« PreviousContinue »
and how all these had been overcome by the strong will and the clear head of a born ruler of men. Had either of these wars, he declared, been conducted on our wretched system, the army would have perished to a man before it reached the scene of operations, or else arrived as a mere remnant of famished scarecrows. The cry had indeed arisen in England for the Company's generals-for men like Outram and Herbert Edwardes; for the men who, as Lord Metcalfe said of himself, never laid down their heads without thinking British India might be gone before morning.' Robert Lowe, however, had grave doubt as to whether the sending of even the best of these to a subordinate command in the Crimea would be of any use. The following letter, written at this time to Sir James Outram at Lucknow, may fitly close this chapter.
Robert Lowe to Colonel (Sir James) Outram.
34 Lowndes Square: June 15, 1855.
My dear Colonel Outram,-It gives me great pleasure to see your handwriting again and to know that you are, at least for the present, occupying a situation in which you are so eminently calculated to do good service to the public. I am very sorry to have been so remiss in answering the kind letter you were so good as to write me from Aden. The truth is, that just at the moment I scarcely felt justified in offering any opinion on the matter till I knew what would be decided by my master; and my resignation of office following shortly after, put the matter out of my head. I hope you will excuse my negligence. I read your paper on Aden with very great pleasure, and entirely agree with the views which it expresses, and which, indeed, I hope are adopted and will be acted upon by the Indian and Home Governments. [See Appendix.]
With regard to your duties at Lucknow, I never doubted the conclusion you would arrive at when you passed in review before you the abomination of that most detestable Government for which nobody but poor Mr. Sullivan had ever any good to say; but I do not feel altogether so certain as you do that the Indian Government, in case they adopt your recommendations, will feel it necessary to replace you by any other person. You have given too many proofs of great administrative talent to render it at all probable that such a conclusion will be arrived at. The Fates seem to have decreed that, with every desire to take part in the active operations of this
war, you will not be allowed to do so. I confess I should have regretted had you given up the Residency of Oude in order to take a command at Kars. You would have been encompassed by many difficulties, and would not, I think, have been likely to reap that fame which would have been the just reward of your labour. Nothing thrives under the detestable corruption of the Turkish Government, and I think our occupation of the Sea of Azoff and the evacuation of Anapa are likely to paralyse all efforts of Russia in that direction. The same cause will probably supersede the necessity of any expedition to the Persian Gulf. Were I able to dispose of you, I would send you with a small force into Mingrelia or Imeritia in order to raise, organise, and arm the inhabitants, to whose native energies I would trust far more than to the bastard civilisation of the Turks; and I believe if such a course were taken we should be in Tiflis before the end of the present campaign. But I have no power to help you in the matter, having broken off my connection with the Government, and holding a position which, though not hostile, is exactly one which requires me to be peculiarly abstinent from their concerns. Let me advise you to be content for the present with the very eminent position you now hold, and to wait patiently till the time comes when a man of action is really required by the Indian Government, when I feel convinced that your indisputable claims must ensure you the first offer of employment. I wish it were in my power to pay you a visit at Lucknow, but see very little reason to suppose that such a pleasure is in reserve for me. Give my kind regards to Mrs. Outram, in which my wife begs to join, and believe
My dear Colonel Outram,
Very truly yours,
Sir James Outram and the Arab Chiefs
THE following extracts from the letter written to Lord Sherbrooke by Sir James Outram on his return voyage to India, have been kindly forwarded by his son Sir F. B. Outram, Bart. :—
Aden: August 20, 1854.
I gave expression to the feelings of humiliation with which I could not but be impressed by such a record of bullying, blustering, vacillating and impotent diplomacy-if diplomacy it could be called-as our utterly futile negotiations with the Arab chieftains have displayed from first to last.
I could not have believed it possible that the Indian Government could have submitted to such insolent defiance, or patiently borne with such palpable discomfiture as it has here experienced; and the only way I can now account for it is by the supposition that it had become aware, when too late, that its demands on the chiefs, though perfectly just and indispensable in themselves, had been made in such a manner as precluded the possibility of their being complied with; for such I find to be the case, whether the Government had or had not become aware of the fact.
The Government had not, at any rate, been fully informed of the precise nature of late communications with the chiefs, and consequently of the real state of our present relations with them. It was my duty, therefore, to inform them on the subject, and, at the same time, in soliciting instructions for my guidance in the event of certain contingencies arising, to place before them a review of our past proceedings here, which contains revelations that must startle them, and will, I think, even surprise you, who are so little disposed to look for much that is praiseworthy from Indian officials.
It appears to be my fate to bring to the notice of my superiors what is most disagreeable to them, wherever they place me. But I cannot swerve from my duty even to preserve them from the unwelcome knowledge of my unpalatable truths. It is to solicit your early attention to that Report that I now address you, fearing that otherwise you may be deterred by the repulsive appearance of so voluminous a document. . . . I am afraid my letter to Sir Charles Wood may have led him to apprehend that I contemplated a departure from the pacific policy heretofore maintained. My Report will more clearly show my views, and under what circumstances alone-should they hereafter occur-would I pursue a less pacific course, and the extent to which I would limit hostile measures should they become necessary, and that under no circumstances would I advocate other than purely defensive operations, and those only within easy communication with our vessels, and such as would not embroil us with the tribes in the interior.
I remain, &c.,
Right Hon. R. Lowe.
AN AUSTRALIAN RETROSPECT
JUST before the outbreak of the war in the Crimea, Robert Lowe removed from Eaton Square to the house, 34 Lowndes Square, which remained his town residence till his death. It was on March 25, 1853, that he completed the purchase of the lease, and very shortly afterwards he entered into possession with his household gods. In later years the house in Lowndes Square became the centre of much that was brightest and best in English society. It was in that drawing-room that Lord Sherbrooke frequently exchanged ideas on government with Sir George Cornewall Lewis, and on Greek with the Master of Balliol, and where he greatly enjoyed the social intercourse with clever women, with whom he was always a prime favourite, from the Hon. Mrs. Norton of a past generation, to the Duchess of St. Albans and the Countess of Airlie of the present day.
But when Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lowe first installed themselves in their house in Lowndes Square, their Australian life was, so to speak, much nearer to them. Time and new faces had not then intervened between them and their former far distant home on the Pacific. Until the very last there was much in Lord Sherbrooke's London house that made even a stranger give a passing thought to the Antipodes. Around the walls hung the beautiful water-colour sketches by Mrs. Lowe of their former home at Nelson Bay; in one of the rooms swung in his cage the parrot that had been given to Mrs. Lowe by an hospitable squatter when they were wandering about the
bush in enforced idleness. But to the lord and master of the house there were many other things during those early years in which he first settled himself permanently in London, which must vividly have recalled his life in Sydney. In his library, among many handsome tomes, were the works of his favourite, Sir Walter, the political writings of Edmund Burke, the dearly loved, though afterwards much abused, classics-these had all travelled round the world with him. Also in these first years he received much Australian intelligence from the pen of his trusted and intimate friend in Sydney, the late William Macleay. At parting they had made a kind of loose compact that they would regularly exchange the experiences and impressions of their widely-sundered lives; and this was done as far as possible until Macleay's death in 1865. Of this correspondence but a very small portion has been preserved, and of that, only a mere fraction in any way concerns this narrative.
Like all men of that highly refined and cultured type, Macleay was of a reserved nature, as well as of very studious habits, and admitted few to the inner sanctuary of his feelings. But he had an affection, surpassing that of a brother, for Robert Lowe, and he felt also a great liking and admiration for the courage and wifely devotion of Mrs. Lowe. His beloved Elizabeth Bay was never to him altogether the same after the departure of the young English barrister and his wife who had so strangely dropped into the orbit of his retired existence. But Macleay was not perhaps the best correspondent to keep an active public man in England posted on colonial matters. That he should furnish regular budgets of political news, in which the aims and machinations of the various rival groups and pushing tricksters in the little Sydney legislature should be clearly set forth, was indeed an impossiblity. He could never bring his mind to take sufficient interest in the sayings and doings of such persons-at least not after Lowe had gone out from amongst them. One may imagine the kind of letters which Mr. Herbert Spencer would indite on the party