페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Were they not jealous of the officer's influence with his men? Did they not issue order after order, till nothing was left but the shadow and the name of influence? Did they not remove and re-remove, till officers and men were as much strangers to each other as his Majesty and the Calmuck Tartars? And did they not, to crown all, and to exterminate every atom of respect that might still linger in the breast of the sepoy towards his officer, cause the Native regiments to be paraded in square, and then have an officer of his Majesty, high in Brevet rank, ride into that square, and ask the men (on an enemy's frontier, be it remembered) if they had any complaints to make against their officers? And when the men, in astonishment, inquired the meaning of such words, were they not asked if any of their officers had ill used them, or borrowed money from them without repaying them? Yet it is expected that these men will place implicit confidence in the very officers that have but just been degraded in their estimation, by being told they might possibly ill use or plunder them. The Government and Court have deprived them of the esteem and devotion of the sepoy, because, of all their scheming, he only understands that they have separated him from his officer, whom he loved and trusted, that they may the more easily overcome his objections to go on board ship, and eat food that he loathes and detests.

With regard to the superior branches of the army, there was a time when the Company's military measures were carried into effect almost entirely by their own officers; but, since the peace in Europe, employment has been wanting for the favourites at the Horse Guards, and India presented the only field. From this time it has been discovered, that our sepoys are of little or no use, and that the Company's officers are a parcel of old women: from this time, the rights and privileges of the Indian army have, one by one, been swallowed up at the Horse Guards; and if any thing in the shape of remonstrance has been made use of by those who ought to guard our rights, they have been given to understand, there was a necessity for a controlling power of Europeans to keep down discontent. Swarms of King's officers, young men in life, but (from having been in high favour at Carlton House, or having passed some time on guard at St. James's) old in brevet rank, came to this country, and no sooner did they arrive than they were latterly so distributed, that scarcely a single Company's officer commanded a brigade; and what has been the consequence? Have our troops (I speak of the whole army) distinguished themselves more than they were wont to do? Have they contended with the enemy with more success than formerly? or is the present war likely to be concluded with more despatch? When we see a system which, from 1756 to 1822, has been invariably crowned with success, changed for an unsuccessful one, those who have made the change should be able to give good and substantial reasons for it, so shall they not answer to the nation, which, from no other motive than the desire of exercising patronage, they have humbled to the dust? They have attempted to pluck the laurel from the brows of our sepoys, have thrown into neglect and cast aside our best and bravest officers, and when a sufficient number of their creatures were not at hand, have taken them from the sister presidency, created Brigadier-Generals as if solely for the purpose of excluding the Company's officers from command, and treating them with such marked neglect as could not fail to deprive them of the confidence of their sepoys.

Is it possible, or is it to be supposed, that officers can feel that interest and zeal in the service which they formerly did, when they can scarcely take up a newspaper without finding the most unjustiable reflections cast upon the Native soldiery? One writer only wishes that the " five and twenty thousand Britons in this country" could get at the whole Native army, and " He" should not fear the result. Another, impudently setting truth and public documents aside, asserts that they (the sepoys) have never performed one gallant action without having King's troops to lead them on. He who would dare to disprove such assertions in Calcutta now, Mr. Editor, must be a bold man. 'Tis nothing that we know them to be false. 'Tis nothing that there are hundreds who could prove them so from ocular demonstration. The man who should attempt it here, would rush into certain destruction. It is not to be expected, however, that such falsehoods shall stand recorded against our brave sepoys, and no man say nay to them. For the benefit of such liberal, and no doubt disinterested writers, as I have quoted from, I shall take the liberty of stating a few facts.

I find, in 1781, the 24th battalion of Bengal Sepoys, before Cuddalore, defeated some of the oldest French regiments with the bayonet. This, however, is going too far back. At the battle of Lnswarree, Lord Lake observed to Majors White and Gregory, that if they did not advance immediately, his Majesty's 76th would be destroyed. The 12th Bengal regiment, with six companies of the 16th Native infantry, found his Majesty's 76th driven behind a mosque, by a large body of infantry, with a great number of guns; this body they charged, and captured every (run and colour belonging to it, and thereby saved his Majesty's regiment. Next day, they were publickly thanked by Lord Lake for their timely support of his Majesty's 76th. Again, before Bhurtpoor, we find his Majesty's 75th refusing to advance to the storm, stating the breach to be nothing but a slaughter-house: Here the 2d and 12thNative infantry occupied their place as volunteers, and led the storm; thrice were their colours planted on the breach; and when, hopeless of success, they were ordered to retire, the men exclaimed: "Either we must carry the place, or die where we are!" In the Nepaul campaigns, the divisions which alone carried success before them, were Sir David Ochterlony's and General Nicholl's; yet these were composed exclusively of Native troops, and were only two out of Orien'al Herald, Vol, 10. H

the five divisions employed. In the last Mahratta war, were the Native troops backward f Look at the returns of killed and wounded at the battle of Mahidpoor—Which of his Majesty's regiments headed the rifle corps? At Nagpoor, that same regiment, or a part of it, the Royals, which, from 5 a. m. till 1 p. m., were still unsated with the blood of that most cruelly destroyed regiment, the 47th Native infantry, refused to advance; and I believe there are now in existence individuals, who, with a few men of the 22d Native infantry, were obliged to bring off the gun which the Royals left behind them. Many other instances could I adduce in which the Native regiments have stepped forward with a promptitude nothing could surpass, and offered their services; hut from custom or policy they have never been accepted. It is not my object to argue this policy; it may be good, or it may not; but surely there is little justice in accusing men of not doing that which they are not permitted to attempt.

You will observe, Sir, that I have only mentioned instances of gallantry among the Native regiments with his Majesty's troops, or, as in the Nepaul war, when contending against the same enemy and the same difficulties. The immense extent of our empire in the East makes any allusion to their general courage superfluous. It was asserted, that "they (the sepoys) have never performed a gallant action, without having King's troops to lead them on:" We see how « rll the assertion is borne out by proofs, and what a great regard the writer of the assertion has evinced for truth. One only blot on the character of a particular regiment, is made by the designing a sufficient reason for throwing the merits of the whole Native army into the back ground. Have these people forgotten Mutlra? His Majesty's 22d regiment mutinied there, disowned their officers, and appointed a Serjeant to command them: Was this exceeded by the 47th Native infantry? His Majesty's 22d was disarmed and dispersed by Native cavalry and infantry, without one drop of blood being spilt! Need I state the fate of the unhappy 47th in the massacre at Barrackpoor? Did not the daily papers at Calcutta teem with the praises of the Royals, for their services on that melancholy occasion? Services! against men in full flight, without arms in their hands! It was certainly more easy to display their gallantry against those unfortunates, than against the brave defenders of Nagpore. Yet, I believe this regiment, at this moment, bear the word " Nagpore" on their colours, for their distinguished services at that place. I wonder his Majesty did not allow them to emblazon 0 Asscerghur" on their colours also; or were they afraid, if they did, that the ghost of their colonel, left in the enemy's hands during a sortie, and sabred, would rise up in judgment against them i

. But enough has been said to satisfy any dispassionate man, that the slanders heaped upon our Native soldiery are engendered in malice and spleen, and entirely without foundation. If the morale of our Native army has been destroyed, the Government have destroyed it. If they wish to restore it, (as by their circulars it would appear they do,) let them retrace their steps as soon as possible; let them give back to commanding officers the powers they have snatched from their hands; let them invest commandants of regiments with the same full authority held by colonels in his Majesty's army; let every officer of the staff (giving him first the option of rejoining if he likes) be struck off the strength of their respective regiments, and their vacancies filled up ; let the different local corps be thrown into the line, and let the whole army be augmented in proportion to the extent of country it has to protect, with a much larger proportion of European officers for each regiment, and to all of them an additional surgeon, for at present, if our army is detached, it must physic itself. Let the sepoys have great coats or cloaks given to them, as the Europeans have, and let their health^ and comforts be studied as well as the European soldiers; let, in short, justice be only done to the Native troops by the Government, and we shall never hear again of circulars sent round to inquire into the discontents of the Native army.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant, Iota.

SONNET.

Ye eyes of heaven! what forms behind you wear

Such burning glories as ye shed on earth?

Where is the Eden of their heavenly birth?

Oh! where the dwellings of those shapes of air?

Perchance, loved ones who felt, like us, despair,

And all the sickening ills of this world's dearth,

Released from clay, may now come hurrying forth,

To waft above each heart-revealing prayer,—

To listen to each sorrow of our lot,—

And tell Earth's children, with a voice of light,

They are for ever in their watchful sight,

And never can In glory be forgot;—

Oh! love's a light that never can expire—

It poors o'er heaven the radiance of its fire.

L.P.

* That of 1777, four volumes quarto.

100

I '- I . .'A SECOND VOICE FROM INDIA.

To the Editor of the Oriental Herald.

Sir,—Before entering on the grievances of which I have to complain, it may be as well to state, that I am in no way connected with a "Voice" which arrived sometime ago in England from Bombay in a very feeble state—and being placed under the care of those experienced practitioners Messrs. Parbury, Kingsbury and Co., was swollen into an octavo, and issued forth for the edification of the well disposed from amidst the various accents, acute and grave, which resounded from the recesses of the aforesaid gentlemen's repository, striving to penetrate the " dull cold car'" of the leaden heads of Leadeuhall-street. It is not for me to raise my "Voice" at the expense of that of Captain Seely ; but any one who will take the trouble to attend to the two voices will be satisfied that they never could have proceeded from the same lungs. Their quality and portamento (as the Italians have it) are essentially different. Mine may be termed "vox populi,"—his, "vox et prreterca nihil." As there is reason however to fear that, spite of its dulcet tones, spite of its being puffed, published, and repuffed by Messrs. Parbury and Co., and spite of its being honoured with the distinguished patronage of the 24 gentlemen to whom, as Mr. Murray says in his Representative it would be a sarcasm to apply the term "statesmen" it might prove too feeble, too aotto we to be re-echoed to the Asiatic shores (even under the fostering auspices of the Asiatic Journal)—I think it right to do justice to the motives of my brother " Voice"; whatever may be its imperfections, however deficient in taste and feeling, and however monotonous and wanting in expression, the absence of all sordid and base motives is sufficiently proved by the fact (and I call on the honourable Company's booksellers to attest it) that Captain Seely's "voice" has never been bought!—and so "requiescat in pace." It might be necessary also to disclaim consanguinity with those oracular voices which occasionally raise themselves in the Leadenhall senate, and put forth volumes of antiquities and statistics which they call upon their hearers to receive as the result of their experience and observation in India, and to subscribe to implicitly. But my preamble has already been sufficiently long, and I must confine myself to the object I had in view in addressing you, viz. the wrongs which India receives at the hands of England. To enumerate all the benefits that England has derived from this much injured country would require more space than you can afford. I will boldly affirm that there is scarcely an art or science, scarcely a pursuit, useful, or ornamental that does not draw largely on India for some of the essentials to its excellence. Take, for example,

« 이전계속 »