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India. page 4


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Stupendous events quickly followed the assumption of power by Lord Canning, governor-general from 1856 to 1858. The great outbreak known as the Indian Mutiny, or Sepoy Mutiny, |or Sepoy War, beginning at Meerut in June, 1857, has a literature of its own. The causes were complex - conspiracy of Mohammedan princes, Hindu credulity and fanaticism in connection with the issue to the troops of cartridges greased with ox-fat, the annexations under Lord Dalhousie, the small numbers of British troops in India. The events are well known to readers of British history. It was the loyalty of the Sikh troops in the Punjab, and the able management of affairs in that province by Sir John Lawrence and his colleagues, combined with the general fidelity of the Sipahis in the Bombay and Madras Presidencies, and the adherence to our cause of the Maharaja Scindia of Gwalior, of the Nizam of Hyderabad, of Holkar of Indore, and of the Nipalese princes Gholab Sing and Jung Bahadoor, that enabled us, at the outset of the struggle, to maintain a precarious hold on northern India until the arrival of large reinforcements from home. The chief incidents were the two massacres of Cawnpore in June and July, 1857; the victorious march of General Havelock to Cawnpore and Lucknow; the siege of the Lucknow Residency and its relief in November by Sir Colin Campbell (Lord Clyde); the siege of Delhi, held by the mutineers, and' its capture by our troops in September; the final capture of Lucknow by Lord Clyde in March, 1858; and the brilliant campaign of Sir Hugh Rose (Lord Strathnairn) in central India, in May and June of the same year. On December 20th, 1858, Lord Clyde was able to announce to the Governor-General that "the last remnant of the mutineers and insurgents had been hopelessly driven across the mountains into Nipal." A change of rule in India followed the suppression of the great revolt. The East India Company, by an Act passed in August, 1858, was abolished as a political power, and India came under the direct rule of the Crown, represented in Great Britain by a new Secretary of State, with a new council of 15 members, in place of the suppressed Board of Control. The "Governor-General" became a "Viceroy," with a Council, and was invested with supreme power in India, subject to the Secretary of State in England. At the same time, posts in the Civil Service of India were thrown open to candidates at competitive examinations. The naval-and military forces of the Company passed into the Queen's service. The Company continued to exist as a body managing their "East India Stock" until June 1st, 1874, when, after the "redeeming" of the dividends on the capital stock under an Act of 1873, its long, chequered, and, on the whole, glorious history came to an end.

On November 1st, 1858, the Queen was proclaimed as sovereign -of India, in a document issued in various languages, breathing a noble spirit of benevolence and religious toleration. For 20 years the country was at peace, save for some border-warfare with turbulent tribes, under the rule of Lord Canning (viceroy from 1858 to 1862); Lord Elgin, who died in November, 1863; Sir John (Lord) Lawrence (1863-1869); Lord Mayo, an able financier, unhappily murdered by a native fanatical convict at Port Blair, in the Andaman Isles, in February, 1872; and Lord Northbrook (1872-1876). In 1866 there was a fearful famine in Orissa, due to lack of rain for the rice-crop, and like calamities occurred in 1868-69 in Bundelkhand and Upper Hindustan. In 1874 a famine in Lower Bengal and Behar was met by the officials with such energy and skill that, with 3,000,000 persons supported by the government, few deaths from starvation occurred. In 1875-76 the visit and tour of the Prince of Wales elicited a loyal welcome from many of the chief native princes, who had come to understand that their own interests and those of their peoples were closely bound up with the maintenance of British supremacy. A change of policy came with the entry upon office as viceroy of Lord Lytton, son of the novelist and statesman, in 1876. Lord Beaconsfield, formerly known as Benjamin Disraeli, had his own ideas of foreign policy in India as regarded Russian advance towards our frontier, and in pursuance of his views a new attitude was adopted. Under an Act, on January 1st, 1877, the Queen was proclaimed by Lord Lytton, at a magnificent Durbar (or Darbar, Persian for "court," "audience") held at Delhi, as "Empress of India," in presence of the chief native princes, and with the grant of many new titles and distinctions dear to the Oriental mind. We may note, by the way, that this proceeding was followed by a fearful famine in southern and central India, causing a loss, in spite of the utmost efforts and the expenditure of 11,000,000 pounds sterling in measures of relief, of at least 5,000,000 lives in 1877 and 1878. In this latter year a quarrel was picked with the ruler of Afghanistan, Shere Ali, on the ground that he had received a Russian and had declined to admit a British envoy. His country was invaded at three points by our troops; battle after battle was won; Kabul and Kandahar were occupied; Shere Ali fled to Turkestan and died; and in May, 1879, the Treaty of Gundamuk, concluded with his son and successor, Yakub Khan, bound the Afghan ruler to admit a British Resident at Kabul, and to follow the viceroy's advice in foreign affairs. Sir Louis Napoleon Cavagnari, son of an Italian who had been a devoted friend of the French emperor, Napoleon III., became our minister at Kabul. Within a month of the arrival of himself and suite they were all massacred in a rising of the mutinous and bigoted Afghan troops in the capital. This tragical event was followed by another invasion; several victories; the occupation of Kabul; the punishment of the murderers of the British mission; the abdication of Yakub Khan; a general rebellion of the Afghans; brilliant and victorious operations under Sir Frederick Roberts around Kabul; the defeat of the enemy at Ghazni by General Stewart in March, 1880; the destruction of a large part of a British and Sipahi force on July 27th at Maiwand, 50 miles from Kandahar, by Ayub Khan, a son of Shere Ali; the march of Roberts from Kabul to Kandahar, and his utter defeat of Ayub outside that city. These matters ended in the restoration of peace, and the establishment of Abdur Rahman Khan, a grandson of the former Amir, Dost Mahommed, of Lord Auckland's time, as ruler of Afghanistan. He has remained loyal to British interests, so far as our government is aware of the facts, in receipt of a yearly subsidy of 120,000 pounds.

In 1880 the marquis of Ripon became viceroy, and did good work in internal reforms, especially in the development of agriculture and of popular education. On January 1st, 1886, under the vice-royalty of the accomplished Lord Dufferin, and on the special instructions of Lord Randolph Churchill, then Secretary of State for India, the tipsy tyrant, Thebau, who was then king of Burma, was deposed for ill-treatment of British traders, and the whole of Upper Burma was annexed. After some years of trouble with dacoits, the new territory was reduced to a peaceful condition, and has since been prospering under British rule. In 1887 a new frontier was marked out between Russian territory and Afghanistan, with a view to the preservation of peace, rudely disturbed in March, 1885, by a perfidious, cowardly, murderous, and, in every point, disgraceful outrage perpetrated by Russians under General Alikhanoff on Afghan forces stationed at Penjdeh, on their own territory. Abdur Rahman's men, with rude muskets, had no chance against breechloaders, and some thousands perished under a wanton attack. The act was a deliberate insult to Great Britain, and should have been followed by an immediate declaration of war. Mr. Gladstone, however, was Prime Minister, and Lord Granville was Foreign Secretary, and the matter was settled by "explanations." It should be observed that this monstrous deed was done, by choice, at the very time when the Amir of Afghanistan was the guest of the British viceroy, Lord Dufferin, at Rawal Pindi, in the Punjab. It is pleasant to note that, in the-critical position of affairs after the conflict at Penjdeh, native princes in India came forward with the greatest zeal, offering aid to the viceroy in men and money, some desiring to place the whole of their forces under British command, others asking permission to pay the whole expenses of their troops if they fought with the Indian army against Russia. Other rulers, not having trained troops at their disposal, offered stores of food and means of transport. It is needless to dwell upon the significance and importance of this demonstration. In X887 Queen Victoria's first Jubilee was celebrated, with the utmost loyalty throughout her Indian dominions, and many native princes attended the service in Westminster Abbey. Under Lord Lansdowne (1888-1893) much advance was made in the development of local government through municipal councils and district-boards on a system arranged by Lord Ripon. The natives of India, as represented by their ablest and most cultured fellow-countrymen, are thus made sharers, as to local matters, as they have long been for higher affairs, in the government of a vast population. In 1894 Lord Lansdowne was succeeded as viceroy by the earl of Elgin, son of the former ruler. Among the latest events have been the warfare in Chitral and on the north-western frontier, connected with the "forward policy" dear to some military members of the viceregal council, the merits or demerits of which we cannot here discuss. In 1896-97 another serious famine, due to drought, occurred in north-west and central India. No great loss of life occurred, owing to energetic measures of relief, aided by a "Lord Mayor's Fund" in London which furnished about 550,000 pounds. At the same time there were very fatal outbreaks of Oriental "plague" in and near Bombay, and in June, 1897, an earthquake of rare severity for India did much damage in Calcutta, and caused serious loss of life and property in Assam.

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Pictures for India. page 4

The British Indian Empire, 1898.
The British Indian Empire, 1898. >>>>

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