Vincent Arthur Smith.

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was recorded that ' no native of India, nor any natural-born
subject of His Majesty, should be disabled from holding any
place, office, or employment by reason of his religion, place of
birth, descent, or colour '. As everybody knows, the liberty
so granted was confirmed by Queen Victoria's Proclamation
in 1858 and has been freely used. Two Indians now sit on
the Secretary of State's Council, which takes the place of the
Secret Committee of the Court of Directors under Pitt's
India Act and subsequent charters.

Eminent men of the period. The review of Lord William
Bentinck's memorable administration may be closed by men-
tioning the names of some of the illustrious men, British and
Indian, who adorned the period. The Indian career of
Mountstuart Elphinstone ended in the year of Lord William's
arrival, when he was succeeded as Governor of Bombay by
Sir John Malcolm. Elphinstone's history of India during the
Muhammadan period, although no longer adequate, has not
yet been superseded, and Malcolm's account of Central India
and other works are still standard authorities. James Prinsep
laid the foundation for the scientific study of Indian anti-
quities and early history ; Horace Hayman Wilson and other
scholars handed on the torch of Sanskrit learning received
from the hands of Sir William Jones and Colebrooke. Colonel
James Tod, author of the inimitable Annals of BajastJian,
retired in 1823 and died twelve years later. Another famous
historian of the period is Grant Duff, who told the story of
the Marat has in a work which ranks as an original authority.
1 Afterwards restored.


His namesake, the Rev. Alexander Duff, was one of many
eminent missionaries who were the pioneers of education in
India. Raja Rammohan Rai, the founder of the Brahmo
Samaj, died in England in 1833 ; and Isvar Chandra Gupta,
editor of a Bengali newspaper in 1830, is famous as a poet
in his mother tongue.

Sir Charles Metcalfe and the press. The short term of office
of Sir Charles Metcalfe, one of the ablest of the Company's
servants, who held charge pending the arrival of Lord William
Bentinck's successor, is memorable for the Act repealing all
restrictions on the press, which at that time was almost wholly
confined to Calcutta and in European hands. The censor-
ship, introduced during the French wars in order to prevent
communication of intelligence to the enemy, was withdrawn
in 1818 by Lord Hastings, and replaced by the issue of rules,
which editors were required to obey. Mr. Adam, who
deported the editor of the Calcutta Journal, made the rules
more stringent. Lord William Bentinck, while making no
change of system and maintaining that the press should be
subject to ' rigid control ', ordinarily allowed the journalists
a free hand. Sir Charles Metcalfe, believing in absolute
freedom, passed an Act applicable to the whole of India,
removing all checks on the press. Recent experience having
shown the dangers of ' the liberty of unlicensed printing ',
both the Government of India and the protected States have
been obliged to reimpose certain restrictions.


Lords Auckland, Ellenborough, and Hardingc : first Afghan war ; conquest
of Sind ; war with Sindia ; first Sikh war.

Lord Auckland ; first Afghan war. Changes in the English
Ministry caused some delay in choosing a successor to Lord
William Bontinck. Ultimately the choice fell on Lord Auck-
land, a respectable Whig politician, who arrived in Calcutta
on March 5, 1837. He proved himself, in my judgement, the
weakest and most mischievous of the Governors-General. On

FROM 1761 TO 1858 313

more than one occasion he showed a disregard for honest,
truthful dealing. In Lord Minto's time, when Napoleon was
at the height of his power and the Tsar of Russia was his
humble servant, embassies had been sent from Calcutta to
Kabul, Sind, and Persia with the object of securing the North-
western frontier against French ambition working through
Russian agency. When Lord Auckland came out, Napoleon
was dead, French dreams of interference in the affairs of Asia
had vanished, and Russia had recovered freedom of action. 1
She had used that freedom on her own behalf to extend her
dominion in Central Asia to the east of the Caspian Sea and
to acquire a commanding influence at the court of Persia. The
Russian advance was regarded by some politicians in both
England and India as a menace to India, and when the Persians
besieged Herat, Lord Auckland was much alarmed. He came
to the conclusion, in agreement with Lord Palmerston and
other Ministers in England, that the best way to check Russia
was to support Shah Shuja, then living as an exile in the Panjab
(ante, p. 294), in his claim to the Afghan throne, at that time
occupied by Dost Muhammad Barakzai, who was believed to
be under Russian influence. In 1838 a ' tripartite treaty '
was drawn up between the Government of India, Shah Shuja,
and Ranjit Singh, and an army was sent into Afghanistan.
The troops advanced through both the Bolan and Khyber Passes
with great difficulty, and occupied Kandahar, Ghazm, and
Kabul. Dost Muhammad surrendered, and Shah Shuja was
enthroned. But the Afghans did not want him, and in 1841
they rose, murdered Sir William Macnaghten, the Political
Agent, and forced the British out of Kabul. The English
commanders and political officers were incompetent, the troops
lost heart, and in January, 1842, the entire Kabul force of
about 15,000 souls, including followers, when trying to retire
through the Khyber Pass, was utterly destroyed, excepting
about 120 prisoners and one officer, Dr. Brydon, who made his

1 Napoleon died at St. Helena in 1821, having been confined in the island
since 1815.


way, wounded and exhausted, to Jalalabad, where General
Sale held out.

Lord Ellenborough ; the avenging army. After this disaster,
the worst which has ever befallen the British in India, Lord
Auckland was relieved in the ordinary course by Lord Ellen-
borough. With some hesitation he sanctioned the advance
of General Nott from Kandahar and General Pollock through
the Khyber to Kabul. The great bazaar there was blown up,
the prisoners were recovered, and the avenging army returned
to India. Meantime Shah Shuja had been killed, and the
Government of India wisely resolved not to meddle any more
in Afghanistan. Dost Muhammad was allowed to return to
the vacant throne without conditions, and retained it until his
death at a great age in 1863. Everybody is now agreed that
the policy of Lord Auckland and Lord Palmerston was mis-
taken. Lord Ellenborough welcomed the returning army with
unbecoming festivities and boastful proclamations, which pro-
duced an unfavourable impression in India and Europe.

Conquest of Sind. The Governor-General, who was dis-
satisfied with the Amirs of Sind for their conduct during the
Afghan war, was anxious to annex that province, and his
sentiments were shared by his agent, Sir Charles Napier, who
conducted the negotiations with the chiefs in a provocative
spirit, which goaded the people into open hostility. In
February, 1843, the Residency was attacked by a mob of
Balochis, and war began. The Amirs having been defeated
in a fiercely contested battle at Miani, near Hyderabad, and
in other fights, the country was annexed and subsequently
attached to the Presidency of Bombay. The military opera-
tions were well managed, but the crooked policy which led to
the war cannot be justified. The annexation was followed by
mutinies of the sepoy regiments stationed in the province,
which were dealt with in a feeble fashion.

Gwalior affairs. About the same time trouble arose in
Gwalior, owing to the death of Jankaji Sindia without issue.
A son having been adopted by the widow, Tara Bai, a regent

FROM 1761 TO 1858 315

was appointed with the sanction of the Government of
India. Palace intrigues expelled the regent, and the Resident
was obliged to withdraw. The peace of the country being
threatened by the arrogance of the Gwalior army, which was
too strong for the state, Lord Ellenborough and the Com-
mander-in-Chief , Sir Hugh Gough, brought up troops as a pre-
caution, and demanded the reduction of the local force.
Negotiations failed, and the inevitable conflict took place at
Maharajpur, near Gwalior (December 29, 1843). The army
of Sindia was defeated after a hard fight, and on the same day
another battle took place at Paniar. The requisite steps were
then taken to ensure the subordination of the Gwalior state to
the paramount power, but no territory was annexed.

Sir Henry Hardinge (Lord Hardinge). The Directors, with
good reason, being dissatisfied with Lord Ellenborough's
conduct of affairs, recalled him, and appointed in his place
Sir Henry Hardinge, a distinguished military officer, who was
fifty -nine years of age, and, like all his predecessors, came out
as the friend of peace. But, like most of them, he found his
business to be not peace but war. From the moment of his
arrival he was compelled to take precautions against the
threatening attitude of the Sikh army in the Panjab, and to
strengthen the garrisons on the frontier.

The Sikhs after Ranjit Singh's death. When Ranjit Singh
died in 1839, during the Afghan war, he was nominally suc-
ceeded by his imbecile son , Kharak Singh. A series of intrigues
and murders ensued, resulting in the proclamation as Maharaja
of Dilip (Dhuleep) Singh, a child five years of age, falsely
reputed to be a son of Ranjit Singh. But all real authority
was in the hands of the panchayats, or committees, com-
manding the powerful army of the Khalsa, as the Sikh com-
munity was called. At last the Ram, the mother of Dilip
Singh, and two of her friends, Lai Singh and Tej Singh, were
constrained to tempt the army which was beyond their control
by holding out the promise of the plunder of Delhi, and to
give the order to cross the Sutlaj. Early in December, 1845,


a force of 60,000 Sikhs, with numerous camp-followers and
guns, crossed the river, the boundary fixed by Lord Minto in
1809, and so declared war.

The Sutlaj campaign : four battles, 1845-6. On December 18,
1845, the British army, taken by surprise and attacked at
Mudki (Moodkee), was victorious, but at a heavy cost. Three
days later, the same force, strengthened by fresh troops,
attacked the Sikh entrenchments at Ferozeshah (properly
Pharushahr), in the Flr5zpur district about twelve miles
from the Sutlaj. The battle lasted for two days, and after a
desperate struggle, in which the British army lost 2,415 in
killed and wounded, the entrenchments were carried and the
Sikhs compelled to retreat. In this battle the Governor-
General, in order to encourage the men, chivalrously served as
second in command to Sir Hugh Gough, the Commander-in-
Chief . Five of his aides-de-camp were killed and four wounded.
A few days later a third battle was fought at Aliwal in the
Ludiana district, and again the Sikhs were worsted. The
fourth and final struggle took place at Sobraon on the bank of
the Sutlaj, where the Sikhs were strongly entrenched and
defended by powerful artillery. They were driven into and
across the river with a loss of about 10,000 men. The casu-
alties on the British side also were heavy, nearly 2,400. Thus,
in less than two months four great battles had been fought and
won, and the Panjab lay at the disposal of the victors. The
Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief received peerages,
and honours never were more hardly earned or better deserved.

Treaties of Lahore. Lord Hardinge did not wish to annex
the whole province, nor at the time had he the means to do so.
A treaty concluded at Lahore stipulated for the reduction of
the Sikh army and the surrender of the guns used in the war.
Major Henry Lawrence was left at the capital with a British
force, and after a short time a fresh treaty was drawn up
providing for a regency under British control during the
Maharaja's minority. Gulab Singh, an upstart chief who was
already in possession of Jamu, was guaranteed in his position


as ruler of that country and allowed to occupy Kashmir on
payment of seventy -five lakhs of rupees. The Sikhs thus lost
the control of the hill regions, and were further weakened by
the cession to the Company of the tract between the Sutlaj and
Bias. At the beginning of 1848 Lord Hardinge returned to
England, and was succeeded by Lord Dalhousie.

Civil reforms. Amid the clash of arms the voice of the
reformer is little heard. The whole history of Lord Auck-
land's administration is contained in that of the Afghan
disaster, but some civil progress was effected in the time of his
successors. Lord Ellenborough!s Government carried out two
notable reforms, the abolition of slavery and the prohibition
of state lotteries. Lord Hardinge is entitled to the credit of
having pushed on the construction of the Ganges Canal, and
taken effective steps to check the practice of suttee in the
protected states.


Lord Dalhousie : second Sikh war ; second Burmese war ; doctrine of
lapse ; annexations ; material progress.

Lord Dalhousie. Lord Dalhousie, a brilliant young Scotch
nobleman with some official experience, and only thirty-five
years of age, took over charge at Calcutta in January, 1848,
receiving from his predecessor an assurance that so far as
human foresight could predict, ' it would not be necessary
to fire a gun in India for seven years to come '. A year later
the Governor-General's army fought the Sikhs in two deadly
battles, and the Panjab became British territory. Then for
three years there was peace, followed by the second Burmese
war and the annexation of Pegu. Such is human foresight.

Second Sikh war ; battles of Chilianwala and Gujrat. The
arrangements for the government of the Punjab made by Lord
Hardinge on the lines of the Wellesley policy, and obviously
unstable, temporary makeshifts, did not last long. The trouble
began at Multan, held by a governor named Mulraj in practical



independence. He resigned his office when the new adminis-
tration came into power, and two young British officers were
sent to take over charge. Disputes halving arisen, the officers
were attacked and murdered, and Mulraj went into open re-
bellion. The revolt quickly spread over the whole province
and war became inevitable. ' Unwarned by precedent, un-
influenced by example ', said the Governor-General in October,
' the Sikh nation has called for war, and on my word, sirs,
they shall have it with a vengeance.' They got it. Multan,
after a gallant defence, was taken on January 28, 1849, Lord
Gough, the Commander-in-Chief, having fought a bloody
battle at Chilianwala, on the Jihlam, on the 13th. The con-
flict has been unjustly described as ' an evening battle fought
by a brave old man in a passion '. In reality, Lord Gough,
who had intended to encamp, was forced to fight by the Sikhs
moving from their entrenchments. Darkness coming on, the
Sikh army retired a short distance, but the British lost four
guns and the colours of three regiments. Both sides claimed
the victory, and the contest may be called a drawn battle.
The authorities in England blamed Lord Gough, and ordered
his supersession by Sir Charles Napier. But before the new
Commander-in-Chief could arrive, Lord Gough, on February 21,
1849, retrieved his reputation by winning at Gujrat, in the
district of that name, near the Chinab river, a victory so
complete that the Sikhs had no option but unconditional

Annexation of the Panjab. Lord Dalhousie rightly decided
on annexation, suitable provision being made for the young
Maharaja and other people with claims. The annexation of
the Panjab completed the extension of British dominion over
the whole of India Proper. The Governor-General practical^
took over the government himself, working through a board of
three commissioners, replaced after a time by a Chief Com-
missioner, who has since developed into a Lieutenant-Governor.
In Lord Dalhousie's time the real authority, even when Sir
John Lawrence was Chief Commissioner, vested in the Governor-



1826, 1852, 1885.

Statute Miles


General, the local ruler being his agent. Under the foster-
ing care of Lord Dalhousie and the able officers chosen by
him, the province rapidly advanced in prosperity, and the Sikh
soldiers, who had fought so bravely against the British power,
became its loyal supporters. In the Mutiny the Panjab was
a tower of strength to the Government, and since then many
of its gallant sons have given their lives on many fields in the
cause of their sovereign. A Sikh battalion took part in the
Burmese war only three years after the annexation of the

Second Burmese war, 1852. After an interval of three
years' peace another war was forced upon Lord Dalhousie by
the arrogance of the King of Burmah, who committed various
outrages on British subjects, refused redress, and deliberately
insulted the officers deputed to demand it. War was declared,
and in April, 1852, the pagoda at Rangoon was captured and
the town occupied. The taking of Prome followed in October,
and in December the war was ended by a proclamation
annexing the province of Pegu, the inhabitants of which
eagerly accepted deliverance from Burmese cruelties. 1 No
treaty was made because the court of Ava declined to nego-
tiate. The conduct of the operations presented a strong con-
trast to the proceedings of 1826 under the feeble guidance
of Lord Amherst. Lord Dalhousie saw to everything him-
self, and took care that everything should be well done. The
annexation of Pegu completely shut off Upper or independent
Burma from the sea.

The doctrine of lapse. No ruler of India surpassed, or
perhaps equalled, Lord Dalhousie in strength of will, love of
justice, and devotion to duty. He gave his life to India and
his country. He came out a young man in his prime ; after
eight years of office he returned a cripple on crutches, fit only
for death, which was not long delayed. Those eight years
were crowded with unceasing labours, dedicated in large part

1 Pegu was placed in charge of a Commissioner. The province of Lower
Burma, including Arakan, Pegu, and Tenasserim, was not formed until 1862.

FROM 1761 TO 1858 323

to the affairs of the native states. The system of subsidiary
alliances, started by Lord Wellesley and continued by his
successors, was a necessary stage in the relations between the
protected states and the paramount power, but by the middle
of the nineteenth century it had served its purpose. Nearly
all the princes who occupied their thrones under British pro-
tection abused their powers, lived lives of selfish indulgence, and
misgoverned their subjects. Lord Dalhousie, therefore, was
convinced that the subjects of any native state would benefit
immensely by the substitution of direct British government
for the rule of a licentious prince, freed by the protection of
superior authority from the restraints imposed by the fear of
revolt. Wherever he turned to Oudh, the Panjab, or else-
where he found the same abuses. He was thus led, in the
interests of the people, to act systematically on the doctrine
of lapse that is to say, he refused to acknowledge the right of
a childless Raja or Nawab to pass on the sovereignty of his
state to an adopted son, and held that in such a case the
sovereignty lapsed to the supreme government. The doctrine
was already well established in principle, but Lord Dalhousie
applied it with greater strictness than his predecessors. The
question first arose with reference to Satara (ante, p. 300), the
Maratha principality created by Lord Hastings, which was
annexed by Lord Dalhousie in the first year of his rule, on the
principle above stated. That principle subsequently was
applied in the cases of Jhansi, Nagpur, the relic of the Bhonsla
dominions, and in several others of minor importance. It was
also invoked to stop the large pension paid to the ex -Nawab
of the Carnatic. The refusal to continue to the Nana Sahib of
Bithur, adopted son of Baji Rao, the ex-Peshwa, who died in
1851, the pension of eight lakhs granted by Lord Hastings
(ante, p. 300) was not a case of the application of the doctrine
of lapse, for Sir John Malcolm had expressly declared the
allowance to Baji Rao to be a ' life pension ' ; and as such it
died with him. The Nana Sahib, as adopted son, admittedly
inherited twenty-eight lakhs of rupees, and, as an act of favour,


was given a,jaglr besides. He had not any just grievance. In
all cases where the doctrine of lapse of sovereignty was
enforced, the adopted son inherited under Hindu law the
private property of the deceased, and the Nana Sahib received
in full everything to which he was entitled. On November 4,
1859, at Cawnpore, Lord Canning announced the withdrawal
of the doctrine of lapse, and assured the assembled princes
that in future adopted sons would be recognized as heirs to the

Annexations otherwise than by lapse or conquest. A portion
of Sikkim on the north-eastern frontier was annexed as punish-
ment for the Raja's ill-treatment of Dr. (Sir John) Hooker and
another officer. Sambhalpur, on the south-west of Bengal,
was taken over in accordance with the wish of the deceased
Raja, who deliberately abstained from adopting an heir.
Oudh was annexed during the closing days of Lord Dalhousie's
rule, in consequence of the persistent misgovernment of the
country. This drastic measure was taken by express order
of the home authorities, and in opposition to the Governor-
General's recommendation that the king, in special considera-
tion of the faithfulness of his dynasty to the English alliance,
might be maintained in his royal state and dignity, the ad-
ministration being taken over by the Government of India.
The rulers of Oudh, who were allowed to assume the title of
king in 1819, had misgoverned the country for a century, and
had uniformly refused to listen to the remonstrances pressed
by Lord William Bentinck, Lord Hastings, and a long succes-
sion of Residents. Sir William Sleeman's Journey through the
Kingdom of Oudh, 1819-50, gives an appalling picture of the
state of the country, which formed an ample moral basis for
the decision to annex.

Modern system of government founded. Lord Dalhousie
made a beginning in framing a system of government on
modern lines, and got rid of absurd traditions which had come
down from the old mercantile days of the Company. The
first sensible distribution of the work of administration

FROM 1761 TO 1858 325

among distinct departments dates from his time, and each
department created received his special and ever-watchful
attention. Nothing escaped him, and every official felt him
to be master.

Railways. The Governor-General, when officially employed
in England, had been in touch with the growth of the railway
system, then a novelty ; and when he came to India, was re-
solved that India should have railways of her own. The
prophets declared that they would not be used, would not
pay, and so forth, but Dalhousie persevered and was able to
open a short line in 1854.

Postal and telegraph departments. When he assumed
charge, India had no postal organization worthy of the name,
the mails being conveyed, by prehistoric methods under the con-
trol of local officers. Dalhousie founded the Postal Department
now so efficient, and also introduced the electric telegraph.

Public works. Roads, irrigation works, navigable canals,
and, in short, material improvements of every kind, were
designed and executed under his personal guidance and super-
vision. The Grand Trunk Road from Calcutta to the Pan jab
was constructed in his time. All this labour was performed in
spite of painful bodily suffering and crushing domestic sorrow.

Education. The Governor-General was busy considering
the subject of education when he received a dispatch from the
Secretary of State, Sir Charles Wood (Lord Halifax), ' con-
taining a scheme of education for all India, far wider and more
comprehensive than the local or the Supreme Government
could have ventured to suggest '. That celebrated document
provided for the establishment of vernacular schools in all
Districts, colleges, aided schools, and universities. Lord
Dalhousie took action under it without delay, and organized
the Department of Public Instruction.

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Online LibraryVincent Arthur SmithThe Oxford student's history of India → online text (page 24 of 27)