§ MR. G. THOMPSON
rose to move—For the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the conduct of the Court of Directors of the East India Company and of the Government of India towards the late Rajah of Sattara, and to report thereupon to the House.As this was a new Parliament, and as there were many hon. Gentlemen in that House to whom this question was probably not familiar, he should consider it necessary to state somewhat in detail the facts connected with it, in order that the House might be prepared to give an enlightened decision upon the Motion which he had the honour to propose. He begged to say, that it was not in his own name alone that he ventured to address the House on the present occasion, but in the name of the vast number of persons who had petitioned Parliament on the subject. He appeared there on behalf of a bereaved family who had recently lost their illustrious head, and who, up to the date of the latest advices—which was the 21st of February last—had been left without any support from the Government of India—who had not even been furnished with the means of defraying the expenses of the funeral obsequies of the late Rajah—and who had had no intimation from the Government of India that it was intended to make that provision for them which was absolutely necessary. The late Rajah of Sattara, far from being, as 1392 had been represented, a person of no dignity and importance when the Government of India first entered into communication and alliance with him—far from having been taken from circumstances of poverty and impotency, and raised to a throne by an act of spontaneous generosity—was the lineal descendant from Seevajee, the founder of the Mahratta empire, who was born in 1727; and down to the time that the late Rajah was taken under British protection, the princes, descendants of Seevajee, were universally recognised as the fountain of honour and authority; for although the power and the dynasty had previously been transferred to the Peishwa, it was acknowledged that the Peishwa reigned in the name of Seevajee's descendants. Mr. Prinsep, who, in his work, had fully gone into the history of the Mahratta war, and our whole question with the Rajah of Sattara, stated, that after the battle of Ashta, Mr. Elphinstone had declared it to be the intention of the British Government to restore the family of the Rajah to an independent sovereignty, and to punish the long-continued treachery of Bajee Rao by the perpetual exclusion of his dynasty; and why did Mr. Elphinstone place so much stress on an alliance with the Rajah? Because he knew that if he sought to depose the Peishwa without recognising the claims of the rightful prince, he would not have been able to secure the allegiance of the Jagheerdars. It was not generosity, but prudence, that dictated the propriety of that alliance. In a letter which he had received last August from Colonel Taylor, who had discovered the Rajah on the field of Ashta, and saved him from being cut down by the dragoons under his command, the Colonel said that the victory was the result of the declaration that the Rajah was to be restored to his possessions; and the late Mr. Canning, in moving a vote of thanks to the army in India, said it had fallen to the lot of General Smith to replace the rightful and legitimate sovereign on the throne of his ancestors at Sattara, and that he wished the Rajah's sovereignty might continue. In 1819 a formal treaty of alliance was entered into with the Rajah; and he believed that a wiser, juster, and more beneficent prince had never existed in India. Every person who came from that country bore testimony to his merits; and if the Committee he now asked for were granted to him (Mr. Thompson), he could prove that it was the British Government who first violated the treaty with 1393 the Rajah. It was the conduct of the Bombay Government, and their concealment of the unanimous decision of the Court of Directors, that led to the plot which was subsequently hatched, and ultimately brought the Rajah to ruin. When the treaty was entered into there were within the Rajah's territory persons living upon estates, called Jagheerdars, who had received from the Peishwa, or other princes, instead of money pensions, authority to collect the revenue over a certain district during their lives; and Mr. Elphinstone declared that they should not be disturbed in their possession. In 1832 some dispute arose in consequence of Mr. Warden, a British Judge at Poonah, having undertaken to adjudicate between the Rajah and two Jagheerdars, the Rajah considering that it was an usurpation of his authority. Major General Lodwick, then the Resident at Sattara, wrote to the Government in favour of the Rajah, and in 1834 the Court of Directors sent a despatch to the Bombay Government, conveying their unanimous decision in favour of the Rajah. It reached Bombay in April, 1835; Sir Robert Grant was then Governor, and General Lodwick was anxious to communicate the whole despatch to the Rajah, but was prohibited from communicating more than a part of it, and what part he could not say. It was, in fact, in two parts; the first was complimentary to the Rajah; the latter conveyed the decision of the Directors in his favour; and, judging by what had since passed, he thought it was the latter part which was withheld from the Rajah. The Rajah sought an interview with the Governor, and urged upon him the necessity of obtaining something like a decision in reference to the question of the Jagheers; General Lodwick was present at the interview, and he would appear before the Committee, if it were granted, and would tell them that, although he was in possession of the decision of the Court of Directors, he was not allowed to communicate it to the Rajah. Sir R. Grant suggested that another statement should he made, which he promised to send home. It was made, of date July 3, 1835; but it never was sent home. Another case had occurred to raise the same question. A small Jagheer had lapsed, in reference to which the Rajah made an application to the Government of Bombay on the 24th of June, 1835. Major General Lodwick never received an answer to that application; and it might be mentioned, in 1394 passing, that no papers as to the Rajah's state were to be found at the residency. In May, 1836, when Sir R. Grant went to the Neilgherry hills, the Rajah again visited him. The Rajah asked if his statement had been sent home. Sir R. Grant, in reply, said what was not the truth. He said the statement had gone home. The Rajah repeated his inquiry. Sir R. Grant consulted with the Secretary of Government at Bombay, and then said that a statement had gone home; but he promised that the statement should still go home. The Rajah, when he had retired, declared that he had been deceived, and expressed his intention to appoint an agent for the purpose of applying to the Court of Directors. Sir R. Grant caused inquiry to be made on the subject, and it was intimated to the Rajah that the appointment of an agent would involve a breach of the Treaty of 1819 in two articles. The Rajah acknowledged that he had appointed an agent to go to England. He asked what were the articles contravened? An article was pointed out which prohibited him from corresponding with foreign princes. He declared that he had not corresponded with foreign princes, but was only applying to a superior authority against the decision of an inferior. He was reminded that he was bound by treaty to apply to the Resident; but he was appealing from the Resident to the Governor, and from the Governor to the Court of Directors. It was the appointment of an agent which led to the Rajah's ruin. He delayed sending the agent, a Mahometan gentleman, till after the feast of the Dusserah; but the representations made in the meantime to the Government on his behalf passed unnoticed. In judging of these transactions, it ought to be borne in mind who were the aggressors. The Rajah had been accused of being in traitorous league with the native princes, to subvert the British empire in India by a sudden combination. What was the evidence? That of two native soldiers, who deposed that they had been in the palace of the Rajah, who had acknowledged the fact to them in conversation. Upon this evidence only a secret despatch had been sent home to the Court of Directors, saying that there was no doubt of the guilt of the Rajah. What did Sir R. Grant next do? If the Committee were granted, he would produce a private letter addressed by Sir R. Grant to Major General Lodwick, who had no idea of the secret despatch which had gone home. This let- 1395 ter was called, "the paper of hints," and it instructed General Lodwick to send the two native soldiers to demand an interview with the Rajah, and to tell him that he had denounced him to the Government, and that if the Rajah gave them hush-money, it would he a proof of his guilt; but that if he sent for General Lodwick, and ordered the soldiers under arrest, accusing them of calumniating him, then General Lodwick was to appeal to the Rajah to secure them, but was, however, to take measures for their safety. What was General Lodwick's answer? It was in the blue hook, and it was to the effect, that honour and honesty had been his motto in public as well as in private life, and he spurned such shifts as these. He (Mr. Thompson) would produce before a Committee another private letter in which Sir R. Grant said to General Lodwick that he would not have asked him to pursue the course recommended in the former note, but that in a hasty hour the Rajah had been declared to the Court of Directors in London to be guilty—that the affair had gone too far to be quashed—and that it was necessary to prove the conviction. A Commission was next appointed to sit at Sattara to take evidence against the Rajah, receiving its instructions from Sir R. Grant. In the proceedings of that Committee, all rules of law, all principles of justice, and dictates of morality, were set at defiance. No representative of the Rajah was allowed to be present, and no cross-examination of witnesses took place. The two soldiers agreed as to the words alleged to have been used by the Rajah, but differed as to the place of the interview, and the circumstances attending it; and a third witness contradicted them both as to the place. Yet upon such evidence the Commissioners found the Rajah guilty, unheard, and undefended. Although General Lodwick had, as President, signed the report of the Commission, he had dissented throughout the proceedings from the conduct of his colleagues, and had twice declared in the Court of Proprietors that he should never regret any act of his life more than having allowed himself to be induced by overwhelming entreaties to sign that report. [Sir J. HOBHOUSE: Hear, hear!] Let the right hon. Baronet make what he could out of that. He might convict General Lodwick of infirmity, but he had not cried "hear, hear," when he (Mr. Thompson) had convicted Sir Robert Grant of falsehood. The Com- 1396 mission having closed, and this plot having broken down, a second conspiracy was got up. A Brahmin, a native of Calcutta, forged a petition purporting to be from another of the Ministers of the Rajah, and stating various falsehoods against the Prince and his servants. There was no doubt that that petition reached Sir R. Grant; but if a Committee were granted, it would be shown that it was in his hands a full month before it was produced at Bombay. Sir R. Grant afterwards endeavoured to get rid of Major General Lodwick, and as he refused to accept a sick certificate, which was the pretext offered, he resigned. Colonel Ovans was appointed in his place, and reached Sattara in June, 1837. The petition was at last brought forward, and Colonel Ovans was directed to make his first duty an inquiry into this document, with a view of tracing its origin, and discovering if it were authentic. Colonel Ovans entered upon a very minute and pretendedly careful search, and reported that he had traced it correctly to the mother of the Minister, and that it was genuine. Immediately upon this declaration full powers were granted him, and, without any delay, he threw into prison a great number of the Rajah's servants, and among them those to whom the Rajah was known to be most attached. This was in August; but, in September, after all these professed discoveries, a man walked into the office of Colonel Ovans, gave his name and occupation, and deposed that he, for a certain sum, had written the petition, the party employing him having informed him of its object, viz., to injure the Rajah. This man, though he had been promised large sums of money for what he had done, received none, and came to Colonel Ovans and made a full statement of all he knew. Now, he contended that it was the duty of Colonel Ovans to have sent this document to the Government without a moment's delay. He had received instructions to find out the writer of the petition, and communicate the same to the Government; but instead of that he put the papers in his desk, and kept them there until the Rajah was ruined. Major Oliphant, one of the Directors of the East India Company, had stated, that there was proof that Colonel Ovans was from the 7th of September, 1837, in possession of information disproving the truth of the evidence sent by him on the 30th of July; and he further gave his opinion that if this had been given up at the time it was obtained, the case 1397 against the Rajah would not have been proceeded with. He had brought twelve charges against Colonel Ovans at the India House, and copies of these charges were now on the table of the House. [The hon. Gentleman read the charges, which were generally that Colonel Ovans had been guilty of the suppression of evidence, of systematic interception of the Rajah's correspondence—of the extortion of false documents against the Rajah—of the suppression for eleven months of evidence in favour of the Rajah—and of having been guilty of gross and wilful fraud, &c.] These charges he pledged himself to prove out of Colonel Ovans's own mouth, and from documents derived from authority. Another charge was brought against the Rajah, of having intrigued with the Viceroy of Goa; but in this case he was prepared to prove that the seals on the documents were all fabricated, and that every document was forged. If, however, there was proof that he had intrigued with the Viceroy of Goa, why was no representation made on the subject to the Portuguese Government? The right hon. Baronet said he believed that such an intrigue took place; but if he did believe it it was singular that no complaint had ever been made to the Portuguese Government as to the conduct of their Viceroy. If it was necessary, he could show what the opinion of the Indian Government itself had formerly been as to the guilt of the Rajah. Lord Auckland, it was true, was brought to a belief that the Rajah was guilty, but not while he was at Calcutta, but when he was up the country, whore he had proceeded in order to be nearer the scene of military operations. It was there he received the elaborate minutes of Sir Robert Grant, penned in April and May, 1838. Those minutes, however, were penned in utter ignorance of the facts which had come out with respect to the innocence of the Rajah. He (Mr. G. Thompson) challenged the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Control to say that, up to 1839, there was one man in the India House who believed the charges against the Rajah. On the contrary, when Sir James Carnac went out to Bombay he was desired to bury them in oblivion; and he knew that it was Sir J. Carnac's wish to do so. If the House would grant him a Committee, he would show why Sir. J. Carnac did not carry out the intentions of the Board of Directors. There were parties at Bombay who were determined that, as their 1398 reputations were implicated in the former transactions, no amnesty should be granted. He would prove that a Member of the Council of Bombay threatened Sir J. Carnac, if he persevered, with the disclosure of matters detrimental to his character as a public man. Well, Sir, J. Carnac told the Rajah, after this, that he must either admit his guilt, or be deposed; and he was finally deposed because he would not admit his guilt. He offered no resistance to the Government, and yet even his private property was not respected; and to this hour neither the Rajah himself nor any member of his family had obtained one penny's worth of his private property, which was valued at 300,000l. His private correspondence had been intercepted and published; and yet there was not one letter in which a syllable could be found which would fix a charge of conspiracy upon the Rajah; nor had a single circumstance come to light, since his deposition in 1839, corroborative of the charges made against him; on the other hand, there had been a mass of evidence in his favour. Take another fact. Who were the persons connected with the Government of India who were satisfied of the Rajah's guilt? Did the Directors of the East India Company generally believe in his guilt? They did not. It had been recently admitted at the India House that the whole was a mare's nest. Did the Chairman of the Court of Directors believe it? He did not. It had gone abroad throughout India that the Rajah had been unjustly deposed, and the people of India looked to this country to see whether redress for injustice perpetrated there could be obtained by an appeal to this House. It had been often said that our empire in India was less an empire of the sword than an empire of opinion; but what public opinions were such acts as this likely to foster in India? These were facts which, in his estimation, justified the Motion which he had deemed it to be his duty to bring before the House; and he asked for this inquiry for the sake of the House itself; he asked it for the sake of the public men whose characters were implicated in the transactions which were the subject of the Motion, and for the sake of the late Rajah's family. He asked it in the name of the people of India, who had a right to demand that a case of this kind should undergo an impartial and a full investigation. Let the inquiry be as rigorous and as searching as the House pleased; he 1399 was ready and willing to stand or fall by it; he asked it in the name of British justice, and he hoped he should not make his appeal in vain.
§ MR. J. WILLIAMS
seconded the Motion, observing that, if the Motion were not now granted, it would he only postponed, and would be ultimately forced from the justice of the House.
MR. CORNEWALL LEWIS
said, whatever difficulty he felt in following the able and elaborate speech of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, upon a subject with which that hon. Member had been familiar for many years, and to which the hon. Member had devoted a considerable portion of his life, that difficulty was considerably diminished by the nature of the Motion. When the hon. Member for Montrose had given notice of a Motion on the same subject, it was for an inquiry into the case when the Rajah was living. Such an inquiry was of a practical nature; and, if the late Rajah's advocates could have succeeded in convincing a Committee, and, through the Committee, that House, of his innocence, it might have led to his restoration to the rank and position he had previously enjoyed. Since the hon. Member for Montrose had given notice of that Motion, intelligence had been received of the death of the Rajah; and the Motion of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets was of a very shadowy and intangible character. The inquiry the hon. Member wished the House to undertake had lost its chief importance. There was another reason why he felt less difficulty in resisting this Motion. If ever there was a case to which the principle of res judicata was applicable, it was the present question. The Rajah was deposed by the Bombay Government, their act being confirmed by the Government of India, in 1839. From 1840 up to the present time, the subject of the Rajah of Sattara had been agitated successively by petitions to the East India Company, by Motions in successive Courts of Directors, and in Courts of Proprietors, and by Motions in this House; and every time the question had been mooted, the result was the same. Successive Boards of Control, and successive Courts of Directors and Courts of Proprietors, had come to the same conclusion; and whenever the subject was discussed in this House, the House had refused to interfere. As, however, the hon. Member had gone at great length into the question, and had made imputations upon the Indian Government, which 1400 were unfounded in fact, and unjust both to the living and the dead, he trusted the House would give him its attention while he went into a vindication of the conduct of the Indian Government in respect to the Rajah of Sattara. It was a remarkable fact that the three persons who were principally concerned in these transactions were all dead. First, Sir Robert Grant, the Governor of Bombay, under whom the inquiry was originally instituted; secondly, Sir James Carnac, the Governor, by whose means the Rajah was removed from his sovereignty; and, lastly, the Rajah himself. The hon. Member began by giving a very copious account of the foundation and history of the Mahratta empire, whence sprung the State of Sattara. It was perfectly well known that Sattara was only a portion of the Mahratta empire, and that the Peishwa and not the Rajah was the head of that State and empire. The Rajah was, in fact, a mere State prisoner, with an allowance of half a lac of rupees, or 5,000l. a year; and when the Peishwa surrendered to Sir J. Malcolm, the Rajah was released by the English troops, and by a mere accident his life was saved. There was nothing whatever to show that the Rajah possessed any substantial power. In 1818, Mr. Mountstuart Elphinstone thought it would he politic to assign, as a mere bounty, and as a voluntary act on the part of the British Government, a small sovereignty to the Rajah of Sattara. There prevailed, however, a difference of opinion, at the time, on the subject; but it was eventually agreed that the Rajah should be placed on trial and be invested with a provisional sovereignty at Sattara. He was accordingly put in possession of the State, but in entire subordination to the British Government; and it was stipulated that all his political relations were to be subservient to British authority. It was agreed that the British Government should cede the sovereignty to the Rajah of Sattara, which implied that the territory so ceded then belonged to the British Government. The Rajah was to hold it in subordination to the British power, and to be guided in all matters by the advice of the British Agent resident at his Highness's Court. The Rajah also engaged for himself and his successors to forbear from all intercourse with foreign Powers. The Marquess of Hastings was the Governor General who made the arrangement with respect to Sattara; and in a paper written 1401 by him during his voyage home from India, his Lordship gave a summary of the transaction, in which it was stated, that to the Rajah of Sattara an independent territory had been assigned out of the late Peishwa's possessions; that he had a large revenue, competent to the maintenance of considerable pomp; and that this was an extraordinary change in the position of one who used to be kept in such strict custody by Bajee Rao, that orders were given to the Rajah's guard to put him and his family to death on any probability of his being delivered from captivity—orders which were only prevented from being carried into execution by a sudden attack made by the British troops, who rescued the Rajah from the Peishwa, Bajee Rao. For many years after he had been installed in the office of Sovereign, he administered the affairs of his Government in such a manner as to give entire satisfaction to the British authorities, and no doubt whatever was entertained of his loyalty. There is reason, however, to think that the Rajah of Sattara, like all Oriental princes, living in an atmosphere of flattery, permitted those who surrounded him to raise in his mind an idea that he was the legitimate successor, as he was the lineal descendant, of the founder of the Mahratta monarchy, and that he might be able eventually to establish an independent Power in India. The first instance of his discontent manifesting itself was on the occasion of his authority with regard to some Jagheerdars being disputed. The whole subject appeared to have been quite an after-thought, and there were the best grounds for concluding that the quarrel did not in any respect influence the proceedings against him, though his advocates might at present find it convenient to put forward such a supposition. Those Jagheerdars held territories which were situated partly within the dominions of the British Crown, and partly within those of the Rajah. He claimed to be the paramount lord, not only over those portions which lay within his own boundaries, but over those also which were contained within the possessions of the British Crown. The question in dispute was referred to the Governor at Bombay, and that Governor—Lord Clare (not Sir R. Grant), being then the Governor—gave an opinion unfavourable to the claim of the Rajah; and the matter being further referred to the Court of Directors, the decision of the Governor of Bombay was by them confirmed. 1402 He should now come to a part of the hon. Member's speech which he listened to with sincere pain; he alluded to the serious imputations sought to be cast upon the character of a gentleman no longer alive, who certainly was one of the most honourable and truth-loving persons that ever existed. He was only slightly acquainted with Sir Robert Grant; but he believed that every one who knew him would repudiate with indignation the charge that Sir Robert Grant had lent himself to a base intrigue, for the purpose of subverting the government of the Rajah, and that the means he adopted for that purpose amounted to nothing less than subornation of perjury. It was impossible to conceive that a man like Sir Robert Grant should have given himself up to a motiveless persecution of a potty Indian prince, to be carried on by means which would have disgraced a common swindler. He was sure the House paid no attention to a charge brought against the character of one so spotless and unimpeachable as was Sir Robert Grant. The hon. Gentleman professed to be in possession of certain documents which showed that his accusations were well founded. [Mr. G. THOMPSON would prove his statement by reference to blue books on the table of the House.] He understood the hon. Member to refer to private and confidential letters. Now, he would show from a Minute drawn up by Sir Robert Grant himself, that though there had been some unintentional delay or mistake with respect to one letter of reference to the Court of Directors from the Government of Bombay, yet that another was extant in which the reference had been perfectly clear and unequivocal. A short time after the period to which he was then referring, Colonel Lodwick reported that the Rajah of Sattara had attempted to tamper with certain Sepoy soldiers; and, in consequence of that report, a Commission was issued by the Bombay Government to investigate the matter. After giving the Rajah every opportunity of hearing the evidence adduced, the Commission came to the unanimous conclusion that the Rajah had tampered with some of the native officers of a regiment stationed at Sattara. If that conclusion were correct, the Rajah had engaged in a design clearly inconsistent with his situation as a subordinate prince, holding his sovereignty by a grant from the British Government. The hon. Member said, that Colonel Lodwick merely signed this report 1403 in his official character as President of the Commission, and that he had since repudiated concurrence in it. No doubt it might be that, after Colonel Lodwick's removal from his Residency, and after the expression of a want of confidence in him on the part of the Bombay Government, that officer might have signified his disapproval of the conclusion to which the Commission had come; but it was impossible to conceive a more dangerous doctrine than that a person, after concurring in a solemn manner in a report, by signing it, and allowing his signature to be taken without protest, should be permitted, several years after, to come forward and disavow the report. The Commission conducted its proceedings with perfect impartiality; and a full opportunity was afforded to the Rajah to produce any evidence he might wish to tender. After the Commission had reported, Sir R. Grant made an elaborate examination of the Minutes, and considered the course to be pursued. The hon. Member said, that Sir R. Grant was actuated by vindictive motives—that the Rajah's boldness in his complaints about his Jagheers had given offence to Sir R. Grant—and that the latter was determined to sacrifice him out of revenge for those complaints. This statement was inconsistent with the information in the papers before the House; for it appeared that, though forfeiture was a punishment that might have been adopted against the Rajah, Sir R. Grant recommended a punishment short of that—namely, the mere confiscation of one of his Jagheers. Subsequently, Colonel Ovans was sent out in the place of General Lodwick, and he investigated two charges against the Rajah of Sattara: one of them relating to a correspondence with the ex-Rajah of Nagpore; and another relating to an intrigue with the Governor and certain authorities of Goa. He was firmly of opinion that this ill-informed Oriental prince had been weak and inflated enough to suppose that, by the aid of military assistance from Portugal, he could succeed in re-establishing himself at the head of the Mahrattas, and had been duped into violating his solemn obligations with this country by engaging in such a vain and absurd enterprise. The ease of Mr. Hutt, referred to by the hon. Member (Mr. Thompson), had been formerly met by an explicit and positive denial (to be found in the papers) from Mr. Hutt himself. The hon. Member had laid great stress on the asserted want of genuine- 1404 ness as to the writer of a petition which formed part of the papers; but the only material question was, whether the circumstances stated in the petition were true. The hon. Member had made most serious charges against Colonel Ovans, principally founded on the petition to which he had referred. The hon. Gentleman had made charges against Colonel Ovans of official delinquency and dishonesty, which, if they could be supported, would render him not only unfit to hold office under the East India Company, but even to be received in the society of gentlemen. These charges, which had previously been made by the hon. Member (Mr. G. Thompson) in his speeches out of doors, had been brought under the notice of the Board of Control by Colonel Ovans; and the statements made by that officer in refutation of those accusations, with the evidence by which they were supported, were now in his hands. These documents were so voluminous that he could not attempt, on this occasion, to call the attention of the House to them; but he might state, that Colonel Ovans denied, in the most positive manner, the justice or accuracy of any one of the charges made against him; and he trusted that the House would at present suspend its judgment on the matter, and not vote for a Committee on the strength of mere unsupported allegations. He would, on the earliest opportunity, move that these papers should he printed, in order that hon. Members might be able to judge how far the charges made against Colonel Ovans were well founded. The hon. Member had animadverted upon the East India Company's not having expressed any opinion upon these charges which had so frequently been made; but the Directors had given their opinion. On the 30th of September last, Colonel Ovans addressed a letter to the Court of Directors, referring to observations which had been made by the hon. Member, in the Court of Proprietors, reflecting on his conduct, and soliciting the Court either to adopt legal measures against Mr. Thompson, or to grant him permission to prosecute that gentleman. The Directors, in their reply, which was dated the 25th of October, expressed in strong terms their opinion that not the slightest stain attached to the public or private character of Colonel Ovans; but they declined to be parties to the prosecution of Mr. Thompson. To return to the history of the ex-Rajah: Sir Robert Grant died in September, 1838, and Sir J. 1405 Carnac went out as Governor of Bombay in 1839. Lord Auckland had referred the case to the Court of Directors, and Sir J. Carnac haying been a member of the Court was in possession of their views. Contrary to the opinions of the Supreme Council he determined to adopt a lenient course, and allow the Rajah to continue on the throne, provided he would sign a supplementary treaty binding himself to a strict observance of those articles which the British Government considered he had violated. But the Rajah refused to accede to the treaty. The reason now assigned by his advocates is, that the preamble contained an admission of his guilt. But this is not the fact: it merely contained a statement that the English Government believed him to have done acts contrary to the treaty; and Sir J. Carnac has stated, that if objection had been taken to the preamble, he would have cancelled it. After the Rajah had refused to give the assurances required of him, Sir J. Carnac came to the conclusion that he could not do otherwise than adopt the resolution of the Council of Calcutta, and depose the Rajah. That resolution was carried into effect with as much regard for the feelings of the Rajah as could possibly be exhibited. We might have annexed the whole of the Rajah's territories to the British dominions; but in order to place our motives above suspicion, we contented ourselves with setting the Rajah's brother on the throne. The question which the House had to decide on this occasion was not a question of evidence on the credibility of Indian witnesses, and transactions which occurred nine years ago, at a distance of many thousand miles; but simply whether at the time the British Government had not reasonable ground for doubting the loyalty and good faith of the Rajah of Sattara. If they had, after the investigation, ground for doubting the fidelity of their ally, they were, according to all the maxims of international law, justified in taking steps to secure their relations with the Sattara State. If the House agreed with him in this view of the transactions in which Sir James Carnac was a principal actor, they would be of opinion that there was no necessity for the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry. There was nothing in the conduct of Sir R. Grant, Sir J. Carnac, or any other of the distinguished persons referred to, which required to be investigated by a Commit- 1406 tee of the House of Commons; and even if the Committee were granted, he did not see in what manner the inquiry could be conducted, or how the vast tangle of evidence could be unravelled by a Committee of Englishmen, ignorant of the Indian language, incapable of examining Indian witnesses, and unable to tell the difference between a forged and a genuine seal. If they gave any opinion, it must be one derived altogether from the knowledge of other persons. The inquiry would necessarily, therefore, be a fruitless one, and could lead to no satisfactory result. The only point of a practical character noticed by the hon. Member, was one of a very subordinate and minor kind, which could easily be disposed of in a very few words. The hon. Member had spoken of the destitute condition of the Rajah's family, and had attempted to excite the sympathy of the House by describing them as loft without any means of support. Now, it was quite true that the bulk of the provision settled on the late Rajah ended with his life; but there was also a considerable settlement made upon his two wives, one of whom still survives, and is entitled to a pension of nearly 1,000l. a year, while his daughter has a pension of 600l, a year. It was entirely a mistake, then, to state that the late Rajah's family were in a state approaching to destitution. For these reasons he begged to meet the Motion of the hon. Member with a direct negative.
§ SIR J. W. HOGG
said, he was glad that the adjournment had been moved; but he hoped that in the meantime he might be permitted to remind the House that the disgraceful charges which the bon. Member (Mr. Thompson) had brought against Colonel Ovans were bare charges and no more. He begged the House to bear in mind also, that the charges were not new—that they had been preferred over and over again in another place, and repudiated by all the authorities at homo and abroad. The hon. Member (Mr. C. Lewis) had asked hon. Members to suspend their judgment. He (Sir J. W. Hogg) begged them not to suspend their judgment. He begged them to believe that a British officer, who had been declared innocent by competent authorities, both civil and military, at home and abroad, was unimpeached in his honour and character, until at least his guilt was demonstrated, and until 1407 something more was done than a Member of Parliament getting up in his place, and, without offering a tittle of evidence, reading a list of twelve of the most atrocious charges ever brought forward against a British officer. The hon. Gentleman, it was true, had offered to bring forward proof of every one of the charges, and had said that he would stake everything upon the result. When he heard the hon. Member say that, he felt almost tempted to say, "Give the Committee." But no, he would not so far gratify the impulse of his mind, because he did not see that the Committee could be granted without a primâ facie case of guilt having been made out. Now, he denied that any primâ facie case had been made out. Where was its foundation? The hon. Member had brought forward no evidence whatever. It might be that he had forborne to do so until the Committee was granted; but, at all events, the evidence had yet to come. Having filled the situation—filled the chair of the India House when the conduct of Colonel Ovans was investigated, and knowing how he had been hunted down, he considered that he ought not to allow it to go forth to the public that these charges had been preferred for the first time. He assured the House that they had been brought forward three years ago, and had been repudiated again and again. [Mr. THOMPSON: But never answered.] At all events they had been repudiated by all the authorities at home and abroad.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
begged to call the attention of the House to the question before it, which was that the debate be adjourned; and in doing so he begged to say, that if there was one Member who had more reason to fear the appointment of the Committee than another, it was the hon. Baronet who had just spoken; for if the Committee was granted, they would have to inquire not merely into the conduct of the accessories after the fact, but the principal offenders; and of these offenders the hon. Baronet was one of the most important.
§ MR. THOMPSON
begged to take advantage of the question of adjournment to state, that in the course of the speech he had that night delivered, he thought he had substantiated one, at least, of the many charges which he had brought against Colonel Ovans in another place. The evidence he had adduced upon that charge was a specimen of the evidence he could bring forward upon every other charge. If 1408 the Committee he now asked for was granted, he pledged himself (life and health permitting) to substantiate every one of the charges from the letters of Colonel Ovans and other documents contained in the blue books before the House; or, if not, he would submit to the censure which the House was bound to inflict upon every Member who brought forward allegations for which there was no tangible foundation.
§ Debate adjourned.