Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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That the writer erred in this estimate will, we doubt
not, be acknowledged when the extent of what Lord
Hardinge has done for education, for public works, for
the reduction of taxes, and for the general ameliora-
tion of the people of India, is known to him. It is
strange that the charge should ever have been made,
for in the only departments in which Lord Hardinge
had been tried, he had uniformly endeavoured to better
the condition of those under him. The British soldier


is indebted to him for many boons and liberal regula-
tions, which add to his comfort during service, and
improve his condition in old age ; and thus he has justly
earned the title of " the soldier 8 friend!' To him also
we believe it is, that England owes the humane prohi-
bition to the military and police against firing volleys on
mobs. The instructions are now precise and positive
as to when the soldier is to supersede the magistrate,
and then instead of wholesale measures being at once
resorted to, only one fie, in the first instance, is allowed
to fire; the remaining soldiers standing prepared to
resist attack.

But the time was come when Sir H. Hardinge was to
be called into a new and wider field of action. In May,
1844, his kinsman and friend. Lord EUenborough, was
removed from the Grovernment of India by the indig-
nant Court of Directors, whose authority he had defied ;
and the Ministry of the day, though disposed to defend
their colleague, wisely acquiesced in a measure which
they could not prevent. With equal wisdom, their
selection for the vacant office fell on Sir H. Hardinge.
The Court heartily and unanimously acquiesced, and the
lovers of official scandal were disappointed at the sudden
termination of what at one time bade fair to be a bitter
controversy, nay a struggle for superiority between the
Directors and the Ministry.

The new Grovernor- General was selected not as a
brilliant orator or Parliamentary partizan, but as a tried
soldier and straightforward practical statesman. With-
out, however, impugning the candour of either the
Cabinet or the Court, we may believe that each had a
motive for the choice they made. The former, perhaps,
desired as much as possible to soothe the feelings of
Lord EUenborough ; and the Court, in accepting his
kinsman, doubtless considered that they gave the best


possible proof tliat they had recalled his Lordship on
public grounds alone, and with no factions motive.
The appointment, in which the Ministers and the East
India Company thus happily concurred, was equally
popular with the public both in England and India.
In the latter, the friends of Lord EUenborough (and
they were not a few, especially among the juniors of
the army) looked with hope and confidence to a simi-
larity of military feelings in the mind of his successor
— at once his relative and a soldier; while all trusted
to Sir H. Hardinge's acknowledged character for fair-
ness, decision, and plain dealing.

Not long before, when the tidings of the Cabul
disaster reached England, Sir Henry Hardinge had
been offered the command of the army in India ; which
he declined. And now, for two whole days, he is under-
stood to have resisted the temptation of £25,000 a year,
with authority greater than that of the Autocrat of
Eussia, over a population inferior in number only to
that of China. At the age of 60, to give up his family,
his seat in the Cabinet, and the society of the greatest
men of the times, for the sake of responding to the call
of his country and proceeding to the far East, at the
behest, and, in a measure, at the mercy of the Board of
Officials, who had so summarily dismissed his relative
and friend, required no little forgetfulness of self — no
ordinary sense of public duty. A common mind would
not have so confided. In this, as in many other pas-
sages of Lord Hardinge's Indian career, we recognise
the prompt courage of the hero of Albuera.

The usual pledges were now given and taken; the
usual dinners eaten, and the accustomed speeches enun-
ciated, but with more than their accustomed interest
derived from the past, and more, we believe, of sincerity
with reference to the future. On this occasion at least


the promises of peaceful policy were not forgotten,
thoTigh doomed to be disappointed; and after-dinner
visions of great works, and plans for the internal im-
provement of the Anglo-Indian empire, for once did
not melt into air.

In his speech on the victories of Mudki and Feroze-
shah, delivered on the 2nd of March, 1846, Sir Eobert
Peel thus well described the circumstances under which
Sir Henry Hardinge accepted his high office : — " I well
know what was the object of my friend, Sir Henry
Hardinge, in undertaking the Grovernment of India.
He made great sacrifices from a sense of public duty;
my gallant friend held a prominent place in the
Councils of Her Majesty : he was, I believe, without
any reference to party divisions, held in general esteem
in this House, as well by his political opponents as by
his political friends. He was regarded by the army of
this country as its friend, because he was the friend of
justice to all ranks of that army. It was proposed to
him at a time of life, when, perhaps, ambition is a less
powerful stimulus than it might have been at an earlier
period — it was proposed to him to relinquish his place
in the Councils of his Sovereign — to forego the satis-
faction he must have felt at what he could not fail to
see, that he was an object of general respect and esteem.
He separated himself from that family which consti-
tuted the chief happiness of his life, for the purpose of
performing a public duty he owed to his Sovereign and
his country, by taking the arduous and responsible
situation of Chief Grovernor of our Indian possessions.
He went out with a high military reputation, solicitous
to establish his fame in connection with our Indian
empire, not by means of conquest, or the exhibition of
military skill and valour, but by obtaining for himself
a name in the annals of India, as the friend of peace,


and through the promotion of the social interests and
welfare of the inhabitants."

Such we are told by the Premier of England, by him
who best knew them, were the motives of Sir Henry
Hardinge in accepting the vice-royalty of India: and
when we glance over the parting address of the Chair-
man of the Court of Directors, to the new Governor-
General, and apply it as a touchstone to that Governor's
administration, we cannot fail to perceive how honestly
and ably Lord Hardinge has acted up to both the
Court's instructions and to his own pledges.

After assuring Sir Henry that he had the Court's
" entire confidence — a confidence founded on the reputa-
tion he had established for himself not only as a soldier
but as a statesman;" the Chairman slightly but dis-
tinctly alluded to the fact that the general admini-
stration of British India is the direct charge of the
Court of Directors, " subject to the control of the Board
of Commissioners for the afiairs of India;" and, draw-
ing thence the corollary that " the maintenance of re-
spect for the authority of the Court is demanded by the
existing sytem of the Indian Government," significantly
added, "we are persuaded that you will impress this
feeling upon our servants abroad, not merely by precept,
but hy your example!'

The Civil and Military services, and (with some em-
phasis) the Governor- General's " constitutional advisers,
the members of the Council of India," were then recom-
mended to Sir Henry's attention; the Native soldier's
good qualities were lauded ; and lastly the Chairman
thus urged upon Sir Henry's notice the questions of
peace, conciliatory policy, and their results — consolida-
tion and internal improvement : — " By our latest in-
telligence, we are induced to hope that peace prevails
throughout India. I need not say it is our anxious desire


that it should be preserved. You, sir, well know how
great are the evils of war, and we feel confident that,
whilst ever ready to maintain unimpaired the honour of
our country, and the supremacy of our arms, your
policy will be essentially pacific.

*'To the Native States which still retain indepen-
dence, you will extend the shield of British protection.
It has hitherto been considered a wise and just policy to
uphold and support those which are in alliance with
us ; and in dealing with those which are more imme-
diately dependent upon our Grovernment, we have, with
a view to soothe the feelings, and conciliate the attach-
ment, of both chiefs and people, permitted the former to
retain the recognised emblems of authority, their titles,
and other insignia of rank and station. Peace, apart
from its other advantages, is desirable with a view to
the prosperity of our finances and the development of
the resources of the country.

" The strictest economy consistent with the efficiency
of the service/' was then enjoined.

The Chairman next touched on education ; observing,
it " has long been the desire of the Court to encourage
education among the people of India, with a view of
cultivating and enlarging their minds, of raising them
in their own and our estimation, and of qualifying them
for the more responsible offices under our Grovernment.
It is, however, necessary, with reference to the subject
of education, to exercise great prudence and caution, in
order to avoid even the appearance of any interference
with their religious feelings and prejudices, and to
maintain on such points the strictest neutrality.

"Finally, Sir Henry, I would earnestly recommend
the whole body of the people of British India, and its
dependencies, to your paternal care and protection. It
has always been the earnest desire of the Court of


Directors that the government of the East India Com-
pany should be eminently just, moderate, and concilia-
tory. The supremacy of our power must be maintained,
when necessary, by the irresistible force of our arms ;
but the empire of India cannot be upheld by the sword
alone. The attachment of the people, their confidence
in our sense of justice and in our desire to maintain the
obligations of good faith, must ever be essential elements
of our strength. I beseech you, therefore, to keep these
sacred principles habitually and permanently in view.
The Court has selected you for the high ofiice of Go-
vernor-General with reference not less to the confi-
dence which they entertain in your character for justice,
moderation, and benevolence, than to your undoubted
possession of a sound practical judgment, and a firm
and indomitable spirit. You are already in possession
of the highest renown as a soldier, and we feel assured
that you will now rest your happiness and your fame on
the furtherance of measures tending to promote the
welfare and best interests of the Government, and of
the people committed to your care, and it is our earnest
prayer that after an extended career of useful and valu-
able service, you, may return to your native country,
bearing with you as the best and most gratifying re-
ward of your labours, the thanks and blessings of the
people of India."

In a modest rejoinder Sir Henry promised less than he
has performed.

Sir H. Hardinge reached Calcutta on 23rd July. The
tremendous heat of the Bed Sea at that season did not
prevent him from minutely inspecting the works of
Aden, and drawing up a memorandum in correction of
the errors of the Bombay Engineers, and proving how
unnecessary was the extravagant expenditure then going
on upon the rock. Afterwards in India full information


was called for, and the Grovernor-General recorded in
another very able paper, that works to an extent suf-
ficient for 1200 men in peace, and 1500 in war and pro-
portionate artillery, would make good the post against
all probable comers; since a European enemy must
either drag his guns by land, 1500 miles, or be master
of the sea.

It is in similar adaptations of ways and means that
the officers in every department of the Government of
India have found Lord Hardinge's strength to lie ; his
practical intellect sees and seizes at once upon the
strong and weak points of a question; and above all
a military fallacy stands no chance with him. Thus
in the instance before us he justly ridiculed the incon-
sistency of making Aden a Gibraltar, while Singapore,
Hong Kong, &c., are left comparatively defenceless.
The Aden papers have generally transpired ; and are
justly considered as among the very ablest that have
emanated from Lord Hardinge's pen.

One of the first acts of the new Governor- General in
India was to appoint the late private secretary of Lord
EUenborough to the important commissionership of
Tennasserim and Moulmein. Captain Durand has
since been removed; but, when appointed, no man in
India, of his standing, bore a higher character for talent,
application, and business habits ; and even those who
have since condemned him, find him guilty mainly of
errors of judgment. A more honourable man than Cap-
tain Durand of the Bengal Engineers does not exist.
By his appointment to Tennasserim, the Governor-Ge-
neral was enabled to call up Major Broadfoot, who had
for two years held that commissionership to the north-
west frontier, where Lord EUenborough had contem-
plated employing him. These two selections, and a
general adherence to his predecessor's policy, satisfied


men's minds, that, however, in personal demeanour to
the Court of Directors, and in some domestic questions,
Sir Henry Hardinge might act on his own special views,
yet there would he no systematic repeal of Lord Ellen-
borough's acts — no running down of his opinions be-
cause they were those of his predecessor; — a practice
too often prevalent in India in places both high and
low; so much so, indeed, as often to lead natives to
suppose that there is no stability in our institutions ;
and that one official comes after another only to reverse
his orders. Sir Henry Hardinge came to India " fore-
warned, fore-armed" against this restless error. He
had visited Mount- Stuart Elphinstone in England and
asked his advice. The veteran statesman warned him
against meddling with civil details. The advice was wise ;
and, what is rare, has been as wisely acted on. The ad-
vantage of letting things alone where there is no cer-
tainty of mending them, is here too little understood,
especially by the half-informed. William Eraser, who
was murdered at Delhi, was once consulted by one of
his subordinates, who in despair declared that he had
tried every means he could devise to bring the people of
a certain district into order, but without avail. " Did
you ever try what could be done by letting them alone?"
was the reply. We recommend the anecdote to every
magistrate in India, who has got a little leisure, and is
thinking what to do with it !

We would not be understood to imply that Lord
Hardinge neglected civil affairs ; but when it can be
truly said that the most industrious magistrate in India
may let " well alone," and yet find ample occupation for
all his time, how much truer is it in regard to a Gro-
vernor-Greneral ! As he cannot possibly have leisure for
fiscal and judicial details, there is real wisdom in his
leaving them to such men as are usually found in the



position of Lieutenant-Governor of Agra, or Deputy-
Governor of Bengal.

We shall be delighted to hear that Lord Hardinge has
recommended the permanent appointment of a Deputy-
Governor at Calcutta. The system, works admirably
at Agra. The Governor- General cannot, and, in our
opinion, ought not to, enter into all the minutiae of
civil details ; but it is most important that the man who
has to do so should not only be up to his work, but be a
fixture for at least a moderate term. By some such ar-
rangement alone can he be enabled to turn his experience
to proper account, or encouraged to sow with any reason-
able prospect of seeing some portion of the fruit of his
labours. The improvement of the North- West Pro-
vinces under Mr. Thomason's four years' administration
has been most marked ; but what possible amelioration
can be expected under a system that, in ten years, has
given us nine Deputy- Governors over a province con-
taining thirty millions of inhabitants, and paying a
revenue of nine millions? Fortunately for Bengal, it
has had an able secretary in Mr. Halliday. But, how-
ever excellent the ministerial officers, and however
worthy and efficient the Deputy- Governor, if the latter
is to be annually relieved, he can at best only keep
matters straight for the day. It is morally impossible
he can do more. He would indeed be unwise to hazard
his own reputation in the projection of schemes which
his successor might mow down in the bud.

The Punjab has been called the difficulty of recent
administrations ; but the Government of Oude has been
the difficulty of all. A fortnight had scarcely passed
over the head of the new Governor- General before his
attention was drawn to Lucknow affairs. The King, a
poor vacillating creature, who had only a twelvemonth
before rejected from his counsel the upstart Ameen-oo-


dowlah, now again desired to place him at the head of
the Ministry to the exclusion of the Yizier Munownr-
oo-dowlah, who was giving satisfaction to the Envoy.
Strong measures were advised: no less than enforcing
the article of the treaty, which authorizes the assump-
tion by the British Government of the direct control of
all districts whose mismanagement endangers the public
tranquillity. The Governor- General did not consider
the case to require such an extreme measure ; but, ad-
dressing the King, as a friend and well-wisher, solemnly
warned him of the consequences of a systematic disr
regard of the Envoy's representations and advice.

In the same manner, mixing firmness with friendli-
ness, and respect for individual treaties with determina-
tion to maintain the general peace. Sir Henry Hardinge
endeavoured to persuade the foolish Nepal Eajah, the
equally foolish Nizam, and the whole host of petty
princes, to look to their own concerns ; to conduct
themselves with moderation and good faith ; and not to
fear British encroachment.

As little communication as possible was kept up with
Lahore ; and the British Administration of the day,
after years of war and its baneful consequences, sat
down in earnest hope of peace, improvement, and re-

Sir Henry Hardinge lost no time in redeeming one
of the most important of his pledges to the Court of
Directors. On the 10th of October, 1844, was passed
that memorable education resolution, by which employ-
ment under Government was secured to native youths,
whether educated in private * or Government schools,

* It is to be regretted that, from which had been adopted See 5th

the benefits of this truly liberal Miscellaneous Notice of No. IX. of

measure, private Institutions were the Calcutta Review for a full ex-*

wholly shut out, owing to the'narrow planation of this important subject.'
and exclusive test of examination



on proof shown of qualification, ability, studious habits,
and integrity. The effect of this noble resolution was
immense ; and the Calcutta Baboos, especially, lost no
time in responding to the call of Grovernment. Early
in December they called a meeting, and voted an address
of thanks, which was signed by more than 500 native
gentlemen, presented to the Governor-Greneral, and by
him most graciously received and answered. He told
the deputation that he advocated education as mutually
beneficial to the governors and the governed : that he
felt the advantages to Grovernment of the services of
natives of superior intelligence and integrity ; but
added that he patronized learning on the far higher
principle that it increased the happiness and prosperity
of society. His speech concluded with these words :
" Rely upon it, gentlemen, you cannot perform a more
patriotic service to your countrymen than by encou-
raging and promoting education among the native po-

The Governor-General on another occasion distributed
the prize medals at the Hindoo College, and in reference
to the speech he then made, a respectable Baboo de-
clared, " Never did words more convince me of the
ardent sincerity of the speaker than did the unaffected
but stirring language of Sir Henry Hardinge."

Having thus patronized the Hindus, the Governor-
General, early in March, 1845, attended the distribution
of prizes and scholarships at the Mahommedan College
in Calcutta, where an address was delivered by the
students, and received with the same encouraging kind-
ness which had been shown to the disciples of the rival
creed. In his reply, Sir Henry Hardinge called the
attention of his youthful audience to the exciting and
wondrous facts of steam and railroads, and the magic
power conferred on man by the discovery of electro-


magnetic telegraphs ; showing how deeply even at that
early day the mind of the Grovernor-Greneral was im-
pressed with the value of such means of communication
in an empire so vast as that over which he ruled. Sir
Henry concluded by holding out the encouraging ex-
ample of a distinguished pupil of the college named
Syud Hossein, who had recently been made a deputy-
magistrate, and among whose qualifications was a know-
ledge of English as well as of several Oriental lan-

The education minute affected the middle and reading
classes of the Natives ; and much about the same time
(30th October, 1844), was issued a notification scarcely
less interesting to the lowest and poorest. It involved
a considerable reduction in the price of foreign salt.
This measure, which had been contemplated during Mr.
Bird's Deputy-Governorship, seemed to be called for
not less by motives of humanity than by the soundest
maxims of policy. Nevertheless, the measure was re-
garded by many as a bold one ; since it was expected to
affect the revenue to the extent of not less than 12
lakhs of rupees ; and that at a time of great pecuniary
pressure, at the close of a five years' war, and the open-
ing of a new administration. There is, however, at
least as much of wisdom as of mercy in all such re-
ductions of duties ; for by them smuggling is starved,
and revenue ultimately augmented.

We come next to a question which has been much
canvassed both in England and India; — corporal
punishment in the army. A large majority of ex-
perienced Indian officers were agreed that Lord Wm.
Bentinck's weU-meant abolition of flogging in the
Native army had entirely failed as an experiment of
discipline. Insubordination had increased. Evil doers
were under no restraint ; and a sepoy had actually on

R 2


one occasion stepped out of the ranks and dared his
commanding officer ; telling him that the worst punish-
ment he could inflict was dismissal. It was proved,
that, while on the old system the average instances of
corporal punishment had not exceeded one in 700 per
annum, the number sentenced, under the new system,
to labour in irons on the roads had been not less than
one in a hundred and fifty — amounting to as many as
ten thousand in ten years, — a frightful catalogue, and
one, that the benevolent heart of Lord Wm. Bentinck
could never have dreamt of. Abstractedly considered,
corporal punishment is odious; but it is nevertheless
true that many men in the Native, as well as in the
European ranks, have gained and honoured commissions,
whose backs have been scored at the halberds ; we much
doubt, however, whether any have recovered the moral
searing of labouring with robbers and pickpockets on
the public roads. The number alone of men punished
by the new code, was sufficient proof of its inefficiency.
The punishment brought misery and dishonour into
hundreds of innocent families ; while, at the same time,
from its being generally inflicted far from the scene of
the ofience, it was no example to the comrades of the
oflender, of the consequences of insubordination and
neglect of duty.

But a cry had been raised in England against " the
lash." With some right feeling, much sickly sentimen-

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 19 of 39)