Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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life, are annually reported; how many hundreds then
pass unnoticed! Within the last six months, the
Government dawk has been robbed : within the last
three, an amil has been slain. While we write (1845),
the British cantonment of Cawnpoor has been insulted ;
and month after month, the local press tells of new
atrocities. In short, the Government of the country is
utterly palsied ; its constitution is altogether destroyed;
no hope remains. Were any vitality left in Oude, the
country has, during the last twelve years, had a fair
opportunity of recovering. If the system of a King, a
Minister, a Eesident, and a protecting army could sub-
sist without ruin to the country so ruled, it has had a
trial. The scheme cannot be said to have failed for lack
of good instruments. The Oude rulers have been no
worse than monarchs so situated usually are; indeed
they have been better than might have been expected.
Weak, vicious, and dissolute they v/ere, but they have
seldom been cruel, and have never been false. In the
storms of the last half century, Oude is the one single
Native State that has invariably been true to the British
Government ; that has neither intrigued against us nor
seemed to desire our injury. It may have been weak-
ness, it may have been apathy, but it is at least fact,
that the Oude Government has ever been faithful, and
therefore it is that we would not only advocate liberality
towards the descendants of Saadut Khan, but the
utmost consideration that can be shown them, consistent
with the duty we owe to the people of Oude. Among
her ministers have been as able individuals as are usually
to be found in the East; and there have not been
wanting good men and true as Eesident s. It is the
system that is defective, not the tools with which it has
been worked. We have tried every variety of inter-


ference. We have interfered directly, and we have in-
terfered indirectly ; by omission as well as by commis-
sion ; but it has invariably failed.

One great error has been our interference in trifles,
while we stood aloof when important questions were at
issue. Another crying evil has been, the want of any
recognised system of policy in our negotiations with the
Lucknow Court. Everything seems to have been mere
guess-work and experiment. One Governor- General or
one Eesident has adopted one plan ; the next has tried
something wholly different. The Nawab, or the King,
the Minister, and the Eesident, have each had their
turn. One or other has alternately been everything
and nothing. If an able minister was appointed or
encouraged by the British Government, he was, as a
matter of course, suspected and thwarted by his master ;
if the King did happen to employ an honest servant,
the power of the latter was null, unless he had the
Eesident's support. The amils neglected him, the
zemindars despised him. There could be no neutrality
in the case : the British agent must be friend or foe ;
he must be for or against the minister. Thus could
each member of the triumvirate vitiate the exertions
of one or both the others ; any individual of the three
could do incalculable evil ; but the three souls must be
in one body to effect any good. Such a phenomenon
never occurred; there never was an approach to it,
unless perhaps for a few months in Colonel Low's

On reverting to the past, it will be found that we
have interfered in the city, and have held aloof in the
country ; that at another time, while we spared the
palace, we have entered the villages with our tunkhwas
(revenue orders). Again, for a time, we have left both
Court and country unmolested. Such sullen silence



was always construed into the most direct interference ;
for, the King being guaranteed, it was believed that he
was then at liberty to work his will without fear of con-
sequences, since British bayonets would appease what-
ever tumult might arise. Our troops have carried the
fortresses of the oppressed by storm, and put the brave
defenders to the sword. On one occasion a terrible
example was made, and not a man escaped. Our cavalry
surrounded the fort, the infantry entered; and of the
doomed defenders, not a soul survived.'"' At that period
we not only guaranteed the Euler, but were made
the executioners of his will. A revulsion came : such
acts were shown in all their naked deformity ; and both
Court and country were again for a while left to them-
selves. Fraud was then substituted for force, and
occasionally large bands of ill-paid and licentious sol-
diery were sent to devastate the country they could not
subdue. The British troops did their work of destruc-
tion speedily, and therefore wdth comparative mercy.
The royal rabble spread, like locusts, over the land, and
killed by famine what they could not destroy by the

From this mass of mischief, who is the gainer? It
may be supposed that the amils at least gain ; not they.
There may perhaps be twenty families in all Oude, that
had profited by Government employ; but all others
have been simply sponges. The officials have sucked
others to be themselves squeezed in turn. Is it to
remain thus for ever? Is the fairest province of India
always to be harried and rackrented for the benefit of
one family, or rather, to support in idle luxury one
individual of one family ? Forbid it justice, forbid it
mercy ! Had any one of the many Grovernors- General
who spoiled Oude remained a few years longer in office,

* The fort of Father Serai, in the year 1S08.


he might have righted her wrongs. But, unhappily,
while several have been in authority long enough to
wound, not one has yet had time to bind up and heal.
Hastings began the " stand and deliver" system with
the Nawabs. More moderate governors succeeded, who
felt ashamed to persecute a family that had already been
so pillaged. They pitied the monarch, but they forgot
that misdirected mercy to him was cruelty to his

For this culpable indifference, our Government liad a
standing excuse, — their hands were tied by the treaties
of their predecessors, and their interference, even if
justifiable, would do more harm than good. Poor
casuistry ! The truth is, that where a question admits
of doubt, there can be little danger ifj with clean hands,
we take the weaker side; if, foregoing all thought of
personal or political profit, we arbitrate in favor of the
mass. There was no treaty for Warren Hastings' acts,
or for half the acts of half his successors. A hole was,
however, generally found for creeping out of every
dilemma which afiected our own interests. At the very
worst, when a vacancy occurred on the musnud, a new
negotiation soon set all to rights. On each occasion we
dictated our own terms ; on each of these opportunities
we might as readily have made arrangements for
securing good government as for securing our own
subsidy : we were explicit enough on the one point ; all
else was left indefinite, the stronger party being, of
course, the interpreters of the law. The Oude Grovern-
ment therefore suffered by diplomatic quibbles; the
Oude subjects by revenue ones. In each case the
weakest have gone to the wall. The result is before our
eyes; the remedy is also in our hands. No one can
deny that we are now authorized by treaty to assume
the management of the distracted portions of the

K 2


kingdom. — All are more or less distracted and mis-
governed. Let the management of all be assumed under
some sucli rules as those which were laid down by
Lord W. Bentinck. Let the administration of the
country, as far as possible, be native. Let not a rupee
come into the Company s coffers. Let Oude be at last
governed, not for one man, the King, but for him and
his people.

We must be brief in the explanation of the plan we
would recommend.

The King has made himself a cypher ; he has let go
the reins of Government; let us take them up. He
should be prevented from marring what he cannot or
will not manage. In every eastern court the Sovereign
is everytld7ig or nothing. Mahommed Amjud Ali has
given unequivocal proof that he is of the second class ;
there can, therefore, be no sort of injustice in confirming
his own decree against himself, and setting him aside.
He should be treated with respect, but restricted to his
palace and its precincts. The Eesident should be
minister, not only in fact, but in name. Let it not be
said that he works in the dark; but give him the re-
sponsible charge of the country, and make him answer-
able to the British Government for its good or ill
management. While his personal demeanour to the
King must be deferential, he should be no more under
his authority than the commissioner of Delhi is under
the Great Mogul. Divide the country into five dis-
tricts ; in each, place a British officer, as superintendent,
who shall receive appeals against the Native officers.
Abolish, in toto, the farming system. Give as quickly
as possible a light assessment for five years, fixed as far
as possible by the people themselves ; that is, let the
one-and-a-quarter million (or thereabouts), the country
may be supposed able to bear, be subdivided in a great


assembly of the people among the five districts ; and
then let the district, pergunnah, and village quotas be
similarly told off, under the eye of British super-

Due consideration must be given to the circum-
stances of all, and to the privileges that may have arisen
from long exemption; and it must be remembered that
one village may be ruined by paying half what another,
in apparently similar circumstances, can easily afford;
let the rich and powerful pay as w^ell as the poor and
weal^. Reference must be had, and some consideration
granted to past payments and past privileges as w^ell as
to present condition. Perfect equalization cannot be
expected at once.

While the first arrangements are in progress, a strong
military force should be at hand; and the first act of
recusancy should be severely punished. The dismissal of
the rural armies should be effected, and all forts belong-
ing to notorious persons should be dismantled. Where
possible, an amnesty should be given for the past. No
individual, whom it may be possible to reclaim, should
be branded. The motives that had driven men to the
bush should be considered, and penalty bonds having
been taken, they should be received and treated as
reformed members of society. Under firm but liberal
treatment, many a supposed desperado would retrieve
his reputation. Speedy and severe examples should be
made of amils and others convicted of fraud, extortion,
or other oppression: and it should be early and dis-
tinctly understood that no position will screen male-
factors or defaulters. The rule will disgust a few, but
will delight the many.

The revenue settlement is the first great question in
all eastern countries; when it is well effected, all
remaining work is comparatively easy. At the risk


then of being set down by men who deal in forms,
rather than in realities, as a very unsound lawgiver, we
say, first settle the revenue question satisfactorily, and
the path of amendment will be smooth. Let men's
minds be relieved as to the past and the future, and
they will readily settle down for the present. Three
months, at the utmost, should sufiice to make the sum-
mary settlement we propose ; no niceties need be
entered into. Let the assessment be light, and let
every man, high and low, who has to pay, have his
quota distinctly registered, whether it be in cash or in
kind ; and let prompt and severe punishment follow the
earliest instances of infringement of recorded agreements.

Let a date be fixed, anterior to which no Government
claims for revenue shall be advanced. Let it also be at
once promulgated that no civil case will be attended to
of more than twelve, or at the utmost of twenty years'
date ; and no police case of more than three ; and that
all claims must be filed within one year of the date
of the introduction of the British rule. All these cases
should be made over to punchayets, superintended by
the best men in the land. Brief reasons of decision
in each case should be entered in a book, and copies of
the same sent weekly to the superintendent. For
ordinary civil, fiscal, and police duties, courts should
be established or old ones confirmed in the several
zillahs : punchayets should be encouraged ; honest mem-
bers* of such assemblies should be honoured and
favoured, and dishonest ones discountenanced and

What a change would such a system, honestly and ably
worked out, effect within a single twelvemonth ! It is

* In every community there are men are usually elected sur-punch^
individuals whom disputants will or president, by the members chosen.
readily receive as arbitrators : such — H. M. L.


delightful to think of it. We see the difficulties in the
way, hut difficulties are not impossihilities. No plan is
all smooth, no measure of amelioration is without oh-
stacles. Our main difficidty would he to select super-
intendents of sufficient experience, possessing at the
same time energy and ahility, strength of hody and of
mind, to face the chaos that would at first he presented
them. Such men are, however, to he found. They
must he paid, and liherally too, not in the Scinde and
Saugor fashion. It would he the worst of all economy
to employ men who would not remain at least &ve years
to work out the primary scheme.

Our plan involves the employment of every present
Oude official, wiliirf^ to remain, and able to perform the
duties that would he required of him. The majority of
the present amils would resign, as would most of the
officers ahout the Court. All valid tenures of land
would of course he upheld, and all superannuated offi-
cials having claims to pension, would he considered.
It would he desirahle to retain the services of one or
two respectahle men, to assist the Resident and form
with him a court of appeal from the superintendent's

When matters were thus put in train, village boun-
daries should he defined; a revenue survey, and a set-
tlement for thirty, or even fifty, years should follow.

We do not anticipate the necessity of any permanent
increase of establishment. If Mr. Haddock's estimate
is correct, half the sum now plundered by the amils
and the ministers would amply remunerate all the
requisite officials.

The primary arrangements would probably require
cash ; but as the improvement of the country would be
secured, an Oude loan of a crore of rupees might be
raised, which the increase of cultivation and general


amelioration of the State would enable ns easily to pay
off in ten or fifteen years. We repeat that the assess-
ment should be light. The people as well as the Court
should benefit by improvement, if they are expected to
further it. There should be a liberal allowance for the
King — twenty, thirty, or even fifty lakhs per annum
might, as the revenues increased, be allowed. He
should be furnished, to his heart's content, with silver-
sticks, but very scantily with matchlocks. The King
would be dissatisfied, let him remain so. He is not
particularly well pleased just now, and, so long as we
act honestly, the state of his temper is not of much con-
sequence. In whatever spirit he might meet our pro-
posed radical reform he would find few to sympathize
in his dissatisfaction. His brothers, uncles, and cousins
would be delighted with the change.

The guaranteed would be in ecstacies. Almost all
others would rejoice at the reformation. The people of
Oude — the men who recruit our " beautiful regiments"
— ^would bless John Company.

The scheme we have here indicated, rather than de-
tailed, is not for a day, nor for any specific number of
years. It is refined cruelty to raise the cup to the lip
and then to dash it away. Let us not deal with Oude
as we have done with Hyderabad and Nagpore, The
kings of Oude, generally, have, as rulers, been weighed
and found wanting. His present Majesty has habitually
disregarded the spirit and letter of the terms concluded
between his father and the British Government. The
family must be placed beyond the power of doing
further mischief. We have not been guiltless; in re-
penting of the past, let us look honestly to the future ;
for once let us remember the people, the gentles, the
nobles, the royal family, and not legislate merely for the


If the Oude Eesidency could, with honour, be with-
drawn, or if we believed that there was a possibility of
the Government of the King holding together for a
month, when abandoned by the British Government,
we should at once advocate giving his Majesty the op-
portunity of trying to stand on his own legs ; but
knowing the thing to be impossible, we have offered the
only practicable remedy for the ills that afflict the
country, and shall be delighted to see it, or some such
scheme, speedily carried out. This scheme is given in
the rough. We have not even attempted to round it
off; the principle is all we advocate. The details may
be indefinitely improved, but whatever outcry or oppo-
sition our sentiments may elicit, we sit down satisfied
with the reflection that we have suggested no breach
of faith, but have promulgated a plan which the most
conscientious servant of the State might be proud to
work out.


[written in 1845.]

Maharashtra, or the country of the Mahrattas, is, ac-
cording to Hindoo geographers, one of the five principal
divisions of the Deccan,* or, country south of the Nar-
badda and Mahanaddi rivers. The limits of Maha-
rashtra are variously given : Mahommedans seldom
troubled themselves about geographical questions, and
it ^vas long after they had overrun the different pro-
vinces of India, before they inquired respecting their
original divisions. Mahrattas, indeed, are seldom men-
tioned by Mahommedan writers until the deeds of
Shahjee, and his son Sivajee, brought their countrymen
prominently to notice. When the historian Ferishtah
alludes to the Mahrattas he calls them " the Hindoos,"
" the Bergis," meaning, by the first appellation, the
population generally, in contradistinction to their Mos-
lem conquerors; by the second, designating them ma-
rauders, f

* The Deccan of the Hindus com- Ferishta, in the transactions of the

prised the whole peninsula south year a.d. 1485, and is not then ap-

of the Narbadda and Mahanaddi, plied in a general sense." This is an

but Europeans have adopted the error. It strikes us we have repeat-

Mahommedan definition, and limit edly seen them mentioned at earlier

it to Telingana, Gondwana, and dates. By a hasty reference we have

that portion of Maharashtra above now found three such references :

the Western Ghats, being generally a.d. 1342, Ferishtah, as translated by

the country between the Narbadda Dow, says, "He at the same time

and Kistna rivers. — ^H. M. L. conferred the Government of Dou-

t Mr. Elphinstone states, at page lutabad and of the country of the

457, vol. ii. of his History of India, Mahrattors upon Cuttulech, his pre-

" The word Mahrattas first occurs in ceptor." — Page 289, vol. i. Again, at


Two points of the Mahratta history have, however,
heen recovered from the mazes of antiquity. Ptolemy
tells US that, in the second century, there was a large
city called Tagara, one of the principal marts of the
Deccan, or country of the south ; well known to the
Greeks, and frequented by Egyptian merchants, 250
years before Christ. Its exact position has been the
subject of controversy. Mr. Elphinstone considers that
the site has yet to be ascertained, while Grant Duff
places it on the Godavery, about fifty miles below
Pyetan, — supposed to have been the Paithana of
Ptolemy. Learned natives recognise the name of Ta-
gara, and Grant Duff alludes to ancient deeds of grants
of land engraved on copper plates, styling its monarch
" the Chief of the Chiefs of Tagara." The second fact
is, that a conquering sovereign, by the name Salivahan,
whose era begins a.d. 77, and is the one now ordi-
narily used in the Deccan, ruled in the Mahratta
country. He is said to have subdued the famous Yi-
kramaditya, king of Malva; but this could not have
been the case, as there are 135 years between their eras.
The capital of Salivahan is recorded to have been at
Pyetan on the Godavery.

The foregoing seem to be the only facts that can be
gleaned from the mass of legendary accounts regarding
Maharashtra, and its many petty independent States,
antecedent to the inroad of the Mahommedans under
AUa-ud-deen, in the year of our Lord, 1294. At this
time, Jadow Eam-deo Eao was king, rajah, or mayhap,
only "chief of the chiefs." He was at least sovereign of an
extensive country, though there were at the time several

two places, in page 320 of the same of " Feroze Shaw's" zenana, in a.d.

volume, " Sirvadon, Chief of the 1398, are noted "Kajpootnees, Ben-

Mahrattors,"is mentioned. In Scott's galees, Guzratees, Telinganees, J/a-

translation of Ferishtah's History karattins.'' — H. M. L.
of the Deccan, among other inmates


other chiefs in Maharashtra independent of his authority.
Jadow Eam-deo Eao ruled at Deogurh, the modern
Doulutabad. His conquerors, astonished at his wealth
and power, styled him King of the Deccan. The plun-
der of his capital supplied AUa-ud-deen with the wealth
which enabled him to usurp the throne of Delhi.

To make our subsequent historical details intelligible,
it will be requisite briefly to describe the position and
features of the Mahratta country. Mr. Elphinstone's
History of India gives the following boundaries of Ma-
harashtra. On the north, the Sautpoora range of hills,
from Naundode, near Baroach, on the western coast, to
the source of the Wurda river. On the east, the Wurda
river, which, taking a south-easterly course, joins the
Wyne Gunga, south-west of Chanda. On the south, the
boundary is a waving line, running past Beder and Ko-
lapoor to Goa; while the western limit is the line of
coast from Goa to Damaun, and thence inland to Naun-

The trapezium enclosed within this outline covers
about one hundred thousand square miles, and is esti-
mated to contain between six and seven millions of in-
habitants. Some portions of the country are thickly
inhabited ; but large tracts are desolate, or very thinly
]3eopled, giving as the average of the whole, scarcely
above sixty to the square mile.* The most marked
feature of the country, whose boundaries we have de-
fined, is the Syhadree range of mountains, commonly

* Mr. Tone, who was an officer in had been, we consider his statement

the service of the Peishwa, says, " I to be above the mark. The Satara

beheve it may be safely asserted and Poena lands now bear a far dif-

that through the whole country ferent aspect ; indeed, wherever Bri-

(Bengal and Behar excepted^ one tish influence extends, and common

acre in fifty is not cultivated. He care and intelligence is exerted, the

wrote in 1818, and doubtless alluded change is soon extraordinary. We

to the country around Poena, where have, in more than one quarter, seen

he had served ; but even there, and cultivation doubled, nay trebled, in

distracted as the Peishwa's territory a single year. — H. M. L.


called the G^hats. They run along the western coast of
India, at an average distance of thirty-seven miles from
the sea : their summits are from three to five thousand
feet in. height, rising abruptly from the west, and sup-
porting a table-land, which averages three thousand feet
above the sea and slopes gradually towards the east.
This range divides Maharashtra into three great tracts,
the Concan, the Concan-Grhat-Mahta, and the Desh
(Des), or country to the eastward of the high lands. The
Concan is that portion of the country which lies between
the Syhadree mountains and the sea, and extends in a
long narrow strip from the river Taptee, at Surat, to
the Portuguese town of Groa. This division varies in
breadth from twenty-five to fifty miles, and contains
about twenty thousand square miles, or one-fifth of all
Maharashtra. The Concan is a very rugged country,
" interspersed with huge mountains and thick jungles ;
intersected by rivers and numberless rivulets." Some

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 11 of 39)