This account of Lord Wellesley’s Indian administration makes no claim to be exhaustive or final. A life of Lord Wellesley on a scale commensurate with his importance remains to be written, and the mass of material in the India Office and British Museum is so great that years of intensive study would be necessary for the historical student who should attempt it. It remains true, however, that a great deal of such labour would probably be unrewarded by any very valuable results. The main events of Lord Wellesley’s period of office are well enough known, and nothing is likely now to emerge which would fundamentally alter our view of it. Montgomery Martin, the editor of the famous Despatches, did his work so well that, as I can testify from experience, it is usually but wasted labour to glean where he has reaped. A rather misleading impression is apt to be given by such a statement as that of the late Lord Curzon in his British Government in India that “there are said to be four hundred volumes of MSS. still lying unexplored in the British Museum.” A great many of these, or at any rate duplicates of them, were obviously seen by Martin, and I have read through many volumes selected here and there only to find that he had allowed nothing of importance to escape him. I have little doubt, however, that there is still much of interest to discover, and though I cannot myself claim to have examined thoroughly even a quarter of these records, I have used certain volumes which have hitherto rather escaped notice, and I have especially looked for papers that might illustrate the relations between the Home and the Indian Government.
Pending, then, the appearance of an authoritative biography on a large scale, some excuse may yet be deemed necessary for the appearance of another short account of Lord Wellesley’s Indian administration. Several already exist, each possessing merits of its own, and I may perhaps particularly mention the admirable sketch by the present Dean of Winchester, the Very Rev. W. H. Hutton, in the Rulers of India series, to which I should like to acknowledge my obligations. But apart from the fact that this memoir is on a slightly larger scale than his, there is room for a diversity of verdicts on a statesman of the calibre of Lord Wellesley. It has, I think, been too generally assumed that a recognition of his greatness necessitates a sweeping condemnation of the efforts of the Court of Directors to control, or even to question, him; and precludes any but the most perfunctory criticism of the methods by which his wonderful results were achieved. I have not been altogether able to subscribe to that view. While I rate Lord Wellesley as high as, and perhaps higher than, all these writers, I am less inclined than some to assume that his opponents deserve only censure and contempt. Wellesley seems to me to merit at once loftier praise and more reasoned criticism than he has been wont to receive from the majority of biographers and historians. He often acted in a manner that was technically unconstitutional, and though I think it was well both for the British Empire in the East and for the Indian peoples that he did so, I cannot think it reasonable to blame the Court of Directors because they could not always concur, and did not always understand. An effort has been made in these pages to explain the difficulties necessarily inherent in the triple control constituted by the Governor-General in Council in India, the Court of Directors in Leadenhall Street, and the Board of Control in Whitehall. It is fatally easy to condemn in scathing words this elaborate system of check and countercheck, but there neither was, nor could have been-especially at this time-any heaven sent plan for the government of a vast dependency separated from the suzerain power-to use a vivid phrase of Lord Wellesley himself-by” all this dreadful space of half the convex world.” There were no precedents to guide that generation. The problem had necessarily to be worked out by a solvitur ambulando, and the three bodies above mentioned were perhaps the best means then available for reconciling Indian experience with commercial interests and political control. It is not surprising that the Court of Directors lagged behind both their great Governor-General and the Presidents of the Board of Control of that time in their appreciation of imperial questions, but at least they had a point of view which has not been altogether understood, and which they ably defended.
It may perhaps be permissible to indicate where my study of the records has been most fruitful. In Chapter XIV it has enabled me to carry the history of the famous College of Fort William to a later point than is generally reached, and to describe the interesting controversy that ensued between the Court of Directors and the President of the Board of Control. In Chapter XVIII, though Castlereagh’s and Arthur Wellesley’s comments on the Treaty of Bassein are to be found in Martin, the criticism of John Malcolm has not, I think, before been printed. In Chapter XXIII, most of the correspondence between the Court and the Board of Control has not hitherto been published. I make no apology for giving so much of these documents in full, for I know of nothing else that illustrates so clearly the relations-hitherto veiled in a good deal of obscurity between the Directors, the Board of Control, and the Government in India. Incidentally, these documents show that Lord Castlereagh, in his short period of office as President of the Board of Control, was already exhibiting those great qualities of reasonableness, insight, patience, urbanity, and unflinching firmness which he was after-wards to display in a wider sphere, when working for the world-settlement after the ruin of the Napoleonic system. On some minor matter of administration the Court of Directors complained of a letter of Castlereagh as amounting to a threat. To this the President of the Board gently answered that a reperusal of his letter would correct this impression, and added with illuminating truth that a threat” is not the mode in which my feelings or habits incline me to do business.” All his subsequent diplomatic successes verify the truth of this interesting reflection on his own method.
The references in the footnotes show the authorities on which I have mainly relied. Besides the staple histories and biographies, and Martin’s Despatches which must always remain the chief foundation for any history of Lord Wellesley’s life and career, various other works have been placed under contribution. I should like especially to acknowledge my indebtedness to the Hon. Sir J. W. Fortescue’s great History of the British Army. References will be found to contemporary works and pamphlets, to Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates and to the Garnatic and Oudh Papers printed by order of the House of Commons, to many volumes of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, and to the recently published Wellesley Papers. Of records in the India Office I have especially used the following volumes of the Home Miscellaneous Series, 236, 481, 482,486, 487, 488, and 504. Of the great collection of Wellesley records among the Additional MSS. in the British Museum, I have made especial use of the private and family papers, Nos. 37315, 37316, 37416, 37282, and of Nos. 13393, 13395, 13592, 37284, but many other collections have been examined.
Professor Dodwell, of London University and the School of Oriental Studies, and Sir Verney Lovett, K.C.S.I., Reader in Indian History at Oxford, have very kindly read the proofs, and I owe them thanks for valuable suggestions and corrections.
The book has had to be written in the too few periods of leisure that fall to the lot of a hard-worked College tutor, and no one is more conscious than the author of the measure in which it falls short of what he would fain have had it be. If it only inspires some historical scholar with greater abilities and ampler leisure to embark on that authoritative biography which is long overdue, it will not have been written in vain.
|II.||FAMILY-EARLY LIFE-APPOINTMENT TO INDIA||14|
|III.||THE PROBLEM ON WELLESLEY’S SUCCESSION||22|
|IV.||THE SUBSIDIARY ALLIANCE SYSTEM||34|
|V.||RELATIONS WITH TIPPU OF MYSORE||41|
|VI.||CONQUEST OF MYSORE-CHARACTER OF TIPPU||52|
|VII.||SETTLEMENT OF MYSORE AND THE IRISH MARQ.UISATE||63|
|VIII.||RELATIONS WITH THE NIZAM OF HYDERABAD||77|
|IX.||THE NABOB OF ARCOT’S DEBTS||85|
|X.||THE CARNATIC, TANJORE AND SURAT||101|
|XI.||THE COERCION OF OUDH||116|
|XII.||THE SETTLEMENT OF THE CEDED PROVINCES||137|
|XIII.||FOREIGN AND IMPERIAL POLICY||143|
|XIV.||THE COLLEGE OF FORT WILLIAM||150|
|XV.||THE INDIAN TRADE||166|
|XVI.||THE BEGINNING OF OPPOSITION IN INDIA AND AT HOME||175|
|XVII.||THE TREATY OF BASSEIN AND ITS CONSEQ.UENCES||186|
|XVIII.||CRITICISM AND DEFENCE OF THE TREATY OF BASSEIN||195|
|XIX.||THE MARATHA WAR IN THE DECCAN||209|
|XX.||THE MARATHA WAR IN HINDUSTAN||221|
|XXI.||THE WAR WITH HOLKAR||236|
|XXII.||LORD WELLESLEY’S RESIGNATION||256|
|XXIII.||THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL, THE COURT OF DIRECTORS AND THE BOARD OF CONTROL||265|
|XXIV.||THE POLICY OF REVERSAL IN INDIA||289|
|FRONTISPIECE-THE MARQUESS WELLESLEY, K.G.|
|INDIA ON LORD WELLESLEY’S ACCESSION facing page||22|
|THE PARTITION OF MYSORE page||66|
|MONSON’S ADVANCE AND RETREAT page||248|
|INDIA AT LORD WELLESLEY’S DEPARTURE facing page||256|
Item Code: NAH397 Author: P.E. Roberts Cover: Hardcover Edition: 1926 Publisher: Vishwavidyalaya Prakashan, Varanasi Language: English Size: 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch Pages: 336 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 530 gms