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quered, as their property." This was the broad ground taken up by the Government. The eloquent speaker then quoted Vattel and other acknowledged authorities in support of this view; but still weightier, because more practical authorities were adduced as the debate proceeded. It was shown from the private as well as published Indian despatches of the Duke of Wellington, that he strongly reprobated, on any scale, the confiscatory principle now applied so sweepingly by Lord Canning. Grind the State, was his maxim, but scrupulously observe private rights. On another occasion, he wrote-"I am for the principle of amnesty, as referable to all inferior agents: eternal enmity against every petty agent concerned against us will never answer.' Sir George Clerk-permanent Secretary to the Board of Control, and formerly Political Agent for the Sikh States, in which position his great influence was of invaluable service during our disasters in Affghanistana man who, more than any other, knows the circumstances and people of India, voluntarily wrote, as his deliberate opinion, to Lord Derby, that "the sentiments with which the Government have regarded the proclamation will right the ship; but if a different course should be persisted in, British dominion over India cannot be restored in any degree of security by means of all the European troops England can send to such a climate or to such a distance." Sir W. Napier, too, had just placed on record the course taken by his distinguished brother in Scinde, as contrasted with that adopted in the proclamation, as follows: "His policy was both fitting and liberal, the reverse of Lord Canning's, and founded on a different state of affairs. One confiscates the whole property of the country, with some five or six exceptions; and the other confirmed all men in possession, with one or two exceptions for special crimes." Ellenborough in rebellious Gwalior, Hardinge in Cashmere, Dalhousie in the Punjaub and Oude, and Sir H. Lawrence also in the latter country, had all acted on the principle of amnesty to the people, and of respecting the titles to land. Indeed, since ever we
set foot in India, no viceroy or general had ever dreamt of adopting the principle of confiscating private property, much less of applying it in that wholesale manner by which Lord Canning was rocking to its basis the mighty empire which the genius of his predecessors had reared and transmitted to his keeping.
But faction, not reason or justice, was the moving power of the Opposition. They would not be convinced by reason, and persevered until finally overwhelmed by the still more imperious logic of facts. Mr V. Smith especially distinguished himself by his readiness to maintain the proclamation pure et simple. But he distinguished himself more remarkably in another way. Indeed, the Smith episode in this debate was the most extraordinary, so far as we can remember, that the House of Commons has witnessed. The history of the history of the "suppressed letters will for ever figure among the Causes Celèbres of the British Parliament; but we shall only sketch it in outline, leaving to more graphic pens the task of fully portraying its extraordinary features.
On Monday the 10th May, Lord Granville weakly loquacious as usual-when charging the Government with having censured the proclamation too hastily, enforced his otherwise untenable view by stating (what a luckless admission!) that Mr V. Smith was in possession of a letter from Lord Canning, in which the Governor-General announced his intention of forwarding
explanations" of the proclamation. The Premier, with eagle-like quickness, saw the opening, and was down upon him in a moment. "What was the date of that letter?" Lord Lansdowne replied, that the fact of its not having been communicated to the Government could be of no service to the Premier, as it had not been received until after the Government (on Thursday) had engaged to produce the Despatch. Next day, however, the aged Marquess rose to acknowledge that the letter had been received much earlier than he had said; but he still affirmed that the communication, though it might have prevented the "premature
publication of the Despatch, could not have prevented the censure upon the Governor-General, as the Despatch bore the date of the 19th April, and the letter was only received on that day. But Lord Derby smashed this specious plea of defence likewise; for the Despatch, though dated on the 19th, was not sent off till the 26th. It ultimately turned out that the letter had arrived by the same mail that brought the proclamation!-that is to say, on the 12th; and if Mr Smith did not receive it till the 19th (even though he was at a wedding at Dublin on the 15th), it is extraordinary that for a whole week so important a personage should leave his letters unlooked at. The scene now shifts to the House of Commons; where Mr Smith, forced to confess the date of the letter (March 6), and to give up the plea that it came too late to be of use to the Government, proceeded to defend his strange conduct by saying, that though it was addressed to him in the belief that he was still in office, its contents were not of such importance that he should communicate it to the Government." And he added, amidst the derisive cheers of the House, "I read it the moment I received it to my noble friend the Member for Tiverton, to whom it did not appear, any more than to myself, that it was necessary to communicate it to the Government." This was an explanation for which certainly his "noble friend did not thank him, and which, moreover, only told doubly against himself; for if he thought the letter of such importance that he instantly took the advice of the ex-Premier as to what he should do with it, it was still more clearly his duty to send it to his successor at the Board of Control, and leave him to judge of its contents. It is useless to attempt to describe the scene produced in the House by these disclosures, the feeling against Mr Smith was awful. But the disclosures were not done. On Tuesday, fresh fuel was added to the flame by the statement of Mr Disraeli, that the first mail from the Governor-General, after the change of Ministry was known in India, had arrived on Saturday; that it
contained three "private" letters, every word of which related to public business, which showed that his Lordship was in the habit of conducting his correspondence in this manner, although not one such letter had reached the Government since they took office; and that, moreover, there were expressions in these letters which seemed to refer to statements made in other letters which they had not received. The general indignation against Mr Smith and his "noble friend," the ex-Premier, now fairly boiled over. Hitherto Mr Smith, though vociferously called upon again and again to do so, had refused to produce the letter-reading only a few words from it, of which more anon. But on Thursday, seeing that the feeling of the House had become irresistible, Mr Smith absented himself, and Lord Palmerston stated that he was now prepared to read the extract in question (it was the entire letter that was demanded). That extract was as follows; but as Mr Smith, exactly a week before then, had read what he affirmed to be the same passage of the letter, we shall print the two versions in juxtaposition :
Mr V. SMITH (13th May)—
"That private letter contained one paragraph, which stated, 'I intend to issue
a Proclamation to the talookdars and
landowners of Oude, which will reach you officially by the mail. I had hoped to have acccompanied it with a full exbusiness has prevented me from doing planatory despatch, but more urgent
so from hour to hour." "
LORD PALMERSTON (20th May)—
"Lord Canning says: 'My letter by the last mail mentioned a Proclamation which I intended to address to the talookdars and landowners of Oude. It goes to you officially by this mail. I had hoped that it would have been accompanied by an explanatory despatch, showing why it is in some respects so sweeping, and in others so indulgent; but I had other things more pressing upon me in the last week. My impression is that it is sure to be attacked on both points. You will not of course print it until it has been acted upon. At present, it stands only as part of an instruction to
Can any one refuse to affirm, that
if the latter of these extracts be the correct one, Mr Vernon Smith's version was a downright fraud? Though represented as a verbatim extract, not a line of it coincides with the actual letter ! Lord Canning's acknowledgment that the proclamation is a "sweeping" one, and his other remarks upon it, were entirely suppressed by Mr Smith, who nevertheless had the shameless audacity to complain that the Government should have waited for 66 explana tions.' "Another mystification by Mr Smith is, that he altered the letter so as to make it appear that it contained the first notice which he had received of the Governor-Gene ral's intention to issue a proclamation; whereas the actual words of the letter are: "My letter by the last mail mentioned a proclamation," &c. Constrained by these words, Lord Palmerston had also to refer to that previous letter (dated 28th Feb.), which he did as follows:
"Lord Canning, after having stated his opinion with regard to the course that ought to be pursued towards the mutineers, goes on to say, 'The talookdars and
landowners-men who had not eaten our salt, who owe us nothing, who think themselves not unreasonably wronged by us are in a very different category from the mutineers. I will proclaim for them a large measure of mercy and indulgence after Lucknow is ours; but until that happens, or until Sir Colin Camp bell's guns have opened on the city, I will not hold out any invitation to them, Maun Singh, and all others who have shown a disposition to come over, are encouraged to do so. More than this I
cannot do. I do not believe that mortal man could issue a proclamation to mutineers, which, by those in Lucknow, would not be accepted as a sign of hesitation and weakness, and produce more evil than good."
What have we here? Why, these extracts, taken along with the other portions of the letters described but not read by Lord Palmerston, contain Lord Canning's whole explanation of his proclamation !-and the "explanatory despatch" (not "full explanatory despatch," as Mr Smith gave it), which he regretted he had not time to send, was manifestly simply an official statement of the views expressed in these private letters! Another let
ter relating to the proclamation (dated 5th February), which was neither read nor described to the House, Mr Smith also acknowledges to have withheld from the Government; whether or not its contents were important, we cannot tell, but those of the other two unquestionably were so. Let Parliament and the public ponder these things. We have not time to comment upon them, but surely they speak for themselves.
This little episode, too, quite explains in what manner the Whig chiefs were enabled to prepare their party for a grand attack upon the Ministry before Whitsuntide. From these "private" letters they were fully apprised of Lord Canning's intention to issue a proclamation,they knew its character, and they knew also that he expected it to be attacked. As the proclamation was to be issued on the capture of Lucknow, they knew it would be published in this country shortly before Whitsuntide. Hence their announcements, and hence their preparations regarding the profuse issue of those "beautiful embossed cards" by which the waverers were to be won over, and at which Mr Bright made the House laugh so heartily !—Is not all this a strange story?
Every day the debate continued, the position of the Government improved. Conscious of the wisdom as well as patriotism of their cause, the Ministry were prepared, and at the outset half-expected, to undergo a defeat, relying with perfect confidence that a dissolution and appeal to the country would not only suffice to uphold their policy, but would give them a very great accession of strength in the House. But as the debate proceeded, it became evident that it was not they, but the Opposition, that were likely to prove in a minority. Bursting the fetters which faction had sought to impose on it, the debate rose into one of the noblest and most widely interesting ever listened to within the walls of St Stephen's. Logic, oratory, and good management were all on the side of the Ministry. They commenced the fight, in good old style, by placing the younger officials in the van; and most
gallantly did the "Young Guard" distinguish itself. We have already spoken of the great speech of the Solicitor-General, which opened the war on the side of the Government. The Under Secretary at War followed in due time, making a sensible and effective address. Then the AttorneyGeneral, who came out in his best style, made a brilliant rushing attack, which fairly drove his opponents, Lowe and Deasy, off the field. Next, a most formidable corps came into action on the side of the Government. These were the Independent chiefs, one and all of whom proclaimed that this was a sheer faction-fight, in which the Cambridge-House Liberals were entirely in the wrong, and announced themselves resolutely opposed to the vote of censure. Roebuck led off, in a speech most damaging to the Whig chiefs and their cause; and he was soon after followed by Sir R. Peel, whose dash and pungent eccentricity only made Sir C. Wood's tame platitudes in reply look weaker. On Thursday the excitement of the debate grew stronger than ever as John Bright rose, and with perfect good humour opened such a fire of polished irony and sturdy sense upon the Whig chiefs, their policy, and their tactics, that the whole Opposition array began to waver, and Lord John Russell was seen to lose his equanimity under the orator's scathing volleys. If Mr Bright be one of the hardest hitters, Sir James Graham generally proves about the heaviest metal in debate; and when he, too, rose on the side of the Government, and declared that-friend as he was to Lord Canning-the proclamation was indefensible, and the despatch substantially right, and that he would have opposed Mr Cardwell's motion even although Lord Ellenborough had not resigned, the chiefs of the Factions saw that the game was up, and that all they need think of was how to withdraw from the field. At the close of that night's debate, Mr Cardwell announced that he was now willing to adopt Mr Dunlop's amendment, by adding to his own motion a clause expressing the confident trust of the House that Lord Canning would act in the spirit of the Court of Directors' despatch (identical in
spirit, as we have seen, with Lord Ellenborough's of 24th March), and seek to
reassure the people, and encourage and reconcile them to British rule." In other words, to Mr Cardwell's motion condemning Lord Ellenborough's despatch, there was now to be added a clause expressing a hope that Lord Canning would just do what Lord Ellenborough had told him! Derisive laughter was the only answer from the Ministerial benches, and the crest-fallen chiefs of the Faction returned home to meditate for the night on their predicament.
A mail had arrived from India, and its contents, published that Thursday, strengthened the Government more than a thousand speeches. The Times' correspondence from the seat of war has justly attained such a reputation, that in all quarters it was looked for on this occasion with extraordinary eagerness; but, providentially for the Cambridge-House Faction, it had miscarried. The Indian journals themselves, however, came to hand, and all these, without exception, united in condemning Lord Canning's proclamation. They interpreted it just as the Government had interpreted it-just as the people of England had interpreted it; and they predicted from it nothing but disaster. At the same time, it had become publicly known that all the military authorities in India, and those best acquainted with Oude and the Indian people generally, were strenuously opposed to Lord Canning's edict of confiscation. Sir Colin Campbell, General Mansfield, Sir James Outram, Sir John Lawrence, Colonel Franks, united in condemning it. As Chief Commissioner in Oude, and peculiarly acquainted with the province, Sir James Outram had remonstrated in the strongest terms. Objecting to the principle of the proclamation, he stated that the landholders had been " most unjustly treated under our settlement operations," and that nevertheless they had remained faithful to us until " our rule was virtually at an end." And as to the effect of the edict, he expressed his "firm conviction that as soon as the chiefs and talookdars became acquainted with the determination of
the Government to confiscate their rights, they will betake themselves at once to their domains, and prepare for a desperate and prolonged resistance;" adding that he "foresees that we are only at the commencement of a guerilla war for the extirpation, root and branch, of this class of men, which will involve the loss of thousands of Europeans by battle, disease, and exposure." At the same time the news from the seat of war apprised us that these prognostications were being sadly fulfilled. Despite our capture of Lucknow, no submissions were coming in; and Sir Colin's fine army, that was to have followed the rebels into Rohilcund, had been broken up into detached corps, most of which were toiling after flying columns of the rebels over the now burning plains of Oude. It was also known that the Governor-General had, in a high-handed way, been overruling the Commander-in-Chief's plans of the campaign; and sundry other revelations, of still more telling importance, were expected to be made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the great speech which he was sure to deliver. Not only had the whole case of the Opposition disappeared as if in quicksands, but the tables were fairly turned against them. Everywhere the country was proclaiming that the Ministry were entirely in the right. All that was left for the Factions was to capitulate !
We need not dwell on the events of that ever-memorable Friday the 21st. The House of Commons was crowded-crammed as perhaps it never was before. There had been a tremendous "whip" on both sides, and, summoned by electric wire, members had hurried thither from all parts of the Continent. The benches could not accommodate the members, and numbers stood on the crowded floor. Around and above, every gallery was filled with distinguished onlookers. Crowds were outside in the Palace Yard; and once, but once only, as the members assembled, the crowd was heard cheering, and in walked the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Ministerial benches were intensely excited, but radiant; the Opposition anxious, and
unmistakably non-plussed. They knew they were beaten. Their case had melted away-their orators, too, were exhausted, all but Palmerston; while not a third of the debating power of the Ministerialists had been called into play,-the "Old Guard had still to make its terrible onset,
and Bulwer, Gladstone, Walpole, Kelly, and Disraeli, roused to their highest efforts by the occasion, would sweep everything before them, and make the country as well as the House ring with their lofty and telling oratory. At length, after some fencing between Lord Palmerston and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject of the adjournment for the holidays-in which the Ministerial leader shows he knows he has the whip-hand of his antagonist, and means to keep it-the order of the day is read for proceeding with the Vote of Censure. Mr Clay at once rises on the Opposition benches, and makes a strong appeal to Mr Cardwell to withdraw his motion; and no sooner has Mr Cardwell gone through the farce of declining to do so, than a perfect chorus of "Withdraw! withdraw!" broke from the benches around him; and Liberal members rose in successive dozens, imploring him not to ruin "the party" in the eyes of the country, and especially not to ruin them with their constituents, by persisting with his motion. A majority was against them,-what was worse, the country was against them; and every day was still further damaging their case. To divide was ruin,-to adjourn was doubly ruin. "There are 100 members here," said Mr Bright, "who have over and over again declared— many of them in my hearing-that the motion was not a wise one, and ought not to have been brought forward." The dilemma of these unfortunates was, beyond measure, grotesque; and the highly-wrought excitement of the assembly broke forth at every little turn of the proceedings in vociferous cheers or laughter. Liberal after Liberal had appealed in vain to Mr Cardwell, when the member for Plymouth made one desperate effort more, though every sentence drew shouts of laughter from the exulting Ministerialists. He said