Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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declared he had no personal dislike for the man he so
repeatedly removed, and much respect for his conduct ;
but "the creature Bristow" (as on one occasion Mr.
Hastings registered him) was odious in his eyes, inas-
much as that gentleman's appointment to Lucknow was
a standing proof of his own discomfiture in Council.
The Governor-Greneral hated him accordingly, and few
men loved or hated as did Warren Hastings.

This double explanation is requisite as a clue to the
proceedings we have next to record. In the year
1780-1, the finances of the Company were in a most
disastrous condition. The authorities had reckoned on
certain sums from the Yizier, and were disappointed.
Mr. Hastings, therefore, determined, himself to proceed
to Lucknow. In August, 1781, the Governor- General
reached Benares when the outbreak occurred, provoked
by his arbitrary proceedings against Eajah Cheyt Sing.
During these transactions, Mr. Hastings, as usual,
evinced great courage, the ISTawab great fidelity. The
latter joined Mr. Hastings in September at Cliunar,
when he contrived to convert the Governor- General from
a violent and imperious taskmaster into a warm advocate.
For two years the ^Nawab's remonstrances and entreaties
had been treated with contempt or indifierence : they
were now listened to and complied with, and for a brief
space he was treated with respect. An arrangement was
efiected that led to the withdraval of the temporary bri-
gade and three regiments of cavalry, leaving only one
brigade and one regiment to be paid by the Vizier.
He was also allowed to resume all jageers, giving cash
for certain estates guaranteed by the Company; all
British officers were also withdrawn ; and sanction was
given to plunder the two Begums, the wife and mother


of Shoojali-oo-dowlah, though, as already observed, one
of them had been previously guaranteed by Mr. Bristow.
The result of the several " arrangements was, an imme-
diate supply of fifty-five lakhs of ready money to the
Company, and a stipulation for the payment of an addi-
tional twenty lakhs, to complete the Hquidation of his
debt to them."

Approving entirely of the decrease of the Nawab's
permanent burthen thus efiected, we cannot too strongly
reprobate the mode by which he was authorized, and
indeed eventually urged, to raise present funds. Mr.
Hastings' defenders vindicate his proceedings towards
the Begums, on the ground that these ladies abetted
Cheyt Singh's rebellion, and that they had no right to
the treasure they possessed. The latter statement is
true. One wrong, however, does not justify another !
What had been granted and guaranteed, even wrong-
fully, should have been respected. The falsity of the
first plea has been frequently shown. We need not,
therefore, here repeat the evidence. If any justification
for the Grovernor-Greneral is to be found in the fact, it is
true that he was at this time put to his wits' end for
cash. As the Court of Directors importimed him, so he
pressed the Oude Grovernment. Such was his anxiety
on the subject that in May, 1782, he deputed his se-
cretary. Major Palmer, to Lucknow, with the express
object of realizing the arrears of subsidy. The mission
gave such offence to Mr. Middleton that he resigned
his appointment ; and to add to the Governor- Greneral's
dif&culties, his own special Agent allowed himself to be
talked over and stultified by the Oude Officials.

Large as was the balance due, the Major was per-
suaded into believing that the sheet was clear; and
instead of enforcing old claims he listened to offers of a
loan. Mr. Hastings was much provoked both at the


gullibility of Major Palmer and at Mr. MiddletOns
abandonment of his post in his (the Governor-General's)
difficulty. He wrote to Mr. M. in severe terms ; and
on the 10th August, 1782, addressed Hyder Beg, the
Oude Minister, under his own hand, in a most extra-
ordinary letter, considering it to be addressed to the
minister of a sovereign possessing a shadow of indepen-
dence. After telling Hyder Beg that he owed his
position to him (the Governor- General) and that he had
been disappointed in him, he added, "I now plainly
tell you that you are answerable for every misfortune
and defect of the Nawab Vizier's Government." He
then demanded that the balance due to the Company
should be liquidated by the end of the year, or threat-
ened that Hyder Beg should be made over to the tender
mercies of his master, for the examination of his
conduct. Hyder Beg understood full well the process
by which the examination of the conduct of disgraced
ministers was conducted in Oude as elsewhere. Strin-
gent, however, as were the measures taken, they did not
realize the subsidy. They did not effect Mr. Hastings'
wishes, but they did much to upset the authority of the
Nawab in his own territory.

Mr. Hastings had very correct abstract notions on
the subject of interference. His practice and theory
were, however, sadly at variance. When money was
wanted for the Company, he stuck at nothing. His
two nominees, Middleton and Palmer, had failed him ;
and he now, in despair, re-appointed the Company's
protege, Mr. Bristow, arming him with the most
extensive authority. The new Agent was informed
that " The Eesident must be the slave and vassal of
the Minister, or the Minister at the absolute devotion
of the Eesident * * it will be necessary to declare to
him (the minister) in the plainest terms, the footing


and conditions on which he shall be permitted to retain
his place; with the alternative of dismission, and a
scrutiny into his past conduct, if he refuses." Mr.
Bristow was further told that he was to " control the
appointment of officers, nay, peremptorily to oppose
it," when he (the Eesident) considered opposition in
any case advisable. In the face, however, of such
instructions, Mr. Hastings was not ashamed, in October,
1783, to thus characterize the Besident's conduct: —
" Mr. Bristow, after an ineffectual attempt to draw the
minister Hyder Beg into a confederacy with him to
usurp all the powers of the Government, proceeded to
an open assumption of them to himself." And, on the
strength of this shameless allegation, Mr. Bristow was,
for the third time, removed.

Unable to realize his views by proxy, Mr. Hastings,
in March, 1784, again visited Lucknow, where he re-
mained five months, during which time he effected
the liquidation of a further portion of the Vizier's debt,
removed another detachment of troops, restored a por-
tion of the confiscated jageers, and endeavoured to
put the Oude affairs into some sort of order. At
Benares, on his return, he addressed the home Govern-
ment in these prophetic words : — " If new demands are
raised on the Yizier, and accounts overcharged on one
side, with a wide latitude taken on the other to swell
his debts beyond the means of payment : if political
dangers are portended, on which to ground the plea of
burthening his country with unnecessary defences and
enormous subsidies, the results would be fatal." Mr.
Hastings knew how wide a latitude he had himself
taken, " to swell the Nawab's" debts beyond the means
of payment, and judging of the future by the past,
he concluded that another Governor-General might
arise who, portending political dangers, would make


them "the plea of burthening his (viz. the Viziers)
country with unnecessary defences and enormous sub-
sidies," In short, Warren Hastings foretold, in 1784,
exactly what occurred in 1801.

We have entered somewhat fully into the occurrences
of Mr. Hastings' administration, as they gave their
colouring to the British connection with Oude.

When Lord Cornwallis assumed the government
of India, the Oude minister, Hyder Beg, was sent to
wait on his Lordship. The negotiations that ensued
were concluded on the 21st July, 1787, by a treaty,
relieving the Yizier from certain balances still due;
and declaring him in all respects independent within
his own territory. The letter of the Governor- General
contained the following remarkable paragraph : — " It is
my firm intention not to embarrass you with further
expense than that incurred by the Company from their
connection with your Excellency, and for the protection
of your country, which, by the accounts, I find amounts
to fifty lakhs of Fyzabad rupees per year.- It is my
intention, from the date of this agreement, that your
Excellency shall not be charged with any excess on
this sum, and that no further demand shall be made;
any additional aid by the Company is to be supplied
on a fair estimate."

The abuses of the Oude Government repeatedly
attracted the attention of Lord Cornwallis and Sir John
Shore. Both were anxious to effect some reform, but
were deterred by the difficulty of interfering with any
good effect. At length the Vizier's extravagance and
debauchery brought affairs into such terrific disorder
that, in the year 1797, Sir John Shore proceeded to
Lucknow. His visit, however, had a double purpose.
The ostensible, and we hope chief design, was to give
the Nawab good advice, but his Highness was also


to be supplied witli a minister, and another pull was
to be made at his purse-strings. The Company had
resolved to strengthen their cavalry, and, in the face of
Lord Cornwallis's treaty, it was thought convenient
to make the Nawab bear a portion of the increased
expenses attendant on this augmentation. The helpless
Vizier consented, stipulating that the charge should
not exceed five and a half lakhs per annum, to pay the
expenses of two regiments. The Grovernor-General
took some credit to himself, that in this transaction he
had talked and not dragooned the Nawab into con-
cession. There was more difficulty in efiecting a change
of ministry. The Grovernor-General consented that
the eunuch Almas should be appointed, but just as he
had given his sanction, he discovered an order by Lord
Comwallis against the employment of that person.
The Nawab, debarred from the selection of his own
favourites, at length consented to receive Tufuzzel
Hoosein, a learned, able, and we believe respectable,
man, who then held the office of Oude Yakeel in Cal-
cutta. It was, however, a sore trial of the honesty of
that minister to be thus brought from Calcutta, and
forced upon his Sovereign by the Lord paramount.
Had Sir John Shore been as experienced in human
nature as he was in revenue details, and in Indian
politics, he would not have thus introduced the new
minister to the Nawab directly as the creature of the
British Government.

Scarcely had the Grovernor-Greneral left Lucknow,
when the Vizier died, and the disposal of the vice-
royalty of Oude was in the hands of a simple English
gentleman. As in another paper ^ we have fully con-
sidered the claims of Vizier Ali, and described the
process by which he was put up and put down, we
* " Calcutta Keview," No. 1 ; — Article " Lord Teignmouth."


need not here repeat the story. But we are bound
to record even more emphatically than before, our
opinion that Vizier Ali was unjustly treated. The plea
of his spurious birth would not, by Mahommedan law,
have interfered with his succession ; and never would
have weighed with the English authorities had he not
rendered himself obnoxious to them by desiring to
degrade Tufuzzel Hoosein the minister, who was con-
sidered " as the representative of the English influence."
Tufuzzel Hoosein met Sir John Shore on his way
to Lucknow with all sorts of stories about the violence
and debauchery of the Lord Vizier Ali, but the Grovernor-
Greneral seemed to forget that this report might be
biassed by personal motives; perhaps, too, he was
unaware that Tufuzzel Hoosein had been the tutor
of Saadut Ali, and even during Asoph-ood-dowlah's
life was suspected of intriguing in favour of the Vizier's
brother. But enough; Vizier Ali was degraded after
a few weeks' enjoyment of authority, and Saadut Ali
was raised to the musnud. New terms were of course
dictated to the new Prince. It was no time for making
objections. The treaty was signed; and protected
by British bayonets, the new Nawab entered his ca-
pital. The ex-ruler, similarly guarded, was removed
to Benares.

The treaty thus made was signed on the 21st Feb.,
1798. It raised the subsidy from fifty-six to seventy-
six lakhs, and provided for the discharge of all arrears.
The fortress of Allahabad was ceded, and the sum
of eight lakhs of rupees made over for its repairs.
Three lakhs were likewise given for the repairs of
Euttyghur, and twelve lakhs more were to be paid
for the expenses incurred in the late revolution. The
Nawab, moreover, agreed to reduce his establishments,
and to consult, as to the manner of doing so, with the


British Govemment. No Europeans were to "be
allowed to settle in Oude, and no political relations
were to exist without the knowledge of the British
Grovernment. In return for all this, the British gua-
ranteed Oude, and agreed to maintain for its defence not
less than ten thousand men. If it should at any time
be necessary to increase the number of troops beyond
thirteen thousand, the Nawab was to pay the expense ;
if they could be reduced below eight thousand, a
suitable reduction of the subsidy was to be allowed.

The advantages accruing to the Company from this
arrangement are manifest ; it not only gave them
possession of Allahabad, but it increased the subsidy
twenty lakhs, and defined, though not distinctly, to
what extent the subsidy might be lightened or increased.
Unfortunately it left the time quite undetermined,
and on this omission were based the unwarrantable
demands made by the next Governor- General in 1801.
What will perhaps most strike the English reader of
Sir John Shore's treaty is, the entire omission of the
sHghtest provision for the good government of Oude.
The people seemed as it were sold to the highest bidder.
Vizier Ali was young, dissolute, and needy : Saadut
Ali was middle-aged, known to be prudent, and believed
to be rich. Being of penurious habits, he had, even
on his petty allowances as a younger son, amassed
several lakhs of rupees ; and, in short, was a more
promising sponge to squeeze than his nephew. From
the general tenor of Sir John Shore's life, we believe
that his heart was in the right place, though this his
last diplomatic transaction, might, if taken alone, lead
us to a different conclusion. Wherever his heart was,
his head at least must have been wool-gathering. He
set a bad precedent. He made the musnud of Oude
a mere transferable property in the hands of the British


Grovemor, and he left the people of Oude at the mercy
of a shackled and guaranteed ruler. This may have
been liberality, but it was liberality of a very spurious
sort. Much as we admire Lord Teignmouth's domestic
character, we are obliged entirely to condemn the whole
tenor of his Oude negotiations. Historians have
hitherto let him down lightly, but his Lordship must
be judged by the same standard as other public officers ;
by the right or by the wrong that he committed, and
not by his supposed motives, or his private character.

A Governor- Greneral of far different calibre succeeded.
One of the first objects of the Marquis Wellesley, on
his assumption of the Government of India, was the
reformation, or rather the reduction of the Oude Army,
and the substitution in their stead of a British force.
The Nawab set his face against the measure. The
Governor- General was not to be thus baffled. Early
in 1799, he applied for the services of the Adjutant-
General of the army, Colonel Scott, an able and respect-
able, but austere man. In the first instance he was
placed at the service of Mr. Lumsden, the Eesident, but
the latter gentleman was shortly after recalled, and
the appointment bestowed on Colonel Scott. So
stringent were the measures now taken, that Saadut
Ali threatened to resign the musnud. It was but
a threat, and intended to alarm or to mollify his per-
secutors. The Governor- General, however, seized upon
the words, and putting his own constructions on them,
insisted on their literal fulfilment; adding a proviso,
which, at any rate, the Nawab had never contemplated,
that on his abdication, the East India Company should
inherit the pf^Kipality of Oude, to the injury of his
own children. Much disgraceful altercation ensued.
The Governor- General returned the Nawab's remon-
strances with angry and threatening remarks ; insisted


on the immediate execution of his orders, and finally-
marched the British troops into Oude without sanction
of the nominal ruler. The Eesident issued orders to
the district oflBicers to receive and provide for the
English battalions, and was obeyed. Saadut Ali now
felt himself within the iron grasp of a power that could
crush him, and made the most abject appeals for mercy.
The Grovernor-Greneral, however, seized this opportunity
for carrying out his own views. Eeferring to the
Nawab's previous statements regarding the inefficiency
of his army and their danger to himself rather than to
an enemy, Lord Wellesley insisted on its reduction,
and the reception, in its stead, of a force of twelve
battalions of British infantry, and four regiments of
Cavalry. A large portion of the Oude troops were
accordingly disbanded, and so judiciously was this re-
duction managed by Colonel Scott, that not a single
disturbance ensued.

The Nawab finding himself once more secure on his
uneasy throne, had time to reflect how he was to bear
the increased burthen laid upon him. His predecessor
had been put to continued shifts to discharge the subsidy
of fifty lakhs : he had, himself, by better economy, con-
trived to pay seventy-six lakhs, but how was he now
to meet the further demand of fifty-four lakhs, to set
against which there was only a diminished expenditure
of sixteen and a half lakhs caused by the reduction
of a portion of his army ? He accordingly declared his
entire inability to pay the required sum. The Governor-
Greneral wanted just such a declaration. He made it
an excuse for the dismemberment of the Principality,
and proceeded to carry out the finance arrangements
with as little delicacy as had been shewn in effecting
the military alterations. Mr. Henry Wellesley was
deputed as Commissioner to Lucknow, and in concert
with the Eesident, dictated the cessions that were


to be made when the former, in virtue of his office as
Lieutenant-Governor of the ceded districts, made the
primary arrangements for their management. The
lands thus extorted were, at the time, estimated to
be worth 1,35,23,474 rupees per annum. We have had
occasion at the commencement of these remarks to show
that they must now yield double that sum.

Lord Wellesley's conduct in this transaction was
most despotic. As a wise statesman he judged rightly
that the subsidy to his Government was better secured
by a territorial cession than by a bond for cash payment ;
but, in extorting the former, literally at the point of the
bayonet, and at the same time nearly doubling the
subsidy, he shut his eyes to the most obvious rules
of justice.

This treaty, which was signed on the 10th September,
1801, left the Nawab shorn of the best half of his
territory ; we may easily judge in what spirit he pre-
pared to introduce " an improved system of adminis-
tration with the advice and assistance of the British
Government^ into the remainder. Such were the vague
terms of the only stipulation contained in the present
treaty, for the benefit of the people. We need hardly
add that it remained a dead letter. This may have
been only a negative evil ; but a similar looseness
of expression in Sir John Shore's treaty admitted of
more positive perversion. We allude to the provision,
that when it should be necessary to increase the con-
tingent beyond 13,000 men, the IsTawab should pay
the expense. Sir John Malcolm more shrewdly than
honestly observes, that if there was any meaning in
the provision, it left the British Government to judge
when the necessity should arise, and how long it should
continue. The Marquis Wellesley did not hesitate to
consider that time to be when Oude had just escaped
invasion by Zeman Shah, and the period to last/(?f ever.


There -was danger from Zeman Shall ; no one who reads
the history of those times attentively can deny the fact.
The state of the Oude army, the position of Sindea, and
the advance of Zeman Shah called for arrangements for
the defence of Oude. But the truth is, that almost
as soon as the tidings of Shah Zeman's approach
reached the British authorities, the danger had passed
away. Sir James Craig stated before Parliament :
" The first certain accounts we had were, I believe,
in September or October — I rather think October
(1798);" and again, "The accounts of the Shah
returning from Lahore, which may be considered as
his abandonment of his enterprise, reached Anopshere
in January 1799." Thus the knowledge of the danger
lasted, at the farthest, five months. Arrangements
were made as quickly as possible to meet the invasion ;
and extra troops were kept in Oude from November,
1798, until November, 1799, being ten montlis after the
Shah's retirement, and a special charge of more than
thirty-eight lakhs of rupees was made to cover their
expenses. This was all fair and proper. It was right
that the sum expended should be charged ; but surely
there is no excuse for adding to the above contingent
charge a fixed annual demand of fifty-four lakhs to
cover a danger that no longer existed, and which, from
that day to the present, now forty-five years, has never
arisen. The claim was clearly opposed to the spirit of
Sir John Shore's treaty, and to both the spirit and
letter of that of Lord Cornwallis.

One of the earliest evils resulting from Lord Welles-
ley's arbitrary measures was, that the Eesident became
personally obnoxious to the Nawab. Colonel Scott
was a man whose character passed unscathed through
an ordeal of the strictest inquiry, both in and out of
Parliament; but Saadut Ali could only be expected


to see in him the instrument of disbanding a large
portion of his own army — that chief symbol of Oriental
sovereignty — the agent who had arranged the forced
cession of the best half of his territory. Thus circum-
stanced, Colonel Scott could hardly be an acceptable
ambassador, and in fact, was rather deemed a hard
taskmaster. Unfortunately his manner had in it
nothing to compensate for the matter of the invidious
duties imposed on him. Habituated to military details,
and late in life called on to negotiate delicate questions
of diplomacy and civil administration. Colonel Scott
performed his disagreeable task rather with the bluff-
ness of the military martinet, than with the suavity of
the accomplished diplomatist. He carried out his
orders honestly, but harshly. He effected the views
of Grovernment regarding the Oude army, as well as,
perhaps better than, any other officer of the day could
have done ; but there his services ended. He did
nothing for the improvement of the country. He was
rather an obstacle in its way. The Nawab having a
reduced field of action, secure from personal danger,
and hemmed in by British bayonets, screwed his
wretched people. The Eesident was not only unable to
prevent these oppressions, but by the provisions of the
treaty was compelled to be the instrument in their
execution. Year after year were British troops seen
throughout Oude realizing the revenues, enforcing the
most obnoxious orders, and rendering nugatory to the
oppressed their last refuge, military opposition. Great
as was the interference in Asoph-ood-dowlah's time,
it was now much greater. In former times the pressure
of the Eesident' s authority was occasional, and on
specific questions, and was chiefly felt at Lucknow ; the
incubus was now a dead weight bearing down the
provinces, as well as the capital. The Nawab was also


as much vexed and irritated as ever by the presence
and conduct of the Eesident, by his interference in
favour of, or in opposition to, persons and things in the
very capital.

Such conduct, however, at this time tended less than
formerly to weaken the ruler's power. The British
army was now believed to be at the beck of the Oude
Government to support its revenue arrangements.

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 9 of 39)