Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/223

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THE ANNEXATION OF OUDH, 1856. 219 Nana Sahib, inherited his accumulated savings, but could obtain no further recognition. Annexation of Oudh, 1856. — Lord Dalhousie annexed the Kingdom of Oudh on different grounds. Ever since the Nawab Wazfr, Shuja-ud-daula, received back his forfeited terri- tories of Oudh from Lord Clive in 1765, the existence of his dynasty had depended on the protection of British bayonets. Guarded alike from foreign invasion and from domestic rebellion, the line of Oudh Nawabs had sunk into private debauchees and public oppressors. Their one virtue was steady loyalty to the British Government. The fertile districts between the Ganges and the Gogra, which now support a denser agricultural popula- tion than almost any rural area of the size on this globe, had been groaning for generations under an anarchy for which each British Governor - General felt himself in part responsible. Warning after warning had been given to the Nawabs (who had assumed the title of Shah or King since 18 19) that they must put their house in order. What the benevolent Bentinck and the soldierly Hardinge had only threatened, was now performed by Lord Dalhousie, who united an equal honesty of purpose with sterner decision of character. He laid the whole case before the Court of Directors. After long and painful hesitation, the Court of Directors resolved on annexation. Lord Dalhousie, then on the eve of retiring, felt that it would be unfair to bequeath this perilous task to his successor in the first moments of his rule. The tardy decision of the Court of Directors left him, however, only a few weeks to carry out the work. But he solemnly believed that work to be his duty to the people of Oudh. ' With this feeling on my mind,' he wrote privately, ' and in humble reliance on the blessing of the Almighty (for millions of His creatures will draw freedom and happiness from the change), I approach the execution of this duty gravely and not without solicitude, but calmly and altogether without doubt.' Grounds of Annexation. — Accordingly, at the commence- ment of 1856, the last year of his rule, Dalhousie gave orders to General (afterwards Sir James) Outram, then Resident at the Court of Lucknow, to assume the administration of Oudh, on the ground that ' the British Government would be guilty in the