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Major Macgregor-Mr. G. R. Clerk.
ed a communication with the Afghans, and actually purchased, under cover of the night, not only provisions, but even ammunition from those with whom, in his military capacity, he was engaged in fighting during the day.
But the treasure was not inexhaustible, and unless it could be replenished there was still risk of the garrison perishing from the want of the means of subsistence and defence. The required pecuniary reinforcements were furnished by two other able members of the political department, both, like Major Macgregor, accomplished oriental scholars, and conversant with the ways and manners of the people among whom they were thrown. These were Captain Lawrence, now Resident at Lahore, and Captain Mackeson, who, from their post at Peshawur, contrived by small remittances, carried by horsemen, (who of course passed as belonging to our enemies,) to keep the treasury at Julalabad from being drained.
But Peshawur belonged to the Sikhs, and without their concurrence our political agents could neither have remained there, nor have commanded the means of rendering aid to their countrymen in advance. How was that concurrence obtained throughout the long and dreary period of our disasters and depression? Here the influence of another political agent of a higher grade is to be found contributing directly to the great object of supporting the force at Julalabad. · We know now what the Sikhs are, and are therefore in the best position to prize to the full the service rendered to his country by the individual through whose tact and talent the Court of Lahore was kept steady to its friendship at a season when, not to speak of its open hostility, its mere inactivity might have done us such deadly injury. That individual was Mr. George Russell Clerk, of the Bengal Civil Service, then the Governor-General's Political Agent on the Sutledge, and lately appointed to be the Governor of Bombay.
We must now go back upon our steps to Cabool," where Sir Willian Macnaghten had perished, in a vain attempt to effect by negotiation, what our arms could not achieve.
Mr. Thornton (page 294,) repels with becoming scorn the miserable attacks upon the envoy's memory, in regard to this very negotiation ; but even he hardly gives full force to Sir W. Macnaghten's emphatic expression, as we have heard it, of his consciousness of the danger which he was about to encounter. “I know that it is dangerous," were, we believe, his words to some one who sought to dissuade from meeting the insurgent chiefs, “but will you tell me what there is that we can do now which shall not be dangerous ?"
By the death of the envoy and Sir A. Burnes, Major Pottinger became the senior of his department on the spot, and con
sented, Mr. Thornton tells us, at the urgent request of the General, to act as Political Agent.
At a council of the senior officers of the force,
“Major Pottinger opened his views, avowing his conviction that no confidence could be placed in any treaty formed with the Afghans, and that to bind the Government of India, by engagements, to evacuate the country, and to pay a sum of 14 lacs of rupees (for this formed part of the engagement,) was inconsistent with public duty. Entertaining these opinions, the only honourable course in his judgment was either to hold out to the last at Cabool, or to endeavour to force a way to Julalabad. Major Pottinger appears to have found no support in the council.”—P. 299.
Here we see the want of a separate political officer, acquainted with the language and manners of the country, acknowledged in the hour of difficulty, in a manner not to be mistaken; but Mr. Thornton omits one circumstance highly honourable to Major Pottinger's disinterestedness, namely, that when his objections were overruled, he consented to affix his signature, as required by the Afghan Chiefs, to the treaty concluded with them, in order that he might not cripple a measure resolved upon by others, however much he might disapprove of it himself.
Major Pottinger's life was preserved by his being made over to the Afghans as a hostage, and he appears once more upon the scene, as the main, we might almost say the sole, agent, in effecting the liberation of the ladies and other captives at Bamian, on the borders of Toorkestan, in September 1842.
The description of this event, by Mr. Thornton, at page 385, is well worthy of perusal; but we can only find space for the following sentences, cited from Lady Sale's narrative:
“It would be great injustice to Major Pottinger not to mention the active part he took in affairs. From his perfect knowledge of the Persian language, and his acquaintance with the manners and customs of the people, he well knew how to manage them, and take advantage of the slightest opening on their part in our favour. His coolness and decision were only equalled by the promptness with which he met the wishes of the Chiefs.”
The liberation of the captives was an object of vast public importance; for the reproach attaching to us throughout India from their long detention, would have been rendered indelible by their removal into hopeless slavery in Toorkestan. In this matter, policy confirmed what gallantry dictated, and the whole nation owes a vast obligation to the young Political Agent, the late (alas ! that we must say the late,) Major Pottinger, * who in res
Major Pottinger died in China, where he had gone to see his uncle, Sir H. Pottinger, immediately after his return from Cabool.
cuing his countrywomen from a fate too terrible to contemplate, saved his country's honour from a stain that must have tarnished all its after triumphs.
The thorny subject of Sinde alone remains to be noticed ; and this we shall touch upon but lightly.
All that we know for certain about this province, on the authority of the volume before us (page 413,) is, that, “ during the terrible reverses of our armies in Afghanistan, and the consequent diminution of our military reputation,” Sinde was under a separate Political Agent's charge, and that Sinde then remained tranquil. We are further told, at page 415, that on the 15th October 1842, Sinde was transferred to the political charge of the General commanding our army in that quarter, and that thenceforward, as our dangers were passing away in other quarters, our troops returning in triumph, and assembling in vast strength on the Sutledge, Sinde became disturbed, and the scene of a desperate struggle.
It is clear, therefore, we think, that whatever there may be of good or of evil, future or present, in the conquest of Sinde, is to be carried to the credit or debit of that union of political with military power, which, though so often spoken of as a desideratum in our system of Indian government, we have only, in this one instance of late, seen submitted to the test of practical experiment.
We may now draw to a conclusion, trusting that we have done something, even by our feeble and imperfect sketch, to disabuse our readers of a prevailing error, relative to one most important department of British Indian administration, and that, too, without reflecting upon any other branch of the public service.
The error, if it be one, is of no slight magnitude, for it remotely involves the removal of the main restraint
upon our empire's tendency to overshoot even its gigantic strength, by a too rapid growth. If, by exaggerating failures, and keeping all the good done by the political department, as at present constituted, out of sight, an impression can be produced that Indian diplomacy, even in its details, is as safely to be intrusted to persons of no Indian experience as to those who have made the languages and manners of the people of the East their professional study, it follows as a natural consequence, that, at no distant period, our negotiations may, in future wars, be left in the hands of a class, whose leanings must ever be in favour of further and further conquest.
Here we must stop; but our partings with Mr. Thornton are even alleviated by the prospect of a speedy meeting, and a glance at what is to follow may therefore form a fitting close to our notice of the volume before us. Judging of his feelings by our own, we almost envy him the task that now we hope occupies
his attention. It must indeed be with a joy bearing some faint resemblance to that expressed by Dante and Milton, in effecting their escape from the realms of darkness or uncertain light, that our author will pass from a tale of distress, and disaster, and clubious glory, to the more congenial theme of a war founded in justice, prosecuted with vigour, and terminated with that lofty wisdom which waves immediate to secure enduring benefits.
If there be any drawback on the pleasure attending the contemplation of the events alluded to, it will we fear be found in the verification of a remark in our former Article, that even a Governor-General requires encouragement to persevere in a course of moderate and forbearing policy. Great as is the honour due to Lord Hardinge for his heroic bearing during those successive days and nights of battle, when, for the first time in the annals of our Indian empire, that empire was for a while in real and imminent peril, not less is praise justly owing to his moral courage in braving the reproach, not to be averted even by his long-established name as a soldier, or by his recent deeds of daring in the field, for resolving to refrain from seizing upon all that those very deeds had contributed to bring within
We rejoice to perceive, that while but too many in India join with the equally inconsiderate in England in blaming the moderation of the Governor-General, the wiser portion of the Indian Press has maintained its own character by defending the recent policy of our Government towards the rulers and people of the Punjaub. How that policy is viewed by our own native subjects in the East, is what few will condescend to inquire. Yet their views upon such a point seem to us to be of no secondary importance; and we are happy to be able to assure our readers, upon the authority of some of the best-informed among our countrymen on the spot, that the arrangements which followed the brilliant campaign on the Sutledge have gratified our friends as much as they have mortified our enemies ;- the former rejoicing at the proof afforded by our moderation in the hour of triumph of the sincerity of those professions in which their faith had been a little shaken, the latter lamenting that they can thence divine no confirmation of their assertions that our cupidity is boundless, and that our real object is the gradual absorption, on any decent pretext, of
every independent state in India. For ourselves, we fi ankly avow our pride at finding the speculative views contained in our former Article to be in harmony with the subsequent policy of the Government of India, and at the high confirmation thus given to the opinion there hazarded on the wisdom of leaving a nation of Hindoo origin and character interposed between us and the fanatical Mahominedans of Western Asia.
The Scotch Law of Entail.
Art. VII.— The Scotch Law of Entail considered with reference
to its Practical Evils, as affecting the Means of Improvement of the Country. Edinburgh : 1847.
The effects of the Scotch law of entail present a very striking proof of the inevitable tendency to evil which marks all violations of natural law, and all artificial systems set up by man, contrary to the provisions established by the Almighty for the regulation of the possession and enjoyment, by His creatures, of the gifts which He has bestowed upon them. The earth is THE LORD's. To men, as generation after generation passes over it, He has given its use; but to no one generation has he granted authority to exclude those who are to succeed, from the same full and free enjoyment which they themselves possess. This principle is so clearly founded in natural law, that it at once approves itself to the common feelings of all men ; and it has even been admitted by very eminent authorities in our own municipal law-as by the first Lord Meadowbank, who, on one occasion, observed from the bench—“ That he thought that the earth was : given for the enjoyment of the inhabitants of the earth for the time; and that it was contrary to principle that the men existing in one generation should tie up those who were to succeed them in the use of such property, in all future generations.”
The law of entail, however, is in direct opposition to this great principle. Its object is to enable the men of any one of the generations, which fit over the earth's surface as shadows that pass away, to impress permanently on particular portions of that earth, their own puny and transitory will, so that from thenceforward, and for ages to come its succession--its usem its enjoyment—its management—its disposal—should all be regulated, not according to the wants and the will of the generation which may for the time possess it, but according to the dictates of one whose frame has itself long been dust;-dictates, too, adopted often from mere caprice, and of necessity unsuited to a state of society and circumstances which he never could have foreseen.
The origin of this system was the intense—we might almost, with reference to the feelings of Scottish proprietors, call it the insane—desire of perpetuating, under all circumstances and changes, their own families and names, and the possession, in persons of their own blood, of the lands they themselves have inherited or acquired, By the law of Rome, so strongly found