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HEN one reflects upon the Durbar as a whole, and thinks of its effect upon native and European alike all over India, one cannot but worship and bow down to that marvellous brain at the back of all, the man who pulled the strings Lord Curzon. The politician of the village pump declaimed against the Durbar. It was a waste of money, he said a useless display of splendour. Let us argue with him, then: let us proceed to justify the Durbar.

To begin with, the home-staying wiseacre does not realise that for centuries the Oriental idea of power has been connected with superb shows and ceremonies, and that the natives would regard anything done in a plain way as poor, and look down, not so much upon the show itself as upon the British Empire which had produced it. The very fact that in a moment of time a Western Ruler should come and beat them on their own ground has established in the mind of prince and peasant alike a lasting impression of the position of the British Raj which nothing else could possibly have achieved. Then, again, that Lord Curzon was able to bring together under one roof for the first time one hundred independent Chiefs and Rulers from all over India, many of them never having seen one another before, was in itself a great tour de force. Think what a tremendous lesson the Durbar must have been to these men! What- ever expense we may have been put to, that alone is a justification. It not only made the natives realise the great power of the British Empire, but also fired them with loyalty and caused them to be knit together in bonds of fealty.

The Durbar acted on a concentration of loyalty which spread itself all over India. To many of the great Rulers the British Empire must have been something misty and intangible; but all the mystery and intangibility passed away, as it were, and was translated to the clear and concrete, when they stood in the presence of the Empire's Viceroy and in the presence of the brother of the Emperor himself. They realised then that, great as they themselves were, and great as their fathers had been before them, eminently greater was the Ruler of England and the Indies and much else of the world besides. At the Military Review, these Princes were able to see a force of 30,000 men. Those among them who thought at all must have said to themselves, " Look at that! How splendid! Who has done it all?" The answer must have instantly suggested itself: " It has all been done by the Emperor! " They realised the power of the Sovereign they have over them, and went home with new ideas of discipline, saturated with pride and loyalty; and they spread these feelings far and wide throughout their States.

The Durbar contained a lesson not only for the Indian people, but also for the whole world, one which the whole world would do well to lay to heart. Gathered there together under the roof of that great amphitheatre were the representatives of one half of the whole human race. There were the old Powers of Europe; the young republic in America; the countries of the Far East, such as China and Japan all of these must have realised, as perhaps they never did before, how vast is this great Empire and its influence how far-reaching.


Menpes, Mortimer. The Durbar. Text by Dorothy Menpes. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1903. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California at Los Angeles Library. Web. 27 May 2017.

Last modified 31 May 2017