|Brind's Hotel Madras|
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the British had come to
believe they were a chosen race; chosen to distribute the benefits of
western civilization to the backward areas of the globe. That the
inhabitants of such areas often didnít want these benefits and certainly
not the accompanying British control of their lives was immaterial to
Britainís sense of a mission. Native opposition frequently required
military force to be brought against it and few years passed without the
British Army being involved, somewhere in the empire, in a continual
series of border skirmishes and punitive expeditions.
It was even called the 'epic of the Race' by the historian Sir Charles Crostwaithe and though this may sound ridiculous to the modern ear it was nothing more than a reflection of the confidence, indeed arrogance, with which the British of Victoria's 20th year on the throne viewed the world in general and their empire in particular. It also reflected the shock and horror that the Mutiny had provoked in Britain and the pride that followed on the heels of Britain's ultimate victory; one seemingly achieved against great odds. Though the Mutiny dragged on for almost two years it was effectively fought and won in a six-month whirlwind of murder, siege, atrocity, forced marches, heroism, savagery and brutality. Women and children were butchered by both sides. Great cities were sacked and the British armies which swept across the north of India to relieve their besieged comrades and avenge their murdered compatriots were perhaps the most enraged and cruellest troops ever to have been put in the field by the government and people of Britain.