Dalhousie and the Mutiny
The mutiny of the Indian army in 1857 was the most dramatic event in nineteenth-century India. There were much heroism, ferocity, and suffering on both sides. There was profound psychological shock which led to a fascination for the subject and mutual exaggeration. In this chapter an attempt will be made to place the event in proper perspective as an element in the development of modern India and a factor in the relations of India and Britain.
Before dealing with it more particularly, it is necessary to examine the few years previous, for it is in this period that the forces which clashed with the feelings and ideals of traditional India gathered full strength. They were directed by the confident hand of a man who himself embodied the progressive go-ahead spirit of the Victorian age. That man was the Marquess of Dalhousie, who with Wellesley, Bentinck, and Curzon stands as one of the four outstanding Englishmen of the century. Dalhousie was one of those proud and intelligent but impecunious Scotch lords who sought fame and fortune in official service. In Dalhousie's case his title did no more than give him a start in public life; his talents did the rest. He served as Gladstone's assistant when he was president of the Board of Trade in Peel's government. As vicepresident (or undersecretary) he had to grapple with the railway boom of the 1840's. Each new railroad required parliamentary sanction, and in this way Dalhousie learned much about the needs and problems of a rapidly expanding and highly individualistic society. In 1848, at the age of thirty-five, he was chosen to succeed the Waterloo veteran Lord Hardinge, who had just defeated the Sikhs, as governor general. He was short and stocky in appearance. He had an oblong face, capped with a lofty brow and marked with the long nose and pursed lips of pride and determination. To his talents and character were added an abundant energy which wore out his body and left him a physical wreck on his return from India at the age of forty-four. He was generous to his col-