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On the Irrawaddy

G. A. Henty

Book Overview: 

With the exception of the terrible retreat from Afghanistan, none of England's many little wars have been so fatal--in proportion to the number of those engaged--as our first expedition to Burma. It was undertaken without any due comprehension of the difficulties to be encountered, from the effects of climate and the deficiency of transport; the power, and still more the obstinacy and arrogance of the court of Ava were altogether underrated; and it was considered that our possession of her ports would assuredly bring the enemy, who had wantonly forced the struggle upon us, to submission. Events, however, proved the completeness of the error. The Burman policy of carrying off every boat on the river, laying waste the whole country, and driving away the inhabitants and the herds, maintained our army as prisoners in Rangoon through the first wet season; and caused the loss of half the white officers and men first sent there. The subsequent campaign was no less fatal and, although large reinforcements had been sent, fifty percent of the whole died; so that less than two thousand fighting men remained in the ranks, when the expedition arrived within a short distance of Ava. Not until the last Burmese army had been scattered did the court of Ava submit to the by no means onerous terms we imposed

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Stanley had lost the repugnance to them that he at first felt, so the prospect of their forming the staple of his food was not disagreeable to him. It would also afford him some employment to search for and kill them.

"I shall be well content," he said, "with anything that I can get, and trust that I shall be no burden upon you."

"You will assuredly be none," the priest replied. "Here must be at least thirty pounds of rice which, alone, would keep two men alive for a month. As regards the snakes, though I may not kill them, I may eat them when killed; and indeed, there are few things better. In truth, I should not be sorry to have some of the creatures out of the way; for they swarm round here so thickly that I have to pay great heed, when I walk, lest I step upon them."

"Have you been troubled with robbers, of late, father?" Thekyn asked.

"They trouble me not at all," the priest said. "Men come, sometimes. They may be robbers, or they may no. . . Read More