Speeches on Questions of Public Policy, Volume 1
John Bright

Part 2 out of 9

have some confidence, you would have begun that which will be of
inestimable value hereafter--you would have begun to unite the
government with the governed; and unless you do that, no government will
be safe, and any hurricane may overturn it or throw it into confusion.

Now, suppose the Governor-General gone, the Presidencies established,
the Governors equal in rank and dignity, and their Councils constituted
in the manner I have indicated, is it not reasonable to suppose that the
delay which has hitherto been one of the greatest curses of your Indian
Government would be almost altogether avoided? Instead of a Governor-
General living in Calcutta, or at Simla, never travelling over the whole
of the country, and knowing very little about it, and that little only
through other official eyes, is it not reasonable to suppose that the
action of the Government would be more direct in all its duties and in
every department of its service than has been the case under the system
which has existed until now? Your administration of the law, marked by
so much disgrace, could never have lasted so long as it has done if the
Governors of your Presidencies had been independent Governors. So with
regard to matters of police, education, public works, and everything
that can stimulate industry, and so with regard to your system of
taxation. You would have in every Presidency a constant rivalry for
good. The Governor of Madras, when his term of office expired, would be
delighted to show that the people of that Presidency were contented,
that the whole Presidency was advancing in civilization, that roads and
all manner of useful public works were extending, that industry was
becoming more and more a habit of the people, and that the exports and
imports were constantly increasing. The Governors of Bombay and the rest
of the Presidencies would be animated by the same spirit, and so you
would have all over India, as I have said, a rivalry for good; you would
have placed a check on that malignant spirit of ambition which has
worked so much evil--you would have no Governor so great that you could
not control him, none who might make war when he pleased; war and
annexation would be greatly checked, if not entirely prevented; and I do
in my conscience believe you would have laid the foundation for a better
and more permanent form of government for India than has ever obtained
since it came under the rule of England.

But how long does England propose to govern India? Nobody answers that
question, and nobody can answer it. Be it 50, or 100, or 500 years, does
any man with the smallest glimmering of common sense believe that so
great a country, with its twenty different nations and its twenty
languages, can ever be bound up and consolidated into one compact and
enduring empire? I believe such a thing to be utterly impossible. We
must fail in the attempt if ever we make it, and we are bound to look
into the future with reference to that point. The Presidency of Madras,
for instance, having its own Government, would in fifty years become one
compact State, and every part of the Presidency would look to the city
of Madras as its capital, and to the Government of Madras as its ruling
power. If that were to go on for a century or more, there would be five
or six Presidencies of India built up into so many compact States; and
if at any future period the sovereignty of England should be withdrawn,
we should leave so many Presidencies built up and firmly compacted
together, each able to support its own independence and its own
Government; and we should be able to say we had not left the country a
prey to that anarchy and discord which I believe to be inevitable if we
insist on holding those vast territories with the idea of building them
up into one great empire. But I am obliged to admit that mere machinery
is not sufficient in this case, either with respect to my own scheme or
to that of the noble lord (Lord Stanley). We want something else than
mere clerks, stationery, despatches, and so forth. We want what I shall
designate as a new feeling in England, and an entirely new policy in
India. We must in future have India governed, not for a handful of
Englishmen, not for that Civil Service whose praises are so constantly
sounded in this House. You may govern India, if you like, for the good
of England, but the good of England must come through the channels of
the good of India. There are but two modes of gaining anything by our
connection with India. The one is by plundering the people of India, and
the other by trading with them. I prefer to do it by trading with them.
But in order that England may become rich by trading with India, India
itself must become rich, and India can only become rich through the
honest administration of justice and through entire security of life and

Now, as to this new policy, I will tell the House what I think the Prime
Minister should do. He ought, I think, always to choose for his
President of the Board of Control or his Secretary of State for India, a
man who cannot be excelled by any other man in his Cabinet, or in his
party, for capacity, for honesty, for attention to his duties, and for
knowledge adapted to the particular office to which he is appointed. If
any Prime Minister appoint an inefficient man to such an office, he will
be a traitor to the Throne of England. That officer, appointed for the
qualities I have just indicated, should, with equal scrupulousness and
conscientiousness, make the appointments, whether of the Governor-
General, or (should that office be abolished) of the Governors of the
Presidencies of India. Those appointments should not be rewards for old
men simply because such men have done good service when in their prime,
nor should they be rewards for mere party service, but they should be
appointments given under a feeling that interests of the very highest
moment, connected with this country, depend on those great offices in
India being properly filled. The same principles should run throughout
the whole system of government; for, unless there be a very high degree
of virtue in all these appointments, and unless our great object be to
govern India well and to exalt the name of England in the eyes of the
whole Native population, all that we have recourse to in the way of
machinery will be of very little use indeed.

I admit that this is a great work; I admit, also, that the further I go
into the consideration of this question, the more I feel that it is too
large for me to grapple with, and that every step we take in it should
be taken as if we were men walking in the dark. We have, however,
certain great principles to guide us, and by their light we may make
steps in advance, if not fast, at any rate sure. But we start from an
unfortunate position. We start from a platform of conquest by force of
arms extending over a hundred years. There is nothing in the world worse
than the sort of foundation from which we start. The greatest genius who
has shed lustre on the literature of this country has said, 'There is no
sure foundation set on blood;' and it may be our unhappy fate, in regard
to India, to demonstrate the truth of that saying. We are always
subjugators, and we must be viewed with hatred and suspicion. I say we
must look at the thing as it is, if we are to see our exact position,
what our duty is, and what chance there is of our retaining India and of
governing it for the advantage of its people. Our difficulties have been
enormously increased by the revolt. The people of India have only seen
England in its worst form in that country. They have seen it in its
military power, its exclusive Civil Service, and in the supremacy of a
handful of foreigners. When Natives of India come to this country, they
are delighted with England and with Englishmen. They find themselves
treated with a kindness, a consideration, a respect, to which they were
wholly strangers in their own country; and they cannot understand how it
is that men who are so just, so attentive to them here, sometimes,
indeed too often, appear to them in a different character in India. I
remember that the Hon. Frederic Shaw, who wrote some thirty years since,
stated, in his able and instructive book, that even in his time the
conduct of the English in India towards the Natives was less agreeable,
less kindly, less just than it had been in former years; and in 1853,
before the Committee presided over by the hon. Member for Huntingdon
(Mr. T. Baring), evidence was given that the feeling between the rulers
and the ruled in India was becoming every year less like what could be
desired. It was only the other day there appeared in a letter of _The
Times_' correspondent an anecdote which illustrates what I am saying,
and which I feel it necessary to read to the House. Mr. Russell, of
_The Times_, says:--

'I went off to breakfast in a small mosque, which has been turned
into a _salle manger_ by some officers stationed here, and
I confess I should have eaten with more satisfaction had I not
seen, as I entered the enclosure of the mosque, a native badly
wounded on a charpoy, by which was sitting a woman in deep
affliction. The explanation given of this scene was, that "----
[the name of the Englishman was left blank] had been licking two
of his bearers (or servants), and had nearly murdered them." This
was one of the servants, and, without knowing or caring to know
the causes of such chastisement, I cannot but express my disgust
at the severity--to call it by no harsher name--of some of our
fellow-countrymen towards their domestics.'

The reading of that paragraph gave me extreme pain. People may fancy
that this does not matter much; but I say it matters very much. Under
any system of government you will have Englishmen scattered all over
India, and conduct like that I have just described, in any district,
must create ill feeling towards England, to your rule, to your
supremacy; and when that feeling has become sufficiently extensive, any
little accident may give fire to the train, and you may have calamities
more or less serious, such as we have had during the last twelve months.
You must change all this if you mean to keep India. I do not now make
any comment upon the mode in which this country has been put into
possession of India. I accept that possession as a fact. There we are;
we do not know how to leave it, and therefore let us see if we know how
to govern it. It is a problem such as, perhaps, no other nation has had
to solve. Let us see whether there is enough of intelligence and virtue
in England to solve the difficulty. In the first place, then, I say, let
us abandon all that system of calumny against the Natives of India which
has lately prevailed. Had that people not been docile, the most
governable race in the world, how could you have maintained your power
for 100 years? Are they not industrious, are they not intelligent, are
they not--upon the evidence of the most distinguished men the Indian
Service ever produced--endowed with many qualities which make them
respected by all Englishmen who mix with them? I have heard that from
many men of the widest experience, and have read the same in the works
of some of the best writers upon India. Then let us not have these
constant calumnies against such a people. Even now there are men who go
about the country speaking as if such things had never been
contradicted, and talking of mutilations and atrocities committed in
India. The less we say about atrocities the better. Great political
tumults are, I fear, never brought about or carried on without grievous
acts on both sides deeply to be regretted. At least, we are in the
position of invaders and conquerors--they are in the position of the
invaded and the conquered. Whether I were a native of India, or of
England, or of any other country, I would not the less assert the great
distinction between their position and ours in that country, and I would
not permit any man in my presence, without rebuke, to indulge in the
calumnies and expressions of contempt which I have recently heard poured
forth without measure upon the whole population of India.

There is one other point to which I wish to address myself before I sit
down, and in touching upon it I address myself especially to the noble
Lord (Lord Stanley) and his colleagues in the Government. If I had the
responsibility of administering the affairs of India, there are certain
things I would do. I would, immediately after this Bill passes, issue a
Proclamation in India which should reach every subject of the British
Crown in that country, and be heard of in the territories of every
Indian Prince or Rajah. I would offer a general amnesty. It is all very
well to talk of issuing an amnesty to all who have done nothing; but who
is there that has done nothing in such a state of affairs as has
prevailed during the past twelve months? If you pursue your vengeance
until you have rooted out and destroyed every one of those soldiers who
have revolted, when will your labour cease? If you are to punish every
non-military Native of India who has given a piece of bread or a cup of
water to a revolted trooper, how many Natives will escape your
punishment and your vengeance? I would have a general amnesty, which
should be put forth as the first great act done directly by the Queen of
England in the exercise of Sovereign power over the territories of
India. In this Proclamation 1 would promise to the Natives of India a
security for their property as complete as we have here at home; and I
would put an end to all those mischievous and irritating inquiries which
have been going on for years in many parts of India as to the title to
landed estates, by which you tell the people of that country that unless
each man can show an unimpeachable title to his property for ninety
years you will dispossess him. What would be the state of things here if
such a regulation were adopted?

I would also proclaim to the people of India that we would hold sacred
that right of adoption which has prevailed for centuries in that
country. It was only the other day that I had laid before me the case of
a Native Prince who has been most faithful to England during these
latter trials. When he came to the throne at ten years of age he was
made to sign a document, by which he agreed that if he had no children
his territories should be at the disposal of the British Government, or
what was called the paramount power. He has been married; he has had one
son and two or three daughters; but within the last few weeks his only
son has died. There is grief in the palace, and there is consternation
among the people, for the fact of this agreement entered into by the boy
of ten years old is well known to all the inhabitants of the country.
Representations have already been made to this country in the hope that
the Government will cancel that agreement, and allow the people of that
State to know that the right of adoption would not be taken from their
Prince in case he should have no other son. Let the Government do that,
and there is not a corner of India into which that intelligence would
not penetrate with the rapidity of lightning. And would not that calm
the anxieties of many of those independent Princes and Rajahs who are
only afraid that when these troubles are over, the English Government
will recommence that system of annexation out of which I believe all
these troubles have arisen?

I would tell them also in that Proclamation, that while the people of
England hold that their own, the Christian religion, is true and the
best for mankind, yet that it is consistent with that religion that they
who profess it should hold inviolable the rights of conscience and the
rights of religion in others. I would show, that whatever violent, over-
zealous, and fanatical men may have said in this country, the Parliament
of England, the Ministers of the Queen, and the Queen herself are
resolved that upon this point no kind of wrong should be done to the
millions who profess the religions held to be true in India. I would do
another thing. I would establish a Court of Appeal, the Judges of which
should be Judges of the highest character in India, for the settlement
of those many disputes which have arisen between the Government of India
and its subjects, some Native and some European. I would not suffer
these questions to come upon the floor of this House. I would not forbid
them by statute, but I would establish a Court which should render it
unnecessary for any man in India to cross the ocean to seek for that
justice which he would then be able to get in his own country without
corruption or secret bargain. Then I would carry out the proposition
which the noble Lord has made to-night, and which the right hon.
Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer made when he introduced his
Bill, that a Commission should be issued to inquire into the question of
finance. I would have other commissions, one for each Presidency, and I
would tell the people of India that there should be a searching inquiry
into their grievances, and that it was the interest and the will of the
Queen of England that those grievances should be redressed.

Now, perhaps I may be told that I am proposing strange things, quite out
of the ordinary routine of government. I admit it. We are in a position
that necessitates something out of the ordinary routine. There are
positions and times in the history of every country, as in the lives of
individuals, when courage and action are absolute salvation; and now the
Crown of England, acting by the advice of the responsible Ministers,
must, in my opinion, have recourse to a great and unusual measure in
order to allay the anxieties which prevail throughout the whole of
India. The people of India do not like us, but they scarcely know where
to turn if we left them. They are sheep literally without a shepherd.
They are people whom you have subdued, and who have the highest and
strongest claims upon you--claims which you cannot forget--claims which,
if you do not act upon, you may rely upon it that, if there be a
judgment for nations--as I believe there is--as for individuals, our
children in no distant generation must pay the penalty which we have
purchased by neglecting our duty to the populations of India.

I have now stated my views and opinions on this question, not at all in
a manner, I feel, equal to the question itself. I have felt the
difficulty in thinking of it; I feel the difficulty in speaking of it--
for there is far more in it and about it than any man, however much he
may be accustomed to think upon political questions, and to discuss
them, can comprise at all within the compass of a speech of ordinary
length. I have described the measures which I would at once adopt for
the purpose of soothing the agitation which now disturbs and menaces
every part of India, and of inviting the submission of those who are now
in arms against you. Now I believe--I speak in the most perfect honesty--
I believe that the announcement of these measures would avail more in
restoring tranquillity than the presence of an additional army, and I
believe that their full and honest adoption would enable you to retain
your power in India. I have sketched the form of government which I
would establish in India and at home, with the view of securing perfect
responsibility and an enlightened administration. I admit that these
things can only be obtained in degree, but I am convinced that a
Government such as that which I have sketched would be free from most of
the errors and the vices that have marked and marred your past career in
India. I have given much study to this great and solemn question. I
entreat the House to study it not only now, during the passing of this
Bill, but after the Session is over, and till we meet again next year,
when in all probability there must be further legislation upon this
great subject; for I believe that upon this question depends very much,
for good or for evil, the future of this country of which we are
citizens, and which we all regard and love so much. You have had enough
of military reputation on Eastern fields; you have gathered large
harvests of that commodity, be it valuable or be it worthless. I invite
you to something better, and higher, and holier than that; I invite you
to a glory not 'fanned by conquest's crimson wing,' but based upon the
solid and lasting benefits which I believe the Parliament of England
can, if it will, confer upon the countless populations of India.

* * * * *




_From Hansard_.

[A despatch of Lord Ellenborough, the President of the Board of Control,
to Lord Canning, the Governor-General of India, had been laid before the
two Houses. This document severely censured the Governor-General's
policy in dealing with the talookdars of Oude. Immediate advantage was
taken of this document by the Opposition, and on the 10th of May Mr.
Cardwell gave notice in the Commons of a motion condemnatory of Lord
Ellenborough's despatch. Lord Ellenborough retired from the Government.
On May 14, however, Mr. Cardwell brought forward his motion in the House
of Commons, but, after a lengthened debate, consented to withdraw it, at
the earnest entreaty of many from his own side of the House.]

I am afraid I shall hardly be able to take part in this discussion in a
manner becoming the magnitude of the question before us, and in any
degree in accordance with the long anxiety which I have felt in regard
to Indian affairs, but I happen to have been unfortunately and
accidentally a good deal mixed up with these matters, and my name has
frequently been mentioned in the course of debate, not only in this but
in the other House of Parliament, and I am unwilling, therefore, to vote
without expressing my opinion upon the matter under discussion. First, I
may be allowed to explain that I think almost everything that has been
said and imagined with regard to the part that I have had in bringing on
this discussion has been altogether erroneous, and has no foundation
whatever. There was no arrangement between the hon. Gentleman the
Secretary of the Board of Control and myself with regard to the question
that I thought it my duty to put to him on the subject of Lord Canning's
Proclamation. I had spoken two or three weeks before the date of that
question to the hon. Gentleman, because I had been informed by a
respected friend of mine, Mr. Dickinson, the hon. secretary of the India
Reform Society, who has very great information on Indian affairs, that
he had received communications to the effect that some Proclamation of
this character was in preparation and was about to be issued. I spoke to
the hon. Member with regard to that report; and he told me that he had
received no communication which enabled him to give me any information
on the subject. I then intimated to him that in case there was anything
of the kind I should certainly put a question to the Government
respecting it. This was three weeks before the date of my question.
Well, I read the Proclamation in _The Times_ newspaper, the same
day that every one else read it; and I came down to the House, not
having seen the hon. Gentleman in the meantime. I met my hon. friend the
Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith) in Westminster Hall, and he told
me that having read the despatch, and knowing my intention with regard
to it, he, having met the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) that evening,
said to him he had no doubt that when I came down to the House I should
put a question respecting it. When I came down I put a question and
received an answer; both question and answer are before the House and
the country. But I confess I did not anticipate that we should lose a
week from the discussion of the Indian Resolutions on account of the
question which I then asked the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the
Board of Control.

Now, Sir, with respect to the question before the House, I should have
been content to let it end when the hon. and learned Gentleman the
Solicitor-General sat down. I think, Sir, the House might have come to a
vote when the Solicitor-General finished his speech. I could not but
compare that speech with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who
moved the Resolution now before the House. I thought the right hon.
Gentleman raked together a great many small things to make up a great
case. It appeared to me that he spoke as if his manner indicated that he
was not perfectly satisfied with the course he was pursuing. I think he
failed to stimulate himself with the idea that he was performing a great
public duty; for if he had been impressed with that idea I think his
subject would have enabled him to deliver a more lively and impressive
speech than that which he has made. But, Sir, I believe that every one
will admit that the speech of the Solicitor-General was characterised by
the closest logic and the most complete and exhaustive argument. There
is scarcely a Gentleman with whom I have spoken with regard to that
speech who does not admit that the hon. and learned Gentleman has seemed
to have taken up the whole question, and to have given a complete answer
to all serious charges brought against the Government.

This Motion is an important one in two aspects. First of all as respects
the interests of parties at home--which some people, probably, think the
more important of the interests concerned; and, secondly, as respects
the effect which will be produced in India when this discussion, with
the vote at which we arrive, reaches that country and is read there. The
princes, the rajahs, and intelligent landholders, whether under the
English Government or independent, will know very little about what we
understand by party; and any cabal or political conspiracy here will
have no influence on them. They know little of the persons who conduct
and take a part in the debate in this House; and the 'loud cheers' which
they will read of in our discussions Will be almost nothing to them. The
question to them will be, What is the opinion of the Parliament of
England as to the policy announced to India in the Proclamation?

Now, Sir, I complain of the right hon. Gentleman, and I think the House
has reason to complain, that in his Resolution he endeavours to evade
the real point of discussion. The noble Lord who has just sat down
(Viscount Goderich) says he will not meet this matter in any such
indirect manner as that proposed by the Amendment of the hon. Member for
Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn); but what can be less direct than the issue
offered by the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for
Oxford? This is proved by the fact that, throughout the course of this
discussion, every serious argument and every serious expression has had
reference to the character of the Proclamation, and not to those little
matters which are mixed up in this Resolution. Nobody, I believe,
defends the Proclamation in the light in which it is viewed by the
Government, and censured by the Government. All that has been done is an
endeavour to show that it is not rightly understood by those who censure
it as announcing a policy of confiscation. In fact, in endeavouring to
defend it, hon. Members insist that it does not mean something which it
says it does mean, and which if any of us understand the English
language it assuredly does mean. The right hon. Gentleman asks us to do
that which I think is an absolute impossibility. He wants us to condemn
the censure, and wishes at the same time--and I give him credit for
this--that we should pronounce no approval of the thing censured. I do
not think the right hon. Gentleman, though unfortunately he has been led
into this movement, wishes the House to pronounce an opinion in favour
of confiscation. I do not believe that any Member of this House asks us
to come to a conclusion in such a way as that our decision shall be an
approval of that which the Government has condemned in the despatch. But
if we affirm the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman, how is it
possible for the people of India to understand our decision in any other
sense than as an approval of the policy of Lord Canning's Proclamation?
With regard to the publication of the Government despatch, it is not a
little remarkable how men turn round and object to what they formerly
were so loud in demanding. On this side of the House it has been the
commonest thing to hear hon. Gentlemen say that all this secrecy on the
part of the Foreign Office and the Board of Control is a cause of the
greatest mischief. Assume for a moment that the publication of this
despatch was injudicious--after all, it was no high crime and
misdemeanour. We on this side of the House, and hon. Gentlemen below the
gangway, ought to look with kindness on this failing, which, if a
failing, leans to virtue's side. Then, Sir, with regard to the language
of the despatch, I do not know of any Government or Minister who would
not be open to censure if we chose to take up every word in a despatch.
A man of firmer texture, of stronger impulse, and more indignant
feelings will, on certain occasions, write in stronger terms than other
men--and I confess I like those men best who write and speak so that you
can really understand them. Now I say that the proposition before the
House is a disingenuous one. It attempts to lead the House into a very
unfortunate dilemma. I think that no judicial mind--seeing that the
result of a decision in favour of this Resolution will be the
establishment of the policy of the Proclamation--will fail to be
convinced that we ought not to arrive at such a decision without great
hesitation, and that we cannot do so without producing a very injurious
effect on the minds of the people of India.

We now come to what all parties admit to be the real question--the
Proclamation and the policy of confiscation announced in it. There are
certain matters which I understand all sides of the House to be agreed
on. They agree with the Government and the East India Company that the
people of Oude are enemies but that they are not rebels [Cries of 'Yes,
yes!'--'No, no!'] I thought the supporters of the Resolution of the
right lion. Gentleman the Member for Oxford told us that if the
Government had written a judicious despatch like that of the East India
Company, they would have applauded and not censured it. Well, the East
India Directors--and they are likely to know, for they were connected
with the commission of the Act that brought this disturbance in Oude
upon us--say that the people of Oude are not rebels; that they are not
to be treated as rebels; but as enemies. If so, the Government have a
right to treat them according to those rules which are observed by
nations which are at war with each other. Will the House accept that
proposition? ['No, no!'--'Yes, yes!'] Well, if hon. Gentlemen on this
side will not accept it, I hope the noble Lord the Member for the West
Riding (Viscount Goderich) will not include them amongst those who are
in favour of clemency. I am quite sure the people of England will accept
that definition--that civilised Europe will accept it; and that history--
history which will record our proceedings this night, and our vote on
this Resolution--will accept it. Sir, I do not see how any one claiming
to be an Englishman or a Christian can by any possibility escape from
condemning the policy of this Proclamation.

I now come--and on that point I will be as brief as possible--to the
question. What is the meaning of confiscating the proprietary rights in
the soil? We have heard from a noble Lord in 'another place' and it has
been stated in the course of the debate here, that this sentence of
confiscation refers only to certain unpleasant persons who are called
talookdars, who are barons and robber chiefs and oppressors of the
people. This is by no means the first time that, after a great wrong has
been committed, the wrongdoer has attempted to injure by calumny those
upon whom the wrong has been inflicted. Lord Shaftesbury, who is a sort
of leader in this great war, has told the world that this Proclamation
refers only to 600 persons in the kingdom of Oude.

The kingdom of Onde has about five millions of people, or one-sixth of
the population of the United Kingdom. Applied to the United Kingdom in
the same rate of the population it would apply to 3,600 persons. Now, in
both Houses of Parliament there are probably 700 landed proprietors. It
would, therefore, be an edict of confiscation to the landed proprietors
of the United Kingdom equal to five times all the landed proprietors in
both Houses of Parliament. An hon. Gentleman says I am all wrong in my
figures. I shall be glad to hear his figures afterwards. But that is not
the fact; but if it were the fact, it would amount not to a political,
but to an entire social revolution in this country. And surely, when you
live in a country where you have, as in Scotland, a great province under
one Member of the House of Lords, and seventy or eighty miles of
territory under another, and where you have Dukes of Bedford and Dukes
of Devonshire, as in England--surely, I say, we ought to be a little
careful, at any rate, that we do not overturn, without just cause, the
proprietary rights of the great talookdars and landowners in India. It
is a known fact, which anybody may ascertain by referring to books which
have been written, and to witnesses who cannot be mistaken, that this
edict would apply to more than 40,000 landowners in the kingdom of Oude.
And what is it that is meant by these proprietary rights? We must see
what is the general course of the policy of our government in India. If
you sweep away all proprietary rights in the kingdom of Oude you will
have this result--that there will be nobody connected with the land but
the Government of India and the humble cultivator who tills the soil.
And you will have this further result, that the whole produce of the
land of Oude and of the industry of its people will be divided into two
most unequal portions; the larger share will go to the Government in the
shape of tax, and the smaller share, which will be a handful of rice per
day, will go to the cultivator of the soil. Now, this is the Indian
system. It is the grand theory of the civilians, under whose advice, I
very much fear, Lord Canning has unfortunately acted; and you will find
in many parts of India, especially in the Presidency of Madras, that the
population consists entirely of the class of cultivators, and that the
Government stands over them with a screw which is perpetually turned,
leaving the handful of rice per day to the ryot or the cultivator, and
pouring all the rest of the produce of the soil into the Exchequer of
the East India Company. Now, I believe that this Proclamation sanctions
this policy; and I believe further that the Resolution which the right
hon. Gentleman asks the House to adopt, sanctions this Proclamation;
that it will be so read in India, and that whatever may be the
influence, unfortunate as I believe it will be, of the Proclamation
itself, when it is known throughout India that this--the highest court
of appeal--has pronounced in favour of Lord Canning's policy, it will be
one of the most unfortunate declarations that ever went forth from the
Parliament of this country to the people of that empire.

Let me then for one minute--and it shall be but for one minute--ask the
attention of the House to our pecuniary dealings with Oude. A friend of
mine has extracted from a book on this subject two or three facts which
I should like to state to the House, as we are now considering the
policy of England towards that afflicted country. It is stated that,
under the government of Warren Hastings, to the arrival of Lord
Cornwallis in 1786, the East India Company obtained from the kingdom of
Oude, and therefore from the Exchequer of the people of Oude, the sum of
9,252,000_l_.; under Lord Cornwallis, 4,290,000_l_.; under
Lord Teignmouth, 1,280,000_l_.; under Lord Wellesley,
10,358,000_l_. This includes, I ought to observe, the Doab, taken
in 1801 in lieu of subsidy, the annual revenue of that district being
1,352,000_l_. Coming down to the year 1814, there was a loan of a
million; in 1815 a loan of a million; in 1825 a loan of a million; in
1826 a loan of a million; in 1829 a loan of 625,000_l_.; and in
1838 a loan of 1,700,000_l_. Some of these sums, the House will
observe, are loans, and in one case the loan was repaid by a portion of
territory which the Company, in a very few years, under an excuse which
I should not like to justify, re-annexed to themselves, and therefore
the debt was virtually never repaid. The whole of these sums comes to
31,500,000_l_.; in addition to which Oude has paid vast sums in
salaries, pensions, and emoluments of every kind to servants of the
Company engaged in the service of the Government of Oude.

I am not going further into detail with regard to that matter; but I say
that the history of our connection with the country, whose interests we
are now discussing, is of a nature that ought to make us pause before we
consent to any measure that shall fill up the cup of injury which we
have offered to the lips of that people. After this, two years ago, we
deposed the Sovereign of Oude. Everything that he had was seized--much
of it was sold. Indignities were offered to his family. Their ruin was
accomplished, though they were the governors of that kingdom. Some hon.
Gentleman, speaking on this side of the House, has tried to persuade the
House that this confiscation policy only intends that we should receive
the taxes of Oude. But that is altogether a delusion. That is a
statement so absurd that I am astonished that any one, even of those who
support the Resolution, should offer it to the House. In 1856, when you
dethroned the King of Oude, you stepped into his place, and became the
recipients of all the legitimate national taxes of the kingdom of Oude;
and now, having seized the 500,000_l_. a year, the revenue of that
country, after a solemn treaty which contained a clause that if there
were a surplus of revenue it should be paid to the credit of the kingdom
of Oude; after having applied that surplus, contrary to that clause of
the treaty, to the general purposes of India; you now step in and you
descend below the King, to every talookdar, to every landowner, large or
small, to every man who has proprietary rights in the soil, to every
man, the smallest and humblest capitalist who cultivates the soil--to
every one of these you say in language that cannot be mistaken--'Come
down from the independence and dignity you have held. As we have done in
other provinces of India we shall do here. Two-thirds of you have not
been mixed up in this war; but in this general confiscation the innocent
must suffer with the guilty, for such is the misfortune of war, and such
is the penalty which we shall inflict upon you.' Sir, if this
Proclamation be not a Proclamation of unheard-of severity, how comes it
that so many persons have protested against it? Does any man believe
that the noble Lord the Member for the West Riding (Viscount Goderich)
understands this Proclamation better than the high military authorities
who have so long known India? Does he suppose that the House of Commons
will take his authority upon a matter of this kind in preference to the
authority of the whole united press of India? ['Oh! oh!'] Well, I dare
say that hon. Members who cry 'Oh!' have not read the newspapers of
India upon the subject. Some of them uphold it because they say that at
one fell swoop it has done that which it took us twenty years to do in
other districts of India, and destroys every man who could influence the
people against the British Government. Others say that it is a
Proclamation of such a character that it must cause 'war to the knife'
against the English, and that the Governor-General who issued such a
Proclamation should have been prepared with a new army at his back that
he might have power to enforce it.

The learned Gentleman the Attorney-General for Ireland referred in his
speech the other night to what had been said by the hon. and learned
Member for Devonport (Sir E. Perry) on the occasion of a question that I
had put some two or three weeks ago. Now I call the House to witness
whether when I put the question which brought out this despatch, and
when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer rose in
his place and gave the answer that with respect to the policy of
confiscation--for that is the only thing there is any dispute about in
the Proclamation--the Government disavowed it in every sense--I call the
House to witness whether every Gentleman present in this part of the
House did not cheer that sentiment. Of course, every man cheered it.
They would not have been men; they would not have been Englishmen; they
would not have been legislators; they would have been men who had never
heard of what was just and right, if every instinct within them, at the
instant they heard the declaration of the Government, did not compel
them to an enthusiastic assent. And it was only when the fatal influence
of party, and the arts which party knows how to employ, were put in
motion, that hon. Gentlemen began to discover that there was something
serious and something dangerous in this memorable despatch. Now, I would
ask the House this question--are we prepared to sanction the policy of
that despatch?

I am very sorry that I have not done what only occurred to me after this
debate commenced, and after the Amendment was proposed, or I should have
proposed another Amendment to the House that went expressly upon that
point, because--and I speak it without the smallest reference to the
influence which it may have on any party in this House--I think it of
the very highest consequence that, whatever decision we come to, it
should be liable to no misinterpretation when it arrives in India. Then,
Sir, we have been treated to a good deal of eloquence upon the manner of
the despatch; and with regard to that I must say a word or two. The
noble Lord the Member for London, who sits below me, has, I think,
fallen into the error of most of the speakers in favour of the
Resolution; that is, of treating some of the outside circumstances of
the case as if they were the case itself. I do not think, however, that
he stated there was a word in the despatch which was not true, although
he did express what I thought was rather an immoral sentiment for so
eminent a statesman. The noble Lord told us that after a crime had been
committed, men in office were never to let it be known or suspected that
they thought it was a crime. [Lord John Russell: 'The hon. Gentleman is
mistaken; I never said anything of the kind.'] I did not hear it myself,
but I read it, and many of my friends came to the same conclusion. ['Oh!
oh!'] Well, I understand, then, that he did not say it; but what he did
say was, that there was a great deal of sarcasm and invective in the
despatch, and he read a passage to show that such was the case. But the
fact is that a great deal depends upon the reading. I could take a
despatch of the noble Lord himself and read it in a manner that would
perfectly astonish him. He said, if I am not mistaken, that if the House
were to approve of that despatch as a proper despatch, then Lord Canning
was not fit to occupy the meanest political or official situation.
Indian despatches have, to my mind, never been very gentle. I recollect
having read in _Mill's History of British India_, and in other
histories also, despatches that have been sent from the President of the
Board of Control, the Secret Committee, and the Court of Directors, over
and over again; and I have thought that they were written in a tone
rather more authoritative and rather more dictatorial than I should have
been disposed to write, or than I should have been pleased to receive.
It arose from this--that in old times the magnates sitting in
Leadenhall-street were writing, not to Lord Canning and men of that
altitude, but to merchants and agents whom they had sent out, who were
entirely dependent upon them, and to whom they could say just what they
liked; and for 100 years past, as far as I have seen, their despatches
have had a character for severity, and that which men call
'dictatorial,' which I think might be very well dispensed with. But that
is a matter which should certainly be taken into consideration, when a
large portion of this House are disposed not only to censure Lord
Ellenborough, but to overturn the Government, because a despatch is not
written precisely in those gentle terms which some hon. Gentlemen think
to be right when inditing a letter to a Governor-General of India.

There is one other point which I must notice, and that is the supposed
effect of this despatch upon the feelings of Lord Canning. I am not so
intimate with Lord Canning as many Members of this House, but I have had
the pleasure of his acquaintance, and have always believed that he was
one of the last men who would knowingly do anything that was inhuman or
unjust, and that is my opinion now. I think he is to be commiserated, as
any other man would have been who happened to be in India at such a time
as this; and I think we are bound also to take a lenient view even of
such errors as we may think he has committed. If I had gone to India, or
into any service under the State, I should expect that there would be a
general disposition to give me fair play in the exercise of my office,
and that no strained construction to my injury would be put upon
anything which I did. Well, that is the view which I entertain with
regard to Lord Canning. I have never uttered a syllable against him in
public, although I think that some of his acts have been open to great
objection; and I am not about to say anything against him now. I would
not support a Resolution which was intended to damage Lord Canning; and
I think the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) has not done wrong in
offering to the House the Amendment he has placed before us. But it is
just possible that Lord Canning is in the midst of circumstances which
have rendered it very difficult, perhaps impossible, for him to exercise
his own calm judgment on the great question which forms the subject of
this Proclamation, I see in that Proclamation not so much an emanation
from the humane and just mind of Lord Canning, as the offspring of that
mixture of red tape and ancient tradition which is the foundation of the
policy of the old civilian Council of Calcutta. But, Sir, if it were a
question of hurting Lord Canning's feelings and denouncing this
Proclamation, I could have no hesitation as to the choice which I should
make. A man's private and personal feelings are not a matter of
importance for the House when compared with the vast and permanent
interests involved in the dangerous policy which we are now discussing.
And I do not think the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell), the noble
Lord the Member for the West Riding (Viscount Goderich), and the noble
Lord the Member for London, have any right to throw themselves into
something like a contortion of agony with regard to the manner of this
despatch; because, as was stated to the House the other night by the
learned Attorney-General for Ireland, they did not tell us much about
the feelings of another public servant, acting on behalf of the Crown at
a still greater distance from England, when last year they gave a vote
on the China question which pronounced a most emphatic condemnation on
the conduct of Sir John Bowring. Now, I like fair play. I would treat
Lord Canning as I would treat Sir John Bowring; and I would treat Sir
John Bowring as I would treat Lord Canning. Do not let us have in the
service of the State low-caste men who may be trampled upon at pleasure,
and high-caste men whom nobody dare criticise.

I said, when I began, that this Resolution is important in reference to
something else besides India; that it is important with reference to the
position of parties in this House. I would ask the attention of the
House for a few moments to that branch of the subject. I am afraid--and
I hope I am not slandering anybody in saying it--that there is quite as
much zeal for what is called 'place' as there is for the good of India
in the proposition brought before us. If that despatch had been
published three months ago, when we were all sitting on that side of the
House, it is very probable that many Gentlemen who now speak against it
would have thought it a noble despatch, containing noble sentiments,
expressed in noble language. But now, Sir, there has been for the last
two months a growing irritation observable, particularly in this part of
the House. There has been a feeling which no ingenuity has been able to
disguise--a fear that if the present Government should, by some means or
other, remain in office over the Session, no small difficulty would be
found in displacing it--lest, like the tree, which, when first planted,
may be easily pulled up, it should by and bye strike its roots downwards
and its branches outwards, and after a year or two no man would be able
to get it out of the ground. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know that I differ
very widely from them on many public questions, and probably at some not
distant day they may find it out in some act of severe hostility; but I
put it to the House, whether, out of doors, the reputation of the
present Government is not, in many respects, better than the last? Take,
for instance, the Gentlemen who come up from the country on various
deputations to the Ministers--the judgment of these deputations, without
an exception, is in favour of the manner in which they have been
received by the present Ministers, and of the way in which their
suggestions and requests have been treated. Now, this may be no great
matter, and I do not say that it is; but I make the observation for the
benefit of the Gentlemen who sit on these benches, because it is just
possible that they may some time have to receive deputations again. Then
take their conduct in this House. 'Oh, yes.' hon. Gentlemen may say,
'but they are a weak Government; they have not a majority, and they are
obliged to be very civil.' But what I maintain is, that every Ministry
ought to be very civil, and what I am prepared to assert is--and I ask
every man on this side of the House if he does not agree with me, for I
have heard dozens of them say it out of the House--that when the late
Government were in office civility was a thing unknown.

Take another point--for it is worthy of consideration by Gentlemen on
this side of the House, and I ask hon. Gentlemen who sit below the
gangway especially to consider it--look at the heritage of trouble with
regard to our foreign policy which the existing Government found on
their accession to office. Three months of what was going on upon the
Conspiracy Bill would have landed you on the very verge of a war, if not
in a war, with France, and that danger has been avoided certainly by no
concession which is injurious to the honour of England. Take the
question which has agitated the public mind with regard to Naples. I am
not going into any details; but so far as a Government could act, this
Government appears to have acted with judgment. I think the noble Lord
below me (Lord J. Russell) admitted that himself. I did not say that the
noble Lord said anything against them. On the contrary, I rejoice to
have him with me as a witness to what I am stating. With regard, then,
to these questions, seeing the dilemma into which the foreign affairs of
the country were brought under the last Administration, I think it is
but fair, just, and generous that Members on this side of the House, at
least, should take no course which wears the colour of faction, for the
purpose of throwing the present Government out of office. Whenever I
join in a vote to put Gentlemen opposite out of office, it shall be for
something that the country will clearly understand--something that shall
offer a chance of good to some portion of the British empire--something
that shall offer a chance of advancing distinctly the great principles
for which we--if we are a party at all on this side of the House--
profess to care.

But there is another reason. Not only is it feared that hon. Gentlemen
opposite will get firm in their seats, but it is also feared that some
hon. Gentlemen near me will get less firm in their alliance with the
right hon. Gentlemen on this side. I have heard of mutinous meetings and
discussions, and of language of the most unpardonable character uttered,
as Gentlemen now say, in the heat of debate. But there was something
more going on, which was traced to a meeting of independent Members
recently held in Committee-room No. 11; and if a stop were not put to
it, the powerful ranks on these benches might be broken up, which, if
united, it was believed, would storm the Treasury benches and replace
the late Government in office. I believe it was intended that a
desperate effort should be made to change the state of things here
before Whitsuntide. That was a resolution which had been come to long
before any one knew anything about Lord Ellenborough's despatch. And the
present seems to be a convenient opportunity, inasmuch as it has this in
its favour, that it appears to be defending an absent servant of the
Crown; that it appears to be teaching a lesson to the Government who
have acted injudiciously in publishing a despatch; altogether it has
that about it which makes it an excellent pretext on which hon.
Gentlemen may ride into office. Now, I do not speak to Whigs in office
or to those Gentlemen who have been in office and expect to be in office
again; but I should like to say what I believe to be true to those
Gentlemen who call themselves independent Members, who come here with no
personal object to serve, not seeking place, patronage, or favour, but
with an honest desire, as far as they are able, to serve their country
as Members of the House of Commons. If this Resolution be carried, it is
supposed that the old Government, or something very like it, will come
back again. Now, there was great discontent with that old Government
before it went out; yet no pledge whatever has been given that its
conduct will be better or different; no new measures have been promised,
no new policy has been avowed, no new men, that I have seen, have been
held forth to the public very distinctly as likely to take high office
in the State. There have been some things which I should think Members
of this House must have felt pain at witnessing. There are newspapers in
the interest of this ex-Treasury bench which have, in the most
unblushing manner, published articles emanating from the pen of somebody
who knew exactly what was wanted to be done. In the case of a gentleman,
for example, who was engaged in Committee-room No. 11--a gentleman whom I
need not mention because the House knows all the circumstances of this
case, but a gentleman who took a most prominent part in the proceedings
in that Committee-room--and no one is probably more indignant at what
has been done than himself--those newspapers have positively fixed upon
and designated him for a certain office, if the present Government go
out and another comes in; another gentleman who seconded a Resolution on
that occasion is also held up for an office; but they do not state
exactly what his precise position is to be; and the glittering bauble of
some place in the incoming Government is hung up before many hon.
Gentlemen who sit around me. It is not said, 'It is for you' and 'It is
for you;' but it is hung up dangling before them all, and every man is
expected to covet that glittering bauble.

But this is not all. These are not the only arts which are employed.
Members of this House sitting below the gangway, who have been here for
years--Gentlemen of the most independent character--receive flattering
and beautifully engraved cards to great parties at splendid mansions;
and not later than Friday last, of all times, those invitations were
scattered, if not with a more liberal, no doubt with a much more
discriminating hand than they ever were before. [An hon. Member:
'Absurd!'] Of course it is very absurd; there is no doubt about that, and
that is precisely why I am explaining it to the House. Why, Sir, if
those cards of invitation contained a note with them, giving the exact
history of what was really meant, it would say to hon. Gentlemen, 'Sir,
we have measured your head, and we have gauged your soul, and we know or
believe'--for I believe they do not know--'we believe that your
principles which you came into Parliament to support--your character in
the House--your self-respect will go for nothing if you have a miserable
temptation like this held up before you.' Sir, if we could see them
taking a course which is said to be taken by the celebrated horse-tamer,
who appeals, as I am told, to the nobler and more intelligent instincts
of the animal which he tames, then I should not complain. But they
appeal to instincts which every honourable mind repudiates, and to
aspirations which no hon. Gentleman on this side of the House can for a
moment admit.

Well, then, if they succeed, what sort of a Government shall we have? I
am as anxious for a Liberal Government as any man in this House, but I
cannot believe that, in the present position of things on this side of
the House, a Liberal and solid Government can be formed. We are told,
and the whole country has been in a state of expectation and wonder upon
it, that two eminent statesmen have actually dined together; and I am
very glad to hear that men engaged in the strife of politics can dine
together without personal hostility. I say nothing of the viands that
were eaten. I say nothing of the beverage that was in the 'loving cup'
that went round. One of our oldest and greatest poets has told us that--

'Nepenthe is a drink of soverayne grace.'

He says that it was devised by the gods to subdue contention, and
subject the passions; but that it was given only to the aged and the
wise, who were prepared by it to take their places with ancient heroes
in a higher sphere. But that could not have been the contents of the
'loving cup' in this instance, for these aged statesmen are still
determined to cling to this world, and to mix, as heretofore, with all
the vigour and the fire of youth in the turmoil and contention of public
life. But does the fact of this dinner point to reconciliation, and to a
firm and liberal administration? I believe that any such Government
would be the worst of all coalitions. I believe that it would be built
upon insincerity, and I suspect it would be of no advantage to the
country. Therefore I am not anxious to see such a Government attempted.

I ask the House, then, are they prepared to overthrow the existing
Government on the question which the right hon. Gentleman has brought
before us--a question which he has put in such ambiguous terms? Are they
willing in overthrowing that Government to avow the policy of this
Proclamation for India? Are they willing to throw the country into all
the turmoil of a general election--a general election at a moment when
the people are but just slowly recovering from the effects of the most
tremendous commercial panic that this country ever passed through? Are
they willing to delay all legislation for India till next year, and all
legislation on the subject of Parliamentary reform till the year after
that? Are they willing, above all, to take the responsibility which will
attach to them if they avow the policy contained in this Proclamation?

I confess, Sir, I am terrified for the future of India when I look at
the indiscriminate slaughter which is now going on there. I have seen a
letter, written, I believe, by a missionary, lately inserted in a most
respectable weekly newspaper published in London, in which the writer
estimates that 10,000 men have been put to death by hanging alone. I ask
you, whether you approve of having in India such expressions as these,
which I have taken this day from a Calcutta newspaper, and which
undoubtedly you will be held to approve if you do anything which can be
charged with a confirmation of the tenor of this Proclamation. Here is
an extract from _The Englishman_, which, speaking of the men of the
disarmed regiments, who amount to some 20,000 or 30,000, or even 40,000
men, says:--

'There is no necessity to bring every Sepoy to a court-martial,
and convict him of mutinous intentions before putting him down as
guilty. We do not advocate extreme or harsh measures, nor are we
of those who would drench the land with blood; but we have no
hesitation in saying, that, were the Government to order the
execution of all these Sepoys, they would be legally and morally
justified in doing so. There would be no injustice done.'

No injustice would be done! I ask the House to consider that these men
have committed no offence; their military functions were suspended
because it was thought they were likely to be tempted to commit an
offence, and therefore their arms were taken from them; and now an
Englishman--one of your own countrymen--writing in a newspaper published
in Calcutta, utters sentiments so atrocious as those which I have just
read to the House. I believe the whole of India is now trembling under
the action of volcanic fires; and we shall be guilty of the greatest
recklessness, and I will say of great crime against the Monarchy of
England, if we do anything by which we shall own this Proclamation. I am
asked on this question to overturn Her Majesty's Government. The policy
adopted by the Government on this subject is the policy that was cheered
by hon. Members on this side when it was first announced. It is a policy
of mercy and conciliation. False--may I not say?--or blundering leaders
of this party would induce us, contrary to all our associations and all
our principles, to support an opposite policy. I am willing to avow that
I am in favour of justice and conciliation--of the law of justice and of
kindness. Justice and mercy are the supreme attributes of the perfection
which we call Deity, but all men everywhere comprehend them; there is no
speech nor language in which their voice is not heard, and they cannot
be vainly exercised with regard to the docile and intelligent millions
of India. Yon have had the choice. You have tried the sword. It has
broken; it now rests broken in your grasp; and you stand humbled and
rebuked. You stand humbled and rebuked before the eyes of civilized
Europe. You may have another chance. You may, by possibility, have
another opportunity of governing India. If you have, I beseech you to
make the best use of it. Do not let us pursue such a policy as many men
in India, and some in England, have advocated, but which hereafter you
will have to regret, which can end only, as I believe, in something
approaching to the ruin of this country, and which must, if it be
persisted in, involve our name and nation in everlasting disgrace.

* * * * *



_From Hansard._
[On August 1 Sir Charles Wood made his financial statement on India to
the House of Commons. One of his proposals was that the Government
should be empowered to raise 5,000,000_l_. in the United Kingdom in
order to meet the demands of the present year. The Loan Bill passed
through both Houses.]

I have so often addressed the House upon the question of India that I
feel some hesitation in asking a portion of the time of the Committee
this evening. But notwithstanding an observation of the right hon.
Gentleman the Secretary for India that he does not see anything gloomy
in the future of India, I confess that to my view the question assumes
yearly a greater magnitude, and I may say a greater peril. I think,
therefore, that having given some attention to this subject in years
past, I may be permitted to bring my share, be its value more or less,
to the attempt which we are now making to confront this great evil. When
we recollect how insufficient are the statements which he has from
India, the right hon. Gentleman has given us as clear an account of the
finances of India as it was possible for him to do, and looking at them
in the most favourable point of view we come to this conclusion:--We
have what we have had for twenty years, only more rapidly accumulating,
deficit on deficit and debt on debt.

The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee that when he left the
Government of India, I think in 1855, everything was in a most
satisfactory condition. Well, it did happen in that year, perhaps by
some of that kind of management which I have observed occasionally in
Indian finance, that the deficit was brought down to a sum not exceeding
150,000_l_. [Sir C. Wood: 'There was a surplus of 400,000_l_.'] The
deficit, I believe, before the mutiny was 143,000_l_. But, if the right
hon. Gentleman will allow me to take the three years preceding the
mutiny, I think that will give a much fairer idea of the real state of
the case, and it is not the least use shutting our eyes to the real
state of the case, because some day or other it will find us out, or we
shall find it out. The real state of the case in the three years
preceding the mutiny, 1855, 1856 and 1857, ending the 30th of April, is
a deficit of 2,823,000_l_., being an average not very far short of
1,000,000_l_. a-year. That is the state of things immediately after the
right hon. Gentleman left office. I do not in the least find fault with
him. He did not make the deficit, but I merely state this to show that
things are not at the moment in that favourable state which the right
hon. Gentleman would induce the Committee to believe. Keeping our
attention to that period, there is another point of view, which is also
very important. It appears to me that any Government must be an
excessively bad Government which cannot defray its expenses out of the
taxes which it levies on its people. We know, and every one has for
years known, that in India there is a source of revenue, not from taxes
levied on the people, but from opium, and which is very like the revenue
derived by the Peruvian Government from guano. If we turn to those three
years and see what relation the expenditure of the Government had to
taxes levied on the people of India, we shall find, though we may hear
that the taxes are not so much as we imagine, or that the people are
extremely poor, or that the Government is very extravagant--we shall
find that the sum levied for the sale of opium and transit was no less
than 10,500,000_l_., and if we add that to the 2,800,000_l_., we get a
sum of 13,300,000_l_., which is the exact sum which the Government of
India cost in those three years over and above what was raised from the
people by actual taxation. I say that this is a state of things which
ought to cause alarm, because we know, and we find it stated in the last
despatches, that the income derived from opium is of a precarious
character, and from the variation of climate in India, or from a
variation of policy in the Chinese Government, that revenue may
suddenly either be very much impaired or be cut off altogether.

The right hon. Gentleman brings us to the condition in which we are now,
and it may be stated in the fewest possible words to be this,--that the
debt of India has been constantly rising, and that it amounts now to
100,000,000_l_. sterling. ['No, no!'] The right hon. Gentleman said
95,000,000_l_., but he said there would be 5,000,000_l_. next
year, and I will undertake to say that it is fair to argue on the basis
that the debt of India at this moment is about 100,000,000_l_.,
that there is a deficit of 12,000,000_l_. this year, and that there
may be expected to be a deficit of 10,000,000_l_. next year. It is
not to be wondered at that it should be difficult to borrow money on
Indian account.

I am not surprised at the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Glyn) being so
lively in the House to-night, and other hon. Gentlemen connected with
the City, who, I understand, have been impressing on the Secretary of
State the fact that money cannot be had in the City for the purpose for
which he wants it. I do not wonder that it is difficult to raise money
on Indian account. I should think it extraordinary if it could be
borrowed without a high rate of interest. That it can be borrowed at all
can only arise from the fact that England, whatever disasters she gets
into, generally contrives, by the blood of her soldiers or by the
taxation of her people, to scramble through her difficulties, and to
maintain before the world, though by enormous sacrifices, a character
for good faith which is scarcely held by any other country in the world.
With regard to the question of an Imperial guarantee, I take an opposite
view from the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) on that particular point, though
I agree with what he said as to certain expenses thrown on the Indian

Last year I referred to the enormous expense of the Affghan war--about
15,000,000_l_.--the whole of which ought to have been thrown on the
taxation of the people of England, because it was a war commanded by the
English Cabinet, for objects supposed to be English, but which, in my
opinion, were of no advantage either to England or India. It was most
unjust that this enormous burden should have been thrown upon the
finances of the Indian Government. But I do not oppose an Imperial
guarantee because I particularly sympathize with the English taxpayers
in this matter. I think the English taxpayers have generally neglected
all the affairs of India, and might be left to pay for it. But there was
no justice in imposing on the unfortunate millions of India the burden
of a policy with which they had nothing to do, and which could not bring
any one of them a single handful of rice more--it did bring them rather
less than more--than they would have eaten without it. But I object to
an Imperial guarantee on this ground,--if we let the Services of India,
after exhausting the resources of India, put their hands into the
pockets of the English people, the people of England having no control
over the Indian expenditure, it is impossible to say to what lengths of
unimagined extravagance they would go; and in endeavouring to save India
may we not go far towards ruining England?

But look at this question of Indian finance from another point of view.
The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary
for India have both referred to the enormous amount of the whole
taxation of India taken by the Military Service. I believe it has been
shown that at this moment almost, if not altogether, the whole of the
net revenue of India is being absorbed by the Military Service of that
empire; that not a farthing is left out of the whole net revenue of
India to pay the expenses of the civil government or the public
creditor. If we leave out the opium duty, perhaps we shall see how far
the Military Service bears on the taxation of India; we shall see that
more than its net amount is absorbed by the Military Service. That is a
state of things that has never existed in any other country or among any
other people, for any considerable period, without bringing that country
to anarchy and ruin. We have been told by the Governor-General that the
great bulk of the revenue of India is not elastic; that with regard to
the land-tax there has been for a long period no increase in it; that,
on the contrary, that large source of income has decreased. He tells us,
further, that the army cannot, at present, be largely reduced with
safety. If so, what is the end to which we must come? Either the
Government of India must come to an end, or England itself must become
tributary to India. Seeing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has
within the last fortnight asked 70,000,000_l_. of the English
taxpayer for the expenses of the English Government, to ask nine or ten
millions more for the government of India would certainly cause great
dissatisfaction in this country. The picture is, to my mind, an alarming
one, notwithstanding the cheerful view taken of it by the Secretary for
India; and it has filled many besides myself with dismay.

Now, looking round for modes of escape from this position, I believe
they exist, if we had the courage to adopt them. An hon. Friend has
asked me, 'Is there nobody to tell the House of Commons the truth on
this matter?' I might ask why he has not done it himself. I suppose he
is afraid of being thought rash; but his advice is, that the Government
should re-establish the independence of the Punjab, recall the Ameers of
Scinde, restore the Government of the King of Oude, giving to it the
dependency of Nagpore. I confess, whether it be rash or not, that I
think it would be wise to restore the Government of the Punjab and to
give independence to that province which is called Scinde, because as no
revenue is received from that part of the country in excess of the
expense which its retention causes to this country, we should endeavour
to bring our dominions in India within a reasonable and manageable
compass. No policy can be more lunatic than the policy of annexation we
have pursued of late years in India, and the calamity we are now meeting
is the natural and inevitable consequence of the folly we have
committed. It is not easy for great generals and statesmen who have been
made earls and marquesses and had bronze statues put up in their honour
in our public squares--it is not easy for the statesmen who have done
all this to turn round and reverse it all; they have not the moral
courage to do it; it might be an act of peril; it might appear a descent
from the summit of empire and be wrongly construed throughout the world.
But as a question of finance and good government we should, a few years
hence, admit that it was a sound policy. But I will not pursue this
subject, for I may fairly take it for granted that the House of Commons
and the Government of England are not likely to take such a course till
we are reduced to some extremity even greater than that which now meets

But there is another course that may fairly be recommended. It is to
take India as it is, the empire with all your annexations as it stands,
and to see if it is not possible to do something better with it than you
have done before, and to give it a chance in future years of redeeming
not only the character of the Government but its financial and
legislative position. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) says there cannot be
any great diminution in the expenditure for the Civil Service of India;
but I do not in the least agree with the Secretary for India when he
says that the gentlemen of the Civil Service in that country are not
overpaid. Every one knows that they are overpaid; except some very high-
salaried bishops of whom we have heard, no men are so grossly overpaid
as the officials of the Civil Service in India. The proof of this may be
found everywhere. Look at the Island of Ceylon; there the duties are as
arduous and the climate as unfavourable as in India; yet the Government
does not pay its officials there more than one-half or two-thirds of the
salaries they are paid in India. There are in India itself many hundreds
of Europeans, the officers of the Indian army, all the Indian clergy,
and missionaries; there are also English merchants, carrying on their
business at rates of profit not much exceeding the profits made in this
country. But the Civil Service of the Indian Government, like everything
privileged and exclusive, is a pampered body; and, notwithstanding it
has produced some few able men who have worthily done their duty, I do
not think the Civil Service of India deserves the loud praise we have so
frequently heard awarded to it by speakers in this House. Now if you
could reduce the expense of the Civil Service by any considerable
amount, the best thing you could do with the money would be to increase
the establishment by sending a greater number of competent persons as
magistrates, collectors, and officials into the distant provinces, and
thereby double the facilities for good government in those districts. If
you could reduce the income of the Civil Service one half, you could for
the same money have a more efficient Service throughout India than at
present. You might not save money, but you would get a more complete
Service for it.

But the military question the House of Commons will certainly have to
take in hand; though Secretaries for India are afraid to grapple with
it, I am not astonished that they feel some hesitation in doing so, for
from every one connected with the Military Service they would hear the
strongest objections to reducing the number of the troops. But let me
ask the Committee to consider what it has just heard. Before the Revolt
the European troops in India numbered 45,000 and the Native troops
250,000; now the 45,000 European troops are 110,000, and the 250,000
Native soldiers are raised to 300,000. What was it that we heard during
the Indian mutiny; what was the cause of all the letters that appeared
in the newspapers? Every man said that the great evil was having a
Native army far larger than was required. That has been the source of
peril, and that was the real cause of the mutiny. Now we have even a
larger portion of this most perilous element than we had before. The
authorities of India do not appear to have learnt anything from the
mutiny, or they have learnt that all that was said in this House and in
this country was untrue, because they have 50,000 more Native troops
than they had before the mutiny. Therefore, the mode of argument appears
to be this:--A Native army was the cause of the mutiny, the cause of all
our perils, and now it is necessary to have more of it; and, as that is
the perilous element, of course 45,000 troops are not sufficient to keep
them in check; therefore, you have at present 110,000; and certain
officers who were examined, and the Commissioners who reported,
recommended that you should always have at least 80,000 Europeans there.
If we are only to have one body of troops to watch another, it seems to
me there can be no hope of any diminution of our military force, nor any
real reduction in our expenditure. Why is it that you require all this
army? Let me ask the Committee to look at the matter as sensible men of
business. The Revolt, which has been such a terrible affair, has been
suppressed. It was suppressed mainly by the 45,000 men in India, and not
by the 110,000 you have succeeded in placing there at a later period.
More than that, there is not at the present moment any alarming amount
of dissatisfaction in India, or at least the dissatisfied are
dispirited, and have lost all hope of resisting the power of England,
and must for a long period, I think, remain wholly dispirited. At the
same time, you have disarmed the people over a vast province. There are
millions of people in India, a great number of whom were previously in
possession of arms, who do not now possess a single weapon. I have seen
in the last accounts, only a day or two since, a statement that not less
than 1,400 forts in the kingdom of Oude alone have been destroyed, and
we know that many more have been destroyed in other parts. There is at
this moment no power for combined organized armed resistance against
you, except that which is in the Native army, which the Indian
Government has been building up of late to a greater extent than ever.

The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) spoke of one point--the great importance
of which I admit--the want of confidence and sympathy that must have
arisen between the two races in consequence of the transactions of the
last two years. The shock of revolt must have created great suspicion
and hatred and fear, and there is nothing out of which panic grows so
easily as out of those conditions. I believe that is the case in India,
and perhaps there are indications of something of the kind at home.
There is a panic, therefore, and neither the Governor-General nor the
Civil Service nor military officers can make up their minds that they
are safe, recollecting the transactions of the past two years, in having
a less military force than we now have in India. But if you ask those
gentlemen they will never say they have enough. There are admirals here,
as we know, who are perfectly wild about ships, with whom arithmetic on
such a question goes for nothing. They would show you in the clearest
possible manner that you have not ships enough. So also, although I am
glad to find not to the same extent, as to troops. Some one said the
other night, in answer to an hon. Gentleman, about an increased force of
a particular kind, 'There is nothing like leather' and it is so. I say
naval officers and military officers are not the men to whom the
Chancellor of the Exchequer should depute the great and solemn duty of
determining what amount shall be expended for military purposes. There
is not a country in the world that would not have been bankrupt long
since, and plunged into irretrievable ruin, if the military authorities
had been allowed to determine the amount of military force to be kept
up, and the amount of revenue to be devoted to that purpose.

I have another objection to this great army, and I now come to the
question of policy, which, I am sorry to say for India, has not been
touched upon. I do not think this is a question to be merely settled by
a very clever manner of giving the figures of the case. Those figures
depend upon the course you intend to pursue, upon the policy which the
Government intends to adopt, in that country. With this great army two
things are certain--we can have no reform of any kind in the Government
of India, nor an improved conduct on the part of the English in India
towards the Natives of India. With a power like this--110,000 English
troops, with an English regiment within an hour's reach of each civil
servant, you will find that the supremacy of the conquering race will be
displayed in the most offensive manner.

Everybody connected with India--the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir
Erskine Perry), the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes)--all who
are connected with India, know well that when the English were feeble in
India, when they had not a great army in the field or a great revenue to
support it, every Englishman treated the Natives by whom he was
surrounded rather with the feeling that he was an intruder in the
country, and that it was not only proper but absolutely necessary to
deal in a conciliatory and just manner with the great body of the
Natives of India; but precisely as our power increased the conduct of
our countrymen changed, and I find in the excellent book of Mr. Shore
that thirty years ago he describes this as the very source of the
growing ill feeling between the races in India. It has grown from that
time to this, until we have an irritation and animosity which in our
time, it may be, we shall see very little removed, and which may perhaps
never be wholly allayed. A Government, then, with this vast army, must
always be in a difficulty. Lord Canning--lord anybody else--cannot turn
his attention to anything but this wearing, exasperating question of how
money is to be got for the next quarter to pay this army. He cannot turn
his attention in any way to reforms, and I am convinced that this House
must insist upon the Government reducing its army, whatever be the risk.
A large army will render it impossible for you to hold the country, for
you will have a constantly increasing debt, and anarchy must inevitably
overwhelm you in the end. A small army, a moderate, conciliatory, and
just Government, with the finances in a prosperous condition;--and I
know not but that this country may possess for generations and centuries
a share, and a large share, in the government of those vast territories
which it has conquered.

As to measures of reduction, I admit that it is of little use attempting
them unless they are accompanied by other changes. Here I have a charge
to bring against the Indian Government. I did hope when the noble Lord
spoke to-night that he would have told us something which I am sure he
must have known; that there is no such thing as a real Government in
India at all; that there is no responsibility either to a public opinion
there, or to a public opinion at home; and that therefore we cannot
expect a better policy or happier results. Let hon. Gentlemen imagine a
Government like that in India, over which the payers of the taxes have
not the slightest control; for the great body of the people in India
have, as we all know, no control in any way over the Government. Neither
is there any independent English opinion that has any control over the
Government, the only opinions being those of the Government itself, or
those of the Military and Civil Services, and chiefly of the latter.
They are not the payers of taxes; they are the spenders and the enjoyers
of the taxes, and therefore the Government in India is in the most
unfortunate position possible for the fulfilment of the great duties
that must devolve upon every wise and just Government. The Civil
Service, being privileged, is arrogant, and I had almost said tyrannous,
as any one may see who reads the Indian papers, which mainly represent
the opinion of that Service and the Military Service, which, as
everywhere else where it is not checked by the resolution of the
taxpayers and civilians, is clamorous and insatiable for greater
expenditure. The Governor-General himself,--and I do not make any attack
upon Lord Canning, although I could conceive a Governor-General more
suited to his great and difficult position,--he is a creature of these
very Services.

I now ask the noble Lord to remember a case which happened during the
time he held office, and if the Committee will allow me, for the sake of
illustration, to refer to it, I do not think it will be any waste of
time. Hon. Gentlemen will recollect that during the last year, my hon.
Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith), who has paid great
attention to Indian subjects, put a question to the noble Lord relating
to the annexation of a small territory called Dhar. What has been the
course of events in relation to that case? The news of the annexation
reached this country on the 20th of March last year. Upon the 23rd the
question was put in this House, when the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr.
Baillie), then Under-Secretary, replied, that the Government had just
been informed of it by the Governor-General, and that he was solely
responsible for the act, the Government here having had no previous
communication upon it. Upon the 11th of June the noble Lord (Lord
Stanley) announced to the House, in answer to a question, that he had
disallowed the annexation of Dhar. The despatch disallowing it has since
been laid upon the table. It is dated June 22, and it asks for
information from the Governor-General. In India they assumed this
unfortunate Rajah to be guilty of misdemeanour, because his troops had
revolted, and the noble Lord in his despatch said, as I think very
sensibly, 'If we cannot keep our own troops, what argument is it for
overturning the independence of the territory of Dhar, seeing that the
Rajah himself has been faithful towards us, but his troops have
rebelled?' The noble Lord asked for further information. In the
preceding April the Ranee, the mother or step-mother of the Rajah, a
mere boy of thirteen, sent two memorials to the Governor-General, one by
post, and the other through the local British officer, remonstrating
against the annexation, and proving, as far as she could, that the Rajah
had not been guilty of any wrong against us. This memorial was not
acknowledged until August, when the Secretary for the Government of
India desired the Ranee to forward the memorial through the Governor-
General's agent in Central India. In April these papers were laid upon
the table of the House with one exception. The Ranee's memorial was not
included in those papers.

Now, when those papers were laid before the House, why was not that
memorial, relating to the annexed territory, sent home and printed with
the other papers, so that hon. Members of this House might have read it?
The letter of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) was dated the 22nd of June,
1858, and to this hour it has never been answered. The noble Lord's
despatch disallowed the annexation; it condemned it, and asked for
information. From the date of that despatch to this present 1st of
August, 1859, there has not come any official information from the
Governor-General as to what he has done, or any answer to the noble
Lord's despatch, although sixteen months have elapsed. I say it is not
fitting that the Secretary of State for India should be treated with
utter disregard, if not with something like contempt, by any great
satrap who happens to be sent out to govern any of the provinces of this
country. This very case shows, that in the midst of the terrible
hurricane of the mutiny, the thirst for annexation was unslaked. At the
very moment, or just before, that the Queen issued her gracious
Proclamation here, the Government in India annexed the territory of this
Rajah, a boy of thirteen years of age, manifesting at the same time an
utter disregard of the Government at home and the just sentiments, if
they could have been ascertained, of the whole body of the people of
this country. And this must be so as long as you have a Government like
that of Calcutta. Procrastination is its very nature.

The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) did an excellent thing. He did
honour to himself by appointing a man of a new sort as Governor of
Madras. I have not much acquaintance with Sir C. Trevelyan, but I
believe him to be a very intelligent man and very earnest for the good
of India. But he finds that at Madras he is like a man who is manacled,
as all the Governors are. He is able to do almost nothing. But he has a
spirit above being the passive instrument for doing nothing in the hands
of the Governor-General, and he has been disposed to make several
changes which have looked exceedingly heterodox to those who are
connected with the old Government of India, and which have shocked the
nerves of the fifteen old gentlemen who meet in Leadenhall-street, and
their brethren in India. I find that among the changes endeavoured to be
effected by Sir C. Trevelyan, the following are enumerated:--He has
endeavoured to conciliate the Natives by abolishing certain ceremonial
distinctions which were supposed to degrade them when visiting the
Government House; he has shown that personal courtesy to them which
appears to be too much neglected in India; he has conspicuously rewarded
those who have rendered services to the State; he has made one of the
Natives his aide-de-camp; he has endeavoured to improve the land tenure,
to effect a settlement of the Enam, and to abolish the impress of cattle
and carts. He has also abolished three-fourths, or perhaps more, of the
paper work of the public servants. He also began the great task of
judicial reform, than which none is more urgently pressing. But what is
said of Sir C. Trevelyan for instituting these reforms? He has raised a
hornets' nest about him. Those who surround the Governor-General at
Calcutta say, 'We might as well have the Governors of the Presidencies
independent, if they are to do as they like without consulting the
Governor-General as has been done in past times' The _Friend of
India_ is a journal not particularly scrupulous in supporting the
Calcutta Government, but it has a horror of any Government of India
except that of the Governor-General and the few individuals who surround
him. A writer in the _Friend of India_ says:--

'Sir C. Trevelyan relies doubtless on Lord Stanley, and we do not
dream of denying that the Secretary of State has provocation
enough to excuse the unusual course he seems obliged to pursue.
To send a reform to Calcutta is, at present, simply to lay it
aside. It will probably not even be answered for two years,
certainly not carried in five. Even when sanctioned, it will have
to pass through a crucible through which no plan can escape
entire. That weary waiting for Calcutta, of which all men, from
Lord Stanley to the people of Singapore, now bitterly complain,
may well tempt the Secretary to carry on his plans by the first
mode offered to his hand.'

Here are only a dozen lines from a long article, and there are other
articles in the same paper to the same purport. I think, then, that I am
justified in condemning any Secretary for India who contents himself
with giving us the figures necessary to show the state of the finances,
which any clerk in the office could have done, and abstains from going
into the questions of the government of India and that policy upon which
alone you can base any solid hope of an improvement in the condition of
that country.

There is another point I would mention. The Governor-General of India
goes out knowing little or nothing of India. I know exactly what he does
when he is appointed. He shuts himself up to study the first volumes of
Mr. Mill's _History of India_, and he reads through this laborious
work without nearly so much effect in making him a good Governor-General
as a man might ignorantly suppose. He goes to India, a country of twenty
nations, speaking twenty languages. He knows none of those nations, and
he has not a glimmer of the grammar and pronunciation or meaning of
those languages. He is surrounded by half-a-dozen or a dozen gentlemen
who have been from fifteen to forty years in that country, and who have
scrambled from the moderate but sure allowance with which they began in
the Service to the positions they now occupy. He knows nothing of the
country or the people, and they are really unknown to the Government of
India. To this hour the present Governor-General has not travelled
through any considerable portion of the territory of India. If he did,
he would have to pay an increased insurance upon his life for travelling
through a country in which there are very few roads and no bridges at
all. Observe the position, then, in which the Governor-General is
placed. He is surrounded by an official circle, he breathes an official
air, and everything is dim or dark beyond it. You lay duties upon him
which are utterly beyond the mental or bodily strength of any man who
ever existed, and which he cannot therefore adequately perform.

Turning from the Governor-General to the Civil Service, see how short
the period is in which your servants in that country remain in any
particular office. You are constantly criticising the bad customs of the
United States, where every postmaster and many other officers lose their
situations, and where others are appointed whenever a new President is
elected. You never make blunders like the United States, and you will
therefore be surprised at a statement given in evidence by Mr.
Underbill, the Secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society. He says that
in certain districts in Bengal there are three or four Englishmen to
1,000,000 inhabitants, and that the magistrates are perpetually moving
about. I have here the names of several gentlemen cited. Mr. Henry
Lushington went to India in 1821, and remained till 1842. During these
twenty-one years he filled twenty-one different offices; he went to
Europe twice, being absent from India not less than four and a quarter
years. Upon an average, therefore, he held his twenty-one offices not
more than nine months each. Mr. J. P. Grant was Governor of Bengal. That
was so good a place that he remained stationary in it. But he went to
India in 1828 and remained there until 1841. In those thirteen years he
held twenty-four different situations, being an average of less than six
months for each. Mr. Charles Grant--and I may say that Grant is a name
which for three or four generations has been found everywhere in India,--
he was in India from 1829 to 1842, and in those thirteen years he
filled seventeen offices, being an average of only eight months for each
office. Mr. Halliday, Governor of Bengal, went to India in 1825, and
remained until 1843. In those eighteen years he held twenty-one offices,
and he did not become stationary until he was accredited to the
lucrative and great office of Governor of Bengal.

I think these facts show that there is something in the arrangements of
the Indian Government which makes it no Government at all, except for
the purpose of raising money and spending taxes. It is no Government for
watching over the people and conferring upon them those blessings which
we try to silence our consciences by believing the British Government is
established in India to promote. What can a Governor-General do with
such a Council, and with servants who are ever changing in all the
departments? I am not stating my own opinion, but what is proved by the
blue-books. Mr. Halliday stated that the police of Bengal were more
feared than the thieves and dacoits. But how is this Government, so
occupied and so embarrassed, to be expected to put the police on a
satisfactory footing? With regard to justice, I might appeal to any
gentleman who has been in India whether, for the most part, the Judges
in the Company's Courts are not without training, and if they are
without training, whether they will not probably be without law. The
delay is something of which we can have no conception, even with our
experience of the Court of Chancery in this country. Perjury and wrong
are universal wherever the Courts of the Company's Service have been
established in India. Of their taxation we hear enough to-night. It is
clumsy and unscientific. In their finance there is such confusion that
the Government proposes to send out somebody, not to raise revenue, not
to spend it, but somebody who will be able to tell you how it is raised
and spent, for that is what you want to know. They have no system of
book-keeping whatever. The Secretary of State gives us a statement of
revenue and expenditure up to the 30th of April, 1858, sixteen months
back, and even for the year preceding he can only furnish what he calls
an 'estimate.' Would any other Legislative Assembly in the whole world,
except this, tolerate such a state of things? I did try myself several
years ago to get a statement of the accounts up to a later period; but I
found it was of no use. They ought to be brought up to a later period;
the thing is quite within the range of possibility; it is simply not
done because there is no proper system of book-keeping, and no one
responsible for not doing it.

You have no Government in India; you have no financial statement; you
have no system of book-keeping; no responsibility; and everything goes
to confusion and ruin because there is such a Government, or no
Government, and the English House of Commons has not taken the pains to
reform these things. The Secretary of State to-night points to the
increase in the English trade. In that trade I am myself interested, and
I am delighted to see that increase; but it should be borne in mind that
just now it is not a natural increase, and therefore not certain to be
permanent. If you are spending so many millions in railroads and in
carrying on war--that is, 22,000,000_l_. for your armaments in
India instead of 12,000,000_l_.--is not that likely to make a great
difference in your power to import more largely from this country? Do
not we know that when the Government of the day was pouring English
treasure into the Crimea the trade with the Levant was most materially
increased? And, therefore, I say it will be a delusion for the right
hon. Gentleman to expect that the extraordinary increase which has taken
place within the last three years will go on in future in the same

Now, the point which I wish to bring before the Committee and the
Government is this, because it is on this that I rely mainly--I think I
may say almost entirely--for any improvement in the future of India. It
would be impertinent to take up the time of the Committee by merely
cavilling at what other people have said, and pointing out their errors
and blunders, if I had no hope of being able to suggest any improvement
in the existing state of things. I believe a great improvement may be
made, and by a gradual progress that will dislocate nothing. I dare say
it may disappoint some individuals, but where it will disappoint one man
in India it will please a thousand. What you want is to de-centralize
your Government. I hold it to be manifestly impossible to govern
150,000,000 of persons, composing twenty different nations, speaking as
many different languages, by a man who knows nothing of India, assisted
by half-a-dozen councillors belonging to a privileged order, many of
whom have had very little experience in India, except within narrow
limits, and whose experience never involved the consideration and
settlement of great questions of statesman ship. If you could have an
independent Government in India for every 30,000,000 of its people, I do
not hesitate to say, though we are so many thousand miles away, that
there are Englishmen who, settling down among those 20,000,000 of
people, would be able to conduct the Government of that particular
province on conditions wholly different and immeasurably better than
anything in the way of administration which we have ever seen in India.

If I were Secretary of State for India,--but as I am not, I will
recommend the right hon. Gentleman to do that which I would do myself,
or I would not hold his office for one month; because, to hold office
and come before the House Session after Session with a gloomy statement,
and with no kind of case to show that you are doing anything for India,
or that you are justified in holding possession of it at all, is nothing
but to receive a salary and to hold a dignity without any adequate
notion of the high responsibility attaching to them. I am not blaming
the right hon. Gentleman in particular; he is only doing what all his
predecessors before him have done. There has been no real improvement
since I have sat in Parliament in the government of India, and I believe
the Bill of last year is not one whit better for purposes of
administration than any that has gone before. But I would suggest to the
right hon. Gentleman, whether it would not be a good thing to bring in a
Bill to extend and define the powers of the Governors of the various
Presidencies in India? I do not ask the right hon. Gentleman to turn out
the fifteen gentlemen who assist him in Leadenhall-street to vegetate on
their pensions, but I ask him to go to India and to take the Presidency
of Madras for an instance. Let arrangements be made by which that
Presidency shall be in a position to correspond directly with him in
this country, and let every one connected with that Government of Madras
feel that, with regard to the interests and the people of that
Presidency, they will be responsible for their protection. At present
there is no sort of tie between the governors and the governed. Why is
it that we should not do for Madras what has been done for the Island of
Ceylon? I am not about to set up the Council of Ceylon as a model
institution--it is far from that; but I will tell you what it is, and
you will see that it would not be a difficult thing to make the change I
propose. The other day I asked a gentleman holding an office in the
Government, and who had lived some years in Ceylon, what was the state
of the Council? He said it was composed of sixteen members, of whom six
were non-official and independent, and the Governor had always a
majority. He added that at the present moment in that Council there was
one gentleman, a pure Cingalese by birth and blood, another a Brahmin,
another a half-caste, whose father was a Dutchman and whose mother was a
Native, and three others who were either English merchants or planters.
The Council has not much _prestige_, and therefore it is not easy
to induce merchants in the interior to be members and to undertake its
moderate duties; but the result is that this Cingalese, this Brahmin,
this half-caste, and these three Englishmen, although they cannot out-
vote Sir H. Ward, the Governor, are able to discuss questions of public
interest in the eye and the ear of the public, and to tell what the
independent population want, and so to form a representation of public
opinion in the Council, which I will undertake to say, although so
inefficient, is yet of high importance in the satisfactory government of
that island. Why is it that we can have nothing like this in the
Councils of Madras or Bombay? It would be an easy thing to do, and I
believe that an Act of Parliament which would do it would lay the
foundation of the greatest reform that has yet taken place in India. At
present all the Governors are in fetters; and I see that blame has been
imputed to Sir Charles Trevelyan for endeavouring to break through those
fetters. No doubt an attempt will be made to have him recalled, but I
hope that the right hon. Gentleman, while he moderates the ardour of the
Governor so far as to prevent a rebellion among the civilians, will
support him honestly and faithfully in all those changes which the right
hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do are essential to the improvement of
the government of that country.

There is yet another question, and that is, what is to be done with
regard to the people of India on the subject of education, and
especially with reference to the matter of religious instruction? I beg
the right hon. Gentleman to be cautious how he takes the advice of any
gentleman in this country, who may ask him to make changes in the
established order of things there by appearing in the slightest degree
to attempt to overthrow the caste and religion of the Natives of India.
I have here an extract from a letter written by a gentleman who was
present at one of the ceremonies of reading the Queen's Proclamation in
November last. He says:--

'Not less than 7,000 Natives of all ranks and conditions and
religions flocked to the esplanade at Tellicherry, where there
was no show but the parading of a company of Sepoys, who fired a
_feu de joie_ very badly, to hear the Queen's Proclamation
read. All who heard, all who heard not, manifested the deepest
interest in it. The pledged inviolability of their religion and
their lands spread like wildfire through the crowd, and was soon
in every man's mouth. Their satisfaction was unbounded.... I
mentioned that I went to Tellicherry to hear the Queen's
Proclamation read. We have since had it read here (Anjarakandy).
You will see an account of what took place on the occasion in the
accompanying copy of an official report I addressed to the
assistant-magistrate. What I have described understates the
feeling manifested by the people. They were all eyes and ears,
listening breathlessly to what was being read. You will observe
that convening them for any public purpose whatever, except here,
was a thing unknown, and would have been a thing scouted under
the Company's Government. Here I always assemble them,
communicate everything they ought to know and hear, and talk it
over with them. But a Queen's Proclamation is not an every-day
affair, so they came in crowds, and I will venture to say that
there is not another place in the Queen's India where it was so
clearly explained to them or so thoroughly understood. But the
impartial toleration of their religion and caste was the be-all
and end-all of their comments, praise, and individual
satisfaction. One Mafitta said, "They had had scores of
proclamations upon every conceivable subject, but never one so
wise and sensible as this."

The East India Company was a wonderful Company for writing despatches.
There was nothing so Christian as their doctrine, nothing so unchristian
as their conduct. That Proclamation has in it the basis of all you
should aim at in future in India--a regard to the sacredness of their
property, and the sacredness of their religion, and an extension to them
of as regular and full justice as is shown to your own countrymen.
Depend upon it these Natives of India can comprehend this as well as we
comprehend it; and, if you treat them as we are treated, and as they
ought to be treated, you will not require 400,000 men to help you to
govern a people who are notoriously among the most industrious and most
peaceable to be found on the face of the earth. There has lately been an
act done by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) to which I must allude. Why he
did it I do not know. I am sure the noble Lord did not mean to do an act
of injustice--though very great injustice has been done. A question was
put the other night about a Native of India who had come to this country
to qualify himself for entering into competition for employment in the
Civil Service of his country. I have seen that young gentleman, and
conversed with him; and when I state his case, it will be seen whether
he has been treated well or wisely, though the regulation under which he
has suffered may have been made without any reference to him
individually. He arrived in this country in June, 1856, and remained
preparing himself for competition for two years and a-half till
December, 1858, when a new regulation came out, which made twenty-two
instead of twenty-three years of age the period for entering the Civil
Service. He might have been ready for competition in July, 1860, but he
could not be ready in July, 1859. Under these circumstances he would be
past the age of twenty-two before he could be able to present himself
for examination. The consequence is, that he has been obliged to turn
himself to another channel for employment. His father is an assistant-
builder in the Government dockyard of Bombay, and has been in England.
There was great interest excited among the Natives when the young man
left India to come to England, and there is great disappointment among
his friends at the result. He has been laughed at for trusting the
Government, and it is said that while Government go on changing their
regulations in this way no faith can be put in them. Now this is the
first case of this kind that has happened. This young gentleman (or his
father) has expended 1,500_l_. in coming here and in endeavouring
to get the best education, solely with a view to be suited for the Civil
Service. If he had entered into that Civil Service a great thing would
have been accomplished. The result would have been that the House and
the Secretary for India would have seen that it was very unjust, while
the son of any one here could pursue his studies at home and enter into
competition for the Civil Service, that the sons of the Natives of India
who wish to enter into the service of their own country must come
thousands of miles at great expense, and live apart from their families
for years, before they are able to accomplish their object, and the
result must have been that you would have established in some city in
India the same mode of examination that you have established here. You
must have been led to do that which would have enabled young men in
India to offer themselves for the Civil Service of their country on as
favourable terms as could be done in England. I am sure the noble Lord
never had the slightest idea of the regulation having reference to this
young man, or of injuring him; yet it has been done, and what has
occurred leads to the conclusion that either somebody very deep in these
matters has been at the bottom of this change, or that some combination
of unfortunate circumstances has been at work, by which that which we
have all so much at heart has been retarded. If the noble Lord had
struck out this regulation, or made a new one, by which this young man
could have had a chance of going home as a servant of the Civil Service,
the fact would have been worth many regiments of soldiers in India.

In speaking on this subject I have nothing new to offer to the attention
of the House. I have propounded the very same theories and remedies
years ago. They are not my remedies and theories. I am not the inventor
of local government for India; but the more I have considered the
subject--the more I have discussed it with the Members of this House and
with gentlemen connected with India--the more I am convinced that you
will not make a single step towards the improvement of India unless you
change your whole system of government--unless you give to each
Presidency a government with more independent powers than are now
possessed by it. What would be thought if the whole of Europe was under
one governor, who knew only the language of the Feejee Islands, and that
his subordinates were like himself, only more intelligent than the
inhabitants of the Feejee Islands are supposed to be? You set a governor
over 150,000,000 of human beings, in a climate where the European cannot
do the work he has to do so well as here, where neither the moral nor
physical strength of the individual is equal to what it is at home,--and
you do not even always furnish the most powerful men for the office;--
you seem to think that the atmosphere will be always calm and the sea
always smooth. And so the government of India goes on; there are
promises without number of beneficial changes, but we never heard that
India is much better or worse than before. Now, that is not the way to
do justice to a great empire like India. If there had been a better
government in India, the late disturbances among your own troops would
not have happened; and I own I tremble when I reflect that every post
may bring us, in the present temper of the European troops in India,
some dire intelligence of acts which they may have committed, because
they may think that this is a convenient opportunity for pressing some
great claim of their own.

I beg the Committee to consider this matter, notwithstanding that the
right hon. Gentleman is not disposed to take a gloomy view of the state
of India. Look at your responsibilities. India is ruled by Englishmen,
but remember that in that unfortunate country you have destroyed every
form of government but your own; that you have cast the thrones of the
Natives to the ground. Princely families, once the rulers of India, are
now either houseless wanderers in the land they once called their own,
or are pensioners on the bounty of those strangers by whom their
fortunes have been overthrown. They who were noble and gentle for ages
are now merged in the common mass of the people. All over those vast
regions there are countless millions, helpless and defenceless, deprived
of their natural leaders and their ancient chiefs, looking with only
some small ray of hope to that omnipresent and irresistible Power by
which they have been subjected. I appeal to you on behalf of that
people. I have besought your mercy and your justice for many a year
past; and if I speak to you earnestly now, it is because the object for
which I plead is dear to my heart. Is it not possible to touch a chord
in the hearts of Englishmen, to raise them to a sense of the miseries
inflicted on that unhappy country by the crimes and the blunders of our
rulers here? If you have steeled your hearts against the Natives, if
nothing can stir you to sympathy with their miseries, at least have pity
upon your own countrymen. Rely upon it the state of things which now
exists in India must, before long, become most serious. I hope that you
will not show to the world that, although your fathers conquered the
country, you have not the ability to govern it.

You had better disencumber yourselves of the fatal gift of empire than
that the present generation should be punished for the sins of the past.
I speak in condemnatory language, because I believe it to be deserved. I
hope that no future historian will have to say that the arms of England
in India were irresistible, and that an ancient empire fell before their
victorious progress,--yet that finally India was avenged, because the
power of her conqueror was broken by the intolerable burdens and evils
which she cast upon her victim, and that this wrong was accomplished by
a waste of human life and a waste of wealth which England, with all her
power, was unable to bear.

* * * * *




_From Hansard_.

[Mr. Dunlop brought forward a motion to inquire into the discrepancies
between certain sets of documents, relating to the Afghan war of 1837-8.
It appeared that some passages in the despatches of Sir Alexander Burnes
had been mutilated, in order to make it appear that he advised a policy
which he really condemned. Mr. Dunlop moved for a Committee to inquire
into this alleged mutilation of despatches presented to the House. The
motion was negatived.]

When the noble Lord rose, I observed, from his countenance and from his
language, that he seemed to be suffering from the passion of anger.
[Viscount Palmerston: 'Not much.'] 'Not much,' the noble Lord says. I
admit that in the course of his speech he calmed down; but he was so far
led from what I think was a fair course as to charge the hon. and
learned Gentleman who introduced this Motion with making a violent and
vituperative speech, and he spoke of 'that vocabulary of abuse of which
the hon. Gentleman appeared to be master.' Now, I will undertake to say
that I am only speaking the opinion of every Gentleman in the House who
heard the speech which introduced this question, when I say that there
has rarely been delivered here on any subject a speech more strictly
logical, more judicially calm, and more admirable than that which we
have heard to-night from the hon. and learned Member for Greenock. But
the fact is the noble Lord felt himself hit.

The noble Lord is on his trial in this case; and on that account I
expect that at the conclusion of the debate he will not feel himself at
liberty to object to the appointment of this Committee. After a few
sentences the noble Lord touched upon the case of Sir Alexander Burnes,
and he made a very faint denial of the misrepresentations which are
charged against the Government of that day in the case of that
gentleman. But he went on to say that, after all, these things were of
no importance; that what was in, or what was left out, was unimportant.
But I should like to ask the noble Lord what was the object of the
minute and ingenious, and I will say unmatched care which was taken in
mutilating the despatches of a gentleman whose opinions were of no
importance and whose writings could not make the slightest difference
either to the question or to the opinions of any person concerned? The
noble Lord, too, has stooped to conduct which, if I were not in this
House, I might describe in language which I could not possibly use here
without being told that I was transgressing the line usually observed in
discussions in this assembly. The noble Lord has stooped so low as to
heap insult, throughout the whole of his speech, upon the memory of a
man who died in the execution of what he believed to be his public duty--
a duty which was thrust upon him by the mad and obstinate policy of the
noble Lord; and whilst his blood cries to Heaven against that policy,
the noble Lord, during a three-quarters of an hour's speech in this
House, has scarcely ceased to heap insult on his memory.

What the noble Lord told us throughout his speech was that Sir Alexander
Burnes was a man of the greatest simplicity of character. I could not,
however complimentary I were disposed to be, retort that upon the noble
Lord. He says that Sir Alexander Burnes--of whom he spoke throughout in
the most contemptuous manner--an eminent political agent at the Court of
Dost Mahommed, was beguiled by the treachery of that Asiatic ruler; that
he took everything for truth which he heard, and that, in point of fact,
he was utterly unfit for the position which he held at Cabul. But
although the noble Lord had these despatches before him, and knew all
the feelings of Sir Alexander Burnes, he still continued Sir Alexander
Burnes there. He was there two years after these despatches were
written, in that most perilous year when not only himself but the whole
army--subjects of the Queen--fell victims to the policy of the noble
Lord. Now, I must tell the noble Lord what my hon. and learned Friend,
the Member for Greenock, did not discuss, and what the Committee is not
to do--because every Member who heard the speech of the hon. and learned
Member for Greenock, and those who listened to the speech of the noble
Lord, must have seen that from the first the noble Lord evaded the whole
question. He endeavoured to lead the House to believe that my hon. and
learned Friend was going into some antiquarian researches about the
policy of the English or the Indian Government twenty years ago, and
that it was proposed to have a Committee to dig up all the particulars
of our supposed peril from the designs of Russia at that time. But the
fact is that my hon. and learned Friend had no such intention; and there
was no man in the House more cognizant of that fact than the noble Lord
when he ingeniously endeavoured to convey a contrary impression to the

It is not proposed to go into the policy of the war. And there is
another question that it is not proposed to go into. It is not proposed
to inquire whether Sir Alexander Burnes or Lord Auckland was Governor-
General. We know that Lord Auckland was Governor-General; but we know
that a Governor-General who may be many hundreds, or in India, perhaps,
2,000 miles away from the place where particular events are transpiring,
must rely to a considerable extent on the information he receives from
the political agent who is on the spot. If this be so, clearly what Sir
Alexander Burnes thought, and what he said, and what he wrote, is of
some importance. At least, if the House of Commons has any evidence
placed before it, the noble Lord will agree that in a great question
like this--I am not speaking of the present time, but of the time when
these events happened--it is of first-rate importance that the House
should have evidence not on one side only, but on both sides. There is
another thing we do not propose to inquire into, and that is the policy
of Russia at that time. I cannot very well understand the course which
the noble Lord has taken on this point; for I find that about twelve
months after the writing of these very despatches, the mutilation of
which is now complained of, the noble Lord made a reply to the Russian
Minister who had declared that there was nothing whatever hostile to
England in the instructions which were furnished to Vicovich. He says--

'There has not existed the smallest design hostile to the English
Government, nor the smallest idea of endangering the tranquillity
of the British possessions in India.'

The noble Lord, in reply to that, on the 20th December, 1838, just a
year after the writing of these despatches by Sir Alexander Burnes,

'Her Majesty's Government accept as entirely satisfactory the
declaration of the Russian Government that it does not harbour
any designs hostile to the interests of Great Britain in India.'

I may leave that question there, because I can assure the noble Lord
that my hon. and learned Friend has not the smallest intention--I judge
so, at least, from his speech--of bringing anybody before the Committee
to attack or defend the policy of the Government in the war which then
unhappily took place. Nor do I suppose it is intended to arraign anybody
for a policy that sacrificed at least 20,000 human lives--20,000 lives
of the subjects of the Queen of England. Nor is it intended to inquire
how far the loss of more than 15,000,000_l_. sterling by that
policy has affected for all future time the finances and the
circumstances of the Government of India. These are crimes--the whole of
that policy is a crime--of a nature never to be answered for. No man can
accurately measure it. No Committee of this House could adequately
punish those who were the perpetrators of it. No, Sir, my hon. and
learned Friend has not the slightest idea of going back twenty years for
the purpose of bringing the noble Lord, or any one else who may be
guilty of that great crime, to the bar of public opinion by this

But it is worth while that the House should know whether the Government
in whom it placed confidence at that time, and in whom the Queen placed
confidence--whether that Government was worthy of their confidence, and
whether any members of the Government of that day are members of the
Government at this day. It is worth while knowing whether there was and
is a man in high position in the Government here or in India who had so
low a sense of honour and of right that he could offer to this House
mutilated, false, forged despatches and opinions of a public servant,
who lost his life in the public service. Conceive any man at this moment
in India engaged, as many have been during the last three years, in
perilous services--conceive that any man should know that to-morrow, or
next week, or any time this year, he may lay his bones in that distant
land, and that six months afterwards there may be laid on the table of
this House by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or by the
Secretary of State for India, letters or despatches of his from which
passages have been cut out, and into which passages have been inserted,
in which words have been so twisted as wholly to divert and distort his
meaning, and to give to him a meaning, it may be, utterly the contrary
to that which his original despatch intended to convey. I cannot
conceive any anticipation more painful or more bitter, more likely to
eat into the heart of any man engaged in the service of his country in a
distant land.

It is admitted, and the noble Lord has not flatly denied it--he cannot
deny it--he knows it as well as the hon. and learned Member for
Greenock--he knows it as well as the very man whose hand did the evil--
he knows there have been garbling, mutilation, practically and
essentially falsehood and forgery, in these despatches which have been
laid before the House. Why was it refused to give the original
despatches when they were asked for in 1842 by the hon. Member for
Inverness-shire (Mr. H. Baillie), and when they were asked for at a
later period by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield)? Why was it
that the originals were so consistently withheld? That they have been
given now I suppose is because those who were guilty of the outrage on
the faith of Parliament thought, as twenty years had elapsed, that
nobody would give himself the trouble to go into the question, and that
no man would be so earnest as my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock in
bringing the question before the notice of Parliament.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) informs me that
it was the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) who
consented to the production of the original despatches when he was in
office. I was not aware of that fact; but I am free here to tender him
my thanks for the course which he took. I am sure he is the last man
whom any one would suspect of being mixed up in any transaction of this
kind, except with a view to give the House and the country full
information with regard to it. I say, then, avoiding all the long speech
of the noble Lord, that the object of the Committee is to find out who
did this evil thing--who placed upon the table of the House information
which was knowingly false, and despatches that were actually forged--
because if you add to or detract from, or so change a coin, or note, or
deed, as to make any of them bear a meaning contrary to its original and
intended meaning, of course you are guilty of such an act as I have
described, and that is precisely what somebody has done in the
despatches which we are now discussing. I say an odious offence has been
committed against the House, and against the truth; and what we want to
know is, who did it?

Now, will the noble Lord be candid enough--he does not think there is
anything wrong--he says there is not much--it is very trifling--that Sir
Alexander Burnes's opinions are not worth much--supposing it to be so--
for the sake of argument, let me grant it; but if it is a matter of no
importance, will the noble Lord be so candid as to tell us who did it?
When Lord Broughton was examined before the Official Salaries Committee
some years ago, he, as the noble Lord is aware, said that he took upon
himself as President of the Board of Control at the time the entire
responsibility of the Affghan war. The noble Lord now at the head of the
Government was then a member of the India Board, and so I believe was
the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. But the noble Lord at
the head of the Government was also Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Now,
I do not think I am wrong in supposing that this question lies between
the noble Lord the Prime Minister and Lord Broughton, once a Member of
this House. This thing was not done by some subordinate who cannot be
found out.

My hon. and learned Friend says it has been done with marvellous care,
and even with so much ability that it must have been done by a man of
genius. Of course there are men of genius in very objectionable walks of
life; but we know that the noble Lord at the head of the Government is a
man of genius; if he had not been, he would not have sat on that bench
for the last fifty years. And we know that Lord Broughton is a man of
many and varied accomplishments. And once more I ask the noble Lord to
tell us who did it? He knows who did it. Was it his own right-hand, or
was it Lord Broughton's right-hand, or was it some clever secretary in
the Foreign Office or in the India Office who did this work? I say the
House has a right to know. We want to know that. We want to drag the
delinquent before the public. This we want to know, because we wish to
deter other Ministers from committing the like offence; and we want to
know it for that which most of all is necessary--to vindicate the


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