« PreviousContinue »
the mischievous consequences. with which such a construction was pregnant, involving measures of absolute compulsion ; and how inconsistent it was with the spirit of the treaty to interpret its stipulations as “imposing on-the Vizier an obligation absolutely and implicitly to accede to: whatever plan of reform the British Government might advise, however adverse to his interests or his prejudices, or to require him, in every concern of his Government; to follow, indiscriminately, every counsel, however injurious or repugnant to his feelings, that either wisdom or error might suggest, on the part of the British Governs ment, under the penalty of forfeiting his claim to the fulfilment of our part of the stipulations of the treaty. A construction so literal," it is justly added, " would obviously be incompatible with the existence of that authority, which, by the same instrument, we have solemnly guaranteed ” (p. 235).
The stipulation in the treaty, binding the Nawaub to seek and to conform to the advice of the other contracting party, appears to be much of the nature of a bond without a penalty ; for even if, in the alternative of the prince's refusal, we were authorized to withdraw the British troops, or withhold their assistance to preserve tranquillity, we ought, at the same time, to restore the ceded territories, which had now become an integral part of the Company's dominions.
The Vizier's objections to the scheme of reform proposed to him (of the expediency of which Lord Hastings subsequently professed to entertain doubts), though generally frivolous, and indicative of a resolution to retain his despotic power over the property of his subjects, are occasionally specious; and it was perfectly competent to him, as an independent prince, to reject measures which it could not be demonstrated to him would entail no loss of revenue or authority. These are the very grounds upon which he objects (p. 531) to the system proposed by the Resident.
The case of Tuhseen Alee Khan seems to us one in which the interference of the British Government was pushed beyond due bounds. This individual had-served, in a confidential capacity, the Vizier Asuf-ool-Dowlah, with zeal and fidelity; he had mainly contributed to the establishment of the late Vizier on the musnud; he had served him likewise with great integrity and attachment till his death; he had also manifested extreme fidelity towards the British Government. By his will, he bequeathed his little property to certain dependants; but the Vizier claimed it as an escheat, ungratefully availing himself of the Mohummedan law, which incapacitates slaves and infidels from disposing of their property by will. The Resident, with the sanction of our Government, tenaciously withheld this property from the Vizier for some time, and it was relinquished, at last, very unwillingly and ungraciously.*
The topics of altercation between the Vizier and the Resident may be supposed to be numerous, when it is declared by Col. Baillie (15th April 1812) that at that period his representations and complaints to his Excellency, on various subjects, “ extended to the number of three or four in a week.” We are much inclined to doubt whether this accumulation of subjects of discussion, many of which must be of subordinate importance, did not sometimes exasperate the Vizier's mind, and provoke that refractoriness of which the Resident incessantly complains; and we are fortified in that doubt by the following
passage, The arguments of the Nawaub for enforcing his right, seem entitled to weight: he says that the case would constitute a precedent; and that if public servants of the character of Tuhseen (who was a slaveeunuch and a Hindoo), were considered to be at liberty to bequeath their property, without the control of government, a door would be opened to fraud and peculation amongst those at present without such temptation to be dishonest.
passage, in a letter from the Government to the Resident, dated 220 January 1813:
It is, indeed, desirable on many grounds of practical expediency, as well as because it is consonant to the general spirit of the treaty, that we should abstain from interposing in cases of inferior importance, as the frequent occurrence of such interposition would be apt, by exciting irritation and discontent, to indispose the Vizier to listen to our remonstrances in affairs of greater magnitude, for which the weight of our authority ought to be reserved. On all these grounds, the Governor-General in Council would have wished that you had not taken up the cause of Hyder Buklısh so warmly, as your just and natural feeling of compassion for the hardship of his situation, combined with your conviction of his claim to the protection of the British Government, prompted you to do. (p. 348.)
The reader will begin to perceive the difficulties under which Col. Baillie laboured in the management of negociations at this court (and which, from usage, were transacted directly with the prince), without falling short of the instructions and expectations of the British Government, and, at the same time, without violating the respect due to his Excellency, the observance of which is enforced upon the Resident in the "final arrangement” of 1802, in very specific terms:
The Resident must conduct himself towards the Nawaub Vizier, on all occasions, with the utınost degree of respect, conciliation, and attention, and must maintain cordial union and harmony in all transactions, and must endeavour to impart strength and stability to his Excellency's authority.
Whether Col. Baillie did or did not scrupulously fulfil this part of his duty is an essential question, which, as we before observed, links itself with the controversy between that gentleman and Lord Hastings. We have doubts whether it be fair to review this portion of his conduct, since it has received the approbation of the Government of that day; if, however, subsequent events lay it open to re-consideration, still it is extremely difficult for a candid and liberal mind to determine how far the shameful evasions and provoking conduct of the Vizier did or did not justify the severe and pointed expressions which 'abound in the Resident's communications with that prince. One of the items of the Nawaub Vizier's charge against Col. Baillie (before adverted to) is the adoption of an, unauthorized style of address to him; but the Resident not only justified himself from this accusation (as appears from a curious and elaborate report of the Persian Secretary to the Bengal Government), but retorted it upon the Vizier, who was subsequently constrained to exchange his haughty style, for one more respectful. Nevertheless, one of the members of council (Mr. Edmonstone), in a minute recorded upon this report, intimates that “ the severity of some occasional passages in the Resident's letters to the Vizier might perhaps have been avoided, without weakening the force and effect of his representations." (P. 376).
The opinion of the Bengal Government, as to the merits of Col. Baillie, is recorded in the following highly encomiastic passage in the despatch of their secretary, 2d July 1813:
Before I proceed to the immediate subject of this despatch, I am directed by the Governor-General in Council to convey to you the cordial expression of his Lordship in Council's approbation of the ability, judgment, firmness, and perseverance, which have distinguished your conduct in the arduous and important negotiation to which your despatches refer. The peculiar temper and disposition of the Vizier have, on this, as on former occasions, presented obstacles to the accomplishment of the just views of the British Government at the Court of Lucknow, which no exertion of the qualities above
described, without the application of the further direct interference of the Governinent, could be expected entirely to overcome; while the failure of your utmost efforts, therefore, to obtain his Excellency's concurrence in the whole of the measures which you have been employed in urging him to adopt, has excited regret rather than surprize in the mind of his Lordship in Council, the success which has attended your exertions-in accomplishing some objects to which great importance was attached by Government, has afforded his Lordship in Council a high degree of satisfaction ; and your conduct, in either case, is considered to have augmented your claim to his distinguished approbation, which has already been so frequently and justly acknowledged.
Before we proceed to consider the other division of Col. Baillie's diplomatic services, there are two other topics necessary to touch upon,- the conduct and character of Hukeem Muhdee, a favourite adviser of the Vizier ; and the Resident's warm advocacy of the cause of his own Moonshee, Alee Nuckee Khan, who had suffered from the oppressions of the Amils.
Hukeem Mehdee Alee Khan was originally the Amil of an extensive district (Kyrabad), and we find him, in 1810, praised by Col. Baillie for his zeal and activity (p. 14); as possessed of character and respectability, and as superior in ability to any other servant of the Vizier. (p. 107). The talents of th
person seem to have recommended him at court; no distinct complaint of his influence has appeared to us in the correspondence of the Resident, till the month of December 1813, when he is described as a person “ whose disaffection to the British Government, and the general vices of his character, have frequently fallen under his (Col. Baillie's) observation, and have been brought to the notice of Government by his predecessor, as well as by himself;" and whose pernicious counsels, as well as the false reports of intriguing agents employed by the Hukeem," at the presidency, as well as in the city of Lucknow,” induced the Vizier to depart from his promise regarding the measures of reform.
The Moonshee was a landholder in the district of Sandee, and had been unjustly deprived of his rights by the Vizier's officers. The cause of this injured man was taken up by the Bengal Government, who laboured in vain to prevail upon his Excellency to do him justice. The frequency and urgency of Col. Baillie's importunities upon this head would liave attracted notice, had the individual been a stranger; as a confidential and highly deserving servant, whose wrongs were more easily appreciable, they cease to be remarkable; but it obviously becomes a question how far it was expedient to make this subject so prominent, which is confessed by the Resident to be a matter of more immediate and personal interest to himself than any other subject of discussion what had arisen between his Excellency and him during his residence at this court ;” and to found upon it such a charge against the Vizier as is implied in the following remark, personally addressed to him : “it was difficult to account for any further delay in the satisfaction of the Moonshee's rights, unless, indeed, it were supposed that the situation of the claimant, as a servant of the British Government, confidentially employed by the Resident, had rendered him obnoxious to his Excellency's displeasure." (P. 416).
The sudden death of the Vizier, Saadut Alee Khan, in July 1814, altered the aspect of affairs at the court of Lucknow. The prompt and judicious measures taken by Col. Baillie * on that occasion, secured the musnud to the rightful successor (Refaut-ood-Dowlah), whose grateful recollections of this
service * The Earl of Moira, then Governor-General, in his letter to the Court of Directors, says (p. 345) that the Resident's conduct “was characterized by the greatest promptitude, vigilance, and prudence, and received his entire approbation.".
service might justly be expected to strengthen the influenee of the Resident. This event had been preceded, a few months only, by the accession of Lord Hastings (then Earl Moira) to the Government of India, whose principles of administration were of a rather different complexion from those of his pre. decessor, under whose instructions the Resident had formed and pursued his system of negociation with the ruler of Oude,
His Lordship, in his copious letter of August 15, 1815, has developed the principles adopted by him for the regulation of his policy with that state as follows:-In construing the engagements between the two parties, the most liberal sense should be given to the articles favourable to the weakest; a conclusion, he observes, agreeable to sound policy as well as to abstract equity. If the extremity of being forced to substitute our own Government for the Nawaub's (a proceeding which would be universally stigmatised) were avoided, much would be gained. The only justifiable ground for seizing the possessions of the Nawaub, would be the discovery that he had plotted, in concert with our enemies, the overthrow of our power; a case which could only occur through desperation produced by a course of indignities and provocations. His situation, therefore, should be rendered tranquil and satisfactory; an object no less incumbent on our policy than dictated by our generous feelings. The right of interference with advice or remonstrance upon subjects which might injuriously affect the British interests, clearly implied that in all other respects the Nawaub was free; and, indeed, the tenor of the treaty proved that the uninterrupted exercise of his authority was assured to him in order to qualify the strong step we had taken. The Nawaub was, consequently, to be treated as an independent prince. The Resident should consider himself as the ambassador from the British Government to an acknowledged sovereign ; he should carefully abstain from any ostentation of authority, and forbear to countenance opposition to the Nawaub, on the part of his Excellency's servants, or to recommend persons from his own household for reception in the suite of the Nawaub. The latter should be treated with deferential politeness, which 'could not deceive the Nawaub into resistance, but must rather promote his Hexibility, lest he should forfeit this show of respect. (Pp. 853, 854).
We have condensed this passage in the letter for the sake of brevity; but it deserves perusal in the original terms.
His Lordship, during his tour in the Upper Provinces in 1814, had an interview with the Nawaub Vizier; and soon after this occurrence, those extraordinary transactions developed themselves, which eventually led to the removal of Col. Baillie. The details of these transactions are so multifarious, so contradictory, so embarrassed by the covert intrigues of individuals, whose names and objects are only to be guessed at; and the conduct of the Vizier himself is characterized by such avowed and degrading duplicity, that it is scarcely possible to disentangle the web into which the acts and representations of the various agents have involved them, so as to admit of their being presented in a lucid and impartial narrative. The fairest mode, in our opinion, of exhibiting the transactions themselves, and the points at issue between Lord Hastings and Col. Baillie, will be to dissect the respective statements of both parties, incorporating in our abstract the requisite explanatory matter.
The Governor-General, in his minute of 30th November 1814, states that, on his arrival at Cawnpore (8th October), he had no reason to suspect that the Resident was not in high favour with the Nawaub. At an interview with his Excellency, his Lordship remarked a want of satisfaction in the former, when he was told that the Resident possessed his Lordship’s entire confidence; and
he produced (unexpectedly to Col. Baillie) a paper containing remarks upon the reform proposed for the administration of Oude, and a passage relating to the Resident, of the following equivocal import:
By your Lordship's kindness, Major Baillie loves me from his heart. Under the influence of this disposition, in consequence of my father's demise, he visits me almost every day; and agreeably to rule, I also have gone to visit him. While. Major Baillie may continue to remain here, there is no need for making any representation : after he shall have gone away, it is my wish that the practice of visiting, as observeủ between the Resident and my father, may be reverted to.
Lord Hastings' secretary having subsequently learned, by means of Mr. Clarke and Capt. McLeod, two English gentlemen in the service of the Nawaub Vizier, that his Excellency was in “ absolute despair" at the disappointment of his expectations of being delivered from “ the despotism of Col. Baillie," his Lordship sent for them, and learned that the Nawaub had mentioned many matters of grievance to them; but that his mind was in such subjection to Col. Baillie, that he would never complain of that gentleman in his presence." His Lordship accordingly gave him an opportunity of explaining himself in the absence of the Resident; the Nawaub, was shy of entering inta particulars," and promised to send, the following day, a paper containing the subjects of complaint, but which was not forwarded till near a fortnight after, when his Lordship had arrived at Lucknow; and, when sent, contained no reference whatever to Col. Baillie.
Some doubt having fastened itself upon his Lordship's mind, as to his Excellency's preference of Mr. Law, or Mr. Wilson, for his physician, and Col. Baillie having asked the appointment, in the name of the Vizier, for the latter, his Lordship desired Capt. Gilbert, whom the Vizier, had invited to breakfast with him, to endeavour to ascertain the real fact. Upon the question being put to the Vizier, he exclaimed, earnestly, that it was Mr. Law, and that the Resident wished to force Mr. Wilson upon him. His Excellency then unfolded a long string of grievances against Col. Baillie, professing, that as long as the latter should remain at Lucknow he (the Nawaub) could never have an hour's comfort.
At a subsequent conference with his Lordship, the Vizier (who had previously confirmed, in the most distinct manner, to Mr. Ricketts, one of the Government-Secretaries, all he had said to Capt. Gilbert) acknowledged he had complaints against the Resident, and presented a paper which he said contained them all. These complaints were, in substance, as follows:-/st, the Resident's absence from the late Vizier's funeral ; 2dly, his extorting certain grants from his Excellency for the Moonshee Alee Nuckee Khan; 3dly, his shutting up a high road contiguous to the Residency, and erecting a lofty gate, which pvertopped the Vizier's buildings; 4thly, his stationing British guards over the treasuries and jewel rooms ; 5thly, his calling one of the late Vizier's ladies into his presence, regardless of his Excellency's late father's honour ; 6thly, bis bringing with him persons not entitled to sit, and causing them to have chairs; 7thly, his encouragement of complaints from the Vizier's dependants; 8thly, his interference with the concerns of the Vizier's family; 9thly, his placing over the Vizier the sons, of Mirza Jäfer, in such a manner, that his Excellency never had a moment's privacy from them; 10thly, his suffering an attack on a horseman in the Vizier's service, which lowered his Excellency in the eyes of the people; 11thly, his perusing the accounts of the country daily, and issuing his own orders, in answer to petitions ; nominating Ameens, as if his Excelleney had no concern whatever with the Government; assigning Asiatic Journ. VOL. XXI. No. 121. С