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not what your faithful Commons would not have done at his bidding, to throw the whole Government of India into confusion, if the House of Peers had not stepped in wisely to avert the evil. Of course, it was all fair and above-board; and nothing but an abstract love of justice influenced those who were most eager to promote the claims of the "Moslem noble." His Secretary (who, by the way, has a little case of his own, which has also been brought out for your Easter reading) has emphatically declared that it was not a matter of shawls or of other valuables. Who could think of such a thing? "Brutus is an honourable man." Your faithful Commons, John, are "all honourable men." I only ask you, as another illustration of the advantages of putting me out of the way, to read the Jaffier Ali correspondence after you have read the Ali Morad papers; and then to consider whether some little inconvenience may not result, some day, from giving up India wholly to the tender mercies of the Minister of the day and a Parliamentary majority.
I don't deal in scandal, John; and I am willing enough to dismiss this unsavoury topic. I have told you that Brutus is an honourable man. So are they all-all honourable men. But admitting this, at least for the sake of argument, it is still no small evil that sinister reports-I need not explain to you of what charactershould continually be floating about the social atmosphere. If the incorrupta fides really exists, it is a pity that the princes and chiefs of India should not feel, in their inmost hearts, that they have as good a chance of obtaining justice from the English Parliament by suing in forma pauperis, as in any other way. But my fear is, John, that if they do not altogether feel this now, they will not feel it at all if I cease to exist. You admit, John, that, lumbering obstructive though I be, none of the sinister rumours to which I have referred ever affect my character. It is never said that shawls, with or without bank-notes pinned into their corners, are left in my Directors' rooms, or that any one of my Directors' wives is ever seen sporting Moslem jewels in public.
Not a whisper, John, has ever been raised against the honesty of one of my servants in Leadenhall Street. If they obstruct business of one kind, you may be sure that they obstruct business of another. It is, doubtless, a difficulty in these little matters, that the business must be done through me. I may be overruled, or I may be coerced-but, practically, I am a difficulty; and I repeat this, John, because I desire, above all things, that, if I am to cease to exist, you should be careful to raise up some other standing difficulty of the same kind. I have told you already that you cannot erect one by any means the same in degree, as I have always been; but you may have one somewhat of the same kind. You must have a body, John, between India and Parliament, neither ignorant nor accessible. You must have knowledge; for ignorance, as you will gather from the papers I am speaking of, makes unjust and inexpedient concessions rather than expose itself, and does other things of which I need not now speak; and you must have independence Heaven knows what will become of your Indian Empire before the world is five years older than it is now.
But how are these essential qualities to be obtained, John, in your new Indian Government ? Before you read this, you will have two schemes for the future management of your Indian affairs before you, and you may choose between them. You have had Lord Palmerston's Bill for at least a month in your hands; and I dare say that you have not cared to read it. No sooner had he laid it on the table, than he was expelled from office. I dare say, therefore, that you have regarded it as so much waste-paper— valueless as yesterday's play-bill, or a betting-book of a race that has been run. But it is not altogether a thing stale and unprofitable, for something may be learnt from it, if only in the way of warning; and it is by no means certain that a great battle will not be fought upon the respective merits of these two bills. Palmerston, as you know, John, has not tossed his scheme into the wastepaper basket. He thinks, or pro
fesses to think, that it is a very good scheme as it is, and that the men who have supplanted him will not produce a better. Now, I can tell you at least this much, John, that it would be almost impossible to produce a worse. Be upon your guard, my dear friend. There is likely to be a great fight for office; and the future government of India, once again after a lapse of three-quarters of a century, is to be the battlefield of party. Do you honestly believe, John, that both of these two great factions are thinking at this moment of the best mode of governing the Anglo-Indian Empire? You are famous for your credulity, but I do not believe that it has ever reached to such a pitch as that. In truth, my dear friend, we see in this threatened battle of the bills a beginning of the party-strife, which all who have pondered deeply over the constitution of our Indian government have ever declared to be the most perilous of all perils that can assail an empire so constituted. Well might one of the wisest of my servants, ever keenly alive as he was to the existence of other dangers (and among them a mutinous Sepoy army)-well might that wise ruler of three great dependencies of the British crown exclaim, that if India is ever lost to us, it will be lost in the House of Commons.
Look to this, John-look to it diligently, earnestly, resolutely. Do not think for a moment that it is a small matter. Seldom, perhaps never, has a greater claimed all your most serious thoughts. Do nothing to encourage this contest, but call for calm deliberation, for dispassionate inquiry. Insist upon it that your representatives shall not legislate for the future government of the AngloIndian Empire in ignorance and in haste. Why, John, it is not long since the most eminent of your present servants emphatically pronounced against this precipitate legislation. And what do they say now? Not that, being in power, they will do what they recommended when out of power, but that they will do the very thing which a few weeks ago they condemned. And what is the argument adduced in favour of
this apparent inconsistency? Why, that they were outvoted. Because Lord Palmerston brought in a bill for my destruction, with the consent of the House, they must do the same thing. If it was not right for Palmerston to slay me in the present conjuncture, is it right for Derby to give me the death-blow? I shall be told, perhaps, that that vote of the House of Commons really gave me my death-blow, and that it is impossible that I should survive it. Give me a chance, John, and you'll see how much blood the old fellow has in him still. The leader of the House of Commons, addressing his constituents, was pleased to call me a corpse. I could show the right honourable gentleman how much vitality I have in me. I assure you that I do not feel at all the worse for that vote of the House of Commons. Nothing that others do to me can disgrace me. I can only disgrace myself. A large number of gentlemen, I know, voted in favour of the principle that it is expedient to demolish me without loss of time. I should have liked to put the greater number of those gentlemen through their A B C of Indian government. I'll answer for it, that not one in ten is up in his Indian "primer." Do you think then, John, that I feel any shame because men ignorant of the very rudiments of the subject on which they are called upon to legislate, declare themselves opposed to my continued existence? The shame attaches to them, John, not to me; and the shame will attach to you as a perpetual settlement, if you suffer so mighty a question as this to be disposed of in the flush of presumptuous ignorance, and in the passionate excitement of party strife.
But you will tell me, perhaps, John, that it is not what I think of myself, but what others think of me. You will say, echoing the opinions of some of your head-servants, that my prestige is gone altogether that after such a sentence has been pronounced against me by the House of Commons, I can no longer enjoy the respect either of the people of England or the people of India. I emphatically deny this, John. It is not unknown in England-it is not un
known in India-that less than a year ago the House of Commons cared as little for India as it knew. It is not forgotten in England, it is not forgotten in India, that even up to last midsummer, John, it was difficult to get forty members to sit out a debate on the most important Indian subjects. I have seen, with grief and vexation, the empty benches in that beautiful debating - hall of yours, when the affairs of my countless millions of people have been feebly discussed, more as a painful necessity, to keep up appearances, than for anything else. Although I have never wished that Indian affairs should become objects of party strife, I have wished to see them excite the interest of the House, and to hear them discussed on broad principles, and in a spirit of calm judicial in quiry. But your House of Commons, repeat, which now believes itself to be competent to decide off-hand on the most difficult of all questions the best form of Government for our anomalous Indian Empire-has only within the last eight or nine months given a thought to India at all, except upon great exceptional occasions, when something more than India was on the cards. You may think, John, that this is not known, and discussed, and deplored in India; but I assure you that the knowledge of it is such, that however bad an opinion any one may have of me, he has a worse opinion of your House of Commons. In India, John, that boasted institution of yours is often spoken of in language which I will not pain you by repeating. Has it done anything to revive the confidence of those who wish well to India and her people? The effect of a judgment such as this, upon popular opinion, depends upon the character of the judge. Now, I protest against any assumption that my prestige is destroyed by the adverse judgment of a judge utterly incompetent, in the present state of its knowledge, to pronounce a wellconsidered opinion upon a subject of such magnitude as the future government of India.
But supposing that it were a competent tribunal, what then? The House of Commons declares against me, and I survive. What is the in
ference, John? That I hold my own in spite of the House of Commons ; and is this a sign of feebleness or of strength? Of all things in the world the most uncertain, the most fluctuating, the most unreliable, is a Parliamentary majority. Who ever dreamt of that Parliamentary majority which sent Lord Palmerston into private life? Is the Palmerstonian party moribund-is it a corpse-is it never to show its face again, because a Parliamentary majority has decided against it? I dare say the party feels itself as brisk as ever, and would be very slow to admit that its prestige is gone. And what does Lord Derby think of Parliamentary majorities? His opinions are on record. Did he not write to one of my old servants, whom he had persuaded to take a place under him, well knowing that your service, John, does not yield such good men as mine-did he not write, I say, to my old servant, Charles Metcalfe, that he must go on, in spite of Parliamentary majorities?- did he not say that "hardly a session passes in which the Government, if not actually defeated by a vote in the House, is not compelled to avoid defeat by suffering measures to drop which have been introduced by them as a Government?" "I will only mention," he goes on to say in this letter-and an admirable one it is
one instance among a hundred similar which might be adduced." And he then adduces his instance, and writes more in the same strain. Am I, then, to be snuffed out by a Parliamentary majority? Not a bit of it! I should do my business-nay, I am doing it quite as well, in spite of that adverse vote. I assure you that I feel quite vigorous under it. They who know anything about the constitution of the House of Commons know the value of such a vote; and those who don't, would, if I were to survive it, John, only jump to the conclusion that I have stamina enough to sustain unhurt even the assaults of that great legislative body. You are saying now that our Indian Empire will be stronger after the great Sepoy mutiny than before, because we shall have shown our ability to hold our own in spite
of the native army. Every great storm, bravely weathered, shows of what good stuff our timbers are made. Why am I, John, to be a solitary exception to the rule?
But I will go a little further still, John, and say that, assuming all this talk about the injury done to my character and my prestige by the adverse vote of the House of Commons to be so much undeniable truth -assuming that, for a time, my credit is shaken that I am, as you say, "under a cloud:" well, what then? Say it is an evil-say it is a great evil; but do you think it is an evil, the magnitude of which can be compared with that of inflicting permanently upon India a radically bad Government? When I use the word "permanently," John, I feel that it is a wrong one; for you may rely upon it that there will be no permanence in our Indian Empire if you now suffer yourself to be betrayed into a fatal error. I could recover my prestige if it were to be lost for a while; but I doubt whether, if you make a false step now, you will ever recover your self. The question for you to consider is, not how far a certain vote may have affected my character, but what is the form of government best calculated to render our Indían Empire permanent and prosperous. This, as I have told you before-but as I cannot tell you too often-is a very great and a very difficult question, not to be settled off-hand by a party of men, whether Whig or Tory, the majority of whom have never given a month's-perhaps not a week's serious consideration to the subject of Indian government throughout the whole course of their lives. Again, therefore, I say to you, John, tell your servants to pause. I shall not let matters get worse whilst you are calmly and dispassionately making up your mind whether the immolation of John Company will confer a blessing or inflict a curse upon the country which he has so long governed.
But if they will not pause, Johnif they insist upon going on with the project of my immediate subversion -take care that they substitute something in the place of my government not choke-full of all the
evils which I have indicated in my former letters-take heed that they do not give up India wholly to the direct government of the Crown; that is, as I have often told you, to the government of a Parliamentary majority. There is, at all events, one comfort, John, in the reflection that nothing can be much worse than the Bill which Lord Palmerston has presented to Parliament. If, as now appears likely, there is to be, after Easter, a great battle of the Bills-if the Palmerstonian clauses are to be arrayed against those of the Derbyite leader-I hope that you will understand by this time that the great blot of Lord Palmerston's Bill is, that it proposes to confer too much power upon the Crown-that it contemplates the existence of no substantive and permanent body, that can really be called anything better than a sham, between India and the Minister of the day. It proposes to constitute a Council of eight members. The Bill is before you, John; take it up and read the precise words of the draft-" For the purposes of the Government of India, under this Act, a Council shall be established, to consist of a President and eight other members, and to be styled 'The Presi dent and Council for the Affairs of India:' and it shall be lawful for Her Majesty, from time to time, by warrant under her royal sign-manual, to
appoint a person to be, during Her Majesty's pleasure, President of the Council for the Affairs of India; and, by like warrants, to appoint eight other persons to be ordinary members of such Council." The entire power of nomination is vested in the Crown. The elective principle is cast out altogether. The Council is too small for the work of government, and too weak for independence. Now, any Bill which proposes to enlarge the number of the Council, and to appoint the whole or a part of the councillors by election, must be an improvement on the Palmerstonian Bill; because it will impart to the Council, at the same time, greater practical utility and greater independence. Now, John, all kinds of attempts will be made to reason you out of this. You will be told, in a variety of different ways, that inas
much as that a Council of eighteen, a portion of which is elected, will nearly resemble the constitution of the present Court of Directors, the proposed reform will be insufficient; in point of fact, that it will be a mere change of names. But don't be led astray by this. Such a change, John, will be much more than a change of names. It will, indeed, be in consonance with the expressed views of Lord Palmerston's Ministry. It was not alleged, John, that I am inefficient; it was not alleged that I am corrupt. I received many pleasant compliments from unexpected quarters. It was merely said that the Double Government is an evil, because it engenders delays; in fact, that the whole system is too cumbrous and complex. According to their argument, John, a Bill which proposes to disembarrass the existing system of all these incumbrances and complications-in other words, to cast out what was said to be an evil, whilst retaining what was admitted to be good (namely, the knowledge and independence of the present Court of Directors)—is the very thing required in the present conjuncture. Now, John, I do not say that any Council sitting with the President, and under his immediate personal control, can ever be so independent as a Court of Directors sitting at the other end of the town; but, according to the declared wishes on the one side, and admissions on the other, of the late Government, a Council of eighteen, partly elected, is more in accordance with their views than a Council of eight entirely nominated by the Crown. But rely upon it, John, that they are not thinking of Indiathey are not thinking of good government-they are simply thinking of their party and themselves-thinking how to embarrass a Ministry that has brought forth a far better measure than the original Palmerstonian conception.
I stick to the elective principle. If I am to be destroyed as a governing body, I shall lie peaceably in my grave, only under the knowledge that the new Council is partly an elected Council. I have no objection to a certain number of Crown nominees, as a little leaven in the entire lump;
but the nomination of the whole, John, by the Minister of the day, is intolerable. When the East India Company is destroyed, there may be some difficulty in establishing another constituency, or another electing body, not properly to be called a constituency. It was Lord Ellenborough's idea, out of office, to add to the present Court of Proprietors a body of retired Indian servants, with knowledge, and, for the most part, with independence, and all more or less with a stake in the country." I am not so bigoted to the existing system as to consider that there is anything very preposterous in such a scheme. I believe that the defects of the existing constituency are very much overrated. The proprietors of India stock, whether men or women, have at least as much intelligence and independence as those who vote for the members of your Parliaments. I know that it has been often said, that the best men are deterred from thinking of the direction by the horrors of the canvass. But how many have been frightened away from Parliament by the thoughts of this canvass? You often tell me of the Elphinstones and the Metcalfes who would not enter the direction through such a road. Would they enter Parliament by the same road? Metcalfe, eager as he was to become a member of the House of Commons, shrunk from the canvass; and yet, John, I do not think that any one will have the hardihood to tell you that, therefore, your members of Parliament ought to be nominated by the Crown.
Far less intolerable than the idea of giving the entire nomination of India to the Crown, is the compromise of erecting the Privy Council into an electing body. The Privy Council consists, I believe, of some two hundred members, pretty equally divided among the great political parties of the country. Of course, there are objections to such a scheme - of course, there are difficulties. There are objections to every schemedifficulties in the way of its practical realisation; but what we have to think of, John, is the choice of difficulties. All legislation more or less involves a choice of difficulties.