HL Deb 01 April 1851 vol 115 cc843-82

said: My Lords, in rising to submit to your Lordships the Motion of which I have given notice, I claim the kind consideration and indulgence of your Lordships. I am conscious that I have undertaken an arduous task. I have to place before your Lordships, in a few brief moments, a faithful and clear narration of the events which took place during the years in which I had the honour of administering the Government of Ceylon, and which have occupied two years of inquiry in the other House of Parliament. But I will endeavour to compress the facts into the briefest possible limits; and, if I should weary your Lordships, I must ask for your kind indulgence, because it will be impossible to avoid reading some few papers in proof of my statements. I am likewise conscious, and it is a matter of deep regret to me, that the public feeling of this country has been very much excited against me, and that circumstance renders it more essen- tial that I should be careful and guarded in every word that I utter. I shall endeavour to avoid stating anything which is not strictly correct, and which cannot be proved by the papers for which I am about to move; and to make so clear a statement to your Lordships as will satisfy you that, in difficult and arduous times, I endeavoured honestly and conscientiously to fulfil my duty. I shall prove to your Lordships that in every civil act which I performed in the administration of the Government of Ceylon I acted with the advice, assistance, and concurrence of my Executive and Legislative Councils. I shall, moreover, be able to prove, with reference to military affairs, that I consulted the officers most competent to give me advice, and that I had their cordial concurrence. I shall go still further, and prove that I received the approbation of all classes in the colony. I shall be able to show that not only the civil and military officers, but the planters, merchants, and tradesmen, and even those who have been summoned by the Committee of the other House of Parliament to give evidence against me, have, at various times during the transactions which have been the subject of inquiry, concurred in my policy. I think I can show that every act of my Government was strictly constitutional. And if I can prove all this, as I think I can prove it, your Lordships will feel that an interpretation has been put upon my conduct which is not justified by the real and true state of the facts.

Mr. Baillie, in another place, having given notice of a Motion highly censurable on myself, on the civil and military officers who acted with me, and on my noble Friend behind me (Earl Grey), and having then withdrawn that Motion, I felt that, in justice to myself, the time had arrived when I should come before your Lordships, and state the facts as they really occurred. I have long submitted in patience and silence to much that has been said against me. I felt that, whilst the matter was under the consideration of the other House of Parliament, it was my duty to abstain from saying a word. But when the Motion of Mr. Baillie was withdrawn, though with the intention of bringing it forward again at a future time, I felt that I ought to lose no time in laying before your Lordships my simple statement of the actual facts. Mr. Baillie's Motion noticed no matter in relation to finance; but your Lordships will bear with me whilst I relate as briefly as possible the financial arrangements which I made and carried out for the government of Ceylon, and prove that these acts had nothing to do with the rebellion which afterwards broke out; but, on the contrary, that they were highly beneficial to the colony, and received general approval. With regard to some of the imputations which have been made, I might complain that my confidence has been violated, and my private letters made use of; but I assure your Lordships that no one word offensive to any single individual shall fall from my mouth. I am content to believe that all who have acted against me, or taken part in the imputations upon me, have been actuated only by what they believed conscientiously to be their public duty, and a desire for the public interests and honour of the country.

In the remarks I am about to make, I shall divide the subject into three distinct heads: first, the financial arrangements which I adopted; second, the rebellion in 1848, its causes, and its suppression; and, third, the personal allegations which have been made against me.

It is my duty, on the first branch, to state the condition in which I found the colony, the legislation I thought necessary to develop its resources, the effect of that legislation, and the condition of the colony when I left it.

Her Majesty appointed me to the office of Governor of Ceylon in February, 1847. The noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies placed in my hands a report of Sir Emerson Tennent on the general condition of the colony, together with a report on that report, signed by Mr. Hawes, Mr. Bird, Mr. Tufnell, and Mr. Lefevre; and at the same time I received instructions from the noble Lord, pointing out the desirability of endeavouring to correct the idle habits of the inhabitants, and to induce them to adopt habits of industry and labour, as well with the view of improving their moral condition, as of providing labour for the coffee and cinnamon planters, who were dependent for the cultivation of their estates on the Coolies imported from the coast of India.

I arrived in Ceylon on the 28th May, 1847. I am particular in stating this, to show how speedily I took the necessary steps to follow out my instructions. It had been stated that there was a large surplus in the exchequer, as appeared by the books of the colony; but, on my arrival at Ceylon, I found that this surplus was altogether imaginary—that there was a considerable excess of expenditure over income—that commerce was in a most unsatisfactory state—that the pearl fisheries had nearly ceased—that the cinnamon gardens were becoming wildernesses—and that unless some remedial measures were instantly adopted, Ceylon would soon be in a ruinous condition. By my desire, the Auditor General made a report on the 3rd of June, 1847, from which the following is an extract;— The year 1846 presents a lamentable falling-off, there having been in that year an excess of expenditure over revenue amounting to 81,801l. 13s.d., which, though lessoned by advances, recovered drafts in transit, &c, by the sum of 6,934l. 6s. 11½d. still leaves a net deficit on the year of 74,857l. 6s.d. Deducting this amount from the balance of 129,460l. 3s.d. in hand on the 1st of January, 1846, it will consequently appear that on the 1st of January, 1847, the balance actually on hand was reduced to the sum of 54,592l. 17s.d. Such being the financial and commercial condition of the island at the time of my arrival, with a deficient revenue, and an increasing expenditure, I felt it to be my duty almost immediately upon my assuming the duties of my office, as your Lordships will see by the date, to direct the following circular to be forwarded to the heads of the different departments:— Colonial Secretary's Office, Colombo, June 3, 1847. Sir—I am directed to convey to you his Excellency's instructions, that you will immediately make every arrangement to reduce to the narrowest limit the expenditure of the votes and balances at your disposal, the available amount of treasure being so far reduced as to engender the necessity for the most prompt and vigilant economy. His Excellency has no reason to apprehend any permanent embarrassment in this particular; but the recent decline in the revenue of the colony, from intelligible and temporary causes, has rendered it impossible for the present to sustain the expenditure on the liberal scale of late years. His Lordship trusts to your discretion to extend this principle of reduction, without loss of time, to those heads of expenditure in which its application will create the least inconvenience; and, in every instance where it is practicable, without actual loss or injury to the public service, you will suspend or postpone an outlay for any purpose not urgently required."—I am, &c. W. D. RYDER. To the Heads of Departments. I think your Lordships will agree with me, that, things being in such a state, the most desirable course was to effect retrenchment where it could be done consistently with the interests of the public service. But I did not stop here. I immediately laid before my Executive Coun- cil all the papers intrusted to me, and after long and careful consideration, and with no undue haste, measures of relief were proposed to the Legislative Council. Three important Bills upon subjects essential to the prosperity of the island, the development of its trade, and the more equal distribution of its taxation, were passed by that body without opposition, namely, the Custom-house Act, the Stamp Act, and the Road Act. The report to which I have adverted had recommended the imposition of a land tax; but years must have elapsed before the necessary surveys could have been completed.

With regard to the Customs Act, I will read to the House from the evidence before the Commons' Committee, and from authentic documents, the nature of that Act, and the effects of the changes made by it:— The export duties were abolished, except the duty upon cinnamon, which was reduced by two-thirds, namely, from 1s. to 4d. the pound. The import duties were equalised, differential duties being abolished. Generally, the taxes reduced arc to be estimated at 42,163l. As to the export duties which were abolished, the relief given to certain classes is estimated as follows:— To the cinnamon growers about 15,000l. per annum, estimated upon the crop of 1847. To the coffee growers about 12,000l. per annum. To the tobacco growers of the northern districts, the cocoa-nut planters and native cultivators, about 3,000l. per annum. These judicious removals of duties pressing upon production, and the general revival of trade and credit since the mercantile depression of 1847 and 1848, were concurrent with that improvement in the trade of the island, which is shown in the following table." [See Table at foot of next column.] These facts, I think, show that my commercial policy was successful.

The Stamp Act was passed in consequence of the increasing wants of the trading community, and proved a sound measure in practice, though it did not realise the expectations entertained of it as a measure of finance.

The Road Act was entirely successful in its results. Owing to the deficiency of communication in the colony, the produce could not be brought from the interior to the water's edge for embarkation, except at a great cost. The Government, having laid out a large sum of money in making roads, thought it only fair that the people should contribute a small portion to the improvement of the country; and it was decided, with the unanimous concurrence of both Councils, that every male inhabitant of the colony between the ages of sixteen and sixty should contribute six days' labour to the improvement of the roads, commutable at a fixed price not exceeding 3s. for the six days. But not only was this measure important, as tending to the improvement of the means of communication within the colony; it admitted the mass of the people to the privilege of electing their own division officers, and formed the germ of municipal institutions. Attempts have been made to represent that this law was distasteful to the colonists, and that it created disaffection amongst the population. But this was not the case. So satisfied were they of its utility, and of the benefits which would result from it, that I have known many, in their eagerness to obtain roads, work double and treble the time required by the Act; and it is a fact, that, by its operation, about six hundred miles of new roads were opened in the year 1850.

Amongst the other financial measures of my Government were the gun tax, the

Exports. 1846. 1847. 1848. 1849. Increase in first quarter of 1850 beyond that of 1849.
Coffee 328,791.l 387,150l. 456,624l. 534,454l. 122,797l.
Cinnamon40,165l. 49,167l. 44,736l. 73,387l. 4,081l.
Ditto 491,687 lbs. 447,369 lbs. 733,781 lbs.
Cocoa nut oil 285,367 gls. 192,723 gls. 401,672 gls. 8,693 gls.
Salt.—The sale increased in 1849 4,580l. beyond 1848.
Tolls increased in 1849, 2,348l. beyond 1848.
shop tax, and the clog tax; and these measures have been said to have excited the rebellion of 1848.

The gun tax had been thought a prudent and a precautionary tax by many persons well acquainted with the colony long before I arrived there, and had been recommended by previous Governors. The number of guns which had been imported a short time previously to my appointment, was enormous. Upon this point I will quote a letter of Col. Fraser, the Deputy Quartermaster General, which is in these words:— As connected with this question, may further mention, that the fire-arms taken from the Kandyans at the end of the Rebellion of 1818, did not exceed 10,000 stand, at the utmost, and at least two-thirds of those (including a large proportion of old match-locks) were in a most unserviceable state; whereas, in 1848, they (the Kandyans) had probably not less than 60,000 stand in their possession, many of them good muskets, or English fowling-pieces. (Signed) J. FRASER, Deputy Quartermaster General. Colombo, Dee. 12, 1849. (Answer to Question 2723, 1850.) The Government thought it wise and prudent that some legislation should take place, in. order to ascertain by registration the number of fire-arms in the country; and it was also felt that if the natives could afford to have guns and give large sums for them, they could not complain of paying a small tax. A great outcry has been made against this precautionary measure as having been the cause of uneasiness and discontent. It has been said that the natives had to travel long distances for their licences, and were detained a long time before they could obtain them. But the reply is simple. No man was obliged to go himself to the chief town for a licence. He might have sent for it. One man might have taken the whole of the guns of a village. Licences were moreover granted in all the cutcherries in the country, far away from towns; and the Government agents, in travelling through the country, could, and did, grant licences.

The tax on shops was also a tax designed for the promotion of municipal institutions. It was thought that by raising in a large town a revenue of 300l. or 400l. a year, the residents might be permitted to manage their own lighting and general rating, and that the useful knowledge of local self-government might thus be imparted to the people.

Upon the dog tax a great deal of ridicule has been thrown, and it has been said that the Government, finding the revenue falling, resorted to the extraordinary expedient of taxing dogs to recruit the finances. Now the measure was not one of revenue—but of police. The increase of dogs in an eastern city is beyond belief; the reason for this in Ceylon is, that the inhabitants are Buddhists, and it is contrary to the religion of the Buddhists to take away animal life. So great was the increase of dogs in the towns, that, at certain seasons, an order for their destruction was regularly issued, and sixpence was offered for the head of each dog destroyed. In consequence, the most brutal scenes took place, and it was thought that these might be prevented by placing a small tax on dogs. A matter of necessary police regulation has been construed into a charge of offensive conduct towards the colonists.

These and other useful measures were passed unanimously by my Executive and Legislative Councils; and I must hero repeat the general observation, that all my acts had the entire concurrence and approval of these bodies.

In reference to the results of my commercial measures, I shall quote two of my despatches to the Secretary of State. In that dated October 11, 184.8, is contained as follows:— It will be satisfactory to your Lordship to find that, by the exercise of rigid economy in every department, there has been a decrease in the actual expenditure for the half year, as compared with the estimated, of not less than 20,435l.; that the diminished expenditure has been most striking under the head of establishments, and that the economical arrangements which have also been adopted under other heads, have been of so successful a nature, that I have beers enabled to devote to the expenditure on roads and public works, the repair and improvement of which were extremely urgent, nearly 10,000l. more than was anticipated. …Upon the whole it is satisfactory to find that, even deducting the arrears, the total revenue of the first half-year of 1848, compared with the corresponding period of 1847, exhibits only a decrease of 3,574l., while the decrease in the comparative expenditure for the same periods was more than six times that amount. I think that shows that I did my best to reduce the expenditure. On the 15th Dec., 1848, I wrote to the noble Lord in these words:— With my despatch No. 180, of the 11th October, I transmitted to your Lordship several interesting financial tables, showing an excess in the revenue of the island over its expenditure during the first six months of the present year of 14,504l., arising entirely from the large diminution of expenditure within that period as compared, not only with the corresponding period of the preceding year, but also with the estimated expenditure of the current year. The decrease in the amount of revenue collected during the same period, amounted to 3,574l. compared with 1847. The disturbances in the interior, and the extraordinary military charges entailed upon the colony since the close of the first half of the current year, have naturally placed the Government in a less favourable financial position than must otherwise have been the case. Before the end of the year the excess of income over expenditure amounted to a sum of 14,594l,. and that too in the face of the fact that upon my arrival the expenditure was in excess of revenue.

The following Address of the acting Governor, shortly after I left the island in 1850, proves the highly satisfactory state of the finances at the end of my government:— I cannot conclude the observations which I have thought it incumbent on me to make, without congratulating you, gentlemen, on the remarkable, and, of late years, quite unprecedented state of financial prosperity and promise of which the papers that I now lay on the table afford such satisfactory proof. The comparative statement of the revenue and expenditure for the half of the present year, shows a surplus revenue of 10,663l. 18s.d. And to judge from the large sums received into the public treasury since that date, accompanied by the unceasing care which has been taken to diminish the expenditure whenever an opportunity has been offered, by the fusion into one of different departments of the public service, and a rigid control over the outlay of the public money, it may, I think, be justly and reasonably anticipated that this surplus will be increased by the end of the financial year. You will also perceive, from the papers now laid on your table, that this surplus is no forced or fictitious one, produced by the postponement of charges which would sooner or later have to be paid. I have to point to you the pleasing fact, that within the last few months the whole of the outstanding debts to the presidencies and agents in India have been paid off by the Government. The debt of 50,000l. to the Oriental Bank, contracted in the embarrassment of 1848, has been paid off, principal and interest, with the exception of about 11,000l. a sum of 10,000l. having been paid within the last few days. Large remittances have been made to the agent general in London, who, contrary to the precedent of late years, in which he has frequently been in advance for payments on account of the Ceylon Government, will have a considerable balance in hand on the 1st of January next. And with all these payments, and this almost total extinction of the debts due by this Government, the accounts of assets and liabilities which I have had made up to the 1st of October last, shows a balance in favour of the colony at the latter date of no less than 62,589l. 5s.d., as compared with a balance of 36,532l. 13s.d. on the 1st of January last, being an increase of 26,056l. 11s.d.—(Parliamentary Papers, presented 4th February, 1851, p. 37.) I do not like to weary your Lordships by going at any length into a mere statement of figures; having shown that I left a surplus revenue of above 10,000l. on the half year, or 20,000l. a year, I will only add that the result of the policy pursued has been to reduce the expenditure by 53,000l. in 1847, by 15,000l. in 1848, and by 11,000l. in 1849; the expenditure in 1849 being less than that in 1846 by 78,000l. In the first nine months of 1850, as compared with the same period in 1849, a further reduction of 16,408l. was effected, exclusive of the road department. The exports have increased to an enormous amount; the imports of British goods and of every other article have likewise increased, and industrious habits have sprung up among the people. These results fully establish the wisdom of my financial measures.

I come now to that important portion of the subject which is the groundwork of the charges made against me, namely, my discharge of the difficult and onerous task of suppressing the rebellion of 1848—a rebellion which as I then felt, and now feel even more strongly, would have spread ruin and disaster throughout the colony, if prompt and efficient steps had not been taken to put it down. It has been stated that it was no rebellion, but merely a slight disturbance—a village brawl. I am able to show, that the evidence which left such an impression on the public mind is contrary to the truth. I will remind your Lordships that it is a very different thing to deal with an eastern population, and to deal with a civilised European race. How little they may be trusted, we may infer from the terrible murder of 200 English soldiers under Major Davy, by the natives in the Kandyan provinces in 1818, immediately after a treaty deliberately made. The difficulties of that year were brought about by treating the rebellion too lightly at the outset. Remembering, then, the character of the rebellion in 1818, and having taken the advice of all who were competent to give it, and with the reports now before me, I can say confidently now, as I felt then, and as it was the opinion of everybody in Ceylon at the time, that the rebellion which broke out in 1848 was a most serious and most dangerous one, and one which, but for the prompt and efficient steps taken to suppress it, would have spread ruin and calamity and destruction throughout the colony, and that European capital, to the extent of two or three millions, would have been sacrificed.

Before, however, I state the circumstances attending the rebellion of 1848, I think it will be convenient to the House if I take a retrospective view of our position in the Kandyan country, to afford a clearer insight into the circumstances which brought about that rebellion. Your Lordships are aware that, in 1795, we took possession from the Dutch of the maritime provinces of the island only, and that several kingdoms were still ruled by their own chiefs under a native king. Afterwards, in 1815, by treaty between the chiefs of the Kandyan country and Sir Robert Brownrigg, the government of the whole country was ceded to us. By this treaty, we undertook all the duties of the King of Kandy. Lord Bathurst, in his despatch containing the approval of the Prince Regent, adverts to the difficulties which might arise in carrying into effect this part of the treaty. I think that Sir R. Brownrigg acted too hastily in making that treaty, and that had he waited some time longer, we might have had the country on different and more advantageous terms. The treaty was understood in different senses by the two parties. The chiefs thought they would still continue to govern the country, to oppress the people, and to gather the revenues of Kandy as before, and that we were simply to have the regality of the territory. We, on the other hand, when we undertook all the duties appertaining to the King of the Kandyans, never intended that the chiefs should govern the country at all; hut on the contrary, we considered it essential to appoint our own administrators. I believe that this misunderstanding was the original cause of the rebellion in 1818, as well as of all the disturbances which have broken out since. It took two years and the sacrifice of 10,000 men to suppress the rebellion of 1818, and martial law was in operation for more than a year. There was another rebellion in 1823, and serious difficulties arose at that time; there were conspiracies in 1834 and 1843.

Among the duties of the King of Kandy was that of appointing priests to the Buddhist temples. The Colonial Office, long before my noble Friend became Secretary of State for the Colonies, had directed the Government not to make these appointments. It was part of my duty to continue this policy. The Government had therefore, for many years, refused to appoint priests to the temples, or to give any warrant for the collection of the dues to be paid to the temples, and as the only way of getting in these dues was by the warrant of the Governor, and as no warrant was given, the tenants withheld their dues, the temples fell into disrepair and ruin, and this led to great dissatisfaction among the priests and chiefs; when, in fine, we handed over to them the charge of Buddhu's Tooth—a relic which was deemed by them to be of great value, and concerning which they believed that whoever possessed it would hold and govern the country—they were enabled to work upon the superstition of the people, and to induce them to believe that the time had come for throwing off the British rule. I; make these statements on the authority of the papers which I now move shall be laid before your Lordships.

The Kandyans have ever, in fact, been dissatisfied with our rule. They have seen their power, their position, their religion declining. They have ever looked for an opportunity of freeing themselves.

It is moreover to be noticed that the improvements which have been going on in the country, have not been without an injurious effect upon their native habits. They had been accustomed to live isolated and retired from Europeans; but their haunts were now constantly being encroached on. The jungles through which buffaloes were accustomed to roam unmolested, are now brought under cultivation; a great number of coolies have been introduced to cultivate the lands which the natives once considered as their own, and great jealousy has consequently arisen among them. These and other causes of jealousy had caused a great deal of discontent and dissatisfaction; and I can assure your Lordships, that during the disturbances which occurred in Europe at the beginning of the year 1848, means were taken by certain parties to sow among the natives the seeds of discontent and dissatisfaction. I am not prepared to say that these parties intended to proceed the whole length of rebellion; but political agitation was introduced into the island, which the people were not accustomed to, and reports were circulated among the natives, that if they went down to the coast they would see a large French force assembled there. The effect of these reports upon the people was very prejudicial. The soothsayers, also, were busy among them, prophesying that on a certain place and day they would be free, and have the independence of their country secured to them.

Before I proceed further, I may state to your Lordships that various parties were examined, as to the causes of the rebellion, before the Committee of the House of Commons, and every one of them, on the question being put to them, whether the taxation which I had imposed had anything to do with the rebellion, declared that the taxation had nothing whatever to do with it. Mr. Selby, the Queen's Advocate, was examined upon this point by Mr. Hume. Mr. Selby was a witness summoned to give evidence by Mr. Hume and Mr. Baillie:— Q. 1288,1850. Mr. Hume—Have you formed any opinion of what the causes were which led to those disturhances?—I have. Q. 1289. Will you state them shortly to the Committee?—In the year 1842, an attempt was made in the Kandyan country to create disturbances of a somewhat similar character to those which took place in 1848. I conducted, on behalf of the Crown, the prosecutions in those cases, and I believe that the disturbances in 1848 were attributable to the same cause which created the disturbances in 1842; though I also think that many more people joined in the disturbances of 1848, from the dissatisfaction which they felt in consequence of their believing that the Government were about to impose a great number of taxes upon them; and I think so, because upon one of the trials in 1848, at Kornegalle, it came out in the evidence for the prosecution, that the people who were marching into Kornegalle, to attack Kornegalle, said, 'They have imposed eighteen taxes upon us, and we are going in to pay them.' I conclude, therefore, from that circumstance, that to some extent the apprehension of more taxation being imposed had influenced the people. Q. 1290. In point of fact, before the commencement of the disturbances in 1848, had not several taxes, at the end of 1847 and the beginning of 1848, been imposed by the Government?—Yes; but I do not know that the expression which I have referred to had reference to taxes which had been imposed by law, because they spoke of eighteen taxes, and I have reason to believe that the people were under the idea, in consequence of certain returns which had been called for, for statistical purposes, that those returns were wanted with a view to imposing additional taxation. Q. 1300. After the statement which you have alluded to in the blue book, and your own experience, are you of opinion that the imposing of those taxes in the Session of 1848 did tend to produce that discontent and dissatisfaction which prevailed in the country?—I cannot say that I think it tended to produce it. Q. 1306. You were in the Legislative Council when they (the new taxes) were discussed and passed?—I was. Q. 1307. Did you give your assent to them?—Yes. I shall now trouble your Lordships with a few quotations from a charge delivered from the bench by the Chief Justice, Sir A. Oliphant—a witness also summoned by Messrs. Baillie and Hume:— Judging, however, from the conduct of those who seem to have been most active in it (the rebellion), I hope I may be allowed to say that the priests and headmen, the evidence discloses, took the most active part in inciting the people; in fact, any one who attended the court during the last fortnight, and listened to the evidence, can hardly doubt that the common people were driven to it like a flock of sheep. I therefore conclude that this rebellion was hatched by headmen or priests, or both by headmen and priests. That the priests have a cause, and a growing cause, of discontent, I am aware; it is known to the country generally, and therefore needs no further allusion to it here. They have kept a keen eye to the decline of their religion, and it is quite natural that this should raise discontent in their minds; but I am aware, at the same time—and I speak from my own observations—that headmen have been always discontented, as far as their conduct has come to my knowledge; and it appears to me the reason of it is as follows: the remembrance of the former power and authority which they had exercised over the common people has not yet been effaced from their minds, neither is that power, as far as I can see from the evidence, altogether gone, or anything like gone, as is clearly shown by the evidence adduced on these trials.… The learned counsel for the prisoners has told us that is one of the causes of discontent among the people of Matelle, and I am quite disposed to agree with him. In my mind, it is these causes which have led to the rebellion, and not simply the imposition of the recent taxes."—(Answer to Question 6880, 1850.) There was also a question put to the Chief Justice in Committee, which I shall take the liberty to quote:— Q. 6888,1850. You have stated that the causes of the discontent were not the taxes only, but several other matters?—My impression about the taxes is this; that none of the common people knew of their own knowledge by reading, what taxes were imposed; and that therefore no well-grounded discontent arose in their own minds against the Government from knowing and having read, and being sure that it had imposed taxes upon them; but I do not mean to say that the Korales and Aratchies, who drove the people together, did not tell them any stories they liked about the taxes. I have no doubt that they made use of the taxes to excite the people. It was in evidence that the people who came to Kornegalle said, 'Eighteen new taxes have been imposed upon us, and we are come to pay them.' The taxes were certainly made use of by the Aratchies and Korales for mischievous purposes; they told the people that there were eighteen new taxes, and I remember hearing that it was said to be the intention of the Government to tax women's breasts, and other absurdities. Q. 6889. In consequence of certain taxes being imposed, did the Aratchies take advantage of that and spread all kinds of reports of a variety of other taxes being about to be imposed?—That is my impression. Mr. Wodehouse was also examined on this point by Mr. Hume as follows:— Q. 4674, 1849. Had there not been cause for dissatisfaction on the part of the priests in the neglect of their religion, which led to discontent in different parts?—Yes, I am inclined to think that is the only cause of discontent of long standing at all. I think, therefore, that I have clearly proved to your Lordships, that the rebellion of 1848 was not in any way occasioned by the acts of my government; but that it resulted from causes long anterior in date, and over which I bad no control.

The next point to which I will direct the attention of your Lordships is the necessity which existed for resorting; to martial law. Immediately the disturbances tool; place, I sent for Colonel Fraser, who was in Ceylon during the rebellion of 1818, and that officer suggested that no time should be lost in putting the island under martial law, and in sending to Madras for troops. As bearing on this, I will read some passages from the evidence which Colonel Braybrooke, an officer in the Ceylon Rifles, gave before the Committee of the other House:— Q. 5692, 1850. Do you consider that any necessity existed for the proclamation of martial law on those days (the 29th and 31st July)?—I do. I think that it was a very wise and judicious measure. Q. 5693. Could not the mobs or the assemblages of people have been dispersed with the aid of the existing military force, and quiet restored, as well without as with martial law?—From what I now know of the people, I think it is possible that it might have been so; but we were under the impression, from what we had heard of the whole country, that we were on the eve of a great rebellion; that being the case, I think it was wise and judicious on the part of Lord Torrington to proclaim martial law, particularly as I know that in 1817 it was generally believed by the first military authorities that much mischief was done by Sir Robert Brownrigg not having proclaimed martial law soon enough. I do not think he proclaimed it till Feb. 1818.'"' The testimony of Mr. Wilmot, an advocate practising in Ceylon, both as to the reality of the rebellion, and the necessity for martial law, is of considerable importance, as he defended several of the prisoners. I will take the liberty of reading a letter from this gentleman to me on the subject (Parliamentary Papers, 1851, 36—II. p. 203):— Colombo, Nov. 8, 1849. "My Lord—Having seen it announced in the public Journals that it had been stated before the Committee of the House of Commons, that there had been no rebellion, but merely a riot in the Kandyan province, a sense of justice to the Government of the colony prompts me, unsolicited, now that my professional duties on behalf of the prisoners who were tried before the Supreme Court for high treason have ceased, to express my firm and unalterable conviction that there did exist a widely ramified and extended conspiracy among the priesthood and chiefs to drive the British out of the province, and to re-establish a Kandyan throne. Having been a resident in the colony eighteen years, half of which period has been spent in the Kandyan province, in the exercise of my profession, I could not avoid observing in the course of a pretty extensive practice, and constant intercourse with natives of all ranks, that a strong feeling of jealousy had sprung up in the breasts of the chiefs since the advent of Europeans into the heart of the country, and the formation of coffee estates by the destruction of forests, which, under the Kandyan dynasty, were considered as a sort of perquisite, or royal bounty, appertaining to the offices of the high functionaries of the Crown. Considerable heartburnings also arose from the same cause among the lower orders, as the forests afforded pasturage for their cattle and game, and produced honey and firewood for thorn, &c. A spirit of disaffection had likewise been engendered and fostered by the priesthood, which has increased in intensity since the period when the Government has altogether dissevered itself from the support of the Buddhist religion. In the year 1843 I officiated as advocate for prisoners who were tried for high treason, at Badulla, (one of which number was the late Pretender), and in 1848 for those who were tried for the same offence at Kandy, and from facts that came to my knowledge in my intercourse with them, combined with what transpired of their plans and aims in 1843, I entertain not the shadow of a doubt that the object of the insurrection was the expulsion of the British from the Kandyan province. That the enterprise was not successful must be entirely attributed to the prompt and energetic measures of the Government, and to the proclamation of martial law. The ordinary tribunals of the country were not adequate to the crisis. The proclamation, therefore, of martial law was imperatively demanded; nor do I think it remained in force an hour longer than was essentially requisite for the entire suppression of the rebellion. It insured the capture of the King, a fact I had from his own lips, and until his capture had been effected, the rebellion might have been indefinitely protracted, to the total cessation of all mercantile and agricultural pursuits, and to the almost certain destruction of life and property. This sincere and unreserved expression of my opinion I owe to your Lordship as the head of the Government.—I have, &c. EDWARD P. WILMOT, Advocate for Prisoners. The papers for the production of which I am about to move, contain letters and reports to a similar effect from the following-persons, namely"—

  • Mr. C. R. Buller, Government Agent, Kandy.
  • Mr. J. J. Staples, District Judge, Kandy.
  • Mr. Hanna, Police Magistrate, Kandy.
  • Mr. C. H. De Saram, Police Magistrate, Gampolla.
  • Mr. K. Mackenzie, Assistant Agent, Badulla.
  • 859
  • Rambokpotte Dissave, for 30 years principal headman of Orwah.
  • MR. J. Parsons, Deputy Fiscal, Kandy.
  • Mr. H. Templer, Assistant Agent, Matelle.
  • Mr. T. L. Gibson, District Judge, Kornegalle.
  • Mr. Caulfield, Government Agent of the North Western Province.
  • Mr. Will. Morris, Assistant Agent, Kornegalle.
  • Mr. Will. Sims, Police Magis., Madawelletenne.
  • Mr. A. O. Brodie, employed on special duty in the North Western Province.
  • Mr. E. L. Mitford, Assistant Agent, Saffragam. (Parliamentary Papers, 1851, 36—II. p. 160 to 202.)
The concurrent testimony of so many men of high character and position, proves abundantly the causes and reality of the rebellion, and the absolute necessity for martial law.

Then it has been said, my Lords, that I did not consult with the only persons who were best competent to give advice under the circumstances; but I have to state that, immediately on the receipt of news of the insurrection, I sent for the Queen's Advocate, the Major General, and to Colonel Fraser, who commanded the district during the insurrection in 1818, and consulted with them as to the steps which I ought to pursue. This is confirmed by a letter from Colonel Fraser himself, from which I extract the following passages. This letter is dated the 12th December, 1849. With reference to the assertion that he had not been consulted by the Governor, he said— Answ. to Q. 2723, 1850. "The intelligence of the outbreak had not, I believe, been an hour in Lord Torrington's possession, when his Lordship sent for me, and, referring to my experience on former occasions, asked me to favour him with my sentiments and suggestions in regard to that event. All the letters which his Excellency had received from Kandy by the express of that morning were then put into my hands, and in consequence of the very alarming accounts which they contained of the state of Matelle, I suggested that Government should be prepared to place that district under martial law; also that no time should be lost in sending to Madras for a reinforcement of troops, and that a small detail of the latter should be brought over at once and landed at Trincomalee, to enable us to withdraw from that station a large detachment of our own troops, and move them direct into Matelle.… My opinion being required as to what might have been the result had the disturbances of last year not been properly checked, I have now to state, that had those disturbances ended in a well-organised insurrection of the people of Matelle and the neighbouring districts, the troops would in all probability have been involved in a disheartening and trying service, in which, without assistance from India, it would have been in vain to hope for success, and the Government would have had on its hands a troublesome and expensive contest with its own subjects, to say nothing of the ruinous consequences of such a state of things to the European proprietors of the numerous coffee plantations throughout the Interior. My Lords, I now proceed to point out to your Lordships what steps were taken by the rebels on this occasion. For a village riot, I must say that they took a very unusual course. They proceeded—several hundred armed men—to one of the ancient temples of Kandy—the temple in which all their ancient kings had been crowned—and there they crowned the pretender to the throne, clothed in a yellow robe, with all the pomp and ceremonies of their religion. He was attended by a large number of men as a body guard, and an arrangement was made by which large bodies of men were to spread themselves over various parts of the country, thus distracting the attention of our troops, and on the Sunday, when it was supposed that the soldiers left in Kandy would be at church, they proposed to come down and destroy the town, and then proceed to attack the various British detachments, whose gross number did not amount to more than 800 men. It is not for me to say, my Lords, whether there was any probability of their scheme succeeding; but that such was their intention is clearly shown by the evidence adduced on the trials, and by the confessions of some of the prisoners. Mr. M'Kenzie, a gentleman in the civil service, had been sent to be present at the great annual festival held at the temple at Kattagram, and coming back to Kandy, he found the whole country deserted by its inhabitants. Surprised at the circumstance, he found with difficulty one or two old men, and being able to speak their language, he endeavoured to learn from them what was the cause of this sudden movement on the part of the people; and one of them at last told him, that they had all gone to make war with the English. Now, when your Lordships consider that it is the ancient custom of this people, on the eve of entering into hostilities with their neighbours, to leave their homes, to bury their goods in the jungle, and to take to their arms, I think you can have no doubt that such was their real intention. Under these circumstances, and believing, as I still believe, that a plan had been formed for a widely-spread insurrection, I, acting under a feeling of deep responsibility, proclaimed martial law. I can assure your Lordships that there is not a man in your Lordships' House who is more averse to any abridgment of the liberty of the subject than I am. I am quite aware that martial law is a severe and stringent law, and that its establishment is by no means desirable; but this also I must say, that martial law, while it is, no doubt, a punishment to offenders, is equally a protection to the innocent and the well-disposed. I maintain that, with the knowledge we had that the head men and the Aratchies were disaffected, it would have been impossible to carry on the government of the island without a law differing from that which was usually in force. Martial law, as I have already stated, was put in force with the advice and concurrence of the Major General and the Queen's Advocate—the only two officers of the Government with whom I could consult at the time, being the only persons who happened to be present when the news of the outbreak reached the seat of Government. The propriety of my conduct in this matter I brought myself before the Legislative Council as soon as I could get them together. I submitted to them the whole of the papers, and the acts which had taken place from the time of the first proclamation of martial law; and they concurred with me, and agreed in the propriety of the step which I had taken, t remember to have read the charge of that distinguished Judge, Mr. Justice Patteson, on the trial of the Chartist rioters in 1848, to the jury, and I beg to quote from it a passage which seems to me most appropriate:— It is very difficult," said his Lordship, "to judge of the extent of the precaution that was needed when rebellion or disturbance threatened, for precautions never appeared more unnecessary than after they had been successful. I maintain, my Lords, that if I had taken any other steps, the country would have been disorganised; or, at any rate, that a feeling of insecurity would have been engendered, and the flow of British capital into the colony would have been checked. The great crop of coffee then on the ground would, in all probability, have been destroyed, and nothing but ruin would have been the consequence. Your Lordships will remember that rebels always forbear to act when they see strong measures taken against them. When I state to the House, that every class in Ceylon, whether civil or military, concurred in the propriety of martial law being established, I ask, whether your Lordships think that men living in this country are likely to be better judges of the steps necessary to be taken than those resident on the spot? I shall read your Lordships a few words as to the estimated amount of that crop of coffee, and its value in the English market, from the evidence of Sir Emerson Tennent (Answer to Question 2857, 1850):— It amounted to 37,802,950 lbs.; its declared value in Ceylon was 456,663l. 10s. 8d.; its average value in the London market would be 748,311l. 3s. 4d.; and the duty which it paid into Her Majesty's Treasury on arrival here, was 661,551l. 12s. 6d. I may add, with regard to the state of public feeling, that, a very few days after the intelligence arrived of the outbreak in Matelle and Kornegalle, a public meeting was held of merchants and planters in Colombo; it was held in the Chamber of Commerce. At that; meeting, the editor of the Observer attended, and on his way to it he spoke to a planter, Major Parke, I who stated to me the circumstance; and that he used the expression, that of that enormous crop not one single pound was ever likely to be gathered; such was the extent of the danger and apprehension at that time. I think that this House and the public at large, the English merchant, and the English planter, would have said that I was most unfit for the office I held if I had not looked with care and caution to this great amount of property; and if, with these facts before me, I had failed to take all due precautions for its protection. I must add, that, at the conclusion of the rebellion, I received addresses of thanks from all classes in the island—from the Merchants, from the Chamber of Commerce, and from every Planter in the colony. The following was the address from the Chamber of Commerce, dated the 31st July, 1848:— Resolved—That Messrs. Ritchie, Smith, Swan, and Dawson, do form a deputation to wait upon his Excellency the Governor, to bring before him the great danger to be apprehended to the planting interest by the existing disaffection; in the interior, to express to his Excellency the hearty concurrence of the Chamber in the prompt measures adopted by Government to suppress insurrection, with the assurance of the willing and active co-operation of the members in case of need; and to pray that his Excellency may adopt such measures as may be best calculated to avert the impending ruin which threatens the colony, by the departure of the Malabar Coolies from the island while tinder the influence of alarm. I also received the following resolution, passed at a public meeting at Kandy, Sir Herbert Maddock in the chair:— That this meeting tender its cordial thanks to the local Government for the prompt and energetic measures taken to suppress the rebellion lately raised within this and the other Kandyan provinces, and for the protection of Her Majesty's peaceable and loyal subjects. And at a public meeting held at Colombo on the 5th August, 1848, James Swan, Esq., in the Chair, the following Resolution was passed— That this public meeting, consisting of the inhabitants of all classes resident in Colombo, do most cordially and heartily express their unanimous concurrence in the prompt and active measures of the Government to suppress rebellion in the Kandyan districts."—(See Parliamentary Papers, 1849, p. 193, &c.) The Observer newspaper published in Ceylon, although opposed to my policy generally, nevertheless praised me for the measures I adopted for the suppression of the rebellion in these terms (Answer to Q. 2855, 1850):— We believe the opinion is universal that great credit is due to the head of the Government and all concerned for the energy of the measures adopted in putting down the rebellion; and we therefore entirely concur in the deserved praise of his Excellency and Colonel Drought, and the military generally. Sir Herbert Maddock has done all branches of the public service ample justice, and we have no disposition to retract one iota from the compliment passed upon them. Though we differ from Government in opinion as to the propriety of certain public measures, we should consider the person who refused his countenance and aid, if necessary, in the endeavour of Government to repress revolt, as insane. Those were the opinions expressed by the organ of the Opposition at the time, and therefore I am entitled to assume that every person in the island approved of what I had done. The Legislative Council likewise, in October, 1848, distinctly approved of my conduct, and voted an address of approval, which was carried by a unanimous vote of the Council. The following is an extract from the document:— We beg to express to your Excellency our satisfaction at the speedy and successful suppression of the insurrection which has taken place in some districts of the interior, and for which we feel ourselves indebted to the prompt declaration of martial law, and the zealous and able exertions made by the officers, non-commisstoned officers, and privates of Her Majesty's forces serving in this colony. We fully participate in your Excellency's earnest desire for the speedy termination of martial law, and shall be ready to give our best attention to the Bill of Indemnity proposed to be laid before us."—(Answer to Question 3927,1850.) Again, in September, 1849, the Legislative Council addressed me as follows:— The Council have received, with much satisfaction, your Excellency's announcement of the continuance of tranquillity throughout the island, which they believe to be mainly attributable to the energetic and prudent measures adopted by your Ex- cellency during and after the disturbances in 1848."—(Parliamentary Papers, 1851, 36—II p. 78.) Now I must remind the House that this Address was signed by Gentlemen who were supposed to be opposed to my policy, and, among others, by Gentlemen who now affect to doubt whether there was any rebellion at all. Therefore it is only fair that your Lordships should judge of these acts as they appeared to us at the time, and not, as it is now endeavoured to make the public do, by searching through all the evidence and papers to see if they can find anything that could make against me. I am entitled to have a fair and just interpretation put upon my actions; and these I am confident will show that I endeavoured to do my duty to my Sovereign and to my country. I am confident that your Lordships will so interpret them, and that you will not strain and wrest them to put an interpretation upon them which they were never intended to bear.

But it has been stated that martial law was continued longer than was necessary. I have shown to your Lordships that every person connected with the Government concurred in its first establishment. And so long as the Pretender was abroad, there were strong and cogent reasons for its continuance; for his remaining at liberty would have kept alive the rebellion, and it was exceedingly difficult to apprehend him, owing to the sympathy of the disaffected. Watch-fires were lighted by his adherents, to give notice of the movement of the troops; whenever our soldiers came within a mile of him, guns were fired to give warning of their approach, and every means were adopted for his concealment. While this state of things continued, it was found that the people would not return to their homes. I thought, therefore, that it was a wise and humane measure to continue martial law, and the public generally concurred in that view. They saw nothing wrong in it. The well-affected were not injured by it, though the idle and the dissipated might be. Some disaffected persons might have objected to it; and a few proctors in Kandy did object to it; they said they were starving in consequence of the proclamation of martial law, for they could get no business, as the civil courts were closed. No doubt that might be so; but the House will observe that this was not an objection put forth on behalf of the public, but simply on the ground of their own sufferings. The Pretender would never have been taken, but for the existence of martial law, for there was not one of the headmen who would assist in his capture. I can assure your Lordships that however worthless his pretensions may appear to be, he would, so long as he continued at liberty, have still been called the King in that country. In proof that I acted right in maintaining martial law. I will venture to read to your Lordships a letter from the Deputy Queen's Advocate, confirming this view (Parliamentary Papers, 1851, 86—II. p. 312):— Too soon to have removed martial law (by which the military were enabled to exercise many other powers besides that of trying and punishing offenders) would, in all probability, have rendered another rising probable, and the effusion of more blood necessary. The Pretender would hut too speedily have had intimation that the ordinary course of law was resumed, and he would gladly have hailed the change as affording him another opportunity to gather his scattered followers, and make a renewed attempt. The people, it, must be borne in mind, were mortified with their losses, and would not require much persuasion to join the King; and amongst an ignorant population no great difficulty would have been experienced to make them believe that the discontinuance of martial law was owing to a want of power to support it. How comes it that the rebellion of 1818 proved, in many respects, so very disastrous to both the Kandyan and the European?. Its commencement did not witness great numbers in revolt, yet, as is well known, the suppression of it cost not only an immense outlay of money, but also occasioned the loss of many lives, and made considerable military assistance from India necessary. In that rebellion the civil power acted for a considerable period, aided only by the military; martial law was not at first proclaimed: and the rebellion waxed strong, became alarming, and serious. Ultimately, however, recourse was had to this law: it was continued for some months, and the insurrection was suppressed. Mr. Baillie has charged the military employed in putting down the rebellion with unnecessary cruelty, because it happened that when the troops engaged the rebels, one only of the former was wounded, while many of the latter were destroyed. Now, in warfare with savage tribes, it constantly happens that the great loss of life is on the side of undisciplined barbarians. But the manner in which the circumstance referred to is more particularly to be accounted for, is perhaps not generally known; and I will therefore state it. About an hour, or an hour and a half before our troops were engaged with the rebels, a heavy fall of rain occurred, which so completely wetted the priming of the matchlocks of the natives that they only snapped when they attempted to discharge them; while the muskets of our troops, being pro- vided with percussion locks, were quite fit for service. That, my Lords, was the real state of the case. I must say, I think this is the first time that such a charge has been brought against the officers of our army. It is not likely or possible that any Governor, be he who he may, would be able to compel these men to do any act, from which the feelings of gentlemen revolted. What is the character of these officers; There is Major General Smelt, an officer who has served with great distinction, and whom all parties agree in representing as an able, an amiable, and a gentlemanly man—a good officer with a good-service pension—is it likely, my Lords, that he would allow of, much less commit, any act of injustice, cruelty, or persecution? Then there is Colonel Fraser, a man who led a forlorn hope in the Peninsula—was he likely to have committed an act of injustice, or anything that would stain the honours of his long career? Then, when I come to inquire into the character of Colonel Drought, I find that he served with Lord Charles Wollesley, who states that a better man or a better officer never existed—that he was beloved both by officers and men, and that there was not a man in his regiment who did not feel these charges as an injury and an insult. Then there was Major Lushington, a man who had served with distinction, and had received a medal for his gallantry in the field—who is related to one of the legal ornaments of this country—was he likely to have been guilty of acts of cruelty and injustice, or to have allowed any proceedings in a court-martial which were improper? With respect to these trials, there is before me a letter from a clergyman, who says that he was present at, one of them, and that extraordinary pains were taken to give the prisoners fair play—that the proctors of Kandy were present, at the trial, and were asked to undertake the defence, but that they declined to do so. These were the men who made the charges of cruelty; and they who are so anxious to accuse me and the military officers of inhumanity were the very men who were so inhuman at the time as to refuse to defend the unfortunate prisoners, because they were not hired for the purpose.

The crimes for which the rebels were punished were treason, aggravated murder, and highway robbery. These were grave crimes, and they were tried and punished with equal severity in the civil courts as in the courts of martial law; and, with reference to the number of military punishments, your Lordships must remember that the military had the whole charge of the peace of the country, and that they were acting as the ordinary police, and that every misdemeanour came before them. But to show that the same feeling animated both the military and the civil courts, I may state that out of thirty-four prisoners tried by the Supreme Court, before the Chief Justice, on charges of high treason, for acts committed just before the proclamation of martial law, seventeen were convicted and sentenced to death. Why, then, should the courts-martial be accused of inhumanity because they arrived at a similar result? Now, no one doubts but that the civil courts acted rightly and properly, and I say their conduct is a proof that the military court did not act wrongly.

It has been stated by Mr. Baillie that we have alienated the affections of the Kandyan people by the severity of the proceedings to quell the rebellion. If this is so, my Lords, these people have lately evinced their want of affection in a most remarkable manner; for by the last mail from Ceylon I received information that the native chiefs and residents in the Kandyan country had subscribed to present Colonel Drought (the officer charged with undue severity) with a piece of plate, in proof of the good feeling which they entertained for him and his regiment. This fact, my Lords, is in direct contradiction to Mr. Baillie's statement; and it is the more remarkable, as no similar compliment has ever been paid to any of the regiments serving in Ceylon.

Much has been said about the Chief Justice having recommended to mercy a prisoner who had been convicted before the Supreme Court, and of my objecting to the recommendation. But, my Lords, I objected not to the recommendation, but to the reason which was given for the recommendation. The Chief Justice did not simply recommend the prisoner to mercy, but he stated that the extreme severity of the law ought not to be carried into effect in that particular case, because the other courts had punished similar offenders with great severity. I did not think that that was any sufficient reason. It was a censure upon the other courts, and it was as much as to say, that because other courts have been severe, therefore, my court will not fulfil its duty. If he had merely said that it would be desirable to extend mercy to the prisoner, I would have attended to the recommendation at once; but it appeared to me, that to have done so under these circumstances, would have amounted to a tacit censure on the other courts, and it was with these feelings that I wrote the letter which has been so often referred to.

It has been asserted that the courts-martial were improperly conducted; that their proceedings were precipitate and irregular—that on one occasion the wrong man was shot—and that on another an innocent priest was shot. In respect to these charges, I will refer your Lordships to the published and printed proceedings which took place before the Committee of the House of Commons, which will prove to your Lordships that that opinion, wherever else it might be entertained, was not concurred in by them. It is necessary here to remark that Mr. Hume on the 18th of April moved as follows:— That the chairman be instructed to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this Committee a copy of the proceedings upon the trial by court martial (of three members) of Nichalle Puncher, alle, of Melyitya Appoohammy, of Alutgamme Bandy, and of Allawalle Godde Leortin, on a charge of high treason at Matelle, on the 6th of September, 1848, who were sentenced to be shot, and which sentence was carried into effect on the following morning; and copy of the proceedings upon the trial by court-martial (of five officers) of the priest Kaddah Polla Unanse, at Kandy, on the 25th of August, 1 848, on a charge of holding correspondence with rebels, and for administering or conniving at the administration of a treasonable oath, and sentenced to be shot to death, which sentence was tarried into effect on the following morning."—(Parliamentary Papers, 1851, 36, p. vi.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 6; Noes 4. The Motion was therefore carried by a majority of 2. Accordingly, on the 29th of April, copies of these proceedings of the courts thus specially selected by Mr. Hume were produced to the Committee by Mr. Hawes. They were read by Mr. Hume, and by other members of the Committee. No further proceedings were taken upon them: no Motion for printing them Was made; and the Resolution of April 18th was rescinded in the following terms:— The proceedings on the courts-martial alluded to in the resolution of the 18th April having been laid on the table by Mr. Hawes: Motion made and Question put, 'That the Resolution of 18th April be rescinded.' 'It was resolved in the affirmative.'"—(Same Papers.) And as these proceedings sustained none of the allegations mentioned, no further reference was made to them. Mr. Stuart Wortley, the late Judge Advocate, as appears from the proceedings, was present on both the days referred to. Therefore, I have a right to assume that the proceedings of the courts-martial were approved of—that they were held to he proper and right by the Committee. The Deputy Queen's Advocate thus officially reports upon the proceedings of the courts-martial in Kandy:— With reference to the courts-martial in Kandy, having officiated as Deputy Judge Advocate on the four first trials, I am enabled to speak of the manner in which the proceedings in them were conducted. The evidence in each was fully taken down, the prisoners had every opportunity given them of cross-examining the witnesses, and had every facility afforded them of making their defence. The trials usually occupied several hours, and no unseemly haste was manifested in getting through them. In one of the cases—that against Porang Appoo—the active part he was known to have taken in the rebellion was not proved, and intimated my opinion, that it would be proper to have such evidence. But the court did not consider it necessary, under the other circumstances established."—(Parliamentary Papers, 1850. p. 22.) As to the trial of the priest, the testimony of the persons who were in court was con elusive as to the mode of conducting it On this point I beg to read a statement made by the Rev. S. O. Glenie, resident chaplain at Kandy, who was present at it. (Parliamentary Papers, 1851. 36—II. P. 143:)— As I was a resident in Kandy at the time, and was in the court from the commencement to the conclusion of the trial, and as the evidence of one competent, from his education and pursuits, to form an opinion, may deserve some slight attention, I venture to address you these few lines, detailing the impression made on my mind at the time. Having never had an opportunity of witnessing a court-martial's proceedings in cases other than purely military, and having been desirous of observing its mode of taking evidence, I determined, on the occasion of the priest's trial, to attend throughout, and closely to watch all proceedings. I did so from the opening of the court until the delivery of the sentence; and the conclusion forced upon me by the clear and simple evidence I heard was, that there could not exist in an unbiassed man's mind a shadow of doubt as to the guilt of the priest. The court-martial appeared to me to be conducted with the greatest possible fairness towards the prisoner; as one instance of which, I may mention that the president, Major Lushington, seeing some of the Kandy bar in the court, notified to them that he would gladly permit any of them to aid or advise the priest, in questioning or cross-examining the witnesses. This was also communicated to the prisoner, but neither did he seem to wish to avail himself of this assistance, nor did any of the legal gentlemen tender it to him. I felt convinced at the time, and am so still, that a jury, free from faction and aware of the obligation of jurymen's oaths, must have brought in a verdict of guilty. I should not have required five minutes' consideration, had I been on a jury, to make up my mind on the evidence I heard produced before that court martial.—Yours, &c. (Signed) "S. OWEN GLENIE. Then it was brought against me, as a grave charge, that I had executed a priest, in his sacerdotal dress. My Lords, I might content myself with saying that this man had no other dress than the one yellow garment, the badge of his priesthood, in which he was taken. Had ho not been excuted in that garment, he would have been executed naked. But I go further—to have taken off the robes of the priest would have been, in the eyes of the people, to have deprived him of his office. He would have suffered as an individual, and not as a priest. The rebellion having been principally excited by the priests, it was necessary, when the offence of treason was clearly established against one of that body, to make an example of him, and to execute him as a priest for the purpose of showing that the priestly character and robes did not confer any exemption from the consequences of such grave crimes.

On this point I beg to read an extract from a letter written by Mr. Sawers, specially charged with the affairs of Government at Badulla, to Sir John D'Oyley, resident of Kandy, dated the 26th October, 1818. After mentioning the capture of a priest named Ambagolle Unanse, he writes as follows:— I humbly conceive there could he no more proper subject selected for a capital example than this mar., and I would beg leave to observe that as Madregalle's first treason was entrusted to and fostered by priests, and as the late rebellion originated, as I believe, entirely with that order, the Pretender himself being a priest; unless some capital examples are now made of those who were his first colleagues, and through whose influence mainly over the superstitious minds of the people the delusion became so general in these provinces; unless, I say, some capital examples are made, without regard to the pretended sanctity of the yellow robe, we can expect nothing less from them in future, than that every Pansela in the interior will continue to be as they indubitably have been under our government, the hotbeds of conspiracy and treason. My Lords, I contend that the charge of unnecessary severity and bloodshed was inconsistent with the address of the Legislative Council after martini law Slid ceased; and especially inconsistent with the fact, that Mr. Wodehouse, who, as it now appears, dissented from the Government policy himself, drew the draft of the address, thanking the Governor for the prompt declaration of martial law, and the zealous exertions of the officers. It was also inconsistent with the subsequent address of the Legislative Council in September, 1849; wherein it was said that the tranquillity of the island was mainly attributable to the energetic and prudent measures which had been adopted during and after the disturbances. If the Motion that was to have been submitted by Mr. Baillie to the other House of Parliament, had been brought forward, I could have pointed out to your Lordships, that a Motion to the same effect was proposed by Mr. Hume in the Committee, and was rejected by them. Mr. Hume's Resolutions, which, as I have said, were rejected, were in these terms:— 1. That, in the opinion of this Committee, the disturbances which took place in Ceylon in the year 1848, were confined to two small districts of the Kandyan provinces, and did not extend to any other part of the island. 2. That it is the opinion of this Committee that the civil power, strengthened by the presence of a military force, ought to have been sufficient for the restoration and maintenance of public tranquillity; and that, whatever necessity may have appeared at the moment to exist for the proclamation of martial law on the 29th of July, 1848, the continuance of that law to the 10th of October following, the sacrifice of life, and the confiscation of property, during its operation, were unnecessary and unjustifiable."—(Parliamentary Papers, 1851, 36, p. xii.) The Committee negatived these Resolutions; and thereby, I contend, showed that, in their opinion, Mr. Hume was not justified in proposing them. I can only say for myself, and for every man connected with the proceedings which took place in reference to martial law, that it was with feelings of extreme sorrow and regret that we saw the necessity which existed for its establishment, as well as for the proceedings which took place under it; and I think that the House, and every man educated in the same principles as those professed by your Lordships, cannot by possibility suppose, under any circumstances, that I, or any of the gentlemen implicated on the occasion, would have acted as we did, had we not thought it was our duty.

It has been stated and put forth to the public, that great cruelty was exercised by the Government in the sequestration and confiscation of property in the disturbed districts. I distinctly say, that there was not a single case of confiscation—that sequestration there was none; on the contrary, where property was deserted and left alone, it was taken possession of, and accounted for; if perishable, it was sold, and the proceeds were handed back to the owners when they claimed them. There was not a single confiscation; but, at the same time, it is impossible that any Government can be always answerable for every single act that takes place in its name. I am not prepared to say that, in some instance that I am not acquainted with, some slight error or mistake did not take place; but I consider that the general conduct of the authorities in respect of property was correct and proper. There was one case, in which an article of property was taken from an individual; but, on hearing of it, I immediately took notice of it, and the party was ordered to be paid the full value of it.

With respect to the proclamation issued by Captain Watson, and the circumstances connected with it, I have merely to say, that those circumstances being under investigation, I do not think it expedient to go into them; but I must assure your Lordships, that I never heard of that proclamation, nor, so far as I knew, did Colonel Drought, until he saw it in the Times newspaper, as stated by Mr. Baillie in the other House of Parliament.

When the news reached me, at the end of March, 1849, that a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to examine into the affairs of the colony, my feelings, for myself and all concerned, were deeply painful. I saw that the most severe language was used against us in Parliament, and we found ourselves, I may say, held up to the execration of the public. Charges were made founded on the grossest misrepresentation. I saw that it was impossible for me to continue to discharge satisfactorily the duty of Governor. I now must say, not with a view of making any charge, but of pointing the matter out to the House, that in similar circumstances in future it may be desirable, and may be the most prudent course, to remove the Governor immediately from his post, for it is utterly impossible that he can satisfactorily discharge his duty, whilst in another place, and thousands of miles off, there is a Committee sitting upon his conduct.

I have now gone through the two points with respect to the finances and the rebellion; and I shall now show that the policy of my Government met with the approbation of the influential classes of the colony. The Address of the Legislative Council in September, 1849, to which I have already adverted, contained the following paragraph:— They are further gratified to find that the efforts of your Excellency's Government to promote the welfare of the people are better appreciated, and that your endeavours to develop the resources of the island have been so successful, as evinced by the large increase of colonial exports, and the general improvement of the public nuances. On the 7th of August, 1850, I received the following address from the merchant of Colombo, in consequence of the announcement having been publicly made that I had sent in my resignation:— Colombo, August 7, 1850. My Lord—We hope you will excuse our ad. dressing your Lordship on the present occasion, as we feel ourselves called upon to express our sincere regret that your Excellency has deemed it right to tender your resignation of the governorship of this island, and we beg to assure! your Lordship that, notwithstanding all past differences, we feel that the interests of trade and the general prosperity of Ceylon would be most seriously injured by your Lordship withdrawing at the present time from the colony, besides which we conceive that it would have a bad effect upon the native and mixed population. From the experience and intimate knowledge of the requirements of the island, gained by your Lordship during the past two years, we are confident that the contemplated reform in its institutions, so essentially necessary, would be fearlessly and impartially carried out, and the general welfare of the colony better advanced under your Lordship's Administration than under that of any stranger. Your Lordship has already been thanked by almost the entire independent European population for the speedy termination put to the late rebellion, which at one time threatened destruction to all holding any stake in the colony; although some parties have endeavoured to make it appear as a mere village brawl. We have to notice the much improved drainage and cleanliness of the towns, and throughout the country we notice, with great satisfaction, the successful introduction of the road ordinance, which must prove ultimately of vast importance to the colony, and we trust that the peace and prosperity of our island will be insured by your Lordship still remaining amongst us."—(Parliamentary Papers, presented 4th February, 1851, p. 29.) That is signed by various merchants of eminence in the colony; and here is another from, I may say, the whole of the planters:— Kandy, August 17, 1850. My Lord—We the undersigned European inhabitants of the Central Province, beg to intrude upon your Lordship with an expression of our regret at the course which you have deemed it necessary to adopt in the resignation of the government of this colony. Putting aside entirely all considerations which from minor causes may have at any time influenced our feelings towards you, we now beg to express our sincere regret that circumstances should have rendered it necessary for your Lordship to withdraw from amongst us. We believe that such a step on your Lordship's part, at the present juncture, will not be attributed by the native and mixed population to the right cause; consequently, the feelings which actuated your Lordship in tendering your resignation, being capable of misconstruction by designing and disaffected persons, the course which you have now deemed it proper to adopt will have a most prejudicial effect upon the minds of the people and the future welfare of the colony. Your Lordship has shown a consideration for the interests of the agricultural community to which, under former Administrations, it has been a stranger, by various ordinances calculated to reduce the enormous expenses of coffee cultivation and transport; namely, by the abolition of the export duty upon that article of commerce, and the opening up of the country by the road ordinance. By the latter, bandy roads and bridle paths have opened up what were formerly almost inaccessible tracts of country; and even in its infancy we can foresee the vast benefits which must accrue to the country, when carried into lull operation. The thanks of the inhabitants of the Central Province for the prompt measures by which your Lordship destroyed in the bud a rebellion which, judging from the history of this island, would otherwise have been both disastrous to the loyal, and painful and protracted to the insurgents, are already on record; but we take this opportunity of again tendering our thanks to your Lordship for a policy which protected the isolated and solitary planter from outrage at the hands of the rebel, and his property from destruction, at a time when a universal monetary catastrophe had already reduced too many to the verge of bankruptcy. We beg to conclude by expressing our regret that, almost at the moment when your Lordship's improvements in the colony were beginning to operate, and the benefits to he hereafter reaped from them to dawn upon the public mind, circumstances should deprive us of your Lordship's longer sojourn amongst us.—We have, &c. (Signed) "GEORGE ELPHINSTONE DALRYMPLE, And 150 other persons. Parliamentary Papers, presented 4th February, 1851, p. 32.) I think your Lordships will consider that these addresses afford a fair expression of the opinion of the colonists, and are evidence that my administration, from beginning to end, met with universal approbation from every class of the community.

I have now stated to your Lordships the whole of the points connected with the charges which have been alleged against me. I hope the noble Lord opposite, who has had considerable experience in colonial affairs (Lord Stanley), if he has observed anything in these charges which he does not deem to have been sufficiently answered or explained, will do mo the kindness and the justice of pointing out what are the points which, in his opinion, require further explanation. I feel that I have a right to ask thus much of the noble Lord, and of all your Lordships, At any rate, I have taken what I believe to be a straightforward and manly-course. I have endeavoured, to the best of my ability, to explain the course I have taken in the difficult and trying circumstances in which I was placed. I ask you to recollect the difficult position I am placed in; and I ask the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), as one who is acquainted with the colonies of this country, whether, when a public servant in the discharge of his duty does what he believes to be best for the interest of his country, and whose policy has met with the cordial support of every class of persons in the colony, it is fair that he should be censured by the public voice, without the necessary knowledge to warrant a judgment being formed? I have done my duty to the best of my ability, and I therefore trust that I may appeal to the noble Lord for the expression of his opinion on the subject.

I have only two other subjects which I feel it my duty to bring under the consideration of the House. They are matters of a personal nature. It has been stated, and most industriously circulated, that, in reference to the execution of an unfortunate criminal, I made use of language of a very improper description. If the Gentleman who made that statement (the Queen's Advocate) had in any way moderated the terms in which he gave evidence on this subject, I might have remained silent; but he has not done so. I had the good fortune to have two gentlemen with me at the time when I am alleged to have used that language, Colonel Drought, and another gentleman, and they are both ready to state that I never in their presence made use of the language imputed to me. I never was alone with the Queen's Advocate on that occasion, and I now distinctly state to your Lordships most solemnly, and on my honour, that I never made use of such an expression as has been attributed to me, or of any improper expression on the subject.

I have only one other subject to refer to. In opening my address to your Lordships, I said that it was not for me to make any comment on the censure which has been cast upon me. Gentlemen of greater ability and knowledge than I possess have thought that the course adopted in the production of private letters was right and proper; but I must be allowed to differ from them. I have now a painful duty to perform, and I shall not shrink from performing it. I have to acknowledge that on the 3rd of May, 1849, I wrote a private letter respecting an official person in the colony, and I admit there was an apparent discrepancy between that and other letters I had written. [The noble Lord was understood to refer to the letters written by him to Sir E. Tennent and Mr. Wodehouse.] I acknowledge the impropriety I was guilty of on that point. I was irritated and worried by the circumstances around me, and I committed an act of indiscretion for which I shall be ever sorry. But, my Lords, I am the only sufferer. I have lost that office which it was my pride and happiness to possess; and, expressing my contrition for that single act of indiscretion, I throw myself on your Lordships' consideration. The noble Viscount then moved— That a Message be gent to the House of Commons for a Copy of the Report and Evidence of the Select Committee on Ceylon.


I do not wish to prolong the discussion on this matter, except to say what I think I am bound to say in reference to the statement which has just been made by my noble Friend. Like my noble Friend, it would be more satisfactory to mo, as I also am to some extent implicated, if the ground of accusation brought against him could have been stated in this House in such a way that I might have had an opportunity of answering it; but as this is not to be the case—as the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), on the present occasion at all events (and it is no more than I expected), will not take up this case against my noble Friend—as this case is not brought forward on the other side, it would ill become me to enter into elaborate details, or to do more than the necessity of my position calls for. But this much I must say, that I think my noble Friend has taken the fitting and proper course in making to your Lordships the statement he has just made. He reminded your Lordships of the peculiar circumstances in which he has been placed. For two years and a half he has been the mark for all the shafts of calumny in reviews and newspapers, showing a degree of malignancy and a disregard of truth that are a disgrace to the press of this country, and which have not ceased to be brought forward against him. And, more than that, proceedings have taken place in the other House of Parliament calculated to give increased currency and effect to those calumnies, while at the same time the par- ties accused were, in the nature of things, precluded from meeting them. To show the sort of position in which my noble Friend has been placed, lot me mention this one circumstance, and this one circumstance only. During the first year of the Parliamentary inquiry, the year 1849, much evidence very hostile to my noble Friend was brought before the Committee. At the end of the Session a Motion was made (this appears from the public Votes and Proceedings of the Committee) by one of the Members of the Committee, that the evidence should be reported to the House, and of course published to the world. The Motion was rejected by a majority of 9 to 1. I am not sure of the majority, but, I am sure of the minority—the Motion was supported only by a single voice, and the Motion was rejected on the avowed ground that the evidence against my noble Friend only had been heard, and that it was unjust it should be made public until the evidence on the other side had been heard also. Did that decision of the Committee answer the purpose for which it was intended by the Committee? No; it would have been better for my noble Friend to have had the evidence published at once in this country. Though it was decided that the evidence which had been given should be kept back and not published in this country, garbled extracts, that could legitimately be only in the possession of a Member of the Committee, were sent to Ceylon and published in the newspapers there, and were thence transferred to the journals in this country, in a manner which tended most directly to damage and injure the cause of my noble Friend. As my noble Friend has said, how was it possible for a Governor to carry on the government of a colony when his conduct was the subject of inquiry and of statements of this nature? I say if an inquiry were conduct ed, as it should be, by persons having a due sense of the responsibility of the great powers entrusted to a Parliamentary Committee, that inquiry may be conducted without injury to the public service, and frequently with great advantage; but if the Members of a Committee are to disgrace themselves by permitting garbled evidence, or extracts from evidence, to be published in the colonies to injure persons I whose conduct is under inquiry, and if; every person for whom a command has been applied and who has been refused, or for whom an appointment has been asked and refused, or if some irregularity has been punished—if every such individual is to be entitled to come and state his case and show his hostility to the Governor, then indeed I do admit that inquiries of this kind are destructive to the public service, and can scarcely be carried on with safety. Having been the object of this kind of inquiry, and conducted in this spirit, I do think my noble Friend was right in bringing the case before your Lordships. Ho has waited patiently for many months: while he believed the subject was to come regularly under discussion in the other House of Parliament, he most properly abstained from bringing it before your Lordships; but when the notice given was indefinitely postponed, when those calumnies of which he was the object were allowed to continue, and the injury to be increased by this continuance, I think it was obviously the duty of my noble Friend, with a view to his own honour that ho should state to your Lordships the facts in so complete a manner as to enable your Lordships to form an accurate opinion on the case. Being a Member of this House, it was not becoming of him that he should make this vindication of himself through the press, or by any other means than those he has adopted. I must add one word. f was prepared to maintain, whenever the proper time had come, that my noble Friend's acts and general public administration of the colony redound greatly to his own credit, and have proved eminently advantageous to the colony itself; that when he arrived out, he found the colony in a state rapidly approaching to bankruptcy; that in spite of the commercial storms of 1847 and 1848, which no place felt more severely than Ceylon, he brought the colony through that crisis, restored the finances, and contributed much to the re-establishment of commercial as well as of financial prosperity. He has had to deal with a rebellion which he has shown proceeded from causes of discontent of long standing, and which had existed lung previous to his assuming the government, and that this rebellion was repressed by the wise policy and promptitude of the measures which he adopted. And I will not hesitate to express my opinion that true humanity was consulted by the measures of my noble Friend. He was not the only party on whom responsibility rested; for though the Governor is indeed responsible for proclaiming martial law when he thinks a sufficient case for it exists, yet having proclaimed it, it rests with the officers by whom that law is carried into effect to administer it with humanity as well as firmness. I say the whole of the evidence which has been taken goes to show that the officers to whom those great powers were entrusted have shown throughout that they acted with a high feeling of the great responsibility that was thus imposed on them. It was their most earnest object and desire to use those powers as promptly as they could to restore peace and tranquillity—to protect Her Majesty's peaceable subjects by punishing as small a number as was possible under the circumstances of the case. To say no abuse took place during the existence of martial law is, as my noble Friend stated, more than any man can take upon him to assert. We know that in time of war and periods of rebellion, when the ordinary administration of the law is necessarily arrested, and the usual restraints that curb the evil passions of makind are to some extent withdrawn, it is impossible to suppose that abuses will not sometimes take place. The noble Duke knows that. To check such abuses the noble Duke was frequently obliged to adopt measures of great severity and of wholesome rigour. In the same way, when the noble Lord adopted the course he did in Ceylon, it is possible abuses did take place; but it is equally clear that whatever abuses did take place, they were against his desire and wish, and that nothing was left undone that was in his power to check and punish such abuses. There is but one more observation that I have to make. There is one point that I am bound to allude to, painful as it is. It is that to which my noble Friend has referred at the conclusion of his speech. My Lords, I am sure all of your Lordships must have been touched by the candid and manly admission which my noble Friend has made. Undoubtedly I did feel that I never experienced so much pain in my life as with respect to that matter. Having found that my noble Friend came out triumphantly of the ordeal of such an inquiry as never before, I suppose, was instituted into the conduct of any public man in reference to his public acts of administration, it gave me more pain than I can tell when the disclosure as to that letter was made, which made it evident to me that my noble Friend was placed by that letter in a position with regard to other persons holding official situations in the colony of Ceylon, which rendered it impossible that he could, with regard to the public service, or with satisfaction to himself, continue to administer the affairs of the colony. I felt more strongly that the disclosure and publication of that letter was something I, for one, must deplore. How the gentleman to whom that letter was addressed could have disclosed it—still more how the Committee could not only have allowed, but I may almost say required the publication of that letter—how they could have taken that course, more especially as it is admitted that the letter was totally and entirely irrelevant to the subject of the inquiry of the Committee—how they could have taken that course, I am, for one, utterly at a loss to understand. I can only say that those who did take it entertain totally different notions from those I have been always taught to hold with respect to the sacredness of private confidence, and the manner in which the intercourse of private life between one gentleman and another should be carried on. More than this I will not say.


said, the noble Earl had referred to his conduct in respect to martial law; and on this point he wished to say a few words to their Lordships. In the first place he had to state that he had no comment and no observation to make upon the general question before their Lordships as introduced by the noble Lord (Lord Torrington). The view which he (the Duke of Wellington) had taken was, that it was as yet utterly impossible for their Lordships' House to pronounce any opinion upon the case brought under consideration that evening by the noble Lord. For their Lordships had no single paper before them: they knew nothing about it: that correspondence to which so much reference in detail had been made was quite unknown to them. He certainly had not made himself master of the subject. He had only read that which came regularly before the public. As to the correspondence he declared that he had not a notion of what it referred to. And this being the fact, he thought the noble Lord and the noble Earl might as well have avoided any observations upon that correspondence until it had regularly come into their hands. As to the remark which had been made about him (the Duke of Wellington), he would say a word in explanation. He contended that martial law was neither more nor less than the will of the general who commands the army. In fact, martial law meant no law at all. Therefore the general who declared martial law, and commanded that it should be carried into execution, was bound to lay down distinctly the rules and regulations and limits according to which his will was to be carried out. Now he had, in another country, carried on martial law; that was to say, that he had governed a large proportion of the population of a country by his own will. But then, what did he do? He declared that the country should be governed according to its own national laws, and he carried into execution that will. He governed the country strictly by the laws of the country; and he governed it, with such moderation, be must say, that political servants and judges who at first had fled of had been expelled, afterwards consented to act under his direction. The judges sat in the courts of law, conducting their judicial business and administering the law under his direction. He, therefore, had never been in the situation which the noble Earl had spoken of, and he protested most distinctly against being called into comparison, in any way whatever, with the noble Lord (Lord Torrington) opposite.


I think the noble Duke did not perfectly hear the reference I made to him. What I mean to say is, that in times of war and confusion those who act under the authority of a general or a governor cannot be always prevented from being guilty of abuses. I did not mean to say that the noble Duke so exercised the powers of martial law, but that when the noble Duke was carrying on that memorable and glorious contest by which his name will be ever illustrious, there were cases of soldiers and officers acting under him being guilty of abuses contrary to the noble Duke's wishes, and which the noble Duke found it necessary to punish very severely. So, I said, there might also be abuses in Ceylon of which my noble Friend the Governor of Ceylon knew nothing, and my noble Friend was as ready as any other to punish those abuses when they took place. That is all I said in reference to the noble Duke; and I shall merely add that I was glad to hear what the noble Duke said with reference to what is the true nature of martial law. It is exactly in accordance with what I myself wrote to my noble Friend at the period of those transactions in Ceylon. I am sure that was not wrong in law, for I had the advice of Lord Cottenham and Lord Campbell, and the Attorney General, and I explained to my noble Friend that what is called proclaiming martial law is no law at all, but merely, for the sake of public safety in circumstances of great emergency, setting aside all law, and acting under the military power; a proceeding which requires to be followed by an act of indemnity when the disturbances are at an end. That is all I have to express.

On Question, agreed to.

House adjourned to Thursday next.

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