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A SIATIC JOURNAL
SKETCH OF THE HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATION OF MARQUESS HASTINGS.
(Concluded from p. 16.)
Hitherto it has not been deemed necessary to transgress the strict limits prescribed to a history of Lord Hastings' administration, or to dwell upon occurrences of minor importance, which are absorbed by events of such magnitude as those already described. The chastisement of the Pirates seated in the Gulphs of Persia and Arabia, and of the insurgents in Kattywar, by expeditions fitted out under the Presidency of Bombay; and the curbing, at different periods, of certain restless chiefs (for it became a prime object of his Lordship to repress at once the smallest indication of a marauding or refractory spirit), are of the latter subordinate character. There is, nevertheless, one transaction deserving of notice, which happened during the epoch of his government, although the Marquess is concerned in it so far only as it afforded an occasion for the display of his promptitude of arrangement, whereby succour was supplied to a distant detached quarter, in spite of the demand for troops created by his extensive plans.
The British possessions in Ceylon had, since our acquisition of it, been
Asiatic Journ.—No. 98.
confined to a belt of sea coast, extending round the island, from the interior of which we were excluded. The reigning prince of Candy, whose restless disposition had caused repeated incursions upon the British frontier, became at length so obnoxious to his own subjects, through his oppression and cruelty, that in the year 1815, the nobles and people of his kingdom invited the British Governor, Lieut.Col. Brownrigg, to assist them in throwing off the yoke of his insupportable tyranny. An expedition, accordingly, penetrated into the interior, and was joined by the Adigars, or chief persons, A detachment of our troops entered the capital of Candy, and a revolution was effected, which terminated that long continued singular division of territory, and opened an intereourse between the interior and the coast. The revolution, however, was not so complete as to extinguish the germs of disaffection to British dominion; for about two years after (October 1817), a rebellion broke out in different parts of the island. The insurgents were headed by a pretender to the Candian crown, and the plan seemed to have been long prepared, and regularly orWol. XVII, R
ganized. The spirit of revolt, though met by British detachments wherever it appeared, spread from province to province in the interior, and nearly all the military posts were surrounded by the rebels. By treachery, by ambuscades, by marches amid swamps and forests, and by the havock caused by sickness, the army sensibly diminished, and application was made by Gen. Brownrigg to the Governor General of India for assistance.* Marquess Hastings, though the great Mahratta war had scarcely closed, promptly despatched the military reinforcements which the Governor of Ceylon demanded; and by the end of November 1818, the rebellion was subdued. The process of amelioration, which had commenced in the Governments of Continental India, was communicated to this island; a new constitution was promulgated for the Candian provinces, adapted to their altered circumstances, and calculated to improve the condition of the people, and secure to them the benefits of impartial justice, and equal protection.T Besides this transaction, there are indeed few occurrences in our Indian insular empire since 1813, which invite our attention. The termination of that protracted contest, which, however severely felt in Europe, enlarged our Eastern possessions, by the expulsion of every rival nation, was succeeded by the transfer of some of the conquered colonies to their former masters. By the treaty with France in 1814, the colonies and factories taken from her during the war were mostly restored, except the island of Mauritius, which was ceded to the crown of Great Britain. In the same year an arrangement was concluded between
* About this period, the promptitude and humanity of lord Hastings were displayed in the relief he afforded to the inhabitants of the Mauritius, when visited by a dreadful calamity, and which was gratefully acknowledged by that Colony.
t see the proclamation, dated 28th of Nov. 1818, in As. Journal, Vol.VIII, p. 504,-and also an article “On Ceylon and its Systems of Government,” ibid. Vol. XIV, p. 3.17.
the British and Netherlands’ Governments, by which the former retained the Cape of Good Hope, and restored the other conquests made from the Dutch in the East, including the island of Java. The settlement of Cochin was exchanged by the latter for the island of Banca, acquired by us in 1812 by a deed of cession from the Sultan of Palembang. Although the military and political measures of Marquess Hastings were thus confined to the continent of India, his attention to the commercial interests of his native country was restricted by no limits whatsoever. Not only does his own mind appear to have originated suggestions for the improvement and extension of trade, but it was ever open to entertain from others whatever schemes appeared likely to promote that object. Abundant proof might have been adduced of that magnanimity, so conspicuous a part of his Lordship's character, which disposes him readily, without the smallest tincture of jealousy, to embrace and cordially patronize whatever projects seem adapted for the advantage of any particular service. Nor is the secret satisfaction that he has “done the state some service," the only reward enjoyed by him, in whose breast the happy idea has been conceived; the same principle which makes his Lordship the patron of such a measure, impels him likewise to confer the just tribute of acknowledgment and approbation upon the real author. The terms in which the Marquess has publicly spoken of the conduct of Sir Thomas Hislop, Sir David Ochterlony, Sir John Malcolm, the Hon. Mr. Elphinstone, and a multitude of other persons, may justly be said to reflect equal credit upon the giver and the receiver of the praise”. “Never,” says Sir J. Doyle,
* The numerous general orders issued by the Marquess, which from the skill displayed in their composition may fairly be ascribed to his pens bear testimony to what has been said in the text. See that respecting Sir John Malcolm, in A. Journal, Vol. X111, p. 611.
his fellow soldier, “was there a man of whom it could be more truly said, self was the only being seemed forgot.”
It was through this liberality of disposition, as well as from an anxiety to befriend the interests of British commerce, that the project suggested by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles for the establishment of a free port as an emporium for trade, in the island of Singapore, was carried into effect by the Marquess in the year 1818. The restraints which it was judged expedient by the Legislature to continue upon the intercourse between Britain and India; the painful and embarrassing circumstances under which our commerce exerted itself to penetrate to the eastward, and among the innumerable clusters of islands, which seem to have been in former ages but a prolongation of the Asiatic continent; the return of the Dutch to these parts, and the renewal of their selfish, exclusive, and grasping policy, suggested to the Governor of Bencoolen the project before us, as a remedy or palliative for all these evils; and, fortunately, the person at the head of the Indian government had a congenial mode of thinking, and discernment sufficient to appreciate the benefits attending its success. The result has, in a manner beyond the most sanguine calculation, confirmed the judgment and sagacity of the measure; the consequences of which in after ages may be felt, when the glory attending Lord Hastings’ military plans, splendid as they are, shall be forgotten."
Another evidence of his Lordship's vigilant attention to the interests of commerce, may be perceived in the recent mission to Siam and Cochin China. Mr. Crawfurd, formerly British resident at the court of Java, who had devoted much attention to the history of the Indian archipelago, and to the commercial capacities of the islands and continental kingdoms of farther India, suggested to Lord Hastings, in 1821, the project of an embassy to the courts of Siam and Cochin China, for political and commercial purposes. His Lordship accordingly patronized this scheme, and appointed Mr. Crawfurd his envoy or agent, in the beginning of 1822, with proper credentials and authority to negociate with these respective courts.” This mission received the utmost attention in Siam, and some civilities were, it is understood, intended as a mark of distinguished and particular respect to the Governor General. It is now ascertained F that by the treaty entered into with the Siamese, the free admission of British commerce is stipulated for, an engagement is entered into that the present duties shall never be increased, and a pledge is given of cordial aid from the officers of government: to obtain more, to effect in its full extent the object contemplated by the Governor General, namely, a free trade with Siam, as enjoyed by the Chinese, could not be accomplished, without entering into such political relations as were at variance with the principles of moderation adopted by his government. The essential objects of the mission were completely gained in Cochin China. Our trade is admitted into that kingdom on the same terms as that of the Chinese, of the Portuguese, and of the French since the year 1818. As a further proof of the confidence inspired by us into the Cochin Chinese government, the Governor General’s agent was indulged with the unusual privilege of returning from Hue, the capital, to the sea-coast by land. It cannot be doubted that the character of the Chief of our Indian empire, and the imposing aspect of his government, have greatly contributed to this fortunate result. These, among many instances of his Lordship's studious endeavours to encourage and extend the commerce of the British empire, concurred with the objects of the Ministry and Parliament of England, by whom the commerce with India was conditionally opened to British subjects in general. This great and important measure, which forms an epoch in the history of India, by a singular coincidence, took place at the same period when his Lordship assumed the reins of government. The act” by which the Indian trade was thus enlarged, comprehended also provisions highly interesting to the welfare of the European and native inhabitants of Hindostan, namely, a church establishment, to consist of a bishop and three archdeacons; and arrangements for the better administration of justice in British India. A farther object of this act was the application of the Company's territorial revenues, which are thereby restricted to the following purposes: 1. The military establishment. 2. The interests of the Company’s debts in England. 3. The expenses of the civil establishments under the three Presidencies. 4. The liquidation of the Company's territorial debt, the bond debt at home, or other purposes appointed by the Court of Directors, with the approbation of the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India. A sum not less than one lac of rupees out of the surplus, is directed to be applied to the establishment of schools, public lectures, or literary institutions for the benefit of
* “Our peculiar gratitude is due to your Lordship, as inhabitants of a settlement which is the first recorded example of a truly free commerce. The rapid and unparalleled prosperity of this cstablishment, planned under your Lordship's auspices, and maintained against jealous rivalry by the vigour and firmness of your counsels, attest the wisdom of your views. You found it, less than four years ago, a village of a couple of hundred idle Malayan fisherinen; and it is now a colony of ten thousand industrious inhabitants, collected from every quarter, and livng together in peace and harmony, under the magic auspices of that freedom and those principles which your Lordship has established and confirmed.” Address from Singapore on Lord Hastings' resignation.
* See the Historical Sketch of Singapore in As. Journal, Vol. XVI., p. 24.
t Supp. to Calcutta Gov. Gazette, Jan. 9, 1823.
t See our account of this mission, As. Journal, vols. XV., p. 567, XVI., pp. 30, 109, &c.
the natives of India. Let us close our examination of Marquess Hastings' administration, by viewing it in connexion with these several objects. It will be convenient to dispose what remains to be said under the following heads: 1. The army. 2. The administration of justice. 3. Literature and education. 4. The present condition of the natives of India. 5. Local embellishments and improvements;–and, lastly, the revenue and financial arrangements down to the year 1822, the term of his Lordship's government.” It is proper to premise, that the Marquess relinquished his high office in consequence of the state of his health, and on account of domestic concerns, contrary to the earnest wishes of his employers. The Chairman of the Court of Directors declared at a Court of Proprietors, by whom the news of his Lordship's resignation was received with general sorrow, that the intimation of the noble Marquess's wish to retire had been answered by a communication to him very much regretting his determination. He added, “I feel a very sincere regret on account of the resignation of the noble Lord, because, I believe no man ever felt a livelier interest in the affairs of this Company, or laboured harder for their success and prosperity than he did.”f The first point for consideration is the military department. The high state of discipline maintained in the Indian army, and the courage and energy evinced by it throughout the different campaigns, would sufficiently attest the diligence with which his Lordship discharged his duty as Commander-in-chief. His active mind descended from the highest to the lowest details of the service in pursuit of improvement, and in the endeavour to infuse those principles which his military education and
* 53 Geo. III., c. 155.
* Marquess Hastings resigned the Government the beginning of January, 1823.
t Debate at the East-India House, Mar. 20, 1828.
extensive experience taught him to regard as the foundation of a soldier's character. The introduction into all native regiments of interpreters; the establishment of a topographical staff; the scrupulous administration of justice; the extinction of pillaging habits in the native soldiers, are some of the means he employed towards improvement. Whilst his Lordship was alive to every subject which concerned discipline and subordination, he never relaxed in his efforts to promote the comfort of the troops, or the interests of their officers. Some of the General Orders issued by his Lordship, are standing memorials of his comprehensive talents; and his admirable commentaries upon the procedure and findings of courts-martial, supply a copious fund of military instruction. It would be endless to particularize the beneficial regulations introduced into the Indian army, during his administration. It early became an object of his Lordship to raise into higher consideration the Company's military officers. It was his constant study “to give to the Indian service that rate in the estimation of society at home, which the incalculable value of India to England, and the gallant elevation of spirit in the Hon. Company's armies, so truly claim.” His regard towards the native troops was displayed in his rigid impartiality in the punishment of every instance of oppression towards them, and in the rewards bestowed upon those individuals who afforded examples of courage and attachment. The welfare of the European soldiery was most zealously attended to by his Lordship. By his General Order, dated 13th March 1822, a committee was apPointed, composed of military and medical officers, to visit every vessel Proceeding with troops to Europe, “for the purpose of minutely inspecting the provisions, medical comforts, and accommodations provided for the men.” But the most striking proof
of his Lordship's attention towards this class is the application made by him to the Court of Directors, when reporting on the state of regimental schools, to obtain libraries for the soldiers. The opinion that such establishments would be attended with considerable influence on the condition, conduct, and morals of the European soldiery, induced them to comply with the Governor-General's request, and accordingly large collections of useful books were sent to Bengal, to form soldiers’ libraries at the principal stations of the army. Moreover, the poor orphan of the British soldier in India finds a refuge from the dangers of idleness and ignorance, the snares of vice, and the horrors of want, in the Calcutta FemaleOrphan Asylum,established under the auspices of Marchioness Hastings, and supported by her patronage. We cannot more appropriately terminate our remarks on this part of his Lordship's administration, than by inserting the following tribute to his military temper from a manly speech of General Sir John Doyle. “No man possessed in a higher degree the happy but rare faculty of attaching to him all who came within the sphere of his command. When they saw their general take upon himself the blame of any failure in the execution of his plans (provided it did not arise from want of zeal or courage), and where they succeeded, giving the whole credit to those he employed, every man found himself safe: an unlimited confidence diffused itself into all ranks, and his army became irresistible.”* In regard to the second point, the administration of justice, one of the first acts of Lord Hastings' government was to appoint a person of eminent talent and qualifications, who was in communication with the highest court in India, the Sudder Dewany Adawlut, to remodel the judicial sys-tem; and an early fruit of the un
* Lord Hastings' own expressions.
* Debate at East-lndia House, 29th May 1822.