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subject of India, and the economy of the British government in that quarter.
The design of this volume, is to describe the beneficent effects of the English government on the moral and political state of India, and to suggest and urge the proper measures for rendering those effects more complete and securing their permanence: the description necessarily includes many facts illustrative of the execrable quality and policy of the native governments, so many of the wretched subjects of which have been rescued by the English cannon. The author has evidently expended much labour on the subject, though he has employed too little on the book. Yet of the book he intimates no diffident opinion when he says, (we are not certain whether of this volume separately, or of the whole work,) 'Should the young adventurer to India honour it with a perusal, he may venture to assure' him, that he will possess more knowledge of the country and its inhabitants, than the author himself could obtain when he visited it, after much pains and extensive reading.' This implies, that much of what the work contains was learnt by the author's personal observation, or from such testimony on the spot as he had the means of verifying. And, so instructed, he demands to be received on his own authority, unsupported, except in a very few instances, by the production of any of that written or other testimony on which he must necessarily have relied in many parts of his work. This forbearance of reference to his au-' thorities, of whatever nature they are, is justified by a reason which was probably never before assigned for a similar omission, by any writer whose work included a considerable portion of controverted history.
'Of the truth of the greater part of the positions attempted to be proved in the foregoing pages, the author, from having been for several years an eye witness of Indian manners, had the fullest proof and conviction: For this reason, chiefly, the ostentatious display of documents and authorities to confirm his reasonings, or to authenticate the facts, has been avoided. Abundance of these might, no doubt, have been adduced; but, as they could furnish no additional evidence to his own mind, he was not aware that they might have afforded greater confidence to the reader who had not the same previous impressions.' p. 3S0.
Now the reason noted by the Italics in this passage, will be admitted as quite sufficient for the omission of the documents and authorities, in stating such facts as lay within the scope of the author's personal inspection, and in reasoning from them. But the same omission obtains, and reduces the reader to the same dependence on the author's single authority, in the part of this volume which rapidly and in a spirited manner narrates the progress, by conquest, of the British empire in India. And the prominent object of this historical sketch is to justify all the wars which the English have waged in that country, and especially to celebrate, with the. intensest eulogy, all the military proceedings of Marquis Wellesley, the most auspicious star of nobility, according to our author, t,hat ever rose from the western horizon to shed the light of peace and joy on the plains of Hindostan. We should have thought Dr. T. might have been aware this subject ought not to have been touched by any man not surrounded by 'documents and authorities' to the breadth of about a mile square, and qualified and prompt to lead the inquirer to each, in ns turn, of the papers or piles of papers over this delightful area, — if indeed it were not certain that they would both come to their natural death long enough before they had finished the investigation. Declining such research and reference, it was easy for Dr. T. to make a most magnificent epic, in which ambition and valour, though burning at the view of glory, are seen waiting with almost the forbearance of a couple of quakers, under the solemn restraint of justice, and at last bursting forth to battle and conquest only when the alternative arrived, unprovoked, of fighting or perishing. And then the conqueror displayed a clemency unparalleled, as if by a sublime and Christian revenge for having been driven to the necessity of con-' quering. As to the career of the Marquis Wellesley, never was there such a combination of prudence and daring, of promptitude and generous delay, of boundless ambition and punctilious rectitude. A huge gang of pagan and Mahometan princes and chiefs, inspirited and directed by the French, was leaguing against the British empire ; the Marquis, by an astonishing sagacity, descried the conspiracy; he doubtless deplored it as the approach of war and conquest, he prepared for it, he left it to develope itself; and then, by his generals at least, he went, he saw, he conquered. Our historian makes it so clear always that the war was inevitable, on the part of 'the British, and that had they delayed its commencement another month they had been undone. Now, we are not taking upon us to contradict one particle of all this; nay, we should think it might be probably surmised, that a Christian government, which has shewn such a profound reverence for the idols of Hindostan,- would, even for religion's sake, make conscience respecting the rights of their worshippers. But we mean to say, that Dr. T. cannot seriously expect that a history, which thus un-., ceremoniously assumes every thing in favour of the English, should be held of the smallest authority. He might surely have considered that such a view of the matter was at any rate a thing to be proved, not to be assumed. And this proof, admitting it to have been practicable, would have required such avi analysis of a mass of documents, as had been quite out of place in a work like the present; documents which, as far as courage has any where been found to prosecute the onerous investigation, have satisfied no examiner, not predetermined to be satisfied, of the immaculate purity of British motives and measures in all the Indian -wars. We repeat, such a thing was not to be assumed, unless it were self-evident that the power, which has for so many years been fiercely intent on war nearer home, must necessarily be all peace, and forbearance, and moral scrupulosity, in the East, — where conquest was so easy, where so many circumstances would furnish commodious pretexts, where the transactions have been, from distance and defective information, so little within the cognizance of the national judgement, and where (contrary, we confess, to what we have just admitted as the antecedent probability,) the multitude of the gods, which the English have had the piety to revere, has not been clearly proved to reinforce their virtue by a sense of accountableness to divine government. Nor can the rectitude of the martial economy of India, during the periods in which it has been directed by the particular individuals whom Dr. T. singles out to be invested in the very thickest of his eulogy, be assumed on the strength of the personal qualities, so well known at home, of those individuals ; unless arrogance and impetuosity are liable to be transmuted into their opposites on the outward bound passage, somewhere between Gravesend and Calcutta, and to recover themselves at the same fioint of latitude and longitude on the return. A similar aw of nature, operating somewhere in the Indian Ocean, must have been also the cause of the astonishing and infallible foresight which, according to Dr. T., was displayed immediately on the arrival in India, by his most favourite hero and statesman; a personage who gained some notoriety, a little while before he went, by an elaborate speech in parliament, demonstrating that in nine weeks precisely the French republican armies must disband and disappear.
Our author's courage, in justifying in the gross the wars by which we have acquired so large a portion of Asia, i« the more conspicuous, as he accepts for them all the responsibility which could attach to wars with any othsr powers, declining the benefit of one plausible argument in vindication, namely, the intrinsic nullity of the political rights of many of the Indian sovereigns.' He admits with all gravity the indefeasible claims, the • divine right' (we suppose it must be) of each royal barbarian proprietor of •laves, provided he does not hold this possession by usurpation from a more rightful barbarian. And he speaks with apparent exultation of the return of the old Mysore dynasty, through the generosity or policy of the British at the conquest of that kingdom, to a semblance of the royal state of which they had been deprived forty years by Hyder and Tippoo. Now when we read of such persons, as Dr. T. and all other writers on India describe many of the Mahometan and Hindoo sovereigns and chiefs to be,—miscreants incessantly mad on the plunder and slaughter of one another's subjects, practising all manner of oppressions on their own, and as ignorant of all the wise and useful principles of governing as the very wolves and hyaenas whose appropriate virtues they emulate and excel, we know that such persons have no right to be rulers of mankind, in whatsoever manner they have become such; and therefore, if there were any great civilized power, that, together with a concern for the security of its own territories, felt a profound and really disinterested solicitude to mend the condition of the miserable population continually crushed and lacerated by these tyrants, we are not sure it would be bound, in morality, to be exceedingly nice about the manner of demolishing their thrones. But as England is not so romantic a power as to make conquests from pure benevolence, we approve Dr. Tennant's declining to employ this compendious argument, and judging the merits of the controversy between the British and native powers on the principle of. their having equal right in their respective territories. But the question taken on this ground is hopelessly involved in all the intricacy created by mutual ambition, resentment, intrigue, and encroachment. The Doctor's wisest course, therefore, would probably have been, not to advance one word about it; but, to commence by saying, that since, as a matter of fact, the British empire in Asia has attained, wrong or right, a prodigious extent and power, and since, whether acquired wrong or right, no one can advise its, relinquishment, it is worth while to examine what effects it has already produced, and what means may be suggested for rendering it still more beneficial to the inhabitar»t9..—*Still Dr. T.'s brief narration, if we put-its justificatory purpose out of view, may be of service to some readers;, as stating the order in which our last Indian war* took place, the powers combined or single that we had to fight, the quick successes, and the wonderful results. The Mahratta confederacy was regarded, on its opening out, as one of the most formidable antagonists that had ever tried the British strength in the East. The British promptly committed themselves to the trial; and the issue to which they brought it, as related in the following sentences, will not at all raise their military reputation, as it amounts to no more than a proof that a brace or two of wild cats are ill advised to set upon a lion.
'In the short space of three months, a succession of events had taken place, of such importance as completely to change the rehetive condition of the British empire, and the different states of India. Seven hundred pieces of cannon were taken from the enemy, eight fortresses subdued, either by siege or escalade, their immense armies routed or dispersed, and the force of the French and Mahratta confederacy crushed, throughout a territory which extends n 'thousand miles square.' . .
* Thus in every quarter of this extended warfare was the British nation triumphant. On the shores of Guzurat and Balasore, on the mountains of the Deccan, and in the plains of Delhi, her banners were supported with equal energy and spirit, and victory every where continued steadily to follow them.' p. 24.
Dr. T. at length cools from battle and victory, into the recollection, that it is the historian's duty to hint the evil, if any such there be, as well as celebrate the good; and we were sincerely gratified to see that his admiration of the peerless Wellesleys was capable of admitting, that the pagan cowards might be beaten or frightened at the cost of full as many guineas as the feat was worth.
♦ The future narrator of our late campaigns in the East may probably remark, that they have been almost uniformly attended with too lavish an expenditure. Although the Mahratta war continued only for the space or a few months, and the hostilities against Tippoo were concluded with almost equal dispatch, yet a debt had been contracted upon the treasury of upwards of thirty millions sterling. Had theseoperations been protracted by any unfortunate erent, or had they ■ even, lasted the usual period of such immense undertakings, success would have been doubtful, or rather unattainable from the impossibility of commanding a sum adequate to their expence. In India, where the rate of interest is so enormous, and where war is an occurrence unhappily so frequent, its expence must be reduced to a scale more nearly corresponding to the resources of the country. In the progress of increasing territory, and of annually accumulating debt, our career in' Asia is rapid and dangerous j nor is it difficult to foresee that abyss of destruction into which even a series of victories must ultimately lead.' p. SI.