Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/231

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against him in England on the first news of his Afghan policy was, except as to the proclamations, completely allayed upon the publication of the despatches in the Afghan Blue Book. Still, he had alienated almost every powerful interest in India except the army. His supersession of the 'politicals' offended both the civil service and the directors, who saw their field of patronage thus seriously reduced. Ellenborough for military reasons declined to adopt Lord Auckland's practice of favouring the Indian press with constant official communiqués, and of allowing his council to freely make known to it official matters. By a circular dated 26 May 1842 he enjoined all officials to preserve inviolable secrecy, and he even, from June 1842 till the capture of Cabul, kept all his correspondence with Nott and Pollock from the knowledge of his own council, because he could not trust them not to betray the secret. His council was highly indignant, the Indian press was furious, and English opinion in the press, in parliament, and among the directors of the company was prepared to expect the worst of Ellenborough, and to misconstrue all he might do.

His next measures were certainly questionable. He annexed Scinde, and he invaded Gwalior. With a view to the Afghan war, Lord Auckland had concluded treaties with the ameers of Scinde, by which free navigation of the Indus and the right to occupy certain points at its mouth and on its lower waters was secured to the East India Company. With the conclusion of the Afghan war these positions would be lost. Ellenborough had long coveted the complete opening, if not the possession, of the Indus. In the uncertain temper of the subjects of the ameers, it was doubtful if the troops could be withdrawn from their cantonments and the fact of evacuation be thus made patent, without provoking an outbreak and an attack. It was feared that the troops, if withdrawn at all, must cut their way out. Ellenborough seized on the fact that the ameers had not in all points fulfilled the treaty with Lord Auckland, and tendered to them fresh and more stringent terms. They were accused of treachery to the company, of which the guilt was doubtful and the evidence shadowy. Ellenborough found in Sir Charles Napier the weapon that he required. Sir Charles, in a campaign of the most brilliant temerity, conquered the whole country, and the governor-general annexed Scinde at a stroke, 26 Aug. 1842. This proceeding has been generally treated as an act of sheer rapine. It is pronounced to have been a war of aggression, resting upon no grounds of justice, and prompted by no motive but that of territorial greed. There is, however, no doubt of the value of the Indus as a highway for sea-going vessels into the heart of the Punjab, at a time when railway communications in India were still undreamt of, and sooner or later Scinde must have been occupied. The advocates of Ellenborough, like Sir William Napier, justify his policy on the ground that, however unjust Lord Auckland's treaties may have been, the ameers had broken them, and that therefore Ellenborough had nothing to do but to enforce submission at any cost. Others defend him on the ground of the bad government of the ameers.

In Gwalior the death of the maharajah on 9 Feb. 1843 had been followed, according to Mahratta custom, by the adoption by his widow of a successor, in the person of a child of eight years of age. For some weeks the new prince and Mama Sahib, the regent who carried on the government, were accepted without dispute; but in May the ranee's intrigues culminated in the downfall of the regent, and the state of Gwalior, well armed, and situated in the very heart of India, was on the verge of civil war. In November 1843 Ellenborough, who, after almost a year's absence from the seat of government, had at length taken up his residence at Calcutta, not in obedience to the complaints of the directors, but probably in deference to a private hint from Wellington, again proceeded up country to Agra, and joined the army under the command of the commander-in-chief. He laid down the doctrine, since generally accepted by all the successive governments of India, that the English government, as the paramount power of the peninsula, is concerned in the internal order even of independent states, and may justifiably interfere in the interest of the general peace, to repress misgovernment and disorder (see his minute, 1 Nov. 1843). War with the Punjab was imminent, and at the distance of only forty miles, Agra, one of the most important arsenals and military stations in India, was too near for safety to the turbulent Mahratta army, forty thousand strong. The English forces entered the Gwalior territory anticipating only a prompt submission. The Mahrattas boldly took the field, and only yielded after being defeated at Maharajpore on 28 Dec. In this battle Ellenborough was not only present, but, by an accident, and not as his enemies asserted, from mere hardihood, was exposed to the hottest fire, and narrowly escaped. By the treaty of 13 Jan. 1844, Gwalior, though not formally annexed, was virtually subjugated; the Mahratta army was disbanded, and the Gwalior contingent of ten