Landor.—The most fervid expression in commendation of it is printed as Porson's improperly, as the whole context shows. It should have been Southey's.
North.—So, I perceive, you say in this new dialogue; and such a mode of attempting to turn your back on yourself, to borrow a phrase from your friend Lord Castlereagh's rhetoric, will be pronounced, even by those who do not care a bawbee about the debate, as not only ludicrous, but pitiably shabby. Keep your seat, Mr. Landor, and keep your temper for once in your life. Let us examine into this pretended mistake in your former dialogue about Laodamia. Well, as you are up, do me the favour, sir, to mount the ladder, and take down from yon top shelf the first volume of your Conversations. Up in the corner, on the left hand, next the ceiling. You see I have given you a high place.
Landor.—Here is the book, Mr. North; it is covered with dust and cobwebs.
North.—The fate of classics, Mr. Landor. They are above the reach of the housemaid, except when she brings the Turk's Head to bear upon them. Now, let us turn to the list of errata in this first volume. We are directed to turn to page 52, line 4, and for sugar-bakers, read sugar-bakers' wives. I turn to the page, and find the error corrected by yourself; as are all the press errors in these volumes, which were presented by you to a friend. I bought the whole set for an old song at a sale. You see that the omitted word wives is carefully supplied by yourself, in your own handwriting, Mr. Landor. On the same page, only five lines below this correction, is the identical passage that you would now transfer from Porson to Southey. Why did you not affix Porson's name to the passage then, when you were so vigilantly perfecting the very page? Why does no such correction appear even in the printed list of errata? Let us read the passage. "A current of rich and bright thoughts runs throughout the poem.  Pindar himself would not, on that subject, have braced one into more nerve and freshness, nor Euripides have inspired into it more tenderness and passion."
[Footnote 114: Vol. i. p. 52.]
Landor.—Mr. North, I repeat that that sentence should have been printed as Southey's, not Porson's.
North.—Yet it is quite consistent with a preceding sentence which you can by no ingenuity of after-thought withdraw from Porson; for the whole context forbids the possibility of its transition. What does Porson there testify of the Laodamia? That it is "a composition such as Sophocles might have exulted to own!"—and a part of one of its stanzas "might have been heard with shouts of rapture in the Elysium the poet describes." 
[Footnote 115: Vol. i. p. 51. Few persons will think that Mr. Landor's drift, which is obvious enough, could be favoured if these passages could be all shuffled over to Mr. Southey. It would be unwise and inconsistent in Mr. Landor of all men to intimate that Southey's judgment in poetry was inferior to Porson's; for Southey has been so singular as to laud some of Mr. Landor's, and Mr. Landor has been so grateful as to proclaim Southey the sole critic of modern times who has shown "a delicate perception in poetry." It is rash, too, in him to insinuate that Southey's opinion could be influenced by his friendship; for he, the most amiable of men, was nevertheless a friend of Mr. Lander also. But the only object of this argument is to show how mal-adroitly Mr. Landor plays at thimblerig. He lets us see him shift the pea. As for the praise and censure contained in his dialogues, we have no doubt that any one concerned willingly makes him a present of both. It is but returning bad money to Diogenes. It is all Mr. Landor's; and, lest there should be any doubt about the matter, he has taken care to tell us that he has not inserted in his dialogues a single sentence written by, or recorded of, the persons who are supposed to hold them.—See Vol. i. p. 96, end of note.]
These expressions are at least as fervid as those which you would reclaim from Porson, now that, like a pettifogging practitioner, you want to retain him as counsel against the most illustrious of Southey's friends—the individual of whom in this same dialogue you cause Southey to ask, "What man ever existed who spent a more retired, a more inoffensive, a more virtuous life, than Wordsworth, or who has adorned it with nobler studies?"—and what does Porson answer? "I believe so; I have always heard it; and those who attack him with virulence or with levity are men of no morality and no reflection."  Thus you print Wordsworth's praise in rubric, and fix it on the walls, and then knock your head against them. You must have a hard skull, Mr. Landor.
[Footnote 116: Vol. i. p. 40.]
Landor.—Be civil, Mr. North, or I will brain you.
North.—Pooh, pooh, man! all your Welsh puddles, which you call pools, wouldn't hold my brains. To return to your proffered article, there is one very ingenious illustration in it. "Diamonds sparkle the most brilliantly on heads stricken by the palsy."
Landor.—Yes; I flatter myself that I have there struck out a new and beautiful, though somewhat melancholy thought.
North.—New! My good man, it isn't yours; you have purloined those diamonds.
North.—From the very poet you would disparage—Wordsworth.
"Diamonds dart their brightest lustre From the palsy-shaken head."
Those lines have been in print above twenty years.
Landor.—An untoward coincidence of idea between us.
North.—Both original, no doubt; only, as Puff says in the Critic, one of you thought of it the first, that's all. But how busy would Wordsworth be, and how we should laugh at him for his pains, if he were to set about reclaiming the thousands of ideas that have been pilfered from him, and have been made the staple of volumes of poems, sermons, and philosophical treatises without end! He makes no stir about such larcenies. And what a coil have you made about that eternal sea-shell, which you say he stole from you, and which, we know, is the true and trivial cause of your hostility towards him!
Landor.—Surely I am an ill-used man, Mr. North. My poetry, if not worth five shillings, nor thanks, nor acknowledgment, was yet worth borrowing and putting on. I, the author of Gebir, Mr. North, —do you mark me?
North.—Yes; the author of Gebir and Gebirus; think of that, St. Crispin and Crispanus!
"Sing me the fates of Gebir, and the Nymph Who challenged Tamar to a wrestling match, And on the issue pledged her precious shell. Above her knees she drew the robe succinct; Above her breast, and just below her arms. 'She, rushing at him, closed, and floor'd him flat. And carried off the prize, a bleating sheep; The sheep she carried easy as a cloak, And left the loser blubbering from his fall, And for his vanish'd mutton. Nymph divine! I cannot wait describing how she came; My glance first lighted on her nimble feet; Her feet resembled those long shells explored By him who, to befriend his steed's dim sight, Would blow the pungent powder in his eye.'" 
Is that receipt for horse eye-powder to be found in White's Farriery, Mr. Landor?
[Footnote 117: The lines within inverted commas, are Mr. Landor's, without alteration.]
Landor.—Perhaps not, Mr. North. Will you cease your fooling, and allow me to proceed? "I," the author of Gebir, "never lamented when I believed it lost." The MS. was mislaid at my grandmother's, and lay undiscovered for four years. "I saw it neglected; and never complained. Southey and Forster have since given it a place whence men of lower stature are in vain on tiptoe to take it down. It would have been honester and more decorous if the writer of certain verses had mentioned from what bar he took his wine."  Now keep your ears open, Mr. North; I will read my verses first, and then Wordsworth's. Here they are. I always carry a copy of them both in my pocket. Listen!
[Footnote 118: Mr. Landor's printed complaint, verbatim, from his "Satire on Satirists."]
North.—List, oh list! I am all attention, Mr. Landor.
"But I have sinuous shells of pearly hue Within, and they that lustre have imbibed In the sun's palace-porch, where, when unyoked, His chariot-wheel stands midway in the wave."
"Shake one, and it awakens—then apply Its polish'd lip to your attentive ear, And it remembers its august abodes, And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there."
These are lines for you, sir! They are mine. What do you think of them?
North.—I think very well of them; they remind one of Coleridge's "Eolian Harp." They are very pretty lines, Mr. Landor. I have written some worse myself.
Landor—So has Wordsworth. Attend to the echo in the Excursion.
"I have seen A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract Of inland ground, applying to his ear The convolutions of a smooth-lipp'd shell, To which, in silence hush'd, his very soul Listen'd intensely, and his countenance soon Brighten'd with joy; for, murmuring from within, Were heard sonorous cadences, whereby, To his belief, the monitor express'd Mysterious union with its native sea."
North.—There is certainly much resemblance between the two passages; and, so far as you have recited Wordsworth's, his is not superior to yours; which very likely, too, suggested it; though that is by no means a sure deduction, for the thought itself is as common as the sea-shell you describe, and, in all probability, at least as old as the Deluge.
Landor.—"It is but justice to add, that this passage has been the most admired of any in Mr. Wordsworth's great poem." 
[Footnote 119: From Mr. Landor, verbatim.]
North.—Hout, tout, man! The author of the Excursion could afford to spare you a thousand finer passages, and he would seem none the poorer. As to the imputed plagiarism, Wordsworth would no doubt have avowed it had he been conscious that it was one, and that you could attach so much importance to the honour of having reminded him of a secret in conchology, known to every old nurse in the country, as well as to every boy or girl that ever found a shell on the shore, or was tall enough to reach one off a cottage parlour mantelpiece; but which he could apply to a sublime and reverent purpose, never dreamed of by them or you. It is in the application of the familiar image, that we recognise the master-hand of the poet. He does not stop when he has described the toy, and the effect of air within it. The lute in Hamlet's hands is not more philosophically dealt with. There is a pearl within Wordsworth's shell, which is not to be found in your's, Mr. Landor. He goes on:—
"Even such a shell the universe itself Is to the ear of Faith; and there are times, I doubt not, when to you it cloth impart Authentic tidings of invisible things— Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power, And central peace subsisting at the heart Of endless agitation."
These are the lines of a poet, who not only stoops to pick up a shell now and then, as he saunters along the sea-shore, but who is accustomed to climb to the promontory above, and to look upon the ocean of things:—
"From those imaginative heights that yield Far-stretching views into eternity."
Do not look so fierce again, Mr. Landor. You who are so censorious of self-complacency in others, and indeed of all other people's faults, real or imagined, should endure to have your vanity rebuked.
Landor.—I have no vanity. I am too proud to be vain.
North.—Proud of what?
Landor.—Of something beyond the comprehension of a Scotchman, Mr. North—proud of my genius.
North.—Are you so very great a genius, Mr. Landor?
Landor.—I am. Almighty Homer is twice far above Troy and her towers, Olympus and Jupiter. First, when Priam bends before Achilles, and a second time, when the shade of Agamemnon speaks among the dead. That awful spectre, called up by genius in after-time, shook the Athenian stage. That scene was ever before me; father and daughter were ever in my sight; I felt their looks, their words, and again I gave them form and utterance; and, with proud humility, I say it—
"I am tragedian in this scene alone. Station the Greek and Briton side by side And if derision be deserved—deride."
Surely there can be no fairer method of overturning an offensive reputation, from which the scaffolding is not yet taken down, than by placing against it the best passages, and most nearly parallel, in the subject, from AEschylus and Sophocles. To this labour the whole body of the Scotch critics and poets are invited, and, moreover, to add the ornaments of translation. 
[Footnote 120: This strange rhapsody is verily Mr. Landor's. It is extracted from his "Satire on the Satirists."]
North.—So you are not only a match for AEschylus and Sophocles, but on a par with "almighty Homer when he is far above Olympus and Jove." Oh! ho! ho! As you have long since recorded that modest opinion of yourself in print, and not been lodged in Bedlam for it, I will not now take upon myself to send for a straight-waistcoat.
Landor.—Is this the treatment I receive fron the Editor of Blackwood's Magazine, in return for my condescension in offering him my assistance? Give me back my manuscript, sir. I was indeed a fool to come hither. I see how it is. You Scotchmen are all alike. We consider no part of God's creation so cringing, so insatiable, so ungrateful as the Scotch: nevertheless, we see them hang together by the claws, like bats; and they bite and scratch you to the bone if you attempt to put an Englishman in the midst of them.  But you shall answer for this usage, Mr. North: you shall suffer for it. These two fingers have more power than all your malice, sir, even if you had the two Houses of Parliament to back you. A pen! You shall live for it. 
[Footnote 121: Imaginary Conversations, vol. iv, p. 283.]
[Footnote 122: Ibid. vol. i. p. 126.]
North.—Fair and softly, Mr. Landor; I have not rejected your article yet. I am going to be generous. Notwithstanding all your abuse of Blackwood and his countrymen, I consent to exhibit you to the world as a Contributor to Blackwood's Magazine, and, in the teeth of all your recorded admiration of Wordsworth, I will allow you to prove yourself towards him a more formidable critic than Wakley, and a candidate for immortality with Lauder. Do you rue?
Landor.—Not at all. I have past the Rubicon.
North.—Is that a pun? It is worthy of Plato. Mr. Landor, you have been a friend of Wordsworth. But, as he says—
"What is friendship? Do not trust her, Nor the vows which she has made; Diamonds dart their brightest lustre From the palsy-shaken head."
Landor.—I have never professed friendship for him.
North.—You have professed something more, then. Let me read a short poem to you, or at least a portion of it. It is an "Ode to Wordsworth."
"O WORDSWORTH! That other men should work for me In the rich mines of poesy, Pleases me better than the toil Of smoothing, under harden'd hand, With attic emery and oil, The shining point for wisdom's wand, Like those THOU temperest 'mid the rills Descending from thy native hills. He who would build his fame up high, The rule and plummet must apply, Nor say—I'll do what I have plann'd, Before he try if loam or sand Be still remaining in the place Delved for each polish'd pillar's base. With skilful eye and fit device THOU raisest every edifice: Whether in shelter'd vale it stand, Or overlook the Dardan strand, Amid those cypresses that mourn Laodamia's love forlorn."
Four of the brightest intellects that ever adorned any age or country. are then named, and a fifth who, though not equal to the least of them, is not unworthy of their company; and what follows?
"I wish them every joy above That highly blessed spirits prove, Save one, and that too shall be theirs, But after many rolling years, WHEN 'MID THEIR LIGHT THY LIGHT APPEARS."
Here are Chaucer, Shakspeare, Milton, Spenser, Dryden too, all in bliss above, yet not to be perfectly blest till the arrival of Wordsworth among them! Who wrote that, Mr. Landor? 
[Footnote 123: Whom Mr. L., who is the most capricious as well as the most arrogant of censors, sometimes takes into favour.]
Landor.—I did, Mr. North.
North.—Sir, I accept your article. It shall be published in Blackwood's Magazine. Good-morning, sir.
Landor.—Good-day, sir. Let me request your particular attention to the correction of the press. (Landor retires.)
North.—He is gone! Incomparable Savage! I cannot more effectually retaliate upon him for all his invectives against us than by admitting his gossiping trash into the Magazine. No part of the dialogue will be mistaken for Southey's; nor even for Porson's inspirations from the brandy-bottle.
All the honour due to the author will be exclusively Mr. Walter Savage Landor's; and, as it is certainly "not worth five shillings," no one will think it "worth borrowing or putting on."
* * * * *
THE BURIAL MARCH OF DUNDEE.
Sound the fife, and raise the slogan—let the pibroch shake the air With its wild triumphal music, worthy of the freight we bear; Let the ancient hills of Scotland hear once more the battle song Swell within their glens and valleys as the clansmen march along. Never, from the field of combat, never from the deadly fray, Was a nobler trophy carried than we bring with us to-day: Never, since the valiant Douglas in his dauntless bosom bore Good King Robert's heart—the priceless—to our dear Redeemer's shore! Lo! we bring with us the hero—Lo! we bring the conquering Graeme, Crown'd as best beseems a victor from the altar of his fame; Fresh and bleeding from the battle whence his spirit took its flight Midst the crashing charge of squadrons, and the thunder of the fight! Strike, I say, the notes of triumph, as we march o'er moor and lea, Is there any here will venture to bewail our dead Dundee? Let the widows of the traitors weep until their eyes are dim; Wail ye may indeed for Scotland—let none dare to mourn for him! See, above his glorious body lies the royal banner's fold— See, his valiant blood is mingled with its crimson and its gold— See how calm he looks and stately, like a warrior on his shield, Waiting till the flush of morning breaks upon the battle field. See—O never more, my comrades! shall we see that falcon eye Kindle with its inward lightning, as the hour of fight drew nigh; Never shall we hear the voice that, clearer than the trumpet's call, Bade us strike for King and Country, bade us win the field or fall! On the heights of Killiecrankie yester-morn our army lay: Slowly rose the mist in columns from the river's broken way, Hoarsely roar'd the swollen torrent, and the pass was wrapp'd in gloom When the clansmen rose together from their lair among the broom. Then we belted on our tartans, and our bonnets down we drew, And we felt our broadswords' edges, and we proved them to be true, And we pray'd the prayer of soldiers, and we cried the gathering cry, And we clasp'd the hands of kinsmen, and we swore to do or die! Then our leader rode before us on his war-horse black as night— Well the Cameronian rebels knew that charger in the fight!— And a cry of exultation from the bearded warriors rose, For we loved the house of Claver'se, and we thought of good Montrose. But he raised his hand for silence—"Soldiers, I have sworn a vow; Ere the evening star shall glisten on Schehallion's lofty brow, Either we shall rest in triumph, or another of the Graemes Shall have died in battle harness for his country and King James! Think upon the Royal Martyr—think of what his race endure— Think on him whom butchers murder'd on the field of Magus Muir;— By his sacred blood I charge ye—by the ruin'd hearth and shrine— By the blighted hopes of Scotland—by your injuries and mine— Strike this day as if the anvil lay beneath your blows the while, Be they Covenanting traitors, or the brood of false Argyle! Strike! and drive the trembling rebels backwards o'er the stormy Forth; Let them tell their pale Convention how they fared within the North. Let them tell that Highland honour is not to be bought nor sold, That we scorn their Prince's anger, as we loathe his foreign gold. Strike! and when the fight is over, if ye look in vain for me, Where the dead are lying thickest, search for him who was Dundee!"
Loudly then the hills re-echo'd with our answer to his call, But a deeper echo sounded in the bosoms of us all. For the lands of wide Breadalbane, not a man who heard him speak Would that day have left the battle. Burning eye and flushing cheek Told the clansmen's fierce emotion, and they harder drew their breath, For their souls were strong within them, stronger than the grasp of death. Soon we heard a challenge-trumpet sounding in the pass below, And the distant tramp of horses, and the voices of the foe; Down we crouch'd amid the bracken, till the Lowland ranks drew near, Panting like the hounds in summer when they scent the stately deer. From the dark defile emerging, next we saw the squadrons come, Leslie's foot and Leven's troopers marching to the tuck of drum; Through the scatter'd wood of birches, o'er the broken ground and heath, Wound the long battalion slowly till they gain'd the field beneath, Then we bounded from our covert.—Judge how look'd the Saxons then, When they saw the rugged mountain start to life with armed men! Like a tempest down the ridges swept the hurricane of steel, Rose the slogan of Macdonald—flash'd the broadsword of Lochiel! Vainly sped the withering volley 'mongst the foremost of our band, On we pour'd until we met them, foot to foot, and hand to hand. Horse and man went down like drift-wood, when the floods are black at Yule, And their carcasses are whirling in the Garry's deepest pool. Horse and man went down before us—living foe there tarried none On the field of Killiecrankie, when that stubborn fight was done!
And the evening star was shining on Schehallion's distant head, When we wiped our bloody broadswords and return'd to count the dead. There we found him, gash'd and gory, stretch'd upon the cumber'd plain, As he told us where to seek him, in the thickest of the slain. And a smile was on his visage, for within his dying ear Peal'd the joyful note of triumph and the clansmen's clamorous cheer; So, amidst the battle's thunder, shot, and steel, and scorching flame, In the glory of his manhood pass'd the spirit of the Graeme!
Open wide the vaults of Athol, where the bones of heroes rest— Open wide the hallow'd portals to receive another guest! Last of Scots, and last of freemen—last of all that dauntless race, Who would rather die unsullied than outlive the land's disgrace! O thou lion-hearted warrior! reck not of the after-time, Honour may be deem'd dishonour, loyalty be called a crime. Sleep in peace with kindred ashes of the noble and the true, Hands that never fail'd their country, hearts that never baseness knew. Sleep, and till the latest trumpet wakes the dead from earth and sea, Scotland shall not boast a braver chieftain than our own Dundee!
* * * * *
LORD ELLENBOROUGH AND THE WHIGS.
The period of a single year but just elapsed has exhibited in the neighbourhood of the Indus events of the most memorable and momentous kind. Disasters the most disgraceful have been endured—victories the most brilliant have been achieved. The policy and the fortunes of a mighty empire under one governor, have been wholly reversed under another. Safety and security have been substituted for danger and dismay—a strong and dignified peace for a weak and aggressive war. These changes have been coincident with a great revolution in domestic politics. Under Whig auspices those evils had arisen which their successors have now redressed. Under the administration of Whigs, that flood of calamity was opened up which has been arrested without their aid; but which could not have continued its threatened course without the most perilous consequences to the country, and the heaviest burden of responsibility on the authors of the mischief.
In such circumstances it might have been expected—if manly courage or common decency were to be looked for in such a quarter—that on these Eastern questions the Whig party should this session have followed one or other of two courses: either that they should have taken a bold line of opposition, and vindicated their own Indian policy, while they attacked that of their successors: or that they should have preserved a prudent silence on subjects where they could say nothing in their own praise, and have only lifted up their voice to join the general acclamations of the country for successes in which, though not achieved by themselves, they had the best reason to rejoice, as shielding them from the ignominy and punishment which, in an opposite event, would have been poured out by public indignation on the heads of the original wrongdoers.
A strong or an honest party would have chosen one or other of these lines. But the Whigs are neither strong nor honest; and they have accordingly, in the late Indian discussions in Parlament, pursued a course of policy in which it is difficult to say whether feebleness or fraud be the more conspicuous. They have not ventured to vindicate their own conduct in invading the Affghan country: they have not dared to dispute the wisdom of their successors in retiring from it, when the object of a just retribution was accomplished. But while driven from these points—while forced to acknowledge the ability and judgment with which the present Governor-General has applied the forces of the empire to retrieve our honour and reputation in the East—while unable to point to a single practical measure as either improperly taken, or improperly omitted by him, the Whigs could not refrain, on some pretext or other, from marring the general joy by the discordant hissings of an impotent envy. Experiencing in an unparalleled degree both the indulgence of a generous nation, who are willing to forget the past in the enjoyment of the present, and the forbearance of high-minded opponents, who could easily have triumphed in the exposure of their disastrous blunders, the Whigs have made a characteristic return, by rancorously assailing the man whom the public views as its benefactor, with captious criticisms on the terms of a proclamation, or hypocritical objections to the transmission of a trophy. With that cunning which the faction have often shown in the use of apparent opportunities, they gained the reluctant concurrence of a few upright men, of whose peculiar scruples they contrived to avail themselves, but with an ignorance of the true English character, for which they are equally distinguished, they overshot the mark, and stand convicted of a design to make a verbal misconstruction the pretence for persecuting an absent man, and to convert honest prejudices into an unconscious instrument of oppression. They have thus earned a large allowance of general contempt, and they have nowhere, perhaps, excited a stronger feeling of disgust than in the minds of those who thought themselves compelled, by a rigid conscience, to give a seeming concurrence to their proceedings.
In judging of the conduct and position of Lord Ellenborough, it were gross ingratitude and injustice to forget the nature of the calamities with which India was assailed and threatened at the commencement of his goverment. In the second week of March 1842, the overland mail from the East conveyed intelligence to our shores which struck the nation to the very heart, and spread one universal feeling of grief and dismay, approaching for a time as near to a feeling of despondency as English breasts can be taught to know. Let us describe the effect in the words of an impartial observer writing at the time:—
"No such disastrous news has for many years reached this country as that which has arrived from India. 'The progress of our arms' was carried merrily on, till our flag was set beside that of our puppet, Shah Soojah, in Cabul; but there the progress has abruptly terminated in the total engulfing of 'our arms.' Yes, Sir William Macnaghten had just written home to declare our supremacy established, when all Cabul rose beneath his feet. Sir Alex. Burnes was the first swallowed in the earthquake of arms; next Sir William himself, governor of Bombay, and representative of the power of England in North-Western India, was destroyed, and his mutilated remains were made the object of ignominious ribaldry; and at length, if very general rumour is to be believed, the English army of occupation has been literally expunged. Corunna, Walcheren, all the reverses that have chequered our military career, baffle the memory to find a parallel to the utter defeat which, in the eyes of the barbarians of the Indian frontier, has crushed our power."—Spectator, p. 242.
These were the feelings that possessed this country, and which wrung, even from the Whigs, with every wish to palliate them, an acknowledgment of the heavy disasters which had befallen us. Pressed with the weight of these convictions, Mr. Macaulay, in a debate on the Income-tax, in April 1842, after cannily disclaiming any responsibility for the Affghan invasion, as having been effected before he joined the Government, was driven to deplore these military reverses as the greatest disaster that had ever befallen us: and added, somewhat incongruously:—
"He did not anticipate, if we acted with vigour, the least danger to our empire; though it must always be remembered that a great Mahometan success could not but fall like a spark upon tinder, and act on the freemasonry of Islamism from Morocco to Coromandel."
What, then, must have been the feeling in India, in the very focus of this calamitous visitation? Lord Auckland's despatches, now made public, will tell us what he felt. That he contemplated from the first the total and instant evacuation of Affghanistan, without attempting a blow for the vindication of our honour, or the release of the prisoners, is past all dispute, from documents under his own hand. Whether he is to be blamed for this resolution, or for the state of matters which rendered it necessary, is not here the question. But the fact is remarkable, as throwing further light on the effrontery of the Whigs. Lord Palmerston, in last August, twitted the Ministry with Lord Ellenborough's supposed intention to retire from beyond the Indus, and congratulated the country on the frustration of that intention, as having saved us "from the eternal disgrace." He was answered by the Prime Minister at the time in terms that might have been a warning, and that are now no longer a mystery.
"The noble lord presumed much on my forbearance, in what he said with respect to the Affghan war: and I will not be betrayed by any language of his to forget what I owe to the public service in replying to him. It is easy to say, why don't you move troops to Candahar; and why don't you move troops somewhere else? The noble lord finds no difficulty in this; but does he recollect that 26,000 camels, carrying the baggage of the troops in Affghanistan, were sacrificed before they reached it? The noble lord says, 'Who contemplated the abandonment of Affghanistan?' I could tell the noble lord. Beware, I say; let the noble lord beware of indiscriminate reflections upon those in office."
It is now known "who contemplated the abandonment of Affghanistan," without a struggle to punish the perfidy of the Affghans, to avenge the insults to our honour, or to redress the wrongs of our countrymen. Lord Auckland resolved on this course, without even an aspiration after any thing better than a safe retreat. Nor is such a resolution to be wondered at when the state of our military preparations is considered. A letter from Sir Jasper Nicolls, of 24th January 1842, to the statements in which we see no contradiction in the Blue Book, exhibits at once the condition of our resources, and the feelings of the head of the Indian army.
"After I had dispatched my letter to your Lordship in Council, I received the note, of which I transmit a copy herewith, from the Adjutant-General, and I had a second discussion with Mr. Clerk on the subject of holding our ground at Jellalabad against any Affghan power or force, in view to retrieving our position at Cabul, by advancing upon it, at the fit season, simultaneously from Candahar to Jellalabad. Having thus regained our position, and the influence which such proof of power must give, not only in Affghanistan but amongst all the neighbouring states, we should withdraw with dignity and undiminished honour. Admitting the undeniable force of this argument, I am greatly inclined to doubt that we have at present either army or funds sufficient to renew this contest. Money may, perhaps, be attainable, but soldiers are not, without leaving India bare. Shortly before I left Calcutta, there were at least 33,000 men in our pay in Affghanistan and Scinde, including Shah Soojah's troops, but not the rabble attached to his person. How insufficient that number has been to awe the barbarous and at first disunited tribes of Affghanistan and Scinde, our numerous conflicts, our late reverses, and our heavy losses fully prove. I admit that a blind confidence in persons around the late envoy—a total want of forethought and foresight on his part—unaccountable indecision at first, followed by cessions which, day by day, rendered our force more helpless—inactivity, perhaps, on some occasions—have led to these reverses; but we must not overlook the effects of climate, the difficulty of communication, the distance from our frontier, and the fanatical zeal of our opponents. No doubt your lordship can cause an army to force its way to Cabul, if you think our name and predominance in India cannot otherwise be supported; but our means are utterly insufficient to insure our dominion over that country. If this be granted, the questions for your lordship's decision are—whether we shall retake Cabul, to assert our paramount power; and whether, if we subsequently retire, our subjects and neighbours will not attribute our withdrawal even then, to conscious inability to hold the country."
In the same spirit the Commander-in-chief, in the beginning of February transmitted to General Pollock, with the acquiescence of lord Auckland, to whom he communicated his letter, the following explanation of the views of Government:—
"You may deem it perfectly certain that Government will not do more than detach this brigade, and this in view to support Major-General Sale, either at Jellalabad for a few weeks, or to aid his retreat; very probably also to strengthen the Sikhs at Peshawar for some time. It is not intended to collect a force for the reconquest of Cabul. You will convey the preceding paragraph, if you safely can, to the Major-General."
Such being the desponding views of the authorities stationed on the spot, what must have been the anxiety of the new Governor-General on his arrival in India, when this scene of disaster suddenly opened upon him with a succession of still further calamities in its train? We cannot better describe his position than in the words of Sir Robert Peel, in his speech on the Whig motion for censure—
"The moment he set foot in Madras, what intelligence met him!—the day he arrived at Benares, what a succession of events took place, calculated to disturb the firmest mind, and to infuse apprehensions into the breast of the boldest man! It has been said the cry in England was, 'What next?' That was a question which Lord Ellenborough had to put to himself for four or five days after his arrival. He lands at Madras on the 15th of February, presuming at the time that his predecessor had secured the admirable position so frequently spoken of in Affghanistan. He lands at Madras, after a four months' voyage, in necessary ignorance of all that had occurred in that interval of time, and to his astonishment he hears of the insurrection at Cabul. He receives tidings that Sir William Macnaghten and Sir Alexander Burnes, the envoy and representative of the British Government, had been murdered; that the city was in a state of insurrection, and that doubts were entertained as to the security of the British army. What next? He arrives at Calcutta, and there hears of the orders of his predecessor to hasten the evacuation of Affghanistan, for the noble reason of inflicting as little discredit as possible upon the British powers. He repairs to Benares, and there he hears the tremendous news that not only you had lost power in Affghanistan, but that you had so depressed the spirits and shaken the confidence of the native army, that General Pollock gives this melancholy account in a letter to Captain M'Gregor: —'It must no doubt appear to you and Sale most extraordinary, that, with the force I have here, I do not at once move on; God knows it has been my anxious wish to do so, but I have been helpless. I came on ahead to Peshawar to arrange for an advance, but was saluted with a report of 1900 sick, and a bad feeling among the Sepoys. I visited the hospitals, and endeavoured to encourage by talking to them, but they had no heart. On the 1st instant the feeling on the part of the Sepoys broke out, and I had the mortification of knowing that the Hindoos of four out of five native corps refused to advance. I immediately took measures to sift the evil, and gradually reaction has taken place, in the belief that I will wait for the reinforcements. This has caused me the utmost anxiety on your account; your situation is never out of my thoughts; but having told you what I have, you and Sale will at once see that necessity has kept me here. I verily believe, if I were to attempt to move on now without the reinforcement, that the four regiments implicated would, as far as the Hindoos are concerned, stand fast. The case, therefore, now stands thus—whether I am to attempt, with my present materials, to advance, and risk the appearance of disaffection or cowardice, which in such a case could not again be got over, or wait the arrival of a reinforcement, which will make all sure—this is the real state of the case. If I attempted now, I might risk you altogether; but if you can hold out, the reinforcements would make your relief as certain as any earthly thing can be.' What next? On the 17th of April, Lord Ellenborough hears of the failure of General England to force the Kojuck Pass. On the 19th of April he hears that Ghuznee has fallen. And what next? This was a question which, I repeat, Lord Ellenborough had from day to day to put to himself. But what next? Lord Ellenborough had to contemplate the retirement of the British force from Afghanistan. This was due to the safety of the British army, after the proof that the king you had set upon the throne had no root in the affections of the people, and that the army in possession of Affghanistan was separated from supplies by a distance of 600 miles. Finding this state of things, Lord Ellenborough thought he had no alternative but to bring the troops within the borders of British protection. For that difficult operation your policy, and not that of Lord Ellenborough, is responsible. Those who involved the country in an expedition of this kind, ought justly to be responsible for its retirement."
It is needless to detail the difficulties in which the armies of General Pollock and General Nott were then placed. Despondency and desertion prevailed among the native troops, so as to render any advance in the utmost degree hazardous, even if they had been capable of moving. But of the means even of retrograde motion they were utterly destitute. The explanations given in Parliament on the vote of thanks to the army and the Governor-General, establish beyond a doubt the absence of all means of carriage till the indefatigable exertions of Lord Ellenborough supplied them with every thing that was needed. The Whigs affect to disparage these arrangements as belonging to the vulgar department of a Commissary-General; and we may therefore infer that Lord Ellenborough's predecessor would have deemed such a task beneath his dignity, and left it to some delegate, who might have performed or neglected his duty, as accident might direct. Had that been the case, the chances are at least equal, that Lord Auckland would have been as well and as successfully served in this branch of military administration as he had already been in the occupation of Cabul, and that further failures and reverses would have hung the tenure of our Indian empire on the cast of a die.
The evacuation of Affghanistan at the earliest possible period, was dictated both by the proceedings of Lord Auckland, by the condition of India, and by the peaceful policy of a Conservative Government. But the mode in which it should be accomplished, and the demonstrations of British power which should attend it, were necessarily questions depending entirely "upon military considerations;" and for several months it seemed impossible that our armies could be put in a state of moral and physical strength, such as could justify the risk of any forward or devious movement of importance. The indefatigable zeal and admirable arrangements, however, of the Governor-General, his personal presence near the scene of exertion, the concentration of a large and imposing force on the Sutlej, giving courage and security to the troops in the field, and the undaunted spirit of British officers, succeeded at last in giving, an altered and more encouraging complexion to the aspect of our affairs. In one of the first statements of his views, Lord Ellenborough had significantly said, (15th March 1842:)—
"We are fully sensible of the advantages which would be derived from the re-occupation of Cabul, the scene of our great disaster and of so much crime, even for week—of the means which it might afford of recovering the prisoners, of the gratification which it would give to the army, and of the effect which it would have upon our enemies. Our withdrawal might then be made to rest upon an official declaration of the grounds upon which we retired, as solemn as that which accompanied our advance; and we should retire as a conquering, and not as a defeated, power."
But it was only in July that the Governor-General was in a condition to suggest the practical accomplishment of this desirable object, incidentally to our retirement from a country which we should never have entered. On the 4th July is dated the admirable despatch to General Nott, which, in the opinion of the Duke of Wellington, was all that could have been wished for, and which we cannot help transferring to our columns:—
"You will have learnt from Mr. Maddock's letters of the 13th May and 1st of June, that it was not expected that your movement towards the Indus could be made till October, regard being had to the health and efficiency of your army. You appear to have been able to give a sufficient equipment to the force you recently despatched to Kelat-i-Ghilzie, under Colonel Wymer; and since his return, you will have received, as I infer from a private letter addressed by Major Outram to Captain Durand, my private secretary, a further supply of 3000 camels.
"I have now, therefore, reason to suppose, for the first time, that you have the means of moving a very large proportion of your army, with ample equipment for any service.
"There has been no deficiency of provisions at Candahar at any time; and, immediately after the harvest, you will have an abundant supply.
"Nothing has occurred to induce me to change my first opinion, that the measure, commanded by considerations of political and military prudence, is to bring back the armies now in Affghanistan at the earliest period at which their retirement can be effected, consistently with the health and efficiency of the troops, into positions wherein they may have easy and certain communication with India; and to this extent, the instructions you have received remain unaltered. But the improved position of your army, with sufficient means of carriage for as large a force as it is necessary to move in Affghanistan, induced me now to leave to your option the line by which you shall withdraw your troops from that country.
"I must desire, however, that, in forming your decision upon this most important question, you will attend to the following considerations:—
"In the direction of Quetta and Sukkur, there is no enemy to oppose you; at each place occupied by detachments, you will find provisions: and probably, as you descend the passes, you will have increased means of carriage. The operation is one admitting of no doubt as to its success.
"If you determine upon moving upon Ghuznee, Cabul, and Jellalabad, you will require, for the transport of provisions, a much larger amount of carriage, and you will be practically without communications from the time of your leaving Candahar. Dependent entirely upon the courage of your army, and upon your own ability in direction it, I should not have any doubt as to the success of the operations; but whether you will be able to obtain provisions for your troops during the whole march, and forage for your animals, may be a matter of reasonable doubt. Yet upon this your success will turn.
"You must remember that it was not the superior courage of the Affghans, but want, and the inclemency of the season, which led to the destruction of the army at Cabul; and you must feel, as I do, that the loss of another army, from whatever cause it might arise, might be fatal to our government in India.
"I do not undervalue the account which our government in India would receive from the successful execution by your army of a march through Ghuznee and Cabul, over the scenes of our late disasters. I know all the effect with it would have upon the minds of our soldiers, of our allies, of our enemies in Asia, and of our countrymen, and of all foreign nations in Europe. It is an object of just ambition, which no one more than myself would rejoice to see effected; but I see that failure in the attempt is certain and irretrievable ruin; and I would endeavour to inspire you with the necessary caution, and make you feel that, great as are the objects to be obtained by success, the risk is great also.
"If you determine upon moving by Ghuznee, and entirely give up your communication by Quetta, I should suggest that you should take with you only the most efficient troops and men you have, securing the retreat of the remainder upon Killa, Abdoola, and Quetta.
"You will in such case, consider it to be entirely a question to be decided by yourself, according to circumstances, whether you shall destroy or not the fortifications of Candahar; but, before you set out upon your adventurous march, do not fail to make the retirement of the force you leave behind you perfectly secure, and give such instructions as you deem necessary for the ultimate retirement of the troops in Scinde, upon Sukkur.
"You will recollect that what you will have to make is a successful march; that that march must not be delayed by any hazardous operations against Ghuznee or Cabul; that you should carefully calculate the time required to enable you to reach Jellalabad in the first week in October, so as to form the rearguard of Major-General Pollock's army. If you should be enabled by coup-de-main to get possession of Ghuznee and Cabul, you will act as you see fit, and leave decisive proofs of the power of the British army, without impeaching its humanity. You will bring away from the tomb of Mahmood of Ghuznee, his club, which hangs over it; and you will bring away the gates of his tomb, which are the gates of the Temple of Somnauth. These will be the just trophies of your successful march.
"You will not fail to disguise your intention of moving, and to acquaint Major-General Pollock with your plans as soon as you have formed them. A copy of this letter will be forwarded to Major-General Pollock to-day; and he will be instructed, by a forward movement, to facilitate your advance; but he will probably not deem it necessary to move any troops actually to Cabul, where your force will be amply sufficient to beat any thing the Affghans can oppose to it. The operations, however, of the two armies must be combined upon their approach, so as to effect, with the least possible loss, the occupation of Cabul, and keep open the communications between Cabul and Peshawar.
"One apprehension upon my mind is, that, in the event of your deciding upon moving on Jellalabad, by Ghuznee and Cabul, the accumulation of so great a force as that of your army, combined with Major-General Pollock's, in the narrow valley of the Cabul river, may produce material difficulties in the matter of provisions and forage; but every effort will be made from India to diminish that difficulty, should you adopt that line of retirement.
"This letter remains absolutely secret. I have, &c.
A paltry attempt was made in Parliament by Lord John Russell to represent this despatch as intended to defraud General Nott of his military trophies in the event of success, and to relieve the Governor-General of responsibility in the event of failure. No such base construction can be put upon it. Lord Ellenborough was doing his own duty as a civil minister, and leaving General Nott to do his as a military commander. A military responsibility lay on General Nott, from which no ruler could relieve him; but the military glory was his also, if he felt himself justified in choosing the path of honour that was opened to him. Who grudges the triumphs that General Nott and his companions-in-arms have achieved? Not certainly Lord Ellenborough or his friends. Let the distinctions which have been heaped on the Indian army and its leaders answer that question. But is their military merit a reason for denying to the man, under whose administration these victories were won, the high honour of having done all which a civil governor could do, to direct and assist the armies of his country? Let each receive the praise of his own merits, and we doubt not that military men, wherever, at least, they have experienced the reverse, will be the first to appreciate and commend, in Lord Ellenborough's administration, that active sympathy and assistance which are so essential to military efficiency and success.
It is said that the despatch of the 4th of July is qualified by heavy cautions. And should it not have been so? In addressing a British officer with a field of exertion before him, so glorious in a military, so hazardous in a political view, it is surely not the spur, but the curb, that a civilian was called on to apply. The courage of such a commander required nothing to fan the flame: The danger, if any, was rather that he would rashly seize the opportunity afforded him, than that he would timidly resign it; and if he was not prepared to adopt the bolder course, in the face of all the hazards which attended it, it was best that the enterprize should not be undertaken at all.
But Lord Ellenborough knew his man. In appointing General Nott, in March, to the command of all the troops, and entrusting him with the control of all the agents in Lower Affghanistan, the Governor and Council had desired him "to rely upon our constant support, and upon our placing the most favourable interpretation upon all the measures he may deem it necessary to adopt in the execution of our orders." And in now giving him the option of retiring by Cabul, Lord Ellenborough was assured that the General needed no other encouragement to avail himself of it, than the feeling that all counter-considerations had been stated and duly weighed. Every preparation was immediately made to support General Nott in his adventurous enterprize; and Lord Ellenborough writes to General Pollock:—
"I am in hopes that Major-General Nott will to-day be in possession of my letter of the 4th instant, and that you will, very soon after you receive this letter, be made acquainted with the Major-General's intentions. My expectation is, that Major-General Nott will feel himself sufficiently strong, and be sufficiently provided with carriage, to march upon Ghuznee and Cabul."
The result was such as had been looked for. The combined operation of the two armies placed the Affghans at our mercy, and terminated, by the ample vindication of our honour, and the restoration of our imprisoned friends, our inauspicious connexion with these barbarians, who had retaliated so cruelly the aggression we had made upon them.
It may be safely conjectured, that if these final triumphs had been achieved under the direction of Lord Auckland, even though merely retrieving the errors of his former policy, we should never have heard an end of the eulogiums pronounced upon him. Lord John Russell would have crowed and clapped his wings in the "moment of victory." Lord Palmerston would have blustered more brazenly than ever. Mr. Macaulay would have aired the whole stores of his panegyrical vocabulary; and Sir John Hobhouse would not have gone abroad.
But, under whatever Government achieved, these results would have filled the minds of patriotic men with unmingled gratitude to all who had contributed to their accomplishment. India had been in danger, and was safe. The British arms had been stained by defeat, and were again glancing brightly in the light of victory. Our countrymen and countrywomen had been almost hopeless captives, and were now restored to freedom and their friends. In such a scene and season of rejoicing, we might have thought that none but a Whig of the very oldest school of all, could have entertained any feelings but those of generous sympathy and unrepining satisfaction. But limits cannot easily be put to human perverseness. The party whose policy had caused the evils from which we and they have been delivered, felt nothing but intense hatred to him who had been most prominent in that deliverance; and, heedless of the good that he had done, they fastened on what seemed to their malignant and microscopic vision some specks that chequered his otherwise unblemished administration of affairs.
The idea of discussing in Parliament, as we have lately witnessed, the literary style of a Government state paper at a crisis so momentous, implies a levity that would be hateful if it were not ludicrous. But there is something peculiarly laughable in the pedantry of such criticism. When other men are thinking of what has been done, the reviewers and poetasters of the Whig Opposition can think only of what has been said. The facts that are before them have no value in their eyes; they see nothing but the phraseology. From men who had themselves done nothing but what was mischievous, this is perhaps natural. They are content, possibly, if they have never said a foolish thing, to have never done a wise one; though we are doubtful if a taunt about simplicity of composition, either comes well from the noble leader of the Whigs, or his friends, when we remember some of their old achievements in addressing their supporters. But in the peculiar position of the Whigs, with ignominy and impeachment suspended over their heads for their Affghan errors, we think that such a course is as becoming as if a condemned criminal were to carp at the literary composition of his own reprieve.
The tactics of the Whigs in their move against Lord Ellenborough, had all the craft of conscious weakness. First, they postponed their motion from time to time, till they were rescued by their opponents from Mr. Roebuck's assault upon them. Then they arranged their attack for the same night in both Houses of Parliament, lest explanations in any high quarter in the one might damage a future discussion in the other; and lastly, though thus acting by simultaneous and concerted movements in both, they framed their motions differently in each place; and in the Commons, where they had some dream of better success, confined themselves to the religious question under the letter on the Somnauth gates, omitting the Simla proclamation of the 1st October, which they knew neither Conservative nor Radical would join them to condemn.
With regard to the Somnauth gates, a pettier piece of hypercriticism, and a more palpable exhibition of hypocrisy, were never witnessed on a public question. Two things on this point are as plain as day.
1. That in retiring from the Affghan country, we were called upon to do so as much as possible in the light of triumphant victors, bearing every mark of military prowess and superiority that could readily be assumed, and inflicting as heavy a blow, and as severe a discouragement on our perfidious enemies, as humanity would permit.
2. That, the Affghan trophies of Mahmoud's success were treasured up by his nation as an assurance of continued ascendancy over their Hindoo neighbours; and that, in particular, the redelivery to India of these very gates of Somnauth, were, in negotiations of recent date, demanded by Runjeet Singh as an inestimable boon, and deprecated by Shah Soojah as a degrading humiliation.
Keeping in view these undeniable circumstances, it is clear that the seizure of these Somnauth gates was appropriately ordered as a palpable and permanent demonstration of conquest, and one eminently calculated to encourage the Indian army, and to depress their enemies.
That these gates were connected with the religion of the country, is of no relevancy in this matter. Every thing relating to Hindoo grandeur is more or less interwoven with religion; but we must take things as they are. We are the rulers of Hindostan; where the vast preponderance of our subjects and soldiers are Hindoos. We wish them to be Christians, but they are not so yet; and, until they become Christianized, we cannot hope or wish that they should forget the only faith which they have to raise them above the earth they tread. Their religion is corrupted to the core; but in its primitive type, after which its worshippers will sometimes even yet aspire, it is not destitute of a high spirituality that would seek to assimilate and unite men's souls to the Great Being, whom they reverence as the maker, maintainer, and changer of the universe. Hindooism is more fantastic, and less pleasingly endeared to us, than the paganism of Greece, but it is scarcely more lax or licentious; yet if Fortune, in its caprices, had ordained our Indian subjects to be heathen Greeks, with a Whig Governor-General bringing them back in triumph to their homes, Lord Palmerston, who now, in a mingled rant of mythology, and methodism, talks of "Dii and Jupiter hostis," would himself have penned a paragraph about the restored temple of Mars or Venus, and would have held up the scruples of Sir Robert Inglis and Mr. Plumptre to classical ridicule.
But it is plain that here no religious triumph was, or could have been, contemplated by Lord Ellenborough. On this point we need no other evidence than that of Joseph Hume, who, combining the properties of Balaam and his ass, often brays out a blessing when he intends a curse. He tells us that—
A Hindoo of high caste, now in this country, the Vakeel of the Rajah of Sattara, had written to him a letter, in which he stated— "It appears to me that the restoration of the gates of Somnauth could have no reference either to the support or degradation of any religious faith. To restore the gates to their original purpose is impracticable by the tenets of the Hindoo religion. Their doctrine is, that any thing, when in contact with a dead body, or any thing belonging to it, whether tomb or garment, is utterly contaminated and unfit for religious purposes. In my opinion, therefore, the proclamation must have been intended to gratify the feelings of the Hindoo portion of our army, by removing a stain which the western portion of India had long felt oppressive. In fact, he believed that the Governor-General, by this means, conciliated the feelings of the Hindoo soldiery in their return from those scenes of death and disaster in which they had behaved so well, and where thousands of their fellow-countrymen had fallen. I hope that this intention of Lord Ellenborough to conciliate the princes of India will extend to my unfortunate master.' This letter was from (we believe) Rumgoo Baffagee, Vakeel of the Rajah of Sattara, and he thought it was so important, that he had sent for the Vakeel, whom he found a most intelligent man; and from his conversation he (Mr. Hume) was satisfied that, so far from being applied to the Hindoo population exclusively, it was utterly impossible that the gates could be used for the religious purposes to which the Governor-General seemed to have destined them. He had satisfied him (Mr. Hume) that the object of the proclamation was merely to bring back to Western India those gates, the absence of which in Afghanistan had long been felt as an opprobrium. He hoped therefore, that those religious sects who had most unnecessarily take the alarm on this score, would be appeased. So far from the proclamation being an exclusive one, no single sentence was there in it which could be read after the address to 'all the princes and chiefs, and people of India,' as applicable to any one."
But it is said that such a trophy may give offence to Mahommedans; and Mr. Mangles tells us, that the Mohommedan population sympathize strongly with the Affghans, and revere the memory of Mahmoud. If that be the case, it would have been difficult to bring any trophy home, or to imprint any mark of the superiority of our arms, without displeasing this sect. But, in that view, who are the parties responsible for thus placing our essential interests, and the safety of India generally, in contrast with the feelings of Mohommedan subjects? Those certainly who, regardless of all justice, made a wanton aggression on a Mahommedan power. Those certainly who, regardless of all prudence, gave occasion to the Affghan massacre and captivity of British and Indian soldiers; and, by a great Mahommedan success, kindled a spark which was ready to set the freemasonry of Islamism on fire "from Morocco to Coromandel." If we have been placed in a false position, as regards our Mahommedan subjects, we have to blame the Whigs, whose wanton and unwise measures created this collision of interests, and not Lord Ellenborough, who has adopted measures the most natural and the most humane, to reestablish the ascendancy and the reputation of English and Indian power.
The proclamation of Simla needs no vindication. It has satisfied every one but the Whigs, who can never forget and never forgive it. It is poor pretence to say, that it denounces in an indecorous manner the errors of the previous governor. It does no such thing. It speaks, indeed, of errors, but only conscious culpability would have taken the allusion to itself. There were errors, and grievous ones. The Whigs themselves must say that; and they have not been slow to shift to the shoulders of military officers the results that most people think they should bear themselves. The proclamation of Lord Ellenborough seems to us to have been framed with a punctilious desire to reconcile in the eyes of India his own policy with that which had been avowed by his predecessor, and to ascribe the change of plans to a change of circumstances, and not of principles. We speak here of the avowed policy of his predecessor; for Lord Auckland, at least, pretended that he had no aggressive or hostile views against the Affghans, and no desire for a permanent occupation of their country. The real designs of the Whig Government are a different thing; and with these, as avowed by Lord Palmerston in Parliament, the intentions of Lord Ellenborough were wholly irreconcilable.
Let us listen here to one who knows the subject. The Duke of Wellington tells us the errors that Lord Ellenborough alludes to as occasioning our military disasters, and he shows us where those errors lay:—
"There is not a word in this proclamation that is not strictly true. But I do not blame the noble lord opposite, the late Governor-General of India; yet I cannot help looking at the enormous errors which have been committed from the commencement of these transactions in which these disasters originated, down to the last retreat from Cabul—I say, looking at all this, I still must blame, not the late Governor-General, but the gentlemen who acted under him. In the first place, I attribute the error to the gentleman who fell a victim to his own want of judgment. The army unfortunately was partly English and partly Hindoo—not Affghans, but Hindoos. What was the consequence? To maintain the whole system of the government, including the collection of the revenue, devolved upon that army. All the details of the government were carried on through the agency of that English and Hindoo army, and eventually it became necessary to support that army with some troops in the service of the Company. Now, the gentleman who was responsible for this ought to have known that there was one rule, the violation of which any one acquainted with the government of India knew nothing could justify, and that was, the employment of the Company's European troops in the collection of the revenue. That rule is invariably laid down, and is invariably observed. That, as your lordships must plainly see, is one of the errors that has been committed. There is another point to which I wish to call your attention; it is this, that the country never had been occupied by an army as it ought to have been occupied. With the north no practicable communication was maintained—no practicable communications were kept up between Shikarpore, Candahar, and Ghuznee. The passes were held only through the agency of banditti. I do not blame the noble lord, but I blame the gentleman to whom the army was entrusted. He seemed never to have looked at what had been done by former commanders in similar circumstances. Any officer who has the command of an army ought to feel it to be his first duty to keep up a communication with his own country. If such communication had been maintained, those disasters never would have befallen us—they could not have happened. This was one of the errors committed; but I do not say that the noble lord opposite is answerable for that error. Not only was no communication kept up with the north, but none was kept up with the south. Neither the Kojuck nor the Bolan pass was kept open. Can that, my lords, be called a military communication? Could such a state of things exist? Why, was not this another error—a gross error? The noble lord opposite (Lord Auckland) had no more to do with this than I have. Sir W. Macnaghten, the gentleman who perished, could not have been ignorant of what was done in other places. He must have read the history of the Spanish war, and he must have recollected how the French conducted themselves in a similar situation; how they fortified the passes, and secured their communications. But he was not an officer; the gentleman at the head of the army in Affghanistan was not an officer—that was another error."
That such errors existed is undeniable. Lord Auckland says there were errors:—
"With regard to the errors of the campaign, he conceived they rested with the military commanders, not with Sir W. Macnaghten; and if errors had been committed by Sir William, they must be shared between him and the more direct military commanders."
Lord John Russell said,—
"I have heard causes given, and upon very high authority, for these disasters; I have heard it stated that very great errors were committed—that those errors consisted partly in not keeping up a communication by the straightest road between Cabul and Peshawar. This may be just; these may be errors, but they are errors not necessary or in any way connected with the policy of entering into Affghanistan. I may mention another circumstance—that the expedition into Affghanistan was undertaken under Lord Keane, who was shortly after succeeded by Sir W. Cotton; he came home, and was succeeded by General Elphinstone, who, from the time of assuming the command, never appears to have been in the state of vigorous health necessary for such a position. Are not these circumstances to be taken into account? If my Lord Auckland had had at his disposal any of those illustrious men who had honoured the British army in later days—if such a man as Lord Keane had remained in Cabul—my persuasion is, you would never have heard of such a disaster as that which took place at Cabul."
We shall leave the Whigs to settle the question with their subordinates, as to the precise degree of blame which each of the parties shall bear. But there is seldom blame with the servants without blame in the master; and it is one of Lord Ellenborough's just titles to our praise, that he has been ably served by the officers whom he so ably supported.
If our Affghan disasters were imputable to gross errors in detail, was it not right to denounce the cause? It would have been a melancholy thing if we had been thus betrayed and circumvented without errors in our own servants. If British troops had been thus cut off, notwithstanding the use of every prudent precaution, the disasters would then have gone far to put in question the invincibility of our military power. It was necessary to declare, that by individual and special mal-arrangement, this unparalleled disaster had arisen; so that none of our enemies should thence derive a hope to crush us again, until at least the incompetent officials of a confiding Whig Government should give them another such opportunity.
The proclamation of Simla had another purpose—that of announcing the future policy of the Government, and repudiating those designs of aggression and aggrandizement which there was too good ground for imputing to us, and which could not fail to inspire distrust and suspicion in the minds even of friendly neighbours. On this point nothing can be added to the admirable exposition of Lord Fitzgerald in the late debate:—
"But there were other circumstances which compelled the Governor-General of India; he meant, which made it his duty to proclaim the motives of the policy of the Government; and why? —because a different policy had been proclaimed by his predecessor; and when it became necessary to withdraw from Affghanistan, it was necessary to show that this was not a retreat. We were compelled to show that we were not shrinking from setting up a king, because we could not sustain him there. He said it was the duty of the Governor-General to make that known to the Indian public. He would not attempt to shelter Lord Ellenborough in this respect, by saying—'it was prudent,' or, 'it did no harm:'—he maintained it was his duty. What had been the language of the late Ministers of the Crown, in the last session of Parliament? And these debates, as the noble Earl had well said, 'went forth to India;' the discussions in that House went forth to the Indian public. He found one Minister of the Crown saying—'He should like to see the Minister, or the Governor of India, who would dare to withdraw from the position we occupied in Affghanistan.' (Hear, hear.) He found another noble lord, in another place, stating, 'they took credit for the whole of that measure, and he trusted that at no time would that position in Affghanistan be abandoned.' These were views of public policy which went forth to India, and it was not inconvenient nor unjust that those who administered the government of India on different principles should proclaim their views. The noble earl opposite, knew that at that period it was not intended altogether to confine the operations of the army to the westward of the Indus. It was very well to say, that it was unwise and impolitic, and calculated to destroy the unanimity which was so essential to the Government of India, to issue public information as to the reasons for the withdrawal of an army, although its advance was heralded by a declaration on all these points, because the withdrawal of an army was supposed to terminate the operations; but in the eyes of India and Asia, if the declaration of the noble earl, dated from Simla on the same day of the same month of a preceding year, had remained as a record of British policy after that declaration had been followed by a campaign, brilliant at its commencement, but as delusive as brilliant, and terminated by a most awful tragedy, and by the greatest disaster that ever befell the British forces—was it unbecoming in a Governor-General to state, that the views and policy of the Government of India had changed, and that the Government no longer wished to interfere in the policy of Affghanistan, its motives for so doing having passed away on finding that the king, represented to be so popular, was unpopular? But there was another circumstance which called for Lord Ellenborough's declaration, namely, the necessity of allaying the apprehensions and fears of other states; and it was Lord Ellenborough's duty to do this. Had the Sikhs no apprehensions with respect to our intentions on Lahore? The most serious apprehensions had been stated by the Durbar of Lahore to our political agent there, Mr. Clark, and had been represented by him to the Government of India.—Other states also had entertained apprehensions of the intentions and motives of the Indian Government, and he had yet to learn that it was a fault in a Governor-General to allay these apprehensions of native states, even if no precedent could be found for such a proceeding. After the policy of the Indian Government which had been proclaimed, it became Lord Ellenborough's duty to take the step he had done."
This, however, is the true gravamen of the quarrel of the Whigs with Lord Ellenborough. He has thrown overboard their aggressive policy—that policy which Lord Auckland, indeed, had not in words avowed in India, but which his friends at home had openly declared and gloried in. It was necessary for Lord Ellenborough, by a frank declaration of his intentions, to exclude the prevalent suspicion—nay, the universal belief—of those projects of encroachment which the Whig Government had countenanced. This was the unkindest cut of all.
"Ill-weaved ambition! how much art thou shrunk!"
It was hard that their Affghan laurels—the only wreaths of victory that the Whigs had ever won—should have already withered on their brow. It was hard that their disasters should have been retrieved under the sway of a political opponent. But it was intolerable that the plans of conquest which they had fondly cherished, and tried to press upon the country, should be virtually denounced amid the universal approbation of all good men at home and abroad; that the solitary achievement of their administration in military affairs, should be recorded in the page of history, only to be condemned as an act of injustice, inexcusably undertaken, and incompetently executed: and relinquished by their successors in the very hour of triumph, with a wise self-denial which no one will suspect that a Whig could have ever practised.
The cloven foot has here too plainly been revealed. It is not this phrase or that procession in particular that has displeased the Whigs. It is the abandonment of a policy which they dared not proclaim in India, and which they could not justify in England. They are always hankering after it still. Mr. Vernon Smith: "Considered it most absurd for any Governor General to declare publicly that our Indian empire had reached the limits which nature had assigned to it. Why, what were the limits which nature had assigned to our Indian empire? In early days, the Mahratta ditch was said to be its natural limit; and why was the Sutlej or the Indus to be more the boundary of our empire than the Himalayas?"
Even Lord John Russell, who now acknowledges the wisdom of surrendering Affghanistan, declares, in almost so many words, that his party have shrunk from a general vote of censure because they could not properly put it, and have chosen this Act as "not the worst," but the most convenient to attack. What the other errors of Lord Ellenborough are, or whether there are any, except the exploded story of the incivility to Mr. Amos, is nowhere definitely, discoverable in their discussions, and is not likely for some time to assume a greater degree of consistency than vague Whig calumnies and general Whig dissatisfaction. Let them come to something definite, and see how they will fare. If, as their old friend Lord Brougham said, "revelling in defeat, and intoxicated with failure," they know not when they have had enough—if they desire a contest on some other issue—let them name their day and abide the result.
In conclusion, we would only observe, what a contrast the conduct of the Whig party towards Lord Ellenborough exhibits to that of their opponents towards Lord Auckland! The ex Governor-General is not absent, but here to defend himself; and every one sees how much room there is for assailing his measures. Their calamitous result would of itself go far to support the charge of imprudence, or something worse. But not a word has been said against him that could be avoided; and even those statements that necessarily reflect upon his discretion, have been extorted from the Conservative party, in reply to the attacks which Lord Auckland's friends have made upon his successor. The English people admire fair play as much as they appreciate the value of practical benefits. They see the false pretences on which an absent man has now been assailed by disappointed opponents; they feel the generosity that has saved his rival from retaliation. They know the state of Indian affairs when Lord Ellenborough assumed his office, and they can estimate the position into which they have now been brought under his vigorous management. They agree with him in the pacific principles which he has avowed, and look forward to a continued career of useful services, in which the resources of that great empire will be more than ever developed under his control, and the power of the British name perpetuated by a wise, an upright, and a fearless Administration.