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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - April 1843 by Various

Part 6 out of 6

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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

"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

"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

"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

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

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.

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