Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

this monument—" James III., Charles III., Henry IX., * Kings of England."

Such are the words of honour uttered from the marble memorial, but the voice falls upon heedless ears : the antiquary may pause at the words, and bow his head in acknowledgment of these assumed titles of an extinct royal house ; but the multitude hears not at all. Men pass from James II. to William III., and on to Victoria I. regardless of that monument's proud proclamation. The strife has now passed; the politics of the Jacobites are, in their original form, extinct; and the writer has therefore recorded the adventures of Prince Charles Edward without diyerging into questions which once had power to agitate into violent heavings the passions of British and European statesmen.

* This Henry was the last of the Stuarts, and second son of the “ Old Pretender.” In 1788 he caused a medal to be struck, bearing on one side “ Henricus Nonus, Angliæ Rex” (Henry IX., King of England); on the other, “ Dei Gratia sed non voluntate hominum (By the Grace of God, but not by the will of man). The French Revolution reduced him to great poverty; and George III. gave him a pension of 40001. yearly. He died 1807, leaving to the Prince of Wales the crown jewels which James II. bad carried off.

II.

INDIAN DUNGEONS ;

OR,

SUFFERINGS OF CAPTAIN WILSON, A BRITISH OFFICER, IN INDIA,

FROM 1781 to 1783.

n the early history of our Indian empire are many remarkable examples of daring courage and heroic endurance. To the combination of such high qualities in our soldiers and civilians must

be ascribed those dazzling successes by which a factory in the poor village of Govindpour* has been expanded into a government more powerful than that of the Moguls in its greatest magnificence. During such an advance from the Ganges to the Sutlej, some singular perils, hair-breadth escapes, and cruel sufferings must have been endured by many of the agents in this work of developing factories into empires. History does not record their names : she has her gorgeous stories of Plassey and Assaye, and will in after ages record the desperate gallantry which has made the Sutlej a stream of note. The Clives, Wellesleys, and Hardinges are not likely to be forgotten when fame fills up with golden characters the columns in the long record of the past. But where are the memories of those who have braved and suffered more perils than ever gathered round these gallant leaders ? preserved only in cherished family remembrances, in some simple biography,

The original name of the place from which Calcutta has risen to its present magnificence.

or, as in the case of the black-hole, by some plain obelisk bearing the victims' names ?*

One of these firm-hearted Britons was a captain named Wilson, who experienced the fury of the tempest which burst upon our Indian settlements in the times of Hyder Ali and Tippoo Saib. These adventures, though known to many, may be new to the readers of this volume, and are therefore presented in these pages as exhibiting some of the sufferings which many of our countrymen underwent during those fearful struggles.

It is proper to inform the reader that these Indian wars arose from the fierce rivalry between the French and English, who, having settlements in India, were engaged in a constant succession of hostilities, even when the two crowns were supposed to be at peace. The great contest commenced by the manæuvres of the French political agent, M. Duplieux, to excite the native princes against the English, who resolved to submit to no such interference. The genius of Clivet gave a preponderance to the British influence; and the French gradually lost their power in India. They were, nevertheless, able to excite the jealousy of the Indian princes; and thus originated those wars which issued in the triumph of the British in Hindostan. First came the attack on Calcutta by Suraja Dowlah, nabob of Bengal, with its attendant horrors of the Black-hole. He was, in the end, utterly defeated and dethroned ; but a bloody war soon ensued with his successor, Meer Cosseim, whom the British had raised to the sovereignty in the place of Meer Jaffier.

The war against Meer Cosseim ended in his ruin, and brought Bengal under the British power. From this strife another contest arose. Meer Cosseim had fled to the nabob of Oude Suja Dowlah, who warmly supported his cause. Defeat followed the confederate chiefs ; and the wild courage of Asia yielded to the stern endurance and energy

* The Black-hole is now used for a warehouse ; near which an obelisk is raised, to preserve the memories of those who perished in that prison.

† This man of energy was born in Shropshire, 1725, and went to Madras as a writer at the age of nineteen. The struggle between the French and English was then commencing in India, and Clive exchanged his civil for a military appointment. He soon gained important commands, and, striking blow upon blow, he prostrated French power, laid the foundation of our Indian empire, and raised himself to the peerage, being created Baron of Pla y. Lord Chatham described him as a “ Heaven-born general, who, without experience, surpassed all the officers of his time.” His end was gloomy, as he committed suicide in 1774.

of Europe. The next opponent was lyder Ali; who, enraged at the success of the British, endeavoured to detach some of the princes from the English interest, and organize a resistance to their power throughout Hindostan. He rushed upon the Carnatic* with a deluge of cavalry amounting to 90,000 horsemen, and vowed to drive every Englishman from the land of the sacred Ganges. Though defeated in five desperate battles, his vast forces enabled him to keep the field, and leave to his son-in-law, Tippoo Saib, in 1782, the work of ravaging India. The war ended by the capture of Tippoo's capital, Seringapatam, and the death of its ferocious monarch, who perished by the bayonets of the storming party, May the 4th, 1799.

Beyond this point, the reader's attention need not be called, as the Mahrattat war which followed, and the brilliant victories of Delhi and Assaye have no immediate connexions with the subsequent narrative, which is limited to the reigns of Hyder and Tippoo. Throughout these struggles the French gave every possible aid to Hyder and his son ; and by their agency Captain Wilson was first brought into the inhuman Indian nabob's power. As the captain had shown in the service of the East India Company much courage and prudence, he was employed by the Indian authorities in conveying military stores to the British garrisons, fleets, and armies—tasks which he executed in circumstances of the most imminent peril, and once within sight of the French fleet. During one of these trips, whilst carrying stores to the British admiral, Sir Edward Hughes, he was captured by the French, and carried into Cuddalore, a part of the Coromandel coast, about eighty miles south of Madras.

* This name is given to the south-east extremity of India, a region extending for nearly six hundred miles, from Cape Comorin along the eastern coast. It possesses many fortresses, and is a populous and wealthy territory. It was formerly governed by the nabob of Arcot; but in 1789, the Indian government took full possession of the sovereignty.

if These were divided into the eastern and western Mahrattas; their sway extended over the centre and south of India—a country a thousand miles long, and seven hundred miles wide. They were named from Mahrot, an ancient district in the Deccan.

Had this been the end of Wilson's calamity, littic attention would have been drawn to his adventures, which would only have resembled those of thousands upon whom war pours its vials of wrath. But thc ferocity of Hyder Ali drew such commiseration around the objects of his cruelty, that fame was naturally acquired where so much was suffered. Desiring to get all the English prisoners taken by the French into his power, in order to extract evidence from them to guide him in his military operations, or to gratify his vengeful spirit by their tortures, he procured the transfer from the French authorities of all the English in Cuddalore to himself, by giving to Suffrein, the French admiral, a bribe of 300,000 rupees ; and the latter basely yielded to this dishonourable proposal, the disgrace of which the medalt presented to him by his countrymen could not efface. This ansaction soon became known to the captives, who were aware that no feelings of generosity could be looked for in Hyder Ali. It was now that Captain Wilson resolved to attempt an escape from his prison, choosing to risk all dangers rather than fall into the hands of such a human tiger as the Indian prince. Often had the captain paced the ramparts of his prison, and contemplated the possibility of springing from the walls into the river which almost washed their base. The time had now come for reducing this thought into speedy action, in which he persuaded a brother officer and his Hindoo servant to join.

The night following the day on which the news of their transfer to Hyder reached the prisoners was fixed upon for the attempt : the hour selected being a short time after sunset, when the darkness would facilitate escape, and the night give time for reaching a distant point before his absence could be detected.

As the hour approached, Captain Wilson ascertained that the officer who had promised to join him declined to en

* This meilal bore on it the following rather vaunting inscription “Le cap protégé; Trinquemale pris ; Goudelour delivré; L'Inde de. fendue ; six combats glorieux. Les états de Provence ont decerne cetti medaille. 1784."

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »