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governor of Fort St. George, and threatened with suspension in case of refusal, conceive it our duty, unasked, to step forward and declare, that, under existing circumstances, we shall decline signing any such paper, if tendered to us; at the same time, we think it incumbent on us to assign our reasons for this act of disobedience to the mandate of our immediate superiors.
“It is not, at this late period, necessary to state all those grievances under which the company’s officers alone labour, (for the officers of his Majesty’s service have been entirely exempted from a participation of them) it is sufficient for us to declare, that we are, from principles, embarked in one common cause, and that we have voluntarily pledged ourselves to co-operate with our brother officers, in all legal means to obtain redress. It will, therefore, clearly appear that signing such papers as the one in circulation, would be an abandonment of those sacred principles of honour by which we are actuated, and a breach of faith towards our suffering brother officers, and a tacit acquiescence in those measures which we conceive to be of the most pernicious nature to the interests of the honourable company, (our masters) and of the most degrading tendency to our whole body, and the service in general. We further have reason to suspect, that were we base enough to sign such a promise, though through fear of losing our commissions, (now no longer valuable) if we cannot hold them with honour, that our swords, hitherto only used against the enemies of our country, would be directed against the bosons of our brother officers, and our energies employed in overturning that empire which our honourable masters have acquired by our unremitting exertions, and purchased at the expense of our blood. The right honourable Lord Minto has admitted the right of soldiers, on some occasions, to consider the nature and tendency of orders ; under this sanction, we solemnly protest against measures which, if persisted in, cannot fail to ruin our honourable masters. We see the evil far advanced ; we behold the probable consequences of the present system; and we shudder for the fall of British India. We declare ourselves true to the service of our honourable masters, and ready to expose our lives in defence of their rights and territories, but, at the same time, resolved never to compromise our own honour.
- (Signed) “J. weLSH,
Q. “TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LORD MINTO, GOVERNOR GENERAL OF JNDIA.
“My Lo R p, We, the undersigned officers of the Madras establishment, congratulate ourselves and our brother officers, on your Lordship's arrival at this Presidency, and, impressed with sentiments of high respect for your lordship's character and station, as well as urged by every motive of ardent loyalty and allegiance to our king, undiminished attachment to our country, and unshaken fidelity to our employers, hasten to address your lordship. We do, therefore, most respectfully, but most earnestly, implore your lordship, to grant a patient and indulgent consideration to the circumstances we have to submit. We entreat you to suspend your judgmeut, to banish from your mind any unfavourable impressions you may have received of our national attachment, or obedience and respect for the local administration of India; and not to admit those suggestions, which would impute to the officers of the Madras army any thing like disaffection to the state, or any premeditated disposition to insult the authority, or injure the interests of the British government in India; for we do most solemnly and explicitly disavow any such sentiments or intentions.
o 4 - -
2. Your lordship is too well aware of the unhappy and
general agitation prevailing throughout the army of this presidency. We, my lord, most sincerely deplore its existence, and lament, with unfeigned regret, the extremes to which it has led, and the awful crisis it has produced ; we, therefore, hail your lordship's arrival as an auspicious event, which will dispel the impending gloom, avert the threatened calamities, restore to the army of this presidency its former happiness and tranquility; we repose unbounded confidence in your lordship's wisdom, justice, and liberality, and cherish a sanguine hope, that you will not deem it unworthy of your high station to investigate those causes, that have combined to place a large portion of the company's officers in the painful and distressing situation in which we now stand. May we not further hope, that your lordship's magnanimity will extend to shew some attention to the feelings of a large respectable body of officers. whose minds have been agitated beyond the power of our nature to controul.
“ 3. It would be unbecoming in us, at this moment, and inconsistent with the high respect we feel for your lordship, to obtrude a statement of those particular grievances, which the coast army so keenly feel, and so bitterly complain of ; it is for us to represent the recent measures which has placed us, and a large body of our brother officers, in our present unexampled
situation, and to solicit your attention to the detail of the circumstances attending it. 4. On the 26th of July, we, the officers serving with the troops in camp, and at St. Thomas's Mount, suddenly received orders to repair to lieutenant-colonel Hare's house, (at some distance from our camp) which we immediately obeyed ; the piquet, which we had necessarily to pass, being drawn out to preclude our return to our camp. On being assembled, lieutenant-colonel Hare read to us certain parts of a dispatch, addressed to him by government, in which a large portion of the company's officers were represented to be in a seditious, rebellious state, prosecuting measures of hostility against the government, which rendered it necessary to separate the faithful from the seditious ; to make which discrimination, the government required, that the officers of the army should sign a pledge, solemnly binding themselves to act up to the tenor of their commissions; and it was directed, that those who might decline to subscribe that test, should be removed from their corps, and suspended from all military employments, till the temper of their minds should allow of their being employed in the service of the state. It was further directed, that they should be detained till their tents could be struck, and they were then to be removed to a sufficient distance to prevent their return to, or communication with, their corps. Your lordship may form some idea of our situation, but it is far beyond the powers of language to convey to your lordship a just or adequate impression of our feelings, on this extraordinary occasion. Amongst us, my lord, were some who have served the honourable company with zeal, and unquestioned fidelity, for nearly thirty years; others for shorter periods, but all with equal ardor and attachment; yet we found ourselves placed in the humiliating situation we have described, betrayed, (if we may use the term) into a snare, surrounded by troops, and called upon to subscribe to a test, which in itself, implied more than a suspicion of our fidelity, and, combined with the circumstances under which it was offered, was deeply injurious to our sensibility, our pride, and our honour. . * “We could not accept it; but, mortified as we were, we left nothing ambiguous, having distinctly explained to lieutenantcolonel Hare our principles and sentiments, by stating to him, that the commissions we held contained every obligation specified in the proposed pledge; that we had never departed from . those obligations, or disobeyed any orders of the government ; that so long as we retained them, we should fulfil their obligations, and obey the lawful orders of our superiors; and that for any disobedience thereto, we knew we were amenable to military law and liable to the penalties of the articles of war, and we could not consent to subscribe a pledge, the object of which might be to oppose us to our brother officers, and the interests of our service.” “ 5. Such a test, and tendered to us under such circumstances, could not but degrade us in the estimation of our brother officers of his Majesty's army, to whom no similar proposal was made; whose conduct was described in terms of warm and unqualified approbation, while the company's officers were stigmatized by epithets of reproach, censure, and disgrace; yet, my lord, we may appeal to our conduct, on all occasions, for the proofs that we have never been inferior either in loyalty, fidelity, or professional zeal.
“ 6. These are the circumstances under which we have been removed from our employments, and from those troops we have so long commanded, whose discipline we established, whose confidence and attachment we have acquired, whose zeal we have animated, and whose exertions we have directed, in the service of the East India Company.
“ 7. Though we will not presume to suggest the consequences likely to result from this separation of the officers from their men, it is a justice due to ourselves, to declare most solemnly to your lordship, that, however agitated our feelings have been, we have most studiously concealed from the troops, under our orders, any knowledge or communication whatever, of any disagreement between the government and the army. Your lordship's justice will, we trust, therefore, absolve us from any reproach for any evils that may arise; and here, my lord, it is not without the greatest pain that we are compelled to remark, that, before our removal from our corps, we had detected emissaries among our men, endeavouring to seduce them from their obedience to their officers, to weaken their attachment, to infuse suspicion into their minds, and to prejudice them against us while we were in the actual exercise of command.
“ 8. We will no longer trespass on your lordship's time, but we cannot conclude without repeating our earnest and impressive appeal to your lordship, and adjuring you, by your regard for the prosperity of this great empire, committed to your charge, and by the most sacred of all obligations, your love for our parent country, that you will condescend to hear the complaints of a respectable body of British subjects. Do not, my u
lord, reject our petition, nor condemn us upon the representations of those, who have already, we fear, endeavoured to impless on your lordship's mind an unfavourable opinion of our principles. Let the claims the company's officers have established on their country, be alone present to your lordship's mind, and let us owe to your lordship's justice the relief we implore; this will secure to your lordship our lasting gratitude and affection, and inspire sentiments which no time will erase. “We venture to assure your lordship, that no obstacles will oppose your endeavours to restore tranquillity, and that your lordship may confide in the honour and patriotism of the officers of this army. We come not to you a clamorous multitude, nor. are we a licentious body, impatient of controul, and spurning at the restraints of authority; we are not actuated by any false notions of liberty; we do not seek, or desire, any emancipation from the rigid, but just, rules of our order; we are not prosecuting views of professional aggrandizement, and far less any measure of hostility against the government under which we serve; we explicitly disclaim every such idea, and any wish, incompatible with the strictest subordination to legitimate authority, and to the laws of our country. Our respect for the authority of government, as by law established, continues undiminished, and, under that authority, as heretofore administered, we have lived happily, and performed our duty cheerfully; we feel bound to convey to your lordship this explicit and solemn assurance, that our loyalty and allegiance to our King is unimpaired, our zeal and fidelity for our employers undiminished, and that our attachment to our country is unabated, and we are ready to shed the last drop of our blood in defence of the British power in India. “We have the honour to be, my lord, “Your lordship's most faithful, devoted servants,
w |Signed by the officers of all the corps ? “Pondicherry, 8th August, 1809.”
[ R. J “ BY GOVERNMENT. “ Fort St. George, August 9, 1869. “The governor in council having taken into consideration the whole of the transactions that have occurred to the garrison of Masulipatam, and being satisfied that the part borne by the men in those transactions is to be entirely imputed to the misrepresentations and seduction of their European cfficers, is