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Charles James Napier

Commander-in-Chief in British India
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Sir Charles James Napier

Sir Charles James Napier (10 August 178229 August 1853) was a British general and Commander-in-Chief in India. The city of Napier, New Zealand, is named after him. He is famous for conquering the Sindh province of British India, now in present-day Pakistan.


  • Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.
    • Napier, William. (1851) History of General Sir Charles Napier's Administration of Scinde, London: Chapman and Hall p. 35 at Retrieved 11 October 2013
  • The best way to quiet a country is a good thrashing, followed by great kindness afterwards. Even the wildest chaps are thus tamed.
    • Farwell, Byron: Queen Victoria's Little Wars, p. 27-31
  • The human mind is never better disposed to gratitude and attachment than when softened by fear.
    • Farwell, Byron: Queen Victoria's Little Wars, p. 27-31
  • “Manchester is the chimney of the world. Rich rascals, poor rogues, drunken ragamuffins and prostitutes form the moral; soot made into paste by rain the physique, and the only view long chimney: what a place! The entrance to hell realised!”

The best source of quotations from Napier's writings, is the four-volume biography written by his brother, The Life and Opinions of General Sir Charles James Napier [L&O]. It is available to read, free, on Google Books. The two quotations attributed above to Farewell, Byron ...' both came originally from L&O.


  • Peccavi
    • In 1843, after annexing the then-Indian village Miani of Sindh against orders, legend has it that British General Sir Charles Napier sent home a one word telegram, "Peccavi", taking use of its Latin meaning "I have sinned" and the heterograph "I have Sindh." This pun appeared under the title 'Foreign Affairs' in Punch magazine on 18 May 1844. The true author of the pun was, however, Englishwoman Catherine Winkworth, who submitted it to Punch, which then printed it as a factual report.

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