THE NEWS FROM MUNEEPORE. T HE Muneepore incident may be considered
closed. The Government of India, not having adopted the prin- ciple that Empires are built on love alone, has acted with energy, judgment, and success. The blood of the murdered Englishmen was scarcely cold, when from the banks of the Irrawaddy, the Brahmapootra, and the Ganges, small 'columns of troops commanded by English officers were in movement to stamp out the rebellion, and ensure a righteous punishment on the murderers. The columns were separated from the central authority by the breadth of entire provinces, each larger than France ; but the tele- graph erased distance, and the three movements were as well combined as those of the three hands of a good watch. There was a halt in one direction to gather up supplies, a halt in another to brush away a swarm of Munee- pore soldiers who presumed to arrest the march ; but so excellent were the arrangements, that in spite of jungle and river and Muneeporees, on Sunday, the 26th April, thirty-three days from the date of the massacre, all three columns entered Imphal, the capital of the revolted State. They found a scene from the "Arabian Nights." The Regent, and his Commander-in-Chief, and all his trium- phant soldiers, had been blown away by the mere wind of the British advance. First placing the heads of the murdered Englishmen in one of the verandahs of the Residency, so as to be seen by the avenging forces and bear witness to the still unappeased hatred the murderers bore to the white men—they spared all the brown captives, who were Asiatics like themselves—they tied to the hills, where doubtless they will resume the savage life from which they originally emerged, perhaps re-embrace the ancient worship of the Snake, which they abandoned only a centuryand a half since, still keep up on all their " national " emblems, and pro- bably still revere in their own houses. With them, though not to the hills, fled also the whole body of the people, probably persuaded by the Senaputty that the English soldiers would be let loose on them, certainly quivering with vague fears of the universal vengeance which, under such provocation, they themselves would have inflicted. They had slunk, men, women, and children, into the villages around. The whole city was deserted, palace and temple and bazaar all silent and unpeopled, and only those ghastly memorials left, to be buried, let us trust, in the chapel of the tall fort which will henceforth maintain, as by a sign which no citizen can mistake, the " British Peace" in Muneepore. During a hundred years there has never been a, riot in Calcutta, because of "the Fort ;" and yet the Fort has never fired a shell, its mere presence creating the order to which the enormous wealth of the Indian capital is due. We shall probably not catch the fugitives, any more than we caught the Nana, for they will be protected by the secret sympathy of all Asiatics, be they Hindoos, Burmese, or Tibetans; but at least they are blotted out from Munee- pore. They had but one day of bloody revel and triumph, followed by one month of sickening anxiety—for it is the strangest fact of all, that these men, like most of the Sepoys in 1857, knew even when they revolted that they could not win—and now they will have twenty years of flight among the savage hills. They will be hunted for at least that time, for the " Imperial Service," the great 'corporation which governs India, and does not vacillate like English opinion, holds it politic, as well as righteous, that great murderers should die. The people will, of course, return at once, for they never were in any danger, and there is, we believe, in all Indian history, no instance in which the defeated. side showed any animosity to the conquerors. One hour after the battle, while the surgeons are still at work, supplies begin pouring in, and the white men are smoothly and pleasantly eased, by their defeated foes, of the untold wealth believed to be at their command.
The " way " of the outbreak begins to be clear from the narratives of the survivors, and it is not the way which, as we deeply regret to see, most of our contemporaries assume. It is plain, to begin with, that Mr. Quinton acted originally under orders from the Supreme Government, which directed him, in order to prevent an outbreak in Muneepore, of which the Government, as usual, had warning, probably from the deposed Maharajah in Calcutta—he was deposed by his brothers, not by us—to persuade the Senaputty to go into banishment, or, that failing, to arrest him. He went, therefore, himself to Muneepore, with a force which, but for the failure of ammunition, would have been ample for a guard, and which did in the end deliver itself ; he advised the Sena- putty in conversation to depart for Bengal ; and it was not till his refusal that he resolved on the dangerous but unavoidable step of ordering his arrest in the most regular and least treacherous way. By a natural mistake, our contemporaries have confounded the Viceroy's " Durbar," which is, as they say, a friendly conference, with the regular "Durbar " of a Native State, which is the public seance of the Native Prince for the settling of business, the doing of justice, and the punishment, if needful, of offenders. Any Asiatic Prince would have arrested the Senaputty as a traitor in Durbar, just as Mr. Quinton essayed to do, and our own Tudors and Plantagenets did ; and had the arrest taken place, the Regent would have confirmed it, and probably hailed the Commissioner of Assam as his deliverer and friend. He was a mere tool of his fierce brother, and probably hoped up to the last moment that the English would rid him of his rival, in which case his loyalty to the Queen would have been rapturous, and possibly enduring. The Senaputty, however, knew all that quite well, and suspecting that he would be arrested and banished, if not sent to the Andamans, he broke into murderous rebellion. His soldiers obeyed him, as would the soldiers in any Native Court throughout India, and a storm of shells was poured on the almost indefensible Residency, until both Mr. Quinton and. Colonel Sirens, his responsible military adviser, thought it imperative to treat. This was an error of judgment, considering the evil record of the Senaputty, which Mr. Quinton must have known perfectly well, and considering also how often surrender has been fol- lowed by attack; but it lasted only a moment, for on learning that the only terms offered included the surrender of their arms, the Europeans indignantly refused. They were then seized, not perhaps " tortured " in the technical sense—that is, with a view to inflict pain—but chopped into bits with billhooks, in the fashion of these hills, while the artillerymen recommenced their fire upon the Residency. The officers left there, seeing their chiefs captured, and finding their last reserves of ammunition melting away, perceived that their only alternatives were to suffer massacre in a few hours, or to retreat fighting ; and properly chose the latter. With one white woman in their midst, who was as brave as they, they marched through' the jungle steadily for thirty hours, successfully repelling incessant attacks, but so worn out with excitement, fatigue, and insufficient food, that when at last they met a reinforcement under Captain Cowley, they imagined it to be a fresh body of the enemy. They were, however, safe, and it is thoroughly characteristic that the only one of them whose letters have yet been published, ends his account with a fervent hope for permission to go back again to Muneepore.
We can see no ground whatever, except the offer to consider terms, for the accusations of mismanagement in Muneepore. It was Mr. Quinton's duty to go there, his duty to arrest the Senaputty, and his duty to perform his duty with as little strain on the overtaxed garrison of Assam as he could possibly manage. He had no reason to suspect that the Regent, in whose interests he was acting, was either treacherous or a coward, and no ground whatever for fancying that the Muneepore Army, though it might rebel against the Regent, would even think of defying the British Empire. We are told that Mr. Quinton ought to have thought of the bigness of the Muneeporee force as compared with his own ; but suppose we all thought of the bigness of India as compared with England, or of the bigness of the cheese and the littleness of the knife which cuts through it ? But that we know it is useless, we would earnestly deprecate these savage attacks on experienced and devoted men, who blundered, if they blundered at all, in being too rashly brave. We will not, however, waste breath in a futile indignation. It is the nature of democracy never to pity failure, or be just to its unsuccessful servants, and it is feeble to expect from it, inexperienced as it still is, the self-control which only hard experience teaches to other Kings. Such in- justice must weaken the State in the end, for the best will refuse to enter on such a service ; but at first it develops energy, every officer feeling that he must win or die there, for the mass is master, and the mass com- prehends nothing except a visible success. When the defeated go to the guillotine, the survivors of defeat are few—as also the recruits will ultimately be—and that, though the guillotine is a moral one, is the lot for the present of every British agent who cannot report success. The " public " expect him to win, as Lord Napier won at Magdala, in some electrifying way ; and if the conditions do not allow it, and he disappoints the public,—well, the public, which is sitting in the stalls of its theatre, and expects amusement and not mortification, will hiss hard. As for the nonsense talked about the necessity of con- fining all great administrative appointments in India, like the government of Assam, to soldiers, it is nonsense merely. Assam is the quietest of provinces, full of " tea- gardens " and plantations, and a widely scattered peasantry, about as likely to rebel as Shetlanders, and needing nothing so much as patient civil government of the kind that "develops resources." The Valley of the Bralimapootra is no more a frontier province, and for three hundred and sixty-four days in the year no more wants soldiers than the Delta of the Ganges does. Besides, Indian civilians are not men of the desk attending exclusively to letters, but are able politicians, as fit to administer pro- vinces as Sir Henry James is to be Home Secretary. The most competent Governor who ever reigned in a frontier province was a civilian named John Law- rence, and only one of the greater Viceroys, Lord William Bentinck, can be said to have been a soldier; while the " Politicals," whom it is the fashion to hold responsible for frontier disasters, have constantly been military men. The truth of the matter is, that both Services succeed and fail as administrators about equally, the successful civilians becoming administering soldiers, and the successful soldiers military administrators, and that disaster in India usually arises from divided authority. As long as there is a competent chief whom all will obey, it does not matter much whether he is soldier or civilian, any more than it matters whether a great King is. It is true the civilians are accused, in difficult emergencies, of being alittle too audacious, and underestimating the opposed forces ; but what is their audacity compared with that of the British nation, which holds down 280,000,000 of human beings, at least 120,000,000 of whom are born fighters, with some 60,000 unpicked men in red ? Mr. Quinton had five times as many Goorkhas with him, in proportion to his enemy, as Clive had Europeans with .him at Plassey, and the Goorkhas are supposed to be nearly as good. India, in fact, was won, and is kept, by an audacity which does not count heads ;, and to condemn a great Service and a most excellent administrator because for once audacity failed, is an instance of unfairness which, if it becomes as general as it threatens to do, will kill out loyalty as a frost kills flowers.