Графични страници
PDF файл

John CompanyFarewell to John BtdL


the courage and the self-devotion to answer, in such a case, "No, I will only sacrifice myself; choose my successor." Nor is it desirable that such sacrifices should be made. The individual Minister, in all probability, will yield to the pressure of the collective Ministry which has yielded to the pressure of Parliament, and so the Secretary of State will be brought, against his will, into violent collision with his Council.

Now this is the state of things, John, into which I am afraid you will drift, if you do not keep a tight rein upon the caprices of Parliament. The position of the Secretary of State, between his colleagues in the Council and his colleagues in the Cabinet, will often be painfully embarrassing. Of the practical result of this antagonism there can be little doubt. The Council, caring not at all for Parliamentary majorities, will at first resist with some firmness the encroachments of Parliament and the concessions of the Minister. If this resistance be obstinate, the Council will be branded as an "impracticable" institution. If, as will more probably be the case, the futility of resistance should suggest the adoption of a more passive course, the Council will eventually subside into a nonentity, and be abandoned as an useless encumbrance. Then the direct action of Parliament upon the government of India will greatly increase. Unaided by a Council of experienced and independent men, the Minister will be more open to attack. He will be more personally identified than ever with the measures of the Indian department of the State, and there will be greater gain to the Opposition in attacking them. In all probability the Indian department will be the weak point of every Government, and will therefore be the standing butt of Faction, whatever party be in the ascendant. And then, John, you will be in a fair way to fulfil the prophecy, that India will be lost to you in the House of Commons.

Discourage, therefore, sternly and resolutely, John, all unnecessary interference in Indian affairs. Remember that the measures of the Government are not the measures

of a single despotic Minister; that they are the results of much careful deliberation and discussion; that they are, in fact, well sifted by two Parliaments before they come before you. Take the Council of India (as now established) and the Council of the Governor-General of India, and you have twenty senators, each one capable of forming a correct opinion with respect to the matter before him. Select any twenty men you like from your House of Commons, and then see how lamentably inferior they are, in point of Indian knowledge and experience, to the twenty men which compose the two great Indian Councils. Those Councils may not be unanimous, it is true, but I am speaking not so much of their decisions as of their discussions; and I wish you to understand that measures of Indian government are discussed, before they come before the Parliament of Great Britain, as the measures of no other department; in fact, that they have already been not only submitted to Parliamentary investigation, but to the investigation of a Parliament selected with especial reference to the peculiar qualifications of its several members. Think of all this, John, and say whether there is any necessity, save in rare exceptional cases, for Parliamentary interference 1—and tell me whether, if it be not necessary as a safeguard against rashness and ignorance, it can be anything else but a source of peril to our Indian Empire?

Another difficulty, John, with which you will have to contend, is the electric telegraph. I recommend you, in all earnestness, to think seriously of this matter. The new system will not, in all human probability, be much more than a year old, before, in the course of a few hours, a message will be flashed from Calcutta to London, or from London to Calcutta. The "lightning post," as the natives of India felicitously call it, will be in full operation, and if you are unscathed Dy it you will be happy indeed. In any great crisis, which demands prompt action on the part of the governing country, this rapid intercommunication will necessarily be a source of strength. The re

[ocr errors]

John Company's farewell to John Bull.

sources of England will be brought to bear upon any part of India four or five weeks sooner than under existing circumstances. But the ordinary work of Government, at either end of the wire, will be greatly complicated and embarrassed by this frequent intercommunication of ideas. I do not envy, John, your future Governors-General. The Council of India, composed as it is, and as I trust it ever will be, of experienced men, will never be prone to interference. The Indian Minister will, perhaps, be equally disinclined to send curt sentences of advice or remonstrance to the distant viceroy. But do you think that Parliament will suffer him to exercise a wise forbearance? I shudder, John, when I think of the not very distant period when India will be governed by the electric telegraph. The telegraph is the great agent of interference; and it is by too much interference from England that India will, if ever, be lost to you, John. You cannot stop the progress of science any more than the progress of time; but to be forewarned, the proverb says, is to be forearmed; and I warn you, that if you do not exert yourself to restrain Parliament from continual interference in Indian affairs, the electric telegraph will cost you more than a Sepoy mutiny or a Russian invasion. In truth, I hardly see how India is to be governed under such evil influences, or who will undertake to govern it. A sensitive GovernorGeneral may be worried to death by the electric telegraph in the course of a few months, and an irritable one may be stung into indignant resignation after the experience of a fortnight. Ask Lord Dalhousie, John; ask Lord Ellenborough what he thinks about this matter;—does he think that, if there had been an electric telegraph sixty years ago, India would now be a dependency of the British Crown?

I could say much on this subject; but time presses. I am rapidly drifting into the great sea of history—a few more hours, and I shall be only a record of the past. I can do little more than give you. John, a general idea of the difficulties before you. The good sense for which you are

so distinguished must fill in the details. Perhaps one of your own Crimean generals may give you a hint. Ask General Simpson, for example—he has been in India, and may apply to the specialties of that country some of the lessons which he learnt at Sebastopol. There are two great sources of interference— measures and men. You are continually talking about the advantages of responsibility. I tell you, John, that it was irresponsibility— or responsibility so remote as very closely to resemble it—that won for us our Indian empire. There can be nothing heroic, John, where there is a continual sense of responsibility. Heretofore, our Indian statesmen have said to themselves: "I can consult no higher authority—I am thrown upon my own resources— I will do the best I can, and with a clear conscience—and, at all events, I shall have a clear stage. No one can attempt to arrest my measures, until they have gone too far to be recalled." If what he does provokes censure at home, the censure comes when the work is done. But the censure does not often come! The lapse of time between the act and the commentary upon it renders it almost useless to comment upon individual measures, except in so far as the comment may affect the future. Hence it is much the custom to say, "It is done now; it cannot be undone; and, after all, there may have been reasons for doing it, of which, at this distance, we cannot judge." I admit that this may be carried too far. Like everything else, the remoteness of which I speak has its evils. But it has this very great advantage, John, that we take more comprehensive views of that which is passing at a distance, and of which we are only informed at intervals of time; that we are not wont to interfere in details with respect to which we can be but imperfectly informed. But the electric telegraph will bring everything before us piecemeal. We shall be tempted to criticise parts, and even minute parts; we shall never have a whole brought at once bodily before us. And whilst there will be, in nearness of time, an irresistible temptation to criticise passing events in detail, there will be, in remoteness of place, a necessary source of imperfect information. Prompt judgment on passing events may be advantageous, but rash judgment is a mighty evil; and . where ignorance abounds, rashness is sure to be the concomitant of promptitude. We must remember, John, that whatever the electric telegraph may do for us, it does not place us on the spot. This mighty agent is said to "annihilate space." But this is a figure of speech which will not bear much sifting j and what I am most afraid of, with respect to the electric telegraph, is a state of things which will encourage interference, and vastly increase your presumption, without at the same time increasing your knowledge. For God's sake, John, resist the temptation to bring public opinion to bear on passing events, with which the electric telegraph can make you only imperfectly acquainted. As soon as you place the government of India in the hands of the House of Commons or of the Times newspaper, you have signed the death-warrant of our Anglo-Indian Empire.

This much with regard to measures. A few words now with regard to men. I believe, John, that future generations of your children will use, without knowing their origin, as household words, that celebrated telegram, "Take care of Dowb." If there had been no electric telegraph to the Crimea, we should never have heard of that kindly exhortation. Now, with my dying breath I warn you to beware of aristocratic influences. I am not prejudiced against the aristocracy. The aristocracy of England has sent forth some of the best and ablest public servants which the world has ever seen. But my empire, John, was won by the middle classes, and by the middle classes maintained, and I have never yet found them wanting. I have never sought, I do not seek, to uphold any exclusiveness of caste; I only contend for a clear stage and no favour. I have been charged with nepotism, I know. But what have I done? I have sent my friends, or ray friends'

friends, to India, and have left them there to take their chance. I have sent out writers and cadets to India, but they have owed nothing to me but their initial appointments. I have not interfered with their subsequent promotion. It has been my standing rule, John, to leave to the authorities in India the distribution of the loaves and fishes. If the sons, the nephews, the grandsons, and other relations, of my directors have succeeded better than other men (I merely put the case hypothetically), it is for reasons on which I shall presently enlarge. They take a deeper interest in India; they are less strangers and foreigners in the land than men of other antecedents. But men of this class have never owed their advancement to the interest of Leadenhall Street. If Elphinstone and Metcalfe had come, like Munro or Malcolm, from a counting-house or a sheep-farm in Scotland, they would have made their way to the same eminence. Say what you will about my nepotism, John, the best men under my rule have ever found their way to the best places. Has the world ever before seen such services as the civil and military services of the East India Company? Alas, John, I must ask, is the world ever likely to see such services again? Never; if you once suffer the Treasury or the Horse-Guards to look upon the great field of Indian patronage as a source of Parliamentary strength or aristocratic provision; if Dowb is to be taken care of, or India is to be Hayterised, the pith and marrow of the Indian Services are gone for ever. Think seriously of this, John. The electric telegraph, if you are not watchful, and are not resolute, will mightily promote that kind of interference which is known by the name of jobbery. The loaves and fishes are now distributed in India before we know at home that they are in the market. But before long, if you do not take heed, John, the telegraph will be continually flashing to India such messages as this—"A Suddur Judgeship is vacant—take care of Dowb." But time is fleeting; my hours are few; I must pass on to other matters.

[ocr errors]

John Company's Farewell to John Bull.

There is one thing, among others, John, against which I would warn you—and that is, what you are wont sometimes to call your "good English spirit." I like your patriotism, John—I like your pluck. You have many good and noble qualities, and I would not wish you to think meanly of yourself. The self-respect of nations is a great thing, but it has a tendency to inflate itself into presumption; and there is often an arrogance in your tone, and an exclusiveness in your manner, which would be ridiculous if they were not dangerous. You sometimes think, I am afraid, John, that all the world was made for you. You go among a strange people, and you are angry because their ways are not your ways; you think that they are little better than brute beasts, because their customs differ from your own. If you carried a hump upon your back, John, you would think every man deformed without a similar excrescence. If you had but one eye, John, you would treat binocular vision as a national offence. If you wore a tail, you would regard it as the type of an exceptional civilisation.

It is this intense self-appreciation, John, which makes you so indifferent a citizen of the world. Whilst your unappeasable enterprise and your indomitable energy make for you new homes in every corner of the globe, you can seldom make yourself at homo without first expelling the old inmates of your new dwelling-place. Where you colonise, the aborigines disappear. In India, you do not attempt to colonise; and you never make yourself at home. But you carry the same exclusive, absorbing spirit of self-assertion with you. The millions by whom you are surrounded exist in your imagination only for your use. There they are, so many "niggers," John — so many "black fellows" to work for you, to fight for you, to die for you, to render up their substance to you, to be shaped according to the rule and plummet of your home-bred notions. All that belongs to them is wrong, all that belongs to you is right. You cannot for a moment divest yourself of your individuality, and look at the questions before you from

any other than your own point of view. "India for the English" is your cry. The children of the soil have long been in your estimation so many stocks and stones. Men fresh from England, with hot English blood in them, are prone to violence; and hundreds, who would not lift up their hands against an English beggar in the street, have been wont to strike their Mohammedan and Hindoo servants as though they were beasts of burden or mere insensate machines. They who are ordinarily considerate in their language and their demeanour towards the natives of India, are men who have resided long in India, who know the people, and who speak their language; or those who, lacking much Indian experience, are moved by the traditions at which, John, you are prone .to sneer. You talk about offices in India being heirlooms in certain families; you say that you wish to see new names in the lists of the Indian services; and that you would fain see those services overborne by an independent European community. My exclusiveness has often excited your vehement indignation. Your theory was right, John. But, practically, this exclusiveness had its uses. There was a traditional interest in India — a traditional kindness for the people kept alive in many families. It was no uncommon thing for a young civilian or a young soldier, on landing in India, to be met by one of the native servants who had dandled him in his boyhood, eager to see "Harry baba," and, perhaps, to follow his fortunes. Youths of this stamp, born in India, and taught to look to India as their future home, if not somewhat denationalised, John, were at all events less encumbered with the national self-love of which I have been speaking. Their good English spirit did not teach them to hate or to despise the "niggers." They had learned better thoughts and better feelings from their parents. It is not from the mouth of the "old Indian," even now, that you will hear the people of India, as a nation, sweepingly condemned.

Now, what I am afraid of, John, is, that under the new system a new race of men, without any of these old traditions and family ties, will make their way to India, with new English notions, and that of these notions one of the most prominent will be that a common detestation of the natives is the paramount duty of every Englishman. It is true that many dire atrocities have been committed during the past calamitous year. It is natural that we should hate these iniquities, or even the perpetrators of these iniquities; but to hate a whole nation is a very different thing. When we consider the immense population of India, and the small proportion that has actually risen against us, we cannot but regard the active hostility, out of which these atrocities have proceeded, as of an exceptional character— why, then, should it influence our feelings towards the great mass of the people? I confess, John, that, in spite of all that has happened, I have a Kindness towards the people of India; and a profound conviction that, if you do not entertain similar feelings of kindness, you will never be able to govern the country. You must look to this, John. You have first to tread out the smouldering fires of rebellion, and then it must be your great work to quench the animosities which have been awakened, and restore the confidence which has been broken, by the unholy strife of the past year. Your message to all your children, John, must be simply this—"Let love abound." But it cannot abound so long as you entertain, and teach your sons to entertain, this ridiculously exalted opinion of your own merits. At the bottom of all true charity there must needs be a well-spring of humility. Mistrust yourself, then, John. Think whether all this would have happened in India if you had been the faultless monster which you believe yourself to be.

But I am not going to open old sores, John. You may have oeen to blame—I may have been to blame. What it most behoves us now to regard is the Future. There is an evil, and a remedy must be applied. But what is that remedy to be 1 I know that you are ready with an answer, John—"Anglicism;" — on

a large scale, Anglicism ;—English troops; English law; English language; English religion; English everything. Turn your millions of Hindostanee subjects into Englishmen, and all will go well. My dear John, you cannot turn them into Englishmen. You must be content, for many a long year, to see them what they now are. Keep back from Anglicism. The less obtrusive, in the present state of affairs, that you make it, the better. English troops you must have; but you can never hold India by the brute force of English troops. It is not the physical strength, it is the moral impression of the dominant race to which you must trust for the retention of your hold upon the country. Nobly, John—gloriously, John—have you shown them, during this last calamitous year, what a handful of this dominant race can do against teeming thousands of subject mutineers. Never have the fortitude, the perseverance, the indomitable energy, the mighty patience of the Anglo-Saxon race been so signally demonstrated in the face of such gigantic difficulties. And the triumph, which, under Providence, will ere long be complete, may make you, if you use the opportunity wisely, even stronger than before.

Use it, then, wisely. Throw away utterly the thought of ever ruling such a country by an overawing display of military force. Having exhausted your mother country, John, you may indent upon your colonies for the raw material of soldiers; and you may exert yourself to keep up an unextinguishable hatred between race and race; but, relying upon this, John, you must at last be driven into the sea. Keep up such an European force in India as the exigencies of your own country will allow you to do, but only that your clemency may not be misinterpreted into weakness. You can best afford to be merciful, you can best afford to be tolerant and conciliatory, when you stand in such an attitude of strength that mildness cannot be mistaken for cowardice, or forbearance for indecision. Having shown what you can do, John, you may gain credit for not doing it any more. There

« ПредишнаНапред »