Monday, May 14, 2007

Rambles And Recollections of an Indian Official

by Major-General W H Sleeman, KCB.

The kind of thing the Web - and Project Gutenberg - was made for. All 77 chapters of it, written 1835-36 by the man who suppressed the Thugs. He may have knocked Thuggee on the head, but the tradition of the poisoners lives on - I must say I had no idea Sobhraj was out.

It'd take some time to read the whole thing. A chapter or two at a sitting seems more appropriate.


Unknown said...

Try this PDF version instead:
Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official By William Henry Sleeman

It's nicer to look through, imho, than a plain text version.

Almost anything on guttenberg can probably also be found on

Anonymous said...

OT: I saw this and thought of you Laban. I would imagine Verity would find it interesting too since Aaronovitch commences with an insult aimed at expat commentators.

I would have post on the thread below since it would have been on topic but the "mother of all comments" put me off.

Brituncula said...

I do like the banker's widow who, upon being invited to commit suttee, said she didn't feel called to it. Also evil British scheming for world domination by prevention of female infanticide etc.

Anonymous said...

Or you could read the excellent book by Mike Dash:

On poisoners, in India they have now graduated to using 'date rape' drugs placed in food to render tourists unconscious and rob them.

Anonymous said...

William Sleeman demolished the murderous Thugee cult in India, a little before Sir Charles Napier, the British Commander-in-chief in India from 1849 to 1851, dealt with Sati:

“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

For "burning widows" substitute "female genital mutilation", "Islamic terrorism", "honour killings", "incitement to murder" and you get some idea of the kind of effective cross-cultural dialogue that is required today (Sir Ian Blair and Brian Paddick need not apply)

dearieme said...

How come the Christian British stopped these Hindu horrors when the previous Muslim rulers didn't bother?

Anonymous said...

How come the Christian British stopped these Hindu horrors when the previous Muslim rulers didn't bother?

Forced conversions are a pretty effective way of stopping "Hindu horrors". Perhaps "replace" is a more appropriate verb.

Brituncula said...

The Moghuls did have a policy against suttee -and presumably would have agreed with the Koran that female infanticide is A Bad Thing.

I think a major difference between them and the Brits from the point of view of enforcement was probably that the Victorians tended to be keen on recording things - so they would notice a deficit of female babies and swing bossily into action.

Some of the resentment against the Victorian smallpox vaccination campaigns in India seems to have been because it involved registering female infants.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago I used to visit people in Lambeth. Once or twice I noticed a pair of Chinese toddlers, obviously in great distress, lying on a damp filthy blanket under the outside stairs of a block of flats. I imagine that their parents hed tethered them in some way to prevent them wandering off, or perhaps the poor little buggers were too exhausted for that. When I expressed concern about this, I was told that frequent complaints had been made to the council, but the response was always, "It would be a culturally inappropriate interference with the rights of the parents to do anything about this." (I suppose that Lambeth had taken a page out of the book of Islington's Margaret Hodges [nee Oppenheim] on this one). I do hope that multiculturalism doesn't dictate that a return to wicked ancestral beliefs/practises will be OK in some quarters. The case of Adam, the pathetic little mutilated torso fished out of the Thames, seems to indicate that human sacrifice is condoned in some quarters in the UK...On bus rides through Wood Green. I've noticed a street sign saying "Wood Green Cultural Quarter". Whatever can the ghost of Bernie Grant be up to?