« PreviousContinue »
in that way,
This timid caution about drawing too closely to the Indian religion did not escape the notice of many of the Hindoos, and the still more fanatic Mussul. mans, and was evidently regarded as a sign of weakness. In India, on an average, every twelfth inhabitant is a Mussulman. Still, they are not the same sort of men whom we find in Turkey and Arabia, who still believe partially in the lessons of the Koran, but a degenerate race, who are ignorant of the good laws of the Brahmins, but have appropriated all the idolatrous manners and immorality of the Hindoos. Their forefathers were converted violently and in masses by the Mongols. They have retained all the notions of caste; they consider it as a desecration to eat with Europeans, or even anything they have touched; they spurn the eaters of beef and pork, and feel a reverence for the cow. Thus, the cartridges with their animal fat must have been a horror to them; and we cannot feel surprised if their priests, an ignorant and fanatic race, fanned the flame of insurrection, and recalled the brilliancy of the old Mongolian Empire.
Another very awkward circumstance was a free press, by which poison was sown broadcast. The English papers provided the editors of the native
papers the material, and thus increased the mischief. The free press in India was the unhappy notion of a man who gave
this conces sion on his departure, after acting as a provisional governor-generalpresent which raised a suspicion that he wished to make himself popular
A free press in a subjugated country, where the numerous deposed princes have not only remained in constant connexion with the people, but also had enormous monetary resources at their command, and where the power of the executive is supported on the bayonets of native troops, was a theory which does not resemble the practical temper of the Briton. Hence it was a very necessary and commendable act to place the press under the censorship. At the present moment India requires a dictator. More than a million of money, the twenty-fifth part of the revenue of India, is in the hands of these princely pensioners. Nor must we forget the numerous schemes ever ready to hand among the natives to maintain communications to the furthest points of the country, and gain over the dissatisfied and the native press. The most powerful of these persons, and those whose memory is most closely connected with the nation and its history, were the Kings of Delhi, the King of Oude, the Nizam, and a few small Mahratta chiefs.
In the midst of this confusion and unexpected fermentation the war with Russia broke out. It must be within your memory that since 1825 Russia has been striving to gain political influence in Central Asia by means of secret agents. All efforts were then tried to gain over the court of Teheran, which was urged to occupy Herat, and we know how cleverly the Russian cabinet gained the best of the British envoy. Have not communications been kept up between Persia and these Indian princes ? When we know that, until very recently, epistolary correspondence has been carried on between the King of Delhi and many of the Muhammadan princes in Central Asia, how passionately the Easterns are devoted to intrigue, and how they like to correspond, it would not be surprising if such a net had been spun. Was it not very natural that everything should be set in motion to seduce the armed force and get hold of the Bengal army? It appears that the papers, edited by Mussulmans, first brought up the cartridge question, which was greedily swallowed by the credulous Hindoo, and was propagated as a forced destruction of their faith. The weakness and errors of various military authorities and officials promoted the insurrection.
The first serious military outbreak took place in September, 1855, at Bolarum, in the Nizam's kingdom. Here Colonel Colin M‘Kenzie com
manded the southern division, and was killed during the Mohurrum, by some soldiers of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment; at the same time, several other Englishmen and their wives were exposed to the insults of these drunken and fanatic horsemen.* Here, then, was the commencement, in small, of the outrages which have since filled us with horror. This circumstance ought to have opened the eyes of the authorities, and at least 20,000 Europeans should have been sent at once, without delay, to India. But they preferred the idea that this was only an isolated instance, produced by the sternly Christian mode of thought of the colonel. On this occasion, however, the Court of Directors opposed any augmentation of European troops. They flattered themselves with the idea that the Sepoys had on every occasion done their duty, and the native army was strong enough for all eventualities. In the autumn of last year, the first evidence of a disturbance among the Sepoys of the Bengal army became apparent. The authorities still regarded all these signs of a threatening storm as isolated symptoms. Nor coul English be led to believe that an entire army could become unfaithfulan army which had shared so many dangers with its officers, and was apparently devoted body and soul to them. Suddenly, however, a diabolical spirit penetrated the troops, like that which an Inquisition and fanatic monks brought into the world. Under the pretext that their religion was imperilled, fearful murders and brutalities have been committed, and they have persecuted their benefactors with a fury and demoniac spirit, such as the book of history has never yet displayed in the life of humanity.
The Bengal army has ceased to exist. The mutineers cleverly selected the most favourable moment, the period of the hot winds and the monsoon that follows upon them, when the rain frequently pours down for days without interruption. With equal caution they selected Delhi as the basis of operations, where the largest military magazine in the Northern Provinces was collected so far back as 1842. Lord Ellenborough brought this danger under the notice of the Directors, and wished to select the citadel of Agra as a depôt in preference. These magazines were entrusted to Sepoys alone, because the climate of Delhi was regarded as very dangerous to Europeans, and the government avoids, if possible, exposing troops to the seductions of a large city.
The insurrection has at length received a deadly blow in the fall of Delhi, and the want of union among a set of ruffians, who all wish to be commanders, will be of great service to us. Our troops are now rapidly landing, and reinforcements can be sent up from Agra by two channels -either by land, viâ Agra, or by water up the Indus—and they will, probably, arrive simultaneously with those from Calcutta. It is of the highest importance, too, that the provinces of Madras and Bombay should be kept tranquil, and the civil servants and authorities will have to be strictly on their guard, without, however, allowing any mistrust to be perceptible. In the Madras presidency the kingdom of the Nizam is a very dangerous neighbour. He is a Muhammadan; his followers are a wild and corrupt set, and he could easily lead 40,000 men into the field. His prime minister is devoted to the English, and we must hope
* A Narrative of the Mutiny at Bolarum, in September, 1855. By an Eyes witness.
that he can retain his situation, and thus be of service to us. Another peril is, that the insurrection has assumed a somewhat communistic character. In the country and in the towns the proprietors are attacked by the vagabonds, and robbed of life and property Bands have been formed, as in China, to devastate the country, murder, steal, and commit the most fearful atrocities. Naturally, in such a state of things, martial law will alone avail; the sword and the cord must extirpate the ruffians. When we reflect, too, that thousands of Thugs and Dacoits have been liberated from prison, men who make a trade of murder and rapine, we must not feel surprised if no one is safe of his life. The feeling rife among the Sepoys that they are fighting with a rope round their neck, naturally renders them desperate. The insurrection can hardly be suppressed before the spring of next year. Then, however, will come the no less difficult task of purifying Bengal from murderers and robbers. Several years will elapse before the power of the English has been again so strongly impressed on the minds of the natives, and the law regained such authority that Englishmen can once more travel safely and unarmed through the country.
The course of events will exercise the greatest influence on the formation of the future Indian government.
But it must be evident to every sensible Englishman that the double form of government can go on no longer. The book of history shows us the great deeds effected by the Court of Directors and the East India Company. It would be the height of ingratitude not to recognise this. But since the wings of the court have been so clipped that it has become a shadow, behind which the Board of Control acts, and the administrative authorities have been brought into such a position that one thrusts the responsibility of the bad on to the other, while all eagerly claim what is good as their own, it is better to place something perfectly new in its stead. India must be incorporated with Great Britain, and the Queen be the ruler. This will admirably suit the customs and mode of thought of the Indians. It is true that such an incorporation will throw into the hands of the home government such an increase of power as might eventually imperil the constitution of the country. The disposal of so many good appointments may become menacing to the independence of the Lower House. But ways and means may be discovered to meet these dangers, and it must not be forgotten that public opinion has in England become such a power that no government dare neglect its warnings, for fear of losing the confidence of the nation.
It is also evident that the European army must become the actual support of the executive, and one hundred thousand men will scarcely be sufficient. On the other hand, the Sepoy army must be gradually reduced, and only so many kept on service as may be required to do the hard work for the European soldier. The Court of Directors opposed the increase of European troops in consequence of the expense and high rate of mortality ; but, as regards the latter, it may be rendered less dangerous by paying greater attention to the clothing and maintenance of the private. So soon as infectious diseases break out at any place, a speedy change of garrison for a short period will frequently suffice to check them. Then, too, all possible pains should be taken to explain to
the soldier what risks he runs by an irregular course of life, or by immoderate drinking. In such a case, the officer who personally interests himself for his men can effect wonders, as was proved in the Crimean campaign, when the sanitary condition of those regiments was most satisfactory in which the officers devoted themselves to their men. It will also be advisable to establish an état-major, that the officers may not be taken from their regiments for staff appointments. At the same time, India must be regularly fortified, and barbours formed like those at Kurrachee, Madras, and in the Hooghly, where a fleet of vessels of war can be stationed. As regards the pensioned native princes, the conqueror has perfect right to dispose of the persons and property of those who have been connected with the mutineers. Not only should their pensions be reduced to a minimum, but they, with their wives and families, should be deported to another colony. In conclusion, let our author speak in his own words :
England's power has developed itself as the greatest and most influential in the world. When moments arrive at which violent occurrences threaten its foundations, voices are heard, which announce the evidences of its fall. Purity of morals alone keeps up the power of a great empire, and so long as in England those virtues which distinguish a truly Christian nation are more highly esteemed than the treasures and honours of this world, there is no peris for England. Every great kingdom falls through itself, for it bears the germ of its overthrow in itself; and when this internal degeneracy flows through the lifeveins of a nation, then external events will accelerate its overthrow. Such occurrences as the war in the Crimea and the military revolution in India give a great nation an opportunity to learn its strength, its weakness, and its foes. Such sufferings were required to produce reforms which could not be obtained in the common course of things. Any one who has carefully examined the history of human development during the last three centuries must have gained the conviction that the English and German nations are the pillars on which civilisation and Christianity are supported. The English nation, owing to its position and remarkable extension over the earth, and its free constitution, is peculiarly summoned to effect this; but it can only complete the task by a close alliance with Germany.
The British nation is evidently designed, under Providence, to disseminate Christianity through Asia, and that civilisation which renders men free, happy, and satisfied. Under this idea must reconquered India be entered, for our age, as it hurries along by means of steam and electricity, will, among nations, perform the duties of missionaries.
AN AUTUMN IN WALES.*
THERE is something decidedly original in the idea of a German poet and gentleman quitting the shady recesses of Hanover and trusting himself alone among the mountains of Wales in search of fairy my. thology and old ballads. M. Julius Rodenberg has, however, ventured on the experiment, and, as his book proves to us, with perfect success. He has set about his self-imposed task with true German conscientiousness, and has enriched the literature of his country by the attention he has shown to the original and interesting matter of which he went in search. To the English reader, however, we fancy that the impressions produced on the German traveller by the people among whom he spent the last autumn will prove the most attractive portion of the work, and we will, therefore, confine our attention to the descriptions he gives of the country and its inhabitants.
M. Rodenberg set out on his Snowdonian Odyssey from Liverpool, of which city he writes in the most enthusiastic terms, and brings out many latent beauties in that unpoetical city, which the Englishman, whose cruel fate leads him to the capital of the Mersey, is apt to overlook. But, after all, there is a certain degree of poetry in the busy life of those who
go down to the sea in ships, as will be allowed after reading the following quotation :
On the next day after my arrival at Liverpool, we proceeded to the banks of the Mersey and the docks. The Liverpool Docks, larger and more convenient than those of London or any other maritime city in the world, extend for miles along the whole frontage of the city, from the sea deep down the Mersey, which, with its broad, majestic mirror, seems a continuation of the ocean. Liverpool and its harbour are the entrepôt for the Old and the New World. This lighthouse, these walls, are the first object on which the moistened eye of the Australian voyager rests, when, after months of sea-peril and uncertainty, he is once again to betread the loved soil of his home country: hither Brazil sends its dye-woods, and the Havannah its tobacco, Central America its sugar and its coffee, North America the hide and horns of the buffalo. Or again, to stand on the deck of one of these three-masters when the wind whistles through the tackle, and a swarthy sailor is suspended from the bows, giving a fresh coat of varnish to the spray-eaten figure-head, representing Lord Canning, or St. George, or the Amazon-and then to walk along the river-bank and observe the nervous forest of masts, and the busy life that prevails among them; the extraordinary movement on the water, caused by the constant arrival and departure of the ferrysteamers; the toiling of the multitudes in the warehouses, rendered still more surprisingly active by subterraneous railways; the creaking and groaning of the drays wending their way through the almost impenetrable confusion of the streets along the river-bank-to hear all this, to see all this, was a pleasure, was a delight!
Equal admiration does our author display for the public establishments of Liverpool, more especially for those which have been erected for the social welfare and progress of the working population. His visit to the free reading library caused him to blush for his fatherland, for he found
* Ein Herbst in Wales. Laud und Leute, Märchen und Lieder von Julias Rodenberg. Hannover. 1858.