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The Mutiny at Cawnpore,-Nana.
tary considerations connected with the safety of the bridge.
The Indian Mutiny may well be compared to one of those storms which, brewed by the Indian sun, is peculiar to the Indian latitudes, and which, rising in a little speck on the north-west, blew a terrific political Norwester. Nowhere had that tempest spent so much of its fury as at Cawnpore. But it was to hope against hope on the part of Nana, to have resuscitated that empire of his forefathers, which, far from being regretted, was contemplated by men with dismay, and recalled to their minds devastated fields, smoking villages, depopulated towns, paralyzed trade, and universal destitution and misery. He tried to play a game in which the redoubted Sevajee himself would have despaired of success. The chance, and tumult, and confusion, and discord all embroiled’ in the poet's fictitious Pandemonium, found a parallel in the realities of his infernal council. In his panoply of brocades and muslins, it was in him the veriest freak of an Alnaschar to have shaken his fist in the face of doughty Englishmen. He had merely an opportunity to 'strut and fret his hour upon
the stage'—there was no sane man who could have believed him to be able to raise a goodly edifice out of chaos.
They showed us the spot, in an open square, south of the canal, on which had been set up the green standard of Islam. There was ‘Azeezun, the Demoiselle Theroigne of the revolt, on horseback, dressed in the uniform of her favoured regiment, armed with pistols, and decorated with medals. There was, too, a priest of high consideration seated beneath the flag, rosary in hand, endeavouring by prayer and meditation to ascertain the propitious hour for an attack upon the stronghold of the infidel.'
But nobody could point to us the whereabouts of the well, into which the unhappy Miss Wheeler had flung herself, to cut short the days of her ignominy and misery. The youngest daughter of Sir Hugh was in her eighteenth year. She was roseate with that bloom, which had still been retained under the pelting of the storm. Loath 'to throw away a pearl richer than all his tribe,' a young Mahomedan trooper had selected her for a prize, and borne her away to his home like “Pluto carrying off Proserpine. To revenge the outrages which it is the lot of a woman to suffer under such circumstances, she waited for the dead hour of midnight, when, gently getting up and walking with noiseless steps to where the intoxicated ruffian lay snoring in sleep, she took up the sword lying beside him, and one by one cut off the heads of her captor, his wife, and children. Thus making their end afford some compensation for the loss of her own honour and the murder of her father, she hastened out of the house, and meeting with the first well, precipitated herself into its depths. Many people suspect this to be a trumped-up sensation-story, and believe her to be living quietly in the family of her captor, under a Mahomedan name.
But she has not turned up, for all the inquiries made about her,—and we would fain believe her to have put an end to her life, The House of the Massacre.
that had before it the dreary prospect of a life-long ignominy.
There is no forgetting, however, by anybody the House of the Massacre. By a strange fatality, this happens to be between the Theatre and the Assembly-Rooms of former days—the house of wail and woe by the side of the houses of laughter and revelry. The building is a small one, said to have formed the humble residence of an Eurasian clerk. To have penned two hundred and six human beings in the compass of this small building was by itself almost another Black Hole affair. In the centre of the open compound stands the trunk of a withered tree,—the same against which the heads of children had been dashed to pieces, as the story went its round, --and on which afterwards was hung many a scoundrel to pay life for life—the retribution of a maddened Nemesis. Close by is the well into which the bodies of the murdered women and children were thrown. The mouth is now closed, and a cemetery has been raised over it by the hands of those who had been late only by four and twenty hours to have come to the rescue of those unfortunate beings. There is no sadder spot upon the earth than this scene of the most atrocious bloodshed. Death is here associated with all that is darkest in human nature, and darkest in human destiny. By this little cemetery shall the traveller of a distant day stand, to reflect upon those hapless mothers and babies, who fell victims to a massacre the horrors of which even fiction cannot exaggerate, and which is indelible from memory.
The falcon darts not at a wren.
The lion springs not upon a lambkin. The infuriated elephant hurts not an infant. Throughout all Nature weakness has a sacred claim upon strength. Never has a plausible motive been wanting to furnish an excuse for the shedding of feminine or infant blood. To propitiate his cause, had Nana vowed to the Indian Kali to offer a hecatomb of English ladies and children, the madness of superstition would have been a specious apology in the eyes of mankind. But a wanton and cold blooded massacre of innocents who could not elude the grasp, is an act the motive for which is an inexplicable problem in psychology,—and an act which blackens the page of Indian history with the deepest stain.*
Took a gharry to drive down to the Intrenchments. To even the most inexperienced eye is apparent their ill-chosen site in the midst of a maidan far away from the magazine and the river. The position was not more ill-chosen than ill-fortified, and not more illwatered than ill-provisioned. To such an extremity had the garrison been reduced for want of provisions, as to have eaten up a bull, a pariah dog, and an aged horse--fabulous food in this nineteenth century, that is read of in the accounts of old shipwrecks. Three years ago, this was the arena of the greatest of all human struggles -- a struggle between overwhelming hordes and a heroic few, between mind and material, between civilization and barbarism. The shot-pierced
* “It is good that the house and the well of horror have been replaced by a fair garden and a graceful shrine.'- Carnpore.
The Suttee-Chowra Ghaut.
barracks speak of a hotter fire than that of an Indian
The low earthworks have been nearly washed away by the autumnal rains. Cawnpore had no history before—its very name now evokes associations enough to fill
a volume. Next, to the Suttee-Chowra ghaut, so called from Suttees formerly burning themselves here. This is a mile to the north-west of the Intrenchments. There was fire above, the burning straw-roofs of the boats : there was the river below: there was death in the front, and destruction in the rear. In the midst of such an infernal scene closed their career many a worthy being, some shot, others sunk, and the rest slaughtered—their bodies left for a carnival to dogs and vultures. Old Ganges had never been so outraged as on that day, when she had to float down corpses of men, women, and children, murdered under the infatuation of emptying England of Englishmen. The village has met its due. But the temple of the Fishermen's god still stands.
Once, in Hindoo antiquity, the Khetryas were a pampered and high-bearing class like the Sepoys. The modern Sepoy Revolt may find a parallel in the ancient Khetrya revolt. But fable disfigures the account of the excesses of Khetrya domination, and the event has no historic lessons for posterity. But the excesses of Pandy rapacity, licentiousness, and cruelty, shall be a warning to the kings and nations of a distant age. Upon Nana is the mark of Cain, and he is doomed to wander from jungle to jungle—now clambering up the rock, and then