Mathabar Singh Courts The New Resident

 

 

December 13, 1843

Magazine, Parade Ground and Environs

Kathmandu

General Matabar Singh asked to shew the Resident the magazine and parade, and sent his nephew Jang Bahadur to bring him; Resident passed across parade and through the ranks of three regiments out at light Infantry exercise, without a word or look or remark from them, at what appeared the impropriety of a number of elephants passing between their files; Matabar Singh met Resident outside magazine and with much courtesy took the gentleman through about twelve rooms, filled with firearms, each perhaps containing 1000 stand of muskets and fuses, all regularly arranged and in good order as in British Magazine. He then shewed them rooms filled with round consisting grape and chain shot. There were also some carcasses for 5½ inch mortars. The shot were of beaten iron in pretty good shape. Some were of lead.

The gentlemen were then taken upstairs where the Heir Apparent was seated in durbar with a few chiefs and many officers. The prince was affable and talked freely, asking many questions. He then mounted on a chief’s back as is understood to be his practice and was carried down stairs and round the store rooms of shot and shells again, pointing out each to the resident.

The prince then mounted and elephant taking behind him Goroo Purshad Countra, Matabar Singh sitting beside the Resident and Assistant: the party then proceeded towards the artillery park where forty guns all 3 pounders manned each by six soldiers who went through the motions of loading and firing, but used a sponge staff without wool or its substitute. The guns were clean and neat but carriage very slight and all looked as if seldom fired. About 100 guns were in adjoining sheds, four or five may have been mini pounders. And as many six [pounders]. The rest four-, three- and one ponders. There were a few mortars, and as many howitzers. A twenty pounder and a large mortar is in a separate shed. All are of brass.  A six pounder captured near Hureepoor was shewn. Three hands and the lighter (light) regiment accompanied the party across parade and the town. Prince still in good humour once only endeavoring to get up a contention by asking whether Matabar Singh  or (his rival) Goroo Pershad was best known in India, and appearing dissatisfied at the Resident’s saying that the Maharaja was known in Hindustan as the ruler of Nepal and he (the prince) as his son.

The prince was amused at a Lama lately arrived with the China embassy and caused him to follow the cortege, setting down occasionally and salaaming in China fashion, gave him three Rupees and near the palace took leave of Resident. Matabar Singh and his nephew continued to proceed with Resident and expressing personal goodwill and stating how awkwardly he was situated; Resident replied courteously but as before cautiously and near the skirt of town requested he should not take the trouble to come further. The general therefore went home and Resident mounted his horse and proceeded to residency.

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Excerpt from Resident Henry Lawrence’s Nepal Diary, 1 Oct 1843 – 14 Oct, 1845, archived at The British Library as MSS.Eur.F85.96. The extensive grammatical and nomenclature mistakes in the manuscript, probably introduced during copying of the original diary, have been corrected.
Image from The Indian Mutiny of 1857 by G.B. Malleson.

 

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