« PreviousContinue »
112, 1. 5 from foot, for have been warned read had been warned
THE INDIAN MUTINY.
AFTER the suppression of the Indian Mutiny, I commenced to write an account of my adventures-illness and other causes delayed me; by the time my narrative was completed, the then interest of the public in the subject was exhausted. Years have since passed, and an interest of another kind has arisen. The events of that time have become history, and to that history my story may prove a contribution, for I saw much that has not been recorded. I have therefore resolved to publish my narrative, which without further preface I
In the beginning of the year 1857 I was magistrate of Muttra, a large city in Upper India. It is situated on the banks of the river Jumna, thirty-four miles from Agra, and on the high road, which runs from thence to Delhi. I had held the appointment about four years, and been married rather longer; we had with us two children, a little girl and a baby. The position of magistrate, though much reduced from what it had been, was still a very fine one. I had a large income and great authority, and
we lived in a degree of state which has long since been abandoned.
Our house was large and handsomely furnished, we had many horses and a great retinue of servants, besides a guard of soldiers and numerous attendants on horse and foot, who were provided for me at the expense of the Government. I had a chest full of silver plate, which stood in the hall, and Aa great store of Cashmere shawls, pearls, and diamonds.
Our life was secluded, and for the greater part of the year monotonous-travellers seldom passed, and there was little of incident; but among ourselves we were sociable, and in the extreme quiet there was something not unpleasant. In November, when the heat began to moderate, we went into tents and marched about the district. We passed the mornings in long rides and the day under groves of trees. Our life was then a perpetual picnic and very enjoyable.
It was at the end of January 1857, and we had just returned from our tour, when one day as I entered the office I found four little cakes laid on the table, dirty little cakes of the coarsest flour, about the size and thickness of a biscuit. A man had come to a village, and given a cake to the watchman, with injunctions to bake four like it, to distribute them to the watchmen of the adjacent villages, and to desire them to do the same. The watchman obeyed, but at the same time informed the police they had now reported the affair, sending in the cakes. The following day came similar reports from other parts of the district, and we next learnt from the newspapers that these cakes were being distributed in the same manner over all Upper India.
The occurrence was so singular that it attracted the attention of the Government, who directed inquiries; but
notwithstanding all the efforts that were made, it could not be ascertained either by whom the distribution had been contrived, where it commenced, or what it signified. After being a nine days' wonder the matter ceased to be talked about, and was presently for the time forgotten, except by those few who remembered that a similar distribution of cakes had been made in Madras towards the end of the last century, and had been followed by the mutiny of Vellore. These cakes were the famous Chapatties.
After this I fell ill and went to Agra, where my brother was then Secretary to the Government. Early on the morning of the 12th of May a telegram was received by a lady from her niece at Meerut, informing her that one of the native regiments had mutinied, murdered several of the English, and were gone off to Delhi. The wire then ceased working, and no further information could be obtained.
In the course of the day several visitors called, and this telegram formed the chief subject of conversation. Most of the visitors disbelieved the story or considered it much exaggerated. It was thought that if a serious mutiny had occurred, the Government would have received the first information. My brother had gone after breakfast to Government House; he did not return till late in the afternoon, and he then appeared much discomposed, as if he had heard of or expected some calamity.
I had permission to remain two more days at Agra, but my brother's manner so impressed me that I resolved to return at once to Muttra. I thought it possible, if the news was true, that some of the mutineers might wander into my district and create a disturbance; anything more serious than this I did not contemplate. I