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HARDINGE AND DALHOUSIE
It is not the purpose of the present work to narrate the history of wars and annexations. Nor are the wars and annexations of Auckland and Dalhousie, with all the bitter controversy to which they gave rise, an attractive subject to a writer who desires to confine his story to the condition of the people. But the economic history of India is incomplete without some reference to the enormous expenditure caused by wars, or to the extension of the Empire effected by annexations. We propose therefore, in this chapter, to narrate very briefly the leading incidents of the administration of Hardinge and Dalhousie, as we have narrated the leading acts of Auckland and Ellenborough in the last chapter.
When Lord Ellenborough was recalled from India in 1844, Sir Henry Hardinge was selected to succeed him, and a better selection could not have been made. Hardinge was a brave soldier, and, like many true soldiers, was a man of peace. He had taken a distinguished part in the Peninsular War against Napoleon's forces, and. had stood by Sir John Moore when he received his fatal wound in the field of Corunna. He had then taken a part in the hard-fought battle of Albuera, and had been wounded at Vittoria. He was present in the Waterloo campaign, and was in attendance on Marshal Blücher at the battle of Ligny, when his teft hand was shattered by a round shot, and had to be amputated.
After the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, Hardinge entered Parliament, and retained his seat for
over twenty years. He married the sister of Lord Castlereagh in 1821, and entered 'the Cabinet as Secretary at War, in succession to Lord Palmerston, in 1828. He remained a consistent Tory, and became Secretary at War once more in 1841, when Sir Robert Peel came back to power. And he held that appointment till 1844, when he was selected to succeed Lord Ellenborough in India in his sixtieth year. The appointment was no distinction for a Minister of his position and eminence; and Sir Robert Peel spoke the simple truth when he said, two years after, that in accepting the post of Governor-General of India, Sir Henry .Hardinge had “made a great sacrifice from a sense of public duty."
Scarcely eighteen months had elapsed from the date of his landing at Calcutta, when he was forced into a war which was not of his seeking. Ranjit Singh, the great ruler of the Punjab, died in 1839; and the magnificent Sikh army which he had created became uncontrollable when his restraining hand was withdrawn. Like the Pretorian Guards of ancient Rome they became masters of the situation; they formed Panchyets in every regiment and obeyed no other power; and they set up and deposed men in authority. Anarchy followed with frequent revolutions; and the brother of Ranjit Singh's widow was tried and condemned by the military Panchyets, and shot by a party of soldiers. And in November 1845 the magnificent but misguided Sikh army, consisting of 60,000 soldiers, 40,000 armed followers, and 150 guns, crossed the Sutlej and invaded British India.
The commander of the Sikh army, Lal Singh, was a traitor, and probably wished the destruction of the army he ded. In the first action with the British, at Moodkee, Lal Singh fled at the beginning of the battle, and so caused the defeat of his troops. The second battle, at Ferozshahar, was obstinately fought. British cannon, says an eye-witness, were dismounted, and the ammunition blown into the air; British squadrons were checked in mid career; battalion after battalion was hurled back with shattered ranks; and it was not till after sunset that portions of the Sikh position were finally carried. The battle was renewed in the morning, but through the treachery or cowardice of Lal Singh Kis arıny was soon in full retreat. The third battle was won by the British at Aliwal; but the decisive contest which concluded the war was the battle of Sobreon, fought on February 10, 1846. The Sikh soldiers fought with the valour of crusaders and the determination of heroes. But Tej Singh, the Sikh commander, fled at the first assault, and is supposed to have broken the bridge over the Sutlej to prevent the escape of his army. The British victory was complete, but was dearly purchased by the loss of over two thousand troops, killed and wounded. The river, says Lord Hardinge's son, who was present at the action, was alive with a struggling mass of men. The artillery, now brought down to the water's edge, completed the slaughter. Few escaped; none surrendered. The Sikhs met their fate with that resignation which distinguished their race.
The terms imposed on the conquered people proved the moderation of the conqueror. The Sikh kingdoin must be dismembered so as not to be again a formidable enemy to the British Empire. But subject to this condition, Lord Hardinge (now raised to the peerage) respected the independence of the Punjab. By the treaty of March 1846 the Sikh Darbar abandoned the eastern portion of the Punjab between the Beas and the Sutlej, promised payment of a million and a half sterling or its equivalent in territory, undertook to reduce the army to twenty-five battalions of infantry and 12,000 cavalry, and surrendered all guns which had been pointed
Cunningham's History of the Sikhs.
Viscount Hardinge, by his son and private secretary in India, Charles, second Viscount Hardinge.
against the British army. The Sikh Darbar could not pay the stipulated sum, and a further cession of territory was therefore required. And Kashmir was thus separated from the Punjab, and made over the Golab Singh on payment of £750,000 to the British.
This treaty, 'concluded in March 1846, failed to safeguard the peace of the Punjab. The Sikh Darbar desired that the British troops should be maintained in Lahore to protect the Government. A second treaty of Lahore was accordingly concluded in December 1846. Ranjit Singh's widow, an able but intriguing,woman, was excluded from all power, and received an annual pension of £15,000. A Council of Regency, consisting of eight Sardars, was appointed during the minority of Maharaja Dhalip Singh. A British Resident was appointed with plenary and unlimited power to control and guide the Darbar. A British garrison was maintained in the Punjab during the minority of the sovereign. And it was stipulated that the British Government should receive £220,000 a year towards the expenses of the occupation.
Five days after the conclusion of this treaty, the Governor - General wrote to the Secret Committee : “These terms give the British Resident unlimited authority in all matters of internal administration and external relations during the Maharaja's minority.” 1 And in a General Proclamation which he issued on August 20, 1847, Lord Hardinge announced that he felt "the interest of a father in the education and guardianship of the young Prince.” 2
Major Henry Lawrerce, an officer as brave as he was kindly and courteous, was appointed the first Resident. It is possible to conceive that if Lord Hardinge had remained in India five years longer, and
Parliamentary Papers. Articles of agreement with the Lahore Darbar, 1847, p. 24.
* Parliamentary Papers (Punjab, 1849), p. 53.
if Henry Lawrence had remained in his post for the same period, the Punjab would have remained a strong, friendly, and enlightened Native State. But Lord Hardinge was succeeded by Lord Dalhousie within six months from the date of the General Proclamation. And Major Henry Lawrence too was compelled to leave India on account of ill-health, and was succeeded by Sir Frederick Currie.
Lord Dalhousie was a young Scotch peer, and had succeeded to the earldom in 1838. When Sir Robert Peel came to power on the fall of the Melbourne Ministry, he appointed Lord Dalhousie Vice-President of the Board of Trade in 1843, under Gladstone, who yas the President. And two years after, the young earl succeeded Gladstone as President. In this capacity Lord Dalhousie had to deal with the new railways; and it is significant that he laid before the Prime Minister a scheme for treating railways as a national concern, and for bringing them completely under State control. Sir Robert Peel rightly rejected the idea of a State inanagement of railways for England. Lord John Russell was favourably impressed with the young and industrious nobleman. And when the Liberals came to power, Lord John had the magnanimity to offer to the Tory peer the post of Governor-General of India. Lord Dalhousie accepted the post, and at the early age of thirty-five succeeded the veteran Lord Hardinge in 1848.
Lord Hardinge had taken every possible precaution to secure peace and good administration in the Punjab. A British Resident had been invested with “ full authority to direct and control the duties of every department.” A British force had been stationed at Lahore “ for the protection of the Maharaja and the preservation of the peace of the country.” The British Government had power to occupy any fort or military post in the kingdom “for the security of the capital, and for maintaining the peace of the country.” The Lahore State