§ MR. GEORGE THOMPSON
Sir, in rising to address the House on the Motion of which I have given notice, it is my intention to be as brief as possible, and to avoid, if I can, giving occasion for controversy or debate. In renewing, at this late period, the discussion of the Sattara question, I yield to a sense of imperative duty, conceiving the subject eminently entitled to the consideration of the Government, and of this assembly, bound as that Government and this House arc, to watch over the exercise of the power which has been entrusted to the hands of a chartered company to govern a hundred millions of the subjects of Her Majesty. If I may be permitted to refer to the past debates in this House, I will do so to observe, that in my opinion this question has never yet been fairly dealt with. It has always been capable of solution, by a reference of the papers in the case, to the calm and judicial investigation of an impartial Committee, aided in their labours by the evidence of persons in this country, who have from time to time been concerned in the proceedings. 729 Such a tribunal would have found no difficulty in determining every point on which there has been a difference of opinion; nor any difficulty in reporting to the House the course which justice and good faith require should be taken. Such an investigation would have been of the highest importance, not only as tending to the just settlement of this particular question, but as contributing to the knowledge, so much needed, of the manner in which our vast possessions in India are ruled, and the treaties which have been concluded with native States are observed. Since this question was first brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose until the present time, the only request ever preferred has been, that the subject should be taken out of the arena of party conflict in this House, and be submitted to a Committee, to be decided according to the nature and value of the evidence produced. As far as the character of the late Rajah is concerned, and the fate of his family and subjects is affected by the opinions entertained of his guilt, I am prepared to demonstrate his entire and absolute innocence, by the exposure of the falsehood and worthlessness of every particle of the evidence collected to criminate him. The assertion, that "every opportunity was afforded to the Rajah of defending himself from the charges brought against him," is contradicted most flatly by the official documents which have been laid upon the table of this House. In the case of the first charge, the Rajah heard the depositions of two of the witnesses read to him in the Hindustanee language, but never was permitted to see a copy of the depositions in the Mahratta, and consequently never had the slightest chance afforded him of rebutting the testimony given against him. This was in 1836. Of the other charges he never heard a word until the 23rd of August, 1839, when he was called upon to sign the paper submitted to him by Sir James Carnac, the Governor of Bombay, and for refusing to do so, was dethroned eleven days afterwards. Now, Sir, if the friends of the late Rajah in this country have been able by an examination of the ex parte evidence, to unravel every part of the conspiracy against his Highness, and to prove the charges against him to be utterly false, how much more would the accused himself have been able most triumphantly to vindicate his character and conduct, if there had been an observance of the simplest 730 rules of justice, by placing the evidence taken against him in his hands. Sir, a memorial sent by the late Rajah to Lord Hardinge, the Governor General in 1844, and for four years kept back by the Indian authorities, has been described as a "preposterous humbug," because it was drawn up by a gentleman in this country, and sent to his Highness at Benares. For the truth of the contents of that document (which has at last been brought to light and laid before the House), I hold myself individually responsible. Sir, it was not until 1843 that the mass of secret papers in this case were ordered to be printed. It was not until the spring of 1844 that they were published, and they could only then be of service to the Rajah, by being examined by a person who could read them in the English, and was competent to analyse their contents. I devoted myself to the study of those papers, and drew up such a statement of the facts of the case as I thought would, if placed in the hands of his Lordship the Governor General, convince him that justice had not been done to the Rajah of Sattara. His Highness approved of my statement, and sent it through the hands of the official agent to the Governor General. That document has been denounced as "a humbug;" but, Sir, it has never been answered. It has been denounced as a "humbug;" but no single fact which it sets forth has been questioned. It has been denounced as "a humbug;" but by those who dare not meet me either here or elsewhere to debate its accuracy. I challenge the whole of the Ministerial bench to show that there is a statement in it which is contrary to truth. It is to this document that the agent of the Governor General (Major Carpenter) refers, in the following extract, from a despatch in the Secret Department, addressed to the Governor General:—When the Rajah was consigned to my charge, early in 1840, I considered it neeessary, for the efficient discharge of my duties, to make myself fully acquainted with the causes of his dethronement, his general reputation for intrigue, and other circumstances connected with his character and conduct, to enable me to form a just estimate of the man with whom I had to deal, and to guard against the consequences which might arise from any laxity of surveillance on my part. To this end I carefully studied the whole of the voluminous documents connected with his case, and the result was, a belief in his innocence; and this belief has been confirmed, beyond a doubt, by subsequent disclosures, and by his pledging himself to prove it, if permitted to do so, in his letter to Sir Henry Hardinge of the 12th December, 1844, 731 forwarded through me, and which pledge I am fully persuaded he is able to redeem.Had the prayer of that memorial been granted, I believe the Rajah would have been alive at this time, and sitting upon the throne of Sattara. But, Sir, the deposal of the Rajah was not the only act of injustice which was done. He was also stripped of his private property, and this brings me to a part of the subject connected with the present circumstances of the surviving family. The Rajah, though denied the opportunity of proving his innocence, was called upon to sign a paper admitting his guilt. It has been stated, that all his Highness was required to do was to renew the Treaty of 1819. This assertion is entirely at variance with the official papers. The articles submitted were perfectly new. The hon. Baronet shakes his head. Well, I will quote from an hon. Director, Mr. Shepherd, who has in his minute of dissent truly observed, that—The preamble of the conditions which his Highness was called upon to sign entangled him in an admission of guilt; it also involved the Government in the glaring inconsistency of propounding a principle, which required the strongest proofs of the Rajah's unworthiness to reign, as a necessary condition on which he was to continue on the guddee. Who will deny that his rejection of the proposal furnishes presumptive evidence of his innocence, and raises him more in the estimation of the world, than if he had ignominiously complied for the sake of retaining his sovereignty?This rejection of the article and preambles submitted by Sir James Carnac, led to the determination on the part of the Bombay Government to dethrone the Rajah, and accordingly, orders to that effect were sent to the Resident on the 30th of August, 1839. These instructions were from the pen of the Governor, and bore his signature. I entreat the attention of the House to the eighth paragraph of this letter:—8. You will be careful to provide, in the most effectual manner, for the personal comfort and convenience of the Rajah and his family, and to require the Sattara Government to furnish everything that may be necessary for their accommodation. He is, in fact, to be regarded and treated as an object of sympathy, and not of punishment. You will inform him that he will be permitted to reside within the honourable Company's territories, at such place as may be selected by the right honourable the Governor General of India, and that an annual allowance will be assigned from the Sattara revenues for the support and respectability of himself, and those members of his family who may choose to accompany him. Further, that all property belonging to him bonâ fide private, and not appertaining to the State, will, on his peaceable submission, not be interfered with,732 In this paragraph two things are distinctly and solemnly guaranteed: firstly, an annual allowance for the support of the Rajah and his family; and, secondly, the retention of all property not appertaining to the State. The condition on which the second pledge was given was strictly observed by the Rajah. Not only did the Rajah not offer any resistance, but he adopted the most effectual means of preventing any disturbance or conflict. For a time it appeared to be the intention of the Government to redeem the pledge respecting the private property, for the Rajah, while encamped a short distance from Sattara, received three official notes from the Resident, Colonel Ovans, in conformity with that pledge. I will read a brief extract from one of these notes, which is dated the 13th of September:—With reference to your Highness's private property, I beg to observe, that that will be at your own disposal, as distinguished from the public property of the State—namely, jewellery, robes, dresses, &c., money, furniture, plate, and other necessaries which your Highness may require. On your Highness intimating the same, I will order the articles to be sent to you.In order that no doubt may exist respecting the authenticity of these documents, I will quote an extract from a despatch written by Major Carpenter at Benares to Sir T. Maddock, the Secretary to the Supreme Government, November 15, 1840. Major Carpenter says—Par. 8. The ex-Rajah has in his possession three letters, signed by Colonel Ovans, the Resident at Sattara, and dated the 5th, 6th, and 13th of September, 1839, respectively, to the effect that his private property would be surrendered to him; and suggesting that lists of such portions thereof as he wished to take away, as well as of those articles he desired to leave in his palace, might be furnished, that which properly belonged to the State being retained.Major Carpenter then adds, in the next paragraph—9. I have carefully examined the documents referred to in the preceding paragraph, and therefore believe the statements it (viz., a letter from the ex-Rajah to the Resident, remonstrating against the claims of Appa Sahib to his private property), contains to be substantially correct; and if it be the pleasure of the right hon. the Governor General in Council, the originals or translation thereof shall be submitted to his Lordship's further consideration.In addition to these proofs of a solemn engagement to respect the private property of the Rajah, I may be permitted to quote from the minute of Sir James Carnac, forwarded to the Governor General and the Court of Directors, dated the 4th of September, 733 detailing his proceedings and intentions. In this he distinctly refers to the pledge given, that the Rajah should retain his private property, in addition to receiving an allowance for his permanent support. The Governor says—32. My instructions to the Resident enjoin, that every effort should he made to obviate collision, but that should such unhappily occur, that every precaution should he taken to prevent injury to the well-disposed, and to guard against irregularities on the part of our troops. They like wise enjoin that every attention be paid to the personal comfort and convenience of the Rajah and his family, and secure to him his private property and a suitable maintenance for his future support. The question of his future disposal is left for consideration hereafter. I have every confidence in Lieutenant Colonel Ovans' judgment and discretion, that he will secure that these instructions are scrupulously attended to.I am satisfied that no Member of this House, having these official documents before him, would conceive it possible that the Government of Bombay would afterwards confiscate the whole of the Rajah's property, and leave him without a single shilling beyond the allowance fixed for his maintenance. Yet, in a despatch to the Supreme Government, dated the 25th of November (eighty-six days after the pledge of Sir James Carnac), we find the determination expressed by the Council of Bombay, to consider the whole of the private property of the ex-Rajah forfeited, and the pension as satisfaction in full of all demands. The fact that the Rajah of Sattara was possessed of a very large amount of private property is not disputed. The Resident, Colonel Ovans, while under the impression that the pledge of the British Government would be redeemed, described in his despatches the manner in which the ex-Rajah had become possessed of his large wealth, namely, by appropriating a stated sum for the private expenses of himself and his family, and then laying aside the balance, which he either allowed to accumulate, or expended in jewels. Every previous Resident at the Rajah's Court is able to confirm the truth of this statement, and to prove that so scrupulously and accurately were the public accounts separated from the private, and the property belonging to the State distinguished from that which was personal, that no difficulty at any time existed in the way of accounting to the Rajah for that which was bonâ fide his own. The following is the view taken of this transaction by a member of the Court of Directors, Mr. Shepherd:—There can be no question but that the treasure 734 and jewels found in the palace were the fruits of the economical management of the Rajah's resources. Unlike the generality of native princes, he had governed his people with prudence and moderation, and restrained his own expenses within the limits of his income. The Bombay Government decided, however, that the property should be made over to the present Rajah, and that the ex-Rajah be informed that the pension is assigned to himself and his family in satisfaction of all demands whatever on the Government of Sattara. Such is likely to be the climax of the unhappy Rajah's fate. A prince who had been for many years, and up to a very late period, the deserving object of the Court's and the Government's highest favour and admiration, stripped of his raj and his property, he is now the degraded pensioner of that brother who assisted in his overthrow. To me, it appears that the confiscation and transfer of his property to the present Rajah is an additional penalty inflicted on this unfortunate prince, not warranted by any considerations whatever. Indeed, in the absence of a professional opinion, I must contend that the Act is illegal; the regulations of our Government guaranteeing to all our subjects the free possession of the property held by them until they shall be deprived of it by the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction. If I lamented the extreme measure of his deposal, more deeply do I lament this aggravated severity. It is the great prerogative of the home authorities to hold the balance of justice between our local governments and the natives of India. Removed far from the scene of action, they can review, with dispassionate calmness, every turn and movement of the actors; and whilst they are bound to afford every proper support to their own servants, it is equally their sacred duty to protect their native subjects, and to withhold their sanction from acts of oppression and injustice.Mr. Tucker, Sir C. Forbes, Mr. Cotton, General Robertson, Colonel Sykes—all took the same view of that question. Sir, on the arrival of the Rajah at his place of exile, he called upon the Governor-General's agent to take an inventory of the articles he had brought with him, which, with the exception of the personal ornaments of the female members of his family, were of very inconsiderable value; he also handed to the same agent a schedule specifying the property left behind him at Sattara; and I have no doubt that an inquiry would have established the perfect accuracy of the Rajah's statement. According to that schedule, and to all the other information which has reached me, the Rajah was deprived of property, bona fide private, of the value of not less than 300,000l. sterling. What then, Sir, becomes of the boasts which have been uttered in this House of the liberality of the East India Company? From the time the Rajah was dethroned until his death, he received (during a period of eight years) about 100,000l. in all, for the support of himself, his family, and 1,200 persons of all ranks 735 who followed him into banishment, and were entirely dependent upon him—or about one-third the amount of his private property, the savings of twenty years, and about one-fifteenth or sixteenth part of the revenues of the territory from which he had been driven. The liberality of the Company has cost them nothing, for every farthing has been taken from the treasury of Sattara—while they have secured to themselves, by the second treaty, the reversion of Jagheers, yielding 50,000l a year. Insinuations have been thrown out calculated to lead uninformed persons to suppose that the late Rajah had it in his power to expend lavish sums upon agitation in this country. It is true, that out of his allowance he found the means of supporting a native gentleman as his representative in this country; but it is not true that the Rajah, since his dethronement, has had it in his power, even if he had felt the wish, to spend any large sum for the advancement of his cause in England. The efforts which have been made in his behalf have been of the most spontaneous and disinterested character. No one in this assembly will imagine that Sir Gore Ouseley, Sir Charles Forbes, Sir Harford Jones Brydges, Alderman Salomons, General Briggs, Mr. John Sullivan, Mr. John Poynder, Mr. Charles Norris; and East India directors like General Robertson, Mr. Tucker, Mr. Shepherd, Mr. John Forbes, Colonel Sykes, Major Oliphant, and Mr. Cotton; or gentlemen like Serjeant Storks, Serjeant Gaselee, and Mr. Lewis, were in the habit of receiving bribes from the deposed Rajah of Sattara—yet all these gentlemen, and many more, have been strenuous advocates for the reopening of this case, and for its adjudication upon just and upright principles. Let the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Control cite, if he can, such a list of names from amongst those who, being free from any connexion with the proceedings against the Rajah, have come forward to oppose the claims of that prince to justice. It is true that, previous to his disposal, the Rajah expended a large sum of money in his endeavours to send agents to this country to complain of a breach of treaty by the Company; but that expenditure was necessary, because the Bombay Government refused a port clearance to the ships that would otherwise have brought those agents, and the Rajah was driven to the expedient of purchasing a vessel to convey his representatives to 736 these shores. The following extract from one of the despatches of Major Carpenter to the Government of India, will show how far the Rajah possessed the means of keeping up an agitation here, and will also throw some light upon the question of his private property:—'The Rajah informs me that since his deposition he has been much distressed for want of funds, which I really believe to be the case, and I know he has not oven had the means of purchasing necessary clothing for his family since their arrival in Benares, as my advances to him have been merely sufficient to subsist his family, followers, and cattle, lest I should exceed the spirit of your instructions.' [With regard to the private property Major Carpenter observes] 'I have taken pains to ascertain from what source the said property was derived, and it appears that in Captain Grant's time two treasuries were established by that officer's advice—the one private, in which the sums allotted for the support of the prince and his family were deposited; the other for the public purposes of the State, wherein there were upwards of six lacs and 40,000 rupees, at the time the Rajah was dethroned, which form no part of his claim; but be declares the whole of the money, jewels, and other property, claimed by him as private, are the savings of his privy purse, or surplus of the private treasury.But I may be asked to show in what way these facts bear upon the present state of the case, and I will, therefore, briefly describe the condition of the Rajah's family and followers, who are now at Benares. Since the death of the Rajah, on the 13th of October last, not a shilling has been received by the Rajah's widow, or the adopted son, from the British Government. Application was made to the agent for the means of defraying the funeral expenses; and the President of the Board of Control, in answer to a question which I put to him, stated, that 50,000 rupees had been offered for that purpose, and had been refused, because not accompanied by a pledge to continue to the family the ten thousand rupees, monthly allowance, made to the late Rajah. [Sir J. C. HOBHOUSE: He would not give a receipt.] Such, I undertake to say, are not the real facts of the case. The money, I admit, was offered and declined; but not for the reason stated, but because the agent would not take a receipt in the name of the adopted son, who was the only person entitled to receive or to acknowledge the proffered sum. I am also informed that other moneys have been declined for the same reason. I can scarcely suppose the right hon. Gentleman to be so ill-informed respecting the laws and usages ot the Hindoos, as not to know that neither the Ranee nor the Minister could receive 737 the money, except in the name and by the authority of the son; or that he can fail to be aware of the fact that the youth who has been adopted stands in precisely the same position as a son born of the body of the late Rajah. Sir, I see no reason why 800 persons should be left without the means of subsistence, because those upon whom they depend refuse to violate the immemorial and universal custom of their own country. If I have been rightly informed, the sum of 2,500 rupees, monthly, has been offered to the Rajah's widow for the maintenance of her establishment. This, if it be the case, cannot be received, except on behalf of her son, and in his name; and if it could, it would be utterly insufficient for the support of the family and their 800 dependants. But, Sir, why is this course of treatment adopted, while the Company are accountable before man and before God for the whole of the private property of which I have been speaking, and are at this moment in possession of the territory and revenues of Sattara? It may be said that the Rajah had no rights, or that, having died, his rights have died with him. But, Sir, the pledge that he should enjoy the possession of his private property, was given before his deposal—it was part and parcel of the measure decided upon—his private property was guaranteed in the very document that described him as a guilty man, and directed that he should be dethroned; and there is not a lawyer, either in this country or in India, who would dispute the Rajah's right to adopt a son as his heir to the personal property of which he died possessed, or to which he might be declared legally entitled. We ask, therefore—and we have reason, and justice, and the solemn pledge of a British Governor, and all law human and divine on our side—that the property taken from the father at the time of his deposal be accounted for to his son and heir. We ask, too, that, pending the question of succession to the raj, the living and legal representative of the late Rajah shall enjoy the stipend assigned to his father. To what purpose more just and lawful can the revenues of Sattara be applied? But we ask more, and we think we do not ask too much. We ask that the adopted son of the late Rajah be placed on the guddee, and succeed to the sovereignty of his father, according to the Treaty of 1819, by which the territory of Sattara, as an independent sovereignty, was ceded to Pertaub Sing, 738 his "heirs and successors in perpetuity." What says one of the highest authorities on this subject, the late Chairman of the Court of Directors, Mr. Tucker?—Admitting that the Rajah was guilty of an infraction of the treaty, it does not follow that it was such as to cause his blood to he attainted. If the Rajah should have no legitimate issue, it was competent to him to adopt, and his heir might be perfectly innocent, and be justly entitled to the inheritance under the treaty.And again he says—The Government of Bombay seem to anticipate that the principality may escheat at no distant period to our Government by the demise of Appa Sahib; but the principality is hereditary, and should the Rajah leave no issue or natural heirs, he may adopt, and adoption with a Hindoo is not only a right but a duty. I have the highest authority for stating, that even in the case of a fief or dependency, a legal adoption cannot be barred by the Government or lord paramount.These opinions I know to be those of gentlemen profoundly versed in questions relating to adoption amongst the Hindoos. Let me quote one other passage, taken from the petition presented by the hen. Member for Montrose the other night, and signed by a number of respectable and influential East India proprietors. They say by their petition—That the raj (kingdom) of Sattara having recently become vacant by the death of Appa Sahib, the late Rajah, they have heard with the greatest surprise and concern that the assumed guilt of the Rajah, Pertaub Sing, is advanced as a pretext against the admission of the claims of the rightful heir under the treaty of September, 1819. But they humbly pray that such member of the Rajah's family as fills the character of 'heir' in the terms and according to the true meaning of the treaty, may be recognised and admitted as his successor, and that this House will not permit the violation of that treaty, by sanctioning any act, in contravention of the rights of such 'heir,' secured and guaranteed as those rights are by the faith of the British nation.Sir, I must now beg permission to trespass upon the attention of the House for a few moments, while I attempt to show, as I believe I shall be able to do, that the dethronement of the Rajah was a direct and flagrant violation of statute law, made and provided in such cases; and that the whole of the proceedings of the Indian authorities are null and void, when tried by that law. By the 33rd Geo. III., chap. 52. sect. 48, it is enacted—That forasmuch as to pursue schemes of con-quest and extension of dominion in India are measures repugnant to the wish, the honour, and the policy of this nation, it shall not be lawful, either for the Governor General of India, or for the governor of any presidency, to make or issue any order for commencing hostilities, or levying 739 war, or to negotiate or conclude any treaty with any Indian prince or state (except in cases of sudden emergency, or imminent danger, when it shall appear dangerous to postpone such hostilities or treaty), unless in pursuance of express orders from the Governor General in Council, or from the Secret Committee, by the authority of the Board of Control.Had Sir James Carnac the "express orders," which by this Act he was required to possess, before he was competent to commence hostilities, or conclude a treaty? He had nothing of the kind. He was sent out expressly to assure the Rajah of the friendly feelings of the home authorities, and to treat him with the favour and respect shown to him in former years, before the conspiracy against him commenced. There may be those in this House who are ignorant of the view taken of the proceedings against the Rajah by the Supreme Government of India, after the whole of the evidence had been laid before them, and I will therefore read a brief extract from one of the last despatches on the subject, addressed from Calcutta to the Government of Bombay, and leave hon. Gentlemen to judge whether it points to the dethronement of the Rajah and the seizure and confiscation of his private property:—His Lordship in Council would close the proceedings, apprising the Rajah that, although several suspicious circumstances regarding his Highness has been dieted during the progress of this inquiry, yet the British Government is unwilling, without the clearest proof of guilt, to condemn any of its allies, especially one who has been so pre-eminently the object of its favour and generosity; that further investigation is deemed inexpedient with reference to the general inconvenience it creates; and that the right hon. the Governor in Council is therefore pleased to close the inquiry, with the expression of his hope that the Rajah will so conduct himself for the future as to avoid the predicament (no less painful to the British Government than to his Highness) in which he has been recently placed.Here, then, is the deliberate judgment of the Supreme Government, ignorant at the time, altogether, that the Resident at Sattara had in his possession the indubitable and conclusive proof that the very evidence upon which this judgment was pronounced was a mass of perjury, and that the Rajah of Sattara was an innocent as the Governor General of India of the crimes laid to his charge. After the despatch already cited, we have one addressed to the authorities at the India House, expressing the Governor General's pain at the proceedings of the Bombay Government, and stating that he had ordered those proceedings 740 to be brought to a close. In perfect sympathy with the Government of India, we find the Court of Directors writing a despatch, dated the 22nd of January, 1839—at a time, be it remembered, when the whole of the evidence was before them, save the proofs of the Rajah's innocence, and of the plot to destroy him, which were in the secret keeping of Colonel Ovans, in which despatch, they (the Directors) say, that it is their "decided opinion that it would not only be a waste of time, but seriously detrimental to the character of their government, to carry on any further inquiry into the matter." One of two things was wanting to make the deposal of the Rajah a legal act—an express command from the homo authorities, or open and declared hostility on the part of the Rajah. Sir James Carnac had no authority from homo, and the Rajah had never been charged even with anything worse than a secret design to injure the British Government. The deposal of the Rajah, therefore, was in direct contravention of the imperial statutes of this realm, and a violation of the unrepealed provisions of the charter, granted in 1793. It will be equally a violation of the charter and the law of the land, should the local government in India place any other prince on the throne, or make any disposition of the Sattara territory, without the express command of the home authorities. Sir, I have before, when discussing this question, laid considerable stress, and I think properly so, upon the fact that the intercepted correspondence between the Rajah and his most confidential agents and friends, for three years previous to the dethronement, was found to contain nothing contrary to the letter or spirit of the treaty which placed the Rajah on the throne. It has been imputed, however, to the native gentleman who represents the family of the Rajah in this country, I mean Rungoo Bapojee, that when at Bombay, in 1838, he wrote certain letters to his sovereign, which contained treasonable matter. Now, Sir, I hold in my hands the correspondence extracted from the blue books which have been laid on the table, and I challenge the most skilful lawyer in this House to lay his finger on a sentence that can be made to show that a feeling of hostility towards the British Government dictated the writing of any one of these letters. They refer, it is true, in some parts, to the political events then occurring, or anticipated; but they merely convey the information 741 which was furnished to the writer in conversation with two of the Company's officers, Mr. Baber, a magistrate, and Dr. Milne, the medical superintendent at Bombay. Yet, these are the documents, and the only ones selected out of hundreds, to prove that the late Rajah carried on a treasonable correspondence. Sir, I shall not at any great length trespass upon the attention of the House. My excuse for what I have said is, that I deemed it important to bring these facts, some of them new, under the attention of Parliament, and particularly of the right hon. Baronet, in the hope that it may receive at the hands of the Government the consideration to which I think it is fairly entitled. The present state of the affairs of Sattara affords the Indian authorities a favourable opportunity of setting at rest a question of deep interest to many beyond these walls, and to some at least who are within them. The point which I would particularly urge on their attention is that of the succession and the claims, both by consanguinity and adoption, of the young Rajah, now at Benares. Should I be told by the President of the Board of Control that there are many nice points of law involved in this question, some of which might be argued and determined against the adoption of Shahoo Maharaj, I will observe, in anticipation of such an objection, that, admitting the question to he one that might be litigated, if there existed any rivals, there is really no impedient whatever in the path of the right hon. Baronet, or of the Court of Directors, since they have only to decide in favour of the adopted son, who is undoubtedly the nearest relation to both the deceased Rajahs, in order to enable that person to ascend the guddee with the consent and approbation of all parties concerned. I earnestly hope that this subject will receive attentive and generous consideration, and that no objections will be gratuitously urged by the Government in bar of the indisputable claim, on all moral and equitable grounds, of the young prince on whose behalf I make my present appeal. A decision in favour of that individual would be one alike honourable to the Government and satisfactory to all those who have taken a view similar to my own of this question. It would heal remaining wounds, it would be regarded as some reparation of the wrongs that are complained of, and end those discussions which, unless such a decision be arrived at, are likely to go on, both here 742 and elsewhere, until something like justice is obtained. I know I shall be reminded of the small numbers who have voted with me at the India House, in comparison with the gross number of qualified holders of East India stock. I do not deny the fact that I have almost invariably been in a minority; but the majority has been composed of the Directors voting in their own favour, of the members of the Bye-law Committee, of the relatives and friends of the parties implicated, and of those who attend and vote with the Directors, in the hope and expectation of sharing in the immense patronage which the Executive body have at their disposal. Sir, if I have been in a minority, I have only been treated as another member of that Court, Mr. John Poynder, who, though for many years a conspicuous and zealous advocate of an important religious question, has never been favoured with the support or presence of one of the hundred clerical gentlemen who are proprietors of stock. There are other and more impartial tribunals to be appealed to, and to these we must resort should we be compelled, sustained by the conviction that the truth is mighty, and must ultimately prevail. Such appeals will, I trust, be rendered unnecessary by the course shortly to be adopted by the Indian authorities. Happy shall I be to witness the final settlement of this long-debated question, and to tender my humble but sincere thanks to those who have contributed to bring it about. Grateful to the House for its attention to my observations, I shall conclude by moving—That in the opinion of this House it is required, by justice and good faith, that the private property of the late Rajah of Sattara, Pertaub Sing, of which he was possessed at the time of his deposal, and which was seized in violation of the written pledge of Sir James Carnac, the Governor of Bombay, should be transferred to Shahoo Maharaj, the adopted son of the late Rajah, or compensation be made in lieu thereof.
SIR J. HOBHOSE
, referring to the numerous discussions which had taken place upon this subject, and to the impossibility of stating a single fact with which the select audience whom the hon. Member had been addressing [there were not more than a dozen Members present]as not painfully familiar, thought that he would stand absolved from blame if he were to abstain from making any observations on the present occasion. In order, however, that the hon. Member might not 743 have any ground of complaint, he would, trusting that the House would bear with him, once more go over the ground which had been so often travelled before, and state the reasons which induced him to come to a conclusion respecting the Sattara grievance directly opposite to that at which the hon. Member had arrived. The right hon. Baronet detailed the facts of the case, drawing from it the same deduction as that which he formerly submitted to the consideration of the House. With respect to the private property of the ox-Rajah, the hon. Member's observations were nothing but a continuation of the debate of the 11th July. The real truth was that Pertaub Sing had no private property at all when he was elevated to the throne by Mr. Elphinstone. When he was deposed he left behind him several lacs of rupees; but the Government of India decided that this was state property, and not private property. A sum of not less than 3,000l. a year had been assigned to his family as a provisional allowance until a final arrangement could be made, and about 2,000l. a year had been settled upon his eldest daughter, who had retired with it to Benares, attended by a large number of the ex-Rajah's followers. He (Sir John Hobhouse) could assure the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Thompson) that there was no intention on the part of the Government of India to act otherwise than justly in the case. He might depend upon it, that every consideration would be given to the wants of the family. He was not now talking of the question of the succession of the Shahoo Maharaj to the throne, but respecting the wants of the family, and the hon. Gentleman might take his assurance that they should be properly attended to. With respect to the succession, he was not prepared to decide the question off-hand. There were various opinions respecting the rights of the adopted son to the throne. He admitted, with the hon. Gentleman, that the boy adopted by Pertaub Sing had been adopted according to all the Hindoo forms and customs, and was entitled to any private property belonging to the adopting father; but the right to succeed to the throne was another question altogether. The hon. Gentleman knew, also, that the brother, the reigning prince, had adopted a son on his death-bed; but the British Resident was away at the time, and as the paramount Power had not concurred in that adoption, it was not a political adoption; so that the two adoptions might be considered as on a 744 par with each other. Whether the young man adopted by the late Rajah Appa Sahib, or the one adopted by the deposed Rajah, should succeed, was a great question, to which the Government would have to apply itself; as also whether one of these should be chosen at all, or whether it would be wise to set up any person whatever over the territory of Sattara as its future ruler—these were questions to be considered hereafter by the Government of India. As he had told the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Thompson) the other day, no opinion had yet been given by Lord Dalhousie, who in a letter received by the last mail had expressed his regret that he (Lord Dalhousie) had not yet received the necessary information from the Bombay Government, and had stated that when the expected despatches arrived from Bombay, the subject would receive immediate attention by himself and council. If he might be permitted to do so, he would take the liberty of giving the hon. Member a little advice. The hon. Member was personally acquainted with India, and no doubt felt considerable interest in its welfare and prosperity. The hon. Gentleman could not be influenced by a few grains of personal advantage. Let him then direct those abilities which he undoubtedly possessed, not to the detraction of the dead, but to the eulogium of the living. India afforded a field for the display of every virtue, and men were not found wanting when the occasion presented itself. It was only yesterday that the Government received the news of a great exploit performed by a British officer, young in years, and only a subaltern in rank, who performed it under every disadvantage, unaided, and it might be said alone, for he had not the assistance of a single fellow-countryman, or even one of his own colour. In one month, alone, and, as he had said before, quite unaided, with levies which he had raised himself only a month before, and which he bad himself disciplined, under a burning sun, in countries inundated by great rivers, that young man overthrew a formidable foe, and by his own right hand and sagacious head saved, he might say, from great peril a distant part of our Indian empire. The hon. Gentleman would, he was sure, find more satisfaction in adding to the praises which would be for ever, he thought, bestowed on Lieutenant Edwardes, than in finding fault with what he considered to be the misdeeds of Colonel Ovans.
§ MR. HUME
cordially united with the 745 right hon. Baronet who had just sat down, in the eulogium which he had pronounced on the gallant and successful achievements of Lieutenant Edwardes, and deeply regretted that the existing regulations prevented that officer from receiving the honours and rewards he so eminently merited. As that officer was only a subaltern in the service, he could not even receive the title of C.B. He hoped that some alteration would be made that would enable the right hon. Baronet to do justice to the claims of that gallant officer. [Sir JOHN HOBHOUSE: It is already done.] He was extremely glad to hear it. He would now briefly refer to the question before the House. He agreed in the desirableness, as a general rule, of not introducing Indian questions into that House; but when acts of oppression and cruelty were committed, and appeals for redress were rejected elsewhere, it was then right that the matter should be brought before Parliament, and the present was a case of that description. As for the numerous decisions at the India House which had been referred to them, they were merely decisions not to reopen the case, or to correct the original error—they were not decisions on the merits of the case. In fact, for the most part they had been votes of adjournment, and had no reference to the specific questions which had been debated. There was much which might be urged in excuse for those who had in the first instance come to a hasty decision upon the subject. They were utterly unacquainted with the merits of the question when they so decided. Although the right hon. Baronet had expressed his opinion of the guilt of the Rajah, he (Mr. Hume) begged to express his own honest conviction that Pertaub Sing was ruined by as foul a conspiracy as ever disgraced the annals of this empire. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of persons advocating the cause of the Rajah for hire; but he and others who had taken up that question could never be accused of any such motive; they had only taken up the cause from a conviction that the Rajah had been so ruined by conspiracy. With regard to the question of the Rajah's private property, the right hon. Baronet was altogether under a mistake. He had lately seen copies of a letter containing a list of the private property delivered to Colonel Ovans, to which private property the Rajah's heir was actually entitled. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that it was not determined which was, or was not, the 746 private property of the late Rajah; but he had forgotten that Captain Grant Duff, the first Resident, decided the question, and set aside what might be called "the civil list" of the Rajah, which was for his own private use, and had been sanctioned by Government, and it was out of that very civil list that he had saved the lacs of rupees which had been referred to. If any prince ever deserved the thanks of the British Government it was the Rajah of Sattara; and it was unjust that his savings during his reign should be withheld from him while living, and from his family when dead. It had been said, that if the Rajah was guilty, he had no right to adopt a successor to the throne. That word "if" involved the whole question; for he contended the Rajah had never been proved guilty, since he had not been permitted to be heard in his own defence—he had never had a hearing. It had been said that this subject had been frequently before the Directors; but that body had always been judges in their own cause, and he could not forget that the truth once leaked out in a despatch sent home to Sir James Carnac, who said, that should the Rajah Appa Sahib die without issue, the territory would revert to the Company, and they would thus gain a revenue of 180,000l. or 200,000l. a year. The right hon. Gentleman had said he would, without hesitation, see justice done. He would take him at his word, and wait to see him fulfil his pledge. After repeating his anxiety to see the question fairly and equitably decided, the hon. Gentleman resumed his seat.
§ SIR H. WILLOUGHBY
vindicated the character and motives of Sir James Carnac, who on his return to England had explained and justified his conduct. He contended that the Rajah had broken the second and fifth articles of the treaty, which, whether right or wrong, he was bound to observe. The Rajah, as a sovereign prince, could not have a formal judicial trial. The question was one of treaty, and a violation of the treaty carried with it a forfeiture of the sovereignty. With respect to the private property, he trust-the Government would treat it in the most handsome and liberal manner. The Rajah, according to the statements of the hon. Mem-for the Tower Hamlets, had received during his exile 100,000l., which was one-third of the private property. He agreed that it was inexpedient that Vakeels should come to this country; and he thought 747 the gentleman who sat under the gallery (Runjoo Bapogee) had broken a pledge to return to India, when money was advanced for the purpose. He concluded by repeating the expression of his hope that the East India Company and the local government would take care that there should be a just settlement of the question of private property, and would see that those whom the Rajah had left behind him were treated in a liberal and generous manner. He would not discuss the question of the succession, but leave it to be considered hereafter if it was considered worth while to raise it.
§ MR. GEORGE THOMPSON
I have but little to say in reply to the right hon. Baronet, who, I must say, has not grappled with the two main branches of the question before the House, namely, the confiscation of the private property, and the illegality of the dethronement. He has said nothing of the violation of the solemn pledge of the British Governor, nor even condescended to notice the official documents which I placed before the House to prove the engagement which was entered into, and the actual existence of the property of which the Rajah was deprived. I have now a letter before me, written by Colonel Ovans, describing his property, and the manner in which it had been accumulated, and stating that there would be no difficulty in discriminating between what was public and state property, and what was private and personal. All this property was acquired by thrifty management of that part of his revenue which the Rajah had, from the commencement of his reign, set aside for his personal expenses. If I wanted further proof, I would quote the admission of the right hon. Baronet, that a large amount of treasure was left by the Rajah, which was applied by his brother to certain purposes which he has described. In fact, there had been no defence of this act of spoliation. The existence of the property was proved by the Governor's letter and pledge, by his despatch to the supreme authorities, by the letters of Colonel Ovans, by the detailed inventory of the property which had been made out, and by the admissions of the right hon. Baronet himself. All that had been advanced went to prove the violation of as distinct a pledge as had ever been given by any British Governor in any part of the world; and unless justice was at length done, the transaction would bring indelible disgrace upon all parties concerned in 748 it. I will put this case to the President of the India Board. Suppose the Rajah had taken advantage of the five days which intervened between the receipts of the written pledge of the Governor, and the hour of his deposal, and had employed them in bringing together all his moveable property in treasure, jewels, and other things, and had made them ready to accompany him on his departure from the capital, would not the letter of the Governor have fully authorised the Resident to consent to their removal, and would not the Rajah thus have had the benefit of the engagement which had been voluntarily given? The Rajah, however, had unlimited confidence in the word of the Governor, and the honour and good faith of the British Government, and his reward was to be deprived of everything which he had intrusted to the care of the Bombay Government. I was curious to know the views of the right hon. Baronet in reference to the opinion I ventured to express of the legal character of the act of deposal. Conversant, as he must be, with the statutes framed to regulate the affairs of India, he cannot have overlooked the Act of 1793, to which I so particularly referred, and which, according to my view, rendered it incompetent to the Indian authorities to depose the Rajah, or enter into any treaty with his brother. On this subject the Minister of the Crown has been profoundly silent, although it is one of vital importance, and has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the Rajah. I commend the matter to his serious consideration, both as relating to past proceedings and as hearing upon the future acts of the Government of India. I am sorry that so many irrelevant topics have been introduced into this debate, and especially that it should have been deemed necessary to revert to what I formerly said respecting Sir James Carnac. Sir, should I discover that I have been led to make any statement detrimental to the character of any living person, and above all to the memory of any one dead, upon false information, I can assure the House, there is not a person living who would be more ready than myself to offer the most ample reparation. The right hon. Gentleman will allow me to refer to the condition on which I undertook to make good my charges against certain persons, namely, that there should be a Committee before whom I might produce the witnesses required to substantiate my allegations. I have never been able to obtain 749 such an inquiry cither hero or at the India House. I thank the right hon. Baronet for the counsel he has so kindly given me to-night regarding my future course in this House. I receive his advice in the spirit in which it was conveyed, and shall follow it.
§ Motion withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at half-past Six.