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in their positions must, it will be rejoined, be guided by some rules or other, what was it that regulated their proceedings, and the exercise of their authority, amid this conflict of laws and customs ? We cannot claim for them, as a body, any great knowledge of jurisprudence. By far the greater number had wielded the sword, before they became administrators : and they pretended to no acquaintance with Huberus, Boullenois, or Vattel. At present there is not perhaps a man among them, who has heard of Burgi or Story. Nevertheless, acting upon an axiom, which is the fundamental one of all justice-"Do unto others, as you would that they should do unto you"—they proved good practical administrators, and were kept pretty right in the discharge of their mixed political, judicial, and administrative, functions, by
the golden rule, which they owed to their Christian education. They were led by it to a practical sense of what public interest and utility required, and of the inconveniences, which cannot fail to arise from any neglect of this moral foun. dation of justice. They felt, and felt rightly, that the paramount power had neither the right nor the wish, in maintain. ing the public peace, to enforce laws, customs, or institutions, subversive of the social polity and morals of the different races under its sway. Very few fixed and certain principles were ever enunciated by the Government to its agents; and it was not till late, that the Court of Directors hazarded a few brief rules for the guidance of their political officers. It may be said that the vast mass of private international cases, disposed of before the tribunals of our Residents and Agents, have been decided by their sense of what was just and equitable, rather than by any fixed principles. Both the Home and the Indian Governments shrunk from the delicate duty of legislating on such matters. For the former there was an excuse ; “ Trois degrés d'elevation du pôle renversent toute la jurisprudence ; un meridien decide de la vérité.” The Supreme Government, however, seemed not a whit more ready to face the difficulty, and preferred building on the good sense, right feeling, and sound integrity of its servants, rather than on its own wisdom and the sufficiency of legislative enactments. Responsibility was thus kept with its full weight on the shoulders of the agents of the paramount authority. They could appeal to no code, to no rules, and must always be prepared to show that their acts and decisions were in conformity to the most comprehensive views of equity.
Nothing is further from our intention than to give an exaggerated notion of the ability and judgment of the various principals and subordinates, who have taken part in the administration of the affairs of Central India. Men of every shade of opinion, acquirements, and character, have figured on that (of late but little observed) scene. Of these, few have proved defi. cient either in ability or in character; whilst some have been much distinguished, both for their attainments, and by their zealous exertions and exemplary discharge of duty. The attempt to compare or analyse the labours of so many valuable officers would be invidious; but we may safely assert that, as a body, their conduct has been such as to create confidence in the ability and impartiality of our countrymen; while, as to themselves, the result has been, that they have found themselves forced to discountenance reference to their tribunals, rather than to grasp at authority; and, in spite of this, they have often found themselves with more work on their hands than could well be done by them. Instead, therefore, of seeking to extend their jurisdiction, and to arrogate to themselves undue power and interference, their endeavours, with few exceptions, have systematically been turned to strengthening the hands of the petty rulers, with whom they were brought into connection.
Under this system, person and property have attained a considerable degree of security, and the predatory habits of the people have undergone a marked improvement during the thirty years of its continuance. “ We are now in the English times," has become a proverbial mode of concisely signifying that the spokesman has no intention of submitting as helplessly and hopelessly to oppression, as he might have done in the "times of trouble.” : Let us not, however, be mistaken. We have no wish to give the English times a particle more of credit than may be their due, or to ascribe to the system and its agents a degree of success, to which they themselves have never pretended to attain. Our readers must not suppose halcyon days for Central India. They must not imagine that person and property are as secure, and the countries, which it comprises, as free from marauders, as is the case in England. They will misunderstand us completely, if they arrive at any such conclusion. Neither the spirit, nor the practice, of marauding are forgotten, or out of vogue. Whenever favourable opportunities present themselves, events still occur, which teach how difficult it is permanently to subdue the predatory habits of a people, or of tribes. The seeds of evil may lie buried a while; but they spring into life and organized activity with wonderful alacrity, when circumstances suit. The causes of this are various; and it will be well to note a few of the chief.
Our power, when it has to cope with an object of sufficient magnitude, is capable of great efforts, and treads down opposition, or crushes evil, as in the case of the Pindarris, with irresistible force. But-the effort over, and the strength of first impressions gone--the knowledge gained of the cost and difficulty of putting our masses into motion soon restores confidence to the free-booter, who seldom has any apprehension from the march of a single detachment,-escape from such being a matter of extreme facility. Intermixed territories, under the rule of weak, and, sometimes distant Chiefs, as in the cases of Holkar and Scindia ; a very imperfect Police; a pervading fear of the resentment of the marauders; a consequent anxiety among the people to secure, to themselves and their property, impunity from vindictive violence, by silence and secrecy as to the movements of predatory bands, and by compliance with their requisitions for food and shelter; the apathy, fear, and (worse still) the corruption of the amils and subordinate servants of petty States ; the difficult nature of the jungles and wild country, which are usually the haunts and power of the marauders ; want of information, as to their times and places of assembly, plans, and movements; if by accident any should be caught and delivered into the hands of a Chief for punishment, the misjudged leniency exhibited; the fact that occasionally a respectable man is driven to revolt and plunder by the oppression and spoliation of men in authority; the pretext, which such instances afford, for those who choose, by plunder and violence, to seek to enforce compliance with unreasonable demands and pretensions; the favour, with which such men are invariably regarded by village landholders and authorities, who are always prone to think that the case may, any day, be their own; the eagerness, with which systematic plunderers range themselves under such leaders, in order to indulge marauding habits under the sanction of a cause, which unfortunately bears with it the sympathies of the people; the number of adventurers, either seeking for, or discharged from, the service of petty Rulers—a class of men hanging loose on society, and possessed of no means of livelihood except their weapons ; intermixture of jurisdictions and territories, each jealous of trespass, even in pursuit of the greatest of criminals;
--all these, and a variety of minor circumstances, which reflection cannot fail to derive from those specified, have favoured, and still do favour, the unextinguished spirit of marauding, which has few better fields than Central India.
In 1837, the Supreme Government was fully alive to the real state of affairs in Malwa and the neighbouring countries : and much consideration was bestowed upon various plans for more effectually subduing these evils. Lord W. Bentinck had seen the futility of the principle of holding petty and weak Chiefs responsible for the acts committed in their territories. Theoretically the principle could not be departed from: but much com. bined to render its practical application often impossible, and often inequitable. He had shrewdly enough seen the inefficiency of reclamations by Political Agents, through durbars and their vakils--that nerve, energy and action were paralyzed by such a system-and that, with the view of our influence being efficacious, it must not be diluted by passage through such a chain of references, but that controul must be brought more directly and immediately to bear.
The first project, entertained and discussed, was to entrust the general charge and direction of measures against marauding bands to one military officer, the Political Agent at Mahedpur; placing under his command all the military means of the coun: try, whether contingents trained and commanded by European officers, or undisciplined troops, Horse and Foot, in the service of the various States. This proposition, however, met no support from the Residents and Political Agents consulted, and was rejected-mainly on the ground, that the country was too exten sive to be effectually controlled by being placed under the supervision of one military officer.
The second project was concentration of authority in the hands of a Resident, or Agent for the Governor-General, who was to reside at some central point between Indore and Gwalior, and who was to have the general political superintendance of Malwa, and of all the States and Dependencies then under the separate Residents of Indore and Gwalior. The plan was analogous to the one originally recommended by Malcolm, excep, that the latter wished to create a Government out of this charget whereas with Lord W. Bentinck it found favour, because it would have enabled him to abolish a Residency. He accordingly eonsulted Speirs, Sutherland, and Wilkinson respecting its merits : but the plan was less agreeable to these officers than to the Governor General. They had differing views and opinie ons : and finally the idea was relinquished from the opposition of Scindia’s Durbar—the Maharaja being averse to a measure, cal: culated, in his opinion, to lower the dignity, and weaken the authority of his Government. Under these circumstances, recourse was had to a circumscribed and modified form of the first proposition. A detachment of Scindia's Contingent was moved to the Sathmahilla ; one, from the Mahedpur Contin. gent, to the Rampura district of Holkar; and the charge of operations was entrusted to the Political Agent at Mahedpur, Lieutenant Colonel Borthwick, who effected temporarily as much as could be expected, from the means at his command, and the limited nature of his authority.
Nothing however of a more permanent or comprehensive character was done: and, with the exception of raising Bhil Corps -one for the Vindhya Range, and one for the Southern Frontier of Oodeypur-and entering upon a discussion of the proposal for establishing, in Malwa and Rajputana, Courts similarly constituted to those in Kattywar and Myhi Caunta, the measures adopted were of little importance or effect; and the predatory spirit met with but a partial check, whilst minor kinds of marauding, and particularly cattle-stealing, flourished with as much vigour as ever. Discussion regarding the establishment of principal Courts, similar to those instituted in the Myhi Caunta, for the adjudication of international offences in Malwa, did not indeed drop; but it was continued to small purpose. Mere forms of procedure were not wanted, but modes of rapid organized action. These deliberations on the applicability of Kattywar Courts to Malwa served the object however of a Government, too deeply interested in the current of events on the North West Frontiers of India, to have leisure for such minor considerations, as those of the real improvement of the internal administration of Central India. Absorbed by the contemplation of the terrible turn of affairs in that distant scene of disaster, the Governor-General could only have regarded the discussions, above adverted to, as the least costly mode, whether in time, means, or thought, of evincing solicitude for the heart of an empire shaking in his grasp. He was, besides, appar: ently unaware that the elements of disorder were fast re-kindling. Beyond a few long despatches on the subject of these Courts, matters remained exactly as they had always been; and, as the attention of Residents and Political Agents was soon concentrated upon threatened disturbances of a more serious aspect than mere plundering adventures, they were not in the humour to pay much further heed to disquisitions never very apposite, never based on any clear apprehension or enun. ciation of principles, and the importance of which, if ever imbued with any, was vanishing before more pressing considerations. As our misfortunes thickened, the activity of latent enemies gained confidence ; and emissaries were everywhere busy, disturbing the minds of the people, and exciting the turbulent to take advantage of our humiliation. It was no longer a ques. tion of a few predatory bands, but of watching over and main. taining the supremacy of the British name and power. From the Kistna to the Jumna matters were ripe for confusion. A spark might have kindled a serious conflagration. Indeed, at