Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Campbell, George (1824-1892)
CAMPBELL, Sir GEORGE (1824–1892), Indian administrator and author, born in 1824, was the eldest son of Sir George Campbell of Edenwood, near Cupar, Fifeshire, by Margaret, daughter of A. Christie of Ferry bank. The elder Sir George, brother of John, first Baron Campbell [q. v.], was for some time assistant surgeon in the East India Company's service. He was knighted in 1833 in consideration of his active services in preserving the peace in Fifeshire during the reform riots. He died at Edenwood on 20 March 1854.
The younger Sir George was, at the age of eight, sent to the Edinburgh New Academy. After two years there he went for three years to Madras College, St. Andrews. He then spent two sessions at St. Andrews University. Having obtained a nomination for the East India Company, he entered at Plaileybury, where, during two years, his chief subjects were history, political economy, and law. He embarked for India in September 1842, in company with his two brothers, Charles and John Scarlett Campbell.
George Campbell became in June 1843 assistant magistrate and collector at Badaon, liohilcund, in the north-west provinces. In 1845 he was promoted to the joint magistracy of the district of Moradabad. He very early began to study land tenures, and to confirm his knowledge by intercourse with the villagers. In May 1846 he was given temporary charge of Khytul and Ladwa in the eastern part of the Cis-Sutlej States, the latter district being newly annexed from the Sikhs. He remained in the Cis-Sutlej territory for five years. Having settled Ladwa, he was despatched to the Wadnee district, between Loodiana and Ferozepore. He then carried out the annexation of the Nabha and Kapoorthalla territories and the occupation and settlement of Aloowal, and, having been sent back to Khytul and Ladwa, did good service in finding and conveying supplies for the troops in the second Sikh war. In the early part of 1849 Campbell contributed to the 'Mofussilite,' a well-known Indian paper, some letters signed 'Economist,' urging upon Lord Dalhousie the annexation of the Punjab, but, in opposition to the views of Sir H. Lawrence, limiting further extension within the line of the Indus. The views advocated were in their main lines carried out. After the annexation of the Punjab, Campbell was promoted to the district of Loodiana, having also charge of the Thuggee department of the Punjab. Shah Sujah, ex-ruler of Afghanistan, was under his care. A recrudescence of Thuggee was checked and dacoity successfully dealt with. Owing to ill-health Campbell, in January 1851, left Calcutta for Europe on long furlough.
During his three years' absence from India Campbell was called to the English bar from the Inner Temple in 1 854, and was appointed by his uncle (then lord chief-justice) associate of the court of queen's bench. He gave evidence before the committee of inquiry which was held previous to the renewal of the East India Company's charter, in view of which he published in 1852 a useful descriptive handbook, 'Modern India.' In the following year he also issued 'India as it may be,' a long pamphlet setting forth his view of needful reforms.
Having married, Campbell returned to India with his wife in June 1854. He went back to the north-west provinces as magistrate and collector of Azimghur in the province of Benares. Early in 1855 he was made commissioner of customs for Northern India and assistant to John Russell Colvin [q. v.] in the general government of the provinces. Ijater in the year he became commissioner of the Ois-Sutlej States, 'the appointment of all others I most coveted.' Nominally under Sir John Lawrence, he held in reality an almost independent position. His policy was to leave the native states alone so long as they were well managed. In March 1 857 he was offered the secretaryship to the government of the north-west provinces. Before, however, he could take over his new duties the mutiny broke out. Incendiary fires had already occurred at Umballa. the seat of his late administration, and in an interview at Simla on 1 May with General Anson (then commander-in-chief in India) Campbell impressed upon him their importance and his knowledge of communication among the sepoys. Unable to reach his new post at Agra owiiig to the mutiny, he remained at his old post at Umballa. Thence he forwarded to the 'Times' an interesting series of letters on the course of the mutiny, under the signature of 'A Civilian.' Campbell was the first to enter Delhi after its capture. On 26 Sept., as provisional civil commissioner, he joined the column pursuing the mutineers. Subsequently he went with the troops to the relief of Agra. During the pursuit of the rebels, he rode ahead of the troops and accidentally captured three of the rebels' guns, the gunners thinking him to be leading a body of cavalry.
After a short stay at Agra he accompanied Sir Hope Grant's force to the relief of Cawnpore and Lucknow (26 Oct.) On arrival at the former place, however, his functions as civil commissioner ceased, and he was soon afterwards ordered to Benares as adviser to (Sir) John Peter Grant [q. v. Suppl.] In a final contribution to the 'Times' signed 'Judex,' Campbell insisted upon the absence of concerted rebellion among the Mohammedans, and declared that he had been unable to find any proof of the alleged atrocities committed upon white women. Leaving Benares for Calcutta at the end of November 1857, he was employed by the Governor-general (Lord Canning) to write an official account of the mutiny for the home authorities. Campbell subjoined a recommendation to reorganise the northwest provinces on the Punjab system. After Colin Campbell's capture of Lucknow, Campbell was ordered there as second civil commissioner of Oude. He also for a time had charge of the Lucknow district, and was entrusted with the restoration of order and the care of the Oude royal family. He was not always in harmony with the policy of Lord Canning. In his annual report for 1861 he contended for a system of tenant right, and thus initiated a controversy which became acute under Lord Elgin's viceroyalty, and was not settled till 1886, when the Oude Landlord and Tenant Law was passed. Lord Lawrence supported Campbell's views, which in the main prevailed. Campbell visited England in 1860, and after returning to Lucknow he, in 1862, introduced into Oude the new Indian codes of civil and criminal procedure and the penal code. In the same year he was appointed by Lord Elgin a judge of the newly constituted high court of Bengal. His judicial duties, which were confined almost entirely to the appellate courts, were not heavy, and he was employed by the viceroy, Lord Lawrence, on special missions to Agra to inquire into the judicial system of the north-west provinces. His recommendations were the foundation on which the new high courts were established in 1865. His legal investigations were embodied in 'The Law applicable to the new Regulation Provinces of India, with Notes and Appendices,' 1863, 8vo.
While at Calcutta Campbell devoted much time to his favourite study of ethnology. After a long tour in India in 1864-5 he published 'The Ethnology of India' and a pamphlet called ' The Capital of India, with some particulars of the Geography and Climate of that Country,' 1865, in which Nassik, near Bombay, was recommended as a suitable site for a new capital. In 1866 he visited China, and on his return was sent to Orissa as head of a commission to report upon the causes of the recent severe famine (the most serious in Bengal since 1770) and the measures taken by the local administrators. The report of 1867 was unfavourable to the Bengal officials. It recommended improved transport and means of communication, increased expenditure and security of tenure for cultivators. Campbell himself was entrusted with the compilation of a supplementary report on former famines, and on changes of administration needed to meet future ones. In the spring of 1867 he left India to collect materials at the India office in London. On his return in the autumn he was appointed chief commissioner of the central provinces, where in his own words he went to work 'in new broom style.' He nominally held the post for three years, but in 1868 his health broke down and he went to England on long furlough.
During a two years' absence from India Campbell stood for Dumbartonshire as an advanced liberal, but retired before the polling day. He also made two tours in Ireland to study the land question, the outcome of which was 'The Irish Land,' 1869, in which were advocated the tenant-right principles embodied in the land acts of 1870 and 1881. For the Cobden Club series on land tenure he also published in 1870 a volume on 'Tenure of Land in India.' New editions appeared in 1876 and 1881. He was created D.C.L. of Oxford on 22 June 1870. Having been somewhat unexpectedly offered the lieutenant-governorship of Bengal, he sailed for India in January 1871. Lord Mayo, then viceroy, was in sympathy with his views, and Campbell was appointed to carry out the changes he had recommended in the supplemental Orissa report. He obtained the assistance as secretary of Mr. (afterwards Sir Charles) Bernard, and of his own brother, Charles Campbell. The influence of Sir John Strachey also stood him in good stead. The most important measure of Campbell's administration was the district road act, in which taxation was raised for local purposes on local property. The measure was very successful in spite of the opposition of the Bengal officials. A system of regular collection of statistics was also initiated, and the first properly conducted census of Bengal was taken in 1871. Campbell also gave great attention to education. He extended the village school system of Sir John Peter Grant and established competitive examinations for the admission of natives into the Bengal service. A medical school founded for them at Calcutta bears Campbell's name. Campbell believed in technical and physical training rather than in legal and literary.
During his term of office in Bengal a successful expedition was conducted against the Lushais, and the Garo Hills district (then unexplored) was annexed. Campbell deprecated in general prosecution for press offences, though he held an entirely free press to be inconsistent with oriental methods of government. After the assassination of Lord Mayo, the temporary viceroy, Francis, Lord Napier and Ettrick [q. v. Suppl.], continued his support to Campbell's reforms, but Lord Northbrook was not in harmony with his views, and vetoed a bill (which had passed unanimously the Bengal council) for re-establishing the rural communes. In dealing with the Bengal famine of 1873-4, however, there was no serious disagreement between the viceroy and the lieutenant-governor, with the notable exception of the refusal to sanction Campbell's proposed prohibition of the export of rice from Bengal. The system of relief by public works and of advances to cultivators was successfully carried out by Campbell, with the assistance of Sir Richard Temple, who succeeded him as lieutenant-governor. In the latter's opinion he knew more of the realities of famine than any officer then in India, and his views had great weight with the commission appointed after the Southern Indian famine of 1876-7.
Campbell finally left India in April 1874, partly on account of bad health, but partly also because he felt that he was not sufficiently in the confidence of the Indian government. In the preceding February he had been named a member of the council of India, but gave up the appointment in less than a year to enter parliament. He had been created K.C.S.I, in May 1873. Campbell presided over the economy and trade department at the Social Science Congress held at Glasgow in the autumn of 1874. In April 1875 he entered parliament as liberal member for Kirkcaldy, and sat for that constituency till his death. He took an active interest in foreign and colonial in addition to Indian questions. Unfortunately, through defects of voice and manner and a too frequent interposition in debate, Campbell soon wearied the house, and as a politician his failure was as complete as had been his success as an administrator in India.
In the welfare of native races Campbell always showed great interest. In the autumn of 1878 he went to the United States to make a study of the negro question. In 1879 he published his results in 'Black and White: the Outcome of a Visit to the United States.' Campbell also published 'A Handy Book on the Eastern Question,' 1876, 8vo, and a pamphlet, 'The Afghan Frontier,' 1879, 8vo. In 1887 he issued a volume entitled ' The British Empire.' He wrote on ethnological subjects in the 'Quarterly Ethnological Journal' and the 'Journal of the Bengal Asiatic Society,' and in 1874 he edited for the Bengal Secretarial Press 'Specimens of the Language of India, including those of the Aboriginal Tribes of Bengal, the Central Provinces, and the Eastern Frontier.' At the time of his death he was in Egypt, writing an account of his Indian career.
Campbell died at Cairo, from the effects of influenza, on 18 Feb. 1892, and was buried in the British Protestant cemetery there. He married in 1853 Lætitia, daughter of John Gowan Vibart, of the Bengal civil service, and left several children.
Campbell's 'Memoirs of my Indian Career' (2 vols. 1893, ed. Sir Charles Bernard) contains some severe criticism of Kaye's and Malleson's account of the mutiny from the point of view of a close spectator, as well as a valuable account of the progress of the tenant-right question in India, and the treatment of famines, with both of which Campbell's name will always be prominently associated.
[Memoirs of my Indian Career, ed. Bernard with portrait; Gent. Mag. 1854, ii. 75, 76; Sir R. Temple's Men and Events of my Time in India, chap, xviii.; Lucy's Diary of Two Parliaments and the Salisbury Parl.; Times, 19, 20 Feb. 1892; Men of the Time, 13th edit. Allibone's Dict. Engl. Lit. Suppl.]