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THE BALL AT NEWCASTLE>BURNING OF WidowS ALIVE
TO THE LADIES OF NORTHUMBERLAND.
I see your
Mothers, Wives, and DAUGHTERS !--For in all these hallowed and endearing relations, would I ask for a moment's attention of that sex whose ear was never yet deaf to the calls of humanity--whose eye never yet refused the tear of sympathy for the helpless orphan and the widow ; I have myself, the happiness to be a husband and a father ; and feeling, therefore, the full force of the sacred relations in which we all stand towards parents, partners, and offspring, I believe that I shall not ask your attention in vain; more especially as I now address you, at the moment of my reaching home, after having been a participator in the gaieties to which you lent all your influence, and over which you spread all your
blandishments, in the splendid Assembly-room of your chief city, surrounded by all the leading families of the county of Northumberland.
It would seem, at first sight, to be a doubtful eulogy to say, that the very excess of the delight which seemed to animate all hearts, and to diffuse an additional charm over every countenance, was itself
the source of, to me at least, very deep and thrilling horrors. Yet, so it was. From the mazy labyrinth of the joyous dance, and from the full tide of harmony that poured its lengthened strain along, I was transported, in imagination, to the banks of the Ganges, where, at the very moment, perhaps, in which you were thus basking in the meridian spleudour of enjoyment, the funeral pile was preparing, the flames were actually kindling, and discordant yells were drowning the cries of the murdered victims then expiring amid all the horrors of protracted torture on the altars of idolatrous immolation.
Whilst you read this sentence, I see your bosoms swell with sympathy; eyes grow dim with pity; and I hear your anxious and quick-beating hearts ask,
Who are these unhappy sufferers ? Sball I tell you? They are women mothers—widows. Nay, they are among the highest born, the noblest, the most delicate, the most lovely, the most honourable, and most faithful of their sex.
The herafdric antiquity of the proudest house in England dwindles into insignificance before the venerable ancestry of the families of Hindoostan. The highest born aiaong us can produce no roll of pedigree like theirs. The fairest form, the brightest eye, the softest lips that England may boast, do not surpass the splendid beauties which Asiatic courts contain. Even those among you the most renowned for grace and elegance, might admit as your compeers, in all that constitute your attractions, the lovely daughters of the East, the offspring of Kings and Emperors, whose gorgeous halls and palaces were once as lustrous and as splendid as your
Shall I add another claim to the long list already enumerated? They are our fellow-subjects, and as much the inhabitants of the King of England's dominions as if their baronial castles stood upon the banks of the Tyne and the Tees. Of these faithful wives, fond mothers, highly born, lovely, and nursed in the lap of tenderest delicacy, the appalling number of more than SEVEN THOUSAND have been put to death, by the most frightful of all tortures, in the brief space of ten years! The fires that scorch their delicate frames, that crack their sinews, burst their eye-balls, sear their brains, and burn their hearts to cinders, are never extinguished ! Between the rising and setting sun, two victims, on an average, perish daily! The smoke is for ever blackening the surrounding atmosphere! Do you ask where this most gloomy of all horrors prevails ? Let your flesh creep with terror ;
your cheeks be alternately flushed with indignation, and grow pallid with shame ; and let your lips tremble with fear, while you pronounce the words—IN BRITISH INDIA! Yes! where you perhaps have husbands, fathers, brothers; if not, where you at least have a voice ; for, who, of any rank, is there in England, that is destitute of influence over those who sit in her councils ? And who is there possessed of influence that does not bend before your powerful sway?
As ENGLISH Ladies, then, than whom none stand higher in the scale of excel
lence, let me conjure you by every tie that you regard as sacred, to think of this. Pause for a moment in your bright and gay career, to ask how many young and lovely widows have perished in the devouring flame, since we met together for enjoyment last!!! Think while your happy lips are breathing forth the sounds of harmony and joy, how many Indian widows are giving forth their last faint shriek, in all the gasping agonies of death. Demand of your own hearts, whether, while they beat in bosoms formed for pity, as well as pleasure, they ought not to give one moment, at least, to think of those for whom the torture is preparing. And, whether the song, the dance, the pageant, or the revel, demand your attention vext, let me beseech you to consider whether the song would not be sweeier, the dance more joyous, the pageant richer, and the revel gayer far, if you could cheer your hearts with the reflection, that before you abandoned yourselves to either, you had exerted that influence which you all possess, to extinguish the destroying Hames that now wrap in their fiery embraces, SEVEN HUNDRED VICTIMS of your own sex and country, every year.
I know that this reflection would afford you a pleasure of the most exquisite kind. And, believing this, let me confess that, at the very moment of your retiring from the ball, I was strongly tempted (and feeling thus, why shouid I scruple to avow it) to appeal to your assembled influence there upon the spot be. fore you repaired to rest. My heart was almost bursting with the thought, and the words hung impatiently upon my tongue. Strong in the purity of my motive, I know I should not have faultered; but the possibility that some misconstruction might have been placed on that motive, and that the end might therefore be protracted, made me pause for re-consideration. I now repent, as I have done a thousand times before, that I did not follow the first virtuous impulse of an enthusiastic, but I hope, an honourable zeal, instead of suffering the cold dictates of prudential fear to awe me from my purpose. The only way in which I can show the sincerity of my repentance, and atone for the omission, is to address you now, before I lay my own head upon my pillow, and send it through the channel of the press; as your dispersion to your various homes renders this the only probable medium through which I can now reach your ears, and when I have done this, I shall not sleep less sweetly, nor dream of less happy days.
The gentlemen of Newcastle-your fathers, husbands, brothers, are at the present moment appealed to, and invited to direct their regards to India, to encourage what they may there find worthy, to arrest the further progress of that which they think should be stayed. Need I say how you can quicken the lagging resolutions, and kindle the latent spark? Whose tongue is so persuasive, whose eye so encouraging, whose praise so cheering as that of those we love ?
Oh! ne'er to man has pitying Heaven,
MEETINGS RESPECTING THE EAST-INDIA MONOPOLY. In addition to the meetfngs which have taken place at Stockton and Darlington, on the subject of the East-India Monopoly, it appears Mr. Buckingham's Lectures at Sunderland, Shields, and Newcastle, have produced an equally powerful effect. At Newcastle, a public meeting, by requisition to the mayor, signed by nearly all the leading merchants of the City, has been fixed for the 1st of December, to be closed by a public dinner to Mr. Buckingham, in testimony of the sense entertained of his services. At Sunderland, a similar public meeting has been fixed for the following day, December 2 ; and at Shields, an East-India Association had been already formed, according to the following report given of it in the papers :
On Saturday evening, the 24th, Mr. Buckingham gave his last lecture at the Assembly Room of the Town, North Shields, on the evils of the East-India Monopoly, and more especially on the injury sustained by the shipping interests of the country generally, by the exclusion of all English ships from the ports of China, into which foreigners of every other nation enter freely.
This lecture was attended by an audience of more than two hundred ladies and gentlemen, including many from South Shields, and the neighbouring country. It was extremely animated throughout, and received with the strongest and most frequent marks of approbation.
At its close, the company present, deeply impressed with the necessity of some early demonstration of their interest in the subject, resolved themselves into a meeting for the purpose, and on the motion of Mr. Henry Metcalfe, Mr. Robert Spence was called to the chair. The object of this proceeding was then explained, as arising out of a general desire that this opportunity should be embraced of embodying the general sense of the company then present, as to the propriety of some. immediate steps being taken by the towns of North and South Shields, relative to. the approaching termination of the East India Company's Charter.
Mr. John Finley then rose, and in a speech of great moderation, good sense, and gentlemanly feeling, prefaced the resolutions he was about to propose. These being read, expressed the sense of the meeting to be, that among the various causes of the depression of the shipping interests of the kingdom, there was none more powerful than the existing Monopoly of the East India Company, by which British subjects were excluded from the interior of India, and British ships from the ports of China, though foreigners were free to visit both without license or limitation. It further resolved, that an association should be immediately formed, to include the resident inhabitants of North and South Shields, to be called The Shields East-India Association,' and a list of about thirty names was read over, of the principal shipowners, merchants, and professional gentlemen of each town, who had already consented to form a Committee, with power to add to the numbers, for the purpose of organizing this association, corresponding with kindred bodies in other parts of the kingdom, and forwarding the general object. These resolutions were seconded respectively by Mr. Fenwick, and Mr. Henry Dale; and on being put to the vote from the chair, were carried by acclamation.
The Chairman then proposed, that the cordial thanks of the Meeting should be given to Mr. Buckingham, for the important and luminous details which he had given of the state of the Eastern World generally, and of India and China in particular. This was seconded by three or four gentlemen, who all rose at the same time; and on being put to the vote, was carried by the lifting up of every arm in the
Mr. Buckingham, evidently affected at this marked demonstration of sympathy and respect, returned thanks to the Meeting, in terms that sufficiently betokened the intense satisfaction at this happy close of his labours among them, where the great object of his desire—the formation of an association-had been effected, before he had even quitted the room. And after this closing address, such was the enthusiasm manifested, that scarcely an individual, man, woman, or child, —for the audience included several young gentlemen of twelve or fourteen years of age-who did not come to ask a parting shake of the hand, and express individually to Mr. Buckingham, the high gratification which his Lectures had afforded them.
The Meeting, which assembled at seven, did not terminate till nearly twelve o'clock.
The towns of Blackburn, Preston, and several others in the manufacturing districts, had given Mr. Buckingham invitations to visit them, for the purpose of delivering his Lectures.
BENGAL REGIMENTAL PAY.
[In turning over the Bengal Newspapers, which, as was to be expected, are much occupied with the reduction of the allowances of the Army, we have been struck with the reasonings contained in a letter signed ' ProBus,' addressed to the Editor of “The Bengal Hurkaru and Chronicle,' which, as it appears to put the matter in a different and stronger light than that in which most of the journals have regarded it, and, moreover, quotes authorities not known, or, perhaps, suspected, we think we shall do an acceptable service in giving it entire.- Ed.]
To the Editor of The Bengal Hurkaru and Chronicle.' SIR --In the tone of the several recent articles in the Bombay Courier upon the curtailment of Bengal Regimental Pay, there is something which seems to insinuate that the satisfaction expressed by the Editor is shared by the officers of that Presidency.
Mankind in general are sufficiently apt to rejoice in seeing their more prosperous fellows humbled to their own level; but military men are, or are suppose to be, more high minded and less prone to this little creditable feeling than most other classes. The Madras Army petitioned their Employers to raise their pay to equality with ours; I never heard that they tacked to that petition the alternative request that our condition might be reduced to the level of theirs ! We may surely suppose, for the honor of the Company's Service, that the Bombay Editor's hardly concealed satisfaction at our misfortunes, is all his own?
It is notoriously vain to endeavour to convince a man against his will. That the Bombay Editor is not willing to be convinced, any one may satisfy himself by notiug the care with which the argument is evaded on which rests the main strength of our case; namely, that the reduction of either pay or pension, as stipulated in 1796, is an infringement of the terms on which we stand engaged to render good service and allegiance due. Instead of this plain, simple, and universally intelligible position, the sophist of Bombay affects to believe that our complaints rest on no better foundation than that afforded by the defence of our higher pay, so zealously set forth in the Honourable Court's famous reply to the Madras memorial in 1810. But the cogent reasoning of that Epistle, (published by order at all the Presidencies,) was only adopted and adduced by us to shew that there was a timeand that not so very remote-when our Honorable Masters did think as we do think ; and did stoutly maintain, moreover, the claims of their various classes of servants to the terms on which they severally engaged to serve, and to no better
Our cause would be weak indeed, compared with what it is, if it's only foundation were this implied acknowledgment in a letter, of our title to our allows ances as they then stood.
If the reasonings in the Bombay Courier originate in ignorance of the true grounds, on which our claim, as servants, to undisturbed enjoyment of our wages, has been vindicated by five successive Governors General or Commanders in Chief, the Editor will perhaps feel thankful for an explanation of those grounds. If not, being convinced against his will, he may possibly be of the same opinion still !
To avoid delicate and still painful topics, though by this time they are become the legitimate province of history, I shall no further allude to the ferment of 1794, than to recommend that the Bombay Editor do borrow from some ancient Company's Officer who may be a dweller at that Presidency, a certain goodly printed quarto, yclept proceedings of the London Delegates in 1795, which book in all probability he will find well scribbled on the margins with curious notes and names, and other matters of contemporary history. He will find in that scarce volume tolerably full details of agitations' alluded to, and of the negociations of a certain Lieutenant SALMOND and others, with the Honourable Court of Directors in the first instance, and subsequently, with two Personages called
WILLIAM Pitt and Henry Dundas, who thought fit to take the matter in their own hands, and to settle all disputes fully and finally ; being somewhat stimulated thereto, by notices of an eventual motion in the House of Commons by General Joseph Smith, a Company's Officer, who was designed for the Chief Command in India by the Prince of Wales's Party, if they had come into power under the Regency of 1788.
The result of all this negociation was a complete re-organization of the whole Indian army, in respect to Rank, Pay, and Pension ; and the new scheme was promulgated to the army in Bengal, in the shape of a copious letter from the Honourable Court, dated 15th January, 1796, which is to be found in Graces' Code, or in the rare quarto above quoted.
This celebrated letter contained a stipulation that after 25 years' service including three years furlough on British pay, every Officer might retire on the British pay of his regimental rank. It also contained a table of Indian pay and allowances for every regimental Grade, and for Major Generals on the staff.
There were three classes of allowances according to position, for Regimental officers ; the distinct principle being, Ist, that every one was entitled to British pay, and gratuity, and half batta, and quarters at the public charge, which included water and sweeping, &c.
2d. That where quarters were not supplied, additional half batta should be given, in lieu.
3d. That officers on foreign service, or out of the Honourable Company's own provinces (extending then from Midnapore and Chittagong to the Caramnassa) should receive double full batta.
Besides these provisions, Officers when ordered to move, were in all cases to be furnished with tents and the requisite cattle, and servants at the public expence, or with a proportionate fixed contract allowance to supply themselves. If ordered to move by water they were further provided with boats, or an allowance in lieu.
Whether the above stipulations as to rank-pay on retirement-pay on furloughpay in India—were considered by the Hon. Court, and by His Majesty's Ministers, as of the nature of a fixed pact between master and servant-as the terms on which the former engaged to employ the latter for a term of not less than 22 years actual work, in a foreign, unhealthy, and far distant country, I leave the Editor of the Bombay Courier to judge, by the solemnity of the peroration contained in the following paragraph of the above quoted letter, 15th January, 1796 :
“ Although the great and PERMANENT advantages which our officers must generally derive from this arrangement are obvious, we yet are aware that there may be some few whose immediate allowances may suffer TEMPORARY reduction by it. Such temporury reduction can be but of little consequence when compared to the far greater benefits in point of prospect; yet when the allowances drawn by any of our officers are materially reduced, and that you conceive they should have relief, we authorize you to give them that relief.”
..We are aware that in a subject of so extensive and complicated a nature, notwithstanding all the pains we have bestowed on it, errors may have crept into the preceding arrangements, and if any such shall be stated to you, you will transmit them to us with your observations upon them. At the same time, as the subject has undergone some consideration, and the expenses of our military establishments will thereby be greatly increased, we trust you will not be harassed with unfounded applications. Our military servants, of every rank, will consider with candour the great and important variation which is now made in the service of our army in India ; and if any one or more individuals should feel, that in any respect their own personal situations are not exactly what they might wish, they ought to balance the whole together, and recollect how much, not only each individual in other respects, but the whole service in general, has gained in point of credit, emoluments, and respectability, by the arrangements we have now made.'
It is true, Sir, that sundry alterations have taken place in this Pay code since 1796 : but only of these—the curtailment of general officers' pay by one third