Malcolm, John (DNB00)
MALCOLM, Sir JOHN (1769–1833), Indian administrator and diplomatist, fourth son of George Malcolm of Burnfoot, in the parish of Westerkirk, Dumfriesshire, a member of a younger branch of the Malcolms of Lachore, Fifeshire, by his wife Margaret, daughter of James Pasley of Craig, Dumfriesshire, was born at Burnfoot on 2 May 1769. His brothers Charles and Pulteney are separately noticed. By tradition ‘the scapegrace and scapegoat of the family,’ a quick and daring boy, John left the Westerkirk parish school at the age of twelve. His father, ruined by untoward speculations, had already placed three sons in the public services. In July 1781 John Malcolm's maternal uncle, John Pasley, a prosperous London merchant, visited Eskdale and took the boy with him to London, hoping to place him in the East India Company's service. For a short time he put him to school under a Mr. Allen, and then procured him a nomination, and before the end of the year took him before the directors. The interview is famous. The directors were for refusing a commission in their army to a child not yet thirteen. ‘Why, my little man,’ said one, ‘what would you do if you met Hyder Ali?’ ‘Cut aff his heid,’ said the boy laconically. He was passed at once, and his commission made out and dated October 1781. He remained some months longer at school, and sailed for India in the Busbridge in the autumn of 1782.
He landed at Madras in April 1783, and was first appointed to do duty with a regiment at Vellore. His first service was as ensign in command of two companies of sepoys, who escorted to a place of safety the English prisoners surrendered by Tippoo Sahib under the treaty of 11 May 1784. The next six years were spent as a half-educated, high-spirited boy would be likely to spend them. ‘Boy Malcolm,’ as he long continued to be called, was a good horseman and a good shot. He got into debt and he got into scrapes, and, being proud and penniless, was often not far from starving. But he learnt his duty, and that so well, that at the age of nineteen, though still only an ensign, he was adjutant to the wing of his regiment, the 29th battalion of native infantry, stationed at Masulipatam, and by the end of the year had paid off his debts and forsworn gaming. In 1790, with the renewal of war, his career began.
His regiment, which was ordered to cooperate with the troops of the company's ally, the nizam of the Deccan, took part in the siege of Copoulee, and then joined the camp of the nizam's main army. There in 1791 Malcolm became intimate with the British diplomatic corps of Hyderabad, and was fired with the ambition of joining the diplomatic service. ‘A careless, good-humoured fellow, illiterate, but with pregnant ability,’ he threw himself with such zeal into the study of Persian that he speedily mastered the idiom. He looked out for, but narrowly failed to get, diplomatic employment. In the autumn he was compelled by shattered health to descend to the coast for two months, but in 1792, being now a lieutenant, he joined the camp of Lord Cornwallis before Seringapatam, and was appointed Persian interpreter to the nizam's troops. Thus, after an uninterrupted term of nine years' service, he closed his regimental employment, and he was never afterwards employed otherwise than on the staff or in command. His health, however, was far from re-established, the war was over, and in February 1794 he embarked for England on furlough.
The voyage restored him. He landed in July full of health and vigour, and shortly, by an able paper on the grievances of the East India Company's officers, their scanty pay and slow promotion, attracted the attention of Dundas, president of the board of control. He became acquainted with Sir Alured Clarke [q. v.], then about to proceed to Madras as commander-in-chief, was appointed a member of his staff, and after spending the winter with his parents at Burnfoot, and attending classes at Edinburgh, he sailed for India in May 1795. He never saw his parents again.
In the beginning of September the Cape was reached, and Clarke's opportune arrival with a force of troops turned the scale in the contest then pending between the English and the Dutch. Two months were spent there, and early in 1796 Malcolm was again in Madras, a lieutenant still, but secretary to the commander-in-chief, and in March 1797 he was reappointed to that post by Clarke's successor, General George, lord Harris [q. v.] For a short time he held the profitable appointment of town-major of Fort St. George. But he had long been preparing himself, by reading, inquiry, and correspondence, for the diplomatic employment he desired. He laid before Lord Wellesley (then Lord Mornington), on his landing in India in April 1798, papers which he had drawn up on the native states of India, and when a vacancy occurred in the post of assistant to the resident of Hyderabad, he applied for and obtained the appointment, 10 Sept. 1798. His first service was one of peril. The nizam, under strong pressure from a British force, proclaimed the disbandment of the ‘French corps’ of troops in his service, officered and disciplined by French officers. This was on 21 Oct. The men mutinied; they seized their officers; they assailed Malcolm, whose life was only saved by deserters from his old regiment, the 29th, who formed part of the corps. He returned to the residency, took command of fifteen hundred horse, and with the other British troops so overawed the mutineers that they laid down their arms. He was despatched with the colours of the corps to Calcutta, placed his information before the governor-general and secured his goodwill, and sailed with him in the winter for southern India, to the scene of the coming war with the sultan of Mysore. He joined the nizam's contingent on 19 Jan. 1799, and acted at once as the controlling political officer of the force, and as the channel of communication with the governor-general. Eventually he took command of the infantry, co-operated with Colonel Wellesley and the king's 33rd, and marched upon Seringapatam. The services of Malcolm were expressly commended by the commander-in-chief to the governor-general. He was appointed first secretary to the commission for the settlement of the Mysore government, and took a large part in its arrangements.
Lord Wellesley was then meditating the despatch of an envoy to Persia, the first since Elizabeth's reign, and he selected Malcolm for the mission. The objects were to induce Persia to divert the attention of the Afghans, who constantly menaced an invasion of north-western India, to check French influence, and to promote British trade. He left Madras in the middle of September, passing three weeks at Hyderabad to wind up various matters connected with prize-money and other affairs, and, travelling thence to Poonah and Bombay, he sailed for the Persian Gulf on 29 Dec. 1799. After arranging with the imaum of Muscat for the reception of a regular British agent he proceeded to Bushire, but he was detained there from 1 Feb. 1800 to 22 May by difficulties connected with the forms and ceremonials of the Persian court. He met the prince regent at Shiraz on 15 June, and wisely refused to bate a jot of the utmost state, however trivial, which Persian etiquette prescribed for the reception of the highest envoys. This, however, caused long delay and much ceremonial stickling, and it was not until 23 Sept. that the mission reached Ispahan, where it was received with more pomp and procrastination, and remained upwards of a month. It then proceeded to Teheran, and on 16 Nov. Malcolm was presented to the shah. He opened his negotiations by offering presents on a scale so profuse that his extravagance has been repeatedly and severely commented on, but he found the Persian court childishly open to such influences, and believed himself able by these means not merely to advance the negotiations, but materially to abbreviate the stay and consequent expense of the mission in the country. The chief minister, Hadjee Ibrahim Khan, was appointed to represent the shah, and with him two treaties were arranged, which were signed on 28 Jan. 1801. The first was a commercial treaty providing for unrestricted trade and the cession to the East India Company of the islands of Kishm, Anjam, and Khargh in the Persian Gulf, with liberty to establish factories on the coast or in the interior of Persia. The political treaty engaged the shah to assist in curbing the anticipated aggressions of the ameer, Zemaun Shah, and bound him to exclude the French from Persia, the company guaranteeing him ships, troops, and stores in the event of a French invasion. The stipulation in the former treaty for the cession of the islands so alarmed the Persians that neither Malcolm's tact and good humour nor his lavish presents and somewhat supple diplomacy could overcome their reluctance, and the point was not insisted on. The treaties, though signed by Malcolm and Hadjee Ibrahim, were not formally executed by their respective governments, and some doubt remained as to their binding effect. The treaties themselves were never actively put in force, but the impression produced on the Persian court and policy by Malcolm's first mission was undoubtedly salutary. He returned by way of Baghdad, in order to impress an anti-Gallic policy upon its Turkish governor. He quitted Baghdad on 31 March, and after a dangerous voyage through the Persian Gulf arrived at Bombay on 13 May. The mission, though disapproved by the court of directors, had been conducted to Lord Wellesley's highest satisfaction. Malcolm was at once summoned to Calcutta to undertake temporarily the private secretaryship to the governor-general, and, after encountering an almost fatal storm on his passage, reached Calcutta early in July, and proceeded in August up the Ganges with Lord Wellesley on his tour of investigation into the affairs of Oudh. In the winter he was hastily despatched to Madras on a confidential mission to induce Edward Clive [q. v.], lord Clive, afterwards earl of Powis, the governor, and other officials not to return home, but to hold various posts in the presidency for a further term, and so to secure, what their expected successors would oppose or mismanage, the application to Madras of the new revenue and judicial regulations. Although this arrangement obliged Malcolm to forego his own appointment to the Mysore residency, which had been promised and all but formally given to him, he executed his task with fidelity and address, and returned without complaint to his post of acting private secretary in March 1802. His influence with Lord Wellesley was great; he was spoken of as ‘Lord Wellesley's factotum and the greatest man in Calcutta,’ and in August 1802 he was again chosen to go on a special mission to Bombay. He travelled by way of Hyderabad and Poonah in order to confer with the residents at those courts in view of coming changes affecting the nizam and the peishwah. Between Poonah and Bombay he was detained for a couple of days a prisoner by a local chief, who had seized and fortified the Bhore Ghaut, in anticipation of an immediate conflict between Holkar and Scindiah. He reached Bombay on 10 Oct. There he had to deal with a grave difficulty arising out of the recent murder of Hadjee Khalil Khan, the Persian ambassador, by some British sepoys who had quarrelled with the ambassador's attendants. Malcolm satisfactorily settled the disastrous business, and despatched Lieutenant Charles William Pasley [q. v.], acting-resident at Bushire, with conciliatory missives to the Persian government. His letters produced the desired effect, and the shah was easily appeased for the murder of his ambassador on the receipt of a substantial indemnity. Malcolm returned to Calcutta in December, and expected immediately to proceed to take up his appointment as resident at Hyderabad.
But at this juncture the expected Mahratta war broke out. While Malcolm was still at Bombay, Holkar had defeated Scindiah and Badjee Rao near Poonah. On 31 Dec. 1802 the company allied itself with the peishwah by the treaty of Bassein, and operations began for the restoration of Badjee Rao to his capital. Malcolm left Calcutta in February 1803 and joined General Wellesley's camp at Hoobly on 19 March. He found himself able to work cordially and effectually as political agent to his old friend Wellesley, but he was much harassed by severe and repeated attacks of dysentery and fever all through the summer, and was further embarrassed, in face of the ambiguous and menacing attitude of the Mahratta chiefs, by the undefined character of his own powers. He was officially only resident at Mysore, but actually representative of the governor-general himself at the headquarters of General Wellesley. On the outbreak of war with Scindiah in August 1803 he was so ill that he was reluctantly obliged to proceed to Bombay, leaving Mountstuart Elphinstone as Wellesley's political assistant, and did not return to camp till the middle of December. He thus, to his great regret, missed being present at Assaye and Argaum. Though his health had again broken down, he at once plunged into the negotiations for peace, and the treaty of peace, which was signed on 30 Dec. by the representatives of the company and of Scindiah, was drawn up in conformity with his recommendations. He then was despatched to Scindiah's camp at Boorhanpore to conclude a supplemental treaty, and was presented to the maharajah on 12 Jan. 1804. The negotiations proceeded very slowly, and the treaty was not concluded until 27 Feb. After the conclusion of the treaty he remained some time longer in the camp of Scindiah, engaged in negotiations for the delimitation of the several possessions to be held under it, by Scindiah, by the lesser feudatory chiefs, and by the company respectively. Malcolm, supported to some extent by General Wellesley, was strongly of opinion that Scindiah was morally, if not technically, entitled to the possession of Gwalior, and he went far towards committing the company to Scindiah in this direction. He thus incurred the severe displeasure of Lord Wellesley, who considered him insufficiently firm in resisting the demands and the pretensions of the Mahratta chiefs, and communicated his censure 22 April 1804. Taking the matter in too high strung a strain, Malcolm declared himself ‘perfectly heart-broken from these communications,’ and gladly handed over the negotiations to the newly appointed resident. He proceeded to the coast to recruit, and remained unoccupied at Vizagapatam till November, when he rejoined General Wellesley, and proceeded with him to Mysore. During the whole time of his negotiations with Scindiah he had still been nominally resident at Mysore, discharging his duties by deputy. It was at the beginning of 1805 that he resumed charge of the residency, but in March Lord Wellesley again summoned him to Calcutta, and despatched him at the beginning of May upon another mission to Scindiah, who had permitted insults and outrages to the acting-resident to pass unpunished. He proceeded to Lord Lake's camp, and remained in summer quarters at Muttra during the hot season. He was with Lord Lake until the end of the year, advocating in his correspondence with the governor-general, and enforcing to the best of his ability, that policy of vigorous and prompt measures against Scindiah and Holkar which he believed to be the best guarantee of ultimate peace. While still remaining with the army in its pursuit of Holkar he negotiated the treaty by which Gohud and Gwalior were ceded to Scindiah, and at the same time he arranged for the reduction of the large and costly bodies of irregular troops which had been taken over by the company from various native chiefs, and were now found to be an intolerable burden upon the exchequer. He treated with the agents of the Sikh chiefs, who were to be detached from the cause of Holkar, and when Holkar, driven for refuge into the Punjab, sent envoys to solicit peace, it was Malcolm who received them and negotiated the treaty of 7 Jan. 1806. He remained at headquarters till June following, occupied with the principal direction of the grants of pensions, gratuities, and lands for services rendered in the war and with other administrative business, minute but onerous and important, resulting from three campaigns; nor was it until April 1807, and after a stay of almost six months in Calcutta, that he returned to Mysore.
Malcolm had never been thrifty, and his numerous costly missions had, in spite of extra allowances, considerably impoverished him. His health was shaken by overwork and exposure, and he was in need of repose. On 4 July 1807 he married Charlotte, younger daughter of Colonel Alexander Campbell of the king's 74th regiment, afterwards created a baronet and K.C.B., and appointed commander-in-chief of the Madras army. But Malcolm soon grew weary of the settled and peaceful administration of Mysore and became ambitious of the command of an expedition to Bussorah. As a lieutenant-colonel of three years' standing he was of sufficient rank to command the force, some fifteen hundred men, the despatch of which he suggested, and thus he could unite the military and diplomatic functions in one hand. No expedition, however, was sent, but at this juncture Lord Minto, anxious after the peace of Tilsit to establish whatever barriers diplomacy could set up against a French and Russian advance from the west towards India, decided to send missions to Lahore, Cabul, and Teheran, and for the last he selected Malcolm. There was, however, difficulty in obtaining the sanction of the court of directors to this appointment. Malcolm had the reputation at the India House of having been extravagant on his former missions, and of being, however able and energetic, too bold and too much committed to the policy of the Wellesley school. Eventually Sir Harford Jones [see Brydges, Sir Harford Jones] was named ambassador, and Malcolm, pending his arrival in the East, was despatched to the Persian Gulf with a somewhat general commission of observation. He sailed for Bombay in the Culloden on 17 Feb. 1808, and proceeded thence for the Gulf on 17 April. His force, nominally an escort but really available for operations, consisted of three frigates and about five hundred marines and sepoys. From 10 May to 11 June he remained at Bushire, and despatched a mission to Teheran, but found himself entirely unable to overcome the French influence which predominated there. His messengers were forbidden to advance beyond Shiraz, and he was himself referred to the provincial viceroy of Fars. He accordingly quitted Persia, worsted and indignant, and reached Calcutta on 22 Aug. On his advice Lord Minto now resolved to occupy the island of Karrack as a warning to Persia and a check to French influence. Malcolm, now a brigadier-general, was appointed to carry out the occupation, and again sailed for Bombay, but he was not clear of the Hooghly before he was hastily recalled on the arrival of news that Sir Harford Jones had reached Bombay and persisted in the design of proceeding to Persia, notwithstanding Malcolm's rebuff. Malcolm's expedition was first postponed and then abandoned, and in May 1809 he embarked for Madras.
At this juncture the Madras mutiny occurred, and shortly after his arrival Malcolm was despatched by Sir George Barlow to Masulipatam to deal with the revolt, which had broken out in that important military station against the authority of Colonel Innes, who was in command of the Madras European regiment there. Reaching Masulipatam, he found the garrison in a state of open and bold mutiny, and on the point of marching to join the subsidiary force at Hyderabad. It was loth even to admit him within the lines. He promptly delivered Colonel Innes from the garrison, convened a meeting of the officers, reasoned with them, and, while declining himself to give any pledge or assurance, prevailed on them to abandon for the present their intention of marching to Hyderabad. His principal object was to gain time, and in this he succeeded; but his proceedings were not approved by Sir George Barlow. He was superseded by General Pater, and on his return to Madras was coldly received. Barlow pursued the opposite policy of sternness and severity, and it met with success. Malcolm took the earliest opportunity of returning to diplomatic employment, and was again despatched to Persia in the end of the year (see Malcolm's justificatory pamphlet, Observations on the Disturbances in the Madras Army in 1809, 1812).
Sailing from Bombay on 10 Jan. 1810, it was not until 13 Feb. that he reached Bushire, but the interval was diligently employed in making progress with the ‘Political History of India,’ which he had begun in the previous year, and afterwards published in 1811. It was completed on 6 March, though he did not take his departure for Teheran till 15 April. The intricacies of Persian etiquette had occasioned this delay, but when he proceeded on his journey he was received not only with pomp, but with cordiality. At Teheran he was embarrassed by the presence of Sir Harford Jones, the king's ambassador to Persia, who exercised in that capacity superior authority over the mere envoy of the governor-general, and was exasperated by want of success in his mission and want of support from the East India Company. It was only after considerable negotiation that they were able to meet as friends and co-operate in politics. After Malcolm had been received with welcome and warmth by the shah, the news arrived that the British government, wishing to keep diplomatic relations with Persia in its own hands, and to withhold them from those of the governor-general, had appointed Sir Gore Ouseley ambassador to the court of the shah. His official position being thus extinguished, Malcolm decided to quit Persia at once, in spite of the shah's desire to retain him as a military adviser during the impending war with Russia. The order of the Lion and Sun of Persia having been created for his especial decoration, he was allowed to depart with that and other high honours at the end of July. He returned by way of Baghdad, where his presence and escort protected the British residency during a civil war between an incoming and an outgoing pacha, and he reached Bombay at the end of November. The sole result of this long and costly mission was the creation of a Persian order for the envoy by the shah, and the introduction of potatoes into Persia by the envoy (see Harford Jones, Mission to the Court of Persia; Morier, Travels through Persia, 1812; Lord Minto in India, 1880).
Malcolm remained for some time at Bombay, passing his accounts through the official audit and composing his ‘History of Persia.’ Of the first the government officially recorded its censure that his expenditure was extravagant; for the second it granted him special allowance and a staff of transcribers, together with prolonged leave of absence from his post at Mysore. While occupied upon his history he also composed a justification of his conduct at Masulipatam during the mutiny in the Madras army. It was entrusted to Sir James Mackintosh for publication in England, and, by Malcolm's express desire, this took place before he himself arrived in England on furlough in July 1812. Malcolm now remained at home for nearly five years. During this time he formed various literary connections (Smiles, Memoir of John Murray, i. 236, 268), became acquainted with Sir Walter Scott, produced his ‘History of Persia’ in July 1815, with great success, and received the honorary degree of doctor of laws at Oxford in 1816. Shortly after his arrival he was knighted, received permission to wear the insignia of the order of the Lion and Sun in England, and in April 1815 was made a K.C.B. His views on the treatment of the Indian army were considered by the board of control, and he was examined before the House of Commons on various Indian topics in April 1813. Owing to his various missions and his careless habits he found himself in embarrassed circumstances. The Indian government had already reported in favour of a large pecuniary recognition of his services, and he now memorialised the India House in the same sense, and eventually received a grant of 5,000l., a sum considerably less than the amount Lord Minto had recommended. He remained for some time in great uncertainty as to his future plans. As an Indian officer he was debarred from European service. He failed to obtain, if indeed he really sought, the succession to Jonathan Duncan [q. v.] in the governorship of Bombay. His friends at the board of control went out of office without doing anything for him, and the Duke of Wellington, though his intimate friend, had no patronage available for him. By returning to India he was certain very shortly to obtain the command of a regiment as colonel on full pay, and his chance of political employment was good. Though forty-six years of age he was hale and vigorous. He decided to separate himself from his family, and sailed for India in October 1816.
On the way out he wrote a review of Williams's ‘History of the Bengal Army,’ which appeared in the ‘Quarterly Review,’ vol. xviii. (January 1818). He did not land in India until 17 March 1817, some days after the utmost statutory limits of his five years' furlough had been reached. He was well received by the governor-general, Lord Moira [see Hastings, Francis Rawdon], and, a new Mahratta war being in prospect, he expected early employment. He was soon appointed a brigadier in Sir John Doveton's Deccan army, and during the enforced military inactivity of the hot season he was directed to visit the principal native courts as agent to the governor-general, and to confer with their respective residents. He reached Hyderabad on 24 July, Poonah on 4 Aug., and Nagpoor on 24 Sept. Having thus visited the courts of the nizam, the peishwah, and the bhoonsla within a few months, he joined the army at Hussingabad, on the banks of the Nerbudda; and thence, having communicated with General Adams, who was in command of that division, he made his way to join his own division, the third of the Deccan army, at Hurda on 29 Oct. He at once made preparations for an immediate forward movement against the Pindarees, and on 15 Nov. crossed the Nerbudda at the head of a light field force and started in pursuit of them.
Though nominally a war for the extirpation of the Pindarees, the doubtful fidelity of the native states on the one hand, and the overpowering military preparations of the company on the other, seemed to presage its conversion into a renewed struggle with the Mahratta confederacy. While Malcolm was still operating against the bands of Pindarees on the Nerbudda, open war broke out at Poonah and Nagpore, in spite of his diplomatic visits to those courts a few months before. In November 1817 a revolution took place at Indore, which caused Holkar's forces to be numbered among the enemies of the English. Malcolm, who had been pursuing without success the Pindaree chief Cheetoo, was recalled and joined Sir Thomas Hislop [q. v.], commander-in-chief, at Oujein on 12 Dec. After fruitless negotiation between Malcolm and the envoys of Holkar's durbar, the English army moved on, and on 21 Dec. was fought the battle of Mehidpoor. Malcolm, in command of an advanced guard of horse, dispersed the enemy's cavalry, which were posted so as to menace the English in flank while crossing the Sepree, and then, with two leading brigades, began the engagement before the main body had completed the crossing. He had hardly been in the field since he was a boy; he had never commanded in the field at all. Without waiting to form his two brigades he waved his hat and led his leading files against the enemy at the run. In spite of their deadly fire the enemy's batteries were carried with the bayonet. Throughout Malcolm exposed himself in front of his men more like a subaltern than a general. He saved his life, as he won the battle, as much by good luck as by skill, headed the pursuit with two light battalions, and continued it for several miles. The victory, though complete, was bloody, and it was won by the valour of the sepoy, and not by the tactics of the commander. After Christmas he was despatched, with a mixed force of cavalry and light artillery, towards the north-west in pursuit of the flying enemy. He marched swiftly from Mundissore to Narghur, and thence back to Mundissore, and there on 31 Dec. surprised Holkar, received his messengers, and concluded a treaty of peace on 6 Jan. 1818.
While still concluding his arrangements for the settlement of Holkar's government, he was engaged with his division in operations against Jeswunt Rao Bhao, a rebel viceroy of Scindiah's, pursued him into Mewar, and received his surrender on 14 Feb. During the following months he was busy in negotiations, having for their object the general pacification of the central states, preceded by, and based upon, the voluntary surrender of the peishwah. In conjunction with Brigadier-general Doveton he moved his forces so as actually to menace Badjee Rao's camp in May, and on 1 June had an interview with that prince at Keyree. He offered him twenty-four hours in which to choose whether to accept the British offer of a pension in return for the abdication of the throne of Poonah, or to be treated as an enemy. The peishwah had little choice, entirely hemmed in as he was by the British forces, and on the 3rd he surrendered. His forces were gradually disbanded, and the war was at an end. None the less it was the opinion of the governor-general that the surrender had been extravagantly bought, and that Malcolm had again been characteristically lavish of public money. The peishwah's pension, before he died, cost the Indian exchequer two millions sterling.
Badjee Rao departed for Hindostan, and Malcolm remained to organise the administration of his kingdom. Before the peishwah had started a mutiny broke out among his Arab followers, which needed prompt suppression. Malcolm established cantonments at Mhow, and began the task of the reclamation of Malwah. His design was to reduce into order those provinces of the late prince of Poonah which had been for two generations a prey to anarchy, and then, unless meantime appointed governor of Bombay, to sail for England at the end of 1819. He suppressed the rebellion of the pretender, Mulhar Rao. But in February 1819 Appa Sahib, the deposed rajah of Berar, again took up arms, and threw himself into Asseerghur, while Cheetoo, the last of the Pindaree chiefs, also resumed his forays. On receiving the news of these disturbances Malcolm moved at once, crossed the Nerbudda, and prepared to besiege Asseerghur. Jeswunt Rao, in the service of Scindiah, was governor of the place, and, secretly prompted by his master, resolved upon a desperate resistance. Malcolm conducted his operations on the western side, General Doveton on the eastern. The attack began on 18 March, the walls were breached, and on 30 March the lower part of the fortress was abandoned. The upper part was so severely battered in the first days of April that on the 9th it surrendered, and the place was treated as forfeited by Scindiah's treachery, and was occupied by the British government.
Meanwhile Elphinstone had been appointed to succeed Sir Evan Nepean [q. v.] as governor of Bombay. Malcolm, who had counted on the appointment, was deeply offended and was bent on quitting India forthwith, but was induced by the Marquis of Hastings to remain. All through 1819 he continued to administer Central India, expecting to be made lieutenant-governor of it, but the court of directors declined to create a new lieutenant-governorship, and the conquered Poonah territories were placed under Elphinstone as governor of Bombay. Malcolm now counted on the governorship of Madras in succession to Hugh Elliot [q. v.], but early in 1820 Sir Thomas Munro [q. v.] was appointed to that post. Malcolm conceived himself betrayed by his friends in England. He was somewhat consoled by being promoted to be major-general and a G.C.B., and did not yet despair of procuring the creation of a lieutenant-governorship of Central India, and his own appointment to the post. His departure from India was delayed by the composition of his vast ‘Report on Malwah,’ first published in quarto in 1820, then in octavo in 1825. Nor was his position without its advantages. His authority over his own provinces and the neighbouring agencies was large; he received the military pay of a brigadier in addition to the stipend of his political office. His allowances were larger than those of the governor of Bombay. He had hopes of military employment, since an expedition against the ameers of Sindh and a war with the rajah of Lahore seemed probable. He was busily and usefully occupied in the pacification and administration of Central India, and he was popular alike with his officers and with the natives. But at the end of the year he quitted these duties. He sailed from Bombay on 2 Dec., and proceeded to England by way of Suez. At the end of April 1822 he reached London.
He resided with his family while in England successively at Frant in Sussex, near Tonbridge, and at Hyde Hall, near Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire. His literary acquaintance was considerable. He was the friend of Madame de Staël, Humboldt, Schlegel, Whewell, Sedgwick, and Julius Hare, and occupied himself with various literary work, including the composition of his ‘Sketches in Persia,’ which was not published until 1827, and his ‘Letter to the Duke of Wellington on the State of India.’ He was invited in 1823 to take charge of another mission to Teheran, the diplomatic relations of England with Persia having been again transferred to the government of India. He accepted the task at first, but the project was abandoned when he found that his demand for credentials from the crown as well as from the company would not be granted. Early in 1824 he endeavoured to obtain the appointment to the governorship of Madras in succession to Sir Thomas Munro, and his claims were supported by the court of directors. The government, however, showed a preference for Stephen Lushington, secretary to the treasury. Against the advice of the Duke of Wellington and of Wynne, president of the board of control, and at the cost of a pension, by which Lushington's friends let it be understood that his candidature might be bought off, Malcolm persisted in seeking the post. The contest became one between the court of directors and the crown, and it continued until September, when it was decided against Malcolm. His restless ambition (discouraged as it was by Wellington, who found his friend in general somewhat over-confident as to his own merits) now prompted him to aim at a seat either on the board of directors or in the House of Commons. But in December 1826 Elphinstone's intention to retire from the governorship of Bombay became known, and Malcolm, having in view the likelihood of being acting governor-general should Lord Amherst resign the governor-generalship, accepted the appointment. He then formulated a scheme for placing the administration of Central India also under the governor of Bombay, but the scheme was not accepted, and to his chagrin he was obliged to sail in July 1827 without this extension of his powers.
He employed the leisure of the voyage in writing his ‘Life of Clive’ on week-days and on Sundays worked at a metrical paraphrase of some of the Psalms, which he published on his arrival in Bombay. He reached India 26 Oct. 1827, and on 1 Nov. took charge of the government. He early became involved in disputes with the supreme court of Bombay, which he thought was encroaching upon the authority of government. By the deaths of other judges Sir John Peter Grant became for the time being the sole judge of that court, and between him and Malcolm the quarrel speedily became personal. It came to a head in connection with the case of Moroo Ragonath. The supreme court asserted a jurisdiction beyond the limits of the island and factories of Bombay, and claimed the right to issue a writ of habeas corpus in Ragonath's case against Pandoorung Ramchunder, a ‘privileged sirdar’ within the government of Bombay, who was protected by the British government. Malcolm considered that such a claim vitally impugned the authority of the company, and on 3 Oct. 1828 delivered to Sir John Grant a letter of protest, signed by himself and all the members of the council, which intimated that they had stayed all further proceedings in Ragonath's case, and ordered no returns to be made to similar writs of habeas corpus in future. Sir John Grant lost his temper and wrote a hot letter in reply. The court announced that it would ignore the orders of the government, and acted upon the announcement. The quarrel became scandalous, although it was referred for decision both to the supreme government of India and to the crown. Malcolm used his authority to forbid any servant of government from discussing the question in the public press. Sir Thomas Bradford [q. v.], commander-in-chief, who had signed the letter of protest of 3 Oct., now began to veer towards Grant's side, and to contemplate lending him military assistance to enforce the authority of his tipstaves and writs of attachment. Malcolm made up his mind in that event to seize the person of the commander-in-chief, and deport him from India. In February 1829 Grant issued a writ of attachment against Pandoorung Ramchunder, and addressed it for execution to the governor-in-council. The governor declined to have anything to do with it. Grant thereupon, by way of protest, closed his court. This was done on 1 April. Malcolm replied on the 7th with a proclamation announcing that, as Grant had abandoned his function of protecting the persons and property of the inhabitants of Bombay, the government itself would do its best to supply the deficiency. But at this juncture the home government decided to appoint to the vacancies in the supreme court two judges who shared neither Grant's views nor his indiscretion. This Lord Ellenborough, president of the board of control, intimated to Malcolm in a vivacious letter, dated 21 Feb. 1829, in which he said that now Grant would be ‘like a wild elephant led away between two tame ones,’ and under control. Malcolm, perhaps with calculated carelessness, allowed this biting letter to get into the ‘Bengal Hurkaru,’ and the publication, when it reached England in the following year, became a considerable source of annoyance to Lord Ellenborough. The opinion of the privy council was taken on the subject of the claims of the supreme court of Bombay. It was adverse to the claims, and eventually the quarrel was composed. This was the most important event of Malcolm's term of office. He made tours within and sometimes without the presidency, visited Baroda, Kattywar, and Cutch in 1829, and was principally occupied in continuing Elphinstone's policy of retrenchment in the government services. He constructed roads, and in November 1830 opened that over the Bhore Ghaut; and he encouraged steam communication with Egypt. His last act was to compose a vast ‘Farewell Minute,’ printed in an appendix to his ‘Government of India.’ In spite of the unpopularity which is the fate of a thrifty administrator a marble statue of him by Chantrey was erected by public subscription in the town-hall of Bombay to commemorate his governorship. On 5 Dec. 1830 he left India for ever. In Egypt he met his successor, Lord Clare, and came within measurable distance of quarrelling and fighting with him.
Malcolm reached England in February 1831, and at once began to look about for a seat in parliament. His friend the Duke of Northumberland placed at his disposal his borough of Launceston in Cornwall. He was elected in April, and took a house on Wimbledon Common to be within reach of his duties. In politics he was a tory and a thorough opponent of reform, none the less because the representation of Launceston was endangered by it. He made his best speech in the House of Commons on 19 Sept. in opposition to the bill, and advocated the creation of a constituency of male holders of India stock, to be represented by four persons who had long resided in India. He visited Paris, and came back in full belief that England, too, could hardly escape revolution. He fought the battle against reform to the last, and took part in its latest struggle by seconding Lord Mahon's amendment to the third reading on 19 March 1832. By the act Launceston lost one of its seats, and Malcolm now looked out for another in the Dumfries boroughs. He canvassed at intervals during the remainder of the year, but when parliament was dissolved, on 3 Dec., he decided not to go to a hopeless poll, and after a short canvass at Carlisle, which proved equally discouraging, retired to the improvement of his newly purchased estate at Warfield, Berkshire, and to the completion of his ‘Life of Clive’ and his book on the ‘Administration of India.’ Of the ‘Life of Clive’ he finished only the first fifteen chapters; the book was completed by another hand and published in 1836. Early in 1833 he was attacked by influenza, from the effects of which he never recovered. He lived to see the volume on the ‘Government of India’ published in March, and continued diligently to collect and arrange materials to assist the India House in holding its own against the government on the approaching revision of its charter. He attended a special general court of proprietors on 15 April to consider the ministerial proposals, and moved the resolutions proposed by the court of directors, but fainted when he sat down, was able to take little part in the discussion on the following days, and was seized with paralysis on the 28th. He partially recovered in May, but then relapsed and died on the 30th at his lodgings in Prince's Street, Hanover Square, London. There were erected in his memory a statue by Chantrey in Westminster Abbey, and in 1835 an obelisk on Langholm Hill, Dumfriesshire.
He was a man of great stature and strength, and of an untiringly active body and mind. His versatility was great. Diplomatist, soldier, administrator, and historian, he attained distinction in all these different fields. Simple, manly, generous, and accessible, he made himself beloved by the natives of India, and to his unvarying good faith and honesty much of his diplomatic success in India was due. His ambition was certainly great, and his belief in himself robust; but the success of his measures and his influence in moulding the characters and policy of other officials in India mark him out as one of the most distinguished servants of Great Britain in the East. He had only one son, George, a soldier, and one of his daughters was married to his wife's nephew, Sir Alexander Campbell.
[All Malcolm's letters and papers were before Sir John Kaye, whose Life of Malcolm is full and definitive. See also Wellington Despatches and Supplementary Despatches; Calcutta Review, vol. xii. and Malcolm's various works above referred to.]