The Causes of the Indian Revolt
Written by SAYYID AHMED KHAN BAHADUR, C.S.I. IN URDOO, IN THE YEAR 1858, AND TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH. by HIS TWO EUROPEAN FRIENDS, BENARES, MEDICAL HALL PRESS. 1873.
EDITED by FRANCES W. PRITCHETT, 2005
The following pages though written in 1858 have not yet been published. I publish them now as, although many years have elapsed since they were indited, nothing has occurred to cause me to change my opinions. An honest exposition of Native ideas is all that our Government requires to enable it to hold the country with the full concurrence of its inhabitants and not merely by the sword.
INTRODUCTION: IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE
"Obedience and submission become the servant;
Forgiveness is the attribute of God:
If I should do amiss
Reward me as seemeth right in Thine eyes."
Since I began this Essay on the causes of the Rebellion in Hindustan I have been tempted to keep silence on the events of the past, and even to wish my remembrance of them should be blotted out. The proclamation issued by Her Majesty contains such ample redress for every grievance which led up to that revolt, that a man writing on the subject feels his pen fall from his hands. Why enter further into the matter when the cause of all the dissatisfaction has been discovered and provided against? Yet I think that loyal men, and such as really wish well to their government, should not content themselves with reflection: but explain with all possible fidelity, their views on the origin of this rebellion. Although, therefore, the causes of complaint have been met, and the grievances redressed, I think it my duty to record my opinion on the subject. That many well-informed, able, and experienced men have written on the causes of the disturbance, I know; but I am not aware that any native of the country has hitherto been among their number. I venture therefore, publicly to express my opinion.
[0.0] WHAT WERE THE CAUSES OF THE REBELLION IN HINDUSTAN?
[0.1] Definition of "Rebellion" exemplified with instances.
Before answering this question, let us ask what is the meaning of the word, Rebellion. To fight against the Government, to aid and assist those who are resisting the authority of Government, to set at nought, and disobey the orders of Government with a view to resist its authority, or with contempt and disrespect to infringe the rights of Government, and disregard its prerogations; in any, or in all of these, I take it that RebeIlion consists.
LET US CLEARLY RECAPITULATE THE ABOVE.
1. To fight with. or oppose, the servants, or subjects
2. To neglect, and set at nought the Orders of Government, with a view to resist its authority.
3. To aid and assist or in any way take part with those who are in open opposition to Government.
4. To shew a turbulent disposition, and such as is likely to lead a lawless riot, and disregard of the Authority of Government.
5. To swerve at heart from respect and loyalty to the Government; and in times of trouble, to withhold from it an active support.
In that sad year, 1857, there was not one of these forms of rebeIlion which did not find a place. There are but few men in truth, even amongst the best of us, who may not be convicted under the latter head; which though in appearance of little import, is in reality of no smaIl weight.
[0.2] Why it is resorted to.
The primary causes of rebeIlion are, I fancy, everywhere the same. It invariably results from the existence of a policy obnoxious to the dispositions, aims, habits, and views, of those by whom the rebellion is brought about.
From this it follows that widely-spread disaffection cannot spring from any solitary, or local cause. Universal rebeIlion must arise from universal grounds for discontent or from streams deriving from many different sources, but finally merging into one wide-spreading, turbulent water.
[0.3] The Rebellion of 1857 did not originate from a single cause, but from a complication of causes.
As regards the RebeIlion of 1857, the fact is, that for a long period, many grievances had been rankling in the hearts of the people. In course of time, a vast store of explosive material had been collected. It wanted but the application of a match to light it, and that match was applied by the Mutinous Army.
[0.4] The distribution of "Chuppaties," had not league for its object.
In the course of the year 1856, and almost simultaneously with the outbreak, Chuppaties were passed from hand to hand in many districts. Cholera happened at that time to be raging in Hindustan. Some have imagined that these chuppaties were used as a kind of Talisman to keep off the Cholera, the superstitious Hindustanees being in the habit of using such talismans. The fact is that even at the present day we do not know what caused the distribution of those chuppaties. We may be very sure, however, that they could never have been used with the object of spreading a conspiracy. We have, in Hindustan, I know, a custom of passing messages from tongue to tongue in this way: but with these chuppaties there is no such message passed. Had there been, it would have been sure to have leaked out; known as it would have become to every native, to all races and tribes, and to men holding every kind of opinion. The manner in which the rebellion spread, first here, then there, now breaking out in this place and now in that, is alone good proof that there existed no wide-spread conspiracy.
[0.5] Russia and Persia not chargeable with a league in this matter.
Nor is there the slightest reason for thinking that the rebels in Hindustan received any aid from Russia or from Persia. The Hindustanees have no conception of the views of Russia, and it is not probable that they would league themselves with her. Nor can I think that they would ever be likely to receive any help from Persia. As between Roman Catholics and Protestants, so between the Mussulman of Persia and of Hindustan, cordial co-operation is impossible. To me it seems just as credible that night and day should be merged in one, as that these men should ever act in concert. Surely, if such were the case, it is very strange that during the Russian and Persian wars, Hindustan should have remained completely tranquil. Nor on the other hand is it less strange that while Hindustan was in flames, there should have been in those countries no visible stir whatever. The notion of an understanding existing between these countries must be set aside as preposterous.
[0.6] The subject of the Proclamation which was found in the tent of a Persian Prince discussed.
The proclamation found in the tent of a Persian Prince is no proof of a secret understanding with Hindustan. It was evidently written with the view of animating and encouraging the Persians. The Mutinies are spoken of in order to keep up the spirit of the Persian Soldiers. There is nothing whatever to imply the existence of an understanding with the Mutineers.
[0.7] The despatch of a Firman by the ex-king of Delhi to the king of Persia not improbable, but not the origin of the rebellion.
I see nothing strange in the fact, if fact it were, of the Ex-king of Delhi having written a farmán to the Persians. Such an imbecile was the Ex-king that had one assured him that the angels of Heaven were his slaves, he would have welcomed the assurance, and would have caused half a dozen farmáns to be prepared immediately. The Ex-king had a fixed idea that he could transform himself into a fly or gnat, and that he could in this guise convey himself to other countries, and learn what was going on there. Seriously, he firmly believed that he possessed the power of transformation. He was in the habit of asking his courtiers in Durbar if it were not so, and his courtiers were not the men to undeceive him. Is there anything wonderful in the fact, of such a dotard writing a farmán to any person, or at any man's instigation? Surely not: But it is perfectly incredible that such a farmán should have formed the basis for any league. Strange that such wide conspiracies should have been for so long hatching, and that none of our rulers should have been aware of them! After the revolt had broken out, no volunteer, whether Soldier or Civilian, ever alluded to such a thing; and yet had any league existed, there could then have no longer been any reason for concealing it.
[0.8] The annexation of Oudh not the cause of the general rise.
Nor do I believe that the annexation of Oudh was the cause of this rebellion. No doubt, men of all classes were irritated at its annexation, all agreed in thinking that the Honourable East India Company had acted in defiance of its treaties, and in contempt of the word which it had pledged. The people of Oudh felt on this occasion much as other men have felt whose countries have been annexed by the East India Company. Of this, however, more hereafter. But what I mean here is that the men who would be the most irritated and dismayed at such a step, were the noblemen, and independent princes of Hindustan. These all saw that sooner or later such a policy must lead to the overthrow of their own independence and confiscation of their own lands. Nevertheless, we find that there was no one of the great landed princes who espoused the rebel cause. The mutineers were for the most part men who had nothing to lose, the governed not the governing class. To cite in contradiction of what I say the cases of the Nawab of Jhujjar, and the Rajah of Bulubgurh, and other such petty feudatories would shew little else than ignorance of the status of the various Hindustanee chiefs.
[0.9] The national league not framed with the view of overthrowing the government of strangers.
So too we must reject the idea that the natives of this country rose of one accord to throw off the yoke of foreigners, whom they hated and detested. The English did not obtain the Government of Hindustan in a day. Little by little they have spread their authority. They date its commencement from the year 1757: the year in which Siraj-ul-dowlah was overthrown on the plains of Plassy, from that day until a comparatively recent date, all men, high or low, have remained well-affected to the English Government. They have long been accustomed to hear of the good faith, the clemency, the consideration, and the leniency of the Government, of the noble qualities of the high moral character of those by whom it has been conducted. Hindoo and Mussulman, all who have been under English rule have been well content to sit under its shadow. Foreign princes have relied implicitly upon the English. A promise given, or an agreement made by them has been looked upon as graven on stone.
The Government is twice as strong in these times as it was in the earlier years of the century; while the native princes, the Subahdars and the nobles do not retain one tenth of the power they then had. The Government was continually engaged at that period in wars with every race and religion in India, with Hindu and with Mussulman alike. Its career was one long victory. All natives of the country saw that some day the English sway would extend itself over the whole of Hindustan, and that all races and religions alike must sooner or later be held within the English grasp. And yet during those early years we hear of no attempt at revolt, no striving against English authority. Find if you can any mention of such in the History of India.
Had a national hatred been the cause of this rebellion, should we not have found it betraying itself in the former times; in times, as I have said, when the relative power of the nations gave far greater facilities for such an outbreak? During the wars which commenced in 1839, there was not a single attempt at a revolt in Hindustan, and yet for a hundred years Hindustan had been governed by the race from which sprang the Princes against whom those wars were conducted. It was to those Princes that the Mussulmans owed their very preference and influence in India. How then, can it be supposed that the present revolt originated from hatred on the part of the Mussulmans against those who had wrenched the kingdom from them?
[0.10] The position of Ex-king of Delhi well-known within the town, and its environs, but overrated in the district Provinces.
No one ever had the slightest hope that the King of Delhi would revive the Empire. The excentricities and follies of the King and of his house had lost him all respect in the eyes of the world. It is no doubt true that people outside the walls of Delhi, who were less well informed as to his conditions, his mode of life, and his general incompetence, did look on him as emperor. The Hon'ble East India Company, they believed to be his Viceroy. But those who lived in and about Delhi held him in no esteem whatever. Hence it happened that when the king was virtually deposed, no Hindustanee felt the slightest regret.
[0.11] The declaration of Lord Amherst, in the year 1827, to the effect that the sovereignty of India belongs to the British Government, and that it no longer existed in the Timour family did not offend any one.
It will be remembered that in the year 1827 Lord Amherst openly declared that our Government was no longer in any way subservient to the house of Timour, and that the East India Company was de facto the sole Sovereign power in Hindustan, and that when this declaration was made, the natives expressed no dissatisfaction. The only men probably who felt any chagrin were the relatives and personal attendants of the King.
[0.12] The Mahommadans did not contemplate jehad against the Christians prior to the outbreak.
There are again no grounds for supposing that the Muhammadans had for a long time been conspiring or plotting a simultaneous rise, or a religious crusade against the professors of a different faith. The English Government did not interfere with the Muhammadans in the practice of their religion. For this sole reason it is impossible that the idea of religious crusade should have been entertained.
[0.13] The preaching of Jehad in India, 35 years before with this reservation, its practice against the British Government was opposed to the doctrine of the Mahommadan religion and from the same cause its practice on the other side of the Indus provinces, i.e. against the Seiks was held before.
Thirty-five years ago a celebrated Moulvie, Muhammad Ismael by name, preached a religious crusade in Hindustan and called upon all men to aid him in carrying it out. But on that occasion he distinctly stated that natives of Hindustan subject to the British Government could not conscientiously take part in a religious war within the limits of Hindustan. Accordingly while thousands of Jehadees congregated in every district of Hindustan, there was no sort of disturbance raised within British Territory. Going northwards, these men crossed the Punjab frontier, and waged war in those parts of the country. And even if we should imitate the know-nothings in the various districts and call the late disturbances a religious war, it is very certain that no preparations were made for it before the tenth of May, 1857.
[0.14] None of the acts committed by the Mahommadan rebels during the disturbances were in accordance with the tenets of the Mahommadan religion.
It must be remembered that the men who in those times raised so loud the cry of "Jehad" were vagabonds and ill-conditioned men. They were wine drinkers and men wbo spent their time in debauchery and dissipation. They were men floating without profession or occupation on the surface of society. Can such fellow as these be called leaders of a religious war? It was very little that they thought about religion. Their only object was to plunder Government Treasuries and to steal Government property. To be faithless to one's salt is to disregard the first principles of our religion. To slaughter innocents, especially women, children and old men, would be accounted abominable. Can it possibly be imagined then, that this outbreak was of the nature of a religious war? The fact seems to be that some scoundrels, prompted by greed and hoping to gain their end by deceiving fools and increasing their own numbers, gave the disturbances the title of a religious war. The project was worthy of the men, but there was no crusade.
[0.15] The Futwah of Jehad printed at Delhi was a counterfeit one.
I know that the Futwah which was printed at Delhi is looked upon as a convincing proof that the rebellion was in fact a crusade. I have gone into the question, and I find very strong proof to the effect that this Futwah was a forgery. I am told that when the mutineers arrived at Delhi from Meerut, some persons expressed a wish for a Futwah as to the expediency of a religious war. Every opinion given was against such a step. I have only seen a copy of the Futwah I allude to. The original has been lost and it is impossible to say how far the copy may be authentic. But I may mention that on the arrival of the Bareilly mutineers at Delhi, a second Futwah was published with the object of instigating a religious war, and there is not the smallest doubt that this second Futwah was a forgery. The man who had it printed, and who was a turbulent fellow, and a noted scoundrel, attached certain names to it in order to deceive the public, and gained for it thus a degree of credit. He stamped it, by the way, with the seal of a man who had died before the commencement of the mutinies. It may be added that some of the Bareilly mutineers. and their rebel brethren caused several seals to be forged. This fact has become a matter of notoriety.
[0.16] A large number of the Moulvies who considered the King of Delhi a violator of the law left off praying in the Royal Mosque.
Many of the Delhi Moulvies and their followers considered the King little better than a heretic. They were of the opinion that it was not right to pray in the Mosques to which he was in the habit of going and which were under his patronage. These men never read prayers in the Jumma Musjid. Long before the mutiny broke out, they had published a Futwah on the point. Can it be thought that men holding such views would give a futwah in favour of a religious war and of placing the King at the head of it?
[0.17] The same persons whose seals are said to be affixed to the Futwa at Delhi protected the lives and honour of Christians.
Among the men whose seals were affixed to the Futwah above alluded to, were many who have sheltered Christians, and guarded their honour and their lives. Of these men not one took an active part in the rebellion, or shewed himself in the ranks of the rebel army. If they in reality held the opinions which are usually ascribed to them, why did they act in this way? It is my firm belief that the Muhammadans never dreamed of forming a combination in order to carry on a religious war against the Christians. It was ignorant and disaffected men who raised the cry of "Jehad" and "Haidree." Presently I shall speak of the causes of discontent among the Muhammadans on the score of religion. I will then show how far such discontent really did exist. That the Muhammadans were in every respect more dissatisfied than the Hindus, there is little doubt. Hence it was that, in many districts the greater proportions of rebels were found in their ranks. Nevertheless, in districts where the Hindus rebelled, matters were carried to as great extremes.
[0.18] The Bengal army was not previously in league for an out-break.
A conspiracy, or concerted league, never existed in the army. It is well known that after the mutiny had broken out, no Sepoy ever mentioned such a thing. True that after the affair at Barrackpore, and especially in the Punjab, on the introduction of the new drill, men of several regiments used to meet together and declare they would never allow the use of the new cartridges. But they formed no plan whatever; on the contrary, they believed that Government would not insist on carrying out the order. The order was not carried out. But after the 2nd of May, when it had been withdrawn, the mutinies had broken out, and could no longer be checked by such means; a flame had been lit, that was not to be thus quenched.
[0.19] Nor was there any league between the army and Ex-king though it is not improbable that some Sepoy or Non-Commissioned Officer may have been his disciple.
So too there never existed a previous understanding between the rebel army and the Ex-king. The idea is entirely without foundation. No one looked upon the King as sovereign or as consecrate; men used to flatter him to his face, and laugh at him behind his back. The people clung to him from no feeling of loyalty, but with a view to their own advantage. Very likely privates, and Subahdars in some of the regiments, were in communication with him. This however does not prove that there was any general understanding between him and the mutineers. The rebel army collected at Dehli, it is true, but after it had thrown off its allegiance to the Government, there was no one but the King of Dehli round whom it could rally. The fact of their gathering at Delhi is in itself no proof of a conspiracy. It was impolitic and unwise of Government to keep up the semblance of a King at Dehli. Lord Ellenborough's views on this point were sound and it is a pity they were not put more thoroughly into practice. The King of Delhi was a spark from a furnace which, wafted by the wind, eventually set all Hindustan in a blaze.
[0.20] The non-admission of a native as a member into the Legislative Council was the original cause of the out-break.
I believe that this Rebellion owes its origin to one great cause to which all others are but secondary Branches so to speak of the parent stem. I do not found my belief on any speculative grounds or any favourite theory of my own. For centuries, many able and thoughtful men have concurred in the views I am about to express. All treatises and works on the principles of Government bear me out. All histories either of the one or the other hemisphere are witnesses to the soundness of my opinions.
[0.21] The importance of such an admission discussed.
Most men, I believe, agree in thinking that it is highly conducive to the welfare and prosperity of Government: indeed is essential to its stability, that the people should have a voice in its Councils. It is from the voice of the people only that Government can learn whether its projects are likely to be well received. The voice of the people can alone check errors in the bud, and warn us of the dangers before they burst upon and destroy us.
A needle may dam the gushing rivulet. An elephant must turn aside from the swollen torrent. This voice however can never be heard, and this security never acquired, unless the people are allowed a share in the consultation of Government. The men who have ruled India should never have forgotten that they were here in the position of foreigners, that they differed from the natives in religion, in customs, in habits of life and thought. The security of a Government, it will be remembered, is founded on its careful observance of their rights and privileges.
Look back at the pages of History, the record of the experience of the past, and you will not fail to be struck with the differences and distinctions that have existed between the manners, the opinions, and customs of the various races of men: differences which have been acquired by no written rule, or prescribed by any printed form. They are in every instance the inheritance of the peculiar race. It is to these differences of thought and customs that the laws must be adapted, for they cannot be adapted to the laws. In their due observance lies the welfare and security of Government. From the beginning of things, to disregard these has been to disregard the nature of men, and neglect of them has ever been the cause of universal discontent. Can we forget the confusion that ensued on the acceptance of the Dewannee by the British Government in the year 1760, a confusion brought about by the ignorance then prevailing? If one wishes to recall those times, he can read of them in Marshman's History. Who, on the contrary, does not remember the prosperity of Bengal when under the rule of Lord Hastings? I attribute it to the knowledge of its peculiarities and the acquaintance with the Vernacular which obtained in those days.
To form a Parliament from the natives of India is of course out of the question. It is not only impossible, but useless. There is no reason however why the natives of this country should be excluded from the Legislative Council, and here it is that you come upon the one great root of all this evil. Here is the origin of all the troubles that have befallen Hindustan. From causes connected with this matter sprang all the evil that has lately happened.
I do not say that Government has made no attempt to acquaint itself with the characteristics and economy of the country. I am well aware that serious efforts have been made. The Regulations of Government, the Circulars of the Board of Revenue, and Mr. Thomason's Directions to Revenue Officers are sufficient proof of this. But I do say that Government has not succeeded in acquainting itself with the daily habits, the modes of thought and of life, the likes, and dislikes, and the prejudices of the people. Our Government never knew what troubles each succeeding sun might bring with it to its subjects, or what sorrow might fall upon them with the night. Yet day by day troubles and anxieties were increasing upon them. Secret causes of complaint were rankling in their breasts. Little by little a cloud was gathering strength, which finally burst over us in all its violence.
[0.22] The non-admission of such a member proved a hindrance to the development of the good feeling of the Indian subject towards the Government and of their good intention towards it; on the contrary, contrary effects were produced.
The evils which resulted to India from the non-admission of natives into the Legislative Council of India were various. Government could never know the inadvisability of the laws and regulations which it passed. It could never hear as it ought to have heard the voice of the people on such a subject. The people had no means of protesting against what they might feel to be a foolish measure, or of giving public expression to their own wishes. But the greatest mischief lay in this, that the people misunderstood the views and the intentions of Government. They misapprehended every act, and whatever law was passed was misconstrued by men who had no share in the framing of it, and hence no means of judging of its spirit. At length the Hindustanees fell into the habit of thinking that all the laws were passed with a view to degrade and ruin them, and to deprive them and their fellows of their religion. Such acts as were repugnant to native customs and character, whether in themselves good or bad, increased this suspicion. At last came the time when all men looked upon the English Government as slow poison, a rope of sand, a treacherous flame of fire. They learned to think that if today they escaped from the hands of Government, tomorrow they would fall into them; or that even if they escaped on the morrow, the third day would see their ruin. There was no man to reason with them, no one to point out to them the absurdity of such ideas.
When the governors and the governed occupy relatively such a position as this, what hope is there of loyalty or of good-will? Granted that the intentions of Government were excellent, there was no man who could convince the people of it; no one was at hand to correct the errors which they had adopted. And why? Because there was not one of their own number among the members of the Legislative Council. Had there been, these evils that had happened to us, would have been averted. The more one thinks the matter over, the more one is convinced that here we have the one great cause which was the origin of all smaller causes of dissatisfaction.
I see no force in the argument that the Government has allowed a perfectly free Press, forbidding it merely to print abusive or seditious language or language of an inflammatory nature. Nor was it of any use to circulate laws before they were finally passed so that every man should have an opportunity of speaking his mind out about them. It was not by such measures as these that evils such as I am writing about could be remedied. Far from it, these half measures were useless.
I do not wish to enter here into the question as to how the ignorant and uneducated natives of Hindustan could be allowed a share in the deliberations of the Legislative Council; or as to how they should be selected to form an assembly like the English Parliament. These are the knotty points. All I wish to prove here is that such a step is not only advisable, but absolutely necessary, and that the disturbances are due to the neglect of such a measure. As regards the details of the question, I have elsewhere discussed them, and those who wish to enter into it can read what I have said.
[0.23] The outbreak of rebellion proceeded from the following five causes.
This mistake of the Government then made itself felt in every matter connected with Hindustan. All causes of rebellion, however various, can be traced to this one. And if we look at these various causes separately and distinctly we shall, I think, find that they may be classed under five heads. 1. Ignorance on the part of the people: by which I mean misapprehension of the intentions of Government. 2. The passing of such laws and regulations and forms of procedure as jarred with the established custom and practice of Hindustan, and the introduction of such as were in themselves objectionable. 3. Ignorance on the part of the Government of the conditions of the people; of their modes of thought and of life; and of the grievances through which their hearts were becoming estranged. 4. The neglect on the part of our rulers of such points as were essential to the good government of Hindustan. 5. The bad management, and disaffection, of the army.
I shall now proceed to consider these five heads, and under them may be classed their sub-heads, distinctly, and in detail.
[1.0] CAUSE I -- IGNORANCE ON THE PART OF THE PEOPLE, THAT IS, MISAPPREHENSION OF THE INTENTIONS OF GOVERNMENT
[1.1] Misunderstanding on the part of the Indians.
I would here say that I do not wish it to be understood that the views of Government were in reality such as have been imputed to them. I only wish to say that they were misconstrued by people, and that this misconstruction hurried on the rebellion. Had there been a native of Hindustan in the Legislative Council, the people would never have fallen into such errors.
[1.2] Apprehension of interference of Government with the religious customs of the Indians.
There is not the smallest doubt that all men whether ignorant, or well-informed, whether high or low, felt a firm conviction that the English Government was bent on interfering with their religion and with their old established customs. They believed that Government intended to force the Christian Religion and foreign customs upon Hindu and Mussulman alike. This was the chief among the secondary causes of the rebellion.
It was believed by every one that Government was slowly but surely developing its plans. Every step it was thought was being taken with the most extreme caution. Hence it is that men said that Government does not speak of proselytising Muhammadans summarily, and by force; but it will throw off. the veil as it feels itself stronger, and will act with greater decision. Events, as I shall presently show, increased and strengthened this conviction. Men never thought that our Government would openly compel them to change their religion. The idea was that indirect steps will be taken, such as doing away with the study of Arabic and Sanscrit, and reducing the people to ignorance and poverty. In this way, it was supposed, the people would be deprived of a knowledge of the principles of their own faith, and their attention turned to books containing the principles of the Christian Creed. It was supposed that Government would then work on the cupidity and poverty of its subjects, and on conditions of their abjuring their faith, would offer them employment in its own services.
[1.3] Mention of the Secundra Orphan Asylum.
In the year 1837, the year of the great drought, the step which was taken of rearing orphans in the principles of the Christian faith, was looked upon throughout the N. W. P. as an example of the schemes of Government. It was supposed that when Government had similarly brought all Hindustanees to a pitch of ignorance and poverty, it would convert them to its own creed. The Hindustanees used, as I have said, to feel an increasing dismay at the annexation of each successive country by the Hon'ble East India Company. But I assert without fear of contradiction that this feeling arose solely from the belief in their minds, that as the power of Government increased, and there no longer remained foreign enemies to fight against, or internal troubles to quell, it would turn its attention inwards, and carry out a more systematic interference with their creed and religious observances.
[1.4] Religious discussion being carried to a great height during the present time.
In the first days of British rule in Hindustan, there used to be less talk than at present on the subject of religion. Discussion on this point has been increasing day by day and has now reached its climax. I do not say that Government has interfered in these matters; but it has been the general opinion that all that was done was according to the instructions and hints of Government, and was by no means displeasing to it. It has been eommonly believed that Government appointed Missionaries and maintained them at its own cost. It has been supposed that Government, and the officers of Government throughout the eountry, were in the habit of giving large sums of money to these missionaries with the intention of covering their expenses, enabling them to distribute books, and in every way aiding them.
[1.5] The covenanted officers assumed the Missionary functions.
Many convenanted officers, and many military men, have been in the habit of talking to their subordinates about religion; some of them would bid their servants come to their houses, and listen to the preaching of Missonaries, and thus it happened that in the course of time no man felt sure that his creed would last even his own life time.
[1.6] Preaching of the Gospel by the Missionaries.
The missionaries moreover introduced a new system of preaching. They took to printing and circulating controversial tracts, in the shape of questions and answers. Men of a different faith were spoken of in a most offensive and irritating way. In Hindustan these things have always been managed very differently. Every man in this country preaches and explains his views in his own Mosque, or his own house. If any one wishes to listen to him, he can go to the Mosque, or house, and hear what he has to say. But the Missionaries' plan was exactly the opposite. They used to attend the places of public resort, markets for instance, and fairs, where men of different creeds collected together, and used to begin preaching to them. It was only from fear of the authorities that no one bid them be off about their business. In some districts the Missionaries were actually attended by Policemen from the station. And then the Missionaries did not confine themselves to explaining the doctrines of their books. In violent and unmeasured language they attacked the followers and the holy places of other creeds: annoying, and insulting beyond expression, the feelings of those who listened to them. In this way too the seeds of discontent were sown deep in the hearts of the people.
[1.7] The establishment of Missionary Schools and the covenanted officers attending examinations at them.
Then Missionary schools were started in which the principles of the Christian faith were taught. Men said it was by the order of Government. In some districts covenanted officers of high position and of great influence used to visit the schools and encourage the people to attend them; examinations were held in books which taught the tenets of the Christian religion. Lads who attended the schools used to be asked such questions as the following: "Who is your God?" "Who is your Redeemer?" and these questions they were obliged to answer agreeably to the Christian belief; prizes being given accordingly. This again added to the prevailing ill-will. But it may be said with some justice, "If the people were not satisfied with this course of education, why did they let their children go to the schools?" The fact is that we have here no question of like or dislike. On the contrary, we must account for this by the painfully degraded and ignorant state of the people. They believed that if their children were entered at the schools, they might have employment given them by Government, and be enabled to find some means of subsistence. Hence they put up with a state of affairs in reality disagreeable enough to them. But it must not be thought that they ever liked those schools.
[1.8] Village Schools.
When the village Schools were established, the general belief was that they were instituted solely with the view of teaching the doctrines of Jesus. The Pergunnah visitors, and Deputy Inspectors, who used to go from village to village and town to town advising the people to enter their children at these Schools,. got the nickname of Native Clergyman. When the Pergunnah visitor or Deputy Inspector entered any village, the people used to say that the Native Clergyman had come. Their sole idea was that these were Christian Schools, established with the view of converting them. Well-informed men, although they did not credit this, saw nevertheless that in these Schools nothing but Urdu was taught. They were afraid that boys while reading only Urdu would forget the tenets of their own faith, and that they would thus drift into Christianity. They believed also, that Government wished such boo ks as bore upon the doctrines of the former religions of Hindustan, to fall into entire disuse. This was to be done with the view of ensuring the spread of Christianity. In many of the Eastern districts of Hindustan where these Schools were established, boys were entered in them by compulsion, and by compulsion only. It was currently reported that all this was in pursuance of the orders of Government.
[1.9] The introduction of female education.
There was at the same time great deal of talk in Hindustan about female education. Men believed it to be the wish of Government, that girls should attend, and be taught at these Schools, and leave off the habit of sitting veiled. Anything more obnoxious than this to the feelings of the Hindustanees cannot be conceived. In some districts the practice was actually introduced. The Pergunnah visitors and Deputy Inspectors hoped by enforcing the attendance of girls, to gain credit with their superior. In every way, therefore, right or wrong, they tried to carry out their object. Here then was another cause of discontent among the people, through which they became confirmed in error.
[1.10] Alterations in the usual system of education in large Colleges.
The large colleges, established in the towns, were from the first a source of suspicion. At the time of their establishment Shah Abdulazeez, a celebrated Moulvie of Hindustan, was alive. The Muhammadans asked him for a Futwah on the subject. His answer was distinct. "Go," he said, "Read in the English Colleges, and learn the English tongue. The laws of Islam admit it." Acting on this opinion the Muhammadans did not hesitate to enter these Colleges. At that time, however, the Colleges were conducted on a principle widely different from that which is at present adopt ed. Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, and English were equally taught. The "Fickah," "Hadees" and other such books were read. Examinations were held in the "Fickah" for which certificates of proficiency were given. Religion was not in any way thrust forward. The professors were men of worth and weight: all Scholars of great reputation, wide knowledge and sound moral character.
But all this has been changed. The study of Arabic is little thought of. The "Fickah" and "Hadees" were suddenly dropped. Persian is almost entirely neglected. Books and methods of teaching have been changed. But the study of Urdu and of English has greatly increased. All this has tended to strengthen the idea that Government wished to wipe out the religions which are found in Hindustan. The professors are no longer men of weight or acquirements. Students at the College, in whom people have not gained confidence, have for some time past been appointed professors. And hence it is that throughout the country these Colleges have fallen into disrepute.
[1.11] The issue of Government proclamation on the subject of admitting Government College English students to appointments in preference to other candidates.
Such was the state of the village Schools and the Colleges. Such the general feeling of distrust throughout the country as to the view of Government about conversion, when a proclamation was issued by Government to the following effect. Whoever had studied and passed an examination in certain Sciences, and in the English language, and had received a Certificate to the effect, was to be considered as having prior claims for employment in the Public Service. Petty appointments were granted on the production of certificates from the Deputy Inspectors: the very men who had hitherto been nicknamed Native Clergymen. This came as a blow to every one. Suspicion increased tenfold. The rumour again arose that Government wished to deprive the Hindustanees of all means of subsistence, and by impoverishing them gradually to substitute its own religion in the place of theirs.
[1.12] Introduction of the messing system in the Jails.
It was at this time that the practice was introduced in some district jails, of making prisoners eat food which had been cooked by a single man; such a measure as this was fatal to the caste of Hindus. To the Muhammadan creed it was not actually obnoxious, nevertheless Muhammadans were annoyed at its introduction. They looked upon it as another proof that Government wished to meddle with all creeds alike. They saw in it but another part of one huge plan.
[1.13] The circulation of Mr. E. Edmond's letters from Calcutta.
Whilst all these discontents were at their height, there suddenly appeared in 1855, a letter by Mr. Edmond which was circulated publicly from Calcutta, and a copy of which was sent to all the principal officials of Government. It was to the effect that all Hindustan was now under one rule, that the telegraph had so connected all parts of the country that they were as one, that the railroad had brought them so near that all towns were as one, the time had clearly come when there should be but one faith; it was right therefore, that we should all become Christians. It is no metaphor to say that men were blinded with fear at the receipt of this Circular. The ground seemed at last to have given way beneath their feet. They cried out that the long-expected hour had indeed arrived. The servants of government were first to be made Christians, then the mass of the people. This circular, it was said, was written by order of Government.
Natives in government employ were asked whether they had received the circular, and this was in fact to taunt them with having turned Christian, on the condition of getting government employ. The native officials were so ashamed of the circular that those to whom it had been sent used to hide the fact, from fear of being ridiculed and abused, and would deny having ever received it. They used to say, "It has not been sent to us": and the answer used to be "Well, well be sure that it will come. Are you not in government employ?"
Looking into the subject, one feels that this unhappy circular set the finishing stroke to the public suspicion and ill-will. And yet again at this crisis there was no one at hand to set men's minds at rest. It will surprise no one to find that there should have been something very like conspiracy and more or less disturbance about this time. This was in fact the case. But the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal soon heard of it, and issued a Proclamation which soothed men's minds and put suspicion to sleep for a time. It was, however, but a temporary relief; men still thought that Government had given up its projects only for a while, but that when it found itself a little stronger, it would resume them.
[1.14] The interference in religious matters more repugnant to the feelings of the Muhammadans, and its causes.
All these causes rendered the Muhammadans more uneasy than the Hindus. The reason of this, I take to be that Hindu faith consists rather in the practice of long-established rites and forms, than in the study of doctrine. The Hindus recognise no canons and laws, or appeals to the heart and conscience. Their creed does not admit of such things. Hence it is that they are exceedingly indifferent about speculative doctrine. They insist upon nothing excepting the strict observance of their old rites, and of their modes of eating and drinking. It does not annoy or grieve them to see such rites and observances as they consider necessary, disregarded by other men.
Muhammadans, on the contrary, looking upon the tenets of their creed as necessary to Salvation and upon the neglect of them as damnation, are thoroughly well-grounded in them. They regard their religious precepts as the ordinances of God. Hence it was that the Muhammadans were more uneasy than the Hindus, and that, as might have been expected, they formed the majority of the rebels. It is wrong and impolitic on the part of a government to interfere in any way with the faith of its subjects. But of all courses, the most unjust is to hinder the study of the tenets of their religion: and especially of such an one as is heartily believed by its votaries to be true. But be this as it may, all I wish to prove is that, whatever the intentions of Government might be, matters were so managed that the people were left to stumble on in error, suspicion, and ill-will.
[2.0] CAUSE II -- THE PASSING OF SUCH LAWS, REGULATIONS AND FORMS OF PROCEDURE AS WERE INCONSISTENT WITH THE ESTABLISHED CUSTOMS AND PRACTICES OF HINDUSTAN: AND THE INTRODUCTION OF SUCH AS WERE IN THEMSELVES OBJECTIONABLE
[2.1] The promulgation of objectionable laws and procedures. Act 21 of 1850.
The Legislative Council is not free from the charge of having meddled with religious matters. Act XXI of 1850 was without a doubt prejudicial to the professors of other creeds. This act was thought to have been passed with the view of cozening men into Christianity. The Hindu faith, as is known, allows of no converts. To the Hindus, therefore, this act brought no benefit. If a man becomes a convert to Islam, he is forbidden by the laws of his new religion from inheriting property left to him by men of another creed. No Muhammadan convert, therefore, could profit by this act. To such men, however, as became Christians it offered great advantages. Hence this act was said not only to interefere with people's religion but to hold out strong inducements to conversion.
[2.2] Act XV of 1856.
Act XV of 1856, again, relating to Hindu widows, was opposed to practice of the Hindu religion. There is, I grant, much controversy on this point, and there always has been; but it is none the less a fact that the Hindus, who cling particularly to the forms and customs of their faith, were greatly annoyed at this Act. They thought that its provisions were little less than an insult to them. The suspicion arose that this act was intended to free widows from all restraint, and to give them the power of doing whatever they might think proper. So, too, it would be impossible to overstate the disgust which was felt by all Hindustanees at the licence given to women in criminal actions; even married women were recognized to the Criminal Courts as competent.
[2.3] Giving liberty to females.
To give a married woman such liberty, was simply to deprive her guardian of all power over her: and not only this, but the measure was altogether opposed to the spirit of the existing religions. The remedy provided for such cases by a suit in the Civil Courts was little better than useless. Cases of this kind which, according to our belief and practice, should have met with prompt attention, were so delayed and deferred, that the remedy was nearly as bad as the grievance. The decrees of the Civil Court for the restoration of married women are very often waste paper. It often happens that a woman has borne two or three children to the man who abducted her, before her husband can find a trace of her whereabouts.
[2.4] The promulgation of certain Acts in cases wherein the parties are of one religion.
Moreover, certain acts and laws were passed which led to decision in the Civil Courts opposed to the religious practice of litigants, even where they happened to be of the same faith. I would not have the Government shew a partiality for any creed whatever. When parties to a suit are of different creeds, Government should be careful, provided due respect is paid to the religious practice of the litigants, to ensure equal justice. When however the litigants are of the same creed, it is but right that decrees affecting rights, issued by the Courts, should be in accordance with the religious practice of the parties.
[2.5] The resumption of M'afis.
The laws providing for the resumption of Revenue-free lands, the last of which was regulation VI of 1819, were most obnoxious. Nothing disgusted the natives of this country more with the English Government than this resumption of Revenue-free lands.
[2.6] The result of extinguishing the Native states, according to Sir Thomas Munro, in place of raising to debase the whole people. And according to the Duke of Wellington "To degrade and beggar the natives making them all enemies."
Sir T. Munro and the Duke of Wellington said truly enough that to resume lands granted revenue-free was to set the whole people against us, and to make beggars of the masses. I cannot describe the odium and the hatred which this act brought on Government, or the extent to which it beggared the people. Many lands which had been held revenue-free for centuries were suddenly resumed on the flimsiest pretexts. The people said that Government not only did nothing for them itself, but undid what former governments had done. This measure altogether lost for the government the confidence of its subjects.
It may be said that if revenue-free lands were not resumed, some other source of income would have to be sought or some new Tax imposed to meet the charges of Government: so that the people would have still to bear the burthen. This may be so: but the people do not see it. It is a remarkable fact that, wherever the rebels have issued proclamations to deceive and reduce the people, they have only mentioned two things: the one, interference in matters of religion; the other, the resumption of revenue-free lands. It seems fair to infer that these were the two chief causes of the public discontent. More especially was it the case with the Muhammadans, on whom this grievance fell far more heavily than on the Hindus.
[2.7] Public sales of Zemindari rights.
Under former rules, and in old times, the system of buying and selling rights in landed property, of mortgage, and of transfer by gift, undoubtedly prevailed. But there was little of it, and what little there was due to the consent and wishes of the parties concerned. To arbitrarily compel the sale of these rights in satisfaction of the arrears of revenue, or of debt, was a practice in those days unknown. Hindustanee landlords are particularly attached to this kind of property. The loss of their estates has been to them a source of the deepest annoyance. A landed estate in Hindustan is very like a little kingdom. It has always been the practice to elect one man as the head over all. By him, matters requiring discussion are brought forward, and every shareholder, in proportion to his holding, has the power of speaking out his mind on the point. The cultivators and the Chowdries of the villages attend on such an occasion, and say whatever they have to say. Any matter of unusual importance is settled by the head-men of some of the larger villages. You have here in fact in great perfection, a miniature Kingdom, and Parliament. These landlords were as indignant at the loss of their estate, as a king at the loss of his empire. But the Government acted in utter disregard of things formerly existing.
Dating from the commencement of English rule to the present time, there is probably not a single village in which there have not been more or less transfers. In the first days of British rule, sales of landed property were so numerous that the whole country was turned upside down. To remedy this, Government passed the law which is called Regulation I of 1821, and appointed a Commission of Enquiry. This Commission, however, gave rise to a thousand other evils. After all, the affair was not brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and at last, the Commission was abolished.
I shall not here enter into the question as to how Government could ensure the payment of the land revenue, if it gave up the practice of sales; or its right to enforce sales as arising from the fact of the land being pledged for the payment of revenue. All that I now say is, that whether this system of sales was the result of necessity or of ignorance, it has at all events had a hand in bringing on the rebellion. If anyone wishes to see what my views are on this question, he will find them in my work on the Government of Hindustan./1/ I will only mention here that it is open to grave doubt whether the land is pledged for the payment of revenue. The claim of the Government lies, I take it, upon the produce of the land, not upon the land itself.
So too the practice of sale in satisfaction of debt has been most objectionable. Bankers and money-lenders have availed themselves of it to advance money to landlords, resorting to every kind of trickery and roguery to rob them of their property. They have instituted suits without end in the Civil Courts, some fraudulent, some correct enough. The consequence has been that they have very generally ousted the old landlords and insinuated themselves into their properties. Troubles of this kind have ruined landlords throughout the length and breadth of the land.
[2.8] Heavy assessments of lands.
The system of Revenue Settlements introduced by the English Government does it the greatest credit. But it is heavy compared with former Settlements. Formerly the revenue was realized by sharing the actual crop with the cultivator. Sher Shah claimed for Government one-third of the produce of the land, and though this plan had its difficulties and exposed the Government to some little risk, yet the cultivators felt secure and were little liable to loss. Akbar was the first regularly to adopt this plan of taking one-third of the produce. It was by him that the system was matured, as may be seen in Mr. Elphinstone's excellent work upon India, and in the Ain-i-Akbari.
Akbar divided the land into classes, and changed the payments in kind into money payments. The first class, which goes by the name of "Pulich," was cultivated yearly, and the produce of this he divided with the cultivators according to their respective shares. The second class was called "Paroti," and was not kept in constant cultivation, being occasionally allowed to lie fallow in order to strengthen it. The produce of this class of land he shared with the cultivators in such years as it was cultivated. The third class, which was called "Chachar," remained uncultivated for 3 or 4 years and required the expenditure of money in order to make it fertile. In the first year of cultivation, Akbar took two-fifths of the produce from this land, increasing his demand yearly, till in the fifth year he received his full share. The fourth class, which was called "Bunjar" and required to lie fallow for more than five years, was treated on still more lenient terms.
The way in which the money value of the crops was calculated was as follows. The crop of every beegah and of every different kind of land was reckoned according to the weight of an average amount of grain produced by such land. For example, the average crop of a beegah would be reckoned at 9 maunds of grain, a third of which, namely, 3 maunds, would represent the demand of Government on the Cultivator. The grain would then be valued at the average of the price current; and a money rate fixed on the beegah accordingly. The great advantage of this system was, that if the cultivators considered the price fixed by the price tables more than the value of the corn, they had the option of paying in kind. The assessments imposed by the English Government have been fixed without any regard to their various contingencies. Land lying fallow pays in the same proportion as other land. Such lands as are for a time left uncultivated in order that they may acquire strength, are not considered free from assessment.
From being cultivated to the same extent year after year, land becomes weak and unfruitful, and does not yield an equal amount. It ceases to have the same value as was put upon it at the time of the Settlement. In many districts, every Settlement that was made pressed heavily, and landlords and cultivators were alike reduced to straits. In course of time they were unable to provide themselves with proper implements. These accordingly became scarce. Land was not properly cultivated. The property became scanty. The cultivators were obliged to borrow money in order to pay the revenue. The interest on these loans ran up. Landlords, formerly men of substance, found themselves suddenly ruined. Villages in which there happened to be land already lying uncultivated, became more than ever neglected. Mr. Thomason, in Paragraph 64 of his directions to Settlement Officers, says that the settlements under Regulation IX of 1833 were light on good villages, but pressed heavily on poorer ones.
The landlords, I admit, can no longer extort rent illegally or: make illicit profits, but they were entitled to more consideration than has been shewn them. Both they and the cultivators have suffered, and hence it is that, notwithstanding the security of life and property which they now enjoy, the landlords look back with regret on the dynasties of former days.
[2.9] The abolition of Talookdari rights, particularly in the Oudh provinces.
I will not say that to crush the Talookdars was an unjust measure, but it was one of the chief causes of the Rebellion, and especially of the rebellion in Oudh. The Talookdars had long enjoyed the rank of Rajas. They exercised the rights of sovereignty in the villages composing their Talookdaries. From these villages their income was derived. All these rights and all this income alike were suddenly wrested from them. Here again, I shall not stop to enquire what other steps could have been taken by Government to secure the under-tenants from the oppression of the Talookdars. I have elsewhere entered into the matter. I merely say now that the abolition of the Talookdars was among the causes of the rebellion.
[2.10] The introduction of stamped paper.
The practice of using stamped papers is peculiar to Europe, where land is scarely looked upon as a means of revenue. The introduction of this practice into Hindustan, and the gradual rise in price of stamped paper, which reached its highest amount under Regulation X of 1829, were entirely opposed to the spirit of Hindustanee customs. Taking into consideration the general poverty of the Hindustanees, the measure seems to me to have been very unwise. This question of stamped paper has long been an open one, and strong arguments have not been wanting to shew the mischief of the practice, and to prove that it is opposed to all sound rules of political economy.
This, however, is a question I shall not discuss here. I would only remark that the question as hitherto argued has had reference to countries where the people were educated, wealthy, and intelligent. It is easy to see that the Hindustanees, who are becoming more and more impoverished every day, can never hope to bear up under this expense. This system of using stamped paper is one which has been disapproved of by most men of reflection. They argue that to whatever extent it may be unjust to levy a tax on lands, title-deeds, and so on, so much the more it is unwise to levy a tax upon papers intended to aid in the furtherance of justice. Besides the heavy expenses which this system entails, it tends greatly to hinder the actual administration of justice. Mr. Mill, in his book on Political Economy, and Lord Brougham, in his work on Political Philosophy, have expressed their disapproval of the system, and it must be remembered that all arguments urged against its practice in Europe carry with them a tenfold force when applied to Hindustan.
[2.11] The system of Civil Administration in the Bengal provinces superior to that in the Punjab, but requires revision in certain points.
The Civil Courts in the Presidencies of Bengal and Agra deserve much praise. They have had nothing to do with the late Rebellion. I know that many Government officers will differ from me on this point, and will prefer the system which has been adopted in the Punjab. But this is a matter which is open to a good deal of doubt. The laws in force in the Punjab are very vague and sketchy. There exist in the Punjab no commentaries or constructions, for the purpose of explaining or elucidating the laws or adapting them to practice. Each individual judge is a light to himself; and unfortunately it does not happen that a judge is always right in his interpretation. To what confusion is such a state of things likely to lead in the course of time!
The Civil Court is the tribunal in which the most implicit trust should be placed. It is the Civil Court on which depends the internal tranquillity of the kingdom, the safe transport of merchandise, the increase of trade, and the establishment of rights. But Punjab Officers pay very little attention to the Civil Courts. They have not, indeed, the time to do so. Cases requiring long and patient investigation, regarding transfers of right and a variety of other matters, such as have sprung up in process of time under the English Government and are constantly recurring in the Civil Courts of these Provinces, are as yet unknown in the Punjab. But when in course of time such suits are brought into the Civil Courts of Punjab, the laws by which the judges are at present guided will be found altogether inefficient.
The Civil Courts, no doubt, have their share among causes of the rebellion; but only in connection with two subjects: the one, the transfer of rights; the other, the issue of decrees for debt. These led to internal riots, but they gave rise to no opposition against Government. They were sores which festered only in the breasts of the parties concerned. Such a state of things might have been expected. Whenever the reins of Government are loosened, the people always begin fighting with each other. Unjust transfers of land, and debts unjustly adjudged due, increased the confusion. Many men, moreover, had fallen victims to trumped-up suits, and the blame of these fell upon the Civil Courts. But the incomplete and summary modes of investigation which prevail in the Punjab Civil Courts, and the wrongheadedness of the judges presiding in them, have been productive of no less mischief. Ten years cannot tell us how the Civil Courts work. Fifty years hence, we may compare the administration of the N. W. P. and the working of its Courts with the administration and Courts of the Punjab; at present the comparison cannot hold. I do not deny that the laws which regulate justice in Bengal and the N. W. P. are capable of improvement. Great delays occur in the decision of cases. The price of stamped paper, and various gradations of appeal, render appeal too costly for the people. The powers of judges have been in certain respects unduly restricted. Act XIX of 1853 remedied this to some extent, but there is still room for improvement. However, anyone caring to see what I have to say on this subject, can read my book on the Government of Hindustan, in which work my views are given in extenso.
[3.0] CAUSE III -- THE IGNORANCE OF GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF THE COUNTRY AND THEIR SUBJECTS
[3.1] The ignorance of Government of the State of the country and their subjects.
There is no doubt that Government were but slightly acquainted with the unhappy state of the people. How could it well be otherwise? There was no real communication between the Governors and the governed, no living together or near one another as has always been the custom of the Mahommadans in countries which they subjected to their rule. Government and its officials have never adopted this course, without which no real knowledge of the people can be gained. It is, however, not easy to see how this can be done by the English, as they almost all look forward to retirement in their native land and seldom settle for good amongst the natives of India.
The people, again, having no voice in the government of the country, could not well better their condition, and if they did try to make themselves heard by means of petitions, these same petitions were seldom if ever attended to, and sometimes never even heard.
[3.2] Local authorities generally unacquainted with the condition of their subjects.
Government, it is true, received reports from its subordinate officials, but even these officials themselves were ignorant of the real thoughts and opinions of the people, because they had no means of getting at them. The behaviour of these subordinates as a rule, their pride and their treatment of natives, is well known. In their presence native gentlemen were afraid, and if they had told these officials of their want of knowledge of the people of their Districts, they would only have been summarily ejected for their pains. All the "Amlah" and the civil functionaries as well as wealthy native gentlemen were afraid, and consequently did nothing but flatter.
Now Government, although in name only a Government subordinate to a higher Government, was in reality the real Government of this country; and as such, it ought to have received the complaints and petitions of its people directly and not, as it did invariably, by reports from its district officers. These are some of the reasons why the real feelings and ways of its people, why the action of new laws passed for that people, their working for good or for bad, for the prosperity or otherwise of the countrymen, were unknown or only slightly known to Government. The people were isolated, they had no champion to stand up for their rights and to see justice done to them, and they were constrained to weep in silence.
[3.3] Overwhelming poverty of the Indians, particularly of the Mahommadans.
There is nothing wonderful in the fact that the natives were poor and in distress. A native's best profession is service. Now although everyone felt the difficulty of getting service, this difficulty pressed most heavily on the Mahommadans. It must be borne in mind that the Hindoos, the original inhabitants of the country, were never in former days in the habit of taking service, but on the contrary they were each engaged in such work as their forefathers had been engaged in before them. The Brahmins never took service, the Vaishyas were always traders and bankers; the Kshatriyas, once lords of the land, never took service, but each kept his own small portion of land, dividing it amongst his kinsmen and preserving a semblance of authority. They had no standing army, but as occasion required, they all united either to resist or to invade, as the case might be, as was the custom in former days in Russia. There was one caste, certainly, that did take service, and these were the"Kayasths."
[3.4] Scarcity of employments, generally the Mahommadans whose profession is commonly service were particularly impoverished.
The Mahommadans are not the aborigines of this country. They came in the train of former conquerors and gradually domesticated themselves in India. They were therefore all dependent on service, and on account of this increased difficulty in obtaining the same, they, far more than the Hindoos, were put to much inconvenience and misery. An honourable military service, distinct from that eagerly engaged in by the lower classes of the community, was with difficulty procurable under the British Government. The army, which was composed of sepoys, was not looked upon as a favourable field by the higher class of Mahommadans. True, service was obtainable by them in the Cavalry, but the number of posts in that branch of service was small compared with what it had been in olden days. Formerly, besides Government service, employment was obtainable in the private retinues or households of Officers of State and large landholders, and these posts were well paid.
It is not so now, as the posts which are now filled by Englishmen do not entail upon the holders the necessity of keeping up a large retinue, and Englishmen, therefore, only have their own few private servants.
[3.5] The same causes induced them to serve the rebels on one anna, one and half annas, or one seer of flour per diem.
The consequence of this was, that when the mutineers wanted recruits, thousands flocked in, just as in a famine hungry men rush upon food. Many took service upon one anna or one anna and a half per diem and many, instead of cash, received a couple or perhaps three pounds of grain daily. It is evident, therefore, that however much they might desire service, the natives of India were unable to obtain it, the number wanting service being greatly in excess of the number of posts to be filled up.
[3.6] The stoppage of charitable pensions and stipends tending in a great measure to the poverty of the Indians.
Under the old regime there was another thing which contributed to the prosperity of the people, viz., the custom of bestowing "Jagirs" (grants of land or presents). At the coronation of the Emperor Shah Jehan at Delhi, no less than 400,000 beegahs, 120 villages, and tens of thousands pounds of sterling were given away in presents. This is never done nowadays; and not only is it not the case now, but even "jagirs" (grants of land) bestowed on the recipients in former days have been forfeited. Having thus shown the unsatisfactory state into which the Zemindars and cultivators have fallen, I must also state that petty artisans have suffered severely by the opening up of the trade with England, as they cannot of course compete with machinery. No one even thinks nowadays of buying country-made thread or matches, and the country cloth weavers have been ruined. When by the Divine Will Hindustan became an appendage of the Crown of Great Britain, it was the duty of Government to enquire into and lessen as much as possible the suffenngs of its subjects. By not doing so, many who would otherwise have been staunch friends of the British joined the rebels.
[3.7] The investment of capital in Government loans.
The issue of Government Notes is another cause of injury to India, such as was never the case under any former Government. The interest of the money which Government borrowed, the expense of collecting the money to pay for that interest, and the benefit which Government derived from the money borrowed, were all taken from the country.
[3.8] Poverty the cause of the subject's rejoicing at the idea of a change of Government, and wishing for it.
Families who in former years and under the former rulers of this country were great and powerful have, under this Government, been reduced to poverty. This was one great reason of the dissatisfaction felt in lndia, and one great reason, in my opinion, why they were inclined for a change of rulers. When the British were victorious in Affghanistan, the people mourned. Why was this? Because they thought that they would now be compelled to relinquish the cherished faith of their forefathers and become Christians. When in addition of this Gwalior was conquered and the Punjab and Oudh annexed, this fear gained ground. In these native states, natives were eligible for high public posts, and native wares were always saleable there. When therefore the native Courts of these states were done away with, these openings and aids to the people of India were suddenly cut off.
The English Government had however, many, very many, good points. I do not condemn it entirely. The feeling of security which the subject enjoys under the British rule, of ease and of freedom, the many good roads, the putting down of dacoitee, thuggee and highway robbery; the facilities afforded to travellers, the ease with which merchants could transport their goods to far-off localities, the benefit to all, rich and poor alike, which accrued from the extension of the cheap postal system, the decrease of murders and deadly affrays, the protection of the poor from the oppression of the rich, these and many other blessings have never been enjoyed under any former Government, and in all probability never will. But it must be borne in mind that the benefits derived from the above do not efface the feeling that I have above portrayed.
Another thing is that this good government benefits more especially merchants and women, who have always been loud in their praises of it because it protected them from lawless affrays, from dacoitees, from the Amils (men formerly put in charge of Districts by the Sovereign and who exercised great oppression), and from many other numerous evils. They, therefore, deriving benefits as they did from the Government, were not against it.
[4.0] CAUSE IV -- NEGLECT IN MATTERS WHICH SHOULD HAVE RECEIVED CONSIDERATION FROM GOVERNMENT
I will now proceed to show what duties Government ought to have fulfilled and which it did not fulfill.
[4.1] Neglect in matters which should have received consideration of Government.
I feel it most necessary to say that which is in my heart and which I believe to be true even at the risk of its being distasteful to many of the ruling race. What I am now going to treat of is that which, if only done in a right way, will attract even wild animals, causing them to love instead of to dread, and which therefore will in a much greater degree attract men. I cannot here state at length what the benefits of friendship, intercourse and sympathy are, but I maintain that the maintenance of friendly relations between the governors and the governed is far more necessary than between individuals. Private friendships only affect a few; friendship and good feeling between a Government and its subjects affect a nation. As in private friendships two persons are united by the bond of a friendship, so also should a Government and its people be knit together in like manner.
[4.2] Want of cordiality towards the Indians.
The people and the Government I may liken to a tree, the latter being the root and the former the growth of that root. As the root is, so will the tree be. What! Was such intimacy impossible under this Government? Most certainly not. We have numerous instances in which foreigners and natives of countries have been brought in contact with each other and of their becoming friends, even when their religions and countries were different and widely separated. And why was this? Just because they wished, and did their utmost, to become so. How often do we not see strifes and enmities between people of the same race, religion, and customs. Friendship, intercourse, and sympathy are therefore not wholly dependent for their existence merely on the giver and recipient being of the same religion, race, or country.
Does not the Apostle Paul admonish us in these beautiful words: "And the Lord make you increase, and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you." (1st Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians Ch. III, Verse 12)? And does not Jesus admonish us in these words: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the Prophets" (Matthew VII, 12)?
These were meant to inculcate friendship and love to all men, and no one, no wise and thonghtful man, will say that the admonition is wrong, that friendship and love to our fellow-men are not beneficial, that their results are nil, and that they do not blot out much that is wicked. As yet, truth compels me to state, Government has not cultivated the friendship of its people as was its duty to do. The Creator has instilled it into the heart of man and the instinct of animals, that the strong should be kind to and care for the weak. The father loves his child before the child loves him. The man tries to win the woman, not the woman the man. If a man of low degree try to win the esteem of one in high position, he is liable to be styled a flatterer and not a friend. It was, therefore, for Government to try and win friendship of its subjects, not for the subjects to try and win that of the Government. If it had done so, the results would have been great and the people would have rejoiced. Alas! that it has not done so. If Government say that what I say is untrue, that they have tried to cultivate friendship and have only been repaid with enmity, I can only say, that if it had gone the right way to work, its subjects would most undoubtedly have been its friends and supporters, instead of, as in many instances, rising up in arms against it.
Now friendship is a feeling which springs from the heart and which cannot be kindled by "admonitions" Men may meet on very friendly terms, but it does not therefore follow that they are friends in the real sense of the word, that they are friends at heart as well as in outward signs. This is a link, as it were, between hearts; a man instinctively feels that he likes a man or the contrary. Government has hitherto kept itself as isolated from the people of India as if it had been the fire and they the dry grass, as if it thought that, were the two brought in contact, the latter would be burnt up. It and its people were like two different sorts of stone, one white and the other black, which stones too were being daily more and more widely separated. Now the relations between them ought to have been close like those between the streaks of white and black in the stone catIed Abri, in which we see the former close alongside of the latter, the one blending with the other. Government was, of course, perfectly right in maintaining special friendly relations with its Christian subjects (the English), but it was at the same time incumbent upon it to show towards its native subjects that brotherly kindness which the Apostle Paul exhorts us to in thesc words: "And to godliness, brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness, charity" (II Peter 1,7).
[4.3] In ancient times, as long as cordiality was not observed by the reigning powers, tranquillity was not established.
It must be borne in mind that the blood of the Mahommadan conquerors and that of the people of the country was not the same; that their faith was not the same; their manners and customs not the same; that in their hearts the people did not like them; and that at first there was little or no amalgamation of the two. What then was the secret of their becoming friends? Let us glance at the former Indian dynasties. First came that of the Mahommadan conquerors. In the reign of the Turks and Pathans, there was no intercourse between the conquerors and the conquered until the Government of the former was made firm and easy. A feeling of cordiality was first established in the reign of the Mogul Emperor Akbar I, and continued till the reign of Shah Jehan. No doubt, owing to many defects in the system of Government the people were subjected to many evils, but these were lightened by the feelings just mentioned This feeling, unfortunately, ceased during the reign of Alumgeer, A.D. 1779, when owing to the rebellion of several Hindoos of note, such as Sewajee the Mahratta, etc., Alumgeer vowed vengeance against them all and sent orders to all his Lieutenants to treat them with rigour and harshness and to exempt none from paying tribute. The injury and disaffection which therefore ensued are well known. Now the English Government has been in existence upwards of a century, and up to the present hour has not secured the affections of the people.
[4.4] Treating the Indians with contempt.
One great source of the stability of a Government is undoubtedly the treating of its subjects with honour and thus gaining their affections. Though a man's income be but small, treat him with honour and he is far more gratified than if he were presented with three or four times the amount than be [[=and were]] treated with contempt. Contempt is an ineradicable wrong. Being treated contemptuously sinks deep into a man's heart, and although uninjured by the same as to his worldly goods, he still becomes an enemy. The wound rankles deep and cannot be healed; that given by a sword can be healed, but that inflicted by a contemptuous word can not. The results of kindness are different: an enemy even, if treated courteously, become a friend; friends by friendly intercourse become greater friends; and strangers, if treated in a friendly manner, are no longer strangers. By kindness we make the brute creatures our willing slaves; how much more then would such treatment cement the bonds between a Government and its people? Now in the first years of the British rule in India, the people were heartily in favour of it. This good feeling the Government has now forfeited, and the natives very generally say that they are treated with contempt. A native gentleman in the eyes of any petty Official is as much lower than that Official, as that same Official esteems himself lower than a Duke. The opinion of many of these Officials is that no native can be a gentleman.
[4.5] The ill-temper and uncourtly address of local authorities towards the natives.
Now as Government is, throughout India, represented by its officials, it follows as a matter of course that the natives will judge of the temper of Government towards them by what they see of these officials. However good the intention of the Government with regard to its subjects may be, unless these same officials give practical proof thereof by kind treatment of the natives, the people will not believe in them. Theory and practice are not one and the same. In these days, or rather within the last few years, the feeling of officials towards natives is not nearly so favourable as was formerly the case. In olden days natives were treated with honour and in a friendly manner by these officials and, consequently, to use a native expression, "they carried their (the natives') hearts in their hands". They sympathized with them in their joys and sorrows, and this too notwithstanding their high position. They were consequently greatly liked, and the natives used to say, "How wonderful is the treatment from men in the highest position, who though wielding the reins of empire are still without pride!"
Natives of rank were also treated in a highly honourable manner. They (the officials) really followed the precepts of St. Peter; "And to Godliness, brotherly kindness; to brotherly kindness, charity." (II Peter V, 7). The reverse of which is, unfortunately, the case as regards the greater number of the officials of the present day. Has not their pride and arrogance caused them to esteem the Hindustanee as nothing in their eyes, and have not their ill-temper and want of solicitude for the natives caused them to be looked upon with dread by the latter? Is it not well-known to Government that even the natives of the highest rank never come into the presence of officials, but with an inward fear and trembling? Is it a secret that the "Amla" (native "court officials") are often addressed harshly and abused by their superiors whilst reading out papers to them? These men, many of them of good birth, often inwardly exclaim, "Oh! that I could gain my living otherwise; cutting grass by the way-side were better than this." I do not say that the behaviour of all English officials is like this. There are many who are well known for their kindness and friendly feeling toward the natives, and these are in consequence much beloved by them; [[they]] are, to use a native expression, as the sun and the moon to them, and are pointed out as types of the old race of officials.
These men truly follow the admonition of Christ Jesus who said to Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother when they were fishing, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." They, by their good character, have drawn the people to them, as it were, in a net; they have not treated them with useless arrogance, without which some think that a high position in the eyes of the natives cannot be kept up. They have earned that blessing which Christ enunciated: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew, V, 3). They have treated the people with gentleness and leniency and have ruled the land according to the precept: "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew, V, 5). They have also let their light shine before men, as Christ enjoined in Matthew (V, 16), "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven."
Few in number, wherever they are, they are held dear by the natives.
[4.6] This ill treatment more repugnant to the feelings of the Mahommadans, and its causes.
This treatment before alluded to was most offensive to all people of India, but most especially so to the Mahommadans. The reasons for this are clear. For centuries the Mahommadan's position in India has been an honourable one. There is an element of shame in his disposition. He has no grasping desire for money; he esteems honour above all other things; and there are many proofs on record, which shew that the Muhammadan is not easily brought to do that which, under the influence of temptation, other races in India will do without compunction. It may be that this is wrong, but God having instilled it into him, his views and feelings cannot easily be changed. It may be unfortunate, but it is inculcated into them by their religion and is no fault of theirs. This ill-treatment then it was, which pained them grievously and which caused them heartily to wish for a change of Governors and to hear with joy of anything that was opposed to the present Government. It is much to be regretted that the Mahommadans did not know that Government was doing its utmost to further their interests, their education, and to uphold their honour. This they did not know, as the intentions and wishes of Government were never made known by their various officials.
[4.7] Exclusion of natives from promotion to high appointments. Lord Bentinck's system of employing natives in high grades of service an inadequate one.
Another great reason for the dissatisfaction of the natives of India, and more especially of the Mahommadans, was the exclusion of the natives from high appointments. A few short years ago Mahommadans filled the most honourable posts under their government, and the desire and hope for such is still in them. Under the English Government they longed for the advancement of their honour in the eyes of the world, but there was no way open to them. In the early days of this Government, natives of rank were certainly singled out to fill high posts, but by degrees this fell into disuse. The assertion by Mahommadans, that the practice of holding examinations is a bad one, is a mistaken one. If they have not the qualifications to enable them to pass, they must not blame the system; undoubtedly the examination system goes far towards procuring an efficient staff of public servants, but many natives are appointed to high posts who, in the estimation of their countrymen, are very small indeed. In the giving of certificates very little was thought of family and honour. Lord Bentinck did most for the advancement of the natives in this respect, but the high appointments which he bestowed upon a select few were utterly inadequate to the wants of the people. English officers of the highest rank have often admitted this of late years. Now is the passing [[of]] an examination a sine qua non in England? Are the best English statesmen invariably those who have passed high examinations? Are high diplomatic posts not often given to them on account of their birth and practical common sense, and sometimes even without the latter qualification?
[4.8] The not holding of Durbars by the Governor General of India and not conferring rank and honour due to merit according to the usage of former emperors.
The people of India have from time immemorial been always in the habit of attending the Durbars (levees) of their Sovereign, and have always enjoyed seeing his pomp and state and influence. This feeling of gladness at the sight of the Sovereign is a feeling instinctively felt by every one. Man feels the power of the ruler when thus brought face to face with him, and acknowledges himself to be his subject. Now although the Governor General of India was certainly, whilst on tour, in the habit of holding durbars, still the few that he did hold were not sufficient for the wants of the country. Lords Auckland and Ellenborough held right regal durbars. This perhaps may not have been approved of by the Home Government, but it was a most excellent thing for India, although even their durbars were too few in number. May the Almighty always watch over and protect our most gracious sovereign Queen Victoria and Her representative in India, His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General. Let us hope that the heartfelt wants of the natives of this country may be listened to and gradually satisfied.
[4.9] The observation of these rules by Lords Auckland and Ellenborough a very proper one.
The only real kingdom is that of the Almighty who created the world. He, however, made the kings of this world as a type of what He Himself is, in order that man, on seeing his sovereign, should recollect that there is the still greater one who made him. For this reason many wise and able men have laid down that the good qualities of the Almighty, such as bounty, kindness, etc., should also be found represented in earthly kings, hence the title "Shadow of God." It is therefore incumbent on earthly kings to treat their subjects with that bountiful liberality with which the Almighty has treated the whole world. It may appear at first sight bad policy to spend the public money in rewarding slight services, but in my humble opinion this practice is calculated to increase the loyalty of the subject and thus to render the empire more stable. It is a well-known saying that "kindness and beneficience make slaves of men"; therefore, when the people see those virtues in their ruler, true love towards him and a desire to serve him faithfully and loyally are germinated in their hearts.
We know from history that this was the case in olden days and under various dynasties in India, and that the nobles and the people at large had honours and gifts, such as titles, money, land, and other valuables, bestowed upon them with no sparing hand. The recipients felt honoured and pleased, were held in greater honour by their brethren, and the nation at large liked the practice as being one which had come down to them from remote ages. Government put a stop to this, and no one could expect much in the way of rewards and honours from it. When, therefore, the people heard that the Government of India had been formally assumed by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, they rejoiced, as they were longing for a change.
The expenses of former rulers of India were of two sorts, viz., money spent on their own private luxuries and debauches, which were undoubtedly wrong and disapproved of by the people, and that spent in rewarding faithful servants, victorious generals, learned men, faqueers (men of sanctity), poets, beggars, or on the deserving poor, which latter expenditure was very popular. The discontinuance of the same by the British has displeased the people, especially the recipients, who from being always well cared for were unable to work for their bread. Now this system is undoubtedly bad, as it makes the people lazy and not induced to help themselves; and much better is it that the rewards be discontinued and freedom be granted to the subject, that thus he may earn his daily bread himself; but this boon of freedom can only be appreciated when the people become educated and contented and not all at once. It is like taking the reins out of a horse's mouth, turning him loose, and turning him out into the jungle to find his food for himself. What is the result? He either dies or remains a wild animal all his days, giving the rein to his passions. If a man be thus treated he will either rob, murder, or rebel.
[4.10] The facts of the rebellion in India appeared more serious to the authorities than they in reality were; their causes.
Men's minds under the influence of anger are apt to lose sight of the true causes of any event, and to be warped by a desire for vengeance. The events of the year 1857 were no doubt so dreadful as to justify the feelings of anger and desire for vengeance which had full possession of the hearts of the English during that awful year; but at the same time we must find out what, at that time, was the condition of Hindustan, how the rebellion really commenced, why it attained such a height, and why, in certain districts, more misled Mahommadans rebelled than in others.
It must be borne in mind that for centuries past the condition of India has been unsettled, that from time immemorial its people have been accustomed to flock in thousands to the standard of any powerful noble (Ameer) who attained any success in the field, and that they never held their doing so to be criminal, accepting responsible posts in the administration of his country for the time being. It is well known in India that the taking of service is no offence. Whoever pays is served. It is thought wrong not to tender allegiance to a king who may have been proclaimed king in the place of another deposed. The various kings and princes of Hindustan have never, on conquering an enemy's country, attached any blame to the servants, whether civil or military, of that enemy, and the people were aware of this.
When the leaders of the rebellion called for recruits, thousands of poor men, wanting service, flocked in and took it. They thought there was nothing wrong in doing so, as their livelihood was procured by such service. Many thought that the British rule in Hindustan was at an end, and that therefore it was their duty to tender their allegiance to the reigning powers, i.e., to the rebels. Many officials also thought that lives would be spared by feigning to be on the rebel side, and that when the British rule was re-established, they could throw off the mask. These men were, however, found guilty, although undoubtedly many amongst them were true subjects of the British. Many also there were, servants of government and others, who, under compulsion, or through ignorance, or from being merely mortal, committed themselves; and then thinking that their sin, committed perhaps under great temptation or perhaps under compulsion, would not be pardoned and would meet with severe punishment, cast in their lot entirely with the rebels. Others there were who had really done nothing; but through fear &c. joined the rebels. Many also, as before stated, joined them thinking it no crime to do so.
If the whole facts regarding the rebellion be thoroughly sifted, I feel certain that we shall find that just as many Hindoos were concerned therein as Mahommadans, and the proof of this will be found in what took place all over Hindustan. It must not be supposed that the reason why, in some districts, the Mahommadans who rebelled were greater in number than the Hindoos was that the King of Delhi, who was their head, claimed the throne of Delhi, or that they were in reality as rebellious as they seemed to be. No! Small acts said to have been committed by them were seized upon and magnified by their enemies, and the minds of the officials were worked upon and poisoned against them. The breach was thus widened, the English becoming more and more angry, and the Mahommadans more and more afraid and hopeless. It was their fate to have their actions misrepresented and to have the minds of their rulers poisoned against them. There were, no doubt, many Mahommadans who did rebel and whose rebellion we must enter in the Fifth Class. These men were delighted at the prospects of a change of government, for reasons already shown. Nevertheless, Government are no doubt well aware what race it was and what men, that proved most faithful even unto death. All men are guilty, in His eyes, who is the only true Ruler.
They are also guilty in the eyes of earthly kings, temporarily put into authority by Him.
The Psalmist has truly said, "Enter not into judgement with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified" (Psalm cxliii, 2). "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness; according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sins." (Psalms li, 1 and 2)
The Almighty is the preserver of our Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria. Words of mine cannot sufficiently praise the most merciful and considerate proclamation issued by Her Gracious Majesty.
[4.11] The promulgation of Her Majesty's Proclamation highly commendable, indeed may be said to have originated under divine inspiration.
The hand of tbe Almighty is on Her Gracious head and this proclamation has been inspired by God. There is an ancient custom in Hindustan, which is that whenever a new king ascends the throne, rightly or wrongly, all the nobles of the land present themselves to pay their respects. This was the case in the rebellion. When the people heard that the Emperor of Delhi had ascended the throne, they presented themselves, and whon he was deposed and imprisoned, men knew perfectly well that the same people would tender their allegiance to the English. The rebel army itself might perhaps not do this, but the reasons for their not doing so need not be treated of here.
[5.0] CAUSE V -- THE INSUBORDINATE STATE OF THE INDIAN FORCES
[5.1] The paucity of the English forces.
The English army system in lndia has always been faulty, and one great fault was the paucity of English troops. When Nadir Shah conquered Khorassan and became master of the two kingdoms of Persia and Affghanistan, he invariably kept the two armies at equal strength. The one consisted, or rather was composed, of Persians and Kuzul Bashies, and the other was composed of Affghans. When the Persian Army attempted to rise, the Affghan army was at hand to quell the rebellion, and vice versa. The English did not follow this precedent in lndia. The sepoy army was no doubt faithful in its day and served the Government well, but how could Government feel certain that it would never act contrary to its orders? What measures had Government taken for quelling at once on the spot any rebellion in that vast army, such as that which happened last year?
[5.2] If these two castes formed distinct Regiments perhaps the Mahommadans would not have objected to the use of the new cartridges.
Government certainly did put the two antagonistic races into the same regiment, but constant intercourse had done its work and the two races in regiment had almost become one. It is but natural and to be expected, that a feeling of friendship and brotherhood must spring up between the men of a regiment, constantly brought together as they are. They consider themselves as one body, and thus it was that the difference which exists between Hindus and Mahommadans had, in these regiments, been almost entirely smoothed away.
[5.3] The employment of Hindus and Mahommadans in the same regiment.
If a portion of the regiment engaged in anything, all the rest joined. If separate regiments of Hindoos and separate regiments of Mahommadans had been raised, this feeling of brotherhood could not have arisen, and, in my opinion, the Muhammadan regiments would not have refused to receive the new cartridges.
[5.4] The pride of the Indian forces and its causes.
Owing to the paucity of the European element, the people of India only stood in awe of the sepoys, who thus became puffed up with pride and thought that there were none like them in the world. They looked upon the European portion of the army as a myth, and thought that the many victories which the English had gained were gained entirely by their own prowess. A common saying of theirs was that they enabled the English to conquer Hindustan from Burmah to Cabul. This pride of the Sepoys was most marked after the Punjab was conquered. So far had it gone that they made objections to anything which they did not like and, I believe, even remonstrated when ordered to march consequent on the yearly reliefs.
It was precisely at this time, when the army was imbued with this feeling of pride and the knowledge or rather conjecture that Government would grant anything they stood out for, that the new cartridges were issued, cartridges which they really believed were made up with fat and the using of which would destroy their caste. They refused to bite them. When the regiment at Barrackpore was disbanded and the general order announcing the same was read out to each regiment, the deepest grief was felt throughout the army. They thought that the refusal to bite the cartridges, the biting of which would have destroyed their caste, was no crime at all; that the men of the disbanded regiment were not in the least to blame, and that their disbandment was an act utterly devoid of justice on the part of the Government. The whole army deeply regretted ever having had anything to do with Government. They felt that they had shed their blood in its cause and conquered many countries for it, that in return it wished to take away their caste and had dismissed those who had justly stood out for their rights. There was, however, no open rebellion just then, as they had only been disbanded and had not been treated with greater severity; but partly from feeling certain that the cartridges were mixed with fat, partly from grief at seeing their comrades disbanded at Barrackpore, and still more by reason of their pride, arrogance, and vanity, the whole army was determined, come what might, not to bite the cartridges.
[5.5] The league of the Indian Army against the use of the new cartridges: formed after January 1857.
Correspondence was undoubtedly actively carried on in the army after the events at Barrackpore, and messages were sent telling the men not to bite the cartridges. Up to this time there was a strong feeling of indignation and irritation in the army but, in my opinion, there was no intention of rebelling.
[5.6] The impropriety of punishing the non-commissioned officers at Meerut, which touched the vanity of the Indian forces.
The fatal month of May 1857 was now at hand, in which the army was punished in a manner which thinking men know to have been most wrong and most inopportune. The anger which the news of this punishment created in the minds of the Sepoys was intense. The prisoners, on seeing their hands and feet manacled, looked at their medals and wept. They remembered their services and thought how they had been recompensed, and their pride, which as I have before said was the feeling of the whole army, caused them to feel the degradation all the more keenly. Then the rest of the troops at Meerut were fully persuaded that they would either be compelled to bite the cartridges or undergo the same punishment. This rage and grief led to the fearful events of the l0th of May, which events are unparalleled in the annals of history. After committing themselves thus, the mutineers had no choice left but to continue in their career of rebellion.
[5.7] Want of confidence in the Indian forces towards Government after the occurrence of Meerut.
When the news of the outbreak became known, the irritation of the sepoys increased. The whole army felt that their confidence in Government was at an end, that Government was only waiting for an opportunity to punish them all, and hence it was that their confidence in what their officers did and said was scattered to the winds. They used to say, "Government says this and that just at present, but when all is quiet again it will not do what it says it will do."
I state on the best authority that thousands of the Sepoys who composed the rebel army in Delhi were sorry for the acts that had been committed and for having rebelled so insanely. Whilst the seige was going on, they used to say with tears in their eyes that fate had caused them to do this. "What could we do," said they, "except rebel? We were never sure what. punishment was in store for us, as Government had no confidence in us. On an opportunity offering, we should [[=would]] have been compelled to do anything." At the commencement of the rebellion, when it was known that a force was going to be sent out towards the river Hindan but before any force had gone out, many stated it to be their conviction that when the two opposing forces met, the whole of the native portion would desert from the British. This was verified by the results; and the reason for it was that when it came to fighting against their brethren, no one would remain true; as they said, "when with our aid the English conquer our comrades, they will then turn their attention to us!" All therefore joined in the rebellion; even those who wished to remain faithful to their salt were carried away by the majority. Now the people were perfectly well aware that the Government were almost entirely dependent on the Sepoy army; when therefore it became known that that army had revolted, the people also became riotous. They no longer were in awe of the Government.
[5.8] Why the mutiny did not break out in the Punjab, and its causes.
Let us now see how these opinions of mine affect the rebellion or "part rebellion" which took place in the Punjab. The Mahommadans there had been greatly oppressed by the Sikhs, and had received no injury at the hands of the British. When the British first took the country, oppression was rife. This was day by day decreasing, whilst the contrary was the case in Hindustan proper.
The whole of the Punjab, when first annexed, was disarmed, and thus the weapons necessary for rebellion were not forthcoming. The Sikhs, too, though not so wealthy as in former days, had still sufficient to live upon, chiefly from monies which they had inherited. The poverty which was rife in Hindustan had not yet had time to become rife in the Punjab.
Besides these, there were other cogent reasons why the Punjab remained tranquil. Firstly, there was a powerful European army on the spot. Secondly, the wisdom shown by the officials in at once disarming the sepoys. Thirdly, the number of the rivers and the shutting up of the ferries on them, which rendered the few who did rebel, powerless. Fourthly, all the Sikhs, Punjabees and Pathans who might otherwise have tried their hand at rebellion had already taken service or were being formed into corps, and the desire for the plunder of Hindustan was strong in them. We thus find that the service which the people of India took in the rebel army under such difficulty and changes was easily obtained in Government services in the Punjab. The circumstances of the Punjab were quite different from those of Hindustan proper.
N O T E S
/1/ Before this book was put into press, the Government of India was taken by Her Majesty the Queen in her own hands from the East India Company; and as the book chiefly related to the rule of the E. I. Company in Hindustan, it was not published.