10 DECEMBER 1859, Page 12


Trru Talookdars of Oude, it is said, looked their satisfaction at the address made to them by Governor-General Canning. Put in brief, the address told them that they were confirmed in their fiefs, upon the understanding that they would be loyal subjects ; that in case of difficulty they should consult the Chief Commis- sioner; and that they should do their best to promote local im- provements. Amongst the assurances, conveyed in the most emphatic form because Lord Canning declared that he would not condescend to make it, was the declaration that the Government had no designs upon the religion of the Natives. It is supposed that the progress of the Governor-General in Oude, with this promulgation of his policy, has had a very salutary effect, and will tend to consolidate peace in that important province. We accept every good as it is vouchsafed ; but when Governor-General Canning takes his exulting stand in Lucknow, and thus consoli- dates peace in Oude, it is impossible to avoid comparing his pre- sent success with his past policy, or to avoid comparing most painfully his triumph with the fate of those who proclaimed a similar policy before him.

A few simple words will revive in the memory the strange his- tory of Oude. Not many years ago it was the realm of a king sustained by English treaties, bat despising English councils ; a sensualist, who, surrounded by the basest of creatures, exalted them in authority above the Peers of the realm, the Talookdars ; and who at last established such a systematic anarchy that it became an act of decency as well as justice to displace him. When Onde was fairly absorbed into British India there were many dangers and abuses that had to be avoided and corrected. The province possessed a great Native army, which was transferred in name to the East India Company, but which, while obeying the compulsory forms that transferred its allegiance, retained in its heart the obstinate rancour of the rebel. It was most desirable that such a force should not be added to the exclusive, ultra- Native Bengal Army, which already cherished the sentiments of the traitor. There were extravagant abuses in the treasury ; the Finance Minister of the late King having scantily filled the royal coffers with exorbitant and oppressive exactions from the Talook- dars, and through them from the working population. It was above all things desirable that a perfectly clear system of accounts should be established between the receivers in the remotest dis-

tricts and the central Government, and that any attempt whatever to palter with the honest treatment of accounts, or with the ad- ministration of finance, should be absolutely scouted. Under the old regime the Talookdars had been not dispossessed by the late Sovereign except in individual instances but reduced to a state of embarrassment, exasperation and disaffection, and had neces- sarily fallen upon various devices to strengthen themselves lo- cally, amongst others by constructing strongholds, though they were no better than mud forts.

When the British Government was in course of being es- tablished, there was one zealous courageous, and high-minded public servant who was made Chief Commissioner in Oude,—that is, the responsible Minister for the Queen in that province. In the letters conveying the appointment he had an intimation that he was said to have an impetuous temper, and in language some- what unusual, he was cautioned not to indulge that temper. The knowledge of this foible should have been a warning quite as much to the chief as to the man thus appointed. The new Com- missioner went to his post, and he performed his duty thoroughly. Amongst other measures, he bestirred himself to lighten the burdens of the people by introducing an honest finance. He en- deavoured to secure perfect regularity of accounts to the remotest Assistant Commissioners ; and he had some aid from men in humbler station. He detected a Minister of the late King tam-

pering with the finance and found that he was somewhat indulged by an officer high in finance, British service, though subordinate to

the Chief Commissioner. While he recognized the dignity of the Talookdars and their rights, he peremptorily required them to put down their forts. At every step this honest servant of the Queen was checked and thwarted from head-quarters. The officer who had indulged the Native Finance Minister was upheld against his superior. The endeavour to establish a perfectly straightforward and re- sponsible system of accounts was thwarted. The order to put down the forts of the Talookdars was rewarded with something very like a reprimand. The effort to diminish the burdens of the Natives by as prompt a system of reform as possible was impeded. And to crown the policy, the Army of Oude having been added en bloc to the Army of Bengal, no steps were taken to neutralize the consequences. The sequel is now a matter of history. The Oude Army proved a splendid contingent in the Bengal rebellion. The baffled Talookdars saw reason to think that they might profit most by conspiracy amongst themselves, instead of trusting to the doubtful administration which had succeeded their corrupt King. The humbler Natives were indifferent, and the forts proved ad- mirable impediments for the advance of British troops, while Oude became one of the most obstinate strongholds of the re- bellion.

By dint of British energy, and British money, coupled with large drafts upon Indian resources and much expenditure of blood, through the labour of a war which has cost us a Lawrence a Have- lock, a Nicholson, a Hodson, the consequences of those truly fatal mistakes in Oude have been redeemed. In that rough and fierce manner, so terrible, so mournful, and so costly, we have corrected

in detail the very vices, and they were giant vices, which were so slightingly regarded when they were pointed at in warnings. The

Bengal Army obliterated, the Oude Army is no longer a contin- gent to it. The mud forts are destroyed. The Talookdars are recognized in their dignity and their rights. The financial in- trigues have been torn to shreds, and a better organization is es- tablished. The road has been opened for the British authority into the very heart of Oude ; and it is enthroned there. But who is it that centres in himself the triumph of that official coronation ? Coverley Jackson, who had pointed to the dangers and refused to be silenced, was exiled from office and lies in the tomb ; and the glory of the triumph is centred in the person of Governor-General Canning. Perhaps we, who do not forget, may think that the buried man with all his foibles, merited some-

thing better than official man, and personal oblivion • but it will be some expiation to his memory if the essential; of the policy he so manfully asserted are carried out for the benefit of that empire to which he was so faithful a servant.