The Mutiny of 1857 remains an event shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Its very significance, that is, whether it can be considered the first war of independence, continues to be questioned. The causes remain many but rather elusive, the consequences even more so – did it ring the death toll of the British empire. Was it is mere speck of exaggerated trouble? This classic book serves to fill a tremendous gap in narrative accounts of thier mutiny, and demystifies lay assumption. It begins with a sizeable background on the genesis of the British Raj in India – a move not deliberate but powerful enough to shape history for decades to come. The author delves in great detail into the causes of the mutiny , unlike preceding writers who mostly concentrated on the consequences. With the aid of personal knowledge and observation he attempts to pin-point that latend power that drove munity on. He provide a realistic account of all the important operation that took place, praising the heroic and criticizing the undeserving. He is careful not to overlay his work with too much tedious detail, so his writing remains lucid and interesting.
In writing this short History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857 I have aimed at the compilation of a work which, complete in itself, should narrate the causes as well as the consequences of a movement unforeseen, undreamt of, sudden and swift in its action, and which taxed to the utmost the energies of the British people. Preceding writers on the same subject, whilst dealing very amply with the consequences, have, with one exception, but dimly shadowed forth the causes. The very actors in the Mutiny failed to detect them. Sir John Lawrence himself, writing with the fullest knowledge of events in which he played a very conspicuous part, mistook the instrument for the chief cause. He stopped at the greased cartridge. But the greased cartridge was never issued to the great body of the troops, if indeed to any. There must have been a latent motive power to make of an unissued cartridge a grievance so terrible as to rouse into revolt men whose fathers and whose fathers' fathers had contributed to the making of the British Empire in India. The greased cartridge, too, did not concern those landowners and cultivators of Oudh and the North-western Provinces, who rose almost to a man. What that latent motive power was I have described fully, and I believe truly, in this volume.
My belief in this respect is founded on personal knowledge and personal observation. Locally chief of the Commissariat Department at Kanhpur when, in January 1856, Sir James Outram crossed the Ganges to depose the King of Oudh, I had witnessed the indignation which the very rumour of his purpose caused among the sipahis of my own guard. I reported their excited state to my superiors, and was laughed at for my pains. But, impressed with the accuracy of my forecast, viz., that the annexation of Oudh would rouse indignation and anger in the sipahi army, I continued then, and after my transfer, two months later, to an appointment in the Military Audit Department in Calcutta, to keep a careful record of the several occurrences, all apparently of minor import, which supervened when the effects of the annexation of Oudh had been thoroughly realised by the sipahis, My observations led to the conclusion that they were thoroughly angered, and, a little later, that their minds were being mysteriously worked upon. I kept copious notes of the matters I observed, and I discussed them with my brother officers, without, however, finding that my views were shared by anyone of them. It would seem,' however, that the officer who held the responsible post of Town Major, Major Orfeur Cavenagh, had, from his own observation, arrived at conclusions not dissimilar. He has narrated in his admirable work the observations forced upon him by the changed demeanour of the natives of the North-western Provinces in 1856. But he, too, stood, amongst high-placed Europeans, almost alone in his convictions. The fact is that, up to the very outbreak of the Mutiny at Mirath, no one, from highest to lowest, believed in the possibility of a general combination. Those, and they could be counted on the fingers of one hand, who endeavored to hint at an opposite conclusion were ridiculed as alarmists. So ingrained was the belief in the loyalty of the sipahis, and so profound was the ignorance as to the manner in which their minds were affected, that neither the outbreak of Mirath nor the seizure of Delhi entirely removed it. The tone of the governing classes was displayed when the Home Secretary prated about 'a passing and groundless panic,' and when the acting Commander-in-Chief, an old officer of sipahis, babbled, in June 1857, of reorganisation. But the fact, nevertheless, remained. Circumstances had proved to me that extraneous causes were at work to promote an ill-feeling, a hatred not personal but national, in the minds of men who for a century had been our truest and most loyal servants. When the Mutiny had been quelled I renewed my researches regarding the origin of this feeling, and, thanks to the confidences of my native friends in various parts of the country, I arrived at a very definite conclusion. That conclusion I placed on record, in 1880,' when I published the then concluding volume of a History of the Mutiny, begun by Sir John Kaye, but left unfinished by that distinguished writer. After the publication of that volume I again visited India, and renewed my inquiries among those of my native friends best qualified to arrive at a sound opinion as to the real origin of the Mutiny. The lapse of time had removed any restraints which might have fettered their freedom of speech, and they no longer hesitated to declare that, whilst the action of the Government of India, in Oudh and elsewhere, had undermined the loyalty of the sipahis, and prepared their minds for the conspirators, the conspirators themselves had used all: the means in their power to foment the excitement. Those conspirators, they declared, were the Maulavi of Faizabad, the mouthpiece and agent of the discontented in Oudh; Nana Sahib; one or two great personages in Lakhnao; the Rani of jhansi: and Kunwar Singh. The action of the land system introduced into the North-west Provinces by Mr Thomason, had predisposed the population of those provinces to revolt. There remained only to the conspirators to find a grievance which should so touch the strong religious susceptibilities of the sipahis as to incite them to oven action. Such a grievance they found in the greased cartridge. By the circulation of chapatis they then intimated to the rural population that the time for action was approaching. This version of the immediate causes of the Mutiny is known to be true by some at least who will read these pages; it is known to be true by all who have taken the trouble to dive below the surface. I have accordingly given it a prominent place in this volume.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAQ866 Author: G.B. Malleson Cover: PAPERBACK Edition: 1998 Publisher: Rupa Publication India Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9788129107909 Language: English Size: 9.00 X 5.50 inch Pages: 287 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.3 Kg