Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/216

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British prisoners were recovered; and our armies marched back to India, leaving Dost Muhammad to take undisputed possession of his throne. The drama closed with a bombastic proclamation from Lord Ellenborough, who had caused the gates from the tomb of Mahmúd of Ghazní to be carried back as a memorial of 'Somnáth revenged.' The gates were a modern forgery; and their theatrical procession through the Punjab formed a vainglorious sequel to Lord Ellenborough's timidity while the fate of our armies hung in the balance.

Conquest of Sind, 1843.—Lord Ellenborough, who loved military pomp, had his tastes gratified by two more wars. In 1843, the Muhammadan rulers of Sind, known as the Mírs or Amírs, whose chief fault was that they would not surrender their independence, were crushed by Sir Charles Napier. The victory of Miáni, in which 3000 British troops defeated 12,000 Balúchís, is one of the brilliant feats of arms in Anglo-Indian history. But valid reasons can scarcely be found for the annexation of the country. In the same year a disputed succession at Gwalior, fomented by feminine intrigue, resulted in an outbreak of the overgrown army which the Sindhia family kept up. Peace was restored by the battles of Mahárájpur and Panniár, at the former of which Lord Ellenborough was present in person.

Lord Hardinge, 1844-1848.—In 1844, Lord Ellenborough was recalled by the Court of Directors, who differed from him on points of administration, and distrusted his erratic genius. He was succeeded by a veteran soldier, Sir Henry (afterwards Lord) Hardinge, who had served through the Peninsular war, and lost a hand at Ligny. It was felt on all sides that a trial of strength between the British and the one remaining Hindu power in India, the great Sikh nation, was near.

The Sikhs.—The Sikhs were not a nationality like the Maráthás, but originally a religious sect, bound together by the additional tie of military discipline. They trace their origin to Nának Sháh, a pious Hindu reformer, born near Lahore in 1469, before the ascendency of either Mughals or Portuguese in India. Nának, like other zealous preachers of his time, preached the abolition of caste, the unity of the Godhead, and