An Empire of Opinion
Less than two months after his education dispatch was canceled by John Hobhouse, Mill wrote a political dispatch that caused the president of the Board of Control considerable concern. This dispatch, drafted in January 1837, was in response to an outbreak of violence in the state of Jaipur. The British had signed a treaty of alliance with Jaipur in 1818 in which they agreed to secure the Rajput state against external threats but not to interfere in its internal affairs. Intrigues at the durbar of Jaipur had made it difficult for the British to abide by the latter provision of the treaty. A council of regents headed by the queen mother and her favorite, Jhota Ram, held only nominal sway over some of the turbulent districts of the state.
Matters came to a head when Raja Jai Singh died under suspicious circumstances and the faction led by Jhota Ram assumed control of the infant successor to the gaddi, or throne. Governor-General William Bentinck decided to intervene by expelling Jhota Ram from Jaipur and sending in a military force to occupy the turbulent districts. Shortly thereafter, in 1835, the ranking British official was assaulted in Jaipur, and one of his assistants was murdered by men associated with Jhota Ram. 1 British officials in India were at odds about how best to respond to the situation. The acting governor-general, Charles Metcalfe, decided to reverse Bentinck's course of action by intervening as little as possible. Metcalfe preferred preserving a national government in Jaipur, but a member of his council, H. T. Prinsep, argued against reversing Bentinck's strategy. The British, Prinsep insisted, had to act decisively to redeem their honor and to restore order in the area. Mill's dispatch was emphatic in siding with Metcalfe.