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ludicrous if it were not lamentable. To-day he has to assess damages according to the customs sanctioned by Akbar; to-morrow to marshal assets in bankruptcy, conformably with the orders of Basinghall Street; and next day to settle a question of legitimacy according to Brahminical traditions. What would the people of London think if a cavalry officer were made Recorder, a colonel of marines Common Serjeant, and a first class prizeman in gunnery appointed to preside at Bow Street? But with all the fine bureaucratic talk about the protection of Parliament having been extended and applied, it is clear that, in matters of judgment, justice, and mercy, any qualifications, or disqualifications, are still deemed immaterial in India.
To seats in the Supreme Courts, native practitioners at the bar are not only now admissible, but are actually admitted; and English judges who have sat with them are forward to acknowledge how honourably and usefully they bear themselves. This is something, and it would, indeed, be much, if, beyond the Presidential cities, the fact were practically brought home to the minds of the community; but, whatever may be the code of civil or criminal law, the adjudication of ordinary disputes between man and man must be local, if it is to be prompt, cheap, and intelligible; and if it be not, it signifies comparatively little what it is, or what it is believed to be. The indigenous tribunal of Punchayet has been all but suspended by the imposition of a system of stipendiaries, whose unacquaintance with the infinite details of social life, renders them ineffably feeble in their best attempts to exereise any moral or equitable sway. The people must be idiots to reverence law so administered; but the blame lies neither with commissioners, assistants, or deputies, who have to administer as best they may the system they have found existing; it will hereafter lie at the door of
pruning-knife of suzerain control, but for the axe of ruthless annexation.
When war against the Mahrattas had left the Company without a pagoda to sustain the public credit or to pay their troops, Lord Hastings bribed the Vizier with the pinchbeck title of King to give him a million sterling out of his private treasure. When war against the Afghans needed new resources, Lord Auckland made a fresh treaty requiring the surrender of half his territory to sustain additional troops. On every occasion the diplomatic engagements dictated at Calcutta and imposed at Lucknow were profuse in professions of respect for the dynasty and acknowledgment of its sovereign rights. To the last Oude was flattered with egregious assurances of friendship and consideration, until at a blow all was swept away.
When absorption and incorporation had been determined on, differences of opinion arose in the Supreme Council as to the mode of proceeding in point of form. The Viceroy affected to have scruples. He would have preferred declaring the treaties broken by the failure of Vajid Ali to fulfil the conditions of efficient government embodied in the treaty of 1837; he would then have withdrawn the contingent, without which the city and the palace would have been left defenceless against banditti; and when insurrection and anarchy had spread alarm among the neighbouring provinces, he would have been prepared for armed intervention at the request of the King, or without waiting for it. But he has left on record a confession that this would have been a circuitous method of attaining the end which General Low, Mr Peacock, Mr Grant, and Mr Dorin thought it less dishonouring to bring about by more direct and summary means. The Board of Directors and Board
of Control, when the two plans were laid before them, refrained from deciding, and left the Marquis free to do as he thought best. The difficulty was like that felt by Warren Hastings on a former occasion, which Sheridan, amid the cheers of the House of Commons, declared to be that of choosing between Bagshot and Hounslow. It was, however, speedily got over by the Governor-General yielding to the more summary method urged by his colleagues. The Resident was therefore directed to inform the Prince that he had been weighed in the balance and found wanting, and that the kingdom had departed from him.
It was said by the apologists of the act, that the treaty of 1837 conferred the right to seize the government of Oude, should its native rulers fail to govern well, and that consequently no more was done in 1856 than what that bargain provided for and justified. The flimsiness of this plea has been thoroughly exposed by Major Bell. The treaty of 1837 "did not give Lord Dalhousie all he wanted. It did not give him the surplus revenues of Oude, to be disposed of as he pleased, but compelled him to account for them to the State of Oude. It gave him a right indeed to seize the government, but only for a temporary object, and bound him (in the words of the treaty) to maintain the native institutions and forms of administration, so as to facilitate the restoration of those territories to the sovereign." The Viceroy felt the pressure of these cogent terms, and tried hard to prove that because the Directors bade Lord Auckland exonerate the King from supplying an increased number of troops, the whole of the treaty of 1837 had been abrogated. Nothing can be more untrue. It was duly ratified at Fort William on the 18th September 1837; was never repudiated by the Government of the Queen, and
Bell's Retrospects and Prospects, chap. v.
was never disallowed by the Board of Directors, whose ratification was in point of fact never deemed necessary in the case of a new treaty. "No one in India, at Lucknow or at Calcutta, ever doubted the validity and binding force of this treaty until Lord Dalhousie found that it stood in the way of his scheme of appropriating all the revenues of Oude." 1
Sir H. Lawrence and Sir W. Sleeman both publicly expressed their conviction that the Central Government was endued by it with all the powers necessary for securing in Oude an efficient and humane administration; and Lord Hardinge, in 1847, impressively warned the Court of Lucknow that, under and by virtue of the treaty, they were liable to have the powers of government sequestered if they were not properly discharged. But sequestration is not synonymous with confiscation; and the suspension of a spendthrift's allowance does not mean the appropriation of his estate. It is not unworthy of note that Lord W. Bentinck, the most lenient and considerate of men, contemplated temporary interposition in Oude, in the hope and with the view of introducing juster and sounder principles of local administration, and that he obtained the sanction of the Court of Directors in case he should think fit to make the experiment. But who will debit his memory with contemplation of the crime perpetrated in 1856? We have his own clear definition of his meaning. "It may
be asked of me,-when you have assumed the management, how is it to be conducted, and how long retained? I should answer, that acting in the character of guardian and trustee, we ought to frame an administration entirely native,—an administration so composed as to individuals, and so established upon the best principles, as should best 1 Bell's Retrospects and Prospects, chap. v.