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ball practice with the small arms; and the Burmahs were, much to their delight, permitted to fire. It is surprising how exact they were in their aims, considering the little practice they must have had. Bad as all the muskets are which are served out to the ships of war, I really believe that there was not a Burmah who would not have laid down every thing he possessed, except his life, to have obtained one. One of them, when he was permitted to take a musket, looked proudly round, and said, with a smile of joy, “ Now I'm a man !”
Speaking about the shameful condition of the muskets served out to men-of-war, I really think it high time that there should be more pains taken on this point. All the arms supplied to his Majesty's ships are very imperfect. The locks of the muskets are generally defective; and, as to the cutlasses, they are useless; we could make a better weapon out of the hoops of a cask. I remember perfectly well that when, in the Imperieuse, we landed on Isle Dieu to obtain fresh provisions, as the men were cutting down the sheep, that the cutlasses broke. On this last service our men fell in with a flock of goats in a pagoda, and wished to turn them into fresh meat; but their cutlasses would make no impression upon them, they would not so much as penetrate their hides. I tried it afterwards myself upon a dead goat, and could make no impression upon it with a cutlass, although, with my own sword, I could sever the body nearly in two. Surely, after the expense incurred in building and fitting out a man-of-war, it would be worth while to supply it with arms which might be of some use, instead of such trash as are now served out. The muskets should be smaller and lighter, with longer bayonets, and the cutlasses made like the present regulation swords, with a little less curve, and not composed wholly of old iron, but admit of being ground to an edge. Old muskets sell well in these troubled times, and now is the opportunity to get rid of our defective armoury, and improve the system.
The next day we arrived at the branch of the river where one of the chiefs held out. At daylight our own boats were manned, and with the Burmah boats ranged in line, made an imposing appearance, which was very necessary, for at that time we were so short-handed that we could not send away more than forty men, a force so small, that had the Burmahs opposed to us seen it advance, they would probably have tried their strength with us. As it was, we pulled into the stockaded town in a line, the dispatch-boats flying across us backwards and forwards like porpoises before the bows of a ship running down the trades : not that they had any messages to carry, but merely to show their own dexterity. When we had advanced to within a quarter of a mile a boat came out and communicated with one of the dispatch-boats, saying that the Burmahs would not fight if we did not attack them, and that they would deliver up the men detained, and their chief as a prisoner. We agreed to these terms, landed, took possession of the chief with his gold chatta, correspondence with Bundoolah, &c. and took him on board. On this occasion, I would not trust the Burmahs I employed with muskets ; it was too soon; they had only their own swords and spears.
The chief was a fine tall man with a long beard. Like all Burmahs, he took his loss of liberty very composedly, sitting down between the guns with his attendants, and only expressing his indignation at the treachery of his own people. We were very anxious to know what had become of the guns of the dismantled stockade, which were said to be in his possession, but he positively denied it, saying that they had been dispatched in boats across to the Irrawaddy. Whether this were true or not it was impossible to say, but at all events, it was necessary to make some further attempts to obtain them, so we told him, that if he did not inform us where the guns were, by the next morning his head would be taken off his shoulders. At this pleasant intelligence he opened his betel bag and renewed his quid. The next day he was summoned forth to account for the said guns, and again protested that they had been sent to Donabue, which I really believe was false, as they were not taken out of the stockade until after Donabue was in the possession of Sir A. Campbell : it was therefore judged proper to appear to proceed to extremities; and this time it was done with more form. A file of marines was marched aft with their muskets, and the sergeant appeared with his drawn sword. Sand was strewed on the deck in front of the marines, and he was led there and ordered to kneel down, so that his head, if cut off, would fall where the sand was strewn. He was again asked if he would tell where the guns were concealed, and again stated that they were at Donabue ; upon which he was desired to prepare for death. He called one of his attendants and gave him his silver betel-box, saying, “Take this to my wife, when she sees it she will know all.” I watched him very closely; his countenance was composed, but as he bent forward over the sand, the muscles of his arms and shoulders quivered. However, as it is not the custom to cut off people's heads on the quarter-deck of his Majesty's ships, we very magnanimously reprieved him, and he was afterwards sent a prisoner to Calcutta. But that he had the guns, we discovered afterwards, which adds to his merit.
Having succeeded in this attempt, we made sail for the stockade of the other chief, and arrived there that evening. As he was supposed to be in greater force than the other, we decided upon an attack in the dark, when he would not be able to distinguish of what our force was composed, and this time we gave muskets to our Burmah comrades. The attack was successful, we obtained possession, and the chief Aed, but our Burmahs pursued him nearly two miles, made him prisoner, and brought him aboard. As he immediately tendered his submission, which the other would not do, he was released the next
We had done all our work, and having employed the Burmahs for a few days more in destroying the stockades at the entrance of the river, they were paid and discharged from his Majesty's service. They would not however quit us; but, so long as we remained in the river they continued to hang on to the ship, and discovered three guns which had been sunk, which they weighed and brought on board.
I have entered into this short narrative, as it will give some idea of the character of these people. The government is despotic, cruel, and treacherous, but the people are neither cruel nor treacherous : on the contrary, I think they would make most excellent and faithful
soldiers; and it is singular to find, surrounded by natives who have not the slightest energy of mind or body, a people so active, so laborious, and so enterprising as the Burmahs. The English seamen are particularly partial to them, and declared they were “the best set of chaps they had ever fallen in with.” They admitted the Burmahs to their messes, and were sworn friends. I forgot to say, that when the chiefs sent in their submissions, at first, among other presents, they sent slaves, usually females, which was rather awkward. But not wishing to affront them, I begged that the slaves sent might be children, and not grown up, as we had no accommodation for them. The consequence was, that I had quite a young family when I left the river, which I distributed at Rangoon and the presidencies on my return. For if they were only bond-slaves, which I suppose they were, it was a kindness to have them educated and taken care of. One only, a boy, I brought home, and he was taken under the patronage of blood royal. We lost one little fellow, that was a great favourite with the men ; he was about three years old, and could speak English. He had been christened by the sailors Billy Bamboo, and was quite as amusing as the monkey. The poor little fellow died very suddenly
I cannot quit the subject, without remarking upon the conduct of the East India Company towards the navy at the close of the war. More illiberal, ungrateful treatment, could not have been shown: indeed, it was in fact throwing a slur upon it, and intimated they had not done their duty. The Company bagged the crore of rupees for which Sir A. Campbell had ransomed the capital, and then, as a compensation, gave one year's battee to the army employed, but nothing to the navy; and, in no one instance did the navy ever do their duty better, or suffer so much as on this occasion. Sir A. Campbell had acknowledged this over and over again, in the most emphatic language, but the honourable (what a misnomer !) Company thought proper to insult us by making this marked distinction between their opinion of our services, and those of the land forces. As for money, I believe we care as little for it as most people; but this is certain, that no naval officer saved money, although the allowance of battee was extra during the time that the war lasted. Not only so, but when they knew that they could not dispense with our services, they inundated us with thanks from the governor in council, and after having by their reiterated professions acknowledged our services, they, as soon as we had done our work, turned round and insulted us grossly. They appear to have taken a secret dislike to the navy, which I can only account for because we upheld the dignity of his Majesty's commission, and wounded their pride by insisting upon the Company's cruisers submitting to his Majesty's pennant, which was at first resisted.
To show the rancour and meanness with which we were pursued, some time after I had returned home, I received a letter from the board, stating that there was a certain number of rupees due from me to the Company, which I was ordered to pay forthwith. This was the money, something more than one thousand rupees, paid by me to the Burmah force which I employed. Now, independent of this money, which I had taken from the military chest, and which I should not have thought of doing had I had any of my own on board, I had, in returning the presents of the chiefs who submitted, not only emptied my plate chest, but had given away my fowling-piece, rifles, and almost every thing that I had which would be'acceptable to these people ; and on my return I had made no formal application for indemnification, to which I was certainly entitled, for the greatest services are not always those which are effected by bloodshed. Upon the receipt of this letter I immediately wrote, stating in what manner the money had been employed, and also stating that I had a claim upon them to the amount of some hundreds of pounds. After a squabble of some length, the honourable Company admitted the rupees to have been employed for their service, but quite blinked the question of indemnity for the presents I had made for their benefit.
In this short narrative I have stated quite enough relative to the Burmahs, to make the Company alive to the real quarter whence danger will hereafter threaten them, and, in so doing, I return good for evil. The time may come when the Company will no longer exist. The Indian empire, immense as it is, is of little value to this country; its enormous revenues are expended in keeping it in a state of subjection.
These resources may one day be more advantageously employed, when it returns to the control of its native princes, and they are bartered for our manufactures. India is at present, as far as commerce is concerned, almost as much a sealed country to us as China, and its millions are as much slaves-nay, more so. It will not be long before it is discovered how diametrically opposed the interests of England as a nation, are to those of the Company as a body; and when that is clearly manifested, the charter will be clipped and clipped until this anomaly in the history of governments be wholly dissolved.
With easy and modest decision,
She ever must move, act, and speak,
Italian, and Latin, and Greek :
Excel on the harp and the lute,
And make feather-flowers, and wax-fruit.
She must answer all queries directly,
And all sciences well understand,
And write German text, and short-hand :
Yet for concerts must not sigh at all,
Yet never must go to a ball.
She must not have needy relations,
Her dress must be tasteful, yet plain,
Her memory all dates must retain :
She must manage dull natures with skill,
She must never be nervous or ill!