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to which the British had no right to make any appointment, and in throwing the shield of the Embassy not only over Meerza Hashem, but over Meerza Hashem's wife, Murray was guilty of grave indiscretions. Great Governments must, perhaps, support their agents at barbarous Courts; but, if true justice had been done in 1856, the British Ministry would have recalled its own agent instead of insisting on the dismissal of the Persian Minister. 1
Yet, if it be difficult to justify the conduct of the ministry, never before had peace been more opportune. For, while British statesmen had been nervously gazing at the movements of Persian and Afghan on the North-Western frontier of India, they had been characteristically overlooking a far greater danger which was rapidly assuming huge dimensions in the British dominions.
If, indeed, British statesmen had paused to consider the circumstances under which India had been won and on which it was held, they would have found room enough for anxiety and disquietude. Ninety-nine persons out of every hundred, however, who ever turned their thoughts to Indian politics, probably regarded India as a great country which had been conquered by men of British race, and which was held by the armed strength of Britain. Every one of these propositions contained a fallacy. India is not a great country in the sense in which that phrase is usually understood. It is what Metternich declared Italy to be-a geographical abstraction. It contains men of different races, different languages, and different creeds, who have no common bond of union except the circumstance that they all inhabit the same great peninsula. Nor was this India, thus variously inhabited, ever conquered by men of British origin. The soldiers who fought at Plassey and the soldiers who fought at Chillianwalla were mainly drawn from India itself, India,
The state of India.
1 In this account of the Persian war of 1856 I have avoided entering into the negotiations with Dost Mahonimed which were concurrently undertaken by the British. They will be found described in Kaye's Sepoy War, vol. i. pp. 427-443. VOL. VI.
and Native troops in India.
too, has not only supplied the troops by whom India has been gradually won for England, she has also supplied the garrison by which India has been held. It was to Native troops that the British victories were largely due; it was on Native troops that England mainly relied to sustain her authority.
The rapid accumulation of territory which this century witnessed led to large additions to the Native Indian army.
In 1838, when the Afghan war broke out, “the total portion of European
Native force was under 154,000 men.” In 1845 it was raised to 245,000 men; and at the close of
Dalhousie's administration it included 233,000 men. But, while this prodigious increase was made in the roll of the Native troops, no corresponding additions were sanctioned to the numbers of the European army maintained in India. On the contrary, the Crimean war, by producing a new demand for British regiments, necessitated the recall of European regiments to Europe; and the total number of European troops suffered a gradual diminution from 48,709, at which it had stood in 1852, to 45,322, at which it stood when Dalhousie closed his government of India.1
At the time, therefore, at which Dalhousie left, and Canning reached, India, the country was held by some 233,000 Native and by some 45,000 British troops. Of recent years the Indian garrison has consisted of 180,000 men, of whom i man in every 3 is a European. While, then, of recent years it has been thought necessary to maintain 1 British soldier to every 2 Natives, Dalhousie left behind him only 1 British soldier for every 5 Natives. Nor did these figures represent the whole truth. It has been sometimes said, on the authority of a parliamentary paper, that there was only 1 European to every 9 Natives in the Bombay army, i European to every 163 Natives in the Madras army, and only i European to every
1 Duke of Argyll, India under Lord Dalhousie, pp. 58, 63; Hints on the Reorganisation of the Bengal Army by Colonel Hough, p. 4; Holmes's History of the Indian Mutiny, p. 64, and notes; Kaye's Sepoy War, vol. i. p. 341, where Sir J. Kaye says somewhat rhetorically, “Stated in round numbers, it may be said that the normal state of things, for some years, had been that there was an army of 300,oco men, of which 40,000 were European troops."
243 Natives in the Bengal army. But these figures, though they are quoted by respectable authorities, are calculated to mislead. They do not take cognisance of all the European troops employed in India, but only of that portion of them which was comprised in the Company's army. In addition to the Company's troops, a considerable number of regiments of the regular army were maintained in Hindostan, many of which were stationed in Bengal. But the events of the last few years had destroyed the cohesion of this force. The necessities of the Crimean war had actually led to a reduction in the number of battalions stationed in the Presidency; and those which remained, instead of being quartered over the Lower Provinces, were sent to garrison the new acquisitions in the Punjab, in Scinde, and in Oudh.
“Twenty years before there had not been less than six European regiments in the Lower Provinces between Calcutta and Allahabad. Dalhousie found in the same space only two regiments, and he was never able to increase the number.” 2
Thus it is evident that, while the red line which marked the boundary of British territory on the map of India was constantly advancing, the red line which supported and consolidated the Indian army was as regularly getting relatively and actually thinner. For good or for evil, the British were more and more relying on Native troops, and India was being held more and more for the British Crown by natives of the Indian soil.
The troops on which the British were thus mainly relying for the maintenance of their authority were composed of men of different races and different creeds. But they The Native were chiefly drawn from the Mohammedan and troops. the Hindoo races. As a general rule, so wrote the author
1 See Parl. Papers, 1857 (Mutinies in India), p. 9; Lieutenant-Colonel Hough's pamphlet on the Reorganisation of the Indian Army, p. 5; and cf. Martin's Indian Empire, vol. ii. p. 125, quoted in Holmes's History of the Indian Mutiny, p. 65, note.
2 Duke of Argyll, India under Lord Dalhousie, p. 62. Canning, in May 1857, said that in 750 miles, from Barrackpore to Agra, “there is one European regiment at Dinapore, and that is all.” Kaye's Sepoy War, vol. ii. p. III.
of the Native army.
of a famous pamphlet, the Hindoo was to the Mohammedan in the proportion of 5 to 1.1 The Hindoos were divided into Brahmins or priests, Rajpoots or soldiers, and men of inferior caste; and the Brahmins exercised a preponderating influence among all the Hindoos. It may, therefore, be roughly computed that at the end of Dalhousie's administration from 75 to 80 per cent of the Bengal army was composed of Hindoos; and it may be added that the whole of these troops were under Brahminical influence.2
The good conduct of the Native army had passed into an axiom. It had shared with British troops the glories of a The services
dozen campaigns. It was the Native soldier-the Sipahi, or Sepoy, as his British employer spelt the
word—who had done chief service in every great battle which had illustrated the career of the British in India. The sepoy had laid the foundations of an Empire on the field of Plassey; he had carried Seringapatam ; he had helped to win for Wellington his maiden victory at Assaye; he had perished with his British comrades in the memorable retreat from Cabul; he had done his best to restore the British cause by joining in the defence of Allahabad and in the advance of Pollock; he had participated in the glories of Meeanee; he had charged the Sikh entrenchments at Sobraon. Led by British officers, supported by British troops, commanded by British generals, the sepoy had displayed fidelity and courage in a hundred fields. “I have seen most of the armies of the world,” wrote Napier in 1850,3 " and I have never seen one
i Red Pamphlet, Part i. p. 6. In 1852 the Bengal infantry contained 1118 Christians, 12,699 Mohammedans, 26,983 Brahmins, 27,335 Rajpoots, 15,761 Hindoos (inferior castes), and 50 Sikhs. Lieutenant-Colonel Hough's pamphlet, p. 7.
2 “ If a low-caste Hindoo happened to fill the responsible post of subahdar (the highest Native officer), he would be entirely under the spiritual guiding of the Brahminical clique. Were a mutiny hatching in the lines, he would not dare to divulge it, from the fear of a penalty more dreadful even than death, excommunication." Red Pamphlet, p. 7; and cf. Colonel Hough's pamphlet, p. 12, and note.
3 This opinion, perhaps, bears requoting, though it is familiar to most persons from having been quoted by Dalhousie and Wellington, Corre. spondence relating to Resignation of Sir C. Napier, pp. 17, 59.
that is better cared for than the army of the East India Company. Neither have I ever seen a more obedient, more honourable army."
Yet the sepoy, though he had on the whole earned his character as a faithful and brave soldier, had occasionally displayed symptoms of a wayward disobedience which at rare intervals had ripened into actual mutiny. Even in the The earlier eighteenth century a serious rising was stamped the Native out by a stern act of repression;1 and, in the first army. quarter of the nineteenth century, two memorable outbreaks occurred-one in 1806, the other in 1824. The former, which is known in history as the Vellore Mutiny, was in some respects a prototype of the great rising which succeeded it more than half a century afterwards. Illconsidered orders affecting the drill and dress of the soldier gave Mohammedan and Hindoo agitators an excuse for saying that the distinctions of caste were to be swept away in order that the men might be forced more readily to adopt the Christian religion. The family of Tippoo Sultan, detained in honourable captivity at Vellore, naturally encouraged suspicions which gave them hopes of recovering their lost dominions. The fanatics in the army were thus stirred by fear, the traitors in the army were thus roused by ambition, to rise against their employers and strike down the British troops in the garrison. But their success was neither complete nor of long duration. An officer of the garrison, appreciating the crisis, carried news of the mutiny in hot haste to the neighbouring station of Arcot. Gillespie, who commanded a regiment of British cavalry at that station, lost no time in bringing succour to the beleaguered men. Swift in coming, sharp in striking, his troopers dealt terrible retribution to the mutineers. British writers who mention the massacre of Vellore allude to the murder of a portion of the garrison by the mutineers. An Indian writer who employed
i For the mutiny and its repression, see Holmes's History of the Indian Mutiny, p. 50; Thornton, vol. i. p. 452.