« AnteriorContinuar »
drowning himself. If he does, you are taken a fancy to Reuben, and was to send a servant to me, informing me making fun. They both told me this, of the fact, and go for the drags. If and of course I saw they were right at such a casualty should occur, you are once. Still, I was puzzled at one thing to consider your engagement as termi- more. Why, after he had turned away, nated that day week. I object to did the old gentleman come back after skittles, to potting at public houses, and a few steps, and lay his hands on to running along the towing-path like Reuben's shoulders, looking eagerly into a lunatic, bellowing at the idiots who his face ? Could he see any likeness to row boat-races. Any conversation with his father—to the man who had used my son Erne on the subjects of pigeon- him so cruelly—to Samuel Burton ? I shooting, pedestrianism, bagatelle, all- could not think so. It must have been fours, toy-terriers, or Nonconformist merely an old man's fancy for Reuben's doctrines, will lead to your immediate handsome, merry countenance ; for Sir dismissal. Do you understand ?” George pushed him away with a smile,
I did not; but Emne and Reuben did and bade him go about his business. They understood that the old man had
To be continued.
LETTERS FROM A COMPETITION WALLAH. LETTER IX.-BRITISH TEMPER TOWARDS INDIA, BEFORE, DURING, AND
SINCE THE MUTINY.
dash of illusion. But the same may be CALCUTTA, May 11, 1863. said of every successive stage in the DEAR SIMKINS,—I lately read through progress of knowledge and civilization. a file of the Friend of India, for 1836, Philanthropists are a sanguine class; with great pleasure, not unmingled with and it is well for them that they are regret. The value of such a paper in so. The generation which was deterthese days would be incalculable. The mined to show that Englishmen came tone of the articles indicated the exist- to India with other ends than that of ence in Anglo-Indian society of a spirit making money, and swaggering about which has passed away and left but the “great Anglo-Saxon race," might faint traces. In those times the well- well be forgiven for over-rating the being of the Hindoo was the first and merits of Sanskrit poetry or the attaindearest care of our leading civilians. ments of a Bengalee Bachelor of Arts. Their successors honestly do their duty Once every week, Marshman, the editor by the native population ; but that duty of the Friend of India, would come is no longer a labour of love. Thirty down from Serampore for a conversayears ago the education of the people of tion with the Secretary to Bengal; and the country was the favourite subject the salutary fruits of this close underof conversation in the best circles, and standing between the executive power occupied the spare time of men who and the press were evident, both in the had little enough of that commodity. acts of the Government and the articles Hindoo history, Hindoo literature, Hin- in the Friend. Public measures were doo social life, were discussed with dictated by a spirit of enlightened inexhaustible ardour; and the hopes philosophy, and the suggestions and entertained concerning the future of the disquisitions in the journal were pracrace were proportionate to the interest tical and temperate, and acquired adwhich it excited. Of course this feel- ditional value from the fact that they ing, like all that is noble and unselfish were understood to represent the views in the mind of man, partook of a strong of men in power. A noisy and en
thusiastic breakfast-party frequently of India had been suddenly transformed met to discuss the subject which was into felons and rebels, preordained by next their hearts. Of these men, some Providence to afford food for powder are still doing good work well, while and the gallows. Last, but not most others have passed away, leaving their silent, there was Macaulay, in high mark more or less deeply impressed delight at finding himself in a country on their generation. There was Sir where so much was to be learned, keepEdward Ryan, then Chief Justice of ing the company far on towards noon Bengal, now President of the Civil over the cold curries and empty teaService Commission, whose hearty ad- cups, until the consciousness of accumudress and kindly advice are among the lating bones drove them one by one most agreeable associations which a to their respective offices. Now-a-days young civilian carries from the shores such a reunion would be reviled in the of England. I remember well, that, local papers as a parcel of conspirators on emerging from his pleasant presence, assembled to hatch dark plots against I remarked in the hall a bust'of Dwar- the English name, the planting interest, kanath Thakur, a Hindoo gentleman and the development of the resources for whom Sir Edward entertained a of the country. Under the auspices of strong regard. For our officers were Lord Dalhousie, the harvest which had then not ashamed to call a native by been sown by these men and those who the name of “friend,” and would have thought with them was reaped in a been very much ashamed to talk of him series of wise and beneficent reforms. by the appellation of “nigger,' even But during the reign of the next viceroy without the customary prefix. Then things took a fatal turn. there was young Trevelyan, very vigorous At the commencement of 1857, huand earnest, and very proud of“Dwarky” manity and philanthropy were the order having eaten a mutton-chop in his of the day. We had just brought to house. When Sir Charles returned to an end the Russian war, which had Calcutta, after the lapse of five-and- been fought throughout in a spirit of twenty years, he was mobbed by Hin- generous chivalry, in spite of the efforts doos, Mussulmans, and Parsees, with of those who endeavoured to turn a whom in old days he had hunted and contest waged to preserve the balance travelled and disputed about Persian of power into a murderous struggle of poetry and jurisprudence, and whom embittered nations. It was not many the most excellent Indophilus treated years since we had put down, in a with a courtesy and familiarity which a cheery, off-hand style, an Irish rebelyoung assistant-magistrate of modern lion, which would have furnished our days would scorn to show towards the forefathers with a welcome excuse for proudest zemindar. There was young barbarous severity and prolonged and Colvin, whose destiny was to die sick increased oppression. In 1798, the and weary in the darkest hour of the victorious Orangemen could not be ingreat mutiny, at a time when his duced to spare the lives of a parcel of authority as governor of the North-West clever schoolboys, who talked a little Provinces was confined to the space too much about Brian Boru, and Harcommanded by the guns of the fort of modius, and Aristogiton. In 1848 we Agra : Sir Benjamin Malkin, an able transported the leader of the revolt for judge and a ripe scholar, a man emin a few years, rather because we did not nently distinguished “by public spirit, know what else to do with him, than “ ardent and disinterested, yet always from any desire to make him suffer for “ under the guidance of discretion : " his presumption. When Smith O'Brien Ross Mangles, who, when chairman of was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and the Court of Directors during that quartered, any one who knew the temper eventful year 1857, could never be con- of the nation was perfectly aware that vinced that the mass of the population the value of the life of the condemned
No. 52.- VOL. IX.
rebel, in an annuity office, was as good as that of any other man of his age in the three kingdoms.
Then came the tidings of the out break at Meerut; of the massacre at Delhi. The first impression produced by the intelligence was curiosity mingled with pity, and surprise that any interesting thing could come out of India. But as every mail brought a fresh story of horror and disaster, a significant change came over the face of society. If the sympathy and indignation inspired by an outrage is intense in proportion to the faculty of suffering in the victim, here was a case in which indignation and sympathy could know no bounds ; for the victims belonged to the most refined and enlightened class of the first nation in the world. Ladies, bred and nurtured amidst all that wealth and affection could afford, were dragged along, under a June sun, in the ranks of the mutineers, in hourly expectation, and soon in hourly hope, of death. Officers, who had been trained to the duties of government by the best education which the mother-country could supply, judges, magistrates, men of science, men of letters, were pelted to death with brickbats, or hung, amidst shouts of laughter, after a mock trial. Then from the lowest depths of our nature emerged those sombre, ill-omened instincts, of whose very existence we had ceased to be aware. Intense compassion, intense wrath, the injured pride of a great nation—those combative propensities against which Mr. Bright has so often testified in vain-surged in upon the agitated community. It was tacitly acknowledged that mercy, charity, the dignity and sacredness of human life—those great principles which, at ordinary times, are recognised as eternally true_must be put aside till our sway was restored and our name avenged. It is well that nations, as men, should pray to be delivered from temptation, Two years of civil war have changed the people who boasted themselves to be ahead of the universe in the march of progress, into a society of combatants, without habeas corpus, or free-trade, or
decency, or self-respect, or gold, or a single friend and admirer, except some ignorant mechanics, and a few men of thought, who have pinned their reputation to the cause of the United States. Two months of Nana Sabib brought about an effect on the English character at the recollection of which Englishmen at home have already learned to blush, but the lamentable consequences of which will be felt in India for generations yet unborn or unthought of.
Who does not remember those days, when a favourite amusement on a wet afternoon, for a party in a country house, was to sit on and about the billiard-table devising tortures for the Nana; when the palm was given to that ingenious gentleman who proposed that he should be forced, first, to swallow a tumbler of water in which all the blue papers in a seidlitz-powder box had been emptied, and then a tumbler with the contents of all the white papers in a state of solution ? when every one chuckled to hear how General Neill had forced high Brahmans to sweep up the blood of the Europeans murdered at Cawnpore, and then strung them in a row, without giving them the time requisite for the rites of purification ? It is singular that he imitated in every particular the conduct of Telemachus towards the maid-servants who had lent too kind an ear to those suitors who were content to fly at low game, with a view, I presume, to keep their hands in during the intervals of their more ambitious courtship. Every one chuckled, with the exception of a certain evangelical paper, which remonstrated with the General for depriving these poor men of their chances of salvation ! “Have you heard the news ?” said a celebrated author to an acquaintance, as they stood together under the porch of the Athenæum. “The Sepoys have taken to inflicting the most exquisite cruelties upon the Sikhs, and the Sikhs in return swear that they will cut the throat of every Sepoy who comes in their way. These are the sort of tidings that now-a-days fill every heart in England with exultation and thankfulness."
During the first debate at the Union the dogged pertinacity of their race, men Society, in my first term, an orator went forth over the face of the land to wound up with these remarkable words: shcot, and sabre, and hang, and blow “When the rebellion has been crushed from guns, till the work should be ac“out from the Himalayas to Comorin; complished. It was generally understood “when every gibbet is red with blood; that no one would be called in question “when every bayonet creaks beneath its for having erred on the side of severity. “ ghastly burden ;1 when the ground in Many a one of those good-humoured " front of every cannon is strewn with agreeable civilians with whom you canter “rags, and flesh, and shattered bone ;- along the course, or play billiards at the “then talk of mercy. Then you may club, who are so forgiving when you "find some to listen. This is not the revoke palpably and inexcusably, and so “time." This peroration was received ready with their letters of introduction with a tumult of applause by an as- and offers of hospitality-many a one of sembly whose temper is generally charac- them has witnessed strange scenes, and terised by mild humanity, modified by could tell strange tales. He could tell an idolatrous attachment to the memory how he has ridden into some village in of Archbishop Laud. If you turn over Shahabad or the Dooab, with a dozen the volume of Punch for the latter half troopers at his heels ; how he has called of 1857, you will probably open on a for a drink of milk, and taken his seat picture representing a big female, with under a tree, pistol in hand, while his a helmet and a long sword, knocking men ferreted out the fugitive mutineers about a black man, in appearance some- who had found their way home to seek thing between a gorilla and a soldier in concealment and sustenance among their one of our West Indian regiments, who relations and neighbours; how very is standing over a dead woman and short a trial sufficed to convict those child. Two palm-trees in the back- who were accused of housing and abetground mark the locality, and the whole ting the rebels; and how, as he left for production is labelled “Justice,” or the next camping-ground, he pretended " Nemesis,” or “O God of Battles, steel not to observe his followers stealing my soldiers' hearts !” What must have back to recover their picket-ropes. There been the fury of the outburst which is a degree of mutual terror which almost could transport to such lengths that necessitates mutual extermination. At good-natured and sensible periodical, a time when the safety of India depended which so admirably reflects the opinions on the Punjab, and the safety of the of a good-natured and sensible nation! Punjab hung on a single hair (and,
Such was the feeling in England; thank God, that single hair was a strong and, being such, it was only the one, for it was Sir John Lawrence), a faint shadow of the state of things in native regiment quartered in that proIndia. For out here men were in vince, unable to resist the epidemic of fluenced, not only by pity and wrath, sedition, mutinied and left the cantonintensified by the immediate presence ments. An energetic civil officer started of the objects of those passions, but by off in pursuit with the slender force of shame, by the bitterness of bereavement sixty-six policemen, brought the mutiand ruin, by an ever-present fear, by neers to bay, and, by a rare display of the consciousness of an awful risk which audacity and craft, captured them to a they had barely escaped, and of innu- man. It is more easy to blame what merable perils still to come. History followed than to say how he should have shudders at the recollection of the terrible acted under the circumstances. It would “Spanish fury” which desolated Antwerp have been madness to send off a compact in the days of William the Silent; but and numerous force with tickets of leave the “English fury” was more terrible to recruit the rebel garrison of Delhi. still. With the grim determination and At the same time, Sir Joshua Jebb himi Sic in orig. self would have hesitated before he undertook to guard a battalion of regular sepoy. While dismounting to recover troops with a handful of native police- it he was separated from his squadron, men, who were themselves at that and surrounded by a party of desperate moment on the eve of an outbreak. Pandies, who, being perfectly aware that One course remained. There is a closer their last hour was come, were desirous prison than a Government jail : a surer of opening to themselves the gates of sentry than a Punjabee chokedar. the celestial Zenana by the sacrifice of so
When first I came out there were two redoubted a Sahib. My friend sheltered gentlemen here who were considered the himself as best he could behind his most welcome addition to Calcutta society. horse's neck, and kept the assailants off One was a jolly comical-looking chap, an with his revolver, till two faithful Punexcellent officer, and a capital man for a jabees galloped back to his assistance. small dinner-party. The other was most Meanwhile, he had shot three men dead refined and intelligent, with a remark- on the spot, each with a bullet through ably courteous and winning address. It the brain. He took part in the pursuit was said that these two had hung more of Coer Sing from Lucknow to the people than any other men in India. Ganges. On the night before that old The jolly fellow was supposed to have warrior succeeded in passing the river, been somewhat too indiscriminate in his a picket was posted to keep watch upon choice of subjects, while it was generally the rebels, who were quartered in and allowed that the other had turned off no near a populous village. From time to one who did not richly deserve it. Mr. time the country-people came in with Hume, of Etawah, who was blamed by the intelligence that the enemy were many for excess of leniency, but who so still there, until their importunate desire bore himself that no one could blame to give information roused a suspicion him for want of courage, distinguished that all was not right. We advanced himself by keeping down the number of cautiously, and found that Coer Sing executions in his district to seven, and had stolen away, and was already well by granting the culprits a fair trial on his road towards the ferry. After These he treated with fatherly tender the affair had terminated in the escape of ness, for he invented a patent drop for the mutineers, our commanding officer their benefit; so that men prayed sent back his cavalry, with orders to first, that they might be tried by Mr. take signal vengeance on the peasants Hume, and next, that, if found guilty, whose treachery had foiled his carefullythey might be hanged by him. One concerted plan. The regiment surmorning I was lounging in the room of rounded the village, set the roofs on a very good friend of mine, one of the fire, looted the dwellings of what cloth youngest captains in the army, who went and grain they contained, stripped the through as much rough-and-tumble women of their bangles and anklets, and fighting as could be squeezed into twelve put all the males to the edge of the sword. months, and who came out of the busi- This was only one among many like ness with the reputation of being a first- deeds, deeds of which every one approves rate cavalry officer. We were overhaul at the time, but which afterwards no ing his collection of guns, trying the one cares to justify or to discusss. We locks, and criticizing the grooving, as little dream what a dire and grim signimen do on such occasions, when I re- ficance is attached by many a widow and marked, suspended in the place of orphan in Oude or Bahar to the names honour, an archaic rickety revolver, and of some who appear to us the mildest an old cut-and-thrust sword, with a bright and most lovable of human beings. In notched blade, and a well-worn leathern the eyes of only too many Roman handle. Those were not holiday weapons. matrons Cæsar was the most attractive Once, when charging a couple of hun- and insinuating among the young swells dred of the famous Dinapore mutineers, of his day; whether amiability and he left that sword in the body of a tenderness formed the leading features