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The English In India
by [?]

This mutiny we propose to notice briefly but searchingly under three heads–first, in its relation to the mutineers themselves; next, in its relation to ourselves; but, subdividing that question, we will assign the second head to the consideration of its probable bearing on our political credit and reputation; whilst the third head may be usefully given to the consideration of its bearing on our pecuniary interests, and our means of effectual reparation for the ruins left behind by rebellion, and by the frantic spasms of blind destruction.

First, then, let us look for a moment at this great tumultuary movement, as it points more or less obscurely to the ulterior purposes of the mutineers, and the temper in which they pursue those purposes. In a newspaper of Saturday, August 15, we observe the following sentence introductory to a most unsatisfactory discussion of the Indian revolt:–‘The mutiny in India, from the uninterrupted nature of its progress, and its rapid spread through every considerable station, shows a power of combination and determination which has never before been given credit for to the native Indian mind.’ This passage is cited by us, not for anything plausible in its views, but for the singular felicity of contradiction which fortunately it offers to every indication of the true disposable ability that is now, or ever has been, at the service of the insurgents. This, indeed, is rapidly becoming of very subordinate importance; since the ablest rebel, without an army, must be contemptible enough. But with a view to the larger question–What quality of opposition is ever likely to be brought into play against us, not in merely military displays, but in the secret organisation of plots and local tumults, propagated over extensive provinces? Some degree of anxiety is reasonable under any possible condition of the army; and this being so, it is satisfactory to observe, now in 1857, the same childishness and defect of plan and coherent purpose as have ever characterised the oriental mind. No foresight has been exhibited; no concert between remote points; no preparation; no tendency towards combined action. And, on the other hand, it is most justly noticed by a new London paper, of the same date–namely, the People–that it is perfectly dazzling to the mind to review over the whole face of India, under almost universal desertion, the attitude of erectness and preparation assumed by the scattered parties of our noble countrymen–‘everywhere’ (says the People) ‘driven to bay, and everywhere turning upon and scattering all assailants. From all parts is the same tale. No matter how small the amount of the British force may be, if it were but a captain’s company, it holds its own.’ On the other hand, what single success have the rebels achieved? Most valiant, no doubt, they have shown themselves in hacking to pieces poor fugitive women, most intrepid in charging a column of infants. Else, what have they to show? Delhi is the solitary post which they have for the moment secured; but even that through the incomprehensible failure of the authorities at Meerut, and not through any vigour manifested by themselves. Any uneasiness which still possesses the minds of close observers fastens upon these two points–first, upon the disarmings, as distinguished from the desertions; secondly, upon the amount, and probable equipment, and supposed route of stragglers. It is now said that the mutiny has burned itself out from mere defect of fuel; there can be no more revolts of sepoys, seeing that no sepoys now remain to revolt; that is, of the Bengal force. But in this general statement a great distinction is neglected. Regiments once disarmed, if also stripped of their private arms, whether deserters or not, are of slight account; but the grave question is this–how many of (say seventy) regiments have gone off previously to the disarming. Even in that case, the most favourable for them where arms are secured, it is true that ammunition will very soon fail them; but still their bayonets will be available; and we believe that the East India infantry carry swords. A second anxiety connects itself with the vast number of vagrant marauding soldiers, having power to unite, and to assail small detached stations or private bungalows. Yet, again, in cases known specially to ourselves, the inhabitants of such small insulated stations had rapidly fortified the buildings best fitted for defence. Already, by the 18th of May, in a station not far from Delhi, this had been effected; every native servant, male or female, had been discharged instantly; and perhaps they would be able to strengthen themselves with artillery. The horrors also of the early murders at Delhi would be likely to operate beneficially, by preventing what otherwise is sure to happen–namely, the disposition to relax in vigilance as first impressions wear off. Considering, upon the whole, the amount of regiments that may be assumed as absolutely disarmed and neutralised; and, on the other hand, counting the 5000 and upwards of troops intercepted on their route to Hong-Kong, and adding these to at least 25,000 of Queen’s troops previously in the country, counting also the faithful section of the Sikhs, the Ghoorkas, and others that could be relied on, the upshot must be, that at least 40,000 troops of the best quality are scattered between the Hoogly and the Sutlege (or, in other words, between Calcutta and Loodiana[4]). Beyond a few casual outrages on some small scale, we hope that no more of bloody tragedies can be now (August 25) apprehended. But we, that have dear friends in Bengal, must, for weeks to come, feel restless and anxious. Still, this is a great mitigation of the horror that besieged our anticipations six weeks ago.