HC Deb 24 March 1825 vol 12 cc1167-93
Mr. Hume

rose to make his promised motion for the production of papers relating to certain transactions in India. The subject to which he was about to call the attention of the House, was one of the utmost importance; but, before he entered upon the topic, he would advert to the very slight and indifferent manner, in which Indian affairs were often looked upon in that House. He was himself of opinion, that the authorities of this country were little calculated, at so great a distance, to legislate for the necessities of so vast an empire, and that the administration of Indian affairs was, therefore, very properly left in the hands of the persons appointed by the Crown to reside in that country. It was true, there was a law existing, and a rule laid down, by which the public authorities in India were called upon to report their proceedings to the government at home, and to obey whatever orders they might receive from England. The House must be aware, that all important regulations proposed in relation to the affairs of India, were always submitted by the government of that country to the consideration of the government in England; and such regulations had been often very much altered, modified, or even entirely changed. He was much disposed to think, that if his majesty's government would select for India only such persons as were capable of conducting the affairs of that great nation, the less the interference of this country the better. Excepting in cases of complaint, or very extraordinary occurrence, he believed it would be found, that the less our home authorities interfered with the Indian administration, the better that country would be governed. He, however, feared, that if individuals were sent out to govern that great empire, who were incapable of their duty, or un-worthy of their trust, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, that the misgovernment could be remedied by the wisdom of any councils at home. He feared that evils must have taken place in India to a very great extent, and such as it behoved the House to pay the most serious and immediate attention to. As long as justice was impartially administered in India—as long as that country was tranquil, and its inhabitants tolerably happy—he should deprecate the interference of that House in the management of Indian affairs; but, whenever it was found, as at the present crisis, that general dissatisfaction was prevalent; that the country was plunged into an extensive war; and that no confidence whatever was reposed in those who swayed the government, it was the imperative duty of the House, to investigate the sources of the evil, and to consider what measures were best calculated to check the progress of disaster, and to re-establish the former prosperity.—The present state of India was such, that it became a question of vital importance what measures the government would pursue; and what part the administration would act, if those to whom the power of interference was delegated should not adopt the proper measures, or meet the crisis with adequate wisdom and vigour. It was with a view to investigate the manner in which this department of government had performed its duty, that he brought the present subject before the House. The war now raging in India was of the most calamitous description, and the possible result appeared not to have been calculated; but, whatever the result might be, the war itself could be attended with no credit to the actors, and had already inflicted much disgrace upon our arms. He had long wished to bring this subject distinctly and separately before the House; but a more disgraceful mass of information had never been laid upon the table, in explanation of so important a war as that which was now raging in India. He had been anxious to wait, in hopes of being supplied by other channels with the information requisite upon Indian affairs; but the Board of Control had either not the means of laying before the House, or had not thought proper to lay before the House, the information which was expected at their hands. The war had been most improperly begun; but it was absolutely necessary for the safety of our possessions in India, that the war, thus wantonly provoked, should be conducted to a successful issue. It had required nothing but prudence to continue India in the state in which it had been left by the marquis of Hastings; and he had trusted to have seen disseminated throughout that country, the enlightened views and liberal principles which had lately been making such progress throughout Europe. He had trusted, that a liberal policy, and the removal of commercial restrictions, would have enabled English capital to put in force the immense capabilities of that country. He had hoped that India would have been advancing in prosperity; but it had been retrograding. He could scarcely do otherwise than anticipate calamitous results from any change produced in India. That country possessed an army consisting of 150,000 native troops, and of not more than 20,000 or 22,000 European soldiers. It extended from the banks of the Indus to the Burmese frontier, and from the hills of Thibet to the southernmost point of Hindoostan. He was sorry to say, that no man could estimate the population within many millions. A census had been begun twenty years ago, but had not been proceeded in; but if we stated the population of India to be from eighty to ninety millions, it would not be over-rated. Many carried it to one hundred millions. When it was considered, that this vast population consisted of different castes, of different religions, of separate jurisdictions, of separate laws, and of separate interests, it would be seen that it required no common abilities to conduct that country as it had been conducted formerly, and as it ought to be conducted at present. We ought to be most anxious, not only not to create in the breast of European or native even the smallest dissatisfaction at the government, but to inspire every class with the most complete confidence in their rulers. He assured the House, that in any observations which fell from him, he had no wish to cast the slightest imputation upon the personal character of lord Amherst; he blamed, not that noble lord, but the persons who appointed him to his present government. No man acquainted with the affairs of India, could for a moment suppose that lord Amherst, however amiable and estimable his private character, was equal, even in a time of profound peace, to the government of the vast territories which we possessed in that country. How much less, then, was he competent to that government in a time of war, and when our frontiers were surrounded by enemies? What had already occurred was sufficient to bear him out in the assertion, that that noble lord ought not to have been sent out at all. What was the event of lord Amherst's mission to India? Why, it was this—that we were plunged into a dangerous and unnecessary war; a war which, whatever might be its termination, could be productive of no benefit to the interests of the East-India company. But, as this was a part of the subject, the merits of which the House would have a more convenient opportunity of discussing at a future period, he would avoid entering more largely into it at present. The fact, however, was, that we were engaged in war; and, admitting, for the sake of argument, that it was a war justly entered into, let the House inquire, for a moment, how it had been conducted, and they would find, that every act of the government had been precipitate, rash, and unnecessary. He called upon any hon. members in that House, at all acquainted with the affairs of India, to state, from what information they had been able to collect, whether such was not the fact. He called upon them to say, whether it had not been the uniform policy of all governors of India, to avoid as much as possible, engaging the troops in active operations during the rainy season. He did not speak theoretically upon this point; he had been more than once encamped with the army, in the rainy seasons; and it would, perhaps, surprise the House to hear that, out of a body of 10,000 men, not more than 1,500 were capable of acting with effect. This was not an isolated case. It had been, for a long time, a general rule in India, not to expose the men more than was absolutely necessary at such periods of the year. Lord Amherst must, of course, have possessed full power to act upon this point; and, therefore, when he determined to advance the troops upon Rangoon, at such a period, he adopted a line of conduct which every person connected with India could not help blaming. The consequence of that conduct was, that after the most gallant attempts—attempts which, he trusted, British troops would, under any circumstances, be always found ready to make—our army found it impossible to secure for themselves those quarters and supplies, which their situations required. The position in which they were necessarily placed, brought on a mortality, the extent of which he was afraid to mention, because of the scantiness of information which was allowed to reach this country on the subject. The public press of India was not allowed to give the details; no official information was given to the public; so that gentlemen, in adverting to the question, were obliged to trust to brief and indirect accounts of the facts. He was the more anxious to dwell upon this part of the subject, in order to vindicate himself and his friends from any charge of exaggeration which might be made against them, and to show that the silence maintained by those who had the power of affording information, necessarily drove them to the only other sources of information which were open to them; namely, private letters and communications. According to those private statements it appeared, that a large number of the disposable force called into action had been carried off, or rendered unfit for service. Without entering into details, it was sufficient for him to state, that all accounts concurred in stating, that our army had been placed in a situation of great distress, and that a degree of terror and alarm had been spread through India, such as had never been experienced there before. He had some experience of military affairs in India; and he could assure the House, that in no instance had he known the Bengal troops refuse to march or do their duty, with the exception of a little affair which took place in 1795, and which arose out of circumstances totally different from the present. Whilst he was in India, he found the best dispositions prevailing amongst the native troops; but, from recent accounts, it appeared, that the native army stood upon very ticklish grounds indeed. The affair at Barrackpore was a serious one: he hoped it would be shown that it was necessary: he would give no decided opinion upon it; but this he would say, that the treatment of the native troops who had mutinied, was stated, in the private accounts which reached him, to be much more severe than was necessary. Whatever was the cause of the disturbance at Barrackpore, it was sufficient for his present argument, that it did take place; and he agreed, that, however well grounded the cause of complaint on the part of the mutineers, that such mutiny ought to be at once put down; but, having been put down, it required the skill and ability possessed by the late governor-general, backed by the advice and assistance of a wise and liberal council, to have at once adopted the ulterior measures necessary to be pursued. Would it be believed, that in India, in a country where we might be said to hold our possessions under the natives, the government there should have indiscriminately punished the innocent with the guilty? Was there, he asked, any similar instance on the Company's records? He would now confine himself strictly to what had been admitted on the other side; namely, "that every effort had been made by the officers appointed for that purpose, to induce the native troops to lay down their arms, but without effect; and that then the native officers and non-commissioned officers were called upon their allegiance to separate themselves from the troops, which they instantly did to a man." After this, the mutineers were treated in a manner, the justice of which he doubted. But, to pass that, was there any reason on earth why lord Amherst should, in the public Gazette, state, that it was impossible the Sepoys could have been stirred up to such a mutiny, without the privity and consent of their officers and non-commissioned officers; and therefore that those officers, every man of whom had adhered to the Company's interests with honour and credit, were to be refused re-admission to the service, and treated with the greatest ignominy? He would ask whether such a measure as this was a proof of the talent, the wisdom, or the sound abilities of lord Amherst? It was, indeed, an act without a parallel. But, it did not stop here, for it was added (after the dismissal of the officers in this ignominious way), that a court of inquiry might be appointed, and if any of the officers were found innocent, they might be re-appointed. Now, he maintained, that a governor-general, capable of acting in such a manner, was totally unfit to direct the affairs of India; and those who conferred upon him that government would be seriously to blame if they continued him a moment longer in his appointment. He called upon the House to consider the accounts which had been received from Madras, Bengal, and Bombay, and they would find in them no difference with respect to the opinion entertained of the governor-general. On the contrary, it would be found, that the noble lord had lost the confidence of every man in the country, whether in or out of office. Was it possible to continue these great and extensive territories any longer under the government of such men as lord Amherst, and those about him? It was the duty of the House to inquire, whether the right hon. gentleman at the head of the Board of Control had in view any measure calculated to remedy the evil [hear, hear! from Mr. Wynn]. He was glad to hear the cheer of the right hon. gentleman, and he trusted, from the confidence of his manner, that he would be able to defend the course of policy recently pursued in India. He (Mr. H.J acted upon the best information which he was able to collect; but, where the press was silenced, and where the details only crept out indirectly, and in a manner likely to be magnified on the one hand, and curtailed on the other, was it to be wondered at, that hon. members should occasionally act upon misrepresentation? To avoid this, he was anxious to lay before the House and the country the fullest information which could be obtained upon the subject. It appeared, from letters written three weeks before the 1st of November, that complaints were made by the Sepoys, of a want of their usual allowances. The hon. member here went over the complaints of the Sepoys, of having been reduced from double full allowance (which, in his time, they were allowed in marching), by degrees, to such a quantity as was barely necessary for their support. Again, they went on to state, that in order to remove themselves and their families and baggage, it was necessary to afford them a certain number of coolies and carriage cattle. It was not, perhaps, generally known in that House, that for one European in our army in India, there were ten natives of various descriptions attached to it, and that if our troops in that country were compelled to carry their baggage as they did in colder climates, they would be rendered totally unfit for the purposes of warfare. Orders had been sent out, in consequence of which considerable reductions had been made in the attendants upon our officers, soldiers, and so forth, but still additional conveyances were necessary. When the troops were ordered to march from Barrackpore, they asked for their usual allowances, week after week; and it was not until shortly before the unfortunate affair which took place, that the government thought proper to allow them a certain sum of money, when, in fact, money was of no use, as the government were at that time engaging every mode of conveyance which could be obtained. Was it too much that the Sepoys should have requested to be furnished with the usual mode of conveyance for their baggage, &c.? The right hon. gentleman opposite knew so little of India as to be totally unable to form an opinion upon the subject. If he was acquainted with the interior circumstances of the country, he must be aware that no travelling conveyance could be obtained, without the aid of civil authorities—without, in fact, a system of impress. It was formerly the custom in India for officers to send to any particular native authority, and say, they required so many coolies, and so many bullocks, for the public service. This system was found productive of many hardships upon the natives; and it was in consequence decided, that no such requisition should be made by any military officer, where a civil authority could be applied to. Why, then, he asked, were not the civil magistrates applied to in this case, instead of giving the men money, which, under the circumstances, was of no use to them? It showed a want of attention to the habits and feelings of our native troops, which was unworthy of the government of that country, and which was calculated to alienate them from their allegiance to our government. He recollected, that in the Mahratta war, they had more than fifty candidates for any place which became vacant by death, or other circumstances. As to talking about desertion, it was a thing then totally unknown; and if it existed at present, it was a proof that circumstances had arisen which had changed the feelings, and wishes, and attachments of the natives. According to the accounts which had reached this country, about sixty of the mutineers had been found guilty by a court-martial; and of these eleven had been executed. He would not now enter into the propriety or impropriety of the capital punishment, but would call the attention of the House to the fact, that a great many troops were Brahmins—men who were highly respected, and who always behaved with the greatest courage and gallantry in our service. Our Bengal army was mainly composed of these men; and he appealed to those who best knew that country, for a proof of the high character and courage which those troops had ever evinced in our service. Now, unfortunately, as if in order to heap blunder on blunder, those persons, upon whom capital punishment had not been inflicted, and amongst whom were many Brahmins, were put upon the roads, in chains, to work; a circumstance which had a greater effect upon the minds of our native troops generally, than any other measure that could have been adopted by the government. It was not his wish to overstate the facts which had come to his knowledge from private sources. He was only anxious to be relieved from the necessity of referring to them at all, by having laid before the House the best and most authentic information. He wished to have laid upon the table, the military despatch of the marquis of Hastings, in answer to the orders sent out on the subject of the re-organization of the Bengal army, and directing other reductions in various ways. The instructions sent out to the noble marquis, he felt that he could not, with due attention to the interests of the natives, as well as to the interests of the Company, carry into execution. He had even laid his instructions before the council, and appointed a committee of inquiry into the various branches upon which a reduction was pointed out. That committee made their report, and upon that report, the document for which he now moved, had been drawn up and addressed to the secret department in this country. This report he was now anxious to see, and also the answer which had been returned by the Company to the noble marquis. If the recent government of India had been conducted with reference to the original document sent out with the late go- vernor, then it would be easy to account for the discontent and disquiet of bur army. He imputed blame no where: he only called for these documents, in order to see where the blame ought to attach; for, either the noble lord at present at the head of affairs in India went out for the express purpose of carrying the Company's directions to the late govern or-general into execution, or else he has given a lamentable proof of his inadequacy to hold his present appointment. A governor-general ought to be guided by circumstances; and it required talents, abilities, and firmness, to act with promptitude as circumstances might arise. He said again, that every act of lord Amherst's government was begun and continued in indecision; and that such a course of policy, if persevered in, must be productive of consequences which he trembled to contemplate. He had originally intended to move also for an account of the mutiny at Barrackpore; but, understanding that no definitive accounts had been received on the subject, he conceived that the motion was premature. No such objection, however, existed with respect to the present document; and therefore he was anxious that it should at once be laid before the House, as it would enable them to see how far its instructions had been carried into effect; and then they would be able to draw their fair and just conclusion. If it were urged, that the production of that document would be attended with danger, his answer would be, that there was no danger equal to that with which our possessions in India were now threatened, and that that danger was likely to be augmented by keeping the people of England in ignorance of the real state of that country. The hon. member concluded by moving, "That there be laid before this House, a copy of the military despatch of the marquis of Hastings in 1819, to the secret department of the Court of Directors, on the organization and allowances of the Bengal army; and a copy of the despatch of the Court of Directors to the government in India, in 1823, on that subject; together with a copy of the despatches from India, stating how far their orders have been carried into effect."

Mr. Wynn

said, that before he animadverted on the speech of the hon. member, he wished to express his entire concurrence in one observation which he had made, and that was, that in the administration of the government of a country so remote, and containing a population of so many millions, much ought to be left to the direction of the governor. Indeed, when it was taken into consideration, that five or six months must elapse before any advices sent from this country could reach the seat of government abroad, that man must be mad who would not allow some discretion to the governor. But, while he admitted this, he could not help expressing his surprise, that the hon. member did not perceive that that officer was, upon the same grounds, entitled to the confidence of the Company, until he was afforded a fair opportunity of explaining his conduct, and laying before them his own statement of the case. What was the situation of affairs at present? For himself, he felt that it would be unjust to all parties to give any information, until he was in a situation to make such a full and complete statement of facts, as would at once remove those exaggerated, and, in many instances, garbled accounts, which had been received from private quarters. The document now moved for by the hon. member had not the slightest, the most distant, reference to the mutiny of the troops; and he might as well, with reference to that transaction, move for the production of any military order which had been sent out to India within the last five years; for, neither the letter nor the answer to it contained the slightest allusion to the allowances to be granted to the Sepoys or native officers; both applied merely to the re-organization of the native army, including certain allowances to the European officers, some of which were increased and some diminished. The right hon. gentleman went on to state, that some complaints had been made with respect to the length of time that elapsed before officers reached the highest ranks in the army, and he hoped that the difficulties upon that head would, in a great degree, be removed. With respect to the mutiny at Barrackpore, it had, according to the hon. gentleman, arisen from the circumstances of the troops having been deprived of their usual comforts. He could assure the House, that the troops had suffered no such privation. There certainly were some complaints, that in consequence of the demand by government for conveyances for the army of Rangoon, the troops of the regiment which afterwards mutinied, were unable to procure any mode of conveyance for their baggage and families; upon inquiry, the complaint was discovered to be well founded, and a certain sum of money was distributed to each company. The hon. member had stated, that the money was of no use, inasmuch as no conveyance could be procured for it; but he either forgot to state, or was ignorant of, a particular fact, with which he would supply him.—Here the right hon. gentleman read an extract from a communication from the governor-general, in which it was stated, that ten bullocks per company had been provided for that regiment; and sir Edward Paget, in his communication, stated, that the carriage-cattle had been provided, and were actually within the lines at that time. So that this ground of discontent, the only one which had been alleged, was completely removed.—Then, again, with respect to the attack upon the troops, he would ask, whether any other course could have been resorted to consistently with the discipline of the army? It was urged, that 180 men had been killed, while, as if to show the fallacy of these communications, some persons mounted the number up to four or five hundred. God forbid that he should make light of the lives of 180 persons; but, when an officer was commanded upon this painful duty, he would ask, how he could possibly decide upon the precise moment when the attack was to cease? Again, it was urged, that eleven men had been hanged, pursuant to the sentence of a court-martial. Admitting that fact, how, he asked, had they the means of impugning the decision of that court-martial? He confessed that, even if he had the whole of the documents and the evidence laid before that tribunal, he for one should pause, before he offered the slightest opinion in contradiction of the decision to which they had come. As to the punishments inflicted on our native troops generally, he thought it would be more advisable to assimilate them to those in use amongst our own troops. He differed from the hon. member, with respect to the origin of the present war. He believed that lord Amherst was forced into the war with the Burmese, and that it was impossible for him to overlook the conduct of that nation, without lowering the dignity of the British character. The hon. gentleman had said, that he should not now enter into any discussion with respect to the demerits of lord Amherst's conduct; but, whenever he did, he should be ready to meet him, as far as he had the means. The hon. gentleman had thought fit to indulge in the expression of an opinion with respect to lord Amherst's incompetency; but he begged leave to doubt, whether the hon. gentleman had had sufficient opportunity of determining that question, or estimating the noble lord's conduct. He had said, that the country was in a state of profound peace when lord Amherst went out, and that the noble lord was not capable of conducting the government in a state of peace; but he should say, that lord Amherst, from his turn of mind, and from his discretion, was the person of all others calculated to maintain the tranquillity then existing. The hon. member had argued, that the war was ill-timed. But, the question was, whether the Indian government were allowed an opportunity to select their time. If a provocation were offered, the government must of course proceed to war; and, in this instance, when war was determined upon, it was admitted, that it could not be prosecuted with so much advantage as at Rangoon. Lord Amherst proceeded on the best opinions that could be collected; and, having done so, it was rather hard that so much censure should be cast upon him. Lord Amherst was particularly guided by the authority of a brave and meritorious officer, major Campbell; who had since fallen a victim to the insalubrity of the climate. That officer had been four times up to Ava, and his opinion was, that by capturing Rangoon, and preventing the enemy from deriving any resources from that quarter, he would inevitably be reduced to come to terms. The object or the justice, of this war had never been called in question; and, when the necessity for hostilities was proved to exist, that, he thought would be but an indifferent sort of policy which could induce a government to resort to half measures. He, of course, admitted that it would be better if war could be avoided. This country had already dominions enough in India—more indeed, than could well be managed. But in his opinion lord Amherst was compelled to enter into this war; and he could not overlook the aggravating conduct of the Burmese government, without lowering and degrading the British character. On this point he should say nothing more, as the hon. member had stated that he would introduce the subject in a more formal and tangible shape; but, when it was so brought before the House, he should be ready to meet all the arguments which the hon. member might advance on the question. With respect to the abilities of lord Amherst, he thought the hon. member had expressed too decided an opinion. When he was sent out, the Company's territories were in a state of profound peace. It was hoped that that state of peace might have been preserved; and lord Amherst appeared, from his feelings and his character, the most likely person that could be selected, for the purpose of ensuring the continuance of tranquillity. It was quite fallacious to suppose that no danger was ever apprehended from the Burmese. Lord Minto had himself stated his conviction, that if the Nepaul war terminated unsuccessfully, the Burmese would appear in arms against us. It was very true that during the administration of the marquis of Hastings, a war with the Burmese government had been prevented. But, how was it got rid of? Why, by sending back the letter of the Burmese monarch, and declaring that our government conceived it to be a forgery. Such a plan might succeed once, but, certainly it would not be efficient a second time. [Mr. Hume here asked, "What did the right hon. gentleman say to the destitution of the native officers of the 47th regiment? "] The opinion of every person with whom he had conversed on the subject was, that it was quite impossible the mutiny could have been carried on without the knowledge of the native officers, if they had performed their duty. They had, therefore, brought this destitution on themselves. If he stated his own opinion on the subject (founded, as it undoubtedly was, on very slight materials), he should say, that the native officers had been guilty of very great neglect, and that they deserved the punishment of destitution. It appeared to him to be equally necessary for the interest of the public service, that they should be dismissed, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, as it would have been, had they taken an active part in the mutiny. The hon. member had adduced many reasons for the alleged unpopularity of lord Amherst; but he had omitted one which he begged leave to notice. He really believed, that the circumstance of lord Amherst having placed the lady of a commodore above the ladies of the senior merchants, on the table of precedence, had excited more hatred, jealousy, and, ill-feeling, against lord Amherst, than any other of his acts since he became governor-general.

Mr. Robertson

viewed this as a most serious question, and one on which the fullest information ought to be afforded. The present contest in India ought to be viewed, not merely with reference to the Burmese, but with reference to the contiguity of the Burman empire with the empire of China, which contained a population of 150 millions. He protested most strongly, against our waging any war in India, unless we were actually forced into it. It appeared to him, that the course adopted to put down the late mutiny had placed the life of every European in India completely in jeopardy. That the native troops were bold and resolute, could at once be proved by the well-known fact that three companies of them had put to the rout 11,000 of the Burmese troops. So formidable a body of men ought not to be treated with severity. He hoped that such information would be laid before parliament, as would enable gentlemen to understand correctly the present state of India.

Colonel Davies

lamented the conduct pursued towards the troops who had mutinied. The unfortunate people would he was sure, have laid down their arms, if properly spoken to; but when they had no expectation of it, artillery which had been designedly brought to bear on them was discharged. The very idea of such cruelty was sufficient to make a man's blood boil in his veins. He had, himself, no means of personal observation; but he had spoken to many officers of experience in India, and heard from them that there did not breathe braver troops than the Sepoys. They were, if required, ready to brave any danger—to go even to the cannon's mouth; but, by the subsequent proceedings, what were they? The officers were branded with disaffection—they were characterised as unworthy of confidence, and dismissed with disgrace. Such conduct made him blush for the British name. From these things we were well able to judge what lord Amherst was capable of doing on other matters. He did not know whether his hon. friend meant to persevere in his motion to a division. If he did he should certainly support him; and he hoped that his hon. friend, whether successful or not, would follow up the motion of that night, until the whole of these most extraordinary proceedings were thoroughly made known.

Mr. Fremantle

owned he was astonished at some of the observations which had been made by the gallant officer who had just sat down. Considering the profession of that gallant colonel—considering his character and his experience—he should have thought it impossible for him, as a military man, not to have perceived the absolute necessity which existed, of putting down the mutiny at Barackpore by the most prompt and decisive measures. And when that gallant officer spoke of no remonstrance having been made with the men, and no warning having been given them, he could not restrain his astonishment; because it was well known that at that very moment a military inquiry was going on, and that it was not even attempted to put down the mutinous spirit which had broken out by having recourse to force, until every thing had been done to prevent those misguided men from going on and bringing ruin upon themselves. The gallant officer had, indeed, stated one thing which was most true. He had said, that there was no army more able, none more sincerely attached to their commanding officers, none more faithfully brave in the encountering of the enemy, than the native troops of India. This truth had been established for these fifty years past, by actions the most glorious, not only to the admiration of India, and all Europe, but to every one who considered or felt for the interests of England throughout that extensive empire. This mutiny, however, he would say, was one that required to be immediately suppressed—a mutiny, founded upon what? Why, upon an order for marching against the enemy. He was really astonished to hear the gallant officer state that the severity used towards men guilty of such insubordination on such a ground, was too much. He would affirm, that the severity was not too great; nor did he, indeed, conceive any severity at all to have been exercised, inasmuch as that every effort had been previously made to induce those men to put down their arms. It had been objected, that this mutiny was but partial, and did not, therefore, demand such decisive measures for its suppression. But, the danger was not merely that which arose from the insubordination of that particular regiment: it consisted in this, that so long as this mutinous spirit was allowed to exist, there was ground for apprehending its spreading throughout every regiment on that expedition. The men were told, that if they did not put down their arms, immediate efforts would be taken to compel them; it could not therefore be said, that the artillery was brought upon them insidiously and without warning. If the hon. mover had opened this debate with a spirit of fairness, and with a view only to inquiry, he (Mr. F.) should have felt disposed to have entered further into the subject than he had done; but, as the hon. member had made it a medium of hostility and attack upon the characters of honorable individuals, of whose conduct we had no authentic information, he should decline doing so. The House of Commons was not in a situation to sit in judgment upon the conduct of lord Amherst, or of any other of the authorities in India; he should, therefore, only apply himself to one more point which had been alluded to by the hon. member for Aberdeen. He would distinctly state to the hon. gentleman, that no diminution of allowance, no deprivation of any advantage or profit enjoyed by the native army of India, was directed in that despatch. The whole object of that despatch was directed to the state of the European officers of the native army, and had reference only to certain arrangements which were proposed regarding them. The letter which the hon. gentleman had moved for, bearing date 1820, from the marquis of Hastings, was a letter of the most important and confidential description, containing the noble lord's opinion of the state of the army in India, as in reference to its European officers, to their pay, their allowances, their general organization, and the system of their promotion. On all these points, the noble lord had given his general view. It must be obvious to the House, that such a letter, addressed as it was to the Secret Committee of Correspondence, was not a fit letter to be produced to the public, either in justice to the government or to the noble marquis himself. But, he would tell the hon. gentleman, that every suggestion contained in this letter had been deeply and anxiously considered by the authorities at home, with that attention and regard which was due to the subject, to the opinions of such high and distinguished authority as the noble marquis, and beyond that, with every feeling of kindness and liberality to the European officers of the native army. The principle which the noble marquis had laid down, formed the ground work of the decision of the East India Company, namely, to equalize, as far as possible, the pay, the allowances, and the situation of the European officers belonging to the three presidencies, and, moreover, to give that spur to promotion, which had been wanting since the termination of the war. It could not be imagined, for one moment, that any arrangement embracing such a variety of intents, and comprehending the whole of the officers of an army amounting to upwards of 250,000 men, could be carried into effect, without affecting, in some instances, the personal claims and interests of individuals; but he had to assure the hon. gentleman, that notwithstanding a period had expired since the arrival of the despatch in India, sufficient to enable the government there to judge of the whole tenor of the arrangement proposed, no remonstrance had been received, and no objection urged by those authorities, against it. The propositions which regulated the allowances and pay, had not been issued in public orders; as appeared by their omission in the Calcutta gazette; it could not, therefore, be from this despatch (which was the answer to lord Hastings's letter), that any feeling of discontent could have arisen among the native troops—Mr. Fremantle further stated that, with regard to the abridgment or abolition of allowances, in no case was it proposed by the East India Company, to execute their order son officers now enjoying them. The whole measure of reduction was either prospective, or a full compensation granted for the allowances withdrawn in instances where an equivalent was not afforded by a promotion of rank in the service; The hon. mover of this proposition had referred to the Batta allowances; on which, undoubtedly, much of the profit and advantage to the European officers of the Indian army depended, and more particularly in the presidency of Bengal. Here the officers had an allowance at all times of full Batta.—The object of the government was, to raise the Madras and Bombay allowances by certain arrangements, and to limit the Batta allowances to certain districts of Bengal, so as to approach to an equalization in the whole army, but in proposing this measure the government had fully weighed the subject in all its bearings, and had determined that their orders should not be carried into execution at the present time. They suggested the propriety of adopting it whenever the reliefs took place in the cantonments intended to be reduced. This arrangement was made by the East-India Company, for the purpose of avoiding all complaint by the immediate reduction of Batta allowance to officers then enjoying them, and with a view also, of giving to the supreme government in India a full and ample time for considering the expediency of the measure, and of furnishing to the authorities at home their opinion upon it. The period for the reliefs was calculated at a term of three years, which afforded ample time for further communication with England. It did not appear that this part of the arrangement had been yet notified to the army of Bengal; and therefore the hon. mover could not ground any feeling of discontent of the Indian army on this part of the answer to lord Hastings's letter.—In justice to the East-India Company, he was bound to state that, with a view of carrying the principle of equalizing the situation of the European officers of the native a my into effect, they had increased their expenses, in this branch of the government, in a sum exceeding 200,000l. per annum [hear, hear].—With regard to the proceedings of lord Amherst, which had been very unnecessarily introduced into this debate, he did not think himself now called upon to say one word. He was, however, fully sensible to all the calumnies and unfounded reports which had been industriously spread abroad to injure and defame that noble lord's character; but his right hon. friend had pledged himself to enter fully into that subject, whenever the hon. mover of the proposition was disposed to discuss it. He (Mr. F.) repeated the same declaration, and even with the limited and partial information which had reached the country, he should be greatly disappointed if it were not found, that lord Amherst so far from deserving those censures and that condemnation which had been passed upon his conduct, had acted with a judgment and a firmness throughout the whole of his arduous and difficult administration, that would ultimately lead to a firmer bond of peace, and to a more permanent' state of tranquillity throughout the vast empire over which he presided.

Colonel Baillie

said, that gentlemen ought not to indulge in anticipations. of the final ill-success of a war, because it had commenced unfavourably. In the beginning of the Nepaul war our arms were not successful. One part of the army, commanded by a most excellent and gallant officer, had suffered a reverse; but yet that war was conducted to a successful termination. He agreed entirely in the eulogium which had been pronounced on the Indian army. It was as loyal and gallant an army as any in the world. But amongst that body, as amongst all others, disaffection would sometimes appear. He recollected, that 30 years ago a mutiny broke out amongst a regiment of those troops, who expressed a determination not to embark on service. They were commanded by one of the most gallant and humane officers in our service. He, however, found it necessary to have recourse to force; and that mutiny was put down in a manner fully as calamitous, and as much to be deplored, as that which the hon. member for Aberdeen had described. The regiment in question was degraded from its station. The 15th regiment was for ever excluded from the list of the company's force. Some of the mutineers were brought to a court-martial. A part of them were capitally punished; and many others were punished in degree, according to the extent of their guilt. Some of them, on expressing their contrition, were admitted into the service again; and the same result might, perhaps, occur in this instance. From a knowledge of the Indian army during 30 years, he came to this conclusion, that a mutiny could not be brought to a head in that army without the knowledge of the native officers [hear]; and therefore he looked upon the officers, in this instance, to have been conniving, at least to a certain extent, at the conduct of those who were placed under them [hear]. By such a proceeding they were unquestionably subjected to the punishment which had been inflicted on them. The native officers were connected with the Sepoys, in many instances, by the nearest degrees of blood. Many of the non-commissioned officers and privates were the children of men who have served 30 or 40 years in the Indian army; and it was impossible to conceive that a mutiny could be in progress under such circumstances as these, without the senior native officers knowing something of the matter. The hon. member for Aberdeen certainly laboured under a considerable mistake, when he asserted that a great proportion of the native troops were Brahmins. The fact was, that the number of Brahmins amongst the native troops was very small. They consisted of Rajpoots, and men of other high castes, but there were very few Brahmins among them. The information which had reached this country, as to the number of men who had been cut off, was not to be depended on. It was exceedingly contradictory. He had seen three or four letters from India, in one of which the number of men killed in the suppression of the mutiny was stated to be 580, in another 470, in a third, 360; and in a fourth, 130. As to the character of the governor-general, he thought they ought to know something more about it before gentlemen proceeded to stigmatize it. They ought not to stigmatize his conduct at a moment when it was impossible to judge of the wisdom and necessity of the measures he had adopted.

Sir C. Forbes

said, that, in spite of any observations which might be made by gentlemen in office, he would speak his sentiments, as to the course of policy pursued by lord Amherst, with the utmost freedom. With respect to any prejudice which might have been raised against lord Amherst, on account of the alteration he had made in the table of precedence, he certainly did not participate in it. On the contrary, he gave him the highest credit for his conduct on that occasion; and he also gave credit to the president of the Board of Control, who, he believed, had supported the alteration proposed by lord Amherst, which gave a certain degree of precedence to the lady of commodore Hayes. With respect to the suppression of the mutiny, he considered it one of the most barbarous murders that had ever been perpetrated. How had the mutiny originated? The troops were ordered, at a day's notice, to march from Putra to Barackpore (a distance of 1,000 miles) to join the British army. He knew this from a letter which he had received, and which was written, not after the mutiny, but before it broke out. This march was ordered in the monsoon season—a very unhealthy period of the year. On ordinary occasions, these troops, when changing their cantonments, were allowed coolies, bullocks, & c, to carry their luggage; but, on this occasion, that was not the case. They were ordered to fall into the ranks with their arms and accoutrements: their knapsacks, in particular, were directed to be fastened on. They declined this. They said "We are not coolies; we will not degrade ourselves by carrying our cooking utensils on our backs." It was this circumstance which gave rise to the ill-feeling amongst the troops, which at last broke out into open mutiny. If the public press in India had been at all free, this event would not have happened. He did not contend for the unlimited freedom of the press in India. He was not prepared to say that the complete and unrestricted freedom of the press there, would, under existing circumstances, be proper. But he certainly did wish, that the press of India was far removed from its present state, which was one of the most slavish degradation. It was the defender of tyranny and oppression, instead of being, as it was in this country, the detector of abuses. It was here the birth-right of British subjects; but, in India, all and every part of that birth-right was withheld. How, then, could they receive information from India? They must either take such intelligence as the government chose to afford them, or that which they received through the medium of private correspondence. He had received a letter from a lady on the subject of the present state of India, part of which he would read to the House. He saw the chairman of the Court of Directors smiling at this statement, but he would, nevertheless, read an extract from that letter. His hon. friend (Mr. Hume) had, it appeared, received letters from civil, military, medical, and commercial characters, on this subject: but, he repeated, that the letter he was about to read, and it was a very sensible one, was the production of a female. It was not from the lady of commodore Hayes, nor from the wife of any civil officer; but it was from the lady of a gallant officer, who was with the army at Rangoon at the time it was written. It was dated the 18th of November, and had been received by the very latest arrivals. The writer said—"lord Amherst must have enough on his mind at this moment. Certainly it is a most nervous and critical time for every one of us. The public prints will have told you of the mutiny at Barackpore before you receive this." Unfortunately the public prints of India did not tell the whole of the business. If the public prints were suffered to notice passing events there, government would not have been surprised by this mutiny at Barackpore. The writer went on to say—"the 47th regiment has been struck off the army-list in consequence. The artillery and two European regiments were brought out against the mutineers; and it is hoped that sir E. Paget's decided conduct will have a good effect. Yet the feeling of discontent is apprehended to have spread widely through the native troops; and there is no knowing whether it may not show itself somewhere else, where there are no European troops to put it down." The letter went on to complain of that economy, as very illjudged, which had curtailed the native troops of their accustomed allowances. He perfectly concurred with the gallant officer opposite, that the unfortunate mutineers ought never to have been pursued after they had taken to flight. The bringing the artillery upon them, dreadful as it seemed, might be necessary, but the pursuit was a cruel and needless piece of butchery, and one which would never have occurred, had such men as sir Lionel Smith, or sir John Malcolm been in command. After the British troops should have been marched against the Burmese, he feared that those left behind might take advantage of their absence. As well as he could judge, India, at no former period, had been in so perilous a situation. And was the man who had brought it to that state, likely to be the best man to bring it out of it. He called upon government and the directors to send out some governor-general who possessed the confidence of the public in England, and would acquire it in India. Lord Amherst enjoyed it in neither country: opinions were unanimous as to his character and qualifications. Would any hon. member rise and contradict him, and say, that they had reliance upon the measures of lord Amherst? If not, he should infer from their silence that they assented to what he advanced regarding his lordship. Such was the rapacity of the government in India, that the more territory they obtained, the more greedy were they for fresh acquisitions. The loss in Europeans and in natives at Rangoon had been immense; and, under all the circumstances, he considered the whole government of lord Amherst imbecile, and that those who sent him to India were as little his friends as those who kept him there. No greater service could be done to the Indian empire than to recall him without delay.

Sir J. Sebright

protested strongly against the course pursued by the hon. baronet, who had read with so much emphasis a letter from a lady. No doubt he wished to make his speech as interesting by this course, as the memoirs of some persons who introduced into them the expressions of female correspondence. He appealed to the House whether it was fit that the character of the Governor-general should be called in question on the authority of any lady. When the question of lord Amherst's conduct was brought fairly before them, on the authority of official papers, he would enter fairly into the consideration; and if he thought that the noble lord was to blame, he would, notwithstanding his friendship, be as ready as any man to do justice to the public. The hon. gentleman had challenged any private friend of lord Amherst's to stand up and contradict the statement he had made. He was that friend, and he could not but regret that the House should have been induced to listen to an attack from any quarter, however respectable, unsupported by proper documents, and founded only on the communication of a private letter from a lady.

Sir C. Forbes

denied, that he founded his opinions on that private letter. He had received scores of letters, all in the same tone; and was of the same opinion long before he had seen the letter to which he had referred.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

reminded the House that they had been now for two hours listening to speeches on the whole state of India, and containing the most pointed and extraordinary assertions he had ever heard made against any set of people engaged in the service of the public. It was not lord Amherst alone that was attacked; the commander-in-chief had been attacked also. But, what had the conduct of lord Amherst and sir Edward Paget to do with the question before the House? The motion was, to produce a military despatch—not of sir Edward Paget—not of the year 1824; but actually, a military despatch of the marquis of Hastings in the year 1819. He perceived the mode in which, with some ingenuity, but with very little fairness, the hon. member thought he had connected his attack upon lord Amherst with this despatch. It was a document which referred to the allowances of the Bengal army at that date. But the hon. member had forgotten, or perhaps was not aware, that in fact, the paper did not bring his observations within the record; for it concerned the pay and allowances of only the European officers. He did think that, when gentlemen came forward to impugn the conduct of such men as lord Amherst, and reproach the government for hesitating a moment as to his recall, it was a little surprising that they had not courage to come forward with a direct motion, instead of throwing out charges against gentlemen, in a way which precluded the possibility of their being answered. For how could lord Amherst or sir Edward Paget defend themselves against attacks such as those now so liberally made upon them? For his own part, he knew lord Amherst personally; but he would not, on such an occasion, utter one word in his defence. He did not think the course Mow taken ought to be answered. He did not think that it would be justice to lord Amherst or to sir Edward Paget to attempt to answer it. Let the hon. member come forward directly with a motion, calling on the House for censure, and both the individuals whom he attacked would find abundance of defenders, and of able ones; but, unless he could connect his recent observations with the despatch of the marquis of Hastings in 1819—and he defied him to do it—the hon. mover had treated lord Amherst most unfairly.

Mr. Bright

by no means agreed with the right hon. gentleman in his view of the subject, and strongly objected to much of the conduct which had been pursued during the late mutiny. The general order which had been issued subsequent to that event was a reflection upon the whole body of the native officers of India, and a most unjust one. The course which had been adopted with reference to the officers of the regiment which had mutinied, was still more ill-judged, for they seemed entirely to have done their duty on the occasion. The whole appearance of things in that quarter of the world was most alarming; and he trusted the House would examine into the causes of the discontent, and not rest satisfied with such answers as had been received that night. When lord Amherst went to India, all was at peace. It was now in a state of disturbance and danger; and that, as he conceived, furnished a sufficient reason for agreeing to the motion.

Mr. Astell

said, that the papers connected with the Burmese war were now on the table. As for the question of the mutiny, he should not enter into it now. It was enough for him to say, that the committee of inquiry was still sitting, and to call upon the House to suspend its judgment until that committee should have made its report. With respect to the army, he could say, that the whole object of the Court of Directors with respect to it, had been to attend to their comforts and ameliorate the condition of the native troops. No case had been made out to justify the production of the papers moved for; but it was evident that there might be many reasons which would render it imprudent to make disclosures for the present; and for these grounds he should feel it his duty to vote against the motion.

Mr. F. Palmer

said, he had not heard a single syllable to prevent him from voting for the motion. He was satisfied that there was as general a discontent in the army of India against the government at home, as ever made its appearance in any army. He believed that the comforts alluded to by the hon. director, were withdrawn from the army by the paltry and miserable economy of the directors; that the army was not in a state to take the field; and that young and raw cadets were sent to take command, without understanding a military movement, or a word of the language.

Mr. Wigram

opposed the motion, and vindicated the conduct of the East-India Directors towards the army.

Mr. Trant

observed, that the state of the army was not worse than it had been some years ago, and believed that the regulations intended for its advantage had been carried into effect.

Mr. Warre

expressed his surprise at the charge which was thrown out against the hon. mover, and the hon. baronet, for sliding into discussions upon the state of India, with which the papers moved for were intimately connected. Nothing could be more consistent with parliamentary usage than to introduce matter, though not strictly and technically before the House, provided such matter had an obvious, though a general, connexion with the subject. So far was he from feeling that there was any unfairness in the motion, that his only surprise was, that so many weeks should have been permitted to pass over without bringing the question before the House. When the Sepoys were disaffected—when the British troops were repulsed, and the regiments returned skeletons from the seat of war—it was time to feel alarm and adopt inquiry; and upon that ground he should support the motion.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he had never found fault with any member for discussing the general politics of India on this motion. What he complained of was, that this motion was used as a peg on which to hang a series of charges against lord Amherst, who was not here to defend himself against them.

Mr. Hume

, in reply, said, that the right hon. the chancellor of the Exchequer could not have understood his speech, or not have heard it: he must have been asleep while he (Mr. Hume) was making his statement, for he could not have so far departed from his usual candour, as to have taken it up in the manner he had done, if he had attended to him. He would defy the right hon. gentleman, or any friend of lord Amherst, to produce a single letter in which the conduct of that noble lord was approved of. As to the conduct of the Sepoys, he was confident that it arose from an improper interference with their prejudices. An hon. baronet had said, that the House ought to be in the possession of official papers before they condemned. It was for official papers that he was now asking, and yet government had refused to produce them. It was said, that the changes with respect to the army were not to take place for three years; but, were not the rumours of such changes likely to have an effect at present? They were already in possession of a few meagre details, and why were they refused a full disclosure, if there was no reluctance on the part of government to meet the question? He held in his hand a gazette, printed under the authority of the government of India, out of which he could condemn them upon their own shewing. He had also a circular addressed to the editors of newspapers, desiring them, in the name of the government, not to notice the conduct of the forty-seventh regiment.—He was sorry that his hon. friend, (Mr. Trant) had not expressed in the House the opinion which he had delivered elsewhere, on the total want of confidence in lord Amherst's government, which pervaded not only the Bengal community, but every department of India. He had done his duty in bringing the question before the House, and he"had heard no valid reason for opposing it.

The House divided: For the Motion 15; Against it 58.

List of the Minority.
Davies, col. Forbes, sir C.
Evans, W. Gurney, H.
Leycester, R. Tulk, J. A.
Martin, J. Warre, J. A.
Maxwell, J. Wharton, J.
Monck, J. B. Wood, ald.
Palmer, C. F. TELLERS.
Robertson, A. Bright, H.
Russell, lord Hume, J.