페이지 이미지
PDF

felt that it could not safely commend. The suspension of the deputy adjutantgeneral was not even glanced at. The approbation of the supreme government, as it might be foreseen, was the means of strengthening the governor in his policy, rather than of inducing a doubt of the propriety in persevering in it. It had scarcely been received in Madras before the effect of the approbation was extensively experienced. The army, in the interval of the communication of Sir G. Barlow with Bengal, had leisure also to consider of their grievances, and of the manner of redressing them ; for they were of such a nature, that it was hardly believed that they should be folgotten in the lapse of time. In the acerbation of their feeling they do not see:), however, to have meditated any other that a regular and constitutional cou se of proceeding. They conten themselves w th devising a representition of their general wrongs, and means for the alleviation of individual distress from the oppression,as they conceived, of the local government. The first measure is attempted to be effected through the medium of a memorial to the supreme government of India ; with which a controuling poser is vested for the prevention of evil in the subordinate Indian governnoents ; but this measure is relinquished, in an inchoate and imperfect state, on the receipt of information that the council of Bengal had sanctioned the preceding acts of the Madras government. Hot several addresses are framed and forwarded at this period, to the deputy adjutant-general, expressive of the condolence of his brother officers in his fate, and assurances to major Boles of pecuniary support, co-extensive with the deprivations under which he laboured, so tong as he should remain suspended from his office. In certain of these papers a paragraph is introduced, which has something the appearance, though it is liable to a less objectionable construction, of an engagement in the subscribers to adhere to one another in the event of their be

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the object of the address; a sufferer, it must be observed, through a pure and strict obedience to military orders. Beyond these two acts, either in deed or counsel, the military had not yet proceeded. These acts, coming to the knowledge of Sir G Barlow, were sufficient in his mind to induce an instantaneous application to the single, but forcible instrument of his government; the suspension of the supposed principal offenders. A moment's pause may be allowed for an enquiry into the real grounds that existed for the repetition of an extreme measure which had already failed in its effect, and had produced, instead of the proposed end, the most unhappy and mischievous consequences. It was evident to the government, from the acts of the army, that a very general discontent existed, at the unusual exertion of its authority on the release of colonel Munro, and the suspension of colonel Capper and major Boles; and so severely felt, that it was with difficulty restrained from outwardly manifesting itself. It was however restrained, but not kept under by so strong a rein, but that it might, by inattention or by any fresh stimulus, break forth into an impatient and active opposition. At this instant it had only opened its mouth in complaint against the local government to the supreme authority in India, but had stifled its cry when it had reason to believe that the source of its appeal had been pre-occupied It had given up its public appeal, and in all likelihood would have confined its sufferings within its own breast. Sir G. Barlow in his minute admits this important fact. We had every reason to believe, he says, “that the intention of pressing the memorial is almost, if not wholly abandoned." In another passage also, in the same document, it may be seen that the emergency of the times did not require the use of any extraordinary authority in the governn]ent. In proceeding to recommend the measures necessary to be adopted, with regard to this intended memorial, Si

* D - -1 ---- - - - - - - * * * *----- a- - -

[ocr errors]

ious to avoid the two difficulties, of either, on the one hand, acting on insufficient evidence, or, on the other, of waiting too long for the full discovery of all the signatures affixed to it, as I had reason to believe that the spirit of dissatisfaction was not gaining ground in the army; it did not appear that any danger was incurred by waiting hitherto for fuller proof as to the individuals who had been concerned in signing or promoting the circulation of this paper.” What a confession is here ! that the governor of a vast empire, assured that there was no threatening or impending danger, condescended to play the spy and to lay in deceitful ambush, until he could surprise all the unfortunate persons, parties to a thoughtless and angry writing, cancelled and condemned to the flames' He had no fear, no anxiety it seems, but that the period should pass away without affording sufficient victims, or without a possible opportunity of displaying the extraordinary energy of his government. He could not bear to wait, lest peradventure the crime and the actors in it should have been lost and forgotten, and no new offence or offender might arise for reprehension and punishment. It needs not another observation to prove that neither the times nor the occasion called for fresh and renewed severities, or that any other than measures of forbearance or neutrality were requisite for preserving the public peace. Fortunate would it have been indeed for Sir G. Barlow, if a gleam of reflection had shone on the past, or that a ray of wisdom had irradiated the way before him, but he seems wholly lost in the regard of the stupendous engine in his grasp, and cannot restrain his eagerness to put its powers to the test. He hunts down with avidity the authors of this almost-forgotten paper, in every possible direction, and joining them with less heinous malefactors, he showers down on them the blind indiscriminate vengeance of the government,

* Vidc Page 273.

in the memorable orders of the first of May.f

This official instrument claims the attentive consideration of those, who wish to form a true opinion of the provocation which induced the agitation of the army, and the events to which it gave rise; combining with it the history of proceeding transactions, and the existing state of things. These will enable them to draw a fit conclusion both of the internal merits of the order and its probable effects. By this one instrument is awarded, as it appears, a sentence to several offences, and to numberless offenders—varying in the extent or quality of guilt—yet visiting all alike, or, with little apparent distinction, with the extremity of punishment; all of them judged alike, in the same hurry, and in the same measure, without hearing, without a defence, without a knowledge of their crime, except in so much as it may be learnt from the language of their sentence, written in so unintelligible a style as to perplex both the individuals suffering, and the public, to be instructed by the example, in understanding the proclaimed offences. In one place the army had to view two respectable officers, captain J. Marshall, late secretary to the military board, and who was then at Seringapatam, and lieut. colonel G. Martin, who was far advanced on his way to Europe, declared highly criminal for having been “principally concerned in preparing and circulating the memorial ;” and another officer, the hon colonel A. Sentleger, who had so eminently distinguished himself in Travancore, and who was then in that kingdom, condemned in the self same paragraph, for the very determinate and yet but half offence of the principals, of having been “ active in promoting the circulation of the paper;" and Capt. Marshall and col. Sentleger, lieut. colonel Martin, (being luckily beyond the reach of Sir G. Barlow) are both injudiciously confounded in the judgment of suspen. Sion.

+ Vide Page 100.

Major J. De Morgan, who was then at Tellicherry, remote from any of the parties just described, is adjudged in the like loose terms with colonel Sentleger, and for the same indeterminate crime, to the unvaried punishment of suspension from the service. Captain J. Grant, commanding the body

guard, and then assistant to the resi-.

dent in Travancore, is involved in the like penalty with his brother officers, for having put his signature to the address to major Boles; admitted by Sir G. Barlow to be of inferior guilt to the memorial, and attended with circumstances that would undoubtedly have found favour in other times and with other persons, than those of whom the Madras government was composed. . In another place, in the same order of the 1st May, the army witness the punishment of other classes of officers for alleged offences, even more doubtful than those already particularised, to whom the principle of suspension, though somewhat modified, is Javishly applied. Lieutenant-colonel Bell, the commanding officer of the coast artillery, stationed within eight short miles of the presidency, and whose particular offending might have been minutely ascertained, is removed from the command, the pay, and enolniments, of his station, or, in other words, suspended from his office; because a paper of a similar tendency with the address to major Boles had been circulated anjong the officers of his corps, and that its circulation was said to have been promored, but when, and in w!, at manner, is not stated, by lieut.-colonel Fell. In a succeeding paragraph of this singular paper, lieut.-colonel Chalmers, commanding to the south of Travancore, and lieutenant-colonel Cuppage,

[blocks in formation]

report to the government the improper proceedings pursued by part of the troops under their orders.” What improper proceedings had been pursued, and by what part of the troops under the respective orders of these officers, are not described; neither is it explained whether colonel Chalmers, or colonel Cuppage, had any knowledge of such proceedings. Captain J. M. Coombs, assistantquarter-master-general in Mysore, is also removed from his staff situation, for having “ been concerned,” as the order alleges, “in these reprehensible proceedings;” but whether they were the last-mentioned proceedings, or any other particular proceedings mentioned in the order, there is not a ground even for a conjecture. In this unheard-of manner, are eight officers, some of them -of superior rank and station, and all of them

|

of great respectability in the service, o

[blocks in formation]

embrace the whole expanse which his

severity visits. It ranges by turns, leaving every where a mark of its displeasure; the kingdom of Travancore, the Corcars, the Barhamahl, the Carnatic, the Mysore, some hundred miles distant from each other, and from the point of view, trusting its own keen sight, or borrowing for its purpose the eye of others—liable to the delusion and infirmity to which that organ, by the law of nature, is subjected. From every one of these remote recesses is a conceived culprit cooly drawn forth; his hands tied, his mouth gagged, and rendered up without pily or remorse, not to the hands of justice, but of the excutioner. What are the mad and melancholy times, in which such a practice can be men:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[graphic][graphic][graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

tioned, and borne with patience 2 At this season the army had not been driven into despair and revolt, but, according to Sir G. Barlow's report, the military discontent had not appeared “to gain ground.” But how far the day may be distant, warranting the application of summary and unrelenting sanctions, it demands no uncommon foresight to say. But these will be produced, not by the violence of the times, but the times by the violence and frequency of the punishment. The edge of the uplified sword of government is not suffered to fall on every devoted neck, by the merciless sentence delivered in this order. There are other victims reserved for a succeeding execution, which followson the ensuing day; when the commanderin-chief is ordered to relieve the tired hand of the governor. He perfects the business of vengeance, by proceeding with the proscribed list, and removing from the command of corps, Captain Smith, 2d battalion of the 14th regiment. Major Keasbury, 2d battalion of the 9th regiment. Major Muirhead, the 2d battalion of the 18th regiment. Major Hazlewood, 1st battalion of the 24th regiment, for the alleged, but unproved offence of not “having exerted themselves in maintaining order and discipline in their respective corps.” At the time that this extraordinary commission is given to the commanderin-chief, he is vested with the strange and most dangerous power, the right of supercession of officers, whom “he may be induced to consider,” from his information, “as improper persons,” to be entrusted at the moment with the charge of corps. So that the assumed prorogative of the government, of punishing at will, is communicated, without hesitation, to the temporary commander-in-chief; and, on the same principle, might have been transferred to a hundred subordinate links of the chain of authority, without the fear of the abuse of that delicate powor, or any anxiety about the possible

sufferers by it. And as a specimen of the care with which a prerogative of this consequence should be exercised, the government, at the instant of communicating it to the commanderin-chief, require him to remove lieutetant-colonel Rumley from his regiment of cavalry, for this very flagrant fault, “ that his conduct had been for some time unsatisfactory.” This is the worthy sequel to the order of the 1st May, which cannot be quitted, without a brief remark on its concluding office; which is to correct, as it states, “a misapprehension, highly dangerous in its tendency, which had arisen in the minds of some of the officers of the army, with regard to the nature of the authority of the govenor-in-council;” which misapprehension is ascribed to the influence of the order of general Macdowall to the army, of the 28th of January, preceding the order of reprimand. There could be no future misconception, it should seem, even without this observation, of the extent of this authority, from the liberal use that had been made of it in the striking punishments, just exhibited. This practical lesson superseded the necessity that might have existed for the promulgation of the doctrine, which at best appears out of place, following, and not leading the acts, to which it is applicable. After publishing the conviction of the government, that the majority of the army did not participate in “the improper and dangerous proceedings,” declared in the order, it ends, with a particular, and ill-judged, compliment to the exemplary conduct of the Hydrabad subsidiary force. This commendation, at the expense of a part of the military community, was indignantly refused in the very moment it was offered ; a striking proof of the temper, which the order of the 1st May was calculated to excite throughout the army. The two powerfui motives, praise and expected favour, could not influence the Hydrabad force to view the acts effected by that order in any other light, than as destructive of the rights, and insulting to the feelings of the whole military body. Some indignation might, perhaps, have been occasioned by the conceived attempt to cajole them, through the medium of the order, by placing them in contrast, and in seeming opposition, if they willingly admitted the governor's approbation, to their brother officers in other branches of the army. A declaration was thereupon made to the officers of the Madras army, and the government, by the Hydrabad force, which gave both reason to understand, that the sufferings of the army, as wrought by the orders of the 31st January, and the 1st May, were as keenly felt by the members of this corps, as by the general body of the company's officers. The spirit and language of these papers, which no one could commend, and which few would seek to excuse, may serve to show what was the nature and the strength of the feelings that had been roused by this most obnoxious and operative order, and what was immediately to be expected from the force and influence of such feelings, if no m. ans should be discovered for the counteraction of their effects.” The danger threatened by the existing temper of the army seems either to ilave been misunderstood, or the possible result of it miscalculated or despised, for no other state measure appears to have been resorted to for quieting the turbulence of the times than soliciting and procuring a long and laboured discourse from the chair of the supreme government of Bengal. It cannot be considered that Sir G. Barlow could have imagined, seriously, that men, so inflamed, would be preached out of their humour by a tardy sermon from Calcutta. But it is not difficult to guess the reason of the

request, so flattering to the governorgeneral, who seems to be deluded, step by step, until he becomes identified with the governor of Madras. This paper comes at last; the purport of which is to allay, as it would appear, the ferment which is universally understood to rage over the military state, and this it expects to promote by the opposite and contradictory means of reprehension and of reasoning. These at any time, would seem but slender means for soothing or healing the passions of an inflamed multitude; but little, indeed, could be done by their aid, when urged, as here, through the dull medium of a tedious epistolary disquisition ; in which doctrines are broached and broken in the same breath, and in which truth in statement, and error in application, are so blended, that one is at a loss which to admire most, the sense of the writer, or the apparent perversion of it in the use. The governor-general,desirous, as he

[blocks in formation]

gues throughout the endless paragraphs of this paper, with the passion and the persuasion of the advocate, not with the authority and decision of the judge, to establish positions, where he should declare the law. While he would forbid deliberation, he calls upon the army to deliberate; while discountenancing military discussion, by his doctripe, he promotes it by his practice. He makes opponents and disputants of those whom he is regarding in his address as silent and submissive pupils, yet he loses not the sight of his authority, except in the manner and the moment of exercising it.t in this production, lord Minto enters

• The manner of ordering colonel Sentleger to the presidency, seems to have roused,

in a peculiar manner, the indignation of his brother officers.

He is removed without any

explanation, save through the order of the first of May, from his command in Travancore, the field of his late brilliant operations. and instructed to pursue a private route to Poonaanallie, the depot of French and Dutch prisoners, the enemies of his country: from the contact of which society he is not permitted to free himself, but by the especial indulgence.

of the government.

+ Vide letter of Lord Minto, of 27th May, page 373.

[graphic]
« 이전계속 »