Page images

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of Vajid Ali to fulfil the conditions of efficient government embodied in the treaty of 1837; he would then have withdrawn the contingent, without which the city and the palace would have been left defenceless against banditti; and when insurrection and anarchy had spread alarm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 serve for immediate improvement, and as a model for future imitation; the only European part of it should be the

; functionary by whom it should be superintended, and it should only be retained till a complete reform might be brought about.”

[ocr errors]

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."

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 bave 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. 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 serve for immediate improvement, and as a model for future imitation; the only European part of it should be the functionary by whom it should be superintended, and it should only be retained till a complete reform might be brought about.”

1 Bell's Retrospects and Prospects, chap. v.

« It may



“A feeling of discontent and dissatisfaction exists among every class, both Euro

pean and Native, on account of the constant increase of taxation which has for years been going on. My belief is that the continuance of that feeling is a political danger, the magnitude of which can hardly be over-estimated ; and any sentiment of dissatisfaction which may exist among disbanded soldiers of the Native Army is as nothing, in comparison with the state of general discontent to which I have referred. We can never depend for a moment on the continuance of general tranquillity ; but I believe that the present state of public feeling, as regards taxation, is more likely to lead to disturbance and discontent, and to be to us a source of greater danger, than the partial reduction which we propose in the Native Army can ever occasion. Of the two evils I choose the lesser."

- LORD Mayo.1

WHEN Parliament assembled early in 1858, the upper

most thought in the minds of all was the urgent need of remedial measures for India. A century of misrule had ended in a convulsion so terrible that the best and bravest natures shuddered at its contemplation, and the wisest and ablest servants of the State were those who said the least about it. The whole of the dreadful truth has never yet been spoken,—will never probably be spoken in our time; but enough became generally known to make men of all parties anxious, by a thorough change of policy, to take securities against the like ever happening again. Notice was formally given by ministers to the East India Company that its days were numbered. What was called the "double government” had long been

Minute of the Viceroy, on Military Expenditure, 31 October 1870.

« PreviousContinue »