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: Cawnpore
Author: Trevelyan, George Otto
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 "Cawnpore" ***

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



CAWNPORE.



  CAWNPORE.


  BY
  G. O. TREVELYAN,
  AUTHOR OF "THE COMPETITION WALLAH."


  _THIRD EDITION._


  London and Cambridge:
  MACMILLAN AND CO.
  1866.

  _The Right of Translation and Reproduction is reserved._



  LONDON:
  R. CLAY, SON, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS,
  BREAD STREET HILL.



PREFACE.


The Author of this work has made it his aim to preserve a scrupulous
fidelity to the original sources of his information. The most trivial
allusions, the slightest touches, are equally authentic with the main
outlines of the story. The authorities most frequently consulted are:

1. The Depositions of sixty-three witnesses, Natives and Half-castes,
taken under the directions of Colonel Williams, Commissioner of Police
in the North-West Provinces.

2. A Narrative of Events at Cawnpore, composed by Nanukchund, a local
lawyer.

3. Captain Thomson's Story of Cawnpore.

4. The Government Narratives of the Mutiny, drawn up for the most part
by the civil officers in charge of the several districts. The Author
returns his most hearty thanks to Sir John Lawrence and the authorities
of the Calcutta Home Office, who, at the cost of great trouble to
themselves, supplied him with the copies of these invaluable documents
reserved for the use of the Indian Government.

  8, GROSVENOR CRESCENT.



CONTENTS.


                    PAGE
  THE STATION          1
  THE OUTBREAK        58
  THE SIEGE          112
  THE TREACHERY      179
  THE MASSACRE       245



CAWNPORE.



CHAPTER I.

THE STATION.


The city of Cawnpore lies on the south bank of the Ganges, which at
that spot is about a quarter of a mile in breadth, and this too in
the dry season: for, when the rains have filled the bed, the stream
measures two thousand yards from shore to shore. And yet the river
has still a thousand miles of his stately course to run before that,
by many channels and under many names, he loses himself in the waters
of the Bay of Bengal. In old times an officer appointed to Cawnpore
thought himself fortunate if he could reach his station within three
months from the day he left Fort William. But tow-ropes and punt-poles
are now things of the past, and the traveller from Calcutta arrives at
the end of his journey in little more than thirty hours.

By the treaty of Fyzabad, in 1775, the East India Company engaged to
maintain a brigade for the defence of Oude. The revenues of a rich
and extensive tract of country were appointed for the maintenance of
this force, which was quartered at Cawnpore, the principal town of
the district. In 1801, Lord Wellesley, who loved to carry matters
with a masterful hand, closed the mortgage, and the territory lapsed
to the Company, who accepted this new charge with some diffidence.
Indeed, they were not a little uneasy at the splendid rapacity of their
high-souled servant. No one understood better than he the full meaning
of the finest lines of that poet whose graceful diction none like
himself could imitate:--

  "Tu regere imperio populos Romane memento:
  Hæ tibi erunt artes: pacisque imponere morem;
  Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos."

But that policy which suited the temper of the Senate of old Rome
was not exactly of a nature to please the Directors of a Joint Stock
Company. It was very well for statesmen and generals to look for their
reward in the pages of history. It behoved City men to keep an eye on
the fluctuations of the Share list.

Thus it happened that, ever since the beginning of the last quarter
of the eighteenth century, Cawnpore had been a first-class military
station. In the spring of 1857 it had attained an importance to
which the events of the following summer gave a fatal shock. The
recent annexation of Oude was an additional motive for keeping a
strong hold on Cawnpore: for that city commanded the bridge over
which passed the high road to Lucknow, the capital of our newly
acquired province. At that time the station was occupied by three
regiments of sepoys, the First, the Fifty-third, and the Fifty-sixth
Bengal Infantry. The Second Cavalry, and a company of artillerymen,
brought up the strength of the native force to three thousand men. Of
Europeans and persons of European extraction, there were resident at
Cawnpore more than a thousand. There were the officers attached to
the sepoy battalions; sixty men of the Eighty-fourth regiment of the
British line; seventy-eight invalids belonging to the Thirty-second
regiment, then quartered at Lucknow, and destined to pass through
the most fearful trial from which ever men emerged alive; fifteen of
the Madras Fusileers; and fifty-nine of the Company's artillerymen:
in all, some three hundred soldiers of English birth. Then there
were the covenanted civilians, the aristocracy of Indian society;
the lesser officials attached to the Post-office, the Public Works,
and the Opium Departments; the Railway people; the merchants and
shopkeepers,--Europeans some, others half-castes, or, as they would
fain be called, Eurasians. There, too, (alas!) were the wives and
little ones of the men of all these classes and grades, and in no
slender proportion; for among our countrymen in India the marriage
state is in special honour. There likewise were a great number of
half-caste children belonging to the Cawnpore school, who were soon to
buy at a very dear price the privilege of having been begotten by an
European sire.

The military quarter was entirely distinct from the native city. And
here let the English reader divest himself at once of all European
ideas, and keep clear of them, as much as in him lies, during the whole
course of this narrative. Let him put aside all preconceived notions
of a barrack,--of a yard paved with rough stones, and darkened by
buildings four storeys high, at the windows of which lounge stalwart
warriors in various stages of _déshabille_, digesting their fresh
boiled-beef by the aid of a short pipe and a languid gossip. Let him
try to form to himself a picture of a military station in Northern
India, for it was within the precincts of such a station that was
played out the most terrible tragedy of our age.

The cantonments lay along the bank of the river, over a tract extending
six miles from north-west to south-east: for, wheresoever in Hindostan
Englishmen make their homes, no regard is had to economy of space. Each
residence stands in a separate "compound," or paddock, of some three
or four acres, surrounded by an uneven, crumbling mound and ditch,
with here and there a ragged hedge of prickly pear: for all over India
fences appear to exist rather for the purpose of marking boundaries
than for any protection they afford against intruders. The house, like
all houses outside the Calcutta Ditch, consists of a single storey,
built of brick, coated with white plaster;--the whole premises, if the
owner be a bachelor or a subaltern, in a most shabby and tumble-down
condition. A flight of half a dozen steps leads up to a verandah which
runs round three sides of the building. The noticeable objects here
will probably be a native tailor, working in the attitude adopted by
tailors in all lands where men wear clothes; a wretched being, squatted
on his haunches, lazily pulling the string of a punkah that passes
through a hole in the brickwork into the Sahib's bedroom, a monotonous
occupation, which from time to time he sweetens by snatches of sleep;
a Madras valet, spreading butter on the Sahib's morning toast with the
greasy wing of a fowl; and, against the windward wall, a row of jars of
porous red clay, in which water is cooling for the Sahib's morning bath.

The principal door leads at once into the sitting-room, a spacious,
ill-kept, comfortless apartment; the most conspicuous article being a
huge, oblong frame of wood and canvass suspended across the ceiling,
and the prevailing impression an overwhelming sense of the presence
of cobwebs. The furniture, which is scattered about in most unadmired
disorder, is in the last stage of dilapidation. Every article in an
Anglo-Indian household bears witness to the fact that Englishmen
regard themselves but as sojourners in the locality where fate and the
quartermaster-general may have placed them. A large rickety table in
the centre of the room is strewn with three or four empty soda-water
bottles, a half-emptied bottle of brandy, a corkscrew, glasses,
playing-cards, chessmen, an Hindostanee dictionary, an inkstand, a
revolver, a bundle of letters, a box of cigars, the supplement of
_Bell's Life_, and a few odd volumes from the regimental book-club--of
no very seductive quality, like enough, for the colonel's lady has
kept the new novels, and the doctor, who is secretary to the club, has
impounded the biographies, so that our ensign is fain to put up with
"Aids to Faith," and the third volume of the "History of the Inductive
Sciences." Then there are eight or ten chairs, a good half of which
might well claim to be invalided on the score of wounds and long
service; a couch with broken springs; a Japanese cabinet, bought as
a bargain when the old major was sold up; and an easy cane chair of
colossal dimensions, the arms of which are prolonged and flattened,
so as to accommodate the occupant with a resting-place for his feet.
In one corner stands a couple of hog-spears, supple, tough, and duly
weighted with lead and barbed with steel of proof; a regulation
sword; a buggy-whip; a hunting-crop; a double-barrelled rifle and a
shot-gun--weapons which the owner depreciates as archaic, expressing
his intention of providing himself, during his first visit to Europe,
with a complete outfit from Purdey. On nails driven into the plaster
hang a list of the men in the company to which the young fellow is
attached; a caricature of the paymaster; a framed photograph of the
cricket eleven of the public school where he was educated; and, if he
be of a humorous turn, the last wigging, or letter of admonition and
reproof, received from the colonel of his regiment.

In such a scene, and amidst such associations, does the English
subaltern wear out the weary hours of the interminable Indian day:
smoking; dozing; playing with his terrier; longing for the evening,
or for a call from a brother-officer, with whom he may discuss the
Army List, and partake of the ever-recurring refreshment of brandy
and soda-water; lazily endeavouring to get some little insight into
the languages of the hateful East by the help of a fat, fawning
native tutor, and a stupid and indecent Oordoo work on mythology;
pondering sadly on home landscapes and home recollections, as he gazes
across the sharply-defined line of shadow thrown by the roof of the
verandah into the outdoor heat and glare; with no pleasanter object
of contemplation than the Patna sheep belonging to the Station Mutton
Club, and his own modest stud, consisting of a raw-boned Australian
horse and an old Cabul pony picketed under a group of mango-trees near
the gate of the compound.

The centre apartment is flanked on either side by a smaller chamber;
both of which are employed as bedrooms, if, for the sake of company
or economy, our young friend is keeping house with some Addiscombe
chum. Otherwise, the least desirable is set apart as a lumber-room;
though, to judge from the condition of the articles in use, it is
hard to imagine what degree of shabbiness would qualify furniture to
become lumber in Bengal. The door into the Sahib's bedroom stands open,
like every other door in British India; the multitude of servants,
and the necessity for coolness, forbidding the very idea of privacy.
There stands a bedstead of wood, worm-eaten, unplaned, unpolished;
inclosed on all sides with musquito-curtains of white gauze, the edges
carefully tucked in beneath the mattress, through which is dimly
seen the recumbent form of the Sahib, clad in a silk shirt and linen
drawers, the universal nightdress of the East. The poor boy is doing
his best to recover, during the cooler morning hours, the arrears
of the sleepless night, which he has passed in a state of feverish
irritation--panting, perspiring, tossing from side to side in desire
of a momentary relief from the tortures of Prickly Heat, the curse of
young blood; anon, sallying into the verandah to rouse the nodding
punkah-puller, more happy than his wakeful master. Little of ornament
or convenience is to be seen around, save a capacious brass basin on
an iron stand, and half a dozen trunks, of shape adapted to be slung
in pairs on the hump of a bullock. An inner door affords a view into
a bath-room, paved with rough bricks; the bath consisting of a space
surrounded by a parapet some six inches high, in which the bather
stands while his servant sluices him with cold water from a succession
of jars. It may be that on a shelf at the bed's head are treasured some
objects, trifling indeed in value, but made very dear by association;
a few school prizes and leaving-books; a few sheets of flimsy pink
paper, closely written, soiled, and frayed at every fold; one or two
portraits in morocco cases, too sacred for the photographic album and
the inspection and criticism of a stranger. There is something touching
in these repositories, for they tell that, however much the lad may
appear to be absorbed in the pursuits and pleasures of the mess-room,
the parade-ground, the snipe-marsh, and the race-course, his highest
thoughts and dearest hopes are far away in that land where he is never
again to abide, until those hopes and thoughts have long been tamed and
deadened by years and troubles.

Such are the quarters of a British subaltern. The home of a married
pair may be somewhat more comfortable, and the residence of a man in
high office considerably more magnificent; but the same characteristics
prevail everywhere. A spirit of scrupulous order, and a snug domestic
air, are not to be attained in an Indian household. At best a
semi-barbarous profusion, an untidy splendour, and the absence of
sordid cares, form the compensation for the loss of English comfort.
Still, the lady must have her drawing-room, where she can display her
wedding-presents, and the purchases which she made at the Calcutta
auctions during the cold season before last. The Commissioner must
have his sanctum, where he can wallow in papers, and write letters
of censure to his collectors, letters of explanation to the Revenue
Board, and letters of remonstrance to the local military authorities.
The epicure cannot do without a roofed passage leading from his
kitchen to his parlour; nor the sporting man without a loose box for
the mare which he has entered for the Planter's Plate at Sonepore.
Then, too, gentlemen of horticultural tastes like to devote a spare
hour to superintending the labours of their gardeners: and the soil
of Cawnpore well repays attention. Most kinds of European vegetables
can be produced with success, while peaches and melons, shaddocks and
limes, grow in native abundance: together with those fruits which an
old Qui-hye loves so dearly, but which to a fresh English palate are a
poor substitute indeed for hautboys and ribstone pippins;--the mango,
with a flavour like turpentine, and the banana, with a flavour like an
over-ripe pear; the guava, which has a taste of strawberries, and the
custard-apple, which has no perceptible taste at all.

None of those institutions which render the ordinary life of the
English officer in India somewhat less monotonous and objectless were
wanting at Cawnpore. There was a church, whose fair white tower,
rising among a group of lofty trees, for more than one dull and dusty
mile greets the eyes of the traveller on the road from Lucknow. That
church, which has stood scatheless through such strange vicissitudes,
will soon be superseded by a more imposing temple, built to commemorate
the great disaster of our race. There were meeting-houses of divers
Protestant persuasions, a Roman Catholic chapel, and a mission of the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. There was a race-course,
as there is in every spot throughout the East where a handful of
our countrymen have got together; a theatre, where the ladies of
the garrison with good-natured amusement witnessed cornets and
junior magistrates attempting to represent female whims and graces;
a Freemason's lodge, where the work of initiation and instruction
went merrily on in a temperature of 100° in the shade. There was a
racket-court, and a library, and news-rooms, and billiard-rooms.
There were the assembly-rooms, where dinners were given to passing
Governors-General, and balls to high official dames, where questions
of precedence were raised, and matches made and broken. There was
a breakfast club, whither men repaired after their ride to discuss
the powers that be over their morning toast, at that meal so dear to
Britons from the Himalayas to Point de Galle, and from the Sutley
to Hong-Kong, whether, as throughout Bengal, it be termed "little
breakfast," or, as at Madras, it be known by the title of "early tea."
There was the band-stand, the very heart and centre of up-country
fashion, where the wit and beauty and gallantry of the station were
nightly wont to congregate. There was the ice-club for the manufacture
and supply of that luxury which becomes a necessity under the tropic
of Cancer;--which more favoured Calcutta obtains straight from North
American lakes, with Newfoundland codfish and Pennsylvanian apples
embedded in the crystal mass. The markets were well supplied with fish,
flesh, and fowl, at a cost that would gladden the heart of an English
housewife, though Anglo-Indians complain loudly of the rise in prices,
and grumble at being forced to pay sixpence a pound for mutton, and
three shillings for a fat turkey. In the game season, quails, wild
ducks, snipe, and black partridges were cheap and abundant; and a dish
of ortolans, a treat which in Europe is confined to Italian tourists
and Parisian millionaires, was a common adjunct to the second course at
Cawnpore dinner-tables.

The quarters of the native troops presented a very different appearance
from the English bungalows. Sepoy lines, generally speaking, consist
of long rows of huts built of mud on a framework of bamboos, and
thatched with straw. Every soldier has his own doghole, in which
he keeps an inconceivable quantity of female relations, from his
grandmother downwards. There he rules supreme: for no Sahib, be he ever
so enthusiastic on the subject of sanitation and drainage, would care
to intrude upon the mysteries of a sepoy household. At the ends of
each row stand the habitations of the native officers attached to the
company: two or three cabins round a tiny court-yard, fenced in with
a mud wall a few feet in height. The sepoy, unlike a European soldier,
never becomes wholly military in his tastes and habits. The dearest
ambition of a villager is to increase the number of huts on his little
premises, and that ambition is not to be quenched even by drill and
pipe-clay.

Each of the regiments had a bazaar peculiar to itself, crowded with
people employed in supplying the wants, and ministering to the
pleasures of the battalion which honoured them with its patronage.
Sutlers, corn-merchants, rice-merchants, sellers of cotton fabrics, of
silver ornaments, of tobacco and stupefying drugs, jugglers, thieves,
swarms of prostitutes, fakeers, and Thugs, retired from business, made
up a motley and most unruly population, which was with difficulty
kept in some show of order by the energy of Sir George Parker, the
cantonment magistrate. The united crew of these dens of iniquity and
sedition did not fall short of forty thousand in number.

The sepoys were tall men, the average height in a regiment being five
feet eight inches, and, seen from a distance, in their scarlet coats
and black trousers, they presented a sufficiently military appearance.
But, on nearer inspection, there was something in the general effect
displeasing to an eye accustomed to the men of Aldershot and Chalons.
No Oriental seems at ease in European costume,--least of all in the
English uniform so dear to the heart of the old tailor colonels. The
native soldier in full dress wore a ludicrous and almost pathetic
air of uneasiness and rigidity. His clothes hung on him as though
he were a very angular wooden frame. Whether from consciousness of
the figure which he cut in his red tunic, or from an instinctive fear
of the contamination contained in Christian cloth, the sepoy was no
sooner dismissed from parade or relieved from guard than he hastened
to doff every shred of the dress provided by Government. Clad in
the unprofessional but more congenial costume of a very scanty pair
of linen drawers, he might be seen now seated over a pile of rice
or a huge bannock, cooked for him by the women of his family; now,
performing the copious ablutions, the obligation to which constitutes
the single virtue of his national religion; now, submitting the crown
of his head to the barber for a periodical shave; now, perchance,
discussing with a circle of comrades the probability of the Emperor of
the Russians joining with Brigadier Napoleon and the King of Roum in a
scheme for destroying the power of the East India Company.

His pay was seven rupees, or fourteen shillings, a month. Small as
this sum may appear to us, it was amply sufficient to endow the sepoy
with far higher social consideration than is enjoyed by a private
soldier in European countries. The purest of pure Brahmins, his faith
forbade him from spending much money on the gratification of his
appetite. The most confirmed gourmand in the battalion could never
dream of a better dinner than some coarse fish from a neighbouring
tank, flavoured by a handful of spices ground between two fragments of
a gravestone abstracted from the last English cemetery on the line
of march. Such luxuries as these could be procured at a rate that
left even the private soldier a large margin whence to provide for
any other calls that might be made upon his purse. He accordingly was
regarded as a very considerable personage by the native populace. A
peasant-proprietor or small shopkeeper thought it no small honour to
receive an offer of marriage for his daughter from a gentleman serving
in the ranks of the Company's army: and the sepoy was not slow to make
use of his matrimonial advantages. A column of native troops on the
march was accompanied from station to station by an endless string of
small carts, each containing one or two veiled ladies, presumably young
and pretty; one or two without veils, very indubitably old and ugly;
together with a swarm of dusky brats with enormous stomachs, stark
naked, with the almost nominal exception of a piece of tape fastened
round the loins.

In spite of his excellent pay, the native soldier was almost invariably
deep in debt. A strong sense of family ties, an extreme generosity
towards poor connexions, is a marked trait in the Hindoo character,
amiable indeed, but not encouraging to the student of Social Science.
Whenever an Indian official steps into an income, relations of every
degree flock from all parts of the continent to prey upon his facile
affection: and the prospect of sharing the corner of a sepoy's hut
and the parings of his pay proved sufficiently attractive to bring
into cantonments herds of country cousins from Rohilcund and Shahabad.
Neither would seven rupees a month adequately defray the occasional
extravagances enjoined by "dustoor" or custom: dustoor, the breath
of a Hindoo's nostrils, the motive of his actions, the staple of his
conversation, the tyrant of his life. It has frequently happened that
a private soldier has celebrated a marriage feast at a cost of three
hundred rupees, to obtain which he must sell himself body and soul to
one of those griping ruthless usurers who are the bugbears of Oriental
society.

At the commencement of 1857, the condition of the native army was
unsatisfactory in the highest degree. An impartial observer could not
fail at every turn to note symptoms which proved beyond the possibility
of a doubt that a bad spirit was abroad. But, unfortunately, those
who had the best opportunity for observing these symptoms were not
impartial. The officers of the old Bengal army regarded their soldiers
with a fond credulity that was above suspicion and deaf to evidence:
and no wonder: for on the fidelity of that army was staked all that
they held most dear--professional reputation, social standing, the
means of life, and, finally, life itself. It was in deference to their
pardonable but most fatal prejudices that on this ominous subject
silence was enforced during the years which preceded the outbreak.
It was to please their pride of class that the tongues of more
discerning men were tied, and their pens blunted. It was in vain that
General Jacob, the stout Lord Warden of the Scinde Marches, wrote
and expostulated with all his native energy and fire. Threatened and
frowned on by his employers, sneered at by his fellow officers as an
agitator and a busybody, he was at length brought to acknowledge that
the tone of the Bengal army was a matter on which a wise man did well
to hold his peace. That great commander, whose excellent military
judgment, matured in European camps, revolted at a state of things so
fraught with peril and scandal, learned too late that not even the
audacity of a Napier, not even the glory of Meeanee, could protect
him from the consequences of having presumed to call in question the
faith of the sepoy. As the only apparent effect of his admonitions the
turbulent and warlike province of Oude was annexed to our territory,
and the ranks of our army were swelled by the addition of thousands of
disaffected native mercenaries.

That discipline was lax, that insubordination was afoot, had long been
known by many who dared not speak out the truth. As far back as the
year 1845 there occurred a case in which a regiment broke into open
mutiny, and pelted its officers through cantonments with the material
employed in road-mending, a customary missile in Bengalee riots. A
party of native infantry on a night march presented an appearance,
absurd indeed, but to a thoughtful spectator not without serious
significance. The men straggled along, carrying in their hands some
beloved pipe, their most treasured possession, while their muskets were
carelessly flung into the bullock-carts, in which not a few sepoys were
snoring comfortably amidst the baggage. Even those on foot dozed as
they walked, with that unaccountable capacity, common to all Hindoos,
of going to sleep under the most adverse circumstances; the collar of
their great-coat turned up and kept in its place by a strip of calico;
their ears protected by folds of cloth passed underneath the chin and
fastened over the top of the head, with a regimental forage-cap perched
on the summit of this unsightly and unmartial head-gear. In some corps
men had so little respect for military rule and custom as to strip
off their uniforms even when on guard. There were those who in great
part attributed these irregularities to the abolition of corporal
punishment effected by Lord William Bentinck, that wise and true friend
of the native population of India. It is to be hoped, for the cause of
humanity and enlightenment, that men who so think are mistaken in their
opinion. It cannot, however, be denied that, whatever be the reason,
there was truth in the words spoken to a civilian by an old pensioned
native officer:--"Ah Sahib!" said the veteran, "The army has ceased to
fear."

At the siege of Mooltan, where native troops from all parts of India
were collected into one army, the vile temper of the Bengal sepoys and
the extraordinary indulgence displayed towards them by their officers
became painfully apparent. These insolent high-caste mercenaries
positively refused to labour in the trenches, and endeavoured to
induce or force the modest and trusty Bombay soldiers to follow their
example. On one occasion a mob of these rascals, being unable to
persuade a fatigue-party of Bombay men to strike work, proceeded to
revile and at length to stone their worthier comrades. A captain in a
rifle regiment marked the ringleaders, but the Bengal officers flatly
declined to take any steps in the matter, and the story was hushed
up in order that their feelings might be spared. When the Sixty-sixth
Native infantry mutinied, their chiefs endeavoured to palliate the
guilt of the regiment; but Sir Charles Napier refused to see with
any eyes save his own, and promptly disbanded the corps, which was
replaced by an excellent levy of the valiant Highlanders of Nepaul.
Sir Charles expressed great displeasure at the report sent in by the
commanding officer of the regiment, and especially at a sentence
which characterised what was in fact a shout of defiance as "a murmur
of discontent." To the very last, at a time when mutiny and murder
were rife from Peshawur to Dacca, each particular colonel was firmly
impressed with the idea that his battalion would be the Abdiel of the
army, faithful only to its oath and salt, to the recollections of
bounty-money and the hopes of pension. "Pity," writes an officer of the
Sixty-fifth regiment, "that Europeans abusing a corps cannot be strung
up." On the twenty-second of May a letter appeared in the _Englishman_
newspaper from Colonel Simpson, who commanded the Sixth Bengal Infantry
at the all-important station of Allahabad. He was very indignant at
the suspicions which had been expressed concerning the intentions of
the men under his charge, who, according to him, "evince the utmost
loyalty. So far from being mistrusted, they are our main protection."
Not many days after he was glad to escape into the fort with a ball
through his arm, while his officers were being butchered by the men
on whom he had placed so unbounded a reliance. The "staunchness" of
the sepoys was at that time so common a topic with their chiefs that
the expression became a byword among Calcutta people; for at whatever
station the colonel most loudly, pertinaciously, and angrily declared
his regiment to be "staunch," it was to that quarter that men looked
for the next tidings of massacre and outrage. It was not till he saw
his own house in flames, and the rupees from the Government treasury
scattered broad-cast over the parade-ground:--it was not till he looked
down the barrels of sepoy muskets, and heard sepoy bullets whizzing
round his ears, that an old Bengal officer could begin to believe that
his men were not as staunch as they should be; and yet, as will be
seen in the course of this narrative, there might exist a degree of
confidence and attachment which was proof even against that ordeal.

Respect for the obligations of blood-relationship is so strong in
the Hindoo mind, that jobbery and nepotism flourish in Oriental
society to an extent which would seem inconceivably audacious to the
colder imagination of a western public servant. The system of family
patronage runs through all ranks and classes. The Indian judge loves to
surround himself with kindred clerks of the court and consanguineous
ushers. The Indian superintendant of police prefers to have about him
inspectors and sergeants bound to his interest by nearer ties than
those of official dependence. The head bearer fills his master's house
with young barbarians from his native village; and, in like manner,
the veteran sepoys took measures to keep the regiment supplied with
recruits from the neighbourhood in which they themselves had been
born and bred. No strapping young Tewarry, or Pandy, who had a mind to
shoulder a Company's musket and touch the Company's rupees, had long
to wait for a place in the section of which the sergeant was his uncle
and the corporal his brother-in-law. On the other hand, a stranger was
soon driven from the regiment by that untiring and organized social
oppression, in which, if we are to believe the daily press, military
men of all nations and grades are such admirable adepts. And so it came
to pass in the course of time that the company partook of the nature of
a family, and the battalion of the nature of a clan. The consequence
was that there existed a sympathy and freemasonry throughout the ranks
of quite another tendency from that tone of regimental patriotism
and martial brotherhood, known in European armies by the title
of "_esprit-de-corps_." Such a state of things afforded peculiar
facilities for conspiring. A disaffected body of sepoys possessed the
power of a host, and the discretion of a clique. The most extensive and
perilous designs could be matured in perfect secrecy, and carried into
effect by the weight of a vast and unanimous multitude.

The real motive of the mutiny was the ambition of the soldiery.
Spoilt, flattered, and idle, in the insolence of its presumed strength
that pampered army thought nothing too good for itself, and nothing
too formidable. High-caste Brahmins all, proud as Lucifer, they
deemed that to them of right belonged the treasures and the empire
of India. Hampered with debt, they looked for the day of a general
spoliation. Chafing under restraint, they panted to indulge themselves
in unbridled rapine and licence. They were bent upon the foundation of
a gigantic military despotism. They looked forward to the time when
Soubahdars and Jemmadars should be Maharajas and Nawabs; when the taxes
should be collected by sepoy receivers-general, and paid into sepoy
treasuries; when every private should have his zenana full of the
loveliest daughters of Lahore and Rohilcund; when great landholders
from Bundelcund and Orissa should come with cases of diamonds to beg
a favourable decision from Mungul Pandy; when great merchants from
Liverpool and Marseilles should come with bags of sovereigns to ask
leave of Peer Bux to establish a factory at Mutlah or Chandernagore.
They evinced an equal contempt for all the other classes of the
inhabitants of India. They despised the excellent armies of Bombay and
Madras, and their insolence was requited with bitter aversion. They
looked down on the Ghoorkas as savages, and presumed to regard the
heroes of Chillianwallah and Ferozeshah as a conquered race; as if,
forsooth, it was sepoy prowess which, after more than one series of
fierce and dubious battles, had at length prevailed over the brave and
haughty warriors of the Punjaub. And at length, in the plenitude of
their pride and folly, they began to call in question the efficacy of
the English name.

We had, indeed, been negligent. We had been improvident even unto
madness. Some twenty thousand European troops were scattered over the
continent of India; for the security of which seventy thousand are now
held to be barely sufficient. In the May of 1857, from Meerut in the
North-west, to Dinapore in the South-east, two weak British regiments
only were to be found. In these days, a battalion of English infantry
may be placed at any important city in our dominions within the
twenty-four hours. Then, all the field-batteries throughout the entire
region of Oude, with a single exception, were manned by native gunners
and drivers. Now, in every station on the plains, the artillerymen,
the trained workmen of warfare, without whom in modern times an armed
force is helpless, are one and all our own countrymen. Then, our only
communication was along roads which the first rains turned into strips
of bog, and up rivers treacherous with crossing currents and shifting
sandbanks. Now, through the heart of every province, there run, or
soon will run, those lines of rail and lines of wire, which defy alike
season and distance.

The natives of India possess a sharp insight into matters that come
within the limits of their own sphere, but are strangely ignorant
of all that passes beyond those limits. The sepoy ringleaders knew
to a man the strength, or rather the weakness, of European force
in the North of India. But, incredible as it may appear, they were
firmly impressed with the idea that they saw with their eyes the
whole extent of our resources. Public opinion in Hindostan placed the
population of the British Isles at something over a hundred thousand
souls. This error was so universal that a native who did not share in
the hallucination was sure to be a man of superior discernment and
rare strength of mind. Hyder Ali and Runjeet Singh, the Hannibal and
the Mithridates of India, had often in their mouths the same phrase
concerning the power of the Company. They feared, they would say, not
what they saw, but what they did not see. Jung Bahadur, the far-famed
Mayor of the Palace of Nepaul, when the first dull rumour of the coming
crisis began to be bruited, paid a visit to England on purpose to learn
for himself what the state of the case really was; and returned firmly
resolved not to take part against a power which could raise at a pinch
hundreds of millions of money, and hundreds of thousands of men. On
one occasion during the troubles, a party of sepoys attacked some guns
worked by Sikh artillerymen, only to be beaten off with heavy loss. The
officer in charge of the battery was much amused at hearing one of the
men say to his comrades: "If those fools of pandies had ever been at
Battses Hotel, Vere Street, Oxford Street, they would not have come on
so boldly." On inquiry, it appeared that this judicious Punjaubee had
gone to London in the service of some Anglo-Indian; where, as he stood
at the mouth of Vere Street, he might see passing to and from Hyde
Park in a single day as many Sahibs as would stock two such towns as
Loodianah or Umritsur.

The conviction that all our available male population was already in
India began to be shaken as, regiment after regiment, brigade upon
brigade, angry fighting men of Saxon race came pouring up from Calcutta
in a continuous stream, by road, by rail, and by river. And yet that
conviction lingered long. When the magnificent array collected for the
final siege of Lucknow passed through Cawnpore, our Sikh allies would
have it that Sir Colin, like the stage manager at Astley's theatre,
marched his men in at one end of the town and out at the other, and
then brought them back outside the walls to repeat the same manoeuvre.
When the mutineers first caught sight of the Highland costume, they
cried with joy that the men of England had been exhausted, and that
the Company had been reduced to call out the women. They soon had
reason to repent their mistake, and thenceforward adopted a theory
more consistent with the fact, for they held that the petticoats were
designed to remind their wearers that they had been sent to India to
exact vengeance for the murder of the English ladies.

The insolence and greed of the soldiers, their impatience of
discipline, and their lust of power, were the effective causes of the
outbreak. But the proximate cause was the fancied insult which had been
offered to their national religion. Upon this most vexed question, a
distinguished civil servant, who held high office in Calcutta during
those eventful months, is wont to say that he could never trust the
judgment of a man who maintains that the greased cartridges had little
to do with the mutiny. There are a class of our countrymen who delight
in stigmatizing the natives of India as hypocrites and infidels. These
men affect to disbelieve in the sincerity of the religious professions
of any Mussulman who cannot resist the temptation of iced champagne, or
of any Hindoo who indulges himself in a quiet slice of the joint which
has appeared at his master's table. As if the men who are foremost to
avenge the wrongs of their creed and to thrust it down the throats of
their neighbours were always the most scrupulous in their obedience
to its precepts! As if History was not full of covetous Fathers of
the Church and polygamous Defenders of the Faith! Jehu was zealous to
destroy the priests of the House of Baal, and to burn his images with
fire: howbeit he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of
Nebat, who made Israel to sin. Archbishop Laud was emphatically a good
Churchman: and yet he too often forgot the blessing pronounced upon the
merciful by the Divine founder of his Church, and the curse uttered
against those who lade men with burdens grievous to be borne.

The mind of the sepoy reeked with religious prejudice. He had adopted
his profession in accordance with the dictates of his superstition.
He belonged to a sacred order, and his life was one long ceremony.
He could not prepare his simple food without clearing for himself a
separate plot of ground secure from the intrusion of others. Should a
stranger step into this magic ring, the food which he had cooked was
thrown untasted away. When some Bengal regiments were serving in China,
it occasionally happened that an unlucky native of the country, intent
on theft or barter, set his profane foot within the hallowed circle,
and was immediately saluted with a volley of threats and missiles from
the outraged soldier whose meal he had spoiled. The bewildered wretch
would take to flight across the camping-ground, plunging through the
kitchens, defiling dinners by the score, and, in whatever direction he
turned, rousing about his ears a swarm of indignant hungry Brahmins.
Even if the sepoy was inclined to become lax in his observances,
there were not wanting ghostly advisers to check his latitudinarian
tendencies. A battalion on march was usually preceded by two or three
fakeers, the bloated, filthy, sensual wandering friars of the East;
wild-looking fellows, in orange or salmon-coloured linen, if by good
luck they deigned to wear any clothes at all; their locks of long hair
matted in strange fashion with grease and dirt; their bodies sprinkled
with ashes and daubed with coarse paint. So pernicious and irregular a
custom was not tolerated in the Presidencies of Bombay and Madras: but
in Bengal these fellows were highly regarded by the soldiers, and did
duty as unofficial regimental chaplains.

Five parts tallow, five parts stearine, and one part wax, were the
ingredients of that unsavoury composition, the memory of which will
henceforward never perish as long as England has history and India
has tradition. Captain Boxer, of the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich,
was quite unable to offer any decided opinion as to the particular
description of animal from which the tallow was derived, but was
certain that the mixture was innocent of hog's lard. Not so thought the
Brahmins of the regiments stationed in the vicinity of the capital.
About the middle of January, 1857, amidst the frivolous and ill-natured
gossip which is the chief material of Calcutta journalism, there peer
out certain vague and uncomfortable paragraphs: "A rumour has been
current among the sepoys at Dumdum and Barrackpore that they are to be
baptized, and we hear that they are greatly alarmed in consequence.
It should be explained to them that the only ceremony of the kind to
which soldiers are required to submit is the baptism of fire." Again,
a letter from Barrackpore announces that "bungalows here are set fire
to every night." On the 10th of February, "a Hindu" solemnly warns
the Governor-General thus: "My Lord, this is the most critical time
ever reached in the administration of British India. Almost all the
independent native Princes and Rajahs have been so much offended at the
late Annexation policy, that they have begun to entertain deadly enmity
to the British empire in India. Moreover, as for the internal defences
of the empire, the cartridge question has created a strenuous movement
in some portions of the Hindu sepoys, and will spread it through all
their ranks over the whole country to the great insecurity of British
rule." These notices, which we now read by the light of a terrible
experience, appear side by side with satirical poems on their more
fortunate comrades by military officers who cannot get civil employ;
advertisements of a fancy fair for the advancement of native female
education; and a proposition to appoint a committee of "eligible young
civilians" to indemnify the ladies whose Europe bonnets have been
ruined by the dust on the course. Ere many months were flown, eligible
young civilians had far other matters to occupy their attention.

At length, on the 26th of February, the Nineteenth Bengal Native
Infantry, quartered at Berhampore, being directed to parade for
exercise with blank ammunition, refused to obey the command, and in the
course of the following night turned out with a great noise of drumming
and shouting, broke open the bells of arms, and committed other acts
of open mutiny. By order of the Governor-General the regiment was
disarmed, marched down to Barrackpore, a distance of something over
a hundred miles, and there disbanded by Major-General Hearsey, who
performed his trying task with energy, discretion, and courage. As
yet there had been no blood shed; but far worse was soon to come. The
Thirty-fourth Native Infantry had for some time past been ripe for
revolt. There were nearly six hundred high-caste men in the ranks, and
the corps was stationed among local associations which fostered the
most lively emotions in the minds of men in a state of high religious
excitement. In the year 1825, Barrackpore had been the scene of a
military tumult which had been repressed with timely severity. One of
the ringleaders, a Brahmin sepoy, had been hanged in the presence of
his comrades. This man was regarded as a martyr; the spot where he met
his fate, on the edge of a large tank, was still pointed out to each
new-comer; and the brass implements with which he performed his acts
of worship had been preserved in the quarter-guard as relics of the
departed saint. Unfortunately the regiment was commanded by an officer
who thus describes himself in honest and manly language: "I beg to
state that it has been my invariable plan to act on the broad line
which Scripture enforces, that is, to speak without reserve to every
person. When I therefore address natives on the subject of religion,
whether individually or collectively, it has been no question with me
whether the person or persons I addressed belonged to this or that
regiment, or whether he is a shopkeeper, merchant, or otherwise, but I
speak to all alike, as sinners in the sight of God; and I have no doubt
that I have often in this way (indeed, am quite certain,) addressed
sepoys of my own regiment, as also of other regiments at this and other
stations where I have been quartered.... As to the question whether I
have endeavoured to convert sepoys and others to Christianity, I would
humbly reply that this has been my object; and, I conceive, it is the
aim and end of every Christian who speaks the Word of God to another,
namely, that the Lord would make him the happy instrument of converting
his neighbour to God." Did not this good Colonel forget who it was who
bade us give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast our
pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn
again and rend us?

On the 29th of March, a private of the Thirty-fourth, Mungul Pandy by
name, under the combined influence of religious frenzy and intoxicating
drugs, took into his head to swagger about in front of the lines,
musket in hand, bawling: "Come out, you blackguards! The Europeans
are upon us! From biting these cartridges we shall become infidels!
Get ready! Turn out, all of you!" This conduct in the course of time
brought down upon him the Adjutant and the serjeant-major, which in no
wise disconcerted Mungul Pandy. He shot the officer's horse, disabled
his bridle arm, and finally, with the assistance of some of the
boldest among his comrades, desperately wounded and drove off both the
Europeans. The Colonel next appeared on the stage. Here again it may
be best to quote his own words: "The native officer at length ordered
the guard to advance. They did so, six or seven paces, and halted.
The native officer returned to me, stating that none of the men would
go on. I felt it was useless going on any further in the matter. Some
one, a native in undress, mentioned to me that the sepoy in front was a
Brahmin, and that no one would hurt him. I considered it quite useless,
and a useless sacrifice of life, to order a European officer with the
guard to seize him, as he would, no doubt, have picked off the European
officer, without his receiving any assistance from the guard. I then
left the guard, and reported the matter to the Brigadier."

Fortunately there was at hand a man who had no scruple about the life
of at least one European officer. Before many minutes had elapsed
General Hearsey rode on to the parade-ground, and found it already
covered with an agitated mob of sepoys, amongst whom might here and
there be seen an English officer doing his best to prevent his men
from following the example of Mungul Pandy, who had by this time
reloaded his musket, and was now stalking about in the presence of his
regiment, which had got together round the quarter-guard, brandishing
his dripping sword, and shouting: "You have excited me to do this, and
now, you blackguards, you will not join me!" An officer called out to
Hearsey, "Have a care! His musket is loaded!" The General replied,
"Damn his musket!" an oath concerning which every true Englishman will
make the customary invocation to the Recording Angel.

Hearsey summoned the guard to advance, but the native officer answered
as before. The General, however, by a significant motion of his
revolver, gave the Jemmadar to understand that this time he had to
deal with a man of very different kidney from the Colonel. The guard,
accordingly, went forward; the Jemmadar in front, watched on either
side by a young Hearsey, pistol in hand. Their sire himself rode
straight at the mutineer, who, seeing that the game was up, turned the
muzzle to his own breast, touched the trigger with his toe, and fell,
severely hurt. He was secured, and conveyed to the hospital; and the
concourse dispersed quietly to their lines, after having been roundly
taken to task by the General for their cowardice and unsoldierlike
behaviour in standing by without moving a finger while their officers
were being cut to pieces.

Mungul Pandy was condemned by court-martial, and duly hanged on the
8th of April. At first there was some difficulty about finding an
executioner. Public opinion had become less squeamish before the year
was out. From this miserable fanatic was taken the name of "Pandy,"
which in Anglo-Indian slang signified mutineer. There were those who
loved to apply the horrible nickname of "white Pandies" to those wise
and good men who, amidst the general frenzy, preserved some spark
of justice and humanity; who would not lend their countenance to a
barbarous policy dictated by cruelty and craven fear; who refused to
devastate provinces and depopulate cities, to butcher the women of
Delhi and torture the shopkeepers of Allahabad, to confound innocent
and guilty in one vast proscription and one universal massacre: just
as, at the end of the last century, there were those who stigmatized as
"Jacobins" the English statesmen who could not be reviled or shocked
out of the belief that the king and the nobility of France had been
less sinned against than sinning; and that, in any case, it was not our
business to avenge the wrongs of alien dukes and marquisses upon the
senators who had abolished their privileges, the peasants who had shot
their game, and the board which was busily engaged in dividing their
provinces into departments.

Seven companies of the Thirty-fourth regiment were disbanded, after all
pecuniary claims had been discharged. The closing effect was dramatic
enough. General Hearsey made the men a spirited harangue, reminding
them of their misdeeds, and giving some hints as to their future
conduct which they would have done well to have laid to heart. Then
came the parting; not without tears, it is said, on both sides. The
sepoys stripped off their accoutrements, and were ferried across the
river, bag and baggage, in Government steamers, and there sent about
their business. In order to disprove the report that the Company had
designs against their religion, they were informed that every facility
would be afforded them for visiting Hindoo shrines of repute before
they bent their steps towards their villages in Oude and Bahar.

Unfortunately for themselves, the men of the two regiments broken up
at Barrackpore were bent upon doing a far less innocent service to
the cause of their faith than that of feeing, out of the arrears of
their pay, the priests of Juggernauth and Gyah. The most active and
determined among their number deliberately proceeded to spread over
the whole continent of India the tidings of the late occurrences, told
with more than Oriental exaggeration, and received with more than
Oriental credulity. No society of rich and civilized Christians, who
ever undertook to preach the gospel of peace and good-will, can have
employed a more perfect system of organization than was adopted by
these rascals, whose mission it was to preach the gospel of sedition
and slaughter. By twos and threes, in various disguises, and on divers
pretexts, they found their way to every native regiment in the three
Presidencies. Wherever they went they related how the Queen of England
had commanded that the Hindoos and Mussulmans of India should be made
Christians, come what might; how the Governor-General, the Great Lord
Sahib, had remonstrated with her, saying that he must first slay three
hundred thousand holy and learned men of both religions; how the Queen
had rejoined, "Let it then be done"; how the Great Lord Sahib had
resolved to begin with the army, and had ordered the troops to bite
cartridges smeared with the fat of cow and pig; how the sepoys at
Barrackpore had bravely resisted the tyrannous and accursed mandate;
how some had testified to the death, and some had suffered bonds and
scourging, and all had been deprived of their rank and calling, and
robbed of the pensions which they had earned by valour and fidelity
and ancient service. Then their hearers were warned that a like fate
was in store for all; that a strenuous and united effort could alone
save their freedom and their religion; and that the hour was fast
approaching when the Brahmins of the army must rule, or be for ever
slaves and Christians. Sometimes, it was a couple of fakeers perched
on an elephant; sometimes, a party of country-people on their way
to the Ganges for their annual dip in the sacred stream; a gang of
gipsies; a string of camel-drivers; or a troop of musicians escorting
a celebrated nautch-dancer to her home in Cashmere, after a successful
season in Bengal. However it might be, it invariably happened that,
a few hours after the strangers had entered the station, the bazaar
and the cantonments were in a ferment of gossip and conjecture; the
sepoys at once grew sulky and idle; the Mahomedans of the town became
insolent, and the Hindoos pert. The very domestic servants appeared
to share the contagion; the cooks got drunk, and the grooms stupid;
the water-carrier omitted to fill the bath, and the butler to ice the
Moselle; the peon spent twice his usual number of hours in conveying
a note to the next compound but one; while the bearers delighted
to insult their mistress by smoking under her window, and coming
bareheaded into her presence, whenever the Sahib and his horsewhip were
well out of the way.

To us, who from the standing-point of complete and certain knowledge
look back upon that March and April pregnant with a great and sombre
future, it seems indeed miraculous that our countrymen then resident
in India should not have entertained a suspicion of what those months
would bring forth. It appears incredible that the officers should have
lived their ordinary lives; hunting; dining; dancing; speculating on
the probable height of the thermometer, and the possible chances of
promotion; while within a few yards of their quarters the men were
debating the programme of the coming mutiny; arranging who was to shoot
down the adjutant, and who was to fire the thatch of the colonel's
bungalow; discussing their hopes of assistance from Gwalior, Nepaul,
and St. Petersburg. Can it be believed that morning after morning our
countrymen looked down the row of dark faces and gleaming eyes, and
never dreamed that in all that array, so fair and orderly to view, any
heart beat with a loftier ambition than could be satisfied by a stripe
or an epaulette; with a deadlier malice than might be gratified by the
disappointment of some rival in the good opinion of the soubahdar? And
yet, so it was. In spite of all that was said and written concerning
the childlike docility of the affectionate sepoy, confidence and regard
did not exist between the officer and the soldier. That the case had
once been far otherwise was acknowledged on all sides; and the change
was noted by military men of the old school with regret, qualified by
a slight tincture of self-satisfaction. Young subalterns retorted that
the ancient intimacy between superior and inferior was connected with
the loose habits which disgraced Anglo-Indian society in days gone
by, when the soldier pandared to the vices of his officer, or, at any
rate, was cognisant of their existence. Those who have studied cause
and effect will be slow to accept the theory that this estrangement
between the mess-room and the lines was in any great measure due to the
increased morality of the Indian army.

The root of the evil lay in the withdrawal of officers from regimental
duty for employment on the staff and in the civil posts; a custom
so dear to all who bore the great and time-honoured names, which
had been conspicuous in the Court of Directors and at the Calcutta
Council-board as far back as the time of Barwell and Warren Hastings.
And yet, though family interest received due consideration from those
who dispensed the good things of the service, it was unfortunate for
the efficiency of the Bengal army that merit did not go without a
share in the loaves and fishes. A young man on the threshold of his
profession was recommended by his father, and entreated by his sisters,
skilled like all Anglo-Indian ladies in the inscrutable mysteries of
official success, to get away from his regiment as early as possible.
The teaching of his relations was enforced by the golden words which
dropped from the lips of the Chairman of the Honourable Court, when,
on the prize-day at Addiscombe, the lad stood forth blushing with
modest pride, the Pollock medal in his hand, the sword of honour
under his arm, and a pile of military histories, emblazoned with the
arms of the academy, on the table before him. After his arrival on
Indian shores, the same advice was impressed upon him by his uncle the
Sudder judge, his cousin the junior secretary, and his school-chum the
probationary-sub-assistant-commissary-general.

Rich were the prizes open to the aspiring cadet:--rich, but far from
rare. There were the political agencies at the courts of Holkar
and Scindiah; at the seats of the ancient and romantic dynasties
of Rajpootana; at that European station whence, in dangerous
proximity, an English resident still watches with anxious glance
the intrigues and feuds which agitate the nest of Arab and Rohilla
cut-throats, who protect and terrify the Nizam of Hyderabad. There
were the Deputy Commissionerships of Oude and the Punjaub, whose
occupants enjoyed a salary almost equal to that of a Collector in
the more settled provinces, with a far greater share of power and
responsibility. There were the posts in the branches of administration
more exclusively military: the Departments of the Adjutant-General,
the Quarter-Master-General, the Commissary-General, and the
Judge-Advocate-General. Finally, there were the numerous irregular
corps in the Deccan and on the North-west Frontier, to each of which
were attached some three or four captains and subalterns, who fully
appreciated the increase of their pay, and the excitement afforded by
their critical and interesting duties. In short, appointments which
enabled officers to make money and reputation faster than was possible
for their less fortunate brethren who remained in the line were so
numerous that, after family claims had been satisfied, the surplus
sufficed to absorb all the most promising and pushing youngsters in the
Bengal Military service.

It was not only that this system drained the army of individual zeal
and talent. The professional spirit of the mass could not thrive
under so blighting an influence. The officers present with the corps
gradually ceased to take pride in the conscientious performance of
their regimental duties; for their employment upon those duties was
a standing proof that they were wanting in ability and high official
connexion. It was very difficult to throw much energy and enthusiasm
into such work as escorting treasure, guarding jails, inspecting the
cross-belts and listening to the grievances of sepoys, while a junior
lieutenant in the same battalion was coercing refractory Rajahs, or
scouring the border at the head of five hundred wild Pathan horsemen.
What wonder if, under these circumstances, men became sick at heart?
Disgusted at their position, they no longer made the welfare and
happiness of their soldiers an all-important object: and neglect
often deepened into aversion and contempt. The cadets, as was only
too natural, caught the prevailing tone. Young men fresh from home
are so shocked at the apparent deficiency of the Hindoo character of
manliness, honesty, and self-respect, the qualities which Englishmen
most regard, that, so to speak, their better impulses are apt to
render them careless of the rights and sentiments of the native
population. "Do I not well to be insolent?" is a question asked daily,
in a more or less logical form, by the majority of our countrymen in
India. It requires a larger stock of philosophy than generally falls
to the share of a lad of nineteen in a new red coat, with his first
month's pay in the pocket, to realize the conviction that an imperial
people, who undertake to govern others, must first govern themselves;
and that it is the height of folly and cruelty to subjugate a hundred
millions of men, and then abuse them because they are as God made them,
and not as we would fain have them.

And so it came to pass that to be sent back to head-quarters was "a
shame," regimental duty was "a bore," and the sepoys were "niggers."
That hateful word, which is now constantly on the tongue of all
Anglo-Indians except civilians and missionaries, made its first
appearance in decent society during the years which immediately
preceded the mutiny. The immorality of the term is only equalled by
the absurdity. To call the inhabitants of Hindostan "niggers," is just
as unreasonable as it would be for Austrian officials to designate the
subject populations of Venetia and Hungary by the collective title of
"serfs." In the eyes of an English planter, or railway-contractor,
there is no distinction of race or rank. Khoonds and Punjabees, Pariahs
and Coolin Brahmins, bazaar-porters and Rajahs with a rent-roll of half
a million, and a genealogy longer than that of Howards and Stanleys,
are "niggers" alike, one and all, with the prefix of that profane
epithet, which has been the Shibboleth of the Englishmen abroad since
the days of Philip de Comines. And so, in a Bengal corps,--whether
he were a grey-bearded Mahomedan soubahdar, the arbiter and exponent
of regimental custom and tradition, or the high-caste Rajpoot, or a
Sikh veteran marked with the scars of Sobraon,--every man knew well
that he was dubbed "nigger" by some slip of an ensign, who could not
tell his right hand from his left in any Oriental language. In such an
atmosphere how could mutual attachment exist, or mutual confidence?
How could there not exist dislike and disaffection; the bitterness of
injured pride, and of feelings misunderstood or heedlessly contemned?

There were usually some eight or nine officers actually doing duty
with a battalion. A colonel and doctor, three or four captains and
lieutenants, and three or four ensigns, formed what was in those days
considered to be a very respectable complement. The other members
of the mess were far away from head-quarters, inditing minutes at
Calcutta, deciding suits in some distant non-regulation province, or
tracking the course of the Nile through the deserts of Nubia. Such,
however, was not universally the case. Here and there might be found
a corps where the regimental tone (that unwritten and impalpable law,
not passed in words, nor enforced by overt penalties, but obeyed in
silence and without question), had ordained that staff employment was
not a legitimate object of ambition. The officers plumed themselves
upon keeping all together, and rising one with another in the
ordinary course of promotion. They shot tigers, and speared hogs,
and played whist and billiards, and meanwhile looked well after
their companies, and contrived to know something about the private
history and character of every man under their command. They voted
it unfashionable to attempt the pass examination in Hindoostanee,
success in which was an indispensable qualification for the staff: an
ordeal familiarly known as the P.H.; that pair of consonants which
are seldom far from the lips, and never out of the thoughts, of the
more aspiring subalterns of the Bengal army. And yet, averse as they
were to grammars and dictionaries, these men spoke the vernacular
languages with rare facility. But not even to such officers as these
was breathed a syllable of that fearful secret, which England would
have cheaply bought at the price of a million pounds for a single
letter. Their soldiers entertained towards them a strong and genuine
regard. It was not among the ranks which they commanded that the spirit
of sedition was born and nurtured. But in the day of wrath there was no
distinction of person. When the baneful sirocco of mutiny, called by
the imaginative Hindoo "the Devil's Wind," was abroad in the air, all
milder influences yielded before its withering blast. The consciousness
of the authority of the "Fouj ki Bheera," or "general will of the
army," was to individual men, or regiments, almost irresistible. Some
troopers in Fisher's Irregular Cavalry performed a signal act of
gallantry at Lucknow, during the early days of the outbreak, for which
they received a handsome reward. While waiting for their money in the
verandah of the commissioner's house, they fell into conversation
with certain of their fellow-villagers among his servants. "We like
our colonel," said they, "and will not allow him to be harmed; but,
if the whole army turns, we must turn too." A week elapsed, and these
men looked quietly on from their saddles, while Colonel Fisher was
shot to death by a scoundrel in the lines of the military police. Then
they threw aside all semblance of discipline; murdered the second in
command; and shouted to the adjutant, who was a general favourite,
to ride and begone, if he desired to spare them the pain of taking
his life. At one large station the men were in open mutiny, and the
officers had grouped themselves in front of the battalion, expecting
every moment the fatal volley. They agreed, however, not to abandon
hope until they had witnessed the effect produced by the presence of a
captain of old standing in the service, who was apparently loved and
trusted by the whole regiment, and especially by the grenadier company,
to which he had been attached for many years. When his approach was
announced, every eye turned towards his bungalow, which stood on the
parade-ground, close to that flank where the grenadiers were stationed.
He had not gone ten paces down the line before he fell dead, pierced by
a bullet from the ranks of his own command.

In every regiment there was a Soubahdar major, or native colonel; and
in every company a Soubahdar, who answered to a European captain,
and a Jemmadar, who answered to a European subaltern. These were
the commissioned officers, who wore swords and sashes, sat on a
court-martial, and were saluted by the rank and file. They had one
and all carried the musket, and there was no approach to friendship
or even to familiar intercourse between them and their Saxon brethren
in arms, who considered that, if they offered their soubahdar a chair
during an interview on regimental business, quite enough had been done
to mark the difference between a commissioned and a non-commissioned
sepoy. The sergeant and the corporal were represented by the havildar
and the naick; titles which make the list of killed and wounded in
Indian battles so bewildering to an English reader. Thus the Brahmin
battalion had a complete outfit of Brahmin officers; and this it was
that rendered the rebellious army so terribly efficient for evil. When
every Englishman in a corps had been murdered or scared away, the
organization none the less remained intact. The regiment was still a
military machine finished in every part, compact, flexible, and capable
as ever of a great and sustained exertion of strength and courage. This
imperfect, but, it is to be feared, tedious sketch of the composition
of our native force, as it existed before the mutiny, may well be
closed with the oracular words of Sir Charles Napier, the Cassandra of
the old Bengal army: "Your young, independent, wild cadet, will some
day find the Indian army taken out of his hands by the soubahdars. They
are steady, respectful, thoughtful, stern-looking men; very zealous and
military: the sole instructors of all our soldiers."

The native town of Cawnpore contained sixty thousand inhabitants. It
possessed no architectural beauties worthy to detain the traveller who,
from those stately landing-places whence rise, tier above tier, the
shrines and palaces of Benares, was hurrying on towards the ineffable
glories of Agra. The most remarkable feature was a spacious boulevard,
more than a hundred feet in breadth, called the Chandnee Choke, or
street of silver. This name, common to the principal avenue in all
the great cities of the north west, is a monument of the days of bad
government and a primitive commercial system. When banks were few and
robbers bold and numerous, men preferred to have some part of their
wealth about their persons and in a portable form. A minister at a
native court, however rich the harvest he might gather in during the
fitful sunshine of royal favour, thought it well to keep a handful
of diamonds and rubies in his girdle, as a provision against the day
of disgrace and flight. Now, by the help of a bill of exchange and a
single trusty agent, he may store up his gains in European stocks and
debentures far out of reach of the greediest Nizam or the neediest
Maharaja. In like manner, in old times, farmers and shopkeepers were
wont to convert their superfluous rupees into ornaments of fantastic
design for themselves, their wives, and their children. The unceasing
flow of silver towards the east, which affords to political economists
a constant sensation of pleasing bewilderment, is attributed in part to
the fact that the Indian peasant still continues to invest his earnings
on the wrists and ankles, the ears and noses of his family. Cawnpore
was noted for the excellence and cheapness of all articles made of
leather,--saddlery, boots and shoes, bottle-covers, helmets, and
cheeroot-cases. The manufacture was introduced by a colony of Chinese,
the frugal and industrious Lombards of India, who settled in the Bazaar
many years ago. A subaltern could buy a set of harness for his buggy at
something under three pounds, and thoroughly equip his hack for half
that sum: and, if he was not very particular about shape and colour, he
might pick up a serviceable country-bred horse for a hundred rupee note.

The city had an evil reputation. Situated on the frontier of two
distinct jurisdictions, it swarmed with rascals from Oude, on their
way to seek obscurity in British territory, and rascals from our
north-west provinces, on their way to seek impunity in the dominions
of the Nawab. Oonao, the half-way house on the road which led from
Cawnpore to Lucknow, gave a name to a class of murders of peculiar
atrocity. On and about that highway were constantly found the dead
bodies of travellers: sepoys, for the most part, returning to their
villages with their savings and the voucher for their pension. In most
cases a rope was drawn tightly round the neck: but the surgeons who
conducted the inquests gradually came to be of opinion that the victims
had been poisoned, or, at any rate, stupefied, by being induced to
smoke tobacco mixed with a noxious drug. The police exerted themselves
in vain to obtain a clue to the mystery. Whenever a fresh officer of
note was appointed to the district, the murderers made a point of
presenting him with a "nuzzur," or "offering," in the shape of a larger
than usual batch of corpses. The difficulty of detection was increased
by an odious custom well known to all Anglo-Indian magistrates, which
here flourished with extraordinary vigour. A malicious Hindoo will
deliberately mangle the body of a person who has died from a natural
cause, and fling it on the ground of some neighbour to whom the scamp
may happen to bear a grudge. The unfortunate recipient finds himself
involved in the consequences dreaded by the poor people in the Arabian
Nights, when the hunchback was choked by a fishbone beneath their
hospitable roof.

Bajee Rao, the Peishwa of Poonah, was the last monarch of one of
those great Mahratta dynasties which long shared the sovereignty of
the Central Highlands and the plunder of all Hindostan. So near a
neighbour could not fail to be guilty of the amount of "treachery,"
"faithlessness," and "bad internal government," necessary to justify
the annexation of his dominions. Urged by that painful necessity of
taking what belongs to others, which is the inevitable result of all
our dealings with Oriental powers, we dethroned Bajee Rao, confiscated
his territories, and assigned him a residence at Bithoor, a small town
twelve miles up the river from Cawnpore. Here he lived until his death
in princely state, inasmuch as the Company always behaved with great
generosity towards the princes whom it had plundered, after the manner
of those open-handed thieves of fiction who fling back a couple of
broad pieces to the traveller whom they have eased of his purse and
watch. Bithoor was pleasantly situated upon the banks of the sacred
stream, and was peculiarly suited to be the Saint Juste in which a
retired Brahmin ruler might be content to end his days; for the spot
was held in singular favour by Brahma. Here, after the creation had
been accomplished, the deity had sacrificed a hecatomb, in token that
his great work was good. The pin which fastened the divine sandal was
picked up in after days, and inserted in the steps of the principal
landing-place, where it may still be seen by the incredulous. At the
full moon in November, prodigious crowds of pilgrims assemble from all
parts of India to celebrate the present god with frankincense, and
flowers, and barbarous music, and drunken frenzy. With his traditions
and his greyhounds, his annuity of eighty thousand pounds, and his
host of retainers, Bajee Rao led a splendid and not unhappy existence.
But the old Mahratta had one sore trial. He had no son to inherit his
possessions, perpetuate his name, and apply the torch to his funeral
pyre: for the last office, so the inflexible law of his religion
ordained, might be performed by none other than a filial hand. In
this strait he had recourse to adoption, a ceremony which, by Hindoo
law, entitles the favoured person to all the rights and privileges
of an heir born of the body. His choice fell upon an individual who,
according to some, was the son of a Poonah corn-merchant, while others
say that he was born in great poverty at a miserable village in the
vicinity of Bombay. The name of this man was Seereek Dhoondoo Punth:
but the execration of mankind has found his cluster of titles too long
for use, and prefers the more familiar appellation of "the Nana."

Bajee Rao died in 1851, and the heir forthwith put in a demand for the
continuance of the pension which the Company had granted to his adopted
father. The claim was disallowed, and the Nana, who at length began
to despair of prevailing upon the Calcutta authorities, determined
to go to the fountain-head, and accordingly despatched an agent to
London. For this purpose he selected his confidential man of business,
Azimoolah Khan, a clever adventurer, who began life as kitmutgar, or
footman, in an Anglo-Indian family. In spite of his disadvantages,
he acquired a thorough acquaintance with the English and French
languages. He subsequently became a pupil, and thence a teacher, in
the Government School at Cawnpore; in which position he attracted the
notice of the Nana. Azimoolah arrived in town during the height of the
season of 1854, and was welcomed with open arms by that portion of
society which makes no inquiries into the antecedents of an aspirant
to its favour, provided he be not a fellow-countryman or Christian.
According to the creed of this class, every Hindoo was necessarily a
prince, just as every Maronite is a martyr, and every Pole a patriot.
Azimoolah speedily became a lion, and obtained more than even a lion's
share of the sweetest of all flattery. The ladies voted him charming.
Handsome and witty, endowed with plenty of assurance and an apparent
abundance of diamonds and Cashmere shawls, the ex-kitmutgar seemed as
fine a gentleman as the prime minister of Nepaul, or the Maharaja of
the Punjaub. On the first day of the great vengeance, when Havelock's
forlorn hope came to Bithoor, grim and eager, straight from the brink
of the fatal well, our soldiers discovered amongst the possessions of
this scoundrel letters from more than one titled lady couched in terms
of the most courteous friendship. An indiscretion for which a sneer
would be too severe a punishment, at such a moment excited bitter and
painful emotion.

Great as were the successes which the agent of the Nana gained on his
own account in Mayfair, he was able to effect very little for his
master in Leadenhall Street and Westminster. In the reports which he
transmitted to Bithoor he attributed his failure to the bribes which
the Board of Control and the Privy Council had eaten at the hands of
the East Indian Company; an explanation which appeared satisfactory to
the Maharaja. On his way home Azimoolah passed through Constantinople
at the time when our fortune in the Crimea was at the lowest ebb.
During the mid-gloom of that terrible winter there was much talk among
those who did not love us concerning the decadence of England and the
youthful vigour of the Russian power. Of such gossip the clever Asiatic
collected an ample budget, in order to console his baffled employer
with cheery vaticinations relating to the approaching downfall of the
British rule.

Although the Nana had failed in his attempt on the public purse, his
wealth was still conspicuous even among the colossal incomes of Indian
landholders. He had contrived to secure to himself the whole property
of the ex-Peishwa; and strange stories were told about the means by
which this end had been accomplished. The nephew of Bajee Rao started
a claim for one half of his uncle's estate, which moiety he valued at
more than three millions. The suit was dismissed, and the plaintiff
never ceased to affirm that "the palm of the judge had been greased by
the Nana:" but too much attention must not be paid to this declaration;
for, whenever a native accuses the bench of corruption, he simply
means that he has lost his case. It is certain that the Maharaja kept
in confinement against their will the widows of his predecessor; for
whose younger daughter he planned a marriage inconsistent with the
rules and traditions of the family: an act of outrageous tyranny in the
estimation of High Brahmins. He wedded the eldest sister to a husband
whom she was never allowed to see; and, when her death occurred after
no long interval, it was whispered about the neighbourhood that there
had been very foul play in every sense of the word. Those fictitious
tales of vice and atrocity, with which literary hacks of the vilest
class feed the corrupt imaginations of their readers, too often find a
parallel in the realities of a great oriental household. The doctrine
of personal rights has no existence within the walls of a zenana.
Nowhere was the mystery of iniquity deeper and darker than in the
palace of Bithoor, which was indeed a worthy nest for such a vulture.
There were rooms in that palace horribly unfit for any human eye, where
both European and native artists had done their best to gratify a
master who was willing to incur any expense for the completion of his
loathsome picture-gallery.

In the apartments open to the inspection of English visitors there
was nothing which could shock either modesty or humanity, though a
Sahib of fastidious taste might take exception to the arrangement of
the furniture and the decorations. The habits of an Oriental are so
simple, his wants so few, that the most Anglified Hindoo gentleman
can never acquire himself, and still less impart to his servants
a thorough acquaintance with our complicated domestic appliances.
There is something very droll in the sanctum occupied by the eldest
son of a rich native family; where, by a display of Western art and
civilization, "Young Bengal" excites the envy of his contemporaries,
and scandalises those among his relatives who belong to the old school.
A cast from an exquisite statuette of Thorwaldsen stands side by side
with a gilt shepherdess, or Highlander, or other specimen of that
vulgar ware which with us has long been banished from the farmhouse to
the cottage. A copy of some Roman or Florentine Madonna hangs next to
a coloured print of a ballet-dancer; while a proof signed by Holman
Hunt or Millais is flanked by "Facing a Bullfinch" and "Swishing a
Rasper" from the classical collection of Mr. Fores, of Piccadilly. Over
a sideboard of carved oak has long ceased to tick a veneered clock,
daubed with the representation of the Exchange at Philadelphia; and
round the tent-table of some deceased or insolvent ensign are gathered
half a dozen chairs which once graced the boudoir of a vice-regal
dame. No Eastern Anglo-maniac possessed a more heterogeneous collection
than the Nana, who, living far from Calcutta, the centre of exotic
fashion, was reduced to content himself with whatever treasures might
come into the market at casual up-country sales. A gentleman of some
literary reputation, who was entertained by the Maharaja in days gone
by, thus describes the Bithoor ménage:--"I sat down to a table twenty
feet long (it had originally been the mess-table of a cavalry regiment)
which was covered with a damask table-cloth of European manufacture,
but instead of a dinner napkin there was a bedroom towel. The soup--for
the steward had everything ready--was served up in a trifle-dish which
had formed part of a dessert service belonging to the Ninth Lancers--at
all events the arms of that regiment were upon it; but the plate into
which I ladled it with a broken tea-cup was of the old willow pattern.
The pilau which followed the soup was served upon a huge plated
dish, but the plate from which I ate it was of the very commonest
description. The knife was a bone-handled affair; the spoon and fork
were silver, and of Calcutta make. The plated side-dishes, containing
vegetables, were odd ones; one was round, the other oval. The pudding
was brought in upon a soup-plate, of blue and gold pattern, and the
cheese was placed before me on a glass dish belonging to a dessert
service. The cool claret I drank out of a richly cut champagne glass,
and the beer out of an American tumbler of the very worst quality."

The Maharaja had a large and excellent stable of horses, elephants, and
camels; a well-appointed kennel; and a menagerie of pigeons, falcons,
peacocks, and apes, which would have done credit to any Oriental
monarch, from the days of Solomon downwards. His armoury was stocked
with weapons of every age and country, from a masterpiece of Purdey, to
the bow and arrows used by the Hillmen of Orissa. His reception-rooms
sparkled with mirrors and chandeliers that had come direct from
Birmingham; and his equipages had stood within the twelvemonth in the
warehouses of Longacre. He possessed a vast store of gold and silver
plate; and his wardrobe overflowed with shawls and jewellery, which
on gala days were regarded with longing eyes by the Cawnpore ladies.
Nor did they lack frequent opportunities of contemplating the Maharaja
in his panoply of kincob and Cashmere scarfs, crowned with a tiara of
pearls and diamonds, and girt with old Bajee Rao's sword of state,
which report valued at three lacs of rupees. For the Nana seldom missed
an occasion for giving a ball or a banquet in European style to the
society of the station; although he would never accept an entertainment
in return, because our Government, which refused to regard him as
a royal personage, would not allow him the compliment of a salute.
Nor did he treat his guests with the semi-barbarous discourtesy
evinced by some native hosts, who pass the evening seated among a
group of courtiers, scrutinizing the dancers through a lorgnette, and
apparently regarding the whole proceeding as a ballet arranged for
their individual amusement. The Maharaja mixed freely with the company;
inquired after the health of the Major's lady; congratulated the judge
on his rumoured promotion to the Sudder Court; joked the assistant
magistrate about his last mishap in the hunting-field; and complimented
the belle of the evening on the colour she had brought down from Simla.
His wealth was abundant enough to allow of any vagaries of hospitality
and personal extravagance, and does not seem to have been seriously
impaired even by the expense entailed by a crowd of lazy myrmidons
whom he kept about his person; a folly common to all high-born and
opulent Hindoos. Every native landlord, who can induce his neighbours
to dignify him with the title of Rajah, delights in flourishing about
the country under the escort of a host of blackguards;--the horsemen
armed with lances and old cavalry swords, and mounted on raw-boned,
long-tailed horses, smeared with coarse paint;--the infantry straggling
along under the weight of clubs, partizans, brass blunderbusses, and
long matchlocks, of which the stock is studded with glass beads, and
the muzzle shaped into the semblance of a dragon's mouth. The Nana kept
several hundreds of these scamps in idleness and insolence. He provided
them with four rupees a month, and a suit of clothes once a year; an
allowance which they eked out by plundering the peasants for twenty
miles round, and extorting an intermittent blackmail from the tradesmen
of Cawnpore.

At the time of the mutiny the Nana was about thirty-six years of
age. His complexion was sallow; his features strongly marked, and not
unpleasing. Like all Mahrattas, both head and face were shaven clean.
He was fat with that unhealthy corpulence which marks the Eastern
voluptuary. The circumstances under which a young Rajah comes to
maturity leave him a very scant chance of obtaining perfection, moral
or physical. From his earliest years he is surrounded by flatterers and
pandars. While still a child in the harem, it is the object of every
one, beginning with his own mother, to obtain his ear by adulation,
and by the freemasonry of corrupt discourse. During his boyhood he
has no little peers on whom to exert his faculties for emulation and
self-denial; and, when he has arrived at man's estate, he may look in
vain for any object of honourable ambition amidst the dead level of
national dependence. He never walks, save from his divan to his bath;
never mounts one of the huge cream-coloured steeds, which on high
feast-days amble behind his palanquin in melancholy cavalcade; never
knows the sensation of honest fatigue and wholesome hunger. No whim
ungratified; every propensity cherished and pampered; incapable of
effort; incognizant of duty; he is vicious with deeper than Parisian
immorality, and listless with more than Belgravian ennui. Long before
the age at which a high-born Englishman makes his choice of Hercules
between balls and blue-books, the effete sensuality of a Hindoo noble
is reduced to seek gratification in the illicit charms of Indian hemp
and French brandy. What wonder that in middle life he is flabby and
gross beyond hope and compass; too feeble for manly exercise, too
self-indulgent to practise a self-denying regimen?

The Maharaja of Bithoor exhibited a lively interest in the proceedings
of our Government at home and abroad, in our history, our arts, our
religion, and our customs; although he was entirely ignorant of our
language. He subscribed to all the leading Anglo-Indian journals,
which were translated to him daily by an individual who had been
unlucky enough to exchange a situation on the East Indian Railroad
for the post of English Professor in the household of the Nana. The
Rajah played billiards admirably, while he was yet slim enough to bend
over the table without inconvenience. He especially delighted in the
game, because it afforded him an opportunity for mixing on familiar
terms with the officers of the garrison. Nothing could exceed the
cordiality which he constantly displayed in his intercourse with our
countrymen. The persons in authority placed an implicit confidence
in his friendliness and good faith, and the ensigns emphatically
pronounced him a capital fellow. He had a nod or a kind word for every
Sahib in the station. There were hunting-parties and jewellery for
the men, and picnics and shawls for the ladies. If a subaltern's wife
required change of air, the Rajah's carriage was at the service of
the young couple, and the European apartments at Bithoor were put in
order to receive them. If a civilian had overworked himself in court,
he had but to speak the word, and the Rajah's elephants were sent on
to the Oude jungles. But none the less did he never for an instant
forget the grudge which he bore our nation. While his face was all
smiles, in his heart of hearts he brooded over the judgment of the
Company, and the wrong of his despised claim. From his hour of repulse
to his hour of vengeance his life was one long irony. Thenceforward
his story would more fitly be told in the wild and mysterious rhythms
of the old Greek drama than in sober English prose; for in truth
that story finds no parallel, save in the ghastly tales which hang
like a mist of blood round the accursed house of Pelops. The lads
who, with his sapphires and rubies glistening on their fingers, sat
laughing round his Thyestean table, had one and all been doomed to
die by a warrant that admitted of no appeal. He had sworn that the
injustice should be expiated by the blood of women who had never heard
his grievance named;--of babies who had been born years after the
question of that grievance had passed into oblivion. The great crime
of Cawnpore blackens the page of history with a far deeper stain than
Sicilian Vespers, or September massacres: for this atrocious act was
prompted, not by diseased and mistaken patriotism, nor by the madness
of superstition, nor yet by incontrollable fear that knew not pity.
The motives of the deed were as mean as the execution was cowardly and
treacherous. Among the subordinate villains there might be some who
were possessed by bigotry and class-hatred: but the chief of the gang
was actuated by no higher impulses than ruffled pride and disappointed
greed.



CHAPTER II.

THE OUTBREAK.


During the spring of 1857 the native society of Hindostan presented
those remarkable phenomena which, in an Asiatic community, are the
infallible symptoms of an approaching convulsion. The atmosphere was
alive with rumours, of the nature peculiar to India;--strange and
inconsequent fragments of warning or prediction, which, with reverent
credulity, are passed from mouth to mouth throughout a million
homesteads. No one can tell whence the dim whisper first arose, or
what it may portend; it is received as a voice from heaven, and sent
forward on its course without comment or delay; for the Hindoo people,
like the Greeks of ancient time, hold Rumour to be divine. Some of
these unwritten oracles undoubtedly grew spontaneously from the talk
of men, and were to be regarded merely as indications of the agitated
and uneasy condition of the public mind; but, beyond all question, some
secret influence was at work to advertise, so to speak, the mutiny. The
ringleaders of that gigantic conspiracy advisedly undertook to impress
upon the world at large the idea that something was coming, the like of
which had not been known before. Manifold and variously expressed as
were the prevailing reports, all had one and the same tendency. With
a thousand tongues, and in a thousand forms, they spoke of a great
trial that awaited the national religions; a trial from which they
were eventually to emerge unscathed and victorious. A prophecy had
long been current, that the hundredth year from the battle of Plassy
would witness the downfall of the English rule; and the hundredth
year had arrived. A mandate had of late gone forth from the palace of
Delhi, enjoining the Mahommedans at all their solemn gatherings to
recite a song of lamentation, indited by the royal musician himself,
which described in touching strains the humiliation of their race,
and the degradation of their ancient faith, once triumphant from the
Northern snows to the Southern strait, but now trodden under the foot
of the infidel and the alien. In January, the peasants of Bengal were
repeating to each other a sentence apparently devoid of meaning, "Sub
lal hoga," "everything is to become red." Some referred this dubious
announcement to the probable extension of our empire over the whole
continent, when the scarlet coats of our soldiers would be seen at
Hyderabad and Khatmandoo, in Cashmere and Travancore; while others
hinted that there was something thicker than water, and of a deeper
crimson than a British uniform. Side by side with like ambiguous
sayings, were more plain-spoken assertions concerning cartridges
smeared with lard, and flour mixed with the ground bones of cow and
pig, and other treacherous devices by which the demon who swayed the
sceptre of Hindostan, the impalpable but omnipotent Kumpani, aimed at
the destruction of sect and caste, and the universal establishment
of Christianity. And, finally, during the early days of March, every
hamlet in the Gangetic provinces received from its neighbour the
innocent present of two chupatties, or bannocks of salt and dough,
which form the staple food of the population. This far-famed token,
the fiery cross of India, had no definite signification. It notified
generally that men would do well to keep themselves prepared, for that
something was in the air. In after days, one who had learned their
effect by bitter experience, likened the chupatties to the cake of
barley-bread which foreshadowed the destruction of the host of Midian.
And so, from hand to hand, and from house to house, and from village
to village, the mysterious symbol flew, and spread through the length
and breadth of the land confusion and questioning, a wild terror, and
a wilder hope. Truly, it may be said that, as in Judæa of old, there
was distress of nations, and perplexity; men's hearts failing them for
fear, and for looking after those things that were coming on the earth.

Meanwhile, at Cawnpore, people ate, and drank, and married, and gave
in marriage, and led the ordinary life of an up-country station. The
magistrate grumbled because the judge acquitted too large a per centage
of his committals; and the collector pronounced himself ill-used
because the revenue board would not allow him an additional lac of
rupees for his pet embankment; and the subalterns complained that
the police-magistrate did not permit them to impress men to act as
beaters at less than the market rate of wages; and the captains, by
the aid of the mess-room army-list, made those intricate calculations
which are the delight of military men and the despair of civilians;
and the ladies, those, at least, on whom during the past cold season
Fortune and Hymen had smiled, began to allow that the weather had grown
too warm for dancing, though still eminently favourable for morning
calls; and one talked of sending her children home; and another of
going herself to the hills; and, towards the end of April, a party of
disbanded Brahmins of the Nineteenth regiment came from the west, and
spread through the Sepoy lines strange tales of greased cartridges, and
gibbets, and midnight tumults, and officers cut down in the midst of
the parade-ground.

Before the month of May was half over, the English residents at
Cawnpore were beginning to be made uneasy by the disagreeable character
of the intelligence from Agra. Something had happened at Meerut, and it
was feared that something had happened at Delhi. Guns had been heard
all the night of the tenth. European travellers from the north-west,
whose arrival had been confidently expected, did not make their
appearance. A party of the police had gone out to look for them, but
met nobody except a young Sepoy trotting down the road on a cavalry
troop-horse, who refused to answer any questions. But in the meanwhile,
by those secret channels through which in eastern regions bad news
travels with more than proverbial celerity, it was well known in the
bazaar that the Third Light Cavalry had turned upon their officers;
that murder and arson had been the order of the day; that the vast
native garrison of Delhi had risen to a man, and had butchered every
Englishman on whom they could lay their hands; that mutiny had gotten
to itself a nucleus and a stronghold in the capital of the Mogul.
These tidings caused great excitement throughout the cantonments, and,
especially, in the lines of the Second Cavalry, to whose regiment the
corps which had set the example of sedition stood next on the rolls of
the Bengal army.

The officer in command of the Cawnpore division was Major-General Sir
Hugh Wheeler, K.C.B. At the outbreak of the troubles, many of our
most important stations were entrusted to the charge of men who had
won their spurs at Seringapatam, and might well have been content
to have closed their career at Mooltan. It was to our shame as a
military nation that, during such a crisis, the fortunes of England
too often depended on the anility of invalids who should have been
comfortably telling their stories of the Mahratta war in the pump-rooms
of Cheltenham and Buxton. History blushes to chide these veterans
for shortcomings incidental to their age. It is hardly just to blame
them for prating of Lord Lake, and whimpering about the unsoldierlike
appearance which the troops presented without their stocks and with
their sun-helmets, at a time when younger warriors would have been
disarming, and blowing from guns, and securing treasure, and throwing
up earthworks, and sending the women and children down the river to
Calcutta. In this his second half-century of Indian service, Sir Hugh
was among the oldest members of the old school of Bengal officers. He
worshipped his sepoys; spoke their language like one of themselves;
and, indeed, had testified to his predilection for the natives of
Hindostan by the strongest proof which it is in the power of a man to
give. Short and spare, he still rode and walked like a soldier: and
appears to have been capable of as much exertion as could reasonably be
expected from an Englishman who had spent beneath an Indian sun more
than two-thirds of his seventy-five years. On the eighteenth of May, he
despatched the following message to the seat of Government:

"All well at Cawnpore. Quiet, but excitement continues among the
people. The final advance on Delhi will soon be made. The insurgents
can only be about 3,000 in number, and are said to cling to the walls
of Delhi, where they have put up a puppet-king. I grudge the escape of
one of them. Calm and expert policy will soon reassure the public mind.
The plague is, in truth, stayed."

The reader need not be alarmed at the length of the telegraphic news
from Cawnpore. There is but little more to come.

For in truth the plague was very far from stayed. The soldiery knew
their own strength, and were well inclined to turn the knowledge to
profit. There were schoolmasters who might have taught them a lesson
of quite another description: but it was a far cry to Barrackpore,
and there was no Hearsay at hand. It happens that a native lawyer,
Nanukchund by name, took the precaution to keep a full and faithful
journal, from the fifteenth of May onwards. This man was bound to
our interest by the indissoluble tie of a common fear. A personal
enemy of the Nana, he was actually engaged in conducting the suit
instituted by the nephew of Bajee Rao to establish his claim to the
half of his uncle's estate. With genuine Hindoo sagacity, he foresaw
the approaching struggle, and the ultimate triumph of the English
power; and conjectured that a record of events compiled with accuracy,
slightly tinged by a somewhat ostentatious loyalty, would certainly
procure him credit, and, possibly, a comfortable official income. Two
days before Sir Hugh made his cheerful report to the Governor-General,
Nanukchund looked in on a friend employed at the Treasury, and there
heard the native officers of the guard uttering traitorous language,
while their men amused themselves by quarrelling with the townsfolk who
went to the Treasury on business. They detained people who came out
with money or stamp-papers, and would not release them till ordered
to do so by the Soubahdar. "It began to be evident," says this shrewd
observer, "that nobody had any authority but the Soubahdars and the
sepoys."

At length the symptoms of the growing malady became too patent to be
disregarded even by the most sanguine physician. It came to the ears
of the General that the son of a trooper in the Second Cavalry had
been boasting to his schoolfellows that he was in the secret of what
his father's regiment intended to do for the good cause. And, about
the same time, one Khan Mahomed, a sepoy of the Fifty-sixth, took upon
himself to assert that on the fifth of the next month the native troops
were to be deprived of their arms, assembled under the pretence of
getting their pay, and then and there blown up from a mine constructed
by the European officers in the intervals of billiards. This singularly
unpleasant prophet seems to have been without honour in his own
battalion. His comrades brought information to the adjutant, who gave
himself no trouble about the matter, beyond telling them that the story
was all a lie. Thereupon Khan Mahomed went to the cavalry lines, where
he found an audience more ready to accept his tale. On this occasion he
imported some squadrons of English troopers, who were to be equipped
with the swords and horses of his hearers. The regiment was soon in a
panic of rage and fear. It became necessary to take immediate measures.
The incendiary was put in irons, and an urgent application for aid
telegraphed to Lucknow. Sir Henry Lawrence was roused from his bed at
midnight, and by break of day all the available post-carriages in the
station were rolling along towards Cawnpore, crammed inside and out
with English soldiers.

But, in an hour of evil omen, Sir Hugh bethought himself of invoking
the assistance of a more dubious ally. The Nana had lately paid a visit
to the capital of Oude, under pretence of seeing the lions of the
place. The arrogance of his manner, and the discourtesy of his sudden
and unannounced departure, had attracted the attention of Mr. Gubbins,
the Financial Commissioner, who communicated to General Wheeler his
suspicions, backed by the opinion of Sir Henry Lawrence. It may be that
the fatal step was first suggested by the warning of wiser men. It may
be that the idea had long been familiar to the mind of the infatuated
veteran. At all events, the sole answer to the remonstrance from
Lucknow was a message, dated the twenty-second of May, stating that
"two guns, and three hundred men, cavalry and infantry, furnished by
the Maharaja of Bithoor, came in this morning."

On their march to Cawnpore, these scoundrels furnished a striking proof
of their discipline and good faith. Chimna Apa, a man of some property,
who supplied the nephew of Bajee Rao with the means of carrying on his
law-suit, was driving out of town in the direction of Bithoor, when he
unexpectedly came upon this formidable array commanded by the rival
litigant. Apa, like a sensible fellow, jumped off his conveyance,
and ran into a neighbouring ravine. The Nana's people appropriated a
valuable sword and five hundred rupees, which the fugitive had left
behind in his haste, cudgelled the servants, and went off declaring
that the master had better look to himself, as the British rule would
only last a few days longer. This specimen of the services which these
new protectors were likely to render to the cause of law and order
was brought to the notice of the authorities; but they had gone too
far to draw back. The Nana took up his quarters in the midst of the
houses occupied by the civilians and their families; the Treasury,
which contained upwards of a hundred thousand pounds, was put under the
custody of his body-guard; and it was even proposed that the ladies and
children should be placed in sanctuary in Bithoor palace.

There were some, however, who scrupled to entrust the honour of England
and the lives of her daughters to the exclusive guardianship of a
discontented Mahratta. At their instigation the General set to work
in a dilatory spirit to provide an asylum where, if the worst should
befall, we might shelter, for a while at least, the relics of our name
and power. He does not appear to have thought of the magazine, which
was admirably adapted for defence. A mud wall, four feet high, was
thrown up round the buildings which composed the old dragoon hospital,
and ten guns of various calibre were placed in position round the
intrenchment, by which name the miserable contrivance was dignified.
Orders were given to lay in supplies for twenty-five days. The stock of
rice, butter, salt, tea, sugar, rum, beer, and preserved meats looked
well enough on paper. But the master's eye, which in India is even more
essential than elsewhere, was entirely wanting. The contractors behaved
after their kind. Peas and flour formed the bulk of the supplies, and
even these were ridiculously insufficient. The regimental officers,
who had no very lively confidence in Sir Hugh as a caterer, sent
in large contributions of liquor and hermetically-sealed tins from
their mess-stores. The tangible results of a fortnight's labour and
supervision, at a time when every hour was precious, and every day
priceless, consisted in a few cart-loads of coarse native food, and a
fence not high enough to keep out an active cow. Utterly insufficient
as they were, the sight of these preparations had a most unfortunate
influence upon the minds of the sepoys. The timid were seriously
alarmed by the hostile attitude adopted by our countrymen. The bolder
spirits rejoiced to witness so plain a confession of apprehension on
the part of their officers; while the more honest and trustworthy
among their number would say to each other: "The sahibs have lost all
confidence in us, and we shall never get over it." Where there is a
will, there is a way, even in such a strait. And where there is half a
will, there is a way likewise; but it leads whither it is not good that
brave men should go, to disaster and discomfort, to bootless sacrifice
and inglorious ruin. During these days Azimoolah, while walking with a
lieutenant who had been a great favourite at Bithoor, pointed to the
fortification which was then in progress, and said:--

"What do you call that place you are making out in the plain?"

"I am sure I don't know," was the reply.

Azimoolah suggested that it should be called "The Fort of Despair."
"No, no;" answered the Englishman, "we will call it the Fort of
Victory:" an observation that was received by his companion with an
air of incredulous assent, which he must have acquired in West End
drawing-rooms.

And now ensued a period of ceaseless dread, of suspicion that never
slumbered, of suspense hardly preferable to the most terrible
certainty. The women and children spent the nights within the circuit
of the intrenchment, while their husbands, with devotion that merited
a better reward, pitched their tents among the sepoy huts, and so took
what sleep they might. On the twentieth of May, flames broke out after
dark in the lines of the First Native Infantry. In a moment the station
was on the alert. Men hurried on their clothes, and clutched revolvers
from under their pillows. Guns loaded with grape were trundled down to
a preconcerted rendezvous. It was no easy matter to persuade people
that so ill-timed a conflagration could be altogether accidental. The
twenty-fourth of the month was the festival of the Eed: a season which
Mahommedans celebrate with the blood of sheep and goats, though on this
occasion there was serious cause to apprehend lest, in their religious
enthusiasm, they should pant for nobler victims. Sir Hugh telegraphed
to Lucknow his belief that nothing could avert a rising. The feast,
however, passed off without any disturbance. The Mussulmans in our
ranks paid their respects to their officers; acknowledged with apparent
gratitude the customary present of a fat Patna sheep; and protested
that, come what might, they would be faithful to their leaders:--a
statement that was accepted for as much as it was worth.

But these alternations of confidence and alarm gradually settled down
into chronic gloom. On the return of the Queen's birthday the usual
compliment was omitted, lest the natives should interpret the firing
of the salute as a signal for revolt. Even military loyalty dared not
do honour to our sovereign in a garrison that was still nominally her
own. A sergeant's wife was making some purchases in the bazaar, when a
man, whose martial gait and spruce appearance clearly proclaimed the
sepoy in undress, accosted the poor woman in these words:--"Ah! you
will none of you come here much oftener; you will not be alive another
week." Our countrymen began to keep watch all night by turns, armed to
the teeth. As on a burning ship, when the sea runs high, and the last
boat has been swamped or dashed to pieces, the crew wait with clenched
teeth till the fire has reached the magazine, and say, "Now it is
coming;" and again, "Now;" so the Englishmen at Cawnpore, ignorant what
each day might bring forth, certain only that the catastrophe was not
remote, sat, pistol in hand, and expected the inevitable. Some families
endeavoured to get down to Allahabad ere it was yet too late. But the
roads swarmed with rebellious peasantry, and liberated jail-birds: the
shallows in the river forbade all passage in this the eighth month of
the annual drought; and escape was found to be impracticable. Whatever
destiny might have in store was to be shared by all alike.

During the closing days of May, people were writing hard to catch the
Home Mail: and they did well, for it was their last. Strange, beyond
conception of poet strange and sad, must have been the contents of
that Cawnpore mail-bag. Imagine Colonel Ewart seated at his desk in a
tent surrounded by line behind line of huts and camp-fires, in and
about which are swaggering hundreds of insolent, faithless mercenaries.
Picture that scene, and then read: "I do not wish to write gloomily,
but there is no use in disguising the fact, that we are in the utmost
danger; and, as I have said, if the troops do mutiny, my life must
almost certainly be sacrificed; but I do not think they will venture to
attack the intrenched position which is held by the European troops, so
I hope in God that my wife and child will be saved.

"And now, dear A----, farewell. If, under God's providence, this be the
last time I am to write to you, I entreat you to forgive all I have
ever done to trouble you, and to think kindly of me. I know you will be
everything a mother can be to my boy. I cannot write to him this time,
dear little fellow. Kiss him for me. Kind love to my brothers."

So spoke the stout soldier, fearing not for himself, but for a wife who
was worthy of the husband, as her own words show. "My dear child," she
says, "is looking very delicate. My prayer is that she may be spared
much suffering. The bitterness of death has been tasted by us many
times during the last fortnight, and, should the reality come, I hope
we may find strength to meet it with a truly Christian courage. It is
not hard to die oneself, but to see a dear child suffer and perish,
that is the hard, the bitter trial, and the cup which I must drink,
should God not deem it fit that it should pass from me. My companion,
Mrs. Hillersdon, is delightful. Poor young thing, she has such a
gentle spirit, so unmurmuring, so desirous to meet the trial rightly,
unselfish and sweet in every way. She has two children, and we feel
that our duty to our little ones demands that we should exert ourselves
to keep up health and spirits as much as possible." That is the temper
with which the mothers of Englishmen should die, if die they must.

"Such nights of anxiety," she continues, "I would never have believed
possible, and the days are full of excitement. Another fortnight, we
expect, will decide our fate; and, whatever it may be, I trust we
shall be able to bear it. If these are my last words to you, you will
remember them lovingly, and always bear in mind that your affection
and the love we have ever had for each other is an ingredient of
comfort in these bitter times." Such was the tone of the letters which,
thence and at that season, went forth to spread a terrible solicitude
through many an English household. Very different from the tender
confidences and innocent gossip, the reminiscences of sick leave and
the anticipations of furlough, the directions to milliners and the
inquiries about boarding-schools, which are the ordinary materials of
the Home Correspondence from an Indian station.

Meanwhile, the Nana was in intimate communication with the ringleaders
of the Second Cavalry. The black sheep of the regiment were wont to
hold meetings at the quarters of a trooper named Shumshoodeen Rhan, and
of Teeka Sing, a Hindoo Soubahdar, who, by his audacity and energy,
had gained an ascendency among his colleagues. These gatherings were
attended by Jwala Pershad, a hanger-on at Bithoor Palace, and Muddud
Ali, who had lately resigned the service of the Maharaja and taken to
horse-dealing, but who still used to visit his former master in the
way of business. At length, Teeka Sing had the honour of an interview
with the Nana himself, during which, according to the story current
among his comrades, the Soubahdar spoke to this effect: "You have come
to take charge of the magazine and treasury of the English; we all,
Hindoos and Mahommedans, have united for our religions, and the whole
Bengal army has become one in purpose. What do you say to it?" The Nana
replied: "I, also, am at the disposal of the army." This very essential
question having been so frankly answered, arrangements were made for
a final consultation. One June evening, after dusk, the Maharaja,
accompanied by his brother Bala and the ubiquitous Azimoolah, repaired
to a landing-place on the Ganges, whither his emissaries had conducted
Teeka Sing and his associates. The whole party seated themselves in a
boat, and talked earnestly for the space of two hours. They appear to
have arrived at a satisfactory conclusion; for, next day, Shumshoodeen
wetted his prospective honours at the house of Azeezun, a favourite
courtesan of the Second Cavalry troopers. In his tipsy fondness he told
the girl that in a day or two the Nana would be paramount, and promised
to stuff her house with gold mohurs from roof to cellar.

The Maharaja endeavoured to conceal his movements by shifting his
residence to and fro between Bithoor and the cantonments; but he was
closely watched by the spies of those among his own countrymen who had
reason to dread his elevation. If British authority were to perish, if
the sepoys and their new ally were in power but for a single week, it
would go ill indeed with all who had ever crossed the Nana in love,
law, or speculation. And, especially, any who had concern in the great
law-suit would do well to look to themselves, litigant, paymaster,
witness, and counsel alike. As early as the twenty-sixth of May, the
sharp-sighted advocate, whose diary has been already quoted, drew up
an account of the embryo conspiracy, and sent it in the form of a
petition to the magistrate of the Station; "Who," says Nanukchund,
"gave no heed to my petition, and got so vexed with me that I cannot
describe his anger. He said to me, 'You have all along been speaking
ill of the Nana, and filing suits against him in the civil courts. I
cannot pay attention to any representation from a person so hostile
to the Nana.' I replied that those affairs had no connexion with the
present question, that the Nana had long harboured enmity to the
Government, and a great number of rascals belonged to his party; that
he (the Magistrate) would remember my caution, and that I had obtained
certain intelligence, as the men of the Nana's household communicated
it to Chimna Apa, my client. The Magistrate would listen to nothing. In
despair, I did nothing further than keep a copy of the petition in my
book. It is a hopeless case. Let us see what will be the end of all
this neglect." A dramatist of ancient Greece would have attributed such
obstinate blindness to the malice of some injured deity, misleading
to their bane those whom he had marked for destruction. There is a
Goddess of Delusion in the eternal order of things no less than in the
Æschylean mythology.

The last mail had already left Cawnpore. At nine o'clock on the night
of the third of June, went forth the last telegraphic message that ever
reached the outer world. Thus it ran:--

  "_Sir Hugh Wheeler to the Secretary to the Government of India._

  "All the orders and proclamations have been sent express, as the
  telegraph communication between this and Agra is obstructed.

  "Sir Henry Lawrence having expressed some uneasiness, I have just
  sent him by post carriages out of my small force two officers and
  fifty men of Her Majesty's 84th Foot; conveyance for more not
  available. This leaves me weak, but I trust to holding my own until
  more Europeans arrive."

So it was. Prompted by a genuine sentiment of chivalry, Sir Hugh not
only sent back the Lucknow reinforcement that had arrived during the
previous week, but increased it by a detachment from his own scanty
command. He doubtless considered that, at such a time, a loan of
English bayonets should bear high interest. And it was well for these
men that they were removed from the doomed garrison to a field where
they might fight not without some prospect of life, some hope of
victory. Those who were marked to remain and die were enough to do
their country loss.

As in a frame predisposed to disease the slightest irregularity is
productive of fatal results, so now at Cawnpore the smouldering fires
of discontent and distrust were inflamed by an incident which at
ordinary times would have passed almost without remark. There was
resident at the station a cashiered subaltern whom it would be cruel
to name; one of those miserable men who had sought relief from the
mental vacuity and physical prostration of an Indian military life in
the deadly solace of excess. This officer, whether in the wantonness
of drink, or the horror of shattered nerves, fired a shot at a cavalry
patrol who challenged him as he reeled out of his bungalow into the
darkness. He missed his aim, as was natural under the circumstances;
but the trooper lodged a complaint in the morning, and a court-martial
was assembled which acquitted the Englishman, on the ground that he
was intoxicated at the time, and that his musket had gone off under
a mistake. The sepoys, familiar as they were with the brutality of
low Europeans and the vagaries of military justice, would at a less
critical season have expressed small surprise either at the outrage or
the decision. But now their blood was up, and their pride awake, and
they were not inclined to overrate the privileges of an Anglo-Saxon,
or the sagacity of a military tribunal. The men of the Second Cavalry
muttered angrily that possibly their own muskets might go off by
mistake before very long, and this significant expression became
proverbial throughout the whole native force. Additional point was
given to the grim humour of the soldiery by the unwonted sight of the
corpses of an English lady and gentleman, which, floating down the
river from some distant scene of death, had turned aside into the canal
that traversed the city of Cawnpore. Ganges was yet to bear many such
dire burdens. Though wires had been cut, and mails burnt, and every
road blockaded, these silent but unimpeachable messengers, in virtue
of the safe-conduct granted to them alone, were long destined to carry
from station to station the tidings of woe and dismay.

The end was not remote. That despair deferred, which had long made
sick the hearts of our countrymen,--that great fear which was their
companion day and night,--had now reached their consummation.
On Thursday, the fourth of June: while far away on the banks of
pleasant Thames, Eton was celebrating the birthday of her patron
monarch with recitations from Julius Cæsar, and copious libations of
unwonted champagne: at Cawnpore the men of the Second Cavalry were
sharpening sabres, and distributing ammunition, and secreting their
families and their property in the back-slums of the native city.
In the mid-darkness of the succeeding night, when men were in their
first sleep, three reports of a pistol, and a sudden and brilliant
conflagration, showed that the hour had arrived. Teeka Sing, who was
on picket duty with his troop, set the example of sedition, which was
speedily followed by the entire corps. Some ran to set alight the
house of the English riding-master; some to make a bonfire of the
horse-litter; others to secure the treasure-chest and the colours.
These last were stoutly opposed by the old Soubahdar-major, or native
Colonel, who was cut down at his post after a gallant resistance.
Then the regiment, mounted and accoutred, drew up on the high road.
A bugle sounded, and two horsemen left the ranks, and went towards
the lines of the First Native Infantry, and there cried in a loud
voice through the gloom: "Our Soubahdar-major sends his compliments
to the Soubahdar-major of the First, and wishes to know the reason of
this delay, as the cavalry are drawn up on the road." Hereupon the
sepoys, ignorant that the man in whose name they were invoked was at
that moment lying senseless and bleeding in the quarter-guard as a
punishment for his loyalty--ignorant of this, and perhaps not much
caring--began to load their muskets, and hurry on their cross-belts,
and pack up their valuables. Colonel Ewart was at once on the spot,
and in vain endeavoured to recall his soldiers to their allegiance,
saying to them in the Hindoostanee tongue: "My children! my children!
this is not your usual conduct. Do not so great a wickedness!" But it
was too late for argument or entreaty. The battalion turned out in a
body, fraternized with the mutinous troopers, and marched off in their
company towards Nawabgunge, the North-west suburb of Cawnpore, where
lay the Treasury and the Magazine.

Meanwhile the alarm spread through the station. The Adjutants of the
Fifty-third and Fifty-sixth regiments got their sepoys together on the
parade-ground, and kept them under arms till the sun was well above
the horizon. Then the Colonel of the Fifty-sixth marched his battalion
down to the deserted lines of the Second Cavalry, collected and secured
the horses and arms which had been left behind by the mutineers,
and finally permitted his men to doff their uniforms and cook their
breakfasts. The Major of the Fifty-third likewise dismissed his
regiment, and at the same time summoned into the entrenchment all his
native officers, commissioned and non-commissioned. At such a crisis it
was singularly injudicious to leave the men to themselves, especially
as in this corps the Soubahdars and Jemmadars were for the most part
free from the taint of disaffection, and might have done much towards
keeping the rank and file to their allegiance. During their absence a
trooper of the Second Cavalry rode in among the huts with a message
from the company of the Fifty-third which was posted at the Government
Treasury, to the effect that the guard would allow no division of the
spoil until their own regiment was on the spot to claim its share.
Ere long four or five grenadiers of the Fifty-sixth were observed to
steal across to the neighbouring lines, and soon after they were seen
talking eagerly and in a low voice with a sergeant and private of the
light company. Presently these two men shouted out: "Glory be to the
great God! Gentlemen, prepare for action!" and a rush was made on the
quarter-guard. The sergeant broke open the treasure-chest, and the
private seized the colours. The native Captain who was in charge of
the precious deposit stood his ground like a man; but he was fired at,
hustled, and overpowered by numbers. In an instant all was uproar,
confusion, and terror. The sergeant of the fourth company burst into
tears, and ran to fetch the Adjutant; the soldiers of the fifth and
light companies flung on their coats, loaded their muskets, and crammed
their girdles with the regimental rupees; while the remainder of
the corps came of their own accord on to the parade-ground with the
intention of placing themselves under the command of their officers.
Unfortunately at this moment Sir Hugh Wheeler, prompt with an ill-timed
energy, and wary with a misplaced distrust, ordered the guns of the
intrenchment to open fire upon the wavering multitude. At first the
sepoys of the Fifty-third seemed unwilling to believe that their
commander had adopted this cruel and uncourteous method of intimating
to them that he dispensed with their services: but the third round
proved too strong a test for their loyalty. They broke and fled along
the main road: the greater part never stopping until they had joined
the mutineers at Nawabgunge: though a considerable number preferred to
conceal themselves in an adjacent ravine until such time as it should
please Sir Hugh to allow them to come within gunshot of their own
officers.

So went the Fifty-third. The story of the revolt of the Fifty-sixth is
told with characteristic Hindoo simplicity by Khoda Bux, a commissioned
officer of that regiment. He says: "I was sleeping in my house between
twelve and one A.M., when Hossain Bux, Havildar, Grenadier Company,
came and awoke me, and said, 'What? Are you not awake? There is a row
in the cavalry lines, three reports of a pistol, and the Quarter-master
Sergeant's bungalow is on fire.' I was astonished, and ordered the
regiment to turn out, and went to give information to the Adjutant.
He came out of his tent, and went with me to parade, and asked if the
regiment was ready. I said, 'Yes, it is ready.' He said, 'Where is it?'
I said, 'In front of the bells of arms.' He ordered them to form up
in front of the quarter-guard. I formed them up, and made them ready.
I received orders that, if any cavalry man came, he was instantly to
be shot. In this way we passed the night with our officers. No one
took off his uniform. The cavalry having mutinied went away to Delhi.
In the morning the Adjutant ordered us to take off our uniforms, and
eat our dinners. Then the guards were placed, and we took off our
uniforms. The colonel came to us, and asked what Naick was on duty at
the elephant sheds, as the cavalry and First Native Infantry wanted
four elephants, which were under a guard of a Naick and four sepoys
of the regiment, and he was greatly pleased they had refused to give
them up, and that he was so content with the Naick that he should
make him an Havildar. I said it was Gunga Deen, Naick, First Company.
The First Regiment mutinied like the cavalry, and went away. After
this the Colonel said, 'Bhowany Singh, Soubahdar, has been wounded by
these mutineers. I will go and see him.' I and Annundeedeen, Havildar
Major, went with the Colonel to the Cavalry Hospital, and saw Bhowany
Singh, who was wounded. The Colonel was very much pleased with him. The
Colonel then went to his bungalow, and I and Annundeedeen went to our
lines, and, having taken off our uniforms, began to smoke; when Chain
Singh, Havildar, came and said, 'Jemmadar, the regiment is turning
out.' I asked by whose orders, and why. He said, 'I don't know.' I
went outside, and saw that the Havildar was dreadfully frightened, and
was buttoning his coat. I went with him to my company, and saw some
of the men in the tent packing up their clothes, and others throwing
them away. I asked them what was the matter, and why they were getting
ready. They said, 'The Fifty-third regiment is getting ready, and so
are we.' I said, 'Your regiment is the Fifty-sixth; what have you to do
with the Fifty-third? It would be better for you first to shoot me, and
then to do what you like afterwards.' Many of the men said, 'You are
our senior officer; we will not kill you. Come with us.' I said, 'Very
well; I will get ready, and come with you.' I went out of the tent very
slowly for about a hundred yards, and then ran as fast as I could to
the intrenchment, and told the Colonel and Adjutant that the regiment
had mutinied. They said, 'Come with us, and we will see.' I said, 'Oh,
gentlemen, all the regiment has mutinied, and are your enemies. It is
not right for you to go to them.'"

While Khoda Bux was in search of his Colonel it happened that one of
the round shots, fired with a view of frightening away the Sepoys of
the Fifty-third rolled among the camp-kitchens of the Fifty-sixth.
Hereupon Gunga Rai, a grenadier of an excitable and suspicious
temperament, called out that they were all going to be killed, and took
to his heels in the direction of Nawabgunge, followed by the whole mob
of his comrades.

And now the ship had struck the reef towards which she had long been
drifting, and had gone to pieces in the twinkling of an eye. It only
remained for the crew to provision the boats and knock together some
sort of a raft, as in that hour of sudden and bewildering peril best
they might. Our officers at once proceeded to gather up the relics of
the native force. Some went the round of the huts, while others, by the
aid of a bugler, ferretted out the men who had sought a hiding-place in
the ravine. There were found in all some eighty soldiers whose sense of
duty had been stronger than their fear of the English nine-pounders.
During the rest of the day, these sepoys were employed in carting
and conveying within the intrenchment the muskets, ammunition, and
accoutrements which were lying about in the lines. Meanwhile many of
our countrymen commenced preparations for instant flight. All that day
a stream of luggage and furniture was passing to and fro between the
European quarter and the principal landing-places. In that season of
uncertainty and danger, natives who followed the calling of porters
and carriers could not be procured in the bazaar, so the work had to
be done by the domestic servants. A sense of comparative relief now
began to prevail throughout the community. Our officers felt that the
time had arrived when they might consult without dishonour the security
of themselves and their families. Their occupation was gone; and it
seemed very well that their lives had not gone likewise. The blow had
fallen; and they survived. They knew the worst; and that worst was
better than the best which they had foreseen. Their military pride
had been hurt by the sight of their battalion running from them like
a parcel of street-boys at the appearance of a policeman; but in the
cowardice of the sepoys lay the salvation of the officers. Besides,
not only was it extremely improbable that the mutineers would ever
venture again within range of Sir Hugh's artillery, but there existed
a powerful attraction to draw them in quite another direction. Delhi
was the centre towards which gravitated all the wandering atoms of
sedition. There the green flag of the prophet had been unfurled, and
the ancient imperial faith was again dominant. There, on his ancestral
throne, sat the descendant of Shah Jehan, _roi fainéant_ no longer, but
endowed with a lurid splendour of princely independence. There, with
arms dyed to the elbows in European blood, mustered the heroes of the
great outbreak--the men who had hated with the deepest hate, and dared
with the most headlong and effectual daring. Thither, to swell the
ranks of that Prætorian guard, swarmed from every corner of Northern
India all who had reason to covet the ruin of England, or to dread her
triumph. And thither, as our countrymen were well aware, the Cawnpore
mutineers designed to go without delay. Under a firm impression that
all instant risk was at an end, a considerable number of officers
passed the night of the fifth July in their private residences without
the circuit of the intrenchment. Confidence had succeeded to distrust,
cheerful activity to sombre and passive expectation. The faces of the
sepoys were turned towards far Delhi. On the way to Allahabad, by road
or by river, there was nothing which could stop armed and determined
men. Their professional feelings wounded, but their throats uncut and
their honour untarnished, there was good hope that within a month they
might be smoking their cheroots in the verandah of the United Service
Club in safe and luxurious Calcutta.

But it was not so to be. The rebellion had already gotten to itself
a chief, and the chief had matured for himself a policy. When the
mutineers had arrived at Nawabgunge they were given to understand that
the Nana was in the neighbourhood. Accordingly he was waited on by a
deputation of native officers and troopers who addressed him in these
words: "Maharaja, a kingdom awaits you if you join our enterprise,
but death if you side with our enemies." The ready reply was, "What
have I to do with the British? I am altogether yours." The envoys then
requested him to lead the troops to Delhi. He assented to their desire;
and ended by placing his hand on the head of each of the party, and
swearing fidelity to the national cause. Then the rebels returned to
their comrades, and the business of spoliation began. The mutineers
first marched in a body to the Treasury: the keeper of the keys was
terrified into surrendering his charge: the doors were unlocked, and
silver to the value of near a hundred thousand pounds sterling was
distributed among the ranks of the four regiments. Then the concourse
dispersed in search of plunder and mischief. Some broke open the
jail, and turned loose upon society the concentrated rascality of one
of the most rascally districts in our Eastern dominions. Others set
fire to the magistrate's office and the Court House; and, in a fit
of irrational malice, made a bonfire of all the Records, civil and
criminal alike. Others again, after parading about with a flag hoisted
upon the back of an elephant, vented their spite by cutting the cables
of the bridge of boats, great part of which floated down the river. All
European houses at the west end of the station were burned and sacked.
An unhappy overseer of highways was fired upon, not without effect, and
hunted along the road, the construction of which he had been engaged in
superintending. When they had done as much damage as could be got into
a single morning the mutineers packed their more valuable booty about
their persons; filled a long caravan of carts with their property,
their domestic gods, and their female relations of every degree; set
forth on their adventurous journey; and, after a very easy afternoon's
march, halted at Kullianpore, the first stage on the Delhi road.

But as soon as the deputation from the rebel army had left the presence
of the Nana his most trusted advisers unanimously adjured him to give
up the idea of accompanying the march on Delhi; and especially his âme
damnée, Azimoolah, urged that if he allowed himself to be absorbed
into the court of the Mogul he would lose all power and influence:
that it would be far more politic to bring into subjection the country
round Cawnpore, and so command all the avenues by which the English
reinforcements could penetrate into the heart of the disaffected
regions: that when once possessed of the keys of Delhi and the Punjaub
he might bargain with the rebels for the captain-generalship of
their armies, and the universal sovereignty of the north of India;
and then, with twenty myriads of bayonets and sabres at his back,
he might sweep down the valley of the Ganges, and wreak, once and
for ever, his vengeance on the detested race; fight, on this its
hundredth anniversary, a Plassey very different from the last; renew
the Black Hole of Calcutta under happier auspices, and on a far more
generous scale; and so teach those Christian dogs what it was to flout
a Mahratta and cheat a Brahmin of royal blood. The eloquence of the
ci-devant footman fired the Maharaja, who accordingly ordered his
elephants and pushed on for Kullianpore, attended by his brothers Bala
and Baba Bhut, and the indispensable Azimoolah. The ringleaders of the
mutiny expressed their pleasure in being blessed once more with the
light of his countenance, but displayed very little inclination to
give up the idea of Delhi. On the contrary, they suggested that the
Nana should stay behind at Cawnpore, and garrison the Magazine with
his own retainers, while they themselves prosecuted their expedition
towards the North West. To this Bala, a man of execrable temper,
which, however, he appears to have been able to curb on occasion,
replied that Sir Hugh Wheeler and his Europeans would make themselves
very unpleasant to the defenders of the Magazine, and proposed that
the mutineers should first return and clear out the intrenchment and
then go off to Delhi. At this point the Maharaja threw in a prospect
of unlimited pillage and an offer of a gold anklet to each sepoy,
which produced an instant and favourable effect upon his audience. The
mutineers agreed to retrace their steps, and not leave the station
until they had put all the English to the sword. As a pledge of their
earnest intention to carry out his desires they unanimously saluted
the Nana as their Rajah, and proceeded forthwith to choose leaders who
should command them in the field. Soubahdar Teeka Sing, the prime mover
of the revolt, was appointed chief of the cavalry, with the title of
General. Jemmadar Dulgunjun Sing became Colonel of the Fifty-third, and
Soubahdar Gunga Deen Colonel of the Fifty-sixth.

There is a certain significance in these names: for they indicate that,
in the opinion, at any rate, of the mutineers themselves, the boldest
and most active among the authors of the mutiny were not Mussulmans,
but Hindoos. The belief that such was in fact the case is now very
generally entertained by our most thoughtful and observant public
servants: but that belief is singularly unpalatable to the mass of the
Anglo-Indian community. It was the fashion at the time to attribute
the outbreak to the machinations of the Mahomedan population. Those
ambitious zealots (such was the creed of the day) had never forgiven
us for ousting them from their ancient pre-eminence. It was said that
the professors of a proselytizing faith would never be reconciled to
Nazarene domination; that the professors of an aggressive faith would
never brook that others than they should assert the lofty privileges of
an imperial race. And so our countrymen contended that every follower
of the prophet was at heart a rebel and a traitor, and, therefore,
must necessarily be at the bottom of all the rebellion and treachery
in the land. The habit of assuming that men who hold certain opinions
must be bent upon a certain course of action, and the habit of using
that assumption to justify our own injustice is, and always has been,
peculiarly English. Our ancestors took it for granted that their Roman
Catholic countrymen were haunted by an incessant longing to compass the
death of their own sovereign, and insisted upon treating as fanatics
and assassins honest north-country squires who desired to compass
nothing except the death of a bitch-fox. Our grandfathers took it for
granted that every radical was a Jacobin, and that every Jacobin slept
upon thorns as long as clergymen kept their glebes, and marquises
kept their heads. Our fathers, and, it is to be feared, not a few
of our brothers, took it for granted that every Jew fixed his hopes
exclusively upon the day when his venerable faith should again flourish
in its pristine haunts, and regarded England as a place of pleasant but
not unprofitable exile; and, as a fitting corollary to so plausible
a proposition, we deduced the conviction that Baron Rothschild would
sacrifice the prosperity of his constituency to the interests of the
New Jerusalem.

In the year 1857, our passion for visiting upon people the crimes
which we thought they were bound by their tenets to commit ran riot
throughout the north of India. Our proverbial tendency to give a dog a
bad name and hang him was most barbarously and literally exemplified in
the case of the unfortunate Moslem. After the capture of Delhi, every
member of a class of religious enthusiasts named Ghazees were hung, as
it were, _ex officio_; and it is to be feared that a vindictive and
irresponsible judge, who plumed himself upon having a good eye for
a Ghazee, sent to the gallows more than one individual, whose guilt
consisted in looking as if he belonged to a sect which, probably, was
hostile to our religion. It would have been equally humane and logical
if the ministers of Queen Elizabeth had burned as a Jesuit every one
who was bald on the crown of his head. The city of Patna, where the
Mahomedan element was large and influential, was the favourite bugbear
of the Calcutta alarmists. Happily for them, the officer in charge of
that city shared their suspicions and prejudices, and afforded them
inexpressible delight by discovering secret meetings, by intercepting
treasonable correspondence, and by arresting leading bankers on the
charge of harbouring mutineers. And yet, while tumult and massacre were
rife in the great towns of Oude and the North-west, the disturbances
in Patna were confined to one partial _émeute_, and one unpremeditated
murder. At length the Governor of Bengal, tired of requesting to be
informed why people had been executed in an irregular manner; sick of
listening to the complaints of shopkeepers who were not allowed to
leave their houses after nine at night, and disciples of Mahomedan
professors whose studies were interrupted by the incarceration of their
teachers, superseded the Commissioner, and appointed a successor,
who at once gave his confidence to an able official of the Mahomedan
persuasion. From that day forward Patna was as quiet as Madras.

No act of fidelity or self-sacrifice could exempt a Mussulman from
the hatred and distrust of a large section of Anglo-Indian society.
Syed Azimoodeen, whom Lord William Bentinck had thought worthy of his
friendship and esteem, was among the defenders of the house at Arrah.
The besiegers had set a price on his head, and had offered to spare
the lives of the little garrison if he and one other were surrendered
to their vengeance. As a reward for his loyalty, he became for some
months subsequently the popular theme of abuse in the Anglo-Saxon
papers. "Is it, or is it not the fact," so writes a correspondent,
"that Syed Azimoodeen supplied the mutineers with information as to
the hiding-places of English fugitives? Is it, or is it not the fact
that Coer Sing gave particular injunctions to the sepoys, that, when
the house was stormed, Syed Azimoodeen should be excepted from the
slaughter?" This production proved too strong for the digestion even
of the constant reader of a Calcutta journal. A few days afterwards
there appeared a communication inquiring whether it was or was not the
fact that Coer Sing had given particular orders that the bullets fired
against the house should not hit Azimoodeen, and that, when the mine
exploded, he should be dropped on to a feather-bed placed in the middle
of the compound. But who can wonder at any excess of folly and ferocity
in a publication which could stoop to insert a letter recommending the
rack for "respectable Mahomedans?" When there were some hopes that an
overflow of the river would complete the desolation of our Gangetic
provinces, an Englishman was found inhuman enough to put these words on
paper: "We accorded great favours to the rascally Mussulmans, but the
rains are acting so as to nullify all our indulgences."

During the progress of the revolt, the apprehensions of our countrymen
always became more intense at the approach of the great anniversaries
of the Mahomedan religion. In the early summer, the festival of the
Eed was to many an Anglo-Indian household a season of unspeakable
anxiety, for men dreaded lest to themselves, as to the Egyptians in
old time, the ceremony should prove a veritable Passover, solemnized
by the death of their first-born. Later in the year came the Mohurrum,
the most august and touching of all Oriental rites. It is impossible
even for a Christian and an European to look on without emotion when
the insignia of the mighty dead are borne along,--the crimson standard
of the brother who perished by the sword, and the green standard of
the brother who perished by poison:--when, midst a forest of silver
staves and silken banners, are led the chargers of the heroes; while
behind streams along a dense multitude, beating their breasts, and
reciting in sad cadence the immutable formula of lamentation. Though
nigh twelve hundred years have passed since the tragedy was enacted,
the unfeigned earnestness and melancholy of the mourners excite in the
spectator sympathy far more acute than is accorded even to the funeral
of a contemporary. In the year 1857, Englishmen sat booted and spurred,
pistol in belt and saddle on horse; and listened, as the tramp of feet,
mingled with the clapping of hands and the dull murmur of "Ah me, for
Hosein! Ah me, for Hassan!" died away in the distance. And yet the Eed
and the Mohurrum passed without bloodshed; and men ceased to fear for
their lives, and began to tremble for their cherished theory. And, in
truth, it was just as probable that the Mahomedans of India should
succeed in inciting to rebellion a hundred thousand Brahmin sepoys, by
working upon their religious susceptibilities, as that the Orangemen
of Ireland should organize and direct the Roman Catholic population in
a crusade against the English Crown. However little may be the love
lost between the rival creeds in the Emerald Isle, there is quite as
small waste of that sentiment in the case of the rival superstitions
of our Eastern dominions. On this question, so important when viewed
with respect to the relations between ourselves and the class of our
subjects most worthy of our consideration and regard, the eyes of our
compatriots might have been opened at an early stage of the troubles
by the report of a Court of Inquiry, which sat upon the disturbance at
Barrackpore. That court, "from the evidence before them, are of opinion
that the Sikhs and Mussulmans of the Thirty-fourth Regiment of Native
Infantry are trustworthy soldiers of the State, but that the Hindoos
generally of that corps are not trustworthy." But there is a blindness
which it is idle to foment with the application of common sense, or
to couch with the incisive point of fact; the blindness of terror and
rage, and vengeance seeking in the dark for a victim and a pretext.

At dawn on the morning of the sixth of June, Sir Hugh Wheeler
received a letter, in which the Nana announced his intention of at
once commencing the attack. Our officers were summoned within the
intrenchment, where, for a fortnight past, the women and children had
already been in sanctuary. The order was obeyed with soldier-like
promptitude, intensified by the consciousness of imminent peril. It
fared ill with those who had indulged in a fond anticipation that
their next change of lodging would be to Allahabad and Calcutta.
With no notice of quarter, or month, or week; with no valuation for
fixtures, or inventory of furniture, they were called upon to shift to
a residence held on short and uncertain tenure, and at a fearful rent.
There was no time for packing, or even for selection. There was not
leisure to snatch a parting cup of coffee, or a handful of cigars, or
an armful of favourite books, or a pith-helmet that had been tested
by many a long day's tiger-shooting under the blazing Indian sun.
All possessions, however hardly earned and highly prized,--all dear
memorials of home and love,--were to be alike abandoned to the coming
foe. He who, in that close and burning night of the mid summer, had on
his house-top courted a little air and sleep, might not stay to take
anything out of his house. He who had been on some early service in the
field might not return back to take his clothes. Few and happy were
they who had secured a single change of raiment; and those who, in the
hurry of the moment, had stayed to dress themselves from head to foot,
were by comparison not unfortunate. Half-clad, unbreakfasted, confused,
and breathless, our countrymen huddled like shipwrecked sea-farers
into the precincts of the fatal earthwork, which they entered only to
suffer, and left only to die.

For that fortification had been erected under evil auspices. As of Hiel
the Bethelite, so it may be said of poor Sir Hugh, that he marked out
the ground in his first-born, and set up the épaulement in the youngest
of his household. A chief, whose military eye had not been dulled by
age, would have discerned the rare capabilities for defence afforded
by the magazine, which consisted of an immense walled inclosure,
containing numerous buildings and an inexhaustible store of guns and
ammunition. The position was watered, and at the same time protected in
the rear, by the Ganges. The public offices and the treasury were in
the immediate vicinity, so that the records and the money might have
been placed in safety at the cost of a few hours' labour. The doors
of the jail would have been commanded by our cannon, and at least one
tributary to the flood of disorder pent within its bounds. The native
government officials, who for the most part resided at Nawabgunge,
might have remained in communication with the civil authorities within
the fortress; and the garrison could have been readily supplied with
provisions from the loyal villages in the neighbourhood, and, indeed,
from the city itself; which, says our old friend Nanukchund, "was like
a certain wife who used to act up to the wishes of her husband, because
she feared him, and then could also protect herself; but, when her
husband died, she found herself under other people's control, and lived
in licence." He further observes that "the Sahibs did the reverse of
wisdom. They made the intrenchment far out in the plain and outside
the city, without reflecting that, in case of mutiny breaking out,
it would be surrounded by the rebels on all four sides, who would be
assisted by the artillery of the Magazine, and the Government treasure
so temptingly thrown in their way. Thus, to illustrate the proverb, the
Sahibs put a sword into the enemy's hand, and thrust their own heads
forward."

Such was indeed the case. If the choice of the site for our place
of refuge had been confided to Azimoolah and Teeka Sing, they could
not have selected one more favourable for the attack. The Dragoon
hospital stood in the centre of a vast open space, flat with the
flatness of Bengal, on the south bank of the canal which separated
the military quarter from the Native city, the bridge of boats, the
civil station, and the magazine. The establishment consisted of two
single-storied barracks surrounded by spacious verandahs; each intended
to afford accommodation for a company of a hundred men. The building
that was somewhat the larger of the two was thatched with straw,
which circumstance alone rendered the position untenable. The other
was roofed with concrete, a condition usually expressed by the word
"pucka;" that ubiquitous adjective which is the essential ingredient
of Anglo-Indian conversation. Both houses were constructed of thin
brickwork, hardly proof against the rays of an Eastern sun, and far too
frail to resist a twenty-four pound shot. The hospital was provided
with a due modicum of cooking sheds and servants' huts; and in front
of the thatched barrack was a well, protected by a slight parapet. By
order of Sir Hugh these premises had been enclosed in a mud-wall of
the shape of a rectangular parallelogram; four feet in height; three
feet in thickness at the base; and twenty-four inches at the crest,
which was therefore pervious to a bullet from an Enfield rifle. The
batteries were constructed by the very simple expedient of leaving an
aperture of a size proportioned to the number of the guns: so that our
artillerymen served their pieces, as in the field, with their persons
entirely exposed to the fire of the enemy.

Behind those slender bulwarks was gathered a mixed and feeble company,
to the full sum of a thousand souls. Of these, four hundred and
sixty-five were men, of every age and profession. Their wives and grown
daughters were about two hundred and eighty in number, and their little
ones at least as many. All who were able to bear arms, twenty score
by count, were at once called together, and told off in batches under
their respective officers. The north side of the intrenchment, facing
the river, was strengthened by a poor little triangular outwork, which
our garrison entitled "the Redan;" as if to cheer themselves, during
their cruel and inglorious struggle, with a reminiscence of chivalrous
European warfare. This important post was entrusted to Major Vibart, of
the Second Cavalry, assisted by Captain Jenkins. At the north-eastern
corner, Lieutenants Ashe and Sotheby superintended a battery of one
twenty-four pounder howitzer and two nine-pounders. Captain Kempland
had charge of the east curtain, while at the south-eastern angle stood
three nine-pounder guns under the charge of Lieutenants Eckford,
Burney, and Delafosse; of whom one was destined to show upon happier
fields of battle how the soldiers of Cawnpore fought and bled. Next
in order came the main-guard, held by Lieutenant Turnbull, and
flanked by a tiny rifled piece carrying a three-pound ball, which was
manned by a detachment under the orders of Major Prout. Towards the
north, Lieutenants Dempster and Martin directed the working of three
nine-pounders; and their next neighbour was Captain Whiting, who felt
the Redan with his right, and thus closed the circuit of the defence.
The general supervision of the artillery devolved upon Major Larkins;
but that officer was incapacitated by illness from taking a very active
part in the operations.

There was no time to be lost. While the commanders of the various posts
were choosing their parties, and placing their sentries, and dispensing
their share of the arms and ammunition, already the roar of great
guns, and the clouds of black smoke rising fast and frequent in the
north-west quarter, told them that the warning of the Nana was no empty
menace. As when, during some great hurricane, such as of late passed
o'er pale Calcutta, the tidal wave comes surging up the river, unlooked
for and irresistible, leaving in its track desolation and ruin, the
wrecks of ships and the corpses of men--so on that morning, over doomed
Cawnpore, swept the returning flood of mutiny and misrule. At break of
day the whole rebel array poured down the Delhi road in a compact body,
with the Maharaja at their head, who had good reason to be proud of his
following. It was a force which would have done credit to any Mahratta
chief in the palmiest days of that redoubted race. There was an entire
regiment of excellent cavalry, well mounted and equipped. There was a
detachment of gunners and drivers from the Oude Artillery, who had been
despatched as a loan from Lucknow to Cawnpore, just in time to enable
them to take part in the revolt. There were the Nana's own myrmidons,
who made up by attachment to his cause what they wanted in military
skill. Lastly, there were three fine battalions of Bengal sepoys, led
by experienced sepoy officers, armed with English muskets, and trained
by English discipline. When the mutineers arrived at the outskirts
of the station, Teeka Sing, the General, postponing his private gain
and malice to the public good, repaired at once to the magazine,
and spent the morning in securing a fleet of thirty boats which lay
beneath the walls, laden with shot, shell, and heavy cannon. The guns
in serviceable order he sent off towards the intrenchment on carriages
drawn by Government bullocks; and those which were not in condition
for immediate use, he compelled the artificers of the establishment to
brush up on the Government lathes. But the main body of the insurgents
displayed no such foresight or self-control. They kept close order no
longer, but spread themselves out to the right and left, and, robbing,
burning, and murdering as they went, bore southwards over the civil
quarter and the native city. Sir George Parker and a party of his
friends, who, inobservant of the coming storm, were lingering over
their last breakfast in his pleasant villa, had barely time to fly
for their lives. Four office-clerks, who lived together in a shop on
the banks of the canal, after a valiant resistance, were smoked out
of their lodging, and slain as they fled. The troopers of the Second
Cavalry galloped up and down the lanes of the black town, hunting
for Englishmen; and the low-caste Mahomedans of the bazaar--the
sword-polishers, the cotton-spinners, and the dealers in silver
ornaments--joined eagerly in the chase. One European was run down and
worried to death in a garden. Another, a gentleman advanced in age,
had concealed himself in a hut near the posting-house, in company with
his wife, his little daughter, and his son, a boy of sixteen years.
The wretched family were tracked to their hiding-place, arrested,
and dragged before the Nana, who ordered them for instant execution;
and they were happy at least in this, that they died together, and
without delay. Proclamation was made that every building in which
shelter had been given to Europeans, Eurasians, or Christians of any
extraction, should first be plundered, and then razed to the ground.
This announcement provided the rebels with a pretext for breaking open
and ransacking the dwellings of many respectable natives. Buddree Nath,
the commissariat contractor, who was accused of secreting Lady Wheeler
and her daughters, lost the savings of a lifetime in the course of a
single hour. The scum of the city made the most of their period of
licence, and, when any portable property came in their way, took good
care not to inquire very closely into the creed of the owner. Among
others, the King of Oude is supposed to have suffered a heavy loss.
Forty thousand rupees belonging to a Hindoo merchant were taken from a
cart which stood in the premises of the post-office, and removed into
the most blackguard districts of the neighbourhood. A gang of cavalry
soldiers went down the Street of Silver, the main thoroughfare of the
town, beating in the doors of the cloth-merchants and money-changers,
insulting the trembling tradesmen, and carrying off all the valuables
on which they could lay their hands. Meanwhile, those mutineers whose
religious spite overcame their desire for lucre, were deriving intense
enjoyment from the occupation of cannonading the church. Another large
company of Brahmin sepoys, whose orthodox indignation took a more
practical turn, and could not content itself with the somewhat tame
pastime of persecuting senseless brick and plaster, marched off to the
Mahomedan quarter; bombarded the residence of the Nunhey Nawab, the
most influential Mussulman noble of the vicinity; blew open the gates;
smashed the glass-ware and the porcelain; appropriated the contents
of the wardrobe and the plate-chest; and told the master of the house
to consider himself a prisoner. They then proceeded to take into
custody other leading gentlemen of the same persuasion, and returned
to the Nana loaded with spoil, and followed by a line of sedan-chairs
containing the persons of their captives.

As the morning advanced, the reports of the musketry and the tumult
of voices grew more and more distinct to the ears of our countrymen.
Nearer and ever nearer rolled the flames of the blazing houses, and
the white puffs which betokened the presence of artillery. At length,
stung by a generous impatience, Lieutenant Ashe took out his guns to
reconnoitre, accompanied by some five and twenty volunteers. The party
had barely gone forward a quarter of a mile, when they caught sight
of the rebel van, which had already passed the canal, and occupied in
force the neighbourhood of the bridge. Our people returned faster than
they went, and not all; for one, at least, Lieutenant Ashburner, was
never again seen or heard of; and poor Mr. Murphy, of the East Indian
Railway, brought back with him a wound, to which he succumbed before
the day was out. He enjoyed the melancholy honour of being buried in
a solitary coffin which had been found in a corner of the hospital;
and shared with one other, a lady who died of fever, enviable in that
she was the first, the privilege of being decently interred within the
precincts of the intrenchment. There soon came to be scanty leisure
for funeral rites. At ten o'clock the mutineers fired their first
shot, from a nine-pounder gun, which they had brought down to the
vacant lines of the First Infantry. The ball struck the crest of the
mud wall, and glided over into the smaller barrack, where it broke the
leg of an unhappy native footman, who breathed his last in the course
of the afternoon. This terrible and unwonted visitor, the precursor
of many, scared indoors a large assembly of ladies and children who
were sitting and playing in and about the verandahs; and sent to their
posts the fighting men, most of whom had now their earliest experience
of the sensation produced by the whizzing rush of a round shot; an
ominous sound, which, ere long, became familiar to them as the click
of the billiard-ball to a marker, or the buzz of the tennis-ball to an
_habitué_ of Princes' Club.

And so the siege had begun. The first stroke had been played in that
momentous contest, of which the stake was a thousand English lives;
since nothing remained for our countrymen to protect save their bare
existences and the empty shadow of the British rule. The first game
had gone against us. The Nana had won the regiments; and the regiments
had won their colours, their weapons, and their pay. Why needed they
to grudge the losers their breath? Why, for a possession of no value,
except to the owner, should they deliberately commence a hazardous and
protracted match of double or quits? Power and authority, treasures
and munitions, the sinews and the muscles of war, had alike passed
over to the sepoys. What temptation was there to run the manifold
public chances of battle, and incur the personal risk which none can
avoid who bring angry Englishmen to bay, in order to destroy a handful
of disheartened invalids and civilians; scarcely numerous enough to
escort their women and children in safety to Allahabad through the
perils of eddies, and quicksands, and bands of highwaymen recruited and
emboldened in those months of general anarchy?

But it came to pass that their heart was hardened, and they would
not let our people go. The ringleaders of the mutiny knew well that
their position was one of utmost hazard. They had been too criminal to
be forgiven, and too successful to be forgotten. Henceforward their
aim was to implicate their comrades beyond the hope of pardon; to
place between them and their former condition of life a gulf filled
with English blood. And when the Nana exhorted his followers to slay
and spare not, he spoke to willing ears; for between them and our
countrymen there existed a degree of mutual distrust which could only
end in mutual extermination. The minds of men were so agitated and
disordered by anger and uneasiness, that the sole chance of life for
either party lay in the utter destruction of the other. Already quarter
was no longer given, and, indeed, could hardly be said to be worth the
asking. A European knew that, if one set of Pandies entertained any
qualms of compassion or gratitude, the next squad who came across him
would infallibly cut his throat; and a sepoy knew that, if his captors
took the trouble to drag him about in their train for a few days, the
magistrate at the first station on the road would have him hung before
the officer in command of the party had emerged from the bath-room.
This was no generous rivalry of national vigour and skill and prowess.
Little of military science was here, and less of military courtesy.
With clenched teeth and bated breath, the Brahmin and the Saxon closed
for the death-grapple; well aware that, when once their fingers were on
each other's throats, one only of the combatants would ever rise from
the trampled sand.

As soon as the Rubicon of insurrection had been passed; as soon as the
gauntlet of sedition had been thrown; the first care of the mutineers
was to get rid of all who had been the witnesses of their guilt, and
who might hereafter be the judges. No sepoy felt secure of his neck and
plunder as long as one solitary Englishman remained on Indian soil; for
our revolted mercenaries shared to the full that strange mixture of
veneration, bewilderment, aversion, and terror, with which our Eastern
subjects still regard that extraordinary people who, in the course of
a single decade, expanded from a handful of clerks and factors to a
galaxy of warriors and proconsuls. It is hardly possible for a man
brought up amidst European scenes and associations to realize the idea
conceived of him and his countrymen by a thoroughbred Hindoo. On the
one hand, the natives must acknowledge our vast superiority in the arts
of war and rule. Our railways, and steamships, and Armstrong guns,
are tangible facts which cannot be slighted. They must be perfectly
alive to the knowledge that we have conquered them, and are governing
them in a more systematic and downright manner than they have ever
been governed before. But, on the other hand, many of our usages must
appear in their eyes most debased and revolting. It is difficult to
imagine the horror with which a punctilious and devout Brahmin cannot
but regard a people who eat the flesh of cow and pig, and drink various
sorts of strong liquors from morning till night. It is at least as hard
for such a man to look up to us as his betters, morally and socially,
as it would be for us to place among the most civilized nations of the
world a population which was in the habit of dining on human flesh, and
intoxicating itself daily with laudanum and salvolatile. The peculiar
qualities which mark the Englishman are peculiarly distasteful to the
Oriental, and are sure to be widely distorted when seen from his point
of view. Our energy and earnestness appear oppressive and importunate
to the languid, voluptuous aristocracy of the East. Our very honesty
seems ostentatious and contemptible to the wily and tortuous Hindoo
mind. That magnificent disregard of _les convenances_, which among
Continental nations is held to be a distinguishing mark of our
countrymen, is inexplicable and hateful to a race who consider external
pomp and reticent solemnity to be the necessary accompaniments of rank,
worth, and power. Add the mysterious awe by which we are shrouded in
the eyes of the native population, which very generally attributes to
magic our uniform success in everything we take in hand, and you will
have some notion of the picture presented to the Brahmin imagination
by an indefatigable, public-spirited, plain-spoken, beer-drinking,
cigar-smoking, tiger-shooting, public servant. We should not be far
wrong if we were content to allow that we are regarded by the natives
of Hindostan as a species of quaint and somewhat objectionable demons,
with a rare aptitude for fighting and administration; foul and degraded
in our habits, though with reference to those habits not to be judged
by the same standard as ordinary men; not altogether malevolent, but
entirely wayward and unaccountable; a race of demi-devils, neither
quite human, nor quite supernatural; not wholly bad, yet far from
perfectly beneficent; who have been settled down in the country
by the will of fate, and seem very much inclined to stay there by
our own. With this impression on his mind the Bengal sepoy desired
with a nervous and morbid anxiety to get quit of the Sahibs by fair
means or foul. He did not care to expose us to unnecessary misery
and humiliation; to torture our men, or to outrage our women. His
sole object was to see the last of us: to get done with us for good
and for ever. Ignorant beyond conception of European geography and
statistics, he had convinced himself that, if once the Anglo-Indians
of every sex and age were killed off, from the Governor General to the
serjeant-major's baby, there did not exist the wherewithal to replace
them. And therefore he said in his heart: "Come, and let us destroy
them together. Let us cut them off from being a nation, that their name
may be no more in remembrance." He conceived that Great Britain had
been drained dry of men to recruit the garrison of our Asiatic empire;
that our home population consisted of nurses and children, of invalids
who had left the East for a while in quest of health, and veterans
who had retired to live at ease on their share of the treasures of
Hindostan. He fancied that the tidings of a general massacre of our
people would render our island a home of helpless mourners: he found
that those tidings changed it into a nest of reckless and pitiless
avengers. He believed our power to be a chimera, and he discovered
it to be a hydra. He learned too late that he had digged a pit for
himself, and had fallen into the ditch which he had made; that his
mischief and his violent dealings had come down upon his own head: that
Englishmen were many, and that, when the occasion served, their feet
too were not slow to shed blood: that our soldiers could kill within
the year more heathen than our missionaries had converted in the course
of a century: that our social science talk about the sacredness of
human life, and our May Meeting talk concerning our duty towards those
benighted souls for whom Christ died, meant that we were to forgive
most of those who had never injured us, plunder none but such as were
worth robbing, and seldom hang an innocent Hindoo if we could catch a
guilty one: that the great principles of mercy and justice and charity
must cease to be eternally true until the injured pride of a mighty
nation had been satisfied, its wrath glutted, and its sway restored.

But though apprehension and dislike had inspired the rebels with a
determination to destroy every English man off the face of the land,
had they no feeling of ruth for the sufferings and the fate of our
women? Never in European warfare has the sword been deliberately
pointed at a female breast; save during those rare seasons, indelible
from memory and inexpiable by national remorse, when, after the mad
carnage of a successful escalade, drunkenness and licence have ruled
the hour. If the Nana knew the valour and strength of our officers too
well to allow him to be merciful, how came it that he did not respect
the weakness of our ladies? No one can rightly read the history of
the mutinies unless he constantly takes into account the wide and
radical difference between the views held by Europeans and Asiatics
with reference to the treatment and position of the weaker sex. We,
who still live among the records and associations of chivalry, horrify
Utilitarians and Positivists by persisting in regarding women as
goddesses. The Hindoos, who allow their sisters and daughters few
or no personal rights,--the Mahomedans, who do not even allow them
souls,--cannot bring themselves to look upon them as better than
playthings. The pride of a Mussulman servant is painfully wounded by a
scolding from the mistress of the house, and he takes every opportunity
of showing his contempt for her by various childish impertinences.
Among the numberless symptoms of our national eccentricity, that which
seems most extraordinary to a native is our submitting to be governed
by a woman. And as a Hindoo fails to appreciate the social standing
of an English lady, so it is to be feared that he gives her little
credit for her domestic virtues. Her free and unrestrained life excites
in his mind the most singular and unjust ideas. To see women walking
in public, driving about in open carriages, dining, and talking, and
dancing with men connected with them neither by blood nor marriage,
never fails to produce upon him a false and unfortunate impression.[1]
And therefore it happened that a sepoy corporal, whose estimate of an
European lady was curiously compounded of contempt, disapprobation,
and misconception, was little adapted to entertain those sentiments of
knightly tenderness and devotion which Petrarch and Cowley have handed
down to us from the days of Bayard and Henry of Navarre. In the eyes of
such a man every Englishwoman was but the mother of an English child,
and every English child was a sucking tyrant. The wolves, with their
mates and whelps, had been hounded into their den, and now or never was
the time to smoke them out, and knock on the head the whole of that
formidable brood. And so, on the first Saturday of that June--these,
bent on a wholesale butchery; those, prepared to play the man for their
dear life, and for lives dearer still,--with widely different hope, but
with equal resolution, on either side of the meagre rampart besiegers
and besieged mustered for the battle.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] In "The Mirror of Indigo," a vernacular drama which has gained for
itself a niche in Indian history, and contributed a rather remarkable
page to the Law Reports of the Calcutta tribunals, the following
passage occurs in a conversation between two native women:--

_Reboti._ Moreover, the wife of the Indigo-planter, in order to make
her husband's case strong, has sent a letter to the Magistrate, since
it is said that the Magistrate hears her words most attentively.

_Aduri._ I saw the lady. She has no shame at all. When the Magistrate
of the district (whose name occasions great terror) goes riding about
through the village, the lady also rides on horseback with him. Riding
about on a horse! Because the aunt of Kezi once laughed before the
elder brother of her husband all people ridiculed her: while this was
the Magistrate of the district.



CHAPTER III.

THE SIEGE.


The intelligence of the revolt speedily travelled over all surrounding
districts, and attracted to the spot the entire available blackguardism
of the neighbourhood. The disloyal and insolvent landholders for thirty
miles about called out their tenantry and retainers, and made the best
of their way to Cawnpore. As when the redoubted Hebrew captain founded
an asylum in the cave of Adullam, so now unto the leaders of the mutiny
gathered themselves every one that was in distress, and every one that
was in debt, and every one that was discontented. Thus immutable is
the constitution of Oriental society:--unchanged by thirty centuries;
unchangeable, perchance, by thirty more. Some chieftains brought two
hundred armed followers; others four hundred. One Rajah came with a
tail of forty score: while Bhowany Sing, whom Nanukchund designates as
"that old and notorious scoundrel," marched into the rebel camp at the
head of twelve hundred matchlock-men. No one seems to have entertained
any doubt as to the final extinction of our sway. The old order of
things had disappeared for ever, and it behoved any feudal leader who
had ambition or necessities to be present and ready to assert himself
ere the new order was definitely established. The Nana was first to
seize the occasion by the forelock. A trusty adherent was sent to
Bithoor with an escort of twenty horse to announce the commencement of
the Mahratta rule. It was a terrible hour for the personal enemies of
him who had assumed the prime authority. As soon as it became known
that their master was in power, the idle ruffians who swarmed in his
palace at once proceeded to gratify his spite and their own wanton
cruelty. They forced the doors of Goordeen, who acted as agent to the
widows of Bajee Rao, the late Peishwa; knocked down his house about
his ears; slew his people; and ended by blowing him from the mouth of
a cannon. They seized the attendants of Chimna Apa, who pulled the
strings of the law-suit brought against the Maharaja by his cousin;
loaded them with chains; and informed them that they were to be put
to death as soon as the captors could find leisure to cut off their
hands and noses. Nanukchund, who had been the leading counsel in the
case, was warned in time of the impending danger. He sent word to his
juniors to provide for their own safety, and himself sought concealment
in an unfurnished house belonging to one of his friends, whence he
observed the progress of the insurrection with a penetration that was
occasionally distorted by present terror and the anticipation of future
advancement.

On the morning of Sunday, the seventh of June, a proclamation in two
languages was issued at Cawnpore from the press of a schoolmaster, and
distributed by his pupils, adjuring all true Hindoos and Mussulmans to
unite in defence of their religions, and rally round the person of the
Nana. Neither Mussulmans nor Hindoos were slow to obey the call. The
residents of the Butcher's Ward forthwith set up the green standard,
and were joined by the dregs of the population. Respectable Mahomedans
at first held aloof; but next day the banner was removed to an open
square, south of the canal, whither a large and influential body of
the faithful repaired to do homage to the symbol of their religion.
Azeezun, the Demoiselle Théroigne of the revolt, appeared on horseback
amidst a group of her admirers, dressed in the uniform of her favoured
regiment, armed with pistols, and decorated with medals. A priest of
high consideration seated himself beneath the flag, rosary in hand,
and endeavoured by prayer and meditation to ascertain whether the
day was propitious for an attack upon the stronghold of the infidel.
His piety, however, was cut short by a round-shot from Lieutenant
Dempster's battery, which sent the assemblage of believers scuttling to
the nearest cover: upon which the holy man bundled together his beads,
tucked up his robes, and made off with a precipitation not altogether
consistent with the doctrine of fatalism.

Meanwhile throughout and around the town were being gathered in the
gleanings of that harvest of murder. A miserable family of the name of
Mackintosh was discovered lurking under a bridge disguised in native
clothes, their faces stained with pitiful want of skill in imitation
of the Hindoo complexion. A road overseer was caught with his wife and
children to the north of the station; and another person employed in
the same department, who had found a temporary refuge beneath the roof
of an individual whom he had formerly obliged with a contract, was now
turned adrift, and taken by the bloodhounds who were scouring the city.
To each and all of these capture was death, instant inexorable. The
Maharaja had despatched a party of sepoys to the residence of Mr Edward
Greenway, a man of considerable property, who had given shelter to an
officer recently cashiered by court-martial. This gentleman now proved
that, in whatever military qualities he might have been deficient,
courage, at least, was not amongst them; for he defended the threshold
of his host until the last cartridge had been expended, and then walked
in among the assailants, and bade them cut his throat: an invitation
to which they eagerly responded. Then they secured Mr. Greenway, his
wife, his sister, and his little ones, and brought them as prisoners
to the Nana; who ordered them into confinement with the expectation of
obtaining a ransom, and the intention of killing them whether or not
the money was forthcoming. He, for one, had no notion of permitting his
avarice to clash with his barbarity.

As the excitement of tracking down and unearthing Englishmen began to
languish on account of the growing scarcity of victims, the mutineers
gradually betook themselves to the more serious business of the siege.
During the whole of Saturday Teeka Sing had been hard at work in the
Arsenal, mounting the great guns, and despatching them successively to
the scene of action. As fast as each piece arrived, it was placed in
position, and manned by a party of volunteers. By noon on Sunday the
cordon of batteries was complete, and our intrenchment was raked by
twenty-four pound shot from every quarter of the compass. Now became
patent to the most inexperienced eye the fatal and irremediable defects
of the site which our general had selected for the fortification. The
Dragoon Hospital was entirely surrounded by large and solid buildings,
at distances varying from three to eight hundred yards: buildings from
which the assailants derived protection at least as effectual as that
afforded to the garrison by their improvised defences. From roof and
window poured a shower of bullets during the hours of daylight, while
after dusk troops of sepoys hovered about within pistol-shot, and made
the night hideous with incessant volleys of musketry. Henceforward,
there was but little sleep for our countrymen.

The annals of warfare contain no episode so painful as the story of
this melancholy conflict. It is a story which needs not comment or
embellishment. Whether related in the inornate language of official
correspondence, or in the childish phraseology of Hindoo evidence, it
moves to tears as surely as the pages in which the greatest of all
historians tells, as only he can tell, the last agony of the Athenian
host in Sicily. The sun never before looked on such a sight as a
crowd of women and children cooped within a small space, and exposed
during twenty days and nights to the concentrated fire of thousands
of muskets and a score of heavy cannon. At first every projectile
which struck the barracks was the signal for heartrending shrieks,
and low wailing more heartrending yet: but, ere long, time and habit
taught them to suffer and to fear in silence. Before the third evening
every window and door had been beaten in. Next went the screens, the
piled-up furniture, and the internal partitions: and soon shell and
ball ranged at will through and through the naked rooms. Some ladies
were slain outright by grape or round-shot. Others were struck down by
bullets. Many were crushed beneath falling brickwork, or mutilated by
the splinters which flew from shattered sash and panel. Happy were they
whose age and sex called them to the front of the battle, and dispensed
them from the spectacle of this passive carnage. Better to hear more
distinctly the crackle of the sepoy musketry, and the groans of wounded
wife and sister more faintly. If die they both must, such was the
thought of more than one husband, it was well that duty bade them die
apart.

Never did men fight with more signal determination against more fearful
odds. Not at Fontenoy, not at Arcot, not at Albuera was British
endurance so stubborn, or British valour so conspicuous. For, while
the besiegers worked their guns under cover, the artillerymen of the
besieged stood erect upon the bare plain. While the besiegers possessed
unbounded store of huge mortars and battering-guns, the besieged had
a few cannon too small for efficacious service in the field. While
disease and the accidents of combat hourly diminished the numbers of
those within, the ranks without were daily swollen by regiments of
recent mutineers and fresh clans of rebels. But circumstances such as
these are best adapted to exhibit the strange humour of the English
warrior. With all that was most dear at their backs, and in front
all that was most hateful, and, in their view, most contemptible,
undaunted and not uncheerful our countrymen bore up the fray. From
the very earliest days of the attack it became apparent that old Sir
Hugh was unequal to the exposure and fatigue involved in the conduct
of the struggle, and in the inspection and re-distribution of the
posts, a labour rendered only too severe by the deadly fire of the
enemy. In such a strait men act as acted those ten thousand Greeks,
whose memory will never fade, when by the banks of far Euphrates their
chief had been slain and their allies scattered to the winds. "Then,"
says Xenophon, "Clearchus took the command, and the rest obeyed; not
as having chosen him by formal election, but because they saw that
he, and he alone, had the temper of a general." The Clearchus of
Cawnpore was Captain Moore, an officer in charge of the invalids of
the thirty-second foot. He was a tall, fair, blue-eyed man, glowing
with animation and easy Irish intrepidity. Wheresoever there was most
pressing risk, and wheresoever there was direst wretchedness, his
presence was seldom long wanting. Under the rampart; at the batteries;
in some out-picket, where men were dropping like pheasants under a
fearful cross-fire; in some corner of the hospital, to a brave heart
more fearful still, where lay the mangled forms of those young and
delicate beings whom war should always spare:--ever and everywhere
was heard his sprightly voice speaking words of encouragement, of
exhortation, of sympathy, and even of courteous gallantry. Wherever
Moore had passed he left men something more courageous, and women
something less unhappy. It is well when such leaders are at hand. It
is ill when they are discovered and promoted too late to undo the evil
that has been already done.

Across the south-western angle of the intrenchment ran a line of
barracks which were still in course of erection. They each measured
some two hundred feet in length, and were constructed of red brick,
which had not as yet received that coat of white plaster that reduces
all Anglo-Indian house decoration to a uniformity of colour diversified
only by the various degrees of age and shabbiness. Of these, the
buildings marked in the plan by the numbers 2, 3, and 4 were in close
proximity to the corner of our fortification, the entire extent
of which they commanded, inasmuch as their walls had been already
completed to an elevation of forty feet. None of the others had been
raised to a height of more than two or three yards from the level of
the ground. The floors had not been laid, nor the bamboo poles removed,
which, rudely spliced together, form the cheap but frail scaffolding
of Hindoo architecture: and the ground both within and without, along
the whole row, was thickly covered with piles of the materials used in
the progress of the works. From the very first the sepoys possessed
the northern half of the range: but they never succeeded in obtaining
a hold on Barrack Number Four, which was defended by a party of civil
engineers, who had been employed upon the East Indian railroad. These
gentlemen, over and above that indigenous aptitude for conflict
common to all Englishmen of the upper classes, had acquired, during
years spent in surveying, a trained sharpness of vision and a correct
judgment of distance which rendered them peculiarly dangerous when
placed behind the sights of an Enfield rifle. For three days these
amateurs baffled every attempt of the enemy: but at the end of that
period the assaults became so fierce and frequent that they were not
sorry to accept the services of a fighting man by profession. And so
there came across to them from the redan Captain Jenkins, a valiant
soldier, foredoomed to a death of anguish extraordinary even at such a
time.

Whether the mutineers were aware of this introduction of the military
element, or whether they already had learned to respect civilian skill
and bravery, from this time forth they desisted from their efforts in
that quarter, and turned their attention to the southernmost of the
unfinished erections, which they proceeded to occupy in great force.
Hereupon Lieutenant Glanville was posted with a small detachment in
the adjoining barrack, which thenceforward was recognised by both
parties as the key of our position. What the farm of Hougoumont was at
Waterloo,--what the sand-bag battery was at Inkerman,--that was Barrack
Number Two in the death-wrestle of Cawnpore. How furious was the
strife,--how desperate the case of the little garrison, may be gathered
from the fact that, though only sixteen in number, they had a surgeon
to themselves, who never lacked ample employment. Glanville came under
his hands, desperately wounded: and the vacancy thus caused was soon
after supplied by Lieutenant Mowbray Thomson of the Fifty-sixth Native
Infantry. This officer did his best to lose a life which destiny seemed
determined to preserve in order that England might know how, in their
exceeding distress, her sons had not been unmindful of her ancient
honour. "My sixteen men," he writes, "consisted in the first instance
of Ensign Henderson of the Fifty-sixth Native Infantry, five or six
of the Madras fusileers, two plate-layers from the railway works, and
some men of the Eighty-fourth Regiment. The first instalment was soon
disabled. The Madras fusileers were armed with the Enfield rifle, and
consequently they had to bear the brunt of the attack. They were all
shot at their posts. Several of the Eighty-fourth also fell: but, in
consequence of the importance of the position, as soon as a loss in my
little corps was reported, Captain Moore sent us over a reinforcement
from the intrenchment. Sometimes a civilian, sometimes a soldier came.
The orders given us were, not to surrender with our lives, and we did
our best to obey them."

Nothing contributed so much to check the spread of the rebellion of
1857 as the individual courage and pugnacity of our countrymen resident
in the East. Civil and military alike, they were all skilled in the
use of weapons, and cool in the presence of personal danger. Such a
habit of body and mind they acquired both for policy and for pleasure.
Every Anglo-Indian is well aware that he is one of an imperial race,
holding its own in the midst of a subject population by dint of
foresight and martial prowess. There were villages of evil reputation
which on the day of assessment the collector preferred to visit on
the back of the steadiest Arab in his stables, with a favourite
hog spear carelessly balanced beside his right stirrup. There were
notorious bits of road where the traveller felt more comfortable if
he heard from time to time the lock of his revolver clanking against
the soda-water bottles in the pocket of his palanquin. Never was there
a better training-school for warfare than the Indian hunting-field.
A man who has heard unmoved above his head the scream of a crippled
elephant;--who behind his trusty Westley Richards has awaited, calm and
collected, the last rush of a wounded tiger;--need not doubt what his
behaviour may be in any possible emergency. He who, like more than one
true sportsman, has hardly crawled away, bloody knife in hand, from
the embrace of a dying bear:--who has kept at bay a forty-inch boar
with the butt of his shivered lance;--will not be at a loss how to meet
the charge of a mutinous trooper. The rebels found to their cost that
the Sahibs, like old stalkers of large game, were seldom foolhardy
and never remiss:--that they were neither fluttered by peril nor
over-excited by success:--that they rarely failed to make the most of
what cover they could get, and still more rarely wasted a cartridge.
Lieutenant Thomson contrived a sort of perch half-way up the wall of
his barrack, in which he stationed a young officer, named Stirling, of
high repute as a marksman, who soon proved that a rebel running home
to his dinner was at least as easy to hit as an ibex bounding down the
crags in a Himalayan valley, or a blue cow dodging in and out amidst
the trunks of an Oude forest.

The whole of this range of buildings not included within our posts was
literally alive with sepoys. They could distinctly be heard scampering
along in troops, like rats behind an antique wainscot, chattering,
yelling, or screaming under the emotion of the moment. From door, and
window, and drain, and loophole they fired away at our stronghold,
accompanying each shot with a taunt, conveying, in Oriental fashion,
a random but painful statement concerning a remote ancestress of the
person addressed. Ever and anon a fanatic, inspired by some vile drug,
would issue forth into the open, brandishing his sword, in order
to indulge himself in a dance of defiance; on all which occasions
Lieutenant Stirling took good care that the performance should not meet
with an encore. When the enemy became more than usually troublesome,
the picket which was most hardly pressed would invite their neighbours
to come over and assist them: and then the combined force of some
thirty bayonets sallied forth to sweep the line of barracks, chasing
the foe before them; killing the boldest and slowest of foot; knocking
on the head such as were drunk or asleep; shooting down those who,
in their anxiety to get a good aim, had ensconced themselves too
high up to be able to climb down on so short a notice; and driving
the rest out, and across the plain: at which point the gunners of
the intrenchment took up the work, and plied the flying multitude
with grape and canister. During one of the earliest of these sorties
eleven mutineers were captured, and brought into the intrenchment. As
no sentry could just then be spared from the front, they were placed
under the charge of Bridget Widdowson, a stalwart dame, wife of a
private of the Thirty-second Regiment. Secured by the very insufficient
contrivance of a single rope, passed from wrist to wrist, they sat
quietly on the ground like good school-children, while the matron
walked up and down in front of the row, drawn sword in hand. After
she had been relieved by a warder of the other sex, they all managed
to slip off: and from that time forward it was generally understood
that prisoners were to be left on the spot where they had been caught,
with the jackal and the vulture as their jailers. A captive, as long
as he remained in custody, was a consumer of precious food; and at
once became the most dangerous of spies, if he succeeded in making his
escape to the rebel lines with a report of our destitute condition.

On Friday, the twelfth, the insurgents made their first general assault
upon our position. The cavalry, who on that day had been the first
in the career of sedition, were now with some difficulty prevailed
upon to dismount and lead the way to glory; but after the loss of two
of their number they concluded that enough had been done to sustain
the credit of their branch of the service, and retired to console
themselves for their repulse in the opium shops of the suburbs. The
sepoy infantry next advanced to try their fortune, followed by all the
rabble of the bazaars. They came on like men, but they went where there
were men likewise. It was not thus that our rampart might be won. Every
English soldier had ready to his hand from three to ten muskets loaded
with ball and slug: for there was a plentiful stock of small-arms
within the fortification. The civilian held his thumb pressed tight
upon the hammer of a pet smoothbore, with a charge of Number Four
shot for close quarters snugly packed in the left-hand barrel. The
officer in command of the battery was feeling for the leaden tip in
each chamber of his revolver, as he gave his final order to take time
and aim below the cross-belts. Our people were composed and confident.
Sending quiet shots from behind a wall into the middle of a crowd
was child's play compared with the daylong hazard of the crashing
cannonade. After a short but bitter engagement the assailants withdrew,
leaving on the field many of their comrades. Profiting by this harsh
lesson they returned henceforward to their old tactics, and applied
themselves to pound out the life of our garrison by an unremitting
storm of ball, and bomb, and bullet.

Few, and ever fewer, in number; overmatched in weight of metal;
ill-provided with ammunition, and protected by not an inch of cover,
our artillerymen still sustained the hot debate. Lieutenant Ashe
went through his work with a display of professional interest that
would not have disgraced Sir William Armstrong during a trial match at
Shoeburyness. After each round the besiegers saw with astonishment the
zealous young Sahib leap on the heel of the discharged gun, spy-glass
in hand, heedless of the missiles which were chirping round his ears.
Unfortunately eight out of our ten pieces were nine-pounders, and
the supply of nine-pound balls was soon expended. Reduced to load
with shot a size too small, our officers could not secure accuracy in
their practice. The gunners in our south-eastern battery had suffered
much from a small piece which the sepoys had contrived to hoist into
position amidst the _débris_ of one among the half-built barracks.
Lieutenant Delafosse, after despatching a number of six-pound balls
in the direction of the embrasure without any perceptible result, at
length resolved to bring the matter to a conclusion in one way or
another. He rammed down three cannon-balls, filled up the chinks with
grape, bade his men stand back, and fired off this portentous charge.
To his surprise and delight his own gun did not burst, and nothing more
was ever heard of the tiresome little antagonist. The same officer,
somewhat later in the siege, was in the north-eastern battery when the
carriage of a cannon was ignited by an unlucky accident. The situation
was most critical, for the woodwork, which had stood beneath the
June sun until it was dry as tinder, blazed furiously, and there was
imminent risk of a general explosion of all the powder in the battery.
The rebels discerned the opportunity, and concentrated their fire upon
the spot where Delafosse, stretched at length on his back beneath the
gun, was pulling down the burning splinters and scattering earth upon
the flames. By the aid of two private soldiers he extinguished the
conflagration, though eighteen pound and twenty-four pound shot were
flying past at the rate of six a minute. With such examples before
them, people of no class or calling were behindhand in acts of daring
when the common safety was at stake. One Jacobi, a coachmaker by trade,
and, to judge from his appellation, a person of mixed parentage,
descried on the roof of the magazine a fire-ball, which he mistook for
a live shell. Under this impression he clambered up, secured the object
of his apprehension, and heaved it over the breastwork with a sigh of
relief. There was many a Cross of Victoria earned in that camp, where
victory was not, nor any reasonable chance of victory.

But the contest was too unequal to last long. By the end of the first
week our fifty-nine artillerymen had all been killed or wounded at
their posts. Of the officers to whom the charge of the guns had
originally been entrusted, few had escaped unhurt from the hail of
lead and iron, or the hardly less deadly rays of the Indian noon.
Sunstroke had killed Major Prout. Captain Kempland was stretched on
the floor of the barrack, dazed and powerless. His next in command,
Lieutenant Eckford, a soldier of high promise and an accomplished
gentleman, while snatching half an hour's repose under the roof of
the verandah, was struck full on the heart by a cannon-ball. In the
west quarter Dempster had been shot dead, and from the same battery
Martin had been carried into the hospital with a bullet in his lungs.
For a while volunteers endeavoured to supply the place of the trained
gunners; and all was done that could be expected from bandsmen, and
opium agents, and telegraph clerks firing six-pound balls out of
damaged nine-pounders, while exposed without protection to a murderous
discharge from siege guns and heavy mortars. There could be only one
termination to such a business. Our only howitzer was knocked clean
off its carriage. One cannon lost the entire muzzle. Some had their
sides beaten in, some their vents blown out. At length our park of
artillery was reduced to a couple of pieces, which were withdrawn under
cover, loaded with grape, and reserved for the purpose of repelling
an assault. And even of these the bore had been injured to such an
extent that the canister could not be driven home. Our poor ladies,
accordingly, in rivalry of those somewhat apocryphal Carthaginian dames
who twisted their hair into bowstrings, gave up their stockings to
supply the case for a novel but not unserviceable cartridge. Since the
days when the shopmen of Londonderry loaded their quaint old ordnance
with brick-bats wrapped in strips of gutter-piping, necessity has,
perhaps, never been brought to bed with a more singular offspring.

As our reply waned more faint and ever fainter, the fire of the enemy
continued to augment in volume, in rapidity, and in precision. The list
of individual casualties mounted up in increasing ratio, and before
long our misfortunes culminated in a wholesale disaster. Grave fears
had been entertained for the security of the thatched barrack by every
man who had the common sense to see that fire would burn straw. There
were found some who, with admirable self-devotion, had scrambled on
to that lead-bespattered slope, and essayed to cover with tiles and
rubbish the inflammable material of the roof. On the eighth evening of
the bombardment a lighted carcase settled among the rafters, and the
whole building was speedily in a blaze. It happened most unfortunately
that this barrack, as affording the better shelter and the less
confined space, had been selected for the accommodation of our wounded
and our sick. No effort was spared, no hazard shunned to rescue those
who could not help themselves: but in spite of everything which could
be tried two brave men perished a little sooner than their fellows, and
by a rather more distressing fate. That was indeed a night of horror.
The roar of the flames, lost every ten seconds in the peal of the rebel
artillery; the whistle of the great shot; the shrieks of the sufferers,
who forgot their pain in the helpless anticipation of a sudden and
agonizing death; the groups of crying women and children huddled
together in the ditch; the stream of men running to and fro between the
houses, laden with sacks of provisions, and kegs of ammunition, and
private property of value, and living burdens more precious still; the
guards crouching silent and watchful, finger on trigger, each at his
station along the external wall; the forms of countless foes, revealed
now and again by the fitful glare, prowling around through the outer
gloom;--these sights and sounds combined to form a scene and a chorus
which will be ever memorable to the trio of actors who lived through
the catastrophe of that awful drama.

Captain Moore thought it well to give the enemy an early and convincing
proof that the spirit of our people was not broken by this great
calamity. At the dead of the ensuing night he stole out from the
intrenchment with fifty picked men at his heels in the direction of
the chapel and the racket-court. Beginning from this point, the party
hurried down the rebel lines under favour of the darkness, doing
whatever rapid mischief was practicable. They surprised in untimely
slumber some native gunners, who never waked again; spiked and rolled
over several twenty-four pounders; gratified their feelings by blowing
up a piece which had given them especial annoyance; and got back,
carrying in their arms four of their number, and leaving another
behind:--a service brilliant indeed, but barren of results: for the
sepoys had only to resolve on the calibre that they preferred, and the
number of canon which they could conveniently work, and then take at
will from the arsenal so inconsiderately placed at their disposal. This
chivalrous act, one among many such, at that time passed without reward
or public approval. When in a water-logged vessel men are toiling for
their lives, who observes whether his neighbour does more or less
at the pumps than he, provided all do their utmost? And when they
have betaken themselves to the boats, and are rowing against time and
famine, who cares which of the crew feathers most neatly, and which
reaches forward with the straightest back? This was no set duel of
civilized nations: no stately tournament, wherein the champions fight
beneath the eyes of a friendly people, ready with their praise and
sympathy; where wounds are bandaged with a ribbon, and self-sacrifice
entitles the hero to a corner in our modern Walhalla, the columns of
the daily press. Rare were those who here had leisure or heart to take
note, and they who survived to make report were rarer still. As during
the ages before Atrides came on earth countless chieftains, unwept,
unknown, sank into eternal oblivion because they lacked a sacred bard:
so at Cawnpore many a soldier brave as Hodson of Hodson's Horse, nobly
prodigal of himself as William Peel of the Shannon, dared, and fell,
and was forgotten for want of a special correspondent. Correspondence
there was, containing much earnest entreaty for a rescue and some
unconscious eloquence; but too important matter had to be compressed
into too small a compass to admit of panegyric or recommendation for
honours and advancement. Several urgent missives found their way
to Lucknow, rolled tightly into quills, sealed up, and hidden with
mysterious art in and about the person of Hindoo messengers;--so
curiously stowed away that in some cases it took almost as long to
produce as to convey the note: though, if the rebels chanced to
intercept the despatch, they generally abridged the operation by
cutting in pieces the ill-starred courier. On the middle day of June
the Lucknow surgeons extracted the following lines from the nose or
ear of a native who had been fortunate and adroit enough to elude the
manifold perils which beset those forty miles of road:--

  "_From Sir H. M. Wheeler, K.C.B. to Martin Gubbins, Esq._

  "My dear Gubbins,

  "We have been besieged since the sixth by the Nana Sahib, joined by
  the whole of the native troops, who broke out on the morning of the
  fourth. The enemy have two 24-pounders, and several other guns. We
  have only eight 9-pounders. The whole Christian population is with
  us in a temporary intrenchment, and our defence has been noble and
  wonderful, our loss heavy and cruel. We want aid, aid, aid! Regards
  to Lawrence.

  "Yours, &c.
  H. M. Wheeler.

  "14th June.
  Quarter-past 8, P.M.

  "P.S.--If we had 200 men we could punish the scoundrels and aid you."

The nature of the reply may be gathered from an acknowledgment which it
elicited from Captain Moore. The anniversary seems to have inspired his
pen. Brief and manly, cheerful and yet thoughtful, it is such a letter
as an English officer should write on the eighteenth of June.

  "_From Captain Moore, H.M. 32d Foot._
  "_18th June_, 10, P.M.

  "Sir,

  "By desire of Sir Hugh Wheeler, I have the honour to acknowledge
  your letter of the 16th.

  "Sir Hugh regrets you cannot send him the 200 men, as he believes
  with their assistance we could drive the insurgents from Cawnpore,
  and capture their guns.

  "Our troops, officers, and volunteers have acted most nobly, and
  on several occasions a handful of men have driven hundreds before
  them. Our loss has been chiefly from the sun, and their heavy
  guns. Our rations will last a fortnight, and we are still well
  supplied with ammunition. Our guns are serviceable. Report says
  that troops are advancing from Allahabad, and any assistance might
  save our garrison. We, of course, are prepared to hold out to the
  last. It is needless to mention the names of those who have been
  killed, or died. We trust in God, and if our exertions here assist
  your safety, it will be a consolation to know that our friends
  appreciate our devotion. Any news of relief will cheer us.

  "Yours, &c.
  "J. Moore, Captain,
  "32d Regiment.

  "By order."

And now commenced to our brethren and sisters a period of unspeakable
woe; the ante-chamber of ruin; the penultimate syllable of their dismal
story. After the destruction of the thatched barrack, dearth of
house-room forced two hundred of our women and children to spend twelve
days of twice twelve hours without ceiling over head or flooring under
foot. At night they lay on the bare ground, exposed to every noxious
influence and exhalation that was abroad in the air; and in the morning
they rose, those among them who rose at all, to endure, bareheaded
often, and always roofless, the blazing fury of the tropical beams.
The men off guard attempted to contrive for them a partial protection,
by stretching canvas screens across a framework of muskets and poles;
but these canopies were soon fired by the rebel shells, and the poor
creatures were reduced to cower beneath the shelter of our earthwork,
feebly chasing the shadow thrown by the sun as he rose and set. It is
impossible for a home-staying Englishman to realize the true character
of the great troubles in 1857, unless he constantly bears in mind that
all which he reads was devised, and done, and endured beneath the
vertical rays of an Eastern summer, and in a temperature varying from a
hundred and twenty to a hundred and thirty-eight degrees in the shade.
If there are any whose experience of heat is limited to a field-day at
Wimbledon in the month of August, or to a tramp over Norfolk stubbles
when the dogs are too thirsty to work, and the boy has carried off the
beer to the wrong spinney, they will obtain a more just notion from a
sad tale simply told than from pages of unscientific rhetoric.

This is what befell Mrs. M----, the wife of the surgeon at a certain
station on the southern confines of the insurrection. "I heard," she
says, "a number of shots fired, and, looking out, I saw my husband
driving furiously from the mess-house, waving his wip. I ran to him,
and, seeing a bearer with my child in his arms, I caught her up,
and got into the buggy. At the mess-house we found all the officers
assembled, together with sixty sepoys, who had remained faithful. We
went off in one large party, amidst a general conflagration of our late
homes. We reached the caravanserai at Chattapore the next morning, and
thence started for Callinger. At this point our sepoy escort deserted
us. We were fired upon by matchlock-men, and one officer was shot
dead. We heard, likewise, that the people had risen at Callinger, so
we returned, and walked back ten miles that day. M---- and I carried
the child alternately. Presently Mrs. Smalley died of sunstroke. We had
no food amongst us. An officer kindly lent us a horse. We were very
faint. The major died, and was buried; also the serjeant-major, and
some women. The bandsmen left us on the nineteenth of June. We were
fired at again by matchlock-men, and changed direction for Allahabad.
Our party consisted of nine gentlemen, two children, the serjeant, and
his wife. On the morning of the twentieth, Captain Scott took Lottie on
to his horse. I was riding behind my husband, and she was so crushed
between us. She was two years old on the first of the month. We were
both weak through want of food and the effect of the sun. Lottie and I
had no head-covering. M---- had a sepoy's cap I found on the ground.
Soon after sunrise we were followed by villagers armed with clubs
and spears. One of them struck Captain Scott's horse on the leg. He
galloped off with Lottie, and my poor husband never saw his child
again. We rode on several miles, keeping away from villages, and then
crossed the river. Our thirst was extreme. M---- had dreadful cramps,
so that I had to hold him on the horse. I was very uneasy about him.
The day before I saw the drummer's wife eating chupatties, and asked
her to give a piece to the child, which she did. I now saw water in a
ravine. The descent was steep and our only drinking-vessel was M----'s
cap. Our horse got water, and I bathed my neck. I had no stockings,
and my feet were torn and blistered. Two peasant's came in sight, and
we were frightened, and rode off. The serjeant held our horse, and
M---- put me up and mounted. I think he must have got suddenly faint,
for I fell, and he over me, on the road, when the horse started off.
Some time before he said, and Barber, too, that he could not live many
hours. I felt he was dying before we came to the ravine. He told me his
wishes about his children and myself, and took leave. My brain seemed
burnt up. No tears came. As soon as we fell, the serjeant let go the
horse, and it went off; so, that escape was cut off. We sat down on the
ground waiting for death. Poor fellow! he was very weak; his thirst
was frightful, and I went to get him water. Some villagers came, and
took my rupees and watch. I took off my wedding-ring, and twisted it in
my hair, and replaced the guard. I tore off the skirt of my dress to
bring water in, but it was no use, for when I returned, my beloved's
eyes were fixed, and, though I called, and tried to restore him, and
poured water into his mouth, it only rattled in his throat. He never
spoke to me again. I held him in my arms till he sank gradually down.
I felt frantic, but could not cry. I was alone. I bound his head and
face in my dress, for there was no earth to bury him. The pain in my
hands and feet was dreadful. I went down to the ravine, and sat in the
water on a stone, hoping to get off at night, and look for Lottie. When
I came back from the water, I saw that they had not taken her little
watch, chain, and seals, so I tied them under my petticoat. In an hour,
about thirty villagers came. They dragged me out of the ravine, and
took off my jacket, and found the little chain. They then dragged me to
a village, mocking me all the way, and wondering whom I was to belong
to. The whole population came to look at me. I asked for a bedstead,
and lay down outside the door of a hut. They had dozens of cows, and
yet refused me milk. When night came, and the village was quiet, some
old woman brought me a leaf-full of rice. I was too parched to eat,
and they gave me water. The morning after, a neighbouring Rajah sent a
palanquin and a horseman to fetch me, who told me that a little child
and three sahibs had come to his master's house." And so the mother
found her lost one, "greatly blistered," poor little darling. It is not
for Europeans in India to pray that their flight be not in the winter.

These women had spent their girlhood in the pleasant watering-places
and country homes of our island, surrounded by all of English comfort
and refinement that Eastern wealth could buy. Their later years had
slipped away amidst the secure plenty and languid ease of an European
household in India. In spacious saloons, alive with swinging punkahs;
where closed and darkened windows excluded the heated atmosphere, and
produced a counterfeit night, while through a mat of wetted grass
poured a stream of artificial air; with piles of ice, and troops of
servants, and the magazines of the preceding month, and the sensation
novels of the preceding season, monotonous, but not ungrateful, the
even days flew by. Early married life has in Bengal peculiar charms.
Settled down in some out-station, with no society save that of a
casual road-surveyor or a distant planter, the world forgetting, and
by the world remembered only at such times as there is talk concerning
the chances of official promotion, the young pair have full leisure
and a fair plea for indulging in that delicious habit of mutual
selfishness which changes existence into a perpetual honeymoon, until
that sorrowful epoch, when the children are too old to be kept any
longer in the enervating climate of Hindostan; when the period arrives
for writing to mothers-in-law, and sisters, and London bankers, and
Brighton schoolmasters; when even the pale pet of four years old, who
still answers to the name of baby, must go home at the beginning of
next cold season, and ought to have gone before the end of last. Then
begin the troubles of an Anglo-Indian family.

But though such ladies are often destined to endure the wearing anxiety
of an unnatural separation, they never know what it is to experience
a moment of physical privation. The services of menials, who make up
by their number and obsequiousness what they lack in energy,--the
unwearied attention of an affectionate partner and friend shield them
from distress and excuse them from exertion. To have slept four in a
cabin on board an outward-bound steamer,--to have passed a night in a
palanquin, or a day at a posting-house where there was no tea, and only
milk enough for the little ones;--had hitherto appeared to the Cawnpore
ladies the last conceivable extremity of destitution and discomfort.
Now, the Red Sea in July would have been to them an Elysium, and a
luncheon on Peninsular and Oriental ale and cheese a priceless banquet.
By a sudden turn of fortune they had been placed beneath the heel of
those beings whom they had ever regarded with that unconscious aversion
and contempt of race which is never so intense as in a female breast.
Those who were to them most dear and trusted were absent from their
side, save when a not unkindly bullet released the husband from his
post, and restored him to the wife, if but to die. Accustomed to those
frequent ablutions which, in England at least a duty, are in India a
necessity, they had not a single spongeful of water for washing from
the commencement to the close of the siege. They who, from childhood
upwards, in the comprehensive and pretty phrase which ladies love, "had
had everything nice about them," were now herded together in fetid
misery, where delicacy and modesty were hourly shocked, though never
for a moment impaired. Unshod, unkempt, ragged and squalid, haggard
and emaciated, parched with drought and faint with hunger, they sat
waiting to hear that they were widows. Each morning deepened the
hollow in the youngest cheek, and added a new furrow to the fairest
brow. Want, exposure, and depression, speedily decimated that hapless
company. In those regions, a hideous train of diseases stand always
within call: fever, and apoplexy, and the fell scourge of cholera,
and dysentery, plague more ghastly still. It was of fever that Miss
Brightman died, worn out with nursing a boy who had been shot through
his first red coat. Sir George Parker, the cantonment magistrate,
complained of sickness and headache, accompanied by a sensation of
drowsiness and oppression, which gradually deepened into insensibility,
and thence into death. Such, too, was the fate of Colonel Williams of
the Fifty-sixth Native Infantry, and of the Rev. Joseph Rooney, the
Catholic priest, in spite of the devoted care of the Irish soldiery.
The horrors which all shared and witnessed overset the balance of more
than one highly-wrought organization. A missionary of the Propagation
Society, as each day drew in, would bring his aged mother into the
verandah for a breath of the evening. At length a musket-ball, shot, we
may hope, at a venture, struck down the poor old lady with a painful
wound. Her sufferings affected the reason of her son, and he died a
raving maniac. Woe was it in those days unto them that were with child.
There were infants born during the terrible three weeks;--infants
who had no future. There were women who underwent more than all the
anguish of maternity, with less than none of the hope and joy. The
medical stores had all been destroyed in the conflagration. There
remained no drugs, and cordials, and opiates; no surgical instruments
and appliances to cure, to alleviate, or to deaden. Perhaps it was as
well that the absence of saws and tourniquets rendered impracticable
the more critical operations: for here, as at Lucknow, it was found
that, during the months of an Indian summer, within the circuit of a
beleagured fortification the consequences of amputation were invariably
fatal. Science could not regret that she was powerless, when her most
successful effort would hardly have prolonged an agony.

But, besides the Nana, another foe, ruthless and pertinacious as he,
had broken ground in front of our bulwarks. If our people had eaten as
freely as they had fought, their provisions would have been consumed
within the ten days: and human abstinence and endurance could not eke
out the slender stock beyond the limit of some three weeks. Already
the tins of preserved meats were empty, and the meal had fallen low in
the casks; and many barrels had been tapped by the enemy's shot, and
the rest were ominously light. The store of luxuries contributed from
the regimental mess-rooms had been shared by all ranks alike. A noble
equality and fraternity reigned through the little republic.

During that year our countrymen in India often debated, in a spirit by
no means of idle speculation, whether a member of a blockaded force
had a right to reserve food and drink for the exclusive support of
himself, his family, and his intimate associates. That period was
fruitful in questions of novel and momentous sophistry: questions to
be found in no closet compilation of Ethics and Dialectics. Would a
man be justified in shooting his wife if it was evident that she would
otherwise fall alive into the power of the mutineers? Would a European
flying for his life be guilty of murder if he blew out the brains of
an innocent villager who had unwittingly viewed him as he broke cover,
and who might therefore give information to the pursuers of blood?
Morally guilty, that is to say: for it is difficult to conceive the
circumstances under which a European would have been found legally
guilty of the murder of a native during the year 1857. Might a colonel
call out his men, and then mow them down with grape if it was certain
that the regiment was on the eve of a revolt? Might he if it was almost
certain? If it was most likely? If it was barely possible? These points
were raised and determined off hand by stern casuists, who, with a
thrust or a shot, broke off the horns of a dilemma which would have
sorely tried the subtlety of a Whately.

Theories differed as to the lawfulness of a private store in time of
siege: but the defenders of Cawnpore were right in their practice. For
in the last extremity of war his own life is not more important to an
individual than the life of his neighbour. A community of warriors
striving by a fair and equitable division to extract from their hoard
of victual all the collective material of strength and valour which
it may contain, presents surely an aspect more philosophical, as well
as more elevated, than an association of selfish and suspicious men,
comrades only in name, resembling nothing so much as jurymen vying to
starve each other out by help of concentrated meat lozenges. During the
first few days the private soldiers fared sparingly, but, for them,
poor fellows, delicately enough. "Here might be seen one," says Captain
Thomson, "trudging away from the main-guard laden with a bottle of
champagne, a tin of preserved herrings, and a pot of jam for his mess
allowance. There would be another with salmon, rum, and sweetmeats
for his inheritance." But very soon the dainties came to an end, and
the allowance was scantier than ever. It was a favourite saying among
the generation of military men, who in Europe kept unwilling holiday
between the day of Waterloo and the day of Alma, that an Englishman
fights best when he is full, and an Irishman when he is drunk. And yet
nowhere in the chronicles of our army does there exist the record of
doughtier deeds than were done in the June of '57 by Englishmen whose
daily sustenance was a short gill of flour, and a short handful of
split peas; by Irishmen who had no stimulant save their own bravery
and a rare sip of putrid water.

Numerous attempts were made by friends without to mend the fare of the
garrison, which were for the most part defeated by the vigilance of the
sepoys. A baker of the town, who had been footman in an Anglo-Indian
family, was detected smuggling a basket of bread into the intrenchment.
The culprit perhaps fondly imagined that Azimoolah would have had
mercy upon him in consideration of their common antecedents; but, if
he entertained such an expectation, he was doomed to disappointment.
Much credit is due to Zuhooree, an official in the Department of
Abkaree, a mysterious branch of the Revenue, the periodical occurrence
of which in the Indian budget has vexed the souls of a succession of
English financiers. This person put himself into communication with
Major Larkins of the Artillery, and sent into the fortification, as
opportunity served, most acceptable parcels of bread and eggs, with
occasional bottles of milk and liquid butter. At length, on the night
of the fourteenth of June, fifteen of his emissaries, among whom were
two women, were caught as they endeavoured to glide through the cordon
of sentries under cover of the flurry and consternation of our sortie.
They were all blown from guns, but not before the captors had elicited
from them the name of their employer. It was high time for Zuhooree
to look to his safety. Already his family had been imprisoned and
maltreated on an unfounded charge of Christianity, and the rebel camp
was a dangerous stage on which to play the part of good Obadiah. He
accordingly left by stealth for Allahabad, bearing with him a letter of
commendation from Major Larkins, attested by a gold ring set with five
diamonds, which belonged to the wife of that officer.

Our people did what they could to help themselves. A fat bull, sacred
to Brahma, finding nothing to eat in the streets, inasmuch as the
corn-dealers had closed their booths for fear of the sepoys, came
grazing along the plain until he arrived within range of our profane
rifles. To shoot down this pampered monster, the fakeer of the animal
world,[2] was no considerable feat for marksmen who could hit a black
buck running at a distance of a hundred and fifty paces. The difficulty
consisted in the retrieving of the game, which lay full three hundred
yards from our rampart, on a plain swept by the fire of the insurgents.
Inside our place, however, courage was more plentiful than beef; and
eight or ten volunteers professed themselves ready to follow Captain
Moore, who was first at any feast which partook of the nature of a
fray. The party provided themselves with a stout rope, which they
fastened round the legs and horns of the beast, and dragged home their
prize amidst a storm of cheers and bullets, alive but not unscathed.

In the banquet which ensued the defenders of the outposts had no part.
On the other hand, they sometimes enjoyed luxuries of their own. A
pariah dog, seduced by blandishments never before lavished upon one of
his despised race, was tempted within the walls and thence into the
camp-kettle of Barrack Number Two. Towards that building, as towards
the lion's den in the fable, pointed the footsteps of every kind of
quadruped, and from it none. An aged horse, whose younger days had been
spent in the ranks of the Irregular Cavalry, was killed, roasted, and
eaten up in two meals by the combined pickets. The head was converted
into soup, and sent into the intrenchment for the use of some favoured
ladies; no explanations being offered or demanded concerning the nature
of the stock. Captain Halliday, of the Fifty-ninth Native Infantry, who
had come across on a morning visit, begged a portion for his poor wife,
who was lying in the hospital, sick unto death of the small-pox. On his
way back, walking, it may be, too slowly for security through dread of
spilling one precious drop, he fell never to rise again. In the midst
of every action and every movement, during the hours of labour and the
minutes of refreshment, unlooked for and unavoidable the mortal stroke
descended.

For by day and night the fire never ceased. The round shot crashed and
spun through the windows, raked the earthwork, and skipped about the
open ground in every corner of our position. The bullets cut the air,
and pattered on the wall like hail. The great shells rolled hissing
along the floors and down the trenches, and, bursting, spread around
them a circle of wrack, and mutilation, and promiscuous destruction. In
their blind and merciless career those iron messengers spared neither
old nor young, nor combatants nor sufferers, but flew ever onwards,
inflicting superfluous wounds and unavailing destruction. A single bomb
killed or maimed seven married women, who were seated in the ditch;
killed Jacobi, a watchmaker, namesake of the intrepid coachwright;
killed too the cashiered officer whose drunken freak had done something
to accelerate the outbreak. There were those who endured in one day a
double or a treble bereavement; while in some families none remained
to mourn. Colonel Williams died of apoplexy, and his wife, disfigured
and tortured by a frightful hurt in the face, would fain have rejoined
her husband. On the fifteenth of June Miss Mary Williams was stunned
by a fall of the ceiling, and expired in the arms of a wounded sister,
unconscious of her loving care. Two daughters survived--for a while.
Mistress White was walking with a twin child at either shoulder, and
her good man, a private of the Thirty-second, by her side. The same
ball slew the father, broke both elbows of the mother, and severely
injured one of the orphans. Captain Reynolds lost an arm and his life
by a cannon-shot; and Mrs. Reynolds, whose wrist had been pierced by
a musket ball, sank under fever and sorrow. A half-caste tradesman
and his daughter, crouching behind an empty barrel, too late and
together discovered that their shelter was inadequate. A son of Sir
Hugh was reclining on a sofa, faint with recent loss of blood;--one
sister at his feet, and another, with both his parents, busied about
his wants in different parts of the room;--when an uninvited and a
fatal guest entered the doorway, and left the lad a headless corpse.
No less than three subalterns attached to the same regiment as young
Wheeler lost their heads within the redan. Lieutenant Jervis of the
Engineers was walking to his battery through a shower of lead, with a
gait of calm grandeur, as if he were pacing the Eden Garden beneath
the eye-glasses of Calcutta beauty. In vain his comrades raised their
wonted shout of "Run, Jervis! Run!" He never returned to head-quarters.
He never reached his post. A grape-shot passed through the body of Mr.
Heberden, as he was handing some water to a lady. This gentleman, the
most undaunted and unaffected of the brave and simple men of science
employed upon the East Indian railroad, lay on his face for a whole
week without a murmur or a sigh, but not, we may well believe, without
a tacit prayer for the relief which came at last. Mr. Hillersdon,
the magistrate of the station, was dashed in pieces by a twenty-four
pound ball, while talking in the verandah to his wife, weak from an
unseasonable confinement. A few days elapsed, and a shot, less cruel
than some, displaced an avalanche of bricks which put an end to her
short widowhood. But poverty of language does not permit to continue
the list of horrors. In such a catalogue the synonyms of death are soon
exhausted, and give place to a grim tautology.

"The frequency of our casualties," writes Captain Thomson, "may be
understood by the history of one hour. Lieutenant Prole had come to
the main-guard to see Armstrong, the adjutant of the Fifty-third
Native Infantry, who was unwell. While engaged in conversation with
the invalid, Prole was struck by a musket-ball in the thigh, and fell
to the ground. I put his arm upon my shoulder, and holding him round
the waist, endeavoured to hobble across the open to the barrack, in
order that he might obtain the attention of the surgeons there. While
thus employed a ball hit me under the right shoulder-blade, and we
fell to the ground together, and were picked up by some privates,
who dragged us both back to the main-guard. While I was lying on the
ground, wofully sick from the wound, Gilbert Bax, of the Forty-eighth
Native Infantry, came to condole with me, when a bullet pierced
his shoulder-blade, causing a wound from which he died before the
termination of the siege."

The youngest were the least to be pitied. In such a plight, ignorance
of happier days was indeed bliss:--ignorance that there was a fair
world without, where people laughed merrily, and slept soundly, and
lived in the anticipations of enjoyment, not in the terrors of death.
To the small children the present was very weary; but, reasoning in
their way, they concluded that that present could not last much longer.
It must come to an end like the tiresome journey up the great river,
when the barge stuck fast in the mud, and mamma cried, and papa called
the boatman by that Hindoostanee name which they themselves were always
whipped for using. The restraint of our protracted incarceration was to
them intolerably irksome. There was neither milk, nor pudding, nor jam,
nor mangoes, nor any one to cuddle them, or sing to them, or listen to
their romances, and their wishes, and their grievances. The gentleman
who once was most kind to them would now come home from shooting all
black, and grimy, and with a rough beard, and would stand at the table
and eat quickly, and then run out again without taking any notice
of them: and some day or other he would be carried in on a shutter,
looking so pale and weak: and some day, perhaps, he never came back
at all. When they asked a lady to scold the servants for getting them
such a nasty breakfast, she only kissed them, and sobbed, and called
them poor darlings. They sorely missed the fond and patient bearer,
that willing playmate and much-enduring slave, whom Mrs. Sherwood's
charming tale has rendered a household word in English schoolrooms.
Left to their own tiny discretions, the dear creatures, unconscious of
danger, would toddle out of the crowded barrack, and betake themselves
to some primitive game which demanded no very elaborate provision of
toys. What was it to them that every half minute a big black ball came
hopping along amidst puffs of dust, or that little things which they
could not see flew about humming louder than cock-chafers or bumble
bees? With unexampled barbarity the sepoy sharpshooters forbore to
respect these innocent groups. The peril, which some incurred through
inexperience, was sought by others under the pressure of despondency.
One unhappy woman, unable to support the burden of her existence, ran
out from the shelter of the walls leading in each hand a child, and
was dragged back, despite of herself, by a private soldier, who freely
risked his life to preserve that which she was bent on losing. Not a
few native domestics refused to desert their employers. Over-worked and
under-thanked, with short-commons, and, if captured by the mutineers,
a shorter shrift, they stayed on, not for the sake of their pittance
of wages, but actuated solely by the ties of duty, gratitude, and
attachment. Most of them were soon dismissed from service, for no
fault, and with no warning. Three were killed by the explosion of a
shell. Another was shot through the head as he was hurrying to the
outposts intent upon serving his master's dinner before it had time to
cool. An ayah, while dandling an infant, lost both her legs by the blow
of a cannon-ball. That was in truth a dismal nursery.

Want of water was a constant and growing evil. At the best, a single
well would have furnished a pitiably insufficient supply for a thousand
mouths during an Indian June: and that well was from the first the
favourite target of the hostile artillerymen. Guns were trained on to
the exact spot; so that the appearance of a man with a pitcher by day,
and by night the creaking of the tackle, was the signal for a shower
of grape. The framework of beam and brick which protected the drawers
was soon shot away. The machinery went next, and the buckets were
thenceforward hauled up hand over hand from a depth of more than sixty
feet. The Hindoo water-carriers were slain early in the siege, and
their place was supplied by English soldiers, who nominally were paid
at the rate of five rupees for every pail: though the brave fellows
knew that, when a few days had gone by, it would matter little in
whose hands the silver might happen to lie. That water was purchased
with blood and not with money. John Mackillop, of the Civil Service,
veiling devotion under a jocose pretence of self-depreciation, told
his friends that, though no fighting man, he was willing to make
himself useful where he could, and accordingly claimed to be appointed
Captain of the Well. His tenure of the office was prolonged beyond his
own expectation. It was not till a week had passed that he was laid
dying on a bed in the hospital with a grape-shot in the groin. His
last words expressed a desire that the lady to whom he had promised
a drink should not be disappointed. For some days a few gallons were
procured at a frightful hazard from a tank situated on the south-east
of the intrenchment. Those who were conscious how dear a price was
paid for every draught, thirsted in silence; but the babies kept up a
perpetual moan more terrible to some stout souls than a ten minutes'
hobble across the plain, a heavy skinful of water round the loins,
and an ounce of lead in the ankle. Captain Thomson saw the children of
his brother officers "sucking the pieces of old water-bags, putting
scraps of canvass and leather straps into the mouth to try and get
a single drop of moisture upon their parched lips." The distress of
our countrymen was enhanced by the plague of dust to which Cawnpore
is subject on account of the character of the soil. A traveller who
visited the station ten or twelve years before the mutiny, complains
that he got no gratification out of a grand review from which he
had promised himself much pleasure, because the show was throughout
enveloped in clouds which totally concealed it from his eyes.

There was yet another well, which yielded nothing then: which will
yield nothing till the sea, too, gives up her dead. It lay two hundred
yards from the rampart, beneath the walls of the unfinished barracks.
Thither at an hour varied nightly, for fear lest the rebel shot should
swell the funeral, with stealthy step and scant attendance the slain of
the previous day were borne. When morning broke the battle raged around
that sepulchre. Overhead the cannon roared, and men charged to and fro.
But those below rested none the less peacefully; their last cartridge
bitten; their last achievement performed: their last pang of hunger
and affliction undergone and already forgotten. There were deposited,
within the space of three weeks, two hundred and fifty English people,
a fourth by tale of the whole garrison. As in a season of trouble and
lawlessness men bury away their jewels and their gold against the
return of tranquillity and order: so the survivors committed to the
faithful mould their dear treasures, trusting that time and the fortune
of war would enable our country to honour her lost ones with a more
solemn rite, and a worthier tomb. Brief was the service whispered on
the brink of that sad well in the sultry summer night. It was much,
when they came to the grave, while the corpse was being made ready to
be laid into the earth, if the priest then said: "In the midst of life
we are in death. Of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord,
who for our sins art justly displeased?"

"Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most
merciful Saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal
death."

And again, while the earth was being cast upon the body by some
standing by, the priest might with the assent of all declare that it
was of His great mercy that it had pleased Almighty God to take unto
Himself the soul of the dear brother there departed.

Throughout the siege public worship, at stated hours, and of prescribed
length and form, neither did nor could take place: but the spirit
and the essential power of religion were not wanting. The station
chaplain, Mr. Moncrieff, made it his concern that no one should die
or suffer without the consolations of Christianity. And whenever he
could be spared from the hospital, this shepherd of a pest-stricken
flock, he would go the round of the batteries, and read a few Prayers
and Psalms to the fighting folk. With heads bent, and hands folded
over the muzzles of their rifles; soothed, some by genuine piety, some
by the associations of gladsome Christmas mornings and drowsy Sunday
afternoons spent in the aisle of their village church; they listened
calmly to the familiar words, those melancholy and resolute men. Each
congregation was more thin than the last. There were always present
some two or three to whom never again would grace be given to join with
accord in the common supplication. The people of Cawnpore might say in
the language used in a like strait by a brave and God-fearing soldier,
the Greatheart of English History:--"Indeed we are at this time a very
crazy company; yet we live in His sight, and shall work the time that
is appointed us, and shall rest after that in peace."

The condition of the besieged presented a complete contrast to the
state of things on the other side of the wall. The numbers and the
hopes of the insurgents mounted daily. Every morning some new Rajah or
Nawab paraded through the suburbs in his palanquin bright with silver
poles and silken hangings, preceded by drums, and standards, and led
chargers, and followed by a stream of lancers and matchlocks. Every
evening a fresh eruption of scoundrelism surged up from the narrow
crooked alleys and foul bazaars of the black city. Nor were the Hindoos
and Mahomedans of the revolted battalions left without the satisfaction
and encouragement of learning what great deeds had been wrought
elsewhere by the champions of the united faiths. In the month of June
the following document found its way from Delhi to Cawnpore:--

"_To all Hindoos and Mussulmans, Citizens and Servants of
Hindostan, the Officers of the Army now at Delhi and Meerut send
Greeting._

"It is well known that in these days all the English have entertained
these evil designs--first to destroy the religion of the whole
Hindostani army, and then to make the people Christians by compulsion.
Therefore we, solely on account of our religion, have combined with the
people, and have not spared alive one infidel, and have re-established
the Delhi dynasty on these terms, and thus act in obedience to orders
and receive double pay. Hundreds of guns and a large amount of treasure
have fallen into our hands; therefore it is fitting that whoever of
the soldiers and the people dislike turning Christians should unite
with one heart and act courageously, not leaving the seed of these
infidels remaining. For any quantity of supplies delivered to the army
the owners are to take the receipts of the officers; and they will
receive double payment from the Imperial Government. Whoever shall in
these times exhibit cowardice, or credulously believe the promises of
those impostors, the English, shall very shortly be put to shame for
such a deed; and, rubbing the hands of sorrow, shall receive for their
fidelity the reward the ruler of Lucknow got. It is further necessary
that all Hindoos and Mussulmans unite in this struggle, and, following
the instructions of some respectable people, keep themselves secure, so
that good order may be maintained, the poorer classes kept contented,
and they themselves be exalted to rank and dignity; also, that all,
so far as it is possible, copy this proclamation, and despatch it
everywhere, so that all true Hindoos and Mussulmans may be alive and
watchful, and fix it in some conspicuous place (but prudently, to avoid
detection), and strike a blow with a sword before giving circulation to
it. The first pay of the soldiers of Delhi will be thirty rupees per
month for a trooper, and ten rupees for a footman. Nearly one hundred
thousand men are ready; and there are thirteen flags of the English
regiments, and about fourteen standards from different parts, now
raised aloft for our religion, for God, and the conqueror; and it is
the intention of Cawnpore to root out the seed of the Devil. This is
what we of the army here wish."

This message was succeeded by a proclamation issued from the peacock
throne, in which the Mogul promised a monthly wage of twelve rupees
and a respectable estate to every sepoy who would rally to the
banner of the ancient dynasty. He likewise ordained that no cows
should thenceforward be killed throughout the land, and finished by
pronouncing a malediction upon the head of any one who should intercept
the imperial courier. The wretch was doomed to eat pork and beef: and,
as the messenger was eventually hanged by an English officer of the
Seventieth Infantry, it may be presumed that the curse has by this time
been fulfilled to the letter.

The rebel cause was soon strengthened by a more valuable reinforcement
than either the posse comitatus of the province, or the sympathy
of the Delhi mutineers. At the village of Chowbeypore, on the Great
North Road, had been stationed a detachment from the garrison of
Lucknow, comprising a squadron of native cavalry, and two companies of
sepoys, commanded by Captain Staples, four subalterns, and a European
serjeant-major. At about two o'clock on the afternoon of Tuesday, the
ninth of June, these gentlemen were roused from their luncheon by the
sound of a bugle playing the "Assembly." Rushing forth, they demanded
why so strange a liberty had been taken, and were told that it was by
the orders of the Nana. At the mention of this ill-omened name our
officers flung themselves on horseback, and rode for dear life, with
all the disadvantages resulting from ignorance of the country and a
bad start. That was a run in which the game was allowed no law. The
Captain was shot down from his saddle, and cut in pieces where he
lay. Two Englishmen took to the water like hunted stags, and there
miserably perished. Two others were headed by a mob of villagers, and
driven back among the sabres and pistols of their pursuers. Lieutenant
Bolton alone, by dint of hard riding, escaped to Cawnpore with a
bullet-hole in his cheek;--if escape it may be called, which was only
the postponement of death. After a chase of sixteen miles he reached
the neighbourhood of the town at nightfall; passed unobserved through
the lines of the mutineers; and camped out on the plain, waiting until
dawn should disclose to him the outline of the intrenchment. Our
sentries, astonished by the apparition of a cavalier riding at the
earthwork through the twilight like a mounted Remus, fired, and struck
his horse. No one, however, was surprised to find that even a crippled
steed could clear those defences at a leap. The fugitive was heartily
greeted by his countrymen, and entertained with such hospitality as
their situation would admit. Wounded and exhausted as he was, he proved
well worth his keep.

The troops who had revolted at Chowbeypore marched into Cawnpore,
bringing with them three English heads in a basket, and taking up on
their way a toll-keeper named Joseph Carter, and his wife; a young
person, who was daily expecting her first baby. This offering, combined
agreeably to his taste of the dead and the living, was mightily
acceptable to the Nana. With fraternal kindness he made a present
of the grisly trophies to Bala Rao, who exposed them in his saloon,
and gave a sort of conversazione at which they formed the leading
attraction. Mr. Carter was shot, as a matter of course; and his little
widow would have shared his fate, had not the relicts of the late
Peishwa, the step-mothers by adoption of the Maharaja, felt a womanly
commiseration for one so tender and so afflicted. The good ladies
begged hard for this single example of clemency, and begged in vain. At
length their pride of sex was roused against such determined brutality
towards a woman who had so lately been a wife, and was so soon to be a
mother, and they threatened to commit suicide unless their petition was
granted. The Nana then gave way, and permitted his relatives to carry
off their protégée to the apartments appropriated to the females in
the palace at Bithoor, where they placed her under the charge of an
experienced Mahomedan nurse. He insisted, however, that she should be
considered as under custody, and appointed a squad of troopers to see
that she was forthcoming whenever it might suit his will and pleasure.
He never lost sight of a victim. He boasted the worst half of, at any
rate, one kingly quality,--an unerring memory.

On the next Friday the remnant of the native force which had mutinied
at Benares made their appearance on the opposite side of the river. The
exit of these gentlemen from the Holy City had not been of a nature to
gratify their conceit, and their entry into Cawnpore was the reverse
of triumphant. They straggled up, jaded and dispirited, without any
semblance of martial order, some on horseback, and others perched up in
the uncomfortable country-carts of Hindostan, which seem to have been
devised with the express object of conveying the least possible amount
of freight with the greatest expenditure of traction power. Their
condition excited the contempt and cupidity of the officials appointed
to superintend the river traffic in the interest of the Nana; who
accordingly refused to ferry across these shabby auxiliaries for less
than a rupee per head. Considering that the majority of the passengers
were of pure Sikh blood, their spirit must indeed have been broken
before they could have endured such insolence and extortion.

On the fifteenth of June, a welcome message was brought to the Maharaja
from the Meer Nawab, a Mussulman of rank, who sent word that he
was coming up from the eastward with a couple of thousand regular
infantry, and a full complement of artillery. Azimoolah resolved that
his subordinates should not have an opportunity of repeating their
conduct of the previous week. Every mark of respect was to be displayed
towards so august and puissant a chieftain. The bridge contractors were
commissioned to collect barges for the transit of the expected allies,
and the confectioners of the town received instructions to prepare for
their refreshment a ménu, containing all those dishes of sweetened
animal food so nauseous to a European palate. On the morrow the Nawab
arrived at the head of two fine regiments, which had been raised on the
occasion of Lord Dalhousie's annexation, amidst the deep but suppressed
uneasiness of all who gave the native mind credit for the human
qualities of ambition, shame, and patriotism;--of all who believed the
Hindoo capable of any loftier sentiment than the desire to curry favour
with an English magistrate, touch a hundred rupees per mensem from an
English treasury, talk broken Addison, and read the "Deserted Village"
in the original. On the rolls of our army these battalions were styled
the Fourth and Fifth Oude Locals: but sepoys have invariably some
pet title for their own corps, (in most cases a corruption of the
name of its first colonel,) more suited to the Indian tongue than our
complicated military nomenclature. Thus the First, the Fifty-third, and
the Fifty-sixth Bengal Native Infantry, were spoken of familiarly as
"Gillises," "Lamboorn's," and "Garsteen's." The Oude soldiers under
the Meer Nawab were known to themselves and their compatriots as the
men of the Nadiree and the Akhtaree Regiments.

When the new-comers caught sight of the fortress which had hitherto
baffled the ingenuity and courage of their associates, they expressed
no small contempt for the generalship of the Nana, but bade him be at
his ease, for that they would engage to put him in possession of the
intrenchment after they had enjoyed a day's rest and surfeit. And so,
on the eighteenth of June, at the hour when, exactly two and forty
years before, the French tirailleurs were swarming through the woods
of Hougoumont up to the loopholes of the wall which they never passed,
the Oude mutineers charged in a mass across the plain, and over our
rampart; bore down the defenders; overturned a gun; and seemed for a
moment in a fair way of justifying their vaunt. A moment only: for,
without waiting for orders, angry Sahibs came running from all sides
to the rescue. Our people slewed round a nine-pounder; gave them first
some stockingfuls of grape, and then an English rush; and sent them
back to their master fewer and wiser than they came.

The rebel position presented an aspect animated and picturesque
in a high degree. To the north of our fortification, between the
Racket-court and the Chapel of Ease, was planted a battery well
armed with mortars and twenty-four pounder cannon. In this region
the command was taken by the Nunhey Nawab, the Mahomedan grandee,
who, with Bakur Ali, and others, had been plundered and imprisoned
by the Brahmins during their first outbreak of religious spite. The
high-spirited Moslem soldiery at once refused to brook this outrage,
and began to talk of setting up the Nawab's claim to royalty against
that of the Maharaja: upon which the latter released his prisoners,
and thenceforward behaved towards them rather as an equal than as a
master. The Nana's rival showed both judgment and vigour. He beat up
all the pensioned veterans of the neighbourhood who had formerly served
in the artillery, and employed work-people of both sexes in keeping him
supplied with red-hot shot. On one occasion an apprentice to the trade
took it into his head to try the experiment of heating a loaded shell,
and succeeded in blowing up a woman and five men, including, we may
presume, himself. The Nawab passed most of his time in the gallery of
the Racket-court, where, in the late afternoon of more quiet days, had
lolled a cluster of chatty Englishmen; opening bottles of soda-water;
chaffing the players with the threadbare raillery that suffices for the
simple taste of a limited community; descending in parties of four,
cheroot in mouth, when the cry of "game-ball all" warned them that
their turn was come. Occasionally he would issue forth to see how his
gunners were getting on, and to watch the effect of their practice
through a telescope. A half-caste Christian, who had disguised himself
as a Mahomedan with admirable skill, gives an interesting account of
what passed in this quarter. He says, "I saw Nunhey Nawab coming to
the batteries accompanied by a number of troopers, and sepoys, and
his own attendants also; and I was told by the people that the Nawab
had received a post of great dignity, and was in command of a battery.
About one o'clock I came close to Major-General Wheeler's bungalow,
and, finding a piece of mat in the compound, lay down on it, and saw
several troopers going about, forcing people to carry water to the
batteries. Hearing an uproar I rose from the place where I was, when
a trooper, seeing me, told me that it was a great shame for a young
Mussulman like me to be thus idling away my time, and that I should
assist at the batteries. He also told me that a young man, the son of
Kurrum Ali, the one-eyed, a pensioned soubahdar, was sent for by the
Nawab, and had laid a gun so precisely that the shot carried away a
portion of one of the barracks within the intrenchment, for which he
received a reward of ninety rupees, and a shawl. I replied to this
that I possessed no arms, and had never been a soldier." It was no
wonder that a battery where the service was conducted on so open-handed
a system soon became the popular resort. The lovely Azeezun made
this spot her head-quarters. She appears to have exercised a strange
fascination over our good friend Nanukchund, so frequently does she
appear in the course of his narrative. Whether he cherished towards her
a sneaking kindness; or a grudge for some past incivility; or, as is
most probable, both the one and the other, he certainly never leaves
her alone for many pages together. In his quaint way he writes:--"It
shows great daring in Azeezun, that she is always armed and present in
the batteries, owing to her attachment to the cavalry; and she takes
her favourites among them aside, and entertains them with milk, &c. on
the public road."

The Meer Nawab planted the cannon, which he had brought with him across
the river, on the south-east of our position, near the Artillery Mess
House. This manoeuvre forthwith debarred the garrison from obtaining
occasional and perilous access to the tank; a privation the more
severely felt, because the Oude men, bent on avenging their repulse,
worked their pieces with a will, and kept up at point-blank range so
hot a fire upon the mouth of our well that the drawing of water was a
deed of heroism by night, and in daylight an act of insanity. In the
west, Bakur Ali, who had shared with the Nunhey Nawab his disgrace
and his restoration to favour, bombarded our outposts from among the
stables of the Second Cavalry; while in and about the lines of the
First Native Infantry stood a number of heavy guns, known by the
collective appellation of "the Sepoy Battery," under cover of which
a Jemmadar, who fancied himself gifted with a turn for engineering,
was sinking a mine by the aid of some invalid sappers and miners,
whom he had persuaded to place themselves at his disposal. In the
south-west direction was a stately mansion, which formerly held rank
as a charitable institution, under the title of the "Salvador," a name
which the effeminate articulation of the native had long before this
converted into the "Savada." As the Mahomedan faction mustered strong
in the vicinity of the Racket-court, so the Savada soon became the
centre of Hindoo influence. It was the special haunt of the Nana. Here
were his ministers, his diviners, his courtiers, and the prisoners
from whom he purposed to extort something besides their breath. Here
was the battery which went by his name. Here was the tent of his most
able and ardent partizan, Teeka Sing, the generalissimo. Here too, in
an agreeable corner of the grounds, under the shade of a conspicuous
grove, conveniently remote alike from the camp of the Moslem and the
muzzles of the English artillery, was pitched his own pavilion; for he
seems to have inherited the Mahratta preference for canvas over brick
and mortar. The chiefs of that hardy and unquiet race seldom had a
tight roof over their heads until they were laid beneath some mausoleum
of fair white marble, sparkling with cornelian and jasper and lapsis
lazuli, constructed out of the spoils and the tribute of nations.

The mutineers showed every intention of enjoying their spell of
liberty and domination. These revolted regiments were rapidly turning
into mobs. The work of the batteries was left to the retainers of
ambitious Rajahs; to pensioned gunners; and to such amateurs as had
a stomach for fighting, and a taste for the shawls and cash lavished
by the Nunhey Nawab. The sepoys, meanwhile, lounged in the shops
which fringed the canal, eating sweetstuff with schoolboy avidity,
and drinking sherbet to their hearts' content; or swaggered along the
streets with a nonchalance copied from their reminiscences of the
fashionable frequenters of the band-stand, criticizing the driving of
those among their comrades who had been fortunate enough to lay their
hands upon a buggy belonging to a British officer. No decent people
were to be seen in the public places. No business was done in the main
thoroughfares. The tradesmen, in piteous trepidation, eyed the passing
scamps from behind their shutters, consoling their enforced idleness by
recollecting in what angle of the garden their money was interred, and
framing excuses against the probable visit of the Nana's tax-collector,
or the possible return of the English authorities. The opium-sellers
and the innkeepers, who in these days anterior to Mr. Wilson's budget
had not attained to the dignity of licensed victuallers, alone drove a
thriving trade. The warriors of the Religions smoked, and chewed, and
snored supine, clad in cotton drawers and a pair of clumsy shoes; their
necks encircled by the Brahminical thread, token of their privileged
and sacred extraction. To this costume they superadded a red coat, at
such times as the stings of conscience, or the reproaches of priest
and paramour, drove them out to get a lazy shot at the infidels and an
appetite for their curry.

The earliest care of the Nana had been to set on foot a respectable
municipal organization. With this object in view, he appointed to
the chief magistracy in the city one Hoolass Sing, who may have been
a traitor, but was, apparently, only a time-server. This person was
chosen by the advice of a deputation composed of the leading townsmen;
a tent-maker, a jeweller, and a dealer in opiates. Hoolass Sing
had no sinecure. It was only by the exercise of judicious firmness,
alternating with seasonable pliability, that he contrived to protect
Cawnpore from the rapacity of the soldiery, and the wrath of those
rural nobles whose paternal acres had been sold by the English
Government to recover arrears of land-tax, and purchased by moneyed
cits, who wished to cut a figure in country society. The duty of
victualling the troops was committed to a blind gentleman of the name
of Moolla, who, doubtless, saw quite well enough to water the rice
and omit to sift the meal. A burlesque judicial court was formed of
Azimoolah, Jwala, Pershad, and other creatures of the Maharaja; and
presided over by Baba Bliut, who delivered his decisions seated on a
billiard-table in Mr. Duncan's hotel. This tribunal passed a variety of
sentences without establishing any very valuable precedent. Once, in an
unaccountable fit of morality, it sentenced a luckless rogue to lose
his hand for theft; but, for obvious and selfish reasons, the judges
appear to have refrained from again taking cognizance of this crime.
A Mahomedan butcher was condemned to mutilation for having killed a
cow; and certain individuals were paraded through the town on donkeys,
"for disreputable livelihood:" a punishment which, when the charge was
made known, must have excited very general sympathy and indignation.
Gradually this body, like the Committee of Public Safety in the French
Revolution, assumed to itself a supervision over every department of
the administration. When the powder ran short, the principal dealer
in saltpetre was thrown into prison, until he produced the requisite
quantity of that article. A native merchant was required to provide
cloaks for half a battalion, at the rate of two and threepence a-piece;
a scale of payment which must have inspired him with an unaffected
regret for the liberal contracts of the old Company. With a keener
relish, Baba Bhut undertook to account for the Englishmen who still
lurked about, watching for an opportunity of slipping away to Allahabad
or Agra. On the eleventh of June, Mr. Williams, a writer in one of the
public offices, was traced out and slaughtered. Two days subsequently,
the head of young Mr. Duncan was brought into his own father's house.
The murderer was rewarded with the present of a pound, and the porter
got a couple of rupees.

At the expiration of a fortnight, an event occurred which, for a while,
afforded to the beseiged people a more suggestive and agreeable matter
of conversation than the rise of the mercury in the tube, and the
sinking of the flour in the barrels. A native water-carrier skulked
over from the opposite lines, and gave out that, on account of his
love and respect for the Sahibs, he had set his heart upon being the
first to bring them the good news; that there were two companies of
white soldiers on the other side of the Ganges, who were supposed to
have marched down from Lucknow; that they had guns with them, and were
making as if they would cross the river on the morrow; that the rebel
camp was in a panic, and that everybody was saying how much he had
all along intended to do for the Sahibs, had he only dared. Next day
he turned up again with the intelligence that the Europeans had been
detained on the opposite bank by an unexpected flood, but that they
were busily engaged in knocking together rafts, and might be looked for
within the forty-eight hours. Those hours passed, and twice and thrice
those hours, and there came not the aspect of help, nor the renewal of
confidence, nor the welcome sight of light faces, nor the welcome sound
of approaching artillery. The soi-disant water-carrier made no third
appearance. His two first visits had taught him all that Azimoolah
desired to know of our impoverished and defenceless plight.

Our spies were less lucky; or it may be that the sturdy and
straightforward British nature cannot promptly adapt itself to those
frauds which are proverbially fair in war. There was in the garrison
a soldier named Blenman, an Eurasian by birth, astute, and singularly
courageous, but in temper uncertain, and impatient of control. There,
and at that time, such a man was worth his weight in meal or powder,
and his superiors did well to humour him. Cool, observant, and bold to
temerity, the most delicate and hazardous of services had for him an
innate attraction. After trying his wings in some partial flights, he
prepared for a great and final enterprise, and volunteered to penetrate
as far as Allahabad with a report of our calamities, and an appeal for
instant succour. He disguised himself as a native cook, an easy task,
for his complexion showed that he had far more than the due share of
maternal blood; and sallied forth with a pistol and fifteen rupees
stuffed into his cotton drawers. He passed unnoticed or unsuspected no
less than seven horse pickets. The eighth stopped, and searched him, in
spite of his asseverations that he was a poor leather-dresser, taking
a walk through the night air, after working all day in a close alley
over the saddles and holsters of the gentlemen troopers of the Second
Cavalry. Too plausible to be killed off-hand, and too questionable to
be neglected, he was stripped and sent back whence he came, with no
other information than that the investment of our position was even
more strict and complete than had been apprehended.

A half-caste government official offered to make an attempt to obtain
intelligence, and to bribe over some of the influential citizens of
Cawnpore, on condition that Sir Hugh would permit his family to leave
the intrenchment. His terms were accepted. He set forth, but was
at once detected, and taken before the Maharaja, who sentenced him
to three years' imprisonment with hard labour; a unique example of
leniency, curious, as proving how firmly that usurper was persuaded
that his rule would now be permanent. Ghouse Mahomed, a faithful sepoy
of the Fifty-sixth, succeeded in getting farther than his predecessors.
He crept along the ground in the darkness, until he met two or three
men with four yoke of oxen taking supplies to the Savada house. He
told them that he was going to the city to buy some grave clothes for
his brother, a brave who had died that day for the good cause in one
of the advanced batteries. He was allowed to proceed upon his pious
errand; but, when he reached the native town, it was as much as he
could do to conceal himself from the inquisition of the rebel police.
Many emissaries were despatched from our fortification, but Blenman
alone returned. The others, through the months subsequent to our
re-occupation of the district, came straggling in, as they could effect
their escape from the camp of the fugitive Nana, with noses slit, and
hands or ears chopped off by an ignorant and inhuman operator.

The remaining contents of the Cawnpore budget derive their principal
interest from a consideration of the circumstances under which they
were produced. Not even at such a season would Englishmen put their
deeper feelings within an envelope; and the gossip of the station in
that June was hardly calculated to enliven a correspondence. On the
night of Sunday, the twenty-first, Major Vibart transmitted these lines
to Lucknow:--

"We have been cannonaded for six hours a day by twelve guns. This
evening, in three hours, upwards of thirty shells [mortars] were thrown
into the intrenchment. This has occurred daily for the last eight days.
An idea may be formed of our casualties, and how little protection
the barracks afford to the women. Any aid, to be effective, must be
immediate. In event of rain falling, our position would be untenable.

"According to telegraphic despatches received previous to the outbreak,
a thousand Europeans were to have been here on the fourteenth instant.
This force may be on its way up. Any assistance you can send might
co-operate with it. Nine-pounder ammunition, chiefly cartridges, is
required. Should the above force arrive, we can, in return, insure
the safety of Lucknow. Being simply a military man, General Wheeler
has no power to offer bribes in land and money to the insurgents, nor
any means whatever of communicating with them. You can ascertain the
best means of crossing the river. Nujuffgurh Ghaut is suggested. It
is earnestly requested that whatever is done may be effected without
a moment's delay. We have lost about a third of our original number.
The enemy are strongest in artillery. They appear not to have more
than four hundred or five hundred infantry. They move their guns with
difficulty, by means of unbroken bullocks. The infantry are great
cowards, and easily repulsed.

"By order,
"G. V. VIBART, Major."

In the following letter there is one sad touch: the widower writing
over his elbow "on the floor," "in the midst of the greatest dirt,
noise, and confusion."

"I was agreeably surprised to receive your most welcome letter of the
twenty-first, the messenger of which managed cleverly to find his way
here; but that surprise was exceeded by the astonishment felt by us
all, at the total want of knowledge you seem to be in regarding our
position and prospects; while we have been, since the sixth of the
month, equally in the dark respecting the doings of the world around
us. Your loss at Lucknow is frightful, in common with that of us all;
for, since the date referred to, every one here has been reduced to
ruin. On that date they commenced their attack, and fearfully have
they continued now for eighteen days and nights; while the condition
of misery experienced by all is utterly beyond description in this
place. Death and mutilation, in all their forms of horror, have been
daily before us. The numerical amount of casualties has been frightful,
caused both by sickness and the implements of war, the latter having
been fully employed against our devoted garrison by the villainous
insurgents, who have, unluckily, been enabled to furnish themselves
therewith from the repository which contained them. We await the
arrival of succour with the most anxious expectation, after all our
endurance and sufferings; for that, Sir Henry Lawrence has been applied
to by Sir Hugh, and we hope earnestly it will be afforded, and that
immediately, to avert further evil. If he will answer that appeal
with 'deux cents soldats Britanniques,' we shall be doubtless at once
enabled to improve our position in a vital manner: and we deserve
that the appeal should be so answered forthwith. You will be grieved
to learn that among our casualties from sickness my poor dear wife
and infant have been numbered. The former sank on the twelfth, and
the latter on the nineteenth. I am writing this on the floor, and in
the midst of the greatest dirt, noise, and confusion. Pray urge our
reinforcement to the Chief Commissioner.

  "Yours,
  "L. M. WIGGENS."

The employment of the French sentence is worthy of remark. During these
troubled times, every modern language was pressed into our service; and
more than one old field-officer mustered up his school reminiscences of
the Anabasis and the Iliad, to compose a bulletin, curiously blended
of Attic, Æolic, and Aldershot, which would have puzzled Grote or
Hermann at least as much as it could possibly perplex any mutineer or
highwayman who might chance to intercept the messenger.

Things had got to a terrible pass on our side of the wall. All the
present sweetness of existence was long since vanished, and the last
flicker of future hope had now died away. But, moved by a generous
despair and an invincible self-respect, our people still fought on. By
daring and vigilance, by countless shifts and unremitting labour, they
staved off ruin for another day, and yet another. At rare intervals
behind the earthwork they stood--gaunt and feeble likenesses of
men,--clutching with muffled fingers the barrels of their muskets,
which glowed with heat intolerable to the naked hand, so fierce was
the blaze of the summer sun. Straining their ears to catch any fancied
sounds of distant cannonading, they gazed across the plain to where the
horizon faded into a fantastic mirage, which mocked their fevered eyes
with fair scenes of forest, and mountain, and with infinite expanses
of glassy water broken by golden islets; while in the foreground the
jackals prowled about the debated space, and the pariah dogs snarled at
the grey crows, and slunk away from the spots where the great vultures
sat in obscene and sulky conclave. Dim must have been the thoughts,
confused the images, which flitted through their wearied intellect;
indistinct memories of home and youth; faint regrets, and fainter
resolutions; fitful yearnings for dear beings whom they would never
again behold. One would surmise how his mother in far-off England would
bear her sorrow, and who would be selected to break the news. Another
would calculate dates, and try to convince himself that his boy at
Rugby should have got the scholarship examination off his mind before
the receipt of the fatal tidings. But, whatever might be the subject of
contemplation, no smile relieved the stolid apathy of their careworn
features, save when dejection was for an instant charmed away by the
buoyant audacity of Moore. "He was a strong man. In the dark perils of
war, in the high places of the field, hope shone in him like a pillar
of fire, when it had gone out in all the others." Brave and vivacious
himself, he was the cause that bravery and vivacity were in other
men. It was not that he had less at stake than those around him: for
his wife and children were in the entrenchment. When the vicissitudes
of battle called her husband to the outposts, Mrs. Moore would step
across with her work, and spend the day beneath a little hut of bamboos
covered with canvas, which the garrison of Barrack Number Two had
raised for her in their most sheltered corner. Seldom had fair lady a
less appropriate bower.

The twenty-third of June, 1757, was the date of the great rout
that placed Bengal beneath the sway of the foreigner. In 1857 the
ringleaders of the mutiny had fixed on the dawning of that day as
the signal for a general rebellion over the entire north of India;
but the outbreak at Meerut and the massacre of Delhi precipitated
and weakened the blow. In that dread year those awful events were to
us as saving mercies. At Cawnpore, however, the Nana and his crew,
actuated by a partiality for the celebration of centenaries not
altogether confined to Asiatics, were bent upon effecting something
worthy of the occasion. All through the night of the twenty-second
the defenders of the outlying barracks were kept on the alert by
sounds which betokened that the sepoys in the adjacent buildings were
more than usually numerous and restless. Lieutenant Thomson sent to
head-quarters for a reinforcement; but Moore replied that he could
spare nobody except himself and Lieutenant Delafosse. In the course of
a few minutes the pair arrived, and at once sallied forth armed, one
with a sword, and the other with an empty musket. Moore shouted out,
"Number one to the front!" and the enemy, taking it for granted that
the well-known word of command would bring upon them a full company
of Sahibs with fixed bayonets and cocked revolvers, broke cover and
ran like rabbits. But towards morning they returned in force, and
attacked with such determined ferocity that there remained more dead
Hindoos outside the doorway than there were living Europeans within.
At the same moment the main fortification was assaulted by the whole
strength of the insurrection. Field guns, pulled along by horses and
bullocks, were brought up within a few hundred yards, unlimbered, and
pointed at our wall. The troopers, who had bound themselves by the
most solemn oath of their religion to conquer or to perish, charged
at a gallop in one quarter; while in another advanced the dense array
of infantry, preceded by a host of skirmishers, who rolled before
them great bundles of cotton, proof against our bullets. It was all
in vain. Our countrymen, too, had their anniversary to keep. They
shot down the teams which tugged the artillery. They fired the bales,
drove the sharpshooters back upon the columns, and sent the columns to
the right-about in unseemly haste. They taught the men of the Second
Cavalry that broken vows, and angered gods, and the waters of Ganges
poured fruitlessly on the perjured head were less terrible than British
valour in the last extremity. The contest was short but sharp. The
defeated combatants retired to brag and to carouse; the victors to
brood, to sicken, and to starve. That evening a party of sepoys drew
near our lines, made obeisance after their fashion, and requested leave
to bury the slain. This acknowledgment of an empty triumph, which would
have spread a lively joy throughout the ranks of an old Spartan army
even in the most desperate strait, was but a poor consolation to these
Englishmen under the shadow of their impending doom.

FOOTNOTE:

[2] These Brahminee bulls are the standing nuisance of Indian city
life. They saunter along the public way, laying the shops under
contribution, frightening the women, and disgusting the equestrians.
To strike them is a high crime, social and religious. To kill them
involves present death, and future damnation. At every turn may be seen
some old fellow with a platterful of grain in his hand, alluring one
of these creatures away from his store. The authorities of Calcutta
at length took courage, collected all the Brahminee bulls, and put
them in the carts of the Government scavengers. When Scindiah paid his
last visit to the capital, he was much scandalized at so impious a
regulation, and expressed his desire to buy up the animals, and restore
them to their former condition of life. But he wisely refrained, when
it was represented to him that, the moment his back was turned, the
bulls would again find their way into the public service.



CHAPTER IV.

THE TREACHERY.


The event of this conflict produced a sudden change in the projects
of the Nana. He forthwith began to despair of carrying our fortress
by storm, and the circumstances of his position were so critical that
he dared not await the unfailing but tardy process of starvation.
The clearing out of the intrenchment proved to be a more serious
undertaking than he had anticipated. From forty to fifty score of his
stoutest warriors had bitten the dust in front of our rampart, and he
appeared to be as far as ever from the object which he had in view.
Every day the English fought with increased gallantry and firmness,
while in his own camp disaffection and disgust gained ground from
hour to hour. An Oriental army which has turned its back on the foe
can seldom, in the language of the prize-ring, be induced once more
to toe the scratch; and every section of the rebel force had by this
time been well beaten. The sepoys were already grumbling, and it was
to be feared that another repulse would set them conspiring. Even the
Oude men preferred the toddy-shops to the batteries; and the mutineers
of the Cawnpore brigade swore that no power on earth or in heaven
should prevail on them again to look the Sahibs in the face. Meanwhile
the Mahomedans, whom the Maharaja dreaded only less than the British,
gathered strength and impunity from the popular discontent. Teeka Sing,
the soul of the Hindoo faction and the right hand of the Nana, was
imprisoned in his tent on the charge of amassing a private treasure by
a party of Moslem troopers, who were growing hungry for the largess so
long deferred. Delay was perilous, and defeat would be fatal. By fair
means, or, if need was, by the very foulest, it behoved the usurper
to bring the matter to a speedy termination. One method remained;
swifter than famine; more sure than open force. It might be possible to
cajole where he might not frighten; to ensnare those whom he could not
vanquish; to lure our countrymen from the shelter of that wall within
which no intruder had set his foot and lived.

In one of the rooms in the Savada House the Greenway family, of
whom mention has been made above, had now been shut up for about
a fortnight, in strict confinement, diversified by an occasional
conversation with an underling of the Maharaja. He had fixed their
ransom at forty thousand pounds, and was at present discussing the
terms of a bill of exchange on a Calcutta bank, for which they were
never to receive any consideration. In the same apartment lived
an elderly person, named Mrs. Jacobi, who had been taken while
endeavouring to escape towards Lucknow, disguised in native clothes.
On the evening of Tuesday, the twenty-third, these unhappy people
were surprised at receiving a call from Azimoolah and Jwala Pershad,
who seemed in very low spirits on account of the collapse of their
centenary. These gentlemen informed Mrs. Jacobi[3] that she had
been designated as the bearer of a message to Sir Hugh Wheeler. She
readily undertook the office, and in the course of the next day was
favoured by an interview with the Nana, who gave her a letter and her
instructions. At nine o'clock on the following morning, she proceeded
to the intrenchments in a palanquin, and was admitted as soon as the
sentries had ascertained that she was an envoy, and not a spy. She
delivered the document which had been entrusted to her charge; a note
in the handwriting of Azimoolah, attested by no signature, of which
the superscription was "To the subjects of Her Most Gracious Majesty
Queen Victoria;" and the contents ran as follows, in caricature of a
proclamation issued from the Government House at Calcutta:--

"All those who are in no way connected with the acts of Lord Dalhousie,
and are willing to lay down their arms, shall receive a safe passage to
Allahabad."

This protocol, unique for brevity and impudence, was laid before a
council, consisting of General Wheeler, and Captains Moore and Whiting.
The debate was prolonged and earnest. Poor Sir Hugh could not bear to
abandon the position that he had chosen so ill, and in the defence of
which he had been so little able to participate. It seemed a miserable
conclusion of a long and not discreditable career to stipulate with
his own sepoys for the liberty of slinking away after the loss of all
his men and half his officers. Such was indeed an exorbitant price to
pay for the sad remnants of a broken life. Better to lie within that
well not far above his brave boy than to bargain for the privilege of
being interred a few months later beneath one of the unsightly masses
of brickwork which encumber the European graveyards of India. But the
scruples of the old man at length yielded to the arguments produced
by Moore and Whiting:--and they were no drawing-room soldiers: for
the one throughout those three weeks had never left a corner on which
converged the fire of two powerful batteries, and the other had so
borne himself that it might well be doubted whether he knew what fear
was. They represented that, if the garrison had consisted exclusively
of fighting people, no one would ever dream of surrender as long as
they had swords wherewith to cut their way to Allahabad. But what
could be done with a mixed multitude, in which there was a woman and a
child to each man, while every other man was incapacitated by wounds
and disease? The setting in of the wet weather, (so they urged,) long
dreaded as an overwhelming calamity, and delayed hitherto by what
resembled the special mercy of Providence, could not now be distant.
When the heavens were once opened, when the rain of the East descended
in all its first violence, their fortification would straightway cease
to be habitable and secure. The walls of the barracks, shakened and
riddled by the cannonade, would sink and crumble beneath the fury of
a tropical tempest. The holes in which our ladies sought refuge from
the glare and the shot would be filled ere many inches had fallen.
The marksmen who, provided with weapons worthy of their skill, could
hardly guarantee those paltry bulwarks, would be helpless when damp
powder and dirty gun-barrels had reduced them to their bayonets and
hog-spears. In another week they must expect to be washed out of their
defences; but, before that week had elapsed, the state of the barometer
would concern them little; for the provisions were fast coming to an
end. Their stores had dwindled to less than a quart per head of almost
uneatable native food. The choice lay between death and capitulation:
and, if the latter were resolved on, it was well that the offer came
from the enemy. Loth and late Sir Hugh gave way. In order to avoid the
appearance of a suspicious eagerness to accept the advances of the
Nana, Mrs. Jacobi was dismissed with an announcement that our commander
was in deliberation as to the answer that should be sent. That the
intention to treat was generally known among our officers is evident
from a note addressed by Lieutenant Master, of the Fifty-third, to his
father, a colonel of cavalry, dated at half-past eight in the evening
of June the twenty-fifth:

"We have now held out for twenty-one days under a tremendous fire.
The Raja of Bithoor has offered to forward us in safety to Allahabad,
and the General has accepted his terms. I am all right, though twice
wounded. Charlotte Newnham and Bella Blair are dead. I'll write from
Allahabad. God bless you.

  "Your affectionate son,
  G. A. MASTER."

The old lady returned to the rebel lines early in the afternoon,
reluctant, but somewhat cheered by her short visit. While the summons
was under consideration, she had made the most of such an excellent
opportunity for pouring out her troubles and terrors to a friendly
audience. Her escort conducted her to the Maharaja, who listened
to what she had to say, and then sent her back into captivity. He
had no further need of her services. A pacific intercourse had been
established between the camps, and thenceforward his ambassadors might
traverse the intervening ground without apprehension lest a conical
bullet from Lieutenant Stirling's rifle should put an abrupt end to the
negotiations. That evening there was assembled in the Nana's tent a
council of war, to which repaired five or six congenial advisers, who,
in their inmost hearts, were conscious that they had been bidden to a
council of murder. One hour after dusk was the time appointed for that
accursed colloquy. A subject was to be broached on which few would dare
to enter until the kindly sun had veiled his face. History will never
cease to shudder at the deeds which thence resulted; but of the words
that there were spoken she will be content to abide for ever ignorant.

The morrow was a busy day. The first thing in the morning, at our
invitation, Azimoolah walked up to within half a quarter of a mile
of our outposts, accompanied by Jwala Pershad, a myrmidon of Bithoor
Palace, who, by zeal and servility, had risen to the dignity of a
brigadier. To them went forth Moore and Whiting, together with Mr.
Roche, the postmaster. These gentlemen, whom Sir Hugh had invested with
full powers, undertook to deliver up the fortification, the treasure,
and the artillery, on condition that our force should march out under
arms, with sixty rounds of ammunition to every man; that carriages
should be provided for the conveyance of the wounded, the women, and
the children; and that boats victualled with a sufficiency of flour
should be in readiness at the neighbouring landing-place. These
stipulations appeared to meet the approval of the native commissioners;
one of whom volunteered the remark: "We will give you sheep and goats
also."

The terms were committed to paper, and handed to Azimoolah, who broke
up the conference with a promise to do what he could towards persuading
his master to accede to our proposals. That same afternoon a trooper
brought back a document, with a verbal message to the effect that
the Nana had no alteration to suggest, and desired that the barrack
should be evacuated that very night. This extravagant demand produced
a remonstrance on our part, to which the response was an insolent
assurance that the Peishwa must have his will, and that disobedience or
even hesitation would bring upon the delinquents the fire of all his
batteries; that he was not so blind as to give us credit for having
abundance of food or serviceable cannon; and that another week's
bombardment would leave nobody alive to haggle with his behest. To this
flourish of Oriental vanity Whiting replied in good English style,
that, if Seereek Dhoondoo Punth wanted the intrenchment, he had only
to come and take it; that his soldiers knew the way thither and the
way back again; and that, if the worst came to the worst, there was
powder enough in our magazine to blow into the Ganges everything south
of the Canal. This last allusion closed the controversy. The Maharaja
consented that we should delay the embarkation till morning, and
accorded a most gracious reception to Mr. Todd, who formerly had been
his English tutor, and who now prevailed upon him, without difficulty,
to sign his worthless name on the margin of the treaty. Men give easily
what costs them nothing. The Nana informed his old acquaintance that
arrangements should be made to enable our countrymen to breakfast and
dine on board, and start comfortably in the cool of the evening. The
servants, he said, had better stay behind, as the ladies could look to
their own wants on the voyage. Which was true, God knows.

There was much to be done that night. On the one side preparations
were on foot for a departure; on the other, measures were being taken
that the departure should never be. Hoolas Sing, the magistrate of
the city, sent for the principal persons who gained their living by
letting boats on hire, and ordered them to provide conveyance for five
hundred passengers. They declared themselves unable to fulfil his
injunctions, a refusal on which, after the re-establishment of British
rule, they insisted as an irrefragable proof of loyalty. It is more
likely that they were influenced by a rational doubt as to whether they
would ever see the colour of the Nana's money. Hoolas Sing, however,
knew what he was about, as appears from the pathetic language of
one of the sufferers. "I told him," says Buddhoo, aged forty years,
"that, when I received orders from the Europeans to procure boats, I
was advanced money, and allowed a month or fifteen days to collect
the same, and that it was impossible to procure boats on so short a
notice. On this he was much annoyed, and said I was only putting him
off, and ordered his attendants to take me, give me a good beating, and
make me get boats. They did as ordered, kept me there the whole night,
beating me, and threatened to blow me from guns if I did not comply
with their request. They continued threatening me till 12 A.M.: but I
did not get them any boats." Buddhoo's companions had more regard for
their skins; and, being not unaccustomed to this mode of carrying on a
commercial transaction, after a due modicum of vapulation discovered
that they could muster two dozen barges between them. These were
punted down the river, and moored at the appointed spot. Presently a
committee of English officers, riding upon elephants, and guarded by
native troopers, arrived for the purpose of inspecting the proceedings
and reporting progress. These gentlemen expressed great vexation
at the dilapidated state of the little fleet. Four hundred workmen
were at once engaged, and set to repair the thatch of the roofs, and
construct a temporary flooring of bamboo. During the presence of our
countrymen some provisions were brought along and placed on board,
with a considerable show of assiduity: but they were not satisfied
with all that they saw, and still less with what they seemed to
hear. Some sepoys, idling on the bank, interspersed their talk with
frequent repetitions of the word "kuttle," which, being interpreted, is
"massacre."

And so the stage had been selected whereon to enact the tragedy.
Hoolas Sing had furnished the properties; Azimoolah had composed the
plot; and there lacked only a skilful manager, who should distribute
the parts, instruct the actors, and dispose the supernumeraries. The
Nana could discover many a one among his pimps and parasites suited to
such a job as far as moral constitution was concerned. In his familiar
circle there was no dearth of fellows by the hand of nature marked,
quoted, and signed to do a deed of shame. But in that degenerate circle
there was only a single courtier who had retained something of the old
Mahratta dash and martial craft. Tantia Topee was destined ere long
to demonstrate that he could run away every whit as successfully as
those chieftains who more than half a century before wearied out the
hot pursuit of Lake and Wellesley; and on this particular occasion he
evinced qualities which might have secured to him a share of fame in
a cause less detestable to God and man. Laurels were not to be reaped
in that contest. The due meed for such victors was a wreath of cypress
and a necklace of hemp. But the bad deed was right cleverly done.
Among all the feats of arms performed by the rebel forces during the
eighteen months which succeeded the explosion at Meerut, no operation
was so perfect in all its parts, so able in design, and so prosperous
in execution, as the memorable treachery of Cawnpore.

The Suttee Chowra Ghaut, or landing-place, lay a short mile to the
north-west of our intrenchment. At this point a ravine runs into the
Ganges, after crossing at a right angle the main road, which is distant
three hundred yards from the river. During summer the bed of the stream
is dry, and presents the appearance of a sandy lane of irregular
width, uneven with frequent lumps of broken soil, and inclosed on
either side within high banks crowned by decaying fences. Standing
half way down this passage the tourist sees behind him a bridge which
carries the highway across the defile, the rails of which, then as
now coated with white paint, have little of an Oriental aspect, and
remind him for an instant of a bit in a Surrey common. On reaching the
shore he finds himself in an open space, some hundred and fifty yards
long and a hundred deep, bounded in the rear by a precipitous rising
ground surmounted with prickly pear, in front by the Ganges, and to
the left by the ruins of what in 1857 was the village from which the
Ghaut takes a name. On his right hand rises a picturesque temple,
dedicated to the patron deity of fishermen, small but in good repair,
resembling nothing so much as those summer-houses of a century back
which at the corners of old gardens overhang Dutch canals and suburban
English byways. Passing down the wall of this edifice a steep flight of
steps terminates in the very water of the river, so that a man cannot
round the corner without wading. This is the scene where the traveller
experiences to the full the sentiment of the spirit of Cawnpore. In
other quarters of the station there are objects which evoke no light
and transient feelings. It is painful to trace the faint line of the
fortifications, and recognise the site of the barrack which contained
so much sorrow and agony. It is interesting to observe the neat garden
that strives to beguile away the associations which haunt the well
of evil fame, and to peruse the inscription indited by a vice-regal
hand. It may gratify some minds, beneath the roof of a memorial church
that is now building, to listen while Christian worship is performed
above a spot which once resounded with ineffectual prayers and vain
ejaculations addressed to quite other ears. But it is beside that
little shrine on the brink of the yellow flood that none save they who
live in the present alone can speak with unaltered voice, and gaze
with undimmed eye. For that is the very place itself where the act was
accomplished, not yet transformed by votive stone and marble. There,
at least, in the November evening, an Englishman may stand with bare
head, and, under the canopy of heaven, breathe a silent petition for
grace to do in his generation some small thing towards the conciliation
of races estranged by a terrible memory.

In the course of the Friday evening Tantia Topee was closeted with the
Nana, and, on leaving, gave orders that five guns and as many hundred
picked musketeers should be mustered at the landing-place two hours
before daybreak. He likewise enjoined certain among the rebel nobles
to be in attendance with their followers at the same rendezvous. The
cavalry soldiers, to whom the design was imparted, exclaimed against
such a dastardly breach of faith, and would not be convinced until the
Maharaja himself took the trouble to assure them, on the authority
of a royal Brahmin, that according to his creed it was permissible
to forswear at such a juncture; and that, for his own part, when the
object was to annihilate an enemy, he would not hesitate to take a
false oath on burning oil or holy water.

At the prescribed time, Tantia Topee found his power assembled on the
bank, and straightway proceeded to make his dispositions. One gun,
under the charge of a detachment, was placed among the ruins of Mr.
Christie's house, which, from a considerable height above the stream,
commanded the whole line of boats. A strong body of sepoys took cover
behind the village of Suttee Chowra. A squadron of troopers concealed
themselves to the south of the Fisherman's Temple. A couple of sections
were secreted in and about some timber, which lay ready to be shipped
away; while a mixed party of horse and foot were told off to follow
our garrison, with directions to form up on the wooden bridge as soon
as the English rear-guard had entered the ravine, and thus cut off
the single avenue of escape. A fieldpiece, protected by a company of
infantry, was posted a quarter of a mile down the river: and at a
somewhat wider interval was stationed a third gun and another company.
On the opposite shore, directly facing the mouth of the lane, stood two
cannon, guarded by an entire battalion of infantry and a regiment of
cavalry, who had recently attached themselves to the insurrection.

The boats, some few excepted, had been hauled into the shallows, and
were literally resting on the sand. They were of the ordinary country
build, thirty feet from stem to stern, and twelve feet in the beam.
They were covered in by a heavy roof of straw, with a space at either
end left open for the steersman and the rowers. At a distance they had
the air of floating haystacks, rather than of vessels; and, indeed,
were not unlike the Noah's ark of our nurseries, both in their outlines
and in the number of their crew. Tantia called the boatmen together,
and bade them hold themselves prepared, at a given signal, to fire
the thatch, and make for the shore; and then, secure of the issue,
mounted the stairs of the little temple, there to await, amidst a crowd
of armed retainers, the outcome of his able combinations. The men
in ambush chattered, and shivered, and munched their cold rice, and
shared the alternate pipe: and the Mussulmans in the various groups
performed a leisurely obeisance towards the rising sun, not sorry when
his rays broke through the chill mist of the morning; and the bargemen
gathered round fires heaped with a larger supply of charcoal than the
economic Hindoo is wont to expend upon the preparation of his frugal
breakfast.

All was quiet in the intrenchment. Brigadier Jwala Pershad, with two
companions, came over-night to Sir Hugh Wheeler, and announced that
the trio were to remain until the embarkation as hostages for the good
faith of the Peishwa. The plausible Hindoo made himself exceedingly
agreeable to his host; condoled with the General upon the privations
which he had undergone, so trying at that advanced age; and intimated
his disapprobation of those ungrateful soldiers who had turned their
arms against an old and indulgent commander. He promised that, as far
as in him lay, he would take care that no harm should befall us; and
he soon had occasion to submit to a test of his good intentions, for
a rebel sentry in the outlying barracks dropped his musket, which
exploded in the fall, an accident that called forth a rapid and wild
discharge from all the hostile batteries. Jwala at once despatched to
the head-quarters of the enemy a message explaining the cause of the
commotion, and procured an immediate cessation of the bombardment. In
spite of this interruption, the garrison, rendered by long suspense
and wretchedness careless rather than unsuspicious of the future, held
high festival upon a double ration of boiled lentils and meal-cake,
washed down by copious draughts of water from the battered well clouded
with brick-dust and powdered cement. Though many a wish was uttered for
bread, and eggs, and milk-porridge, and curried fowls, no one dared
beg or buy of the native sutlers. And so our people filled themselves
with such food as they could get, and rested as men rest who have not
slept for a great while, and know not when they may sleep again. There
were those at hand who knew right well. Meanwhile, as an earnest of our
defeat, a squad of mutineers stood guard over the shattered remains of
the glorious guns which had done all that English iron could effect for
the conservation of English honour and English lives.

On the morrow, at a very early hour, all Cawnpore was astir. The
townspeople poured down to the landing-place by thousands; some
desirous to catch one more glimpse of the kind-hearted strangers who
had so long sojourned in their midst, and unfeignedly sorry to see
the last of such easy customers and such open-handed masters; others,
curious to observe whether the Sahibs were much changed by their
hardships; others, again, drawn thither by a dim expectation that
something might happen which it would be a pity to have missed. And the
mutineers, and the matchlock-men, and the rabble of the revolt, swarmed
forth from the various dens of debauchery, and slouched off, yawning
and half-armed, to bear their part in whatever might be going on. And
Azimoolah and the brothers of the Peishwa, accompanied by a host of
nobles, mounted their horses, and joined Tantia Topee on the platform
of the temple. And the Nana did not sleep late, if, indeed, he slept
at all. When his courtiers had departed, he dismissed his attendants,
and listened in solitude for the sounds which should announce that the
supreme moment had arrived. His mind was not in tune for company.

And our countrymen awoke for the last time. There was a great deal to
be thought and talked of, but not much to be done. The packing did not
take long. Little had been brought into those hateful walls, and less
yet remained worth removal when they came to break up their melancholy
establishment. Some hid about their persons money, or jewellery, or
fragments of plate. Others seemed to think that a bible or a book of
prayers was a treasure more likely to be of service in the coming
emergency than turquoises, and silver spoons, and gold sovereigns. The
able-bodied folk, intent on the common safety, stuffed their hats and
pockets with ball-cartridge; while a few, over whose hearts, softened
by the influence of the occasion, affection and regret held exclusive
sway, bestowed all their care upon tokens which the dying had put aside
as a legacy for the bereaved in England. Many and strange were the
relics that crossed the Indian Ocean in the homeward-bound packets of
that autumn; locks of hair, and stained sleeves or collars, and notes
scribbled on the fly-leaf of an orderly-book, and pistols, of which
some of the barrels were still loaded, and others had been fired in
vain. It was then much as it had been in the days of Troy, throughout
the villages of ancient Achaia. "The household knew those whom it sent
forth to the war; but, instead of the men, an urn and a poor handful of
ashes alone returned."

And now began to make itself felt a strong disinclination to quit for
ever the place where so much had been done and suffered; a frame of
mind which afterwards was remarked among the besieged at Lucknow who
outlived the relief of the Residency. Death, in one of the forms with
which all had lately grown so conversant, and among associations that,
if not dear, were at any rate familiar, seemed preferable to novel
exertions and untried perils. More than one young subaltern who, a
month previously, would have been ashamed to confess to an emotion,
stole ten minutes to pay a farewell visit to the loophole at which, on
the morning of the great assault, he had fought till his shoulder was
blue, and his rifle clogged with lead; or to stand with wet cheeks in a
nook of the hospital, sacred to his first great grief. Not a few peered
down the well that lay outside the breastwork, with a tacit adieu to
those whom they left behind, and a wish that it had pleased God to
unite them, even there.

If a start was to be made before the advancing day had dispelled the
freshness of dawn, there was no time to be lost. A crowd of carriages
and beasts of burden had gradually assembled outside the north-western
corner of the intrenchment. Some of the women and children disposed
themselves in the bullock-carts, while others climbed up to an
insecure seat on the padded back of an elephant. A fine animal,
equipped with a state howdah, and steered by the Peishwa's own driver,
had been sent for the accommodation of Sir Hugh Wheeler. The General
was touched by the attention; but (unwilling, it may be, to form
a conspicuous object in a _cortège_ so far from triumphal) after
seeing his wife and daughters safely mounted in the place of honour,
he ensconced himself in a palanquin, which he never left alive. Our
soldiers bestowed their disabled comrades in the litters, without
receiving the slightest assistance from the native bystanders. It was
cruel work, the loading of this mournful train. The inexperienced
good-will of that amateur ambulance corps occasioned grievous agony to
some who ought not to have left their beds for months, and to some who
should never have been moved again.

A number of sepoys mingled with the throng of English people, and
entered into conversation with the gentlemen under whom they had
formerly served. One and all, they expressed lively admiration for the
unaccountable obstinacy of our defence. Many spoke with commiseration
of the distressing condition to which those had been reduced for whom
they entertained so deep a respect; inquired eagerly after their
missing officers; and learned their fate with tears: conduct which
none who have studied the Hindoo character can attribute to sheer
dissimulation. Less equivocal were the demonstrations displayed towards
their employers by certain among the better class of domestics. The
head bearer of Colonel Williams, who commanded the Fifty-sixth before
the mutiny, deserves to tell his own simple story. He says, "Even after
the cessation of hostilities, we were not allowed to go and see our
masters. On the morning of the twenty-sixth of June, three officers
of the Fifty-sixth, Goad, Fagan, and Warde, mounted on elephants, and
two Europeans, whose names and regiments I don't know, mounted on
another elephant, came out of the intrenchments and went to the river,
to inspect the boats. The gardener and I, taking some grapes, went up
to the officers, and told them that we were in a starving condition,
and wanted to come to our masters in the intrenchment. They said, 'No,
you can't come with us, but we shall come out to-morrow, and you shall
accompany us to Allahabad in boats.' Goad Sahib and Warde Sahib gave me
each two rupees. They told me that my master had died a natural death;
that my mistress was well, but slightly wounded; and that Miss Mary was
dead. Her death was caused by fright at the cannonade, and that she was
not wounded. On the twenty-seventh of June, a little before six A.M. as
many as could walk came out; some of the wounded in doolies, others of
whom were left behind. The party from the intrenchment was surrounded
by sepoys. I had great difficulty in reaching my mistress. I applied
to Annundeedeen, the Havildar-Major of the Fifty-sixth, who said the
thing was impossible. I appealed to him, and begged him to remember
the kindness he had received from the Colonel. After persuasion, he
said that he could not show his face before the Colonel's lady, but
directed four sepoys to take me to my mistress, and prevent my being
disturbed. I was then taken to my mistress, with whom were her two
daughters, Miss Georgiana, and Miss Fanny. They were in wretched
plight; scorched and blistered by the sun. My mistress had a slight
bullet-wound on the upper lip. She said that my master had died on the
eighth of June. My mistress then asked about the property left in the
house, and inquired about all the servants, and especially after the
cook. She then told me to go and fetch him, as she wanted him to go
down to Allahabad with her; and told me to go to her son in the Hills,
and inform him of all that had occurred. She told me to make every
endeavour to join her son as soon as the roads should be open, and to
show him the spot where the Colonel was buried. I told her I did not
know the spot. She said the groom who had remained with them in the
intrenchment would show it to me." To judge from the attachment of her
servants, Mrs. Williams must have ruled her household like a true lady
of the kindly old Anglo-Indian school.

No prayer was said, no blessing invoked, no passover eaten before
that inauspicious exodus. Moore went about from group to group, and
impressed upon his colleagues that it would be idle to attempt to
preserve order in the embarkation. His instructions were to push
off as soon as all had been got on board, and make for the opposite
shore, where further arrangements might be completed at leisure and in
comparative safety. And then a drink of water was handed in at the
door of each palanquin, and the expedition set forth. A mob of peasants
at once rushed upon the deserted premises, and spread themselves about
in quest of plunder. They might have spared their pains. A camel-rider,
who entered among the first, saw nothing except "three useless brass
guns that had been split, two leathern bottles of liquid butter, a sack
of fine flour, and the bodies of eleven Europeans. They were on quilts
on the floor, some of them still breathing, though dying from severe
gunshot wounds."

The show was not such as would dazzle a vulgar eye: but in the soul
of those with whom glory is not skin-deep, the retinue of an imperial
coronation would fail to inspire the reverence excited by that ragged
and spiritless cavalcade. First came the men of the Thirty-second
regiment, their dauntless captain at the head;--thinking little, as
ever, of the past, but much of the future;--and so marching unconscious
towards the death which he had often courted. Then moved on the
throng of naked bearers, groaning in monotonous cadence beneath the
weight of palanquins, through whose sliding panels might be discerned
the pallid forms of the wounded;--their limbs rudely bandaged with
shirtsleeves, and old stockings, and strips of gown and petticoat.
Mayhap, as they jolted along, they fed their sickly fancies with a
listless anticipation that the hour was not remote when they might
forget the miserable present amidst the joys of ice, and lemonade, and
clean sheets, and nourishment more appetising than parched grain and
bad pease-porridge. Behind these creaked a caravan of carts, dragged
by bullocks, on which were huddled ladies used to a very different
equipage; while here and there paced a stately elephant, his tusks
adorned with rings of brass, and his forehead painted in grotesque
patterns, who, perchance, a century back, was tugging a gun across
the field of Plassey, and who now bore a cluster of English women and
children clinging nervously to the ropes which encircled his huge
girth. And next, musket on shoulder and revolver in belt, followed
they who could still walk and fight. Step was not kept in those ranks.
Little was there of martial array, or soldier-like gait and attitude.
Lace might not be seen, nor embroidery, nor facings, nor uniforms
which could be recognised at the Horseguards or smiled on in county
ballrooms. In discoloured flannel and tattered nankeen, mute and in
pensive mood, tramped by the remnant of the immortal garrison. These
men had finished their toil and had fought their battle: and now, if
hope was all but dead within them, there survived, at least, no residue
of fear.

The last to quit the intrenchment was Major Vibart, of the Second
Cavalry. He brought up the rear of our column alone, amidst a numerous
escort of mutineers belonging to his late regiment, who insisted on
conveying his luggage down to the landing place;--a marked instance
of complaisance on the part of these gentlemen troopers. There were
many, however, among the rebels, who no longer thought it worth while
to dissemble. Lady Wheeler's ayah, a few minutes before, had been
presented by her mistress with a bag of rupees as an acknowledgment
of her fidelity. She now was forced to exchange her treasure for a
slash with a sabre. Some sepoys, who had stood by us to the last, were
seized and carried off in spite of the urgent expostulations of their
adjutant: and the hour approached when a brave woman was to meet that
face to face, the bitterness of which, to repeat her own language,
had already been tasted many, many times. Colonel and Mrs. Ewart had
started late; she on foot; he on a bed, carried by four native porters.
From one cause and another they made slow progress. The bearers were
lazy; and paid no attention to a Mem Sahib, whose husband, prostrate
with wounds, was unable to enforce her orders with his cane. Gradually
the main body drew farther and farther ahead of the helpless pair;
who, at length, like a sick child dreaming that he is kidnapped by
gipsies, saw the backs of the English rear-guard disappear round a
distant corner. As the litter came abreast of St. John's Church, seven
or eight rascals belonging to the Colonel's own battalion stepped up;
bade the porters set down their load and stand back; and began to mock
their victim, saying: "Is not this a fine parade, and is it not well
dressed up?" They then hewed him in pieces with their swords, and
afterwards turned to Mrs. Ewart, and desired her to throw down whatever
she had about her, and go her ways, for that she was a woman, and they
would not kill her. She took out of her dress a piece of stuff, with
something tied up in it, and delivered it to one of the gang, who
thereupon cut her down dead. Those who loved her, and they were many,
could not have wished it otherwise.

Presently the van reached the white rails of the wooden bridge, and,
leaving them on the left hand, turned aside into the fatal ravine. A
vast multitude, speechless and motionless as spectres, watched their
descent into that valley of the shadow of death. Only some sepoys,
gazing on the trappings of the elephants, said one to another: "They
are taken out of their fortress grandly. They go gladly. They know not
what is before them. Now let them repent of their misdeeds, and ask
pardon of God." Soon Tantia Topee, who for some while past had been
anxiously glancing towards the west, saw the white faces and gleaming
bayonets; saw the dark tops of the palanquins dancing up and down; saw
the howdahs swaying from right to left above the sea of heads. Then
he called to a bandsman who was in attendance, and directed him to
proceed up the lane, and sound his bugle when once the Europeans were
well within the trap. Slowly, very slowly, with many a halt and many an
entanglement, the unwieldy mass of men and brutes wound along the bed
of the torrent.

And now the last Englishman walked down into the lane; and immediately
the troops who had been appointed to that duty formed a double line
across the mouth of the gorge, and told all who were not concerned
to retire and keep aloof, for that within that passage there was no
admittance save on one baleful business. Meantime the embarkation was
progressing under serious difficulties. No temporary pier had been
provided, nor even a plank to serve as gangway. None of the Hindoo
boatmen or bearers spoke a word or lent a hand, while, standing
knee-deep in the stream, our officers hoisted in the wounded and
the women. Already they were themselves preparing to scramble on
board;--already the children were rejoicing over the sight of some
boiled rice which they had discovered in the corner of a barge;--when,
amidst the sinister silence which prevailed, the blast of a bugle came
pealing down the defile. Thereupon the native rowers leaped into the
water, and splashed towards dry ground; while those very troopers who
had conducted Major Vibart from the barrack with such professions of
esteem discharged their carbines at the nearest vessel. The Englishmen,
whose rifles were handy, at once opened fire, some on the traitorous
crews, others on the hypocritical scoundrels who had commenced the
attack. But of a sudden several of the straw roofs burst into a flame,
and almost the entire fleet was blazing in the twinkling of an eye.
The red-hot charcoal had done its work. At the same moment from either
shore broke forth a storm of grape and musketry. To the imagination of
our countrymen, oppressed and bewildered by the infernal tumult, it
seemed that the land was alive with a hundred cannon and a myriad of
sharpshooters. The wounded perished under the burning thatch, while
all who could shift for themselves dropped into the river. Of the
ladies, some crouching beneath the overhanging prows, some wading up
to their chins along the shelving bottom, sought shelter from the
bullets, which sprinkled the surface like falling rain. The men set
their shoulders against the planking, and tried to launch off into the
mid-current. But he who had chosen those moorings never intended that
the keels should leave the sandbank on which they lay. All the boats
stuck fast, save a poor three, of which two drifted across to the
Oude bank into the jaws of the perdition which in that quarter also
awaited their inmates. The third got clear away from the shallows,
and floated steadily down the main channel. Whether fortuitously,
or by the attraction of like to like, it so befell that the flower
of the defence was congregated between those bulwarks. There were
Vibart; and Whiting, good at need; and Ashe, bereaved of his beloved
nine-pounder; and Delafosse of the burning gun; and Bolton, snatched
once more from present destruction. There was Moore, with his arm slung
in a handkerchief; and Blenman, the bold spy; and Glanville of Barrack
Number Two; and Burney of the south-east battery. Fate seemed willing
to defer the hour which should extinguish those noble lives.

When, after the lapse of some twenty minutes, the dead began to
outnumber the living;--when the fire slackened, as the marks grew
few and far between:--then the troopers who had been drawn up to the
right of the temple plunged into the river, sabre between teeth, and
pistol in hand. Thereupon two half-caste Christian women, the wives
of musicians in the band of the Fifty-sixth, witnessed a scene which
should not be related at second-hand. "In the boat where I was to have
gone," says Mrs. Bradshaw, confirmed throughout by Mrs. Setts, "was
the schoolmistress and twenty-two missies. General Wheeler came last,
in a palkee. They carried him into the water near the boat. I stood
close by. He said 'Carry me a little further towards the boat.' But a
trooper said: 'No; get out here.' As the general got out of the palkee,
head foremost, the trooper gave him a cut with his sword into the neck,
and he fell into the water. My son was killed near him. I saw it: alas!
alas! Some were stabbed with bayonets; others cut down. Little infants
were torn in pieces. We saw it; we did; and tell you only what we saw.
Other children were stabbed and thrown into the river. The school girls
were burnt to death. I saw their clothes and hair catch fire. In the
water, a few paces off, by the next boat, we saw the youngest daughter
of Colonel Williams. A sepoy was going to kill her with his bayonet.
She said, 'My father was always kind to sepoys.' He turned away, and
just then a villager struck her on the head with his club, and she
fell into the water." These people likewise saw good Mr. Moncrieff,
the clergyman, take a book from his pocket that he never had leisure
to open, and heard him commence a prayer for mercy which he was not
permitted to conclude. Another deponent observed a European making for
a drain like a scared water-rat, when some boatmen, armed with cudgels,
cut off his retreat, and beat him down dead into the mud.

At this point those Englishmen who had learned to use their limbs
in the water, perceiving that all was lost, with a hurried last look
and a parting shudder, stripped, and made for Vibart's boat, which
just then was aground not far from the opposite shore. Thomson swam,
and Private Murphy, neither for the last time. Three cavalry soldiers
chased Lieutenant Harrison on to a small island two hundred yards
from the land. One only waded back again, quicker than he came; while
Harrison made the best of his way to the stranded vessel, and clambered
over the side, satisfied at having taught his pursuers that it was
never safe to trifle with a Sahib, as long as he had breath in his
body and a charge in a single chamber. Few were vigorous or fortunate
as he. Their strength failed some; while more than one stout swimmer,
shot dead in the middle of his stroke, rolled over and sank amidst the
reddening tide. Of the two Hendersons, the younger went down in his
brother's sight, while the elder hardly struggled in with a shattered
hand through the pattering mitraillade. At length all were on board
who had not disappeared below the waves; and, by dint of hard shoving,
the boat scraped herself off the shoal, and continued her sluggish and
devious course:--that hapless Argo with her freight of heroes.

"At nine, or half-past nine in the morning," writes Nanukchund, who was
in hiding at a neighbouring village, "I heard the report of cannon,
and immediately despatched my servant for news, and to learn why
guns were being fired. At about noon, more or less, he returned, and
reported that the people who came to bathe in the Ganges informed him
that the intrenchment had been taken by the rebels, and the corpses
of Europeans were floating down the river. The villagers exclaim, in
their village dialect, that the Ganges has turned crimson, and it
is impossible to look upon it. The terror and alarm that now seizes
me baffles description. It seems sacrilege to take any sort of food
or drink. I can think of nothing but moving about from side to side
with terror." Besides Nanukchund, there was another, whose agitation,
arising from very different passions, displayed itself by the same
noticeable symptom. A rich Hindoo, even though he be not of such gross
habit as was the Nana, never walks a step unless under dire compulsion:
and yet, during the early forenoon, Dhoondoo Punth seldom rested quiet
in his chair, but paced to and fro in front of his tent, straining his
ears to catch the noise of horse-hoofs. At last a trooper galloped down
with the tidings that all was going well, and that the Peishwa would
soon obtain ample compensation for his ancient wrong. The Maharaja
bade the courier return to the field of action, bearing a verbal order
to keep the women alive, but kill all the males. By the time Tantia's
aide-de-camp returned to his chief, the latter injunction appeared
all but superfluous: though there was still something to be done.
The sepoys posted on the Oude bank had excepted certain Englishmen
from the slaughter of the two boatfuls which had fallen into their
hands. These, to the sum of seventeen, they now sent over as their
contribution. On reference being made to the Maharaja, he graciously
acknowledged the present, and desired a firing-party to be told off;
suggesting, however, that powder should not be wasted on the wounded.
His directions were obeyed to the letter. A couple of files were
likewise detached to see that the sufferers who still lingered in the
intrenchment did not take too long to die.

Meanwhile the women and children, whom the shot had missed and the
flames spared, had been collected and brought to land in evil case.
Many were pulled out from under the charred woodwork of the boats,
and others were driven up from four feet depth of water. Before they
emerged from the river, some of the ladies were roughly handled by
the troopers, who tore away such ornaments as caught their fancy with
little regard for ear or finger. But, when all had been assembled on
the landing-place, sentries were posted around, with a strict charge
to suffer no one to molest the prisoners. There they sat, a hundred
and twenty and five by count, some on logs of timber, and others
in the trodden sand, a very feeble company in sore distress. Their
destitution aroused the compassion of a party of water-carriers, who
gave them drink out of the skin's mouth, as they cowered beneath
the pitiless sun. On the shore of the Ganges, in the midst of that
devilish horde, those English girls and matrons abode till the
morning was almost spent. And then they were led back along the road
which they had traversed a few hours before; not as they came, for
nothing was left them now, save a new grief and a sharper terror. In
front, behind, and on either side, surged along a crowd of sepoys,
exulting with an unholy joy, and rich with inglorious spoils. This one
carried a girdleful of rupees and broken jewellery. That had secured
a double-barrelled fowling-piece, marked with a name illustrious in
the London trade. Another dragged a fine setter or Skye terrier, the
pride of some cadet who, in too harsh a school, had taken his first
and last lesson of war. They started beside the Fisherman's Temple.
They threaded the winding lane. They plodded wearily past the white
railing and the European bazaar; past the chapel, and the racket-court,
and the ruinous intrenchment. Through the disputed line of outposts,
and across the plain they went, until the procession halted before the
pavilion of the Maharaja; who, after reviewing his captives, ordered
them to be transported to the Savada House, and there confined until
further notice. Two large rooms, where a number of native soldiers had
slept nightly during the previous month, were cleared out for their
reception; and a guard placed over them from the ranks of the Sixth
regiment, which had lately marched in from Allahabad.

"I saw that many of the ladies were wounded," says one who watched
them go by. "Their clothes had blood on them. Two were badly hurt, and
had their heads bound up with handkerchiefs. Some were wet, covered
with mud and blood; and some had their dresses torn, but all had
clothes. I saw one or two children without clothes. There were no
men in the party, but only some boys of twelve or thirteen years of
age." Another eye-witness remarks: "The ladies' clothing was wet and
soiled, and some of them were barefoot. Many were wounded. Two of them
I observed well, as being wounded in the leg and under the arm." To
such a plight had come the bloom which once, fresh from the breezes of
home, charmed and puzzled Calcutta; and the toilettes whose importation
and inspection supplied matter for a month's conjecture, and a week's
happy occupation. Where were now the tact, the cultivation, and all the
indefinable graces of refined womanhood? Simplicity and affectation,
amiability and pride, coquetry and reserve, discretion and sweet
susceptibility, were here confounded in a dull uniformity of woe.

Four Englishwomen, and three others of mixed parentage, were
appropriated and carried off by the soldiers of the Second Cavalry; a
corps which, now that the fighting was over, never lost an opportunity
of distinguishing itself. These men were summoned into the presence
of the Nana, who remonstrated with them at some length, and insisted
that the whole seven should be restored without delay. It may be that
he regarded his prisoners as hostages, and was unwilling that they
should be scattered about in places where he could not lay his hand
upon them at the precise moment when his life or power might be at
stake. All obeyed promptly, with the exception of Ali Khan, a young
trooper, described as of "a fair complexion; height about five feet
seven inches; long nose; dark eyes; wears a beard and small moustache."
This fellow had selected, as his share of the booty, the youngest
daughter of Sir Hugh. He must have been one of a pair who were observed
"leading away from the boats a lady on horseback. She wore a green
chintz gown, which appeared to be wet. She seemed to be eighteen or
nineteen years of age." Ali Khan now contrived to spread a report
that his victim flung herself down a well, after killing her captor,
his wife, and his three children. His device met with extraordinary
success. In Hindostan it is never a very difficult matter to find
witnesses who will swear to anything; and, before long, a private in
the Second began to remember that he had been passing his comrade's
door when Miss Wheeler came out, with a sword in her hand, and said:
"Go in and see how nicely I have rubbed the Corporal's feet." Another
individual, blessed with an elastic memory, had been present at the
dragging of the well, and had seen "Missy Baba taken out, dead and
swollen." The impudent fabrication was generally accepted in the city
and the cantonments; and met with ready credence in England, where the
imaginations of men were excited by a series of prurient and ghastly
fictions. Under one shape or another the incident long went the round
of provincial theatres, and sensation magazines, and popular lectures
illustrated with dissolving views. Meanwhile the poor girl was living
quietly in the family of her master under a Mahomedan name. Our police
made diligent inquiries, which resulted in a strong conviction that
she had accompanied the flight of the rebels, and, after being hurried
about from camping-ground to camping-ground, had met a natural death
in a corner of Nepaul. She was by no means of pure English blood. To
some the very statement of the fact may appear heartless, but truth
demands that it should be made.

The ladies on board the escaped vessel had no reason to congratulate
themselves on their fortune: for they were embarked on a voyage which,
for concentrated misery, has no parallel even among the narratives of
famous shipwrecks so dear to the taste of our forefathers. Soon after
leaving the shore, Major Vibart had taken a large party off a sinking
boat; so that more than five-score persons were crowded into a space
which could barely accommodate fifty. It was difficult to propel the
craft, and impossible to guide her. A shot from the southern bank sent
her spinning round in the current, with a broken rudder; and the native
boatmen had taken good care to leave behind neither oar nor punt-pole.
Alternately stranding and drifting; paddling with planks torn from the
bulwarks, and trying to steer with a spare stretcher; our countrymen
tended down towards Allahabad at the rate of half a mile an hour, under
a shower of canister and shells from either bank. "We were often," says
Thomson, "within a hundred yards of the guns on the Oude side of the
river, and saw them load, prime, and fire into our midst." Presently
the bullocks which drew the sepoy artillery broke down in the deep sand
of the Ganges; but incessant volleys of musketry, at point blank range,
allowed our countrymen little leisure to rejoice over the intermission
of the cannonade.

That day dismissed to Hades many valiant souls of warriors, and left
their bodies a prize for dogs and every kind of fowl. But the will of
God was accomplished. Ashe and Bolton leaped out to help haul the boat
off a sunken bank: and a few minutes later she proceeded on her way
without those two young Sahibs whom a thousand bullets had spared to
perish here. Moore, regardless of an ill-set collar-bone, was pushing
with might and main, when a musket-ball pierced his gallant heart.
One and the same round shot at length killed Burney, and at length
Glanville; and so maltreated a third officer that it would have been
well had he died likewise. The wounded and the slain lay entangled
together amidst the broken flooring. It was a matter of extreme
difficulty to extricate the corpses from the bottom of the vessel: but
the desire of decreasing her draft, and the intense heat of what proved
to be the last day of that year's dry weather, obliged the crew to cast
overboard the dear but useless cargo.

About five o'clock that evening the boat settled down deep in the
sand. Our countrymen waited patiently till the sunset allowed them
to disembark the women under the screen of darkness. Having thus
lightened their unwieldy ark, they set to with a will, and succeeded
eventually in getting her adrift. The rebels did what they could to
impede the operation. They launched a fire-ship down the current,
which came within a few feet of its mark; and, when this contrivance
had miscarried, they shot off a flight of arrows tipped with lighted
charcoal Though no very skilful archers, they could not well help
hitting the thatched roof which loomed through the dusk like the top
of a great barn: so that our people thought it better to cut away
and tumble into the flood the entire framework of straw and bamboo.
No one slept that night, and no one ate: for food there was none on
board. They had abundance of water: for Ganges flowed beneath; and
from overhead descended a light and refreshing shower, the unfailing
precursor of the annual deluge.

When the day broke, those of our officers who had learned the bearings
of the locality during many a hot tramp after snipe and wild-fowl saw
with chagrin that they had hardly gained ten miles in twice as many
hours. And yet that dawn brought one last glimmer of hope. The wet
weather had arrived: the river would soon be mounting fast: and nothing
was to be seen of the enemy. Presently some natives walked down the
bank for their morning wash; and Vibart sent on shore a native drummer,
with five rupees in his hand, and directions to obtain information,
and, if possible, some provisions. He accosted a peasant, who desisted
from the occupation of cleaning his mouth with a bit of stick chewed
into a tooth-brush, and listened very civilly to what our envoy had to
say. This man undertook to procure some rice and flour, but assured
the drummer that our people would have no further need of victuals, as
Baboo Ram Bux, a powerful noble whose estates lay a little further down
on the Oude side, had engaged that not an Englishman should pass his
territory alive. He, however, showed no objection to take our money,
and went inland, leaving behind his brass drinking-vessel to guarantee
his fidelity: a pledge which he never came back to redeem. On hearing
the report of their messenger the fugitives agreed to despair. After
the manner of becalmed and starving mariners, Whiting pencilled some
lines on a scrap of paper, which he enclosed in a bottle, and committed
to the stream: the faithless stream, that has never rendered up the sad
deposit.

At two in the afternoon the barge struck off a village called
Nuzzufgur, which was within the boundary of Ram Bux. Straightway the
shore was covered with a multitude of feudal militia, intermingled
with sepoys and mounted troopers. A gun was brought forward, and
unlimbered; but, while the artillerymen were taking their aim, there
came down from heaven that unbroken sheet of water for which men had
been looking during the past fortnight. The rains had begun in earnest.
The piece could only be discharged once; but the storm did not protect
our people from a keen fusillade. Whiting fell dead; and Harrison's
trusty revolver here availed him nothing; and dark Blenman, sorely
hurt, implored a comrade to put an end to his wayward existence. Vibart
was shot through the arm, and his subordinates, Quin and Seppings;
while Mrs. Seppings and Captain Turner of the First Infantry were badly
wounded in the leg. After five hours of this bitter work there hove in
sight a boat manned by fifty or sixty mutineers, armed to the teeth,
who had been deputed by the Nana to follow and destroy the relics of
our force. This vessel, likewise, ran on a sandbank; not altogether
against the inclination of the crew, who did not relish the notion of
forming themselves into a boarding-party. They liked the idea still
less when a score of Englishmen came dashing at them through the
shallows. The half-dozen ablest swimmers alone escaped to tell their
master that, after all they had gone through, those extraordinary
Sahibs were the same as ever.

Amidst pelting rain and freshening wind the second night closed in.
Faint and hungry they sank asleep, those men who would only yield to
death. At midnight some of their number awoke, and became conscious
that they were again afloat. It was blowing a hurricane; the stream
had risen; and there were found those who hoped. But daylight told
another story, for it revealed that they had turned aside out of the
navigable channel into a back water, from which egress was none. And
then their vessel grounded, and the musketry recommenced. Vibart, who
was already dying with a ball through either arm, desired Thomson and
Delafosse to land and beat away the enemy, while those who remained
attempted to ease off the boat. The two officers selected a sergeant
and eleven rank and file of various regiments; and the party sallied
forth, fortunate in that it was appointed for some to tread once more
on English soil, and for the rest at least to die sword in hand. They
had not departed many minutes when a host of insurgents poured down
upon the helpless troop of women and wounded men, like wolves upon a
flock of sheep deserted by their dogs. The boat was captured after a
short but murderous conflict, and escorted back to Cawnpore by a strong
body of horse and foot.

Thomson and Delafosse had enough on their hands already, and could do
little or nothing towards a rescue. On gaining the shore they drove
the foe in style over a considerable space; but were imperceptibly
surrounded in flank and rear by fresh swarms of rebels. Then they
faced about, and cut their way back to the place whence they started,
bleeding, but undiminished in number. They recognised the spot, but
the boat was gone, and so the little troop, reduced henceforward to
travel afoot, followed the course of the stream; partly on the slender
chance of catching up their lost companions; partly from an instinctive
feeling which drew them in the direction of Allahabad, as the wounded
rabbit makes for its burrow, or the winged partridge scurries to
the nearest hedge. With an interval of twenty paces between man and
man, to lessen the hazard of the hostile musketry, they retreated
step by step, loading and firing as best they might upon the horde
of pursuers, who pressed nearer and ever nearer. Shoeless on rugged
ground, bareheaded beneath the burning sun, they fought over three
weary miles of alternate rock and sand, until all but one got safe into
a little temple, or "Sammy-house," as it is called in the jargon spoken
by the British private in India; a jargon which he himself denominates
"Moors." This rustic shrine, situated about a hundred yards from the
river-brink, was just large enough to contain the thirteen as they
stood erect. The mob of natives charged helter-skelter at the doorway,
which was raised three feet above the surrounding earth; but there
was no room for any of them inside, and they presently retired to a
distance, except the eight or ten who had managed to squeeze themselves
to the front. Clio cannot repress a smile as she records that among
those who learned by experience that the rust of the rainy season had
not yet blunted the British bayonets was a brother of Baboo Ram Bux;
the inhospitable chieftain who knew no reverence for suppliants who
had sought sanctuary in the precincts of his local gods, and who now
sent an express to the Nana to the effect that the Nazarenes were still
invincible.

Our countrymen after this enjoyed a short respite, during which they
shared a pint or two of putrid water which had collected at the
bottom of a hole in the stone altar. Unfortunately the piety of the
neighbourhood had of late failed to contribute any oblations of fruit
or cakes, which would certainly not have been respected by the famished
Christians. But the insurgents soon returned to the attack; made an
unsuccessful attempt to dig up the foundations; and finally, with the
view of smoking the besieged out of their citadel, constructed and
set alight a large pile of faggots. It was not till the enemy showed
signs of an intention to mend the fire with some bags of gunpowder
that the garrison began to be seriously alarmed. Then they rushed out,
scattering the embers with their bare feet, and leaped the parapet
which enclosed the plot of dedicated ground. Six, who could not swim,
ran full into the middle of the crowd, carrying their lives for sale to
the best market. Seven reached the bank, and flung in their firelocks,
and then themselves. The lead in their pouches dragged them so far down
that the first flight of bullets splashed harmless on the troubled
surface. By the time the sepoys had reloaded their pieces, a score of
rapid strokes had rendered our countrymen by no means easy targets for
an excited Hindoo marksman. Two were shot through the head. Another,
overcome with exhaustion, turned over on his back, and yielded to
the stream, which impelled him towards a shoal where his murderers
were awaiting him with uplifted bludgeons. The others resisted the
blandishments of the wily foe, who endeavoured to coax them within push
of lance by offers of food and life, and, ducking like coots at the
flash of musketry, swam, and floated, and swam again; while Ganges,
as if resenting the desecration of his holy waves by such an Iliad of
bloodshed, bare bravely up the chin of these fugitives who had confided
themselves to his protection. One by one the hunters desisted from the
chase. A trooper on horseback kept the game in view for some miles; but
in the end he too fell behind, and was no more seen.

The four Englishmen were sitting up to their necks in water, two good
leagues below the point where they first plunged, when the sound of
approaching voices again sent them diving after the manner of otters
surprised by the throng of hounds and spearmen. As they rose to the
upper air, they were greeted with a shout of, "Sahib! Sahib! Why keep
away? We are friends." The new-comers, however, were so formidable
in aspect and equipment that Thomson refused to come to land until,
after a short parley, they volunteered to throw their weapons into
the river as a proof of their sincerity. Their assurances of amity
afforded our countrymen a passable excuse for giving in, without
inspiring any great amount of confidence. At the very worst, a blow
on the head or a thrust in the chest killed more expeditiously than
drowning or inanition. It was better to die and have done with it,
than to endure all the torment of death without the repose, as of late
had seemed to be their apportioned lot. And so they turned, and swam
in, and were helped ashore naked as Ulysses when he was washed up on
the Phæacian coast after his wrestle with the Adriatic surf. Like him,
their knees and wrists gave away beneath them: for their vigour was
subdued by long toil among the billows: and their bodies were livid
and swollen; and much water oozed from mouth and nostril; and they lay
without breath, and speech, and well nigh without life, stricken by an
exceeding weariness. They had between them a flannel shirt, a strip of
linen cloth, and five severe wounds. Exposure to the heat had puffed
the skin of their shoulders with huge blisters, as if their clothes had
been burned off their backs by fire. But they found an Alcinöus in the
person of Dirigbijah Singh, a loyal gentleman of Oude; the landlord
of that district, and the chieftain to whom their captors owed
feudal allegiance. Good-natured as they proved to be, these fellows
could not resist the temptation of plundering the Englishmen who had
been so unaccountably delivered into their hands. They abstracted a
cap-pouchful of rupees which poor Murphy had tied under his right
knee, the nominal price, it may be, of some buckets drawn at a risk
which could not be valued in money. After lying for a while wrapped in
blankets, the refugees recovered strength sufficient to allow of their
being supported to the nearest village, over a distance which appeared
to them more miles than it was furlongs in reality. They were taken to
the hut of the headman, who received them kindly, and set before them
lentil porridge, wheat cakes, and preserves, of which they eat like men
who had fed little and badly during a month past, and for seventy hours
had not fed at all.

After a long meal and a short nap the Englishmen set out for the fort
where Dirigbijah Singh resided; Thomson clad with the solitary shirt,
and Delafosse in a borrowed rug. Private Murphy and Gunner Sullivan
were suffering too much from recent wounds to care about appearances.
The officers resigned to them an elephant which had been despatched for
their conveyance, and bestrode a pony, like a pair of needy and valiant
knights belonging to a primitive order. As they passed through the
villages, peasants came forth with milk and sweatmeats, and discovered
that the Sahibs had changed their opinion as to the acceptability of
"dollies;" those presents of Oriental dainties which collectors and
commissioners contemptuously make over to their servants, reserving a
handful of pistachio nuts for the children, and a box of Cabul grapes
to improve the dessert of their next dinner-party. Darkness set in ere
the cavalcade rode up to the fort of Moorar Mhow. The rajah, an old
man of venerable presence, was seated in the open air encircled by
his sons, his body-guard, his tenants, and his torch-bearers, to the
number of some hundred and fifty persons. He requested our countrymen
to alight; inquired minutely into the story of the siege; evinced warm
approbation of their courage, and wonder at their escape; and after
promising his countenance and hospitality, sent them indoors to an
abundant repast washed down with native wine. Tired of everything save
eating, they supped right well, and then, stretched on horse-litter and
covered with a bit of carpet, the wanderers rested at last. Soundly
they slumbered that night; and soundly, too, slumbered their six
comrades, on whom the moon looked down through her watery veil as they
lay around the little temple amidst the trampled brushwood, on their
brow the frown of battle, and in their breast the wound that doth not
shame.

Here the four Englishmen remained for three weeks unmolested and
tolerably happy. They had spent at least one equal period of time in
far less comfortable quarters. They wore coats and trousers cut by a
native tailor. Their hurts were poulticed by a native doctor. They sat
down thrice a day with British appetites to a meal of native food;
and, whenever there was nothing else to be done, they slept. Heedless
of the flies, which clustered about their bandaged limbs; careless
of the future, and willingly oblivious of the past,--they dreamed,
and woke, and yawned, and shifted their straw, and settled themselves
down for another fit of drowsiness. Azimoolah might have his eye upon
them: the Nana might have spoken the word of doom: up to Delhi and
down to Patna every pass might be blockaded by a rebel post: but for
the present they could doze, morning, noon, and eve. Their principal
diversion consisted in viewing the performance by the Rajah and his
priests of some quaint and pretty domestic rites. The master of the
house paid them a daily and very pleasant visit; and his good lady sent
constantly to ask after the welfare of the strangers, whose fearless
deportment under their abject and precarious circumstances she had
noted with womanly interest, as she gazed, herself invisible, from
behind the fretted stone-work which fenced her verandah.

Thomson and his companions were forbidden by their host to set foot
outside the circuit of the walls: as the vicinity was infested with
rebels, who already regarded the country as their own, and appeared to
imagine themselves welcome anywhere. There were generally some of them
inside the fort, vapouring about, sword on thigh and matchlock in hand,
and pestering the domestics to get them a sight of the Sahibs. The
soldiers of the Cawnpore brigade were indulged in frequent interviews
with their former officers, always in the presence of a detachment
from the Rajah's body-guard. These mutineers were full of the great
things that were going to be done in the course of the next year by
the armies of the religious. A trooper had been despatched to Moscow
on a camel, and was to return with a host of Russian Mussulmans. Such
Englishmen as had not yet been knocked on the head were to be secured
and shipped off at Calcutta; and afterwards the Nana would embark for
Europe, conquer our island, and make it over to Hindoo shareholders
constituted into a joint-stock Kumpani. That magic word would conjure
up a fresh train of ideas, and they would descant upon the flagrant
iniquity of Lord Dalhousie, and maintain that, had it not been for the
annexation of Oude, the empire of John Kumpani might have endured for
all time: but that it was not so ordained; inasmuch as the ancient
oracles, which could not lie, had allotted to that empire a duration
of a hundred years, and no more. This prediction came true, but not in
the sense anticipated by the leaders of the insurrection. The honour
of justifying this prophecy was reserved for Sir Charles Wood and Lord
Stanley; not for Azimoolah and the Maharaja of Bithoor. That potentate
repeatedly summoned Dirigbijah Singh to deliver up the refugees to
his regal arbitrement: but the stout old fellow answered that he held
of His Majesty the King of Oude, and knew nothing of Seereek Dhoondoo
Punth and his pretensions to royalty. Havelock and Neill soon provided
the Nana with more pressing business than the pursuit of his vengeance,
or the assertion of his supremacy.

The Rajah came to the conclusion that a change of domicile was
essential to the security of our countrymen, about the time that they
were growing sated of laughing at sepoy bluster, and watching the
Brahmins of the household ring bells and sprinkle flowers with holy
water. They accordingly retired to the seclusion of a hamlet bordering
on the river, where they amused themselves as best they could with a
volume bearing the inscription "53rd Regiment Native Infantry Book
Club;" which had been picked out of the stream by one among their
attendants, as it floated by amidst a quantity of torn papers and
smashed furniture: so many indications of the minute and searching
character of the mischief that was being wrought above. After the
lapse of a week, the Rajah sent them across to a landholder of his
acquaintance, who lived on the south bank, and who undertook to hand
them on to the nearest European encampment. They took leave of their
chivalrous preserver with many expressions of unaffected regret, and
a silent resolution never to rest until he had received some tangible
mark of their gratitude and regard. On reaching the other shore their
new patron packed them off towards Allahabad by a cross-road, in a
bullock-cart without springs, preceded by an escort of four armed
retainers. After bumping along for an hour the driver stopped, and
informed them, in low and agitated tones, that there were guns ahead,
planted athwart their path. And so they alighted, those way-worn
fugitives, solicitous to learn whether they should again have to run,
and swim, and lurk, and starve; and they crept stealthily along the
edge of the road, and, turning the corner, found themselves within a
few yards of the white and freckled face of an English sentry.

Five years subsequently Murphy left his old regiment, and volunteered
for India in another corps. Presently it began to be rumoured at
mess that there was a man in the ranks who had gone through the
siege and the slaughter of Cawnpore. The Colonel made all necessary
inquiries, and reported the matter to the Commander-in-chief: who at
once appointed Murphy custodian of the Memorial Gardens. Here he may
be seen, in the balmy forenoons of the cold weather, sauntering about
in a pith helmet and linen jacket; a decent little Irishman, very
ready to give a feeling and intelligent account of what took place
under his immediate observation, and insisting much on the fact that
he and the gunner, unable to speak a syllable of "Moors," would have
been helpless but for the knowledge of Hindoostanee possessed by the
sepoy officers. He retains a lively impression of the eagerness with
which the English privates whom they encountered on the Allahabad
highway contributed their allowances of liquor to treat the men who
had not tasted beer for eight summer weeks. He points out the stone
beneath which reposes poor Sullivan, who died of fatigue and debility,
taking the form of cholera, within a fortnight of his restoration to
safety. Delafosse lived once more to play the man, fighting under
Chamberlain in the passes of the Hindoo Koosh: and Thomson to compose
the story of what he had seen and undergone, so told that it may be
read by a Christian without horror, and by an educated person without
disgust. He was of opinion that a soldier who had performed his duty
should not stoop to the vocabulary of a hangman. This man, scarred
from head to heel with sepoy bullets,--who had carried his life in
his hand for months together,--who had lost friends, possessions, and
health in the frightful mêlée,--could still write like a modest and
tolerant gentleman: while officers, to whom the rebellion had brought
nothing except promotion and chance of distinction, were declaiming
and printing about battues, and fine bags, and tucking up niggers, and
polishing off twenty brace of Pandies. He made it his care that the
worthy Rajah of Moorar Mhow should be rewarded with a handsome pension;
that the faithful sepoys of his own battalion should obtain credit for
their loyalty; that a fitting monument should be erected to the memory
of his dead comrades; and that the services of his living companions
in arms should not pass unrecorded. He left it for others to exult
when shopkeepers and bankers, whose property had been confiscated by
the Nana, and plundered by our own mutinous troops, were condemned and
executed for having acknowledged a _de facto_ monarch; when pedlars and
bazaar-porters were strung up by scores to a gallows planted across the
mouth of the funereal well: truly a graceful tribute to the manes of
gentle English women.[4]

At five in the evening on the twenty-eighth of June, the Nana held a
state review in honour of his victory of the preceding day. His force
looked well on paper, and made a very respectable show in the field.
There turned out six entire regiments of foot, and two of horse;
besides strong detachments from battalions which had been disbanded at
a distance from Cawnpore. The ranks of the artillery were perceptibly
thinned by three weeks of desperate fighting. To them was especially
due the success of the cause: and they now bore the brunt of the
rejoicing. Few but zealous, they worked their pieces with a will, and
fired away their ammunition as if henceforward there was no occasion
for keeping any against the day of battle; as if the clubs of villagers
and the daggers of banditti might safely be trusted to gather up the
leavings of the sepoys. Bala Rao was welcomed on to the ground with
seventeen discharges. The Maharaja himself at length enjoyed the
compliment of the royal reception which had been so ardently coveted
and so strenuously denied. He was greeted on his appearance by the
full sum of twenty-one explosions, each bought with a day of carnage.
His ears tingling at the unaccustomed sensation, he congratulated
the mutineers on their common triumph, and promised to distribute a
hundred thousand rupees as an instalment of the debt which he owed to
the army: an announcement that produced a repetition of the salute.
Then he took his departure: but the enthusiasm which he left behind
could evaporate only in a wholesale expenditure of Government powder.
The nephew of the Nana, and his brother Baba Bhut, were each honoured
with seventeen reports. Bala, who was deservedly a favourite with
that gang of disciplined assassins, came in for a second bout of
eleven guns: while Jwala Pershad and Tantia Topee got the same number
a-piece. This closed the proceedings: during which Tantia, whose mind
had decidedly a practical cast, was better employed than in listening
to an idle cannonade. He was closeted with a man of business named
Dabeedeen, liquidating accounts with the owners of the flotilla which
had been sunk or burned. Between four and five thousand rupees were
paid over as compensation for the boats; and fifty pounds were put
aside to remunerate the bargemen for their share in the operations. It
was afterwards asserted that Dabeedeen took undue precautions to avoid
cheating himself in the transaction.

On the morrow, some boys loitering about on the Oude side of the river
came upon an English officer skulking in a ravine. He was of tall
stature, and about forty years old, with a bit of sacking twisted round
his waist, but otherwise naked. The children imparted their discovery
to the peasants of an adjoining hamlet, who took the fugitive to their
headman. The unhappy gentleman did not speak any native language,
and could only point towards the East with an imploring gesture, and
pronounce the word "Lucknow." They gave him sugar, which he eat up
greedily with both hands, and so afforded a bystander an opportunity
for observing that he bore the mark of a ring fresh on his finger.
Touched by the contrast of his fallen state, these good people showed a
disposition to do what they could for his preservation; but just then
some landholders of the neighbourhood arrived at the head of a numerous
array, and prevailed over these benevolent intentions by threats of
present violence and future punishment. A short while afterwards, an
ex-clerk of the commissariat department met fifty or sixty fellows
"with drawn sabres and lighted matches, bringing along a Sahib bound."
They halted under a grove which stood near the chapel of ease, and sent
one of their party to fetch the Nana. In his stead came Baba Bhut, and,
in the name of his brother, bade them kill their prisoner. To this they
answered: "Put weapons into his hand, and let him strike us, and then
we will strike in return: but we will not slay him thus." Some troopers
of the Second Cavalry, who happened to be in attendance, had a less
nice theory of honour. Three-quarters of an hour subsequently, while
the clerk was performing his ablutions, the corpse was thrown into the
Ganges, gashed all over with sword-cuts.

All the night of the twenty-ninth our people who had been captured
at Nuzzufgur by Baboo Ram Bux were slowly remounting the stream.
As it grew light they began to recognise objects and places which
they had trusted never again to behold: and, two hours before noon,
the doomed boatload lay to at the landing-place whence they had set
forth, to return thus after three such days as had not repaid them for
the trouble of making their escape. What ensued an Englishman would
willingly tell in phrases not his own. The following account was taken
from the lips of a native spy, and is supported by a mass of evidence.
The mention of General Wheeler is, of course, inaccurate.

"There were brought back," says the man, "sixty Sahibs, twenty-five
Mem Sahibs, and four children. The Nana ordered the Sahibs to be
separated from the Mem Sahibs, and shot by the First Bengal Native
Infantry. But they said, 'We will not shoot Wheeler Sahib, who has
made our regiment's name great, and whose son is our Quarter-master.
Neither will we kill the Sahib people. Put them in prison.' Then said
the Nadiree regiment: 'What word is this? Put them in prison? We will
kill the males.' So the Sahibs were seated on the ground: and two
companies of the Nadiree regiment stood with their muskets, ready to
fire. Then said one of the Mem Sahibs, the doctor's wife: (What doctor?
How should I know?) 'I will not leave my husband. If we must die,
I will die with him.' So she ran, and sat down behind her husband,
clasping him round the waist. Directly she said this, the other Mem
Sahibs said: 'We also will die with our husbands.' And they all sat
down, each by her husband. Then their husbands said: 'Go back;' but
they would not. Whereupon the Nana ordered his soldiers; and they,
going in, pulled them away forcibly. But they could not pull away the
doctor's wife, who there remained. Then the Padre called out to the
Nana, and requested leave to read prayers before they died." (This
Padre was Captain Seppings, with his broken arm. The doctor's wife,
good soul, is known to have been Mrs. Boyes.) "The Nana granted it, and
the Padre's hands were loosened so far as to enable him to take a small
book from his pocket, with which he read. But all this time one of the
Sahibs, who was shot in the arm, kept crying out to the sepoys: 'If you
mean to kill us, why don't you set about it quickly and have the work
done?'" Poor impatient Sahib! Making the responses in his passionate
way! "After the Padre had read a few prayers, he shut the book, and
the Sahibs shook hands all round. Then the sepoys fired. One Sahib
rolled one way, one another, as they sat. But they were not dead: only
wounded. So they went in and finished them off with swords."

Here is a thing which was actually done on the last Tuesday of June,
eight years back from the present date. Three months before, these
Sahibs and Mem Sahibs were passing an existence no more eventful, and
apparently no less secure than the career of a county-court judge,
or a military man quartered at Sheffield or Colchester. They laid
their plans for the Meerut race-meeting and the biennial trip to an
Himalayan station in a confidence of fruition equal to that with which
a home-staying public servant anticipates the cup-day at Ascot, and the
pass which he is going to discover in September. In April, Cawnpore
society was lamenting the departure of one period of cold weather,
and looking forward to the arrival of another; but, ere the rains
had well set in, it had come to this, that the last batch of English
officers were lying stiff and stark on the parade-ground, in front
of the building where their widows and orphans were enduring a brief
imprisonment for life.

The number of captives had yet to receive a final addition. At the
station of Futtehgur, which was situated about seventy miles up the
river from Cawnpore, some hundred and eighty English people of every
age and profession were alive when the month of June commenced. The
cantonments were occupied by the Tenth Native Infantry, under the
command of Colonel Smith, a man distinguished by courage so closely
allied with rashness, and firmness so nearly akin to obstinacy, that
the European residents could not have fared worse had they been under
the charge of a waverer or a coward. He was a zealous adherent of that
sect among the Bengal officers which worshipped the sepoy. A willing
martyr to the creed that he professed, his devotion would have excused
his fanaticism, had he been the only victim: but no personal calamity
can atone for pedantry which staked and lost nine score English
souls on the truth of the axiom that a mutineer was still docile and
affectionate until he could be proved a murderer.

During the latter half of May successive tidings of massacre,
insurrection, and, finally, of an approaching rebel force, excited
the fears of our countrymen, and the impious hopes of the soldiery:
as turbulent a set of scamps as any in Northern India. At length Mr.
Probyn, the magistrate of the district, whose acute discernment, if
left to itself, would have saved a large asset of life from the wreck
of our fortunes, took measures for evacuating Futtehgur before the
extreme crisis. He put himself into communication with Hurdeo Bux, a
loyal noble whose estates lay on the left bank, and obtained an escort
of fifty picked men and the offer of an asylum. At midnight, between
the third and fourth of June, more than a hundred of the English
inhabitants started down the river in a fleet of twelve or thirteen
boats, laden with baggage, merchandise, furniture, and an ample store
of provisions. Colonel Smith was not a little disgusted that so many
people should combine to put a slight upon his pet battalion; but
consoled himself with the reflection that time and the issue would
judge between the sepoys and their defamers. The fugitives comprised
the merchants of the place, and the planters of the vicinity; the
civilians, missionaries, clerks, craftsmen, and pensioners; together
with at least forty women, several nurseries of children, and a
multitude of native domestics. They anchored for refreshment after
accomplishing a stage of four leagues, and, before breakfast was
finished, were joined by certain officers of the Tenth, who announced
that the regiment had mutinied on parade, and that all was over at
Futtehgur. The expedition proceeded on its way, under a desultory fire
of musketry from the country people, who were for the most part hostile
to our cause. Next morning arrived the bailiff of Hurdeo Bux, who
brought Probyn an invitation from his master to take refuge in his fort
of Dhurrumpore. It was resolved to split the party. The magistrate,
with forty others, accepted the proffered hospitality: while three of
the most roomy vessels, containing nineteen men, twenty-three women,
and twenty-six children, pushed forwards in the direction of Cawnpore.

And they reached their destination. On the evening of the ninth of
June the little squadron was brought to on a sandbank a few furlongs
above Nawabgunge, the north-west suburb of Cawnpore. Here they abode
forty-eight hours, listening to the ceaseless cannonade which pealed
along the stream from the south. Then they sent a messenger bearing a
request for permission to pass on their way: the answer to which was
brought by a horde of mutineers, who had no sooner appeared in view than
the boatmen set the thatch alight, and fell with bludgeons and sabres
upon the passengers, who were taking their afternoon tea, and who now
threw themselves over the bulwarks, and sought concealment in a patch
of high grass. But their cover was fired by the rebel guns; two ladies
and a child were scorched or suffocated to death; and the rest of the
company fell into the hands of the troopers of the Second Cavalry, to
whose _esprit-de-corps_ this one-sided work was more suited than the
dubious contest which was raging around our intrenchment. The captives
were made fast to a long rope, and marched as far as ladies with bare
and bleeding feet could carry the babies and drag along the children:
for by this time all their servants had fled, with the exception
of two Ayahs and a few menials of the very lowest order. Here, as
elsewhere, fortitude and fidelity were in inverse proportion to dignity
of caste. Our people spent the night supperless, on the spot where
they had halted; and at daybreak, after breakfasting on a mouthful
of water a-piece, were distributed among sixteen bullock carts, and
conveyed into the presence of the Nana: to whom they pointed out the
folly of which he would be guilty if he indulged himself in wanton and
indiscriminate murder. It was no easy task, they bade him reflect, to
empty Europe of Europeans. He is said to have been inclined to mercy:
but Bala Rao, who, if there was a choice between the brothers, seems to
have been the blackest villain of the three, made such an outcry that
the Nana stifled his nascent humanity in order to prevent the scandal
of a family quarrel. The ladies and the little ones received orders to
seat themselves on the ground; and the gentlemen, with their hands tied
behind them, were drawn up as a rear rank. The Second Cavalry had soon
another victory to inscribe upon their standards. "I witnessed all
this with my own eyes," says a Hindoo nurse, who, while they were both
above the soil, would not lose sight of her dear young charge: "for I
was sitting about thirty paces on one side. Two pits were dug, and all
the bodies thrown in. The Nana was not present. May God take vengeance
on him, and on these wicked men!" Nanukchund notes in his diary that
"reports of guns were heard from the direction of Nawabgunge. A little
after twelve A.M. two dead bodies of Europeans were seen floating down
the Ganges; and sepoys were seen in a boat coming down behind these
corpses and firing off their muskets as they came." Next day he found
occasion to seek a retreat in a village which lay at some distance up
the river. "I perceived," he writes, "bodies of ladies and gentlemen
lying along the banks of the Ganges. I cannot describe the grief I felt
at this sight. The corpses could not float down from the shallowness of
the river. I saw three boats and a barge which had been burnt by the
rebels. I questioned the people of the place, and learned that wine and
other articles of merchandise were in the boats, but the boatmen had
plundered the liquors, and, when drunk, cut down the gentlemen."

Soon after, "a body of troopers from the Nana came to seize me, and
surrounded the house where I was. But I was saved from the hands of
these ruffians, and kept in concealment in a garden. At nightfall
the gardener sent four men with me, and thus I managed to reach the
shore. It was not, however, my fate to find a boat, and I resolved to
drown myself in the river, as I thought it better to die than to fall
into the hands of so cruel a foe. After midnight I left the garden.
The first ford I came to had water up to the waist only, and it was
moonlight: so I waded across, and reached the next channel. There
I saw the corpses of the Europeans whom the boatmen had slain when
drunk: I cannot tell the exact number of bodies, but they extended
here and there about a mile. I saw three dead young ladies. They all
were dressed, but the low-caste people had commenced to take off their
clothes; and some had been torn by animals. Portions of property,
books, and papers, belonging to the plundered boats, were also strewn
about the shores. These drunken boatmen were armed, some with clubs,
some with weapons; and they were running about the woods like wild
men. I cannot describe the terror that seized me at this moment. How I
sighed for the British rule! I was trembling with fear, and knew not
where I was going. On reaching the opposite bank I was senseless for
four hours."

Meanwhile at Futtehgur was being played an unique tragi-comedy. On the
fourth of June, during morning parade, twenty thousand pounds' worth
of Government silver was in course of removal from the treasury to
the fort. This mark of distrust, coming close upon the departure of
the flotilla, proved too much for the sensibility of these military
Brahmins; a number of whom stepped out from the ranks, surrounded
the carts, and insisted that the money should be taken to their own
quarters. Colonel Smith and the adjutant came forward and expostulated
with the insurgents; but they were pushed up against the wall, and
kept within a semicircle of levelled bayonets until the cash was
safely deposited in the middle of the sepoy lines. These proceedings
caused a slight unpleasantness, which did not wholly disappear until
the troops had been gratified with an advance of two months' pay, a
promise of six months' extra allowances, and an assurance that the
treasure should henceforward be kept on the parade-ground under their
exclusive custody: inasmuch as the Company's property could be nowhere
so secure as in the guardianship of the Company's soldiers. That
evening Smith harangued as many of the battalion as chose to attend;
told them that their conduct had been disgraceful, but threw the blame
on the shoulders of the recruits; and entreated them to believe that he
could forgive and forget. He then pronounced the regiment faithful and
staunch. And so the first little difficulty between the colonel and his
men had been patched up, and both parties were living together on terms
of contemptuous acquiescence on the one side, and doting credulity on
the other.

Such was the state of things which Probyn found when, after an interval
of four days, he rode into the cantonment accompanied by a lieutenant
and an ensign of the Tenth. Immediately upon their arrival the colonel
informed the magistrate that his services were no longer required,
as the district was entirely under martial law, and put the two
subalterns in arrest for having deserted their posts. The poor lads
represented that they had been driven from Futtehgur by the fire of
their own companies: but this man, whom sepoy steel pointed at his
chest would not convince of sepoy disaffection, refused to accept the
word of his officers when it clashed with a darling theory. Probyn,
who foresaw the result, wrote to the Europeans then residing under the
roof of Hurdeo Bux, stating that in his opinion the battalion could
not possibly be kept together; and recommending that their host should
put his fort into a defensible condition, and engage five hundred
matchlock-men on the credit of the English Government. Feeling that
he was useless while in the same locality with the colonel, he shook
from his feet the dust of the devoted station, and made his way back to
Dhurrumpore.

He was followed by a letter from Smith earnestly inviting the refugees
to leave their new ally, and throw themselves into the arms of their
natural protectors, the native soldiers of the Tenth regiment. He
affirmed that there were at least a hundred and fifty men upon whom
he absolutely relied; and that, if the worst should come to the
worst, he could with their aid fight his way down to Allahabad. The
poor creatures, who were very uncomfortably lodged, and who regretted
the punkahs and musquito-curtains, the soda-water and bottled beer
of their abandoned homes, jumped at the proposition in spite of all
the logic and eloquence which Probyn could bring to bear upon their
infatuation. He persuaded no one except his own family, and a solitary
civilian, who had escaped from a slaughter and tumult in Rohilcund too
narrowly and recently for him to care to move again. The rest of the
party returned to Futtehgur, and re-instated themselves in the good
graces of the deluded veteran. Before very long, they were treated
with a specimen of sepoy loyalty. On the sixteenth of June the colonel
took measures to carry out a capital sentence of the civil courts.
The soldiery, however, considered that at such a time there might be
something awkward in the precedent of an execution, and intimated that
the criminal had better be released. Their intimation met with prompt
obedience.

The Seetapore mutineers, laden with English booty, and reeking with
English blood, were now close at hand. Their ringleaders despatched
a letter to the men of the Tenth, calling upon them to murder their
officers: to which the reply was: "Come. We will not oppose you. We
have sworn not to do so: but our vows do not bind you." So little
reciprocity of affection existed in that indecorous dalliance between
authority and sedition. On the eighteenth of June the troops, eager
to fling aside even the pretence of submission and the semblance of
discipline, broke forth into open rebellion; sacked the public chest;
and set up a pretender, whom the event showed to be better than a mere
puppet. The Europeans shut themselves up in the fort, in company with
Kalay Khan, the sole representative of the colonel's hundred and fifty
faithful sepoys. That evening the Seetapore mutineers marched into the
station, hungry for pillage; and, on discovering an empty treasury,
vented their rage by killing every man of the Tenth on whom they could
lay hands. In the course of a week, however, stimulated by the prospect
of a liberal bounty, and the co-operation of some powerful Rohilla
chieftains, the regiments made up their differences, and united to
exterminate the common enemy. For ten days and nights five and thirty
of our countrymen maintained against as many hundred assailants a
rambling tumble-down old earthwork extending over a space of twenty
acres. They fired bags of screws and scrap-iron for grape, and the
heads of sledge-hammers for round-shot. They repulsed three general
assaults. They lived amidst an atmosphere alive with bullets and flying
splinters, and din with the smoke of blazing houses and exploding
mines. At length, when the besiegers were gradually but surely blowing
their way through the rampart, the defenders took to their boats, and
dropped down the current, encumbered by thrice their own number of
women, children, and invalids.

The rest is soon told. The river was low: the pursuit hot and
persistent. The barges grounded; and were got off; and grounded for
the last time. The crews waded ashore to drive away the hostile
sharpshooters: and some were borne back dying; and some never stirred
from the spot where they fell. Vessels hove in view, unwarlike in
their external aspect; but which, as they ran alongside, proved to be
crammed with swordsmen and musketeers. And then ensued mad confusion,
and promiscuous butchery, and suicide that did not merit the name. On
the tenth evening of July, after losing a life for every mile of the
voyage, the expedition got as far as Nawabgunge, but no farther. The
ladies helped to swell the throng of prisoners, and their husbands were
sent whither the men of the Cawnpore garrison had gone before. Three
only were spared, upon their engaging to bring about that the citadel
of Allahabad should be made over to the rebellion. The Nana had reason
for his self-denial. It was worth his while to forego any gratification
to purchase security in the southern quarter. That was the direction in
which was brewing the storm of retribution and reconquest.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] On the unimportant point of the identity of the messenger a strange
discrepancy exists between the best informed authorities. Captain
Thomson "recognized her as Mrs. Greenway." On the other hand, the
confidential servant of Mr. Greenway affirms that the choice of the
Nana fell upon Mrs. Jacobi, and his statement is supported by the great
majority of the depositions.

[4] A single specimen will suffice of the style which, during those
days, a British officer, a Colonel and Companion of the Bath, allowed
himself to adopt in a published work. The page is headed "Major Ouvry's
Battue."

"Major Ouvry had made his dispositions for 'a bag.' Unlike a true
member of the chase, who loves to see his fox take well to the open, he
had headed his game; spreading his cavalry right and left of the road,
to beat back the high crops into which the enemy had skulked. Forming
his line precisely as he would have beaten a field of turnips for game,
a scene commenced which baffles all description."

Unhappily it does not baffle the description of Colonel George
Bouchier, C.B. who proceeds as follows:--

"Peafowl, partridges, and Pandies rose together. The latter gave the
best sport. Here might be seen a Lancer running a-tilt at a wretch who
had unfortunately taken to the open; there a Punjaub trooper cutting
right and left as his victims rose before him; while the enemy, who
were Goojahs, and armed with swords and hatchets, started up as the
line approached, and dashed at their nearest opponent.

"Two troopers and a horse were our only casualties, while about one
hundred brace of Goojahs bit the dust."



CHAPTER V.

THE MASSACRE.


And now Seereek Dhoondoo Punth purposed in the face of all India to
invest himself with the ensigns and the titles of royalty. The contest
had been fought out. The prize lay ready to his grasp. But it was no
light matter to fix upon the auspicious hour when the Mahratta might
take possession of the kingdom that he had carved out with his blade
from the very heart of the dominions held by the alien race which had
despoiled his sire. The soothsayers were consulted on this momentous
point: but they were forestalled in their office by Dabeedeen, the
individual who acted as agent for Tantia Topee in his dealings with the
boatmen; and who now, stimulated by his success in that transaction,
aspired to try his hand at divination. With the audacity of an amateur
he at once named five in the evening of the thirtieth June as the
season when, in accordance with the will of heaven, the Maharaja should
proceed to Bithoor for the purpose of assuming his kingly functions.
There must have been considerable discontent among the members of the
Sacred College when they learned that this volunteer augur had been
rewarded with a fee of five hundred rupees, and a horse on which to
attend the ceremony. The Nana set forth, accompanied by Bala Rao, and
in the course of the next day took his seat as Peishwa on the paternal
throne. The consecrated mark was affixed to his forehead amidst the
roar of guns, and the acclamations of a crowd composed chiefly of
townsmen who had repaired thither to surrender in the shape of an
honorary gift such of their valuables as had not already passed by a
more direct channel into the coffers of the usurper.

Some there were, however, who on this august occasion might rejoice
with unfeigned rapture. The sepoys were gladdened by an announcement
that a large quantity of gold had been sent to the Magazine, and would
there be fashioned into decorations for the ankles of those warriors
who had borne the burden and heat of the great struggle. The Ganges
Canal was bestowed as a perquisite upon Azimoolah. It is difficult to
conceive what would have been the indignation of the Directors who sat
in Leadenhall Street during the years of the Crimean war, had they been
told that the very equivocal native prince who was for ever hanging
about the India House, would one day become sole proprietor of the
gigantic concern which grew dearer to their hearts the more it cost and
the less it yielded.

That night the city of Cawnpore was illuminated, and the following
proclamations were posted in all places of general resort:

"As by the kindness of God and the good fortune of the Emperor all the
Christians who were at Delhi, Poonah, Sattara, and other places, and
even those five thousand European soldiers who went in disguise into
the former city and were discovered, are destroyed and sent to hell by
the pious and sagacious troops, who are firm to their religion; and as
they have been all conquered by the present Government, and as no trace
of them is left in these places, it is the duty of all the subjects and
servants of the Government to rejoice at the delightful intelligence,
and carry on their respective work with comfort and ease."

"As by the bounty of the glorious Almighty and the enemy-destroying
fortune of the Emperor the yellow-faced and narrow-minded people have
been sent to hell, and Cawnpore has been conquered, it is necessary
that all the subjects and landowners should be as obedient to the
present Government as they have been to the former one; that all
the Government servants should promptly and cheerfully engage their
whole mind in executing the orders of the Government; that it is the
incumbent duty of all the peasants and landed proprietors of every
district to rejoice at the thought that the Christians have been
sent to hell, and both the Hindoo and Mahomedan religions have been
confirmed; and that they should as usual be obedient to the authorities
of the Government, and never suffer any complaint against themselves to
reach to the ears of the higher authority."

There is something quaint in the notion of a paternal Government
setting the national mind at ease as to the damnation of the enemy,
and ordaining a public rejoicing over, "the delightful intelligence."
Our authorities never went so far as to imitate the example: but
Calcutta journalism did its best to supply the deficiency. "Fas est
et ab hoste doceri" was the motto of that remarkable department of
ephemeral literature. Among other gems which in 1857 adorned the poetry
corner of the "Englishman," one stands conspicuous both for sentiment
and expression:

  "Barring Humanity pretenders
  To hell of none are we the willing senders:
  But, if to sepoys mercy must be given,
  Locate them, Lord, in the back slums of heaven."

Be it observed that Lord Canning, Sir John Peter Grant, Mr. Charles
Buxton, and Sir Henry Rich are here esteemed unworthy even of the
partial and secondary felicity dealt out to Teeka Singh and Mungul
Pandy. A critic who takes into account the creeds held by the
respective writers will of the two productions regard with less
aversion the performance of the Nana. That year of sin and horror
afforded what was in truth an ill commentary upon the injunction
to practise the mercy which rejoiceth against judgment, and on the
oft-repeated assurance that in forgiveness and forbearance, if in
nothing else, the disciple may emulate his master. And we wonder,
forsooth, that our missionaries labour in vain to exalt the effective
power of our faith in the eyes of those very heathen who are conscious
how in the day of temptation talked and acted men calling themselves
after the name of Him whose last miracle was the healing of His
captor, and whose last prayer was for the pardon of His murderers!

On the first of July the prisoners were removed from the Savada Hall
to a small building north of the canal, situated between the black
city and the Ganges. It was their final change of lodgings. To this
day they occupy those premises on a lease which no man may dispute.
This humble dwelling, the residence of some poor quill-driver, Hindoo
or half-caste, as the case may be, had long stood amidst a group of
sightly villas and edifices of social resort, unnoticed except by a
casual sanitary commissioner, and distinguished only by a numeral in
the map of the Ordnance Survey. It has since been known in India as
the Beebeegur, or House of the Ladies; in England as the House of the
Massacre. It comprised two principal rooms, each twenty feet by ten;
certain windowless closets intended for the use of native domestics;
and an open court some fifteen yards square. Here, during a fortnight
of the Eastern summer, were penned two hundred and six persons of
European extraction: for the most part women and children of gentle
birth. The grown men were but five in number: the three gentlemen of
Futtehgur, who are supposed to have been Mr. Thornhill, the judge, and
Colonels Smith and Goldie: together with Mr. Edward Greenway, and his
son Thomas.

If the various degrees of wretchedness are to be estimated by the
faculty for suffering contained in the victim, then were these ladies
of all women the most miserable. Few or none amongst them had been
aware that in some corner of the mansion beneath whose roof their
happier days were passed, there existed such foul holes as those in
which they now lay panting by the score. It was much if they had cared
to hazard a supposition that "the servants slept somewhere about the
compound." They had neither furniture, nor bedding, nor straw; nothing
but coarse and hard bamboo matting, unless they preferred a smoother
couch upon the bare floor. They fed sparely on cakes of unleavened
dough, and lentil-porridge dished up in earthen pans without spoon
or plate. There was some talk of meat on Sundays, but it never came
to anything. Once the children got a little milk. The same day the
head-bearer of Colonel Williams came to pay his respects to the
daughter who was the sole survivor of that officer's household. "I
could not," he says, "get near the ladies on account of the sentries,
but saw that food was being distributed to them. It consisted of
native bread and milk. I remonstrated with a soldier who had formerly
served under my master, and begged of him to supply with better food
people who had lived in a very different way. He gave me eight annas"
(twelvepence) "to go to the bazaar and buy some sweetmeats. I did
so; and on my return Miss Georgiana and a married lady came into
the verandah to meet me. Miss Georgiana repeated to me her mother's
injunctions about my going to her brother. I gave them the sweetmeats,
and had little time to speak to them, for, seeing me, the other ladies
came out into the verandah: on which the sentries turned me out."

The matron of these female prisoners, whom it took so little to
keep in order, was a woman described as tall; of a fair complexion;
twenty-eight or thirty years in age, but with a few grey hairs. She
went by the nickname of "the Begum," and her character was no better
than could be looked for in a waiting-maid of the courtezan who then
ruled the circle of the Nana. She superintended a staff of sweepers,
who furnished the captives with their food. The attendance of such
debased menials was in itself the most ignominious affront which
Oriental malice could invent: and even these were provided exclusively
for the humiliation of our countrywomen, and might do nothing for their
comfort. A young Brahmin, who chanced to look over the fence of the
enclosure, saw some ladies washing their own dirty linen. With the
irrepressible loquacity of an Hindoo he began asking some strangers who
were standing by whether there was no washerman who could undertake to
do for the Mem Sahibs: an ill-timed curiosity which procured him a slap
on the face and a night in the guard-room.

Seventy-five paces from the abode where our people were confined stood
an hotel owned by a Mahomedan proprietor: an erection of considerable
size, daubed with bright yellow paint. Allured, probably, by the
gaudiness of colour, an attraction which no genuine native can resist,
the Nana had selected this building as his head-quarters. A couple
of guns were planted at the entrance of the compound, and a strong
detachment of his retainers kept guard under the portico. Two spacious
centre rooms were reserved for the Maharaja's public receptions. One of
the wings was set apart for the duties of the kitchen and the altar:
and, side by side with religion, cooking went merrily on through every
hour of the twenty-four. In the other Dhoondoo Punth lived from day
to day in a perpetual round of sensuality, amidst a choice coterie of
priests, pandars, ministers, and minions. The reigning beauty of the
fortnight was one Oula or Adala. She was the Thais on whose breast
sunk the vanquished victor, oppressed with brandy and such love as
animates a middle-aged Eastern debauchee. She is said to have counted
by hundreds of thousands the rupees which were lavished on her by the
affection and vanity of her Alexander: and could well afford to spare
one of her suite to look after the prisoners for the fraction of time
during which they were likely to need her services. Every night there
was an entertainment of music, dancing, and pantomime. The hit of the
evening was made by a buffoon who took off amidst shouts of laughter
the stiff carriage of an English officer.

The noise of this unhallowed revelry was plainly audible to the
captives in the adjoining house; and, as they crowded round the windows
to catch the breeze which sprang up at sunset, the glare of torches and
the strains of barbarous melody might remind them of the period when
he who was now arbiter of their existence thought himself privileged
if he could induce them to honour with a half-disdainful acceptance
the hospitality of Bithoor. They sometimes got a nearer view of the
festivities. The Begum daily took across two ladies to the Nana's
stables, where they were set down to grind corn at a hand-mill for
the space of several hours. They generally contrived to bring back a
pocketful of flour for the children.

Hardship, heat, wounds, and want of space and proper nourishment
released many from their bondage before the season marked out by
Azimoolah for a jail delivery such as the world had seldom witnessed.
A native doctor, himself a prisoner, has left a list of deaths which
occurred between the seventh and the fifteenth of the month. Within
these eight days, of which one was incomplete, as will be seen by those
who read on, there succumbed to cholera and dysentery eighteen women,
seven children, and an Hindoo nurse. There is a touching little entry
which deserves notice. In the column headed "Names" appear the words
"eck baba" (one baby): under that marked "disease" is written "ap se"
(of itself).

Dying by threes and fours of frightful maladies, the designations of
which they hardly knew; trying to eat nauseous and unwonted food, and
to sleep upon a bed of boards; tormented by flies, and musquitoes, and
dirt, and prickly heat, and all the lesser evils that aggravate and
keep for ever fresh the consciousness of a great misfortune: doing for
the murderer of their dearest ones that labour which in Asia has always
been the distinctive sign and badge of slavery: to such reality of
woe had been reduced these beings whose idea of peril had once been
derived from romances, and who had been acquainted with destitution
only through tracts and the reports of charitable institutions. Alas
for the delicate Mem Sahibs, and the pretty Missy Babas, for whom
nothing had formerly been too dainty and well-appointed! Alas for the
handy and patient soldiers' wives, who had followed their good men into
the discomfort of barrack life to be rewarded thus! Alas for sturdy
Bridget Widdowson, and tender Mrs. Moore, who bore on her bosom a child
destined never to lisp the name of his brave father! Her perchance one
of the victors, whose son or brother had fallen beneath her husband's
sword, (for he was no sluggard in the onset), might see weeping like
Andromache over her toil at the weary mill, and might say: "This was
the wife of him who of all the English fought the best, whenever the
battle waxed hot around their wall." And, so speaking, he would renew
her grief at thought of the man who was no longer there to shield her
from the day of bondage. But he, floating on his face past some distant
city, or stranded on a bank of sand trodden by none save the vulture
and the crocodile, saw not how she was misused, nor heard when she
cried for succour.

The number of captives diminished so fast that the Nana began to fear
lest he should soon have no hostages wherewith to provide against the
consequences of a possible reverse. They were accordingly driven twice
a day into the verandah, and forced to sit there until they had inhaled
as much fresh air as, in the judgment of the Begum, would support an
English constitution for the space of twelve hours. This substitute for
the morning gallop and the evening promenade was very distasteful to
our ladies, on account of the idlers who came to stare, and remark how
odd a Lady Sahib looked when neither on horseback nor in her carriage.
The poor creatures were overheard whispering among themselves that the
British never used their prisoners thus.

It is probable that from this circumstance originated the rumour
concerning European females who had been publicly maltreated in the
bazaar. Two or three sentences must here be written upon those fables
which it is our misfortune that we once believed, and our shame if we
ever stoop to repeat. Delhi, Cawnpore, and Futtehgur were the three
stations in which any considerable multitude of our countrywomen
were placed under the disposal of the mutineers. With regard to the
two latter places, if we except one single case of abduction, it is
absolutely certain that our ladies died without mention, and we may
confidently hope without apprehension, of dishonour. Those revolting
stories which accompanied to Southampton the first tidings of the
tumult at Delhi may all be traced to some gossip regarding the fate
of Miss Jennings, the daughter of the chaplain, and her friend, Miss
Clifford. It is now ascertained beyond all question that these girls
were sitting in an upper room of the palace gateway, when they heard
on the stairs a rush of footsteps and a clattering of scabbards, and
were cut down dead as they rose from their chairs to learn the cause
of this strange intrusion.

Some, who love to attribute every event to the special interposition of
Providence, have insisted that nothing short of fabricated indignities,
and tales of mutilation equally untrue and more easily disproved,
could have kindled the explosion of wrath and pity which sent forth
by myriads the youth of England again to subdue Hindostan beneath a
Christian yoke. Piety, unwilling to pronounce authoritatively on such a
matter, will be loth to imagine that God provoked men to utter and to
credit lies for the furtherance of any purpose which could conduce to
His glory. As must ever be in the order of things by Him determined,
the evil seed produced evil fruit. Grapes came not of those thorns, nor
figs of those thistles. The murder of a hundred families, the ruin of a
thousand homesteads, were incentives capable of exalting our national
enthusiasm to the requisite pitch without the aid of exaggeration or
invention. Those hateful falsehoods serve but to evoke from the depths
of our nature the sombre and ferocious instincts which religion and
civilization can never wholly eradicate. To their account unhappy India
may charge most of the innocent blood that was spilt and the bad blood
that remains.

It was not long before the usurper began to experience the proverbial
uneasiness of a crowned head. At no time a favourite with the Cawnpore
population, he now was cordially detested by all the respectable
inhabitants; who, after his downfall, testified their hatred by
refusing to pronounce his name without the addition of some
disparaging epithet. The majestic appellations of Maharaja and Peishwa
were at once cut down to "Nana soor," "that pig of a Nana:" and this
was the mildest and the most decent of all his agnomina, with the
exception, perhaps, of "budmash," which answers as nearly as possible
to the French "coquin." "That great budmash, the Nana," occurs in the
peroration of one of Nanukchund's outbursts of Hindoo eloquence. For
the present, however, the townspeople evinced their ill-will by a tacit
but very effective opposition to the new _régime_. His requisitions of
money and supplies met with no response; and he could procure nothing
except by open force, which he was not slow to employ. The city had,
indeed, little motive to love him or the state of things which he
represented. A Mahomedan author describes the aspect of a locality
where the rebellion had obtained the ascendancy in these graphic
words:--"Since the day of my arrival I never found the bazaar open,
unless it were a few poor shops. The shopkeepers and the citizens are
extremely sorry for losing their safety, and curse the mutineers from
morning to evening. The people and the workmen starve, and widows cry
in their huts."

The class who had most cause to pray for the return of order were the
natives of Bengal Proper, then settled in the Upper Provinces for
purposes of commerce. Impoverished, suspected, menaced, and outraged,
they were conscious that neither life, limb, nor liberty were worth a
fortnight's purchase. Many a rich Bengalee within the borders of the
insurrection sat all day behind closed blinds, with a pistol in his
girdle, a bag of jewels in his turban, and a horse ready saddled at the
back door of his garden. And it was not without reason that these men
suffered so cruelly: for they were only less loyal than the English
themselves. The wealthy, industrious, and effeminate denizens of Lower
Bengal had no desire to see the many-headed and irrational despotism
of a Prætorian guard substituted for the mild and regular sway of old
John Company. The conduct of the soldiery rendered them exceedingly
uncomfortable and not a little indignant: and they lost no opportunity
of wreaking their spite upon the turbulent mercenaries who would not
allow honest folks to go about their business in peace. The sepoys who
mutinied at Chittagong and Dacca, both of which stations lie within
the limits of Bengal, met with such hostility from the country-people
that they gave up all thoughts of moving on Calcutta, and endeavoured
to make their way into Assam. Few ever reached the frontier. They
literally rotted away in the jungle. Some died of starvation: some of
fever and ague. The foragers were knocked on the head by the peasantry,
skilled, like all Hindoo villagers, in the play of the quarter-staff.
The stragglers were carried off by wild animals which swarm amidst the
swamps and forests that fringe the great rivers of eastern India. At
length, driven into a corner, they one morning cut the throats of the
women who had hitherto accompanied their march, and dispersed into the
wilderness, to re-appear not even on the gallows. They could not have
fared worse amidst the moors of Yorkshire or Northumberland.

It is painful to remember how we requited the attachment and fidelity
of Bengal. At a time when all good citizens, without distinction of
birth and creed, should have united in one firm front against the
common foe, it was the delight of many among the English residents
in the capital to heap insult and accusation on their dark-skinned
neighbours. Then, in the presence of that portentous danger, every
condition of soul, from the height of magnanimity to incredible
baseness, might be observed in striking and instructive contrast.
While at one end of Northern India stout Sir John was fighting his
province in the interests of the general weal; denuding himself of
British soldiers, and committing his existence and reputation to the
faith of Sikh allies; doing steadfastly in the hour the work of the
hour; remedying the evil which was sufficient unto the day, and, like
a good Christian as he was, leaving to God the things of the morrow:
at the other end a clique of Englishmen, driven insane by terror and
virulence, were plotting how to form themselves into a Committee of
Public Safety, depose the viceroy, seize the reins of the state, and
have their will upon the native population. While at Arrah a handful of
heroes were defending a billiard-room against drought, and hunger, and
cannon, and the militia of a warlike region, backed by three regiments
of regular infantry: in Calcutta heaven and earth were being moved
to eject from the Photographic Society a Bengalee member, who had
given vent to some remarks reflecting upon the habits and tone of low
European loafers.

July had not well set in before the insurgents of Cawnpore showed
symptoms that marked the wilfulness and inconstancy of soldiers
who have once forgotten their duty. Idleness bred discontent, and
discontent speedily ripened into sedition. The honeymoon had not yet
drawn to a close, and already this unnatural connexion between the
Nana and the army was distasteful to the stronger of the contracting
parties. Regiments which had refused to obey such men as Ewart and
Delafosse were not likely to entertain any very profound reverence for
an effete Hindoo rake. The Peishwa evinced an inclination to enjoy for
a while the contemplation of his recent dignity in the retirement of
Bithoor: but the troops had no notion of letting their paymaster out
of sight, and brought him back into their midst by violence which they
hardly cared to disguise beneath the semblance of respect. On the third
of the month a donation was distributed among their ranks, and accepted
with anything but gratitude. Few got as much as, in their own opinion,
they deserved: and all less than they desired. What they had was not in
a portable form. Government silver proved to be an inconvenient burden
for the loins; and, if things went ill, it might procure a still more
unpleasant girdle round the neck. There were disagreeable anecdotes
current regarding certain gentlemen, late of the Company's service, who
had been executed at Allahabad on the discovery about their persons
of some new copper coins, which had never issued from the Treasury by
a regular payment, and which they were suspected of having intended to
put into premature circulation. There accordingly was a brisk demand
for gold. Azimoolah ordered it to be proclaimed in the bazaar by beat
of drum that bankers should supply the mutineers with mohurs at a
minimum price of twenty-one rupees. The Cawnpore exchange, however,
had so little confidence in the star of the maharaja, that these coins
could not be bought for less than twenty-eight rupees, which was an
advance of seventy-five per cent. on their ordinary price. The sepoys,
who were not more acquainted than European privates with the laws
which regulate the money-market, and knew only that they had ended by
pocketing little more than half the cash that they expected, were soon
talking about a fresh change of masters. The Mussulman faction gained
ground rapidly and surely. Men began to recollect how cleverly the
Nunhey Nawab had managed his battery without any prior experience in
gunnery, and drew the conclusion that he might be equally successful
if he could be bribed by an offer of sovereignty to turn his attention
towards the rate of discount.

But military greediness, and Moslem ambition, and the jealousy of the
nobles, and the enmity of the bourgeoisie ceased ere long to occupy
the thoughts of the tyrant. These sources of uneasiness were absorbed
in one great and pressing terror, when, at the first doubtful and
intermittent, but more frequent ever and clearer, came surging up
from the south-west the fame of the advancing vengeance. Couriers
mounted on swift camels were sent down the road, and returned with
the intelligence that the British were certainly approaching by
forced marches, laying a telegraph as they proceeded, and hanging the
inhabitants of the villages within which were found pieces of the old
wire. This information naturally produced a strong effect upon men
whose crimes were not such as to meet with impunity under the new
scale of penalties that seemed to have been adopted by the Sahibs. The
consternation was so deep and universal that the Nana had recourse to
his customary palliative. On the fifth of July he issued the following
proclamation:--

"It has come to our notice that some of the city people, having heard
the rumours of the arrival of the European troops at Allahabad,
are deserting their houses and going out into the districts. Be it
therefore proclaimed in each lane and street of the city that regiments
of cavalry, and infantry, and batteries have been despatched to check
the Europeans either at Allahabad or Futtehpore; that the people should
therefore remain in their houses without any apprehension, and engage
their minds in carrying on their work."

This manifesto was probably considered too tame and brief for such a
crisis. Next day there appeared a truly notable state-paper, which,
to judge from internal evidence, may be attributed to the pen of the
prime-minister. It is regarded as the masterpiece of that author, and
may serve for a model to all Governments that undertake to enlighten
the public mind by means of an official organ.

"A traveller just arrived at Cawnpore from Allahabad states that before
the cartridges were distributed a Council was held for the purpose of
taking away the religion and rites of the people of Hindostan. The
Members of Council came to the conclusion that, as the matter was
one affecting religion, seven or eight thousand Europeans would be
required, and it would cost the lives of fifty thousand Hindoos, but
that at this price the natives of Hindostan would become Christians.
The matter was therefore represented in a despatch to Queen Victoria,
who gave her consent. A second council was then held, at which the
English merchants were present. It was then resolved to ask for the
assistance of a body of European troops equal in number to the native
army, so as to insure success when the excitement should be at the
highest. When the despatch containing this application was read in
England, thirty-five thousand Europeans were very rapidly embarked on
ships, and started for Hindostan, and intelligence of their despatch
reached Calcutta. Then the English in Calcutta issued the order for
the distribution of the cartridges, the object of which was to make
Hindostan Christian; as it was thought that the people would come over
with the army. The cartridges were smeared with hog and cow's fat. One
man who let out the secret was hung, and one imprisoned."

"Meantime, while they were occupied in carrying out their plan, the
ambassadors of the Sultan of Roum" (Turkey) "in London sent word to
his sovereign that thirty-five thousand Europeans had been despatched
to Hindostan to make all the natives Christians. The Sultan (may
Allah perpetuate his kingdom!) issued a firman to the Pacha of Egypt,
the contents of which are as follows: 'You are conspiring with Queen
Victoria. If you are guilty of neglect in this matter, what kind of
face will you be able to show to God?'"

"When this firman of the Sultan of Roum reached the Pacha of Egypt,
the Lord of Egypt assembled his army in the city of Alexandra, which
is on the road to India, before the Europeans arrived. As soon as the
European troops arrived the troops of the Pacha of Egypt began to fire
into them with guns on all sides, and sunk all their ships, so that
not even a single European escaped. The English in Calcutta, after
issuing orders for biting the cartridges, and when these disturbances
had reached their height, were looking for the assistance of the army
from London. But the Almighty by the exercise of his power made an end
of them at the very outset. When intelligence of the destruction of the
army from London arrived, the Governor-General was much grieved and
distressed, and beat his head.

  "At eventide he intended murder and plunder.
  At noon neither had his body a head, nor his head a cover.
  In one revolution of the blue heavens
  Neither Nadir remained, nor a follower of Nadir."

  "Done by order of his Grace the Peishwa. 1273 of the Heigra."

But the onward march of the English was not to be checked by quotations
from Oordoo poets. It behoved that some weapons besides the eloquence
of Azimoolah and the sign-manual of Dhoondoo Punth should be found,
and found quickly. The rebel chiefs were enjoined to muster their
retainers, and Teeka Singh to beat up the bazaars for sepoys. Reluctant
and dispirited the truants turned out to fight for a sovereign whom
they were scheming to dethrone, and for plunder which had already by
some magical process melted away to half the original value. Baba
Bhut undertook to provide carriage for the stores and ammunition: and
accordingly impounded the conveyances of the town, particularly all
vehicles formerly the property of European gentry: a measure which
caused no small vexation to the mutineers who had been cutting a dash
in the buggies that had belonged to our subalterns. The merchants
received extensive indents for tents and water-proof great-coats: a
most essential article of equipment during the first weeks of the rainy
season. The Ordnance Office reported itself to be short of percussion
caps; and the whole staff of the department was at once set to work
at converting detonating muskets into matchlocks. These preparations
were completed by the ninth of July, on which day Brigadier Jwala
Pershad left the station in the direction of Allahabad at the head of
detachments from three regiments of cavalry and seven of infantry,
together with a strong body of feudal militia: in all some thirty-five
hundred sabres, bayonets, and lances. The column was accompanied
by twelve guns of various pattern and calibre, which the result of
the earliest action enabled General Havelock to describe with minute
accuracy.

They did well to hurry: for the avenger was abroad. Late in May there
landed at Calcutta a wing of the First Madras Fusileers, under the
command of Major Renaud and Lieutenant-Colonel Neill: who, after
securing an order which enabled them to draw upon the Patna Treasury,
proceeded straight to the Terminus situated on the bank of the Hooghly
facing the capital, with the intention of performing the first stretch
of their journey by rail. A train was on the point of starting; and the
stationmaster, jealous, it may be, to obtain his new line a reputation
for punctuality, refused to delay until the rear-guard could be
embarked in the cars. Hereupon Neill, an Indian veteran, who during a
long absence from home had lost what little reverence he ever possessed
for the authority of Bradshaw, clapped the official under arrest in his
own waiting-room, and gave the guards and stokers to understand that he
had constituted himself traffic-manager for the time being. Travelling
in this high-handed style he reached Benares when least expected either
by the English residents, who were waiting to have their throats
cut, or by the native force, which was looking out for an excuse to
mutiny, and which now found a pretext in the arrival of Neill. After
a rough and tumble fight he bundled the insurgents out of the place;
quieted the fears of the European population; and at once began his
arrangements for penetrating to Allahabad, where a feeble garrison,
closely invested by an enormous rebel host, was defending a mile and a
half of wall with scanty prospect of deliverance.

On the evening of the ninth June he sent on in bullock-carts a hundred
and seventeen of his people; despatched thirty-six others in a small
steamer; and packed himself, with two officers and forty-four men, into
such stage-carriages as had shafts and axles. Posting in the East is
never a very expeditious method of locomotion; and at this conjuncture
every stable along the Grand Trunk Road had been plundered more or
less thoroughly. But the agents of the Dawk Company knew their man:
and it may safely be asserted that the grooms were less sleepy than
usual, and the drivers less sulky; that the horses jibbed not quite so
pertinaciously, and the wheels came off at somewhat wider intervals.
No promise of treble gratuities from an embryo member of Parliament,
hurrying up country in search of statistics, ever so surely cut short
a stoppage or an altercation, as did the rattle of the panels of the
foremost van, which betokened that Neill Sahib was awake, and in
another moment would be thrusting out his head to ask what the matter
was. When the animals broke down, strings of peasants were harnessed
to the traces: and by the afternoon of the second day the relieving
army, numbering a short four dozen of exhausted men, had found their
way into the beleagured place. On the following morning the struggle
began in earnest, and continued for a full week. Successive instalments
of Fusileers swarmed in by road and river: while the enemy had soon
consumed most of their courage and all their ball-cartridge, and were
reduced to load with morsels of telegraph wire: a device whereby,
over and above the effect of their fire, they got rid of an article
the possession of which came under the chapter of capital offences in
the Criminal Code as revised by Colonel Neill. That officer by the
nineteenth June had re-conquered the city of Allahabad, and cleared the
district of insurgents. He now found leisure to make some inquiries
into the past, which resulted in a series of executions: not more than
the crisis warranted, (for, though an austere man, he was no savage,)
but quite numerous enough, in the expressive dialect of the day, to
"establish a great funk."

Meanwhile the heat was such as no words can adequately describe. The
Europeans died of sunstroke at an average rate of two a day. Our troops
had outstripped their Commissariat, and could get neither bread, nor
coffee, nor drugs, nor fans, nor screens of moistened grass: appliances
which, known to an English housekeeper as "luxuries" and "comforts,"
in the estimation of those who have spent an Indian June in the tented
field, merit quite another denomination. Unfortunately, though the
larder and the medicine-chest were empty, the cellars of Allahabad
were only too well furnished. They were pillaged by some Sikhs, who,
without applying for a license, at once opened a lively trade: selling
beer, brandy, madeira, and champagne at a uniform charge of sixpence
the bottle. Cholera soon broke out among our poor fellows, living as
they did on wine and spirits without even a halfpenny-worth of bread
in a temperature of a hundred and thirty-five degrees. In the course
of seventy-two hours forty deaths occurred in the ranks of the Madras
regiment. The Colonel bought up and destroyed the whole stock of
liquor; ransacked the neighbourhood in quest of wholesome provisions;
removed his patients to the most healthy quarters which he could
command; and was repaid by seeing the mysterious disease vanish as
suddenly as it had appeared, after carrying off one out of every nine
among his soldiers.

As when a slender rill, ominous to an experienced eye, trickles
through the crack in an embankment behind which is gathered, not long
there to stay, an immense weight of water: so came along the valley
of Ganges this little band, the forerunner of a mighty multitude
of warriors. Every morning brought into Allahabad a fresh batch of
Englishmen, jaded, indeed, and suffering cruelly from the climate,
but eager to be led forward to rescue or revenge. Continental authors
who descant glibly on the stolidity and insensibility of the British
private might have learned a useful lesson could they have overheard
the talk of those pale and sickly lads. By the last day of June Neill
judged himself strong enough to detach towards Cawnpore two guns and
eight hundred men, half of whom were Europeans. The column was placed
under the orders of Major Renaud, who pushed up the road; fighting
as occasion offered; tranquillizing the country by the very simple
expedient of hanging everybody who showed signs of insubordination;
and using all endeavours to procure information concerning the fate of
the Cawnpore garrison. On the fourth July he was met by a report of
the capitulation and the massacre. Corroborated, and contradicted, and
qualified, and again confidently affirmed, rumour insensibly matured
into undoubted fact: but to this day no man ventures to name the
precise hour when he himself became assured that the worst was true.

With July arrived Brigadier-General Havelock, who, after having
employed a week in collecting his resources, moved northwards from
Allahabad with six cannon and a thousand English soldiers. That was not
a joyous expedition. The hearts of all were occupied with forebodings
of evil which they dared not shape into words: and the face of creation
seemed to reflect the universal gloom. As in that fantastic canvas of
old Dürer, whereon the knight is journeying towards an unknown goal in
unhallowed company, so to the fancy of those who were not incapable of
vivid emotion even inanimate and irrational nature partook that shade
of the future that was on every soul. They waded in a sea of slush,
knee-deep now, and now breast high, while the flood of tropical rain
beat down from overhead. As far to right and left as eye could pierce
extended one vast morass: and the desolate scene was enlivened by no
human sound. Nothing was heard save the melancholy croaking of the
cicalas, mingled with an under hum of countless insects. The air was
heavy with the offensive odour of neem-trees. There were no indications
that the column was traversing an inhabited country, except the bodies
which hung by twos and threes from branch and signpost, and the gaunt
swine who by the roadside were holding their loathsome carnival. After
three days of steady toil through the mud and the water Havelock was
made aware that the enemy were ahead, and that Renaud was advancing
unsupported into the teeth of an overwhelming force. Then our troops
hastened forward, and made one march of five leagues and another of
eight beneath a blazing sun; (for at this point the weather cleared,
and they lost the protection of the clouds;) until they caught up the
Major and his detachment, and finally halted in a state of entire
prostration five miles from the town of Futtehpore, where Jwala Pershad
was encamped with all his chivalry.

It was early morning. Our weary people were enjoying their "little
breakfast" of tea, that pleasantest of Indian meals, when the rebel
vanguard came pouring down the causeway. Havelock, who wished earnestly
to give his harassed soldiers rest, resolved to wait until this
ebullition should expend itself. But the affair grew serious; and he
had soon no choice but to accept the challenge and draw up his army. In
front were the guns, protected by a hundred skirmishers armed with that
Enfield rifle which, then a rarity, is now a familiar object to every
other household in Great Britain. The Fusileers and the Seventy-eighth
Highlanders struggled through the swamps on the right. The Sixty-fourth
Regiment went forward in the centre; and the Eighty-fourth on the left,
supported by a battalion of Punjabees. The cavalry moved along some
firm ground which lay on the extreme flank.

Never was there such a battle. "I might say," writes the General,
"that in ten minutes the action was decided, for in that short space
of time the spirit of the enemy was utterly subdued. The rifle fire,
reaching them at an unexpected distance, filled them with dismay;
and, when Captain Maude was enabled to push his guns to point-blank
range, his surprisingly accurate fire demolished their little remaining
confidence. In a moment three guns were abandoned to us on the
_chaussée_, and the force advanced steadily, driving the enemy before
it on every point. Their guns continued to fall into our hands; and
then in succession they were driven from the garden enclosures; from a
strong barricade on the road; from the town wall; into and through, out
of and beyond the town. Their fire scarcely reached us. Ours, for four
hours, allowed them no repose."

In fact it was a mere rout: a memorable triumph of outraged
civilization. The Second Cavalry made a flourish which for a while
checked our onset: but the troopers of that redoubted corps soon
had had enough of English lead, and felt no appetite for a taste of
English steel. Accustomed to deal with feebler adversaries, they were
spoilt for fighting with grown men. By noon nothing was to be seen
of the mutineers within six miles of Futtehpore save their dead,
their accoutrements, and their whole park of artillery. Flying in
irretrievable disorder they spread everywhere that the Sahibs had come
back in strange guise; some draped like women, to remind them what
manner of wrong they were sworn to requite; others, conspicuous by tall
blue caps, who hit their mark without being seen to fire. Our list of
killed and wounded contained not one British name: though a dozen or
so of Sowars, Jemmadars, and Russeldars made it as incomprehensible to
a home reader as an Indian bulletin should ever be. But the bloodless
day was not costless: for twelve of our privates were slain outright
by the sun. Our irregular horsemen, who recognised some comrades in
the hostile ranks, had flatly refused to charge, and were consequently
dismounted and disarmed: a precaution that diminished our cavalry to a
score of volunteers.

When the Nana learned how his soldiers had conducted themselves he
flew into a violent passion, which could be relieved only by vicarious
letting of blood. After attending at the execution of eight ill-fated
couriers, who had been intercepted from time to time with English
despatches in and about their persons, he felt sufficiently composed
to face the emergency. Determined to reserve his own sacred self for
the supreme venture, he sent into the field a Patroclus in the person
of Bala Rao, whose stake in the cause was indeed no light one. Every
available mutineer was equipped and marched down the road, and the
captured pieces were replaced from the magazine. On the morrow the
Peishwa's brother followed his reinforcements, and took up a position
round a hamlet named Aoung, twenty-two miles south of Cawnpore. He
found the rebel mind in high perturbation. The gossip of the camp-fires
ran mainly on the disagreeable sensations produced by strangulation;
and the disquisitions of certain among the sepoys who had witnessed
that operation were so circumstantial and picturesque that many who
had come best off in the partition of the spoil doffed the remains of
their uniforms, and stole away with their riches to the seclusion of
their native villages. The behaviour of those who remained proved that
the army had rather gained than lost in efficiency by the withdrawal of
such as had nothing to acquire and something to enjoy.

Their valour was soon to be tested. At nine in the morning of the
fifteenth up came the English; Maude and his battery leading the way;
with the Fusileers and the sharpshooters of the Sixty-fourth close
at his heels. Shrapnel shells and conical bullets quickly cleared
away everything from our front, and strewed the highway with corpses,
weapons, and abandoned tents and waggons. The Second Cavalry caught
sight of our baggage, which had been left beneath a grove in the
care of a slender guard, and fancied that they discerned an occasion
for distinguishing themselves after their own fashion. But they were
lamentably disappointed. The regiment had to bustle back with empty
pockets and not a few empty saddles, and thenceforward was contented to
rest on the renown of previous exploits.

Bala Rao withdrew his troops behind a stream which crossed the road
a league in rear of the contested village. The water was too deep to
be forded. The bridge was strongly fortified, and defended by two
twenty-four pounders. Our force proceeded to the attack after a slight
tiffin, and a short siesta for all whose nerves were firm enough to
allow them a snatch of sleep between two of the rounds in a fight for
such a prize. Maude raked the hostile cannon, which stood in a salient
bend of the river: while the Fusileers advanced in skirmishing order,
enraged at the fall of gallant Major Renaud, whose thigh had been
broken early in the day. After plying their rifles with deadly effect,
they suddenly closed up, and flung themselves headlong on the bridge.
Bala Rao, to whom cannot be charged the cowardice which a popular maxim
associates with cruelty, had purposed to maintain his post to the last:
but on this occasion he had not to do with a front-rank of seated
ladies and children, and a rear-rank of gentlemen whose hands were
strapped behind their backs. With set teeth, and flashing eyes, and
firelocks tightly clenched, pelted by grape and musketry, our people
converged at a run upon the narrow passage. When they came near enough
to afford the enemy an opportunity of observing on their countenances
that expression which the Sahibs always wear when they do not mean to
turn back, the rebel array broke and fled. The fugitives took with them
their general, who carried off in his shoulder a lump of Government
lead, to which he was most heartily welcome; but did not find time for
the removal of their artillery. There passed into our hands four guns;
which cannot be said to have been dearly purchased at six casualties
a-piece.

Wounded as he was, Bala Rao brought to Cawnpore the tidings of his
own defeat. He went straight to the quarters of his brother, which
were soon crowded with the leading rebels, who came to hear what
had happened, and to impart their apprehensions and suggestions.
The deliberations of this improvised council were at first confused
and desultory. Some were for retiring to Bithoor; some for uniting
their forces with the mutineers of Futtehgur. At length, by a slender
majority of voices, it was decided to make one more stand south of
Cawnpore.

When this resolution had been adopted, Teeka Singh asked whether the
Nana had made up his mind as to what should be done with the prisoners;
and hinted that, in case things went ill, it might be awkward for some
then present should the Sahibs find such a mass of evidence ready
to their hands; nay more, that the chances of a reverse would be
considerably lessened if the captives were once put out of the way.
The British were approaching solely for the purpose of releasing their
compatriots, and would not risk another battle for the satisfaction of
burying them. They would be only too glad of an excuse to avoid meeting
the Peishwa in the field. Dhoondoo Punth was not hard to convince on
such a point. Whenever bloodshed was in question, he showed himself the
least impracticable of men. In the present instance he would never have
required prompting, but for the importunity of the royal widows, his
step-mothers by adoption, who had sent him word that they would throw
themselves and their children from the upper windows of the palace if
he again murdered any of their sex. As a pledge that this was no vain
parade of philanthropy they had abstained from food and drink for many
hours together. In order to anticipate their remonstrances, directions
were given to set about the work forthwith. In fact, for every reason,
'twas well that it should be done quickly. The assembly broke up; but
all who could spare the time stayed for at least the commencement of
such a representation as none could hope to behold twice in a lifetime.

At four o'clock in the afternoon, or between that and five, some of
the Nana's people went across to the house of bondage, and bade the
Englishmen who were there to come forth. Forth they came;--the three
persons from Futtehgur, and the merchant and his son;--accompanied
by the biggest of the children, a youth of fourteen, who, poor boy,
was glad perhaps to take this opportunity of classing himself with
his elders. Some ladies pressed out to watch the course which the
party took, but were pushed back by the sentries. The gentlemen
inquired whither they were going, and were answered that the Peishwa
had sent for them on some concern of his own. But all around was a
deep throng of spectators, the foremost rows seated on the ground, so
that those behind might see: while an outer circle occupied, as it
were, reserved places on the wall of the enclosure. There, beneath
a spreading lime-tree, lounged Dhoondoo Punth, the gold lace of his
turban glittering in the sunshine. There were Jwala Pershad; and Tantia
Topee; and Azimoolah, the ladies' man; and Bala Rao, the twinges of
whose shoulder-blade heightened his avidity for the coming show. When
this concourse was noticed by our countrymen, their lips moved as if
in prayer. At the gate which led into the road they were stopped by
a squad of sepoys, and shot dead. Their bodies were thrown on to the
grass which bordered the highway, and became the sport of the rabble;
who, doubtless, pointed to them in turn, and said: "That Sahib is the
Governor of Bengal; and this is the Governor of Madras; and this is the
Governor of Bombay." Such was the joke which during that twelvemonth
went the round of Northern India.

About half-an-hour after this the woman called "the Begum" informed
the captives that the Peishwa had determined to have them killed. One
of the ladies went up to the native officer who commanded the guard,
and told him that she learned they were all to die. To this he replied
that, if such were the case, he must have heard something about it; so
that she had no cause to be afraid: and a soldier said to the Begum:
"Your orders will not be obeyed. Who are you that you should give
orders?" Upon this the woman fired up, and hurried off to lay the
affair before the Nana. During her absence the sepoys discussed the
matter, and resolved that they would never lift their weapons against
the prisoners. One of them afterwards confessed to a friend that his
own motive for so deciding was anxiety to stand well with the Sahibs,
if ever they got back to Cawnpore. The Begum presently returned with
five men, each carrying a sabre. Two were Hindoo peasants: the one
thirty-five years of age, fair and tall, with long mustachios, but
flat-faced and wall-eyed: the other considerably his senior, short,
and of a sallow complexion. Two were butchers by calling: portly
strapping fellows, both well on in life. The larger of the two was
disfigured by the traces of the small-pox. They were Mahommedans, of
course; as no Hindoo could adopt a trade which obliged him to spill the
blood of a cow.

These four were dressed in dirty white clothes. The fifth, likewise a
Mussulman, wore the red uniform of the Maharaja's body-guard, and is
reported to have been the sweetheart of the Begum. He was called Survur
Khan, and passed for a native of some distant province. A bystander
remarked that he had hair on his hands.

The sepoys were bidden to fall on. Half-a-dozen among them advanced,
and discharged their muskets through the windows at the ceiling of the
apartments. Thereupon the five men entered. It was the short gloaming
of Hindostan:--the hour when ladies take their evening drive. She who
had accosted the officer was standing in the doorway. With her were
the native doctor, and two Hindoo menials. That much of the business
might be seen from the verandah, but all else was concealed amidst the
interior gloom. Shrieks and scuffling acquainted those without that
the journeymen were earning their hire. Survur Khan soon emerged with
his sword broken off at the hilt. He procured another from the Nana's
house, and a few minutes after appeared again on the same errand. The
third blade was of better temper; or perhaps the thick of the work was
already over. By the time darkness had closed in, the men came forth
and locked up the house for the night. Then the screams ceased: but the
groans lasted till morning.

The sun rose as usual. When he had been up nearly three hours the five
repaired to the scene of their labours over-night. They were attended
by a few sweepers, who proceeded to transfer the contents of the house
to a dry well situated behind some trees which grew hard by. "The
bodies," says one who was present throughout, "were dragged out, most
of them by the hair of the head. Those who had clothes worth taking
were stripped. Some of the women were alive. I cannot say how many:
but three could speak. They prayed for the sake of God that an end
might be put to their sufferings. I remarked one very stout woman, an
half-caste, who was severely wounded in both arms, who entreated to be
killed. She and two or three others were placed against the bank of the
cut by which bullocks go down in drawing water. The dead were first
thrown in. Yes: there was a great crowd looking on: they were standing
along the walls of the compound. They were principally city people and
villagers. Yes: there were also sepoys. Three boys were alive. They
were fair children. The eldest, I think, must have been six or seven,
and the youngest five years. They were running round the well (where
else could they go to?) and there was none to save them. No; none said
a word, or tried to save them."

At length the smallest of them made an infantile attempt to get away.
The little thing had been frightened past bearing by the murder of
one of the surviving ladies. He thus attracted the observation of a
native, who flung him and his companions down the well. One deponent is
of opinion that the man first took the trouble to kill the children.
Others think not. The corpses of the gentlemen must have been committed
to the same receptacle: for a townsman who looked over the brink
fancied that there was "a Sahib uppermost." This is the history of
what took place at Cawnpore, between four in the afternoon of one day
and nine in the morning of another, almost under the shadow of the
church-tower, and within call of the Theatre, the Assembly Rooms,
and the Masonic Lodge. Long before noon on the sixteenth July there
remained no living European within the circuit of the station.

But there were plenty at no great distance: for, about the turn of
day, our force, after travelling five leagues, rested for a space in
a hamlet buried amidst a forest of mango groves. A mile to northward
lay the sepoy host, entrenched across the spot where the byway to
Cawnpore branches from the Grand Trunk Road. Seven guns commanded
the approaches, and behind a succession of fortified villages were
gathered five thousand fighting men, prepared to strike a last blow
for their necks and their booty. Havelock resolved to turn the flank
of the Nana: for he was aware that, if an opponent assails a native
army otherwise than as it intended to be assailed when it took up its
position, the general for a certainty loses his head, and the soldiers
their heart. The word was given, and our column defiled at a steady
pace round the left of the hostile line. The Fusileers led, with two
field-pieces in their rear. Then came the Highlanders, and the bulk of
the artillery; followed by the Sixty-fourth, the Eighty-fourth, and the
Sikh battalion. For some time the mutineers seemed to be unconscious
of what was going on: deceived by clumps of fruit-trees, that screened
our movement; and distracted by the sharp look-out which they were
keeping straight ahead. But soon an evident sensation was created
along their whole array. Their batteries began discharging shot and
shell with greater liberality than accuracy; while a body of cavaliers
pushed forward in the direction of our march, and made a demonstration
that did not lead to much. As soon as the enemy's flank was completely
exposed to the English attack, our troops halted, faced, and advanced
in the order wherein they found themselves, covered by two companies
of the Fusileers extended as skirmishers. Colonel Hamilton bade the
pipes strike up, and led the Seventy-eighth against a cluster of houses
defended by three guns. His horse was shot between his legs: but the
kilts never stopped until they were masters of all inside the village.
Three more pieces were captured by Major Stirling and the Sixty-fourth
regiment. The rebel infantry were everywhere in full retreat: for the
last half-hour nothing had been seen of the cavalry: and the battle
appeared to be won.

Our fire had already ceased. The officers were congratulating each
other on their easy victory: the privates were lighting their
cheroots, and speculating on the probability of an extra allowance of
rum: when of a sudden a twenty-four pounder, planted on the Cawnpore
Road, opened with fatal precision upon our exhausted ranks. Two large
masses of horsemen rode forward over the plain. The foot rallied, and
came down with drums beating and colours flying: and the presence of a
numerous staff, in gallant attire, announced that the Peishwa himself
was there, bent on daring something great in defence of his tottering
throne. Meanwhile our artillery cattle, tired out by continual labour
over vile roads and under a burning sun, could no longer drag the
cannon into action. The volunteers did whatever might be done by a
dozen and a half planters mounted on untrained hunters. The insurgents
grew insolent: our soldiers were falling fast: and the British general
perceived that the crisis was not yet over. He despatched his son to
the spot where the men of the Sixty-fourth were lying down under such
cover as they could get, with an order to rise and charge.

They leapt to their feet, rejoicing to fling aside their inaction: and
young Havelock placed himself at their head, and steered his horse
straight for the muzzle of the gun: mindful, perhaps, how, four and
forty years before, a light-haired strippling of his name and blood
showed our allies on the banks of the Bidassoa that an English steed
could clear a French breastwork.[5] But our people were not Spaniards:
and more than one indignant veteran asked in grumbling tones whether
the corps might not be trusted to the guidance of its own officers. Nor
did their major need that any one should show him the way, when once he
had dismounted, and thrown to a groom the bridle of his fidgety little
charger, a shapely bay Arab, on whose back, four months later, he was
shot dead amidst his shattered regiment in a glorious but ineffectual
attempt to retrieve a disastrous day.

And then the mutineers realized the change that a few weeks had wrought
in the nature of the task which they had selected and cut out for
themselves. The affair was no longer with mixed groups of invalids
and civilians, without strategy or discipline, resisting desperately
wherever they might chance to be brought to bay. Now from left to right
extended the unbroken line of white faces, and red cloth, and sparkling
steel. In front of all, the field officer stepped briskly out, doing
his best to keep ahead of his people. There marched the captains,
duly posted on the flank of their companies; and the subalterns,
gesticulating with their swords; and the sober, bearded serjeants, each
behind his respective section. Embattled in their national order, and
burning with more than their national lust of combat, on they came,
the unconquerable British Infantry. The grape was flying thick and
true. Files rolled over. Men stumbled, and recovered themselves, and
went on for a while, and then turned and hobbled to the rear. But the
Sixty-fourth was not to be denied. Closer and closer drew the measured
tramp of feet: and the heart of the foe died within him, and his fire
grew hasty and ill-directed. As the last volley cut the air overhead,
our soldiers raised a mighty shout, and rushed forward, each at his own
pace. And then every rebel thought only of himself. Those nearest the
place were first to make away: but throughout the host there were none
who still aspired to stay within push of the English bayonets. Such as
had any stomach left for fighting were sickened by a dose of shrapnel
and canister from four light guns, which Maude had driven up within
point-blank range. Squadron after squadron, battalion upon battalion,
these humbled Brahmins dropped their weapons, stripped off their packs,
and spurred, and ran, and limped, and scrambled, back to the city that
was to have been the chief and central abode of sepoy domination.

Nanukchund was hanging about the vicinity all the while the conflict
was in progress. "On the fifteenth," he writes, "I perceived some
sepoys and troopers running away in great confusion, and exclaiming
that they would have an easy victory, as the British were few, and
would soon be despatched. I was then sitting in an orchard, when I
observed a shopkeeper running up. He came and seated himself under a
tree near me, and told me that he was hastening to pack up his wife
and children, as the Europeans would arrive shortly, and would spare
nobody. I thought to myself, this must be true, and the gentlemen must
be very savage. I returned to the city, and saw several villagers with
their dresses changed coming along the banks of the Ganges, and I
joined them. The terror in the hearts of all was so great that they
asked each other no questions."

On the morrow, the day of the final struggle, Nanukchund says: "I was
in the streets soon after noon-time. People who have seen the fighting
declare that the rebels are running back, and that the mutineers are
trying to escape from the battle. Intelligence of this sort was brought
from time to time till it got dusk. The bad people are all crestfallen,
and advising each other to quit the town. I saw Kalka, a barber by
caste, who took service as a trooper under the Nana, running in for
his life, and trying to get something to eat from the bazaar. A little
while after it was proclaimed by beat of drum, that the inhabitants
must not get alarmed, as there were only one hundred Europeans
remaining: and that whoever brought in the head of an Englishman should
receive a hundred rupees. But news came that the Sahibs were close upon
the cantonments, and the man who was beating the drum abandoned it and
fled."

At nightfall Dhoondoo Punth entered Cawnpore upon a chestnut horse
drenched in perspiration, and with bleeding flanks. A fresh access of
terror soon dismissed him again on his way towards Bithoor, sore and
weary, his head swimming and his chest heaving. He was not in condition
for such a gallop, the first earnest of that hardship and degradation
which was thenceforward to be his portion. Far otherwise had he been
wont to return to his palace after a visit of state in the English
quarter, lolling, vinaigrette in hand, beneath the breath of fans,
amidst the cushions of a luxurious carriage, surrounded by a moving
hedge of outriders and running footmen. Once again in the home of his
fathers he slept as the wicked sleep, whose sin has found them out;
and, when the morrow's sun had set, he departed in craven trepidation,
and was never after seen among the haunts of peaceful men. But he was
true to himself, even in the crash of his falling dynasty: for, as he
stepped on board the barge that was to transport him to the confines of
Oude, he bethought him of the young mother who was recovering from the
pains of childbirth in the recesses of the female apartments. For the
first time he had practised economy in his enjoyments, and was now well
repaid: for his savings had borne high interest. There were two English
lives to take where a fortnight ago there had been but one. And then,
having filled to overflowing the measure of his guilt, he passed away
like a thief in the night, and left his wealth to the spoiler, and his
halls to the owl and the snake.

Some months subsequently two of our spies, who had been commissioned
to obtain information about Miss Wheeler, passed six days in the
train of the fugitive Nana in the depths of an Oude wilderness. In
the vicinity of his encampment they overtook a sepoy, with whom they
got into conversation. He asked why they had come into the desert.
They represented themselves as desirous of taking service with one of
the Peishwa's eunuchs, and reminded the soldiers that they were old
acquaintances of his own. He seems to have been a good-natured fellow:
for he told them that it was a dangerous neighbourhood for strangers,
but promised, since they had ventured that far, to introduce them as
his fellow-villagers. They found from twelve to fifteen thousand people
collected in the jungles. Everything betokened distress, disorder, and
discontent. Food was scarce and dear. The Maharaja had appropriated
the single pair of tents; so that his followers were fain to bivouack
under the foliage, starving on rice bought at twelvepence a pound;
wringing out their tattered garments, wet with the eternal rain; and
sighing for the curry-pots and tight roofs of the Cawnpore cantonments.
It is interesting to learn that the most poverty-stricken and dejected
of all the mutineers were the troopers of the Second Cavalry. The
horses had been reduced to less than a hundred, and the artillery to
a couple of field-pieces. The Nana, attended by a servant with an
umbrella, went daily to bathe in a river which flowed at the foot of
the hill whereon his pavilion stood. A crowd regularly assembled to pay
their respects as he passed. The two men especially noticed certain
officers of his household: the treasurer and paymaster; the driver
of his bullock-carriage; his chief baker, and chief gardener; his
shampooer, his sweeper, his boatman, and his wrestlers, both Hindoo
and Mahomedan. Bala was there, with the scar of an English bullet on
his shoulder, which he has probably by this time carried to an obscure
grave. The royal brothers were said to be very anxious to get back to
ease and civilization. Their wives were disposed upon an adjoining
range of heights, in company with the widows of Bajee Rao, who deserved
better than to be transported about against their will in the suite of
that unromantic Pretender. The ladies of the court travelled in six
palanquins, and the gentlemen on as many elephants.

Yet a few weeks, and Dhoondoo Punth, stripped of even these relics of
his former affluence and grandeur, escaped across the Nepaulese marches
to a life of suspense, and toil, and privation amidst the Himalayan
solitudes. The end of that man we know not, and may never know.
Perchance, as they hover over some wild ravine or wind-swept peak, the
eagles wonder at the great ruby which sparkles amidst the rags of a
vagrant who perished amidst the snows of a past December. Perchance
another generation will hear, not without a qualm of involuntary
awe and pity, that the world-noted malefactor is at last to expiate
misdeeds already classical. He may have eluded human justice. His hemp
may be still to sow. But his place in history is fixed irreversibly and
for ever. The most undaunted lover of paradox would hardly undertake to
wash white that ensanguined fame.

"In the month of July, a year and a half ago," so deposes a native
tradesman, eighteen months after the massacre, "I was in my house
at Ooghoo, when ten or eleven persons, who had fled from Cawnpore,
came to my shop, and asked for betel-leaf to chew. I showed them new
betel-leaf; when two of them, both Hindoos, told me to fetch good old
betel-leaf, or they would take my head off. I accordingly went to
another seller of betel-leaf, and bought the kind they asked for, and
told them the price of the same, namely ten pice. The two men said
they would only give me two. I replied that the betel-leaf was worth
ten pice, and that they ought at the least to give me eight pice: on
which they said that they would kill me and all my family. I stated I
was a poor man, and had got the betel-leaf from another person. They
then said that they had shown no pity to the ladies and children whom
they had just murdered, and who clung to their feet, and that they
would have no pity upon me. They frightened me greatly, showing me a
naked sword, covered with blood, and said that they would cut off my
head with the same. I wept," says this weak-minded young man, "and my
mother, hearing me cry, came out, and begged of them not to hurt me,
and that she would let them have more betel-leaf. After this they drew
water from a well close to my house, near a temple, and, conversing
among themselves, I heard their companions ask the two men how many
ladies they had killed. They replied that they had murdered twenty-one
ladies and children, and had received a reward of twenty-one rupees;
and added that at first the Nana ordered the sepoys to massacre the
ladies; but they refused; and that they two, with three others, carried
out the Nana's orders."

Another resident of Ooghoo thus tells his story: "The truth is that,
shortly after the Nana fled, I was sitting under a tamarind tree, where
all the men of the village assemble to talk, and was conversing with
a few others about the massacre of the Europeans at Cawnpore. We were
saying that the Nana ought not to have murdered the women and children:
when Souracun, Brahmin, of Ooghoo, who is thirty-five years old, and
has a defect in his eye, stated that the officials sent him to kill
the ladies; that he struck one with his sword, which bent, and he then
felt pity, and did not again strike. He showed us the bent sword." On
this occasion Souracun seems to have sunk the twenty-one rupees: which,
however, must have lasted him a good while if he made all his purchases
at the same rate as he bought betel-leaf. "All the village heard that
he was one of the murderers: but, since the British rule has been
re-established, no one speaks of it for fear he would be hung, and his
death be laid on their head."

There is good reason to believe that Souracun and his fellow met with
their deserts. Mr. Batten, now in high office at Agra, was the first
representative of settled government in the district of Cawnpore after
the troubles began to subside. He had the honour of removing the gibbet
from the ladies' well, and so tempered ferocity with common sense
that those who once railed at him as squeamish have at length come to
approve his conduct in spite of themselves. But he did not bear the
sword in vain. There were brought before him two Hindoos, one advanced
in years, and the other much his junior. These men were found guilty of
having compassed the death of an Eurasian, and doomed to the gallows.
No sooner had their sentence been pronounced than they poured forth
a torrent of foul abuse, and were dragged from the dock shouting, and
kicking, and cursing their judge and all his relatives on the maternal
side.

Now, the Oriental, always polite, becomes doubly courteous when death
is in immediate prospect. Then, more than ever, is he anxious to set
the company at their ease, and to make away with any disagreeable sense
of the false position in which the hangman stands towards the felon.
A civilian at Lucknow was superintending an execution when the rope,
which had doubtless borne more than one such strain, gave way, and the
convict fell to the ground. As he rose, he turned to the Englishman,
and said in the tone wherein men utter social conventionalities:
"Sahib, the rope's broke." He felt that it was incumbent on him to do
what he could towards relieving the general embarrassment arising from
a pause in the proceedings, awkward for all parties, but especially
for the commissioner, who was endowed with sensibility and genuine
refinement.

Batten, than whom no man was more conversant with the native character,
regarded the fury of his two prisoners as an extraordinary phenomenon,
and requested an explanation from the bystanders. He was told that the
pair were piqued at being condemned on so paltry a charge as the murder
of a half-caste, after having taken the principal part in a strange and
note-worthy exploit, at which they hinted in their cups; and that, poor
as they seemed, they rode fine horses, and wore gorgeous shawls, which
they were accustomed to speak of as having been presented to them by
the Nana in token of his esteem and satisfaction.

Few of the Cawnpore mutineers survived to boast of their enterprise.
Evil hunted these violent men to their overthrow. Those whom the halter
and the bayonet spared had no reason to bless their exemption. Many
whom pillage had enriched were slain for the sake of that which they
had about them by banditti who confidently presumed that the law would
not call in question the motives of him who exterminated a sepoy. All
who returned to their villages empty-handed were greeted by their
indignant families with bitter and most just reproaches. They had been
excellently provided for by the bounty of God and the Company. Their
pay secured them all the comforts which a Brahmin may enjoy, and left
the wherewithal to help less fortunate kinsmen. Yet they flung away
their advantages in wilful and selfish haste. They sinned alone and
for their private ends; but alone they were not to suffer. They had
changed the Sahibs into demons, and had conjured up tenfold more of
these demons than had hitherto been conceived to exist. They had called
down untold calamities upon the quiet peasantry of their native land.
And all this misery they had wrought in pursuit of the vision of a
military empire. Let them return to the desert, there to feed without
interruption on the contemplation of their power and pre-eminence.
Such were the taunts with which they were driven forth again into the
jungles: some to die by the claws of tigers on whose lair they had
intruded for refuge, or beneath the clubs of herdsmen whose cattle
they had pilfered in the rage of hunger: others to wander about,
drenched and famished, until amidst the branches of a tree into which
they had climbed to seek safety from the hyænas and the ague, or on
the sandy floor of a cave whither they had crept for shelter from the
tempest, they found at once their death-bed and their sepulchre. The
jackals alone can tell on what bush flutter the shreds of scarlet stuff
which mark the spot where one of our revolted mercenaries has expiated
his broken oath.

Soon after daybreak on Friday the seventeenth July, the English van
was marching across the desolate plain which lay to southward of the
city. Already the magical effect of the tropical rain had clothed
that expanse of parched and dusty soil with luxuriant grass, in which
rustled the feet of our soldiers as they pushed along, now stumbling
over a hidden cannon-ball, and now kicking up the fragments of a sepoy
skeleton. They traversed the deserted line of rebel posts, and halted
beneath the walls of the roofless barracks, pitted with shot and
blackened with flame, and beside the grave at whose mouth are scattered
the bones of our people, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon
the earth. Three Fridays back from that very morning the treaty of
surrender was being attested by a faithless signature, and sworn to
with perfidious vows: and again at a like interval of time the men
of the Second Cavalry were firing their stables, and saddling their
horses, and buckling on the swords that were to be fleshed in unmanly
strife. So much had been done and endured within a period of six weeks
and a space of six miles.

"At half past six A.M." writes Nanukchund, "the British force arrived
in cantonments outside the city. Those of the citizens who were
well-wishers to the Government brought them bread, butter, and milk. A
great crowd of the town's people assembled to see what was going on. I
also, who had not stepped out of my house for a month and a half for
fear of being murdered, now came out and went to cantonments. Generals
Havelock and Neill, and a number of other officers, were standing
there. Fruiterers, milkmen, buttermen, bakers, and other sellers of
provisions, were in attendance with their dollies. Those who were aware
of what was coming had made preparations on the night previous by
having provisions cooked in the bazaar. A little after eight the rebels
who had mined the magazine set fire to the powder, and fled. The report
of the explosion was so terrific, that the doors of city-houses fell
off their hinges."

Our old friend was now in high spirits. His turn had come, and he
showed himself fully equal to the occasion. "I continued," he says,
"to attend on the Sahibs with a view of performing acts of loyalty.
I set to work to find out what men of the city have been loyal, and
which of them disloyal, and how some of the public officers came to
present themselves to the Nana, while others contrived not to present
themselves. I laboured night and day at great personal inconvenience
to learn full particulars about these people. I questioned only
honourable and upright men, and no others." He is especially disturbed
at the assurance of one, Narain Rao, "who, just as I anticipated,
wishes to pass himself off as a well-wisher to the Government. But
there is a great crowd at this moment, and the Sahibs have no time
to spare. It is also very difficult to find witnesses against him by
private enquiries, and I see no chance of filing a complaint about it
before any officer." It seems strange that the Sahibs could not afford
time to pay off an old score that had really been incurred.

After the first outbreak of joy and welcome the inhabitants of Cawnpore
began to be aware that the English were no longer the same men, if
indeed they were men at all. The citizens, with their wives and
children, poured forth into the country by crowds, without stopping
to calculate whether they could establish their innocence. At such an
assize, and in the eyes of such a jury, absence was the only defence
that could avail aught. From noon till midnight, on the Lucknow and
Delhi highway were to be seen immense mobs rushing eastward and
westward in headlong haste. They did well both for their own security
and for our honour. The heat of the climate and the conflict, the
scarcity of food and the constant presence of disease, the talk which
they had heard at Calcutta, the deeds that they had been allowed and
even enjoined to commit during their upward progress, had depraved the
conscience and destroyed the self-control of our unhappy soldiers.
Reckless as men who for many weeks had never known what it was to
be certain of another hour's life,--half starved, and more than half
intoxicated,--they regarded carnage as a duty and rapine as a pleasure.
Havelock, in a report to the Commander in Chief, thus writes: "I have
ordered all the beer, wine, spirits, and every drinkable thing at
Cawnpore, to be purchased by the Commissariat. It will then be guarded
by a few men. If it remained at Cawnpore it would require half my force
to keep it from being drunk up by the other half, and I should not have
a soldier in camp. While I was winning a victory on the sixteenth some
of my men were plundering the Commissariat on the line of march."

And so the general purchased all the liquor. Oh that he could have
bought up the blood also! It was idle to count upon the forbearance
of poor ignorant privates, when the ablest among our officers had
forgotten alike the age in which he lived, and the religion that he
professed. This is an extract from a letter which would that Neill had
never found occasion to indite!

"Whenever a rebel is caught he is immediately tried, and, unless he
can prove a defence, he is sentenced to be hanged at once: but the
chief rebels or ringleaders I make first to clean up a certain portion
of the pool of blood, still two inches deep, in the shed where the
fearful murder and mutilation of the women and children took place. To
touch blood is most abhorrent to the high-caste natives. They think, by
doing so, they doom their souls to perdition. Let them think so. My
object is to inflict a fearful punishment for a revolting, cowardly,
barbarous deed, and to strike terror into these rebels. The first I
caught was a soubahdar, or native officer, a high-caste Brahmin, who
tried to resist my order to clean up the very blood he had helped to
shed: but I made the provost-martial do his duty, and a few lashes
soon made the miscreant accomplish his task. When done, he was taken
out and immediately hanged, and, after death, buried in a ditch at the
roadside."

For a parallel to such an episode we must explore far back into
the depths of time. Homer relates the punishment that befell those
maidservants, who in the palace of Ithaca had been unmindful of what
they owed to their absent lord. First they bore forth from the hall
the dead bodies of their paramours and placed them in the vestibule,
staggering beneath the weight: while Ulysses urged on the work by
word and gesture: and they laboured at the ungrateful task, wailing,
and shedding bitter tears. And afterwards with water and sponges they
washed the tables and the seats: and Telemachus and his henchmen
scraped with spades the floor of the chamber. But, when they had
set the house in order, the women were led out, and cooped up for a
while in a corner of the well-fenced court, in a strait place, whence
escape was none. And then Telemachus slung from the roof the cable of
a dark-prowed ship, and made it fast to a pillar of the colonnade,
stretching it high and taut, so that no foot might feel the ground.
And, as when swift thrushes or doves, making for their nest, have
dashed into a snare which a fowler had planted across the thicket: so
these women were fastened in a row, with a halter round every neck, to
die in unseemly fashion. And their feet fluttered a moment in the air:
but not for long.

It is curious that an act, which the Pagan poet allows an old
moss-trooper and his son to perpetrate in the flush of revenge and
victory, should have been revived by a Christian warrior after the
lapse of twenty-five centuries. And it must be owned that Neill
surpassed his model: for apparently the primary object of Ulysses was
to sweep away the traces of the butchery, and make his refectory clean
and habitable: an unpleasant drudgery, which, as with the simplicity of
a primitive Greek he reflected, might as well be performed by the least
worthy members of his household before they were taken to execution:
whereas the Englishman desired only to wound the sentiments of the
doomed men, and prolong their prospect of death with a vista of eternal
misery. And this, when the rallying-cry of the insurrection was the
preservation of caste:--when in the wide-spread confidence that our
faith did not seek to extend itself by carnal weapons lay the salvation
of the British supremacy!

But there was a spectacle to be witnessed which might excuse much.
Those who, straight from the contested field, wandered sobbing
through the rooms of the ladies' house, saw what it were well could
the outraged earth have straightway hidden. The inner apartment was
ankle-deep in blood. The plaster was scored with sword-cuts: not high
up, as where men have fought; but low down, and about the corners, as
if a creature had crouched to avoid a blow. Strips of dresses, vainly
tied round the handles of the doors, signified the contrivance to which
feminine despair had resorted as a means of keeping out the murderers.
Broken combs were there, and the frills of children's trousers, and
torn cuffs and pinafores, and little round hats, and one or two shoes
with burst latchets, and one or two daguerrotype-cases with cracked
glasses. An officer picked up a few curls, preserved in a bit of
card-board, and marked "Ned's hair, with love:" but around were strewn
locks, some near a yard in length, dissevered, not as a keepsake, by
quite other scissors. All who on that day passed within the fatal doors
agree positively to assert that no inscription of any sort or kind was
visible on the walls. Before the month was out, the bad habit, common
to low Englishmen, of scribbling where they ought not, here displaying
itself in an odious form, had covered the principal buildings of
Cawnpore with vulgar and disgusting forgeries, false in date, in taste,
in spelling, and in fact.

There were found two slips of paper: one bearing in an unknown hand a
brief but correct outline of our disasters. On the other a Miss Lindsay
had kept an account of the killed and wounded in a single family. It
runs thus, telling its own tale:

  "Entered the barracks May 21st.
  Cavalry left June 5th.
  First shot fired June 6th.
  Aunt Lilly died June 17th.
  Uncle Willy died June 18th.
  Left barracks June 27th.
  George died June 27th.
  Alice died July 9th.
  Mamma died July 12th."

The writer, with her two surviving sisters, perished in the final
massacre.

The library of the captives was small indeed: but such books as they
had were to the purpose. The earliest comers discovered among the
vestiges of slaughter a treatise, entitled "Preparation for Death:"
and a bible, which must have travelled in Major Vibart's barge down to
Nuzzufgur and back to Cawnpore, as may be gathered from the following
record:

  "27th June. Went to the boats.
  29th. Taken out of boats.
  30th. Taken to Sevadah Kothi. Fatal day."

Fatal indeed: for that was the day when "the wives sat down, each by
her husband;" when "the sepoys, going in, pulled them away forcibly;
but could not pull away the doctor's wife, who there remained;" when
"one Sahib rolled one way, and one another, as they sat." That bible
was a present from the dead to the dead: for on the fly-leaf appeared
this address: "For darling Mamma, from her affectionate daughter,
Isabella Blair:" the "Bella Blair," whose fate is mentioned in the
letter from young Masters to his father. The list was closed by a
church service, from which the cover had been stripped, and many
pages at the end torn off. Unbound and incomplete, it had fulfilled
its mission: for it opened of itself where, within a crumpled and
crimson-sprinkled margin, might be read the concise and beautiful
supplications of our Litany. It concluded, that mutilated copy, with
the forty-seventh Psalm, wherein David thanks the Almighty for a
victory and a saving mercy:

"O, clap your hands together, all ye people: O, sing unto God with the
voice of melody. He shall subdue the people under us: and the nations
under our feet. God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with
the sound of a trump. God rejoiceth over the heathen: God sitteth on
his holy seat. God, which is very high exalted, doth defend the earth,
as it were with a shield."

Such were the printed lines which, from amidst the rent tresses, and
shivered toys, and the scraps of muslin dyed with the most costly of
all pigments, lay staring up to high heaven in tacit but impressive
irony.

It is good that the house and the well of horror have been replaced by
a fair garden and a graceful shrine. But there let piety stay her hand.
A truce thenceforward to that mistaken reverence which loves to express
sorrow and admiration in guineas, and rupees, and the net product of
fancy bazaars! Too often already have architect and sculptor disguised
the place where a notable thing was done. India still contains some
sacred plots untouched by the art of the decorator,--some shapeless
ruins more venerable than dedicated aisle or stately mausoleum.
Still, amidst the fantastic edifices of Lucknow, hard by a shattered
gateway, rise or lie prostrate the pillars of a grass-grown portico.
Beneath that verandah, in the July evening, preferring the risk of the
hostile missiles to the confinement of a stifling cellar, was dying
Henry Lawrence, the man who tried to do his duty. It was not time and
the weather that made bare of plaster the brickwork of the old gate.
There from summer into winter,--until of his two hundred musketeers he
had buried four-score and five, and sent to hospital three-score and
sixteen,--earning his Cross in ragged flannel trousers and a jersey of
dubious hue, burly Jack Aitken bore up the unequal fray. An Englishman
does not require any extraneous incentives to emotion when, leaning
against the beams of that archway, he recalls who have thereby gone
in and out, bent on what errands, and thinking what thoughts. Between
those door-posts have walked Peel, and Havelock, and gentle Outram, and
stout Sir Colin, heroes who no longer tread the earth. Through the same
entrance passed, but not erect, the form of a tall grey soldier, stern
even in death, with a bullet-wound in the centre of his forehead, whom
the orderlies announced in whispers to be Neill of the Madras army. At
Delhi still, before the police-court in the Street of Silver, may be
seen the platform whereon, naked to the waist and besmeared with dirt
and blood, were exposed to three autumn suns the corpses of the last
descendants of Timour, slain and spoiled by one who knew neither pity
nor scruple. Still, after an evening stroll along the ridge outside the
battlements, as on his return he descends the slope rough with crag
and brushwood, the visitor may come upon a mound of rubbish so beaten
with shot that it is not easy to discern what of it is artificial
rampart, and what is broken ground. The rocks coated with frequent
films of lead, and the wreck of a small temple, testify that this is
the famous post, known in military history as the "Sammy-house picket,"
which Briton, and Sikh, and Ghoorka, fighting shoulder to shoulder,
hardly made good throughout the hundred days of the terrible siege.
On the summit of the tottering dome, at a height of some twelve feet
from the soil, presides a Hindoo idol with an elephant's head. There
he sits, a stupid little god, with arms reposing on his knees, gazing
across the valley at the minarets of the ancient capital, as though he
had never seen any stranger sight than the tourist in his white dress
and dust-coloured helmet, or heard any sounds more wild and maddening
than the chirping of the grasshoppers, and the lowing of the belated
cattle as they stray homeward to their stalls. Not urn, nor monolith,
nor broken column is so fit a monument for brave men as the crumbling
breastwork and the battered wall. And in like manner the dire agony of
Cawnpore needs not to be figured in marble, or cut into granite, or
cast of bronze. There is no fear lest we should forget the story of our
people. The whole place is their tomb, and the name thereof is their
epitaph. When the traveller from Allahabad, rousing himself to learn
at what stage of his journey he may have arrived, is aware of a voice
proclaiming through the darkness the city of melancholy fame,--then
those accents, heard for the first time on the very spot itself
which they designate, recall, more vividly than written or engraven
eloquence, the memory of fruitless valour and unutterable woe.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] Napier's "History of the War in the Peninsula." Book xx. Chapter iv.

THE END.


R. CLAY, SON, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS, BREAD STREET HILL.



Transcriber's Notes


Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Inconsistent hyphenation fixed.

P. 8: into the vernadah -> into the verandah.

P. 24: insolence and green -> insolence and greed.

P. 26: A battalian on march -> A battalion on march.

P. 50: paid to this delaration -> paid to this declaration.

P. 65: prophet seem to have been -> prophet seems to have been.

P. 80: their commander had adoped -> their commander had adopted.

P. 84: worst was beter -> worst was better.

P. 116: made night hideous -> made the night hideous.

P. 119: coat of white paster -> coat of white plaster.

P. 124: day week -> day.

P. 139: what they lake in energy -> what they lack in energy.

P. 172: We have been connonaded -> We have been cannonaded.

P. 215: our people though -> our people thought.

P. 236: hord of mutineers -> horde of mutineers.

P. 237: such an autcry -> such an outcry.

P. 291: Bramhin -> Brahmin.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cawnpore" ***

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