(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, the Mahomedans of the Punjab, have dared to approach Your Excellency with this address with eyes tear-bedimmed, but a face smiling. The departure of a noble and well-beloved General like yourself from our country is in itself a fact that naturally fills our eyes with tears. What could be more sorrowful than this, our farewell to an old officer and patron of ours, who has passed the prominent portion of his life in our country, developed our young progeny to bravery and regular soldiery, decorated them with honours, and created them to high titles? Your Excellency's separation is the harder to bear for the men of the Punjab because it is our Punjab that is proud of the fact that about forty years ago the foundation stone of all your famous and noble achievements, which not only India, but England, rightly boasts of, was laid down in one of its frontier cities, and that the greater part of your indomitable energies was spent in the Punjab frontier defence. If, therefore, we are sad at separating from Your Excellency, it will not in any way be looked upon as strange. But these feelings of sorrow are mixed with joy when we see that the useful officer whom in 1852 we had welcomed at Peshawar, when the star of his merits was beginning to rise, departs from us in splendour and glory in the capacity of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of a vast Empire like India, and is an example of the highest type to all soldiers. This address is too brief for a detail of all the meritorious services rendered by your Excellency in the Punjab, India and other foreign countries from that early epoch to this date. Your zeal in the Mutiny of 1857, your heroic achievements in the Abyssinian and Afghan wars, your repeated victories of Kandahar, and your statesmanlike conduct of the Burma wars--all these are facts which deserve to be written in golden characters in the annals of Indian history. Your appointment as legislative and executive member of the Supreme Council of the Government of India for a considerable period has proved a source of blessings to the whole of India, and Your Excellency deserves an ample share of the credit due to the Council for all its useful regulations and reforms. The great liking that men of noble birth in India have been showing for some time towards military service is a clear demonstration of the excellent treatment received at your hands by military officers, as in the reforms made by you in the military pay and pension and other regulations. Another boon for which the Natives of India will always remember your name with gratitude, is that you have fully relied upon, and placed your confidence in, the Natives, thus uniting them the more firmly to the British Crown, making them more loyal, and establishing the good relations between the Rulers and the ruled on a firmer footing to their mutual good. Especially as Mussalmans of the Punjab are we proud that before Your Excellency's departure you have had the opportunity of reviewing the Imperial Service Troops of the Mahomedan State of Bhawalpur, one of the leading Native States of the Punjab, whose Ruler's efforts to make his troops worthy to take their place by the side of British troops for the defence of India is only one instance of the spirit of active loyalty which we are glad to say animates the entire Mussalman community of the Punjab. Disturbances arising from foreign intrusions are not unknown to us, and we have not sufficient words to thank your Lordship for the admirable management of the frontier defence work carried on to protect our country from all possible encroachments. The greatest pleasure and satisfaction, however, that we Mahomedans feel in presenting this address to Your Lordship emanates from the idea that you go on your way home to your native country with a high and favourable opinion of the Mahomedans of India, true and loyal subjects to Her Majesty the Queen-Empress, whose number exceeds six crores, and who are rapidly growing. During the Mutiny of 1857 the Chieftains and soldiers of our nation spared neither money nor arms in the reduction and submission of the rebels. Your Lordship is also aware what loyalty was displayed by the Mahomedans of India during the Afghan and Egyptian wars, waged against their own co-religionists, and the cheerfulness shown by them in following your Lordship in all your victories. Frontier services, such as the Kabul Embassy and the Delimitation Commission, rendered by the officers of our creed are also well known to you. We are therefore sanguine that Your Lordship's own observation will enable all the members of the Ruling race in India to form an opinion of the relations that exist between us and the British Crown. The Mahomedans of India and the Punjab are proud of being the devoted subjects of the Queen-Empress. In so acting we perform our religious duties, for our sacred religion enjoins upon us faithfulness and obedience towards our Ruling monarch, and teaches us to regard the Christians as our own brethren. The regard and esteem which we should have, therefore, for a Christian Government, as that of our kind mother the Queen-Empress, needs no demonstration. Although, for certain reasons which we need not detail here, our nation has been deficient in education, and we have been left much behind in obtaining civil employment, we hope that your long experience of our service will prove a good testimonial in favour of the warlike spirit, military genius, and loyalty of our nation, and if the circle of civil employment has become too straitened for us, the military line will be generously opened to us. We do not want to encroach upon Your Lordship's valuable time any further. We therefore finish our address, offering our heartfelt thanks to your Lordship for all those kindnesses you have been wont to show during your time towards India and Indians in general, and the Punjab and Punjabis in particular, and take leave of Your Lordship with the following prayer: 'May God bless thee wherever thou mayest be, and may thy generosities continue to prevail upon us for a long time.' While actuated by these feelings, we are not the less aware that our country owes a great deal to Lady Roberts, to whom we beg that Your Excellency will convey our heartfelt thanks for her lively interest in the welfare of Indian soldiers in particular and the people generally. In conclusion, we wish Your Excellencies God-speed and a pleasant and safe voyage. That Your Excellencies may have long, happy, and prosperous lives, and achieve ever so many more distinctions and honours, and return to us very shortly in a still higher position, to confer upon the Empire the blessings of a beneficent Rule, is our heartfelt and most sincere prayer.