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light heart, in the belief that the people of Upper Burma would welcome us with open arms. Events have proved how ill-founded this belief
While our army was far away north, on the Irrawaddy, a real campaign-and a bloody onewas being prepared for us in the low country. The people do not want us any more than they did thirty years ago. They rose to throw off our yoke, and they are still carrying on a guerilla warfare against us. They winced under the pinching and squeezing of the king's officers, but none the less they loved the king. He was the head of their nation, the fountain of all the honours they cared for, and the defender of the Buddhist faith. It has frequently been said that there is no patriotism, no national sentiment, among the Burmese. Those who know the country best will, I am convinced, hesitate to admit this. The inhabitants of Lower Burma have undoubtedly prospered under our government during the past thirty years. They have had good harvests, growing markets, and brisk trade. All this they readily allow; but they never bargained for the overthrow of their ancient monarchy. They were proud to know that a Burman king somewhere ruled a Burmese people; and the allegiance of their hearts was given to the king—not to the British Government. Say nay who may, the Burmese people bitterly resent the overthrow of their monarchy. It has also been urged that the war has no religious aspect whatever. This assertion, like many others, is misleading. The Burman cannot conceive of a religion without a Defender of the Faith-a king who appoints and rules the Buddhist hierarchy. The extinction of the monarchy left the nation, according to the people's notions, without a religion. We have overthrown the king and destroyed all traces of the kingly rule. Naturally they look upon this as the destruction of their nationality. Whether we have acted wisely history will decide. The step has, however, been taken, and we dare not now go back. We have to govern a turbulent people inhabiting a vast territory of hills and plains, forests, jungle, and swamp, impassable to troops during more than half the year. Vigour, tact, and skill are much wanted in the administration.* But vigour, tact, and skill
* The pacification of Burma will be no easy task, and, unless gone about in the right way, may be very prolonged and very costly. We have to deal with an insurrection in which the poongyees, or Buddhist priesthood, are taking a prominent part. The poongyees have found willing instruments everywhere. Liquor, opium, and gambling have placed in every Burmese village a large number of men who will not work and are a terror to the community. These men are the dare-devils of the insurrectionary movement. If these
will be of little avail if we have no
source of support in the country itself on which we can rely. wild spirits can be restrained, and if the poongyees can, by a judicious concession, be conciliated, two very important factors in the rebellion will be removed. The first of these two ends will, I venture to suggest, be best attained by (i.) allowing district officers absolute freedom for a whole year in determining who are the persons of “ bad livelihood” in the villages of their districts; and then (ii.) compelling every person found by district officers to be of “bad livelihood” to furnish adequate security from landholders that they will keep the peace. In other words, tie down the turbulent spirits to the land.
I venture to think that there is not a district officer of experience in Burma who could not, within a few months, make out an accurate census of all the bad characters in his district. He has means at his disposal which a district officer in India has not. Having once got the list, compel security. If they cannot find security, send them to jail. It is cheaper to feed them than to hunt them. Give the landholders of villages clearly to understand that the bonds will be rigorously enforced : that, in the event of forfeiture, their lands will be sold up. Make this a prior lien on their landed property, and every man will be on the alert lest his bond be forfeited. This plan was tried, in a modified form, with good results at the close of the last Burmese war. It has infinitely better chances of success now,
because(a) There are many more landholders now than there were then. (6) Land is much more valuable now than it was then.
(c) Every man's trade or profession and every landholder's fields are known now.
Probably ninety out of every hundred villages—and certainly every dangerous village--can be thus dealt with.
The second of the two ends—the conciliation of the Buddhist priesthood—will, I venture to suggest, be best attained by establishing a Buddhist Pope at Mandalay.
In addition to these measures, I would advise permanent embodiment of a drilled and armed Karen militia, and distribution of this militia in colonies all over Burma; each colony to live within
The Karen people are at heart loyal to us, and they have proved their loyalty by freely shedding their blood in defence of our rule and in the cause of order. In the face of neglect and discouragement, they have served us nobly and well. The wave of lawlessness and rebellion which swept over Lower Burma immediately after the Mandalay campaign, and which has not yet subsided, was foreseen and foretold by one of the leading Karen missionaries. He warned the authorities that danger was brewing in our own province, and offered to raise a Karen contingent which would keep the rebels in check. The local authorities, however, appear to have ignored the danger, and refused the offer with something akin to a sneer, with what results we now know.
Until, in sheer despair, the Karens rose to defend their own hearths and homes, the Burmese rebels and robbers had it all their own way. Troops could not penetrate the dense jungles; and the Burmese
stockaded villages, and to have special privileges in the surrounding lands allotted to them.
Draw the teeth of the big Shan confederacy by sending embassies, adequately guarded, to the various Tsawbwas. Let these Tsawbwas be summoned to a durbar, where some intelligible policy regarding the relation of the Shan States to the British Government shall be enunciated. Let that policy, whatever it be, once it is clearly stated, be enforced.
police were cowardly where they were not disloyal. The Karens are splendid forest trackers and ruthless pursuers.
When they rose vengeance was swift. They tracked the raiders to their hidingplaces, attacked and routed them, hunted the fugitives from jungle to jungle, and cleared the frontier. There can be no question that, with the peace of the entire province at stake, it would have been the boldest and the best policy to array the loyal Karens, at the very outset, against the rebel bands. A body of five thousand Karen skirmishers with General Prendergast's invading force would have cut off the retreat of the Burmese troops, and would have checked the irruption of armed bands into Lower Burma. Much of the anarchy which has disgraced our rule would thus have been prevented. The story of the deeds and sufferings of the Karens in defence of the Queen-Empress's Government in Burma is a deeply interesting one, and deserves an honoured place in the records of the empire.
The following letters from Dr. Vinton, one of their foremost missionary leaders, gives a graphic account of some of the achievements of the Karens. Like Dr. Vinton, I am an ardent admirer of the plucky little nation, and would claim for them the recognition which they so well deserve :