Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Civil Servant in Burma
Author: White, Herbert Thirkel
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Civil Servant in Burma" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



    Transcriber's Note:

    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
    possible, including some inconsistent hyphenation and accents. The
    erratum noted after the list of illustrations has been fixed. Some
    other changes have been made. They are listed at the end of the
    text.

    The sentence concerning the penalty for wrongly dividing a word at
    the end of a line has been separated from the surrounding paragraph
    to prevent re-wrapping.

    Italic text has been marked with _underscores_.



A CIVIL SERVANT IN BURMA



[Illustration: BUDDHA’S FOOT.]



                            A CIVIL SERVANT
                                IN BURMA

                                   BY
                  SIR HERBERT THIRKELL WHITE, K.C.I.E.

                           WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

                                 LONDON
                             EDWARD ARNOLD
                                  1913
                        (_All rights reserved_)



                                   TO
                                MY WIFE
                               WHO SHARED
                            MY LIFE IN BURMA
                     FOR MORE THAN THIRTY-TWO YEARS



PREFACE


This is not a guide-book, or a history, or a study of manners and
customs. It is a plain story of official life for more than thirty
years. It does not compete with any of the books already written about
Burma, except, perhaps, the monumental work of General Fytche. While
pursuing as a rule a track of chronological order, I have not hesitated
to wander into by-paths of dissertation and description. I could not
write without attempting to give fragmentary impressions of the people
and their character. As far as possible I have limited my narrative
to events within my own knowledge; my judgments are based on my own
observation.

I have to express my acknowledgments to the friends who have given me
photographs to illustrate the book. My special thanks are due to Mr.
A. Leeds, I.C.S. (retired), for a large number of characteristic and
charming pictures.

                                                                H. T. W.

_September, 1913._



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                                     PAGE

    I. INTRODUCTORY: A RETROSPECT AND SOME COMPARISONS         1

   II. EARLY YEARS AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS                      16

  III. THE FIRST SUBDIVISION: THE SECRETARIAT                 36

   IV. SOME ASPECTS OF BURMESE LIFE AND CHARACTER             55

    V. ON THE FRONTIER                                        73

   VI. THE SECRETARIAT: THE LAST SUBDIVISION                  90

  VII. THE TAKING OF MANDALAY                                 99

 VIII. EARLY DAYS AT MANDALAY                                114

   IX. LORD DUFFERIN’S VISIT--MANDALAY ONCE MORE             137

    X. THE FIRST YEAR AFTER THE ANNEXATION                   154

   XI. A FEW WORDS ON BUDDHISM                               183

  XII. UNDER SIR CHARLES CROSTHWAITE, 1887-1890              201

 XIII. A VISIT TO THE SHAN STATES                            225

  XIV. RANGOON--MANDALAY                                     235

   XV. LOWER BURMA ONCE MORE                                 256

  XVI. MANDALAY: THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION                     266

 XVII. THE CHIEF COURT--LAST YEARS IN BURMA                  285

       GLOSSARY                                              307

       INDEX                                                 309



NOTE


Burmese words are spelt according to the Government system of
transliteration. Consonants have the same power as in English. _Y_
after _g_ combines to form a sound approximating to _j_: _gyi_ = “jee”;
after every other consonant it is short--_my̆o_. _Yw_ is pronounced
“yu.” Vowels and diphthongs have the sounds given below:

        _a_ = _a_ in “Ma.”
        _e_ = _a_ in “bane.”
        _è_ = _e_ in French “père,” without any sound of _r_ following.
        _i_ = _ee_ in “feet.”
 _o_ or _ô_ = _o_ in “bone.”
        _u_ = _oo_ in “fool.”
       _au_ = _ow_ in “cow.”
       _ai_ = _i_ in “line.”
       _ei_ = _ei_ in “vein.”
       _aw_ = _aw_ in “law.”

Every letter, except _y_ after _g_, is sounded separately, including
final vowels. Thus, _lu-gale_ is pronounced “loo-ga-lay.” These
instructions are crude and unscientific, and may excite the derision of
purists. They will enable anyone to pronounce Burmese words with some
approach to correctness. In the case of Shan names I have as a rule
adopted the Burmese forms rather than the Shan forms in official use,
which no one who does not know the language can pretend to pronounce
properly.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


 BUDDHA’S FOOT (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                 _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

 BURMESE HOUSES (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                            48

 CHIN-LON (_Photograph by E. G. N. Kinch_)                            58

 THE POTTER (_Photograph by E. G. N. Kinch_)                          64

 THE MY̆O-ÔK-GADAW (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                          64

 SNAKE PAGODA (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                              70

 BURMESE GIRL WORSHIPPING (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                  70

 WHEN THE FLOODS ARE OUT (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                   84

 THE CITY WALL, MANDALAY (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                  120

 ROW OF BUDDHAS (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                           128

 RELEASING TURTLE (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                         128

 A BURMESE FAMILY (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                         162

 THE SAWBWA OF THIBAW (_Photograph by London
    Stereoscopic Company_)                                           174

 MONASTERY WITH CARVING (_Photograph by A. Leeds_)                   184

 THE THATHA-NA-BAING (_Photograph by Watts and Skeen, Rangoon_)      190

 A MONASTERY (_Photograph by E. G. N. Kinch_)                        200

 PAGODA AT MONE (_Photograph by Sir J. G. Scott, K.C.I.E._)          226

 THE PAUNGDAWU FESTIVAL (_Photograph by Sir J. G. Scott,
    K.C.I.E._)                                                       232

 BO CHO AND HIS SONS                                                 260



ERRATUM.


Page 12, footnote *, _for_ “Admiral,” _read_ “General,” and _delete_
“naval.”



A CIVIL SERVANT IN BURMA



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY: A RETROSPECT AND SOME COMPARISONS


Burma is a Province of the Indian Empire. It is not, as some suppose,
a Crown Colony administered directly under the Colonial Office. Nor
is it, as others do vainly talk, a foreign State where Britain is
represented by Consuls. It is the largest, yet the least populous,
of Indian Provinces, more extensive even than undivided Bengal. The
estimated area is over two hundred and thirty thousand square miles,
larger than either France or Germany. According to the last census
(1911), the population is about twelve millions. On the west, its
seaboard washed by the Bay of Bengal, Burma marches with Bengal, Assam,
and Manipur; on the east, with China, French Indo-China, and Siam. To
the north, it stretches, through tracts unadministered and unexplored,
to the confines of Tibet. The mass of the people are Burmans, a Mongol
race akin to Chinese and Siamese. Other races in Burma are Talaings,
scattered over the Irrawaddy Delta and the Tenasserim division;
Shans, who occupy the great plateau on the east and are also found
in the northern districts; Karens, whose home is Karenni, but who are
widely spread over Lower Burma; Kachins, people of the hills on the
north-east; and Chins, of many clans, inhabiting the hill-country on
the north-west border.

From the middle of the eighteenth century Burma was ruled by the
dynasty of Alaungpaya, corruptly called Alompra. Alaungpaya seems to
have been a Dacoit chief who began his career at Shwebo,[1] and made
himself master of the whole country. In his time the Burmese were a
warlike people, withstanding the might of China, and carrying their
victorious standards into Siam. Ten Princes[2] of his House ruled over
the whole, or part, of his kingdom. In 1826, after the First Burmese
War, the Provinces of Tenasserim and Arakan were annexed by the East
India Company, the central block from the sea to Tibet remaining under
the Burmese King. In 1852 the Province of Pegu was conquered. In 1862
Pegu, Tenasserim, and Arakan were combined to form the Province of
British Burma, and placed in charge of a Chief Commissioner directly
responsible to the Government of India. In 1885 occurred the Third
Burmese War. Early in 1886, Upper Burma, all that remained under
native rule, was incorporated in the British Empire. Burma continued
to be administered by a Chief Commissioner till 1897, when the first
Lieutenant-Governor was appointed.

These elementary facts are recorded for the benefit of any who may be
thankful for geographical and historical information about distant
dependencies of the Crown. We all know the story of Cape Breton. Most
of us have met people who think that our connection with Burma began
in 1885; that Burma regiments are manned by Burman sepoys; that, to
cite an alien instance, Bengalis serve in the Indian Army. Even what
was long regarded as the mythical confusion of Burma with Bermuda was
seriously printed in a London weekly last year, and all the newspapers
told how an officer who entered the Army in 1886 served in the _Second_
Burmese War. Errors like these justify the platitudes of the preceding
paragraphs.

When I first became acquainted with Burma, the system of administration
was comparatively simple. The Province consisted of three divisions,
each under a Commissioner. Subordinate to the Commissioner were
Deputy Commissioners, each in charge of a district. Under the
Deputy-Commissioner were subdivisional and township officers, in
charge respectively of subdivisions and townships. These jurisdictions
still remain. In those distant days townships were further divided
into circles, the territorial unit of administration, constituted
primarily for revenue purposes. Each circle was in charge of a Taik
Thugyi,[3] a native official of position and dignity and often of
considerable wealth. The Taik Thugyi collected capitation tax and
land and fishery revenue, the main sources of the Provincial income,
and received a substantial commission on the returns. Except as a
tax-collector, he had no statutory powers. But he was the chief man in
his circle, and, if of strong character, exercised great influence.
Every village had its headman, called the Kye-dan-gyi,[4] with onerous
duties and incommensurate powers and emoluments. In recent years
circle and village organization has been reformed. Taik Thugyis have
been abolished or are in course of abolition. The village is now
the administrative unit. The Ywa Thugyi[5] is the local judge and
magistrate, with extensive powers and a respectable position.

Except of purely Imperial offices, such as Post and Telegraphs, the
Commissioner was the head of all Departments in the division. As
Sessions Judge he was also the chief judicial officer. In like manner
the Deputy Commissioner controlled every branch of the administration
in his district. The bulk of petty revenue, criminal, and civil work
was done by Assistant Commissioners, Extra Assistant Commissioners,[6]
and My̆o-ôks,[7] in charge of subdivisions and townships. Most of the
Extra Assistants and all the My̆o-ôks were natives of Burma. I think it
is true that early in 1878 no Burmese officer exercised higher powers
than those of a third-class magistrate, and not one was in charge of a
subdivision.

The judicial administration was controlled by a Judicial Commissioner,
who was the High Court for the whole country except Rangoon, and who
was always deputed from another Province. When I joined, the late Mr.
J. D. Sandford was Judicial Commissioner. In Rangoon the reins of
justice were in the strong hands of the Recorder (the late Mr. C. J.
Wilkinson). The Judicial Commissioner and the Recorder sat together in
a quaint tribunal called the Special Court, which heard appeals from
the decisions of each of its members. When the Judges of the Special
Court failed to agree, a difficult position occurred. The High Court at
Calcutta exercised anomalous jurisdiction in certain cases. Except the
Judicial Commissioner, the Recorder, the Judge of Moulmein, and a Small
Cause Court Judge or two, there were no officers occupied exclusively
with judicial work. All exercised judicial and executive functions.
Divisional, Sessions, District, Subdivisional, and Township Judges, who
now flourish in luxuriant abundance, were not even in the bud.

The rank and file of the police were mostly Burmans, with some
admixture of Indians not of a very good class. The superior officers,
District and Assistant Superintendents, were men of experience, well
acquainted with the people. A few military officers still remained
in the civil police, Major T. Lowndes[8] being Inspector-General.
Perhaps the best-known of the British officers were Messrs. Perreau,
Fforde, Jameson, and Dixon, and Major C. A. Munro. The Burmese
officers--inspectors and head constables--were all men who had risen
from the ranks. Every one of them had to enlist as a constable and work
his way upward. The system was not without merit, and was well suited
to the idiosyncrasy of the Burmese race. One distinguished Talaing
officer held the rank of Superintendent of Police, though without a
district charge. This was Maung Shwe Kyi, who was a King on the Siamese
border at Kawkareik. One of the bravest and most resolute of men, his
good service was recognized by his inclusion in the first list of
Companions of the Order of the Indian Empire. His son carries on the
tradition of his family.

The Forest Department was in its early lusty youth vigorously directed
by a single Conservator, Mr. B. Ribbentrop,[9] assisted by a small
but very able staff. Burmese teak had long been a staple product of
great value; its care and development were the main duties of forest
officers. The forest law was, and still remains, complex, logical,
meticulous. I venture the humble suggestion that its exceeding
obscurity may be due to the nationality of the pioneers of forest
administration in India. We were taught forestry by Germans of great
ability and high scientific attainments, who framed the statutes of
their department as if they were metaphysical treatises. They created
a great and efficient branch of the administration. But they enveloped
its principles in a mist which baffles the ordinary lay intelligence,
and can be pierced only by the philosophic mind, made, or at least
trained, in Germany.

Supreme over all was the Chief Commissioner (then Mr. Rivers
Thompson[10]), assisted by a small but capable secretariat, which
worked for long hours in a small office on the Strand Road in Rangoon.
The Secretary, Major C. W. Street, was a military civilian of character
and ability. The Junior Secretary was Mr. R. H. Pilcher, C.S., who
had been Assistant Resident in Mandalay, and was most learned in
the Burmese and Shan tongues. My old friend, Mr. G. C. Kynoch, was
Assistant Secretary. None of these survives.

The higher officers entrusted with the general administration, as
distinct from special branches, constituted the Commission. In the
Commission were included the Chief Commissioner, Judicial Commissioner,
Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, and Assistant Commissioners. It
was composed of Indian civilians, officers of the Indian Staff Corps,
and uncovenanted[11] officers. Civilians were few in number. Burma
was not considered of sufficient importance to have men assigned to
it after the open competitions. Men were sent thither for their sins,
either permanently or for a term of years. A Chief Commissioner’s wife
is said to have told one of these young men that other Provinces sent
their worst men to Burma. However this may be, no doubt Burma was
regarded as a place of banishment, a dismal rice-swamp (or, as was
once said, a howling paddy[12]-plain), where the sun never shone. I
remember, while still in London, the commiseration expressed with one
of our seniors whose deportation to this dreary land was announced.
All this was fiction, falser than the Roman’s conception of Britain.
I found Burma a bright and pleasant land, green and forest-clad, with
a climate healthier on the whole than the average climate of Indian
plains; its people singularly human, cheerful, and sympathetic; its
officers of all ranks companionable and friendly. My own considered
opinion is that, in many respects, Burma was one of the best provinces
for a public servant. It is true that, at first, with only British
or Lower Burma open to us, with but little variety of climate, we
were rather cribbed and confined. The rains, lasting from May to
October, began to pall about the middle of August. Fungus growth on
boots was displeasing. The Province was (it still is) expensive, and
promotion was slow. It took Sir Harvey Adamson and myself, who were
contemporaries, over seven years to get a step of substantive rank.
But there were compensations in the lightness of the work (except in
the Secretariat), in the charm and attractiveness of the people, in
the excellent good-fellowship of our brother-officers, in the hope
that before long we should be in Mandalay, and that united Burma would
give ample scope and opportunity. Burmese cheroots, too, cost only
eightpence a hundred.

Among the military civilians were men of conspicuous ability, trained
in the school of Sir Arthur Phayre, whose name is still reverenced
throughout Burma, and who stands in the first class of Indian statesmen
and administrators. Many of them had taken an active part in the
pacification of Pegu after the Second War, and were thoroughly familiar
with the Province and its people, their language and customs. I yield
to none in high appreciation of the men of my own Service. They have
done as good work in Burma, and have got as near to the people, as
any men in India. But military civilians also have maintained to this
day an honourable record, and have furnished to the Commission many
valuable officers. I was just too late to know Colonel David Brown
(Brown-gyi[13]), whose memory still lives in the Province. Colonel
Horace Browne,[14] Colonel A. G. Duff, Captain C. H. E. Adamson,[15]
Colonel W. C. Plant, are among the notable soldier-civilians of my
early service. Other officers, afterwards well-known, were Mr. de
Courcy Ireland, the first officer of his Service in India to become a
commissioner; Mr. A. H. Hildebrand,[16] the first Superintendent of the
Shan States; and Johnny Davis, of Papun, whose knowledge of Burma and
the Burmese was unique. When I joined, all the divisions were in charge
of military officers, and with one or two exceptions, military and
uncovenanted officers ruled every district.

In 1878 there was one line of railway, 160 miles in length, from
Rangoon to Prome on the Irrawaddy. To and from Toungoo, a station on
the Burmese frontier, the journey had to be made by way of the Sittang
River, and occupied about a fortnight. Once upon a time, a man started
from Toungoo with a friend. They travelled in separate boats, in one of
which was stored all the provisions for the voyage. The commissariat
boat started first, and my man never saw his friend again till he
reached Rangoon. For a fortnight he had to subsist on such scanty fare
as he could pick up on the river-bank. When I saw him soon afterwards,
he was perceptibly thinner and still full of wrath. Toungoo is now on
the Mandalay line, and is reached in a few hours. There are 1,529 miles
of railways in Burma; lines to Mandalay, to Myit-kyi-na in the extreme
north, to Alôn on the Chindwin, to Moulmein, one of our ports, to
Lashio in the Northern Shan States, in mid-air on the way to China, to
Bassein and Henzada in the Delta. The sea-borne trade has made immense
progress. In 1878 it was valued at £15,684,920; in 1911 at nearly
£43,000,000.

The garrison consisted of two battalions of British infantry, one of
which gave a detachment to the Andamans, five Madras regiments, and
five batteries of artillery. Troops were stationed at Rangoon, on the
frontier at Toungoo and Thayet-myo, and at Moulmein. There were no
troops in Arakan. There were no military police. The Province was in a
state of profound peace, though there were occasional dacoities on the
borders, and, as always, Tharrawaddy had a bad name.

Of Rangoon in those early days, separate mention may be made. One
glory it had which still abides. The Shwe Dagôn Pagoda, most sacred
and most illustrious of pure Buddhist shrines, dominating the
landscape, rose golden to the sky. From far the traveller approaching
Rangoon from the sea caught sight of that amazing shaft of gold, and
instinctively did reverence. In the bright winter sunshine, in the blue
haze of summer heat, in the veiled mysteries of tropic moonlight, it
towered awe-inspiring, stupendous, divine. On feast days and sabbaths
the platform was thronged with worshippers, surely the brightest,
best-humoured, most laughter-loving of all pious crowds. Even now one
can imagine no scene more gracious, more mystically serene and lovely,
than the pagoda in the light of the full moon, when all that is tawdry
and unseemly is charmed away. But thirty years ago, before the platform
was covered with modern shrines not all in harmony with æsthetic
canons, it was still more gravely and austerely beautiful.

In recent years the erection of new buildings on the pagoda platform,
already overcrowded, has been forbidden. This probably is wise and
right. Being in the centre of a fort, with an arsenal in close
proximity, the pagoda is in military custody. The presence of the
arsenal is a menace to the safety of this famous shrine. A serious
explosion would shatter the fabric and irreparably destroy one of the
wonders of the world. The pagoda would be the natural place of refuge
in time of serious disturbance. For this reason, among others, the
continuance of military control is essential. But the removal of the
arsenal to a distance is an urgent necessity.

After its occupation in 1852, Rangoon was carefully laid out on a
systematic plan, with straight streets of varying width. The broadest
road, edged with shady trees, ran from Soolay Pagoda up to the
cantonment, as fine a thoroughfare as could be seen in East or West.
In the early fifties some far-seeing benefactor planted along Godwin
Road[17] a glorious avenue of padauk, and earned the blessings of men
later born. Three times, at the approach of the rains, these stately
trees burst forth for a day in petals as beautiful and as fleeting
as fairy gold. Then one drives under a canopy of gold, over a golden
carpet of fallen flowers, amidst a crowd each bearing a golden blossom.
To see this lovely sight you must live in Burma. It comes too late in
the season for the casual visitor.

The main lines of the plan of Rangoon have been preserved, and are as
at first designed. But the past thirty years have seen many changes.
In 1878, though there were many strangers within its borders, Rangoon
was still a Burmese town. Now it is the third port in the Indian
Empire,[18] a vast city of over a quarter of a million of people,
speaking a pentecostal variety of tongues, among whom Burmans are a
dwindling minority. Then the cantonment, no doubt of needlessly vast
extent, occupying a wide space on every side of the pagoda, was like a
picturesque park, studded with little wooden houses, each surrounded
by an ample shady garden. Halpin Road, by some sentimentalists called
the Ladies’ Mile, with a humble but select gymkhana[19] at one end,
was restricted to the use of the military and civil community. Now the
gymkhana has been quadrupled in size, and far more than quadrupled in
membership. Jehus of all races and classes raise the dust of Halpin
Road in dogcarts, landaus, and motor-cars. A great modern hotel
occupies a large space; houses of a decadent type, planted as close
together as suburban villas, have devastated the pretty cantonment;
natives of wealth and position live on sites once reserved for the
sovereign race. Doubtless all these are signs of progress. But they
shock the æsthetic sense. The Pegu Club was housed in Cheape Road,
in a wooden building not long ago dismantled. On the Royal Lake a
few boats afforded exercise and pastime. If your boat upset, you
were fined for illegal bathing; and if you scrambled back into your
boat, you were fined for embarking elsewhere than at the prescribed
jetty. Dalhousie Park, it may be gratefully admitted, has been much
improved, mainly by the devoted attention of the late Mr. John Short.
It is now beyond imagination the home of the picturesque, its lovely
lawns and winding paths fringing the lake, with the pagoda shining
in the middle distance. Except a few public offices, there were no
buildings of importance. Government House was of wood, with a small
masonry annexe, near the present imposing and luxurious, but hardly
beautiful structure. A neighbouring house was used as a guest-house,
to accommodate the overflow of visitors, till some years later it was
sold by a frugal Chief. The General Hospital, of wood saturated with
generations of microbes, was then, and for long after, a disgrace to
civilization. It has now been replaced by a magnificent pile, the
best-equipped hospital in the East, one of the best-equipped in the
world. The race-course, round the parade ground, was about two-thirds
of its present size. The little race-meetings twice a year, where one
knew all the ponies and riders, when lotteries were of small value
and attended by one’s friends and acquaintances, when bookmakers
were unknown, and we did our mild gambling at the totalizator, were
more enjoyable and more truly sporting than the present-day monthly
meetings, where more than half the owners are Chinamen or Indians,
and almost all the riders professional jockeys. In wealth, in luxury,
in comfort, Rangoon has made great advances in the last thirty years.
Yet I doubt if it is quite as pleasant a place of abode as it was a
generation ago.

The outskirts of Rangoon were rustic or, as we say, jungly. About this
time a tiger swam across the river from Dalla, then a mere village,
and was shot by Mr. G. G. Collins, an Inspector of Police,[20] under
a house in Godwin Road. Within the last ten years a similar incident
occurred. One morning an old woman, selling cheroots on the pagoda
platform, half asleep or half blind, opened her eyes, and saw in the
dim dawn moving near her stall what she took to be a large cat. She
waved it away, and it went off. It was a tiger which had strolled up
the grassy slope of the Pagoda Hill. The pagoda was being regilt, and
was encased in lattice-work. The tiger climbed half-way up the trellis
and there stopped, till, after some ineffectual attempts, it was shot
by an officer of the garrison. This strange event has an explanation. A
nat[21] came riding on the tiger to inspect the gilding of the pagoda.
He rode half-way up and then dismounted, pursuing his journey on foot.
On his return, he was much surprised and displeased to find that his
steed had been killed. Some say that he was unable to resume his
journey, and is still there. This story was current in Rangoon on the
evening of the occurrence.



CHAPTER II

EARLY YEARS AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS


My personal acquaintance with Burma dates from January, 1878. I came
to India as a Bengal civilian, attached to the Upper Provinces, liable
to serve in the North-West Provinces, the Punjab and Oudh. It was
doubtless for that reason and because I had shown some aptitude for the
study of Persian that the Government of India were pleased to post me
to the Central Provinces, and then, before I had even joined at Nagpúr,
to order me to Burma. As in those days our covenants did not bind us to
serve elsewhere than in the Province of our choice, I think it likely
that, after a term in Burma, I might have obtained a transfer to the
North-West Provinces. However, I went to Burma and stayed there; and so
far as my official career is concerned, I do not suppose I should have
done as well in any other part of India. Certainly I should not have
had elsewhere so interesting a life, or found so congenial a people.

On our arrival in Rangoon, my wife and I were hospitably received by
two residents, Mr. E. C. Morrieson, a man of my own year, and Mr. C.
F. Egerton Allen, then Government Advocate, afterwards acting Recorder
of Rangoon, and still later in the House as member for Pembroke
Boroughs. Their kindness was in accordance with the traditions of the
country, which, I am glad to say, are still maintained. A comparatively
new Province, in some respects it may be a little behind the times,
Burma has always cherished the primitive virtues, conspicuously that
of hospitality. Perhaps to some extent this is ascribable to the
influence of the _genius loci_. For in the world there are no kinder or
more hospitable people than the Burmese. The generous manner in which
strangers are received may be one reason why hotels in Burma have, if
possible, a worse repute than those of India.[22]

Our first station was Bassein, one of the four ports of Burma, situated
on a fair river some sixty miles from the sea, in the midst of the
Delta of the Irrawaddy. It was then the headquarters of a district.
Not very long afterwards it became the headquarters of the Irrawaddy
division, carved out of the overworked division of Pegu. In those days
the only approach to Bassein was by river steamer. Even now, though
Bassein is linked with Rangoon by rail, the river journey is easier
and pleasanter. Our little vessel steamed now on the broad flood of
the main river, now through narrow winding channels, called locally
“creeks,” which intersect the delta in countless profusion. Though
searchlights in the bows were then unknown, we ran on, by day and
night, between densely wooded banks. Now and again the passage was
so narrow that branches of trees crashed through our cabin window.
Here and there, on the mud of a bank left bare by the tide, we saw
crocodiles and bands of chattering monkeys. Except at the large
villages, where we halted to take up and set down passengers and cargo,
the solitude was perfect save for a few huts on the riverside, a casual
fisherman in his dugout, a boat full of men and women going to market,
or of monks (pôngyis) in their yellow robes. The hideous sampan and the
still more horrible lighter or barge had not yet invaded these sacred
recesses. Such larger craft as passed us were the stately Burmese
boats, built on graceful lines, propelled by sail and oar, with high
carved sterns on which the helmsman sat aloft. Such people as we saw
were all Burmans or Karens. The kala[23] was as rare as a black swan.

My Deputy Commissioner was Mr. G. D. Burgess,[24] one of the first
civilians deputed to Burma, of the same year as the late Sir Denzil
Ibbetson, of lamented memory. Mr. C. U. Aitchison,[25] who succeeded
Mr. Rivers Thompson as Chief Commissioner early in 1878, visited
Bassein this year in the course of a tour in the old Government
steamer, the _Irrawaddy_. Recognizing Mr. Burgess’s rare ability, he
called him to Rangoon soon afterwards to act as secretary in place
of Major Street, who went on leave. This was exceptional promotion
for a man of about eight years’ service. Mr. Burgess was a man of
great capacity, of untiring industry, of immense power of work, of
exceptional mastery of detail, of singularly sane judgment, one whose
opinion, as Mr. Aitchison said, was always worthy of consideration. For
several years he worked in the secretariat, afterwards did excellent
service as Commissioner at Mandalay and elsewhere, and in due course
became Judicial Commissioner of Upper Burma. In that high office he
had full scope for his industry and sound judgment. His rulings,
especially on points of Buddhist law, illuminated many dark places, and
are still cited with respect. Mr. Burgess’s health was undermined by
excessive work in the secretariat. In 1898 he had to take leave, and,
by a melancholy accident, died at sea on his way home. He was one of
the ablest officers who ever served in Burma, and, if his health had
not failed, must have risen to the highest posts. If he had a fault
officially, it was a tendency to interfere too much in detail and to do
the work of his subordinates. No doubt, as Mr. Aitchison used to say,
and as others have often said, the great administrator is he who does
his own duty and sees that those under him do theirs. But the defect I
have ventured to note is the defect of a generous quality.

In those days the education of junior civilians was left to take care
of itself. There was no Land Records Department and there were no
elaborate circulars prescribing a course of training. What sort of
training a junior officer enjoyed, or whether he had any training at
all, depended entirely on the quality of his first Deputy Commissioner.
I need hardly say that I regard as preferable the present system,
under which every young officer is passed through a definite course
of practical instruction in all branches of his work. But even now
a great deal depends on the personality of the Deputy Commissioner.
It was my good fortune to begin my service under the guidance of an
excellent officer and a high-minded, great-hearted gentleman. Never
had green griffin a kindlier or abler mentor. And to the end of his
life Mr. Burgess treated me with the kindness of an elder brother. I
was placed in charge of the Treasury; given Third Class magisterial
powers, that is, power to imprison for one month, fine up to fifty
rupees, and, such was the barbaric darkness of that age, to whip; and
set to try petty criminal cases, learn Burmese, and prepare for the
departmental examinations. I confess that I had a charmingly idle time.
In those happy days life was not in the least strenuous. The busiest
time was when the head accountant went sick for about a month, and I
had to do his work as well as my own. In this way I did thoroughly
learn the Treasury system, even if I forgot it afterwards. The zeal
of youth betrayed me into a somewhat serious blunder, whereby I
incurred the formal censure of Government. This, though recorded, was
never officially communicated to me, and does not seem to have done
me any harm. I cannot call to mind anything amusing or interesting
in the court or office work. If there are tales, others must tell
them. It was not in Bassein that a Third Class Magistrate sentenced a
cattle-thief to imprisonment for one week, the normal sentence then,
and, I hope, now being one of two years’ hard labour. Called upon for
justification, he gravely explained that he had to observe some measure
in his sentences. If he gave a man a whole month for cattle-theft, what
sentence could he pass if he convicted a man of murder? Nor was it here
that a young magistrate fined a woman Rs. 10, or in default rigorous
imprisonment for two years. It was elsewhere that an officer fined his
own servant judicially for “spoiling the Court’s soup” by using an oily
cloth to wipe the plates withal. These stories, current in Burma long
ago, are possibly all invented. Similarly mythical, I suspect, are
the legends of the young civilian who gratefully accepted advice not
to try a long shot, lest he should strain the gun; of another who on
the voyage out kept under his pillow a revolver wrapped in paper and
labelled “Dangerous”; of a third who was persuaded to rise at mess,
as the representative of Government, and forestall the President in
announcing the toast of “The Queen.” But many years later, with my own
ears, I heard the health of Her Majesty proposed, “coupled with the
name of General ----,” and the gallant General respond on behalf of his
Sovereign.

Bassein was a charming station, with that mingling of non-official
and official society which doth ever add pleasure. The great rice
firms, Messrs. Bulloch Bros., Messrs. Strang Steel and Co., Messrs.
Mohr Bros., and others, had mills on either side of the river, and the
presence of their representatives helped to form a festive and sociable
community. We were all young and all cheerful. Though there was no
club, we managed to meet and enjoy life. Besides an inchoate attempt
at polo, then just coming into vogue, riding in the fields and jungle,
and playing lawn tennis, were the principal amusements. Golf had not
been introduced. I am afraid ladies had rather a quiet time, for dances
were of very rare occurrence. But bachelor frolics were many, and the
spectacled Deputy Commissioner who looked grave enough on the Bench was
leader in every frivolity. His Saturday night whist dinners were often
more hilarious than the occasion indicates. I refrain from recording
instances of light-hearted jests perpetrated from time to time, partly
because they were too trivial for immortality, partly lest the serious
reader think us more childish-foolish than we were. The survivors of
those joyous days will call to mind many a noisy revel. No harm was
done. Mr. Kipling would have found no copy for the mildest of plain
tales.

There were reminders of historic times. One of the Public Works
officers was a veteran who had fought at Chillianwallah. Another
resident had learnt his work under Brunel. Less pleasing relics of
the past were a few old men branded on the forehead and sent into
transportation from India. Some, but not all, were mutineers. They were
not in confinement, but eked out a wretched existence on two or three
pence a day.

I saw something of district life. More than once the Deputy Commissioner
took me on tour with him, and I had opportunities of learning methods of
sound administration. The Deputy Commissioner was the head of the
district, and, as already stated, controlled all except the purely
Imperial departments. Even over Forests, Public Works, and Education
he exercised paternal sway. He was explicitly declared to be the head
of the police. And he was the chief executive officer, with as much
influence as his personality secured. He cherished his own District
Fund, his pet child, and had a fair amount of money to spend on minor
works. Often he was his own road-maker. As District Magistrate, with
power to try all but capital offences and impose substantial penalties,
and as District Judge, with unlimited original civil jurisdiction and
wide appellate powers, he directed the judicial administration.

He constantly travelled slowly through the district, and was personally
known to all the people. In most districts the volume of work was not
beyond the capacity of an able and energetic officer. We in Bassein
were fortunate in possessing the ablest Deputy Commissioner in the
Province, and the district flourished under his benign and firm
rule. It was an invaluable object-lesson to accompany Mr. Burgess
on tour and mark his procedure. Always accessible to the humblest
villager, yet strict in upholding the authority of his subordinates,
Myo-ôks and Thugyis; halting here and there to investigate disputes
in revenue matters, to hear complaints, to try cases; treating the
local officials with kindness and consideration, while preserving his
place and dignity; inspecting village records; checking capitation tax
returns and land revenue rolls; visiting fields on which remission of
revenue was claimed; taking a day off now and then to shoot snipe; the
Deputy Commissioner’s progress tended to the happiness of the people
and the peace of the countryside. I have no doubt that this was the
best system of administration ever devised or practised. The separation
of judicial and executive functions, the curtailment of the Deputy
Commissioner’s powers, the attempt, happily so far not successful in
Burma, to diminish his authority over the police and his responsibility
for peace and order, are all steps backward; to vary the metaphor,
they are solvents which will gradually destroy the vitality of the
administration and weaken the foundations of good government laid
by our predecessors. I have no right to speak of other provinces of
India. In Burma there is a comparatively simple social organization.
With a strong feeling of personal independence and a full measure of
self-respect, the people looked up to the officials and recognized
that they were better off under authority than if they attempted to
govern themselves. Above all, they knew that in the last resort they
could rely on the justice and firmness of British officers. Under this
system the moral and material welfare of the peasant and trader was
promoted far more surely than by the introduction of Western methods
unsuited to the idiosyncrasy of the race. Nor does this proposition
preclude Burmans from obtaining by degrees an ever-increasing share in
the offices of the administration. As qualified men become available,
by all means let them undertake higher duties. But do not let us try
prematurely to impose representative institutions on people who neither
demand nor understand them. Above all, let us avoid the pernicious cant
of thinking that our mission in Burma is the political education of
the masses. Our mission is to conserve, not to destroy, their social
organism; to preserve the best elements of their national life; by the
maintenance of peace and order to advance the well-being of the Burmese
people.

At Bassein, in town and district, I first saw Burmans at home, and
laid the foundations of many lasting friendships. My first two clerks
were Maung Pe,[26] and Maung Aung Zan. One has long been the respected
Second Judge of the Small Cause Court in Rangoon, the Aristides of
his race; the other is the first Burman District Judge. A well-known
character was U Bya, the Judge of the Bassein Small Cause Court, an
officer of age and dignity, who, it was said, had raised himself to
his honourable rank from the humble position of peon in the Treasury.
Although contact with foreigners had to some extent begun to affect
the Burmese character, it must be remembered that the time of which I
write was only twenty-five years after the taking of Rangoon, a shorter
period than has now elapsed since the occupation of Mandalay. Even
in Pegu the Burman was far less sophisticated than he has become in
recent years. The great rice-plains of the delta were not nearly all
under cultivation. The farmer worked his own moderate holding with the
help of his family and of reapers who came down annually from Upper
Burma. The inroad of coolies and settlers from Madras and Bengal not
yet begun. The delta was sparsely peopled, and everyone was happy and
contented.

After leaving Bassein, I spent a few weeks in Rangoon as personal
assistant to the Chief Commissioner. The personal assistant combined
the posts of private secretary and aide-de-camp, without the
emoluments, and with only part of the work of those offices. Under
Mr. Aitchison’s tolerant régime, the duties were extremely light, and
consisted mainly in ciphering and deciphering telegrams. By him and by
Mrs. (now Lady) Aitchison, we were treated with unvarying kindness.
The days spent as members of their official family are days of happy
memory. Mr. Aitchison was one of the first batch of competition walas,
and was rightly regarded as a distinguished ornament of our service.
At a very early stage in his career he became Foreign Secretary to the
Government of India. That high office he exchanged for the comparative
obscurity of Burma, only because he differed from the Viceroy (Lord
Lytton) on points of frontier policy. He was a man of exceptional
ability, of resolute character, with the most delicate sense of honour,
a chief whom it was a pride and pleasure to serve. The Governor-General
being his own Foreign Minister, Mr. Aitchison had been brought into
close personal relations with every Viceroy[27] who, up to that time,
had held office. In his judgment, among these statesmen, the man
of genius, the one who got most quickly to the root of a difficult
problem, was Lord Lytton. As the two men were by no means sympathetic,
this opinion is of special value.

We came to Rangoon early in 1879, at a time of great excitement. The
preceding October had seen the death of Mindôn Min, who ruled the
Burmese kingdom for more than five-and-twenty years. King Mindôn, or
Min-taya-gyi Paya, was an enlightened monarch, worthy to be placed
in the same class, though not side by side, with Solomon and Akbar.
He wrested the throne from his incapable brother, Pagan Min, whose
headstrong folly had involved his country in the Second Burmese War.
With rare magnanimity, he neither slew nor blinded the deposed King,
but allowed him to live in peace in his own house for the rest of his
days. Indeed, Pagan Min survived his successor. Mindôn Min was an
able administrator, and quite master of his kingdom. He held in his
own hands all the threads of government, and kept himself informed of
all that happened even in the remotest corners. Peace and order were
reasonably well maintained, and projects for developing the resources
of the country were initiated. The teak forests were opened out by
English firms. Many Europeans, principally French and Italian, were
attracted to his Court, and employed in various capacities. Among other
reforms may be mentioned the levy of regular taxation on land and
incomes, and the payment of salaries to officials. The practice had
been for an official to be placed in charge of a local area, which he
was expressively said to “eat.” After paying his dues to Government,
he squeezed as much as possible for himself. In this reign, though the
custom was not abolished, its prevalence was restricted. The King was
a very pious Buddhist, a generous benefactor of the pagoda at Rangoon,
and a steadfast pillar of his religion. He discouraged the taking of
life, the use of opium, the consumption of intoxicating liquors. Like
Solomon in wisdom, he rivalled him in the number of his wives. Although
he declined to make a treaty ceding any part of his dominions to Great
Britain, he respected the frontier-line laid down by Lord Dalhousie,
he kept on good terms with our Government in Lower Burma, and he had
the good sense highly to appreciate Sir Arthur Phayre. So long as he
ruled in Mandalay, there was no likelihood of any expansion of British
territory at his cost.

The death of Mindôn Min threw the whole of Upper Burma into confusion.
By a palace intrigue, in which the principal actors were Queen
Sinbyumashin and the Taingda Mingyi,[28] the Thebaw Mintha,[29] was
placed on the throne. King Thebaw was about eighteen years of age. He
seems to have been a dull youth, of no character, good or bad. The
beginning of his rule was stained by the murder of most of the sons of
Mindôn Min, a massacre as ruthless and almost as many-headed as the
slaughter of the sons of Ahab. Though the Princesses were not killed,
they were consigned to captivity. Of the massacre of the Princes, two
extreme views have been held. The young King has been represented
as a monster of cruelty, himself personally responsible for this
atrocity. The cynical suggestion is that, in Burma as in other Oriental
countries, it was a measure of ordinary precaution for the King to
remove possible rivals and pretenders; in so doing, Thebaw was no worse
than his predecessors. As a matter of fact, most likely neither the
King nor his much-maligned Queen had much to do with the massacre. It
was, no doubt, the work of his Ministers, chiefly of the blood-stained
Taingda Mingyi, a name to all succeeding ages cursed. But it is also
the case that this wholesale butchery, though not without precedent,
was not in accordance with the practice of Burman Kings, at least, in
recent years. Certainly no such deluge of blood sullied the opening
days of King Mindôn. The probable explanation is that the title of
the new King was felt to be precarious, while his personality did not
compensate the insecurity of his claim. He was not the eldest, nor the
ablest, nor the most popular, of Mindôn Min’s sons. For these reasons,
I conjecture, some of the Ministers thought it desirable to remove
potential centres of revolt and disaffection. I cannot believe that my
learned and mild-tempered friend, the Kinwun Mingyi, though nominally
the head of the State Council, approved this savage measure. The
stories current at the time, of the King priming himself with drink,
and personally directing the slaughter, were certainly false. It is
true, however, that in the early days of his reign King Thebaw was much
under the influence of a titular Prince, Maung Tôk,[30] and that these
two boon companions did hold drunken orgies together. After Maung Tôk’s
removal there is no record of intemperance in the Palace.

The massacre of the sons of Mindôn Min sent a thrill of horror through
the civilized world. Our Resident at Mandalay, Mr. R. B. Shaw, entered
vehement protests. He also sheltered two Princes, the Nyaung-yan and
Nyaung-ôk Minthas, who were, I understand, brought to the Residency
by M. d’Avéra, and whose lives were saved by their despatch to Lower
Burma and thence to Calcutta. In Rangoon the Press and public were
loud in condemnation, and clamorous for action. In the interests of
humanity and civilization the Indian Government were urgently pressed
to intervene. They nearly did so. Preparations for the despatch of
troops were begun. One regiment, the 43rd Light Infantry, actually came
over from Madras, in hot haste and with the barest camp kit, and was
sent to the frontier. All its officers expected to be in Mandalay in
a fortnight, and sore was the indignation of the British regiment in
Rangoon that these new-comers should go to the front while it remained
in cantonments. The Rangoon Regiment had its consolation. For all their
term in Burma the 43rd stayed on the frontier, and never put a foot
across it. The Government of India were fully occupied with troubles
in Afghanistan, which some few months later culminated in the murder
of Sir Louis Cavagnari at Cabul. At home, Ministers were staggered by
the disaster of Isandhlwana in February of this year. Both Governments
had their hands too full to find leisure for upholding the cause of
humanity in Upper Burma. It was a very near thing. Had there not been
pressing affairs elsewhere, we should doubtless have occupied Mandalay,
and almost certainly set up a protected King. The time was ripe for
intervention, but not for annexation.

At Government House we were kept moderately busy by telegrams with
Mandalay and Calcutta. One fine morning the Nyaung-yan Prince appeared,
with the design of attempting (to speak proleptically) a Jameson raid
on Upper Burma. The secret history of this incident I may not tell.
Let it suffice to say that the Prince was sent back to Calcutta with
all speed in a Government ship. To soothe public feeling in Rangoon
a Press _communiqué_ was issued from the Secretariat, informing the
world that in respect of Upper Burma the attitude of the Government of
India was one of “repose and defence,” a phrase which was received with
mingled surprise and derision. The explanation I may perhaps disclose
after many years. The telegram of the Government of India authorizing
the announcement was signalled, or at any rate transcribed by me, in
the words given to the Press. But what the Government of India wrote
was that their attitude was one of “reserve and defence.” Curiously and
perhaps somewhat ingenuously the Rangoon Volunteer Rifles adopted, and
for many years retained, as their motto the words “Repose and Defence.”
Of late they have become more energetic, and this motto has been
discarded as inappropriate.

Government House maintained the hospitable traditions of the Province.
All the officers of the 43rd were entertained and housed during their
very brief stay in Rangoon, and, though tourists were fewer than in
later years, we had some visitors. Of these the most distinguished
was General Ulysses Grant, ex-President of the United States, who in
his voyage round the world touched at Rangoon. With him came Mrs.
Grant, their son Colonel Grant, a Cabinet Minister, a doctor, and a
man of letters. General Grant seemed to me to talk, in moderation, as
much as other people. I had the honour of being instructed by him in
the mysteries of the constitution of the United States, and even of
discussing with him the possibility of a League of Anglo-Saxon Peoples
to impose peace on the world. He impressed us all as a man of strength,
dignity, and character. The growing port and city of Rangoon interested
him, and he foresaw and foretold its early and rapid increase. May I
tell here a trivial story? At a reception at Government House in honour
of General Grant, whereat all Rangoon was present, one of the highest
officers brought down the house by withdrawing a chair on which the
Commissioner of Pegu was about to sit. As the Commissioner weighed
about twenty stone, he was somewhat seriously annoyed by this frolic,
though not, I am glad to say, hurt. I record the incident, and refrain
from moralizing.

Though wealth has increased and the standard of living has been raised,
there seems to have been more money to spend in Rangoon in those days.
The great merchants vied with Government House in their entertainments.
One at least left a lasting impression. More than twenty years after
I tried in vain for some time to explain to my old native coachman
where he was to drive. At last my meaning dawned on him. “You want to
go to Leishmann Sahib’s house.” Now, Leishmann Sahib had opened his
doors to General Grant, and about a year later had left Rangoon for
ever. Rice and teak were the sole sources of wealth. The oil-fields
were as yet unexplored. The price of rice had not risen to its recent
fictitious height. There were no limited companies with opportunities
for unlimited speculation.

About this time the Diocese of Rangoon was constituted, and Dr. J. H.
Titcomb was consecrated the first Bishop. Coming straight from England,
with no knowledge of the East, Bishop Titcomb’s inexperience betrayed
him into some pardonable mistakes. Very soon after his arrival, he
surprised some friends with words to this effect: “Though I have been
here such a short time, I regret to say that already sorrow has visited
my household. I have had to give my cook a week’s leave to bury his
grandmother.” For a cook to ask leave to attend his grandmother’s
funeral is much the same as for an undergraduate to prefer a similar
request in Derby week. I mean no disrespect to a good man’s memory by
telling this innocent story. The Bishop won all hearts by his kind
and gentle bearing, and was, I am sure, an excellent occupant of the
new See. He was the first Prelate with whom I was privileged to play
lawn-tennis.

A little earlier had been tried the eccentric experiment of appointing
a Forest Officer to the charge of the Education Department in the
temporary absence of the Director. The acting Director played the part
of Balaam with a difference. In his first and last Annual Report,
instead of blessing, he freely cursed the Department and all its works.
Mr. Max Ferrars still flourishes. He has returned to his early love,
and professes literature at a German University. He will forgive me for
exhuming this early incident of his career. The Education Department,
from time to time, has incurred much obloquy, for the most part
undeserved. Its errors have been due to want of intimate knowledge of
the language and customs of the people. Certainly it has never merited
the cynical censure, perhaps unwittingly implied in a Government
Resolution which, in removing an officer as an incorrigible drunkard,
remarked that he might obtain employment in the Education Department.



CHAPTER III

THE FIRST SUBDIVISION: THE SECRETARIAT


My first subdivision was Pantanaw in the Delta of the Irrawaddy. The
town from which it was named stands on a narrow creek through which
used to pass the steamers of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company plying
between Rangoon and Bassein. Long since the mouth of the creek has
silted up. When next I visited Pantanaw, as Commissioner, I had to
approach the town in a small boat of the shallowest draft. But, in ’79,
the arrival of the Bassein steamer was the event of the week. Pantanaw
is said to be a Talaing (and portmanteau) word meaning “The abode
of the people who have to use mosquito nets.” If the Burma Research
Society correct this statement, I must bear it. At any rate, if the
etymology is false, the connotation is true. Burma could show places
where mosquitoes were more numerous and more valiant, where even cattle
had to be put under nets at night and prisoners in jail protected by
iron gratings. But the mosquitoes of Pantanaw were plentiful and brave
enough. After a short time one seems to become more or less immune
against ordinary mosquito bites. The new-comer is more succulent and
more attractive to this friendly insect. It is the song of the creature
which is a persistent annoyance. But the mosquito of these parts has
no curious taste. To the last he bit me as well as sang in my ears.
In those days the local mosquito apparently was not of the kind which
carries malaria. Or perhaps, owing to the backward state of sanitary
education, he had not yet learned his trade. Cholera and smallpox
excepted, the delta was comparatively free from serious diseases.
Though swampy and water-logged, it was not beset by malignant fevers.

Our house was humble. In accordance with the usage of the time, it was
built on piles, so that the rooms were 8 or 10 feet above the ground.
Thus we lived well out of the mud and out of reach of snakes. An open,
slippery, wooden stair ascended to the doorway. The walls were of
mat, and the roof was of thatch. I am willing to believe that there
was a plank floor, though I have a vague impression that we trod on
split bamboos. The house consisted of one fairly large room, divided
into two by a mat partition reaching nearly to the unceiled roof.
One part was the bedroom, with a bathroom attached, the other was a
combined dining- and drawing-room. Tacked on was one more room, about
the size of a three-berth cabin. This was the study or library. Having
mosquito netting over door and windows, it was habitable even after
sunset. During our sojourn, Government very kindly began to build a
nice new house for us. It was our Promised Land, of which we had but a
Pisgah-sight. We watched its progress with interest, often visiting
the work and suggesting small improvements. We were transferred about a
week before it was finished. I slept in it once, twenty years after.

Pantanaw was a depot for Ngapi, that malodorous compound of decayed
fish in which Burmans delight. The public buildings were a courthouse
with a police-station hard by, a hospital, a schoolhouse, and a
bazaar, or market. The rest of the town consisted of native houses of
fishermen, traders, and brokers. In the dry weather, the foreshore
was covered with huts. Bitter and ceaseless were the disputes between
brokers and traders about claims to hut-sites on the sands. The streets
were causeways of loose bricks. Except through the town itself, we had
one walk, over one of these brick paths to the Burmese cemetery. The
whole subdivision supported one pony. He lived in ease and affluence,
as you could not ride for half a mile without coming upon an impassable
stream. We were the only European inhabitants. Two other people spoke
English, a Jew shopkeeper named Cohen, whom Burmans, not holding him
in high respect, preferred to call Maung Hein,[31] and an Arakanese
schoolmaster, with whom I maintained an intermittent acquaintance
to the end of my service. Our nearest English neighbours were the
subdivisional officer of Yandoon and his wife, who on one red-letter
day paid us a flying visit. Our medical attendant was an Indian
hospital assistant, or as now he would be called more appropriately,
Sub-assistant surgeon, a very capable, good man. The civil surgeon
lived at Maubin, the district headquarters, a day’s journey off. To
young civilians of the present time, this would seem an impossible
place for a man with a wife and child. We enjoyed life and were happy.
The experience was of use to me, years afterwards, as secretary, when
young officers complained of their posting by the Chief Commissioner to
remote and unpopular stations. Even the young wife could not be played
with effect. But I believe I got myself disliked.

My official colleague was the subdivisional police officer, Maung
Shwe O, Inspector, afterwards Assistant Superintendent. He was a very
smart, good-looking man, whose subsequent career was distinguished.
I maintained friendly relations with him as long as I stayed in
Burma. The clerks in my office were Burmans, who spoke and wrote only
Burmese. Very capable and efficient were many of these vernacular
clerks, thoroughly versed in office routine and management, and well
educated in their own language. My head clerk, Maung Shwe Tha, was a
man of presence and dignity, with, it was said, a trace of French blood
in his veins. The Circle Thugyi still, I hope, survives in honoured
retirement. His son became one of the most useful members of the
Provincial Service.

The subdivision was of very large extent. Comprising the townships of
Pantanaw and Shwelaung, it stretched past Kyunpyathat to the sea. At
Shwelaung there was a Myo-ôk, but at Pantanaw I was my own township
officer. I had to try all civil and criminal cases, to copy English
correspondence, and to do the revenue and executive work of the
township. Though during my year at Pantanaw I had only second class
powers as a magistrate, still, without a Myo-ôk at headquarters, and
with all these various duties, it might be supposed that I was grossly
overworked. On the contrary, I had an easier time there than ever after
fell to my lot. Still young and zealous, I believe I did all there
was to be done. But I found time to be on tour about half of every
month, while in the cold weather I spent more than a solid month in the
jungle, walking over rice-fields, inspecting, measuring, and computing
the out-turn of every holding in respect of which remission of revenue
was claimed. As there had been a somewhat widespread failure of the
rice crop, this was a task of some magnitude. The development of the
country and the growth of work are impressed on me by nothing so much
as by a comparison between the Pantanaw subdivision in 1879-80 and
the same area in the present day. Then, with the help of one not very
efficient Burmese Myo-ôk, I did all the work of the subdivision with
ease. Now that area is a large part of the Ma-u-bin and Myaung-my̆a
districts. It occupies half the time of a Deputy Commissioner and
District Judge, and half the time of one or two subdivisional officers,
who break down in succession from overwork, four or five township
officers, and several judicial and additional Myo-ôks. The Shwelaung
Township is now the Wakèma Subdivision, one of the most laborious
charges in the Province. A very small, obscure, and swampy village was
Mawlamyainggyun, now the headquarters of a township, and one of the
most flourishing towns in the Delta. I have always cherished the belief
that I was the first European official to discover it.

In those days and in that part of the country there was a remarkable
absence of serious crime. During my year at Pantanaw one murder was
committed and one dacoity was reported. Of the dacoity I made a full
meal. The report reached me when on tour in the middle of the rains.
Off I went in a small open dugout to make an investigation on the spot.
Arriving, drenched to the bones, with no kit, I held the inquiry, clad
in a bath towel, reclining in the balcony of a Burmese hut, partly
sheltered by a mat-wall. I fared sumptuously on boiled eggs, rice, and
jaggery (palm sugar), fare, which I commend, as, if not noble, yet
enough. A mat on a plank floor was a sufficient sleeping-place. I never
found any difficulty in sleeping on boards. The really hard bed is the
bosom of mother earth with too scanty an allowance of straw. The report
of the dacoity was false.

At Pantanaw I learned to talk Burmese with fluency, if not with
accuracy, and to read it with ease. I had to talk it or be silent half
my days. And all office work had to be done in the vernacular. But
too early and too long a stay in the Secretariat and constitutional
indolence prevented me from acquiring a profound or scholarly
knowledge of the language. Up to a certain point Burmese does not
seem to me abnormally difficult. The written character, though at
first sight it looks impossible, is much easier than, for example,
Urdu script. But the attainment of real proficiency is a laborious
task. The want of good literature is a discouragement at the outset.
For, as a literary medium, Burmese is singularly defective. According
to one of the best authorities, the high-water mark of Burmese prose
is reached in the State papers of the Hlut-daw.[32] As if one should
seek for models of prose in Blue-Books. A wealth of idioms, a chaotic
grammar,[33] a variety of delicate accents, combine to bewilder the
student. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, most of our officers have
a good knowledge of the spoken and written language, and some are
finished scholars. One thing all can do: all can read petitions and
other vernacular papers, and are less in the hands of clerks than
officers are understood to be in other Provinces.

Here, too, I had opportunities of learning in practice something
about two of the main sources of revenue, land and fisheries. Though
the Land and Revenue Act, recently brought into operation, is not
the most lucid of statutes, the land-revenue system is free from
complexity. Its chief merits were sweetness and simplicity,[34] as an
ingenious printer tried to make the Burma Government plead for its
transliteration scheme. The State was the landlord. It was, then, an
article of faith that there were no tenants in Burma, that every man
cultivated his own moderate holding. Though not literally, this was
for a long time approximately true. In the Delta land was to be had
in abundance, and Burmans and Karens for the most part cultivated
their own farms. A constant and sufficient rainfall and a fertile soil
combined to yield a rich harvest. Regular settlements were not begun
till a year or two later. Meanwhile the rates of land revenue were
absurdly low. Each holding was supposed to be measured yearly by the
Circle Thugyi, who had no training in surveying. The Thugyi gathered
in the revenue of his Circle and received a liberal commission on the
collections. If crops failed or were destroyed by drought, floods, or
rats, generous remissions of revenue were granted after inspection
by the subdivisional or township officer, or, where large sums were
involved, by the Deputy Commissioner himself. When I hear urged against
the proposed nationalization of land the consideration that the State
would be an austere landlord, requiring its dues each year without pity
or indulgence, I cannot help remembering that it was far otherwise in
Burma. It may be, however, that in other countries the system would not
be worked by a Service whose members from their youth up are trained
to sympathize with the people, to regard as their title to respect
the name of the cherisher of the poor. Besides land revenue, the only
tax paid by the cultivator was capitation tax. This was paid by all
sorts and conditions of men, except the aged and infirm, at the rate
of Rs. 5 for a married man, and Rs. 2/8 for a bachelor. It was a crude
and unscientific tax, falling equally on rich and poor. But it was a
light burden, and crushed no one. The standard of living among Burmans
and Karens in the Delta was moderately high. Luxuries were few, but
comforts were universal. Walking over miles of rice-fields in familiar
talk with Thugyis and farmers, I became acquainted with the conditions
of the cultivators, and I laid the foundation of lasting esteem and
affection for the people.

My subdivision included many of the great fisheries of the Delta. All
the streams and creeks were divided into fisheries, which were sold
by auction once a year. The Court House would be filled with bidders,
all fishermen, and the bidding was often reckless. The large fisheries
sold for substantial sums, the total annual revenue being about five
lakhs of rupees. Inspection of fisheries and examination of the methods
of working were among the subdivisional officer’s duties. Fishermen
destroy living creatures, and by good Buddhists are held to be children
of perdition. But they enjoy life, regardless of the doom in store. A
visit to one of the great fishing villages was an agreeable incident,
pleasantly varying the monotony of official routine. The whole village
turned out in boats to welcome us. Boats paddled by girls in bright
attire, carrying troupes of dancers gracefully posturing, crowded the
stream in picturesque profusion. Races between canoes filled with
crowds of shouting paddlers went on throughout the day. At night would
be presented a pwè, or many pwès. Pwè is one of the hardest worked of
Burmese words, and represents perhaps the most characteristic feature
of the country. In its best-known sense it means an entertainment,
usually dramatic, or of the nature of a ballet. But a race also is a
pwè, and so, singularly enough, is an examination or a Durbar. The
legitimate drama is a puppet-show, the dolls being cleverly worked by
strings from behind the stage, and the dialogue hoarsely recited by the
manipulator with hardly an attempt at ventriloquial effect. Less highly
esteemed by Burmese connoisseurs is a drama played by real actors and
actresses. The stock characters are the prince, the princess, and
the clown. The princess, unabashed, arranges her hair, makes up her
cheeks and eyebrows, and even manages to change her dress in view of
the assembly. The clown, by boisterous and often indecorous jest,
raises peals of merriment. The ballet pwè is a set of posture dances,
performed either by one, two, or three girls, or by groups, generally
of girls, sometimes of young boys. Dancing is accompanied by choric
songs, often topically composed for the occasion. If distinguished
visitors are present, the choral song is written to honour and welcome
them. The orchestra consists of drums, gongs, cymbals, and other
barbarous instruments placed in a circle round the agile executant. In
bygone days no charge was made for admission. That was an essential
condition. Now I hear with horror of so-called pwès played in
enclosures where money is taken at the door. A pwè lasted for hours.
Almost invariably it was performed in the open air, under the moonlit
sky, the spectators, men, women, children, and babies, sitting on mats,
smoking cheroots, enthralled from dusk to dawn. For my part I liked
best the ballet, danced by groups of young girls, daughters of the
town or village, and after that the drama played by human actors and
actresses. But I must admit that in a puppet-show the comic white horse
gaily prancing over the boards was a joy which never failed. During my
year at Pantanaw I was a welcome guest at many pwès, none of which I
attended with greater pleasure than a ballet danced by the girls of a
large fishing village.

All our travelling was by water. There was not a steam-launch in
the Delta. Even the Deputy Commissioner did all his journeys in a
rice-boat. Such a luxury as a houseboat had not been designed even
in a vision. An officer going on tour hired a fairly large boat with
three or four rowers, and with a helmsman (pènin) perched aloft in the
stern. Often one had the same boat and crew for successive journeys.
My pet pènin was a man of authority (awza) and presence, traditionally
reputed to be an ex-dacoit. I hope he did not relapse in the troubles
which came a few years later. The forepart of the boat was for the crew
and servants. The after-deck, covered by an arched roof of bamboo,
formed a chamber sufficiently roomy wherein was space to sit or lie but
not to stand upright. Privacy was secured by arrangements of kalagas
(curtains). In such a boat I travelled for a week, a fortnight, a month
at a time, halting at infrequent villages, interviewing headmen and
Thugyis, trying cases, and doing revenue and executive work. As a rule
I travelled alone, always unarmed and without a guard. No precautions
were needed in that time of profound peace, when we felt, and were,
secure from danger. Propelled by long oars, the boat moved generally
with the tide. But I have known Burmans row with, and against, the
tide for hours at a stretch, a fact which may surprise people taught
to regard the Burman as an idle fellow. He is neither idle nor lazy.
When occasion demands, he will work as hard as anyone. The farmer and
fisherman each has seasons when he must rise up early and late take his
rest. What the Burman does not care to do is to make toil a pleasure;
to work merely for the sake of doing something or for the purpose of
amassing wealth beyond his needs. With a fertile country, with no
pressure of population on subsistence, with few wants, why should he
strive or cry? For him progress and the strenuous life in themselves
have no attraction. We are trying to teach him our ideals, to show him
how far superior is our civilization. When we shall have succeeded,
we shall have spoilt the pleasantest country and the most delightful
people in the world.

But let us resume our tour. By day or night, as the tide serves, our
boat moves on the bosom of the wide river or threads the windings of
narrow creeks. In the rains I have been rowed against a storm of
wind, in a shroud of thick darkness. Again, I have skirted miles of
forest-clad banks, each bush alive with myriads of fireflies, an
amazing and memorable sight. When villages were scarce, a halt would
be called and breakfast taken under the shade of a mighty tree on the
grassy margin of the stream. If we stayed at a village for a day or
two, our temporary home was a zayat, one of the many rest-houses built
by pious hands for the comfort of wayfarers. Every village had on its
outskirts at least one zayat, where the traveller could rest as long
as he pleased. With the help of a few kalagas and mats lent by the
villagers, a zayat could be made quite comfortable. It was somewhat
startling to have a snake drop from the thatched roof on to one’s
plate at chota haziri.[35] But such an unpleasing incident was rare.
Twice in the dry season I ventured to take my young family on tour,
and each time we were swamped by cataracts of abnormal rain. Once we
were putting up in a roomy zayat, when, soon after dark, a hurricane of
wind arose, and a deluge of rain began to fall. The kalagas were blown
in, and the baby almost blown out of his cot. We were rescued by the
headman, who came with a train of lantern-bearers, and hospitably bore
us off to his house. The rest of the night we spent under the family
mosquito-net, the family finding quarters elsewhere. The mosquito-net
was of stout opaque cloth, and covered the space of a fair-sized room.
My wife went no more on tour in the Delta.

[Illustration: BURMESE HOUSES.]

A pleasant interlude was an occasional visit to Father Bertrand at
his mission-station in a remote corner of the subdivision. It is a
common pose for the man of the world to profess to regard missionaries
with suspicion, if not dislike, and to hold native Christians in
abhorrence. My experience has led me far from these conclusions. The
longer I lived in the Province, the better I came to like, the more
to respect, missionaries, and the more esteem I felt for Burmese
and Karen Christians. The principal missionary bodies in Burma are
Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and American Baptists. Among all these I
have found valued friends. One of the most venerable personalities of
my early years was the saintly Bishop Bigandet, whose name will always
be held in reverence. Apart from the religious aspect, the educational
and civilizing value of mission-work cannot be overrated. Some of
the best schools and one of the only two colleges are maintained by
missions. Though Burmans generally adhere to their own creed, those
who have become Christians are for the most part men of good standing.
I do not think there are many bread-and-butter converts among them.
In an Upper Burman village I found a Christian headman, who told me
that his progenitors had been of the same faith. A mission, it was
said, had been established there in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and
the altar-fire had been kept alive for three centuries. It seemed a
creditable record. But the most abundant harvest of mission-work is
yielded by Karens. The heathen Karen, the missionaries call him, is
an uncouth, savage person. The Christian Karen, though lacking the
grace and charm of the Burman, is a law-abiding citizen, with many
sterling virtues. Even by Burmese officers it is recognized that
there is very little crime among Christian Karens. For this backward
race missionaries of all denominations have done a vast amount of
educating and civilizing work. Without wishing to make any invidious
distinction, I know nothing more praiseworthy than the devotion of
Catholic missionaries, who live ascetic lives in solitary places,
sacrificing the world to their vocation, subsisting on nothing a month,
and giving alms out of that wage. While on this subject, I may mention
the admirable work done among lepers by Catholic missions in Mandalay
and Rangoon. At each of these places is an asylum for these hapless
outcasts, where all the nursing and attendance are done by nuns and
sisters. The devotion of these gentle ladies is beyond all words of
reverence. Another excellent Catholic foundation is the Home of the
Little Sisters of the Poor in Rangoon. Here aged and helpless men and
women, without distinction of race or creed, are received and kept
in comfort. It is pleasant to record that the Home has been warmly
and liberally supported by a Burmese Buddhist, my worthy friend the
Honourable Maung Htoon Myat.

The memory of Father Bertrand has led me far from Pantanaw. Our first
year in a subdivision was full of novelty and variety, not of an
exciting kind, and perhaps not of interest except to ourselves. Though
I learned something of the people, my stay was too short. I have no
claim to intimate knowledge of the Delta, such as that of my successor,
Mr. de la Courneuve, or my lamented friend Colonel F. D. Maxwell,[36]
who knew every creek and channel, and, apparently, every man, woman,
and child, and who was the leading authority on all questions relating
to fisheries. While at Pantanaw I made the acquaintance of the
remarkable man who planned and executed the Irrawaddy Embankments,
the late Mr. Robert Gordon. The mere financial value of this colossal
undertaking to the people and to Government may be reckoned by millions
of pounds. The work has stood the test of time, and still remains a
monument of skill and foresight, and a source of enormous revenue.

In 1880 I spent a year in the Secretariat. After acting for a short
time as Assistant Secretary, I was retained as third man to prepare the
Annual Administration Report and see through the Press the departmental
Reports and Resolutions. My friend Mr. Burgess was acting as Secretary,
the Junior Secretary was Mr. E. S. Symes,[37] one of the most brilliant
men of his time. He became in succession Secretary, Chief Secretary,
and Commissioner. When the highest prizes of the Service were within
his grasp, a career of great distinction was prematurely ended in
melancholy circumstances early in the year 1901. _Sunt lacrimæ rerum._
Whatever of Secretariat work I knew, I learned from Mr. Burgess and Mr.
Symes. The Chief Engineer and Public Works Secretary was Colonel Colin
Scott-Moncrieff.[38] This year, Mr. Aitchison went to Council, and was
succeeded by Mr. C. E. Bernard.[39] One of the last civilians from
Haileybury, a nephew of John and Henry Lawrence, Mr. Bernard came to
Burma with a great reputation. After serving for a short time under Sir
John Lawrence in the Punjab, and later with unprecedented distinction
in the Central Provinces under Sir Richard Temple and in Bengal under
Sir George Campbell, he became Secretary to Sir Richard Temple’s Famine
Commission, and then Secretary to Government in the Home Department.
He was much trusted by Lord Ripon, with whose political opinions he
sympathized. To him, I believe, is mainly due the wide extension
of Municipal Administration in India. This, perhaps, can hardly be
regarded as his title to fame.

In the period covered by my recollections Mr. Bernard holds a foremost
place, and will be often in the story. He was one of those rare souls
who are the salt of the earth. Bearing, I believe, in appearance some
likeness to John, in character he was akin to Henry Lawrence. Deeply
and sincerely in sympathy with the people, despising the gaud and
glitter which some regard as essential in dealing with Orientals,[40]
hating the shadow of injustice or harshness, his sole desire was to
do his duty to the utmost of his strength. His kindly consideration
was no mark of weakness. On occasion he could be stern and unbending.
He exacted, as he yielded, obedience. Combining with the finest moral
and intellectual qualities eminence in all manly pursuits, he stands
forth as an ideal figure among the men who have built up the Indian
Empire. No more chivalrous, high-minded gentleman ever served the
Crown. As an administrator, his knowledge of detail, his extraordinary
memory, his power of rapid work, were almost unparalleled. It is
ungracious to suggest even minor defects in one to whom I owe so much
and who inspired in those privileged to be near him all reverence
and affection. It may be that impatience of delay and of any failure
from the best led him to do the work of his subordinates and that
sometimes his judgment erred. But what nobility of soul, what zeal for
righteousness, what effacement of self, what courage and resolution,
what fervent, unaffected piety! Twenty years later, when mourned by
all good men, Sir Charles Bernard had long gone to his rest, his widow
was again in Burma. On the eve of her departure, entirely of their own
initiative, representative Burmans of Rangoon brought her an address
and a piece of Burmese silver-work as a token of respect for her
husband’s memory.[41]

No one but Mr. Pepys could make interesting the record of daily
journeys to the Secretariat and the compilation of Blue-Books. Let
it suffice to say that we established a precedent by observing
the prescribed date for the issue of the Administration Report, a
gloomy volume which no one save the compiler of Moral and Material
Progress has ever been known to read. Mr. Regan, the indefatigable
Superintendent of the Government Press, who never once failed in any
undertaking, or in the fulfilment of a promise, risked his life in
a sampan and hurled the copies for India on to the mail-boat a few
minutes before she left her moorings at midnight. The Report was not
lightened by the statement that “a little tasteful carving relieves the
baldness of some of our police officers.” That was not the fault of the
printer.



CHAPTER IV

SOME ASPECTS OF BURMESE LIFE AND CHARACTER


One of the odd jobs which fell to my lot in my first year was to
consult the Elders of Bassein on the opium question. They were
unanimous in their condemnation of opium in every shape. Some races
consume opium in moderation, as Englishmen drink beer, without visible
harm. Indians, Chinese, Shans, Kachins, may be consumers of opium,
and none the worse in health or morals. The Burman is differently
constituted. Perhaps by temperament he lacks restraint, doing nothing
without overdoing it. Whenever a Burman takes to opium, he drifts
into excess and becomes an outcast from decent society. The feeling
of the better classes is perfectly consistent on this point. The term
“bein-sa” (opium-eater) is among the most opprobrious epithets that
can be applied to anyone. Among other races people of decent standing
use opium as a relaxation without loss of caste. Among Burmans it is
not so. Throughout my service I knew only one man of position who was
reputed to be a bein-sa. Even in his case the reputation may have been
undeserved. In Upper Burma, in the King’s time, the use of opium by
Burmans was strictly prohibited, and I believe the prohibition was
generally enforced. Exceptions were made in the case of Chinese and
others. But the suggestion that when we occupied Upper Burma we found
a flourishing though illicit opium traffic in full swing is quite
unsupported by facts. As a race, it may be said that Burmans are
singularly free from the opium vice. The more difficult it is made for
Burmans to procure this drug, the better it will be for the country.

Similarly, but in a less marked degree, intoxicating drinks are avoided
by good Buddhists. I was many years in Burma before I saw a drunken
Burman. I am afraid that the habit of drinking is on the increase. The
most popular liquor is what is vulgarly called “toddy,” no relation
to the concoction dear to Britons. It is not a spirit, but a juice
extracted from the tari palm, and should rightly be called tan-ye,
or tari. Unfermented, freshly drawn from the tree in the cool of the
morning, it is a pleasant and refreshing drink, if somewhat oversweet.
It ferments rapidly of its own accord. Fermented, it is a heady liquor,
stealing away men’s brains. In dry tracts, where the tari palm abounds,
the consumption of tari is very common, though still, I think, not
among the better classes. The Burman has no head, and succumbs at
once to a comparatively small quantity of liquor. In his cups he is a
quarrelsome, truculent savage, one of the most dangerous of created
beings. Hence, in districts where palm-groves decorate the landscape,
violent crimes, murders, cuttings, stabbings, are lamentably frequent.
It has been suggested that if all tari and kindred palms were
destroyed, the golden age would come again. Besides tari, country-made
spirits are consumed in large quantities, and illicit distillation is
commonly practised, a lucrative trade which fine or imprisonment fails
to suppress. For European liquors, except, perhaps, bottled beer, as
yet little taste has been acquired. I should like to say that the habit
of drinking is confined to labourers and peasants; but it cannot be
denied that many people of position, who should set an example, indulge
in it. Yet, on the whole, to drink is the exception; to abstain is the
rule.

Let us turn to pleasanter topics. The amusements of the people are
many and various. In the village street you will see men sitting over
a chess-board playing a game very much like the chess known in Europe.
The moves and rules are similar, though the shape of the pieces and
their names are different. A bad habit prevails of finishing each
move by thumping the piece loudly on the board. Card games are also
in high favour, the most esteemed being the game called “ko-mi,”
literally, “catch the nine.” Of course, cards are played for money.
The Burman is a born gambler, and indulges his propensity on every
available occasion. We have austerely set our faces against gambling
in every form, especially gambling with cards, and interfere not a
little with this fascinating pastime. Perhaps, contrary to the current
opinion derived from tales of travellers and legends from the hills,
the real defect of the Englishman in Burma is that he is too serious,
too little inclined to make allowances for a joyous, light-hearted
people. Public gambling is sternly discountenanced. For many years the
Legislature has been occupied in devising measures for its suppression,
meeting by fresh enactments the ingenious efforts of the Courts to find
means to rescue the gambler from the meshes of the law, of the gambler
to sail as near to the wind as possible without capsizing. To the
impartial observer these alternate struggles of the Legislature to make
its prohibitions effective, of the Courts to provide loopholes for the
gambler to escape, afford much healthy amusement. I have taken a hand
in the game on both sides in progressive stages of a varied career. Let
me not be thought too flippant. If Burmans would be content to have
quiet little ko-mi parties of friends in their own houses, I for one
should be the last to object. But it is a well-known fact that gambling
parties are not conducted on these principles. Practically it may be
said that in every gambling party someone makes a profit apart from
the chances or skill of the game. This is the essential distinction of
a common gaming-house, and the practice is properly discouraged. When
it is added that gaming parties constantly lead to brawls, affrays,
violent assaults, and indirectly to thefts and embezzlements, perhaps
the attitude of the earnest official may be regarded with sympathy.
Pitch-and-toss and other forms of gambling in public places are
prohibited, as in most civilized countries. Lotteries are exceedingly
popular; they are for the most part promoted by the intelligent
Chinaman, to the detriment of the guileless Burman. A pleasing form
is that known as the “thirty-six animal” lottery. The punter stakes
on any of the animals on the board; the winning animal, having been
previously secretly determined, is disclosed when the stakes have been
made. There is room here for deception. King Thebaw is supposed to have
ruined half Mandalay by State lotteries established for the purpose
of raising revenue. No one will be surprised to hear that lotteries
on races, to which the authorities are discreetly blind, are warmly
supported by Burmans of all classes; they are of a mild description,
tickets are cheap, and really hurt no one, like the capitation tax.
It is almost superfluous to record that cock-fighting is a favourite
pastime; this, too, is against the law, but it is hardly on this
account less popular. I have heard of, but never seen, fights between
buffaloes and even elephants.

[Illustration: CHIN-LÔN.]

An innocent game in which so far no one has found the taint of sin
is Burmese football (chin lôn). It is played in the village street
or any open space, with a light, open-worked bamboo ball, by any
number of players. Some Burmans attain great proficiency, kicking
the ball with toe or heel, catching it on their shoulders, making
it leap unexpectedly by mere exertion of the muscles. Real football
is, of course, an exotic, but has attained great popularity. It is
seldom that the introducer of a national game can be identified, but
in this case due credit can be given to the right person. British
football was introduced into Burma some forty years ago by Sir George
Scott. When his statue adorns Fytche Square, among other trophies
a football must be carved at his feet. The game is played with zeal
and enthusiasm by countless Burman boys and young men. To see Burmans
kicking a football with naked feet is a lesson in the hardness of the
human sole. Football matches attract great crowds of Burmans in Rangoon
and elsewhere. Mercifully the adoption of the Association form of the
game has been ordained. To think of hot-headed Burmans engaged in the
rough-and-tumble of Rugby excites lurid imaginings. As it is; the
referee has an arduous and anxious time. For the most part, however,
good-humour and a sporting spirit prevail.

Pony-races, races of trotting bullocks drawing light carts, elephant-
races, boat-races, are among the most popular sports. These also,
here as elsewhere, give opportunities for gambling; but, apart from
this, great interest is taken in them. In one of my subdivisions on one
day of every week a local pony race-meeting was held, attended by the
whole population of the small headquarter town, and often graced by the
presence of the leading officials. In those parts of the country which
are comparatively or absolutely dry Burmans are good riders, accustomed
to ponies from their childhood. Their saddle is horribly uncomfortable
to a European, their stirrups short, their knees near their noses. The
favourite pace is a smooth amble, untiring, it is thought, both to
rider and to steed. I have seen a Burman, to avoid a soft place, ride
a pony for some yards along the parapet of a bridge with a good drop
below.

As might be expected in a country where the waterways are many, Burmans
are an amphibious race, good swimmers, at home in the water, and expert
in the management of boats with oars and sails. Wherever there is a
stream, the whole population bathes either at dawn or dusk. Men, women,
and children swim about together, and perfect decorum is observed.
Of course, boat-races are a popular amusement. Long shallow canoes,
paddled by twenty or thirty men, all shouting a boastful song, contend
in these races. At the goal is a wand suspended through a hollow
bamboo. The man in the bow of the leading boat carries off the wand.
There is thus never any dispute as to the winner. The pace is pretty
good, but not nearly so fast as that of a good English four or eight.

As strict Buddhists, Burmans are supposed to abstain from animal food,
or, at least, from taking life for the purpose of providing food. For
fishermen, who must break this precept daily, special uncomfortable
hells are reserved. Hunting and shooting are practised at grave risk
of future disaster, and usually by the younger men who think they have
time to make up for these derelictions, or are giddily thoughtless
of the hereafter. A pious friend of mine in Upper Burma used to be
much scandalized at the levity of his aged father, who persisted in
coursing hares when he ought to have been making his soul. But as
regards the consumption of flesh of birds, beasts, and fish, there
seems to be no practical restraint among any class. So long as you
are not instrumental in causing death, you may safely eat the flesh.
Beef and poultry are freely eaten when available. Often stolen cattle
are slaughtered and eaten. The flesh of no creature which has died a
natural death, except perhaps dogs and tigers, is despised. Things
which to our taste have weird scent and flavour are highly appreciated.
The most popular article of food is ngapi, a composition of fish
suffered to decompose and prepared in many ways, all equally malodorous
in result. This is universally used as seasoning of rice at all meals.
Then there is a dreadful fruit which grows in the south, called a
“durian,” a large green fruit, bigger than an average cocoanut, with
a thick rind, containing big seeds embedded in a sort of custard. It
emits a disgusting odour, which cannot be described in polite language.
Of this fruit Burmans are inordinately fond. In the King’s time, every
year as the season came round, His Majesty used to charter a steamer
solely to bring up a cargo of durians. When, in later years, I told
the Ministers that we were about to build a railway to Mandalay, the
Prime Minister’s first remark was: “Excellent; then we shall be able to
get our durians fresh.” To my mind the taste is worse than the smell.
Yet many Europeans regard this fruit as a delicacy, and eat it freely,
even greedily. My theory is that the taste was painfully acquired by
officers stationed in remote places where durians grow, and where there
is nothing to do. By these pioneers others were persuaded to essay the
high adventure. Of a habit so difficult of acquisition and so morbid,
the devotees are naturally a little proud. One might suppose that
the nostrils of people who love ngapi and durians were proof against
any smell. On the contrary, Burmans are very sensitive to the smell
of oil burnt in cooking, which they regard as _odor nervis inimicus_,
particularly hurtful to the sick, but grievous to anyone. The third
characteristic article of diet in Burma is let-pet (pickled tea). So
far as I know, this is the ordinary tea of commerce, grown almost
entirely in the Northern Shan State of Taungbaing. It is not used to
make an infusion; the leaf is prepared for use as a condiment. The
trade and cultivation are entirely in the hands of Shans and Palaungs.
Let-pet was brought down from the hills packed in long baskets borne
on bullocks, now more commonly by train. It was formerly an article
monopolized by the King. I have not heard of any European professing to
like the taste of let-pet.

The Burman is first of all an agriculturist. He is only a moderately
good carpenter, though he can put the bamboo to many uses. As a
boat-builder he excels, fashioning large boats on lines of grace and
beauty. Also he can, of course, make his own flimsy house of mat and
thatch, or a more substantial dwelling of teak or jungle-wood. But the
few manual industries in which Burmans really shine are those which
have an artistic basis. Where the secret of a glaze is known, as at
Bassein in the delta, and at Kyaukmyaung, the port of Shwebo, pottery
is practised as an hereditary art, and many gracious shapes and designs
are fashioned out of ductile clay. Silk is grown by an obscure race
called Yabeins. But it is as dangerous to cultivate the silkworm as
to be a fisherman. More often, therefore, imported silk is used on
Burmese looms, where cloths of lovely mingled colours and delicious
wavy patterns are still produced. Alas! this charming domestic industry
is on the wane, and both silks and cottons are now as a rule imported
from Europe. The fine natural taste of the people is deteriorating.
One of the saddest signs of this degeneracy is the substitution of the
ugly gingham or silk umbrella for the darling, bright-coloured little
tis,[42] which used to preserve the complexions of Burmese maids.
This cruel sacrifice to economy and utility has almost succeeded in
spoiling the incomparable dazzling glory of mingled colour which used
to characterize a Burmese crowd. On the occasion of a royal visit to
Mandalay, when boat-races were being held on the Moat amid the most
picturesque surroundings, the delightful effect of rows upon rows of
gaily dressed Burmans lining the farther edge was marred by a forest of
imported umbrellas reared hideous to the sky. However, word was sent
along the line that it was disrespectful to raise an umbrella in the
presence of royalty. And as if at the touch of an enchanter’s wand, the
horrible excrescences disappeared and light and beauty reigned once
more.

[Illustration: THE POTTER.]

[Illustration: THE MYO-ÔK-GADAW.]

An extraordinarily effective art is the lacquer-work of Pagan. Bowls
of exquisite shape, boxes for sacred books or for carrying the
necessary betel, offer choice specimens of the artist’s skill. The
designs in rich colouring on these lovely works are full of vigour
and originality. Lacquering is a laborious art. A really fine box or
bowl takes months to complete. The most elaborate work is based on a
foundation of horsehair, the finished product so flexible and supple
that a bowl can be bent till the opposite sides meet without the fabric
cracking. I confess that, as regards my own treasured specimens, I
am content to know that this can be done without putting them to the
test. Even at Pagan the hateful modern spirit has begun to shed baleful
influence. Mingled with bowls and boxes, consecrated by use and wont,
may be seen cigar cases of Western shapes and other signs of decadence.

Burmese silver-work and wood-carving are world-renowned. These fine
arts are still flourishing. Besides fashioning portable articles, such
as figures of men and elephants, or ornamented boxes, wood-carvers show
their skill and taste in elaborate designs on monasteries and other
public buildings. Some of the carving on monasteries in Mandalay, the
Queen’s Monastery in A Road, and others of earlier date, is of the
highest æsthetic merit. The specimens of wood-carving in the Palace
have never appealed to me so intensely. In the presentation of figures
the execution is bold and dignified. Wood-carving seems to me to have
preserved its native simplicity, to have been less affected than other
arts by devastating Western contact. Silver-workers still produce
fabrics of grace and beauty in the best indigenous fashion; but too
often degenerate teapots and decadent toilet-sets give evidence of
debasing utilitarian propaganda. I grieve to hear that electric light
has been installed on the Great Pagoda in Rangoon as well as in the
temple of the Yakaing Paya.[43] Much have we done for Burma. But it
is sad to think that we have sullied and smirched the tender bloom of
Burmese art and artistic ideals.

Of the national character, indications will be found scattered over
these pages. It is a mass of apparent inconsistencies. Kindness
and compassion are noticeable virtues. Children are treated with
indulgence, not always according to discretion. You will see a
constable come off a long spell of sentry duty, and straightway
walk about with a child perched on his shoulder. No orphan is left
desolate. No stranger asks in vain for food and shelter. Yet these
good people have a full mixture of original sin. They produce dacoits
who perpetrate unspeakable barbarities on old men and women. Sudden
and quick in quarrel, the use of the knife is lamentably common. Gay,
careless, light-hearted, with a strong if uncultured sense of humour,
they can be cruel and revengeful. The statistics of the Courts reveal
a mass of criminality as shocking as it is surprising. Murders,
dacoities, robberies, violent assaults, are far too numerous. I can
understand the prevalence of crimes of passion and impulse; but in a
land flowing with milk and honey, a fair and fertile land where there
are work and food enough for everyone, I cannot understand why there
should be any such sordid crimes as theft and embezzlement.

Two characteristics distinguish Burmans from most other Eastern races.
They have no caste, and there is no seclusion of women. Socially,
therefore, we can meet on equal terms. A Burman does not shrink from
eating and drinking in our company, or need to undergo elaborate and
expensive purification if by accident or design he is sullied by our
contact. If I go to visit a Burman, I am received by his wife and
daughters, and in turn when, often with the ladies of his house, he
comes to see me, he is welcome to associate on friendly terms with
my family. The absence of caste does much to facilitate the task of
administration. Partly owing to the intelligence and docility of the
people, but mainly on account of this lack of caste, we were able,
for instance, to carry out, with no serious trouble, measures for
suppressing plague. Our real difficulty, I may say parenthetically, was
to find the right measures to take. In the end what some people call
the disgusting practice of inoculation seems to have been found most
beneficial. In some places people were encouraged to be inoculated by
making the occasion a festival; pwès were held, small presents given
to children, prizes distributed by lotteries in which the chances were
free. In Sagaing last year, out of a population of ten thousand, eight
thousand were inoculated. The local officers and their wives underwent
the operation, often more than once, by way of inspiring confidence,
as for the same purpose my wife and I were vaccinated years before at
Pantanaw. Among those inoculated there were no cases of plague. The
ridiculous suggestion that inoculation tends to spread plague has
been, we might almost say, disproved by specific experiments in Burma
and, I doubt not, elsewhere.

To resume. Burmese women hold a position as dignified and assured as
in any country of the world. Every Buddhist believes that women are
inferior to men, that a really good woman may have the luck to be born
a man in a future incarnation. Every Burman knows that a woman is as
good as a man, and often better. It was in my experience that occurred
the pleasing incident elsewhere told not quite correctly. A young woman
came to me for a reduction of her income-tax. She said she earned her
living by selling in the bazaar.

“What does your husband do?” I asked.

“He stays at home and minds the children.”

This was an exceptional case, but it illustrates the relative position.
Burmese women take an active part in the business of the country. Most
of the retail trade is in their hands; sometimes they manage more
important commercial affairs. The control of a stall in bazaar or
market is regarded as a very desirable occupation. Is it indiscreet
to suggest that opportunity for gossip is an attraction? Often a wife
takes great interest in her husband’s official or private work. If one
has business with a police-sergeant or Thugyi, and finds him absent,
one does not seek a subordinate, but discusses and settles the matter
with the Sazin-gadaw or the Thugyi-gadaw.[44] It is on record that,
prisoners being brought to a police-station in the absence of any of
the force, the sergeant’s wife put them in the cage, and, herself
shouldering a da, did sentry-go till relieved. After these instances
it need hardly be said that in her own household the Burmese woman is
supreme. Her position is equalled only by that of a French mother.

Girls may not go to monasteries for instruction, so elementary
education is not universal among women as among men. But many girls,
especially of the richer classes, learn to read and write. I think more
women are literate than among other Eastern people. Practice in the
bazaar, at any rate, makes them ready at mental arithmetic. One day I
was holding an amateur examination of a monastic school. The mothers
sat round, admiring the academic gymnastics of their infant prodigies.
Presently I set in Burmese form a variation of the old theme of a
herring and a half. All the boys and all their teachers took slates
and began to figure laboriously. Almost before they had begun the
bazaar women in the circle laughed and gave the answer. One pleasing
characteristic of Burmese ladies, rare among people of warm climates,
may be mentioned. Those who have not lived roughly, but have been
properly housed and tended, preserve a youthful appearance in the most
surprising manner quite to mature age. Very rare among women of all
classes is the aged appearance of comparatively young women.

An admirable trait is the remarkable absence of serious crime among
women. It is quite rare to find a woman in prison, and I remember no
instance of the execution of a woman. While gaols in Burma provide
quarters for 15,000 men, they can accommodate only 354 women. These
seem to me very remarkable figures. There is no crowding on the women’s
side of the gaol. Indeed, if imprisonment of women were abolished in
Burma, no harm would be done. I suppose Burmese women produce fewer
criminals than any other civilized race. Not that they are all angels;
they are apt to be hasty and to offend with their tongues. Sometimes
the bazaar is the scene of actual conflict between angry fair ones. But
on the whole Burmese women are strikingly innocent and well-behaved.
Good mothers and honest wives, light-hearted and sociable, they are
justly held in high esteem.

Burmese girls enjoy much freedom. You may see them laughing and talking
at the village well, sitting at the domestic loom, walking in the
roads, engaged on household duties. Infant marriage is unknown; no
Burmese girl marries except to please herself. Like other Orientals,
girls come early to maturity, and marriages at fourteen or fifteen are
not uncommon; but as often as not a Burmese maiden does not marry till
she is eighteen or nineteen, or even older. She must not wait too long,
or she will be laughed at as an old maid.[45] The relations between the
sexes are much the same as in Western countries. Boys and girls and men
and women fall in and out of love and break one another’s hearts after
the best traditions of romance. Jealousy is a prevalent vice, and many
die for love.

[Illustration: SNAKE PAGODA.]

[Illustration: BURMESE GIRL WORSHIPPING.]

Buddhism recognizes and allows polygamy, and it is incorrect to say
that plurality of wives is uncommon. Several different kinds of wives
are described in the Law of Manu, which contains even an account of the
popular modern character, the wife like a mother. But many, probably
most, men live happily with one wife all their lives. In any case,
the first or principal wife has a distinct and honoured place in the
household. No ceremony of marriage is necessary or, among the mass
of the people, usual. The high Buddhist theory, how different from
the practice of this joyous people, regards life as a mistake, this
world as a vale of tears, transitory existence as the supreme evil,
and bids us all aim at the goal of eternal rest. Therefore no Burmese
monk would bless a marriage; he is more at home at a funeral. Mutual
consent is the sole essential of a marriage. Similarly, divorce is
easy. No Court need intervene. Ordinarily, separation is effected by
arrangement between the parties, sometimes in the presence of the
village elders. Although the Courts have not, perhaps, said the last
word on the law of the subject, it is commonly accepted that, even
without fault on either side, one party to the marriage can insist
on divorce against the wish of the other party to the contract. In
this respect men and women are on equal terms. The safeguard against
capricious divorce is supplied by strict rules for the division of
property at the dissolution of a marriage. In the case mentioned above,
the one who insists on separation must abandon all property to the
reluctant partner. Though so easy, divorce is far less common than
might be expected. Most married people live together till death parts
them. It is not unusual for divorced people to come together again. An
appreciable proportion of the crimes of violence is due to the refusal
of a woman to rejoin her divorced husband. I do not suggest that the
Burmese law and practice of divorce would be suitable in communities of
a more complex type. The comparatively even distribution of wealth, the
fertility of the soil and the scantiness of the population, the absence
alike of great fortunes and of abject, pinching poverty, the kindly
disposition of the race, probably combine with more obscure elements to
render somewhat primitive conditions possible. It is quite certain that
in the stage which Burmese civilization has reached the simple marriage
law works well and produces no obviously ill-effects. It need hardly be
said that there is no bar to the marriage of widows.



CHAPTER V

ON THE FRONTIER


Early in 1881 I went for a very short term to Myaung-my̆a, in the
Delta. The subdivisional officer having suddenly broken down, I was
sent to superintend the taking of the Census. At Myaung-my̆a, newly
constituted the headquarters of a subdivision, there was no house. I
lived in a zayat near the Court. Myaung-my̆a is now the chief town
of an important district, with a Deputy Commissioner as well as a
Divisional and District Judge. Having finished the Census, I went to
Bassein, riding most of the way over bare rice-fields. Everywhere
I was received with the generous hospitality characteristic of the
Burmese people, and I made many pleasant acquaintances among Thugyis
and villagers. One village headman lives in my memory, a stalwart Karen
who in his youth had been the champion boxer at the Court of Mandalay.
He said so, and he ought to know. Probably his position was not one of
high eminence; Burmese and Karen boxing is a mild game. The challenger
leaps into the ring; slapping his chest, he dances round, bidding all
come on. It is one of the rules of the game that the players should be
equally matched in size and weight. With much difficulty a competitor
is found to fulfil the requirements and accept the challenge. At last
preliminaries are arranged, and the boxers face each other in the ring.
They may kick, and they may slap with open hand, but not with closed
fist. As soon as a drop of blood is drawn from the slightest scratch,
the fight is at an end. Gloves are not worn. This may sound barbarous,
and should be exciting; as a matter of fact, it is very harmless and
extremely dull. In my experience, Karens are better at the game than
Burmans.

For the rest of my time as subdivisional officer, I stayed at Bassein
as the guest of Colonel William Munro, the Deputy Commissioner, an
officer of the old school who had spent his life in Burma. Colonel
Munro made use of the aptitude presumed to have been acquired in the
Secretariat during the past year and set me to write all his annual
reports on the sole basis of the figures in the appended statements.

My next charge was the frontier subdivision of Mye-dè in the
Tha-yet-my̆o district. The headquarter town was Allan-my̆o, called
after Major Allan who was Quartermaster-General when the frontier was
demarcated. Allan-my̆o lies on the Irrawaddy, just over five miles
north of Tha-yet-my̆o,[46] the district headquarters. The distance had
to be more than five miles, or travelling allowance for the journey
would have been inadmissible. Above Allan-my̆o were the villages
of Myedè and Mobôn. Long ago were two young Princes, blind. It was
foretold that if they went down the Irrawaddy they should recover their
sight. So they set out on a raft. Presently, at a place where they
landed, they perceived a glimmering of the sky and exclaimed: “Mo-bôn;
there is the sky above.” A few miles farther on, landing again, they
saw the ground on which they stood, and cried: “Mye-dè; there is
the earth beneath.” Thus was the prophecy fulfilled and the places
received their names. Six miles north of the flagstaff on the fort at
Myedè, then no longer a place of arms, was the starting-point of the
frontier-line laid down by Lord Dalhousie’s personal direction.

The subdivision was a compact area of about a thousand square miles.
A comparatively barren land, fringed by hills of no great height,
intersected by many watercourses, now beds of dry sand, anon rushing
torrents. These mountain-streams come down with sudden violence.
Often returning from a walk or ride, one sat awaiting the subsidence
of a river bubbling over a sandy bed where an hour or so before one
had passed dry-shod. Sad stories were told of travellers cut off
in mid-stream by a rapid flood and forced to spend the night on a
diminishing islet of sand. As a rule these chaungs[47] were not too
deep to ford on pony-back, though as often as not the pony created
a painful diversion by sitting down unexpectedly and wallowing in
the waves. In these northern wilds were no teeming rice-fields, no
fat fisheries. The people were poor and unsophisticated, raising
scanty rice-crops with the aid of primitive irrigation works, earning
a precarious livelihood by boiling cutch (catechu) or cultivating
taungya[48] on the hillsides. One valuable crop they had, sessamum
(hnan); but the farmer could not reckon on a good hnan season every
year. Scattered among the hills were villages of tame Chins who had
drifted down from their own land in the distant north-west of Upper
Burma. Here were to be seen women with faces tattoed in close blue
lines, according to legend a precaution against the too demonstrative
admiration of their Burmese neighbours. The effect was singularly
unbecoming, and already the younger women were organizing successful
resistance. Chins were excellent settlers, careful and frugal
cultivators, their villages models of neatness and cleanliness as
compared with Burmese villages similarly situate. Much as I love
Burmans, I cannot honestly commend the state of their villages.
Fenced in as a protection against dacoits, the houses closely jammed
together with no respect for order; the paths, especially at the
gateways, trodden into pulpy masses of mud by the trampling oxen; the
ground-floor of each hut a pen where cattle are installed each night;
a Burmese village is an insanitary though often picturesque abode.
Even the odours seem to me less fragrant and pleasing than to some more
enthusiastic votaries. In the simple agricultural conditions of this
primitive community, the revenue work was very light. The only trouble
arose from disputes about irrigation and rights to water. Bench work
in criminal matters was not excessive, and most of the civil cases
were tried by the My̆o-ôk (township officer). There was ample leisure
for travelling. All the touring was done on Burman ponies, strong and
willing little creatures, averaging about 12½ and never exceeding 13½
hands. At that time it was an article of faith that horses, or even
ponies of Waler or Arab or country-bred classes, could not live in
Burma. We have learnt better in recent years. Most of the riding was
along jungle paths through _in_-tree forest on sandy soil, quite good
going even in the rains; but there were craggy bits in the hills and
quick-sands in the streams. Touring in Burma has always been less
luxurious than camp-life in India. We travelled at every season of the
year, carrying no tents, but finding abundant shelter in monasteries
and zayats, or in frequent police-stations. Everywhere monks and
villagers were hospitable and friendly. Circle Thugyis flourished, men
who held office in succession to a long line of forefathers. Save in
one respect, the people did not seem to have many criminal tendencies.
It was natural to see the stocks near the village gate; it would have
been surprising to see them occupied.

We marched with Sinbaungwè in Upper Burma. The border was marked by
stone pillars at set intervals and by an actual line cut in the turf,
which had to be inspected periodically and kept in visible repair.
Along the frontier at intervals of four or five miles was a series of
police posts. Picture a quadrangular enclosure girt by a kya-hlan[49]
of stout bamboos interwoven with a bristling array of bamboo-spikes,
quite an efficient protection against a rush if the heavy wooden gate
was closed. Beside the gate stood a watch-tower. In the midst was a
station-house and office, with a barred wooden cage for prisoners.
Round this were grouped the small but sufficient houses of the
constables and native officers. The posts were garrisoned entirely by
local Burmans armed with das[50] and muskets. The policeman of those
days was a picturesque person, in Burmese dress, of a pattern to some
extent dependent on the taste of the Superintendent. A red-striped
paso or lôngyi[51] marked the servant of the Queen. He wore his hair
long, surmounted by a gaungbaung,[52] and was not expected to pose as
a Gurkha sepoy. With all his many and pleasing virtues and vices, one
quality his warmest admirers have never claimed for the average Burman,
respect for discipline. You may drill Burmans till they look as smart
as soldiers of the line, and you can teach them to shoot excellently.
But so far it has not been found possible successfully to train them in
habits of discipline and method. It was, therefore, never a surprise,
though it excited clamorous if unreasonable wrath, when, on reaching a
police post a few hundred yards from the frontier, one found the great
gate ajar, the watch-tower empty, and the sentry either absent on his
own more or less lawful occasions, or peacefully sleeping with his
musket by his side. This was well enough in quiet times, but when the
war came the result was seen in the desertion of the frontier posts,
and their destruction by roving bands of dacoits.

The frontier-line started from a pillar on the bank of the Irrawaddy,
on a spot visited by the great Governor-General himself. Hard by, on
each side of the boundary, was a telegraph office. Though the wires
ran from Rangoon to the border, and from the border to Mandalay, there
was not sufficient comity between the Governments to allow the line
to be linked. Every message to and from Upper Burma had to be carried
by hand across the intervening space of a few yards and resignalled.
Our telegraph office was the place where the subdivisional officer
met the Wun[53] of Sinbaungwè for the discussion of frontier affairs.
With that official, who was of about the same standing as myself,
my relations were somewhat stiff, civil but hardly cordial. It is a
mistake to suppose that the relations between Europeans and Burmans are
less intimate now than in earlier days. Twenty years later, in similar
circumstances, I should certainly have asked the Wun to breakfast or
dinner. Then, our meetings were rigidly formal and official. The Wun
used to annoy me by coming into the room wearing Burmese shoes, a
studiously discourteous act.[54] I could think of no better retort than
to keep my hat on during the interview. I dare say it was unworthy, but
I think it was human to feel a thrill of satisfaction when, four or
five years later, my old friend Maung Lat came to me in my office in
Mandalay crouching on the ground in the Burmese attitude of respect.
Maung Lat was a handsome man, of the usual type of Burmese district
officials. After the annexation he took service under our Government
and became a My̆o-ôk. He did good work, and _felix opportunitate
mortis_, died before he was found out. At our meetings at Myedè,
cattle-driving raids across the frontier were among the most frequent
subjects of discussion. This was the darling sin of adventurous
spirits on each side of the border. In a country where cattle are the
most valuable of the farmer’s possessions, cattle theft is one of the
crimes which most sorely vexes the magistrate’s righteous soul, and is
most rigorously punished. All possible steps were taken to suppress
it, and offenders were visited with stripes and imprisonment. Yet one
could not help recognizing that to drive whole herds of oxen across
the border, to evade police posts, to carry the spoil by unfrequented
paths through the heart of our districts till it could be sold many
miles away, perhaps in a cattle-market under the eyes of officials,
was an attractive and exciting adventure. On the whole, our men had
the worst of the game. If they were caught driving cattle from across
the frontier, they were punished as if they had committed the offence
in British territory, while cattle-thieves from Upper Burma who got
over the line with their plunder were seldom brought to justice. Hence
many wrangles with Maung Lat. Once only I really had the best of the
encounter. I bluffed him into handing back to me on the spot a man who
had been seized on our side and carried off to Sinbaungwè. At the time
the incident seemed to me of international importance.

The man who had set his stamp on the subdivision was my friend Mr.
Burgess, who spent there the first seven years of his service, greatly
to the benefit of himself and of the people. He made roads, kept the
peace, and impressed the countryside by his zeal for justice and good
order. Even in those dark days, before the light of a Decentralization
Commissions had shone, needless transfers seem to have been avoided.
The township officer, my old and valued friend and colleague, Maung
Tet Py̆o, held his charge for many years. He was an official of the
very oldest school, not very learned, with only a working knowledge of
codes, but thoroughly acquainted with every inch of his township, and
with every man, woman, and child of his people. He had, of course,
no English. I doubt if he was ever required to pass a departmental
examination. His handwriting was so bad that my Burmese clerks often
had to come to me to decipher it. Maung Tet Py̆o was a man of courage
and energy, who somewhat shocked the straighter sect of Buddhists by
being an ardent sportsman. Burmans told with admiration that he shot
birds on the wing. He filled the measure of his days, was decorated,
and many years after his retirement died honoured and lamented.
Curiously enough, though so nearly illiterate, he will probably be
remembered as the compiler of a book on the “Customary Laws of the
Chins,” a treatise which attracted the attention of Mr. Jardine,[55]
the Judicial Commissioner, and was translated under his direction.
The manuscript was beautifully written out by my clerk, Maung Po,
afterwards a My̆o-ôk, one of my many Burmese friends, who, I suspect,
was responsible for more than the transcription.

At Tha-yet-my̆o, then a military station of some importance, were
half the 43rd Regiment, still on this side of the frontier, the 44th
Regiment, two battalions of Madras Infantry, and guns. The fort, north
of the town, was duly garrisoned. At Allan-my̆o we had a detachment
of British infantry in barracks on the hills east of the station. The
civil officers were the Assistant Superintendent of Police, the late
Mr. B. K. S. MacDermott, afterwards in the Commission, best of comrades
and good fellows, and the Assistant Engineer, Mr. H. W. James, now
Superintending Engineer. A small Customs Office was maintained for the
registration of inland trade. The subdivisional officer was Collector
of Customs, without fee or reward. In that capacity he had the use of
the Customs boat, a stout English gig, very convenient for crossing the
river, here about two miles wide. I have often seen, by the way, an
elephant swim across with just enough of his head above water to seat
the mahout.[56] At Allan-my̆o there was a decent little house, close to
the river-bank. When the Irrawaddy rose, the room on the ground-floor
was generally flooded. At the beginning of the rains this room used to
be invaded by swarms of tiny land-crabs, more pleasing visitors than
scorpions. Sometimes for a few days the whole town was under water, and
we went about in boats.

Myedè, traversed by the Pegu Yoma, was pleasanter, but less healthy,
than the Delta. Here I had an attack of malarial fever, of no great
severity, which left me subject to a recurrence for the next fourteen
years or so. After that it seemed to be worn out. We had also in
my time a dreadful outbreak of cholera throughout the subdivision.
Deaths were reckoned by scores, and villages were almost depopulated.
Riding to visit the infected parts, we expected to find the dead
lying unburied in streets and houses; happily the expectation was not
literally fulfilled.

Speaking from my personal experience, I regard Burma as a healthy
country as compared with other regions of the tropics. Much depends
on the comfort in which one lives. The very bad name which Burma no
doubt has acquired is due to a great extent to the rapid succession
of the three Burmese Wars. After each of these wars, troops, military
and civil officers, and police suffered many hardships and privations,
bivouacking under the stars, and often irregularly fed. In these
conditions sickness ensued, and much mortality and invaliding. For
people properly housed and assured of a square meal at the right time,
Burma is healthy enough. For those who work all the year round in the
jungles of Upper Burma, it is rather sickly. On the whole, Lower Burma,
except Arakan and the tracts bordering on the Yomas, is healthier than
Upper Burma. Cholera and plague are not peculiar to Burma, and are not
more deadly than in other parts of India.

[Illustration: WHEN THE FLOODS ARE OUT.]

Of the wealth of insect-life much has been written. Besides mosquitoes,
ants, white, red, and black, flying and merely creeping, abound in
copious variety. Once at least they stopped a ball at Government House,
flying in hosts, dropping their wings and therewith their bodies, and
reducing the floor to a mucous mass. For me, at Allan-my̆o, others of
their species eviscerated all my books during my brief absence. At the
beginning of the rains strange creeping, crawling, flying things, slimy
things with legs, appear in swarms. The centipede makes his nest in
your sponge; the scorpion lurks in your boot. Snakes, too, are fairly
numerous and of many kinds, from the hamadryad who chases the wayfarer,
to the Russell’s viper who lies dormant in his path, and when trodden
on turns like any worm. Apart from these disadvantages, I have no
complaint to make of Burma as a country to live in.

While discussing these generalities, I may say a few words about the
climate. Naturally, in so large an extent of country, this is subject
to considerable variations. The Delta is hot and steamy with an
abundant never-failing rainfall, and no cold weather to speak of. Much
of Upper Burma is an arid plain, with frequent hills, hot and dry, but
relieved by a pleasant cold season. Even here we do not seem to get the
constant stifling heat, day and night, of which we hear in the plains
of Northern India. I suppose some people find the heat trying. An old
friend of mine had the habit after dinner of calling his neighbour’s
attention to a picture on the wall, while he surreptitiously emptied
his finger-bowl down his (own) neck. In Mandalay for some months of
the wet season (not so very wet) a tearing wind rages, and is apt
to shatter one’s nerves. In Lower Burma the persistent rainfall is
impressive. People who have lived there hardly notice that it ever
rains in England. But it seldom pours both morning and evening.
Generally it is possible to get out for exercise either at dawn or at
close of day.

To return to my subdivision. By an arrangement which seems anomalous,
but which worked well enough, for a substantial part of my sojourn in
Myedè I was also Cantonment Magistrate at Tha-yet-my̆o. The Commanding
Officer most kindly supervised the establishment which dealt with
hedges and ditches. My duty was to try civil and criminal cases, keep
the accounts, and attend the periodical meetings of the Cantonment
Committee. These were friendly gatherings where, unless the secretary
officiously intervened, many pleasant stories whiled away the tedious
hours. If I worked very hard, my duties on an average occupied about
five or six hours a week, for which I drew an allowance of Rs. 200 a
month. I spoil no one’s market by revealing the existence of this fat
sinecure; the stipend was reduced by an economical Commission in 1887,
and has since been abolished. My Deputy Commissioners were Colonel
Horatio Nelson Davies, who had been Sir Arthur Phayre’s secretary, my
friend R. H. Pilcher, and Captain (now Colonel) W. F. H. Grey, from
all of whom I received much kindness. Nor can I forbear to mention the
hospitality of Captain William Cooke,[57] whose house was always open
to me, and with whom the friendship begun in those distant days still
flourishes. The chaplain, the Rev. J. D. Briscoe, one of the best of
men, was also among my allies. He died, most sincerely mourned, in the
flower of his age, I believe from the effects of asceticism practised
from no doctrinal motives, but for the sake of example to the soldiers
among whom he worked.

Some excitement was caused by the coming of a Burmese embassy
accredited to the Viceroy. Among them was the Kyaukmyaung Atwin-
Wun,[58] son-in-law, of the Taingda Mingyi, whom afterwards I
knew well at Mandalay. Mr. Pilcher, who was deputed to accompany them
to Simla, had met them all frequently when Assistant Resident at the
Burmese Court. But though he was distinguished from his fellows by
a flowing beard, they declined to recognize him, professing that in
their eyes all kalas were alike. Robert Pilcher had other attributes
besides his beard which might have commended him to Burmese officials.
His knowledge of their language was scholarly and profound, while his
sympathy with the people was infinite. Nothing that concerned them
was alien from him. An instance may be given. Once in after-years he
was with a column on march. Halting the column, he sat down by the
wayside to get some information from a Burman passer-by. Presently the
patient Commanding Officer asked gently if the information had been
extracted. “I am so sorry,” was the reply; “I forgot all about it. He
was telling me such an interesting story about his aunt.” The Mission
was hospitably received and entertained at Simla, but returned without
having effected any useful purpose. Which reminds me of the Burman
schoolboy who, asked to translate _mortuus est re infectâ_, ventured to
reply: “He died of an infectious disease.”

But by far the most thrilling incident of my stay at Allan-my̆o was
the visit of Sir Frederick Roberts. He came as Commander-in-Chief of
the Madras Army, the troops in Burma being in the Madras command.[59]
Attended by his staff, among whom were General Godfrey Clerk,[60]
Captain Neville Chamberlain,[61] and Captain G. Pretyman.[62] His
Excellency came to inspect the frontier stations, and marched from
Allan-my̆o to Toungoo across the Yôma,[63] which parts the Tha-yet-my̆o
and Toungoo districts. Fresh from the glories of Afghanistan and the
march to Kandahar, though then but midway in his illustrious career,
Sir Frederick Roberts was a hero in all men’s eyes. It was my happy
lot to make arrangements for his march and to accompany him through my
subdivision. Thus as a young man I had the privilege of experiencing
the unrivalled charm and personal attraction or this great soldier.
To the end of my days in the East I have seen the eyes of old native
officers light up at the mention of Lord Roberts Sahib. Not Nelson
himself inspired more affection and enthusiasm in officers and men who
served and followed him.

At the close of this year, being sent to represent the Tha-yet-my̆o
District, I saw the first of many Viceroys who visited Burma, Lord
Ripon. I need hardly say that I was too junior to be brought into
immediate contact with His Excellency or his staff. Mr. Primrose[64]
was private secretary, and Major Evelyn Baring,[65] Finance Member,
was of the Viceroy’s party. The most obvious result of Major Baring’s
visit was the stoppage of most of our remunerative jail industries.
The order for discontinuance was of general application throughout
India; Burma, still an unsophisticated place, under a ruler who had
learned to obey, was the only Province which made a serious effort
to carry the order into effect. The usual festivities were held in
honour of the Viceroy’s visit, a ball, a levée, and a garden-party.
The most picturesque incident that lingers in my mind is the posting
of venerable Burmese officers, in fur coats, clasping to their
breasts silver-mounted das, in the corridors of Government House, as
a-thet-daw-saung[66] to Their Excellencies.

At Tha-yet-my̆o, for the first and last time, and only for a few days,
I held charge of a district as acting Deputy Commissioner. For various
reasons there was a temporary lack of senior officers in the district.
For a short period I was not only Deputy Commissioner, but also
Cantonment Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, and Superintendent of
the Jail. I did not succeed in drawing the pay of all these offices.



CHAPTER VI

THE SECRETARIAT: THE LAST SUBDIVISION


Early in 1883 the acting Chief Commissioner, Mr. Crosthwaite,[67]
very considerately gave me the option of coming to Rangoon as Junior
Secretary. In those days it was usual for officers, especially young
officers, to go where they were sent, without previous reference and
without room for remonstrance. Nearly twenty years passed before I was
again consulted as to my posting. Recently a different practice seems
to have developed. Although from a financial point of view the move to
Rangoon was ruinous, we decided to risk it and went down. Except for
two brief intervals, I stayed in the Secretariat till early in 1891.
Altogether I spent in the office eleven years, a period surpassed
only, I think, by my friend Mr. C. G. Bayne.[68] In 1883 Mr. Symes was
Secretary, Mr. Burgess being on leave.

Life was much the same as when we were here two years before. Rangoon
was still a pleasant social place. We rode in the mornings, and played
polo or tennis in the afternoons, gave a good many hours to dancing and
whist, went to the races twice a year, and in the rains to hunts once a
week. Some were even so energetic as to play tennis two or three times
a week before breakfast, a practice which our less hardy successors
have abandoned. We drove to office and out to dinner in dogcarts. Not
in those days did the Junior Secretary or his wife regard a brougham
as indispensable. Among the pleasantest meetings were hunt finishes,
hospitable gatherings where, at the end of the run, riders and their
friends were rewarded with pegs and encouraged to dance. Jests and
laughter filled the air. The cheerful subaltern leant over the veranda,
encouraging a reluctant rider at the last show-jump: “Give him his
head, sir; can’t you see the pony wants to jump?” Poor Cockeram; one
of the first to fall in the guerilla warfare in Upper Burma. The
lotteries on the races were still fairly select meetings of friends and
acquaintances. In 1885 I attended them for the last time, and bandied
quips with a famous special correspondent. In reply to his remark that
we were making history, I made the obvious and unluckily too true
reply that we left that to him. I am still somewhat surprised that he,
an Irishman, should have thought it necessary gravely to explain the
origin and meaning of his observation.

The work in the Secretariat was hard enough, but not so overwhelming
as in later times. There was a staff of good old-fashioned clerks,
most of whom had been in the office many years, whose experience
compensated the somewhat primitive methods inherited from days when
Sir Arthur Phayre himself went daily to the Secretariat in Godwin
Road. The office was quite efficient, bearing the impress of three
excellent Secretaries, Major Street, Mr. Burgess, and Mr. Symes, each
of the finest quality in his own way. Mr. Crosthwaite, whose name is
associated with Burma more intensely than that of anyone save Sir
Arthur Phayre, acted as Chief Commissioner for a year in 1883-84,
during Mr. Bernard’s absence on leave.

About this time India was violently agitated by the Ilbert Bill. In
all parts of India the bulk of the magisterial work is done by native
officers. Living in places more or less remote were many Europeans,
planters and others, whom it was thought undesirable to subject to
the jurisdiction of Indians. The law therefore ordained that only
magistrates themselves Europeans and of proved experience should
exercise powers in criminal cases over persons classed as European
British subjects. This was, I venture to say, a wise and necessary
provision. By the Ilbert Bill it was proposed to abolish this
distinction and to place Europeans and natives on the same footing in
respect of criminal procedure. It was a doctrinaire proposal of the
worst kind, subversive of the prestige of the ruling race, and quite
uncalled for by the circumstances and exigencies of the time. One
thing only can be said in its favour. It was offered as a voluntary
boon, not as a concession to seditious clamour and agitation. By all
classes of Europeans the proposal was vehemently opposed. In many
parts, especially in Bengal, passionate excitement was stirred up.
The Viceroy, believed to have been the only begetter of the Bill,
seated on the Olympian heights of Simla, failed to realize the extent
and force of the opposition to his project. Not till he came down to
Calcutta did he understand the situation. In the capital there was
enough visible ferment to indicate the seething passions beneath. Wild
stories are told of the intentions of the European community, had the
Bill been pressed. If Lord Ripon had not come to Calcutta, he would
have continued in ignorance, surrounded only by officials, unblest
by the saving grace of contact with living public opinion. In Burma
alone among the Provinces of India, the subject failed to kindle a
spark of vital interest. There were few Europeans scattered through
the country likely to be affected by the proposed change in the law.
And, for reasons which it would not be difficult to analyze, Europeans
in Burma have seldom been very clamorous in expression. By some of the
more ardent spirits, however, it was felt that Rangoon ought not to
be left entirely out of the movement. After much delay, a meeting to
demonstrate and protest against the Bill was convened at Mr. Fowle’s
new Town Hall for one fine Saturday afternoon. On the morning of the
appointed day, the _Rangoon Gazette_ published in advance an account of
the meeting, with the names of the speakers very thinly disguised, and
with parodies of the speeches they were expected to deliver. The plot
was hatched in the Secretariat. Though I was _pars exigua_, the account
was mainly written by Mr. Bayne. The secret was never disclosed, and
the incident has no doubt long ago been forgotten. At the time our
_jeu d’esprit_ had a _succès fou_. This we knew by the wealth of abuse
heaped on our unknown heads by correspondents of the rival newspaper,
the _Rangoon Times_. Further ill-luck attended the meeting. Just before
it opened, news came that a compromise had been effected, and that
substantial modifications were to be made in the Bill. The meeting was
held, and speeches, much as we had foretold, were delivered, but as the
measure was already dead the demonstration fell rather flat.

For two or three months in 1884 I acted as Revenue Secretary and
Director of Agriculture. In that capacity I signed and issued the first
of the annual forecasts of the exportable surplus of the rice-crop.
Candour compels me to confess that the signature was all that I
contributed to this or any later forecast. For the first Mr. Bernard
was entirely responsible. With some misgiving he raised the figure to
975,000 tons. These forecasts have been issued year by year ever since,
and on the average have been so close to the actuals as to evoke the
expressed admiration of the mercantile community. The latest forecast
predicted a surplus of over 2,600,000 tons, a remarkable increase in
less than thirty years.

By another stroke of luck I acted as Secretary for three months early
in 1885 in place of Mr. Symes on privilege leave. Later in the year,
owing to Mr. Burgess’s return for a short time to the Secretariat, I
had my last experience of subdivisional work. My̆anaung, just above
the Delta, but not in the dry tract, was one of the most charming
subdivisions. The Deputy-Commissioner, Mr. A. M. B. Irwin,[69] was most
able and genial, an admirable chief whose knowledge of district work
has never been surpassed. These months were pleasant and restful after
the somewhat strenuous life of the Secretariat. The duties were light,
the house comfortable, the riding good. Now a railway runs through the
subdivision, but till recently all travelling was by unmetalled roads,
jungle paths, and along the embankment which restrained the river. Two
township officers, one at Kanaung, one at Kyangin, shared the ordinary
work.

Among the reforms introduced by Mr. Bernard was the selection of a
certain proportion of My̆o-ôks by competitive examination. My̆o-ôks, it
will be remembered, are officers, generally natives of the Province,
who have charge of townships. Previously they had been appointed by
Government solely on the recommendation of Commissioners and other
high officers. Mr. Bernard devised a system combining nomination and
competition. But a great many direct appointments were still made. The
system is still in force except that recently I threw the competitive
examination open to all young men of good health and character. On the
whole the plan has worked well. A great many of the My̆o-ôks appointed
after examination have proved themselves very valuable officers. I
agree that many of our best My̆o-ôks and Extra Assistant Commissioners
have been men of character and integrity, well educated in their own
language, but hardly likely to secure appointments by open competition.
No one appreciates these men more highly than I do. But the scheme
of administration becomes yearly more complex. And in an increasing
number of offices a good knowledge of English is essential. By the
competitive system, if a high standard is maintained, some of the best
among the educated youth are attracted to Government service, while
the reservation of a number of posts for direct appointment keeps
open the door for those who are distinguished by birth and character
rather than by academic aptitude. The objection that under the open
competitive system we have no guarantee of candidates’ social standing
has very little weight in Burma. It is a country where fraternity and
equality are realities, where class distinctions are of little value.
One of my My̆o-ôks was of the old school. Formerly a pleader, he had
earned his appointment by being instrumental in the capture of the
Myingun Prince.[70] The other was a competitioner, and not perhaps
a good example of my thesis. A man of good education who had been
a schoolmaster, he seems to have missed his vocation by becoming a
Judge and magistrate. His wife, a clever bustling woman, was thought
to supply some of her husband’s deficiencies. It was said, probably
untruly, that on occasion she would come into Court and stir up the
peons[71] and punka-pullers. The My̆o-ôk’s house was a pleasant place
to visit. He had two charming little daughters of tender years, who,
in a most engaging way, used to stand up and recite to visitors “Lord
Ullin’s Daughter,” and other English verses. My friend afterwards
resumed his original profession, which no doubt suited him better. His
son is an officer of great ability and distinction.

Recalling my quiet life at My̆anaung, I am reminded of some instances
of Burmese superstition. Some fishermen of that place before starting
work made the customary offerings to nats. One of them placed his
offering of rice in a dish from which the dogs were fed. His companions
exclaimed at this impious act and warned him of the consequences.
That day, when they were all in their boats, a monstrous crocodile
appeared. “See,” said the fishermen, “the result of your wickedness.”
The offender took no heed of the warning, but next day repeated his
insult to the nats. So he filled the cup of his iniquity. That morning,
in the midst of the fishing, the crocodile again appeared. This time
the contemner of nats was knocked out of his boat and perished in the
waters.

Burmans are firm believers in ghosts, know well the danger of passing
graveyards after dark, and are convinced of the existence of good and
evil spirits. I remember one curious case in which superstitious terror
had a lamentable issue. In the middle of the rains a man was cutting
grass in a field. The rain pattered noisily on his kamauk.[72] Suddenly
he heard close behind him what sounded like an unearthly voice. In a
panic he turned hastily and made a cut with his sickle-shaped knife,
unhappily with fatal effect. The speaker was a harmless villager, whose
voice, by evil chance, was singularly gruff. In a moment, recognizing
the catastrophe, the grass-cutter gave his best attention to the victim
of his fear, but in vain. The police quaintly reported that the man
had cut in the direction of the sound, “thinking it was a devil, but
admitted that he was mistaken.” I am glad to say that we were not so
pedantic as to bring the grass-cutter to trial for his misadventure
which he sincerely regretted.



CHAPTER VII

THE TAKING OF MANDALAY


Mr. Burgess having gone to act as Commissioner, I was recalled to the
Secretariat in some haste, in my former capacity as Junior Secretary.
It was in the midst of the excitement of a probable rupture with Upper
Burma. Our relations with the Court of Mandalay had long ceased to be
cordial. So long ago as 1879 our representative had been withdrawn,
and such communications as were necessary with the Burmese Government
had been conducted by letter. In the absence of the Resident matters
gradually drifted from bad to worse. British subjects, travellers
and traders from Lower Burma, were subjected to insult and violence
by local officials, and representations to the central authority
demanding redress were generally fruitless. In contravention of the
express terms of the Treaty of 1867, monopolies were created to
the detriment of trade both in Upper and Lower Burma. Owing to the
weakness and corruption of the Burmese Government, society became
thoroughly disorganized, so that turbulent tracts on the frontier
became a standing menace to the peace of our districts. At the same
time, the Burmese Government showed a marked and persistent anxiety
to enter into alliances with foreign Powers, in such a manner and to
such an extent as to give ground for apprehension that grave political
trouble might result. While the Indian Government was unrepresented in
Mandalay, representatives of France and Italy were welcomed, and two
separate embassies were sent to Europe, one under the guise of a merely
commercial mission, for the purpose of contracting new and if possible
close alliances with European Powers. Neither of these missions visited
England or showed any desire to win the friendship of representatives
of the British Government at the Courts to which the Burmese envoys
were accredited. Throughout the reign of King Mindôn, young scions of
families of leading men about the Court were sent to England, France,
and Italy to study the language and manners of European countries. In
the reign of his successor this policy was continued, with the studied
omission of England.[73]

Having no Resident, we had to find means of keeping ourselves informed
of events in Mandalay. One of our correspondents was Mr. A. E.
Rawlings, the Postmaster, who for a moderate subsidy wrote periodical
news-letters to the Secretary. He sent much useful and interesting
matter. There was also another correspondent whose reports were
extraordinarily accurate and instructive, and from whose keen vision no
secret transaction was hidden.

It has always seemed to me that the proximate cause of the annexation
of Upper Burma was the patriotic and enlightened Minister known as
the Kinwun Mingyi. Some years before, this gentleman had travelled
in Europe as head of a commercial mission, and had been received
with great distinction. His progress was a triumph; insignia of
Continental orders, illuminated addresses of English manufacturing
towns, were showered upon him as if he had been Minister of the Great
Mogul. To us who realize the insignificance of the King of Burma as
a potentate, these proceedings savour of the ridiculous. During this
visit the Kinwun Mingyi obtained some superficial knowledge of European
politics and of the relations between the Great Powers. Many years
later, when there was no longer a British Resident at Mandalay, and
when the path seemed clear of obstacles, the Mingyi conceived the
ingenious plan of contracting political relations and making treaties
with several States, such as France, Germany, and Italy. The subtle
intention was to play off one against another, so that, while none
would have predominant influence, all would be interested in opposing
and thwarting the ambitious designs of Great Britain. There was some
statesmanship in the project, but not quite enough; and with the best
intentions the Mingyi compassed the downfall of the dynasty of which he
was a devoted servant. By the autumn of 1885 negotiations with France
had made good progress. A French Consul was appointed to Mandalay, and
plans for the foundation of a French bank were initiated. A treaty was
provisionally concluded, though never formally ratified. The ostensible
cause of the rupture with the Burmese Court was the imposition of
an enormous fine on the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation, a British
company carrying on extensive operations in Upper Burma forests.
Probably in any case the British Government would have intervened, on
account of the treatment received by the Corporation. But the ultimate
cause of intervention was the apprehension lest France or some other
European Power should establish a preponderant influence in Upper
Burma, and create a situation which would render our position in Lower
Burma intolerable.

When I got back to Rangoon, the preliminary correspondence with India
and Mandalay was starting. It was all desperately urgent and deadly
secret, and the Chief Commissioner and his Secretary were more than
fully occupied. The Burmese answer to our first representation was
deliberately curt and discourteous. Under the orders of the Government
of India an ultimatum was therefore sent to the King of Burma. He
was required to suspend the execution of the decree against the
Corporation, to receive at Mandalay an envoy from the Viceroy with
a view to the settlement of the matter in issue, and for the future
to permit the residence at the capital of an agent of the Indian
Government, who should be received and treated with the respect due
to the Government which he represented. It was further intimated that
the Burmese Government would be required to regulate its external
relations in accordance with advice of the Government of India, and to
afford facilities for opening up British trade with China.[74]

The ultimatum was despatched on the 22nd of October, 1885. It was taken
by Captain Cooper, of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, on the steamer
_Ashley Eden_, which went specially to Mandalay for the purpose. An
answer was required by the 10th of November. In default of receiving a
reply Captain Cooper was instructed to leave Mandalay on a fixed date.
The mission was of a hazardous nature. Captain Cooper discharged it
with intrepidity and skill. He remained with his steamer fires banked,
and he returned bearing the haughty and uncompromising answer of the
Burmese Government. As he passed down the river he ran the gauntlet
of the fire of forts on the bank. Such was the Burmese notion of the
courtesy due to envoys. The answer was received in Rangoon on the 9th
of November. Two days earlier the King of Burma issued a proclamation
calling on his subjects to rally round him to resist the unjust demands
of the British Government, and expressing his determination to efface
these heretic foreigners and conquer and annex their country.[75]

When the ultimatum was considered by the Burmese Court and Government,
there seems to have been a division of counsel. The two highest
officers of State were two Mingyis, the virtuous and temperate Kinwun,
the corrupt and blood-thirsty Taingda. The Queen, Sûpăya-lât, was
certainly present when the situation was discussed. The Kinwun advised
moderation and diplomacy; the Taingda was for blood and fury. The
Queen’s voice was for resistance. She had the unexampled impertinence
to tell the Kinwun Mingyi, a man of mature and reverend years, her
father’s trusted Councillor, that when she had beaten the English she
would dress him in a tamein[76] and send him to live among the women.
The counsels of unreason prevailed. The proclamation was issued, and
futile resistance was undertaken.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of an unfavourable reply to the ultimatum,
preparations for the advance on Mandalay had been rapidly made. The
speed with which the expedition was organized and set in motion was
almost incredible. The first orders for the mobilization of troops
were issued by Government of India on or about the 19th of October;
the expeditionary force crossed the frontier on the 14th of November,
1885. The force was of all arms, including some Madras Cavalry and
some mounted infantry. Except the detachment of the Rangoon Volunteer
Rifles, which patriotically volunteered for active service, all the
troops were sent from India. For the promptitude of the despatch from
Rangoon, the chief credit is due to Mr. Bernard himself, who placed
all the resources of his position and all his personal energy and
experience at the disposal of the military authorities. Every day saw
him on the river-bank supervising and urging on the preparations.
Much praise is due also to the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, which
made every vessel of their fleet available and carried the whole
expedition. Of course, this was not all pure patriotism on the part
of the Company; but the service rendered by them was of inestimable
value, and contributed largely to the brilliant success of the
operations. The command of the force was entrusted to Major-General
Harry Prendergast, V.C.,[77] a most gallant and distinguished officer,
who had already served in Burma, and was thus specially qualified for
the appointment. Already, in the pursuit of intelligence, he had even
penetrated into Upper Burma in peaceful guise. In command of brigades
were Brigadier-General G. S. White, V.C.,[78] Brigadier-General Norman,
and Brigadier-General Forde; while the staff included Major W. P.
Symons,[79] then at the beginning of a glorious career. The troops were
specially enjoined to treat the people of the country with kindness
and consideration. One precept directed that in addressing a Burman
the soldier should say “Kinbya,” not “Hey, Johnny!” A book of Burmese
phrases, laboriously compiled by a gentleman unacquainted with the
language, was profusely distributed. It is pleasant to be able to
record, with perfect honesty, that never did army of occupation behave
with more restraint and moderation, or more readily win the esteem and
respect of a subject people.

The Chief Civil and Political Officer with the expedition was Colonel
E. B. Sladen[80] of the Burma Commission. Four young officers Mr.
R. Phayre, C.S.,[81] Mr. A. S. Fleming, C.S., Captain G. S. Eyre,
of the Commission, and Mr. G. G. Collins accompanied the force as
civil officers. Mr. R. C. Stevenson, also of the police, one of the
foremost Burmese scholars, was attached to General Prendergast as chief
interpreter.

On the 14th November the frontier was crossed, on the 17th Minhla,
on the 23rd Pagan, on the 25th Myingyan were successively occupied.
Except at Minhla, where the fort which still stands on the river-bank
was not taken without a brisk fight, scarcely any resistance was
encountered. And as the flotilla moved up the river, even in Mandalay
the determination to resist began to fail. Just before the expedition
reached Ava the Kinwun Mingyi arrived, and after some negotiation
arranged the unconditional surrender of the capital and of the Royal
Family. On the 26th and 27th November the forts at Ava and Sagaing
were given up, and the troops at Ava laid down their arms. On the
28th the flotilla moored off the town, and General Prendergast
occupied Mandalay. The city and the palace were surrounded, while
Colonel Sladen, with the cool courage which was his best distinction,
entered the palace alone, and remained there for a day and a night,
settling the details of the King’s surrender. Next day, in a little
summer-house in the palace garden, King Thebaw gave himself up to the
victorious General, and the dynasty of Alaungpăyá ruled no more. After
all, it was a mushroom growth, having held sway for little more than
130 years.[82] The King and his two Queens, with their mother and her
eldest daughter, were driven through the streets of Mandalay in little
bullock-drawn carriages, the only vehicles available. They were placed
on board the steamer _Thooreah_, and conveyed to Rangoon. The flimsy
little summer-house fell into decay, and no longer exists. The tablet
which marks its site, and commemorates the most striking event in its
history, will doubtless remain as long as the British flag flies over
Mandalay.

The first report of the King’s surrender reached Rangoon in a
non-official telegram. By luck or good management we were enabled to
telegraph the tidings simultaneously to the Secretary of State, and to
save his Lordship from the shock of receiving the first intimation of
the fall of Mandalay from his morning paper. Of course, the telegraph
line was interrupted. This message came from Tha-yet-my̆o, brought
thither by the King’s steamer.

As the junior officer in the Secretariat, I was told off to board the
_Thooreah_ on her arrival. I was thus the first officer in Rangoon to
see the ex-King and his Queens. King Thebaw was in appearance a Burman
of very ordinary type. He looked neither dissipated nor cruel; nor did
he show any emotion or feeling of his melancholy position. His somewhat
heavy features were unmistakably those of the House of Alaungpăyá.
Both he and his elder sister (who died not long ago) closely resembled
the familiar picture of Mindôn Min. Queen Sūpăyá-lāt’s features were
more finely marked than is usual with Burmese ladies. She bore no
appearance of special depravity, but she certainly looked a little
shrew. The legend of Sūpăyá-lāt is that she was a monster of cruelty
and wickedness, and that she was mainly responsible for all acts of
State during her husband’s reign. From all that I heard in Mandalay,
where I had many sources of information, for the most part unfriendly
to the ex-Queen, I believe that both her wickedness and her influence
have been much exaggerated. She seems to have been of a jealous
temper, and to have checked any inclination on the part of her husband
to follow the footsteps of Mindôn Min. Doubtless it went hard with any
maid who attracted the King’s attention. On one of the golden doors of
the palace used to be shown bloodstains, marks of a little hand, signs
of the tragic end of a Princess who had incurred the Queen’s wrath.
(I am aware of the learned explanation of these marks, but the legend
is far more interesting.) Beyond this there is no credible evidence
of her cruelty, nor is it well established that she ruled the State.
Clearly she wielded some influence; but apart from the story of her
speech to the Kinwun Mingyi, the most arrogant action imputed to her
was that she used to have her meals before the King. Of course, this
was very unusual and unseemly for a Burmese woman of any class. It
hardly shows that she was paramount in the direction of the kingdom.
The royal exiles were transferred to the R.I.M.S. _Clive_, and, after
remaining for a few days in Rangoon, were taken to Madras. They were
finally transferred to Ratnagiri in the Bombay Presidency, where
King Thebaw and Sūpăyá-lāt still live. The poor little second Queen,
of whom nothing, good or bad, has ever been heard, died last year.
An irresponsible journalist lately suggested that Ratnagiri was an
unsuitable place of abode for these fallen dignitaries. It is one of
the best places that could be chosen. They and their family have been
quite healthy. As they cannot be allowed to return to Burma, they are
likely to be as contented there as elsewhere. Two of the Ministers
and a few retainers were with difficulty persuaded to accompany their
fallen master. The Ministers speedily returned to Mandalay. So did most
of the retainers after one little Chin maid had given some trouble by
running up a tree and declining to come down, because Sūpăyá-lāt, whose
temper misfortune may have sharpened, had smacked her.

The rapidity with which the conquest of the Burmese King was effected
must always be a subject of astonishment. Many times in the previous
wars Burmese soldiers had offered stout resistance, fighting fiercely
behind stockades. That the martial spirit still survived was abundantly
shown afterwards in the years of desultory fighting described in Sir
Charles Crosthwaite’s classic history of the pacification of Burma.
The truth is, the central Government was rotten at the core, corrupt
and inefficient and singularly impecunious. The balance found in the
Treasury at Mandalay was about £5,000, not a very large sum to finance
a war. There was no organized Burmese army, with captains versed in the
art of war, capable of meeting in the field disciplined troops under
trained leaders. But the main cause of the downfall of the Burmese
kingdom, with hardly a blow struck in its defence, was no doubt the
speed with which preparations for the advance were made, and the skill,
swiftness, and resolution with which General Prendergast directed the
progress to Mandalay. If a little more time had been allowed to the
Burmese, the ascent would have been more arduous, though not less
effectual. The celerity with which the operations were carried out is
probably paralleled in history only by the advance of the Balkan armies
towards Constantinople.

While opposition to the main force was feeble and faint-hearted, at the
outset of hostilities reprisals were taken on Englishmen employed in
the forests or on the river. It was, indeed, only by the humanity or
prudence of some local officials that any of these isolated Englishmen
escaped. A Thandawzin[83] was sent to deal with Bombay-Burma men on
the Chindwin. Four of them were barbarously murdered. The murderer
was Thandawzin So Bôn, who disappeared immediately. I sought him
diligently, but in vain, for nearly twenty-five years. If he still
lives, this record of his name may yet bring to him the reward of his
crime. Four other forest men were saved by the intervention of the
Wun[84] of Mingin.

Upper Burma had long been the refuge of persons who had pressing
reasons for leaving Lower Burma; in fact, as one departmental Report
said, it was a “perfect Arcadia.” Not only thieves, robbers, dacoits,
and murderers, but the bailiff who had lost at Komi the proceeds of
Court sales, the Postmaster who was short in his collections, the clerk
who had stolen witnesses’ subsistence money, all found an asylum across
the border. Demands for extradition were made, but practically never
with any effect. The Wun of Mingin was among many who felt it necessary
to take measures for their security if, as seemed likely, Upper
Burma came under British rule. Long years ago, this astute man had
been Akunwun[85] of the rich district of Rangoon or Hanthawaddy. One
morning, having packed on elephants the contents of the Treasury, some
lakhs of rupees, he fled with his plunder across the frontier. There,
with his wicked prize, he was a man of importance, obtained office,
and in process of time was placed in charge of Mingin on the Chindwin
River. Partly moved by humanity, for he was as kindly a man as ever
scooped a Treasury, partly, I surmise, because he was shrewd enough
to foresee the downfall of the Burmese Government, he protected the
Bombay-Burma men who fell into his hands, saved them from ill-usage and
death, and made them over to a small British force which early visited
the Chindwin. The Wun’s humanity was suitably rewarded. His delinquency
was condoned and he became a My̆o-ôk. Though he was believed always
to be tainted with the corrupt habits of Upper Burma, he served us
moderately well. The fact that he had saved the lives of our countrymen
was never forgotten and would have covered many sins. Finally, he died
in his bed, up to the day of his death in receipt of a pension from
Government. I knew very well both him and his wife, who had accompanied
him in his flight from Rangoon. Naturally, we did not in plain words
discuss that incident. But reference to early days was sometimes
made, and the old lady admitted that the Wun had been frivolous and
light-hearted in his youth. When I knew him, he was grave and reverend.
This is not the only instance in which persons guilty of past offences
in Lower Burma purged their guilt by good service in troubled times and
were received back into Government employ. I found it convenient to
keep in mind their histories.

Another case of the cruel treatment of Europeans was the seizure
of a Flotilla steamer at Moda, between Mandalay and Bhamo, and the
imprisonment and ill-treatment of crew and officers. Daily was Captain
Redman led out as if to execution. He, too, escaped by some friendly
intervention, or the hesitation of his captors to proceed to the last
extremity. He was, however, very badly used. The two local officers
responsible for these barbarities were brought down to Mandalay, fined
and imprisoned, and publicly whipped by the Chief Commissioner’s order.



CHAPTER VIII

EARLY DAYS AT MANDALAY


As speedily as possible, Mr. Bernard went up to Mandalay, leaving
Lower Burma practically under the administration of the Secretary, Mr.
Symes. He went up in the old R.I.M.S. _Irrawaddy_, embarking at Prome.
With him were a few civil and police officers, destined with those
who had accompanied the expedition to form the nucleus of the Civil
Administration. Colonel T. Lowndes,[86] Inspector-General of Police,
Captain C. H. E. Adamson,[87] of the Commission, Mr. G. M. S. Carter,
and Mr. M. J. Chisholm, of the Police, were on board, and I had the
luck to go as Junior Secretary. We landed at Minhla and inspected the
fort, now garrisoned by Bengal Infantry, and the scene of the fight;
at Myingyan, where we saw marks of our cannonade; at Pakôkku, where
the Chief Commissioner was received by the My̆othugyi-gadaw,[88] a
lady of large bulk, of high spirit, and of cheerful humour, who was
administering the town and district in the name of her son. The
old lady was extremely affable, and professed loyalty to the new
Government. To the best of her ability, I believe she carried out her
engagement. Her position was quite in accordance with the practice in
Burma, where, as already stated, women take a prominent part in public
affairs. She survived for some years, and was always our good friend.

On the 15th of December, 1885, Mr. Bernard arrived at Mandalay, and,
with his staff, took up his quarters in the Palace where Sir Harry
Prendergast and his officers were already installed. Mr. Bernard
occupied a set of rooms behind the Eastern Audience Hall. Colonel
Lowndes and I shook down in some good masonry buildings hard by, which
had been used as waiting-rooms by the Ministers coming to transact
business with the King. My abode was immediately under the wooden
tower in the south-east corner of the palace, whence Queen Sūpăyá-lāt
is said, the legend is apocryphal, to have viewed the march of the
British force from the shore to the city. Behind me was the shed of
the White Elephant, which had died a few days after the occupation,
feeling, no doubt, that his use was at an end. Opposite, fronted by
a pillared terrace, in the midst of which played a fountain, was
a charming pavilion faced with white stucco, of modern design and
construction, used by the King as a morning-room. Mr. Bernard adopted
it for the same purpose. We were all most kindly made honorary members
of the Headquarter Mess, established in spacious rooms adjacent to the
Royal Theatre. There, with the chief military officers, we dined every
night, and often played a quiet rubber. For breakfast and luncheon,
during his stay in Mandalay, Mr. Bernard kept open house for his staff.
Mr. Bernard’s breakfasts were refreshing interludes in the busy round
of official work. Round that hospitable board often sat welcome guests,
visitors of distinction, officers passing through Mandalay bringing a
breath of the old world to our new heritage. From time to time every
member of the Viceroy’s Council came to see the latest kingdom added to
the Empire. Perhaps the visitor who made the deepest impression was Sir
George Chesney, Military Member of Council, a man of wide culture and
literary distinction, moving on a higher plane than the ordinary Indian
official. (No offence to the ordinary official, honest man, whose stock
of late years has unjustly depreciated.) Sir George Chesney seemed
to have a wider range, a more extensive outlook; his premature death
deprived the world of a statesman. In very early days came to Mandalay,
as the Chief Commissioner’s guests, some charming Americans, among
them a lady of exceptional grace and beauty. Warned by secretaries
and aides-de-camp that she could not possibly go to Mandalay, where
conditions of war still obtained, she is said to have gone pouting to
the great Lord Sahib, by whom she was assured that she should certainly
go, and that her path should be strewn with roses. ’Twere churlish not
to believe this pretty story. My impression is that the men of the
party tried to buy the Palace as it stood, and succeeded in acquiring
a gilded sentry-box. I may wrong them.

Most strange and almost incredible it seemed to range at will the
halls and corridors, where hardly a fortnight before the Lord of many
White Elephants had kept his State. The Palace was in exactly the
same condition as when occupied by the Burmese Court. As a Burman
official said, in another place, the scene was the same, the actors
only were changed. Barbarous Byzantine mirrors of colossal size still
lined the walls; a motley heap of modern toys, French clocks and
fans, mechanical singing birds, and the like, mingled with lovely
specimens of Burmese carving, gold and silver and lacquered trays and
boxes, forming a heterogeneous collection characteristic of degenerate
taste. Rooms so lately tenanted by King, Queens, and their butterfly
attendants, aglow with light and colour, were now occupied as sober
offices and quarters. Khaki uniforms, boots, and the ringing of spurs
replaced gay pasos and tameins and soft pattering of naked feet. The
Palace, it must be confessed, was a mass of somewhat tawdry buildings,
mostly of wood and of no great antiquity, desecrated by corrugated
iron roofs, yet of interest as a unique specimen of Burmese domestic
architecture. Perhaps the most striking features were the great halls
of audience, supported by mighty pillars of teak, red and golden, the
several Royal thrones often described, and the Py̆athat, the graceful
terraced spire surmounting the eastern throne-room, which travellers
have been taught to call the Centre of the Universe. The title was
invented by an enterprising journalist, but will, no doubt, always be
cited as a mark of Burmese arrogance. Besides the rooms reserved for
the King, then occupied by Sir Harry Prendergast, the Palace afforded
accommodation for the Queens and for Ambassadors, attendants, pages,
maids of honour, and the usual entourage of an Eastern Court. For some
years the Palace continued to be inhabited. The King’s audience-hall
was used as a church; the corresponding hall on the west, the Queen’s,
as a club house. A few of the buildings on the Palace platform were of
masonry work, built for the King by some of the foreigners who swarmed
at the Burmese Court. Like the famous A-tu-ma-shi[89] monastery, these
made no pretence of being in Burmese style, and were grievous to the
æsthetic eye. In the Palace enclosure was the Council Chamber where the
Hlutdaw[90] deliberated. Opposite was a model of the Kyaung,[91] where
King Thebaw spent his novitiate. This also was for some time used as
a church. All round the Palace were charming gardens, intersected by
watercourses, with many a grotto and pavilion, where gay young Princes
and Princesses, pages and maids of honour, idled away the pleasant
hours. Girdling and protecting the Palace and its precincts was an
inner wall of masonry, and round this again a palisade of stout teak
logs. The main gates of the palace corresponded with those of the city.
Just within the eastern gate stood a white tower, the Bohozin, whereon
was a mighty drum, the Bohozi, struck by hereditary beaters to record
the hour and to assure the world that the King was in his palace.
After the occupation, the beaters fled. We were gravely warned that
the silence of the Bohozi would be interpreted as a sign that anarchy
prevailed and that there was no Government. The beaters were sought
out and reinstated. As soon as the periodical sound of the drum was
heard once more, we were solemnly advised that this would never do. The
beating of the Bohozi indicated that the _Burmese_ Government still
existed, and that we were merely temporary sojourners. So the beaters
were retired on suitable terms, and the Bohozi was sent to the Phayre
Museum. I need hardly say that it did not matter a brass farthing
whether the drum was beaten or not.

The Palace stood in the middle of what we came to call the city.
Built on somewhat high ground about three miles from the shore, the
city (myo) was a perfect square, surrounded by a rampart of earth,
battlemented walls, and a moat on which water-lilies floated in lovely
profusion. Each face of the walls measured one mile and a quarter.
Between the walls and the moat was a stretch of turf, as if expressly
provided for a morning gallop, but somewhat spoilt by sudden holes.
Five great gates, two on the west, one on each other side, opened
through the wall, each approached by a bridge over the moat. At every
gate was a red wooden pillar, with an inscription recording the date
and circumstances of its erection. Stories, which we need not believe,
are told of the burial of living victims beneath these pillars. Within
the city walls, all round the palace, the space was closely packed
with Burmese houses. Here were the dwellings of Ministers and other
high officers, each surrounded by an ample compound (win) where lived
a whole village of relations and retainers. Here also were the humbler
dwellings of minor officials, soldiers, and the miscellaneous rabble
collected about an Eastern Court.

Now all is changed. The Palace remains a melancholy memento of Burmese
sovereignty. The halls are tenantless, and the footstep of the
infrequent visitor rings hollow on its floors. A fragment of the teak
stockade is preserved. The rest is replaced by a neat post and rail
fence. All the native houses have disappeared. The space within the
walls is occupied by barracks, mess-houses, dwellings, polo-ground, and
the like. The last Burmese house, now removed, was that of the Kinwun
Mingyi.

[Illustration: THE CITY WALL, MANDALAY.]

The town, as distinguished from the city, extended to the river on the
west and to Amarapura on the south, peopled mostly by non-officials
living in wooden houses and bamboo huts, with here and there a white
masonry building, the dwelling of an Indian trader. In the midst was
the great bazaar, the Zegyo. An embankment protected the low-lying land
from the river in flood. Through the town crept the Shwe-ta-chaung, a
malodorous stream, on whose banks still stood the old British Residency
in a grove of tamarind-trees. While in the city the roads were straight
and hard, the streets of the town were unmetalled, alternately dust
and mud. The first work undertaken by the army of occupation was the
construction of four roads to the shore. With military simplicity, but
perhaps with some want of imagination, these were called A, B, C, and
D Roads, names which still cling to them. To the south was the Yakaing
Paya, commonly called the Arakan Pagoda, the shrine of the great image
of Gaudama Buddha, brought across the hills from Arakan. Second only in
interest to the Shwe Dagôn Pagoda, it attracted throngs of pilgrims.
In one of the courtyards reclined battered bronze statues of magic
virtue. If you had a pain, you rubbed the correspondent part of one of
these statues, and obtained relief. In a neighbouring pond were sacred
turtles, who came at call to be fed.

East of the city rose the Shan Hills, with the little hill of
Yankintaung[92] alone in the middle distance. The evening glow
reflected on the Eastern Hills misled the unobservant to rhapsodize on
the beautiful effect of the sun setting behind Yankintaung. North stood
Mandalay Hill, a cool and pleasant height, ascended by stone steps or
by a winding bridle-path; near its pagoda-covered summit towered a
stately upright statue of the Buddha, his right arm extended towards
the city, as it were the palladium of the capital. At the foot lay
the A-tu-ma-shi (the Incomparable Monastery), a large white masonry
structure of modern design, built by an Italian. Here sat another
colossal image of the Buddha, in whose forehead sparkled a diamond of
unequalled size and lustre.[93] Hard by stood the Ku-tho-daw Păya,[94]
surrounded by a multitude of small shrines covering alabaster slabs, on
which was inscribed the Law of the Buddha. This pious work commemorated
its founder, the Einshemin, Mindôn Min’s brother, who lost his life
in the rebellion of the Myingun Mintha in 1867. Gone now are the
Incomparable Monastery and the statue on the hill, both accidentally
destroyed by fire some years later.

In December, 1885, the situation in Mandalay, and, indeed, in Upper
Burma generally, was very curious. Sir Harry Prendergast was in supreme
military command. Colonel Sladen was the chief civil authority. The
future of Upper Burma was still under discussion between the Chief
Commissioner, the Government of India, and the Secretary of State
(Lord Randolph Churchill). It might be decided to annex the country,
or it might be thought better to set up a new King, and to make Upper
Burma a protected State. Pending the decision, an attempt was made
provisionally to carry on the Government on the same lines as before
the occupation. Although the King of Burma was an absolute, not a
constitutional, monarch, there was a Council of State (the Hlutdaw), an
advisory and executive body with no legislative powers. It consisted
of the Wungyis, or Mingyis, the four highest officers of State;
four Atwin Wuns, high officers of the Palace; and four Wundauks,
props or assistants of the Wungyis. Under their orders was a crowd of
secretaries or clerks (Sayedawgyi). The country was governed by Wuns,
each of whom administered a local area, and received orders from the
Hlutdaw collectively, or from individual members thereof. Mandalay was
in charge of two Myowuns (town magistrates), the Myowun U Pe Si,[95]
and the Shwehlan Myowun. Temporarily, the Hlutdaw was maintained in
its powers and functions, the place of the King being taken by Colonel
Sladen. There was one important innovation. Over all was the Chief
Commissioner. The Hlutdaw issued a proclamation to all Wuns and local
officers, directing them to carry on their duties as before under
the command of the Central Government. British officers in charge of
districts Captain Eyre at Pagan, Mr. Robert Phayre at Minhla, Mr.
Collins at Myingyan, Mr. Fleming at Shwebo were not subordinated to the
control of the Hlutdaw. Mandalay also was removed from their control.
At first Mr. Fforde[96] as District Superintendent of Police, then
Captain Adamson as Deputy Commissioner, with Mr. Fforde as his chief
aid, were in charge. These officers received most valuable help from
U Pe Si, who threw in his lot with the new Government, and served it
loyally and well for the rest of his life. U Pe Si was one of the most
interesting characters of the annexation period. Of an established
official family, his grandfather having been one of the signatories of
the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826, he was a man of courage and resource,
well fitted to be the colleague of British officers. His knowledge
of Mandalay and the surrounding district was intimate and extensive.
His mind was acute and his judgment sound. At sixty, so old and frail
in appearance that he was once introduced to a high officer as “the
Yenangyaung Mingyi over ninety years of age,” that fragile frame was
informed with dauntless will and resolution. He maintained the closest
relations with a succession of Deputy Commissioners and Commissioners
of Mandalay. His practice was to drop in to breakfast and consume vast
quantities of jam, to the detriment of his poor digestion, as an aid to
the delivery of wise discourse on men and things. Without him the task
of governing Mandalay, difficult at the best, would have been still
more arduous.

Our early sway was of a patriarchal type. The theory that the penalty
should be made to fit the offence was adopted by an ingenious
magistrate who knew his Burman. An instance recurs to me worthy of
Shahpesh, the Persian. Some gamblers were brought up for judgment.

“So you like cards. Will you play a game with me?” said the magistrate
genially. “Please draw three cards.”

Two aces and a two were shown.

“What a lucky man! Take four stripes.”

The next man drew two kings and a five.

“Your luck is not so good. Receive twenty-five stripes.”

And so on, to the delight of the public, and, we may hope, of the
players. Another accused in the same case, hung about with cards and
dice and other instruments of gaming, was paraded through the streets
with his face to the tail of the pony on which he sat.

Colonel Sladen had the royal temperament, and was prepared to set right
all the wrongs done by his predecessor. In pursuance of this policy he
restored to the Yenangyaung Mingyi and the Pintha Mintha respectively
all their property which had been confiscated by the King. As soon
as these orders came to his notice, Mr. Bernard imperatively forbade
any further similar restitutions, rightly holding it impossible to
investigate the acts of the Burmese Government in exercise of its
sovereign powers. The Yenangyaung Mingyi, then verging on ninety,
was a valued Minister of King Mindôn, and had been wounded in the
Myingun Prince’s rebellion. On that occasion, as I heard from the lips
of an eyewitness, King Mindôn was attacked by his disloyal son in a
summer palace near Mandalay Hill, and escaped borne on the back of
a faithful attendant. The Mingyi had fallen into disgrace with King
Thebaw, doubtless because he was father of the Kyimyin Mipaya,[97]
one of Mindôn Min’s lesser wives, who had borne the King a son, the
Pyinmana Mintha.[98] In the massacre of 1879 this child’s life was
spared, probably on account of his extreme youth; but he and his mother
and her family all remained objects of suspicion, and were kept in
confinement by the Burmese Government. Soon after our arrival the boy
was discovered, and sent to India and educated at an English school.
After 1905 he returned to Burma and settled in Rangoon, where he still
lives on excellent terms with our officers. Restored to favour and
fortune, the Mingyi often came to see me, walking sturdily in spite of
his years, and usually accompanied by two small sons of about eight
or nine. The Pintha Mintha was the brother of Yanaung Maung Tôk,[99]
already mentioned as the roystering companion of King Thebaw. These two
titular Princes were sons of another Yenangyaung Mingyi, of romantic
history. Sprung from humble stock, as a small boy he attracted the
notice of a Princess. She adopted and educated him, and made him one
of the royal pages. Conspicuous for grace and courtesy of manner,
and, probably also for ability, he went on from rank to rank till he
became successively Atwin Wun, and, on his death-bed, Mingyi. Though
not of royal blood, his sons were given the title of Mintha, as it
might be Prince Bismarck or Prince von Bülow. Yanaung Maung Tôk had
the repute of being a blustering, truculent ruffian. If that was so,
Pintha Maung Byaung alone inherited his father’s gracious qualities. I
knew him well. A pleasanter, more courteous, more polished gentleman
could not be found. His wife, who, I regret to say, died last year,
was of a good official family, and a lady of exceptional charm. Their
sons are doing well in Government service. Their daughters, delightful
young girls in their early teens, glittering with diamonds and rubies,
created a sensation at the celebration of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in
1887. All three married well, but only one survives, the happy wife of
a very distinguished Burmese officer.

It was natural that for some time after the occupation there should
be much confusion. But at the very outset means might have been taken
for the preservation of the State Records; instead of which, in the
time-honoured phrase, soldiers were allowed to play havoc with these
documents; many of them were burnt, many more were torn and spoilt.
The loss was irreparable. Immediately after the Chief Commissioner’s
arrival further destruction was stopped, and the surviving records were
collected and deposited in the Council Chamber. Much of interest was
thus preserved, but many State papers of priceless value, historically
and administratively, were irretrievably lost.

The Burmese of Mandalay did not in the least recognize that they
had been conquered. They were as free and easy and unconcerned and
bumptious as if the King was still seated on the throne. The first
task set me in Mandalay, the day after our arrival, was to find a
Mohammedan doctor who was believed to have arrived lately from Bhamo.
This was literally all the direction or clue given to aid me in a
search among nearly 200,000 strange people. Not even the man’s name was
known. Colonel Sladen kindly placed at my disposal a small Burmese
official, and as we rode out of the South Gate my companion was hailed
by a friend and asked where he was going with the young barbarian
(kala). My Burmese was fluent and vigorous. However, though I liked
not the manners of his friend, my man was an intelligent, willing
fellow, and before the winter sun had set we found and brought back the
object of our mission. Later on, when much distress had been caused
by fires, incendiary and accidental, the Burmans of Mandalay grew
rather sulky. But nothing cured them of their _insouciance_. When fires
were destroying their dwellings, they looked on quite calmly without
offering to lend a hand, while British officers took extreme risks to
save life and property in burning houses.

“There is a very valuable box in that house” (in a blaze). “Would
you mind bringing it out for me?” I heard a Burman say to a British
officer, who complied with the cool request.

At this time we were almost completely cut off from Lower Burma and
Rangoon. The telegraph line was interrupted, while letters came slowly
by steamer once a week. Postal arrangements were necessarily of a
primitive kind. The post-office was a flat, or barge, high and dry
on the river-bank. When a steamer came from Rangoon, the mail-bags
were opened and their contents cast on the deck of the flat. We who
had hastened down on hearing of the steamer’s approach were allowed,
even invited, to search the pile and take what belonged to us. In
spite of this apparently hazardous procedure, I heard of no letters
going astray. I quarrelled quite seriously with a high officer of the
post-office because I said in his hearing, incautiously and, I confess,
unjustly, that I was sending letters to Rangoon by messenger rather
than trust them to the post. For some months, if not years, we were
unfriends; but I am glad to say that, in the course of time, we were
reconciled.

[Illustration: ROW OF BUDDHAS.]

[Illustration: RELEASING A TURTLE; A WORK OF MERIT.]

I was soon taken from Secretariat work and sent as civil officer with a
column. A detachment of Madras Cavalry without support had been sent to
repair the telegraph line between Ava and Myingyan. They had met with
resistance and been forced to return. The task was then entrusted to an
adequate force. Two guns, British infantry, Madras Cavalry, and Madras
Pioneers were placed under the command of Major Fenwick, I.S.C. Captain
R. A. P. Clements[100] was staff officer; Mr. H. d’U. Keary[101] and
Mr. Rainey[102] were of our party. At Ava, where we halted before
starting on our march, Maung Hlwa, the local Wun, came in and made his
submission, among the first-fruits of Burmese loyalty in that part of
the country. Maung Hlwa, I am glad to say, still survives and draws
his pension. He was an official of the good old Upper Burman type. Not
over-educated, without very delicate scruples, of proved courage, with
boundless personal influence (awza), wherever he was sent he was a
loyal and useful servant of Government. No better man than he to bring
a troublesome township into order. He was one of the Burmese officers
who went to the Coronation Durbar at Delhi in 1903, where he was deeply
impressed by the pomp and splendour of the occasion. On this march he
was of the utmost service, though I am not quite sure that he did not
take advantage of the opportunity to pay off some old scores. So quiet
seemed the country and so little did we expect attack that I used to
ride for miles along the river-bank and through the jungle at Ava with
no other companion but Maung Hlwa. Yet within a month, at Sagaing on
the opposite bank, four officers were attacked within sight of the
Government steamer _Irrawaddy_, and three of their number slain by
dacoits who issued from ambush, cut down their victims, and disappeared
before the rest of the party, walking not a couple of hundred yards
behind, were aware of what had happened. The fall of Mandalay had been
so sudden that it had not yet been realized in rural places, and the
forces of opposition had not yet been organized. Very soon the turmoil
began. It was then long before officers were able to travel without
escort in Upper Burma.

This was one of the first daurs, or small expeditions, undertaken.
Keeping close to the telegraph line which it was our primary duty to
restore to working order, we marched through the midst of the Ava
subdivision. In fine open country we rode daily over sessamum fields
or through tall growths of millet, making our first acquaintance with
the land where so much of our lives was to be spent. The climate was
cool and pleasant, so that we were able to march far into the morning.
At the village where the cavalry had been routed we were so hospitably
received that, to the best of my recollection, no punishment for past
misdeeds was inflicted. We were particularly touched to find here two
Madrasi sayces,[103] cavalry followers who had been missing since the
engagement, and who had, in fact, been wounded and disabled. They had
been plastered and nursed by the villagers, and were restored to us
none the worse for their adventure. Not much farther on we found a
crucified man falling to pieces after long exposure to sun and wind. I
believe it was customary to kill the victim before affixing his body to
a St. Andrew’s cross. In early days, after a successful skirmish with
dacoits, a Burman assistant approached the civil officer, saying as a
matter of course: “I suppose it is time now to crucify the prisoners!”
Incidents like these illustrate the charming inconsistency of the
Burmese character already noted.

Later on in our march we were resisted at two villages and had two
little fights without, I think, any casualties on our side. After
all the people had been cleared out, the first village was burnt for
reasons of military necessity. Rightly enough, the burning of villages
has always been discouraged, indeed, strictly forbidden, save as an
extreme measure or for military reasons. But, when occasion arises, it
is very interesting to put a match to a thatched roof and see it blaze
to the sky. The second village had to be shelled. Clements and I,
who had ridden round to examine one of the farther approaches, found
ourselves in the unpleasant position of being shelled by our own side.
There I saw an instance of the stoical resolution with which Burmans
meet death. A man torn to pieces by a shell asked only for an umbrella
to shield him from the sun and a cheroot to smoke while he awaited the
end. Both were supplied while our surgeon afforded such relief as might
be. Here is another inconsistency. By a shout and the explosion of a
cracker, a band of dacoits[104] will put to flight all the men of a
village, who stampede, leaving the women and children at the mercy of
the assailants. Dacoits themselves go to work with trembling knees and
hearts of water, ready to fly at the first sign of resistance. Yet men
of the same race and class face a firing party with a smile or walk to
the gallows with unfaltering step. Once, at a military execution, some
half a dozen dacoits were put up, one by one, against the city wall to
be shot. The first man had the top of his head blown off by the volley.
His companions awaiting their turn burst into a laugh at his grotesque
appearance.

A day or two after Christmas we halted at My̆otha in the middle of the
Ava subdivision and there held the first gymkhana in the jungle of
Upper Burma. Pony races and other sporting events for officers and men
and for local Burmans made up the programme. It was a characteristic
episode. The people of My̆otha were very friendly and joined with
enthusiasm in the proceedings. Here I confirmed in his office the
My̆othugyi.[105] I am told that he still holds the appointment. After
leaving My̆otha, we had our third and last encounter with dacoits.
Captain Clements and Mr. Rainey took a few sowárs[106] to escort a
telegraph working-party a few miles from our camp. So unexciting
seemed the prospect that the rest of us stayed behind. Some of us
walked unattended to a neighbouring village and sat for a long time
talking with the headman and his people. The working-party and the
escort were met by a hostile line of Burmans armed with muskets.
Followed by the sowárs, the officers charged and routed the enemy,
but Clements fell with two holes in his chest. No wonder the surgeon
looked grave. A bullet in each lung, God shield us, is a most dreadful
thing. However, a fortnight afterwards I found Clements quite active
at mess at Tha-yet-my̆o. I infer that his pony swerved at the volley
and that the two holes were made by the same bullet. In Burma Clements
got another wound and two brevets. He served with great distinction
in South Africa, and after passing through many campaigns was cut off
by appendicitis at Quetta in the midst of a brilliant career. A fine
officer, a perfect horseman, with a frame of iron, even in youth he
gave promise of future eminence.

Another unfortunate incident was an outbreak of cholera in our camp,
which brought us to a halt for some days and cost valuable lives.
A stalwart young sergeant of gunners was specially regretted. A
halt on account of cholera is one of the most gloomy and depressing
experiences, particularly for the men. It was with somewhat chastened
feelings that we marched into Myingyan. Our one consolation was that
we had accomplished our purpose and reopened telegraphic communication
with Rangoon.

Meanwhile the Kinwun Mingyi, who had gone with the ex-King, had
returned to Mandalay, and the Taingda Mingyi, the evil genius of the
dynasty, had been sent to Hazaribagh. Mr. Bernard was convinced of
the Taingda Mingyi’s active disloyalty. It was notorious that, in the
King’s time, he fomented disorder and shared the spoils of dacoity.
There were reasonable grounds for believing that he continued these
practices and that his power was exerted against the Government. To
retain this man in a leading position on Colonel Sladen’s Council, or
even to allow him to stay in Burma, deprived of office, in a private
station, was fraught with grave risk. In Mandalay his influence was
supreme. His speedy removal without previous warning seemed clearly
desirable. This was dramatically effected. As the Mingyi sat in the
midst of the Hlutdaw, Mr. Pilcher entered and summoned him to the Chief
Commissioner’s presence. Arriving there, he was told that he was to be
sent to India. His request for permission to go to his house before
leaving was refused. Seated with Mr. Pilcher in a bullock-carriage, he
was driven to the shore. As he passed out of the West, the Traitors’,
Gate, there was a block, and the carriage halted. “Is this where you
are going to kill me?” asked the old man. Under the provisions of
the beneficent Regulation III. of 1818, the Mingyi was detained for
several years. Long after the country had been at peace, he was allowed
to return and end his days in Burma in receipt of an allowance from
Government. He was a man of much force of character, comparatively
uneducated, and, unless his face and common fame belied him, of harsh
and cruel nature. That protruding under-lip and that glance, stern even
in old age, were signs of a fiery and turbulent soul. After his return
he did no harm, and, having lost his wealth in foolish speculations,
he died a poor man. I helped to get a small pension for his widow, an
innocent old lady, who was, I believe, sincerely grateful. The pension
was granted as an act of grace, not out of respect for the Mingyi’s
memory.

About this time I went on one more little daur, perhaps hardly worth
mentioning. Dacoits were entrenched in the Kaung-hmu-daw Pagoda,
not very far from Sagaing. A column, with Colonel Lowndes as civil
officer, was sent against them. Another column, which I accompanied,
started at the same time and went up the river. We were to hold a
defile in the hills and cut off the retreat of the dacoits dislodged
from Kaung-hmu-daw. The arrival of the main body at Sagaing was marked
by the lamentable incident already narrated.[107] Next morning,
as arranged, the pagoda was attacked and the defenders driven out.
The rest of the plan miscarried. Our intelligence was grievously at
fault. The only pass in the hills, we found, ran from east to west.
Through it we marched at the mercy of any hostile force which might be
crowning the heights. Emerging scathless from this gorge, as no one
took advantage of so fair a chance, we reached a wide champaign over
which an army corps might have scattered without coming near us. That
Sunday morning we had a pleasant picnic on a breezy down, and towards
nightfall we marched back, having seen no one worse than ourselves.



CHAPTER IX

LORD DUFFERIN’S VISIT: MANDALAY ONCE MORE


Early in 1886 Mr. Bernard returned to Rangoon. As I was not in Lower
Burma for any length of time from December, 1885, to March, 1887, it
does not fall within the scope of this book to attempt a description
of events in that part of the Province in the months following
the occupation of Mandalay. It was a time of stress and anxiety.
Insurrections, excited no doubt by emissaries from the Burmese Court
and headed in more than one case by monks, broke out all over the
country. For a time Lower Burma was a seething mass of disorder. With
inadequate military and police forces, Commissioners and district
officers bravely faced the situation, and by strenuous efforts
suppressed rebellion and gradually restored peace. In the early months,
in the Chief Commissioner’s absence from Rangoon, the general direction
of operations was in the hands of Mr. Symes, then an officer of ten
years’ service. With what nerve, resolution, and judgment he discharged
this great responsibility only those who served in Lower Burma at that
time can properly appreciate. No one could have done better and more
valuable work in a very serious crisis. Those early months showed Mr.
Symes to be an administrator of the highest class, and won for him the
reputation which he enjoyed to the day of his lamented death.

At the beginning of 1886 Lord Dufferin came to study on the spot the
problem of Upper Burma and practically to decide its destiny. At
the same time came Sir Frederick Roberts, then Commander-in-Chief
in India. With the Viceroy were Mr. Durand,[108] Foreign Secretary;
Mr. Mackenzie,[109] Home Secretary; Mr. Mackenzie Wallace,[110]
Private Secretary; and Lord William Beresford, Military Secretary,
a galaxy of talent. Lord Clandeboye, afterwards Earl of Ava, in the
flower of his youth and beauty, was among the aides-de-camp. Sir
Frederick Roberts’s staff was hardly less brilliant. It included
Major W. G. Nicholson,[111] Major Ian Hamilton,[112] Captain Neville
Chamberlain,[113] and Colonel Pole-Carew.[114] Besides being the
best-known man of his time in India, Beresford was probably the best
Military Secretary in history. He was thoroughly conversant with every
detail of his office. Equally at home in the direction of a Durbar or
the management of a social gathering, with singular charm of manner,
he had the delightful gift of being all things to all men. At a garden
party he might be seen in close converse with a pillar of the Church,
or hanging on the lips of an American Missionary, as if this idyllic
communion was the one thing for which he lived. After this visit, the
Bishop of Rangoon confided his opinion to a friend: “I am glad to
see that the tone of the Viceregal Court is so good. Do you know? I
think this high standard is in a great measure due to the influence of
Beresford.” In Rangoon the usual festivities were held. At a ball I
was deputed to interpret between His Excellency and Burmese ladies and
gentlemen. Lord Dufferin’s embroidered compliments, addressed to some
fair ladies, severely taxed my homespun vernacular.

After a short stay in Rangoon Lord Dufferin and Sir Frederick Roberts
went up to Mandalay in the steamer _Mindoon_, fitted out and placed
at the Viceroy’s disposal by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. Stopping
at various places on the way, the Viceroy made the acquaintance of
the local military and civil officers. The visit to Mandalay was an
unqualified success. Their Excellencies, for Lady Dufferin lent her
gracious presence to the occasion, were welcomed by the military and
civil officers and all the Burmese notables. They were installed in
the finest rooms in the Palace, visited all scenes of interest in the
town and city, and received the members of the royal house and the most
eminent Burmese officers and their families. On the eastern terrace of
the Palace the Viceroy held a levée, the first and only instance of
that ceremony being held in the Nandaw.[115] Just before his departure,
in a mandat[116] erected on the shore, he addressed a meeting of
Burmese Ministers and high officials. His speech was interpreted by an
Extra Assistant Commissioner, Maung Pyi. Failing to catch one sentence,
the interpreter vainly tried to induce his Excellency to repeat it.
Nothing daunted, Maung Pyi, with perfect assurance, evolved and uttered
an elaborate sentence of his own. The incident passed unnoticed. Lord
Dufferin’s name will always be associated with Upper Burma. From Ava
he took one of his titles, and he acceded to the request that the
cantonment of Mandalay, embracing the city as well as an area without
the walls, should bear his name.

On the voyage and after his arrival in Mandalay the Viceroy and his
advisers conferred with Mr. Bernard concerning the future of the newly
acquired dominion. With the sanction of the Secretary of State, his
Excellency, at a dinner given on the eve of his departure, announced
the decision that the country was to be administered as part of
British India. It was on this occasion, and by Mr. Bernard, that the
familiar term “annexation” was first publicly used. Then, having
accomplished the purpose of his visit, the Viceroy re-embarked for
Prome. Just opposite Pagan, whereat the state of the district did not
invite a landing, the _Mindoon_ stuck fast on a sandbank for nearly
twelve hours, a really characteristic incident on the Irrawaddy. Lord
Dufferin was not in the least disconcerted or annoyed; he professed to
be pleased to have one day’s entire rest. Towards evening the whole
party were on the point of being transferred to some small craft in
attendance, but luckily the steamer floated off in time, and this
inconvenience was avoided. The return to Rangoon was saddened by the
tidings of the death of Mr. H. L. St. Barbe, one of the most rising men
in the Province, whose very remarkable personality gave every promise
of distinction.[117] He was killed in the Bassein District, one of the
first victims of the dacoit bands which harassed Lower Burma for three
or four years.

By their charm and courtesy Lord and Lady Dufferin won all hearts,
and left the happiest impression on the people of the Province. Still
a junior officer, naturally I was not brought into close or frequent
contact with them; but on the voyage to and from Mandalay I was near
enough to come under the spell. Lord Dufferin was no doubt an admirable
Viceroy. His dignity and presence, as well as his brilliant gifts,
were specially fitted to adorn that illustrious office. He did not
condescend to detail or profess to be industrious in small things.
Industry, it has been said, is the tribute which mediocrity pays to
genius. Often, I have heard, it was difficult to induce him to attend
to matters of routine. But a really important case inspired him with
enthusiasm, and on it he shed the rays of an illuminating mind; to its
polished completion he devoted infinite pains. His visit in the early
years of his Viceroyalty was greatly to the benefit of the Province.
During the rest of his life in India his warm and friendly interest in
Burma never failed.

The annexation of Upper Burma has been criticized not only by those
who regard with disapproval every extension of the Empire. A very
distinguished officer, whose best years had been passed in Burma, and
who was familiar with both parts of the Province, suggested to me as
one grave objection that the annexation extinguished a nationality, a
thing which had not before been done in India. I have no doubt that,
especially from the point of view of the good of the Burmese race,
the annexation was an unmixed advantage. So far from extinguishing a
nationality, we reintegrated it. Up to 1885 Burma was in a state of
disunion. Part flourished under British rule; part languished under
native tyranny. Some Burmans were British subjects; some served their
own King. The conquest of Upper Burma reunited the severed fragments.
Once more Burma became a solid country, the Burmese a nation under one
undivided control; and as such it began a career of almost unexampled
prosperity. Although there are differences and distinctions between
the two sections, due to the varied course of their past history,
Burma now forms one Province, and every part shares in the fortunes
of the whole. The annexation did far more than this. It restored
peace and order to a distracted people, and secured to every man the
free enjoyment of the fruits of his labours. To all men were given the
protection of equal laws and the assurance of even-handed justice. The
grasping avarice of officials was restrained, and corrupt practices
were discountenanced. Burmans are not excluded from a due share in
the administration. To aspiring youths, promising careers have been
thrown open. The second Burman as yet enlisted in the higher branch
of the Accounts Department is an Upper Burman, the first to take the
degree of Bachelor of Arts. On those Burmans who loyally accepted the
new Government, office and honours were freely bestowed. The Kinwun
Mingyi became a Companion of the Star of India, U Pe Si of the Indian
Empire. The real patriots were those who recognized that the new order
meant peace and prosperity, with no suppression of native religion or
customs, and who risked obloquy, and often life and property, in loyal
service to the State. These were truer friends of their people than men
who, by ineffectual revolt and resistance, plunged their country for
years into bloodshed and misery.

In March, 1886, Sir Charles Bernard returned to Mandalay. On April
1 the provisional administration of the Hlutdaw came to an end. Sir
Edward Sladen retired, and the Chief Commissioner assumed direct
control of Upper Burma. At the same time the Burma Field Force was
broken up, Sir Harry Prendergast returned to India, and Sir George
White took command of the troops. While retaining general control
of the whole Province, Sir Charles Bernard left Lower Burma under
the immediate direction of Mr. G. J. S. Hodgkinson[118] as Special
Commissioner, devoting his own energies mainly to the settlement of
the new Province and the modelling of its administration. An entirely
separate Secretariat was formed, of which, as Secretary for Upper
Burma, I was in sole charge. My office was in the Hlutdaw building,
within the Palace enclosure. We had our own little printing-press,
modestly but efficiently equipped by Mr. Regan, and we published
our own _Gazette_. My only qualified assistant was Mr. Taw Sein
Ko,[119] then in his early youth, to whom I am indebted for invaluable
assistance during those busy months as well as in later years. Of the
clerical staff, the less said the better. It was, perhaps, a unique
Secretariat, with no records of previous years and no precedents.
Whatever the Secretary might forget, the Chief Commissioner remembered.
Besides myself, the only member of Sir Charles Bernard’s immediate
staff was the Personal Assistant. This office was filled first by
Andrew Thomson, C.S., a man of brilliant ability and exceptional gifts.
Later came Sir Charles Bernard’s elder son, J. H. Bernard, C.S.,
endowed with many of the qualities of his family. Andrew Thomson died
in the flower of his youth, _multis bonis flebilis_. James Bernard died
in Bengal, in tragic circumstances, midway in a career of promise.
Never were two pleasanter or more helpful comrades.

Though the Hlutdaw was dissolved, seven or eight of the principal
Ministers were retained on moderate salaries as a consultative body.
They had their own office in the Hlutdaw building, with a few clerks,
and were in charge of the old State records. The handwriting of these
clerks was most elaborate and beautiful. Such writing is now, I fear, a
lost art. In the King’s time Court writers were kept up to the mark by
fear of heavy penalties.

 For wrongly dividing a word at the end of a line (like thi-
 s) the punishment was amputation of the right hand.

It seems almost excessive. The Sayedawgyi were of a higher class than
ordinary clerks in Government offices. Some of them were related
to Ministers, or even to members of the royal family. And often
enough they blossomed into Wuns or Ministers. Among them were men of
ability and character. I instance my friend Maung Tin, A.T.M., Extra
Assistant Commissioner, long resident at Pagan as township officer, now
subdivisional officer, a recognized authority on the antiquities of
that historic city. Another, also Maung Tin, A.T.M., Extra Assistant
Commissioner and subdivisional officer, has written a learned history
of Burma. Both are men of good family and have attained responsible
positions under our Government. The Ministers had no powers, but were
often consulted on matters of which they had special knowledge or
means of information. Punctually at noon every day, a chaprási[120]
came into my office and announced the Minister’s approach.[121] At the
ensuing conference public affairs were discussed and the opinions of
Ministers invited. If the stock of references was low, the conversation
turned to Burmese history and family affairs, of which their knowledge
was extensive and accurate. One day we were all bidden to the wedding
of the late Shwepyi Mingyi’s daughter. A peculiar custom prevailed
among the wealthier classes of having marriages celebrated by Pônnas,
Hindu descendants of captives from Assam or Manipúr. It has already
been explained that Buddhism, as understood in Burma, provides no
ceremony of marriage. The custom of inviting Pônnas to celebrate
marriages of Buddhists with some sort of Hindu rite, the binding with
a thread and the eating out of the same dish, is a curious anomaly for
which I can find no parallel. This was a wedding of the Pônna type.
All Mandalay attended, including many European officers. To complete
the quaint mixture of foreign ceremonies, the health of bride and
bridegroom was drunk in champagne by those of the company who allowed
themselves that indulgence. Late in the morning, as I was about to
leave, one of the Ministers said with a sigh: “Well, I suppose we must
be getting away to office too.” The suggestion that such a festal day
might be spent as a holiday was accepted with effusion. There was
something pathetic in the thought of these men, all of mature and
some of advanced years, who had exercised almost absolute sway over
a kingdom, regarding themselves as under the orders of an officer so
much their junior in age. I did my best to make the position as little
irksome as might be. As I retained the friendship of every one of them
as long as he lived, I hope my efforts had some measure of success.

With the Kinwun Mingyi I contracted a close and intimate friendship,
which ended only with his death at an advanced age. In early days
Andrew Thomson and I were often at his house, playing with his charming
grandchildren, small boys and girls of four or five years of age;
sometimes on Sunday mornings we went to his garden beyond the walls
for an early picnic. The Mingyi was a man of amiable disposition and
courtly manners, of great learning, a delightful companion. To have had
the privilege of discussing with him the doctrine of Neikban (Nirvana)
is a pleasant memory. Although he could have no real love for our
Government, he loyally accepted it, and did his best to support and
strengthen the new order. I believe him to have been a man of high
character, incapable of any base or treacherous act. His personal
record was unimpeachable; he lived and died in honourable disregard of
wealth. He had no children except two sons by adoption.

Another house where I was always welcome was that of the widow of the
Pagan Min. She was his principal Queen, and occupied the house where
the deposed King and herself had lived since the accession of Mindôn
Min.[122] It was interesting to meet in such conditions one who had sat
on the throne and was sprung from the race of Burma’s Kings. She was a
charming lady, advanced in years, with the fine manners of her rank and
people. In the house of the Pintha Mintha[123] I was also received on
cordial terms. My friendship with his family subsists to this day.

The description already given[124] of the position of women in Burma
may help to render intelligible the sketch of our life in Mandalay in
early days. For some months European ladies were not encouraged to come
to Mandalay. Most of us were extremely busy, and lived an austere life
in the Palace. For companionship we were dependent on one another and
on our Burmese friends. The people of whom I saw most in rare intervals
of relaxation were officials and their families and members of the
royal house. Queens and Princesses were many. For a melancholy reason
Princes were few. Except the Myingun Prince in Pondicherry, and the
Nyaung-yan and Nyaung-ôk Princes in Calcutta, only two of Mindôn Min’s
sons survived--the Kawlin and Pyinmana[125] Princes.[126] Educated in
India, these two have now for some years lived in charming domesticity
in Rangoon; each happily married to a lady of his House. Both are
honorary magistrates, and duly take their turn as members of a Bench
for the trial of petty cases. There were a few other Minthas, sons of
the Einshemin[127] and other Princes, besides more distant relations of
the King. Several of the Minthas have taken service under Government,
and occupy responsible positions as Assistant Commissioners, My̆o-ôks,
and in other departments. Almost all the ladies of the Royal House,
widows and daughters of Mindôn Min, or otherwise nearly related to
the King, were in great distress and poverty. For the most part
they had subsisted on meagre allowances, many of them being kept in
confinement or under restraint. All these ladies received pensions
from the British Government, but on so minute a scale that Sir Charles
Bernard’s proposals for their maintenance excited by their moderation
the surprise even of the Government of India. Yet when income-tax was,
as some think illegally, levied in Upper Burma on incomes derived
from Government, I am ashamed to say that these paltry stipends were
subjected to deduction. From time to time the scale of pensions was
raised, but it was not till many years later that I had the good
fortune to enlist Lord Minto’s active sympathy with these ladies, and
to secure for them allowances not utterly inadequate. Most prominent of
the royal ladies in Mandalay were two full sisters of King Thebaw, the
Pakangyi and Meiktila Supaya.[128] Meiktila Supaya married a commoner,
and died some years ago, leaving two charming daughters, of whom one
is the wife of a Government officer. The Amá-daw-gyi[129] brought up
her nieces, and lived quietly in Mandalay till recent days. Only one
of Mindôn Min’s wives of royal stock survived till our time. Wives of
inferior rank were not of royal blood, but for the most part daughters
of officials or chiefs. The three whom I knew best were three sisters,
the Limban, Thetpan, and Thayazein Queens, daughters of a Talaing
My̆o-thugyi in Lower Burma. They were ladies of dignity and refinement,
with whom my family and I were long on terms of intimacy. Only the
Thayazein Queen survives, living happily with her daughters and
grandchildren in Rangoon. The pension list included over one hundred
persons. At first the Princesses shrank from marrying commoners, but
clearly most of them must condescend or remain unwed. Many of them,
therefore, in the course of time took husbands of inferior rank. In
the quarter of a century which has passed since the annexation, not
one of the ladies of the Burmese royal family has given the slightest
trouble to Government from a political point of view; none of them has
intrigued or shared in any conspiracy or seditious movement. When the
prominent part taken by Burmese women in public and private affairs is
remembered, it will be admitted that, if for this reason alone, these
ladies merit gentle treatment at our hands. I think they might at least
be excused from paying income-tax on their pensions.

It may be appropriate here to notice the theory and practice of class
distinctions in Burma. The King and the royal family were placed on
a lone and lofty pedestal, and regarded with exaggerated reverence.
In respect of royalty there was almost, not quite, a distinction of
caste. An instance of respect for the sacredness of the blood royal
came under my own notice. A granddaughter of Mindôn Min, daughter
of his son by a minor Queen, a charming and attractive girl, eloped
with the Queen’s nephew, a very presentable youth. The boy was one of
the Queen’s household, son of the Queen’s own brother, a commoner.
The Mipaya’s[130] distress and indignation were extreme. To console
her, I suggested that, after all, the lover was of her own family. “I
would as soon she had married a coolie out of the street,” was the
uncompromising reply. The old lady had no rest till she had worried
these young people to divorce, and married the girl to a Princeling.
Anomalies were necessarily recognized. Though the King took as his
chief Queen one of his half-sisters, Kings and Princes might marry
commoners; royal ladies might not do so. Of late, as we have seen,
this rule has become less strict. But genuine respect for the royal
family still abounds. To this day, whether in Upper or Lower Burma,
any upstart who pretends to royal origin secures a following.[131] The
very sensible plan of employing them as My̆o-ôks and Extra Assistant
Commissioners has done much to keep real sons of Princes out of
mischief.

Apart from the royal family and monks, the only distinct class among
Burmans is that of officials. There is no landed gentry; there are
no county families. In most cases, especially in the higher grades,
official rank was not hereditary. The Mingyi’s son did not become a
Mingyi, or the Wun’s son a Wun, by succession. Occasionally one came
across officers, like my friend U Pe Si,[132] sprung from official
families. This was the result of nepotism, not heredity. As a rule
an official obtained his position by luck or by favour or by family
influence, by repute for learning, or by distinction as a soldier or
administrator. The royal family and officials excluded, the rest of the
people were on the same social plane. False pride and snobbishness were
unknown. One of the Ministers, of eminent learning, who came clad in
silks and glittering with golden chains, brought his brother to see me.
The brother was an old peasant out of the fields, who sat on the floor,
wearing the scanty dress of the working farmer. We had a pleasant
talk about crops and seasons, while the Minister sat on a chair and
discussed what Prince Hassan[133] used to call “country business.” It
is, perhaps, to this absence of false pride, to genuine kindness of
heart, and to traditional respect for elders, that the fine manners
of Burmans are due. Good manners and self-respect are marks of all
ranks. I have received perfect civility and courtesy from Princes and
Ministers, from peasants and labouring men; always a kind word and a
smile and thought for a guest’s comfort and convenience. Even contact
with Western civilization has not yet spoilt the grace of manner which
adorns the Burmese race.

The lack of class distinctions imports a certain want of cohesion,
which does not facilitate the task of administration. Burmans are rank
individualists, and so, I suppose, far behind the times. Each family is
a separate entity, bound by no ties to any overlord. It is true that
the hereditary principle is strong in the case of minor offices, such
as those of My̆o-thugyi[134] or Ywa-thugyi.[135] These comparatively
small but important offices passed from father to son for generations.
In Lower Burma we have practically abolished the circle, and in Upper
Burma the My̆o is likewise in process of decay. I for one agree that
the village is the better unit. Yet some tribute of respect must be
paid to the old My̆o-thugyi, a courtly country gentleman of dignity and
presence, possibly more ornamental than useful.



CHAPTER X

THE FIRST YEAR AFTER THE ANNEXATION


The task of constituting the new Administration and of reducing the
country to order was rendered especially difficult by the rigid economy
at first contemplated by the Government of India. In the discussions
during the Viceroy’s visit it is understood that frugality was declared
essential. With the loyalty which in him, as in Sir Arthur Phayre,
rose almost to a passion, Sir Charles Bernard did his utmost to carry
out the wishes of Government. Beyond doubt or dispute, a burden far
greater than any man should be asked to bear was placed upon the
Chief Commissioner’s shoulders. Yet the Titan never showed signs of
weariness. There were to be no Divisional Commissioners; district
officers were to work under the Chief Commissioner’s orders. The
provision for police, especially military police, was quite inadequate.
The Secretariat staff was plainly insufficient. No one but Sir Charles
Bernard, with his immense power of work, his loyal enthusiasm, his
marvellous memory and mastery of detail, could have attempted the
task. And the effort was beyond even those exceptional powers. In
the first year of the occupation Sir Charles Bernard, for some time
single-handed, organized and directed the administration of the new
Province, doing the work of three ordinary men, dealing as far as
possible immediately in police matters with the Inspector-General, in
forest matters with the Conservator, keeping close touch and on the
most friendly terms with the military authorities, keeping also in
personal contact with every district officer, guiding, encouraging,
seldom admonishing. Throughout this year of labour and anxiety he was
hardly a week free from severe and painful illness. Almost from the
beginning he was the target of malicious and venomous attack. With an
inadequate though loyal and efficient staff in the districts; with
scanty funds doled out by the Imperial Government, which then, as
ever, treated Burma with unsympathetic parsimony; under the depressing
effects of illness, the object of ignorant and unscrupulous detraction,
the work done by Sir Charles Bernard in that first year, when order
began to be evolved out of chaos, has never been properly appreciated
in public. But no civil officer who served in Upper Burma in that year
fails to recognize the heroic work done by his Chief, or to remember
the support and encouragement received from him in times of trouble,
doubt, and confusion. No military officer of standing forgets the
loyal co-operation of the civil power as represented by the Chief
Commissioner. Sir Charles Bernard could not remain in Burma to complete
his work. He laid a sound basis for the restoration of order and
the building up of the fabric of settled government. The report of
the year’s work issued at the end of 1886 was a record of which no
Administration need have been ashamed.

As might have been foreseen from the first, it was soon found
impossible for the Chief Commissioner directly to control the
affairs of every District. Upper Burma was therefore partitioned
into Divisions, and Commissioners were appointed. In June, Mr. H.
St. G. Tucker, C.S., became Commissioner of the Eastern Division,
with headquarters at Ningyan (Pyinmana). This division was more
remote from Mandalay than any part of the Province as yet sought to
be administered; there was no communication with it by water, and
neither road nor rail was yet in being. In August and September three
other divisions were constituted. Mr. G. D. Burgess, C.S., became
Commissioner of the Northern Division; Mr. F. W. R. Fryer,[136] C.S.,
with a great reputation from the Punjab, assumed charge of the Central
Division, both for a time residing at Mandalay; Mr. J. J. Digges La
Touche,[137] C.S., from the North-West Provinces, was posted to the
Southern Division, with headquarters at Minbu. With some adjustment
of local limits, these Divisions still subsist. Their names have
been changed, not, I think, for the better, and in most cases the
headquarters have been shifted. The appointment of these officers
afforded the Chief Commissioner appreciable relief.

Having taken over an area twice as large as Lower Burma, Sir Charles
Bernard was confronted with the task of finding officers to administer
it. Obviously the existing staff could not be stretched to cover the
new Province and provide equipment for the old Province as well. For
the Commission civilians were sent from other provinces, military
civilians were recruited, and appointments were offered to men in
various departments or not yet in Government service. In each of these
alternatives there were advantages and disadvantages. Civilians from
other provinces, though versed in the art of administration, were
ignorant of the language and customs of Burma. Military civilians,
excellent material, needed some training in civil work. Officers of
other departments and non-officials recruited in the Province knew the
language and the people, but had no acquaintance with administrative
methods. The last-mentioned defect is probably regarded by many as
imaginary. While for other arts and professions a laborious education
is necessary, we all know that government and administration are gifts
of the gods and come by nature. We are all familiar with brilliant
amateurs in administration, who know their work far better than those
trained to the business from their youth. The Commission was thus a
composite body, probably not so supremely excellent as that which
undertook the settlement of the Punjab under John and Henry Lawrence,
but full of ability and zeal. The Civil Service, the Army, and what
were then called the Uncovenanted Services, furnished officers of
conspicuous merit, who in the years immediately succeeding the
annexation and in later times did invaluable work. Without making
invidious distinctions or offering presumptuous criticisms, I may
mention of the early new-comers Mr. H. P. Todd-Naylor,[138] Mr. J.
George Scott,[139] Mr. H. A. Browning,[140] Mr. B. S. Carey,[141] and
Mr. H. M. S. Matthews.[142]

The officering of the civil police was one of even greater difficulty,
the pay and prospects being far less attractive. Some officers were
drafted from other Provinces. Many adventurous young gentlemen flocked
to Mandalay, eager to take part in the settlement of a new Province.
Of these some were appointed to be inspectors, some to be even head
constables, with a prospect of obtaining gazetted rank in the course
of time. Most of them did excellent work, fully justifying their
selection. From time to time some were transferred to the Commission.
The majority had a hard and disappointing life, waiting long for the
realization of their dreams. The story of the Burma Civil Police is one
of hope deferred, and of weary plodding through many dismal years. It
is greatly to the credit of its officers that they did well under such
depressing conditions.

In the first year, at least, the bulk of the actual work of pacification
was done by the army of occupation. Sir George White was in command,
brave among the brave, cheeriest of companions, loyalest of friends,
the warrior whom every man in arms should wish to be. Chief of his
Staff was Colonel Prothero,[143] who worked all day and night without
turning a hair, whose gay serenity nothing could ruffle, whose motto
might have been:

    “Still to be neat, still to be dressed
        As always going to a feast.”

In the course of the summer, Sir Herbert Macpherson, V.C.,[144] came
over to exercise general control. After his lamented death, the
Commander-in-Chief in India himself, Sir Frederick Roberts, spent some
months in Burma, occupying the summer-house in the Palace garden where
the King surrendered, giving to civil and military administration the
support of his authority, the strength of his wise counsel. Gradually,
as the area of settled government extended, the country was covered
with a network of small military posts, more than a hundred being in
existence at the end of the year.

In these months came the first two military police battalions, raised
by Mr. Loch and Mr. Gastrell.[145] The Mandalay battalion, which I
knew best, attracted the flower of the Punjab. Under Mr. Gastrell’s
excellent command it became a thoroughly efficient force, conspicuous
among the large body of military police which garrisoned the country
in subsequent years. These military police played an important part
in the pacification. Their behaviour was most praiseworthy. Several
battalions later on were converted into regular regiments of the Indian
Army, called at first Burma Regiments.

For civil administration the Province was parcelled out into Districts,
at first twelve, afterwards seventeen in number, each in charge of a
Deputy Commissioner, with such Assistants as could be provided. In
some cases military commandants of outposts were invested with civil
powers, and did much useful work in a civil capacity. Every effort
was made to enlist local Burman officials under Government, and many
became My̆o-ôks and rendered valuable service. But it was impossible
to induce higher officials to leave Mandalay, and to take part in the
settlement of out-districts. The effort was made and failed. One of
Sir Charles Bernard’s first acts was the preparation and promulgation
of a set of instructions to civil officers, an admirable compilation
embracing in a small compass all the rules necessary at the outset
for the guidance of his subordinates. That was all the law we had in
Upper Burma till the end of November, 1886. As an instance of the care
taken to prevent hasty and harsh measures, it may be mentioned that
all capital sentences had to be referred to the Chief Commissioner for
confirmation. When Commissioners were appointed, the duty of confirming
these sentences was delegated to them.

The chaos to which the country was reduced, and the confusion which
prevailed under the Burmese Government, rendered the task of
settlement extraordinarily difficult. The country was overrun with
dacoit bands, ranging in numbers from five to five hundred. The names
of the leaders, Hla U, Bo[146] Cho, Bo Swè, Ôktama, Shwe Yan, became
household words. For some of the dacoit movements there was no doubt a
slight political move. A few scions of the royal stock who had escaped
the massacres of 1879 set up as pretenders to sovereignty, while here
and there men of humble origin assumed the style of royalty and raised
the standard of revolt. But as a rule, from the deeds and aspirations
of these robber bands genuine patriotism was conspicuously absent.
Most of the gangs consisted of dacoits pure and simple, whose sole
object was plunder and rapine, who held the countryside in terror, and
committed indescribable atrocities on their own people. Where-ever
there was an appearance of organized resistance, Buddhist monks were
among the chiefs. No political movement of importance has been without
a monk as the leading spirit.

The story of the pacification has been told fully, vividly, and
accurately by Sir Charles Crosthwaite.[147] It is not my purpose to
attempt to tell the story again. In the first year the work proceeded
slowly, but within limits effectually. Many dacoit leaders were killed
or captured, and the elements of regular administration were introduced
into several districts. Revenue, of no enormous amount, it is true,
was collected; the country was covered with telegraph lines; useful
public works were undertaken. The early months were clouded by the loss
in action of Robert Phayre, a promising civilian;[148] the autumn was
saddened, for me most of all, by the death from fever, in Kyauksè, of
Robert Pilcher. A master of their language, and sincerely in sympathy
with them, Pilcher was exceedingly popular with the Burmese. The first
time I ever saw a man literally beat his breast for grief was when I
told the good old Taungtaya-ngasè Bo[149] the sad tidings of his death.
Since then I have seen men and boys beat their breasts and shed real
tears at the recital of the tale of Hassan and Hussein[150] at the
Mohurram. Pilcher was a scholar with a touch of genius; his early death
was a loss to the State.

[Illustration: A BURMESE FAMILY.]

Among the homely virtues of the Burmese must be counted respect
for parents. This is inculcated in the Sacred Books, and forms a
really pleasing phase of family life. Two nephews of the Taung-gwin
Mingyi, one of the Council of Ministers, were giving trouble in the
Ava district. It was suggested to the Mingyi that he should use his
influence to induce them to surrender and make peace with Government.
“Certainly,” said the Mingyi; “I will send for their parents and put
them in my dungeon and afflict them till their sons come in.” It was
not possible to approve this crude proposal, but the Mingyi was told
that he might ask the parents to stay with him, and talk kindly to them
about their erring children. The young men submitted in a week, and
gave no further trouble. In Sagaing a famous Bo, Min O, was captured.
His life was forfeit for many crimes; but he was an old man, and two
of his sons were at large, leading dacoit bands. Word was sent to them
that if they did not surrender, their father would be hanged; but if
they gave themselves up, his life would be spared. Both came in. It
will no doubt surprise some people to learn that the promise to spare
Min O’s life was kept.

In the early days of April, 1886, there seemed to be a lull in the
storm. The time of the Burmese New Year approached, always a time of
some anxiety, when, if ever, disturbance may be expected. Perhaps this
had not yet been realized. The exact moment on which the New Year
began was calculated by the Pônnas,[151] who, besides officiating
at weddings, were also the royal astrologers.[152] The time was to
be announced by the firing of a cannon from the Palace enclosure.
On that April morning the astrologers assembled in the courtyard of
the Palace. The head seer drew a line in the dust, planted a small
stick, and declared that when the shadow of the stick reached the
line the auspicious moment would have come. At the precise instant I
made a preconcerted sign, and the cannon was fired. It might have
been arranged as the signal of revolt throughout the country. On that
day all the principal military posts in Upper Burma were attacked,
doubtless in pursuance of a definite plan. Next morning my servant
woke me rather early with the intimation that “the enemy were at the
gate.” At dawn there had been a serious attack on the city of Mandalay,
swarming with troops, by a band of some twenty or thirty rebels
acting in concert with a few confederates within the walls. Inside
the city two unlucky medical subordinates were killed, and within and
without incendiary fires were lighted. The fire spread even to the
Palace enclosure, and we were in some anxiety for the main buildings,
which, once alight, would have burned like matchwood. To the roof of
the Hlutdaw mounted the faithful Thwethaukgyi[153] Tun Baw and his
subordinates, with chatties[154] of water and bamboo poles, to quench
and beat out flying sparks. Luckily the fire in the enclosure was
mastered, and we returned, grimy and thirsty, relieved to find our
quarters still standing. As the Palace was crowded with military and
civil officers and their establishments, and contained all the records,
its destruction would have been very inconvenient.

The fortnight which followed was the longest fortnight of my life. It
was crowded with incident, attacks and risings, above all, incendiary
fires. Since those days I have ceased to take interest in fires. On the
Queen’s Tower[155] stood a sentinel, day and night, to sound the alarm.
The easiest way to the tower was through my bedroom. Nightly I went to
sleep in expectation of being aroused by the fire-bugle and the tramp
of men, and I was hardly ever disappointed. Every night we climbed
the wooden tower, and saw the blaze of conflagration in town or city.
Once I asked the sentry if he had heard any sound of firing. “Well,
sir, I thought I did hear one of them there brinjals,”[156] was the
unexpected answer. Once, again, fire broke out within the Palace fence,
but did not spread. This also was well, as close to our quarters were
considerable quantities of gunpowder and dynamite. With the early rains
at the end of April fires ceased, and Mandalay enjoyed comparative rest.

It was certain that some of the Burmese officials in Mandalay were
fomenting seditious movements in the country. Suspicion fell upon the
Shwehlan Myowun[157] and the Hlethin Atwinwun.[158] The Myowun was
removed to India in virtue of a warrant issued under the invaluable
Regulation III. of 1818. He was taken from his house by Mr. J. G.
Scott,[159] who had joined the Commission and was on general duty in
Mandalay. Their next meeting was at a pwè in Mandalay, on a memorable
night in 1897, long after the Myowun had been allowed to return.[160]
The Hlethin Atwinwun, most plausible and bland of miscreants, believed
to have been deeply involved in the massacre of Princes, from whose
hands one expected to see blood still dripping, was moved to visit
Calcutta of his own accord in response to a general invitation given
to Burmese Ministers by Lord Dufferin. He stayed in Calcutta for some
years, much against his will, but solely under pressure of peaceful
persuasion. He returned much chastened, and lived on good terms with
the officers of Government till his death early last year.

In accordance with precedent not always observed, King Mindôn had
moved his capital from Amarapura to Mandalay in the late fifties,
transferring thither many of the inhabitants and all the entourage of
the Court. The site was not in all respects well chosen. Much of the
town was below the level of the river in high flood, and had to be
protected by an embankment. In the rains of 1886 the Irrawaddy rose
to an abnormal height, causing grave anxiety for the safety of the
bund.[161] One night in August the disaster came. The embankment was
breached, and the low-lying parts of the town, as far as the great
bazaar (zegyo), were inundated. It was a night of peril and excitement,
which taxed to the utmost the energies of the officers in charge of
Mandalay, Captain Adamson, Mr. Carter, and Mr. Fforde. Till the river
began to fall the town remained under water, and we all went about the
streets in boats and launches. As the Burman is an amphibious being,
and the people in the area menaced by the flood had ample warning, the
loss of life was comparatively small. Searching inquiry established the
conclusion that twelve persons were drowned. An even more melancholy
loss of life occurred in connection with the distribution of rice to
people rendered destitute by the flood. In a crowd in a narrow passage
someone fell; the throng pushed forward unknowing, and many people were
trampled to death before the press could be stayed.

One of the objects to which from the beginning the Chief Commissioner
devoted the full force of his energy and influence was the continuation
of the railway from Toungoo to Mandalay. By dint of constant and
indefatigable pressure on the higher powers, and by steadfast
resistance to the suggestion that a trunk road should first be made,
he succeeded in obtaining sanction for this essential work. The survey
was actually begun in the rains of 1886; construction was started
early in November of that year; and in February, 1889, less than three
years after the proclamation of annexation, the line was opened to
traffic throughout its whole length. To those who have experienced the
delay usually attending the grant of sanction to important and costly
proposals, the most remarkable feature of this record is that leave
should have been obtained in less than a year from the occupation of
Mandalay. The construction of the line afforded work to great numbers
of Burmans and others, and proved one of the most pacifying influences
in the eastern districts. There were no engineering difficulties, and
the climate enabled work to be carried on continuously throughout the
year. The opening of the railway was hailed with joy by the Burmans,
who expressed their appreciation in characteristic fashion, greeting
passing trains with shouts of delight and crowding to travel in the
mi-yahta.[162] It should never be forgotten that to Sir Charles
Bernard alone the Province owes the inception of this work, as indeed
in earlier days to his far-seeing policy it owed the construction of
the railway from Rangoon to Pegu, and thence to Toungoo. Apparently
Sir Charles Bernard furnished an exception to the rule that Indian
civilians are persons of narrow horizon.

Among the measures taken at an early stage to facilitate the
pacification of Upper Burma was the disarmament of the people. Orders
to effect this were issued by Sir Charles Bernard, and some progress
was made. It was, however, under Sir Charles Crosthwaite’s rule that,
in the face of much opposition, the whole Province was effectually
disarmed. No measure has had more excellent results in the prevention
of serious disturbances. Though from time to time dacoits and robbers
have become possessed of firearms, the thoroughness of the disarmament
is proved by the inability of rebels in recent years to obtain guns
and powder. The Arms Act has been very strictly enforced in Burma, the
number of firearms in each district being strictly limited, with the
most beneficial effect.

In the time of King Mindôn and King Thebaw many foreigners, mostly
French and Italian, flocked to Mandalay and obtained various
appointments in the King’s service. The downfall of the Burmese
kingdom deprived these gentlemen of their employment. All had claims
against the Burmese Government for arrears of pay, for goods sold, or
for work done. Our Government naturally accepted responsibility for
the lawful debts of its predecessor. The claims of foreign creditors
were investigated as quickly as possible, and those established were
discharged. Besides these, there were literally hundreds of other
demands for payment of sums alleged to be due from the late Government.
These claims were laboriously investigated and reinvestigated, and
finally adjudicated upon by the Government of India. Substantial
payments were made in settlement of debts sufficiently proved.

In those early days for most officers, military and civil, in Mandalay
life was a ceaseless round of strenuous labour. For me it was intensely
exciting. All day and often far into the night my time was fully
occupied. The enthralling interest of seeing from within and from
the centre the making of a new Province, of taking a humble share in
the work, was a privilege which falls to few men in a generation.
The receipt of reports from districts, the issue of the Chief
Commissioner’s orders, daily contact with men of distinction in arms or
civil affairs, the early morning ride with my Chief or with a comrade,
sometimes even with the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Frederick Roberts, of
whose kindness I have the pleasantest recollection, opportunities for
the study of Burmese life and character, filled to overflowing the
swiftly passing weeks. Bustle and excitement and good fellowship formed
an exhilarating combination. All the holiday I had that year was a run
down to Rangoon for a day to see my wife and family off to England.
But who wanted holidays at such a time, when his work was far more
interesting and stimulating than other people’s play? With Stevenson we
might say that we had “the profit of industry with the pleasures of a
pastime.”

It should hardly be necessary to say that in those early months the
outskirts and fringes, the Shan States and the Chin and Kachin Hills,
were untouched. It has been suggested that in dealing with the Shan
country there was undue delay. Anyone who realizes how much there was
to do in the plains, and how impossible it was to do everything at
once, recognizes the futility of the suggestion. The Chins were left
severely alone. The only attempt made this year to penetrate into the
Kachin Hills was the luckless expedition to Pônkan,[163] which returned
to Bhamo _re infecta_, to the extreme wrath of Sir Charles Bernard and
Sir George White.

The Shan States occupied the whole of the east of Burma, stretching
even beyond the Mèkong River. They constituted an integral part of the
Burmese Empire, but were administered by their own hereditary chiefs,
puny folk who grovelled before the pinchbeck Majesty of Burma, and
were on a footing quite inferior to that of native rulers in India.
The first of the Shan chiefs to open communication with us was the
Sawbwa[164] of Hsipaw, or, as the Burmese called it, Thibaw, the State
from which the late King derived his title. This enlightened chief had
a romantic history which will bear retelling. Some years before, having
quarrelled with the King, he fled for his life to Lower Burma. With
a few attendants he took up his residence in Kemmendine, a suburb of
Rangoon. Presently he came to believe, very likely with good reason,
that at the King’s instigation two of his servants were plotting his
death. Accustomed in his State to exercise the power of life and death,
he tried them in his own mind, found them guilty, and executed them
with his own hand, shooting them both. He was tried by the Recorder
of Rangoon (Mr. C. F. Egerton Allen[165]) and a jury, convicted,
and sentenced to death. The capital sentence was at once commuted
to transportation for life, and the chief began to serve his term
in the Rangoon jail, where he was at first set to do the usual hard
labour required of prisoners. Mr. Crosthwaite, who was acting as Chief
Commissioner, found him in this sad condition, and ordered material
alleviation of his lot. The Sawbwa’s faithful Mahadevi,[166] who had
accompanied her husband, besieged the Chief Commissioner with petitions
for his release. Before long Mr. Crosthwaite yielded to her importunity
and set free the Sawbwa on condition that he never returned to British
territory. He went to the independent State of Karenni. At or about the
time of the occupation of Mandalay he made his way back to Thibaw, and
after a brief struggle regained possession of his State.

Quite early in 1886 the Sawbwa wrote to me, as Secretary to the
Administration, saying that he had received much kindness from the
British Government, and desired to be on terms of friendship with us.
It has always seemed to me that this was a very magnanimous act. I
agree that it also showed much wisdom. The Sawbwa was a man of great
intelligence. He had seen and experienced the power of the British
Government. No doubt he realized that he was dealing with a Government
immeasurably stronger than that which it had displaced, and he saw
his interest in being on good terms with it. I think, too, that he
had a shining vision of becoming an independent Sovereign in alliance
with India. After all these deductions are made, it implied true
greatness of soul for a semi-civilized chief to remember the clemency
which had spared his life, to forget the dock and the prison cell and
work-yard. The correspondence begun by the Sawbwa was continued on
cordial terms. Early in 1887, in spite of the passionate entreaties
of his advisers, who were filled with gloomy forebodings, Kun Saing
came down to Mandalay. This again showed courage and foresight. There
was not a British officer or soldier in the length and breadth of the
Shan States. Mandalay was full of troops. Though he brought a fairly
large retinue, the Sawbwa knew that he was placing himself entirely
in our power. His confidence was more than justified. He was received
with some ceremony, Mr. J. E. Bridges, C.S., and I, as representatives
of Government, meeting him at Aung-bin-le with a squadron of cavalry
and a military band. Under this escort the Sawbwa made a triumphant
entry into Mandalay, and was allowed even to ride through the Palace
grounds. In the King’s time he might sooner have hoped to fly over
them. Sir Frederick Roberts and Sir Charles Bernard were among the many
spectators of the procession. Accompanied by the Mahadevi, the Sawbwa
was suitably lodged in a Win[167] outside the city walls. The ladies
in his train were somewhat scandalized at being photographed by an
enthusiastic amateur before they had time to change out of riding kit.
The Sawbwa’s amáts[168] continued in a state of alarm all the time they
were in Mandalay. Their terror rose almost to frenzy when one day the
Chief was taken for a picnic on the river in an Indian Marine vessel.
Even the Chief was somewhat relieved when he landed safe and sound on
the Hard.

The Sawbwa had the luck to be in Mandalay at the celebration of Queen
Victoria’s first Jubilee. Partly in honour of that auspicious occasion,
partly in recognition of his confidence and loyalty, the tribute of
Thibaw was remitted for ten years, and three small adjacent States,
Maing-lôn, Thônzè, and Maing-tôn, to which very shadowy claims had been
preferred, were added to the Sawbwa’s territory. Sir Charles Bernard’s
action in making over these States has been criticized. Viewing the
case calmly after the lapse of years, I humbly think that his decision
was wise. The suggestion of the risk of creating a powerful Shan State
strong enough to be a menace to Government was plainly ridiculous. If
all the Shan States were united under one Chief, he would not have as
much power as the ruler of a second-class native State in India. Thibaw
with its added sub-States could never be in a position to cause the
Government of Burma a moment’s anxiety. On the other hand, a large and
comparatively wealthy State is more easily managed and likely to be
administered better than a lot of small tracts.

[Illustration: THE SAWBWA OF THIBAW.]

Although Kun Saing was not an ideal ruler; although from time to time
complaints were made against him; although, I believe unjustly, even
his loyalty was doubted, he was an enlightened and intelligent chief of
some subtlety. Twice in later years he visited England, where he had
the honour of being received by Her Majesty Queen Victoria. The story,
from first to last, has a ring of the Old Testament. The place most
of all admired by the Sawbwa was the Crystal Palace (hman-nan-daw).
Towards the end of his life, when the first signs of unrest in the East
became dimly apparent, he is said to have contracted a secret marriage
with the Pakangyi Supaya,[169] King Thebaw’s sister. Not that he
meditated treason; but if anything should happen, he meant to be on the
right side.

Two of Kun Saing’s sons were partly educated in England. The elder,
Saw Hkè, succeeded his father, and is now the polished, courtly Chief
of Thibaw. The story of Saw Lu, the younger son, is pathetic and
instructive. When still a boy he was sent to England, and was for a
time at Rugby. He was a studious and ambitious youth, whose desire
was to be, not a King, but a doctor. Most unwisely, merely to see how
he was getting on, his father recalled him, and he was turned loose
in Thibaw at the age of about sixteen. The temptations besetting the
Chief’s young son in his father’s capital were too strong for him,
and he fell from grace. The cup of his iniquity brimmed over when he
eloped with a young girl who had been selected as the Sawbwa’s Abishag.
The fugitives were brought back, and the boy was cast into prison.
“Is this your British justice?” he indignantly asked the political
officer who came to condole with him. Presently he was released, and
came to see me in Rangoon. “I don’t know what to do,” he said; “I
have apologized to the governor, but he won’t forgive me.” He was an
exceedingly good-looking, nice-mannered youth, like a pleasant English
public-school boy. He was not allowed to return to England. Over his
subsequent history it is kinder to draw a veil. The moral of this story
is that if a Burman or Shan, especially a Chief’s son, is to come to
England, he should be sent while still young, and should be kept at a
good public school and at the University until his character has been
formed. He should on no account be brought back midway in the course of
his education.

Even more deeply learned in Shan than in Burmese, Pilcher would have
been the first civil officer in the Shan States. After his death, I
was designated by Sir Charles Bernard for that post. When the time
came, another officer was selected. Speaking seriously and without
reserve, I have no doubt that this was for the advantage of the Shan
country. No one could have been more conspicuously successful than
Mr. Hildebrand[170] and Mr. Scott;[171] no one is likely to have
done nearly so well. In view of the original intention, in the cold
weather of 1886 I was given a holiday from office-work, and sent as
civil officer with a column under Colonel E. Stedman[172] to Thônzè.
Through this State ran the trade route to the Northern Shan States,
Thibaw, Theinni, and Taungbaing. Along this road came caravans of
bullocks laden with letpet.[173] Owing to dissensions in Thônzè, the
trade was stopped. The object of our expedition, the first sent into
the Shan country, was to obtain information and to open the road for
traders. Early in November, when the season should have been settled,
on a fine Sunday afternoon, I rode out to join the rearguard at Tônbo.
Next morning we were to catch up the main column at Zibingale. From
Tônbo to Zibingale we climbed the hill in a torrent of rain, letting
our ponies loose to scramble up the steep and rocky ascent, while the
Gurkhas chaffed one another and laughed at the weather. At Zibingale
we stayed under canvas in the rain for three days and three nights,
quite comfortable in our tents, but rather aggrieved at having to wade
knee-deep in mud to mess.

The Madrasi garrison of the post was prostrate with fever almost to a
man; of our own small force about a quarter fell sick. By judicious
doses of quinine, I saved my servants and myself, so that we all came
through unscathed. After three days the rain ceased and we began our
march in cool November sunshine. On that delightful plateau, some three
thousand feet above the sea, the winter climate is perfect. We rode
through forest paths and fairy glades, wild roses clustering in the
hedges. At Pyintha and Singaing, we first saw the bazaar, held every
five days, a custom peculiar to the Shan States and Further East.
Buyers and sellers came from all the countryside, often from distant
places. It is much like market-day in a country town in England. The
market at Singaing and at Pyinulwin was of some interest, and attracted
strange folk from the hills. It was not to be compared with the great
bazaars held at Kēngtūng, Namkham, or even Mogôk, thronged with many
varieties of races in rich diversities of attire. To us, the people
most novel and attractive were the Shans, men swaggering in baggy
trousers and large flapping straw hats brigand-like, but formidable
only in appearance; girls with russet-rosy cheeks, shy and gentle.
Pyin-u-lwin, a charmingly situated village of some five-and-twenty
houses, with a market-place and a gambling ring, won our hearts. Though
we did not actually discover Pyin-u-lwin, we were among its earliest
visitors. We were received with all kindness and hospitality. Several
of us were housed in the village monastery, where we were heartily
welcomed by the monk. He was still there when I left Burma twenty-four
years later. With Captain E. W. Dun, our Intelligence Officer, I
inspected a curious magnetic rock in the neighbouring jungle. Some
years afterwards it was described as a new discovery by a geologist of
note. It has been lost again, but will doubtless be found some day.
Soon after our return, on Colonel Stedman’s recommendation, a military
post was established at Pyin-u-lwin, and called May-my̆o, after Colonel
May, of the Bengal army, a Mutiny veteran, the first Commandant.
May-my̆o is now the summer residence of the Burma Government and the
headquarters of the Burma division, a flourishing hill-station with a
population of about 12,000. Without pretension to the picturesque, it
is a place of great charm and quiet beauty, with no palm-trees and few
pagodas, conspicuously un-Oriental, more like a corner of Surrey than
of Burma.[174]

From Pyin-u-lwin we marched to Thônzè, through a desolate country,
overgrown with elephant-grass, but with many signs of past prosperity.
At the ruined town of Thônzè, now no more than a straggling village,
we halted and tried to open communication with Hein Sè,[175] a bandit
who claimed to be Chief of the State. I promised him a safe-conduct and
liberty to depart if we could not come to terms, and to encourage him,
I offered to let him keep my messenger as a hostage for his safety.
This offer was made with the knowledge and consent of the messenger,
a little Shan chiefling known as the Tabet Myosa. Him we had found,
practically destitute, in Mandalay, where he had been detained by the
King. As a matter of grace, he was given an allowance of Rs. 10[176] a
month. He accompanied me on this tour, and pluckily undertook to carry
my letter to Hein Sè. As he was leaving, he turned at the tent-door,
and said: “But you will let him come back, won’t you?” Accepting my
assurance, he went off. I know that he discharged his mission, as I
received a reply. But his courage was not put to the extreme test. Hein
Sè behaved like a gentleman, treated the envoy kindly, and sent him
back in safety. He himself declined my invitation. The future history
of Tabet may be told here. A few months later, when Mr. Hildebrand
and Mr. Scott went to the Shan States, I sent the Myosa with them. He
made himself useful, and showed nerve and ability. When, owing to the
persistent recalcitrance of its ruler, who fled across the Salween
and stayed there, the large State of Yatsauk was in need of a chief,
Tabet was chosen. He ruled Yatsauk with loyalty and intelligence, and
handed down the succession to his son. His fortune, probably his merit,
was better than that of another Shan chiefling of similar status, the
Maingkaing Myosa, who also received from Government 13s. 4d. a month,
and received no more.

The rest of this tour was without incident. We explained to the people
of Thônzè the beneficent intentions of Government, and gave a practical
example of the good manners of a British military force. The Gurkhas
of the column, then as ever, were specially popular with the people to
whom doubtless they are akin.

In February, 1887, Mandalay was not behind the rest of India in
celebrating the Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. The ceremonies
were designedly arranged so as to give the people an opportunity of
demonstrating their loyalty and devotion to the Crown by revels which
they themselves appreciated. For a week pwès[177] and other Burmese
festivities went on day and night. On the first day came all the
members of the royal family, all the high officials, and a crowd of
others, in their gayest and richest attire. In the principal ballet
appeared, probably for the last time, the famous singer and dancer,
Yindaw Ma Le, the favourite of Princes, undisputed _prima donna_ of the
Burmese operatic stage, who ten years before had been sent to Rangoon
by Mindôn Min to dance at the Proclamation rejoicings. Twenty years
later her successor, Ma Twe Le, also a lady of supreme grace and
serpentine charm,[178] had the honour of dancing before Their Royal
Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales.

One of the relaxations of those early days was to see the working of
the Elephant Kheddah at Amarapura. The Kheddah establishment, inherited
from the King and maintained for some time, consisted of a number
of tame elephants, thoroughly well trained, with Burmese riders and
hunters. The tame elephants, some with riders, some guided only by
their own sagacity, plunged into a jungle teeming with herds of their
wild brethren. By artful strategy a wild elephant would be detached
from his fellows, lured into the midst of the tame herd, and gradually
drawn to the Kheddah enclosure. This was a quadrangle, entered only by
a funnel-shaped passage, surrounded by a strong outer wall of brick
and by an inner stockade of stout teak posts set at intervals, with
a space between the stockade and the wall. By his clever, perfidious
friends, the captive was cunningly edged and hustled towards the
passage till finally he was thrust into its mouth. Then the gate was
securely fastened and the quarry was alone at the mercy of his captors.
The hunters teased him with blunt spears and sticks, not doing him any
real harm, but annoying him exceedingly, escaping his charge by darting
between the posts of the palisade, set wide enough apart to admit a
man but not an elephant. This was a sport of some danger, requiring
nerve and agility. When the poor beast was thoroughly tired, he was
noosed and tied up in the Kheddah, and the process of training began.
Spectators sat in crowds on the wall to watch this pastime. I do not
think it occurred to any of us that it was somewhat cruel.

In March, 1887, Sir Charles Bernard left Burma. He was entertained by
the Headquarters Mess at a farewell dinner, where Sir George White[179]
proposed his health in moving and eloquent terms, quoting most
appropriately the famous lines:

    “Him who cares not to be great,
    But as he saves or serves the State.
    Not once or twice in our rough island story,
    The path of duty was the way to glory:
    He that walks it, only thirsting
    For the right, and learns to deaden
    Love of self, before his journey closes,
    He shall find the stubborn thistle bursting
    Into glossy purples, which outredden
    All voluptuous garden-roses.”

We escorted our guest to the steamer, and there bade farewell to our
Chief and our friend.



CHAPTER XI

A FEW WORDS ON BUDDHISM


Buddhist monks are the most influential and most respected class of
the community. In passing it may be mentioned that there is no such
person as a Buddhist priest. No one exercises any sacerdotal function
or celebrates any Sacrament. The religious are not priests, but monks,
a numerous and well-organized body, wielding indefinite but real
authority. In every village at least one monk is found. In Mandalay,
the typical Burmese city, they were numbered by thousands. Professed
monks are bound by vows of chastity and poverty, and are subject to
strict discipline. Wearing the yellow robe, the distinctive mark of
their order, as morning comes round monks and novices from every
monastery walk slowly through the streets, each bearing a bowl for
the receipt of the offerings of the faithful. We must not call this
vessel a “begging-bowl.” One of the many acts from which a monk is
bound to abstain is asking for anything. Voluntary gifts are freely
offered, and are received as a matter of course. The lives of monks
are devoted to meditation, the practice of austerities, the study and
exposition of the law, the instruction of youth. Every Burmese boy
enters a monastery, stays for a longer or shorter period, and receives
there the elements of secular learning. Also, much to his profit, he
is instructed in religious and moral duties. Thus it happens that
in Burma elementary education is widely spread. The proportion of
literate persons is greater than in any country where education is
not compulsory. It is rare to find a man who cannot at least read and
write. Sometimes men profess to have forgotten these arts, but as a
rule this is mere laziness. The influence of monks having remained
undisturbed by foreign contact, five-and-twenty years ago sound
education in the vernacular was more common in Upper Burma than in the
rest of the Province. In my own Court in Mandalay, in comparatively
early days, a Lower Burman clerk was stumbling over the reading of a
document. A bystander, apparently a plain man, offered his services.
Borrowing a pair of spectacles from his neighbour, he read the crabbed
text with fluency and accuracy. The incident does not prove, but it
illustrates, my argument.

[Illustration: MONASTERY WITH CARVING.]

Apart from the instruction of youth and the exposition of the law,
monks are not supposed to take an interest in mundane affairs. Their
aloofness has been exaggerated. In a country village, for example, the
monk was obviously the most learned and disinterested, very likely the
most intelligent, person. Inevitably he was sought as the arbitrator
of disputes. That monks often acted in that capacity, I have found
abundant evidence in old documents produced before me in court. Some
of these went back a hundred years, when the country was quite free
from foreign influence, and cannot be regarded as indicating degeneracy
of the monastic order. Again, it has been said that the authority
of monks depended solely on their personal qualities and religious
character, that it had no secular sanction. As regards Upper Burma
in the King’s time, nothing can be farther from the truth. Buddhist
ecclesiastics relied on the arm of flesh. The King and his officers
promptly and effectually enforced the commands of the hierarchy. Laymen
were severely punished for ecclesiastical offences, and recalcitrant
monks were imprisoned within the precincts of a pagoda, or compelled to
do acts of penance. In early days in Mandalay one Deputy Commissioner
essayed to maintain the ancient rule, and to give effect to monastic
sentences. Unfortunately this good practice could not last. Now the
hierarchy complain that, as Government will not enforce discipline,
authority is waning, with disastrous results. The most that the Courts
have found possible is to give effect to decisions of duly constituted
religious tribunals in disputes of a civil nature between members of
the order. Another instance of the interference of monks in worldly
affairs, their almost invariable complicity in political intrigues,
has been already mentioned. The Kinwun Mingyi himself emerged from a
monastery to take part in the rebellion which placed Mindôn Min on the
throne.

On the whole, in Upper Burma as we found it, the monks constituted a
respectable body, including many learned and devout persons. I do
not pretend that all were immaculate. Doubtless there were idle and
dissolute monks. One hears from Burmans themselves of some who were
monks by day and who at night threw off the yellow robe and ranged
the town. Some of them dabbled in magic and alchemy. A really pious
monk could hardly become a dacoit chief. But the great majority
honestly lived up to their profession. The fact that the vows were not
irrevocable tended to prevent the occurrence of scandals sometimes
incident to monastic life. Complete liberty of renunciation lessened
temptation to break the vows. It was always open to a monk to return
to the world and, as it was phrased, again to become a man. Even if
a shadow of discredit attached to a monk who had come out (twet),
it was faint and transitory. In a land where life is simple and
much concealment impossible, no body of men who lived unworthily
could retain the respect of all classes. Every layman, from the
King downwards, treated monks as superior beings. I have seen the
Kinwun Mingyi lean out of his carriage and pay the graceful Burmese
reverence[180] to a humble passing monk.

In Upper Burma the fine flower of Buddhism flourished. The monastic
system was elaborately organized. At the head was the Thathanabaing;
under him were Gaing-ôks, Gaingdauks, and Taik-ôks,[181] in due
succession and subordination. The Thathanabaing was not, as some
suppose, elected; he was appointed by the King. In former days his
authority prevailed throughout Burma. As by degrees fragments of the
country became British territory, the Thathanabaing’s jurisdiction
naturally shrank, being restricted to the King’s dominions. Even if for
no other reason, it was impossible for British officers to recognize in
Lower Burma the authority of a monk who lived in Ava or Mandalay, and
owed his power and appointment to a foreign monarch. Consequently the
bonds of discipline were relaxed. Monks and laity in Lower Burma were
as sheep without a shepherd. Heresies and schisms rent the Buddhist
Church. The influence of monks waned perceptibly. Buddhism was and is
still a living creed in Lower Burma. But it cannot be pretended that it
is so vital and beneficent a force as even now in the Upper districts.
Similarly, as already indicated, monastic education declined. The
absence of ecclesiastical control has caused some deterioration of
character in Lower Burma.

The policy of the Government of India has always been to observe strict
neutrality in religious matters, to interest itself in no form of
creed. All education directed by Government has been rigidly secular.
It is now felt by many that this policy, however well-intentioned,
was mistaken, that in allowing, or even encouraging education to be
exclusively secular, Government has done much to sap the foundations of
morality and loyalty, to undermine the basis of character. Probably the
right course would have been not to stand aloof from the divers creeds
of the Empire, but to take an active interest in all, and to see that
each had fair play and encouragement. For a Christian Government to do
this would have been difficult; most likely the attempt would not have
been tolerated by public opinion at home. So far as India is concerned,
the tiresome thing about public opinion in England is that, where
interest might be beneficial, it cannot be roused; while in some vital
matter in which only the man on the spot has materials for judging, the
British public, or its spokesmen, insist on interfering. (How pleasant
would it be, for instance, to see on newspaper posters such legends
as--

    ANOTHER WRONG TO BURMA.

    BURMA’S SAD FINANCIAL STATE.

How unlikely we are to see them!) Perhaps of the two mistakes lack
of interest is the less mischievous. Recently we have made a step in
advance. Religious teaching in State schools has been permitted; all
pupils may receive instruction in the creeds which they profess.

Sir Charles Bernard recognized the value of monastic influence,
and did his best to enlist it on the side of law and order. It was
particularly desirable that monks should be discouraged from taking
part in political agitation. It was also hoped that the monastic
system of education might be maintained and strengthened in sympathy
with our own Education Department. At the time of the annexation the
Thathanabaing was a weak but well-meaning person who had been King
Thebaw’s tutor. The Chief Commissioner interviewed him in person and
essayed to excite his enthusiasm for the new Government. In recognition
of the part taken by monks in secular education, monthly gifts of rice
were sent to the Thathanabaing and his trusted counsellors, the Pă-kán
and Hladwe Sadaws. The Thathanabaing was induced to visit Rangoon with
a view to the extension of his authority over Lower Burma. Government
provided for his journey, which was made in some state with a long
train of monks. He was received with rapture at Prome and in Rangoon;
and a rest-house (zayat) for him and his successors was built on the
slope of the Shwe Dagôn Pagoda. The effort was ineffectual. Neither
that Thathanabaing nor his successors have exercised any power in Lower
Burma, which still remains in a state of reprobation. Another attempt
was made to conciliate Buddhist sympathy. Many monasteries and other
religious buildings had been used by troops and others for Government
purposes, and some damage had been done. All over the country monks
had hospitably received and entertained our officers, and had raised
no objection to the necessary temporary use of sacred buildings. As a
compensation for disturbance and damage, a substantial sum of money
was disbursed to a large number of monks. As monks may not touch gold
or silver, the actual coins were placed in the hands of lay followers.
These well-meant efforts had, I fear, no appreciable effect. The
Thathanabaing had not the authority, even if he had the will, to
control and direct his monks by moral force alone. Monks were civil
to British officers, often glad to have the protection of a military
post; but they did not go out of their way to preach submission to an
heretical Government. It is hardly to be expected that they would do so.

[Illustration: THE THATHA-NA-BAING.]

After this Thathanabaing had condescended to return, as runs the
Burmese euphemism for the death of a monk, it was some years before
Government made up its mind as to the appointment of a successor. No
one could lawfully be Thathanabaing unless appointed by the ruling
power. But it was contrary to established principle for Government
to appoint a Buddhist ecclesiastic. For some years the monastic
world was given up to anarchy. At last it was decided that, though
Government could not appoint, it might recognize; and though it could
not give material aid, it might lend moral support. To ascertain the
monk who would be generally acceptable, an election was held. This
device has now been adopted on two or three occasions, so that people
have begun to believe that it was always customary. The last two
holders of the office have been formally recognized by the Government
of Burma; the present Thathanabaing received a sanad[182] from the
Lieutenant-Governor. He is a monk of learning, and particular suavity
of manner and disposition. While maintaining due reserve and dignity,
he has always been on excellent terms with Government and its officers.
He has loyally exercised his influence on the side of law and order,
and has tried to smooth the path of the Education Department, anxious
to link the monastic with the Government system. Without posing as
liberal or progressive, he has been wise and conciliatory. In later
years my personal relations with the Thathanabaing were extremely
cordial. Once he honoured me by his presence at a garden-party in
Mandalay. This was, I think, an unprecedented occasion. On the lovely
lawn fringing the moat he sat, surrounded by yellow-robed counsellors,
the centre of a picturesque circle, watched with reverence by Burmese,
with respectful interest by European and Indian, guests. Among my most
treasured possessions is a rosary which he sent me, with a charming
farewell letter, when I left the Province.

The order of Buddhist nuns must not be forgotten. They are comparatively
few in number, and, though regarded with respect, do not seem to
exercise special influence. Living sometimes in seclusion, sometimes in
communities, they occupy no prominent place. Their lives are spent in
meditation and devotion, free from secular cares. Often when stricken
by a great sorrow a woman becomes a nun, and adheres to her profession
for the rest of her life. Innocent, harmless ladies, if they are not
active in good works their passive piety is a gracious example. A nun
whom you meet in the road has a pleasing habit of invoking a blessing
as you pass.

Buddhism as professed by the Burmese is of a high and pure type. In
Burma, and in Burma alone throughout India,[183] Buddhism is a vital
force. The suggestion that religion is in danger, or that monks have
been ill-used, is the surest way to rouse popular feeling. The ethics
of Buddhism are as lofty and inspiring as those of any faith in the
world. Obviously Burmans do not invariably shape their lives in strict
accordance with the precepts of the law. But in spite of failings and
shortcomings, the spiritual and moral force of their religion sheds a
penetrating influence on national life and character. Though its every
rule may be daily violated, Buddhism does tend to make Burmans humane,
tolerant, kind-hearted, charitable. All Burmans are well-grounded in
the mysteries of their faith. When they sin, they sin against light
and conscience. In all but the most abandoned, traces of the good
influence of their religion are evident. One very pleasing effect
is extension of benevolence in theory always, in practice often, to
every sentient being. Consider, for instance, the kindly attitude
of Burmans to lower animals. From the plump bullocks which draw the
primitive, creaking[184] carts of the country to the pariah dogs
which swarm in every village, or the pigs which used to scavenge the
streets of Mandalay (whose chase, not by the Burmese, was the only form
of pig-sticking known in Burma), all are objects of compassion and
care. The Burman’s robust bullocks, nourished on their mothers’ milk,
contrast pleasingly with the lean kine of the Indian. You will even
see a pious Burman save a deadly snake from destruction, and set it
loose in a place of security. This, perhaps, is an extreme instance of
logical regard for principle.

Signs of the extent to which religion forms part of everyday life
strike the most casual observer. The country is full of pagodas,
monasteries, theins,[185] images of the Buddha, zayats. Pagodas vary in
size from the stately Shwe Dagôn to the humble fane on the outskirts
of a village. It may be worth while to explain that a pagoda is not
a temple in which worshippers pay their devotions. It is a solid
structure, often built over sacred relics, of varying type, the most
prevalent being that of the great pagoda at Rangoon. Some pagodas are
richly gilded, others merely whitewashed. Each is crowned with a ti,
if possible studded with jewels. The very topmost pinnacle is often
an inverted soda-water bottle, a primitive shield against lightning.
Monks must have monasteries. These also differ in glory, from the great
buildings, richly ornamented with carving covered with gold, founded by
the King or Queen or some high official, which adorn the royal city,
to the mat and thatched hut which shelters the poor village monk. A
Burman who amasses wealth, the farmer who has an abundant harvest
and good prices, the merchant whose venture has been successful, the
rich broker or money-lender, does not hoard his gains. He spends them
on jewels for his wife and daughters, on silks for these ladies and
himself, on building a monastery, or a pagoda, a zayat, incidentally on
a pwè[186] or an ahlu.[187] The builder of a pagoda is a Paya-taga, of
a monastery a Kyaung-taga, honorific titles in familiar use, as common
as the title of Colonel is said to be in the United States. Laymen are
associated in religious observances. A monastery has a lay attendant,
a Kappiya-taga, who makes it his business to see that the building is
maintained and duly swept and garnished. Every eighth day is set apart
by the pious for religious observances, for meditation, for visiting
a pagoda, for attendance at a monastery to hear the Law expounded.
Each year there is a long Lenten period (Wa), when abstinence and
religious practices are enjoined on the faithful, when good Buddhists
refrain from marrying, when monks remain secluded in their monasteries,
undertaking no journeys. A monk reckons his monastic life by the
number of Lents he has observed. All this sounds rather gloomy, and
in theory Buddhism ought to have a depressing effect. It teaches the
transitoriness and mutability of this world and of all human things.
No personal God smiles on his worshippers or listens to their prayers.
This life is an evil in itself, a period to be spent in the acquisition
of merit, in preparation for the ascent to a higher plane. The goal
of every man’s striving is the blessed rest of Nirvana (Neikban), a
state, not of annihilation, but of rest for many ages from passion
and all transitory disturbance. For even the rest of Nirvana is not
eternal. After many æons, it may be, the unceasing round begins again.
The practical effect of this austere creed is quite different. Nowhere
is there a more gay and light-hearted people. To balance the days and
months of abstinence, religious festivals are of frequent occurrence.
Then the roads are crowded with cart-loads of merry holiday-makers.
Pagoda platforms are filled with bright-clad, laughing throngs. Pwès
and all national sports are celebrated. On every side are gaiety and
good-humour, the basis of religion underlying all. It is not for me to
attempt to explain these apparent inconsistencies.

The people in general soon made up their minds that there was no
intention of interfering with their religion. And, in spite of isolated
instances, the monks accepted the new order with resignation, if not
with enthusiasm. The tolerant spirit of Buddhism pervades all classes.
Strangers wander unmolested and without meeting scowling looks in the
precincts of pagodas and holy places; they are welcome to explore the
recesses of monasteries, observing only common politeness and decorum.
You are not expected to take off your shoes on reaching the sacred
limits of a pagoda or monastery. Ordinary courtesy doubtless impels you
to remove your hat in a sacred building. It is not really correct to
walk across the sleeping mat of a Sadaw,[188] as I saw done by a lady
who should have known better. The Sadaw only laughed, recognizing that
no offence was meant.

Pagodas and sacred images are left to the care of the people
themselves, tempered by the benevolent patronage of the Archæological
Survey. In too many cases these buildings and objects are left to the
process of natural decay. It seems to be somewhat more meritorious to
build a new shrine than to keep in repair an existing fabric. Probably
the builder of a new pagoda, for instance, earns all the merit for
himself, while a restorer shares it with the original founder. In the
case of edifices of special sanctity or conspicuous antiquarian or
architectural interest, arrangements have been made, at the instigation
of Government, to vest the property and management in legally appointed
trustees. The care and maintenance of sacred buildings and the due
appropriation of pious offerings are thus assured. Not only for the
Shwe Dagôn Pagoda and the Arakan Pagoda at Rangoon and Mandalay
respectively, but for many shrines of less fame, trustees have been
appointed. This is the best way of securing the preservation of
religious buildings of inestimable interest.

One of the most striking personalities in modern Burmese Buddhism is
the Ledi Sadaw. This remarkable man devoted some years of his life to
travelling through the country preaching and exhorting. His passionate
eloquence drew immense congregations. Wherever he went he was greeted
by enraptured throngs. Men and women vied in adoration of this saintly
personage, women loosing their hair and spreading it as a carpet for
his holy feet. His fervour and fiery zeal effected real revivals,
whether lasting or transitory I dare not say. Besides addressing public
assemblies, he obtained leave to enter jails and preach reformation
to the prisoners, apparently with good results.[189] In spite of the
extraordinary enthusiasm which he inspired and the honours thrust
upon him in his triumphal progress, he preserved unstained and
flawless, simplicity and humility of character. We are not wont to
regard with favour errant monks preaching here and there. Too often
their exhortations have tended to sedition, their liberty has been a
cloak for licence. Never for a moment did the Ledi Sadaw fall under a
shadow of suspicion as to the purity of his motives and conduct, or
the good intention of his pilgrimage. The ethical part of his sermons
consisted of fervent denunciations of intemperance, drinking, gambling,
opium-smoking, the pleasant vices most devastating among Burmans. In
no way inspired by any Government officer, he did not hold aloof from
the authorities, but desired to be on good terms with them. Speaking
to Colonel Maxwell,[190] who more than most of us won the intimate
confidence of Burmans, in all simplicity he said:

“I am not sure that Government will approve my preaching. There will be
much loss of revenue; for when I have finished, all liquor and opium
shops will be closed for want of custom.”

With a clear conscience the Commissioner bade him go on and prosper,
assuring him that Government would be well pleased if so desirable
a result could be attained. The promised millennium has not yet
arrived. While heartily approving the Sadaw, we did not think it
expedient to make our approval conspicuous, lest plausibly, though
falsely, the suggestion might be made that he was an agent of the
Asoya.[191] A travelling set of the Buddhist scriptures was the only
mark of Government’s appreciation. I had the privilege of one interview
with this extraordinary man. What chiefly impressed me was his weary
expression, as though the working of the fiery spirit had worn out the
frail tenement of the body. I am glad to hear that the Sadaw still
lives, and that his preaching days are not over.

One of the last incidents of my residence in Burma may fitly conclude
this discursive chapter. Early in 1910 we were privileged to
receive what are believed to be genuine relics of the Buddha. They
were discovered by the Archæological Survey near Peshawar. Their
authenticity has, I believe, been doubted. I hope I am not, to use the
happy phrase of an Irish friend, more prone than most men to swallow
mares’-nests. But to me the evidence of the genuine character of the
relics seems reasonably convincing. It was my fortunate lot to be
instrumental in securing the despatch of these precious remains to
Burma, where alone, as I have said, the pure spirit of Buddhism still
reigns; and to be present when, with due solemnity, at Government
House in Calcutta, the Viceroy graciously entrusted the casket and its
priceless contents to a deputation sent from Burma to receive them.
The relics were welcomed in Rangoon with demonstrations of pious
enthusiasm, and brought by a long procession to the Shwe Dagôn Pagoda,
where, for some days, they were exhibited for the edification of the
faithful. Thence they were taken to Mandalay and placed in the care of
the elders of the Arakan Pagoda till a separate suitable shrine can be
erected in custody of a duly constituted trust.

[Illustration: A MONASTERY.]



CHAPTER XII

UNDER SIR CHARLES CROSTHWAITE, 1887-1890


Mr. C. H. T. Crosthwaite, soon afterwards Sir Charles Crosthwaite,
K.C.S.I., succeeded Sir Charles Bernard. He came enjoying the
confidence of the Viceroy, and in just expectation of the support
of the Government of India. Taking in hand at once the settlement
of the country, in the next four years he devoted his remarkable
administrative genius to the completion of the task. I cannot
becomingly express in full my humble appreciation and admiration of Sir
Charles Crosthwaite and the great work which he accomplished in Burma.
I hope it is not presumptuous of me to say that as an administrator
he ranks in the very highest class of Indian Statesmen, and is at
this moment by far the most distinguished member of our Service.
Never sparing himself, in those eventful years he initiated, guided,
directed, controlled. In his officers he inspired enthusiasm; we would
have fallen in harness to serve him or win his approval. We were always
sure of strong and efficient support, and had no fear, if things went
wrong, of being thrown to the dogs. Sir Charles Crosthwaite came to
a land still torn by internal strife; he left it a peaceful and
prosperous Province. I speak of what I know, for from first to last it
was my privilege to work immediately under him, to see the pulse of the
machine. Let those who wish to understand turn to the book[192] wherein
the story of the pacification is modestly told by the chief actor in
the drama.

Early in March, 1887, the Chief Commissioner came to Mandalay,
retaining for a short time the separate Secretariat for Upper Burma.
Wisely distrusting the sanitary conditions of the palace, he took up
his quarters in a small house built on the city wall, intended as the
residence of a military police officer. It consisted of two or three
rooms under one of the pyathats.[193] On the first evening after the
Chief Commissioner’s arrival we waited some time for dinner, as the
roof of the cook-room was blown off by a sudden gale. Since those days
the building has expanded, and has become a respectable Government
House. Thanks to the good taste of the Chief Engineer, Mr. H. J.
Richard, Burmese style has been preserved. The pyathat is the centre
of a range of buildings which might be a monastery or a section of the
Palace. Thus the house is a picturesque feature in the landscape, not
an outrage. With the moat and a stretch of green lawn on one side, and
pretty gardens on the other, commanding a fine view of Mandalay Hill
and the rugged western hillocks, it has every æsthetic quality. It
may be whispered that it is more beautiful to see than comfortable to
inhabit.

Sir Charles Crosthwaite’s first tour was undertaken for the purpose of
visiting the Ruby Mines district, then recently occupied. A military
station had been established on a lofty, somewhat bleak plateau, and
honoured with the name of Bernardmy̆o. The civil headquarters were at
Mogôk, the centre of the ruby mines. Reaching Ky̆an-hny̆at by steamer,
we rode to Sagadaung, at the foot of the hills, breakfasting midway
with Mr. R. C. Stevenson,[194] the subdivisional officer. The Chief
Commissioner’s party consisted of the Personal Assistant[195] and
myself. At Sagadaung it was found that all the servants, panic-stricken
at the thought of plunging into savage wilds, had refused to leave the
steamer. The kit and stores had come on, but the only servants with us
were my Madrasi boy and a few chapràsis.[196] The Personal Assistant
was equal to the occasion. He invited all the officers of the Station
to dine with the Chief Commissioner, from whom the state of affairs
was concealed. “And,” said he, “as our men are rather tired, will you
let your cooks help to get dinner ready?” These assistants he supplied
with stores and necessaries, and dinner was successfully achieved.
Next morning we rode up the hill to Bernardmy̆o, where we were kindly
made honorary members of the mess and lodged as handsomely as Service
conditions allowed. I slept in a commissariat godown,[197] with the
wind, cold even in April, whistling through the openings in the boarded
floor. After a day or two we rode on to Mogôk, through lovely evergreen
forest which still shades the bridle-path. There we were guests of the
Deputy Commissioner, the late Mr. G. M. S. Carter, who cherished us
till we reached the river and our steamer once more. Never, I ween, not
even in the Spartan days of Sir Arthur Phayre, did a Chief Commissioner
make an official tour in his Province with only a third of a boy and a
stray chapràsi or two as bearer,[198] khitmagar,[199] and cook.

The Ruby Mines Company was still in embryo, but the syndicate out of
which it was evolved had established a footing, and Mr. F. Atlay, who
still manages its affairs, was already installed. The quest for rubies
was prosecuted by the hereditary miners, who worked by primitive native
methods. In the King’s time rubies were, naturally, a royal monopoly,
and any stone of exceptional value was a royal perquisite. The most
illustrious stone on record was called, after its finder, Chin Nga
Mauk. The lucky man himself took it to the Palace, and was privileged
to lay it at the King’s feet. As a reward he was allowed to take
away a cart-load of whatever he liked from the Palace. The legend of
the discovery of the mines may be told. Passing through a desolate,
unpeopled land, a wayfarer saw a vulture swoop from a solitary rock
and pick up a piece of, as it seemed to wayfarer and apparently to
vulture, raw red flesh. Surprised at such a phenomenon in a waste
place, the traveller investigated, and found the earth strewn with
lovely glittering red stones, thenceforth known as the rubies of
commerce. The truth of the story is proved by the existence to this
day of the rock on which the vulture perched. Times have changed, and
rubies are no longer picked up on the surface. Nor are they found
embedded in the stone walls of Aladdin’s caves. They are extracted by
washing from ruby-bearing earth (by̆ôn), which is borne in trucks to
the Company’s washing sheds. Each truck contains, I suppose, about
twelve cubic feet of earth; the average value is about one shilling.
But any load may produce a stone worth a King’s ransom. Besides the
scientific operations of the company, mining by native methods is
still practised. The rights of hereditary miners are preserved. They
pursue the quest after the manner of their fathers, on payment of a
moderate licence-fee. The very poor, mostly women, may glean in the
beds of streams without any restriction. Ruby-mining was a profitable
business, with a pleasing element of chance. Some lucky miners amassed
large fortunes. Even the common people were affluent. The smallest coin
current in the bazaar was a silver two-anna (2d.) piece. Coppers were
unknown. In later days the Chief Commissioner or Lieutenant-Governor’s
receptions at Mogôk were ceremonies of much splendour. Followed by
scores of mounted men who came to meet him, he rode through the town
under triumphal arches gleaming with silken banners, past lines of
cheering spectators, groups of dancers, and cymbal-clashing musickers,
while pretty, shy Shan girls peeped from the casements. An incident
of one of these visits, though it has nothing to do with rubies or
ceremonious receptions, may be recorded by way of comic relief. The
scene was the parade-ground; the occasion, an inspection of the
Military Police Battalion; the time, the end of summer. The ground was
wet and slippery from an early unexpected shower. After the accustomed
evolutions, the Commandant, an exceptionally smart, well-turned-out
officer, came galloping up to the Lieutenant-Governor, and as he
essayed to pull up within a yard of that august personage his pony
slipped and deposited him in the mud at his feet. Nowise abashed, he
rose, gravely saluted: “Would you like to see anything else, sir?” “No,
thank you,” was the equally grave reply. And the incident closed, to
their credit, be it told, not one of the staff moving a muscle. As the
story goes, they waited to laugh till they got home.

On our return from the first visit, our baggage borne on mules, we
rode to Thabeik-kyin along a mule-track following approximately the
line of the present road. The narrow path wound through and about the
hills, often with a yawning precipice on one hand, a wall of rock on
the other. But that the road is broad and smooth, in many respects it
resembles the old path. Ponies have still a horrid habit of hugging
the cliff’s edge, and one rides with a leg suspended over the abyss.
To meet a train of pack-bullocks charging down the pass is a trying
experience. So, too, is the ascent in a motor-car with a driver
learning his work. Green forest covers the hillsides and luxuriates in
the valleys, brilliant with many-coloured blooms. The cicala fills the
open spaces with sound, so great a noise by so small a body. It was
then all new and full of interest. The beauty of the landscape charmed
every step of the march. Our guide was a handsome ruffian, Bo Aw, as
picturesque as the scene, who rode ahead in Shan dress, his flapping
straw hat decked with gay streamers. Afterwards he returned to the life
of a dacoit, and, I fear, came to a bad end.

Soon after this, the Mandalay Secretariat ceased to exist as a separate
branch, one Secretariat, with a Chief Secretary, Secretary, Junior
Secretary, and Assistant Secretary, being constituted in Rangoon for
the whole Province. Mr. Symes became Chief Secretary, but, worn out
by many labours, went on leave, Mr. Donald Smeaton[200] coming from
India to act for him. I became Secretary, and Mr. C. G. Bayne, Junior
Secretary. The anomalous post of Special Commissioner was abolished,
Mr. Hodgkinson going to Moulmein as Commissioner. Mr. Smeaton was not
new to the Province. Some years before he had come to Burma to fill the
newly created office of Revenue Secretary and Director of Agriculture.
In that capacity he had devised and organized the Supplementary Survey
system, afterwards called the Land Records Department. This was, I
believe, an entirely original scheme, of which the design was to keep
land records and maps up to date, year by year, so as to obviate the
labour of re-survey whenever a Settlement had to be revised. In theory
the plan was admirable; its practical success has not been perfect,
partly, I think, because the establishment was inadequate. Mr. Smeaton
also organized and set to work the first regular Settlement Parties in
Burma. From 1887 onwards he served as Chief Secretary, Commissioner,
and Financial Commissioner, failing, however, in the end to attain the
high office for which his rare abilities seemed to designate him. The
Chief Secretary took over the political department, and for a time my
association with the most interesting part of the administration was
severed. I had plenty to do in my own branches.

The Secretary was in charge of State prisoners, a few of whom,
members of the late reigning family of Delhi, still survived. The
ex-King, Bahadur Shah, who had been tried and sentenced to death for
his share in the massacre of English men and women, had been spared
the extreme penalty and sent to Rangoon, where he died in exile.
His widow, the Begam Zinath Mahal, was in Rangoon in my charge. She
and her daughter-in-law were of such exalted rank that they were
not parda-nashín[201] to English officers. More than once I saw
the old Begam who, thirty years before, had played so lurid a part
in the Mutiny. Though now of advanced age, she retained traces of
great beauty and was specially proud of her finely shaped, delicate
hands. Her beauty was of the Pit, aquiline, dark, menacing. Her son,
Prince Jăwán Băkht (P. J. Băkht, as he used quaintly to style himself
on his visiting cards), the direct representative of the Moguls,
lived in Rangoon with his wife, Shah Zamani Begam, of the race of
Nadir Shah, the Persian Conqueror. Jăwán Băkht was not of specially
marked character, amiable and harmless. His wife was a lady of charm
and dignity, worthy of her lofty lineage. In her youth beautiful
exceedingly, time had but little marred that lovely face. Poor lady,
she was totally blind, but the disease which had darkened her sight
left no disfigurement and hardly dimmed the lustre of her radiant eyes.
She spoke the purest Urdu, in liquid tones sweeter than any I have ever
heard in that graceful tongue. Beyond words pathetic it was to see and
converse with this lady of a great family, keeping to the last the
pride of her race and station, with every mark of a gentle and gracious
disposition, reduced to comparative poverty, and sharing without a
murmur the hard lot of the last scion of a fallen dynasty. Jăwán Băkht
and Shah Zamani Begam have long been gathered to their fathers. Their
son and daughter, Mirza Jamshíd Băkht and Ronak Begam, last of the line
of Babar and Akbar and Aurangzíb, still live in Rangoon in receipt
of miserable stipends. It is true that the decadent Moguls did not
deserve well at our hands. Bahadur Shah and Zinath Mahal were treated
even more leniently than they merited. But their surviving descendants
are innocent of complicity in their crimes. Politically, they have
never given the slightest trouble; Mohammedans seem hardly aware of
their existence. Somewhat more generous treatment might be accorded
them. Their pensions might be made sufficient to enable them to live in
reasonable comfort.

Another interesting State pensioner, not a prisoner, was Prince Hassan,
adopted son of Sultan Suleiman, leader of the Panthay[202] rebellion
in Yunnan. When, finally overthrown, Suleiman died by his own hand
to avoid capture, Hassan luckily was in Rangoon. There he stayed for
the rest of his life, in receipt of an allowance from the Indian
Government. Precisely on what grounds the grant to Hassan of a pension
from Indian revenues was justified, I have never clearly understood.
But all who knew him must be glad that any technical difficulties
were overcome. Most charming and courteous of men, Hassan was in some
respects the most attractive of the native notables of my acquaintance.
He spent his time quietly in study, occasionally paying the Secretary
a friendly visit. Ronak Begam became his wife. Some years later, after
many wanderings and much tribulation, the Panthay wife of his youth,
whom he had believed to be dead, appeared and resumed her natural
position in his house. Ronak Begam, who could hardly be expected to
take the second place, returned to her family. Hassan died some years
ago. There are a good many Panthays in Upper Burma, principally in
Mandalay, Bhamo, Mogôk, and the Shan States, sturdy men of stalwart
stature and agreeable manners, assiduous traders, and good citizens.
With several I was on friendly terms. My best friend among them one
day brought his very aged and wrinkled mother to see me and bade her
shake hands. The old dame obeyed, but pudically covered her hand with a
kerchief before clasping mine.

For a few months in 1888 I acted as Commissioner of the Northern
Division, the second officer to hold that appointment. Including the
royal city, the Katha district on the borders of Wuntho, the Ruby
Mines, the Kachin Hills, the China frontier, the division has always
seemed the most interesting in the Province. To me who had been
associated with Mandalay from the beginning, the position was specially
attractive. The place was full of my Burmese friends by whom I was
cordially welcomed. The appointment was temporary, though at first this
was not the Chief Commissioner’s intention. As a somewhat maladroit
acquaintance, meeting me at the club on my arrival, frankly said: “Of
course, you will be here only till a senior man can be sent.” It was
true, but he need not have rubbed it in.

Unlike most other officers, Commissioners draw a fixed monthly
travelling allowance. It is therefore a point of honour with them to
spend a good deal of time away from headquarters. In the Northern
Division the cost of travelling was high, and the monthly allowance
was never a source of profit. An early tour brought me to Bhamo, after
being nearly swamped by a sudden squall. Signs of violence were still
common. The Captain of the steamer assured me that quite lately he
had seen corpses floating down the river “dreadfully emancipated.” At
Bhamo I was shocked to find that the day before my arrival Bo Ti, one
of the rebel leaders of Mogaung, had escaped from the primitive wooden
jail. He was never recaptured. With him went a young Indian who was
under trial for attempting to murder the Colonel of a native regiment.
The Colonel I found convalescent. He was a hard man, and sepoys had
often threatened to shoot him. As he was shaving one morning he felt
a shock, and knew that he was wounded. Thinking that the threat had
been carried out, the stout old man said to himself, “They shan’t know
they have hit me,” and went on shaving. It was really his own servant,
who from behind had slashed him with a sword. Owing to the Colonel’s
grim determination not to let the sepoy know that he had scored, his
assailant got in another blow. This is the story as I heard it. The
Colonel, a bulky, muscular man, recovered from wounds which would
probably have killed one of slighter build. It was doubtless by the
agency of this young Indian that the guard of the jail was corrupted
and the prisoner’s escape facilitated. He, too, made his way to the
Kachin country, and was never caught. Vague rumours of his presence in
the frontier fights of the next few years were current. I hope he did
not have a very good time in the hills.

A story of Bhamo of later years may be told here. A military police
sepoy ran “amuck,” as they say. Armed with a rifle and well supplied
with ammunition, he took possession of a masonry house, and from a
casement amused himself by shooting at anyone who came in sight. The
house was duly surrounded by police, and the Deputy Commissioner and
District Superintendent came down. It did not occur to them to summon
infantry and guns from the neighbouring fort, or to fire volleys at the
brick walls. The Superintendent, Mr. H. F. Hertz,[203] obtained a rough
description of the interior of the house, and entered it from next
door. Groping in the semi-darkness characteristic of native houses,
he made his way to the room next to that held by the sepoy. Hearing a
sound, the sepoy half-opened the door and thrust out his rifle. Pushing
the rifle aside with one hand, Mr. Hertz shot the man dead with his
revolver, receiving a slight wound in the encounter. This is the way
these things are managed in Burma.

Bhamo was then the headquarters of the district which included the
country bordering on China and Tibet, all the present Myitkyina
district, Mogaung, and the Jade Mines. The column under Major C. H. E.
Adamson, which visited Mogaung and the Jade Mines, had just returned,
having secured the submission of Kansi La and Kansi Naung, the Kachin
chiefs of the Jade Mines tract.[204] Soon afterwards occurred the
assault on Mogaung, gallantly repulsed by Gurkha military police
under Captain Hugh O’Donnell[205] and Mr. Lawrence Eliott. Close to
China, from which it is separated by a range of hills, Bhamo is filled
by a strange variety of races. Chinese, stalwart traders of Yunnan;
Panthays, survivors of the great rebellion; Shans, Shan-Chinese,
Shan-Burmans, Kachins of many divers tribes, give life and colour and
speak a Babel of tongues in the bazaar. Driving along one of the roads
leading out of the town, the traveller is impressed by a sign-post
bearing the legend--

    TO CHINA.

Not many miles away the peaks of the Kachin Hills rise in the eastern
sky. Across these hills come caravans[206] from T’Êngyüeh (Momien) and
Manwaing, in those days paying toll to the Kachins for leave to pass.
Through these hills marched the ill-fated Margary before he attempted
his fatal return journey. Through them in later days, with happier
omens, walked Dr. Morrison at the end of his adventurous pilgrimage. A
few miles below the town of Bhamo the Irrawaddy runs through a narrow,
rock-bound gorge known as the Second Defile. Conspicuous on the right
bank looms the tall Elephant Rock, crowned by a small golden pagoda.
I have had the rare experience of passing through the defile by the
light of the full moon. The silver light on the towering crags, the
silence and the solitude, created an effect full of mystery and charm.
Emerging from the defile, we reach the town of Shwegu, whence, gazing
on the sunset painting with gorgeous colours the western hills, one
realizes “the incomparable pomp of eve.” Above Bhamo the river pierces
a still more gloomy, precipitous, whirlpool-haunted gorge, the First
Defile. In the dry months, from November to April, this defile is
navigable by launches, and with reasonable care the passage can be made
without risk. In the rains it is closed to all traffic except that of
country boats and timber rafts. Once, long ago, two gallant officers
came through in a launch as late as May. They had no wish to repeat
the experiment. When in full flood, to traverse the defile even in a
boat is an adventure requiring nerve and skill. On the upward course
the boat is towed laboriously for many weary days. If the rope slips,
the work of days may be lost in a few minutes. Down-stream the journey
is far more rapid and even more hazardous. I do not think any British
officer has been drowned in the defile, but several of my friends
have lost their baggage. At least one launch lies in its fathomless
depths. At any time the passage through the defile is full of interest
and excitement. Nothing can surpass the wild beauty of its winding,
rock-bound course. Here, in mid-stream, a sharp boulder has to be
shunned; there careful steering is needed lest the vessel be spun round
in a whirlpool; now we seem to be driving straight against a wall of
stone. To leave Burma without traversing the First Defile is to miss
one of the sights of the world.

Another tour led me across the Shwebo district, then in the Northern
Division, where my old friend Mr. B. K. S. MacDermott was in charge.
The township officer was Maung Tun, K.S.M., afterwards Extra Assistant
Commissioner, a local officer of remarkable ability and of proved
courage and loyalty. His father, Bo Pyin, had been Wun of Shwebo, and
had retired at an advanced age. He is the man already mentioned who
shocked his pious serious-minded son by retaining his passion for the
chase.

Here is the city of Alaungpaya; here Mindôn Min raised the standard of
revolt against his brother. Shwebo was always a turbulent district,
the seed-bed of sedition; it retained that character long after the
annexation. At this time it was fairly quiet; we rode through it with
a moderate escort. As we left the town we saw approaching a long line
of Burmans, in carts and on foot, men, women, and children. “All these
people,” said the Deputy Commissioner with pride, “are coming in to
my new bazaar.” On inquiry, we ascertained that they were really all
coming in to be vaccinated. This is an example of the good sense and
lack of prejudice so often found among Burmans. Years before, the
people of Pantanaw had begged for a vaccinator. If proper facilities
were provided, the whole population of Burma could be vaccinated
without recourse to compulsion. Only the inefficiency and corruption
of an underpaid staff and the untrustworthy quality of the lymph have
retarded this desirable consummation. I am glad to say that these
defects have now been, or are in process of being, remedied.

From Shwebo we crossed the Katha district and came to Kawlin on the
verge of the Shan State of Wuntho.[207] This State, inconveniently
situated in the midst of regularly administered districts, was
left under its native chief till the year 1891. Shortly before the
annexation the Sawbwa, a capable truculent man, had been transferred
as Wun to Mogaung for the purpose of suppressing a Kachin rising. He
accomplished the task with devastating completeness. In Wuntho he
was succeeded by his son, a timid creature quite unlike the savage
swashbuckler who begot him. Vain efforts had been made to induce the
young chief to meet our officers, Mr. Burgess himself and the Kinwun
Mingyi having visited Wuntho for the purpose without success. Once the
Sawbwa did meet Mr. E. P. Cloney, Extra Assistant Commissioner. The
issue was unfortunate. At the conference, owing to a misunderstanding,
a tumult arose and the Shan retainers drew their swords. Mr. Cloney’s
life would have been sacrificed but for the presence of mind of the
Sawbwa, who clasped him in his arms and shielded him from attack. This
is the solitary occasion on which the Sawbwa showed any sign of courage
or resolution. Only once again he met a British officer, Mr. H. F. P.
Hall,[208] afterwards Assistant Commissioner. Though I went to Wuntho
with only half a dozen sowars, the Sawbwa declined the meeting and
bolted to his remote fortress at Pinlebu. When, owing to the survey of
the projected railway-line, the long-existing tension became acute,
the Sawbwa, after wantonly attacking the adjacent districts, fled with
his father to China. The old man is dead. The son survives in exile
in Yunnan, having long ceased to be an object of apprehension or of
interest to the Burma Government. The State of Wuntho is merged in the
Katha district.

From August, 1888, till the end of 1890, I acted as Chief Secretary,
Mr. C. G. Bayne being Secretary, and in succession Mr. A. S. Fleming,
Mr. F. C. Gates,[209] and Mr. D. H. R. Twomey,[210] Junior (or Under)
Secretary. These were years of abnormal stress in the office, which
was still undermanned. The appointment of Mr. Fryer to be Financial
Commissioner afforded us some relief. But though a good deal of his
work was done in direct communication with the Chief Commissioner, part
of the revenue business necessarily was transacted by the Secretariat.
These were my really strenuous years. The practice of dictation to
shorthand writers was not yet in vogue; I have never acquired the
habit. Day after day, Sundays included, I did my spell of work in
office and then wrote on far into the night at home, kept awake by
coffee and protected from mosquitoes by Burman cheroots. Six hours of
sleep sufficed. Though I wrote rapidly, I was not a quick worker. I
dare say other men would have done as much with less effort. Life in
the Secretariat presented few incidents which seem worthy of record.
The real work was being done in the districts, in the Shan States, in
the Chin Hills.

These years witnessed the completion of the pacification and settlement
of Upper Burma, and what may be called the resettlement of Lower Burma.
The details of the work in Upper Burma have been described in Sir
Charles Crosthwaite’s book.[211] The organization of the military and
civil police was perfected by the administrative ability of General
Stedman, the Inspector-General, who was a tower of strength to the
Government. Dacoit bands were dispersed, their leaders captured or
killed, the rank and file in many cases allowed to surrender and
return to their homes on suitable terms. Admirable, unobtrusive work
was done by military, civil, and police officers, who by degrees bore
down opposition and broke the forces of disorder. The most potent
instrument in the final establishment of settled administration was the
village law planned by Sir Charles Crosthwaite himself. This invaluable
enactment created the village as the unit of administration, and placed
the village headman in a position of authority and responsibility. He
became the local judge and magistrate, with limited but sufficient
power to enforce his orders. As far as possible the office was
made hereditary, but the people were consulted in the appointment.
Henceforth the post, though not one of great emolument, instead of
being avoided, was eagerly sought.[212] The village law did much
more than elevate the headman. It enforced the joint responsibility
of villagers for offences committed within their borders, for stolen
property traced to the village tract. The Deputy Commissioner
was legally empowered to require villages to be duly fenced. All
able-bodied men were bound under penalties to turn out to resist any
unlawful attack. Above all, subject to carefully devised safeguards,
power was given to the local authorities to order the temporary removal
of persons found to be in sympathy with outlaws. No measure was more
efficacious than this to secure the destruction of dacoit gangs by
depriving them of support and sustenance. These are among the most
important provisions of the village law which has done more than gun
and sword to assure permanent peace. The revenue system was formalized
as far as our limited knowledge allowed on the lines of Burmese law and
custom. Meanwhile, the border lands were not neglected. Of the Shan
States some mention will be made presently. The Chins might have lived
unmolested in their hills, but they could not give up their rooted
habit of raiding villages in the plains. The plundering of peaceful
hamlets, the carrying off of living captives and the heads of the
slain, provoked inevitable reprisals. Happily the policy of slaying,
burning, and scuttling was not adopted. After laborious operations, the
Chins were thoroughly subjugated and disarmed. Military police posts
were established in their midst. They are now peaceful and amenable to
law. The names honourably associated with the arduous task of settling
these rugged hills are those of Major F. D. Raikes, C.I.E., General
Sir W. Penn Symons, Mr. B. S. Carey, C.I.E., Mr. D. Ross, Mr. D. J. C.
Macnabb,[213] Captain F. M. Rundall,[214] Mr. E. O. Fowler, and Mr. H.
N. Tuck. Here, too, Captain Le Quesne[215] won the Victoria Cross by
gallantly tending a wounded officer under fire from a stockade. The
Kachin Hills and the State of Wuntho alone remained for settlement in
later years.

No detailed story of the restoration of order in Lower Burma has
yet been given to the world; nor does it lie within the scheme of
these personal reminiscences to supply the omission. The outbreak of
disturbance at the end of 1885 has already been mentioned. For years
crime continued to be rampant. A few figures may be given. In 1886 the
number of dacoities was 2,183; in 1887, 1,387; in 1888, 695; in 1889,
332; in 1890, 181. Serious risings there were: one in Tavoy in 1888,
quelled by Colonel Adamson and Mr. Twomey; one in Sandaway, sternly
repressed by Mr. Bernard Houghton, who at the outset nearly fell a
victim to the insurgents. But in the period now under reference it was
not so much a question of dealing, as in Upper Burma, with organized
resistance on a large scale as of suppressing countless small, isolated
gangs. The strict enforcement of the Village Act, framed on the lines
indicated above, and vigorous disarmament carried out in the face of
ignorant and factious criticism, were among the most efficient means
of restoring peace. The plan of placing a defined area in charge
of a specially selected officer invested with large powers for the
suppression of crime was tried with excellent effect. Pyuntazá, in
Shwegyin, was reduced to order by Mr. Todd-Naylor, to whom the Chief
Commissioner gave a free hand with abundant support. Boldest, most
strenuous, most untiring of men, traversing vast distances with
incredible speed on the scantiest fare, facing every danger and
enduring every hardship, there, and soon afterwards in Tharrawaddy, Mr.
Todd-Naylor earned great and well-merited renown. For the first, and so
far the only, time in its history, Tharrawaddy was at rest. In every
district solid work was done, and by degrees normal conditions were
established.

An event which I recall with interest was the visit to Rangoon of
the celebrated traveller, Mr. Colborne Baber, of the China Consular
Service, deputed to Burma in connection with the proposed demarcation
of the Chinese boundary. Baber was one of the elect of travellers. Not
only did he make hazardous and scientifically important journeys, but
he also had the gift of letters, so that his records have a place in
literature. A man of genius, a born explorer, of various and versatile
accomplishments, he was, I believe, a sinologist of distinction,
and certainly a scholar of no mean attainment. Before proceeding to
Bhamo to study the boundary question on the spot, he was our guest
for some days in Rangoon. These are days of happy memory, made bright
by his luminous and inspiring talk, his distinguished and attractive
personality. He seemed to live principally on cigarettes, and cared
too little for a body not physically strong. Early in 1890 he died
at Bhamo, mainly from weakness caused by his own neglect of material
comfort. His premature death was a loss to the State, and a lasting
grief to his friends.

More than once in these two years I visited Mandalay in attendance on
the Chief Commissioner, sometimes occupying my old quarters in the
Palace, sometimes enjoying the hospitality of Government House. One
trivial incident illustrates the state of the country even close to
the capital of Upper Burma. Rather late one night a friend[216] called
me out of my quarters to go to see a fire. Having seen as many fires
as would satisfy the most morbid craving, I cannot think why this fire
attracted me. However, we went. As usual, the scene was much farther
off than we thought. Passing out of the city gate, we walked for some
miles across the fields till we came at last to a village where houses
were still blazing. It had been plundered and burnt by Bo To, the most
prominent leader then afoot in the district. The police were there
before us, and the dacoits had disappeared. As we were alone, armed
only with walking-sticks, perhaps it was lucky that we did not arrive
an hour or two sooner.

The last day of February, 1889, saw the formal opening of the railway
from Toungoo to Mandalay. The occasion was celebrated with some pomp,
Sir Charles Eliott,[217] K.C.S.I., Public Works Member, representing
the Government of India. Later in the year, during the absence of
Sir Charles Crosthwaite on privilege leave for three months, Mr. A.
P. MacDonnell,[218] Home Secretary to the Government of India, acted
as Chief Commissioner. Mr. MacDonnell was, of course, innocent of
any knowledge of the country or the people. I doubt whether this
brief interlude of administering a strange Province could have been
a satisfactory experience to him. I am under the impression that the
Chief Secretary’s work was materially increased.

At the end of 1889 Burma was honoured by the visit of His Royal
Highness Prince Albert Victor of Wales (the late Duke of Clarence), who
spent some days in Rangoon and Mandalay. The Royal visit was highly
appreciated by the Burmese, as well as by the European community, and
was celebrated with much demonstration of genuine spontaneous loyalty.
Chief of His Royal Highness’s staff was the late Sir Edward Bradford,
whose high qualities it were superfluous to praise.



CHAPTER XIII

A VISIT TO THE SHAN STATES


The Shan States occupy the whole of the eastern side of Upper Burma,
and border on French Indo-China, China, and Siam. It is sometimes
erroneously supposed that they are independent or semi-independent
States, on the same footing as native States in India. From Theinni
in the north to Mobye in the south, from the Myelat in the west to
Kyaingtôn in the far east, these States were an integral part of the
Burmese kingdom, over which the Burmese assertion of sovereignty
was never abandoned or successfully resisted. Burmese Residents and
garrisons were maintained. Though there were rebellions, revolts,
and massacres, though in King Thebaw’s time the bonds of authority
were loosened, independence was never established. Each State was
administered by its own chief, Sawbwa, Myosa, or Ngwekunhmu, appointed
or recognized by the Burmese Government, and very practically subject
to the King and his Council. Consequently, when we succeeded to the
sovereignty of Burma, the Shan States became as much an integral
part of British India as any district of Upper Burma. To speak of
the annexation of a Shan State is incorrect. Those States, such as
Wuntho and Kale, which have ceased to be governed by their own chiefs,
have been, not annexed, but taken under direct administration. The
distinction between the Shan States and the rest of Burma is one not
of political status, but of administrative method. The Legislative
Councils of India and Burma make laws for the Shan States as for other
parts of the Province. This power was exercised as long ago as 1886
in the first Statute relating to Upper Burma. The principle has been
consistently maintained. The States which are really semi-independent,
subject to suzerainty, are those of Karenni. The historical explanation
is that before we took Upper Burma we strenuously maintained that
Karenni was not part of the King’s dominions. When we succeeded to the
King’s rights, we could not decently assert the contrary. But though
there is a theoretical distinction, in practice Karenni is as much
under control as the Shan States.

[Illustration: PAGODA AT MONÈ.]

In less than a year from the proclamation which incorporated Upper
Burma in the Empire, surely as speedily as could be expected, an
expedition was despatched to assert our authority in the Shan country.
Colonel Stedman[219] was in command, with Mr. A. H. Hildebrand[220]
and Mr. J. G. Scott[221] as civil officers. A full account of
the operations of the expedition has been given by Sir Charles
Crosthwaite.[222] I need not attempt to tell again the tale of
Mr. Hildebrand’s conspicuous success: how he traversed the States,
receiving the submission of the Chiefs and confirming them in their
offices; how by tact and firmness, almost without striking a blow, he
imposed peace on this distracted country; how he became the friend and
monitor, as well as the strict supervisor, of every Chief. Nor must I
yield to the temptation to recount once more the story of Mr. Scott’s
gallant feat of arms in the capture of Twet Nga Lu, or of his later
even more splendid display of the courage which dares the impossible
when, with a handful of Gurkhas, he brought to his knees in his own
capital the chief of Kyaingtôn, the largest and most secluded of the
States. Are not these things written in the book so often quoted
in these pages? It is a far cry to the Shan country and across the
Salween, or these tales would be as familiar to Britons as any tale of
chivalry.

Mr. Hildebrand became the first Superintendent of the Shan States. A
little later they were divided into two groups, Northern and Southern,
under two mutually independent Superintendents working in direct
communication with Government. The Shan States extend over an area
estimated at about 60,000 square miles. Here, as elsewhere in Burma,
our aim has been to administer as far as possible in accordance with
pre-existing custom. Each State is ruled by its own Chief, who has
the power of life and death, appoints his own officials, and manages
his own finances and domestic affairs. The Chiefs administer their
own customary law, subject to the provisions of a very simple code,
probably the shortest since the Decalogue, which lays down a few
general principles and prohibitions. Issued in 1890, it still remains
unaltered. The Chief is appointed by Government, and receives a sanad,
or order of appointment, defining his functions and limitations. He is
under the control of the Superintendent, and, to a less degree, of the
Assistant Superintendents in charge of subdivisions, into which the
States are distributed. These officers have by law extensive powers of
intervention and revision, but as far as possible they abstain from
active interference in the economy of the State. So, too, Government
ordinarily avoids exertion of direct authority, but, if occasion
requires, does not hesitate to deprive a chief of part of his powers,
to change the order of succession, to amalgamate adjacent territories,
to alter boundaries, even, as an extreme measure, to take a State
under direct administration. All receipts from forests and minerals
belong to the general revenues of the Province, rights over forests
and mines being reserved by Government. Subject to this reservation,
Government levies no taxes on the people. Each State pays a fixed sum
annually as tribute, the assessment being revised every ten years. The
demand is moderate, and at the decennial revision pleas for reduction
are indulgently considered. It need hardly be said that the chiefs
are required to keep the peace among themselves. They are responsible
for the good order of their territories, and maintain their own local
police in picturesque uniforms. There is also a small body of regular
police under the civil officers. The garrison consisted at first of
troops, then of military police, then partly of troops and military
police, now again of military police alone. Each group, the Southern
and the Northern, has its own battalion. Such, briefly and in outline,
is the way in which the Shan States were governed five-and-twenty
years ago; such is the way in which they are governed now. Probably
no dependency of so great an extent is administered so inexpensively
or with so little display of force. As a study in administration the
experiment is full of interest, and has been remarkably successful.
In five-and-twenty years there have naturally been changes and
improvements. At first the Chiefs lived for themselves, caring only
for their own ease and comfort, while, as was graphically said, “the
bloodsuckers around them were making hay.” Now they are becoming more
enlightened, and beginning to realize their responsibilities. They are
learned in the mysteries of budgets and taxation rolls. Some take a
zealous interest in road-making, in digging canals, in promoting the
growth of new staples, in sanitation and medical relief. Many of the
Chiefs are courteous and intelligent gentlemen, who live on terms of
easy friendship with British officers. Several have visited India,
more are familiar with Rangoon and Mandalay. One Chief, formerly
very shy and reserved, now gallops on our polo-grounds. His ambition
was to visit Rangoon periodically for the purpose of gazing on the
ball-room at Government House, which reminded him of Heaven. When all
is said, it must be remembered that the chiefs are merely officers of
Government of no very high position, like other officers, holding their
appointments during good behaviour.

The Shans,[223] remnants of the race which once dominated a vast empire
in Eastern Asia, including the whole of Northern Burma to the confines
of Tibet, are now somewhat backward in civilization. A clannish folk,
with the cohesion lacking among Burmans. If you get hold of the chief
you secure his people also. This no doubt facilitated the task of
settlement. Of fierce appearance, to us they seem unwarlike. Once at
least a conflict was stopped by a British officer adopting the simple
expedient of pitching his camp midway between two hostile armies. But
before our coming internecine feuds raged savage and devastating. Like
medieval barons, Chief warred against Chief, laying waste the country.
Populous cities reduced to ruinous heaps gave place to miserable
hamlets. Wide stretches of fertile land, thrown out of cultivation,
became deserts of jungle and tall grass where the tiger made his lair
and the elephant ranged at will. Under the firm and just rule which we
have substituted for the intermittent ferocity of Burmese dominion, the
Shan plateau is reviving, and once more promises to be an orchard and a
harvest-field. Scantiness of population and distance from markets alone
retard the cultivation of wheat, vegetables, and fruit. Now a railway
to the Southern States is being made. If it is not stopped in mid-air,
and if no parsimonious schemes hinder through communication, an era of
prosperity for the Shan country is at hand.

Early in 1890, I accompanied Sir Charles Crosthwaite on the first visit
paid by a Chief Commissioner to the Southern Shan States. We rode from
the railway at Meiktila road (Thazi), past Hlaingdet, up and along the
customary mule-track to Kalaw, on the border of the Myelat[224] plain.
The cart-road was yet unmade. There was not a cart of any kind in the
Shan country. Kalaw lies in the midst of pine-forests, a perfectly
lovely spot, believed by many to be the future hill-capital of Burma.
It will be an important station on the new railway. Personally, I doubt
whether it will displace Maymy̆o, though it may well be to Maymy̆o
what Mussoorie is to Simla. From Kalaw we rode through the Myelat,
fine open country, but intersected by many ravines, to Nyaungywe, on
the edge of the Inle Lake. The chiefs of the Myelat States flocked
to meet the head of the Province, and with bands of wild retainers,
with much clashing of cymbals and beating of gongs, escorted him on
his march. Crossing the lake we came to Fort Stedman, then the civil
and military headquarters. Here the Chief Commissioner halted for
some days, interviewing local officers and many Shan notables, and
holding a Durbar, at which he addressed the assembled Chiefs. These
State visits to Fort Stedman and Taung-gyi, which afterwards became
the Superintendent’s headquarters, were full of interest, certainly
to the visitors, probably also to the local inhabitants. I have
assisted at three such visits. From distant hills, from far across the
Salween, come multitudes of strange people eager to do honour to the
representative of their Sovereign. Weird dances by outlandish folk,
grotesque caperings some, others slow melancholy measures, expressed
the popular rejoicing. The lake was alive with boats competing in
exciting races. Men and women took part in these contests. Here you
might see the Sawbwa distribute prizes to victors and vanquished, these
races being of the nature of a caucus-race, and smearing with lime the
foreheads of the losers. You shall also see the lake-dwellers standing
and rowing with legs instead of arms, a difficult and, as one may
think, somewhat useless feat. Many young and ambitious officers have
sought to accomplish it, but in vain. The lake-men row in this way with
perfect ease and skill, but not, I think, faster than a boat paddled in
the ordinary style.

[Illustration: THE PAUNGDAW--U FESTIVAL.]

Fort Stedman is well situated in the State of Nyaungywe, one of the
largest and most prosperous of the Southern States. At the time of the
annexation, the Sawbwa was Saw Maung, a man of culture and education,
trained at the Court of Mandalay in all the learning of the Burmans.
Soon after, his cousin Chit Su rebelled against him. In the first fight
Saw Maung was severely wounded, being shot through both thighs. Very
confidingly, he placed his troops and arms at the disposal of his
brother, Saw Ôn, who offered to suppress the revolt. Having done this
effectually, occupied the capital, and tasted the sweets of power,
Saw Ôn declined to make way for the rightful Chief. Forced to retire,
Saw Maung with a small following established himself on the borders
of the Myelat. Thence, anxious to prevent more fighting, Government
summoned him to Mandalay and directed him to stay there in receipt
of an allowance. In the Shan States, as elsewhere, our policy was to
accept existing facts. If the Chief in actual possession was willing
to submit, he was confirmed in his office. When Mr. Hildebrand came
to Nyaungywe, he was warmly welcomed by Saw Ôn, whom he rescued from
a position of much peril. Saw Ôn, therefore, was recognized as Sawbwa
and held charge till his death some years later. He was the chief whom
Sir Charles Crosthwaite found in Nyaungywe, a boisterous uncivilized
person, with some sense of humour, whose loud laugh concealed a mind by
no means vacant of ability and cunning. At his death, Saw Maung[225]
was restored to his State. He proved an excellent ruler, probably the
most enlightened and progressive of the Shan chiefs, full of projects
for the good of his people, and exceedingly popular with all classes.
Though in the early days after his return the lake-men were ready to
rebel against him, not many years later, when Their Royal Highnesses
the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Mandalay, Saw Maung sat in
the boat of the leg-paddlers competing in a race on the moat.

From Fort Stedman we returned by the way we came, the Chief Commissioner
for my sake considerately riding the last three marches in one day.
According to the original programme, if we had missed the train I
should have missed also the steamer which was to take me home on my
first leave. I caught the steamer and enjoyed the leave, which lasted
a few days over three months. I cannot say that I enjoyed the return
journey from Calcutta in the middle of the monsoon, seeing no sun nor
star, in a boat on which cockroaches of gigantic stature vied with
myriads of red ants in making life hideous.

I remained in Rangoon as Chief Secretary till the end of the year, when
the Secretariat was reorganized and strengthened. Mr. Symes came back
as Chief Secretary. I was appointed to be a Divisional Commissioner,
but was seconded for duty as a Secretary till I went on furlough early
in 1891. Mr. Mackenzie[226] became Chief Commissioner, Sir Charles
Crosthwaite going to Council. The work of pacification and organization
was completed. Conscious of a great trust worthily discharged, the most
eminent of Burma’s rulers moved on to fresh fields of action, less
thrilling but not less honourable.



CHAPTER XIV

RANGOON--MANDALAY


When I returned early in 1893, Mr. Fryer was acting as Chief
Commissioner during Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s absence on leave; Mr.
Symes was still Chief Secretary. For a few weeks I was on special duty
examining and abstracting the documentary evidence concerning the
boundary between Burma and China, then in the acute stage of discussion
between the two Governments. After this was done, for a short time
I held charge of the Pegu division. It was a most unsatisfactory
appointment. The Commissioner was still Sessions Judge, and, though
assisted by a coadjutor, took a full share of the original and
appellate work. Piled on top of the revenue and administrative duties,
this formed a mountain which no one could scale. However strenuously
the Commissioner laboured, however much he accomplished, he felt that
as much or more remained undone. This was worse than the Secretariat,
where, with diligence, one could keep abreast of the files.

The one exciting incident of my brief tenure of this office was the
riot in Rangoon between Mohammedans and Hindus in June, 1893. In Burma
we were accustomed to a mild and tolerant religion, and had little
acquaintance with the fierce fanaticism of warring sects. We resented
bitterly the stirring up of strife by Mohammedans and Hindus in a
land where they were strangers and pilgrims, hospitably received and
treated with courtesy and consideration. Just as if guests should hurl
decanters at one another across their host’s dinner-table. It is not
quite accurate to say that Burmans dislike and despise Indians. They
welcome them with large-hearted tolerance, and live amicably side by
side with them. But the Burman regards himself as a superior being,
much superior to anyone, except, perhaps, even this is doubtful, a
European. And he does resent Indians being placed in authority over him.

The occasion of this unusual and unnecessary tumult was the Mohammedan
festival of Bakr-i-id. Though in Burma we have, I think, a slight
leaning to the side of Mohammedans, whose religion is less puzzling
to the lay mind than the abstruse mythology of the Hindus, I am bound
to say that this time the Mohammedans were entirely in the wrong. In
Twenty-ninth Street, a narrow thoroughfare of no good name, stood a
Hindu temple of some repute. Having the rest of Rangoon practically
at their disposal, the Mohammedans declared it essential to sacrifice
their cow close to this temple. Forbidden by the magistrate to do this,
it was expected that they would set at naught the prohibition. Such
precautions as seemed necessary were taken by the Deputy Commissioner,
Mr. A. S. Fleming, who was in close communication with me and with the
Chief Secretary, Mr. Fryer being absent on tour. We determined to do
the best with the police before calling out troops. Military and civil
police patrols were organized; and early on Sunday morning, the great
day of the feast, a fairly strong picket of military police, partly
Mohammedans and partly Hindus, was posted at the top of Twenty-ninth
Street. All local and civil officers, as well as others not immediately
concerned, were in the town. The streets were thronged with people,
Mohammedans in holiday attire, Hindus ready to make mischief, both
sides spoiling for a fight. From the top of Twenty-ninth Street
could be seen the great mosque in Mogul Street, crowded with excited
worshippers. For a time, though the tension was extreme, nothing
happened. One high official, who was present as a sightseer, asked
wherefore the rioting did not begin. Before long he was satisfied.
The crowd became a seething mass. A rush was made to force the picket
holding Twenty-ninth Street. Then stones began to fly, and all was
confusion. Sowars[227] cleared the street, but as soon as the charge
was past the roadway was again filled with rioters. Mr. Fleming had his
head cut open by a stone. My thick topi[228] saved me from a similar
mishap, and I was struck by missiles more than once. The spot near the
objective of strife, where several of us were standing, became a very
warm corner. It seemed advisable to summon troops. My friend Mr. E. W.
B. Summers volunteered to ride up to barracks, running the gauntlet
of showers of stones from street and houses. That shots were fired
from windows was said, but this is not within my knowledge. At last it
became clear that the small party of police and officials at the top
of Twenty-ninth Street was in imminent danger of being wiped out. I
therefore told the senior military police officer to take the necessary
measures to stop the riot. A file of men was ordered out, and a volley
was fired, causing some loss of life. As if by magic, the uproar ceased
in a moment. At first, by my order, blank cartridge was fired, but
without effect. It has since been definitely ordered that on these
occasions blank cartridge is never to be used. I dare say I am wrong.
Certainly the weight of authority is against me. But if I used my own
judgment, in a similar emergency, as a measure of humanity, I should
again try first the effect of blank firing. The statement made at the
time that blank fire only infuriated the mob is quite baseless. It had
no effect whatever. By the time the troops arrived all was quiet. The
soldiers marched through the streets and were picketed in the town, and
there was no further disorder.

This is the story of the riot of 1893 as pictured in my memory. Yet
such is the fallibility of human testimony that accounts written
immediately afterwards by myself and two other officers, all close
together at the time, differed on material points. This was a useful
lesson to me in dealing with the evidence of eye-witnesses, especially
in times of excitement. Defects of observation and lapses of memory
cause discrepancies in the stories of witnesses whose sole desire is to
tell the truth. The stern suppression of this wicked and wanton riot
kept the peace in Rangoon for twenty years. At first, as Bakr-i-id
came round, troops were posted in the town. But there has been no
disturbance, and display of military force has been discontinued. I do
not think Indians bore me any ill-will for the part taken by me in this
affair. To the end of my service many of them remained my good friends.
Within a couple of months of the riot my wife and I were welcomed at
the Mohurram in Mandalay, listened to the sad story of Hassan and
Hussein, and watched the fiery rites of that impressive celebration.

In the middle of 1893 I became Commissioner of the Northern Division.
The country was perfectly quiet and in order. Settled times had
succeeded the bustle and confusion of the pacification. There was
now leisure to prepare and execute projects for the benefit of the
people. First among these was the Mu Valley Railway, which runs from
Sagaing to Myit-kyina, opening up the fertile, land-locked plains of
Wuntho, where a year or two earlier unhusked rice sold for ten rupees
a hundred baskets, and rich lands farther north. A branch runs to
Katha, on the Irrawaddy, below Bhamo, with which there is connection
by ferry. Between Mandalay and Sagaing there is still a gap in the
system. As soon as funds are available the Irrawaddy must be bridged,
and through communication established from Rangoon to Myit-kyina. Even
more important than the railway were two great irrigation schemes
for watering the dry districts of Mandalay and Shwebo. These were
being examined and matured. When I rode through Shwebo in the autumn
of this year with the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. G. W. Shaw,[229] the
fields were as hard as the stony-hearted pavement of Oxford Street.
Anxiously the people watched the sky, longing for the appearance of the
smallest cloud. Rice was scarce, and edible roots formed the staple
fare of the peasantry. We were perilously near the Famine Code. In
those days, if Shwebo had one good year in three, it reckoned itself
fortunate. Luckily, at harvest-time there was always work in Lower
Burma; and if the season failed, crowds streamed down to the teeming
rice-fields of the Delta, whence they honourably remitted sustenance
for the women, the aged, and the infirm left in their homes. Though
emigration is easy and common enough, most Burmans are strongly
attached to their birthplace, and cling with passionate affection
to their ancestral lands. Mortgages are kept alive for a century or
more, the hope of regaining possession being abandoned with extreme
reluctance. Thus, though many farmers from the sterile north took up
land in the Delta and made new homes, the majority hastened back to
their native districts at the faintest prospect of a good season. Now
in Shwebo, thanks to the Irrigation Canal, the face of the country is
changed. Thousands of acres formerly dependent on precarious rainfall
receive ample and regular supplies of water, and are under continuous
cultivation. The pretty song of the women as they plant out the
seedlings from the pyogin[230] is doubtless heard as of yore, now not
intermittently, but each year as the season recurs. A District which
was too often a barren waste is now a rich harvest-field, giving grain
not only for local use, but for export. Similar good results have been
obtained in the Mandalay district by similar means. These irrigation
systems, which not only enrich the people, but also yield a handsome
revenue, were planned and executed with all the skill and science of
irrigation engineers experienced in such work in the Punjab. They were
based on the old Burmese works, which had fallen into disrepair, and
which at no time were sufficiently well planned and managed to secure
regular crops.

On the borders, the Kachins had been reduced to order and had become
for the most part a law-abiding people. No longer were they permitted
to levy toll on passing caravans, or to raid and oppress the plain
villages at the foot of their hills. Their subjugation had not been
effected without difficulty. In 1891 and 1892 there was severe fighting
at Sima and Sadôn; and as recently as Christmas, 1892, Myitkyina had
been attacked and burnt by a raiding party from the north. But when
they had been well beaten, and when posts had been established at
various points, the hillmen rapidly settled down. The discontinuance
of their lawless practices was more than compensated by the wealth
acquired as payment for services rendered to our officers and
military police garrisons. The Kachins, in which name may be included,
conveniently if unscientifically, many kindred tribes speaking
different dialects and following diverse customs, are sturdy fellows,
peopling the hills of the Bhamo district, on the borders of China and
Tibet. As a race, they have the vigour and vitality characteristic of
mountaineers. They are distinctly one of the most progressive races of
Burma, and, but for our advent, would have penetrated gradually far
into the plains of Burma and the Shan States. Washed and brushed up,
many Kachins show signs of a high order of intelligence.

At this time the Bhamo district still included all the Kachin country,
Myitkyina not being yet constituted a separate charge. Mainly by
the genius of Mr. E. C. S. George,[231] the system of managing the
tribesmen was evolved. The hills were divided into administered and
unadministered tracts. In the latter there were no posts, and no
interference was attempted. So long as their inhabitants abstained
from raids and outrages in the settled country; so long, as was
somewhat crudely said, as they confined their zeal for slaughter to
their own borders, they were at liberty to do as they pleased. No
officers visited them, summoned them to appear, or exacted any tax or
tribute. Travellers crossed the administrative line at their own risk,
Government accepting no responsibility for their safety, and refusing
to exact reparation if they suffered wrong. Our sovereignty over these
tracts was not abandoned; it was merely left in abeyance. From time
to time the administrative line has been varied. On this side of the
line Government undertook to preserve order and to punish misconduct.
The administered country was dominated by police posts and placed in
charge of the Deputy Commissioner and his assistants. Control light but
effective was enforced. A simple code was promulgated, care being taken
to avoid the creation of artificial offences and undue interference
with local customs. Each village-tract had its own headman, with
fairly extensive powers, appointed by the Deputy Commissioner. In
early days the headman was rather absurdly called Sawbwa; with fuller
knowledge the title of Duwa was adopted. Periodically in the open
season, the Deputy Commission and his Assistants, with suitable
escorts, made set tours through the hills, trying cases, settling
disputes, and collecting the moderate tribute or household tax, the
only revenue raised from the Kachins. This patriarchal system, which
was gradually perfected, has succeeded admirably. Since the beginning
of 1893, only one serious disturbance[232] has broken the peace of the
Kachin country. The orderly condition of our hill-tracts afforded a
pleasing contrast to the state of those close at hand under Chinese
control, where complete indifference alternated with savage measures of
repression.

Affairs on the Chinese border gave some trouble. The boundary had
been declared, but not yet demarcated. Its actual location being still
undetermined, it was difficult to prevent encroachments, some of which
were designed to strengthen the Chinese case when the border-line came
to be settled. We had to correspond directly with Chinese officers at
Yunnan-fu and T’Êngyüeh, consular officers at these places not having
yet been appointed. On the whole, the Chinese were not bad neighbours.
We certainly were not afraid of them, but were able to take a correct
measure of their power as of their diplomacy.

At the end of the year 1893, just at the close of his turn of office,
the Viceroy, Lord Lansdowne, came to Burma. With Lady Lansdowne, he
visited Mandalay, went up the river as far as Bhamo, and by launch
through the First Defile to Sinbo. In His Excellency’s party were Sir
Henry Brackenbury,[233] Military Member of Council; Sir John Ardagh,
Private Secretary; Mr. W. J. Cuningham,[234] Foreign Secretary;
and once more Lord William Beresford as Military Secretary. The
administration of the Kachin Hills and the Chinese boundary was
discussed on the spot by the Viceroy with the Chief Commissioner
and his local officers. At Bhamo the Viceroy held a Durbar on the
house-boat in which the Chief Commissioner was wont to travel in
comfort, if not in luxury. Kachin Duwas came in crowds and laid spears
and elephant tusks and embroidered cloths at His Excellency’s feet,
receiving more valuable gifts in return. On shore weird Kachin dances
were performed mid unseasonable rain, which damped the revels. It
was a pity, for at the best a Kachin dance is a depressing ceremony,
something like “Here we go round the mulberry bush,” played by tired
children. At Mandalay, in the golden-pillared Western Hall of Audience,
a fitting setting for so brilliant a scene, another Durbar was held,
glittering with uniforms of British officers and gay with the bright
Court dresses of Burman and Shan notables.

This cold season I toured in the hills for some weeks and in the
pleasantest company. Captain Bower,[235] having covered himself
with glory by hunting down the murderer of Dalgleish and earned
fresh laurels by his adventurous march across Tibet, came over to
gather honey for the Intelligence hive. Mr. George, who made all the
bandobast[236] for the tour, was more at home among Kachins than any
man of his time. Starting from Waing-maw, we marched inland to Sima,
the scene of a fierce struggle not many months before, where Morton met
a soldier’s death and Captain Lloyd[237] won the Victoria Cross. So
close to the border that in the first Boundary Convention, concluded
when our diplomatists were in great awe of China’s puissance, it was
assigned to our neighbours, Sima was a little outpost in the hills.
Surrounded by a stockade, a ditch, and barbed-wire entanglements, it
was strong enough to resist any probable attack. Officers and men
were housed in huts of mud or mat, stores and ammunition in sheds of
corrugated iron. Long since these primitive posts have been replaced
by substantial forts built on scientific plans. A line of them holds
the frontier and dominates the hills. From Sima we struck northward
to Sadôn, then our farthest outpost. We strolled at leisure; along
forest paths up and down hill; across clear mountain-streams, sometimes
at a ford, sometimes by a swaying bridge hastily made of bamboos
with a carpet of long grass, sometimes on a raft or rude dugout;
through thriving Kachin villages perched on crests of hills, where
the barbarous people showed us no little kindness, offering fruits
from their Taungyas[238] and encouraging us to explore their long, low
thatched houses. A stretch of the march led easily over the saddle of
a range of hills. In the morning the valleys were covered with a veil
of mist; as this dispersed, at our feet were spread fertile plains,
and in the distance gleamed the Irrawaddy like a silver thread. Our
escort was a score of mounted military police, our transport mules
from China. Early, but not too early, we rose and took a substantial
chota haziri[239] beside the camp-fire while the mules were loading
up. Chinese muleteers have many good points, but they need handling,
and submit with reluctance to interference with their little ways. You
may hearken, but their voice is not in heaven before the lark. Even
when they have been roused from slumber, it is any odds that two or
three mules have wandered off in the night and have to be sought with
vituperation best left obscure. The actual loading is comparatively
simple. The baggage is tied to a wooden saddle which is lifted on to
the mule’s back and left there unfastened. At that season, at the
height of some three or four thousand feet, the climate was perfect,
cool, and bright. We could march all day without inconvenience. Once
started, we walked and rode, staying now and then to interview headmen
and villagers with special reference to an inquiry into the opium
habit which I was making for my own satisfaction, till we reached our
halting-place, on the bank of a crystal stream. One inviolable rule
was enforced. The sumpter mule always headed the cavalcade. After a
dip in the river, while tents were being pitched we breakfasted under
a shady tree at any hour from one to five, as the length of the march
determined. The best servant in the camp was Captain Bower’s Pathan,
a hook-nosed ruffian from the North-West Frontier, who had been in
every scrap on the border for a generation. When he raised his finger,
the other servants fled gibbering. After dinner, the day’s work over,
he relaxed. In a leafy bower, like a figure from the Arabian Nights,
smoking a hookah he sat holding enthralled a breathless audience with,
one fondly hoped, stories of adventure. Perhaps he was only discussing
prices in the bazaar. Next to him, _longo intervallo_, was the Kachin
Zinaw who acted as interpreter and handyman. He began the march
speaking Chinese, Shan, Burmese, and several Kachin dialects; he ended
with a working knowledge of English and Hindustani. Zinaw was a man
of great intelligence, but not of lofty principle. For negotiating
the passage of a rushing stream, or for hastily rigging up a camp, he
was invaluable. Some years he flourished, till misdirected ingenuity
brought him to grief. His last service to Government was rendered, I
believe, in the Bhamo Jail.

Up to Sadôn we climbed with labour and heavy sorrow, each height
surmounted revealing our goal apparently as distant as ever, till
we were fain to sit down in the dust and weep. Drever, the post
commandant, an athlete of renown, explained the special advantage of
life at Sadôn. Whenever you went for a walk you had to descend 2,000
feet and climb up again. So you kept in condition. In posts like this
one or two civil and military police officers spent the months guarding
the marches. Occasional tours were welcome interludes. The work was not
very arduous, and there was a blessed lack of files and records. But
it was a hard life, with few amenities, often drearily monotonous. Our
frontier officers cheerfully endured this isolated existence, and kept
bright their country’s honour among the hill tribes.

Still passing northward, we reached the bank of the ’Nmaikha, the
main branch of the Irrawaddy, which, starting from a source still
unascertained, joins the Mali-kha some thirty miles above Myitkyina.
We camped at ’Nsentaru Ferry, forbidden to cross, as the _enclave_
between the two rivers is unadministered territory. A scene of savage
beauty, with hills on every side, the distant peaks on the Chinese
border white with snow. We rambled upstream and along the bank of the
’Nmaikha, farther than any of our officers had yet penetrated.[240]
Returning to camp at midday, we bathed in the ice-cold water of the
river, fresh from the snowy hills.

From ’Nsentaru we marched through Kwitu and across the Irrawaddy to
Myitkyina, then the headquarters of a subdivision. It was but a small
village, with very humble public buildings, well placed on a high bank
of the river, whose waters flowed clear as crystal. Now it is the
terminus of the railway, a flourishing town, with many Indian settlers,
the resort of fishermen who catch mahseer of ever-increasing weight. We
rode to the confluence where the ’Nmaikha and Mali-kha join to form the
Irrawaddy, more than a thousand miles from the sea; a very picturesque
spot, with the mountain-streams rushing and tumbling over rocks and
boulders. We returned on rafts, and were privileged to shoot the rapids
which impede the navigation of the river above Myitkyina. They are not
much to boast of as rapids, but the raftsmen made a fat fuss, shouting
and hustling as we toiled through the eddies.

From Myitkyina we rode inland to Mogaung, a singularly unpleasant
town, important as a trading centre. In the regions north-west of
Mogaung comes almost all the jade yet discovered; the rest is found
in Turkestan. Though lovely and ornamental, jade is not classed as a
precious stone, and has little vogue in Europe except for hilts of
daggers in ladies’ novels. Chinese merchants have a practical monopoly,
and most of the stone goes to China, where it is properly appreciated
by a nation of artistic taste. The right of levying _ad valorem_ duty
on all jade brought to Mogaung is farmed out by Government. As the
value of a piece of jade in the rough cannot be determined accurately,
the business of dealing and of farming is distinctly speculative. The
value is revealed by cutting; the duty is paid on uncut stones. The
farmer assesses the duty on any piece of stone brought in. The owner
has the option of either paying the duty or selling it to the farmer at
the farmer’s valuation. This plan insures fair dealing on both sides.
But there is always the attractive element of chance. Except for the
jade business and some historic associations, Mogaung was a dull and
uninteresting place. Our objective was the lovely lake of Indawgyi,
which I was not to see till nearly twenty years after.[241]

Sudden news came of a Kachin rising on the eastern frontier. The escort
of a civil officer had been attacked, and had suffered some loss. The
border might be ablaze. The Deputy Commissioner must hasten to the
spot; nor could the Commissioner remain unconcerned. We rode to Sinbo
next day, covering nearly fifty miles on one pony apiece, carrying no
kit and taking no attendants, our rations in our saddle-bags. At Sinbo
we found a launch and all necessary comforts provided by Mr. George’s
forethought. Next day, as soon as the morning mist had lifted, the
launch started, and in two minutes was fast on a sandbank. Not all the
labours of the villagers, who turned out _en masse_, availed to move
it a foot. Resolved to reach Bhamo that day, we took a small boat and
began the passage of the Defile. It was plain paddling with the stream,
but parlous slow, and hot and cramped. When we were about half-way
through, our luck changed. We met a Government launch, which we boarded
and turned about. So at sundown we landed at Bhamo. Half an hour later
the launch abandoned at Sinbo also arrived.

Next morning we set out for the frontier. Riding most of the day and
night, stumbling after dark on narrow ridges[242] between rice-fields,
at about midnight we came into camp, not without some slight risk of
being shot by a zealous sentry. All escorts within range having been
bidden by telegraph and signal to combine, quite a considerable force
of military police and a dozen British officers were assembled. It was
as if the Deputy Commissioner, fulfilling Pompey’s thrasonical boast,
had stamped upon the ground and raised legions. This sudden show of
strength, coupled with Mr. George’s tact and management, speedily
restored peace. Leaving him to distribute rewards and penalties, I
rode back with a tin of bully beef for sustenance, and a couple of
sowars as escort. On the way I slept at the Kachin village of Pônkan,
where I was hospitably entertained by the Duwa, who not many years
before had literally held Bhamo in terror. He was a tall and handsome
savage, but somewhat given to drink. At Bhamo I spent the next hundred
hours in making up six weeks’ arrears of office-work. Then I took a
day’s rest.

This was my best tour. But all the travelling in the Northern Division
was full of interest. Mogôk and the Ruby Mines provided an agreeable
interlude. Katha, a pestilential district in the rains, was perfect
marching ground in the dry season. Wuntho, but lately brought into
line, was revisited, and Piulebu, on the bank of the Mu River, once
the Sawbwa’s strong place of refuge, inspected. With me rode my old
friend Maung Aung Zan,[243] now subdivisional officer. Though of the
girth regarded as suitable for a high official, and weighing, as he
told me, 45 viss,[244] Aung Zan found a pony to carry him. His local
knowledge was invaluable. We came to Mansi, at the end of the Banmauk
road, which breaks off so abruptly that one feels as if another step
would take one over the world’s edge into the abyss. Here was some
excitement, the police post being threatened by a jungle fire rapidly
nearing the wooden stockade. In these remote parts the people, of Shan
race, were primitive folk of simple and engaging manners. Extremely
poor, they earned a scanty livelihood in the forests, or by fishing, or
by laborious cultivation of miscellaneous crops. Here, as elsewhere,
courtesy and hospitality abounded. At the entrance of every village
the headman and villagers came out to welcome us, the girls dressed in
their simple best, bearing offerings of water and flowers. Inspecting
a Court on this tour, I was refreshed by finding a case in which trial
by ordeal for witchcraft was the main incident. The suspected witch was
tied up in the fearless old fashion, and thrown into a stream. As she
sank, and was with difficulty rescued, her innocence was made clear.
The cause of action in the judicial case was her claim for damages for
defamation. She was awarded £4 and costs.

The Commissionership of the Northern Division was probably the most
interesting office in Burma. Mandalay itself always seemed to me a
goodly place wherein to live. ’Tis true that for a couple of months
or so the heat is great; but though the thermometer rises to 110° or
more, the climate is dry, and yet we do not seem to have the excessive,
suffocating heat, day and night, of the plains of Northern India.
Again, every æsthetic and artistic taste is gratified. Never to be
forgotten are the battlements of the walls, the purple shadows on
the eastern hills, the glowing sunsets on the moat, the splendour of
moonlight in the Palace corridors. The frontier work was absorbing,
and occasionally exciting; the ordinary executive work enough to occupy
one’s time without being unduly exacting. Of the touring I have already
tried to create an impression. Just across the road, too, so to speak,
was the new hill-station of May-my̆o, then coming into notice. The
railway to Lashio, in the Northern Shan States, was being made, and had
not yet reached May-my̆o; but it was easy to get up for a week-end. A
drive of fourteen miles along the Aungbinle-bund to Tônbo, then a ride
of thirty miles, with a change of ponies at Pyintha; with an early
start, May-my̆o was reached in time for breakfast. We rode up by the
railway road to the Zibingyi plateau, a craggy path sometimes rendered
hazardous by showers of boulders rained down after blasting operations
on the line above. Thence part of the route was over the plateau,
through pleasant jungle-tracks, part along the embankment, where the
rails were not yet laid. Returning by the same way, we got back to
Mandalay by office-hours on Monday. May-my̆o was still in bud, perhaps
even more delightful than in its fuller bloom. Sweet were the rides
through bracken and underwood, with the chance of losing one’s way and
a possible thrill of meeting a bear. And cheerful the gatherings at the
Club, the trivial social pleasures in which all took part. Mandalay
itself was a large military station, where good-fellowship has always
reigned.

It was therefore with regret that, early in 1894, I received Sir
Alexander Mackenzie’s summons to Rangoon to act as Chief Secretary
for Mr. Symes, on furlough. At the time I was acting as Judicial
Commissioner in a temporary vacancy caused by Mr. Burgess’s absence on
privilege leave. As was our custom in those days, I obeyed the order
without remonstrance.



CHAPTER XV

LOWER BURMA ONCE MORE


The next three years, with a brief interlude of privilege leave, were
spent in Lower Burma. I was Chief Secretary for a year under Sir
Alexander Mackenzie, for nine months under Sir Frederic Fryer, for
three months under Mr. Donald Smeaton, who acted in a privilege-leave
vacancy. Work was sufficient, not excessive. The Province was in
order, and the Secretariat was administered on more regular lines than
in the earlier strenuous years. It was no longer necessary to burn
the midnight oil or to abjure exercise and recreation. Sir Alexander
Mackenzie was a man of extraordinary capacity, and of abnormal, in
my experience unexampled, speed of work. Throughout the day four
Secretaries toiled and filled office-boxes with files; by nine o’clock
next morning all came back with the Chief Commissioner’s orders noted
on them. It hardly seemed as if he could have had time to untie the
bundles. Yet we had frequent evidence that cases were not dealt with
perfunctorily. The speed with which Sir Alexander Mackenzie got to
the root of a case, however elaborate or involved, seemed almost
supernatural. He left the Secretaries to do their own work, and
wrote less than any other Chief I have known. A line of his writing
would be the basis of a long draft. The least obstinate of men, he
invited criticism and free expression of opinion, and was not afraid
of changing his mind. But he was the strong man, the mainspring and
motive-power of the Administration. No Secretary cherished the delusion
that he was running the Province. We felt that he was the player whose
organ-keys were thunders, and we, beneath his foot, the pedal pressed.
Parenthetically, it may be observed that in Burma, and probably in
other Provinces which do not enjoy the blessing of Executive Councils,
the theory that Secretaries are supreme has no foundation in fact.
The power and subtle intrigues ascribed to provincial Secretariats
are the vain imaginings of people who have had no experience of their
working from within. The nonsense asserted or hinted by such persons is
incredible, and would be ludicrous but for its effect on others equally
ill-informed. Sir Alexander Mackenzie was a genial and appreciative
Chief, under whom it was a pleasure to work. As an administrator he
was not in the same class as his immediate predecessor, nor did he
inspire the personal enthusiasm and affection which many of us felt
for Sir Charles Bernard and Sir Charles Crosthwaite. But we respected
his marvellous ability, and were grateful for his uniform kindness.
According to popular belief, having finished his work before breakfast,
he spent the rest of the day on a sofa reading light literature till it
was time for tennis.

A distinguished visitor to Burma at this time was Lord Randolph
Churchill. As Secretary of State when Upper Burma was annexed, he
had a close association with the Province. The recollection of this
was often in his mind, and gave a personal interest to his visit to
Mandalay. His coming to Burma was tinged with melancholy, as his health
was broken, and it was not long before his premature death. It is a
privilege to have met him, even though not in his brilliant day, and it
is a pleasant thought that he was able to see the country which he was
instrumental in adding to the Empire.

Again I must confess that life in the Secretariat, interesting enough
to the workers, presented few incidents likely to enthrall the most
sympathetic reader. The more smoothly the machinery worked, the fewer
sparks were thrown off. Even in the Province, the happier the people,
the less material for the bookmaker. True, there were exciting events
even in that peaceful time. Two which startled us out of our equanimity
may be recalled. Mr. Tucker, a member of a well-known family,
many of whom have served the Crown in India, at the time District
Superintendent of Police in Pegu, was an excellent shot and a notable
sportsman. One night, when on tour in a country boat, he was aroused by
the report of a dacoity close by. Leaping on shore at once, and calling
to his boy[245] to bring his gun and cartridges, he hastened towards
the scene. As he ran along the bank, he was shot dead by dacoits,
without a chance of defending himself. It was one of the ironies of
fate that he, better than most men qualified for resistance, should
have fallen thus obscurely. One by one all concerned in the crime
were brought to justice, though some years passed before the tale was
complete. The other lurid incident was the plunder of the mail-train
between Yamèthin and Pyinmana, when Nelson, the guard, was murdered.
The miscreants who perpetrated this daring outrage are believed to have
been natives of India, formerly employed on the railway and conversant
with its working. Boarding the train at Yamèthin, they tampered with
the couplings of the brake-van, of which one compartment was obligingly
labelled “Treasure and valuables.” At a lonely place they completed
the severance of the van from the rest of the train, which went on,
unconscious of the act. The unarmed guard was cut down and the treasure
carried off. It was believed at the time that the real criminals were
brought to trial. After protracted proceedings, they were finally
acquitted on appeal.

The year 1896 saw the very last of the dacoit Bos. Ten years before, Bo
Cho had harried Myingyan and Pagan, the leader of a formidable gang;
once, when he met Captain Eyre, he is said to have led seven hundred
men. Unlike other Bos, he was neither killed nor captured, nor did he
surrender. When his band melted away, and dacoity became too hazardous
a sport, he simply disappeared. Either he was dead, or he had plunged
into effectual obscurity in the comparatively dense population of the
Delta. Actually, he was living as a peaceful cultivator in a village
in the middle of the Myingyan district. There he might have spent the
rest of his days, perhaps becoming in time a Kyaung-taga, or even a
Headman. No one would have dreamt of betraying him even for the price
set upon his capture. Did not the munificent offer of Rs. 20,000 fail
to tempt any follower of Gaung Gyi?[246] But after a time, apparently
weary of a life of inaction, Bo Cho became restless. With two sons,
he took to the jungle and began again the old trade of dacoity.
Experience of the early years of the pacification was utilized. Mr.
W. R. Stone,[247] a newly joined Assistant Commissioner, with a small
force of military and civil police, and with selected Burman officers
to help him, was told off to catch Bo Cho. He was given full authority
under the Village Regulation, and a free hand. The invaluable power of
removing to a distance friends and relatives of dacoits was unsparingly
exercised. In a few weeks Mr. Stone dispersed the gang and captured Bo
Cho and his sons, who were duly hanged in the Myingyan Jail.

[Illustration: BO CHO AND HIS SONS.]

Rejoining after short leave at the end of 1896, I became Commissioner
of the Irrawaddy division, and after many years again saw Bassein and
even Pantanaw. Seen in the light of larger experience, and from the
melancholy mound of advancing years, Bassein seemed quite different
from the gay station of our giddy youth. Really, it was much the same,
and in some ways it had improved. I found many old friends among
Burmans, officials, advocates, and traders. Every greybeard wagged his
head and welcomed me as contemporary. Seriously, I was very glad to
see these old gentlemen, and not to find myself forgotten. But I could
not disguise from myself, perhaps not from others, that my heart was
in Upper Burma; that I found the Delta folk, at least in the larger
towns and villages, sophisticated and with too large a mingling of
Kalas, and that I pined for Mandalay. The work was substantial but
not overwhelming; there was still time for the judicial part of it.
We were in Irrawaddy only for the dry months, and were able to make
some pleasant tours. Conditions of travelling by water were vastly
better than in early days. There was already one house-boat, which,
towed by a launch, was an agreeable substitute for the rice-boat of
our youth. The Commissioner had not yet a house-boat of his own, such
as that enjoyed by the present pampered official; but on occasion we
borrowed one from the friendly Deputy Commissioner of Maubin, Major
Macnabb. In the northern part of the division travelling by land was
easy in the dry weather. One exceedingly enjoyable tour in that part
lives in my memory. We rode from Henzada to Ngathaing-gyaung traversing
subdivisions held by two native officers, Maung Tin Gyaw and Maung Ba
Bwa.

Much has been said and written about the corruption of Burmese
officials. To hear some people, you would think there was no such rare
bird, if indeed he be not fabulous, as an honest Burman in Government
service. I am happy to say that my experience enables me to place
on record a far more favourable judgment. It would be absurd to
pretend that corruption did not exist, even that it was very unusual.
It has been my fortune many times to recognize, expose, and punish
corrupt officers. Both in Upper and in Lower Burma we inherited the
traditions of a feeble Oriental Government, and it was impossible
that evil practices should not abound. Township officers and their
subordinates, all natives of the Province, exercised great power, often
free from constant and close supervision. To the mass of the people,
in their daily life, the township officer and Thugyi, even more than
the Deputy Commissioner, represented the Government. Furthermore, in
early days the native services were ill-paid and had poor prospects of
advancement. Till an honourable tradition was established, it could
not be expected that all would resist the many temptations in their
path. Recognizing and admitting all these grounds of reserve, I am
satisfied that very many Burmese officers have been perfectly honest
and have faithfully justified the trust reposed in them. Men there are
in whom I have such confidence that, were it shown to be misplaced, my
faith in human nature would be shattered. In recent years the pay and
prospects of Burmese officers have been improved (_quorum pars exigua
fui_). They now have fair wages and many roads to dignity and honour.
Partly for this reason, partly from higher motives, a sound tradition
is gradually becoming crystallized, and year by year the standard of
morality is being raised.

Of those[248] who, in comparatively early times, set a shining example
of probity and efficiency, Maung Tin Gyaw was a fine specimen. Of
good Talaing stock, he was one of the ablest native officers I have
known. His father and uncle, whom a flippant but kindly, experienced,
and appreciative Deputy Commissioner used to call Romulus and Remus,
were Circle Thugyis, when I knew them venerable white-haired men of
distinguished appearance. One of them bore honourable scars of wounds
received in action in the troubles of 1885. Maung Tin Gyaw himself,
then in the prime of life, was a man of courage, resolution, and
independence. Well educated as a boy, but only in the vernacular, in
adult life he had succeeded in teaching himself enough English to
enable him to read the _Gazette_ with moderate ease. With lighter
English literature I fear he was unfamiliar. In his subdivision, which
he managed admirably, he had boundless personal influence (awza),
that intangible quality which makes the administrator. Throughout his
career he preserved a reputation for spotless integrity and honesty.
Riding with us through his charge, Maung Tin Gyaw was a very agreeable
companion, prompt in all courteous attentions, always at hand when
required, but never obtruding his society unsought.

At one of our halts he found a wandering monk who had caused some
commotion elsewhere, and was regarded with suspicion as a potential
cause of political trouble. As I have said before, the wandering monk,
who gathers crowds, practises magic, and heals the sick by charms and
incantations, is always distrusted by the district officer. When he
begins to tattoo his followers, it is time to put him on security or
send him to jail. This monk proposed to walk through the subdivision
and proceed to Ngathaing-gyaung. Maung Tin Gyaw regarded this
proposition with disfavour. He forbade the monk to go by land. “In
fact,” said he, “that’s a very tedious and uncomfortable way. Go back
to Henzada, where you will find a steamer which will take you far more
quickly and easily.” “Please tell me,” replied the monk, who was of the
order of sea-lawyers, “by what law you will prevent me from going by
land.” “The law,” said Tin Gyaw, “I will show you in Henzada. But back
you shall go.” And back he went under the friendly escort of a couple
of constables, and so far as I know he gave no further trouble. No
doubt a high-handed and illegal proceeding, but conducive to the peace
of the district, and therefore explicitly approved by the Commissioner.
Some years ago I had to mourn Tin Gyaw’s loss. Till his death he was
one of my most trusted and valued friends. Maung Ba Bwa, our other
companion on this tour, I am glad to say still serves the State. I am
therefore precluded from saying more of him than that he, too, was
an officer of distinction, who for some years managed an important
subdivision never before, I think, placed in charge of a Burmese
officer. That these subdivisions should be entrusted to native Extra
Assistant Commissioners is an indication of the advance made in twenty
years.



CHAPTER XVI

MANDALAY--THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION


Early in 1897 I was once more in Mandalay, well pleased to be again
among my friends in Upper Burma. In the short period of my charge of
the Mandalay Division occurred the inevitable rising for which the time
was ripe. In Burma a small rebellion breaks out with almost seasonable
regularity. One evening, as I was on the point of going to the Club,
then sumptuously housed in the western halls of the Palace, Mr. (now
Sir George) Scott came in. Instead of going to the Club, we drove round
Mandalay Hill. It was October, and the festival which marks the end
of Buddhist Lent was being celebrated. At the Kuthodaw[249] Pagoda
we alighted and mingled with the crowd. Pwès were being played, and
the scene was vivid with a gay and giddy throng of men, women, and
children, decked with jewels and clad in rainbow-coloured silks. We met
several friends, among them the Shwehlan Myowun, with whom Mr. Scott
renewed an old acquaintance.[250] This was not the time of year when
disturbance is expected. The October festival is one of peace and
good-will, when the shadows of Lent have departed, when merry lights
go sailing down the river, when the prospect of harvest is in sight.
It is, moreover, a sure sign that no trouble is apprehended when women
and children are seen in swarms at pwès and public assemblies. So with
cheerful hearts we resumed our drive, while with unconscious irony I
explained to Mr. Scott the profoundness of our security, our firm hold
on Mandalay, my confidence that nothing untoward could happen without
timely warning. We sat down to dinner, and got as far as coffee and
cheroots. Sir George Scott still regrets that he never tasted that
coffee. For at this moment in ran Mr. Snadden, the Superintendent of
Police, saying: “There is an insurrection. You had better come and see
about it.” When we arrived on the scene, the insurrection had been
suppressed. A very agèd monk had announced himself as the coming King,
the reincarnation of a Prince dead some centuries ago. He possessed
the power of making his followers invisible and invulnerable, always
an advantage, especially to a small force contending against superior
numbers. Perhaps his forces would not be so small, for presently he
would throw leaves into the air and they would come down as armed men.
His occult power he proved by walking thrice round his monastery and
disappearing from sight. “Of course,” said the Kinwun Mingyi, as he
related the story afterwards, not wishing to impose upon my simplicity,
“he hid himself somewhere.” With such old wives’ tales, and with
promises of place and power, he beguiled a score of wretched dupes,
mostly as old as himself. They sat and plotted beneath the humble
mat-and-thatch monastery where the monk lived. My confidence that we
should be warned in time was not misplaced. The local police inspector
was told by a woman that a conspiracy was being hatched. The cry of
“Wolf!” had been so often raised that he was mildly incredulous. When
she led him to see the conspirators, and he found a lot of old men
telling their beads, his unbelief was confirmed, and he declined to
listen to the story. His want of faith cost him his appointment.

When the eventful evening came, armed only with swords and short
spears hidden in the sleeves of their jackets, without a firearm of
any kind, the little band marched to the taking of the walled city
of Mandalay, garrisoned by two or three regiments. Their goal was
the Palace where, said the monk, “when I take my seat on the throne,
Burma will be my kingdom and the heretic kalas will flee.” Almost at
the outset, they were diverted from their purpose. Crossing the moat
by the South Bridge, they came upon a British soldier walking with an
Englishwoman. “Behold the enemy; slay them,” cried the mad monk. Hotly
pursued, the luckless pair ran through the South Gate.[251] I regret
to say that the police guard at the gate fled. Close by, in a large
compound, stood the house of Major W. H. Dobbie[252] of the Indian
Army. The woman ran along the garden fence, while the man darted in and
gave the alarm. Then this nameless hero, alone and unarmed, went back
to help his companion and met death unafraid. The woman, grievously
wounded, survived. With his revolver, and supplied with cartridges
by his gallant wife, Major Dobbie ran out and met the rebels at his
gate. Single-handed, he held them at bay, doing much execution, till
some other officers, attracted by the firing, came to his aid and
completed the rout. In the city gateway a running fight ensued. The
white walls were splashed with blood which long remained a memorial of
that stirring night. One officer received a cut on the head. Of the
rebels, five, including the leader, were killed and most were wounded.
If the band had pursued its original intention and made straight for
the Palace, it would have come upon a few peaceful gentlemen sitting
at dinner in the club with no weapons of defence handier than chairs
and table-knives. The attempt was an isolated affair, of no political
significance, confined to the few fanatics actually engaged. Patrols
were sent out and rewards proclaimed. Within a week we picked up all
the surviving rebels. After trial, ten were hanged in the presence of
many spectators; the rest were sent to transportation. In the jail I
spoke to one of the leaders, a man of fair position, somewhat past
middle age, the Kappiya-taga[253] of the dead monk’s monastery. He
explained that he had no enmity or cause of enmity against Government.
Ambition was the motive which impelled him. He was to be the new King’s
Chief Minister. The fortune of war being against him, he submitted to
the penalty without complaint.

The story is pitiful enough. These petty risings are of periodical
occurrence, and seem to be peculiar to Burma. Three or four have broken
out in the last few years. They are never of sufficient importance
to cause any anxiety to Government. The sorrow and misery fall on
ignorant, misguided peasants who are led astray by some _soi-disant_
Prince. Always a pretender to royal blood, a Minlaung or embryo Prince,
with power to work marvels, to bring fire forth from his arm, to
kindle mystic lights, or cause gilding to be laid by unseen hands on a
pagoda; always fairy-tales of charms against death and wounds. It seems
impossible to cure this insane disease of flocking to a pretender’s
standard. For the sake of the people themselves, these outbreaks must
be suppressed with severity. We used to regard crimes against the State
as crimes of the worst character, not as venial offences to be treated
tenderly. This is the only kind of sedition which has hitherto troubled
Burma. The mass of the people, no less than the educated classes, are
too proud to follow demagogues from Bombay or Bengal. They seem to be
too intelligent to hanker after representative institutions unsuited to
the genius of the race. Recognizing that they already take a great part
in the administration, they feel assured that as they show themselves
fit, higher offices will be thrown open to their ambition. Enlightened
Burmans see that the good of the people is the sole desire of
Government, and that this is promoted by due submission to constituted
authority, not by liberty of fluent rhetoric. While, therefore, other
parts of India were seething with sedition, Burma alone remained
unmoved, pursuing its steady march of progress. The speed of the march
would be accelerated if Burma had more of its own money to spend,
and if it were not often hampered by being made to conform to Indian
precedents. All that we knew of sedition was the deportation of certain
ring-leaders to Burma, where they were not likely to be regarded with
any interest or sympathy.

Towards the close of this year I relinquished charge of the Division
on appointment to be Her Majesty’s Commissioner for demarcating the
boundary between Burma and China. The settlement of this boundary had
long been under discussion between the two Governments. In 1893 had
been concluded a Convention fixing a boundary-line very unfavourable to
Burma. As already mentioned, Sima went to China and farther south the
frontier was drawn perilously near Bhamo. Fortunately, an opportunity
of revising this Convention occurred. The new Agreement laid down a
line more practical and more in accordance with historical evidence. In
the winter of 1897 a Joint Commission was appointed to ascertain and
demarcate on the ground the frontier defined in the revised Convention.
Mr. E. C. S. George was Assistant Commissioner. My Chinese colleague
was General Liu, with several Chinese assistants and a telegraph
clerk as interpreter. The Commission assembled at Bhamo as arranged.
A few days were spent in settling preliminaries and exchanging
courtesies. General Liu and his officers dined with us and we in turn
were entertained at a Chinese feast. With some confidence, we set out
for the frontier. Mr. George, with one of the Chinese Commissioners,
was deputed to demarcate north of the Taiping as far as the high
conical peak in latitude 25° 35′, the extreme point mentioned in the
Convention. With his customary vigour and decision, overcoming many
difficulties, he accomplished his task. General Liu and I proposed to
demarcate south of the Taiping. Of the party were Mr. W. Warry[254]
of the China Consular Service, Major F. B. Longe[255] of the Survey
of India, Captain E. W. M. Norie[256] of the Middlesex Regiment,
Intelligence Officer, and Mr. D. W. Rae of the Provincial Service,
an officer of tried experience in the Kachin Hills. Captain J. W. L.
ffrench-Mullen[257] commanded the modest escort of a hundred rifles of
military police.

We marched due east, through the pleasant hill-station of Sinlumgaba,
past terraced rice-fields watered by ingenious irrigation works, over
shallow streams. With more than the wonted vigour of Chinese officials,
General Liu exchanged his sedan-chair for a rough pony, and rode at
the head of his ragged escort. The result did not justify the promise
of the beginning. Almost at the outset, in circumstances with which I
need not weary my readers, we came to a deadlock. Though the case was
obviously one for compromise, General Liu, most courteous and most
obstinate of men, declined to come to terms. There was no alternative
but to refer the matter to our respective Governments, and await their
orders. So after a very few days we settled down on the banks of a
stream which up to that time had marked the provisional boundary.

Four weary months we spent beside that miserable stream, our escort on
the Burmese side, the Chinese escort on the farther bank, occupying our
time in sending urgent appeals to Government, and in holding endless
conferences with our Chinese colleagues. Our men, disciplined and well
equipped, were under canvas, properly rationed and cared for by our
medical officer. Among them were a few Kachins recently enlisted, very
smart and proud of their new uniforms. Boots were to them at once a
source of glory and of pain. Most of them marched bare-footed, carrying
the precious but weary burden slung on their shoulders. In a village
they put them on and swaggered about for the admiration of the girls.
Hardy and brave, these mountaineers are likely to prove excellent
material for military police, perhaps even for the regular army. This
season they were blooded in a small affair which Mr. H. F. Hertz had
with an intrusive body of Chinese. They were among the first to scale
the enemy’s stockade. There are now several companies of Kachins in the
battalions at Bhamo and Myitkyina. General Liu had his hundred Chinese
braves, clad in picturesque rags, undisciplined, armed with the latest
thing in rifles, which they had no idea how to use. They carried no
tents, and had to house themselves in huts of leaf and bamboo. The
comfortable arrangements made for our military police filled them with
envy, and they gratefully accepted the attention of our surgeon. We
could have enlisted as many as we pleased if we had wished to raise
a Chinese battalion. They impressed us as being good raw material
and quite well behaved, but in their existing conditions entirely
useless as a fighting force. The futility of Chinese troops against
a disciplined army has been abundantly exemplified on this frontier.
Notwithstanding warnings and alarms in the Press of the presence of
formidable arrays trained by German or Japanese instructors, and armed
with rifles of the very newest pattern, we have never encountered from
Yunnan a Chinese levy capable of standing up to our military police,
far less to a British force of all arms.

General Liu was a sturdy old man, who had seen service in the field.
Although he succeeded in wasting the whole season, and broke solemn
compacts with a serene smile, our relations on the whole were
friendly. He wrote me innumerable despatches, adorned with the noblest
moral sentiments, but in substance quite inconsequent. This was in
accordance with established tradition. Very often he crossed over
to our camp and talked for hours, probably for the benefit of his
assistants and the egregious telegraph clerk. After drinking a liqueur,
he would return to his own side of the stream, conscious of a morning
well spent, and sit under a tree, cooling his head after the heat of
argument. Among interesting visitors to his camp were Sawbwas of the
Chinese Shan States, which lie along the border. These chiefs occupy
very much the same position as those of our own Shan States. At times
they enjoy greater freedom, at times are more severely repressed,
than their brothers in Burma. One of them cherished a beard which
Shagpat might have envied; except on occasions of display, he kept
it encased in a bag. Incidentally we were surprised by the arrival
in our camp of two English travellers, who announced that they had
travelled through China, and had just come from Lasa. Their report was
received with derision by a correspondent, who thought that Lasa was
the storied capital of Tibet, then untrodden ground. Their Lasa is one
of the Chinese Shan States. In the course of the season we had a very
effective eclipse, and were privileged to witness the Chinese beating
gongs and making an incredible noise to frighten away the dragon
devouring the sun, a custom of which we had heard, but hitherto had
only in part believed to exist.

Such were the trivial incidents which helped to pass the weary days,
as we sat in our tents pitched in the midst of bare rice-fields, on
a plateau some four thousand feet above the sea. Till the middle of
March the climate was cold and bracing, with a sharp frost that covered
buckets of water with ice an inch or two thick, at first an object of
surprise and admiration to my Burman boy from the plains. We diverted
ourselves as best we might, and from first to last were all good
friends. By the camp-fire at night many a story was told. But that it
was a monotonous time cannot be gainsaid. Even the resource of shooting
was almost entirely absent. The hills swarmed with guns, old-fashioned
muskets for the most part, and the Kachins very successfully kept
down the game. We rode about the country for relaxation, visiting
Kachin villages, and making the acquaintance of many Duwas. The most
interesting was the blind Chief of Matang (Matin), a man of real
influence, who had been of service to Colonel Sladen on his mission to
Yunnan in 1868. Once or twice we visited Sinlumgaba, already mentioned
as a budding hill-station, and were cordially welcomed by the gunners
out for practice at the neighbouring hill of Imlumshan. Somehow or
other the months passed, in daily expectation of orders from Government
enabling us to make a start. I do not know what was the cause of the
delay. At last, at the end of the season, the long-awaited orders
came. But it was too late. We parted from General Liu with mutual
protestations of respect and affection. In spite of his obstinacy,
duplicity, and pious dissertations, I could not help liking the old man.

After writing my report and forming plans for the ensuing season, I
acted for a time as Judicial Commissioner of Upper Burma. Towards the
end of 1898 the permanent appointment became vacant, owing to the
lamented death of Mr. Burgess. I was given the option of succeeding
him or of retaining the office of Boundary Commissioner. I accepted
the post of Judicial Commissioner. The demarcation of the boundary was
successfully carried out in the next two seasons by Sir George Scott
and Mr. George.

Judicial work in Upper Burma, which occupied me for the next two years,
was interesting but not exciting. The volume of work was sufficient,
not beyond the pursuit of zeal and industry. The forensic part was
varied and often entertaining, involving many studies of Buddhist law
and indigenous customs. Though not a very litigious people, Burmans
hate being treated, as they think, unjustly. I have known a case where
only a few pence were at stake carried through all the Courts up to
Mandalay. Besides hearing appeals and revisions as a High Court, the
Judicial Commissioner had to supervise, and, where necessary, instruct
the subordinate judiciary. The judicial system was less elaborate
than in other Provinces, and many magistrates and Judges retained
characteristics acquired under Burmese rule. They did their best, and
administered what was perhaps at times a wild kind of justice. They had
the Civil Procedure Code thrust on them, _me judice_, at too early
a date, but they bore the infliction with resignation. The Judicial
Commissioner’s duties involved a fair amount of administration and a
good deal of inspection. With the members of the small but efficient
Bar his relations were friendly and cordial.

The Judicial Commissioner held sway within the limits of his powers
over all Upper Burma save, mercifully for them, the Shan States and the
Chin and Kachin Hills. Inspections included many parts of the Province
by me before unvisited. Of these brief visits, full of interest at
the time, it were tedious to write at length. A sample may be given.
Early one morning I landed at a wayside village to inspect the township
court. A graceful little pandal[258] had been erected wherein I was
invited to witness a pwè before beginning work. Innocently consenting,
I took my seat and the performance began. Dancers came, not single
spies, but in battalions. Every village in the neighbourhood had sent
its troupe, each eager in succession to display its skill and grace.
Except one, all the companies consisted of quite young girls, not
professionals, but daughters of the village. The last turn was given
by a band of small boys delightfully dressed in green jackets and
knickerbockers. This was much more amusing than turning over dusty
files and registers. But all good things come to an end, and after
some pleasant hours I had reluctantly to obey the call of duty. In
the end, I breakfasted at 5 o’clock tea. There is a sequel to the
story. On my return to Mandalay I received a petition signed by the
girls of one of the troupes. It was more clement than the petition of
Salome. The memorialists had danced, and I had been pleased to look and
express approval. Such poor skill as they had was due to the training
of their saya.[259] This worthy man had fallen on evil days. By the
craft and subtlety of his enemies, he had been wrongfully prosecuted
for embezzlement, unjustly convicted, and barbarously sentenced to
imprisonment. If he stayed in durance, his lessons would be forgotten,
and his pupils would be able to dance no more. Would I kindly, as a
personal favour to them, order his instant release? The impulse of the
natural man was to grant on the spot this ingenuous gracefully worded
request. Hardening my heart, I yet examined the record of the trial
with every desire to find a reason for intervention. Alas! I could not
convince myself that the saya was an injured innocent. All that the
girls got by their memorial was a civil answer, in which I tried to
explain why their request could not be granted. I hope they gave me
credit for the wish to help them.

It should be a truism, but is too seldom recognized, that the less the
higher Courts interfere, especially on technical grounds, the better.
Now and then, however, it was pleasing to be able of one’s own motion
to throw open the prison gates. Very gratifying it was to set at
liberty a man sentenced to a long term of imprisonment for exceeding
the right of private defence against an armed robber. To me he seemed
deserving of reward rather than punishment. I doubt if any act of my
official life gave me greater pleasure than restoring a young woman to
freedom. Inspecting a gaol, I found a young Burmese girl, the solitary
occupant of the woman’s side. In an agony of grief at her husband’s
sudden death she had tried to commit suicide. For this heinous crime
she had been sentenced to imprisonment for three months. On her ready
promise not to do it again, I was able to release her at once.

For a few weeks in 1899, by arrangement with Mr. F. S. Copleston, C.S.,
who, solely for my convenience, changed places with me, I held the
office of Judicial Commissioner of Lower Burma, a thankless post, of
which the work exceeded my capacity.

In 1900 the Chief Court of Lower Burma was established, Mr. Copleston
becoming the first Chief Judge. The selection was vehemently
criticized, the local Bar and Press clamouring for the appointment of a
barrister and for Mr. Copleston’s head on a charger. I should like to
explain the reasons which may be urged in support of the appointment of
a civilian. The judicious skipper will perhaps be warned, and avoid the
next page or two. It is open to argument that there should not be any
civilian Judges; that, as in England, all Judges should be barristers
trained in forensic practice. This argument is not seriously advanced
by anyone conversant with the conditions, and need not be traversed
at length. But the situation may be briefly stated. From the beginning
of their service, civilians are constantly doing judicial work, always
criminal, generally civil. In the five-and-twenty years or so that
pass before they are likely to enter a High or Chief Court, those who
have any aptitude or inclination for legal studies have had abundant
experience and have acquired a good stock of learning. Where there
is a division between the executive and judicial branches, certain
officers specialize almost exclusively. Civilians of my own standing
had even an earlier training. During their term of probation law formed
a prominent part of their reading. Periodical examinations tested their
proficiency, and they had also to attend Courts and prepare notes of
cases. They saw in practice the daily working of Courts under the
presidency of the best Judges and magistrates in England. A selected
candidate who failed at the Final Examination to qualify in law was
ruthlessly rejected, excluded for ever from the paradise of the Civil
Service. It is thought by some not unintelligent persons that in the
trial of civil and criminal causes it is an advantage for the Judge to
have knowledge of the language, customs, and character of the people
concerned. Apart from this, every High and Chief Court in India has
civilian Judges, by common consent as well qualified as their barrister
colleagues. So much for the appointment of any civilians as Judges.
Now for the question of the Chief Judge. In the Chief Court of Lower
Burma, with which we are immediately concerned, in forensic business
the Chief Judge has no more weight or authority than any of his puisne
brothers. Only when all the Judges are sitting as a Bench, and when
they are equally divided, has the Chief Judge a casting-vote. As yet
that instance has not happened. Ordinarily, in court the Chief Judge
is on terms of exact equality with his colleagues. As a member of a
Bench he can be outvoted by his juniors. His decision as a single judge
can be considered, modified, or overruled by a Bench, of which he may
or may not be a member. So far as judicial work is concerned, every
objection to the appointment of a civilian as Chief Judge can be urged
with equal force to the appointment of any civilians as Judges. But
the work is not exclusively judicial. It includes also administrative
functions. The Chief Court initiates or advises upon many matters
connected with the judicial administration. All subordinate Judges
and magistrates, most of them Burmans, are under its supervision. In
this branch of the duties of the Court the leading part is necessarily
taken by the Chief Judge. It is therefore desirable that he should
have administrative experience, and, if possible, good knowledge of
the people. For these reasons public interest is better served by
the selection of a civilian as Chief Judge. I do not care to discuss
the vulgar suggestion, not seriously made by any decent person, that
civilian Judges are more likely to be subservient to Government than
barristers. No one believes this; nor would it apply particularly to
the Chief Judge, who, as I have said, has no more power judicially
than his colleagues. The only sound rule is for Government to appoint
as Chief Judge the man believed to be best qualified for the office,
whether civilian or barrister, bearing in mind that administrative as
well as purely legal qualifications are requisite.

Some time ago there was an agitation for the establishment of a High
Court for Burma in place of the Chief Court and Judicial Commissioner.
No doubt Judges of the Chief Court should receive the same pay as
Judges of a High Court. They do exactly the same work, and are of
the same standing. Apart from this, in my humble judgment, the
establishment of a High Court would be an unmixed evil. Upper Burma is
not ripe for even the mild sway of the Chief Court. For both litigants
and Judges it is better to remain under the sympathetic control of
the Judicial Commissioner, whose learning is tempered by sympathy
with the people. It would also be disastrous for suitors from Upper
Burma to have to come to Rangoon, practically a foreign city, instead
of Mandalay, where they are at home. Besides these objections, the
establishment of a High Court would involve the appointment on every
occasion of a barrister Chief Justice, which I hope I have shown to be
inexpedient. As puisne Judges, barristers would be sent from England.
One need not believe spiteful stories of political jobs, and one
may respect many Judges of High Courts; but it cannot be contended
that an Indian career now attracts the pick of the English Bar, men
in first-class practice or with good prospects. Recent experience
has, I trust, quenched whatever desire there may have been for the
establishment of a High Court in Rangoon. But enough of controversy.

At the end of 1898 Lord Elgin visited Burma, on the very eve of his
departure from India.

In the last few months of my last residence in Mandalay, no suitable
house being available, I occupied my old quarters in the Palace, with
the White Pavilion[260] opposite. Except for the Club on the western
side and a few offices, the Palace was untenanted. Burmans ranged it
at will, much interested in pacing its corridors and examining its
stately rooms. They certainly did not regard the Palace with awe or
reverence, but were well pleased to satisfy their curiosity. On feast
days crowds came to picnic in the gardens and loitered in my courtyard.
All climbed up the Queen’s Tower, and all counted the steps as they
descended. At night, save for a few watchmen, most of the Palace was
left in solitude. Very striking was the effect as one’s footsteps
sounded hollow on the boarded floors, while the tropic moon flooded
the columned arcades with unearthly light. Revolving many memories and
picturing many scenes of bygone days, I traversed the deserted halls.

At the end of 1900, the day after the completion of my obligatory
service in India, I went on furlough, free to retire at the end of two
years. Mr. Harvey Adamson[261] succeeded to the appointment.



CHAPTER XVII

THE CHIEF COURT--LAST YEARS IN BURMA


After spending rather more than a year in Europe, I was tempted back
to Burma by the offer of the post of Chief Judge in succession to Mr.
Copleston, who retired from the Service. I held the office for three
years, from 1902 to 1905. These are years of pleasant memory, mainly
on account of the very cordial relations with my colleagues, and
especially the kindness and friendship of the barrister Judges. Of the
Bar also I have a grateful remembrance. Its members were pleased to
speak appreciatively of me on my departure. I risk the double edge.

The most interesting event of these years was the Durbar at Delhi held
by Lord Curzon on New Year’s Day, 1903, to celebrate the Coronation
of His Majesty King Edward VII. I do not propose to tell a twice-told
tale by describing the Durbar and its attendant ceremonies. But a brief
reference may be permitted. A splendid pageant was the State Entry,
with its long line of richly caparisoned elephants, its dazzling array
of Chiefs in gorgeous vestments, seen by thousands from the terraces
of the Jamma Musjid. Glorious and soul-stirring was the Durbar itself
with all the pomp of heraldry and blazonry of colour. Perhaps the
most moving incident was the appearance of a body of Mutiny veterans,
conspicuous among them white-haired men of many Indian races who had
been faithful to their salt. The Shan chiefs, humble folk among the
stately Indian Rajas, were yet in their grotesque attire a picturesque
feature of the State Entry, and attracted notice as they paid homage
at the Durbar. Not soon to be forgotten was the review of native
retainers, where the followers of many Chiefs displayed curious customs
and equipment handed down from remote antiquity. Perhaps the most
charming ceremony was the State Ball in the Diwan-i-Am (with supper
in the Diwan-i-Khas), where Europeans and Indians, gleaming with gold
and jewels and radiant colour, flashed and glittered in the historic
halls of the Moguls. The conception of the Durbar and of the incidents
grouped round that memorable scene was worthy of the great event which
they celebrated. The Burma camp was, as usual, admirably arranged and
managed; the griffins, which characteristically guarded the gateway,
a piece of Burma set down in the Punjab plain. The guests hospitably
entertained there owe a debt of gratitude to Sir Frederic and Lady
Fryer and His Honour’s able and courteous staff for many pleasant days.
That fortnight remains in my mind as a charming episode.

In 1905, Lord Curzon appointed me to be Lieutenant-Governor in
succession to Sir Hugh Barnes, who went to the Council of India. Sir
Harvey Adamson became Chief Judge.

Early in 1906 the Province was honoured by the visit of the Prince and
Princess of Wales. Their Royal Highnesses were received with unbounded
enthusiasm by all classes and races in Burma. Their gracious kindness
and consideration had the happiest effect in exciting the loyalty of
the Burmese people. To Rangoon and Mandalay, Shan chiefs and many
strange folk from remote hills and valleys, Chins, Kachins, Karens,
Was, Padaungs, Brès, flocked to do homage. Proceeding down the river
to Prome in a steamer fitted up by the Flotilla Company, Their Royal
Highnesses saw a great deal of the country in a short time. The memory
of their visit will not fade from the minds of those privileged to see
them, and will be handed down as a glowing tradition to posterity.

Next year the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and Princess Patricia came
to Burma, and were welcomed with acclamation. Their Royal Highnesses
visited Rangoon, Mandalay, and Pagan, thus seeing the most interesting
places in the Province.

In 1907 the Viceroy, Lord Minto, with Lady Minto, paid us a visit,
and spent nearly a month in Burma. Their Excellencies saw Rangoon,
Mandalay, Lashio, Myitkyina, Bhamo, Pagan, and Prome. Coming, like Lord
Curzon, early in his term of office, Lord Minto obtained an insight
into the conditions of Burma, and became interested in the Province.
The most memorable incident of his visit was the Durbar held by His
Excellency in the Eastern Hall of Audience in the Palace at Mandalay,
the first public ceremony held there since Lord Dufferin’s Levée in
1886.

Although to Lord Curzon I owed my appointment as Lieutenant-Governor,
I was not in Burma at the time of his visit, nor was it my privilege
to serve directly under him for many months. Most illustrious of the
eminent statesmen who have held the high office of Viceroy of India,
Lord Curzon left, regretted by all who had at heart the interests of
the Empire and the good of the people. It is presumptuous of me to
attempt any appreciation of his work or to raise my feeble voice in
eulogy. Yet, having served under him, I cannot be altogether silent.
Lord Curzon set the example of the loftiest ideal. Inspiring the
heartiest enthusiasm in those brought into personal relations with
him, he spared no pains to raise the standard of efficiency, to reform
abuses, to promote the well-being of the people of India. When the dust
of controversy shall have been laid, the historian will see clearly, in
true perspective, how noble a task he accomplished in the years, all
too few, of his Viceroyalty.

So long as Burma remains a Province of India, her geographical
position will place her at a disadvantage in comparison with other
Provinces. Members of Council pay sparing and infrequent visits, and
seldom have any knowledge of the country and the people. Nor has the
Lieutenant-Governor many opportunities of visiting the headquarters
of Government. Only once, towards the end of my term of office,
did I go to Calcutta. While I was at Government House, except one
Member who came on a private excursion, giving me no warning of his
coming, and whom I never saw, only two Members of Council, Sir Denzil
Ibbetson,[262] and Mr. W. L. Harvey, came to Burma. It was a pleasure
and a privilege to make the acquaintance of Sir Denzil Ibbetson. His
coming, though unavoidably deferred till the last moment, was of
advantage to the Province. The same may be said of Mr. Harvey’s visit.
Sir Denzil Ibbetson and Mr. Harvey were lost to India soon afterwards.
Both were men of character, ability, and distinction, whom we could ill
spare.

Distance and the pressure of overwhelming official cares kept away the
Financial Member.[263] This was specially to be regretted. For the new
Provincial Settlement, cynically styled a Contract, was discussed and
determined. The debate was one-sided, and recalled the schoolboys’ tag:
“Si rixa est, ubi tu pulsas, ego vapulo tantum.”

Burma fared badly in this unequal contest, where the decision rested
solely with the Supreme Government. The situation may be described in
popular terms. Apart from local funds, revenue and expenditure in India
are divided into Imperial and Provincial. All the revenue is raised
in the Provinces, the Government of India having no separate estate.
Imperial expenditure, including the cost of the Central Government,
the army, and Home charges, has to be met by contributions from the
Provinces. Certain heads of revenue are Imperial, others provincial;
others are divided between the two. It is right and fair that Burma
as well as other Provinces should contribute to Imperial needs. Only
very foolish people believe that the Government of India depends upon
Burma for its livelihood, so to speak. The poor old milch-cow has been
trotted out too often, and has become a wearisome, time-worn beast. In
fact, the contribution paid by Burma is actually less than that paid by
the richer Provinces. At the same time it is true that the contribution
from Burma is greater in proportion to its population than that of
any other Province, and that from Burma alone the annual subvention
tends to increase. It may be admitted, as is perhaps the case, that
the settlement with Burma was made on the same lines as those of other
Provinces, that the proportion of its revenues taken by India is much
the same as the proportion taken elsewhere. What people in Burma feel
is that this is unfair. When our settlement was made we were still in
a backward state, ill-equipped with roads and buildings, with many
needs as yet unsupplied. Other Provinces were far more advanced,
and had less necessary expenditure to incur. Moreover, the cost of
public works in Burma is twice as high as in other parts of India. If,
therefore, we are to be treated like other Provinces, we ought to have
more liberal terms. So much is taken from Burma that not enough is left
for public works and other expenditure necessary to our expansion.
We also believe that this is a shortsighted policy, and that liberal
expenditure in Burma would benefit Imperial and Provincial revenues
alike. Stated in few words, this is the case for Burma, based on facts
available to the public, without reference to unpublished records.

Another disadvantage under which Burma labours is the application of
Indian principles and precedents. While Burma is part of India, no
doubt the system of administration and the main lines of policy must be
the same as in other Provinces. But in details, in matters where our
conditions differ essentially from those of India, it is unreasonable
that we should be bound by Indian rules. A Member of Council who has
never seen Burma thinks nothing of overruling[264] the Local Government
on points of purely local concern. Again, general orders framed after
consideration of the circumstances of Indian Provinces are applied to
Burma, where conditions are totally unlike. In this way much needless
labour and waste of valuable time are caused. I remember one Commission
which contained no representative from Burma, and which never came
near the Province. It issued an elaborate and extremely valuable
Report. For years afterwards poured forth a flood of Resolutions on
the Commission’s recommendations which we were required to consider
and discuss, though none of them could possibly apply to our local
conditions. No real harm was done, but time and labour were spent in
vain. As Burma differs essentially from India, and as it is impossible
that Burma should be adequately represented in all departments of
the Government of India, the natural conclusion is that the Local
Government should be allowed a much freer hand, and should be trusted
to know what is best in matters of local concern.

While on the subject of disadvantages I may mention a real grievance.
It may seem mainly to affect the Civil Service; really it is of vital
importance to the Province. I refer to the very small share which
Burma has in appointments under the Imperial Government. As I myself
obtained in my service more than I could have expected, I shall not
be thought to speak from any personal feeling. In the fifty years
since Burma has been a Province she has supplied to India one Member
of Council, two Deputy-Secretaries, one Agricultural Adviser (for a
short term), and two or three Under-Secretaries, all within the last
seven years. No civilian from Burma has ever been chosen to administer
another Province. It does not seem likely that of civilians in Burma,
chosen in the same way as other civilians, none has been fit for such
an appointment. It is needless to conjecture reasons for this apparent
neglect. I suggest that Burma should receive a fair share of high
offices, so that service in Burma may cease to be unpopular, and that
her needs and conditions may be properly appreciated by the Supreme
Government.

During my term of office the Royal Commission on Decentralization
came to us. Needless to say, Burma had no representative among its
members. That could hardly be expected. Bombay had two members, Madras
and Bengal one each. The Punjab and the United Provinces were omitted.
Except Mr. Dutt, a Bengali civilian who served in the regular line and
seems to have attained no special distinction, the Commission included
no one who had any acquaintance with the system of government by
Lieutenant-Governors, and only one, Sir F. P. Lely, who had served in a
non-regulation Province. The constitution of the Commission was clearly
reflected in the Report which regarded all India as administered under
the Presidency system, and therefore in the hands of Secretaries and
Members of Executive Councils. The Commission learnt little of Burma
during its somewhat hasty visit. Nor was it likely that permanent
benefit would result from the labours of a body which set out to
investigate and reform the whole administrative system of India in the
course of a cold-weather tour.

The reforms of Councils devised by Lord Morley or Lord Minto were
discussed and carried into effect during these years. These reforms
were not needed in Burma; there was no popular demand for them; they
were entirely unsuited to the Province. But Burma must lie on the
procrustean bed. I am thankful to say, that for a time at least, the
Province was saved from popular elections. In a country where, after
thirty years, it is rare to find Europeans or Burmans of position
willing to take an interest even in municipal elections, that would
be the last straw. But the Council had to be enlarged, a non-official
majority secured, and the elective system introduced at least to
the extent of enabling one body, the Burma Chamber of Commerce, to
elect[265] its member. And all the detailed rules of procedure, of
Budget discussions, of interpellations, and the like, framed for other
Provinces, have been applied to Burma. It may safely be said that no
one in Burma is a penny the better for these innovations, and that the
great heart of the people remains unmoved. The net result is some waste
of time and public money owing to the appointment of more official
members, worthy gentlemen who have to spend hours in Council when they
should be doing their work. We were quite as well off under the old
Council and the old rules. The situation would be ludicrous if it were
not pathetic.

The objects which I regarded as most important, and which, to the best
of my ability, I pursued, were the encouragement of efficiency in
the Services, insistence on the principle of selection to which the
Government of India often drew attention, and the improvement of the
position and prospects of officers of various departments, particularly
but not exclusively, those manned by people of the country. I had the
pleasure of making the first appointment of a Burman as a District
Judge, my old friend Maung Aung Zan,[266] K.S.M., being the officer
selected. Two posts of Deputy Commissioner were obtained for the
Provincial Service, the first Burman to hold that office being Maung
Myat Tun Aung, C.I.E., K.S.M., T.D.M. Later I appointed the first two
Burman Superintendents of Police, Maung Tun Min,[267] T.D.M., and
Maung Shwe Tha,[267] I.S.O., K.S.M., A.T.M. These appointments enabled
us to solve a long-standing problem, the officering of Kyauk-pyu.
This district was notoriously unhealthy for any but natives of the
locality, so that it was difficult to keep European officers there
for any length of time. With one Arakanese as Deputy Commissioner and
another as Superintendent of Police, both accustomed to the climate,
it was possible to have the district efficiently administered without
sacrificing anyone’s health. For some time Kyauk-pyu was administered
solely by native officers. The experiment seems to have been
successful; both the Deputy Commissioner and the Police Superintendent
having recently been decorated. I take the opportunity of reminding my
Burmese friends, who justly cite me as desirous of seeing them placed
in higher offices, that one essential condition is that by character
and ability they should prove their fitness for advancement. I am the
last man in the world to wish Burmans promoted merely because they are
Burmans, without regard to their qualifications. “After these things do
the Gentiles seek.”

A successful effort was made to equalize the pay and prospects of the
higher ranks of the Judicial Service, so as to attract men of at least
average ability and ambition to that branch. The Provincial Judicial
Service was organized on a proper basis, so that officers who chose or
were posted to it might receive the same pay as those on the Executive
side. The important Land Records Department was reorganized and placed
on a proper basis as regards pay, and a system of recruitment and
training was devised. To my lot, assisted by Colonel S. C. F. Peile,
C.I.E., the experienced Inspector-General, fell the task of introducing
most of the changes following the Report of the Police Commission. In
this matter I think we might have been allowed more liberty to consult
local conditions. After all, the Report was not verbally inspired.

I had much at heart the enactment of legislation for restraining
the alienation of land and for the protection of tenants. I was
unsuccessful in effecting either of these objects before my retirement.
I have no doubt that gradually but surely the Burman is being squeezed
off the land, and that if, as seems likely, the proposed legislation is
abandoned, the land will fall into the hands of non-agriculturists and
natives of India. Free trade in land as in other things may be good.
From an economic point of view the position is probably sound. More
rice will be grown for export; more land revenue and customs duty will
be garnered. But there are other considerations. The standard of living
will be lowered. The deterioration of the Burmese race which will
inevitably accompany their divorce from the land will be a subject for
regret when it is irremediable. Similarly, tenants in Burma are rapidly
increasing in numbers. There, as elsewhere, they need protection. The
solace of my disappointment was the progress of the co-operative credit
movement under the fostering care of Mr. A. E. English, C.I.E. This
movement will afford a great deal of help to the Burman cultivator.
If it spreads to a sufficient extent, it may even obviate the need of
agrarian legislation.

Among the pleasantest as well as the most beneficial duties of the
Lieutenant-Governor is the making of tours in all parts of the
Province. These journeys bring the head of the local Government into
touch with officers of all grades and departments, as well as with
the people. Not the least charming incidents associated with them
are the receptions at every halting-place of importance, where the
townsfolk offer a hearty welcome in their own fashion, and tender
loyal addresses. Some of these receptions were elaborately and
magnificently staged, with presentation of flowers, with dance and
music, with triumphal arches, with decorated streets. Without meaning
to be invidious, I think receptions at Mandalay, Pegu, Akyab, and
Bassein, where I was charmed to meet many old friends, stand out in my
memory as conspicuous. The addresses presented on these occasions were
often gracefully worded. Besides a profusion of loyal sentiments and
good wishes, they usually stated matters of local interest for which
the benevolent attention of Government was sought, the need of a new
school, waterworks, sanitation, as the case might be. In one address my
wife was gratified by being styled my “august consort.”[268] Except
the Chin Hills, the Hill districts of Northern Arakan and Salween, and,
I am ashamed to say, Tharrawaddy, which was unaccountably neglected,
I visited all the districts as well as the Northern and Southern Shan
States. Kyaingtôn (Kēngtūng), across the Salween, was an object of
unfulfilled desire, and a projected ride to Namkham was not realized.

To Mogôk I went for the purpose of investing the young Sawbwa of
Möñgmit with the administration of his State. At a very early age the
young Chief was taken in hand, and placed in charge of the Rev. J. N.
Cushing,[269] the venerable head of the Baptist Mission in Rangoon,
and one of the first of Shan scholars. Dr. Cushing received him into
his own house, and treated him as a son. When of suitable years, the
future Sawbwa was sent to a district for training in judicial and
executive work. Not till he was of ripe age, and had given evidence of
steadiness of character, was he allowed to assume charge of his State.
He received his Sanad in full Durbar, and with it much good advice.
With an experienced Burman officer as his principal Assistant, and
under the effective supervision of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. E.
C. S. George, the young Chief has done well, and has shown zeal and
intelligence in the management of his State. I think the impressions
of his early years have not faded. At the time of his investiture his
marriage was celebrated--a pleasing ceremony which I was privileged
to attend. At Mogôk the usual strenuous round of duty and pleasure,
incident to the inspection of a district headquarters with a vigorous
Deputy Commissioner, filled days and nights. Up at six to ride round
and visit local institutions, business occupied the day; at about five
in the evening amusements began, and lasted till the small hours.
Carrying very pleasant memories, a tired party reached Mainglôn, on
the march back to May-my̆o. Most of the route lay along a well-graded
hill-road, aligned and made by the Public Works Officer of Thibaw, a
very intelligent Shan. At each halting-place comfortable encampments
of mat and bamboo had been built by direction of Mr. Stirling,[270]
Superintendent, and the Chief, my good friend Saw Hkè.[271]

A charming tour took us the round of the maritime districts, Tavoy,
Mergui, Akyab, Kyaukpyu, and Sandoway, in the R.I.M.S. _Dalhousie_.
We cruised in the lovely Mergui Archipelago, a summer sea set with
countless islands, rivalling in beauty the Inland Sea of Japan. Perhaps
the most noticeable sight was Elephant Island. It stands alone, its
green slopes narrowing to the sky. At low water we approached the
shore, our boat with difficulty and strenuous effort pushed over sands
hardly covered by the shallow sea. So we came to where the water
deepened, at the mouth of a gloomy cavern. Entering, we found a low,
winding, rock-roofed tunnel, just wide and high enough for our boat,
with a glimmer of daylight at the far end. Emerging, we reached the
middle of the island, a still lagoon, encircled by smooth marble walls.
A magic scene from fairyland: a snow-white ring, with an opening like
the crater of a volcano; in the midst the purple lake. One pictured
it as the secret refuge of buccaneers, who here might hide in safety.
Our time for admiring this lovely landscape was limited; too long a
stay would have imprisoned us for hours, till the tide fell and left
the tunnel navigable. Working by charts nearly a hundred years old, we
approached Victoria Point, the farthest outpost on the south, bordering
on the Siamese State of Renoung. The revival of tin-mining had begun to
make the place of some importance. Later a wireless telegraph station
was established. More recently rubber-planting has been tried.

After a winding course over rocks and shoals, through unexplored Shan
States and savage hills where head-hunting is still fitfully pursued,
the Chindwin joins the Irrawaddy above Pakôkku. Passing between banks
clad with dense forest, we desecrated with steam and smoke silent
reaches glamorous with romance. The march of progress is gradually
dissipating the mist which yet still clings to this river of ancient
story. Here and there a court-house or a military police post marks
the advance of civilization. Inland the woodman’s axe resounds in the
primeval forest. A coal-mine, one of the many promising but faithless
ventures of the prospector, makes a deep cavern in a hillside. We
explored it for a considerable way by the light of naked, guttering
candles; no Davy lamps in that mine. On the Chindwin are still current
stories with an old-world ring. There you will see a little monastery
at the water’s edge. Above that point, though snakes abound, they have
no power to harm. On one side of the line thus marked, if a snake bites
you, prepare to die; cross the line, the same snake may bite you with
no worse effect than a fleeting sting. Walking through a village, to
test the story we asked a man if there were many snakes. “Oh yes,” he
replied; “but, of course, they do no harm. I was bitten yesterday.”
And he showed on his leg the mark of recent fangs. The reason of this
interesting difference is comparatively simple. Once upon a time the
countryside was ravaged by a gigantic serpent. The King himself, in
the fearless old fashion, gave battle to the snake, and, after a
desperate struggle, slew it and cut it in half. The two pieces he flung
into the river. Now, the head-piece, where are the poisonous fangs,
floated down-stream; the tail-piece, where there are none, floated
upwards. You see the result. If you go farther north, you will come
to a village where the people have the fascinating power of turning
themselves into tigers. We went no higher than Homalin, and missed the
chance of verifying this attractive legend. It was poor compensation to
land at Thangthut, the capital of a very small Shan Chief, to find a
stack of polo-sticks in his haw,[272] and to learn that Manipuris, the
originators of the game, sent teams to play polo with the Sawbwa and
his staff.

Talking of tigers reminds me of one or two stories which may find a
place here. Real tigers are common to many parts of the Province.
One day a tiger came upon two little girls in the jungle, seized the
younger, and was trotting off with her. The elder sister, a girl of
about twelve, took off her tamein[273] and flapped the tiger about the
face till the astonished beast dropped the child and fled. The truth
of this story is proved by the fact that Government gave the girl a
silk tamein in recognition of her courage and presence of mind. Another
time, quite recently, a woodman was seized by a tiger. He cut at him
with his da[274] till the tiger dropped him and retreated. The man,
enraged at being attacked, followed and slashed him again, his only
weapon being a long wood-cutting knife. Another authentic story, of an
earlier date, tells how a tiger was killed by a man armed only with
da. We may hesitate to believe people who tell us that Burmans are not
brave.

The American who declined to go to the Taj Mahal because he had not
come to India to see tombs, when he came to Burma would not look at
Pagan because he had not come to see pagodas. Described once for all by
Sir Henry Yule in “The Court of Ava,” in its way Pagan is one of the
most remarkable places in the world. The seat of an ancient dynasty,
it lies along the bank of the Irrawaddy below Myingyan. Pagodas,
literally for miles and in hundreds, fill the landscape as far as eye
can see. All varied styles of Buddhist architecture, with many traces
of Hindu influence, are represented. Here is the renowned Ananda
Pagoda, among the most famous of Buddhist shrines. Here, too, are
solemn, stately figures of the four Buddhas[275] who have yet visited
the earth. As the ages roll by, other Buddhas will descend for the
regeneration of the world.

Not very far below Pagan, illustrative of a strange mingling of ancient
and modern, is the most productive of the oil-fields of Burma, that
of Yenangyaung. In 1886, reviewing the prospects of mineral discovery
in Upper Burma, we prophesied before we knew. We went nap, as might
be said, on coal, and took but little interest in petroleum. The
development of the oil-fields is the most striking feature of the
economic history of the Province for the past twenty-five years. The
search for coal has been uniformly disappointing. The Yenangyaung field
was worked in former times by crude native methods. Into shallow wells
dug by hand men went down, clad in a sort of diver’s costume, and
laboriously baled out oil with a bucket. The out-turn was comparatively
small. The wells were owned by a close corporation of local Burmans
known as twinzas,[276] who had exclusive hereditary rights. All the oil
extracted had to be sold to the King at a fixed price. Of late years
the oil-fields have been exploited with all the resources of modern
science by companies who, by grant or purchase, have acquired rights
over wells and oil-bearing land. The Burma Oil Company were pioneers
of the industry. It was under the auspices of my friend Sir Campbell
Kirkman Finlay, Managing Director of the company, that I twice visited
Yenangyaung. One of my visits was marked by the spouting of the most
productive well yet struck in Burma. The oil-field is a busy bustling
place, covered with tall derricks and giving employment to many
drillers and mechanics. Side by side with modern scientific extraction
may be seen the primitive native methods still practised. Over all is a
Warden to enforce the elaborate rules necessary to safeguard the field
against danger from fire and to prevent its premature exhaustion. From
the wells runs a pipe-line conveying oil for about two hundred and
seventy-five miles to the refinery at Syriam, where a populous town
has sprung up. The latest report gives the total quantity of petroleum
produced in Burma as 222,000,000 gallons, a very small fraction of the
world’s production.

Our tours on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin were made in steamers of the
Royal Indian Marine and in the house-boat already mentioned. Among
Indian Marine officers I had many friends. One I may mention by name,
Lieutenant H. R. Bowers, was with us on several tours. The son of
Captain A. Bowers, R.N.R., long resident in Burma, who had accompanied
Colonel Sladen’s mission to Yunnan in 1868, he had close hereditary
associations with the Province. From the first he impressed us as an
officer of great promise, capable and self-reliant. I bade him farewell
on the eve of his departure, full of hope and pride, for the journey
whereon he died a hero’s death among Antarctic snows. His memory lives
in the hearts of his countrymen.

My final tour brought me at last to the lovely lake of Indawgyi,
which I had in vain tried to reach in 1894.[277] From Hopin on the Mu
Valley Railway the distance is only some thirty miles, which we rode
leisurely in three or four easy stages. With us were Mr. Hertz,[278]
the very able and distinguished Deputy Commissioner of Myitkyina, and
Mr. W. Scott, one of his Assistant Superintendents, whose knowledge
of Kachin language, folklore, and customs is extensive and peculiar.
Very impressive is the panorama of the lake, lying in a semi-circle
of hills, with few traces of civilized intrusion. A pagoda here and
there on its green banks adds a picturesque touch to the scene. We
sought but did not find the floating islands of which we had heard long
ago. Indawgyi lies on the border of a fertile country once populous,
but devastated after a Kachin rising not long before the Annexation.
It is slowly recovering, and as population increases will once more
be a rich harvest-field. Thence we paid a last visit to Myitkyina
and the confluence.[279] More precious than the Commissioner, the
Lieutenant-Governor was not allowed to shoot the rapids. He was
induced to skirt them on a pony. Of the rise and progress of Myitkyina
I have already written. Then for the last time, with many regrets, we
passed through the glorious First Defile and bade farewell to it for
ever.

It were ungracious to close this discursive record without expressing
my grateful obligations to those who worked with me in the last
responsible years of my service. No Lieutenant-Governor ever had a
better personal staff or more capable Secretaries. If I take leave
to mention Mr. F. C. Gates,[280] Mr. W. F. Rice, C.S.I., Mr. Lionel
Jacob,[281] Mr. R. E. V. Arbuthnot, Mr. G. F. Arnold, C.I.E., Mr.
F. Lewisohn among Secretaries; Major F. J. Fraser, the late Mr. D.
Shearme, Captain A. F. S. Hill, R.E., Mr. C. S. Pennell, Captain E. L.
Caldecott, R.A., among officers of the personal Staff, it is not that
I value less highly the loyalty and good service of their colleagues.
If I were to mention Commissioners, district, and departmental officers
to whom I am indebted, I must name practically the whole Commission and
plagiarize many pages of the Civil List.

So after a chequered career we bade farewell to Burma, fairest and
brightest of Eastern lands, the memory of whose happy people will
always be enshrined in our hearts.



GLOSSARY


[Containing only Burmese words used more than once, or not explained in
text or notes.]

 _amat_ = Minister.

 _atu-ma-shi_ = incomparable. “There is none like her--none.”

 _bein-sa_ = opium-eater.

 _bo_ = chief, leader.

 _da_ = a knife of any sort.

 _Ein-she-min_ = heir-apparent.

 _gyi_ = great.

 _hlutdaw_ = Council of State.

 _kala_ = barbarian, a foreigner from the West.

 _kappiya-taga_ = a lay attendant of a monastery.

 _kin-bya_ = a somewhat familiar form of address.

 _ko-mi_ = a game of cards.

 _ku-tho-daw_ = royal merit.

 _kyaung_ = monastery.

 _kyaung-taga_ = founder of a monastery.

 _maung_ = much the same as “Mr.”

 _min_ = King, lord.

 _mingyi_ = great lord, high official; in this book, one of the four
     chief Ministers of State.

 _min-laung_ = an embryo _min_.

 _min-tha_ = Prince, son of a _min_.

 _Mi-paya_ = Queen.

 _my̆o_ = city, town, township, circle.

 _my̆o-ôk_ = officer in charge of a township, a member of the
     Subordinate Civil Service.

 _my̆o-ôk-gavaw_ = My̆o-ôk’s wife.

 _my̆o-sa_ = a title of a Shan chief (in his book).

 _my̆o-thu-gyi_ = head of a _my̆o_ or circle.

 _my̆o-wun_ = town magistrate.

 _nan_    } = palace.
 _nandaw_ }

 _nat_ = a spiritual being.

 _neik-ban_--_Nirvána_ = the state of rest.

 _pa-dauk_ = a tree yielding excellent timber and bearing lovely
     flowers.

 _pa-ya_ = a pagoda, a sacred image, a title of honour = lord.

 _pè-nin_ = helmsman.

 _pôn-gyi_ = a monk; literally, “great glory.”

 _pôn-na_ = Hindus of Mandalay, descendants of captives from Assam or
     Manipur.

 _pwè_ = an assembly, most commonly an entertainment of a dramatic
     nature.

 _pya-that_ = a terraced spire.

 _sa-daw_ = a monk of high position.

 _Saw-bwa_ = a title of a Shan chief.

 _sa-ye-daw-gyi_ = clerks or secretaries of the _hlutdaw_.

 _shwe_ = gold, golden.

 _Su-paya_ = a Princess of royal birth on both sides.

 _taik_ = a territorial division, called in English a “circle.”

 _taik-thu-gyi_ = headman of a circle.

 _tamein_ = a woman’s skirt.

 _taung-ya_ = hill-cultivation.

 _tha-tha-na-baing_ = head of the monastic Order.

 _thu-gyi_ = headman; literally, “great man.”

 _twet_ = a term applied to a monk who renounces his Order.

 _win_ = a house and grounds.

 _wun_ = an official title of varying denotation.

 _yo-ma_ = a range of hills; literally, “backbone.”

 _za-yat_ = a rest-house.

 _ze-gyo_ = the great bazaar or market at Mandalay.



FOOTNOTES:


[1] _Môk-so-bo-myo_, the hunter’s city.

[2] See p. 107.

[3] Great or headman of the circle.

[4] Principal taxpayer.

[5] Headman of the village.

[6] Members of the Provincial Civil Service.

[7] Literally, heads of townships, members of the Subordinate Civil
Service.

[8] Major-General T. Lowndes, I.S.C.

[9] Mr. B. Ribbentrop, C.I.E.

[10] The late Sir Augustus Rivers Thompson, K.C.S.I., Lieut.-Governor
of Bengal.

[11] This term, formerly in ordinary use, is now obsolete.

[12] Paddy is the local name for unhusked rice.

[13] _Gyi_, great.

[14] Major-General Horace Browne, I.S.C.

[15] Colonel C. H. E. Adamson, C.I.E.

[16] Mr. A. H. Hildebrand, C.I.E.

[17] Called after General Godwin, who commanded the force in the Second
War.

[18] The population of Rangoon in 1881 was 134,176; in 1911 it numbered
293,316. In 1878 its trade was valued at £10,484,469, as compared with
£32,040,000 in 1911 (private trade alone).

[19] A Chief Commissioner, newly arrived, whose face was not yet
familiar, was told by a barber in the town, in the course of his
ministration, that he should try to join the gymkhana, as that was the
way to get into society.

[20] Afterwards of the Commission.

[21] _Nat_, a spiritual being in Burmese mythology. For a full account
of nats the curious may refer to Sir Richard Temple’s learned and
sumptuous work “The Thirty-Seven Nats.”

[22] This is, however, a matter of taste. A lady told me that the only
thing which made it worth while to come to Rangoon was the Strand
Hotel, with its general comfort and its incomparable omelette. The
pagoda merely impressed her as “a messy place.” Perhaps she was only
playing upon the poor Indian’s simplicity.

[23] _Kala_ is as nearly as possible barbarian, and has a connotation
of contempt. It is applied by the Burmese to all foreigners from the
West, Indians or Europeans. A Chinaman is a cousin, so is a Siamese.
Neither of these is a kala.

[24] The late Mr. G. D. Burgess, C.S.I.

[25] The late Sir Charles Aitchison, K.C.S.I., successively Member of
Council and Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab.

[26] Maung Pe, I.S.O., K.S.M.

[27] The first Viceroy was Lord Canning. Many people erroneously think
that Clive or, perhaps, Warren Hastings was the first who attained that
dignity.

[28] _Mingyi_, one of the four principal ministers. Literally, great
lord.

[29] _Mintha_, prince.

[30] See p. 126.

[31] There is a subtlety here. _Ko_ is one of the Burmese equivalents
of Mr., more respectful than Maung.

[32] Council of State at Mandalay.

[33] As to grammar, Latter helped us in those early years. Students of
to-day, more fortunate, have the invaluable help of Mr. Bridges’ book.

[34] What it really wrote was “clearness and simplicity.”

[35] Early breakfast.

[36] The late Colonel F. D. Maxwell, C.I.E.

[37] The late Sir Edward Spence Symes, K.C.I.E.

[38] Sir Colin Scott-Moncrieff, K.C.S.I., K.C.M.G.

[39] The late Sir Charles Bernard, K.C.S.I., for some years Secretary
in the Revenue and Statistics Department at the India Office.

[40] “Don’t let them do that, they’ll take me for a Burmese Minister,”
he called out, as officious underlings were hustling some carts out of
his path as he rode through Mandalay.

[41] Among many mistaken appreciations of Burmese character is the
notion that Burmans have no sense of gratitude. This story indicates
the contrary. Since my retirement I have been touched by the frequent
receipt of letters and other tokens of remembrance from Burmese friends
obviously disinterested.

[42] _Ti_, an umbrella; also the ornamental summit of a pagoda.

[43] The Arakan Pagoda, as we call it, at Mandalay.

[44] Sergeant or Thugyi’s wife.

[45] _A-pyo-gyi._

[46] _Tha-yet-my̆o_, not the city of mangoes, as might be supposed, but
the city of slaughter.

[47] Streams.

[48] In _taungya_ cultivation, the farmer prepares a piece of
forest-land by setting fire to the trees and undergrowth, and
fertilizing the ground with the ashes. Rice and vegetables are sown
broadcast. Except by careful Chins, the same piece of land is not used
again till the forest growth has been renewed. It is a wasteful plan,
rightly discouraged.

[49] Tiger fence.

[50] _Da_, a knife; in this case a Burmese sword.

[51] _Paso_, _lôngyi_, skirts worn by Burmese men, the former of ampler
size.

[52] The Burmese man’s headgear.

[53] Local civil officer.

[54] In Mandalay, in 1886, a _parvenu_ official was guilty of the same
breach of decorum on entering my office. I made no remark at the time,
but I mentioned the incident to his friends. The Prime Minister seemed
surprised that the earth had not opened and swallowed up that fearful
man. The offence was not repeated.

[55] Now Sir John Jardine, K.C.I.E., M.P. for Roxburghshire.

[56] Elephant driver.

[57] Colonel William Cooke, lately Commissary-General in Madras.

[58] _Atwin Wun_, one of the classes of Ministers, so called from being
nominally employed inside (atwin) the Palace, near the person of the
King.

[59] As Burma was not under the Madras Government, this arrangement was
anomalous and inconvenient; after the war it was abolished.

[60] The late Sir Godfrey Clerk, K.C.V.O., C.B.

[61] Now Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., Inspector-
General, Royal Irish Constabulary.

[62] Major-General Sir George Pretyman, K.C.M.G., C.B., R.A., whom I
met not again till he came to succeed Sir Donald Macleod at May-my̆o,
where he spent the last year of his service in command of the Burma
Division.

[63] _Yôma_, a range of hills; literally, backbone.

[64] The Right Honourable Sir Henry Primrose, P.C., K.C.B., C.S.I.,
I.S.O.

[65] The Earl of Cromer, P.C., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.M.G., K.C.S.I., C.I.E.

[66] Guardians of the Royal life.

[67] Sir Charles Crosthwaite, K.C.S.I.

[68] Mr. C. G. Bayne, C.S.I., whose early retirement deprived the
Province of an invaluable officer.

[69] Sir Alfred Irwin, C.S.I., lately a Judge of the Chief Court.

[70] The Myingun Prince was a son of Mindôn Min, who in the year 1867
rebelled against his father. Defeated, he fled to Lower Burma, where he
continued to plan mischief. He was deported to India; later, he escaped
to French territory, and lived for many years at Saigon. He was long
a source of some apprehension to Government, and a likely cause of
trouble; but I think for some time he has been regarded as harmless.

[71] Messengers.

[72] Broad hat made of bamboo.

[73] Most of this paragraph is extracted verbatim from my Report on the
Administration of Upper Burma in 1886.

[74] Administrative Report for 1886 _ut supra_.

[75] _Ibid._

[76] A woman’s skirt.

[77] The late General Sir Harry Prendergast, V.C., G.C.B.

[78] The late Field-Marshal Sir George White, V.C., G.C.B., G.C.S.I.,
G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E., G.C.V.O., O.M., Commander-in-Chief in India, the
heroic defender of Ladysmith.

[79] The late General Sir W. Penn Symons, K.C.B., who served with the
highest distinction in Burma and India, and met a soldier’s death at
Talana Hill.

[80] The late Sir Edward Sladen.

[81] Nephew of Sir Arthur Phayre; he died for his country in June,
1886, at Padein, near Minbu.

[82] The subjoined table shows the succession of the Kings of the House
of Alaungpăyá. The dates and details were gathered from the lips of
Ministers in 1886:

                        Alaungpăyá (1752-1760).
                             |
          +------------------+--------------------+
          |                                       |
    2. Naungdaw         6. Bodaw Paya       3. Sinbyu-yin
     Mintayagyi          (1781-1819).         Mintayagyi
    (1760-1763).              |              (1763-1776).
          |                   |                   |
    5. Paungga Min        Einshe Min          4. Singu
    (reigned seven       (died before         Mintayagyi
    days in 1781).        his father).       (1776-1781).
                              |
          +-------------------+-----------------+
          |                                     |
    7. Bagyidaw Paya    8. Shwebo Min  (King Tharrawaddy)
      (1819-1838).            |             (1838-1846).
                              |
                +-------------+-----------+
                |                         |
          9. Pagan Min             10. Mindôn Min
          (1846-1852).              (1852-1878).
                                          |
                                   11. Thebaw Min
                                    (1878-1885).

[83] Royal Herald.

[84] _Wun_, a local official of varying rank; probably in this case
about equal to a subdivisional officer.

[85] Head revenue officer.

[86] Major-General T. Lowndes, I.S.C.

[87] Colonel C. H. E. Adamson, C.I.E.

[88] Wife (in this case widow) of the chief local authority.

[89] Incomparable.

[90] Council of Ministers.

[91] Monastery.

[92] The Hill of Peace.

[93] This stone disappeared the day after the occupation of Mandalay.
It was never suggested that any of the force of occupation was guilty
of the theft.

[94] Pagoda of Royal Merit.

[95] U Pe Si, C.I.E., one of the first Upper Burmans to receive a
British decoration.

[96] The late Mr. T. F. Fforde, of the Burma Commission, who died as
Deputy Commissioner of Sagaing.

[97] Queen.

[98] _Mintha_, prince.

[99] See p. 30.

[100] The late Major-General R. A. P. Clements, C.B., D.S.O.

[101] Major-General H. d’U. Keary, C.B., D.S.O.

[102] Colonel R. M. Rainey-Robinson, C.B.

[103] Horse-keepers.

[104] Technically, a dacoit is one of five or more persons banded
together for purposes of robbery. It has been the custom to apply the
term to all our opponents in Upper Burma, after the King’s surrender.
Even technically, the use was almost invariably justified.

[105] Circle headman, much like a Taik-Thugyi in Lower Burma.

[106] Cavalrymen.

[107] P. 130.

[108] The Right Hon. Sir Mortimer Durand, P.C., G.C.M.G., K.C.S.I.,
K.C.I.E., successively Minister at Teheran and Ambassador at Madrid and
Washington.

[109] The late Sir Alexander Mackenzie, K.C.S.I., Chief Commissioner of
Burma, Member of Council, and Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal.

[110] Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace, K.C.I.E., K.C.V.O., best known,
perhaps, as the author of the standard work on Russia.

[111] Field-Marshal Lord Nicholson, G.C.B., R.E.

[112] General Sir Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., D.S.O.

[113] Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., Inspector-
General Royal Irish Constabulary.

[114] Lieutenant-General Sir Reginald Pole-Carew, K.C.B., C.V.O., M.P.

[115] Palace.

[116] Temporary pavilion.

[117] Mr. St. Barbe had a marked turn for letters. Some of his papers
may be found in the _Cornhill Magazine_ of the seventies.

[118] The late Mr. G. J. S. Hodgkinson, C.S.I., afterwards the first
Judicial Commissioner of Upper Burma.

[119] Now Mr. Taw Sein Ko, I.S.O., recipient of the Kaiser-i-Hind
medal, Superintendent of the Burma Archæological Survey. I gratefully
acknowledge much valuable help from him in the preparation of this book.

[120] Messenger.

[121] Raja lôg ate haiṅ

[122] See p. 27.

[123] See p. 126.

[124] See p. 67 _et seq._

[125] Already mentioned, p. 125.

[126] There is one more who has lived in obscurity in Rangoon for many
years.

[127] See p. 122.

[128] _Supaya_ means a Princess of royal parentage on both sides.
Except the King’s sister, there was in Mandalay only one real holder of
the title, the Pyinzi Supaya.

[129] Elder royal sister.

[130] Queen.

[131] See p. 270.

[132] See pp. 123-4.

[133] See p. 210 _et seq._

[134] Headman of a town or circle, much like a Taik-Thugyi in Lower
Burma.

[135] Village headman.

[136] Sir Frederic Fryer, K.C.S.I., Chief Commissioner and first
Lieutenant-Governor of Burma.

[137] Sir James Digges la Touche, K.C.S.I., Lieutenant-Governor of the
United Provinces and a Member of the Council of India.

[138] The late Mr. H. P. Todd-Naylor, C.S.I., C.I.E., Commissioner and
acting Financial Commissioner.

[139] Sir J. George Scott, K.C.I.E.

[140] Colonel H. A. Browning, afterwards Chief Commissioner of the
Andaman Islands.

[141] Mr. B. S. Carey, C.I.E., Commissioner.

[142] Mr. H. M. S. Matthews, C.S.I., Settlement Commissioner.

[143] The late Major-General M. Prothero, C.B., C.S.I., afterwards
commanding the Burma Division.

[144] Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army.

[145] Colonel E. T. Gastrell.

[146] _Bo_, a chief or leader.

[147] “The Pacification of Burma.”

[148] See p. 106.

[149] Chief of eleven hundred and fifty men. He was also called the
Mobye-Sitkè-gyi.

[150] Perhaps most familiar to English readers in “A Persian Passion
Play”--Matthew Arnold’s “Essays in Criticism.”

[151] See p. 146.

[152] This solemn farce is, I think, still played. Of course, no
astrology is needed. The method of calculation is explained in Sir
Alfred Irwin’s learned book on the Burmese Calendar.

[153] Literally, great blood-drinker, a Burmese official designation of
various connotation. Tun Baw was hereditary door-keeper and custodian
of the Hlutdaw building. He still survives in receipt of a modest
pension for faithful service.

[154] Earthen pots.

[155] See p. 115.

[156] _Brinjal_, a vegetable; _jingal_, a small cannon.

[157] See p. 123.

[158] Lord High Admiral.

[159] Sir J. George Scott, K.C.I.E.

[160] See p. 266. The Myowun died this year.

[161] Embankment.

[162] Fire-carriage.

[163] Pônkan was a bogey to the people of Bhamo till it was settled,
without much difficulty, by Sir George Wolseley in 1889.

[164] The highest title of a Shan chief.

[165] See p. 17.

[166] Chief wife.

[167] House and compound.

[168] Advisers, ministers.

[169] See p. 149.

[170] Mr. A. H. Hildebrand, C.I.E.

[171] Sir J. George Scott, K.C.I.E.

[172] General Sir Edward Stedman, G.C.B., K.C.I.E., successively
Inspector-General of Police in Burma, Quartermaster-General in India,
General Officer Commanding the Burma Division, and Military Secretary
at the India Office, one of the most distinguished officers of the
Bengal Army.

[173] Pickled tea.

[174] My wife spent the hot season of 1888 at May-my̆o, the first
Englishwoman who ever visited it.

[175] _Hein_, a Shan official of about the standing of a Circle Thugyi
in Burma.

[176] 13s. 4d.

[177] See p. 45 _et seq._

[178] The suppleness of Burmese women is remarkable. To lean backwards
and pick up with the eyelid a rupee placed on the floor is not an
unknown feat.

[179] Sir George White’s close connection with Upper Burma was never
forgotten. When Ladysmith was relieved, the Upper Burma Club sent
him a telegram of congratulation, of which we received a courteous
acknowledgment, probably the only instance of an exchange of telegrams
between Mandalay and Ladysmith.

[180] A great deal of nonsense has been written from time to time on
the subject of the Burmese custom of _Shiko_. A Burman coming into
the presence of a superior, a monk, a member of the royal house, an
official, an elder of his family, adopts an attitude akin to kneeling,
and places the palms of his hands together. Placing the palms of the
hands together and slightly raising them is the essence of the attitude
of respect. It is a charming and graceful salutation. In European
schools boys are taught to adopt instead a weird caricature of a
military salute or a debased imitation of the Indian salaam, which they
do ungracefully and with the ugliest effect. I do not care very much
for the prostration on the floor, and think it may be overdone. I used
to make people of any standing sit uncomfortably on chairs. But what
objection there can be to the hands slightly lifted in reverence, a
natural and beautiful action, why it should be thought more dignified
to pretend to cast dust on the head in salaaming, I cannot understand.
The last outrage perpetrated in school is to teach boys to stand with
arms folded across their chests in the presence of their elders and
betters.

[181] Heads of _Gaings_, that is, collections of monasteries;
assistants to _Gaing-ôks_, heads of large monastic institutions.
Roughly, I think, this is a fair interpretation. In speaking of
these dignitaries, I abstain from the common practice of using the
nomenclature of Christian Churches. The analogies are superficial.

[182] In this instance a formal document setting forth the terms of the
recognition.

[183] A Hindu gentleman, orthodox but emancipated, after a tour in
Burma, did me the honour of dining at my table. In the course of the
evening he said to me that, after seeing Burma, he thought it much to
be regretted that Buddhism had not maintained itself as the prevailing
religion of India.

[184] One patriarchal Deputy Commissioner made a law that carts
entering his headquarter town, at least by the road which passed his
house, should not creak. Every cart before long carried a small pot
of oil, and at a respectful distance halted while the wheels were
effectively greased.

[185] _Thein_, a very sacred building, containing images of the
Buddha, where ordination services are held. The land on which a
_thein_ is built must be sacred in perpetuity and granted by the King.
In modern practice grants of land for _theins_ are signed by the
Lieutenant-Governor himself.

[186] See p. 45 _et seq._

[187] A feast and presentation of gifts to monks.

[188] A monk of high position.

[189] This excellent example has, I am glad to say, been followed.
Several gaols are regularly visited by monks, who exhort prisoners to
repentance and a new life.

[190] Then Commissioner of the Irrawaddy Division.

[191] Government.

[192] “The Pacification of Burma,” by Sir Charles Crosthwaite. (Arnold,
1912.)

[193] Terraced spires over the gates.

[194] See p. 106.

[195] I need not mention this sportsman’s name. It was neither Andrew
Thomson nor Jem Bernard.

[196] Messengers.

[197] Store-room.

[198] Valet.

[199] Table-servant.

[200] The late Mr. D. M. Smeaton, C.S.I., for some years M.P. for
Stirlingshire.

[201] Hidden by the curtain.

[202] Panthays are Chinese Mohammedans of Yunnan.

[203] Mr. H. F. Hertz, C.I.E.

[204] _Cf._ “The Pacification of Burma,” p. 239 _et seq._

[205] Brigadier-General Hugh O’Donnell, C.B., D.S.O.

[206] A curious sight often to be seen outside of Bhamo was a drove of
pigs brought from China, each pig at night picketed to a small peg.
Hard by baskets of walnuts deluded the stranger into the belief that
the pigs, like pack-bullocks, were made to carry the baskets.

[207] The station of that name on the Myitkyina line used perversely to
be called by railway engineers “One-two.”

[208] Mr. Fielding-Hall, the accomplished author of “The Soul of a
People.”

[209] Sir Frank Campbell Gates, K.C.I.E., C.S.I., Financial Commissioner
of Burma.

[210] Now a Judge of the Chief Court.

[211] “The Pacification of Burma.”

[212] It remained for the ingenuity of the Courts in later years to
discover that in the eye of the law the headman was not a respectable
inhabitant.

[213] Lieutenant-Colonel D. J. C. Macnabb, C.S.I., Commissioner of the
Minbu division.

[214] Colonel F. M. Rundall, C.B., D.S.O.

[215] Lieutenant-Colonel F. S. Le Quesne, V.C., R.A.M.C.

[216] Mr. E. S. Carr, now Conservator of Forests.

[217] Afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal.

[218] Lord MacDonnell of Swinford, P.C., G.C.S.I., K.C.V.O.

[219] Sir Edward Stedman, already often mentioned.

[220] Mr. A. H. Hildebrand, C.I.E.

[221] Sir J. George Scott, K.C.I.E.

[222] “The Pacification of Burma.”

[223] A full account of the Shans is to be found in Mrs. Leslie Milne’s
charming book, “The Shans at Home.”

[224] _Myelat_ = middle country--the name given to the small Western
States bordering on Burma proper.

[225] The Honourable Saw Maung (_Sao Mawng_), C.I.E., K.S.M., Member of
the Local Legislative Council.

[226] See note, p. 138.

[227] Mounted military police.

[228] Sun helmet.

[229] Sir G. W. Shaw, C.S.I., acting Lieutenant-Governor of Burma.

[230] Nursery of seedlings.

[231] Mr. E. C. S. George, C.I.E., I.C.S. (retired), whom ill-health
alone prevented from attaining the highest distinction.

[232] See p. 250.

[233] General the Right Honourable Sir Henry Brackenbury, P.C., G.C.B.,
K.C.S.I., R.A.

[234] Sir William John Cuningham, K.C.S.I.

[235] Now Major-General Sir Hamilton Bower, K.C.B., recently commanding
the Abor Expedition.

[236] Arrangements.

[237] Surgeon-General O. E. P. Lloyd, V.C., R.A.M.C.

[238] See p. 76.

[239] Early breakfast.

[240] In recent years much of the country east of the ’Nmaikha has been
taken under administration. Forts have been built and roads made far
north of ’Nsentaru.

[241] See p. 305.

[242] _Kazins._

[243] Maung Aung Zan, K.S.M., District Judge. See p. 25.

[244] A viss was then equal to 3.65 pounds avoirdupois. It has now been
standardized at 3.60 pounds.

[245] Native servant (_bhai_).

[246] A dacoit leader in Tharrawaddy in the early days of the
pacification of Pegu (1852-1860). This reward was offered by the
Government of India instead of the modest two thousand suggested by
Sir Arthur Phayre. Gaung Gyi went across the frontier when Tharrawaddy
became too hot. I met some of his descendants in Mandalay.

[247] Major W. R. Stone, I.A.

[248] I refrain from specifying many others, still living, lest by
naming some I seem to slight others equally worthy.

[249] See p. 122.

[250] See p. 166.

[251] For years afterwards, perhaps to this day, as a measure of
superabundant caution, the city gates were closed early in the night,
to the annoyance and inconvenience of strayed revellers returning late
from dance or dinner without the walls.

[252] Brigadier-General W. H. Dobbie, C.B., commanding a brigade in
India.

[253] See p. 195.

[254] For many years Chinese adviser to the Government of Burma.

[255] Colonel F. B. Longe, C.B., R.E., formerly Surveyor-General in
India.

[256] Colonel E. W. M. Norie, A.D.C., Assistant Military Secretary at
the War Office.

[257] Major J. W. L. ffrench-Mullen, C.I.E., Commandant of the
Myitkyina Battalion of Military Police.

[258] A temporary hall built for the occasion, of mats and bamboos,
gaily adorned with flowers and curtains and paper ornaments.

[259] Teacher.

[260] See p. 115.

[261] Sir Harvey Adamson, K.C.S.I., Lieutenant-Governor of Burma,
formerly Member of the Council of the Governor-General.

[262] The late Sir Denzil Ibbetson, K.C.S.I., Lieutenant-Governor of
the Punjab.

[263] The late Sir Edward Baker, K.C.S.I., afterwards Lieutenant-
Governor of Bengal, whose early death we have had but lately to deplore.

[264] I am aware that he has to obtain the Viceroy’s concurrence; but
he has the advantage of the last word.

[265] I need hardly say (as I proposed it) that I regard this as a
sound measure.

[266] See note on p. 295.

[267] Some of these officers are Arakanese, one a Talaing; all are
natives of Burma.

[268] I must not be thought to regard these addresses with levity. I
appreciated them highly, and have preserved them all.

[269] I have elsewhere paid my humble tribute of respect to Dr.
Cushing’s memory. The first person to join with me in lamenting his
loss was the Right Reverend Bishop Cardot, of the Roman Catholic
Church. Our own Bishop was not backward in expressing his sorrow and
appreciation. In Burma, at least, there is some unity among Christians.

[270] Mr. G. C. B. Stirling, C.I.E.

[271] See p. 175.

[272] House of a Shan Chief.

[273] Skirt.

[274] Knife, of any size.

[275] Kakusandha, Konagamana, Kassapa, Gaudama.

[276] Eaters (= owners) of wells.

[277] See p. 250.

[278] Mr. W. A. Hertz, C.S.I.

[279] See p. 249.

[280] Sir Frank Campbell Gates, K.C.I.E., C.S.I.

[281] Sir Lionel Jacob, K.C.S.I., too soon carried off to be Secretary
to the Government of India in the Public Works Department.



INDEX


 Adamson, Colonel C. H. E., 9, 114, 123, 166, 213, 221

 Adamson, Sir H., 8, 284, 286

 Aitchison, Sir C. U., 18, 26

 Akyab, 297, 299

 Alaungpaya, 2, 107, 108, 216

 Allan-myo, 74 _et seq._

 Allen, Mr. C. F. E., 17, 171

 Amarapura, 120, 181

 Annexation of Upper Burma, 140, 142

 Arakan Pagoda, 121, 197, 200

 Arbuthnot, Mr. R. E. V., 306

 Ardagh, Sir J., 244

 Arnold, Mr. G. F., 306

 Art industries, 63 _et seq._

 Atlay, Mr. F., 204

 A-tu-ma-shi Monastery, 118, 121

 Aung, Maung Myat Tun, 295

 Ava, 106, 129, 130, 132

 Ava, Earl of, 138

 Aw, Bo, 207


 Baber, Mr. C., 222

 Bahadur Shah, 208, 209

 Băkht, Mirza Jamshíd, 209

 Băkht, Prince Jawan, 209

 Banmauk, 252

 Barnes, Sir H. S., 286

 Bassein, 10, 17, 74, 260, 297

 Baw, Tun, 164

 Bayne, Mr. C. G., 90, 94, 207, 218

 Beresford, Lord W., 139, 244

 Bernard, Sir C. E., 52, 53, 92, 94, 95, 104, 114, 115, 116, 125, 134,
   136, 140, 143, 144, 149, 154, 155, 157, 160, 161, 168, 170, 173, 176,
   182, 189, 257

 Bernard, Mr. J. H., 144

 Bernard-myo, 203

 Bhamo, 170, 211 _et seq._, 223, 239, 242, 244, 251, 252, 272, 287

 Bigaudet, Bishop, 49

 Boat-races, 61

 Bôn, Thandawzin So, 111

 Bower, Sir H., 245

 Bowers, Captain A., 304

 Bowers, Lieutenant H. R., 304

 Boxing, 73

 Brackenbury, Sir H., 244

 Bradford, Sir E., 224

 Bridges, Mr. J. E., 173

 Briscoe, Rev. J. D., 86

 Browning, Colonel H. A., 158

 Buddha, relics of, 199

 Buddhism, 183 _et seq._

 Burgess, Mr. G. D., 18, 19, 20, 24, 51, 81, 90, 92, 95, 99, 156, 217,
   255, 277

 Burma, Lower, disorder in, 137, 221

 Bwa, Maung Ba, 261, 264

 Bya, U., 25


 Caldecott, Captain E. L., 306

 Cardot, Bishop, 298

 Carew, Sir R. Pole-, 138

 Carey, Mr. B. S., 158, 221

 Carter, Mr. G. M. S., 114, 166, 204

 Carving, wood, 65

 Caste, absence of, 67

 Cattle theft, 80

 Chamberlain, Sir N., 88, 138

 Chesney, Sir G., 116

 Chess, Burmese, 57

 Chief Court, 280, 285

 Chindwin River, 10, 300

 Chin-lôn, 59

 Chin Hills, 170, 221

 Chinese Boundary, 244, 271 _et seq._

 Chinese, relations with, 243

 Chinese Shan States, 275

 Chisholm, Mr. M. J., 114

 Cho, Bo, 161, 259, 260

 Churchill, Lord R., 122, 258

 Claims against Government, 169

 Clandeboye, Lord, 138

 Class distinctions, 151

 Clements, Major-General R. A. P., 129, 133

 Clerk, Sir G., 88

 Climate, 85

 Cloney, Mr. E. P., 217

 Cock-fighting, 59

 Collins, Mr. G. G., 14, 106

 Connaught, T.R.H. the Duke and Duchess of, 287

 Connaught, H.R.H. Princess Patricia of, 287

 Cooke, Colonel W., 86

 Cooper, Captain, 103

 Co-operative Credit Movement, 297

 Copleston, Mr. F. S., 280, 285

 Courneuve, Mr. de la, 51

 Cromer, Earl of, 89

 Crosthwaite, Sir C. H. T., 90, 161, 168, 201, 203, 219, 231, 233, 234,
   257

 Cuningham, Sir W. J., 244

 Curzon, Earl, 286, 287, 288

 Cushing, Rev. J. N., 298


 Dacoits, 132, 161

 d’Avéra, M., 30

 Davies, Colonel H. N., 86

 Decentralization Commission, 81, 292

 Defile, First, 215, 251, 306
   Second, 214

 Delhi, Durbar, at, 130, 284

 Delhi, Royal Family of, 208-10

 Deputy Commissioner, position and powers of, 23

 Disarmament, 168

 Divorce, 71, 72

 Dobbie, Brigadier-General, 269

 Drever, Captain J. W., 248

 Drinks, intoxicating, 56, 57

 Dufferin and Ava, Marquis of, 138, 139, 141, 166

 Dufferin and Ava, Marchioness of, 139, 141

 Dun, Captain E. W., 178

 Durand, Sir H. M., 138

 Durians, 68

 Dutt, Mr. R. C., 293


 Education, elementary, 184

 Einshemin, 122, 149

 Elgin, Earl of, 284

 Eliott, Mr. L., 213

 Elliott, Sir C., 224

 English, Mr. A. E., 297

 Eyre, Colonel G. S., 106, 123, 259


 Fenwick, Major, 129

 Ferrars, Mr. M. H., 34

 Fforde, Mr. T. F., 5, 123, 166

 ffrench-Mullen, Major J. W. L., 272

 Finlay, Sir C. K., 304

 Fleming, Mr. A. S., 106, 123, 218, 237

 Football, 59

 Forde, Brigadier-General, 105

 Forest Department, 6

 Fowler, Mr. E. O., 221

 Fraser, Major F. J., 306

 Fryer, Sir F. W. R., 156, 218, 235, 237, 256


 Gambling, 57-59

 Gastrell, Colonel E. T., 159

 Gates, Sir F. C., 218, 306

 George, Mr. E. C. S., 242, 245, 251, 271, 272, 277, 298

 Gordon, Mr. R., 51

 Grant, General U. S., 32

 Grey, Colonel W. F. H., 86

 Gyaw, Maung Tin, 261, 263, 264

 Gyi, Gaung, 260


 Hall, Mr. Fielding, 217

 Hamilton, Sir I., 138

 Harvey, Mr. W. L., 289

 Hassan, Prince, 152, 210

 Henzada, 10, 261

 Hertz, Mr. H. F., 213, 274

 Hertz, Mr. W. A., 305

 Hildebrand, Mr. A. H., 9, 176, 179, 226, 227, 233

 Hill, Captain A. F. S., 306

 Hindus and Mahomedans, 234 _et seq._

 Hkè, Saw, 175, 299

 Hladwe Sadaw, 189

 Hlaingdet, 231

 Hlethin Atwinwun, 166

 Hlutdaw, 118, 122, 123, 134, 143, 144, 145

 Hlwa, Maung, 129

 Hodgkinson, Mr. G. J. S., 144, 207

 Hopin, 305

 Houghton, Mr. B., 222


 Ibbetson, Sir D., 18, 289

 Ilbert Bill, 92-94

 Imlumshan, 277

 Indawgyi, 305

 Inle, 231

 Insects, 84

 Irrawaddy, _passim_

 Irrawaddy Division, 260

 Irrigation works, 240

 Irwin, Sir A. M. B., 95, 163


 Jacob, Sir L. M., 306

 Jade Mines, 213, 250

 James, Mr. H. W., 83

 Jardine, Sir J., 82

 Jubilee, H.M. Queen Victoria’s, 173, 180

 Judicial Administration, 5


 Kachin Hills, 170, 211, 214, 221, 242, 245

 Kachins, 241-242

 Kalaw, 231

 Kale, 226

 Kanaung, 95

 Kansi La, 213

 Kansi Naung, 213

 Karenni, 172, 226

 Katha, 217, 239, 252

 Kaunghmu-daw Pagoda, 135

 Kawlin, 217

 Kawlin Mintha, 148

 Keary, Major-General H. d’U., 129

 Kengtung (Kyaingtôn), 177, 225, 227, 298

 Kheddah, Elephant, 181

 King Mindôn, 27 _et seq._, 100, 109, 125, 148, 149, 166, 169, 180, 216

 King Pagan, 27, 147

 King Thebaw, 29, 107, 108, 109, 118, 125, 126, 169

 Kinwun Mingyi, 30, 101, 103, 104, 106, 109, 120, 134, 147, 186, 217,
   267

 Ko, Mr. Taw Sein, 144

 Kuthodaw Paya, 122

 Kyangin, 95

 Kyan-hnyat, 203

 Kyankmyaung Atwinwun, 86

 Kyaukpyu, 295, 299

 Kyi, Maung Shwe, 6

 Kyimyin Mipaya, 125


 Lacquer-work, 64

 Ladysmith, 182

 Land Alienation, 296

 Lansdowne, Marquis of, 244

 Lansdowne, Marchioness of, 244

 Lasa, 275

 Lashio, 10, 254

 La Touche, Sir J. D., 156

 Lat, Maung, 79 _et seq._

 Le, Ma Twe, 180

 Le Quesne, Colonel F. S., 221

 Le, Yindaw Ma, 180

 Ledi Sadaw, 197 _et seq._

 Lely, Sir F. P., 293

 Let-pet, 63

 Lewisohn, Mr. F., 306

 Limban Mipaya, 150

 Liu, General, 272 _et seq._

 Lloyd, Surgeon-General O. E. P., 245

 Loch, Mr., 159

 Longe, Colonel F. B., 272

 Lowndes, Major-General T., 5, 114, 115, 135

 Lu, Saw, 175

 Lu, Twet Nga, 227

 Lytton, Earl of, 27


 MacDermott, Mr. B. K. S., 82, 216

 MacDonnell, Lord, 224

 Mackenzie, Sir A., 138, 234, 235, 255, 256, 257

 Macnabb, Colonel D. J. C., 221, 261

 Macpherson, Sir H., 159

 Mahomedans and Hindus, 235 _et seq._

 Maingkaing Myosa, 180

 Mainglôn, 173, 299

 Maingtôn, 173

 Mali-kha, 248, 249

 Mandalay, _passim_

 Mansi, 252

 Marriage customs, 71, 146

 Matang (Matin), 276

 Mathews, Mr. H. M. S., 158

 Maung, Saw, 232-233

 Mawlamyaing-gyun, 41

 Maxwell, Colonel F. D., 51, 198

 May, Colonel, 178

 Maymy̆o, 178, 231, 254, 299

 Meiktila Supaya, 149

 Mergui, 299

 Min, Maung Tun, 295

 Minbu, 156

 Mindôn Min, 27 _et seq._, 100, 109, 125, 148, 149, 166, 169, 180, 216

 Mingin, Wun of, 111-113

 Minhla, 106, 114, 123

 Ministers, Council of, 145-146

 Minto, Earl of, 149, 287, 293

 Minto, Countess of, 287

 Missions, 49, 50

 Mobôn, 75

 Mogaung, 213, 250

 Mogôk, 177, 204, 205, 252, 298, 299

 Momien, 214

 Möñgmit (Momeik), 298

 Monks, Buddhist, 161, 183 _et seq._

 Morley, Viscount, 293

 Morrison, Dr., 214

 Morton, Captain B., 245

 Moulmein, 10

 Myanaung, 95 _et seq._

 Myaung-my̆a, 40, 73

 Myedè, 74 _et seq._

 Myelat, 225, 231, 233

 Myingun, Prince, 96, 125, 148

 Myingyan, 106, 114, 123, 129, 184, 259, 303

 Myitkyina, 10, 242, 249, 250, 305, 306

 Myotha, 132-133

 Myothugyis, 153


 Namkham, 177, 298

 Ngapi, 38, 62

 Ngathaing-gyaung, 261, 264

 Nicholson, Lord, 138

 Ningyan, 156

 ’Nmaikha, 248-249

 Norie, Colonel E. W. M., 272

 Norman, Brigadier-General, 105

 ’Nsentaru, 249

 Nuns, Buddhist, 192

 Nyaung-ôk Mintha, 30, 148

 Nyaung-yan Mintha, 30, 31, 148

 Nyaungywe, 231 _et seq._


 O, Maung Shwe, 39

 O, Min, 163

 O’Donnell, Brigadier-General H., 213

 Oil-fields, 303-304

 Ôktama, 161

 Ôn Saw, 233

 Opium, 55


 Pacification of Burma, the, 161, 202 _n._, 213 _n._, 219, 333 _n._

 Pagan, 106, 123, 141, 287, 302, 303

 Pagan Min, 27, 147

 Pagan Min, widow of, 147

 Pagoda, Shwe Dagôn, 11, 194, 197, 200

 Pakan Sadaw, 189

 Pakangyi Supaya, 149, 174

 Pakôkku, 114, 300

 Palace at Mandalay, 117 _et seq._, 284

 Pantanaw, 36 _et seq._, 260

 Parents, respect for, 162

 Patriarchal justice, 124

 Pe, Maung, 25

 Pegu, 258, 297

 Pegu Division, 235

 Peile, Colonel S. C. F., 296

 Pennell, Mr. C. S., 306

 Phayre, Sir A., 9, 28, 86, 92, 154, 204, 260 _n._

 Phayre, Mr. R., 106, 123, 162

 Pilcher, Mr. R. H., 7, 86, 87, 134, 135, 162, 176

 Pinlebu, 218, 252

 Pintha Mintha, 125, 126, 148

 Po, Maung, 82

 Police, 5, 78, 158, 296
   military, 159

 Pônkan, 170, 252

 Pônnas, 146, 163

 Prendergast, Sir H. N. D., 105, 106, 115, 118, 122, 143

 Pretyman, Sir G., 88

 Primrose, Sir H., 88

 Prome, 10, 114, 189

 Prothero, General M., 159

 Provincial Settlement, 289, 291

 Pwè, 45, 278

 Pyi, Maung, 140

 Pyin, Bo, 216

 Pyinmana, 156, 259

 Pyinmana Mintha, 125, 148

 Pyintha, 177, 254

 Pyinulwin, 177, 178

 Pyo, Maung Tet, 81

 Pyuntazá, 222


 Queen Sinbyumashin, 29

 Queen Supayalat, 29, 103, 107, 108, 109, 110, 115


 Rae, Mr. D. W., 272

 Raikes, Colonel F. D., 221

 Railway, Mandalay-Toungoo, 167, 224
   Mu Valley, 239
   Southern Shan States, 230

 Railways, 10

 Rainey-Robinson, Colonel R. M., 129, 133

 Rangoon, 11 _et seq._ and _passim_
   past and present, 18-23

 Ratnagiri, 109

 Rawlings, Mr. A. E., 100

 Rebellions, 270

 Redman, Captain, 113

 Regan, Mr., 54, 144

 Ribbentrop, Mr. B., 6

 Rice, Mr. W. F., 306

 Richard, Mr. H. J., 202

 Ripon, Marquis of, 52, 88, 93

 Roberts, Earl, 87, 88, 138, 139, 159, 169, 173

 Ronak Begam, 209, 210

 Ross, Mr. D., 221

 Ruby Mines, 203 _et seq._, 252

 Rundall, Colonel F. M., 221


 Sadôn, 246, 248

 Sagadaung, 203

 Sagaing, 67, 106, 130, 135, 239

 Saing, Kun, 170 _et seq._

 St. Barbe, Mr. H. L., 141

 Salween, 227, 232

 Sandford, Mr. J. D., 5

 Sandoway, 221, 299

 Sayedawgyi, 145

 Scott, Sir J. G., 59, 158, 165, 176, 179, 226, 227, 267, 268, 277

 Scott, Mr. W., 305

 Scott-Moncrieff, Sir C., 52

 Sè, Hein, 179

 Shah Zamani Begam, 209

 Shan States, 170, 225 _et seq._, 275, 278

 Shans at home, the, 230 _n._

 Shaw, Sir G. W., 240

 Shaw, Mr. R. B., 30

 Shearme, Mr. D., 306

 Shiko, 186 _n._

 Short, Mr. J., 14

 Shwe Dagôn Pagoda, 11, 194, 197, 200

 Shwebo, 2, 123, 216, 217, 240

 Shwegu, 215

 Shwehlan Myowun, 123, 165, 266

 Shwelaung, 39

 Si, Myowun U Pe, 123, 124, 143, 152

 Silver-work, 65

 Sima, 241, 245, 271

 Sinbaungwè, 77, 81

 Sinbaungwè, Wun of, 79

 Sinbo, 244, 251

 Sinbyumashin, Queen, 29

 Sinaing, 177

 Sinlumgaba, 272, 276

 Sittang River, 10

 Sladen, Sir E. B., 106, 122, 123, 125, 128, 134, 143, 276, 304

 Smeaton, Mr. D. M., 207, 208, 256

 Snadden, Mr. W. G., 267

 Snakes, 48, 301

 Stedman, Sir E., 176, 178, 219, 226

 Stedman, Fort, 231, 232, 234

 Stevenson, Mr. R. C., 106, 203

 Stirling, Mr. G. C. B., 299

 Stone, Major W. R., 260

 Street, Colonel C. W., 7, 92

 Su, Chit, 232

 Summers, Mr. E. W. B., 237

 Supayalat, Queen, 29, 103, 107, 108, 109, 110, 115

 Superstitions, 97

 Swè, Bo, 161

 Symes, Sir E. S., 51, 90, 92, 95, 114, 137, 207, 234, 235, 254

 Symons, Sir W. P., 105, 221

 Syriam, 304


 Tabet Myosa, 179

 Taingda Mingyi, 29, 86, 103, 134

 Tari, 56

 Taungbaing, 176

 Taung-gwin Mingyi, 162

 Taung-gyi, 232

 Taungya cultivation, 76

 Tavoy, 221, 299

 Tenancy Legislation, 296

 T’Êngyüeh, 214, 244

 Tha, Maung Shwe, 295

 Thabeik-kyin, 206

 Tharrawaddy, 222

 Thathanabaing, the, 187, 189-191

 Thaungthut, 301

 Thayazein Mipaya, 150

 Thayetmyo, 74 _et seq._

 Thazi, 231

 Thebaw Min, 29, 107, 108, 109, 118, 125, 126, 169

 Theinni, 176, 225

 Thetpau Mipaya, 150

 Thibaw, Sawbwa of (1), 171 _et seq._

 Thibaw, Sawbwa of (2), 175, 299

 Thibaw, State of, 171, 299

 Thompson, Sir A. R., 7

 Thomson, Mr. A., 144, 147

 Thônzè, 173, 176, 178, 180

 Ti, Bo, 212

 Tibet, 242, 245, 275

 Tiger stories, 15, 301, 302

 Tin, Maung, 145

 Titcomb, Dr. J. H., 34

 To, Bo, 224

 Todd-Naylor, Mr. H. P., 158, 222

 Tôk, Maung, 30, 126

 Tônbo, 176, 254

 Toungoo, 10, 88, 167, 224

 Tuck, Mr. H. N., 221

 Tucker, Mr. A. H., 258

 Tucker, Mr. H. St. G., 156

 Tun, Maung, 216

 Twomey, Mr. D. H. R., 218, 221


 U, Hla, 161


 Vaccination, 216

 Victoria Point, 300

 Village Law, 219


 Wakèma, 40

 Wales, T.R.H. the Prince and Princess of, 181, 233, 287

 Wales, H.R.H. Prince Albert Victor of, 224

 Wallace, Sir D. M., 138

 Warry, Mr. W., 272

 White, Sir G. S., 105, 143, 159, 170, 182

 Wilkinson, Mr. C. J., 5

 Women, Burmese, 68 _et seq._

 Wood carving, 65

 Wuntho, 211, 217, 221, 239, 252

 Yamèthin, 259

 Yan, Shwe, 161

 Yanaung Mintha, 30, 126

 Yatsauk, 179

 Yenangyaung, 304

 Yenangyaung Mingyi (1), 126

 Yenangyaung Mingyi (2), 124, 125, 126

 Yunnan, 210, 214, 274

 Yunnan-fu, 224


 Zan, Maung Aung, 25, 252, 294

 Zibingale, 176-177

 Zibingyi, 254

 Zinath Mahal, Begam, 208-209

 Zinaw, 248


              BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD.



    Transcriber's notes:

    The following is a list of changes made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

    illustrious of pure Bhuddist shrines, dominating the
    illustrious of pure Buddhist shrines, dominating the

    I spent in the office eleven years a period surpassed only,
    I spent in the office eleven years, a period surpassed only,

    Two days earlier the King of Burmah issued a proclamation
    Two days earlier the King of Burma issued a proclamation

    into Divisions, and Commissioners were appointed, In June,
    into Divisions, and Commissioners were appointed. In June,

    he was noosed and tied up in the Keddah, and the
    he was noosed and tied up in the Kheddah, and the

    At Sadagaung it was found that all the servants,
    At Sagadaung it was found that all the servants,

    Their son and daughter, Mirza Jamshíd Bakht and Ronak Begam,
    Their son and daughter, Mirza Jamshíd Băkht and Ronak Begam,

    In the morning the valleys were covered with a vale of mist;
    In the morning the valleys were covered with a veil of mist;

    Some of these officers are Arakenese, one a Talaing;
    Some of these officers are Arakanese, one a Talaing;

    the very able and distinguished Deputy Commmissioner of Myitkyina,
    the very able and distinguished Deputy Commissioner of Myitkyina,

    _myŏ-ôk-gavaw_ = Myŏ-ôk's wife.
    _my̆o-ôk-gavaw_ = My̆o-ôk's wife.

    _myo-thu-gyi_ = head of a _myo_ or circle.
    _my̆o-thu-gyi_ = head of a _my̆o_ or circle.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Civil Servant in Burma" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home