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won field of battle.
They were praised without stint and measure, and began to think themselves equal to the European soldiers, by whose side they had fought, and bled and conquered.
The internal organization of the more and more preponderating body of Brahmans, Rajpoots, and their dependents, the 80-called “ caste Hindus," was hy degrees perfected.
The Brahmanical interest formed an “imperium in imperio.” Most regiments became close boroughs, hermetically sealed from the knowledge and interference of their own officers and of the Government. The wily Brahmans well knew how to turn to account the faults of the military system, and the prejudices, the fears, the vanity of their commandants and officers, for carrying on systematically, under a hundred pretexts of privilege, caste, and religion, their encroachments upon legitimate military authority. “The Brahmans” were far more feared than the power of Government. A subadar of the 34th regiment, after his discharge at Barrackpore, bitterly complained of his misfortune. He was told that his punishment was just; he protested his innocence. He was reminded, that, if he himself were loyal, yet he must have been cognizant of the treasonable designs of others, and ought to have denounced them.
He replied: "Impossible !” Had I given information, how could I have been sure of finding credit with
Government? but had I taken this course, I would have been ' certain of being killed by the Brahmans. A sepoy, indeed, ' did give information ; he was superciliously handed over to a & committee of rative officers, who had no difficulty in proving, " that he was a habitual drunkard, and subject to fits of insanity.'
The insolent pride, and the dangerous disposition of the great body of the Bengal army, vere strangely favored by the fatal policy of the Home Government, who, though fully aware of the serious defects of their military administration in India, and in spite of repeated warnings, given by officers of great discernment and large experience, not only failed to increase the strength of their European troops, in proportion to the growth of their territory, but actually diminished it, in order to make some inconsiderable saying in their Indian military expenditure (£10,000,000 per annum) at the risk, it might be, of immense losses, in case of failure, yea of irretrievable ruin. They have acted like a desperate merchant, who orders his vessel to sea, though aware of her unsound condition; he himself stays at home, letting the captain and crew take their chance, and hoping for the best. The season passes, the ship returns safe. Next season she is painted fresh and put to sea again. If there be no tempestuous weather, if her commander be vigilant, and the crew active, she may, though a rotten concern, yet perform many
THE INDIAN CRISIS OF 1857.
a voyage. But the first hurricane will break her to pieces, when all hands will perish, and the freight go to the bottom of the
Precisely in this manner have the Home Government treated their Indian empire. They knew, certainly ought to have known, the impending danger; but looked on. The cyclone has burst, and it is no merit of theirs, that all has not been lost.
The Indian Government has been unequal to the task imposed upon it, for two principal reasons. Its most serious defect has been want of principle, political, moral, or religious. All its wisdom was the wisdom of expediency. There was not boldness enough to break with the ancient traditions of India, and to proclaim themselves, and to act as, lords paramount, in the name of God, of all India. A pageant court was still kept at Delhi at a great expense, with much inconvenience, and, as events have shown, much danger. It was not long ago, that, by the acknowledgment of a grandson of the old king as legal successor, the Government, of their own choice, perpetuated the nuisance. The Government knew, that in many parts of India they were cheated out of a large amount of revenue by surreptitious enams, and by alienations of revenue, which they had a perfect right, according to ancient usage, to resume. But they had not the heart to use their right, and preferred to leave the laboring millions unrelieved, for the benefit of a thousand drones. They might have dictated to those dependent princes, whose thrones were supported by the bayonets of the Company's troops, the lessons of humane and sound policy in a much more straightforward manner, and acted as the true friends of oppressed people, who are kept in bondage through the power and the name of the Company ; but they have forborne.
What idea can Hindus, be they sepoys or ryots, form of the moral character of their Government, when its manifold undeni. able excellencies are marred by blemishes inexplicable, except on the ground of insatiable thirst for money, the auri sacra fames, one of the principal vices of the sepoy ; viz. the large and increasing revenue derived from the sale of spirits, utterly repugnant to the Hindu idea of a paternal government, and the yearly income of about four millions of pounds, gotten by the cul. tivation and manufacture, on account of Government, of opium, smuggled into China, under the protection of the British flag, contrary to imperial edicts, contrary to international law, contrary to the dictates of honor and humanity, because the Indian exchequer wants money, and must have money per fas aut nefas ?
As for religious principle, the Indian Government have never pretended to have any. It was long doubtful to the Hindus, if Englishmen had or had not any kind of religion. Things
have mended very much. Bishops have come, churches have been built, colleges founded, missions established, popular education has commenced. But both Hindus and Mussulmans still look upon Government as supporters of their religious establishments. The word of God is still excluded from the schools, established and maintained by a professedly Christian Government, and when a Governor General, who is attacked at home on account of acts of Christian liberality, and whose Christian character stands unimpeached, proclaims a public day of humiliation and prayer,
he is led to consider it politic to avoid in his proclamation the name of “Christian” subjects, or of “Christ.” The mo. tives of such a wisdom are utterly incomprehensible to natives of the East, who consider the open profession of religion a point of honor, and dissimulation a sign or mark of utter infamy, and slavish meanness.
The second great deficiency has been that of power, either material or spiritual. Had there been a sufficiently large European army, sepoy insubordination and insolence would have been kept within bounds. The Bengalis, as we have remarked above, would never have risen, if there had been 30,000 European bayonets in sight. But in material power the Government has been for years lamentably deficient. And of the higher spiritual power there has been a total absence. Had the Government of India stood before their subjects in the attitude of Godfearing, God-honoring, and God-serving rulers, a character perfectly compatible with the largest toleration, the most even-handed justice, the most perfect integrity, the most sympathizing humanity, but altogether incompatible with the temporizing, dissimulating, halt-and-lame policy, whose highest principle is that of expediency ; had the people of India, had the native army perceived in their Christian rulers something of the old protestant, Cromwellian, true British spirit, they would have felt as if all the powers of heaven and earth were in league with their masters, and would have thought it madness to rise against them, or had they risen, they would soon have found it madness indeed.
But the fiendish spirit of the mutinous army found itself op. posed by no such power. Before a bold Christian spirit, it would have quailed. They stood not in awe of the Government, which they determined to resist, whose timid-looking mildness and moderation provoked their insolence, and whose most solemn declarations and manifestoes they impudently derided.
The chief blame which rests on the officers of the Bengal army is their un-English spirit of yielding to and coquetting with the unreasonable arrogance of their high-caste sepoys. In former days it was said, that Englishmen coming to India left
their religion at the Cape of Good Hope. The British officer of the Bengal army seemed to have left his native pride at home. He knew, might have known, ought to have known, in what estimation he was held by high-caste Brahmanism, but was content to be looked down upon by the noble twice-born, and prided himself on his management and tact, if he succeeded in keeping the priestly race nominally under his command in tolerably good humour by a steady perseverance in cool and studied complaisance and subserviency. The sepoys avere in fact masters; their officers felt it, knew it, and succumbed. They were aware of their absolute ignorance of every thing that was going on within the inner circle of the regiment; they were aware, that there were many things—perhaps matters of imporance-discussed, determined upon by the men of their companies and of their regiment at large, of which they saw and heard nothing-and contented themselves with their ignorance. They were proud of the noble blood of their sepoys, as gentlemen are proud of Arab blood horses, and overlooked the intractable viciousness of their favorites, or tried to forget it, and never cared to reflect that the men, whom they admired so much, requited their admiration with the most thorough scorn and contempt. Outward appearances were specious enough. The sepoys, tall, broad-chested, handsome, noble-looking men, admirable parade soldiers, knew well how to pay outward respect, and how to conciliate officers by show of politeness. The officers on the other hand took pains to humor and to conciliate their men. But, with more or less rare exceptions, the intercourse between the two classes was insincere and hollow; and on the part of the sepoys, as events have lamentably proved, full of treacherous hypocrisy. 3. But now the question forces itself upon us.
How was it possible for such an army to hold together for years and years ? What magic power kept the volcano of revolt quiet? Our answer is : The charm of silver produced that semblance of order, subordination, discipline, and loyalty, which deceived many of the ignorant, and suggested thoughts of comfort and hopefulness to those who had looked behind the scenes, leading them to indulge in the idea that the catastrophe, which had been impending so long, might be staved off still longer by the mercy of providence.
The certainty of liberal pay and pension, combined with the full assurance, that their rulers had made up their minds to yield to their sepoys as far as possible, to humor and indulge them in all matters connected with, or said to be connecteil with caste or religion, serveil for a long period to keep the Bengal army, though mutinous to the core, from actual recolt.
The love of pay and pension, the security of which depended upon the continuance of the British Government, was the powerful magnet, which kept the more and more dangerously oscillating needle of the Bengal sepoys' fealty true to the point of outward obedience. Attachment to the Government, which they had sworn to serve, there was very little, if any, in the hearts of the sepoys. Their traditionary loyalty to their salt had long evaporated; respect for the Government, who had so often given in to the insolent pretensions of their mercenaries, there was none. They had ceased to fear the power of those, whose temporizing policy had impressed the overbearing prætorians with the conviction, that they were themselves dreaded by their masters. They considered themselves the main-stay and prop of a foreign Government, and were easily persuaded by their vanity and pride, that their rulers were completely at
But the Brahman sepoy, while he felt himself fully able, whenever he were so pleased, to subvert the Government of the Company, was yet too shrewd to kill the goose, which -sure as the changes of the moon-laid the golden egg for him twelve times a year. Therefore he chose to be quiet. Therefore he determined on keeping up the show of as much loyalty as was absolutely necessary. He was richly rewarded for his forbearance. One Bengal regiment, during its sojourn in Pegu, laid by three lacs of rupees, which were invested in Company's paper. Such men could not have had—at that time—the intention of revolting against the guardians of their hoards. Thus the notorious avarice of the sepoy was the sheet-anchor, which kept the vessel of the Bengal army-within hearing, within sight almost of the breakers of mutiny-in tolerable safety.
4. At length, however, the cable snapped, under an increasing pressure of tide and current, and an extraordinary strain of tempestuous weather. We shall endeavour to present a general outline of the principal circumstances, which of late years have contributed to unsettle the minds of the dominating majority among the Bengal troops, and the various influences of good and evil, which have of late been at work in the atmosphere of the Bengal army, the sudden combination of which has produced the violent storm, whose thunders have rolled over all India, and are now re-echoing from England ; whose lightnings have shattered the high prestige of the Company's name, scattered to the winds the faded glory of the Mogul, and deluged with blood the fairest provinces of Hindustan.
The world seemed to change during the last years. Steam formed an invisible bridge between the east and the west, shortening year by year. It carried India to England, brought England to India. The stream of passengers between the high places of India and seat of power in Europe, became broader and