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might be able to correct any errors that might have crept into the production of an individual. They also noticed, that Lieutenant Colonel Munro had insinuated a charge of the most serious nature against the officers who had commanded Native battallions; for Lieutenant Colonel Munro's plan contains a passage, purporting, that the experience of six years, and an observation of the practical effects of the contract system, suggested the observation, that the contract induced the officers commanding corps to keep back the discipline of their men, in order that they might not be fit for field service; and that the contract might therefore be more advantageous. The remarks of Lieutenant Colonel Capper further suggested the outline of a plan of reduction, which promised an annual saving of above 1,50,000 pagodas. However, Sir G. Barlow took no notice of the remarks, and the regulations, abolishing the contract, were published.
In the course of communication among the officers this subject became one of primary importance, as materially affecting the relative situations of officers commanding corps, and deeply involving the general respectability of the service. All the distinctions, which separated the commandant from the subordinate officer, had nearly been removed, and the convulsion among the Natives, in 1806, which was marked by the catastrophe of Vellore, seemed to require that the situation of the European commandant should be maintained rather more distinctly than before. The loss of that consequence, which attached to the supply of camp equipage, was therefore considered in itself to be degrading, and the discussion of the subject produced several circumstances, that tended to throw an additional degree of odium upon the mode that had been adopted for the abolition of the contract. Among those the following were the most prominent.
First. That Lieutenant Colonel Munro, an officer of shorter service, and less experience, than any who had been on the general staff of the Madras army for several years, had procured the Commander in Chief to recommend to Government a plan respecting the chief object of the equipment of troops in the field; which plan was not submitted to the Military Board, by whom all subjects of that description were, according to the orders of the Court of Directors, and the usuage of the service, to be discussed and maturely digested, previous to their corning before Government. This plan was proposed by Lieutenant Colonel Munro, the youngest staff officer, and approved by a Commander in Chief, who had never seen the tents of a corps pitched in India for any other purpose than that of muster; and who, consequently, could not form any judgment of his own.
Secondly. That this plan, thus surreptitiously forwarded, contained an insinuation against the commanding officers of corps in the service, to which Lieutenant Colonel Munro belonged; implying, that the conduct of some, or all, who had held the contract during the six years, gave cause for the * observation, that they were capable of keeping back the discipline of their men, in order to derive a pecuniary benefit. The most attentive consideration of the subject did not produce any argument to prove, that the insinuation was by any means necessary to produce the conclusion which the plan proposed; or that the inference intended to be drawn, would be the less direct (as suggested by the'Judge
Advocate General) if a compliment instead of an accusation had been conveyed. The argument would have been equally strong, if it had been stated, (as is the case) that, although the experience of six years of the practical effects of the contract afforded a flattering exception, still the general principles that controul human actions, render it true in abstract, that, “By granting the “ allowance in peace and war, for the equip“ ment of native corps, while the expen“ ses, incidental to that charge, are una“ voidably much greater in war than in “ peace, it places the interest and duty of “ officers, commanding native corps, in “ direct opposition to one another. It “ makes it their interest, &c.” But this maxiin is brought in as an inference, not from general principles, but from an attentive observation of the practical effects of the system of contract, and is expressly stated to be one of those discoveries which gave Lieutenant Colonel Munro means of forming a better judgment on the subject, than could be formed in the year 1801-2 by General Stewart or Colonel Agnew. The insinuation does not appear to have crept in through inadvertence; it is deliberately
introduced into the body of a memoir, the composition of which is manifestly studied, and the clandestine manner in which it was transmitted to the higher authorities (never having been laid before the members of the Military Board, and it having been purposely omitted from the records of the office of the Commander in Chiefs Secretary) seemed to corroborate the opinion, that the obvious meaning of the insinuation was apparent to its author.
Shortly after the promulgation of the order, abolishing the tent contract, Lieutenant General Macdowall received letters, from almost all the officers commanding native corps, representing in terms, adapted to the feelings of each, the stigma which was considered to attach to them individually, seeing that the contract had been abolished for reasons, as set forth in the plan of Lieutenant Colonel Munro, and appealing to the personal experience of the Commander in Chief, and to his authority, for redress against a charge of so serious a nature. To these letters, Lieutenant General Macdowall returned replies, purporting, that the discussion of the subject had taken place before he came to the command—that