§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
I can hardly think that a discussion with respect to 1609 domicile, however important, is one of that urgent character which your Lordships had in contemplation when you allowed a quarter of an hour after five o'clock to be appropriated for the purpose of putting questions and making observations on matters which do more especially bear the character of emergency; and at the present moment I think your Lordships are rather more interested by the news we have received from India. Therefore I trust that, though a few minutes have elapsed since the quarter past five o'clock, I may be permitted to put a question to the Secretary for War, which I was unable to put when the Militia Bill passed through the House. What I want particularly to know is what application he intends to make of the £200,000; voted by the House of Commons, on the Motion of the hon. Baronet, the Under Secretary for War, for the embodiment of the militia? I may be allowed shortly to draw your Lordships' attention to the actual position in which we stand with respect to military preparations during the great war in which we are engaged. Of course, I have not access to official documents, but I have endeavoured to obtain from the ordinary channels of information as correct data as I could, and I do not think that they will contain any inaccuracy calculated to affect my statement. I assume that eighteen battalions have either been sent or are ordered to proceed for service to India. Five other battalions which had been sent to China are also going to India. Five, I understand, in addition, have been warned that they will be the next required for that service. Two, it is understood, have been ordered or are expected to proceed from the Cape to India, and we know that the 37th Regiment has been sent from Ceylon. There were in India twenty-two battalions before, and therefore, on the supposition that all this force proceeds to India—and, considering the information we have most recently received, I can hardly entertain a doubt that the whole of the five regiments warned for the next service in India will be sent—the total force to be employed in India amounts to fifty-two battalions, and the wing of a regiment (I am speaking of infantry); and that is a larger infantry force than was employed in the Crimea during the late war. When we had in the Crimea fifty battalions, what was our position at home? We were reduced in this country to eleven battalions, but we had the militia, the effective force of which was about 66,000 men. 1610 Of that force seventeen regiments were employed in the Mediterranean garrisons, and I assume that the force of those regiments amounted to 11,000 men. We have now at home, I believe, eighteen battalions, and it is understood that three battalions are ordered home, which will make twenty-one battalions. Therefore we shall have twenty-one battalions at home, whereas during the Crimean war we had only eleven battalions. But at that time we had a militia force of 66,000 men, of which 11,000 men—that is, seventeen regiments—were employed in the Mediterranean, so that we had 55,000 militia in England. We had, therefore, at that time in England eleven battalions and 55,000 militiamen. We have now, or soon shall have, twenty-one battalions in England. I assume that the ten additional battalions are equal to 8,000 men, and we therefore have 8,000 more regulars in England than during the Crimean war, but unless the militia force is embodied we shall have 55,000 less of militiamen. Now, I assume that the £200,000 voted by the House of Commons will enable the Government to employ 9,000 men during six months. Therefore we stand in this way. We have 8,000 more regulars than during the Crimean War, and, deducting 9,000 men from 55,000, we shall have 46,000 less of militia; altogether we shall have 38,000 less of armed men in this country than we had during the Crimean war. Now, I am of opinion that this is a very much more important and more dangerous war than that carried on in the Crimea. There we made war in conjunction with the greatest military Power in Europe, and we were in alliance with the Power with respect to whose territory the war was being carried on. We had also on our side a powerful ally—the King of Sardinia. We were on good terms with France, and it was impossible to consider it as a thing which could by possibility happen that anything could occur between France and us during our co-operation in that war, in which France was employing her own military strength, which would require us to maintain any considerable military force in this country. We had at the same time a large naval force, which kept at bay the military and naval forces of Russia. We are now carrying on a great war at a vast distance from this country without one ally, and can we even say that we have the good wishes of all those who co-operated with 1611 us in the last war? I think this a subject calculated to excite great alarm, and which demands from the Government and from your Lordships the most mature consideration. We had in the former war a great naval force. Whatever naval force we now have is employed in China in fighting the battles of Sir John Bowring; so that the country is left in a position the most unprotected. Is that, my Lords, a position in which this country ought to be placed? I have told your Lordships the amount of force which will be employed in India. Let me now ask you to consider another point of great importance—what number of recruits will be absolutely necessary every year to keep these battalions up to their complement. In doing this the loss by climate is to be estimated as well as the loss inflicted by the enemy; and I fear that on this occasion this must far exceed the ordinary loss constantly endured in India, because of course the troops must march on many occasions without those advantages and resources which they invariably enjoy in times of peace, and also an unhealthy period of the year. I calculate it would be impossible to provide less every year than 10,000 recruits to keep up these fifty battalions to their complement. We have, besides, 2,000 artillery, and it will, I think, be necessary to provide 400 artillery recruits, to keep up that force to its proper complement. Then we have, or are to have, besides, eight regiments of cavalry. On the supposition that these eight regiments of cavalry are to be maintained at the ordinary strength of 600 men which prevails in India, they would amount to 4,800 men, and the number of recruits required by them in the same proportion will be 960. The East India Company have a large force of infantry, consisting of nine battalions; and they have besides a very numerous force of artillery; but I am sorry to say it usually happens that the casualties in their force are greater than in Her Majesty's. On the whole, I cannot calculate the recruits required for the Company's European troops in India during the continuance of this war at less than 4,000 men every year; so that the whole demand for recruits to maintain the troops in India at their full complement will not be less than 15,360 annually. That force must be provided in addition to the number of men usually required to keep up the rest of her Majesty's army, in the Colonies and at home, to its complement. 1612 It is said that it is a matter of great importance to consider the expense which will be incurred if the whole of your militia is embodied. It seems to me, however, that that point sinks into insignificance when compared with the security of the country. And of this I feel satisfied—that unless you embody the whole of the militia, and thus always have the opportunity of recruiting from it, it will be quite contrary to reason to expect that you will be able during the continuance of this war to find the number of recruits necessary to keep the army up to its complement. But then let me say a word or two as to the expense. Recollect that when you detach thirty battalions to India you are at once relieved from the expense of maintaining that force, the mere pay of which we may reckon at £900,000 a year. The sum of £200,000 has been already voted by Parliament towards the embodiment of the militia. That makes £1,100,000; and I believe the expense of embodying the whole of the militia for the six months would not exceed £1,600,000, so that the whole difference between what you do and what I propose to do is £500,000, for which sum we are sacrificing, as I think, perhaps the integrity of our empire in India and our honour at home. My Lords, with regard to the state of European affairs, we are told that at present there is not the least reason to apprehend any danger to the peace of Europe; but that, if anything should occur here, Parliament will be called together, and will immediately provide the necessary means for our protection. Now, I believe it is correctly stated that at the present moment there is nothing which threatens the peace of Europe; but I look not many years back, and I see how, in the most pacific times, with the most pacific Sovereign, and the most Pacific Minister, events did suddenly occur to threaten that peace. I allude to the circumstances of 1844. At that time Louis Philippe reigned in France, and Sir Robert Peel was Prime Minister here. Could any Minister be more intensely pacific than Sir Robert Peel? And yet, Louis Philippe being King of France, and Sir Robert Peel Prime Minister of this country, a miserable island in the Pacific gave rise to a difference which seriously endangered the relations existing between the two nations. Again, in the year 1846, I recollect when at the Admiralty thinking it my duty quietly to take every precaution against an impending war 1613 with the United States. What happened? One of those events had occurred which every six months seems to give rise to some subject of discussion or difference between this country and the United States, and at one time matters assumed so serious an aspect that I believe, with the exception of Lord Aberdeen, there was not one man in the Cabinet who did not think they would terminate in a war. Now both countries are pacifically inclined, yet between countries the most pacifically inclined differences threatening the peace of the world, and which it is impossible for any man to foresee, suddenly occur; and for these it is necessary to be prepared. But we are told that, if anything calculated to endanger the peace of Europe should occur, Parliament will be called together. No doubt it will, and we know that fourteen days are required to elapse between the summons and the sitting of Parliament. But need I remind the noble Earl opposite, or the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, that the whole practice of war is entirely changed, that the position of this country is completely altered by railways and by steam, and that we are, in fact, hardly now in an insular position; I recollect the noble Viscount once saying we were joined to the Continent by a steam bridge; and this I know that when great military Powers have likewise great military establishments ready for instant action, have railways traversing their whole country, and have at the same time steam to propel their vessels, Napoleon III. could do in one fortnight what Napoleon I. in a year and a half could not do. The state of things, I say, is altogether changed. It is now a word and a blow; and before an answer could be obtained to the most civil and courteous diplomatic note it is within the range of possibility that a foreign army might be landed in this country. That ought not to be. We ought to look at our real position, and be prepared for the change which modern improvements have made in our circumstances. During many years successive Governments—I know not why, I don't like to impute to them the desire of obtaining for the moment an unworthy popularity—have been decrying and holding up as impracticable the ancient right of impressment in time of war. That right of impressment formed the chief defence of this country before the invention of steam; and it is still to a great extent its defence now. But no doubt, the course taken with respect to it 1614 must greatly impair the power of any Government disposed to make use of it for the future. When I communicate to your Lordships these fears of mine, that we are not prepared as we ought to be for the great war in which we are engaged for the maintenance of our Indian empire, and that we are not prepared for defence in the event of any untoward or unexpected war in Europe, do not look at my words alone, or trust to my authority, for I know I have none, but recollect what the late Duke of Wellington constantly said. Read, too—if for that alone—the Life of the late Sir Charles Napier, and you will see that that great man, as well as the Duke of Wellington, entertained all the apprehensions I am now expressing. My Lords, although I am unwilling to give a dark colouring to the news which has just arrived, I must say that it is of a nature very much to increase my desire to see this country placed at once in a state in which it will be enabled to carry on for a considerable time a very great and distant war. We are now in India in the position we occupied fifty-four years ago as regards the whole of the Upper Provinces and the whole of Central India. We are where we were when Lord Lake marched from Cawnpoor in 1803. But there is this difference, and one which tells against us—that we have our force disseminated in bad and false positions, and we do not possess the advantage which we should have enjoyed had that force been concentrated and fit for immediate action. No one can look at the scattered position of our troops, even in the Punjab—where I believe we shall have the active support of the population—no one can consider the position in which our army now stands before Delhi, in which our troops are placed at Allahabad, and which they occupy, (if they are still there) at Cawnpore, without coming to the conclusion that that position, though a necessary consequence of the events which have taken place, is a false one, extremely damaging to us as a military Power prepared to make war in India. My Lords, I cannot view these circumstances without very great alarm. I feel it to be absolutely necessary, if we would maintain our national honour, if we would maintain that noblest of empires which has been acquired by the genius, the enterprise, and the valour of successive soldiers and statesmen during half a century, that we should make an effort such as this country never as yet has made in war. I 1615 am sure that without such an effort we must fail, for we hare not the advantage we enjoyed before; we have not an army divided between different princes and potentates jealous of each other—one with us and another against us—nor have we, as far as I know, the fidelity of any of the troops upon whom we formerly relied. My Lords, we are in a much more difficult position for reconquering than ever we were for acquiring India; and what I desire is that, while we are maintaining this great contest with all our strength, we should garrison our citadel at home and make it so secure against all possible attack that it shall not occur to any nation jealous of our power abroad, jealous of our wealth at home, to interfere with us and cripple our action while we are engaged in vindicating our honour, and attempting to regain our empire in India.
§ LORD PANMURE
The noble Earl, in asking his question relative to the militia, has diverged into other topics with reference to India and to the chances of European troubles. I shall endeavour, in a few words, to reply to the observations he has made. In the first place, with regard to the Vote of £200,000, which we have asked from Parliament as a credit for the expense of embodying the militia, it is contemplated to apply that sum to the embodiment of 10,000 of the militia between this and the 25th of March next. Previous to that date—by the 1st of February—Parliament, in the usual course of things, will have re-assembled; so that naturally this Vote of credit, which will suffice for 10.000 men, would not reach beyond the 1st of February. What the Government required, in asking for that sum, was that they should be enabled to embody the militia without the necessity of immediately calling Parliament together. But my own opinion is, that if it should be requisite to embody more than this force of 10,000 or 12,000, circumstances will have occurred and events will have happened which will render it necessary that Parliament should meet, and that the representatives of the people should have a voice in the measures proposed to cope with the emergency. It is, my Lords, intended to embody these 10,000 men in order to provide for any of the garrisons which may have been weakened by the despatch of troops to India. My Lords, far be it from me to underrate the magnitude of the crisis which has arisen in that distant country. It fills me, 1 will not say with 1616 alarm, but certainly with the deepest anxiety; but I think that the reliefs which have been sent to India upon the requisition, and beyond the requisition, of the Governor General will, at least for a time, suffice to calm much of the apprehension that has been felt. For I may state to the House that, since the beginning of the year—nay, since the news of this revolt arrived in England—there has been, or will have been by the end of this month, despatched to India a force of all arms consisting of 31,000 men. This number includes no recruits of the East India Company, but it does include 4,000 men of the Queen's regiments who were at Chatham, but who are not to be styled recruits; they are as thoroughly formed soldiers as any one of the regiments that have gone out. [The EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH: They were only complementary.] They will, it is true, go to fill up the complement of the corps already in India, yet they will form a substantial addition to the force available for the suppression of the mutiny. This large army will reach its destination at a season when operations can be undertaken immediately and prosecuted without intermission. That season, as I am informed—though, perhaps, the noble Earl is better acquainted with this matter—is the one best suited for military operations; and I believe preparations will be made in India, to an extent never before known, to bring the whole of this force into the most rapid, most active, and most useful service. I concur with the noble Earl as to the necessity of procuring an adequate number of recruits at home to fill up vacancies in that force; and, in order to keep up the strength of the regiments which have gone out, we have called upon our recruiting agents in the first place to raise ten new battalions of 800 men each, which will give us 8,000 men; in the second place, we propose to raise all the regiments not in India, but in the Colonies and in this country, to 1,000 strong; and thirdly, to raise all the regiments in India to 1,200 strong, with a view to provide against casualties. I grant the truth of the noble Earl's remark, that there will be a heavy demand on this country in order to fill up the ranks of the regiments in India. The noble Earl's calculations are, I think, not beyond the mark; and when he says that we shall require 15,000 men to provide for casualties occurring in India, I may add 5,000 more for the casualties common to the 1617 army at home. I believe that, during the continuance of the troubles in India, we shall require at least 20,000 men a year to be raised to replace the casualties happening in that country and at home. But I by no means look to the militia as the source whence these recruits ought principally to come. I am glad to see the colonels of militia draining their regiments to swell the ranks of the line; but it is not the right way to keep up the spirit of the English militia to treat it merely as a recruiting depôt for the regular army. Encourage the militia to furnish recruits to the line as much as you can. We did not find it backward in doing so during the war. But do not give it out to the public that the militia is of no other use than to pass men into the line. The militia is intended for the defence of the country at home; and I am proud to think that 66,000 men of the British militia attained such a state of discipline in the late as in the former war as, even if every soldier of the regular army had been draughted to the seat of the hostilities, would have placed the United Kingdom in an adequate posture of defence. Foreign affairs do not wear the same aspect to me as they appear to do to the noble Earl, nor can I view them with alarm. I do not think that the nations of the Continent, from a jealousy towards the wealth and position of England, would be disposed to seek a cause of quarrel with this country in order to make war upon it in the midst of this crisis. I do not deny that events, unforeseen by the prescience of any man, may possibly occur at any moment, and set nation against nation; but, my Lords, the aspect of affairs at present is pacific—all the deductions that can be drawn from the existing state of things are in favour of peace. Therefore, to alarm the country by calling out at once all the militia, and to put the public to the most serious inconvenience by drawing away the population from the pursuits of agriculture and of manufacturing industry, merely that we might have an over abundance of troops in each of our garrisons, is not a measure which we could now recommend. We have it in our power to call out the whole of the militia, if we require it. We have asked for and Parliament has liberally granted funds, to enable us to embody a portion of that force in aid of the regular army. We have set the whole of our recruiting force to work from one end of the country to the other, and I apprehend 1618 that when the harvest operations are over, recruits will flock to our standard in the amplest numbers. If, however, any deficiency in this respect is experienced, Parliament may be called together in order to give the Government power to obtain more men than the inducements at present held out can tempt to enter the service. The noble Earl spoke of impressment. That system, I am happy to say, is not again likely to be resorted to; but the ballot for the militia has not been given up. It ought not, however, to be adopted, except in cases of extremity. The noble Earl is perhaps not aware that the ballot for the militia is not so much objected to on account of the obligatory nature of the service it imposes, as for the heavy poll-tax it entails on every man who is liable to be enrolled—a tax, give me leave to say, which at the close of the last war amounted to nearly £50 per head. That was the sum paid for a substitute by every man who was drawn for this force. It is this consideration which renders it advisable to use the ballot only as a last resort. I am quite convinced that, under the present system, with the spirit which pervades the country, and without having recourse to this obnoxious expedient, we shall not only get all the men we require, but get them of an infinitely better class, who, when their own terms of service expire, will inspire their neighbours and fellow-citizens with a similar disposition to join the ranks of the militia whenever the country requires their services. I need only add that, although the news which we have received from India must create great anxiety, yet many of the reports afloat, as far as we are informed on the subject, have no foundation in fact. Indeed, we have received despatches of a later date than that to which these reports refer, from Sir Patrick Grant, in a letter dated the 4th of July, and I also happen to have a communication of the 30th of June from an officer at Allahabad, which do not in any way corroborate the accuracy of, and indeed do not even refer to, the reports in question.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
My Lords, I agree with the remark of the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough), that what we ought to look to in the present emergency is our real position; but surely it is neither wise nor necessary to exaggerate the crisis. The noble Earl tells us that we are engaged in as great a war as that recently waged in the Crimea, and 1619 that it is one of the most dangerous contests ever known. I am at a loss to comprehend the exact meaning of his observations. We are not at war at all with India. If we are, who is the leader against whom we are fighting? We are engaged in quelling a most extensive—and I will say the most dangerous—mutiny that perhaps ever took place. It is a partial rebellion, if you please, but it is not a dangerous war, which will overtax to any degree the immediate resources of this country. There is no rational man, either in or out of this country, who thinks that our rule and empire in India are in danger. But undoubtedly the re-establishment of our authority in that country in its proper position must cost a large sum of money, and I am afraid will occasion a heavy expenditure of a still more painful character. The noble Earl attempted to institute a comparison between our position in India now and that of fifty-four years ago; but there is no analogy between them. I think our position in India, although not so alarming in a military point of view as the noble Earl has stated, is nevertheless one that requires the gravest consideration of Parliament and the country. The first matter is to quell this mutiny. I think that the measures adopted and intended by the Government are sufficient. If they should be found to be insufficient Parliament can be called together again. We have already made an effort greater, perhaps, than was ever made by this or any other country in similar circumstances. We have been informed that a Native army, composed of 2,400 men, has been defeated at Benares. There is no difficulty, therefore, in our achieving success with the mutineers; but there is immense difficulty in re-establishing our authority throughout the country, and in protecting Europeans not belonging to the military in India. And that is only part of the difficulties with which we have to contend. We must reorganize our army. We have lost altogether an army of 70,000 or 80,000, and perhaps I might say of 90,000 men. The re-construction of that army is no trifle. And you will have to reorganize the whole of your Indian army, because what has taken place in Bengal must have affected the whole of your military establishments in India. But the most pressing difficulty is the re-framing of your Indian Government. I am not going to inquire into the causes of the disasters in India. I do not think that any one can prove that those disasters are 1620 owing exclusively to one cause. No man can deny that India has been misgoverned. There is no doubt whatever that with regard to the military establishments in India the Indian Government has been very careless. You have the best authority for that opinion. Every man connected with India will tell you that you must entirely reframe your government of India, and I believe that nothing that could be adopted would be so likely to strengthen your power in India as an immediate announcement that the Government in this country had come to the determination to assume, in the name of the Queen, the government of India. I know that is a matter which cannot be lightly carried into execution. Great consideration must precede an enactment to that effect. But eminent men engaged in the civil service, persons in the military service, whose opinions are entitled to great weight, and Europeans connected with India, but not with the public service, have expressed their opinion that if it were at once made known to the people of India that the government of that country was hereafter to be carried on directly for the Queen, the Government of India would stand in a much stronger position than it can be while carried on in the name of the Company. You have taught the Natives to look upon the Company as a company of merchants, and, although we know how mercantile adventure and wisdom have raised this country, they are not a people who understand these matters so well as we do. The name of the Queen would be a tower of strength to the Government of India. The people there see the Queen's regiments and the Company's regiments, and are aware of the precedence given to the former. They know that the Commander in Chief is always taken from the Queen's service and not from the Company's service. If the Government should neglect to make such an announcement as I have spoken of, it will undoubtedly be the duty of Parliament to take up the subject next Session. It is impossible it can rest where it is; and it is with the view of acquiring information, upon a small, certainly, but not on an unimportant point, that I have now risen to move for certain papers pursuant to notice. I am confident that the measures adopted by the Government are such as to meet the emergency. I think the news we have received this day is on the whole satisfactory. It is better than could have been anticipated. As 1621 far as we know, the armies of Bombay and Madras are loyal. If I understand the matter rightly, General Van Cortlandt has performed one of the most remarkable feats of military valour in helping to put down this mutiny, for with merely Native troops he has made a most rapid and successful march, everywhere dispersing the mutineers. There is another very important point which we should not lose sight of, and that is the disparity with respect to numbers between the mutineers and the Europeans in every case in which they have encountered each other; yet, in no one instance have the European troops been defeated. That of itself speaks enough as to the future results throughout the whole of the country. All the private letters that have been received from India, as well as the accounts that have been published, say that the mutineers have been dispirited by the unvarying success of the European troops. These are the reasons that induce me to believe that the measures adopted by the Government are sufficient for the occasion. I beg to move that there be laid before this House a Return of the Number of young Men sent from this Country with Appointments to the Covenanted Service of India in each year from the 1st January 1847 to the 1st January 1856.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
There is one observation of the noble Marquess in which I desire to express my entire concurrence. The noble Marquess stated that the Queen's name would be a tower of strength to the Government of India. That has long been my opinion, and I have frequently declared it in Parliament. I first came to that conclusion when I was in India, and I then made it known in the highest quarter to which it could be addressed. I confess it is to me a subject of satisfaction that we are at the end of the Session, for I am very much afraid that in the midst of the excitement which has been created upon this subject in this and in the other House, if we were at the commencement of a Session, Parliament might be disposed to adopt some ill considered measure with a view to effect a change in the administration of the Government of India. I do not think that a time of public danger is a convenient time for any alteration of that kind. But I believe that in any change which may hereafter be made, the first essentials are that India, however it may be practically administered here, should be governed 1622 there in the name of the Crown, and that under no circumstances should the Government here be committed to any member of Her Majesty's Administration without an Indian Council, of which I should wish that a considerable portion at least should be appointed by election. These I have always considered the two cardinal points on which any change in the Government of India should be made to rest. But I think it right at the same time to say that, whatever may be my opinion of the inherent faults in the present administration of the Government of India, I do not directly trace to it the disorder and the danger which now exist in that country. It may be right for us to make alterations with a view to obtain a security against the recurrence of such a calamity, but I do not see in recent events anything to impugn the present administrative system of India. The noble Marquess thinks that the present news is of a satisfactory character; and there I must say that I entirely differ from him. But I must add, that in the news we have received to-day there is nothing bad which might not have been expected from the last accounts that reached us. There is, however, one favourable circumstance, to which the noble Marquess has adverted, which we had no reason to expect, and that is the successful march of General Van Courtlandt. That march was attended with a most valuable result, inasmuch as it opened up the direct communication between Delhi and Lahore. In case of the rising of the waters any other communication than that between those important points would have become very difficult, and might have been almost impracticable.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Marquess, that the whole question of the Government of India must occupy the most deliberate consideration of the Government and of Parliament; but I totally differ from him if he thinks the present an opportune moment for entering upon this question. The noble Marquess has on previous occasions explained with great ability his objections to the present system of administering the Government of India; but I think there never was a less fitting moment than the present for discussing this question. Our first duty is to establish order and tranquillity, and we may then apply a remedy to any defects that may exist. I cannot conceive anything more pernicious, even if a case were made out 1623 against the Government of India, than that Parliament should rush into the subject under feelings of panic, and adopt changes to which it is impossible we can at present give fitting consideration. Whether the noble Marquess is right or not in saying that the Queen's name would be a tower of strength in the Government of India, it must be a source of weakness in India if, at a time of mutiny, it should go out that Parliament feels an utter want of confidence in the present mode of administering the Government of that country. I abstain, therefore, from entering upon the great questions of the administration of the Government of India and the re-organization of the army, and I think that the present is not the right time to discuss these topics. With regard to what has fallen from the noble Marquess as to the character of the news that has just arrived from India, I feel some little difficulty in referring to this subject, because there is on the one hand a disposition to blame the Government for undue levity and for treating this subject too lightly, and on the other hand it is said that it is their fixed policy to delude the public by a fancied security which the Government themselves do not entertain. I can assure your Lordships that the Government have truly stated to the public the impressions made upon their minds by the events that have occurred in India. We think that although there are still circumstances to cause us anxiety, yet that, on the whole, the news is as favourable as could be expected. I think there are several matters of great consolation in the news just received. It is no doubt a source of anxiety that this mutiny should have spread to other points and other regiments; but on the other hand it is most consolatory that, at the latest date, the armies of Madras and Bombay were perfectly faithful and firm. It is a comfort that the Punjab is quiet, and that the levies of the Punjab have acted admirably. It is a comfort that the Nizam is also firm and loyal, and that the lower provinces of Bengal are quiet. I attach great importance to the renewed confidence among the mercantile classes which has been manifested at the seat of Government. The Native bankers no doubt look sharply to the intelligence that arrives, and to the existing state of affairs, and it is a consolation to find that piece goods for the supply of the interior have fetched high prices, and have been bought to a large 1624 amount. With regard to the rumour which has been alluded to of a dreadful massacre having taken place at Cawnpore, owing to General Wheeler having been deluded by the assurances of a Native, I have every reason to believe that the whole of this story is a fabrication. I have seen a letter from Sir Patrick Grant, in which he states it to be his belief that the rumour is a complete fabrication; and I have also seen a letter from the son of a gentleman who, writing from his regiment between Cawnpore and Calcutta, and speaking of the great alarm which had been caused by this rumour, says that they had been reassured by the discovery that the story was the invention of a Sepoy, who was to be hanged in consequence of the fabrication. No doubt in such a time rumours will be rife, as well of disasters as of victory, and the premature report that Delhi had been taken is an illustration of the manner in which intelligence is fabricated in the present crisis. I do not wish to endeavour to diminish the horror of some of these massacres, which are most deeply to be deplored; but it is the opinion of the Government, in which I have no doubt your Lordships will concur, that, on the whole, the news from India just received is as satisfactory as could well have been expected.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
explained, that he had no wish that Parliament should undertake, at the present moment, the reconstruction of the government of India, He had only alluded to the matter as a fit subject for future consideration.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, he was glad to hear that confidence was returning at Calcutta, but he would have been more satisfied if the Governor General had made some communication with reference to the state of public affairs. It should be remembered, however, that he was entirely cut off from direct communication with Delhi, and that his only means of communication was through Lahore and Bombay. As an instance of the difficulty of obtaining correct information, he might state that he had received a letter, dated the 4th of July, stating that the opinion then was that Delhi had fallen on the 12th or 13th of June.