Page:A Journal of Forty-Eight Hours of the Year 1945.djvu/1

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June 6. 1835.]

think the present state of things can subsist without a crash sooner or later. Such is the sum of my conclusions from what I saw in my late journeyings to and from Scotland. To be sure we travelled through the par excellence manufacturing districts and chiefly upon the high roads: more in the interior and in less manufacturing counties there may be more rurality, more health and happiness. I understand, however, that there are few places to which town-miasma does not spread, owing to the number of vehicles flying about in all directions and the multiplication of roads. There facilities of intercourse, so much boasted of, do as much harm as good: as they are upon the increase, it is impossible to foresee the ultimate result: — with which very cautious prophecy I wind up my traveller's story.


(A student at the Hindoo College.)

And shall we, shall men, after five and twenty years of ignomninious servitude, shall we, through a fear of dying, defer one single instant to assert our liberty! No, Romans; now is the time; the favorable moment we have so long waited for is come. Junius Brutus.

The people of India and particularly those of the metropolis had been subject for the last fifty years to every species of subaltern oppression. The dagger and the bowl were dealt out with a merciless hand and neither age, sex, nor condition could repress the rage of the British barbarians. These events, together with the recollection of the grievances suffered by their ancestors, roused the dormant spirit of the generally considered timid Indian. Finding that every day the offences instead of being extenuated were aggravated, that no redress could be obtained by appeals to either Lords or Commons, he formed the bold but desperate resolution of hurling Lord Fell Butcher, viceroy of India, from his seat and establishing a government composed of the most patriotic men in the kingdom. It is neither a matter of surprise nor for indignation, that the horn subjects of "the lord's anointed" of merry England should take up arms against their sovereign, when we consider the deep and dreadful provocations which the Indians received. It was the only method calculated to repress the brutal atrocities of the merciless conquerors. Men accustomed to scenes of dangerous intrigue and infamous cruelty soon become callous to the generous feelings of human nature. With the rapidity of lightning the spirit of Rebellion spread through this once pacific people. It is easy for the historian and the hard to depict in the most lively colours the excesses committed by revolutionary parties, but he only can truly judge of their situation who has been a fellow sufferer with those whose families, friends and companions have been butchered in cold blood — who has seen villages and towns laid waste by fire for illumination — who has beheld thousands of human beings compelled to desert their home and country and seek refuge in dens of the earth, in clefts of rocks or in the hollows of trees.

In this conspiracy were engaged many of the most distinguished men in Calcutta — Bábús, Rájás and Nábábs increased its consequence. It was conducted for some time with the greatest imaginable secrecy, and the contagion of Rebellion would probably have infested every city in the kingdom, had it only had time to perfect its machination.

It was a beautiful evening; the hues of the setting sun, the whisper of breezes and the singing of birds made the whole scene delightful. Instead of lounging about the streets, as is generally the case, the rich and poor all huddled in the same direction. At about six a vast number of men assembled on the North Eastern suburbs of the "City of Palaces." On the left of this spacious plain gurgles a rill, on the right it is fenced by avenues of bamboos. The front view is bounded by a beautiful Pagoda, the work of some Moslem hand, whose spiral tops reflected in a thousand fantastic colours the bright rays of the sinking sun. Within this inclosure, all was lovely — the tumultuous dashing of the waters, the hollow murmurs of the winds, and the confused melody of singing birds and human voices, made it inexpressibly enchanting. The people all sat down on the turf and the proceedings of the meeting commenced. From one extremity rose a venerable figure not above fifty or sixty. The contracted brow and the deep furrows on his cheeks marked the predominance of passion and of corroding care over age.

"Gentlemen," said he, "I have the pleasure once more of witnessing my fellow countrymen, assembled to assert their native rights and vindicate their wrongs. But before we enter upon this day's topic, allow me to ask whether the proposition of each man wearing a carabine and a sword, carried at our last meeting, has been universally complied with?" A loud and lengthened peel of applause proved that it was. Bhoobun Mohun, a youth of twenty-five splendidly attired in kincaub and gold, rose at the instant his venerable predecessor extended himself on the turf. He gracefully flung a richly embroidered scarf over his left shoulder and addressed the meeting With all the learning and eloquence which the Anglo-Indian College could furnish. He expatiated with a deep manly tone on the hardships and dangers to which the natives of Indostan had been subject since their subjugation by the Britons; and concluded by saying, "My friends and countrymen, I speak not to you with a wish to display my powers of rhetoric (of which I possess but little), I am not speaking from a heated imagination or blind enthusiasm, I speak only the plain and simple dictates of my heart, which I firmly believe meet with a response in all your bosoms. Consider for a moment the cruelties which from generation to generation you have suffered. What improvements in our condition could be expected from the enormities of Clive, the despotism of Wellesley, the wanton cruelty of Warren Hastings and the inordinate rapacity of our present odious Government? While the other nations of the earth are rising high in the scale of civilization, the people of Indostan are daily sinking to the level of beasts. Consider for a moment, my friends and countrymen! of what you have been forcibly bereft by these rough islanders. If you are still willing to submit to the wicked impositions of the British nation, if you are still willing to bear patiently all the refined cruelties of our present ruler Lord Fell Butcher, if your hearts sicken not at the idea of degradation, if your feelings revolt not at the thought of shackles and dungeons, I shall set you down for the most abject and degraded of human beings. But banish that thought. Let us unanimously engage to emancipate the natives from the thraldom of oppression. Let us all unite in a body, and it shall be the most glorious scene that India has beheld, when we effect the overthrow by one powerful and deadly blow of this system of injustice and rapacity."

"Friends! countrymen and chieftains! let us no a more be called the weak, the deluded portion of mankind, let us no more be branded with cowardice and degeneration, let us unfurl the banner of Freedom and plant it where Britannia[1] now proudly stands. If the consideration of rising in the estimation of the world move you not, Oh! I beseech you to look for the safety of the dear companions of your souls, the little ones, the darling of your eyes, and above all attend to the wants of our much neglected mother, the land that gave as birth."

There was a murmur of approbation and a burst of applause as soon as the young man concluded his harangue and sat amongst a group of acquaintances. In the mean time many of the audience at once exclaimed "Red coats! Red coats!" On looking forward it was perceived that about 16 troopers and 150 dismount-

  1. The top of the Government House