INQUIRY INTO THE AFGHAN WAR.
As the meeting of Parliament approaches, Lord PALMERSTON'S or- gan betrays a sense of the necessity of a change of note when making a noise about Indian politics. The theme is no longer the " cowardice " of Lord ELLENBOROUGH in withdrawing the British troops from Cabul, but the excesses committed (or said to have been committed) by the soldiery on their retreat, and the tenour of the Governor-General's bombastic proclamation to " the prin- ces, chiefs, and people of India."
But though the theme is changed, the object in view is the same—to fix the public attention upon recent events and com- paratively unessential points, in order to prevent a thorough in- vestigation of the origin and conduct of the mad expedition. These are the first things to be inquired into. A full explana- tion ought to be demanded from those who projected and began the war, on the following points : first, what they really proposed to do, and what benefit they anticipated from it ; second, upon what information they proceeded, and what means they adopted for procuring trustworthy intelligence ; third, what provision they made for carrying on their enterprise, and in what manner it was conducted. The Ministers at home and the local authorities in India, who undertook and commenced the Afghan expedition, ought to be put upon their trial before the country, and called upon to explain their measures. Lord PALMERSTON, Sir Jost( HOBBOUSE, and Lord AUCKLAND may be allowed the benefit of explaining their own policy, and the measures they took to give it effect. All documents calculated to throw light upon their state- ments, whether to confirm or invalidate them, ought to be ex- tracted from the public offices and laid before Parliament ; and Parliament ought to spare no labour to ascertain the truth, to pub- lish it to the nation, and to pronounce a judgment upon the merits of the case. This is the duty of the Legislature : whether the ini- tiative be taken by the Ex-Ministers seeking to criminate the successors in office for abandoning their policy, or by the present Ministers seeking to justify the change, or by Independent Mem- bers of Parliament calling upon both parties to explain, is of little consequence ; but there ought to he—surely there must be—a comprehensive and searching scrutiny, beginning at the beginning. It is wanted not so much for punishment or censure of what is past, as to supply a lesson for the future. Of course such an inquiry ought to extend over the whole trans- actions ; and when the measures of Lord PALMERSTON, Lord AUCK- LAND, Sir Jowl HOBHOUSE, and all their counsellors and abettors, shall have been discussed, the conduct of Lord ELLENnottouatt and his coadjutors will also be passed under review. But that con- duct must also be judged as a whole ; not in the manner that per- sonal adversaries suggest, by overlooking the just and humane prin- ciples which he has avowed and carried into action, in order to concentrate attention upon the flattering balm applied to the galled pride of the Indian army, or the unsuccessful attempt to address the princes of India in their own bombastic strain. It may frankly be admitted that Lord ELLENBOROUGLeS Orientalisms are ill- judged, inasmuch as the very chiefs who talk in that strain can laugh at it as mere affectation on the part of an Englishman : but this is a trifling set-off against the pacification of Asia and the con- centration of the attention of the English Government upon the in- ternal regulation of its Indian territories. The excesses of the army in Afghanistan (even according to the least exaggerated accounts) are to be deplored : but for them, they who sent the army there are mainly if not exclusively responsible. Do justice to Lord ELLENBOROUGII—" nothing extenuate nor aught set down in malice." Apply the same rule to the investigation of the con- duct of his political rivals. The country has an interest not in the exculpation or condemnation of either the one or the other, but in having the whole truth known, a righteous judgment passed upon all concerned, and more just and politic principles recognized for the future guidance of our Indian Government.