(Referred to in Chapter LXVIII, Note *.)
To His EXCELLENCY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE FREDERICK BARON ROBERTS OF KANDAHAR AND WATERFORD, BART., V.C., G.C.B., G.C.I.E., R.A., Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Forces in India.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY,
We, the undersigned, representing the Sikhs of the Punjab, most respectfully beg to approach Your Excellency with this humble address of farewell on Your Lordship's approaching departure from this country. We cannot give adequate expression to the various ideas which are agitating our minds at this juncture, relating as they do to the past, present, and future, making us feel, at one and the same time, grateful, happy, and sorrowful. The success which Your Excellency has achieved in Asia is such as makes India and England proud of it. The history of the British Empire in India has not, at least for the last thirty years, produced a hero like Your Lordship, whose soldier-like qualities are fully known to the world. The country which had been the cradle of Indian invasions came to realize the extent of your power and recognized your generalship. The victories gained by Sale, Nott, and Pollock in the plains of Afghanistan have been shadowed by those gained by Your Excellency. The occupation of Kabul and the glorious battle of Kandahar are among the brightest jewels in the diadem of Your Lordship's Baronage. Your Excellency's achievements checked the aggressive advance of the Great Northern Bear, whose ambitious progress received a check from the roar of a lion in the person of Your Lordship; and a zone of neutral ground has now been fixed, and a line of peace marked by the Boundary Commission. The strong defences which Your Excellency has provided on the frontier add another bright stone to the building of your fame, and constitute in themselves a lasting memorial of Your Excellency's martial skill. Never had any British General to face more arduous tasks, and none has proved more completely successful in overcoming them than Your Lordship. The result is that India has been rendered safe from the fear of invasion from without. Your Excellency is not only adorned with heroic qualifications, but the love and affection with which the people of India regard Your Lordship show what admirable qualities are exhibited in the person of Your Excellency. Terrible in war and merciful in peace, Your Excellency's name has become a dread to the enemies of England and lovely to your friends. The interest which Your Lordship has always taken in the welfare of those with whom you have worked in India is well known to everybody. The Sikhs in particular are, more than any other community in India, indebted to Your Lordship. We find in Your Excellency a true friend of the Sikh community--a community which is always devoted heart and soul to the service of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Empress of India. No one understands better than Your Excellency the value of a Sikh soldier, and we feel very grateful that the military authorities recognize the necessity of requiring every Sikh recruit to be baptized according to the Sikh religion before admission to the Army--a practice which makes the Sikhs more true and faithful, and which preserves the existence of a very useful community. The Sikhs are said to be born soldiers, but they undoubtedly make very good citizens in time of peace also. Unfortunately, however, they have had no opportunity of fully developing their mental powers, so as to enable them to advance with the spirit of the age. We thank God that Your Excellency was among those who most desired to see the Sikhs refined and educated by establishing a Central College in the Punjab for the use of the Sikh people, and we confidently hope that the Sikhs, of whom a large portion is under Your Excellency's command, will give their mite in support of this national seminary. The subscriptions given by Your Lordship, His Excellency the Viceroy, and His Honour the late Lieutenant-Governor, were very valuable to the Institution, and the Sikhs are highly gratified by the honour Your Excellency has lately given to the Khalsa Diwan by becoming its honorary patron. In conclusion, we beg only to repeat that it is quite beyond our power to state how much we are indebted to Your Excellency, and how much we are affected by the news that Your Lordship will shortly leave this land. The very idea of our separation from the direct contact of so strong and affectionate a leader, as Your Excellency undoubtedly is, makes us feel very sorrowful; but as our hearts and prayers will always be with you and Lady Roberts, we shall be consoled if Your Excellency would only keep us in your memory, and on arrival in England assure Her Most Gracious Majesty, the Mother-Empress, that all Sikhs, whether high or low, strong or weak, old or young, are heartily devoted to her Crown and her representatives in this country. Before retiring, we thank Your Excellency for the very great honour that has been done to the people of Lahore by Your Lordship's visit to this city.