Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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The Nawab was thus, though degraded in character,
strengthened in position. The previous (authorized)
interference had told rather against the Oude Court ; it
was now in its favour. The powerful were now sup-
ported against the weak. This system went on for
years, and under several Residents. It was brought
prominently to notice when Colonel Baillie was in
office. A long, vexatious, and fruitless correspondence
took place between the Nawab and the Grovernment.
Colonel Baillie was anxious to promote improvements,
the Nawab liked neither the matter nor the manner
of the suggestions offered. He cared for his cash, and
for nothing else. IsTo person however can read his
replies to Colonel Baillie's demands without being
satisfied that, under kindlier treatment at the outset,
much might have been done with such a prince. We
are specially struck at his being in advance of the
Bengal Grovernment of the day on Revenue arrange-
ments. Colonel Baillie proposed that ameens should
be sent into the districts to collect statistical informa-
tion, that they should visit every village, and procure
the revenue papers of former years. — "Those papers,
after the minutest investigation which may be practi-
cable, to be transmitted, under the signature of the
revenue officers, to the presence, when your Excellency
and I shall consider them, and be enabled to form an
accurate judgment of the real resources and assets of


every district in your dominions."* The Nawab replied,
" I shall issue my orders to the ameens, agreeably
to what you have suggested; but I recommend that
this measure be carried into effect by actual measure-
ment of the cultivated and waste lands, and of lands
capable of being cultivated; in which case the exact
measurement of the lands, as well as the amount of
the jumnia, will be ascertained, and the boundaries of
villages will also be fixed, so as to preclude future
claims or disputes among the Zemindars on questions
of unsettled boundary."* The following reply to
another suggestion shows how much better the Nawab
understood his people, and how much better he was
able to manage Oude than was the Resident : —

" You suggest, that such ameens as perform their duties properly shall
hereafter be appointed tehsildars ; but in this case, if the ameens be pre-
viously informed, that after ascertaining the jumma of their elakas (dis-
tricts), and transmitting the revenue papers for ten years with the Wasil-
bunkce accounts of the revenue, they will be appointed to the office of
tehsildar, it is probable that, for their own future advantage, they will
knowingly lower the jumma, and state less than the real amount. I thei'c-
fore think it would be more advisable to separate the two offices entirely ;
or, at all events, that no ameen should be appointed tehsildar in the Zillah
in which he may have acted as ameen. In this latter mode, the ameens
Avho are found to be deserving may still be rewarded, and the opportunity
for fraud may be prevented." *

The readers who have accompanied us through this
hasty sketch of Saadut All's career, will perhaps concur
in the opinion we gave at the commencement of this
article, that his malgovernment was mainly attributable
to English interference, to the resentment he felt for
his own wrongs, and the bitterness of soul with which
he must have received all advice from his oppressors, no
less than to the impunity with which they enabled him
to play the tyrant.

Lord Minto at length checked the Eesident's inter-
ference against the people ; he did not thoroughly

* Minutes of Evidence. Appendix No. 26, page 383.


understand the nature and extent of that at Court, and
therefore disturbed not Colonel Baillie's domestic as-
cendancy. The Marquis of Hastings looked more into
the matter and prohibited it entirely.

Saadut Ali died in July, 1816, and was succeeded by
his eldest son Rufsat-ood-dowlah, under the designation
of Ghazee-ood-deen Hyder. His accession delighted
Colonel Baillie, and scarcely pleased the Calcutta
Grovernment less. The new Nawab, of course, agreed
to every proposition of the Resident, whom he
addressed as '' My Uncle," and who reported that his
advice was not only acceptable to Ghazee-ood-deen, but
was urgently requested by him. The very spirit of
credulity seems, at this period, to have possessed our
countrymen. Not only does Colonel Baillie appear to
have swallowed the sugared words of the Nawab, but
the authorities in Calcutta adopted his views ; and,
taking advantage of what was deemed the amiable
spirit of the grateful Nawab, authorized the several
measures of reform, which, to say the least, Colonel
Baillie was little competent to carry through.

A new light however soon broke in on the Governor-
General, and he ascertained that Ghazee-ood-deen loved
reform as little as his father had done. It was dis-
covered that both Nawab and Eesident had been
puppets in the hands of the Residency Moonshee, who,
by threatening Ghazee-ood-deen with the fate of Vizier
Ali, contrived to bend him to what were called British
views, while he found his account in allowing the
Resident to fancy himself the friend and counsellor of
the Naw^ab. The discovery of these intrigues induced
a peremptory order from the Governor-General for-
bidding all interference, and the affair ended in the
removal of Colonel Baillie, who, however, had in the
interim negotiated a loan of two crores of rupees. The


friends of Lord Hastings liave asserted that these loans
were vohmtary, but Colonel Baillie has shown the
transaction in a very different light. The money was
extorted from the Nawab by the importunity of the
Eesident, who acted on repeated and urgent instructions
from the Grovernor-General. During the Burmese war,
and under another administration, a third crore was
borrowed, we know not exactly by what process, but, as
the greater part of the interest was settled on the
minister of the day, Motumed-ood-dowlah (more
generally known in India as Aga Meer), and his life,
honour, and property were guaranteed, it may be in-
ferred that he managed the matter.

Loans of this sort are generally discreditable to the
borrowers ; in Oude they have been dou.bly prejudicial.
Most of them have been compulsory, and they have been
the means of perpetuating, and immeasurably extending
the guarantee system. The interest of each loan,
whether from Nawab, King, or Begum, has been settled
on the connections and servants of the several parties
lending the money, with provision in each case that the
pensioner was to be protected by the British Grovern-
ment. Thus, for the sake of temporary pecuniary
relief, have we established and fostered a system which
must vitiate any Government, and is doubly destructive
to a Native State. At Lucknow, for years, the Besi-
dents held public durbars, where the guaranteed at-
tended, and pleaded against their own Sovereign or his
servants. Thus were the Monarch and his subjects
arrayed against each other : thus was the Sovereign
degraded in his own capital.

This abuse has been checked ; but a still greater evil
exists to the present day. The guaranteed are hun-
dreds : the ^privileged are thousands. Every British
sepoy from the Oude dominions can, through his com-


manding officer, refer a fiscal or judicial case to the
Eesident. This at first sight appears a valuable pri-
vilege to our Native soldiery, of whom, (as already
stated,) the greater proportion are raised in Oude ; but
the plan works badly. Zemindars throughout the
country will buy, beg, borrow, or steal the name of a
British sepoy, in the hope of thus gaining attention to
their petty claims. The consequence is, that the just
appeals of real sepoys are frequently neglected, while a
false claim is now and then forwarded. We are,
indeed, of opinion that, much as the Oude Government
is molested and degraded by sepoys' claims, true and
false, the men themselves are rarely benefited by the
Eesident' s interference. Litigation is promoted, hopes
are excited, and eventually the party who would, if left
to his own resources and the practices of the country,
have arranged or compromised his quarrel, is led on to
his ruin. But we have been drawn from the thread of
our narrative.

In the year 1819, the Nawab Grhazee-ood-deen
Hyder was encouraged to assume the title of King.
Lord Hastings calculated on thus exciting a rivalry
between the Oude and Delhi families ; the Nawabs
having hitherto paid the descendants of the Mogul all
outward homage, and affecting still to consider them-
selves only as lieutenants of the Emperor. This ar-
rangement was somewhat akin to some of the masque-
rades with which the Company commenced their career.
While ruling Bengal and the Carnatic they were
entitled Dewans ; and now, while lording it over Oude,
the puppet Nawab must, forsooth, be encouraged to
assume a royal title, in order to act as a counterpoise to
tlie Great Mogul!

Death will not, however, spare a King any more than
a Nawab vizier. Ghazee-ood-deen died, and was sue-


ceeded by his son, Nuseer-ood-deen Hyder, who more
than perpetuated the worst practices of his predecessors.
Engaged in every species of debauchery, and sur-
rounded by wretches, English, Eurasian, and Native, of
the lowest description, his whole reign was one con-
tinued satire upon the subsidiary and protected system.
Tired in a palace, nurtured by Avomen and eunuchs, he
added the natural fruits of a vicious education to those
resulting from his protected position. His Majesty
might one hour be seen in a state of drunken nudity
with his boon companions ; at another he would parade
the streets of Lucknow driving one of his own elephants.
In his time all decency, all propriety, was banished from
the Court. Such was more than once his conduct that
Colonel Low, the Eesident, refused to see him, or to
transact business with his minions.

In 1831 Lord William Bentinck visited Oude. He
had received a frightful report of its misrule from Mr.
Maddock, the Eesident; but questioned the reality of
the picture laid before him. He now traversed the
country and judged for himself; he saw every proof of
misgovernment, and was at length convinced that the
existing system could not, and ought not to, last. He
had one hope for Oude. Momtuzim-ood-dowlah, better
known as Hakeem Mehndy Alee Khan Bahadoor, was
then minister, and his energy and ability might, if
unshackled, save the sinking State. To encourage his
efforts, Lord William studiously manifested his regard
for the minister, and forbade all further interference of
any kind on the part of the Resident, who was pro-
hibited from even advising unless his opinion was asked.
The Governor- General warned the King of the con-
sequences of continued misrule; he gave him and his
minister a fair chance of recovering their common
country; and resolved that, if it failed, the most


stringent measures should be adopted, involving the
entire management of Oude by British officers. His
Lordship writes on 31st July, 1831 — "But I am san-
guine in my hope of a great present amelioration from
my belief in the capacity and willingness of the present
minister to effect it ; and from the entire possession he
has of the confidence of the King." '^ * * Sad proof
how incompetent is the wisest European to read an
Asiatic heart. The Governor- Greneral left Lucknow
fully impressed with the opinions above quoted. Ha-
keem Mehndy /lacl effected much good, /tad reduced the
public expenses, and /lad brought some order into the
management of affairs. The subordinate officials feared
him ; the talookdars and village chiefs respected him.
Under his strong administration the country at length
tasted peace. In August, 1834, however, just three
years after Lord William Bentinck's visit, the minister
found himself, without the slightest warning, deprived
of office, and threatened with dishonour, if not with
death. The charges brought against him were, dis-
respect to the Eoyal relatives, and even to the Queen
Mother. This was all fudge. At Lucknow, as through-
out the East generally, the King is everything; his
nearest relatives are nothing. An affront to the lowest
minion about the Court would more probably have been
resented, than one to a connection of the King. The
pretext, however, was plausible ; the minister was de-
graded, and nothing but the strong arm of the Eesident
saved his wealth, life, and honour. His real crimes
were his ability, energy, and fidelity;* had he been
more subservient and less faithful, he might have

* We are quite aware that the Ha- pacious men that ever breathed,'*

keem has been differently painted, but any acquainted with the pater-

In the Calcutta India Gazette, he was nity of those remarks would at once

depicted, in 1833, as " one of the perceive how little dependence could

most intriguing, avaricious, and ra- be placed on them. — H. M. L


escaped liis exile to Furruckabad, where lie lingered for
some years, constantly affecting preparations for a
pilgrimage to Mecca, but really longing and watching
for a return to power. His wishes were at length
fulfilled, and under a more virtuous ruler he died as
Minister of Oude. But, during the interval. Hakeem
Mehndy's head and hand had become feebler, while the
flood of abuse had swelled. Unable to stem the current,
he died at the helm, in the bold attempt. Often during
his exile, we have heard the old man dilate upon the
evils that ruined Oude, and declare that with fair play
and a fair field he could yet recover the country. We
then considered his day gone by, and little contem-
plated his having another opportunity of treading the
slippery path of politics. The Hakeem's merits must
be judged of by comparison with other ministers ; and
he will appear just, firm, and sagacious. It is therefore
to be lamented that such a man was lost to Oude while
his energies were still vigorous. On the accession of
Mahommed Ali, Hakeem Mehndy was recalled to
power, but his health was then declining, and his life
was near its close.

His nephew and heir Munowur-ood-dowlah Ahmed
Ali, a respectable but unenergetic man, has since been
twice at the head of affairs : he is a better sportsman
than a cabinet minister, and is altogether too honest
and unpractised in court affairs to cope with the Ameen-
ood-dowlahs and Shureef-ood-dowlahs of the day.

Lord William Bentinck, in his report of 11th July,
1831, entering into many details of past circumstances,
and explaining his proposals for the future, added, " I
thought it right to declare to his Majesty beforehand,
that the opinion I should offer to the home authorities
would be, that unless a decided reform in the admini-
stration should take place, there would be no remedy


left except in the direct assumption of the management
of the Oiide territories by the British Government."*
His Lordship with propriety adds, " I consider it un-
manly to look for minor facts in justification of this
measure, but, if I wanted them, the amount of military
force kept up by his Majesty is a direct infraction of
the treaty." The Minute continues in the following
honest and disinterested strain : —

" It may be asked of me — and when you have assumed the management,
how is it to be conducted, and how long retained ? I should answer, that
acting in the character of guardian and trustee, we ought to frame an
administration entirely native ; an administration so composed as to in-
dividuals, and so established upon the best principles, revenue and judicial,
as should best serve for immediate improvement, and as a model for future
imitation ; the only European part of it should be the functionary by
whom it should be superintended, and it should only be retained till a
complete reform might be brought about, and a guai'antce for its con-
tinuance obtained, either in the improved character of the reigning Prince,
or, if incorrigible, in the substitution of his immediate heir, or in default
of such substitute from nonage or incapacity, by the nomination of one of
the family as regent, the whole of the revenue being paid into the Oudc
treasury." *

In reply to his suggestions to the home Grovernment,
,Lord William Bentinck received instructions in the
year 1833, at once to assume charge of Oude, unless, in
the meantime his advice had been followed, and decided
improvement had ensued. Averse to so strong a mea-
sure, and ascertaining that affairs icere slightly amended,
his Lordship postponed the measure, again warning his
Majesty as to the inevitable result of continued misrule.

Nuseer-ood-deen Hyder, however, encouraged by long-
continued impunity, persevered in his mal-practices.
The treasures of his grandfather, Saadut Ali, were now
drained to the last rupee, and every device was invented
to recruit the finances of the State, or rather to supply
the privy purse of the King. A low menial was his
chief confidant; any man who would drink with him
was his friend. In 1837 he became ill, and for some

* Minutes of Evidence. Appendix No. 27, page 404.


weeks was confined to liis palace, but lie was not con-
sidered in danger, when, suddenly at midnight of the
7th July, 1837, the Eesident was informed that his
Majesty was no more.

When describing the Fureed Buksh palace, we
touched upon the occurrences of which it was the
theatre on that eventful night. If space permitted, we
should now gladly detail those brilliant operations. It
was a sudden crisis, an unforeseen emergency, that
tested the stuff of which our officers were made. Not
only Colonel Low himself, but his assistants, Captain
Patton and Captain Shakespeare, shewed admirable
courage and coolness. A moment's indecision on the
part of the Eesident, or a failure on the part of either
of the assistants in the duties assigned to them, would
have deluged the city of Lucknow with blood, and cost
the Eesidency party their lives ; as it was, they were in
great danger, especially Captain Patton, and were only
rescued from the hands of the rebels by the speedy
arrival of the 35th regiment. The conduct of the
gallant Noke-ka-pultun that night was a good augury
of the laurels they were so soon to earn in the more
trying field of Aifghanistan.

The case of the boy Moona Jan v/as dissimilar from
that of Yizier Ali : the latter was acknowledged, the
former disowned by his reputed father.

The new King, Mahommed Ali, was a cripple, a
respectable old man, who had never dreamt of royalty,
and whose very insignificance and previous seclusion
saved his life during the emeute of the soldiery on the
7th of July. Grrateful for his elevation, which he attri-
buted to the British Government, he was willing to
acquiesce in any reasonable terms that might be dictated
to him, consistent with what he deemed his inzut.^ He

* Honour.


fell into good hands ; never was there a Eesident more
kind and considerate than Colonel Low. He under-
stood his own position, and had sense to perceive that
he gained more credit in fulfilling its duties than by
stepping out of his sphere. Contented with exercising
the legitimate authority of his station, he had no am-
bition to be " Mayor of the Palace" at Lucknow, or to
maintain the balance of power between the rival factions
around the throne. He w^as satisfied to look on in
small matters — ^ready to advise in great ones. He was
a plain soldierly man, who, having served an appren-
ticeship to politics under Malcolm, fought at Mehidpoor,
and afterwards trod the intricate paths of Indian diplo-
macy at Jeypore, and with Bajee Eao, was well adapted
for the Lucknow Court : doubly so as being in liis own
character the very antithesis of everything there;
straightforward integrity, opposed to crooked chicanery.
Colonel Low had seen enough of native courts to
understand and fathom them, while he had escaped
their corruptions. Inaccessible alike to bribes, threats,
and cajoling, he was feared by the vile Nuseer-ood-deen
Hyder, and respected by the amiable Mahommed Ali.

The new King had soon a new treaty laid before
him. ; the document bears internal evidence of not being
Colonel Low's work; indeed some of the clauses were
entirely opposed to his views. Its two prominent
features were, first, the introduction into Oude of an
auxiliary force of two regiments of Cavalry, five of
Infantry, and two companies of Golundauze at an
annual expense of sixteen lakhs of rupees, to be defrayed
by the local Grovernment. The other was a stipulation
for the management by British ofiicers of such districts
of Oude as should be notoriously oppressed by the local
agents. Colonel Low was, we know, averse to saddhng
the King with more troops; but his views were over-


ruled, and a portion of the regiments were raised. Tlie
measure was, however, very properly disapproved of by
the Court of Directors, and the enrolment of the new
levy prohibited, as being an exaction on the Oude State.

Mahommed Ali was evidently so much in earnest in
his efforts for the improvement of his kingdom, that
Government overlooked the glaring mismanagement
still existing in parts of Oude, and did not act on the
permission given by the new treaty.* The King's
intentions were good, and the character of the Court
rose very much during his short reign. He was un-
fortunate in the death of his two able ministers, Moom-
tuzim-ood-dowlah (Mehndy Ali Khan) and Zaheer-oo-
dowlah. The nephew of the former, as already men-
tioned, then succeeded, and held office for two years :
on his resignation a young nobleman, by name Shurreef-
oo-dowlah, the nephew of Zaheer-oo-dowlah, assumed
the reins of government, and retained them until the
old King's death. Shurreef-oo-dowlah is a man of good
ability; of considerable firmness and activity. His
manners are pleasing ; he possesses habits of business ;
on the whole he is considered the ablest and most
respectable candidate for the ministry. He is however
personally disliked by the present King.

On the death of his father in May, 1842, Mahommed
Amjud Ali, the present King, ascended the throne.
His conduct towards his minister was such as to cause
his resignation within two months. He then ap-
pointed a personal favourite, one Imdad Hooseen,
entitling him Ameen-oo-dowlah. After a trial of five
months he was found wanting, and removed, and Muno-
wur-oo-dowlah having returned from pilgrimage was
reinstated. The new minister, unable to stem the
current of Lucknow intrigue, held the office scarcely

* The whole treaty was disallowed by the home Government. — Ed.


seven months, when Ameen-oo-dowlah was recalled to
his master's councils. The favourite is generally sup-
posed quite incompetent for the duties of his office, and
indeed is said to trouble himself very little about them.
He takes the profits and leaves the labours to his
deputy, Syud-ood-dowlah, a low person who has rapidly
risen from penury to power by the prostitution of his
own sister. Not long since this man was an omedwar
for the office of moonshee to one of Col. Eoberts's
regiments. So goes round the wheel! The King
pays no attention to business, will abide by no warn-
ings, Avill attend to no advice, and, it is rumoured,
has secretly confirmed his imbecile ministers in their
places for four years, in spite of the remonstrances
of the Resident.

Let us briefly recapitulate. The condition of Oude
is yearly becoming worse. The revenue is yearly
lessening. There are not less than 100,000 soldiers in
the service of Zemindars. The revenue is collected by
half that number in the King's pay. In more than
half the districts of Oude are strong forts, most of
them surrounded with dense jungle, carefully rendered
as inaccessible as possible. Originally the effect of a
weak or tyrannical Grovernment, such fortresses per-
petuate anarchy. The amils and other public officers,
are men of no character who obtain and retain their
position by Court bribery. Only the weak pay their
revenue ; those who have forts, or who, by combinations,
can withstand the amil, make their own revenue
arrangements. Throughout the country nothing exists
deserving the name of a judicial or Magisterial Court.
The newswriters are in the pay of the amils, generally
their servants ; nevertheless, not less than a hundred
dacoities, or other acts of violence attended with loss of

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 10 of 39)