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

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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 15 of 19)
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feelings of those around you. As some accounts, however, would be
looked for from me, they were submitted in a demi-official form ; and
I had occasion in these letters, to notice the information that I had, at
different times, received from you ; 1 stated also generally, that your
conduct, throughout the trying time, " had been admirable."

I have the honour to be. Sir,

&c. &c. &c.
Principal Collector and Magistrate.


of that honour and authority arc the Governor in Council
of Madras. The noble trust is not vicarious ; it is inde-
feasible. That honour and tiiat authority, it is declared
by all men, received a fatal shock, the national name a deep
stain, by the attempted abandonment of Mangalore by
every Officer, Civil and Military, on the morning of the
4th of April, twenty-four (36) hours before an insurgent
appeared ; this abandonment, all but unanimously sub-
scribed in writing, has been officially known to, and has re-
mained unquestioned by, the Government for nearly seven
months. This is now the cause ; two Provinces of the
Empire are the Witnesses, the People of England must
hereafter be the Judges. No private man can be suffered
to interfere, and distract the attention from the public,
privileged, actors to himself.

66. Sir, it is a general rule in the United Services of the
Empire, an inexorable rule in one, which not the Lord
High Admiral nor the youngest Midshipman can evade;
that, in every instance of the loss, or the abandonment of a
vessel committed to the charge of an Officer; even should
the abyss have entombed her and left but a foremast^to
tell the tale; the survivor should immediately appear before
a competent Court, and there purge the memory of his Com-
mander, his Officers, and his Messmates from having
failed, even in death, in aught demanded by the trust their
country reposed in them. Scarcely a twelvemonth passes
that this rule, which Honour and Patriotism have imposed
upon Justice, brings not to light, even in times of peace,
some heroic instance of constancy, firmness, and greatness
of mind displayed under appalling perils ; of a Commander,
the impersonation of calmness, fortitude, and resolution,
exhibiting in these moments, an attention to, a recollection
of, every person around but himself; a fertility of resource,
increasing with every emergence ; and so infusing his own
indomitable mind into the breasts of all under him, that
the whole ship becomes instinct with one spirit of order


and resolution, vvhicli seems to say to the elements, " Roar
on! ye cannot shake the hearts of Englishmen ! " Great
and glorious as are the triumphs of the British name, who
is there that reads of one of these victories, achieved over
danger and death by the exercise of these god-like quali-
ties, without feeling his own nature inexpressibly exalted at
the recital ? Yet the hero of it, he, before whom men invo-
luntarily feel disposed to bow as a superior being, is com-
pelled to appear before his country, stripped of the sword
his hands are so worthy to grasp. Sir ! it was no vessel
of the Empire, it was a part of the Empire itself, it was a
Million and more of men, that were trusted to the function-
aries of Canara, to defend from the moral tempests of
anarchy and civil war, as long as a foot of ground remained
to tread on.

67. And what recollections are there not associated with
the theatre of this reported conduct ! Mangalore, the
grave of hundreds of a garrison of a few thousand (3546),
Europeans and Sepoys, who, the historian relates, under
their heroic leader Major Campbell, successfully resisted for
nine consecutive months the whole army of the Sultan of
Mysore, "amounting to 60,000 liorse, 30,000 disciplined
Sepoys, 600 French Infantry under Col. Cossigny, Lally's
corps of Europeans and Natives, a French troop of dis-
mounted cavalry commanded by an Officer of the King of
France, irregular troops to the amount of many thousands,
and nearly one hundred pieces of artillery." They resisted,
until two-thirds of " the garrison were sick, and the rest
had scarcely strength to sustain their arms," in which state
"they marched to Tellicherry, with their arms, accoutre-
ments, and all the honours of war."

68. The present occasion is one, therefore, when all men
must feel, that private regards and considerations must
merge in a regard for the public weal and the national
name. All men will echo the sentiments of a great writer :
" A man who loves only himself, without regard to friendship


or desert, merits the severest blame ; and a man who is only
susceptible of friendship, without public spirit, or a regard
for the community, is deficient in the most material parts
of virtue."

69. I presume it will be a matter of positive instruction
to the Commissioners, to reject all inferior evidence when
the best possible can be obtained. I have already stated
that I repaired, on the first rumour of disturbances in
Coorg, to the part of the country where my influence could
be best exerted in preserving order, and inspiring confidence.
It was impossible, therefore, that I could be at Mangalore,
or at other places, to speak personally to events or occur-
rences, which happened at them : and fortunate is it, for
the ends of truth, that this is the case, for the persons who
can speak, are above exception ; they are all, " within the
pale," are all officers, Civil or Military, in the Service,
wiiose testimony will relate to events, which they either
witnessed and took part in, or that they heard of from the

70. The letter of the Judge of Mangalore, the minutes
of the Civil and Military trials held there, and the spon-
taneous confessions of the prisoners, are public, authentic,
indisputable records, to inform the Commissioners, and
direct their inquiries. I know not whether the venue of the
latter, as of the trials, be unalterably laid at Mangalore.
If it be not, and His Lordship in Council desires to abridge
and facilitate the labours of the Commissioners, he will
instruct these Gentlemen to begin them at Cannanore. It
was there that the Eamont landed all the persons she re-
ceived on board at Mangalore ; it was there that they gave
a narrative, fresh and vivid, of what had occurred, of what
was done, and had been intended to be done, up to the
hour of their leaving the place.

71. The Honourable Mr, Sullivan can tell the Commis-
sioners, I crave his forgiveness if I am in error, whether he
has not read an extract of a letter from a gallant young



Officer, a witness of undisputed authority, comparing the
attacks on Mangalore to boys capturing bees' nests. The
Chaplain of Cannanore will relate what he heard from the
German Missionaries of Mangalore, who fled and took
refuge with him; and I appeal to the honour of every
British resident at Tellicherry to declare, whether the
events of Mangalore, as related by the Native letter-
writer, and by other unexceptionable witnesses, were not
the universal, nay, the sole topics of conversation, at the
period I returned among them ; whether the order given to
the Peons of IVlangalore, when they again started into life,
was not written from thence. They will likewise say,
whether some ladies were sent to Cannanore, by sea, on
the plea that the land road (13 miles) was unsafe, and
whether a remonstrance was suggested to be addressed
to the Officer Commanding the Provinces, upon the danger
and imprudence of further lessening the number of troops
at Cannanore.

72, The arms, means, and equipments of the Insurgents,
will be best estimated from all the captured munitions of
War, which are doubtless at hand, and ready to be pro-
duced; their designs and numbers, from their own confes-
sions, from the wealth and intelligence of their wealthiest
leaders, and from the population of their districts. The
casualties of Colonel Green's detachment, 1,000 strong,
exposed for a whole day to their fire, will show their skill
as marksmen.* As to the means of resistance at Man-
galore, a military eye will, 1 think, have little difficulty in
fixing on a part of the ancient defences, which may be
deemed inexpugnable; and the same eye will descry a
Pagoda at Pootoor, stored at the time (in April) with
grain, supplied with water, and capable of being held
against all ordinary assailants. But there is another
position which, it is to be hoped, the Commissioners will

* The casualties on the occasion were, I believe, a Drummer and *
Bheestie wounded.


visit in person ; the position chosen for the erection of a
Gibbet, which was in progress of being raised at Man-
galore, while the Court Martial was sitting, and trying
the Prisoners. *

73. The Principal Collector of Malabar can describe
the state in which he found Tellicherry, when he passed
through to Cannanore; and the assistance he derived in
discharging the very arduous and responsible duties it fell
to his share to perform, for some time, unaided by any
officer under him.

74. The two special Judicial Commissioners, deputed to
Mangalore, can bear witness to the manner of their re-
ception, and to the disposition manifested by the whole
population, Hindoo and Mapilla, of North Malabar on
their progress through the country; to the dangers they
ran in South Canara, after the Magistrate of Canara had
reported, that he could not answer for the safety of their
persons on the journey to Mangalore, and advised their
coming by sea.

* The Officer who, it is stated, stopped the erection of this Gibbet,
was Captain W. P. Macdonald, of the 41st N. I., the Judge Advocate
who conducted the Trials. Immediately the circumstance came to his
knowledge, with the spirit, the feeling, and humanity worthy of a Madras
Officer, he refused to continue the proceedings, until the structure was
removed. This Officer was afterwards first named as Secretary to the
Canara Commissioners, in echo of his own merit and qualifications, and
of the public voice. He had filled the same office in Kimedy, and had
been thanked in General Orders for his services. lie had conducted
the Military Trials at Mangalore, where he had resided for some time,
in prosecution of the inquiries into the delinquency of the prisoners,
necessary to the discharge of this duty, and had become officially ap-
prised of, and familiar with, the leading events which had there occurred.
A fitter Secretary could not be named, and the current phrase was, " the
truth will now come out." But " there, was a screiv loose somewliei-e,"
as he wrote from Madras; where, and wherefore, may be best known at
Madras and Mangalore, and Captain Macdonald was not appointed.
I am a stranger to this Officer, and only speak of him as I have heard
him spoken of.

N 2


75. Witli regard to the sentiments of the people of
Tellicherry,who have been so cruelly and unjustly maligned,
there is one proof of their innocence, even in thought, so
easy and complete, that 1 trust His Lordship in Council
will instruct the Commissioners to reduce it to the test.
The proof is, to direct a search for arms and ammunition
to be made throughout the town. After the search, I will
willingly give a Rupee to every male adult of the popula-
tion, who shall !^hovv in public, that he knows how to prime
and load a piece with ball, and will put a ball through a
common target at forty yards.

76. I have now established to the conviction, I believe,
of all impartial minds ; first, that there are reasons unan-
swerable, which preclude ray obeying the commands of His
Lordship in Council, to attend upon the Commissioners,
unfeigned as is my respect for these gentlemen, unless my
design was to frustrate the objects of inquiry, by under-
taking a duty, which pre-eminently pertains to the Govern-
ment, and by it alone can now be adequately discharged :
secondly, that if these reasons did not exist, it would be
presumptuous in a private man, when so many public
actors and witnesses are present and at hand, further to
step out of the sphere imposed upon him, that of a sorrow-
ful spectator and compulsory listener, whose offence it
prima facie is, that he gave expression to the feelings which
all men around him entertained and privately uttered.

77. There are, moreover, other considerations of not less
weight than the foregoing, which prescribe to me unalter-
ably the same conduct.

78. It was observed to me, in April last, by one of the
most influential Natives in the country, when conversing
upon the events which had transpired: "The Civit Gentle-
men (he used the very words) can sail away in ships, with
their wives and children, on the breaking out of any dis-
turbances, and find a full Treasury of Rupees wherever
they go: but what are you or I to do? how, or where, are


we and the Koodians, (the people of the country) to take
away our lands and families, and what belongs to us? "

79. This pertinent question was not only put to me,
but the Government may rest assured, that it has been
put and discussed, at fiill length, by the large and intel-
ligent circle of this Native's acquaintance; and that sub-
sequent events have led them to the following answer:
" Either the Government knows not of these things, or it
does know, and is determined tu ignore them."

80. Had my lips, with baseness unheard, been sealed in
the same seeming silence as theirs, had I, as they, con-
tinued to wait, " with bated breath and whispering hum-
bleness," for what might next be vouchsafed to be done ; yet
the powerful workings of their minds upon what they saw,
and upon what they might suffer, upon such soul-absorbing
topics, as their individual safety, the safety of their wives
and children, and the security of their property, as involved
by the conduct of their European rulers, these workings
would nevertheless have proceeded full surely, contemned
and unheeded as they have been, and may be.

81. Circumstanced thus, We are driven to reflect upon
the primal cause, the origin and fount of all these mis-
chiefs; upon what must be the course of conduct, the
course of uniform mental discipline, which men must be-
come habituated to, when it is seen that, in the momentous
position of the British Empire in India, public men of high
official rank, mature age, and reputed experience, could
bring themselves to harbour, and to act upon, such a reso-
lution as the total abandonment and immediate loss of a
large Province, specially committed to their charge.

82. Calm, dispassionate, and impartial men who, at a
distance from the scene, at a distance from India, will con-
sider this resolution, apart even from the occasion, and
examine it in connection with the preceding narrative, will
find it hardly possible to avoid arriving at the following
conviction ; that the whole system of internal Government


must permit, and sanction, so entire and unrestrained a
latitude of conduct in public men, must be so devoid of
anything like an approach to effective check, or to real
responsibility, is so freed from every restraint of public
opinion, and must teach so thorough a contempt for the
feelings and sentiments of the Natives beneath them ;* that
there is no act whatever, not even the desertion of one
Province, and the consequent convulsion of another, which
they may not hazard, with the certainty of reaping imme-
diate fame and reward upon their own reports, and with
the assurance that, if enquiry does follow, it will follow
only at the distance of many months, that they will be
amply forewarned and forearmed, be maintained in power
and authority, and be prepared and encouraged to meet
enquiry with public, recorded, approbation.

83. Such a system not merely excludes every hope in a
private man, it leaves room only for despair. Against the
Assagai', the Tomahawk, the War-club, the Scalping-knife,
or the Bush-arrow of the Savage, an Englishman dwelling
in the Colonies of the Empire, may hope to guard by
every prudent precaution, and by a blameless life, spent in
the discharge of every kind and good office towards those
around him. But against the passions, against the tumults,
against the plunder, against the anarchy, produced by the
flight of every authority, the end of all Government, and
the surrender of all public trust, no individual prudence,
no firmness, no virtue, can defend him. Had there been
British Settlers and Capitalists scattered through Canara,
it is they, who would have sealed tliis system with their
heart's blood ; it is their lives, their families, their proper-
ties, which, no man can doubt, would have fallen the in-
stant sacrifices to the infuriated Natives, stung to madness
at the desertion of the European Officers salaried and ap-
pointed to protect them, a desertion which the hapless vic-
tims could neither anticipate nor prevent.

* See Note at the end.


84. The secret has thus been discovered, without vio-
lating the letter, of fatally and effectually blighting the
spirit, of an Act of the Legislature, the grand, humane,
enlightened, and politic provision of which, the provision
which bade India hope, and Great Britain and the world
rejoice, secured for the Act the title of " The Charter of
India." Whatever may be the design of the law, or the
promptings of the heart, the secret has been discovered, of
warning every European British subject of character,
respectability, and property, to fly far from this portion of
India. No man who reads what I saw in Malabar, or
reflects upon what occurred, and is related to have oc-
curred, in Canara, can have a heart so devoid of the feel-
ings of humanity, as to bring himself to desire, that his
greatest enemy should venture his property, and risk the
lives of his wife and children in a country, where the one
and the other would be exposed, sooner or later, to the
hazard of destruction.

85. Precluded in my own case from longer dwelling here
in honour and security, I have been driven to seek to sever
a family connection with these Provinces of nearly seventy
years' duration. I have been driven to offer for sale the
whole of my property on this Coast, this estate included,
the fruit of forty years' toil and dear-bought experience,
and a great amount of capital ; where a population has
been born strangers to another landlord ; where, following
the example bequeathed to me, the little good I have done,
and the hope of being suffered to do more, have been the
solace and the reward of days and years consumed in soli-
tude and obscurity, away from all the enjoyments which
most men deem life wortli living for. Some minds may,
perhaps, sympathise in the struggle which such a resolu-
tion cost.

86. But not a purchaser offered. In such a mart as
Bombay, my property, this estate purchased from the
Honourable Company, is not now marketable. What would


loan-holders in the Service not say, what measures would
the Government not have instantly resorted to towards me,
or towards British subjects like me, if it were possible, that
I or they could be instrumental in rendering the Govern-
ment Promissory Notes perfectly unsaleable ?

87. Foiled in the desire to sell, there only remains to
me to quit the country, and return to England. To that
determination 1 long since came, and intended, if possible,
to embark in the September Steamer. But my produce
will not be shipped before the middle, or the end of Novem-
ber. I accompany, or follow it : happy, were it possible to
forget elsewhere events and occurrences, which, when I
reflect upon the sinister effect they have already had, and
upon the effects which I firmly believe they will hereafter
have, upon the honour, the character, the dignity, the
strenoth, and the stability of the British Government, in
the eyes of the people of this portion of India, I would
freely give my life to have averted, and to avert.

88. There is a remaining duty forced upon me, from the
performance of which, however painful, however fraught,
as the warning voice of the past repeats to me, with the
consummation of my own ruin, I am forbidden to shrink.
To preserve silence, on the subjects of this letter, would be
treason to the people of England. With the people of
England it must rest, seriously to reflect upon the conse-
quences involved in them ; and to weigh, with deep and
patient attention, what the moral, intrinsic, value of this,
their greatest, inheritance purchased with the best blood of
their country, is likely to be, when, their long minority
ended, they shall be suffered to take possession, and be
permitted to see, to survey, and to examine its real condi-
tion and past Government, by the light of their own un-
hoodwinked, unobstructed senses, and of their impartial,
enlightened, and unprejudiced understandings.

89. I have only one request to make to his Lordship in
Council. Ample time has been given to store up and


accumulate against me the odium of public men. To ex-
asperate it among all, it has been stated that I have written
many letters to Bengal, on the same subject. I have never
written one ; but as the present letter may possibly convey
some information to the Right Honourable the Governor
General of India, my request is, that his Lordship in Coun-
cil will have the goodness to send a copy of it to his Lord-
ship the Governor General.

I have the honor to be,


Your most obedient humble Servant,




" Were there a species of creatures intermingled with men which^
though rational, were possessed of such inferior strength, both of body
and mind, that they were incapable of all resistance, and could never,
upon the highest provocation, make us feel the effects of their resent-
ment; the necessary consequence, I think, is, that we should be bound,
by the laws of humanity, to give gentle usage to these creatures, but
should not, properly speaking, lie under any restraint of justice with
regard to them, nor could they possess any right or property^ exclusive
of such arbitrary lords. Our intercourse with them could not be called
society, which supposes a degree of equality, but absolute command on
the one side, and servile obedience on the other. Whatsoever we covet,
they must instantly resign. Our permission is the only tenure by which
they^ hold their possessions : our compassion and kindness, the only
check by which we curb our lawless will : and as no inconvenience ever
results {to us) from the exercise of a power so firmly established in
nature, the restraints of justice and property being totally useless, would
never have place in so unequal a confederacy. This is plainly" (says
the ethical writer on Justice, who thought the condition he described
could never be that of any human beings) " the situation of man with
regard to animals."

I shall be accused of exaggeration ; in the face of the testimony of a
life, given to endeavouring to strengthen the Government, and to recon-
cile the Natives to it, by daily exhortation and example, whoever might
be the local depositaries of its authority, I shall be denounced for pre-
judice and distortion. Let, then, those who seek for materials to inform
and guide their opinions, who desire to have facts, as the fouiydation
whereon to base their judgments, consider dispassionately the following
narrative, and pronounce upon the amount of security of person, upon
the degree of individual liberty, and upon the extent of the rights to
property, possessed by, and permitted to, a people under a system of in-
ternal Government and law, to which the detail will furnish an index.

In the middle of last July, I was told that an opulent and respectable
Native land-owner and merchant, living at the distance of some miles
from me, had called and wished particularly to speak to me. I went to
him, and, to my surprise, found him in the custody of a Delayet (a
hi¬Ђher kind of silver-budged official, of whom a number are attached to


the persons and suite of European Collectors and Magistrates) and of
two inferior Peons. He told me, that these persons had come to his
house at Eerikoor, produced to him a paper from the Joint Magistrate,
with a seal upon it, and directed him to sign it; that after he had signed
and returned the paper, the Delayet said he had orders to search every
part of his, Paree's house (Mehnee Paree is the Native's name) for the
other gun he had found in his well, and which the Magistrate heard he
had secreted ; whereupon the Delayet and Peons entered his house,
turned into the street all that it contained, the Grain, the Pepper, and
every other thing, and probed and sounded it in every part : they next

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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 15 of 19)