Classic History Books


Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

"Lord Canning will easily believe how entirely the Queen shares his feelings of sorrow and indignation
at the unchristian spirit, shown, alas! also to a great extent here by the public, towards Indians in general,

and towards Sepoys without discrimination! It is, however, not likely to last, and comes from the

horror produced by the unspeakable atrocities perpetrated against the innocent women and children,

which make one's blood run cold and one's heart bleed! For the perpetrators of these awful horrors no

punishment can be severe enough; and sad as it is, stern justice must be dealt out to all the guilty.

"But to the nation at large, to the peaceable inhabitants, to the many kind and friendly natives who have
assisted us, sheltered the fugitive, and been faithful and true, there should be shown the greatest kindness.

They should know that there is no hatred to a brown skin - none; but the greatest wish on their Queen's

part to see them happy, contented, and flourishing."

These words well became the sovereign who, by serious and cogent argument, had succeeded in inducing
her Ministers to strike strongly and quickly on the side of law and order, they having been at first

inclined to adopt a "step-by-step" policy as to sending out aid, which would not have been very grateful

to the hard-pressed authorities in India; while the Queen and the Prince shared Lord Canning's opinion,

that "nothing but a long continued manifestation of England's might before the eyes of the whole Indian

empire, evinced by the presence of such an English force as should make the thought of opposition

hopeless, would re-establish confidence in her strength."

The necessary manifestation of strength was made; the reputation of England - so rudely shaken, not only
in the opinion of ignorant Hindoos, but in that of her European rivals - was re-established fully, and

indeed gained by the power she had shown to cope with an unparalleled emergency. The counsels of

vengeance were set aside, in spite of the obloquy which for a time was heaped on the true wisdom which

rejected them. We did not "dethrone Christ to set up Moloch"; had we been guilty of that sanguinary

folly, England and India might yet be ruing that year's doing. On the contrary, certain changes which did

ensue in direct consequence of the Mutiny were productive of undoubted good.

It was recognised that the "fiction of rule by a trading company" in India must now be swept away; one
of the very earliest effects of the outbreak had been to open men's eyes to the weak and sore places of

that system. In 1858 an "Act for the better Government of India" was passed, which transferred to Her

Majesty all the territories formerly governed by the East India Company, and provided that all the

powers it had once wielded should now be exercised in her name, and that its military and naval forces

should henceforth be deemed her forces. The new Secretary of State for India, with an assistant council

of fifteen members, was entrusted with the care of Indian interests here; the Viceroy, or

Governor-General, also assisted by a council, was to be supreme in India itself. The first viceroy who

represented the majesty of England to the Queen's Indian subjects was the statesman who had safely

steered us through the imminent, deadly peril of the Mutiny, and whom right feeling and sound policy

alike designated as the only fit wearer of this honour. Under the new regime race and class prejudices

have softened, education is spreading swiftly, native oppression is becoming more difficult, as improved

communications bring the light of day into the remoter districts of the immense peninsula. The public

mind of England has never quite relapsed into its former scornful indifference to the welfare of India;

rather, that welfare has been regarded with much keener interest, and the nation has become increasingly

alive to its duty with regard to that mighty dependency, now one in allegiance with ourselves. There was

much of happy omen in the reception accorded by loyal Hindoos to the Queen's proclamation when it

reached them in 1858. While the mass of the people gladly hailed the rule of the "Empress," by whom

they believed the Company "had been hanged for great offences," there were individuals who were

 

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