Billeder på siden

Ministry assured him of their con- now determined that the course in tinued confidence and support, but taking possession of Oude was not the best justification of his continu- lawful or justifiable.” Lord Ellenance in office is to be found in the borough never said that the annexabody of the reply itself,—the gist of tion of Oude was not lawful or justiwhich most unmistakably, is, that fiable, but that there was a flaw in he approved of Lord Ellenborough's the proceedings of sufficient importpolicy, and meant to act upon it. ance to make us chary of putting in Holding the views he does, the only force the utmost rigour of the law consistent defence which he can put against Oudian malcontents to our in is—not that he dissents from Lord rule. Still less did he ask Lord Ellenborough's maxims of policy, Canning for the advice which his but that he thought that proclama- Lordship so preposterously makes a tions to Hindoos, like dreams to show of withholding. We may also an Irishman, should always "go observe, before leaving this lengthy by contraries," and be understood exordium, in which Lord Canning in the opposite sense to that which sets himself to carp at his censurers they naturally bear! In this exor- before entering upon his own dedium, however, we regret to say, fence, that, however undeclared the there are one or two manifestations result at the time he wrote, his viceof pet and party-misrepresentation, regal vaticinations of dire evil from which we did not expect from his Lord Ellenborough's despatch have Lordship’s antecedents, and which been proved groundless; whereas, it is to be hoped by this time he him- the bad effects of his own proclamaself regrets. Such, for instance, is tion—and we may add, also, of his the following, in which he seeks to incompetent interference with the show the whole Ministry responsible plans of the war, with which the for the publication of Lord Ellen- issuing of the proclamation is intiborough's despatch :-“ Before the mately connected—are bearing their despatch was published in England, evil fruits to the present hour. it had been announced to Parliament Coming to the body of the deby a Minister of the Crown as con- spatch, we find that it contains little veying disapproval in every sense of that is new,—but much that is imthe policy indicated by the Governor- portant, as confirming statements General's proclamation.” Here, for and opinions which were questioned a most paltry purpose-one which or wholly denied by the Opposicould do his Lordship no good, but tion last summer. While writing very obliging to his Whig friends- his own defence, Lord Canning is the truth is kept in the letter, but is compelled to justify Lord Ellenbroken in the sense ; for the fact is, borough. On all the premises of the that before Mr Disraeli announced case, Lord Canning admits that the the purport of the despatch, the noble President of the Board of Conpledge had already been given by trol judged correctly. He admits Lord Ellenborough's under-secretary that the facts in regard to Oude are to lay it in full on the table of the entirely as Lord Ellenborough and House. Mr Disraeli, and the whole Sir James Outram represented them. Ministry, adopted the principle of The case of the people of Oude, he Lord Ellenborough's proclamation, allows, was altogether exceptional, but they dissented from his act of and that they, ought not to be consenting to publish it. Lord Can- regarded as rebels, but rather as ning's object, therefore, in the sen- ordinary enemies in war. Their tence above quoted, is one of mis- allegiance was but of a single representation, very unworthy of year; and the British rule, though himself. Another instance of mingled proclaimed, had scarcely been acted pet and wilful misconstruction ap- upon in many of the districts. Morepears in another place, where he over, he admits, the talookdars and says: “It does not belong to me to other landowners had serious grievsay what line of conduct the British ances, as many of them had been Government ought to follow, if it be harshly and unjustly deprived or

curtailed of their rights in the soil, would have issued an edict surpassing When Oude was annexed by us, in severity any ever issued even in says Lord Canning, the land settle- the barbaric times of the Norman ment was carried into execution Conquest. And how are we to reconin some districts with undue haste, cile this act with his own stateharshly, and upon insufficient evi- ments? How are we to reconcile dence; and when this took place in- this most harsh conclusion with justice was done to the talookdars,— his mild premises? In the face of some of whom were deprived of vil- such facts and admissions as we have lages which had long been attached quoted above, it appears inconceivto their talookas, and their titles to able that his Lordship should have which were not satisfactorily dis- proceeded to confiscate the whole proproved. The injustice might, and perty of the talookdars—nay, the enprobably would, have been corrected tire rights in the soil of Oude-to the in making the revised settlement; British Government. Mercy and mobut this does not excuse or palliaté deration, he says, were called for,the wrong." Here, then, quite in- but surely his was strange mercy ! dependently of the outbreak of the During the debates in Parliament revolt, or of the annexation of their last May, Lord Canning's “friends” country, Lord Canning admits that or at least the Ministry's opponents the landowners of Oude had a cause -contended over and over again of feud against our rule. Again he that the proclamation did not decree says, in farther excuse of the talook- confiscation, but only threatened it. dars and other landholders,—“The The clear head of Sir G. C. Lewis, allegiance of these men, when they among others, took this view of the broke into rebellion, was little more case; and Colonel Sykes, amidst the than a year old, and they had be- laughter of the House, displayed his come British subjects by no act of Oriental philology by informing the their own : our rule had brought honourable members that he was loss of property to them, and upon quite sure he knew what must be the some an unjust loss; and it had word used in rendering the proclamadiminished the importance and arbi- tion in the Indian vernacular, and trary power of all.” Very naturally, that it did not by any means signify then, does he add," I considered "confiscation," but something very these facts to be a palliation of re- different! It must be mortifying bellion, even when hostility to us to such ingenious speculators and had been most inveterate.” Ño state- debaters to find that Lord Canning ment could be more conclusive as entirely ignores their view of the to the correctness of Lord Ellen- matter, while he confirms to the letter borough's view of the case, and of the opinions of the Ministry. “I the soundness of the premises upon came to the conclusion,” he says which the noble Earl based his deliberately, “that the proclamation policy. But, proceeding upon the should be one not threatening confissame premises, to what opposite con. cation as a possible contingency, but clusions did these two statesmen DECLARING IT.” So that there is no come! In the whole circumstances longer any doubt as to the actual of the people of Oude, Lord Ellen- severity of the proclamation, and of borough saw imperative reasons for his intention to make it severe. dealing gently with them, or at least But now comes the extraordinary for dealing out to them no sterner part of the affair. Having so fully usage than is adopted in ordinary acknowledged the great allowance warfare. Taking the very same view which ought to be made for the reof their circumstances, Lord Canning bels of Oude, we naturally ask, how overwhelmed them by a confiscation came it then that his Lordship of such magnitude as to make it quite should have perpetrated so cruel an unparalleled in history! He could edict against them? Because, replies not have known what he was doing. his Lordship, though I expressly deHe must have been utterly ignorant clared all their estates and landof what is usual in war, or he never rights to be confiscated, I had no intention of actually confiscating of acting in accordance with that them! This explanation of his pur- conviction, he unaccountably does poses only adds to the incomprehen- the very reverse—a proceeding which sibility of his acts. If he did not in any circumstances ought to have mean confiscation, why did he ex- called down upon him a severe cenpressly proclaim it? What could be sure. But such a censure was all more illogical and self-destructive the more called for when we consider than this portion of his defence? He how impracticable were the means first acknowledges the specialties upon which he relied for neutralising which required that the Oude people the injurious effect of his tyrannical should be leniently dealt with ; then edict. While proclaiming confiscahe states that he deliberately issued tion, he relied upon our officers asa proclamation the very reverse of suring the population of Oude that lenient; and next, defends himself no such confiscation was intended. for so doing by affirming that he had But how was this possible? For, no intention of acting upon that pro- while copies of the proclamation, clamation. While publishing this printed as they were in the vernacuedict of wholesale confiscation as a lar, might and did circulate through deliberate resolve of the supreme Go- the revolted districts—and all Oude vernment, he says that he at the was then in open revolt-how could same time purposed to neutralise its our officers follow into those districts effect, " by explaining to the talook- to tell the people that there was no dars and landowners with whom our intention to carry the proclaimed officers came in contact, that the punishment into effect? Altogether confiscation did not necessarily ope- it was a most clumsy and inoperarate as a permanent deprivation of tive, as well as an unjust and untheir rights." In other words, while statesmanlike conception. the Governor-General proclaimed the Rather than adopt a course at once confiscation of the whole soil of Oude, so erroneous, so undignified, and so his subordinates were to go about impracticable, it would certainly have giving his proclamation the lie ! been far better if Lord Canning had How Lord Canning could reconcile issued no proclamation at all. Insuch a procedure with his own per- deed, as we have said, so far from sonal respect or official dignity, we his reply sufficing to justify the tenor do not comprehend. It is certainly of his proclamation, it seems conclua matter much less easily understood sively to establish that, by his own than his Lordship's non-resignation ; showing, no proclamation at all and the public at home would have should have been issued. For what been more obliged to him if he had do we find recorded in his own exgiven an explanation on the former planations? “I believe," he says, point instead of on the latter. As * that the issue of proclamations is an act of State, too, such procedure not the surest or safest mode of inwas most impolitic and pernicious; fluencing the natives of India. The for what reliance can the natives re- experience of the past year has furpose in the supreme Government, nished examples of the ingenuity when it is thus acknowledged that with which the meaning of such imperial proclamations may say one documents can be perverted, or their thing and be meant to mean another language misrepresented by the eneAs if to complete the incomprehen- mies of the State ; and it is a fact, sible amount of error into which Lord several instances of which have Canning fell, it must be evident that come to my knowledge of late, not only was the severity of the pro- that the word of an English officlamation entirely at issue with his cer of the Government, even though premises of mercy and moderation, a stranger, is more trusted than but the manner in which he pro- a printed paper. I should thereposed to deal with this proclamation fore have preferred to take in was preposterously impracticable. Oude the course which was afterHe admits that wholesale confisca- wards taken in Rohilcund, and to tion was indefensible ; yet instead place instructions in the hands of the officers attached to the columns which ing to his views, no proclamation marched through the country, leaving should have been issued at all; and, it to them to carry out those instruc- secondly, that the proclamation which tions, and to explain in each district he did issue, was in direct opposition the spirit in which the Government to justice and the requirements of the desired to deal with the people.". If case. Confiscation was not justicethis proves anything, it certainly it was not policy : it was the reverse proves that his Lordship should not of both. What, then, could have have issued any proclamation in Oude.tempted his Lordship to commit “But,” he adds—and here comes an- such an error ? A sentence in his otherextraordinary part of his explan- reply, very explicit in itself, and ations—“I knewit to be very probable amply corroborated by the speeches that no columns would beavailable for of those with whom he was in full this purpose in Oude, and that much correspondence last May, explains time might elapse before English offi- the mystery. In that sentence his cers would be able to penetrate the Lordship says : “ The confiscation to province. I therefore had recourse the State of the proprietary rights in to a proclamation which might be the soil, would tend to the final settledisseminated by native agency." ment of many of those disputes reWhat a jumble of self-contradictions specting landed rights, which bave his Lordship indulges in ! How been the source of so much strife and quickly he forgets what he has just animosity in Oude." Grievous intold us as to the peculiar character justice had been committed against of the edict, and as to how he pro- the proprietors of Oude by our landposed to take the sting out of it, settlement, at which the proprietors

by explaining to the talookdars naturally showed much resentment and landowners with whom our and to proclaim the confiscation of officers came in contact that the the entire rights in the soil, his Lordconfiscation' did not necessarily ship thought would be an adroit operate as a permanent deprivation way of settling the matter, without of their rights!” Had the proclama- having to make any admission of tion (as unquestionably it ought) past injustice on the part of the Govbeen intended to be understood liter- ernment, or of past injuries on the ally and without qualification, then part of the landowners! It was not there might be reason for issuing it; justice, therefore—it was not the but he himself tells us that it was merits of the case that his Lordship not meant to be so understood, but had in view—but an unscrupulous to be explained away by perambu- stroke of policy, to rid the Governlating agents of the Government. Ac- ment from the effects of its own cordingly, his only explanation for previous acts of injustice. The utter issuing any proclamation amounts indefensibility of the proclamation on to this : Oude, he says, was in such such a ground as this, we need not a state, that a proclamation might stay to argue. No defence is posbe disseminated in it by native sible,-unless his Lordship have no agency ; but no British columns or higher moral standard for our Indian officers could permeate it to explain Government than that of an organthe intentions. “Therefore” (!) he ised band of buccaneers. It would threw into the province a proclama- indeed have been grateful to the tion which, he says, he never meant red-tapists at Calcutta, to have got to be understood literally, but to be rid of a difficulty of their own makexplained away by our officers—such ing--to have covered an injustice of explanation, by his own showing their own perpetrating. But such a being at the same time impossible, plea will not be tolerated by the as our officers could not enter the British public. But since the plea country!

is advanced, let us descend from Thus the statements and explana- moral grounds—let us become for a tions in Lord Canning's reply, in- moment no better than Lord Canstead of justifying his proclamation, ning thinks the public should be, show conclusively, first, that accord- and consider the plea by the mere light of worldly expediency. Let us not surprised, therefore, that he should see if the object to be attained was have persisted in issuing his proworth the cost. Lord Canning's ob- clamation despite the vigorous reject, he tells us, in issuing the decree monstrances of Lord Clyde, Sir of confiscation, was, that it “would James Outram, and all the best tend to the final settlement of many judges on the spot. It was a very disputes respecting landed rights in obstinate proceeding, but it was in Oude.”. Amidst a war and revolt that keeping with his general conductcovered all Hindostan, and which of which his passion for re-arming shook our Indian Empire to its base, the Sepoys, in spite of advice and the his Lordship’s prime object was to strongest warnings of facts to the obtain this comparatively petty end contrary, is another glaring instance. -the settlement of some disputed But Sir James Outram, says Lord land-rights !- disputes, too, which Canning, if he objected to the prohad been occasioned by the high- clamation when sent to him, had handed injustice of probably the previously taken a different view. very red-tapists who incited him to He had written to me, says his Lordthis gross error-say rather, crime! ship, to the effect that the lands of Such an

error shows, as do not men who have taken an active part a few other incidents of his Lord against us should be largely confisship’s rule, that he was very incap- cated, in order, among other reasons, able of appreciating the nature of the to enable us to reward others in the crisis produced by the revolt. While manner most acceptable to a native." Lord Clyde, with veteran experience Well, what does this advice amount and circumspect eye, was scanning to ? As will be observed, it refers the prospects of the war, and the solely to the men who had taken an perils certain to arise from the ap- active or leading part against us; proaching hot season and guerilla and it is suggested that the lands tactics on the part of the enemy, and of the men should be “largely” had forecast a plan of the campaign confiscated. In what sense

is which would meet both of these “largely” to be here understood ? perils,-Lord Canning, presumptuous An elephant is “ large,”—a hen's egg, in ignorance, and probably urged three inches long, is “ very large !" thereto by his red-tape friends in All epithets are comparative, and council, peremptorily insisted upon must be understood from the conthe abandonment of those plans, text. There is no difficulty in thus and the adoption of a hasty and understanding Sir James's language. premature attack upon Lucknow- The confiscation, he suggests, is to be foolishly fancying that the very sound “ large,” in order to allow of others of our cannon at Lucknow would awe being rewarded by the confiscated all Oude into submission, and make estates; in other words, he recomits whole population, talookdars, ze- mends that enough of land should be mindars, and all, ready obsequiously confiscated to enable us suitably to to place their necks under his heel! reward those who had proved our

That which is firmness in the wise friends. Well, then, what was the becomes obstinacy in the ignorant. number of our friends? By Lord He who is wise in ordinary circum- Canning's own showing (vide his stances, may become unwise in extra- proclamation)-only sıx ! This, then, ordinary ones. Lord Canning was in is the standard by which Sir James's extraordinary circumstances. Sud- largely” is to be understood. Indenly and unexpectedly, either by stead of so acting, Lord Canning conhimself or by those who had made him fiscated the entire soil of Oude to the Governor-General, he found himself British Government-he disinherited enveloped in war and perils of a most the whole five millions of the populaunusual kind ; and he had not the tion of Oude, with the exception of genius to appreciate the crisis. Hence six persons !—and nevertheless asserts his quality of firmness degenerated that Sir James Outram at one time at times into obstinacy. Once he advised him to do so! We give his got an idea, he stuck to it. We are Lordship full credit for believing

« ForrigeFortsæt »