Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

Our old friends, Mr. Charles Fraser, the Commissioner of the Agra Division, then on his circuit, and Major Godby, had come on with us from Agra and made our party very agreeable.  On the 9th, we went fourteen miles to Bharatpur, over a plain of alluvial, but seemingly poor, soil, intersected by one low range of sandstone hills running north-east and south-west.  The thick belt of jungle, three miles wide, with which the chiefs of Bharatpur used to surround their fortress while they were freebooters, and always liable to be brought into collision with their neighbours, has been fast diminishing since the capture of the place by our troops in 1826; and will very soon disappear altogether, and give place to rich sheets of cultivation, and happy little village communities.  Our tents had been pitched close outside the Mathura gate, near a small grove of fruit-trees, which formed the left flank of the last attack on this fortress by Lord Combermere.[1] Major Godby had been present during the whole siege; and, as we went round the place in the evening on our elephants, he pointed out all the points of attack, and told all the anecdotes of the day that were interesting enough to be remembered for ten years.  We went through the town, out at the opposite gate, and passed along the line of Lord Lake’s attack in 1805.[2] All the points of his attack were also pointed out to us by our cicerone, an old officer in the service of the Raja.  It happened to be the anniversary of the first attempt to storm, which was made on the 9th of January, thirty-one years before.  One old officer told us that he remembered Lord Lake sitting with three other gentlemen on chairs not more than half a mile from the ramparts of the fort.

The old man thought that the men of those days were quite a different sort of thing to the men of the present day, as well those who defended, as those who attacked the fort; and, if the truth must be told, he thought that the European lords and gentlemen had fallen off in the same scale as the rest.

‘But’, said the old man, ’all these things are matter of destiny and providence.  Upon that very bastion (pointing to the right point of Lord Lake’s attack) stood a large twenty-four pounder, which was loaded and discharged three times by supernatural agency during one of your attacks—­not a living soul was near it.’  We all smiled, incredulous; and the old man offered to bring a score of witnesses to the fact, men of unquestionable veracity.  The left point of Lord Lake’s attack was the Baldeo bastion, so called alter Baldeo Singh, the second son of the then reigning chief, Ranjit Singh.  The feats which Hector performed in the defence of Troy sink into utter insignificance before those which Baldeo performed in the defence of Bharatpur, according to the best testimony of the survivors of that great day.  ‘But’, said the old man, ’he was, of course, acting under supernatural influence; he condescended to measure swords only with Europeans’;

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Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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