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THE OUDE PAPERS. IN forming a judgment of political questions, we have much more frequently to lament the deficiency of evidence than to be oppressed by its redundancy. No person, however, who has had the patience and resolution to toil through the ponderous volume of official papers concerning the transactions with the Government of Oude, consisting of more than one thousand folio pages, would sigh for more information upon the subject, how reluctant soever he may be, out of regard for the characters of those involved in the transactions, to desire less. This mass of documents has been submitted to the Proprietors of East-India Stock to enable them, first, to appreciate a portion of the services of the Marquess of Hastings during his administration of their affairs in India; secondly, to decide upon the claims of his Lordship, asserted in his Summary of the events of his government, to the merit of releasing the Nawaub Vizier of Oude from a state of painful and degrading thraldom; and, lastly, to judge of the propriety of the removal of Col. Baillie from the post of British Resident at Lucknow. The last point is that to which the papers, in their present state, are chiefly applicable.
We should have been extremely glad to be relieved from the ungrateful, as well as arduous, office of discussing the topics of controversy between Lord Hastings and Col, Baillie : the fulfilment of this office, however, we conceive to be imposed upon us, as a duty; we have, therefore, no alternative but to enter upon it with as much and as scrupulous impartiality as possible.
None who have perused these documents can doubt that the task committed to Col. Baillie was of the most difficult, delicate, and perplexing nature. It would be impossible to convey, to those who are absolute strangers to the character of Indian princes, and that of castern diplomacy in general, an adequate description of the artifices, the baseness, the' effiontery, and the Asiatic Journ, Vol. XXI. No. 121. B
tergiversation exhibited at this “ corrupt and abominable court.” Not only are equivocation and falsehood detected throughout the proceedings of the late Vizier, but that personage avails himself of the peculiarities of the Persian language to justify, in a manner, his recourse to such expedients. He had distinctly promised to the Begum, Shums-oon-Nissa, to give up certain property claimed by her Highness, which promise he subsequently refused to perform, alleging as follows :-“ With regard to your Highness's complaint, regarding the house Mutchee Buhwun, it is very surprising that your Highness should not have at once understood, that my promise to give it up to you was merely a respectful mode of refusing. . Out of respect, I could not flatly refuse your Highness, and, therefore, I was induced to make a promise” (p. 480). Again, which is more germane to the matter before us, when Col. Baillie reminded his Excellency of certain pledges, he replies," he never made any positive promises ;” and, with reference to certain articles of agreement, regularly committed to writing, and executed, he says,
" that document may be considered like any other correspondence between us, which is still subject to discussion, because what is written there is still dependent on discussion, and on the satisfaction of my mind” (p. 531).
Although the transactions which led eventually to the removal of Col. Baillie occurred during the government of Lord Hastings, and subsequently to the death of the late Nawaub, yet it is impossible to disconnect that act and its immediate causes from antecedent transactions, extending, in fact, throughout the whole period of that gentleman's Residentship. For example: Lord Hastings specifies, as one ground of dissatisfaction, a failure in the exact degree of respect due from the Resident to the present Nawaub.
“ I myself have witnessed,” observes his Lordship,“ in Major Baillie towards the Nawaub Vizier, little points of behaviour which could not but wound his Excellency. When the Resident, who had received checks from me by letter on that very head, could not avoid sliding into the error while I was present, it must be imagined that at other times he has been still less measured in his deportment (p. 925). One of the complaints alleged by the late Vizier against the Resident was a failure of respect towards his Excellency.
It is matter of notoriety that by a treaty concluded in the year 1801, between the Marquess of Wellesley and the late Nawaub Vizier, the latter ceded a portion of his territories to the Company, in consideration of being absolved from the payment of an annual subsidy for the British troops stationed in Oude, by virtue of the existing subsidiary alliance. The authority of the Nawaub in the territories reserved to him was expressly declared by the treaty, and in the final arrangement in the following year, to be completely established, and to be exercised through his own officers and servants; the British Government engaging to guarantee his authority, and the Vizier engaging to establish, in his reserved dominions,“ such a system of administration (to be carried into effect by his own officers) as shall be conducive to the prosperity of his subjects, and be calculated to secure the lives and property of the inhabitants; and his Excellency will always advise with, and act in conformity to, the counsel of the officers of the said Hon. Company.”
The expediency and policy of the latter stipulation must be apparent from the consideration that the maintenance of public order and tranquillity in Oude devolved upon the Company's troops, which might be employed as instruments for oppressing the people. And so, in fact, it happened; for the tyrannical system of government in this state, the avaricious disposition of the sovereign, and the shameful ab
of his subordinate ministers,
seem to have exacted all the zemindars to open rebellion, and the Company's sepoys were necessarily engaged in the detestable service of overpowering resistance to tyranny. The revenue system of Oude is thus described by the Bengal Government to the Court of Directors (p: 789):
When the lands are let in farm, they are leased on exorbitant terms. The farmer, with a view both to fulfil his engagements and to secure a profit to himself during the limited period of his tenure, naturally exercises rigour and oppression within the limits of his authority. When the lands are held aumanee, that is, placed under charge of an officer of the Government appointed to collect the revenue, that officer is rendered responsible for the realization of the imposed jumma, and the excess of the assessment is generally such as cannot be levied without extortion, violence, and injustice. When a compliance with such demands is refused, the farmer, aumil, or officer, represents the zemindar or under-renter to be a defaulter and rebel, and urges the necessity of employing 'troops for his coercion. Thus the Vizier employs the British troops as the instrument of these wide-extended exactions, while their presence, and the knowledge of the obligations imposed on the British Government to suppress disorders within his Excellency's country, precludes that natural remedy which overstrained and unprotected oppression carries within itself.
The character of a great majority, if not the whole of the Vizier's Amils,” was extremely bad : one of them is represented as refusing to assist the British troops called in at his requisition, and secretly inciting the rebellious zemindar to resistance, that he might reap advantage from the confiscation of his property!
In the territories ceded by the Nawaub to the Company, a settlement of the revenue had been effected, which precluded disputes, and preserved the landholders from oppression ; it therefore became an object with our Government to impress upon bis Excellency the necessity, with regard to his own interests as well as the Company's, of adopting a settlement in his reserved dominions, conformably to his engagement. As the British Government, by the terms of the treaty, was authorised to offer its advice, Lord Minto and his council, in 1811, proposed a plan of reform in the revenue administration of Oude, which is reducible to four heads, or fundamental principles : first, a just and moderate assessment of the revenue, to be settled with all the landholders; secondly, a settlement for a fixed term not less than three years; thirdly, the conclusion of engagements, in regular gradations, from the government officer to the ryot ; fourthly, the guarantee of those engagements by the Government, and the establishment of a mode of obtaining redress in cases of their being violated. These measures it became the duty of the Resident to urge upon the Vizier for adoption.
There was, at first, a decided manifestation of compliance on the Vizier's part, which, however, in the sequel, proved to have been insincere, or to have given way to the representations of his confidential advisers, who were interested in the perpetuation of abuses which the system of reform was designed to remedy. The abrogation of the existing judicial and police system, in -which the sole will of the prince was the suprema lex, and the establishment of courts of justice for redress of grievances, probably first alarmed the Vizier's jealousy. The changes in the revenue department were recommended by the prospect of an augmented tribute to his treasury; but to be called upon relinquish his arbitrary controul over the courts, appeared to his greed despotic mind, a gratuitous sacrifice of his rights, dignity, and authority : When the details of the reform came to be discussed, the Vizier's seri were inore and more multiplied. Lerd Minto recommended that, inste.
of farming districts to Amils, officers of the Government (Ameene, or Tehsildars), should be appointed to ascertain the actual assets and resources of the country, and to conclude Mofussil:settlements, on the part of Governe ment, directly with the zemindars or landholders. In the course of the discussions, a distinct claim was advanced by the British Resident to the virtual appointment of the Ameens; and he, moreover, in the draft of purwannah, directing the abolition of the farming system, had assigned, as a motive for the change, the advice and concurrence of the Company's Government, whose interests, the Vizier is made to say, are identified with my own.” Both the claim and the clause were firmly resisted by the Vizier ; and the former seems, in our humble judgment, directly at variance with the terms of the treaty, which declares that the reforin shall be carried into effect by his Excellency's own officers. In regard to the clause, although the Resident tells the Nawaub that his objection to it is “a cavil, obviously admitting of an inference hostile to his avowed sentiments of friendship to the British Government, as well as desire to conform with its advice” (p. 213); and that its rejection is “injudicious, - unbecoming -indelicate in the extreme” (p. 199): yet he subsequently acknowledges, in his letter to the Bengal Government (p. 221), that he entertained a donbt “ of our positive right to demand the insertion of the words in question in a public proclamation to be issued, under the Vizier's seal, to his subjects."
These, and a variety of other grounds of discussion and disagreement between the Vizier and the Resident, necessarily induced the Bengal Government to deliberate upon the just interpretation to be given to the stipulation in the treaty, which required his Excellency to seek the advice and concurrence of the Company
It appears evident that the impression upon Col. Baillie's mind led him to consider that the Vizier was bound to comply with every suggestion made on the part of the British Government, at least, with every one from which, after discussion, that Government did not recede. He observes (p. 592), “ I have often had occasion to comment on the Vizier's misconstruction of that essential principle of the alliance subsisting between the two states, which prescribes his universal consultation with the officers of the British Government in the ordinary exercise of his authority, and his regulating his proceedings by their advice.” He observes, in another place (p. 160),
On the general question of a right in the British Government to offer its opinion and advice regarding the selection and appointment of officers to stations of high trust and importance in his Excellency's administration, I observed that this right had been constantly exercised, and had never once been disputed, since the relation now happily subsisting between the two states' was established; that it was founded on the very nature of this relation in itself, and was clearly recognized and confirmed by the spirit of the treaty of 1801, and of his Excellency's subsequent engagement with Marquess Wellesley, as well as hy recorded instances in practice during the government of the late Nawauh Asuf-ood-Dowlah, and since his Excellency's accession to the musnud; and that if his Excellency's obligation to conform to the counsels of the British Government" in all affairs connected with the ordinary government of his dominions, and with the usual exercise of his authority," did not imply an obligation to consult and to be guided by the counsels of the British Government, in the selection and appointment of officers to accomplish a reform in his administration, it could not, in my judgment, be susceptible of any other interpretation.
This mistake, if such it be, was extremely natural from the indefinite and culiar nature of the engagement. The Bengal Government, however, saw