A Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, Volumes I & II
by William Sleeman
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

They then amused themselves for some time by flogging Gunga Aheer with thorn bushes, while he in agony cried for mercy. The next day, by Maheput's orders, they laid him upon a bed of thorns and beat him again, while he screamed from pain, and they laughed at his cries. One of the followers told Maheput, that they had been cautioned by the outlaw, Jugurnath, the chuprassie, not to murder Ramdhun and his companion, or the English would some day avenge them; but he laughed and said that spies must be punished, to deter others from pursuing them. One of his followers then sat on Gunga's chest while another held his arms, and a third his legs, while a fourth cut off his nose, and one of his hands at the wrist, and the fingers of the other hand. He became senseless, and Maheput and his followers all left him in this state. In the evening a servant of Seochurn Chowdheree, of Bhowaneepoor, on his way to the jungle, saw him and reported his condition to his master, who sent people and had him taken to him on a litter. He had his wounds dressed by a village surgeon, and the next day sent him home to his wife and mother. The landlord of the village reported the case to Captain Orr, of the Frontier Police, at Fyzabad, who had Gunga taken off to the hospital at Lucknow, where he remained under the care of the Residency surgeon till he recovered. This poor man had to support his mother, wife, and daughter by his labour. His mother came in with him, and attended him in hospital, while his wife and child remained at their village.

While in hospital recovering, Maheput Sing was brought before him, by the Frontier Police, to be recognized. As soon as he saw him all the terrible scene of Ramdhun's murder and his own torture came so vividly before him, that he trembled from head to foot, like a man in an ague fit, and was for some time unable to speak. At last, when he saw the fetters on Maheput's legs, and the handcuffs on his wrists, and armed Government servants around him, he recovered his senses; and by degrees, recorded what he had witnessed and suffered at his hands.

On the 25th March 1850, Rajah Maun Sing, under orders from the Durbar, with all the force he could muster, invested the fort of Bhowaneegur, while the force under Captains Weston, Thomas, Bunbury, and Magness, attacked the three forts belonging to Rajah Prethee Put, of Paska. Maheput Sing left the fort on the 27th, with eleven followers, to collect reinforcements and harass the besiegers, and the garrison was commanded by his nephew.

On the 28th, Maun Sing had three men killed and several wounded, from the fire of the garrison, and wrote for reinforcements to Captain Weston, who was at Dureeabad, twelve miles distant. As soon as he got the letter, he mounted his horse, and leaving the force to follow, rode with his Assistant, Captain Orr, to the place, which is half a mile from Guneshpoor south, and two hundred yards from the left bank of the Goomtee river north. They were attended by a few sowars, under Seo Sing, and they reached the place before daybreak, on the 29th; and as soon as day appeared, proceeded with Captain Magness, who had galloped on in advance of his regiment to reconnoitre the fort, and were fired upon by the garrison wherever they were seen. Maun Sing's people had retired after the loss of a few men, to the distance of a mile, and lay scattered over the jungle.

The Infantry came up before sunset, and the guns before it grew dark, and all were placed in position, and a fire opened upon the fort till it grew too dark to point the guns. The garrison soon after attempted to escape by the west side, and were fired upon by the parties posted on that quarter. Captain Weston, hearing the fire, collected all the men he could, and getting with difficulty into the fort, found it empty. In the attempt to cut their way through, the garrison had two men killed and fifteen wounded and taken, and five managed to escape, under cover of the night, into the thick jungle. Bikhai, one of the most atrocious of Maheput's followers, was killed; but he killed two of the besiegers, and wounded two more before he fell. Akber Sing, the most atrocious of all the gang, had his arm taken off by a cannon-shot, and was seized. Maheput's nephew, the commandant of the garrison, was taken, with one of Maheput's secretaries and advisers.

Of Maun Sing's party, four were killed and thirteen wounded, and Captain Magness had one havildar severely wounded. The fort was levelled, and the jungle around cut down. The force then proceeded and took possession of the forts of Futtehpoor, Oskamow, Sorrea, Dyeepoor, and Etonja, all belonging to Jugurnath Chuprassie, another leader of banditti of that district They were only a few miles distant from Bhowaneegur, and were deserted by his gangs on their seeing a British force and hearing the guns open upon Bhowaneegur. Two hundred head of stolen cattle were found in the forts of Jugurnath, and restored to their proper owners. Parties were sent in pursuit of Maheput Sing, and two of his followers were secured; but he himself escaped for the time. The forts were all destroyed. Captain Orr, the Assistant Superintendent, in charge of the Frontier Police at Fyzabad, had been long in pursuit of Maheput Sing, and his parties, knowing all his haunts and associates, gave him no rest. His subadar, Seetul Sing, became acquainted with Prethee Paul, tallookdar of Ramnuggur, who had been deprived of his estate for defalcation, and become associated with Maheput Sing. The subadar persuaded this landholder that it would be to his advantage to aid in the arrest of so atrocious a robber and murderer; and when Maheput next came to him to seek some repose from his pursuers, and consult about future plans, he sent intimation to Seetul Sing, whose detachment of sipahees was at no great distance. On receiving the intimation, the subadar marched forthwith, and reached the place at the dawn of day, on the morning of the 1st of July 1850. Maheput Sing had just left the house to perform his ablutions, but on seeing them, he suspected their designs and re-entered the house. The subadar's party saw him, immediately surrounded the house, and demanded his surrender, Maheput Sing begged Prethee Paul to join him in defending the house or cutting their way through; but Prethee Paul told him that he had ruined himself by his atrocities, and must now submit to his fate, since he could not involve himself and all his family in ruin merely to assist him. Prethee Paul then took him by the arm, brought him out, and made him over to Seetul Sing, who had threatened to set fire to the house, forthwith unless he did so. He was then secured and taken off, well guarded, and in all possible haste, to Captain Orr, lest his gang might collect and attempt a rescue. Captain Orr sent him off, under a strong guard and well fettered, to Lucknow, to Captain Weston, the Superintendent of the Frontier Police.

Prethee Paul, the tallookdar, for the good service, got back his estate from the Oude sovereign, and an addition of five hundred rupees a-year to his nankar or personal allowance. Gunga Aheer is now a pensioner on the Residency fund, and his family has been provided for. Maheput Sing and his associate Gujraj were sentenced to transportation beyond seas, and sent off in October 1851.

It is remarked by the people, that few of these baronial robbers ever die natural deaths—that they either kill each other, or are killed sooner or later by the servants of Government. More atrocious crimes than those which they every month commit it is difficult to conceive. In the Bangor district, through which we passed last month, this class of landholders are certainly as strong and as much disposed to withhold the just dues of Government, and to resist its officers and troops, as they are here, but they do not plunder and burn down each other's villages, and murder and rob each other's tenants so often as they do here. The coalition has introduced among them a kind of balance of power, which makes them respect each other's rights, and the rights of each other's tenants, for the chiefs are dependent upon the attachment and fidelity of their respective tenants. The above list contains only a part of the leaders of gangs, by which the districts of Dureeabad, Rodowlee, Sidhore, Pertabgunge, Deva, and Jehangeerabad, are infested. We have seen no manufacture of any exportable commodity in Oude, nor have we seen traffic on any road in Oude, save that leading from Cawnpore to Lucknow.

In consequence of some bad seasons, a good deal of the grain required at the Capital, and in the districts to the north-cast, comes from Cawnpore over this road. Were the road from Fyzabad to Lucknow good and safe, a good deal of land produce would, in ordinary seasons, come over it from the Goruckpoor district, and those intervening between Lucknow and Fyzabad. It would, however, be useless to make the road till the gangs which infest it are put down. A good and secure road from Lucknow through Sultanpoor to Benares, would be of still greater advantage.

February 25, 1850.—Halted at Dureeabad. I here saw the draft- bullocks attached to the guns, with Captain Orr's companies of Frontier Police. They are of the best kind, and in excellent condition. They have the same allowance of a seer and half of grain a-day, which is drawn for every bullock attached to his Majesty's artillery. The difference is that they get all that is paid for in their name, while the others get one-third; and really got none when on detached duty till lately. On Fridays, Captain Orr's bullocks get only half; and this is, I believe, the rule with all the others that get any at all. His bullocks are bred in the Nanpara, Nigasun, Dhorehra, and other districts in the Oude Tarae, and are of an excellent quality for work. They cost from 40 to 75 rupees a-pair. In these districts of the Tarae forest, the cows are allowed to go almost wild in large grass preserves, where they are defended from tigers; and the calves are taken from them, when a year old, to be taken care of at home, till sold for the dairy or for work. Captain Orr's bullocks have no grazing-ground, nor are they sent out at all to graze—they get nothing but bhoosa (chaff) and corn. Of bhoosa they get as much as they can eat, when on detached duty, as they take it from the peasantry without payment; but when at Lucknow, they are limited to a very small quantity, as Government has to pay for it. On the 15th of May, 1833, the King prohibited any one from taking bhoosa without paying for it, either for private or public cattle; and directed that bhoosa, for all the Artillery bullocks, should be purchased at the harvests, and charged for in the public accounts; but the order was disregarded like that against the murder of female children.

February 26, 1850—Sidhore, sixteen miles, W.S.W. The country, a plain, covered as usual with spring crops and fine foliage; but intersected midway by the little river Kuleeanee, which causes undulations on each side. The soil chiefly doomut and light, but fertile. It abounds more in white ants than such light soil generally does. We passed through the estate of Soorujpoor Behreylee, in which so many of the baronial robbers above described reside, and through many villages beyond it, which they had lately robbed and burnt down, as far as such villages can be burnt. The mud-walls and coverings are as good as bomb-proofs against the fire, to which they are always exposed from these robbers. Only twenty days ago, Chundee Behraleea and his party attacked the village of Siswae, through which we passed a few miles from this—plundered it, and killed three persons, and six others perished in the flames. They served several others in the neighbourhood in the same manner; and have, within the same time, attacked and plundered the town of Sidhore itself several times.

The boundary which separates the Dureeabad from the Sidhore district we passed some four miles back; and the greater part of the villages lately attacked are situated in the latter, which is under a separate Amil, Aga Ahmud, who is, in consequence, unable to collect his revenue. The Amil of Dureeabad, Girdhara Sing,* on the contrary, acquiesces in all the atrocities committed by these robbers, and is, in consequence, able to collect his revenue, and secure the favour of the Court. Some of the villages of the estate, held by the widow of Singjoo, late Rajah of Soorujpoor, are under the jurisdiction of the Sidhore Amil; and, as she would pay no revenue, the Amil took a force a few days ago to her twelve villages of Sonowlee, within the Dureeabad district, and seized and carried off some three hundred of her tenants, men, women, and children, as hostages for the payment of the balance due, and confined them pell-mell, in a fort. The clamour of the rest of the population as I passed was terrible, all declaring that they had paid their rents to the Ranee, and that she alone ought to be held responsible. She, however, resided at Soorujpoor, within the jurisdiction, and under the protection of the Amil of Dureeabad.

[* Girdhara Sing's patron is Chundee Sahaee, the minister's deputy, whose influence is paramount at present.]

The Behraleea gangs have lately plundered the five villages of Sadutpoor, Luloopoor, Bilkhundee, and Subahpoor, belonging to Soorujbulee, the head Canoongo, or Chowdheree of Dureeabad, who had never offended them. Both the Amils were with me for the latter part of the road; and the dispute between them ran very high. It was clear, however, that Girdhara Sing was strong in his league with the robbers, and conscious of being able to maintain his ground at Court; and Aga Ahmud was weak in his efforts to put them down, and conscious of his being unable much longer to pay what was required, and keep his post. He has with him two Companies of Nujeebs and two of Telingas, and eight guns. The guns are useless and without ammunition, or stores of any kind; and the Nujeebs and Telingas cannot be depended upon. The best pay master has certainly the best chance. It is humiliating and distressing to see a whole people suffering such wrongs as are every day inflicted upon the village communities and town's people of Dureeabad, Rodowlee, Sidhore, and Dewa, by these merciless freebooters; and impossible not to feel indignant at a Government that regards them with so much indifference.*

[* Poor Aga Ahmud was put into gaol, for defalcation, at the end of the season; but Girdhara Sing was received with great favour by the Court. The government of the district, for the next season, was confirmed, and the usual dress of honour was conferred upon him, but the Resident deemed it to be his duty to interpose and insist upon his not being sent out. The government of the district was, in consequence, taken from him, and made over to Rajah Maun Sing.]

A respectable young agricultural capitalist from Biswa, Seetaram, rode along by my side this morning, and I asked him, "over whom these suttee tombs, near Biswa, and other towns were for the most part raised."—"Sir," said he, "they are chiefly over the widows of Brahmins, bankers, merchants, Hindoo public officers, tradesmen, and shopkeepers." "Are there many such tombs in Oude, over the widows of Rajpoot landholders?"—"I have not seen any, sir, and have rarely heard of the widow of a Rajpoot landholder burning herself." "No, sir," said Bukhtawar Sing, "how should such women be worthy to become suttees? They dare not become suttees, sir, with the murder of so many innocent children on their heads. Sir, we Brahmins and other respectable Hindoos feel honoured in having daughters; and never feel secure of a happy life hereafter till we see them respectably married. This, sir, is a duty the Deity demands from us, and the neglect of which we do not believe he can ever excuse. When the bridegroom comes sir, to fetch our daughter, the priest reads over the marriage-service, and the parents of the girl wash her feet and those of her bridegroom; and, as they sit together after the ceremonies, put into her arms a tray of gold and silver jewels, and rich clothes, such as their condition in life enables them to provide; and then invoke the blessing of God upon their union; and then, and not till then, do they feel that they have done their duty to their child. What can men and women, who murder their daughters as soon as they are born, ever hope for in this life or in a future state? What can widows, conscious of such crimes, expect from ascending the funeral pile, with the bodies of their deceased husbands who have caused them to commit such crimes?" "And you think that there really is merit in such sacrifices on the part of widows, who have done their duties in this life?"—"Assuredly I do, sir; if there were none, why should God render them go insensible to the pain of burning? I have seen many widows burn themselves in my time, and watched them from the time they first declared their intention to their death; and they all seemed to me to feel nothing whatever from the flames: nothing, sir, but support from above could sustain them through such trials. Depend upon it, sir, that no widow of a Rajpoot murderer of his own offspring would ever be so supported; they knew very well that they would not be so; and, therefore, very wisely never ventured to expose themselves to the trial: faithful wives and good mothers only could so venture. The Rajpoots, sir, and their wives were pleased at the prohibition, because others could no longer do what they dared not do!" "What do you think, Seetarum?"—"I think, sir, that this crime of infanticide had its origin solely in family pride, which will make people do almost anything. These proud Rajpoots did not like to put it into any man's power to call them salahs or sussoors,* (brothers-in-law or fathers-in-law).

[* These are terms of abuse all over India. To call a man sussoor or salah, in abuse, is to say to him, I have dishonoured your daughter or your sister!]

"I remember an instance of a woman burning herself at Lasoora, six miles from Biswa, when I was fifteen years of age, and I am now twenty-five. She certainly seemed to suffer no pain. One forenoon she told her husband that in a former birth she had promised him that when he should be born a maha brahman at Biswa, she would unite herself in marriage to him, and live with him as his wife for twelve years; that these twelve years had now expired, and that she had that night received intimation from Heaven that her real husband, Rajah Kirpah Shunker, of Muthura, had died without having been married in this birth; that she was in reality his wife, and had already burnt herself five times with his body, and would now mix her ashes with his for the sixth time, and he must forthwith send her to the village of Lasoora, where she would become a suttee. The husband was astounded, for they had always lived together on the best possible terms, and out of the four children they had had two still survived. He and all their relations did all they could to dissuade her, but she disregarded them, and ran off to the Sewala (temple) in Biswa, which was built by my father. Thence she sent a Brahmin, by name Gokurn, to call me and my elder brother, Morlee Munohur, then seventeen years of age. We went, and she told us that she had been our mother in a former birth, and wished to see us once more before she died; she blessed us, and prayed that we might have each five sons, and then told us to arrange for her funeral pile at Lasoora, as all her former five suttees had been performed at that place.

"We thought she was delirious, and no one supposed that she would really burn herself. She, however, left the temple and proceeded towards Lasoora on foot, followed by a party of women and children, and by her husband, who continued to implore her to return home with him. He had a litter with him to take her, but she would not listen to him or to any one else. We reached Lasoora about an hour and a half before sunset, and she ordered the people to collect a large pile of wood for her, and told them that she would light it with a flame from her own mouth. They seemed to regard her as an inspired person, and did so. She mounted the pile, and it soon took fire, how I know not! Many people said they saw the flame come from her month, and all seemed to believe that it did so. The flames ascended, for it was in the month of March, and the wood was dry, and she seemed to be quite happy as she sat in the midst of them, and was burnt to death. Her husband told us, that she had lost one son some years before, and another only four days before she burnt herself, and that she had been much afflicted at his death. Whether there really had been such a person as Rajah Kirpah Shunker, no one ever thought it necessary to inquire. Her suttee tomb still stands at Lasoora among many others. Our mother was alive, though our father had been dead many years, and she used to say that the poor woman must have become deranged at the death of her child. The people all believed that she told the truth, and the husband was obliged to yield, though he seemed much afflicted. Her two sons still live, and reside at Biswa." *

[* Moorlee Monowur, a very respectable agricultural capitalist, tells me, that all that his younger brother, Seetaram, told me, about the suttee, if strictly true, and can be proved by a reference to the poor woman's husband and sons, who still survive, and to the people of Bilwa and Lasoora.]

I asked the Amil, "How he fed, clothed, and lodged his prisoners?" He said, "We always take them with us in our marches, secured in stocks or fetters. We cannot leave them behind, because we have no gaols or other places to keep them in, and require all our troops to move with us. As to food and clothing, they are obliged to provide themselves, or get their families or friends to provide them, for Government will not let us charge anything for their subsistence and clothing in the accounts."

"I understand that you and all other public servants who have charge of prisoners not only make them provide themselves with food and clothing, but make them pay for lamp-oil, whether they have a lamp burning at night or not?"—"When they require a lamp they must of course pay for it, sir; prisoners are always a source of much anxiety to us, for if we send them to Lucknow, they are almost sure to be let out soon, on occasions of thanksgiving, or on payment of gratuities, and enabled to punish all who have assisted us in the arrest; and with hosts of robbers around us, we are always in danger of an attempt to rescue them, which may cost us many lives." "If the gaol darogahs at Lucknow had not the power to sell his prisoners, sir," said Bukhtawar Sing, "how should he be able to pay so much as he does for his place? He is obliged to pay five hundred rupees or more for his place, and is not sure of holding it a month after he has bought it, so many are the candidates for a place so profitable!" "But he gets a share of the subsistence money, paid for the prisoners from the Treasury, does he not?"—"Yes, sir; of the four pice a-day paid for them by the King, he takes two, and sends them to beg through the city for what more they require." "If they get more than what he thinks they require from the public or their friends, he takes the surplus from them, I am told?"—"It is very true, sir, I believe. Fellows, sir, who have no substantial friends, and cannot and will not beg, soon sink under this scanty supply of food."

February 27, 1850—Sutrick, sixteen miles west, over a plain of muteear soil, tolerably well cultivated, and very well studded with trees of the finest kinds, single, in clusters and in groves. The mango-trees are in blossom, and promise well. The trees are said to bear only one season out of three, but some bear in one season, and others in another, so that the market is always supplied, though in some seasons more abundantly than in others. A cloudy sky and easterly wind, while the trees are in blossom, are said to be very injurious. A large landholder told me that they never took a tax upon any of the trees, not even the mhowa-trees, but the owner could not, except upon particular occasions, dispose of one to be cut down, without the permission of the zumeendar upon whose lands it stood. He might cut down one without his permission for building or repairing his house, or for fuel, on any occasion of marriage in his family, but not otherwise. A good many fine trees were, he said, destroyed by the local officers of Government. Having no tents, they collected the roofs of houses from a neighbouring village in hot or bad weather, cut away the branches to make rafters, and left the trunks as pillars to support the roofs, and under this treatment they soon died. He told me that cow-dung was cheaper for fuel than wood in this district, and consequently more commonly used in cooking; but that they gathered cow-dung for fuel only during four months in the year, November, December, January, and February; all that fell during the other eight months was religiously left, or stored for manure. In the pits in which they stored it, they often threw some of the inferior green crops of autumn, such as kodo and kotkee; but the manure most esteemed among them was pigs' dung—this, he said, was commonly stored and sold by those who kept pigs. The best muteear and doomut soils, which prevail in this district, are rented at two rupees a kutcha beegah, without reference to the crop which the cultivator might take from them; and they yielded, under good tillage, from ten to fifteen returns of the seed in wheat, barley, gram, &c. There are two and half or three kutcha beegahs in a pucka beegah; and a pucka beegah is from 2750 to 2760 square yards.

Sutrick is celebrated for the shrine of Shouk Salar, alias Borda Baba, the father of Syud Salar, whose shrine is at Bahraetch. This person, it is said, was the husband of the sister of Mahmood, of Ghuznee. He is supposed to have died a natural death at this place, while leading the armies of his sovereign against the Hindoos. His son had royal blood in his veins, and his shrine is held to be the most sacred of the two. A large fair is held here in March, on the same days that this fair takes place at Bahraetch. All our Hindoo camp followers paid as much reverence to the shrine as they passed as the Mahommedans. It is a place without trade or manufactures; but a good many respectable Mahommedan families reside in it, and have built several small but neat mosques of burnt bricks. There is little thoroughfare in the wretched road that passes through it.

The Hindoos worship any sign of manifested might or power, though exerted against themselves, as they consider all might and power to be conferred by the Deity for some useful purpose, however much that purpose may be concealed from us. "These invaders, however merciless and destructive to the Hindoo race, say they must have been sent on their mission by God for some great and useful purpose, or they could not possibly have succeeded as they did: had their proceedings not been sanctioned by Him, he could at any moment have destroyed them all, or have interposed to arrest their progress." These, however, are the speculations of only the thinking portion. At the bottom of the respect shown to such Mahommedan shrines, by the mass of Hindoos, there is always a strong ground-work of hope or fear: the soul or spirit of the savage old man, who had been so well supported on earth, must still, they think, have some influence at the Court of Heaven to secure them good or work them evil, and they invoke or propitiate him accordingly. They would do the same to the tomb of Alexander, Jungez Khan, Tymour, or Nadir Shah, without any perplexing inquiries as to their creed or liturgy.

February 28, 1850.—Chinahut, eleven miles west, over a plain intersected by several small streams, the largest of which is the Rete, near Sutrick. There is a good deal of kunkur-lime in the ground over which we have passed today; but the tillage is good where the land is at all level, and the crops are fine. The plain is cut up here and there by some ravines, but they are small and shallow, and render but a small portion of the surface unfit for tillage. The banks of the small streams are, for the most part, cultivated up to the water's edge.

We passed the Rete over a nice bridge, built by Rajah Bukhtawar Sing twenty-five years ago, at a cost of twenty-five thousand rupees, out of his own purse. He told me that one morning, in the rains, he came to the bank of this river, on his way to Lucknow from Jeytpoor, a town which we passed yesterday, and found it so swollen that he was obliged to purchase some large earthen jars, and form a raft upon them to take over himself and followers. While preparing his raft, which took a whole day, he heard that from five to ten persons were drowned, in attempting to cross this little river, every year, and that people were often detained upon the bank for four or five days together. He resolved to save people from all this evil; and as soon as he got home set about building this bridge, and got it ready before the next rains. It is a substantial work, with three good arches. About two miles on this side of the bridge he pointed out to me the single tree, near a mango-grove, where some eighteen or twenty years ago he overtook a large balloon, which the King, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, had got made in the Dilkosha Park at Lucknow. It was made, he tells me, by a tall and slender young English gentleman, who visited Lucknow, with his uncle, for the special purpose of constructing and ascending in this machine. "When it was all ready, sir, the young man got into a small boat that was suspended under it, taking with him a gun and some artificial fish. We asked him what he intended to do with a gun in the clouds; and he told us, that in the sky he was in danger of meeting large birds that might hurt the balloon, and the gun was necessary to frighten them off. As the balloon began to ascend the old gentleman's eyes filled with tears, and I asked him why. He told me, that this young man's father had fallen into the sea, and been drowned; and he was always afraid, when the son went up, that he might never see him alive again.

"The King was sitting at the window in the upper story of the Dilkosha house, with some English gentlemen, when the balloon passed up close by, and the gentleman took off his hat and bowed gracefully as he passed, at which the King seemed much pleased. I commanded a regiment of Dragoons, and the King told me to take a party of my boldest and best-mounted men and follow the balloon. I selected seventeen, and we were all ready in our saddles. The balloon went straight up, and we lost sight of the man and the boat in which he sat. The machine, though it was sixty feet long, including boat and all, and twelve feet wide, seemed at last to be no larger than a small water-jug. Below we had no wind, but we soon saw the balloon driven by an upper current to the eastward, along the Fyzabad road. We followed as fast as the horses could carry us, crossed the Goomtee river over the old stone bridge, and passed many travellers on the road staring at the extraordinary machine, for they had heard nothing about it, and we had no time to tell them. When we had gone about seventeen miles, the balloon began to descend. It was in the month of March, and the weather was hot, and I had lost three horses before it came to the ground. The young man then began to let go his fish, and they came fluttering down, while the oil-cloths about the balloon made a noise like the growling of a wild beast. Seeing the enormous machine going at this rate, followed by us at full speed, the people along the road, who are always numerous in the morning, became so panic-struck that a great many fell down senseless upon their faces, and some of them could not be got to rise for some hours afterwards.

"We were not far from it when it approached the ground, and swept along on the border of this grove, on our left. Fortunately for the young man, it did not strike any trees. He was dressed all in black, and a very tall, handsome young man he was. As soon as he found himself near enough to the ground, he jumped out, holding one rope in his hand, and tried to stop the balloon, calling out to the people on the road, as loud as he could, puckaro, puckaro!—seize, seize! We were then within two hundred yards of it, and at full speed; and, instead of helping the young man, the people on the road, thinking the order was to seize them, fell down flat on their faces, unable to look upon the balloon, or utter a word. They all thought that it was some terrible demon from above come to seize and devour them. When we had headed it a little, we all sprang from our saddles, joined the young man at the ropes, and lashed them round anything we could find, as we were being dragged along. The young man took out his penknife, and gave the balloon a gash in the side, to let out the smoke that inflated it, and it collapsed and stopped. The first thing, sir, that the young man did was to call for fire, take a cigar from his waistcoat pocket, and begin to smoke, while we went to the assistance of the panic-struck travellers, many of whom were still lying senseless on the ground. We got water, and threw it in their faces; and when they were able to sit up, we mounted the young man upon one of our horses, and took him back slowly to Lucknow. He told me that it was so very cold above, that it gave him a severe headache, and that he found a cigar a good thing to remove it. The King was very glad when we brought him back, and he gave him several thousand rupees over and above the cost of making the balloon, and providing him and his uncle during their stay. They soon after left Lucknow for Lahore, and what became of them I know not."

Passing a Mahommedan village, I asked some of the landholders, who walked along by the side of my elephant, to talk of their grievances, whether they ever used pigs' dung for manure. They seemed very much surprised and shocked, and asked how I could suppose that Mahommedans could use such a thing. "Come," said Bukhtawar Sing, "do not attempt to deceive the Resident. He has been all over India, and knows very well that Mahommedans do not keep or eat pigs; but he knows, also, that there is no good cultivator in Oude who does not use the dung of pigs for manure; and you know that there is no other manure, save' pigeons' dung, that is so good." "We often purchase manure from those who prepare it," said the landholders, "and do not ask questions about what it may be composed of; but the greater part of the manure we use is the cow-dung which falls in the season of the rains, and is stored exclusively for that purpose. In the dry months, sir, the dung of cows, bullocks, buffaloes, &c., is gathered, formed into cakes, and stacked for fuel; but in the rains it is all thrown into pits and stored for manure."

Chinahut is the point from which we set out on the 2nd of December, and here I was met by the prime minister, Nawab Allee Nakee Khan, and the chancellor of the exchequer, Maharajah Balkrishun, to whom I explained my views as to the measures which ought to be adopted to save the peaceful and industrious portion of his Majesty's subjects from the evils which now so grievously oppress them.

Here closes my pilgrimage of three months in Oude; and I can safely say that I have learnt more of the state of the country, and the condition and requirements of the people, than I could possibly have learnt in a long life passed exclusively at the capital of Lucknow. Any general remarks that I may have to make on what I have seen and heard during the pilgrimage I must defer to a future period.

At four in the afternoon, I left Chinahut, and returned to Lucknow. At the old race-stand, about three miles from the Residency, I was met by the heir-apparent, and drove with him, in his carriage, to the Furra Buksh Palace, where we alighted for a few minutes, to go through the usual tedious ceremonies of an Oriental Court. On the way we were met by Mr. Hamilton, the chaplain, and his lady. Dr. and Mrs. Bell, and Captain Bird, the First Assistant, and his brother and guest. After the ceremony, I took leave of the Prince, and reached the Resident at six o'clock. My wife and children had left me at Peernuggur, to return, for medical advice, to the Residency, where I had the happiness to find them well, and glad to see me. Having broken my left thigh hone, near the hip joint, in a fall from my horse, in April, 1849, I was unable to mount a horse during the tour, and went in a tonjohn the first half of the stage, and on an elephant the last half, that I might see as much as possible of the country over which we were passing. The pace of a good elephant is about that of a good walker, and I had generally some of the landholders and cultivators riding or walking by my side to talk with.





Camp, Nawabgunge, 5th December, 1849.

My Dear Bird,

I had heard from Mahomed Khan what you mention regarding the imposition practised on the King by the singers; but from his having conferred a khilaut on the knaves, they supposed that he had, as usual, pardoned all. If you have grounds to believe that the King is prepared to punish them, or to acquiesce in their punishment, pray ask an audience and ascertain his Majesty's wishes. When we last went, I was in hopes that he would tell me that he wished to be relieved of their presence, and did all I could to encourage him to do so. If the King wishes to have them removed, encourage him to give immediate orders to the minister to confine them; and offer any assistance that may be required to take them across the Ganges, or put them into safe custody. When it is done, it must be done promptly.

As to the Taj Mahal, I went on an order by Richmond, "that the King should put a Mahaldarnee upon her if he wished." I was told that such was Richmond's order, and I give mine in consequence. I will refer to the Dufter for his order. But you must at once insist upon all sipahees being withdrawn from her house. This order was given by me and should be enforced by you. I said that the Mahaldarnee might remain, but it must be alone, without sipahees, &c.

On emergency, act of course on your own discretion I only wish that the King may be induced to consent to the removal of all the singers, and meddling eunuchs also.

Yours sincerely, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Captain Bird, First Assistant.

Sadik Allee should be secured, and punished with the rest.

(Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.


Camp, Bahraetch, 10th December, 1849.

My Dear Bird,

The conduct of the singers which exasperated the King had no reference to public matters with which he was pledged not to permit them to interfere; and my only request was, that you should offer your aid in removing them should his Majesty indicate any wish for it. The King said he would himself punish them for their conduct by banishment across the Ganges, and he must be left to do so: it was not from any demand made by us, but from resentment for a personal affront, or an affront to his understanding. We cannot call upon the King to do what he said he would do under such circumstances, but must leave it to himself. The removal of two out of a dozen fellows of this description will be of no use—their places will soon be filled by others. Any attempt on your part to supply their places by better men will only tend to indispose the King towards them; and it is no part of our duty to dictate to his Majesty with whom he shall associate in his private hours.

I have had abundant proof that, to reduce the influence of the present favourites, has no tendency to throw the power into better hands—no authority of any kind taken from them has, by the minister, been confided to better men; the creatures of one are not a whit better than the creatures of the other. If his Majesty were to rouse himself, and apply his own mind to business, we might hope for some good, and I see little chance of this.

You are not to order that the King fulfil his promise, because, as I have said, it was no pledge made on the requisition of our Government on the Resident. If he does not fulfil it, it is only one proof more added to a hundred of his exceeding weakness. There are at least a dozen worse men now influencing all that the King and minister do than Kotab Alee and Gholam Ruza. The last order given regarding Taj Mahal by me was, that she should admit a Mahaldarnee from the King, but that no sipahees should be forced upon her. I wrote to the King to this effect, and my order must be enforced. I am told by the moonshee, that when the King expressed a wish to have such guardians upon many, Richmond replied that he might have one upon Taj Mahal, who had given such proof of profligacy. It was not a judicial decision, to be referred to as a guide under all circumstances, but a mere arrangement which might any day require to be altered. Taj Mahal is so profligate and insolent a woman, that if she refuses to obey my order, and receive the King's Mahaldarnee, I shall withdraw the Residents.

After what the Governor-General had told the King in November, 1847, regarding what our Government would feel itself bound to do, unless his Majesty conducted the duties of a sovereign better than he had hitherto done; and after the experience we have since had of his entire neglect of those duties, you should not, I think, have said what you mention having said to him, that our Government had no wish to deprive him of one iota of the power he had. It was a declaration not called for by the circumstances, or necessary on the occasion, and should have been avoided, as it is calculated to impair the impression of his responsibility for the exercise of his power. No sovereign ever showed a greater disregard for the duties and responsibilities of his high office than he has done hitherto, and as our Government holds itself answerable to the people of Oude for a better administration, he should not be encouraged in the notion that he may always show the same disregard with impunity—that is, continue to retain every iota of his power whether he exercised it properly or not. No man, I believe, ever felt more anxious for the welfare of the King, his family, and country, than I do; but unless he exercises his fearful power better, I should be glad, for the sake of all, to see the whole, or part of it, in better hands.

The minister has his Motroussil with me, and I have daily communications of what is done or proposed to be done, and you may be sure that I lose no occasion of admonition. I did not mention anything you said regarding your interview with the King in your letter to Mahomed Khan; but in a few hours after your letter came he got the whole from the minister, and reported it to me. He wants us to undertake the work of turning out the King's favourites, that he may get all the power they lose, without offending his master by any appearance of moving in the matter.

We go hence to-morrow; hope to be at Gonda on the 14th, and Fyzabad on the 18th. I have requested the post-master to send all our letters to Fyzabad by the regular dawk from Thursday next, the 13th. From Fyzabad I will arrange for their coming to my camp.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Captain Bird, &c. &c.


Camp, Ghunghole, 12th December, 1849.

My Dear Bird,

I got your letter of the 9th instant last night, at our last ground. In what you have done, you have not, I think, acted discreetly. You asked me whether, in any case of emergency, you should act on your discretion, and I told you in reply that you might do so; but surely, whether the King should have a dozen singers or only ten could not be considered one of such pressing emergency as not to admit of your waiting for instructions from me, or, at least, for a reply to your letter. The King has told you truly, that the matter in which the offenders had transgressed had reference to his house, and not to his Government or ours. This is a distinction which you appear to have lost sight of from the first. If I demand reparation from another for wrong or insults suffered from his servants, and he promises to punish them by dismissal from his service but afterwards relents and detains them, I consider it due to myself and my character to insist upon the fulfilment of his promise; but if I voluntarily visit any friend who has at last become sensible of the impositions of his servants which had long been manifest to all his neighbours, with a view to encourage him in his laudable resolution to dismiss them from his service, and to offer my aid in effecting the object should he require it, and he promises me not to swerve from it, but afterwards relents and retains the impostors, I pity his weakness, but I do not consider it due to myself, or to my character, to insist upon his fulfilling his promise. By considering two cases so very distinct, the same, you have placed yourself in a disagreeable situation, for I cannot support you; that is, I can neither demand that the requisitions made by you be complied with, nor can I tell the King that I approve of them. Had you waited for my reply, which was sent off from Bahraetch on the 10th, you would have saved yourself all this annoyance and mortification. It has arisen from an overweening confidence in your personal influence over his Majesty; the fact is, I believe that no European gentleman ever has had or ever will have any personal influence over him, and I very much doubt whether any real native gentleman will ever have any. He never has felt any pleasure in their society, and I fear never will. He has hitherto felt easy only in the society of such persons as those with whom he now exclusively associates, and to hope that he will ever feel easy with persons of a better class is vain. I am perfectly satisfied, in spite of the oath he has taken in the name of his God, and on the head of his minister, that he made to you the promise you mention; and I am no less satisfied that the minister wished for the removal of the singers, provided it should be effected through us without his appearing to his master to move in the matter, and that he wished their removal solely with a view to acquire for himself the authority they had possessed. You should not have any more audiences with the King without previous reference to me; nothing is likely to occur to require it.

Yours sincerely, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Captain Bird, &c. &c.


Camp, Fyzabad, 18th December, 1819.

My Dear Bird,

I send you the letter which you wish to refer to. As you quote my first letter, pray let me see it. I kept no copy, but have a distinct recollection of what I intended to say in it regarding this affair of the singers. It shall be sent back to you. The term "indiscreet" had reference only to your second visit, and demand from the King of the fulfilment of his promise. I had no fault whatever to find with your first visit. The term "private" must have had reference, not to the promise or to the person to whom it was made, but to the offence with which the singers stood charged. It was an affront offered to the King's understanding that he took affront at, and whether he had made a promise to resent it as such to me, or to you could make no difference. If he did not fulfil it, we should pity this further instance of his weakness, but could have no right to insist upon his doing so. Even had the offence been an interference in public affairs, and breach of the King's engagements, I should not have demanded their banishment without a reference to the Governor- General, because the delay of waiting for instructions involved no danger or serious inconvenience; that is, I should not have demanded it when the King was so strongly opposed to it. I must distinctly deny that you demanded the King's fulfilment of his promise in conformity to any instructions received from me, or in accordance with my views of what was right or expedient in this matter. Your second visit and demand were neither in conformity to the one nor in accordance with the other. You must have put a construction upon what I wrote which it cannot fairly bear. By "requisitions" I mean your requirements that the two men should be banished by the King, according to his promise. No notice has been made to me of your visit by the Court, and I have therefore had no occasion to say anything whatever about it in my communications to the Court, nor shall I have any I suppose. In your letter of the 4th instant, you say, with regard to the Taj Mahal's case, "Not knowing whether you do or do not wish me to act in any sudden emergency during your absence, I suppose, therefore, that had you had any such wish you would have instructed me on the subject." In reply, I requested that you would so act on your own discretion in any such sudden case of emergency.

Yours sincerely, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Captain Bird, &c. &c. _____

Camp, Mahomdee, 2nd February, 1850.

My Dear Sir Erskine,

Had it not been too late for you to join my camp conveniently, I should have asked you to run out and see a little of the country and people of Oude, after you had seen so much of those of the Honourable Company's dominions. A few years of tolerable government would make it the finest country in India, for there is no part of India with so many advantages from nature. I have seen no soil finer; the whole plain of which it is composed is capable of tillage; it is everywhere intersected by rivers, flowing from the snowy chain of the Himmalaya, which keep the moisture near the surface at all times, without cutting up any of the land on their borders into deep ravines; it is studded with the finest groves and single trees, as much as the lover of the picturesque could wish; it has the boldest and most industrious peasantry in India, and a landed aristocracy too strong for the weak and wretched Government; it is, for the most part, well cultivated; yet with all this, one feels, in travelling over it, as if he was moving among a people suffering under incurable physical diseases, from the atrocious crimes every day perpetrated with impunity, and the numbers of suffering and innocent people who approach him, in the hope of redress, and are sent away in despair.

I think your conclusion regarding the source of the signs you saw of beneficial interference in the north-west provinces a fair one. A Lieutenant-Governor is able to see all parts of the country under his charge every year, or nearly all; and while he is sufficiently "monarch of all he surveys" to feel an interest in, and to provide for the general good, he has a sufficient knowledge of the internal management of particular districts to control the proceedings of the local officers. He is also well seconded in a very efficient Board of Revenue. But I must not indulge in these matters any further, till I have the pleasure of meeting you where we can talk freely about them.

I trust that all at Lucknow will be conducted to your satisfaction and that of Mrs. Erskine. I have this morning received a note from Mr. Erskine, who left you, it appears, before the little heir- apparent returned your visit. I expect to complete my tour and return to Lucknow on the 20th, when I shall have seen all that I required to see, to understand the working of the existing system, and the probable effects of any suggested changes.

With kind regards to Mrs. Erskine,

Believe me, Yours very sincerely, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Sir Erskine Perry.

P.S.—I must not omit to thank you for the expression of your favourable opinion of the "Rambles." There is one thing of which I can assure you, that the conversations mentioned in it are genuine, and give the real thoughts and opinions of the people on the subjects they embrace. W. H. S.


Lucknow, 26th April, 1850. My Dear Elliot,

I did not send Weston's letters with the other papers, because they were not written in an official form. He was the senior officer with the force, and had authority from the Durbar to call upon all local, civil, and military authorities to co-operate in the work; but he did not take upon himself the command, or write in official form. He inspired all with harmony and energy, and brought the whole strength of the little force to bear upon the right points at the right time.

The head of Prethee Put of Paska was cut off by Captain Magness's sipahees after his death, to be sent to the King as a trophy, but Captain Weston would not let it come in. The body was offered to his family and friends for interment, but none of the family or tribe (Kolhun's Rajpoots) would have anything to do with the funeral ceremonies of a man who had murdered his eldest brother and the head of his tribe. The body was, with the head, put into a sheet, taken to the river Ghagra, and committed to the stream, to flow to the Ganges, as the best interment for a Hindoo. These sipahees knew nothing of the man's history; but the people who saw the affair from the Dhundee Fort mentioned that the body was thrown into the river at the precise place where he had thrown in that of his eldest brother, after murdering him in the boat with his own hands, as stated in the extract from my Diary; and all believe that this retribution arises from an interposition from above. The eldest son of the murdered brother will, I hope, be put into possession of the estate.

The Governor-General may like to peruse these letters, and I send them. They give, perhaps, a fuller and better account of what was done, and the manner in which it was done, than more studied compositions, in an official form, would have given.

Yours sincerely, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Sir H. M. Elliot, K.C.B.


Lucknow, 8th July, 1850.

My Dear Sir James,

I feel that my Indian career, which has now lasted forty years, must be drawing to a close, and I am anxious for the settlement in life of my only son, now between seventeen and eighteen years of age. Having no personal claims upon any member of the Home Government of India, I solicit the insertion of his name on his Grace the Duke of Wellington's list of candidates for a commission in the Dragoons; and he is now preparing for his examination under the care of Mr. Yeatman, at Westow Hill, Norwood, Surrey, near London. But he is ambitious to obtain an appointment to Bengal, where his father has served so long, and may, possibly, have friends and recollections that might be useful to him in the early part of his career. It falls to the lot of few to have the opportunities that I have had to carry out the benevolent views of Government in measures of great and general benefit to the people, and to secure their gratitude and affection to their rulers. All the measures which I have been employed to carry out have tended to display the benevolent solicitude of the Government of India for the welfare of the people committed to its charge; the object of all has been the greater security of life and property throughout the country, the greater confidence of the people in the wisdom and efficiency of our rule, and their greater feeling of interest in this stability. These measures, as far as they have been confided to my care, have all succeeded; but, as I have stated (p. 79) in a printed report, a copy of which will be sent to you, they have neither flattered the vainglory of any particular nation, nor enlisted on their side the self-love of any influential class or powerful individual, and they have, in consequence, been attended with little eclat. They have, however, tended to secure to the Government the gratitude and affection of the people of India, and are measures of which that Government may justly feel proud. The stability of our Government in India must depend less upon our military victories than upon the confidence and affection with which our civil and political administration may inspire the great mass of the people. The general belief is, that our object is their substantial good, and that we are instruments in the hands of Divine Providence to effect that object. In our military glory they can feel no sympathy, and in our territorial acquisitions little interest; but they can and do appreciate every measure which tends to improve the security of life, property, and industry through the land—to restore the bond of good feeling between the Government and governed, where it has for a time been severed or impaired by accident—to provide the people with works tending to improve their comfort and convenience—to mitigate sufferings from calamities of season, and to encourage all to exert themselves honestly in their proper sphere. In carrying out the views of Government in such measures, and such only, has my life in India been spent; and for doing so to the best of my humble ability I have, I believe, done much to make its rule revered throughout India. It is by such measures that the respect and confidence of the great mass of the people have been secured, so as to enable Europeans, male and female, to pass from one end of the country to the other with the assurance, not only that they will suffer no personal injury, but no mark of disrespect. Should anything occur to deprive us of this confidence and respect among the great mass of the people, the recollection of our victories, and assurance of our superior military organization will avail us but little; and it is as one who has zealously and successfully aided Government in securing them, that I now venture to address you, in the hope that you will—if you can do so consistently with your public duties and pledges to others—open to my son the same career of usefulness by conferring upon him a nomination to the civil service of India. He is now five months above seventeen years of age; and by the time he is eighteen, he will, I hope, under Mr. Yeatman's judicious care, be able to pass his examination for Haileybury, should he, through your means, obtain this the utmost object of his ambition. Over and above the desire to follow his father's footsteps in India, he is anxious to avoid the necessity of encroaching so much upon the small means I have to provide for his four sisters, by entering so expensive a branch of the public service as the Dragoons. I know the great nature of the favour I ask from you. It is the first favour that I have ever asked from any member of the Home Government of India; and I solicit it from you solely on the ground of service rendered to the Government and people of India. I am told that I must address my application to an individual; and I address it to you, under the impression that you are the member with whom such ground is likely to meet with most consideration;—not that I think any member of the Honourable Court would disregard it; for I believe, after long and varied experience in public affairs, and much thought and reading, that no body intrusted with the Government of a distant possession ever performed their duties with more earnest solicitude for its welfare than the Court of Directors of the Honourable East India Company; but because your public career has inspired me with more confidence than that of any other member of the Court as now constituted. If you cannot grant me the favour I ask, you will, I know, pardon the liberty I have taken in asking it.

And believe me, with great respect, Yours faithfully, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Sir James Weir Hogg, Bart.


Lucknow, 20th September, 1850.

My Dear Sir Charles,

The papers give us reason to hope that it is your intention to visit Lucknow on your way down from the hills, and if you can make it convenient to come, I shall be rejoiced to have the opportunity of showing you all that is worth seeing, and be able to afford all who come with you, ladies and gentlemen, accommodation.

The only road to Lucknow for carriages is from Cawnpore, and if you come that way, I will have carriages sent for you. If you come by any other road, I will have elephants sent to whatever place you may mention, and tents if required. It has been usual, when the Commander-in-chief visits Lucknow, for Government to intimate the intention to the King through the Resident in Oude, that preparation may be made for his reception in due form.

I mention this that you may make known your wish or intention to the Governor-General, in time for me to prepare the King and his Court.

From Cawnpore to this is only a drive of six hours, the distance being fifty miles, and the road good. All officers, &c., will be glad to have an opportunity of paying their respects to their distinguished Chief.

Believe me, Yours very faithfully, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To his Excellency Sir Charles Napier, G.C.B., &c. &c. &c.


Lucknow, 7th November, 1850.

My Dear Allan,

In the "Englishman" of the 28th, and the "Hurkara" of the 29th, there are some strictures on Oude affairs. The editors of both papers are, I believe, sturdy, honest men; but their correspondents are not acquainted with the merits of the particular case referred to, or with Oude affairs generally. I vouch for the truth of everything stated in the enclosed paper, and shall feel obliged if you will give it to the one most likely, in your opinion, to make a fair use of it. There can be no harm in putting an editor in possession of the real truth in a question involving not only individual but national honour; for he must be anxious to make his paper the vehicle of truth on all such questions.

I do not like to address either of the editors, because Government expect all their servants will abstain from doing so in their own vindication, and will leave their honour in their keeping. I have done so since 1843, and should now do so were I alone concerned in this affair. You may mention my name as authority for what is stated, but pray let it be mentioned confidentially. Government has been informed of the truth, and it is well that the public should be so.

Yours sincerely, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN

To J. Allan, Esq.


Lucknow, 17th November, 1850.

My Dear Sir James,

I thank you for your very kind letter of the 7th ultimo: my son is preparing for his examination, and expects his commission in some regiment of cavalry very soon. He has not only become reconciled to it, but would, I believe, now prefer remaining at home as a cavalry officer to coming to India in any capacity. As I have only one son, and he has four sisters to look after, I should be unwilling to have him sent out to India as a cadet, were he anxious to be so. A good regiment is an excellent school for a young man, but no school could be worse than a bad regiment; and among so many, there must always be some bad. I have seen some of the sons of my old friends utterly ruined in character and constitution by being posted to such regiments when too young to think for themselves. I feel, however, as grateful to you for your very kind offer as I should be, were I to avail myself of it.

If I return to England, I shall take advantage of the earliest opportunity to pay my respects and become personally acquainted with you; but I have no intention to leave India as long as I feel that I can perform efficiently the duties intrusted to me.

I had a few days ago, in referring to Government an important question that must some day come before you, occasion to mention an important and interesting fact. During the last collision with the Seiks, I found that the Government securities kept up their value here, while in Calcutta they fell a good deal; and the merchants here employed agents in Calcutta to purchase largely for sale here. Paper to the value of more than three millions sterling, or three crores of rupees, is held by people residing in the city of Lucknow, and the people had never the slightest doubt that we should be ultimately triumphant. The question was whether heirs and executors of persons domiciled here and leaving property in Government securities, should apply to Her Majesty's Supreme Court in Calcutta, for probates to wills and letters of administration, or whether an act should be passed to render the decision of the highest Court at Lucknow, countersigned, by the Resident, as valid as the certificate of a judge in our own provinces, as far as such property in Government securities might be concerned. A provision of this sort had been omitted in Act 20 of 1841, which was considered applicable to all British India, of which the kingdom of Oude was held to form a part.

We have now a fair prospect of long peace, during which I hope our finances will improve. The lavish life-pensions granted after wars in Central and Southern India will be lapsing with the death of the present incumbents, many of whom are becoming old and infirm, and our means of transit and irrigation will increase with the new works which are being formed, and we shall always have it in our power to augment our revenue from indirect taxation, as wealth and industry increase.

Believe me, My Dear Sir James, Very faithfully and obligedly yours, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Sir James Weir Hogg, Bart.


Lucknow, 2nd March, 1851.

My Lord,

The mail of the 24th January has just come in, and I find my only son Henry Arthur gazetted for the 16th Dragoons. He told me by the last mail that he was to be so if he passed his examination on the 10th of that month, which he hoped to do; but I deferred writing to thank you for your kind exertions in his behalf till his name should appear in the "Gazette." I pray your Lordship to accept my most grateful acknowledgments for this act of kindness, added as it has been to the many others which I have received at your hands. It is not the less valuable that it is the only favour I have received from England since I left it more than forty years ago, though, I believe, few have done more to benefit the people of its eastern dominions, and to secure for it their esteem and affection.

I trust that my son will never do anything to make your Lordship regret the favour conferred upon me and him on this occasion. He is, I believe, in disposition, manners, and education a little gentleman; and in time he will, I hope, become a good officer.

If I might take the liberty, I would pray your Lordship to offer, in such terms as may appear to you suitable, my grateful acknowledgments for the consideration I have received, to his Grace the Duke of Wellington, and to Lord Fitzroy Somerset. My London Agents, Messrs. Denay, Clark, and Co., of Austin Friars, have been instructed to pay for my son's commission and outfit, and to provide him with the funds indispensably necessary in addition to his pay.

We shall now look with much interest to the Parliamentary discussions on Indian affairs, for we must expect some important changes on the renewal of the Charter. Whatever these changes may be for the home or local Government, I trust the benefit of the people of India will be considered the main point, and not the triumph of a party. The statesman who shall link India more closely with New Zealand will be a benefactor to both England and India, and that colony also. It might, with advantage to itself, take those children of Indian officers who cannot find employment of any kind in India, and ought not to be thrown back upon the mother-country. With this view, it might be useful to transfer our orphan institutions to that island, to direct that way our invalid and pensioned officers, who, while subsisting upon their pensions or stipends, would be able to establish their children in a climate suitable to the preservation of their race, which that of India certainly is not.

India is at present tranquil, and likely to remain so. We have no native chiefs, or combination of native chiefs, to create uneasiness; and if we continue to satisfy the great body of the people that we are anxious, to the best of our ability, to promote their happiness and welfare, and are the most impartial arbitrators that they could have, we shall have nothing to fear. The moment that this mass is impressed with the belief that we wish to govern India only for ourselves, or as the French govern Algiers, from that moment we must lose our vantage ground and decline. We may war against the native chiefs of India, but we cannot war against the people—we need not fear what may be called political dangers, but we must guard carefully against those of a social character which would unite against us the members of all classes and all creeds.

But I must no longer indulge in speculations of this sort, in which you can now feel little interest amidst the important changes which are now taking place in the institutions and relations of European nations. With grateful recollections of kindness received, and great respect, I remain, Your Lordship's obedient servant, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To the Right Hon. the Earl of Ellenborough.

P.S.—Since writing the above, I have received your Lordship's letter of the 18th of January, and have been much gratified with the favourable opinion you entertain of the commandant and officers. It is the best assurance I could have of my boy being safe. Nothing could be more auspicious than the opening of the lad's career, and I trust he will profit by the advantage.


Lucknow, 18th March, 1851.

My Dear Sir Erskine,

I have read over with much interest the two small works you have done me the favour to send me, the one on Buddhism, and the other on Law Reform; but I have not ventured upon the Seventh Report of the Board of Education yet, because I have had a good deal to do and think about; and a good deal of it is in small print, very trying for my eyes, which are none of the strongest. I shall, however, soon read it.

I concur in all your views about the necessity of throwing overboard the whole system of special pleading, and have been amused with Sir J. P. Grant's horror of your proposed innovations. It is not less than that which he expressed at the little Macaulay Code, intended to blow up the whole pyramid raised by "the wisdom of our ancestors," in which so many illustrious characters he entombed. He was, indeed, as you say, "a great laudator temporis acti;" but the number of those like him at all times in England and its distant possessions is fearful. One likes to look to America in this as in all things tending to advancement; but there the "damned spot" stares us in the face, blights our hopes, and crushes our sympathies—hideous slavery —hideous alike in the recollection of the past, the contemplation of the present, and the anticipation of the future. I wish two things— 1. That you would write a work on the subject less "sketchy and perfunctory," as you call it, so that any one not versed in English law and procedure might be able to understand it and appreciate it thoroughly. 2nd. That you would, when relieved from your present office, come out as our law member of council, to press your views on our Government with effect. With these law reforms, as with railroads, there were less impediments in India than in England; but there is one thing that I would observe. In our own Indian Courts our judges would—for a time at least—want the aid of honest masters to condense and report upon cases under trial. Such men would be made in time; and in considering such things, we must recollect that almost the only persons in India who can send agents into all parts of it, with a perfect assurance of honest dealing, are the native merchants and bankers. But I won't dwell on this subject. I can't find amongst the numerous Buddhists here, one who knows anything about "Kapila vasta," which you place near to Lucknow. I should like to visit the birth-place of a man who did so much for mankind as Sakeen Gantama.

He would hardly have done as I have, placed my only son in the 16th Lancers. However, I may console myself, for he may be in it a long time without doing much mischief, for I do hope that the people of the nations of modern Europe are too strong and too wise to let their sovereigns and ministers play such fantastic tricks as they were "wont to play," when George the 3rd, and Edward the 3rd, and Henry the 5th were kings. Property, good sense, and good business have greatly increased and spread, and are every day producing good fruits.

Believe me, Yours very trusting, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Sir Erskine Perry, &c. &c.


Lucknow, 31st March, 1851. My Dear Sir,

I grieve to say that I can do nothing whatever for the son of my late friend Colonel Ouseley, and have been obliged to write to him to that effect, as to many other sons of old and valued friends whom I should be glad to aid if I could.

Tens of thousands of the most happy families I have seen in India owe all they have to the able and judicious management of the late Colonel Ouseley when in the civil charge of the districts of Houshengabad and Baitool, in the Saugor territories; and no man's memory is more dear to the people of those districts than his now is. The family of a man who had done so much to make his government beloved and respected over so large a field should never want if I could prevent it; but I have no situations whatever in my gift, nor have I any influence over any persons who have such situations to bestow.

Believe me, Yours truly, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Captain Harrington.


Lucknow, 24th November 1851.

My Lord,

Lucknow affairs are now in a state to require the assumption of the entire management of the country; and the principal question for your Lordship's consideration is, whether this shall be done by a new treaty or by simple proclamation. Treaties not only justify but enjoin the measure; our pledges to the people demand it; and all India are, I believe, satisfied of its justice, provided we leave the revenues for the maintenance of the royal family in suitable dignity, and for the benefit of the people.

We may disencumber our Government of the pay of two regiments of Oude Local Infantry, and incorporate them with the Oude force to be raised, and of that of the officers of the residency, altogether about two lacs and a-half of rupees; and when things are settled down a little, the brigade now here—of three infantry regiments and a company of artillery, costing some four lacs more—may be dispensed with, perhaps.

If I may be permitted to give an opinion as to the best mode of the two, I should say proclamation, as the more dignified.

I have prepared all the information I believe your Lordship will require, and am ready to wait upon you with it when and where it may seem most convenient.

The treasury is exhausted, and fifty lacs are required to pay the stipendiaries of the royal family and establishments; and assuredly all the members of that family, save the King's own household, are wishing for some great measure to place them under the guarantee of the British Government. The people all now wish for it, at least all the well-disposed, for there is not a man of integrity or humanity left in any office. The King's understanding has become altogether emasculated; and though he would not willingly do harm to any one, he is unable to protect any one. He would now, I believe, willingly get rid of his minister; and, having exhausted the treasury, the minister would not much dislike to get rid of him. I shall do my best to prevent his being released from the responsibility of his misdoings till I meet your Lordship. I should like, if possible, to meet your Lordship where there is likely to be the least crowd of expectants and parade to take up your time and distract your attention. If at Cawnpore, I hope you will permit me to have my camp on the Oude side of the river, with a tent in your camp for business during the day. With your Lordship's commands to attend, it will be desirable to have an order to make over my treasury to the First Assistant, to prevent delay. Should you desire any memoranda to be sent, they shall be forwarded as soon as ordered. If any further public report upon the state of Oude affairs appears to be required, I must pray your Lordship to let me know as soon as convenient. I shall not propose any native gentlemen for the higher offices; but it will be necessary to have a great many in the subordinate ones, to show that your Lordship wishes to open employment in all branches of the new administration to educated native gentlemen.

I remain, Your Lordship's obedient servant, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To the Most Noble The Marquis of Dalhousie, Governor-General, &c. &c. &c.


Lucknow, 18th March, 1852.

My Lord,

I was favoured with your Lordship's letter of the 24th ultimo in due course, and did not reply immediately as I had stated, or was about to state, in a public form, all that seemed to be required about Captain Bird and Dr. Bell. Dr. Bell had apologised for indiscretions in conversation, but denied ever having authorised Mr. Brandon to make use of his name; and pretended utter ignorance of the intrigues which he was carrying on at the time that he was doing his utmost to convey wrong impressions to the Durbar. I feel grateful for the support your Lordship has given me. I cared nothing about the intrigues of these very silly men while under the impression that it was your intention to interpose effectually for the benefit of the people of Oude, because the new arrangements would have rendered them harmless; but when I found that you could not do so at present, it became necessary, for my own dignity and that of the Government, to do my best to put a stop to them. Most assuredly Captain Bird had been trying hard to persuade the King and his minister that our Government could not interfere, and that all the threats of the Governor-General would continue to be what they had hitherto been, and might be disregarded.

I find that your Lordship has departed slightly from your original plan in regard to Burmah, by sending a detachment to make a demonstration upon Rangoon and Martaban. There is no calculating upon the result of such a demonstration in dealing with a Government so imbecile, and so ignorant of our resources. The places are too far from the capital, and the war party may succeed in persuading the King that in this demonstration we put forth all our strength. I can appreciate your motive—the wish to avoid, if possible, a war of annexation, which a war upon any scale must be. We should have to make use of a vast number of suffering people, whom we could not abandon to the mercy of the old Government.

In the last war our great difficulties were the want of quick transit for troops and stores by sea, the want of carriage cattle, and sickness. These three impediments will not now beset us. Our own districts on the coast will supply land-carriage, steam-vessels will carry our troops and stores, and subsequent experience will enable us to avoid sources of endemial diseases. I have no map of the country; but some letters in the papers about the Busseya river interested me much. Our strong point is steam; and the discovery of a river which would enable us to use it in getting in strength to the rear or flank would be of immense advantage. There must be healthy districts; indeed Burmah generally must be a healthy country, or the population would not be so strong and intelligent as they are known to be. In religious feeling they are less opposed to us than any other people not Buddhists. Indeed, from the people we should have nothing to fear; and the army must be insignificant in numbers as well as equipments. I am very glad to find that so able and well-trained a statesman as Fox Maule has been put at the head of the Board of Control; and trust that your Lordship will remain at our head till the Burmah affair is thoroughly settled.

The little affair of the Moplars, on the Malabar coast, may grow into a very big one unless skilfully managed. A brother of the Conollys is the magistrate, I believe. We can learn nothing of the cause of the strong feeling of discontent that prevails among this fanatical people. No such strong feeling can exist in India without some "canker-worm" to embitter the lives and unite the sympathies of large classes against their rulers or local governors, and make them think that they cannot shake it off without rebelling and becoming martyrs. I must pray your Lordship to excuse this long rambling letter, and

Believe me, with great respect, Your obedient servant, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To the Most Noble The Marquis of Dalhousie, Governor-General, Calcutta.


Lucknow, 4th April, 1852.

My Dear Sir James,

Your present of the cadetship for her son made the poor widow's heart glad, and I doubt not that she has written to express her grateful feelings. The young man will, I hope, prove himself deserving of the favour you have conferred upon him so gracefully. The Court has called for a copy of my Diary of the tour I made through Oude soon after I took charge of my office; and I have sent off two copies, one for Government and the other for the Court. I purchased a small press and type for the purpose of printing it in my own house, that no one but myself and the compositor might see it. I will send home two copies for yourself and the chairman as soon as they can be bound in Calcutta. The Diary contains a faithful picture of Oude, its Government, and people, I believe. I have printed only a few copies, and they will not be distributed till I learn that the Court consider them unobjectionable. In spirit they will be found so. I intend, if I can find time, to give the history of the reigning family in a third volume. My general views on Oude affairs have been given in my letters to Government, which will, I conclude, be before the Court. A ruler so utterly regardless of his high duties and responsibilities, and of the sufferings of the people under his rule, as the present King, I have never seen; nor have I ever seen ministers so incompetent and so unworthy as those whom he employs in the conduct of his affairs. We have threatened so often to interpose for the benefit of the poor people, without doing anything, that they have lost all hope, and the profligate and unprincipled Government have lost all fear. The untoward war with Burmah prevents our present Governor-General from doing what he and I believe the Honourable Court both wish. We certainly ought not any longer to incur the odium of supporting such a Government in its iniquities, pledged as we are by treaties to protect the people from them. I do not apprehend any serious change in the constitution of the Court of Directors in the new charter. No ministers would hazard such a change in the present state of Europe. The Court is India's only safeguard. No foreign possession was ever so governed for itself as India has been, and this all foreigners with whom I have conversed, admit. The Governor- General of the Netherlands India was with me lately on his way home. He is a first-rate statesman, and he declared to me that he was impressed and delighted to see a country so governed, and apparently so sensible of the benefits conferred upon it by our paternal rule. He will tell you the same thing if you ever meet him. His name is Rochasson. The people appreciate the value of the Court of Directors, and no act, as far as it is known to them, has tended more to strengthen their confidence in it than that which has brought retribution on the great sinner in Scinde, Allee Murad. No punishment was ever more just or merited. Scinde, however, is too remote for the people in general to feel much interest in its affairs or families. Our weak points in the last Burmese war were:—1. The want of transport for troops and stores; 2. The want of carriage by land, for arms and stores; 3. Sickness. All these things have been remedied, and the war, when begun in earnest, can last but a short time. We know more of the country and shall avoid the sources of endemial disease; our steam provides for the rapid transport of troops and stores; and draft-cattle will be supplied from our own districts on the coast. Where our Government has no representative as Resident or Consul, all Europeans should be told that they remain entirely on their own responsibility. Unless this is done, the Governments must be eternally in collision. If war be carried on in earnest, it must be one of annexation: we must make use of persons whom we cannot abandon to the mercy of the Burmese Government. We have nothing to fear from the people: they have no religious feeling against us, being all Buddhists; and they have seen too much of the benefits conferred by us on the territories taken during the last war to have any dead of our dominion. Lord Dalhousie has, I believe, been most anxious to avoid a war—it has been forced upon him.

Believe me, Yours very faithfully, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.

To Sir James W. Hogg, Deputy Chairman, India House.


Lucknow, 6th April, 1842.

My Dear Mr. Halliday,

We are all wrong here in the Martiniere institution, and you have now an admirable opportunity of setting all right and doing an infinite deal of good with little trouble. I know how little you have of time and attention to devote to such things, and conclude that Mr. Devereux cannot have much more, and you may feel assured that I shall do all in my power to assist you. We are here attempting to give the education of gentlemen to beggar-boys, who must always depend upon their daily work for their daily bread. The senior boys are in despair, for they find that they have learnt hardly anything to fit them for the only employments open to them, and this tends to discourage the younger ones. The Roorkee Civil Engineering School seems to have been eminently successful, and a fine field is open to all who are taught in it. We shall no doubt have a similar field open in Oude when Government interposes in behalf of the suffering people, and we might prepare for it by converting the Martiniere into a similar school or college. The committee has just expressed to you a hope that Mr. Crank, the officiating principal, may be able to pass an examination in the native languages. This hope can never be realised; and if he does I shall have to record my opinion that he is otherwise unfitted. The power of nominating a principal rests entirely with the trustees; and if you concur in my views you might at once prepare for the change by getting a man from England or elsewhere, such as Mr. Maclagan, the late superintendent of the Roorkee school, fitted to teach civil engineering in all its branches. You have the command of funds to provide him with assistants of all kinds; and we have accommodations and funds to raise more, and provide machinery, books, &c. The thing might be set going at once, after you send a competent man to superintend it; and the work will be honourable to our Government and ourselves, and of vast benefit to the boys brought up at this Martiniere, and to their parents and families. If you think favourably of the proposed change, and will direct the committee to take it into consideration, I will do my best to make it respond cordially to your call; or if you direct the measure to be adopted at once, I will see that it is worked out as it should be. Mr. Crank has a good knowledge of mathematics and mechanics, and will make a good second under a good first; but he would be quite unfit for a first. Mr. Maclagan intended going home, via Bombay, as soon as relieved by Captain Oldfield, and has embarked by this time. He might be written to, to send out a competent person and the required machinery. Constantia is admirably adapted for such an establishment; the river Goomtee flows close under it; the grounds are ample, open, and level, and the climate fine. It would interest the whole of the Oude aristocracy, and induce them to send their sons there for instruction. It would be gratifying to the Judges of the Supreme Court to know that the funds available were devoted to a purpose so highly useful; and you would carry home with you the agreeable recollection of having engrafted so useful a branch upon the almost useless old trunk of the Martiniere.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17     Next Part
Home - Random Browse