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'Ghoralogues' on 1857

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ANITA JOSHUA

The Warner Letters: The Experiences of Two English Brothers During the Indian Rebellion of 1857-1859, June Bush, Rupa, Rs. 395.

This is really from the days by-gone. In an age of emails, chats and SMSs, it is really difficult to imagine that this was how letters used to be written. With news slow to travel to England in the turbulent days around the First War of Indian Independence in the 1850s, these letters might have still appeared sketchy to the recipients but today seem overflowing with detail on the action across north India. Indeed, The Warner Letters: The Experience of Two English Brothers During the Indian Rebellion of 1857-1859 comes complete with maps showing “dispositions of the army”, and men were as loquacious and gushing as women are accused to be. Unlike the sahibs who lavished praise on India in the collection edited by Khushwant Singh, this book reveals the contempt some of the early representatives of the Raj had for India and Indians. The young Warner brothers refer to natives as “brutes” or “niggers” regularly and June Bush — a descendant of that family who has put this book together with their letters — concludes that it is not difficult to understand how or why the “Indian Mutiny” occurred. An interesting aside is the way places are spelt in the letters. Well, Cawnpore, Cashmere and Oudh are known, but here the “ghoralogues” add to that list with Loodeanah, Umballa(h), Jellindur, Messoorie, Bundlecand, Tag Mehal, Allyghur…


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