William Makepeace Thackeray
Part 4 out of 9
"I can't describe my pore gals hagny juring our ride. She sat in
the carridge as silent as a milestone, and as madd as a march Air.
When we got to Gloster she sprang hout of it as wild as a Tigris,
and rusht to the station, up to the fatle Bench.
"'My child, my child,' shreex she, in a hoss, hot voice. 'Where's
my infant? a little bewtifle child, with blue eyes,--dear Mr.
Policeman, give it me--a thousand guineas for it.'
"'Faix, Mam,' says the man, a Hirishman, 'and the divvle a babby
have I seen this day except thirteen of my own--and you're welcome
to any one of THEM, and kindly.'
"'As if HIS babby was equal to ours,' as my darling Mary Hann said,
afterwards. All the station was scrouging round us by this time--
pawters & clarx and refreshmint people and all. 'What's this year
row about that there babby?' at last says the Inspector, stepping
hup. I thought my wife was going to jump into his harms. 'Have
you got him?' says she.
"'Was it a child in a blue cloak?' says he.
"'And blue eyse!' says my wife.
"'I put a label on him and sent him on to Bristol; he's there by
this time. The Guard of the Mail took him and put him into a
letter-box,' says he: 'he went 20 minutes ago. We found him on the
broad gauge line, and sent him on by it, in course,' says he. 'And
it'll be a caution to you, young woman, for the future, to label
your children along with the rest of your luggage.'
"If my piguniary means had been such as ONCE they was, you may
emadgine I'd have ad a speshle train and been hoff like smoak. As
it was, we was obliged to wait 4 mortial hours for the next train
(4 ears they seemed to us), and then away we went.
"'My boy! my little boy!' says poor choking Mary Hann, when we got
there. 'A parcel in a blue cloak?' says the man. 'No body claimed
him here, and so we sent him back by the mail. An Irish nurse here
gave him some supper, and he's at Paddington by this time. Yes,'
says he, looking at the clock, 'he's been there these ten minutes.'
"But seeing my poor wife's distracted histarricle state, this good-
naterd man says, 'I think, my dear, there's a way to ease your
mind. We'll know in five minutes how he is.'
"'Sir,' says she, 'don't make sport of me.'
"'No, my dear, we'll TELEGRAPH him.'
"And he began hopparating on that singlar and ingenus elecktricle
inwention, which aniliates time, and carries intellagence in the
twinkling of a peg-post.
"'I'll ask,' says he, 'for child marked G. W. 273.'
"Back comes the telegraph with the sign, 'All right.'
"'Ask what he's doing, sir,' says my wife, quite amazed. Back
comes the answer in a Jiffy--
"'C. R. Y. I. N. G.'
"This caused all the bystanders to laugh excep my pore Mary Hann,
who pull'd a very sad face.
"The good-naterd feller presently said, 'he'd have another trile;'
and what d'ye think was the answer? I'm blest if it wasn't--
"'P. A. P.'
"He was eating pap! There's for you--there's a rogue for you--
there's a March of Intaleck! Mary Hann smiled now for the fust
time. 'He'll sleep now,' says she. And she sat down with a full
. . . . . .
"If hever that good-naterd Shooperintendent comes to London, HE
need never ask for his skore at the 'Wheel of Fortune Otel,' I
promise you--where me and my wife and James Hangelo now is; and
where only yesterday a gent came in and drew this pictur* of us in
* This refers to an illustrated edition of the work.
"And if they go on breaking gages; and if the child, the most
precious luggidge of the Henglishman, is to be bundled about this
year way, why it won't be for want of warning, both from Professor
Harris, the Commission, and from
"My dear Mr. Punch's obeajent servant,
THE TREMENDOUS ADVENTURES OF MAJOR GAHAGAN.
"TRUTH IS STRANGE, STRANGER THAN FICTION."
I think it but right that in making my appearance before the public
I should at once acquaint them with my titles and name. My card,
as I leave it at the houses of the nobility, my friends, is as
MAJOR GOLIAH O'GRADY GAHAGAN, H.E.I.C.S.,
Commanding Battalion of Irregular Horse,
Seeing, I say, this simple visiting ticket, the world will avoid
any of those awkward mistakes as to my person, which have been so
frequent of late. There has been no end to the blunders regarding
this humble title of mine, and the confusion thereby created. When
I published my volume of poems, for instance, the Morning Post
newspaper remarked "that the Lyrics of the Heart, by Miss Gahagan,
may be ranked among the sweetest flowrets of the present spring
season." The Quarterly Review, commenting upon my Observations on
the Pons Asinorum" (4to. London, 1836), called me "Doctor Gahagan,"
and so on. It was time to put an end to these mistakes, and I have
taken the above simple remedy.
I was urged to it by a very exalted personage. Dining in August
last at the palace of the T-lr-es at Paris, the lovely young Duch-ss
of Orl--ns (who, though she does not speak English, understands
it as well as I do,) said to me in the softest Teutonic, "Lieber
Herr Major, haben sie den Ahmednuggarischen-jager-battalion
gelassen?" "Warum denn?" said I, quite astonished at her R---l
H-----ss's question. The P---cess then spoke of some trifle from
my pen, which was simply signed Goliah Gahagan.
There was, unluckily, a dead silence as H. R. H. put this question.
"Comment donc?" said H. M. Lo-is Ph-l-ppe, looking gravely at Count
Mole; "le cher Major a quitte l'armee! Nicolas donc sera maitre de
l'Inde! "H. M---- and the Pr. M-n-ster pursued their conversation
in a low tone, and left me, as may be imagined in a dreadful state
of confusion. I blushed and stuttered, and murmured out a few
incoherent words to explain--but it would not do--I could not
recover my equanimity during the course of the dinner and while
endeavoring to help an English Duke, my neighbor, to poulet a
l'Austerlitz, fairly sent seven mushrooms and three large greasy
croutes over his whiskers and shirt-frill. Another laugh at my
expense. "Ah! M. le Major," said the Q---- of the B-lg--ns, archly,
"vous n'aurez jamais votre brevet de Colonel." Her M----y's joke
will be better understood when I state that his Grace is the
brother of a Minister.
I am not at liberty to violate the sanctity of private life, by
mentioning the names of the parties concerned in this little
anecdote. I only wish to have it understood that I am a gentleman,
and live at least in DECENT society. Verbum sat.
But to be serious. I am obliged always to write the name of Goliah
in full, to distinguish me from my brother, Gregory Gahagan, who
was also a Major (in the King's service), and whom I killed in a
duel, as the public most likely knows. Poor Greg! a very trivial
dispute was the cause of our quarrel, which never would have
originated but for the similarity of our names. The circumstance
was this: I had been lucky enough to render the Nawaub of Lucknow
some trifling service (in the notorious affair of Choprasjee
Muckjee), and his Highness sent down a gold toothpick-case directed
to Captain G. Gahagan, which I of course thought was for me: my
brother madly claimed it; we fought, and the consequence was, that
in about three minutes he received a slash in the right side (cut
6), which effectually did his business:--he was a good swordsman
enough--I was THE BEST in the universe. The most ridiculous part
of the affair is, that the toothpick-case was his, after all--he
had left it on the Nawaub's table at tiffin. I can't conceive what
madness prompted him to fight about such a paltry bauble; he had
much better have yielded it at once, when he saw I was determined
to have it. From this slight specimen of my adventures, the reader
will perceive that my life has been one of no ordinary interest;
and, in fact, I may say that I have led a more remarkable life than
any man in the service--I have been at more pitched battles, led
more forlorn hopes, had more success among the fair sex, drunk
harder, read more, and been a handsomer man than any officer now
serving her Majesty.
When I at first went to India in 1802, I was a raw cornet of
seventeen, with blazing red hair, six feet four in height, athletic
at all kinds of exercises, owing money to my tailor and everybody
else who would trust me, possessing an Irish brogue, and my full
pay of 120L. a year. I need not say that with all these advantages
I did that which a number of clever fellows have done before me--I
fell in love, and proposed to marry immediately.
But how to overcome the difficulty?--It is true that I loved Julia
Jowler--loved her to madness; but her father intended her for a
Member of Council at least, and not for a beggarly Irish ensign.
It was, however, my fate to make the passage to India (on board of
the "Samuel Snob" East Indiaman, Captain Duffy,) with this lovely
creature, and my misfortune instantaneously to fall in love with
her. We were not out of the Channel before I adored her,
worshipped the deck which she trod upon, kissed a thousand times
the cuddy-chair on which she used to sit. The same madness fell on
every man in the ship. The two mates fought about her at the Cape;
the surgeon, a sober, pious Scotchman, from disappointed affection,
took so dreadfully to drinking as to threaten spontaneous
combustion; and old Colonel Lilywhite, carrying his wife and seven
daughters to Bengal, swore that he would have a divorce from Mrs.
L., and made an attempt at suicide; the captain himself told me,
with tears in his eyes, that he hated his hitherto-adored Mrs.
Duffy, although he had had nineteen children by her.
We used to call her the witch--there was magic in her beauty and in
her voice. I was spell-bound when I looked at her, and stark
staring mad when she looked at me! O lustrous black eyes!--O
glossy night-black ringlets!--O lips!--O dainty frocks of white
muslin!--O tiny kid slippers!--though old and gouty, Gahagan sees
you still! I recollect, off Ascension, she looked at me in her
particular way one day at dinner, just as I happened to be blowing
on a piece of scalding hot green fat. I was stupefied at once--I
thrust the entire morsel (about half a pound) into my mouth. I
made no attempt to swallow, or to masticate it, but left it there
for many minutes, burning, burning! I had no skin to my palate for
seven weeks after, and lived on rice-water during the rest of the
voyage. The anecdote is trivial, but it shows the power of Julia
Jowler over me.
The writers of marine novels have so exhausted the subject of
storms, shipwrecks, mutinies, engagements, sea-sickness, and so
forth, that (although I have experienced each of these in many
varieties) I think it quite unnecessary to recount such trifling
adventures; suffice it to say, that during our five months' trajet,
my mad passion for Julia daily increased; so did the captain's and
the surgeon's; so did Colonel Lilywhite's; so did the doctor's, the
mate's--that of most part of the passengers, and a considerable
number of the crew. For myself, I swore--ensign as I was--I would
win her for my wife; I vowed that I would make her glorious with my
sword--that as soon as I had made a favorable impression on my
commanding officer (which I did not doubt to create), I would lay
open to him the state of my affections, and demand his daughter's
hand. With such sentimental outpourings did our voyage continue
We landed at the Sunderbunds on a grilling hot day in December,
1802, and then for the moment Julia and I separated. She was
carried off to her papa's arms in a palanquin, surrounded by at
least forty hookahbadars; whilst the poor cornet, attended but by
two dandies and a solitary beasty (by which unnatural name these
blackamoors are called), made his way humbly to join the regiment
The --th Regiment of Bengal Cavalry, then under the command of
Lieut.-Colonel Julius Jowler, C.B., was known throughout Asia and
Europe by the proud title of the Bundelcund Invincibles--so great
was its character for bravery, so remarkable were its services in
that delightful district of India. Major Sir George Gutch was next
in command, and Tom Thrupp, as kind a fellow as ever ran a Mahratta
through the body, was second Major. We were on the eve of that
remarkable war which was speedily to spread throughout the whole of
India, to call forth the valor of a Wellesley, and the indomitable
gallantry of a Gahagan; which was illustrated by our victories at
Ahmednuggar (where I was the first over the barricade at the
storming of the Pettah); at Argaum, where I slew with my own sword
twenty-three matchlock-men, and cut a dromedary in two; and by that
terrible day of Assaye, where Wellesley would have been beaten but
for me--me alone: I headed nineteen charges of cavalry, took (aided
by only four men of my own troop) seventeen field-pieces, killing
the scoundrelly French artillerymen; on that day I had eleven
elephants shot under me, and carried away Scindiah's nose-ring with
a pistol-ball. Wellesley is a Duke and a Marshal, I but a simple
Major of Irregulars. Such is fortune and war! But my feelings
carry me away from my narrative, which had better proceed with more
On arriving, I say, at our barracks at Dum Dum, I for the first
time put on the beautiful uniform of the Invincibles: a light blue
swallow-tailed jacket with silver lace and wings, ornamented
with about 3,000 sugar-loaf buttons, rhubarb-colored leather
inexpressibles (tights), and red morocco boots with silver spurs
and tassels, set off to admiration the handsome persons of the
officers of our corps. We wore powder in those days; and a
regulation pigtail of seventeen inches, a brass helmet surrounded
by leopard-skin with a bearskin top and a horsetail feather, gave
the head a fierce and chivalrous appearance, which is far more
easily imagined than described.
Attired in this magnificent costume, I first presented myself
before Colonel Jowler. He was habited in a manner precisely
similar, but not being more than five feet in height, and weighing
at least fifteen stone, the dress he wore did not become him quite
so much as slimmer and taller men. Flanked by his tall Majors,
Thrupp and Gutch, he looked like a stumpy skittle-ball between two
attenuated skittles. The plump little Colonel received me with
vast cordiality, and I speedily became a prime favorite with
himself and the other officers of the corps. Jowler was the most
hospitable of men; and gratifying my appetite and my love together,
I continually partook of his dinners, and feasted on the sweet
presence of Julia.
I can see now, what I would not and could not perceive in those
early days, that this Miss Jowler--on whom I had lavished my first
and warmest love, whom I had endowed with all perfection and
purity--was no better than a little impudent flirt, who played with
my feelings, because during the monotony of a sea-voyage she had no
other toy to play with; and who deserted others for me, and me for
others, just as her whim or her interest might guide her. She had
not been three weeks at head-quarters when half the regiment was in
love with her. Each and all of the candidates had some favor to
boast of, or some encouraging hopes on which to build. It was the
scene of the "Samuel Snob" over again, only heightened in interest
by a number of duels. The following list will give the reader a
notion of some of them:--
1. Cornet Gahagan . . Ensign Hicks, of the Sappers and Miners.
Hicks received a ball in his jaw, and was half choked by a quantity
of carroty whisker forced down his throat with the ball.
2. Capt. Macgillicuddy, B.N.I., . . Cornet Gahagan. I was run
through the body, but the sword passed between the ribs, and
injured me very slightly.
3. Capt. Macgillicuddy, B.N.I., . . Mr. Mulligatawny, B.C.S.,
Deputy-Assistant Vice Sub-Controller of the Boggleywollah Indigo
grounds, Ramgolly branch.
Macgillicuddy should have stuck to sword's-play, and he might have
come off in his second duel as well as in his first; as it was, the
civilian placed a ball and a part of Mac's gold repeater in his
stomach. A remarkable circumstance attended this shot, an account
of which I sent home to the "Philosophical Transactions:" the
surgeon had extracted the ball, and was going off, thinking that
all was well, when the gold repeater struck thirteen in poor
Macgillicuddy's abdomen. I suppose that the works must have been
disarranged in some way by the bullet, for the repeater was one of
Barraud's, never known to fail before, and the circumstance
occurred at SEVEN o'clock.*
* So admirable are the performances of these watches, which will
stand in any climate, that I repeatedly heard poor Macgillicuddy
relate the following fact. The hours, as it is known, count in
Italy from one to twenty-four: the day Mac landed at Naples his
repeater rung the Italian hours, from one to twenty-four; as soon
as he crossed the Alps it only sounded as usual.--G. O'G. G.
I could continue, almost ad infinitum, an account of the wars which
this Helen occasioned, but the above three specimens will, I should
think, satisfy the peaceful reader. I delight not in scenes of
blood, heaven knows, but I was compelled in the course of a few
weeks, and for the sake of this one woman, to fight nine duels
myself, and I know that four times as many more took place
I forgot to say that Jowler's wife was a half-caste woman, who had
been born and bred entirely in India, and whom the Colonel had
married from the house of her mother, a native. There were some
singular rumors abroad regarding this latter lady's history: it was
reported that she was the daughter of a native Rajah, and had been
carried off by a poor English subaltern in Lord Clive's time. The
young man was killed very soon after, and left his child with its
mother. The black Prince forgave his daughter and bequeathed to
her a handsome sum of money. I suppose that it was on this account
that Jowler married Mrs. J., a creature who had not, I do believe,
a Christian name, or a single Christian quality: she was a hideous,
bloated, yellow creature, with a beard, black teeth, and red eyes:
she was fat, lying, ugly, and stingy--she hated and was hated by
all the world, and by her jolly husband as devoutly as by any
other. She did not pass a month in the year with him, but spent
most of her time with her native friends. I wonder how she could
have given birth to so lovely a creature as her daughter. This
woman was of course with the Colonel when Julia arrived, and the
spice of the devil in her daughter's composition was most carefully
nourished and fed by her. If Julia had been a flirt before, she
was a downright jilt now; she set the whole cantonment by the ears;
she made wives jealous and husbands miserable; she caused all those
duels of which I have discoursed already, and yet such was the
fascination of THE WITCH that I still thought her an angel. I made
court to the nasty mother in order to be near the daughter; and I
listened untiringly to Jowler's interminable dull stories, because
I was occupied all the time in watching the graceful movements of
But the trumpet of war was soon ringing in our ears; and on the
battle-field Gahagan is a man! The Bundelcund Invincibles received
orders to march, and Jowler, Hector-like, donned his helmet and
prepared to part from his Andromache. And now arose his
perplexity: what must be done with his daughter, his Julia? He
knew his wife's peculiarities of living, and did not much care to
trust his daughter to her keeping; but in vain he tried to find her
an asylum among the respectable ladies of his regiment. Lady Gutch
offered to receive her, but would have nothing to do with Mrs.
Jowler; the surgeon's wife, Mrs. Sawbone, would have neither mother
nor daughter; there was no help for it, Julia and her mother must
have a house together, and Jowler knew that his wife would fill it
with her odious blackamoor friends.
I could not, however, go forth satisfied to the campaign until I
learned from Julia my fate. I watched twenty opportunities to see
her alone, and wandered about the Colonel's bungalow as an informer
does about a public-house, marking the incomings and the outgoings
of the family, and longing to seize the moment when Miss Jowler,
unbiassed by her mother or her papa, might listen, perhaps, to my
eloquence, and melt at the tale of my love.
But it would not do--old Jowler seemed to have taken all of a
sudden to such a fit of domesticity, that there was no finding him
out of doors, and his rhubarb-colored wife (I believe that her skin
gave the first idea of our regimental breeches), who before had
been gadding ceaselessly abroad, and poking her broad nose into
every menage in the cantonment, stopped faithfully at home with her
spouse. My only chance was to beard the old couple in their den,
and ask them at once for their cub.
So I called one day at tiffin:--old Jowler was always happy to have
my company at this meal; it amused him, he said, to see me drink
Hodgson's pale ale (I drank two hundred and thirty-four dozen the
first year I was in Bengal)--and it was no small piece of fun,
certainly, to see old Mrs. Jowler attack the currie-bhaut;--she was
exactly the color of it, as I have had already the honor to remark,
and she swallowed the mixture with a gusto which was never
equalled, except by my poor friend Dando apropos d'huitres. She
consumed the first three platefuls with a fork and spoon, like a
Christian; but as she warmed to her work, the old hag would throw
away her silver implements, and dragging the dishes towards her, go
to work with her hands, flip the rice into her mouth with her
fingers, and stow away a quantity of eatables sufficient for a
sepoy company. But why do I diverge from the main point of my
Julia, then, Jowler, and Mrs. J. were at luncheon: the dear girl
was in the act to sabler a glass of Hodgson as I entered. "How do
you do, Mr. Gagin?" said the old hag, leeringly. "Eat a bit o'
currie-bhaut,"--and she thrust the dish towards me, securing a heap
as it passed. "What! Gagy my boy, how do, how do?" said the fat
Colonel. "What! run through the body?--got well again--have some
Hodgson--run through your body too!"--and at this, I may say,
coarse joke (alluding to the fact that in these hot climates the
ale oozes out as it were from the pores of the skin) old Jowler
laughed: a host of swarthy chobdars, kitmatgars, sices, consomahs,
and bobbychies laughed too, as they provided me, unasked, with the
grateful fluid. Swallowing six tumblers of it, I paused nervously
for a moment, and then said--
"Bobbachy, consomah, ballybaloo hoga."
The black ruffians took the hint and retired.
"Colonel and Mrs. Jowler," said I solemnly, "we are alone; and you,
Miss Jowler, you are alone too; that is--I mean--I take this
opportunity to--(another glass of ale, if you please)--to express,
once for all, before departing on a dangerous campaign"--(Julia
turned pale)--"before entering, I say, upon a war which may stretch
in the dust my high-raised hopes and me, to express my hopes while
life still remains to me, and to declare in the face of heaven,
earth, and Colonel Jowler, that I love you, Julia!" The Colonel,
astonished, let fall a steel fork, which stuck quivering for some
minutes in the calf of my leg; but I heeded not the paltry
interruption. "Yes, by yon bright heaven," continued I, "I love
you, Julia! I respect my commander, I esteem your excellent and
beauteous mother; tell me, before I leave you, if I may hope for a
return of my affection. Say that you love me, and I will do such
deeds in this coming war as shall make you proud of the name of
The old woman, as I delivered these touching words, stared,
snapped, and ground her teeth, like an enraged monkey. Julia was
now red, now white; the Colonel stretched forward, took the fork
out of the calf of my leg, wiped it, and then seized a bundle of
letters which I had remarked by his side.
"A cornet!" said he, in a voice choking with emotion; "a pitiful,
beggarly Irish cornet aspire to the hand of Julia Jowler! Gag,
Gahagan, are you mad, or laughing at us? Look at these letters,
young man--at these letters, I say--one hundred and twenty-four
epistles from every part of India (not including one from the
Governor-General, and six from his brother, Colonel Wellesley,)--
one hundred and twenty-four proposals for the hand of Miss Jowler!
Cornet Gahagan," he continued, "I wish to think well of you: you
are the bravest, the most modest, and, perhaps, the handsomest man
in our corps; but you have not got a single rupee. You ask me for
Julia, and you do not possess even an anna!"--(Here the old rogue
grinned, as if he had made a capital pun).--"No, no," said he,
waxing good-natured; "Gagy, my boy, it is nonsense! Julia, love,
retire with your mamma; this silly young gentleman will remain and
smoke a pipe with me."
I took one; it was the bitterest chillum I ever smoked in my life.
. . . . . .
I am not going to give here an account of my military services;
they will appear in my great national autobiography, in forty
volumes, which I am now preparing for the press. I was with my
regiment in all Wellesley's brilliant campaigns; then taking dawk,
I travelled across the country north-eastward, and had the honor of
fighting by the side of Lord Lake at Laswaree, Deeg, Furruckabad,
Futtyghur, and Bhurtpore: but I will not boast of my actions--the
military man knows them, MY SOVEREIGN appreciates them. If asked
who was the bravest man of the Indian army, there is not an officer
belonging to it who would not cry at once, GAHAGAN. The fact is, I
was desperate: I cared not for life, deprived of Julia Jowler.
With Julia's stony looks ever before my eyes, her father's stern
refusal in my ears, I did not care, at the close of the campaign,
again to seek her company or to press my suit. We were eighteen
months on service, marching and countermarching, and fighting
almost every other day: to the world I did not seem altered; but
the world only saw the face, and not the seared and blighted heart
within me. My valor, always desperate, now reached to a pitch of
cruelty; I tortured my grooms and grass-cutters for the most
trifling offence or error,--I never in action spared a man,--I
sheared off three hundred and nine heads in the course of that
Some influence, equally melancholy, seemed to have fallen upon poor
old Jowler. About six months after we had left Dum Dum, he
received a parcel of letters from Benares (whither his wife had
retired with her daughter), and so deeply did they seem to weigh
upon his spirits, that he ordered eleven men of his regiment to be
flogged within two days; but it was against the blacks that he
chiefly turned his wrath. Our fellows, in the heat and hurry of
the campaign, were in the habit of dealing rather roughly with
their prisoners, to extract treasure from them: they used to pull
their nails out by the root, to boil them in kedgeree pots, to flog
them and dress their wounds with cayenne pepper, and so on.
Jowler, when he heard of these proceedings, which before had always
justly exasperated him (he was a humane and kind little man), used
now to smile fiercely and say, "D--- the black scoundrels! Serve
them right, serve them right!"
One day, about a couple of miles in advance of the column, I had
been on a foraging-party with a few dragoons, and was returning
peaceably to camp, when of a sudden a troop of Mahrattas burst on
us from a neighboring mango-tope, in which they had been hidden: in
an instant three of my men's saddles were empty, and I was left
with but seven more to make head against at least thirty of these
vagabond black horsemen. I never saw in my life a nobler figure
than the leader of the troop--mounted on a splendid black Arab: he
was as tall, very nearly, as myself; he wore a steel cap and a
shirt of mail, and carried a beautiful French carbine, which had
already done execution upon two of my men. I saw that our only
chance of safety lay in the destruction of this man. I shouted to
him in a voice of thunder (in the Hindustanee tongue of course),
"Stop, dog, if you dare, and encounter a man!"
In reply his lance came whirling in the air over my head, and
mortally transfixed poor Foggarty of ours, who was behind me.
Grinding my teeth and swearing horribly, I drew that scimitar which
never yet failed its blow,* and rushed at the Indian. He came down
at full gallop, his own sword making ten thousand gleaming circles
in the air, shrieking his cry of battle.
* In my affair with Macgillicuddy, I was fool enough to go out with
small-swords--miserable weapons only fit for tailors.--G. O'G. G.
The contest did not last an instant. With my first blow I cut off
his sword-arm at the wrist; my second I levelled at his head. I
said that he wore a steel cap, with a gilt iron spike of six
inches, and a hood of chain mail. I rose in my stirrups and
delivered "ST. GEORGE;" my sword caught the spike exactly on the
point, split it sheer in two, cut crashing through the steel cap
and hood, and was only stopped by a ruby which he wore in his back-
plate. His head, cut clean in two between the eyebrows and
nostrils, even between the two front teeth, fell one side on each
shoulder, and he galloped on till his horse was stopped by my men,
who were not a little amused at the feat.
As I had expected, the remaining ruffians fled on seeing their
leader's fate. I took home his helmet by way of curiosity, and we
made a single prisoner, who was instantly carried before old
We asked the prisoner the name of the leader of the troop; he said
it was Chowder Loll.
"Chowder Loll!" shrieked Colonel Jowler. "O fate! thy hand is
here!" He rushed wildly into his tent--the next day applied for
leave of absence. Gutch took the command of the regiment, and I
saw him no more for some time.
. . . . . .
As I had distinguished myself not a little during the war, General
Lake sent me up with despatches to Calcutta, where Lord Wellesley
received me with the greatest distinction. Fancy my surprise, on
going to a ball at Government House, to meet my old friend Jowler;
my trembling, blushing, thrilling delight, when I saw Julia by his
Jowler seemed to blush too when he beheld me. I thought of my
former passages with his daughter. "Gagy my boy," says he, shaking
hands, glad to see you. Old friend, Julia--come to tiffin--
Hodgson's pale--brave fellow Gagy." Julia did not speak, but she
turned ashy pale, and fixed upon me her awful eyes! I fainted
almost, and uttered some incoherent words. Julia took my hand,
gazed at me still, and said, "Come!" Need I say I went?
I will not go over the pale ale and currie-bhaut again; but this I
know, that in half an hour I was as much in love as I ever had
been: and that in three weeks I--yes, I--was the accepted lover of
Julia! I did not pause to ask where were the one hundred and
twenty-four offers? why I, refused before, should be accepted now?
I only felt that I loved her, and was happy!
. . . . . .
One night, one memorable night, I could not sleep, and, with a
lover's pardonable passion, wandered solitary through the city of
palaces until I came to the house which contained my Julia. I
peeped into the compound--all was still; I looked into the veranda--
all was dark, except a light--yes, one light--and it was in
Julia's chamber! My heart throbbed almost to stilling. I would--I
WOULD advance, if but to gaze upon her for a moment, and to bless
her as she slept. I DID look, I DID advance; and, O heaven! I saw
a lamp burning, Mrs. Jow. in a nightdress, with a very dark baby in
her arms, and Julia looking tenderly at an ayah, who was nursing
"Oh, mamma," said Julia, "what would that fool Gahagan say if he
"HE DOES KNOW ALL!" shouted I, springing forward, and tearing down
the tatties from the window. Mrs. Jow. ran shrieking out of the
room, Julia fainted, the cursed black children squalled, and their
d----d nurse fell on her knees, gabbling some infernal jargon of
Hindustanee. Old Jowler at this juncture entered with a candle and
a drawn sword.
"Liar! scoundrel! deceiver!" shouted I. "Turn, ruffian, and defend
yourself!" But old Jowler, when he saw me, only whistled, looked
at his lifeless daughter, and slowly left the room.
Why continue the tale? I need not now account for Jowler's gloom
on receiving his letters from Benares--for his exclamation upon the
death of the Indian chief--for his desire to marry his daughter:
the woman I was wooing was no longer Miss Julia Jowler, she was
Mrs. Chowder Loll!
ALLYGHUR AND LASWAREE.
I sat down to write gravely and sadly, for (since the appearance of
some of my adventures in a monthly magazine) unprincipled men have
endeavored to rob me of the only good I possess, to question the
statements that I make, and, themselves without a spark of honor or
good feeling, to steal from me that which is my sole wealth--my
character as a teller of THE TRUTH.
The reader will understand that it is to the illiberal strictures
of a profligate press I now allude; among the London journalists,
none (luckily for themselves) have dared to question the veracity
of my statements: they know me, and they know that I am IN LONDON.
If I can use the pen, I can also wield a more manly and terrible
weapon, and would answer their contradictions with my sword! No
gold or gems adorn the hilt of that war-worn scimitar; but there is
blood upon the blade--the blood of the enemies of my country, and
the maligners of my honest fame. There are others, however--the
disgrace of a disgraceful trade--who, borrowing from distance a
despicable courage, have ventured to assail me. The infamous
editors of the Kelso Champion, the Bungay Beacon, the Tipperary
Argus, and the Stoke Pogis Sentinel, and other dastardly organs of
the provincial press, have, although differing in politics, agreed
upon this one point, and with a scoundrelly unanimity, vented a
flood of abuse upon the revelations made by me.
They say that I have assailed private characters, and wilfully
perverted history to blacken the reputation of public men. I ask,
was any one of these men in Bengal in the year 1803? Was any
single conductor of any one of these paltry prints ever in
Bundelcund or the Rohilla country? Does this EXQUISITE Tipperary
scribe know the difference between Hurrygurrybang and Burrumtollah?
Not he! and because, forsooth, in those strange and distant lands
strange circumstances have taken place, it is insinuated that the
relater is a liar: nay, that the very places themselves have no
existence but in my imagination. Fools!--but I will not waste my
anger upon them, and proceed to recount some other portions of my
It is, I presume, a fact which even THESE scribbling assassins will
not venture to deny, that before the commencement of the campaign
against Scindiah, the English General formed a camp at Kanouge on
the Jumna, where he exercised that brilliant little army which was
speedily to perform such wonders in the Dooab. It will be as well
to give a slight account of the causes of a war which was speedily
to rage through some of the fairest portions of the Indian
Shah Allum, the son of Shah Lollum, the descendant by the female
line of Nadir Shah (that celebrated Toorkomaun adventurer, who had
wellnigh hurled Bajazet and Selim the Second from the throne of
Bagdad)--Shah Allum, I say, although nominally the Emperor of
Delhi, was in reality the slave of the various warlike chieftains
who lorded it by turns over the country and the sovereign, until
conquered and slain by some more successful rebel. Chowder Loll
Masolgee, Zubberdust Khan, Dowsunt Row Scindiah, and the celebrated
Bobbachy Jung Bahawder, had held for a time complete mastery in
Delhi. The second of these, a ruthless Afghan soldier, had
abruptly entered the capital; nor was he ejected from it until he
had seized upon the principal jewels, and likewise put out the eyes
of the last of the unfortunate family of Afrasiab. Scindiah came
to the rescue of the sightless Shah Allum, and though he destroyed
his oppressor, only increased his slavery; holding him in as
painful a bondage as he had suffered under the tyrannous Afghan.
As long as these heroes were battling among themselves, or as long
rather as it appeared that they had any strength to fight a battle,
the British Government, ever anxious to see its enemies by the
ears, by no means interfered in the contest. But the French
Revolution broke out, and a host of starving sans-culottes appeared
among the various Indian States, seeking for military service, and
inflaming the minds of the various native princes against the
British East India Company. A number of these entered into
Scindiah's ranks: one of them, Perron, was commander of his army;
and though that chief was as yet quite engaged in his hereditary
quarrel with Jeswunt Row Holkar, and never thought of an invasion
of the British territory, the Company all of a sudden discovered
that Shah Allum, his sovereign, was shamefully ill-used, and
determined to re-establish the ancient splendor of his throne.
Of course it was sheer benevolence for poor Shah Allum that
prompted our governors to take these kindly measures in his favor.
I don't know how it happened that, at the end of the war, the poor
Shah was not a whit better off than at the beginning; and that
though Holkar was beaten, and Scindiah annihilated, Shah Allum was
much such a puppet as before. Somehow, in the hurry and confusion
of this struggle, the oyster remained with the British Government,
who had so kindly offered to dress it for the Emperor, while his
Majesty was obliged to be contented with the shell.
The force encamped at Kanouge bore the title of the Grand Army of
the Ganges and the Jumna; it consisted of eleven regiments of
cavalry and twelve battalions of infantry, and was commanded by
General Lake in person.
Well, on the 1st of September we stormed Perron's camp at Allyghur;
on the fourth we took that fortress by assault; and as my name was
mentioned in general orders, I may as well quote the Commander-in-
Chief's words regarding me--they will spare me the trouble of
composing my own eulogium:--
"The Commander-in-Chief is proud thus publicly to declare his high
sense of the gallantry of Lieutenant Gahagan, of the ---- cavalry.
In the storming of the fortress, although unprovided with a single
ladder, and accompanied but by a few brave men, Lieutenant Gahagan
succeeded in escalading the inner and fourteenth wall of the place.
Fourteen ditches lined with sword-blades and poisoned chevaux-de-
frise, fourteen walls bristling with innumerable artillery and as
smooth as looking-glasses, were in turn triumphantly passed by that
enterprising officer. His course was to be traced by the heaps of
slaughtered enemies lying thick upon the platforms; and alas! by
the corpses of most of the gallant men who followed him!--when at
length he effected his lodgment, and the dastardly enemy, who dared
not to confront him with arms, let loose upon him the tigers and
lions of Scindiah's menagerie. This meritorious officer destroyed,
with his own hand, four of the largest and most ferocious animals,
and the rest, awed by the indomitable majesty of BRITISH VALOR,
shrank back to their dens. Thomas Higgory, a private, and Runty
Goss, havildar, were the only two who remained out of the nine
hundred who followed Lieutenant Gahagan. Honor to them! honor and
tears for the brave men who perished on that awful day!"
. . . . . .
I have copied this, word for word, from the Bengal Hurkaru of
September 24, 1803: and anybody who has the slightest doubt as to
the statement, may refer to the paper itself.
And here I must pause to give thanks to Fortune, which so
marvellously preserved me, Sergeant-Major Higgory, and Runty Goss.
Were I to say that any valor of ours had carried us unhurt through
this tremendous combat, the reader would laugh me to scorn. No:
though my narrative is extraordinary, it is nevertheless authentic;
and never, never would I sacrifice truth for the mere sake of
effect. The fact is this:--the citadel of Allyghur is situated
upon a rock, about a thousand feet above the level of the sea, and
is surrounded by fourteen walls, as his Excellency was good enough
to remark in his despatch. A man who would mount these without
scaling-ladders, is an ass; he who would SAY he mounted them
without such assistance, is a liar and a knave. We HAD scaling-
ladders at the commencement of the assault, although it was quite
impossible to carry them beyond the first line of batteries.
Mounted on them, however, as our troops were falling thick about
me, I saw that we must ignominiously retreat, unless some other
help could be found for our brave fellows to escalade the next
wall. It was about seventy feet high. I instantly turned the guns
of wall A on wall B, and peppered the latter so as to make, not a
breach, but a scaling place; the men mounting in the holes made by
the shot. By this simple stratagem, I managed to pass each
successive barrier--for to ascend a wall which the General was
pleased to call "as smooth as glass" is an absurd impossibility: I
seek to achieve none such:--
"I dare do all that may become a man,
Who dares do more, is neither more nor less."
Of course, had the enemy's guns been commonly well served, not one
of us would ever have been alive out of the three; but whether it
was owing to fright, or to the excessive smoke caused by so many
pieces of artillery, arrive we did. On the platforms, too, our
work was not quite so difficult as might be imagined--killing these
fellows was sheer butchery. As soon as we appeared, they all
turned and fled helter-skelter, and the reader may judge of their
courage by the fact that out of about seven hundred men killed by
us, only forty had wounds in front, the rest being bayoneted as
And beyond all other pieces of good fortune was the very letting
out of these tigers; which was the dernier ressort of Bournonville,
the second commandant of the fort. I had observed this man
(conspicuous for a tri-colored scarf which he wore) upon every one
of the walls as we stormed them, and running away the very first
among the fugitives. He had all the keys of the gates; and in his
tremor, as he opened the menagerie portal, left the whole bunch in
the door, which I seized when the animals were overcome. Runty
Goss then opened them one by one, our troops entered, and the
victorious standard of my country floated on the walls of Allyghur!
When the General, accompanied by his staff; entered the last line
of fortifications, the brave old man raised me from the dead
rhinoceros on which I was seated, and pressed me to his breast.
But the excitement which had borne me through the fatigues and
perils of that fearful day failed all of a sudden, and I wept like
a child upon his shoulder.
Promotion, in our army, goes unluckily by seniority; nor is it in
the power of the General-in-Chief to advance a Caesar, if he finds
him in the capacity of a subaltern: MY reward for the above exploit
was, therefore, not very rich. His Excellency had a favorite horn
snuff-box (for, though exalted in station, he was in his habits
most simple): of this, and about a quarter of an ounce of high-
dried Welsh, which he always took, he made me a present, saying, in
front of the line, "Accept this, Mr. Gahagan, as a token of respect
from the first to the bravest officer in the army."
Calculating the snuff to be worth a halfpenny, I should say that
fourpence was about the value of this gift: but it has at least
this good effect--it serves to convince any person who doubts my
story, that the facts of it are really true. I have left it at the
office of my publisher, along with the extract from the Bengal
Hurkaru, and anybody may examine both by applying in the counting-
house of Mr. Cunningham.* That once popular expression, or
proverb, "are you up to snuff?" arose out of the above circumstance;
for the officers of my corps, none of whom, except myself, had
ventured on the storming-party, used to twit me about this modest
reward for my labors. Never mind! when they want me to storm a fort
AGAIN, I shall know better.
* The Major certainly offered to leave an old snuff-box at Mr.
Cunningham's office; but it contained no extract from a newspaper,
and does not QUITE prove that he killed a rhinoceros and stormed
fourteen intrenchments at the siege of Allyghur.
Well, immediately after the capture of this important fortress,
Perron, who had been the life and soul of Scindiah's army, came in
to us, with his family and treasure, and was passed over to the
French settlements at Chandernagur. Bourquien took his command,
and against him we now moved. The morning of the 11th of September
found us upon the plains of Delhi.
It was a burning hot day, and we were all refreshing ourselves
after the morning's march, when I, who was on the advanced piquet
along with O'Gawler of the King's Dragoons, was made aware of the
enemy's neighborhood in a very singular manner. O'Gawler and I
were seated under a little canopy of horse-cloths, which we had
formed to shelter us from the intolerable heat of the sun, and were
discussing with great delight a few Manilla cheroots, and a stone
jar of the most exquisite, cool, weak, refreshing sangaree. We had
been playing cards the night before, and O'Gawler had lost to me
seven hundred rupees. I emptied the last of the sangaree into the
two pint tumblers out of which we were drinking, and holding mine
up, said, "Here's better luck to you next time, O'Gawler!"
As I spoke the words--whish!--a cannon-ball cut the tumbler clean
out of my hand, and plumped into poor O'Gawler's stomach. It
settled him completely, and of course I never got my seven hundred
rupees. Such are the uncertainties of war!
To strap on my sabre and my accoutrements--to mount my Arab
charger--to drink off what O'Gawler had left of the sangaree--and
to gallop to the General, was the work of a moment. I found him as
comfortably at tiffin as if he were at his own house in London.
"General," said I, as soon as I got into his paijamahs (or tent),
"you must leave your lunch if you want to fight the enemy."
"The enemy--psha! Mr. Gahagan, the enemy is on the other side of
"I can only tell your Excellency that the enemy's guns will hardly
carry five miles, and that Cornet O'Gawler was this moment shot
dead at my side with a cannon-ball."
"Ha! is it so?" said his Excellency, rising, and laying down the
drumstick of a grilled chicken. "Gentlemen, remember that the eyes
of Europe are upon us, and follow me!"
Each aide-de-camp started from table and seized his cocked hat;
each British heart beat high at the thoughts of the coming melee.
We mounted our horses and galloped swiftly after the brave old
General; I not the last in the train, upon my famous black charger.
It was perfectly true, the enemy were posted in force within three
miles of our camp, and from a hillock in the advance to which we
galloped, we were enabled with our telescopes to see the whole of
his imposing line. Nothing can better describe it than this:--
--A is the enemy, and the dots represent the hundred and twenty
pieces of artillery which defended his line. He was, moreover,
intrenched; and a wide morass in his front gave him an additional
His Excellency for a moment surveyed the line, and then said,
turning round to one of his aides-de-camp, "Order up Major-General
Tinkler and the cavalry."
"HERE, does your Excellency mean?" said the aide-de-camp, surprised,
for the enemy had perceived us, and the cannon-balls were flying
about as thick as peas.
"HERE, sir!" said the old General, stamping with his foot in a
passion, and the A.D.C. shrugged his shoulders and galloped away.
In five minutes we heard the trumpets in our camp, and in twenty
more the greater part of the cavalry had joined us.
Up they came, five thousand men, their standards flapping in the
air, their long line of polished jack-boots gleaming in the golden
sunlight. "And now we are here," said Major-General Sir Theophilus
Tinkler, "what next?" "Oh, d--- it," said the Commander-in-Chief,
"charge, charge--nothing like charging--galloping--guns--rascally
black scoundrels--charge, charge!" And then turning round to me
(perhaps he was glad to change the conversation), he said,
"Lieutenant Gahagan, you will stay with me."
And well for him I did, for I do not hesitate to say that the
battle WAS GAINED BY ME. I do not mean to insult the reader by
pretending that any personal exertions of mine turned the day,--
that I killed, for instance, a regiment of cavalry or swallowed a
battery of guns,--such absurd tales would disgrace both the hearer
and the teller. I, as is well known, never say a single word which
cannot be proved, and hate more than all other vices the absurd sin
of egotism; I simply mean that my ADVICE to the General, at a
quarter past two o'clock in the afternoon of that day, won this
great triumph for the British army.
Gleig, Mill, and Thorn have all told the tale of this war, though
somehow they have omitted all mention of the hero of it. General
Lake, for the victory of that day, became Lord Lake of Laswaree.
Laswaree! and who, forsooth, was the real conqueror of Laswaree? I
can lay my hand upon my heart and say that I was. If any proof is
wanting of the fact, let me give it at once, and from the highest
military testimony in the world--I mean that of the Emperor
In the month of March, 1817, I was passenger on board the "Prince
Regent," Captain Harris, which touched at St. Helena on its passage
from Calcutta to England. In company with the other officers on
board the ship, I paid my respects to the illustrious exile of
Longwood, who received us in his garden, where he was walking
about, in a nankeen dress and a large broad-brimmed straw-hat, with
General Montholon, Count Las Casas, and his son Emanuel, then a
little boy; who I dare say does not recollect me, but who
nevertheless played with my sword-knot and the tassels of my
Hessian boots during the whole of our interview with his Imperial
Our names were read out (in a pretty accent, by the way!) by
General Montholon, and the Emperor, as each was pronounced, made a
bow to the owner of it, but did not vouchsafe a word. At last
Montholon came to mine. The Emperor looked me at once in the face,
took his hands out of his pockets, put them behind his back, and
coming up to me smiling, pronounced the following words:--
"Assaye, Delhi, Deeg, Futtyghur?"
I blushed, and taking off my hat with a bow, said--"Sire, c'est
"Parbleu! je le savais bien," said the Emperor, holding out his
snuff-box. "En usez-vous, Major?" I took a large pinch (which,
with the honor of speaking to so great a man, brought the tears
into my eyes), and he continued as nearly as possible in the
"Sir, you are known; you come of an heroic nation. Your third
brother, the Chef de Bataillon, Count Godfrey Gahagan, was in my
Gahagan.--"Sire, it is true. He and my countrymen in your
Majesty's service stood under the green flag in the breach of
Burgos, and beat Wellington back. It was the only time, as your
Majesty knows, that Irishmen and Englishmen were beaten in that
Napoleon (looking as if he would say, "D--- your candor, Major
Gahagan").--"Well, well; it was so. Your brother was a Count, and
died a General in my service."
Gahagan.--"He was found lying upon the bodies of nine-and-twenty
Cossacks at Borodino. They were all dead, and bore the Gahagan
Napoleon (to Montholon).--"C'est vrai, Montholon: je vous donne ma
parole d'honneur la plus sacree, que c'est vrai. Ils ne sont pas
d'autres, ces terribles Ga'gans. You must know that Monsieur
gained the battle of Delhi as certainly as I did that of Austerlitz.
In this way:--Ce belitre de Lor Lake, after calling up his cavalry,
and placing them in front of Holkar's batteries, qui balayaient la
plaine, was for charging the enemy's batteries with his horse, who
would have been ecrases, mitrailles, foudroyes to a man but for the
cunning of ce grand rogue que vous voyez."
Montholon.--"Coquin de Major, va!"
Napoleon.--"Montholon! tais-toi. When Lord Lake, with his great
bull-headed English obstinacy, saw the facheuse position into which
he had brought his troops, he was for dying on the spot, and would
infallibly have done so--and the loss of his army would have been
the ruin of the East India Company--and the ruin of the English
East India Company would have established my empire (bah! it was a
republic then!) in the East--but that the man before us, Lieutenant
Goliah Gahagan, was riding at the side of General Lake."
Montholon (with an accent of despair and fury).--"Gredin! cent
mille tonnerres de Dieu!"
Napoleon (benignantly).--"Calme-toi, mon fidele ami. What will
you? It was fate. Gahagan, at the critical period of the battle,
or rather slaughter (for the English had not slain a man of the
enemy), advised a retreat."
Montholon. "Le lache! Un Francais meurt, mais il ne recule
Napoleon.--"STUPIDE! Don't you see WHY the retreat was ordered?--
don't you know that it was a feint on the part of Gahagan to draw
Holkar from his impregnable intrenchments? Don't you know that the
ignorant Indian fell into the snare, and issuing from behind the
cover of his guns, came down with his cavalry on the plains in
pursuit of Lake and his dragoons? Then it was that the Englishmen
turned upon him; the hardy children of the north swept down his
feeble horsemen, bore them back to their guns, which were useless,
entered Holkar's intrenchments along with his troops, sabred the
artillerymen at their pieces, and won the battle of Delhi!"
As the Emperor spoke, his pale cheek glowed red, his eye flashed
fire, his deep clear voice rung as of old when he pointed out the
enemy from beneath the shadow of the Pyramids, or rallied his
regiments to the charge upon the death-strewn plain of Wagram. I
have had many a proud moment in my life, but never such a proud one
as this; and I would readily pardon the word "coward," as applied
to me by Montholon, in consideration of the testimony which his
master bore in my favor.
"Major," said the Emperor to me in conclusion, "why had I not such
a man as you in my service? I would have made you a Prince and a
Marshal!" and here he fell into a reverie, of which I knew and
respected the purport. He was thinking, doubtless, that I might
have retrieved his fortunes; and indeed I have very little doubt
that I might.
Very soon after, coffee was brought by Monsieur Marchand,
Napoleon's valet-de-chambre, and after partaking of that beverage,
and talking upon the politics of the day, the Emperor withdrew,
leaving me deeply impressed by the condescension he had shown in
this remarkable interview.
A PEEP INTO SPAIN--ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGIN AND SERVICES OF THE
HEAD QUARTERS, MORELLA, Sept. 16, 1838.
I have been here for some months, along with my young friend
Cabrera: and in the hurry and bustle of war--daily on guard and in
the batteries for sixteen hours out of the twenty-four, with
fourteen severe wounds and seven musket-balls in my body--it may be
imagined that I have had little time to think about the publication
of my memoirs. Inter arma silent leges--in the midst of fighting
be hanged to writing! as the poet says; and I never would have
bothered myself with a pen, had not common gratitude incited me to
throw off a few pages.
Along with Oraa's troops, who have of late been beleaguering this
place, there was a young Milesian gentleman, Mr. Toone O'Connor
Emmett Fitzgerald Sheeny, by name, a law student, and member of
Gray's Inn, and what be called Bay Ah of Trinity College, Dublin.
Mr. Sheeny was with the Queen's people, not in a military capacity,
but as representative of an English journal; to which, for a
trifling weekly remuneration, he was in the habit of transmitting
accounts of the movements of the belligerents, and his own opinion
of the politics of Spain. Receiving, for the discharge of his
duty, a couple of guineas a week from the proprietors of the
journal in question, he was enabled, as I need scarcely say, to
make such a show in Oraa's camp as only a Christino general
officer, or at the very least a colonel of a regiment, can afford
to keep up.
In the famous sortie which we made upon the twenty-third, I was of
course among the foremost in the melee, and found myself, after a
good deal of slaughtering (which it would be as disagreeable as
useless to describe here), in the court of a small inn or podesta,
which had been made the head-quarters of several Queenite officers
during the siege. The pesatero or landlord of the inn had been
despatched by my brave chapel-churies, with his fine family of
children--the officers quartered in the podesta had of course
bolted; but one man remained, and my fellows were on the point of
cutting him into ten thousand pieces with their borachios, when I
arrived in the room time enough to prevent the catastrophe. Seeing
before me an individual in the costume of a civilian--a white hat,
a light blue satin cravat, embroidered with butterflies and other
quadrupeds, a green coat and brass buttons, and a pair of blue
plaid trousers, I recognized at once a countryman, and interposed
to save his life.
In an agonized brogue the unhappy young man was saying all that he
could to induce the chapel-churies to give up their intention of
slaughtering him; but it is very little likely that his
protestations would have had any effect upon them, had not I
appeared in the room, and shouted to the ruffians to hold their
Seeing a general officer before them (I have the honor to hold that
rank in the service of his Catholic Majesty), and moreover one six
feet four in height, and armed with that terrible cabecilla (a
sword so called, because it is five feet long) which is so well
known among the Spanish armies--seeing, I say, this figure, the
fellows retired, exclaiming, "Adios, corpo di bacco, nosotros," and
so on, clearly proving (by their words) that they would, if they
dared, have immolated the victim whom I had thus rescued from their
fury. "Villains!" shouted I, hearing them grumble, "away! quit the
apartment!" Each man, sulkily sheathing his sombrero, obeyed, and
quitted the camarilla.
It was then that Mr. Sheeny detailed to me the particulars to which
I have briefly adverted; and, informing me at the same time that he
had a family in England who would feel obliged to me for his
release, and that his most intimate friend the English ambassador
would move heaven and earth to revenge his fall, he directed my
attention to a portmanteau passably well filled, which he hoped
would satisfy the cupidity of my troops. I said, though with much
regret, that I must subject his person to a search; and hence arose
the circumstance which has called for what I fear you will consider
a somewhat tedious explanation. I found upon Mr. Sheeny's person
three sovereigns in English money (which I have to this day), and
singularly enough a copy of The New Monthly Magazine, containing a
portion of my adventures. It was a toss-up whether I should let
the poor young man be shot or no, but this little circumstance
saved his life. The gratified vanity of authorship induced me to
accept his portmanteau and valuables, and to allow the poor wretch
to go free. I put the Magazine in my coat-pocket, and left him and
The men, to my surprise, had quitted the building, and it was full
time for me to follow; for I found our sallying party, after
committing dreadful ravages in Oraa's lines, were in full retreat
upon the fort, hotly pressed by a superior force of the enemy. I
am pretty well known and respected by the men of both parties in
Spain (indeed I served for some months on the Queen's side before I
came over to Don Carlos); and, as it is my maxim never to give
quarter, I never expect to receive it when taken myself. On
issuing from the podesta with Sheeny's portmanteau and my sword in
my hand, I was a little disgusted and annoyed to see our own men in
a pretty good column retreating at double-quick, and about four
hundred yards beyond me, up the hill leading to the fort; while on
my left hand, and at only a hundred yards, a troop of the Queenite
lancers were clattering along the road.
I had got into the very middle of the road before I made this
discovery, so that the fellows had a full sight of me, and whiz!
came a bullet by my left whisker before I could say Jack Robinson.
I looked round--there were seventy of the accursed malvados at the
least, and within, as I said, a hundred yards. Were I to say that
I stopped to fight seventy men, you would write me down a fool or a
liar: no, sir, I did not fight, I ran away.
I am six feet four--my figure is as well known in the Spanish army
as that of the Count de Luchana, or my fierce little friend Cabrera
himself. "GAHAGAN!" shouted out half a dozen scoundrelly voices,
and fifty more shots came rattling after me. I was running--
running as the brave stag before the hounds--running as I have done
a great number of times before in my life, when there was no help
for it but a race.
After I had run about five hundred yards, I saw that I had gained
nearly three upon our column in front, and that likewise the
Christino horsemen were left behind some hundred yards more; with
the exception of three, who were fearfully near me. The first was
an officer without a lance; he had fired both his pistols at me,
and was twenty yards in advance of his comrades; there was a
similar distance between the two lancers who rode behind him. I
determined then to wait for No. 1, and as he came up delivered cut
3 at his horse's near leg--off it flew, and down, as I expected,
went horse and man. I had hardly time to pass my sword through my
prostrate enemy, when No. 2 was upon me. If I could but get that
fellow's horse, thought I, I am safe; and I executed at once the
plan which I hoped was to effect my rescue.
I had, as I said, left the podesta with Sheeny's portmanteau, and,
unwilling to part with some of the articles it contained--some
shirts, a bottle of whiskey, a few cakes of Windsor soap, &c. &c.,--
I had carried it thus far on my shoulders, but now was compelled
to sacrifice it malgre moi. As the lancer came up, I dropped my
sword from my right hand, and hurled the portmanteau at his head,
with aim so true, that he fell back on his saddle like a sack, and
thus when the horse galloped up to me, I had no difficulty in
dismounting the rider: the whiskey-bottle struck him over his right
eye, and he was completely stunned. To dash him from the saddle
and spring myself into it, was the work of a moment; indeed, the
two combats had taken place in about a fifth part of the time which
it has taken the reader to peruse the description. But in the
rapidity of the last encounter, and the mounting of my enemy's
horse, I had committed a very absurd oversight--I was scampering
away WITHOUT MY SWORD! What was I to do?--to scamper on, to be
sure, and trust to the legs of my horse for safety!
The lancer behind me gained on me every moment, and I could hear
his horrid laugh as he neared me. I leaned forward jockey-fashion
in my saddle, and kicked, and urged, and flogged with my hand, but
all in vain. Closer--closer--the point of his lance was within two
feet of my back. Ah! ah! he delivered the point, and fancy my
agony when I felt it enter--through exactly fifty-nine pages of the
New Monthly Magazine. Had it not been for that Magazine, I should
have been impaled without a shadow of a doubt. Was I wrong in
feeling gratitude? Had I not cause to continue my contributions to
When I got safe into Morella, along with the tail of the sallying
party, I was for the first time made acquainted with the ridiculous
result of the lancer's thrust (as he delivered his lance, I must
tell you that a ball came whiz over my head from our fellows, and
entering at his nose, put a stop to HIS lancing for the future). I
hastened to Cabrera's quarter, and related to him some of my
adventures during the day.
"But, General," said he, "you are standing. I beg you chiudete
l'uscio (take a chair)."
I did so, and then for the first time was aware that there was some
foreign substance in the tail of my coat, which prevented my
sitting at ease. I drew out the Magazine which I had seized, and
there, to my wonder, DISCOVERED THE CHRISTINO LANCE twisted up like
a fish-hook, or a pastoral crook.
"Ha! ha! ha!" said Cabrera (who is a notorious wag).
"Valdepenas madrilenos," growled out Tristany.
"By my cachuca di caballero (upon my honor as a gentleman),"
shrieked out Ros d'Eroles, convulsed with laughter, "I will send it
to the Bishop of Leon for a crozier."
"Gahagan has CONSECRATED it," giggled out Ramon Cabrera; and so
they went on with their muchacas for an hour or more. But, when
they heard that the means of my salvation from the lance of the
scoundrelly Christino had been the Magazine containing my own
history, their laugh was changed into wonder. I read them
(speaking Spanish more fluently than English) every word of my
story. "But how is this?" said Cabrera. "You surely have other
adventures to relate?"
"Excellent Sir," said I, "I have;" and that very evening, as we sat
over our cups of tertullia (sangaree), I continued my narrative in
nearly the following words:--
"I left off in the very middle of the battle of Delhi, which ended,
as everybody knows, in the complete triumph of the British arms.
But who gained the battle? Lord Lake is called Viscount Lake of
Delhi and Laswaree, while Major Gaha--nonsense, never mind HIM,
never mind the charge he executed when, sabre in hand, he leaped
the six-foot wall in the mouth of the roaring cannon, over the
heads of the gleaming pikes; when, with one hand seizing the sacred
peishcush, or fish--which was the banner always borne before
Scindiah,--he, with his good sword, cut off the trunk of the famous
white elephant, which, shrieking with agony, plunged madly into the
Mahratta ranks, followed by his giant brethren, tossing, like chaff
before the wind, the affrighted kitmatgars. He, meanwhile, now
plunging into the midst of a battalion of consomahs, now cleaving
to the chine a screaming and ferocious bobbachee,* rushed on, like
the simoom across the red Zaharan plain, killing with his own hand,
a hundred and forty-thr--but never mind--'ALONE HE DID IT;'
sufficient be it for him, however, that the victory was won: he
cares not for the empty honors which were awarded to more fortunate
* The double-jointed camel of Bactria, which the classic reader may
recollect is mentioned by Suidas (in his Commentary on the Flight
of Darius), is so called by the Mahrattas.
"We marched after the battle to Delhi, where poor blind old Shah
Allum received us, and bestowed all kinds of honors and titles on
our General. As each of the officers passed before him, the Shah
did not fail to remark my person,* and was told my name.
* There is some trifling inconsistency on the Major's part. Shah
Allum was notoriously blind: how, then, could he have seen Gahagan?
The thing is manifestly impossible.
"Lord Lake whispered to him my exploits, and the old man was so
delighted with the account of my victory over the elephant (whose
trunk I use to this day), that he said, 'Let him be called
GUJPUTI,' or the lord of elephants; and Gujputi was the name by
which I was afterwards familiarly known among the natives,--the
men, that is. The women had a softer appellation for me, and
called me 'Mushook,' or charmer.
"Well, I shall not describe Delhi, which is doubtless well known to
the reader; nor the siege of Agra, to which place we went from
Delhi; nor the terrible day at Laswaree, which went nigh to finish
the war. Suffice it to say that we were victorious, and that I was
wounded; as I have invariably been in the two hundred and four
occasions when I have found myself in action. One point, however,
became in the course of this campaign QUITE evident--THAT SOMETHING
MUST BE DONE FOR GAHAGAN. The country cried shame, the King's
troops grumbled, the sepoys openly murmured that their Gujputi was
only a lieutenant, when he had performed such signal services.
What was to be done? Lord Wellesley was in an evident quandary.
'Gahagan,' wrote he, 'to be a subaltern is evidently not your fate--
YOU WERE BORN FOR COMMAND; but Lake and General Wellesley are good
officers, they cannot be turned out--I must make a post for you.
What say you, my dear fellow, to a corps of IRREGULAR HORSE?'
"It was thus that the famous corps of AHMEDNUGGAR IRREGULARS had
its origin; a guerilla force, it is true, but one which will long
be remembered in the annals of our Indian campaigns.
. . . . . .
"As the commander of this regiment, I was allowed to settle the
uniform of the corps, as well as to select recruits. These were
not wanting as soon as my appointment was made known, but came
flocking to my standard a great deal faster than to the regular
corps in the Company's service. I had European officers, of
course, to command them, and a few of my countrymen as sergeants;
the rest were all natives, whom I chose of the strongest and
bravest men in India; chiefly Pitans, Afghans, Hurrumzadehs, and
Calliawns: for these are well known to be the most warlike
districts of our Indian territory.
"When on parade and in full uniform we made a singular and noble
appearance. I was always fond of dress; and, in this instance,
gave a carte blanche to my taste, and invented the most splendid
costume that ever perhaps decorated a soldier. I am, as I have
stated already, six feet four inches in height, and of matchless
symmetry and proportion. My hair and beard are of the most
brilliant auburn, so bright as scarcely to be distinguished at a
distance from scarlet. My eyes are bright blue, overshadowed by
bushy eyebrows of the color of my hair, and a terrific gash of the
deepest purple, which goes over the forehead, the eyelid, and the
cheek, and finishes at the ear, gives my face a more strictly
military appearance than can be conceived. When I have been
drinking (as is pretty often the case) this gash becomes ruby
bright, and as I have another which took off a piece of my under-
lip, and shows five of my front teeth, I leave you to imagine that
'seldom lighted on the earth' (as the monster Burke remarked of one
of his unhappy victims), 'a more extraordinary vision.' I improved
these natural advantages; and, while in cantonment during the hot
winds at Chittybobbary, allowed my hair to grow very long, as did
my beard, which reached to my waist. It took me two hours daily to
curl my hair in ten thousand little cork-screw ringlets, which
waved over my shoulders, and to get my moustaches well round to the
corners of my eyelids. I dressed in loose scarlet trousers and red
morocco boots, a scarlet jacket, and a shawl of the same color
round my waist; a scarlet turban three feet high, and decorated
with a tuft of the scarlet feathers of the flamingo, formed my
head-dress, and I did not allow myself a single ornament, except a
small silver skull and crossbones in front of my turban. Two brace
of pistols, a Malay creese, and a tulwar, sharp on both sides, and
very nearly six feet in length, completed this elegant costume. My
two flags were each surmounted with a red skull and cross-bones,
and ornamented, one with a black, and the other with a red beard
(of enormous length, taken from men slain in battle by me). On one
flag were of course the arms of John Company; on the other, an
image of myself bestriding a prostrate elephant, with the simple
word, 'Gujputi' written underneath in the Nagaree, Persian, and
Sanscrit characters. I rode my black horse, and looked, by the
immortal gods, like Mars. To me might be applied the words which
were written concerning handsome General Webb, in Marlborough's
"'To noble danger he conducts the way,
His great example all his troop obey,
Before the front the Major sternly rides,
With such an air as Mars to battle strides.
Propitious heaven must sure a hero save
Like Paris handsome, and like Hector brave!'
"My officers (Captains Biggs and Mackanulty, Lieutenants Glogger,
Pappendick, Stuffle, &c., &c.) were dressed exactly in the same
way, but in yellow; and the men were similarly equipped, but in
black. I have seen many regiments since, and many ferocious-
looking men, but the Ahmednuggar Irregulars were more dreadful to
the view than any set of ruffians on which I ever set eyes. I
would to heaven that the Czar of Muscovy had passed through Cabool
and Lahore, and that I with my old Ahmednuggars stood on a fair
field to meet him! Bless you, bless you, my swart companions in
victory! through the mist of twenty years I hear the booming of
your war-cry, and mark the glitter of your scimitars as ye rage in
the thickest of the battle!*
* I do not wish to brag of my style of writing, or to pretend that
my genius as a writer has not been equalled in former times; but
if, in the works of Byron, Scott, Goethe, or Victor Hugo, the
reader can find a more beautiful sentence than the above, I will be
obliged to him, that is all--I simply say, I WILL BE OBLIGED TO
HIM.----G. O'G. G., M. H. E. I. C. S., C. I. H. A.
"But away with melancholy reminiscences. You may fancy what a
figure the Irregulars cut on a field-day--a line of five hundred
black-faced, black-dressed, black-horsed, black-bearded men--Biggs,
Glogger, and the other officers in yellow, galloping about the
field like flashes of lightning; myself enlightening them, red,
solitary, and majestic, like yon glorious orb in heaven.
"There are very few men, I presume, who have not heard of Holkar's
sudden and gallant incursion into the Dooab, in the year 1804, when
we thought that the victory of Laswaree and the brilliant success
at Deeg had completely finished him. Taking ten thousand horse he
broke up his camp at Palimbang; and the first thing General Lake
heard of him was, that he was at Putna, then at Rumpooge, then at
Doncaradam--he was, in fact, in the very heart of our territory.
"The unfortunate part of the affair was this:--His Excellency,
despising the Mahratta chieftain, had allowed him to advance about
two thousand miles in his front, and knew not in the slightest
degree where to lay hold on him. Was he at Hazarubaug? was he at
Bogly Gunge? nobody knew, and for a considerable period the
movements of Lake's cavalry were quite ambiguous, uncertain,
promiscuous, and undetermined.
"Such, briefly, was the state of affairs in October, 1804. At the
beginning of that month I had been wounded (a trifling scratch,
cutting off my left upper eyelid, a bit of my cheek, and my under
lip), and I was obliged to leave Biggs in command of my Irregulars,
whilst I retired for my wounds to an English station at
Furruckabad, alias Futtyghur--it is, as every twopenny postman
knows, at the apex of the Dooab. We have there a cantonment, and
thither I went for the mere sake of the surgeon and the sticking-
"Furruckabad, then, is divided into two districts or towns: the
lower Cotwal, inhabited by the natives, and the upper (which is
fortified slightly, and has all along been called Futtyghur,
meaning in Hindoostanee 'the-favorite-resort-of-the-white-faced-
Feringhees-near-the-mango-tope-consecrated-to Ram') occupied by
Europeans. (It is astonishing, by the way, how comprehensive that
language is, and how much can be conveyed in one or two of the
"Biggs, then, and my men were playing all sorts of wondrous pranks
with Lord Lake's army, whilst I was detained an unwilling prisoner
of health at Futtyghur.
"An unwilling prisoner, however, I should not say. The cantonment
at Futtyghur contained that which would have made ANY man a happy
slave. Woman, lovely woman, was there in abundance and variety!
The fact is, that when the campaign commenced in 1803, the ladies
of the army all congregated to this place, where they were left, as
it was supposed, in safety. I might, like Homer, relate the names
and qualities of all. I may at least mention SOME whose memory is
still most dear to me. There was--
"Mrs. Major-General Bulcher, wife of Bulcher of the infantry.
"Miss BELINDA BULCHER (whose name I beg the printer to place in
"Mrs. Colonel Vandegobbleschroy.
"Mrs. Major Macan and the four Misses Macan.
"The Honorable Mrs. Burgoo, Mrs. Flix, Hicks, Wicks, and many more
too numerous to mention. The flower of our camp was, however,
collected there, and the last words of Lord Lake to me, as I left
him, were, 'Gahagan, I commit those women to your charge. Guard
them with your life, watch over them with your honor, defend them
with the matchless power of your indomitable arm.'
"Futtyghur is, as I have said, a European station, and the pretty
air of the bungalows, amid the clustering topes of mango-trees, has
often ere this excited the admiration of the tourist and sketcher.
On the brow of a hill--the Burrumpooter river rolls majestically at
its base; and no spot, in a word, can be conceived more exquisitely
arranged, both by art and nature, as a favorite residence of the
British fair. Mrs. Bulcher, Mrs. Vandegobbleschroy, and the other
married ladies above mentioned, had each of them delightful
bungalows and gardens in the place, and between one cottage and
another my time passed as delightfully as can the hours of any man
who is away from his darling occupation of war.
"I was the commandant of the fort. It is a little insignificant
pettah, defended simply by a couple of gabions, a very ordinary
counterscarp, and a bomb-proof embrasure. On the top of this my
flag was planted, and the small garrison of forty men only were
comfortably barracked off in the case-mates within. A surgeon and
two chaplains (there were besides three reverend gentlemen of
amateur missions, who lived in the town,) completed, as I may say,
the garrison of our little fortalice, which I was left to defend
and to command.
"On the night of the first of November, in the year 1804, I had
invited Mrs. Major-General Bulcher and her daughters, Mrs.
Vandegobbleschroy, and, indeed, all the ladies in the cantonment,
to a little festival in honor of the recovery of my health, of the
commencement of the shooting season, and indeed as a farewell
visit, for it was my intention to take dawk the very next morning
and return to my regiment. The three amateur missionaries whom I
have mentioned, and some ladies in the cantonment of very rigid
religious principles, refused to appear at my little party. They
had better never have been born than have done as they did: as you
"We had been dancing merrily all night, and the supper (chiefly of
the delicate condor, the luscious adjutant, and other birds of a
similar kind, which I had shot in the course of the day) had been
duly feted by every lady and gentleman present; when I took an
opportunity to retire on the ramparts, with the interesting and
lovely Belinda Bulcher. I was occupied, as the French say, in
conter-ing fleurettes to this sweet young creature, when, all of a
sudden, a rocket was seen whizzing through the air, and a strong
light was visible in the valley below the little fort.
"'What, fireworks! Captain Gahagan,' said Belinda; 'this is too
"'Indeed, my dear Miss Bulcher,' said I, 'they are fireworks of
which I have no idea: perhaps our friends the missionaries--'
"'Look, look!' said Belinda, trembling, and clutching tightly hold
of my arm: 'what do I see? yes--no--yes! it is--OUR BUNGALOW IS IN
"It was true, the spacious bungalow occupied by Mrs. Major-General
was at that moment seen a prey to the devouring element--another
and another succeeded it--seven bungalows, before I could almost
ejaculate the name of Jack Robinson, were seen blazing brightly in
the black midnight air!
"I seized my night-glass, and looking towards the spot where the
conflagration raged, what was my astonishment to see thousands of
black forms dancing round the fires; whilst by their lights I could
observe columns after columns of Indian horse, arriving and taking
up their ground in the very middle of the open square or tank,
round which the bungalows were built!
"'Ho, warder!' shouted I (while the frightened and trembling
Belinda clung closer to my side, and pressed the stalwart arm that
encircled her waist), 'down with the drawbridge! see that your
masolgees' (small tumbrels which are used in place of large
artillery) 'be well loaded: you, sepoys, hasten and man the
ravelin! you, choprasees, put out the lights in the embrasures! we
shall have warm work of it to-night, or my name is not Goliah
"The ladies, the guests (to the number of eighty-three), the
sepoys, choprasees, masolgees, and so on, had all crowded on the
platform at the sound of my shouting, and dreadful was the
consternation, shrill the screaming, occasioned by my words. The
men stood irresolute and mute with terror! the women, trembling,
knew scarcely whither to fly for refuge. 'Who are yonder
ruffians?' said I. A hundred voices yelped in reply--some said the
Pindarees, some said the Mahrattas, some vowed it was Scindiah, and
others declared it was Holkar--no one knew.
"'Is there any one here,' said I, 'who will venture to reconnoitre
yonder troops?' There was a dead pause.
"'A thousand tomauns to the man who will bring me news of yonder
army!' again I repeated. Still a dead silence. The fact was that
Scindiah and Holkar both were so notorious for their cruelty, that
no one dared venture to face the danger. Oh for fifty of my brave
Abmednuggarees!' thought I.
"'Gentlemen,' said I, 'I see it--you are cowards--none of you dare
encounter the chance even of death. It is an encouraging prospect:
know you not that the ruffian Holkar, if it be he, will with the
morrow's dawn beleaguer our little fort, and throw thousands of men
against our walls? know you not that, if we are taken, there is no
quarter, no hope; death for us--and worse than death for these
lovely ones assembled here?' Here the ladies shrieked and raised a
howl as I have heard the jackals on a summer's evening. Belinda,
my dear Belinda! flung both her arms round me, and sobbed on my
shoulder (or in my waistcoat-pocket rather, for the little witch
could reach no higher).
"'Captain Gahagan,' sobbed she, 'GO--GO--GOGGLE--IAH!'
"'My soul's adored!' replied I.
"'Swear to me one thing.'
"'That if--that if--the nasty, horrid, odious black Mah-ra-a-a-attahs
take the fort, you will put me out of their power.'
"I clasped the dear girl to my heart, and swore upon my sword that,
rather than she should incur the risk of dishonors she should
perish by my own hand. This comforted her; and her mother, Mrs.
Major-General Bulcher, and her elder sister, who had not until now
known a word of our attachment, (indeed, but for these extraordinary
circumstances, it is probable that we ourselves should never have
discovered it,) were under these painful circumstances made aware of
my beloved Belinda's partiality for me. Having communicated thus her
wish of self-destruction, I thought her example a touching and
excellent one, and proposed to all the ladies that they should
follow it, and that at the entry of the enemy into the fort, and at
a signal given by me, they should one and all make away with
themselves. Fancy my disgust when, after making this proposition,
not one of the ladies chose to accede to it, and received it with
the same chilling denial that my former proposal to the garrison had
"In the midst of this hurry and confusion, as if purposely to add
to it, a trumpet was heard at the gate of the fort, and one of the
sentinels came running to me, saying that a Mahratta soldier was
before the gate with a flag of truce!
"I went down, rightly conjecturing, as it turned out, that the
party, whoever they might be, had no artillery; and received at the
point of my sword a scroll, of which the following is a
"'TO GOLIAH GAHAGAN GUJPUTI.
"'LORD OF ELEPHANTS, SIR,--I have the honor to inform you that I
arrived before this place at eight o'clock P.M. with ten thousand
cavalry under my orders. I have burned, since my arrival,
seventeen bungalows in Furruckabad and Futtyghur, and have likewise
been under the painful necessity of putting to death three
clergymen (mollahs), and seven English officers, whom I found in
the village; the women have been transferred to safe keeping in the
harems of my officers and myself.
"'As I know your courage and talents, I shall be very happy if you
will surrender the fortress, and take service as a major-general
(hookahbadar) in my army. Should my proposal not meet with your
assent, I beg leave to state that to-morrow I shall storm the fort,
and on taking it, shall put to death every male in the garrison,
and every female above twenty years of age. For yourself I shall
reserve a punishment, which for novelty and exquisite torture has,
I flatter myself, hardly ever been exceeded. Awaiting the favor of
a reply, I am, Sir,
"'Your very obedient servant,
"'JESWUNT ROW HOLKAR.
"'CAMP BEFORE FUTTYGHUR, Sept. 1, 1804.
"'R. S. V. P.'
"The officer who had brought this precious epistle (it is astonishing
how Holkar had aped the forms of English correspondence), an
enormous Pitan soldier, with a shirt of mail, and a steel cap and
cape, round which his turban wound, was leaning against the gate on
his matchlock, and whistling a national melody. I read the letter,
and saw at once there was no time to be lost. That man, thought I,
must never go back to Holkar. Were he to attack us now before we
were prepared, the fort would be his in half an hour.
"Tying my white pocket-handkerchief to a stick, I flung open the
gate and advanced to the officer; he was standing, I said, on the
little bridge across the moat. I made him a low salaam, after the
fashion of the country, and, as he bent forward to return the
compliment, I am sorry to say, I plunged forward, gave him a
violent blow on the head, which deprived him of all sensation, and
then dragged him within the wall, raising the drawbridge after me.
"I bore the body into my own apartment: there, swift as thought, I
stripped him of his turban, cammerbund, peijammahs, and papooshes,
and, putting them on myself, determined to go forth and reconnoitre
. . . . . .
Here I was obliged to stop, for Cabrera, Ros d'Eroles, and the rest
of the staff, were sound asleep! What I did in my reconnaisance,
and how I defended the fort of Futtyghur, I shall have the honor of
telling on another occasion.
THE INDIAN CAMP--THE SORTIE FROM THE FORT.
HEAD-QUARTERS, MORELLA, Oct. 3, 1838.
It is a balmy night. I hear the merry jingle of the tambourine,
and the cheery voices of the girls and peasants, as they dance
beneath my casement, under the shadow of the clustering vines. The
laugh and song pass gayly round, and even at this distance I can
distinguish the elegant form of Ramon Cabrera, as he whispers gay
nothings in the ears of the Andalusian girls, or joins in the
thrilling chorus of Riego's hymn, which is ever and anon vociferated
by the enthusiastic soldiery of Carlos Quinto. I am alone, in the
most inaccessible and most bomb-proof tower of our little fortalice;
the large casements are open--the wind, as it enters, whispers in my
ear its odorous recollections of the orange grove and the myrtle
bower. My torch (a branch of the fragrant cedar-tree) flares and
flickers in the midnight breeze, and disperses its scent and burning
splinters on my scroll and the desk where I write--meet implements
for a soldier's authorship!--it is CARTRIDGE paper over which my pen
runs so glibly, and a yawning barrel of gunpowder forms my rough
writing-table. Around me, below me, above me, all--all is peace! I
think, as I sit here so lonely, on my country, England! and muse
over the sweet and bitter recollections of my early days! Let me
resume my narrative, at the point where (interrupted by the
authoritative summons of war) I paused on the last occasion.
I left off, I think--(for I am a thousand miles away from proof-
sheets as I write, and, were I not writing the simple TRUTH, must
contradict myself a thousand times in the course of my tale)--I
think, I say, that I left off at that period of my story, when,
Holkar being before Futtyghur, and I in command of that fortress, I
had just been compelled to make away with his messenger; and,
dressed in the fallen Indian's accoutrements, went forth to
reconnoitre the force, and, if possible, to learn the intentions of
the enemy. However much my figure might have resembled that of the
Pitan, and, disguised in his armor, might have deceived the lynx-
eyed Mahrattas, into whose camp I was about to plunge, it was
evident that a single glance at my fair face and auburn beard would
have undeceived the dullest blockhead in Holkar's army. Seizing,
then, a bottle of Burgess's walnut catsup, I dyed my face and my
hands, and, with the simple aid of a flask of Warren's jet, I made
my hair and beard as black as ebony. The Indian's helmet and chain
hood covered likewise a great part of my face and I hoped thus,
with luck, impudence, and a complete command of all the Eastern
dialects and languages, from Burmah to Afghanistan, to pass scot-
free through this somewhat dangerous ordeal.
I had not the word of the night, it is true--but I trusted to good
fortune for that, and passed boldly out of the fortress, bearing
the flag of truce as before; I had scarcely passed on a couple of
hundred yards, when lo! a party of Indian horsemen, armed like him
I had just overcome, trotted towards me. One was leading a noble
white charger, and no sooner did he see me than, dismounting from
his own horse, and giving the rein to a companion, he advanced to
meet me with the charger; a second fellow likewise dismounted and
followed the first; one held the bridle of the horse, while the
other (with a multitude of salaams, aleikums, and other
genuflexions), held the jewelled stirrup, and kneeling, waited
until I should mount.
I took the hint at once: the Indian who had come up to the fort was
a great man--that was evident; I walked on with a majestic air,
gathered up the velvet reins, and sprung into the magnificent high-
peaked saddle. "Buk, buk," said I. "It is good. In the name of
the forty-nine Imaums, let us ride on." And the whole party set
off at a brisk trot, I keeping silence, and thinking with no little
trepidation of what I was about to encounter.
As we rode along, I heard two of the men commenting upon my unusual
silence (for I suppose, I--that is the Indian--was a talkative
officer). "The lips of the Bahawder are closed," said one. "Where
are those birds of Paradise, his long-tailed words? they are
imprisoned between the golden bars of his teeth!"
"Kush," said his companion, "be quiet! Bobbachy Bahawder has seen
the dreadful Feringhee, Gahagan Khan Gujputi, the elephant-lord,
whose sword reaps the harvest of death; there is but one champion
who can wear the papooshes of the elephant-slayer--it is Bobbachy
"You speak truly, Puneeree Muckun, the Bahawder ruminates on the
words of the unbeliever: he is an ostrich, and hatches the eggs of
"Bekhusm! on my nose be it! May the young birds, his actions, be
strong and swift in flight."
"May they DIGEST IRON!" said Puneeree Muckun, who was evidently a
wag in his way.
"O-ho!" thought I, as suddenly the light flashed upon me. "It was,
then, the famous Bobbachy Bahawder, whom I overcame just now! and
he is the man destined to stand in my slippers, is he?" and I was
at that very moment standing in his own! Such are the chances and
changes that fall to the lot of the soldier!
I suppose everybody--everybody who has been in India, at least--has
heard the name of Bobbachy Bahawder: it is derived from the two
Hindustanee words--bobbachy, general; bahawder, artilleryman. He
had entered into Holkar's service in the latter capacity, and had,
by his merit and his undaunted bravery in action, attained the
dignity of the peacock's feather, which is only granted to noblemen
of the first class; he was married, moreover, to one of Holkar's
innumerable daughters: a match which, according to the Chronique
Scandaleuse, brought more of honor than of pleasure to the poor
Bobbachy. Gallant as he was in the field, it was said that in the
harem he was the veriest craven alive, completely subjugated by his
ugly and odious wife. In all matters of importance the late
Bahawder had been consulted by his prince, who had, as it appears,
(knowing my character, and not caring to do anything rash in his
attack upon so formidable an enemy,) sent forward the unfortunate
Pitan to reconnoitre the fort; he was to have done yet more, as I
learned from the attendant Puneeree Muckun, who was, I soon found
out, an old favorite with the Bobbachy--doubtless on account of his
honesty and love of repartee.
"The Bahawder's lips are closed," said he, at last, trotting up to
me; "has he not a word for old Puneeree Muckun?"
"Bismillah, mashallah, barikallah," said I; which means, "My good
friend, what I have seen is not worth the trouble of relation, and
fills my bosom with the darkest forebodings."
"You could not then see the Gujputi alone, and stab him with your
[Here was a pretty conspiracy!] "No, I saw him, but not alone; his
people were always with him."
"Hurrumzadeh! it is a pity; we waited but the sound of your jogree
(whistle), and straightway would have galloped up and seized upon
every man, woman, and child in the fort: however, there are but a
dozen men in the garrison, and they have not provision for two
days--they must yield; and then hurrah for the moon-faces!
Mashallah! I am told the soldiers who first get in are to have
their pick. How my old woman, Rotee Muckun, will be surprised when
I bring home a couple of Feringhee wives,--ha! ha!"
"Fool!" said I, "be still!--twelve men in the garrison! there are
twelve hundred! Gahagan himself is as good as a thousand men; and
as for food, I saw with my own eyes five hundred bullocks grazing
in the court-yard as I entered." This WAS a bouncer, I confess;
but my object was to deceive Puneeree Muckun, and give him as high
a notion as possible of the capabilities of defence which the
"Pooch, pooch," murmured the men; "it is a wonder of a fortress: we
shall never be able to take it until our guns come up."
There was hope then! they had no battering-train. Ere this
arrived, I trusted that Lord Lake would hear of our plight, and
march down to rescue us. Thus occupied in thought and conversation,
we rode on until the advanced sentinel challenged us, when old
Puneeree gave the word, and we passed on into the centre of Holkar's
It was a strange--a stirring sight! The camp-fires were lighted;
and round them--eating, reposing, talking, looking at the merry
steps of the dancing-girls, or listening to the stories of some
Dhol Baut (or Indian improvisatore) were thousands of dusky
soldiery. The camels and horses were picketed under the banyan-
trees, on which the ripe mango fruit was growing, and offered them
an excellent food. Towards the spot which the golden fish and
royal purdahs, floating in the wind, designated as the tent of
Holkar, led an immense avenue--of elephants! the finest street,
indeed, I ever saw. Each of the monstrous animals had a castle on
its back, armed with Mauritanian archers and the celebrated Persian
matchlock-men: it was the feeding time of these royal brutes, and
the grooms were observed bringing immense toffungs, or baskets,
filled with pine-apples, plantains, bandannas, Indian corn, and
cocoa-nuts, which grow luxuriantly at all seasons of the year. We
passed down this extraordinary avenue--no less than three hundred
and eighty-eight tails did I count on each side--each tail
appertaining to an elephant twenty-five feet high--each elephant
having a two-storied castle on its back--each castle containing
sleeping and eating rooms for the twelve men that formed its
garrison, and were keeping watch on the roof--each roof bearing a
flag-staff twenty feet long on its top, the crescent glittering
with a thousand gems, and round it the imperial standard,--each
standard of silk velvet and cloth-of-gold, bearing the well-known
device of Holkar, argent an or gules, between a sinople of the
first, a chevron, truncated, wavy. I took nine of these myself in
the course of a very short time after, and shall be happy, when I
come to England, to show them to any gentleman who has a curiosity
that way. Through this gorgeous scene our little cavalcade passed,
and at last we arrived at the quarters occupied by Holkar.
That celebrated chieftain's tents and followers were gathered round
one of the British bungalows which had escaped the flames, and
which he occupied during the siege. When I entered the large room
where he sat, I found him in the midst of a council of war; his
chief generals and viziers seated round him, each smoking his
hookah, as is the common way with these black fellows, before, at,
and after breakfast, dinner, supper, and bedtime. There was such a
cloud raised by their smoke you could hardly see a yard before you--
another piece of good luck for me--as it diminished the chances of
my detection. When, with the ordinary ceremonies, the kitmatgars
and consomahs had explained to the prince that Bobbachy Bahawder,
the right eye of the Sun of the universe (as the ignorant heathens
called me), had arrived from his mission, Holkar immediately
summoned me to the maidaun, or elevated platform, on which he was
seated in a luxurious easy-chair, and I, instantly taking off my
slippers, falling on my knees, and beating my head against the
ground ninety-nine times, proceeded, still on my knees, a hundred
and twenty feet through the room, and then up the twenty steps
which led to his maidaun--a silly, painful, and disgusting
ceremony, which can only be considered as a relic of barbarian
darkness, which tears the knees and shins to pieces, let alone the
pantaloons. I recommend anybody who goes to India, with the
prospect of entering the service of the native rajahs, to recollect
my advice and have them WELL-WADDED.
Well, the right eye of the Sun of the universe scrambled as well as
he could up the steps of the maidaun (on which in rows, smoking, as
I have said, the musnuds or general officers were seated), and I
arrived within speaking-distance of Holkar, who instantly asked me
the success of my mission. The impetuous old man thereon poured
out a multitude of questions: "How many men are there in the fort?"
said he; "how many women? Is it victualled? Have they ammunition?
Did you see Gahagan Sahib, the commander? did you kill him?"
All these questions Jeswunt Row Holkar puffed out with so many
whiffs of tobacco.
Taking a chillum myself, and raising about me such a cloud that,
upon my honor as a gentleman, no man at three yards' distance could
perceive anything of me except the pillar of smoke in which I was
encompassed, I told Holkar, in Oriental language of course, the
best tale I could with regard to the fort.
"Sir" said I, "to answer your last question first--that dreadful
Gujputi I have seen--and he is alive: he is eight feet, nearly, in
height; he can eat a bullock daily (of which he has seven hundred
at present in the compound, and swears that during the siege he
will content himself with only three a week): he has lost in battle
his left eye; and what is the consequence? O Ram Gunge" (O thou-
night), "Goliah Gujputi--NEVER SLEEPS!"
"Ah, you Ghorumsaug (you thief of the world)," said the Prince
Vizier, Saadut Alee Beg Bimbukchee--"it's joking you are;"--and
there was a universal buzz through the room at the announcement of
"By the hundred and eleven incarnations of Vishnu," said I,
solemnly, (an oath which no Indian was ever known to break,) "I
swear that so it is: so at least he told me, and I have good cause
to know his power. Gujputi is an enchanter: he is leagued with
devils; he is invulnerable. Look," said I, unsheathing my dagger--
and every eye turned instantly towards me--"thrice did I stab him
with this steel--in the back, once--twice right through the heart;
but he only laughed me to scorn, and bade me tell Holkar that the
steel was not yet forged which was to inflict an injury upon him."
I never saw a man in such a rage as Holkar was when I gave him this
somewhat imprudent message.
"Ah, lily-livered rogue!" shouted he out to me, "milk-blooded
unbeliever! pale-faced miscreant! lives he after insulting thy
master in thy presence! In the name of the prophet, I spit on
thee, defy thee, abhor thee, degrade thee! Take that, thou liar of
the universe! and that--and that--and that!"
Such are the frightful excesses of barbaric minds! every time this
old man said, "Take that," he flung some article near him at the
head of the undaunted Gahagan--his dagger, his sword, his carbine,
his richly ornamented pistols, his turban covered with jewels,
worth a hundred thousand crores of rupees--finally, his hookah,
snake mouthpiece, silver-bell, chillum and all--which went hissing
over my head, and flattening into a jelly the nose of the Grand
"Yock muzzee! my nose is off;" said the old man, mildly. Will you
have my life, O Holkar? it is thine likewise!" and no other word of
complaint escaped his lips.
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