them. 
Some, in their conscientious prudence, grieved in silence, and 
rendered unto Caesar the homage of a wise forbearance. Others, 
conscientiously imprudent, believed that it was their duty to 
render unto God the just tribute of an apostolic activity. It 
was the creed of these last that all men were alike to them, as 
having souls to be saved, and that no external circumstances 
affected their onw inalienable right to do their great Master's 
work. If under the pressure of these convictions they had 
changed the red coat for the black, and the sword for the 
shepherd's crook, they would have fairly earned the admiration 
of all good men. But holding fast to the wages of the State, 
they went about with the order-book in one hand and the Bible 
in the other ; and thus they did a great and grievous wrong to 
the Government they professed to serve. To what extent this 
missionary zeal pervaded our English officers, it is not easy, 
with much precision, to declare. But there were some of whose 
missionary zeal there is now no remnant of a doubt — some who 
confessed, nay, openly gloried in their proselytising endeavours. 
One officer, who in 1857 was commandant of a regiment of 
Infantry, said vauntingly in that year : " I beg to state that 
during the last twenty years and upwards I have been in the 
habit of speaking to natives of all classes, Sipahis and others, 
making no distinction, since there is no respect of persons with 
God, on the subject of our religion, in the highways, cities, 
bazaars, and villages — not in the Lines and regimental Bazaars. 
I have done this from a conviction that every converted 
Christian is expected, or rather commanded, by the Scriptures 
to make known the glad tidings of salvation to his lost fellow- 
creatures, Our Saviour having offered Himself up as a sacrifice 
for the sins of the whole world, by which alone salvation can 
be secured. He has directed that this salvation should be 
freely offered to all without exception." Again, in another 
letter, he wrote : "As to the question whether I have en- 
deavoured to convert Sipahis and others to Christianity, 1 
would humbly reply that this has been my object, and I 


conceive is the aim and end of every Christian who speaks the 
word of God to another — merely that the Lord would make 
him the happy instrument of converting his neighbour to God, 
or, in other words, of rescuing him from eternal destruction." 
" On matters connected with religion," he added, " I feel myself 
called upon to act in two capacities — 'to render unto Caesar (or 
the Government) the things that are Caesar's, and to render 
unto God the things that are God's.' Temporal matters and 
spiritual matters are thus kept clearly under their respective 
heads. When speaking, therefore, to a native on the subject of 
religion, I am then acting in the capacity of a Christian soldier 
under the authority of my heavenly superior ; whereas in 
temporal matters 1 act as a general officer, under the authority 
and order of my earthly superior." * Eeading this, one does 
not know whether more to admire the Christian courage of the 
writer or to marvel at the strange moral blindness which would 
not suffer him to see that he could not serve both God and 
Mammon ; that ignoring the known wishes and instructions of 
his temporal master, he could not do his duty to his spiritual 
Lord ; and that if in such a case the two services were antago- 
nistic to each othev, it was his part, as a Christian, to divest 
himself of his purchased allegiance to the less worthy Govern- 
ment, and to serve the Other and the Higher without hindrance 
and without reproach. He was not bound to continue to follow 
such a calling, but whilst following it he was bound to do his 
duty in that state of life to which it had pleased God to call 

Whilst all these disturbing influences were at work, and on 
many accounts most actively in the neighbourhood of Calcutta, 
there came from afar, across the North- Western frontier, a 
current of political agitation, which was met by other streams 
of native origin, tui'gid also with troublous rumours. The 
Persian Government, in best of times given to treachery and 
trickery, even under the fairest outside show of friendship, 
were not likely in such a conjuncture as had arisen at the end 
of 1856 to let slip any available means of damaging an enemy. 
Holding fast to the maxim that " All is fair in war," they 
endeavoured, not unwisely after their kind, to raise manifold 
excitements on our Northern frontier, and somehow to " create 

* Lieutenant-Colonel Wheler to Government, April 15, 1857. — Printed 

VOL. l. 2 .1 


a diversion." There might be some inflammable materials 
strewn about, to which a firebrand skilfully applied, or even a 
spark dropped seemingly haphazard, might produce the desired 
result of combustion. Truly it was worth a trial. In spite of 
Sectarian differences something perhaps might be done by an 
appeal to the common faith of the followers of the Prophet. 
The King of Dehli, though not much as a substantial fact, was 
a great and potential name ; there was some vitality in the 
traditions which were attached to it and the associations by 
which it was surrounded. The Mughul himself was a Sum, 
and the people < f Dehli and its surroundings were mostly Sums, 
and there was doubtless a difficulty in this, but not one that 
might not be surmounted. So Persia sent forth her emissaries 
noiselessly to the gates of the Imperial City, perhaps with no 
very clear conception of what was to be done, but with a 
general commission to do mischief to the English. Muhamma- 
dans of all sects might be invited to lay aside their doctrinal 
differences for a while and to unite against a common enemy. 
There might be great promises of the restoration of a magnifi- 
cent Muhammadan Empire ; and, as the least result of the 
scattering of such seed, the minds of the people might be 
unsettled, and something might come of it in good time. A 
Proclamation was therefore prepared, and in due course it found 
its way to the walls of Dehli, and even displayed itself on the 
Jami Masjid, or Great Mosque. There were stories, too, in cir- 
culation to the effect that the war on the shores of the Persian 
Gulf was going cruelly against us. It was bruited abroad, also, 
that though the English thought that they had secured the 
friendship of Dost Muhammad, the Amir was really the friend 
and vassal of Persia, and that the amity he had outwardly 
evinced towards them was only a pretext for beguiling them to 
surrender Peshawar to the Afghans. 

It was believed in Upper India that this was to be done ; and 
it was reported also about the same time that the English 
intended to compensate themselves for this concession by annex- 
ing the whole of Eajputana. This last story was not one of 
merely native acceptance. It had been set forth prominently 
in some of the Anglo-Indian newspapers, and unhappily there 
had been nothing in our past treatment of the Native States of 
India to cause it to be disbelieved In the North- Western 
regions of India disturbing rumours commonly assume a 
political colour, whilst lower down in Bengal and Bihar, their 


complexion is more frequently of a religious cast. The rumour 
of the coming absorption of these ancient Hindu principalities 
into the great new Empire of the British was well contrived, 
not only to excite the anxieties and resentments of the Rajput 
races, but to generate further political mistrust throughout all 
the remaining states of the country. It was so mischievous a 
report that, when it reached England and obtained further 
currency in our journals, even the Court of Directors of the 
East India Company, the most reticent of all political bodies, 
broke, as I have before said, through their habitual reserve, and 
authoritatively contradicted it. 

Seldom is it that the English themselves discern the effects 
of these disquieting rumours upon the minds of the people. In 
ordinary official language, at this time, all was quiet in Upper 
India. But ever and anon some friendly Muhammadan or 
Hindu spoke of certain significant symptoms of the unrest 
which was not visible to the English eye j* and vague reports 
of some coming danger which no one could define, reached our 
functionaries in the North- West ; and some at last began to 
awaken slowly to the conviction that there were evil influences 
at work to unsettle the national mind. The new year dawned, 

* The old Afghan chief, Jan Fishan Khan, who had followed our fortunes 
ami received a pension from the British Government, told Mr. Greathed, Com- 
missioner at Kanhpiir, in February, 1857, that these rumours had produced a 
very bad effect. A private note from that officer to Mr. Colvin, the Lieutenant- 
Governor, is worthy of citation in this place: "Jan Fishan Khan paid me a 
visit a few days ago with the special object of communicating his apprehen- 
sions on the present state of political affairs in India. He brought several 
members of his family, evidently to be witnesses of the interview, and prefaced 
his address with a recitation of the fruitless warnings he had given Sir Wm. 
MacNaghten of the course affairs were taking in Kabul. His fears for our 
safety rested on his belief that we intended to give up Peshawar to Dost 
Muhammad and to annex Rajputana. He said our maxim should be ' Pre- 
vention better than cure,' and that, with enemies at the gate, we should take 
care to keep the inmates of the house our friends. He appeared quite 
relieved to receive my assurance that there was no probability of either of the 
apprehended events coming to pass. It would hardly have been worth while 
to mention this incident, but that we so rarely receive any indication of the 
political gossip of the day among the native community; and we may feel 
quite sure that Jan Fishan was actuated by fears for our welfare, and not by 
hopes of our overthrow, when he gave credence to the reports. I am afraid 
tie frequent reports of annexation in Rajputana have agitated the public 
mind and bred distrust among the Rajputs. It is a pity so many years have 
elapsed since a Governor-General had an opportunity of personally assuring 
them of their political safety." 

2 a 2 


and there was something suggestive in the number of the year. 
In 1757 the English had established their dominion in India by 
the conquest of Bengal. For a hundred years they had now, 
by the progressive action of continued encroachments, been 
spreading their paramount rule over the whole country ; and 
there were prophecies, said to be of ancient date, which foretold 
the downfall of the English power at the end of this century of 
supremacy. Ever in times of popular excitement are strange 
prophecies afloat in the social atmosphere. Whether they are 
revivals of old predictions, or new inventions designed to meet 
the requirements of the moment, it is often difficult even to 
conjecture.* But whether old or new, whether uttered in good 
faith or fraudulently manufactured, they seldom failed to make 
an impression on the credulous minds of the people. Coming 
upon them not as the giowth of human intelligence, but as the 
mysterious revelations of an unseen power, they excited hopes 
and aspirations, perhaps more vital and cogent from their very 
vagueness. The religious element mingled largely with the 
political, and the aliment which nourished the fanaticism of 
believers fed also their ambition and their cupidity. In the 
particular prophecy of which men at this time were talking 
there was at least something tangible, for it was a fact that the 
first century of British rule was fast coming to an end. This 
in itself was sufficient to administer largely to the superstition 
and credulity of the people, and it was certain, too, that the 
prediction based upon it was not now heard for the tirst time. 
Lightly heeded, when long years were to intervene before its 
possible realisation, now that the date of the prediction had 
arrived, it took solemn and significant shape in the memories of 
men, and the very excitement that it engendered helped in time 
to bring about its fulfilment.! 

* It is certain, however, that the most preposterous claims to antiquity are 
sometimes advanced on their behalf. For example, it was gravely stated in a 
leading Calcutta journal, that a prophecy had been discovered, a thousand 
years old, pointing to the downfall of the English at this time ; in other words, 
that our destruction had been predicted many hundred years before we had 
ever been seen in the country, or ever heard of by the people. 

f Whether the prophecy was of Hindu or Muhamrnadan origin is still a 
moot question. The following, from a memorandum furnished to me by Mr. 
E. A. Reade, throws some light on the subject, and will be read with no little 
interest : — " I do not think I ever met one man in a hundred that did not give 
the Muhammadans credit for this prediction. I fully believe that the notion 


of change after a century of tenure was general, and I can testify with others 
to have heard of the prediction at least a quarter of a century previously. But 
call it a prediction or superstition, the credit of it must, I think, be giver to 
the Hindus. If we take the Hejra calendar, 1757 a.d. corresponds with 1171 
Hejra; 1857 a.d. with 1274 hejra. Whereas by the luni-solar year of the 
Sumbut, 1757 a.d, is 1814 Surahut, and 1857 a.d. 1914 Sumbut. 1 remember 
on my remarking to a chowvey Brahman, whose loyalty was conspicuous 
throughout the period (he was afterwards killed inaction with the rebels), soon 
after the battle of Oct. 11, 1857, that the Sumbut 1915 was passing away with- 
out the fulfilment of the centenary prophecy, that he replied with some 
anxiety, there was yet a remainder of the year, i.e., till March 20, 1858 ; and 
before "that time, in 1832, the Subadir, a Tawari, of a cavalry regiment, in his 
farewell to a brother of mine leaving the service in that year, coolly telling 
him that in another twenty-five years the Company's Raj would be at an end, 
and the Hindu Raj restored. It eeitainly does not much matter, but I think 
it is the safe view to accept the tradition as of Hindu rather than Muham- 
maian origin." 



The new year dawned upon India with a fair promise of 
continued tranquillity. But it was only a few 
uary ' weeks old when the storm began to arise. It is 

in the cold weather that the British officer sees most of the 
Sipahi, and best understands his temper. Company 
T rfsing rm drills, and regimental parades, arid brigade exercises, 
are continually bringing him face to face with his 
men, and he roams about Cantonments as he cannot roam in 
the midst of the summer heats and autumnal deluges. But this 
winter of 1856-57 had nearly passed away, and he had seen no 
indications of anything to disturb his settled faith in the 
fidelity of the native soldier. There was outward serenity 
everywhere, and apparent cheerfulness and content, when 
suddenly a cloud arose in an unexpected quarter ; and a tre- 
mendous danger, dimly seen at first, began to expand into 
gigantic proportions. 

For years the enemies of the English, all who had been 
alarmed by our encroachments, all who had suffered by our 
usurpations, all who had been shorn by our intervention of 
privileges and perquisites which they had once enjoyed, and 
who saw before them a still deeper degradation and a more 
absolute ruin, had been seeking just such an opportunity as 
now lose up suddenly before them. They had looked for it in 
one direction ; they had looked for it in another ; and more 
than once they thought that they had found it. They thought 
that they had found something, of which advantage might be 
taken to persuade the Native soldiery that their Christian 
masters purposed to defile their caste and to destroy their 
religion. But the false steps, which we had hitherto taken, 
had not been false enough to serve the purposes of those who 
had sought to destroy the British Government by means of a 
general revolt of the Native Army. For half a century there 


had been nothing of a sufficiently palpable and comprehensive 
character to alarm the whole Sipahi Army, Muhammadan and 
Hindu. But now, suddenly, a story of most terrific import 
found its way into circulation. It was stated that Government 
had manufactured cartridges, greased with animal fat, for the 
use of the Native Army ; and the statement was not a lie. 

The old infantry musket, the venerable Brown Bess of the 
British soldier, had been condemned as a relic 
of barbarism, and it was wisely determined, in the 
Indian as in the English Army, to supersede it by the issue of 
an improved description of fire-arm, with grooved bores, after 
the fashion of a rifle. As a ball from these new rifled muskets 
reached the enemy at a much greater distance than the ammu- 
nition of the old weapon, the Sipahi rejoiced in the advantage 
which would thus be conferred upon him in battle, and lauded the 
Government for what he regarded as a sign both of the wisdom 
of his rulers and of their solicitude for his welfare. And when 
it was learnt that depots had been established at three great 
military stations for the instruction of the Sipahi in the use of 
the new weapon, there was great talk in the Lines about the 
wonderful European musket that was to keep all comers at a 
distance. But, unhappily, these rifled barrels could not be 
loaded without the lubrication of the cartridge. And the 
voice of joy and praise was suddenly changed into a wild cry 
of grief and despair when it was bruited abroad that the 
cartridge, the end of which was to be bitten off by the Sipahi, 
was greased with the fat of the detested swine of the Muham- 
madan, or the venerated cow of the Hindu. 

How the truth first transpired has been often told. Eight 
miles from Calcutta lies the military station of 
Damdamah. For many years it had been the gre^caltridges. 
head-quarters of the Bengal Artillery. There all 
the many distinguished officers of that distinguished corps had 
learnt the rudiments of their profession, and many had spent 
there the happiest years of their lives. But it was suddenly 
discovered that it was not suited to the purpose for which it 
was designed. The head-quarters of the Artillery were removed 
to Mirath. The red coat displaced the blue. The barracks and 
the mess-house, and the officer's bungalows, were given up to 
other occupants ; and buildings, which from their very birth 
had held nothing but the appliances of ordnance, were de- 
graded into manufactories and storehouses of small-arm 


ammunition. Thus, by a mutation of fortune, when the Enfield 
Eifle began to supersede Brown Bess, Damdamah became one of 
three Cantonments at which the Government established 
Schools of Musketry for instruction in the use of the improved 
rifled weapon. Now, it happened that, one day in January, a 
low-caste Lascar, or magazine-man, meeting a high-caste 
Sipahi in the Cantonment, asked him for a drink of water from 
his lotah. The Brahman at once replied with an objection on 
the score of caste, and was tauntingly told that caste was 
nothing, that high-caste and low-caste would soon be all the 
same, as cartridges smeared with beef- fat and hog's-lard were 
being made for the Sipahis at the depots, and would soon be in 
general use throughout the army.* 

The Brahman carried this story to his comrades, and it was 
soon known to every Sipahi at the depot. A shudder ran 
through the Lines. Each man to whom the story was told 
caught the great fear from his neighbour, and trembled at the 
thought of the pollution that lay before him. The contamina- 
tion was to be brought to his very lips ; it was not merely to 
be touched, it was to be eaten and absorbed into his very being. 
It was so terrible a thing, that, if the most malignant enemies 
of the British Government had sat in conclave for years, and 
brought an excess of devilish ingenuity to bear upon the 
invention of a scheme framed with the design of alarming the 
Sipahi mind from one end of India to the other, they could not 
have devised a lie better suited to the purpose. But now the 
English themselves had placed in the hands of their enemies, 
not a fiction, but a fact of tremendous significance, to be turned 
against them as a deadly instrument of destruction. It was 
the very thing that had been so long sought, and up to this 
time sought in vain. It required no explanation. It needed 
no ingenious gloss to make the full force of the thing itself 
patent to the multitude. It was not a suggestion, an inference, 
a probability ; but a demonstrative fact, so complete in its 
naked truth, that no exaggeration could have helped it. Like 
the case of the leathern head-dresses, which had convulsed 
Southern India half a century before, it appealed to the 
strongest feelings both of the Mahammadan and the Hindu ; 

* No greased cartridges had been issued at Damdamah. The Sipahis in 
the mubketry school there were only in the rudiments of their rifle-education, 
und hud not come yet to need the application of the grease. 


but though similar in kind, it was incomparably more offensive 
in degree ; more insulting, more appalling, more disgusting. 

We know so little of Native Indian society beyond its merest 
externals, the colour of the people's skins, the form of their 
garments, the outer aspects of their houses, that History, whilst 
it states broad results, can often only surmise causes. But 
there are some surmises which have little less than the force of 
gospel. We feel what we cannot see, and have faith in what 
we cannot prove. It is a fact, that there is a certain description 
of news, which travels in India, from one station to another, 
with a rapidity almost electric. Before the days of the 
" lightning post," there was sometimes intelligence in the 
Bazaars of the Native dealers and the Lines of the Native 
soldiers, especially if the news imported something disastrous 
to the British, days before it reached, in any official shape, the 
high functionaries of Government.* We cannot trace the progress 
of these evil-tidings. The Natives of India have an expressive 
saying, that "it is in the air." It often happened that an 
uneasy feeling — an impression that something had happened, 
though they "could not discern the shape thereof" — pervaded 
men's minds, in obscure anticipation of the news that was 
travelling towards them in all its tangible proportions. All 
along the line of road, from town to town, from village to 
village, were thousands to whom the feet of those who brought 
the ^lad tidings were beautiful and welcome. The British 
Magistrate, returning from his evening ride, was perhaps met on 
the road near the Bazaar by a venerable Native on an ambling 
pony — a Native respectable of aspect, with white beard and whiter 
garments, who salaamed to the English gentleman as he passed, 
and went on his way freighted with intelligence refreshing to 
the souls of those to whom it was to be communicated, to be 
used with judgment and sent on with despatch. This was but 
one of many costumes worn by the messenger of evil. In 
whatsoever shape he passed, there was nothing outwardly to 
distinguish him. Next morning there was a sensation in the 

* The news of the first outbreak and massacre at Kabul, in 1841, and also 
of the subsequent destruction of the British Array in the Pass, reached 
Calcutta through the Bazuars of Mirath and Kannil some days before they 
found their way to Government House from any official quarter ; and the 
mutiny at Barrackpur was known by the Sipsihis of the British force 
proceeding to Burniah before it reached the military and political chiefs by 
special express. 


Bazaar, and a vague excitement in the Sipahis' Lines. But when 
rumours of disaster reached the houses of the chief English 
officers, they were commonly discredited. Their own letters 
were silent on the subject. It was not likely to be true, they 
said, as they had heard nothing about it. But it was true ; and 
the news had travelled another hundred miles whilst the white 
gentlemen, with bland scepticism, were shaking their heads 
over the lies of the Bazaar. 

It is difficult, in most cases, to surmise the agency to whose 
interested efforts is to be attributed this rapid circulation of 
evil tidings. But when the fact of the greased cartridges 
became known, there were two great motive powers, close at 
hand, to give an immediate impulse to the promulgation of the 
story. The political and the religious animosities, excited by 
the recent measures of the English, were lying in wait for an 
opportunity to vent themselves in action. It happened at this 
time, that the enmities which we had most recently provoked 
had their head-quarters in Calcutta. It happened, also that 
these enmities had their root partly in Hinduism, partly in 
Muhammaclanism. There was the great Brahmanical Insti- 
tution, the Dharma Sobha of Calcutta, whose special function 
it was to preserve Hinduism pure and simple in all its ancestral 
integrity, and, therefore, to resist the invasions and encroach- 
ments of the English, by which it was continually threatened. 
There were bygone injuries to revenge, and there were coming 
dangers to repel. On the other side, there was the deposed 
kingship of Oudh, with all its perilous surroundings. Sunk 
in slothfulness and self-indulgence, with little real care for 
anything beyond the enjoyment of the moment, Wajid Ali 
himself may have neither done nor suggested anything, in this 
crisis, to turn to hostile account the fact of the greased car- 
tridges. But there were those about him with keener eyes, 
and stronger wills, and more resolute activities, who were not 
likely to suffer such an opportunity to escape. It needed no 
such special agencies to propagate a story, which would have 
travelled, in ordinary course of accidental tale-bearing, to the 
different stations in the neighbourhood of the capital. But it was 
expedient in the eyes of our enemies that it should at once be 
invested with all its terrors, and the desired effect wrought 
upon the Sipahi's mind, before any one could be induced, by 
timely official explanation, to believe that the outrage was an 
accident, an oversight, a mistake. So, from the beginning, the 


story went forth, that the English, in prosecution of a long 
cherished design, and under instructions from the Queen in 
Council, had greased the Sipahis' cartridges with the fat of 
pigs and cows, for the express purpose of defiling both 
Muhammad ans and Hindus. 

On the banks of the Hugli Eiver, sixteen miles from Calcutta 
by land, is the great military station of Barrackpur. It was the 
head-quarters of the Presidency division of the Army. There 
was assembled the largest body of Native troops cantoned in 
that part of India. There, on the green slopes of the river, 
stood, in a well-wooded park, the country-seat of the Governor- 
General. Both in its social and its military aspects it was the 
foremost Cantonment of Bengal. As the sun declined on the 
opposite bank, burnishing the stream with gold, and throwing 
into dark relief the heavy masses of the native boats, the park 
roads were alive with the equipages of the English residents. 
There visitors from Calcutta, escaping for a while from the 
white glare and dust- laden atmosphere of the metropolis, con- 
sorted with the families of the military officers ; and the 
neighbouring villas of Titagarh sent forth their retired inmates 
to join the throng of " eaters of the evening air." There the 
young bride, for it is a rare place for honeymoons, emerging 
from her seclusion, often looked out upon the world for the 
first time in her new state. There many a young ensign, 
scarcely less hopeful and less exultant, wore for the first time 
the bridal garments of his profession, and backed the capering 
Arab that had consumed a large part of his worldly wealth. 
It was a pleasant, a gay, a hospitable station ; and there was 
not in all India a Cantonment so largely known and frequented 
by the English. There was scarcely an officer of the Bengal 
Army to whom the name of Barrackpur did not suggest some 
familiar associations, whilst to numbers of the non-military 
classes, whose occupations tied them to the capital, it was for 
long years, perhaps throughout the whole of their money- 
getting career, the extreme point to which their travels 

At Barrackpur, in the early part of 1857, were stationed 
four Native Infantry regiments. There were the 2nd 
Grenadiers* and the 43rd, two of the "beautiful regiments" 
which had helped General Nott to hold Kandahar against all 

* A wing of this regiment was at Rdniganj. 


comers, and had afterwards gained new laurels in desperate 
conflict with the Marathas and Sikhs. There was the 34th, an 
ill-omened number, for a few years before it had been struck 
out of the Army List for mutiny,* and a new regiment had 
been raised to fill the dishonourable gap. There also was the 
70th, which had rendered good service in the second Sikh war. 
Three of these regiments had been recently stationed in the 
Panjab, or on its frontier, and the 34th had just come down 
from Lakhnao. This last regiment was commanded by Colonel 
S. G. Wheler, who had but recently been posted to it from 
another corps ; the 43rd was under Colonel J. D. Kennedy, 
whi'se tenure of command had also been brief; whilst the 70th 
and the wing of the 2nd were commanded by officers who had 
graduated in those regiments, and were therefore well known 
to the men. The station was commanded by Brigadier Charles 
Grant; and the General of Division was that brave soldier and 
distinguished officer, John Hearsey, of whose services I have 
already spoken in a previous chapter of this work. | 

On the 28th of January, Hearsey reported officially to the 
Adjutant-General's office that an ill-feeling was "said to subsist 
in the minds of the Sipahis of the regiments at Barrackpur." 
" A report," he said, " has been spread by some designing 
persons, most likely Brahmans, or agents of the religious 
Hindu party in Calcutta (I believe it is called the ' Dharma 
Sobha'), that the Sipahis are to be forced to embrace the 
Christian faith." " Perhaps," he added, " those Hindus who 
are opposed to the marriage of widows in Calcutta J are using 
underhand means to thwart Government in abolishing the 
restraints lately removed by law for the marriage of widows, 
and conceive if they can make a party of the ignorant classes 
in the ranks of the army believe their religion or religious 
prejudices are eventually to be abolished by force, and by force 
they are all to be made Christians, and thus, by shaking their 
faith in Government, lose the confidence of their officers by 
inducing Sipahis to commit offences (such as incendiarism), so 
difficult to put a stop to or prove, they will gain their object." 
The story of the greased cartridges was by this time in every 

* Ante, p. 196. 

f See Book II. — Account of the Mutiny in the Panjab. 
% The General, doubtless, meant to say, " those Hindus in Calcutta who 
are opposed to the marriage of widows.'' 


mouth. There was not a Sipahi in the Lines of Barrackpur who 
was not familiar with it. There were few who did not believe 
that it was a deliberate plot, on the part of the English, designed 
to break down the caste of the Native soldier. And many were 
persuaded that there was an ultimate design to bring all men, 
along a common road of pollution, to the Tinclean faith of the 
beef-devouring, swine-eating Faringhi, who had conquered 
their country and now yearned to extirpate the creeds of their 

There was a time, perhaps, when the Sipahi would have 
carried the story to his commanding officer, and sought an 
explanation of it. Such confidences had ceased to be a part of 
the relations between them. But it was not the less manifest 
that the Native soldiery at Barrackpur were boiling over with 
bitter discontent. They had accepted not only the fact as it 
came to them from Damdaraah, but the accompanying lies 
which had been launched from Calcutta ; and they soon began, 
after the fashion of their kind, to make a public display of 
their wrath. It is their wont in such cases to symbolise the 
inner fires that are consuming them by acts of material incen- 
diarism. No sooner is the Sipahi troubled in his mind, and 
bent on resistance, than he begins covertly in the night to set 
fire to some of the public buildings of the place. Whether 
this is an ebullition of childish anger — an outburst of irrepressi- 
ble feeling in men not yet ripe for more reasonable action ; or 
whether it be intended as a signal, whether the fires are beacon- 
fires lit up to warn others to be stirring, they are seldom or 
never wanting in such conjunctures as this. A few days after 
the story of the greased cartridges first transpired at Damdamah, 
the telegraph station at Barrackpur was burnt down. Then, 
night after night, followed other fires. Burning arrows were 
shot into the thatched roofs of officers' bungalows. It was a 
trick learnt from the Santals, among whom the 2nd Grenadiers 
had served ; and the fact that similar fires, brought about by 
the same means, were breaking out at Baniganj, more than a 
hundred miles away, stamped their complicity in the crime, 
for one wing of the regiment was stationed there. These 
incendiary fires were soon followed by nocturnal meetings. 
Men met each other with muffled faces, and discussed, in 
excited language, the intolerable outrage which the British 
Government had deliberately committed upon them. It is 
probable that they were not all Sipabis who attended these 


nightly musters. It is probable that they were not all Sipahis 
who signed the letters that went forth from the post-offices of 
Calcutta and Barrackpur, calling upon the soldiery at all the 
principal stations of the Bengal Army to resist the sacrilegious 
encroachments of the English. All that is clearly known is, 
that the meetings were held, that the letters were sent; and 
Cantonment after Cantonment fermented with the story of the 
greased cartridges. 

A hundred miles from Barrackpur, to the northward, on the 
banks of the river, lies the military station of 
T Barb&m n flr at Barhampur. It was one well suited, by its position, 
for the development of the desired results. For only 
a few miles beyond it lay the city of Murshidabad, the home 
of the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, the representative of the 
line of Subahdars, who, under the Imperial Government, 
had once ruled that great province. It was known that the 
Nawab, who, though stripped of his ancestral power, lived in a 
palace with great wealth and titular dignity and the sur- 
roundings of a Court, was rankling under a sense of indignities 
put upon him by the British Government, and that there were 
thousands in the city who would have risen at the signal of one 
who, weak himself, was yet strong in the prestige of a great 
name. At Barhampiir, there were no European troops; there 
were none anywhere near to it. A regiment of Native Infantry, 
the 19th, was stationed there, with a corps of Irregular Cavalry, 
and a battery of post guns manned by native gunners. It was 
not difficult to see that if these troops were to rise against their 
English officers, and the people of Murshidabad were to fra- 
ternise with them, in the name of the Nawab, all Bengal would 
soon be in a blaze. No thoughts of this kind disturbed the 
minds of our people, but the truth was very patent to the 
understandings of their enemies. 

It happened, too, unfortunately at this time, that the routine- 
action of the British Government favoured the growth of the 
evil ; for when the excitement was great at Barrackpur, de- 
tachments went forth on duty from the most disaffected 
regiments of all to spread by personal intercourse the great 
contagion of alarm. Firstly, a guard from the 34th went 
upwards in charge of stud-horses; and then, a week later, 
another detachment from this regiment marched in the same 
direction with a party of European convalescents. At Barham- 
piir they were to be relieved by men from the regiment there, 

1857.] THE 34TH N. I. AT BARHAMPUR, 367 

and then to return to their own head -quarters ; so that they 
had an opportunity of communicating all that was going on at 
Barrackpiir to their comrades of the 19th, of learning their 
sentiments and designs, and carrying back to their own station, 
far more clearly and unmistakably than could any correspon- 
dence by letter, tidings of the state of feeling among the troops 
at Barhampur, and the extent to which they were prepared to 
resist the outrage of the greased cartridges. 

When the men of the 34th reached Barhampur, their com- 
rades of the 19th received them open-armed and open-mouthed. 
They were old associates, for not long before they had been 
stationed together at Lakhnao; and now the 19th asked eagerly 
what strange story was this that they had heard from Barrack- 
pur about the greasing of the cartridges. It was not then a 
new story in the Lines of Barhampur, but was already two 
weeks old.* It bad been carried as quickly as the post or 
special messenger could carry it from the one station to the 
other, and it was soon afterwards in every man's mouth. But 
it had wrought no immediate effect upon the outer bearing of 
the Sipahis of the 19th. The story was carried to the com- 
manding officer, who gave an assuring reply, saying that, if 
there were any doubts in their minds, the men might see for 
themselves the grease applied to their cartridges ; and so for a 
while the excitement was allayed. But when the men of the 
34th went up from Barrackpur and spoke of the feeling there 
— spoke of the general belief among the Sipahis at the Pre- 
sidency that the Government deliberately designed to defile 
them, and of the intended resistance to this foul and fraudulent 
outrage — the 19th listened to them as to men speaking with 
high authority, for they came from the very seat of Govern- 
ment, and were not likely to err. So they took in the story as 
it was told to them with a comprehensive faith, and were soon 
in that state of excitement and alarm which is so often the 
prelude of dangerous revolt. 

* The first detachment of the 34th reached Barhampur on the 18th of 
February, the second on the 25th. Colonel Mitchell, writing on February 16, 
Siys, that about a fortnight before a Brahman Pay-Havildar had asked him, 
" What is this story that everybody is talking about, that Government intend 
to make the Native Army use cow's fat and pig's fat with the ammunition 
tor their new rifles?" It must have reached Barhampur, therefore, either 
by the post or by Kasid (messenger) at the very beginning of the month of 


On the day after the arrival of the detachment from Barrack- 
pur, a parade of the 19th was ordered for the 
following morning. It was an ordinary parade, 
" accidental," meaning nothing. But it was a parade " with 
blank ammunition," and a meaning was found. There were 
in the morning no apparent signs of disaffection, hut, hefore 
the evening had passed away, Adjutant M' Andrew cariied 
to the quarters of Colonel Mitchell a disquieting report, to 
the effect that there was great excitement in the Lines ; 
that when their percussion-caps had been served out to them 
for the morning's parade, the men had refused to take them, 
and that they had given as the ground of their refusal 
the strong suspicion they entertained that the cartridges 
had been defiled. It was the custom not to distribute the 
cartridges among the men before the morning of the parade ; 
but the general supply for the regiment had been served out 
from the magazine, and, before being stored aAvay for the night, 
had been seen by some of the Sipahis of the corps. Now, it 
happened that the paper of which the cartridges were made 
was, to the outward eye, of two different kinds, and, as the men 
had heard that fresh supplies of ammunition had been received 
from Calcutta in the course of the month, they leapt at once to 
the conviction that new cartridges of the dreaded kind had 
been purposely mixed up with the old, and the panic that had 
been growing upon them culminated in this belief.* 

Upon receipt of this intelligence, Mitchell at once started 
for the Lines, and summoned his native officers to meet him in 
the front of the Quarter-Guard. In such a conjuncture, a calm 
but resolute demeanour, a few words of kindly explanation and 
of solemn warning, as from one not speaking for himself but for 
a benignant and a powerful Government, might have done 
much to convince those Native officers, and through them the 
Sipahis of the regiment, that they had laid hold of a dangerous 
delusion. But Mitchell spoke as one under the excitement of 
anger, and he threatened rather than he warned. He said that 
the cartridges had been made up, a year before, by the regi- 
ment that had preceded them in cantonments, that there was 
no reason for their alarm, and that if, after this explanation, 
they should refuse tc take their ammunition, the regiment 

* The fact, however, was, that there were no cartridges among the stores 
recently received from Calcutta, which consisted mainly of powder in barrels. 

1857.1 MUTINY OF THE 19TH. 369 

would be sent to Burmah or to China, where the men would die,* 
and that the severest punishment would overtake every man 
known to have actively resisted the orders of his Government. 
So the Native officers went their way, with no new confidence 
derived from the words that had fallen from their Colonel, 
but, on the other hand, strengthened in all their old convictions 
of imminent danger to their caste and their religion. He would 
not have spoken so angrily, they argued, if mischief had not 
been intended. They looked upon the irritation he displayed 
as a proof that his sinister designs had been inopportunely 
discovered. f 

Such was the logic of their fears. Colonel Mitchell went to 
his home ; but as he drove thither through the darkness of the 
night, with the Adjutant beside him, he felt that there was 
danger in the air, and that something must be done to meet it. 
But what could be done? There were no white troops at 
Barhampiir, and the 19th Eegiment composed the bulk of the 
black soldiery. But there were a regiment of Irregular Cavalry 
and a detachment of Native Ai'tillery, with guns, posted at the 
station, and, as these dwelt apart from the Infantry, they might 
not be tainted by the same disease. Weaker in numbers, as 
compared with the Infantry, they had a countervailing strength 
in their guns and horses. A few rounds of grape, and a charge 
of Cavalry with drawn sabres, might destroy a regiment of 
Foot beyond all further hope of resistance. Mitchell might 
not have thought that things would come to this pass; it 

* After reading all the evidence that I can find throwing light upon this 
scene at the Quarter-Guard, I am forced upon the conviction that Colonel 
Mitchell did use some such words as these. Lord Canning was, however, 
under an erroneous impression when he wrote in his minute of May 13, ''The 
inconsiderate threat, that if the men did not receive their cartridges he would 
take them to Burmah or to China, where they would die, which is not denied 
by Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell," &c, &c. ; for Mitchell had denied it on the 
18th of March, saying, " I certainly did not make use of the expression above 
quoted." — Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell to Assistant- Adjutant-General. Pub- 
lished Papers. [I was in Calcutta at the time, and in constant communication 
with officers of the 19th, aud I am confident that Colonel Mitchell only tolc" 
the truth when he said that he did not use the words quoted. Mitchell 
simply told the men that those who did not obey his orders would be brought 
to a court-martial. He was a good officer, and was treated as a scapegoat. — 
G. B. M.] 

t "He gave this order so angrily, that we were convinced that the 
cartridges were greased, otherwise he would not have spoken so." — Petition 
of the Native Officers of the 19th Regiment. Published Papers. 

VOL. I. 2 B 


was his object to overawe, and, by overawing, to prevent the 
crisis. But, whatsoever his thoughts at that time, he issued 
his orders that the Cavalry and Artillery should be prepared to 
attend the morning parade. 

In India, men retire early to their rest, for they seldom out- 
sleep the dawn. It was little past the hour of ten, therefore, 
when Mitchell, just having betaken himself to his couch, heavy 
with thought of the morrow's work, was startled by the sound 
of a strange commotion from the direction of the Lines. There 
was a beating of drums, and there were shoutings from many 
voices, and a confused uproar, the meaning of which it was 
impossible to misinterpret. Plainly the Regiment had risen. 
Ever since the Colonel's interview with the Native officers the 
excitement had increased. It had transpired that the Cavalry 
and Artillery had been ordered out. Suspicion of foul play 
then grew into assured convictions, and the Regiment felt, to 
a man, that the greased cartridges were to be forced upon them 
at the muzzle of our guns. A great panic had taken hold of 
them, and it required but little to rouse them, in an impulse 
of self-preservation, to resist the premeditated outrage. How 
the signal was first given is not clear ; it seldom is clear in 
such cases. A very little would have done it. There was a 
common feeling of some great danger, approaching through the 
darkness of the night. Some raised a cry of " Fire ! " ; some, 
again, said that the Cavalry were galloping down upon them ; 
others thought that they heard in the distance the clatter of 
the Artillery gun- wheels. Then some one sounded the alarm, 
and there was a general rush to the bells-of-arms. Men seized 
their muskets, took forcible possession of the dreaded ammuni- 
tion stored for the morning parade, and loaded their pieces in 
a bewilderment of uncertainty and fear. 

Mitchell knew that the Regiment had risen, but he did not 
know that it was Terror, rather than Revolt, that stirred them ; 
and so, hastily dressing himself, he hurried off to bring down 
upon his men the very danger the premature fear of which had 
generated all this excitement in the Lines. Before any report 
of the tumult had reached him from European or from Native 
officers, he had made his way to the quarters of the Cavalry 
Commandant, and ordered him at once to have his troops in the 
saddle. Then like orders were given for the Artillery guns, 
with all serviceable ammunition, to be brought down to the 
Infantry Lines. There was a considerable space to be traversed, 


and the extreme darkness of the night rendered the service 
difficult. But, after a while, the 19th heard the diu of the 
approaching danger, and this time with the fleshly ear ; saw 
the light of gleaming torches which was guiding it on to their 
destruction. But they stood there not ripe for action, irresolute, 
panic-struck, as men waiting their doom. There were many 
loaded muskets in their hands, but not one was fired. 

It was past midnight when Mitchell, having gathered his 
European officers from their beds, came down with the guns to 
the parade-ground, where Alexander and his troopers had 
already arrived. The Infantry, in undress, but armed and 
belted, were drawn up in line, vaguely expectant of something 
to come, but in no mood to provoke instant collision. A very 
little, at such a time, would have precipitated it, for the excite- 
ment of fear, in such circumstances, is more to be dreaded than 
the bitterest resentments, and, even if the European officers 
had then moved forward in a body, the movement would have 
been exaggerated by the darkness into a hostile advance, 
and the 19th, under an impulse of self-preservation, would 
have fired upon them. What Mitchell did, therefore, in the 
unfortunate conjuncture that had arisen, was the best thing 
that could be done. He loaded the guns, closed the Cavalry 
upon them, and sent the Adjutant forward with instructions to 
have the call sounded for an assembly of the Native officers. 
The summons was obeyed. Again the Native officers stood 
before their Colonel, and again there fell from his lips words 
that sounded in their ears as words of anger. What those 
words were, it is now impossible to record with any certainty of 
their truth. The Native officers believed that he said he would 
blow every mutineer from a gun, although he should die for it 
himself. They besought him not to be angry and violent, and 
urged that the men were ignorant and suspicious ; that they 
were impelled only by their fears ; that, believing the Cavalry 
and Artillery had been brought down to destroy them, they 
were wild with excitement and incapable of reasoning, but that, 
if the Colonel would send back the troopers and the guns, the 
men of the Regiment would soon lay down their arms and 
return to their duty. 

Then a great difficulty arose, which, in the darkness and 
confusion of that February night, might have perplexed a 
calmer brain than Mitchell's. That the 19th were rather 
panic-struck than mutinous, was certain. It was plain, too, 

2 b 2 


that a mistake had been committed in bringing down the 
Cavalry and guns to overawe the Eegiment. It would have 
been wiser, in the first instance, to have used them only for 
protective purposes, holding them in readiness the while to act 
on the offensive in case of necessity. But, as they had been 
brought down to the Infantry Lines, it was difficult to with- 
draw them, until the 19th had given in their submission. 
The men, however, required, as a condition of their submission, 
that which Mitchell naturally desired should be regarded only 
as a consequence of it. Clinging fast to the belief that violence 
was intended, they would not have obeyed the order to lay 
down their arms ; and Mitchell could not be certain that the 
Native troopers and gunners would fall upon their comrades 
at the word of command. There was a dilemma, indeed, from 
which it was difficult, if not impossible, to escape with safety 
and with honour. As men are wont to do in such extremities, 
he caught at a compromise. He would withdraw the guns 
and the Cavalry, he said, but he would hold a general parade 
in the morning ; he commanded the station, and could order 
out all branches of the service. But the Native officers besought 
him not to do this, for the Sipahis, in such a case, would believe 
only that the violence intended to be done upon them was 
deferred for a few hours. So he consented at last to what they 
asked ; the Cavalry and the guns were withdrawn, and the 
general parade for the morning was countermanded. Whether 
the Sipahis of the 19th had shown signs of penitence before 
this concession was made, and had or had not begun to lay 
down their arms, is a point of history enveloped in doubt. 
But it would seem that the Native officers told Colonel Mitchell 
that the men were lodging their arms, and that he trusted to 
their honour. The real signal for their submission was the 
retrocession of the torches. When the Sipahis saw the lights 
disappearing from the parade-ground, they knew that they 
were safe. 

On the following morning the Eegiment fell in, for parade, 
without a symptom of insubordination. The excitement of the 
hour had expended itself; and they looked back upon their 
conduct with regret, and looked forward to its consequences 
with alarm. Though moved by nothing worse than idle fear, 
they had rebelled against their officers and the State. Assured 
of their contrition, and believing in their fidelity, the former 
might perhaps have forgiven them ; but it was not probable 


that the State would forgive. A Court of Inquiry was assembled, 
and during many days the evidence of European and Native 
officers was taken respecting the circumstances and causes of 
the outbreak; but the men, though clearly demonstrating 
their apprehensions by sleeping round the bells-of-arms, con- 
tinued to discharge their duties without any new ebullitions ; 
and there was no appearance of any hostile combinations, by 
which the mutiny of a regiment might have been converted 
into the rebellion of a province. Under the guidance of 
Colonel George Macgregor, the Nawab Nazim of Bengal threw 
the weight of his influence into the scales on the side of order 
and peace; and whatsoever might have been stirring in the 
hearts of the Musrxlman population of Murshidabad, in the 
absence of any signal from their chief, they remained outwardly 



In all countries, and under all forms of government, the dangers 
which threaten the State, starting in the darkness, make head- 
way towards success before they are clearly discerned by the 
rulers of the land. Often so much of time and space is gained, 
that the slow and complex action of authority cannot overtake 
the mischief and intercept its further progress. The peculiari- 
ties of our Anglo-Indian Empire converted a probability into a 
certainty. Differences of race, differences of language, differ- 
ences of religion, differences of customs, all indeed that could 
make a great antagonism of sympathies and of interests, severed 
the rulers and the ruled as with a veil of ignorance and obscurity. 
We could not see or hear with our own senses what was going 
on, and there was seldom any one to tell us. When by some 
accident the truth at last transpired, generally in some of the 
lower strata of the official soil, much time was lost before it 
could make its way upwards to the outer surface of that 
authority whence action, which could no longer be preventive, 
emanated in some shape of attempted suppression. The great 
safeguard of sedition was to be found in the slow processes of 
departmental correspondence necessitated by a system of exces- 
sive centralisation. When prompt and effectual action was 
demanded, Routine called for pens and paper. A letter was 
written where a blow ought to have been struck, and the letter 
went, not to one who could act, but was passed on to another 
stage of helplessness, and then on to another, through all 
gradations, from the subaltern's bungalow to the Government 

The direction of the military affairs of our Indian Empire 
was supposed to be confided to the Commander-in-Chief. But 
there was a general power of control in the Governor-Genera* 
that made the trust little more than nominal. So little were 
the limits of authority prescribed by law, or even by usage, 

1857.] THE DEPARTMENTS. 375 

that, it has already been observed, there was often a conflict 
between the Civil and the Military Chiefs, which in time 
ripened into a public scandal, or subsided into a courteous 
compromise, according to the particular temper of the litigants. 
Sensible of his power, the Governor-General was naturally 
anxious to leave all purely military matters in the hands of the 
Commander-in-Chief; but in India it was hard to say what 
were "purely military" matters, when once the question 
emerged out of the circle of administrative detail. As har- 
monious action was constitutionally promoted by the bestowal 
upon the Commander-in-Chief of a seat in Council, there would 
have been little practical inconvenience in the division of 
authority if the Civil and the Military Chiefs had always been 
in the same place. But it often happened that the Governor- 
General, with his official machinery of the Military Secretary's 
office, was at one end of the country, and the Commander-in- 
Chief, with the Adjutant-General of the Army, at the other. 
And so it happened in the early part of 1857. Lord Canning 
was at Calcutta. General Anson was officially in the Upper 
Provinces ; personally he was somewhere in Lower Bengal.* 
The Adjutant-General was at Mirath. The Adjutant-General's 
office was in Calcutta. The Inspector-General of Ordnance was 
in Fort William. All these authorities had something to do 
with the business of the greased cartridges, and it was a 
necessity that, out of a system which combined a dispersed 
agency with a centralised authority, there should have arisen 
some injurious delay. 

But the delay, thus doubly inevitable, arose rather in this 
instance from the multiplicity of official agencies, than from the 
distance at which they were removed from each other. On 
the 22nd of January, Lieutenant Wright, who commanded the 
detachment of the 70th Sipahis at Damdamah, reported to the 
commanding officer of the musketry depot the story of the 
greased cartridges, and the excitement it had produced. Major 
Bontein, on the following day, reported it to the commanding 
officer at Damdamah, who forthwith passed it on to the General 

* Just at this time General Anson was coming down to Calcutta to 
superintend the embarkation of his wife for England. He must have been 
actually in Calcutta when the Sipahis were in the first throes of their 
discontent ; but it does not appear that the subject of the greased cartridges 
then attracted his attention. 


commanding the Presidency division at Barrackpur. On the 
same day, General Hearsey forwarded the correspondence to 
the Deputy-Adjutant- General, who remained in charge of the 
office at Calcutta in the absence of his chief. But, though thus 
acting in accordance with military regulations, he took the 
precaution to add that he forwarded the correspondence " for 
immediate submission to the Government of India, through its 
Military Secretary," and suggested that the Sipahis at the 
Bine Depot should be permitted to grease their own cartridges. 
General Hearsey 's letter must have reached the Adjutant- 
General's office on the 24th of January ; perhaps not till after 
office hours. The following day was the Sabbath. The letter 
of " immediate transmission " was dated, therefore, on the 
26th.* On the following day, the Government of India, 
through its Military Secretary, addressed a letter to the Adju- 
tant-General's office sanctioning Hearsey's suggestion. On the 
28th, the General received the official sanction, and at once 
directed the concession to be made known to all the regiments 
in Barrackpur. But it was too late. On the previous day, a 
significant question had been put by a Native officer on parade, 
as to whether any orders had been received. The reply was 
necessarily in the negative. Had it not been for the interven- 
tion of the Adjutant-General's office, General Hearsey might 
have received his reply four days before. Whilst we were 
corresponding, our enemies were acting ; and so the lie went 
ahead of us apace. 

Onward and onward it went, making its way throughout 
Upper India with significant embellishments, aided by the 
enemies of the British Government, whilst that Government 
looked at the matter in its naked reality, divested of all the 
outer crust of lies which it had thus acquired. Confident of 
their own good intentions, the English chiefs saw only an 
accident, an oversight, to be easily rectified and explained. 
There did not seem to be anything dangerously irreparahle in 
it. But it was, doubtless, right that they should probe the 
matter to its very depths, and do all that could be done to allay 
the inquietude in the Sipahi's mind. It was hardly to be 
expected that the Governor-General, who at that time had 

* It is right that this should bo borne in mind. In all cases of alleged 
official delays the almanack of the year should be consulted, that account 
may be taken of a dies non. 

1857.] COLONEL BIRCH. 377 

been less than a year in India, should see at once all the diffi- 
culties of the position. But he had men of large experience at 
his elbow ; and it was wise to confide in them. In such an 
emergency as had then arisen, the Military Secretary to the 
Government of India was the functionary whose especial duty 
it was to inform and advise the Governor-General. That office 
was represented by Colonel Richard Birch, an officer of the 
Company's Army, who had served for many years at the head 
of the Judge Advocate's department, and was greatly esteemed 
as an able, clear-headed man of business, of unstained reputation 
in private life. Lord Dalhousie, no mean judge of character, 
had selected him for this important office, and Lord Canning 
soon recognised the wisdom of the choice. The Military 
Secretary had no independent authority, but in such a con- 
juncture as this much might be done to aid and accelerate the 
movements of Government ; and had he then sat down idly 
and wailed the result, or had he suffered any time to be lost 
whilst feebly meditating action, a heavy weight of blame would 
have descended upon him, past all hope of removal. But, when 
he heard that the detachments at Damdamah were in a state 
of excitement, his first thought was to ascertain the truth or 
the falsehood of the alleged cause of alarm ; so he went at once 
to the Chief of the Ordnance Department to learn what had 
been done. 

At that time, the post of Inspector-General of Ordnance was 
held by Colonel Augustus Abbott, an Artillery officer of high 
repute, who had earned a name in history as one of the " Illus- 
trious Garrison of Jalalabad." His first impression was, that 
some greased cartridges had been issued to the Depot at Dam- 
damah, and it was admitted that no inquiries had been made 
into the natural history of the lubricating material. But he 
was relieved from all anxiety on this score by a visit from 
Major Bontein, the Instructor, who asked Abbott to show him 
a greased cartridge. The fact was, that though large numbers 
had been manufactured, none had ever been issued to the 
Native troops at Damdamah or any other station in the Presi- 
dency Division.* The discovery, it was thought, had been 

* It should be stated that much of the laboratory work of the Arsenal of 
Fort William was actually carried on at Damdamah ; but that the ammunition 
manufactured there was always sent to the Arsenal and issued thence to the 


made in time to prevent the dangerous consequences which 
might have resulted from the oversight. It would be easy to 
cease altogether from the use of the obnoxious fat ; easy to tell 
the Sipahis that they might grease the cartridges after their 
own fashion. The uneasiness, it was believed, would soon pass 
away, under the influence of soothing explanations. It was 
plain, however, that what had happened at Damdamah might 
happen at the other military stations, where schools of musketry 
had been established and the new rifles were being brought 
into use. The regiments there would assuredly soon hear the 
alarm-note pealing upwards from Bengal. But, though some 
time had been lost, the " lightning-post " might still overtake 
the letters or messages of the Sipahis before they could reach 
Ambalah and Sialkot. 

So Birch, having thus clearly ascertained the real fact of the 
greased cartridges, went at once to the Governor-General, and 
asked his permission to take immediate steps to re-assure the 
minds of the Sipahis at all the Musketry Depots. The 
' permission was granted, and orders were forthwith sent 
to Damdamah ; whilst the Electric Telegraph was set at work to 
instruct the Adjutant-General of the Army, at Mirath, to issue 
all cartridges free from grease, and to allow the Sipahis to 
apply with their own hands whatever suitable mixture they 
might prefer. For, at Mirath, a large manufacture of greased 
cartridges was going on, without any fear of the results.* At 
the same time he telegraphed to the commanding officers of the 
Rifle Depots at Ambalah and Sialkot, not to use any of the 
greased cartridges that might have been issued for service 
with the new rifles. It was recommended, at the same time, 
by Birch and Abbott, that a General Order should be pub- 
lished by the Commander-in-Chief, setting forth that no greased 
cartridges would be issued to the Sipahi troops, but that every 
man would be permitted to lubricate his own ammunition with 
any materials suitable to the purpose. But plain as all this 
seemed to be, and apparently unobjectionable, an objection was 
found at Mirath to the course proposed in Calcutta ; and the 
Adjutant-General, when he received his message, telegraphed 
back to the Military Secretary that Native troops had been 

* Materials for 100,000 cartridges, with implements of manufacture and 
pattern cartridges, were sent from the Calcutta Arsenal to Mirath in October, 
1856. These were for the use of the 60th Rifles. 


using greased cartridges " for some years," and the grease had 
been composed of mutton-fat. " Will not," it was asked, "your 
instructions make the Sipahis suspicious about what hitherto 
they have not hesitated to handle ? " Further orders were 
requested ; and, on the 29th of January, a message went from 
Calcutta to the Head-Quarters of the Army, stating that the 
existing practice of greasing cartridges might be continued, if 
the materials were of mutton-fat and wax.* 

Prompt measures having thus been taken to prevent the 
issue of greased cartridges prepared in Calcutta or Mirath to 
any Native troops — and with such success that from first to 
last no such cartridges ever were issued to them f — the authori- 
ties, perhaps a little perplexed by this sudden explosion in a 
season of all-prevailing quiet, began to inquire how it had all 
happened. Not without some difficulty, for there were apparent 
contradictions in the statements that reached them, the whole 
history of the greased cartridges was at last disentangled. 
It was this. In 1853, the authorities in England sent out to 
India some boxes of greased cartridges. The lubricating 
material was of different kinds ; but tallow entered largely 
into the composition of it all. It was sent out, not for service, 
but for experiment, in order that the effect of the climate upon 
the cartridges thus greased might be ascertained. But it did 
not wholly escape our high military functionaries in India, 
that these greased cartridges, if care were not taken to exclude 
all obnoxious materials from their composition, could not be 
served out to Native troops without risk of serious danger. 
Colonel Henry Tucker was, at that time, Adjutant-General of 
the Bengal Army, and he obtained the permission of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief to sound a note of warning on the subject. 
There was in those days even a greater complication of military 
authority than when Lord Canning presided over the Govern- 

* See the telegrams published in the papers laid before Parliament. I 
merely s^te the fact that such messages were sent. But I have found it 
impossible to reconcile the assertion of the Adjutant-General, that cartridges 
smeared with muttou-fat had been in use, with the actual facts of the case, 
as given in the followin