| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
 IT was in the year 1813 that a great change took place
in the trade with India. As the Company became more
and more rulers they became less and less traders.
Indeed, instead of making money by their trade, they
lost it. Yet they had a monopoly of the trade with
India, and no one else was allowed to take part in it.
Indeed no European was allowed to live in British India
unless he held a post in the Company.
Besides this all the goods from or to India had to pass
through the India House and the Port of London, and
rising ports, such as Liverpool or Glasgow, had no hope
of any profit from it. For not only had all the goods
to go to London, but they had all to be carried in
ships belonging to the Company.
At last the other merchants and shipowners of Great
Britain began to be impatient of the Company's monopoly
and wanted to share in the Indian trade. Napoleopn,
too, was still trying to ruin British trade by shutting
all the ports on the Continent to our goods. And the
manufacturers and millowners of Lancashire and
Yorkshire saw in India a new outlet for their wares.
So merchants and shipowners sent petitions to
Parliament begging that the trade of India might be
made free to all. The directors of the Company,
although they were now losing money, were bitterly
opposed to this. But the
 people of Britain won the day. In 1813, when the
Charter of the Company was renewed, the ports of India
were opened to all the merchants of Great Britain, who
were free to trade from their own ports, and to carry
goods in their own ships and not in those of the
Company only. But people who wished to live in India
had still to get a license from the Company. It was
not until twenty years later that any one who liked was
allowed to live there.
For some years after Lord Wellesley left, the plan of
not interfering with the native states and their wars
was followed in India. In Central India the wild
Maráthás and a still wilder tribe called the Pindaris
plundered and spoiled at will. Meantime the British
were occupied fighting the French both at home and
abroad. But that struggle was coming nearly to an end,
when in 1813 Lord Hastings went to India as
Governor-General and the new trade began. This Lord
Hastings has of course nothing whatever to do with
Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General.
At home Lord Hastings had been one of those who had
found fault with Lord Wellesley's wars and conquests.
But he had hardly arrived in India when he was obliged
to change his mind, for he found himself forced into
The Maráthás, the Pindaris, and a third people called
the Ghurkas had made Central India a waste of misery.
The Ghurkas were a warlike race from the mountains of
Cashmere. They were small and hardy. From their
mountains they had swept down upon the peaceful
province of Nepal, which lies along the base of the
Himalayas, and completely conquered the people. Having
conquered the people of Nepal and taken their lands,
the Ghurkas next attacked towns and villages within
 At first, for the sake of peace, and to carry out the
orders of the directors about not interfering, no
notice was taken. Finding that the British did
nothing, the Ghurkas grew bolder and bolder. At last
their attacks became so bold, that just before Lord
Hastings arrived, the governor sent a message to the
Ghurka chief ordering him to give up the British lands
of which he had taken possession.
The Ghurka chief, having so long done as he liked,
refused. Then war began, for Lord Hastings saw that
there would never be peace in India until these bandit
chiefs were made to keep the peace even within their
The Ghurkas were very proud and haughty. They were a
brave and fearless race of mountaineers, and they did
not fear the British. "What power can fight against us
in Nepal?" they asked. "Our hills and fastnesses are
the work of God. They cannot be taken by mortal men.
As for the British, they cannot even conquer mud
fortresses which are the work of men's hands. How then
can they take our forts, which are created by the
At first it seemed as if the Ghurkas were right. The
British in India were not used to mountain warfare.
The little Ghurkas were very fierce in battle. Their
charge was terrible, like that of our own highlanders.
After firing their guns, they rushed upon the foe with
fierce yells, attacking them with their little deadly
knives. And the sepoys, dismayed by this sudden onrush
to which they were not used, gave way before them again
and again. Misfortune and disaster followed each
Apart from fighting, the difficulties were great. The
British army had to pass through almost trackless
 where wild beasts prowled, and poisonous snakes glided.
The toils and hardships of the way were enough to make
the bravest falter. And it is told of one officer that
he was so terrified that he turned and fled back to
camp leaving his soldiers to their fate. But not many
were like him.
When the jungle was passed and the mountains reached,
troubles and hardships were by no means left behind.
Up pathless valleys, along ledges overhanging sheer
precipices, the heavy cannon had to be dragged. As
they rose higher, icy winds whistled around the men,
snow lay deep upon the ground through which they had to
Every pass was defended by a fortress easily held by a
few against the attacking army. General Gillespie, the
hero of Vellore, besieged one fort for a month. It
was held against him by only six hundred Ghurkas. But
both sides fought with so much determination that the
garrison was reduced to seventy before the fort
yielded, and of the besiegers five hundred lay dead,
among them the gallant general.
From all sides came news of failure and disaster. The
Ghurkas rejoiced in victory, and seeing the British
worsted, all the bandit chiefs in India began to plot
together for the overthrow of the British Raj.
But at length the tide of war turned. A gallant
general, sir David Ochterlony, carried fort after fort
in the face of every difficulty and danger. In spite
of their heroic fighting, in spite of their brave
defences, the Ghurkas were defeated. They saw at
length that their vaunted "Heaven built" forts, and
mountain passes were no defences against the British
Lion. So they gave in.
By the treaty of Segauli peace was made. A brave
 enemy became a firm friend, and from that day to this
there has been no quarrel between the British and the
Ghurkas. Later, the Ghurkas became British soldiers,
and the Ghurka regiments are among the best of our
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