« PreviousContinue »
If this and the preceding Articles on the Madras Land Revenue tend to correct any misapprehensions, to remove any difficulties, and to show that the Governments of the several Presidencies are really desirous of moving in the same direction; if they in any way aid towards the establishment in India of an independent body of Landholders, and if they thus vindicate the principles of that great Man whose name every Madras officer holds in reverence, they will have accomplished their object.
ART. VI.-1. Service and Adventure with the Khakee Ressallah, or the Meerut Volunteer Horse, during the Mutinies of 1857-58. By ROBERT HENRY WALLACE DUNLOP. London. 1858.
The Chaplain's Narrative of the Siege of Delhi, from the Outbreak at Meerut to the Capture of Delhi. By JOHN EDWARD WHARTON ROTTON, M. A., of Emmanuel College, Cambridge; one of the Chaplains of Meerut, and Chaplain to the Delhi Field Force. With a plan of the City. London: Smith Elder & Co. 1858.
Personal Adventures during the Indian Rebellion in Rohilcund, Futtehgurh and Oude. By WILLIAM EDWARDS, ESQ., B. C. S. London: Smith Elder & Co. 1858.
Notes on the Revolt in the North-West Provinces of India. By CHARLES RAIKES, Judge of the Sudder Court at Agra &c. London: Longman & Co. 1858.
5. An Account of the Mutinies in Oudh. By MARTIN RICHARD GUBBINS, of the Bengal Civil Service, Financial Commissioner for Oudh. London. Bentley. 1858.
6. Eight Months' Campaign against the Bengal Sepoy Army, during the Mutiny of 1857. By COLONEL GEORGE BOURCHIER, C. B., Bengal Horse Artillery. London: Smith Elder & Co. 1858.
7. Topics for Indian Statesmen. By JOHN BRUCE NORTON, Madras. Edited by G. R. NORTON. London: Richardson Brothers. 1858.
IN the Critical Notices of Works in India published in our last number, we entered somewhat in detail into a consideration of the majority of the above books. Our purpose in the present article is a more general, and perhaps useful one-to look at them as combined and as a class, and while giving a brief description of the nature of each for the benefit of those who have not yet read them, chiefly to treat them as affording material for reflections on the events of the past two years, as well as certain literary results and effects.
Mr. Rotton's book is an unpretending "narrative" of one of the most important sieges recorded in modern history. When the temporary triumph of our insolent Janizaries had made of Delhi a focus for revolt, it at the same time suggested the only possible strategics for the then representatives of British power in Upper India-the Commander of the Forces, and Sir John Lawrence. There, on one side, up to about the end of July, gathered the ever increasing strength of the traitorous muti
neer force; thence, strong in the possession of a "legitimate" monarch, an inexhaustible arsenal, and an army completely found with the arms and discipline of modern European warfare, our foes continued to improve the advantages of surprize, and to hurl defiance at the remnant of their late masters; while furnishing example and inducement to the rest of the Army to follow in their steps. Nor was the call unheeded. It is not likely to be soon forgotten by any in this country, how from Peshawur to Dacca the soldiery of the Bengal Army-with a few noble and memorable exceptions, in omne miles nobilis ævum-flocked to the stronghold of rebellion. On the other side, British power, awaking with a stagger, like a man struck in his sleep, slowly gathered its resources, and bore down on the common centre of gravity. Here then is the real nucleus of the war, on this must have been bent alike the aspirations of each contending party. Those of the rebel leaders who knew any-. thing, knew that they must beat the English there and then, or never; the British, for their part, knew that to fail at Delhi might compromise every Christian life in the country, and render necessary the re-conquest of all India. And when Delhi fell, there could have been but few European residents of this Presi-: dency, at any rate, who did not breathe more freely, as though. a knife had been taken from off their throats. None of the subsequent operations, however interesting, can have been felt to the same degree, as matters of life and death; obviously, then, the subject of Mr. Rotton's narrative, and of the letters of the cool and patriotic Agent, Mr. Greathed, must take precedence of all others connected with the war.
. Mr. Edwards is a Layman, a circumstance which renders acceptable the strain of piety which is woven through his book. That a man pressed and hunted, and owing his daily bread and his safety to the precarious fidelity of native agriculturists who were under no obligation to him, should find comfort in the perusal of the Psalms and other portions of Scripture, is not wonderful, and is morcover pleasing when related in a manly way. The events minutely detailed move the best emotions of the reader, who cannot fail to follow the pathetic fortunes of the fugitives with warm and anxious pity. Nor are the noble traits shewn by their heathen hosts less worthy of remark. At great personal risk, with the temptation of large rewards, Hurdeo Buksh and his subordinates disregarded either threats or promises, which involv-. ed the breach of what must have been a tedious and onerous hospitality; Wuzeer Singh remained faithful, at all risks, to his master's fortunes; Rohna (an utter stranger) bore practical testimony to his gratitude for past good treatment from the British Commissariat officers in the Sutlej Campaign, by now carrying,
on two separate occasions, through all the watch and ward of an enemy's country, letters to the distant hill-station of Nynee Tal, and returning on both occasions with the replies to Hurdeo Buksh's village, and bringing gleams of comfort to the captive exiles; and lastly, Misser Bejjenath, the well known Banker of Bareilly, sent a servant-unsolicited-with a draft on Futtehgurh, and the servant actually went to Futtehgurh (then in possession of the enemy) cashed the draft, and returned to Mr. Edwards with the money. Throughout his wanderings Mr. E. gathered much, and might have gathered more, of native feeling. With the gross credulity of ignorance, those around him verily believed that the British power in India was at an end, and to him its last precarious representative, spoke their minds pretty freely. None of that burning hatred of race comes out which some would look for; frequent testimony is borne to the justice and kindness of English officers: it is the native employés who are everywhere denounced.
In Mr. Dunlop's book we have the reverse of most of this picture. Here the Collector, recovering from the short paralysis of power, is seen in the saddle, with sword and pistol, leading his gallant volunteers against the Goojur and other marauders of the Meerut district, who had taken their opportunity and resumed the Rob Roy régime of their forefathers. They had taken what they had power to take; they could keep but little. First the plundered property, and then the Government revenue, were extorted from these unappreciated statesmen, and lucky was he who kept his own skin. In one foray the Khakees slew upwards of three hundred with their leader Sah Mull, whose head did duty as a standard, upraised on the top of a lance! From the favorable manner in which Mr. Dunlop's book has been received by the Home Press, we presume it will reach a second edition, in which case we would recommend a more methodical arrangement of the illustrations, in accordance especially with the description on page 19 (if that be retained.) should also like to see some details of the services of the other more distinguished members of the force; together with some general remarks on the means of defence as connected with Volunteer Corps, which should be formed, we think, at all large stations. Without endorsing the satirical comment of an opponent of Mr. Dunlop, that "his book is as full of Is as a peacock's tail," it may be proper to remark that a less exclusive confinement to a merely personal narrative would, in this case, render the volume more interesting and valuable, from the very circumstance of its differing, as it does, from the work of Mr. Edwards. The concluding remarks are very good, and we would call especial notice to their really religious tone, so free from
that conventional solemnity which poor Tom Hood used to call "Magpiety."
"Let us act as those who know that we are not only servants of the British Government, but ministers of that God to whom justice and mercy, as well as vengeance, belong; that we shall all one day stand, our enemies and their victims, ourselves and the men now almost daily ordered for execution, before an unerring and all-wise judgment seat; where the plea of natural or national prejudice will not bar a judgment, the term of which extends to eternity."
Mr. Raikes is a member of the Civil Service like the authors of the two preceding books; unlike them he is already wellknown both for his professional services, and for the very agreeable brochure in which he attempted, not without success, to popularize the mysterious subject of Indian landed tenures. The first division of his present book contains his personal experiences as a member of the Agra garrison, and must yield in interest to the three previously noticed. The Agra garrison was only once in any thing like actual contact with the enemy, before the fall of Delhi; and, though far from meriting the sweeping condemnations of Colonel Bourchier, attained a wider reputation for internal contention than for sustained exposure in the field. More important, especially from such a source, are the didactic portions of the conclusion; and the admission, not yet perhaps too late, that the Tarquinian policy of beheading the tall poppies is fundamentally erroneous. These remarks should be carefully studied by all, either here or at home, who wish to "go in for the condition of India ques'tion."
No. 5 is by another civil officer, and has been already made very widely known. The third edition is got up in a very complete manner, and leaves nothing to be desired in a literary point of view. Mr. Gubbins has produced one of the most interesting of the books of the crisis. It is a pity that he should have so disfigured it by allowing his own evidently wounded feelings to appear, and by striving to dim the stainless lustre of the character and abilities of the great Sir Henry Law
We wish we could say the same for the volume by Colonel Bourchier; who, in spite of his rank, writes (if we may say so) like a "griff." griff." With much of the light-heartedness of the proverbial Bengal Subaltern, his book is unfortunately blemished by a careless execution, and a prejudiced ignorance, which we would hope are not necessarily typical of that gallant class. The ablative absolute, moreover, is a favorite form of grammar, of which many whimsical specimens might be selected; the following may suffice; "little dreaming of any opposition to my