On The Second Mutiny:
Being a Pamphlet For Arrivals
By Arthur Conan Doyle
Distributed by the Calcutta Refugee Relief Society, 1880
We face a crisis of proportions unknown to the annals of human history - stricken by cataclysm, you have left the Homeland for the exotic shores of our far-flung dominions. Your ordeal, however, is not yet over.
Barely twenty years hence, we overcame the brazen revolt of brigands and Thuggee known colloquially as the 'Indian Mutiny'. Many of you will now be called forth to crush another, far larger in scale. A few words on the current state of affairs will, it is my hope, lend you a greater understanding of the titanic struggle into which we have all been drawn.
Minor uprisings began as soon as the extent of damage in England was realised, but they were put down without great difficulty, as more and more of the British army and large numbers of refugees capable of bearing arms arrived. The first serious outbreaks of unrest occurred when it became clear that the 1879-1880 harvest would be catastrophically bad throughout India; crop failures were worst in the mountain valleys of the Himalayas and the northwest, but flooding and unseasonable rain also damaged fields throughout the Indo-Gangetic plain. Only south of the Deccan and in Ceylon were yields sufficient even for subsistence levels, and there was no surplus for non-agricultural populations at all.
Contrary to rumours among our native subjects, little if any food was shipped to Britain. However, the Imperial administration did obviously give first priority to refugees streaming in from the Home Islands, and to those martial races of proven loyalty - for example the Gurkhas, who have been forced into the lowlands until it is possible to recolonise Nepal. Rumours that food was plentiful in 'some other province', and that the ships returning to England were stuffed with grain, spread like a plague and inflamed tensions among the suggestible peasants.
Rejecting pleas for calm by Imperial authorities, many in the northern lowlands, and particularly the Princely realm of Hyderabad, have raised the blood-soaked banner of Mutiny. This great swell of rabble soon overran rural garrisons, and presently we find ourselves besieged within the great cities of the sub-continent. Our surviving colonies in Africa and Oceania are of late weighed down by their own chaotic affairs, and indeed, until this insurrection is suppressed, it will not prove possible to restore regular travel and commerce between the corners of the Empire. We must fight - all of us, we men of fair Britannia.
We shall see tyranny and barbarism civilised only by the exertions and virtue befitting a governing people. We have faced an Armageddon in which the seas of the round world ran purple with blood and flame, and - it may be that this is not beyond the bounds of possibility - it may be that we should succumb. If so, we would use language which Nelson and his marines and blue jackets would understand; we would fall as they fell, and die as our fathers died, with the Jack still floating nailed to the mast, leaving a name without parallel, and which never could have parallel. Much more likely, we shall send the cut-throats skulking back to their proper station, and make the three crossed flag still more the world's flag of freedom.
This Empire will go forward, becoming greater in power and a still greater blessing to mankind: a federation of free nations. The centuries will make millennia, and yet it is my belief, and hope, and fervent prayer that beauty's ensign will be purple on those Imperial lips, and the day beyond the forecast of man when death's pale flag will be advanced on the Imperial brow.
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