In 1857, the eighth Earl of Elgin was on his way to punish the Manchu rulers of China for daring to close the city of Canton to British opium traders when he heard about the Indian Mutiny. The anti-British insurrections were confined to North India, especially the Gangetic Plain, from where most of the mutinous sepoys, or Indian soldiers, of the British East India Company had been recruited. But they threatened to undo all that the British had gained in India in the previous hundred years. Elgin immediately diverted his punitive expedition to India and spent a few anxious weeks in Calcutta, waiting for news of British victories, before moving on to deal with the Chinese.
- From The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell