Page images


one time it had nearly done so ; but a bold deed or two of timely stroke checked the growing spirit of disaffection, and kept things quiet in Central India, until our armies and authority had recovered their wonted ascendancy.

From that time up to the present moment, war, or the consequences of war-embarrassed finances, have so occupied our Rulers, that, provided the agents of Government employed elsewhere than on the actual scene of operations) could manage to rub on, keeping matters as they found them, and could avoid drawing too largely on the time and attention of the Govern. ment, the policy of successive Governors-General was satisfied. Under the pressure of such a state of affairs, Central India was not likely to be the subject of excessive care or cost: and the Residents and Political Agents have remained, except as to emoluments, much what they have always been, since the time of Malcolm and Wellesley (of Indore), and quite as unshackled in influence and authority.

Some modifications have taken place within the last few years ; but they are not such as have been productive of improvement. Whatever the necessity of humiliating the Court of Scindia after the battle of Maharajpur, it may be doubted whether the substitution of an assistant, in charge of the affairs of Scindia's Government, in lieu of a Resident, was the most judicious method of marking the displeasure of the paramount power. The measure weakened our direct controul over the Durbar, at the very moment that every thing should have been done to strengthen our influence. It was not that the change in the official designation of the Resident Agent mattered in the smallest degree : provided that officer had been kept in direct communication with the Supreme Government, the latter might have styled him what they pleased, and his real influence would have been as great as was desirable; but reference to a distant superior, laden with the charge of the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories, placed the officer at Gwalior in a secondary, an ill-defined, and a most anomalous position. We advert to this fact, in order that our remarks upon the detrimental effects of the measure in question may not be supposed to imply any animadversion upon the distinguished officer, to whom this delicate, but unsatisfactory, charge was entrusted. No one could probably, in that position, have effected more ; and when we state, that little has been done towards the introduction of an improved system of inter nal administration throughout Scindia's long straggling country, and that little has been accomplished towards the eradication of predatory habits and the security of person and property throughout that extensive line of territory, we reflect on the

[ocr errors]

measure, and not on the man. The resulting evils would have been greater, had it not been for the minority of the Mabarajah ; the party of the Bhai, who had adopted the young prince, was always in conflict with the Regency and its President. As the Regency was by treaty under the controul of the British agent, the President naturally leaned for advice and strength, where both were to be had ; and thus the resident officer, though only a subordinate, enjoyed greater influence than would otherwise have been the case. But, though the peculiar circumstances and constitution of Scindia's Government thus happened to be favourable to the weight of the local subordinate, they, by no means, counter-balanced the disadvantages inherent in, and inseparable from, his position.

One of the best men and best writers of the age, speaking of the spheres of action of Gospel ministers, says—" Where influence is diffused beyond a certain limit, it becomes attenuated in proposition to its diffusion : it operates with an energy less intense:"—the remark is as applicable to political, as to clerical charges, and the Anglo-Indian Government would do well to bear it in mind. There is a tendency to confound two very distinct things--concentration of authority, and efficacy of beneficent sagacious influence. Government seems apt to consider these as exchangeable terms. This is a mistake. There is a certain sphere, within which personal agency can operate with advantage, and occupy the space with a suitable pervading energy; beyond this sphere, it ceases to act with regularity, and only makes itself felt by occasional impulses—and these, not always either well-timed, or free from detrimental accompaniments. Concentration of authority is then synonymous with dilution of influence. Accordingly, during a minority, when every circumstance was favourable for the fullest impression and effect of our influence upon the councils and administration of Scindia's Government, what are the fruits ? what has been accomplished ? Is the youthful prince well educated, and fitted, by habits of attention to business and acquaintance with the actual condition and policy of his State, for the exercise of authority? Is the system, 80 much reprobated by Sleeman and others, of farming districts on very short leases to revenue contractors, reformed ? Is the Sathmahilla free from bands of predatory Soandís, and are districts, much nearer to the capital than the one named, unaccustom• ed to witness scenes of plunder and violence ? Do neighbouring States enjoy paradisaical repose from the incursions of such marauders ? Are the grinding vexatious transit and other taxes, in which Mahratta intellect has shown so much pernicious ingenuity, annulled or modified? Are the municipal cesses and dues levied in their larger towns improved, and have the latter, such as Burhanpur for instance, increased in size or population ? Has the trade, the wealth, the prosperity of Scindia's country advanced, and are the agricultural classes more numerous, intelligent, and contented, than they were thirty years ago ? If, with a few exceptions, a negative must be given to these queries, what does our Government anticipate, when the Minority and the Re. gency terminate ?

Whilst the state of affairs at Scindia's Court has been most favourable for the exercise of British influence, the existence, contemporaneously, of a Minority and Regency at Holkar's Court offered to the Indian Government precisely similar advantages, and a combination of circumstances, under which much ought to have been done for Central India. Who can say how much might have been effected, could an able Governor-Generalimpressing upon those regencies, through the agency of the Residents, unity of action and congruity of purpose--have given his attention to comprehensive measures for the welfare of the two countries, and moulded the two Durbars into a practical co-operation for the common improvement of the territories under Mahratta rule ? Virtually wielding the power of Holkar’s and Scindia's Governments, such an organized system might, by this time, have been in full operation, that when the minors severally came of age, they could not well have broken loose from the established order and relations, which it would have continued to be the duty of the Residents to watch, and, by their advice and influence, to perfect and secure. As the Muhammadan State of Bhopal (Muhammadan only in its rulers) was similarly circumstanced with Holkar’s and Scindia's, having a minor at its head, there is no exaggeration in saying that the whole of Central India was under the direct controul of the paramount power. We must deplore the want of thought, or the too absorbing interest of events on the North West Frontier, which rendered our rulers negligent of such propitious contingencies.

Young Holkar has had justice done him. The Resident at Indore speaks and acts with no reflex authority : and, as the adoptive mother of the young Chief was sensible, and exercised such influence as she possessed discreetly, the training and education of the youth have been in conformity to the

plans and wishes of the Resident, and the late Bhai Sahiba. Young persons, of his own age, and destined to be members of his Durbar, were associated with the Chief: and thus, in the course of his education, bis abilities were afforded the benefit of a wholesome, though probably subdued, competition. The result has been excellent. His own language-Mahratta-he is master of; he can read and understand English; is ready at arithmetic; and has more than an average knowledge of geography, besides much general information, and a desire for its acquisi. tion. So far therefore as the welfare of Holkar's country may be considered to depend on the general intelligence of its ruler, its prospects are fair; and both young Holkar and the British Government are indebted for this pleasing circumstance to the exertions of Mr. Hamilton, the Resident.

The charge of the Resident at Indore is considerable; under his own superintendence are the States of Holkar, Dhar, and Dewass. A Political Agent at Mahedpur has Rutlam, Jelana, Sitamow, Jhabua, and Jhowra under his supervision. Another at Sehore has Bhopal, Kurwai, Nursinghur, Rajghur, and Kilchipur. A third officer has Amjhera, Burwai, and Ali Mohun. Besides these functionaries, who are under the general controul of the Resident, must be added much miscellaneous business connected with the administration of the southern districts and the out-lying fragments of Scindia's territory, so inconveniently interspersed with the possessions of other principalities. He has charge also of the Opium Agency : and, though this, and the Thuggi Department, are, in a great measure, devolved

upon his assistants, the amount both of work and responsibility is heavy. During a minority, the weight of these is necessarily much increased : for on such an occasion, whatever the form of administration-whether the functions of Government be carried on by a Council of Regency, or by a Regent—the representative of the Supreme Government is held responsible for the welfare of the State, which, during the minority, is regarded as being specially under the protection and guardianship of the British power. This trust, involving as it does the good faith and character of his Government, invests the Resident with the entire controul of the Regent, or Regency. Accordingly, at Indore, every thing done or contem. plated must have his approval; and thus, virtually, the administration is in his hands. The Bhai Sahiba, when alive, though cognizant of all that took place, was not authorized to interfere in the conduct of affairs; and the frequent changes of ministers, if they deserve the name, ending in the appointment of the Munshi, against whom, through the press, constant attacks are now made, prove that the Resident in fact exercises the power of appointing what minister or ministers he pleases. Under these circumstances, he is, undoubtedly, responsible for the administration of Holkar’s Government and country: and we might proceed to ask similar questions to those we have put

[ocr errors]


with respect to the progress of improvement in Scindia's territories. With the exception however of young Holkar's comparative proficiency, and a revenue administration not quite so faulty, we fear that the replies would, on the whole, prove unsatisfactory.

Central India is, it must be confessed, very much where Sir J. Malcolm left it. Thirty years have gone over it, with but few and partial improvements, and very moderate advance in general prosperity, if any. The Bombay and Agra road can, it is true, be noted; but in doing so, attention is called to a long line of marked out, unmetalled, and unbridged road, in many parts unpassable during the rainy season.

No practicable roads unite the military Stations along the Nerbudda, and the lines of communication throughout the country generally remain as execrable as ever. Education owes such progress as it has made, chiefly to the exertions of one individual, Mr. Wilkin

His Sehore School bears a name, which the Indore and Gwalior establishments have not as yet attained. These are the main public educational establishments which have arisen under our influence; as exponents of the sense entertained by the native Chiefs and community of the value of learning, they are, except perhaps Wilkinson's, but sorry institutions. An English reader will probably ask whether European science, languages, and history have been the subject of attention. At these institutions it would not, perhaps, be natural to expect or look for much infusion of the spirit of European knowledge or ethics. A few works may be seen, purporting to be on objects of history or science, and to be either translations or compilations from European works. But watch the course of tuition, and you will soon observe, that these treatises are not in vogue, and that the inanities of Hinduism are the staple-the only pabulum, which the scholars are taught to relish. Of course this remark does not apply to the Mussulman youths, who however stick with equal pertinacity to the ordinary course of Persian classics. As for Hindu Patshalas and Moslem Madrissas, they remain what they were in the days of Akbar--and this whether they owe their origin to our influence, or not.

In Malcolm's time great hopes were entertained of the rapid development of the resources of the countries comprised under bis charge. It was believed that one and all of the territorial Chiefs would, in the course of a quarter of a century, find their revenues largely augmented, in consequence of the increase of cultivation, commerce and population. The result has not borne out these sanguine expectations. After the dispersion and settlement of


« PreviousContinue »