« PreviousContinue »
spite of the strenuous representations and strong remonstrances of Lord Dalhousie, in spite of the energetic applications of General Anson, and in spite of the equally decided demands of Lord Canning, been permitted to increase with the increase of territory, through the annexation of three large provinces, Pegu, Nagpore and Oude.
A fortnight after the outbreak of the mutiny, the subjoined article appeared in the Friend of India, which has never been contradicted : “The following statement of the means of de
fence provided for India, and our new possessions to the east' ward of the Bay of Bengal, will show how little danger has
been apprehended from internal foes or outward aggression during the last thirty months. We quote the various stations of importance and the numbers of the regiments in garrison :
3rd Europeans. 6th Drayoons.
$ 35th and 3rd Euro- } 53rd.
None 29th, 10th
2nd European Ditto Calcutta
35th and 98th Chinsurah
peans Cawnpore None
None Dugshaie... .53rd
Ditto Dinapore .........3rd Europeans None Ferozepore .. 70th
Ditto Jullander 60th
Ditto Kussowlie ..32nd
10th and 81st Lucknow. None
87th Proc. Home ...22nd aud 96th
None Rawul Pindee...87th
75th Sealkote .. 24th and 27th
27th Subathoo ...52nd
None Umballah ..9th Lancers
Ditto Wuzeerabad ...61st
1st Europeans. Ist ditto. 50th. 6lst. 8th. 75th. 81st. 32nd. 60th. 27th. Ditto and 70th None. 24th. None. 2nd Europeans Ditto. None.
Total, Cavalry ...2
Infantry ...21 “ From the above it will be seen that in December, 1854, before the annexation of Oude took place, we had three more European regiments than we have now.
Of the English troops serving in this country, it is considered, that seven always should be stationed in the Punjab, two in Burmah, one at Calcutta, one at Dinapore, one at Agra, and one at Meerut. This leaves a balance of five regiments; but some of these are in absolute need of their customary rest in the hills, so
" that our whole moveable force is actually reduced, to saythree regiments."
On the day subsequent to the publication of the above, Lord Canning himself observed in a despatch to the Home Government, which, however, failed to make an impression at the time upon the statesmen at home: “We confidently affirm, that the
Government will be much stronger in respect of all important ' internal and external purposes, with three additional European
regiments of the established strength, than it would be by 'employing six native regiments of the established strength.
At present the relative strength of European to native infantry ' in the Company's Bengal army is disproportionately small. ' In the Bombay army it is as 1 to 9}, and in the Madras army 'as 1 to 16%, while in the Bengal army, it is as 1 to 243." It may safely be affirmed, that, had Oude been held by five European regiments instead of one ; had Allahabad and Cawnpore had each two European regiments instead of one; had Agra and Meerut been stronger by one regiment of Europeans each ; and had Delhi had a garrison of two European regiments; that is, had the north of India been held by thirty British regiments instead of twenty, there would have been no crisis of 1857, and there would have been no mutiny of the Bengal army, perhaps, for ever.
It has pleased the far-sighted wisdom of God, and the shortsighted folly of mortals, that it should be otherwise. The Bengal army has broken out into a revolt, which has succeeded, not in overturning the power of the British Government, but in destroying its own existence. For the doom of that treacherous, proud, covetous, and murderous brood will be sealed, when once the true character and the real causes of the Bengal mutiny are rightly apprehended by the people and the rulers of Great Britain.
It is one thing to know, with certainty, a powerful drug or skilful operation, by which a dangerous disease might have been prevented altogether, or indefinitely retarded. It is another thing to understand the nature of the disease itself, and to penetrate by a correct interpretation of its symptoms to the root of the distemper. In the one case, you will provide the drug or keep the knife in readiness; in the other, you may succeed in stopping the source of the malady, and in establishing health which needs no physician.
It remains before we proceed further, to examine the correctness of an opinion which seems to gain strength with Indian journalists and others : an esoteric political character is assigned to the revolt. Notwithstanding the deserved estimation of many of its advocates, the number of undeniable facts which
seem to favor it, and its general plausibility, we do not hold it, for reasons which we shall explain in the sequel.
At the meeting of the British Indian Association of the 25th July last, adverted to above, Rajah Ishara Chandra Singh, the seconder of Baboo Dakhinaranjan Mukerjee, said : “the cause
of the present rebellion is still deeper, and we every day see new causes ascribed, and persons, who can put pen to paper, come forward with a new theory of their own, yet, I believe,
the principal cause still remains as much hidden as before. It ' is to be hoped, that ere long a strict investigation may be held, ' and that the traitors, who have inflamed a seditious spirit, and • converted the hitherto faithful and honest sepoys into a set of ' murderers of the blackest dye; may be brought to the punish'ment they so richly deserve.
· Popular belief points to the emissaries of defunct dynasties, as the men who have fanned the seditious flame, and who
had the presumption to hope, and the daring villany to scheme, " the overthrow of the British Government in Hindustan, a
government, whose mission it is to repair defects, that ages of tyranny and oppression, under the Mohammedan rule, have engendered in this unfortunate land, and to teach its sons to resume their place among free and enlightened nations of the earth. Those wicked emissaries, taking advantage of the supposed wrongs of sepoys, wrought so successfully upon their
ignorant and untutored minds, as to incite them to deeds, I of which the devil himself would be ashamed. Every one
of them, who have disgraced the name of soldiers, and who, by their unheard-of cruelties have brought themselves on
a par with the beasts of prey, should be punished with the utmost rigor of the law, so as to deter others from
the like offences against the state. As for the instigators, 'such examples should be made of them, that their very names
may be hateful to generations yet unborn." Hints similar to these, contained in Rajah Ishara Chandra Singh's address, have been thrown out of late in several Indian Newspapers, with considerable assurance.
Dr. Duff, a name great on all Indian matters, in a paper published through the British Standard, July 31st, has put forward this view of the essentially political character of the mutiny very ably and eloquently. He compares the Vellore mutiny of 1806, and the Bengal mutiny of 1857, and points out an almost perfect parallelism in the leading characteristics of the two sepoy outbreaks, divided though they be by the interval of half a century. “ What was the real originating cause of an explosion so disas
trous?" Dr. Duff asks. "The searching scrutiny which followed," he replies, “ left no room to doubt, that the primary moving cause
was of an essentially political character, while the supposed 'violation of a sacred religious usage was merely seized on as a ' plausible pretext hy designing intriguers who were inimical to
And who were these? By the clearest and most cogent evidence it was proved, that these were none other than the Mohammedan princes of the recently extinguished dynasty of Mysore, the sons of Tippoo Sultan, who fell in the storming of Seringapatam. Royally accommodated in the fortress of Vellore, and replenished with princely revenues, they
repaid the debt of gratitude by hatching dark conspiracies ' against the power that spared, and the hand that so bounteously
fed them. Their hired emissaries, under every variety of caste,
and character and costume, swarmed in all directions, armed ' with the means of bribery and corrnption. And these means
were employed at once with oriental adroitness and Punic unscrupulousness. Working on the natural attachment of Mohami medan soldiers to rulers of their own faith, acting on the natural
prejudices and bigotry of the Hindu, appealing to the covetousness of the human heart by large promises of pecuniary aggrandizement, and playing, by turns, on the ignorance and alldevouring credulity of all, they succeeded in inspiring them with vague and indefinite fears for their own religion, on the
one hand, and with vague and indefinite hopes of promotion ' and prosperity under a restored native dynasty on the other. 'The alleged purpose of the British Government to destroy their ' ancestral faith, and compel them to embrace the hated creed
of their European conquerors, was the principal stalking horse of the cunning intriguers; but the destruction of the British power and the re-establishment of a Mohammedan despotism
instead was their real object. There were thus, at the outset, ' the crafty deceivers, and the simple deceived--the dupers and "
the duped. The originators of the anti-turban agitation, for " the accomplishment of their own dark designs, assiduously pro
pagated what they knew to be an infamous lie; the silly victims
of the agitation were cozened to believe the artfully contrived ' lie for a truth ; though, doubtless, in the onward progress of
events, many of the subordinates became principals, many of the misled misleaders, many of the deceived deceivers themselves.
“And are not some of the leading circumstances of the recent disaffection and wide-spread mutiny precisely parallel ?”
We beg to differ, and shall point out the essential difference of the two mutinies as we proceed.
A purely or primarily political character of the mutiny seems indeed to be clearly enough indicated by broad facts patent to the world. In the south-eastern quarter of the field of the revolt, there is the deposed king of Oude, who was taken
prisoner at Garden Reach on the morning of the 15th of June, and is still kept in closest confinement within the walls of Fort William. His seizure had been ordered upon the discovery of his ex-majesty's being in league with the rebel sepoys—a discovery fully proved by the interception of important correspondence. A brother of the king was imprisoned by Sir Henry Lawrence at Lucknow, as soon as the Oude revolt had fully broken out. It is evident, then, that Sir Henry Lawrence was cognizant of that person's implication in the mutiny. The Delhi Mogul family have headed the mutiny during more than four months; two of the princes have been shot after the capture of the city, and the old king is a prisoner, awaiting-we trust-his sentence of death. “ The king of Delhi” has been the cry of the mutineers in many places; numerous printed proclamations have been dispersed over the north of India in his name. Nana Sahib, Kooer (Kumár or Kuver ?) Sing of Arrah, the insurgent chiefs of Oude, in fact all the minor heads of the revolt, have professed to act under the authority of the house of Timur. It seems undeniable that, in the words of Rajah Ishara Chandra Singh, “ defunct dynasties” have planned and instigated the revolt, and if so, it seems at least probable, that the Persian Government, against whom war had been declared and commenced in this same year of 1857, has secretly been in league with the phantom king of Delhi: And why not look still farther?-that the Persians and especially the Persian prince at Herat, who proved refractory after the conclusion of peace between the Shah and Queen Victoria, had his instructions from Petersburgh, and, finally, that in Petersburgh the hand is to be sought, which has pulled the strings of the great mutiny of 1857 ?
To a political instead of a purely military source of the revolt, the strange phenomenon of the “migration of cakes" also seems to point, which commenced somewhere in the neighbourhood of Patna and Moorshedabad, and spread in all directions, until in May it reached Nagpore in Central India. A number of common chapatties, little cakes, made of wheat-flour and salt, were brought to heads of villages with the injunction to multiply the quantity ten-fold, to distribute part among their own community, and to send the remainder to neighbouring places with the same injunction. These masonic orders were faithfully obeyed, the cakes multiplied, and the flood became broader and broader until it reached Central India about the time of the outbreak at Meerut, and the establishment of an army of mutineers in Delhi.
All these facts and signs seem, in the opinion of good judges, to point to a political, not a military fountain head of the rebellion.