Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,051 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

Perhaps the author was mistaken, and the letter was sent by Lady Bentinck, whose name was Mary.



Abolition of Corporal Punishment—­Increase of Pay with Length of Service—­Promotion by Seniority.

The following observations on a very important and interesting subject were not intended to form a portion of the present work.[1] They serve to illustrate, however, many passages in the foregoing chapters touching the character of the natives of India; and the Afghan war having occurred since they were written, I cannot deny myself the gratification of presenting them to the public, since the courage and fidelity, which it was my object to show the British Government had a right to expect from its native troops and might always rely upon in the hour of need, have been so nobly displayed.

I had one morning (November 14th, 1838) a visit from the senior native officer of my regiment, Shaikh Mahub Ali, a very fine old gentleman, who had recently attained the rank of ‘Sardar Bahadur’, and been invested with the new Order of British India.[2] He entered the service at the age of fifteen, and had served fifty-three years with great credit to himself, and fought in many an honourable field.  He had come over to Jubbulpore as president of a native general court-martial, and paid me several visits in company with another old officer of my regiment who was a member of the same court.  The following is one of the many conversations I had with him, taken down as soon as he left me.

’What do you think, Sardar Bahadur, of the order prohibiting corporal punishment in the army; has it had a bad or a good effect?’

‘It has had a very good effect.’

‘What good has it produced?’

’It has reduced the number of courts martial to one-quarter of what they were before, and thereby lightened the duties of the officers; it has made the good men more careful, and the bad men more orderly than they used to be.’

‘How has it produced this effect?’

’A bad man formerly went on recklessly from small offences to great ones in the hope of impunity; he knew that no regimental, cantonment, or brigade court martial could sentence him to be dismissed the service; and that they would not sentence him to be flogged, except for great crimes, because it involved at the same time dismissal from the service.  If they sentenced him to be flogged, he still hoped that the punishment would be remitted.  The general or officer confirming the sentence was generally unwilling to order it to be carried into effect, because the man must, after being flogged, be tumed out of the service, and the marks of the lash upon his back would prevent his getting service anywhere else.  Now he knows that these courts can sentence him to be dismissed from the service—­that he is liable to lose his bread for ordinary transgressions, and be sentenced to work on the roads for graver ones.[3] He is in consequence much more under restraint than he used to be.’

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