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army of which French officers were at the head, not only checked their incursions into the upper province of Hindostan, but compelled their chiefs south of the Sutlej to pay tribute, and accept his protection. And had it not been for his war with the English, there is little doubt but that he would have made himself master of all the fertile provinces that lie between that river and the Indus. Daulut Rao Scindia, after retreating across the Sutlej, was forced to capitulate: whereupon the Punjaub—and, to a considerable extent, the country between the Sutlej and the Jumna—submitted to the rule of the Sikhs. These set up, when in power, the same form or system of government under which they had lived and sought during their season of difficulty. The smaller proprietors of the soil, the heads of villages and towns, and so forth, the whole body, in short, of local governors and magistrates, paid obedience to one or other of twelve chiefs; for twelve aristocrats seem to have divided the land among them, and to have ruled over it with an authority co-equal— at least, in name—from about the year 1765 to 1773. The associations over which each sirdar, or chief, held rule were called Missuls. They varied both as to extent and military strength; the largest being able to furnish 10,000 horse for war, the smallest being assessed at 2500. For it is worthy of remark, that though for purposes of domestic administration each chief or sirdar was perfectly independent of the others, in case of danger from without, all were expected to act under a common standard. And the Guru-mata, or great council of the nation, composed entirely of chiefs, determined on whom should be conferred the honor as well as the responsibility of commanding the whole. Runjeet Singh, the Lion of the Punjaub, and the true founder of the Sikh empire, derived his descent from one of these feudal chiefs. His grandfather, Churut Singh, was sirdar of the Sookeer-chuck Missul, and seems to have been one of the least powerful of the confederation, his retainers numbering no more than 2500 horse. Like his brother-chiefs, he was constantly at war, invading the territories of a neighbor or repelling invasion; and was killed in a feudal battle by the bursting of his own matchlock, though not, as the records of his nation aver, till he had slain a multitude of his enemies. He died at a moment of much peril to his tribe, inasmuch
as his son, Maha Singh, was a boy of only ten years old; and in the Punjaub, not less than elsewhere, the reign of a minor is almost always a feeble one. But the Missul held together, and Maha exhibiting, as he advanced towards man's estate, great vigor both of body and mind, it soon began to enlarge its influence. Moreover, Maha, like a politic chieftain, married the daughter of a sirdar, who proved very serviceable to him ; and almost as soon as his son and heir, Runjeet, was born, looked about for similar benefits to the nation through him. Accordingly, the Lion of the Punjaub, who first saw the light in the year 1780, was, in 1786, wedded, or, at least, betrothed, to a bride of his father's selection. The education of Runjeet Singh appears to have been entirely neglected. He never learned so much as to read or to write. Nature, too, seems to have acted the part of a step-mother towards him; for he was attacked by the small-pox in his infancy, and not only had his face scored and deeply indented by it, but lost the sight of one of his eyes. He was unfortunate, moreover, in this respect, that his father died in the very flower of his days, being as yet under thirty; and Runjeet, at twelve years of age, was left to the guidance of tutors. They indulged him in every whim and caprice, Insomuch that, up to his seventeenth year, his life was one of constant and frightful dissipation. Indeed, the national character was by this time wholly changed from that which its founder designed it to be. Excesses of all sorts, over-eating, overdrinking, the coarse feeding of the North combined, with the hideous vices of the East, to render the Sikh the most dissolute and depraved among all the families of men. And from his twelfth to his seventeenth year Runjeet Singh appears, in all these respects, not to have come short of the most dissolute of his subjects and countrymen. Runjeet Singh was yet in the midst of his career of vice, when Shah Mahommed, from Cabul, broke in upon the Punjaub with a powerful army. Chief after chief went down before him ; and Runjeet, among others, fled from his home and his government. But in his case, misfortune appears to have operated beneficially. He awoke, as it were, to a sense of his proper duties, and forthwith devoted himself to the management of public affairs, and, in due time, to the aggrandizement of his Missul. He could not, indeed, offer to Shah Mahommed resistance in the field. His military strength was broken, and himself a fugitive; but he managed to ingratiate himself into the good graces of the Aff. ghan, and gathered up, by little and little, the fragments of his principality. At last, when Mahommed, after his insane march upon Delhi, returned in 1798, if not defeated, at all events baffled, to his own land, Runjeet contrived to lay the victor under an obligation, and made the most of it. While crossing the Indus, eight or ten of the Affghan guns were upset, and sank into the river. There was no time to raise them, for Persia was up, and the Doorannee empire—very imperfectly consolidated, at the best—could not be exposed to invasion in any of its faces without imminent hazard. Whereupon, Mahommed commissioned his friend Runjeet to recover and send him back his artillery; and Runjeet obtained, as the reward of his service, a grant of Lahore. Let us do the old Lion justice. He raised the guns—if we recollect right, twelve in number—and retaining only four for his own use, sent the other eight to Peshawur. Having thus tasted the sweets of command, and feeling the growth of ambition within him, Runjeet proceeded, with equal boldness and address, to extend the limits of his empire. Sometimes by a skilful diplomacy, sometimes by violence, he gained an ascendency over his neighbors, till both in the Punjaub and in the territories east of the Sutlej they paid him tribute. So early as 1802 he had assumed a commanding position among the Sikh sirdars, and appeared nowise disposed to rest contented with it; and the dissensions which soon after arose in the royal family of Cabul presented an opening to his spirit of enterprise, of which it took immediate advantage. He marched into Mooltan, and though unsuccessful at first, ceased not to renew his attempts till he had subdued it. Eastward and northward, likewise, his victorious banners were borne; and he was looking with atovetous eye upon the provinces beyond the Indus, when, in 1805, the irruption of the Mahrattas, bringing Lord Lake and an English army in their train, recalled him. The part which Runjeet was now required to play proved both difficult and delicate. His respect for the power of England would have led him to refuse an asylum to the Mahrattas, had not the religious prejudices of his subjects, and in some sort his own, fallen into the oppo
site scale; and how to make the balance hang evenly, puzzled him much. He managed matters, however, with consummate address. Affecting good will to both parties, and seeking only to reconcile them, he managed to get rid of both without a collision, and marked his delight at their departure by committing such fearful excesses, in the course of the great religious festival of the Hoolee, that for four months he was not able to mount his horse. The same of Runjeet Singh was now spread throughout the whole of the country of the five rivers; and most of the chiefs having become his tributaries, the Missuls, or tribes, were absorbed and consolidated into a kingdom. He aspired next, at the subjugation of the sirdars, to the left of the Sutlej, and gave out that the Jumna was the proper line of demarkation between his dominions and those of the English. But he had not pushed his conquests far (though wherever he went Wictory followed in his footsteps), ere the chiefs sent to implore the protection of the British government; and, in 1807, Mr., now Lord Metcalfe, set out upon the mission, which first established between the Sikhs and ourselves specific relations. At first, Runjeet exhibited little disposition to listen to the counsels of moderation which the English envoy conveyed to him. He was in the full tide of conquest, and conquerors are seldom willing to stop in their career and to go backwards. But Runjeet was too prudent to hold otherwise than in profound respect a power which, in half a century, had supplanted that of the Mogul, and become masters of the very empire where, at first, its representatives had craved for leave to carry on trade, and submitted to all manner of contumelies and insults for the purpose of securing it. Moreover, an event occurred in the heart of his camp, which gave the Sikh monarch a very exalted opinion of the qualities of the Company's toops. Mr. Metcalfe was attended in his mission by an escort of Sepoys, two or three companies of a regiment of infantry, and, either by accident or designedly, the soldiers composing them were Mussulmans. The season of a Mussulman festival came round while the envoy's tents were pitched in Runjeet's camp; and the Sepoys, attending to the requirements of their religion, proceeded to keep the feast as their law directed. The proceeding gave mortal offence to the Sikhs, who, being lashed to fury by the declamations of some bigoted priests, seized their arms and attacked the mission camp. Nothing could exceed the discipline and good conduct of the guard. They formed, met the assailants, and, after a sharp encounter, drove them back with loss, though the numbers which acted directly against them could not fall short of 2000 or 3000. Runjeet Singh was an eye-witness to the battle, and the impression which it made upon him operated beyond the period when, with some difficulty, he caused the tumult to cease. Beyond all question the proof which he semed to have received of the immeasurable superiority of English disciplined troops over his own irregular levies, induced Runjeet to listen with a more favorable ear to the remonstrance of the envoy. He declined, indeed, to relinquish the conquests which he had actually achieved, and seemed loth to come under any engagement never to push them farther. But when a British army, under Colonel Ochterlony, took the field, and advanced from Delhi for the avowed purpose of supporting the arguments of the minister, Ruujeet became convinced , that they were unanswerable. One by one his garrisons withdrew from the posts of which he had put them in occupation, while the English advanced, and established themselves in force at Umbala. It is marvellous how much weight a few batteries of nine-pounders, especially if bayonets and sabres in adequate numbers be beside them, carry in the controversies of nations. Runjeet admitted, at length, that the Sutlej, not the Jumna, would make the best boundary on the south-eastern part of his dominions; and, on the 25th of April, 1809, a treaty was ratified on both sides, of which it is not necessary to give in this place more than the substance. The treaty in question determined, 1. That there should be perpetual amity between the British government in India and the court and nation of his highness Maha Rajah Runjeet Singh; that the British and Sikh nations should deal with each other on terms of reciprocal good-will; that the former should never interfere with the proceedings of the latter, so long as they confined themselves to the north-west bank of the Sutlej. 2. In return for this the Maha Rajah agreed to maintain no more troops on the left of the Sutlej than should be absolutely necessary for self-defence; and to abstain from all encroachments on the
rights of the chiefs, whom the British government had taken under its protection. 3. That the slightest violation of the engagements thus entered into on both sides with good faith, should put an end to the treaty, whether the provocation came from the Sikhs or from the English. Having arranged this important business, the British Minister, with his escort, withdrew; and Runjeet falling back behind the Sulej, a proclamation was, by authority of the governor-general, put forth for the guidance of the protected chiefs. The document in question explained, “That the territories of Terhend and Matooa (for such was the designation assumed by the Sikhs of Puteeala, Naba, Keend, and Kykul) being taken under British protection, Runjeet Singh was prohibited and had agreed not to interfere, after the 6th of May, 1809, in any way with the people or their ruler. At the same time the British government set up no claim to supremacy or rule. It demanded no tribute, nor any other mark of dependence, but lest the chiefs at liberty to exercise, each within the limits of his own dominions, plenary authority as heretofore. The chiefs, on the other hand, were required to facilitate, by
every means in their power, the movements'
of such British troops as might, from time to time, be employed in insuring to them and their subjects invasion from the Punjaub. Moreover, in the event of an invasion actually taking place, the chiefs were informed that the British government would expect them to join the British army, with as many armed followers as they might respectively be able to muster. Again, certain posts, and among others Loodiana, were surrendered to the English, in order that garrisons being stationed there, the means might be at hand of overawing the Punjaubees, and a base of operations, in the event of war, established. The protected chiefs were to grant free egress from these posts, and ingress, to all merchants and others passing to and fro on their lawful business; and were not to impose any tribute on horses while proceeding through their territories for the purpose of being used by the British cavalry. Finally, the protecting power claimed the right to decide in all questions of disputed succession, and declared itself entitled to occupy in the event of a failure of rightful heirs. It does not appear that against the different clauses of this proclamation any remonstrance was, from any quarter, sent in; and when in process of time, one or more reigning members became extinct, the sovereignty over their possessions passed into our hands; no one presuming to deny the justice of an arrangement which, among a people where the privilege of adoption is never conceded, is both, by rich and poor, admitted to be legitimate. Shut out, by these means, from schemes of conquest on one side of the Sutlej, Runjeet Singh forthwith devoted his energies to the extension and consolidation of his power on the other; and the better to insure its permanency, he began in this same year, 1809, to regiment, and in some sort discipline his troops, after the European fashion. His admiration of Mr. Metcalfe's body-guard led him into this; and though he employed to accomplish his purpose only deserters from the English native regiments, with Hindus, who had served and earned their pensions, the progress which his men made was very creditable. His battalions of foot he fixed at 400 rank and file each. He had likewise his regular, as well as irregular cavalry; while his artillery he placed under a distinct command, and took infinite pains to increase both its weight and its efficiency. Thus supported, he soon made himself master of the whole of the Punjaub ; and renewed, with greater success than formerly, the invasion of Mooltan; while events were already in progress at Cabul, and throughout the extent of the Doorannee empire, which opened for him further and not less important conquests elsewhere. In 1809, Shah Sujah-ool-Mulk, our unhappy puppet of 1839, was driven from his throne. In 1817 he sought shelter at Lahore, where Runjeet, under circumstances of peculiar cruelty and wrong, forced him to give up the Koh-i-noor, the largest diamond in the world. This done, he marched an army into Kashmere, of which, though repulsed at the beginning, he succeeded, in the course of time, in making himself master. Mooltan also was effectually subdued; and, in 1818, partly by guile, partly by hard fighting, Peshawur fell into his hands. Whithersoever he went, in short, victory attended him ; not always in the first instance, nor without frequent reverses; but always crowning his efforts in the end, except when he came in contact with the English. And this he did in 1819, under circumstances of which, perhaps, he might have had some reason to complain, had he not been as far-sighted in
his views of policy as he was energetic in war. It happened that one of the protected chiefs, whose residence and capital lay on the left of the Sutlej, had estates or territories from which he drew rents, on the right bank of the river. Runjeet, interpreting his treaty with us somewhat favorably for himself, demanded tribute from this rajah for the lands which he held north-west of the boundary; and the tribute not being immediately paid, he sent an armed force to compel it. The Rajah complained to the protecting power, and a British corps took the field. Runjeet had no wish to force on a war with England; he therefore ordered his armed collectors to retire from the disputed territory, and sacrifice the tribute. It was in the month of March, 1822, that a couple of European military adventurers presented themselves, for the first time, at the durbar of the Maha Rajah. These were M.M. Ventura and Allard ; the former an Italian, the latter a Frenchman by birth, but both officers who had served with distinction in the French army under Napoleon. M. Ventura had obtained the rank of colonel of infantry, M. Allard a similar rank in the cavalry ; and both had fought in many battles, including the last, and, to the empire, the most fatal of them all, the great fight at Waterloo. Seeing their fortunes marred in Europe, they sought employment in Persia; there they do not seem to have been very well treated, nor much to have improved the state of the shah's army. But however this may be, they grew weary of the sort of life which they led at Tehran, and making their way through Afghanistan, they came to Lahore, and desired to enter into the service of the king. Runjeet appears to have been suspicious, at the outset, of their motives. IIe could not understand either their position or their views; and the Sikhs being a jealous and prejudiced people, perhaps he might not feel that it would be altogether safe to take them into his confidence. He proceeded, therefore, with great caution; and getting them to write in French a little statement of their past career and future purposes, he sent it to parties in Loodiana, whom he could trust, and got it faithfully translated. The experiment seemed to satisfy him. He took them at once into his service, as military instructors; and, committing his infantry to the one, and his cavalry to the other, saw with equal wonder and admiration, the rapid progress which both arms made in their knowledge of mil
itary movements and exercises. By and by another French gentleman, M. Court, who had been well educated in the Polytechnic School, arrived ; and he, on the recommendation of his predecessors, undertook the training of the Sikh artillery. We need not stop to explain what remarkable progress the Sikhs make under their European teachers. Moreover others, such as M. Avitabile, came ; and the result of their combined efforts was to give to the Maha Rajah an army, before which none throughout the East, except that of England, could stand. Of the exact amount, in point of numbers, to which it was raised, we cannot speak with accuracy; but this much is certain, that Sir John Kean, on his return from Cabul, reviewed about 40,000 of them; and declared in London that he had seldom looked upon a finer body of men, or inspected a cavalry or an artillery better mounted, equipped, and worked even in Europe. If we take the amount of Runjeet's force, when it stood the highest, at 150,000 of all arms, we shall probably not go much beyond the mark. He himself called it 200,000 regular and irregular; the former consisting of disciplined infantry, the latter of matchlock men, fantastically dressed according to their own taste. His regular cavalry, about 15,000 strong, carried swords, carabines, and some of them lances; wearing casques, or steel helmets, with shawls wrapped round them; and armor over their quilted jackets, either mail or cuirasses. The artillery cannot be said to have been formed into a distinct corps; for though it numbered 400 pieces, there were but 4000 gunners drilled to use them, the working of each piece being entrusted to the regiment to which it was attached. All accounts unite, however, in describing the guns as excellent; and the skill of the gunners, whether with shot or shell, as highly creditable. The muskets and bayonets with which the regular infantry were armed, come, like their cannon, from the great foundry of Lahore. They are much inferior to those in use with European armies; and the troops that wield them are described by Mr. Osborne and others, as slow in their manner of working. It may be so as far as parade manoeuvres are concerned, but the Sikhs have shown themselves rapid marchers, and so they will again in the event of a prolongation of the war, which the bloody battles of Mootkee and Ferozeshah seem only to have begun.
Moreover, their capability of sustaining fatigue is great. Long of limb, and thin and spare in their figures, they accomplish marches which, in respect to their extent, would sorely try an Englishman. They have repeatedly compassed 300 miles in eleven days, a feat seldom surpassed even in a temperate climate, and gigantic where the thermometer stands at 112° in the shade.
From the ratification of the treaty in 1809 up to 1819 there was little or no direct or diplomatic intercourse between the supreme government and the court of Lahore. At the latter of these dates Sir Alexander Burns arrived at Runjeet's durbar, bringing with him, as a gift from the princeregent, four enormous dray-horses, and having carried back some valuable information to Calcutta, was again in 1831 employed on a similar errand, and the move was followed up not long afterwards by a personal interview between the Maha Rajah and the Governor-general. It took place at Ruper, and ended in a solemn renewal of the engagements of 1809, of which, having some notable plans under consideration, Runjeet contrived in due time to obtain the written minutes. The next thing heard of him was that he had assembled a large army and was about to march into Scinde. And very much surprised was he when the British government made him aware that no such scheme of conquest could be permitted; and that if he ventured to cross the line that separated his present dominions from those of the Ameers, an army from Bombay would forthwith compel him to return.
Runjeet Singh was very indignant on receiving this announcement. He contrived, however, though not without sending the British envoy away, to hide his chagrin, and being as prudent as he was bold, yielded with a good grace where resistance seemed to be hopeless. And partly, perhaps, because his conduct on the occasion was appreciated, partly because his good will was worth more than the cost, Lord Auckland, in the treaty of 1838, secured to him for ever the province swhich he had wrested from the Affghans. Nevertheless, it is now well understood that his chiefs looked with much disfavor on his acquiescence in the policy of England at that time, and scarcely had he paid Nature's great debt ere the hostile feeling which the natives cherished towards the English connexion showed itself.