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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Mulraj called upon the Sikhs to rise against the English


people of England, though the stirring events on the Continent were brought home to them by so many eminent refugees seeking shelter in their land, held the issues at stake too well settled by their own great revolution of 1649 to find a sufficient incentive for another such movement. The popularity of the young Queen doubtless contributed its share to the stability of the government. The renewed demonstrations of the Chartists in London were merely co-incident with the revolutionary demonstrations abroad. Still the influence of contemporaneous events in Europe was strong enough to frighten Parliament into passing an act which made the utterance of seditious speeches a felony. A popular insurrection in Tipperary, Ireland, was made the pretext for once more suspending the habeas corpus act in Ireland. By the end of July the revolt was put down. Its leaders, John Mitchell, O'Brien and others were apprehended and tried in court for high treason. They were sentenced to death, but the Queen mitigated their sentences to transportation. A calming effect on Ireland was produced by the personal visit of the young Queen and her royal consort to Ireland. When she held her court at Dublin in midsummer, the most poignant causes for discontent were lost sight of amid wild demonstrations of apparently universal loyalty. A constitution on home rule principles was proclaimed in West Australia. In South Africa, Sir Harry Smith, the Governor of Cape Colony, after his successful termination of a
fourth war with the Kaffirs, proclaimed the authority of Great Britain over the Orange River territory. The Boer settlers there under the leadership of Pretorius found themselves unable to maintain their independence. The adjoining lands of the Basutos were declared under British protectorate.

[Sidenote: Massacre of Multan]

[Sidenote: Punjab up in arms]

[Sidenote: Sikhs and Afghans join revolt]

Early in the year, Lord Dalhousie had relieved Lord Hardinge as Governor-General of India. Up to that time the British occupation of the Punjab had continued without material change. Now a new fiscal system was to be introduced there to settle up the arrears of Viceroy Mulraj of Multan. In April, Vance Agnew, a British commissioner, with a military escort of three hundred men, arrived at Multan to occupy the citadel as surety for these arrears. The British officers were admitted to the city, but as they emerged from the citadel they were attacked, and all the Englishmen were massacred. Mulraj called upon the Sikhs to rise against the English. A force of seven thousand British troops were sent against Multan. When they reached the city all the native troops turned against them. The whole of the Punjab revolted and a holy war was proclaimed against England. Lord Dalhousie rose to the occasion. As he left Bengal to go to the front he delivered a characteristic speech containing the historic declaration: "Unwarned by precedent, uninfluenced by example, the Sikh nation have called for war. On my word, sirs, they shall have it with vengeance!" The Sikh garrisons of Peshawar joined in the revolt, which was quickly taken up by the Afghans. George Lawrence, the British Resident there, was carried off as a prisoner. In the fort of Attock, Captain Herbert held out for a while, but in the end was forced to succumb. The first general engagement between Lord Gough and Sagr Singh at Ramluggar, late in the year, resulted in a drawn battle. On both sides reinforcements were hurried up wherewith to wage the coming year's campaign.

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