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Title: Lord Lawrence
Author: Temple, Richard Carnac, Sir
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive)



                         English Men of Action


                             LORD LAWRENCE

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                     [Illustration: LORD LAWRENCE

    Engraved by O. LACOUR after a Photograph by MAULL AND POLYBANK]



                             LORD LAWRENCE


                                  BY

                          SIR RICHARD TEMPLE


                                London
                           MACMILLAN AND CO.
                             AND NEW YORK
                                 1889

        _The right of translation and reproduction is reserved_



CONTENTS


                                                    PAGE
CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION                                           1


CHAPTER II

EARLY LIFE, 1811-1829                                  7


CHAPTER III

THE DELHI TERRITORY, 1829-1846                        15


CHAPTER IV

THE TRANS-SUTLEJ STATES, 1846-1849                    27


CHAPTER V

PUNJAB BOARD OF ADMINISTRATION, 1849-1853             45


CHAPTER VI

CHIEF COMMISSIONER OF THE PUNJAB, 1853-1857           69

CHAPTER VII

WAR OF THE MUTINIES, 1857-1859                        92


CHAPTER VIII

SOJOURN IN ENGLAND, 1859-1863                        137


CHAPTER IX

THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, 1864-1869                   148


CHAPTER X

CONCLUSION, 1869-1879                                190



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION


John Laird Mair Lawrence was born in 1811 and died in 1879, being
sixty-eight years of age. Within that time he entered the Civil Service
of the East India Company, governed the Punjab then the most difficult
province in India, took a very prominent part in the War of the
Mutinies, was by many called the saviour of the Indian empire, and
became Viceroy of India. By reason of his conduct in these capacities he
is regarded as a man of heroic simplicity, and as one of the best
British type, to be reckoned among our national worthies.

I shall write the following account of him as a man of action, partly
from authentic records, but chiefly from personal knowledge. I was his
Secretary during some of the most busy and important years when he was
governing the Punjab, and one of his Councillors when he was Viceroy. My
acquaintance with him began in 1851, and continued on intimate terms
till 1870, from which time until his death I was separated from him by
distance. Thus I have been in great part an eyewitness of what is to be
related of him. My knowledge, too, of his views is derived, not from
correspondence nor from private letters, but from verbal communication.
For several years it was my chief duty so to imbue my mind with his
policy and opinions that I might be able to express them in writing at a
moment’s notice.

He was a man of action as distinguished from a man of letters. He did
not write a book nor contribute to periodical literature. Among his
predecessors and successors in high office amidst the imperial affairs
of India, some have been men either of letters or of literary culture;
as for instance, Warren Hastings, Wellesley, Teignmouth, Mountstuart
Elphinstone, Lytton. Though neither unlettered nor uncultured, he had no
literary training nor did he possess that which would nowadays be called
culture. Again, some of his predecessors and successors had acquired a
considerable position either in political and parliamentary life at home
or in imperial affairs abroad, as for example Amherst, Ellenborough,
Hardinge, Dalhousie, Canning, Elgin, Mayo, Northbrook. But he derived
his position solely from experience of India, knowledge of her people,
and services rendered within her limits. The son of a poor and hardy
veteran officer, he was essentially a self-made and a self-taught man.
It is therefore interesting to learn how he came to make and teach
himself thus grandly, and what was the process of the making and the
teaching. For he had no wondrous gifts of intellect or imagination and
few external graces. He never enjoyed the advantages of high education,
of family connection, of contact with political life, of guidance from
the lights of the age. He had to raise himself by his own up-heaving
force, and to propel himself by his own motive power. Before him many
great men have been singled out for greatness by every observer from
their youth onwards. But he as a young man was never deemed remarkable,
and almost up to his middle life he was not expected by his best friends
to acquire greatness. Then the hour of difficulty came, and was followed
by other hours harder and harder still; and he was found more and more
to be the man for them all. From a good magistrate of a comparatively
old district he became the administrator of a newly-annexed territory.
Thence he rose to be Resident at a Native Court in time of trouble, and
virtual governor of an arduous province. While thus occupied he was
overtaken by the desperate tempest of the Mutinies, and he rode on the
crest of every wave. Thence he was promoted in natural order to the
supreme command in India. Thus he rose not by assumed antecedents nor by
collateral advantages, but by proved merit in action. Doing lesser
things very well he was tried in greater things, and he did them with
equal efficiency. Tested in the furnace of fiery danger he showed the
purest metal. Lastly, when elevated to the highest office he was still
successful.

All this while, his qualities were for the most part those which are
commonly possessed by British people. He evinced only two qualities in
an uncommon degree, namely energy and resolution. But if he was not a
man of genius in the ordinary acceptation of the term, there must have
been a certain genius in him, and that was virtue. Such genius is indeed
heaven-born, and this was the moral force which combined all his
faculties into a harmonious whole and made him a potent instrument for
good, a man of peace or of war, according to the requirements of right
and justice. His virtue was private as well as political, domestic as
well as public. He was a dutiful son, a faithful husband, a kind father,
an affectionate brother, a steadfast friend. There have been men eminent
in national affairs over whose life a veil must partially be thrown; but
his conduct was unassailable even by those who assailed his policy and
proceedings. However fiercely the light might beat on him, he was seen
to be unspotted from the world. Again there have been statesmen who,
vigilant as regards the public interests, have yet neglected their own
concerns; but he was a good steward in small things as well as in great.
He always found the means of meeting charitable demands; he was ever
ready with trusty counsel for his friends; he managed a fund formed by
himself and his brothers as a provision for their widowed mother. But,
while upright and undaunted before men, he was inwardly downcast and
humble before the all-seeing Judge. He relied on divine mercy alone,
according to the Christian dispensation. Apart from the effect of his
constant example in Christian action, he made no display of religion
beyond that which occasion might require. In this cardinal respect as in
all lesser respects he was unostentatious, excelling more in practice
than in precept. Amidst the excitement of success in emergent affairs,
he would reflect on the coming time of quiet and retirement. In the
heyday of strength and influence he would anticipate the hour when the
silver cord must be loosed and the golden bowl broken; when surrounded
with pomp and circumstance, he would reckon up the moments when the
splendid harness must be cast aside. In a word, massive vigour,
simplicity and single-mindedness were the keynotes of his character.

In the following pages, then, the development of this character will be
traced through many striking circumstances in distant fields of action,
through several grave contingencies and some tremendous events. The
portrait will, indeed, be drawn by the hand of affection. Nevertheless
every endeavour will be made to preserve accurately the majestic
features, to pourtray the weather-beaten aspect, to depict the
honourable scars, the wrinkles of thought, the furrows of anxiety. In a
word he is to be delineated as he actually was in gentleness or
ruggedness, in repose or activity, in sickness or health.

His course, from the beginning to the end of life, should have a
spirit-stirring effect on the middle class from which he sprung. For to
his career may be applied the Napoleonic theory of a marshal’s baton
being carried by conscripts in their knapsacks during a campaign. With
virtue, energy and resolution like his, British youths of scanty means,
winning their places by competition, may carry with them to the Eastern
empire the possibilities of national usefulness and the resources for
conquering fortune in her noblest sphere.

Moreover, a special lesson may be learnt from him, namely that of
endurance; for he was, in the midst of energetic life, often troubled
and sometimes even afflicted by sickness. In early life he seemed to
have been born with powerful robustness; but as a young man he suffered
several times from critical illness, and in middle age ailments,
affecting chiefly the head, grew upon him like gathering clouds. As an
elderly man he was prematurely borne down to the dust of death, while
according to ordinary hope he might yet have been spared for some years
to his family his friends and his country. If anything could add to the
estimation in which he is held, it is the remembrance that when he
magnificently swayed the Punjab his health was fitfully uncertain, that
it was still worse when he stemmed the tide of the Mutiny and Rebellion,
that it had never been really restored even when he became Viceroy, and
that during the performance of deeds, always arduous and often heroic,
he had to struggle with physical pain and depression as well as wrestle
with public emergencies.

But though he might have added something to the long list of his
achievements had his life been prolonged, still the main objects of his
existence had been fulfilled, and he died neither too early nor too late
for his fame. Even if it cannot be said of him that he lived long enough
to be gathered to his fathers like a full shock of corn, still there is
a fulness and a completeness in his career. To his memory may be applied
the lines of Schiller on a dead hero: “He is the happy one. He has
finished. For him is no more future here below. For him destiny weaves
no webs of envy now. His life seems spotless, and spreads out with
brightness. In it no dark blemish remains behind. No sorrow-laden hour
knocks to rouse him. He is far-off beyond hope and fear. He depends no
longer on the delusive wavering planets. For him ’tis well for ever. But
for us, who knows what the dark-veiled hour may next bring forth!”



CHAPTER II

EARLY LIFE

1811-1829


He who would understand this story aright must stretch the wings of his
imagination for a flight across the ocean to the sunny shores beyond. In
these northern latitudes sunshine is regarded as genial and benignant,
but in those regions the sun is spoken of by the natives as cruel and
relentless. It is with fierce rays that he strikes the stately
architecture, the crowded marts, the dusty highways, the arid plains,
the many-coloured costumes, the gorgeous pageantry,--in the midst of
which our action is laid, and which in their combination form the
theatre where the mighty actors of our drama are to play their parts.
But not in such a climate nor amidst such scenes were these actors born
and bred. In the time of youth,--when the physical frame is developed,
and the foundation of the character is laid,--their stamina were
hardened, their faculties nursed, their courage fostered, under the grey
skies and misty atmosphere, in the dales and hills, amidst the green
fields and the smoky cities of Great Britain and Ireland.

The village of Richmond is situated in the North Riding of Yorkshire at
the western base of the hills which flank the Westmoreland plateau, and
near the head-waters of the Swale, an affluent of the Ouse. In the year
1811 it formed the headquarters of the Nineteenth Regiment of Foot, of
which Alexander Lawrence was the Major.

Here John Lawrence was born on March 4th, 1811: being the eighth in a
family of twelve children. His sister Letitia, his elder brothers George
and Henry, his younger brother Richard, will be mentioned in the
following narrative. His brother Henry, indeed, was closely associated
with some of the events to be related hereafter.

The parents were people of British race domiciled for some generations
in Ulster. The mother was a descendant of John Knox the Scotch reformer,
and the daughter of a clergyman in the Church of England, holding a cure
in Donegal. The father had run a military career for full fifteen years
in India and Ceylon, and had been among the leaders of the forlorn hope
in the storming of Seringapatam. He was a fighting man, ardent for
warlike adventure, maimed with wounds, fevered by exposure, yet withal
unlucky in promotion. He was full of affection for his family, and of
generosity towards his friends. Despite the _res angusta domi_ which
often clings to unrewarded veterans, he was happy in his domestic life.
His only sorrow was the indignant sense of the scant gratitude with
which his country had regarded his services. Nevertheless he sent forth
three of his sons for military careers in that same East where he
himself had fought and bled,--of whom two rose to high rank and good
emoluments. But he placed them all in the service of the East India
Company, which he hoped would prove a good master, and that hope was
realised.

As a child, John Lawrence went with his parents from Richmond to
Guernsey, thence to Ostend where the father commanded a Veteran
Battalion during the Waterloo campaign, and thence soon after 1815 to
Clifton near Bristol. During his childhood he suffered severely from an
affection of the eyes, the very ailment which, as we shall see
hereafter, overshadowed his declining years. From Clifton he went to a
day-school at College Green in Bristol, walking daily over the breezy
uplands that then separated the two places, in company with his brother
Henry, his elder by five years. It would seem that according to the
fashion of the schools of this class in those times, he received a
rudimentary education with a harsh discipline. His home, being furnished
with scanty means, must have been destitute of external amenities. But
he enjoyed the care of one who, though forced by circumstances to be
rigid, was a thoroughly good mother, and the tender thoughtfulness of
his sister Letitia which he never forgot. He listened eagerly to his
father’s animated tales of war, as the veteran recounted

                      “the story of his life
    From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,
    That he had passed ...
    Wherein he spoke of most disastrous chances,
    Of moving accidents by flood and field,
    Of hair-breadth ’scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach.”

Doubtless it was from his father’s conversation in these days of
childhood that he acquired the soldierly predilections which clung to
him throughout his civil career. The receptive years of his boyhood up
to twelve were thus spent in English surroundings, and amidst English
scenery of an attractive character. Despite the whirl and worry of his
after-life, he ever remembered the beautiful Clifton of his day--before
the rocks were pierced for railway-tunnels or the valley spanned by a
suspension-bridge. He loved the forest-clad heights, the limestone
cliffs, the bed of the tidal Avon.

At twelve years of age he went to Foyle College close to Londonderry, to
be under the care of the Reverend James Knox, his mother’s brother. In
this College were his brothers George and Henry, also Robert Montgomery,
who was in future years to become to him the best of colleagues. Here he
stayed during two years of great importance in the forming of his mind
and disposition, as he breathed the air, imbibed the ideas, and gathered
the associations of Ulster. At first, however, his ways were so much
those of England that his companions called him “English John.” The
education which he there received was characteristic of the British
type, for it tended rather to form and strengthen the character than to
enlighten the intellect. The religious training, to which he was
subjected, appears to have been somewhat too severely strict. Yet in
combination with home influences and with natural impulses, it planted
religion ineradicably deep in his heart. The recollection of it,
however, rendered him adverse to formalism of any kind.

Foyle College as an educational institution has doubtless been much
developed since his time. But the building and its precincts may now be
seen almost exactly as they were when he was there. From the upper
windows is the same prospect which he had of the Foyle estuary, and from
the field where he played football is beheld a view of the historic
city. As he used to stay there with his uncle during the holidays, he
must have often walked round the terrace on the top of the well-kept
walls, that still enclose the old citadel-town wherein the faith and
freedom of the Protestants were sheltered during the storm of war in
1688-9. Here he found the historic memories preserved with wonderful
tenacity. So he must have gazed at the Ship-Quay, the Water-gate as it
once was, whither the relieving ships from England, after fighting their
way up the Foyle, brought victuals for the long-suffering and famished
garrison. He must have passed beneath the venerable bastions where the
defenders repeatedly beat back the French soldiers of King James. He
attended on Sundays divine service in the Cathedral which stood close to
the fighting-ground during the defence, and where the bones of eminent
defenders were interred. This, then, was just the place to be for him a
_nutrix leonum_, and the meet nurse for a heroic child; as indeed it is
the Saragossa of the British Isles. In after life his talk would oft
revert to the Foyle as to him the queen of rivers. Forty years later,
when at the summit of his greatness, he spoke publicly to his admirers
in the Punjab about the memories of Londonderry, as nerving Britons in
other lands to stubborn resistance.

At fifteen years of age he returned to England and went to a school kept
at Wraxall Hall, near Bath, an Elizabethan structure with picturesque
courtyards and orchards. It was comparatively near to his paternal home
at Clifton, and in it were renewed those rural associations of English
life which he had gathered in childhood. Shortly afterwards he was
offered a civil appointment in the East India Company’s service by a
good friend, Mr. Hudlestone, who had already given appointments in the
Company’s military service to three of the elder brothers, one of whom
was Henry. But he was minded to decline the civil appointment, then
considered of all appointments the most desirable, and to ask for a
military appointment instead. He would not regard the advice of his
father, nor of his brother Henry, who had just returned from India on
sick leave after hard service in the wars. The influence of his sister
Letitia alone persuaded him to accept the civil appointment.
Consequently at the age of seventeen he went to the East India Company’s
College at Haileybury near Hertford, and remained there for the
appointed term of two years. There he heard lectures in political
economy from Malthus, and in law from Empson, afterwards editor of the
_Edinburgh Review_. The discipline was not specially strict, nor was the
intellectual training severe; but as the Company maintained a highly
qualified and distinguished staff of professors, he had educational
opportunities of which he availed himself in a moderate or average
degree only. He was a fairly good student, but was not regarded by his
compeers as remarkable for learning or for prowess in games. His frame
was tall and well knit but gaunt. His manner was reserved in public,
sometimes tending to taciturnity, but vivacious and pleasant in private.
As he had been thought to be English when in Ireland, so now when in
England he was deemed to be somewhat Irish in his ways. In his case, as
in many eminent cases, the temper and disposition were being fixed and
settled, while the mental faculties were being slowly developed. The
basis of his great character was being founded in silence. But his
fondness for the rural side of English life must have been gratified to
the full at College. He had not cultivated any architectural taste, and
if he had, it would have been offended by the plainness even ugliness of
the collegiate architecture; but his nature rejoiced in the surroundings
of the College, the extensive woods reaching to the very gates, the
outburst of vernal foliage, the singing birds in their leafy haunts, the
open heath, the Rye House meadows, the waters of the Lea. He would roam
with long strides in the meads and woodlands. Though not gifted with any
æsthetic insight into the beauties of Nature, yet he would inwardly
commune with her, and he had an observant eye for her salient features.
Such things helped to establish a mind like his, and to temper it like
pure steel for the battle of life.

He used to spend a part of his vacation in each year at the house of a
friend at Chelsea, before returning to his home at Clifton. Having
passed through College he spent four months in England, in order to have
the companionship of Henry on the voyage out to India. He sailed in
September 1829, being nineteen years old, in a vessel bound for Calcutta
by the route round the Cape of Good Hope.

At a later stage in his life, some analysis will be given to show how
far he partook of the several elements in our composite national
character, English, Scotch and Irish. It may suffice here to state that
for all these years his nurture, bringing up, and education generally,
had been English, with the important exception of the two years which he
spent at Londonderry. Whatever Scotch or Irish proclivities he may have
possessed, and they will be considered hereafter, no son of England, of
his age, ever left her shores more imbued than he with her ideas, more
loyal to her principles, more cognisant of her strength or weakness, of
her safety or danger, of her virtues or failings.



CHAPTER III

THE DELHI TERRITORY

1829-1846


John Lawrence, in company with his elder brother Henry, entered in 1829
upon his new life, beginning with a five months’ voyage through the
Atlantic and Indian Oceans. On this voyage he suffered severely from
sea-sickness, and the suffering was protracted over several weeks. This
must have aggravated any constitutional tendency to nervous irritability
in his head. He landed at Calcutta in February, 1830, just when the cool
season was over and the weather was growing warmer and warmer till it
attained the heat of early summer. Then he passed through the rainy
period of midsummer, which in those latitudes always had a depressing
effect on him as on many others. He was an ordinarily good student in
the College of Fort William--the official name whereby the stronghold of
Calcutta is called. He mixed but little in the society of the capital,
and pined for his English home, fancying that poverty there would be
better than affluence in the East; he even allowed himself to be
dominated by this sort of home-sickness, for the first and last time in
his life. However, after sojourning for a few months in Calcutta, and
passing the examination in the vernacular of Upper India, he asked for
and obtained an appointment at Delhi, partly because his brother Henry
was serving in the Artillery at Kurnal in that neighbourhood, partly
also because the far-off frontier had a fascination for him as for many
others. In those days a journey from Calcutta to Delhi (now accomplished
by railway within three days) often occupied nearly three months by boat
on the Ganges; but by travelling in a palanquin he traversed the
distance, about eleven hundred miles, within three weeks.

Arrived at Delhi, in 1830, he felt that happy revulsion of thought and
sentiment which is well known to many who have passed through similar
circumstances. He had not only landed on a strange and distant shore,
but had advanced many hundred miles into the interior of the country. He
had thus, so to speak, cut his cables and cast away home-sickness,
treasuring the memory of the former existence in the sunniest corner of
his heart, but bracing and buckling himself to the work of the new
existence. This work of his, too, was varied and intensely human in its
interests. Its nature was such as made him anxious to learn, and yet the
learning was extraordinarily hard at first. His dormant energies were
thus awakened, as he dived deep into the affairs of the Indian people,
listened to their petitions, guarded their rights, collected the taxes,
watched the criminal classes, traced out crime, regulated the police.
The work was in part sedentary, but it also afforded him healthy
exercise on foot and on horseback, as he helped in supervising the
streets, the drains, the roads, and the municipal institutions of all
sorts in a great city and its neighbourhood.

He was, moreover, impressed deeply by imperial Delhi itself as one of
the most noteworthy cities in the world, and as

    “The lone mother of dead empires.”

The matchless palace of the Great Mogul overhanging the river Jumna, the
hall of audience, the white marble mosque, a veritable pearl of
architecture, the great city mosque, probably the finest place of
worship ever raised by Moslem hands, the ruins outside the walls of
several capitals belonging to extinct dynasties, doubtless affected his
imagination in some degree. But he was too much pre-occupied by work to
regard these things as they would be regarded by artists or
antiquarians. Nevertheless his native keenness of observation served him
well even here, for he would describe the structural merits of these
noble piles, the clean cutting of the red-sandstone and the welding
together of the massive masonry. He was more likely to observe fully the
geographical situation, which gave commercial and political importance
to the city in many ages, and preserved it as a capital throughout
several revolutions. In the intervals of practical business he must have
noticed the condition of the Great Mogul, whom the British Government
then maintained as a phantom sovereign in the palace. But he could not
have anticipated the position of fell activity into which this very _roi
fainéant_ was fated to be thrust some twenty-seven years later. It will
be seen hereafter that the local knowledge which he thus gained of
Delhi, served him in good stead during the most critical period of his
after-life.

In 1834 he was placed in temporary charge of the district of Paniput, in
a vast plain that stretches along the western bank of the Jumna. His
being after only four years’ service entrusted, as acting Magistrate and
Collector, with the command of a district containing some thousands of
square miles and some hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, was a proof
of the early reputation he had won as a capable officer and
well-informed administrator. At Paniput he controlled, as a superior,
much the same work as that which he had performed as a subordinate at
Delhi. That which he had learnt by laborious self-instruction on a
smaller scale, he was now to practise on a larger. The area being
extensive, and rapidity of movement being essential to the maintenance
of a personal control over affairs, he used to ride on horseback over
his district from end to end. Every arduous or dangerous case, fiscal or
criminal, he would keep in his own hands; though even in these early
days he trusted his subordinates when trustworthy, and made them do
their duty as he did his. He did not, indeed, adorn all that he touched,
but he stamped on it the mark of individuality. The natives soon learnt
to regard him as the embodiment of British justice. The various sections
of the population, the evil-disposed or the industrious, the oppressor
or the oppressed, the suppliant for redress or the hardened
wrong-doer,--all in their respective ways felt his personality. The good
officers in India live, move and have their being among the people, and
such was his daily routine. He could not fail, moreover, to be moved by
the historic traditions of Paniput--the scene of the Mahabhârat, that
antique epic of the Hindoos; the victory of the young Akber, the first
of the Great Moguls; the Persian invasion under Nâdir Shah; the rout of
the Mahrattas under Ahmed Shah the Afghan: especially must the tragic
and touching incidents of the Mahratta disaster have appealed to
susceptibilities such as his.

In these days he practised himself much in horsemanship, becoming a
strong rider and a good judge of horses; it was truly to be said of him
_gaudet equis canibusque_. He was a keen observer of steers and heifers,
of bullocks for draught and plough. Being fond of animals generally, he
studied their breeding, nurture and training, their temper, habits and
capabilities. Though a stranger to botany as a science, he knew the
local names of every tree and plant. He had a discriminating eye for the
varieties of soil, the qualities of growing crops, the faults and merits
of husbandry. Though not versed in the theory of economic science, he
had an insight into the causes affecting the rise and fall of prices,
the interchange of commodities, the origin and progress of wealth, the
incidence of taxation. He had hardly, indeed, mastered the
technicalities of finance, yet he had a natural bent for figures, and
was a financier almost by instinct.

This was the spring-tide of his public life when he was bursting forth
into vigour of body, soaring in spirit, and rejoicing like a young lion
in healthy strength. Then, too, he was able to withstand the climate all
the year round. For although in summer the sky was as brass, the earth
as iron, the wind as a blast from a furnace, still in winter the
marching in tents was salubrious, the breeze invigorating, the
temperature delicious by day, and the air at night frosty.

After an incumbency of three years at Paniput he was transferred to
Gurgaum, a district south of Delhi. There his work was the same as that
already described, only somewhat harder, owing to the lawless and
intractable habits of some classes among the inhabitants, and because of
drought which visited and distressed that region. Then in 1838 he was
appointed Settlement-Officer of Etawah, a district south-east of Delhi
between the Ganges and the Jumna. In technical or official language, his
settlement-work included the whole scope of landed affairs, in the most
comprehensive as well as in the minutest sense,--the assessment of that
land-tax, which is the main burden of the peasantry and the prime
resource of the State--the cadastral survey of every field in every
village or parish--the adjudication of all disputes regarding the
rights, interests and property in land--the registration of landed
tenures. His duty herein was, of all duties which can be entrusted to a
man in India, the one of most interest and importance, the one which
penetrates deepest into the national life, the one for which the
Government always chooses its most promising officers. This duty,
moreover, universally attractive to the best men throughout India, had
for him especial charms in the districts between the Ganges and the
Jumna. For here he found, in all their pristine and unimpaired vigour,
those Village Communities which have survived the shocks of war and
revolution, and have engaged the thoughts of jurists and philosophers.
His business was to guard the innate and indestructible energy of these
ancient communities, to adapt their development to the wants of the
present time, to fence round their privileges and responsibilities with
all the forms of a civilized administration. The experience thus gained
was to him of unspeakable value in the most arduous passages of his
after life. But though he entered with all his heart and mind into this
work, he felt the district itself to be dull and distasteful after Delhi
and Paniput, and this feeling shows how the antique splendour of the
former and the historic traditions of the latter had affected his
imagination. He could no longer live contentedly unless amidst his
surroundings there were something grand for his mind to feed upon.
However grateful he may have felt to Etawah for the experience it had
given him, he never looked back on the place with pleasure. One
melancholy recollection abided with him, for it was here that he caught
his first serious illness, a violent fever which rapidly reduced him to
the verge of death. By an effort of nature he shook it off and rallied
for a while. Then in the autumn of 1839 he glided, as an invalid in
river-boats, down the Jumna and the Ganges to Calcutta. There he had a
relapse of fever, and decided in the beginning of 1840 to proceed to
England, being entitled to furlough after his active service of ten
years. He arrived in England during June of that year.

The first act in the drama of his public life was thus concluded. He had
done well, he had mastered the details of a difficult profession, in his
own words he “had learnt his business.” He was esteemed by his comrades
and his superiors as a competent officer in all respects; beyond this,
however, nothing more was said or thought of him at that time. All this
has been and yet will be recorded of hundreds of British officers in
India, before or after him, whose names are nevertheless not written in
the roll of fame. _Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona multi_: indeed many men
as good as he then was are now living and will still live. Furthermore,
many officers have, in the course of their first ten years, shown more
signs of genius, or talent, or statesmanlike accomplishments, than he
had displayed up to this time. When he sailed from Calcutta for England
in 1840 neither he himself nor his friends had, on a retrospect of his
first ten years, formed any idea of the career which he was to run
during his second ten years, and had never, even in day-dreams, caught a
vision of the destiny which awaited him during his third ten years. The
elements of his character were being gradually fused into granitic
consistency. To him was applicable that British metaphor, which though
familiar is never trite because the proofs of its truth are
oft-recurring: the sturdy oak grows slowly, but in proportion to that
slowness is the ultimate strength to bear the weight, withstand the
strain and resist the storm.

Returning to England during the summer of 1840, he found the home of his
youth at Clifton much altered. His father had passed away, his sister
Letitia had married, but his mother remained to benefit by his
affectionate assistance. Though his health was not re-established, yet
his energy and spirits revived under the European skies, and his
vivacity astonished both friends and acquaintances. He proceeded to
Bonn, and stayed there for a time with his sister-in-law, the wife of
George Lawrence who was in Afghanistan. Then he paid visits in England
and travelled in Scotland and Ireland. In Donegal he was so fortunate as
to meet Harriette, daughter of the Reverend Richard Hamilton, whom he
married in August 1841, thus forming a union of the very happiest
character. He proceeded to the continent of Europe on a wedding-tour,
passing through Switzerland to Italy, and gathered notions, in his
practical way, regarding the policy and strategy of ancient Rome. He
particularly noticed the campaigns of Hannibal, to which he often
alluded in after-life. But the Indian ailments partially reappeared in
the malarious climate of the Roman campagna. At Naples, in the beginning
of 1842, he received news of the disasters at Caubul and hurried home to
England, sorely anxious regarding the captivity of his brother George
amidst the Afghans. In London he had a grave relapse of illness, but was
sufficiently recovered by the autumn to start for India by the overland
route, after bidding a last farewell to his mother.

During his sojourn in England of little more than two years, he left
upon every one who conversed with him a marked impression of his
originality, elasticity, animated conversation, brightness of spirit and
physical force. Those who saw him only when he was well, little thought
how suddenly he could become ill, and--erroneously, alas!--supposed him
to be a man of abounding health as well as strength. None, however,
foresaw his future greatness, or even predicted for him a career more
useful than that which is run by the many able and zealous men who are
found in the Indian service. This failure of prescience is the more
remarkable, because his elder brother Henry had long been designated by
admiring comrades as one of the heroes and statesmen of the future.

He landed with his wife at Bombay towards the end of 1842, and thus
gained his first experience of Western India. Thence he travelled by
palanquin, at the rate of thirty miles a day, over the eight hundred
miles that separated him from Allahabad in the North-Western Provinces
to which he officially belonged. In the beginning of 1843 he marched at
the rate of ten miles a day in tents towards the Delhi territory, where
he was thankful to find employment. The tent-life in the bracing
winter-season of Upper India was very beneficial to him physically, and
he resumed work amidst his early associations in good health. With his
wife and young children he settled down to the routine of public life,
and girded himself for the discharge of ordinary duties. At Kurnal, not
far from Delhi, he made a searching and practical analysis of the causes
which produced a malarious and disabling sickness among the troops
stationed there. In 1844 he was appointed to the substantive post of
Magistrate and Collector of Delhi. While holding this appointment he
laid the foundation of his fortunes in public life. In November, 1845,
he first met the Governor-General, Lord Hardinge, who passed through
Delhi to join the army assembling near the Sutlej for the first Sikh
war. His bearing, conversation and subsequent proceedings, made a
lasting impression on the mind of the Governor-General, who ever
afterwards spoke and wrote of him as the ideal of what a civil officer
for India ought to be.

He soon justified by deeds the high estimate thus formed respecting
him, for he was charged with the duty of finding transport for the siege
train with its heavy guns, stores and munitions from Delhi to the
battlefields on the bank of the Sutlej; and this transport was to
consist of four thousand carts with bullocks and drivers complete. He
furnished a signal instance of the manner whereby in India the civil
administration aids the army by providing transport in time of war. Such
transport, in quantities adequate for the service, cannot be obtained
without a really powerful organisation; during public emergency it can
by law be forcibly impressed, but when thus collected it is likely to
prove inefficient unless the civil authority makes such arrangements as
may secure the contentment of those from whom the vehicles and the
animals are hired: in this case his arrangements were practically
perfect. Within a very short time he so managed that all the thousands
of carts should be driven by their owners, who, for good hire, partly
paid in advance, became willing to undertake the service. He despatched
the long-extended train in complete order so that it arrived, without
any straggling or deserting, without the failure of a man, a wheel or a
bullock, in time for the battle of Sobraon. For the first time in his
life a public service had been demanded from him of definite importance,
requiring knowledge of the natives, aptitude for command and power of
organisation. He at once stepped to the very front as if to the manner
born. His capacity, too, was evinced in a large affair, wherein the
Governor-General from personal experience was peculiarly qualified to
adjudge the merit. So when, as a consequence of the war, the
Trans-Sutlej States were shorn from the Sikh kingdom and annexed to the
British dominions, he was appointed by Lord Hardinge to be the
Commissioner and Superintendent of the newly-acquired territory.

He quitted his command at Delhi early in 1846, never dreaming of the
wonderful circumstances in which he was destined to resume it only
eleven short years later in 1857. Those who reflect on the reserve
force, the dormant capacity, the latent energy that existed within him,
might imagine poetically the surging thoughts that made his breast heave
as he drove or rode off from the bank of the Jumna with his face set
towards the bank of the Sutlej. But such was not his manner; if he had
leisure to meditate at all, he would have peered into the future with a
modest even a humble look, anticipating the disappointments rather than
the successes that might be in store for him. On his way, though at the
most favourable season of the year, he was seized with a sharp attack of
cholera. From that, however, he rallied quickly, and crossed the Sutlej
in sufficiently good health, and with buoyant spirits.



CHAPTER IV

THE TRANS-SUTLEJ STATES

1846-1849


From the last preceding chapter it has been seen that in March, 1846,
John Lawrence was appointed Commissioner of the territory, known
officially as the Trans-Sutlej States, and geographically as the
Jullundur Doab, containing thirteen thousand square miles and two and a
half millions of inhabitants. He thus became prefect of this
newly-annexed territory, which was placed not under any provincial
Government but under the immediate administration of the
Governor-General in Council. It was divided into three districts, with
district officers who were to exercise power as great as that which he
had possessed at Delhi, in some respects greater indeed, and he was in
command of them all. He was at the head of what was then the frontier
province of the empire, and under the eye of the Governor-General. His
foot was on the first step of the ladder which leads to greatness, but
it was quite doubtful whether he would succeed in mounting any further
steps. His temper was naturally masterful in that degree which is
essential to any considerable achievements in human affairs. This
quality in him had been fostered by his service at Delhi. It had the
fullest play in his new province, which lay half at the base of the
Himalayas and half within the mountains. Below the hills he found the
territory fertile, the population sturdy, and the land with its
inhabitants like plastic clay to be moulded by his hand. Old-standing
wrongs were to be redressed, half-suppressed rights to be vindicated,
tenures to be settled, crimes to be stamped out, order to be introduced
not gradually but rapidly, law to be enforced in spirit if not in
letter, an administration to be rough-hewn after civilised models,
provincial finance to be managed; here, then, he was in his element.
This was, probably, the happiest time of his whole life, and the most
satisfactory portion of his long career. In after years he would recur
to it wistfully, when troubled by other surroundings and beset by other
circumstances. There he had quite his own way, and left his proper mark;
for in a few months he laid broadly and deeply the foundations of good
administration. Besides the civil business, there was other work
demanding his care. The province contained not only the rich and peopled
plain near the confluence of the Sutlej and the Beas, but also a
Himalayan region extending northwards to Tibet and held by mountaineer
chieftains; and he had to reduce this mountainous country also to
reasonable obedience. The results he attained in six months, that is
from March to August 1846, seem on a retrospect to be wonderful, and
prove with what method as well as force, what steadiness as well as
energy, what directness of aim, what adaptation of means to righteous
purposes, he must have laboured. Throughout these affairs he was in
direct and immediate relations with the Government of India from whom
he received ample support. And he more than justified the confidence of
the Governor-General, Lord Hardinge, who had selected him.

Though his new charge in the Trans-Sutlej States was distant not more
than two hundred miles from his old charge at Delhi,--which for
north-western India is a short distance--there was a change of scene.
Around Delhi and Paniput he had seen scenery as flat as that of northern
or south-eastern Europe in the basin, for instance, of the Elbe and the
Oder or of the Don and the Volga. No mountain wall, no abrupt peak, no
wooded eminence, broke for him the monotony of outline, or bounded his
horizon which ran in a complete circle like the horizon at sea. But in
the Trans-Sutlej States on a fine winter’s morn, his northern horizon of
the plains was bounded by a glittering wall of the snowy Himalayas, a
sight which, when beheld by Europeans for the first time, so affects
them that they instinctively raise their hats to the peerless mountains.
Within the lower hills, which are outworks of the greater ranges, he
rode up and down stony bridle-paths or across the sandy beds of
summer-torrents, and gazed at hill-forts on stiff heights, or on castles
like that of Kot-Kangra rising proudly from the midst of ravines with
precipitous surroundings. Penetrating further northwards he reached
mountains, with fir-woods bounded by snow, which reminded him of his
Alpine tour only four years ago, and thought how short that interval
was, and yet how much had happened to him within it. Though not
specially sensitive to the beauties of Nature, he would yet dilate with
something near enthusiasm on the vale of Dhurmsala, with its cultivated
slopes, intersected by a net-work of artificial rivulets or murmuring
brooks, and surrounded by forests of oak and pine, while above the scene
there towered the everlasting snows that look down upon the transient
littleness of man. But he lingered not in any scene, however glorious,
for his heart was with the swarthy population under his charge in the
hot and dusty plains below.

In August, 1846, he was called away to Lahore to act for his brother
Henry as British Resident with the Regency of the Punjab. Here he had a
fresh field of action, which though nominally new was yet one where his
experience of native life enabled him to enter at once with full effect.
He was temporarily the agent of the paramount British power in a Native
State, torn by restless and incompatible factions, and possessing the
_débris_ of a warlike power that had been shattered by British arms in
recent campaigns. He was, however, acting for his brother absent on
leave, on whose lines he loyally worked. But though he had no chance of
showing originality, he yet evinced capacity for that which in India is
called political work, and which though cognate to, is yet distinct
from, civil administration.

He resumed charge of his province, the Trans-Sutlej States, by the end
of 1846, and consolidated his work there during the first half of 1847.
But in August of that year he was again called to act for Henry at
Lahore, who had proceeded on sick leave to England. By this time a
further arrangement had been made, placing the supervision of the
Punjab, during the minority of the Native Prince, under the British
Resident. Consequently during this his second incumbency at Lahore he
enjoyed a largely extended authority, and the evidence he gave of
capacity increased together with his opportunities. He remained at
Lahore from the middle of 1847 to the spring of 1848, when he made over
his political charge to Sir Frederick Currie, and returned to his
province in the Trans-Sutlej States. During this time his friend Lord
Hardinge had been succeeded by Lord Dalhousie as Governor-General.
Hardly had he resumed the civil command of his province when the
rebellion broke out at Mooltan in the southern Punjab, and spread over
the whole country west of Lahore. During the events which followed,
throughout 1848 and up to the spring of 1849, and which have been
regarded by history as constituting the second Punjab War, he held his
provincial command with characteristic vigour. The rebellious fire in
the Punjab sent many sparks into the inflammable materials in the
hill-districts of his jurisdiction. Newly subdued chiefs, occupying
mountainous territories, showed their teeth, and there was anxiety for
the safety of Kot-Kangra, the famous hill-fort which was the key of the
surrounding country; but in an instant he seemed to be ubiquitous. With
scanty resources in troops, and with hastily raised levies, he struck
blows which prevented insurrection from making head. Throughout the war
his Trans-Sutlej province, occupying a critical position between the
elder British dominions and the Punjab, was kept well in hand.

In the beginning of 1849 he repaired to Lahore to confer with Henry, who
had come back from England and resumed charge of the Residency. He
remained in close communication with his brother till after the
termination of the war by the battle of Gujerat in February of that
year. In March he went on his brother’s behalf to Ferozepur, whither the
Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie, had come in order to determine the
fate of the Punjab. There he met Lord Dalhousie for the first time, and
discussed with him the principal matters connected with the annexation
of the country--not the policy of annexing, for that had really been
determined, but rather the best way of carrying that measure into
effect. The conference being verbal and confidential, the substance
cannot be given; but he certainly advised the Governor-General that if
annexation was to be decreed there was not a moment to be lost, for in
the first place the spring crops, the main sources of the land revenue,
were ripening for harvest, and the Government interests would be
sacrificed by delay; and in the second place, the hot weather was coming
on apace, and very few weeks remained wherein the British officers could
possibly move about and establish order in the country. This valuable
and withal characteristic advice of his must have carried due weight
with Lord Dalhousie.

The Punjab being annexed immediately afterwards, he was appointed a
member of the Board of Administration of which Henry was President. The
Board was constituted for managing the country, though the powers of the
Government were reserved for the Governor-General in Council; but its
functions were comprehensive and he was an important member of it.

He was now on the threshold of Anglo-Indian greatness, with nineteen
years’ standing in the service, including two years of furlough in
England. For some time his health had been fairly good; he was in the
zenith of strength and in the prime of life; he was happy in his
domestic circumstances; he was as yet on good terms officially with his
eminent brother Henry as he ever was privately. He had shown himself to
be perfectly equipped for civil administration, competent for extended
command, able in dealing with political contingencies, active in the
field as well as laborious in the cabinet, prompt in suppressing
disturbance, equal to grave emergency. Nevertheless he had not up to
this time conceived any idea of a great future being in store for him.
He had seen men of signal power, whom he reverently regarded, leave
India without reward or external honour, although their fame might live
for generations in the hearts of many millions, and he hardly expected
any different issue for himself.

At the present stage the main points may be reviewed in his public
character which by this time had been cast in its lasting mould. The
basis and framework of his nature assuredly belonged to what is
familiarly known as the British type. The earliest influences brought to
bear upon him had been English absolutely, and the effect, thus produced
at the most impressionable age, abided with him to the end. Later on,
however, a quality developed itself in him which is not especially
English, namely caution. This he derived, no doubt, from his mother’s
Scottish blood. He was an extremely cautious man, and obeyed the
dictates of caution up to the utmost reasonable limit. Whenever he acted
in a dashing and daring manner--as he sometimes had to do--it was only
after a cool, even though a rapid, review of diverse considerations. He
thought that as a race the English are incautious, even impatient in
time of energetic action, and apt to feel too secure and self-sufficing
in time of quiet. When preparing instructions for a possible emergency,
he would often say that they must be so framed as to guard against the
over-impetuous disposition of our countrymen in the presence of danger.
As a cognate quality to caution, he had forethought in the highest
degree. In all considerable affairs he habitually disciplined his mind
to think out the probable or possible future, to perceive beforehand
what might or might not happen, to conjure up the contingencies which
might arise, to anticipate the various turns which events might take.
This faculty must, indeed, be possessed more or less by all who achieve
anything great in public life; but probably few men ever possessed it in
a higher degree than he. For ill-digested policy, or hastily judged
action, or inconsiderate rashness, he had nothing but pity and contempt.
With such a temperament as this he would willingly, indeed anxiously,
listen to all that could be said on the several sides of every question,
collate the opinions of others, and gather local knowledge before making
up his own mind. After that, however, his mind would be made up
decisively without further delay, and would be followed by action with
all his might. Thus he became essentially a man of strong opinions, and
was then self-reliant absolutely. The test of a first-rate man, as
distinguished from ordinary men, is the fitness to walk alone; that was
his favourite expression, meaning doubtless the exercise of undivided
responsibility. Thus he was masterful in temperament. He would yield
obedience readily to those whom he was bound to obey, but would quickly
chafe if the orders he received were couched in inconsiderate terms. He
would co-operate cordially with those from whom he had no right to
expect more than co-operation; but he always desired to be placed in
positions where he would be entitled to command. Though not thirsting
for power in the ordinary sense of the term, he never at any stage of
his career felt that he had power enough for his work and his
responsibilities. He certainly complained often on this score. His
confidence in the justice of his own views was complete, because he knew
that he had thought them out, and was conscious of being gifted with the
power of thinking. Still he was not aggressively dogmatic, nor
uncharitable to contrary opinions on the part of others, but rather
forbearing. He would modestly say that these opinions of theirs should
be respected, but his own view was formed, and he must act upon it.
Hesitancy might be desirable during the stage of deliberation, but was
not, in his mind, permissible when once the conclusions had been
reached, for then it must give place to promptitude in action.

He had one faculty which is characteristic of the best English type,
namely, the power of judging evenly and calmly in regard to the merits
or demerits of those with whom he had to deal. Without undue
predilection he would note the faults or failings of those who on the
whole had his admiration. Equally without prejudice he would make
allowance for the weakness of those whom he reprobated, and would
recollect any countervailing virtue. He was ready to condone errors in
those who were zealous for the public service. But to those who were
lacking in desire for the performance of duty he would show no
consideration, notwithstanding any gifts or accomplishments which they
might possess. In holding a just balance between virtues and faults in
others, or estimating with discrimination the diverse moral and
intellectual qualities of those who were responsible to him, he has
rarely, if ever, been surpassed. It almost necessarily follows that he
was a keen observer and an accurate judge of character in all with whom
he came in contact. He was inclined to believe more in men than in
measures. Almost any plan, he would say, will answer with good men to
execute it, with such men even an inferior system will succeed; but with
bad or indifferent men to work it, the best system will fail.

While the basis of his disposition was British, still there was in him
an Irish element. His heart was with Ulster, and in his hardest times he
would recur to the defence of Londonderry. He was often humorous,
vivacious and laughter-loving, to a degree which is not usual with
Britons of so rough and hard a fibre as his. He was frequently grave and
silent; his temper, too, though very good in reality, was not mild, and
occasionally might seem to be irascible; nevertheless when at his ease,
or off his guard, he would relax at once into smiles and witticisms. If
wrapped up in preoccupation of thought--as was but too often the
case--he must needs be serious. But if not preoccupied, he would look
forth upon the world around him, men, things, animals and objects
generally, with a genial desire to gain amusement from them all, and to
express that amusement in racy terms to any friend or companion who
might be with him. As he moved along a thoroughfare of traffic or the
streets of a city, his talk sparkled like a hill-stream flowing freshly
over a stony bed. His wit was abundantly seasoned by the use of
metaphor. His figures of speech were drawn not only from his native West
but from the East of his adoption. His _repertoire_ and vocabulary were
thus enriched from Oriental resources which abound in imagery. He had in
early years acquired not a scholar-like but a competent knowledge of
Persian. Thus he was able to apply the similes, the tropes, the quirks
of that flowery language to passing objects in a manner which moved
everyone European or Native to laughter. He had an amazing memory for
tales of real life, in the East chiefly, and these he would on occasion
narrate in a vivid or graphic style.

Beneath a rough-hewn exterior there flowed an undercurrent of gentleness
and tenderness which he reserved for his home. In his domestic life he
was thoroughly happy, and fortunate beyond the average lot of mankind.
This had a quieting and softening effect upon him amidst the distraction
and excitement of active life. Never having studied art of any kind, or
paid any attention to music and painting, he would not idealize
anything, nor take an artistic view of the grand and glorious objects in
Nature that often met his eye. But if such an object affected military
or political combinations--as for instance a precipitous defile, a bluff
headland, a treacherous river-passage, a rockbound ravine--then he would
describe it with eloquent, even poetic, illustrations.

He had by nature an acute and far-reaching eyesight, which, however, in
middle life became impaired by excessive reading both in print and
manuscript. But this reading of his ranged for the most part over
official papers only. He read but little of literature generally,--that
little, however, would be in the heroic mould, something that related to
the struggles of ancient Rome, or her contest with Carthage, or the
marches of Alexander the Great, or the stirring episodes of Irish
history, or the English policy of Cromwell, or the travels of
Livingstone. His classical lore extended to Latin only; he knew but
little of Greek and rarely alluded to the efforts of Athens or Sparta.
To the Book of books he turned daily; with its more than mortal
eloquence he had by reverent study familiarised himself. As a steadfast
member of the Church of England, he had passages from the Church
Services read to him constantly. For all other books, too, he would, if
possible, find some one to read aloud, being anxious to spare his eyes.
Had he not lived always in official harness, he would have been
adventurous, for he loved to collate and describe the adventures of
others. Had his leisure sufficed, he would have been a reader of the
fine romances with which our literature is adorned. But he could only
enjoy a few selected works, and his choice fell chiefly on the novels of
Walter Scott. The finest of these would be read out to him in evenings
at home, because, among other reasons, they reminded him of his visit to
Scotland in 1841.

His pen was that of a ready as well as a busy writer, though in all his
life he never wrote a line of literary composition. His writing was
either official or what is called demi-official. In the Delhi territory
his extensive correspondence was mainly in the vernacular, for which
native amanuenses were employed. In the Trans-Sutlej States it was
largely in English, and had to be conducted by his own hand. In the
still higher offices which he was now to fill, the services of
secretaries are available, and he needed seldom to write long despatches
or minutes. Some few reports, however, he did write, and these are
marked throughout by a clear, straightforward and forcible style; the
salient features in a situation, the points in the character of a
person, the elements in a political combination, being sketched offhand
in a simple but telling manner, and even with some degree of picturesque
effect. The excellence in these reports of his, few and far between,
attracted Lord Dalhousie’s notice. He never was content with
communicating his views and wishes officially, but would usually
reinforce his public instructions with private letters. He wrote
privately to all officers of importance whom he wished to impress with
his sentiments. He encouraged them to write to him and he invariably
answered their letters. Distance, separation and other circumstances,
render it necessary to employ writing more largely in India than in any
other country, and certainly his writing was enormous in quantity as
well as varied in interest. Copies were kept of his countless letters,
filling many volumes. Still every letter was short and decisive, for he
tried to spare words and to array his meaning in the most succinct form.
But his extant correspondence is almost entirely of a public nature. The
series of his private letters to his sister Letitia is stated to have
been deliberately destroyed. At the time now under reference the
electric telegraph had not been introduced into India; after its
introduction he seized on this new means of communication, the brevity
of which suited his temperament. In the years between 1856 and 1859
probably no man in the world sent off so many telegrams as he. He had no
practice whatever for public speaking in English, but he could address a
limited audience of Natives, either civil or military, in the vernacular
with point and effect.

Though never courting applause, and ready to incur odium for the sake of
duty, he was not indifferent to the good opinion of others. With all his
reserve, he was more sensitive to sympathy or to estrangement than was,
perhaps, commonly supposed. He had not, during the middle stage of his
career, much to do with the Press or the organs of public opinion. He
was strict in demanding from all men a more than ordinary standard of
work and of exertion, setting an example by his own practice. He was
guarded, even chary, in awarding praise; still for real desert he always
had the good word which was spoken in season and was valued accordingly.
He never forgot that by training and profession he was a Covenanted
Civil Servant, first of the East Indian Company and then of the Crown.
No member of the Covenanted Civil Service was ever more jealous of its
traditions, more proud of its repute, than he. No officer ever laboured
harder than he to learn civil business proper, as distinguished from all
other kinds of business. Yet he was by instinct and temper a soldier,
and was ever studying martial affairs or acquiring military knowledge.
He would familiarly speak of himself as the son of a soldier and the
brother of three soldiers. Herbert Edwardes of Peshawur, who knew him
well and was a competent judge on such a subject, wrote of him as a man
of real military genius.

The crowning grace of his rough-hewn character was a simplicity, the
genuine result of single-mindedness. The light of religion shed a gentle
radiance over his whole life and conversation. For him, too, the path of
religious duty was brightened by his wife’s example.

The habits of his daily life are worth mentioning, as they were
originally and as they became afterwards. Up to the present time, 1849,
he always rose early, and by sunrise all the year round was on horseback
or on foot. Returning home before the sun was high in the heaven, he did
some of his best work indoors before breakfast. This work would be
continued all day till late in the afternoon, when he would be again out
of doors until nightfall. After that he would refrain from work and
retire early. As he had duty out of doors as well as indoors, this
routine was very suitable to the public service and preserved the _mens
sana in corpore sano_. It was kept up by him after 1849 whenever he was
on the march or in camp, for several months in every year, though he
would sometimes drive in a gig or a carriage where formerly he would
have ridden or walked. But it became gradually intermitted when he was
in quarters, that is when he was stationary under a roof, owing to
illness and to the consequent diminution of physical force. He would
then go out in the early morning if there was anything to be done, such
as the inspecting of public works or the visiting of institutions. But
if he did not move out, still he would be at work in his study very soon
after sunrise at all seasons. At no time, however, did he fail to be in
the open air at eventide when the sun was low. He was temperate and
abstemious, and he advocated moderation, believing that in a hot climate
the European constitution is apt to suffer not only from the use of
stimulants but also from excess of animal food.

The mode of his work changed as years rolled on. Up to this time, 1849,
he had to listen and talk more, to read and write less; and for his
constitution this was the best. But after 1849, the process became
reversed by degrees, and he had to read and write very much, which was
detrimental to him. In official diligence and regularity, distributed
evenly over the whole range and course of business, he has never been
excelled and rarely equalled. In the power of despatching affairs of all
sorts great and small, ordinary and emergent, in perfect style for all
practical purposes, he was a master hand. When he had risen to high
office with a secretariat staff at his disposal, his ordinary method was
in this wise. As he read a long despatch or reference he inscribed short
marginal notes as his eye passed on from paragraph to paragraph; or if
the reference was a short one in a folded letter, he would in the fewest
words endorse his opinion on the outer fold. From the marginal notes or
from the endorsements his secretaries would prepare the despatches in
draft, and the drafts in all important cases would be submitted for his
approval. The number of despatches which within a few hours would come
back from him with his marks on them to the secretariat was astonishing.
Again in the largest matters he had a masterly manner of explaining
verbally to a secretary the substance of what was to be written and
touching on the various points. He would thus indicate orally in a few
minutes a course of argument which must for the secretary occupy some
hours in order to express it all in writing. But though no statesman
ever knew better how to make a full use of the secretariat, still he
bore even in writing his full share, and his secretaries entirely joined
in the admiration felt for him by the world at large. Indeed they
esteemed him the most because they knew him the best. Though no longer
brought into hourly intercourse with the Natives all day, he yet kept up
the habit of conversing with them, of receiving visits from them, of
listening to petitions, of gathering information even from the humblest
regarding the hopes and fears, the joys and sorrows of the people. While
anxious to consult the views and wishes of the upper classes, he was
resolved that the industrial masses of the population should be cared
for. He dissented from the opinion which has been sometimes held that
gratitude finds no place in the Oriental vocabulary. Give the Natives
something to be grateful for, he would say, and they will shew gratitude
fast enough.

His appearance was much in accord with the character which has thus been
sketched. He was above the middle height, with a broad and powerful
frame, a forward-gait and a strong stride; though, alas, care, labour
and sickness, as years rolled on, reduced the frame and lessened its
activity. His head was massive, his brow open, his face lined and
furrowed, his eye grey and piercing but somewhat small, his hair
originally dark but slightly silvered even in middle life, his
complexion somewhat sunburnt. His expression was that of majestic
simplicity, but when in repose he had an air of solemnity. His voice in
ordinary talk was neither loud nor deep, but under strong emotion it
could resound powerfully. The most noteworthy feature was his mouth; for
though it might be closely set while the mind was working, yet in
moments of ease it was mobile, and constantly opened with a natural
grace for smiles, or laughter, or the play of wit and fancy. Withal he
was of that rugged type, sometimes termed Cromwellian by his friends,
which affords some of the fittest subjects for the painter or the
sculptor.



CHAPTER V

PUNJAB BOARD OF ADMINISTRATION

1849-1853


In the preceding chapters we have followed the development of John
Lawrence’s character amidst his personal surroundings, without dwelling
upon the condition of the provinces in which he served. But in this
chapter and in the succeeding chapter, we must note specifically the
status and the progress of the great Province in which he is engaged. He
is now in a commanding position, certainly; but the crisis of his life
is not yet come. Against that crisis he is unconsciously to make ready
himself and his province. He is to set his house in order straightway,
because on such ordering must depend the ability of the Punjab for doing
that which it was required to do eight years later. Upon that supreme
ability, on the part of him and his at the crucial moment, hung the fate
of British dominion in the most important part of the Indian empire. The
warship of the Punjab is now in sight, that ship which is not only to
brave the battle and the breeze, bearing her own wounds, but is also to
tow her wounded, battered, half-disabled consort into the haven of
safety. It is well, then, for us to see how she was designed, welded
compactly, built in water-tight compartments, launched and sent to sea.

Further, though John Lawrence has a commanding position, he is not yet
in sole command of the Punjab administration. It is necessary to recount
the circumstances whereby he came to be vested locally with that single
and individual authority which he wielded with immense effect, during
the crisis to be described hereafter.

It has been seen, then, that the Board of Administration for the Punjab
was constituted by Lord Dalhousie in March, 1849. Henry Lawrence was
President of the Board, and John was his colleague. A third member was
also appointed, but after a short time he went away. The successor was
Robert Montgomery, who had been the schoolfellow of the two Lawrences at
Foyle College and a friend to them both equally. He was the one man in
whom each of them would confide, when they differed with one another.
Henry would, in his differences with John, open his heart to Montgomery.
John too would speak of Montgomery as his bhai or brother. In addition
to sterner qualities, the signal display of which will be seen
hereafter, Montgomery possessed all those qualities which are needed for
a peacemaker and mediator. His position at the Board, then, in
conjunction with the two Lawrences was most fortunate. He had the art of
making business move smoothly, rapidly and pleasantly. For the two
brothers did, as will be explained presently, differ not privately nor
fraternally but officially. When differences arise between two such
eminent persons as these, each of them must naturally have his own
adherents, especially as Henry was a military Officer in Staff employ
and John a Covenanted Civil Servant, or in simpler phrase the former was
a soldier and the latter a civilian. Consequently something like party
spirit arose which never was very acute and which has perhaps, under the
influence of time, died away. To attempt any description of Henry
Lawrence here would be to travel beyond the purpose of this book. But he
cannot, even here, be wholly dissociated from the present account of
John’s career. In order to avoid the semblance of passing over or
disparaging Henry, it may suffice now to state briefly and summarily
what he was in 1849, and what he continued to be up to his untimely and
lamented death in 1857. This may preferably be done now, before the
necessity arrives for explaining the difference (respecting certain
public affairs only) which arose between him and his brother.

Henry Lawrence, then, was a man of talent, of poetic temper, of
sentiment, of meteoric energy, and of genius. Though destitute of
external gifts and graces, he yet possessed qualities which were inner
gifts and graces of the soul, and which acted powerfully upon men. From
his spirit an effulgence radiated through an ever-widening circle of
friends and acquaintances. Being truly lovable, he was not only popular
but beloved both among Europeans and Natives. He was generous almost to
a fault, and compassionately philanthropic. Indeed his nature was aglow
with the enthusiasm of humanity. As might perhaps be expected, he was
quick-tempered and over-sensitive. His conversational powers were
brilliant, and his literary aptitude was considerable, though needing
more culture for perfect development. His capacity for some important
kinds of affairs was vast. In emergencies demanding a combination of
military, political and civil measures he has never been surpassed in
India. He was mortally wounded by a shell when at the height of his
usefulness. Had he lived to confront national danger in its extremity,
he would have proved himself to be one of the ablest and greatest men
that ever went forth from the shores of England to vindicate the British
cause in the East. As a civil governor he had some but not all of the
necessary qualifications. He had knowledge, wide and deep, of the Indian
people, sympathy with their hopes and fears, tenderness for their
prejudices, an abiding sense of justice towards them and an ardent
desire for their welfare. He had that mastery of topographical details
which is very desirable in administration. He was zealous in promoting
public improvement and material development. He had a clear insight into
character, and knew perfectly how to select men after his own heart.
These he would attach to himself as disciples to a master. But in a
civil capacity he had several defects. Though he could despatch affairs
spasmodically, he was unsystematic almost unmethodical in business.
Though he might make a system succeed in a certain way while he and his
_alumni_ lived or remained present to exercise control, yet he would not
have been able to carry measures of complexity and establish them on
foundations to stand the test of time. Moreover he was not, and never
could have become, a financier; indeed he was not sufficiently alive to
financial considerations. Great things have indeed been sometimes
accomplished by statesmen and by nations in disregard, even in
contravention, of financial principles; yet he might as a civil
governor, if uncontrolled, have run the State ship into danger in this
respect. Then being by nature impetuous, and possessed with ideas in
themselves noble, he was hard to be controlled.

This short digression is necessary, in order to do justice to a great
and good man who is indissolubly connected with the subject of this
book.

The Board of Administration, then, composed of these three men began,
founded and built up an administration, which lasted without
interruption till 1857, and was the most brilliant that has ever been
seen in India. They had co-ordinate authority, and ostensibly acted in
solidarity. But among themselves there was a division of labour in
ordinary matters: that is to say, Henry took the political and military
departments, John the financial and fiscal including the land
settlements, Montgomery the judicial and the police; while on important
matters pertaining to any department whatever, each of the three members
had his voice, the majority of course prevailing. If figuratively Henry
was the heart of the Board and Montgomery its arm, then John was
veritably its backbone.

Accordingly John had his headquarters permanently fixed at Lahore, and
he straightway proceeded to build himself a home there. He found it to
be really a Mahommedan city, the ancient capital of Moslem dynasties
from Central Asia, which had been retained by the Sikhs as their
political centre, while their national and religious centre was at
Amritsar, some thirty miles off. Its noble mosques, its fortress-palace,
its imperial tombs, must have brought back to his mind the associations
of Delhi. At this time, 1849-50, he was in full health and strength;
alas, these were the last years of unimpaired comfort physically that he
was ever to enjoy. Those who saw in after years the iron resolution and
the energy which even sickness could not subdue, can imagine the
magnificent vigour he threw at this time into the work of pacifying a
much disturbed province, reducing it to order and calling forth its
resources.

There is not space here to describe the territories under the Board of
Administration. Suffice it to say that the British territories comprised
the Cis and Trans-Sutlej States and the Punjab proper, or the basins of
the Indus and its affluents, together with Native States on the east of
the Sutlej, and in the Himalayan region, including the famous valley of
Cashmere. The name Punjab, a Persian word denoting five-waters, refers
to this river-system. The total area of all kinds amounted to one
hundred and thirty-five thousand square miles, and the population to
just twenty millions; both area and population being exclusive of the
Cashmere kingdom. The climate is much the same as that of the Delhi
territory already described, except that the winter is sharper and
longer while the autumn is more feverish. The people, consisting chiefly
of Moslems and Sikhs, was quite the strongest, manliest and sturdiest
that the British had ever had to deal with in India. On two sides the
country was bordered by British districts, and on one side by the
Himalayas. So far, then, the circumstances were favourable. But on the
front or western side, the border touched on Afghanistan for eight
hundred miles, and was the most arduous frontier in the Eastern empire.

The administration, known as that of the Lawrences in the Punjab, was in
its day famous throughout India, and those engaged in it were too busy
to reflect upon its characteristics. But after the lapse of a whole
generation, or more than thirty years, a retrospect of that epoch may be
calmly taken in a summary divested of technicalities.

In 1852 the Board caused a report to be drawn up of their
administration; which is known in Indian history as “The First Punjab
Report.” But it would not now suffice to state, in the words of this
document, that internal peace had been preserved, the frontier guarded,
and the various establishments of the State organised; that violent
crime had been repressed, the penal law executed, and prison discipline
enforced; that civil justice had been administered in a simple and
popular manner; the taxation readjusted and the revenue system reformed;
that commerce had been set free, agriculture fostered, the national
resources developed, and plans for future improvement projected.

Some further explanation is needed to indicate the true position of the
Board in the administrative annals of India. For, together with due
acknowledgment of the zeal, capacity and knowledge, evinced in all these
cardinal matters, it must yet be remembered that these are the very
matters which have always been undertaken either promptly or tardily,
and with more or less of success, by every administration in every
province that has within this century been added to the Indian empire.
Nevertheless the Punjab Board had an unsurpassed, perhaps even an
unequalled merit; and it is well to note exactly in what that merit
consisted; for through this merit alone was the province subdued,
pacified and organised in time, so as to be prepared for the political
storm which it was destined to confront within eight short years. Time
indeed was an essential element in the grand preparation. Upon this
preparedness, as we shall see hereafter, the issue was to depend, either
for victory or for wide-spread disaster, to the British cause in
Northern India.

Now the Board showed its statesmanship because it did straightway,
almost out of hand, with comparative completeness, that which others had
done elsewhere by degrees at first and sometimes incompletely at last.
To enjoin authoritatively the carrying out of such measures and to
describe them when carried out may be comparatively easy; but to carry
them out all at once in a new province under strange conditions, and in
the teeth of innumerable obstacles, is hard indeed. Yet this is what the
Board actually accomplished. It set to work simultaneously upon varied
and intricate subjects, which other authorities elsewhere had been
content, or else had been forced, to undertake by degrees, or piecemeal
one by one according to opportunities in the course of years. But to the
Board every week was precious and every month was eventful. It thus
managed to effect, in a short span of years, as much as had been
effected elsewhere in two or more decades. It is indeed but too easily
conceivable that work done with rapid energy may result in imperfections
injuring the effect of the whole. But the Board’s operations were
masterly in conception, thorough in foundation, business-like in
details. So far the work has never been excelled and seldom rivalled in
other provinces, either before or since that era.

On the other hand, the Board enjoyed several advantages which were
almost unique. Its genius was partly shown in this that such advantages
were seized, grasped tightly and turned to the best use. A mass of
valuable experience has been garnered up amidst the older provinces, and
was available for guidance or encouragement. Thus many projects became
demonstrably practicable as well as desirable, which might otherwise
have been disputable or untenable. The Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie,
having annexed the Punjab, had justly the strongest motives for ensuring
speedy success for the administration of the province. He had at his
disposal the imperial resources, and these were consequently placed at
the disposal of the Board to an extent which has never been seen in any
other Indian province. Again, there was something in the strategic
position, the historic repute, and in the internal circumstances of the
Punjab, to attract the idiosyncrasy of the Anglo-Indian Services;
therefore able and aspiring men were willing to volunteer for service
there, even with all its risks and hardships. Among the internal
circumstances was the national character of the inhabitants, who were
known to be sturdier and straighter than those of other provinces, and
were expected to present more fully a _tabula rasa_, for the proceedings
of British rule. The Board had an insight into character, and a faculty
for choosing men for the administration. Believing its own reputation,
as well as the public good, to depend on this choice, it pursued the
object with circumspection and single-mindedness. Though India is
essentially the land of administrators, yet no governing body in any
province has ever possessed at one time so many subordinates with
talents applicable to so many branches, as the Board had for several
years.

Thus the Board owed something to its auspicious star, but still more to
its own innate power and inherent aptitude.

Apart from the general administration, some few measures may be noticed
here as being peculiar to the Punjab. The first step after annexation
was the disbandment of the late Sikh army. The men had been drawn
chiefly from the class of peasant proprietors. They now reverted to the
ancestral holdings, where their rights and interests were found to be
secured by British arrangements. They were disarmed on being discharged,
and no swords were left to be turned into ploughshares. But they settled
down at once to agriculture, which was at that time more prosperous and
profitable that it had ever been within living memory. Next, the people
at large, by a disarming proclamation, were required to give up their
arms. This they did without hesitation and almost without fail. Their
minds had been overawed by the British victories and their spirit
stupefied by recent defeat. This general disarming tended to the
immediate pacification of the province, and ultimately proved of
priceless advantage during the crisis which supervened eight years
afterwards. If at that moment any men were disposed to raise their hands
against us, they had no weapons to wield.

Then, defensive arrangements were made for the Trans-Indus Frontier,
running as it did for full eight hundred miles at the base of the
mountains which surround the valley of Peshawur and then stretching
southwards, separate India from Afghanistan. The British border, thus
formed, was itself inhabited by wild Moslem races, and was subject to
incursions from still fiercer tribes dwelling in the adjacent hills. To
guard this long-extended frontier a special body of troops, some twelve
thousand men horse and foot, was organised and styled “The Punjab
Frontier Force”; and it was placed not under the Commander-in-Chief of
the Army, but under the Board of Administration. This frontier service
immediately became an object of ambition to the European officers of the
army as affording a school for soldiers and a field for distinction.
Consequently the Board were able to draw from the ranks of the regular
army many of the most promising officers of the day. The Native soldiers
were recruited from among the most martial tribes in the border
mountains, and the Native officers were chosen for personal merit and
social status. Indeed this Force became perhaps the finest body of
Native troops ever arrayed under British banners in India. As will be
seen hereafter, it was able within eight years from this time to render
signal service to the empire during the War of the Mutinies. In these
arrangements the experience and talent of Henry Lawrence were
conspicuously valuable.

Works of material improvement were at once to be undertaken in all parts
of the province, and the Board were fortunate in being able to obtain
for the direction of these operations the services of Major Robert
Napier--now Lord Napier of Magdala.

In those days, before the introduction of railways, the primary object
was to construct the main trunk lines of roads. Such a trunk line had
already been constructed through the older provinces from Calcutta to
Delhi, a distance of about twelve hundred miles. The Board decided to
continue this line from Delhi to Peshawur, a further distance of eight
hundred miles. The viaducts over the Five Rivers were to be postponed,
but the bridging of all lesser streams in the champaign country was to
be undertaken, and especially a good passage made through the rugged
region between the Jhelum and the Indus. At the outset, hopes were
entertained that the Five Rivers would become the water-highways between
this inland province and the coast, and be navigated by vessels with
much steam power and yet with light draught. But there was difficulty
for some years in building suitable vessels for service in the shifting
and shallow channels; and in the end this idea vanished before the
railway system which was advancing from the east.

In the land of the Five Rivers artificial irrigation occupied a
prominent place. A new canal was now undertaken, to be drawn from the
river Ravi, near the base of the Himalayas. It was to water the
territory near Lahore the political capital, and Amritsar the religious
centre, of the Sikhs. This territory was the home of the Sikh
nationality and the most important part of the Punjab.

A feudal system had existed under the Sikh rule and ramified over the
whole country. The status of the Native aristocracy depended mainly upon
it. This system was absorbing much of the State resources, and could not
be maintained under British rule. Its abolition gave rise to individual
claims of intricacy, even of delicacy. These had to be treated
generously and considerately so far as such treatment might consist with
the policy itself, and with the just interests of public finance. In
this department the kindly influence of Henry Lawrence was especially
felt, and he did much to bridge over the gulf between Native and British
rule.

In the civil administration the Board desired that, in the first
instance at least, the forms of British procedure should be simplified,
cheap, speedy and substantial justice dispensed, and affairs conducted
after what was termed the patriarchal model. The native races here were
more frank in their utterance, more open in their demeanour, more direct
in all their ways, than is usual in most parts of India. Every European
officer was directed to cultivate from the outset a friendly
understanding with them, so as to banish all sense of strangeness from
their minds, and to make them feel at home and at ease under the British
rule. This object is indeed aimed at universally in India, but it was
attained with unrivalled success in the Punjab, and thereby was laid the
foundation of that popular contentment which stood the Government in
good stead during the season of dire trial eight years later in 1857.

The intense application, bestowed by the Board on many diverse subjects
simultaneously, aggravated the toils of the members. But they derived
relief and benefit from the division of labour (already mentioned)
whereby for ordinary business the political and military branches were
allotted to Henry, the fiscal and financial to John, the judicial to
Montgomery.

In the fiscal department John found the noblest sphere for his special
ability, because herein was included the settlement of the land
revenue, the all-important scope of which has been explained in a
preceding chapter. Then despite his unfavourable recollections of Etawah
in 1838-39, he must have looked back with some gratitude to that place
which had given him priceless experience in settlement-work. Here he
was, happily for the Punjab, at home and in his element; as a
consequence the field-survey, the assessment of the land-tax, the
adjudication of rights and interests, the registration of tenures, were
conducted with admirable completeness, promptitude and efficiency. He
well knew that such operations were not likely to be turned out complete
offhand; the affairs themselves were novel both to the officials and to
the people; errors, failures, oversights, would occur, but he would have
them rectified, again and again, until at last after re-constructing,
re-casting, re-writing,--a full, accurate and abiding result was
obtained. This cardinal operation has been one of the first cares of the
Government in every province of India; but in no province has it ever
been effected so completely, within a comparatively short time, as it
was in the Punjab under his supervision. Its success conduced largely to
that popular contentment which proved a bulwark of safety to British
rule, during the danger which eight years afterwards menaced the
Province.

Before the Native population, before the world, and for the most part
before the European officers, the Board preserved an unbroken front and
kept up the appearance of solidarity. But though the wheels of the great
machine moved powerfully, and with apparent smoothness, still within the
Board itself there was increasing friction. It became known, not perhaps
to the public, but to the European officers around the centre of
affairs, that Henry and John were not always in accord regarding policy
and practice. And this matter affected the future for both of them, and
especially for John.

Between Henry and John there was agreement in many essential matters
such as the military occupation and the pacification of the province,
the guarding of the Trans-Indus Frontier, the political relations with
the Native States comprised within the Punjab, the development of
material resources, the progressive policy of the administration. They
were absolutely united in the diffusion of zeal among all grades and
classes of officers and officials, and in stamping the best possible
characteristics upon the public service. But they differed more or less
on certain other points, and this difference must unavoidably be
noticed, however briefly, because among other consequences, it had a
considerable effect on the subsequent career of John. It was, however,
official only and did not affect the sentiments of admiration and
affection with which each regarded the other.

The difference then related to three points: the system of collecting
the land revenue, the management of the finances, and the treatment of
the feudal classes on the introduction of British rule. Some brief
allusion must be made to each of these three points.

Under Native rule the land revenue had been collected sometimes in kind
and sometimes in cash. John abhorred the system of collection in kind,
as being the parent of oppressive abuses. His voice was consonant with
the best traditions of British rule, and was at first popular with the
agriculturists. But from various circumstances the prices of produce
fell for several years abnormally, and the men had difficulty in
obtaining money for their produce wherewith to pay their land-tax in
cash. So they began to ask that it might as heretofore be paid in kind.
Henry, partly from tenderness to old customs under Native rule, partly
too from want of familiarity with fiscal abuses, inclined his ear to
these murmurs which were indeed coming to be requests. John of course
insisted on the cash system being maintained, though he was willing,
indeed anxious, that the tax should be so assessed that the people could
pay it easily even in the altered circumstances.

The finance of the province was ever present to the mind of John. Though
keenly anxious for improvements of all sorts, he held that such measures
must be regulated according to the financial means available within the
province. Henry would not deny this in theory but would overlook it in
practice. Having initiated projects tending to civilisation in a newly
annexed province, he would press them forward without adequately
considering how the cost was to be defrayed. He had an inner conviction
that once a very desirable thing had been accomplished successfully, the
difficulties on the score of expenses would either vanish or right
themselves.

The treatment of the feudal classes on the introduction of British rule
depended on a certain method which had been adopted under Native rule in
the Punjab as in other parts of India. The land revenue belonged to and
was the mainstay of the State. The ruler of the day would assign to an
individual the revenue thus receivable from specified lands or villages.
The right of the assignee extended only to the receipt of the land
revenue. It did not necessarily affect the right to the property, that
is to say, he had not thereby any title to collect the rent, as that
would depend on whether he did or did not acquire the property. The
assignment would be made generally on one or other of three grounds, the
maintenance of religious establishments, the bestowal of favour, the
reward or remuneration of services. The difference of opinion between
Henry and John showed itself less on the first of the three grounds, but
more on the second, and still further on the third. The discussion
between the two brothers on the third or feudal ground may be summarised
in this wise.

The Native ruler or sovereign would assign temporarily to his chieftains
the land revenue of certain villages, or whole tracts of territory, on
the condition of feudal service, chiefly military, being rendered. This
service is not wanted under British rule, and cannot be maintained; then
the question arises whether the assignment of the land revenue is to be
continued. Similarly, allowances in cash from the State treasury are
made to local chiefs in consideration of duty nominal or real being
performed. This duty cannot be accepted under British rule, and a
discussion springs up regarding the extent to which the allowances are
to be withdrawn. When these cases exist on a large scale, involving
extensive interests, it will be seen at a glance that there is much room
for divergence of opinion between statesmen equally able, humane and
conscientious. Henry thought that liberal concessions ought to be made
to these feudal classes, for reasons of policy in allaying discontent
among influential sections of the community. He held that the greater
part of the former grants ought to be continued, although the
obligation of service might be remitted. This must be effected, despite
the financial cost which such arrangements might involve. John would
rejoin that these grants must at once be curtailed, and provision made
for their cessation on the demise of present incumbents. The government
could not bear the double expense of continuing grants for the old
service just dispensed with, and of defraying the charge of the newly
organized service which the British Government must introduce according
to its own ideas.

This is but a bare summary of a large and complex question, affecting
not only thousands but tens of thousands of cases scattered all over the
country. Upon such a question as this the social contentment and the
financial equilibrium of the province largely depended. This much of
notice is needed in order to show how the matter concerned the career
and fortunes of John.

The Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie, became aware of the growing
difference of opinion between Henry and John, but viewing it from afar
he thought at first that more good than harm would result. He had the
highest respect for both the brothers, but knowing them to have an
independent will and potential force of character, he surmised that each
might be inclining towards an extreme and that one would correct the
other. Moreover he saw that the friction produced apparently that mental
heat which supplied force to move the administration on and on towards
success. With the excellent results displayed before him in the “First
Punjab Report” in 1852, he was little disposed to interfere with the
mechanism, and hoped that the two eminent brothers might gradually learn
_componere lites_. But afterwards he began to perceive that this
difference was working harm inasmuch as the discussions not only
produced delay, but sometimes caused important matters to be put aside
on account of the diversity of argument, for which no solution could be
found.

Had these conditions lasted, moreover, an additional evil must have
arisen; for in the ranks of the public service two parties would have
sprung up. Each brother was loyal to the other, and was as reticent as
possible regarding the difference in opinion between them. Still
inevitably the fact transpired, and accordingly some officers agreed
with Henry and others with John. Though these good men obeyed orders,
yet those orders would be issued only after their views had been
submitted and considered. These views would become tinged with the
colouring of the thought in two schools of opinion. It must be added
that the Natives, who had concessions to ask, were persuasively
insistent with their requests. Eloquence is one of nature’s gifts to
Oriental races. The skill with which a native will plead his cause in
the ear of a listening official, is conceivable only to those Europeans
who have experienced it. In these particular cases much that was
dramatic or historical, affecting or pathetic, would be urged. Even the
sterner mind of John would be touched sometimes, and much more so the
more susceptible heart of Henry. Then the susceptibilities of the latter
would be taken up by the officers who had been chosen by him for service
in the Punjab. In the turn which events took, the formation of two
parties, and the detriment to the public service which would have
followed, were avoided.

Soon Lord Dalhousie and his Council at Calcutta concluded that an
opportunity must be taken to effect a change; and that as one only of
the two brothers should remain in the Punjab, John must be the man.
While this conclusion was affecting the mind of the Governor-General, it
so happened that, on an important vacancy occurring elsewhere, both
brothers simultaneously offered to resign their positions in the Punjab
and take service in some other part of India. This precipitated the
decision of the Supreme Government.

That decision was communicated to Henry Lawrence by Lord Dalhousie in a
memorable letter, from which some passages may be quoted to show
historically how the matter stood.

     “It has for some time been the recorded opinion of the Supreme
     Government that, whenever an opportunity occurred for effecting a
     change, the administration of the Punjab would best be conducted by
     a Chief Commissioner, having a Judicial and a Revenue Commissioner
     under him. But it was also the opinion of the Government that,
     whenever the change should be made, the Chief Commissioner ought to
     be an officer of the Civil Service. You stand far too high, and
     have received too many assurances and too many proofs of the great
     estimation in which your ability, qualities, and services have been
     held by the successive governments under which you have been
     employed, to render it necessary that I should bear testimony here
     to the value which has been set upon your labours and upon your
     service as the head of the administration of the Punjab by the
     Government over which I have had the honour to preside. We do not
     regard it as in any degree disparaging to you that we,
     nevertheless, do not consider it expedient to commit the sole
     executive charge of the administration of a kingdom to any other
     than to a thoroughly trained and experienced civil officer.
     Although the Regulations do not prevail in the Punjab, and
     although the system of civil government has wisely and
     successfully been made more simple in its forms, still we are of
     opinion that the superintendence of so large a system, everywhere
     founded on the Regulations, and pervaded by their spirit, can be
     thoroughly controlled and moulded, as changes from time to time may
     become necessary, only by a civilian fully versed in the system of
     the elder provinces and experienced in its operation.

     “As the Government entertained these views, it became evident that
     the change it contemplates in the form of administration could not
     be effected, nor could the dissensions existing be reconciled,
     unless it were agreeable to you to transfer your services to some
     other department.

     “The result of our consideration was the statement I have now to
     make, that if you are willing to accept Rajputana, the Government
     will be happy to appoint you to it, with a view to effecting the
     change of the form of administration in the Punjab, to which I have
     already referred.”

So Henry departed for Rajputana in 1853, with honour acknowledged of all
men, and amidst the sorrowing farewells of friends, European and Native.
He left a fragrant memory behind him as he crossed the Sutlej for the
last time on his way to Rajputana, whither countless good wishes
followed his course. But no man then anticipated the grave events which,
within four years, would open out for him in Oude a sphere as grand as
that which he was now quitting.

Thus after a term of four years’ service in the Board of Administration,
that is from 1849 to 1853, John Lawrence was left in sole command of the
Punjab. But though his nerve was unimpaired, his capacity developed, his
experience enlarged, he was not physically the same man at the end of
this term that he was at the beginning. In October, 1850, at Lahore, he
had been stricken down by a severe fever, as bad as that from which he
had suffered just ten years previously at Etawah, and his health never
was fully restored after that shock. He, however, recovered sufficiently
to accompany Lord Dalhousie on a march in the Punjab during the winter
months, and afterwards in the following spring 1851 to examine the
condition of the Peshawur valley. The ensuing months he spent at Simla
in company with his wife and children.

Then, for the first time in his toil-worn life, he enjoyed the blessings
of a Himalayan retreat, after the torrid heat and the depressing damp of
twenty previous summers. He resorted thither, not on leave but on duty,
by the special direction of Lord Dalhousie who was there also. He was
indeed obliged to quit Lahore for that summer, and had not a retreat to
Simla been open to him, he must for a time have relinquished his office
in the Punjab. As he ascended the Simla mountains, seven to nine
thousand feet above sea-level, the sight of the Himalayas was not new to
him, for he had seen them in the Trans-Sutlej States; twice also he had
paid brief visits to Simla itself. How pleasant, then, through the
summer of 1851, was it for him to bask in mild sunshine, to drink in the
balmy air, to recline in the shadows of oaken glades, to roam amidst
forests of pine and cedar, to watch the light gilding peak after peak in
the snowy range at sunrise, to perceive through a field-glass at sunset
the familiar Sutlej winding like the thinnest of silver threads through
the distant plains, to note the rain-clouds rolling up the mountain
sides, to hear the thunder-peals echo among the crags! These things
would have been delights to him even as a visitor in the easiest
circumstances, in hale robustness, in all the pride of life; but no pen
can describe what they were to the over-taxed brain, the strained
nerves, the fevered constitution, the shaken strength--such as his. He
revived apace and remained in official harness, having taken the most
important part of his work with him, and receiving by the daily post his
papers and despatches from Lahore. Further, he had the advantage of
personal intercourse with Lord Dalhousie, and thus formed a friendship
which, at first official, soon became personal. After two or three
months of this changed life, his old vivacity returned, and his
conversation was almost as it had been in England and Ireland. But
recurrence of Indian fever after an interval is almost a rule, and his
case was no exception. At Simla in the autumn his Lahore fever
reappeared severely, just a year after its original appearance. This
time he was stronger to meet the attack, and so threw it off. But he
rose from the sick-bed, for the second time in thirteen months, with
vitality impaired. He was, as the event proved, sufficiently recovered
to escape any serious illness for nearly three years, and to work
without interruption till 1854. But during this summer of 1851, he
calmly reviewed his position. He thus actually prepared himself for
closing the important part of his career, and for speedily retiring from
the public service. With his usual forethought, and in his unassuming
way, he would reckon up his resources, and estimate how to live in some
quiet and inexpensive place in England on a modest competency. But
Providence decreed otherwise, and the possible necessity, though ever
borne in mind, did not reach the point of action. So in the early
winter he returned to his post at Lahore, to mix in all the troublous
discussions, and to bear the official fatigues which have been already
mentioned, until the spring of 1853, from which point our narrative
takes a fresh departure.

Though now left, in his own phrase, to walk alone--the very course most
acceptable to him--he ever remembered his absent brother. In after years
he was anxious that Henry’s name should be linked with his own in the
annals of the Punjab. At Lahore in 1864, at the culminating point of his
fame, and in the plenitude of his authority--when the memory of former
differences had long been buried in his brother’s grave--he used these
words in a speech to the assembled princes and chiefs of the province:
“My brother Henry and I governed this province. You all knew him well,
and his memory will ever dwell in your hearts as a ruler who was a real
friend of the people. We studied to make ourselves acquainted with the
usages, feelings and wants of every class and race, and to improve the
condition of all.”



CHAPTER VI

CHIEF COMMISSIONER OF THE PUNJAB

1853-1857


The governing idea, as set forth at the outset of the last chapter, must
be sustained in this chapter also. The administration of the Punjab,
already sketched, must be yet further delineated; for upon its
completeness depended the ability and sufficiency of the province to
keep its own head aloft in the rising tide, and to hold up its
neighbours amidst the dashing breakers of the rebellion destined to
occur only four years later. We need not ask what would have happened
had the Punjab been governed with feebleness and inefficiency, because
such defects are not to be anticipated under British rule; but the
chance was this, that even under an ordinarily fair administration, the
preparation of the province might not have been effected within the too
short time allowed by events,--that, for instance, the pacification had
not been perfect, the frontier tribes not entirely over-awed, the
dangerous classes not fully disarmed, the feudal classes not conciliated
by timely concessions, the land-settlement not complete, the agrarian
disputes not quite composed, the official establishments not so
organized as to call forth all the provincial resources at a moment’s
notice. For all these things in combination, an extraordinarily good
administration was needed, and that the Punjab had. Without that, the
province must have been submerged by the floods of rebellion in 1857,
and then all Northern India, the finest part of the Indian empire, must
have succumbed.

John Lawrence was now, during the spring of 1853, installed in the sole
and chief command of the Punjab, with the title of Chief Commissioner,
and without any colleague of equal station with himself. This title was
created on this occasion for the first time in India, and has since been
borne by other men in other provinces; but the fact of its being
originally borne by him has invested it with peculiar dignity, and
rendered every one proud to bear it. The Punjab had been divided from
the beginning of British rule, under his Board, into seven divisions,
each being under the civil command of a Commissioner--namely, the
Cis-Sutlej on the east of that river, the Trans-Sutlej on the west, the
central or Lahore division round the capital, the southern division
around Mooltan near the confluence of the Indus and its tributaries, the
Sind Sagar division on the east of the Middle Indus,--Sind being the
original name of Indus--the Peshawur division comprising that famous
valley with the surrounding hills, and the Derajat division at the base
of the Sulemani range dividing India from Afghanistan. These seven
divisions or commissionerships being placed under him, he was styled the
Chief Commissioner. In the management of the country he was assisted by
two high officers styled the Judicial Commissioner for law and justice,
and the Financial Commissioner for revenue and general administration.
His colleague in the late Board, Montgomery, filled the Judicial
Commissionership. The Financial Commissionership was, after a year,
filled by Donald Macleod, who had been for some time Commissioner of the
Trans-Sutlej division. Macleod was eminently worthy of this post in all
respects save one. Though prompt and attentive in ordinary affairs, and
most useful in emergencies, he had a habit of procrastination in matters
requiring deliberative thought. Despite this drawback, he was one of the
most eminent men then in India. His scholar-like acquirements, his
profound knowledge of eastern life and manners, his refined intellect
and polished manner, rendered him an ornament to the Punjab service.
Moreover, he had a serene courage, a calm judgment amidst turmoil and
peril, which, during the troublous years to come, stood him and his
country in good stead.

Thus John Lawrence was blessed with two coadjutors after his own heart,
who were personally his devoted friends, who set before all men the
example which he most approved, and diffused around the very tone which
he wished to prevail. He was in complete accord with them; they were
proud to support him, he was thankful to lean on them. No doubt the
recent tension with his brother, amidst the urgency of affairs, had
affected his health. With him as with other men, the anxiety of
undecided controversy, the trial of the temper, the irritating annoyance
of reiterated argument, caused more wear and tear than did labour and
responsibility. But now he began to have halcyon days officially. His
spirits rose as the fresh air of undivided responsibility braced his
nerves. Though far from being physically the man he was before the
illness of 1850, he was yet sufficiently well to give a full impulse to
the country and its affairs, and he girded himself with gladness for the
work before him. Like the good ship _Argo_ of old, he propelled himself
with his own native force--

    “Soon as clear’d the harbour--like a bird--
     _Argo_ sprang forward with a bound, and bent
     Her course across the water-path.”

The administration of the county proceeded in the same course, even
along the same lines and in the same grooves, under him as under the
late Board. There may have been some change in tendency here and there,
or rather existing tendencies may have been drawn a little in this or
that direction; but for the most part he introduced no perceptible
modification. This fact may appear strange, when the differences of
opinion between him and his brother are remembered. These differences,
however, had been reserved as much as possible for discussion _inter
se_, and so kept back from the public eye; thus many important matters
had for a time been laid aside; consequently he had not anything to undo
in these matters, for in fact nothing had finally been done. So he had
no decisions to reverse in cases which had for a while been left
undecided. But being relieved from the irritation of controversy, he
paid more regard to the known opinions or the recorded convictions of
his now absent brother, than perhaps he had done when the brother was
present to press the counter-arguments. Thus he succeeded in carrying on
the administration without any external break of continuity. If anything
like the formation or growth of two schools or parties of opinion among
the civil officers had begun, that ceased and disappeared at once. All
men knew that the public policy would be directed by one guiding hand,
and that when all those who had a claim to be consulted had said their
say, a decision would be pronounced which must be obeyed _ex animo_. But
this obedience was rendered easy, because no marked deflection from
former principle or procedure was perceptible. It had for some time been
notified in various ways that the expenses were growing too fast for the
income, and greater financial strictness would be required. None were
surprised, therefore, when a more rigid adjustment of expenditure in
reference to revenue, and of outlay to resources, was introduced. The
Board had designed to adjust the income and expenses so that the
Province should from its provincial revenues defray the cost of its
administration and contribute a share towards defraying the cost of the
army cantoned within its limits; and he carried that financial design
into full effect. It was not expected of him that his Province should
pay for the whole of that army which defended the empire as well as the
Province. But he managed that his provincial treasury should give its
proper quota.

In most, perhaps almost all, other respects the conduct of business was
the same as that described as existing under the late Board. The march
of affairs was rapid and the stream flowed smoothly. The only novelty
would be the introduction of additional improvements according to the
opportunities of each succeeding year, and the growing requirements of
the time. Such improvements were a brief digest of Native law and of
British procedure for the use of the courts of justice, commonly called
at the time the Punjab Code; the taking of a census and other
statistics; the introduction of primary education under State agency,
and others.

In weighing the burden which now fell on John Lawrence’s shoulders, it
is to be remembered that though before the public and at the bar of
history he was the virtual Governor of the Punjab, yet the Government
was not technically vested in him, nor had he the status and title of
Lieutenant-Governor. As Chief Commissioner he was the deputy of, or the
principal executive authority under, the Governor-General in Council.
Not only was he under the constant control of the Government of India,
but also he had to obtain the specific sanction of that supreme
authority for every considerable proceeding, and for the appointment of
every man to any office of importance. Being high in the confidence of
the Government of India, he was almost always able to obtain the
requisite sanction, which was, as a general rule, given considerately
and generously. On a historic retrospect it may appear that he ought
then to have been appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, on an
equal footing with the Lieutenant-Governors of the North-Western
Provinces and of Bengal, and that he who really did the work and bore
the responsibility should also have had the rank and the status. But at
that time _dîs aliter visum_. The point ought however to be mentioned
here, because it greatly affected the extent of his labours and
anxieties. It was one thing for him to devise and arrange what ought to
be done, and to prepare for carrying it out; but it was an additional
thing for him to obtain the sanction on grounds to be set forth in every
important case. The selection of the right men to fill the various
offices of trust fell upon him. But instead of appointing them
straightway to the places, he had to obtain sanction, in view of which
sanction some explanation would have to be rendered. Sometimes, too, the
Government of India might desire to appoint some officer other than the
one whom he had recommended. Thereupon he would be sure to press his
view, believing that the success and efficiency of his work depended on
the fitting man being placed in the right position. Being regarded by
the Governor-General with generous confidence, he almost invariably
carried his point. But the correspondence, official and private, caused
hereby was considerable, and the anxiety was greater still. But although
as Chief Commissioner he found the work more laborious than it would
have been to him as Lieutenant-Governor, still he gladly accepted the
position with this drawback, because within his jurisdiction he had his
own way. He must come to an understanding with the Government of India
indeed; but once he had succeeded in that, no colleague at home, no high
officer near his provincial throne, could challenge his policy. This
autonomy, even with its unavoidable limitations, was a great boon to a
man of his temperament.

Having set to work under new and favourable conditions, he pursued his
task with what in many men would be termed ardour and enthusiasm. These
qualities were evinced by him, no doubt, but in his nature they were
over-borne by persistency and determination. Thus it would be more
correct to say that he urged on the chariot of state with disciplined
energy. He well knew, as the Board before him had known, that the
results of large operations must in the long run be well reported for
public information. But he held that the reporting might be deferred for
a short season. Meanwhile he would secure actual success; the work
should from beginning to end be accurately tested; it should be tempered
and polished like steel and finished _usque ad unguem_. Some officers
would ensure an excellent quality of work with great pains, but then
they would fall short in quantity; others would despatch a vast
quantity, but then it would be of inferior quality; he would have both
quality and quantity, all the work that came to hand must be performed
in time, but then it must also be done well. Nothing is more common even
for able administrators than to lean too much towards one or the other
of these two alternatives; no man ever held the balance between the two
better than he, and very few could hold it as well. In no respect was
his pre-eminence as an administrator more marked than in this. In the
first instance he would prepare no elaborate despatches, indite no
minutes, order no detailed reports to be prepared, write no long
letters. He would have action absolutely, and work rendered complete.
His management of men may be aptly described by the following lines from
Coleridge’s translation of Schiller:

    “Well for the whole, if there be found a man
     Who makes himself what nature destined him,
     The pause, the central point, to thousand thousands--
     Stands fixed and stately like a firm-built column.

           *       *       *       *       *

    “How he incites and strengthens all around him,
     Infusing life and vigour. Every power
     Seems as it were redoubled by his presence;
     He draws forth every latent energy,
     Showing to each his own peculiar talent.”

He knew that an administrator shines, not only in what he does himself,
but also in what he induces others to do, that his policy will in part
be tested by the character of the men whom he raises up around him, that
the master is recognised in his pupils, and that if his work is to live
after him, he must have those ready who will hand on the tradition, and
will even take his place should he fall in the battle of life. His aim,
then, was to establish a system and found a school.

During 1853 and the early part of 1854 he remained in fair health,
though not in full strength according to his normal standard. During the
early summer of 1854 he sojourned at Murri, a Himalayan sanatorium in
the region between the Jhelum and the Indus. At this sanatorium, six to
eight thousand feet above sea-level, he enjoyed the advantages which
have been already described in reference to Simla. His horizon was
bounded by the snowy ranges that overlook the valley of Cashmere. About
midsummer he returned to his headquarters at Lahore in the hottest time
of the year, and he was once more stricken down with illness, from the
effects of which he certainly did not recover during the remainder of
his career in the Punjab. Fever there was with acute nervous distress,
but it was in the head that the symptoms were agonizing. He said with
gasps that he felt as if _rakshas_ (Hindoo mythological giants) were
driving prongs through his brain. The physicians afforded relief by
casting cold douches of water on his head; but when the anguish was over
his nerve-system seemed momentarily injured. Afterwards when alluding to
attacks of illness, he would say that he had once or twice been on the
point of death. Perhaps this may have been one of the occasions in his
mind. For a man of his strength the attack hardly involved mortal
danger; still it was very grave and caused ill effects to ensue. After a
few days he rallied rapidly, went back to Murri, and resumed his work,
disposing of the arrears which in the interval had accumulated.
Doubtless he returned to duty too soon for his proper recovery, but this
was unavoidable.

After 1854 he spent the summer months of each year at Murri, having been
urged to do so by the Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie.

At various times he visited several of the Native States under his
charge, exchanging courtesies, conforming to their ceremonial usages,
holding Oriental levees, and mixing in scenes of Asiatic pomp amidst
localities of exceeding picturesqueness. He strove to set the seal on
their contentment--hardly anticipating how soon he would have to require
them to draw their swords for the Empire. He again visited Peshawur,
directed operations against some offending hill-tribes, and marched
along the whole Trans-Indus frontier.

In 1854 he caused a report of his civil administration to be prepared.
This report recounted the efforts made for imparting force and vigour to
the police, simplicity and cheapness to civil justice, popularity to
municipal institutions, salubrity and discipline to the prisons,
security to the landed tenures, moderation as well as fixity to the
land-tax. It narrated the beginning of a national education, and the
establishment of institutions such as dispensaries and hospitals,
evincing a practical interest in the well-being of the people. It
adverted specially to the construction of roads and bridges in the face
of physical difficulties, the excavation of canals, the patrolling of
the highways and the erection of caravan-serais. None could then foresee
the enormous service which these highways would render to the British
cause during the troubles which were in store for the country.

In corroboration of this summary, the following testimony was afterwards
afforded in 1859 in a farewell address presented to him by his officers,
when he was about to lay down his power, and to quit them perhaps for
ever. Most of them were either eye-witnesses, or otherwise personally
cognisant, of what they relate.

     “Those among us who have served in political and diplomatic
     capacities know how you have preserved friendly relations, during
     critical and uncertain times, with the native principalities by
     which this province is surrounded; how, all along an extended,
     rugged, and difficult frontier, you have successfully maintained an
     attitude of consistency and resolution with wild and martial
     tribes, neither interfering unduly, on the one hand, nor yielding
     anything important on the other.

     “Those among us who are immediately connected with the civil
     administration know how, in the interior of the country, you have
     kept the native chiefs and gentry true to their allegiance by
     strictness tempered with conciliation; how emphatically you have
     been the friend of the middle and lower classes among the natives,
     the husbandman, the artisan, and the labourer. They know how, with
     a large measure of success, you have endeavoured to moderate
     taxation; to introduce judicial reforms; to produce a real security
     of life and property; to administer the finances in a prudent and
     economical spirit; to further the cause of material improvements,
     advancing public works so far as the means, financial and
     executive, of the Government might permit; to found a popular
     system of secular education; to advocate the display of true
     Christianity before the people, without infringing those
     principles of religions toleration which guide the British
     Government in dealing with its native subjects. They know how you
     have always administered patronage truly and indifferently for the
     good of the State. To the civil officers you have always set the
     best example and given the soundest precepts, and there are many
     who are proud to think that they belong to your school.”

In this address the maintenance of order along the frontier Trans-Indus
is mentioned prominently, and indeed this thorny subject had engaged his
attention almost incessantly. He had been obliged frequently to order
military expeditions against the martial and intractable tribes
inhabiting that wild border. No such difficult frontier having
previously been incorporated in British India, his policy though
unavoidable was in some degree novel, and the public mind became at
times agitated, perhaps even mistrustful of the necessity for this
frequent recourse to arms. In 1855, at Lord Dalhousie’s suggestion, he
caused his Secretary to draw up a report of the expeditions which had
been undertaken, and of the offences which had afforded not only
justification but grounds of necessity. That report was an exposition of
his frontier policy at the time.

This frontier was described as being eight hundred miles in length. The
tribes were grouped in two categories, one having one hundred and
thirty-five thousand, the other eighty thousand fighting men, real
warriors, brave and hardy, well armed though undisciplined. After a
precise summary of the chronic and heinous offences perpetrated by each
tribe within British territory, the character of the tribes generally
was set forth. They were savages, noble savages perhaps, and not without
some tincture of generosity. They had nominally a religion, but
Mahommedanism, as understood by them, was no better, or perhaps
actually worse, than the creeds of the wildest races on earth. In their
eyes the one great commandment was blood for blood. They were never
without weapons: when grazing their cattle, when driving beasts of
burden, when tilling the soil, they bore arms. Every tribe and section
of a tribe had its internecine wars, every family its hereditary
blood-feuds, and every individual his personal foes. Each tribe had a
debtor and creditor account with its neighbours, life for life.

They had descended from the hills and fought their battles out in our
territory; they had plundered or burnt our villages and slain our
subjects; they had for ages regarded the plain as their preserve, and
its inhabitants as their game. When inclined for cruel sport, they had
sallied forth to rob and murder, and occasionally took prisoners into
captivity for ransom. They had fired upon our troops, and even killed
our officers in our own territories. They traversed at will our
territories, entered our villages, traded in our markets; but few
British subjects, and no servant of the British Government, would dare
to enter their country on any account whatever.

On the other hand the British Government had recognised their
independence; had confirmed whatever fiefs they held within its
territory; had never extended its jurisdiction one yard beyond the old
limits of the Sikh dominions or of the Punjab as we found it. It had
abstained from any interference in, or connection with, their affairs.
Though permitting and encouraging its subjects to defend themselves at
the time of attack, it had prevented them from retaliating afterwards
and making reprisals. Though granting refuge to men flying for their
lives, it had never allowed armed bodies to seek protection in its
territory. It had freely permitted these independent hill-people to
settle, to cultivate, to graze their herds, and to trade in its
territories. It had accorded to such the same protection, rights,
privileges, and conditions as to its own subjects. It had freely
admitted them to its hospitals and dispensaries; its medical officers
had tended scores of them in sickness, and sent them back to their
mountain homes cured. The ranks of its service were open to them, so
that they might eat our salt and draw our pay if so inclined.

Then a list was given of the expeditions, some fifteen in number,
against various tribes between 1849 and 1855, and the policy of these
expeditions was declared to be reasonable and just. If murder and
robbery still went on, in spite of patience, of abstinence from
provocation and of conciliation, then what but force remained? Was the
loss of life and property with the consequent demoralisation to continue
or to be stopped? If it could only be stopped by force, then was not
force to be applied? The exertion of such force had proved to be
successful. The tribes after chastisement usually professed and evinced
repentance. They entered into engagements, and for the first time began
to keep their faith. They never repeated the offences which had brought
on the punishment. In almost every case an aggressive tribe behaved
badly before, and well after, suffering from an expedition.

By this policy the foundation was laid of a pacification whereby these
border tribes were kept quiet most fortunately during the trouble of
1857, which is soon to be narrated. Had a feeble or inefficient
treatment been adopted towards them from the beginning, they would have
become thereby emboldened to rush upon us in the hour of our weakness.
As it was, they had been accustomed to a firm yet just policy. The awe
of us still rested on them for a while, and they refrained from mischief
at a time when they might have done grievous damage. Further, this
policy, steadily promoted by Lawrence’s successors for fully twenty
years, has rendered the British border Trans-Indus one of the most
satisfactory portions of the Indian empire. In no line of country is the
difference between British and Oriental rule more conspicuous than in
this.

The consideration of the Frontier Policy, up to the end of 1856, leads
up to the relations between Afghanistan and India. The Punjab as the
adjoining province became naturally the medium of such relations.

Up to 1854 the administrators of the Punjab had no concern in the
affairs of Afghanistan. The Amir, Dost Mahommed, who had been reinstated
after the first Afghan war, in 1843, was still on the throne, but he was
far advanced in years, and dynastic troubles were expected on his death.
Since the annexation of the Punjab, he and his had given no trouble
whatever to the British. The intermittent trouble, already mentioned on
the Trans-Indus Frontier, arose not from the Afghans proper, but from
border tribes who were practically independent of any government in
Afghanistan. But by the events connected with the Crimean war in 1854,
British apprehensions, which had been quiescent for a while, were again
aroused in reference to Central Asia generally, and to Afghanistan as
our nearest neighbour. The idea, which has in later years assumed a
more distinct form, then arose that Russia would make diversions in
Central Asia in order to counteract any measures which England might
adopt towards Turkey. This caused John Lawrence to express for the first
time his official opinion on the subject. He would, if possible, have
nothing to do with Afghanistan. If Russia were to advance as an enemy
towards India, he would not meet her by way of Afghanistan. He would
await such advance upon the Indus frontier, which should be rendered for
her impassable. The counteracting movement by England should, in his
opinion, be made not in Asia but in Europe; and Russia should be so
attacked in the Baltic and the Black Sea, that she would be thereby
compelled to desist from any attempt to harass India from the quarter of
Central Asia.

       *       *       *       *       *

In these days he received a deputation from the Khan of Kokand, one of
the three well-known Khanates adjoining Siberia, who feared absorption
into the Russian empire. But he deemed assistance from the British side
to be impracticable, and after obtaining the instructions of Lord
Dalhousie, he entertained the deputation kindly but sent it back with a
negative reply; and the Khan’s fear of absorption was soon afterwards
realised.

Then, in consequence of the hostile movements of Persia against
Afghanistan, presumably with indirect support from Russia, he received
proposals from Colonel (afterwards Sir Herbert) Edwardes, the talented
and distinguished Commissioner of Peshawur, for an alliance with the
Afghan ruler. He strongly advised the Governor-General not to enter into
any relations with Afghanistan, but added, as in duty bound, that if
such relations were to be undertaken, he would do his best to arrange
them satisfactorily. He then, under Lord Dalhousie’s direction, in
company with Edwardes, met Sirdar Gholam Hyder the heir-apparent of the
Amir Dost Mahommed at Peshawur in the spring of 1855. Thereupon he
concluded a treaty, obliging the two parties mutually to respect each
other’s dominions, also binding the Amir to be the friend of the friends
and the enemy of the enemies of the British Government, without imposing
on it any corresponding obligation. But though the treaty was simple,
his negotiations with the Afghan prince were complex, and in these he
was duly assisted by Edwardes, with whom the policy had originated, and
to whom he rendered full acknowledgment.

He was recommended by Lord Dalhousie for honours from the Crown, and was
made a Knight Commander of the Bath early in 1856, just after Lord
Dalhousie had been succeeded by Lord Canning.

He was shortly afterwards, in 1856, consulted by Lord Canning regarding
the war which the British Government was declaring against Persia for
her conduct towards Herat, a place then deemed to be the key of
Afghanistan on the western side. In the autumn of that year he was
startled by news of the fall of Herat into Persian hands, and by
proposals from Edwardes for rendering effective aid to the Afghan Amir.
Again he opposed these proposals, with an intimation that if the
Governor-General, Lord Canning, should accept them he would do his
utmost to secure their success. As they were accepted by the Government
of India he repaired early in 1857 to Peshawur to meet the Amir Dost
Mahommed. At the Amir’s special request, he crossed the British portal
of the Khyber Pass, and proceeded for a full march inside that famous
defile. The crags and heights echoed with the boom of the guns fired
from the Afghan camp to salute his arrival. There was much of weirdness
and wildness in the aspect of the Afghan levee which was there held in
his honour, an aspect which betokened the desperate character of many of
the chiefs there assembled. He was then accompanied by Dost Mahommed to
Peshawur, and again assisted by Edwardes in the tedious negotiations
which followed. He concluded an additional treaty with Dost Mahommed,
confirming that which had been already made with Gholam Hyder, and
agreeing to afford the Amir a subsidy of a lac of rupees, or £10,000,
monthly with a present of four thousand stand of arms, on the condition
that a European officer should be temporarily deputed, not to Caubul but
to Candahar, and with an assurance that in deference to Afghan
susceptibility, the British Government would not propose to despatch any
European officer to Caubul unless circumstances should change.

This treaty established relations between the British empire and
Afghanistan which have lasted, with some brief but stormy interruptions,
for thirty years up to the present time. It was concluded on the eve of
the war of those mutinies in India which were foreseen by neither of the
contracting parties. On its conclusion Dost Mahommed exclaimed that he
had thereby made with the British Government an alliance which he would
keep till death; and he did keep it accordingly. As a consequence,
during the storm, which very soon afterwards burst over Northern India
up to the very verge of Afghanistan, he preserved a friendly neutrality
which was of real value to the British cause. Thus whatever may be the
arguments before or since that date, the beginning of 1857, for or
against the setting up of relations with Afghanistan, this treaty proved
very useful to British interests in the events which arose immediately
after it was made.

It is but just to the memory of Edwardes, who was the originator and the
prime adviser of this policy, to quote the explanation of it in his own
words by a memorandum which he wrote in the following year, 1858. After
alluding to the former dealings of the British with Afghanistan, he
writes thus regarding himself:

     “When Commissioner of Peshâwur, in 1854, he sought and obtained the
     permission of Lord Dalhousie to bring about that hearty
     reconciliation which was expressed in the first friendly treaty of
     March 1855, and subsequently (with the equally cordial approval of
     Lord Canning) was substantially consolidated by the treaty of
     January 26, 1857. At this latter juncture the Shah of Persia had
     seized Herat and was threatening Candahar. England was herself
     attacking Persia in the Gulf, and the Indian Government now gave to
     the Amir at Cabul eight thousand stand of arms, and a subsidy of
     £10,000 a month, so long as the Persian war should last. We did
     this, as the treaty truly said, ‘out of friendship.’ We did it,
     too, in the plenitude of our power and high noon of that
     treacherous security which smiled on India in January 1857. How
     little, as we set our seals to that treaty, did we know that in May
     the English in India, from Peshâwur to the sea, would be fighting
     for empire and their lives, and that God’s mercy was stopping the
     mouths of lions against our hour of need. To the honour of Dost
     Mahommed Khan let it be recorded that during the Sepoy war, under
     the greatest temptation from events and the constant taunts of the
     fanatical priests of Cabul, he remained true to the treaty, and
     abstained from raising the green flag of Islam and marching down on
     the Punjab.”

In another memorandum discussing the alternatives, of advancing into
Afghanistan to meet Russia, or of awaiting her attack on our own
frontier--which frontier has just been described--and deciding in favour
of the latter, Edwardes writes thus:

     “By waiting on our present frontier, we husband our money, organise
     our line of defence, rest upon our base and railroads, save our
     troops from fatigue, and bring our heaviest artillery into the
     field; while the enemy can only bring light guns over the passes,
     has to bribe and fight his way across Afghanistan, wears out and
     decimates his army, exhausts his treasure and carriage, and, when
     defeated, has to retreat through the passes and over all
     Afghanistan--plundered at every march by the tribes.”

Early in 1857 all people in the Punjab, with John the Chief Commissioner
at their head, rejoiced to hear that Henry Lawrence had been appointed
by Lord Canning to be Chief Commissioner of Oude and would now occupy a
position peculiarly suited to his genius.

The narrative, having now reached the month of April, 1857, may pause
for a moment on the eve of a perilous crisis. In the coming events the
Punjab was destined to play a foremost part, to be the staff for
sustaining the empire and the sword for destroying its enemies. It may
be well to review in the briefest terms the position which was about to
undergo the severest test.

The Punjab had a considerable portion of the European army of India
cantoned within its limits, and relatively to its size a larger
proportion of European troops than any other province in the empire.
Within its area every political centre, but not every strategic point,
was held by European soldiers. The long extended frontier was quiet for
a time at least, some evil-disposed tribes having been overawed and
others deterred by punishment from transgressing. The Frontier Native
Force was in efficient discipline and in high spirits; it had neither
connection nor sympathy with the regular Sepoy army. The Himalayan State
of Jammu-Cashmere, on the northern boundary, was loyal from gratitude
for substantial benefits conferred. The lesser Native States in the
country between the Jumna and the Sutlej were faithful in remembrance of
protection accorded during full fifty years. Of the Native aristocracy,
that portion which had a real root in the soil was flourishing fairly
well, that which had not was withering away. With the feudal classes
judicious concessions in land and money, not over-burdensome to the
Treasury, had extinguished discontent which might otherwise have
smouldered till it burst into a flame if fanned by the gale which was
soon to blow over the province. The middle classes living on the land,
the yeomen, the peasant proprietors, the village communities, all felt a
security never known before. Favourable seasons had caused abundant
harvests, and the agricultural population was prospering. The military
classes of the Sikh nationality had settled down to rural industry. The
land-settlement had provided livelihood and occupation for all the men
of thews and sinews, who formed the flower of the population or the
nucleus of possible armies, and who really possessed the physical force
of the country. The fighting men, interspersed amidst the civil
population, had given up their arms to the authorities. In the British
metaphor of the time, the teeth of the evil-disposed had been completely
drawn. Trade had developed under the new rule, and had expanded with
improved means of communication. Capital had begun to accumulate, and
the moneyed classes were in favour of a government that would support
public credit and refrain from extortion. The mass of the people were
contented, prices being cheap, wages on the rise and employment brisk.
The provincial revenues were elastic and increasing, though the
assessments were easier, the taxation lighter, and the imposts fewer
than formerly. The transit-dues, erst vexatiously levied under Native
rule, had been abolished. The whole administration had been so framed as
to ensure a strong though friendly grasp of the province, its people,
its resources, its capabilities. The bonds were indeed to be worn
easily, but they had been cast in a vast fold all round the country and
could be drawn tighter at pleasure. The awe inspired by British
victories still dwelt in the popular mind. As the repute of the late
Sikh army had been great, that of their conquerors became greater still.
The people were slow to understand the possibility of disaster befalling
so puissant a sovereignty as that which had been set up before their
eyes. The system was being administered by a body of European officers,
trained in the highest degree for organised action and for keeping a
tenacious grip upon their districts. Every post of importance was filled
by a capable man, many posts by men of talent, and some even by men of
genius. At the head of them all was John Lawrence himself, whose eye
penetrated to every compartment of the State-ship to prove and test her
as seaworthy.

Notes of warning had been sounded from Umballa, the military station
midway between the Jumna and the Sutlej. Beyond the Sutlej in the Punjab
proper no unfavourable symptom was perceptible. But day by day ominous
sounds seemed to be borne northwards in the very air. At first they were
like the mutterings of a far off thunderstorm. Then they were as the
gathering of many waters. Soon they began to strike the ear of the
Punjab administrator, who might say as the anxious settler in North
America said,

    “Hark! ’tis the roll of the Indian drum.”



CHAPTER VII

WAR OF THE MUTINIES

1857-1859


The story has now arrived at the month of May, 1857, and its hero is
about “to take up arms against a sea of troubles.” It may be well, then,
to remember what his position was according to the Constitution of
British India.

Of all lands, British India is the land of discipline in the best sense
of the term, and its component parts, though full of self-help and
individuality, are blended into one whole by subordination to a supreme
authority. If in times of trouble or danger every proconsul or prefect
were to do what is best in his own eyes for his territory without due
regard to the central control, then the British Indian empire would soon
be as other Asiatic empires have been. A really great Anglo-Indian must
be able to command within the limits of his right, and to obey loyally
where obedience is due from him. But if he is to expect good
instructions from superior authority, then that authority must be well
informed. Therefore he must be apt in supplying not only facts, but also
suggestions as the issue of original and independent thought. He must
also be skilled in cooperating with those over whom he has no actual
authority, but whose assistance is nevertheless needed. In dangerous
emergency he must do his utmost if instructions from superior authority
cannot be had in time. But he must take the line which such authority,
if consulted, would probably approve; and he must not prolong his
separate action beyond the limit of real necessity. Often men, eminent
on the whole, have been found to fail in one or other of these respects,
and such failure has detracted from their greatness. John Lawrence was
good in all these cardinal points equally; he could command, obey,
suggest, co-operate, according to just requirements; therefore he was
great all round as an administrator,--

    “Strong with the strength of the race
     To command, to obey, to endure.”

When the Sepoy mutinies burst over Northern India, he was not the
Governor of the Punjab, for the Government of that province was
administered by the Governor-General in Council at Calcutta. Vast as was
his influence, still he was only Chief Commissioner or chief executive
authority in all departments, and Agent to the Governor-General. Subject
to the same control, he had under his general command and at his
disposal the Frontier Force described in the last chapter, an important
body indeed but limited in numbers. In the stations and cantonments of
the regular army, European and Native, he had the control of the
barracks, the buildings and all public works. But with the troops he had
nothing to do, and over their commanders he had no authority.

After the interruption of communication between the Punjab and Calcutta
on the outbreak of the Mutinies, his position was altered by the force
of events. Additional powers had not been delegated to him, indeed, by
the Governor-General, but he was obliged to assume them in the series of
emergencies which arose. He had to incur on his responsibility a vast
outlay of money, and even to raise loans financially on the credit of
the British Government, to enrol large bodies of Native soldiers, and
appoint European officers from the regular troops to command them; to
create, and allot salaries temporarily to, many new appointments--all
which things lawfully required the authority of the Governor-General in
Council, to whom, however, a reference was impossible during the
disturbance. Again, he was obliged to make suggestions to the commanders
of the regular troops at the various stations throughout the Province.
These suggestions were usually accepted by them, and so had full effect.
The commanders saw no alternative but to defer to him as he was the
chief provincial authority, and as they were unable to refer to the
Commander-in-Chief or to the Supreme Government. They also felt their
normal obligation always to afford aid to him as representing the civil
power in moments of need. Thus upon him was cast by rapid degrees the
direction of all the British resources, civil, military and political,
within the Punjab and its dependencies.

This explanation is necessary, in order to illustrate the arduous part
which he was compelled to take in the events about to be noticed. Thus
can we gauge his responsibility for that ultimate result, which might be
either the steadfast retention of a conquest won eight years
previously, or a desolating disaster. From such a far-inland position
the Europeans might, he knew, be driven towards their ships at the mouth
of the Indus, but how many would ever reach the haven must be terribly
doubtful. There he stood, then, at the head of affairs, like a tower
raised aloft in the Land of the Five Rivers, with its basis tried by
much concussion, but never shaken actually. He had, as shown in the last
chapter, resources unequalled in any province of India. There were
around him most, though not quite all, of the trusty coadjutors whom his
brother Henry had originally collected, or whom he himself had summoned.
His position during the crisis about to supervene, resembled that of the
Roman Senate after the battle of Cannæ, as set forth by the historian
with vivid imagery--“The single torrent joined by a hundred lesser
streams has swelled into a wide flood; and the object of our interest is
a rock, now islanded amid the waters, and against which they dash
furiously, as though they must needs sweep it away. But the rock stands
unshaken; the waters become feebler, the rock seems to rise higher and
higher; and the danger is passed away.”

In May, 1857, he had as usual retired to his Himalayan retreat at Murri
for the summer, anxious regarding the mutinous symptoms, which had
appeared at various stations of the Native army in other provinces, but
not in the Punjab proper. He knew his own province to be secure even
against a revolt of the Native troops; his anxiety referred to his
neighbours over whom he had no authority, and he hoped for the best
respecting them. He had in April been suffering from neuralgia, and had
even feared lest the distress and consequent weakness should drive him
to relinquish his charge for a time. He had however decided to remain
yet another year. His pain pursued him in the mountains. The paroxysm of
an acute attack had been subdued by the use of aconite, which relieving
the temples caused sharp anguish in the eyes,--when the fateful telegram
came from Delhi. He rose from a sick bed to read the message which a
telegraph clerk, with admirable presence of mind, despatched just before
the wires were broken by the mutineers and the mob. He thus learnt,
within a few hours of their occurrence, the striking and shocking events
which had occurred there, the outbreak of the native soldiery, the
murder of the Europeans, the momentary cessation of British rule, and in
its place the assumption of kingly authority by the titular Moslem
Emperor. Learning all this at least two days before the public of the
Punjab could hear of it, he was able to take all necessary precautions
civil, political, military, so that when the wondrous news should arrive
the well-wishers of the Government might be encouraged and the
evil-disposed abashed at finding that measures had actually been taken
or were in hand. The excitement of battling with emergency seemed for a
while to drive away the pain from his nerves, and to banish every
sensation save that of pugnacity.

After the lapse of a generation who can now describe the dismay which
for a moment chilled even such hearts as his, when the amazing news from
Delhi was flashed across the land! For weeks indeed a still voice had
been whispering in his ear that at the many stations held by Sepoys
alone a revolt, if attempted, must succeed. But he had a right to be
sure that wherever European troops were stationed, there no snake of
mutiny would dare to rear its head and hiss. Here, however, he saw that
the mutinous Sepoys had broken loose at Meerut, the very core of our
military power in Hindostan, and had, in their flight to Delhi, escaped
the pursuit of European cavalry, artillery and infantry. For them, too,
he knew what an inestimable prize was Delhi, a large city, walled round
with fortifications, and containing an arsenal-magazine full of
munitions. It is ever important politically that European life should be
held sacred by the Natives, and he was horror-stricken on learning that
this sacredness had been atrociously violated. If British power depended
partly on moral force, then here he felt a fatally adverse effect, for
the rebellion started with a figure-head in the Great Mogul, veritably a
name to conjure with in India. His feeling was momentarily like that of
sailors on the outbreak of fire at sea, or on the crash of a collision.
But if the good ship reeled under the shock, he steadied her helm and
his men stood to their places.

Within three days he received the reports from his headquarters at
Lahore, showing how Montgomery, as chief civil authority on the spot,
had with the utmost promptitude carried to the commander of the troops
there the telegraphic news from Delhi before the event could be known by
letters or couriers, and had urged the immediate disarming of the
Sepoys, how the commander had disarmed them with signal skill and
success, and how the capital of the province had thus been rendered
safe.

Murri being near the frontier, he was able to confer personally with
Herbert Edwardes, one of the greatest of his lieutenants, who was
Commissioner of Peshawur, the most important station in the province
next after Lahore itself. At Peshawur also he had John Nicholson, a
pillar of strength.

During May and June he received reports of disaster daily in most parts
of Northern India, and he knew that his own province, notwithstanding
outward calm, was stirred with conflicting emotions inwardly.

The events of 1857 were so full of epic grandeur, their results so vast,
their details so terrific, their incidents so complex, and the part
which he played in connection with them was so important, that it is
difficult to do justice to his achievements without entering upon a
historic summary for which space cannot be allowed here. By reason of
his conduct in the Punjab at this crisis, he has been hailed as the
deliverer and the preserver of India. In an account of his life it is
necessary at the very least to recapitulate, just thirty years after the
event, the several acts, measures or proceedings of his which gave him a
claim to this eminent title. All men probably know that he brought about
a result of the utmost value to his country. It is well to recount the
steps by which he reached this national goal.

From the recapitulation of things done under his direction and on his
responsibility, it is not to be inferred that he alone did them. On the
contrary, he had the suggestions, the counsel, the moral support, the
energetic obedience of his subordinates, and the hearty co-operation of
many military commanders who were not his subordinates. He always
acknowledged the aid he thus received, as having been essential to any
success that was attained. He had his share in the credit, and they had
theirs severally and collectively. In the first enthusiasm of success,
after the fall of Delhi in September, he wrote in a letter to Edwardes:
“Few men, in a similar position, have had so many true and good
supporters around him. But for them what could I have done?”

He was from the beginning of the crisis in May, 1857, left in his
province, unsupported by all other parts of India save Scinde,--_penitus
toto divisus orbe_. The temporary establishment of the rebel
headquarters at Delhi divided him and the Punjab from North-Western
India, cutting off all direct communication with Calcutta and the
Governor-General. He did not for many weeks receive any directions by
post or telegraph from Lord Canning. It was not till August that he
received one important message from the Governor-General by the
circuitous route of Bombay and Scinde, as will be seen hereafter. He was
thus thrown absolutely on his own resources, a circumstance which had
more advantages than drawbacks, as it enabled him to act with all his
originality and individuality.

Thus empowered by the force of events, his action spread over a wide
field, the complete survey of which would comprise many collateral
incidents relating to many eminent persons and to several careers of the
highest distinction. All that can be undertaken here is to state the
principal heads of his proceedings as concerning his conduct
individually, with the mention only of a few persons who were so bound
up with him that they must be noticed in order to elucidate his unique
position.

His first step was to confirm the prompt and decisive measures taken by
his lieutenants at Lahore (as already mentioned) under the spur of
emergency, whereby the capital of the Punjab was placed beyond the reach
of danger.

But he saw in an instant that the self-same danger of mutiny among the
native troops, from which Lahore had been saved, menaced equally all the
other military stations of the Punjab, namely Jullundur and Ferozepore,
both in the basin of the Sutlej river, Sealkote on the Himalayan border,
Mooltan commanding the approach to Scinde on the river-highway between
the Punjab and the sea, Rawul-Pindi and Peshawur in the region of the
Indus, Jhelum commanding the river of that name; at each of which
stations a body of Sepoys, possibly mutinous, was stationed. Therefore
he proposed that a movable column of European troops should be formed
and stationed in a central and commanding position, ready to proceed at
once to any station where mutiny might show itself among the Sepoys, to
assist in disarming them or in beating them down should they rise in
revolt, and to cut off their escape should they succeed in flying with
arms in their hands. He procured in concert with the local military
authorities the appointment of Neville Chamberlain to command this
movable column, and then of John Nicholson, when Chamberlain was
summoned to Delhi. There were many technical difficulties in completing
this arrangement which indeed was vitally needful, but they were
surmounted only by his masterful influence. Chamberlain was already well
known to him from service on the Trans-Indus frontier. Nicholson was his
nominee specially (having been originally brought forward by his brother
Henry) and will be prominently mentioned hereafter. He was indeed
instrumental in placing Nicholson in a position which proved of
momentous consequence to the country in a crisis of necessity.

But too soon it became evident that his worst apprehensions regarding
the Sepoys in the Punjab would be fulfilled. Then finding that no
proclamation to the Sepoys was being issued by the Commander-in-Chief
from Delhi, and that no message could possibly come from the
Governor-General, he determined after consulting the local military
authorities to issue a proclamation from himself as Chief Commissioner
to the Sepoys in the Punjab, and to have it posted up at every
cantonment or station. The most important sentences from it may be
quoted here.

     “Sepoys! I warn and advise you to prove faithful to your salt;
     faithful to the Government who have given your forefathers and you
     service for the last hundred years; faithful to that Government
     who, both in cantonments and in the field, have been careful of
     your welfare and interests, and who, in your old age, have given
     you the means of living comfortably in your homes. Those regiments
     which now remain faithful will receive the rewards due to their
     constancy; those soldiers who fall away now will lose their service
     for ever! It will be too late to lament hereafter when the time has
     passed by. Now is the opportunity of proving your loyalty and good
     faith. The British Government will never want for native soldiers.
     In a month it might raise 50,000 in the Punjab alone. You know well
     enough that the British Government have never interfered with your
     religion. The Hindoo temple and the Mahommedan mosque have both
     been respected by the English Government. It was but the other day
     that the Jumma mosque at Lahore, which the Sikhs had converted into
     a magazine, was restored to the Mahommedans.”

Simultaneously under his directions, or with his sanction, several
important forts, arsenals, treasuries and strategic positions, which had
been more or less in the guardianship of the Sepoys, were swiftly
transferred to the care of European troops, before mutiny had time to
develope itself.

Soon it became necessary for him to urge, with as much secrecy as
possible, the disarming of the Sepoys at nearly every station in the
Punjab. This measure was successful at Peshawur, though with some
bloodshed and other distressful events; at Rawul Pindi it was carried
out under his own eye; at Mooltan a point of vital importance, it was
executed brilliantly under provident arrangements which he was specially
instrumental in suggesting. It was effected generally by the presence of
European troops; at Mooltan, however, he was proud to reflect that it
had been managed by Punjabi agency with the aid of some loyal
Hindostanis. But at Ferozepore its success was partial only, at
Jullundur the mutineers escaped through local incompetence, but the
effects were mitigated by his arrangements. At Sealkote he had advised
disarming before the European regiment was withdrawn to form the Movable
Column already mentioned; nevertheless the military commanders tried to
keep the Sepoys straight without disarming them, so when the mutiny did
occur it could not be suppressed. He felt keenly the ill effects of this
disaster brought about as it was by murderous treachery. But the
mutineers were cut off with heavy loss by the Movable Column which he
had organised. Space, indeed, forbids any attempt to describe the
disarming of the Sepoys which was executed at his instance, or with his
approval, throughout the Province. Once convinced that the Sepoys were
intending, if not actual, mutineers, he gave his _mot d’ordre_ to
disarm, disarm; and this was the primary step in the path of safety.

Even then, however, at nearly every large station there were bodies of
disarmed Sepoys, ripe for any mischief, who had to be guarded, and the
guarding of them was a grave addition to his toils and anxieties; it was
done however with success.

His anxiety for the future of Mooltan was acute, as that place commanded
the only line of communication that remained open between the Punjab and
India, and the only road of retreat in event of disaster. So help from
the Bombay side was entreated; and he felt inexpressibly thankful when
the Bombay European Fusiliers arrived at Mooltan speedily from Scinde,
and when a camel-train was organised for military transport to that
place from Kurrachi on the seaboard. He rendered heartfelt
acknowledgments to Bartle Frere, to whose energy the speedy arrival of
this much-needed reinforcement was due. Come what might, he would cling
to Mooltan even to the bitterest end, as events had caused this place to
be for a time the root of British power in the Punjab.

Almost his first care was to urge on the movement which was being made
by the Commander-in-Chief, General Anson, who, assembling the European
Regiments then stationed in the Himalayas near Simla and at Umballa,
proposed to march upon Delhi. His immediate counsel to the
Commander-in-Chief, from a political point of view--irrespective of the
military considerations of which the General must be the judge--was to
advance. If, he argued, success in stopping the rebellion depended on
moral as well as on physical force, then a forward movement would affect
the public mind favourably, while inactivity must produce a
corresponding depression; thus we could not possibly afford to stand
still, and an advancing policy would furnish our only chance. Rejoiced
to find that counsels of this character prevailed at the army
headquarters then established between Simla and Umballa, and that the
European force had its face turned straight towards Delhi, he set
himself to help in finding transport, supplies and escort. The line of
march lay along the high road from Umballa to Delhi about one hundred
miles, so he helped with his civil and political resources to clear and
pioneer the way. When the European force laid siege to Delhi, this road
became the line of communication with the rear, the chain of connection
between the combatants in camp on the Delhi ridge and the military base
at Umballa; this line, then, he must keep open. Fortunately the
adjoining districts belonged chiefly to Native princes, who had for many
years been protected by the British power and now proved themselves
thoroughly loyal; so he through his officers organised the troops and
the establishments of these Native States to help the British troops in
patrolling the road, provisioning the supply depôts, escorting the
stores and materials for the army in the front.

The Sepoys having mutinied or been disarmed throughout the Punjab, it
became instantly necessary to supply their place if possible by
trustworthy Native troops; to this task he applied himself with the
utmost skill and energy. He caused the flower of the Punjab Frontier
force, already mentioned in a preceding chapter, to be despatched with
extraordinary expedition to Delhi. He raised fresh levies, with very
suggestive aid from Edwardes at Peshawur, by selecting men from among
the Sikhs and Moslems of the Punjab. He had them rapidly organised for
service in every part of the country from Peshawur to Delhi. As these
new troops were thus promptly formed, he kept a prudent eye on their
total number. Finding this number was mounting to more than fifty
thousand men of all arms, he stopped short, considering this to be the
limit of safety, and he restrained the zeal of his lieutenants so as to
prevent any undue or excessive number being raised. He from the first
foresaw that the fresh Punjabi soldiery must not be too numerous, nor be
allowed to feel that the physical force was on their side.

The selection of trustworthy Native officers for the new troops required
much discrimination; but his personal knowledge of all eminent and
well-informed Punjabis enabled him either to make the choice himself, or
to obtain guidance in choosing.

It is hard to describe what a task he and his coadjutors had in order to
provide this considerable force within a very few weeks--to raise and
select trusty men from widely scattered districts, to drill, equip,
clothe, arm and officer them, to discipline and organise them in
marching order, to place them on garrison duty or despatch them for
service in the field. A large proportion of them, too, must be mounted,
and for these he had to collect horses.

Special care had to be taken by him for the watch and ward of the long
frontier adjoining Afghanistan for several hundred miles, which border
had been deprived of some of its best troops for service before Delhi.
This critical task, too, he accomplished with entire success.

Further, one notable step was taken by him in respect to the Sepoy
regiments. The Sepoys were for the most part Hindostanis, but in every
corps there were some Sikhs or Punjabis; he caused these latter to be
separated from their comrades and embodied in the newly-formed forces.
Thus he saved hundreds of good men from being involved in mutiny.

Anticipating the good which would be exerted on the public mind by the
sight of the forces of the Native States being employed under the
British standard before Delhi, he accepted the offers of assistance from
these loyal feudatories. Under his auspices, the Chiefs in the
Cis-Sutlej States were among the first to appear in arms on the British
side. Afterwards he arranged with the Maharaja of Jammu and Cashmere for
the despatch of a contingent from those Himalayan regions to join the
British camp at Delhi; and he deputed his brother Richard to accompany
this contingent as political agent.

It was providentially fortunate for him and his that no sympathy existed
between the Punjabis and the mutinous Sepoys, but on the contrary a
positive antipathy. The Sepoys of the Bengal army who were mutineers
nearly all belonged to Oude and Hindostan; the Punjabis regarded them as
foreigners, and detested them ever since the first Sikh war, even
disliking their presence in the Punjab; he was fully alive to this
feeling, and made the very most of it for the good of the British
cause. He knew too that they hated Delhi as the city where their
warrior-prophet Tegh Behadur had been barbarously put to death, and
where the limbs of the dead martyr had been exposed on the ramparts. In
the first instance the Punjabis regarded the mutinies as utter follies
sure to bring down retribution, and they were glad to be among his
instruments in dealing out punishment to the mutineers, and so “feeding
fat their grudge” against them. They told him that the bread which the
Sepoys had rejected would fall to the lot of the loyal Punjab. Thus he
seized this great advantage instantly, and drove the whole force of
Punjabi sentiment straight against the rebels, saying in effect as Henry
V. said to his soldiers,

    “I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
     Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot;
     Follow your spirit and upon this charge
     Cry, ‘God for Harry, England, and St. George.’”

As outbreak after outbreak occurred, he pressed for the signal and
condign punishment of the leaders, as a deterrent to those who might yet
be wavering between duty and revolt. But this object having been
secured, he instantly tried to temper offended justice with at least a
partial clemency, lest men should be tempted to rebellion by despair.
When batches of red-handed mutineers were taken prisoners, he would
intercede so that the most guilty only should be blown from guns, and
that the lives of the rest should be spared with a view to imprisonment.
In such moments, he would support his appeal by invoking his officers to
look into their consciences as before the Almighty. This solemn
invocation--rarely uttered by him, though its sense was ever on his
mind--attested the earnestness of his conviction.

By this time he and his were regarded as forming the military base of
the operations against Delhi. Thither had he sent off many of his best
troops and his ablest officers, besides stores and material. Prudential
considerations had been duly brought to his notice in reference to the
Punjab itself becoming denuded of its resources. But after weighing all
this carefully yet rapidly, he decided that the claims of the British
besiegers, encamped over against the rebellious Delhi, were paramount,
and he acted on that decision.

Fortunately the arsenals and magazines in his province were fully
supplied, and soon after the great outbreak in May a siege-train had
been despatched to Delhi. But he knew that the siege was laid on one
side only out of several sides, nothing like an investment being
practicable as the besieged had perfect communication with their base in
the rebellious Hindostan. So he prepared his province to supply the
countless necessaries for the conduct of such a siege, against a city
girdled with several miles of fortifications, possessing many internal
resources which were further fed from the outside, and defended by
disciplined rebels, who on rebelling had seized the treasure in the
vaults, the ordnance and warlike stores in the magazine of the place.
Thus for many weeks he sent convoy after convoy, even driblet after
driblet, of miscellaneous ordnance stores, saddlery, tents, sand-bags
and articles innumerable. For all this work a complete transport-train
was organised under his orders, to ply daily on the road leading to the
rear of the British forces before Delhi. The vehicles, the animals for
draught or for baggage, the bullocks, the camels, the elephants, were
hired or purchased by him in his province and its dependencies. The
drivers and riders were taken from the people in his jurisdiction, and
they behaved towards their trusted master with steadiness and fidelity.
He sorely needed the public moneys available in the Punjab for his own
operations there; still out of them he spared large sums to be sent to
Delhi, knowing that from nowhere else but the Punjab could a rupee be
obtained by the besiegers. If a few native troops of a special
character, such as sappers and pioneers, were required, he would select
old soldiers of the late Sikh armies and despatch them to the siege. As
the operations of the siege advanced, a second train of heavy guns was
needed, and this he sent in the nick of time by transport collected in
the Punjab. He was in constant correspondence with the commanders before
Delhi, and thus knew their needs, their perils, and their chances. They
sent him all their requisitions, and looked upon him as their military
base. It may be said that he never refused a requisition either for men,
money or means; and that he hardly ever failed to fulfil any request
with which compliance had been promised.

It is hard to paint the picture of his work in these days, because the
canvas has to be crowded with many diverse incidents and policies. At
one moment he cries in effect--disarm the rebel Sepoys, disarm them
quick, inflict exemplary punishment, stamp out mutiny, pursue, cut off
retreat--at another, spare, spare, temper judgment with discriminating
clemency--at another, advance, advance, raise levies, place men wherever
wanted--at another, hold fast, don’t do too much, by an excessive
number of new men a fresh risk is run--at another, seize such and such
strategic points, guard such and such river-passages--at another, break
up this or that pontoon bridge to prevent the enemy crossing--at
another, press forward the transport, push on the supplies--at all
moments, put a cheerful as well as a bold face even on the worst, for
the sake of moral effect. He unravelled the threads of countless
transactions, collated the thick-coming reports from all the districts,
and noted the storm-warnings at every point of his political compass.
His warfare with the rebels and mutineers was offensive as well as
defensive. His word always was, attack, attack, so that the people,
seeing this aggressive attitude, might not lose heart. His energy in
these days might be called resplendent, as it was all-pervading,
life-infusing, and ranged in all directions with the broadest sweep. But
he recked little of glory, for the crisis was awful.

It may possibly be asked what the Punjab and the empire would have done,
had he at this time fallen or been stricken down. Such questions,
however, imply scant justice to him and his system; and he would have
taken them as sorry compliments. He had ever so laboured that his work
might live after him. Around him were several leaders capable of
commanding events or directing affairs; and under him was an admirable
band of officers civil and military, trained under his eye, on whom his
spirit rested, and who were ready to follow his lieutenant or successor
even as they had followed him.

Then financial difficulty stared him in the face, in respect not only
of the normal but also of the abnormal expenses in the Punjab. It will
have been understood from a preceding chapter that his provincial
treasury, though sufficing for the expenses of the Province and for its
share in the military expenditure, was not full enough to meet the
entire cost of the army cantoned in the province for the defence of the
empire generally. Up to the end of April in this year, he had drawn
large supplies in cash regularly from the treasuries in Hindostan and
Bengal. But from May onwards these supplies were cut off, and he was
left to provide money not only for the old charges of the Province, but
also for the new charges on account of the extraordinary measures which
had been adopted. He therefore raised loans of money locally, and moral
pressure had to be applied to the Native capitalists. He observed that
these men, who are usually ready and loyal and are bound to us by many
ties, now hung back and showed closefistedness. This he regarded as an
index of their fears for the issue of the desperate struggle in which we
were engaged. He also invited subscriptions from the Native Princes and
Chiefs. Having raised large sums in this way, he was able to keep the
various treasuries open, and to avoid suspending payment anywhere. His
first care, after the restoration of peace and plenty, was to repay the
temporary creditors.

As the news from the British forces before Delhi grew more and more
unfavourable during June and July, he reflected, with characteristic
forethought, on the steps to be taken in the event of disaster in that
quarter. Among other things he apprehended that it might become
necessary to retire from Peshawur, so that the large European force
cantoned there might be concentrated for the defence of the Province.
This apprehension of his caused much discussion subsequently, and is
likely to be fraught with historic interest. He thus expressed himself
in a letter to Edwardes on June 9th.

     “I think we must look ahead and consider what should be done in the
     event of disaster at Delhi. My decided opinion is that, in that
     case, we must concentrate. All our safety depends on this. If we
     attempt to hold the whole country, we shall be cut up in detail.
     The important points in the Punjab are Peshawur, Mooltan, and
     Lahore, including Umritsur. But I do not think that we can hold
     Peshawur and the other places also, in the event of disaster. We
     could easily retire from Peshawur early in the day. But at the
     eleventh hour, it would be difficult, perhaps impossible.”

On the following day, June 10th, he wrote in the same strain to Lord
Canning, but adding that he would not give up Peshawur so long as he saw
a chance of success. He asked that a telegram might be sent to him by
the circuitous route of Bombay (the only route then open) containing one
of two alternative replies--“Hold on to Peshawur to the last,”--or, “You
may act as may appear expedient in regard to Peshawur.” Very soon he
received Edwardes’s reply that, “With God’s help we can and will hold
Peshawur, let the worst come to the worst.” On June 18th after a
conversation with Nicholson, who was utterly opposed to retiring from
Peshawur, he wrote to Edwardes repeating that in the event of a great
disaster such retirement might be necessary. No reply being received
from Lord Canning, he prepared to act upon this view as the extremity of
the crisis seemed to loom nearer and nearer during June and July. He
reiterated his views in two despatches to the Governor-General, one at
the end of June, the other at the end of July. But by August 1st public
intelligence from India and England reached him, modifying favourably,
though it did not remove, the crisis. On the 7th of that month he
received Lord Canning’s reply, “Hold on to Peshawur to the last.” He
immediately writes to Edwardes: “The Governor-General bids me hold on to
the last at Peshawur. I do not, however, now think that we shall be
driven to any extremity. The tide is turning very decidedly against the
mutineers at Delhi.” This episode evinces his moral courage and
single-mindedness in all that concerned the public safety, for he must
have well known that proposals for retirement were invidious, and might
prove unpopular with many of his supporters.

When he spoke about the turning of the tide he alluded partly to the
news, which was slowly travelling to the Punjab from England, regarding
the despatch to India of mighty reinforcements of European troops. These
would not indeed reach him in time, but the knowledge nerved him to hold
out, as every day gained was a step towards victory.

On August 6th he heard at last the tidings of his brother’s death at
Lucknow, from a mortal wound while in bed from the bursting of a shell
which had penetrated the chamber. Immediately he telegraphed to
Edwardes, “My brother Henry was wounded on July 2nd, and died two days
afterwards.” The same day he wrote to Edwardes, “Henry died like a good
soldier in discharge of his duty; he has not left an abler or better
soldier behind him; his loss just now will be a national calamity.”

In the middle of July he left Murri and proceeded to Lahore, where he
remained at his headquarters till the end of the crisis. There he took
counsel daily with Montgomery and Macleod, the very men on whose
courageous alacrity he most relied for the despatch of public business.
For four weary months he sustained British authority in the Punjab on
the whole from end to end, notwithstanding the agitation caused by
several mutinous outbreaks of the Sepoys, and despite several desperate
attempts at insurrection in some districts. He kept down the disorder,
which was but too ready to upheave itself when the worst example was
being set in neighbouring provinces, and while stories of distant
disasters were flying about. He extinguished every flame that burst
forth. Having under him a matchless staff of officers, civil, political,
military, he set before them all by his own bearing and conduct an
example which they nobly followed. Thus throughout the crisis he
maintained, intact and uninterrupted, the executive power in the civil
administration, the collection of the revenue to the uttermost farthing,
the operations of the judicial courts, the action of the police. He saw,
not only the suppression of violent crime, but also the most peaceful
proceedings conducted, such as the dispensing of relief to the sick and
the attendance of children at school. He felt that during the suspense
of the public mind, a sedative is produced by the administrative
clock-work moving in seconds, minutes, hours of precious time won for
the British cause. He was ruling over the Native population, which was
indeed the most martial among all the races in India, but which also had
been beaten and conquered by British prowess within living memory. He
now took care that the British prestige should be preserved in their
minds, and that the British star should still before their eyes be in
the ascendant. Knowing them to have that generosity which always belongs
to brave races, he determined to trust them as the surest means of
ensuring their fidelity. Therefore he chose the best fighting men
amongst them to aid their late conquerors in the Punjab, and to
re-conquer the rebellious Hindostan. He knew that one way of keeping the
fiercer and more restless spirits out of mischief was to hurl them at
the common foe.

But the months wore on from May to September while Delhi remained
untaken, and he knew that week by week the respect of the Punjab people,
originally high, for the British Government, was being lowered by the
spectacle of unretrieved disaster. He felt also that the patience of the
evil-disposed, which had been happily protracted, must be approaching
nearer and nearer to the point of exhaustion. He saw that sickness was
creeping over the robust frame of the body politic, and that the
symptoms of distemper, which were day by day appearing in the limbs,
might ere long extend to the vital organs. He learned, from intercepted
correspondence, the sinister metaphors which were being applied to what
seemed to be the sinking state of the British cause--such as “many of
the finest trees in the garden have fallen,” or “white wheat is scarce
and country produce abundant,” or “hats are hardly to be seen while
turbans are countless.”

Yet it was evident to him that the force before Delhi in August would
not suffice to recapture the place, although he had sent all the
reinforcements which could properly be spared from the Punjab. But if
Delhi should remain untaken, the certainty of disturbance throughout the
Punjab presented itself to him. He must therefore make one supreme
effort to so strengthen the Delhi camp that an assault might be soon
delivered. This he could do by despatching thither the one last reserve
which the Punjab possessed, namely Nicholson’s movable column. This was
a perilous step to take, and his best officers, as in duty bound,
pointed out its perils; still he resolved to adopt it. If the column
should go, grave risk would indeed be incurred for the Punjab, but then
there was a chance of Delhi being taken, and of the Punjab being
preserved; if the column should not go, then Delhi would not be taken,
and in that case the Punjab must sooner or later be lost; and he had
finally to decide between these two alternatives. His intimate
acquaintance with the people taught him that if a general rising should
occur in consequence of the British failing to take Delhi, then the
presence of the movable column in the Punjab would not save the
Province. This was the crisis not only in his career, but also in the
fate of the Punjab and of Delhi with Hindostan. He decided in favour of
action, not only as the safer of two alternatives, but as the only
alternative which afforded any hope of safety. He was conscious that
this particular decision was fraught with present risk to the Punjab,
which had hardly force enough for self-preservation. But he held that
the other alternative must ultimately lead to destruction. His decision
thus formed had to be followed by rapid action, for sickness at the end
of summer and beginning of autumn was literally decimating the European
force before Delhi week by week; and even each day as it passed
appreciably lessened the fighting strength. So the column marched with
all speed for Delhi; and then he had sped his last bolt. In his own
words, he had poured out the cup of his resources to the last drop.

Thus denuded, his position was critical indeed. He had but four thousand
European soldiers remaining in the Punjab, and of these at least one
half were across the Indus near the Khyber Pass. Several strategic
points were held by detachments only of European troops, and he could
not but dread the sickly season then impending. He had eighteen thousand
Sepoys to watch, of whom twelve thousand had been disarmed and six
thousand still had their arms. Of his newly-raised Punjabis the better
part had been sent to Delhi; but a good part remained to do the
necessary duties in the Punjab; and what if they should come to think
that the physical force was at their disposal?

The sequel formed one of the bright pages in British annals, and amply
justified the responsibility which he had incurred. The column arrived
in time to enable the British force to storm and capture Delhi; and he
mourned, as a large-hearted man mourns, over the death of Nicholson in
the hour of triumph. He declared that Nicholson, then beyond the reach
of human praise, had done deeds of which the memory could never perish
so long as British rule should endure.

His relief was ineffable when tidings came that Delhi had been stormed,
the mutineers defeated and expelled, the so-called Emperor taken
prisoner, the fugitive rebels pursued, the city and the surrounding
districts restored to British rule. To his ear the knell of the great
rebellion had sounded. He could not but feel proud at the thought that
this result had been achieved without any reinforcement whatever from
England. But he was patriotically thankful to hear of the succour
despatched by England, through Palmerston her great Minister--some fifty
thousand men in sailing vessels by a long sea-route round the Cape of
Good Hope, full twelve thousand miles in a few months, by an effort
unparalleled in warlike annals.

While the peril was at its height, his preoccupation almost drowned
apprehension. But when the climax was over, he was awe-struck on looking
back on the narrowness of the escape. He recalled to mind the desperate
efforts which he and his men had put forth. But he was profoundly
conscious that, humanly speaking, no exertions of this nature were
adequate to cope with the frightful emergency which had lasted so long
as to strain his resources almost to breaking. The fatuity, which often
haunts criminals, had affected the mutineers and the rebel leaders;
error had dogged their steps, and their unaccountable oversights had, in
his opinion, contributed to the success of the British cause. He used to
say that their opportunity would, if reasonably used, have given them
the mastery; but that they with their unreason threw away its
advantages, and that in short had they pursued almost any other course
than that which they did pursue, the British flag must have succumbed.
Thus regarding with humility the efforts of which the issue had been
happy, he felt truly, and strove to inspire others with, a sentiment of
devout thankfulness to the God of battles and the Giver of all victory.

He believed that if Delhi had not fallen, and if the tension in the
Punjab had been prolonged for some more months, even for some more
weeks, the toils of inextricable misfortune would have closed round his
administration. The frontier tribes would, he thought, have marched upon
half-protected districts, and would have been joined by other tribes in
the interior of the province. One military station after another would
have been abandoned by the British, so that the available forces might
be concentrated at Lahore the capital; and finally there would have been
a retreat, with all the European families and a train of camp-followers,
from Lahore down the Indus valley towards the seaboard. Then, as he
declared, no Englishman would for a whole generation have been seen in
the Punjab, either as a conqueror or as a ruler.

As to his share in the recapture of Delhi, the testimony may be cited of
an absolutely competent witness, Lord Canning, a man of deliberate
reflection, who always measured his words, and who wrote some time after
the event when all facts and accounts had been collated, thus:

     “Of what is due to Sir John Lawrence himself no man is ignorant.
     Through him Delhi fell, and the Punjab, no longer a weakness,
     becomes a source of strength. But for him, the hold of England over
     Upper India would have had to be recovered at a cost of English
     blood and treasure which defies calculation.”

Delhi had heretofore belonged not to the Punjab, but to the
North-Western Provinces; on being re-taken by the British in September,
it was, together with the surrounding territory, made over during
October to his care and jurisdiction. Having removed all traces of the
recent storm from the surface of the Punjab, he proceeded to Delhi in
order to superintend in person the restoration of law and order there.
Before starting, he helped the Commander-in-Chief (Sir Colin Campbell,
afterwards Lord Clyde) in arranging that the Punjabi troops, raised
during the summer, should be despatched southwards beyond Delhi for the
reconquest of Hindostan and Oude. He also wrote to the Secretary of
State entreating that his good officers might be remembered in respect
of rewards and honours. His wife’s health had failed, and he had seen
her start for a river voyage down the Indus on her way to England. He
was at this time very anxious on her account, and would say, what avail
would all worldly successes and advantages be to him if he should lose
her? So he started for Delhi sore at heart; but he received better
accounts of her, and his spirits rose with the approach of the winter
season, which in Upper India always serves as a restorative to the
European constitution.

Then crossing the Sutlej, he entered the friendly States of the
Protected Sikh Chiefs, who had been saved by the British from absorption
under Runjit Sing, the Lion of Lahore, and whose loyalty had shown like
white light during the darkest days of recent months. Having exchanged
with them all the heartiest congratulations, he passed on to Delhi and
to the scenes of his younger days. With what emotions must he have
revisited the imperial city--to all men associated with the majestic
march of historic events, but to him fraught with the recollections of
that period of life which to the eye of memory almost always seems
bright,--yet just emerging from a condition of tragic horror, the
darkness of which had been lighted up by the deeds of British prowess
and endurance. As he rode through the desolate bazaars, the
half-deserted alleys, the thoroughfares traversed by bodies of men under
arms but no longer crowded with bustling traffic--he must have grieved
over the fate which the rebellious city had brought on itself. His
penetrating insight taught him that in this case, as in nearly all
similar cases, the innocent suffer with the guilty, and the
peace-loving, kindly-disposed citizens are involved in the sanguinary
retribution which befalls the turbulent and the blood-seeking. He found
the fair suburbs razed, the fortifications partly dismantled, the famous
Muri bastion half-shattered by cannonading, the classic Cashmere Gate
riddled with gunshot, the frontage of houses disfigured by musketry, the
great Moslem place of worship temporarily turned into a barrack for
Hindoo troops. The noble palace of the Moguls alone remained intact, and
he passed under the gloomy portal where some of the first murders were
perpetrated on the morning of the great mutiny, and so entered the
courtyard where the Christian prisoners of both sexes had been put to
the sword. Then he proceeded to the inner sanctum of the palace to see
his imperial prisoner, the last of the Great Moguls. He could not but
eye with pity this man, the remnant of one of the most famous dynasties
in human annals, reduced to the dregs of misery and humiliation in the
extremity of old age. Yet he regarded with stern reserve a prisoner who,
though illustrious by antecedents and drawn irresistibly into the vortex
of rebellion, was accused of murder in ordering the execution of the
European captives. He was resolved that the ex-emperor should be
arraigned on a capital charge, and abide the verdict of a criminal
tribunal.

He knew, however, that by the speedy restoration of the civil authority,
the harried, plundered, partly devastated city would revive; for the
presence of troops in large bodies and their camp-followers created a
demand, which the peasants would supply if they could bring their goods
to market without fear of marauding on the way, and expose them for sale
without molestation. He thus saw the closed shops reopened, the
untenanted houses re-occupied, the empty marts beginning once more to be
crowded; though the city must wear the air of mourning for a long while
before the brilliancy and gaiety of past times should re-appear.

The re-establishment of police authority for current affairs, and of
civil justice between man and man, formed the easiest and pleasantest
portion of his task. A more grave and anxious part devolved upon him
respecting the treatment of persons who were already in confinement for,
or might yet be accused of, participation in the late rebellion. He
learned that the rebellion, in itself bad enough, had been aggravated,
indeed blackened, by countless acts of contumely, treachery and
atrocity; that the minds of the European officers, after the endurance
of such evils in the inclemency of a torrid climate, had become inflamed
and exasperated; that the retribution had not only been most severe on
those who were guilty in the first degree, but also on those who were
guilty only in the second or the third degree; and that, in the haste of
the time, those whose misconduct had been passive, and even those who
had been but slightly to blame, were mixed up with the active criminals
in indiscriminating condemnation. He would make every allowance for his
countrymen who had borne the burden and heat of an awful day, but he was
there to overlook and see that they were not hurried away by
excitability into proceedings which their after judgment could never
approve. Though rigid in striking down those who were _in flagrante
delicto_, and were actively engaged in murderous rebellion, yet he would
hold his hand as soon as the stroke had effected its legitimate purpose.
While the emergency lasted he would not hesitate in the most summary
measures of repression; it was the life of the assailed against the life
of their assailants. But as soon as the emergency had been overcome, he
was for showing mercy, for exercising discrimination, for putting an end
to summary procedure, and for substituting a criminal jurisdiction with
a view to calm and deliberate judgment. On his arrival at Delhi there
were the most pressing reasons for enforcing this principle, and
forthwith he enforced it with all his energy and promptitude. He
immediately organised special tribunals for the disposal of all cases
which were pending in respect of the late rebellion, or which might yet
be brought forward. He took care that no man thus charged should be
tried, executed, or otherwise punished summarily, but should be brought
to regular trial, without delay indeed, but on the other hand without
undue haste, and should not suffer without having had all fair chances
of exculpating himself. All this may appear a matter of course to us now
after the lapse of a generation, but it was hard indeed for him to
accomplish then, immediately after the subsidence of the political
storm; and it needed all his persistency and firmness.

It then devolved upon him to inquire officially into the circumstances
of the sudden outbreak in May, 1857, and of the subsequent events. His
inquiries showed that the Sepoys had been tampered with for some weeks
previously, but not for any long time; that they were tempted to join
the conspiracy by the fact of their being left without the control of
European troops, and in command of such a centre as Delhi, with such a
personality as the ex-emperor; all which lessons he took to heart as
warnings for the future. He found that the city had been plundered of
all the wealth which had been accumulated during half a century of
secure commerce and prosperity under British rule; but that the
plundering had been committed by the mob or by miscellaneous robbers,
and not by the victorious soldiery, Native or European. He was rejoiced
to ascertain that on the whole the European soldiery were free from any
imputation of plundering, intemperance, violence, or maltreatment of the
inhabitants, despite the temptations which beset them, the provocation
which they had received, and the hardships they had suffered.

Having assured himself that the stream of British rule at Delhi had
begun to flow peacefully in its pristine channel, he returned to Lahore
by daily marches in February, 1858. The weather was bright, the climate
invigorating, the aspect of affairs inspiriting; and his health was
fairly good. It was on this march that he caused a despatch to be
prepared, at the instance of Edwardes at Peshawar, regarding the
attitude of the British Government in India towards Christianity. The
fact of the mutinies beginning with a matter relating to caste and its
prejudices, had drawn the attention of the authorities to the practical
evils of the Hindoo system; the flames of rebellion had been fanned by
Moslem fanaticism; the minds of all Europeans had been drawn towards
their Almighty Preserver by the contemplation of deliverance from peril;
thus the thoughts of men were turned towards Christianity; and he was
specially disposed to follow this train of reflection. He little
anticipated the influence which this despatch was destined to exercise
on public opinion in England.

His carefulness in repaying the temporary loans, raised locally during
the crisis, has already been mentioned. But there was another debt of
honour to be discharged by him; for the Native states and chiefs, who
had stood by us under the fire of peril, were to be rewarded. This he
effected, with the sanction of the Governor-General, by allotting to
them the estates confiscated for murderous treason or overt rebellion.
He desired that the British Government should not benefit by these just
and necessary confiscations, but that the property, forfeited by the
disloyal, should be handed over to the loyal.

Thus he returned to Lahore, and thence went on to the Murri mountains in
May, 1858, where he might have hoped to enjoy rest after a year of
labour unprecedented even in his laborious life. But now a new danger
began to arrest his attention. During the year just passed, from May
1857 to the corresponding month of 1858, his policy had been to organise
Punjabi troops in place of the Sepoy force mutinous or disarmed, then to
employ them for helping the European army in re-conquering the
north-western provinces, and especially in re-capturing Lucknow. His
Punjabis indeed were almost the only troops, except the Ghoorkas,
employed with the European army in these important operations. Right
loyally had they done their work, and well did they deserve to share in
the honours of victory. They naturally were proud of the triumphs in
which they had participated. They had a right to be satisfied with their
own conduct. But they began to feel a sense of their own importance
also. They had done much for the British Government, and might be
required to do still more. Then they began to wonder whether the
Government could do without them. These thoughts, surging in their
minds, begat danger to the State. Information was received to the effect
that Sikh officers of influence, serving in Oude, were saying that they
had helped to restore British power, and why should they not now set up
a kingdom for themselves. These ideas were beginning to spread among the
Punjabi troops serving not only in Oude and the north-western provinces,
but also in the Punjab itself, even as far as the frontier of
Afghanistan. All this showed that the hearts even of brave, and on the
whole good, men may be evilly affected by pride and ambition or by a
sense of overgrown power. Thus the very lessons of the recent mutinies
were being taught again, and there was even a risk lest that terrible
history should repeat itself. The Punjabis in truth were becoming too
powerful for the safety of the State. So Lawrence had to exert all his
provident skill in checking the growth of this dangerous power, and in
so arranging that at no vital point or strategic situation should the
Punjabis have a position of mastery.

The situation in the Punjab, too, was aggravated by the presence of
considerable bodies of disarmed Sepoys still remaining at some of the
large stations, who had to be guarded, and who on two occasions rose and
broke out in a menacing manner.

While at Murri and on his way thither he caused a report to be drawn up
for the Supreme Government regarding the events of 1857 in the Punjab,
awarding praise, commendation, acknowledgment, to the civil and military
officers of all ranks and grades for their services, meting out
carefully to each man his due. He considered also the causes of this
wondrous outbreak, as concerning not only his province but other parts
of India, and as affecting the policy of the British Government in the
East. He did not pay much heed to the various causes which had been
ingeniously assigned in many well informed quarters. Some of these
causes might, he thought, prove fanciful; others might be real more or
less, but in so far as they were real they were only subsidiary. The
affair of the greased cartridges, which has become familiar to History,
was in his judgment really a provocative cause. It was, he said, the
spark that fell upon, and so ignited, a combustible mass; but the
question was, what made the mass combustible? There was, he felt, one
all-pervading cause, pregnant with instruction for our future guidance.
The Sepoy army, he declared, had become too powerful; they came to know
that the physical force of the country was with them; the magazines and
arsenals were largely, the fortresses partially, the treasuries wholly,
in their keeping. They thought that they could at will upset the
British Government and set up one of their own in its place; and this
thought of theirs might, as he would remark, have proved correct, had
not the Government obtained a mighty reinforcement from England, of
which they could not form any calculation or even any idea. It was the
sense of power, as he affirmed repeatedly, that induced the Sepoys to
revolt. In the presence of such a cause as this, it availed little with
him to examine subsidiary causes, the existence or the absence of which
would have made no appreciable difference in the result. Neither did he
undertake to discuss historically the gradual process whereby this
excessive power fell into the hands of the Sepoys. The thing had
happened, it ought not to have happened; that was practically enough for
him; it must never, he said, be allowed to happen again. He took care
that in his Province and its Dependencies, every strategic point,
stronghold, arsenal, vantage-ground, even every important treasury,
should be under the guardianship of European soldiers. He also provided
that at every large station or cantonment, and at every central city,
the physical force should be manifestly on the side of the Europeans.
Though he reposed a generous confidence in the Native soldiery up to a
certain point, and felt gratitude and even affection towards them for
all that they had done under his direction, still he would no longer
expose them to the fatal temptation caused by a consciousness of having
the upper hand.

In reference to the Mutinies, he thought that the system of promotion by
seniority to high military commands had been carried too far in the
Indian Army. There would always be difficulties in altering that
system, but he held that unless such obstacles could be surmounted, the
British Government in the East must be exposed to unexpected disasters
occasionally, like thunderbolts dropping from the sky. Despite the
warning from the Caubul losses of 1842, which arose mainly from the
fault of the Commander, he noticed that the Meerut disaster of 1857 at
this very time was owing again to failure on the local Commander’s part,
and a similar misfortune, though in a far lesser degree, occurred soon
afterwards in the Punjab itself at Jullundur from the same cause.
Incompetency in the Commander, he would say, neutralises the merits of
the subordinates: there had been vigorous and skilful officers at
Caubul, at Meerut, at Jullundur,--but all their efforts were in vain by
reason of weakness in the man at the helm.

Soon were honours and rewards accorded to him by his Sovereign and the
Government. He was promoted in the Order of the Bath from the rank of
Knight Commander to that of Grand Cross. He was created a Baronet and a
Privy Councillor. A special annuity of £2000 a year was granted him by
the East India Company from the date when he should retire from the
service. The emoluments, though not as yet the status, of a
Lieutenant-Governor were accorded to him. He also received the Freedom
of the City of London.

He marched from his Himalayan retreat at Murri during the autumn of
1858, with impaired health and an anxious mind. He trusted that the time
had come when he might with honour and safety resign his high office. He
knew that physically he ought to retire as soon as his services could be
spared. He had every reason to hope for a speedy and happy return to
his home in England. Yet he was not in really good spirits. Perhaps he
felt the reaction which often supervenes after mental tension too long
protracted. Partly from his insight into causes which might produce
trouble even in the Punjab, and even after the general pacification of
the disturbed regions, partly also from his natural solicitude that
nothing untoward should occur to detain him beyond the beginning of
1859--he was nervously vigilant. After leaving Murri he crossed the
Indus at Attok and revisited Peshawur. But neuralgia pursued him as he
marched. At this time the royal proclamation of the assumption by the
Queen of the direct government of India had arrived, and he wished to
read it on horseback to the troops at Peshawur; but he performed the
task with difficulty owing to the pain in his face. Once more from the
citadel height he watched the crowded marts, rode close to the gloomy
mouth of the Khyber Pass, and wondered at the classic stronghold of
Attok as it overhangs the swift-flowing Indus.

As he crossed the Indus for the last time, towards the end of 1858, and
rode along its left bank, that is on the Punjab side of the river, he
gazed on the deep and rapid current of the mighty stream. That he held
to be a real barrier which no enemy, advancing from the West upon India,
could pass in the face of a British force. He noticed the breezy uplands
overhanging the river on the east, and said that there the British
defenders ought to be stationed. His mind reverted to the question,
already raised by him in the summer of 1857, regarding the
relinquishment of Peshawur. And he proposed to make over that famous
valley to the Afghans, as its retention, in his view, was causing loss
and embarrassment instead of gain and advantage to the British
Government. The position was exposed to fierce antagonists and its
occupation was in consequence costly; in it was locked up a European
force which would be better employed elsewhere; that force had been
decimated by the fever prevailing every autumn in the valley; the
political and strategic advantages of the situation were purchased at
too heavy a price, too severe a sacrifice; those advantages were
possessed equally by Attok or any post on the Indus at a lesser cost.
These were some of the arguments uppermost in his mind. The seasons had
been even more insalubrious than usual, and he was grieved at the wear
and tear of European life, the drain of European strength, in the
valley. The transfer of a fertile and accessible territory to the Amir
of Caubul would, he thought, give us a real hold upon the Afghans. It
was not that he had any faith in the gratitude of the Afghans on the
cession of Peshawur, which indeed they regard as a jewel and an object
of the heart’s desire; but if after the cession they should ever
misbehave, then they could easily be punished by our re-occupation of
the valley, and the knowledge that such punishment would be possible
must, he conceived, bind them to our interests. Notwithstanding this
deliberate opinion, which he deemed it his duty to record, the
prevailing view among British authorities was then, and still is, in
favour of retaining Peshawur as a political and strategic post of
extraordinary value. Having submitted an opinion which was not accepted,
he refrained from raising the question any further. At this time on the
morrow, as it were, after the war of the Mutinies, he could hardly have
anticipated that within one generation, or thirty years, the railway at
more points than one would be advanced up to this Frontier, and that the
Indus, then deemed a mighty barrier, would be a barrier no longer, being
spanned by two bridges equally mighty, one at Attok in the Punjab, the
other at Sukkur in Scinde, and perhaps by a third at Kalabagh. To those
who can vividly recall the events of this time, the subsequent march of
affairs in India is wonderful.

By the end of 1858 he had received the kind remonstrances of the
Governor-General, Lord Canning, in regard to his leaving the Punjab. But
he replied that if the public safety admitted of his going, he was bound
from ill health to go. Indeed he needed relief, as the neuralgia
continued at intervals to plague him. He had always a toil-worn,
sometimes even a haggard, look. Despite occasional flashes of his
vivacity or scintillations of his wit, his manner often indicated
depression. He no longer walked or rode as much as formerly. As he had
been in his prime a good and fast rider, the riding would be a fair test
of his physical condition.

At this time the Punjab and its Dependencies, including the Delhi
territory, were at last formed into a Lieutenant-Governorship, and he
received the status and title of a position which he had long filled
with potent reality. This measure, which formerly would have been of
great use in sparing him trouble and labour, now came quite too late to
be any boon to him in this respect. In view of his departure at the
beginning of the coming year, 1859, he had secured the succession for
his old friend and comrade, Montgomery, who had for some months been
Chief-Commissioner of Oude.

Before leaving his post he was present at a ceremonial which marks an
epoch in the material development of his province; for he turned the
first sod of the first railway undertaken in the Punjab which was
destined to connect its capital Lahore with Mooltan, Scinde, and the
seaboard at Kurrachi.

Then he received a farewell address from his officers, civil and
military, who had been eye-witnesses of all his labours, cares, perils
and successes. The view taken by these most competent observers, most of
whom were present during the time of disturbance, was thus set forth,
and theirs is really evidence of the most direct and positive
description.

     “Those among us who have served with the Punjabi troops know how,
     for years, while the old force was on the frontier, you strove to
     maintain that high standard of military organisation, discipline
     and duty, of which the fruits were manifest when several regiments
     were, on the occurrence of the Bengal mutinies, suddenly summoned
     to serve as auxiliaries to the European forces, before Delhi, in
     Oude, in Hindostan,--on all which occasions they showed themselves
     worthy to be the comrades of Englishmen; how you, from the
     commencement, aided in maintaining a military police, which, during
     the crisis of 1857, proved itself to be the right arm of the civil
     power. They know how largely you contributed to the raising and
     forming of the new Punjabi force, which, during the recent
     troubles, did so much to preserve the peace within the Punjab
     itself, and which has rendered such gallant service in most parts
     of the Bengal Presidency. All those among us who are military
     officers, know how, when the Punjab was imperilled and agitated by
     the disturbances in Hindostan, you, preserving a unison of accord
     with the military authorities, maintained internal tranquillity,
     and held your own with our allies and subjects, both within and
     without the border; how, when the fate of Northern India depended
     on the capture of Delhi, you, justly appreciating the paramount
     importance of that object, and estimating the lowest amount of
     European force with which the Punjab could be held, applied
     yourself incessantly to despatching men, material, and treasure for
     the succour of our brave countrymen engaged in the siege; how
     indeed you created a large portion of the means for carrying on
     that great operation, and devoted thereto all the available
     resources of the Punjab to the utmost degree compatible with
     safety.”

In his reply, two passages are so characteristic that they may be
quoted. He modestly recounts at least one among the mainsprings of his
success, thus:

     “I have long felt that in India of all countries, the great object
     of the Government should be to secure the services of able,
     zealous, and high-principled officials. Almost any system of
     administration, with such instruments, will work well. Without such
     officers, the best laws and regulations soon degenerate into empty
     forms. These being my convictions, I have striven, to the best of
     my ability, and with all the power which my position and personal
     influence could command, to bring forward such men. Of the many
     officers who have served in the Punjab, and who owe their present
     position, directly or indirectly, to my support, I can honestly
     affirm that I know not one who has not been chosen as the fittest
     person available for the post he occupies. In no one instance have
     I been guided in my choice by personal considerations, or by the
     claims of patronage. If my administration, then, of the Punjab is
     deserving of encomium, it is mainly on this account, and assuredly,
     in thus acting, I have reaped a rich reward. Lastly, it is with
     pleasure that I acknowledge how much I have been indebted to the
     military authorities in this Province for the cordiality and
     consideration I have ever received at their hands.”

Further, he thus describes the conduct of the European soldiers under
the severe conditions of the time--

     “I thank the officers and men of the British European regiments
     serving in the Punjab, for the valour and endurance which they
     evinced during the terrible struggle. The deeds, indeed, need no
     words of mine to chronicle their imperishable fame. From the time
     that the English regiments, cantoned in the Simla hills, marched
     for Delhi in the burning month of May, 1857, exposure to the
     climate, disease and death under every form in the field, were
     their daily lot. Great as were the odds with which they had to
     combat, the climate was a far more deadly enemy than the mutineers.

     “In a very few weeks, hundreds of brave soldiers were stricken down
     by fever, dysentery, and cholera. But their surviving comrades
     never lost their spirits. To the last they faced disease and death
     with the utmost fortitude. The corps which remained in the Punjab
     to hold the country, evinced a like spirit and similar endurance.
     Few in numbers, in a strange country, and in the presence of many
     enemies who only lacked the opportunity to break out, these
     soldiers maintained their discipline, constancy and patience.”

Immediately afterwards, that is in the beginning of February, 1859, he
started from Lahore, homeward bound, and steaming down the Indus arrived
at Kurrachi. There near the Indus mouth he delighted in this cool and
salubrious harbour, which, though not so capacious as some harbours,
might, he knew, prove of infinite value hereafter, in the event of
Britain having to stand in battle array on her Afghan frontier. There
also he exchanged the friendliest greetings with Bartle Frere, the only
external authority with whom he had been in communication throughout the
crisis, and from whom he had received most useful co-operation. Thence
he sailed for Bombay, which was still under the governorship of Lord
Elphinstone, who had rendered valuable aid to the Punjab during the war.
Bombay was then by no means the fair and noble capital that it now is;
still he admired its land-locked basin, one of the finest harbours in
the world, where fleets of war and of commerce may ride secure. He
avoided public receptions so far as possible, and shortly proceeded by
the mail steamer to England, where he arrived during the month of April.
It may be well here to note that he was then only forty-eight years of
age.

After the lapse of just one generation, time is already beginning to
throw its halo over his deeds in 1857; the details are fading while the
main features stand out in bolder and bolder relief. There is a monument
to him in the minds of men;

    “And underneath is written,
       In letters all of gold,
     How valiantly he kept the Bridge
       In the brave days of old.”

Doubtless this is not the last crisis which British India will have to
confront and surmount; other crises must needs come, and in them the men
of action will look back on his example. For the British of the future
in India the prophet of Britain may say what was said for Rome;

    “And there, unquenched through ages
       Like Vesta’s sacred fire,
     Shall live the spirit of thy nurse,
       The spirit of thy sire.”



CHAPTER VIII

SOJOURN IN ENGLAND

1859-1864


In the spring of 1859 John Lawrence took up his residence in London,
with his wife and his family, now consisting of seven children. He
assumed charge of his office as a member of the Council of India in
Whitehall, to which he had been nominated by Lord Stanley during the
previous year, when the functions of the East India Company were
transferred to the Crown. Though in some degree restored by his native
air, he found his head unequal to any prolonged mental strain.
Nevertheless his bearing and conversation, and his grand leonine aspect,
seem to have struck the statesmen and officials with whom he had
intercourse in England. A man of action--was the title accorded to him
by all. During the summer he received the acknowledgments of his
countrymen with a quiet modesty which enhanced the esteem universally
felt for him. The City of London conferred on him formally, in the
Guildhall, the Freedom which had already been bestowed while he was in
India. This was one of the two proudest moments in his life. On that
occasion he said: “If I was placed in a position of extreme danger and
difficulty, I was also fortunate in having around me some of the ablest
civil and military officers in India.... I have received honours and
rewards from my Sovereign.... But I hope that some reward will even yet
be extended to those who so nobly shared with me the perils of the
struggle.” The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge granted him their
Honorary Degrees. He was honoured by an invitation to Windsor Castle,
and it appears that he must have had several important conversations
with the Prince Consort.

On June 24th he received an address signed by eight thousand persons,
including Archbishops, Bishops, Members of both Houses of Parliament,
Lord Mayors and Mayors, Lord Provosts and Provosts. The national
character of this demonstration was thus set forth in a leading-article
of the _Times_ of the 25th: “Of the names contained in the address
hundreds are representative names,--indicating that chiefs of schools
and of parties have combined to tender honour to a great man, and that
each subscriber was really expressing the sentiments of a considerable
body.”

The chair was taken on the occasion by the Bishop of London (Archibald
Campbell Tait, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury). Addressing John
Lawrence, and recounting the work in the War of the Mutinies, he said:

     “When we recollect that at the commencement of the recent mutiny it
     was not uncommonly said that one cause of our weakness in other
     parts of India was the necessity which existed of concentrating our
     forces for the purpose of occupying the Sikh territory; and when we
     remember on the other hand that through your instrumentality that
     province which had been our terror became one of the sources of
     our strength, that instead of concentrating the British forces in
     the Punjab you were able to send men to aid in the capture of
     Delhi, so that the weapon which seemed so formidable to our power
     was by you so wielded as to be our best defence; when we reflect
     that those very soldiers, who but a few years ago were engaged in
     mortal conflict with our own, became under your superintendence our
     faithful allies,--there appears in the whole history something so
     marvellous that it is but right we should return thanks, not so
     much to the human instrument, as to God by whom that instrument was
     employed.”

This passage in the Chairman’s speech shows an accurate appreciation of
the position of the Punjab during the crisis. In the address itself,
after due allusion to the war and its results, there comes this special
reference to the despatch regarding Christianity in India, which has
been already mentioned in a previous chapter.

     “You laid down the principle that ‘having endeavoured solely to
     ascertain what is our Christian duty, we should follow it out to
     the uttermost undeterred by any consideration.’ You knew that ‘if
     anything like compulsion enters into our system of diffusing
     Christianity, the rules of that religion itself are disobeyed, and
     we shall never be permitted to profit by our disobedience.’ You
     have recorded your conviction that Christian things done in a
     Christian way will never alienate the heathen. About such things
     there are qualities which do not provoke distrust nor harden to
     resistance. It is when unchristian things are done in the name of
     Christianity, or when Christian things are done in an unchristian
     way, that mischief and danger are occasioned.’ These words are
     memorable. Their effect will be happy not only on your own age but
     on ages to come. Your proposal that the Holy Bible should be
     relieved from the interdict under which it was placed in the
     Government schools and colleges, was true to the British principle
     of religious liberty and faithful to your Christian conscience.”

Some passages may be quoted as extracts from Lawrence’s reply as they
are very characteristic. Expressing gratitude for the good opinion of
his countrymen, and again commending his officers to the care of their
country, he thus proceeds:

     “All we did was no more than our duty and even our immediate
     interest. It was no more than the necessities of our position
     impelled us to attempt. Our sole chance of escape was to resist to
     the last. The path of duty, of honour, and of safety was clearly
     marked out for us. The desperation of our circumstances nerved us
     to the uttermost. There never, perhaps, was an occasion when it was
     more necessary to win or to die. To use the words of my heroic
     brother at Lucknow, it was incumbent on us never to give in. We had
     no retreat, no scope for compromise. That we were eventually
     successful against the fearful odds which beset us, was alone the
     work of the great God who so mercifully vouchsafed His protection.”

This passage will probably be regarded as effective oratory, indeed few
orators would express these particular points with more of nervous
force. Thus an idea may be formed of what his style would have been, had
he received training when young, and had he retained his health. But
though he had at this time, 1859, frequently to make speeches in public,
on all which occasions the modesty, simplicity and straightforwardness
of his utterance pleased his hearers, yet he was not at all an orator.
In his early and middle life he had never, as previously explained, any
practice or need for public speaking. Had he been so practised, he would
doubtless have been among speakers, what he actually was among writers,
forcible, direct, impressive, not at all ornate or elaborate, perhaps
even blunt and brief. In short he would have been an effective speaker
for practical purposes, rising on grave occasions even to a rough
eloquence--inasmuch as he had self-possession and presence of mind in a
perfect degree. But now, as he was fully entered into middle life, all
this was impossible by reason of physical depression. Had this
depression been anywhere but where it actually was, it might have failed
to spoil his public speaking. But its seat was somewhere in the head,
and any attempt at impromptu or extempore delivery seemed first to
affect the brain, then the voice and even the chest. He could no doubt
light up for a moment and utter a few sentences with characteristic
fire; or he could make a longer speech quietly to a sympathetic
audience; but beyond this he was no longer able to go. As his health
improved, his power of speaking increased naturally, still it never
became what it might have become had he been himself again physically.

In the autumn of 1859 he proceeds to Ireland, where his wife revisits
the scenes of her early years. He returns to London, where he spends a
happy Christmas in his domestic circle, with rapidly improving health.

In the spring of 1860, he attests his abiding interest in the cause of
religious missions to India by attendance at an important gathering in
Exeter Hall, to hear his friend Edwardes (of Peshawur) deliver a
remarkable speech.

During the summer months he zealously promotes the holiday amusements of
his children. Visitors, calling to see him on public affairs, would find
him, not in a library, but in a drawing-room surrounded by his family.
In the autumn he visits his birthplace, Richmond in Yorkshire. Thence
he goes to Inverary to be the guest of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll,
with both of whom he forms a lasting friendship. Then he receives the
Freedom of the City of Glasgow and returns to London.

Early in the following year, 1861, he leaves London and takes a roomy
old-fashioned house at Southgate, a few miles to the north of London,
where he remains for the remainder of his sojourn in England. To the
house is attached some land where he may indulge his taste for farming
and his fondness for animals. In the week days he attends the Council of
India in London, but his summer evenings he spends at home with his
family, and mainly lives a country life.

His position in the Indian Council, where Sir Charles Wood (afterwards
Lord Halifax) had succeeded Lord Stanley as Secretary of State for
India, was not such as to call his individuality into play. Though he
had a voice in the affairs of India, he was no longer a man of action.
Even then, however, he impressed his colleagues favourably, and
especially the Secretary of State. He felt and expressed great regret at
the abolition of the local army of India, and its amalgamation with the
army of the Crown. He was not what is termed in England a party man, but
he certainly was a moderate Liberal in politics. As a churchman of the
Church of England, he was content with his Bible and the Book of Common
Prayer.

In 1862 he met Lord Canning, who had resigned his high office as
Governor-General, returning home very shortly to die. Then he saw Lord
Elgin appointed to fill the important place.

During 1863 he was running the even and quiet course of his life in
England, attending to the work in the Council of India in Whitehall,
which for him was not onerous, enjoying rural amusements with his
family, playing games with his children, imbibing the country breezes,
recovering as much of vigour and nerve as might be possible for a
constitution like his which had been sorely tried and severely battered.
He became much improved in health, and still more in spirits. He was in
easy circumstances, having a salary as member of the Council of India at
Whitehall, his annuity for which he had virtually paid by deductions
from salary since the date of entering the Civil Service of India, the
special pension granted to him by the East India Company, and the
moderate competency from his savings during a long service of nearly
thirty years. He was himself a man of the simplest tastes and the fewest
wants, but he had a large family for whom he was affectionately
solicitous. But while liberal and open-handed in every case which called
for generosity, he was a thrifty and frugal manager, a good steward in
small things of everyday life, even as he had been in national affairs.
He nowadays acted on the principle that--

    “The trivial round, the common task,
     Will furnish all we ought to ask;
     Room to deny ourselves; a road
     To bring us daily nearer God.”

Thus he did few of the things which men of his repute and position might
ordinarily do, and which doubtless he must have often been urged to
undertake. He wrote neither books nor brochures, he hardly ever
addressed public meetings, he did not preside over learned or
philanthropic societies, he took no active part in politics, municipal
or national. He sought repose, dignified by the reminiscence of a mighty
past. Believing that his life’s work was in the main accomplished and
his mission ended, he pondered much on the life to come. If there be
such things on earth as unclouded happiness and unalloyed contentment,
these blessings were his at that time.

But in the autumn of 1863, two events occurred in India to disturb the
tenor of his English life. First, a fanatical outbreak occurred among
some of the hill tribes near Peshawur, the British arms received a
slight check, the excitement spread to some of the neighbouring hills,
and seemed likely to extend with rising flames to the various tribes
whose fighting power has been set forth in a previous chapter. Next, the
Governor-General, Lord Elgin, was stricken with mortal illness and
resigned his high office. The choice of the Government at once fell on
Lawrence as his successor. That he was the best and fittest man for the
arduous place, was manifest as a general reason. But there probably was
a particular reason in addition for selecting him, which may have had
weight in the minds of the responsible ministers, Lord Palmerston and
Sir Charles Wood, namely the incipient danger just mentioned on the
Trans-Indus Frontier. A little war might rapidly assume larger
proportions; it was essential to preserve India, exhausted by the War of
the Mutinies, from further warfare; none would be so competent as he to
restrict the area of operations and to speedily finish them. If this
additional reason had any operative effect, that was most honourable to
him.

So he was on November 30th suddenly offered the post of
Governor-General, which he accepted. In the evening he went home and
told his wife what had happened, whereupon he met with much of tender
remonstrance. As he laughingly said afterwards, it was fortunate that he
had accepted that day before going home, for had he gone home first on
the understanding that he was to reply the next day, he might have been
induced to refuse. He could not but feel, however, some pride and
satisfaction, though there were several drawbacks. He was to incur the
risk of shortening life, and the certainty of injuring whatever of
health might remain to him. He was to be separated from his family just
when they most required his attention, and to break up a home which he
had established with loving care. He did not at all need advancement,
and could hardly add to his fame. But the disinclination which all
official men have to decline any important offer, the discipline which
renders them anxious to do as they are bid by authority, the disposition
which men, long used to arms, feel to don their armour once again--these
sentiments constrained him. Though he would no longer seek new duties,
yet if they were imposed upon him, it would be his highest pleasure to
discharge them well. He had an important interview, before starting,
with the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. On December 9th, within ten
days from receiving the intimation of his appointment, he started from
Charing Cross for India, journeying alone, as it was impossible for his
wife to leave suddenly the family home.

The continuance to him, while Governor-General of India, of the special
pension (given by the late East India Company as already mentioned in
the last chapter) had to be sanctioned by Parliament; and a resolution
to this effect was passed by the House of Commons on February 8th, 1864.
The terms in which the Secretary of State, Sir Charles Wood, introduced
the resolution, and the response received may be quoted from Hansard’s
_Parliamentary Debates_. He said: “I had no hesitation in recommending
Sir John Lawrence to Her Majesty for the Governor-Generalship of India;
and within two days from the receipt of the intelligence from India (of
Lord Elgin’s death) I was authorised to offer the high post to him. He
accepted it at once, and knowing the importance of despatch he showed
the same zeal for the service of the country which had always
distinguished him, by declaring himself ready to leave England for India
by the first mail to Calcutta. The services of Sir John Lawrence are so
well known and so universally recognised, that it will only be necessary
to read the Resolution under which the pension was conferred upon him,
passed at a meeting of the Court of Directors (East India Company) on
August 11th, 1858--

     “‘Resolved unanimously that in consideration of the eminent
     services of Sir John Laird Mair Lawrence, G.C.B., whose prompt,
     vigorous and judicious measures crushed incipient mutiny in the
     Punjab and maintained the province in tranquillity during a year of
     almost universal convulsion, and who by his extraordinary exertions
     was enabled to equip troops and to prepare munitions of war for
     distant operations, thus mainly contributing to the recapture of
     Delhi and to the subsequent successes which attended our arms, and
     in testimony of the high sense entertained by the East India
     Company of his public character and conduct throughout a long and
     distinguished career, an annuity of £2000 be granted to him.’”

From the opposite Bench, Lord Stanley rose and said: “I apprehend that
there will be no difference on any side of the House upon this
Resolution. I rise merely to express my entire concurrence, having been
connected with Indian affairs during part of the time when the services
of Sir John Lawrence were performed. This was not a retiring pension,
but was a recognition, and a very inadequate recognition, of services as
distinguished as had ever been performed by a public servant in India.”

The motion was passed by the House of Commons without any dissentient
voice, and the manner in which it was received in Parliament, when
reported in India, was sure to strengthen John Lawrence’s position
there.



CHAPTER IX

THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

1864-1869


The work which John Lawrence had heretofore done in India is not of that
sort which should be measured statistically. Its material proportions
had been indeed considerable, but they were infinitely exceeded by its
moral effect. Still some few comparative facts may be noted to show what
his new sphere was compared with his old. The Punjab with its
dependencies contained, when he left it in 1859, one hundred and
forty-five thousand square miles, with twenty-two millions of
inhabitants, and paid an annual revenue of two and a half millions
sterling. It had been augmented, since its first formation as a British
province, by the addition of the Delhi territory. The Indian empire,
when he took charge of it in 1864, contained one million three hundred
thousand square miles with two hundred and thirty-five millions of
inhabitants, paid an annual revenue of fifty-three millions sterling,
was defended by an army of nearly two hundred thousand men, including
both European and Native troops, and was divided into eleven provincial
governments or administrations, under two Governors, three
Lieutenant-Governors, three Chief Commissioners, and three Residencies
or Governor-General’s Agencies.

In January, 1864, Lawrence arrived at Calcutta as Viceroy and
Governor-General. He looked much brightened and freshened by a sojourn
of four and a half years in England. His old vivacity sparkled again; he
had been softened as well as brightened by his sojourn in England. He
walked with a stride, and his seat in the saddle was almost as of yore.
His health had been temporarily restored, but had not, as the sequel
showed, been re-established.

Usually a new Viceroy and Governor-General is, on landing in India,
really new in every sense. The European officers, the Native Princes,
Chiefs and people, are strangers to him as he is personally unknown to
them. Yet he has great power and wide influence, not only over
individuals, but also over large classes and masses, and his personality
will for a term of years affect the conduct of the executive and the
course of legislation. Consequently when he comes, public expectation is
on the tiptoe, and the public gaze is strained to discover what manner
of man he may be. It is hard to describe adequately the anxious
uncertainty which prevails, and consequently the intensity of the
interest which is thus aroused in most instances. But in the instance of
Lawrence there was no such novelty. His name was already a household
word from one end of the empire to the other. To all men his character,
disposition and idiosyncrasy were known by fame, and to numerous
individuals, even to many classes, were familiar. Again, other
Governors-General arriving in India have been obliged to go to school
politically, and almost serve an apprenticeship; but he was already a
master workman, and could enter fully and at once upon his whole duty.

As Governor-General he had all the power entrusted to that high
functionary by the Acts of Parliament settling the Constitution of
British India. As Viceroy he represented the Sovereign on all occasions.

On his arrival at Calcutta he was greeted most cordially by all classes
of his countrymen, from the soldiers and sailors upwards. Loud was the
chorus of British voices, thick was the concourse of Natives, as the
stately vessel, bearing him as its freight, steamed up the broad reaches
of the tidal Hooghly, between banks crowned with groves of the
cocoa-nut, the palm and the bamboo, approached the forest of masts in
the harbour of the Indian capital, and anchored near the ramparts of
Fort William, close to the palace of the Governor-General.

Landing in Bengal, he met that section of the Indian population which
had but little direct concern in the War of the Mutinies, and was
therefore less cognisant of his deeds than the Natives of Northern
India; still the Bengalis in their way strove to do him honour. His
first levée was one of the most numerously attended levées ever held in
Calcutta. He was full of alacrity, and if ever in his life he wore a
smiling aspect it was then. Things had heretofore gone well with him in
the estimation of all men East and West. The farewell addresses on
leaving the Punjab, the addresses of welcome on reaching England, the
congratulations at home on his new appointment, the notes of gladness on
his return to India, were all present to his mind, and he was breathing
the _popularis aura_. Few men, climbing to estate so high as his, have
known so little of ungenerous objections or of actual misrepresentation,
as he had up to this time. He was hardly prepared, perhaps, for the
fitful moods of public opinion in such a country as India, for the
wearing anxieties, the lesser troubles, even the annoyances, to be
endured at intervals for some years before the moment when he should lay
down the supreme power, and again look back with some pride and
satisfaction upon another arduous stage accomplished in life’s journey.

He came by the overland route in December at the most favourable season
of the year and escaped sea-sickness. As sea life was never quite
suitable to his temperament, he did not read nor write much during the
voyage, but he must have had time to arrange his thoughts respecting the
imperial charge which had been committed to him. As a rule, he meant to
deal with matters as they should arise--knowing that these would be
numerous, and confident in his own power to dispose of them--rather than
to shape out any policy or policies in his mind, or to descry any
particular goal which he would strive to reach. Nevertheless he landed
in India with certain ideas which might, according to his hope, be
realised. As they are quite characteristic of him, some allusion may be
here made to them.

During his sojourn in England he had been much impressed with the
importance of sanitation or sanitary administration, as likely to become
the pressing question of the immediate future. The insanitary condition
of Indian cities had affected him in his younger days, and in later
years his letters contain allusions to the subject. But something more
than spasmodic effort was needed for that rectification which he would
now make an imperial concern. To stimulate his recollections he would
direct his morning rides to the unhealthiest parts of Calcutta, and one
of his first measures after assuming the general government was to
appoint a Sanitary Commission.

But the principle of sanitation had in his mind a special application.
He appears while in England to have been conferring with Florence
Nightingale regarding military hospitals and the health of the European
soldiery. Here, again, as a young man, he had grieved over the
intemperance existing among these troops, and partly attributable to
injudicious regulations which had been subsequently modified. The War of
the Mutinies had brought home to his mind, with greater force than ever,
the supreme value of these men to the Eastern empire. He then set
himself to observe their barracks, and especially their hospitals, which
he used to visit in times of epidemic sickness. He would now use all his
might as Governor-General to give them spacious and salubrious barracks,
suitable means for recreation, and other resources for the improvement
of their condition.

In former years he had witnessed the effects of drought upon districts
destitute of artificial irrigation; and it was notorious that drought is
the recurring plague not only of the continental climate of Mid-India,
as physical geographers term it, but also of the southern peninsula. He
had seen the inception of the Ganges canal, the queen of all canals ever
undertaken in any age or country; and he would now stimulate the
planning and executing of irrigation works great and small.

For this, however, capital was needed, so his financial instinct warned
him that the Government of India must cease constructing these necessary
works out of revenue--a tardy and precarious process--but must open a
capital account for the nation, whereby India might borrow money for
reproductive works, on the principle which prevails in all progressive
countries.

Lastly, he had while in England reconsidered the principle of what is
known as the Permanent Settlement of Bengal, which was much disapproved
by the administrative school of his earlier days. He had now come to
think that this Settlement possessed much political advantage, in
strengthening the basis of landed prosperity, and thus attaching all
landowners to the British Government; and so far he was actually
prepared to extend it to some other districts beyond Bengal. But he was
as keenly alive as ever to its imperfections, as it had neglected the
rights of subordinate occupiers. He looked back with thankfulness upon
the efforts which had been made in North-western India to preserve these
rights. Having some fear that they might in certain circumstances be
overridden, he resolved to champion them when necessary. This resolve
brought about some trying episodes in his subsequent career.

Thus there were at least five large matters of imperial policy arranged
in his mind from the very outset as he set foot once again on the Indian
shore. The public sanitation, the physical welfare of the European
soldiery, the prevention of famine by irrigation works, the capital
account of the national outlay for material improvement, the settlement
of agrarian affairs,--these were principles long fixed in his mind. But
his conception of them had been widened or elevated by his sojourn in
England, and by the fresh influences of political thought there.

From the beginning of January to the middle of April he worked, with
his Executive Council, at Government House in Calcutta. The Councillors
were five in number for the several departments, Foreign, Home,
Legislative, Public Works, Financial, Revenue, Military; and in addition
the Commander-in-Chief of the army. In ordinary matters the decision of
the Government was formed by a majority of votes; but in matters of
public safety he had power to act on his own authority alone. He was
able to maintain excellent relations with his colleagues in Council. The
Foreign Department was ordinarily kept in his own hands. He worked from
six o’clock in the morning till five in the evening daily, despatching
current business in all departments with amazing promptitude and
completeness withal. He issued the necessary orders on the speedy and
successful termination of the military operations on the Trans-Indus
Frontier, which have been already mentioned. He reviewed Volunteers,
founded a Sailors’ Home, inspected sanitation in the Native city, and
made the acquaintance of all important persons of every nationality in
the capital. His health stood the new test fairly well, but he suffered
at times from headache. In the middle of April he started for Simla,
taking his Council with him. On his way thither he revisited the Asylum
for the orphan children of European soldiers at the Himalayan station of
Kassowli, founded with much private munificence by his brother Henry. He
had not seen this beautiful Simla since he met Lord Dalhousie there in
1851. Though he said little, he pondered much on all that had happened
to him and his since then, the perils escaped, the victories won.

After his arrival at Simla having reviewed his own position and
prospects, he wrote to Sir Charles Wood, the Secretary of State in
London, on this subject. He said explicitly that he found himself unable
to work all the year round at Calcutta, and especially in the hot and
unhealthy season there; that if he were allowed to spend the summer
months in the Himalayas, he could retain his post; otherwise he wished
to resign in the spring of the following year and return to England. By
Sir Charles Wood’s reply he was requested to stay in office, with the
understanding that he might reside wherever he chose within the
Himalayas or other hill-regions of India. Regarding his Council the
reply was not quite so clear, but in the end it was virtually conceded
that he might exercise his own discretion in taking his colleagues with
him. At all events he determined to stay for four out of his five
allotted years in India, and arranged that his wife should join him at
Calcutta by the end of the year 1864.

He soon decided that during his tenure of office the Government of India
shall, barring unforeseen events, spend the summer months at Simla, that
is the Governor-General, the Executive Council, a part of the
Legislative Council, and the principal Secretaries. He would not
separate himself from them: he did not wish to have them acting at
headquarters in many cases without him; nor did he desire to act in some
cases alone without them. He thought it better that, with the growing
increase of business, they should be all together.

At that time it was the fashion to propose various situations in the
empire, one in the south another in the west and so on, for the
permanent capital and headquarters of the Government of India, involving
the abandonment of Calcutta for this purpose; but he objected to all
such schemes, considering them to be crude. In the first place, such a
move would be inordinately expensive; in the second, Calcutta was, he
thought, the best of all available positions. Though it is actually a
sea-port, yet its position is by nature rendered unassailable by an
attack from the sea; its trade places it in the first rank of mercantile
cities; the districts around it are wealthy, fertile, populous and
peaceful; these advantages he duly appreciated. During the disturbances
of 1857 he remembered that Lower Bengal around Calcutta was undisturbed,
and paid its tens of millions of rupees into the State Treasury, and
that while half the empire was convulsed, order was preserved at the
imperial centre. Thus he would hold fast to Calcutta and settle his
Government there, at least during the cool season of each year when
trade and industry are in their fullest activity.

But he would have his Government sojourn during the hot weather of each
year in the refreshing climate of the Himalayas. He had no hesitation in
choosing Simla for this purpose, as being the only mountain station that
could furnish house-accommodation for the influx of sojourners; as being
easily accessible by rail and road at all seasons; as having politically
a good position sufficiently near the North-western Frontier, yet not so
near as to be within reach of danger; and as being immediately
surrounded by a peaceful population. He was sensible of the natural
beauty, the varied charms, the salubrious climate of the place, and his
choice has been fully ratified by the Governors-General who have
succeeded him.

His Government, while sojourning at Simla, would transact all its
administrative business for the time, and proceed with some parts of its
legislation. But he would reserve for its residence at Calcutta all
those bills or projects of law which might be of general importance, and
wherein contact with public opinion might be specially desirable.

He was now by the autumn of 1864, fairly launched on his career as
Viceroy and Governor-General. His health had been slightly shaken by the
change from England to Calcutta, of which the climate agreed with him
less than that of any other place in India. But it soon revived in the
Himalayan air. He kept up his early riding in the morning while at
Calcutta, but was induced by the pressure of business to intermit it at
Simla. However he took exercise in the afternoon fully, and so during
this year and 1865 he remained fairly well; indeed during the summer of
1865 he was better than he had been for many years, that is since his
Trans-Sutlej days. But he was not so well in 1866, and in the summer of
1867 he intimated to the Secretary of State, who was then Sir Stafford
Northcote, that he might have to retire early in 1868 having completed
his four years. The Secretary of State, however, on public grounds
requested him to remain till the end of his five years if possible, that
is till the beginning of 1869. So he braced his determination to remain
his allotted term. He said in private that it would be a great
satisfaction to him to serve out his time, and to hand over the work to
his successor without any arrears. From 1867, however, he became weaker
physically by slow, perhaps by imperceptible degrees, and that general
condition naturally set up lesser ailments from time to time; while the
clear brain and the unconquerable will remained.

Apprehensions of ill health, however, were not the only reason why he
thought in 1867 of resigning office. He was indeed as good, efficient
and successful a Viceroy and Governor-General as India ever had; still
the course of affairs did not exactly suit his masterful genius. Grand
events would have afforded scope for the mighty capacity he was
conscious of possessing. The country was for the most part at peace,
nevertheless he was troubled even harassed by divers incidents which
affected the public interests. The empire was making steady progress
under his care and recovering its stability after a severe convulsion;
yet mishaps, reverses, plagues of all sorts, would occur through no
fault of his. But he would not relieve himself of responsibility for
what might be amiss or go wrong in any part of his vast charge, and
often he was tempted to exclaim,

    “The time is out of joint, oh! cursed spite
     That I was ever born to set it right!”

Hitherto the _popularis aura_ had been with him; he had not yet felt
that chilling blast of unpopularity which sooner or later never fails to
overtake public men of mark and vigour such as his. No man had known
less than he the carping, the cavilling, the captiousness of critics, or
the misrepresentation of opponents. He had never swam with the stream,
but rather had cut out a channel for the stream and made it flow with
him. Thus the wear and tear of his former life had arisen from notable
causes, but not from the friction of an adverse current. Now, however,
he was to taste of all these small adversities. He was indeed to rule an
empire thoroughly well in ordinary times, and to suffer the vexations
which ordinarily beset rulers and make their heads “lie uneasy.” He
strove manfully to hide his sensitiveness when attacked or impugned; for
all that, he was more sensitive to these attacks than he need have been,
in regard to their intrinsic deserts. The deference, the cordiality,
even the affection (as he himself gratefully described it) of the
reception which greeted him in England, and which was repeated on his
first landing in India, had scarcely prepared him for the provocations,
petty indeed but yet sharp, which awaited him in the subsequent years.
As a man of action he had been used to arguments of an acute even fierce
character, yet they were short and decisive either for or against him.
But now he had to work his government through an Executive Council of
some six members, in which the discussions were partly on paper daily,
and partly by word of mouth at weekly meetings. The paper-controversies
he could bear; if he had a majority on his side the decision would be
couched in a few of his pithy sentences and no more was heard of it. But
at times the weekly debates tried him sorely; he listened like patience
on a monument, but he sighed inwardly. India being unavoidably a land of
personal changes, the composition of his Council varied from year to
year with outgoing and incoming men. In the nature of things it was
inevitable that some of his colleagues should support him more and
others less, while some opposed. He rejoiced in the hearty aid afforded
by some, and grieved over the opposition, or as it appeared to him the
thwarting, counteracting conduct of others, which was different from
anything that he had previously endured. Again, he thankfully
acknowledged in the end the support he received from successive
Secretaries of State in England, and certainly the Government in England
sincerely desired to sustain his authority; but meanwhile cases occurred
wherein he considered himself insufficiently supported from home, and
one case where even his old friends in the Council of India in Whitehall
counteracted his wishes. Respecting the action of Secretaries of State
he hardly made sufficient allowance for Parliamentary difficulties,
which prevent the men who are nominally in power from being their own
masters. It has been acutely remarked of him that he was not versatile;
in truth versatility in the face of opposition was not among his
qualities. He hardly possessed that peculiar resourcefulness (for which,
for instance, the great Warren Hastings was distinguished) whereby one
expedient having failed or one way being stopped, another is found,
perhaps circuitously, the goal being all the while kept in view. Being
human he must needs have faults, though the proportion which these bore
to his virtues was small indeed; he certainly had a tendency to chafe
over-much, yet if this be a fault, then owing to his self-command, it
affected himself only but not others. He loved power, indeed, which he
habitually described in a favourite Persian phrase as _khûd-raftâri_,
which is an elegant synonym for having one’s own way. Such power was, in
his estimation, to be wielded not capriciously but under the constraint
of a well-informed conscience. He had scarcely thought out the fact,
however, that in few modern nations, and least of all in the British,
can there be such a thing strictly speaking as power, though there may
be powerful influence. For the jealously-watched and tightly-bound
“thing which is mocked by the name of power,” he had scant appreciation.
In short, his position presented much that was novel rather than
pleasant, though he encountered less of novelty than any
Governor-General who had preceded him. But it is well in passing to
sketch these lesser traits, for the portraiture of the real man in all
his greatness and goodness.

To give an account of his Government at large, would be to write the
history of an empire during five years, and space cannot here be
afforded for such a task. Again, to do justice to all the coadjutors who
helped him, would be to set forth at least parts of the careers of many
eminent men, and that, too, is beyond the limits of this work. All that
is possible, then, is to analyse or sum up briefly the main heads of his
policy and achievements, with the proviso that, what for the sake of
brevity is attributed to him nominally, is really attributable to him
with the Councils, both Executive and Legislative, the extensive
Secretariat, the Presidencies, and the provincial Governors or
Administrators. These heads may be arranged in the following order:--the
army, the works of material improvement, the sanitation, the finances,
the landed settlement, the legislation, the public service, the national
education, the state ceremonies, the foreign policy; and to each of
them, as respecting him particularly, a short notice will be afforded.

In the military branch, he had not much to do with the reorganisation of
the army for India. That had been done during the interval since his
departure from India in 1859. Some changes had been made, against which
he had protested from his place in Council at Whitehall, but now he had
loyally to accept the accomplished facts, and to make the changes work
well through good management. Keeping his eye ever fixed on the national
finance, he rejoiced to find the Native Army reduced in numbers, and the
overgrown levies (which had been raised during the War of the Mutinies)
now disbanded throughout the country or transferred to the
newly-organised Police. The strength of the European troops varied from
seventy to seventy-five thousand men: which was, in his judgment, the
minimum compatible with safety in time of peace. He never forgot what
his Native advisers used to drop into his ear during the Mutiny--namely
this, that in India the European soldier is the root of our power.
Knowing how hard it would be for the English Government to provide, and
for the Indian Government to bear, the cost of a larger number, he bent
himself to make the European soldiery as effective as possible by
improving their life and lot in the East. Everything that pertained to
their health, recreation, comfort, enlightenment, employment in leisure
time, and general welfare, moral or physical, he steadfastly supported.
At the basis of all these improvements lay the question of constructing
new barracks or re-constructing old buildings, on reformed principles
sanitary as well as architectural; and for this he was prepared to incur
an outlay of several millions sterling. Protracted discussions ensued in
his Executive Council in regard to the situations for the new barracks,
causing delay which distressed him. He insisted that the buildings
should be placed in those centres of population, and those strategic
points, where old experience had shown that the presence of European
soldiers was necessary. So after a while the work of barrack-building
went on to his satisfaction. Criticism, even objections, were soon
levelled against these operations, and the barracks were styled
“palatial,” under the notion that they were extravagantly good; but he
was not thereby at all turned from his purpose.

In active warfare operations were undertaken near the Trans-Indus
Frontier on two occasions; the first of these, which has already been
mentioned at the moment of his arrival in India, was known by the name
of Umbeyla, the second was remembered as that of the Black Mountain.
Otherwise he thankfully observed the pacification of that difficult
Frontier, which had successfully been effected by the policy of himself
and his brother from 1849 onwards, as set forth in a previous chapter.
One little war, indeed, he had which was from first to last hateful to
him, but which he turned to excellent account for British interests, as
the event has subsequently proved; this is known to history as the
Bhûtan campaign. On his arrival he found that a mission had been already
despatched to that semi-barbarous principality in the eastern Himalayas
over-looking Bengal, and that the British envoy had been insulted and
even maltreated. Redress was demanded, and this being refused, he had
resort to arms; and during the course of these operations in a wild,
wooded, malarious and mountainous country, a small British force in a
hill-fort was cut off from its water-supply by the enemy’s devices, and
had to beat a somewhat disastrous retreat. The disaster was soon
retrieved by the recapture of the place, and full preparations were made
for a decisive advance when the enemy sued for terms; whereon he laid
down the British conditions of peace. These being accepted, he was glad
to save the lives of a miserable foe from destruction, and the British
troops from inglorious warfare in an unhealthy country. The main point
in the conditions on which he concluded peace was the cession by Bhûtan
to the British of a rich sub-Himalayan tract called the Dûars, on his
agreeing to pay a certain sum annually to the Bhûtanese. He felt the
value of this tract to the British, as was indeed manifest then, and has
been proved by subsequent experience. He knew that the payment of this
small subsidy would just preserve the Bhûtanese from that pecuniary
desperation which leads to border incursions, and would give us a hold
on them, as it could be withheld in event of their misconduct in future;
and in fact they have behaved well ever since. But the terms were by the
European community at Calcutta deemed inadequate and derogatory after
all that had happened; and he was subjected to much severe criticism,
which however did not move, though it doubtless grieved, him at this
stage of his career.

He rejoiced in the opportunity afforded by the expedition to Abyssinia
for helping his old friend Napier to collect an effective force from
India, to be equipped for very active service and to be despatched from
the Presidency of Bombay.

In respect to material improvement, he pressed onwards the construction
of railways and canals. There had been by no means an entire, but only a
partial, suspension of these works during the War of the Mutinies, and
the period of disturbance which followed; but now as peace reigned
throughout the land, he prosecuted these beneficent operations with more
energy than ever, and at no previous time in Indian history had progress
been so systematised as now. This could only be done by establishing a
capital account for the State, according to the principle which, as
already mentioned, had been working in his mind when he recently landed
in India. The cost of these works having heretofore been defrayed from
current revenue, their progress had been precarious, but he would place
their finance on a sure basis by treating the expenditure as capital
outlay and raising loans for that purpose. The interest on these would
be defrayed from current revenue, as he would have no such thing as
paying interest out of capital. For the due calculation of the demand to
be made on the money-market for the loans, he caused a forecast to be
made of the canals and railways recommended for construction during a
cycle of years. He proposed that the future railways should be
constructed not by private companies with guarantee by the State of
interest on outlay, but by the State itself. With a view to lessening
the capital outlay in future, he leaned towards the introduction of a
narrower gauge than that heretofore in use. The introduction of the
capital account into Indian finance has not only stimulated, but also
regulated and ensured the material development of the empire; and this
is a prominent feature in his administration.

Besides the ordinary arguments for accelerating the construction of
railways, there was the necessity of perfecting our military
communications, in order to obtain a tighter grasp of the country than
heretofore. The lesson of 1857-8 had taught him how much this hold had
needed strengthening. Again, beyond the usual reasons for excavating
canals of irrigation for agriculture in a thirsty land, he felt the
obligation to protect the people from the consequences of drought. No
warning, indeed, was required by him in this behalf, otherwise it would
have been furnished by the experience of the Orissa famine in 1866-7. In
that somewhat inaccessible province the drought occurred one year and
the people bore it, but it continued during the second and even the
third year, reducing their straitened resources to starvation point;
then towards the end of the third year heavy downpours of rain caused
inundation to submerge the remnant of the crops; thus, in his own
expressive words, “that which the drought spared the floods drowned.” He
had been very uneasy about the prospect of the famine, but the province
was under the Government of Bengal subject to the control of the
Governor-General, and he was bound to consult the local authorities. He
accepted for the moment the assurance of the Lieutenant-Governor of
Bengal, who had proceeded to the spot to make personal inquiries, to the
effect that the precautions taken to prevent mortality from famine were
sufficient. Still he remained anxious till further tidings came, and
these were bad. Then he caused the most strenuous efforts to be put
forth but they were too late to save life, and their efficacy was
impaired by a still further misfortune, because contrary gales kept
grain-laden ships tossing about within sight of the shore and unable to
land their cargoes. Though he was not to blame in all the circumstances,
still this disaster cut him to the quick, and he fretted at the thought
of what might have been done to save life had he himself been wielding
the executive powers locally as in former days, instead of exercising
only a general control as Governor-General. The loss being irreparable,
all he could now do was to make the strictest inquisition regarding the
failure in foresight which delayed the relief in the first instance, to
take additional precautions by the light of this melancholy experience,
and so to prevent the possibility of its recurrence. Thus under him from
that time a new era of development, and especially of canal-making arose
happily for Orissa.

For sanitation, he acted on the view which had opened out before him on
his way from England for India. The Sanitary Commission appointed by him
made searching inquiries and followed these up with suggestions
professional or practical. He sanctioned expenditure by Government on
drainage, water-supply, open spaces, and the like, in the stations or
around the buildings which belonged to the State. In all the places
which were made under municipal institutions he encouraged the local
corporations to do the same. Through his precept or example a fresh
impulse was given to these beneficent works at every capital city,
industrial centre, or considerable town, throughout the Bengal
Presidency--more than half the empire--and a general quickening of
municipal life was the consequence. His influence could not under the
constitution of British India be equally direct in the Madras and Bombay
Presidencies but there also it was felt as a practical encouragement.
Thus though he may not be called the originator of Indian Sanitation,
yet he was the founder of it on a systematic basis, and he established
it as a department of the State administration.

The finances caused him trouble from the first even to the last day of
his incumbency. The scheme for housing and lodging the European army in
India, according to humane and civilised plans, was to cost ten millions
sterling (for, say, seventy-five thousand men), and out of that he
caused five millions to be spent during his five years of office. He was
most unwilling to borrow for this purpose, holding firmly that the
charge must be defrayed from current revenues, and so it was. But then
it caused some difficulty in the finances, and he had to devise
additional means for making the income balance the expenses. Always
having a heart for the poor, and believing that their resources were not
at all elastic, he was resolved to avoid taxing the masses of the
population any further. On the other hand he thought that the rich
escaped paying their full share. So he proposed to renew the income tax,
which had been introduced in 1860 by James Wilson (the economist and
financier sent out from England) and remitted in 1862. He was unable to
obtain, however, the necessary concurrence of his Council. Then he
reluctantly consented to a proposal of the Council that duties should be
imposed on certain articles of export which, in the economic
circumstances of the moment, were able to bear the impost. The ordinary
objection to export-duties was urged in England and even in Parliament,
so these were disallowed by the Secretary of State; and thus he suffered
a double annoyance. His own proposal had been refused by his Council,
and their proposal, to which he agreed as a choice of evils, had been
rejected by the Secretary of State. The following year he induced his
Council to accept a modified income-tax, under the name of a
License-Tax. This was, he knew, inferior to a scientific income-tax,
inasmuch as it failed in touching all the rich; still it did touch the
well-to-do middle class, heretofore almost exempt from taxation, and
that was something. This plan was passed into law by the Legislative
Council at Calcutta, but the passage met with embittered opposition from
outside in the European as well as in the Native Community; he stood
firm, however, and this time was supported both by his Council in India
and by the Secretary of State in England. But he knew that this measure,
though much better than nothing, was insufficient, and he ceased not
from urging the imposition of the income-tax proper. Indeed during his
fifth and last year he laid the foundation and prepared the way for that
tax, which was actually imposed after his departure, and which during
several succeeding years saved the finances from ultimate deficit.

During his five years, however, there were five and a quarter millions
sterling of deficit, and two and three quarter millions of surplus,
leaving a net deficit of two and a half millions. This deficit was,
indeed, more than accounted for by the expenses of five millions on the
barracks; but it would never have occurred, had he been properly
supported in the sound fiscal measures proposed by him. The financial
result in the end, though fully capable of explanation, did indeed fall
short of complete success; but this partial failure did not at all arise
from any fault of his. Indeed it occurred despite his well-directed
exertions. He left India with somewhat gloomy anticipations regarding
its financial future. He feared lest his countrymen should fail to
appreciate the standing difficulty of Indian finance. He knew that the
Natives may have more means relatively to their simple wants than the
corresponding classes in European countries, and in that sense may not
be poor. But he thought that their power of paying revenue down in cash
was very small according to a European standard, and that their fiscal
resources were singularly inelastic.

In connection with finance he was much troubled by the failure of the
Bank of Bombay. On his arrival in India the American Civil War, then at
its height, was causing a rapid rise in the value of cotton in Western
India, and an excessive speculation in consequence. On the cessation of
the war in 1865 he saw this speculation collapse, and became anxious for
the fate of the Bank of Bombay which was a State institution. He did his
utmost to guide and assist the Government of Bombay in preventing a
catastrophe. But despite his efforts the Bank fell, and its fall was
keenly discussed in England generally and in the House of Commons. Then
a commission of inquiry was appointed, which after complete
investigation remarked upon the steadiness and carefulness displayed by
him at least, while it distributed blame among several authorities.

Much was done in his time, more than ever before, for legislation. He
took a lively interest in the proceedings of the Legislative Council for
India; it consisted of some thirteen members, of whom six belonged to
the Executive Council, and seven, partly official and partly
non-official, were nominated by the Governor-General; and it was apart
from the local legislatures of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay. He
assiduously presided over its deliberations, which at that time embraced
such important matters as civil and criminal procedure, transfer of
property, contract, evidence, negotiable securities, and others. During
no period of Indian history has legislation of a fundamental, and, so to
speak, scientific character been more remarkably advanced than during
his incumbency of five years. He was throughout assisted by English
Jurists in England, and in India especially.

In one legislative measure he was able to take a strong part personally,
and that was the Punjab Tenancy Act. It appeared to him that in various
ways the rights secured (by the land settlement in that Province as
already mentioned) to certain classes of cultivators, as separate from
peasant proprietors, were being gravely threatened. So he procured the
passing of a law for the preservation of the rights and interests in
these numerous tenancies under legal definitions.

Cognate to this subject, a question arose in Oude regarding
tenant-right, in which he acted with decisive effect. While anxious that
the landed aristocracy (styled the Talukdars) in this Province should be
maintained in the position ultimately guaranteed to them by Lord Canning
in 1859, he was equally resolved that the subordinate rights of
occupants and cultivators should be protected. He, in common with
others, believed that their rights had been secured simultaneously with
those of the Talukdars. But during the subsequent five years this
security had, he found, been disturbed, and further measures were needed
for protection. He therefore caused these tenant-rights or occupancy
tenures to be protected by additional safeguards, which have since been
embodied in legislative enactments. These measures of his aroused keen
opposition in Northern and North-eastern India, and especially in
Calcutta, as the landlord interest in Bengal made common cause with the
Talukdars of Oude. Thus much invective was levelled at him by the
Anglo-Indian newspaper-press. Then the agitation began to spread from
India to England: the influential few could make their cry heard across
the seas, the voiceless million could not; that was all the greater
reason why he would take care of the million. He held that the question
was one of justice or injustice towards a deserving and industrious
class of British subjects. His mind, however, was exercised by this
controversy in India mainly because he apprehended that the ground of
argumentative battle might be shifted to England, and perhaps even to
the floor of the House of Commons. Though he fully hoped that the then
Secretary of State, Sir Charles Wood, and the Cabinet would support him,
yet he was prepared, indeed almost determined, to give up his high
office if his policy in Oude should fail to be sustained. He used to say
to his intimate friends at the time that he would stand or resign upon
his policy in Oude. This is borne out by a letter of his to Sir Charles
Wood which has since been published by his biographer, and from which a
characteristic passage may be quoted.

     “What could make me take the course I have done in favour of the
     Ryots of Oude, but a strong sense of duty? I understand the
     question right well, as indeed must every man who has had anything
     to do with settlement-work. I have no wish to harm the Talukdars.
     On the contrary, I desire to see fair-play to their interests....
     It would be a suicidal act for me to come forward and modify the
     instructions given recently. The Home Government may do this.
     Parliament may say what it thinks proper. But, of my own free will,
     I will not move, knowing as I do, that I am right in the course
     which has been adopted. Did ever any one hear of the Government of
     India learning that a class of men were not having fair-play at the
     time of settlement, and then failing to interfere or to issue such
     orders as the case appeared to demand?”

In the sequel he was generously sustained by the Government in England,
and the retrospect of this episode was pleasant to him as he believed it
to be a victory for justice.

In respect to the public service in its several branches, it fell to his
lot to recommend, and obtain sanction from the Government in England
for, some beneficent measures. A revision of the rules regarding leave
in India and furlough to Europe, for the three great classes of
Government, namely, the Indian Army, the Covenanted Civil Service, and
the Uncovenanted Service, had been pending for some time before his
arrival. Knowing well the bearings of this many-sided question, he
resolved to settle it in a manner befitting the merits of the public
servants whose labours and efforts he had witnessed in so many fields of
action. He accordingly appointed the most competent persons in India to
frame suitable sets of rules, which he induced the Government in England
to sanction with but slight modifications. The simple record of this
great fact affords no idea of the attention he personally gave to the
multiform and often complex details which involved many conflicting
considerations. The rules were demanded by the requirements of the age,
and would sooner or later have been passed, at least in their
essentials, whoever had been Governor-General; but it is to his
sympathy, his trained intelligence, his knowledge and experience, that
these great branches of the public service owe the speedy concession, in
so acceptable a manner, of the boons which those rules bestow.

Respecting the national education, he allowed the Universities, which
had been already established at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, to work
out their own views. It was in regard to elementary education and
village schools that he chiefly interested himself, and with
considerable effect. He also helped the Bishop of Calcutta to establish
schools at Himalayan stations for European and East Indian children. The
progress of religious missions, belonging to all denominations of
Christians, afforded him the liveliest satisfaction. He foresaw the
possibility of converting large numbers among tribes that had not yet
fallen under any of the dominant religions of the East. The example set
by the lives of the missionaries produced, in his judgment, a good
effect politically by raising the national repute of British people in
the eyes of the Natives. Though he was guarded and discreet in his
public utterances and in his official conduct, yet his private
munificence was always flowing in this direction. When at Calcutta in
the winter, he would spend the later part of his afternoons in visiting
Christian schools and institutions. He gave a never-failing support to
the clergy and all ministers of religion in the discharge of their
sacred functions, and became a rallying point around which all
influences for good might gather.

A farewell address was voted to him at a conference of missionaries at
Calcutta, which comprised a remarkable list of measures attributed by
them to his influence. These measures of his, which these competent
observers selected for mention, were of a prosaic and unambitious
description. But thereby was evinced his insight into the wants of the
very humblest and least in the Native population, and his anxiety to
render British rule acceptable to his Indian fellow-subjects.

At the same time an address from the Bishop and clergy acknowledged his
efforts for the moral and spiritual advancement of the European
soldiery, and the effect of his example in promoting true religion among
our fellow-countrymen.

To the hospitalities and social ceremonies, becoming to the position of
Viceroy, he paid due attention, as was proper in a country where
external style is much considered. But he had no longer the buoyancy for
entering joyously into social intercourse on a large scale. Regarding
the ceremonies of the stateliest character, organised specially for the
Native princes and chiefs, he was very particular. These levées or
assemblages, called Durbars, signifying a concourse of eminent
personages from great distances and requiring long preparation, can only
be held on rare occasions, and under all Governors-General have been
historically memorable; he held three such during his incumbency, at
Lahore, at Agra, and at Lucknow.

The Durbar at Lahore was wondrous even among these occasions which have
all excited wonder. The princes, the chiefs, the feudatories of the
empire, from the Punjab, the Himalayas, the Trans-Indus frontier, and
even from Afghanistan, vied with each other in doing honour to the man
who in their eyes was the embodiment of British might, and had returned
as the Queen’s representative to the centre-point of his labours and the
scene of his former triumphs. This moment was the second of the two
proudest moments of his life, the first having been that at the
Guildhall in London. He found his bosom friend, Sir Robert Montgomery
(to whom he had made over charge of the Punjab when departing for
England in 1859), still in the position of Lieutenant-Governor. The
manner in which his services were remembered by his old associates, is
shown by the following passage from the Lieutenant-Governor’s speech,
which was applauded with rapture: “Then came 1857. The Punjab under his
grasp stood firm. Delhi must be regained or India lost. The Punjab was
cut off from all aid. It poured down at his bidding from its hills and
plains the flower of the native chivalry. The city was captured and we
were saved. We are here to welcome him this day, in a hall erected to
his memory by his Punjab friends.”

His Durbar was held in a beautiful plain lying between the castellated
city of Lahore and the river Ravi, which became for the nonce a tented
field. Moving to his place there, he looked around at the noble mosque
turned by the Sikhs into a magazine, but lately restored to the Moslems
by the British--at the palace of the Mogul emperors--at the tomb of
Runjeet Sing, the Lion-king of the Punjab--and further off across the
river, at the still nobler mausoleum of the emperor Jehangir. Amidst
these historic surroundings he addressed to the assembly a speech in the
vernacular of Hindostan, probably the first speech that had ever been
made by a Viceroy in this language. The whole of his well-considered
oration is worth reproduction; but the quoting of one passage only must
suffice.

     “I recognise the sons of my old allies, the Maharaja of Cashmere
     and Puttiala: the Sikh chiefs of Malwa and the Manjha; the Rajpût
     chiefs of the hills: the Mahommedan Mulliks of Peshawur and Kohat;
     the Sirdars of the Derajat, of Hazara, and of Delhi. All have
     gathered together to do honour to their old ruler. My friends! Let
     me tell you of the great interest which the illustrious Queen of
     England takes in all matters connected with the welfare, comfort
     and contentment of the people of India. Let me inform you, when I
     returned to my native country, and had the honour of standing in
     the presence of Her Majesty, how kindly she asked after the welfare
     of her subjects in the East. Let me tell you, when that great Queen
     appointed me her Viceroy of India, how warmly she enjoined on me
     the duty of caring for your interests. Prince Albert, the Consort
     of Her Majesty, the fame of whose greatness and goodness has spread
     through the whole world, was well acquainted with all connected
     with this country, and always evinced an ardent desire to see its
     people happy and flourishing.”

His next Durbar was at Agra, again in a tented plain near the river
Jumna, almost within sight of the peerless Taj Mahal, with its gleaming
marble, the acknowledged gem of all the architecture in the world, and
not far from the red-stone fortress of Akbar the Great. Hither he had
summoned the princes and chiefs of two great divisions of the empire
which are still almost entirely under Native administration. He utilises
the pomp and magnificence with which he is surrounded, in order to give
weight and solemnity to his exhortation. Again he delivers to the
assembly a speech in the language of Hindostan, which really forms an
imperial lecture to Oriental rulers on the duty of ruling well, and is
probably the most noteworthy utterance of this description that ever
proceeded from British lips. Every sentence, almost every word, of his
oration was adapted to a Native audience. Without any vain compliments
he reminds them of their besetting faults, and declares to them, “that
peace and that security from outward violence which the British
Government confers on your territories, you must each of you extend to
your people.” He admonishes them, in tones bland and dignified but still
earnest and impressive, to improve their roads for traffic, their
schools for the young, their hospitals for the sick, their police for
repressing crime, their finances. He urges them to enlighten their minds
by travelling beyond their own dominions. Knowing their passion for
posthumous fame and their leaning towards flattery, he takes advantage
of these sentiments thus,

     “It has often happened after a chief has passed away that he has
     not been remembered as a good ruler. Great men while living often
     receive praise for virtues which they do not possess; and it is
     only after this life is ended that the real truth is told. The
     names of conquerors are forgotten. But those of virtuous chiefs
     live for ever.”

Then in order to add encouragement, after impressive advice, he proceeds
thus--in reference to their disputes among themselves regarding
precedence--

     “The British Government will honour that chief most who excels in
     the management of his people, and does most for the improvement of
     his country. There are chiefs in this Durbar who have acquired a
     reputation in this way--I may mention the Maharaja Scindia and the
     Bêgum of Bhopal. The death of the late Nawab Ghour Khan of Jowrah
     was a cause of grief to me, for I have heard that he was a wise and
     beneficent ruler. The Raja of Sîtamow in Malwa is now ninety years
     old, and yet it is said that he manages his country very well. The
     Raja of Ketra in Jeyepore has been publicly honoured for the wise
     arrangements he has made in his lands.”

His third and last Durbar was at Lucknow, after the controversy (already
mentioned) with the Talukdars had been happily settled. They found that
the compromise on which he insisted for the protection of their tenants,
was quite workable, that it left a suitable margin for the landlords,
and that with its acceptance the thorough support of the British
Government to their Talukdâri status would be secured. So they in their
turn emulated their brethren of other provinces in doing him honour.
Mounted on seven hundred elephants in a superb procession, they rode
with him into Lucknow past the ruins (carefully preserved) of the
hastily formed defences, and of the battered Residency where his brother
Henry had been mortally wounded. The city of Lucknow is artistically not
so fine as Lahore and Agra, the scenes of the two former Durbars; still
he is greeted by a fair spectacle, as the city stands with a long
perspective of cupolas, towers and minarets on the bank of the Goomti.
The aspect of Lucknow has never been better described than by the
greatest man who ever ruled there, his brother Henry, who wrote:

     “The modern city of Lucknow is both curious and splendid. There is
     a strange dash of European architecture among its Oriental
     buildings. Travellers have compared the place to Moscow and
     Constantinople, and we can easily fancy the resemblance: gilded
     domes surmounted by the crescent; tall slender pillars and lofty
     colonnades; houses that look as if they had been transplanted from
     Regent Street; iron railings and balustrades; cages some containing
     wild beasts, others filled with strange bright birds; gardens,
     fountains, and litters, and English barouches.”

Again there comes the gorgeous assemblage in the tented field with the
speech in Hindostani from his dais as Viceroy, and the last of these
dramatic occasions is over. Believing this to be his final utterance in
public Durbar, he throws a parting solemnity into his language. After
acknowledging the address just presented by the Talukdars, whereby they
admit the considerateness towards them, as superior land-owners, with
which the rights of the subordinate proprietor and tenancy-holders had
been defined--he speaks to them thus: “Talukdars! Though we differ in
race, in religion, in habits of thought, we are all created by the same
God; we are all bound by the same general laws; and we shall all have to
give an account to Him at the last of the manner in which we have obeyed
His commandments. In this way there is a common bond of union among us
all, whether high or low, rich or poor, learned or ignorant.”

While at Lucknow he visited his brother Henry’s lowly tomb, the room
where the mortal wound from a bursting shell had been inflicted, and the
remains of the defences which had been hastily thrown up in that
emergency. He must at the moment have conjured up the thoughts to which
the poet has given expression:

    “Frail were the works that defended the hold that we held with our lives;
     Death in our innermost chamber, and death at our slight barricade;
     ‘Never surrender, I charge you; but every man die at his post!’--
     Voice of the dead whom we loved, our Lawrence the best of the brave.”

These ceremonial occasions can give no idea of the business-like
attention which he gave to the affairs of the numerous Native States of
the Indian Empire. He remembered thankfully the signal services which
they (with the fewest exceptions) had rendered during the disturbances
of 1857-58. In his judgment their existence was advantageous to British
interests in India, as forming a safety-valve to release discontent of
several kinds, which otherwise might be pent up till it burst forth
injuriously. He believed that they afford a field of employment to many
who cannot find any adequate scope in the British territories, and that
hereby a nucleus of influence is constituted in favour of a strong
imperial Paramount.

The only part of his policy remaining to be summarised is that relating
to foreign affairs, which mainly concern Afghanistan. It has been shown
in a previous chapter that originally he desired to avoid having
anything to do with Afghanistan, but that under the directions of two
Governors-General in those days, he had negotiated two treaties with the
Afghan Amir Dost Mahommed, involving the regular payment of pecuniary
subsidies. When he himself became Governor-General, he saw Afghanistan
torn by internecine and fratricidal contests after the death of Dost
Mahommed. He scrupulously stood aloof from these civil wars, espousing
neither party in any contest, willing to recognise the man who should
establish himself as _de facto_ ruler, but waiting till such
establishment should be complete before according formal recognition. At
length he was able to recognise officially Shir Ali, who had practically
fought his way to the status of Amir, on the understanding that the
periodical subsidy would follow as a consequence.

But having confirmed friendly relations with the Amir of the day by
substantial gifts and by moral support, he planted his foot, so to
speak, on this line as on a limit not to be passed. He considered that
the Amir when subsidised and otherwise well treated by us, ought to be
the friend of our friends and the enemy of our enemies. Otherwise he
would scrupulously respect the Amir’s independence as ruler of
Afghanistan. On the other hand, he would have on the British side no
offensive and defensive alliance with the Amir, lest the British
Government should be drawn into complications owing to errors on the
Afghan side. If this principle should seem one-sided, it was, he held,
unavoidable in the circumstances. But he would let the Amir, when in the
right, feel sure of British support, provided always that Britain were
not expected to send troops into Afghanistan. He set his face not only
against any interference in affairs within Afghanistan, but also against
the despatch of British officers to Caubul, Candahar or anywhere else.
He deemed that the presence of British officers in Afghanistan would
spoil everything, would kindle fanatical jealousy, and would end in
their own murder.

The Afghans, he was convinced, will be the enemies of those who
interfere, and the friends of those who protect them from such
interference. Therefore, as he would say in effect, let us leave Russia
(our natural opponent) to assume, if she dares, the part of
interference, and let the British adopt the attitude of protection; that
would be the only chance of obtaining an Afghan alliance in British
interests. In that case he hoped that the Afghans would offer a deadly
opposition to a Russian advance towards India through their inhospitable
country. Even then he hoped only, without feeling sure, for the conduct
of the Afghans cannot be foreseen. They might, he would often say, be
tempted to join the Russians on the promise of sharing in the plunder of
India; but such junction would not be probable: on the other hand, if
the British advance into Afghanistan to meet Russia, they ensure Afghan
enmity against themselves and cause the Afghans to favour Russian
interests. If Russia should send missions to, or set up agencies in,
Afghanistan adverse to British interests, he would waste no
remonstrances on the Afghans, believing them to be unwilling recipients
of Russian messages, and to be more sinned against than sinning. He
would remonstrate direct with Russia herself, and would let her see
diplomatically that behind these remonstrances were ironclads and
battalions. He was for telling her in time of peace, courteously but
firmly, that she would not be allowed to interfere in Afghanistan or in
any country contiguous to India. But if a general war were to break out,
and if Russia not having been stopped by British counter-operations in
Europe, were to advance towards India, then on no account would he meet
her in Afghanistan. That, he affirmed, would be wasting our resources in
men and money, and would be playing into the enemy’s hands. The Afghans
would, he supposed, be bitterly hostile to such advance, even though
cowed into momentary submission. In that case he would help them with
money and material, though not with men. Thus strengthened they might
hamper the movements or retard the advance of the Russians; but be that
as it might, he would have the British stand made on the British
frontier. If the God of battles should then steel the hearts of British
soldiers as of yore, the Russian invasion would, he trusted, be repelled
decisively; and then the Russian retreat through Afghanistan, with the
dreadful guerilla warfare of the Afghans, would be a spectacle to serve
as a warning to invaders for all time coming.

Such is the substance of the opinion which he held rightly or wrongly,
and for the vindication of which he exhausted every form of expression
in private letters, in official despatches, and in conversations
innumerable. His policy was once described by a friendly writer in the
_Edinburgh Review_ as “masterly inactivity,” which expression contained
both truth and error, and was regretted as being liable to
misconstruction by the British public.

His views respecting the Russo-Afghan question were finally stated
during the first days of January, 1869, in one of the last official
letters of importance that he, with his Council, ever addressed to the
Secretary of State in London.

     “Should a foreign Power, such as Russia, ever seriously think of
     invading India from without, or, what is more probable, of stirring
     up the elements of disaffection or anarchy within it, our true
     policy, our strongest security, would then, we conceive, be found
     to lie in previous absence from entanglements at either Cabul,
     Candahar, or any similar outpost; in full reliance on a compact,
     highly equipped, and disciplined army stationed within our own
     territories, or on our own border; in the contentment, if not in
     the attachment, of the masses; in the sense of security of title
     and possession, with which our whole policy is gradually imbuing
     the minds of the principal chiefs and the native aristocracy; in
     the construction of material works within British India, which
     enhance the comfort of the people while they add to our political
     and military strength; in husbanding our finances and consolidating
     and multiplying our resources; in quiet preparation for all
     contingencies which no honest Indian statesman should disregard.”

He repeated the same conclusion in his reply to the company at a
farewell banquet on the evening of his last day in office, a speech
which was his final utterance in India. Repelling the oft-repeated
charge of inactivity in Central Asia, and speaking in the presence of
many who knew all the details, he declared that he had watched most
carefully all that went on in those distant regions; that he had
abstained from interference there because such a course would lead to
wars of which no man could foresee the end, would involve India in vast
expenses which must lead to such an increase of taxation as would render
British rule unpopular. Our true policy, he declared, is to avoid such
complications, to consolidate our power in India, to give its people the
best government we can, to organise our administration in every
department by a combination of efficiency with economy. This he seemed
to regard as his political testament on leaving India.

To show how these principles remained fast in his mind to the very end
of life, two passages may be quoted from public letters which he
dictated within the last twelvemonth before his death, after he had been
literally half blinded by illness, when he was bowed down with infirmity
and no longer able to read or write; and yet they remind the reader of
his best manner.

Regarding the people of Afghanistan, he says:

     “The Afghan is courageous, hardy, and independent; the country he
     lives in is strong and sterile in a remarkable degree,
     extraordinarily adapted for guerilla warfare; these people will
     never cease to resist so long as they have a hope of success, and,
     when beaten down, they have that kind of elasticity which will ever
     lead them to renew the struggle whenever opportunity of so doing
     may occur. If we enter Afghanistan, whether it be to punish the
     people for the alleged faults of their chiefs or to rectify our
     frontier, they will assuredly do all in their power to resist us.
     We want them as friends and not as enemies. In the latter category,
     they are extremely dangerous to us.”

In respect of our policy towards them he repeats:

     “So far as diplomacy and diplomacy alone, is concerned, we should
     do all in our power to induce the Afghans to side with us. We ought
     not, in my mind, to make an offensive and defensive treaty with
     them. This has been for many years their desire; but the argument
     against it is that if we made such a treaty, we should be bound to
     restrain them from any attacks on their neighbours, and to resent
     such assaults on them, while it would be next to impossible for us
     to ascertain the merits of such complaints. We should thus
     constantly find ourselves in a position to please neither party,
     and even bound to defend causes in which the Afghans were to
     blame.”

Towards the end of 1868, having obtained the approval of the Government
in England, he arranged a personal conference with the Amir Shir Ali,
to be held at some place in British territory for settling the terms on
which a limited support by subsidies in arms and money might be accorded
to a friendly and independent Afghanistan. But he waited in vain for
Shir Ali, who, though anxious to come, was prevented from doing so by
some passing troubles near at home. This was in December, 1868, and his
stay in India was fast drawing to a close, as his successor, Lord Mayo,
was expected to arrive at Calcutta the following month, January, 1869.
So the plan, to which he had obtained the sanction of the British
Government, was unavoidably left to be carried out by his successor
after a personal meeting with Shir Ali at some early date; and this
actually took place at Umballa in the ensuing spring.

The night before the arrival of his successor, he attended the farewell
banquet given in his honour by some two hundred and fifty gentlemen
representing the European community of Calcutta. His public services
were reviewed by the chairman, Sir William Mansfield (afterwards Lord
Sandhurst), the Commander-in-Chief. His services respecting military
supplies and transport in 1846, and regarding reinforcements for the
army in 1857, were specially attested by Mansfield, a most competent
judge speaking from personal knowledge; and then his subsequent career
was reviewed in statesmanlike and eloquent terms. When he rose to reply
his voice was not resonant and his manner seemed hesitating, but the
hesitation arose from the varied emotions that were surging in his
breast, and the counter trains of thought that were coursing through his
mind, as “the hours to their last minute were mounting,” for his Indian
career. Doffing his armour after a long course of victory, and arriving
at that final end which entitles the victor to be called fortunate, he
might well have been cheerful; but, on the contrary, he was somewhat
melancholy--and his bearing then, compared to what it was when he landed
in Calcutta, shewed how heavily the last five years had told upon him.
His speech was characteristic as might have been expected. He reviewed
his own policy in a concise and comprehensive manner; he said a good
word for the inhabitants of North-western India, among whom his
laborious lot had long been cast, attributing much of his success to the
officers, his own countrymen, who had worked with him; and, as a
peroration, he commended the Natives of India to the kindly sympathies
of all whom his words might reach.

The next day he wore full dress for the reception of his successor, Lord
Mayo, according to usage. The gilded uniform and the glittering
decorations compared strangely with his wan look and toilworn frame. His
veteran aspect presented a complete contrast to that of his handsome and
gallant successor. He looked like a man whose conduct was as crystal and
whose resolution as granite. He was indeed prematurely aged, for being
only fifty-eight years old, he would, according to a British standard,
be within the cycle of activity. His faithful friends, and they were
legion, saw in him the representative of Anglo-Indian greatness. The
same could not be said of his predecessors: the greatness of Wellesley,
of Dalhousie, of Canning was not wholly of this character, but his
greatness was Anglo-Indian solely and absolutely. Like Warren Hastings,
the first in the illustrious line of Governors-General, he had been
appointed entirely for merit and service, without reference to
parliamentary considerations or political influences; and again, like
Warren Hastings, he had been instrumental in saving the empire from the
stress of peril.



CHAPTER X

CONCLUSION

1869-1879


On March 15th, 1869, Sir John Lawrence landed in England after an
absence of more than five years, his wife having preceded him thither
the year before. The friends, who welcomed his return, thought him
looking worn and broken. He was immediately raised to the peerage under
the title of Baron Lawrence of the Punjab and Grateley. The Prime
Minister (Mr. Gladstone), in the kindest terms, communicated to him the
pleasure of the Sovereign. For his armorial bearings he
characteristically adopted as supporters, two native Indian soldiers, a
Sikh and a Mahommedan, in order to perpetuate, so far as might be
possible, the remembrance of what he and his country owed to the men of
these classes. The name Grateley he took from the small estate on
Salisbury Plain which his sister Letitia, Mrs. Hayes, had left him on
her death. His home at Southgate had been transferred to Queen’s Gate in
South Kensington; and he very soon made a short tour to Lynton to see
his sister’s grave, and to Clifton near Bristol, the home of his
childhood.

In the spring of 1869, then, Lord Lawrence took his seat on the cross
benches of the House of Lords, apparently indicating that he had not as
yet attached himself formally to either political party, though he
certainly continued to be, what he had always been, a very moderate
Liberal in politics, anxious to preserve all the good institutions which
the nation possesses, while striving for such reforms as might prove to
be just, expedient or needful. His first rising in his place to say a
few words, on a matter relating to the organisation of the Council of
India at Whitehall, was greeted with significant cheers from both sides
of the House of Lords. At that time the Bill for disestablishing the
Irish Church was before Parliament, and in his heart he grieved over
this measure, being much moved by all the Ulster associations of his
youth, and well acquainted with all the considerations from a
Churchman’s point of view through his wife’s relations or connexions.
His regret was even intensified by his respect and esteem for the
Ministry of that day, especially for the Duke of Argyll, and for the
political party which comprised many of his best friends. When the Bill
came to the Lords from the Commons, he followed with keen but melancholy
interest the important debates which ensued, without however taking any
part in them. He voted for the second reading, in the belief that
resistance to the main principle of the measure had become hopeless in
the circumstances, and that it only remained for the friends of the
Church in the House of Lords to try and make the terms of
disestablishment more favourable to her than those offered by the House
of Commons, and to preserve as much of her property as possible. He
rejoiced when the House of Lords succeeded in doing much towards this
end.

At this time the loss of the troopship _Megæra_, off the south-western
coast of Africa, attracted much public attention; the Government
appointed a Commission of Inquiry of which he accepted the chairmanship.
Much evidence was taken and an elaborate report made, into all which
business he threw his wonted energy.

During the summer of 1869 his aspect brightened in the English air, and
the tired look began to disappear, as if the oppression of care had been
lightened. His circumstances were easy, and his means were adequate for
his requirements with that good management which he always gave to his
affairs. Though the inevitable gaps had been made by death among his
relations and connexions, still his domestic circle was more than
ordinarily peaceful and fortunate. His daughters were being married
happily, and his sons were growing up or entering the world
successfully. Thus the first year of his final return home drew to its
close favourably. The next year, 1870, he spent placidly at Queen’s
Gate, Kensington, recruiting his strength, until the autumn, which for
him became eventful.

He found that the Elementary Education Act had come into effect, and
that a great School Board for all London was to be assembled,
representing the several divisions of the metropolis. The elections took
place in November, and having accepted a nomination by the ratepayers of
his district, Chelsea, he was elected to be one of the members. When the
members of the Board assembled in the Guildhall, he was chosen by them
to be their Chairman, with Mr. C. Reed (afterwards Sir Charles) as
Vice-Chairman. His acceptance of this position, within a short time
after relinquishing the Government of India and returning to England,
gladdened his friends as proving at least a partial recovery of health,
but also surprised them. Thankless drudgery, as they thought, would be
his lot, while wearisome debates would tax his patience, and a
multiplicity of details would harass one who had been bred amidst
stirring affairs in distant lands. Some even wondered whether such work
as this would be for him _dignus vindice nodus_. He thought otherwise
however; and his immediate recognition, at the very outset, of the great
future in store for the London School Board, is a token of his
prescience and sagacity. He shared the anxiety then felt by many lest
the education given in the Board Schools should fail to include
religious instruction, and he decided for this reason among others to
put his massive shoulder to the wheel. He had the happiness soon to see
this instruction properly afforded. The work, too, was for the children
of the labouring poor, and--while looking towards high education with
due deference--he had fixed his heart always on elementary education. In
India he rejoiced in village schools, and during his sojourn in England
he had given attention to the schools near his house at Southgate.
Having accepted the Chairmanship, he was prepared not only to guide the
deliberations of the Board in a statesmanlike manner, but also to take a
personally active part in its business. The permanent officers of the
Board still remember the ardour and enthusiasm which he seemed to throw
into the work. Much as it might differ from that to which he had long
been used, yet he remembered the command,--that which thy hand findeth
to do, do it with all thy might.

On this Board he found many members in company with whom any man might
be glad to act: Lord Sandon (now Earl of Harrowby), Lord Mahon (the
present Earl Stanhope), Mr. W. H. Smith (now leader of the House of
Commons), Professor Huxley, Samuel Morley, the Reverend Anthony Thorold
(now Bishop of Rochester), and others. He presided regularly at the
weekly meetings, and when the executive business came to be done by
several committees, he attended them also with the utmost assiduity. On
this occasion, as on other occasions in his life, the acceptance of
fresh work seemed to have an electric effect on him. After the lapse of
seventeen years the operations of the Board are seen by all men to be
vast, probably the largest of their kind under any one Board in the
world; but in his day there was at first only a small beginning. The
number of children in the metropolis at voluntary schools (elementary)
of all kinds was little over three hundred thousand, too few for a
population of more than four millions, so the Board under his presidency
was to ascertain the total number of children of a school-going age,
then about three-quarters of a million, deduct therefrom the number
actually at voluntary schools, and for the remainder (technically called
the deficiency) provide Board Schools, after making allowance for those
who must unavoidably be absent.

In the very first instance he and his colleagues had to arrange the
working of the Board itself, which, as a representative body of
considerable importance, needed rules to be framed for the conduct of
its debates. He soon found the benefit of a definite procedure, because
public elementary education was new, and many questions which having
been since settled are now regarded as beyond dispute, were then in an
inchoate condition, and tossed about with diverse forces of argument.
Many of his colleagues were positive thinkers, fluent debaters, and
persons with independent or original ideas, so he had to preside
patiently over protracted discussions on grave subjects wherein, after a
survey of the arguments, his own mind was soon made up. So fast has been
the progress of public opinion, that nowadays, after the lapse of
seventeen years, we may wonder at the heat and pertinacity with which
several educational topics were debated before him: such as the exercise
of the powers for compelling attendance at the schools,--the
introduction of sound religious teaching,--the principles on which the
Board should calculate the educational wants which it was to
supply,--the curriculum of the subjects which should be taught in the
schools, as coming within the scope of elementary education,--the part
to be taken by the Board in carrying into effect the beneficent
principles of the Industrial Schools Act throughout the metropolitan
area,--the gradation of the fees payable by the scholars, and so on. He
rejoiced in the Resolution passed by the Board in 1871, that “The Bible
should be read, and that there should be given such explanations and
such instructions therefrom in the principles of religion and morality
as are suited to the capacity of children; provided that no attempt be
made to attach children to any particular denomination.”

He and his colleagues saw at once that the administration of so growing
a business as this could not be conducted by a deliberative body of more
than fifty members assembled once a week. He and they knew that the
executive work must really be done in Committees. So he arranged that on
one or more of the Committees every member of the Board should serve,
and that the recommendations of each Committee should be brought up to
the weekly meetings of the whole Board, for adoption, or for such other
orders as might be passed. Thus he saw those several Committees
constituted,--which have during the subsequent sixteen years done what
must be termed a mighty work,--for determining the provision of
school-places, according to the needs of the population,--for procuring,
and if necessary enforcing by law, the attendance at school,--for
distributing the large staff of teachers among a great number of
schools,--for dealing with the waif and stray children in the
streets,--for the purchase of sites for school-houses in densely peopled
quarters, and for the erection of buildings,--for managing the debt
which the Board must incur in building school-houses,--and for
determining annually the amount to be levied by precept from the
ratepayers of the metropolis.

He also saw a Divisional Committee appointed for each of the ten
electoral divisions of the metropolis, to consist of the members of the
Board representing that division with the assistance of local residents.
Then his Board furnished the Divisional Committees with a staff of
Visitors whose duty it was to make a house-to-house visitation, and to
register every child of a school-going age throughout the metropolis,
so that the attendance of all might be by degrees enforced; and this
far-reaching organisation still exists.

The elections being triennial, his Board, which had been elected as the
first Board in November, 1870, yielded place to its successor in
November, 1873. He then, from fatigue which necessitated repose,
resigned the Chairmanship after three years’ incumbency, and did not
seek re-election as a member. In fact, within his term, he had been once
obliged to be absent for a few months on account of sleeplessness
attributable to mental exertion. At the last meeting of his Board a vote
of thanks was accorded to him, on the motion of Samuel Morley seconded
by W. H. Smith, for the invariable kindness and ability which he had
evinced in the Chair.

Then it was announced that £400 had been contributed by members of the
Board in order to form a scholarship to perpetuate the memory of his
chairmanship, and £1000 were added by the Duke of Bedford “in order to
mark his sense of the services of Lord Lawrence and of the Board over
which his Lordship had presided.” The permanent officers of the Board
caused a portrait of him to be painted, which now hangs in the large
hall of the Board-meetings right over the Chair which is occupied by his
successors. A banquet was given in his honour by his colleagues, at
which a tribute to his labours in the Board was paid by Mr. W. E.
Forster, then a member of the Government, as vice-president of the
Council.

It may be well to cite some brief passages to show the estimation in
which he was held by the Board. When the vote of thanks on his
retirement was proposed, Mr. Samuel Morley, speaking as “an acknowledged
Nonconformist,” said that gentlemen of the most opposite opinions had
been able to work together harmoniously, and this result he attributed
in a large measure to the character of the Chairman. Mr. W. H. Smith
said “the way in which Lord Lawrence came forward had greatly tended to
rouse the minds of the people to the absolute duty of providing for the
education of the destitute children, not only of London, but of
England.” Another member said “his friends out of doors, the working
classes, would find fault with him if he did not on their behalf tender
their thanks to Lord Lawrence.”

From his reply one significant sentence may be quoted as showing that
his Board had been friendly to the Voluntary system of education in the
metropolis. “We have in no way trodden upon those who have gone before
us, or done anything to injure them, but on the contrary our sympathies
and feelings have been in the main with those who have preceded us, and
all we desired to do was to supplement the good work which they had
begun.”

Lastly, at the banquet Mr. Forster said that “the greatest compliment he
could pay to the Board would be to say that the work of the last three
years will not be the least interesting part of the history of Lord
Lawrence, and will bear comparison with many another passage in that
history.”

Thus ended the crowning episode in the story of his public life. He who
had been the master of many legions, had used the pomp and circumstance
of the East for exerting beneficent influence, had defended an empire
daring war and guided it in progressive ways during peace--now rejoiced
that the sunset of his career should be gilded by services to the poor
of London.

He continued, however, to take interest in matters cognate to education.
Being one of the Vice-Presidents of the Church Missionary Society, he
frequently attended the meetings of its General Committee. Once at a
gathering held in furtherance of the mission cause, he bore testimony on
behalf of the Missionaries in India, with words that are affectionately
cherished by all whom they concern.

     “I believe that, notwithstanding all that the people of England
     have done to benefit India (that is, by philanthropic effort), the
     Missionaries have done more than all other agencies combined. They
     have had arduous and uphill work, often receiving no encouragement,
     and have had to bear the taunts and obloquy of those who despised
     and disliked their preaching. But such has been the effect of their
     earnest zeal, untiring devotion, and of the excellent example which
     they have universally shown, that in spite of the great masses of
     the people being opposed to their doctrine, they are, as a body,
     popular in the country. I have a great reverence and regard for
     them, both personally and for the sake of the great cause in which
     they are engaged.”

In his three months’ absence, already mentioned, during his incumbency
in the School Board for London, he visited at Paris the scenes of the
Franco-German war and subsequent disturbances there. He also renewed his
recollections of Rome and Naples. Since 1871 he had taken for a summer
residence the beautiful Brockett Hall in Hertfordshire, fragrant with
the memories of Palmerston, and he kept it till the autumn of 1875. The
place and its surroundings always delighted him. The last years of
physical comfort that he was destined to enjoy were spent there. He
appeared to think himself old, though he was hardly so in years, being
then sixty-five; but over-exertion during his life of action may have
aged him prematurely. To his friends he would write that old age was
creeping over him.

Early in 1876 the eyes, which had been keen-sighted originally but had
for many years troubled him occasionally, began to fail, and an
operation was afterwards performed in London. During the summer he
suffered dreadful pain, and had for weeks to be kept in complete
darkness. From this misery he emerged in the autumn with one eye
sightless and the other distressfully weak. In the spring of the
following year, 1877, he submitted to a further operation, and took up
his abode in London at Queen’s Gate Gardens. Though unable to read or
write, he was relieved from the fear of blindness; so he made a short
tour in the New Forest, and attended the House of Lords occasionally
during the summer. In the autumn he visited Inverness, and was thankful
on finding himself able to read the Bible in large print. For the winter
he returned to Queen’s Gate Gardens, and in August of the next year,
1878, he moved for a while to Broadstairs in the Isle of Thanet. Soon he
began to take an anxious interest in the intelligence from Afghanistan,
which was then agitating the public mind in Britain. He dictated several
letters to the _Times_, reiterating with the old force and clearness his
well-known views on Afghan policy, which have been set forth in the
preceding chapter. He in conjunction with some of his political friends
pressed the Government in London for the production of papers that
might elucidate the circumstances, which had led to the military
operations by the British against Afghanistan, and especially the
conduct, as proved or surmised, of the Amir Shir Ali. He saw, however,
that events came thick and fast; the war advanced apace, and was
followed by a treaty with Shir Ali’s son Yakoob; the papers were
produced in England, and the whole matter was disposed of in Parliament
by a late autumn session.

Early in 1879 he seemed fairly well, though he himself had felt warnings
of the coming end. But in the spring he paid flying visits to Edinburgh
and Manchester. In May he made a wedding-speech on the marriage of his
second son. On June 19th he attended the House of Lords for the last
time. His object in so doing was to make a speech on a License Tax which
had recently been imposed in India. He did not object to such taxes
being introduced there to touch the rich and the comparatively
prosperous middle classes; indeed he had levied such himself. But he
deprecated them extremely if they reached the poor, and he was
apprehensive lest this particular tax should go too far in that
direction. Therefore he wished to raise his voice on the subject. But it
was with him that day as it had been with dying statesmen before, and
the sad history repeated itself. His once resonant voice, his strong
nerve, his retentive memory, failed him in some degree, and he was not
able to deliver fully a speech for which he had made preparations with
his wonted carefulness. Yet it was fitting, even poetically meet, that
this supreme effort of his should have been put forth on behalf of the
industrial poor for whom he had ever cared at home and abroad. However
he sat out the debate and drove home exhausted. During the ensuing days
drowsiness set in, and he, the indefatigable worker at last complained
of fatigue. But for the briefest while he revived enough to attend to
private business. He was present, too, at an anniversary meeting on
behalf of the asylum at Hampstead for the orphan daughters of soldiers,
and proposed a vote of thanks to the Duchess of Connaught. The next day
the sleepiness again overtook him, and continued for the two following
days, though he aroused himself enough to attend to business. Then he
became too weak to leave his bed, and shortly afterwards died
peacefully, surrounded by those who were nearest and dearest to him.

Two statues are standing in memory of him; one opposite the Government
House at Calcutta, on the edge of that famous plain, called the Mydan,
which is being gradually surrounded with monuments of British heroism
and genius; the other at Waterloo Place in London, side by side with
Clyde and face to face with Franklin. No stately inscriptions
commemorate his achievements in classic terms. His friends deemed it
best to engrave his great name on the stone, with the simplest
particulars of time and place.

But the most sympathetically human demonstration was that at the funeral
on July 5th, when his body was laid “to mingle with the illustrious
dust” in Westminster Abbey. The Queen and the Prince of Wales were each
represented in this closing scene. All the renowned Anglo-Indians then
in England were present. The gathering, too, comprised much that was
representative of Britain in war and peace, in art, literature and
statesmanship. The decorations of the officers, won in Eastern service,
shone amidst the dark colours of mourning. The words of the anthem were
“his body is buried in peace but his name liveth for evermore.” As the
coffin was lowered, the concluding lines of the hymn were sung:

    “And at our Father’s loved abode
      Our souls arrive in peace.”

The funeral sermon was preached in the choir by Dean Stanley, who
exclaimed as he ended: “Farewell, great Proconsul of our English
Christian empire! Where shall we look in the times that are coming for
that disinterested love, that abounding knowledge of India, like his?
Where shall we find that resolution of mind and countenance which seemed
to say to us,

              ‘This rock shall fly
    From its firm base as soon as I’?”

THE END


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, _Edinburgh_.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Vols. I.-IV., with Portraits, Now Ready, 2s. 6d. each._


English Men of Action.


=General Gordon.= By Colonel Sir WILLIAM BUTLER.

     The _Athenæum_ says:--“As a brief memorial of a career that
     embraced many momentous spheres of action, that included some of
     the principal military and colonial crises of the past fifty years,
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=Lord Lawrence.= By Sir RICHARD TEMPLE.

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Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

the Jullandur Doab=> the Jullundur Doab {pg 27}

serving in Oudh=> serving in Oude {pg 126}





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