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to practise as a portrait painter at Madras, during Lord Cornwallis's first administration, was invited from thence to Lucknow by Saadut Ali a little before his death, and has since been retained by the King at a fixed salary, to which he adds a little by private practice. His son is a captain in the Company's service, but is now attached to the King of Oude as equerry, and European aidede-camp. Mr. Home would have been a distinguished painter had he remained in Europe, for he has a great deal of taste, and his drawing is very good and rapid ; but it has been, of course, a great disadvantage to him to have only his own works to study, and he, probably, finds it necessary to paint in glowing colours to satisfy his royal master.
Of the King's character, and the circumstances which have plunged this country into its present anarchy, I will now detail the outlines of what I have been able to learn. He was, by a very common misfortune attendant on heirs apparent, disliked by his father, Saadut Ali, who had kept him back from all public affairs, and thrown him entirely into the hands of servants. To the first of these circumstances may be ascribed his fondness for literary and philosophical pursuits, to the second the ascendancy which his khânsaman minister has gained over him. Saadut Ali, himself a man of talent and acquirements, fond of business and well qualified for it, but in his latter days unhappily addicted to drunkenness, left him a country with six millions of people, a fertile soil, a most compact frontier, a clear revenue of two millions sterling, and upwards of two millions in ready money in the treasury, with a well regulated system of finance, a peasantry tolerably well contented, no army to maintain except for police and parade, and every thing likely to produce an auspicious reign.
Different circumstances, however, soon blighted these golden promises. The principal of these was, perhaps, the young Nawab's aversion to public Business. His education has been merely Asiatic, for Saadut Ali, though he himself spoke English like a native, and very frequently wore the English uniform, had kept his son from all European intercourse and instruction. He was fond, however, as I have observed, of study; and in all points of Oriental philology and philosophy, is really reckoned a learned man, besides having a strong taste for mechanics and chemistry. But these are not the proper or most necessary pursuits of a king, and, in this instance, have rather tended to divert his mind from the duties of his situation, than to serve as graceful ornaments to an active and vigorous intellect. When I add to this, that at one period the chace occupied a considerable part of his time, it will be seen how many points of resemblance occur between him and our own James the First. Like James he is said to be naturally just and kind-hearted, and with all who have access to him he is
extremely popular. No single act of violence or oppression has ever been ascribed to him, or supposed to have been perpetrated with his knowledge, and his errors have been a want of method and economy in his expenses, a want of accessibility to his subjects, a blind confidence in favourites, and, as will be seen, an unfortunate, though not very unnatural, attachment to different points of etiquette and prerogative.
His father's minister, at the time of his death, was Hukeem Mendee, a man of very considerable talents, great hereditary opulence and influence, and to the full as honest and respectable in his public and private conduct as an Eastern Vizier can usually be expected to be. The new sovereign was said not to be very fond of him, but there seemed not the least intention of removing him till his power was undermined, most unfortunately for all parties, by the British themselves.
The then Resident at Lucknow was said to interfere too much in the private affairs of the King, and in the internal and regular administration of the country. The minister would not allow it, and the King was so much irritated by this real, or supposed interference, that he sent, by some of his European servants, the private intelligence to Lord Hastings, of which mention is made in the justificatory memoir of the latter. Lord Hastings readily took up the affair; but in the meantime some of the King's servants, among whom was his khânsaman, worked upon their master's timidity, by representing the danger of coming to an open quarrel with the Resident, the probability that the English would not credit the complaints brought against their own countryman, and urged him to a compromise before it was too late. In consequence, the King retracted the complaint, and ascribed it to the incorrect information and bad advice of the Hukeem Mendee, who was in consequence deprived of many of his principal employments, which were transferred to the present minister, with the general consent of all parties, and with the concurrence of the Hukeem himself, as a man personally acceptable to the sovereign, of pliant and pleasing manners, and not likely to aim at, or obtain more power than it was thought fit to entrust to him. Soon after, however, the new influence succeeded in getting the Hukeem Mendee deprived of one profitable post after another, in stripping him of many of the Zemindarries in his hands, and at length in having him thrown into prison, whence he was only released by the interposition of the British Government. He now lives in great splendour at Futtehghur.
Expecting me to go to Futtehghur, he sent me, through Mr. Williams of Cawnpoor, a very civil invitation to his house, with the assurance that he had an English house-keeper, who knew perfectly well how to do the honours of his establishment to
gentlemen of her own nation. (She is in fact a singular female, who became the wife of one of the Hindoostanee professors at Hertford, now the Hukeem's Dewan, and bears, I believe, a very respectable character.) Hukeem Mendee was too powerful a man to be summarily got rid of, but more violent means were taken with others. One man of high rank was murdered in open day in the city; others were driven out of the country, and every death and every banishment was a fresh occasion of adding a new place, or a new Zemindarrie to the minister's hoard.
While he grew rich, the king grew more and more in debt. No check whatever was given either to the receipt or issue of public money. The favourite had succeeded in getting both the secretaryship and treasurership in his own hands; and all that was known was, that the minister built a magnificent house, and the king lavished great sums in all manner of trinkets, while the troops and public functionaries were without pay, and the peasantry driven to despair by continual fresh exactions. Of the two millions which his father had left, the king had lent one to Lord Hastings to carry on the Nepal war. For this he was to receive interest, but unfortunately for him, he accepted, instead of all payment, a grant of fresh territory under the Himalaya mountains, which is entirely unproductive, being either savage wilderness, or occupied by a race of mountaineers, who pay no taxes without being compelled, and whom he has not the means of compelling. After a second loan, Lord Hastings encouraged the Vizier to assume the title of King. But the worst consequence of both these loans was, that by laying the British Government under a great obligation to the King, they compelled Lord Hastings to suspend all further urging of the different measures of reform in the administration of justice and the collection of the revenue, which had been begun in Saadut Ali's time, for the benefit of the people of Oude, and which the Hukeem Mendee, while he remained in power, bad been gradually introducing, by the suggestion of the British Resident, and after the models afforded in our provinces. The chief of these was the substitution of a regular system of Zemindarrie collectors for the taxes, instead of a number of “ fermiers publics,” who take them from year to year by a sort of auction, collecting them afterwards in kind or in any way which suits them best, and who, by a strange injustice, are themselves the assessors, and, in many instances, the only accessible court of appeal, as well as the principal persons who derive a profit from the amount collected. This wretched system, it must be owned, is very common throughout the native governments; but, when a sovereign is himself a man of talents and energy, or when his minister has any regard for his own reputation, it has many checks which, in the present case, did not
operate. In consequence, three or four times more than the sums really due were often extorted by these locusts, who went down and encamped in different parts of the country, and, under various pretences, so devoured and worried the people that they were glad to get rid of them on any terms. Nay, sometimes, when one Allmeen had made his bargain with the land owners and tenants, and received the greater part of the payment in advance, a second would make his appearance with more recent powers, (having out-bid his predecessors,) and begin assessing and collecting anew, telling the plundered villagers that they had done wrong
pay before it was due, and that they must look to the first man for repayment of what they had been defrauded of. 6 All this has been done,” was said to me, " and the King will neither see it nor hear it.” It was not likely, however, to be done long without resistance. The stronger Zemindars built mud forts, the poor Ryuts planted bamboos and thorny jungle round their villages; every man that had not a sword sold his garment to procure one, and they bade the king's officers keep their distance. The next step, however, of Government, was to call in the aid of British troops to quell these insurgents. This the King of Oude had, by the letter and spirit of existing treaties, a right to do. His father and uncle had purchased this right by the cession of nearly one-third of their whole territories,-by the admission of two or three garrisons of subsidiary troops into their remaining provinces, and by the disbanding of by far the greater part of their own army, on the express condition that the English should undertake to defend them against all external and internal enemies. Still Saadut Ali had used this right very sparingly. He was not fond of admitting, far less requesting, any more foreign interference than he could help. And his own guards, consisting of 2000 regular infantry, 1000 horse, 300 artillery, and the irregulars whom I have noticed, were enough for all unusual occasions, and were in excellent order and discipline. Now, however, all was changed. The soldiers themselves were so ill paid that it was difficult to keep them together; the artillery, a beautiful little corps, first mutinied and then disbanded themselves to the last man, and the King had really no option between either altering his system, or governing without taxes, or calling in British aid. That aid was demanded and given; and during the greater part of Lord Hastings' time this wretched country was pillaged under sanction of the British name, and under the terror of sepoy bayonets, till at length the remonstrances of the British officers employed on this service became so urgent, and the scandal so notorious and so great, not to omit that the number of the disaffected increased daily, and that the more parties were sent out in support of the Allmeens, the more
were called for, while every peasant who lost lands or property in the progress of the system, became a Decoit and made inroads into the Company's provinces, that a different course was imperiously forced on government. Accordingly, the Resident was instructed to urge anew on the king the adoption of a regular system of leasing the crown dues for a certain number of years, like that adopted in the Company's territories, and leasing them to the Zemindars themselves, not to these greedy Allmeens. He was directed also to require proof, before granting the aid of troops, that the sums said to be withheld were really due. To the first of these proposals the king answered, that he would introduce the system gradually and with such modifications as suited his country. He even named a district in which he would begin it; but, though two years have now elapsed, nothing has yet been done. The second was met by sending a number of documents to the Resident, of whose history and authenticity he could know nothing, but which the officers sent with the detachment declared they believed to be often perfect forgeries. Mr. Ricketts, therefore, about a year ago, declined granting any more military aid, unless the King would, first, immediately carry into effect his promised reform; secondly, unless he would allow an English commissioner, versed in such matters, to accompany each detachment, and determine on the spot the justice of the Aûmeen's claim; thirdly, unless he would himself, after the example of his royal ancestors, hold frequent and public Durbar, to receive petitions from his subjects, and attend to these specific complaints; and fourthly, unless, to prevent the constant incursion of robbers from his majesty's into the Company's territories, he would allow the judge and magistrates of the adjoining districts to pursue and seize Decoits within his frontier.
To these proposals his answers have been very ingenious and plausible. To the first he says that such great changes cannot be the work of a day; that when half his subjects are in arms against him, is not precisely the time to obtain a fair assessment or a permanent settlement of the land; but if the British will first, as he calls on them in the terms of their treaty to do, put down his rebellious Zemindars, destroy their mud-forts, and disarm their people, he will pledge himself to adopt, in course of time, and with due deliberation, such a system as will give satisfaction. To the second he answers with some reason, that the introduction of English judges and revenue officers, for such the proposed commissioners would be, into bis country, would make his own officers cyphers, and his own power contemptible, and that he would sooner bid adieu to his crown at once, and turn Faqueer. To the third, that he has not understood it to be the custom of either the King of England or the Governor-general, to hold such