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qualities. The best speaker is not usually the best administrator, and the man of words is not always the man of knowledge. Few statesmen have ever surpassed the second Ellenborough in eloquence; few ministers have ever failed more signally in administration.
With an ambition which knew no bounds, Ellenborough regarded England as too narrow a field for his energies. He longed to throw his weight into the politics of a continent, and sighed for the Foreign Office as the proper field for his exertions. Among the many debts which this country owes to Wellington, few are greater than
obligation due to him from the fact that he declined to gratify the young peer's ambition. No reasonable man can read Ellenborough's Diary without perceiving that his accession to the Foreign Office in 1828 would almost inevitably have produced a Russian war. Instead of attaining the distinction which he sought, he was placed in what he called the incognito office of the Board of Control. But in that place he aped the manners of a Foreign Minister. Every victory which Russia gained in 1829 in Asia he regarded as a victory over himself. He declared that he could have stopped the advance of Paskievitsch with a mere trifle of £200,000. Asia, in the arrogant language of his Diary, was “ his.” He dreamt of meeting Russia on the Indus, and of winning a great battle on the banks of that river.1
To a man of Ellenborough's views, a Governor-General like Bentinck was unsatisfactory. And during 1829 the GovernorGeneral's recall was on many occasions probable. The change of ministry in 1830 strengthened Bentinck's position. He received, moreover, cordial support from the Whigs, and from Charles Grant, the new President of the Board of Control. He had the satisfaction, thenceforward, of knowing that the authorities at home, instead of doubting his policy, approved his principles.
And there had rarely been a period when a complete accord
1 Diary, vol. i. p. 273; vol. ii. pp. 88, 93.
between the Governor-General in India and the Board of Control in London was more desirable. The privileges which the East India Company enjoyed had from time to time been
renewed by the British Parliament. The charter of The Company's the Company had been extended for a period of
twenty years in 1773, in 1793, and in 1813. But the conditions on which it was continued in 1813 were different from those on which it had been originally granted. Instead of maintaining its exclusive right of trade, Parliament decided on throwing open the trade with India to all British subjects. It left the Company a monopoly of the China trade alone,
The Act of 1813 of course excited the strenuous opposition of the Company. The highest authorities were brought forward to prove that the trade with India would not be increased by a termination of the monopoly. Their views, however, were proved false by the result, and the stern logic of facts consequently pointed in 1833 to the further extension of the policy of 1813. Ever since the passage of the six Acts, moreover, monopoly had been slowly going out of fashion. Monopoly in politics, in religion, in social privileges, and in trade had been attacked and struck down. It was impossible to suppose that monopoly would be allowed to continue in Leadenhall Street.
The inclination towards free trade was, in fact, so prevalent, that it is doubtful whether, even if the Tories had remained in office, they would have consented to preserve the monopoly. Peel and the wiser members of the Cabinet were opposed to its continuance, and even Ellenborough slowly gravitated to the opinion that it was inexpedient, and indeed impossible, to maintain it. It is probable, therefore, that in any case the monopoly would not have been preserved. The fall of the Wellington Administration made its termination a certainty.2 Thenceforward the question for discussion was not its end,
1 Ellenborough's Diary, vol. i. p. 184.; vol. ii. pp. 37, 64, 219.
2 Brougham, in the course of his Yorkshire election campaign, denounced the monopoly as one of the main causes of the existing distress. Ann, Reg., 1830, Chron., p. 125,
but the manner of ending it. In this the Whig Government enjoyed the advantage that their predecessors had appointed a Select Committee 1 on the subject, whose functions were renewed at the instigation of the new ministry by the Parliament of 1830 and the Parliament of 1831.2 Guided by its researches, the Government consented to compensate the Company for the loss of its monopoly by an annuity of £630,000 charged on the territorial revenues of India. 3
It is a remarkable circumstance that the change of ministry which deprived the Company of its trade possibly preserved its political power for nearly a quarter of a century. Ellenborough was willing to leave the Company its trade, but he was desirous of depriving it of its power. Grant was in favour of leaving it its power and of stripping it of its monopoly. The Directors of the Company had always regarded their political power as an encumbrance, and they would possibly have accepted without regret the compromise which Ellenborough would have favoured. But the Whig Ministry shrank from proposing an alteration for which the country was not prepared, and which might have aroused the opposition by which the Coalition of 1783 had been destroyed. Though, however, it left the rule with Leadenhall Street, it altered the machinery of government. The Governor-General of Bengal was made Governor-General of India. A fourth member-an English jurist--was added to his Council, and the GovernorGeneral in Council was authorised to legislate for the whole of India. At the same time the disabilities which still clung to the natives were in theory swept away, and Europeans were for the first time allowed to hold land in India. These important proposals were carried at the close of the first session of the first reformed Parliament. But Parliament listened with little patience to Indian debates, and ministers found it necessary to apologise to small and
1 Ann, Reg., 1830, Hist., p. 64. 2 Wilson, vol. iii. pp. 479, 480.
3 The profits of the exclusive trade were stated by Grant to have decreased in the last three quinquennial periods from an average of £1,500,000 a year to an average of only £830,000 and £730,000. Ann. Reg., 1833, Hist., p. 180. 4 Ellenborough's Diary, vol. ii. pp. 131, 410. VOL. VI.
The Act of 1833.
languid audiences for occupying time with a discussion on Indian government.
Yet the Act of 1833 marks an epoch in English politics as well as in Indian history. It was the first public recognition which Parliament deliberately gave of the new policy which was gradually being introduced into the Board of Control. With Bentinck at Calcutta and Grant in London, men might hope for a period of peace in India, as men were already enjoying a period of peace at home. Wars of aggression had apparently ceased; the deficits which wars had occasioned had been terminated by economy; and India, free from open robbers like the Pindarees and secret robbers like the Thugs, had entered on an epoch of settled government. The last monopoly of the Indian Company had been struck down, the law which had prevented English capitalists from purchasing land in India had been repealed, and the natives, freed from their disabilities, had the prospect of acquiring distinction in the service of the Company. A politician, without being an optimist, might hope that a better day was dawning both in India and England. A better day! In history, as in the world around us, the night always succeeds the day, and the most that statesmen can do is to make the day of peace a little longer, the night of gloom a little less dark. The eternal law of action and reaction was to prove true both at home and in Hindostan. Progress in England was again to be arrested by the existence of a feeble ministry. The peace of India was again to be broken by the most unnecessary and most ruinous war which the English had ever waged.
AFGHANISTAN, SCINDE, AND THE PUNJAB.
The Governor-General was at Ootacamund when the Act of 1833 reached India. “In a climate equable as Madeira and invigorating as Braemar,” 1 he was seeking to regain the health which the heats of Calcutta had
resigns. impaired. There “the first Council under the new Act was held, and the new Government constituted.” 2 Unfortunately, however, the cool breezes of the Neilgherries did not restore strength to Bentinck, and he felt compelled to resign his office. His resignation led to important consequences both in India and in England. In India, Metcalfe was hastily summoned to Calcutta to fill the GovernorGeneralship till the pleasure of the Government at home could be ascertained. In England the choice of a GovernorGeneral became the subject of controversy and ill-feeling, and the selection which was ultimately made was determined on considerations and attended with consequences of supreme importance to the history not only of India, but of the world.
The rule of Metcalfe, Bentinck's immediate successor, is directly associated with one great reform and indirectly connected with two other measures.
Under all auto- Metcalfe cratic Governments a disposition to check the free temporarily expression of opinion is invariably visible; and him. even in this country, where free criticism was tolerated with more equanimity than in any other State of Europe, the authorities long disliked the growing freedom of the press. During the first forty years of the reign of George III.
1 The expression is Sir G. Trevelyan's, in Life of Macaulay, ch. vi.