20 APRIL 1889, Page 20


COLONEL YULE, who long ago justly entitled himself to be called the prince of editors, has given fresh proof of his great ability and untiring industry, his capacity for taking infinite pains, in short, to light up the dark recesses of worlds gone almost into shadow, and to people them afresh with living things. The new occasion was furnished by Mr. Robert Barlow, who picked up at Canterbury the Diary of one William Hedges, an honest but not shining gentleman, sent out by the old East India Company to wage war on "Interlopers," and set every- thing right, if he could, in "the Bay," as the fragile-looking trading-posts on the Hugh i were familiarly and collectively called. The Diary, not a distinguished piece in itself, is still readable, and its recovery from oblivion by Mr. Barlow is a distinct public gain, since and because its editing having been " thrust" upon the President of the Hakluyt Society, we have thereby this book, which revivifies so brightly one group of the forefathers and founders of Anglo-Indian power. Mr. Bar- low has done his part well, but Colonel Yule, labouring with his prodigious assiduity, has done the great bulk of the work. He seems to be something like the insatiable spirit of inquiry in- carnate, and the results of his unfaltering research are all the more acceptable and durable because they are tempered with conspicuous fairness and moderation based on a fine charitable allowance for human frailty, and a genuine love of truth. The Diary, of course, bristles with the names of persons, places, and things familiar, perhaps, to the writer's public more than two centuries ago, but "caviare to the general" now. Colonel Yule, by dint of searches into the dreary depths of buried records, has been able to breathe life into the persons, bring the places before the mind's eye and give them their proper designations, tell much about the things which drew these men so far afield, and indicate the abounding difficulties, moral and material, besetting the forerunners of a mighty Empire. The second and third volumes are wholly given up to these objects, and the leisurely reader, who loves to repeople the dim ancestral past, will find them as instructive as they are entertaining.

Though little need be said of Mr. Hedges, who was entrusted with a task too great for his modicum of strength, perhaps we should say weakness, the establishment of an administra- tion in Bengal independent of Fort St. George, his Diary may be consulted by the curious, not only in regard to the persons and manners of his time, but to the perils and toils of an overland journey home,—that is, from the Persian Gulf, ri,4 Bagdad, Diarbekr, Aleppo, and Scanderoon, to the Mediterranean, at the end of the seventeenth century. In Bengal, he ran a brief and troubled course, contending with the native officials, and with British subordinates who were stronger than he. Finally, he offended "the Court" by inter- cepting a letter addressed by a colleague to Sir Josiah Child, and so was recalled. He did not simplify the administration or allay the prevailing discord, which was so great a worry even to the Nawab Shaista Khan, that in public Durbar, he ordered one Pownsett "to be gone from his sight," adding, says the Diary, "ye English were a company of base quarrelling people and foul dealers." Colonel Yule, who has studied all these men, admits that he "cannot gainsay" that Aurangz eb's uncle had "some good ground to go on," when he blurted out his compendious sentence. "There went, in truth," says the Colonel, "much unfragrant matter into the composition of the soil from which gradually grew up the British Government in India, with all its good effects and qualities," a remark not inapplicable to the origin of many States which failed, in the fullness of time, to produce results so astonishing as those recorded in the history of British India. Life, individual or collective, rarely bears microscopic analysis, still less, as in this case, when the things analysed are so remote, and were subject to conditions which it is now almost impossible to appreciate. Poor Mr. Hedges could not deal with the " unfragrant matter," European or native ; he thought that what he wanted was authority ; but it really was • The Diary of William Hedges, Esq. (afte tcards Sir W. Hedges) during his Agency in Bengal, as well as on his V gage 0,4 and Return Over and, 1681-87 Transcribed, with Introductory Notes, by R. Barlow, Esq.; and Illustrated by Copious Extracts from Unpublished Records, &c., by Colonel Henry Yule, RE., C.B., Ice. Printed for the flak uyt Society. 8 vols.

character, and with his environment even character might have failed. The Interlopers who so plagued him could not be suppressed, especially as the Company's servants, as well as the natives, were interested in thwarting the monopoly. There are few graphic touches in the Diary, but here is one which brings on the scene the Captain of the Lumley Castle,' a bold Interloper, famous in those days, picturing him as he paid a visit to the Foujdar of Hugh, October 8th, 1683 :—

" Alley went in a splendid Equipage, habitted in Scarlet richly laced. Ten Englishmen in Blew Capps and Coats edged with Red, all armed with Blunderbusses, went before his pallankeen, 80 Peons before them, and 4 Musicians playing on the Weights, with 2 Flaggs before him, like an Agent. [Think of that !] A gaudy shew and great noise adds much to a Public Person's credit in this Country. As for Soldjers they are of absolute necessity here in divers respects, and especially whilst we are infested with Interlopers, to keepe us from publick affronts, as well as overawe our owno people and mariners, who are now very numerous and insolent amongst us & (by reason of Punch) every day give disturbance."

Vainly did Mr. Hedges say that "the Interlopers must be supprest in England ; 'tis impossible to be done here." They had to be more or less taken into partnership, and the very boldest among them, Thomas Pitt, became Governor of Fort St. George. One main cause, or apparent cause, of all the trouble was that the Company's servants had ridiculously low wages, made up by permission to trade on their own account ; and who could accurately draw the line between what was "just and modest" according to the standard set up at home, and what was not ? The wonder is, how the concern went on even as it did. "The Court," a grudging, perhaps envious master, loaded an outgoing man with praise, and showered censure on him when he returned with wealth.

They needed the services for which they paid next to nothing ; they were enraged because the servant paid himself, more or less honestly, the standard of honesty being so elastic. It is a painful and unsatisfactory state of things that is half- revealed by these volumes, and we are not surprised when the Colonel-editor says that his impression "of the tone, moral and social, of the Company's servants, is a dismal one," espe- cially if contrasted with the line of statesmen and soldiers which another hundred years were to bring forth. Yet we should not be ungrateful to these stout and gallant English- men, although they do not shine with the splendour of their later successors in point of conduct and character.

The conscientious labours of Colonel Yule bring into light and life at least four strong and able men,—Streynsham Master, he who, himself a volunteer, with a handful of volun- teers defended the factory at Surat against Sivajee, for which service he received a medal, and who subsequently was selected to fill the post of Governor of Fort St. George. A second is Thomas Pitt, Interloper and Member of Parliament at the same time ; afterwards Governor of the Madras Presidency for eleven years ; purchaser and vendor of the Pitt diamond ; grandfather of the Elder and great-grandfather of the Younger Pitt, a strong, dexterous, bold man of great capacity.

Another, Job Charnock, the "good and trusty servant" who, said the Court, was "not a prowler for himself, more than was just and modest," their only wish being that "he were not as good a soldier as he is (for aught we see by long experience of him) a very honest Merchant ;" the man who had many faults, so that Colonel Yule "cannot claim a high character for him," yet who was strong, held in high esteem, faithful, as things went, who served steadfastly in India for thirty-five years, and died at the settlement of " Chuttanutty," which he "had come to found,"—a name forgotten, says the Colonel, but "Job's own name should survive as long as the history of England's empire in India, the name of the founder of Calcutta." The fourth worthy is Sir John Goldsborongh, a stout sea-captain and excellent man, who, when he went out to rectify abuses, did not speak well of Job nor of any one, except Mr. Eyre and Captain Dorrell. Goldsborough died in harness. He was appointed "Commissary-General and Chief Governor in India," but did not live to receive the higher post and title from the Court of "Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief of all our land and sea forces throughout the East Indies." Respecting these notables Colonel Yule has gathered much, especially con- cerning Thomas Pitt, who has, and deserved to have, nearly an entire volume to himself ; a tough, sinewy, expert, daring man, whose words, as well as his actions, had point, edge, and weight. There are many more characters, bad and good, faint, suggestive sketches of whom have been dug up from mines of old papers; but these four seem to be the chiefs among the crowd. There are striking portraits of Pitt and his wife ; Master Elihu Yale, an American Colonist; Lord Denbigh, an early Indian "tourist;" and Sir Josia Child. Him we must not overlook, on account of his large, prophetic utterances on the subject of India. From many remarkable passages we can only afford room for three. They are extracts from the Court's letters, which, says Colonel Yule, "I suppose to be dictated or largely influenced by Sir Josia Child." Thus, in 1682, one of these contains these words :-

"Without vanity we may say, that we agonise, strive, and labour [spurred up by the Interlopers] not so much for ourselves as our Country and Posterity, well-knowing (whatever weak or malignant men may think or say) that the value of this Land of England, our Common Mother, depends as much upon the carrying

on of the Trade of India as upon any external accident or cause whatsoever."

And, in 1685 :—

" It is our ambition, for the honour of our King and country and the good of Posterity, as well as of this Company, to make the English nation as formidable as the Dutch or any other Europe Nation are or ever were in India ; but that cannot be done, only by the form and with the methods of trading Merchants, without the political skill of making all fortified places repay their full charge and expenses."

Finally, in 1687, we have what the able editor justly calls a remarkable passage :—

"That which we promise ourselves in a most especiall manner from our new President and Council is that they will establish such a Politic of civil' and military power, and create and secure such a large Revenue to maintaine both at that place, as may bee the foundation of a large, well-grounded, sure English Dominion in India for all Time to come."

These passages must be taken for what they are worth, but they unquestionably betray an "ambitious prevision," none the less worthy of note because it proved to be a correct forecast. There is, we had almost said, an infinite variety in this as in all Colonel Yule's books.—not the least valuable sections being that devoted to "Early History of the Com- pany's Settlement of Bengal," and a most interesting dis- quisition on "Early Charts and Topography of the Hughi

River," with an old chart annexed. We need hardly add, considering who is the editor, that an admirable index completes thesesworkmanlike volumes.