Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 24.djvu/358

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Hardinge
Hardinge
344

in India, Hugh Gough [q. v.], but far lower down the roll. In 1843 he was transferred from the colonelcy of the 97th, to which he had been appointed in 1833, to that of his old regiment, the 57th foot, of Albuera fame. In 1844 he was created a G.C.B. (civil division).

Hardinge was sent to India to replace his brother-in-law, Lord Ellenborough, as governor-general. The appointment was made at the suggestion of the Duke of Wellington, and was justified by the result. Few Indian rulers have left a better record. Hardinge, the first governor-general who went out by way of Egypt and the Ked Sea, arrived in India 22 July 1844, and set to work with unremitting energy. Within a fortnight of his arrival he had to deal with the question of the prevailing anarchy and misrule in Oude. Shrinking from strong measures at the outset of his career, he confined himself to remonstrances and friendly warnings. A few weeks later he was confronted with the question of punishments in the native army ; and, after a careful hearing of both sides, had the courage to annul the order of Lord William Cavendish Bentinck [q. v.], abolishing corporal punishment in native regiments, although many experienced officers feared that its revival might lead to a general mutiny in the native army, then seething with discontent. He forbade Sunday labour in all government establishments throughout the country. His efforts in the cause of public education were afterwards acknowledged in an address presented to him at his departure, signed by five hundred native gentlemen in Calcutta. To Hardinge belongs the credit of having recognised the military and commercial significance of railways in India, and of having powerfully advocated schemes for their construction in the face of obstacles of every kind. The sod of the first railway (at Bombay) was cut in 1850 under the rule of Dalhousie.

Except some troubles in the South Mahratta country, peace prevailed during the first sixteen months of Hardinge's rule. In view of the disorder prevailing in the Punjaub he quietly augmented the garrisons on the northwest frontier, so that in November 1845 he had doubled the force there, having raised it to thirty thousand men and sixty-eight guns. On 11 Dec. 1845 the Sikh army crossed the Sutlej, wherewith commenced the most important episode in Hardinge's administration the first Sikh war. Waiving the right to the supreme command, which had been exercised by Cornwallis and Hastings, Hardinge offered to serve under Gough as second in command. It was a magnanimous act, and probably afforded the readiest solution of a delicate question, although it has been held that the objections to the arrangement outweighed the advantages (Broadfoot, p. 418). On 18 Dec. Sir Hugh Gough [q. v.] defeated the Sikhs at Mudki with the loss of several thousand men and seventeen guns. As second in command Hardinge led the centre at Ferozshah on 21 Dec. ; he bivouacked with the troops, under fire, on the field, and commanded the left wing of the army in the long and bloody conflict of the morrow, which resulted in the withdrawal of the Sikhs behind the Sutlej. In the same capacity he was present when the Sikh entrenched camp at Sobraon was stormed, with heavy loss, on 10 Feb. 1846. Three months after the commencement of the war the terms of peace were dictated to the Sikh durbar in Lahore. The autonomy of the Sikh nation, such as it was, was to be preserved ; the Sikh army was to be reduced in numbers ; its guns were to remain in the hands of the victors ; certain portions of territory were to be annexed to the company's dominions; and a British resident (Henry Lawrence), with ten thousand men at his back, was established in Lahore (the text of the treaty will be found in the Ann. Reg. 1846, pp. 368-73). The arrangement was admittedly an experiment, but the force at Hardinge's disposal was not sufficient to justify annexation of the whole country.

The news of the British successes created a great impression at home. Hardinge received the thanks of parliament, and was raised to the peerage of the United Kingdom under the title of Viscount Hardinge of Lahore and of Durham, with a pension of 3,000l. a year for his own and two succeeding lives. The East India Company gave him a pension of 5,000l. a year.

Economy was paramount after the Sikh war, but many useful public measures were adopted, such as the works of the Ganges canal, planned under the Auckland administration ; the establishment of the college at Roorkee for training civil engineers, European and native ; the introduction of tea-culture; the preservation of native monuments of antique art, and others more fully developed in after years. A vigorous effort was made to suppress piracy in Malayan waters. In native states Hardinge used his influence to abolish suttee, female infanticide, and other practices already banished from the presidencies. The sepoys, whom Hardinge was wont to liken to the Portuguese soldiers, found in him a good friend. He increased the scale of native pensions for wounds received in action. Nor was he forgetful of the European troops. With him originated the practice of carrying the kits at the public expense in all movements of troops. He established the