Sivut kuvina

Historical Affairs.


Letter from Lord Minto to the Governor of Mudias.


(Concluded from our last. p. 146 )
HE next complaint is the release of
Lient.-Col. Munro.

When an army steps so far aside from the path of its proper legitimate duties, as to become the instrument of party, to mix in political views, and to undertake the removal of governors or ministers, we should have expected that any grievance they should adduce in support of a proceeding to foreign to their own character, should consist at least in some act of grievance and intolerable oppression. The measure which is the subject of this complaint is, on the contrary, an act of grace and justice. It is not the unjust arrest of any officer for purpases of oppression and vengeance, but it is the relief of an officer, amongst the most respected in the army, from the most tyrannical and detestable abuse of power by which an innocent and highly meritorious individual was ever oppressed.

We shall ever consider the prosecution of Col. Munro, and the part which Lieut.general Macdowall bore in that transac tion, as acts of extreme injustice, so far as they relate to the individual who was the subject of them. But these measures were not less culpable in other points of view. Both the advice which Lieut.-Col. Munro gave to abolish the tent contract, which we consider as the real object of the proceeding, and the memorial conveying that advice, a few lines in which were made, without any imaginable foundation, the ostensible ground of the charges preferred against him had been not merely approved, but applauded by every authority to which they could officially be submitted; by Sir J. Cradock, commander in chief of the ar my of which the accusers of Col. Munro are officers; by the governor and council of Fort St George, who hold the supreme military authority under which those officers served; by the commander in chief in India, to whom, as officers, they owed implidt reverence and respect; and, lastly, by the governors-general in council, the supreme and highest British authority in the East. To charge either the measure which had been adopted under these authorities, of the reasons upon which it was recomMarch 1810,

mended, and which had been sanctioned and approved by the same authorities, as "base and infamous crimes," was a studied insult offered by those officers, and by Lieutenant general Macdowall, who supported and co-operated with them, to every authority which it was their duty to respect. This proceeding aimed also distinctly at withdrawing the management and direction of all military arrangement, regarding the regulation and economy of the army, from the legal authority of government, in order to place it, in the shape of courtsmartial, under the direction of the officers of the army themselves. Lieut.-colonel Munro was the nominal culprit, and the articles were to bear the absurd, and for that reason we must believe, the collusive and pretended accusation against him of calumny and slander; but the tent contract, or rather its abolition, was in effect to be the subject (for no other substantial subject existed) of the trial.

We should indeed have been surprised, as well as concerned, if any considerable part of the coast army had been prevailed upon to stain the pure and honourable character of their profession, by lending their countenance in any shape, or in any stage, to a proceeding stamped, as this prosecution was, with injustice and oppression, and founded in such motives as all the circumstances conspire to indicate.

But it is said, Colonel Munro was only to be tried, and if innocent, would have been acquitted-yet the memorialists themselves allege that he was already condenined" having incurred the suspicion of having acted in a manner that was most generally considered to have been criminal."—“ Having incurred_the_suspicion,” are mere words of form. The meaning of the passage is a positive assertion, that Lieu. tenant-colonel Munro had acted in a manner that was most generally considered to have been criminal-we assume this to be the meaning of the passage, because there was no question concerning the facts.

It is difficult to imagine, that such a charge as that which was preferred against Lieut.-colonel Munro, should have rested only on a vague report, and that the officers who signed should not have used all the means in their power to obtain the perusal of a paper on which they meant to found an accusation of libel. We must, there

therefore, presume that the memorial on the tent contract was in the hands of those who charged its author with defamation. From that memorial, therefore, never denied nor disavowed by Lieut. colonel Munro, and capable of certain and easy proof, is to be collected-" the manner in which he had acted," and if that manner of acting was already most generally accounted criminal, sentence was already passed, so far as faith can be given to the memorial intended to be presented to this government. We trust, however, more in the honour of the army than in the party feelings of the memorialists, and we hope they were top sanguine in their expectations of so unjust a sentence. But although the acquittal of Lieutenant-colonel Munro must be supposed possible, it was not fit that such an officer should be brought to the bar as a criminal for his honest services. It was not fit that the mode of providing carriage for the camp equipage of the army, approved and adopted as it had been by all the legal authorities in India, should be appealed from those authorities to a board of officers. It was not fit that this first step should pass, without opposition, in the process of usurping the regulation of the army from government to the officers of the army. It was not becoming that the supreme government, the commander in chief of India, the governor of Fort St George, and the late commander in chief of that presidency, Sir J. Cradock, should hold up their hands as culprits before a tribunal of officers sitting in judgment upon the delibe. rate measures of their government.

The whole proceeding was monstrous, and we repeat, in the strongest terms, our warmest approbation of your just, legal, and indispensible interposition on that occasion, to vindicate the honour of your go vernment, and to shield one of your best and ablest servants from an arbitrary and oppressive abuse of power. If you had omitted to do so, you would have failed in the most sacred duties of your high station, and would have merited, because you would have sanctioned, that long train of insult and encroachment which was to follow, and of which the prosecution of Lieut.-colonel Munro would have proved to be on. ly the first experimental step.

It is admitted that the warrant to hold courts-martial is addressed to the commander-in-chief; and we deem his authority exclusive in that branch of the public administration. But the abuse of a legal power is illegal; and the supreme military controul of the governor in council extends, in our judgment, and beyond all doubt, to the prevention of such abuses. This does not suppose an habitual and indiscriminate

interference. We assert only for the government of Fort St George, a right and a legal power to come, in extraordinary cases, to the support of their own authority, and against seditious encroachments, combined with the oppression of innocent men, by a gross abuse of the power confided to the commander-in-chief, in the direction of military prosecutions.

This is not a question in which the offi cers of the army could be justified to interfere. It concerns the extent of your legal powers, under the constitution of your government, upon which they cannot sit in judgment. If the commander in chief, Lieut.-general Hay Macdowall, differed with you, as he affects to do, on that point, he might have properly stated it to the court of directors, and to his majesty's government, for their decision; but, when he appealed that question to the army, which is subject to your authority in India, as he did by his general order of the 28th Janu ary, he carried that controversy to a tribunal, the incompetence of which he well knew, and before which, the agitation of such a question, as it could tend to no useful conclusion, so it could hardly fail to kindle animosity and excite discord, tending assuredly to some mode or other of public disorder, and perhaps eventually to military insubordination, and mutiny itself; tress were sure to fall first and heaviest on in the progress of which, calamity and dishis own friends and associates.

It purports to be a reprimand to Lieut.colonel Munro; but substantially it conveys in every line a reprimand to the government of Fort St George; and that reprimand is addressed to the army subject to its authority. The subject matter of the censure, passed ostensibly on Colonel Munro, renders it inseparable from a censure on the government. The offence charged upon that officer, in his appeal to the president in council, from an arrest imposed upon him by the commander in chief, and the general order itself, informs the army, that the appeal which is the subject of proof, but by the protection of govern. his reprimand, was followed, not by the re


Lieut.-colonel Munro had exhausted all the means he possessed of obtaining relief from the commander in chief himself. This it was his duty to do in the first instance. But when justice was denied in that quarter, and when the hand of persecution pressed close upon him, we were decidedly of opinion that he had a right to claim the protection of the supreme military authority, which is vested by law in the governor in council of Fort St George.

That the government of Fort St George

is not restrained by law from this particular exercise of the supreme military powers which it possesses, was acknowledged by Lieut.-general Macdowall himself, since he obeyed their order for the release of Lieutenant colonel Munro. If that order had not only been an undue encroachment on his own authority as commander in chief, but had been beyond the legal and competent powers of those who issued it, he would not have been bound to obey it, as he distinctly professed himself to be.

The government of Fort St George did not exceed, therefore, their legal powers; and the only question that could be made was, whether they exercised them properly in this particular instance. On that point, undoubtedly, the government of Fort St George is subject to the responsibility which is inseparable from the exercise of all delegated authority. But to what tribunal were they amenable? Where was it proper? Where was it for the public interest, that Lieut.-general Macdowall should carry his appeal? To the army of Fort St George, or to the king and court of direc


That he should convey this question to the army in the shape of a reprimand to Lieutenant-colonel Munro, appears to be in contradiction to his own sentiments on the subject, as we have just stated them, for, if the government of Fort St George had a legal power to release Lieutenantcolonel Munro, it could not be criminalit could not, in any mode or degree, he culpable-it could not incur the penalty of a feprimand-but it was his clear right and privilege to claim the legal and competent protection of government from the oppression of the commander in chief.

From the whole of the preceding discus. sion, you will naturally infer, that we con sider the offences charged against those of ficers whom you have judged it necessary to suspend, or to deprive of their appointments and commands, fully justifying the respective degrees of punishment which you have allotted to them.

The local means and advantages which you possess, as well as the great delicacy of the inquiry, have necessarily placed the application of these principles to individuals, and the investigation of particular cases, under your exclusive cognizance; and we have only to express that entire confidence, which is due to your station and characters, in the justice and impartiality, not less than in the vigilance and activity of your proceedings, in a scrutiny so peculiarly circumstanced.

We observed with satisfaction, that the general tenor of the replies to the circular letter addressed by Major general Gowdie,

to the officers commanding at the several stations of the army, confirm the opinion which we have expressed of the loyalty of the major part of the officers of your establishment.


In assuring you, therefore, of the firm support of this government, in maintaining a contest which involves all that is most dear to our sovereign and country, if, contrary to our ardent desire and sanguine hope, any future call should yet be made on the power and energy of your government which may require our aid. We will conclude, however, with expressing our fondest wish and expectation, that the late afflicting agitations should subside in a calm and reasonable reliance on the wisdom and justice of the high authorities to which the transactions of this troubled period have been advocated, and in those demonstrations of respect and obedience, which are due not more to your station, than to the faithful and honourable discharge of all your public but difficult duties, which, in our opinion, has eminently distinguished the present government of Fort St George.

Such a result will be most acceptable to us, most accordant with our views of the public interest, and most congenial with those sentiments of affection and respect towards the army of the coast, which we cordially profess, and remain assured that we shall never have reason to renounce. We have the honour to be, honoured Sir, your most obedient humble servants, MINTO.

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$,000,000 of dollars, a loan will be necessary to make up the deficiency, it proceeds thus:

"This state of the treasury had been anticipated; and, for that reason, an increase of duties had been respectfully submitted in the last annual report. But should that measure be now adopted, it would no, on account of the terms of credit allowed for the payment of duties, supersede the necessity of a loan for the service of the year 1810, commensurate with the extent of those establishments, and with the appropriations which may be made for their support by Congress. No precise sum is suggested, since this must vary according to the plans which may be adopted in relation to foreign nations, and will particularly depend on the decision of Congress on the question of war or peace. It is sufficient to state that, if the actual expenditure of the year 1810, for all militury and naval purposes, should be estimated at the same sum which was disbursed by the Treasury for these objects during the year ending on the 30th of September 1809, and exceeding, as above stated, six millions of dollars, the deficiency, accord. ing to the preceding estimates, would amount to three millions; on which suppo sition, it would seem prudent, in order to provide against any deficiency in the receipts, beyond what has been estimated, to authorise a loan of four millions of dol. lars. In the event of war, the necessity of rendering it efficient, and of calling for that purpose into action all the resources of the country, is too obvious to require any comment. On that subject nothing will at this time be added by this department to the suggestions respectfully submitted in the two preceding annual reports. I.oans reimbursable by instalments, and at fixed periods, after the return of peace, must constitute the principal resource for defraying the extraordinary expences of the war. For the support of public credit, the basis on which rests the practicability of obtaining loaus on reasonable terms, it appears necessary that the revenue should, in the meanwhile, be equal to the interest on the public debt, including that on the new loans, and to all the current expences of Government, calculated on a peace establishment, or, for the present, to about eight millions of dollars. An immediate and considerable increase of the existing duties will, it is believed, be requisite for that purpose, in order to cover the defalcation which a maritime war must necessarily produce in a revenue al most exclusively depending on commerce. That increase appears preferable, in the present situation of the United States, to

any other source of taxation, and is not, in time of war, liable to the objection of its encouraging smuggling. It is only in the event of that revenue being still more affected by a war than is apprehended, that a resort to internal taxes, either direct or indirect, may become necessary.

"If war should not be resorted to, it does not appear requisite, unless Congress should resolve on a permanent increase of the military and naval establishments in time of peace, to lay at present any addi tional duties beyond a mere continuance of the two and a half per cent. known under the name of " Mediterranean Fund."

The report next proceeds to some calculations upon the probable expences of 1811, and concludes thus

"Whatever may be the decision of Congress in other respects, there is a subject which seems to require immediate atiention. The provisions adopted for the purpose of carrying into effect the non-intercourse with England and France, particularly as modified by the act of last session, under an expectation that the orders of Council of Great Britain had been revoked, are inficient, and altogether inapplicable to existing circumstances. It will be sufficient to observe, that exportation by land is not forbidden, and that no bonds being required from vessels ostensibly employed in the coasting trade, nor any authority vested by the law which will justify detention, those vessels daily sail for British ports, without any other remedy but the precarious mode of instituting prosecutions against the apparent owners. It is unnecessary, and it would be painful, to dwell on all the effects of those violations of the laws. But without any allusion to the efficiency or political object of any system, and merely with a view to its execution, it is incumbent to state, that, from the experience of the two last years, a perfect cunviction arises that either the system of restriction, partially abandoned, must be reinstuted in all its parts, and with all the provisions necessary for its strict and complete execution, or that all the restrictions, so far at least as they affect the commerce and navigation of the citizens of the United States, ought to be removed. All which is respectfully submitted.

"ALBERT GALLATIN, Secretary to the Treasury. "Treasury Department, Dec. 9, 1809.” Correspondence between the British Minister and the American Secretaries, which accompanied the President's late message to Congress.

The 1st of these documents is a letter from Mr Erskine to the American secretary of

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of state, relative to the refusal of the British government to ratify Mr Erskine's agreement;-21, Mr Smith's answer;-3d, Letter from Mr Erskine to Mr Smith, on the same subject ;-4th, Letter from Mr Gallatin to Mr Erskine, relative to the colonial trade;-5th, Mr Erskine's reply ;The 6th commences the more important discussions, and is as follows:

Mr Secretary Smith to Mr Jackson. Department of State, October 9, 1809. Sir,-An arrangement, as to the revocation of the British orders in council, as well as to the satisfaction required in the case of the attack on the Chesapeake frigate, has been made in due form by the government of the United States with Mr Erskine ; and after it had been faithfully carried into execution on the part of this government, and ander circumstances rendering its effects on the relative situation of the United States irrevocable, and in some respects irreparaMe, his Britannic Majesty has deemed it proper to disavow it, to recal his minister, and to send another to take his place.

in such a state of things, no expectation could be more reasonable, no course of proceeding more obviously prescribed by the ordinary respect due to the disappointed party, than a prompt and explicit explana tion, by the new functionary, of the grounds of the refusal, on the part of his govern ment, to abide by an arrangement so solemnly made accompanied by a substitution of other propositions.

Under the influence of this reasonable expectation, the president has learned, with no less surprise than regret, that in your several conferences with me you have stated

1st, That you have no instructions from your government, which authorise you to make any explanations whatever to this government, as to the reasons which induced his Britannic Majesty to disavow the arrangements lately made by your predeces sor; and that, therefore, you could not make any such explanations.

24, That in the case of the Chesapeake, your instructions only authorise you (with out assigning any reason whatever why the reasonable terms of satisfaction tender ed and accepted have not been carried into effect) to communicate to this government a note tendering satisfaction; with an understanding that such note should not be signed and delivered by you, until you should have previously seen and approved the proposed answer of this government; and that the signing and deli very of your note, and of the answer of this government, should be simultaneous.

3d, That you have no instructions which

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I. That the act of congress, commonly called the non-intercourse law, be continued against France, so long as she shall continue her decrees.

II. That the navy of Great Britain be authorised to aid in enforcing the provisions of the said act of congress.

III. That the united states shall explicit. ly renounce, during the present war, the right of carrying on any trade whatever, direct or indirect, with any colony of any enemy of Great Britain, from which they were excluded during peace; and that this renunciation must extend, not only to the trade between the colony and the mother country, but to the trade between the colony and the United States.

Mr Smith, after expressing a wish to be corrected if his statements be wrong, requests that all communications in future should be in writing.

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Washington, Oct. 11,

In answer to the above letter, which we have given entice, as it contains the groundwork of the misunderstanding between Mr Jackson and Mr Smith-the remonstrance of the former, though firm, is very respectlul; he says—

As to the expectation entertained here, that the explanation of his Majesty's share in this transaction should be made through me, I might content myself with simply observing, that I was not provided with instructions to that effect, because it was known that the explanation in question had already been given. But it accords with the sentiments of his Majesty towards this country to observe also, that he considered, that, as some time must necessarily elapse between my appointment and my entrance on the duties of my ministry, it would be a more friendly mode of proceeding, to state, without delay, and through the chan nels I have already mentioned, the motives that compelled his Majesty to disavow his agreement, than to leave the American Government in uncertainty, in these respects, till the unavoidably protracted period of my arrival in America. I say this

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