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But why not carry it a step further? If he is conscious of the justice of the plaudits, why should he not take part in them? If he is convinced that he is "a jolly good fellow ", why not join in proclaiming it? If the company insists on shouting "And so say all of us ", why should he be the sole absentee from the chorus ?
The late Duke of Devonshire, when Lord Hartington, is reported on one occasion to have paused and yawned in the middle of one of his own speeches in the House of Commons; and, when asked why he had done so, to have replied that he was so bored. But why stop there? If a man may yawn at himself or even laugh at himself-as some people rather enjoy doing why not applaud himself also? Why leave to other people a monopoly of the cheers ?
These reflections were suggested to me by the experience in question. One of the most famous incidents of the Indian Mutiny was the heroic conduct of the small party at the Delhi Telegraph Office on the fateful morning of 11th May 1857, when, upon the arrival of the mutinous Sepoys from Meerut, murder and pillage broke out in the imperial city. The scene is thus described in a wellknown history of the Mutiny :
In the telegraph office outside the city a young signaller named Brendish was standing, with his hand upon the signalling apparatus. Beside him was his fellow-signaller, Pilkington; and Mrs. Todd, the widow of their chief, who had been murdered a few hours before, was there too with her child. They heard the uproar and the rattle of musketry; and native messengers brought news of the
atrocities that were being enacted in the city. Flashed up the wires to Umballa, to Lahore, to Rawalpindi and to Peshawar, this message warned the authorities of the Punjab, “We must leave office. All the bungalows are on fire, burning down by the Sepoys from Meerut. They came in this morning. We are off." More fortunate than their countrymen in the city, the boys, with their helpless charge, were in time to escape the fate which, in the performance of their duty, they had dared.1
Forty-five years later, when I was Viceroy, I was invited to unveil a monument, which had been erected to commemorate this service of the Delhi Telegraphic Staff, on a spot within a few hundred yards of the scene of the original deed. Having ascertained that Brendish, one of the brave trio, was still living-Todd having, as already pointed out, been killed in the early morning of that terrible day and Pilkington having died about ten years laterI wrote to King Edward and asked him if he would authorise me to present the medal of the Victorian Order to Brendish at the ceremonial. The King gladly assented, and accordingly it was my proud privilege to pin the medal upon the veteran's breast.
When I entered the enclosure I saw Brendish, an old man with a flowing grey beard, seated a little below the platform on the right. He was in a state of considerable but legitimate excitement.
In my speech I described the incident of 1857, and made some general observations on the policy of commemorating such events. I had already in my
1 History of the Indian Mutiny, by T. Rice Holmes, fifth edition, 1898, p. 106.
opening remarks referred with satisfaction to the old man as still present among us, and I had noted that this observation was received with loud "Hear, hears" by him. But when I came to present the medal, and again singled him out as "the sole survivor of those immortal days ", and as " this old and faithful servant, who had helped to save the British Empire in India nearly half a century ago ", the veteran rose in his place and led the enthusiastic cheers of the audience.
It was all very simple and natural and touching. There was no trace of vanity or self-assertion in the action of the old man. He was cheering the memories of the past; his dead companions; the Indian Telegraph Service as a whole; and if incidentally at the same time he was cheering himself, why not? He was the sole survivor and there was no one else left to be cheered.
But I could not help thinking that the precedent, if adopted elsewhere, might lend a new savour to public life. It might even be carried a stage further. For a man might be permitted to cheer not merely the references to himself made in the speeches of other people, but his own speech as well. It would soon become a very popular practice; for the speaker, whether in the House of Commons or on the platform, would be entirely independent of the suffrages of his audience. He would never notice their possible failure to appreciate his efforts, since their silence would be drowned in his own applause. By this simple device every one would be pleased. The speaker would be gratified, for he would get his
the audience would be relieved because there would be no obligation on them to define their attitude; and no interest would suffer.
I have ever since felt inclined to commend this innovation to the politicians at home.
As a friend of mine, who is very fond of quoting Tennyson, remarked, when I passed on the suggestion to him:
Cheers, idle cheers!
I know now what they mean!
Who, since I cheer myself, need cheer no more!
THE SIKH WAY
Well, honour is the subject of my story.
SHAKSPEARE, Julius Caesar, Act I. Sc. 2.
Life every man holds dear; but the brave man
SHAKSPEARE, Troilus and Cressida, Act V. Sc. 3.
THE standards of personal or family honour and selfrespect that prevail among the Sikh community in India are of a very rigid and uncompromising character. Indeed they recall in some respects the ethical code that even in quite modern times has justified the practice of hara-kiri in Japan, and that inspired the immortal tragedy of the Forty-Seven Ronin.
A Sikh will not only take life, but will freely give up his own life, sooner than that an ineffaceable stain should rest upon his family escutcheon. I came across several instances of this remarkable trait while in India, of which I will relate the following.
There were four brothers, Sikhs, who were small landowners in a village in the Native State of Patiala in the Punjab. The two elder were soldiers in the Indian Army, where they both bore exemplary characters as quiet and well-behaved men. The two younger brothers stayed at home, and culti