Page images

I am on the whole of opinion, that if the Minister has the will he has the power to reform the general administration of the Oude territory, and the failure on his part will proceed from his want of virtue and true wisdom, and not from the want of mere ability.

This experiment with the minister might be tried, pending the reference of the general question to the Honorable Court of Directors, as it would not in any respect violate the rights of the Sovereign of Oude, or induce any degree of interference so great even as has been often exercised under the existing treaty.

If the Minister should do, what I believe him to be fully capable of doing, as far as that depends on ability and knowledge, no future interference on our part would be requisite, and the necessity of any interference, even in the way of advice, soon would cease, as the benefits of moderation and justice would rapidly become manifest to an extent suficient almost to ensure their continuance on the ground of self-interest.

If, instead of this favourable result, the Minister should remain insensible to the duties of his station, and, being deaf to the advice of the Resident, persist in a course of extortion and misrule, then would come that part of the question on which it appears to me to be embarrassing to decide, on account of the difficulty of limiting interference in the internal affairs of another state when once it has been introduced.

Before having recourse to any system of direct interference, I should be strongly disposed to recommend another experiment, consisting of a course of measures devoid of that character.

Continuing our protection to the state of Oude against foreign aggression, we might abrogate that part of the alliance which, on the condition of attention to our advice, binds us to defend the government against internal enemies. We might withdraw all our troops at present stationed in Oude to Cawnpore and Futeghurh, or any one or more stations bordering on Oude, where they would still be available for its defence against foreign aggression. We might also withdraw our Resident to Cawnpore, whence he might carry on such communications as might still be necessary with the court of Lucknow.

The Oude Government would then stand more in awe of its subjects, and would find it more difficult to exercise irresistible oppression, in which case the moderation which our advice had totally failed to inculcate might be forced on the court by the necessity of attending to the voice of the people.

If this were the result of the measures suggested, our future relations with the Court of Lucknow would be on a more satisfactory footing than any that they have ever yet stood on. Entirely abstaining from interference in internal affairs, giving no countenance to oppression or misrule, our duty towards that court would be consined to protection against foreign aggression. The only foreign state with which the Court of Lucknow can come into collision is that of the Goorkhas. Three sides of the Oude territory are bounded by our dominions, the fourth by those of the Goorkha state. Under the circumstances supposed, there would not be any greater danger of collision between those two powers than there is at present. Our mediation would be equally available in any incidental disputes on their mutual frontier, and any positive intentional aggression on either part, it would be our duty to prevent or repel.

I am not aware of any insurmountable impediment to the execution of the measure suggested. It may certainly be said, that it would be an abandonment of those persons at Lucknow and in the Oude territory who enjoy the protection of our Resident against their sovereign. It cannot, however, I conceive, be maintained, that we are bound to shape our policy by consideration for those individuals; such as would not continue to reside securely in Oude without our protection would have to take up their abode in our territory. The system which has prevailed at Lucknow of giving our protection to subjects of the ruler of Oude, appears to me to be highly objectionable. I know not how it commenced, nor why it has been so extensively continued; and whatever system of policy we may pursue towards the Court of Lucknow in other respects, this violation of the rights of the sovereign of a foreign country ought, I conceive, to cease, in every instance in which it is not absolutely impossible, in good faith, to get rid of the incongruity. In most cases it will, I have no doubt, be found, that there is no reasonable obligation on us to continue our protection. With few exceptions, the boon most probably has been voluntary and gratuitous, arising out of the practice which has prevailed at the residency at Lucknow of setting up a jurisdiction in counteraction of that of the ruler of the country, or at least separate from it; a jurisdiction which is unwarrantable and mischievous, and ought, under any circumstances, to be abolished.

The experiment of the withdrawing our troops and our resident, and all cognizance of internal affairs, might fail in one of two ways: the court might possibly continue powerful enough to oppress the people without restraint. Would it in that case be incumbent on us to interfere again for the protection of the people 2 I am inclined to think it would not. Having manifestly withdrawn our countenance from the acts of the government, and left the people at liberty to resist oppression, I do not conceive that we should be more called on to interfere in Oude in consequence of acts of oppression than we should be in any other country in India under our general protection from external aggression. I do not, however, anticipate that this would be the effect of our withdrawing our countenance. The government would surely be, in the first instance, weakened by that proceeding : it would be compelled to have recourse to moderation ; and if strong enough to assert its rights, with a respect for the people sufficient to restrain it from oppression, nothing could he more desirable. A system of oppression cannot be carried on without an overwhelming military force ; a large military force requires large resources; oppression tends inevitably to diminish resources, and to prevent the regular payment of the army; an ill-paid Army becomes mutinous, and is a source of weakness instead of strength ; the evil, therefore, would cure itself, the government would not be strong enough to practice unresisted oppression. The possible weakness of the government presents another chance of bad consequences from withdrawing our superintendence: anarchy might ensue. If it were partial, and did not affect our frontiers, I do not see that it would require us to alter our course; if it did affect our interests, we should be at liberty to take measures to put down the evil essectually. It could not be universal without reducing the court of Oude to the necessity of imploring our protection on any terms, and we might then, with the entire consent of the court, which could never be obtained under any other circumstances, adopt any plan that we might concieve most effectual for the future government of the Oude territories.

Regarding the question in every point of view in which it occurs to me, I see nothing so discouraging as necessarily to deter us from adopting the measure of withdrawing our troops and our resident, if it should be rendered expedient, by the perseverance of the Oude government in acts of oppression, notwithstanding our advice to the contrary. The objects of that measure would be to compel the court to moderation and tolerably good government, and to teach it to act in its internal administration without our interference and support; objects which it must be admitted to be very desirable to attain, and both of which will not, most probably, be accomplished in any other way, if our previous advice should fail to produce effect.

Supposing this scheme of withdrawing not to be approved, what other methods offer themselves of bringing about a better administration of affairs in Oude 2 I would still earnestly recommend our abstaining from taking any share in the administration beyond what might be necessary to check extortion and oppression. With this view the native administration might remain, as at present, subject in all its branches to the King and his Minis. ters. The resident might have power to insist on redress in cases of extortion and oppression. It would be necessary that he should have assistants in the work of check ; and none could be relied on but European officers, who might be appointed to the several divisigns of the Oude territory, one to each, visiting occasionally every part of his charge as might be advisable. The assistants ought to possess the power of obtaining the necessary knowledge to enable them to exercise their duty of check efficiently; they ought to know the just claims of the Government on the people, in order that they might be able to detect extortion. In cases of that character, or of other oppression, they might have the power of advising and remonstrating with the local native authorities, and of reporting to the resident, who, on his part, would use his influence with the government in order to obtain redress, if the local authorities did not, or would not, afford it. Neither the resident nor any of the European assistants under him, ought to issue any orders, or possess any direct authority, or take any part in the collection of the revenue, or in receipts or disbursements of any kind connected with the administration of the Oude dominions: their powers being limited to the degree of inspection and interference indispensable to make them efficient instruments of check, and all executive offices being held by the native officers under their "wn native government. Whenever the time for removing our interference might return, the recal of the powers of check conferred on the resident and his assistants, would leave the native administration in full operation, uninjured by our temporary intervention. I do not recommend this system as being so efficacious for the right government of the country * one of more direct authority and participation in the administration, but I hold it to be he system which more than any other that could be adopted, combines an effectual check on t o worst abuses of misrule with the maintenance of the sovereignty of the native -ruler himpaired, and the preservation of national institutions unaltered. These were the obJoets of the interference which was organized in the Nizams' territories in 1821, and this was the system then introduced. It became a part of the duty of the officers of check *mployed to aid, in concert with native authorities, in settling the just demand of the

Affairs of OUDE. D

government on the landholders, because such was the want of good faith of the Minister of of that country that there was no other way of ascertaining the proper limit of that demand, or of discovering whether complaints of extortion were true or unfounded. The same proceedings might be necessary in Oude, from the same cause, but it is a more direct participation in the administration than I should be disposed to advocate, if the fair demand could be ascertained without it, which in Oude perhaps might be practicable.

If neither of the schemes above suggested should be approved, it seems to me that nothing is left but the assumption of the superintendance and direction of the entire administration, and it remains to be considered in what mode this can most advisably be carried into effect.

One method of exercising such interference is, that if a Minister should govern the country, subject to the control of the resident. This implies that the Minister would be selected or at least supported by the resident, and thus be made independent of his sovereign. The authority of the sovereign would be set aside and the servant would be made to domineer over his master. This must be the most grating of all degradations. I do not conceive that we have any right thus to depose the sovereign, except in cases which would warrant actual war. But, waiving that question, it is evident that the success of this plan must depend on the goodness of the Minister. If the Minister were a good one, our interference would be unnecessary, and if he were a bad one it must on this scheme fail. The Minister would profess to be guided by the injunction of the resident, but would have the power of deceiving him: and the resident would have no means of detecting or checking numberless acts of mal-administration. Excepting only that by accident the British Government or the resident might hit on a better Minister than the Prince would select, which is by no means certain, this scheme would be totally inefficient, while the virtual deposition of the sovereign would make it in principle as objectionable as any that could be devised with a view to the most complete efficiency. The legitimate sovereign having been set aside by an act of paramount power, whether warrantable or otherwise, avowedly for the purpose of introducing an improved administration, there is no reason why one of the servants should be vested with authority to counteract the very purpose for which alone that questionable proceeding had been reluctantly adopted,—a proceeding which would at least require complete success for its justification.

Another step in the progress of interference would be to place the whole administration under the resident, not governing through a Minister, but exercising himself all the powers of a Minister, with only native officers as his subordinate instruments. It is my opinion that this plan also would not be eslicient alone, and without the aid of any but native officers the resident could not sufficiently check their proneness to corruption and extortion. If we are to set aside the power of the sovereign, and introduce our own, we are at least bound to render the measure efficient for the good of the people; it is the only plea that we can have or the violence that we should thereby commit.

If, therefore, our direct assumption of the administration of the Oude territory be deemed unavoidable, I should recommend its adoption in a shape which, judging from reason and experience, would ensure its efficiency. The resident might have the supreme control, with European superintendence under his orders in the several divisions of the country, selected from the civil or military servants of the British Government in India, the subordinate establishments under the superintendents consisting of native officers. This plan was followed with eminent success in the Nagpoor territories during the minority of the Raja, and it is the one which would, I conceive, prove most efficient in Oude, if we were compelled to interfere directly in the management of the internal affairs of that country. At the same time all the native institutions being maintained unimpaired, the sovereignty could be restored to the King whenever that measure might be deemed advisable, by the mere withdrawing of the authority of the resident and the European superinterdents, and by the substitution of a native Minister and native superintendents, the machinery of the government in other respects being unaltered by our intervention.

In conclusion, I shall briefly recapitulate the substance of the opinions which I have offered in this minutc.

1. I conceive it to be an indispensable duty to prevent the conversion of our protection to the Oude Government into the support of tyranny and oppression.

2. We ought therefore to endeavour strenuously to induce the Government of Oude to improve its administration, without direct interference on our part; and the Government of Oude, if it does not want the will, has fully the power to effect that object.

3. If our endeavours should fail, it would be desirable to withdraw our troops and our resident from Oude, leaving the government to manage its internal affairs without countenance or intervention on our part. o

4. If the plan of withdrawing should be rejected, a system of intervention and check such as was established in the Nizam's territories in 1821, for the purpose of preventing extortion and oppression, without participation in the executive Government, would be preferable to the assumption of that direct authority in the administration by which the sovereignty of the Prince must be entirely set aside.

5. If it be deemed warrantable and necessary to take the administration completely into our own hands, and to supersede the sovereignty of the Princes, a system similar to that pursued at Nagpoor during the minority of the Raja would be preferable to any one in which the representative of our Government would have to rely solely on the aid of native functionaries, in which case he could not be expected singly to exercise a sufficient check over the extortion and oppression which it would be the purpose of our interference to prevent; and if we are to go the length of virtually deposing the sovereign, and inducing our own exclusive authority into the administration, we are bound to make our interference effica

cious for the the protection of the people. (Signed) C. T. METCALFE.

P. S.—I had not seen the Governor-General's instructions to the Resident at Lucknow of the 25th of August when this Minute was written.

(Signed C. T. M.
(True Copy,)

Chief Secretary to Government.


No. 1.

Copy of a Letter from the Governor-General of India in Council to the Court of Directors of the East India Company.

(Political Department,) Ootacamund, 11th August, 1834.

HoNourable SIRs, –In our despatch of the 16th of June last, we promised that we should take an early opportunity of addressing your honourable Court with reference to the subjects noticed in the communications from the Vice-President in Council of the 8th and 22d of May. We have since received a further communication, dated the 31st May, from the same authority in connexion with the former letters, and we now propose to take this opportunity of noticing the subjects of all three communications.

2. We have no hesitation in expressing our concurrence in the view which has been taken by the Vice-President in Council relative to the separation of the territories which are to form the Governments of Agra and Fort William respectively; and we are of opinion that all the territory which is now under the Sudder Court and Sudder Board at Allahabad, including Benares and Goruckpore, should be assigned to the Agra Presidency.

... ... 3. Regarding the share to be taken by the Agra Government in the conduct of our political relations with the surrounding independent states, we confess that we feel considerable embarrassment. Your honourable Court has recognized us, who constitute the Supreme Government, as the organ of the diplomatic functions of the state, and we are sensible that we could not delegate to another authority any portion of the responsibility which attaches to the exercise of those important duties.

4. The tract of country adjacent to the Agra Presidency is that in which are situated the states with whom we have the most important political relations; and it has hitherto been the practice for the Governor-General in Council to select such individuals for his representatives and agents in that quarter as secmed best sitted by their abilities and experience to perform with credit the considential and arduous duties confided to them.

5. Sir Charles Metcalfe is so peculiarly well qualified for the task, that our confidence in him would be unlimited, and we are decidedly of opinion, that to avail ourselves of the advice and assistance of that eminent officer, with regard to our diplomatic relations in the neighbourhood of the Agra Government, would be in the highest degree beneficial to the public service.

6. But the nomination to the high office of Governor of Agra rests with the home authorities, and it is hardly necessary for us to observe, that it might so happen that the personage selected should not possess those qualifications which, in the opinion of the Governor-General in Council, would be necessary to give weight to his suggestions in all matters connected with our various and complicated relations. It will immediately occur to your honourable Court, that however judicious the selection in all respects, some experience of Indian politics would be required to enable the Governor, who had not previously served in the country, to form a correct and satisfactory judgment on the various and frequently embarrassing political questions which would be submitted to his decision.

7. We feel that to divest the Agra Governor of all political authority is in some measure to detract from his official consequence; yet we are of opinion that this is a minor evil in comparison with that which would be experienced by the interposition between us and the confidential representatives of the Governor-General, of a functionary who is not appointed by us, whom, except in a case of the greatest emergency, we could not venture to suspend or remove; who on the other hand would have no share in the appointment of the

« PreviousContinue »