CAUSES OF THE MUTINY. 223 the Crown, were then the monopoly of a handful of English- men. Shortly before the Mutiny, Sir Henry Lawrence pointed out that even the army supplied no career to a native officer, which could satisfy the reasonable ambition of an able man. He insisted on the serious dangers arising from this state of things ; but his warnings were unheeded till too late. In the crisis of the Mutiny they were remembered. He was nominated provisional Governor-General in event of any accident happen- ing to Lord Canning ; and the Queen's proclamation, on the transfer of the Government from the Company to the Crown at the end of the great struggle, affirmed the principle which he had so powerfully urged. ' And it is our further will,' are Her Majesty's gracious words, ' that, so far as may be, our subjects, of whatever race or creed, be freely and impartially admitted to offices in our service, the duties of which they may be qualified by their education, ability, and integrity duly to discharge.' Under the Company this liberal policy was unknown. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, therefore, found many of the Indian princes, especially the dethroned dynasties, hostile to the Com- pany ; while a multitude of its own native officers were either actively disloyal or indifferent to its fate. The * Greased Cartridges.' — In this critical state of affairs, a rumour ran through the Native army that the cartridges served out to the Bengal regiments had been greased with the fat of pigs— animals which are unclean alike to Hindu and Muham- madan. No assurances could quiet the minds of the Sepoys. Indeed the evidence shows that a disastrous blunder had in truth been made in this matter — a blunder which, although quickly remedied, was remedied too late. Fires occurred nightly in the Native lines; officers were insulted by their men; confidence was gone, and only the form of discipline remained. The Army drained of its Talent.— In addition, the out- break of the storm found the Native regiments denuded of many of their best officers. The administration of the great empire to which Dalhousie had put the corner-stone, required a larger ■staff than the civil service could supply. The practice of select- ing able military men for civil posts, which had long existed, received a sudden and vast development. Oudh, the Punjab,
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/227
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.