« ZurückWeiter »
subjects which frequently formed matter of public discussion in the general court. Hence, various abuses prevailed," and Mr. Auber details a pretty long list of these jobs. The ministers of the Crown began to think that the exclusion of India-built ships, for the sole benefit of the shipping interest of London, was unjust; but “ the opposition promoted by the shipping interest led to a conspiracy far from creditable to the ship-builders, by which the interests of the ship-carpenters in the river Thames were inflamed, at the moment when the feelings of the country were excited and alarmed by the state of the navy and the mutiny at the Nore.” Lord Wellesley, however, confident that the measure, whilst beneficial to India, would work no real injury to the British shipping interest, proposed to hire, on account of the Company, India-built ships, to carry cargoes from Bengal to England. Mr. Dundas, hearing of his intention, declared it to be a measure of much wisdom, and added, “You need not be under any apprehension as to the result of it," namely, the resentment of the Court of Directors. He accordingly persevered, but encountered the opposition of the Court influenced by the shipping interest. “ The measure,” Mr. Auber says, “ created a feeling strongly adverse to the Governor-General, which impression gathered additional strength from the question having involved the Court of Directors in extreme differences with the Board of Control, as it was expected to have led to an open rupture and an appeal to Parliament. The measure advocated by Mr. Dundas, and carried into effect by Lord Wellesley," continues Mr. Auber, “ was calculated to promote the permanent interests of India.”
Now we have quoted this from the work of a servant of the Court of Directors, as nearly in his words as possible (except by extracting the whole ten pages), and without the pamphleteer's invidious aid of capitals and italics; and we think it proves these facts :-1st. That the ostensible cause of the ejectment of Lord Wellesley, with insult and indignity, from a government in which he was rendering “ transcendant services to the Company, to the British nation, and to the vast population of British India," was not the real cause : 2nd. That the secret but real motive of his unworthy treatment on the part of the Court of Directors, was not a public but a private one :-3rd. That that private motive was one in which their own interests as individuals were preferred to “ the permanent interests of India,” the country which the Court, in a collective capacity, were appointed to govern. Yet there were writers of anonymous pamphlets at that time,--some of them are not yet swept into the limbo of forgotten publications,—in which the proceeding of the Court of Directors was justified, in the gravest tone, nay lauded, upon public grounds, and the conduct of Lord Wellesley stigmatized in even bitterer terms than that of Lord Ellenborough has been.
It is scarcely necessary to say that we have entered upon this examination with no intention whatever of reflecting upon the
present Court of Directors, whose straightforward exercise of the power of recal stands in honourable contrast to the indirect proceedings of their predecessors; but to supply a very important omission in the pamphlet before us, the writer of which gives his readers reason to believe that there has never been any wanton, indiscreet, and culpable exercise of their powers by the Court in reference to governors in India; whereas, even in the case of Lord William Bentinck, the Court acted indiscreetly, precipitately, and unjustly. He was recalled summarily, without being heard in justification, on the ground of having violated the religious usages of the natives. That there was no foundation for this charge is proved by the subsequent appointment of Lord William to be GovernorGeneral, which would otherwise have been an insult to the whole native population of India. In this part of the question it is of vital moment to see what has been the conduct of past Courts of Directors towards governors in India—whether it has been constantly (as the writer of the pamphlet insinuates) open, just, wise, prudent; or whether it has ever been crooked, oppressive, selfish, and indiscrect. No one suspects the present Court of Directors of dishonourable motives in what they have done ; neither did any one suspect the Court who displaced Lord Wellesley; even now, when the real incentives are laid open to us, we may charitably suppose that that Court took narrow and unstatesmanlike views of what they conceived to be the interest of this country-and so may the present Court have done.
Before we enter upon the political and military topics in which the writer of the pamphlet professes to find the cause of the Earl's recal (though he does let drop, mysteriously, that “there may be much more of which the public are ignorant,” and “there may even be reasons for the recal of which they have no suspicion,") it may
be convenient to advert to a reason which this writer -does not notice, but which another, and an abler assailant of Lord Ellenborough, with more candour or better information, has noticed. The last Calcutta Revier contains an article upon “ The Administration of Lord Ellenborough," in which the noble Lord's government, as well as his public character, is pulled to pieces with great dexterity. Towards the close of this criticism, the following passage appears :
His avowed predilection in favour of the army, and the sincerity with which he acted up to these avowals, is one of those marked characteristics which no limner should omit to portray. There are those who think that this failing “ leaned towards virtue's side ;" many more who think that it was no failing, but an absolute virtue. The truth appears to be this:-the civil service had for many years been a favoured service. It had fattened upon the golden eggs, and scattered the feathers among the military. It had not only appropriated all the large salaries, and divided almost all the honours of the state, but had, on every occasion, been permitted to ride rough-shod over the military. The Court of Directors had especially cherished this privileged class; and governors-general had been too prone to imitate this exaltation of one service at the expense of another. It was a just and a generous thing to raise the military, too long degraded, to their right position. Only a few months before the arrival of Lord Ellenborough in India, a new warrant had been passed, settling the precedence of the Company's servants, and giving to the mere boy-civilian a higher social rank than the grey-haired and decorated veteran officer. The new Governor-General, apparently resolving not to fall into this error of giving undue preponderance to a class, fell into the very excess which he desired to avoid, only giving to it a different direction. He exalted the military at the expense of the civil service. Had his efforts gone no further than a correct adjustment of the balance, he would have been entitled to all praise ; but he carried his avowed predilections for the military class to an extent unbecoming a Governor-General, whose duty is to regard alike the interests of all classes. To equalize, as far as possible under the present unequal system, the honours and emoluments of the two services, would have been a generous and praiseworthy act; but to set aside the claims of deserving civilians, even to the extent of a rude and degrading supersession, in order that he might create vacancies to be filled by his military protégés, and publicly to declare that service in the field should ever be the first claim upon his patronage—these were not praiseworthy acts. It was right that, at such a time, the character of the military service should find a strong and powerful hand to raise it to its true social position ; but it was not right that, in stretching out this strong and powerful hand, he should have manifested and avowed predilections which no Governor-General ought to entertain.
It is here admitted that the civil service of India were unduly exalted, and at the expense of the military; that the Court itself had “especially cherished” the privileged class, and that a correct adjustment of the balance would have been worthy of all praise. This reluctant admission of an adversary strengthens to a certain extent the averments of Major General Napier, who, upon the authority of his brother, we presume, imputes the treatment of Lord Ellenborough to the resentment of the civil servants. According to his Calcutta critic, his lordship was right in endeavouring Asiat.Journ.N.S. VOL.IV.No.21.
to lower the “favoured service,” to make an equal division of eggs and the feathers, and to raise the military,“ too long degraded.” The question is, whether he really adjusted the balance, or made the opposite scale preponderate. This is a nice point, upon which civil servants and military servants will differ; but it is quite distinct from either Affghanistan, Scinde, or Gwalior. If we could suppose that Lord Ellenborough has given any just cause of offence to the civil service of India, we should desire no other reason for the severity with which he has been visited,—we must not say for his recal, for that would imply that the present Court of Directors were as passive to the influence of the civil service (who are large proprietors of East-India stock), as their predecessors were to the shipping and city interests. The civil servants of India are a body distinguished by the highest qualities of probity and talent. Their influence, however, is co-extensive with their high character, and Lord Ellenborough would not be the first sufferer from their resentment. In the same number of the Calcutta Review is a defence of Lord William Bentinck, against the strictures of Mr. Thornton, in his History of India. And what do we find there? Why, that Lord William was made the butt of a censure which has not yet exhausted itself, on account of his interference with the civil service.
We think it may be affirmed, without any breach of charity (says the Reviewer), that, at the period of Lord William Bentinck's arrival in India, the civil service required the hand of a vigorous reformer. With many bright exceptions of zeal and industry, as a body, it was marked by a growing inefficiency. Idleness and neglect of duty had almost ceased to be the exception ; no “moral turpitude was attached to such misconduct, and it entailed no dishonour in the estimation” of a body which stood too much on the privileges of its “order,” and had become far too independent of the controlling authorities of the State. It was indispensable, therefore, that the agents employed in the civil administration should not only be rendered more diligent, but should also be brought into a state of greater subordination to the higher authorities, and Lord William Bentinck undertook the ungracious duty, and thereby incurred a degree of odium which those who were not in India at the time will find it difficult to credit. We will offer one instance, out of many that we could adduce, of the intensity of this feeling. One of the oldest members of the service, who had been in the habit of covering the path between his door and gate with carpets, for his carriage to pass over, who, though only a judge of circuit, never moved out without a richlymounted guard, on being asked whether he was not related to Lady William ? replied, “ No; unfortunately, to the brute himself.”
Is it unlikely that, if Lord Ellenborough undertook the more
“ ungracious duty" of restoring the balance between the service that had “fattened upon the golden eggs,” and been “especially chorished by the Court," and the “ too long degraded" class, who had only the feathers, and over whom the other had been “permitted to ride rough-shod,” he would incur a “ degree of odium ?" Nothing of this, however, is touched upon by the author of the pamphlet, who confines himself to a criticism upon the political and military transactions of Lord Ellenborough's administration, into which we shall follow him next month, observing, by the way, that we have already passed them in review, in our ample examination of the Affghanistan, Scinde, and Gwalior papers.
There is only one further point which we desire at present to notice, and that is the ungenerous turn given in the pamphlet to the incident of the dinner at Calcutta, whereby the military officers who tendered this mark of respect to a nobleman from whom they had nothing to fear or to expect, are charged with an act of insubordination. The entertainment was a private and personal one, without reference to political and military measures; the very first sentence of Lord Ellenborough's address upon the occasion marked this to be its character. The recal of the Earl must be vindicated, if at all, upon higher grounds than such a frivolous one as this, which seems to be only pressed into the account ad incidiam, and in order to mortify that gallant and “ too long degraded” body, the officers of the Indian army.
Critical Notices. Letters on the Augmentation of the License Fees paid by the Occupiers of the
Crown Lands in the Colony of New South Wales. By EDWARD T. HAMILTON, Esq. London, 1844. Murray.
These are two temperately-written letters, by a gentleman who designates himself one of the numerous squatters in the colony” of New South Wales, in defence of the measure adopted by the executive government, of exacting what is termed “ license fees" from the occupiers of waste lands. He says: "Satisfied as I am that the necessities of the government are at this moment so urgent as to require an increase of the public burthens, and feeling that, sooner or later, whenever these necessities arose, the comparative exemption of the squatters from contributing to the public ways and means must cease, I see every reason to accept thankfully the mode in which the additional burthen is fixed upon us. The government might bave taken the opportunity of its poverty for introducing an entirely new and ruinous system for the occupation of Crown lands; but by varying only the amount of our rent, it has practically adopted and stamped with the seal of permanence the principle of the old squatting system, by such I mean the enjoyment of pastoral lands on payment of an annual rent, as distinguished from the sale of the fee-simple at