*A JOURNEY THROUGH THE KINGDOM OF OUDE, IN 1849-1850; BY DIRECTION OF THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF DALHOUSIE, GOVERNOR-GENERAL.WITH PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE RELATIVE TO THE ANNEXATION OF OUDE TO BRITISH INDIA, &c.*
BY MAJOR-GENERAL SIR W. H. SLEEMAN, K.C.B., Resident at the Court of Lucknow.
In Two Volumes. London: Richard Bentley, Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty. 1858.
Sexual and dynastic politics in Avadh:
an excerpt from Sleeman's "Journey," part two--
the aftermath (1840's - early 1850's) and Sleeman's
own proposal for the governance of Avadh
FROM VOLUME TWO, continuing to the end of CHAPTER IV:
[PART ONE:] *Nuseer-od Deen Hyder's death—His repudiation of his son, Moonna Jan, leads to the succession of his uncle, Nuseer-od Dowlah—Contest for the succession between these two persons—The Resident supports the uncle; and the Padshah Begum supports the son—The ministers supposed to have poisoned the King* — [PART TWO:] Made to disgorge their ill-gotten wealth by his successor—Obligations of the treaty of 1801, by which Oude was divided into two equal shares—One transferred to the British Government, one reserved by Oude—Estimated value of each at the time of treaty—Present value of each—The sovereign often warned that unless he governs as he ought, the British Government cannot support him, but must interpose and take the administration upon itself—All such warnings have been utterly disregarded—No security to life or property in any part of Oude—Fifty years of experience has proved, that we cannot make the government of Oude fulfil its duties to its people—The alternative left appears to be to take the management upon ourselves, and give the surplus revenue to the sovereign and royal family of Oude—Probable effects of such a change on the feelings and interests of the people of Oude.
The Resident concluded, on good grounds, that the Government deemed a new and more stringent treaty indispensable for the better government of the country, and that advantage should be taken of the occasion to prepare the new King for it. Government desired that the negotiations for a new treaty should be based "upon reason and right, and not upon demand and submission." Had the declaration [described above] been allowed to stand good, there would have been right as well as reason in the treaty of 1837, which was soon after concluded.
The Resident intimated the receipt of these letters to the King, and on the 28th he waited on his Majesty, to present the Governor-General's letter. He found him sitting up in his bed in a small apartment in the baraduree, in his dishabille [=bedchamber attire], having spent a restless night from rheumatic pains; but he was cheerful and in good spirits, and requested the Resident to present his respectful compliments to the Governor-General, and grateful thanks for his consideration and congratulations. All his relations, the chief officers of the Government, and other persons of distinction about the Court, were assembled to hear the letters read, and make their offerings on this recognition of his authority by the paramount power.
The King assured the Resident "that the arrival of this recognition, and its public announcement, would greatly strengthen his hands in the exercise of public duties, for during the last few days bad reports had been industriously circulated by evil-disposed persons, to the effect that the delay in the recognition of his succession to the throne by the paramount power in India, had arisen from discussions between the members of the Government in Calcutta, as to the amount of money to be taken on the occasion from the new King, as the price of his sudden elevation; and that no letter was to be presented by the Resident until the money was paid, or security given for its punctual payment; that the Governor-General himself wanted two crores of rupees, but some members of the Government would be satisfied with a crore and half each, and others even with one crore each, provided that these sums were paid forthwith."
In relating this story, which the Resident had heard from many others within the last few days, the King observed, "that he was too well acquainted with the character for honour and justice of the Honourable Company's Government, to give the slightest credit to such scandal, the more especially since no demand of the kind had been made on the accession of either of the last two Kings, who were known to be rich, while he was equally well known to be poor; but that nothing but the arrival of this despatch confirming him on the throne, could convince many, even well-disposed persons, of the utter groundlessness of such wicked rumours; that many poor but respectable persons, who had been weak enough to believe such rumours, would feel much relieved when they heard the salutes which were now being fired, for they had apprehended that they might be severe sufferers by being compelled to contribute their own property, in order to enable him to make up the peshkush, or tribute, required by the British Government, since the late King had squandered the ten crores which he found in the treasury on the death of his father."
It is certain that a great portion of the population of Lucknow expected that some such demand would be made by the British Government from the new sovereign, since his right to the throne could be disputed, not only by Moonna Jan, the supposed son of the late King, but by the undoubted sons of Shums-od Dowlah, the elder brother of the present King, whose rights were barred only by that peculiar feature of the Mahommedan law elsewhere adverted to in this Diary. Every day of delay in promulgating the final orders of the Supreme Government, tended to add to this number [of suspicious people]; and by the time that these final orders came, by far the greater portion of the city were of the same opinion. The fears of the people tended to add to their numbers and give strength to the opinion, for all knew that there was but little left in the reserved treasury; that the expenses greatly exceeded the annual revenue; and that the troops and establishments were all greatly in arrear; and all believed that a general contribution would have to be levied to meet the demand when it came.*
[[* Nuseer-od Dowlah reigned under the title of Mahommed Allee Shah, from the 8th of July 1837 to the 16th of May 1842. Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, his predecessor, had reigned from the 20th of October 1827 to the 7th of July 1837. He, Nuseer-od Deen, found in the treasury, when he ascended the throne, ten crores of rupees, or ten millions sterling. He left in the treasury, when he died, only seventy lacs of rupees, including the fifty-three lacs left by the Kuduseea Begum. Mahommed Allee Shah left in the treasury thirty-five lacs of rupees, one hundred and twenty-four thousand gold mohurs; and twenty-four lacs in our Government securities. Amjud Allee Shah reigned from the 16th of May 1842,to the 13th of February 1847; and left in the treasury ninety-two lacs of rupees, one hundred and twenty-four thousand gold mohurs; and the twenty-four lacs in our Government securities. His son, Wajid Allee Shah, has reigned from the 13th of February 1847.]]The assertion on the part of the late King [Nuseer-od Deen] that he had ceased to cohabit with Afzul mahal, the mother of Moonna Jan, for two years, or even for six months, before his birth, is now known to have been utterly false; and [was] known at the time to be so by his mother the Padshah Begum, with whom they both lived. Afzul-mahal, though of humble birth and pretensions, maintained a fair reputation among those who knew her best in a profligate palace, and has continued to maintain the same up to the present day in adversity. In prison and up to the hour of her death, which took place some time after that of Moonna Jan himself, the old [Padshah] Begum declared that she had seen the boy born, and had never lost sight of him; and that the story of his not being the son of Nuseer-od Deen was got up to prevent her ever becoming reconciled to the King through the means of his son; and her extraordinary affection for him never diminished while he lived.
When she retired from the palace of Nuseer-od Deen to her new residence of Almas Bagh, she kept fast hold of the boy, and would never let him out of her sight till they entered the prison at Chunar, when they were obliged to occupy separate apartments. Up to his death she watched over him with the tenderest care; and always declared to the European officers placed over her, that the boy's father and mother always resided with her up to the time of his birth. The boy was remarkably like Nuseer-od Deen in form and features, as well as in temper and disposition.
Afzul-mahal was a person of great good sense and prudence, and in all things trusted by the old Begum; who before her death executed a formal will, leaving to her the charge of Moonna Jan's three children, and all the establishments; and since the death of the old lady she has executed the trust conscientiously and with great economy; and with much difficulty [has] managed to maintain all in respectability, upon the small stipend of three hundred rupees a month allowed for their support by the King of Oude.
In this she has been very much impeded and annoyed by the two slave-girls, the mothers of Moonna Jan's children, who have been always striving to get this stipend into their own hands, that they may share it with their paramours. At the death of the old lady [the Padshah Begum], most of her female companions and attendants refused to return to Lucknow, and remained at Chunar with Afzul-mahal and the children; and all have to be subsisted [=maintained] out of this small stipend. The slave-girls urge that they might have had separate pensions, had they obeyed the orders to return to Lucknow on the death of the Begum; and that they ought not now to share in the stipend of the children. Five or six of the females were ladies of rank, and one of them, who died lately, was a widow of [Nawab] Saadut Allee Khan [r.1798-1814].
This pension may be discontinued when the boys become of age, or appropriated by them and their mothers for their own exclusive use; and the Government of Oude should be required to assign pensions for life to Afzul mahal and the other females who are now supported from it.
The salary of the prime minister, during the five years that Roshun-od Dowlah held the office, was twenty-five thousand rupees a month, or three lacs a year; and over and above this, he had five per cent upon [=of] the actual revenue, which made above six lacs a year. His son, as Commander-in-Chief, drew five thousand rupees a month, though he did no duty—his first wife drew five thousand rupees a month, and his second wife drew three thousand rupees a month, total eighty-eight thousand rupees a month, or ten lacs and fifty-six thousand rupees a year. These were the avowed allowances which the family received from the public treasury. The perquisites of office gave them some five lacs of rupees a year more, making full fifteen lacs a year.
Roshun-od Dowlah held office for only three months under the new sovereign, Mahommed Allee Shah. He was then superseded by Hakeem Mahndee, thrown into prison, and made to pay twenty lacs to the treasury, and two lacs in gratuities to Court favourites. After paying these sums, he was permitted to go and reside at Cawnpore; but his houses in the city, valued at three lacs, were afterwards confiscated by the present King, on the ground of unpaid balances. He took into keeping Dulwee, the younger of the two sisters; but she was afterwards seduced away from him by one of his creatures, a consummate knave, Wasee Allee, whose wife she now is. Dhunneea, the eldest sister, is still residing at Lucknow. Roshun-od Dowlah's first wife took off with her more than three lacs of rupees in our Government securities; and his son, the Commander-in-Chief, took off eight lacs of rupees in the same securities. Roshun-od Dowlah carried off a large sum himself. She [=his first wife] and his son afterwards left him, and now reside in comfort upon the interest of these securities at Futtehgur, while he lives at Cawnpore in poor circumstances.
Sobhan Allee, his deputy, was made to pay to the treasury seven lacs of rupees, and in gratuities to court favourites five lacs more. Roshun-od Dowlah was one of the principal members of the old aristocracy of Lucknow, and connected remotely with the royal family; and he got off more easily in consequence, compared with his means, than his deputy, who had no such advantages, and was known to have been the minister's guide in all things, though he would never consent to hold any ostensible and responsible office.
Duljeet, a creature of Roshun-od Dowlah's and prime favourite of the late King [Nuseer-od Deen], carried off, while the King lay dead, money and jewels to the value of one lac of rupees, and concealed them in a vault at Constantia. His associates, not satisfied with what he gave them, betrayed him. The money and jewels were discovered and brought back, and he was made to pay another lac of rupees to the treasury as a fine. Dhunneea, the eldest of the two sisters, was made to disgorge two lacs of rupees. Many other favourites of the late King were fined in the same way.
The King [Nuseer-od Deen] had, in the case of Ghalib Jung, already described in this Diary, declared his resolution of looking more closely into his accounts in future, and punishing all transgressors in the same way; and Roshun-od Dowlah often expressed to the Resident his apprehensions that his turn to suffer must soon come. Sobhan Allee Khan had much stronger grounds to fear, since he had made himself utterly detested by the people generally, and had neither friends nor connexions in the royal family or aristocracy of Lucknow. Under the strong and general impression that the British Government was determined to interpose, and take upon itself the administration of the country, and that the King himself wished the independent sovereignty of Oude to terminate with his reign, they most earnestly desired his early death as their only chance of escape. The British Government would not, they knew, make them refund any of their ill-gotten wealth without full judicial proof of their peculations; and this proof they knew could never be obtained. Indeed they were satisfied that our Government, aware of the difficulty of finding such proof, and occupied in forming and working a new system, would not trouble themselves to seek for it; and that they should all be left to reside where they chose, and enjoy freely the fruits of their malversation.
The Resident had kept the instructions of the 15th of December 1832 from the supreme Government [about what to do if Nuseer-od Deen died] a profound secret, lest they might lead to intrigue and disturbance, and above all to the poisoning of many innocent persons who might be considered to have a claim of right to the throne; and all were surprised and confounded when it was announced that the paramount power had already decided in favour of Nuseer-od Dowlah, whose claims had never been thought of by the people, or apprehended by the ministers. The instant they heard this decision, they dreaded the scrutiny of the sagacious and parsimonious old man, and the enmity of the favourites by whom he had been surrounded in private life. These men, whom they had in their pride and power despised and insulted, would now have their revenge; and they wished for the success of the old woman [=the Padshah Begum] and the boy [=Moonna Jan], from whom they might have a better chance of escape, till they could get their wealth and their families out of the country.
I may here mention a similar repudiation of a supposed eldest son by the late King [Amjad Allee Shah]. Mostafa Allee was brought up in the palace as his eldest son, and on all occasions treated as such. [The then-King] Mahommed Allee Shah, the late King [Amjad Allee Shah]'s father, was always very fond of him, but shortly before his death he became angry with him for some outrages committed in the palace, and put him under restraint. The young man requested the late King, his supposed father, to mediate with his grandfather for his release. He refused to do so, and the young man drew his sword, and threatened to kill him. He was kept under more strict restraint till the grandfather died, and his father ascended the throne, on the 16th of May, 1842. The King [Amjad Allee Shah] then requested the Resident to assure the Governor-General that Mostafa Allee was not his son—that he was a year and a half old when his mother entered the palace. The Resident reported accordingly on the 26th of that month. The Governor-General required the statement to be made under the King's own sign and seal, and it was transmitted on the 6th of June 1842. The present King [Wajid Allee Shah] was then declared heir-apparent to the throne, and Mostafa Allee has ever since been in strict confinement under him. The general impression, however, is that he was the eldest son of the late King, and repudiated solely on account of his violent temper and turbulent conduct. That he was treated as such during the life of Mahommed Allee Shah, and that the late King dared not repudiate him while his father lived, is certain.
By the treaty of 1801 we bound ourselves to defend the territories of the sovereign of Oude from all foreign and domestic enemies; and to defray the cost of maintaining the troops required for this purpose, and paying some pensions at Furruckabad and Benares, the sovereign of Oude ceded to our Government the under-mentioned districts, then yielding the revenues specified opposite their respective names.
Districts ceded by Oude to the British Government by the treaty of 1801
The lands are the same with the exception of Khyreegurh, Nawabgunge ceded since, and Handeea received; but the names are altered. Khyreegurh and Kunchunpore were re-ceded to the Oude sovereign in the treaty of the 11th of May 1816, with the Turae lands taken from Nepaul between Khyreegurh and Goruckpore, in liquidation of the loan of one crore of rupees. In the same treaty, Handeea (alias Kewae) was ceded by Oude to the British Government, in lieu of Nawabgunge, which was made over to the Oude sovereign by the British Government. Handeea, or Kewae, now in the Allahabad district, yielded land revenue, for 1846-47, [of] rupees one lac, fifty-two thousand, and nine hundred and five.
The British Government retained the power to station the British troops in such parts of the Oude territories as might appear to it most expedient; and the Oude sovereign bound himself to dismiss all his troops, save four battalions of infantry, one battalion of Nujeebs and Mewaties, two thousand horsemen, and three hundred golundages, or artillerymen, with such numbers of armed peons as might be deemed necessary for the purpose of collecting the revenue, and a few horsemen and nujeebs to attend the persons of the amils. It is declared that the territories ceded, being in lieu of all former subsidies and of all expenses on account of the Honourable Company's defensive establishments with his Excellency the sovereign of Oude, no demand whatever shall be made upon his territory on account of expenses which the Honourable Company may incur by assembling forces to repel the attack, or menaced attack, of a foreign enemy; on account of the detachment attached to his person; on account of troops which may be occasionally furnished for suppressing rebellions or disorders in his territories; on account of any future charge of military stations; or on account of failures in the resources of the ceded districts, arising from unfavourable seasons, the calamities of war, or any other cause whatever.
The Honourable Company guarantees to him and to his heirs and successors, the possession of the territories which remain to him after the above cessions, together with the exercise of his and their authority within the said dominions; and the sovereign of Oude engages to establish, in his reserved dominions, such a system of administration, to be carried into effect by his own officers, as shall be conducive to the prosperity of his subjects, and calculated to secure the lives and property of the inhabitants; and to advise with, and act in conformity to the counsel of, the officers of the British Government.
In the time of Asuf-od Dowlah, who died on the 21st September 1797, the military force of Oude amounted to eighty thousand men of all arms, and in the direct pay of Government. Saadut Allee Khan, his brother and successor, on the conclusion of the above treaty, and the transfer of half his territory, reduced the number to thirty thousand.
Relying entirely upon the efficiency of British troops to defend him against external and internal enemies, and to suppress rebellion and disorder, he laboured assiduously to reduce his expenditure within the income arising from the reserved half of his dominions. He resumed almost all the rent-free lands which had been granted with a lavish hand by his predecessor, and paid off and discharged all superfluous civil and military establishments; and by his prudence and economy, he so reduced his expenditure within the income, that on his death on the 12th of July 1814, he left fourteen millions sterling, or fourteen crores of rupees, in a treasury which he found empty when he entered upon the government in 1797. In this sum were included the confiscations of the estates of some favourites of his predecessors, Asuf-od Dowlah and Wuzeer Allee, who had grown rich upon bribery and frauds of all kinds. He never confiscated the estates of any good and faithful servants, who left lawful heirs to their property.
He had been freely aided by British troops, according to the stipulations of the treaty of 1801; but the British Government had been made sensible, on several occasions, of the difficulty of fulfilling its engagements with the sovereign with a due regard to the rights and interests of his subjects. Saadut Allee Khan was a man of great general ability, had mixed much in the society of British officers in different parts of India, had been well trained to habits of business, understood thoroughly the character, institutions, and requirements of his people; and above all, was a sound judge of the relative merits and capacities of the men from whom he had to select his officers, and a vigilant supervisor of their actions. This discernment and discrimination of character, and vigilant supervision, served him through life; and the men who served him ably and honestly always felt confident in his protection and support.
He had a thorough knowledge of the rights and duties of his officers and subjects, and a strong will to secure the one and enforce the other. To do so he knew that he must, with a strong hand, keep down the large landed aristocracy; who were then, as they are now, very prone to grasp at the possessions of their weaker neighbours, either by force or in collusion with local authorities. In attempting this with the aid of British troops, some acts of oppression were, no doubt, committed; and as the sympathies of British officers were more with the landed aristocracy, while his were more with the humbler classes of landholders and cultivators who required to be protected from them, frequent misunderstandings arose; acts of just severity were made to appear to be acts of wanton oppression; and such as were really oppressive were exaggerated into unheard-of atrocities.
Our relations with the state of Oude, from the treaty of 1801 to the death of Saadut Allee, were conducted by able men; but they had a very difficult task to perform in conducting them to the satisfaction of both parties to that treaty; and when the Government devolved upon less able and well-disposed sovereigns, ministers, and public officers, our Government and its representative became less and less willing to comply with their requisitions for the aid of British troops in the collection of the revenue, and the suppression of rebellion and disorder. Our Government demanded that the British Resident should be fully informed of the cause which led to the resistance complained of to legitimate authority; and [should] be fully satisfied of the justice and necessity of such aid before he afforded it; and the sovereigns of Oude admitted the justice of this demand on the part of the paramount power. But the Resident could never hear fully and fairly both sides of the question, and the officers commanding the troops were seldom disposed to do so; and neither was competent to pass a sound judgment upon the justice and necessity of complying with the requisitions made for the aid of the British troops.
But when under an imbecile and debauched sovereign like Ghazee-od Deen, and an unscrupulous minister, creatures and favourites began to share so largely in the revenues of the country, this sort of scrutiny on the part of the Resident and officers commanding troops employed in aid of the King's officers, became exceedingly distasteful; and the minister gradually increased the military force of Oude at his disposal, that he might do without it [=the scrutiny]. During the last few years of Ghazee-od Deen's reign, the Oude forces of all arms amounted to about sixty thousand men. During the first few years of his successor Nuseer-od Deen's reign, these forces were augmented by the ministers for the sake of the profit and patronage they gave them; and in the year 1837, the forces of all arms, paid from the treasury, amounted to more than sixty thousand men. A memorandum given to the British Resident by the minister on the 8th of April 1837, showed the men of all descriptions, belonging to the Oude army, to amount to sixty-seven thousand nine hundred and fifty-six. The artillery, cavalry, and infantry, composing what they call the regular army, amounted to twenty thousand, all badly paid, clothed, armed, accoutred, and disciplined; and for the most part placed under idle, incompetent, and corrupt commanders. The rest were nujeebs employed in the provinces under local officers of the revenue and police, and obliged to provide their own clothes, arms, accoutrements, and ammunition. They were altogether without discipline.
Government on the 26th November 1824 informs the Resident, "that our troops are to be actively and energetically employed in the Oude territory in cases of real internal commotion and disorder." And again on the 22nd of July 1825, Government condemns the Resident for his disregard of the orders of the 26th of November,1824, regarding the employment of British troops in Oude, and states, "that it is sincerely disposed to maintain the rights of the King of Oude to the fullest extent, as guaranteed to him by the treaty with his father, on the 20th of November 1801; but observes that upon the maturest consideration of articles 3rd, 5th, and 6th of that treaty, and of Lord Wellesley's memorandum in 1802, of the final results of discussions between him and Saadut Allee, whilst Government admits that according to article the 3rd of the treaty, we were bound to defend his Majesty's present territories 'against all foreign and domestic enemies,' and that, in pursuance of the 4th article, the Company's troops are to be employed, without expense to his Majesty, not only 'to repel the attack, or menaced attack, of a foreign enemy,' but also for suppressing rebellion and disorder in his Majesty's territories; and that, in a strict adherence to the 6th article, the King of Oude is entitled to exercise complete sovereign authority within his own dominions, by a system of administration conducive to the prosperity of his subjects, to be carried into effect by his own officers, with the advice and counsel of the officers of the British Government (in conformity to which his Majesty is expressly engaged to act); yet the Governor-General in Council considered it to be indispensable and inherent in the nature of our obligations, under the treaty referred to, that whenever the King of Oude requires the aid of British troops, to quell any disturbance, or to enforce any demand for revenue or otherwise, the British Government is clearly entitled, as well as morally obliged, to satisfy itself by whatever means it may deem necessary, that the aid of its troops is required in support of right and justice, and not to effectuate injustice and extortion.
"This principle, which has often been declared and acted upon daring successive Governments, must still be firmly asserted, and resolutely adhered to; and the Resident must consider it to be a positive and indispensable obligation of his public duty, to refuse the aid of British troops until he shall have satisfied himself, on good and sufficient grounds (to be reported in each case as soon as practicable; and when the exigency of the case may admit of it, before the troops are actually employed), that they are not to be employed but in support of just and legitimate demands."
On the 13th of July 1827 Government, in reply to the Resident's letter of the 30th May 1827, expresses "its surprise that, under the circumstances therein stated, he should have suffered so long a period to elapse without adopting the most active and decided measures against a subject of Oude whose conduct is that of a public robber and rebel against the authority of his Government; and whom the King has plainly stated that he is unable to reduce to subjection without the aid of British troops."
On the 20th of January 1831, the Governor-General, Lord William Bentinck, held a conference with the King of Oude, and told his Majesty, in [the] presence of his minister, that the state of things in Oude, and maladministration in all departments, were such as to warrant and require the authoritative interference of the British Government for their correction; that he declined to make himself a party to the nomination of the minister, or to have it understood that the measure was a joint resolution of the two governments, so that both should be responsible for its success in effecting reformation; that the act was his Majesty's own, and the responsibility must be his; that his Lordship hoped that a better system would be established by his minister's agency, but if he failed, and the same abuses and misrule continued, the King must be prepared to abide the consequences; that the Governor-General intended to make a strong representation to the authorities in England on the state of misrule prevailing; and to solicit their sanction to the adoption of specific measures, even to the length of assuming the direct administration of the country, if the evils were not corrected in the interim.
In the letter from Government dated the 25th of August 1831, referring to this advice, the Resident is told that by treaty we are bound to give the aid of troops to quell internal resistance, as well as to keep off external enemies, but by the same treaty the Oude Government is bound to establish a good system of administration, and to conform to our advice in this respect; that finding it impossible to procure the establishment of such an improved system, and seeing that our troops were liable to be made the instruments of violence, and vindictive and party proceedings, it was determined to withhold the aid of troops except after investigation into the cause which might lead to the application for them; that by recent orders from the Court of Directors, the Government would be authorised in withholding them altogether, in the hope that the necessities of the Oude Government might compel a reform such as we might deem satisfactory; that matters had not, however, been brought to such an issue, for the Oude Government, having been deprived of the services of British troops to execute its purposes, has entertained a body stated at sixty thousand men, cavalry, infantry, and artillery, whereof forty-five thousand are stationed in the interior for the special purpose of reducing refractory zumeendars without British aid. Government urges the necessity of reducing this number, and states that if British troops be employed to enforce submission, it seems impossible to avoid becoming parties to the terms of submission, and guarantees of their observance afterwards on both sides, in which case we should become mixed up in every detail of the administration; it is therefore required that each case shall be investigated and submitted for the specific orders of the Governor-General.
On the 15th of August 1832, the Governor-General addressed a letter to his Majesty, the King of Oude, in the last sentence of which he says, "I do not use this strong language of remonstrance without manifest necessity. On former occasions the language of expostulation has been frequently used towards you with reference to the abuses of your Government, and as yet nothing serious has befallen you. I beseech you, however, not to suffer yourself to be deceived into a false security. I might adduce sufficient proof that such security would be fallacious, but I am unwilling to wound your Majesty's feelings, while the sincere friendship which I entertain for you prevents my withholding from you that advice which I deem essential to the preservation of your own dignity, and the prosperity of your kingdom."
The Resident is told that the allusion in the concluding sentence of his Lordship's letter refers to Mysore; that the King had probably heard of our actual assumption of the government of that country, and the Resident must avail himself of this topic to impress upon his mind the consequences which a similar state of things may entail upon himself.
On the 11th of September 1837, a subsidiary-treaty was concluded with the new sovereign, Mahommed Allee Shah, on the ground that though a larger force was kept up by the King of Oude than was authorised by the treaty of 1801, still it was found inadequate to the duties that devolved upon it, and it was therefore expedient to relax the restrictions as to the amount of military force to be maintained by the King of Oude, on condition that an adequate portion of the increased forces should be placed under British discipline and control. It was stipulated accordingly that the King might employ such a military establishment as he might deem necessary for the government of his dominion: that it should consist of not less than two regiments of cavalry, five of infantry, and two companies of artillery; that the Government of Oude should fix the sum of sixteen lacs of rupees a year for the expenses of the force, including their pay, arms, equipments, public buildings, &c.; that the expenditure on account of this force of all descriptions should never exceed sixteen lacs; that the organization of this force should not commence till eighteen months after the 1st of September, 1837; that the King should take into his service a sufficient number of British officers for the due discipline and efficiency of this force; that this force should be fixed at such stations in Oude as might seem to both Governments, from time to time, to be best, and employed on all occasions on which its services might be deemed necessary by the King of Oude, with the concurrence of the Resident, but not in the ordinary collections of the revenue; that the King should exert himself, in concert with the Resident, to remedy the existing defects in his administration; and should he neglect to attend to the advice and counsel of the British Government or its representative, and should gross and systematic oppression, anarchy, and misrule at any time hereafter prevail within the Oude territories, such as seriously to endanger the public tranquillity, the British Government would have the right to appoint its own officers to the management of all portions of the Oude territory in which such misrule might have occurred for so long a period as it might deem necessary, the surplus receipts in such case, after defraying all charges, to be paid into the King's treasury, and a true and faithful account rendered to his Majesty of the receipts and expenditure of the territories so assumed; that should the Governor-General of India in Council be compelled to resort to the exercise of this authority, he would endeavour, as far as possible, to maintain (with such improvements as they might admit of) the native institutions and forms of administration within the assumed territories, so as to facilitate the restoration of those territories to the sovereign of Oude when the proper period of such restoration should arrive.
This treaty was ratified by the Governor-General in Council on the 18th of September 1837, but the Honourable the Court of Directors, with that anxious regard for strict justice which, after long and varied experience, I have always found to characterise their views and orders, disapproved of that part of the above treaty which imposed on the Oude state the expense of the auxiliary force; and on the 8th of July 1839, the King was informed, amidst great rejoicings, that he was relieved from this burden of sixteen lacs of rupees a year, which the British Government took upon itself. Only part of this auxiliary force had been raised when these orders came; and only two regiments of infantry out of that part were retained, one stationed at Soltanpore, and the other at Seetapore.
Up to 1835, the British forces in Oude amounted to two companies of artillery, with fourteen guns, and six regiments of infantry. Early in that year (1835), four guns, with a proportion of artillerymen, and one regiment of Native Infantry, were withdrawn, leaving the British force in Oude one company and a half of artillery, with ten guns, and five regiments of Native Infantry. In 1837, when two infantry regiments of the auxiliary force had been raised, four guns more, with a detail of artillery, and two regiments more of Native Infantry, were withdrawn from the two stations of Soltanpore and Seetapore, leaving the force paid by the British Government one company of artillery, with six guns, stationed at Lucknow; three regiments of Native Infantry at Lucknow; one regiment of the Oude auxiliary force stationed at Soltanpore; and the other at Seetapore. There had been artillery and guns at Pertabgur, Soltanpore, Secrora, and Seetapore, and a regiment of regular cavalry at Pertabgur. In 1815 this regiment of cavalry was withdrawn for the Nepaul war, and subsequently it was retained for the Mahratta war. It was sent back to Pertabgur in 1820, but finally withdrawn in 1821. The British Government now maintains no cavalry in any part of the King of Oude's dominions, and no artillery or guns at any place but Lucknow.*
[[* There is a small detachment of thirty sowars from an irregular corps attached to the Resident.]]In fairness there should be guns at Seetapore and Soltanpore, and a corps of regular or irregular cavalry at Lucknow, or some other more convenient station. The stations of Secrora and Pertabgur were done away with by general orders, 28th January 1835, when one regiment of Native Infantry was withdrawn altogether from Oude, and one added to the two theretofore stationed at Lucknow. In consequence of these arrangements, the British force in Oude is much less than it was when the treaty of the 11th of September 1837 was made, and assuredly less than it should be with a due regard to our engagements and the Oude requirements. Our Government, instead of taking upon itself the additional burden of sixteen lacs of rupees a year to render the Oude Government more efficient, has relieved itself of a good deal of that [burden] which it bore before the new treaty was entered into, and this is certainly not what the Court of Directors contemplated, or the Oude Government expected.
Our exigencies became great with the Affghan war, and have continued to be so from those wars which grew out of it with Gwalior, Scinde, and the Punjab; but they have all now passed away, and those of our humble ally should be no longer forgotten or disregarded. Though we seldom give him the use of troops in support of the authority of his local officers, still the prestige of having them at hand, in support of a just cause, is unquestionably of great advantage to him and to his people, and this advantage we cannot withhold from him, with a due regard to the obligations of solemn treaties.
But in considering the rights which the sovereign of Oude has acquired by solemn treaties to our support, we must not forget those which the five millions of people subject to his rule have acquired by the same treaties to the protection of our Government; and it is a grave question that must soon be solved, whether we can any longer support the present sovereign and system of government in Oude, without subjecting ourselves to the reproach of shamefully neglecting the duties we owe to these millions.
The present King [Wajid Allee Shah] ascended the throne on the death of his father, on the 13th of February 1847. In a letter dated the 24th of July of that year, the Resident is told "that it will be his Majesty's duty to establish such an administration, to be carried out by his own officers, as shall insure the prosperity of the people; that any neglect of this essential principle will be an infringement of treaty; and that the Governor-General must, in the performance of his duty, require the King to fulfil his obligations to his subjects—that his Majesty must understand that, as a sovereign, he has duties to perform to [=toward], as well as claims to exact from, the people committed to his care."
In the month of November in that year, the Governor-General. Lord Hardinge visited Lucknow; and in a conference held with the King, he caused a memorandum which he had drawn up for the occasion to be read and carefully explained to his Majesty. It stated, "that in all our engagements the utmost care had always been taken, not only to uphold the authority of native rulers, but also to secure the just rights of the people subject to their rule; that the same principle is maintained in the treaty of 1801 with Oude, in the sixth paragraph of which the engagement is entered into 'for the establishment of such a system of government as shall be conducive to the prosperity of the King's subjects, and calculated to secure to them their lives and properties;' that in the memorandum of 1802, signed by the Governor-General, the King engages to establish judicial tribunals for the free and pure administration of justice to all his subjects; and that it is recorded in the sovereign's own hand in that document, 'let the Company's officers assist in enforcing obedience to these tribunals;' that it is, therefore, evident that in all these stipulations the same principle prevailed—namely, that while we engage to maintain the prince in the full exercise of his powers, we also provide for the protection of his people.
"That, in the more recent treaty of 1837, it is stated that the solemn and paramount obligation provided by treaty for the prosperity of his Majesty's subjects, and the security of the lives and property of the inhabitants, has been notoriously neglected by several successive rulers in Oude, thereby exposing the British Government to the reproach of having imperfectly fulfilled its obligations towards the Oude people; that his Lordship alludes to the treaty of 1837, as confirming the original treaty of 1801, and not only giving the British Government the right to interfere, but declaring it to be the intention of the Government to interfere if necessary, for the purpose of securing good government in Oude; that the King can, therefore, have no doubt that the Governor-General is not only justified, but bound by his duty, to take care that the stipulations provided by treaty shall be fairly and substantially carried into effect; that if the Governor-General permits the continuation of any flagrant system of mismanagement which by treaty he is empowered to correct, he becomes the participator in abuses which it is his duty to redress; and in this case no ruler of Oude can expect the Governor-General to incur a responsibility so repugnant to the principles of the British Government, and so odious to the feelings of the British people.
"That, in the discussion of this important subject, advice and remonstrance have been frequently tried, and have failed; that the Governor-General hopes that the King will exercise a sounder judgment than those who have preceded him, and that he [=the Governor-General] will not be compelled to exchange friendly advice for imperative and absolute interference; that when the Governor-General Lord William Bentinck had a conference with the former King Nuseer-od Deen Hyder on this subject, on the 20th of January 1831, he deemed it right frankly to inform him that if the warning which he then gave was disregarded by his Majesty, it was his intention to submit to the home authorities his advice that the British Government should assume the direct management of the Oude dominions; that the Honourable the Court of Directors coincided in his Lordship's views; and, in order that no doubt may remain on the King's mind as to the sentiments of the home authorities on this point, he, Lord Hardinge, here inserts an extract from the despatch of that Court, for his information; that it is as follows:— 'We have, after the most serious consideration, come to the determination of granting to you the discretionary power which you have requested from us, for placing the Oude territories under the direct management of officers of the British Government; and you are hereby empowered, if no real and satisfactory improvement shall have taken place in the administration of that country, and if your Government shall still adhere to the opinion expressed in the minute of the Governor-General, to carry the proposed measure into effect, at such period and in such manner as shall appear to you most desirable'; that this resolution was communicated to the Resident and to the King, and advantage was taken of it to press upon his Majesty the necessity of an immediate reform of his administration; that the above extract will enable the King to form a clear judgment of the position in which the sovereigns of Oude are placed by treaty; that the Governor-General is required, when gross and systematic abuses prevail, to apply such a remedy as the exigency of the case may appear to require—that he has no option in the performance of that duty.
"That by wisely taking timely measures for the reformation of abuses, as one of the first acts of his reign, his Majesty will, with honour to his own character, rescue his people from their present miserable condition; but if he procrastinates he will incur the risk of forcing the British Government to interfere, by assuming the government of Oude; that the former course would redound to his Majesty's credit and dignity, while the latter would give the British Government concern in the case of a prince whom, as our ally, we sincerely desire to honour and uphold; that for these reasons, and on account of the King's inexperience, the Governor-General is not disposed to act immediately on the power vested in him by the Honourable Court's despatch above quoted; still less is he disposed to hold him responsible for the misrule of his predecessors; nor does he expect that so inveterate a system of misgovernment can suddenly be eradicated; that the resolution, and the preliminary measures 'to effect this purpose', can and ought at once to be adopted by the King; that if his Majesty cordially enters into the plan suggested by the Governor-General for the improvement of his administration, he may have the satisfaction, within the period specified of two years, of checking and eradicating the worst abuses; and at the same time, of maintaining his own sovereignty and the native institutions of his kingdom unimpaired; but if he does not, if he takes a vacillating course, and fail by refusing to act on the Governor-General's advice, he is aware of the other alternative and of the consequences. It must, then, be manifest to the whole world that, whatever may happen, the King has received a friendly and timely warning."
On the 24th of December in that year, 1847, Government, in reply to the Resident's letter of the 30th November, states that it does not consider the King's reply in any respect satisfactory; that the Resident is to remind his Majesty that under paragraph the 23rd of the memorandum read out to him by the Governor-General's direction, the Resident has been required to submit periodical reports of the state of his dominions, and that his Majesty must be fully aware of the responsibility he incurs if he neglects, during the interval allowed him, to introduce the requisite reforms in his administration.
More than two years have elapsed since this caution was given, and the King has done nothing to improve his administration, abstained from no personal indulgence, given no attention whatever to public affairs. He had before that time tried to imitate his father, attend a little to public affairs, and see occasionally the members of the royal family and aristocracy, at least of the city, and heads of departments; but the effort was painful, and soon ceased altogether to be made. He had from boyhood mixed in no other society than that in which he now mixes exclusively, and he will never submit to the restraints of any other. The King has utterly disregarded alike the Governor-General's advice and admonitions; the duties and responsibilities of his high office; and the sufferings of the many millions subject to his rule. His time and attention are devoted entirely to the pursuit of personal gratifications; he associates with none but such as those who contribute to such gratifications—women, singers, and eunuchs; and he never, I believe, reads or hears read any petition from his suffering subjects, any report from his local officers civil or military, or presidents of his fiscal and judicial courts, or functionaries of any hind. He seems to take no interest whatever in public affairs, and to care nothing whatever about them.
The King had natural capacity equal to that of any of those who have preceded him in the sovereignty of Oude since the death of Saadut Allee in 1814, but he is the only one who has systematically declined to devote any of that capacity, or any of his time, to the conduct of public affairs; to see and occasionally commune with the heads of departments, the members of the royal family, and native gentlemen of the capital; to read or have read to him the reports of his local functionaries, and petitions for redress of wrongs from his suffering subjects.*
[[*This systematic disregard of his high duties and responsibilities still continues to be manifested by the King of Oude; and is observed with feelings of indignation and abhorrence by his well-disposed subjects of all classes and grades, who are thereby left to the mercy of men without any feeling of security in their tenure of office, any scruples of conscience, or feelings of humanity or of honour. So inveterate is the system of misgovernment—so deeply are all those now employed in the administration, interested in maintaining its worst abuses—and so fruitless is it to expect the King to remove them, or employ better men, or to be ever able to inspire any men whom he may appoint, with a disposition to serve him more honestly, and to respect the rights of others, or consider the reputation and permanent interests of their own master, that the impression has become strong and general, that our Government can no longer support the present Government of Oude, without seriously neglecting its duty towards the people.—1851, W. H. S.]]In the reports of the Resident on the state of affairs in Oude, and the replies of Government, much importance has been always attached to the change from the contract, or ijara system, to that of the amanee, or trust management system; and since the time of Lord Hardinge's visit many more districts have been put under the latter system; but this has not tended in the smallest degree to the benefit of the people of these districts. The same abuses prevail under the one system as under the other. The troops employed in the districts under the one are the same as those employed in the districts under the other, and they prey just as much upon the people. There is the same system of rack-rent in the one as in the other, and the same uncertainty in the rate of the Government demand. The manager under the amanut system demands the same secret gratuities and nuzuranas for himself and his patrons at Court from the landholders, as the contractor; and if they refuse to pay them they are besieged, attacked, and cut up, and their estates desolated, in the same manner. The amanut manager knows that his tenure of office depends as much upon the amount which he pays to his sovereign, and to his patrons at Court, as that of the contractor; and he exacts and extorts as much as he can in the same manner. Unless he pays his patrons the same he knows that he shall soon be removed, or driven to resign by the want of means to enforce the payment of the revenues justly due.
The objections which are urged against the employment of British troops in support of the authority of revenue contractors, are equally applicable to their employment in support of that of amanee managers. Their employment is just as liable to abuse under the one as under the other. It is not a whit easier to ascertain whether a demand for balance of revenue from, or a charge of contumacy against, a landholder is just or unjust in the one, than in the other. In neither is the demand set forth in public documents understood by either party to be the real demand. Both parties are equally interested in preventing a portion of the real demand from appearing in the public accounts; and the quarrel is almost always about the rate of this concealed portion—the collector trying to augment, and the landlord trying to reduce it.
In a letter to the Resident, dated the 29th of March 1823, Government observes: "As some palliation of the mischief of our forces being constantly employed in what might be too often termed the cause of injustice and extortion, the Government in 1811 distinctly declared our right of previously investigating, and of arbitrating, the demands which its troops might be called upon to support; as also its resolution to exercise that right on all future occasions. The execution of the important duty in question seems to be almost invariably delegated by the Resident to the officers commanding at the different stations, who, after receiving general powers to attend to the requisitions of the amils, become the sole judges of the individual cases in which aid is to be afforded or withheld; and the discretion again unavoidably descends from them, in many instances, to the officers commanding parties detached from the main body. It is obvious that an inquiry of this description can afford [=provide] but a partial check to, and a feeble security against, injustice and oppression where specific engagements rarely exist, and where the point at issue is frequently the demand for augmenting rates of revenue, founded on alleged assets sufficient to meet that increase.
"Neither is the aid thus afforded at all effectual for the purposes of the Government of Oude, whether present or future, as is clear from the annual repetition of the same scenes of resistance and compulsion. As fast as disorders are suppressed in one quarter, they spring up in another. Forts that are this year dismantled are restored again the next; the compulsion exercised upon particular individuals in one season has no effect in producing more regularity on their parts, or on that of others in the ensuing season, until the same process has been again gone through; whilst the contempt and odium attaching to a system of collecting the revenues by the habitual intervention of the troops of another State, infallibly tend to aggravate the evil, by destroying all remains of confidence in his Majesty, or respect for his authority."
The aid of British troops in the collection of the revenues of Oude has long ceased to be afforded; but when they have been afforded for the suppression of leaders of atrocious bands of robbers, who preyed upon the people, and seized upon the lands of their weaker neighbours, and they [=the robbers] have been driven from their forts and strongholds, the privilege of building them up again, or re-occupying and garrisoning them with the same bands of robbers to be employed in the same way, is purchased from the local authorities, or the patrons of these leaders at Court, during the same or the succeeding season. The same things continue to be done every season where no British troops are employed. Such privileges are purchased with as much facility as those for the supply of essence or spices in the palace; unless the Resident should interpose authoritatively to prevent it, which he very rarely does. Indeed it is seldom that a Resident knows or cares anything about the matter.
I may say generally, that in Oude the larger landholders do not pay more than one-third of their net rents to the Government, while some of them do not pay one-fifth or one-tenth. In the half of the territory made over to us in 1801, the great landholders who still retain their estates pay to our Government at least two-thirds of their net rents. In Oude these great landholders have, at present, about two hundred and fifty mud forts, mounting about five hundred guns, and containing on an average four hundred armed men, or a total of one hundred thousand, trained and maintained to fight against [each] other, or against the Government authorities, and to pillage the peaceful and industrious around whenever so employed. In the half of the territory ceded to us in 1801, this class of armed retainers has disappeared altogether. Hence from the Oude half we have some fifty thousand native officers and sipahees in our native army, while from our half we have not perhaps five thousand.
One thing is clear, that we cannot restore to the Oude Government the territory we acquired from it by the treaty of 1801, and the people who occupy it; and that we cannot withdraw our support from that Government altogether without doing so. It is no less clear that all our efforts to make the Government of Oude, under the support which we are bound by that treaty to give it, fulfil the duties to its people to which it was pledged by that treaty, have failed during the fifty years that have elapsed since it was made.
The only alternative left, appears to be for the paramount power to take upon itself the administration, and give to the sovereign, the royal family, and its stipendiary dependents, all the surplus revenues in pensions, opening as much as possible all employments in the civil administration to the educated classes of Oude. The military and police establishments would consist almost exclusively of Oude men. Under such a system more of these classes would be employed than at present, for few of the officers employed in the administration are of these classes—the greater part of them are adventurers from all parts of India, without character or education. The number of such officers would be multiplied fourfold, and the means of paying them would be taken from the favourites and parasites of the Court who now do nothing but mischief.
Such a change would be popular among the members of the royal family itself, who now get their pensions after long intervals—often after two and even three years, and with shameful reductions in behalf of those favourites and parasites whom they detest and despise, but whom the minister, for his own personal purposes, is obliged to conciliate by such perquisites. It would be popular among the educated classes, as opening to them offices now filled by knaves and vagabonds from all parts of India. It would be no less so to the well-disposed portion of the agricultural classes, who would be sure of protection to life, property, and character, without the expensive trains of armed followers which they now keep up. But to secure this, we should require to provide them with a more simple system of civil judicature than that which we have at work in our old territories.
The change would be popular, with few exceptions, among all the mercantile and manufacturing classes. It would give vast employment to all the labouring classes throughout the country, in the construction of good roads, bridges, wells, tanks, temples, suraes, military and civil buildings, and other public works; but above all, in that of private dwellings, and other edifices for use and ornament, in which all men would be proud to lay out their wealth to perpetuate their names, when secured in the possession by an honest and efficient Government; but more especially those who would be no longer able to employ their means in maintaining armed bands, to resist the local authorities and disturb the peace of the country. On the whole, I think that at least nine-tenths of the people of Oude would hail the change as a great blessing; always providing that our system of administration should be rendered as simple as possible, to meet the wants and wishes of a simple people.
Though the Resident has never been able to secure any substantial and permanent improvement in the administration, he often interposes successfully in individual cases, to relieve suffering and secure redress for wrongs; and the people see that he interferes in no others. Their only regret is that he does not interpose more often; and that his efforts, when he does, should be so often thwarted or disregarded. The British character is, in consequence, respected in the remotest village and jungle in Oude; and there is, I believe, no part of India where a European officer is received, among the people of all classes, with more kindness and courtesy than in Oude. There is certainly no city or town in any other native State in India where he is treated in the crowded streets with more respect. This must of course be accounted for in great measure from the greater part of the members of the royal family, and the relatives and dependents of the several persons who have held the highest offices of the State since 1814, either receiving their incomes from the British Government in treaty pensions, or in interest on our Government securities; or being guaranteed in those which they receive from the Oude Government by ours. A great many of the families of the middle classes depend entirely upon the interest which they receive from us on our Government securities. There is, indeed, hardly a respectable family in Lucknow that is not more or less dependent upon our Government for protection, and proud to have it considered that they are so. The works and institutions which would soon be created out of revenues now absorbed by worthless Court favourites, would soon embellish the face of the country; improve the character, condition, and habits of the people; stimulate their industry in agriculture, manufactures, and commerce; and render our connection with the Oude Government honourable to our name in the estimation of all India.