Across India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 323 pages of information about Across India.

“It would be quite impossible for me to give the history of India in detail in the limited time at my command, especially as we are now approaching the land.  Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese navigator, was the first to reach the East Indies, in 1498; but his countrymen never did much trading here, being more intent upon securing the rich treasures of the Indies.  As early as 1600 the English turned their attention in this direction.  Companies were formed; but being driven by the Dutch from the islands which they still hold, they began to make settlements on the coast of this peninsula.  Madras dates from 1639, Bombay from 1686, Calcutta from 1686.  The Company said, ‘Let us make a nation in India;’ and they went to work at once to do it.  They accomplished their purpose, fostered by the government, raised and borrowed money, and in the course of time had an army and a navy, and ruled the country.  They defeated the Grand Mogul, drove the French out of the peninsula, and were generally very prosperous.

“In 1833 Parliament revoked all the trading privileges of the company; and their dividends to stockholders were then paid out of the taxes assessed on the people of India.  They could not trade and could not govern except under the control of Parliament.  All the wars of India have been fought by the British nation.  After the mutiny, of which more hereafter, the company was compelled to cede its powers to the crown in 1858.

“The native soldiers of Bengal were called Sepoys, and the name has been applied to all native troops.  Some small mutinies occurred in this arm of the service in the presidency.  Early in 1857 the garrison of Meerut, near Delhi, revolted, and the British troops failed to suppress it.  The Sepoys marched to Delhi, where they were joined by the native troops and the mob.  The descendant of the Great Mogul, who lived in the palace of his ancestors under British protection, was proclaimed emperor, and his empire re-established.

“Probably 90,000 soldiers, infantry and cavalry, were in a state of rebellion.  In many instances they had murdered their officers and their families.  They were spread over a broad country, and held forts, arsenals, and treasuries.  They were disciplined troops armed with European artillery and muskets, and supplied with ammunition.  In portions of the country the British were isolated, as in the camp before Delhi, and in the works at Agra, Allahabad, and Lucknow.  The mutiny extended over an area of 100,000 square miles, with a population of 40,000,000.  It came at the worst season of the year; and if it had not been speedily suppressed, it would have spread over the whole country.  Many believed that the knell of the empire had sounded.

“At that time there were 40,000 European troops”—­

“Land, ho!” shouted the lookout man; and the cry was repeated by the sailors and the officers.

“We will attend to the land now, and I will resume latter,” said Lord Tremlyn, as he descended from the rostrum.

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Across India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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