"The Company's Raj is ended! The English have been long in the country, but they know little of us!" Such were the oracular sentences—worthy of the first Napoleon—which fell upon the astonished ears of the officers of the 22d Bengal Native Infantry, when, one morning in June last, they found the usual relations of military discipline suddenly inverted, and themselves awaiting, from the mouth of a subadar, the doom so mercilessly inflicted on their compatriots at other stations. Happily the revolt was conducted at Fyzabad in a spirit which stands out in bright relief upon the gloomy mass of Sepoy treachery. Guards had been placed to prevent any pillage of public or private property. The former was taken possession of for the "King of Delhi," the latter was placed at the disposal of the officers. Boats were provided to convey them down the Gogra to the Ganges, and money offered to defray their charges; all which being despatched in the most business-like manner, the "grave subadar" turned out his guard, and bade adieu to his former superiors with the general salute! We trust that some way will be found of remembering the gentle Moslem's courtesies, should he arrive to meet his European friends again upon the ancient footing.
Meantime his words have found an echo in quarters which the subadar never dreamt of. We do not now allude to the Univers, whose rabid Popery shrieks with delight at Protestant suffering and humiliation; nor to that small portion of its Celtic co-religionists, whose pitiable insanity has earned the well-merited designation of Irish Sepoys. Even in England, where neither the press nor the public is wont, under the severest pressure, to give itself up to absolute forgetfulness of truth and right, a disposition has been manifested to traduce ourselves in respect to the government of our Indian Empire to an extent at once highly foolish and unjust. It is nothing new for us to perform with ostentatious publicity a piece of household work which other nations—like decent individuals—confine to their back premises. Our dirty linen is always hung out in the face of the world, and that gentleman and his wife formally invited to take notice of our determination to expunge every spot, pay what we may for salt and soda. The British public, in such moments of introspection, is eminently conscientious; it accuses itself with a prodigality of censure which would be ill borne from another quarter. Perhaps it ought rather to be said that one portion of it accuses the rest; for it must be owned that the public, like the private conscience, has a tendency to that most popular of all penances, the confession of other men's sins. In the Crimean troubles, the Secretary of the Admiralty acknowledged with edifying candour the shortcomings of the Horse Guards; and in the same spirit, a portion of the press has begun to prepare for a national whitewashing, by making a scapegoat of the East India Company.
Our Indian possessions (we are told) have been too long sacrificed to the commercial spirit of a mercantile corporation. The "double government" which impedes the development of a truly imperial policy must be swept away; the British nation will no longer tolerate the timid policy which, for the sake of gain, has deferred so shamefully to Hindoo idolatry, and obstructed the spread of civilization and Christianity in the East. It was a sin to permit a company of merchants to invade a distant continent, and go on adding province to province in the British name. This national offence must be now repaired by at once transferring the natives to the protection of the Crown, so allowing free scope for the intelligence and energy of Parliament to ameliorate their condition, and consolidate our power in the interests and affections of the indigenous races. Such is the language not unfrequently heard in circles that ought to be ashamed of the dense ignorance on which it is based. The Times, which claims to be the instructor of the public mind both in England and Europe, informed the world, at the close of the week in which our National Humiliation was performed, that "what is called public opinion, is taking in hand Indian affairs"—"a more public and responsible management is already resolved on; and when Parliament reassembles, it will treat the subject with as little reserve, and with as direct an appeal to the responsibility of the Minister, as it if were a purely domestic question." The same article talks of "the mysterious and unapproachable body which actually governs India," declaring "that no Minister will be henceforth permitted to throw on the shadow of a company or a board the responsibility of measures or neglects in which we are all as deeply concerned as in the welfare of our own metropolis."1
Now, it is only natural that those peers and representative of the nation, who have always emptied the benches of Parliament as if a grenade had been cast among them the moment an Indian question was mooted, or hailed the rising of the President of the Board of Control to open the Indian budget, as the most legitimate of dinner-bells, should be in utter ignorance of the actual government of India;—though this ignorance, unhappily, offers small impediment to the post-prandial eloquence which helps to confuse the minds of their constituents during the recess. The Times, however, is well aware that no portion of the national possessions is more directly under the control and administration of the Queen's ministers than British India is, and has been ever since the establishment of the Board of Control in 1784. The despatches, which bear the signatures of the Directors, and are dated from the East India House, are really the orders of the Queen's responsible minister, the President of the Board. If originated at the India House, they are jealously scrutinised and remorselessly altered by the President; whole paragraphs are struck out and others introduced, changing the entire tenor and effect of the original draft. Drafts, again, are freely originated by the President himself; and cases are not wanting when the Directors have been compelled to affix their signatures to a despatch altogether composed at the Board of Control, and from every word of which they earnestly dissented. So absolute is this power, that it has actually been enforced on the Directors by mandamus. Nay, the President often orders despatches to be signed by the "Secret Committee" (consisting of the Chairman, Deputy-Chairman, and one other Director, bound to secresy), which are transmitted to India without the knowledge of the Court of Directors. All the power, in short, which the East India Company or their Directors ever had in the political government of India, was to submit their opinions to the consideration of the Queen's ministers; and as the Company has always comprised the persons in England best acquainted with Indian affairs, this was, in effect, but to surround a minister, whom the exigencies of party politics often placed at the head of a department of which he was wholly ignorant, with sources of information which he would have sought for in vain in either House of Parliament.
A more substantial voice was possessed by the Company in the management of its commercial affairs, so long as it continued to be a corporation of merchants; but this character altogether disappeared at the parliamentary review of its charter in 1833-4. The Company then ceased to be a trading body; its commercial assets were transferred to the nation, subject to the fixed dividend payable on the capital stock; and the "East India Company" has since designated simply the holders of a certain species of public stock, who are privileged to elect the Directors to execute the function we have described in advising the Board of Control. This privilege, again, was considerably abridged at the review of 1853-4, when the number of Directors was reduced from twenty-four to eighteen, and the appointment of one-third of the body was lodged with the President of the India Board. This change may possibly have tended to shorten the discussion (if that be any advantage) of the President's measures; but it was certainly not required to give him absolute authority over the ultimate decision. Lord Ellenborough, when questioned on this point, answered, "While President of the Board of Control, I governed India." And Lord Broughton was not less explicit on the operations which, of all our military proceedings in India, admit of the worst defence: "I made the Affghan war," said that gentleman—whose qualifications for the post were not so much superior to Mr Vernon Smith's,—"the Court of Directors had nothing to do with it." Again, the Directors were not only not consulted in regard to the late Persian war, but the Company's troop's were ordered on that expedition, without their assent by the present Ministers of the Crown. In the face of these facts the public is urged to secure "a more public and responsible management of Indian affairs," by abolishing the Directors, whose function is has been to make the interests of India heard in the strife of party politics at home, and so occasionally to protect the natives from the ignorance or rashness of an inexperienced Minister of the Crown.
It is in the authorities of India itself, however, much more than in the Home Government, that the administration is practically lodged. Here, again, under the name of the East India Company, the Ministers of the Crown are absolutely and exclusively responsible. The Court of Directors have about as much to say to the appointment of their Governor-Generals, Governors, and Commanders-in-Chief, as a dean and chapter to the election of their bishop. The individual is first named by the President to "the chairs," and then her Majesty's approval is formally requested by the Directors for his appointment. Where there is a personal quarrel, as in the case of Sir C. Napier, the Directors may resist an appointment; but the effect is only to continue in power the previous nominee of the Crown, and even delay is at last overborne by the weight of the royal authority. Or, as in the case of Lord Ellenborough, the Directors can recall a Governor who drives them to that extremity of indignation; but he unwonted paroxysm only renders the Court more supple and obsequious towards the next nominee of her Majesty's Ministers. It is by the Governor-General, we say, and by the Governors and Commanders-in-Chief over whom he exercises supreme authority, far more than by despatches from home, that India is and must be ruled. The home despatches themselves arise out of their acts, proceed on their representations, and depend largely on their discretion in the carrying out, or modification, of the line of proceeding laid down in this country. The Governor-General, in fact, is invested by Parliament with legislative powers not accorded either to the Board of Control or the Court of Directors; and we suspect that when Lord Ellenborough wielded that authority, which has no equal in the world, save perhaps in the imperial crown of Russia, he discovered that he ruled India far more practically and extensively than while presiding at the Board of Control.
Now the only share accorded to the Court of Directors in the constitution of the Indian governments, is the nomination of a moiety of the Council with which the governors are to advise in the execution of their functions. The Supreme Council at Calcutta consists of the Governor-General, the Commander-in-Chief, and a legal member, nominees of the Crown, together with three of the civil or military servants of the Company, nominated by the Court of Directors. The Councils at Madras and Bombay are in like manner composed of two nominees of the Crown (the Governor and the Commander-in-Chief,) and two civil servants of the Company appointed by the Directors. In all cases the Governor has a casting vote: and he is further privileged, by simply entering a minute to that effect, to act in any matter on his own sole responsibility against the united opinion of the rest of the Council. These extensive powers it has been found necessary, from experience, to lodge in the persons selected by the Queen's Ministers to govern India; and it is far more likely they should be still further extended and consolidated, by uniting the offices of Governor and Commander-in-Chief, than abridged through any changes consequent on the present disturbances. The abolition of the Court of Directors, then, would only take away an existing check on the selection of the persons to administer these extensive powers in India, in order to vest the patronage exclusively in Downing Street and the Horse Guards.
It is strange that such a proposal should proceed from the very quarter which so vehemently censured the imbecility and corruption of the Government offices in the conduct of the Crimean war; stranger still that it should be based on the alleged determination of that "public opinion" which so short a time since called for the infusion of middle-class energy and intelligence into the affairs of Government. For this is precisely the function discharged by the East India Directors in the management of our Indian empire. They are themselves, to a man, sprung from the middle classes, being either City merchants or retired Indian officers, presenting a striking contrast to the "junior lords" who are supposed to aid the labours of the Premier and the head of the Admiralty. The patronage of the Director flows, in like manner, almost wholly to the middle classes. In their service there is neither purchase of commissions, nor the cold shade of aristocratic influence, to check the career of merit. Their civil and medical corps are now open to unrestrained competition, and their cadetships are bestowed on the sons of officers, clergymen, attorneys, surgeons, merchants, and even tradesmen, enabling many a gallant spirit to earn the highest distinction in India, who might have pined and died in obscurity before a way had opened to its aspirations through the avenues of Whitehall.2 For this reason, if for no other, we should venture to demur to the authority which has re-echoed in England, the short-sighted sentence of the deluded subadar at Fyzabad,—"the Company's Raj is ended."
The title and character of the British rule in India, even more than the authorities by which it has been administered, have likewise been made the theme of misrepresentation for which ignorance is no excuse. Before preachers or members of Parliament attempt to make a clean breast for the nation at the expense of the East India Company, they are bound to ascertain not only the authority really responsible for the alleged misdeeds, but the existence of the guilt they deplore. On this point, so lugubriously reiterated in our public confessions, we meet with nothing but empty declamation or insinuations ludicrously out of place. A senator in one place censures the East India company for having kept up an inordinate army, with the view of acquiring territory by unjust conquest; when it is matter of notoriety that our Indian possessions were mostly acquired by Governors-General, against the repeated injunctions and protests of the Company, and that the Indian armies are smaller, in proportion to the population and territory they have to defend, than that of the least warlike nations of the West. 3 At another time the people are called on to repent of the national guilt in displacing the ancient dynasties of India, and intruding a foreign government on the oppressed natives. It is no doubt very natural for speakers, who must be conscious they have bestowed no attention on the history or actual condition of British India, to be visited by misgivings that all is not right in a country where we are now subjected to such unheard-of calamities; but really some inquiry ought to be made into the fact before the sufferers are concluded to have been "sinners above all men."
Some account of the spirit in which our Indian possessions were really being governed at the moment of the Sepoy insurrection, appeared in Maga of December last; the rise and progress of the Sepoy rebellion was traced in September, and we shall now proceed to furnish the materials for a sounder judgment than "what is called public opinion" (to adapot the phraseology of the Times) would appear as yet to have been able to form on the question it professes to have "taken in hand."
So far from supplanting the ancient and legitimate rulers of India, it is a matter of history that no power retaining even the semblance of such a title existed in India when the foundations of our empire were laid. The Mohammedans, from whom our first acquisitions were made, were neither an indigenous, an ancient, nor a legitimate government. Their power rested neither on natural right, nor on possession consolidated by time and the consent of the natives. From the middle of the tenth century to the close of the twelfth, they were nothing but robbers invading the land in a succession of predatory expeditions, conducted by different tribes, and marked by ferocities greatly exceeding those of the Saxons in Europe. After Kutb-oo-deen had established a Mohammedan throne at Delhi in 1193, the land was equally far from finding rest under its shadow. Three Affghan or Patan dynasties succeeded one another, the advent of each being emblazoned in characters of blood and flame, till Tamerlane plunged all government again in destruction, killing 100,000 prisoners in cold blood before the walls of Delhi, and delivering up the city to incredible massacre and pillage, A.D. 1398. Out of the anarchy which ensued, two Mohammedan kingdoms arose in the Deccan— Golconda and Beejapore—wholly independent of the empire of Delhi. Bengal and Gujerat were also independent governments, and at war with their neighbors. The Mogul dominion was not founded till 1526, when Baber took Delhi; nor consolidated till 1686, when Aurungzebe subjugated Beejapore, and exhibited for the first time a single Mohammedan empire in India. Aurungzebe, whose personal character was detestable, and his long reign one series of bigoted persecution of Hindoo faith and worship, died in 1707; and the eleven succeeding years witnessed the violent ends of eleven princes of his blood, six of whom had attained, and the other five were competing for, the royal title. In the midst of these intestine commotions, Nadir Shah once more carried fire and sword through Hindustan, delivered up the city of Delhi to another indiscriminate massacre, and returned to Persia with treasure to the amount of twenty million of money.4 The Affghans broke in again after his retirement. The Mogul emperor was reduced to a puppet in the hands of his revolted feudatories, and incurable anarchy overspread the land. The Mahrattas were at the gates of Delhi twenty years before the battle of Plassey.
Our territories were really acquired, first, from the Nabob of Bengal, a revolted feudatory of the Great Mogul, who attacked us, while in the peaceable pursuit of commerce, in factories erected under the plighted protection of the Imperial Government, and perpetrated the massacre of the Black Hole;—secondly, in defending the Nabob of the Carnatic, in whose territory Fort St George was founded, against the usurpation of the Nizam assisted by the French;—thirdly, in chastising the unprovoked aggression of the Tippoo Sultan, who had deposed the Hindoo Rajah of Mysore and usurped his dominion;—fourthly, in repressing the Mahrattas, a Hindoo clan, who, originally driven by the persecutions of Aurungzebe to take refuge in the Western Ghauts, founded a state at Sattara, from which they issued in clouds of light-horse to levy chout tribute on every territory they could reach. These were, in effect, professed freebooters, and the tradition of their origin is still preserved in the domestic ceremonies of a Mahratta chief. On some occasions it is "custom" to send out his retainers to plunder some neighboring bazaar—paying, indeed, for the articles abstracted, and only seeking, by the fictitious robbery, to keep alive the memory of "the good old rule, the simple plan," which formed the glory of his ancestors. We are almost ashamed to be obliged thus to recall to English memories the character of the enemy whom Wellington defeated at Assaye. To talk of injustice in rescuing the population of India out of hands like these, is much like accusing the good Samaritan of man-stealing, for bearing away to the inn the exhausted victim of thieves and assassins.
It is perhaps not drawing too heavily on the memory of "what is called public opinion," to assume that it has not forgotten the Burmese, from whom we acquired the Tenasserim coast in 1824; or the Sikhs, who, having overrun the Punjab under Runjeet Singh, and been treated as British allies while their leader lived to restrain their audacity, poured across the Sutlej on his death, and, after the usual routine of defeat, treaty, breach of faith, renewed hostilities, and final conquest, have since reposed in great prosperity under the Company's Raj.
Exceptions may doubtless be taken to this summary statement of the growth of the British empire in India. We do not pretend that every part of its history is free from a charge that can be brought against every country in Europe; but we deny that any war of simple acquisition was ever undertaken, that any nationality was ever obliterated, any franchises destroyed, any injury or degradation afflicted on the natives.5
Our conquests, if they may be called so, have differed from all others in being limited to the assumption of the sovereign power, without violence to private rights or national institutions. When the Normans conquered England, a foreign nation was permanently intruded upon the native population. Castles, manors, and freeholds changed hands; the Saxon heiress was forcibly given in marriage to the Norman adventurer; the native bishops and thanes were ejected to make room for foreign prelates and barons. The whole constitution in Church and State was subverted, and the conquered race became the serfs of the conqueror. Similar were the effects of the Mohammedan invasion of India, and of the Spanish conquests in America. The British occupancy of India, we say, is altogether of another character. It plants no foreign colony in the land, invades no man's property, alters no public usage, civil or religious.6 Instead of reducing the conquered race to serfdom or bondage, it zealously uproots the slavery it found existing in the country. Far from subverting, it occupies itself in searching out, reestablishing, and enlarging, whatever popular rights existed in old times; while its every act of interference is designed to bestow, to educate for, yet higher advantages. The only charge alleged with any shadow of truth in this particular, is, that our Government has not yet secured for its native subjects all the benefits which a never-flagging zeal for civilisation and Christianity might have been able to develop. That it has deprived them of a single comfort or privilege—that it has not vastly improved their condition, both morally and materially,—are assertions never hazarded but by the most ignorant, as well as the most unnatural, calumniators of their country.
We propose to lay before our readers some few of the many facts which incontestably establish the character of British administration in India. And first as regards the native princes. India contains at this day upwards of two hundred Hindoo and Mohammedan potentates, exercising jurisdiction over territories more or less affected by our supremacy. Some are subsidiary, some protected, some independent—subject, therefore, in various degrees, to British interference, but even the latter class obliged to acknowledge us as the paramount State, and the sole arbitrator of peace or war. The total area of the native states is returned at 627,910 square miles, while British India covers 838,019 square miles, making respectively about 3-7ths and 4-7ths of the whole. These native rules comprehend the representatives of every dynasty, ancient or modern, which could on any pretext lay claim to authority; they may well be supposed ready to take advantage of the first opportunity to throw off a foreign and oppressive yoke. Nine months have now elapsed since symptoms of open discontent appeared in the Bengal army, and five since it broke out into a bloody revolt, and planted the Mohammedan flag upon the walls of Delhi. Our stations were never so bare of European troops. The native army has disappeared, or taken up arms against us; and the cruellest tortures—designed expressly to dishonour as well as to afflict—have been endured by our officers and their families, while England has as yet seemed powerless to avert or avenge them. How many injured princes, we ask, have appeared in the field to exult and assist in the destruction of their oppressor? How many subsidiary powers have rushed to secure their independence? How many independent allies have taken advantage of our moment of weakness to chase the foreigner out of the land? The answer to these questions is almost incredible. Not one native ruler has repaired to the standard of the Padishah at Delhi! The contingents of Hokar and Scindia have yielded to the mutinous example of our own Sepoys; but both those Maharajahs, though at the mercy of their troops, are firm to our cause, have protected our officers, and rendered most material assistance in keeping open the communications. Romours reach the Calcutta papers of apprehended intrigues by the old Begum of Bhopal, and some agitation has been manifested at Hyderabad. The latest intelligence reports all now quiet, and the Nizam (the most likely head of a Mohammedan rising) our friend; but nothing as yet implicates even these Mohammedan rulers in the "conspiracy," so gratuitously imagined in this country, against the British power. A few Nawaubs and Khans have robbed and murdered on their own account; but the high- spirited princes of Rajpootana, Malwa, Bundelcund, and Gujerat, with the Sikh rulers on both sides of the Sutlej, are entirely with us; while our independent allies, the Rajahs of Nepaul and Cashmere, afford both sympathy and succour. The position of some of these states was such as absolutely to cut away the base of our operations against the mutineers in Delhi, had they been so disposed. The communications between the North-western Provinces and the Punjaub were in their power, on one side; they could have interposed against reliefs from Calcutta, on the other. Had they been actuated by any common hostility, it was in their hands to have absolutely extirpated our countrymen through the whole sphere of the revolt. Instead of attempting this, they have stood loyally forward to our assistance. Where, then, are those "time-honoured" thrones subverted by British aggression? Where are the princes whom we have alienated by injustice and perfidy?
Positively only three persons of any pretensions to the title have as yet engaged, or been suspected of engaging, in the Sepoy insurrection. These are the Padishah at Delhi, the ex-king of Oude, and the miscreant Dhundoo Punt, called the Nana Shaib. The stories of these men are alone sufficient to justify the government which they have so basely assailed in a moment of difficulty. Mohammed Bahadur Padishah is the grandson of that Shah Alum whom the British rescued from the hands of the Vizier of Oude in 1765, and restored to a territory yielding L200,000 a-year, in return for a formal grant of the provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, then actually in our possession by the defeat of the revolted nabob. The return he made for our assistance was to go over to the Mahrattas, under whose protection he entered Delhi, to find himself the prisoner of Scindia. At sixty- five years of age, one of his jailers, a Rohilla chief, offended by his complaints to Scindia, fell upon the unhappy emperor, struck out his eyes with a dagger, and subjected the females of his family to plunder and outrage. When Delhi was taken by General Lake in 1803, this poor blinded representative of the "Great Mogul" was found in the most abject destitution, and being again received into British protection, was redeemed from captivity, and settled with the royal name and honours in the palace at Delhi (described by Bishop Heber as only second to Windsor Castle), with an annual allowance of twelve lacs, or L120,000. In this condition of comfort and affluence, exceeding all he had ever known before, Shah Alum died at the age of eighty-six, and was succeeded by his son Akbar in 1806. The prestige attending the title of the Mogul, and still more the possession of Delhi (which, under the name of Indraprestha, was the seat of Hindoo royalty before the Christian era), rendered it advisable to retrench some of the regal customs observed towards the nominal Padishah. It was, in fact, a serious mistake to allow him the semblance of a throne, or indeed an abode within the city, which is venerated alike by Moslem and Hindoo throughout India. It could scarcely have been foreseen, however, that the pride of the puppet Mogul would have been wounded by Lord Hastings taking a seat in his pensioner's presence when Governor-General! Lord Ellenborough further affronted his present majesty by finally forbidding, though not without pecuniary compensation, the presentation of nuzzurs or royal offerings by Government functionaries. But the summit of British oppression was reached when the descendant of Timour was required to pay his debts to the members of his numerous family. His poor relations complained that their share of the allowance designed for the maintenance of the royal family and household was withheld; and after some remonstrances, the Padishah was prevailed upon to accept an addition of three lacs to his revenue (making L150,000 per annum), with the condition of providing for the claims of his dependants.7 This unpalatable stipulation constitutes the grievance, upon the strength of which this traitor hailed the arrival of the blood-stained mutineers from Meerut; admitted them into the city through the palace; supplied them with scaling-ladders to attack the magazine; and personally ordered the slaughter of Mr Fraser, Captain Douglas, the Rev. Mr Jennings, his daughter, and some others, who were conducted to the palace alive.8 It is quite in keeping that he is said to have subsequently offered to surrender the place, with all the mutineer Sepoys, to British justice, on condition of his allowance being augmented to thirty lacs! If the Sepoys discover the proposal, they may probably anticipate his benevolent intentions; otherwse, we trust that General Neill and his provost-marshal may have been charged to award his majesty his deserts on the capture of the devoted city.
The ex-king of Oude owed the title of which he has been deprived to the same authority which has adjudged its forfeiture. His ancestor was the revolted vizier whom we utterly defeated and reduced to submission, after occupying Lucknow in 1765. After the settlement then agreed upon with the Mogul, he became an ally, and eventually a subsidiary, of the British Government, with whose consent he assumed the title of King in 1818, thereby formally renouncing his long- expired dependence on the Great Mogul. These relations appear to have been maintained in perfect amity down to 1837, when a disputed succession to the throne occasioned some internal disturbances. On the accession of a new king in 1842, the British resident was instructed to press for the reforms requisite to restore tranquillity and security. Promises were made and broken; nothing had been effected at the death of this prince in 1847; and his successor, Wajid Ali Shah, proving weaker and more profligate than his predecessors, the ultimate resource long threatened was carried into effect by Lord Dalhousie, and the territories of Oude were annexed to the British empire. To dispute the justice of this proceeding was the object of the queen's visit to this country, and her cause is intrusted to an advocate who will not fail to give it every effect in the House of Commons. We shall not here anticipate Sir Fitzroy Kelly's case, or the reply; but we may at once dispose of the notion that the proceeding complained of was any cause of the Sepoy rebellion, by observing that neither Mohammedans not Hindoos, beyond his own family, could take any deep interest in the fortunes of Wajid Ali. By the former he is regarded as a rebel against the Great Mogul, who, as was remarked by the intelligent subadar at Fyzabad, "never made a King of Oude." To the Hindoos he is of course a natural enemy as a Mohammedan, and notwithstanding its long subjection to Mohammedan rule, by far the greater portion of the inhabitants of Oude are Hindoos. The Sepoys in this district, as in others, may have gladly hailed a military revolt, and, from the disbandment of a large portion of the late monarch's ineffective army, there was doubtless an excess of the inflammable element scattered over the territory. Still the delivery from Mohammedan oppression of one of the earliest seats of Hindoo government and civilisation, could not in itself be other than satisfactory to the Brahmins and Cshatriyas, who still muster strong within its borders.
The third and most infamous of the three native chiefs implicated in the revolt, is the Nana Sahib,—a name, or rather a title,9 not unknown in Mahratta history. This man is the adopted son of Bajee Rao, the last Peishwah of the Mahrattas. The nominal sovereign of these freebooters was the Rajah of Sattara; but the Pesihwah (a title nearly equivalent to vizier among the Mohammedans, though originally inferior to another functionary called the Priti Nidhi) had long become virtually supreme. Bajee Rao falling into difficulties with Holkar and Scindia, powerful chiefs of his own race, was saved from utter destruction by a treaty concluded with the British at Bassein, in 1803. Faithless and cruel as Hindoo princes in general, he again provoked hostilities in 181, which resulted in his casting himself on the British mercy, after his country had been reduced, and his own deposal from power formally proclaimed. He received, through the misplaced generosity of Sir John Malcolm, a pension of eight lacs, together with the Jaghire of Bithoor, a place in the Ganges sacred to Brahma, who is said to have there sacrificed a horse on the completion of the act of creation. The pin of his slipper believed to have been left behind on the occasion, is still worshipped in one of the steps of the splendid ghât which rises from the sacred stream. Here Bajee Rao quietly ended his eventful career in 1851. Having no son, he adopted for his heirs three nephews, of whom Dhundoo Punt is the eldest, and in virtue of this adoption he laid claim to a continuance both of the pension and the jaghire granted to the deceased. Lord Dalhousie being advised that adoption, though valid by Hindoo law for the performance of funeral rites,—and on that account usually resorted to when there are not heirs of the body,—never conveys political rights without the sanction of the paramount power, disallowed the claim, granting him, however, permission to reside at Bithoor, though the civil and criminal administration of the jaghire was resumed by Government. This is one of the acts for which his lordship's administration is severely censured. The pension was granted to Bajee Rao and his heirs, and the adoption of the nephews was formally made by will some considerable time previous to his decease. The jaghire also is said to have been granted expressly in order to exempt the princesses of his family from the jurisdiction of British courts; and the indignity of its resumption is supposed to have suggested to the diabolical heart of the Nana the infamous outrages perpetrated by his orders on the helpless females of the British nation. It seems certain that neither one view nor the other was taken in the decision of Lord Dalhousie. The pride and covetousness of the Mahratta were deliberately wounded, and then, with our usual criminal indulgence towards extinct or suppositious royalty, the pretender was allowed to continue in his stronghold, to assume the title of Peishwah, and to surround himself with troops and guns! 10The bitter fruits of this halting between two opinions were reaped by the unhappy fugitives from Futteghur and the murdered garrison of Cawnpore.
We were unwilling, in September, to stain our pages with the ghastly story then floating doubtfully in the Indian papers; but it is, alas! too true that 126 men, women, and children, who had effected their escape from Futteghur in a boat, were intercepted by this ruffian a short distance from Cawnpore, and butchered in cold blood in his presence. The account of a native eyewitness, sent home by the Government, states that "one young lady, daughter of a general, told the Nana it was cowardly to butcher women and children, told him to remember that the day of retribution would come, and would be severe; she was then murdered!" The second wholesale massacre of the gallant Sir Hugh Wheeler, who, wounded and dying, was prevailed on to capitulate, and then basely slaughtered with the whole remains of his garrison, also took place in the presence of this fiend in human shape. He looked on unmoved by the agony of wives who were torn from the arms of their husbands, or the expostulations of the betrayed victims, with many of whom he had lived in friendly intercourse and hospitality. He could even order the clergyman's bonds to be loosed for the purpose of consecrating their last moments with Christian offices, and then slaughter the pastor and his flock together without remorse. Finally, it was by his personal order, and probably in his presence, that the ladies and children, reserved from that massacre, were ruthlessly butchered—ay, literally butchered, by the men and weapons fetched from the shambles, the evening before Havelock reached Cawnpore. Altogether, a thousand British lives have fallen a prey in cold blood to this villainous Mahratta—the genuine type of his race, and of the "princely dynasties" which British arms are blamed for overthrowing.
Turning now from the princes to the people of India, we are in a condition to show, from the most unmistakable evidence, their appreciation of John Company's Raj. The most decisive test of the permanent character of any government, is the increase or decrease of the population under its sway. Under a harsh and oppressive rule, the subject either sinks into bondage and pauperism, or saves himself by emigration. In either case a decrease in the population uniformly attests to the pressure on their freedom and resources. Apply, then, this rule to British India, and particularly to the districts which have been longest under our sway. There is now before us a printed statement, dated at the East India House, in February last, showing the area and population of each division and presidency of India, according to the latest returns. The importance of this document can hardly be overrated, since it alone affords the materials for the completest refutation of the charges made against British administration. The following are the totals:—
|[Authority]||Area in Square Miles||Population|
|Under the Supreme Government of India||246,050||23,255,972|
|Under the Lieut.-Governor of Bengal||222,609||41,212,562|
|Under Lieut.-Governor of N. W. Provinces||105,706||33,216,365|
|Under the Madras Government||132,090||22,437,297|
|Under the Bombay Governmen||131,544||11,790,042|
|Total British India||838,019||131,912,238|
|French and Portuguese||1,254||517,149|
Let us compare these results with the condition of Christendom. Excluding Russia, and the lesser states of the Baltic, the area of the remaining portions of Continental Europe is 1,202,173 square miles, and the population 161,446,854, giving an average of 134 to the square mile; while that of British India, including all its wide tracts of jungle, marsh, desert, and mountain, is as high as 124. If we pursue the comparison into the details given at the foot of the page,11 we shall find that Bengal, our most ancient possession in India, presents as area considerably less than Austria, Switzerland, and Holland put together. The North-Western Provinces put together contain almost as many inhabitants as France, though only half its dimensions. The Presidency of Madras, greatly exceeded in territory by Spain, has a population outnumbering Spain, Portugal, and Belgium put together. The Bombay Government, if we exclude its recent acquisitions of the Sattara mountains and the sandy deserts of Scindia, rules over a territory about the are of the united kingdoms of Bavaria, Hanover, Wirtemberg, and Saxony, and the population is only about a million less than that of these select portions of Germany. In short, if to these mature kingdoms of Europe we add the latest member of their family, Turkey with her European principalities, and compare the whole with British India (including every recent and unsettled acquisition), it appears that the much-abused government of the East India Company retains, on an area smaller by 100,000 square miles, a population exceeding the Western administrations by twelve millions of souls!
Against this comparison it may be urged that the East is naturally more populous than the West; an objection not sustained, however, by the condition of the oriental portions of Europe under Mussulman rule. Let us carry the comparison, however, to the East, and to obviate all imaginable ground of disparity, let us compare India with India—the British with the native states, possessing the same climate, and inhabited by the very same races and tribes. It appears, then, that while British India includes about four- sevenths of the whole area, it contains more than five- sevenths of the total population. The native states, though containing less territory naturally uninhabitable, present an average population of only 77 to the square mile, to set against the 124 belonging to British sway.
Now, the people being the same in blood, religion, and habits of life under both dominions, and possessing the most absolute facilities of migration, we conceive this test to be perfectly decisive as to the native appreciation of the respective systems of government. Naturally, the domination of the foreigner, the white man, and the Christian, must be objectionable to the native, whether Mohammedan, Hindoo, or aboriginal. Some great counter-attraction must exist to account for the disproportion we have exhibited; and the material conditions of soil and climate being the same, it can only be the superior protection afforded to life and property under British authority which occasions the augmented population. The verdict thus pronounced by the natives themselves, outweighs all the declamation of preachers and orators in England.
We have yet a further use to make of these instructive statistics. British India, as already observed, includes, in its vast diversity of climate and soil, a considerable extent of uncultivated territory. To render the comparison more thoroughly effectual, we should select the districts most approximating to each other in the natural conditions with necessarily influence population. The returns do not afford the means of examining more closely the condition of the native states of India. But if we turn again to the European world, the results are most astonishing. The most thickly populated country in Europe is Belgium, the paradise of agricultural fruitfulness; and next to it stands England, with its swarming hives of manufacturing industry. Belgium, then, exhibits a population of 337 persons to the square mile, and England 304. Ireland has 242, Holland, 231, France but 147, an Scotland only 110. Now, in Bengal, taking the average of five of the most populous and five of the least populous districts, while the lowest gives 118 persons to the square mile, the highest yields 698! Again, in the North-Western Provinces, the lowest average is 200, and the highest 678; in Madras, the lowest average is 117, and highest 324; while in Bombay the average ranges from 124 to 243. Thus, while there is no portion of cultivated India presenting so thin a population as Scotland, it have many districts more than twice as thickly populated as the most populous portions of Europe!
The decisive character of this test has induced us to dwell upon it at greater length than we can assign to others only second to it in importance. Few things, to an English mind, are better tests of the character of a government than the amount of taxation levied from the subject. Under Aurungzebe—the Great Mogul, whose dominion immediately preceded our own, and is often contrasted with it in utter ignorance of its real character—the imperial revenue is stated to have amounted to L37,724,615—a sum by no means extravagant in the gross, when compared with the extent of his dominions; though, if that amount were actually realised to the imperial exchequer, it must imply, under Mohammedan collectors, a vastly larger sum wrung from the tax-payer. Now, the Mogul empire was at no time nearly so extensive as the British, the gross revenue of which amounts to only L28,821,192; less than four-fifths of the revenue of Aurungzebe. This is the total amount paid by the hundred and thirty millions of our native subjects in India for all the purposes of government; when contrasted with the number of persons who pay it, the result is incredibly small. In England, in the year 1852, the taxation was at a rate of L1, 19s. 4d. a-head; in France, it is L1, 12s.; in Russia, 19s. 3d.; but in British India the average payment is only 4s. 4d. It is true that the value of money, as compared with the necessities of life, is widely different in India and in Europe. The wages of labour, which represent the cost of living and the means of paying taxes, are on a different scale. Let us adjust the comparison, then, accordingly. The price of labour in India may be taken at about seven shillings a-month, and in England at ten shillings a-week, or about six times as high; but the taxation in England is nine times greater than in India. While in this country, then, the charges of government demand from each individual an annual sum equivalent to nearly four weeks of labour, in India they require only two and a-half.
Moreover, of the total revenue so accruing, L26,599,461 is spent in India itself, in the military defence of the country, the administration of justice, and the civil and political expenditure of Government; only a very few agents employed being Europeans, and they expending a large part of their incomes on native servants and dealers. The charges for military stores and all other payments in England amount to little more than three millions, leaving a deficit of about a million.
General Briggs, in fact, censures the Government for having overlooked several items of taxation always levied under native governments, and sanctioned by the Institutes of Menu, declaring that "there would be no difficulty in creating new sources of revenue."
From the Parliamentary paper before quoted we have compiled a brief abstract, which we here annex, of the total income and expenditure of the year ending 30 th April 1856:—
Receipts   ;   ;   ; Expenditure
|Land Revenue||£ 17,840,416||Charges of collection, repayment, etc.||£ 6, 743,952|
|Customs||£ 1,974,999||Civil and political establishments||2,276,262|
|Salt||£ 2,485,736||Judicial and police||£ 2,510,799|
|Opium||£ 4,871,227||Public works||£ 1,881,606|
|Stamps, Post-office, and all other items||£ 1,648,814||Military charges||£ 10,417,369|
|[subtotal]||£28,821,192||Indian Navy, etc.||£ 5,908,070|
|Mint and miscellaneous||£ 127,085|
|Deficit (reduced to £ 972,971 by gain on exchange and other casualties),||£ 1,042,892||[subtotal]||£ 26,599,461|
|Interest on debt||£ 2,044,318|
|Charges paid in England, including military stores, transport of troops, furlough pay, and dividend of £ 632,689 to East India proprietors||£ 3,264,629|
More than half the taxation of India, it will be seen, is raised from the land, the tenure of which is well known to be of a very complicated nature, and has given rise to an abundance of misplaced censure on the Government. Whatever may be thought either of the Zemindarry or the Ryotwar systems (and they have each their champions to the present day), it is certain that neither Lord Cornwallis in adopting the one, nor Sir Thomas Munro in the other, were actuated by any but the most generous intentions towards the natives. The question was never regarded by either as one of justice to the proprietor and cultivator. The difficulty arose in great measure from the obscurity which Mohammedan oppression had thrown over native institutions; and if, with the light which has now been shed upon this question by subsequent researches of the Company's officers, we are now inclined to view with greater favour the system applied by Sir Mark Cubon with signal success to the embarrassed territories of Mysore, and more or less followed in our later acquisitions and the north-western provinces of Bengal, it is surely no reproach to the East India Company or their servants, that, having done their best in former times with the information available, they have steadfastly laboured, both by inquiry and experiment, after a better system, and, unlike Government departments at home, have been ready to adopt every improvement that was discovered.
We proceed to another head. Nothing is more common than to hear the "Company's government" censured by the smatterers at home for their neglect of Public Works in India. It is taunted with the magnificent operations of the Mogul emperors, particularly with respect to irrigation, than which nothing is so important to tropical agriculture. Now, we happen to have learned something of these imperial works, from a description given of them in a recent publication of Colonel Baird Smith, F.G.S., now Chief Engineer in the camp before Delhi. An important canal was made by the Emperor Feroze Toghluk in the middle of the fourteenth century, but more to water the gardens of his favourite hunting-place of Hissar, than to supply the wants of the people over whom he reigned. This canal ceased to flow shortly after the death of its projector. Nearly two centuries later it was reopened by Akbar, but ceased again in 1707, the year of Aurungzebe's demise. This canal was the more important for running through a country bordering on the desert, which returned to its original sterility on its stoppage. The famous Delhi canal was only finished under Shah Jehan in 1626, and ceased to flow at Delhi in 1753. In short, all the boasted canals of Mogul construction were practically extinct before the British came into possession. The country they had watered was, for years before our acquisition of it in the opening of the present century, the battle-field of the Mohammedans and Mahrattas, and still exhibits the traces of the ruin effected in their desolating wars. No sooner had this region come under British sway, than engineer officers were employed to report on the means of restoring the irrigation. Military engineers had, of course, but little experience to guide them, and the operations were difficult as well as novel. It is no wonder, then, that their schemes were conflicting; and the Nepaul and Mahratta wars ensuing, no progress was made up to the year 1817. The works were then vigorously pushed forward, and in the thirty years ensuing, upwards of half a million sterling was expended on canals to the west of the Jumna, and nearly L200,000 on those to the east. When the difficulty of the work is fairly considered, with the danger of mistakes,12 this implies no inconsiderable amount of exertion. Some account of that stupendous work, the Ganges Canal, opened on the 8 th April 1854, was given in our issue for December last. Applicable to the double purpose of irrigation and navigation, it extends over 525 miles in length, measuring in its greatest depth 10 feet, and in its extreme breadth 170 feet. Viewed as a means of irrigation, it is five times as long as all the main lines of Lombardy and Egypt put together. As the channel of navigation, it nearly equals the aggregate length of the four greatest canals in France, greatly exceeds all the first-class canals of Holland put together, and is larger by one-third than the greatest navigation canal in the United States of America. The different branches in progress will extend this unparalleled monument of British engineering skill to a total length of 900 miles, affording irrigation to 1,470,000 acres of land. The cost of this splendid work amounted in 1854 to L1,400,000.
Under the government of Madras, also, though the minor presidencies always complain of the restriction laid in their expenditure by the Supreme Government, and for some years the public works were in fact greatly neglected, yet a commission of inquiry, issued by the Court of Directors, has been attended by the most gratifying results. In the province of Tanjore, which has been better cared for than the others, the yearly expenditure on works of irrigation, from 1831 to 1850, averaged L9152, effecting an increase of cultivation to the extent of 79,869 acres, with an aggregate addition to the land-revenue of L277,525—the value to the proprietors being of course augmented in proportion. Colonel Arthur Cotton, the Chief Engineer at Madras, gives the result of fifty years' work in Tanjore, as involving an expenditure of L250,000 on new works and improvements, effecting an annual increase of revenue of L4000, and an addition to the value of the land of L200,000 a-year. On the banks of the Godavery the same talented officer projected, in 1844, a scheme of irrigation involving the construction of a dam or weir across the bed of a broad river, with no foundation but loose sand. Adopting a native method, he succeeded in erecting a structure which required the labour of 10,000 workmen, and the laying of 200,000 bricks per diem for four months consecutively. The part of the country irrigated by these works is estimated at 1,200,000 acres; an increase of L35,000 per annum has already accrued to the land-tax, and the ultimate result is expected to add L3,320,000 to the annual value of the land.13
Of the munificence displayed by the "cheesemongers of Leadenhall Street," in fostering this department of national improvement, a striking illustration is afforded in the volumes of Col. Baird Smith, published under the orders of the Honourable Court of Directors. This distinguished officer was despatched by the Court on a mission, in 1850, to examine that "classic land of irrigation," Northern Italy—the only country in Europe possessed of any system of the kind worthy of scientific investigation. To a personal narrative of much interest he has annexed historical and descriptive details of the canals of irrigation in Piedmont and Lombardy, with a careful examination of the practice and legislation in both kingdoms, and a comparison of their systems with those of Northern and Central India. When "public opinion" in this country shall have enlightened itself by the perusal of these volumes, it will perhaps be less inclined to sneer at the supineness of the East India Company and its servants.
We are not the indiscriminate advocates, however, of any government. We neither conceal nor defend the little attention as yet bestowed on the other great requisite for the development of internal resources—the construction of roads. In this department the Indian Government have certainly not kept pace with the demands of the age, or with the practice of other conquerors. It is chiefly on this point that the tribe of detractors, whose one idea of India is as a rival to the United States in the supply of cotton for the Manchester market, are enabled to give the semblance of justice to their complaints. It is true that much has been done to promote the growth and improve the cleaning of cotton in India, but the want of good roads ruinously cripples every other scheme for the development of native industry. The want is the more remarkable, since it is just the kind of public work most required for the political exigencies and the personal comfort of the governing race. It is quite unaccountable how English governors and commanders-in-chief should have gone on so long, sending troops across the country with an enormous train of camp- followers, at the rate of ten miles a-day, and wasting three precious months themselves on a river-voyage from Calcutta to Delhi, when the system of roads with which they were familiar in England, might at once have quadrupled the despatch (and therefore the efficiency) of their armies, administering, moreover, in no small measure, to their own health and convenience—at the same time that it developed internal resources certain to repay the cost a hundredfold. The only apology that can be made lies in the extent and variety of the labours which an Indian Government is expected to undertake. We need hardly remind our readers that English roads are the product of private skill and capital. Even in the construction of railroads, which the other nations of Europe have instinctively assigned to the province of government—so deep-rooted is our distrust of "government work" that we have insisted on retaining them to private enterprise, at a ruinous loss (as it has proved) of land, money, and system. It is, after all, then, but a national peculiarity which the Indian authorities have unfortunately not been free from. They have been actuated too much, instead of too little, by the views which make up what is arrogantly called the "wisdom of Parliament." And the remedy would seem to be, not to sink the Indian administration deeper in the vortex of "public opinion" in England, but to withdraw it more carefully to the special and distinctive peculiarities of India.
It must be borne in mind, too, that the principles of British government do not admit of the forced labour by which less scrupulous masters constructed the highroads of antiquity. The traces of Roman skill and enterprise are still patent in this island; but no records remain of the hundred of thousands of British bondmen whose lives may have been sacrificed in penetrating the forest or the marsh, and whose bones lie unnoticed in the foundations of the conquerors' roads. Still this is unquestionably the department that most presses for improvement in India. Railroads in particular ought, ere this, to have extended widely in a country which they are so certain to ameliorate at every point of national life. A railroad from Calcutta to Lahore would have either prevented the Sepoy insurrection, by affording the means of instantaneously removing wavering corps from the contaminating atmosphere, and overawing the disaffected, or would have at least crushed it in the bud, by concentrating the small available European force on the scene of the first outbreaks. A public work, so certain to add almost indefinitely to the power of Government as well as to the riches of the country, must no longer be delayed by the reluctance of British capitalists to invest in India without a Government guarantee, nor by the hesitation of Government, however natural, to extend a guarantee where they are not able, or not permitted, to exercise a corresponding amount of superintendence. Whether the respective parties would be likely to come to a speedier agreement, by transferring this discussion from Leadenhall Street to Whitehall, may well be doubted by those who have been initiated in the mysteries of patent-seeking, or cooled their heels in the "Circumlocution Office."
From the material departments of Government let us now ascend to the higher regions of mind. The foremost object—the very t e l o s —of all government is the administration of justice, and that not so much for the equitable adjustment of individual claims, as for leavening the public mind with the great principles of moral rectitude. Few, perhaps, reflect how much the strong sense of right and wrong which actuates the English mind is owing to the operation of our courts of justice, daily bringing the rules of equity in a practical form to the experience and observation of the masses who attend their sittings. There is, hence, in the generality of Englishmen, such a sense of the sacredness of justice that it seems a light thing to say it is never bought among us. The man who would see little harm in quietly pocketing a doceur from a candidate for his seat at an election, would indignantly spurn a five- pound note to say Guilty or Not Guilty in the jury-box. We should all rise up in one shout of horror if it were but hinted that a British judge was open to a bribe. It may seem little, then, to advance, that this national incorruptability of justice has accompanied its administration in India. Yet it may be remembered that our forefathers found it necessary to bind their kings, in the Great Charter, not to sell as well as not to delay justice—that the great Lord Bacon was not free from this vice—and that in fact judicial bribery has more or less tainted the administration of all countries except our own, under the light of its present improved state of public morals. In the East, from the days of Solomon downward, the "wicked man has taken a gift out of his bosom to pervert the ways of judgment" (Prov. xvii. 23). In India this practice is so rooted in native ideas, that it governs the ordinary forms of salutation. In place of grasping your right hand in frankness and truth, the native accosts you with a present. If it be only a worthless lime, the form must be preserved, "to make you honour's face white;" so attesting the universal conviction that neither kindness nor justice is to be obtained gratuitously. Such forms are the straws which show the current of public feeling. When royalty is approached, they take the more substantial form of nuzzur—i.e. gold pieces—to anoint the hand which is the fountain of justice; and the spirit indicated in such compliments may be judged of by a little anecdote related to us in the Mysore territories, where the Rajah, sitting in the hall of justice, and pronouncing on the complaints of his subjects in that Oriental and paternal simplicity which dispenses with professional judges, advocates, and forms, decided the same case five times over—terque, quaterque, reversing his former judgment, as a confidential agent whispered in the royal ear the sum by which the litigants kept alternately bidding for victory!
It is not so small a thing, then, we say, to have practically taught the natives of India the great lesson of judicial integrity. A book has just appeared called the Autobiography of Lutfullah, a Mohammedan gentleman who travelled through much of British India, visited England, and has written his observations in our language. Such a work is alone enough to indicate the revolution in native mind and practice, not effected in all the previous centuries since the Christian era. The views of the author are generally favourable to the Company's government: in particular he fails not to note that, wherever he went, he always heard, "The Feringhees were very just." The general conviction is farther attested by the resort of litigants to our several courts. One of the delusions with which we love to cheat ourselves in this country is, that all the world stands enraptured at the sight of our "free institutions," hastening, like flies to a sugar-cask, to partake of their blessings the moment they are exposed to view. But there is, perhaps, not one "institution" of ours which the "benighted Hindoo" does not consider vastly inferior to his own. He has not the slightest respect for our laws—he greatly prefers his punchayet to our jury—laughs to scorn the notion of deciding by the evidence which, he quietly remarks, can be manufactured at pleasure—deems the subpoening of witnesses on a public prosecution, in which they have no interest, as interference with private affairs—and marvels incessantly how a wise judge can let a notorious criminal escape for such simple reasons as a flaw in the indictment, or even a defect in the evidence. What the native does respect is, that—hampered, and foolish, and hindered as he deems our modes of procedure—the British judge is above the suspicion of corruption. He trusts the Englishman for what he never found nor expected in any native,—judgment without gift or respect of persons. It is this which fills the courts in India with crowds of litigants, for whom we could heartily desire a better provision than at present exists.
This is a province which peculiarly belongs to the Crown, and the royal prerogative was very early exerted, under parliamentary sanction, in the establishment of a Supreme Court of Judicature at each of the three Presidencies. We consider these courts to be decidedly the worst in the country. Presided over by Queen's judges with enormous salaries, they have seldom secured even a decent amount of professional knowledge on the bench, while the bar is, of course, proportionally second-rate. Barristers of fame or promise at home, will seldom14 forego the career that opens in Westminster Hall and St Stephen's. The crimson silk, silver sticks, and "barbaric gold" of the Indian judge, are the insignia of acknowledged mediocrity—not seldom of proved incapacity—in English law; they always decorate ignorance of native usages and even speech. Such courts are mere caricatures of Westminster Hall: their absurdity was conclusively demonstrated when it was found necessary to exclude them from all jurisdiction over the members of Government, and persons acting under their orders; for it is only as a check on the Company's government that a royal court could have the locus standi in the country. The indispensable denial of such powers should have taught the Legislature the folly of erecting such a court. Yet, like the currier in the fable, Sir Erskine Perry's main idea of Indian reform seems to be the unlimited importation of English lawyers!
The courts presided over by the Company's civil servants are undoubtedly anomalous in the composition, and burdensome in their procedure; while courts-martial, which, in station not included in British territory, are obliged to exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction over British subjects, are naturally unqualified for the cognisance of any but military causes. Perhaps the system of administration best adapted to native wants is that which obtains in the Mysore territories, where the courts of the Rajah are continued under the native judges, but superintended at every point by the Commissioner and his European assistants. The whole judicial system of India, however, undoubtedly demands a searching and consistent reform.
On the efforts of the Company's government to promote the education of the natives in the Sanscrit, the vernacular, and the English languages, we have already spoken.15 They are confessedly experimental, and hampered by the great question of religion, which we are presently to notice. No one can fairly charge the Government—apart from this question—with any want of zeal or honesty in their several exertions. It is probably the fact, also, that the results are far greater than is usually supposed. In the army, however, and among the mass of agricultural natives, but little seems as yet to have been attempted. The Sepoy, in particular, is in general childishly ignorant; very few can read their own language. Even the native officers often cannot write their names. As a necessary consequence, their minds, when off duty, are left to fluctuate between dull vacant stupidity and the wild fictions of their legendary faith. This state of mind is of course liable to a credulity more than childish, and to outbreaks of passion bordering on frenzy. To this cause may in great measure be attributed the readiness with which the cartridge grievance was accepted, and the atrocious outburst of "heathen rage" that ensued. It seems to us, however, that the Indian Government, like too many friends of education at home, have been aiming too high—travelling, in fact, too fast instead of too slow, in the race of secular instruction and civilisation. Far from thinking that our century of British rule has done little for India, we are lost in astonishment at the extent and progress of the movement attempted.
Next to Religion, the greatest of educational agencies is legislation; and the legislation of British India during the last fifty years has introduced new principles of thought and action, exceeding probably what any other people have had to grapple with in any century of the world's history. It may be doubted whether England herself during the sixteenth century, which changed the entire relations of Church and State, and subjected the whole literature of the land to the influence of the Holy Scriptures, experienced a greater or more rapid revolution of public opinion. Shock after shock has been administered to minds to which change was unknown for a thousand years. The ancient rite of Suttee, which, though nowhere positively enjoined as a religious ordinance, had been the decus et testamen of female honour in the highest ranks, as far as the influence of Brahminism extended, has been abolished by an act of the Legislature throughout the British dominions, and almost entirely abandoned, in consequence of our representations, in the native states. Infanticide, tolerated if not licensed by Roman civilization, and based among the Hindoos on the sanctions of religion, has in like manner been declared illegal; and though not yet absolutely exterminated,16 is in process of entire abolition. Human sacrifices, judged essential, and systematically offered among the hill-tribes, have been utterly prohibited to the extent of British influence, and numbers of victims devoted to the knife have been released and provided for. Thuggee, defended by the sanctions both of caste and creed, has been put down with a remorseless hand, and the worshippers of the divinity from whom Calcutta itself derives its name, are sent to the gallows as murderers. Slavery, which had subsisted since the Brahminists reduced the aboriginal races to serfdom, more than thirty centuries ago, has been wholly abolished. These acts alone involve an enormous amount of progress, declaring, to a certain extent, the equality of sexes and races, putting human life above the demands even of religious worship, and proclaiming the laws which defend it more sacred than the most binding obligations of custom and caste.
To these demands on Hindoo "public opinion," for centuries so immobile, we have lately added a further assertion of "women's rights," in releasing young widows from the bondage of an enforced celibacy; and lastly, that prodigious leap out of darkness into light taken by the famous lex loci, passed 11 th April 1850. This latter act, for brevity and range of application, is positively without parallel in the field of legislative reform. Its text is as follows: "So much of any law or usage now in force, within the territories subject to the government of the East India Company, as inflicts on any person forfeiture of rights or property, or may be held in any way to impair or affect any right of inheritance, by reason of his or her renouncing, or having been excluded from, the communion of any religion, or being deprived of caste, shall cease to be enforced as law in the courts of the East India Company, and in the courts established by royal charter within the said territories." In these few unostentatious words was established at one sweep the completest liberty of conscience and faith among 130 millions of human beings, with whom, a century ago, conscience had no existence, and a change in religion was not only impossible, but inconceivable!
If to all this innovation we add the effect of Government operations, conducted on principles of good faith exceeding the highest pitch of native opinion, yet criticised and condemned by a free press, with a license that would disgust in England, there is surely little cause to complain of any want in stimulus in the march of Hindoo civilisation. Rather it may be feared lest a too eager advance on so many different points at once should provoke a reaction in the direction aimed at by the Dherma Sobha.17
To judge aright of the effects produced and in progress under the East India Company's government, we must view the question not so much with European as with Asiatic eyes. The very propagation of our language in the Government schools is an enormous instrument of national education, though censured, and we think with justice, for that over-right view of impartiality with proscribes all use of the Scriptures. These schools are judged by the educated native, and even by the missionaries who blame their exclusion of Christianity, as engines of immense power in uprooting prejudice and ignorance. "It is impossible," says one of the most experienced Protestant missionaries of the day, "to exaggerate the importance of these facts (the study of English, and the circulation of English books), and especially as to their influence for good or evil on the Hindoo mind. This will become more apparent when it is known that English education, apart from religious instruction, is subversive of Hindooism. . . . The literature and science of the Hindoos being incorporated with their religion, if you destroy the former, which abounds with palpable errors, by the introduction of the true science of Europe, the foundation of the latter must be overthrown." The editor of a public paper in Calcutta says, in relation to Government education, from which Christianity is wholly excluded, "No missionary ever taught us to forsake the religion of our fathers; it was Government that did us this service!" Another says, himself too an editor of an English paper: "Has not the Hindoo College been the foundation of a new race of men among us? Have all the efforts of the missionaries given a tithe of that shock to the superstitions of the people which has been given by the Hindoo College? This at once shows that the means they pursue to overturn the ancient religion of idolatry is not calculated to insure success, and ought to be abandoned for another, which promises better success."18
Dr. Percival, in adducing these extracts, rejects, of course, the fallacious inference, that the missionaries should adopt the Government system; "but," he adds, "we cannot reject his testimony as to the efficacy of the means of enlightenment which detached him and others from their ancestral faith. It is a most interesting fact (he continues), that in almost every part of India—I mean its chief cities—the spread of the English language and literature is rapidly altering the phases of the Hindoo mind." The alteration, indeed, is taking a direction which neither the Christian nor the statesman can contemplate without alarm. The most evident tendency of such education hitherto has been, to generate a "sceptical infidel cast of mind," which, while it is far from effecting the moral regeneration aimed at by the Gospel, is ominous in relation to the stability of British power. Still this condition of mind is regarded by many friends of Christianity as not only constituting a peculiar call upon the Church (whose office more than the State's it is to supply direct Christian instruction), but also as affording some assistance to her labours. Dr. Percival adduces the following from the pen of a gentleman, himself many years resident in India, as worthy of the most serious consideration:—
"At Calcutta, and in the great cities of Bengal, the Government have founded colleges and seminaries to instruct natives in European knowledge, and to fit them for the very responsible and high offices in the public service to which they are now eligible. But the knowledge so imparted is not confined to the few who draw the higher prizes in the lottery of Indian official life, nor even to the larger number who hope, by fitness, to open the way to selection for office; it will have imparted its tone to all who come within the scope of its operations, and of its results; and it is accordingly acknowledged that the native mind is awakened and inquisitive on matters to which is was formerly indifferent. The truths of science, and the philosophy of real history, cannot consist in the same mind with Pauranic fables, and the abominations of mythology and idolatry; but it is too well known that they may consist with the profession of benevolent atheism, or still more with the seductive and self-applauding discovery of natural religion. It is to the native mind, in this advanced state of cultivation, that it becomes important that Christianity should be presented with its saving truths in the effulgence of Divine light."
This latter extract conducts us to that part of the East India Company's administration, which is just now most universally, and (we are free to confess) most deservedly condemned. Still, on this great question of religion, we are constantly struck by the vagueness, as well as unfairness, of the public censure. When we hear of the timid policy which has shrunk from avowing its Christian belief, and shamefully cowered before Hindoo idolatry, we have great difficulty in comprehending exactly what the public means to complain of, and who are the parties to blame. The charge divides itself into two heads—sins of omission, and sins of commission: the Company has not done what it ought for the manifestation of British Christianity, and it has done what it ought not, in supporting or countenancing the native superstitions.
Let us consider, then, under the first head, what is meant when it is said that the East India company's government have shrunk from manifesting their own religion before the natives of India. If it be intended that the several branches of their administration have not been conducted on the principles of mercy, justice, and good faith, which characterise the Christian religion, we have disproved the charge in the preceding portions of this article. We affirm, on the contrary, that an examples has been set before the eyes of the natives, which, however inferior to the high standard of the Christian Scriptures (as it is common for both governments and individuals in this world to fall short of the requisitions of their religion), is nevertheless so infinitely superior to any exhibited in India before, as to necessitate the inference that its present governors are actuated by a purer faith than either the Mohammedan or the Hindoo rulers of former times. We have not the shadow of a doubt that this inference is generally drawn by the natives, and Christianity proportionately respected.
If the allegation be that the Company's governments do not, in the persons of their Christian officers, show that respect for religious ordinances which is demanded by Christianity, we again deny the fact. The public mind is abused with stories which, if they had ever any foundation in truth, belong to a period long since passed away. It is true, that in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when churches were confessedly both insufficient in number and but thinly attended in London—when every pulpit is England and Scotland resounded with complaints of the low tone of piety and morals induced by the French Revolution—there was not much appearance of religion in our Indian stations. Few could boast of a chaplain—fewer still of a church; the clergymen sent out were sometimes not of the best order, and officers and soldiers were scandalously inattentive to the exhortations of the most commendable. We know not, however, that even then the case was worse than in the military stations of our other distant possessions, or even in some of the barracks and quarters in our own Christian land.
So far as the East India Company is concerned, we can discover no greater "timidity" than in the Ministers of the Crown. Their articles of war were the same as those of the royal army—nay, a solicitude was manifested on this head by the City Company, which we never heard of in Downing Street or the Horse Guards. So early as the 25 th May 1798, we find a despatch of the Court of Directors strictly enjoining a decent observation of the Lord's Day (which they had heard was often profaned by public amusements), and threatening with dismissal the chaplains who should neglect their sacred duties. These instructions were so vigilantly followed up, that within a few years a great improvement was perceptible. The strictest attention was paid to religious duties under the government of Lord Wellesley,19 and Sir John Shore declared that he witnessed in India fuller churches and more attentive audiences than he believed to exist in any other part of the world.
In the present day, we need hardly inform our readers that churches and chaplains are to be found in all the military stations, and in many of the civil ones, and as a general rule, religious duties are even more carefully observed in India than in England. A clergyman who officiated there as a chaplain for several years, and now fills an important position in a large town at home, assures us that he had always a larger attendance, both at church and sacrament, than is usual in this country; that the general tone of society there is more religious than our own; and that numbers both of the civil and military servants of the Company are eminent for their Christian life and conversation. We rejoice to circulate such a testimony at the present juncture, proving that the gallant hearts whose unparalleled sufferings and heroic deeds have filled all Europe with sympathy and admiration, were not so deficient in yet higher duties, nor, we reverently trust, so devoid of their consolation in their bitter extremity, as some ungenerous detractors would insinuate.
What then is the accusation? That the Company's government has taken no step actively to promote Christianity among the natives? Here again we are obliged to demand what steps they ought to have taken? Only on one point can we find anything like a tangible complaint, viz. The exclusion of the holy Scriptures and generally of Christian books from the Government schools. This exclusion is enforced, however, not from any reluctance on the part of Government to acknowledge its own religion, but from a fear of interfering with the religion of the natives. It is really nonsense to talk of a government being afraid to acknowledge its religion, which at the same moment is engaged in a deadly struggle, occasioned by a widespread suspicion in the minds of its native soldiers of an intention to effect their conversion to Christianity. Can it for a moment be imagined that the 80,000 Sepoys who have broken out in rebellion from this suspicion, or the much larger and more intelligent portion of the native population by whom it was shared, supposed the Government to be indifferent to its own religion? Mr Colvin reports that the opinion of the Sepoys " was held, however unwisely, by the mass of the population, and even by some of the more intelligent classes. Never was a delusion more wide or deep."20 The English press has chosen to think the "cartridge grievance" a mere pretext, put forward to conceal a plot of another description; but whatever may have been " the plot" (which remains to this day as great a mystery as Titus Oates's), it is certain that the cartridge was the spark which fired the train, and the train itself was the general suspicion of an intention on the part of Government to bring the natives over the Christianity. Mr Colvin reports this as the unanimous view of his best officers, produced by acquaintance with the native feeling through a variety of sources. The general conviction, he says, was expressed by a Brahmin, who said that having reduced all India to one government, it was intended also to reduce it to one religion, and that was impious. Now it is simply impossible that such a state of feeling should have existed, had it been true that our Governments were afraid to exhibit their faith. The native suspicions, however mistaken in the particular fact, demonstrate a knowledge on their part both that Government was Christian, and that Christianity laid claim to be a universal religion. It was because of this knowledge that they would not receive the disclaimers made to them by the Government and its officers.
It is manifestly unjust, then, to stigmatise the exclusion of the Christian Scriptures from the Government schools as a denial or concealment of their own religion. It was adopted from precisely the same motives as dictated the exclusion of the authorised version of the Bible from the national schools of Ireland, simply because its introduction might have repelled the scholars whom it was wished to attract. As a matter of policy, we think the Indian Governments have made a mistake. It has been proved by experiment in the mission schools that Hindoos do not object to study the Christian Scriptures, or other books imbued with Christian teaching. The Calcutta School- Book Society circulates upwards of 30,000 English publications of this character yearly, and it is said the missionary seminaries are even more numerously attended than those of the Government. This may seem paradoxical to English minds, contrasting this extravagant horror of a cartridge with indifference to the Bible, the acknowledged standard and vehicle of Christianity. But in this we have only another illustration of the wide distinction between caste and creed. It is no breach of caste to study the Bible, nor even to accept its doctrines. Caste is compatible with Vedantism, deism, atheism, quite as much as with idolatry. It is not lost by the avowal of all Christian doctrine, if only the act of baptism be abstained from; and even baptism has been received by thousands, who still retain the distinctions of caste, and enforce them at the Lord's table.21
Neither history, geography, astronomy, medicine, or natural philosophy can be taught without impugning some established tradition, or even some direct statement of their religious standards. Such contradictions, it seems, do not shock the native conscience, which appears to have the faculty of combining contradictions; there is no reason why we should find it in scruple which it not challenge for itself. It is another question how far the simple introduction of Christian books would increase the leverage for that gradual upheaving of heathenism which we have seen to be the effect of Government education as at present conducted. The Mission Schools also disregard caste; another and a larger question, on which we cannot now enter. The missionaries, however, can confine their instruction to those who choose to accept it on their own terms. It might be otherwise in the case of Government, if any classes were deterred from advantages which ought to be open to all. But that Government should engage in direct efforts for the propagation of the Gospel we can hardly think seriously contended for. At all events, they who desire it can have little encouragement or wish for a transfer of Indian affairs to the Queen's Ministers and the Parliament of Great Britain. In the latter it has been judged essential to the principles of civil and religious liberty, to withdraw the grants once made for the spread of Christianity in our North American colonies, and even to secularise the lands assigned for the endowment of a Protestant clergy in Canada. We are at a loss to conceive from what funds any one could hope to carry a grant for the diffusion of Christianity in India. Would the English tax-payer submit to find the means? or are they to be wrung from the Mussulman and the Hindoo? Again, if the funds were forthcoming, where is the Government agency for their application? Are the civil and military officers in India to turn preachers? or, if clergymen are to be employed, who is to engage them? and which form of Christianity is to be preferred?
All these practical question are lost sight of in blaming the Indian Government for not enabling us as a nation to extend our religion among the natives. A nation is represented in two ways, by the State and by the Church; the executive government is the organ not of the latter, but the former. As long as the nation is united in Church and State, the Government may act for both; but when many churches are included in one State, this is plainly impossible. To preach the Gospel is the province of the Church, not of the Government: the latter can only engage in it by founding a Church. The Portuguese Government did this in India, because that nation owned only the Roman Catholic Church. The Dutch and the Danes had the same facility, because each nation recognised but one form of Protestant Christianity. The English East India Company probably intended to pursue a similar course, when it was provided in their charter that chaplains of the English Church should be maintained in every factory and settlement, who should learn "the Gentoo language," in order to instruct the native servants and dependants in the Protestant religion; and it is only necessary to recall the names of Brown, Buchanan, Martyn, Corrie, Thomason, Fisher—all chaplains of the Company—to be aware that the original conception was never extinguished. It was in England, not in India, that its modification commenced. The regiments of the royal army ceased to take out chaplains, and were consequently thrown on the clergymen employed by the Company. When it was first proposed to make provision for missionaries proceeding to India, the Imperial Parliament negatived the clause; and it was argued, even by a bishop, that we had no right to "interfere with the religion, the laws, and the local customs of the people of India!" In 1813, Parliament, in granting the desired permission for missionaries to resort to England, endorsed the principle that the Government chaplains were intended chiefly for their European servants; and as many of these were of the Presbyterian communion, chaplains of the Established Church of Scotland were then provided at each Presidency. Subsequently the Legislature has sanctioned, on the same principle, grants to Roman Catholic priests for the soldiery of that Church.
It was clearly impossible, in such circumstances, even if it had been desirable, for the Government of India to engage in efforts at the conversion of the natives. These were left—and, we conceive, properly left—to the missionaries sustained by the voluntary contribution of those who feel an interest in their sacred undertaking. They neither desire co-operation from Government, nor could it be granted to any without provoking both the jealousy of others and the just complaints of the natives. The duty of Government is to protect all in the peaceable pursuit of their calling; and whatever may have been the objections in former days, when missionary feeling was at a lower pitch both at home and in India, there is little now to complain of. The Governments not only permit, but, by various indirect methods, assist the prosecution of such labours; while the removal of all legal disabilities in the way of conversion is the most important help that could have been rendered to the cause of truth.
On the whole, we see little to complain of on the score of neglecting Christianity. Far heavier is the charge of actively countenancing idolatry. It is not to be denied that this has taken place to a lamentable extent. The details may be found in the appendix to a memorial presented to the Government of Madras by Bishop Corrie in 1836, and afterwards published in a pamphlet, which is now lying before us.22It is there stated, and proved by instances—1. That salutes were fired by our troops in honour of heathen and Mohammedan festivals, and that not infrequently on the Lord's day.23 2. That Christian soldiers were compelled to attend in procession at such festivals. 3. That in some places the pagodas were actually managed by Government; the revenues and endowments being vested in their hands, so that all the ceremonial, including the appointment of priests, and dancing- girls, the decking of the idol, its procession, &c., was directly ordered and paid for by the European officers of Government. At Madras, an idol which had been forgotten by the natives for thirty years, was evoked from its obscurity by the zeal of the European superintendent of police, and its festival re-established in great splendour at the cost of the Government; the admiring Hindoos positively refusing to pay the trifling charge demanded of them for this piece of ancestral worship. 4. Direct acts of worship were publicly performed to the idols by the officers of Government, in the name and on behalf of the British nation. Lord Clive, in person, offered a jewel worth L400 to the idol at Conjeveram, a temple stated to be "assumed by the Government, and the festival performed by the Honourable Company." The Collector publicly adored "the Madras goddess" with the offer of a talee (a necklace used for the same purpose as our ring at a marriage), in the revived festival of 1818. In Canara the Collector customarily ordered Poojah (worship) to the idols in time of drought, "for the protection of the ryots and the coming of rain." It is needless to enter further into details.
This connection with idolatry appears to have been carried further in the Madras Presidency than in any other. It originated apparently with one Mr Place, a collector, whose zeal was moved by the peculation of the Brahmins, and the indifference of the ryots to the duties of their religion. The pagodas being largely endowed with lands and offerings, he found the Brahmins appropriating the revenue and starving the idols. The ryots, on the other hand, whose tenures bound them to attend and drag the cars, preferring their ease to their religion, often left the gods in the lurch. The church revenues (as Mr Place singularly denominated them) were disappearing—the "clergy and church-wardens" all corrupt—the irreligious peasantry sinking fast into infidelity. In good truth, there was some reason to think that, had it been left alone, Hindoo idolatry would have perished, in some places, under its own corruption. But extensive endowments could not be allowed to disappear in this way. British equity demanded the due execution of trusts, and Mr Place set himself to enforce their obligation on the reluctant trustees. It was impossible, however, to make the Brahmins honest, or to inspire the people with a proper sense of religion; so it ended in "assuming" the pagodas for Government, taking the revenues into their own administration, appointing the officers, providing for the ceremonies, fetching in the worshippers by gentle messages through the collector's peons, and—such is the excellence of British administration—carrying a very pretty "surplus" to the public account, after "performing the festival" with a magnificence unknown to the Hindoos. Never was there such an example of the maxim, "Do as you like, or I will make you." Mr Place's toleration extended to a pretty active coercion of the "spiritless outcasts," who would not stand up for their rights; and seriously speaking, there is no doubt that an energy was thus infused into the idolatrous system, which was a scandal to the cause of Christianity.
Happily we can speak of these blots on our Government in the past tense. The celebrated despatch indited by the present Lord Glenelg at the India Board, on the 20 th February 1833, entered fully into the question, and laid down the principles on which it ought to be regulated for the future. The Madras memorialists complained, with justice, of the delay in carrying out the directions of that despatch. But we believe that in principle, if not in every detail, it now regulates the proceedings of all the governments, and the practices complained of are no longer in existence.
The Court of the East India Direction has doubtless been largely leavened with the views which originated these objectionable practices, and still more with the "timidity" which shrunk from rescinding them when established. On the other hand, many of the leading Directors have been eminent as advocates and liberal supporters of Christian missions; the Court of Proprietors, by whom the directors are elected, repeatedly protested against the idolatrous policy; and its debates contributed materially to the more enlightened views which have eventually prevailed. There is no pretence, therefore, for charging the East India Company's government with any special perverseness in this matter: certainly we have little reason to think the national guilt would have been less, or the prospects of Christianity more cheering, if the entire administration had been vested in the Ministers of the Crown. We do not find higher principles obtaining in the colonies so ruled. The Cape of Good Hope was acquired just three years after the taking of Delhi by General Lake; but to this day the British Government, enlightened by all the wisdom of Parliament, has not only done nothing for the conversion of the Hottentots, Caffres, and Zoolus, but has not even made provision for the religious wants of the Christian settlers. The bishops, archdeacons, and chaplains in India, are liberally sustained from the public revenue. The scanty pittance of our South African bishops and clergy are drawn entirely from voluntary contributions. This contrast by no means warrants the persuasion that the unchecked administration of the Crown is the surest way to purge the national conscience. If a director be found still struggling for the "traditional policy," is it to be overlooked that the great opponent of the Directors—the minister who, at the India Board, was most absolute, and who, from his great knowledge and vigour of mind, would at this moment be the most popular appointment to supreme authority—not only publicly honoured Hindoo idolatry by bringing back the gates of Somnâth, but has attributed the present rebellion to missionary exertions, and declared a Governor-General unfit for his post who contributes even a private subscription to their support?24
These examples show that great questions of this sort cannot be disposed of simply through being "taken in hand by what is called public opinion." They demand that patient and concentrated attention from experienced minds which the Directors of the East India Company have hitherto supplied with so much benefit to the general character of our government in India, but which would certainly be looked for in vain amid the tempests of parliamentary strife, or the intrigues of political office. In religion, as in everything else, India demands the whole sould of the department which administers its government. Its material, moral, and social features must be ever present to the mind that rules it. We have a problem to solve there never presented to any other age or people. Brahmins, Moslems, Romanists, and Dutch, had all a royal road to conversion. They simply supplanted the native worship with their own, proselytising by force or fraud, treading out remonstrance with oppression. Our harder, higher, holier task is to evoke a conscience in the heathen, and then convince it. We have to govern men whose one idea of power is the subjugation of others, on the principles of civil liberty. We are to proclaim equality of sects and religious freedom in a country where faith is swallowed up in caste, and moral purity consists in degrading the rest of mankind. Moreover, while exercising an impartial government over all, we are called as Christians to propagate a religion which allows of no rival; which, tolerating and compassionating the idolator, cannot cease to attack his idolatry; which, gentle and courteous to all men, is ever striving to tread under its foot the dearest distinctions of Hindoo life. There is no human example to guide us in the twofold office. The two swords were never before lodged with rulers so sensible of the distinction between the civil and the spiritual ministry. Never had nation so much need of a watchful eye and steady hand to bear them evenly. The short-sighted prejudices of faction, and the blunders of ignorance or imbecility, easily rectified in England or in a colony by the sense and courage of the subject, may in India kindle a flame that shall spread moral ruin through the East.
What is wanted, then, is not the abolition, but the revision and improvement of a system which, drawing its raw material from the middle classes, has trained up statesmen and generals to adorn the annals of England without depriving India of their mature attention. No country ever produced a nobler band of public officers than are found in the civil and military services in India. Taken from the bosom of our Christian families in England, educated in our schools and colleges, glowing with all our English sentiments, they carry out to India a spirit which draws its every inspiration from the great mother in whose la they were nurtured, and in whose arms they hope to die. Such men are not unworthy to be England'' agents in the elevation of her native subjects; nor, when their powers have been ripened and enlarged in the glorious work, of being listened to in her councils at home.25 To these, however, the doors of Parliament must be closed; their services are unknown, their aspirations incomprehensible, to the constituencies whose "sweet voices" give admittance to the Imperial senator. We do not wish to see them dangling, either, in the ante-chamber of a minister. We trust, therefore, that both the Subadar and the Times are mistaken, and that "the Company's Raj is not over." The country will be slow to change an instrument of proved advantage during the shock and crisis of a calamity, the origin and cause of which is shrouded in so much uncertainty. It is easy to say that a form of government has failed, which, after steadily rising amid the convulsions of party conflict and colonial revolution at home, and culminating in the admiration of the world, is now obscured by one sad disaster; but it is not so easy to devise another which shall promise more glory to the sovereign country, more benefit to the subject races, or a more sure and steady progress in the advancement of Christian civilisation throughout the East.
Last modified 23 September 2007