Sketches of the Relations Subsisting Between the British Government in India: And the Different Native States (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Sketches of the Relations Subsisting Between the British Government in India: And the Different Native States

The Hindoos, of whom the great majority of our army consists, have no national cause of their own to support, nor is there any period in their history to which they can revert as furnishing them with any thing national. India, under its Hindoo dynasties, was apparently split into numerous petty states, each contending with the other for supremacy, some of them obtaining it for a time, and extending their empire over tracts of country equal to European kingdoms of the first magnitude. But these have ages ago passed away; the Hindoo of the present day knows not to which dynasty his forefathers belonged, nor does he care. He belongs himself to some great class or portion of the Hindoo people. The religion and privileges of that class are things very sacred in his eyes; and these give to him and to them a separate political existence, which is unconnected with Government, and which is apparently sufficient to all. The tribes accustomed to the use of arms either are, originally, or very soon became, distinct from the great body of the Hindoo people. Those who are disciplined in our ranks have undoubtedly a character which separates them in a great measure from their own families, and which unfits them in old age for those pursuits, and tranquil and domestic enjoyments in which their childhood was spent. They have but little interest in or concern with the form of our civil institutions; they are generally employ ed in camps, and separated from the great body of the people; and although they watch with interest and anxiety the effect of our administration on their own villages or possessions, yet this is the extent of their anxiety; and the most arbitrary Governments in India may calculate with certainty on implicit obedience and sup port from its mercenary soldiery in the most tyrannical of its mea sures towards its subjects. A great majority of the Hindoos in the Bengal army unfortunately belong to foreign possessions; they are more liable to be influenced by our political than by our domestic economy, and the former has been throughout our career lcss defined and worse regulated than the latter. The Hindoo sepoy of the Madras army is still further removed from the great body of the Hindoo people than his brother of Bengal. He is very gene rally of low caste, born and bred in camp. His regiment is his home, he neither knows nor cares for any other. It is a little moveable colony, separated in a great measure from every other regiment, and from the rest of the world. The Hindoo and Jew of' the Bom bay army, are perhaps less removed from civil life than the Madras soldier; but they too, that is, the Hindoos, are very often of sepa rate caste from the great majority of their fellow-countrymen, have no rights br privileges in civil society worth defending, and like the Madras sepoy, are satisfied with their condition in our army, because they have advantages there which would not belong to them elsewhere.

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