« PreviousContinue »
THE NATIONAL REVIEW.
ART. L-PRINCIPLES OF INDIAN GOVERNMENT. An Address to Parliament on the Duties of Great Britain to India. By Charles Hay Cameron. London, 1853.
Letters of Indophilus to the "Times." London, 1857.
Despatch to the Governor of India on the subject of General Education in India. Parliamentary Paper, 393. 1854.
Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official. By Lieut.-Colonel Sleeman. London, 1844.
A Selection of Articles and Letters on various Indian Questions, including Remarks on European Parties in Bengal, Social Policy and Missions in India, and the Use of the Bible in Government Schools. Contributed to the English Press by Hodgson Pratt, Bengal Civil Service; late Inspector-General of Schools in South Bengal. London: Chapman and Hall, 1857.
Les Anglais et l'Inde. Par E. de Valbezen. Paris, 1857.
NOTHING can be graver or more startling than the crisis through which our Indian Empire has just passed. Nothing can be more horrible than the details of the several catastrophes at Delhi, Jhansi, and Cawnpore. Imagination probably never picturedhistory certainly never recorded-tragedies more frightful or revolting. It may be doubted whether the annals of the human race, even in the rudest times, and among the most savage tribes, could afford a parallel to the hideous barbarities which have just been practised by a people whose civilisation is the oldest in the world on a people whose civilisation is the highest in the world. A few thousand Europeans, scattered among a hundred and fifty millions of Asiatics, have been roughly roused from a noon-day dream of easy and confident security, and compelled to fight against overwhelming odds for existence and for empire; and have had to defend their conquests against the very men through whose instrumentality they had won them. "A man's focs have been those of his own household." In the dead of night we have been treacherously assailed, in the crisis of battle we have been basely deserted, by the very servants who had eaten our salt, by the very soldiers whom we had led to victory. And gentlemen No. XI. JANUARY 1858.
bred in the lap of luxury, and ladies tenderly and delicately nurtured, and infants of helpless age,—our own wives and sisters and brethren and children, with whom we have lived and toiled and danced and sung-accustomed only to the quiet refinements and gentle manners and courteous amenities of the most polished and facile existence upon earth,-have had to endure brutalities and tortures at the very thought of which the soul sickens and the brain reels ingenious, elaborate, nameless cruelties, such as no European ferocity, even when inspired and goaded by a persecuting superstition, ever yet dreamed of inflicting on its victims.
Yet even amid horrors and calamities like these, we may discern gleams of consolation and may extract seeds of good. They are something more than "adversities;" yet have their "sweet uses," and their "precious jewel" also. There is scarcely any root so bitter or so poisonous that, when subjected to the right alembic, it will not yield medicines both anodyne and curative. Thus even the Indian revolt has its bright and its serviceable sides; and on these only we design to dwell. To the details of the mutiny we shall refer no further than as they illustrate the native character, or are suggestive of the course which in future it may be incumbent on us to pursue. And foremost among the bright features of the stormy picture is, unquestionably, the display it has afforded of the grand qualities of Englishmen. We will affect no false modesty in speaking of matters of which every Briton has reason to be proud, and which no other race, we believe in our hearts, could have rivalled. Taken by surprise, caught at disadvantage, over-matched a hundredfold in numbers, called upon suddenly to assume new duties and grave responsibilities,-sometimes to wield the sword where they were trained only to the pen, sometimes to strike for life and honour where they had been accustomed only to be obeyed servilely by word or sign,-in every case, and under every emergency, they have nobly vindicated the national character and fame.
"The deacon of the mariners said well,
'We Arteveldes are of the canvas which men use
Civilians, writers, planters, have shown themselves as equal to the occasion as soldiers practised in the field. If we except one or two old valetudinarians, not a single man in either service has shown the least deficiency in either physical or moral courage. Neither man nor woman has shown the white feather, either as regards action or endurance. Few have begged their life; none have purchased it by base compliances. They have disdained to bargain or to barter. They have stood to their arms and defended their posts, not simply with the indomitable English pluck which every where shines forth, not with the mere courage of despair, but with the buoyant spirits of conscious and indefeasible superiority.