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to British interests, and to replace upon its throne a sovereign
represented to be friendly to those interests, and popular with his
former subjects.

" The chief believed to be hostile became a prisoner, and the
sovereign represented to be popular was replaced upon his
throne ; but, after events which brought into question his fidelity
to the Government by which he was restored, he lost, by the
hands of an assassin, the throne he had only held amidst insur-
rections, and his death was preceded and followed by still exist-
ing anarchy.

" Disasters unparalleled in their extent, unless by the errors in
which they originated, and by the treachery by which they were
completed, have in one short campaign been avenged upon
every scene of past misfortune ; and repeated victories in the
field, and the capture of the cities and citadels of Ghuznee and
Cabul, have again attached the opinion of invincibility to the
British arms.

" The British armies in possession of Afghanistan will now be
withdrawn to the Sutlej.

" The Governor- General will leave it to the Afghans themselves
to create a government amidst the anarchy which is the conse-
quence of their crimes.

" To force a sovereign upon a reluctant people would be as
inconsistent with the policy as it is with the principles of the
British Government, tending to place the arms and resources of
that people at the disposal of the first invader, and to impose
the burden of supporting a sovereign, without the prospect of
benefit from his alliance.

448 Life of Sir George Pollock.

" The Governor- General will willingly recognize any govern-
ment approved by the Afghans themselves which shall appear
desirous and capable of maintaining friendly relations with
neighbouring states.

" Content with the limits nature appears to have assigned to
its empire, the Government of India will devote all its efforts
to the establishment and maintenance of general peace, to the
protection of the sovereigns and chiefs its allies, and to the
prosperity and happiness of its own faithful subjects.

" The rivers of the Punjaub and Indus, and the mountainous
passes, and the barbarous tribes of Afghanistan, will be placed
between the British army and an enemy approaching from the
west, if, indeed, such an enemy there can be, and no longer
between the army and its supplies.

" The enormous expenditure required for the support of a large
force in a false military position at a distance from its own
frontier and its resources, will no longer arrest every measure for
the improvement of the country and of the people.

" The combined army of England and of India, superior in
equipment, in discipline, in valour, and in the officers by whom
it is commanded, to any force which can be opposed to it in Asia,
will stand in unassailable strength upon its own soil, and for
ever, under the blessing of Providence, preserve the glorious
empire it has won in security and in honour.

" The Governor-General cannot fear the misconstruction of his
motives in thus frankly announcing to surrounding states the
pacific and conservative policy of his government.

" Afghanistan and China have seen at once the forces at his dis-
posal, and the effect with which they can be applied.

" Sincerely attached to peace for the sake of the benefits it
confers upon the people, the Governor- General is resolved that
peace shall be observed, and will put forth the whole power of
the British Government to coerce the state by which it shall be

In order to give a dramatic effect to this famous
state paper, his Lordship dated it " 1st October," on
which day four years previously, also at Simla (and it is

Life of Sir George Pollock. 449

said by Sir Jasper Nicolls in his "journal," in the
same room), his amiable but unlucky predecessor had
penned another manifesto, setting forth the grounds
of his declaration of war against Dost Mahomed, a
document which is characterized by Marshman, in
his " History of India," as remarkable, " whether
considered with reference to its glaring misstatements,
the sophistry of its arguments, or the audacity of its

Lord Ellenborough's manifesto, though written on
the 1st October, was not issued until some days later,
as appears from the following letter addressed by his
Lordship to General Pollock :

Simla, October 12, 1842.

" GENERAL, I enclose for your information a copy of a pro-
clamation signed by me here on the first of this month, but with-
held from immediate publication with the view to the having
previously made and circulated to the native courts, and amongst
the natives generally, a correct translation which might be the
official document in the native language, and prevent any misre-
presentation or misapprehension of the intentions of Govern-
ment. I further wished not to make known here the intention
of withdrawing the army until I knew that you had actually the
prisoners in your hands, and had made arrangements for leaving
Cabul. Your letter received here on the 5th, removed every
ground for withholding the publication of the proclamation, had
the translation been prepared, but in consequence of the absence
of Mr. Clerk on duty in the plains, no such translation had been
made as I could fully rely upon. In the meantime, by a com-
bination of accidents, and some irregularity in the transaction of
business in the secretary's office, the printed copies of the pro-
clamation were, without my knowledge or that of the secretary
himself, transmitted to the presidencies and the political offices


45 Life of Sir George Pollock.

generally. There is no object in your publishing the proclama-
tion in your camp. Mr. Clerk returned last night, and the
translation will hardly be ready for transmission before to-

" I have, &c.,


With the other no less famous manifesto regarding
the gates of the temple of Somnauth, popularly
known in India as the " Proclamation of the Gates,"
we have no concern here. From a literary point of
view it is doubtless a well-executed parody on the
Napoleonic style, and, considered solely in this light,
does credit to the Grovernor-Greneral of a mightier
empire than that of Aurungzebe. The Grovernor-
Greneral's predilection for stilted language is apparent
in this effusion, as his weakness for " dramatic effect "
is in the notification of "October 1st." To return
to Ferozepore.

The most elaborate preparations had been made by
the Grovernor-Greneral, who had moved down from
Simla to the plains in order to receive the returning
warriors with due eclat. At Ferozepore, an army of
reserve had been previously assembled, under the
personal command of Sir Jasper Nicolls. It was
said at the time by a portion of the Indian press,
that this imposing force had been kept together
solely for the purpose of presenting arms to the
" illustrious garrison " of Jellalabad, for whom Lord
Ellenborough expressed an unbounded admiration,
which, although fully deserved, partook of rather an
invidious character, when it is considered how great

Life of Sir George Pollock. 451

were the services of the troops of Nott and Pollock.
This cynical view of the cause that induced the
Governor- General to assemble an army of reserve
was, however, not altogether a fair one, for it should
be borne in mind that his predecessor, Lord Auck-
land, had originally projected such a military
gathering at a time when it was believed that it
would produce a great moral effect upon the neigh-
bouring States. Though the chief object for its
assembly, now that the troops employed beyond the
Indus were returning with victory inscribed on their
banners, was doubtless a desire on the part of his
lordship to preside at a grand military pageant,
nevertheless sound policy dictated a demonstration
on the borders of the Punjaub at a time when
British soldiers, worn out with sickness and encum-
bered with baggage, were crossing the Sikh territory,
for the hostile bearing of Shere Singh's auxiliaries at
Peshawur early in the year testified to the real senti-
ment that underlaid their professions of friendship.
The hollowness of the truce that existed between the
two countries received a startling commentary on
that December morning, only three years subse-
quently, when 60,000 Khalsa soldiers, with 40,000
armed followers, and 150 guns of large calibre,
having crossed the Sutlej in four days, stood in
compact array within a short distance of that very-
spot where now all was light-hearted gaiety.

On the 9th December, Lord Ellenborough arrived
at Ferozepore, and with more zeal than discretion

29 *

45 2 Life of Sir George Pollock.

threw himself into the task of preparation for the re-
ception of the returning soldiers. The Maharajah of
the Punjaub, with his ministers of state and principal
military chiefs, the princes of Sirhind, and others
whom he had designated, in his famous Proclamation
of the Gates, as " brothers and friends," were asked
to take part in the rejoicings. The former potentate
declined the invitation, on the advice of his Durbar,
but sent his heir apparent and other high personages
to represent him.

Lord Ellenborough also intended that Dost Maho-
med, who had been detained as a prisoner of state at
Calcutta ever since his surrender in 1840, should, by
his presence, add distinction to the pageants in
preparation, and be dragged at his conquering
chariot wheels to swell his triumph. This an-
nouncement he made in a proclamation expressing
his intention to release him and the other Afghan
princes as soon as the " British army returning from
Afghanistan shall have passed the Indus ; " but the
popular feeling against this un-English proceeding
was so universal, that even his Lordship, who
professed to disregard such clamour, was fain to
acknowledge its justice by yielding the point. Dost
Mahomed returned to the land of his fathers, after a
private interview with the Gfovernor-Greneral, and
there he reigned many years the most powerful
monarch in Central Asia, and one who, in spite of
his dalliance with the Sikhs in 1848-49, was our
faithful ally during the crisis of 1857.

Life of Sir George Pollock. 453

In the meantime matters had returned to their
former condition of anarchy and bloodshed in the
kingdom so recently quitted. News reached General
Pollock, while he was making his way through the

" That the Suddozye prince, Shahpoor, had been expelled from
the Bala Hissa, and had fled for safety to Peshawur. The poor
boy had narrowly escaped with his life. Akbar Khan had made
a descent upon Cabul, and carried everything before him. The
Newab Zemaun Khan, it was said, had been made Governor of
Jellalabad, Shumshooden of Ghuznee, Sultan Jan of Candahar :
and hi the meanwhile, Dost Mahomed was making his way
through the Punjaub to his old principality. ' Everything,' it
was added, with bitter significance, ' is reverting to the old state
of things, as it was before we entered the country.'"

It was at Eerozepore, the scene of the approaching
" tumasha," that Lord Auckland had met Eunjeet
Singh, the aged Sovereign of the Punjaub, then sinking
into his grave, and, after displaying to his appreciative
gaze the discipline and grandeur of a British army
ready to take the field, bade his soldiers God-speed on
their unprincipled errand the invasion of Afghan-
istan. Once more, and within four short years, there
was to be a meeting of warriors and grandees, but
under what different circumstances !

The returning army expected to find their

" Stern alarums changed to merry meetings."

Nor were they disappointed.

Lord Ellenborough personally supervised the con-
struction of a triumphal arch at the end of the
bridge, by which the victorious troops were to

454 Life of Sir George Pollock.

cross the river, and here, " at the foot of the
bridge of the Sutlej," as the Governor-General
expressed it, he intended to receive them on their
entering once more within British territory. How-
ever, the functionaries whose business it was to
carry out the decorations of this arch bungled
most woefully, and in place of a handsome or impos-
ing structure, they erected a most unsightly and
grotesque object, which, instead of exciting admira-
tion, was the fertile source of ridicule. The boats
composing the bridge itself were covered with strips
of yellow, blue, and red cloth, intended to represent,
it was said, the gorgeous hues of the East when
Pho3bus Apollo rises in all his splendour. As to the
triumphal arch itself, it was a " triumph " of bad
taste, and beggars the powers of our language to
express any adequate idea of its appearance. An
officer who was an eye-witness attempts a description
of it :

' It was a scaffolding of bamboos, resembling a gigantic
gallows, and covered with streamers of the same colours as
the boats, and of the same materials. Under this arch, as
they called it, the whole army marched, and peals of merriment
as they did so burst from the soldiers, it was such an absolute
caricature of anything triumphal."

What an anti- climax ! How this laughter must
have jarred upon the nerves of the lord of these big
battalions ! But this was not all : 250 elephants had
been collected for the occasion, " and," says Marshman,
" Lord Ellenborough superintended in person the

Life of Sir George Pollock. 455

painting of their trunks, and the completion of their
gaudy caparisons." They were to be drawn up two
deep, and the Jellalabad garrison was to march
through the lines of solid flesh ; but, although the
docile animals had been instructed to make a simulta-
neous salaam, and to shout out a note of welcome
from their huge trunks, they resolutely refused to
bend the knee on the signal being given, and were
obstinately silent.

There were, however, other points in this memora-
ble gathering, the grandeur of which nothing could
mar. The effect of 25,000 British troops drawn up
to receive their victorious brothers in arms was one
that appealed to every imagination; dead to all
feelings of national pride must have been the heart
that could remain unmoved while the vindicators of
their country's military renown, the war-worn and
bearded warriors who had fought under Sale at Jel-
lalabad, under -Nott at Candahar, and under Pollock
at Tezeen, marched to the spirit-stirring strains of
martial music, and amid the plaudits of their country-
men, and the tearful yet proud congratulations of
wives, sisters, and daughters assembled to greet them.
Lord Ellenborough had determined to bestow exclu-
sive honours upon the Jellalabad brigade, though Sir
Jasper Nicolls sought to dissuade him from adopting
so invidious a course, and was of opinion that the
Candahar troops and the soldiers who forced the
Khyber should be received with the same military

45 6 Life of Sir George Pollock.

" I wished," he says in his journal, " to have one of the reserve
divisions to receive each of the divisions as it came, but he (Lord
Ellenborough) did not desire that the honours paid to the garri-
son should be extended to any other part of the army. -This I
regret, for they have all seen hard work, great exposure, and some
arduous days of service."

On the 17th December, Sir Eobert Sale crossed the
bridge of boats on the Sutlej at the head of the Jel-
lalabad garrison, and the gallant general was received
at the foot of the bridge by the Governor- General
and the Commander-in- Chief. The army of reserve,
formed in one line, extending two and a half miles,
received the "illustrious garrison" and their com-
mander, in review order with presented arms ; each
regiment in succession saluted as the veteran passed
their colours, the horse artillery thundered forth
a salute of nineteen guns, and the band of the
Lancers struck up " See the conquering hero comes,"
as Sir Eobert with his staff swept past the centre of
the noble army drawn up to do him honour. It
must indeed have been a thrilling scene, and one in
which soldiers and civilians alike would participate
with feelings too deep for words. Previous to the
arrival of the Jellalabad brigade, the Grovernor-
General had, on the 14th, despatched to Sale's camp
an aide-de-camp, Captain Colville, and his military
secretary, Captain Somerset,* under an escort of

* Captain Somerset died glori- speaking of his death, says, in a

ously ou the field of Maharajpore, despatch, he fell fighting " with

while advancing on the Mahratta the hereditary courage of his

batteries. Lord Ellenborough, race."

Life of Sir George Pollock. 457

the body-guard, with the medals granted to the
Jellalabad garrison, so that the ceremony was
enhanced by all the officers and men appearing in
their well-earned decorations.

On the 19th December, General Pollock passed the
Sutlej at the head of the second brigade of infantry
and the artillery and cavalry. (He had, while crossing
the Punjaub, been obliged to remove the cavalry
brigade from under Sir Eobert Sale's command, in
consequence of intemperate language used by him
towards the brigadier, Colonel White.) General
Pollock was received by the Governor- General at the
foot of the bridge of boats, but there was no present-
ing of arms by the army of reserve or saluting with
nineteen guns to greet him and the gallant soldiers
he had led to so many victories.

On the 23rd, General Nott arrived, bringing with
him the Gates of Somnauth he had dragged so many
hundreds of miles with such labour and assiduity, and
he also received the same modicum of approbation
as was vouchsafed to the General-in-Chief of the
returning troops. The Governor-General issued a
notification to the army on the day of the reception
of the Jellalabad brigade, recounting the military
honours that had been paid to it, and again on the
advent into camp of the other portions of the army
of Afghanistan. After this succeeded a period of
feasting, and dancing, and general junketing. The
officers were regaled at magnificent banquets in
gigantic tents hung round with silken flags, on

45 8 . Life of Sir George Pollock.

which were emblazoned the names of the actions
in which they had been engaged. Post-prandial
oratory was indulged in to an extent unpre-
cedented in India, where Lord Mayors' dinners,
and similar sources of much talking, are wholly
unknown ; complimentary speeches were the order
of the day, though, in the opinion of many, the
rejoicings were marred by the prejudiced exclusive-
ness of the Governor- General.

Eajah Shere Singh, desirous of testifying his appre-
ciation of General Pollock's great military skill, pro-
posed to present him with a magnificent sword, but
this the General was unable to accept, as the rules
were very stringent in not permitting the military
and naval servants of the Crown and Company to
receive any distinction or present from a foreign prince
or potentate. The difficulty was overcome, however,
by Lord Ellenborough first receiving the sword from
Shere Singh and afterwards presenting it to ijbe sub-
ject of this memoir.*

The soldiers likewise were not forgotten, and the
Governor- General took care to make known to a
wondering public in a Government notification, that
the Sepoys were feasted "with their favourite me-
toys," which may be explained to the uninitiated
in native condiments, as a description of sweetmeat
much in favour among natives. These rejoicings were

* The Rajah also presented similar swords of honour to Generals
Sale and Nott.

Life of Sir George Pollock. 459

appropriately closed by a grand military display ; in
the presence of the assembled notabilities, British and
foreign, for there were officers from European States
as well as Sikh princes ; and a considerable body of
Khalsa troops, an army of 40,000 men with 100 guns,
was manoeuvred on the great plain of Ferozepore.
On this grand tableau the curtain fell, and the year
1842, and its tragic events, were "as a tale that
is told." Thus dramatically closed the incidents
of the war in Afghanistan. It wanted none of
the elements of the classic epic to constitute its
events one of the most interesting chapters in
the history of mankind. The unities of the
drama were faithfully adhered to; Pollock's
triumphal march over the scenes of our disasters
formed a fitting and glorious finale to the drama
in which thousands of lives were sacrificed, millions
of treasure buried, honour tarnished and regilt, and
a kingdom lost and won.

After the camp was broken up, to the great relief
of Shere Singh, a Court-martial was convened, accord-
ing to professional usage, to investigate the conduct
of Brigadier Shelton, Colonel Palmer, Captains
Anderson, Boyd, Troup, Waller, and Eyre, who, as
the charge put it, had " abandoned their posts and
gone over to the enemy ;" the former was "acquitted,"
and the remainder "honourably acquitted" of all
blame. Major Pottinger's proceedings were also
submitted to a Court of Inquiry, of which Mr. Clerk
was president (as the Major had been in political

460 Life of Sir George Pollock.

employ), and the result was to add increased lustre to
the character of the hero of Herat.

And now we enter upon the vexed question of
rewards and honours to the officers and others who
had achieved this mighty success. Lord Ellenborough,
then, was raised a step in the peerage, and became a
" belted " earl, so that the statesman who did not
bring the war to a successful conclusion, who, if he
had had his way, would have contented himself with
bringing off the Jellalabad garrison, thus leaving
unredeemed the sullied honour of his country, this
nobleman was rewarded with an earl's coronet, while
the soldier who bore the heat and burden of the da}^,
who took upon himself a tremendous responsibility,
and but for whom no advance on Cabul, with its
attendant triumphs, no release of British captives,
would have taken place, was nominated a G.C.B. As
Dominie Sampson would say, Prodigious !

Sir George Pollock was ordered to take command
of the Dinapore division, to which he was entitled in the
ordinary course of seniority, even had he never gone to
Afghanistan. General Nott, who was also gazetted
a Gr.C.B., was appointed to the lucrative office of
Political Resident at the Court of the King of Oude
at Lucknow, with a salary of 5,000 rupees per men-
sem ; and on August 21 in the following year, on his
return to England, the Court of Directors passed a
resolution granting him a pension of 1,000, a course
which, five years subsequently, they adopted towards
Sir George Pollock. General Sale, who some time

Life of Sir George Pollock. 461

previously had been decorated with the ribbon of the
highest class of the Bath, received from the home
Government the colonelcy of a regiment worth 500
or 600 a year, and a further pension of 500 was
settled upon him, with reversion to Lady Sale. This
distribution of rewards positively appeared as if
intended to denote that General Pollock had fallen
under the displeasure of the supreme authorities, and,
coupled with the non-publication of his famous letter
of the 13th May, advocating an advance on Cabul, led
people, not naturally given to suspicion, to surmise
an ungenerous feeling in the mind of the Governor-
General towards him. " There can be little doubt,"
he wrote, " but that it was owing to the difference
regarding my unauthorized advance on Cabul, that
the Government did so very little by way of acknow-
ledgment of my services, as the Government did not
wish to act contrary to the opinion of the Governor-

A list of the soldiers who have, during the present
century, received hereditary honours, with the mili-
tary services for which they were awarded to them,
will place in their true light the inadequate nature of
the rewards that were meted out to the subject of this
memoir ; for the bestowal of honours thirty years after-
wards can scarcely be considered an adequate atone-
ment for past neglect.

General Lake was created a peer for the victory of
Laswarree and other eminent services, though the
abortive siege of Bhurtpore robbed him of all claim

462 Life of Sir George Pollock.

to be considered a really great general. Sir John
Keane was raised to the peerage for the single achieve-
ment of the capture of Ghuznee, which was due to the
inspiration of his chief engineer, Captain Thomson,
and the successful blowing in of a gate by Lieutenants
McLeod and Durand. General Wiltshire, in the
same campaign, also gained a baronetcy for the storm
of the Tort of Khelat by the division under his

Sir Hugh Gough was created a peer for the san-

Online LibraryCharles Rathbone LowThe life and correspondence of Field Marshall Sir George Pollock ...(constable of the Tower) → online text (page 33 of 40)