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[1858

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ment of that country shall be transferred to the Company under suitable provisions for the Nawab and his family.'

In 1831 Lord William Bentinck warned the King of Oudh that, unless he would consent to rule his territories in accordance with the principles of good government and the interest of the people, the East India Company would assume the entire administration of the province, and would make him a state prisoner.

In 1847 Lord Hardinge went in person to Lucknow and solemnly reiterated the warning, giving the King two years to reform his administration.

In 1851 Colonel Sleeman, the Resident at Lucknow, whose sympathy with the Rulers of Native States was thought to be even too great, and who was the last person to exaggerate the misrule existing in Oudh, reported to Lord Dalhousie that the state of things had become intolerable, and that, if our troops were withdrawn from Oudh, the landholders would in one month's time overrun the province and pillage Lucknow. It is true Sleeman, with his Native proclivities, did not contemplate annexation; his advice was to assume the administration,' but not to grasp the revenues of the country.' The same mode of procedure had been advocated by Henry Lawrence six years before in an article which appeared in the Calcutta Review. His words were: 'Let Oudh be at last governed, not for one man, the King, but for the King and his people. Let the administration of the country be Native; let not one rupee come into the Company's coffers.'

Sleeman was followed in 1854 by Colonel Outram, than whom he could not have had a more admirable successor, or one less likely to be unnecessarily hard upon a State which, with all its shortcomings, had been loyal to us for nearly a century. Colonel Outram, nevertheless, fully endorsed the views of his predecessor. General Low, the then Military Member of Council, who twenty years before, when Resident at Lucknow, had deprecated our assuming even temporarily the administration of Oudh, thinking our action would be misunderstood by the people, now also stated his conviction that it was the paramount duty of the British Government to interfere at once for the protection of the people of Oudh.'

In summing up the case, Lord Dalhousie laid three possible courses of action before the authorities in England. The King of Oudh might be forced to abdicate, his province being incorporated in the British dominions; or he might be maintained in his royal state as a subsidized Prince, the actual government being permanently transferred to the East India Company; or the transfer of the government to the East India Company might be for a limited period only. The GovernorGeneral recommended the second course, but the Court of Directors and Her Majesty's Ministers decided to adopt the first, and requested Lord Dalhousie to carry out the annexation before he resigned his office.

This measure, so long deferred and so carefully considered, could hardly, in my opinion, have been avoided by a civilized and civilizing Government. It was at last adopted with the utmost reluctance, and only after the experiment of administering a province for the benefit of the Natives, without annexing it, had been tried in the Punjab and had signally failed. To use Lord Dalhousie's words, it was amply justified on the ground that 'the British Government would be guilty in the sight of God and man if it were any longer to aid in sustaining by its countenance an administration fraught with suffering to millions.' But the Natives generally could not understand the necessity for the measure, or believe in the reasons which influenced us; many of them, therefore, considered it an unprovoked usurpation, and each Ruler of a Native State imagined that his turn might come next.

Thus, the annexation of Oudh in one sense augmented that weakness in our position as an eastern Power which, so to speak, had its source in our strength. So long as there was a balance of power between ourselves and Native States-Mahratta, Rajput, Sikh, or Mahomedan -they were prevented by their mutual jealousies and religious differences from combining against us; but when that balance was destroyed and we became the paramount Power in India, the period of danger to us began, as was prophesied by the far-seeing Malcolm in the early days of our first conquests. We had now become objects of suspicion and dread to all the lesser Powers, who were ready to sink their own disputes in the consideration of the best means to check the extension of our rule and overthrow our supremacy; while we, inflated by our power and satisfied with our apparent security, became more dogmatic and uncompromising in enforcing principles which, though sound and just in themselves, were antipathetic to Native ideas and traditions. By a great many acts and measures we made them feel how completely our ideas differed from theirs. They preferred their own, and strongly resented our increasing efforts to impose ours upon them. Even those amongst the Native Princes who were too enlightened to believe that we intended to force our religion upon them and change all their customs, felt that their power was now merely nominal, and that every substantial attribute of sovereignty would soon disappear if our notions of progress continued to be enforced.

At a time when throughout the country there existed these feelings of dissatisfaction and restless suspicion, it was not to be expected that the most discontented and unfriendly of the Native Rulers would not seize the opportunity to work us mischief. The most prominent of these amongst the Mahomedans were the royal family of Delhi and the ex-King of Oudh, and, amongst the Hindus, Dundu Pant, better known by English people as the 'Nana Sahib.'

All three considered themselves badly treated, and no doubt, from their point of view, their grievances were not altogether groundless.

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1858]

THE DELHI ROYAL FAMILY

237 The King of Oudh's I have already indicated, and when his province was annexed, he was removed to Calcutta. Having refused the yearly pension of twelve lakhs* of rupees offered to him, and declined to sign the treaty by which his territory was made over to the British Government, he sent his mother, his son, and his brother to England to plead his cause for him.

The most influential of the three discontented Rulers, or, at all events, the one whom the rebellious of all castes and religions were most inclined to put forward as their nominal leader, was the head of the Delhi royal family, by name Bahadur Shah. He was eighty years old in 1857, and had been on the throne for twenty years. His particular grievance lay in the fact of our decision that on his death the title of King, which we had bestowed on the successors of the Moghul Emperor, should be abolished, and his family removed from Delhi.

In the early part of the century Lord Wellesley pointed out the danger of allowing a Mahomedan Prince, with all the surroundings of royalty, to remain at the seat of the old Moghul government, but the question was allowed to remain in abeyance until 1849, when Lord Dalhousie reconsidered it, and obtained the sanction of the authorities in England to the removal of the Court from Delhi to a place about fourteen miles off, where the Kutub tower stands. At the same time the Heir Apparent was to be told that on his father's death the title of King of Delhi would cease.

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Lord Dalhousie had been only a short time in India when he took up this question, and he could not properly have appreciated the estimation in which the Natives held the King of Delhi, for he wrote in support of his proposals that the Princes of India and its people had become entirely indifferent to the condition of the King or his position.' But when the decision of the British Government on the subject reached India, he had been more than two years in the country, and although his views as to the desirability of the measure remained unchanged, the experience he had gained enabled him to gauge more accurately the feelings of the people, and, with the advice of his Council, he came to the conclusion that it would be wiser to let affairs remain in statu quo during Bahadur Shah's lifetime. The royal family were informed accordingly, and an agreement was drawn up, signed, sealed, and witnessed, by which the Heir Apparent accepted the conditions to be imposed upon him on the death of his father, who was to be allowed to remain in Delhi during his lifetime, with all the paraphernalia of royalty.

However satisfactory this arrangement might be to the Government of India, to every member of the Delhi royal family it must have seemed oppressive and humiliating to the last degree. Outwardly

* In those days £120,000.

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THE NANA SAHIB

239 and two from a Frenchman of the name of Lafont,* relating to some business with the French settlement of Chandernagore, with which he had been entrusted by Azimula Khan, acting for the Nana. Written, as these letters were, immediately before the Mutiny, in which the Nana was the leading spirit, it seems probable that 'les principales choses,' to which Lafont hopes to bring satisfactory answers, were invitations to the disaffected and disloyal in Calcutta, and perhaps the French settlers at Chandernagore, to assist in the effort about to be made to throw off the British yoke. A portion of the correspondence was unopened, and there were several letters in Azimula's own handwriting which had not been despatched. Two of these were to Omar Pasha at Constantinople, and told of the sepoys' discontent and the troubled state of India generally. That the Nana was intriguing with the King of Delhi, the Nawab of Oudh, and other great personages, has been proved beyond a doubt, although at the time he was looked upon by the British residents at Cawnpore as a perfectly harmless individual, in spite of its being known that he considered himself * ' Benares, 'April 4, 1857.

'MON CHER AZIMULA KHAN,

'Je suis parti de Cawnpore le premier du mois et suis arrivé ici ce matin, je partirai ce soir et serai à Chandernagore le 7 au matin, dans la journée je ferai une visite au Gouverneur et le lendemain irai à Calcutta, je verrai notre Consul Général. Ecrivez-moi et adressez-moi vos lettres, No. 123, Dhurumtollah. Je voudrais que vous puissiez m'envoyer des fonds au moins 5 ou 600 Rs. sans retard, car je ne resterai à Calcutta que le temps nécessaire pour tout arranger et le bien arranger. Je suppose 48 heures à Calcutta et deux ou trois jours au plus à Chandernagore, ne perdez pas de temps mais répondez de suite. Pour toutes les principales choses les réponses seraient satisfaisantes, soyez-en assuré.

Faites en sorte de me répondre sans délai afin que je ne sois pas retenu à Calcutta.

'Présentez mes compliments respectueux.

'Rappelez-moi au souvenir de Baba Sahib, et croyez moi,
'Votre bien dévoué

'A. LAFONT.

'Mon adresse à Chandernagore, "Care of Mesdames Albert." N.B.-Mais écrivez-moi à Calcutta, car je serai chaque jour là, en chemin de fer, je fais le trajet en 20 minutes. Si vous avez quelque chose de pressé à me communiquer vous le pouvez faire par télégraph en Anglais seulement.

'A. L.'

'Chandernagore,
'April 9, 1857,

'MON CHER AZIMULA KHAN, 'J'ai tout arrangé, j'apporterai une lettre, et elle sera satisfaisante cette lettre me sera donnée le 14 et le 15 je partirai pour Cawnpore. Mes respects à son Altesse.

'Votre tout dévoué

'A. LAFONT.'

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