« AnteriorContinuar »
Directors; and whatever has hitherto been the constitutional power of the Crown, practically the administration of India has been in my hands; and I am bound to say that, as far as matters of internal policy have been concerned, your servants have discreetly left me very much to myself.
The truth is, John, that your servants have never had an Indian policy. So much the better. They have never cared to have one; because they have said to themselves, "We can leave this to John Company. It is his business, not ours.' Whig and Tory-both the same-both "left it to John Company." There were matters of foreign policy which were not left-so much the worse to me. But these matters were not meddled with by your servants, John, because they were Indian questions, but because they bore directly or indirectly upon European politics. And then, what Iwas done was the result of circumstances the policy of expediency not of any definite principles belonging to one party or to another. What the Whigs did, the Tories might have done, or vice versa. It might have fallen to the lot of Sir Robert Peel to defend the war in Affghanistan, and to that of Lord Palmerston to apologise for the conquest of Scinde-to neither of which was I either an active or a consenting party. Mistakes, doubtless, have been committed both by your Ministers at home and by their representatives in India; but I have not been able to trace these errors, John, to the influence of party. I have not observed any yielding to pressure from without any operative desire to conciliate a powerful section of the House of Commons, or any influential classes of the community. In matters of foreign policy there may have been a display of rashness and recklessness, or some manifestations of the activity of personal ambition. But these are exceptional cases, by which no precedent is established; they are in no degree shaped or regulated by party-Whig and Tory (I stick to the old-fashioned words, John) being alike subject to such caprices. Neither party can be said to be of the
War or the Peace party-the interference or the non-interference party. Everything has been the result hitherto of accidental circumstance, or of personal predilection, as far as the action of English politicians (whether Cabinet Ministers or Governors-General) has been brought to bear upon our Indian politics. Our great English factions have never identified themselves with any definite Indian policy; and hence it is that our Indian Empire has escaped dangers which otherwise might have brought it to destruction.
I have been writing here, John, mainly of external politics, with which, as I have said, your servants at home have sometimes indiscreetly interfered. In such cases your servants have generally contrived to mystify you, and to keep you in ignorance of what they were doing, on the plea of State necessity, which, in your good-nature, you are commonly willing to accept, until the interest has passed away, and you have not_cared to inquire into the matter. Even here, John, I believe that, although I have really had as little to do with the matter as with the last attempt upon the life of Louis Napoleon, my existence has not been without its uses in preserving India from becoming the battlefield of party. For even here, people, in their ignorance, have declared that it has been John Company's concern
perhaps "John Company's iniquity." But in matters of internal policy, with which I have been properly identified in the public mind, how much more serviceable have I been! If everything done and everything left undone in India had been chargeable directly to the Minister of the day, what party conflicts there. would have been-what compromises
what concessions-what yieldings to external pressure! Take, for example, the case of the Manchester party, who think that India was given to us wholly and solely for the purpose of growing cheap cotton, and of consuming manufactured goods. Heaven knows, I have no objection to the growth of cotton in India; and none whatever to the importation of manufactured goods, except so far as it affects the manufactures of India,
and the principle which I am not ashamed to profess, of governing "India for the Indians"-a principle grossly violated by the absolute want of reciprocity in respect of the duties levied in each country on the manufactured goods of the other. I have no objection to help the Manchester men as far as I can, without injustice to my own people; but I know that I do not satisfy them. I know that my obstructive policy is a common object of attack. It is said that I impede private enterprise; and honourable gentlemen get up in their place in Parliament, and abuse me for my selfishness and exclusiveness, my want of public spirit, my avarice and rapacity, and everything else that is bad. It is not treated as the immediate concern of your Ministers, John, No pressure from without is brought to bear upon them. No hostile combinations affecting the stability of a government arise out of such a question, because it is believed that the business is altogether John Company's affair. When a stir is made by some interested person, the Minister generally says, in effect, that he will talk to me about it; and he has no doubt that whatever is wanted will be done. But he has no Indian policy. His opponents have no Indian policy. So one Government goes out, and another comes in; and I, John Company, go about my work just as if nothing had happened. The despatches, commenced when the Whigs are in Downing Street, are finished when the Tories have supplanted them, just as if no change had taken place. And it is the knowledge of this, John-the knowledge that there is a permanent governing body between India and the Minister of the day-a governing body with a settled policy-which prevents that disturbance of the public mind in India which otherwise would assuredly follow every announcement of a change of Ministry at home.
But although I have said, John, that your Ministers, whether Whig or Tory, have seldom or never had anything that can be called a definite Indian policy (for, indeed, they have seldom known anything about India
at all), individual men have expressed in Parliament strong opinions on individual questions, and those men have, under the operation of the whirligig of time," come to be Ministers of State. You know, John, that I am no party man; I am neither a Whig nor a Tory; I have no prejudices and predilections in favour of one Ministry or of another; and therefore, when I draw my illustrations, as they occur to me, from one party or from the other, I do so with no sort of idea of damag. ing that party in public estimation. It is with no feeling, therefore, against my Lord Derby's Administration, that I now call your attention to a little fact in connection with the recent change in your Ministerial establishment. More than two years sgo, I, John Company, in conjunction with those who were then your servants, directed the GovernorGeneral of India to declare Oude to be a province of the British Indian Empire. If you have any doubt, John, as to whether our interference was righteous, or unrighteous, I would recommend you to read a book written by one of the best of my old servants, now unhappily no morethe late Sir W. H. Sleeman; a book descriptive of the state of Oude before it passed into our hands. However, I candidly admit, that although there can be no question in any unprejudiced mind regarding the necessity of interference, the manner of interference that is, whether it should or should not have gone to the extreme length of the "annexation" of the principality-is a fair open question. I quarrel with no man for thinking that we might have acted otherwise than we did on this occasion. I did the best I could, according to the light that was in me. I believed, and I still believe, that I did what was right. However, some very strong opinions to the contrary have been expressed by members of Parliament - opinions going the length of a declaration, that even now our policy should be reversed, and Oude restored to its native rulers. And among these members of Parliament-nay, foremost and loudest of them all, Johnare some distinguished members of
your new Ministry-one, a Cabinet Minister; another, one of the chief law-officers in your Lower House; and a third, your Indian Minister and mouth-piece in that House. Now, John, here are three prominent members of your new establishment all pledged to the policy of restoring Oude to its native rulers. As I am writing this paragraph, John, the morning newspapers, which lie on my table, contain a letter written by one of the three-the Cabinet Minister-in which he expresses his "regret that Parliament has been deprived of the opportunity of condemning the original act of annexation;" and adds, “but I trust the approaching (i.e. the present) session will not pass without an investigation into the causes and effects of that gross crime; and I now beg leave to conclude our correspondence, on my part at least, by expressing my perfect agreement with you, that in the restoration of Oude to its King lies the best chance of safety to our Indian Empire." Of course, John, this was written when our aristocratic namesake was a member of your Opposition, and seemingly as far off from a seat in the Cabinet as I am from the Popedom of Rome ; and I know that the lips of honest men may be sealed and their tongues tied by office. But it is not so certain that the natives of India understand that a change of position in such cases is necessarily followed by a change of conduct. And in the present state of affairs, as your Ministers, John,are continually telling you and your fellow-subjects in India that I am moribund, I am by no means sure that the knowledge of the fact that there are three members of the Ministry pledged to the restoration of Oude-one of whom has declared the annexation of the country to be criminal, another of whom (the first law-officer of the Commons) has pronounced it to be illegal, whilst the third, who, only a few nights ago, denounced the illegality and the criminality of the whole proceeding, is now actually one of the Ministers for India-I am not at all sure, I say, that the natives of India, both in this country and in the East, will not think that, as my influence is now said to be gone for
ever, these new councils will prevail, and that Oude will be restored to its native rulers. Instead of this belief restoring tranquillity to Oude, I need hardly tell you, John, that it would tend to protract the struggle. I should not be surprised if already advice had been transmitted to India somewhat to this effect: "Lord Palmerston's Government, which sanctioned the annexation of Oude, has been extinguished. The Company has received its death-blow. Our enemies in England are prostrate; our friends are in high place. Hold out a little longer, and the game is yours. All over England the punchayuts are declaring in our favour. Petitions on our side are pouring in from all parts. The people of England are tired of the war; they have no more money, and they have no more soldiers. The hot weather is coming on-hold out till it has come; and your friends in the new Government will arrange matters so that we shall get back the kingdom to ourselves.' If these, my dear John, are not the words of letters actually written to India, they are, you may be sure, the verbal expression of feelings which, ever since the recent change in your establishment, and the announcement that my death-warrant has been signed, have been rampant in many breasts. The same thing, John, mutatis mutandis, will happen whenever there is a change in your establishment. What can be more reasonable, John, than such inferences-such conclusions ? And the time will come, too, if I am put out of the way, when such conclusions will be practically confirmed. The natives of India have already learned, John, how to rap at the door of the House of Commons. You have been surprised lately, John, at the appearance of your streets in summer weather-at the number of puggrees and paijammahs (or, as I should translate for your benefit, turbans and loose trousers) which are to be seen flaunting about your metropolis. But what you have seen will be nothing to what you will see, my poor dear John, when you have consented that India shall be governed by a Parliamentary majority. As soon as ever
there is a change of Ministry, and men who, in opposition, have declared themselves favourable to cer tain claims (not because they have any notion of the justice of these claims, but because they desire to embarrass their opponents in the Government), become part and parcel of the new Administration, every native prince or chief who has yielded to the delusion that opinions expressed in opposition will be clung to in power, will send his wakeels to England. I am proud to say, John, that the character for good faith established by my servants in India is such, that what an Englishman publicly declares, is commonly believed to be an utterance of genuine sincerity. It will take long to teach them that there are certain words to be believed only in a Parliamentary sense; and when they have learned the lesson, what will be the result? Why, a general belief that Parliament is only another name for what I will not utter.
I have said, John, that the natives of India have already learnt how to rap at the door of the House of Commons-nay, how to go at it, as we used to say at school, "plenum sed, or full Butt." There has recently been, as you are aware, an edifying inquiry in one of your Parliamentary committee-rooms; and there has recently been laid on the table of the House of Commons some still more edifying correspondence. I must say a few words to you about this case, before I pass on to the real subject of the present letter-a few words about the case of Ali Morad of Khyrpore. This man came home to endeavour to obtain a reversal of an unfavourable decision pronounced against him, after a full and impartial inquiry, by the authorities in India. He appealed to me, John; but in vain. I confess I was obdurate. I had the worst possible opinion of the man. I was convinced that the sentence which had been passed against him was just, and that the punishment which had been inflicted upon him was not in excess of his offence. But the Ameer, instructed, doubtless, by others who had been rapping at the door of Parliament before him, determined to put on the Parliament
ary screw. With this object, he obtained the services of an Irish member, a barrister by profession; and this Irish member did not-as the Parliamentary committee which sate upon his case has determined-receive a pecuniary consideration for advocating in Parliament the case of Ali Morad, or for otherwise exerting his influence as a member of the House of Commons. But frequent visits appear to have been made to the office of your Indian servants, John; and frequent hints of the inconvenience of a Parliamentary discussion of the case uttered in quarters where they were likely to take effect. Now, John, that quarter, you may be sure, was not Leadenhall Street. I am not at all afraid of Parliamentary discussion. I know my business. If there is a disposition to drag such a case as this before the House of Commons, I do not shrink from the publicity. I know what I have done, and why I have done it. I can justify my conduct; I can explain all the circumstances of the case. I am not afraid of an Irish member. I do not quail before the whole Brass Band of his holiness the Pope. Why should I reverse my decisions because interested persons are in league with ignorant persons, and both are eager for concessions, which must be carried out in my name? You may call me obstinate, if you will; and so I am— when I feel in my inmost heart that I am right. I am not to be bullied; I am not to be coaxed. But when you come down upon me, John, with the strong hand of the Constitution, I am compelled to submit. But before I submit, John, I make a fight of it; and you have now the history of some of these fights, on the table of the House of Commons.
I invite your especial attention to this case of Ali Morad. Take it home with you, John, and study it in the Easter holidays. It will beguile your time, pleasantly and instructively, on a wet day. You will see there how Ali Morad asked me to give him back the territories he had forfeited, and how I peremptorily refused. You will next see how that part of your establishment, known as the Board of Control, which has
the power to alter my letters and despatches, instead of telling Ali Morad that the decision in his case was final and unalterable, told him to go back to India, like a good boy, and establish, by his good conduct, a claim to a more favourable consideration of his case at some future period. Against this alteration I remonstrated. I knew that it would be regarded by the Ameer as a concession, and that, at all events, others would tell him that the letter indicated an intention on my part to restore his territories, if he should behave well on his return to India. I knew that I had not the most remote intention of restoring to him, if I could possibly help it, a single inch of the forfeited land; and I was unwilling to excite any expectations which I had not the remotest intention of fulfilling. I stuck, therefore, to my text. If Ali Morad should render me any service calling for reward, his case, like the cases of other princes and chiefs, might be taken into consideration, simply on its own merits; but not with reference to any former decision passed in accord ance with my estimate of an act of which nothing can ever make me think otherwise than I do. I remonstrated, therefore, but I remonstrated in vain. The letter went to Ali Morad, as altered by the Board of Control, and next day Ali Morad wrote to me-or a letter was written for him-saying that he understood the words of my letter to mean that I purposed to direct my servants in India to restore his territory to him. I answered that my letter meant nothing of the kind; but the Board, knowing better what it did mean, altered my second letter also; and as the Board finally determines, so the document passes into the hands of the recipient. Now, what I want you to know, John, is, that I did not (as I have seen it stated) yield at last, rather than have the case brought into Parliament. I went to the utmost point that the law allows, short of going to prison under a writ of mandamus. I remonstrated; and, having remon strated in vain, protested; and these remonstrances and protests are now before the country. Parliament has There are more ways than
one of making the fear of Parliament an operative principle; and I never forget that, having the power of record, I can call Parliament to my aid, when it has been attempted to convert it to my injury. Now, John, bear in mind that this publicity is your safeguard. If my Court of Directors is to be superseded by a Council of India, be sure that you insist upon it that, when that Council differs from the Minister of the day, it shall have the power of recording its grounds of difference, and that it shall be competent for any member of Parliament to move for the production of the remonstrances and protests of the Council, or individual members of the Council. This power of record vested in me, John, now enables you to understand the story of Ali Morad's visit to England, and of my little difference with the Board of Control. Reading it in connection with the evidence adduced before the Butt Committee (which is as good as a play"), you will learn more about the working of the Double Government, and get a clearer insight into what will be the working of the Single Government,if sufficient checks are not imposed upon it, than from many an elaborate treatise written for the express purpose of showing you how India is governed.
Another pleasant historiette will also be before you, John, in time for your Easter reading. It is the charming little tale of that distinguished "Moslem noble," Meer Jaffier Ali Khan, of Surat, and his recent visit to England. You have not before you, I am sorry to say, the evidence taken by a *** Committee; so that the whole story may not be quite so intelligible as the other. But there will be a good deal in it, nevertheless, not quite a mystery to you, John, who had been wont to see, for so long a time, the sleek "Moslem," in his double-roofed carriage, whirling through your great thoroughfares, from east to west and from west to east, ever and anon condescending to visit the murky regions of Leadenhall, but more frequently disporting himself in the aristocratic neighbourhoods of Westminster and Belgravia. For a time he excited quite a furore in Parliamentary circles; and I know