7. The rest are for the most part commanded by boys, or Court favourites, who seldom see them, keep about two-thirds of what are borne on the rolls and paid for, and take about one-third of the pay of what remain for themselves. The singer, Rajee-od Dowla, the prime favourite above named, has two regiments thus treated, and of course altogether inefficient, ragged, hungry, and discontented. It will be easy to remedy all this, get excellent men, and inspire them with excellent spirit by instituting a modified pension establishment for men disabled in the discharge of their duties, and providing for their regular pay and efficient command.
8. This would prevent the necessity of employing British troops, except on rare and great occasions; the settlement of the land- revenue, and knowledge that they would be employed if required, would keep the great landholders in obedience. It would be well to have back the corps of infantry and two guns that were taken away from Pertanghurh, in Oude, in 1835. This is all the addition that would be required to secure an efficient Government; and the scale to which our troops in Oude had been reduced up to that time (1835) was generally considered the lowest compatible with our engagements. A regiment of cavalry had been borrowed from Pertanghurh for the Nepaul and Mahratta wars in 1814 and 1817; it was finally withdrawn in 1823.
9. The judicial Courts would be well conducted while the presiding officers felt secure in their tenure of office, which they would do when their dismissal depended upon proof of guilt or incompetency sufficient to satisfy a Board guaranteed by our Government.
10. The police would soon become efficient under the supervision and control of respectable revenue-officers, having the same feeling of security in their tenure of office. All the revenue-officers would, of course, be servants of Government instead of contractors. There would be grades answering to our commissioners of divisions, say four; 2nd, to our collectors of revenue, say twenty-eight; 3rd, deputy-collectors, say twenty-eight; all under the Board, and guided by the member intrusted with that branch of the administration: all would be responsible for the police over their respective jurisdictions.
11. Oude ought to be, and would soon be, under such a system, a garden; the soil is the finest in India, so are the men; and there is no want of an educated class for civil office: on the contrary, they abound almost as much as the class of soldiers. From the numerous rivers which flow through the country the water is everywhere near the surface, and the peasantry would manure and irrigate every field, if they could do so in peace and security, with a fair prospect of being permitted to reap the fruits. The terrible corruption of the Court is the great impediment to all this good: the savings would more than pay all the increased outlay required for rendering establishments efficient in all branches, while the treasury would receive at least one-third more than the expenditure; that is, 1,50,00,000 Rs., or one crore and a half.
12. From the time the treaty of 1801 was made, up to within the last few years, the term "internal enemies" was interpreted to mean the great landholders who might be in resistance to the Government, and this interpretation was always acted upon; the only difficulty was in ascertaining whether the resistance was or was not, under the circumstances, justifiable. While employed in Oude with my regiment, and on the staff in 1818 and 1819, I saw much of the correspondence between the Resident and Commandant; many letters from the Resident, Colonel Baillie, mentioning how bitterly Saadulullee, with whom that treaty was made, had complained, that after the sacrifice of half his kingdom for the aid of British troops in keeping down these powerful and refractory landholders, he could not obtain their assistance without being subject to such humiliating remonstrances as he got from officers commanding stations whenever he asked for it. Aid was often given, and forts innumerable were reduced from time to time, but the privilege of building them up again was purchased from the same or another contractor next season.
13. At this time I have calls for at least two battalions and a train of artillery, from about six quarters, to enforce orders on these landholders. Captain Hearsey has had men of his Frontier Police killed and wounded by them on the western border, and declares that nothing can be done to secure offenders, refugees from our districts, with a less force. Captain Orr has had several men wounded, and prisoners taken from him, by the same class on the eastern border, and declares to the same effect. Sixteen sepoys of our army, 59th N. I., on their way home on furlough were attacked and two of them killed, three weeks ago, by a third Zumeendar, at Peernugger, his own estate, within ten miles of the Setapore Cantonments, where we have a regiment. Captain Barlow's regiment and artillery, and another, with all Captain Hearsey's Frontier Police, are in pursuit of him. Four others have committed similar outrages on our officers and sepoys and their families, and the Government declares its utter inability to enforce obedience or grant any redress, without a larger force than they have to send. Great numbers of the same class are plundering and burning villages, and robbing and murdering on the highway, and laughing at the impotency of the sovereign. It was certainly for aid in coercing these "internal enemies" that the Sovereign of Oude ceded his territories to us, and for no other, and that aid may be afforded at little cost, and to the great benefit of all under the system I have submitted for your Lordship's consideration. It will be very rarely required, and when called for, a mere demonstration will, in three cases out of four, be sufficient to effect the object.
14, After a time, or when the heir-apparent comes of age, the duties of the guaranteed members of the Board may safely be united to a supervision over the settlement made with the principal landholders, whose obedience our Government may consider itself bound to aid in enforcing; all the rest may be left to a competent sovereign; and there will be nothing in the system opposed to native usages, feelings, and institutions, to prevent its being adhered to. I should mention, that many of these landholders have each armed and disciplined bodies of two thousand foot and five hundred horse; and, what is worse, the command of as many as they like of "Passies," armed with bows and arrows. These Passies are reckless thieves and robbers of the lowest class, whose only professions are thieving and acting as Chowkedars, or village police. They are at the service of every refractory Zumeendar, for what they can get in booty in his depredations. The disorders in Oude have greatly increased this class, and they are now roughly estimated at a hundred thousand families; these are the men from whom travellers on the road suffer most.
15. A second Assistant would be required for a time to enable the Resident to shift off the daily detail of the treasury, which has become the largest in India,—I believe, beyond those at the three Presidencies.
A good English copyist, capable of mapping, will be required in the Resident's office at 150, and two Persian writers 100; total 250. These are the only additions which appear to me to be required.
16. I annex a list of the regiments now in the King's service, Telungas, or regulars, and Nujeebs, or irregulars; and with my next official report I will submit a list of all the establishments, civil and military.
17. The King's habits will not alter; he was allowed by his father to associate, as at present, with these singers from his boyhood, and he cannot endure the society of other persons. His determination to live exclusively in their society, and to hear and see nothing of what his officers do or his people suffer, he no longer makes any attempt to conceal. It would be idle to hope for anything from him but a resignation of power into more competent hands; whatever he retains he will assuredly give to his singers and eunuchs, or allow them to take. No man can take charge of any office without anticipating the income by large gratuities to them, and the average gratuity which a contractor for a year, of a district yielding three lacs of rupees a- year, is made to pay, before he leaves the capital to enter upon his charge, is estimated to be fifty thousand rupees: this he exacts from the landholders as the first payment, for which they receive no credit in the public account. All other offices are paid for in the same way.
18. The King would change his minister to-morrow if the singers were to propose it; and they would propose it if they could get better terms or perquisites under any other. No minister could hold office a week without their acquiescence. Under such circumstances a change of ministers would be of little advantage to the country.
19. The King will yield to the measure proposed only under the assurance, that if he did not, the Governor-General would be reduced to the necessity of having recourse to that which Lord Hardinge threatened in the 10th, 11th, and 12th paragraphs of his letter of October, 1847, and the Court of Directors, on the representation of Lord William Bentinck, sanctioned in 1831. The Court was at that time so strongly impressed with the conviction that the threat would be carried into execution, that they prevailed upon the President to undertake a mission to the Home Government, with a view to enlarge the President's powers of interference, in order to save them from the alternative. This led to Mr. Maddock's removal from the Presidency; all subsequent correspondence has tended to keep up the apprehension that the threatened measure would be had recourse to, and to stimulate sovereigns and ministers to exertion till the present reign. The present King has, from the time he ascended the throne, manifested a determination to take no share whatever in the conduct of affairs; to spend the whole of his time among singers and eunuchs, and the women whom they provide for his amusement; and carefully to exclude from access, all who suffer from the maladministration of his servants, or who could and would tell him what was done by the one and suffered by the other.
20. But it is not his minister and favourites alone who take advantage of this state of things to enrich themselves; corruption runs through all the public offices, and Maharaja Balkishen, the Dewan, or Chancellor of the Exchequer, is notoriously among the most corrupt of all, taking a large portion of the heavy balances due by contractors to get the rest remitted or misrepresented. There is no Court in the capital, criminal, civil, or fiscal, in which the cases are not tampered with by Court favourites, and divided according to their wishes, unless the President has occasion to interfere in behalf of guaranteed pensioners, or officers and sepoys of our army. On his appearance they commonly skulk away, like jackals from a dead carcase when the tiger appears; but the cases in which he can interfere are comparatively very few, and it is with the greatest delay and difficulty that he can get such cases decided at all. A more lamentable state of affairs it is difficult to conceive.
With great respect, I remain, Your Lordship's obedient humble servant, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.
To the Most Noble the Marquis of Dalhousie, K.T., &c. &c. &c.
P.S.—I find that the King's brother is altogether incompetent for anything like business or responsibility. The minister has not one single quality that a minister ought to have; and the King cannot be considered to be in a sound state of mind.
(Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.
1. Extracts, pars. 9 to 14 of Lord Hardinge's Memorial. 2. Statement of British troops in Oude in Jan. 1835 and 1849. 3. Table of the King of Oude's troops of all kinds.
Lucknow, 6th September, 1849.
I take the liberty to enclose, for your Lordship's perusal, a more full and correct Table of the troops and police in Oude than that which I submitted with my last letter, as also a Table of all the other branches of expenditure—save those of buildings, charities, presents, &c., which are ever varying.
It may be estimated that two-thirds of the numbers in the corps of Telungas and Nujeebs paid for are kept up; and that one-half of what are kept up are efficient, all having to purchase their places, and those most unfit being disposed to pay highest.
Further: one-half of what are kept up are supposed to be always absent; and when they are so, they receive one-half of their pay, and the other half is divided between the commandant and the paymaster. These two are supposed to take, on one pretence or other, one third of the pay of those who are actually present. The corps of Telungas commanded by Captains Barlow, Bunbury, and Magness are exceptions; but the pay department is not under their control, and they are obliged to acquiesce in abuses that impair the efficiency their corps.
After reducing one-third-of these corps, and rendering the remaining two-thirds efficient, the force would be sufficient for all purposes, and we may well dispense with the corps of regular infantry which in my last letter I proposed to restore to Oude. It will, however, be desirable to have a good and experienced infantry officer as inspector, to see that the measures adopted for reform are effectually carried out. An artillery officer as inspector will also be desirable, as it will be necessary to have that branch of the force in the best possible order, when Oude has to depend chiefly on its own resources. A few European officers, too, for commandants of corps and seconds in command will be desirable—such as have been employed with native corps as sergeant-majors or quartermaster- sergeants, and have obtained distinctions for good conduct.
I should propose six primary stations as seats for the principal Revenue and Judicial Courts, and the headquarters of the best corps with cavalry and artillery; thirty second and third rate stations for the subordinate Courts and detachments of troops and police. All to be chosen, with reference to position in districts under jurisdiction, and to salubrity of climate. At all these Stations suitable buildings would be provided; and as all would be commenced upon simultaneously, all would soon be ready.
Your Lordship will observe the small item put down for the judicial establishments all over Oude. Such as are really kept up are worthless, and are altogether without the confidence of the people. The savings in the other branches of the expenditure will more than cover all the outlay required for good ones.
The King continues to show the same aversion to hear anything about public affairs, or to converse with any but the singers, eunuchs, and females. At the great festival of the Eed, on the first appearance of the present moon, he went out in procession, but deputed his heir- apparent to receive the compliments in Durbar. He does not suffer bodily pain, but is said to have long fits of moping and melancholy, and he is manifestly hypochondriac. He squanders the state jewels among the singers and eunuchs, who send them out of the country as fast as they can. The members of his family who have its interests most at heart, are becoming anxious for some change; and by the time the two years expire, it will not, perhaps, be difficult to induce him to put his affairs into other hands. He would change his minister on the slightest hint from me; but it would be of no use: the successor, pretending to carry on the Government under the King's orders, would be little better than the present minister is, and things would continue to be just as bad as they now are: they certainly could not be worse.
The Board, composed of the first members of the Lucknow aristocracy, would be, I think, both popular and efficient; and with the aid of a few of the ablest of the native judicial and revenue officers of our own districts, invited to Oude by the prospect of higher pay and security in the tenure of office, would soon have at work a machinery capable of securing to all their rights, and enforcing from all their duties in every part of this, at present, distracted country. We should soon have good roads throughout the kingdom; and both they and the rivers would soon be as secure as in our own provinces. I think, too, that I might venture to promise that all would be effected without violence or disturbance; all would see that everything was done for the benefit of an oppressed people, and in good faith towards the reigning family.
With great respect, I remain your Lordship's obedient, humble servant.
(Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.
To the Most Noble the Marquis of Dalhousie, K.T., &c. &c. &c.
P.S.—I may mention that the King is now engaged in turning into verse a long prose history called Hydree. About ten days ago all the poets in Lucknow were assembled at the palace to hear his Majesty read his poem. They sat with him, listening to his poem and reading their own from nine at night till three in the morning. One of the poets, the eldest son of a late minister, Mohamid-od Dowla, Aga Meer, told me that the versification was exceedingly good for a King. These are, I think, the only men, save the minister, the eunuchs, and the singers who have had the honour of conversing with his Majesty since I came here in January last. W. H. S.
Lucknow, 23rd September, 1849.
My Dear Elliot,
I conclude that no further Tables will be required from me on Oude statistics for the present. Should they be so, pray let me know, and they shall be sent. I thought at first that it would be thought bad taste in me to refer to the domestic troubles of the King, but it is necessary to show the state to which his Majesty is reduced in his palace. The facts mentioned are known and talked of all over Lucknow and Oude generally, and tend more than greater things to bring his conduct and character into contempt.
The time was certainly never so favourable to propose an arrangement that shall secure a lasting and substantial reform, and render Oude what it ought to be—a garden. The King is in constant dread of poison, and would do anything to get relieved from that dread, and all further importunity on the state of the country. His chief wife would poison him to bring on the throne her son, and restore to her her paramour, who is now at Cawnpoor, waiting for such a change. Her uncle, the minister, would, the King thinks, be glad to see him poisoned, in the hope of having to conduct affairs during the minority. He is afraid to admonish his other wife for her infidelities with the chief favourite and singer, lest she should poison him to go off with her paramour to Rampoor, whither he has sent the immense wealth that the King has lavished upon him.
The whole family are most anxious that the King should resign the reins into abler hands, and would, I feel assured, hail the arrangement I have proposed as a blessing to them and the country. All seems ripe for the change, and I hope the Governor-General will consent to its being proposed soon. Any change in the ministry would now be an obstacle to the arrangement, and such a change might happen any morning. At the head of the Board, or Regency, I should put Mohsin-od Dowla, grandson of Ghazee-od Deen, the first King, and son- in-law of Moohummed Alee Shah, the third King. His only son has been lately united in marriage to the King's daughter. He is looked up to as the first man in Oude for character, and the most able member of the royal family. He is forty-five years of age. I should probably put two of the King's uncles in as the other members, Azeemoshan and Mirza Khorum Buksh, whose names you will find in the short appended list of those who have received no stipends since the present King ascended the throne. These princes cannot visit, the Resident except when they accompany the King himself, so that I have never seen the two last that I recollect, and only once conversed with the first. But their characters stand very high. They are never admitted to the King, nor have they seen him for more than a year, I believe.
The King will probably object to members of his family forming the Board, but I dare say I shall be able to persuade him of the advantage of it. Such a Board, so constituted, would be a pledge to all India of the honesty of our intentions, and secure to us the cordial good-will of all who are interested in the welfare of the family and the good government of the country.
I should persuade the members to draw from the elite of their own creed in our service to aid in forming and carrying out the new system in their several departments. We can give them excellent men in the revenue and judicial branches, who will be glad to come when assured that they will not be removed so long as they do their duty ably and honestly, and will get pensions if their services are dispensed with after a time. This is all I shall say at present.
Yours sincerely, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.
To Sir H. M. Elliot, K.C.B., &c. &c.
My Official Report went off on the 25th instant, and will have been submitted, for your Lordship's consideration. It contains, I believe, a faithful description of the abuses that exist and require remedy, and of the obstacles which will be opposed to their removal. But it does not tell all that might be told of the King himself, who has become an object of odium and contempt to all but those few despicable persons with whom he associates exclusively. He eats, drinks, sleeps, and converses with the singers and eunuchs and females alone, and the only female who has any influence over him is the sister of the chief singer, Rusee-od Dowlah, whom he calls his own sister. No member of the royal family or aristocracy of Oude is ever admitted to speak to or see his Majesty, and these contemptible singers are admitted to more equality and familiarity than his own brothers or sons ever were; they go out, too, with greater pomp than they or any of the royal family can; and are ordered to be received with more honours as they pass through the different palaces. The profligacy that exists within the palace passes all belief, and these things excite more disgust among the aristocracy of the capital than all the misrule and malversation that arise from the King's apathy and incapacity.
Should your Lordship resolve upon interposing effectually to remedy these disorders, I think it will be necessary to have at Lucknow, for at least the first few months, a corps of irregular cavalry. We have no cavalry in Oude, and none of the King's can be depended upon. The first thing necessary will be the disbanding of the African, or Hubshee corps, of three hundred men. They are commanded by one of the eunuchs, and a fellow fit for any dark purpose. They were formed into a corps, I believe, because no man's life was safe in Lucknow while they were loose upon society.
I think the King will consent without much difficulty or reluctance to delegate his powers to a Regency, but I am somewhat afraid that he will object to its being composed of members of his own family. The Sovereign has always been opposed to employing any of his own relatives in office. I shall, I dare say, be able to get over this difficulty, and it will be desirable to employ the best members of the family in order to show the people of Oude, and of India generally, that the object of our Government is an honest and benevolent one.
A corps of irregular cavalry might be sent to Lucknow from Goruckpoor, and its place there supplied for a season by a wing from the corps at Legolee. There is little occasion for the services of cavalry at either of these places at present. Without any cavalry of our own here, and with this corps of African assassins at Lucknow at the beck of the singers, eunuchs, and their creature, the minister, neither the Resident nor any of the Regency would be safe. The treasury and crown jewels would be open to any one who would make away with them. If, therefore, your Lordship should determine upon offering the king the alternative proposed, no time should be lost in ordering the irregular corps from Goruckpoor to Lucknow, to be held at the Resident's disposal. Its presence will be required only for a few months.
I have mentioned, in my private letter to Sir H. M. Elliot, three persons of high character for the Regency. Two of them are brothers of the King's father. The third, and best, may be considered as in all respects the first man in Oude. Mohsin-od Dowlah is the grandson of the King, Ghasee-od Deen; his wife, and the mother of his only son, is the sister of the King's father, and his only son has been lately united in marriage to the present King's daughter. He and his wife have large hereditary incomes, under the guarantee of our Government, and his character for good sense, prudence, and integrity stands higher, I believe, than that of any other man in Oude.
All three belong to the number of the royal family who never visit the Resident except in company with the King, and I have, in consequence, never spoken to Mohsin-od Dowlah but once, and never seen either of the other two whom I have named, Azeemoshan and Khorum Bukeh, the King's uncles. The characters of all three are very high, and in general esteem.
Things are coming to a very critical state. There is no money to pay any one in the treasury, and the greater part of what comes in is taken for private purposes, by those who are in power. All see that there must soon be a great change, and are anxious "to make hay while the sun shines." The troops are everywhere in a state bordering on mutiny, but more particularly in and about the capital, because they cannot indemnify themselves by the plunder of the people as those in the distant districts do.
Fortunately the rains have this season been very favourable for tillage, and the crops may be good if we can preserve them by, some timely arrangement.
With great respect I remain, Your Lordship's obedient, humble servant,
(Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.
To the Most Noble the Marquis of Dalhousie.
P.S.—I find that the irregular corps of cavalry has been moved from Goruckpoor to Sultanpoor Benares, and that Lagolee and Goruckpoor have now only one corps between them.
The Sultanpoor Benares corps might well spare a wing for Lucknow, and so might the corps at Bareilly spare one.
(Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.
Lucknow, 11th October, 1849.
My Dear Elliot,
Here is a little item of palace news, communicated by one of the poets who has to assist his Majesty in selecting his verses, and who knows a good deal about what is going on among the favourites. Perhaps you may recollect him, Ameen-od Doulah, the eldest son of the late Aga Meer.
There is not a greater knave than Walee Alee in India, I believe. That his Majesty will consent to what the Governor-General may authorise us to propose I have no doubt, for he and his family are by this time satisfied that we shall propose nothing but what is good for them and the people of Oude.
But the King is no longer in a sound state of mind, and will say and do whatever the most plausible of the bad speakers may recommend. When I see him, I must have his signature before respectable witnesses to all his answers to distinct propositions, and act upon them at once, as far as I may be authorised by the Governor-General, or nothing will be done. It would not do for me to commune with him about affairs till I get instructions from you, as he would be sure to tell the singers, eunuchs, and minister all that has been said the moment I left him.
He has never been a cruel or badly-disposed man, but his mind, naturally weak, has entirely given way, and is now as helpless as that of an infant. Every hour's delay will add to our difficulties, and I wait most anxiously for orders. I am prepared with the new arrangements, and feel sure that the system will work well, and have the Governor-General's approval. I can explain it in a few words, and show the details in a small Table all ready for transmission when called for.
We shall have the royal family, the court, and people with us, with the exception of the minister and the favourites, who are in league with him, and those who share in the fruits of their corruption. Fifteen lacs are spoken of as the means ready to get either me out of the way or put a stop to all attempts of improvement for the present. I have in my public letter mentioned seven lacs as the average annual perquisites of the minister—they are at present at least twelve.
Yours sincerely, (Signed) W. H. SLEEMAN.
To Sir H. M. Elliot, K.C.B., &c. &c.
[Transcriber's Note: Map of the Kingdom of Oude - Drawn under the superintendence of the Late Major General Sir Wm. Sleeman. Approximate area covered 79 deg. to 84 deg. E by 25 deg. to 28.5 deg. N.; scale approximately 38 miles to the inch. Map shows the route taken by the author on his journey, as noted in his diary.]
DIARY of A JOURNEY THROUGH OUDE
Departure from Lucknow—Gholam Hazrut—Attack on the late Prime Minister, Ameen-od-Dowla—A similar attack on the sons of a former Prime Minister, Agar Meer—Gunga Sing and Kulunder Buksh—Gorbuksh Sing, of Bhitolee—Gonda Bahraetch district—Rughbur Sing—Prethee Put, of Paska—King of Oude and King of the Fairies—Surafraz mahal.
December 1, 1849.—I left Lucknow to proceed on a tour through Oude, to see the state of the country and the condition of the people. My wish to do so I communicated to Government, on the 29th of March last, and its sanction was conveyed to me, in a letter from the Secretary, dated the 7th of April. On the 16th of November I reported to Government my intention to proceed, under this sanction, on the 1st of December, and on the 19th I sent the same intimation to the King. On the 28th, as soon as the ceremonies of the Mohurrum terminated, His Majesty expressed a wish to see me on the following day; and on the 29th I went at 9 A.M., accompanied by Captain Bird, the first Assistant, and Lieutenant Weston, the Superintendant of the Frontier Police, and took leave of the King, with mutual expression of good-will. The minister, Alee Nakee Khan, was present. On the 30th I made over charge of the Treasury to Captain Bird, who has the charge of the department of the Sipahees' Petitions and the Fyzabad Guaranteed Pensions; and, taking with me all the office establishments not required in these three departments, proceeded, under the usual salute, to Chenahut, eight miles.*
[* My escort consisted, of two companies of sipahees, from the 10th Regiment Native Infantry, and my party of Captain Hardwick, lieutenant Weston, and Lieutenant and Mrs. Willows and my wife and children, with occasional visitors from Lucknow and elsewhere.]
The Minister, Dewan and Deputy Minister, Ghoolam Ruza, came out the first stage with me, and our friend Moonuwur-od Dowla, drove out to see us in the evening.
December 2, 1849.—We proceeded to Nawabgunge, the minister riding out with me, for some miles, to take leave, as I sat in my tonjohn. At sunrise I ventured, for the first time since I broke my left thigh-bone on the 4th April, to mount an elephant, the better to see the country. The land, on both sides of the road, well cultivated, and studded with groves of mango and other trees, and very fertile.
The two purgunnas of Nawabgunge and Sidhore are under the charge of Aga Ahmud, the Amil, who has under him two naibs or deputies, Ghoolam Abbas and Mahummud Ameer. All three are obliged to connive at the iniquities of a Landholder, Ghoolam Huzrut, who resides on his small estate of Jhareeapoora, which he is augmenting, in a manner too common in Oude, by seizing on the estates of his weaker neighbours. He wanted to increase the number of his followers, and on the 10th of November 1849, he sent some men to aid the prisoners in the great jail at Lucknow to break out. Five of them were killed in the attempt, seven were wounded, and twenty-five were retaken, but forty- five escaped, and among them Fuzl Allee, one of the four assassins, who, in April 1847, cut down the late minister, Ameen-od Dowla, in the midst of his followers, in one of the principal streets of Lucknow, through which the road, leading from the city to Cawnpore, now passes. One of the four, Tuffuzzul Hoseyn, was killed in attempting to escape on the 8th August 1849, and one, Alee Mahomed, was killed in this last attempt. The third, Fuzl Allee, with some of the most atrocious and desperate of his companions, is now with this Ghoolam Huzrut, disturbing the peace of the country. The leader in this attempt was Ghoolam Hyder Khan, who is still in jail at Lucknow.
On my remarking to the King's wakeel that these ruffians had all high-sounding names, he said, "They are really all men of high lineage; and men of that class, who become ruffians, are always sure to be of the worst description." "As horses of the best blood, when they do become vicious, are the most incorrigible, I suppose?" "Nothing can be more true, sir," rejoined the wakeel. An account of the attack made by the above-named ruffians on the minister, may be here given as both interesting and instructive, or at least as illustrative of the state of society and government in Oude.
At five in the morning of the 8th of April 1847, the minister, Ameen- od Dowlah, left his house in a buggy to visit the King. Of his armed attendants he had only three or four with him. He had not gone far when four armed assassins placed themselves in front of his buggy and ordered him to stop. One of them, Tuffuzzul Hoseyn, seized the horse; by the bridle, and told the minister, that he must give him the arrears of pay due before he could go on. The other three, Fuzl Allee, Allee Mahomed, and Hyder Khan, came up and stood on the right side of the buggy. One of the minister's servants, named Hollas, tried to prevent their coming near, but was fired upon by Allee Mahomed. He missed him, but Fuzl Allee discharged his blunderbuss at him, and he fell; but in falling, he wounded Hyder Khan slightly with his sword. Hyder Khan then threw away his fire-arms and sprang into the buggy with his naked dagger in his right hand and the minister in his left. The minister seized him round the waist, forced him back out of the buggy on the left, and fell upon him. Tuffuzzul Hoseyn then quitted his hold of the horse and rushed to his comrade's assistance, but the minister still holding Hyder Khan in his right hand, seized Tuffuzzul Hoseyn with his left. Syud Aman Allee, another personal servant of the minister, was cut down by Fuzl Allee, in attempting to aid his master, and a third personal servant, Shah Meer, was severely wounded by Allee Mahomed, and stood at a distance of twenty paces, calling for help. Fuzl Allee now made two cuts with his sword on the right shoulder and arm of the minister, below the elbow, and he quitted his hold on the two assassins and fell. The four assassins now grasped their victim, and told him that they would do him no farther harm if no rescue were attempted. As they saw the rest of the minister's armed attendants and a crowd approach, Fuzl Allee and Hyder Khan, with their blunderbusses loaded and cocked, stood one at each end of an open space of about sixty yards, and threatened to shoot the first man who should venture to approach nearer. The crowd and attendants of the minister were kept back, and no one ventured to enter this space, in the centre of which the minister lay, grasped by Tuffuzzul Hoseyn and Allee Mahomed, who held their naked daggers at his breast. The minister called out to his attendants and the crowd to keep back. He was then allowed to rise and walk to a small raised terrace on the side of the street, where he lay down on his back, being unable any longer to sit or stand from the loss of blood. Tuffuzzul Hoseyn and Allee Mahomed knelt over him, holding the points of their daggers at his breast, and swearing that they would plunge them to his heart if he attempted to move, or any one presumed to enter the open space to rescue him. Hollas and Syud Aman Allee lay bleeding at the spot where they fell. Hollas died that day, and Syud Aman Allee a few days after, of lock-jaw.
As soon as the attack on the minister was made, information of it was sent off to the Resident, Colonel Richmond, who wrote to request the Brigadier Commanding the Troops in Oude, to send him, as soon as possible, a regiment of infantry with two guns, from the Cantonments, which are three miles and a-half distant from the Residency, on the opposite side from the scene of the attack, to prevent any tumult that the loose characters of the city might attempt to raise on the occasion, and repaired himself to the spot attended by the Assistant, Captain Bird, and a small guard of sipahees. They reached the open spot, in the centre of which the minister lay, about a quarter of an hour after he fell. He found the street, in which the attack took place, crowded with people up to the place where the two sentries, Fuzl Allee and Hyder Khan, stood at each end of the open space, in the centre of which the minister lay, with the daggers of the two other assassins pressing upon his breast. On reaching one end of the open space, the Resident directed Captain Bird to advance to the spot where the minister lay. The assassin who guarded that end at first threatened to shoot him, but no sooner recognized him than he let him pass on unattended. He asked the two men, who knelt over the minister, what they meant by this assault. They told him, that good men were no longer employed in the King's service, and that they were, in consequence, without the means of subsistence; and had been compelled to resort to this mode of obtaining them; that they required fifty thousand rupees from the minister, with a written assurance from the British Resident, that they should be escorted in safety across the Ganges into the British territory with this sum.
The Resident peremptorily refused to enter into any written agreement with them, and told them, through the Assistant, that if they presumed to put the minister to death, or to offer him any further violence, they should be all four immediately shot down and cut to pieces; but, if they did him no further harm, their lives should, be spared; and, to prevent their being killed as soon as they quitted their hold, that he would take them all with him to the Residency, and neither imprison them himself, nor have them made over as prisoners to the Oude Government; but that he declined being a party to any arrangement that the minister might wish to make of paying money for his life.
They continued resolutely to threaten instant death to the minister should any one but the Resident or his Assistant presume to enter the open space in which he lay. Many thousands of reckless and desperate characters filled the street, ready to commence a tumult, for the plunder of the city, the moment that the minister or the assassins should be killed, while the relations and dependents of the minister, with loud cries, offered lacs of rupees to the assassins if they spared his life, so as to encourage them to hold out. They at last collected and brought to the spot, on three or four elephants, the fifty thousand rupees demanded by the assassins, and offered them to his assailants apparently with his concurrence; and the four ruffians, having assented to the terms offered by the Resident, permitted Doctor Login, the Residency Surgeon, to approach the prostrate minister and dress his wounds. One of the assassins, however, continued to kneel by his side with his naked dagger resting on his breast till he saw the other three seated upon the elephants, on which the money was placed, with the understanding, that the guard of sipahees, which the Resident had brought with him, should escort them to the Residency, and that Captain Bird, the Assistant, should accompany them. The fourth man then quitted his hold on the minister, who had become very faint, and climbed upon Captain Bird's elephant and took seat behind him. Captain Bird, however, made him get off, and mount another elephant with his companions. The crowd shouted shah bash, shah bash!—well done, well done! and they attempted to scatter some of the money from the elephants among them, but were prevented by Captain Bird, who dreaded the consequences in such a tumult. They were all four taken to the Residency under the guard of sipahees, and accommodated in one of the lower rooms of the office; and a guard was placed over the money with orders to keep back the crowd of spectators, which was very great. Three of the four ruffians had been wounded by the minister's attendants before they could secure his person, and their wounds were now dressed by Doctor Login.
It was now ten o'clock, and at twelve the Resident had an interview with the King, who had become much alarmed, not only for the safety of the minister, but for that of the city, threatened by the thousands of bad characters, anxious for an occasion of pillage; and he expressed an anxious wish that the assassins should be made over to him for trial. But the Resident pleaded the solemn promise which he had made, and his Majesty admitted the necessity of the promise under the circumstances, and that of keeping it; but said that he would have the whole affair carefully investigated. As soon as the Resident left him, he sent a company of sipahees with fetters to the Residency to receive charge of the prisoners, but the Resident would not give them up. The King then wrote a letter to the Resident with his own hand, requesting that the prisoners might be surrendered to him. The Resident, in his reply to His Majesty's, letter, told him, that he could not so far violate the promise he had given, but that he would send them to answer any other charges that might be brought against them, in any open and impartial Court that might be appointed to try them; and if they should be found guilty of other crimes, His Majesty might order any sentence passed upon them, short of death, to be carried into execution.
Charges of many successful attempts of the same kind, and many atrocious murders perpetrated by the ruffians, in distant districts of Oude, were preferred against them; and they were prevailed upon to give up their arms, and to submit to a fair and open trial, on the other charges preferred against them, on condition that they should neither be put to death nor in any way maimed, or put in fetters, or subjected to ill-treatment before trial and conviction. The Resident offered them the alternative of doing this or leaving the Residency, after he had read to them the King's letter, and told them, that his promise extended only to saving their lives and escorting them to the Residency; and, that he would not be answerable for their lives beyond the court-yard of the Residency, if they refused the conditions now offered. They knew that their lives would not be safe for a moment after they got beyond the court-yard, and submitted. Their arms and the fifty thousand rupees were sent to the King. At four in the afternoon, the four prisoners were made over to the King's wakeel, on a solemn promise given under the express sanction of his Majesty, of safe conduct through the streets, of freedom from fetters, or any kind of ill-treatment before conviction, and of fair and open trial.
But they had not gone two paces from the Residency court-yard, when they were set upon by the very people sent by the King to take care of them on the way; the King's wakeel having got into his palkee and gone on before them towards the palace. They were beaten with whips, sticks, and the hilts of swords, till one of the four fell down insensible, and the other three were reduced to a pitiable condition. The Resident took measures to protect them from further violence, recalled the wakeel; and, after admonishing him for his dishonourable conduct, had the prisoners taken unfettered to a convenient house near the prison. The wounded minister wrote to the King, earnestly praying that the prisoners might not suffer any kind of ill-treatment before conviction, after a fair and impartial trial. The Resident reported to Government all that had occurred, and stated, that he should see that the promises made to the prisoners were fulfilled, that, should they be convicted before the Court appointed to conduct the trial, of other crimes perpetrated before this assault on the minister, they would be subject to such punishment as the Mahommedan law prescribed for such crimes. Three of them, Tuffuzzul Hoseyn, Hyder Khan, and Fuzl Allee, were convicted, on their own confessions, and the testimony of their own relations, of many cold blooded murders, and successful attempts to extort money from respectable and wealthy persons in different parts of Oude, similar to this on the minister, and all four were sentenced to imprisonment for life. The Government of India had insisted on their not being executed or mutilated. Fuzl Allee, as above stated, broke jail, and is still at large at his old trade, and Hyder Khan is still in prison at Lucknow.
These ruffians appear to have been encouraged, in this assault upon the minister, for the purpose of extorting money, by a similar but more successful attempt made in the year 1824, by a party headed by a person named Syud Mahomed Eesa Meean, alias Eesa Meean.
This person came to Lucknow with a letter of recommendation from Captain Gough. He delivered it in person to the Resident, but was never after seen or heard of by him till this affair occurred. He became a kind of saint, or apostle, at Lucknow; and Fakeer Mahomed Khan Rusaldar, who commanded a corps of Cavalry, and had much influence over the minister, Aga Meer, became one of his disciples, and prevailed upon the minister to entertain him as a mosahib, or aide-de-camp. He soon became a favourite with Aga Meer, and formed a liaison with a dancing-girl, named Beeba Jan. His conduct towards her soon became too violent and overbearing, and she sought shelter with the Khasmahal, or chief consort, of the minister, who promised her protection, and detained her in her apartments. Eesa Meean appealed to the minister, and demanded her surrender. The minister told him that she was mistress of her own actions, as she had never gone through the ceremonies of permanent marriage, or nikkah, nor even those of a temporary one, motah; and most be considered as altogether free to choose her own lovers or mode of life.
He then appealed to Moulavee Karamut Allee, the tutor of Aga Meer's children, but was told, that he could not interfere, as the female was a mere acquaintance of his, and bound to him by no legal ties whatever; and must, therefore, be considered as free to reside where and with whom she chose. Eesa Meean then took his resolution, and prevailed upon some fifteen of the loose and desperate characters who always swarm at Lucknow, to aid him in carrying it out. On the 2nd of June 1824, Karamut Allee, the tutor, was bathing, and Aga Meer's two eldest sons, Aga Allee, aged eleven, and Nizam-od Dowlah, aged six years were reading their lessons in the school-room, under the deputy-tutor, Moulavee Ameen Allee. It was early in the morning, but the minister had gone out to wait upon the King. Eesa Meean entered the school-room, and approached the children with the usual courtesy and compliments, followed by six armed men, and one table attendant, or khidmutgar.
The two boys were sitting beside each other, the eldest, Aga Allee, on the left, and the youngest, Nizam-od Dowla, on the right. Eesa Meean sat down on the left side of the eldest, and congratulated both on the rapid progress they were making in their studies. Three of his followers, while he was doing this, placed themselves on the left of the eldest, and the other three on the right of the youngest. On a concerted signal all drew forth and cocked their pistols, and placed themselves at the only three doors that opened from the school-room, two at each, while at a signal made by the khidmutgar, eight more men came in armed in the same manner. Two of them with naked daggers in their right hands seized the two boys with their left, and threatened them with instant death if they attempted to more or call for help. The other six threatened to kill any one who should attempt to force his way into the apartment. The khidmutgar, in the mean time, seized and brought into the room two large gharahs or pitchers of drinking water, that stood outside, as the weather was very hot, and the party would require it They were afraid that poison might be put into the water if left outside after they had commenced the assault. Eesa Meean then declared, that he had been driven to this violent act by the detention of his girl by the Khasmahal, and must have her instantly surrendered, or they would put the boys to death. Hearing the noise from his bathing-room, their tutor, Karamut Allee, rushed into the room with nothing on his person but his waist-band, and began to admonish the ruffians. Seeing him unarmed, and respecting his peaceful character, they let him pass in and vociferate, but paid no regard to what he said.
The alarm had spread through the house and town, and many of the chief officers of the Court were permitted to enter the room unarmed. Roshun-od Dowlah, Sobhan Allee Khan, Fakeer Mahomed Khan, Nuzee Allee Khan, (the Khasmahul's son-in-law,) and others of equal rank, all in loud terms admonished the assailants, and demanded the surrender of the children, but all were alike unheeded. The chief merchant of Lucknow, Sa Gobind Lal, came in; and thinking that all affairs could and ought to be settled in a business-like way, told the chief officers to fix the sum to be given, and he would at once pledge himself to the payment. All agreed to this, and Sobhan Allee Khan, the Chief Secretary of the minister, set to work and drew up a long and eloquent paper of conditions. On his beginning to read it, one of the ruffians, who had one eye, rushed in, snatched it from his hand, tore it to pieces, and threw the fragments into his chief's, Eesa Meean's, face, saying, "that this fellow would write them all out of their lives, as he was writing the people of Oude every day out of their properties; that if they must die, it should not be by pen and paper, but by swords and daggers in a fair fight; that all their lives had been staked, and all should die or live together." He was overpowered by the others, and other papers were drawn up by the ready writer and consummate knave Sobhan Allee, but the one-eyed man contrived to get hold of all, one after the other, and tear them up.
The minister was with the King when he first heard of the affair, and he went off forthwith to the Resident, Mr. Ricketts, to say, that his Majesty had in vain endeavoured to rescue the boys through his principal civil officers, and had sent all his available troops, but in vain; and now earnestly entreated the British Resident to interpose and save their lives. The Resident consented to do so, on condition that any arrangement he might find it necessary to make should be binding on his Majesty and the minister. Aga Meer returned to the King with this message, and his Majesty agreed to this condition. The Resident then sent his head moonshie, Gholam Hossein, to promise Eesa Meean, that the woman should be restored to him, and any grievance he might have to complain of should be redressed, and his party all saved, if he gave up the children. But he and his followers now demanded a large sum of money, and declared, that they would murder the boys unless it was given and secured to them, with a pledge for personal security to the whole party.
The minister, on hearing this, came to the Resident, and implored him to adopt some measures to save the lives of the children. The Resident had been for three weeks confined to his couch from illness, but he sent his Assistant, Captain Lockett, with full powers to make any arrangement, and pledge himself to any engagements, which might appear to him to be necessary, to save the lives of the boys. He went, and being unarmed, was permitted to enter the room. He asked for Eesa Meean, whom he had never before seen, when one of the party that knelt over the boys rose, and saluting him, said, "I am Eesa Meean." Captain Lockett told him that he wanted to speak to him in private, when Eesa Meean pointed to a door leading into a side room, into which they retired. Eesa Meean offered Captain Lockett a chair, and at his request sat down by his side. He then entered into a long story of grievances, which Captain Lockett considered to be frivolous, and said, "that the minister had injured his prospects in many ways, and at last disgraced him in the eyes of all people at Lucknow, by conniving at the elopement of the dancing-girl that he was a soldier and regardless of life under such disgrace, and prepared to abide by the result of his present attempt to secure redress, whatever it might be; that his terms were the payment down of five lacs of rupees, the restoration of his dancing-girl, and the security of his own person and property, with permission to go where he pleased, unmolested." Captain Lockett reminded him quietly of what he had just said: "that he was a soldier, and anxious only for the recovery of his lost honour; that now, to demand, money, was to show to the world that wounded honour was urged as a mere pretext, and the seizure of the boys a means adopted for the sole purpose of extorting money; that he could not condescend to hold further converse with him if he persisted in such preposterous demands; that he might murder the children as they seemed to be in his power, but if he did so, he and his party would be all instantly put to death, as the house was surrounded by thousands of the King's soldiers, ready to fall upon them at the slightest signal." He then recommended him to release the boys forthwith before the excitement without became more strong, and accompany him to the Residency, where his real Wrongs would be inquired into and redressed.
Eesa Meean then rose and said: "Money is not my object. I despise it. I regard nothing but the preservation of my honour, and agree to what you propose; but I have several companions here who require to be consulted: let me speak to them." He then went into the large room. His companions all made objections of one kind or another, and what they all agreed to one moment was rejected the next. They vociferated loudly, and disputed violently with each other, and with all around them, and at times appeared desperate and determined to sacrifice the boys, and sell their own lives as dearly as possible. Eesa Meean himself seemed to be the most violent and boisterous of all, and had his hand frequently on the hilt of his sword when he disputed with the King's officers, whom he abused in the grossest possible terms. They did more harm than good by their want of temper and patience, but above all by their utter want of character, since no one could place the slightest reliance on the word of any one of them in such a trying moment. They seemed to have no control over their feelings, and to think that they could do all that was required by harsh language and loud bawling.
Captain Lockett at last persuaded them to leave the whole affair in his hands; and had they done so at first, he would have settled the matter, he thought, in half the time. They had been discussing matters in this angry manner for four hours and a half, without making the slightest impression on the ruffians; but when all became silent, Captain Lockett prevailed on them to release the boys on the conditions agreed to between him and Eesa Meean, and recorded on paper. In this paper it was declared—"That Syud Mahomed Eesa Khan, together with the woman, Beeba Jan, shall be allowed to go where he liked, with security to his life and honour, and with all the property and effects he might have, whether he got it from the King of Oude or from his minister; and that no one, either in the Honourable Company's or in the King of Oude's dominions, shall offer him any molestation; that no obstruction shall be thrown in his way by the officers of the British Government in the countries of any of the Rajahs at whose courts there may be a British Resident; and further, that no molestation shall be offered to him in the British territories in consequence of the disturbance which took place at Bareilly in 1816.
"(Signed) A. LOCKETT, Assistant Resident."
After this paper had been signed by Captain Lockett, the two boys were set at liberty, and sent off in palanqeens to their mother under a guard. The minister had, in the morning, promised to give the assailants twenty thousand rupees, and they arrived before the discussions closed, and were placed on the floor of the school-room. The girl, Beeba Jan, was now brought into the room, and made over to Eesa Meean. When first brought before him, she thought she was to be sacrificed to save the lives of the boys, and was in a state of great agitation. She implored Captain Lockett to save her life; but, to the great surprise of all present, Eesa Meean took up one of the bags of money, containing one thousand rupees, and, with a smile, put it into her arms, and told her that she was now at liberty to return to her home or go where she pleased. The joy expressed by the girl and by all who witnessed this scene was very great; for they had all considered him to be a mere ruffian, incapable of anything like a generous action.
It had been arranged that Eesa Meean, with all his party, should go with Captain Lockett to the Residency; but when the time came, and the excitement had passed away in the apartment, he began to be alarmed, and told Captain Lockett that he felt sure he should be murdered on the road. He wanted to go with Captain Lockett on the same elephant, but to this Captain Lockett would not consent, as it would compromise his dignity, to sit on the same elephant with so atrocious a character. There was no palanqeen available for him, and he would not allow Captain Lockett to enter his, declaring that if he did so, he, Eesa Meean, would be instantly cut down by the King's people. Captain Lockett was, therefore, obliged to walk with him from the minister's house at Dowlut Poora to the Residency, a distance of a mile, in the heat of the day, and the hottest month in the year, followed by the King's troops, and an immense multitude from the city. About four o'clock Captain Lockett reached the Residency, and made over Eesa Meean and his sixteen followers to the Resident, who ratified the written engagement, and sent the party to the cantonments, three miles distant from the city, to Brigadier-General Price, who commanded the troops in Oude, to be taken care of for a few days till arrangements could be made for their safe conduct to Cawnpore, within the British territory. Their arms were taken from them, to be sent to the magistrate at Cawnpore, for delivery to them when they might be released. On the morning of the 3rd the King came to the Resident to thank him for what he had done, and express the sense he entertained of the judicious conduct of his Assistant during the whole of this trying scene; and to request that he might be permitted to go to the palace to receive some mark of distinction which his Majesty wished to confer upon him. Captain Lockett went with the minister, and was received with marked distinction; and thirteen trays of shawls and other articles were presented to him. Captain Lockett selected one pair, which he accepted, and placed, as usual, in the Resident's Toshuk-khana.
When he signed the paper he remarked the omission of all mention of Eesa Meean's associates in that document, but did not consider it to be his duty to point out the oversight, lest it might increase the excitement, and prolong the angry discussions. In his report of the circumstances to the Resident, however, he mentioned it to him, and told him that the omission clearly arose from an oversight, and unless his associates received the same indulgence as the principal, Eesa Meean himself, their exclusion from the benefits of the engagement might be attributed to decoit or artifice on his part. The Resident concurred in this opinion, and in his report of the following day to Government, he recommended that they should all be considered as included in the engagement.
Government, in its reply of the 25th of June 1824, consents to this construction of the written engagement, but notices a no less important oversight on the part of the Resident and his Assistant, in the free pardon given to Eesa Meean, for the share he had taken in the Bareilly insurrection, which had caused the loss of so many lives in April 1816. Government infers, that they could, neither of them have been aware, that this ruffian was the original instigator and most active leader in that formidable insurrection; that it was chiefly, if not entirely, owing to his endeavours to inflame the popular phrenzy, and to collect partizans from the neighbouring towns, that the efforts of the local authorities, to quell or avert the rising storm, failed wholly of success; that he stood charged as a principal in the murder of Mr. Leycester's son, and that, on these grounds, he was expressly excluded from the general amnesty, declared after the successful suppression of the rebellion, and a reward of two thousand rupees offered for his arrest; that this written pledge had involved Government in the dilemma of either cancelling a public act of the British Resident, or pardoning and setting at large, within its territory, a proclaimed outlaw, and notorious rebel and most dangerous incendiary; and that it felt bound in duty to guard the public peace from the hazard of further interruption, through the violence or intrigue of so desperate and atrocious an offender; and to annul that part of the engagement which absolves Eesa Meean from his guilt in the Bareilly insurrection, since the Resident and his Assistant went beyond their powers in pledging their Government to such a condition. Government directed, that he and his associates should be safely escorted over the border into the British territory, and that he should not be brought to trial before a Judicial Court, with a view to his being capitally punished for his crimes at Bareilly, but be confined, as a state prisoner, in the fortress of Allahabad. The Government, in strong but dignified terms, expresses its surprise and displeasure at his having been placed in so confidential a position, and permitted to bask in the sunshine of ministerial favour, when active search was being made for him all over India; for the King and his minister must have been both aware of the part he had taken in the Bareilly insurrection, since the King himself alludes to it in a letter submitted by the Resident to Government on the 8th of June 1824.
The Resident and his Assistant, in letters dated 15th of July, declare that they were altogether unacquainted with the part which Eesa Meean had taken in the Bareilly rebellion in 1816, the Resident being at that time at the Cape of Good Hope, and his Assistant in England. Eesa Meean was confined, as directed, in the fort of Allahabad; but soon afterwards released on the occasion of the Governor-General's visit to that place. He returned again to Lucknow in the year 1828, soon after Aga Meer had been removed from his office of minister. As soon as it was discovered that he was in the city, he was seized and sent across the Ganges; and is said to have been killed in Malwa or Goozerat, in a similar attempt upon some native chief or his minister.
The two boys are still living, the eldest, Aga Allee, or Ameen-od Dowla, at Lucknow, and Nizam-od Dowla, the youngest, at Cawnpore; both drawing large hereditary pensions, under the guarantee of the British Government. This is not the Ameen-od Dowla who was attacked in the streets, as above described, in the year 1847.
About two years ago this Ghoolam Huzrut took by violence possession of the small estate of Golha, now in the Sibhore purgunnah; and turned out the proprietor, Bhowannee Sing, a Rathore Rajpoot, whose ancestors had held it for several centuries. The poor man was re- established in it by the succeeding contractor, Girdhara Sing; but on his losing his contract, Ghoolam Huzret, on the 23rd of September last, again attacked Bhowanne Sing at midnight, at the head of a gang of ruffians; and after killing five of his relatives and servants, and burning down his houses, turned him and his family out, and secured possession of the village, which he still holds. The King's officers were too weak to protect the poor man, and have hitherto acquiesced in the usurpation of the village. Ghoolam Huzrut has removed all the autumn crops to his own village; and cut down and taken away sixty mango-trees planted by Bhowannee Sing's ancestors. Miherban Sing, the son of the sufferer, is a sipahee in the 63rd Regiment Native Infantry, and he presented a petition through the Resident in behalf of his father. Other petitions have been since presented, and the Court has been strongly urged to afford redress. Ghoolam Huzrut has two forts, to which he retires when pursued, one at Para, and one at Sarai, and a good many powerful landholders always ready to support him against the government, on condition of being supported by him when necessary.
On crossing the river Ghagra, I directed Captain Bunbury, (who commands a regiment in the King of Oude's service with six guns, and was to have accompanied me, and left the main body of his regiment with his guns under his second in command, Captain Hearsey, at Nawabgunge,) to surprise and capture Ghoolam Huzrut, if possible, by a sudden march. He had left his fort of Para, on my passing within a few miles of it, knowing that the minister had been with me, and thinking that he might have requested my aid for the purpose. Captain Bunbury joined his main body unperceived, made a forced march during the night, and reached the fort of Para at daybreak in the morning, without giving alarm to any one on the road. In this surprise he was aided by Khoda Buksh, of Dadra, a very respectable and excellent landholder, who had suffered from Ghoolam Huzrut's depredations.
He had returned to his fort with all his family on my passing, and it contained but few soldiers, with a vast number of women and children. He saw that it would be of no use to resist, and surrendered his fort and person to Captain Bunbury, who sent him a prisoner to Lucknow, under charge of two Companies, commanded by Captain Hearsey. He is under trial, but he has so many influential friends about the Court, with whom he has shared his plunder, that his ultimate punishment is doubtful. Captain Bunbury was praised for his skill and gallantry, and was honoured with a title by the king.
December 3, 1849.—Kinalee, ten miles over a plain, highly cultivated and well studded with groves, but we could see neither town, village, nor hamlet on the road. A poor Brahmin, Gunga Sing, came along the road with me, to seek redress for injuries sustained. His grandfather was in the service of our Government, and killed under Lord Lake, at the first siege of Bhurtpore in 1804. With the little he left, the family had set up as agricultural capitalists in the village of Poorwa Pundit, on the estate of Kulunder Buksh, of Bhitwal. Here they prospered. The estate was, as a matter of favour to Kulunder Buksh, transferred from the jurisdiction of the contractor to that of the Hozoor Tehseel.* Kulunder Buksh either could not, or would not, pay the Government demand; and he employed two of his relatives, Godree and Hoseyn Buksh, to plunder in the estate and the neighbourhood, to reduce Government to his own terms. These two persons, with two hundred armed men, attacked the village in the night; and, after plundering the house of this Brahmin, Gunga Sing, they seized his wife, who was then pregnant, and made her point out a hidden treasure of one hundred and seven gold mohurs, and two hundred and seventy-seven rupees. She had been wounded in several places before she did this, and when she could point out no more, one of the two brothers cut her down with his sword, and killed her. In all the Brahmin lost two thousand seven hundred and fifty-five rupees' worth of property; and, on the ground of his grandfather having been killed in the Honourable Company's service, has been ever since urging the Resident to interpose with the Oude government in his behalf.
[* The term "Hozoor Tehseel" signifies the collections of the revenue made by the governor himself whether of a district or a kingdom. The estates of all landholders who pay their land-revenues direct to the governor, or to the deputy employed under him to receive such revenues and manage such estates, are said to be in the "Hozoor Tehseel." The local authorities of the districts on which such estates are situated have nothing whatever to do with them.]
The estate of Bhitwal has been retransferred to the jurisdiction of the Amil of Byswara, who has restored it to Kulunder Buksh; and his two relatives, Godree and Hoseyn Buksh, are thriving on the booty acquired, and are in high favour with the local authorities. I have requested that measures may be adopted to punish them for the robbery and the cruel murder of the poor woman; but have little hope that they will be so. No government in India is now more weak for purposes of good than that of Oude.
This village of Kinalee is now in the estate of Ramnuggur Dhumeereea, held by Gorbuksh, a large landholder, who has a strong fort, Bhitolee, at the point of the Delta, formed by the Chouka and Ghagra rivers, which here unite. He has taken refuge with some four thousand armed followers in this fort, under the apprehension of being made to pay the full amount of the Government demand, and called to account for the rescue of some atrocious offenders from Captain Hearsey, of the Frontier Police, by whom they had been secured. Gorbuksh used to pay two hundred thousand rupees a-year for many years for this estate, without murmur or difficulty; but for the last three years he has not paid the rate, to which he has got it reduced, of one hundred and fifty thousand. Out of his rents and the revenues due to Government he keeps up a large body of armed followers, to intimidate the Government, and seize upon the estates of his weaker neighbours, many of which he has lately appropriated by fraud, violence, and collusion. An attempt was this year made to put the estate under the management of Government officers; but he was too strong for the Government, which was obliged to temporise, and at last to yield. He is said to exact from the landholders the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand rupees a-year. He holds also the estate of Bhitolee, at the apex of the delta of the Ghagra and Chouka rivers, in which the fort of Bhitolee is situated. The Government demand on this estate is fifty thousand (50,000) rupees a-year. His son, Surubjeet Sing, is engaged in plunder, and, it is said, with his father's connivance and encouragement, though he pretends to be acting in disobedience of his orders. The object is, to augment their estate, and intimidate the Government and its officers by gangs of ruffians, whom they can maintain only by plunder and malversation. The greater part of the lands, comprised in this estate of Ramnuggur Dhumeereea, of which Rajah Gorbuksh is now the local governor, are hereditary possessions which have been held by his family for many generations. A part has been recently seized from weaker neighbours, and added to them. The rest are merely under him as the governor or public officer, intrusted with the collection of the revenue and the management of the police.
December 4, 1849.—Gunesh Gunge, alias Byram-ghat, on the right bank of the river Ghagra, distance about twelve miles. The country well cultivated, and studded with good groves of mango and other trees. We passed through and close to several villages, whose houses are nothing but mud walls, without a thatched or tiled roof to one in twenty. The people say there is no security in them from the King's troops and the passies, a large class of men in Oude, who are village watchmen but inveterate thieves and robbers, when not employed as such. All refractory landholders hire a body of passies to fight for them, as they pay themselves out of the plunder, and cost little to their employers. They are all armed with bows and arrows, and are very formidable at night. They and their refractory employers keep the country in a perpetual state of disorder; and, though they do not prevent the cultivation of the land, they prevent the village and hamlets from being occupied by anybody who has anything to lose, and no strong local ties to restrain him.
The town of Ramnuggur, in which Gorbuksh resides occasionally, is on the road some five miles from the river. It has a good many houses, but all are of the same wretched description; mud walls, with invisible coverings or no coverings at all; no signs of domestic peace or happiness; but nothing can exceed the richness and variety of the crops in and around Ramnuggur. It is a fine garden, and would soon be beautiful, were life and property better secured, and some signs of domestic comfort created. The ruined state of the houses in this town and in the villages along the road, is, in part, owing to the system which requires all the King's troops to forage for themselves on the march, and the contractors, and other collectors of revenue, to be continually on the move, and to take all their troops with them. The troops required in the provinces should be cantoned in five or six places most convenient, with regard, to the districts to be controlled, and most healthy for the people; and provided with what they require, as ours are, and sent out to assist the revenue collectors and magistrates only when their services are indispensably necessary. Some Chundele Rajpoot landholders came to me yesterday to say, that Ghoolam Huzrut, with his bands of armed ruffians, seemed determined to seize upon all the estates of his weaker Hindoo neighbours, and they would soon lose theirs, unless the British Government interposed to protect them. Gorbuksh has not ventured to come, as he was ordered, to pay his respects to the Resident; but has shut himself up in his fort at Bhitolee, about six miles up the river from our camp. The Chouka is a small river which there flows into the Ghagra. He is said to have four or five thousand men with him; and several guns mounted in his fort. The ferry over the Ghagra is close to our tents, and called Byram-ghat.
December 5, 1849.—Crossed the river Ghagra, in boats, and encamped at Nawabgunge, on the left bank, where we were met by one of the collectors of the Gonda Bahraetch district. He complained of the difficulties experienced in realizing the just demands of the exchequer, from the number and power of the tallookdars of the district, who had forts and bands of armed followers, too strong for the King's officers. There were, he said, in the small purgunnah of Gouras—
1.—Pretheeput Sing, of Paska, who has a strong fort called Dhunolee, on the right bank of the Ghagra, opposite to Paska and Bumhoree, two strongholds, which he has on the left bank of that river, and he is always ready to resist the Government.
2.—Murtonjee Buksh, of Shahpoor, who is always ready to do the same; and a great ruffian.
3.—Shere Bahader Sing, of Kuneear.*
4.—Maheput Sing, of Dhunawa.*
5.—Surnam Sing, of Arta.*
6.—Maheput Sing, of Paruspoor.*
[* All four are at present on good terms with the Government and its local authorities.]
They have each a fort, or stronghold, mounting five or six guns, and trained bands of armed and brave men of five or six hundred, which they augment, as occasion requires, by Gohars, or auxiliary bands from their friends.
Hurdut Sing, of Bondee, alias Bumnootee, held an estate for which he paid one hundred and eighty-two thousand (1,82,000) rupees a year to Government; but he was driven, out of it in 1846-47, by Rughbur Sing, the contractor, who, by rapacity and outrage, drove off the greater part of the cultivators, and so desolated the estate that it could not now be made to yield thirty thousand (30,000) rupees a- year. The Raja has ever since resided with a few followers in an island in the Ghagra. He has never openly resisted or defied the Government, but is said to be sullen, and a bad paymaster. He still holds the estate in its desolate condition.
The people of Nawabgunge drink the water of wells, close to the bank of the river, and often the water of the river itself, and say that they never suffer from it; but that a good many people in several villages, along the same bank, have the goitre to a very distressing degree.
December 6, 1849.—Halted at Byram-ghat, in order to enable all our people and things to come up. One of our elephants nearly lost his life yesterday in the quick-sands of the river. Capt. Weston rode out yesterday close to Bhitolee, the little fort of Rajah Gorbuksh Sing, who came out in a litter and told him, that he would come to me to- day at noon, and clear himself of the charges brought against him of rescuing and harbouring robbers, and refusing to pay the Government demand. He had been suffering severely from fever for fifteen days.
Karamut Allee complains that his father, Busharut Allee, had been driven out from the purgunnahs of Nawabgunge and Sidhore, by Ghoolum Huzrut and his associates, who had several times attacked and plundered the town of Nawabgunge, our second stage, and a great many other villages around, from which they had driven off all the cultivators and stock, in order to appropriate them to themselves, and augment their landed estates; that they had cut down all the groves of mango-trees planted by the rightful proprietors and their ancestors, in order to remove all local ties; and murdered or maimed all cultivators who presumed to till any of the lands without their permission, that Busharut Allee had held the contract for the land revenue of the purgunnah for twenty years, and paid punctually one hundred and thirty-five thousand (1,35,000) rupees a-year to the treasury, till about four years ago, when Ghoolam Huzrut commenced this system of spoliation and seizure, since which time the purgunnah had been declining, and could not now yield seventy thousand (70,000) rupees to the treasury; that his family had held many villages in hereditary right for many generations, within the purgunnah, but that all had, been or were being seized by this lawless freebooter and his associates.
Seeta Ram, a Brahmin zumeendar of Kowaree, in purgunnah Satrick, complains, that he has been driven out of his hereditary estate by Ghoolam Imam, the zumeendar of Jaggour, and his associate, Ghoolam Huzrut; that his house had been levelled with the ground, and all the trees, planted by his family, have been cut down and burned; that he has been plundered of all he had by them, and is utterly ruined. Many other landholders complain in the same manner of having been robbed by this gang, and deprived of their estates; and still more come in to pray for protection, as the same fate threatens all the smaller proprietors, under a government so weak, and so indifferent to the sufferings of its subjects.
The Nazim of Khyrabad, who is now here engaged in the siege of Bhitolee, has nominally three thousand four hundred fighting men with him; but he cannot muster seventeen hundred. He has with him only the seconds in command of corps, who are men of no authority or influence, the commandants being at Court, and the mere creatures of the singers and eunuchs, and other favourites about the palace. They always reside at and about Court, and keep up only half the number of men and officers, for whom they draw pay. All his applications to the minister to have more soldiers sent out to complete the corps, or permission to raise men in their places, remain unanswered and disregarded. The Nazim of Bharaetch has nominally four thousand fighting men; but he cannot muster two thousand, and the greater part of them are good for nothing. The great landholders despise them, but respect the Komutee corps, under Captains Barlow, Bunbury, and Magness, which is complete, and composed of strong and brave men. The despicable state to which the Court favourites have reduced the King's troops, with the exception of these three corps, is lamentable. They are under no discipline, and are formidable only to the peasantry and smaller landholders and proprietors, whose houses they everywhere deprive of their coverings, as they deprive their cattle of their fodder.
December 7, 1849.—Hissampoor, 12 miles north-east, over a plain of fine soil, more scantily tilled than any we saw on the other side of the Ghagra, but well studded with groves and fine single trees, and with excellent crops on the lands actually under tillage. One cause assigned for so much fine land lying waste is, that the Rajpoot tallookdars, above named, of the Chehdewara, have been long engaged in plundering the Syud proprietors of the soil, and seizing upon their lands, in the same manner as the Mahomedan ruffians, on the other side of the river, have been engaged in plundering the small Rajpoot proprietors, and seizing upon their lands. Four of them are now quiet; but two, Prethee Put and Mirtonjee, are always in rebellion. Lately, while the Chuckladar was absent, employed against Jote Sing, of Churda, in the Turae, these two men took a large train of followers, with some guns, attacked the two villages of Aelee and Pursolee, in the estate of Deeksa, in Gonda, killed six persons, plundered all the houses of the inhabitants, and destroyed all their crops, merely because the landholders of these two villages would not settle a boundary dispute in the way 'they proposed'. The lands of the Hissampoor purgunnah were held in property by the members of a family of Syuds, and had been so for many generations; but neighbouring Rajpoot tallookdars have plundered them of all they had, and seized upon their lands by violence, fraud, or collusion, with public officers. Some they have seized and imprisoned, with torture of one kind or another, till they signed deeds of sale, Bynamahs; others they have murdered with all their families, to get secure possession of their lands; others they have despoiled by offering the local authorities a higher rate of revenue for their lands than they could possibly pay.
The Nazim has eighteen guns, and ten auxiliary ones sent out on emergency—not one-quarter are in a state for service; and for these he has not half the draft-bullocks required, and they are too weak for use; and of ammunition or stores he has hardly any at all.
Rajah Gorbuksh Sing came yesterday, at sunset, to pay his respects, and promised to pay to the Oude Government all that is justly demandable from him. Written engagements to this effect were drawn up, and signed by both the "high contracting parties." Having come in on a pledge of personal security, he was, of course, permitted to return from my camp to his own stronghold in safety. In that place he has collected all the loose characters and unemployed soldiers he could gather together, and all that his friends and associates could lend him, to resist the Amil; and to maintain such a host, he will have to pay much more than was required punctually to fulfil his engagements to the State. He calculates, however, that, by yielding to the Government, he would entail upon himself a perpetual burthen at an enhanced rate, while, by the temporary expenditure of a few thousands in this way, he may still further reduce the rate he has hitherto paid.
The contract for Gonda and Bahraetch was held by Rughbur Sing, one of the sons of Dursun Sing, for the years 1846 and 1847 A.D., and the district of Sultanpoor was held by his brother, Maun Sing, for 1845- 46 and 1847 A.D. Rughbur Sing in 1846-47 is supposed to have seized and sold or destroyed no less than 25,000 plough-bullocks in Bhumnootee, the estate of Rajah Hurdut Sing, alone. The estate of Hurhurpoor had, up to that time, long paid Government sixty thousand (60,000) rupees a-year, but last year it would not yield five thousand (5,000) rupees, from the ravages of this man, Rughbur Sing. The estate of Rehwa, held by Jeswunt Sing, tallookdar, had paid regularly fifty-five thousand (55,000) rupees a-year; but it was so desolated by Rughbur Sing, that it cannot now yield eleven thousand (11,000) rupees. This estate adjoins Bhumnootee, Rajah Hurdut Sing's, which, as above stated, regularly paid one hundred and eighty-two thousand (182,000) rupees; it cannot now pay thirty thousand (30,000) rupees. Such are the effects of the oppression of this bad man for so brief a period.
Some tallookdars live within the borders of our district of Goruckpoor, while their lands lie in Oude. By this means they evade the payment of their land revenues, and with impunity commit atrocious acts of murder and plunder in Oude. These men maim or murder all who presume to cultivate on the lands which they have deserted, without their permission, or to pay rents to any but themselves; and the King of Oude's officers dare not follow them, and are altogether helpless. Only two months ago, Mohibollah, a zumeendar of Kuttera, was invited by Hoseyn Buksh Khan, one of these tallookdars, to his house, in the Goruckpoor district, to negotiate for the ransom of one of his cultivators, a weaver by caste, whom he had seized and taken away. As he was returning in the evening, he was waylaid by Hoseyn Buksh Khan, as soon as he had recrossed the Oude borders, and murdered with one of his attendants, who had been sent with him by the Oude Amil. Such atrocities are committed by these refractory tallookdars every day, while they are protected within our bordering districts. Their lands must lie waste or be tilled by men who pay all the rent to them, while they pay nothing to the Oude Government. The Oude Government has no hope of prosecuting these men to conviction in our Judicial Courts for specific crimes, which they are known every day to commit, and glory in committing. In no part of India is there such glaring abuse of the privileges of sanctuary as in some of our districts bordering on Oude; while the Oude Frontier Police, maintained by the King, at the cost of about one hundred thousand (100,000) rupees a-year, and placed under our control, prevents any similar abuse on the part of the Oude people and local authorities. Some remedy for this intolerable evil should be devised. At present the magistrates of all our conterminous districts require, or expect, that their charges against any offender in Oude, who has committed a crime in their districts, shall be held to be sufficient for their arrest; but some of them, on the other band, require that nothing less than some unattainable judicial proof, on the part of the officers of the Oude Government, shall be held to be sufficient to justify the arrest of any Oude offender who takes refuge in our districts. They hold, that the sole object of the Oude authorities is to get revenue defaulters into their power, and that the charges against them for heinous crimes are invented solely for that purpose. No doubt this is often the object, and that other charges are sometimes invented, for the sole purpose of securing the arrest and surrender of revenue defaulters; but the Oude revenue defaulters who take refuge in our districts are for the most part, the tallookdars, or great landholders, who, either before or after they do so, invariably fight with the Oude authorities, and murder and plunder indiscriminately, in order to reduce them to their own terms.
The Honourable the Court of Directors justly require that requisition for the surrender of offenders by and from British officers and Native States, shall be limited to persons charged with having committed heinous crimes within their respective territories; and that the obligation to surrender such offenders shall be strictly reciprocal, unless, in any special case, there be very strong reason for a departure from the rule.* But some magistrates of districts disregard altogether applications made to them by the sovereign of Oude, through the British Resident, for the arrest of subjects of Oude who have committed the most atrocious robberies and murders in the Oude territory in open day, and in the sight of hundreds; and allow refugees from Oude to collect and keep up gangs of robbers within their own districts, and rob and murder within the Oude territory. Happily such Magistrates are rare. Government, in a letter dated the 25th February, 1848, state—"that it is the duty of the magistrates of our districts bordering on Oude to adopt vigorous measures for preventing the assembling or entertaining of followers by any party, for the purpose of committing acts of violence on the Oude side of the frontier."
[* See their letter to the Government of India, 27th May 1835.]
December 8, 1849.—Pukharpoor, a distance of fourteen miles, over a fine plain of good soil, scantily tilled. For some miles the road lay through Rajah Hurdut Sing's estate of Bumnootee, which was, with the rest of the district of Bahraetch and Gonda, plundered by Rughbur Sing, during the two years that he held the contract. We passed through no village or hamlet, but saw some at a distance from the road, with their dwellings of naked mud walls, the abodes of fear and wretchedness; but the plain is well studded with groves and fine single trees, and the crops are good where there are any on the ground. Under good management, the country would be exceedingly beautiful, and was so until within the last four years.
In the evening I had a long talk with the people of the village, who had assembled round our tents. Many of them had the goitre; but they told me, that in this and all the villages within twenty miles the disease had, of late years, diminished; that hardly one-quarter of the number that used to suffer from it had now the disease; that the quality of the water must have improved, though they knew not why, as they still drank from the same wells. These wells must penetrate into some bed of mineral or other substance, which produces this disease of the glands, and may in time exhaust it. But it is probable, that the number who suffer from this disease has diminished merely with the rest of the population, and that the proportion which the goitered bear to the ungoitered may be still the same. They told me that they had been plundered of all their stock and moveable property by the terrible scourge, Rughber Sing, during his reign of two years, and could not hope to recover from their present state of poverty for many more; that their lands were scantily tilled, and the crops had so failed for many years, since this miscreant's rule, that the district which used to supply Lucknow with grain was obliged to draw grain from it, and even from Cawnpore. This is true, and grain has in consequence been increasing in price ever since we left Lucknow. It is now here almost double the price that it is at Lucknow, while it is usually twice as cheap here.