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.

38.  Among the many changes produced in India by the development of the railway system and by other causes one of the most striking is the abolition of small military stations.  Almost all these have disappeared, and the troops are now massed in large cantonments, where they can be handled much more effectively than in out-stations.  The discipline of small detached bodies of troops is generally liable to deterioration.

39.  Many instances of semi-religious honour paid by natives to the tombs of Europeans have been noticed.

40.  There are, I believe, many Jemadars who still wear medals on their breasts for their service in the taking of Java and the Isle of France more than thirty years ago.  Indeed, I suspect that some will be found who accompanied Sir David Baird to Egypt. [W.  H. S.] Such old men must have been perfectly useless as officers.  Sir David Baird’ s operations took place in 1801.

41.  The rate of pay of Jemadars in the Bengal Native Infantry now is either forty or fifty rupees monthly.  Half of the officers of this rank in each regiment receive the higher rate.  The grievance complained of by the author has, therefore, been remedied.  The pay of a Havildar is still, or was recently, fourteen rupees a month.


Invalid Establishment.

I have said nothing in the foregoing chapter of the invalid establishment, which is probably the greatest of all bonds between the Government and its native army, and consequently the greatest element in the ‘spirit of discipline’.  Bonaparte, who was, perhaps, with all his faults, ’the greatest man that ever floated on the tide of time’, said at Elba, ’There is not even a village that has not brought forth a general, a colonel, a captain, or a prefect, who has raised himself by his especial merit, and illustrated at once his family and his country.’  Now we know that the families and the village communities in which our invalid pensioners reside never read newspapers,[1] and feel but little interest in the victories in which these pensioners may have shared.  They feel that they have no share in the eclat or glory which attend them; but they everywhere admire and respect the government which cherishes its faithful old servants, and enables them to spend the ‘winter of their days’ in the bosoms of their families; and they spurn the man who has failed in his duty towards that government in the hour of need.

No sepoy taken from the Rajput communities of Oudh or any other part of the country can hope to conceal from his family circle or village community any act of cowardice, or anything else which is considered disgraceful to a soldier, or to escape the odium which it merits in that circle and community.

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