Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.
An Episode. — Grey sends Troops, etc., to India
Grey sends Troops, etc., to India.
Grey was never parochial, and the strands of his variegated career were continually being crossed by threads from the Motherland or from other provinces of the Empire. In August, 1857, he professed to have received from Lord Elphinstone, Governor of the province of Bombay, a despatch informing him of the outbreak of the mutiny in India. As the Governor of Bombay and the High Commissioner of the Cape could have no official relations with one another save through the Home Government, the term 'despatch' is obviously inaccurate. The fact remained, and it was grave. Grey at once realised the gravity of the situation as neither the Governor-General of India nor the English Ministry realised it. His action was prompt and decisive. A man-of-war then lying in Table Bay was at once sent to India, two batteries of the Royal Artillery stationed at Capetown were also sent, and with them were sent ammunition, military stores, and some horses, including the Governor's own carriage horses. Grey's public-spirited action received the warm approval of Queen Victoria. "I hear," wrote Monekton Milnes, afterwards Lord Houghton, "the Queen is in great admiration of Sir George Grey, at the Cape, having sent his carriage horses to India and going afoot.'' Grey had no more power to despatch the man-of-war than the Governor of New South Wales would have to despatch to India the British squadron anchored in Sydney Harbour. It is also doubtful whether he had—indeed, it is hardly doubtful that he page 116had not—power to despatch the Royal Artillery, and it is certain that, in the eyes of the Home Government, he incurred Talleyrand's reproach of trop de zèle. Posterity will not ratify the judgment. The verdict of history will be that, if he acted ultra vires, he was justified in so acting. His action was that of a statesman and a patriot.