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If you are not past shame, brother, you will be abashed when you read this. Whose business was it to arrange the military details necessary for the defence of the country? Who but the head of the army-the Commander-in-Chief? But did the -s and -S, whom you forced upon me-(you may fill up the blanks, John)-nay, did the great Napier, of whom you are so proud, and whose superhuman wisdom you are continually flinging in my face because I was not prepared to take him at his own or his brother's valuation, and had, therefore, a quarrel with him-did the small -8, and
even the great Napier, I say, urge the location of European troops at Delhi? Surely I might, without blame, consider the Governors-General and Commanders-in-Chief, whom you sent me, competent to decide between them in what places the European troops at their disposal are most advantageously to be located. Remember that I am not responsible for the selection either of the civil rulers or the military chiefs, to whom these details are intrusted. Give me a chance, John, and see if my nominees will be caught napping. Do you think that if John Lawrence had been Governor-General, and Henry Lawrence Commander - inChief, in the spring of 1857, the troops would not have been in their right places?
Look at it how you will, brother, and it does not appear that either the paucity of European troops in India, or their imperfect distribution, is fairly to be chargeable to my wil fulness or my neglect. Do you think that if the Horse-Guards or the WarOffice had had the direct management of military affairs in India, things would have gone better? My dear John, I believe that I do impose some check upon the eccentricities of your people in the regions of Whitehall: they are generally ashamed to propose to me any very egregious job, and if, under strong temptation, they determine to brazen it out, I can make a stand against the wrong; and I have made a stand ere now, with good success, though oftener I have failed to do more than protest
against the evil which I could not prevent. Have you ever, I should like to know, except in a great emergency-I mean by this, except when you were fairly frightened-ever sent me out an officer of whom you could make anything at home? Has it not been your wont, John, to send me decayed and incapable generals to command my armies, or divisions of my armies? Have you not sent me the blind, the deaf, the lame, the paralysed, the gouty, the crippled, little heeding the injury they might inflict, the discredit they might bring upon us both, so long as you were able to "provide" for them? And can you now have the face to turn round upon me, and ask why I have not made better military preparations for the defence of the country? If Delhi was left without European troops, who suffered it to be thus defenceless-who declared that my Sepoys were "faithful to a proverb"? It is surely right, I say again, that, sitting in Leadenhall Street, I should give heed to the opinions of competent military authorities on the spot; and if the military authorities on the spot are not competent, it is your fault-not mine-that such men are in their wrong places.
Do you seriously believe, Johnnay, does any human being believe, that if India in 1857 had been under your direct management, there would have been no rebellion? No one alleges that the general misgovernment of the country has had anything to do with the rising of the Sepoys. My domestic administration is often said to be faulty; but I do not think that in this case it has been brought up against me, in the face of the notorious fact of the general quiescence of the people. But my external policy is said to have had much to do with the insurrection of the military classes. I have been trying hard all my life not to have any external policy except a commercial one, but in this I have been overruled; and I am now told that the rebellion of my soldiery has been stimulated by the war in Persia, and by the annexation of Oude. Now, I believe that the war with Persia had really something to do with the matter. In the first place, it carried off a large number of
troops, and so diminished the impression of our military strength; and in the second, it suggested to the Persian Court, not very scrupulous at any time, and most unscrupulous in war, the expediency of creating a diversion by exciting a military revolt in Northern India; and their emissaries, I know, were actively employed. I think it very probable, John, that if there had been no Persian war, there would have been no military revolt. But who made the Persian war? I do not sit in judgment upon it. It may have been righteous or unrighteous, expedient or inexpedient; but I had nothing to do with it. I know nothing about it beyond what you have been pleased to communicate to me in your Bluebooks-always excepting the little business of the bill, with the figures of which I am sure to make acquaintance. And as for Oude, I admit that I assented to its annexation. For years and years, however, often as it was recommended by others, I abstained from decreeing the absorption of a State which at least had been faithful to me. And when at last, after hoping against hope for some improvement in the miserable condition of affairs, which called so loudly for the interference of the paramount power-after trying a succession of princes, and finding every new ruler worse than the last, I gave my consent to a measure which it would have been culpable weakness to have shrunk from any longer-every step that I took, John, was in conjunction with your Ministers. Right or wrong, politic or impolitic, it was well considered by your servants. The measure was as much your measure as it was mine. If it was a folly, or if it was a crime, call your own responsible advisers to account, and ask them why they decreed it.
It comes, then, to this, John, that if the Persian war and the annexation of the Oude principality were among the exciting causes of the Sepoy revolt, three-fourths of the blame attach to you. We must place to your credit the whole of the one and the half of the other measure. What sort of a case, then, do you make out against me, either in respect of military mismanagement or
political indiscretions, such as may have excited or aggravated the evil which we are now deploring ?—what sort of a case, John, that you should lay claim to the possession of greater foresight and wisdom than I have shown in the management of my affairs? Why, friend, you are like the coachman, who upset the coach, and laid it off on the guard upon the dickey. The more we look into the matter, the more it will appear, that in all the acts which have been most emphatically laid to my charge, you or your servants, John, have had the principal share. What sort of logic, then, is that which, from these premises, advances to the conclusion that I should be stripped of the little power I possess, and that you should be made absolute and independent in the direction of Indian affairs?
I know what you would say, John : you would say that when a great crisis arrives, I am incapable of grappling with it-that I have shown feebleness and inactivity in going to the rescue of your imperilled sons and daughters in the East. This is one of the cries that has been got up against me, to bring me into popular disrepute, and to prepare the way for my downfall. It would be a strong argument (nothing could be stronger) for my immediate extinction, if it were only true. I should be ashamed of myself, brother-I should not think myself worthy to live, if I had been lukewarm in such a cause. But did I lose weeks, or days, or hours? did I seek to economise the means at my disposal? did I move slowly, or give grudgingly? No; I lost not a precious hour-not a minute, John. You will remember, I am sure, that sultry June morning, when suddenly there broke upon the town the dire intelligence that the Sepoy army was in a blaze of mutiny, and that Delhi, the great imperial city, with all its historical traditions and political associations, and, worse still, with its mighty arsenals and magazines, was in the hands of the rebel army. I shall never forget that morning. It was Saturday, when, according to wont, John (a good custom, which you properly encourage), little business is done; and after a hard week's work in sultry London wea
ther, I was starting in search of a little fresh country-air, when that ominous telegram was put into my hands. The horses' heads were turned, you may be sure, not to the railway station, but to my house of business in the City. On that day a solemn council was held; on that day the first steps were taken towards the strengthening of the European army in the East. On the next businessday I held another special council. I did everything that could be done to accelerate the despatch of troops to the East. And as, fortnight after fortnight, fresh news of disaster and of death came welling in, I increased my efforts to augment my European force, and sent forth regiment after regiment, at my expense, to rescue your sons and daughters from destruction, and to cleanse the national honour from the temporary disgrace that had been inflicted upon it. I do not know, John, that any human exertion could have prepared these troops for more immediate despatch.
But you tell me that I ought to have sent them forth in steam-ships. I was eager to do so, John. I wished to send them forth in some of your war-steamers. I thought that, over and above the means of effective transport which your huge steam men-of-war afforded, a great moral impression would be produced by their appearance at my principal Indian seaports. But what was I told, John? what was the answer given by your servants? That you had no steamers for such a purpose. I don't know why you had no steamers for such a purpose; for what nobler purpose could they ever be put to than the salvation of our Indian Empire? Have they ever been put to such good uses before? are they ever likely to be put to any better uses? Don't tell me that the transport-service is unpopular. If there is a man in your service, John, who would not, at such a time, have rejoiced to see the decks of his ships swarming with soldiers, and have been proud of the great work which he was doing, or helping to do, in conveying fighting men to the seat of war, that man is a disgrace to your navy, and worthy only of igno
minious dismissal. If I had been served by such men, John, I should have no great Indian Empire now for you to endeavour to wrench from me.
But why, you say, did I not send out men by means of private enterprise, which never fails on these occasions, across the Isthmus, and by the Red-Sea route to Indía? If Egypt had been part of my territory, do you think that I would not have done it, John? do you think I would have hesitated for a moment? But I was told that there were political questions involved, and of course I knew nothing about the politics of the Porte, or the politics of France, or the politics of any other country with which I had no relations." It was your business, John, to smooth the way for such transport of troops through Egypt-it was mine to pay for their transport when the road was made clear for them. Meanwhile I took up all the best ships that were offered to me. I took up some screw-steamers for long seavoyages, and I took up some clipper sailing-vessels. It is said that I ought to have taken up steamers, for the steamers have beaten the clippers. There are two things to be said about this, John: one is, that experienced mariners were doubtful whether, at that season of the year, the screw-steamers would beat the clippers; the other is, that, according to the best information that I could obtain, John, there was not coal enough on the line for a greater number of steamvessels than I took up. I may mention a third matter: if a larger number of men had arrived at Calcutta in the autumn, there would have been no means of despatching them to the upper provinces, and they would have rotted like sheep on the great wet plain which steams around Fort - William. You may depend upon it, John, that I did the best that could be done; and the more you inquire into the matter, the better I shall be pleased.
What, then, is the charge against me? If I did not cause this disaster by anything that I have done, or anything that I have left undone, and if I did not fail in the hour of need to do the best that could be
done to repair it, why am I more deserving of extinction than I was five years ago? Five years ago, John, after a long and patient inquiry, you decreed that I deserved the confidence of the country. If the events of the Sepoy revolt have not shown that I have forfeited this confidence, how else have I forfeited it during these last five years? At no period of history have I been more active in well-doing. Never, in an equal space of time, have I-never, I dare to say, has any earthly potentate, in an equal space of time-progressed farther in the right direction than I have done since the year 1853. You seek, then, to destroy me in the very zenith of my utility, with all my great material and moral improvements advancing steadily towards perfection. Without any reproach of self-seeking, I may desire-honestly desire, John-to go on with the work I have commenced, to consummate the great experiments which have been so auspiciously inaugurated. You may accuse me of clinging to power, of holding fast to patronage, of fighting sturdily for the retention of my privileges; but the only privilege which I desire to retain is the privilege of doing good to countless millions of people; and I cannot willingly yield that privilege, except under the full assurance that you will carry out the work I have commenced in a more conscientious spirit, and with more successful results. I confess, John, that although I think you in the main a very good fellow, I have no assurance of this.
But supposing that it had been proved against me that I had occasioned, by my mismanagement or by my neglect, this lamentable Sepoy rebellion, and that, having thus created it, I had not exerted myself to put it down, these failures upon my part would not demonstrate the expediency of the present sudden effort to destroy me. There are things which, right in themselves, become wrong if they are done at the wrong time. Can you conceive a worse time than the present for revolutionising the Government of India? Why, John, you are making common cause with the rebels -aiding them to achieve a signal
triumph (what greater than the overthrow of a government?) and condoning their offences, by declaring to all the world that they are not without a pretext for their crimes. Will not a change of government, following closely upon this hostile demonstration, be a concession to our enemies? Perhaps you will answer, "No--the very reverse of a concession. It will indi
cate only the settled resolution of an offended nation to put forth all its strength for the chastisement of the offenders, and for the establishment of a more vigorous system of control, under which rebellion can never rear its head again without instant suppression." In other words, John, it will be regarded, you think, in the light of an aggressive movement. A miserable alternative, my friend-a more dangerous belief than the other. You will not readily persuade the people that a change of government is not necessarily a change of system. Remember that we have hitherto had only to grapple with a military rebellion. Take care, John, that you do not so disturb and alarm the national mind as to convert this military revolt into a popular revolution. I believe that the proclamations which have been put forth in India, emphatically declaring that the British Government has not, and never has had, a design to interfere in any way with the free exercise of the religions of the people, have had a most salutary and tranquillising effect. The pledges which my Government ́ from time to time has given to the people have never been violated. But a belief, insidiously sown by designing men, has recently grown up, especially among the military classes, who have been more immediately appealed to, that the Queen and the Queen's Ministers have determined to forcibly convert the people to Christianity, and that a large display of military force in India is a necessary part of the process. You must take heed lest you do anything, John, to encourage the diffusion of this belief among the great masses of the people. They are very ignorant and very credulous, and they are very easily alarmed. Any kind of change fills them with vague apprehensions
of evil. You may be sure that the news of the removal of the old Sirkar, and the establishment of a new paramount authority, will be circulated throughout India with every possible kind of disquieting exaggeration associated with it. You have a very vague notion in England of the monstrous and ridiculous falsehoods which find ready currency in India, even in tranquil times. How much more likely are false reports to be circulated in seasons of great popular excitement, when our enemies, active and designing, are continually on the alert, seeking for opportunities of working out our discomfiture by misrepresenting in the foulest and most dangerous manner the intentions of the dominant race, and ever basing, when they can, their mighty falsehoods on some superstructure of truth! If, then, the inauguration of the Crown Government of India be regarded as an aggressive movement, it is not difficult to foresee the probability of a still worse result than that which may reasonably be predicted if the change be viewed in the light of a concession. You have only a choice of evils, John. Either way danger is lying.
Nay, indeed, I may go further, and say that the two evils are not incompatible with each other—that truly they are, in the present case, very likely to coexist. For whilst the rebellious Sepoys may triumph in the thought that they have overthrown the existing Government, and brought about a great revolution (and such, too, will be the view taken by independent lookers-on), the great mass of the people will see only in the change something threatening and portentous, and too probably for such is their wont-will be roused into antagonism by their fears. So I cannot repeat too emphatically that even the right thing may be wrong, if it is done at the wrong time.
But how do you know that what you are proposing to do is the right thing, John? Are you in a fit state of mind for the consideration of so grave a question? Have you thought enough about it-have you read enough about it-do you know enough about it? I wish I could say, John, that I think our troubles in India
VOL. LXXXIII.-NO. DVIII.
are at an end. I thoroughly believe that we have turned the corner-that we have got our innings-but there is a deal of work yet before us. Some, indeed, go so far as to say that India, at the present time, can hardly be called a British dependency. I have no uneasiness on that score. position is a secure, though a troublous one. But there is much stirring work to be done before the flames of rebellion are thoroughly extinguished; and who begins to rebuild his house whilst it is yet on fire? Let us first extinguish the flames, and then talk of reconstruction. You will be cooler, you will be better informed; you will know more what you are about, after the mutiny is thoroughly suppressed, than at the present time, when your passions are excited, your understanding is confused, and you are a long way off from the necessary amount of knowledge for legislation on so great a question. I doubt, John, whether you are fully impressed with a conviction of the magnitude and the difficulty of that question; or of the earnestness and solemnity with which it behoves you to address yourself to its consideration. You may depend upon it that it is a graver matter that your responsibility is greater than you think, John. You may legislate in haste; but if you do, you may be sure that you will repent at leisure.
Be assured that no graver question than this has ever come before you. It is a question which, to be properly understood, must be regarded in many different aspects. It must be looked at from a stand-point, or more than one stand-point, in India, and from another in England, on which it is not less necessary to post yourself with your telescope in your hand. You ought to know more about your own affairs than I do, John-so I will not dwell upon the trouble which you may bring upon yourself by taking the management, and with it the patronage, of India, out of my hands. You remember how it was said of old, that "the influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished." Now, my Government, faulty as it may be in principle and inefficient in practice, has at all events been a good middle-class Gov