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Private Wars.


of inordinate ambition, we intreat him to consider well, the import of the passage we are about to lay before him. It is not written by an advocate of territorial aggrandisement; it is not brought forward by its author to justify or palliate the annexation of provinces. It is the voluntary confession of a writer who, in spite of what he relates, contends strenuously for the expediency of preserving, for the sake of moral contrast, all those sources of iniquity, known under the name of native governments. If we be not grievously mistaken, Colonel Sleeman's facts will prevail over his arguments. The people of Great Britain are not a nation of Jesuits. As it is not their custom to do evil that good may come, so neither is it their custom to suffer evil that they may derive advantage from it. To overthrow the native princes may occasion us some pecuniary loss, may expose us to some obloquy; but, in the name of heaven, let us brave these trifling evils, which can affect only ourselves, that we may not be wanting in our duty to the natives of Hindustan, who look up, and have a right to look up to us, for protection. The condition from which we may deliver them is thus described:

"Though, no doubt, very familiar to our ancestors during the middle ages, the Bhoomeawut is a thing happily but little understood in Europe at the present day.

"Bhoomeawut, in Bundelcund, signifies a war or fight for landed inheritance, from Bhown, the land, earth, &c. ; Bhoomeea, a landed proprietor. When a member of the landed aristocracy, no matter however small, has a dispute with his ruler, he collects his followers, and levies indiscriminate war upon his territories, plundering and burning his towns and villages, and murdering their inhabitants, till he is invited back upon his own terms. During this war, it is a point of honour not to allow a single acre to be tilled upon the estate which he has deserted, or from which he has been driven; and he will murder any man who attempts to drive a plough in it, together with all his family, if he can.

"The smallest member of this landed aristocracy of the Hindú military class, will often cause a terrible devastation during the interval that he is engaged in his Bhoomeawut, for there are always vast numbers of loose characters floating upon the surface of Indian society, ready to 'gird up their loins,' and use their sharp swords in the service of marauders of this kind, when they cannot get employment in that of the constituted authorities of government.

"Such a marauder has generally the sympathy of nearly all the members of his own class and clan, who are apt to think that his case may be one day their own. He is thus looked upon as contending for the interests of all; and if his chief happen to be on bad terms with other chiefs in the neighbourhood, the latter will clandestinely support the outlaw and his cause, by giving him and his followers shelter in their

hills and jungles, and concealing their families and stolen property in their castles. It is a maxim in India, and in the less settled parts of it a true one, that, One pindara or robber makes a hundred; that is, where one robber, by a series of atrocious murders and robberies frightens the people into non-resistance, a hundred loose characters, from among the peasantry of the country, will take advantage of the occasion, and adopt his name, in order to plunder with the smallest possible degree of personal risk to themselves.

"Some magistrates and local rulers, under such circumstances, have very unwisely adopted the measure of prohibiting the people from carrying, or having arms in their houses. The very thing which, above all others, such robbers most wish; for they know, though such magistrates and rulers do not, that it is the innocent only, and the friends to order, who will obey the command. The robber will always be able to conceal his arms, or keep with them out of the reach of the magistrates; and he is now relieved altogether from the salutary dread of a shot from a door or window. He may rob at his leisure, or sit down like a gentleman, and have all that the people of the surrounding towns and villages possess, brought to him; for no man can any longer attempt to defend himself or his family.

"Weak governments are soon obliged to invite back the robber on his own terms, for the people can pay them no revenue, being prevented from cultivating their lands, and obliged to give all they have to the robbers, or submit to be plundered of it. Jansee and Jhalone are exceedingly weak governments, from having their territories studded with estates, held rent free, at a quit rent, by Powar, Bondela, and Dhundele barons, who have always the sympathy of the numerous chiefs and their barons of the same clans around.

"In the year 1832, the Powar barons, of the estates of Nonnere, Signee, Odegow, and Belchree, in Jansee, had some cause of dissatisfaction with their chief, and this they presented to Lord William Bentinck, as he passed the province, in December. His lordship told them, that these were questions of internal administration, which they must settle amongst themselves, as the Supreme Government would not interfere. They had, therefore, only one way of settling such disputes, and that was to raise the standard Bhoomeawut, and cry, To your tents, O Israel.' This they did; and though the Jansee chief had a military force of 12,000 men, they burnt down every town and village in the territory that did not come into their terms, and the chief had possession of only too,-Jansee, the capital, and the large commercial town of Alow, when the Bandelah rajahs of Orcha and Duteea, who had hitherto clandestinely supported the insurgents, consented to become the arbitrators. A suspension of arms followed, the barons got all they demanded, and the Bhoomeawut ceased. But the Jansee chiefs, who had hitherto lent large sums to the other chiefs in the provinces, was reduced to the necessity of borrowing from them all, and from Gwalior, and mortgaging to them a good portion of their lands.

"Gwalior is weak itself in the same way. A great portion of its

Private Wars.


lands are held by barons of the Hindú military classes, equally addicted to Bhoomeawut, and one or more of them is always engaged in this kind of indiscriminate warfare, and it must be confessed that unless they are always considered ready to engage in it, they have very little chance of retaining their possessions on moderate terms, for those weak governments are generally the most rapacious when they have it in their


"A good deal of the lands of the Mohammedan sovereign of Oude are, in the same manner, held by barons of the Rajpoot tribes, and some of them are almost always in the field engaged in the same kind of warfare against their sovereign. The baron who pursues it with vigour is almost sure to be invited back upon his own terms very soon. If his lands are worth 100,000l. a year, he will get them for 10,000l.; and have this remitted for the next five years, till ready for another Bhoomeawut, on the ground of the injuries sustained during the last, from which his estate has to recover. The baron who is peaceable and obedient, soon gets rack-rented out of his estate and reduced to beggary.

"In 1818, some companies of my regiment were, for several months, employed in Oude after a young Bhoomeawutee of this kind, Seid Ruttun Singh. He was the nephew and heir of the Rajah of Pentabgur, who wished to exclude him from his inheritance by the adoption of a brother of his young bride. Seid Ruttun had a small village for his maintenance, and said nothing to his old uncle till the governor of the province, Gholab Hoseyn, accepted an invitation to be present at the ceremony of adoption. He knew that if he acquiesced any longer he would lose his inheritance, and cried, "To your tents, O Israel!' he got a small band of three hundred Rajpoots, with nothing but their swords, shields, and spears, to follow him, all of the same clan and true men. They were bivouacked in a jungle not more than seven miles from our cantonments at Pertabghur, when Gholab Hoseyn marched to attack them with three regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and two nine-pounders. He thought he should surprise them, and contrived so that he should come upon them about daybreak. Seid Ruttun knew all his plans. He placed one hundred and fifty of his men in ambuscade at the entrance of the jungle, and kept the other hundred and fifty by him in the centre. When they had got well in, the party in ambush rushed upon the rear, while he attacked them in front. After a short resistance Gholab Hoseyn's force took to flight, leaving five hundred men dead on the field and their two guns behind them. Gholab Hoseyn was so ashamed of the drubbing he got, that he bribed all the newswriters within twenty miles of the place, to say nothing about it in their reports to court, and he never made any report of it himself. A detachment of my regiment passed over the dead dodies, in the course of the day, on their return to cantonments from detached command, or we should have known nothing about it. It is true we heard the firing, but that we heard every day; and I have seen from my bungalow half-a-dozen villages in flames at the same time from this species of contest between the Rajpoot landholders and the government authorities. Our canton

ments were generally full of the women and children who had been burnt out of house and home."


Having thus exhibited some few of the features by which the governments of the native princes are distinguished, it may be useful to suggest, rather than describe, the contrast supplied by our own rule. History mentions it among the merits of one of the military states of antiquity, that the women of the capital had not, during five hundred years, beheld the smoke of an enemy's camp. To the praise of having so long protected India from foreign invasion, we cannot yet lay claim; but, as we have already observed, it is now upwards of eighty years since the natives of Bengal have been visited by the scourge of war; and, throughout the whole of the peninsula, and Hindustan itself, we may boldly affirm, that the paroxysms of contest and anarchy, which invariably precede the downfall of a state, have constantly been growing fewer, and less violent, in proportion to the growth of our influence. has this fact escaped the notice of the inhabitants. They feel and enjoy the state of tranquillity which our arms have procured for them. Throughout the northern provinces, the peasant will point out to any one who visits the country, immense tracts of land, now covered, as far as the eye can reach, with a sea of waving grain, interspersed with smiling hamlets and homesteads, which, not many years ago, were an unproductive waste, ravaged with fire and sword by the Sikhs and Mahrattas. In those days, the farmer ploughed his field with a sword buckled to his girdle, while a strong guard of matchlock-men was stationed at the several corners of his field, to prevent him and his cattle from being swept away by gangs of marauders. Now, the same individual is found whistling or singing at his work, while the sword hangs up rusting in his cottage, or has been bartered away for something useful at the neighbouring town. For this state of things, it is universally felt the country is indebted to the English. Another blessing which we have conferred on the Hindús may, perhaps, be thought of more equivocal character here at home. We allude to the entire abolition of the pilgrim-tax throughout India. It is, of course, difficult for us to enter into the religious feelings of a people like the Hindus, who regard as something inestimable the privilege to visit, without let or hindrance, the various holy places which exist in their land. But so it is; and, in consequence of our having facilitated this progress, when a body of pilgrims meet an Englishman on any of the great roads, they are sure to greet him as he passes with shouts and blessings. Secretly, it would almost appear that they attach something of sacred to their conception of our character. Few are the instances on record of natives rising against an Englishman. When the


Respect for the English.


wives and daughters of our officers arrive at Calcutta, and have to join their husbands and fathers at distant stations, they fearlessly undertake a journey of twelve or fourteen hundred miles, from the Hooghly, for example, to Indiana, without escort or servants, and attended only by the Hindús who bear their palanquins; yet there is no instance on record of the slightest insult having ever been offered to any of these ladies. Another evidence of respect for the English occurred during the mutiny at Barrackpore. Though resolved to set the government of the province at defiance, in order to carry a point on which they had set their hearts, the idea of inflicting injury on any particular member of the ruling caste never occurred to them; or if it did, only presented itself to suggest the necessity of guarding against it. The mutinous soldiers bound themselves by oath, not under any circumstances to molest or injure any English lady or child, and, to show that the greatest faith was put in their professions, it may be mentioned that the children of Major suffered to wander into the lines of the mutinous regiments and play with the soldiers up to the very hour in which the artillery opened upon them.


Another very curious proof of the favourable light in which we are beginning to be contemplated by the sacerdotal caste which necessarily exercises the greatest influence over the minds of the people, is thus given by Colonel Sleeman.

"A very learned Hindoo once told me, in central India, that the oracle of Mahadeo had been, at the same time, consulted at three of his greatest temples-one in the Deccan, one in Rajpootana, and one, I think, in Bengal, as to the result of the government of India by Europeans, who seemed determined to fill all the high offices of administration with their own countrymen, to the exclusion of the people of the country. A day was appointed for the answer; and when the priest came to receive it, they found Mahadeo (Sewa), himself, with an European complexion, and dressed in European clothes! He told them that their European government was in reality nothing more than a multiplied incarnation of himself; and that he had come among them in this shape, to prevent their cutting each other's throats, as they had been doing for some centuries past; that these, his incarnations, appeared to have no religion themselves, in order that they might be the more impartial arbitrators between the people of so many different creeds and sects, who now inhabited the country; that they must be aware that they never before had been so impartially governed, and that they must continue to obey these governors, without attempting to pry further into futurity or the will of their gods. Mahadeo performs a part in the great drama of the Ramaen, or the Rape of Secta, and he is the only figure there represented with a divine face."

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