Page images
PDF
EPUB

highest and holiest authority has told us that we have the poor "always" with us. The concurrent testimony of administrators, of residents amongst the people, and of the people themselves, proclaims the dwellers by the lower Ganges to be void of manliness and spirit. We cannot discover the Icaria in which all men shall be rich : or find out the mesmeric influence by which a statesman shall throw a weak and feeble race into a slumber, whence they may wake up as giants refreshed, strong of hand, and stout of heart. But this is no reason why we should neglect to avail ourselves of every means in our power

How best to help the slender store

How mend the dwellings of the poor ; Nor why, again, we should hesitate about speedily giving the sanction of law and authority to such rights, as in the wreck of institutions, or under encroachment and invasion, are yet found to survive. We can give the material guarantees of every powerful and benevolent government, a numerous police, accessible justice, good means of communication. We may develope and stimulate the natural acuteness of the cultivators, which we take to be considerably above that of yokels and clod-compellers in England, and may turn their unexampled pertinacity and aptness for litigation to the assertion and maintenance of their recognised position and their defined rights. We feel certain that it is in the power of our administrators to effect this, without lavish expenditure, in spite of active opposition, and in spite of the inertness and helplessness of those we desire to benefit. We may at once move on without being deluded by the mirage of imaginary perfection in the distance, as Mr. Grant truly wrote in his minute, and as Lord John Russell, endorsing the Indian statesman, did not hesitate to avow in the House. To the solid and avowed benefits of the Perpetual Settlement, to the spread of agriculture, to the decrease of jungle, to the extension of commerce, to the spectacle of those rich land-holders who accumulate wealth and enlarge their boundaries, and to the many inferior individuals who, secure of sustenance, not to say independence, from the land, have leisure to devote their talents to profitable speculation, or to the service of the state, we may yet, by tact, decision, and firmness, add the still more gratifying spectacle of a peasantry, who, if they cannot recruit our evanescent army, may yet fulfil the end of their existence, as loyal, prosperous, and contented subjects of the state.

ART. VII.-Life and Correspondence of Major-General Sir John

Malcolm, G. C. B., late Envoy to Persia, and Governor of Bombay. From unpublished letters and journals. By John William Kaye, &c. &c. 2 vols. London, 1856.

IT is with a feeling of great sadness that we enter upon the

task of reviewing these volumes. The task had been assigned to, and had been undertaken by, one who could have done infinitely more justice to the subject than we can expect to do. If there were in all India, perhaps we might say in all the world, a man who could have entered with fullest sympathy into the character and achievements of the chivalrous soldier, the wise diplomatist, the enlightened governor, the light-hearted playmate of children, the judicious counsellor and animating leader of youth, the affectionate brother, the loving husband, the fond father, the constant friend, the large-hearted philanthropist, the honest man, the earnest Christian—that man was one whom India and the world have lately lost, Sir Henry Lawrence. It was he that ought to have reviewed this book; and we have reason to believe that he was actually engaged upon it until the time when public duty, and care for the safety of the beleaguered band, for whom he watched so earnestly, and fought so bravely, and died so nobly, occupied and engrossed all his thoughts. As well in the peculiarities of their characters as in the circumstances of their careers, there was a remarkable similarity between Sir John Malcolm and Sir Henry Lawrence. The one a Scotchman, and the other an Irishman, each exhibited a combination, as rare as it is graceful, of those qualities that are generally regarded as characteristic of these two nationalities; though perhaps in each, the characteristic of the other's nation predominated over that of his own. The Scottish Malcolm seems to have had even more than Lawrence of the almost reckless buoyancy of spirits and love of adventure and fun, which are generally considered as distinctive of an Irishman : the Irish Lawrence had decidedly more than Malcolm of the calm reflexion, and practical sagacity, and determined perseverance, that are regarded as the birth-right of a Scotchman.

With respect to the circumstances of the careers of these two men, it may not be without interest to notice that each had an elder brother in the civil service, and was himself in the military service, of the East India Company ;—that each was one of several brothers that achieved high distinction; that each was employed in high political and diplomatic service; and that each, in the course of that service, had an opportunity of distinguish

ing himself also in his proper military capacity; that each was employed in administering and civilizing a vast country, and impressing his own stamp on its institutions. Thus alike in many of the prominent circumstances of their lives, it were vain, and perhaps wrong, to regret that they were not alike in the circumstances of their deaths. Malcolm died in a fresh old age, attended by the wife of his youth, and the children who regarded him not only as a father, but also as a companion and a friend. Lawrence, after several years of widowhood, and with no child near him, in the prime of his manhood, died a soldier's death.

Mr. Kaye has been very felicitous in the choice of subjects for the exercise of his admirable talents as a biographer.* Mr. Tucker might not indeed be a great man in the ordinary sense of that term ; but he was a man on whom very great responsibilities devolved in the administration of Indian affairs, in this country and in England; and he was always equal to the task of sustaining these responsibilities. Lord Metcalfe was a great man; and he too bore an important part in the acquisition and administration of our Indian empire. Sir John Malcolm also was a great man; though his greatness was of a different order from that of Lord Metcalfe, and perhaps not of so high an order. Their biographer has done full justice to their various characters, and has contrived to render them almost as well known to his readers, as if they had been their personal associates. But he has done more than this. As people generally learn most of what they know of the history of England from Shakespeare, Scott and Bulwer-or did so before the publication of Mr. Macaulay's history—so we believe that any student will get a much more inward, hearty knowledge of the history of India under the British rule from these three works of Mr. Kaye, than from any formal history that has yet been written, or is likely to be written for a long time to come. The three men's lives run like a connecting thread through a whole rosary of most important transactions, extending over a very long period. Tucker began his Indian career in 1787, only thirty years after the battle of Plassey; and three-score years after, as chairman of the Court of Directors, he sent out Lord Dalhousie as Governor General ; nor did his connexion with India cease until 1851. Metcalfe was born in Calcutta in 1785, nine days before Warren Hastings left India ; but his proper Indian career began in 1801; and he was mixed up, in a more or less important way, with most important transactions, almost from his first arrival, down to the day of his departure, in 1838. In 1783, two years before Metcalfe was born, Malcolm arrived in India, and he too, like Metcalfe, was very early employed in important affairs. He left India in 1830; but like Tucker, he took an earnest interest in its affairs down to the day of his death in 1833. Thus these three lives cover the whole period from the close of Warren Hastings's administration down to the annexation of the Punjab. And then their departments were so different, that the treatment of their lives separately does not lead to repetition, but only to greater fulness, and a more distinct exhibition of the various events of the time, And what country can exhibit so stirring a history? India has not had the happiness—whatever other happiness she may have had—which is said to appertain tò the land whose annals are blank. No, truly hers have been written on all four pages of the sheet, and crossed like a young lady's letter.

* For reviews of Mr. Kaye's lives of Tucker and Metcalfe, see Calcutta Review Vols. XXII. and XXIV.

We have said that Malcolm was a Scotchman, but it was not “Caledonia stern and wild ” that gave him birth, but the rich vale of the Esk, where the scenery resembles the richest English landscape. His father had been educated for the ministry of the church, but had been prevented by a defect of utterance from entering it. He was tenant of Burnfoot, a farm of considerable extent, partly arable and partly pastoral. But he was not conteut to abide by his short-horns and his black-faced : but entered into speculations, in which, like so many others who have “too many irons in the fire," he burned his fingers. But his character did not suffer. “A close investigation into his concerns ' revealed only the just dealings of the man.” “ He felt the

burden that was upon him, for he was a man by nature of an anxious and sensitive temperament, but, sustained by a good

conscience, he bore up bravely beneath it. There was not • perhaps a day of his life in which he did not remember his "misfortunes—but he suffered with true Christian resignation,

and was thankful for the blessings that remained.” Such was “Auld Burnfit," a noble specimen of that proper middle class which Scotland alone possesses ; a class which is a middle class, not because it stands between the higher and the lower, and belongs to neither, but because it belongs to both, so that its members can associate with the higher class without servility, and with the lower without arrogance. And the “guid-wife of Burnfoot was worthy of her husband ; "a woman of high principle and

sound understanding, but womanly in all ; of quick parts and

ready resources; strong in doing and in suffering ; but gentle . and affectionate, a support in adversity to her husband; and to

her children a tender, a watchful, but not an over-indulgent 'mother. How much they all owed to her, it is difficult to

say. She lived to be the mother of heroes, and was worthy

[ocr errors]

of such a race.” Yes ! difficult to say, as it is difficult to count the sand-grains. To have such a mother is not a matter for saying, but for feeling, and for evincing thankfulness, not so much with the lips as in the life.

The quiver of the farmer of Burnfoot was filled with a goodly sheaf. Ten sons were ready to speak with his enemies in the gate,-only the worthy man had no enemies ;—while seven daughters were ready to give a hearty, homely welcome to his friends, of whom he had many. John, the fourth of the sons, was born on the 2nd of May, 1769, and thus was a day younger than Arthur Wellesley. He got his education in the parish school of Westerkirk, and still more in the parlor and the kitchen of Burnfoot. From his pious father and mother he learned much ; and not little from the stalwart ploughmen and shepherds of the border. He might have been a good scholar, if he had chosen ; but scholarship was not the quality which he then held in highest esteem. His energy expended itself mainly in mischief. One of those light-hearted, restless boys who will always break through all rules, but with whom it is impossible to be angry, or to be angry for any length of time. We are pretty sure that it was neither with very intense anger, nor with very intense sorrow, that the worthy school-master came to the conclusion that, whenever any mischief was perpetrated, he could not be wrong, however appearances might point in another direction, in assuming that “ Jock's at the bottom o't.” And when, many years after, he received from the Persian'envoy a copy of his History, with the inscription, “ Jock's at the bottom o't,' we

be very sure that it did not take him by surprise to find Jock at the bottom of something else than mischief.

We have said that Mr. Malcolm was of that middle class which, in Scotland, stands between the higher and the lower, and belongs to both, as distinguished from the middle class elsewhere, which, standing between the higher and the lower, too generally belongs to neither. To this he was indebted for the means of setting his sons on the ladder which so many of them climbed so manfully. Robert was a civilian in the Madras presidency ; James, afterwards Sir James Malcolm, K. C. B., was in the Marines, and Pulteney was on the way to the Red Flag at the Fore, determined, doubtless, to be what he in due time became, and what so many midshipmen determine to be, but never become, (but are all the better for the determination) an Admiral and a G.C. B. And now came John's turn. He had not quite attained the age of twelve years, when Mr. Johnstone of Alva intimated to Mr. Malcolm that his brother, the well-known Governor Johnstone of Ceylon, could procure for John an appointment in the military service of the Company. All felt that the ap

may

« PreviousContinue »