« PreviousContinue »
own parish, than the best and most accurate map of the kingdom would be. We have not, on the first acquaintance of certain terms through Mr. Wilson, referred to other sources for the purpose of picking holes in his definitions, and while we might yet give a fair list of phrases imperfectly or inacurately expounded, or of others omitted altogether, we feel that it is impossible to possess those who have not seen the work, with a correct idea of its wide and comprehensive range of enquiry, its extensive and deep learning, its general order and lucidity, and its adaptation to residents in all parts of India, whether it be to the soldier in his camp, the missionary in his school, the civilian at his desk, or the antiquarian in his library. Such a work had, in truth, long been a desideratum, and we can conscientiously recommend it to all thinking persons, who do wish to carry away with them from India some more accurate knowledge of the country, and the people with whom they come in contact, beyond what is contained in the remembrance that Indian heat is excessive, but may be made endurable by active thermantidotes, watchful punkah-pullers and an unfailing supply of ice, that India is somehow not quite the thing that it used to be for the pocket, that caste is very degrading and opposed to improvement, and that all native servants are cheats and rogues by profession or choice.
ART. V.-Friend of India ; Englishman ; Hurkaru ; Phænix ;
battle of Plassey, in which Clive seized the keys of Hindostán for the Honorable East India Company,—the Lord of the whole earth, who giveth and taketh away kingdoms, has placed a riddle before the rulers of India, more difficult of solution, more disastrous in its consequences if unsolved or solved wrongly, of far richer reward if rightly understood and vigorously acted upon, than the enigma of the Theban Sphinx—the mutiny of the Bengal native army. At Thebes, the deadly plunge from the rock was the lot of the unsuccessful competitor, the crown of a famous but small Grecian kingdom, the prize offered to the successful interpreter. Here, any misinterpretation of the character and the causes of the revolt of the Bengal sepoys, adopted by the British Government, would inevitably lead to yet direr calamities, and finally to the overthrow of a splendid empire; the right understanding of, and the right dealing with, the present crisis, will cause the name and power of Britain to rise still higher in India and all over the east, will deepen and widen the foundations of a kingdom, which, re-established after this rude shock, may prosper, and prevail, and see no change until all the kingdoms of the world belong to our God and to His anointed.
In days like these, when every heart which has learned to pray is lifted up to the throne on high for the restoration of peace and order in the north of India, which has suddenly been convulsed by a tropical cyclone of revolt, as wild, as savage, as inhuman, as any on record; when every head which has been taught to think strains its powers to discern some rays of light amidst the thick darkness, pens which have never stirred on themes of politics may, yea ought to engage in the discussion of a question of such vital importance, not only to the cause of British supremacy, but to that of law and order, of civilization, and religious progress among one-sixth of the human race, When the wisest among politicians doubt, waver, and are at their wits' cnd, amidst the uproar of the tempest and the fearful strainings and groanings of the vessel of the state battling with a raging sea, the unlearned, now ceasing to hear dogmatic and confident discourses, which they might be expected to say their humble "amen” to, may well try to reason for themselves; and when traditionary Government-craft and grey-headed statesmanship are confounded, children and babes may open their mouths, and chance to utter words, furnishing a clue to the solution of the dreadful puzzle.
Our object is not to recount the history of the mutiny, which has marked the year 1857, in the annals of India, with a red line of blood, never to be effaced from the memory of its rulers or their subjects; but to enquire into the nature and the causes of the lamentable convulsion, which will ere long appear to have been a turning point in the affairs of British India, either from great and seemingly increasing prosperity to insecurity and ruin,-or from a century of continuous advancement full of promise, to a glorious age, fulfilling the brightest anticipations of hope in successive triumphs of European civilization, science and religion, among races, once the foremost of mankind, but now sunk into that moral and intellectual torpor, which is the never-failing effect of old age upon idolatrous nations. A few short sketches of some of the principal events, the night of hor. rors, which has passed over northern India, may suffice.
Early in the year, symptoms of discontent showed themselves among the regiments of the Bengal army. Cartridges of a new color, and greased, it was suspected, with objectionable matter, had been issued. The sepoys murmured, grumbled, petitioned, protested. Government, blameable in the first instance for its carelessness, soon corrected their error, and with- . drew the objectionable cartridges. Matters were fully explained to the sepoys, but to no purpose. The rumour spread and prevailed, that the Government had formed an insidious plan to subvert the religions of their sepoys, and that the introduction of larded and tallowed cartridges was intended to deprive, as a preliminary step, Mussulman and Hindu sepoys of their caste. All the measures of second-thought wisdom, which the Government adopted, proved unavailing. The 19th regiment B. N. I., stationed at Berhampore, mutinied on the night of the 26th February. They refused to take blank cartridges issued for parade exercise on the following morning, seized their arms, threatened their Colonel and their officers to shoot them, but were at length pacified; and then addressed a petition to the Major General commanding the Presidency division, stating, that for more than two months they had heard rumors of new cartridges having been made at Calcutta, on the paper of which the fat of bullocks and pigs had been spread, and of its being the intention of Government to coerce the men to bite their cartridges; and that, therefore, they were afraid for their religion. They admitted, that the assurance given to them by the Colonel of their regiment, satisfied them that this would not be the case ; but added, that, nevertheless, when on the 26th
of February, they perceived the cartridges to be of two kinds, they were convinced that one kind was greased, and therefore refused them. It must be noted, that the cartridges thus objected to, bad been used by the recruits of the 19th regiment up to that date, and that they had been made up by the 7th regiment, which had preceded the 19th at Berhampore. “ The men of this regiment,” in the words of the order read to them on the day of punishment, “had refused obedience to • their European officers. They had seized arms with violence. ( They had assembled in a body to resist the authority of their
commander. The regiment had been guilty of open and • defiant mutiny.” The punishment awarded to this “ open
and defiant mutiny" was this. After the lapse of a month, the 19th regiment was ordered to head quarters at Barrackpore, where it arrived on the 31st March. The General in command had collected every element of power within reach of Government. H. M.'s 84th had hastened from Burmah to Barrackpore. A wing of H. M.'s 53rd had marched up from Calcutta. A troop of Malras artillery, on the way to its own presidency, was detained there; a second troop had been called from Dum Dum : the body-guard of the Governor General was on the spot; every soldier that was available from the presidency appeared on the parasle. The Europeans and native Artillery were drawn up on one side, the four native regiments, who were suspected of strong sympathy with the 19th, opposite; the regiment under sentence marched into the centre. General Hearsey then read an order, which gave a clear account of the offence committed, pronounced upon it a just and sound judgment, the terms of which have been quoted above, and then announced the decree passed by Government upon a regiment guilty of open and defiant mutiny, in the following terms: “It is, therefore, ' the order of the Governor General in Council, that the 19th ' regiment N. I. be now disbanded; that the native commission
ed and non-commissioned officers and privates be discharged • from the army of Bengal; that this be done at the head quar'ters of the presidency division in the presence of every available
corps within two days' march of the station; that the regiment • be paraded for the purpose, and that each man, after being de• prived of his arms, shall receive his arrears of pay and be requir
ed to withdraw from the cantonment.” The arms were piled, and the colors were deposited with them, but the uniforms were not stripped off. Pay was delivered, and the disbanded regiment was marched off to Chinsurah, to await there the arrival of their wives and families. Thus was the first overt act of mutiny on the part of the Bengal army dealt with by Government. To have stopped short of this in any other than an Indian
army—inconceivably light punishment, would have been
an official announcement, that discipline was henceforth to be abolished. Yet, such was the public feeling in India at the time, that most newspapers applauded what was called the temperate yet decided policy of Government.
At Barrackpore were then stationed four native regiments, the 20th, the 34th, the 43rd, and the 2nd Grenadiers. During the month of March the disaffection of the native troops took a serious form. Mutinous meetings were held. Several arrests of native officers took place. On Sunday, the 29th March, a Brahman sepoy of the 34th regiment, who had perhaps drugged himself to run a muck, attacked and wounded the Serjeantmajor and the Adjutant of the regiment with sword and mus. ket, within sight of the quarter guard of the 34th. Lieut.-Colonel Wheeler ordered the guard to fire on the sepoy. They refused to obey his orders. Lieut.-Colonel Wheeler quietly report circumstance to the Brigadier. On the approach of a guard of the 43rd, the sepoy shot himself, but his wound was not dangerous. He was then seized. All this happened in the lines of the 34th regiment, of whom none moved in defence of the serjeant major or the adjutant. In this case punishment was inflicted less tardily.
The sepoy who had shot adjutant Baugh's horse, and inflicted severe wounds upon this officer and the sergeant major Hewson, who had come to his assistance, was hung within about a week after the commission of the crime, and the jemadar who had ordered the guard to stand still, when they were commanded to arrest the Brahman criminal, and upon whom, during the enquiry, all blame was thrown by his men, paid the same penalty after a fortnight. In the mean time a party of the men of the 34th regiment refused to march on guard duty to Calcutta, and were, of course, placed under arrest. The punishment of the mutinous regiment was slower. It was on the 6th of May, that the second disbanding took place at Barrackpore. At daylight two sides of a square were formed by H. M.'s 53rd and 84th, the 2nd, 43rd and 70th N. I., two squadrons of cavalry, consisting of the body-guard, the 11th irregulars, and a light field battery with six guns. When the line was formed, the seven companies of the 34th, who had been present in the Barrack pore lines on the 29th March, about four hundred strong, were halted in front of the guns; the order for disbandment was read out, and after a few energetic remarks upon the enormity of their offence, General Hearsey commanded them to pile their arms and strip off the uniform which they had disgraced. Their arrears were paid up, and in two hours the disbanded sepoys were marched off to Pulta Ghaut for conveyance to