Francis Carnac Brown.

Letters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company online

. (page 13 of 19)
Online LibraryFrancis Carnac BrownLetters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company → online text (page 13 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the sole staple of conversation, from facts and particulars
in the mouth of every gentleman I met, and of every
respectable Native, an explanation of what had hitherto
passed my comprehension, the causes which had convulsed
this Province, from one extremity to the other. For
if dismay and alarm had prevailed throughout North
Malabar, South Malabar had been the scene, if possible
of greater; insomuch that a Native gentleman of Calicut,
whose means of information are the very best, told me
that the Rajahs and principal persons there had secreted

* It is necessary to bear in mind the very different value of money in
Malabar and Canara, and that to tlie receiver and the giver, a rupee may
there represent a pound sterling elsewliere.

l \'oucher A, (not printed, being loo voluminous.)


all their gold and valuables, and had taken steps to fly
instantly into Travancore !

30. From this explanation I learned, that the first shock
which the public confidence received, was the arrival at
Tellicherry, in a Pattamar * from Mangalore, of five ladies
with their infants at the breast, without food, without
water, some without a change of raiment, or a mattress to
lie on. These ladies were five out of a number of eleven,
who, with thirteen children, were put on board a Pattamar,
in the river of Mangalore, on the 4th of April. A cry was
raised, " the Coorgs are coming ;" the cable was immedi-
ately cut, there was no crew on board, the boat drifted to
near the river's mouth, there grounded, beat violently on
the sands, and nearly filled with water ; in which state,
drenched to the skin, and expecting her every moment to
sink, these ladies passed one whole night. On the follow-
ing morning, they were descried and succoured. But the
five in question and their children, without any other re-
freshment than a cup of tea, some in their drenched attire,
were put on board another Pattamar and sent off to Telli-
cherry, there to appal every heart by the exhibition of their
present sufferings, and the anticipation of their future

31. The second great shock received, was the arrival of
the Eamont on the 6th of April at Cannanore, bringing all
the other ladies and children, two gentlemen (one, it is
said, compulsorily) and the two Judges of Mangalore ; who,
as is known to all, officially, and, I believe, conjointly, re-
ported to the Government that they feared all human aid
to Mangalore was vain : that the abandonment of the place
by all the Europeans and Sepoys had imanimousli/ been
determined upon, and fruitlessly attempted, on the 4th of
April, but that they (the writers) and the persons with them,

•^ An open coasting vessel.


it was feared, alone survived to bear witness to the truth of
tlie tale.

32. Sir, if my wonder was not dissipated, if my absence
and position made me the last person to hear all these
astounding particulars, it was relief inexpressible to hear
them, possessed of the assurance that not a single Euro-
pean, nor hardly a Native, life had been sacrificed at Man-
galore, that the British flag had long since replaced that of
the Insurgents, and that the British authority was either
restored, or had continued unshaken, throughout all the
ancient districts of Canara.

33. Then it also was that, of the European residents at
Tellicherry, I was, I believe, the last to read, what had
been in all other hands, the letter of the 15th of April,
(a copy of which accompanied my letter of 3 1st of May,)
from the Native of Mangalore; giving to his family an
account of the state of terror and anarchy into which that
town was plunged from the 3d of April, and of the scenes
he himself witnessed on the 4th and on the 5th, the day of
the first attack. No sooner did I read this letter, than I
urged its immediate dispatch to the Government, in order
that the attention of the Government might be timely
awakened to events, the real nature of which was no longer
a doubt to the Natives of the two Provinces, nor to any of
its own servants.

34. Solicitous, moreover, to have more information, and
being possessed of property at Mangalore, I dispatched
thither some queries, founded on the details given in this
letter, and directed some of the rebel ammunition to be
sent to me, for the purpose of comparing it with the kinds
which the Natives, in this neighbourhood, fabricate and

35. The answers returned to the queries fully bore out
the letter : it was further completely borne out, before my
return to Tellicherry and before, I believe, every gentleman


there, by the testimony of Hadjee Oomur,* a very respect-
able and opulent Malioniedan Merchant of Mangalore, who
witnessed the two attacks upon the town, and who stated
to all, that the number of armed insurgents did not exceed
500. The Hadjee having successfully defended his pro-
perty from pillage during the attacks, no longer deeming
the persons of his large family secure, when numerous
troops entered the place, came with them all to Tellicherry.
36. It was also on my return, that I obtained an expla-
nation of another incomprehensible circumstance. The
panic-struck people had repelled all my arguments to calm
them, by declaring that the European Residents had en-
gaged and detained a ship to embark in and sail away.
On the arrival of the Eamont at Tellicherry, it occurred,
first I believe to a valued friend of mine, that the services
of this ship might be valuable, in transporting a body of
troops to Mangalore. He proposed, and all others con-
curred, that she should be detained at the joint private
expense, until the offer of her was made to the Officer
Commanding the Provinces. The intention of this patri-
otic and considerate act was beyond all praise. Unfortu-
nately, its object seems not to have been freely and unre-
servedly communicated to the Natives. They saw and
heard only, that the ship was detained at the height of the
alarm, and they jumped to the conclusion, not now I fear
to be easily eradicated, that, as at Mangalore, so she was now
engaged for no other purpose, than to bear all the residents
away. Of such moment is it, at all times, but particularly
in times of alarm and disturbance, that public men who
not only represent, but who are, the Government, should
weigh with scrupulous care the imj)ressiou which the best
intentioned, as well as the most indiflerent, act may make
on the minds of the Natives around them.

* Also by Abdul Lalif, another Maliomedan morcliant, and by tliu
Mooftee of the Mangalore Court, who likewise came away to Tolliclierry.


37. The events I afterwards heard of were, the Procla-
mation of Martial Lawin Canara, the assembling of a Court
Martial at Manoalore, the centre of agitation and excite-
ment, presided over by the Officer there commanding to
try the Prisoners, and the abdication by His Lordship in
Council, in their case, of his prerogative of life and death
into the hands of the Officer commanding the Provinces.

38. On the 15th of April, the Bombay Troops reached
Mangalore. The troops that had been poured in from
Cannanore and Mysoor had, as was known, long pre-
ceded them. It was after this intelligence had been public
several days, that a scene was acted at Tellicherry which
shocked me past endurance.

39. On the 20th or 21st of April, I beg the date may be
attended to, a gentleman drives down full tear three miles
from his house to the beach, where a group of others,
myself of the number, were assembled ; throws himself
from his Bandy, his horse a sheet of foam, bestows not a
sign of recognition upon any one, seats himself on a stone,
pulls a letter from his pocket, and reads aloud to all pre-
sent, " that all Canara was in revolt, all JMysoor and all
Coorg ready to rise, and that the most formidable and
extensive insurrection India ever saw was on the eve of
breaking out." He had stopped on the road a gentleman
driving a lady, and had at first read to them, that a most
extensive massacre of Europeans had taken, or was to take
place ! I appeal to this gentleman, if he did not. The
authority for this intelligence was declared to be unde-
niable; every word of it was credited, and then came
reproaches and upbraidings of the Principal Collector for
keeping so large a sum in his Tellicherry Treasury; of the
temptation it held out to the Coorgs to come, and sack,
and burn the European houses; of the ease with which the
exploit might be performed before any one was aware of it ;
of the risk it heedlessly exposed the Europeans to: and
then came suggestions of the propriety and necessity of


removing this treasure. Its removal into boats had, I hear,
been mooted once before.

40. And who was the person who thus conducted him-
self? What was the scene of this conduct? The scene
was, the populous town ofTellicherry, the Sudder (principal)
station of the two Provinces of Malabar and Canara, open
to the sea, with a defensible Fort, within sight of the can-
tonment of Cannanore, and about a hundred miles away
from any disturbances. The person who thus conducted
himself was the first Judge of the Provincial Court, in
standing the oldest Civil Servant, in rank the first man
in the two Provinces, and, at the very time, the Judge
actually on his Circuit to Canara, there to hold criminal
Sessions !

41. Let it be imagined possible that, after the Irish
rebellion was known to be entirely suppressed, and the
authority of the Government firmly restored, an English
Chief-Justice (the comparison will, I fear, be set down as
odious,) could produce at Tilbury Fort, a letter in the
manner I have described, and there read from it to all who
might chance to hear, that Ireland was again in a flame,
Scotland ripe for rebellion, Wales in arms, and the most
formidable insurrection England ever saw, ready to burst
upon her ; and thereupon, that he should express his
doubts, lest his house and furniture (his house from which
he is obliged to see such a Cantonment as Canna-
nore!) sliould be plundered and burned, before he was
aware of it, and suggesting that all temptation should
be removed that might lead to so probable and so heinous
an act.

42. Such a scene in England would be more than in-
nocuous. Far different, however, might its consequences
be on the spot where it was exhibited. The readei- knew
not, but that the contents of ihe letter he |)roduced might
be sent, that moment, to the Papers, as every absurd,
calumnious, tale has been sent, and disseminated, on the


authority of the first Judge of the Provinces to the four
quarters of the country.

43. If the smallest tittle of this monstrous intelligence
had been true, the oldest Civilian, the highest functionary
in the two Provinces, one would think would have been the
man, above all other men whatever, to bury it in the deepest
recesses of his own breast, lest, if even whispered to him-
self, echo should hear and repeat the damning tale. But
when every part of it was so plainly monstrous, so palpably
unworthy of a moment's belief, what must have been his
state of mind, what his calmness and self-possession, both
before and at the time, when, instead of tearing such a
letter into a thousand pieces, and warning the writer how
he again trifled with a person holding his, the First Judge's,
high and responsible station, when, instead of this, he flies
to produce it, and publishes its contents, it may be said, in
triviis !

44. The same functionary scrupled not to proclaim, with
all the authority of his acuteness, let him say that he did
not also write it, as an undoubted proof of the treasonable
intentions lurking in the breasts of the inhabitants of Telli-
cherry that, " for some days, they looked as pleased as if
they had got the Lac of Rupees in the Lottery!" Ad-
mirable and characteristic illustration of treason in a Native
population ! This gentleman will suffer me to interpret for
the inhabitants, since they cannot interpret for themselves,
this look, big with a lac of meaning, which they put on.
I can assure him, upon their own indubitable testimony,
that they merely meant to express by it those feelings of
jeering and derision, at the blank looks they saw which,
convulsing them internally, at length mastered all Native
powers of face ; feelings which men would vent elsewhere
in shouts to rend the earth.

45. This, Sir, was the real, and, they trust, the ex-
cuseable, meaning of " the looks" of the people of Telli-
cherry ; looks, which they hope will not be held to


compromise a century and more of unshaken loyalty and
fidelity conspicuously proved to the British Government.*

* The Fort and Factory of Tellicherry, a territory about five miles
long, and not one mile broad, have been in the peaceable, uninterrupted,
possession of the British Crown since the year 1668, a period of 170
years. During the same period, if small things may be mentioned witli
great, England herself has witnessed one Revolution, and three formida-
ble Rebellions. In the war with Hyder, of 1769 — 70, when the British
power was reduced to the lowest ebb, when Hyder overran the Carnatic,
when his troops filled Malabar, and securely held all Canara, when not
a Rupee remained in the Bombay Treasury, nor a man could be spared
for the defence of Tellicherry, the Chief and Factors received orders to
abandon this, the remaining British settlement in the Province, and
remove with all the public property to Bombay.

In this extremity, all the heads of families, Hindoo and Mahomedan,
Nyr and Mapilla, with one spirit and with one accord, came forward,
and voluntarily bound themselves in writing before the Chief, not only
to enrol themselves, but to contribute for the defence of the place, one-
fourth of the rent of all their rice fields, and one-fifth of that of all their
gardens, both estimated in pi'oduce, according to the ancient, uniform,
equitable, and invariable practice throughout India, previous to British

This engagement, the first land-tax the inhabitants had ever known,
was joyfully ratified by the Chief, in the name of the Government of
Bombay, and the place was maintained and saved.

Among the numerous and important political consequences which
speedily resulted from this signal and timely act of fidelity and devotion,
a prominent one was that, in the subsequent war with Tippoo, a large
division of the Bombay army was enabled speedily to advance from the
Western Coast, and by effecting a junction with Lord Cornwallis under
the walls of Seringapatam, powerfully contributed to secure the peace,
which the Governor-General then dictated to the Sultan, (1792) one of the
chief conditions of which was, the cession of the whole of the Maritime
Province of Malabar, an area of about 6,000 square miles, and a popu-
lation of 800,000 people, to the British Government.

The last survivor of this band of faithful and devoted men, a patriarch
of nearly one hundred years, died about four years ago. Often have 1
heard from his lips a narrative of the scene which then passed ; ascene,
when despair and despondency in the Chief and Factors were exchanged
for gratitude, confidence, and exultation. This man lived to see the
co7'H-rent of one-fourth of his rice lands, which he had engaged to pay.


46. But what was the meaning, which the First Judge
fixed to these " looks" himself, and designed should be af-
fixed to them by those to whom he addressed himself? His
meaning, at the time and under the circumstances, could
be no other, than that the inhabitants of Tellicherry were
exulting in their hearts at the reported capture and burning
of Mangalore by the Insurgents, at the defeat of the Sepoys,
and the massacre of all the Europeans!

47. It was the first and the oldest British functionary
in these two Provinces, who circulated this belief in the
diabolical treachery and malignity of a people, among
whom he has been dwelling in peace and security for the
last twelve years. This gentleman says that, throughout
the course of nearly forty years service, he has " made it a

converted really into a money tax of one-half; and the produce rent of
his gardens, of one-fifth, into a money tax of often more than a half:
he lived to see a succession of tax-gatherers follow each other yearly,
and, year by year, come and survey his gardens, there count and note
every tree he had planted, and, wiien the first fruit appeared on its
branches, rate the tree as full bearing, and exact from him the full
money tax ; he lived to be compelled to choose by the Madras Govern-
ment between the following alternatives — either to pay the full money
tax upon all his past hearing trees, or to have them all cut down — to
have cut down, before his eyes, all his past bearing Cocoa-nut, Betel-nut,
and Jack, trees, he having no further right nor property in them, he being
a biped creature, paying revenue, nothing more !

All this did this Mapilla, for he was a Mapilla, live to see; all this do
his descendants, and the descendants of his fellow-townsmen and
fellow-subscribers see, and patiently suffer ; those descendants have
also lived to be taunted and branded, as traitors to the British Govern-
ment because a tumult occurred 100 miles off, and because they were
the astonished hearers and spectators of all that followed this tumult in
Canara and Malabar! This has been their treatment; their treatment,
after they and the people of Malabar universally (as also of Canara) gave,
only four years ago, another most striking proof of their fidelity, in
having resisted, to a man, all the offers and inducements which the
Coorg Rajah, seated on his Musnud, and with a full treasury at his
command, held out to them to join him in his hostilities against the


point not to encourage %vliat are called Native visils.'" The
practice, on this authority, must be held indisputable: I
truly believe that not a Rajah nor Native of rank crosses
his threshold; and they will admit, that he knows as iiiuch
of the people and of the country, as the day he entered the
latter. But they presume that his candour has made him
prefix this declaration, as a standing motto, to all the
voluminous Sessions and Circuit Reports he has yearly
compiled, to be transmitted to the Court of Directors, and
consulted by the English authorities, as correct and faithful
expositions, founded upon his personal knowledge and
inquiries, of the internal state of two important and distant
Provinces, over all the tribunals of which. Criminal, Civil
and Magisterial, he presides in chief. But where, I ask, was
his sense, not of justice, not of consideration, to the people ;
if twelve years of their marked and uniform respect and
attention, if 42,000 Rupees of their toil and sweat paid
yearly to him, had failed to imbue a human breast with
feelings of kindness and trust? where was his sense of duty
to the Government, at a time when that duty required
him to be the foremost man in showing, and in committing
the first man who failed to show, the most unbounded
confidence in their loyalty and attachment; a time, when
commotion agitated one Province, and alarm the other ;
where was his sense of duty to the Government he serves,
and to his country, when, at such a time, he, the First
Judge, could publicly exhibit, and inculcate a totally op-
posite belief? If such conduct towards the Natives of their
European rulers, if such wanton sowing of dragon's teeth
among them, produce not this portion of the earth in the
fulness of time, bristling with armed men, arrayed against
every man and every thing that is English, Divine Justice
sleeps! But the First Judge has served his Annuity; the
reaping of this harvest regards not him.

48. To witness such conduct, to hear such a speech,
is, I own, a just retiibution which injured humanity has



doomed me to suffer, for preserving silence on another

49. That a Judge should voluntarily and freely state,
that he had hanged the wrong man, and wrongly trans-
ported another for life, in a case of murder; that he
should state this to the Judicial Officer, who committed
the case for trial before him ; that this Officer should
declare to the Judge, that he also had come to the same
harrowing conviction, relative to the innocence of these
men; that this Officer should instantly prepare, for sub-
mission to tlie Court of Fonjdaree Udalut, the irresis-
tible grounds of his conviction, terminated by an earnest
prayer to be allowed to take further evidence in the
case; that he should communicate these grounds to the
Judge, and beseech him to concur in, and support, the
prayer; that the Judge should distinctly refuse; that
one of the Judges of the Fonjdaree Udalut should thank
God that he had had nothing to say to the case; that
another of the Judges should express his fears, lest a
judicial murder had been committed ; that the collective
Court should, nevertheless, at the distance of eighteen
months after the reference made to it of this case, affirm the
first conviction, and negative the prayer ; that the Judge,
he who had condemned, and now believed in the innocence
of, the two victims, he who knew that the survivor of them,
the one whom the gibbet had spared, was by his, the
Judge's sentence, wearing out his days as a transported
felon, he who believed the real murderers to be still abroad ;
that this Judge, on learning the decision of the Fonjdaree
Udalut, should declare, in writing, that "decision to be
most satisfactory ;" that 1 should know all this, hear all
this, have afterwards in my possession the perfect proofs of
the innocence of these two unfortunate men, and that I
should have maintained public silence, is an offence, it is a
crime, to humanity and to society which merits all the
punishment I have suffered. With deep contrition do I


ask pardon of God and the people for it ; although truth
be the witness, that all that a powerless, private, man could
do, to bring' forward the case, I atteinj)ted, and that if a
competent Court had existed, I would have prosecuted it.*
50. Not satisfied, however, with seeing a traitor in every
Native face, an enemy in every form, the Post, the Press,
private correspondence, and the public Papers, every Euro-
pean weapon, which the ignorance and helplessness of the
Native render him incapable of wielding in self-defence,
was relentlessly turned against him, in order to disseminate
an universal belief in the lurking treachery and disaffection
of the people.i" The Members of the Government will
say, whether this belief was not sought to be impressed
privately upon their minds. At Ootacamund, Wynaad
was reported to be in so disturbed a state, that the Sub-
collector of Malabar, whose presence was urgently required
on the Coast, was afraid to bring his wife through the dis-
trict, one under his own charge ! From Bangalore, the Com-
missioner of Mysoor officially reported to the Government,
with all the solemnity of a King's speech, that he " con-
" tinned to receive from all parts, the most satisfactory

* Since this leUer was first printed, I have learned, accidentally, but
from undoubted authority, that the late Governor of Madras, to whom I
transmitted the proofs of the innocence of these two unfortunate men, left
behind him a minute, recording his opinion that they had been convicted
on insufficient evidence. Sir F. Adam quitted India in March, I in
December 1837. To the hour of my departure from Tellicherry, not a
word had been heard of this minute. What became of it ?

I have now no hesitation in declaring to those who are acquainted
with the people and the country, that in this case one Native was put to
death, and another transported for life, upon evidence, that would not
have justified the conviction of one of the lower animals.

f Throughout the Bombay Presidency it was reported and believed,
that " the Coorgs, Mapillas, and Nyrs of the Coast were all in a state of
rebellion. All the different Brigades (of the Bombay army) received
orders to hold themselves in readiness to march at an hour's notice." In
Ceylon, the 90th Light Infantry (Queen's) were under orders for em-
barkation and field service on the Coast !

M 2


" assurances of quiet, and that the only danger of disturb-
" ance to the public peace was to be apprehended from the
" turbulent population of Malabar!" The turbulent popu-
lation of Malabar! a population guiltless of even a tumult
for the last thirty years ! numbers of whom I saw, and
every other man might have seen, humiliating and mourn-
ful sight to behold I with natures so emasculated, as to
have lost the instinct of self-defence, and to know no

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryFrancis Carnac BrownLetters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company → online text (page 13 of 19)