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duties, in forwarding with safety these articles of necessity, it was rationally expected that the service would be expedited, or, if retarded, that it would be immediately discovered to what particular persons the delay was imputable, so that censure, or punishment, might be properly applied to the prevention of any future obstruction or loss. The principle of the compact, as it regarded the commandants of corps, was to induce a constant interest to the objects embraced by the agreement, and a consequent anxiety for the preservation of them. To this end a competent monthly sum was allotted to the commanding officer of every corps, sufficient to enable him to keep up, at all seasons, a fall establishment for the conveyance of the tent and stores of h.s battalion for field service; calculated not on the peculiar risks and exigencies of war or peace, but on an estimate applicable to both contingencies. The advantage, of course, to individuals, was considered as derivable from the time of peace, when the deterioration of the articles of equipments would be less, and the accidents connected with the use of them few. This may be taken as a fair description of the contract, which Sir G Barlow was called upon to annul: and which, from the time of its introduction to the moment here spoken of, had been found to answer every expectation of the framer of it, according to the testimony of the most approved generals. *
The season cho en for putting a period to the contract, is also worthy of some 1emark. It was a time of profound peace, not likely to be interrupted by any serious warfare. It might be contemplated as a period of rest, after a co tinued and uninterrupted struggle, with nearly every neighbouring state, capable of hostility or resistance to the British power ; in which the superiority of its strength had been so manifested, as to depress the hope, and deaden the effort, of future opposition. The successes attendant on the struggle, had enlarged the territorial possessions of the East India company to such an extent, as
to leave nothing to be coveted beyond its circle Neither the thirst of conquest on the one side, nor a spirit of aggression on the other, threatened to disturb the prevailing tranquillity. But this halcyon season had not been produced without proportionate evils, which were, in despite of many splendid and solid advantages, so severely and grievously felt at this crisis, in the company's finances, that it had become absolutely necessary to devise immediate measures of reform and economy in the different departments of the government. In this originated the meditated abolition of the tent contract. Though the necessity of economy had been ever so urgent, yet the introduction of it, without discrimination, in every branch of the service, could neither be requisite nor defensible. Justice and expediency were to be consulted here, as in all other arrangements of civil polity. Inasmuch, as respected the tent contract, it was to be considered that it was an equitable engagement, not of one but of two parties, looking to the period of peace as well as war : that the burthen of the contract had been already experienced, during the continuance of the latter season; in which extraordinary accident and expense had been incurred by individuals, which would otherwise have fallen on the coffers of the state ; that not a year had passed of the existing term of the contact, but that a large proportion of the Madras army had been employed in the field : and that now, when it night be expected that the relations of peace would be maintained with all the surrounding powers, for many succeeding years, a prospect opened itself to the other party to the contract, the commanding officers of corps, for reimbursing themselves from the forerunning charges, peculiar to the state of hostility. Under these circumstances, justice would seem to say, that they who had borne the loss connected with the compact, should now reap the benefits which it originally stipulated; that these, at any rate, should not be taken away without explanation or compropromise, nor, perhaps, without the absolute consent of both contracting parties. Now it was proposed to annul this engagement without any communion with the officers commanding corps. Expediency might also have suggested a doubt of the propriety of abolishing a regulation, which had been for several years adopted, and against which no public couplaint had been stated ; or, at least, it should have induced a caution against the reception of any substitute for a mode of service without a most minute inquiry into the alleged detects of the subsisting plan, and a conviction of the superiority of the new arrangement, by the recommendation of competent and experienced it, on T!: - abolition of the tent contract
was determined upon, without any in
q, ry or recommendation of this sort. The measure itself. vitally affecting the army, was not submitted, as it appears, in violation of the custom of the service, and t, e instructions of the court of due tors, to the military board; but finally and peremplorily adopted without any reference to this natural and prescribed organ, on the mere suggestion of Sir John Cradock, the commander-in-chief for the time being ; coafirmed, indeed, by the report of the quarter - master - general of the army Of the military acquirements of these officers, it would be presumptuous to risk an opinion ; and it would be illiberal to pronounce on their gener l professional character from this particular act. But it would have been fit that the Indian government should have paused, ere it trusted to the suggestion of men, one of whom had never accidentally seen a tented field in India, and the other, a captain in the company's army, who had not, at any time, witnessed the evolutions of warfare, beyond a single and confined operation against a petty Polygar.— The speculative council of such men, though their talents had stood confessed and unrivalled in other respects, could not warrant, it should seem, a broad departure from esta
blished usage, at the expense of the apparent demands of justice, and the obvious dictates of policy. No other apology has been offered by the Madras government for its share in the transaction, than a naked assertion that it was governed by the necessity of the times. Nor has any excuse been framed for the innovation on the existing regulation, than the unsupported statement, or rather insinuation, that the principle of the tent contract placed men's interest and duty in a point of variance with each other. But what service, it may be asked, could be performed to the government by its servants, which this principle would not equally affect 2 Would not the new contractors for tents, or the supply of public cattle, be liable, in the degree of their several interests in the articles furnished by them, to a like influence 2 As these were intended to be put, by the operation of the new arrangements, at the especial and sole disposal of the quarter-naster-general, an additional jealousy might have been excited against his proposition from that circumstance. It was nevertheless received, and instructions given, by Sir G. Barlow, to colonel Capper, the adjutant-general of the forces, to signify the same by an order to the army. Colonel Capper, who had arrived at the important rank and office which he held, by the routine of the company's service, and who must on that account have been understood to be conversant with the customs and feelings of the army, ventured to arraign the impolicy of the measure, and to advert to the evil consequences that might result from the adoption of it in its present shape. He dwelt as well from considerations of public duty, as private sentiment towards his brother officers, on the obligations of justice towards the commandants of corps, who having performed their part of the contract, to the benefit of the company, might equitably expect the fulfilment of the resulting advantages. He combated, also, the insinuation, that the interest of the commanding officers of corps had stood in the way of their duty, and assert
that the experience of the effects of the contract, for a series of years, repelled the influence of such a supposition. by natural and plain arguments, the danger of altering a practice of tried advantage, for a mere theoretical speculation. To this the governor, perhaps, too hastily replied, that he had found the measure, resolved upon before his arrival, and that he considered himself imperiously required to carry it into execution, and that little if any discretion was left to him ; but if he were allowed to pause, his conduct must be determined by the urgency of the company's affairs; adding, however, that as rigid economy was the grand and leading reason of the intended measure, so that if such object could be promoted to a like extent, by any means short of the abolition, he would not be indisposed to listen to a proposal with that aspect, if it were seasonably made. Colonel Capper, seizing with avidity the apparent favourable opportunity, thanked the governor for the assurance he had been just pleased to afford him, and pledged himself, that, within a few days, (which pledge he eventually redeemed,) that he would lay before him a meliorated plan for the supply and carriage of camp equipage and stores, to which no public or individual objection could reasonably be stated, and which, in respect of economy or saving to the company, should be more availing than the measure in contemplation, by the yearly amount of 150,000 star pagodas, or sixty thousands pounds sterling.
Within three or four days after the interview just mentioned, the suggested arrangement of colonel Capper was forwarded to Sir G. Barlow, who now, either repeuting his deviation from his first intentions, or considering the plan of the adjutant-general as inefficient, or inferior to that which it sought to supersede, gave direct and positive orders to the last-mentioned officer, without reference or explanation, for the immediate abolition of the tent contract.
If the new measure, which was
Nor did he fail to enforce,
substituted for the late contract, had originated with Sir George Barlow, this haste in the introduction of it, might, perhaps, have been censurable; but it has been shewn that it owed its origin to other most respectable persons, and that it had been long and fully canvassed by men of ability and station; whence it might seem to exact a deference from him, who was to lend his hand, as a mere instrument, to put it into action. Though the submission of individual judgment to aggregate authorities, may often be commendable, it is devoutly to be wished, that the governor, in this instance, had relied more on his own judgment ; and had dared to think and act for himself in a concern, now materially altered in its features from its primary form and appearance. It was no longer insulated and single, but stood contrasted with another object, challenging comparison. That a minute and careful examination of these distinct plans was not entered into by Sir George, Barlow, who might, from not having exercised any previous judgment, or expressed an opinion on either, have dispassionately viewed their respective merits, is much and deeply to be lamented; for it might have been expected, as no improbable result from such an examination, that the amended contract of colonel Capper would have been preferred to a radical reform ; and thus a measure had been avoided, odious in
itself, and particularly calamitous in
its remote consequences. Mr. Petrie, who had favoured the reform for a considerable time, and had been one of the most active supporters o' it, has since most candidly
admitted the superiority of the amend
ed plan of colonel Capper, both in respect of economy, and practical utility and effect. But the abolition of the tent contract was fixed, and abruptly announced by a general order in the month of July, without any other compensation having been tendered, or promised to the former contractors, than the price of the tents then in their possession. No estimate was required, no remuneration held out, of the heavy expense consequent on the carriage of the articles of contract, during the preceding period of war. It is but common justice to observe, that, notwithstanding the harsh manner in which the abolition was resolved on and published, the orders of the government were obeyed without any resistance on the part of the army; nor did they provoke any compaint, until some weeks afterwards, and then in the manner and tone of a legitimate appeal from the officers aggrieved, to the court of directors of the East India company. This paper, though conceived in a temper of moderation, and couched in respectful terms, was, at first, refused by the commander-in-chief, though it afterwards experienced a more favourable reception, and was forwarded to the government of Fort St. George, for transmissal to England. In the interim, the reform proceeded, without interruption ;-and but for an accidental circumstance, of which some after notice will be taken, its introduction, or progress, would not, in all probability, have been attended with any remarkable occurrence.
The circumstances and operation of the tent contract have been, perhaps, too minutely detailed ; but a particular explanation was, in some sort, necessary, to obviate a public misconception of the regulation itself, and a general misunderstanding of the effect of the abolition. Whatever sentiments the latter measure engendered, it may be safely said, that it neither occasioned at the time, nor since, any shew of opposition in the army.
Scarcely had Sir George Barlow delivered himself of this early trouble, before he perceived, or supposed, himself surrounded with fresh difficulties. As these inust have grown out of his own acts, it may be believed, that they were less embarrassing than the mist; and that they had not been wholly overlooked in the consultation of the measures that gave rise to them.
Immediately after the abolition of the tent contract, the attention of Sir George Barlow was directed to a mat*** - - - - -
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concern; a supposed mismanagement in the grain department, under the direct custody of Mr. Sherson. This was conceived to arise out of the mode of keeping the accounts of the department, by the Native servants, employed and paid by the individual in trust. The charge was levelled in the first instance, and had no other appearance than against those servants. But the chief interest in their accounts, from the circumstances just explained, was in Mr. Sherson, the immediate master of the parties keeping then, who could not but feel himself attacked through the side of his servants. Some resentment was naturally felt, at the manner of the attack on him, which rendered him, from a collateral party, a principal in the assault. This gentleman, on an ex-parte statement preferred to the government, and before his solemn disavowal could be had, was suspended at once from his appointinent. it would be beyond the province of this narrative to go into the detail of the duties of the office ; but it will be sufficient to say, that the individual in charge of it, had a certain interest in the custody and disposal of the grain, and a correspondent responsibility to account for the trust committed to his care. He stood in the relation of an ordinary agent, subject, however, to receive instructions, as to the time and circumstances of sale, and the price of the article, from an especial committee He accounted for his daily transactions; but his final discharge could not be operated, if any exception should be taken to his accounts, but by the production of the public vouchers in his office, of the occasional deliveries from the store. These were taken possession of by persons sanctioned by the government, aloost at the same moment with the suspension of the officer, to whom they naturally belonged. Notwithstanding the protestation of Mr. Sherson against the seizure of his accounts, which could alone enable him to account, and which might possibly subject them to be abstracted 1 -- - - - .
tee, consisting of five persons, among whom were his accuser and his deputy, directly interested in his removal, were afterwards ordered to commence an investigation into the alleged malversation in office ; still, however, regarding the enquiry in the light of a scrutiny into the Native accounts, in which it is evident that no one could have an interest but the party, on whose behalf, and for whose discharge, they were kept. After some preliminary correspondence and ineffectual proceedings, which it is not material to describe, or to characterize, the accounts relative to the grain agency we e referred, with the consent, may at the instance of the governor, to the adjustment of the civil auditor, who, according to the custom of his of fice, proceeded to state the account between the government and their agent; and ultimately reported, after a full and circumstantial examination of the vouchers and documents on both sides, in favour of the latter. The report was sent back, under the authority of the government, and with specific instructions, for revision, and returned after a second and mature consideration, in its original form. This is construed, by Sir George Barlow, as a species of co tumacy in the auditor, who is, thereupon, removed from his office; for which he was most eminently qualified, and placed in a relation, foreign to his information and habits, as a judge of a provincial court. The appointment, which submitted the lives and properties of a whole people to the hands of the late auditor, of itself spoke the acknowledged integrity of that officer, while it betrayed the displeasure of the governor, and inculcated the explicit obedience which he expected to his instructions, and possibly a more alarming supposition that he was careful in a secondary degree of the effect of his act to others, so that it promoted his immediate end. But in justice to Sir George Barlow, it must be observed, that he admitted, even in the anger of the moment, the purity of the auditor's motives, when he dismissed him from his annointment. It
is to be wished that he had explained, though the event has rendered an explanation, at this day, more curious than . necessary, why he appointed Mr. Smith to an office for the fulfilment of which he had none of the requisite qualifications, and where the absence of any of them might have involved the fate and fortune of thousands ! The conscience and probity of the individual, in the refusal of the trust, though at the ruin of his private interest, prevented any public mischief. Mr. Smith, the late auditor, chose rather to retire from the country, with a fortune insufficient for his support, than venture on a duty, which he felt that he could not conscientiously discharge ; a fit lesson, it is to be hoped, to the a thority that cast such office on him. Mr. Sherson, though in possession of the award of the chosen arbitrator of the governor, was suspended formally from the service, and for reasons connecting themselves with such award. These facts must make their own impressions. These occurrences did not gratify the public mind, or dispose it to admit the merits of the new administrator of the affairs of the government. Sir George Barlow was not long in discovering, through the neglect of the society over which he presided, the tendency of the general sentiment: though he was not so quick-sighted in observing the source whence it sprang. His friends have declared, and he himself may probably have supposed, that the ill reception of his ministry was ascribable to the system on which it is stated to have been founded, of economy and reform. But beyond the abolition of the tent-contract, no other reform of consequence has been mentioned ; none certainly has been specified, as the cause of any opposition; but the fact itself of the unpopularity of Sir George Barlow stands confessed on every side, and its effect on his temper and conduct, it is to be feared, is equally unquestionable. Perhaps the supposition of the general dislike to his measures, was, in Sir George Rarlow. more fanciful at first than