Imágenes de páginas

quered, as their property.” This was set foot in India, no viceroy or genethe broad ground taken up by the ral had ever dreamt of adopting the Government. The eloquent speaker principle of confiscating private prothen quoted Vattel and other acknow- perty, much less of applying it in ledged authorities in support of this that wholesale manner by which view; but still weightier, because Lord Canning was rocking to its more practical authorities were ad- basis the mighty, empire which the duced as the debate proceeded. It genius of his predecessors had reared was shown from the private as well and transmitted to his keeping. as published Indian despatches of But faction, not reason or justice, the Duke of Wellington, that he was the moving power of the Opstrongly reprobated, on any scale, the position. They would not be conconfiscatory principle

now applied so vinced by reason, and persevered sweepingly by Lord Canning. Grind until finally overwhelmed by the the State, was his maxim, but scru- still more imperious logic of facts. pulously observe private rights. On Mr V. Smith

especially distinguished another occasion, he wrote_“I am himself by his readiness to maintain for the principle of amnesty, as refer- the proclamation pure et simple. able to all inferior agents : eternal But he distinguished himself more enmity against every petty agent con- remarkably in another way. Indeed, cerned against us will never answer.” the Smith episode in this debate Sir George Clerk-permanent Secre- was the most extraordinary, so far tary to the Board of Control, and as we can remember, that the House formerly Political Agent for the Sikh of Commons has witnessed. The States, in which position his great history of the “ suppressed letters" influence was of invaluable service will for ever figure among the duringourdisasters in Affghanistan- Causes Celebres of the British Para man who, more than any other, liament;. but we shall only sketch knows the circumstances and people it in outline, leaving to more graphic of India, voluntarily wrote, as his de- pens the task of fully portraying its liberate opinion, to Lord Derby, that extraordinary features. " the sentiments with which the On Monday the 10th May, Lord Government have regarded the pro- Granville — weakly loquacious as clamation will right the ship; but if usual—when charging the Governa different course should be persisted ment with having censured the proin, British dominion over India can- clamation too hastily, enforced his not be restored in any degree of secu- otherwise untenable view by stating rity by means of all the European (what a luckless admission !) that troops England can send to such a Mr V. Smith was in possession of climate or to such a distance.” Sir W. a letter from Lord Canning, in Napier, too, had just placed on record which the Governor-General anthe course taken by his distinguish- nounced his intention of forwarding ed brother in Scinde, as contrasted "explanations of the proclamation. with that adopted in the proclama- The Premier, with eagle-like quicktion, as follows : “His policy was ness, saw the opening, and was down both fitting and liberal, the reverse upon him in a moment. “ What was of Lord Canning's, and founded on a the date of that letter ?” Lord Lansdifferent state of affairs. One con- downe replied, that the fact of its fiscates the whole property of the not having been communicated to country, with some five or six excep- the Government could be of no tions; and the other confirmed all service to the Premier, as it had not men in possession, with one or two been received until after the Governexceptions for special crimes.” Ellen- ment (on Thursday) had engaged to borough in rebellious Gwalior, Har- produce the Despatch. Next day, dinge in Cashmere, Dalhousie in the however, the aged Marquess rose to Punjaub and Oude, and Sir H. Law- acknowledge that the letter had rence also in the latter country, had been received much earlier than he all acted on the principle of amnesty had said ; but he still affirmed that to the people, and of respecting the the communication, though it might titles to land. Indeed, since ever we have prevented the premature

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


publication of the Despatch, could contained three "private" letters, not have prevented the censure upon every word of which related to the Governor-General, as the De- public business, which showed that spatch bore the date of the 19th his Lordship was in the habit of April, and the letter was only received conducting his correspondence in

, on that day. But Lord Derby smash- this manner, although not one such ed this specious plea of defence like- letter had reached the Government wise ; for the Despatch, though since they took office; and that, moredated on the 19th, was not sent off over, there were expressions in these till the 26th. It ultimately turned letters which seemed to refer to stateout that the letter had arrived by ments made in other letters which the same mail that brought the pro- they had not received. The general clamation !—that is to say, on the indignation against Mr Smith and 12th ; and if Mr Smith did not re- noble friend,” the ex-Premier, ceive it till the 19th (even though now fairly boiled over. Hitherto he was at a wedding at Dublin on Mr Smith, though vociferously called the 15th), it is extraordinary that upon again and again to do so, had for a whole week so important a refused to produce the letter-readpersonage should leave his letters

ing only a few words from it, of unlooked at. The scene now shifts which more anon. But on Thursto the House of Commons; where day, seeing that the feeling of the Mr Smith, forced to confess the House had become irresistible, Mr date of the letter (March 6), and to Smith absented himself, and Lord give up the plea that it came too late Palmerston stated that he was now to be of use to the Government, pro- prepared to read the extract in quesceeded to defend his strange conduct tion (it was the entire letter that by saying, that though it was ad- was demanded). That extract was dressed to him in the belief that as follows ; but as Mr Smith, exactly he was still in office, its contents a week before then, had read what he

were not of such importance that affirmed to be the same passage of he should communicate it to the the letter, we shall print the two Government.” And he added, amidst versions in juxtaposition :the derisive cheers of the House, “I read it the moment I received it

Mr V. SMITH (13th May)to my noble friend the Member for “That private letter contained one paTiverton, to whom it did not appear, ragraph, which stated, 'I intend to issue any more than to myself, that it was

a Proclamation to the talookdars and necessary to communicate it to the Go- landowners of Oude, which will reach vernment.” This was an explanation

you officially by the mail. I had hoped

to have acccompanied it with a full ex. for which certainly his “noble friend” did not thank him,

planatory despatch, but more urgent

and which, business has prevented me from doing moreover, only told doubly against so from hour to hour.'" himself; for if he thought the letter of such importance that he instantly

LORD PALMERSTON (20th May. took the advice of the ex-Premier as “ Lord Canning says: 'My letter by to what he should do with it, it was the last mail mentioned a Proclamation still more clearly his duty to send it which I intended to address to the tato his successor at the Board of Con

lookdars and landowners of Oude. It trol, and leave him to judge of its

goes to you officially by this mail. I

had hoped that it would have been accontents. It is useless to attempt to describe the scene produced in the showing why it is in some respects 80 sweep,

companied by an explanatory despatch, House by these disclosures,— the ing, and in others so indulgent; but I had feeling against Mr Smith was awful. other things more pressing upon me in But the disclosures were not done. the last week. My impression is that it On Tuesday, fresh fuel was added is sure to be attacked on both points. to the flame by the statement of Mr You will not of course print it until it Disraeli, that the first mail from the has been acted upon. At present, it Governor-General, after the change stands only as part of an instruction to of Ministry was known in India,

Outram. had arrived on Saturday ; that it Can any one refuse to affirm, that


[ocr errors]

if the latter of these extracts be the ter relating to the proclamation
correct one, Mr Vernon Smith's ver- (dated 5th February), which was
sion was a downright fraud ? Though neither read nor described to the
represented as a verbatim extract, House, Mr Smith also acknowledges
not a line of it coincides with the to have withheld from the Govern-
actual letter! Lord Canning's ac- ment; whether or not its contents
knowledgment that the proclamation were important, we cannot tell, but
is a “sweeping” one, and his other those of the other two unquestion-
remarks upon it, were entirely sup- ably were so. Let Parliament and
pressed by Mr Smith, who never- the public ponder these things. We
theless had the shameless audacity have not time to comment upon
to complain that the Government them, but surely they speak for
should have waited for "explana- themselves.
tions.” Another mystification by Mr This little episode, too, quite ex.
Smith is, that he altered the letter · plains in what manner the Whig
so as to make it appear that it chiefs were enabled to prepare their
contained the first notice which he party for a grand attack upon the
had received of the Governor-Gene- Ministry before Whitsuntide. From
ral's intention to issue a proclama- these private" letters they were
tion; whereas the actual words of fully apprised of Lord Canning's
the letter are : “My letter by the last intention to issue a proclamation,
mail mentioned a proclamation," they knew its character, and they
&c. Constrained by these words, knew also that he expected it to be
Lord Palmerston had also to refer to attacked. As the proclamation was
that previous letter (dated 28th Feb.), to be issued on the capture of Luck-
which he did as follows :-

now, they knew it would be pub

lished in this country shortly before “ Lord Canning, after having stated his

Whitsuntide. Hence their announceopinion with regard to the course that ought to be pursued towards the mutineers, ments, and hence their preparations goes on to say,— The talookdars and regarding the profuse issue of those landowners—men who had not eaten our

“ beautiful embossed cards" by salt, who owe us nothing, who think which the waverers were to be won themselves not unreasonably wronged by over, and at which Mr Bright made us—are in a very different category from the House laugh so heartily !- Is the mutineers. "I will proclaim for them not all this a strange story? a large measure of mercy and indul.

Every day the debate continued, the gence after Lucknow is ours; but until position of the Government improved. that happens, or until Sir Colin Camp; Conscious of the wisdom as well as bell's guns have opened on the city, I will not hold out any invitation to them. patriotism of their cause, the MinisMaun Singh, and all others who have try were prepared, and at the outset shown a disposition to come over, are en

half-expected, to undergo a defeat, couraged to do so. More than this I relying with perfect confidence that cannot do. I do not believe that mortal a dissolution and appeal to the counman could issue a proclamation to muti. try would not only suffice to uphold neers, which, by those in Lucknow, their policy, but would give them a would not be accepted as a sign of hesi- very great accession of strength in tation and weakness, and produce more the House. But as the debate proovil than good.'

ceeded, it became evident that it was What have we here? Why, these not they, but the Opposition, that extracts, taken along with the other were likely to prove in a minority. portions of the letters described but Bursting the fetters which faction not read by Lord Palmerston, contain had sought to impose on it, the deLord Canning's whole explanation of bate rose into one of the noblest and his proclamation ! —and the “expla- most widely interesting ever listened natory despatch" (not “full explana- to within the walls of St Stephen's. tory despatch," as Mr Smith gave it), Logic, oratory, and good managewhich he regretted he had not time ment were on the side of the to send, was manifestly simply an offi- Ministry. They commenced the cial statement of the views expressed fight, in good old style, by placing the in these private letters ! Another let younger officials in the van; and most

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

gallantly did the “Young Guard” spirit, as we have seen, with Lord distinguish itself. We have already Ellenborough's of 24th March), and spoken of the great speech of the seek to "reassure the people, and Solicitor-General, which opened the encourage and reconcile them to war on the side of the Government. British rule.” In other words, to The Under Secretary at War followed Mr Cardwell's motion condemning in due time, making a sensible and Lord Ellenborough's despatch, there effective address. Then the Attorney was now to be added a clause expressGeneral, who came out in his best ing a hope that Lord Canning would style, made a brilliant rushing attack, just do what Lord Ellenborough had which fairly drove his opponents, told him! Derisive laughter was the Lowe and Deasy, off the field. Next, only answer from the Ministerial a most formidable corps came into benches, and the crest-fallen chiefs of action on the side of the Government. the Faction returned home to meThese were the Independent chiefs, ditate for the night on their predicaone and all of whom proclaimed that ment. this was a sheer faction-fight, in A mail had arrived from India, which the Cambridge-House Liberals and its contents, published that were entirely in the wrong, and an- Thursday, strengthened the Governnounced themselves resolutely, op- ment inore than a thousand speeches. posed to the vote of censure. Roebuck The Times' correspondence from the led off, in a speech most damaging to seat of war has justly attained such the Whig chiefs and their cause ; and a reputation, that in all quarters it he was soon after followed by Sir R. was looked for on this occasion with Peel, whose dash and pungent eccen- extraordinary eagerness; but, protricity only made Sir C. Wood's tame videntially for the Cambridge-House platitudes in reply look weaker. On Faction, it had miscarried. The InThursday the excitement of the de- dian journals themselves, however, bate grew stronger than ever as John came to hand, and all these, without Bright rose, and with perfect good exception, united in condemning Lord humour opened such a fire of polished Canning's proclamation. They inirony and sturdy sense upon the terpreted it just as the Government Whig chiefs, their policy, and their had interpreted it-just as the peotactics, that the whole Opposition ple of England had interpreted it array began to waver, and Lord John and they predicted from it nothing Russell was seen to lose his equani- but disaster. At the same time, it mity under the orator's scathing vol. had become publicly known that all leys. If Mr Bright be one of the the military authorities in India, and hardest hitters, Sir James Graham those best acquainted with Oude generally proves about the heaviest and the Indian people generally, were metal in debate; and when he, too, strenuously opposed to Lord Can

; rose on the side of the Government, ning's edict of confiscation. Sir Colin and declared that—friend as he was Campbell

, General Mansfield, Sir to Lord Canning-the proclamation James Outram, Sir John Lawrence, was indefensible, and the despatch Colonel Franks, united in condemsubstantially right, and that he would ning it. As Chief Commissioner in have opposed Mr Cardwell's motion Oude, and peculiarly acquainted with even although Lord Ellenborough had the province, Sir James Outram had not resigned, the chiefs of the Fac- remonstrated in the strongest terms. tions saw that the game was up, and Objecting to the principle of the that all they need think of was proclamation, he stated that the how to withdraw from the field. At landholders had been“ most unjustly the close of that night's debate, Mr treated under our settlement operaCardwell anpounced that he was now tions,” and that nevertheless they had willing to adopt Mr Dunlop's amend- remained faithful to us until ** ment, by adding to his own motion a rule was virtually at an end.” And as clause expressing the confident trust to the effect of the edict, he expressed of the House that Lord Canning his “ firm conviction that as soon would act in the spirit of the Court as the chiefs and talookdars became of Directors' despatch (identical in acquainted with the determination of



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the Government to confiscate their unmistakably non-plussed. They rights, they will betake themselves knew they were beaten. Their case at once to their domains, and prepare had melted away—their orators, too, for a desperate and prolonged resist- were exhausted, all but Palmerston; ance;" adding that he “foresees that while not a third of the debating we are only at the commencement of power of the Ministerialists had been a guerilla war for the extirpation, called into play,—the “Old Guard root and branch, of this class of men, had still to make its terrible onset, which will involve the loss of thou- — and Bulwer, Gladstone, Walpole, sands of Europeans by battle, disease, Kelly, and Disraeli, roused to their and exposure.” At the same time highest efforts by the occasion, would the news from the seat of war ap- sweep everything before them, and prised us that these prognostications make the country as well as the were being sadly fulfilled. Despite House ring with their lofty and tellour capture of Lucknow, no submis- ing oratory. At length, after some sions were coming in; and Sir Colin's fencing between Lord Palmerston fine army, that was to have followed and the Chancellor of the Exchequer the rebels into Rohilcund, had been on the subject of the adjournment broken up into detached corps, most for the holidays—in which the Minof which were toiling after flying isterial leader shows he knows he has columns of the rebels over the now the whip-hand of his antagonist, and burning plains of Oude. It was also means to keep it—the order of the known that the Governor-General day is read for proceeding with the had, in a high-handed way, been Vote of Censure. Mr Clay at once overruling the Commander-in-Chief's rises on the Opposition benches, and plans of the campaign ; and sundry makes a strong appeal to Mr Cardother revelations, of still more tell well to withdraw his motion ; and ing importance, were expected to be no sooner has Mr Cardwell

gone made by the Chancellor of the Ex- through the farce of declining to do chequer in the great speech which so, than a perfect chorus of “Withhe was sure to deliver. Not only draw ! withdraw!” broke from the had the whole case of the Opposition benches around him; and Liberal disappeared as if in quicksands, but members rose in successive dozens, the tables were fairly turned against imploring him not to ruin "the them. Everywhere the country was party” in the eyes of the country, proclaiming that the Ministry were and especially not to ruin them with entirely in the right. All that was their constituents, by persisting with left for the Factions was to capi- his motion. A majority was against tulate !

them,—what was worse, the country We need not dwell on the events was against them; and every day of that ever-memorable Friday the was still further damaging their case. 21st. The House of Commons was To divide was ruin,—to adjourn was crowded-crammed as perhaps it doubly ruin. “ There are 100 memnever was before. There had been a bers here," said Mr Bright, “who tremendous “whip” on both sides, have over and over again declaredand, summoned by electric wire, many of them in my hearing—that members had hurried thither from the motion was not a wise one, and all parts of the Continent. The ought not

to have been brought forbenches could not accommodate the ward.” The dilemma of these unmembers, and numbers stood on the fortunates was, beyond measure, grocrowded floor. Around and above, tesque ; and the highly-wrought exevery gallery was filled with distin- citement of the assembly broke forth guished onlookers. Crowds were out- at every little turn of the proceedings side in the Palace Yard ; and once, in vociferous cheers or laughter. Lib. but once only, as the members as- eral after Liberal had appealed in sembled, the crowd was heard cheer- vain to Mr Cardwell, when the meming, and in walked the Chancellor ber for Plymouth made one desperate of the Exchequer. The Ministerial effort more, though every sentence benches were intensely excited, but drew shouts of laughter from the radiant; the Opposition anxious, and exulting Ministerialists. He said

« AnteriorContinuar »