Special Desk : John Lang, a resident of Australia, was a barrister. When the British ordered Rani Lakshmibai to leave the fort and stay in the palace, she decided to take her case to the London Court. For this, John Lang was appointed lawyer on her behalf. In those days, John Lang was in Agra, where the Queen’s Finance Minister met him. He has written the complete story of Rani Lakshmibai in ‘Wanderings in India – Sketches of Life in Hindostan’. Let’s know today the story of Rani Laxmibai in words of John Lang.
John Lang writes that when the British government ordered the merger of Jhansi into the British Empire, he received a letter after one month. This letter was sent by Rani Laxmibai in ‘Gold Paper’. The language of the letter was Persian. Rani Lakshmibai urged him to meet her. Two people went to John Lange with the letter of the queen. One of them was the finance minister of the queen’s husband and the second was the principal lawyer of the queen.
Description of Sedan
When the letter was received, John Lang was in Agra and the road to Jhansi from Agra was two days. He writes the whole story of going to Rani’s residence in Jhansi:-
In the evening I boarded my palanquin and reached Gwalior the next morning. There was a small house of Jhansi king half a mile away from the cantonment. That house was used as a place of stay. I was taken there by a minister and lawyer who was with me. I did breakfast and take hookah. After that we were asked to go around 10 o’clock. The day was quite hot but the queen sent a large and comfortable sedan. By the way, it seemed to be less sedan and a small room. There was every facility in it. There was also a fan in which one man pulled from outside. Apart from me and minister and lawyer in the palanquin, there was also a khansama (cook) that provided food and drink according to my needs. This palanquin was pulling by a pair of horse which was quite powerful and nimble. Both were about 17 hands high. About two o’clock in the day, we arrived in the area of Jhansi. The sedan was taken to a place called ‘Raja Bagh’. When I landed, the lawyer, the finance minister and other servants of the king took me inside a huge tent. Then the queen advised a pundit that what would be the proper time to interact with me. They were told that the time five to six would be fair. When I was told about this, I expressed satisfaction.
Asked to took off shoe
After this I ordered dinner. In the meantime, the finance minister told me that he wants to talk to me on a particular matter. Then he ordered all the people present there to leave. After everybody went, the finance minister requested me whether you can took off your shoe out of the queen’s room. Initially I was not ready for this but after a long debate I got ready.
Time to Meet
The time to meet came. A white elephant was sent on behalf of the Queen. The queen’s palace was about half a mile from that place, where I was staying. Ministers on horseback were on both sides of the elephant. In the evening we reached the castle’s door. Information sent to the queen after about 10 minutes, the order to open the door was found. I entered the courtyard. It was evening time and summer was quite a lot. As soon as I landed people surrounded me. Seeing this, the minister asked everyone to step away. Then a little later I was asked to climb a stone ladder, which was quite tight. When reached up, a man showed me about six to seven rooms. After a while I was taken to a room door. The man knocked on the door. A woman’s voice came from inside, ‘Who is it?’
The man replied, ‘Sahib’. The door opened and the man asked me to go inside. There, I took the shoe off and went into the room. There was an armchair in the center of the room which was built in Europe. The room was beautifully carpeted. At the end of the room there was a curtain and people were talking about it. I sat on the chair and lifted my cap. I heard the voice of a woman who was asking the child to come to me but the child was not ready to come. The child came to me scared and afraid. From the jewelry and costumes he dressed, I realized that this child was adopted by the king. The child was quite beautiful and was much younger than his age. His shoulder was wide as I had often seen the Maratha children.
When I was talking to the child, there was a loud and stranger voice behind the scenes. I was told that the boy is the Maharaja whose authority has been taken away by the Governor General of India. Later it was revealed that, this was the voice of the queen. Then the queen called me close to the curtain and started telling her problem.
Eagerness to see the queen
I had heard from the lawyer that the queen is a pretty woman and the age is about 20 years. I was eager to see her once. Soon my wish was fulfilled. The boy pulled the curtain so I could see him clearly. Even though we could see some moment, but it was enough that I could make a description about them. Her body was not very heavy but it was definitely that she was neither too thick nor too thin. Now there was a glow on her face, and I felt that at a young age she would have been quite beautiful. Her color was not very clear but it was not even dark. The outcome of the conversation was very good and very fast. Especially the eyes were beautiful and the nose was very small. Her face was round. There was no jewelry except the ear ring in her ears.
He (John Lang) has given some such statement to the beauty of Lakshmibai, “As if I had the good fortune to see her, if the Governor General got an opportunity to meet her, he would probably return Jhansi to this beautiful queen.”
Then I talked about their problem. I told them that the governor general has no power to recognize the rights of the adopted son. I told them that the best way would be to get pension and fight your case also. She did not get ready on this and said that ‘I will not give up Jhansi’. Then I explained to them that the oppose will not gain any benefit. At about 2 a.m. I left the palace. She was not ready to take any kind of pension from the British government and merge her state.
The next day I returned to Agra via Gwalior. They gifted me an elephant, a camel, an Arabian horse, a pair of greyhounds, some silk and an added Indian shawl. I did not want to take these things, but the finance minister said that if I refuse to accept then the queen will be in a lot of trouble. The Queen gave me a picture of me which was made by a local person there.