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Lord William Bentinck
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/27/21

Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Lord William Bentinck, GCB GCH
Governor-General of India
In office: 4 July 1828 – 20 March 1835
Monarch: William IV
Prime Minister: Henry Addington; William Pitt the Younger; The Lord Grenville
Succeeded by: Sir Charles Metcalfe (As Acting Governor-General),
Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William
In office: 2 July 1826 – 1833
Monarch: George IV; William IV
Prime Minister: The Duke of Wellington; The Earl Grey
Preceded by: William Butterworth Bayley (Acting Governor-General)
Governor of Madras
In office: 30 August 1803 – 11 September 1807
Monarch: George III
Prime Minister: The Earl Grey; The Viscount Melbourne; The Duke of Wellington; Sir Robert Peel
Preceded by: The 2nd Baron Clive
Succeeded by: William Petrie (Acting Governor)
Personal details
Born: 14 September 1774, Buckinghamshire, England
Died: 17 June 1839 (aged 64), Paris, France
Nationality: British
Political party: Whig
Spouse(s): Lady Mary Acheson ​(m. 1803)​
Parents: William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland; Lady Dorothy Cavendish
Education: Westminster School
Awards: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath; Royal Guelphic Order
Military service
Branch/service: British Army
Years of service: 1791–1839
Rank: Lieutenant-General
Commands: 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons; Commander-in-Chief, India
Battles/wars: Napoleonic Wars

Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck GCB GCH PC (14 September 1774 – 17 June 1839), known as Lord William Bentinck, or simply Lord Bentinck, was a British soldier and statesman.[1] He served as Governor-General of India from 1828 to 1835. He has been credited for significant social and educational reforms in India including abolishing sati, suppressing female infanticide and human sacrifice.[2] Bentinck said that "the dreadful responsibility hanging over his head in this world and the next, if… he was to consent to the continuance of this practice (sati) one moment longer." Bentinck after consultation with the army and officials passed the Bengal Sati Regulation, 1829 there was little opposition.[3] The only challenge came from the Dharma Sabha which appealed in the Privy Council, however the ban on Sati was upheld.[4] He ended lawlessness by eliminating thuggee – which had existed for over 450 years – with the aid of his chief captain, William Henry Sleeman. Along with Thomas Babington Macaulay he introduced English as the language of instruction in India.[5][6][7]


Bentinck was born in Buckinghamshire, the second son of Prime Minister William Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, and Lady Dorothy (née Cavendish), only daughter of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire. On the marriage the family name became Cavendish-Bentinck.[8]

He was educated at Westminster School, a boys' public school in Westminster, London.[9]

Early career

In 1783, at the age of 9, he was given the sinecure of Clerk of the Pipe for life.[10]

Bentinck joined the Coldstream Guards on 28 January 1791 at the age of 16, purchasing an ensign's commission.[11] He was promoted to captain-lieutenant (lieutenant) in the 2nd Regiment of Dragoons on 4 August 1792,[12] and to captain in the 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons on 6 April 1793.[13] He was promoted to major in the 28th Foot on 29 March 1794[14] and to lieutenant-colonel in the 24th Dragoons that July.[15] On 9 January 1798, Bentinck was promoted to colonel.[16] In 1803 he was, to some surprise, appointed Governor of Madras, and was promoted to major-general on 1 January 1805.[17] Although his tenure was moderately successful, it was brought to an end by the Vellore Mutiny in 1806, prompted by Bentinck's order that the native troops be forbidden to wear their traditional attire. Only after serious violence was order restored and the offending policy rescinded, and Bentinck was recalled in 1807.

After service in the Peninsular War, Bentinck was appointed commander of British troops in Sicily. He was brevetted to lieutenant-general on 3 March 1811.[18] A Whig, Bentinck used this position to meddle in internal Sicilian affairs, effecting the withdrawal from government of Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies in favour of his son, Francis I of the Two Sicilies, the reactionary Queen's disgrace, and an attempt to devise a constitutional government for the troubled island, all of which ultimately ended in failure. In 1814, Bentinck landed with British and Sicilian troops at Genoa, and commenced to make liberal proclamations of a new order in Italy which embarrassed the British government (which intended to give much of Italy to Austria), and led, once again, to his recall in 1815.

Bentinck in Sicily

As conditions in Sicily began to deteriorate at the beginning of the 19th century, England began worrying about its interests in the Mediterranean. Internal dissensions in the Sicilian government and an ever-increasing suspicion that Queen Maria Carolina was in correspondence with the French Occupation of Sicily as its object led to the appointment of Bentinck as British representative to the Court of Palermo in July 1811.[19] At the beginning of his time at the head of Sicilian affairs, politicians in London opposed the Bourbon rule and appealed for Sicilian annexation. Bentinck was sympathetic to the cause and plight of the Sicilians and "was quickly convinced of the need for Britain to intervene in Sicilian affairs, not so much for Britain's sake as for the well-being of the Sicilians."[20] He was also one of the first of the dreamers to see a vision of a unified Italy.[19]

The English, however, were content to support the Bourbons if they were willing to give the Sicilians more governmental control and a greater respect of their rights. Bentinck saw this as the perfect opportunity to insert his ideas of a Sicilian constitution. Opposition to the establishment of a constitution continued to surface, Maria Carolina proving to be one of the toughest. Her relationship with Bentinck can be summed up in the nickname that she gave him: La bestia feroce (the ferocious beast).[20] Bentinck, however, was determined to see the establishment of a Sicilian Constitution and shortly thereafter exiled Maria Carolina from Palermo. On 18 June 1812 the Parliament assembled in Palermo and, about a month later, on 20 July 1812 the constitution was accepted and written on the basis of 15 articles, on the drafts prepared by Prince Belmonte and other Sicilian noblemen. With the establishment of the constitution the Sicilians had now gained an autonomy they had never experienced before. The constitution set up the separation of the legislative and executive powers and abolished the feudalistic practices that had been established and recognised for the past 700 years.[19]

Bentinck's success in establishing a Sicilian constitution lasted only a few years. On 8 December 1816, a year after Ferdinand IV returned to the throne of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the constitution was abolished and Sicily was reunited with Naples. The constitutional experiment was deemed a failure although it cannot be said to be his alone.[19] The Sicilian nobles were inexperienced and in the face of the difficulties of 1814 and 1815 could not sustain a constitution without British support, which was withdrawn in the wake of the end of the Napoleonic wars. The British no longer had an invested interest in the internal affairs of Sicily now that the threat of French invasion had been removed. The establishment of a Sicilian constitution that was facilitated by Bentinck was not to be soon forgotten. The ideas found therein and the small taste of freedom lingered in the memories of the Sicilians and had an influence on the desire for autonomy that was at the base of the Sicilian revolutions of 1820 and 1848.[20]

Italian adventure

Elisa Bonaparte; whom Bentinck would not countenance retaining the Principality of Lucca and Piombino, first granted to her by Napoleon in 1805.

Territory of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1796

Northern Italy in 1814.

Portrait of Napoleon as King of Italy. He renounced the Italian throne, along with the French, on 11 April 1814.

Sailing from Sicily on 30 January 1814, Bentinck first made for Naples. There he reluctantly signed an armistice with Joachim Murat; whom he personally detested as being a man whose "whole life had been a crime," yet whom Britain found it expedient to detach from his brother-in-law, Napoleon, by guaranteeing his Kingdom of Naples in return for an alliance.[21] Having instructed the forces under his command in Sicily to make a landing at Livorno, Bentinck then travelled north, with a day's stop in Rome, to join them.[22] The disembarkation at Livorno began on the 9 March and took three days to complete, Murat's Neapolitans already having occupied the port beforehand.[23]

Napoleon's sister Elisa, though having now abandoned her Grand Duchy of Tuscany, had nevertheless not given up completely in attempting to salvage something out of the collapse of her brother's Empire. Having obtained from Murat - husband of her sister Caroline - the guarantee that he would obtain the consent of the Coalition he had just joined to her retention of the Principality of Lucca and Piombino in return for having rendered up Tuscany without a fight, she had, by the time of Bentinck's appearance at Livorno, retired to Lucca. Upon hearing of his landing, she sent a delegation to gain assurances that Murat's pact would be respected. Bentinck replied that it would not. If she did not depart immediately, he said, she would arrested. With 2,000 British troops dispatched towards the city to carry out this threat, the heavily pregnant Elisa had no choice but to abandon the last of her territories and flee north, where she eventually fell into allied hands at Bologna.[24]

Elisa quit Lucca on the 13 March. The next day, Bentinck issued a proclamation from Livorno calling on the Italian nation to rise in a movement of liberation. "Italians!" he declared, "Great Britain has landed her troops on your shores; she holds out her hand to you to free you from the iron yoke of Buonaparte...hesitate no longer...assert your rights and your liberty. Call us, and we will hasten to you, and then, our forces joined, will effect that Italy may become what in the best times she was".[25] In thus attempting to bring about his long-nurtured dream of an independent Italian nation-state in the north and centre (he did not consider the Neapolitans and Sicilians 'Italians'),[26] Bentinck was quite publicly repudiating the policy of his own Government - which was intending to largely restore the status quo ante bellum in Italy; with Austria in possession of Lombardy and the King of Sardinia re-established in Piedmont. For the next month, Bentinck was therefore operating as effectively an independent actor representative of Britain only, as Rosselli says, in the widest sense: in that he held himself to be furthering Britain's true interests, regardless of whether the current Government recognised them or not.[27]

Ordering his troops north to besiege Genoa, Bentinck himself now headed to Reggio Emilia for a conference with Murat. At this conference on the 15th, he brazenly demanded that Tuscany be handed over to himself and evacuated by the Neapolitan forces then in possession of it. It was necessary, he argued, that Tuscany be under British jurisdiction, as otherwise he would have no logistical base from which to conduct future operations - to which Murat replied that it was the same argument on his side which dictated his own necessary possession of it.[28] Suddenly threatening to turn his forces against Naples itself and restore the rightful Ferdinand IV if Murat did not give way, Bentinck was quickly reprimanded in a firm note from Castlereagh reminding him that he was instructed to co-operate in every way with Murat and Austria. At which he reluctantly withdrew his bid for Tuscany - which he had likely been hoping to turn into the nucleus of a free Italian state under his own aegis - and left for Genoa.[29] There had, in any case, been no discernable response from the Tuscans to Bentinck's proclamation, while in Genoa he would find a welcoming audience at last.[30]

Bentinck had been ordered to take and occupy Genoa in the name of the King of Sardinia.[31] But when the city surrendered to him on 18 April 1814, he instead proclaimed - contrary to the intentions of the Coalition - the restoration of the Republic of Genoa and the repeal of all laws passed since 1797, much to the enthusiasm of the Genoese.[32] At the same time, he dispatched an expeditionary force to Corsica to attempt to revive the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom of 1794–1796 and gain for Britain another useful base in the Mediterranean.[33] In Genoa meanwhile, on the 24th, he received representations from the provisional government in Milan beseeching Britain's support for the maintenance of an independent Kingdom of Italy rather than the restoration of Austria's rule over Lombardy. With Napoleon's abdication of both the French and Italian thrones on 11 April, the government in Milan was in search of a new sovereign who would better bolster their chances of survival and, in seeking to bind Britain to their cause, the suggestion was put to Bentinck that Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the seventh son of George III, would be a welcome candidate.[33] Though Bentinck recommended they might look to Archduke Francis of Este as a more realistic candidate in order to mollify the Austrians.

With Napoleon's double abdication on the 11 April however - though the news took time to cross the Alps - Bentinck's capacity to influence events on the ground while, with the war against the Emperor still raging, all was still to a great extent up in the air, largely came to an end. As did his Government's motive for toleration. His erratic behaviour over the recent months had led the Prime Minister Lord Liverpool to brand him simply "mad", and his scope of authority was sharply reduced; though he was not finally dismissed from his grand post as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean until April the following year.

Governor-General of India

Lord William Bentinck was the first governor general of British-occupied India . Everyone else before him was the governor of Bengal (Fort William) On his return to England, Bentinck served in the House of Commons for some years before being appointed Governor-General of Bengal in 1828. His principal concern was to turn around the loss-making East India Company, to ensure that its charter would be renewed by the British government.

Lady William Cavendish-Bentinck (c 1783–1843) (Ellen Sharples)

Bentinck engaged in an extensive range of cost-cutting measures, earning the lasting enmity of many military men whose wages were cut. Although historians emphasise his more efficient financial management, his modernising projects also included a policy of westernisation, influenced by the Utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, which was more controversial. He reformed the court system

Educational reforms

Bentinck made English the medium of instruction[34] after passing the English Education Act 1835. English replaced Persian as the language of the higher courts. He founded the Calcutta Medical college after the committee appointed by him found that "The Native Medical Institution established in 1822 , The Committee headed by Dr John Grant as president and J C C Sutherland, C E Trevelyan, Thomas Spens, Ram Comul Sen and M J Bramley as members found the education, examination system, training and lack of practical anatomy clearly below standards" and recommended its closure, which Bentinck accepted and he opened the Calcutta Medical college which offered western medical education and opening of this college is seen as Introduction of Western Science into India.It was the first western medical college in Asia and it was open to all without distinction of caste or creed. James Ranald Martin compares the creation of this college to Bentinck's other acclaimed act of abolishing Sati[35][36][37][38][39][40]

Social reforms

Abolition of Sati

Bentinck decided to put an immediate end to Sati immediately upon his arrival in Calcutta. Ram Mohan Roy warned Bentinck against abruptly ending Sati. However, after observing that the judges in the courts were unanimously in favor of the ban, Bentinck proceeded to lay the draft before his council. Charles Metcalfe, the Governor's most prominent counselor, expressed apprehension that the banning of Sati might be "used by the disaffected and designing" as "an engine to produce insurrection." However these concerns did not deter him from upholding the Governor's decision "in the suppression of the horrible custom by which so many lives are cruelly sacrificed."[41]

Thus on Sunday morning of 4 December 1829 Lord Bentinck issued Regulation XVII declaring Sati to be illegal and punishable in criminal courts. It was presented to William Carey for translation. His response is recorded as follows: "Springing to his feet and throwing off his black coat he cried, 'No church for me to-day... If I delay an hour to translate and publish this, many a widow's life may be sacrificed,' he said. By evening the task was finished."[42]

On 2 February 1830 this law was extended to Madras and Bombay.[43] The ban was challenged by a petition signed by "several thousand… Hindoo inhabitants of Bihar, Bengal, Orissa etc"[44] and the matter went to the Privy Council in London. Along with British supporters, Ram Mohan Roy presented counter-petitions to parliament in support of ending Sati. The Privy Council rejected the petition in 1832, and the ban on Sati was upheld.[45]

Ban on female infanticide and human sacrifice

Bentinck prohibited female infanticide and the custom of certain of newly born girls to be killed and against human sacrifices. Although his reforms met little resistance among native Indians at the time, Indian enemies repeated a story to the effect that he had once planned to demolish the Taj Mahal and sell off the marble. According to Bentinck's biographer John Rosselli, the story arose from Bentinck's fund-raising sale of discarded marble from Agra Fort and of the metal from the Great Agra Gun, the largest cannon ever cast, a historical artefact which dated to the reign of Akbar the Great.[46][47] Bentinck removed flogging as a punishment in the Indian Army.[48]

Saint Helena Act 1833

The Saint Helena Act 1833, also called the Charter Act of 1833, was passed during Bentinck's tenure and, accordingly, the monopoly of the East India Company was abolished. The Governor-General of Bengal became the Governor-General of India. This Act added a law member to the executive council of the governor general. Bishops of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta were to be appointed for the benefit of the Christians in India.

Bentinck returned to the UK in 1835 and refused a peerage, partly because he had no children and partly because he wanted to stand for Parliament again. He again entered the House of Commons as a Member for Glasgow.[49]

Personal life

Memorial at the Bentinck family vault in St Marylebone Parish Church, London

In August 1791, Bentinck played in a non-first-class cricket match for Marylebone Cricket Club against Nottingham Cricket Club at King's Meadow, Nottingham.[50][51]

Bentinck married Lady Mary, daughter of Arthur Acheson, 1st Earl of Gosford, on 18 February 1803.[52] The marriage was childless. He died in Paris on 17 June 1839, aged 64. Mary died in May 1843.[53] They are buried together in the Bentinck family vault in St Marylebone Parish Church, London.


1. "Lord William Bentinck | British government official". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
2. Showick Thorpe Edgar Thorpe (2009). The Pearson General Studies Manual 2009, 1/e. Pearson Education India. pp. 103–. ISBN 978-81-317-2133-9. Retrieved 2 May2018.
3. John Clark Marshman (18 November 2010). History of India from the Earliest Period to the Close of the East India Company's Government. Cambridge University Press. pp. 357–. ISBN 978-1-108-02104-3. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
4. S. Muthiah (2008). Madras, Chennai: A 400-year Record of the First City of Modern India. Palaniappa Brothers. pp. 484–. ISBN 978-81-8379-468-8. Retrieved 7 May2020.
5. Radhey Shyam Chaurasia (2002). History of Modern India, 1707 A. D. to 2000 A. D. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. pp. 113–127. ISBN 978-81-269-0085-5. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
6. Jörg Fisch (2000). "Humanitarian Achievement or Administrative Necessity? Lord William Bentinck and the Abolition of Sati in 1829". Journal of Asian History. 34 (2): 109–134. JSTOR 41933234.
7. Arvind Sharma; Ajit Ray (1988). Sati: Historical and Phenomenological Essays. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 7–9. ISBN 978-81-208-0464-7. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
8. Boulger, Demetrius Charles (1897). Rulers of India: Lord William Bentinck. Oxford Clarendon Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-164-16873-7.
9. "Imperial India". Retrieved 27 May 2019.
10. Taylor, Charles. The Literary Panorama, Volume 10. p. 1411.
11. "No. 13278". The London Gazette. 29 January 1791. p. 64.
12. "No. 13446". The London Gazette. 31 July 1792. p. 606.
13. "No. 13516". The London Gazette. 2 April 1793. p. 269.
14. "No. 13635". The London Gazette. 25 March 1794. p. 264.
15. "No. 13686". The London Gazette. 19 July 1794. p. 748.
16. "No. 14080". The London Gazette. 6 January 1798. p. 23.
17. "No. 15770". The London Gazette. 8 January 1805. p. 47.
18. "No. 16460". The London Gazette. 2 March 1811. p. 406.
19. Lackland, H. M. (1927). "Lord William Bentinck in Sicily, 1811–12". The English Historical Review. 42 (167): 371–396. doi:10.1093/ehr/xlii.clxvii.371.
20. Hearder, Harry (1983). Italy in the Age of the Risorgimento 1790–1870. New York: Longmans.
21. Gregory, Sicily: The Insecure Base, 119; Rosselli, Lord William Bentinck, 175.
22. Rosselli, Lord William Bentinck, 173.
23. Nafziger, G. F. & Gioannini M., The Defense of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Northern Italy, 1813-1814, 209.
24. Williams, The Women Bonapartes, II, 299–302.
25. The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time, Volume 29, 729.
26. Rosselli, Lord William Bentinck, 151.
27. Rosselli, Lord William Bentinck, 174.
28. Nafziger, G. F. & Gioannini M., The Defense of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Northern Italy, 1813-1814, 210.
29. Gregory, D., Sicily: The Insecure Base, 120.
30. Gregory, D., Napoleon's Italy, 183.
31. Rath, J. R., The Fall of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, 1814, 186.
32. Gregory, Sicily: The Insecure Base, 120.
33. Boulger, Lord William Bentinck, 52.
34. Olson, James S.; Shadle, Robert S., eds. (1996). "Bentinck, Lord William Cavendish". Historical Dictionary of the British Empire. 1. Greenwood Press. p. 131. ISBN 0-313-29366-X.
35. David Arnold (20 April 2000). Science, Technology and Medicine in Colonial India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 63–. ISBN 978-0-521-56319-2. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
36. Debi Prasad Chattopadhyaya (1999). History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization: pt. 1. Science, technology, imperialism and war. Pearson Education India. pp. 477–. ISBN 978-81-317-2818-5. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
37. Michael Mann (24 October 2014). South Asia's Modern History: Thematic Perspectives. Taylor & Francis. pp. 463–. ISBN 978-1-317-62445-5. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
38. Shamita Chatterjee; Ramdip Ray; Dilip Kumar Chakraborty (3 August 2012). "Medical College Bengal—A Pioneer Over the Eras". Indian Journal of Surgery. 73(3): 385–390. doi:10.1007/s12262-012-0714-2. PMC 3824763. PMID 24426482.
39. "Students demand restoration of the old name of Calcutta Medical College". Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay. The Times of India. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 3 May2018.
40. Mel Gorman (September 1988). "Introduction of Western Science into Colonial India: Role of the Calcutta Medical College". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 132 (3): 276–298. JSTOR 3143855. PMID 11621593.
41. H. H. Dodwell (1932). The Cambridge History of the British Empire. CUP Archive. pp. 140–142. GGKEY:ZS3NURDNRFH. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
42. Arvind Sharma; Ajit Ray; Alaka Hejib (1988). Sati: Historical and Phenomenological Essays. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 7–21. ISBN 978-81-208-0464-7. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
43. Rai, Raghunath. History. p. 137. ISBN 9788187139690.
44. Dodwell 1932 p. 141.
45. Kulkarni, A.R.; Feldhaus, Anne (1996). "Sati in the Maratha Country". Images of Women in Maharashtrian Literature and Religion. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-0791428382.
46. Cooper, Randolf (2003). The Anglo-Maratha Campaigns and the Contest for India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 198.
47. Rosselli, J (1974). Lord William Bentinck: the making of a Liberal Imperialist, 1774–1839. London: Chatto and Windus for Sussex University Press. p. 283.
48. S. K. Aggarwal (1 February 1988). Press at the crossroads in India. UDH Publishing House. p. 17. ISBN 978-81-85044-32-3. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
49. Boulger 1897, p. 208.
50. Britcher, Samuel (1791). A list of all the principal Matches of Cricket that have been played (1790 to 1805). MCC. p. 22.
51. Haygarth, Arthur (1862). Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744–1826). Lillywhite. p. 123.
52. Boulger 1897, p. 17.
53. Boulger 1897, p. 148.

Further reading

• "Bentinck, Lord William Henry Cavendish". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2161. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
• Rulers of India: Lord William Bentinck – available at the Internet Archive
• Belliapa, C. P. (21 April 2014). "On William Bentinck's trail". Deccan Herald (Bangalore). Retrieved 19 January 2015.
• Harrington, Jack (2010), Sir John Malcolm and the Creation of British India, Ch. 5., New York: Palgrave Macmillan., ISBN 978-0-230-10885-1
• Wiskemann, Elizabeth. "Lord William Bentinck Precursor of the Risorgimento." History Today (1952) 2#7 pp 492-499 online.

External links

• Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Lord William Bentinck
• Biography of Lord William Bentinck, includes links to online catalogues, from Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Mon Mar 29, 2021 3:10 am

Part 1 of 7

A Sketch of the History of the Indian Press, During the Last Ten Years: With a Biographical Account of Mr. James Silk Buckingham
by Sandford Arnot
Member of the Asiatic Society of Paris
Second Edition

“Is it British justice, for the faults imputed to one man to punish millions?

-- Memorial of the Natives of India to the King of England.


• Errata
• To the Conductors of the Public Press of Great Britain
• History of the British Press in India, viz.
• I. During the Administration of the Marquis of Hastings
• II. Under the Administration of the Hon. John Adam
• III. Under the Government of Lord Amherst
• Proceedings in England Connected with the Indian Press
• Discovery of reason to believe that Mr. B. had abstracted nearly £10,000 from the cause of the Indian Press
• Biographical sketch of Mr. James Silk Buckingham
• Causes of this Publication connected with the above Discovery
• Suppressed Defence of Mr. Arnot against the Calumnies invented by Mr. J.S. Buckingham, in revenge for the above Discovery
• Apology for him by his Agents in India, not denying the charge
• Reply to the same by "NO DUPE", maintaining it as proved
• Remarks on the Apology, showing its weakness
• History of his conduct to Mr. St. John, his literary Coadjutor in England
• Mr. Buckingham as an Itinerant Orator
• Peter the Hermit's Cave -- Description of the alleged "obscure Lodgings in the outskirts of London," to which the soi-disant [Google translate: Supposedly] Patriot and Martyr, "Peter the Hermit," retired to "drink the chrystal stream," as given out, while soliciting charitable relief, by boards pasted up all over London, begging for the smallest pittance to alleviate his distress
• Proofs and Illustrations, and Catalogue of Mr. B.'s Contradictions, being an Analysis of printed Notarial Documents annexed


Page / Line

14 / 15 / For “before," read “for. "
15 / 25 / For £4,500, read £4,000.
18 / 17 / For Sir, read Mr.
19 / 21 / For “ Shewing,” read “ Knowing."
-- / 22 / After which, read "at."
22 / 31 / For "Turlon," read "Turton."
30 / 1 / For "persons," read "previous."
59 / last line, / After "know" omit the semicolon.
80 /40 / For £500, read £1050.

To the Conductors of the Public Press of Great Britain

I know not to whom I can so appropriately dedicate the following brief history of the Indian Press, during the last ten years, as to you who have nourished it from your inexhaustible intellectual stores, stimulated it by your example, and sympathised in its misfortunes. The account of these you will not read with the less interest, that the author of it was him self a participator in the events which he describes; and may, therefore, with justice say in the words of the ancient: quæque miserrima vidi, et quorum pars fui. [Google translate: I saw the most miserable, the Jews established, and of which I was a part of.]

2, South Crescent,
Bedford Square.



As the publication of the following statement of facts arose out of circumstances beyond my control, I claim no merit in bringing it before the world. All that remains in my power is to render the publication as subservient as possible to the public good, and to the cause of truth, by accompanying it with such explanations as will place in a true light an important question with which it is connected.

It is, indeed, the duty of every man who has suffered in a public cause, to embrace every fair opportunity of stating to the world his reasons for supporting it and the dangers to which it is exposed, either from professed friends or open foes. No phrase is more commonly in every one's mouth than that the character of public men is public "property." If so, it is the duty of the public to ascertain with the greatest care what that character is, that they may know whether or not their property be a good one, and the tenure by which they hold it secure. It is, above all, the duty of those who are friendly to the same cause, to ascertain that they entrust its advocacy into the most trustworthy hands: for surely no wise people engaged in any contest would entrust the command of an important post to a person of whose honesty they were not perfectly secure; or, to come to more every-day transactions, no prudent merchant would leave his vessel in charge of a pilot, however expert and daring, if there was reason to apprehend that, from want of principle and to serve his own purposes, the pilot would run the vessel upon the rocks.

Just so has the cause of the Indian Press been already shipwrecked; and it is my painful duty to describe by whom, and by what means, it has been ruined: ruined for a time, at least; and if it should ever recover that shock, the best service I can render it is by a faithful account of the causes of its past misfortunes, to guard its friends against similar dangers in future. Ten years ago the censorship had been abolished by the Marquis of Hastings, the then Governor General of India. After he had concluded victoriously two important wars, and secured the country from foreign aggression and internal pillage, thereby placing the hundred millions under his sway in tranquillity and peace, to improve their condition still more, he gave them a press, through which they might explain their wants and wishes, free from the control of a censor. This act was applauded all over the East, and hailed as the commencement of a new and glorious era in India, as shewn by the address presented to his Lordship by "about five-hundred of the most enlightened Gentlemen of Madras," who manfully raised their voices in its favour, notwithstanding the Government of that Presidency was adverse to the measure. (Vide the Hon. Col. Stanhope's History of the Indian Press, p.82). These five hundred included the chief justice and judges, and law officers of his Majesty's Supreme Court for British law, the chief judge of the Company's Supreme Court for native law (Sudder Adawlut), the residents of Hyderabad and Nagpore, and the Company's principal Staff Officers, &c. &c. &c., men of as high rank and influence in that part of the world, as the ministers and members of the British Cabinet are in England. Nor was the measure without its powerful friends even in this country: what Lord Hastings had done in the East, there was here the immortal eloquence of a Canning ready to defend.

In less than four years from the brilliant period of which I have been speaking, all this had passed away like a refreshing summer cloud, and not a shadow of freedom was left to any press in India. A measure was enacted to silence public discussion, by placing all newspaper property at the mercy of the Government. No public meeting was called, and hardly ten voices were raised in all India against this measure; and when it was afterwards discussed in the Court of East-India Proprietors, the only public body in England likely to take a deep interest in the question, a body, too, into which every liberal man in England, possessed of property, may, if he chooses, enter and declare his sentiments, so low was the cause of the freedom of the Indian Press sunk, that at last hardly three hands were raised in its behalf!

What produced this remarkable and melancholy change? The opponents of the freedom of discussion in India attribute it to the badness of the cause itself; I, however, am prepared to prove that it arose from the lamentable conduct of a person who put himself forward as its advocate, and continued to pervert the energies of the Press to his own selfish purposes, by converting it into an instrument of gratifying his personal piques and vanity, and of levying contributions on the public. This, at least, is the judgment which I have formed, on an extent of experience and knowledge of the subject which few besides myself have had an opportunity to acquire. But the contents of the following pages will enable every reader to judge for himself; and, if I succeed in proving the justness of my opinion, it may be the means of rescuing the cause of the Indian Press from the obloquy which has been brought upon it by the misconduct of its professed friend and advocate: it may be the means of again obtaining for the principle of free discussion, as applied to India, a patient and impartial consideration at the approaching investigation regarding the best mode of governing that important division of the British Empire.

The Marquis of Hastings having been the great founder and patron of the freedom of the Press which existed in India, it is the duty of every friend to that measure to place his character and policy in their just point of view. His new regulation for the Press, dated the 12th of August 1819, which abolished the censorship, was to the following effect, viz.

That Editors of newspapers were prohibited from publishing, 1st. Animadversions on the measures of public authorities in England connected with the Government of India, or on the local administration, the Members of Council, Judges of the Supreme Court, or the Lord Bishop of Calcutta. 2dly, Any thing calculated to excite alarm or suspicion amongst the natives as to any intended interference with their religion. 3dly, Private scandal or personal remarks tending to excite dissention in society.

The consequence that would result from an infraction of these restrictions was stated in these words:

"Relying on the prudence and discretion of the Editors for their careful observance of these rules, the Governor General in Council is pleased to dispense with their submitting their papers to an officer of Government previous to publication. The Editors will, however, be held personally responsible for whatever they may publish in contravention of the rules now communicated, OR which may be otherwise at variance with the general principles of British law as established in this country, and will be proceeded against in such manner as the Governor General in Council may deem applicable to the nature of the offence, for any deviation from them."

Here two classes of offences are clearly pointed out; one class, offences against British law; another class, offences against the rules now laid down for the press. For the first class, the Government might proceed by an action at law in the usual form; for the second, it evidently could not, because they were rules unknown to that law. Some other mode of enforcing them must, therefore, have been in contemplation, or the enactment of Regulations, which there was no power to enforce, would have been an act of mere folly. But the Governor General of India is vested with a power of ordering any British subject (if a native of the United Kingdom) to quit India, and by this power a British editor who resisted the authority of these rules might, consequently, be punished by expulsion from the country. Therefore, in enacting these rules beyond the letter of the law, and announcing that any Editor disregarding them would be "proceeded against," Lord Hastings clearly announced (and could have meant nothing else) that he would exercise the power of "summary transportation without trial," when necessary, as a means of coercing the conductors of the Indian Press, and enforcing the above restrictions after the abolition of the censorship. This is the true character of the act for which he received the applauses of the five hundred enlightened and distinguished residents of Madras, to which he is stated to have returned the following memorable, thousand-times quoted, reply:--

"My removal of restrictions from the Press," (by which his Lordship clearly meant the censorship, a most galling restriction, which he had removed for something far less grievous), "has been mentioned in laudatory language. I might easily have adopted that procedure without any length of cautious consideration, from my habit of regarding the freedom of publication as a natural right of my fellow subjects, to be narrowed only by special and urgent cause assigned. The seeing no direct necessity for these invidious shackles might have sufficed to make me break them. I know myself, however, to have been guided in the step by a positive and well-weighed policy. If our motives of action are worthy, it must be wise to render them intelligible throughout an empire, our hold on which is opinion. Further, it is salutary for supreme authority, even when its intentions are most pure, to look to the control of public scrutiny. While conscious of rectitude, that authority can lose nothing of its strength by its exposure to general comment: on the contrary, it acquires incalculable addition of force.

That Government which has nothing to disguise, wields the most powerful instrument that can appertain to sovereign rule. It carries with it the united reliance and effort of the whole mass of the governed: and let the triumph of our beloved country in its awful contest with tyrant-ridden France speak the value of a spirit, to be found only in men accustomed to indulge and express their honest sentiments."

Previous to this, under the Censorship, no one had the power of publishing any sentiment, however honest, except what the censor pleased to permit: whereas, under Lord Hastings's new regulation, every one had the power of saying everything, as in England, subject only to punishment afterwards, if he contravened the laws or regulations. By the former, the liberty of the press is to this day narrowed in England; by the latter, it was still farther narrowed in India: and to this his Lordship must have alluded, in saying that it was to be narrowed "only by special and urgent cause assigned."

The motives for these limitations on the freedom of discussion may be easily perceived. Censures passed on the Court of Directors, or other public authorities in England, might be supposed incapable of influencing men at such a distance, who, most probably, would never see or read them, or of altering measures already passed; while they might excite a local ferment and opposition abroad, where it could be of no avail, and thereby create alarm at home, and raise up powerful enemies to the very freedom of discussion which the Noble Marquis was so desirous to establish. The same reasoning might be applied to animadversions on the Lord Bishop of Calcutta, Members of Council, Judges of the Supreme Court, &c., viz. that the Press might sting and wound the feelings, but, in the present state of society in India, where so few are independent, could not exercise an efficient control over persons holding the highest rank and authority. Would it be wise, then, to begin by making enemies of those whose opposition might so soon prove fatal to an institution yet in its infancy.* [Vide the Hon, Col. Stanhope's History, p. 54.] Lord Hastings knew that the far-famed Press of England did not attain to its present strength and importance in a day, nor in a century. By prudent and moderate management, he saw that the Press of India might also be gradually nursed into maturity; that the alarms felt on account of its novelty would subside, the benefits of its operation be experienced, and men's minds, by degrees, become accustomed to its controul.

It is lamentable to think that a scheme so full of hope and promise, so enlightened and beneficent, could be thwarted by the turbulent conduct of one man. But,

"The reckless hand which fired th' Ephesian dome,
Outlives in fame the pious sage that raised it,"

and the firebrand, in the present case, was Mr. James Silk Buckingham. No difficult matter was it to excite a flame, if any one was found so imprudent or unprincipled as to apply the torch of discord: for the experiment of introducing freedom of discussion among a hundred millions of Asiatics, was, of itself, of a nature to excite distrust, if not alarm, in the minds of the many whose principle of policy it is to hold fast by that which is established and shun all innovation.

Mr. Buckingham, who conducted a Paper called the "Calcutta Journal," began by extolling the Marquis of Hastings, his character and government, in such terms of adulation, as to excite first jealousy and ultimately disgust; since others, holding a less prominent place in the administration, might justly feel that they had as much merit in the measures adopted as its head, on whom these praises were so extravagantly lavished. From this he gradually proceeded in his praises more pointedly to contra-distinguish the noble Marquis from the rest of the administration, which Mr. B. now taught the public to view as consisting of a good and an evil principle; Lord Hastings representing the former, and his Council, Secretaries, &c. the latter. This personal court to the great man might serve a temporary purpose. Mr. Buckingham, it has since been stated, was then making interest for a situation under the Government. He did not succeed in his object; perhaps the flattery was too gross for the refined sentiments of Lord Hastings. But these crafty artifices did not fail to excite jealousy between him and his Council and official advisers; and these latter being the most permanent elements of the government, who rise successively into power as its heads drop off, their opposition to Lord Hastings' policy, in the end, proved fatal to the liberty of the Press.

They seem to have said to themselves:

"Is any lord or lordling from England to come and reap the benefit of our long-earned experience, and then set up a sycophant to flatter himself as the author of every good thing done, and sneer at us, who have borne the burden and heat of the day, as insignificant underlings?"

The manner in which Mr. Buckingham contrived to create enemies to the freedom of the Press in other quarters, will be best shewn by a brief summary, accompanied with a few extracts from his correspondence with the Government, as published by himself.

1stly. Attack on the highest law authority in India.
-- The feelings of his Majesty's Chief Justice were deeply wounded by a severe animadversion on a transaction, necessarily of a very distressing kind to him, which occurred in his family, allusion to which in a public newspaper was the leas called for, as the affair was of a domestic and private, not of a public or political character; and the less excusable, as the affair, having happened, was such as no censure or regret could remedy or recal. No journalist, therefore, was justified in laying hold of such an opportunity to wound the feelings of a father; and by personal injury, probably render hostile to the Press a person who might have been its most powerful friend, from holding the highest legal office in India. Sir Edward Hyde East had notwithstanding the virtue to speak in favour of the liberty of the Press, if properly used, when it came afterwards under discussion in a case wherein Mr. Buckingham himself was the defendant. His successor in authority, however, avenged his cause by sealing its destruction.

2dly. Attack on the Governor of Madras. On the 18th of June 1819, the Lord Hastings caused the following letter to be addressed to Mr. Buckingham, respecting an attack on Governor Elliott:

Sir, 1. The attention of Government having been drawn to certain paragraphs, published in the Calcutta Journal of Wednesday the 26th ult. I am directed by his Excellency the Most Noble the Governor General in Council, to communicate to you the following remarks regarding them.

2. The paragraphs in question are as follows:-- "Madras. We have received a letter from Madras of the 10th instant, written on deep black-edged mourning post, of considerable breadth, and apparently made for the occasion, communicating, as a piece of melancholy and afflicting intelligence, the fact of Mr. Elliott's being confirmed in the government of that Presidency for three years longer!! It is regarded at Madras as a public calamity, and we fear that it will be viewed in no other light throughout India generally. An anecdote is mentioned in the same letter, regarding the exercise of the censorship of the press, which is worthy of being recorded, as a fact illustrative of the callosity to which the human heart may arrive; and it may be useful, humiliating as it is to the pride of our species, to show what men, by giving loose to the principles of despotism over their fellows, may at length arrive at."

[Then, after stating that the Censor there had prevented the publication of a letter from the Princess Charlotte to her mother, Mr. Buckingham concluded by saying] "that it tended to criminate, by inference, those who were accessory to their unnatural separation, of which party the friends of the DIRECTOR of the Censor of the Press unfortunately were!

3. The Governor General in Council observes that this publication is a wanton attack upon the Governor of the Presidency of Fort St. George, in which his continuance in office is represented as a public calamity, and his conduct in administration asserted to be governed by despotic principles and influenced by unworthy motives.

4. The Governor General in Council refrains from enlarging upon the injurious effect which publications of such a nature are calculated to produce in the due administration of the affairs of this country. It is sufficient to inform you that he considers the paragraphs above quoted to be highly offensive and objectionable in themselves, and to amount to a violation of the obvious spirit of the instructions communicated to the Editors of newspapers, at the period when this Government was pleased to permit the publication of newspapers, without subjecting them to the previous revisions of the officers of Government.

5. The Governor General in Council regrets to observe, that this is not the only instance in which the Calcutta Journal has contained publications at variance with the spirit of the instructions above referred to. On the present occasion, the Governor General in Council does not propose to exercise the powers vested in him by law; but I am directed to acquaint you, that by any repetition or a similar offence, you will be considered to have forfeited all claim to the countenance and protection of this Government, and will subject yourself to be proceeded against under the 36th section of the 53d Geo. III., cap. 155."

To this letter from Lord Hastings his magnanimous and liberal protector, Mr. Buckingham, in reply, concluded with the following sentence:

"The very marked indulgence which his Lordship in Council is pleased to exercise towards me, in remitting on this occasion the exercise of the powers vested in him by law, will operate as an additional incentive to my future observance of the spirit of the instructions issued before the commencement of the Calcutta Journal, to the editors of the public prints of India, in August 1818, of which I am now fully informed, and which I shall henceforth make my guide."

The next attack on the same Government of Madras related to the transmission of his journal by post, which Mr. Buckingham insinuated was impeded in that presidency by the Government, from hostility to its principles. On this Lord Hastings thus commented, in an official letter dated January 12th 1820:

"2. The observations alluded to are clearly intended to convey the impression that the Government of Fort St. George had taken measures to impede the circulation of the Calcutta Journal, which measures were unjust in themselves, and originated in improper motives.

"5. Your remarks on the proceedings of the Government of Fort St. George are obviously in violation of the spirit of those rules to which your particular attention, as the Editor of the Calcutta Journal, has been before called; and the unfounded insinuations conveyed in those remarks greatly aggravate the impropriety of your conduct on this occasion.

"6. The Governor General in Council has perceived with regret the little impression made on you by the indulgence you have already experienced; and I am directed to warn you of the certain consequence of your again incurring the displeasure of Government. In the present instance, his Lordship in Council contents himself with requiring, that a distinct acknowledgment of the impropriety of your conduct, and a full and sufficient apology to the Government of Fort St. George, for the injurious insinuations inserted in your paper of yesterday, with regard to the conduct of that Government, be published in the Calcutta Journal."

In reply, Mr. Buckingham informed Lord Hastings that as he had received an address from Madras complimenting him on his abolition of the Censorship, by the substitution of the more lenient restrictions before mentioned, to which he had replied as above quoted, therefore he (Mr. B.) considered these restrictions as no longer existing!

"I conceived," he says, "that the regulations or restrictions of August 1818, were as formally and effectually abrogated by that step (the reply to the address) as one law becomes repealed by the creation of another, whose provisions and enactions are at variance with the spirit of the former."

This was, in fact, to maintain that an Act of Parliament or an order in Council might be annulled by a speech of the Duke of Wellington at Apsley House, or the City of London Tavern: and that a speech, too, which declared that the liberty of the Press was to be "limited by special cause assigned," must be held to signify and declare, that this liberty was to be quite unlimited! On these grounds the Marquess of Hastings was most disingenuously and ungratefully accused of professing one thing and meaning another. His Lordship, however, magnanimously passed over the imputation on himself, and rested satisfied with an apology being published by Mr. Buckingham, expressing his regret at "having worded the original notice so carelessly as to bear the appearance of disrespectful notice on the Governor of Madras."

3dly. Attack on the highest ecclesiastical authority, the Lord Bishop of Calcutta. This was published on the 10th July 1821, as follows:--

"It is asserted (but I conceive erroneously) that the Chaplains have received orders from the Lord Bishop of Calcutta, not to make themselves amenable to any military or other local authorities; and, therefore, when a young couple at an outpost prefer going to the expense of making the clergyman travel 250 miles to go and marry them, he is at perfect liberty to accept the invitation, and to leave 3000 other Christians, his own parishioners, to bury each other, and postpone all other christian ordinances until his tour is completed, which, in this instance, occupies, I understand, more than three sabbaths.

In consequence of one of these ill-timed matrimonial requisitions in December last, the performance of divine service, and other religious observances of the season, were entirely overlooked at Christmas, which passed by for some Sundays in succession, and Christmas-day included, wholly unobserved,

It would appear, therefore, to be highly expedient, that no Military Chaplain should have the option of quitting the duties of his station, from any misplaced power vested in him by the Lord Bishop, unless he can also obtain the express written permission of the local authorities on the spot to do so, and provided, in all such cases, the season is healthy, and no one dangerously ill, and that he shall unerringly return to the station before the Sunday following, that divine service may never be omitted in consequence of such requisition."

On the name of the author of this statement being asked for by the Government, Mr. Buckingham replied that he did not know any thing about him, as it was anonymous, but that he thought publishing it might be productive of good. To this Lord Hastings sent the following reply:

"It was to have been hoped, that when your attention was called to the nature of the publication in question, you would have felt regret at not having perceived its tendency, and that you would have expressed concern at having unwarily given circulation to a statement which advanced the invidious supposition that the Bishop might have allowed to the Chaplains a latitude for deserting their clerical duties, and disregarding the claims of humanity.

Instead of manifesting any such sentiment, you defend your procedure, by professing that you 'published the letter under the conviction, that a temperate and modest discussion of the inconveniences likely to arise from a want of local control, in certain points, over Military Chaplains, might be productive of public benefit.'

It is gross prostitution of terms to represent as a temperate and modest discussion an anonymous crimination of an individual, involving at the same time an insinuated charge, not the less offensive for being hypothetically put, that his superior might have countenanced the delinquency.

With these particulars before your eyes, and in contempt of former warnings, you did not hesitate to insert in your Journal such a statement from a person of whom you declare yourself to be utterly ignorant, and of whose veracity you consequently could form no opinion. Your defence for so doing is not rested on the merits of the special case. But as your argument must embrace all publications of a corresponding nature, you insist on your right of making your Journal the channel for that species of indirect attack upon character in all instances of a parallel nature.

When certain irksome restraints, which had long existed upon the press in Bengal, were withdrawn, the prospect was indulged that the diffusion of various information, with the able comments which it would call forth, might be extremely useful to all classes of our countrymen in public employment. A paper conducted with temper and ability, on the principles professed by you at the outset of your undertaking, was eminently calculated to forward this view. The just expectations of Government have not been answered. Whatsoever advantages have been attained, they have been overbalanced by the mischief of acrimonious dissensions, spread through the medium of your Journal. Complaint upon complaint is constantly harrassing Government, regarding the impeachment which your loose publications cause to be inferred against individuals. As far as could be reconciled with duty, Government has endeavoured to shut its eyes on what it wished to consider thoughtless aberrations, though perfectly sensible of the practical objections which attends these irregular appeals to the public. Even if the matter submitted be correct, the public can afford no relief, while a communication to the constituted authorities would effect sure redress; yet the idleness of recurrence to a wrong quarter is not all that is reprehensible, for that recurrence is to furnish the dishonest conclusion of sloth or indifference in those bound to watch over such points of the general interest. Still the Government wished to overlook minor editorial inaccuracies. The subject has a different complexion when you, Sir, stand forth to vindicate the principle of such appeals, whatsoever slander upon individuals they may involve, and when you maintain the privilege of lending yourself to be the instrument of any unknown calumniator. Government will not tolerate so mischievous an abuse. It would be with undissembled regret that the Governor General in Council should find himself constrained to exercise the chastening power vested in him; nevertheless he will not shrink from its exertion, where he may be conscientiously satisfied that the preservation of decency and the comfort of society, required it to be applied. I am thence, Sir, instructed to give you this intimation: should Government observe that you persevere in acting on the principle which you have now asserted, there will be no previous discussion of any case in which you may be judged to have violated those laws of moral candour and essential justice, which are equally binding on all descriptions of the community. You will at once be apprized that your license to reside in India is annulled, and you will be required to furnish security for your quitting the country by the earliest convenient opportunity."

From the indignant tone of this letter, and the expressions with which it concludes, respecting the necessity of adhering to the laws of "moral candour and essential justice," it is plain that Lord Hastings now had become convinced that he had been trifled with, by promises never meant to be fulfilled, and that his liberal and generous forbearance and protection were met with quibbling sophistry and hollow professions, only made to be broken as soon as they had served the temporary purpose of averting immediate punishment; that, in short, he was not dealing with a man who had a mind impressed with those principles of rectitude, or that standard of action called "conscience," which might have guided him to observe common candour and fairness in his dealings.

In reply, Mr. Buckingham tacitly admitted that, in forming this judgment of him, Lord Hastings was not far from correct. The old censorship had been bad; the new restrictions were bad; but that the conductors of the press were to be guided by the rules of common honesty, he held to be worse still.

"I must now (he says), I fear, consider your letter of the 17th as establishing a new criterion, in lieu of the former, more safe, because more clearly defined guides for publication." Common honesty and justice, a new and severe criterion for him, though the judge were one of the most pure and magnanimous of men! But, indeed, he might think that the more upright the judge, so much the worse for the transgressor. In conclusion, Mr. Buckingham says:

"If so severe a punishment as banishment and ruin is to be inflicted on a supposed violation of the laws of moral candour and essential justice, of which I know not where to look for any definite standard, I fear that my best determinations will be of no avail."

Lord Hastings might have replied, that all good men look in their own breasts to the standard of honesty, which God has planted there. That it is to this standard, under heaven, all human actions must ultimately be referred, whether it be applied in the form of trial by jury, decision by a single judge, by a bench of justices, by a Governor, or by a Council: therefore no Government has yet enacted laws to define or determine what honesty and truth are, because they are supposed to be known to all; and the man who has them not implanted in his mind by nature, is unfit to live in human society. Pontius Pilate, indeed, once asked, "what is truth?" The divine founder of Christianity made no reply. When it was now asked, in the same sneering manner, "what are the rules of honesty and justice?" the good and virtuous Lord Hastings felt that it would be unworthy of him to reply. Consequently the following note was addressed to Mr. Buckingham:

"Sir: I am directed by his Excellency the most noble the Governor General in Council, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 27th ultimo, and to inform you, that the letter in question has produced no change in the sentiments and resolutions of Government, already communicated to you on the 17th ultimo."

4thly. Attacks on Lord Hastings' Administration. -- The following extracts, of another letter from the Government, and Mr. Buckingham's reply to it, are an apt illustration of his confessed unacquaintance with the rules of "moral candour and essential justice:"

To Mr. J. S. Buckingham, Editor of the Calcutta Journal.

Sir: The attention of the Governor General in Council has been called to a discussion in the Calcutta Journal of the 31st ultimo, respecting the power of Government to forbid the further continuance within the British territories in India, of any European not being a covenanted servant of the Honourable Company.

With a suppression of facts, most mischievous, as tending to betray others into penal error, you have put out of view the circumstance that the residence alluded to, if it be without a license, is criminal by the law of England; while, if the residence be sanctioned by license, it is upon the special recorded condition, not simply of obedience to what the local Government may see cause to enjoin, but to the holding a conduct which that Government shall deem to merit its countenance and protection; a breach of which condition forfeits the indulgence, and renders it liable to extinction.

This provision, which the legislature of your country has thought proper to enact (53 Geo. IIII. cap. 155, sect. 36), you have daringly endeavoured to discredit and nullify, by asserting that 'transmission for offences through the press is a power wholly unknown to the law;' that 'no regulation exists in the statute book for restraining the press in India;' and that 'the more the monstrous doctrine of transmission is examined, the more it must excite the abhorrence of all just minds.'

No comment is requisite on the gross disingenuousness of describing as a tyrannous authority that power, the legality and justice of which you had acknowledged by your voluntary acceptance of a leave, granted on terms involving your express recognition to that effect. Neither is it necessary to particularize the many minor indecencies in the paper observed upon, since you have brought the matter to one decisive point.

Whether the act of the British Legislature, or the opinion of an individual shall be predominant, is now at issue. It is thence imperative on the duty of the local Government to put the subject at rest. The long-tried forbearance of the Governor General will fully prove the extreme reluctance with which he adopts a measure of harshness; and even now, his Excellency in Council is pleased to give you the advantage of one more warning. You are now finally apprized, if you shall again venture to impeach the validity of the statute quoted, and the legitimacy of the power vested by it in the chief authority here, or shall treat with disregard any official injunction, past or future, from Government, whether communicated in terms of command, or in the gentler language of intimation, your license will be immediately cancelled, and you will be ordered to depart forthwith from India."

In replying to the above, Mr. Buckingham gave the following piece of an argument between him and a cotemporary journal:

"With the most wilful blindness to all that had been passing for the last four years in India, the editor of John Bull opened his dissertation with the following singular confession: 'In the first place, then, we must begin by acknowledging candidly, that till Thursday last, when the matter was announced in the Calcutta Journal, we had not the most remote idea that a free press was established in India;' and then goes on to insinuate that the professions of the Governor General were of no value whatever, and that that freedom of the press for which he had so justly received the thanks and admiration of his countrymen from all quarters of India, not only did not exist now, but never had, and never was intended to have, any force or meaning whatever.

On the following day (August 27), I noticed these ungenerous, and, as they appeared to me, unwarranted assertions of my opponent, by saying that I believed the wish of the Governor General was in unison with his professions, that the press should be held amenable to the courts of law for its offences (that being the process observed by his Lordship in the majority of the cases in which he had thought proper to interfere, and in the most recent instances also); and that if this were the case, the press must be considered free; for all that was ever meant by me in using that term, was, free from any other restraint or control than that imposed by a court of law and a jury."

Here Mr. Buckingham alleges, that by all that had occurred during the last three years, Lord Hastings must be held to have declared that the press was to be free from any restraint but "a court of law and a jury;" and that if his lordship did not mean this, it is insinuated that he was an arrant hypocrite and a deceiver. What is the fact? That the whole of Lord Hastings' declarations, even in the reply to the Madras address itself, were the very reverse of what Mr. Buckingham here pretends. They were that the liberty of the press was to be narrowed by "special and urgent cause assigned," and to be restrained, therefore, both by the laws of England, and by the further limitations specified in Lord Hastings' regulation, enacted expressly for the Indian press.

But the most singular thing is, that a little afterwards, in the very same letter, Mr. Buckingham asserts that the laws of England imposed no legal restraint on the Indian press. His words are:

"I beg distinctly to state, that so far from having suppressed the fact of its being unlawful for Englishmen to reside in India without license, I have admitted and reiterated that fact times beyond number, always making it the ground of my argument for saying that the fear of having this license withdrawn, and being therefore sent to England as a person unauthorized to remain in India, is the most powerful as well as the only legal restraint even now exercised over the Indian press."

What an admirable and consistent advocate of free discussion, to discover and point out to the Government, that the exercise of the power of "summary transportation without trial" was "their only legal mode of regulating the press!" Then the recourse which had been had "in the most recent instances" (as he had a little before stated), to a court of law, must have been highly illegal and improper! In the next paragraph he goes on to say:

"Neither on the statute book of England nor the statute book of India, by which I mean the printed and public regulations of the Government, issued and passed in the usual form, am I aware of any law for restraining the Indian press."

Here then, in the same letter, were three propositions maintained:--

1st. That the press was free from any other restraint than that imposed by a court of law and a jury.

2dly. That the legal, and the ONLY legal restraint existing, was that of summary transportation without trial.

3dly. That there was no law, either in England or in India, for restraining the press there, which was consequently more free than the English press itself.

These three were brought forward to prove the truth of a fourth proposition, namely, his former assertion which had been condemned by the Government, viz.

4thly. That transmission (to England) for offences through the press, was a power wholly unknown to the law.

The man who could assert in the same letter these different and diametrically opposite propositions, might well think it a grievous hardship to be tried by the rules of "moral candour and essential justice," and say, he knew not where to look for any definite standard of them!

It would be useless to pursue further such a maze of endless contradictions. It is enough to state that Mr. Buckingham continued to follow the same course, and employed the whole energies of the press, invigorated as it had become by the degree of liberty conferred upon it by Lord Hastings, to cast a shade on the character and closing administration of this nobleman: its generous, and now almost only protector, to whose magnanimity and indulgence Mr. Buckingham himself owed his good fortune and even existence in Bengal; but for which he must have been expelled (as he had before been from Bombay), and thrown upon the world again, a needy adventurer, to live by his wits or the precarious bounty of his friends.

It is now clear enough that Mr. Buckingham was secretly of this same opinion, and felt conscious that as soon as Lord Hastings, now the object of his revilings, left the country, all hopes of farther protection or impunity were at an end. This event was to take place in the beginning of the year 1823, and in the latter part of 1822 Mr. Buckingham prepared for the coming storm. He resorted to the following notable plan of selling out the property he had in his Journal.

He proposed to convert the concern into a sort of joint-stock company, by selling it in shares of 1,000 rupees (or about £100) each. As an inducement to purchase these shares, he informed the public, that the concern was worth four lacs of rupees (or about £40,000 sterling); that this amount was made up one-half of copyright, one-fourth of property on the spot, and the remaining fourth of property, types, presses, &c. ordered from Mr. Richardson, (28, Cornhill,) his agent in England.

"These [says the prospectus, from which I quote the words] will all leave England before the end of this year (1822), and some portions are now on their way out; all of which being to be paid before, out of my funds, by a credit on Fletcher, Alexander, and Co.* [Then of Devonshire Square, now of King's Arms Yard, Coleman Street.] to cover insurance and every risk, must be added to the dead stock of the concern, which will make its whole value amount to 2,00,000 rupees, as the security on which the shares taken are to be held."

On this security, to which he bound himself by legal contract, he sold by his own account 100 shares, obtaining for the same gross sum of 1,00,000 rupees or nearly £10,000 sterling. Now, though the purchasers might have formed a rough estimate of the value of property on the spot, or the copyright of a paper, provided the accounts were fairly stated, it is evident they could form no judgment of the value of goods stated to be on the way from England. These they must have taken on the confidence that the individual who said he had commissioned and sent funds to pay for them was acting with good faith; and that if he sold property which had no existence, in order to put the price thereof into his pocket, he would come within the provisions of the useful statute enacted against the obtaining of money on false pretences.

Though it may be anticipating, it is proper to state here, in connection with this project, that the agent referred to in England has since stated that he did not send goods to any thing near the amount specified, or even so much as a fifth part of the sum, at the period to which this contract applies. And there is no evidence yet produced of the funds having been remitted to obtain them. It is no marvel, therefore, if in India no proofs appeared of their ever having arrived; and the whole materials of the concern were soon after sold by public auction (the ordinary mode of disposing of property in Bengal, and adopted in this case, therefore, by Mr. Buckingham's agents as the most advantageous), for less than two thousand pounds, a tenth part of the amount contracted for as "the security on which the share taken were to be held!" The reader may form his own judgment as to the causes of this most extraordinary discrepancy.

The real value of the copyright of the Journal, allowing it to be worth six months' produce of the gross receipts, or two years of the net profit, would have been about £8,000; but this is a very high calculation, considering that it was a Journal of such ephemeral standing, and liable to be suppressed daily by the arbitrary banishment of its conductors. Adding to this the above sum of £2,000 for actual tangible property, we have a total value of £10,000, just equal to the sum Mr. Buckingham had raised by the sale of shares.

The condition on which these shares were held made them a kind of mortgage over the concern; as the holder of each became entitled to a daily paper of sixteen quarto pages free of charge (except postage), costing sixteen rupees per mensem, and amounting in all, for 100 shares, to Sa. Rs. 19,200 per annum, or nearly £2.000 sterling yearly. Besides this, as the whole concern was conceived to be divided into 400 shares, each of which was to be entitled to a corresponding proportion of the profits, the 100 shares sold would absorb one-fourth of the whole net receipts or profits. Supposing these to be, as Mr. Buckingham has so often since asserted, £8,000 per annum, the fourth of this added to the above £2,000 would render the annual charge upon the concern £4,000. But his own printed estimate of the actual receipts and disbursements for the last six months of 1822, which he published at that time in Bengal, made the net profit to be no more than 25 per cent on the receipts, or about £4,500 in all. The same estimate represented the shareholders as drawing an interest of 308 rupees per annum on each share, which for 100 shares is equal to 30,800, or in round numbers about £3,000 yearly.

Such was the weighty consideration which Mr. Buckingham had bound himself, "his heirs, executors, and administrators," to make good for seven years, to the purchasers of shares (or mortgagees, as they may well be called). He had also bound himself to give his own personal services for three years; and not voluntarily to leave the country under a penalty of 50,000 rupees. He had further contracted to export to the concern property to the amount of 100,000 rupees as above shewn. Now he knew that if the government could only be provoked to remove him from the country he would, in the first place, be relieved of the above 50,000 rupees penalty. 2dly, He would be removed from the severe exposures of his character to which he was now subjected, on account of his previous conduct in Egypt and Syria.

3dly, He would be out of hearing of any clamours that might be raised about the fulfilment of his contract, as to the promised exportation of the property to the value of £10,000. Lastly, if others in his absence should by possibility succeed in carrying on such a concern, with a burden upon it of above £3,000 per annum, the labour, and anxiety, and waste of health, would fall upon them. If they failed, or sunk under it, and the concern with them, then he would get rid of all his remaining obligations, and have his £10,000 snug in his pocket! Under these circumstances, the following is the contumelious stile in which he wrote of the venerable Marquis of Hastings, at first his patron, and to the last, notwithstanding so many years of misrepresentation, contumacy, and insolence, his magnanimous protector against the numerous and powerful enemies his controversies, turbulence, and slanders, had raised against him. He tauntingly told his Lordship, now on the eve of his departure, and adopting the figure of speech which he thought would be most galling to an aged military chief:--

"The banners by which the free press of India was first protected, have been since unhappily abandoned, deserted, fallen, and IGNOMINIOUSLY furled, by the very hands that were the first to unfold and wave them in pride and exultation over our heads."

This self-confuted invective was directed against a Governor-General of India in the plenitude of his power. With one word he might have banished his defamer to the ends of the earth, -- from Bengal to the shores of Europe; knowing that every member of his government would have applauded the deed. But he neither punished, nor expressed the resentment. Yet persons were found so unjust and ungrateful, as to employ that freedom which the Marquis of Hastings had bestowed on the Indian press, to accuse him of basely deserting his principles, and covering himself with ignominy! That very press, whose tongue he had unshackled, employed its liberty to load him with insult; and the very man whom his protection had saved from beggary and ruin, and fostered into consequence, employs it to tarnish his name, and, if possible, dim the lustre of that well-earned fame, which had been consecrated, and rendered venerable, by the accumulated honours of nearly half a century.

Lord Hastings soon after took his departure for Europe. And when the influence of his benignant character ceased to shine upon India, the liberty of the press which he had established, and all the hopes of improvement associated with it, soon sunk with him into the darkest night. This will be more fully illustrated in the following chapter.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue Mar 30, 2021 5:36 am

Part 2 of 7


LORD HASTINGS took his departure for Europe on the 1st of January 1828, and was succeeded in his authority by Mr. John Adam, as Senior Member of Council. Affairs went on very quietly for some weeks, till a satirical attack was made in the Calcutta Journal, on the appointment of Dr. James Bryce, head of the Presbyterian Church in Bengal, to the situation of clerk to the committee for controlling the expenditure of Government stationery. An old feud existed between this gentleman and Mr. Buckingham, which arose from some skirmishing between them soon after the latter established his Journal. On the return of Dr. Bryce from Europe, after an absence of some years, this feud was revived with increased bitterness. A series of letters appeared in the Calcutta newspaper called "John Bull," under the signature of "A Friend to Mr. Bankes," attacking in the severest possible manner the conduct of Mr. Buckingham to that gentleman while they were fellow travellers in Palestine; and of these letters, which from being anonymous, and from their great power, severity, and effect, were regarded as the productions of an Indian Junius, Dr. Bryce, from his known talents, was supposed to be the author. It was insinuated, therefore, that the situation given him by the Government was a reward for his services, in writing down a person so obnoxious to those in authority; Mr. Buckingham could not resist so favourable an opportunity for balancing an old account by an attack on the parson: as by ridiculing the appointment, he could at once avenge his private grudge, and put another thorn in the side of the Government.

The Rev. Dr. James Bryce as a Chaplain on the Bengal Ecclesiastical Establishment arrived in Calcutta on 28th November 1814 to begin his duties as a clergyman of the Church of Scotland at the Presidency.

-- Historical Church of the Lord Jesus, Kolkata, by

Mr. Adam did not imitate the forbearance of his much-reviled predecessor. Lord Hastings had gone on from month to month, and from year to year, admonishing Mr. Buckingham to obey the laws, warning him of the consequences of disobedience. In order to avert these consequences, with a sort of paternal solicitude over the infant liberty of the press he had created, he employed alternately the language of menace and indulgence. Notwithstanding he possessed the power at once to command obedience, and crush opposition to his will, he shewed himself willing to expostulate and reason with the conductors of the press as a friend. [b]If you proceed in this violent and' forbidden course, he argued, you will thereby bring into question and disrepute the policy of the measures I have adopted in favour of the press, and ruin the very cause you profess to advocate.[/b]

What had been the answers made to this friendly caution? First, Mr. Buckingham says: this is the first time your regulations have been effectually brought to my notice: I shall henceforth make them my guide. Next time, when reminded that he had broken this promise, he says: "O, my Lord, I thought all the laws and regulations of Government on the subject were abolished by the fine speech you made one day in reply to the Madras address." Being given to know that this was not the case, he again promises amendment. But by and bye, he finds another excuse, and a most notable one it is for justifying every transgression. He tells Lord Hastings, "I and others have been violating one or other of your regulations every day; and, therefore, I thought they were no longer in existence!"

How admirably this argument would apply at Bow Street, if stated thus, after the manner of Sir Jeremy Bentham in a late production. A culprit might say to Sir Richard Birnie, "My good fellow, you have praised the liberty of acquiring wealth which exists in this country; you know very well, that I and a hundred others have been living with daily commission of theft for many years; I therefore thought the laws against taking other people's property no longer existed. On these grounds I hope you will let me off!"

Mr. Adam seemed resolved to cut short this line of argument, and save himself from being taunted, as Lord Hastings had been, with his humanity and indulgence. He at once passed an order that Mr. Buckingham should quit the country without delay. Whether or not that measure was strictly called for at the time is not the question. The only point worthy of consideration is, whether or not the whole tenour of Mr. Buckingham's conduct was not such as to lead inevitably to this result, and to all the consequences which followed, of a nature, still more fatal to the press.

The readiness -- I may say alacrity -- of Mr. Buckingham to comply with the order to quit the country -- the saucy and flippant style of his replies to it; formed a remarkable contrast with his long and laboured explanations to the Government on former occasions, when the danger was much less imminent.
In fact, he now did not so much as condescend to ask the Government to mitigate his sentence, or even to grant him a few weeks' indulgence to arrange his affairs. This at the time was attributed to magnanimity. The reader, however, who is now better informed than we were as to the real state of his affairs, will judge whether the £10,000 he had raised as above shewn, under a contract to export his co-proprietors' property to that amount and deliver goods to the value of £2,000 per annum, &c., may not have contributed somewhat to reconcile him to the idea of being off with what he had got, and of leaving such troublesome obligations behind him!

Had the mischief ended here, it would have been comparatively very trifling indeed; but the idea of some hundreds of individuals, of all ranks and conditions in and out of the service, being leagued together in a sort of "Joint Stock Company" to support an organ of public opinion, exerting an extensive and powerful influence over the public mind, seems to have alarmed the Government. As Sir Francis McNaghten afterwards forcibly expressed it, in giving his fiat from the Bench, he and others appear to have regarded it as a kind of public funds, which were to be raised by the downfall of the Government, and they therefore resolved, in his words, "to put an end to such stocks and such stock-jobbing." At the same time, being myself of opinion that the Indian press was ever too feeble and inefficient instead of being too strong, so long as I believed that the share scheme had only the fair and honest motive in view of rendering the press more stable and permanent, I should have been the last to condemn it. Shewing now, however, that the scheme was founded in delusion, and had in all respects quite a contrary tendency from that which it professed to aim, I cannot but regard it as one of the most pernicious and disgraceful impositions ever practised on the public; for it was the immediate cause of a new and fatal Regulation being enacted for the press, evidently framed with the views of putting down such combinations.

The principle of the New Regulation for the Press (which bears the signatures of Mr. Adam, Sir Edward Paget, Mr. Fendall, and Mr. Harington, and is dated 15th of March 1823) was, that no newspaper or other periodical work, containing public intelligence or political discussion, could be published or carried on without a license from the Government; and that after a periodical had obtained such license, the same might be recalled, and the publication suppressed, whenever the Government might think proper to do so.

It being necessary that any regulation issued by the Government of Bengal affecting the rights of British subjects or others within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of English Judicature established there, shall have the sanction of that Court before it can have the force of law, some of the friends of free discussion resolved to enter their protest, and state their reasons in that Court against the confirmation of the law proposed. Sir Francis McNaghten, the only Judge at that time on the bench, being well known to be a man of high and independent mind, as well as of the most liberal and generous feelings, and a lover of popularity, there was still reason to hope that the obnoxious law might be arrested, in its progress; suspended during a reference to England; or, if sanctioned, at least considerably modified in its provisions.

On the matter being moved in Court, Sir Francis readily consented to hear all that could be said against the law; and on that occasion dropped the following encouraging expressions:

"I am not compelled to register it at all: there are precedents for refusal by this Court: I think it would be better if in the mean time the parties would apply to the Government. The business is yet hardly before the Court, for the Government could recall the ordinance if they chose."

The legal discussion of it in court was fixed for the last day of March (1828); and the following parties prepared to oppose the registration. 1st. On the part of the native inhabitants a memorial was drawn up by the justly-celebrated Rammohun Roy and others, which, in a spirit of mild and respectful remonstrance, besought the Government not to deprive its many millions of native subjects of the right of stating their grievances, and making their true condition known to it -- a right which they had never been charged with having abused, and had done nothing to forfeit. 2dly, On the part of the British inhabitants, Counsel were retained by the proprietors of the newspaper press. And, 3dly, on the part of the Indo-British community, Counsel, were instructed by some of this body to oppose the rule with the whole force of their legal arguments.

Mr. Fergusson (Robert Cutlar Fergusson, Esq., now M.P. for the county of Galloway) and Mr. Turton, as being two of the most eminent counsel then at the Calcutta bar, were chosen to advocate the rights of the people of India on this important occasion. The ground of argument would, a priori, have seemed to be within a very narrow compass; namely, whether the new law proposed was, or was not, repugnant to the laws of England: for by Act of Parliament the Government of India is prohibited from enacting any such rule, regulation, or by-law, which shall be contrary to commonsense, or "repugnant to the laws of England." Now if it were referred to the British Parliament, or to an English court of' justice, whether a law enabling the Duke of Wellington, or any other minister, and his colleagues, to prohibit the publication of any newspaper, &c. without their license, and to recall such license at pleasure when granted; in ether words, to suppress, if they chose, any or all the newspapers in the United Kingdom whenever they thought fit, without any form of trial, would the question be entertained for a moment; or would any man be so bold as to stand up and say that this was not repugnant to the laws of England?

Sir Francis McNaghten, however, decided the question on political rather than on legal grounds. By the following extract from his speech, it will appear that he considered Mr. Buckingham as having formed himself and his friends into a joint-stock company, to make their own fortunes, by wielding the energies of the Press in the hands of an unprincipled man for the destruction of the Government.

"If the papers (said be) are like the prices of stocks, to depend for their value upon the defeat of the enemy, and to rise and fall accordingly, and if the Government is to be considered as that enemy, I would put an end to such stocks and such stock-jobbing."

With respect to Mr. Buckingham his Lordship observed that after having been openly bearded by him, after every means of defiance had been made use of by him, the Government had acted very leniently.

"Now had I," said his Lordship, "been in the situation of Government, I would not have allowed a copy of that paper to have left Calcutta by my post."

But that such outrages as those contained in Mr. Buckingham's paper, rendered it the bounden duty of Government to put them down.

Sir Francis urged other reasons in favour of the new law, but that on which he laid most stress was the fact that Mr. Buckingham, on being expelled from the country, had substituted in his stead, as editor of the Calcutta Journal, a Mr. Sandys, a person of Indian birth, and partly of Asiatic extraction, consequently not liable to be removed, like a British subject, by a mere firman of the Governor-general; and that the Government had then, he said, been insolently told, that its attempts to restrain the Press would be of no avail; that it would now be between two fires -- that of Mr. Buckingham in England, and his East-Indian editor in Calcutta. His Lordship spoke with great indignation of what he called Mr. Buckingham's manifesto to this effect; and avowed, that had he been in the place of the Government, he would have disregarded all forms of law, and have suppressed that paper by main force.

"To what purpose (he asked) could the Legislature have empowered this Government to send every British subject out of the country who might be supposed to have misconducted himself, if those who were certainly not higher in the contemplation of Parliament might resist and insult the authorities with comparative impunity? It was his opinion, that the name of that gentleman (Mr. Sandys) had been used in such a manner as a Government like this could not endure. If he had been a British subject, and had committed an offence against the British Government to-day, he might be ordered to depart from the country to-morrow. Yet what is the insolent boast? That he is free from all control of the Government, and amenable to this Court alone. There is no man," continued his Lordship, "in the use of his reason, who can believe that the Legislature intended to secure the Government against assaults from British subjects, and lay it open, at the same time, to the outrages of men, who cannot be supposed to have the interests of England so much at heart as British subjects."

The best precaution had been taken to prevent the possibility of any such injurious consequences arising from the appointment of an East-Indian editor, supposing them to be probable. This editor was restricted from publishing any thing without the previous sanction of two British subjects, who were associated with him in the management of the paper. And neither of them, I may venture to say, was of a temperament to suffer the insertion of what he deemed hurtful to the interests, or derogatory to the honour of the land of his nativity. Whether it was wise to conjoin with its conductors an individual whose name could afford them very little advantage or protection, and whose legal privileges only served to irritate the Government into more violent measures, is another question.

My own connexion with the Indian press at this period, enables me to reply satisfactorily to this part of the political argument of the learned Judge. The general intimidation produced by the order for Mr. Buckingham's expulsion was such that very few British subjects would have consented to place themselves in the dangerous position of his ostensible successor. A young barrister (Mr. Turlon) was stated to have declined it, though offered above £1,000 a year for only an hour or two's attendance daily. Being unlicensed myself, I knew that assuming such an office would have served no useful purpose, and have been only provoking a sentence of expulsion. Having pledged myself, however, to support the paper, I considered myself bound to fulfil that pledge to the utmost of my power, and at any risk, whoever else might be appointed editor. But as Mr. Sandys was a gentleman of whose character or principles I had no personal knowledge, I deemed it proper to stipulate that I should have the power of objecting to the insertion of any thing which I might regard as repugnant to the feelings or inconsistent with the duty of a British subject.* [This stipulation, which in happier times might have been considered honourable to all parties, and praiseworthy to its originator, has, as will appear in the sequel, been a principal cause of all the misfortunes I have suffered during the last seven years.][/b]

I am happy to state, to the credit of Mr. Buckingham, that in this he acquiesced in my views; and the following was accordingly inserted in the printed rules framed for conducting the Journal:

"Though Mr. Sandys, as editor, will have the task and responsibility of exercising his censorship on all that is to be published, I desire also that Mr. Arnot and Mr. Sutherland" (our English coadjutor) "shall equally exercise the right of wholly rejecting, or partially correcting, softening, and amending, any thing intended for publication. Each must have the right of striking out any portion of what is written by the other, whenever he may think it objectionable in any point of view. I shall thus be as well assured as I could desire, that nothing calculated to inflict unnecessary pain on any class will be permitted to be published."

But Sir Francis McNaghten's argument that the British Legislature could not have intended to place natives of the United Kingdom inhabiting India in a worse situation than natives of India living in their own country, was to the last degree untenable. The fact is indubitable, that the British Legislature did intend, and expressly enacted, that it should be so. [b]When this law took its origin, the Indo-British class had not yet sprung up. By birth-right, they are justly entitled to all the privileges of other natives; and it would have been more worthy of a judge to demonstrate by his reductio-ad-absurdum method the inconsistency and impolicy of withholding any longer from a handful of British subjects, the rights and privileges enjoyed by the mass of the native population and their descendants, than to argue that the disabilities of the few ought to be extended to the many. When it is considered, also, that the many had done nothing to forfeit their rights, and had uniformly exercised the liberty of the press in the most modest and inoffensive manner, as feelingly pleaded in the memorial of the natives of India to the King of England, how hard and unjust it must appear (to adopt their own words), "FOR THE FAULTS IMPUTED TO ONE MAN, TO PUNISH MILLIONS!"

This, however, was the lamentable result; and the indignation evinced by Sir Francis McNaghten at what he termed the insolence of Mr. Buckingham in bearding the Government, and his scheme of raising a system of stock-jobbing on its downfall, was evidently the predominating reason operating on the mind of the learned judge when he sanctioned the measure.

It having thus become law, the Government then founded on it a new set of restrictions for the press, prohibiting animadversion or censure on the following topics: 1st. The King and the Royal Family. 2dly, The Court of Directors, and other authorities in England connected with the Government of India. 3dly, Allied or friendly Native Powers, their ministers or representatives. 4thly, The Governor-General, Governors, or Commanders in-Chief, Members of Council, Judges of His Majesty's Courts, and the Lord Bishop of Calcutta; ALSO "libellous or abusive reflections and insinuations against the public officers of Government." 5thly, Statements calculated to alarm or offend the native population on the subject of religion. 6thly, The re-publication from English papers of any thing coming under these heads. 7thly, Remarks calculated to disturb the harmony and good order of society. 8thly, Anonymous appeals to the public respecting professional or official grievances.

On these the native memorial to the King justly remarks as follows:

"The above restrictions, as they are capable of being interpreted, will, in fact, afford the Government, and all its functionaries, from the highest to the lowest, complete immunity from censure or exposure respecting any thing done by them in their official capacity, however desirable it might be for the interest of this country, and also that of the Honourable Company, that the public conduct of such men should not be allowed to pass unnoticed." The real object of the restriction, they add, "is associated with a number of other restraints totally uncalled-for, but well calculated to soothe the supreme authorities in England, and win their assent to the main object of the rule -- the suppression of all remark on the conduct of the public officers of the Government in India."

Periodical publications were now liabIe to be suppressed at any time the Government chose. To have any thing to do with the conducting of a public journal, subjected to such galling fetters, was a task from which I would gladly have been relieved. Its irksomeness was rather aggravated by the triple censorship above explained. But being pledged to it, I resolved to persevere, with the earnest desire to give no just ground for the suppression of the journal; no ground, at least which would justify that measure in the eyes of the public, or even of the Court of East-India Directors, or of the British Parliament, should it ever deign to bestow its attention on the fate of the Indian press. Notwithstanding the utmost care, however, the local authorities did not cease to censure, carp, and cavil, from time to time, at various little things which are totally unworthy of mention.

One good property, it was reasonably expected, the new rule would possess, viz. As it had professed to place native editors on a level with British-born subjects, it was to be hoped that the latter would not now be subjected to any arbitrary penalties not inflicted on the former. A short period dispelled this idea; but as new lords are said to have new laws, this will more properly fall under the head of Lord Amherst's administration.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:53 am

Part 3 of 7


The Right Hon. William Pitt, Lord Amherst (since created Earl of Arracan, as a reward for his having acquired and encumbered the revenues of Bengal with that useless and pestilential province at the cost of the flower of the Indian army, and a perpetual debt, it is calculated, of about £500,000 per annum,) arrived in Bengal as Governor General, about the 1st of August 1823. Very soon afterwards, viz. on the 30th of that month, there was pub1ished in the Calcutta Journal a long defence of his Majesty's Supreme Court of Justice at Calcutta, against an attack of a cotemporary publication upon a decision of one of its judges -- Sir Anthony Buller. As the judges were, by the new law, protected from animadversion equally with the Government itself, it was reasonably believed that the same power which permitted them to be attacked, would permit them to be defended. To the astonishment of every one, however, the following passage in the defence was fixed upon as sufficiently culpable to justify the suppression of the paper, or the transportation of its conductors.

"Our readers cannot but recollect the subject of the paper for which Mr. Buckingham was removed from India. The mention of this event is essential to our present argument, and we hope we may speak of it as a matter of history without offence, as we shall express no opinion on it either one way or another. If it were not absolutely necessary, we should not even allude to it; but in doing so, we shall not, for a moment, forget the respect due to the established laws and government of the country. The article in question, related to the appointment of Dr. Bryce, as clerk to the Stationery Committee, and the part of it which is understood to have been so offensive to the Government as to determine Mr. Buckingham's transmission, was an allusion to the report of Dr. Bryce being the author of those letters, placed in connection with his appointment to his secular office. Thus, it appears, Dr. Bryce's reputed authorship and pluralities, were the cause of Mr. Buckingham's removal; and of the new laws which are in consequence established for the press. But for him, this society might have continued in the enjoyment of all its former privileges, nor have been deprived of one of its members. When those who watch with anxious expectation the progress of improvement in this country, and the spread of that Gospel which Dr. Bryce is commissioned to preach, consider the effects of these measures, it will be for them to award him the praise or censure which they think he has deserved."

The above paragraph was called a gross violation of the laws for the press, though they contained the following apparently very liberal qualifying clause: viz.

"The foregoing rules impose no irksome restraints on the publication and discussion of any matters of general interest relating to European or Indian affairs, provided they are conducted with the temper and decorum which the Government has a right to expect from those living under its protection; neither do they preclude individuals  from offering, in a temperate and decorous manner, through the channel of the public newspapers, or other periodical works, their own views and sentiments relative to matters affecting the interests of the community."

Notwithstanding the kind assurance and encouragement, I may almost say temptation, here held out to every one to discuss, and offer his own views and sentiments on any matters of public interest, &c., an individual was now sentenced to suffer banishment from the country for being merely connected with a paper, which contained the foregoing highly decorous, temperate, and respectful paragraph. I was not even charged with having written it; but the Government declared "Mr. Sandys and Mr. Arnot" to be "the avowed conductors of the paper," and therefore "clearly and personally responsible;" and that, as they were unwilling to suppress the journal, and as Mr. Sandys, being a native of India, could not be arbitrarily banished, Mr. Arnot should be so, as being an unlicensed British subject, for A warning and example to others.

My answer to this has been, that the mere want of' a license or passport to reside in Bengal had not, from time immemorial, been considered a sufficient ground for removing anyone from that country; far less, especially, after be had resided for several years with the tacit consent of the Government as I had done; and far less since the opening of the trade to India, at the last renewal of the East-India Company's Charter. 2dy. That I could not consider it a political offence to support with my pen a journal which was published by the express license of the Government, so long as that license was unrecalled. 3dly. That the paragraph objected to was not, in fact, a violation of the rules for the press, by any fair or just interpretation of them. 4thly. If it had been so, I was not by any means personally responsible for it as conductor of the paper; this responsibility having been openly and avowedly undertaken by Mr. Sandys. It is unnecessary to multiply reasons against the measure, as it was so utterly indefensible that no person, either in Asia or Europe, in so far as I know, ever stood up publicly to defend it. And as Lord Amherst's administration never were able to justify it, either to the public in India, or to the satisfaction of their official friends and supporters in England, its true causes must perhaps be sought for in other than public or political grounds.

It is well known that the East-India Company have ever regarded with a peculiar degree of jealousy the growth of a British community in India, independent of their government. To guard against this, persons were to be forbidden to proceed to reside in India without the license of the Court of Directors; and military officers or others resigning the service, were to be required to proceed to Europe without delay. The former restriction was intended to prevent a sudden influx of British settlers; the latter, to guard against the influence of men who, after having risen, during a series of years, to a high rank in the public service, and having thereby formed extensive connexions in every branch of it, as well as acquired a thorough knowledge of the resources of the country and policy of the state, with its points of strength or weakness, might, it was supposed, by connecting themselves with great mercantile houses, and thereby obtaining the command of large funds, and becoming the bankers or agents of the numerous military and other officers who were indebted to such houses, wield an influence formidable to such a Government as that of India, which is itself composed of the agents of a commercial body. Most of the great houses of Calcutta were fortified by the influence of such civil and military servants of the Company who had retired from its service, to connect their interests with those of the body of free-traders and private merchants; and the jealousy of the Directors at home must have been still more roused, by the marked support which some of these houses had given to the efforts of the press to inculcate and extend the principles of free trade and colonization.

There is little doubt, therefore, that this subject must have been frequently pressed on the attention of the Bengal Government in the despatches from home. But it would have been an ungracious thing for the Company's officers to put such laws in force against their old friends and fellow-servants, nearly of the same rank and standing with themselves, who had now also the means of being eminently useful to them, and might probably have conferred great obligations on the very persons who were expected to assist in effecting the ruin of their prospects. For example, Dr. Ballard, of the house of Messrs. Alexander and Co. the agent of Mr. Buckingham, and managing proprietor of the Calcutta Journal, had been a surgeon in the Company's service; had established a bank in the interior; and had at last become a member of that respectable firm. He exercised a controlling power over the Calcutta Journal by means of a legal instrument -- could sanction the removal of its conductors -- occasionally contributed editorial articles, and wrote the paragraph for which it was finally suppressed; as was elicited in evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons (not the paragraph above quoted). But then he was the intimate friend of Mr. Butterworth Bayley (since member of the Supreme Council, and for some time Governor General), then chief secretary and supervisor of the press. They were, besides, of the same religious party it is said, and attended prayer-meetings, and sung psalms together. To this pious party Mr. Sandys, the East-Indian editor, I believe also belonged. How it happened I know not; but certain it is, that Dr. Ballard was allowed to remain in the country for years after, accumulating a fortune to return at his leisure, and enjoy it in England. It was natural, perhaps, that the Government should endeavour to take credit to itself, with the authorities in England, by selecting an isolated individual, as a substitute for more powerful men!

By our private agreement, then known only to those immediately concerned, it was stipulated that I should have the power of objecting to the insertion of any thing which I conceived hurtful to the feelings, or inconsistent with the duty, of a British subject. To avoid offence. perhaps, this power was expressed in the most general terms. Unless this private agreement had been made known to the Government some way or other,  it could have had no grounds for assuming as it did, that "Mr. Arnot" was, jointly with "Mr. Sandys," "the avowed conductor "of the paper," and "clearly and personally responsible" for any article "professedly editorial;" No such thing had ever been asserted; but quite the reverse. Mr. Sandys had always been distinctly avowed as the sole responsible editor; and to undertake that responsibility he had contracted for a high reward.

Let me here make one reflection. Were a native of these islands to engage to conduct a public political journal, in conjunction with an American, or a Frenchman, or a person of any other nation, known, or supposed, to regard British subjects with jealousy, and were he to stipulate in consequence that nothing should be inserted without his previous approval; I should conceive such a reservation to be praiseworthy, and only a proof of strictly conscientious and patriotic feelings. What should be thought, then, of a British Government, which would make such a clause, when surreptitiously discovered, a ground for visiting a British subject with banishment and ruin? Such was the first public act of Lord Amherst's government.

The result of this measure I shall narrate as concisely as possible. On the 12th of September 1828 I was taken into custody on a warrant of the Governor-General, and lodged in the strong room (as it is called) of the Royal Barracks, Fort William, to be detained there until a Company's ship should be ready to convey me to England; which might probably involve a preliminary confinement of several months, there being no such vessel likely to sail for that period. Having ascertained that this was illegal, I authorized Mr. Hogg, attorney-at-law, to make application on my behalf to the Supreme Court for my release by habeas corpus. A writ having been issued accordingly, and a return made by the Fort-major, Col. Vaughan, the case was discussed on the 19th before the Hon. Sir Francis Macnaghten and Sir Anthony Buller. Mr. Turton (son of Sir Thomas Turton). before-mentioned, as advocating the cause of the press, took up the case for "the prisoner" in the most disinterested manner. The gentlemen of the law vied with each other in offers of gratuitous assistance; and the result was expected with deep interest; for had the legality of the arrest been affirmed by the court, almost every jail in India might have been filled, next day, with unlicensed British subjects.

After a full discussion of the question by Mr. Turton and Mr. Fergusson, who appeared as advocate-general on behalf of the Government, it was decided by Sir Francis Macnaghten, the senior judge (his junior dissenting), that the act empowering the Government to arrest, and embark on board a ship bound for England, did not authorize any person's confinement. The following memorable sentiments uttered by the learned Judge on this occasion, shew how much the state of feeling on the subject of the press had been improved since the removal of Mr. Buckingham. Then it was regarded as a public enemy, and the court of law emulated the council of state in establishing laws to put it down. Now, however, by moderate conduct a revulsion of feeling had been produced in its favour; and the same judge who formerly denounced its errors, had now become the firm and patriotic defender of its conductors.

Sir Francis Macnaghten began by:

"regretting that there was little hope of a concurrence of opinion between him and his colleague in office on the subject before them. But (said his Lordship) I think there must be something plain and distinct -- something clear and express in the Act of Parliament -- something which admits of no other construction, before the subject can be deprived of his liberty. If this principle be not adhered to, and preserved without any reservation, then I know of no security from the laws on which the subject can place reliance. I am well aware that, if the Governor-General, acting under 33d Geo. III., or the 53d, send to England British subjects found here without a license, we have no right to interfere -- he is authorized to do so by Act of Parliament; and whether that be a constitutional or unconstitutional act, with that, sitting here as judges, we have no concern. Nor have we any thing to do with the discretion, or indiscretion, with which he may exercise that authority; nor with his regard to liberty or his regard to tyranny. Therefore I put this entirely out of the question. But the Act of Parliament conferring such authority, gives no power of imprisonment. The word is not found, nor the idea conveyed in it at all. If the word "detain" even had been used, it might have afforded some shadow of an argument for this imprisonment; but we do not find even such a word in the act. Therefore the obvious and necessary conclusion is, that the act has only one object; it gives the power to seize and remit to England persons found here without a license; but confers no power whatever of imprisoning them. Many things have been introduced which were not necessary for the argument; as the 104th section of the 53d of Geo. III. (on which the warrant of commitment is founded) is alone necessary, and must by itself decide the question. I do not deny that other acts may be referred to for illustration or analogy, but on this the question depends.

"Although, sitting here as judges, we have no right to inquire whether an act be constitutional or unconstitutional, yet we are bound, as British Judges, to put upon it a constitutional rather than an unconstitutional interpretation; and were it liable to two constructions, where the right of the subject is concerned, we are bound to give it an interpretation in favour of liberty.

"On this point I wish to be clearly understood. To say that we enjoy here the full privileges of the British constitution, is absurd. But the fewer the privileges we do enjoy -- the more numerous and heavy the restraints imposed upon us -- the more our liberty is narrowed; the more, I say, does it become incumbent on the Judges to guard with greater strictness that portion of liberty which remains to us; for we have the less to spare.

"With regard to guarding against the mischief a party may do before a vessel is ready for his conveyance to England, let us see what the Legislature has done in another case very nearly related to this. When a person is residing in the country with a license, it can, of course, only be recalled on account of his own misconduct. Therefore in such case, it is to be presumed, that there must be some cause which renders his removal a matter of public expedience. But even then, did the Legislature empower the Governor-General to seize and immediately imprison this public enemy, to keep him from doing more extensive mischief until he could be conveyed out of the country? No such thing; he is allowed to roam at large for two months! Then in the other case, if any idle person happen to have come here from England, not knowing perhaps that a license was necessary, or without thinking about the matter, and thus be caught in the trap, and ordered out of the country without perhaps having committed any offence, or what is a mere parliamentary offence, can it be contended with any shadow of reason, that he is to be imprisoned without any express authority.* [With reference to the supposed danger of persons ordered to quit India being allowed to go at large in the intermediate time before their embarkation, Mr. Turton observed, in one part of his address to the Judge, that he was well aware the Government did not apprehend any danger at all in the present case. Indeed, his client was punished for the fault of another person. -- Cal. Journal.] I say, without having committed any offence, not with reference to the particular circumstances of this case, which have induced the Government to order Mr. Arnot's removal from the country; for I declare I know nothing about them, and have nothing to do with them. But the Government, by this mode of proceeding, have declined prosecuting him for a misdemeanor, and rested satisfied with his being removed. It is to be presumed, therefore, that he has committed no offence which call for prosecution, and is removed merely for not having a license. In such a case, are we justified in considering him a dangerous man, who must be secured, right or wrong, legally or illegally? Am I sitting here as a British judge, to put words in an Act of Parliament and supply its supposed deficiencies? And for what? why, to invade the liberties of the subject. Am I to say that such an expression was inadvertently omitted, or such a power was meant to be given; and, on such ground, agree to this person's being imprisoned, without any express authority from the statute? Sitting here as a British judge (and I hope I am not obliged to lay aside my feelings as a man), and viewing the case, as I hope I do, both as an English lawyer and as a gentleman, I declare that my understanding and my conscience will not suffer me to send back this person to the cell, or prison, or whatever it may be, in the fort, where they have confined him. I hope judges of this court will never be swayed in their decisions by any respect of persons; nor, if in construing the laws they find two roads, pursue that most agreeable or convenient to men in power, merely because they know it to be so. I trust they will never, in any case, truckle to the Government, as I fear those judges have done. [As his Lordship pronounced these words in a very emphatic manner, he laid his hand upon the MS. book of cases from which the Advocate-General had quoted that of Mr. Duhan.] If such ever were the case, it would afford a cloak for every species of oppression. I would infinitely rather see the court abolished, for it would then be a nuisance rather than a protection to the subject. I declare I should hope, in such a case, to see a public meeting of the inhabitants of Calcutta to join in a petition to Parliament to recall its charter and put an end to it at once. This court is supreme, and the moment one particle of this supremacy is forfeited, I trust the Court will be annihilated.

"Suppose we were to remand this gentleman again to the fort, I should like to know how long he is to be kept in custody. By this return, on the extraordinary nature of which I must now remark, the Government assumes a power to act as it pleases -- to imprison him with anyone it likes: and by what authority? I know of none. The words "to detain or imprison" are not once used in the act; and am I to put a word into the act to construe it by implication? I confess it would be some comfort, some sort of satisfaction to me to find it stated in this return how long he is to be kept in durance, and whether for weeks or months? But the return does not favour us with any information on this subject; it does not say when he is to be put on board a ship, or how long he is to remain confined in the fort. Lord Holt refused to know that the city of London returned members to Parliament; and on the same grounds, the judges of this court have no right to know that a ship will ever sail to England, and thus, he may be confined for any indefinite length of time. Good God! is it to be tolerated that a British subject, after being shut up in this manner without any authority, is to be kept all this time, and as long as the Government may think proper to keep him in prison, without bail or mainprize? Can this be done under English laws, for any thing but felony or treason? But the act which is assumed as the warrant for this, applies equally to Bombay, whence the Company never have a ship bound directly to England. Then are we to put a forced and unwarranted construction upon the act, by which a British subject, for merely being in India without a license, is to be condemned to perpetual imprisonment? The idea is monstrous. But if the Governor-General ever had the power to imprison him, I should say that he might be bailed; because of they prosecuted him, even at home, then he is to be committed, only if not bailed.

"I do not know what feeling this person's release may excite, but if a general feeling of satisfaction or congratulation should prevail at his release, I see no reason why the Government should not participate in it. The Governor-General himself, in my opinion, will not be offended at not meeting with unlimited submission to his will, knowing that such blind compliance must necessarily impart weakness and instability to his own power. Convinced, by the experience of living under a constitutional government, of the eminent advantage of every one being secured in tile full enjoyment of his rights, he must rather be pleased at seeing the liberty of the subject protected. I am not intimately acquainted with his Lordship who has lately arrived amongst us; but I naturally ascribe these sentiments to him as a British nobleman.

"My principle is, that if the words of the Act of Parliament are not clear beyond a doubt in conveying the power to imprison, then we ought not, by so stretching its meaning, to curtail the liberty of any man. We ought (though I do not speak of this as a constitutional act: I care not whether it is so or no -- but this I do say) we are bound to give it a constitutional, rather than an unconstitutional construction. It does not empower the Government to imprison: and although it may be said that in the fort, in the care of such a gentleman as Col. Vaughan, this individual will experience all the indulgence which that officer can extend to him, and no one who knows him can doubt it; yet, in depriving a man of his liberty, you take away that from him which is necessary for his happiness. It is in vain to talk of the pleasantness of this place, or the other; he is no longer master of himself: and this alone is enough to make him miserable. What more, I ask, can any tyrant do, than make his victims miserable? It is true, you may put him on board ship, and keep him there in charge of the captain: but I should think the wooden walls of the vessel a sufficient prison. They could not confine him to his cabin, or keep him in fetters. Nay, I think him entitled, by the terms of the Act which provides for him a good and sufficient vessel -- one of the Company's ships -- to the best treatment and accommodations. And when the ship reaches England, this gentleman is immediately entitled to his discharge from the vessel at the first place where she is safely moored, and is at liberty to go where he chooses. No conditional term of imprisonment is to be tacked to the end of the voyage. And is imprisonment less a hardship in the East-Indies than in England? Is it of less consequence to a British subject here? Is the society in this country less consoling to his feelings, or less necessary to his happiness, than in Europe, that we should thus trifle with his liberty? On every principle of law -- of reason and of justice, then -- I declare it to be my decided opinion, that Mr. Arnot be discharged."

The opinion of the learned judge on this case was still more decidedly expressed in two letters published soon after, under the signature of Z (in reply to some factious newspaper attacks made on his decision); from which the following is an extract:

"What is this case? A gentleman who had nothing but education for his patrimony, -- nothing but merit for his recommendation, -- nothing but industry for his maintenance: qualified, by having learned the languages of this country, to make his way towards a competency, he inevitably incurred debt; yet, moderate in his desires, he had before him, what he dwelt upon as a cheering prospect. He is suddenly ordered from the scene of his fancied prosperity; and having forsaken his pursuits in Europe, his fond hopes, his national expectations, the fruits of his labours and of his studies, are blasted and destroyed in a moment. The world, so far as it concerns him, is now a desolate wilderness. In the dismal gloom, he cannot discover a single object upon which his talents, or his toils, may be employed. Surely, this might satiate malignity, and bring the iron tears down Pluto's cheeks." That two men so obdurate, so implacable, so regardless of rule, decency, and moral sentiment, should be seen coming forward to calumniate a judge, who, for aught we know, acting with the approbation of government itself, liberated Mr. Arnot from imprisonment, is utterly unaccountable, and can hardly be explained by the worst principles of evil. Can human nature be so insatiable in cruelty, as not to be contented even with the undoing of a fellow creature? Will the exclusion of hope not satisfy them, if it be not shut out by the bars of a prison? What can glut their vengeance, if the resignation of distress is enviable in their eyes? or must distress be aggravated, for their delight, into the torture of despair?"

On being thus released by order of the Supreme Court, I applied to the Government for time to settle my affairs; and received an answer from the Chief Secretary, dated the 2d of October, to the following effect: "I am directed to state, that your letter of the 22d ultimo was duly submitted to the Right Hon. the Governor-General in council, and that his Lordship in council does not think fit to return any reply to it." I then resided quietly in Calcutta during that and the succeeding month. On the 8th of December I proceeded to Chandernagore, a French settlement at some distance up the river Hooghly, and took up my abode under the hospitable roof of a friend and countryman, Capt. Allan Cameron, in the hope that I might remain unmolested till I had completely arranged my affairs in India, and in the meantime a license to reside in Bengal, which had been promised me from England, might arrive, or the violent temper of the local government might subside.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 4 of 7

Since the only technical or "parliamentary" offence (as Judge Macnaghten termed it), which could be urged against me was, the want of a license to reside in the Company's territory, when I left this and passed over into the territory of France, the ground of complaint having ceased, I had a right to consider myself secure from further annoyance. Notwithstanding this, however, two days had not elapsed when a British magistrate, Capt. Paton, arrived with a warrant from Lord Amherst, by which I was arrested in the presence of the French governor, and carried back by force into the Company's territory, where his Lordship had just before said I had no right to be. To illustrate this proceeding by an example, let us suppose that the Dutch government had objected to my residence in Brussels without a passport, and that I had in consequence removed myself to Paris -- what would be thought if his Netherlands Majesty were to have me arrested in the French capital and carried down to Holland, to be embarked on board one of his whaling vessels at Rotterdam, and forcibly sent back to England by way of Greenland or Kamschatka? Just so -- Lord Amherst and his advisers -- embarked me on board a ship chartered on a trading voyage to the island of Sumatra to collect pepper; authorized to touch at Singapore, and expected ultimately to reach England by this circuitous course. There were several other vessels at that very time in the port bound direct to England, on which I might have been embarked; and even supposing me to have been justly and legally arrested (which was not the case), the Act of Parliament would only have authorized my being sent in one of those, it having expressly specified, a ship bound to the United Kingdom.

The illegality of this mode of procedure was aggravated by many minor circumstances of unmerited hardship. For instance, the sum of 800 and odd rupees being allowed from the public treasury professedly for my reception into the third mate's mess, a ship was selected which had no third mate's mess, as Lord Amherst was expressly informed, and the captain consequently obliged me to pay 2,000 rupees additional for a cabin and a seat at his table. Although he had now received nearly 3,000 rupees (about £300) for my passage, he determined, as the Governor-General was officially apprized, to deprive me of my cabin, as soon as he could let it to another person, and remove me to the worst cabin in the vessel. This resolve he afterwards actually put in practice, as I had no means of resisting it; but this person being since dead, I have no wish to make any further remark on his conduct.

Under these circumstances, I sailed (in Dec. 1828) as a state prisoner on board the ship Fame, to Bencoolen, in the island of Sumatra. I there recovered from a dangerous illness, resembling the Java fever, produced by long bad treatment and climate. After a delay of a few weeks, having taken on board Sir Stamford Raffles, the Lt.-Governor, we again set sail on the morning of the 2d of February (1824). About twelve hours afterwards, when thirty or forty miles at sea, the vessel was set on fire by the negligence of the steward in drawing off brandy. Being chiefly loaded with saltpetre, pepper, cloves, nutmegs, and other articles very liable to combustion, in little more than a quarter of an hour the principal part of the vessel was in flames. Fortunately for me the passengers and crew were able to save themselves in two small boats, which we had suspended from the quarters, ready to launch at a moment's notice. For the long boat would have been too unwieldy for that sudden emergency, and had besides been most culpably left behind to make room for a Malay canoe, intended to be brought home for the amusement of the curious.

By this appalling accident, Sir Stamford Raffles lost his valuable collection of natural history, which he had been many years in forming, comprizing many of the rarest plants and animals of the Indian Archipelago. His lady was exposed all night in an open boat, in the same state as she had been driven from her bed by the danger of destruction, with only such additional covering as could be afforded by the gentlemen surrendering their coats for her protection from the inclemency of the nocturnal atmosphere. After pulling all night, we reached shore about noon next day; happy that we had all escaped with our lives, though with the loss of every particle of property we possessed.

Lord Amherst's warrant for my deportation, with the means of carrying it into execution, being now both at an end, I returned to Bengal to inform his Lordship of what had happened -- to represent the hardship of being sent to England after the destruction of all my property by his measures, and ascertain whether his Lordship might not consider the sufferings by sickness, the risk of life, and loss of effects to which he had already subjected me, a sufficient penalty for the technical or "parliamentary" misdemeanor of being without a passport, or the political offence of supporting a liberal journal. His Lordship, in his supreme wisdom, decided that none of these circumstances afforded any ground for a mitigation of punishment, or alteration of the sovereign firman already pronounced, that I should evacuate his dominions; threatening that if I failed to do so, "measures would be taken," &c. &c. Having already had a sufficient sample of the regard to law, justice, and humanity, displayed in his Lordship's "measures," I some months after proceeded to England, to submit his conduct to the judgment of his superiors. The case was brought before the Hon. Court of Directors by a memorial addressed to the secretary, as I had no personal knowledge of any individual in the court, and had to rely solely on the justice of my case. I knew also that their minds had been prejudiced against any complainant connected with the cause of the Indian press by the proceedings of Mr. Buckingham, who since his arrival in England, had succeeded in keeping alive the spirit of hostility to that cause, and rendering it as obnoxious at home as he had formerly made it in India. In my memorials, I also embraced the opportunity of placing his case in the most favourable point of view (from the facts which have since come to my knowledge, I am now aware that I placed it in a much more favourable one than it will justly bear), and thus drew on myself part of the odium attaching to him.

Notwithstanding all these circumstances bearing against me, and the torrent of prejudice which had for years been rising in the minds of the influential classes here against the Indian press and its conductors, such was the justice of my case, that my simple unvarnished statement of the facts (without the aid of legal rhetoric, or more than a few lines of alteration by the advice of friends) turned the tide of prejudice, and impressed conviction on the mind of the East-India Directors that their servants were now in the wrong, and the conductors of the press at last in the right. A severe censure, I learnt, was sent out to Lord Amherst; and to shew that their displeasure was sincere -- that it was not merely an empty profession of counterfeited regret, for the injustice done -- they voted me the sum of £1,500, as a compensation for my losses and sufferings by the destruction of the ship Fame.

Those who understand how governments are constituted, and how the spirit of party in this country is ready to palliate any injustice, and defend every oppression, nay, almost to confound the distinctions of right and wrong, of virtue and vice, when politics interfere; so that an artful man, supported by a powerful party, may commit the grossest acts of injustice, and yet feel assured that thousands will be ready to defend him and to vindicate his worst deeds as deeds of patriotism and virtue; those who understand this, will perceive how much it redounds to the honour of the East-India Company to have given an impartial judgment between a humble individual and the Governor-General of India, backed as he was by the Ministers and the East-India Board, which suspended the confirmation of it for nearly twelve months, and at last gave a reluctant assent on finding that Lord Amherst had nothing to urge in self-defence. This decision was consequently formally passed and sanctioned by the Court of Directors, by the Board of Control, and by two successive public votes of the Court of East-India Proprietors without a single dissentient voice.

Let us now return to see what effect this successful issue had on the state of the press in India. A few weeks after my connexion with it had been broken off by the above measures, the "Calcutta Journal" being now conducted with less caution than before, was suppressed by the Government. I strongly urged an application being made for a new license, and the re-establishment of it under the editorship of my former coadjutor, Mr. James Sutherland, considering him the most competent person in Bengal. The managing proprietors, however, preferred Dr. Muston, a son-in-law of the late Mr. John H. Harington, the member of council; and the Government consented to renew the license. Something however in the new prospectus (written by Dr. Ballard) displeased Lord Amherst, who therefore commanded the renascent journal to be strangled before its second birth was complete. After a tedious negociation, a successor to it was licensed under the name of the Scotsman in the East, to be conducted by the same editor named above, as having been selected by the managing proprietors, probably because they knew him to be a most conscientious and independent spirited man; and because they conceived that his alliance with a member of council, in fact or expectancy, might afford greater security to their property. But the hostility of the Government was still so strong, that it at last refused to allow any portion of the property of the new journal to belong to anyone of the proprietors of the old one. It was to be printed therefore at their press, but to be considered the sole property of Dr. Muston, who was guaranteed a certain minimum of income, and agreed in return to deliver to them free copies of the paper, and to surrender, I believe, any profits above a certain sum.

The impolicy and injustice of the Government in compelling recourse to be had to such an arrangement are worthy of remark. A person had engaged with a hundred co-proprietors for a certain sum paid down to deliver to them, free of cost, a daily publication costing 192 rupees per annum, had stipulated his own personal services to the concern, and contracted to send from England property to the value of £10,000 to assist in carrying it on. By and bye Mr. Adam says, "He shall not give you his personal services, for I will send him to England." Then comes Lord Amherst, who says, "You shall not have your daily paper, for I will not suffer any paper to be published in which he or you have a pecuniary interest." Thus with the idea of opposing an enemy, they actually play into his hands, relieve him from one obligation, then another, and aid him in injuring the parties to whom he was under contract, by interdicting its fulfilment in a most essential particular, as if unlawful.

To evade this interdict, an anomalous sort of a compact was contrived, by which, after calling the "editor" the "proprietor," and the "proprietors" the "printers," and guaranteeing to the former a minimum of profit instead of salary, and to the latter the surplus profits in the name of rent, matters were left pretty much as they stood before all this change of names took place. So long as the journal went on, the purchasers of shares in it might receive their daily paper free of coat, to which they had a clear right, while there remained the means of producing it, from the £20,000 of property guaranteed to them by Mr. Buckingham, as the security on which the shares taken were to be held! His agents now discovered, however, that carrying on a paper which had received so severe a shock, and was encumbered with such heavy pecuniary obligations to so many shareholders, or mortgagees (before calculated at nearly £2,000 per annum for free papers alone, and now even at the reduced price not less than from £1,000 to £1,500), so far from yielding any profits was a source of loss. Had the hundred thousand rupees paid by the purchasers been left in deposit with Messrs. Alexander and Co., as I think was at first promised, or had the value of it been exported from England and paid for by a credit on their agents in London, as was expressly contracted, this sum must have enabled that house to carry on the concern for a number of years. This source of superior stability which the share-scheme promised to secure to the press, was an advantage which reconciled me and others to its objectionable qualities in other respects.

Now was the time to ascertain whether the scheme did secure this advantage. What was the result? That this was the first newspaper press in Calcutta to sink for want of funds to carry it on!! What then had become of the £20,000 sterling money said to be invested in the concern, the 100,000 rupees worth of property on the spot, the 100,000 on the way from England or the 100,000 paid into it by the purchasers of shares? This will be partly explained by the following extract from Mr. Buckingham's printed statement, shewing that on surrendering the personal management of the journal, and leaving his all to his agent, Mr. Sandys, to carry on the concern, the monthly disbursements of which were nearly 10,000 rupees, the balance he left for this purpose was only 8,000 rupees (£800), only sufficient for three or four weeks' expenses; and even for this scanty supply a note of hand was to be given payable on demand!

"I shall leave in the bank of Hindoostan a balance of eight thousand rupees floating cash, in return for an acknowledgment by note of hand from Mr. Sandys, payable on demand, but without interest, from which balance the necessary expenses of the office sirkars, for postage and current expenses, as well as printing establishment and all minor disbursements, may be paid by Mr. Sandys' check on the banks as the case may require. As, however, all receipts will be at a date of two months after they are actually due, so all payments of salaries and other expenses must be made whenever practicable, at a date of two months also, in which case the 8,000 rupees floating balance will amply cover all cash advances that can be required in the month."

That is, to meet two months expenses (at an average from 16,000 to 20,000 rupees), which must be borne before any receipts become payable, only the sum of 8,000 rupees is left, and this, too, is repayable on demand, so that unless it were "practicable" to induce creditors to accept payment one or two months in arrear, the concern must either become bankrupt within four weeks after his departure, or borrow funds to pay its current expenses!

Such was its precarious state in March 1823, and no wonder, therefore, that after all our struggles to uphold it, after a new license had been granted by the Government, and the concern had been strengthened in some respects by the accession to its management of a son-in-law of a member of council, yet long before the end of 1824 Mr. Buckingham's agents, Messrs. Alexander and Co., refused to carry it on any longer. The hive having been so effectually stripped of its honey, and the ample supplies promised from England having never arrived, except in sweet words, no wonder the labourers were obliged to abandon the work in despair. They offered the remains of the property for sale, and as 30,000 rupees (about £3,000) was the highest private offer for it, including the good-will of the concern: less than a sixth of the reported amount of the actual tangible property embarked in it, they were advised to dispose of it by public auction, the usual mode of selling property in India, that it might have the fairest chance of fetching its utmost value. The result was that the whole disposable property, stated by him to be worth £20,000 sold for less than £2,000 (see Notarial Documents.) If the reader ask whence this sudden decrease in the value of the concern from £40,000 to £2,000, it is thus to be explained. The £20,000 assigned for copyright ceased with the publication of the Newspaper which Mr. Buckingham's agents, for want of funds, now declined carrying on. The £10,000 of goods which Mr. B. sold, as being on the way from England in 1822, either never left England or may be on the way still, as there is no evidence of their ever having arrived in India. The remaining £10,000 on the spot, miraculously sunk under the auctioneer's hammer to about £2,000, and this then was all the security remaining to the simple and credulous purchasers of shares for their £10,000.

Thus ended the Calcutta Journal, and its successor the Scotsman in the East (which soon after, notwithstanding the generous efforts of Dr. Muston, Mr. Loch, and Mr. Sutherland, sunk for want of pecuniary means). The Hon. Mr. Adam, the patriotic Mr. Buckingham, and the victorious Earl of Arracan, may share the glory of the achievement between them; the greatest share of fame undoubtedly belonging to the man who carried off the funds. After this brief statement of the facts (which are proved by extracts from irrefragable documents), I think no one will have the assurance to repeat again that the liberty of the press in India (which was now reduced to the lowest ebb) owed its downfal to the inconsistency of the Marquis of Hastings; or, in the words of Mr. Buckingham already quoted, to its banners having been "abandoned, deserted, and IGNOMINIOUSLY furled, by the very hands that were the first to wave them in pride and exultation over our heads!"

We have now traced the history of the Indian Press to the beginning of the year 1825, when, as I have stated, it was reduced to its lowest ebb, and the only daily paper considered as the advocate of the liberal party, namely, "the Scotsman in the East," sunk from pecuniary distress, aggravated by the intimidating system of Lord Amherst. In the end of the preceding year (November 1824), his Lordship obliged me to leave Bengal the second time for the harmless paragraph before quoted (p. 26). I arrived in England the March following, and by my Memorial to the Court procured a censure, both direct and implied, to be passed by his Lordship's official superiors, and the British public, on his unnecessarily harsh, oppressive, and impolitic severity to the press. The accounts of this must have reached India in the August or September following. Hitherto the government of Bengal had been encouraged to greater and greater acts of severity by the applause bestowed at home on the measures they adopted to check Mr. Buckingham. Now, however, they found that I had turned the tide against them, and they were consequently checked in their career.

Though there was no public intimation of this, its effects were not the less clearly perceived. The liberal conductors of the Indian press, who had for nearly three years groaned under the yoke, now of a sudden felt that the hand of oppression was lightened. They felt that their heavy chains had dropped off, but as they could not account for it, they wondered what invisible hand had worked their deliverance; and, like the prisoner in the Gospel, were almost afraid to enjoy their liberty, doubting if it were not a vision. One of the most conscientious and zealous friends of free discussion ever connected with the Indian Press, Mr. James Sutherland (now editor of the Bengal Hurkaru), thus writes in a letter, commenced the 27th of October and terminated on the 20th of November 1825.

"While I am on the subject of the press, I must not omit to mention a fact that will, I dare say, surprise you: I mean that we have of late enjoyed a latitude of discussion here unsurpassed by any thing admitted in the time of Lord Hastings. But then we exercise it in danger and enjoy it by sufferance, and it affords a most striking proof of the injustice and tyranny of suppressing the journal for what, compared with what is now tolerated, was a most venial offence against the restrictions."

From this time the Indian Press began to resume its wonted energy. A periodical called the Columbian Press Gazette, originally only an obscure advertiser, was gradually raised by Mr. Sutherland into a powerful public journal. Its name was then changed to that of the Bengal Chronicle, but for some offence or other its license was some time after cancelled, and only allowed to be renewed on condition of a change of editor. This deserves to be remarked as another of the inconsistencies acted towards the press. Its first alleged offence at the commencement of Lord Amherst's administration (in September 1823) was punished by the expulsion from India of one of its contributors (myself); the second (in November 1823) by the instant suppression of the publication; now, however, a third, and certainly a more just mode of procedure was adopted, exactly as had been pointed out in paragraph 12 of my Memorial to the Court of Directors of April 1825. (Oriental Herald, vol. vii. p. 176.) I there said --

"Although Mr. Sandys (the East-Indian editor) could not be banished without trial, it is far from true that he could not be subjected to any direct mark of the displeasure of the Government, which would not equally injure the sharers in the property [the flimsy excuse made by Lord Amherst for punishing me in his stead], since the Governor-General, when displeased with his mode of conducting the Calcutta Journal, might have ordered it to be transferred to the hands of a new editor; an intimation with which all concerned would have found it necessary to comply, suppression being the well-known penalty of disobedience; and his Lordship might thus at once have spared the proprietors, and deprived the editor of a situation of both profit and respectability -- a punishment of no small amount. But this obvious course was not pursued, neither on this occasion nor a few weeks afterwards, when the paper was entirely suppressed for an act of this very conductor -- who was still not singly punished. And so far from any anxiety being evinced to save the sharers of the property from loss, because they had not committed the offence (much the largest proprietor being, in fact, many thousand miles distant at the time), they were not allowed to re-establish the publication at all, even under an unexceptionable editor, expressly approved of by the Government."

The adoption, on the very next occasion, of the principle here pointed out in my Memorial as less harsh and unjust, is another proof of the deep impression it had made. A disagreement soon after, among those interested in the Bengal Chronicle, led to the establishment of another journal, under the title or the Calcutta Chronicle. It was edited by the Rev. William Adam, a gentleman of talent and learning, who originally proceeded to India as a missionary of the Baptist Society, but afterwards, from the difficulty he experienced in his efforts (in co-operation with that body) to convert the natives of India to the Trinitarian doctrines of Christianity, he began himself to doubt the correctness of these doctrines, and ultimately adopted those of Unitarianism. From the attention he had bestowed in studying the character of the native inhabitants, their languages, literature, and moral and political condition, he was highly qualified for the task of editing an Indian journal. He also enjoyed the benefit of the valuable assistance and long experience of his predecessor Mr. Sutherland, and others, who now again began to venture to make their sentiments known through the press. The Calcutta Chronicle was consequently conducted with greater power and ability, in my judgment, than any journal which had preceded it. It consequently soon reached a high degree of popularity, and an extent of circulation, which promised soon to reward its meritorious conductors for all their former toils, losses, and disappointments. For both had suffered much already, and had families to provide for, whose future support must depend on their present exertions. They were beginning to reap that honest meed of fame which was justly due to the public utility of their labours, and might reasonably look forward to the tranquil enjoyment of the fruits of them in their native land, when suddenly the paper was suppressed by order of the Government, by a letter dated the 31st of May 1827. The reason assigned was, that "the general tenor of its contents had been for some time highly disrespectful to the Government and the Hon. Court of Directors." This was not the act of Lord Amherst, but of the Vice-President in Council.

It is remarkable that in this case again, the mode of procedure was quite different from what it had been in all former cases of suppression under the present regulation. Hitherto, ample warning and repeated cautions had been given to the offending editor, before recourse was had to the extreme measure of suppression; now, however, no warning whatever is allowed. Formerly the particular matter of offence was pointed out: now the charge is confined to vague generality. Formerly a journal was allowed to be re-established, provided the offending editor resigned his charge to another who was unexceptionable: here this appears to have been totally refused: "Rude times (says the historian of India) give no reasons." If so, he must place the Government of Bengal very low in the scale of civilization. "If our motives of action are worthy," said Lord Hastings, "it must be wise to render them intelligible throughout an empire, our hold on which is opinion." How widely, then, had the principles of government in India been altered since his Lordship uttered that noble sentiment!

Some time after the destruction of the Calcutta Chronicle, a public subscription was opened for its unfortunate proprietors and conductors, who were nearly ruined by this blow to their fortunes. No men ever deserved more of the Indian public. They had directed the energies of the press solely to public objects, not as it had formerly been directed, to the personal interests of an individual wielding its power to serve his own purposes, and avenge his own quarrels. Formerly the leading topics of discussion had been, whether Mr. James McKenzie, or Mr. James Silk Buckingham, or Dr. James Bryce, or Mr. James Somebody else, was the cleverest fellow in the opinion of himself and of his own party, or the greatest rogue in the opinion of others. This style of writing had been long enough cultivated by the first editor of the Calcutta Journal (Mr. Buckingham), the greatest part of whose compositions related entirely to himself -- his own unparalleled merits, and wrongs, and sufferings, and personal quarrels. These hardly left room for the productions of others, who wrote most of what was really valuable in his Journal, and were better qualified to do so by their knowledge and long experience of the country, of which he was (and is still) very ignorant. This reign of egotism had passed by, though the evils that sprang from it were still felt; and the Calcutta Chronicle, by devoting itself really to the cause of the public, shewed what a public-spirited journal could do by the firm opposition it maintained to the stamp act. This probably was the cause of its suppression; and, whether justly or not, the public, in whose cause the sacrifice was incurred, ought to have done something to indemnify the sufferers. The proposed subscription, however, seems to have failed; the public having been recently imposed upon by the quackery and pretended losses of one editor, appear to have regarded the real sufferings of the present conductors of the press with little sympathy.

Since the fall of the Calcutta Chronicle, the history of the Press in India may be summed up in a few words. There being no longer any security for newspaper property, editors, who are but too often poor men, must become entirely subservient (except in rare instances) to the views of those who adventure funds in such a hazardous speculation. A rich individual, or great mercantile house, will get hold of a poor literary man, and set him to work with a printing press; the poorer the better, and if in debt, better still, as it renders him the more thoroughly dependent. His daily bread and personal liberty, perhaps, depend on his giving satisfaction to his monied patron; and the existence of his paper, on avoiding offence to the Government. Thus placed between the Scylla of power, and the Charybdis of a gaol, he is glad for security's sake to submit his compositions to the censorship of his commercial governor, before be venture to submit it to the public and the judgment of the Hon. Company's political governor. Thus is the press subject to all the evils, 1st. of a secret censorship; 2dly, a law of arbitrary suppression; 3dly, the English law of libel; and 4thly, summary transportation without trial. I hope that the mere statement of these facts will be sufficient to convince even the greatest alarmist, that the Press in India is now subjected to an accumulation of restraints that must be superfluous for any purpose of good government; and that the rulers of India will yet take into consideration the following humble and reasonable prayer of the petition of the natives of Bengal to the King of England.

"Granting that the Company's servants were almost infallible in their judgment, and their systems nearly perfect, yet your Majesty's faithful subjects may be allowed to presume, that the paternal anxiety which the Court of Directors have often expressed (or the welfare of the many millions dependent upon them, in a country situated at the distance of several thousand miles, would suggest to them the propriety of establishing some other means besides, to ascertain whether the systems introduced in their Indian possessions, prove so beneficial to the Natives of this country as their authors might fondly suppose, or would have others believe; and whether the rules and regulations which may appear excellent in their eyes, are strictly put in practice."

"The publication of truth, and the natural expression of men's sentiments through the medium of the Press, entail no burden on the state: and should it appear to your Majesty and the enlightened men placed about your throne, that this precious privilege, which is so essential to the well-being of your faithful subjects, could not safely be intrusted to the Natives of India, although they have given such unquestionable proofs of their loyalty and attachment, subject only to the restraints wisely imposed upon the press by the laws of England, your faithful subjects entreat on behalf of their countrymen, that your Majesty will be graciously pleased to grant it, subject to such severer restraints and heavier penalties as may be deemed necessary; but legal restraints, not those of arbitrary power -- and penalties to be inflicted after trial and conviction, according to the forms of the laws of England, -- not at the will and pleasure of one or two individuals, without investigation, or without hearing any defence, or going through any of the forms prescribed by law, to ensure the equitable administration of justice."

I conclude the History of the Press in India, with a fervent hope that attention will yet be paid to this humble and earnest prayer, addressed to the King of England by and on behalf of a numerous faithful and unoffending class of British subjects -- that, in their own words, it may be no longer believed in our Indian territories, "that it is British justice to punish MILLIONS for the fault imputed to ONE INDIVIDUAL."
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Part 5 of 7


ON the 28d of May 1825, the new rule and regulation for the press in India, passed by the Hon. Mr. Adam and Sir Francis Macnaghten in March 1823, was discussed on appeal before the Lords of the Privy Council. Mr. Denman and Mr. John Williams appeared as counsel for Mr. Buckingham, the appellant; and Mr. Sergeant Bosanquet, Mr. Sergeant Spankie (some time Advocate-General in Bengal), Mr. Henry Brougham. and Mr. Tindal, as counsel for the East-India Company. Mr. Denman and Mr. Williams were heard against the laws-Mr. Bosanquet and Mr. Spankie spoke in reply. As only two speakers were permitted on each side of the question, Mr. Brougham fortunately, as being a junior counsel, had not an opportunity of exerting his eloquence against the liberty of the press in India. The decision of the Privy Council, however, which was a confirmation of the new laws for licensing the press, supplied whatever was wanting to render them fatally permanent and immovable.

This result is the more to be deplored, as it is well known that in the British constitution, from the complication of its parts, the numerous checks it presents against alteration, whatever once becomes law, partakes of the worst quality of "the laws of the Medes and Persians." Let an act once be passed to exclude a third of the empire from their rights, the struggles of a whole nation and the labours of centuries will hardly be sufficient, as the Catholics of Ireland experienced, to cancel the pernicious statute. While the legality of the law for the Indian press rested solely on the decision of one Indian judge, it could hardly be considered as established, and would always have been open to question and revisal. But the result of Mr. Buckingham's appeal fixed upon it the solemn approval and stamp of authority of the highest court in the British empire. Yet I am willing to believe that the appeal was meant to do good: that he had a higher object in view than the selfish vanity of being a conspicuous object in such a proceeding, or the factious pleasure of opposing "the Lords of Leadenhall Street." A wise and good man, however, would first ascertain that there is a well-founded probability of success, and none of mischief, before he hazarded the decision of a nation's rights. O'Connell did not attempt to take his seat in Parliament until the time came when he knew that it could not endanger the cause of his countrymen. Only Cobbett, and such-like lovers of mischief and of notoriety, urged the trying of the question at all hazards, without regard to time or consequences. By following wiser and honester counsels, Ireland has been delivered from its bonds.

The result of the appeal to the Privy Council by Mr. Buckingham, namely, a decision against the liberty of the press in India, was only another proof that wherever he has interfered, be his intentions good or bad, the result was still the same -- evil to the cause he professed to advocate. He had now procured a sentence of condemnation to be recorded against it by the Supreme Government of India -- by the Supreme Court of Judicature in Bengal -- by the Courts of East-India Directors and Proprietors; and, lastly, by the Privy Council of the realm. There remained one authority more whose decision would be of importance, namely, that of the British Parliament. I shall therefore pass over slightly his various appeals to the East-India Company, and attempts to extort a grant of money by the most false and exaggerated accounts of pecuniary losses, and of reduction from grandeur to poverty the most abject and humiliating --- from all the luxuries of eastern affluence to obscure lodgings in the neighbourhood of London, with nothing to drink but the crystal stream! This piteous tale was repeated so long as nine persons could be found good-natured enough to sign a requisition for a meeting at the East-India House. If half as much pains had been taken to obtain a free press for India under reasonable and moderate limitations, the point might long ere this have been gained; and that the well-told tale of "virtuous misfortune" produced so little effect, even for the purpose intended, could only have arisen from the inconvenient circumstance of its being untrue. The fact was, that instead of Mr. Buckingham being a martyr to the cause of freedom in India, the cause of freedom there had been a martyr to him. Instead of having lost by his connexion with the press -- he had thereby gained all he possessed. He had almost begged his way to India, as appears by his loans from Burckhardt, &c.; and from living in two small apartments over his printing-office in Calcutta,* [Except for a few months.] was now occupying a splendid residence, first in Regent's Park, then in Grove-end Road, of which his own description will be subjoined. And instead of leaving any thing behind, him, when he made this removal, he was and is justly indebted to the press to the extent, as I firmly believe, of £8,000 or £10,000, and this sum at least he must have carried to England -- to assist him in telling his pathetic tale of suffering virtue!

Property of the Week: An £11.5m ambassadorial mansion in Regent’s Park

He now resolved to tell this tale once more to the House of Commons, which was done by a petition, presented on the 9th of May 1826. It was embellished with the following paragraph, among numerous others equally veracious --

"That the most valuable portion of this (newspaper property), the copyright of the journal, was actually taken from your petitioner and his co-proprietors, without any consideration being tendered for the same, and then presented as a free gift to the son-in-law [meaning Dr. Muston] of one of the members of the very Government under which this very extraordinary transfer of property took place.

"That in consequence of these measures, the ruin of your petitioner has been so completely and entirely effected, that instead of being possessed of an income of £8,000 per annum, from a property of the saleable value of £40,000, which he enjoyed at the period of his banishment from India, he has been utterly deprived of both income and capital, and is moreover now involved in debts to the extent of at least £10,000 more, from the measures pursued towards his property in his absence," &c.

These bold assertions having been made, the House of Commons very properly offered Mr. Buckingham an opportunity of proving them. Any man really robbed and plundered, in a manner so very monstrous as above represented, could have desired nothing better than all opportunity to prove his alleged wrongs. This however, it will be found, did not suit Mr. Buckingham. He had allowed the session to be very near a conclusion before he presented his petition, and knew that if a committee called upon him to produce evidence, he could stave off the proceedings till the session closed, when they would of course fall to the ground. Had his statements been true, however, there was still sufficient time, and the best opportunity, to make them good: his agent in India, Mr. H. C. Sutherland, a member of the house. of Alexander and Co., happened to be in London at the time, and could have spoken to the remittance of the £10,000 to their correspondents here for the purchase of the goods as stipulated, and their export in 1822, and arrival in Bengal, if such really had been the case. Mr. Richardson, the exporting agent, was also on the spot, and in attendance on the committee of the House, ready with his accounts in his hand, to prove the amount he had exported. Why did not Mr. Buckingham get these two gentlemen to attest the allegation that he had exported such a quantity of property (£10,000) to the concern in 1822? Why did he not get Mr. Sutherland, who was present, to attest that he had invested £10,000 more in the concern in India, and that it actually yielded him an income of £8,000 per annum?

For the strongest reason in the world, as I now discovered. Mr. Richardson, his agent, being in attendance, as I myself was, from day to day on the committee of the House of Commons, to give evidence, if called on, came prepared with an abstract of his accounts; and as the things to be proved naturally became the topics of conversation, he informed me, and shewed by a written statement, that instead of £10,000 in 1822, he never had exported to Mr. Buckingham more than £2,000 in that or any one year; and never to the extent of £10,000, during the whole period of the existence of the Calcutta Journal.

From the moment this fact came to my knowledge, I felt that I could no longer place reliance in any statement or profession of Mr. Buckingham. I had before this met with several things to shake my confidence; but all personal injuries and minor errors of every kind I had determined to overlook and forgive, so long as I thought he acted fairly by the public cause. His ingratitude and injustice to the Marquis of Hastings, I was willing to attribute to excess of zeal for liberty;-- his inconsistencies, mis-statements, and contradictions, I supposed might arise from mis-recollection or confusion of ideas: such errors might admit of friendly correction, and his future conduct might, I hoped, atone for them. But the mysterious disappearance of a large mass of property (£10,000), which ought to have been devoted, and legally belonged to the cause of freedom -- the scheme so ruinous to that cause which had been contrived to raise this sum -- the subsequent abandonment of' the Journal there for want of funds -- the setting up in the mean time of splendid establishments in Regent's Park, &c., were symptoms that could not longer be misunderstood. It now seemed impossible to resist the conviction, that

"Though his tongue dropped manna, and could make
The worse appear the better reason, all was false and hollow."

To do away however, if practicable, with this painful idea, I applied formally to his agent, Mr. Richardson, for more precise information on the subject. This I had every right to do, having myself contracted for a proprietary share in that property, as a return for my exertions in supporting it; which had entailed upon me several years of persecution, the loss of my all, and more than once the risk of life itself. Mr. Richardson applied to Mr. Buckingham for permission to give me information regarding this property, for which I had paid so high a price; but it was withheld from me! "No one, (wrote Mr. Buckingham, whose letter I preserved), has a right to know any thing on that subject without my consent!" -- He afterwards represented it as most atrocious, if not criminal, to make the inquiry. He sells us a property alleged to be on the way from England; and after we have paid the heavy price, tells us we have no right to know what became of it!

More than this, I soon after learnt that he had represented to his friends and dupes, that I was the person who ought to have proved to the committee of the House of Commons, that property to the amount stated, (£20,000), had been invested by him in his Journal; and that his failure to prove this must therefore be attributed to my "treachery" in refusing to attest the truth! It is therefore a duty I owe my own character, to shew the real causes of his failure. He knew well, that by a regulation laid down for his agents in Calcutta, the secret and mysterious nature of which he best knew the cause of, I, and others interested, were prevented from having any precise information regarding the state of the concern. It was as follows:--

"On the accounts of the month being made up by Mr. Heckford, and examined and revised by Mr. Sandys. (but by no other person) who may desire explanation on any part seeming to require it," &c.

He therefore preferred examining me as to the state of his concerns, to examining his agents Messrs. Richardson and Sutherland, who were personally cognizant of the facts. I could only have spoken from the vague reports and statements of what was told me by others, or from his own assertions, which Mr. Richardson had taught me to estimate at their true value. I might have informed the Committee, with perfect truth, that if' I might rely on what I had just been told by a gentleman of great respectability, who had the best means of knowing the fact (viz. Mr. Richardson), the whole of Mr. Buckingham's statements as to his property were an imposition. His previous cruel and unjustifiable conduct to myself, as will afterwards be seen, might have warranted me in taking that course. My regard, however, for the honourable men with whom he was then connected, and the cause which they advocated, enabled me to smother my indignation at the disgraceful impositions which were now threatening to come to light. To avoid being instrumental in their exposure, I took refuge within my privilege as a witness, of not being compelled to speak to facts that did not come within my own personal knowledge. I considered his agents and his books (which were both beside him) as the proper evidence. He knew, however, that these would not make out his fallacious case, and therefore contrived to waste the time of the committee from day to day, in reading his interminable correspondence with the Bengal Government. Though often urged to come to the fact, (or no facts) of the petition, he wandered farther and farther from them, till evasion being hardly possible any longer, he most conveniently became indisposed, which wasted a few days more, when the session, fortunately for him, concluded; and the committee therefore broke up, leaving every thing unsettled as before (unless it be the fact that he was unable to prove his statements). This is the way in which quackery trifles with the public institutions of the country, which were meant to afford protection to the really oppressed and unfortunate. It is such mockeries as these, practised upon the constitutional bodies forming the barriers of our liberties, which make them often turn a deaf ear to the claims of redress presented by the really deserving, whose honest tale of suffering is not garnished with the trappings of fiction and imposture.



Mr. B. (As Dr. Cantwell). Are you also among the conspirators?

The Hon. Mr. ___ (as Mawworm). He is a Saint -- and a Patriot. -- If ever there a Saint, he is one. But you (Bankes, Burckhardt, Briggs, Barker, Boog. &c.) will all go to the devil!

HAVING now explained to the reader some of the circumstances that gave me so thorough an insight into the character of this person, I think it my duty to the public to give here a brief sketch of his history. In doing so, I shall not travel far out of the record furnished by himself; and as, for many years past, he has been chiefly occupied in detailing and retailing accounts of himself -- his sayings and doings -- he cannot surely object much to being assisted for once in this laborious task by a neutral pen. If the biographies of the dead are useful to posterity, a knowledge of the true character of the living might be still more so, as it may enable their cotemporaries to anticipate the good or guard against the mischief they may still do.

As I have nothing to do with his private character, but merely that part of his conduct which affects the public directly or indirectly, it is hardly worth while to go back to his early life, over which he himself has thrown a veil. All that I have to do with is the fact, that he was not lowered in the world by his connexion with the Indian press. It may be just stated, therefore, that he appears to have begun the world with a small printing-office in Falmouth. There are persons who still recollect the words "James Buckingham, Printer," stuck up over his door there; and thus commenced his connection with the press. He is supposed to have previously obtained some knowledge of naval matters from some of his relations being connected with a packet-boat, which probably led to his being made a prisoner, as he says, in Portugal; and of law, from the wisdom to be learnt in an attorney's office. But whether it was from having too many trades, or from inattention to one, his business in Falmouth, it is said, failed. After this we are informed, having some movings of the spirit, he took up the trade of methodist preacher, and Plymouth is mentioned as the scene of his sacred functions. From these he appears to have soon desisted, in order to "cast his bread upon the waters." Having engaged in the Mediterranean trade, he thus had an opportunity of forming connexions in Egypt, and was employed by a commercial house there, Messrs. Briggs and Co. as an agent to establish a trade between that place and Bombay. The funds furnished him by his employers for this purpose, he spent in travels in Palestine, and having in the mean time left their business to take care of itself, he was consequently compelled to refund one-half of the money so acquired. But, lest I should go wrong, in stating the delicate matters connected with this part of his life, I shall take the account of them published by Mr. Buckingham himself, in his report of the trial of his fellow-traveller, Mr. Bankes, whom he, prosecuted for libel for having stated his view of them. As the most impartial and authentic record of the case, I shall take the summing-up of the learned Judge (Mr. Justice Park), stripped of the distortions of either party. The reader has only to deduct from the assertions of Mr. Bankes the portions of them which the learned Judge considered as not proven; the large balance then remaining must be considered as standing against Mr. Buckingham.

The Lord Chief Justice having stated the nature of the action, and made some general observations as to defendant having failed to prove his justification, is reported (Oriental Herald, vol. xi. p. 448) to have given the following summary of the evidence:

It appears from the evidence, that the plaintiff and defendant travelled together from Jerusalem, to visit a place called Jerash: and I think it may be assumed that, until they met at Jerusalem, the parties were unacquainted. The plaintiff there introduced himself to the defendant, and requested to be allowed to accompany Mr. Bankes, and was ultimately permitted to do so. This journey having been thus taken, some considerable time afterwards the defendant sees an advertisement, published, as it appears, by the plaintiff, at Calcutta, announcing his intention to publish a work, to be entitled 'Travels in Palestine.' This being part of the country he had travelled with Mr. Bankes, and the journey having been taken under circumstances which, it is alleged, required Mr. Buckingham to forbear to publish an account, and assuming, not incorrectly perhaps, that this work would contain some narrative of that journey, Mr. Bankes was exceedingly irritated to think this should take place, and he was induced, under that irritation, to write the letter of which the plaintiff complains.

I think I cannot do better than read to you the libel of which the plaintiff complains -- directing your attention generally to such parts as may, in the evidence, be considered as proved, or on which evidence has been offered, by the defendant, fit for consideration, and pointing out those parts of it, in which it appears he has altogether failed. The letter begins thus:
MR. BUCKINGHAM, -- After some anecdotes respecting your conduct, which you cannot but suspect must have come, however late, to my knowledge before this time, you cannot suspect that I should address you otherwise than I should the lowest of mankind. It is indeed with reluctance that I stoop to address you at all. It will require, however, no long preface, to acquaint you with the object of this letter, since your own conscience will point it out to you, from the moment that you shall recognise a hand-writing which must be familiar to you, since you have copied it, and are about to turn the transcript to account. You have hoped that the distance of place would befriend you -- you have hoped that I should shrink from proclaiming that I have been imposed upon: it would have been far more politic in you to have shrunk from being proclaimed the man who has imposed.

In that advertisement by which you announce as your own the works of another, you have at least spared me the humiliation of being named in the list of your friends. Though the motive of this is sufficiently obvious, and it furnishes in itself both a proof and an aggravation of your culpability, yet some of those who are made to appear in that list would rather, I am persuaded, that you had invaded their property, as you have mine, than have subjected them to so unmerited a stigma. One amongst the number (whom you would not have dared even to allude to had he been alive) is unhappily unable to repel the imputations in his own person -- I mean the late Mr. Burckhardt, whom you so imprudently cite as your bosom friend. The boast is rash and ill-timed.

Are you not aware that copies of a letter are extant, in which he styles you a villain -- in which he says that the rogue can be brought to a sense of duty only by a kick? Do you wish, then, to publish your own disgrace, by letting the world know how well you were known to that excellent person, who, during the last two years of his life, lost no opportunity of testifying his contempt and aversion for your character.

I pause here, to state that the defendant has pleaded in justification of this part of the libel, that there does exist a copy of a letter, in which Mr. Burckhardt styles the plaintiff 'a villain,' and says that the plaintiff 'can be brought to a sense of his duty only by a kick.' Some letters, written by Mr. Burckhardt, proved to be in his hand-writing, are in evidence before you. They certainly are letters in which the writer speaks of Mr. Buckingham in unmeasured terms, disgraceful to the person thus spoken of; but there is no letter, or copy of a letter, in which he styles the plaintiff 'a villain,' or in which he says 'he can be brought to a sense of duty only by a kick.' In that justification, therefore, the defendant has failed. He has proved a letter existing, containing very considerable imputations on the plaintiff's character; but as to testifying his 'contempt and aversion for his character,' that also is not proved in the terms in which it is alleged in the libel. In this, also, the defendant has failed in the proof. I now go on with the letter:
Do not imagine that these sentiments were confined to the page of a single letter. Sheik Ibrahim was too open and too honourable to wish others to be deceived, as he had been for a time himself. Had his letter to me reached me sooner than they did, I should have had timely warning to beware how I trusted you, and you would never have had that opportunity which you have seized of abusing my kindness and confidence.

It is beneath me to expostulate with you; but I will state some facts to yourself, which I have already stated to others -- that the journey beyond Jordan to Dgerask and Oomkais was arranged, and the Arabs under engagement to conduct me thither, before I ever saw you; that you introduced yourself to me by a letter, stating that you were intimate with some of my best friends, and studiously concealing from me (both then and afterwards) that you were in any person's employ.'

The introduction by letter is proved; the contents are not proved, because the letter is torn as soon as it is read; nor does it appear to have been read by the servant.
That it was at my invitation (I being always under the supposition that you were a free agent) that you went with me, having previously agreed to take down my notes and the journals when I should wish it; that the whole expenses of that journey were upon me; that the notes and journal were in great part taken down from my mouth (especially what relates to Dgerash), with the exception of that of the two or three last days, which were written with my own hand, and afterwards copied fair by you; but, above all, that the plan of the ruins at Dgerash was constructed and noted with my own hand, and that all the assistance that I derived from you, even in collecting the materials for it, was in your ascertaining for me the relative bearings of some of the buildings with my compass; that, as to the plan of the theatre, you did not even know that I had made it, till you saw it at Nazareth.

It is hardly necessary to remind you, that you neither copied a single inscription, nor made a single sketch on the spot.

From the testimony of the witnesses for the defendant, it appears he did not, at the time, copy any inscription, or make any sketches. He goes on to say,
Since you are, I know, incapable of the one, and your ignorance of Latin and Greek must, I should suppose, unfit you for the other, add to which, you had not a single sheet of paper on which you could have done either, if I except a pocketbook about four inches square.

That the plaintiff is unacquainted with Latin and Greek was, I think, admitted by the Learned Counsel in the outset. There is, in his book, a plate, which purports to contain some copies of Greek inscriptions, and it has been proved that, upon that plate, the character intended to denote the letter r, is mistaken; and, instead of finding the Greek character, you find the Latin character. I think that a person well acquainted with the Greek language was not likely to have fallen into such a mistake: but the plaintiff's ignorance of Greek and Latin, and any mistake which has occurred in the plate containing these inscriptions, are really matters of very small importance to this cause.
The great ground-plan was traced at a window of the convent of Nazareth (as both my servants can testify), and you have copies from my drawings at the tombs at Oomkais, taken at the same time. These last are, probably, to furnish the vignettes and appropriate engravings which are announced.

Surely you must laugh at the simplicity of your subscribers when you are alone, with whom you are to pass for a draughtsman, being ignorant of the very first principles of design; (or an accurate copier of inscriptions, being ignorant of all the ancient languages; and, for an explainer of antiquities, being incapable of even distinguishing between the architecture of the Turks and tile Romans,

This is another part in which the defendant has failed. He has taken on himself to say, that the plaintiff was incapable of distinguishing between the architecture of the Turks and the Romans, of which he has offered no proof.
I have said enough. -- It is in vain to attempt to make a man sensible of ingratitude who has been guilty of fraud.

What I demand is, the immediate restitution of those copies from my papers, without exception, and without your retaining any duplicates of them. Let them be put into the hands of Sir Evan Nepean, whom I have begged that he will do me the favour to take charge of them; and let all that portion of the work advertised that treats of a journey made at my expense, and compiled from my notes, be suppressed. I leave you, otherwise, to take the consequence: should you persist, the matter shall be notified in a manner that shall make your character as notorious in England and India as it is already in Egypt and Syria.

Here the defendant has undertaken to prove that the character of the plaintiff was notorious in Egypt and Syria. In that also he has failed.
You will find that you have not duped an obscure individual, who is obliged to bear it and hold his tongue.


When this letter was written, I did not know that the person to whom it is addressed was editor of the paper in which his long-winded advertisement appeared, but supposed him to be still at Bombay.

I have pointed out to your attention some parts of this libel, in which the defendant has certainly not made out the proof of his justification. I have now to mention to you some other parts in which, perhaps, you may think he has; namely, that the journey was taken at the expense of the defendant, and that preparations were made for it by the defendant before he met the plaintiff. In some parts of this libel the plaintiff is accused of having copied the notes which had been taken by the defendant, or by himself under the defendant's own direction; and of having also copied the plan which had been taken by the defendant; and the defendant has called witnesses to prove, (you are to judge of their credit)* [The Judge added, "I see no reason why they should not be believed," The omission of this in the Report, convinces me that other parts of it were coloured to favour Mr. Buckingham.] that during the journey, the plaintiff did not himself take any drawings or prospects; that on one occasion he wrote from the dictation of the plaintiff; that he was seen to make a copy of something contained in some book, and that he traced the plan that had been made. Whether the notes that are contained in this little book, are the notes from which Mr. Buckingham's book is taken, does not appear, because the contents were not read; probably they are not, and cannot be precisely the same. They would, no doubt, be very concise and short. Mr. Buckingham's book certainly professes to give a narrative of a journey taken in company with Mr. Bankes to Jerasb; and, if it be true,* [As was most distinctly sworn in evidence. This too is omitted in the Judge's charge.] that he took the journey under a stipulation that he was not to make writings or drawings, I think that, as a man of delicate honour, he would have abstained from giving any narrative of a journey so taken. Whether all contained in the book is taken from the notes of Mr. Bankes is another thing.

A great deal has been said, and a great deal of time consumed in examining this plan of the town of Jerasb. It is said, on the part of the plaintiff, in his preface, that his plans were taken at one time, and afterwards corrected and improved at two subsequent visits. Now, the plaintiff has not been able to give evidence of any journey except that in company with Mr. Bankes; and the publication, if I am correctly informed, does not contain a narrative of any other journey except that. It is argued before you, that if he had been on any other journey, you would have found a narrative of it. On the other hand, on behalf of the defendant, great part of the examination of this plan was with a view to find whether or not Mr. Buckingham had made any subsequent visit, and corrected the first plan by what he saw on that subsequent visit. The evidence on that head runs into very great detail, and I do not know that I should render you any material assistance by giving you that detail again. I can only say this, that as far as the evidence goes, I should say, the matter was left in very considerable doubt or uncertainty, one way or the other. I myself could not either draw a conclusion, that the plaintiff had corrected the drawings from his own observations, nor could I draw a conclusion that he had not been there, and that the alterations were made merely by the way of colour, and not as the result of a second visit.

The plaintiff has also offered, in evidence, his own manuscript of the printed book. When it first came over, it came accompanied by two drawings, which were not given up at the time, which Mr. Murray says he had inadvertently kept; and, by several engravings which have now been produced. The two drawings are produced, which, as they appeared in the work, are shown to be copies of some prints then in existence. These drawings appear to be copied from existing prints. The prints sent over certainly are existing prints; but there is written upon each of them some directions, in pencil, for alterations: and you are desired to infer, that if these had been published, they would have been published as engravings from drawings prepared purposely, which in fact they would not have been. That would only show that this gentleman contemplated that which many other persons have done -- giving to the world, as drawings made by themselves, those which had been, in a great measure, copied from other drawings, and putting a great deal into books as being that which they had seen with their own eyes, which, in fact, they had taken from the narrative of the persons who had gone before them. That is a very common art of book-making. Whether that applies to the plaintiff's publication I do not mean to say.

I do not know any other material matter for me to direct your attention to. I have directed it to those points which appear to me to be the prominent parts of the case, and the evidence on one side and the other. I have already stated to you, that if the publication is proved, the justification is not; and the plaintiff is therefore entitled to your verdict. Then comes the question of damages, which is for your own consideration. You will take into your view the mode in which the original letter was written; that there was more excuse for writing it, than for the delivery of a copy a considerable time afterwards. It is due, however, to the defendant to say, that it was all done under a strong impression that the plaintiff was about to give to the world some account of a journey taken by the defendant, which the defendant at least conceived the plaintiff ought not to publish, but which he should have left to the defendant to usher to the world as his own.

Having made these remarks, you will consider the case; find your verdict; and give such reasonable and temperate damages as may appear the result of sober and correct judgment, and not the result of angry feeling.

Mr. Buckingham then gave out (see the same vol. of this book, p.459)
"that it was this letter of Mr. Bankes which led to his removal from India, and the loss of an actual property of £40,000, and an income of £8,000 per annum.

If so, the reader may judge how large a portion of the letter the jury considered to be unproved, when it awarded to Mr. Buckingham only a hundredth part of that sum, namely £400. Having been present at this trial, there is one omission in the charge of the Judge, which I deem it a duty to supply. It was that, "he saw no reason why Mr. Bankes's witnesses should not be believed." From the manner in which they gave their evidence, I was certainly of the same opinion. But had they been able to prove much less (and I do not see how it was possible for them to prove more), it would be shallow reasoning to conclude that a man must lie innocent because another fails to prove him guilty. When you are robbed of your handkerchief in the streets of London, if you were to charge the thief without having witnesses to prove the fact, you would both fail in recovering your property, and be liable to damages for slander. How much more difficult your situation, if this occurred in Palestine or the Deserts of Arabia! And such must be the result of any trial for libel, when many of the facts of it lie beyond the reach of evidence -- be the party innocent or guilty.

Thus a striking feature in this case was a deficiency of conclusive evidence, besides the character of the parties. But there is one expression in a letter of Mr. Bankes, written while he and Mr. Buckingham were friends. (April 12th, 1816), and retained by the latter contrary to promise, which seems to imply very strongly, that it had been agreed on between them, that the information they jointly collected should belong to the book of travels which Mr. Bankes was to publish; that Mr. Bankes was to execute the drawings himself, but had put the information which he gleaned into the hands of Mr. Buckingham, to compose the description which was to accompany the drawings; that Mr. Bankes, in consequence, agreed to mention Mr. Buckingham's name in the title or preface of the book. For he says in a long letter, addressed to Mr. Buckingham:

"I have been careful and exact in my drawings, which are in great number, and I do not think you will be ashamed to have your name associated to what I may one day or other throw together into form. Do me the favour to keep this letter, not for your use, but my own. You know how indolent I am about writing, and I have thrown here many things upon paper, which I may perhaps never do again."

This aversion to writing is sufficient to account for his employing Mr. Buckingham as a secretary or amanuensis. Why else should he have sent him information, avowedly not for his own sake, but to be preserved for the benefit of the sender? And why else should a person so "indolent about writing," have put himself to the superfluous trouble to write this very long letter, for such it is, to Mr. Buckingham?

This view of the case, however, is founded on my present knowledge of the character of one of the parties. So long as I knew nothing otherwise to shake my confidence in Mr. Buckingham's veracity, I was willing to believe his declarations of innocence; rather than Mr. Bankes's charges of guilt. I leant in favour or the person I knew, rather than of the person I did not know. But though the latter is now as much a stranger to me personally as then, taking him merely at the average of human honesty, I cannot hesitate for a moment in believing his statement, rather than that of his opponent, whom I do know. It would, I think, be an insult to common sense to hesitate a moment between them.

The effect produced by Mr. Bankes's letter in India is thus described by Mr. Buckingham:
The subject was first taken up in an anonymous letter signed "A Friend of Mr. Bankes;" and this was followed up (he states) by "a series of others, of the most malignant and murderous description that ever appeared in print. They ended (he says) in calling on all the public associations of India, and on every family or individual who had the least regard for their honour, to expel from among them, to shun, to detest, and to point the finger of scorn, at the man whom this abandoned and anonymous assassin declared to be a convicted liar, robber, swindler, impostor, thief, and monster of iniquity, and all on the authority of these slanders of Mr. Bankes, now (he says) so completely exposed."

He intimates that the writer at these', "the anonymous assassin," was the Rev. Dr. Bryce. Having named this gentleman, I must observe, that though I dissent from his politics, and dislike his mode of advocating them, yet when it comes to private character, I feel bound to admit that he is a man of talent and learning, who has raised himself by his own abilities to the high situation be holds as head of the Presbyterian Church in Bengal; and from all I can learn he is sincerely beloved in the circle of those who do know him.

Mr. Buckingham goes on to state (Oriental Herald, vol. ii. p. 469), that for questioning the propriety of the appointment given to that gentleman he was banished from India, robbed of a property of £40,000, and of an income of £8,000, &c., and then
"That all this sprung originally from the calumnies of Mr. Bankes being believed to be true, and as such depriving Mr. Buckingham of the sympathy and support of honorable men, no one acquainted with the fact can doubt."

Enough has now been stated to show that Mr. Buckingham, before he became connected with the Indian Press, was a man tottering in fortunes and ill fame. A powerful party having then taken him by the hand, he was enabled for some years to resist the flood of indignation which rolled after him from his old associates in the scene of his former wanderings. That at last it became so strong as to bear him down, and at the same time make a total shipwreck of the cause of the Indian press, which had unfortunately become linked with his ill-fated name.

Whatever a needy adventurer might have done, whatever shifts and expedients he might have had recourse to, of hiring his services to one, trespassing upon the rights of a second, or living upon a third, it was to be hoped that being now engaged in a noble cause, and liberally supported by a generous public, he would adopt principles becoming his situation. After the discovery of the affair of the ten thousand pounds, I, for one, despaired of any such regeneration. So far from seeing any ground to hope that the future would make atonement for the past, I perceived a settled determination to do what has been too often done before, greatly to the public detriment, by artful men making use of a profession of patriotism as means of levying contributions on the public. Whether or not this love of money be the actuating motive of Mr. Buckingham, the reader may judge -- first from his incessant changes in the prices of his publications: secondly, his Calcutta Journal share scheme, with its results: thirdly, his entering so warmly into the bubble companies of 1825, after his services had been so strongly pledged to the cause of the Indian press. To sum up his pretensions -- having travelled, as he tells us, towards India, sometimes with a bag of dates on his back, at other times sleeping with "his sword for a pillow, and his shield for a coverlid," sometimes borrowing ten dollars from Mr. Bankes, or his servant, and larger or smaller sums as be could get them, from Mr. Burkhardt and others; or in failure of money, food to support him: and having returned from India a few years afterwards with at least £10,000 (more probably £20,000), instead of describing himself as a martyr, he might, with greater justice, compare himself to a poor Irishman, travelling over to England, with only a bag of potatoes on his back for his sustenance, and sent home to his own country four or five years afterwards with more wealth than ever had been possessed by all his generation! If it be more honorable to acquire wealth by the honest exertion of talent and industry, than by bubble schemes and delusions, I do not know; but the poor Irishman should be considered a more respectable character than any Benfield or Buckingham that ever came from India, though loaded with all the riches of the East. With these remarks I conclude my account of the mariner, -- printer, -- Methodist preacher, -- merchant; -- traveller, -- editor, -- Egyptian trading company, and Tywarnhale mining director, -- public lecturer, and stone-quarry man -- the professions which have at last become the object of his mature and enlightened choice.



WHEN I first saw reason to be dissatisfied with Mr. Buckingham's conduct, I deemed it my duty first to submit it to the judgment of some of his private friends in England, that he might have an opportunity of clearing himself. Finding that I could obtain no satisfaction, and that he refused to explain the fact of the £10,000, I deemed it necessary to take measures to obtain information from Bengal on the subject. In consequence of this I was accused, first, of being the cause of the failure of his case before the House of Commons; secondly, of having promoted the destruction of his property in Bengal, the very property which I had risked my life and fortune to save; and lastly, according to his usual practice, he invented a tale of romance, distorting every action of my life which he had before spoken of with such applause, and representing it as a tissue of baseness and treachery. As this defamatory romance, however, was merely private, I was content to reply to it in private, rather than hurt the feelings of the persons with whom he was connected, who intreated me, for the sake of a common cause, to overlook his conduct. He having, however, disregarded this consideration, and attacked me in a public paper, I sent a reply. As he did not venture to publish this, several written copies of it were made at the time, to satisfy my friends; and there it might have rested for me. But one of them thinking that it ought to be published, sent a copy to the editor of a Calcutta newspaper with whom he happened to be personally acquainted, as he was perfectly justified in doing. It thus became public. This having exposed me to fresh attacks, I take this mode of vindicating my own character, of placing the causes which led to the present degradation of the Indian Press in their true light, and explaining the motives of those who have for years past subjected me to the most vindictive persecution, for having dared to tell the truth. They will now find that, though Lord Amherst excluded me from his dominions because I adhered firmly to what I considered the cause of truth and justice, and although I have suffered so many years of persecution for this cause, I am still the same person, and will publish whatever I consider useful to the world to know, in defiance of the threats and oppressions of corrupt and interested men, however strongly they may be leagued together to destroy me. My defence, circulated in MS. as above explained, was introduced in the Calcutta John Bull, with the following among other remarks: --
"It is historically valuable, for it throws a light on more than one transaction, which at the period of its occurrence was made to bear the aspect of the most disinterested patriotism and regard for public rights; and if it places these, as we ourselves verily believe it does, in their true and proper bearing, it is important as a lesson to honourable and upright men, incapable themselves of such conduct, and unwilling to believe in its existence in others, to be upon their guard, when again besieged by the insinuating tale and insidious address of the "artful adventurer." It is moreover due to the gentleman,* [Here John Bull is mistaken: it was sent him, not by me, but by a friend, who had got a copy.] who has requested the room we have given to his statement. This gentleman fell a martyr to his services in the cause of those, who have indeed most scurvily requited him: his appeal to the free press of England -- at least that part of it in the hands of our old "Palladium" -- has been rejected, and it is not the least curious feature in the story, that from the fettered Press of India Mr. Arnot should obtain the publicity to his defence, to which the publicity of the attack on his integrity undoubtedly entitles him. Against this publicity, the Oriental Herald, the Sphynx, and the Athenaeum have been closed -- the Calcutta John Bull has been opened!! Let the friends of Liberty of the Press blush for themselves, if they have a blush to spare, but let us hear no more of our being the enemies of "free discussion" -- the complaint of pernicious publicity comes at length from the enemies' quarters. On the subject of the sale of the late Calcutta Journal in shares there are many here -- and our co-temporary of the Hurkaru among others -- who can set Mr. Arnot right, if he is wrong: he tells a story, which if true, renders it a difficult matter to determine, whether more to reprobate the roguery on the one side, or the foolish silliness on the other. If the John Bull, and those who stood by it, when it opposed itself so stoutly to this roguery, should feel an honest pride at the establishment of its positions, now afforded by one of the principal actors in the drama, no one will be surprised, who recollects the abuse which the radical press was once so lavish, on all who withstood its great champion, or dared to doubt that he was the disinterested and honest patriot he pretended to be. It is long since the curtain dropped on the Indian part of the play; it is clear from Mr. Arnot's statement of facts, that it will soon fall, if it has not already fallen, in the after-piece got up at home.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Mar 31, 2021 5:45 am

Part 6 of 7




As you have dragged me into your controversy with the LONDON WEEKLY REVIEW, a publication with which I have not, and never had, any connection, although I have long known and esteemed its conductors as gentlemen of high talent and unimpeachable character; I appeal to your sense of justice to allow me to defend myself against the unjustifiable attack of Mr. James Silk Buckingham, one of the Proprietors I believe of the Athenaeum. As he has turned round upon me because of the mention of my name as one of the many who once befriended and spoke well of him, and then saw reason to regard his conduct with extreme aversion, let me state here that the Editor of the "Weekly Review" having been Mr. Buckingham's own referee in our difference (which ended in this gentleman, and John Hunt, Esq. of the Examiner, referee on my part, awarding me £50 damages from Mr. Buckingham), it is surely no fault of mine if Mr. Buckingham's own referee, who now knows and regards him exactly as I did years ago, state a fact so completely within his knowledge. But as changing my opinion of Mr. Buckingham has thus exposed me to this attack, I beg leave to state in extenuation a few of the reasons that produced that change. If Mr. Buckingham can explain them away, with his usual dexterity, he will be grateful to me for affording him this opportunity, and I and my friends will be glad to think better of him than we have done for some years past.

1. He assured us in Calcutta, when he sold his Journal in shares, that it was worth £40,000. That this sum was made up, one-half of copyright, one-fourth of property on the spot, and the remaining fourth of goods commissioned from Mr. James Richardson (23 Cornhill), his agent in London, which were all to arrive in India by the end of that year (1822), and be paid for by a credit on Messrs. Fletcher, Alexander, and Co., now of King's Arms Yard, Coleman Street: I take this from Mr. Buckingham's printed statement and contract of sale in my possession. Unfortunately, however, conversing with Mr. Richardson, his agent above named, on the subject, he informed me that he never sent Mr. Buckingham goods to the value of £10,000 in his life, and not more than £2,000, or a fifth of the sum, in 1822, or any one year.
I take this to the best of my recollection, and if wrong, his agent can correct me. And I must add also, that the whole put together, when soon after disposed of by public auction, that it might sell to the highest advantage, did not fetch, I believe more than £8,000 instead of £20,000.* [This is a most liberal calculation for Mr. Buckingham, when the fact is that the highest offer ever made for the whole concern with its latest additions, including of course all the reputed ten thousand of property from England, copy-right and all together; was only about £3,000, not one-tenth of the value asserted by Mr. Buckingham. In witness whereof, that offer was made by Samuel Smith of the Bengal Hurkaru, a shrewd and enterprising man in business, perhaps the best judge of the value of such property of any man in India.] If his agent in Cornhill did not send this £10,000, pray who did? Will Mr. Buckingham print a certificate of the fact from his agents, Messrs. Alexander and. Co., who were alleged to have supplied the funds?

2. If the copy-right of a Journal liable to be suppressed daily by the banishment of its conductors was worth any thing, six months' purchase of the profits may surely be considered a fair estimate. But, allowing from eighteen months to two years, even this, by his own account, would hardly exceed £7,000, which, added to the former £3,000 for effects, makes only a saleable value of £10,000 in all.* [Mr. Buckingham himself confesses, in his letter to the East-India Company of November 13th, 1825, vol. viii. p. 168, that the property only fetched rupees 18,278, or about £1,000. Let him or his agents explain what became of the difference between this and the £20,000! He alleges that it arose from there being no purchasers to compete with each other, and that the types were consequently sold as old metal. That this is quite false I know, as I was present at the sale, where I saw most of the Printers in Calcutta competing with each other; and some of the property sold above its value.] Mr. Buckingham may say indeed, that he sold a fourth of it for that in shares £100 each. But as it was under a condition to furnish each of the purchasers a daily publication, costing 16 rupees per mensem for 100 purchasers, it amounted then to a mortgage over the property equal to its whole worth, at the tremendous interest of 20 per cent. Mr. Buckingham carried home the ten thousand in his pocket, as he publishes somewhere, and left others to pay the interest, consequently the shareholders lost almost all, while he appears to have lost nothing. Yet he tells us that he lost £40,000? Will he state of what it consisted, or if he did not land in India a few years before without a penny of his own, and rather in debt.

3. Mr. Buckingham engaged myself and the present Editor of the Weekly Review to aid him in conducting his Oriental Herald, on a salary of £150 per annum each, with a promise of a share in the profits. At the end of the period of my agreement he declared there were no profits whatever, and that it only afforded £500 per annum for the literary materials of it, on which estimate he wished us to enter into a contract to relieve him of the whole expense of them. At the same period he had a printed estimate in private circulation, stating that the literary materials cost him just three times the above sum, and that even then it would yield a surplus profit of above £800 per annum.* [By another estimate made by him to Messrs. Jowett and Mills, the printers of the work, he made the cost of the literary materials £756 per annum, and the clear annual profits £2,028 as proved by their document, an evidence in my possession. He tried by this estimate to induce them to accept a share of the profits, instead of payment for their work!]

4. On this latter statement he sold a number of shares or perpetual copies of the work to Sir Charles Forbes, Mr. [Joseph] Hume, and others for large sums (afterwards converted into magnificent subscriptions, with a view to support the work;) yet, notwithstanding this aid of several thousands so raised, and the ten thousand at least he brought from India, and the surplus profit of £800 per annum (or rather £1,800 if the lower estimate of the literary materials were the true one), he soon afterwards professed to be reduced to absolute poverty, and solicited public charity: yea, he hung up boards in every part of the town, saying the smallest sums would be acceptable.

5. All this time he lived in a style very unlike poverty, first in a magnificent residence in Regent's Park, then in one hardly less splendid in Grove End Road; yet denounced as calumniators those who saw and declared this fact, that may easily be ascertained by hundreds in this city.*
[For the description of these houses, see Oriental Herald Advertiser for January 1826, p. 5. and August 1826, p. 21. The last, valued by him as worth £500 a year rent, is the cottage to which he retired to drink the "crystal stream!'] In order to aid this public charity, some weak persons were persuaded to believe that he was at this time living at a small cottage in the outskirts of London, drinking only "the crystal stream," which fable is believed in India to this day.

6. Mr. Buckingham agreed, in presence of John Nevins, Esq., merchant in the City of London, and John Betts, Esq., of Honiton, Devon (as proved by their evidence in my hands), to resign to me all share or participation in the trade of book-selling (with which he had induced me to connect myself), either at home or abroad, under the nominal exception only of wholesale orders to the extent of two or three thousand pounds, which I had neither capital nor inclination to execute. Soon afterwards he denied this agreement in toto, in presence of the Hon. Col. Stanhope and Dr. Gilchrist, the referees in the case, as proved by their documentary evidence.

7. While openly professing to me his resolution to resign that business, an agreement which he confirmed in presence of the two gentlemen above named, I found he was secretly employing the name of Messrs. Longman and Co., to enable him to carry it on, on a much greater scale than before, and, as he subsequently avowed, solely for his own benefit.

8. Afterwards, however, as a reason for denying all agreement with me, Mr. Buckingham alleged that he had completed an arrangement with Messrs. Longman and Co., for supplying books, paintings, &c. to the eastern world: He had actually distributed thousands of circulars in India to that effect. That respectable house, however, declared that no such arrangement ever existed, as proved by the extract of their letter in the "London Weekly Review."* [See Appendix, Notarial Documents, p. 8.]

9. It is proved by letters attested by the signatures of Col. Stanhope and Dr. Gilchrist, that the only claim submitted by me against Buckingham was for fulfilment of the above agreement (the evidence of which, by shrinking from the investigation, he never allowed them an opportunity of seeing or acting on). In your paper, Mr. Buckingham now asserts that the claim was a share of the profits of the Oriental Herald.

10. As it is attested that I never submitted this claim, I shall here state my reasons: he wrote at one time there was no profit, at another within a few weeks that there was £800 per annum; at one time, that an item of expenditure was £1,500, and within a few weeks represented the same item as only £500! I was afraid to form any closer connection with such a work; he had before offered me a share in his "Calcutta Journal," an apparently much more flourishing concern: it turned out to be a share of loss: "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes:" [Google Translate: I fear Greeks bearing gifts] If some publishers and editors had my experience, they would not be so anxious for shares with a Sphynx, -- or a framer of enigmas, who has the knack of being unintelligible, except when he pleases; and of conjuring up bubbles or riddles, which prove fatal to those who do not understand them.

11. The chief personal grievance which wrought a change in my opinion was, that after I had exposed myself to persecution and banishment, imprisonment, shipwreck, and in short periled life and fortune in his cause in India, when many others had deserted him, for which I received testimonies of approbation from the best and greatest men that country can boast of; he, for whom chiefly I suffered, declared himself not in the least obliged to me! This was submitted to the judgment of Dr. Gilchrist and Col. Stanhope, whose decision I shall here quote from the MS. in the Hon. Colonel's own hand.

"My opinion was, and is, that these gentlemen have rendered useful service to the state. Mr. Buckingham was wrong in asserting that he owed nothing to Mr. Arnot, because Mr. Arnot had served him faithfully under the most trying circumstances."

This was written long after the infamous letter quoted in your paper, and attributed to the Hon. D. K*******; and it is the deliberate decision of a gentleman whose character ranks as high, although he may not peradventure have so high an opinion of Mr. James Silk Buckingham, and who had the matter much longer before him than this last dupe of the "Adventurer," as he must be, if he has lent himself in the way represented.

I shall now touch briefly on his part in the transaction. On my arrival in England, I addressed a memorial to the East-India Company, a copy of which by the advice of Mr. Buckingham was intrusted to Mr. K*******. At the next public Court of the East-India Proprietors, the Hon. Chairman, Mr. Marjoribanks, intimated that the feeling of the Directors was that I had suffered wrong, and that if the matter were left to them they would endeavour to do me justice. Mr. K******* then and there gave a public pledge, that if the Directors did so, he, as a proprietor, would not interfere, and this was the understanding on both sides of the Court. The Directors accordingly awarded me £1,500 of compensation for my losses and sufferings. This came in the usual course of business for the approval of the Proprietors, when, strange to tell! the Hon. D****** K******* stood up within the very same walls which had heard his pledge, and conjured up every topic of party irritation and violence that was likely to create division, and to disturb the confirmation of the grant. It was nevertheless confirmed unanimously, with the exception of his solitary verbal protest, against the grounds on which it was given. He wished to prove that redress could not be given me on any other grounds than those, which would have afforded it also to his friend Mr. Buckingham, whose claim was rejected; yet he knew the cases were totally different and dissimilar. Though aided and egged on by Mr. Buckingham to this, he failed in his attempt, which if successful would have condemned me to poverty, or at least deprived me of the proud testimonial which the unanimous decision of a great public body in my favour affords. I reproached him with his inconsistent conduct, and since that period he and his friend Mr. Buckingham have been using every means to ruin me. They hate me for having discovered their want of principle, and having spoken the truth to and of them; because I obtained justice in spite of their treacherous opposition, and because their case was decided to be not so well founded as mine; so that all their addresses and petitions for money from the same body having failed, they were at last reduced to beg petty subscriptions from public charity.

When I had obtained my just redress, they endeavoured however to benefit by it. Mr. Buckingham knew that on my first leaving Bengal, the inhabitants, his friends among the number, had offered me a present of £500 to defray my charges to England: a voluntary testimonial of their approbation and sympathy quite unsolicited on my part, of which I shall retain a grateful recollection till my dying day. I applied part of the money to the object for which it was given, and it of course perished in the general shipwreck of my property by the burning of the Fame, from which Sir Stamford Raffles, myself, and others, narrowly escaped with our lives. (This too I suffered for Mr. Buckingham.) The rest of the sum I presented to a philanthropic institution in Calcutta. Mr. Buckingham now claimed more than half of it as belonging to him! And this claim he referred to the Hon. D****** K*******!!! Mr. B. first pretended that the part of the money contributed by his friends was a loan advanced me on his account! Then, that it was actually entered in his Agent's books against him. I challenged him to prove either the one or the other. We both applied to his agent, Mr. J. C. C. Sutherland, of the house of Alexander and Co., who happened to be in England; who wrote in reply, there was no such entry in Mr. Buckingham's account! and he told me personally, that he never heard of my asking or receiving a loan from their house. Mr. K******* can produce this letter if he chooses!!!

In support of this claim, seeing no other mode left, Mr. Buckingham drew up a long paper; depreciating and vilifying every part of my conduct from the first moment of our connection. Almost every line of it was untrue, as I can prove by the evidence of every honest man who knows the facts. It was intended, I believe, to send this romance to India with a string of signatures, without my knowing any thing about it, but for the honesty of a gentleman who would not lend himself to such a proceeding. It thus came to my knowledge -- when I refuted every part of it that deserved refuting. Mr. K******* however, seems to have taken it for true gospel, and is reported to have consequently sent out his single opinion in a letter, which he will yet be sorry for.

The Editor of the Weekly Review admits that he was deceived in this same manner by a series of specious statements, which he now discovers to be entirely false. Mr. K*******, who seems determined to have the honour of being the last of the 'Dupes,' may believe that I landed in India a beggar -- that Mr. Buckingham relieved me from great distress -- that on leaving it I borrowed three hundred pounds from his Agents -- that on my arrival in England he treated me kindly and relieved my necessities, and that I at last (without any reason whatever) turned round and called him a villain! This is B.'s story, and there is not a word of truth in it. The truth is, I went to India much richer than he did, having above £1,000 of ready cash of my own before I left England, as I can prove by the statement of my agent in Edinburgh, W. Walker, Esq., Writer to the Signet. And Mr. B. never lent or made me a present of a shilling in his life, to the best of my recollection and belief. When I first gave him my aid, I neglected much more lucrative prospects, by following which I might have been now as much richer as I am poorer than him to-day. He found me, therefore, in easy circumstances; and left me destitute. He found me full of youth, and health, and hope, he left me poor and friendless -- broken down by long persecution and misfortune, all brought upon me by my attachment to him; and then, when I was reduced to uncertainty as to the means of earning my daily bread, he tried to deprive me unjustly of what he owed me, to the extent of fifty pounds. After I would not submit to this cruelty and injustice, he boasts that he depicted me so as to make people regard me with "horror and disgust."* [See his Athenaeum.] Here be gratitude with a witness!!! The above is confirmed by the following decision of Mr. John Hunt, formerly Editor of the Examiner, and Mr. A. St. John, now Editor of the London Weekly Review. On an agreement signed by Mr. B. and myself, showing that the matter referred was my claim for redress for his having inveigled me into his publishing concern in Bond Street, they write their decision as follows: --

Messrs. Hunt and St. John, having consulted together on the matters to which the above agreement refers, have decided, that the sum of fifty pounds should be paid by Mr. Buckingham to Mr. Arnot as a compensation for the loss he has incurred."

(Signed) 1st June, 1826,


This, with the above recorded decision of Col. Stanhope, Mr. Buckingham's own friend and arbiter, will shew whether the Editor of the Weekly Review, the Editor of the Examiner, and every body thought me entirely in the wrong, as Mr. Buckingham asserts. Such is a specimen of my reasons for changing my opinion of him; and if you or any gentleman of character will say they are not sufficient, I will furnish you with others equally well authenticated.

I am, Sir,

Your most obedient humble servant,


23, Leicester Square, 16th April, 1828.

P.S. -- I beg to add that the above facts are drawn from Mr. Buckingham's printed and published statements, as, even in self-defence, I would not wish to avail myself of any private knowledge of his accounts to his prejudice, if my situation had afforded me an opportunity of having it, which it did not (this being a subject over which mystery -- dark brooding mystery! ever hung) as appears by the following extract from his printed rules and regulations --

"On the accounts of the month being made up by Mr. Heckford, and examined and revised by Mr. Sandys, but by no other person, &c. &c."

Wishing to derive no benefit from anyone's good opinion further than is just, I shall here also notice that Mr. Buckingham's arbiter and friend blamed me for one thing, and one only -- for pressing my reference till I got a written decision. I did so as the only means of stopping the floodgates of calumny, which I knew would be let loose the moment I discovered his baseness; and I would advise every one connected with Mr. B. never to part with him long without a written acknowledgment that may put a curb on his fatal talent of invention.

2. -- So averse have I been from publicly attacking Mr. Buckingham, that I have for years past rather suffered under his calumnies than exposed them and their author, good-naturedly listening to the intreaties of his friends, who represented how much a common cause would suffer if our quarrels became known, and begged me to believe that though many things, particularly his conduct to myself, were too bad, some were capable of being explained. As -- in giving vent to my indignation I might have also used some expressions that gave the matter too high a colouring, I was willing to make full reparation for any shade of injustice done even in self-defence. "In taking revenge," said the Hon. Col. Stanhope -- (I quote the M.S.) "a man is but even with his enemy: in passing it over he is superior." I made this exertion of magnanimity, and agreed to bury my wrongs in oblivion. But I have just learnt by letters from India, that my good-nature in listening to such advice has been made use of for a treacherous purpose, that I might be depicted to my friends abroad, as a wretch, every thing false, base, and abject. But the day of retribution will arrive, when those who pervert a man's virtues into crimes (and what greater virtue is there than charity and forgiveness of injuries?) will receive their reward, and the public will perhaps learn, like me, never again to trust to the honour or judgment of any man who is, or professes to be, the 'dupe' of Mr. Buckingham.

Letter of Colonel [Leicester] Stanhope to Ram Mohun Roy

Worthy Philanthropist, Your Memorial to the King of England, demonstrating the usefulness and safety of a free press in British India, and praying for its restoration, I forwarded with a letter, to the Secretary of the Board of Control. He honoured me with a courteous reply, stating that it had been graciously received by his Majesty. This Memorial, considering it as the production of a foreigner, and an Hindoo of this age, displays so much sense, knowledge, argument, and even eloquence, that the friends of liberty have dwelt upon it with wonder; while the monopolists, who would doom one hundred millions of England’s subjects to eternal despotism, unequal to combat with its logic, have denied its authenticity. The advocates for censors and licensers are now in the full sway of their bad power. They are, however, either silenced by their fears, or struck dumb by the reasonings of their antagonists, or reduced to a most lame and impotent defence. What are their arguments? Read the proceedings on the late Appeal before the Privy Council, and you will not find one that has truth or reason to support it. Mr. Bosanquet contended, that “a free press was adapted only to countries, the government of which depended on the good opinion which the people entertained of its justice and wisdom, and the other qualities which belong to good government.” Certainly a free press is not calculated for an unjust, an unwise, or a bad government, which are the characteristics implied by Mr. Bosanquet of our Indian rule. Yet who but the Honourable East India Company’s advocate would maintain such rank immorality? The Directors who attended the debate must have been vexed enough to hear him slide into so imprudent an admission. The Holy Alliance would blush to hear such doctrines. The Holy Inquisition, when it reigned in all its glory at Goa, never supported any thing so diabolical. If a demon were sent on earth to seek out some crime for which a nation was to be condemned, he could not devise a more frightful one than that of a race of civilized conquerors dooming one hundred millions of their distant and submissive subjects, and their descendants, to eternal misgovernment. “De Lolme,” said Mr. Spankie, “had stated that the establishment of a printing press in Contantinople would, ipso facto, overturn the government.”* [This was an error of the learned Serjeant: De Lolme has stated no such thing. We shall enlarge on this subject hereafter. – Ed.] No doubt: but does Mr. Spankie mean to compare Lord Amherst to a Sultan -- Censor Adam to his Vizier -- our Collectors and Judges to Bashaws -- our Sepoys to Janissaries, and one hundred millions of English subjects to Turkish slaves? And if he does, can any statesman, Tory or Whig, wish to perpetuate such a system? "The liberty of the press and a free government," said Mr. Spankie, "might amalgamate together; but if it were united with an absolute government, it would speedily mildew and destroy its brother." What does Mr. Spankie mean by free and absolute governments? There are degrees in both these systems of rule. England is less free than America; for, according to Mr. Spankie, though she admits of no slavery at home, she has nothing but slaves in Hindoostan. France is less despotic than Austria, and Austria less despotic than Turkey. Prussia is a despotism -- but still under Frederick the Great she enjoyed great liberty of discussion. Our slave colonies are despotisms -- but they have their constitutions, laws, and free presses, India, too, is called a despotism; but the press was free to licentiousness, in the dangerous times of Warren Hastings; and, according to Mr. Spankie, during Lord Hastings's administration.

This advocate was not, however, satisfied with simple despotism, such as it prevailed in Prussia, or even in our slave colonies. He was for a despotism more unlimited than that which existed in the time when Burke told the Parliament, that the British rule in India was the most galling tyranny that had ever existed on the face of the globe; and that her protection was worse than all the irruptions of the Tartars and the Arabs.

"A cargo of European clothing," observed Lawyer Bosanquet, "would no more fit the persons, than our laws and maxims would suit the moral, political, and religious opinions of the people of India;" notwithstanding that all the Sepoys are clothed in garments made in and sent out from England. Mr. Bosanquet seems to think that the natives of Hindoostan are a curious race of animals -- a species of ouran-outangs, somewhat resembling man, but inferior to him in form and reason; and hence he would domineer over them as herdsmen do over the brutes of the field. If we speak of curious races, however, where is there, after all, to be found an animal less like a man than your English lawyer, with his legal reason, and his artificial reason,* [Vide Lord Coke, 12th Report.] his rusty stuff-gown, and his dusty ridiculous wig? These are the only human beings who do not in all things admit the pre-eminence of reason, founded, not in law, but in truth; and whom no clothes will fit but silk gowns or robes of ermine.

Mr. Bosanquet asserts, that "not a single step can be taken in India without hazard and peril;" and, according to Mr. Spankie, "we could not induce the people to feel an affection for our Government, nor to rise to take up arms in its defence. The only thing we could hope," said he, "was to prevent them from taking arms against us." This is a most melancholy prospect. It must be evident, indeed, to all men, that no structure ever rested upon a worse foundation. It is like those modern metropolitan houses of ours that are built to stand for a few years, and then to overwhelm their inhabitants in their ruins. The sooner we change a course so replete with weakness and danger, and follow Lord Hastings's wise steps, the better; for there can be no root to any government but in the good will and good opinion of the people. "And the surest way," as Lord Bacon has it, "to prevent seditions is, to take away the matter of them; for if there be fuel prepared, it is hard to say whence the spark shall come that shall set it all on fire."

You will rejoice to learn that the Marquis of Hastings has returned from Malta to England. All who know his gallant spirit and high honour anticipate good from this event. Rest assured that no paltry motive of private interest, or want of ministerial favour, of going to Ireland or going to India, will prevent this illustrious nobleman from clearing his character and name from the odious slur that has been out upon it by the Court of Directors, and which, though so ably defended by Mr. Kinnaird, Mr. Hume, Mr. Buckingham, Sir J. Doyle, and other liberals, (for these alone stood by him in the hour of trial,) still left many sceptical and prejudiced minds in a state of doubt. Nor will any hope of obtaining power or pension from the Court of Directors prevent this high-minded statesman from manfully defending, in the face of this country and the world, that course which he and Warren Hastings pursued towards the Asiatic press, which long experience has proved so safe and useful, and which he advocated in his answer to the Madras address, in language that will be remembered when his great military triumphs are either forgotten or jumbled together with those of tyrants.

God grant that your Memorial, recommending a free press in India, may be attended to by our good Sovereign. That it will, I have reason to hope, because Mr. Randle Jackson did, on the 4th of April 1821, in the face of the East India Company and the world, insist on Mr. Canning's decided intentions to oppose the renewal of restrictions on the press; a determination quite worthy of the noble character of Mr. Canning's administration.

I am, your sincere friend,

London, June 9, 1825.


-- Leicester Stanhope, The Oriental Herald and Journal of General literature; vol. 6, July to September, 1825, London, Sandford Arnot, 33, Old Bond Street, MDCCCXXV

Having enjoyed the friendship and approbation of the best and greatest men for talents and virtue, in every part of Europe or Asia where I have set my foot -- men who could judge of character, and observed me, as the Hon. Col. Stanhope justly observes, under the most trying circumstances -- I thank God that I can dispense as before with Mr. K*******'s suffrage, as he knows nothing of me except from the tale of a false accuser; and I do not think him a better or a wiser man than Burckhardt, Bankes, Boog, Barker, and Col. Missett, the British Consuls of Egypt and Syria, the Editor and Proprietor of the London Review, who were 'Dupes' before him, and at last came to think, as I did, on longer and more severe experience than possessed by Mr. K******* or any man in England.

Since the above was written, Mr. Buckingham has added one more breach of faith to the list. At the repeated and earnest intreaties of his friends Kinnaird, Stanhope, and Gilchrist, and who, deeming him a useful political instrument, begged of me not to expose his private conduct, I agreed to forgive him, and a treaty of peace was accordingly concluded, under the guarantee of the Editor of the Examiner and Mr. Kinnaird. The conditions of the treaty were, that neither of us should write or publish any attack against the other, or do any thing to bring our differences into public discussion. This being settled, and Mr. Buckingham's own friend and arbiter, Col. Stanhope, having acquitted me of blame, and admitted that his friend B. was wrong, as above shown, I thought it would be only acting handsomely to express regret for having occasionally perhaps spoken of him with undue severity, especially as he complained that I had in my letters to India called him "AN ABANDONED VILLAIN," &c. I do not recollect having used any such expressions, but if I did it certainly was rather an exaggeration, which I could not but regret my imprudence in having committed. Severe as the libel law is, however, Buckingham has never attempted to prove that I had said worse of him than he deserved. He has since printed part of my Letter, to create an impression, that because I did not think him quite "an abandoned villain," I therefore thought him a very good man, and that because part of my information to his prejudice rested on the reports of others, there was not a much larger part resting on surer evidence! The foregoing letter will shew whether I do not know enough independent of hearsay, and whether a simple unimpassioned statement of the facts is not sufficiently damning without the exaggerations of passion. While his revival of the discussion by an attack on me, is a breach of faith to Messrs. Hunt and Kinnaird as well as to myself, of which they have both complained, as proved by letters in my hands, it is an act of folly which Buckingham and his friend will yet bitterly repent, as they have now deprived themselves of all claim to my mercy and forbearance.

Having already quoted the opinion of my conduct expressed by the Hon. Lt.-Col. Stanhope, Mr. Buckingham's own friend and arbitrator in 1826 and 7, I shall here shew that his opinion of me continues unchanged up to the present hour, as appears by the following autograph inscription on a copy of his work presented to me on the 17th of last month (May 1829):

From Leicester Stanhope to Sandford Arnot, who ably wrote and nobly suffered for a Free Press in British India.

And this sufferer has for years been maligned and persecuted by some of its pretended friends, because his heart revolted against such abominable, treacherous, and swindling practices!!!



From the Bengal Hurkaru, January 1st, 1829.

MR. ARNOT has made the John Bull* [The manner in which it found its way there has already been explained.] here the vehicle of a very long communication, the object of which is to represent the man who was once his friend and benefactor ["My friend and benefactor!!!" Say. rather, who professed himself to be so until he had me completely ruined, and then threw off the mask! See pp. 66 and 68.] as AN UNPRINCIPLED SCOUNDREL.* [My object was to represent the facts, when forced to do so, in self-defence; and it these facts prove the assailant to be that -- which it is libel to name -- it is not my fault. I did not make him so: his own heart should be blamed that made him, act as he did.]

Our contemporary takes great credit to himself for giving insertion to this letter, and ascribes it to his love of publicity, which it seems the advocates of a free press have evaded on this occasion. The public will decide that point for themselves. We freely admit that our contemporary has never shown the least reluctance to publish any thing like personal abuse or slander directed against those who are opposed to him in politics. In so far as we are concerned, we have not the least hesitation to state our objections to publicity in this case. We like publicity, we never shrink from the investigation of truth; but we like justice and impartiality also. Above all, we like to hear both sides of a question.* [Therefore they publish this new attack on me, and like Mr. B. without allowing me to be heard in self-defence!]

Our reasons, then, for refraining from occupying our pages with the interminable disputes of Mr. Buckingham and Mr. Arnot, which relate almost exclusively to their own private affairs and engagements, are first, that setting aside the personal character of this controversy; which must render it totally uninteresting to the public, in all that regards transactions in London between Mr. Buckingham and Mr. Arnot, and several other persons, who are neither known by, nor cared for, by anyone here, we have only an exparte statement; while in all that relates to the former discussions here in India about Bankes and Burckhardt et id genus omne [Google translate: and all of that kind], we apprehend every one who ever felt any interest in them, has long since had a surfeit of them. For these reasons we have studiously abstained from any allusion to the subject; nor should we now have noticed it, but for a direct and individual appeal made to us on a matter of fact, to which undoubtedly we can and will speak. We allude to the valuation of the journal property. Before we say our brief say on that subject, however, we feel it incumbent on us to remind our readers that Mr. Arnot was once fully agreed with us on the merits of the Bankes and Burckhardt controversy.* [What had I to do with that? My letter said not a word on the merits of that controversy -- it merely mentioned that these gentlemen had changed their opinion of Mr. Buckingham.] We know that some differed on that subject, but we always considered Mr. Buckingham's defence most complete and triumphant, and so did Mr. Arnot while in this country. Since Mr. Arnot's arrival in England, all that has transpired in reference to this celebrated controversy, which could in any manner touch the merits of it, has been the three verdicts against Bankes junior, Bankes senior, and Murray the bookseller. Those who decided against Mr. Buckingham, might not deem these verdicts sufficient to shake their judgments; but surely it will be conceded by every unbiassed mind that there was nothing in them to weaken the conviction of one who had determined in his favour on the previous evidence, nor does it appear that they produced any such singular effect on Mr. Arnot's mind.* [There were several things to change my opinion. 1st. My subsequent discovery of Mr. B.'s real character, which rendered Messrs. Bankes' and Burckhardt's story extremely probable. 2dly. The powerful evidence produced by Mr. Bankes on the trial -- which, taken in connection with the character of the plaintiff, unknown to the Jury, I could judge of better than they could. 3dly. The amount of damages compared with the pretended amount of injury -- namely, only one-hundredth part.] What then is it that leads him to a discovery, that that which he had upon abundant evidence, and after mature deliberation, pronounced white, was in reality black?* [What sad sophistry! My letter gave no opinion on the subject; but I have now done so for the satisfaction of Mr. Buckingham and his friends.] A personal quarrel about his own individual interests, which had, be its merits what they may, no more bearing upon the case of Bankes and Burckhardt than it had upon the war between the Turks and the Greeks! With this remark we leave the public to judge of the value of Mr. Arnot's newly awakened conviction on the merits of that controversy.

We come now to the fact upon which a direct appeal is made to us. Mr. Arnot charges Mr. Buckingham with having put a false value on his property here, in order to sell it. On that point we will give the public some data on which to form their own judgment. The amount of gross receipts of the Journal in the month in which Mr. Buckingham left India, was in round numbers about Sa. Rs. 14,000 or 15,000;* [Mr. B.'s own printed statement made it only 13,768 rupees for the month of January 1823; and the average of the previous six months only 12,927. If it was 14,000 or 15,000 rupees in March, it must have improved greatly by his removal from its management. (See printed rules for conducting the Calcutta Journal, dated Feb. 1823.)] the bills were farmed, and ten per cent allowed for the risk of collection, leaving a net receipt of about 18,000 rupees; say that 7,000 or 8,000 of this were profit.* [Mr. B. made the profit less than this by one half, viz. only 25 per cent on about 13,000 rupees, or less than 3,500 rupees a month even by the highest estimate. See Prospectus and Statement to purchasers.] Mr. Arnot himself tells us, that the mere dead stock, sold at auction, which he affirms to be the most advantageous mode of selling (have not our readers in their experience found it so?) for £3,000.* [For less than £2,000, according to Mr. Buckingham's own statement. And £3,000 was the highest sum offered for property, copyright, and all, privately or publicly.] The dead stock then sold for so much at auction, the monthly profit being, at the same time, 5,000 sicca rupees per month.* [Here is a parody on the old story of the men in buckram! He drops from 8,000 to 7,000, and then to 5,000. -- A little lower, honest Jack! Twenty-five per cent on 12,927 rupees, the average of six months, was only 3,230 rupees per mensem, equal to 38,760 rupees, or less than £4,000 per annum. Compare this (to say nothing of the mortgage upon it of £3,000 per annum, see p. 15) with Mr. B.'s assertion at p. 49, that his income was £8,000 per annum!] Hence our readers may decide the value for themselves. Mr. Arnot considers six months' purchase a fair valuation of the copyright.* [Was more ever paid for a journal in India? Mr. Buckingham can inform us; for he has been a great jockey in buying and selling papers, both in Calcutta and London.] The copyright of the Morning Chronicle sold, we remember, for £40,000* [The Morning Chronicle and the Calcutta Journal! It is comparing an sere of land in Regent's Park, with an acre on the Swan River! The Hurkaru must think that it has the monopoly of all the fools in India for its readers.] Was that six months' purchase only?

But Mr. Arnot considers six months' purchase ample, because the Journal was "daily liable to suppression." Mr. Arnot forgets that when the shares were sold it was not liable to any such thing.* [I said it was liable to suppression by the banishment of its conductors. Can you deny this?] The licensing law did not pass until after Mr. Buckingham left the country! No law but the law of transmission then endangered the conductors of the Press; and no one knows better than Mr. Arnot, that Mr. Buckingham was so sanguine as to believe that it would never again be exercised.* [Mr. B. may have professed himself so, and I may have believed his professions at that time. I don't do so now. He knew he could cause himself to be removed from his obligations at any time by insulting the Government!] Supposing then there had been free scope for competition, can Mr. Arnot believe that six months' purchase would have been a fair valuation of the property? We at least do not think so.* [I allow two years' purchase on the profits, for copyright, or 24 times 3,230 rupees, which would be only equal to 79,520 rupees, or about £8,000; less by £2,000 than the sum which Mr. Buckingham, having obtained it under a promise to send out its value in goods, quietly pocketed and carried home with him! This is the man, who was robbed, he says, of £40,000 and £8,000 per annum!]

That Mr. Buckingham's property did not fetch its value, he attributes to the want of competition. This Mr. Arnot denies: there was competition he says. For what? for the types and presses and, paper?"* [What else are we disputing about? We had set off £20,000 for the copyright already -- the value Mr. Buckingham himself put on it, being twice or thrice more than enough. There remained £20,000 to be accounted for, of reputed actual tangible property, and for this there was every competition. This therefore should have been proved to be worth another £20,000.] Where was the competition for the copyright? Who was willing to embark capital in a property, which a stroke of a secretary's pen could then annihilate the next day? One individual alone, who was already engaged in the precarious business of a newspaper, the proprietor of this paper; his offer in the actual case was liberal, although Mr. Arnot has not stated its full extent;* [Then why do not you state it? Because it would make against you!] but he never pretended that it would have been any thing like an equivalent for the property. had there been a fair field for competition.

In the sale of the paper, however, if any shareholder were taken in, it was his own fault; there were frequent meetings, and the shareholders had every facility afforded them to examine the accounts.* [Could they examine the property said to be on the seas, worth £10,000? This is the main point!] Mr. Buckingham's banishment, indeed, caused the paper to fall off in circulation? till it did so we apprehend the shareholders touched the promised dividends;* [Did they touch the £10,000? This is the question!] that they afterwards lost by the speculation they may attribute to that system which places Europeans at the mercy of any temporary Governor, and to that system which enables a temporary Governor, with the concurrence of one judge even on the bench, to make a law placing property equally within its power.* [Was the £10,000, said to be on the seas, within its power?]

Would the proprietors of the John Bull think six months' purchase a fair valuation of their copyright?* [Would anyone give them more? Did any paper in India ever fetch so much as xix months' purchase on the gross receipts, with such a charge on it as 75 per cent of current expenditure, or two years' purchase of the net profits?] If so, they may consistently agree with Mr. Arnot that Mr. Buckingham did overvalue his property, though it would still remain to be shewn, whether the act were criminal.* [If there be legal criminality in this case, it is in the £10,000 said to have been on the seas.] If so, either among buyers or sellers, we know of few who have not forfeited their character. With one more observation we take our leave of this subject.

Mr. Arnot alludes to a paper drawn up by Mr. Buckingham to which it would seem he is replying. Why did he not send that paper with his letter, that the public of India might have both sides of the question before them. We feel that we have dwelt on this subject at greater length than will be agreeable to many of our readers; but we are not likely to trouble them again about it.

On the absurdity of inferring or contending that the individual conduct of Mr. Buckingham, or Mr. Arnot, or Mr. Anybody else can at all weaken the force of the arguments in favour of a free press, we shall not insult the understandings of our readers by offering any remark. It might as well be argued that because a divine affords in his conduct an example of envy, hatred, and uncharitableness, therefore the Christian religion does not inculcate peace and the forgiveness of injuries!


Reply printed in the Calcutta John Bull of next Day.

Mr. BULL: -- Mr. Arnot's statement, which you published in Wednesday's Bull, has proved rather an unpalatable pill to the Hurkaru, who is pleased to ring the changes upon 'the personal abuse,' and 'slander,' and 'malignancy,' of the John Bull! Heaven save the mark! Cannot you, sir, allow a poor unfortunate ill-used gentleman to tell his tale, and publish his defence against his accusers, without being twitted about a "Divine" affording "an example of envy, and hatred, and uncharitableness," and "the Christian religion," inculcating "peace and forgiveness of enemies?" What has all this rigmarole to do with the charge of Arnot, that Buckingham sold the value of £10,000 in books* [Types, presses, paper, books, *c. See extract from Statement to the Purchasers, Notarial Documents, page 1st, corroborated by Contract of Sale, p. 2d,. shewing that this £10,000 was held out as the security on which the shares taken were to be held.] coming from Richardson in 1822, and paid for by a draft on Fletcher and Alexander -- which books Richardson told Arnot he never sent -- and which property, at the public sale of the Journal and all its appurtenances, was not forthcoming? "The whole," says Arnot, "including types, presses, and books, sold for less than £3,000" -- and on this conclusive fact the editor of the Hurkaru leaves Arnot in full possession of the field. The discovery of this fraud, says Arnot, "was one of the reasons why I changed my opinion of Buckingham." Was it not a good one? And pray, when the tale of the books from Richardson fell to the ground, how could the tale told by Buckingham in the Bankes and Burckhardt controversy fail to fall with it, in the mind and belief of Arnot? It owed all its solidity to a persuasion of the narrator's veracity. Take that away, and it vanishes as "the baseless fabric of a vision." From this moment Arnot escaped from among the "dupes" where your cotemporary seems proud yet to take his place -- or rather, more properly speaking, I verily believe, to figure away the only "dupe" left on this side of the Cape. When Buckingham was discovered, during the row, to have had the original of a paper in his possession, of which he publicly declared he could never obtain the sight of even a copy, the people here changed their opinion of him. Has not Arnot the same right, on making a similar discovery, in regard to the £10,000 worth of books? I maintain he has; and that the remarks on this gentleman's conduct by the editor of the Hurkaru are altogether unmerited by his old friend and coadjutor.


Calcutta, 1st January.




THIS apology is of great importance, as it comes from those who had the best possible means of knowing the facts of the case, and the strongest possible motive to justify their client, if it were practicable to do so. That they have made so lame a defence, therefore, is a conclusive proof that nothing better could be offered.

The paper in which it appeared (the Bengal Hurkaru) has, as well known, long depended on the support of certain merchants in Calcutta, some of the principal of whom were personally concerned with Mr. Buckingham in the Calcutta Journal. Hence the worthy editor of the Hurkaru, owing to this and his own pecuniary circumstances, is compelled, I am informed, to submit whatever he writes and publishes to the previous censorship of one of the members of the respectable house of Alexander and Co., the agents of Mr. Buckingham. This must therefore be considered as their defence of their client, in whose conduct they fear that their own character will be considered as implicated; because be made use of their name, and that of their highly esteemed correspondents in London, as a guarantee for the truth of the statements in his prospectus. The money raised on the faith of these statements, and carried to England, coming afterwards of course into the hands of his bankers, Messrs. Ransom and Co., the Hon. Douglas Kinnaird, as a member of that firm, is mightily afraid lest the public should reproach him with the fingering of money so obtained. These powerful and opulent houses, with their numerous connexions, may therefore think they have a common interest in denouncing as every thing bad any person who dares to state the facts which I have stated. There are others who may join them in this, from the mistaken idea, which they do not scruple to avow, that it is of little importance to them what a man's private character for honesty may be, so long as they can employ him as an instrument to accomplish their public objects. They even think such a man, who will never stick at a bold assertion when it suits their purpose, more useful than another who is more scrupulously conscientious. They call this "doing a little evil to effect a great good."
Now, admitting that their intentions are well meant, I doubt greatly the wisdom of their measures; because I have lived long enough to see the reverse proved by experience. The experiment of supporting such a man has been tried; every means have been used, by the combination of wealth, influence, and talent, to prop up his character -- and the attempt has most signally failed -- and in the failure every public object which it was hoped to serve has most lamentably suffered. Let us not any longer therefore expect a bad tree to produce good fruit -- or the same fountain to yield bitter waters and sweet.

As the editor of the Hurkaru still makes it a matter of reproach to me that I entertain an opinion after a trial, which I did not express before it, I am reluctantly compelled to state my reasons for that change. It is a principle of English law as well as of justice, to suppose every man innocent until you have proof to the contrary: in this charitable manner I judged of Mr. Buckingham. But when the trial took place, we had such evidence as the following, which I reluctantly quote.

Mr. Beechey authenticated extracts of letters from Mr. Burckhardt's hands, dated 28th June and 26th July 1816, and 28th March 1817, stating that plaintiff was "the most barefaced and impudent impostor and swindler I have ever met with; and shall say as much to himself; and therefore I have no objection to your saying I have ceased to be his friend. -- As to what regards my own opinion of Buckingham, it remains unaltered: his late proceedings towards his employer have made him forfeit the least title to my esteem. I have not had any news from Syria for some time. Mr. Buckingham has gone from thence to Persia, having given a complete slip to his employers." -- See Report of Trial in Orient. Herald, Courier, &c.

To this, having already given Mr. Buckingham's account of the summing up of the learned Judge, as modified by Mr. B. or his reporter, I shall add a summary, in the leader of the "New Times" of Oct. 1st, 1826, and which, though from some political partizan, appears to me a very fair statement of the evidence, and totally free from party violence. From this the reader may judge whether there was any grounds to alter my opinion on that case.

New Times, Oct. 21st, 1820.

"The gains of some men are losses: and such, we cannot help thinking, was the verdict which Mr. Buckingham obtained in the trial which we reported yesterday. The alleged fraud of which Mr. Bankes accused him, consisted of circumstances, many of which could scarcely be known to any person except Mr. Bankes and Mr. Buckingham. These it was of course impossible for Mr. Bankes to establish by legal evidence, and consequently Mr. Buckingham was entitled to a verdict. The disclosure, however, which the trial produced, was of a kind which few men would court.

Among other things, it was clearly proved that Mr. Buckingham had not performed the duty for which he was hired by those merchants who employed him (a duty, by the bye, altogether inconsistent with antiquarian perambulations); that it was only by Mr. Bankes's good-nature and indulgence that Mr. Birmingham was enabled to make the journey to Djerask, out of which the dispute arose; that Mr. Bankes paid the whole of the expenses, though Mr. Buckingham asserted that he paid half; -- that many of the engravings contained in Mr. Buckingham's book were copies of old French prints; -- and that, in the judgment of the most reputable witnesses, the plan of Djerask, published by Mr. Buckingham, was taken from that of Mr. Bankes; it was positively sworn to that Buckingham, when he was permitted to enjoy the advantage of accompanying Mr. Bankes, expressly promised not to make drawings or to take notes. Under such circumstances, a man treated as Mr. Bankes has been, if he had had the rules of evidence and special pleading before his eyes, would not have written in the very words which that gentleman used. But was it surprising that a man of honour, accustomed to live with men of honour, should forget the petty dictates of legal prudence, and give vent to the feelings of well-merited indignation?

Mr. Buckingham's counsel prevented by technical objection evidence being given of the opinion entertained of that gentleman's character by those in Syria who had the best means of judging of him. Whether that opinion would have been much to his honour we may infer, partly from his eagerness to suppress it, and partly from the extracts from Burckhardt's letters which were given in evidence.

"The devil, however, should have his due;" and it is therefore but right even that Mr. Buckingham should get a verdict, if one syllable is breathed against him which cannot be proved by legal evidence. But the legal result does not improve the moral quality of Mr. Buckingham's  conduct, respecting which, whatever doubts may have existed before, none we think can exist now."
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AN additional reason for changing my opinion of the "learned Traveller and Divine," 'was his deceitful and unfeeling conduct to his friend Mr. St. John, who by his splendid talents mainly contributed to establish Mr. B.' s Oriental Herald, and raise it into notice as a literary work -- a distinction which it has now long since lost. When after three or four years of incessant labour, on a salary insufficient for the subsistence of himself and family without running into debt, Mr. St. John had fully established the Literary Character of the work, thereby securing to Mr. B. by his own account, a prospect of a permanent income of from one to two thousand per annum, on Mr. St. John's constitution almost sinking under the exertion, the following was Mr. B.'s treatment of him, as described by Mr. St. John himself in the London Weekly Review. -- The mention of my name in the same, as will be observed, was the cause of Mr. B.'s attack on me.

"Every observing person must be struck with the fact that, after a while, Mr. Buckingham's friends almost always become his enemies. Some take more, others less, time in undergoing the change; but sooner or later the change is sure to take place. One man after another becomes acquainted with him -- admires him -- befriends him -- speaks well of him -- and then

A change comes o'er the spirit of his dream;

he discovers something in Mr. Buckingham which surprises and disgusts him; then follows relaxed intercourse, then coldness, then enmity -- for 'to this complexion it must come at last.' There is some moral mystery in this -- some problem in human nature yet to be solved. But such is the case. Mr. St. John's change of opinion is by no means singular; Mr. Burckhardt, the celebrated traveller, Mr. Bankes, Mr. Barker, British Consul at Aleppo, Mr. Boog, Mr. Lee, Col. Missett, Mr. Arnot -- once his friends, changed their opinion of him, and were at length compelled (many of them, at least,) to regard him with extreme aversion. How happens it that these gentlemen, every one of whom had the fullest opportunity of forming a correct judgment of his character at various periods of his life, all came at length to the same conclusion? -- Were all these mistaken? How did it come to pass that he thought at one time so highly of these several individuals, and then suddenly, when they ceased to think well of him, discovered their opinion of character to be of no value? No one, who knows Mr. Buckingham, and his inordinate fondness for money, will believe for a moment that any thing but self-Interest could have induced him to engage the assistance of any one whatever. He discovered, or imagined, that Mr. St. John had talents which he could turn to his account, as also that from extreme carelessness, or stoicism, or what you please, he cared little to grasp at money. This was just what he wanted. He offered him £150 a year, and a sixth share of the profits, to assist in editing the Oriental Herald; or a percentage upon the whole amount of the receipts. Mr. St. John preferred the £150 and the sixth. The former he received; the latter he has not heard of to this day! That this was exactly the state of the case, Mr. Arnot, who is neither dead nor out of the country, and by whom the same conditions were accepted, will no doubt testify on oath. Now for the real balance of pecuniary obligation, which Mr. Buckingham represents to be so much in his favour. By comparing together the two contradictory statements of his (which we have under his own hand), it appears that, with Mr. St. John's assistance, the Oriental Herald had been raised, before the end of the year 1826, to produce a profit of about £1800 per annum; one-sixth of that sum, justly due to him, for three years and a half, would amount to £500. To which let Mr. Buckingham add what he owes his old friend for correcting the MS. of his book of Travels, and writing the better portion of the Notes; and assisting him in keeping the letters of his quotations from the learned languages from being printed upside down, when this 'learned Theban' was actually unable to tell whether or not the right end of the characters was uppermost!!" -- London Weekly Review, April 12th, 1828.

Mr. St. John proceeds to state, that the result of the above magnificent promises which were made to him for such signal services, was, that the "learned Theban" and "grateful Traveller" took advantage of the first temporary illness to dock the sum of £1. 13s. 4d. from his sick friend's salary; and soon afterwards, on finding that he could get on without Mr. St. John's further aid, "set about contriving how to get rid of his friend;" and that for this purpose "he feigned to be overtaken by some sudden calamity, which would immediately deprive him, he said, of the power of carrying on his work." This purpose being served, the work has gone on ever since; and it is added, that this "poor man, who had a short time before represented himself as without a shilling, and had got rid of his friend from unavoidable necessity," now told him and his friend (Captain D. L. Richardson, of the Bengal army) in a peculiarly boasting tone, "that he too (Mr. B.) had his four or five thousand pounds to throw away as well as other people. In proof of this, he soon after started three or four more publications -- weekly, twice weekly, and daily. This was long after his public subscription, which the same authorities (Messrs. Richardson and St. John) state Mr. B. once estimated at £4,000 to them in private, and "publicly at £10,000." He who can thus sport with facts, can be at no loss to make a plausible story, highly satisfactory to those who believe it. "His statements (these gentlemen conclude) are a mere tissue of crafty misrepresentations, mixed up only with such a slender portion of truth as is sufficient to render them mischievous, by deluding those ignorant of his real character." The reader will judge for himself, whether the statement of these facts, which by the attack it produced on me, led to the publication of my defence and of these pages, did not afford additional grounds for the opinions therein expressed.



From what has been stated, the reader can perceive how freely Mr. B. is prepared to avail himself of the traveller's privilege of dealing in the marvellous. Add to this a remarkable plausibility of manner and fluency of speech; and you have the true character of him, so admirably depicted by Mr. Barker, the British Consul of Aleppo, more than twelve years ago, and which the events that have since occurred have so completely verified: "As Johnson said of his friend Savage, he rarely finds a stranger whom he does not leave a friend; but he never had a friend long who did not wish to become a stranger." With such qualifications for enacting the part of an itinerant orator, it was to be expected that Mr. B. should have a considerable degree of success in the new character which he has now assumed. Formerly, when his character was discovered in Egypt, he removed to India -- when it began to be known there, he fortunately got himself removed to England. Now when the literary men of London have learnt to appreciate his conduct, and his "Evening Chronicles," Atheneums, Sphynxes, Arguses, and such like "nine days' wonders" could no longer impose upon them, he showed his usual art in changing his mode of attack on public credulity. And as, whether he commenced a paper or abandoned it, made it dearer or cheaper, morning or evening, once or twice a week, the motive assigned was always the public good; so now, such is his veritable motive -- not that of putting five shillings into his pocket for every fool he can find throughout the country.

His last shift, his public lectures on the eastern world, deserve a concluding remark. I was once in hopes that these would be productive of some good, by exciting attention towards Indian affairs. That he would stir heaven and earth to do this I felt assured; as the more auditors the more "crowns" -- (not of martyrdom!) The degree of success he has met with in this, has not, however, been without the usual alloy of evil; as partly to create greater interest, and partly to vent his spleen against the East-India Company, he has drawn pictures so exaggerated, that while they have dazzled the multitude of ignorant believers, they have lowered his credit with persons who really know India.

As an example how this may be done: -- There is I am told in the Edinburgh Museum some specimens of earth, labelled 'Species of clay eaten by the natives and country-borns, in the East-Indies, presented by Miss Tytler of Mongheer." A gentleman born in India, who had lived long near that place, without ever hearing of such a thing, was struck with astonishment at meeting this piece of information, for the first time in Scotland; but, on more minute inquiry, found that children, and others of a certain morbid appetite, are fond of chewing this species of clay, just as similar individuals in England pick chalk from the walls, &c. It is easy for any ingenious man to collect facts like this, and say to an audience ignorant of India -- "See what a miserable country! One part of the people Jae forced to eat clay, and others to subsist upon the grains picked from the excrement of cattle!* [Mr. Buckingham's Lecture!]. The revenue arises from or is employed to hire prostitutes at the temples of idols; the public officers to collect pilgrims together for destruction under the wheels of Juggernaut -- the people are not half clothed, and some go stark naked about the streets -- the women are imprisoned for life in the houses of their male relations, -- drowned at the confluence of the Ganges and Jumna, or burned on the funeral piles of their husbands; -- the aged men are suffocated with mud thrust into their mouths on the banks of the Ganges -- the young men go about with hoops or ropes pulled through their flesh, and iron skewers thrust through their tongues, or swing aloft suspended by hooks fixed in their backs -- while many live by carrying "fat" Europeans on their backs like horses, &c. &c.

In this country, where there are so many thousands who do not know how to get rid of their time and money, such a woeful and wonderful picture of misery must attract attention. And many, instead of amusing an idle hour with looking at the "learned cats," and the "calculating pig," will no doubt prefer listening to the no less "learned" Eastern traveller. In this there would be no harm; but, unfortunately, in the crowd there come a few who really know India, and every misstatement and distorted fact excites in their mind a degree of disgust and indignation; which, when collected, and acting upon the British government, will create a feeling of aversion and distrust towards all the advocates of reform, as mere quacks and impostors. And thus, as in every former instance, the delusions practised on the public will end in disappointment and injury, after exciting a certain idle curiosity and clamour, and putting a certain number of "crowns" into the pocket of tile performer, who now aims at something more substantial than the hopes of a crown of martyrdom, which may have at first drawn him into the pulpit to lecture in a holier cause.

There are miseries enough in India, heaven knows: in what country are there not? But are such the evils which Great Britain should first attempt to cure? There are many defects in its system of government, and, as Sir Charles Forbes justly observed in the House of Commons, in all systems of government. Whether there be fewer in that of India, as this wise and benevolent man supposes, than in almost any other, I, with much shorter experience of the country than he enjoyed, would not venture to pronounce. The experiment of governing a hundred millions of Asiatics by a handful of European civil and military officers, who are but imperfectly acquainted with their subjects, is so novel and extraordinary, that it would not be surprising if this government contained greater and more numerous defects than any other. But what parts of the system require first to be amended, and how or by what means it is to be effected with safety and probability of success, by substituting something better, are questions that will require the grave and deep consideration of all the philosophy and virtue of a great people. If, instead of this, means be used to call the principles of avarice and ambition into action -- if it is to be merely a scramble for patronage, or a general grasping at the supposed inexhaustible mines of wealth to be found in the East -- we may have many changes without one improvement, but with the very reverse. And little will be gained, much will be lost, by hiring such men as Mr. Buckingham to make peregrinations through the country, like "Peter the Hermit," or his antipodes Carlile and Taylor, who are now engaged in a similar way, to work upon what the Morning Chronicle calls the "beastly ignorance" of the British public, to whom it may well be said: "If ye would not do justice to your Christian brethren in Ireland, whom ye have seen -- will ye do justice to the swarthy and unchristian natives of the East, whom ye have not seen!" Of such advocates, with the fate of the cause of the Indian Press before their eyes, the people of India may well say: --

Non tali auxilio; non defensoribus istis. [Google translate: It is not for such aid; The defenders were not there.]

The professions of false friends will end as hitherto, by loading them with heavier fetters; the pretended efforts for the deliverance of India, will terminate as before, by fixing additional links to its chain. And the very persons who work its ruin to fill their own pockets, will, with unblushing effrontery, still call themselves its "friends and benefactors;" just as Cobbett sticks up his gridiron, the emblem of his false prophecies, in the face of insulted common sense and the people of England, as a trophy of victory! Every delusion, distorted fact, and mis-statement, scattered over the country regarding India, by those who have no respect for truth, can only tend farther to mislead men's minds from a just conception of its true situation, and the real means of benefitting it. Whoever, by inflaming the passions and cupidity of the public, is unprincipled enough to convert the question of Indian legislation into a mere struggle between the merchants of London or Liverpool, and the merchants of Leadenhall-street, for the profits of trade and tea; and between the patronage of the Directors and the patronage of the Minister, for the advantage of ruling India, will doubtless find his account in serving either of these powerful parties. In this disgraceful struggle, if such is to be its character, what hope is there for the people of India? what regard will be paid to their rights and interests? Will the new candidates for the participation of power and profit, be more disposed to grant the Hindoo a share in self-government? To lessen the public burdens by resigning to the people a larger part of their much-coveted wealth? To improve the judicial system by introducing a superior code of laws, by employing abler public officers, or by entrusting more to qualified native hands? To extend education, and enable them to protect themselves and property from the encroachments of their now more numerous European masters? Unless these, and objects such as these, be secured by the changes recommended, they are mischievous quackeries and delusion, contrived to dazzle and deceive the public, and veil secret plans of grasping at power and plunder, which every conscientious friend of India ought to expose and reprobate.

Of these subjects I shall shortly treat more at length, and shall only observe in conclusion, that as in this publication, which has been elicited by an imperative sense of duty, I can have no interest but that of the public in view (since it can afford neither pleasure nor profit to anyone to provoke a political "adventurer" to brand him with his "gridiron"), so I have endeavoured to avoid any reflection on personal or private and domestic character, and to confine myself to facts which have a strict reference to the public cause. Beyond this, which is the property of the public, I have no desire to intrude; and as the worst public characters have been endowed with great social and domestic private virtues, I would not, in this case, so much as insinuate the contrary, to wound the feelings of a human being, even for a moment. However, to refute one of Mr. B.'s calumnies against myself, as to my account of the style in which he lived alluded to above (p. 61), at the period he meanly and avariciously assumed the profession of a public beggar, and pretended to be reduced to such distress, as to be under the necessity of turning his back on his friends who had stood by him at every risk, I feel called on to copy the following exquisite morceau, from an anonymous advertisement of the house in which he lived, to which he was evidently ashamed to put his name, lest an indignant public should ask, "is this the house of a beggar?" And it will be observed that he left this house of £500 per annum some time afterwards, not from need, but from "circumstances requiring his presence in another quarter." As he affects to call himself another "Peter the Hermit," this may not inappropriately be entitled


DESCRIPTION of the "OBSCURE LODGINGS in the skirts of London," to which "Peter the Hermit" 'the ruined man was obliged to retire, to drink "the crystal stream," while soliciting subscriptions from public charity, by advertisements pasted up all over London, like Hunt's or Warren's Blacking-Boards, saying that the smallest sum would be acceptable. -- From his own pen.

[Oriental Herald Advertiser of Aug. 1826, p. 21.]

"A most desirable Family House at Grove End Road, St. John's Wood, seated in a peculiarly healthy spot, standing on ground of such general elevation as to admit a view of Windsor Castle from the immediate neighbourhood, within a mile and a half of Hampstead across the fields, close to Lord's Cricket-ground, at a distance of less than ten minutes' walk from the Regent's Park, near to the Edgeware and Kilburn road, and the line of the Maida Hill and Paddington stages, and within little more than a mile of Hyde Park and the principal western squares.

The premises stand on a large piece of ground laid out in ornamental lawn and shrubbery around the building, which is approached by a carriage entrance, within folding doors, and gravel walk, the whole enclosed by high brick walls, well covered with choice fruit trees in full bearing.

The interior accommodations of the house are excellent. The ground floor contains large and convenient offices, kitchen, servants' hall, butler's pantry, larger store-rooms, and spacious cellaring, with every domestic requisite for a complete establishment. The first floor, to which there is an ascent from the garden by a flight of stone steps with iron rails on each front of the house, and a covered portico at the principal entrance, making it at once light, dry, and airy, contains a handsome entrance hall with outer and inner folding glass doors; a lofty dining-room 21 feet in length; an enviably quiet and secluded library, 14 feet square, looking out on the shrubbery and lawn; and two lofty drawing-rooms communicating by folding doors, commanding a view on each front, and extending nearly 40 feet in length. The second floor contains four spacious and cheerful bed-rooms, with dressing-room and closet; and on the third floor are two attics.

The dwelling was erected little more than two years ago by a gentleman of fortune for his own private residence, and was constructed with corresponding solidity and comfort. It was occupied by him until his death, and was soon after taken by its present tenant, who leaves it only from circumstances requiring his unremitting attendance in another quarter. It is in perfect repair, well-lighted and watered, and not requiring the expenditure of a single shilling to fit it for the immediate reception of any family desiring a retired, detached, and comfortable residence within a short distance of town.

The highest annual rent for a short period, and completely furnished, will be £500. The lowest rent for a term of years, and with a corresponding premium for the lease, will be £180 per annum.

Tickets to view, and further particulars, may be known by written or personal application to Messrs. Cheese, Gordon, and Co. 3, Red-Lion-court, Fleet-street, or to Mr. Lo2, at 23, Cornhill."

Memorandum on the above, by his friend and agent and publisher, Mr. Low: "This is the advertisement of Mr. Buckingham's house, 6, Grove End Road, St. John's Wood. (Signed) "W. Low."



[N.B. To show the reader that the foregoing statements are not lightly advanced, I annex authentic copies of Notarial Documents, substantiating every important fact, of which I subjoin a brief analysis.]


Value of the stock of Mr. Buckingham's concern in Calcutta, stated by him when sold in July 1822, to be sicca. rupees 200,000 -- i.e. about £20,000. p. 1.

Value of the same as per sale in November 1824, only sicca rupees 18,287, or less than £2,000 sterling. p. 2.

Letter of Mr. J. S. Buckingham to Mr. S. Arnot, dated Nov. 1823; showing that he entirely approved of Mr. Arnot's conduct in managing his concern in India, and was sensible that the latter was thereby exposing himself to banishment and ruin on his account. p. 2, 3.

Letter of Mr. B. to Mr. A. dated Dec. 1825, offering to announce him as being joint editor of the Oriental Herald, stating that from the advantage it had already derived from his pen, it must be materially benefited by his permanent accession to its strength. pp. 3, 4.



Of Mr. B.'s various contradictory Estimates of the Value of the Oriental Herald, to the various persons whom he wished to take in as Sharers of that Property.

1. Written estimate made by Mr. Buckingham, of the value of the Oriental Herald in the autumn of 1825, delivered to Messrs. Jowett and Mills, its printers, to induce them to purchase shares in the Work: -- Clear annual profit, £2,028. p.4.

2. Printed estimate made by Mr. Buckingham, of do. do., dated October 1825, Of clear annual profit only £853 16s. p. 5.

3. Written estimate of do. in March 1826, in letter to Mr. Arnot. Profit and prospects of profit less than nothing, work about to go down. p. 5, Extract C.

4. Printed estimate in large circular sent to India, dated 1st January 1826, to induce people to purchase shares in the work. "The investment of the small sum required for the purchase of a free copy, would (he then says) be perfectly safe, while the return of interest would be ample." p. 6.

Expense of the literary materials of the work, according to the first of the above four estimates per mensem, £63. p. 4.

Do. of do. by the second of the four, per mensem £125.

Do. of do. per private letter to Mr. Arnot, dated January 1826, offering contract to produce them, £500 per annum, per mensem £41 13s. 4d., or rather £331. 68. 8d., as in this is included £100 per annum for reporting.

Expenses of reporting in a third estimate, p. 5, Extr. C. £20 per mensem, or £240 per annum.

Monthly sale of the work in India by the first estimate, p. 5, 850 copies.

Do. do. by the second do., page 5, -- 750 copies.

Do. do. by large printed circular, p. 5, -- 1,000 copies.


Mr. B. 's announcement in small circular, secretly despatched to be distributed all over India, that he had formed a connection with Messrs. Longman and Co., the greatest publishers in the world, enabling him to supply the eastern world with books, paintings, musical instruments, &c. &c. &c., with such advantages as scarcely any other house in London could supply, p. 6-

Messrs. Longman and Co.'s denial that any suck arrangement with them had ever been concluded. p. 13.-N.B. They do not even deal in paintings, musical instruments, &c.

Mr. St. John's testimony that he knew nothing of the above secret circular being contained in the packets, or enclosed in the larger circulars, which he, and others were asked to address to India.

Letter of Mr. Arnot presented to Mr. Buckingham by John Betts, Esq. of Brompton, and John Nevins, Esq. merchant in the city of London, stating the agreement between him and Mr. Buckingham, confirmed by the latter in their presence, that he, on account of the obligations he was under to the former, should resign tile business of bookselling, with all the advantages of his connections for carrying it on, in favour of Mr. Arnot.

Letter of John Nevins, Esq. merchant in the city of London, confirming the above, and stating that Mr. Buckingham hinted a wish to make a reservation from the above agreement of any wholesale orders of the amount of two or three thousand pounds.

Letter of John Betts, Esq., lately from Bengal, then residing at and proprietor of Montpelier Square at Brompton, in further confirmation of the above agreement.

Statement of Mr. Arnot, attested by the Hon. Col. Stanhope and Dr. J. B. Gilchrist, showing that at a conference held on the subject at the house of the latter, Mr. Buckingham denied the above agreement in toto; and entirely disavowed having ever held out to Mr. Arnot any expectations beyond the monthly sum paid him as a salary for contributions to the work.

Letter of Dr. J. B. Gilchrist, stating that Mr. Arnot had always urged for their decision on the case, and had been reduced to the most poignant distress by Mr. B.'s unfriendly and unfeeling conduct to him in his misfortunes.

Letter from Mr. Hume, the umpire, stating his reasons for not interfering in the matter.

Reference to John Hunt, Esq. of the Examiner, and A. St. John, Esq., then joint editor of the Oriental Herald with Mr. Buckingham, and their decision that the latter should pay Mr. Arnot fifty pounds for his losses by the shop in Bond-street, in which Mr. B. had involved him, and then refused to reimburse him when in need.

Letter of Mr. Hunt, intimating that this sum was not to be considered as discharging the weighty obligations and debt of gratitude due by Mr. B. to Mr. A. arising out of the events which had occurred in consequence of Mr. A. 's connection with him, as submitted to Dr. J. B. Gilchrist and the Hon Col. L. Stanhope.

Letter of the Hon. Leicester Stanhope, acknowledging the liberality and generosity of Mr. Arnot's conduct to Mr. Buckingham.

Letter of Messrs. Rickards, Mackintosh, and Co., showing part of what Mr. Arnot sacrificed (a sum equivalent to above £100 per annum) on consenting to become publisher of the Oriental Herald.

Letter of W. Walker, Esq. W. S., Edinburgh, showing a portion of what Mr. Arnot sacrificed by his adherence to Mr. Buckingham in the cause of the Indian Press, besides all his prospects in life, in return for which, his soi-disant "friend and benefactor" avowed that he did not feel in the least obliged to him.


The sacrifice which received this return having involved the repeated risk of life, and the laceration of every tie of friendship and affection -- to say nothing of the loss of an immediate income equal to £500 per annum, which was in my option if permitted to remain in Bengal, and all the prospects of fortune which that wealthy province presented, most people will probably blame my over-forbearance, in suffering the author of so much mischief to remain so long unpunished by public exposure. There were others, however, connected with him, whom I wished to allow full time to extricate themselves and their cause from his toils, by seasonable warning. As the most devoted of them have since seen their error, and the most blind and credulous are in a fair way of opening their eyes, I am now happily saved the pain of involving many well-meaning men in the disgrace of their quondam associate. Among others the Hon. Douglas Kinnard expressly authorized Mr. Henry Hunt of the Examiner, to inform me, that he considered Mr. B. a fool and a _____; and that if he had written any thing against me for saying so before, it was merely with a view to support him as a political instrument, and not that he knew any thing to the advantage of his private character, or to the prejudice of mine, excepting always Mr. B.'s own story. Perceiving therefore that Mr. K. merely acted under the influence of his deceptions, I freely forgive him for being misled by one who has deceived so many. While closing this sheet another of Mr. Buckingham's great friends, who supported him through thick and thin for many years, Mr. Low his publisher, has volunteered to be the publisher of this Pamphlet, from being satisfied of the correctness of its statements, and of the public duty of warning others against imposition. As these sheets have also been shown to every one in London most conversant with the facts above stated, they appear under the strongest guarantee for their accuracy. No doubt will any longer remain, as to the intrinsic value of that character which is most admired by those who know it least, and most despised by those who know it longest and best.

One of the most remarkable of the latter class, who changed his opinion on long and bitter experience, is Mr. St. John, one of the last but not the least of the sufferers connected with the Indian Press in this country, the sequel of whose history is as follows. When as before shown (at p. 80 supra), with the aid of his great literary talents, the Oriental Herald had been raised, by Mr. B.'s own showing, to the value of £1,800, Mr. St. John having a just right to a sixth share of the work in addition to his small salary, according to agreement, as a reward for his valuable contributions, received advances at various times amounting, in all, to £70, in anticipation of the profits of his share. But when the time for realizing these profits arrived, Mr. B. represented the work as about to stop, and the share consequently as worth nothing. As to the truth of this, the documents now published will enable the reader to judge. Mr. B. has since exacted repayment of the £70, in a manner too painful to be described; and Mr. St. John is in consequence just now, as I learn, from the sufferer, obliged to sell off his furniture, and entirely break up his domestic establishment -- leave that literary circle of which he is so bright an ornament, and remove, with his large family, to linger out his days in a foreign country. So true it is, that the worst acts of worst governments are hardly so tyrannical and fraught with misery as the proceedings of private individuals to each other, conducted, too, very frequently under the guise of friendship, by those professing to be "friends and benefactors."
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Khojah Petrus Arathoon [Khwaja Petrus] [Coja Petrus] [Coja Petruse] [Cojah Petruse], Excerpt from Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to The Present Day: A Work of Original Research
by Mesrovb Jacob Seth
[The Jagat Seths were a Bengali Jain banking family and the title of the eldest son of the family. The family sometimes referred to as the House of Jagat Seth, were a wealthy business, banking and money lender family from Murshidabad, Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, during the time of Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah.]
(Member, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal; Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland; Indian Historical Records Commission; Calcutta Historical Society; Numismatic Society of India; The American Numismatic Association; Bengal Library Association; and Examiner in Classical and Modern Armenian to the University of Calcutta)



-- The Black Hole -- The Question of Holwell's Veracity, by J. H. Little, Bengal, Past & Present, Journal of the Calcutta Historical Society, Vol. XI, Part 1, July-Sept., 1915

-- Full Proceedings of the Black Hole Debate, Bengal, Past & Present, Journal of the Calcutta Historical Society, Vol. XII. Jan – June, 1916

-- Interesting Historical Events, Relative to the Provinces of Bengal, and the Empire of Indostan. With a Seasonable Hint and Persuasive to the Honourable The Court of Directors of the East India Company. As Also The Mythology and Cosmogony, Facts and Festivals of the Gentoo's, followers of the Shastah. And a Dissertation on the Metempsychosis, commonly, though erroneously, called the Pythagorean Doctrine. Part II. By J.Z. Holwell, Esq.

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna

-- Holwell's Religion of Paradise, Excerpt from The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App

Chapter XXVIII: Armenians at Saidabad

Armenians formed their first settlement in Bengal in the year 1665 by virtue of a royal Farman issued by the Mogul Emperor Aurungzebe granting them a piece of land at Saidabad, a suburb of Murshidabad, with full permission to form a settlement there. Murshidabad was at that time the capital of Bengal, the richest province (Subah) of the Mogul Empire, justly styled by Aurungzebe, as the paradise of nations.

Bolts, in his Considerations on India Affairs, published in London in 1782, refers to the Armenian Settlement at Saidabad, as follows: —

"The Armenians, who have ever been a great commercial body in Hindustan, have also long had considerable settlements in Bengal, particularly at Syedabad. Their commerce was likewise established by the Mogul's firman whereby the duties on the two principal articles of their trade, piece-goods and raw silk, were fixed at three-and-a-half per cent."

For a period of about a hundred years since their settlement in that place, there is nothing on record of their activities — social, commercial or political. They were engaged in the peaceful pursuit of commerce, importing and selling piece-goods and exporting raw silk for which the Murshidabad district has always been famous.

By the middle of the 18th century, we find a large number of Armenians residing at Saidabad. The most notable Armenian merchant in the days of Nawab Ali Verdi Khan, the last of the great Nawabs of Bengal, who died in 1756, was Agah Petros, the son of Rev. Nicholas of Julfa. For his probity, urbanity, modesty and piety, he was a great favourite with Ali Verdi Khan, so much so that the nawab's wife used to call him brother and she would receive him and converse with him freely without observing purdah, (veil) contrary to the strict Mohammedan custom of those days. We are told by Thomas Khojamall that the grandees and the noblemen at the court of Nawab Ali Verdi Khan, paid great respect to the Armenian merchant and looked upon him, with great veneration, as a saint for his great piety. We shall have occasion to refer to this humane Armenian again when writing of the sufferings of the English prisoners who were taken to Murshidabad after the tragedy of the "Black Hole" of Calcutta in June 1756.

He died full of years and honours in 1767, and was buried in the Armenian churchyard at Saidabad where his revered grave, with a beautiful marble tombstone, can be seen to this day.

A few words about Ali Verdi Khan, the last of the great Nawabs of Bengal, may not be out of place. He was a stern but a just ruler, dreaded by the Mahratta freebooters, whom he turned out of Bengal. The English who were slowly capturing the trade of the country by peaceful penetration, dreaded him too as can be seen from the following episode. In 1749, an English man-of-war had seized some ships laden with the goods of various Hooghly merchants, Armenian and Mohammedan, and also containing valuable things belonging to the Nawab. Exasperated at the high-handed and unwarranted action of the English, Ali Verdi Khan immediately sent a parwana (order) to the Governor of Fort William, Calcutta, which concluded with the following menace, in which the terrible teeth of the fierce Bengal tiger were ominously visible. He wrote, "as you are not permitted to commit piracies, therefore I now write to you that, on receipt of this, you deliver up all the merchants' goods and effects to them, as also what appertains unto me, otherwise you may be assured a due chastisement in such manner as you least expect." The Council at Calcutta first attempted to pacify the infuriated Nawab by the present of a fine Arab horse, and at the same time contemplated measures of retaliation against the Armenian merchants of Calcutta, whose cause the Nawab had espoused. It soon appeared, however, that Ali Verdi Khan was in earnest and meant what he said, for he stopped the boats which were bringing down their goods, and cut off the supply of provisions at Dacca, reducing the Englishmen of that place to the greatest straits. He then surrounded the English Factory at Cossimbazar with troops, and finally compelled the English to accept the terms which he dictated. The English, the records say "got off after paying to the Nawab, through the Seths* [The Seths, the Rothchilds of India, were rich Indian bankers at Murshidabad, who through their immense wealth, played a very important part in Bengal politics, as can be seen later on.] twelve lakhs of rupees". On another occasion, Ali Verdi Khan demanded the estate of a rich Mohammedan who had died at Calcutta intestate and without any relatives. After his claim had been paltered with for many years, he again threatened to order an attack on the Factory at Cossimbazar, in 1751. The Calcutta Council knowing with whom they were dealing, immediately paid over the value of the deceased Mohammedan's estate, and were compelled to add a further sum on account of interest, lest they should rouse the ire of the Nawab and share the fate of the Mahrattas.

The next notable Armenian merchant at Saidabad was Khojah Petrus Arathoon, who achieved fame as a diplomat in the eventful days when Suraj-ud-dowlah, that monster of lust and cruelty, ascended the masnad (throne) of Murshidabad as the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Behar and Orissa, as a successor to his grandfather, the great Nawab Ali Verdi Khan, referred to above, Khojah Petrus Arathoon, or the "Armenian Petrus", as Clive called him, played a very important part in the conspiracy which led to the overthrow of the young Nawab Suraj-ud-dowlah and the placing of a new Nawab on the tottering throne of Murshidabad.

The Armenian merchant-diplomat first appears on the scene, as a good Samaritan, immediately after the tragedy of the "Black Hole" when he spontaneously came to the assistance of the English in their hour of need, although he was afterwards misjudged by them and unjustly accused of having been a spy in the service of the Nawabs of Bengal from Suraj-ud-dowlah to Mir Kasim, as can be seen later on.

The humane Armenian hearing of the terrible sufferings of the English inhabitants of Calcutta, who with Drake, the Governor, had taken refuge in their ships at Fulta, after the fall of Fort William, he secretly supplied them with provisions for a period of six months and but for the timely succour of Khojah Petrus, the unfortunate English refugees at Fulta might have been starved to surrender before the arrival of the Army of Retribution from Madras under Admiral Watson and Colonel Clive on the 20th December 1756. Khojah Petrus was afterwards employed by Clive as a confidential agent in negotiating with Mir Jaffier for the overthrow of Suraj-ud- dowlah, the author of the "Black Hole" tragedy. And in 1760, when it was found expedient to remove the imbecile Mir Jaffier and place his son-in-law, Mir Kasim, on the Masnad of Murshidabad, Khojah Petrus' services were again requisitioned as he was known to be very friendly with Mir Kasim. And for all the valuable services which Khojah Petrus had rendered to the English in Bengal, at the risk of his life, there is nothing in the records to show that he had been rewarded for his loyalty to the British cause. Being unable to get justice from Clive and his colleagues in Calcutta, for his loyalty, once the crisis was over and the tide had turned in favour of the English, he addressed a long letter to the Court of Directors in London on the 25th January 1759, enumerating the various services he had rendered to the British cause in Bengal since the capture and sack of Calcutta in June 1756. The following is a copy of the letter: —

Letter from Petrus Arratoon to the Court of Directors dated 25th January 1759.

"Honourable Sirs,

It is with the most humble submission I assume liberty to address the following narrative to your Honourable Board, to set in a true and faithful light — the indefatigable pains, charges, and imminent danger myself and the persons therein mentioned underwent to relieve the miseries of the English Gentry after they had been extirpated from Calcutta by the invasion, of the Moor, and refuged on board their ships at Fulta and to be instrumental to bring matters to the happy state they are in at present.

The calamities and condition the English Familys were in on board their ships at Fulta, I need not describe, no doubt but the Honourable Company have had a very particular account of their dilemma and sufferings: I shall proceed to relate how far their deplorable state made impressions on one Abraham Jacobs (a Jew) and myself. The said Abraham Jacobs applyed himself to me with the prospect to join him to endeavour to contribute the English some relief. A proposition of that commiseration and humanity, I readily came into, solemnly plighted him my faith to yield them my utmost assistance with all imaginable alacrity, fervency and fidelity, even to the hazard of my life, upon this Abraham Jacobs remained in my house at Calcutta disguised in Moor's habit. We mutually consented and agreed the first step we were to take was to get the speech of Omichand* [Omichand was a Punjabi Hindu merchant of Calcutta and had acted for many years as agent for the English in their purchases of saltpetre and other Indian goods in Bengal. His real name was Amir Chand but he is better known as Omichand.] and to bring him over to be an instrument to promote our schemes who had great interest with the Moors and though Mr. Drake and Council addressed him twice before to no effect, he not so much as giving them an answer, yet we were so fortunate as to prevail with him to join our cause, and the first thing we effected was to obtain the country people to bring provisions to Fulta market which they were restrained from before — We likewise conveyed boats and lascars to attend the ships, and indeed we studied and laboured and left no stone unturned to yield them all the conveniences and necessarys we possibly could obtain either by interest or present out of our shipwrecked fortunes, for there were no favours, scare humanity to be expected from such mercenary wretches without the prevailance of presents. We then proceeded to advise Major Kilpatrick to send a letter to Monickchund, Governor of Calcutta, which he did and we delivered it to him and were so happy to have him receive it favourably and returned an answer. This success spirited us to advise the Major to write to Coja Wazeed and Jugut Seth and we carried these letters to Hughly and delivered them to the said Coja Wazeed and Jugut Seth's gomastas and returned with satisfactory answer to the Major. The good consequence of these correspondences was the obtaining of a cessation of hostility or disturbances of the Moors towards the English, which continued till the arrival of His Majesty's Squadron. The said Abraham Jacobs and myself were almost incessantly employed in travelling up and down the river, carrying them all the assistance we could and giving them advices of all the occurrences we could learn, which brought on us great expenses by keeping a great number of servants, boats, small presents to the Moor's under-officers not to impede or molest us, as well as the inexpressible trouble and anxious fears lest we might be betrayed. As I hinted before, our fortunes were for the major part shipwrecked at the sacking of the town and our circum- stances were at a very low ebb. All the money we received from Mr. Drake and Major Kilpatrick at Fulta amounted to no more than Rupees 150 and 380, which last sum was employed on this occasion. It was thought necessary towards accommodating matters with the Nabob we should have the King's phirmaund to produce if required, which was lost, but William Frankland Esquire accidently found among his papers the copy of the phirmaund, which we got fair translated, and paid that sum to an officer at Hughly who had the Mogul's chap [seal] to affix it to the same. In the beginning of October 1756, Omichand went to Muxadavad [Murshidabad] in order to endeavour an accommodation when the said Abraham Jacobs wearied out with continual fatigue fell sick at Chinsurah so that the whole weight of affairs fell alone upon me, to be perpetually employed backwards and forwards to Fulta etc. as prementioned, till the arrival of His Majesty's Squadron, Admiral Watson of glorious memory and Colonel Clive, who finding nothing could be effected by fair means with Seraj-ud-dowla, he being a Prince whose word could in no wise be depended on, perfidious in his nature and a promise-breaker, which occasioned hostility to commence on the side of the English, and after retaking Calcutta* [Calcutta was retaken by the British on the 2nd January 1757 and Drake, the former Governor, reinstated as President.] the Colonel and his army encamped to the northward of the town, and the Nabob soon marched his army from Muxadabad and encamped very near him. However a treaty was set on foot, and I was employed to negociate between both partys, but the brave Colonel Clive rightly conceiving the Nabob trifled and did not mean to come to any terms of accommodation, he judged it necessary to compel him by force of arms, accordingly he gave him battle, and God was pleased to crown him with victory which brought the Nabob to terms of peace which being settled and Articles confirmed he returned with his army to Muxadabad.

Afterwards William Watts Esquire and I were sent thither to receive what compensation was agreed on in the treaty of peace. A part thereof was received, the remainder withheld by the Nabob. Here words can't express what trouble Mr. Watts and self had in attendance and endeavouring to get from him the remainder. That gentleman perceived plainly the Nabob was dealing treacherously with the English, and had information he was privately perfidiously concerting measures with the French, and his behaviour confirmed Mr. Watts in the same, for which he sent me to demand from the Nabob the remaining money, he threatened if Mr. Watts presumed to make any further demand, to take his life away. Due advice of these particulars were remitted to Calcutta. In the interim, Mr. Watts, whose whole study was taken up for the good of the Company and publick cause, sent me to Jaffir Ally Cawn, one of the Nabob's noblemen, and who tacitly was disaffected with the Nabob's treacherous proceedings to him. I was to lay open a new scheme, which I did and had I been detected, nay even suspected herein, it would have cost Mr. Watts and me our lives, but to proceed. I brought Jaffir Ally Cawn to a concession to Mr. Watts' proposal, and to enter into the scheme, and appointed a day for Mr. Watts to have an interview with him in private, to accomplish which I provided in readiness a covered palankeen such as the Moor women are carryed in, which is inviolable, for without previous knowledge of the deceit no one dare look into it. At the appointed time Mr. Watts was carried to Jaffir Ally Cawn's house, and there concluded and confirmed the scheme until an answer of approbation could be had from the Select Committee at Calcutta. As soon as the same arrived, I requested leave of the Nabob for Mr. Watts and self to retire for three days to the Garden House without the city which being granted we lost no time to make our escape from thence to meet Colonel Clive who was on the march with the army for Muxadavad, and by the blessing of Providence got there safe, a narrow escape indeed, for had we deferred our flight three hours longer, though we acted with the greatest conduct and secresy till matters were ripe for action, we should have both been taken and put to the most miserable death. Your Honours may be pleased to observe here what risque Mr. Watts and self ran of our lives for your interest. I need not mention the wonderful effects and issue our labour has produced. What a happy change in the state of your affairs, to have a peaceable possession of Calcutta confirmed to you, etc. But I must beg leave to exhibit to Your Honours that though I have gone through such great travel, pain, anxiety, and dangers in assisting the English familys in the depth of their distress, being instrumental towards the happy Revolution, yet Your Honours have not taken the least notice or mention of me nor of Abraham Jacobs, my fellow labourer, until the fatigues, as prementioned, afflicted him with sickness, nor even the expenses we disbursed have not been repaid us, which incites me to believe that my services have not been represented to Your Honours. If they have, I have reason to believe not in a clear and genuine but very faint light, for had your Honours been made truely and particularly sensible of my vigor, fervency and fidelity in your service, I flatter myself, I should have been honoured with some instance of Your Honours' favour, therefore, I humbly refer this genuine, but short narrative in regard to the particulars, to your Honours' serious consideration, and hope you will consider me worthy of the gratuity to have some post in Your Honours' service conferred on me, and not forget the service of Abraham Jacobs, as in your wisdom you shall judge, I merit, or such reward as Your Honours shall deem fit. Permit me, Honourable Sirs, to tender my sincere wishes for prosperity and success to attend you in all your affairs, and most respectfully to subscribe, Hanourable Sirs, Your most obedient and faithful humble servant,


We have not however, been able to find out yet what reply the Court of Directors gave to the above letter, as the Records are silent on that point, but it is not likely that the Court of Directors would have ignored that valuable historical document entirely. And in order to prove by documentary evidence the important part played by Khojah Petrus in the negotiations which led to the establishment of British rule in Bengal, we shall now proceed to give some extracts from state letters and documents of the time which shed a flood of light on the history of the negotiations and the principal actor therein, as unfortunately very little is known of that great Armenian merchant-diplomat of Calcutta, who at the risk of his life, helped the English in their hour of need.

In a letter to Mr. Pigot, dated Camp, 25 January 1757, Colonel Clive writes: —

"Yesterday his (Nabob's) Prime Minister despatched one Coja Petrus, an Armenian, to me, desiring I would send a trusty person with our proposals, intimating that the Nabob was desirous of settling matters in a private manner without the mediation of the French. I have desired the gentlemen will send their proposals very fully explained that we may lay them before the Nabob as soon as possible."

On the 2nd February, 1757, we find Suraj-ud-dowlah again sending Coja Petrus to Clive asking for the despatch of envoys, but he did not wait for a reply.

On the following day, writing from Camp, Clive commences his letter to the Select Committee at Fort William, as follows: —

"Gentlemen — Coja Petruse is returned with a letter and present from the Nabob and I propose despatching the commissaries to him without delay, therefore request you will send me the proposals immediately."

On the 6th February 1757, we find Clive writing to the Nabob in the following terms:

"I sent two gentlemen to treat with you about a peace at Nabobgunge where, by your letter, and the promise from your own mouth to Coja Petruse, I expected they would have found you, instead of which they found you in Calcutta. This action sufficiently shows you meant only to amuse me."

In a letter from Mr. Watts to Colonel Clive, written 10 coss from Hooghly, and dated the 18th February 1757, we find the following: —

"I have certain advice from Coja Petrus and from two gentlemen I sent on purpose to Chinchura that the French are sending their effects there, they saw several boats loaded with chests, chairs, pepper, cotton etc., etc., some carrying on shore, so that you will find nothing but an empty shell. I am informed the Danes give the same protection, but of this you will be able to get better intelligence than I."

In a long letter to the Secret Committee at London, dated Camp opposite to Barnagul, Clive writes on the 22nd February 1757, as follows: —

"On the 3rd instant letters came in from the Nabob proposing to restore our settlement and make some reparation for the effects taken, and desiring proper persons to be sent to confer with him on the subject, at the same time the van of his army appeared in sight, and passed along towards Calcutta, just without reach of the cannon of our battery to the eastward.

Coja Petrus, an Armenian, who brought the Nabob's letters assured me that the Nabob had by his own mouth promised to wait at a place called Ganga where he then was till the conference was over and I directly wrote him testifying my satisfaction at his pacifick intentions and that two gentlemen would be deputed immediately to treat with him.

The next day, being the 6th, the Nabob decamped and removed to Dum Dumma, and the Armenian was again sent to me with a letter from Rangeet Roy desiring if we meant peace to transmit our proposals to the Nabob who was inclined to comply with them."

In a letter from Mr. Watts to Colonel Clive, dated the 26th April 1757, we find the following: —

"Mir Jaffier two days ago sent for Petrus privately and told him the Nabob [Suraj-ud-dowlah] was greatly disliked, that he ill used and affronted everybody, that for his part whenever he went to visit him he expected assassination, therefore allways had his son and forces in readiness, that he was persuaded the Nabob would not keep to his Agreement and says he only waits till Monloll [Mohan Lall] is well and for some forces that are expected from Patna in eight or nine days to attack us. Mir Jaffieir therefore sent for Petrus and desired him to tell me that if you are content, he, Raheem Cawn, Roydoolab and Bahaudar Ally Cawn and others are ready and willing to join their forces, seize the Nabob and set up another person that may be approved of."

In a letter dated the 14th May, 1757, Mr. Watts writes to Colonel Clive as follows: —

"Mir Jaffier likewise having expressed an utter distrust and disgust at his being any ways concerned in the Treaty, and as delays are dangerous, I therefore with Petrus had a meeting with Mir Jaffier's confident [Omar Beg] who set out to-day with the accompanying Articles, which he says he is sure Mir Jaffier will comply with."

In a letter to Colonel Clive, dated the 8th June 1757 Mr. Watts writes from French Gardens, Chandernagore: —

"I have not been duped as you must know by this time and be convinced Omichand has been the occasion of the delay. As a further proof, I enclose you copy and translate of a letter from him to Petrus. Please send for Petrus' brother [Khojah Gregory, better known as Gorgin Khan] and ask him upon oath if Omichand did not dictate and he wrote such a letter to his brother [Coja Petrus]. If this will not satisfy you and Omichand's address has more weight than my proofs I will send you the original with his own signing. Let me beg of you to comply with this request not to divulge what I have inclosed or write you to Omichand till I am in place of security, as he is implacable in his resentments and may be induced to discover everything by writing up here [Chandernagore] in order to sacrifice Petrus and me to his resentment. The Nabob [Suraj-ud-dowlah] and Mir Jaffier are at open variance and it is apprehended troubles between them will soon ensue."

Omichand's letter to Coja Petrus, in the handwriting of Khojah Gregory [Gorgin Khan] was written in Armenian, the following being a free translation of a part of the letter which Mr. Watts sent to Clive with a copy of the original as stated above. The translation was no doubt made by Khojah Petrus himself for Mr. Watts.

"Omichand's compliments to Petrus.

There's letters gone for Mr. Watts to forbid his coming down till permission is given from hence. You and I are one: let us consider what is for our own interest and act so as to make it pass that we have had the whole management of this affair. If our friend [Mr. Watts] is not set out, keep him a few days: affairs are not settled here, hereafter I will write you the particulars. You have a good understanding, therefore there is no occasion to write you much. Our success depends upon each other. All my hopes are in you."

Facsimiles of Omichand's original letter with the rough copy of the same, were published by Sir Richard Carnac Temple, Baronet, in the Indian Antiquary, Vol. XLVII for November 1918. In the original copy, Omichand has signed his name in Hindi (Punjabi) as Amirchand. There is no signature on the copy and neither of them bears any date, but they must have been written on the 4th or 5th June 1757, as Mr. Watts refers to it in his letter of the 8th June which he wrote to Clive enclosing the letter in question. Needless to add that the clever plan of the wily Omichand miscarried because the Armenian Petrus remained true and loyal to the English, as in the past. Had Khojah Petrus complied with Omichand's request and kept back Mr. Watts, things would have taken a different turn and the British cause would have been endangered, since Omichand was no friend of the English and for his double dealings he got his desserts shortly after when the infamous forged treaty* [ ] was drawn up and shown to him as a reward for his treachery, villainy and chicanery. *Clive, the heaven-born hero of Macaulay, played a shabby trick on Omichand which was quite unworthy of an Englishman of his position. For his participation, as an intermediary, in the conspiracy for the overthrow of Suraj-ud-dowlah, Omichand, claimed thirty lakhs of rupees as compensation for the heavy losses which he said he had sustained when Suraj-ud-dowlah had taken Calcutta in June 1756. He threatened to inform the Nawab of the plot unless his claim was satisfied. Clive, who was more than a match for the wily Punjabi, closed his mouth by means of a trick. He had two treaties drawn up, one on white paper and the other on red. The former, which was the real treaty, contained no stipulation as regards the compensation to Omichand and it was not shown to him. The latter guaranteed Omichand's claim and was shown to him. It may be mentioned here that on the sham treaty Admiral Watson's signature was forged, by Clive without any compunction whatsoever, and when, some years after, he was arraigned before the House of Commons for the shameless forgery, he told his accusers nonchalantly, that he would do it again a hundred times! After the conspiracy had succeeded, par excellence, Omichand came to receive the promised amount, under the terms of the red treaty, but he was shockingly disillusioned when Clive showed him the white treaty by which he was to receive nothing. It was a case of "the biter bit".

As Omichand 's letter to Khojah Petrus is rather an important document, from a historical point of view, inasmuch as it served to put Khojah Petrus on his guard to save Mr. Watts from falling into the hands of Nawab Suraj-ud-dowlah, as Omichand had cleverly planned, we shall therefore give a verbatim translation of the original Armenian letter, which, with the rough copy, were found among the Clive MSS. some years ago by Sir George Forrest.

Here is the translation: —

"To the most illustrious Sahib of Sahibs, Aga Petrus,

Be it known humbly in the service of him who is written above that up to the present time we have no favour from the Sahib. We are very anxious, and hearing of the arrival of Amirchand, I came to Gorothi and enquired about the real state of affairs about my Sahib.

He [Amirchand] told me to write these few words. Amirchand offers his devotions in the service of the Sahib. He says that they have written to Wach [Watts] from this place that no one is to come till we do not write. It remains that you and I are one. What will be good for us, do that. Be thoroughly manly till the end and everything is ours. And about your home, be of easy mind, I am here. And if the friend who is to come with you has arrived, it is good, if not, delay him for a few days, as there have been no deliberations here yet. I will write to you what is necessary to-morrow [when] the deliberations are over. It is not expedient to write details, because you are a wise man, moreover, my weal is yours and yours is mine. My entire affair I have left open to your wish. No more.


Sir Richard Carnac Temple, in his interesting article on "Side-lights on Omichand" which appeared in the Indian Antiquary for November 1918, referring to the above letters says:

"Reviewing the conditions surrounding this remarkable letter, one cannot help considering what would have happened had Agah Petrus acted as Omichand desired and kept Watts in Murshiadabad until Surajuddaulla had him in his power. Clive's letter of 5th June 1757 to Watts shows that had Watts failed in his mission, as he would have done, if Omichand had had his way, Clive, for some months at any rate, would have dropped his scheme of deposing Surajuddaula and setting up Mir Jaffier as Nawab Nazim under British suzerainty, and the world-famous battle of Plassey would not have been fought. No doubt so worthless a prince as Surajuddaula would not long have retained his power and no doubt Clive would in time have found means to obtain supreme authority in Bengal, but it would have had to be achieved in some other way. There was nothing then but the loyalty of Agha Petros to prevent the success of Omichand 's proposal and a complete change in the story of British supremacy in India as we know it. The letter we have been discussing therefore just missed being of the first importance in history."

In a letter written by Colonel Clive to the Select Committee at Fort William, from Cutwa, on the 15th June, 1757, at noon, we find the following: —

"I arrived last night at Cutwa and as the sepoys who came by land are a good deal fatigued, I shall only proceed to Mirzajore to-day where I shall disembark the cannon etc., and I expect to reach Agra Diep in two days, to which place I shall order all the small boats. Mr. Watts with the gentlemen of Cossimbazar joined me yesterday afternoon, also Coja Petrus and a Moorman from Mir Jaffier. They left the city the 13th at night and acquaint us Mir Jaffier's party daily increases. The gunners and Laitee Cawn have joined him, so that there is the greatest probability of a happy issue to the expedition."

In a letter, without date, but received by Colonel Clive on the 23rd June 1757, Jafar Ali Khan [Mir Jaffeir] writes as follows: —

"Your note is arrived. Your trusty man is taken. 1 congratulate you on executing your design. Meirza Aumer [Omar Beg], or Mr. Watts or Coja Petrus, send one of them to me. I am here on the bank of the lake agreeable to your desire."

After such a brilliant record of valuable services, the loyal Armenian becomes the target of the attacks of the arrogant members of the Calcutta Council who forgetting the immediate past, falsely and unjustly accused him of treachery and disloyalty, as can be seen from the following extracts:

In their letter to the Honourable the Secret Committee for Affairs of the Honourable United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies, the Council* [The Council at Fort William, Bengal, was then composed of the following members: — Eyre Coote, P. Amyatt, John Carnac, W. Ellis, S. Batson and H. Verelst.] at Bengal wrote under date, Fort William, the 11th March 1762, as follows: —

"The Armenian Ministers of the revolution Cojah Petruse and Khojah Gregory [Gorgin Khan] are in the highest degree of favour with the Nabob [Mir Kasim] and his adherents, the former resides in Calcutta, retained by Cossim Aly Chan [Nawab Mir Kasim], a known spy upon every transaction of the English of which he never fails to give his master the most regular intelligence, as was too apparent to Colonel Coote and Major Carnac, when they were at Patna. The latter of these Armenians has posts of the greatest trusts near the Nabob's person; and through the means of these men the Armenians in general are setting up an independent footing in the country, are carrying on a trade greatly detrimental to our investments in all parts, and commit daily acts of violence, which reflect no small odium on the English, who are supposed to encourage their proceedings."

The Court of Directors in their reply to the long letter of the Calcutta Council, said

"this paragraph [36] requires no answer from us,"

which goes to show that the cool-headed English gentlemen who presided over the destinies of the Company's trade in India, attached no importance to the false and venomous accusations of their self- interested servants in Calcutta against the two Armenians whose friendship for the English and their loyalty to the British cause was above reproach, for in the Address to the Proprietors of East Indian Stock regarding the revolutions in Bengal, it is stated that "Mr. Holwell being well apprized that Coja Petruse (to whom the Company owed much in the last revolution, but much more in this) had the greatest weight with, and influence over Cossim Aly Khan [Nawab Mir Kasim], had secured him on the side of the Company, and at a private interview with him, at Mr. Holwell's garden, on the same day of the conference between the Governor and Cossim Aly Khan, Mr. Holwell framed a rough plan of the terms which must be insisted on for the Company, in lieu of the protection and support to Cossim Aly Khan, which Coja Petruse engaged he would promote, to the utmost of his power and influence. The next morning, the 24th September, Mr. Holwell communicated his conference with Petruse and laid the rough plan before the Governor and the Select Committee, who approved of it, with little variation, and the 25th was appointed for the conference between him and Cossim Aly Khan."
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After such valuable services to the British cause in Bengal, the loyal Armenian was painted black by the Calcutta Council who stigmatized him as a "spy" in the service of the Nawab.

In the proceedings of the Calcutta Council for 24th March 1763, Mr. Batson laid before the Board the following minute: —

"The evil designs of the Nawab [Mir Kasim] against us appearing now in a glaring light, and it being well-known through the whole country that Coja Petruse, the Armenian, acts as the Nawab's spy in this place, Mr. Batson proposed that he and his family be turned out of Calcutta immediately and desires it may be put to the vote.

The motion contained therein being put to the vote, agreeably to Mr. Batson's desire, the Members delivered their opinions, but Mr. Watts who knew Coja Petrus intimately since the dark days of the fall of Calcutta and the tragedy of the "Black Hole" in June 1756, and had always spoken highly of his loyalty, because he had saved his life, as we have seen, yet he did not hesitate to echo the sentiments of some of the members and stated that: —

"Petruse is well-known to be an intriguing person and to have raised himself, 1 believe, being a spy betwixt us and Seraja Dowla. During Clive's Government he was ordered to quit this Settlement (Calcutta) and not to have any connections at the Durbar, for having spread and told the Chutta Nawab Meeran (Meir Jaffeir's son) that Colonel Clive intended to take away his life, I therefore think he ought to be ordered to quit this Settlement, that his constituents cannot suffer any losses by our taking such a step, as his business can be carried on equally the same as when he was absent in a late visit to the Nawab."

But fortunately for Khojah Petrus, who had evidently become the victim of the hatred and malice of the Calcutta Council, the President pointed out that ordering a merchant of long standing out of the Settlement would be arbitrary, and would shake all confidence, but he was forbidden to act for the future as Vakil to the Nawab (Mir Kasim) and to the chagrin of his crestfallen enemies, Khojah Petrus was honourably acquitted by the Government. A glorious instance of British fairplay and justice indeed. Later on, the much harassed but loyal Armenian was suspected by Major Adams to have been a spy for the Nawab Mir Kasim during the memorable campaign of October 1763, and was seized as such and ill-treated, but he finally convinced the Government of his innocence and unshaken loyalty to the British cause by writing to them on the 21st November 1763 as follows: —

"Your petitioner begs leave to observe to this Hon'ble Board at Ouda Nulla, a place where the enemy had strong works and great forces, your petitioner by direction from Major Adams wrote two letters to Marcar and Arratoon, two Armenian officers, who amongst others commanded the enemy's forces, and intimated to them that as the English always favoured and protected the Armenian nation, so the Armenians in justice ought to direct their steps towards the good of the English.

That he is now about 14 or 15 years or thereabouts an inhabitant of this Settlement, and took up arms in the Factory when Seraju Dowla came down against Calcutta, when the English abandoned this place and retired to Fulta, and were in great distress there for provisions, your petitioner by carrying and bringing letters found means to introduce a correspondence between Raja Manukchand and Major Kilpatrick, which opened a passage for provisions to the English at Fulta. The King's Firman being lost in the capture of the place [Calcutta] Your petitioner with a copy of it that was saved by Mr. Frankland, ventured up to Hooghly and got two attested copies of it drawn out with the Cazie's seal fixed to them, and brought and delivered them to Mr. Drake at Fulta. In short, your petitioner was as useful and serviceable to the English at Fulta as he could, until the arrival of their forces and the retaking of Calcutta, and your Petitioner was no less serviceable to the English when Seraju Dowla came to attack Calcutta the second time, as he was the person by whose means in carrying and bringing letters between Colonel Clive and Seraju Dowla, a general accommodation and peace was brought about, your petitioner afterwards went up with Mr. Watts to Cossimbazar where he did render all the services that he was ordered very zealously, and the same zeal animating him in spite of the numberless dangers to which he was exposed, he went between the English and Jaffir Ally Khan till the treaty was formed between them, and even to this day whatever the Hon'ble the President and Council have been pleased to order, your petitioner has always faithfully executed."

For his loyalty to the British in Bengal, Khojah Petrus suffered much. Here is another instance. During the campaign in the second half of the year 1763, when the British were fighting against Mir Kasim, the last independent Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Behar and Orissa, whose formidable army was under the command of Gorgin Khan, the youngest brother of Khojah Petrus, Major Adams, who commanded the British troops fearing lest Gorgin Khan or the other Armenian commanders of the Nawab might harm the British prisoners in the hands of the Nawab, kept (as a precautionary measure) Khojah Petrus as a hostage in his camp, as can be seen from the letter which the Major wrote to Governor Vansittart on the 3rd October 1763.

"We had a report yesterday that Coja Gregore [Gorgin Khan] had been wounded some days ago by a party of his Mogu cavalry who mutinied for want of their pay between Sonage Gurree and Nabob Gunge. It is just now confirmed by a Hircarra arrived from the enemy with this addition that he died the next day and that forty principal people concerned were put to death upon the occasion, though it was imagined that the Moguls were induced to affront and assault Coja Gregore by Cassim Ali Cawn who began to be very jealous of him on account of his good behaviour to the English. If this should prove true, Coja Petruce can be of no further service to us. I, therefore, would recommend sending him down to Calcutta, but shall wait the directions of the Board on that head.

I must confess this piece of news gives me some concern as by all accounts he behaved very well to our gentlemen. And it was that only that occasioned him to fall under Cassim Ali Cawn's displeasure. Had he lived, he might probably have assisted in effecting their escape, as we hear he frequently was the means of saving their lives as well as the Setts [Seths] and other prisoners."

And for trying to save the lives of the British prisoners, out of love and affection for his brother Khojah Petrus, who was a staunch friend of the English, Gorgin Khan, "one of the greatest men of the age," according to Marshman, lost his precious life by falling a victim to the rage of the Anglophobe Nawab Mir Kasim of Bengal. Had he lived the blood-curdling massacre of Patna would have been prevented through his influence and the Juggut Seths would not have been cruelly murdered by the Nawab Mir Kasim.

That well-informed researcher and learned antiquarian Sir Richard Carnac Temple, in his illuminating article on "Side-lights on Omichand" in the Indian Antiquary for November 1918, writes of Khojah Petrus in the following terms: —

"Petros Arratoon, usually known as Coja (Khwaja) Petrus (Petrose), was an important Armenian merchant, whose brother Grigor Arratoon (Gorgin Khan) was a general of Mir Kasim. He had resided in Calcutta since 1748 and had rendered valuable service to the English at the time of its capture and in the negotiations following its recapture. He seems to have accompanied Watts and Omichand to Murshidabad, as he is mentioned in a letter of the 18th February [1757], immediately after their arrival, and subsequent letters show him to have been employed as an emissary by both Watts and the Nawab. On the 24th April 1757, Mir Jaffir, Surajuddaula's Bakhshi or Paymaster General, who had previously agreed to countenance Yar Lutf Khan's pretensions, but had since been approached by the Seths as a more suitable candidate, sent for Petros and desired him to tell Watts that he could secure the adhesion of the Nawab's chief officers in support of his own claims it these were put forward: "This scheme" Watts considered "more feasible than the other" and he urged its adoption by Clive, who readily acquiesced, since he was doubtful of the wisdom of setting up so comparatively an unimportant a man as Yar Lutf Khan, while Mir Jafir, brother-in-law of the late Nawab Governor, Alivardi Khan, was a personage of weight and influence."

Khojah Petrus or Petros — the Armenian name for Peter — had two younger brothers in Bengal, one of them was the famous Khojah Gregory or Gorgin Khan — the Commander-in- Chief of Nawab Mir Kasim of Bengal — and the other, an eminent merchant, Barsegh (Basil) Arratoon by name, who suffered much at the hands of Governor Harry Verelst and Francis Sykes in 1767, as can be seen later on.

Bolts, the well-known author of Considerations on India Affairs, who espoused the cause of the much-harassed Armenian merchant, calls him Parseek Arratoon.

It is sad however to reflect that all the three brothers suffered in some way or other for their loyalty and devotion to the English in Bengal. The first, Khojah Petrus, after a brilliant record of valuable services to the British, as we have seen already, was pilloried and accused afterwards of disloyalty, intrigue and espionage, and was even threatened with expulsion from Calcutta with his family. The second, Khojah Gregory, or Gorgin Khan — Nawab Mir Kasim 's Minister and Commander-in-Chief — and one of the greatest men of the age, lost his precious life for being kindly disposed towards the English during the latter end of the regime of the Anglophobe Nawab Mir Kasim of Bengal, whilst the third, Barsegh (Parseek) Arratoon, incurred the displeasure of Governor Harry Verelst for being a successful and an independent merchant and therefore a thorn on the side of the self-interested Governor and his clique in the glorious days of the memorable but infamous "Monopoly of Salt, Betel-nut and tobacco," when the servants of the Company were reaping a fair harvest from trading privately to the detriment of the Company's trade.

Hitherto we have seen Khojah Petrus in the light of a clever diplomat. Let us now see him as a private individual and a successful merchant of Calcutta. He was the head of the Armenian community in Calcutta and was held in high esteem by his compatriots for his benevolence and his charities. He built the beautiful Armenian church at Saidabad* [There was a brass tablet on the north wall of the Armenian Church at Saidabad — dedicated to the Virgin Mary — with an inscription in Armenian, from which it appears that the church was built by Khojah Petrus to the memory of his revered parents, Arathoon his father and Hosannah his mother, Dastagool his wife, Khojah Gregory [Gorgin Khan] and Agah Barsegh his brothers and all his blood relations, whether dead or alive. This tablet is now in the picture gallery of the Armenian church at Calcutta.] near Murshidabad, in 1758, entirely at his own expense, in memory of his parents. He repaired and embellished the Armenian church of Calcutta in 1763 and built two additional altars inside the church, one on the right side of the main altar, in memory of his brother Gorgin Khan, who was assassinated near Monghyr, and the other on the left side to commemorate his memory. Joseph Emin, an Armenian of Calcutta, in his "Life and Adventures" printed in 1792 in London, calls Khojah Petrus "the earthly God of the Calcutta Armenians" which clearly shows the high esteem in which he was held by his countrymen.

It may be mentioned, en passant, that Khojah Petrus was a personal friend of Warren Hastings and when that much maligned statesman was badly in need of funds for his subsistence in England after his successful administration in Bengal, he obtained an accommodation of Rs. 12,000 from his Armenian friend in Calcutta after vainly trying to get it from his own Indian Diwan. And this loan, it may be added, was not repaid by Warren Hastings till 10 years after when he came out to Madras.

His son, Agah Aiathoon Petrus, founded in 1820 the Armenian Alms House in Calcutta where thousands, nay tens of thousands of itinerant and poor Armenians from all parts of the world, have found shelter all these years and blessed the memory of the devout Founder, who according to the Armenian inscription on the black marble tablet which can be seen to this day over the gate of the building "was zealous of the glorious deeds of his illustrious and hospitable ancestors."

Khojah Petrus, the diplomat, the merchant prince and the respected head of the Armenians in Calcutta, died in 1778, aged fifty-three years, and his revered grave can be seen in the chancel of the Armenian church of Nazareth, Calcutta, with a long inscription, on a white marble stone, in classical Armenian verse, of which the following is a translation: —

"The eminent princely chief Agah Petrus Arathoon of Erivan, New Julfa, [Ispahan] of the family of Abraham, was a lustrous hyacinthine crown of the entire Armenian nation. He worked assiduously and expended lavishly. His generosity towards the destitute orphans and widows was without parallel. By his frequent munificent gifts he erected handsome and well- embellished churches. He departed in the hope of salvation at the age of fifty-three, and was placed in this tomb with pomp, in the year of our Lord 1778, the 29th of August, and in the year 163 of the era of Azaria, the 12th day of the month of Nadar."

His widow, who survived him by 27 years, died in 1805 and lies buried beside her husband under a black marble tombstone with an inscription in classical Armenian of which the following is a translation: —

"This is the tomb of Dastagool, the daughter of Agah Minas of the family of Khojah Minas of Erivan [a parish of Julfa] and wife of Agah Petrus. She departed this life on the 3rd of June 1805."

It is to be hoped that when the history of those eventful years, which saw the dawn of a new era in Bengal, comes to be fully written, the deeds of the Armenian Khojah Petrus will not be forgotten and his valuable services to the British in Bengal will not be ignored, as in the past.

The Armenian inhabitants of Saidabad and Agah Manuel Satoor in particular, rendered valuable assistance to the English when Holwell and his fellow-captives, the survivors of the "Black Hole" tragedy, were taken as prisoners to Murshidabad by the order of Suraj-ud-dowlah.

According to Thomas Khojamall, a contemporary, Agah Petrus, the son of Rev. Nicholas, referred to on page 325, being a man of great influence at the court of Murshidabad at that time, succeeded in releasing the women prisoners by making valuable presents to the high officials. Having brought them to his house, he kept them for some days before sending them to the Dutch Settlement at Chinsurah and from thence to Calcutta, supplying all their needs and requirements.

One of these English women was Mrs. Frances Watts, the wife of William Watts, Senior Member of the Supreme Council of Calcutta and Chief at Murshidabad, who but for Khojah Petrus Arathoon's protection would have fallen into the hands of the infuriated Suraj-ud-dowlah as we have seen already on pages 331-332. After Watts' death in England, his widow returned to Calcutta and on the 1st June, 1774, she married the Rev. William Johnson, a chaplain in the Presidency of Fort William. She was known thenceforth as the "Begum Johnson." Her end came in 1812, at the ripe old age of eighty seven and her funeral was attended by the Governor- General and all the high officials. She was buried in St. John's churchyard where her grave, known as the "tomb of Begam Johnson," an imposing massive old structure, can be seen to this day. She had married four times and on her tombstone the names of the four husbands, with the dates of their marriages, are faithfully recorded. According to the interesting epitaph, she was "the oldest British resident in Bengal, universally beloved, respected and revered." She was born on the 10th April, 1725, at Fort St. David, on the Coromandel coast, where her father, Edward Crook, was the Governor.

And but for the chivalry of the Armenian Agah Petrus Nicholas, (not to be confounded with Khojah Petrus Arathoon) this remarkable English lady might have fallen a victim to the bestiality and the savagery of Suraj-ud-dowlah — the monster in human form.

There are no Armenians at Saidabad to-day, for like Chinsurah, it was deserted when it lost its commercial importance, by the middle of the last century, and the only vestiges of the once prosperous Armenian colony in that place are the Armenian church which is crumbling very fast and a large number of graves in the churchyard, with beautiful tombstones, most of which are broken and damaged and need repairs very badly, otherwise they will disappear in the course of a decade or two.

In the Library of the Armenian church at Calcutta, founded by the late Mr. A. G. Apcar in 1896, in memory of his daughter, Mary Araatoon Gregory Apcar, who died in London in 1895, there is a beautiful and a well preserved manuscript copy of a collection of 306 hymns, canticles and melodies composed in ancient Armenian, by the Fathers of the Armenian Church from time to time.

The work, as can be seen from the title-page, was compiled by Petrus Amirjan, a chorister, but the date and the place of the compilation is not given. It appears from the colophon (hishatakaran) that the copy which is now in the Calcutta church Library was made at Saidabad from the original of Petrus Amirjan, by a young Armenian, named Arakiel, the son of Mahtesy Johanness, who laboured for four months, with great zeal and devotion, and completed his self-imposed task on the 17th August, 1757.

The colophon tells us that the paper was supplied by Martyrose, the son of Arathoon and the cost of the binding was borne by Petrus, the son of Rev. Nicholas, the pious and the zealous warden of the Saidabad Armenian church. We are further told that Carapiet, the son of Mathew, helped the copyist by reading the original, thereby enabling him to revise the copy. The volume, according to the interesting colophon, was presented by the scribe, Arakiel Mahtesy Johaness, to the Armenian church at Saidabad, on the 3rd August, 1759, in memory of the persons enumerated above, who had participated in its production. The devout copyist entreats all those who may see or use the book to pray for the repose of their souls, and God shall have mercy on them "on the day that has no night" (haooorun anerekee).

The manuscript is composed of 320 quarto pages, measuring 10"x7-1/2". It is beautifully written, like print, with a reed pen on thick hand-made glazed paper, in jet black Indian ink, with the headings and the first letters of the lines in red ink. Although written 180 years ago, it is in a very fair state of preservation, despite the damp climate of Bengal.

We reproduce that article, in entenso, as it confirms all that we have said in the past thirty years, after our several visits to that historic ancient church, that the present caretaker is not a fit person to be in charge of that place.

Let the Gazetteer speak: —

"Times have changed in Berhampore as well as everywhere else, and the Armenians have given place to others in the local commercial world. The places where they lived are levelled to the ground, and down in Saidabad, where their residences were, one only finds grass and moss-grown ruins. The very roads over which they walked have disappeared, and all that remains of this ancient colony is an occasional walled-in plot of land. To the question 'what place was this?' the guide invariably replies — 'A rich Armenian merchant lived here. He was ruined, and the house fell'. The crumbling decay of ages, however, has spared to some extent the old church. Time has dealt more gently with it than with the old town, [Saidabad] and it stands a grim and time-stained monument of an almost forgotten prosperous community of merchants. The sacred building is now only a dilapidated barn. Its walls are bare and crumbling. The inscriptions, mostly in the Armenian tongue, on the upperstones of flat graves are slowly being obliterated, and the little niches and stoups that once marked the spots where the faithful were wont to bless and sprinkle themselves are almost invisible by the accumulation of the dust and the dirt of fifty years of cruel neglect. The font, in the sacristy, where the ancestors of many of Calcutta's prominent Armenian citizens of to-day were admitted into Holy Church, is now a receptacle for rags, whilst on the other side of the building, in another vestry, wherein the registers and vessels of the altar were once carefully guarded, was found a specimen of faded millinery probably cast on one side as useless by one of the caretaker's children. The main body of the church is absolutely a dreary waste; a place of desolation, the evidences of a former grandeur on the inner roof and walls but accentuating the impression of that condition.

But this is not all. For in the east end of the building towers a tall structure that was once the centre of devotion and worship [the altar] of the old-time Armenian community of the district. Aloft, stands a huge picture frame [the altar piece] from which the ragged edges of canvas still flutter, and one is told that from here at one time looked down on the worshippers a beautiful picture of Christ. It is satisfactory to know that this beautiful work has been removed to Calcutta and duly preserved. Underneath this great frame-reredos are three rows, one on the top of the other, of quaintly painted panels, all in a fair state of preservation, representing incidents in the life of Christ and the ministry of his apostles. From the point of view of artistic merit, these are perhaps unimportant, but they have a history contemporary with that of the church itself, and are or should be of far too great interest to those who love the memories of the time when their ancestors knelt beneath them, to be allowed to be the perching places of the caretaker's poultry which alas, appears to be their only present use. Little or none of the altar furniture has been left in the church. In one of the vestries is a tangled mass of lampware and old chains, and on the masonry altar-table were seen two old candle-sticks and an ancient wooden book-rest. The verandah surrounding the building, and the tiny compound in which it stands, are covered with grave-stones of Armenians, who lived and flourished in the district between the years 1758, when the church was built, and 1858, when the last burial is believed to have taken place. The last date appears to be the 17th December, 1858, the grave, inscribed in English, being that of S. M. Vardon Esquire.  

The church is now rarely visited save by the curious and according to the caretaker, himself an Armenian, with an imperfect knowledge of English, each year produces two or, at the most, three faithful persons who linger within the once sacred precincts to offer a prayer for the souls of the faithful departed whose last resting-places are within the shadow of the historic old building."

The above unbiased account of the deplorable state of the Saidabad church, by an independent eye-witness, should serve as an incentive to those who, as custodians of the ancient church and its lands, are responsible for their preservation. It is to be hoped that when these lines meet their eyes, they will be up and doing before it is too late, for if there is a violent storm or an earthquake, the tottering edifice will collapse, smashing to pieces the large number of beautiful marble tombstones in the three verandahs round the church, and then, woe to those through whose negligence and apathy, the sacred edifice will be no more, for the troubled spirits of all those who lie buried there, will, under the leadership of the good and Godly Khojah Petrus, builder of the church, enter a strong protest before the throne of the Almighty for the destruction and the desecration of their hallowed graves.

In this connection we may mention that for the desecration of a few graves in the old Armenian cemetery in Colootollah Street, Calcutta, by converting a portion of the consecrated ground, on the west side, into a stable, in 1888, a God-fearing member of the Armenian community of Calcutta, the late Mr. A. G. Apcar filed a suit in the Calcutta High Court against the then warden of the Armenian church of Calcutta and had him removed from office, and as a result of that suit, the present Scheme for the Management of the properties and the funds of that rich church came into existence.

In August 1894, when we paid our first visit to the Saidabad church the then caretaker of the church, a good and a Godly old gentleman, named Mackertich Lucas Khojamall, told us that when he was placed in charge of the church by the late Mr. A. G. Apcar, in January 1890, he found that a large portion of the ground on which the priest's quarters were originally standing, with a number of graves adjoining it, had been let out by his predecessor, to local farmers for sowing mustard seed!

Shade of Khojah Petrus Arathoon!

In striking contrast to the Saidabad church, the sister church at Chinsurah (which as we have seen in a previous chapter, is likewise deserted) is kept fairly clean by the present caretaker, at a very heavy cost however, but then that man does not desecrate the place by rearing cattle and poultry, like the illiterate, uncouth, unkempt and unwashed vandal at Saidabad, who like Alexander Selkirk, is "the lord of the fowl and the brute." His employers should, if they wish to save the church from further desecration, replace him by a God-fearing Hindoo durwan, who will, we are sure, have more respect for the sacred edifice than the ungodly villager from Charmahal, who has been a heavy burden on his employers, as they have had to support not only him and his Indian wife, but have spent thousands of rupees for the education of his children during the past thirty years.

In his diary for the 29th December, 1816, the late Agah Owenjohn Elias of Calcutta, who was a native of Saidabad, where he was born in 1786, gives the names of all his ancestors and relations who lie buried in the Armenian churches at Saidabad, Chinsurah and Calcutta. The graves of seven of his relatives, who were buried in the Saidabad church, cannot be traced to-day. The tombstones on their graves, which must have been grand, as they were all wealthy people, have disappeared. Where have they gone? The present caretaker, who as we have said, is "the monarch of all he surveys", may perhaps be able to explain. It may be noted that large marble tombstones have a special fascination for washermen all over India who pay good prices for thick slabs.

In this connection we may mention that some of the tombstones which were there when we first copied the inscriptions in August 1894, have also disappeared. It may interest our readers to know that one of them bore the date 1726 and it was to the memory of Mackertoom, son of Agajan, another marked the last resting place of Ogostos of the family of Chugnaz, who died in 1750, whilst a third bore the date 1763 and it covered the mortal remains of Pogose, the son of Hyrapiet of Kars, who was known by the nickname of "Khalash".

It appears that the ground on which the Saidabad church was erected, was the old Armenian cemetery, as there are a few tombstones still in situ, which bear dates anterior to the erection of the church in 1758. This was nothing unusual in those olden days, as the Calcutta Armenian church of Nazareth was also erected on the old cemetery, so were the churches at Dacca and Madras.

Khojah Petrus Woskan, a wealthy and a public-spirited Armenian merchant of Madras, constructed in 1726, as we shall see in a succeeding chapter, a beautiful stone bridge of many arches, over the river Adyar in Madras, on which he spent the large sum of 30,000 hoons, or pagodas, the pagoda being then worth Rs. 3/8, and he had the foresight to place a fairly large sum in the Company's treasury, the annual income accruing therefrom to meet the necessary repairs.

The Armenian merchants of the olden days who erected churches in India, lacked the foresight of Khojah Petrus Woskan, as they made no provisions for the upkeep of the sacred edifices, with the result that when the Armenians deserted Agra, Delhi, Gwalior, Surat, Patna, Saidabad and Masulipatam, their churches fell into decay and dilapidation, some of them having disappeared already, as has been pointed out in these pages. One of the Armenian merchants of Saidabad, Petrus Stephen by name, left in 1801, the handsome bequest of Rs. 31,700, the annual income to be distributed amongst the officiating priests of the Armenian churches at Saidabad and Calcutta and the poor Armenians of Saidabad, Calcutta and Julfa. The annual income of the Trust in 1801 was Rs. 1305, but owing to the reduction in the rate of interest on Government Securities, the Trust now yields an income of Rs. 970 only per annum. This sum is distributed, in terms of the will of the testator, as under: —

1. To the officiating priest of the Saidabad church Rs. 320
2. To the officiating priests of the Calcutta church, Rs. 320
3. To the poor Armenians of Saidabad, Rs. 110
4. To the poor Armenians of Calcutta, Rs.110
5. To the poor Armenians of Julfa, Rs. 110

The devout testator stipulated in his will that once a week the officiating priests of the Armenian churches at Saidabad and Calcutta, were to offer prayers and celebrate the holy Mass for the repose of the souls of the testator (after he was dead) and of his deceased wife Ooroogloo*, [Oroogloo, the wife of Petrus Stephen, died on the 2nd February, 1801, aged 41 years, and was buried in the Armenian churchyard at Saidabad, where her grave, with a beautiful black tombstone can still be seen, with a long inscription in old Armenian. The graves of Petrus Stephen and one of his brothers cannot be traced. The grave of his brother David who died on the 31st May, 1800, is in the Calcutta Armenian churchyard. He left a bequest of Rs. 5500 to the Armenian church of Calcutta, the annual income, amounting to Rs. 275, to be equally divided between the church and the local poor.] as also of his brothers who had predeceased him.

But as there have been no officiating priests at Saidabad since 1860, the annual income left for that incumbent, as per item 1, has been paid, all these years, to the officiating priests of the Armenian church at Calcutta, which is not in accordance with the provisions of the will of the devout testator.

Similarly, the amount left for the Armenian poor of Saidabad, as per item 3, has been paid to the Armenian poor of Calcutta, which is also contrary to the wishes of the testator.

Since the devout testator has already provided for the priests and the poor of Calcutta, as per items 2 and 3, the annual income left for the priests and the poor of Saidabad, which by an irony of Fate have ceased to exist, should have been spent on the repairs of the Saidabad church, and not allowed that sacred edifice to fall into dilapidation and to complete the destruction of the deserted church, the present caretaker has, with impunity, converted the place into a barn where his cattle and poultry desecrate the sacred edifice and the consecreted grounds daily!

Should these lines meet the eyes of the Official Trustee of Bengal, in whose able hands the Trust is placed, or those who are directly responsible for the administration and the distribution of the income, we hope they will see that the annual income of Rs. 430 is not diverted into other channels, as in the past, for we feel certain that the soul of the devout testator must be revolting against the misfeasance of his Trust.

The Armenian church at Saidabad, dedicated to the blessed Virgin Mary, closed its doors in 1860, and for 75 years no prayers have been said or Masses celebrated in that church "for the repose of the souls of the devout Petrus Stephen, his wife and brothers," yet a sum of Rs. 24,000 has been paid to the officiating priests of the Calcutta Armenian church for services which they have not performed. Had this large sum been expended on the repairs of the Saidabad church, it would have given the sacred edifice a fresh lease of life for another hundred years.

We venture to hope that this humble appeal for the preservation of that ancient church will not fall on deaf years, as it is the only memorial left of the once prosperous Armenian colony at Saidabad. We feel certain that the officiating priests of the Calcutta Armenian church, will, gladly forego that annual income when it is proposed to devote the same for the preservation of the house of God, where, for a hundred years, (1758-1860) their predecessors have invoked the blessings of Heaven on their devout congregation through the celebration of Holy Mass every Sunday morning.

Deserted Saidabad, on the portals of which the ominous word ICHABOD* [Ichabod is a Hebrew word which means "the glory is departed."] is writ large, can be proud of another eminent Armenian merchant who flourished there in the early part of the last century. Though he did not possess great wealth like the famous Khojah Petrus Arathoon, the merchant- diplomat, yet he was a great and an equally illustrious member of the Armenian community of Saidabad, whose name and deeds deserve to be recorded in letters of gold for the valuable services which he rendered to the cause of national education in India and the East. Whilst the Armenian merchants of his day were piling up huge fortunes at Calcutta and elsewhere in India and the East, Manatsakan Sumbat Vardon, a merchant of Saidabad, saw the urgent need of national education in India and with a praiseworthy zeal, he founded after strenuous efforts, the "Armenian Philanthropic Academy" in Calcutta. The Academy, which opened its doors on the 2nd April, 1821, still continues its useful work in educating poor boys, mostly from the Armenian villages of Charmahal in Persia.

We shall refer to this venerable institution when writing of the educational activities of the Armenians of Calcutta during the first-half of the 19th century when the community could be justly proud of men like the Rev. Joseph Stephen, Aviet Gentloom, Arratoon Kaloos, Johanness Arathoon Isahak Aganoor, Martyrose Mackertich David, Mesrovb David Thaliadian, Johanness Avdall, Thaddeus Catchick Avetoom. Pogose Vejinian and several others, who by their literary efforts gave an impetus to the spread of national literature in India, by founding printing presses, publishing journals and works of literary merit in the ancient language of Armenia, a language which has always had the Armenians in India and the East amongst its most ardent and enthusiastic admirers.

Although the times have changed and the printing establishments, with the authors and the journalists, who kept them going, have disappeared long ago, still it is gratifying to note that there is one solitary literary worker to-day, who walking in the footsteps of the immortal Mesrovb David Thaliadian, the patriotic poet, author, journalist and educationist of India, keeps the glimmering torch of the classical Armenian burning by writing books and articles in that charming, but neglected language, a language which can vie with Latin, Sanscrit and ancient Greek, in beauty, elegance and richness. But we have digressed.

Manatsakan Vardon, the great benefactor of Armenian youth thirsting for knowledge, departed this life at Saidabad on the 13th day of October, 1827, aged fifty five years, and his revered grave can be seen in the now deserted Armenian church of that place, with a beautiful white marble tombstone, on which are inscribed twenty eight lines in ancient Armenian verse.

Should these lines meet the eyes of the present Managers of the "Armenian Philanthropic Academy", now known as the "Armenian College", we would suggest that on the anniversary of his death, which falls on the 13th October, some ten boys be sent up to Saidabad, annually, to pay homage to the revered memory of the FOUNDER, by placing flowers and burning candles and incense over his forgotten grave, so that they may, from their youth, learn to honour and respect the memory of national benefactors, since it is said that "sweet is the memory of departed worth".

They should be taught to learn by heart Longfellow's beautiful Psalm of Life, in which the poet has said that: —

"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Foot-prints on the sands of Time".

The deserted Armenian church at Saidabad, should in future, become a place of pilgrimage for the boys in the College founded by Manatsakan Vardon, and for that reason alone, if for nothing else, the church should be kept standing and in good repair as an ancient monument and a landmark of the once prosperous community whose bones rest under the shadow of that sacred edifice, erected by Khojah Petrus Arathoon to the glory of God and for the preservation of the Christian religion in a purely Mohammedan province ruled by bigoted Moslems of Suraj-ud-dowlah type.

As an alumnus of the Armenian College, where we studied, as a day scholar, for six months only, in 1890, we have during the past forty five years, paid several visits to the shrine of the Founder, as a humble pilgrim, praying over his grave and seeking inspiration for our labours in the thorny fields of national service.

It appears that the Armenian community of Calcutta during the first half of the 19th century, being deeply immersed in money-making, were rather slow in appreciating departed worth, for whereas the great philanthropist Agah Catchick Arakiel died in 1790, yet no tribute was paid to his memory till 1837 when a memorial tablet was placed in the church which he had endowed with a valuable English tower- clock and a handsome two-storeyed Parochial House, both of which are still serving the purposes for which they were put up. In the same way nothing was done to perpetuate the memory of Manatsakan Vardon, the Founder of the "Armenian Philanthropic Academy", till the year 1846, when a marble tablet was put up on the walls of the institution, with appropriate inscriptions in Armenian and English, the following being a copy of the latter.

"Sacred to the memory of MANATSAKAN VARDEN, Esquire. This tablet is erected by the members of the Armenian Philanthropic Academy at Calcutta, in acknowledgment of the high esteem and veneration in which he was held by their community, for his virtues in social life and zeal in behalf of the education and welfare of his countrymen, and in which he was at all times ready, equally with his purse and heart, and by his means, as well as the donations of other benevolent Armenians, founded this Philanthropic Academy, which dates its existence from the 2nd April 1821. Born at Julfa in Ispahan, on the 6th September 1772, died at Syedabad in Moorshidabad, on the 14th October 1823."

We must point out, however, that the members have made a serious blunder in recording the date of the demise of the Founder, who died at Saidabad in 1827, and not in 1823, as inscribed in the bilingual inscriptions which can be seen in the institution to this day. Had the zealous members of the Academy, with the Rector, Johanness Avdall, as their Nestor, consulted the records of the Academy or the registers of the Saidabad church, the glaring error would have been obviated and the Founder's soul would have rested in peace, instead of being troubled, over the shortening of his already short life by four years! This is how history is often distorted through wrongly-dated memorials.

It may be argued, however, that the date of the death of Manatsakan Vardon, as inscribed on his tombstone in the Saidabad Armenian church, may not be correct, but fortunately we have the unassailable evidence of the late Agah Owenjohn Elias, a resident of Saidabad, who gives the 13th day of October, 1827, as the date of the demise of the Founder of the "Armenian Philanthropic Academy."

And were the perishable memorials erected at Saidabad and Calcutta, to disappear some day, in the natural order of things, the revered name of MANATSAKAN VARDON will remain indelibly inscribed, forages to be, on the roll of the immortals.
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