(Referred to in Chapter LXVIII, Note *.)
To HIS EXCELLENCY GENERAL 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 are proud to stand in Your Lordship's presence to-day on behalf of the Hindus of the Punjab, the loyal subjects of the Queen-Empress, who appreciate the countless blessings which British Rule has conferred upon this country, to give expression to the feelings of gratitude which are uppermost in their hearts. We feel it really an honour that we are able to show our appreciation of British Rule in the presence of the eminent soldier and statesman who has taken an important part in making the India of to-day what it is--contented within and strengthened against aggression from abroad. The Punjab is the province where the military strength of the Empire is being concentrated, and the bravery of the warlike races inhabiting it, which furnish the flower of Her Gracious Majesty's forces of the Army in India, has been conspicuously displayed on several occasions during the last thirty years. We Hindus have availed ourselves the most of the facilities which British Rule has provided for the progress of the people in commercial enterprise, educational advance, and political progress. We are, therefore, all the more proud that we have been allowed to-day to greet in person the mighty soldier, the sympathetic Commander, and the sagacious Statesman, the record of whose distinguished career in the East is virtually the history of nearly half a century of glorious victories--victories both of peace and war--achieved by the British Power in Asia, to show how intense is our gratitude towards the Queen-Empress and one of her eminent representatives in India, who have striven to do their duty by the people of this country, and done it to the satisfaction of the people and of their Gracious Sovereign. The interests of India and England are identical, and the Hindus of the Punjab regard British Rule as a Providential gift to this country--an agency sent to raise the people in the scale of civilization. Anything that is done to guarantee the continuance of the present profoundly peaceful condition of the country is highly appreciated by us, and we are, therefore, all the more grateful to Your Lordship for all that your courage, foresight, sagacity, and high statesmanship have been able to achieve. At a time when all the races and communities inhabiting this frontier province, which has been truly described as the sword-hand in India, are vying with each other in showing their high appreciation of the good work done by Your Excellency, of which not the least significant proof lies in the arrangement for the defence of the country at all vulnerable points of the frontier, the Hindus are anxious to show that they yield to none in the enthusiasm which marks the demonstrations held in your honour. But Your Excellency commands our esteem and regard on other grounds also. The deep interest that you have throughout your career felt in the welfare of the sepoy, and the closest ties of genuine friendship which you have established with many a notable of our community, have laid us under deep obligations to Your Excellency. The encouragement that you have given to the organization of the Imperial Service Troops of the Native States is also gratefully appreciated by us; and only the other day we were gratified to learn the high opinion Your Excellency entertained of the appearance and military equipment of the Imperial Service Troops of Jammu and Kashmir, the most important Hindu State in this part of India. We should be wanting in duty, we feel, did we not on this occasion give expression to the great regret which the news of your approaching departure from India has caused among the Hindus of the Punjab, who feel that they are parting from a kind friend and a sympathetic Ruler. At the same time, we feel that the country will not lose the benefit of your mature experience and wise counsel for long; for we are hopeful that you may some day be called upon to guide the helm of the State in India, a work for which you are so specially fitted. In conclusion, we have only to pray to the Father of All Good that He may shower His choicest blessings upon you and your consort--that noble lady who has, in addition to cheering you in your hard and onerous work in India, herself done a great deal for the comfort of the soldier and the sepoy, and that He may grant you many years of happy life--a life which has done so much for the Queen-Empress's dominions, and which may yet do much more.