Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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lease has been granted for more than one year." Thus
the period which, not only the Eesident of the day, but
the Military Ofiicers employed in Oude designated as a
reign of terror, is now remembered as one of compa-
rative mercy and tranquillity. Saadut Ali, being a man
of ability, plundered for himself; his imbecile successors
sufier their minions to devastate the land. Under
Saadut Ali there was one tyrant ; now there are at least
as many as there are local officers. Saadut Ali left his
dungeons full of his ex-amils, and fourteen millions of
money and jewels in his coffers.

Sir John Malcolm somewhere remarks that the quality
of a Native Government may be estimated by the cha-
racter of its district officers, and the infrequency of
change among them. He might have offered a more
brief and even a better criterion in "the revenue
system." Throughout India, the land is the source of
Eevenue. Under almost every Native Grovernment, the
collections are farmed, and in no part of India are these
vicious arrangements so viciously carried out as in Oude.
On one occasion we were personally witness to a default-
ing village being carried by storm ; seven or eight of the
inhabitants were killed and wounded, and all the rest
were taken captive by the amil. Such occurrences are
frequent.^' "While we write we observe in the daily

* The injury done to British bor- around the village, after the aumil's

der districts by these affrays may be army had retired, we taxed them with

estimated from the fact that, on the participation in the fight. This they

occasion alluded to, seeing a number at first denied, but on taking a match-

of armed British subjects flocking lock from ono of the men, we ob-


papers, a detailed account of the death in battle of the
amil of Baraitch, and of the victorious Talookdar hav-
ing, in consequence, taken to the bush, to be a felon
probably for life, or at least until he pay the blood-
money at Court. Year by year several of the largest
landholders are thus temporarily outlawed. No man
owing a fortalice thinks of paying the public revenue,
until a force, large or small, is brought against him.
Barely indeed is the sum demanded conformable to the
agreement made. The demand almost invariably de-
pends on the nature of the crop, and on the Zemindar's
means, real or supposed, to pay or to withhold pay-

The present income of Oude may be estimated at a
million and a half sterling, and it arises almost entirely
from the land revenue. The fiscal divisions are ar-
bitrary. Mr. Maddock in 1831 showed twenty-four.
Doctor Butter in 1837, twelve; and we have before us
a list of twenty-five, large and small districts, obtaining
during the present year. The charge of each chukla, or
district, is generally sold by the Minister and his favour-
ites to the highest bidder, or is given to a creature of
his own. Lucknow bankers sometimes engage for large
districts and appoint their own agents. These are by
no means the worst cases, for low persons, who have
risen to notice by the vilest arts, are often appointed
amils. They have not only their own fortune to make,
but to pay the Court bribes, while their friends remain
in office ; a change of Ministry turns the majority of
them adrift.

The revenue contractors have all the powers of Judge
and Magistrate; they are, in short, unshackled, un-
served that it had been just dis- late, it having been surrounded dur-
charged. The parties then allowed ing the night and the assault made
that they had come to join in the at daylight. Thus are our subjects
defence of the village, but were too taught club and matchlock law.


checked governors of their chuklas. Five of the present
•twenty-five divisions are under what is called amaunee
management; that is, of salaried oificers, who collect
the Grovernment rents; but this system only obtains
in districts so deteriorated that no one will bid for
farming them, and in such cases the Ameens are under
so little check that the cultivators are at their mercy
nearly as much as under the farming system. Mr.
(now Sir Herbert) Maddock, in an able memorandum,
shows the modes by which the situations of amils are
procured, and the sort of people who in his time filled
the ofl&ce, including, for instance, "Nawab Ameer-ood-
dowlah," who has been raised to the dignity of an amil
from the " very humble duties of a fiddler. His sister,
formerly a concubine, or nautch girl, having gained
the royal favour, is now one of the King's wives, desig-
nated by the title of *Tauj Mahal,' and receives a
Jageer, for the support of her dignity, of which her
brother, the * Nawab Ameer-ood-dowlah,' is the manager.
In like manner, the individual placed in charge of
Annow, &c., was formerly the humble attendant upon
nautch girls, but has lately been advanced to the title of
'Nawab AUee Bux,' through female influence in the
palace." Sir Herbert Maddock furnishes a detailed list
of nuzerana received by one Minister (Mohumud-ood-
dowlah) amounting to more than seventeen lakhs of
rupees, and estimated that the amils share among them
nearly fifty lakhs of rupees yearly.

Matters are far from improved since Sir Herbert
Maddock ^vrote. The weak are still squeezed, while
those who " are secured by forts and backed by troops"
continue to pay pretty much as they choose. The
picture drawn by Sir Herbert of the career of an amil
in the year 1830 stands good for the same ofiicial
of to-day. Kules and rates, justice and mercy, are


disregarded now, as they were then, and in his words
it may still be truly said that, "a few seasons of ex-
tortion such as this lays waste the fields and throws
a multitude upon the world, now almost deprived
of honest means to gain subsistence. These, driven
from their homes, betake themselves to crime, and
goaded by poverty, become thieves and robbers, in-
festing the country on every side." "The amil or
his ofiicers, finding a yearly decrease of revenue, are
naturally urged to further exactions, until, at length,
the kingdom has arrived at such a crisis that hundreds
of villages have gone to ruin, the former cultivation
is now a waste, and the hamlets once occupied are
now deserted." The foregoing brief quotation is as
applicable to the state of the police, and of the revenue,
at the present day, as it was when Sir H. Maddock
wrote. In the year 1806, when several gentlemen
were examined before Parliament on the Oude question.
Major Ouseley, an Aide-de-Camp, and personal friend
of the reigning Nawab, Saadut Ali, testified to the
infamous state of the police. The evidence of all others
was to the same effect.

Sir H. Maddock, Dr. Butter, and all modern writers,
show that the condition of the police is now, to the
full, as bad as it was half a century ago. The latter
gentleman states " that nothing is said about a murder
or a robbery ; and, consequently, crime of all kinds has
become much more frequent, especially within the
last sixteen years, and in the smaller towns and villages.
Gang-robbery, of both houses and travellers, by bands
of 200 and 300 men, has become very common. In
most parts of Oude, disputes about land, and murders
thence originating, are of very frequent occurrence;
feuds are thus kept up, and all opportunities of ven-
geance laid hold of." Again, " Pipar, five miles


N. N. E. of Gonda in Amethi, contains a population of
4000 ch'hatris, who are robbers by profession and in-
heritance ; every bullock and horse stolen in this part
of Oude, finds its way to Pipar." Also, "Sarangpur,
ten miles south of Tanda, has a population of 9000
Hindu thieves, dakoits (gang-robbers), and t'hugs,
whose depredations extend as far as Lak'hnau, Go-
rak'hpur, and Benares." In the same page, it is stated
that "In November, 1834, Tanda and its neigh-
bourhood were plundered by the notorious freebooter
Fatteh Bahadoor of Doarka, who surprised and defeated
the Taujdar, and a toman of 100 men stationed there,
and carried off about 100 of the principal inhabitants,
who, on pain of death, were compelled to procure their
own ransom, at sums varying from 50 to 400 rupees.
Of this outrage no notice was taken by the Govern-

The army is in much the same condition as it was when
Sir James Craig declared that it v/ould be useful only
to the enemy. It is dangerous to the well-being of the
State ; utterly useless for war, most mischievous during
peace. In round numbers the army may now be esti-
mated at fifty-two thousand men, and its expense at
thirty-two lakhs of rupees yearly.* Doctor Butter's
account, written in 1837, describes its present condition
with sufficient accuracy.

"The Army of Oude, excluding the brigade raised
by Local Colonel Eoberts, is an ill-paid, undisciplined
rabble, employed generally in coercing, under the Chuck-
ledar's orders, the 'refractory' Zemindars of his dis-
tricts; in conveying to Lak'hnau, under the exclusively
mihtary orders of their own officers, the revenue when

* There are, also, not less than a dars, to defend their forts and fight
hundred thousand armed men em- against the Government,
ployed by the Talookdars and Zemin-


levied ; and occasionally, in opposing the armies of
plunderers, who harass the eastern districts of Oude."
And, again, " The nominal pay of the Sipahi is four
rupees, but he receives only three, issued once in every
three or four months, and kept much in arrears; he
has also to find his own arms and ammunition. He
gets no regular leave to his home, but takes it occa-
sionally for ten or fifteen days at a time; and little
notice is taken of his delinquency by the tumandar.
There is a muster, once in every five or six months ;
and the man who is absent from it gets no pay."

" This army has no fixed cantonments, no parades,
no drill, and no tactical arrangement : when one pultan
is fighting, another may be cooking. Encounters hand
to hand are thought disreputable, and distant can-
nonading preferred, or a desultory match-lock fire,
when no artillery is available. There is no pension
or other provision for the severely wounded, who, de
facto, are out of the service, and return to their homes
as they can." * * * " They have no tents ; but
when they make a halt, if only for two days, they build
huts for themselves, covering them with roofs torn
from the next villages."

We refer to Colonel Sleeman's little volume " On
the Spirit of Military Discipline," pages 10 and 11,
for a very striking anecdote, exemplifying at once
the Oude Eevenue system and the value of its present
military force.

Having thus, from sources sufiiciently independent,
set forth the past and present condition of the finance,
police, and military system of Oude, we shall now
ofier a brief historical sketch of the progressive causes
of this condition.

Saadut Khan, the founder of the Oude dynasty,
was one of the many bold spirits that came from the


westward to seek their fortunes in Hindoostan. He
combined with the usual qualities of a good soldier,
the rarer talents required for an able administrator.
Mr. Elphinstone has fallen into the error of earlier
historians in calling him a merchant; he was, in
reality, of noble birth, and his original name was
Mahommed Ameen. In the year 1705, while still
but a lad, he arrived at Patna, to join his father and
elder brother, who had preceded him thither. On his
arrival, finding the former dead, he and his brother
proceeded to push their fortunes at Delhi. His first
service was with Nawab Sirbulund Khan, whom, how-
ever, he soon quitted, resenting a taunt uttered by
his master on occasion of some trifling neglect. The
youth took his way to Court, where he soon acquired
favour; and having materially assisted his imbecile
sovereign in getting rid of Hosein Ali (the younger of
the Syuds of Bara, who were at that time dragooning
the King), Mahommed Ameen was rapidly promoted
to the viceroyalty of Oude, with the title of Saadut
Khan. He found the province in great disorder, but
soon reduced the refractory spirits and greatly increased
the revenue. He protected the husbandmen, but
crushed the petty chiefs who aimed at independence.

Modern historians question the fact of Saadut Khan
having, in concert with Nizam- ool-Moolk, invited Nadir
Shah's invasion. We have not room to detail the evi-
dence on which our opinion rests, but a careful com-
parison of authorities leads us to believe that he was
guilty of this treacherous deed. The atrocities com-
mitted by Nadir are familiar matters of history. The
traitor chiefs did not escape, and Nizam-ool-Moolk and
Saadut Khan were especially vexed with requisitions.
They were not only themselves plundered, but were
made the instruments of extorting treasure from the


distant provinces. Nizam-ool-Moolk, jealous of the
power and ability of Saadut, took advantage of the
persecutions of Nadir Shah to execute a plan for
getting rid of his rival. He affected to confide to him
his own determination of suicide, and agreed with
Saadut Khan that each should take poison. The latter
drank his cupfull, and left the hoary schemer without
a rival in the empire.*

Saadut Khan, who had but a few years before been
a needy adventurer, and had now been plundered by
Nadir Shah, was still enabled to leave his successor
a large treasure, estimated by some at nine millions of
money. Though he accumulated so much wealth, he
has not left behind him the character of an oppressor.
On the contrary, he seems rather to have respected the
poor, and to have restricted his exactions to the rich.
He overthrew many lordlings, and established in their
stead one stronger, and therefore better, rule. No
qualms of conscience stood in his way. The aggran-
dizement of his own family was his one object, in fur-
therance of which he was regardless alike of gratitude,
loyalty, or patriotism. So long as his own territory
escaped, he cared not that Persian or Mahratta should
ravage the empire, and humble the monarch, in whose
weakness he found his own strength. He reaped much
as he had sown ; his ability and management established
a sovereignty ; his faithlessness brought him to a pre-
mature and ignominious end. He proved no exception
to the rule, that they who are busiest in entrapping
others are themselves the easiest deluded.

On the death of Saadut Khan, his two nephews,

♦ Mr. Elphinstone, noticing the many others which are beHeved iu

current story of Saadut Khan's times of agitation, disappear when

death, and of his and Asoph Jah's full hght is thrown on the period."

(Nizam-ool-Moolk) having called in We regret to say that this " full

Nadir, observes, " these fictions, like light" has yet to appear.

G 2


Sher Jung and Sufder Jung, each applied to the all-
powerful Nadir Shah for the investiture of Oude : the
petition of the latter, who had married Saadut Khan's
daughter, heing backed by the Hindoo vakeel of the
late Viceroy, with an oifer of a nuzzur of two millions
sterling, he was of course invested wdth the Govern-
ment.* Nawab Sufder Jung was accounted an able
ruler; for a time he sustained the tottering authority
of the King of Delhi. In the year 1743 his son
Shoojah-oo-dowlah was married to the Bhow Begum,
who, in after days, became so conspicuous in Anglo-Oude
annals. On Nadir Shah's death, Ahmed Shah Abdalli
seized the throne of Affghanistan, invaded India, and
killed the Yizier Kumer-ood-deen Khan at Sirhind.
At this juncture Sufder Jung distinguished himself
by his zeal and ability. Mahommed Shah the emperor
of Delhi dying shortly after, his son Ahmed Shah
appointed Sufder Jung to the post of Vizier; that
nobleman also retaining his viceroy alty of Oude. The
first design of the new Vizier was, in 1746, against
the Eohillahs, who w^ere troublesome neighbours to his
Oude viceroyalty. The period w^as favourable to his
views ; for Ali Mahommed, the founder of the Eohillah
family, was dead, and Sufder Jung induced Kaim
Khan f Bungush, the Affghan chief of Purruckabad,
to conduct the war against his countrymen. Kaim
Khan fell in the cause of his ally, who, in return,
plundered his widow and seized the family jagheer,
giving a pension to Ahmed Khan, the brother of the
deceased chief. The Vizier made over his new acquisi-
tion, with the province of Oude, to his deputy Eajah
Newul Eoy, and himself proceeded to Delhi.

♦ Indian historians generally call be the correct version,

these two millions cash taken from f The fine village, or rather town,

►saadut Khan, but, after comparing of Kaimgunje, in Furruckabad, is

many authorities, we believe ours to called after the old chief.


It was not long before Sufder Jung tasted tlie bitter
fruits of his own tyranny and ingratitude : the train
of disaffection was laid, and a spark soon kindled it.

An Affglian woman of the Afredi tribe, who gained
her livelihood by spinning thread, was maltreated by
a Hindoo soldier of Newul Eoy. She went direct
to Ahmed Khan, the Vizier's pensioner, and crying
for justice, exclaimed, '' Cursed be thy turban, Ahmed
Khan, who permittest an Afredi woman to be thus
treated by a Kaffir. It had been better that God had
given thy father a daughter than such a son as thou."
Ahmed Khan was roused ; in concert with bolder
spirits, he plundered a rich merchant, and with the
funds thus procured, raised an army, killed the Kotwal
of Furruckabad, seized the city, and, within a month,
was in possession of that whole district. Rajah Newul
Boy, who was a brave man, came to the rescue from
Lucknow, was met near the Kalinuddy, by the Affghan
army, defeated, and slain. The victors crossed the
Ganges and were soon in possession of the whole vice-
royalty of Oude. Sufder Jung, on hearing of the
disaster that had befallen his lieutenant, assembled
a large army, estimated in the chronicles of the day
at 250,000 men, and, accompanied by Sooruj Mul, the
Jaut chief of Bhurtpoor, moved against Ahmed Khan,
who came out to meet him, at the head of a very
inferior force, but, by a sudden attack on the wing
of the army commanded by the Vizier himself, wounded
him and drove him from the field. His troops, ob-
serving that their commander's elephant had left
the field, fled in confusion, and left Ahmed Khan
undisputed master of the provinces of Oude and
Allahabad. The Affghans had fought bravely, but
they could not agree among themselves. Dissensions


arose in Oude, and after a brief struggle the late con-
querors were expelled the country.

Sufder Jung, as unscrupulous as the other leaders of
the day, called in the Mahrattas to his support, and
with an immense force again marched against Ahmed
Khan, who, alarmed at the formidable aspect of affairs,
forgave the Eohillah chiefs the death of his brother,
and entered into a treaty of mutual defence with them.
Unable to meet the Vizier in the field, Ahmed Khan
crossed the Granges, and fell back on his Eohillah con-
federates, who, giving v/ay to their fears, abandoned
the open country, and allowed themselves to be
hemmed in under the Kumaon mountains. There they
were reduced to such straits that a pound of flesh was
sold for a pound sterling. Terms were at length
granted, and the Mahrattas returned to their country
loaded with the plunder of Eohilcund, and their leaders
enriched by two and a half millions of subsidy. Sufder
Jung was so far a gainer that he not only humbled,
but crippled his Affghan opponents.

Factions soon arose at Delhi, and the Vizier was
often sore pressed, and put to many shifts to retain
his authority. The Queen mother was enamoured of
an eunuch, of the name of Jawid, who, supported by
the King as well as his mother, sought to supplant
the Vizier during his absence in Eohilcund. Sufder
Jung, on his return to Delhi, settled the dispute by
inviting the eunuch to a feast, and there causing him
to be assassinated. The King was enraged at this act,
and employed Ghazi-ood-deen to avenge it. This
youth was the grandson of Mzam-ool-Moolk, and had
been brought forward by the Vizier himself. After
some intriguing and bullying with varied result, the
Vizier withdrew to his viceroyalty, and his rival assumed


the functions of the vizarut. 'No sooner had Sufder
Jung retired, than the pageant King found that in
his new minister Ghazee-ood-deen he had saddled
himself with a hard master. Hoping to escape from
this yoke, he wrote to recall his late Yizier; but the
letter found Sufder Jung dying ; and Grhazee-ood-deen,
on hearing of the effort thus made to supplant him,
caused both the King and his mother to be blinded,
and raised one of the Princes of the blood to the throne,
under the title of Alumgeer the Second.

Shoojah-oo-dowlah, the son of Sufder Jung, had been
brought forward during his father's lifetime, and on
his death was placed on the musnud of Oude, now
become hereditary in the family of Saadut Khan. A
rival to Shoojah-oo-dowlah, however, arose in the person
of his cousin, Mahommed Kooli Khan, the Governor of
Allahabad, whose pretensions were unsuccessfully sup-
ported by Ishmael Khan Kaboolee, the chief military
adherent of the late Viceroy.

Ahmed Shah Abdallee on his third invasion of India
in 1756, after capturing Delhi, sent Ghazee-ood-deen,
the Vizier of the so-called Great Mogul, to raise a
contribution on Oude. No sooner had the Abdallee
retired, than the Vizier called in the Mahrattas, upset
all the arrangements made by Ahmed Shah, and, in
concert with his new allies, who had not only captured
the imperial city of Delhi, but had overrun a great
portion of the Punjab, planned the reduction of Oude,
Alarmed at the threatened danger, Shoojah-oo-dowlah
entered into a confederacy with the hereditary enemies
of his family, the Eohillahs, and when the Mahrattas
invaded Rohilcund, carrying desolation in their path,
and destroying thirteen hundred villages in little more
than a month, Shoojah-oo-dowlah came to the rescue,
surprised the camp of Sindea, the Mahratta commander,


and drove him across the Ganges. Ahmed Shah was
at this time making his fourth descent on Hindoostan,
and called on the Mahommedan chiefs to join his
standard against the Mahrattas. The Eohillahs did
so, bnt Shoojah-oo-dowlah hesitated between tlie two
evils of AfFghan and Mahratta enmity. A move on
Anopshnhnr, on the Oude frontier, made by the Abdali,
determined the choice of Shoojah, who, however, while
he professedly joined the AfFghan, kept up close com-
munication with the Mahrattas. Throughout the
battle of Panneput, which took place in January, 1761,
the Oude ruler continued to temporize, holding his
ground, but taking as little part in the action as
possible. The entire success of either party was con-
trary to his views. He desired a balance of power,
which would check a universal monarchy, either Hindoo
or AfFghan.

We must here retrace our steps. In the year 1758,
when the wretched Emperor, Alumgeer the Second, was
in daily danger of death from his own Yizier, Ghazee-
ood-deen, he connived at the escape from Delhi of his
heir. Prince Alee-gohur (afterwards Shah Alum), who,
after seeking an asylum in various quarters, was honour-
ably received by Shoojah-oo-dowlah and by the kinsman
of the latter, Mahommed Kooli Khan, the Governor of
Allahabad. Thus supported, and having received from
his own father the investiture of the government of
Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, Prince Alee-gohur crossed
the Caramnassa river, with a design of expelling the
English and their puppet, Nawab Jafher Ali. At the
head of a motley band of adventurers, the Prince ap-
peared before Patna ; and, so ill was that place supplied,
that he might have taken it, had not his principal
officer, Mahommed Kooli Khan, suddenly left him,
in the hope of recovering the fort of Allahabad, which


had "been treaclieronsly seized by his kinsman Shoojah.
Alee-gohur was now obliged to relinquish his attempt ;
but, two years after (in 1760), though driven, in the
interval, to the greatest distress for the very necessaries
of life, he was again contemplating an attempt on
Bengal, when his father was put to death, — another
victim to the sanguinary Ghazee-ood-deen. The Prince,
assuming the vacant title of emperor, appointed Shoo-
jah-oo-dowlah his Yizier, with a view of securing the
support of that noble ; and now appeared again as Shah

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 7 of 39)