chapter  V
49 Pages

The Indian Empire

A SENSE of failure and a sense of achievement are combined in much of the British writing about India after the revolt of 1857, which, according to one London journal, ended the romantic age in Anglo-Indian relations and began a new era of realism and caution.2 The Mutiny created a sense of outrage in Victorian Britain (in the same way that the Jamaica rebellion was resented) because it seemed to indicate a gross ingratitude on the part of the Indian people. Moral and political reforms begun in the 1830s and designed to create an efficient administration had instead alienated princes and landowners, alarmed traditionalists, and offended the religious - and particularly caste - sensibilities of the native troops, provoking two major revolts before 1857. A motley coalition of the discontented during that year took advantage of the mutiny in the Bengal Army (triggered off by the introduction of a new cartridge said to be greased with cow or pig fat, the first offensive to the Hindus, the second to the Moslems), but were united by little except opposition to the consolidation of British power. Accordingly the revolt was suppressed without serious difficulty, but with great bloodshed and bitterness.