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condition to be very different from what it was supposed to be by the officials at Agra. Where the contingent moved there was order, as also there was on the estates of the great proprietors, who had now re-established their authority; elsewhere it was anarchy. Village fought against village, caste against caste; disorder had reached a point that was sometimes ludicrous. For example, in one village two Rajahs established themselves; each assumed the yellow dress, each proclaimed his own independence, and each made war on the other.
The distant villages set the English Government at open defiance; the nearer ones, afraid of our cannon, were more cautious in expressing their feelings. They were profuse, indeed, in their declarations of loyalty, and avoided all acts of open disobedience, but they persistently evaded the payment of their revenue. It was the belief of the Government, and also of the English generally, that the natives were attached to our rule; and moreover that, weary of the present anarchy, they longed for the re-establishment of order. My present experience did not confirm this belief. No one regretted the loss of our rule; and, with the exception of the Bunniahs, who suffered by it, all classes enjoyed the confusion.
A large landholder once expressed his feelings to me very frankly. He said that the last three months had been the happiest of his life. He went about in state, and did what he liked; whom he would he punished, and whom he would he rewarded.' He added, that the English Government had been all very well at first. It gave the country protection against the Mahrattas, and did not too much interfere in their domestic matters. But lately it had meddled with everything, and upset all their ancient customs. Besides,' he continued, what with the heavy land revenue, the school rates, and all the
other new cesses, the taxation had become pretty well unbearable.'
In a large proprietor these sentiments were natural, but it was a little surprising to find that very similar sentiments were entertained by the peasant cultivators, and by that still lower class who, of all others, had especially benefited by our rule. Had I not myself witnessed it I should have deemed it incredible, but it is positively true that this class voluntarily returned to that condition of semi-serfdom from which it was the especial boast of our Government that it had freed them. At the same time there was re-established Suttee, domestic slavery, and all those other barbarous customs the abolition of which we had justly regarded as the chief glory of our rule, and as our best title to the gratitude of the people. It was evident that in its most humane and philanthropic efforts our Government had not been in harmony with the sentiments of the country.
After the lapse of a few years the people would no doubt have looked back to their condition under our rule with regretful appreciation, but just at present they were glad to be quit of it. They liked the freedom they were then enjoying they liked the excitement; and, better than all, they liked paying no revenue, and wiping off old scores with the Bunniahs.
To a certain extent I could enter into their feelings. The change in the appearance of the country was even to a spectator very agreeable. From the monotony of modern civilisation it had reverted to the wildness, the picturesqueness that we associate with the feudal ages.
In every village fortifications sprang up, the grandees resumed their ancient state, surrounded themselves with troops of attendants, hosts of armed retainers. When
they appeared abroad, it was with cavalcades of beautiful horses, camels gaily caparisoned, and crowds of followers carrying swords and spears, and clothed in the brightest of dresses. Life was now for them full of poetry, full of romance-wondrous rumours, vague anticipations.
THE APPROACH OF THE ENEMY.
ONE morning Captain Dennys received a despatch, directing him to intercept if possible a body of mutineers. We were at breakfast when the messenger arrived; before an hour had passed everything was packed and laden, and the contingent had commenced its march.
It was the hottest day I ever experienced, hotter even than that of my ride to Agra. The wind blew as if it issued from a furnace, clouds of dust obscured the sky, and filled the air; even the groves and villages on the roadside were but dimly visible. The burning heat and the blinding glare gave to the country something of a wintry aspect-the same gloom, the same appearance of desolation. The muffled figures of my attendants added to the resemblance. To protect themselves from the 'Loo,' as this fiery wind is termed, they had wrapped themselves in cloaks thickly wadded with cotton, enveloping their heads in enormous turbans. At their suggestion I had done the same; a picture of us and the landscape would have suggested rather the idea of wanderers in some Arctic waste, than of travellers in the fertile plains of India.
It may interest the reader to learn how the contingent appeared on the line of march. The description may also perhaps be useful to some future military his
torian, for the Indian army, as it then existed, is a thing of the past. I started after the troops, and as I overtook them I first came up to the company of Sepoys that formed the rear-guard; beyond them was a line of camels, a line-I speak from memory-that must have stretched more than half a mile. The camels were in groups of twenty and thirty; a string through the nostril of each hinder one connected it to the tail of the one that preceded it. On some of the camels were laden tents, others carried great sacks hanging on either side, which were filled with the clothes of the Sepoys, their cooking pots, and other utensils. Some carried in similar fashion the trunks of the officers, and enormous sorts of panniers, termed 'kajarwahs,' in which were stowed the plate, china, stores, and other property belonging to the mess. On a few of the camels were laden small boxes, very strong and solid in appearance, and very carefully packed. These contained the ammunition, and also the treasure. They formed a group by themselves, and a special guard marched beside them.
The camel seen singly and near is an ugly brute enough, often vicious, and stupid to a proverb. Seen from a distance crossing the plain in a long file, they are among the most graceful of quadrupeds. Their slow solemn gait, their undulating motion, the flowing robes of their attendants, seem to embody the calmness, the poetry, and even the unchangeableness of the East. As they appear now on the plains of India, so did they long ago on those of Mamre and Bagdad. On such might Sindbad have returned with his treasures, or Eliezer brought home to Isaac his bride.
Beyond the camels were the infantry. They marched in a long column. Passing them we came on the artillery. It consisted of two guns, each mounted on a