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 14 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 14 of 19)
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safety but flight !

51. Who was it, Sir, that so industriously and perse-
veringly disseminated these calumnies, both in society and
among the European public ; calumnies that have been
repeated by the Press of Bengal and Bombay, and which
will be re-echoed in England?* Who was it that thus

* Since my arrival in England, 1 have Uirned to some of the English
Papers, and content myself with inserting, as specimens, the two follow-
ing extracts of " Mangalore News," the first from a daily Paper, the
Momivg Herald, the other from a weekly Paper, the Naval and Military
Gazette : —

Morning Herald, Sept. 4, 1037.

Invasion at Mangalore. — The following is an extract of a letter
from an Officer of H. M. S. Winchester, dated Bombay, May 5, 1837 :—
"The Admiral fixed the 15th of April as the day of our sailing for
Colombo, when, on ti>e evening of the 11th, an express was received of an
invasion at Mangalore, and the hostile appearance of the Coorgs before the
town to the number o/" 30,000 men, with the declaration from the autho-
rities that they could hold out but a few days longer. A messenger was
sent on shore by the Captain to state that, at the request of Sir Jolni
Keaii, Commander-in-Chief, the Winchester would sail with a part of
II. M.'s 6lh regiment, and a Brigade of Artillery, at daylight next morn-
ing; and, therefore, to prepare accordingly and be on board; and at
eleven o'clock the next day we sailed for Mangalore, with 200 of the 6th
regiment, commanded by Major Crawford, and the Artillery, which were
to be followed by the Hugh Lindsay, with 200 more. Mangalore is
about 400 miles to the southward of Bombay ; and on our passage down
we spoke the Atalanta steamer, from England, having touched at Cochin
for coals. She informed us that the Coorgs were in great force at Man-
galore; and a Major of the , commanding 600 men, had been

defeated by them. This news being taken on to Bombay, tlie Atalanta


laboured to poison the mind of the Government with
doubts and suspicions relative to the allegiance, not of
individuals only, but of the masses ? Was it the Natives,

and Amherst, Company's sloops of war, sailed the following day with the
23rd Regiment to reinforce us. We arrived at Mangalore in forty-nine
hours from Bombay, having had a splendid passage, and found the
town still in the possession of the English. The Coorgs had been twice
repulsed ; but they succeeded in burning the houses of the Collector,

Judge , and many others, with all their property ; and it was by

the greatest miracle that the ladies escaped on board ship, and got down
to Cannanore, where the 57th regiment are yet quartered, and Wellman,
Bate, and many of our old friends are there also. We landed the troops
immediately. Captain Uniacke was ready with his detachment of Royal
Marines, to share in the glory if necessary. In a few days after, the
Atalanta and Amherst arrived, when we went to Cassergode, and landed
the 35th regiment there, a distance of thirty miles south of Mangalore.
We returned to Mangalore in a few days, and found the enemy had dis-
appeared everywhere ; and as we could be of no further assistance,
started immediately for Bombay, and arrived here yesterday."

Naval and Militarj/ Gazette, Sept. 16, 1837.

[From a Courespondent.J — Observing that the statement in your
Paper of the 9th inst., relating to the affair at Mangalore, has created
some doubt as to its authenticity, t/ou muy rely upon the following fads
luleli/ received from that quarter: —

" Towards the latter end of March, Mangalore was attacked by a
numerous body of insurgents, and, during a few hours, burned to the
ground, with ])roperty to a considerable amount, the insurgents declaring

no war to the Europeans. Major , of the Company's N.I., gallantly

defended the place, and thereby saved the lives of all the civilians and
women on the station ; some of the latter escaped on board a vessel acci-
dentally in the roads, others by boats to Tellicherry and to Cannanore.
So well organized were the insurgents, that all communication was cut
off with the Mysore, and tiie different places on the coast, for several
days; at length Mr. of the Civil Service, with the wives and fami-
lies of other Civilians and Officers, arrived in open boats at Cannanore,

and having reported these facts to Brigadier , commanding II. M.

57th Regiment in Malabar, that Officer immediately ordered 100 men of
tiie 2nd N. I., 400 of the 4th N. I., the flank Companies of U. M. 57th
regiment, and a Company of Artillery, I'ioncers, Lascars, ^c. &c., under
Colonel , who arrived without molestation, and relieved Major


or was it Europeans 7iot in the Service ? It notoriously
was not. I beg it may be distinctly remembered by all
men that, on the occurrence of what was bruited forth as
insurrection and civil war, it was no Native, nor English
" interloper," that it was not one of these two classes, who
exhibited to the world, "with damnable iteration," such a
picture of the blessings enjoyed by the Natives under the
Honourable Company's Government, and of the hold this
Government possesses on their affections, after a century
and half a century of rule, that a distant, contemptible
outbreak, of a few hundred wild men, sufficed to sever in
a day every tie of allegiance and attachment, and to set

's party at Mangalore, on the 12tli or 13th of April. In the mean-
while Brigadier placed the Fort and Cantonments on the coast on

the \var establishment, which restored confidence to the Rajahs and other
Chiefs who had applied to him for protection, in that neighbourhood.
On the 16th of April, 200 of H. M. 2nd regiment arrived from Bombay ;

shortly after. Colonel 's party was considerably augmented by other

detachments of troops from the northward, and, when the last accounts

left Mangalore, orders had arrived from Madras directing Brigadier

to proceed with a large force to take possession of the Lower Coorg
country, and probubhi into the Alj/sore. lieports, however, had reached us,
that the Niars to the southward of Cochin were in open rebellion against
the authorities, arid that European troops might be required in the Travan-
core district."

These statements, however delivered as bond fide, defy all correction.
Those who desire to see many more similar ones, have only to refer to
the Papers and Publications of the same date, which profess to be the
sources of correct East India intelligence. But I entreat the English
reader to remember, and I am sure he will not remember it without a
blush, that these are the accounts to which he is obliged to trust for all
information relative to a distant, a prostrate, people ; who have neither
the means of knowing what is written and published to their prejudice,
nor the ability of exposing its falsehood ; while they are the certain
victims to the universal indifference in their fate and fortune, generated
by this wide-spread belief in the hatred they bear, and in the treachery
and disaffection tiiey are ever ready to show, to their English rulers.


them whetting their daggers for the throats of the European
functionaries ! *

52. In ordinary cases there are some limits to indigna-
tion ; but where are the limits, where the bounds, to it,
when it is known, and can be proved as plain as day, that
these calumnious reports, which compromised millions of
innocent, defenceless, men, which might have led, as in
Canara, to the proclaiming of Martial Law among them,
and to all the unavoidable excesses resulting from the
military occupation of large provinces, as it has led to the
increase of troops, had not one atom of foundation, save
in the imagination of those, who spread these reports to
cloak their own ungovernable fears.

53. I now appeal to the Governor and the Commander
in Chief, individually. They cannot be tainted with the
odious, vindictive, spirit of caste, they are not candidates
for the Direction. As British subjects of the highest rank,
and vested with the highest trusts, I ask them to survey
this vast dependency of the Empire, to reflect upon the

* Whoever will be at the trouble of looking over the files of the Madras
Conservative for April last, will find paragraphs of " News " from Ca-
nara and Malabar, which he would almost be disposed to think had been
sent, with the ink fresh, from the Council Chamber to the Printing Office.
There is not a Madras Paper which can be said to be known to the Na-
tives in the Provinces, so that a free press is, at present, to them what
the sun is to the blind, or rather what the sun is to the inhabitants of the
Arctic regions during their long dreary night. While he is kindling and
enlightening and vivifying the rest of the universe, on them his glorious
rays shed no light, no radiance ; for them he has no warmth, no heat, no
existence ! A people so defenceless are the very people whom, it would
be supposed, a generous, paternal Government, commanding the services
of salaried Law Officers would interpose to shield with the law from
defamation ; on the same ground, that the weakness and ignorance of
children and minors are held to render them the peculiar objects of pub-
lic legal protection. Yet the Papers published on, private letters swarmed,
and the Government took not one step to trace the reports, and to give
the authors an opportunity of substantiating publicly what tlicy wrote.


delicate breath of opinion which chains every portion of
it to Biitish rule. 1 usk them, by any supposition, however
strained, to place themselves in my very humble situation,
to imagine themselves land-holders of forty years' posses-
sion in a remote part of the country; and there to behold,
when exerting all their influence, and expending their
fortune, to preserve order, and inspire confidence among
the Natives, to behold, as I did, almost in an instant, a
terror and panic spread past belief, the apprehended dis-
solution of all Government, their own property, and that
of every other man in the country, rendered not worth a
day's purchase, even hardly safe from the temptation held
forth to its immediate plunder.* I ask them to think of
this scene, to revolve all that I was obliged to hear, and
doomed to see, on my return to Tellicherry, and I then
ask his Lordship and his Excellency, as British Officers,
how they would feel their uniform to wear, if, after this,
they had maintained absolute silence towards the Govern-
ment? I anticipate both their ansvvers. Sir, I, too, am a
British Officer.

54. Not to be precipitate, however, I waited for the
Officers of the Government to come forward, and put the
Government in possession of facts and details, which were
flying from mouth to mouth. I anxiously waited for nearly
two months, after the British authority was re-established
in Canara, in the hope of seeing some public notice, other
than lavish, indiscriminate praises in the Gazette, which
should satisfy the people of the two Provinces, that the
Government was not wholly uninformed of the real nature
of the events which had occurred, and of the danger to

* It has been established by the clearest evidence, at the last (July
1837) Criminal Sessions for South Malabar, held at Calicut, on a trial for
burglary; in which a house was entered and robbed of all it contained,
as deliberately and undisguisedly as in open day; that the crime was
committed, as confessed by the perpetrators, for the reason that "now
was the time (the time of the aluini)to get ricli, by robbing all those who
were so ! "


which their persons and property had been causelessly

55. I expected, in common with all other men, that,
without particularizing those events perhaps, or naming
individuals, the Government would so far sympathise in
the losses and sufferings which its peaceable, unoffending,
subjects had endured, from no fault nor misconduct of
their own, as to publish a strong, earnest, and energetic
remonstrance, appealing to the honour, the patriotism, the
sense of duty, of its (European) servants ; recalling to them
the vast trust reposed in their hands; reminding them that,
when all other exclusive privileges and monopolies were
proscribed and rooted out, the great and magnanimous con-
fidence of their country had virtually continued to them,
the exclusive privilege of governing and ruling over one
hundred millions of their fellow men ; had still continued
to them the glorious monopoly of doing, in their public and
private capacity, to these millions, that boundless sum of
moral, intellectual, and physical good, which the fervent
wishes of the British people, embodied in one aspiration,
desired should mark and distinguish the future connection
of Great Britain with India; that the public servants are
the sole depositaries of all power, of all influence, and of
all authority, the sole mirrors which reflect upon those
beneath them, the honour, the dignity, and the authority
of the British Government ; that they are also the sole
reporters of their own acts and of their own conduct ; and,
lience, that not a thought, it was to be hoped, could find
entrance into their breasts, which could lessen that honour,
lower that dignity, or impair that authority.

56. It is superfluous to say, that I waited in vain for
any such appeal ; nay, the public (and private) dispatches
to Mangalore were reported to be only the more and more
encomiastic, the powers they conveyed only more and more
unlimited, the identification of the Government, with every
act and proceeding held there, only the more entire and


57. I, therefore, at length, deemed it my duty to address
the Government, with the design of strongly awakening
its attention to the character it was filling in the eyes of
the people of Canara and of Malabar ; a character, which
seemed to me incompatible with the diffusion and continu-
ance of quiet and contentment in these Provinces. I wrote
warmly, for I felt warmly ; I feel so now, and shall so
feel, as long as feeling I have. But I wrote as generally
as my design permitted ; with two or three exceptions, I
am a stranger by name to every Officer, Civil or Military,
in Canara.

58. My letters, despatched under the safeguard of official
confidence, had hardly reached Madras, when copies of
them were transmitted, with profound mystery and secrecy,
to Mangalore, coupled, as it appears, with an intimation, of
a Commission of enquiry being probably held, in conse-
quence, at some future time.

59. If the circumstances I detailed were unknown to the
Government, yet should nevertheless prove true, candid and
impartial men, solicitous alone for the truth, will, I think,
admit, that no course was more imperative, both for the
honor of the Empire and the satisfaction of India, not only
that no step should be taken, which might be construed
into a design to render inquiry illusory and abortive, by
making the discovery of the truth impracticable ; but that
no step should be indirectly permitted, which might be
open even inferentially to the same construction.

60. If my letter was sent to Mangalore with the know-
ledge of His Lordship in Council, with this decisive proof
before my eyes, that, from the hour of its receipt. His
Lordship in Council, the final Judge and the nominator of
the Commission, was determined to throw the whole weight
of his station, of his authority, and of his opinion into the
opposite scale ; it would be the height of presumption and
indecency in a private, unsupported, solitary, friendless,
individual like myself (even if every public man regarded


not himself as bound to follow the example set) to array
himself against His Lordship in Council.

61. If my letter was privately transmitted to Mangalore,
by Officers high in the confidence of His Lordship in Coun-
cil, the result, in defeating and compromising the ends of
enquiry, is the same. In this event. His Lordship in Coun-
cil can alone vindicate his authority; it is the weight of
His Lordship in Council, which can alone now pursue, with
any hope of success, an enquiry into events and occur-
rences of more than six months' date, involving the conduct
of high Public Officers exercising supreme authority, and
removed 500 miles away from the seat of Government.

62. If it were possible that I could be guilty of such
gratuitous cruelty, not to say mockery, the humanity of
His Lordship in Council would never suffer me to produce,
as witnesses before the Commissioners, the Natives of
Mangalore who have unreservedly communicated to me,
what they saw and what they heard. His Lordship in
Council would not suffer any Natives to be placed in a
situation, where they would be compelled to choose between
their fears and the truth on the one hand, and, on the other,
the inculpation of their European rulers, irresistible from
rank, from office, from power, from emolument, from con-
nections ; actively busied up to, and during, the very hour
of enquiry, in pursuing, seizing, and committing for trial
capitally, all persons suspected or accused of participation,
overt or covert, in the late disturbances,* and fully prepared

* I was informed by a Native of Mangalore, tliat he saw the town-
crier go about the town, about a month ago (October, 1837), witli a
paper in his (the crier's) hands, from which he read aloud, that all per-
sons were forbidden to speak of the late disturbances, under pain, if
heard, of being taken up and committed to Jail. I asked the reason of
this Proclamation. "To frighten and silence the people," replied the
man. "As to committing prisoners," said he, " if there was another
Jail at Mangalore, as large as the present one, that too would be filled
with them." Observing my great surprise and incredulity relative to
the Proclamation, he produced a Talook Gomastah to corroborate what


to meet enquiry by public, recorded, approbation. If they
were spared now, these witnesses would believe that it
would only be to be marked and hunted down hereafter.*

he said. Of the "rebel" prisoners, the Special Judicial Commission
had, by the middle of September, tried 200, who were not half the num-
ber of those whose trials were then determined upon ; and as the Com-
mission did not leave Mangalore before the beginning of February, not
less than about 500 persons, in addition to those executed by Martial
Law, must have been arraigned and tried upon the Madras Statute of
Treasons, in consequence of this unhappy outbreak. There remains to
know how many more died in Jail, a Jail proverbially deadly and fatal
to the Natives confined in it.

* Not content with preserving a silence of months, the mark of appro-
bation which, in the eyes of the Natives, would be considered as the
strongest the Government could pass on the occasion, not satisfied with
this course which, in their minds, would be open only to one construc-
tion, the Government went beyond it. The Government (it is to be
placed in a most painful situation to have to state facts which stagger all
belief) even went beyond the law ! The Government vested the Magis-
trate of Canara, individually, with the power of pardoning any persons
whose evidence he might require, to convict the prisoners he himself
seized and sent up for trial, and coupled the investiture with the obser-
vation, that the Government put "the most implicit trust in his exer-
cising the power with the soundest discretion." By law, (Regulation 8,
of 1802, Section 20,) the power of pardoning accessaries is vested solely
in the Governor in Council, upon the recommendation of the Fonjdarry
Udalut, and that for the crimes specified, viz. " murder, gang-robbery,
arson, and the like." The Regulation, of course, contains no clause, no
provision, by which he can divest himself of this power, and depose it at
will into other hands. Further, in rebellion, the imputed crime, all
being [principals, none can be made accessaries or approvers.

What a spectacle, from first to last, was presented to die Natives ! In
the case of the prisoners condemned by Martial Law, they saw those
])risoners led to death, without the Government deigning to satisfy itself
of their guilt: in the case of the other prisoners, they saw the Govern-
ment set aside the law, strip itself of the prerogative of pardon, and vest
that prerogative, unlimitedly, in the Magistrate, in order to secure con-
victions ; and this at a time, when it was formally announced to lite
Public, that the Government were sending Commissioners to Mangalore
" to investigate the affairs of Canara, &c. !"

The Government and the people of England expect the willing obe-

J 57

63. I admit that the design has been well laid, that
ample time has been given to marshal tlie incidents, and
prepare the conclusion : —

" Et quED sibi quisqiie timebat,
Unius in miseri exitium conversa tulere."

But I must be forgiven, even when the intended moral
is the warning of the Native Spectators by my exam-
ple, if I decline to fill the blended part of dupe and victim,
in which it is designed that I should singly act and

64. At this present time, nearly seven months after the
events, in this, the eleventh hour, with all the statements
in the official letter of the Judge of Mangalore, uncontra-
dicted as regards the public, with every functionary, whose
conduct that letter professes to relate, maintained in autho-
rity at Mangalore, and exalted by power and praise, the

dience of the Natives of India. They are prepared to exact that obedi-
ence, upon the requisition of the local Government, with all the phy-
sical force of the Empire. If the settled design had been to goad on
the Natives of Canara into rebellion, to imbue every man in the Pro-
vince with an indelible spirit of hatred and abhorrence of the British
Government, to keep their minds kindling with a fever of indignation,
let me put it to any upright, impartial, man to pronounce, whether a
more likely or more effectual course of measures than this could be
taken? And when it is known, that the Natives have humbly and
patiently borne and submitted to all, that not a tumult has occurred, not
an order been questioned nor disobeyed, nor any of the functionaries
continued over them treated with anything but respect; is it, I ask, in
the power of human beings to give more convincing proofs of their
peaceful, orderly, quiet dispositions? Is it in the power of men to give
a more unanswerable denial to the charge of disaffection, sought to be Jived
upon them, in order to colour this treatment ? Or is it possible for men
to show more forcibly, how truly they deserve that a strict, an impartial,
and a public inquiry be made, without respect to persons or authorities,
into the transactions of Canara, and into every circumstance connected
with them, in order that the British Government may truly know, who
have been the breakers of the law, who the fomenters of sedition ; what
all the miseries, and indignities, and sufferings, heaped upon this people ?


question is not, what I can substantiate, nor, let nie say
with all respect, can it be made the question.

Go. All that a loyal subject and private man could do in
his position, to preserve and maintain inviolate the honour
and authority of the British Government, during a season
of public ferment, I did. * But the supreme Guardians

* Voucher B.

Principal Collector's Office, on Circuit,
Kiikanchcrr^, \9tli Oct. 1837.

TO F. C. BROWN, Esq.

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of
the 16th inst., requesting me to state my opinion, as to how you dis-
charged your duty to Government, as a British subject, and as to the
example you, as an individual, set the inhabitants at the time of the
unfortunate outbreak in Canara in April last.

2. In reply, I have no hesitation in saying, that the calm firmness
displayed by you during this period, was attended by the best results,
and restored confidence to the people around you, who had been consider-
ably alarmed by the ill-timed and unnecessary fears of others; and that
the example you set generally was the talk and admiration of the Natives.
I may also add, that I learnt from one of the European gentlemen at
Tellicherry, whom I saw shortly after, that your determination and ex-
ample had been highly useful, and under the circumstance then brought
to my knowledge for the first time, very valuable.

3. Nothing called, at that time, for an official report from me to
Government, as Malabar was happily quite free from any participation
in the disturbances of Canara; otherwise, I should certainly have stated
freely my opinion, as regarded the share you had in allaying the excited

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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 14 of 19)