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blog 577: the great plan is revealed! and it is brilliant! Son # 1! got to love him!

The great princes have great principalities with great palaces and ancient forts and durbars of paralyzing ritual and mind boggling pomp and circumstances. They engage in extravagant processions. Their handlers create great occasions of darshan where they are both seen and can see their people —from afar. The rituals of the pomp and circumstances are byzantine. Even their diwans or prime ministers are distant. The zenanas and other private quarters are locked away from all eyes but eunuchs. They are demigods. But! But!

To escape the byzantine pomp and circumstances and to escape the golden cage of their greatness the great royals of India engage in Shikar or the Royal Hunt. Hunting is both an escape and a sport. It is the only time they can ever experience ‘informal’ spontaneity outside the bailiwicks of protocol. It is a particular form of darshan display. It is a way to display their machismo or valor in the hunt because they are never ever allowed near a battlefield. Hunting is a ritual substitute for War. It is also a mythic return to Eden as you British say. The return to the magical wilderness of the Ancient Primeval Time before Time when rajahs and gods and magical things once met face to face. Thus it is no more and more less than when they attend their patron god or goddess in their family temple. It is a chance to meet their god, or at least a god, face to face and reaffirm that they might be rajahs and nawabs and princes but there are other beings and gods and even humble souls who are greater than they are — which is important to a true royal! Hunting is a time for them to deliver a nazar coin to their superiors: the Wilderness of the Sacred and the Divine. And finally, hunting is a convert way to engage in secret diplomatic intrigue or negotiations.

And on a more humble level the great royals keep Royal Reserves and Royal Forests where nobody is allowed to hunt unless they are royal. So the only people in a royal hunting preserve are defiant outlaws, ascetics and gurus there to prove no one is greater than the gods, and …..guests with invitations. And if a munshi writes to another munshi both boasting of his sahib, who is a very bold hunter, and praising the reputation of the royal preserve then there is a very good chance that bold hunter will be given permission to hunt because it reflects on the boldness of the royal to have such a famous preserve that another bold hunter would ask to hunt there!”

Everyone said ‘Ahhh’ in unison. Son # 1 bowed his head. “I suspect the Royal Munshi will have been told to look out for a particular name of a particular bold hunter. If we plot a hunting expedition through and around the borders of the Punjab, both in Rajasthan, and then south along the underbelly of the Indian Mason Dixon Line through the Maratha Principalites, and write to each Royal Munshi then I suspect we be invited to hunt —- or not. Not? The Royal is secretly saying no. And that is an answer. We will know what side the Royal may be inclining toward. If the answer is yes then I suspect we will be informally contacted during the hunt by a munshi or retainer or officer or hunter of the Royal Household. Contact: Share the contents of the Wahhabi File. Also briefs by Rai Memsahib and Rosh Sahib. Cover letter by myself. Speeches for you prepared by myself. Followup by Son # 2 as your munshi. See what happens. At the very least the Big Game will be aware of the true meaning behind the propaganda that Azimullah Khan is also delivering no less than us!”

“Bravo!” I shouted as everyone applauded Son # 1 who bowed before accepting a Western Style British kiss from his wife. “What about the need to exchange gifts? Rich gifts? Which we cannot afford? Or the diplomatic storm in a teacup of being expected to offer a nazar coin of homage? As a British officer I cannot offer a nazar. It is saying I am swearing an oath to a commanding personage other than Queen Victoria. I am not expecting a durbar with a chair at equal height to the royal or the right to wear shoes at a durbar. I am desperately hoping not to even see the inside of the lair of the Big Game! But I cannot offer a nazar.”

“A dana gift from an equal to an equal — hunter to hunter. You should offer the trophy of the hunt to the Big Game. The Big Game may accept or not. That does not mean yay or nay.”

“That is like the Pathan offer of a gift : ‘I am so honored oh khan! But I am traveling light! Save it for me until another time!’”

Son # 1 nodded. “Exactly Uncle Sahib!” “Meanwhile, Son # 2 will be contacting the munshi. You hunt. Let your Sons do the diplomatic Dance! I will do the preliminaries along with Rai Memsahib and Rosh Sahib and then Son # 2 will deliver the follow-through.”

“I am the Trojan Horse! I get everyone through the side door!” Everyone laughed. “A horse I can perform as! But how can I leave Peshawar?”

“This will be during Cold Season. You have never asked for a vacation other than the required 10 year break. This a walkabout to use a new British slang from Australia. A hunting expedition. In India everyone who is anyone hunts. Officially this is all this is. A hunting walkabout! You are owed. Half of your Indian family will stay here and run the show. Half will travel with you. I suggest Son # 2 who is your munshi, Brother # 2 who is your aide de camp, and Father Grand as your valet. Also, Khan Son # 1. This will be an opportunity for a genuine hunt for him. And he can back up Brother # 2. Plus five members of Wah! Rai Memsahib and Rosh Sahib and Brother # 1 can do the law and order here. . Brother # 3 can hold down the fort. I will do the protocols. Peshawar will be safe! I can contact you by telegraph at prearranged points all along the walkabout. Also dawk military posts. We will use a code. Sister Auntie must do the cooking here for the durbars and Mother Grand commands the show here as she always does — most capably. Uncle can help her. Does this please everyone?”

“What a master plan!” Brother # 2 exclaimed.

“And your order from London has arrived to thank her — indirectly of course!” My Indian Mother held up the box. Inside was my order from an antique store in London: a portrait of the legendary Queen Elizabeth as Gloriana. Hundreds had been painted during her lifetime and this was not a first rate masterpiece but through Uncle Hogg I had scored a handsome original nevertheless. And Gloriana glowed in regal splendor, not per say beautiful, but still majestic and very amazonian.

“There is a story” I said. “When the executioner chopped off the head of Mary, Queen of Scots, the head bounced to the floor. The executioner tried to pick up the head as Mary’s little dog was sniffing it. He picked the head up by the famous red hair. And it came off! It was a red wig! And everyone in the audience broke out into hysterical laughter!”

“I wonder if the ex-Rani of Jhansi wears a wig?” Son # 2 asked.

The Victorian Blogs of John Nicholson continue with ‘The Victorian Blogs of John Nicholson and the Great Mutiny of 1857’ on WordPress.
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blog 576: the clue is hunting but i still don’t see it!

“Look Sahib” Son # 1 said. “The clue is hunting.”

“The clue is hunting!” everyone agreed.

“So I am your expert in durbars and social diplomacy. The bailiwick of Social Ritual. So let me explain the hint: Hunting.” Everyone turned toward the handsome young Indian in his dashing tunic and turban. He pulled out a map and hung it for everyone to see. “We can guesstimate where the danger zones will likely be.” He pointed to red circles. We know from Hobson who has yet again ridden to Meerut on your request and confirmed Meerut is …”

“Shit” I said.

“Not up to par with the Corp of Guides” he finished. “And alas, you request for Chamberlain to request that Skinners be posted there has been, alas, denied. Not that Chamberlain did not try! So we are facing red circles here in the NorthEAST Punjab! And the Corp of Guides is here in the NorthWEST Punjab. Skinners has been redeployed and may not be able to provide any help in 1857 at all. The Crimea has sucked a lot of British regiments out of India. The latest reports are promising that the war may be resolved in a ….”

“Shitty face saving manner soon” I finished.

“Resolved by a brilliant diplomatic move by the ever brilliant Prince Albert” Son # 1 finished.

“Before we all lose face in an utterly humiliating defeat” I added.

“In a durbar the Russians have requested because the Enfield Rifle along with a belated supplying of the army has changed the situation from …”

“Disaster to salvage” I finished.

“So we might have some regiments back in India by 1857″ Son # 1 added. “To augment the Corp of Guides. Henry’s Boys are all recruiting Punjabis and Pathans into new and improved regiments because Tayler and his spy organization, which has a new title, Military Intelligence One …”

“Or as Hobson says, ‘MI 1 for Oxymoron’” I added.

“Tayler says 1857 will a ‘demanding year’” Son # 1 finished. “ We have flagged with red flags every single unit of sepoys and sowars recruited in Oudh or part of the Bengal Army.” He waved one handsome hand across the entire Punjab. It looks like the pox!

“Looks like smallpox” I snarled. “And it will spread like the Pox! And every single red flag will have to be disbanded or arrested in 1857 once the ‘Show’ starts! I have contacted some regiments and their reactions prove everyone thinks I am a total nutter. They are all swearing their sepoys are ‘loyal to the death for me’. They will wake up one morning strumming harps in pearly heaven!”

“The hope of contacting the commanders of suspect companies is not going well” Son # 2 added. “They simply don’t believe us. They are absolutely sure the Bengal Army units they command are absolutely loyal. There is no point continuing to try to correspond.”

“We must prepare for events in 1857″ Son # 1 continued. “By monitoring intel to try to anticipate events, react quickly to events, and minimize the collateral damage by…”

“Got to love Son # 1″ I roared out to Rai Memsahib!” She laughed and kissed Son # 1 which momentarily flustered him. But only momentarily! “I am not making fun Son # 1″ I protested. “I am so proud of you! I feel like the ties on my chest tunic are bursting!” The rest of my Indian Family burst into applause.

“Thus we need to communicate the contents of the Wahhabi Conspiracy File, which is very persuasive, to key principalities and Traditional Big Royal Houses of India based on both prestige and historic authority and geography to contain the events in 1857″ Son # 1 continued blushing but straight faced.

“Quarantine the Pox!” I said.

“Exactly! The Big Royals.” He pointed to Indore and Gwalior and Baroda and Hyderabad. “Geographically the Big Royals run along the south Indian Mason Dixon Line in the Indian Heartland of the Decca. The Maratha Principalities. The Corridor to Bombay. [Pointing dramatically with one finger.] The Corridor to Calcutta.[Pointing dramatically with another finger.] And note how two key Royals, Gwalior and Bhopal surround and contain a hot spot called Jhansi! Thus!

And we must also contact the key Rajput Dynasties of Rajasthan. Well, all of the Rajputs because they are so prickly leaving one out will offend them all! Rajasthan buttresses the south part of the Northwest Punjab. Securing them secures the Northwest Punjab to allow the Corp of Guides to move across the Punjab to the hot spots in the Northeast Punjab. Thus!

Plus two key Sikh principalities of the Northeast Punjab which are just north of Delhi which can contain the infection thus! Plus Jammu and Kashmiri which is the North Punjab. That will be mostly diplomatic but the Rajah of Jammu and Kashmiri might face a serious jihad that will threaten the movement of the Corp of Guides eastward ! And he can also assist us in diplomatically wooing the Big Royals.

And if the Dost of Kabul plays it cagey and waits for victory before invading then we will stabilize the Northwest Punjab to allow the Corp of Guides to march toward the Northeast Punjab from Multan thus toward the suspected hot spots located in Doab and Oudh. The Wahhabi bastions are Delhi, Tonk, Patna, and Bareilly. We know that Lucknow and Cawnpore will be involved. Also Delhi. Suttana here can be held by local drafts quite easily. It has no military value but it’s seizure can give us propaganda value!

Here is a list of contacts in priority of contact! Thus! The top of the list is the Rajah of Jammu and Kashmiri. You are always routing him information and he is always contacting you. In fact we should have contacted the rajah before now! He can and will be a key player. He is silky in his contacts and he knows absolutely everyone. He is witty and sly and is popular with the very people we are targeting. But he is farsighted and tenacious behind his facade of a sly rogue and witty raconteur. And he is definitely opposed to the Wahhabists who are both ideologically and morally opposed to him because of his implacable opposition to Dar al Islam being declared in any part of India and his own grim experience with Dar al Harb. And Edwardes is already working with the Amirs of Sindh.

So we move down to the two key Sikh rajahs here and here. We can contact them directly because you do have legitimate standing in the Sikh Community. [I shook my head but he wagged a finger at me.] And you do have legitimate standing in the Sikh Community! You have been on the side of the Sikh Reformers since you were a lowly lieutenant just arrived from Afghanistan.”

“Give or take two wars” I reminded Son # 1.

“Which you waged with honor and valor while trying to resolve the situation with respect and dignity and in your badger way — sympathy. You are Nikal Seyn. The Sikhs respect a fellow soldier who respects them. So we can contact the Sikh Rajahs right now. Ditto the Sikh Commander of the famous Hyderabad Regiment. He of course will route our correspondence directly to the Nizam himself as any loyal officer should and must do. Thus we have an unofficial top secret channel to the Nizam who could not otherwise contact us! But will want to! So everyone will respond!” The whole tent’s occupants applauded Son # 1 proudly.

“So that just leaves the Rajputs and the ‘Big Game’.” He pointed to the Rajputs of Rajasthan and the Maratha Big Royals.

“The ‘Big Game’” I replied gesturing quote marks around the British slang.

“Now the ‘Big Game’ are indeed too big to contact – directly. But I suspect ‘Gloriana’ of Bhopal have introduced your name to them already. So we just have to indirectly contact them and see if the fly will cause the trout to bite. The fly is ‘hunting’.

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blog 575: the clue is hunting!

I carefully read her letter to the Tribe of Nicholson. “Intriguing” Rai Memsahib replied. “She does not want to be caught by history telling you how to stop a civil war in 1857 but ….. she knows you can impress people John.”

“By hunting tigers?” I asked.

“Metaphor” Rosh Sahib replied.

“Yes but I don’t think I can just send copies of our Wahhabi file to perfect strangers so I will actually have to correspond and perhaps even…..visit!” The horror was reflected in my voice. I was not a social animal in any form or shape or stripe!

“We can do the correspondence” Son # 2 said. Rosh Sahib and Rai Memsahib nodded.

“Perhaps an offer of hunting or polo or cricket here?” Khan Son # 1 suggested.

“We are talking about the biggest royals in India!” I shot back, knocking down his bailiwick. “It would be like inviting Prince Albert to tea! I might be able to chat with ‘Nero’ because he has chosen to continue our links forged during that bloody year of freezing hell in Kashmiri but I could not even get accepted to a durbar by the Amirs of Sindh. The big Rajput Princes would laugh. Holkar? Just writing to him would be deemed an insult. And for complex reasons I have not dared contact Scindia of Gwalior despite the fact I long ago assisted him.”

“Saved his life” Brother # 2 added.

“But I was employed by a professional thief at the time which is a tad embarrassing and I don’t want him to feel even more disappointed in me than he probably already is. And he is grown up now. Children who grow up see the feet of clay their childish eyes originally missed.”

“At least we can write to the Rajah of Jammu and Kashmiri right now” Brother # 2 suggested. “And you have an entry to Jodhpur through ….. you know who…..” Brother # 2 added.

“And you can write to the Commander of the Hyderabad Contingent of the Nizam asking advice — soldier to soldier!” Brother # 1 suggested.. “You have always kept your links to every Sikh Reform movement and are supporting their boycott of Sikh temples run by bogus Hindu overseers who are installing idols and muddying the Sikh Orthodoxy.”

“I am not good with people on a —-social— level” I warned everyone. It was an obvious fact but one that could not be repeated too often!

“But we cannot just shoot off letters uninvited unless…. we ….. are writing in your name in some capacity. Hunting. Big clue! Hunting!” Rai Memsahib pointed to my tiger rug. Khan Son # 1 bent down and shook it as if it was alive.

“And you have your tiger poshteen jacket which any rajah or nawab would be impressed with! And I can sew top uniforms” my Uncle suggested as my Father nodded. “We will dress you to look as fine as any one of those illustrious princes of India!”

“And officers don’t wear jewels which is fortunate because you don’t own any” Brother # 3 added. “But I can make sure you have the best horse!”

“But my clumsy blundering will not only offend the targets but announce to the Wahhabi Conspirators I am trying to contact and influence key royals against them while alerting John Lawrence who has given me an unofficial order to keep out of diplomatic concerns which are the perks of Regency Officers like himself. We cannot be seen doing this!”

“Hunting!” everyone shouted. “That is the big clue? Right?”

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blog 574: the oily snake slithers!

Anyway! Back to gossip! What a wicked boy that Azimullah Khan is! I don’t know if he is a ‘Nancy Boy’ as you say. An oily blackguard! But I do confess the one and only time I met him the Oudh perfume was so thick it dripped down his forehead! He does lay it on too thick!

And Azimullah Khan has written to the Nizam of Hyderabad, whose kingdom is a key linchpin to the Decca, appealing to his passion for religion — howbeit not with the same silky diplomacy. Being a Wahhabi he is instinctively compelled to insult anything that is either Akbar or else Sufi. The Wahhabists loathe and detest both violently, almost as violently as they hate the British and all kafir Westerners and native born Hindu. Alias, the Nizam happens to admire both Akbar and the Sufi inordinately. Hyderabad is a mostly Hindu principality which the Nizams have ruled by appealing to the great Akbar’s vision of Universal Brotherhood plus the Sufi vision of Universal Divine Love that alone sets the soul free. The Sufi have always been a bridge that used to bind Islam and Hindu India together. The Sufi are certainly the mortar that binds Hyderabad. The Nizams have survived by downplaying Muslim fanaticism and intolerance. A new Islamic Jihad against British kafirs would logically end up an Islamic Jihad against all kafirs and the Hindu have been the most persecuted of all kafirs.

At the same time Azimullah Khan writes to certain Wahhabi clerics and mullahs and imams in Hyderabad and particularly Maulavie Ibrahim to raise the green flag of jihad. The latter has not been on friendly terms with the Nizam because Wahhabist believe in Islam first and do not believe in loyalty to either nations or principalities. This Maulavie Ibrahim has been very disloyal to the Nazam. The Maulavie Ibrahim has stirred up ill feelings with the majority non Muslim inhabitants and especially the large Sikh population. The key Hyderabad Contingent is mostly Sikh. Did you know that? Isn’t that an odd thing? Hyderabad being a bastion of misplaced Sikhs?

Recently a fatwa as been issued against the Nizam himself accusing him of being decadent because he is financing the railroad into Hyderabad as well as embracing the telegraph, schools, and other reforms such as I have embraced here in Bhopal. The fatwa also accuses the Nizam of not being sufficiently passionate toward Islam, and being too kindly toward those damnable Sikhs and Hindu. He will not force them to convert, refuses to tax them as defiant kafirs, and respects all places as worship. As a prince he can impose his own rules yet he rules as if by British Law rather than the Law of Allah. And the fatwa reminded him that any Muslim who is not sufficiently passionate toward Islam can be and will be executed per the law of Takfir.

The Nizam was also pointedly reminded that Kharijite terrorist Jihadists and Ghazi Slayers of all enemies of Islam will be waving the green flag of jihad at a certain time in the future on a certain anniversary of a long ago victory to correspond to a particularly holy Muslim day on the calender. So the accurst Sikh infidels, and all the filthy harbi defiant British kafirs, and the najasat unclean Hindu, will not be the ONLY ONES to perish as India is transformed into Dar al Islam.

For some reason the Nizam found this upsetting and we have been corresponding about the finer points of Wahhabi Islam ever since. I have shared your fascinating file with him. He is very intrigued. You have collected such interesting facts! Why have you not shared them with Scindia of Gwalior?

Oh yes! I have forgotten! I did mention quite casually to certain friends that you hunt tigers Mughal style. They are intrigued and have asked to meet you, being rousing hunters themselves. Do you mind my bantering you name about with such famous hunters such as the Holkar of Indore and the Rajah of Jodhpur? And did you know the young Rajah of Jaipur is a worshiper of Shiva? Like you?

Well! What a long letter! I fear I ramble! I hope I have not bored you! Fair well dear John. Can I call you John? I hope you will write back soon with amusing gossip and tall tales of hunting tigers …..”

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blog 573: the problem with enfield rifles is not the obvious problem

By the way, I do enjoy the new pin rifle you have sent to me. Also, the Enfield rifle. But I wonder how that revolutionary piece of engineering will effect the rank and file sepoy? You and I are used to rifles. We expect to aim at a particular thing far away and actually hit it. Sniping and sharpshooting is second nature to us. But the ordinary sepoy of the Bengal Army for two centuries has been trained only to stand in straight lines and fire in volleys on command. They have never been asked to actually try to hit anything. I know it sounds ridiculous but soldiers since guns have been invented have only concentrated on shooting volleys of bullets filling the air of the battlefield in a grapeshot of fire showering down on the enemy. It is not the same thing as deliberately aiming at a particular soul and firing to kill him.

Rifle regiments have always been the elite along with the artillery. The best are recruited and the mediocre are shuffled off to regular companies. Riflemen think differently and act differently. They have to take the initiative. They are ahead of the army as the advance eyes and ears. They operate behind the lines. They are snipers. They are assassins. They are the cutting edge. The ordinary sepoy cannot compare. And therefore historically the rifle regiments and the regular regiments have been rivals and resentful or contemptuous of each other. The rifle regiments have lorded it over the ‘mere sepoys’ and the ‘mere sepoys’ feel loss of face. In the bazaars the riflemen get the best whores.

Now you say the entire army can become riflemen but I rather suspect the ‘mere sepoys’ are in fact feeling anxious rather than eager and nervous and perhaps, dare I say this, afraid of the new Enfield Rifle because it is so revolutionary. The maintenance must change drastically. The cleaning. The fouling in battle. The loading ritual must change. The cartridge is drastically different. The range is not 100 feet but rather 1000 feet. That is drastic! Your gift to me has a scope but even the regulation sniper guide on the rifle is drastically revolutionary to the ‘mere sepoy’. The impact is shocking. The damage to the body. Before, a sepoy might shoot in a volley but tell his soul ‘I don’t know if I am hitting anybody. I am paid to shoot but that does not mean I am being paid to kill’.

Now that same sepoy will be put at a gunnery range and a British or Sikh or Gurkha officer or expert sniper will point to an distant target and say ‘Shoot at that tiny target a 1000 feet away and I expect you to hit it! At 900 feet I expect you to score a bull’s eye. In battle I expect you to kill the enemy dead. Now you are a sniper! No more lines. No more mates beside you. You move along the landscape. You shoot from trees. You shoot behind rocks. You are out in the field alone and no officer is telling you when to shoot. Your job is to shoot to kill. Now compute the distance in your head and fire and hit that target!’

I think the ordinary sepoy will not be able to do this. The ordinary sepoy will freeze and panic. Then the ordinary sepoy will go out and get drunk or intoxicated on drugs and wail and cry. And the bazaar whores will despise him and ridicule him. And the rifle snipers and marksmen will laugh at him. And he will both fear and hate the Enfield because it is a threat to his job. Then he will justify his fear and his hatred by finding excuses for failing or not even trying.

‘The gun is bad magic. The gun is impossible. The ritual to load it is bad magic. The cartridge is bad magic. Taboo. Tainted. Who knows how it is made? It probably has evil things in it. Even if I make the cartridge myself I know the cartridge will be evil. It is a plot. A fiendish plot. Using the Enfield will break my caste. It is polluting. It is a conspiracy to make me fail. Then they will fire me and replace me with people I hate: Low Castes, Sikhs, Gurkhas, Scots. It is deliberate. To make me lose face. It is an insult to my honor. They are making me kill my fellow Indians. I never had to kill my fellow Indians before! I just had to shoot. There is a difference. Now with the Enfield I will know I am murdering my fellow Indians!’

So you see, the Enfield Rifle is not just another new gun. It is the greatest nightmare the Bengal Army has faced since it was created. And if rumors are already circulating that the Bengal Army is going to be disbanded ,or should be disbanded, or modernized, or merged into the Bombay and Madras Armies as one modern super army, or merged with the Skinners or the Corp of Guides who are impossibly brilliant, or if new and better soldiers are being recruited to replace every sepoy because the sepoys are obsolete, or if the army is to be downsized ,or soldiers are to be made redundant, pruned, any excuse to be gotten rid of, or any of the other rumors presently circulating, then the Enfield Rifle might prove to the ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. After all, most sepoys are men who have failed at getting any other job. That is why they are sepoys. If they lose their jobs then they are what? Nothing. Failures. They will not be able to go home for the shame. Or provide funds to their families. What else can they do? Beg? Die?

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blog 572: a diamond necklace of dewy spider’s webs

Likewise Rajah Singh of Jammu and Kashmiri finds Nana Sahib’s self promotion ‘infantile’ to use his own words — especially as Azimullah Khan is inflaming the radical Muslims in Kashmiri against him and all the surviving Hindu Pandits who have not been butchered in Jihad Wars of bloody intensity as I believe you can testify. Ever the wag, he as written to me that ‘Nana Sahib and Azimullah Khan’s bright and sparkling diamond necklace appears to be on closer inspection a dewy covered spider’s web spun to catch foolish flies. I fear it nought but King Cobra’s superstition’s last fang bite before it’s head is chopped off. It is nought in fact but an attempt by the disgruntled failures of the old order to steal back their petty kingdoms and bankrupt principalities which they lost in the first place by incompetence, greed, corruption, or stupidity. In one hundred years I fancy a rich book, hand bounded, and lavish with illustrations, documenting the great forts and palaces of the great dynasties of India will not mention either Oudh or Cawnpore or Jhansi just as the history books now do not record the name of neither the Nawab of Bengal or his palace who once lorded over Clive. And as for Tipu Sultan of Mysore — look who rules there? Not his scion. Rather the scion chosen by the British rule in Mysore.’

Nana Sahib, all through Azimullah Khan of course, is also writing to the Amirs of Sindh and Dost of Kabul appealing to their religious fever as Muslims first and foremost. I know because the Amirs of Sindh then write to me, a fellow Muslim. Naturally this leaves the Sikhs out of the game. Not that the Sikhs would ever join any Wahhabi Conspiracy that would join them to Mughals or Muslims or jihadists who have warred against them for centuries and tortured and killed their gurus. What a pity that during the last war the Afghan invaders were so blooded when a surefire war recoiled like a bad matchlock musket exploding in the face of the shooter. And then there was General Gilbert’s brutally effective chase after the Afghan ‘foxes’ in that rousing ‘foxhunt’ he engaged in! And Moses Abbott’s masterful handling of Pathans torn between Afghans and you British! Picking up a handful of dust and blowing it into the air as if to say ‘Gone! And so will you be!’.

Dost of Kabul might just be reconsidering his no-so-secret pack with Russia that you exposed in that clever little spying trip in Saint Petersburg a few years ago! Especially now that suddenly the Crimea has pivoted, as wars are known to do, from victory for Russia to possible salvage by Britain as their legendary iqbad materializes in the form of new Enfield Rifles. And perhaps Edwardes’ wooing might bear surprising fruit after all. Is there not a saying ‘To be fooled once is a pity but to be fooled twice is a folly’? The Second Sikh War appeared to be such a sure thing for the Dost but ….. well… and can anyone realistically think Azimullah Khan’s opium pipe dream can really materialize or that Sittana can really be a new capital of a glorious new Wahhabi Muslim Caliphate? At least Kabul is not just a pile of mud hovels! And I hear the Amirs of Sindh and weighing their options very carefully — and that Edwardes is wooing them with silky diplomacy. I hear Edwardes is so silky I wish he would woo me— diplomatically.

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