Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/354

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Grant
Grant
342

secretary in the home department of the government of India. In this appointment, which dealt with questions concerning all branches of the domestic administration except public works, Grant effected important improvements. In 1854, upon the appointment of Mr. (now Sir) Frederick Halliday as the first lieutenant-governor of Bengal, Grant succeeded to the vacant seat in the council of the governor-general. He retained this office until 1859. As a member of council Grant's position was one of greater independence than any he had previously filled. He discharged his duties in that capacity with a thoroughness and fearless courage which have seldom been surpassed. His minutes are models of lucid statement and of logical reasoning. Probably the most important is that which he wrote on the question of annexing Oudh to British territory. Lord Dalhousie had proposed a less sweeping measure, viz. that the nawab of Oudh should be deprived of all real power, but, like the nawab of Arcot and the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, should be allowed to retain a large share of the revenues and much of the pomp and pageantry which he had previously enjoyed. Grant, however, was strongly of opinion that the proper remedy for the gross misgovernment of Oudh was the incorporation of that state with the territories immediately administered by the British-Indian government, and Grant's view was adopted by the court of directors and by the cabinet in London. Another measure which Grant strongly advocated was the enactment of a law legalising the re-marriage of Hindoo widows. Grant himself took charge in the legislative council of the bill which had been drafted under his instructions, and passed it through the council in 1856. As a member of the legislative council he gave evidence not only of his powers as a forcible and luminous writer, for which he had long been distinguished, but of oratorical capacity seldom displayed by Indian officials.

Grant was still a member of the governor-general's council when, in 1857, the Indian mutiny broke out. In August Lord Canning appointed Grant lieutenant-governor of the country about Allahabad and Benares, in the place of John Russell Colvin [q.v.],who was shut up in Agra, and who died there on 9 Sept. His district was styled the Central Provinces. In this arduous position he acquitted himself ably, keeping on good terms with military authorities, and giving unity and direction to the efforts of the civil officials. He especially exerted himself to keep open communications along the grand trunk road and to prepare supplies for the European troops when they should advance from Bengal. When in the spring of 1859 Sir Frederick Halliday resigned the post of lieutenant-governor of Bengal, Grant was chosen his successor on 1 May. During his government active measures were employed against dacoity, the system of bond-labour in the rice cultivation of the Sonthal Parganas was abolished, the raids of the Bhutias on our northern frontier and of the wild hill tribes of the district of Chittagong, the rebellions of the Khasias and of the Khands, were put down by armed force, and the danger of any recurrence of these outrages minimised by vigorous administrative reforms. But the most important matter with which Grant had to deal was that of the indigo riots in Lower and Central Bengal, where the system of cultivation in force had given rise to trouble so far back as 1810. In 1861 the disputes between the planters and cultivators of the crop reached a stage so critical as to occasion Lord Canning for a brief period more anxiety than he had felt since the days of Delhi. The credit of averting a most serious agrarian rising must be accorded to the clear perception, impartiality, and judicious measures of Grant, and to the resolution with which he adhered to them through a storm of obloquy in India and England. On 14 March 1862 he was made K.C.B., and in April he finally retired from the service and left India.

Grant's public life would probably have ended with his retirement had not an extra-ordinary emergency recalled him to office. In 1865 the rising in Jamaica and the rigorous measures taken to suppress it by the governor, Mr. Edward John Eyre, caused much excitement in England. It was felt that Eyre's successor must be an exceptional man, and in 1866 Grant was appointed to the post. He assumed charge of his office on 5 Aug. Immediately after his arrival he had to take measures which amounted to a complete revolution in the political and legal status of the island. The representative assembly was abolished and its place taken by a legislative council consisting of the governor, six official, and three non-official members. The church of England in Jamaica was disestablished. The revenue, judicial, and police systems were reorganised, and radical reforms introduced into every branch of the administration. The chronic deficit, amounting in 1865 to 80,656/., was converted in the course of two years into an annual surplus, and when he relinquished the government in 1873 he left the colony in a prosperous condition. He was created G.C.M.G. on 9 March 1874.