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The capture of Delhi was effected on September 20th.
The siege had been long and difficult; and for some time it did not seem to the general in command, Archdale Wilson, that the small force he had could with any hope of success attempt to carry the city by assault. Colonel Baird Smith, who was chief of the engineer department, urged the attempt strongly on him; and at length it was made, and made with success, though not without many moments when failure seemed inevitable. Brigadier-General Nicholson led the storming columns, and paid for his bravery and success the price of a gallant life. He was shot through the body, and died three days after the English standard had been planted on the roof of the palace of the Moguls. Nicholson was one of the bravest and most capable officers whom the war produced. It is worthy of record as an evidence of the temper aroused even in men from whom better things might have been expected, that Nicholson strongly urged the passing of a law to authorize flaying alive, impalement, or burning of the murderers of the women and children in Delhi. He contended that “the idea of simply hanging the perpetrators of such atrocities is maddening." He urged this view again and again, and deliberately argued it on grounds alike of policy and principle. The fact is recorded here not in mere disparagement of a brave soldier, but as an illustration of the manner in which the old elementary passions of
man's untamed condition can return upon him in his pride of civilization and culture, and make him their slave again.
The taking of Delhi was followed by an act over which, from that time to the present, a controversy has been arising at intervals. A young officer, Hodson, of “Hodson's Horse," was acting as chief of the Intelligence Department. He had once been in a civil charge in the Punjaub, and had been dismissed for arbitrary and high-handed conduct toward an influential chief of the district. He had been striving hard to distinguish himself, and to regain a path to success, and as the leader of the little force known as Hodson's Horse he had given evidence of remarkable military capacity. He was especially distinguished by an extraordinary blending of cool calculating craft and reckless daring. He knew exactly when to be cautious and when to risk everything on what to other eyes might have seemed a madman's throw. He now offered to General Wilson to capture the king and the royal family of Delhi. General Wilson gave him author. ity to make the attempt, but stipulated that the life of the king should be spared. By the help of native spies Hodson discovered that when Delhi was taken the king and his famn. ily had taken refuge in the tomb of the Emperor Hoomayoon, a structure which, with the buildings surrounding and belonging to it, constituted a sort of suburb in itself. Hodson went boldly to this place with a few of his troopers. He found that the royal family of Delhi were surrounded there by a vast crowd of armed and to all appearance desperate adherents. This was one of the moments when Hodson's indomitable daring stood him in good stead. He called upon them all to lay down their arms at once; and the very audacity of the order made them suppose he had force at hand capable of compelling obedience. They threw down their arms, and the king surrendered himself to Hodson. Next day Hodson captured the three royal princes of Delhi. He tried, condemned, and executed them himsclı, and in
the spot. That is to say, he treated them as rebels taken red-handed, and borrowing a carbine from one of his troop. ers, he shot them dead with his own hand. Their corpses, half-naked, were exposed for some days at one of the gates of Delhi. Hodson did the deed deliberately. Many days before he had a chance of doing it he wrote to a friend to say that if he got into the palace of Delhi, “the House of Timour will not be worth five minutes' purchase, I ween." On the day after the deed he wrote: “In twenty-four hours I disposed of the principal members of the House of Timour the Tartar. I am not cruel; but I confess that I do rejoice in the opportunity of ridding the earth of these ruffians." Sir J. W. Kaye, who comments on Hodson's deed with a just and manly severity, says: “I must aver without hesi. tation that the general feeling in England was one of pro. found grief not unmingled with detestation. I never heard the act approved; I never heard it even defended.” Sir J. W. Kaye was more fortunate than the writer of this book, who has frequently heard it defended, justified, and glorified ; and has a distinct impression that the more general tendency of public opinion in England at the time was to regard Hodson's act as entirely patriotic and laudable. If in cool blood the deed could now be de. fended, it might be necessary to point out that there was no evidence whatever of the princes having taken any part in the massacre of Europeans in Delhi ; that even evidence to that effect were forthcoming, Hodson did not wait for or ask for it ; and that the share taken by the princes in an effort to restore the dynasty or their ancestor, however it might have justified some sternness of punishment on the part of the English government, was not a crime of that order which is held in civilized warfare to put the life of its author at the mercy of any one who captures him when the struggle is all over, and the reign of law is safe. One cannot read the history of this Indian Mutiny without coming to the con
clusion that in the minds of many Englishmen a temporary prostration of the moral sense took place, under the influence of which they came to regard the measure of the enemy's guilt as the standard for their right of retaliation, and to hold that if he had no conscience they were thereby released from the necessity of having any. As Mr. Disraeli put it, they were making Nana Sahib the model for the British officer to imitate. Hodson was killed not long after ; we might well wish to be free to allow him to rest without censure in his untimely grave. He was a brave and clever soldier, but one who unfortunately allowed a fierce temper to “overcrow," as the Elizabethan writers would have put it, the better instincts of his nature, and the guidance of a cool judgment.
General Havelock made his way to the relief of Lucknow. Sir James Outram, who had returned from Persia, had been sent to Oudh with full instructions to act as chief commissioner. He had complete civil and military authority. Ap. pearing on the scene armed with such powers, he would in the natural order of things have superseded Havelock, who had been fighting his way so brilliantly, in the face of a thousand dangers, to the relief of the beleaguered English in Lucknow. But Outram was not the man to rob a brave and successful comrade of the fruits of his toil and peril. Outram wrote to Havelock. “To you shall be left the glory of relieving Lucknow, for which you have struggled so much. I shall accompany you only in my civil capacity as commis. sioner, placing my military service at your disposal should you please, and serving under you as a volunteer." Havelock was enabled to continue his victorious march. He fought battle after battle against forces far superior in num. ber to his own, and on September 25th he was able to relieve the besieged English at Lucknow. His coming, it can hardly be doubted, saved the women and children from such a massacre as that of Cawnpore ; but Havelock had not the
force that might have driven the rebels out of the field. His little army, although he had been reinforced by the coming of Sir James Outram, was yet entirely inadequate to the task which circumstances had imposed on it. The enemy soon recovered from any momentary panic into which they had been thrown by Havelock's coming, and renewed the siege ; and if England had not been prepared to make greater efforts for the rescue of her imperilled people, it is but too probable that the troops whom Havelock brought to the relief of Lucknow would only have swelled the number of the victims. But in the mean time the stout soldier, Sir Colin Campbell, whom we have already heard of in the Crimean campaign, had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Indian forces, and had arrived in India. He received, it was said, the announcement of the task assigned to him one afternoon in London, and before the evening he was on his way to the scene of his command. He arrived in Cawnpore in November 3d, and he set out for Lucknow on the 9th. He had, however, to wait for reinforcements, and it was not until the 4th that he was able to attack. Even then he had under his command only some 5000 men, a force miserably inferior in number to that of the enemy; but in those days an English officer thought himself in good condition to attack if the foe did not outnumber him by more than four or five to one. A series of actions was fought by Sir Colin Campbell and his little force, attacking the enemy on the one side, who were attacked at the same time by the besieged garrison of the residency. On the morning of November 17th Outram and Havelock, with their staff officers, were able to join Campbell before the general action was over, and by the combind efforts of both forces the enemy was dislodged. Sir Colin Campbell resolved, however, that the residency must be evacuated ; and accordingly on the 19th heavy batteries were opened against the enemy's position, as if for the purpose of assault, and under