[ 222 J CHAPTER XV. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Causes of the Sepoy Mutiny. — The various motives assigned for the Mutiny appear inadequate to the European mind. The truth seems to be that Native opinion throughout India was in a ferment, predisposing men to believe the wildest stories, and to rush into action in a paroxysm of terror. Panic acts on an Oriental population like drink upon a European mob. The annexation policy of Lord Dalhousie, although dictated by the most enlightened considerations, was distasteful to the Native mind. The spread of education, the appearance at the same moment of the steam-engine and the telegraph wire, seemed to reveal a deep plan for substituting an English for an Indian civilization. The Bengal sepoys especially thought that they could see further than the rest of their countrymen. Most of them were Hindus of high caste ; many of them were re- cruited from Oudh. They regarded our reforms on Western lines as attacks on their own nationality, and they knew at first hand what annexation meant. They believed it was by their prowess that the Punjab had been conquered, and that all India was held. The numerous dethroned princes, or their heirs and widows, were the first to learn and take advantage of this spirit of disaffection and panic. They had heard of the Crimean war, and were told that Russia was the perpetual enemy of England. Our munificent pensions had supplied the funds with which they could buy the aid of skilful intriguers. Other alleged causes of the Mutiny. — On the other hand, the Company had not sufficiently opened up the higher posts in its service to natives of education, talent, or proved fidelity. It had taken important steps in this direction in respect to the lower grades of appointments. But the prizes of Indian official life, many of which are now thrown open to natives of India by
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/226
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