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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 55, No. 343, May 1844
Author: Various
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"And yet an amateur actress?"

"Yes; but we never ask such questions in France. Every body does the same. You should see one of our 'bals a la victime,' in which the express qualification for a ticket is having lost a relative by the guillotine."

"But who is this charming woman?"

"A woman of birth and fortune, of charming talents, and supposed at this moment to exercise the highest influence with the most influential personage of the government;—even the bewitching Madame de Fontenai has given way to her supremacy."

I observed, "That though neither could compete with English beauty in point of features, there was a singular fascination in both—their countenances seemed remarkably connected with the play of their minds.

"There is still a distinction," said Elnathan, after a long and calm look through his lorgnette—in the style of that inspection which an artist might give to a picture of acknowledged renown; or perhaps which a Mahometan dealer might fix on an importation from Circassia; "but one which," said he, dropping his glass, "I find it difficult to define."

"You have already," said I, "given Madame Roland her place at the head of Republicans, let us suppose Madame de Fontenai the fine and fastidious aristocrat. While this lovely being's elegance of manner, and mixture of grace and dignity, would make an admirable figure at the head of a French court, if such a thing were not now beyond all possibility."

"Are you aware," said the Jew, with sudden seriousness, "that a prediction, or at least some extraordinary conjecture on the subject, has gone the round of the circles. The tale is, that while she was still a girl in the West Indies, one of the negro dispensers of fortune, an Obi woman, pronounced that she should ascend a throne. I must, however, add the finale to qualify it—that she should die in an hospital."

"The scale," said I, "goes down too suddenly in that case: she had better remain the beautiful and happy creature that she is. Yet a being formed in this expressive mould was not meant either to live or die like the rest of the world."

"True, in other countries," said Elnathan, with a glance round, as if a huissier was at his elbow; "but here the affair is different—or rather, the course of nature is the scaffold. That beautiful woman has lately had the narrowest escape from the Revolutionary committee; and I can tell you that it is utterly impossible to know what to-morrow may bring even to her. She is too lovely not to be an object of rivalry; and a word may be death."

Such was my first sight of Josephine de Beauharnais.

This charming performance proceeded with infinite interest. But it differed from the course which I have since seen it take. The scene next showed Virginie in France. She was in the midst of all the animation of Parisian life—no longer the simple and exquisite child of nature, but the conscious beauty; still in all the bloom of girlhood, but exhibiting the graces of the woman of fashion. Surrounded by the admiration and adulation of the glittering world, she had given herself up to its influence, until her early feelings were beginning to fade away. The scene opened with a ball. Virginie, dressed in the perfection of Parisian taste, was floating down the dance, radiant with jewels and joy, the very image of delight, when her eye dropped upon the figure of a stranger, standing in a recess of the superb apartment, with arms folded, a moody brow, and a burning gaze fixed upon her. A pang shot through her heart. In her exquisite acting, a single gesture, a single glance, showed that all the recollections of her native isle had returned. She was the child of nature and of sensibility once more. She tottered from the dance, tremblingly approached the stranger, and fell at his feet. That stranger was Paul; and Talma, in his finest tragedy, never displayed more profound emotion, nor produced more enthusiastic applause, than when he raised her up, and with one look, and one word, "Virginie,"—forgot all and forgave all.

But we were spared the catastrophe, which would certainly have been an ill return for the profusion of sighs and tears which the fair spectators gave to the performance. The ruling genius of the night, the minister's wife, officially inspired to do honour to the triumphs of the State, had employed the talents of her decorateurs actively during our stay at the supper-table; and when the curtain rose for the third act, instead of "a stormy sea and the horrors of shipwreck," according to the stage directions, we saw a stage Olympus, in which the whole elite of the Celestials escorted a formidable Bellona-like figure, the cuirassed and helmed Republic, in triumphal procession, to an altar covered with laurels and flaming with incense, inscribed "a la Liberte." Some stanzas, more remarkable for their patriotism than their poetry, were chanted by Minerva, Juno, and the rest of the Olympians, IN HONOUR of the "jour magnifique de victoire, Jemappes." A train of figurantes, the monarchies of Europe, came forward, dancing and depositing their crowns and sceptres at the foot of the altar, (a sign, at least, tolerably significant;) the whole concluding with an exhibition of the bust of Dumourier, on which Madame laid a chaplet of laurel, accompanied with a speech in the highest republican style—bust, speech, and Madame, being all alike received with true Gallic rapture.

On that night, to have doubted the "irresistible, universal, and perpetual" triumph of the Republic, would have been high-treason to taste, to hospitality, and the ladies; and for that night our belief was unbounded. All had made up their minds that a new era of human felicity had arrived; that "all the world was a stage," in the most dancing and delightful sense of the words; and that feasting and fetes were to form the staple of life for every future age. We were to live in a rosebud world. I heard around me in a thousand whispers, from some of the softest politicians that ever wore a smile, the assurance, that France was to become a political Arcadia, or rather an original paradise, in which toil and sorrow had no permission to be seen. In short, the world, from that time forth, was to be changed; despotism was extinguished; man was regenerated; balls and suppers were to be the only rivalry of nations; Paris was, of course, to lead France; France, of course, to lead the globe;—all was to be beauty, bonhommie, and bonbons! And, under the shade of the triumphant tricolor, all nations were to waltz, make epigrams, and embrace for ever!

FOOTNOTES:

[14] MADRIGAL.

"Silence is the true love-token; Passion only speaks in sighs; Would you keep its charm unbroken, Trust the eloquence of eyes. Ah no! Not so.

From my soul all doubts remove; Tell me, tell me—that you love.

"Looks the heart alone discover, If the tongue its thoughts can tell, 'Tis in vain you play the lover, You have never felt the spell. Ah no! Not so. Speak the word, all words above; Tell me, tell me—that you love."



INDIAN AFFAIRS—GWALIOR.

The painful interest with which the arrival of every Indian mail was looked for in England during the continuance of the Affghan war with its alternations of delusive triumphs and bloody reverses, has now almost wholly died away: the public mind, long accustomed to sup full of the horrors of the Khoord-Cabul pass, and the atrocities of the "arch-fiend" Akhbar Khan, has subsided into apathy, and hears with indifference of the occasional defeat and dethronement of rajahs and nawabs with unpronounceable names—an employment which seem to be popularly considered in this country the ordinary duty of the servants of the Company. Yet the intelligence received during the last year from our eastern empire, whether viewed in connexion with past events, or with reference to those which are now "casting their shadows before," might furnish abundant matter for speculation, both from the "moving incidents by field" which have marked its course, and the portents which have appeared in the political horizon. In Affghanistan all things seem gradually returning to the same state in which the British invasion found them. The sons of Shah Shoojah have proved unable to retain the royal authority, which they attempted to grasp on the retirement of the invaders; and Dost Mahommed, released from captivity, (as we expressed in Feb. 1843 the hope that he would be,) once more rules in Cabul—there destined, we trust, to end his days in honour after his unmerited misfortunes—and has shown every disposition to cultivate a good understanding with the government in India. Akhbar Khan is again established in his former government of Jellalabad; and it is said that he meditates availing himself of the present distracted state of the Sikh kingdom, to make an attempt for the recovery of the Peshawar—the refusal of his father to confirm which, by a formal cession to Runjeet Singh, was one of the causes, it will be remembered, of the Affghan war. There are rumours of wars, moreover, in Transoxiana, where the King of Bokhara has subdued the Uzbek kingdom of Kokan or Ferghana, (once the patrimony of the famous Baber,) and is said to meditate extending his conquests across the Hindoo-Koosh into Northern Affghanistan—a measure which might possibly bring him within reason of British vengeance for the wrongs of the two ill-fated envoys, Stoddart and Conolly, who, even if the rumours of their murder should prove unfounded, have been detained for years, in violation of the rights of nations, in hopeless and lingering bondage.[15] The Barukzye sirdars have repossessed themselves of Candahar, whence they are believed to be plotting with the dispossessed Ameer of Meerpoor in Scinde against the British; while at Herat, the very fons et origo mali, the sons of Shah Kamran have been expelled after their father's death, by the wily vizier Yar Mohammed, who has strengthened himself in his usurpation by becoming a voluntary vassal of Persia! Thus has the Shah acquired, without a blow, the city which became famous throughout the world by its resistance to his arms; and the preservation of which, as a bulwark against the designs of Russia, was the primary object which led the British standards, in an evil hour, across the Indus. Such has been the result of all the deep-laid schemes of Lord Auckland's policy, and the equivalent obtained for the thousands of lives, and millions of treasure, lavished in support of them;—failure so complete, that but for the ruins of desolated cities, and the deep furrows of slaughter and devastation, left visible through the length and breadth of the land, the whole might be regarded as a dream, from which the country had awakened, after the lapse of five years, to take up the thread of events as they were left at the end of 1838. But the connexion of our eastern empire with trans-Indian politics has also fortunately subsided once more to its former level; and, satisfied with this brief summary, we shall turn to the consideration of those points in which our own interests are more nearly implicated.

Our anticipations last year, as to the ultimate fate of Scinde and its rulers, have been verified almost to the letter. The Ameers (to borrow a phrase of Napoleon's germane to the matter) "have ceased to reign," and their territory has formally, as it already was virtually, incorporated with the Anglo-Indian empire. In our Number for February 1843, we gave some account of the curious process of political alchemy by which a dormant claim for tribute, on the part of Shah Shoojah, had been transmuted into an active assertion of British supremacy over the Indus and its navigation, and the appropriation of the port of Kurrachee at the mouth, and the fortified post of Sukkur on the higher part of the stream, of the river. To this arrangement the Ameers, from the first, submitted with a bad grace, which it was easy to foresee would lead, according to established rule in such cases in India, to the forfeiture of their dominions. And such has been the case; but the transfer has not been effected without an unexpected degree of resistance, in which the heroism of Sir Charles Napier, and the handful of troops under his command, against fearful numerical odds, alone prevented the repetition, on a smaller scale, of the Affghan tragedy. The proximate cause of the rupture was the refusal of the Ameers to permit the clearing away of their shikargahs, or hunting-grounds, which were guarded with a rigid jealousy, paralleled only by the forest laws of William the Conqueror, and extended for many miles along the banks of the Indus, in a broad belt of impenetrable jungle, at once impeding the navigation by preventing the tracking of boats, and presenting dangerous facilities for ambush. To these cherished game-preserves the Ameers clung with a desperate pertinacity, which might have moved the sympathy of an English sportsman—"admitting" (says the Bombay Times) "that we might strip them of their territory, occupy Hydrabad, or seize their persons without difficulty; but maintaining that they will never consent to become parties to the act of degradation we insist upon, or give their enemies the pretext for charging them with having made over to us by treaty, on any consideration whatever, the most valued portion of their territory." A force under Sir Charles Napier was at length moved from Sukkur towards Hydrabad, with a view of intimidating them into submission; and on February 14, 1843, they affixed their seals to the draught of an agreement for giving up the shikargahs. But this apparent concession was only a veil for premeditated treachery. On the 15th, the Residency at Hydrabad was attacked by 8000 men with six guns, headed by one of the Ameers; and the resident, Major Outram, after defending himself with only 100 men for four hours, forced his way through the host of his assailants, and reached Sir Charles Napier's camp. The Ameers now took the field with a force estimated at 22,000 men; but were attacked on the 17th at Meeanee, a town near the Indus above Hydrabad, by 2800 British and Sepoys, and completely routed after a desperate conflict, in which the personal prowess of the British general, and his officers, was called into display in a manner for which few opportunities occur in modern warfare. The effect of the victory was decisive: the Ameers surrendered themselves prisoners of war, and were shortly afterwards sent to Bombay; the British flag was hoisted at Hydrabad; and a proclamation of the Governor-general was published at Agra, March 5, declaring the annexation to our empire of "the country on both sides of the Indus from Sukkur to the sea."

The subjugation of the new province was not yet, however, complete, as another Talpoor chief, Ameer Shere Mohammed of Meerpoor, still remained in arms; and a second sanguinary engagement was fought, March 24, in the neighbourhood of Hydrabad, in which 20,000 Beloochees were again overthrown, with great slaughter, by 6000 Sepoy and English troops. The town of Meerpoor and the important fortress of Oomerkote, on the borders of the Desert, were shortly after taken; and Shere Mohammed, defeated in several partial encounters, and finding it impossible to keep the field in Scinde after the loss of his strongholds, retired with the remainder of his followers up the Bolan Pass towards Candahar; and is believed, as mentioned above, to be soliciting the aid of the Barukzye chiefs of that city. It is not impossible that he may erelong give us more trouble, as he will be assured of support from all the Affghan and Belooch tribes in his rear, who would gladly embrace the opportunity of striking a covert blow against the Feringhis; while the fidelity of the only Belooch chief who still retains his possessions in Scinde, Ali Moorad of Khyrpoor, is said to be at least doubtful. For the present, however, the British may be considered to be in undisturbed military possession of Scinde; and commerce is beginning to revive on the Indus, under the protection of the armed steamers which navigate it. But the great drawback to the value of this new acquisition is the extreme unhealthiness of the climate from the great heat, combined with the malaria generated by the vast alluvial deposits of the river; the effects of which have been so deleterious, that of 9870 men, the total force of the Bombay troops under Sir Charles Napier's command, not fewer than 2890, at the date of the January letters, were unfit for duty from sickness; and apprehensions were even entertained of a design on the part of the sirdars of Candahar, in conjunction with Shere Mohammed, to take advantage of the weakness of the garrison of Shikarpoor from disease, to plunder the town by a sudden foray. There is, indeed, a Hindostani proverb on this point, expressed in tolerably forcible language—"If Scinde had previously existed, why should Allah have created hell?" and so strong is this feeling among the sepoys, that of the Bengal and Madras regiments lately ordered to relieve those returning from Scinde, one (the Bengal 64th) absolutely refused to march, and has been sent down to Benares to await an investigation; and formidable symptoms of mutiny have appeared in several others. The Bombay troops, however, who are proud of the conquest effected by their own arms, are so far from sharing in this reluctance, that one regiment has even volunteered for the service; and a report is prevalent, that it is in contemplation to increase the strength of the Bombay army by raising twelve or fourteen new regiments—so as to enable them to hold Scinde without too much weakening the home establishment, or drawing troops from the other presidencies.

The court of Lahore has lately been the scene of a tragedy, or rather succession of tragedies, in which "kings, queens, and knaves," were disposed of in a style less resembling any thing recorded in matter-of-fact history than the last scene in the immortal drama of Tom Thumb—a resemblance increased by the revival, in several instances, of personages whose deaths had been reported in the last batch of murders. It appears that the Maharajah, Shere Singh, had at length become jealous of the unbounded influence exercised by his all-powerful minister, Rajah Dhian Singh, who had not only assumed the control of the revenue, but had more than once reproached the sovereign, when all the chiefs were present in full durbar, with his habitual drunkenness and debauchery. A quarrel ensued, and Dhian Singh retired from court to the hereditary possessions of his family among the mountains, where he could set Shere Singh at defiance; but an apparent reconciliation was effected, and in July he returned to Lahore, and made his submission. His efforts were, however, now secretly bent to the organization of a conspiracy against the life of the Maharajah, in which the Fakir Azeer-ed-deen, a personage who had enjoyed great influence under Runjeet, and many of the principal sirdars, were implicated; and on Sept. 15th Shere Singh was shot dead on the parade-ground by Ajeet Singh, a young military chief who had been fixed upon for the assassin. The murder of the king was followed by that of the Koonwur, or heir-apparent, Pertab Singh, with all the women and children in their zenanas, even to an infant born the night before; while Dhuleep Singh, a boy ten years old, and a putative son of Runjeet, was brought out of the palace and placed on the throne. But Dhian Singh was not destined to reap the fruits of his sanguinary treason. In his first interview with Ajeet after the massacre, he was stabbed by the hand of his accomplice; who was cut off in his turn the following day, with many of the sirdars of his party, by Heera Singh, the son of Dhian, who was commander-in-chief of the army, and had immediately entered the city with his troops to avenge the death of his father.[16] Heera Singh now assumed the office of vizier, leaving the title of king to the puppet Dhuleep, in whose name he has since administered the government, with the assistance of his father's elder brother Goolab Singh, a powerful hill chief, who came to Lahore in November with 20,000 of his own troops, to keep the mutinous soldiers of the regular regiments in order. Meanwhile disorder and confusion reigns throughout the Punjab, which is traversed in all directions by plundering bands of Akalees, (a sort of Sikh fanatics,) and deserters or disbanded soldiers from the army; while General Ventura and the other European officers have consulted their own safety by quitting the country; and the remainder of the vast treasures amassed by Runjeet, are lavished by Heera Singh in securing the support of the soldiery to sustain him in his perilous elevation. He is said to have sent off to the mountain strongholds of his family the famous koh-i-noor diamond, with great part of the royal treasure; and it was so generally supposed that he meditated ridding himself of the pageant king Dhuleep, in order to assume in his own person the ensigns of royalty, that the uncles of the young prince had made an attempt (which was, however, discovered and frustrated) to carry him off from Lahore, and place him under British protection. A strong party also exists in favour of Kashmeer Singh, who is said to be an illegitimate son of Runjeet; and there were prevalent rumours that dissensions had broken out between Heera Singh and his uncle; and, though every care was said to be taken to prevent intelligence from Lahore reaching the British, there can be little doubt that the country is now on the eve of another revolution. It is obvious that this state of things can end only in British intervention, whether rendered necessary for the security of our own provinces, or called in by one of the contending parties—which, in either case, must lead either to the Punjab being taken wholly into our own hands, or occupied and coerced (like the Nizam's country) by a subsidiary force, under British officers, supporting on the throne a sovereign bound by treaty to our interests. An army has been assembled on the Sutlej to watch the progress of events; but the Sikhs have hitherto cautiously abstained from giving any pretext for our interference; and, as long as their disorders are confined within their own frontier, such an act would bear the aspect of wanton aggression. But though the appropriation of the Punjab, in whatever form effected, cannot be long delayed, "the pear" (to use a Napoleonic phrase) "is not yet ripe;" and as we intend to return to the subject at no distant period, we shall dismiss it for the present; while we turn to the consideration of the recent occurrences at Gwalior—events of which the full import is little understood in England, but which involve no less consequences than the virtual subjugation of the last native state in India which retained the semblance of an independent monarchy, and which, scarce forty years since, encountered the British forces on equal terms at once in Hindostan and the Dekkan.

The fortunes of the mighty house of Sindiah were founded by Ranajee, who was a menial servant early in the last century in the household of the Peshwah, Bajee Rao; and is said to have first attracted his master's notice by the care with which he was found clasping to his breast, during his sleep, the slippers which had been left in his charge. He subsequently distinguished himself under the Peshwah in the famous campaigns of 1737-8 against the Mogul emperor, Mohammed Shah: and on the cession of Malwa to the Mahrattas in 1743, he received the government of that province as a jaghir or fief, which he transmitted at his death to his son Mahdajee. The life of this daring and politic chief would be almost identical with the history, during the same period, of Central and Upper India, in which he attained such a degree of authority as had not been held by any prince since Aurungzeeb; but we can here only briefly trace his career through the labyrinth of war and negotiation. In the disastrous defeat of Paniput, (1761,) where the united forces of the Mahratta confederacy were almost annihilated by the Affghans under Ahmed Shah Doorauni, he received a wound which rendered him lame for life; but he soon resumed his designs on Hindostan, and in 1771 became master for a time of Delhi and the person of the Mogul emperor, Shah Alim. In the war with the English which followed, he conciliated the esteem of the cabinet of Calcutta, by his generosity to the troops who submitted at the disgraceful convention of Worgaom, in January 1779: and at the peace of Salbye, in 1782, his independence was expressly recognised by the British government, with which he treated as mediator and plenipotentiary for the Peshwah and the whole Mahratta nation. He had now, by the aid of a Piedmontese soldier of fortune, named De Boigne, succeeded in organizing a disciplined force of infantry and artillery, directed principally by European officers, with which no native power was able to cope; and in 1785, after defeating Gholam-Khadir the Rohilla, once more possessed himself of Delhi and its titular sovereign, who became his pensioner and prisoner, while Sindiah exercised in his name supreme sway from the Ganges to the Gulf of Camboy, and from Candeish to the Sutlej. In 1790 he entered the Dekkan, and was with difficulty prevented by Nana Furnavees, the able minister of the youthful Peshwah, Madhoo Rao, from usurping the guardianship of that prince, which would have given him the same ascendancy in the Dekkan as he already held in Hindostan. But though thus at the summit of power and prosperity, he constantly affected the humility befitting the lowly origin of his house; and when at the court of Poonah in 1791, placed himself below the hereditary nobles of the Mahratta empire, with a bundle of slippers in his hand, saying, "This is my place, and my duty, as it was my father's." In the words of Sir John Malcolm, (Central India, i. 122,) "he was the nominal slave, but the rigid master, of the unfortunate Shah Alim; the pretended friend, but the designing rival, of the house of Holkar; the professed inferior in matters of form, the real superior and oppressor, of the Rajpoot princes of Central India; and the proclaimed soldier, but actual plunderer, of the family of the Peshwah."

Mahdajee Sindiah died at Poonah in 1794, in the fifty-second year of his age; and, leaving no issue, bequeathed his extensive dominions to his nephew and adopted son, Dowlut Rao Sindiah. The prince at his accession found himself master of an army of seventy-five disciplined battalions, mostly commanded by French officers, and forming an effective force of 45,000 men, with 300 well-equipped guns, and a vast host of irregular cavalry, armed and appointed in the native fashion; and his territories included the so-deemed impregnable fortress of Gwalior, as well as Ahmednuggur, Aurungabad, Broach, and other strong places of minor note. His influence was paramount at the court of Poonah; and while by the possession of Cuttack, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, he interrupted the communication by land between Calcutta and Madras, his frontier on the Nerbudda pressed, on the north, the then narrow limits of the Bombay presidency, which as surrounded on all other sides by the states of his Mahratta confederates. A prince holding this commanding position seemed qualified to become the arbiter of India; but Dowlut Rao, though deficient neither in military capacity nor talent for government, was only fourteen at the death of his predecessor; and his inexperience made him a tool in the hands of an unprincipled minister, Shirzee Rao Ghatka, who directed all his efforts to undermine, by force or intrigue, the ascendency of the upright and patriotic Nana Furnavees at Poonah. The young Peshwah, Madhoo Rao, had perished in 1795 by a fall from the roof of his palace; and the reign of his successor, Bajee Rao, was a constant scene of confusion and bloodshed; till, after the death of Nana in 1800, he fell completely under the control of Sindiah, who thus became the virtual head of the Mahratta confederacy. But in an attempt to crush the rising power of Jeswunt Rao Holkar, the united forces of Sirdiah and the Peshwah received a complete defeat near Poonah, in Oct. 1802;—and Bajee Rao, driven from his capital, sought shelter from the British, with whom he concluded, in December of the same year, the famous treaty of Bassein, by which he bound himself, as the price of his restoration to his dominions, to conform to the English political system, and admit a subsidiary force for the protection of his states.

These stipulations amounted, in fact, to the sacrifice of Mahratta independence; and the war, which from that moment became inevitable, broke out early in the following year. Sindiah, who had not been consulted on the treaty of Bassein, from the first refused to be bound by its conditions; and after some fruitless attempts at negotiation, took the field (July 1803) in conjunction with Rhagojee Bonsla, the Rajah of Berar, against the Peshwah and the English. The five months' campaign which followed, rivaled Napoleon's Prussian warfare of 1806, in the rapidity with which a great military power was struck down, by (in the words of Alison) "an uninterrupted series of victories, which conducted our eastern empire to the proud pre-eminence which it has ever since retained." Perron, who on the return of De Boigne in 1796 to Europe, had succeeded him in the government of Hindostan, and the command of Sindiah's regular troops in that quarter, was defeated by Lake at Allighur, (Aug. 29,) and soon after quitted India and returned to his native country; and a second decisive victory under the walls of Delhi, (Sept. 11,) opened the gates of the ancient Mogul capital to the British, and released the blind old emperor, Shah Alim, from the long thraldom in which he had been held by the French and Mahrattas. Agra, with all the arsenals and military stores, was taken Oct. 17; and the desperate conflict of Laswarree, (Nov. 1,) consummated the triumphs of Lake by the almost total annihilation of Sindiah's regulars—seventeen battalions of whom, with all their artillery, were either destroyed or taken on the field of battle. The whole of Sindiah's possessions in Hindostan thus fell into the power of the British—whose successes in the Dekkan were not less signal and rapid. On the 23d Sept., the combined army of 50,000 men, commanded in person by Sindiah and the Rajah of Berar, including 10,000 regular infantry and 30,000 horse, with upwards of 100 guns, was attacked at ASSYE by 4500 British and Sepoys under General Wellesley—and the glorious event of that marvellous action at once effectually broke the power of the confederates, and for ever established the fame of WELLINGTON.[17] A last appeal to arms at Argaom, (Nov. 28,) was attended with no better fortune to the Mahrattas; and Sindiah and his ally were compelled to sue for peace, which was concluded with the latter on the 17th, and with the former on the 30th December. By this treaty the imperial cities of Delhi and Agra, with the protectorate of the Mogul emperor, and the whole of the Dooab, or territory between the Jumna and Ganges, were ceded to the British; who also acquired Cuttack on the eastern coast, and Broach on the western, with Aurungabad, Ahmednuggur, and extensive territories in the Dekkan. Sindiah, moreover, agreed to receive a British resident at his court—an office first filled by Major, afterwards Sir John Malcolm—and engaged to conform in his foreign policy to the views of the British government; ceding, at the same time, certain districts for the maintenance of a subsidiary force, which, however, was not to be encamped on his territories.

During the contest with Holkar and the Bhurtpore rajah in the following year, Sindiah showed strong symptoms of hostility to the British, and had even put his troops in motion with the view of relieving Bhurtpore; but the speedy termination of the war saved him from committing himself by any overt act; and a new treaty was signed, Nov. 1805, in confirmation of the former, with an express stipulation that the perfidious Ghatka should be excluded from his councils. He never afterwards broke with the British government; and though he was known to have maintained a correspondence with Nepaul during the war of 1815, he observed a prudent neutrality in the great Mahratta and Pindarree war of 1817-18, which terminated in the total overthrow of all the other Mahratta princes. This catastrophe left him the only sovereign in India possessed of any degree of substantial independence, and with a territory which, after all the cessions, was still of great extent, though much scattered and intersected by the possessions of Holkar and other rulers; so that, as Bishop Heber describes it in 1825, "not even Swabia or the Palatinate can offer a more checkered picture of interlaced sovereignties than Maywar and indeed all Malwa.... Scarcely any two villages belong to the sane sovereign." His frontier extended on the north to the Chumbul, and on the south reached Boorhanpoor and the Taptee, almost enveloping the remaining dominions of Holkar, and bordering westward on the Guikwar's country near Baroda.

The whole superficies comprehended, in a very irregular shape, about 40,000 square miles, with a revenue supposed to exceed L2,000,000; and the army kept on foot (independent of garrisons and the British contingent) amounted to 20,000 regular infantry, with from 15,000 to 20,000 horse, and a park of 300 guns. The maintenance of this large military establishment was a grievous burden to the country, and frequently involved him in great pecuniary embarrassment; but to the end of his life it continued to be his chief care. Gwalior, where the headquarters had been fixed since 1810, became the royal residence; and the bushkur, or camp, as it was called, gradually swelled into a great city. The condition of his states in the latter years of his reign, is thus characterized by the amiable prelate already quoted:—"Sindiah is himself a man by no means deficient in talents or good intentions, but his extensive and scattered territories have never been under any regular system of control; and his Mahratta nobles, though they too are described as a better race than the Rajpoots, are robbers almost by profession, and only suppose themselves to thrive when they are living at the expense of their neighbours. Still, from his well-disciplined army and numerous artillery, his government has a stability which secures peace, at least to the districts under his own eye; and as the Pindarrees feared to provoke him, and even professed to be his subjects, his country has retained its wealth and prosperity to a greater degree than most other parts of Central India."

Dowlut Rao died at Gwalior, March 21, 1827, leaving no male issue; and with him expired the direct line of Ranajee Sindiah: but he had previously empowered his widow, the Baiza Baee, (a daughter of the notorious Ghatka,) in conformity with a practice sanctioned by the Hindoo law, to adopt a son and successor for him, after his decease, from the other branches of the Sindiah family. Her choice fell on a youth eleven years of age, named Mookt Rao, then in a humble rank of life, who was eighth in descent from the grandfather of Ranajee; and he was accordingly installed, June 18, by the title of Jankojee Sindiah, in the presence of the British Resident and the chiefs of the army, espousing at the same time a granddaughter of his predecessor. The regency was left, in pursuance of the last injunctions of Dowlut Rao, in the hands of the Baiza Baee, whose administration was marked by much prudence and ability; but the young Maharajah speedily became so impatient of the state of tutelage in which he found himself retained, that Lord William Bentinck, then governor-general, found it expedient to visit Gwalior as a mediator, in December 1832, in order to reconcile him to the control of his benefactress, in whom the government for life was considered to have been vested by the will of her late husband.[18] The remonstrances of the governor-general produced, however, but little effect. On the 10th of July 1833, a revolt, fomented by the young prince, broke out among the soldiery, whose pay had imprudently been suffered to fall into arrear; and the Baiza Baee, after a fruitless attempt at resistance, was compelled to quit the Gwalior territory. The British authorities, though they had previously shown themselves favourable to her cause, declined any direct interference on her behalf; and after remaining for some time on the frontier with a body of troops which had continued faithful to her, in the hope of recovering her power by a counter-revolution, she eventually fixed her residence at Benares, leaving her ungrateful protege in undisturbed possession of the government. This was administered in the manner which might have been expected from a youth suddenly raised from poverty to a throne, and destitute even of the modicum of education usually bestowed on Hindoos of rank. The revenues of the state were wasted by the Maharajah in low debauchery, while the administration was left almost wholly in the hands of his maternal uncle, who bore the title of Mama-Sahib; but his influence was far from adequate to repress the feuds of the refractory nobles, and the mutinies of the turbulent and ill-paid troops, who frequently made the capital a scene of violence and bloodshed. The relations with the cabinet of Calcutta continued, however, friendly; and Lord Auckland, when on his return on his famous tour to the Upper Provinces, paid a visit to Gwalior in January 1840, and was received with great pomp by the Maharajah. But the frame of Jankojee Sindiah was prematurely undermined by his excesses; and he died childless, February 7, 1843, not having completed his twenty-seventh year.

The ceremony of adopting a posthumous heir, which had taken place at the death of Dowlut Rao, was now repeated; and a boy nine years old, the nearest kinsman of the deceased sovereign, was placed on the musnud, under the name of Jeeahjee Rao Sindiah, by the Maha-rane Baee, or queen-dowager; who, though herself only twelve years of age, assumed the regency in conjunction with the Mama-Sahib. But little permanence could be expected in a state so constituted from the government of a child, and a man without adherents or influence, though they were recognized as regents by the British authorities:—and the catastrophe was hastened by an imprudent investigation, which the Mama-Sahib instituted, into the peculations of the Daola-Khasjee, the minister of the late Maharajah. The deficit is said to have amounted to not less than three crores of rupees, (L3,000,000,) which had probably been employed in corrupting the troops; and on the night of July 16, a general mutiny broke out. The Resident, finding all interference unavailing, quitted Gwalior with the Mama-Sahib, and repaired to Dholpoor near the frontier:—while the whole sovereign power was usurped by the Khasjee, who had succeeded in bringing over the young Baee to his interests, and who even sent troops and artillery to the banks of the Chumbul, to dispute, if necessary, the passage of the English. The cabinet of Calcutta now, however, considered, that the attitude of hostility which had been assumed, as well as the expulsion of a minister who was in some measure under British guarantee, justified a departure from the principle of non-intervention which had hitherto been invariably acted upon with regard to the internal affairs of the state of Gwalior. A considerable force, under the title of an army of exercise, was assembled at Agra, where the commander-in-chief, Sir Hugh Gough, arrived Oct. 21, and was joined, Dec. 11, by the governor-general himself, who appears to have regarded the settlement of the once-mighty realm of Sindiah as a "dignus vindice divo nodus" requiring his immediate presence. The Gwalior durbar, meanwhile, presented a scene of mingled tumult and panic—some of the officers having formed a party hostile to the usurping Khasjee, while the mutinous soldiery loudly clamored against submission; and letters were dispatched to the Rajpoot and Boondela chiefs, soliciting their aid to repel the threatened invasion of the Feringhis. At a council held Dec. 7, the most warlike sentiments prevailed; and some of the military leaders proposed that the British should be suffered to pass the Chumbul and besiege Gwalior, while the Mahrattas, getting round their rear, were to pour down on Agra and Delhi, and raise the Hindoo population! But the news of the governor-general's arrival struck them with consternation, and vakeels were sent to Agra, to learn on what terms a pacification might yet be effected. The envoys had an audience of the governor-general on the 13th; but the march of the troops had commenced the day before, and was not countermanded even on the surrender of the Khasjee, who was brought in chains to Dholpoor on the 17th—the military chiefs opposed to him having persuaded or compelled the Baee to give him up—and he was immediately sent off as a state-prisoner to Agra.

The army meanwhile, had entered the Gwalior territory, and a proclamation was issued, declaring that it appeared "not as an enemy, but as a friend to the Maharajah, bound by treaty to protect his highness's person, and to maintain his sovereign authority against all who are disobedient and disturbers of the peace." The insurgent chiefs, who appear to have confidently expected that the British would withdraw as soon as the Khasjee was given up, now made fresh attempts at negotiation; and matters were apparently so far arranged, that preparations were made for the reception of the Baee, in camp, on the 28th. But it was soon evident that these overtures had been made only for the sake of gaining time; and after a halt of five days, which had been actively employed by the Mahrattas, the troops resumed their advance upon Gwalior, accompanied by the governor-general in person. On the 29th of December, the two divisions under the commander-in-chief and General Grey, moving on separate lines of march, found the enemy drawn up in well-chosen positions at Maharajpoor and Punniar, and prepared to resist their progress. The British and Sepoy effective strength was about 14,000 men, with forty guns, and a small body of cavalry: the Mahratta infantry was nearly equal in number; but they had 3000 horse, and all the advantages of a strong position, on heights protected in front by difficult ravines, and defended by a hundred pieces of excellently served artillery. The conflict appears to have been the severest which had been seen in India since Laswarree and Assye. The Mahrattas, (as described in the official accounts of Sir Hugh Gough, who admits that he "had not done justice to the gallantry of his opponents,") after their intrenchments and batteries had been carried by the bayonet, with severe loss to the assailants, "received the shock without flinching; and fought, sword in hand, with the most determined courage." But they were at last driven from their ground, with great carnage, by the superior prowess of the Anglo-Indian troops, whose double victory was dearly purchased by the loss of more than 1000 killed and wounded, including an unusual proportion of officers. All resistance was now at an end: Gwalior, the Gibraltar of the East, was entered without opposition; and a treaty was concluded, Jan. 10, ratified by the governor-general and the restored regent, "for securing the future tranquillity of the common frontier of the two states, establishing the just authority of the Maharajah's government, and providing for the proper exercise of that authority during his highness's minority." The defeated army was to be in great part disbanded, and an additional contingent force levied, of seven regiments of infantry and two of cavalry, with twenty guns—a proportionate extent of territory, we presume, being ceded for its maintenance, as usual in such cases: exchanges were further made of certain frontier districts, for the mutual convenience of the two contracting powers; and last, not least, the expenses of the campaign were to be disbursed forthwith from the Gwalior treasury. Every thing being thus settled satisfactorily, at least to one party, the troops were to retire, without loss of time, within the British frontier, leaving the internal administration in the hands of the Mama-Sahib and the Baee; and the governor-general was to set out from Gwalior on the 17th of January, on his return to Calcutta. Thus the expedition, both in a diplomatic and military point of view, was crowned with complete success. We must now proceed to examine it in its political bearings.

The proclamation of British supremacy over India by the Marquis of Hastings, after the conclusion, in 1818, of the war with the Mahrattas and Pindarrees, amounted to an assumption on the part of the Company of the same position relative to the native powers, as had been held by the monarchs of the house of Timoor—who, from the conquest of Delhi by Baber, adopted the title of Padishah or emperor, as lords-paramount of India, and lost no opportunity of enforcing the imperial rights, thus asserted, against the other Hindoo and Moslem princes among whom the country was divided; till after a century and a half of incessant aggressive warfare, Aurungzeeb succeeded in uniting under his rule the whole of Hindostan and the Dekkan, from the Himalaya to Cape Comorin. Less than half that period sufficed for the establishment of the Anglo-Indian empire on a far firmer basis than that of the Moguls had ever attained; and if the same claim of indefeasible suzerainte, which was set forward by their Moslem predecessors, had been openly advanced and avowed as a principle, as it has long been acted upon de facto, it would have been at once far more candid, and far more intelligible to the natives, than the course which has been pursued, of grounding every aggression on some pretended infraction of a compulsory treaty. The recent case of Gwalior affords a strong illustration of the point which we are endeavouring to establish, as the relations of that state with the supreme government have hitherto been different from those of the Indian sovereignties in general.[19] While the other native princes (with the exception only of the Rajpoot chiefs of Bikaneer, Jesulmeer, &c., who lay beyond what might till lately be considered the British boundary) had surrendered the military possession of their territories, almost entirely, to subsidiary corps under the control of the Company, the dynasty of Sindiah alone (though British influence had been more sensibly exercised under the feeble rule of Jankojee than during the life of Dowlut Rao) still preserved its domestic independence almost untouched, and kept on foot a powerful army, besides the contingent[20] which it was bound by treaty to maintain—the only other mark of dependence being the obligation not to contract alliances hostile to British interests. If we are to regard the late transactions in this point of view, it will be difficult to justify the invasion of an independent and friendly state on no other ground than our disapprobation of a change of ministry, accompanied, though it may have been, with the tumult and violence which are the usual concomitants of an Asiatic revolution. But if the Company (as we conceive to be the practical aspect of the question) are held to be at the present day the recognized, as well as the de facto, representatives of the Mogul monarchs, there can be no doubt that, on the death of Jankojee Sindiah, his dominions might fairly have been annexed to the Anglo-Indian empire as a lapsed fief which had reverted to the suzerain by the failure of heirs—a rule which would have been equally applicable to the case of the rival Mahratta house of Holkar, the male line of which also became extinct last year, and was replaced on the musnud of Indore by a boy seven years old, a adopted son of Hurry Rao Holkar. From the death of Dowlut Rao Sindiah, indeed, the Gwalior state had presented a scene of anarchy and misgovernment, to which allusion is made in the proclamation of the governor-general;[21] and which, from the impunity it afforded to the remnant of the Pindarrees and other marauders, and the consequent insecurity of life and property both in the interior and on the frontier, was intolerable alike to its neighbours and to its own subjects. Under these circumstances, the acquiescence of the cabinet of Calcutta in a second adoption of a child, to fill the throne of a kingdom already brought to the verge of ruin by the vices and incapacity of the former occupant, can be regarded in no other light than as an injudicious stretch of forbearance, injurious to our own interests, and uncalled for by those of the state thus subjected to a continuance of misrule; and it is to be regretted, that our late victories have not been followed up by the formal occupation of the country, and the establishment of the order and strong government to which it has long been a stranger. No other result can be anticipated from the half measures which have been adopted, than the creation of a state of confusion and resistance to authority, similar to that which prevails in the distracted kingdom of Oude—ending inevitably, though perhaps at the expense of a fresh contest, in its incorporation with the dominions of the Company. Meanwhile, (as observed in the Times of March 8th,) "we have roused the passions of the Mahrattas against their sovereign and against ourselves; but we have not taken that opportunity which the moment of victory gave us, of effectuating a government essentially strong and beneficial to the governed. The time therefore, we may expect, will come, when a second interference will be demanded, both by the recollection of our present conquest and the incompleteness of its consequences; and we shall be doomed to find, that we have won two hard-fought battles merely to enforce the necessity of a third."

The late campaign, short as it has fortunately been, becomes important, if viewed with reference to a subject to which we have more than once before alluded,[22] but which cannot be too often or too prominently brought before the British public, who should never be suffered to lose sight of the great truth, that it is by our military power alone that we hold our Indian empire. It is evident from all the circumstances, not less than from the candid confession of Sir Hugh Gough himself, that the determined resistance opposed by the Gwalior troops, (whom of late years it has been the fashion in the Indian army to speak of as "Sindiah's rabble,") and the discipline and valour shown in the defence of their positions, were wholly unexpected by their assailants. But the prowess and unflinching resolution displayed at Maharajpoor and Punniar, under all the disadvantages of a desperate cause and inefficient commanders, were worthy of the troops of De Boigne and Perron in their best days, and amply prove that the Mahrattas of the present day have not degenerated from their fathers, whose conduct at Assye won the praise of the great Duke himself.[23] The defeat of British force in a pitched battle on the soil of India, would be a calamity of which no man could calculate the consequences; yet such a result would not have been impossible, if the contempt of our commanders for the enemy had brought them to the encounter with inadequate numbers; and the rulers of India have reason to congratulate themselves that this underrated force remained quiescent during our Affghan disasters, when intrigue and difficulties were at their height among both Hindoos and Moslems, and every disposable regiment was engaged beyond the Indus, in a warfare, of the speedy termination of which there then appeared little prospect; while the Moslems, both of the north and south, in Rohilcund and the Dekkan, were on the verge of insurrection, the Rajah of Sattarah, the representative of the former head of that great Mahratta confederacy, of which Sindiah was then the only member retaining any degree of independence, was busied in conspiracies, the absurdity of the proposed means for which was not[24] (as some of his advocates in England attempted to maintain) a proof of their non-existence. Had the old Mahratta spirit been then alive in the breast of the degenerate successor of Dowlut Rao, the appearance in the field of 20,000 troops with a considerable share of discipline, and a numerous and excellent artillery, might at once have given the signal, and formed a nucleus, for a rising which would have comprehended almost every man who could bear arms, and would have shaken to the centre, if not overthrown utterly, the mighty fabric of our Eastern empire. It is true that the indolent and sensual character of Jankojee Sindiah gave no grounds for apprehension at the time; and the period of danger has now passed away; nor is it probable that the Gwalior army, even if left at its present strength, can ever again be in a situation to give trouble to our government. But it is not less true, that when our difficulties were greatest, a disciplined force did exist, in a position the most central in India, which might have turned the quivering beam, if it had been thrown into the scale against us in the moment of extreme peril.[25]

It is, therefore, with far different feelings from those expressed by some of the newspaper scribes, both in India and England, that we heard the declaration ascribed to the present governor-general, on his arrival in India, "that the army should be his first care;"[26] and have witnessed the spirit in which it has since been acted upon. "India," again to quote his own words on a late public occasion, "was won by the sword;" yet the military spirit of the army, on which the preservation of our empire depends, had been damped, and its efficiency wofully impaired, by the injudicious reductions introduced by Lord William Bentinck and persevered in by his successor; and the reverses and losses of the Affghan war, following close in the train of these ill-advised measures, had produced a disaffection for the service, and deterioration in the morale of the sepoys, from which evil auguries were drawn by those best acquainted with the peculiar temperament of the native soldiery.[27] The efforts of Lord Ellenborough have been from the first directed to remove this unfavourable impression of neglect from the minds of the troops; and the heroism displayed by the sepoys under his own eye, in the late desperate encounters before Gwalior, must have brought home to his mind the gratifying conviction that his efforts had not been in vain. We noticed with satisfaction last year, the well-deserved honours and rewards distributed to the corps, by whose exploits the transient cloud thrown over our arms in Affghanistan had been cleared away; and the same course has been worthily followed up in the decorations cast from the captured Mahratta cannon, and conferred, without distinction of officers or men, British or Sepoys, on the victors of Maharajpoor and Punniar; as well as in the triumphal monuments to be erected by Bombay for the victories in Scinde, and at Calcutta for those before Gwalior. But while we render full justice to the valour, patience, and fidelity of the sepoy infantry, now deservedly rewarded by participation in those honours from which they have been too long excluded, the truth remains unchanged of that of which Lake, and many others since Lake of those who best knew India, have in vain striven to impress the conviction on the authorities at home—the paramount importance of a large intermixture of British troops. "I am convinced that, without King's troops, very little is to be expected ... there ought always to be at least one European battalion to four native ones: this I think necessary." And again, in his despatch to the Marquis Wellesley, the day after the arduous conflict at Laswarree—"The action of yesterday has convinced me how impossible it is to do any thing without British troops; and of them there ought to be a very great proportion." It is true that the regulation lately promulgated by the Duke of Wellington, that the heavy cavalry regiments shall in future take their turn of Indian service, will in some measure remedy the evil in that branch where it is most felt; and will at once increase their military strength in India, and diminish the length of absence of the different corps from Europe. The misconduct of the native regular cavalry, indeed, on more than one occasion during the late Affghan war, has shown that they are not much to be depended upon when resolutely encountered. They are ill at ease in the European saddles, and have no confidence in the regulation swords when opposed to the trenchant edge of the native tulwars; while, on the other hand, the laurels earned by Skinner's, Hearsay's, and other well-known corps of irregular horse, might almost have induced the military authorities in India to follow the example of the Mahrattas, who never attempted to extend to their cavalry the European discipline which they bestowed on their infantry. The sepoy infantry has ever been sans peur et sans reproche; yet, though some of the most distinguished regiments of the Bengal army were in the field before Gwalior, the honour of storming the death-dealing batteries of Maharajpoor, was reserved for the same gallant corps which led the way to victory under Clive at Plassey—her Majesty's 39th—and which has now once more proved its title to the proud motto emblazoned on its standards, Primus in Indis! The words of Lord Lake, (to refer to him once more,) in his account of the battle of Delhi, might have been adopted without variation by Lord Ellenborough in describing the late actions. "The sepoys have behaved excessively well; but from my observations on this day, as well as every other, it is impossible to do great things in a gallant and quick style without Europeans;" and we trust that, whenever the time shall arrive for the return of the present governor-general to Europe, he will not fail to avail himself of the weight which his personal experience will give him in the councils of the nation, to enforce the adoption of a measure which, sooner or later, will inevitably become one of absolute necessity.

No former governor-general of India entered on his office—at all times the most arduous under the British crown—under such unfavourable auspices, and with such a complicated accumulation of difficulties to combat, as Lord Ellenborough; few, if any, of his predecessors have had their actions, their motives, and even their words, exposed to such an unsparing measure of malicious animadversion and wilful misconstruction; yet none have passed so triumphantly through the ordeal of experience. Many of his measures may now be judged of by their fruits; and those of the Calcutta press who were loudest in their cavils, compelled to admit the success which has attended them, are reduced to aim their censures at the alleged magniloquence of the governor-general's proclamations; which, it should always be remembered in England, are addressed to a population accustomed to consider the bombast of a Persian secretary as the ne plus ultra of human composition, and which are not, therefore, to be judged by the European standard of taste. Much of the hostility directed against Lord Ellenborough, is, moreover, owing to his resolute emancipation of himself from the bureaucracy of secretaries and members of council, who had been accustomed to exercise control as "viceroys over" his predecessors, and who were dismayed at encountering a man whose previously acquired knowledge of the country which he came to govern, enabled him to dispense with the assistance and dictation of this red-tape camarilla. Loud were the complaints of these gentry at what they called the despotism of the new governor-general, on finding themselves excluded from that participation in state secrets in which they had long reveled, in a country where so much advantage may be derived from knowing beforehand what is coming at headquarters. But much of the success of Lord Ellenborough's government may be attributed to the secrecy with which his measures were thus conceived, and the promptitude with which his personal activity and decision enabled him to carry them into effect—success of which the merit is thus due to himself alone, and to the liberty of action which he obtained by shaking off at once the etiquettes which had hitherto trammeled the Indian government. In July 1842 we ventured to pronounce, that "on the course of Lord Ellenborough's government will mainly depend the question of the future stability, or gradual decline, of our Anglo-Indian empire; and if, at the conclusion of his viceroyalty, he has only so far succeeded as to restore our foreign and domestic relations to the same state in which they stood ten years since, he will merit to be handed down to posterity by the side of Clive and Hastings." The task has been nobly undertaken and gallantly carried through; and though time alone can show how far the present improved aspect of Indian affairs may be destined to permanency, Lord Ellenborough is at least justly entitled to the merit of having wrought the change, as far as it rests with one man to do so, by the firm and fearless energy with which he addressed himself to the enterprise.

FOOTNOTES:

[15] It is to be regretted that the British government has never requested the Porte to dispatch a mission to ascertain the fate of these unfortunate officers. The Turkish Sultan is reversed at Bokhara as the legitimate Commander of the Faithful, and his rescript would be treated as a sacred mandate.

[16] Portraits of most of the actors in this bloody drama will be found in Osborne's Court and Camp of Runjeet Singh.

[17] A note of Grant Duff, (History of the Mahrattas, iii. 239,) relative to this period in the life of the British hero, is worth quoting—"I have had occasion to observe how well the Duke of Wellington must have known the Mahrattas, from having read his private letters to Sir Barry Close (then Resident at Poonah) during the war of 1803. Without being acquainted with their language, and, one would have supposed, with little opportunity of knowing the people or their history, his correct views of the Mahratta character and policy are very remarkable. As the letters in question were shown to me confidentially in 1817, in the course of my official duties, I may be only authorized to state that, in some instances, his opinion of individuals, particularly of Bajee Rao, was correctly prophetic." These letters are now before the public, in the first and third volumes of Gurwood's Despatches.

[18] See Asiatic Journal, May 1834. P. 7, Part II.

[19] See Montgomery Martin's British Colonies, i. p. 49, &c.

[20] The Gwalior contingent was called into the field on the occasion of the late disturbances in Bundelkund, and did good service.

[21] "The want of cordial co-operation on the part of the officers of the Gwalior state, in the maintenance of order on the frontier, had long been a subject of just remonstrance, and various orders had been issued by the late Maharajah, in accordance with the representations of the British resident. These orders had but too often remained without due execution; but in consideration of the long illness of his highness, and the consequent weakness of his administration, the British government had not pressed for satisfaction with all the rigour which the importance of the subject would have warranted."

[22] See Maga, Aug. 1841, p. 174; July 1842, p. 110, &c.; and Feb. 1843, p. 75.

[23] "Our action on the 23d Sept. was the most severe battle that I have ever seen, or that I believe has been fought, in India. The enemy's cannonade was terrible, but the result shows what a small number of British troops will do."—The Duke of Wellington to Colonel Murray, Gurwood's Despatches, i. 444. "It was not possible for any man to lead a body into a hotter fire than he did the picquets that day at Assye."—Letter to Colonel Munro, ib. 403.

[24] See our Number for July 1842, p. 108.

[25] The strength of the Mahratta army, at the time of Lord Auckland's visit, was estimated at 35,000 men of all arms, including 15,000 irregular cavalry and 250 guns, besides the Ekhas, or body-guard of 500 nobles, privileged to sit in the sovereign's presence, who were subsequently disbanded by Jankojee for disaffection. The infantry was divided into four brigades, and consisted of thirty-four regular regiments of 600 men each, and five regiments of irregular foot, or nujeebs. A few of Dowlut Rao's French officers still survived; the remainder were their sons and grandsons, and adventurers from all parts of the earth. Not fewer than 25,000 troops, with nearly all the artillery, were generally at headquarters in the bushkur, or camp, of Gwalior.—See Asiatic Journal, May 1840.

[26] "We see much more of Toryism than of truth in this opinion," observes the Eastern Star, as quoted in the Asiatic Journal for December; "and we believe the man who entertains it, the last who should ever be entrusted with power in this empire. It is as dangerous a delusion as it would be to imagine we could do without an army at all."—Pro-di-gi-ous!

[27] See an extract from the Madras United Service Gazette, in our Number for Feb. 1843, p. 275, note.



THE FREETHINKER.

"With us ther was a DOCTOUR OF PHISIKE In all this world ne was ther non him like To speke of phisike and of surgerie: * * * * * He knew the cause of every maladie, Were it of cold, or hote, or moist, or drie, And wher engendered, and of what humour, He was a veray parfite practioner— * * * * * His studie was but litel on the Bible."

CHAUCER.

It was in the year 18— that I completed my professional education in England, and decided upon spending in Paris the two years which had still to elapse, before my engagement with my guardians would require me to present myself for examination and approval at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. The medical schools and hospitals of Paris were then, as now, famous for their men of science, and for the useful discoveries which clinical instruction—bedside ingenuity and industry—is morally certain to carry along with it. Whatever may be said of the French practitioners as a body—and my professional brethren, I know, bring against them, as a national reproach, the charge of inefficiency in the treatment of disease, (remarkable for acuteness and truth as their diagnosis is allowed to be)—still I think it will not be denied, that chiefly to the Parisian physicians, and to the untiring energy of particular individuals amongst them, whom it would not be difficult to name, are we indebted at this moment for some of the most important knowledge that we possess—knowledge, be it understood, derived altogether from investigations diligently pursued at the patient's bedside, and obtained with the greatest judgment, difficulty, and pains. As I write, the honourable and European reputation of Louis occurs to my mind—an instance of universal acknowledgment rendered to genius and talents wholly or principally devoted to the alleviation of human suffering, and to the acquisition of wisdom in the form and by the method to which I have adverted.

A mere attempt to refer to the many and various obligations which the continental professors of medicine have laid upon mankind during the last half century, would fill a book. They were well known and spoken of in my youth, and the names of many learned foreigners were at that period associated in my bosom with sentiments of awe and veneration. It was some time after I had once resolved to go abroad, before I fixed upon Paris as my destination. Langanbeck, the greatest operator of his day, the Liston of Germany, was performing miracles in Hanover. Tiedemann, a less nimble operator, but a far more learned surgeon, had already made the medical schools of Heidelberg famous by his lectures and still valued publications; whilst the lamented and deeply penetrating Stromeyer—the tutor and friend of our own amiable and early-lost Edward Turner—had established himself already in Goettingen, and drawn around him a band of enthusiastic students who have since done honour to their teacher, and in their turn become eminent amongst the first chemists of the day. With such and similar temptations from many quarters, it was not easy to arrive at a steady determination. I had hardly thought of Paris, when—as it often happens—a thing of a moment relieved me from difficulty and doubt, and helped me at once to a decision. A letter one morning by the post induced me to set out for the giddiest and yet most fascinating of European cities. James M'Linnie—who, by the way, died only the other day of dysentery at Hong-Kong, a few hours after landing with the troops upon that luckless island—was an old hospital acquaintance, and, like me, cutting and hewing his way to fame and fortune. He had distinguished himself at Guy's, and quitted that school with every reasonable prospect of success in his profession. He had not only passed muster before the high and mighty court of examiners, but had received on the occasion the personal warm congratulations of Abernethy and Sir Astley Cooper; the former of whom, indeed, before he asked M'Linnie a question, gave him confidence in his peculiar way, by requesting him "not to be a frightened fool, for Mr. Abernethy was not the brute the world was pleased to make him out;" and after a stiff and rough examination shook the student heartily by the hand, and pronounced him "not an ass, like all the world, but a sensible shrewd fellow, who, instead of muddling his head with books, had passed his days, very properly, where real life was only to be met with"—videlicet, in the dead-house.

James M'Linnie was, at the time of which I speak, himself in Paris, and enthusiastic in his devotion to the indefatigable and highly-gifted teachers amongst whom he lived. He wrote to me, in the letter to which I have above adverted—the first I received from him after his departure from England—in the most glowing terms respecting them; and conjured me by the love I bore our glorious profession—by my ardent aspirations after fame, and by the strong desire which, he believed, I entertained with himself and the majority of men, to serve and benefit my fellow-creatures—not to waste my precious hours in England, but to join him instantly "in the finest field of operations that the world presented." "We are pigmies in London," he continued in his own ardent fashion—"boys, children, infants—they are giants here. Such anatomists! such physicians! Fancy one of our first men, C—— for instance, standing for nearly one hour at the bedside of a labouring man, and tracing the fellow's history step by step, patiently and searchingly, in order to arrive at the small beginnings of disease, its earliest indications, and first causes. I saw it done yesterday by one to whom C—— could not hold a candle—a man whose reputation is continental—whose practice does not leave him a moment in the day for personal recreation—who is loaded with honours and distinctions. The students listen to him as to an oracle; and with cause. He leaps to no conclusions—his sterling mind satisfies itself with nothing but truth, and is content to labour after mere glimpses and intimations, which it secures for future comparison and study. Remind me when you come out—for come out you must—of the story of the baker. I will tell it you then in full. It is a capital instance of the professor's acuteness and ability. A patient came into the hospital a month ago; his case puzzled every one; nothing could be done for him, and he was about to be discharged. The professor saw him, visited him regularly for a week—watched him—noted every trifling symptom—prescribed for him;—in vain. The man did not rally—and the professor could not say what ailed him. One morning the latter came to the patient's bedside, and said, 'You tell me, mon enfant, that you have been a porter. Were you never in any other occupation?' 'Yes,' groaned the poor fellow; 'I drove a cabriolet for a year or two'—— 'Go on,' said the professor encouragingly. 'And then,' continued the man, 'and then I was at a boot-maker's; afterwards at a saddler's—and at last a porter.' 'You have never worked at any other trade?' 'Never, sir.' 'Think again—be quite sure.' 'No—never, sir.' Have you never been a baker?' 'Oh yes, sir—that was twenty years ago—and only for a few months; but I was so ill at the oven that I was obliged to give it up.' 'That will do, mon enfant—don't tire yourself, try and go to sleep.' In the lecture-room afterwards, the professor addressed the students thus: 'Gentlemen—once in the course of my practice, I have met with the case of the porter, and only once. It is now eighteen years since. The patient was a baker—and I examined the subject after death. This man will die.' The lecturer then proceeded to describe minutely and lucidly the seat of the disease, its nature, and best treatment. He told them what might be done by way of alleviation, and directed them to look for such and such appearances after death. The man lingered for a few days, and then departed. At the post mortem, the professor was found to be correct in every particular. What say you to this by way of memory and quick intelligence?" The letter went on to speak of the facility of procuring subjects—as cheap and plentiful, to use M'Linnie's phrase, "as herrings in England;" of the daily exhibition in the dissecting room of disease of all kinds, in all stages; of the enthusiastic natures of both teachers and pupils; of the earnest and inspiring character of hospital practice; and at last, wound up its flattering history with a peroration, that extinguished in an instant every spark of hesitation that lingered in my mind. In less than a fortnight after M'Linnie's summons, I was one of a mixed party in a diligence and eight, galloping over the high-road to Paris, at the rate of five statute miles an hour.

I had taken care to carry abroad with me an introduction to one influential member of the profession. I say one, because I refused, with deliberation, to encumber myself, as Doctor Johnson has it, with more help than was actually necessary to my well-doing. A travelling student, with a key to the confidence of one man of power and kindred spirit, has all that he can desire for every professional purpose. If his happiness depend upon social enjoyments, and he must needs journey with a messenger's bag, or be utterly miserable, let him by all means save his travelling expenses, and visit his natural acquaintances. My letter of credit was obtained from my friend H——, who at the time filled the anatomical chair at Guy's, and to whom I am grateful for more acts of real kindness than he is willing to allow. To this letter of credit, and to the acquaintance formed by its means, the reader is indebted for the curious history I am about to relate. That the former was likely to lead to something original and unusual, I certainly suspected when H—— placed the document in my hands, with his last words of caution and advice. I could hardly dream of half that was to follow.

"Pray, take care of yourself, Mr Walpole," said my good friend; "you are going to a very dangerous and seductive city, and you will require all your firmness and good principles to save you from the force of evil example. Don't be led away—don't be led away—that is all I beg of you."

"I shall be careful, sir."

"You will see in the medical students of Paris a different set of men to that which you have been accustomed to mix with here. There are some fine fellows amongst them—hard-working, bold, enterprising young men; but they are a strange body taken as a while. Don't cotton too quickly with any one of them."

"Very well, sir."

"I am afraid you will find many highly improper notions prevalent amongst them—immoral, shocking, disgraceful. Pray, don't assume the manners of a Frenchman, Mr Walpole—much less his vices. There are very few medical students in Paris who do not lead, I am sorry to say, a very disreputable life; and make it a boast to live in open shame. You must not learn to approve of conduct in Paris which you would have no hesitation in pronouncing criminal in London."[28]

"Certainly not, sir."

"And let me, as a friend, entreat you, my dear sir, at no time to forget that you are a Christian and a Protestant gentleman. Be sober and rational, and, if there be any truth in religion at all, do not make a mockery of it, by converting the Lord's day into a monstrous Saturnalia. Here is your letter."

I took the document, bowed, and read the superscription. It was addressed to Baron F——, chief surgeon at the Hotel Dieu, &c. &c. &c.

"I introduce you, Mr Walpole," continued the anatomist, "to one of the most extraordinary men in Europe—and, what is more to the purpose, to one of the best. Warmer benevolence, a more eager anxiety to relieve and benefit his fellow-mortals, never burned in the heart of man. He is, unquestionably, incontestably the first surgeon of the day; as a man of science he is appealed to by the whole learned world—his practice is enormous, and the fortune he has amassed by his unwearied industry and perseverance immense; especially considered in reference to the career of the most successful surgeons in Paris, who, if I mistake not, have lived and died comparatively poor. Looked up to, however, as he is by the learned and the great, you will, I think, when you know him, agree with me in regarding his kindness to the helpless—his earnest solicitude for the disabled poor who come under his care—his unremitting attention to their complaints and wants—as constituting the worthy baron's chief excellance. We are old friends; and for my sake I am sure he will receive you well, and afford you all the assistance and information in his power. He will put you on your mettle; and you must be no lie-a-bed if you would profit by his instruction. At six in the morning you will find him daily at his post in the hospital; and, whilst sluggards are turning in their beds, he has prescribed for a hundred sick, and put them in spirits for the day by his words of tenderness and support."

"Did you study under the baron?" I enquired.

"I attended his lectures some years ago with the greatest advantage. I never in my life was more struck by the amount of knowledge possessed by one man. I attached myself to the professor, and he was pleased to admit me to his friendship. I have lately been surprised to hear his manners pronounced rough and even brutal, and his temper morose. For my own part—and I watched him closely—I saw nothing but gentleness, and an active disposition to do good at all times. The poor women and children in the hospital loved him as a father, and I have seen their pale cheeks flush, and dull eyes glisten as he approached their beds. This, I thought, bespoke any thing but roughness and brutality in the surgeon. What say you?"

"It would seem so."

"Well—I have written the baron a long letter concerning myself and my own pursuits, believing that it will serve your interests better than a mere formal letter of introduction. He will, I am sure, be pleased to see you. Remember, Mr Walpole, an opportunity like the present may never occur to you again. Be wise, and make the most of it."

Thus spoke my friend, and thus I received from him my credentials. My only object in Paris was the ostensible one for which I came; and accordingly, therefore, having secured a comfortable home with Madame Bichat, a worthy motherly person residing in the "Rue Richelieu, vis-a-vis le Palais Royal"—and having spent one long and gossiping evening with my ancient chum M'Linnie—I buckled at once to my work. Postponing all recreation and amusement until the time should arrive which would make them lawful and give them zest, I left my lodgings the second morning after my appearance in Paris, and made my way straight to the dwelling-house of my future patron. It was eleven o'clock, the hour at which the baron usually returned from the Hotel Dieu; five hours, viz. from six till eleven A.M., being, as M'Linnie assured me, the time allotted daily to the poor by the conscientious and distinguished practitioner.

The baron was a bachelor, and he lived in first-rate style; that is to say, he had magnificent apartments, in which it was his delight to collect occasionally the united wit and learning of the capital, and a handsome table for his friends at all times; for his hospitality was unbounded. And yet his own daily habits were as simple and primitive as might be. When at home, he passed his hours in the library, and slept in the small bedroom adjoining it. The latter, like all dormitories in France, was without a carpet, and altogether no better furnished than a private ward in an English hospital. There was a small iron bedstead just large enough for a middle-sized bachelor in one corner—a washing apparatus in another—and a table and two chairs at some distance from both. The naked and even uncomfortable aspect of this apartment had an absolutely chilling effect upon me, as I passed through it on my way to the great man himself; for, strange to say, the only road to the library was through this melancholy chamber. Great men as well as small have their "whims and oddities." The baron was reported to have taken pains to make, what appeared to me, a very incommodious arrangement. A door which had conducted to the library upon the other side of it had been removed, and the aperture in which it had stood blocked up, whilst the wall on this side had been cut away in order to effect an entrance. And what was the reason assigned for so much unnecessary labour? The baron had risen from nothing—had spent his early days in poverty and even misery; and he wished to perpetuate the remembrance of his early struggles, lest he should grow proud in prosperity, and forgetful of his duties. The frequent sight of the few articles of furniture which had been his whole stock twenty years before, was likely more than any thing else to keep the past vividly before his eyes, and he placed them therefore, to use his own words as attributed to him by my informant, "between the flattery of the dazzling world without, and the silence of his chamber of study and meditation." They no doubt answered their object, in rendering the possessor at times low-spirited, since they were certainly likely to have that effect even upon a stranger. On the day of my introduction, however, I had little time for observation. My name had been announced, and I passed rapidly on to the sanctum sanctorum.

There is an aristocracy of MIND as well as an aristocracy of wealth and social station; and, unless you be a soulless Radical, you cannot approach a distinguished member of the order without a glow of loyal homage, as honourable to its object as it is grateful to your own self-respect. I entered the library of the far-famed professor with a reverend step; he was seated at a large table, which was literally covered with books, brochures, and letters opened and sealed. He was dressed very plainly, wearing over a suit of mourning a dark coloured dressing-gown, which hung loosely about him. He was, without exception, the finest man I had ever seen, and I stopped involuntarily to look at and admire him. As he sat, I judged him to be upwards of six feet in height—(I afterwards learned that he stood six feet two,)—he was stout and well-proportioned—his chest broad and magnificent—his frame altogether muscular and sinewy. The face was full of authority and command—every feature handsome, including even the well drawn lip, in which there seemed to lurk scorn enough to wither you, if roused. The brow was full, prominent, and overhanging—the eye small, blue, and beaming with benevolence. Nature was mischievous when she brought that eye and lip in company for life. A noble forehead, made venerable by the grey hairs above it—grey, although the baron was hardly in the vale of years—completed the picture which presented itself to my eye, and which I noted in detail in less time than I have drawn it here—imperfectly enough. The baron, who had received my letter of introduction on the preceding day, rose to welcome me. His first enquiries were concerning my friend H——, the next were in reference to my own plans—and he had much to say of the different professors of London, with whose works and merits he appeared thoroughly acquainted. I remained an hour with him; and, some time before we parted, I felt myself quite at home with my new acquaintance. During the conversation that took place upon this memorable morning, the name of Z—— occurred. The baron praised him highly: "his attainments as a surgeon," he said, "were very great;" and, in other respects, he looked upon him as one of the most original and wisest men of the age. It will be remembered by my professional readers that Z——, although esteemed in England one of her first surgeons, acquired an unenviable notoriety through the publication of certain physiological lectures, in which the doctrines of materialism and infidelity were supported, it must be allowed, with all the eloquence and power of a first-rate mind. With my own settled views of Christianity, early inculcated by a beloved mother—now, alas! no more—I could not but regard the highly gifted Z—— as an enemy to his species, who had unhappily abused the talents which Providence had given him for a better purpose. Such being the case, it was with some pain and great surprise that I listened to the encomiums from the lips of the baron; and I ventured to hint that the speaker had, in all probability, not heard of the infamous publication which had given so much sorrow and alarm to all well-governed minds in England.

"Le voila!" said the baron in reply, taking up a book from the table—"The noblest work of the age! Free from prejudice and bigotry of every kind—I found my opinion of the man upon this book. Had he done nothing else, he would have immortalized his name. Philosophy and Science have hitherto borne him out in all his theories—will continue to bear him out, and eventually compel posterity to regard him as nothing short of the prophet and seer of nature. You may rely upon it, Z—— has, by the very force of intellect, arrived at conclusions which the discoveries of centuries will duly make good and establish."

I speak the simple truth when I aver, that these words of the baron gave me infinite distress, and for a moment deprived me of speech. I hardly knew what to say or do. At first I suspected that I had made some unaccountable mistake, and brought my letter to the wrong individual. H——, who was almost a Puritan in religious matters, could ever have spoken of his friend in such favourable terms, if he had been aware of the views which he so unscrupulously supported. A little reflection, however, convinced me that a mistake was impossible. There is nothing in this world more embarrassing than to sit in the presence of a superior, and be compelled to listen to statements which you feel to be false, and yet know not how with propriety to repel. My own youth, and the baron's profound learning and attainments, were barriers to the free expression of my thoughts; and yet I was ashamed to remain silent, and, as it were, a consenting party to the utterance of sentiments which I abhorred.

"I cannot hope," I managed to say at last, "that science will ultimately uphold his arguments, and prevent our relying as strongly as ever on our old foundations."

"And why?" replied the baron quickly. "Why should we always be timid and blind followers of the blind? Is it a test of wisdom to believe what is opposed to reason upon the partial evidence of doubtful witnesses? Is it weakness to engage all the faculties of the mind in the investigation of the laws by which this universe is governed? And if the perception of such immutable add eternal laws crushes and brings to nothing the fables of men whom you are pleased to call writers by inspiration, are we to reject them because our mothers and fathers, who were babes and sucklings at the breast of knowledge, were ignorant of their existence?"

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