The Extinction Of Monopoly

A.D. 1812 TO A.D. 1833

The Act of Parliament which inaugurates this period did not entirely

extinguish the monopoly of the East India Company; that was reserved

for the Act which marked its close. Yet the one promulgated in 1813

was sufficiently wide in its scope to partake of the nature of a

revolution; for although the trade with China--chiefly tea--remained

on its old close footing, that
ith India was thrown open to any one

who possessed a licence, such licences not to be solely obtainable

through the Council of Directors, but also through the Board of

Control. But there were two additional clauses in the bill which,

though grafted in upon it during its lengthy passage through

Parliament, were of more gravity than some of original import. One was

the forming of a regular Church Establishment in India--a formal

declaration, as it were, of the creed of the new master; the other the

inclusion of missionaries as persons to whom a licence to pursue their

trade might be given. Taken together, these two clauses went far

towards an admission that it was the duty of England to uphold her own

faith. The speeches that were delivered for and against these clauses

in Parliament are excellent reading; perhaps the most informing of

them being one by Sir J. Sutton, who, attempting to hedge, as it were,

objected to the open avowal in the clause that persons were to be sent

to India for "the introduction of religious and moral improvement," as

calculated to alarm and annoy, and suggested that the words "various

lawful purposes" should be used instead. The suggestion was treated

seriously; Mr Wilberforce, the great speaker on the missionary side,

assuring his hearers that it was extremely unlikely that the natives

of India would ever read the clause, and ending with an impassioned

assertion that unless actual mention of religion was made in the Act

it would stand tantamount to a decision that though Christianity was

the faith of England, the creeds of Brahma and Vishnu were to be

upheld by England in India. There was a strong religious party in the

House, representing a stronger one in England. And feeling had been

roused by Lord Minto's refusal to allow certain Baptist missionaries

to print, publish, and disseminate pamphlets calculated to arouse

indignation amongst the people of other faiths. So, despite a very

able protest from Mr Marsh, who asserted that it must be remembered

that the people "we wished to convert were in the main a moral and a

virtuous people, not uninfluenced by such ideas as give security to

life, and impart consolation in death," the clause was passed.

There is also an excellent speech made by Mr Tierney on the Commerce

question, in which he pertinently remarks that amongst all the

benefits which he was told were to accrue to the people of India from

free trade, he had never heard even of a proposal to allow one

manufacture of India to be freely imported into Great Britain! But

such remarks were of no more avail then than they are nowadays, when

the manufactures of India are stinted by the duty on cotton twists,

and her markets glutted by free Manchester muslins.

The whole history of the cotton trade, in truth, is grievous. At this

time, when Parliament was piously purposing to preach to so-called

heathen the religion which claims first place as teaching the duty of

doing to others as you would be done by, the woven goods of India

could have been sold in England at rates 50 and 60 per cent. cheaper

than similar goods manufactured in England. What then? Were they so

sold? or sold at a price which would have brought wealth to the

miserably poor Indian craftsman? No! The mills of Paisley and

Manchester were protected by a duty of 70 and 80 per cent. on these

Indian goods, thus sacrificing those to whom we wished to teach

Christianity to those who, at any rate, said they had that faith.

Ere going on to the events of the next few years it must be mentioned

that the East India Company, while vehemently protesting, had some

sops thrown to it by this Act. One was that the "commercial profits of

the Company were not in future to be liable for any territorial

payments until the dividend claims had been satisfied." This was

extremely comforting. Furthermore, L1,000,000 sterling was to be set

aside from the surplus revenue (when it existed, but up to the present

it had not) to meet any failure.

With this, and a few more scraps of comfort, H.M.E.I.C.S. had to be

satisfied and start fair with a new Governor-General, Earl Moira. One

is irresistibly reminded, when following this history of English

dealings with India, of the fable concerning King Log and King Stork;

for after a calm, there comes invariably a storm. How many

governor-generals have not sailed out to India, loudly protesting

peace, prepared at all points to uphold the non-interference clause?

How many have sailed back again with reputations either marred, in

English eyes, by change of policy, or kept intact by leaving behind to

their successors a state of affairs out of which war was the only


Earl Moira, therefore, suffered from Lord Minto's efforts after

economy by his undue reduction of the army, by his refusal to see what

was going on around him. So the first thing to be faced was the

necessity for war in Nepaul if the boundaries of Oude were to be

preserved intact. Hitherto Great Britain had been pacific over

invasion to the point of pusillanimity, dreading, and not without just

cause, a campaign amid the ascending peaks and passes of the

Himalayas, backed by the unknown regions of its eternal snows.

But at last these dangers had to be faced. It took a whole year of

hill-fighting in the finest scenery in the world, and in a climate

which must have been some compensation for other hardships, ere a

treaty of peace was signed at Segowlie, by which England gained in

perpetuity the magnificent provinces of Kumaon and Gharwal.

Meanwhile, India was not happy. The well-meaning Western attempt to

raise money by a house-tax in large cities had nearly brought about an

insurrection in Benares, where the pandits had, not without cause,

claimed the whole city as a place for worship, and as such exempt;

while an assessment for municipal police led to hard fighting at


But by this time Earl Moira's eyes had been opened. On every side he

saw dangers to the State-politic which could not be averted save by

action. The predatory system, so often the curse of divided India,

was in full swing. In truth, no power wielded sufficient authority to

keep the others in order. What was happening in 1815 was what would

happen in 1915 if the alien rulers of India were to adopt a policy of

non-interference. The Pindarees were the chief offenders; since time

immemorial their hordes of free-booting horsemen had been a terror,

and of late years they had aided and abetted the Mahrattas. But,

despite growing atrocities, it was not until 1816 that Parliament

would permit them to be coerced.

Meanwhile, Rajputana was smouldering. After the murder of the Emperor

Farokhsir the various states fell into the hands--as did almost all

India--of the Mahrattas; not without hard fighting, not without

bitter beatings, and still more bitter upbraiding, as when after one

defeat the Rana of Oudipore made a common courtesan carry the Great

Sword-of-State, avowing that in "such degenerate times it was no

better than a woman's weapon."

So matters had gone on from bad to worse, while Scindiah, dissociating

himself from the Peishwa, became paramount, until in 1778 Rajah Bhim

came to the throne of Mewar (Oudipore, Chitore). During his reign

Scindiah and Holkar fought almost continuously over the hills and

dales of Rajputana, and the former threw the weight of his savage

influence into the pitiful tragedy of Kishna Kumari, the Virgin

Princess. Her story is well known, but if only for the strangeness of

such an incident being possible in the nineteenth century, and in a

court where Englishmen came and went, it may be given here.

Kishen Kumari, the Virgin Kishen, was beautiful exceedingly. She was

promised in marriage to the chief of Jeypore. Scindiah, incensed at

non-payment of a claim by the latter, opposed this in favour of the

chief of Marwar; and in the ensuing struggle to the death, Bhim Singh,

seeing ruin before him, determined to sacrifice his daughter's life as

the only way of ending the strife.

They tried to poniard her, she standing calm; but the dagger fell from

the hand of the brother appointed, as one of sufficient rank, to the

deed. Then they tried poison. She drank it three times calmly, bidding

her grief-distracted mother remember that Rajput women were marked out

for sacrifice from birth, and that she owed her father gratitude for

letting her live so long. But the poison refused its work; so, as

calmly, she asked for a kasumba draught to make her sleep. It was

prepared. Sweet essence of flowers, sweet syrup of fruits, concealed

the deadly dose of opium; she laid herself down and slept, never to


A terrible tale, which merits the comment made on it by old Sagwant

Singh, chief of Karradur, who, riding hard for Oudipore, flung himself

breathless from his horse with the quick query: "Does the princess

live?" And hearing the negative, went on without a pause up the stone

steps of the palace, through the wide courtyard, adown the passage,

till he found Maharajah Bhim upon his throne. Then he unbuckled his


"My ancestors," rang out the passionate, protesting old voice, "have

served yours for thirty generations. To you, my king, I dare say

nothing, but never more will sword of mine be drawn in your service."

So, laying it with his shield at the feet of the weakling, he left.

A fine old Rajput was Sagwant Singh; one feels glad he said his say.

This, however, is by the way. Nine years after it happened--that

is to say, in 1819--after the war with the Pindarees (which, of

course--since war is ever bred of war in India--involved hostilities

with the Peishwa, with Holkar, with Scindiah, with all the native

states, briefly, who tried to bar the progress of the new master),

Rajputana found itself eager to claim alliance with a power which,

instead as of old protesting against protection, was now not only

willing to grant it, but prepared to make its promise good against all


For once, then, in the sweeping changes which the year ending in 1819

brought about, the English gave as good as they got. No great battle

had been fought, but Scindiah was humbled, Holkar's aggressions had

been stopped, the Peishwa's very name had disappeared, and on all

sides alliances had been formed--durable alliances, which would no

longer require the sword to enforce them.

And all this arose out of Parliament's hesitating admission that

certain predatory robbers must be restrained, and Earl Moira's wise

interpretation of that scant assent into action which, after two weary

years, settled the great territorial question of India as only it

could be settled; that is to say, as the Earl (afterwards Lord

Hastings) phrases it: "by the establishment of universal tranquillity

under the guarantee and supremacy of England."

But the Gurkha or Nepaulese war, and the third and final Mahratta war,

unfortunately, only form part of Lord Hastings' work. He was not so

happy in dealing with the question of Oude. It had simmered for long:

the Nawab, who had been encouraged by Lord Minto, complaining of the

interference of the Resident; the Resident complaining of obstinate

obstruction on the part of the Nawab. In the middle of the quarrel

Sa'adut-Ali died, leaving treasure, despite his plea of poverty, to

the amount of L13,000,000. He was succeeded easily, quietly, with the

help of British influence, by his eldest son, who, to show his

gratitude, offered one of his father's millions to the Company as a

gift. It was accepted as a loan at the usual rate of interest, 6 per


But the young Nawab was even more turbulent than his father, and when

a second million was asked for on the same terms as the first, took

the opportunity of practically demanding the withdrawal of the

Resident. Now it is impossible to be harsh with a potentate who has

just loaned you two millions of money out of his private purse.

Without for a moment doubting the decision that Major Baillie the

Resident had been wanting in respect, the fact remains that he went to

the wall, and that the Nawab was set free of all control in his

administration. Furthermore, after a treaty signed in 1816, by which

the loan of the second million was written off against the cession of

a piece of territory scarcely worth the sum, the Nawab was further

encouraged and advised to assume the title of King; thus once for all

asserting his equality with, and not his dependence on, the shadow of

the Great Moghul at Delhi.

So, to the extreme indignation of the latter's sham Court

and the scandal of all true Mahomedans, he proclaimed himself

"Ghazi-uddin-Hyder, King of Oude, the Victorious, the Upholder of Faith,

the Monarch of the Age."

Not such a very poor specimen at that, whether taken at native or

English estimate; for he was at least amiable--a kind, not overclever

princeling, who cultivated the Arts in a dilettante fashion.

For the rest, though the long service--over nine years--of the Marquis

of Hastings was eminently successful, it was not likely that one who

rode rough-shod over the faddists' cry for noninterference at home

could escape without censure. But regular impeachment was impossible

towards one who had actually augmented the public revenues by

L6,000,000 a year! So he escaped the fate of Clive and Warren


He was succeeded by William Pitt (Lord Amherst) after an interregnum

during which a Mr John Adams, armed with supreme, if brief authority,

carried on a crusade against the press which, in view of recent

occurrences, is singularly informing. The censorship had been

abolished by Lord Hastings in rather bombastical language, which

scarcely matched the severe inhibitions that followed against anything

like criticism; the actual result being, that while the name of an

invidious office was abolished, the press was left to face

prosecution. In the case of the Calcutta Journal, against which Mr

Adams tilted, the end was deportation of the editor to England!

The Burmese war, however, occupied Lord Amherst until 1826, when

various minor campaigns became necessary; one against a Sikh

mendicant, who announced himself as the last of the Avatars of

Krishna, incarnated for the express purpose of ousting all foreigners

from India. Bhurtpore, also, had to be finally taken, a usurper

expelled, and a six-year-old rajah established on the throne, under

the guidance, naturally, of a British resident. Such things had to be

if the standard of Western ethics was to be enforced in Government.

There remained also Oude, that perennial thorn in the side of those

who had created it. Ghazi-ud-din-Hyder had lent a million and a half

more money to the Company--had lent it at 5 per cent.!--but yet, he

complained, there was no pleasing the English master! There is

something pitiful about the good-natured king's plea that

misgovernment could not exist, because Oude from one end to the

other was cultivated like a garden; there was not even a waste place

in it whereon an army might encamp! And as for the disturbances on the

British borders, was he responsible for the landholders being Rajputs

by tribe, soldiers by profession, and so refusing to pay except by

force? And for what did he pay English soldiers, except to use force?

There was force, anyhow, in his arguments, but his grievances remained

unredressed at his death in 1827, when he was succeeded by his son,


So, without any great excitement save the Burmese war, Lord Amherst's

Governor-Generalship came abruptly to an end, owing to sudden illness

in his family, which prevented his awaiting any arrangement for his

successor. This is somewhat typical of one who never seems to have

taken any personal interest in Indian questions, who, in fact, seems

to have wearied of the East. He was the first Governor-General who

found a Capua at Simla.

Then, after much striving, Lord William Bentinck, who had been

deprived of the Government of Madras in 1807 in consequence of the

mutiny at Vellore, was appointed in Lord Amherst's place. It was a

great triumph for him, being, as it were, an admission that he had

been unjustly dismissed in the first instance. His administration,

however, did much to justify his early treatment, for there can be no

question that he showed an almost phenomenal want of tact. Indeed, but

for the fact that the final extinction of the monopoly of trade did

not take place until 1835, this chapter would end on the assumption of

office by Lord William Bentinck in 1828, since there can be no doubt

that many of his well-meaning efforts should be included amongst the

causes which led up to the mutiny of 1857. The best plan, therefore,

will be to catalogue them briefly here, and discuss them in connection

with others of a like nature after 1835. The first, which brought him

great disfavour with the military, was not, strictly speaking, his

action, but that of England. His only responsibility for what is

called the half-batta (extra allowance) order is that he did not, as

Lord Hastings and Lord Amherst had done, refuse to obey his superiors.

It was a silly retrenchment, since for the sake of a paltry L20,000 a

year it gave umbrage to a very deserving body of men, who could ill

afford to lose the money. The scheme was condemned by all competent

judges in India as "unwise and inexpedient, fraught with mischief, and

unproductive of good."

But Lord William Bentinck had come out bound hand and foot to economy,

social reform, and missionary effort, so he spent his years in adding

up and subtracting, in framing laws, such as that against suttee,

and the forfeiture which, under Hindu law, followed on conversion to a

different faith.

For political work he had but one catchword; the catchword of his

employers--non-interference. The puppet-emperor at Delhi complained

bitterly; his complaint being unheard, he actually sent an agent--no

less a person than Ram-Mohun-Rao, the founder of the Brahma-Somajh,

the modern Theistical sect of India--to plead his cause in England.

But he also was unheard. His mission had been kept secret, and so his

credentials were "out of order."

In Oude, Nasir-ud-din, realising this policy of non-interference,

began a series of petty aggressions against Aga-Mir, the finance

minister, whom the British Government supported. These ended

unsatisfactorily for all parties by the minister being conveyed out of

the reach of Nasir-ud-din's vindictive hatred. The Nawab then refused

to appoint any one in Aga-Mir's place, and, being totally unfit, by

reason of his dissolute habits, to manage the state himself,

everything fell into confusion. Finally, driven, for once, out of

non-interference by the effect of it, Lord William Bentinck not only

refused friendly intercourse if a responsible minister were not

appointed, but told the drunken, disreputable occupier of the throne

himself in so many words, that if he did not mend his ways he would be


So far well; but when, appalled by this prospect, Nasir-ud-din

besought advice how to govern, this was refused. The policy of which

the Governor-General was the mouthpiece would not allow him to


Humanity is at times hard to understand; in this instance

peculiarly so, unless, as was stated at the time by the respectable

courtiers--and even in that sink of iniquity, Lucknow, there were some

just men--the real object of the English was not to improve

government, but to find an excuse for usurping it.

But in Jeypore, in Jodhpore, in Bundi, in Kotah, and many another

minor state, to say nothing of larger ones, the almost slavish

adherence of Lord William Bentinck to the order he had received

brought strained relations. And yet all the while he was attempting

purely diplomatic rapprochements with outlying states. The Russian

scarecrow had begun to trouble the slumbers of Indian statesmen, and

this curious creature, destined to remain a nightmare for generations,

led to interest in the affairs of Kabul. In Lord Minto's time Mr

Mountstuart Elphinstone had, with great difficulty, met the then Ameer

Shah-Sujah at Peshawar, and arranged the terms of a treaty with him,

but ere this could be ratified Shah-Sujah himself had been turned out

of his throne. He had pleaded for help to recover it; but Lord Minto

being one of the non-interference faction, aid had been refused. The

Ameer had, however, been allowed a pension, on which he had lived in

Ludhiana, a Sikh town on the Sutlej river.

Here Lord William Bentinck found him in 1832, when he had an interview

with Runjeet-Singh, the Sikh king of the Punjab.

There can be little doubt that the question of aiding Shah-Sujah to

recover his throne was mooted by Runjeet-Singh, and was negatived by

the Governor-General; there is also little doubt, however, that too

much cold water was not thrown over the scheme, since Dost-Mahomed,

the Kabul usurper, was suspicioned with Russian proclivities and was

being watched.

But these are minor points compared to the changes which were coming

over the East India Company at home. Its charter expired in 1834, and

the question as to whether that charter should be renewed had to be

answered. It was answered in the negative, and on the 22nd April 1834

India ceased to be a land of restrictions. It was thrown open to the

wide world. During the course of the twenty years which had passed

since the semi-extinction of the Company's power, but 1,324 licences

to go to India had been issued. What proportion of these had been

issued to those whose object was "the introduction of religious and

moral improvements" is unknown, but in 1833 mission work had begun

almost all over India; indeed, the concluding years of the period

between 1813 and 1833 were marked by greatly increased efforts and

results in proselytising the natives. One cause of this being the

shortening of the ocean passage to India by the adoption of the Red

Sea route. On the 20th March 1830 the Hugh Lindsay, a small steamer,

left Bombay harbour, arriving in Suez in thirty-two days, and on her

next voyage reduced the time to twenty-two. Thus, before the year

1836, despatches from London arrived in Bombay in two instead of six

months; the time taken now is twelve days.

It may seem extravagant to say that the lessening of sea-sickness

brought about the Indian Mutiny, but taken seriously, it is true. That

is to say, the sudden letting loose on a country which had hitherto

been reserved to especially licensed persons, of all and sundry, the

dregs as well as the cream of the West, together with the removal of

the great personal discomfort and expense of a six months' journey

round the Cape, which had hitherto militated against travel in India,

combined to produce such a change in that country as was bound to

create alarm, distrust, and resentment, amongst the most Conservative

people in the world.