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THE LIBRARY

OF
THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA
LOS ANGELES



TURNING POINT IN THE INDIAN MUTINY



A TURNING POINT



IN THE INDIAN MUTINY



BY

I. GIBERNE SIEVEKING

AUTHOR OF

'MEMOIR AND LETTERS OF FRANCIS w. NEWMAN'



' Theirs is the battle ! Theirs wholly,
For that Day is a day will be written in story
To the great world's end. and for ever :
So, let them have the Spurs, and the glory '



' No man who is not endowed with a comprehensive imagination can govern

India with success Dalhousie had no imagination.'

SIR JOHN KAVE

' I believe it would be better for the land in which we live, if India
appealed more than it does to our imagination. The interest so created

would help to bridge over the gap between East

and West.' MACPHAIL.

' The defence of Arrah may be considered one of the most remarkable feats
in Indian history.' SIR VINCENT EYRE.




THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED
TO

THOMAS GISBORNE GORDON

IN MEMORY OF AN OLD FRIENDSHIP
IN EARLIER DAYS



1411725



PREFACE

THIS book aims at throwing a light on a very
crucial time in our Empire's history.

It aims at lighting up that part of England's
memory which is concerned with a certain siege
which happened more than fifty years ago, lest
she forget splendid deeds done by heroic Eng-
lishmen in the Indian Mutiny ; men who, at
out-of-the-way stations, fought against gigantic
odds, with only a few troops to support them
fought, and saved their country's colours.

These were the men who held up the lamp
of the Ideal high above the heads of their
fellow-men. Would there were more of them
here to-day in England ! Men, who simply
could not be discouraged by any amount of
failure, by any amount of discouragement.
They were aware of the inner meaning of
those inspiring words : * how far High Failure
overleaps the bounds of low successes.' And



vi PREFACE

though for many of them, the last words that
sounded in their dying ears were those of
' defeat ' and * disaster,' though the bitter taste
of the fruit of War was on their lips, and
ghastly sights met their eyes, theirs was the
unconquerable spirit which can die, and yet
remain at the supreme moment of death victor,
in spite of all.

To-day in the hearts of many the light of
Chivalry has burned very dim ; that of Reverence
flickers low; while the power of Idealising lights
comparatively few. The following pages are full
of the deeds of some of the greatest heroes the
world has ever seen ; and in almost all these men
the fires of Chivalry, 1 Reverence, and the power
of the Ideal, allied with absolute pluck and
heroism, burned high.

I should like to express my hearty thanks
to those who so kindly lent me old records,

1 To-day, as these pages go to press, I have heard of a
doctor's rare act of chivalry. (I should state he was not in good
financial circumstances at the time.) He had been for many
weeks attending a patient at her request (though she only needed
him temporarily, and was not one of his regular clientele), and at
the end of her illness he refused to accept any return whatever,
simply because to have taken any fee, would have seemed, in his
eyes, to be contrary to what he conceived to be the true spirit of
Chivalry.



PREFACE vii

letters, papers and photos. Among these I
would mention the names of Mr. Herwald Wake
and Mr. J. C. Colvin, to both of whom I owe
a very special debt of thanks. Also those of
Major Leather, of the 5th Fusiliers, General
Broadfoot, Sir George Trevelyan, Dr. Theodore
Maxwell (who kindly gave me permission to use
the letters of John Nicholson), Miss Lucy Wake,
Miss Bax- Ironside (who most kindly allowed me
access to her father's papers), Mrs. Radcliffe,
Surgeon-General Sir James Thornton, K.C.B.,
Lady Fayrer, Mr. Stafford Bailey, Mrs. Ross
Mangles, Mrs. McDonell, and many others. To
one friend I am indebted for his great kindness
in reading my MSS., and stating (he was one
of the besieged party at Arrah) that what I have
written is correct.

I. GIBERNE SIEVEKING.



EXMOUTH PLACE, HASTINGS,
February 1910.



CONTENTS



PAGE

A TURNING POINT IN THE INDIAN MUTINY . . 1
THE SIEGE OF ARRAH . . .," . . .17
THE RELIEF THAT FAILED " . * . . . .49
THE RELIEF THAT SUCCEEDED .... 71

HERWALD WAKE : THE MAN WHO HELD THE FORT

AT ARRAH 93

KOER SINGH is HUNTED TO HIS JUNGLE STRONG-
HOLD 106

THE MAGISTRATE OF GHAZIPUR ; AND HOW HE

HELPED FORWARD THE RELIEF OF ARRAH . 137

LETTERS FROM JOHN NICHOLSON AND OTHERS . 159



ILLUSTRATIONS



MR. HERWALD WAKE. Taken just after

the Mutiny ..... to face page 21
ATTACK ON ARRAH HOUSE, 1857. From

a picture in the Officers' Mess, 5th

Fusiliers 29

MR. J. C. COLVIN, one of the besieged at

Arrah House ..... 47

MR. Ross MANGLES, V. C., of the Indian

Civil Service ..... 59

MR. McDONELL, V.C., of the Indian

Civil Service 65

SIR VINCENT EYRE 71

MR. HERWALD WAKE. From a painting

done before he went out to India . 93

THE HOUSE AT ARRAH. From a Sketch

by Sir Vincent Eyre, 1 857 . . . 122
SURGEON-GENERAL SIR JAMES THORN-
TON, K.C.B ,,135

BRIGADIER-GENERAL JOHN NICHOLSON.

From a lithograph by Baignet . . 159

THE MOTHER OF JOHN NICHOLSON.

Taken for him before the Mutiny . 161

CASTLE TERRACE, LISBURN, IRELAND,

where John Nicholson was born. . 174

CHARLES NICHOLSON. From a coloured

photo ,,189

CHARLES NICHOLSON. From a painting 207



A TURNING POINj



'HE INDIAN Mill [NY



WHAT is it that strikes one most keenly when
one looks at the events of the Mutiny of 1857 ?
Surely this: the great lack of imagination in
the ranks of English officials out in India at that
time. Indeed it was so palpable, so insistent, that
it practically amounted to a sort of mental colour-
blindness. For the signs of the times were signifi-
cant enough ; patent enough, one would have
thought, in all conscience. And what is more, they
were happening daily before the eyes of soldier,
civilian, and government official. Those who knew
the native most, who could put two and two
together, foretold the mutiny long before it came
Sir Henry Lawrence prophesied its probable course
fourteen years before it came but to no effect.
It is one thing to warn, another thing to take the



2 THE INDIAN MUTINY

warning, and the English Government in India
chose not to be warned. They rode blindly
wilfully blindly, for their fall, and they got it.

The lack of imagination is a grievous blank in
any character. Yet are there many people in
England to-day who would think such a lack of
no importance. Plenty of people, indeed, would
go one step farther, and consider it perhaps the
' thing too much,' which was as well left out of the
qualities which go to make up a personality. But



then, these are the people who believe that a man
can be sufficiently equipped to all intents and
purposes without that power that transposes the
commonplace into a higher key, and, reading
between the lines in other people's lives, teaches
sympathy.

Lack of imagination in a nation, however,
is a deficiency of so vast an importance that,
interfering as it does with its progress, it inevitably
brings disaster. How could it be otherwise ? For
lack of imagination means missing the point when
it is most imperative that it should have been
grasped. It means want of intuition that invalu-
able guide which steers straight, notwithstanding
the absence, metaphysically speaking, of lighthouse
or signpost. It means that what a man does not
actually see for himself can never be grasped as a
reality. That he cannot, in effect, put himself in



THE INDIAN MUTINY 3

another's place ; see with his eyes, think with his
thoughts, and live, in imagination, his life. That
he cannot realise, in short, that other's way of life.
And not to be able to realise, means also not to be
able to sympathise, and with that last word the
whole signification of lack of imagination becomes
as clear as daylight. It stands revealed before us
in its naked truth.

How vast a disaster lack of imagination is
capable of bringing on a nation, is patent to us
when we look at the mutiny of fifty years ago.
For what was it that precipitated matters so much
then ? that stirred up the whole native mind
against us ? that made that revolt possible, in
fact ? What but that fatal lack of imagination
which prevented our seeing, as a nation, that we
were constantly sinning against -the native point
of view; constantly going counter to some deep-
seated prejudice and religious conviction. Was it
not that unrestrained invective against the Hindu
and Mohammetan religion, in which a good many
missionaries indulged, which roused to bitterness so
many natives ? They had apparently forgotten, in
India, all about St. Paul's restraint in Ephesus in
the matter of Diana, the great goddess of the
Ephesians.

One of those Englishmen who, in 1857, was
most conscious of our many ' false steps ' in the

B 2



4 THE INDIAN MUTINY

conduct of our affairs with the native, was Martin
Gubbins, of the Bengal Civil Service. It was he who
was then financial Commissioner of Oudh, and who
was, later on, at Benares, spoken of by Sir Evelyn
Wood as * the moving spirit of the station.' It was
he who, working daily among the natives, knew them
more thoroughly perhaps than any Englishman of
his time, with the exception of Sir James Outram
and Sir Henry Lawrence. Martin Gubbins makes
a special point of the fact in his book, ' Mutinies in
Oudh ' (pub. 1858), that at the time of the outbreak
of the mutiny, the bulk of the Europeans in India
practically knew nothing of the native's social life :
of his real self, his principles, aims and grievances.
Gubbins, during the fourteen months which pre-
ceded;the mutiny, was * in daily intercourse with '
the native. He was the intimate adviser of Sir
Henry Lawrence, than whom no one understood the
native character better. He says that Lawrence
* was essentially a friend of the natives. . . . He
thought Europeans too apt to overvalue themselves
and their own government, and to undervalue the
native government of the country. He thought,
too, that the people had just cause for complaint,
and that affection is a feeling we have no right to
challenge from our native subjects in India. . . .
Aliens we are from them, in blood, in feeling,
in religion ; nowise mingling with them in social



THE INDIAN MUTINY 5

intercourse, and, interchanging few kindly offices,
we have no right to expect from them love
and sympathy, least of all assistance and
support.'

As regards intercourse between the rulers and
the ruled, we have not progressed far in the fifty
years that have elapsed since the mutiny and the
present day. English points of view have not, it
would appear, shifted greatly. If we read the
Indian press to-day we cannot fail to see that
this is the case. I quote the following from a
leading Madras journal, as regards possibilities of
intercourse between the two races.

* Anyone who has lived in both hemispheres . . .
cannot fail to have realised that, beneath the super-
ficial differences which mark the two, runs a deep
community of thought, of feeling. ... In the face
of the great problems of existence, man is the same
whether his skin is black, brown, yellow or white ;
whether he is a native of ancient Athens, medieval
Pekin, or modern London. This is the lesson
taught by a real acquaintance with East and West.'

This is the possibility ; let us look now at the
actual fact of to-day.

1 The majority of the young English people
land on Indian soil with hazy notions of Indian
life ; and with a determination not to take any
interest in it, merely because of prepossessions



6 THE INDIAN MUTINY

and prejudices. . . . They seldom, if ever, touch
a book on Indian literature or religion. . . . They
come out to this country steeped in the notion of
the superiority of the West. . . . They never get
a glimpse of an Indian home of respectability, they
hardly ever mix socially with any Indian gentleman
of position or worth.'

But at the time of the mutiny, Englishmen went
farther than this. Beside their spirit of aloofness,
were their ill-judged methods of officialdom. If
the former hurt, the latter certainly incensed. It
was these which fanned the flame of insubordi-
nation into the fierce fire of rebellion, and universal
disaffection, throughout the length and breadth of
India. It was this which helped to produce the
mutiny. It was not the mere presentment of the
idea of the greased cartridge alone.

The greased cartridge, which we are accustomed
to give as, in effect, the shorthand raison d'etre of
the mutiny, was really, simply the last straw.

The whole trouble dated much farther back
than that. It finished there, but the rubbing of
the native the wrong way had been steadily going
forward year in year out, and day in day out,
unnoticed and unrecognised at its real value,
because of this extraordinary lack of imagination
of the Englishman.

The real wonder is not that the mutiny came



THE INDIAN MUTINY 7

when it did, but that it did not show itself before. 1
Sir Evelyn Wood, in his ' Revolt in Hindustan,'
says : * Men had many grievances ; some dating
from 1843. . . . An old native captain was often
commanded by the last joined ensign from England,
whose carelessness in returning salutes was a source
of irritation. Our ignorance of native soldiers'
feelings and inner life is shown by the wording of
Lord Dalhousie's farewell minute: "Hardly any
part of his " (the native soldier's) " condition is
in need of improvement."

It will be remembered that Lord Dalhousie's
governor-generalship ended the year that preceded
the mutiny. It was he who, just before he left for
England, was actually unable to see the signs of
disaffection which were in evidence throughout
India, and foolish enough to disregard Sir John
Low's grave warning. But there were other and
worse grievances still. The unjustifiable annexa-
tion of Oudh was Lord Dalhousie's last great act
of unwisdom. And it was a measure which certainly
hastened on the mutiny.

For this annexation seemed to the native mind
an act of treachery, done as it was during the time
of peace. Nor was this a solitary instance. For
there had been, from time to time, going on in

1 Mr. Lecky said : ' If mutiny was ever justifiable, no stronger
justification could be given than that of the Sepoy troops. 1



8 THE INDIAN MUTINY

their midst, the annexing of small principalities,
which from their point of view was quite inde-
fensible and unjustifiable. It was carried out, too,
as Sir Evelyn Wood says, 1 'without regard to
older forms of civilisation.'

It is true that benefit came to the Sepoys, or
peasantry, at Oudh when the English Government
appropriated the province, for they had for long
been suffering grievously from the cruel exactions
of the Talukdars, the hereditary revenue collectors
of rent, who ground down the people for their
own selfish purposes. It was well known that their
own purses were filled, their own persons bene-
fited, and that the oppressed peasantry could get
little or no redress. Then, at length, the people
revolted. Many of those who were dispossessed
became robbers, and Martin Gubbins 2 tells us
that ' there were hundreds of these when the
English entered Oudh. Faces that had not been
seen for years, and men at whose names the
countryside trembled, were seen to enter the
crowds where an English officer presided, and
then became peaceful citizens.' Then the confis-
cated lands were restored to their rightful owners.
But when Oudh became ours the difficulties with
these Sepoys began. For justice had to be dealt



1 Revolt in Hindustan.
3 Mutinies in Oudh.



THE INDIAN MUTINY 9

impartially all round, and the Sepoy ' resented
the loss of privilege.' l ' When Oudh became
British there were not less than 60,000 discharged
soldiery of the native government. Service was
given to about 15,000 of them in our new local
regiments.' But this did not provide for 20,000
others; and the nobility, who had been used to
receiving large pensions from the native govern-
ment, were reduced to great privations during the
inevitable interval between the cessation of the
latter and the establishment of British authority.

Here, then, were materials for discontent which
were not slow to take formidable shape. Nor
were the Brahmans and Mohammetans slow to
stir the natives to boiling point. 2 For a long time
there had been a great number of Brahmans in
the native army; and this army, in 1857, was
vastly larger than the English army in India.

But at the root of everything was the
dread in the native mind that the destruction
of the two things superlatively important to
them, viz. their religion and caste, was being
aimed at by the English Government. This fear
was ever present with them ; nor was it greatly
to be wondered at. For, from sheer inability to
comprehend what the effect of their conduct was

1 Martin Gubbins, Mutinies in Oudh.

* Sir James Howard Thornton, Memories of Seven Campaigns.



io THE INDIAN MUTINY

upon the natives, the larger number of those in
authority rode roughshod over racial prejudices,
over religious scruples, over age-long beliefs,
without the slightest compunction or intuitive
sympathy. To the majority of Englishmen the
fact that the Hindus and Mohammetans believed
that their future state could be affected by the use
of cow's or pig's fat smeared on their cartridges,
was merely in their eyes an absurd delusion,
impossible to be taken seriously by the superior
British mind. They had not the imagination to
see how vital a point it was, any more than they
could understand the native's point of view who
would throw away his dinner rather than eat what
had been defiled by the shadow of an alien and
unbeliever. Martin Gubbins says : ' I conceive that
the native mind had been gradually alarmed on
the vital subjects of caste and religion, when the
spark was applied of the threatened introduction
of the greased cartridge.' He thought the Hindus
had for some time been alarmed about caste
and religion, and he traces it to the uneasiness in
education which, in 1850, had been pushed forward
so much. He tells us that so great was the impetus
given to educational ideas by the Government about
that time, that ' murderers and burglars who dis-
tinguished themselves as teachers were conveyed
from one gaol to another to educate the rest.'



THE INDIAN MUTINY n

The Brahmans, accustomed to having the
conduct of native affairs, educational and otherwise,
so largely in their own hands, naturally resented the
people's education, for, as Gubbins says, they saw
in it ' the certain downfall of their faith and their
power. ... It was whispered, and extensively
believed, that the object of our government was to
destroy the Hindu religion, and to convert them
to our own.' Sir Evelyn Wood asserts the same
thing when he says: 'The majority really believed
that the government intended to abolish caste as
a preliminary step to their forcible conversion to
Christianity.' Martin Gubbins expressed his own
strong condemnation of our way of educating the
native youth, without at the same time giving them
principles of strong morality with the actual educa-
tion. He urged that our methods were only turning
out superficially educated youths who had thrown
up their old religion, but only to believe in them-
selves and their own superiority. Henry Carre
Tucker, Commissioner of Benares, who distin-
guished himself in Upper India by his zealous
educational measures, spoke strongly on this point
in a letter from which I quote here.

' The eleves of our government are not well
disposed towards us ' (he was writing about the time
of the mutiny). ' . . . We have released them from
their, own religions without substituting a better.



12 THE INDIAN MUTINY

Most of them are consequently puffed up with
knowledge, discontented with their position, and
infidels at heart. ... I am strongly in favour
of government relinquishing its schools, and con-
fining itself to grants in aid of all efficient schools,
without reference to religion.'

There are those among us who prophesy another
mutiny, and one, moreover, on a far larger scale
than that of 1857. There are those who say
it is impossible. These last say that, warned by
experience, we could not again be surprised because
of the far greater forces at our disposal in India.
But, if our military force is larger, there is still one
thing to be remembered. At the time of the first
mutiny, education was young in India. The native
has travelled far since then. He has learned many
things in the last fifty years, and he will not forget
them. Mr. Gokhale says : ' Half a century of
Western education, and a century of common laws,
common administration, common grievances, and
common disabilities have not failed to produce
their natural effect even in India. ... It should
really not be difficult for Englishmen to realise
that you cannot have institutions like the uni-
versities working for more than half a century in
India, and then expect to be able to govern the
people as though they were still strangers to ideas



THE INDIAN MUTINY 13

of constitutional freedom or to the dignity of
national aspirations.' He goes on to point out
what must be the natural outcome of the
education which we have ourselves given them.
We have trained them in our own methods ; what
wonder is it that sooner or later they ask us to
fulfil the conditions of the Charter Act of 1833 and
the Proclamation of 1858. No one can have for-
gotten these conditions ; but, nevertheless, we act
as if we had. For in their pages there occurs a
sentence which it is exceedingly difficult for us to
face now quite truthfully, a sentence, namely, which
declared to the natives of India that the sole aim
of British rule was the welfare of the Indian people,
and that under that rule no distinction would be
made between Indians and Europeans in the
government of the country, on grounds of race, or
creed, or colour. 1

Every revolution is the blackboard upon which
shining deeds of valour, unselfishness, and resource
show white. It is the strong Personality's oppor-
tunity. And the Indian Mutiny was no excep-
tion. The brave man felt it as a call to show

1 Sir Henry Lawrence said, in 1856 : ' The conditions of the
Indian army denied a career to any soldier of genius, and this
must put the best brains of the Sepoys in quarrel with the British
rule.'



14 THE INDIAN MUTINY

his mettle; the unselfish man, as the occasion for
supreme self-surrender ; the man of resource, as
his chance to make a possible future out of a
black present.

The following is the story of how gallantly a
small band of civilians held the fort in the teeth of
what seemed like overwhelming odds, and held it
until the relief, of which they had wellnigh given
up all hope, at last came to them. For the
defence of Arrah was the achievement of eight
Englishmen, civilians every man of them. It
was the triumph of personality against numbers.
For outside Arrah house were more than two
thousand besiegers, and these were all kept at bay
by that indescribable but very real power. For
Personality is like the vision of that armed
force encamped round about Elisha on the day
when his terrified servant recognised, as he had
never done before, everything that unseen forces
stood for, in the material things of the world ;
and how, face to face with spirit, matter steps
back powerless. It was just this force which
kept those two thousand enemies from making
a charge for the house, when the little band of
defenders must inevitably have perished.

Perhaps nothing could have shown this fact up
more clearly than the story of Arrah itself. For
why did the first attempt at relief of the garrison



THE INDIAN MUTINY 15

fail so ignominiously ? Was it not because of the
want of efficiency in its leader ; because of his
total lack of individual power and foresight and
resource ? What, on the other hand, made the
second relief a success ? Simply because Sir
Vincent Eyre was a force in himself, a man of
marked individuality and unbounded resource.
The difficulties, the enemies, were the same on
both occasions, but it was the man who was
different, and this difference saved the situation.

Some people have thought that enough has been
written about the mutiny. That we are tired of
hearing about it. But enough can never be written
of deeds of splendid daring and courage ; of men
undefeated, undismayed in the midst of the worst
misfortunes, dangers and perils. It can never be
in vain to try and do justice to feats of endurance


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