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in the struggle, had been forced to sign two treaties with their conquerors. The first had settled the terms on which peace was made.
The second, concluded some months afterwards, had pledged each of the contracting parties to afford to the traders of the other the utmost protection and security. The arrangements which had been thus made might have endured if other nations besides the British had not been “busy in the Eastern Seas.” Americans and French were “notably looking towards the delta of the Irrawaddy," and Dalhousie concluded that, if he took no action himself, action might be taken by these Powers. In these circumstances he was led seriously to contemplate a fresh act of interference in Burma. In the course of years disputes had naturally arisen between the Burmese authorities and British traders, and in 1851 two specific complaints were brought under the notice of the Government of India. In June of that year, Captain Sheppard, the master of the British barque Monarch, was arrested at Rangoon on the charge of having thrown his pilot overboard. According to Sheppard's story, the pilot had run the ship into shoal water, had failed to extricate her, and, “from fear or shame,” had jumped overboard. The man, however, had disappeared; it was alleged that a sum of money had disappeared with him; and, even in civilised communities, investigation would have been ordered into the causes of his death. In Rangoon judicial inquiries were certain to be attended with abuse. The Governor ultimately released Sheppard, but he ill-treated one of his crew, and he extorted from Sheppard himself, in fees and fines, a sum of rather more than £100.
Four months afterwards, another British sailor, Captain Lewis, of the Champion, was charged before the Governor of Rangoon, at the instance of some of his crew, with murdering a sailor. There does not seem to have been any founda
treaty are printed in the Papers relating to Hostilities with Burma, presented to Parliament in 1852, pp. 87-91.
1 Arnold's Dalhousie, vol. ii. pp. 14-15. I have given the case almost exactly in Sir E. Arnold's words,
tion for the charge. The men who brought it were Lascars and deserters, and the remainder of the crew unanimously declared the captain innocent. In this case, however, there was again excuse for inquiry, and inquiry again led to injustice, abuse, and extortion. After some detention, Lewis was allowed to depart, but he was required to pay some £70 to the Governor.
In both these cases the Governor of Rangoon had undoubtedly been wrong, and both of them afforded good grounds for the interference of the British Government. No great country can allow its subjects to be ill-treated by the authorities of other nations, and it is a good thing for British trade that every people should know that the arm of Britain is long, and that she will not suffer any of her sons to be subjected to injury or extortion. Unfortunately, however, the Don Pacificos who see Britain in arms to avenge their cause are not usually moderate in their demands. Unfor
tunately, too, the breed is one which is easily multiThe original
plied. Lewis valued his losses and his sufferings
at £900; Sheppard presented a claim of £1000; the owners of the Monarch made a further demand for £800"; and a Mr. Potter-seeing that money was to be asked for, and fancying probably that it was to be got for the askingsent in a statement of a new grievance, accompanying it with a claim of £2600.
The Government of India, with these claims before it, acted with desirable promptitude and commendable moderation. It instructed Commodore Lambert, of H.M.S. Fox, to proceed to Rangoon, to satisfy himself of the accuracy of Sheppard's and Lewis's statements, to address a note to the Governor declaring that the British could not allow a treaty to be dis
regarded or its subjects abused, and to demand
such pecuniary compensation as on inquiry might seem reasonable. If the Governor of Rangoon refused to make the necessary reparation, the Court of Ava was to be asked to disavow his acts, and to pay the compensation which the Governor refused to concede. The Government of India,
claims on Burma.
in issuing these orders, abstained “from every expression ” even, which might have appeared unfriendly; it distinctly forbade the inception of hostilities without its own express authority.
Armed with these instructions, Lambert, in November 1851, set sail for Rangoon. On his arrival he was met by a deputation of British residents, who complained of numerous grievances of which they were the victims. These complaints ought obviously to have been addressed to the Government of India, instead of being made to a naval officer. They clearly did not affect the specific instructions which Lambert had received. Lambert, however, came to a contrary conclusion. He fancied that the long list of fresh complaints prevented his holding direct communication with the Governor. Instead, therefore, of making the demand for reparation on that officer, he at once applied for redress to the King of Ava, and, while he sent one of his officers to Calcutta to explain his reasons for deviating from his orders, he himself awaited at Rangoon the decision of the Burmese Court.2
Lambert's disregard of his orders, which was approved by the Government of India, was fortunately not attended with the serious consequences which might have been apprehended from it. The Court of Ava at once gave way; it removed the obnoxious Governor; it promised to Ava yields. settle the demands made upon it by the Indian Government; and it despatched a new Governor to Rangoon with full power to settle them. Barbarous Courts, however, occasionally make promises which they have no intention to redeem. It ought therefore to be added that Lambert-no partial authority -believed in the sincerity of the Court, and in the desire of the Burmese ministers to carry out their pledges.3
So far, therefore, all had gone well. On the first day of 1852, Lambert received the pacific message from the Court
The Court of
i Parl. Papers relating to Burma, pp. 1-24. The compensation was cut down by the Indian Council in the case of Sheppard from £1000 to £350, in the case of Lewis from £900 to £560, and the claim of the owners of the Monarch was pronounced inadmissible.
2 Ibid., pp. 24-33.
8 Ibid., p. 34.
Rangoon refuses to re
of Ava; on the 4th of January the new Governor arrived ; on the 5th, Mr. Edwards, a clerk or assistant-interpreter, was sent to arrange an interview with him; and on the 6th, Commander Fishbourne, Lambert's second in command, was instructed to carry a letter to him, and to arrange a settlement of the difference. In his interview with Edwards, nothing could exceed the courtesy of the Governor; he even
summarily and severely punished one of his suborGovernor of dinates who had threatened Edwards on his ap
proach. But he displayed an intense dislike to ceive Cap
receiving Fishbourne on the following day. This
officer was constantly informed that the Governor was asleep and could not be awakened, and he returned to his frigate without delivering his message.
There is, unhappily, too much reason to suppose that Fishbourne, by a neglect of etiquette, partially brought upon himself the discourtesy which he experienced. The Governor, though he had offered no objection to receiving 'letters or messages formally through Edwards, thought and declared that a formal mission should have been headed by Lambert himself. And Fishbourne's behaviour increased his dislike to receiving that officer. He rode into the Governor's compound, and by doing so probably unconsciously outraged the Governor's sense of decorum. And, when he was refused an interview, he displayed an irritation which offended the Governor's dignity. In the East, minute points of etiquette have an importance almost unintelligible to European readers; and the Governor, irritated at Fishbourne's neglect of rule, behaved with scant courtesy.
His faults, however, whether grave or venial, were faults of manner, and they were the faults not of the Court of Ava, but of the Governor of Rangoon.
Only a few days before Lambert had expressed his belief in the sincerity of the Burmese Court; he had received instructions to refrain from hostilities without express orders frorn India ; and if he felt himself precluded from pursuing
1 Cobden's Political Writings, vol. ii. p. 57.
the negotiation with the Governor, he had the alternative of again complaining to Ava or of referring to Calcutta for fresh orders. Instead of doing so, he choose to interpret the conduct of the Governor as the act of a nation. He
Captain wrote to the Court of Ava, stating that he was
stringent obliged to suspend all communication with the Burmese Empire, he declared the Burmese coasts in a state of blockade, and he seized and detained a vessel belonging to the Court as security for the indemnity which he had been instructed to claim.
These harsh and unauthorised measures did not immediately precipitate hostilities. The Burmese showed a disposition to give way, and an effort towards a reconciliation was made by the Governor of the adjoining territory of Della, who had won Lambert's confidence and respect by his conduct. But these negotiations fell through; and on the roth of January, Lambert, collecting his prize and the merchant vessels which required his protection, moved down the river.
In doing so, for the purpose of affording protection to the The Bursquadron, he anchored the Fox abreast of a battery or stockade which commanded the
passage of the river. The Burmese, who were in considerable force in the stockade, perhaps naturally, but unwisely, opened fire on the Fox. The captain of the Fox returned the fire, silenced the stockade, and drove out its garrison; the Burmese war-boats which were stationed nearest the stockade were destroyed by Lambert's orders; and Lambert, having secured a complete and easy victory, stationed the Fox at the mouth of the river.1
Hitherto the responsibility for the quarrel had mainly rested with subordinates. The management of the matter Dalhousie's was now assumed by the Governor-General. Dal- ultimatum. housie on the 26th of January issued fresh instructions. He
i Parl. Papers relating to Burma, p. 41. I have followed in the text the official account. Sir E. Arnold declares the men-of-war passed and repassed the stockades with an unmistakable meaning, and the Hermes beat to quarters, her captain knowing very well what would follow. Arnold's Dalhousie, vol. ii. p. 46.
mese fire on