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A General History for Colleges and High Schools by P. V. N. Myers

Part 13 out of 13

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prevented from seizing Constantinople and the Bosporus, and from that
point controlling the affairs of Asia through the command of the Eastern

THE SEPOY MUTINY (1857-1858).--The echoes of the Crimean War had barely
died away before England was startled by the most alarming intelligence
from the country for the secure possession of which English soldiers had
borne their part in the fierce struggle before Sebastopol.

In 1857 there broke out in the armies of the East India Company what is
known as the Sepoy Mutiny. The causes of the uprising were various. The
crowd of deposed princes was one element of discontent. A widespread
conviction among the natives awakened by different acts of the English,
that their religion was in danger, was another of the causes that led to
the rebellion. There were also military grievances of which the native
soldiers complained.

The mutiny broke out at Bengal. At different points, by preconcerted
signals, the native regiments arose against their English officers and put
them to death. [Footnote: The East India Company at this time had an army
of nearly 300,000, of which number not more than 45,000 were English
troops. The chief positions in the native regiments were held by English
officers.] Delhi and Cawnpore were seized, and the English residents and
garrisons butchered in cold blood. Fortunately many of the native
regiments stood firm in their allegiance to the English, and with their
aid the revolt was speedily quelled.

At the close of the war, the government of India, by act of Parliament,
was taken out of the hands of the East India Company and vested in the
English crown. Since this transfer, the Indian government has been
conducted on the principle that "English rule in India should be for
India." [Footnote: Within the last two or three decades the country has
undergone in every respect a surprising transformation. Life and property
are now as secure in India as in England, The railways begun by the East
India Company have been extended in every direction, and now bind together
the most distant provinces of the empire. All the chief cities are united
by telegraph. Lines of steamers are established on the Indus and the
Ganges. Public schools have been opened, and colleges founded. Several
hundred newspapers, about half published in the native dialects, are
sowing Western ideas broadcast among the people. The introduction of
European science and civilization is rapidly undermining many of the old
superstitions, particularly the ancient system of caste.]

LATER EVENTS: THE ENGLISH IN EGYPT.--It only remains for us to refer to
some later matters which are more or less intimately connected with
England's Eastern policy.

In 1874 Mr. Disraeli, who had then just succeeded Mr. Gladstone as prime
minister, purchased, for $20,000,000, the 176,000 shares which the Khedive
of Egypt held in the Suez Canal. This was to give England more perfect
control of this all-important gateway to her East India possessions.

In 1878, towards the close of the Russo-Turkish War, England, it will be
recalled, interfered in behalf of the Turks, and, by the presence of her
iron-clads in the Bosporus, prevented the Russians from occupying
Constantinople. In the treaty negotiations which followed, England
received from Turkey the island of Cyprus.

In the year 1882 political and financial reasons combined led the English
government, now conducted by Gladstone, to interfere in the affairs of
Egypt. A mutinous uprising against the authority of the Khedive having
taken place in the Egyptian army, an expedition was sent out under the
command of Lord Wolseley for the purpose of suppressing the revolt, and by
the restoration of the authority of the Khedive to render secure the Suez
Canal, and protect the interest of English bondholders in Egyptian

Three years later, in 1885, a second expedition had to be sent out to the
same country. The Soudanese, subjects of the Khedive, encouraged by the
disorganized condition of the Egyptian government, had revolted, and were
threatening the Egyptian garrisons in the Soudan with destruction. Lord
Wolseley was sent out a second time, to lead an expedition up the Nile to
the relief of Khartoum, where General Gordon, a representative of the
English government, was commanding the Egyptian troops, and trying--to use
his own phrase--to "smash the Mahdi," the military prophet and leader of
the Soudanese Arabs.

The expedition arrived too late, Khartoum having fallen just before the
advance relief party reached the town. The English troops were now
recalled, and the greater part of the Soudan abandoned to the rebel Arabs.
Further complications seem likely to grow out of England's presence in


The Age of Material Progress, or the Industrial Age.--History has been
well likened to a grand dissolving view. While one age is passing away
another is coming into prominence.

During the last fifty years the distinctive features of society have
wholly changed. The battles now being waged in the religious and the
political world are only faint echoes of the great battles of the
sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. A new movement of human
society has begun. Civilization has entered upon what may be called the
Industrial Age, or the Age of Material Progress.

The decade between 1830 and 1840 was, in the phrase of Herzog, "the cradle
of the new epoch." In that decade several of the greatest inventions that
have marked human progress were first brought to practical perfection.
Prominent among these were ocean steam navigation, railroads, and
telegraphs. [Footnote: Ploetz in his _Epitome of History_, instructively
compares these inventions to the three great inventions or discoveries--
the magnetic needle, gunpowder, and printing--that ushered in the Modern
Age.] In the year 1830 Stephenson exhibited the first really successful
locomotive. In 1836 Morse perfected the telegraph. In 1838 ocean steamship
navigation was first practically solved.

The rapidity with which these inventions have been introduced into almost
all parts of the world, partakes of the marvellous.

Within the last fifty years the continents have been covered with a
perfect network of railroads, constructed at an enormous cost of labor and
capital. The aggregate length of the world's steam railways in 1883 was
about 275,000 miles, sufficient, to use Mulhall's illustration, to girdle
the earth eleven times at the equator, or more than sufficient to reach
from the earth to the moon. The continental lines of railways are made
virtually continuous round the world by connecting lines of ocean
steamers. Telegraph wires traverse the continents in all directions, and
cables run beneath all the oceans of the globe.

By these inventions the most remote parts of the earth have been brought
near together. A solidarity of commercial interests has been created.
Thought has been made virtually cosmopolitan: a new and helpful idea or
discovery becomes immediately the common possession of the world.
Facilities for travel, by bringing men together, and familiarizing them
with new scenes and different forms of society and belief, have made them
more liberal and tolerant. Mind has been broadened and quickened. And by
the virtual annihilation of time and space, governmental problems have
been solved. The chief difficulties in maintaining a confederation of
states widely separated have been removed, and such extended territories
as those of the United States made practically as compact as the most
closely consolidated European state. England, with her scattered colonies,
may now, Professor Seeley thinks, well enough become a World Venice, with
the oceans for streets. Furthermore, the steps of human progress have been
accelerated a hundred-fold. The work of years, and of centuries even, is
crowded into a day. Thus Japan, on the outskirts of the world, has been
modified more by our civilization within the last decade or two, than
Britain was modified by the civilization of Rome during the four hundred
years that the island was connected with the empire.

But a still more important feature of the new epoch is the use of steam
engines, electric motors, and machinery in the manufactures and the
various other industries of mankind. At the beginning of the nineteenth
century the great manufactures of the world were in their infancy. Under
the impulse of modern inventions they have been carried to seeming
perfection at a bound. New motors and improved machinery have increased
incalculably the productive forces of society. This enormous augmentation
of the power of production is one of the most significant features of the

The history of this wonderful age, so different from any preceding age,
cannot yet be written, for no one can tell whether the epoch is just
opening or is already well advanced. It may well be that we have already
seen the greatest surprises of the age, and that the epoch is nearing its
culmination, [Footnote: "It is probable," says Professor Ely, "that as we,
after more than two thousand years, look back upon the time of Pericles
with wonder and astonishment, as an epoch great in art and literature,
posterity two thousand years hence will regard our era as forming an
admirable and unparalleled epoch in the history of industrial invention."
--_French and German Socialism in Modern Times._] and that other than
material development--let us hope intellectual and moral development--will
characterize future epochs.

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