Orisea (by W.W. Hunter, 1872).
Concerning John’s Indian Affairs (by R.H. Elliot, 1872).
Part 1: July 23, 1872.
In the main, Indian administrators appear to have acted on the principle that silence is golden so far as regards books about India which it is possible for ordinary people to read. This is the more singular because there is probably no part of the world which has been so minutely, so patiently, so diligently described as British India, and because every transaction which has ever taken place there has been recorded in the most authentic manner by the persons who took part in it. If the Indian records in the different departments of the various Governments and in the offices of the different district officers were carefully examined and sifted, they would give an account of our doings in that country more accurate, more complete, more thorough, and more curious than could be given of the transactions of any other Government in the world, For instance, the series of volumes called "Settlement Reports,” which are scattered through various offices in India, contain such an amount of everything that any one can want to know about great part of the country as is not to be had about any other part of the world. It is impossible to render any service to the Indian Empire of anything like such importance as the service of collecting and arranging all available information about it in a shape suited for general use by intelligent people in this country.
The two books mentioned at the foot of this article illustrate very fairly two different ways of giving the public this information about India. Mr. Hunter's book on Orissa is the mature and laborious work of a man who has devoted the whole power of his mind first to the practical duties of his profession as an Indian civilian and next to the study of all that relates to or can illustrate it. Of Mr. Hunter's literary ability and of his style we need say nothing, as they are sufficiently well known to the public by previous publications. Of the importance of the official duties which have lately been entrusted to him as Director-General of Statistics in India we could say much, but it would be very difficult to give an adequate idea of them to ordinary English readers. It is enough to say that if the work under his direction is carried out as successfully as from his former services and well-known ability we may hope that it will be, the world will have the means of knowing something really worth knowing about one of the most remarkable undertakings now in progress or ever carried out in any part or any age of the world. His present work is a sample of the sort of account which we may finally expect to get of the immense empire of which Orissa is certainly neither the most interesting nor the most important province.
Many of our readers probably know little more about Orissa than that: it was in 1866 the scene of a famine by which a great waste of human life took place. They may not even be aware of its geographical position at the top of the west side of the Bay of Bengal, lying along the coast between Bengal proper and the tributary States which bound the Madras Presidency on the north. Its population is slightly greater than that of Scotland in 1861, and its area is rather less. The main body of the work, to use Mr. Hunter's own language, "deals with matters of the deepest: interest to all thinking Englishmen. It honestly endeavours to show what the real effects of English rule have been, and what are the difficulties and, sources of anxiety which now beset it."
It is difficult to give any idea within the space at our disposal of the: amount of labour and of curious and well-selected information upon every sort of subject which Mr. Hunter has collected in order to illustrate the matter to which he has thus addressed himself. His book is, among other things, a book of travels, and a very good one. It also contains accounts of the religion of the country, throwing great light on one of the most: curious and indirectly one of the most important subjects in the world-- the, history of Indian religions. It contains a complete political history of Orissa, the materials of which have had to be collected with a surprising amount of patient care from all sorts of sources. It contains a detailed account of the social system of the country, and of the different modifications introduced into it by English rule. It contains a mass of politico-economical matter, a history of prices, discussions on the salt duties, and discussions on the value of money at different periods in relation to the purchasing power of the revenue of the province. It contains a most minute, and at the same time a very readable account of the physical features of the country and of the various engineering schemes which are under consideration in reference to it. It contains a description of the native States under British protection which border on Orissa, and of the all but: savage tribes of aborigines who lie farther towards the interior. Finally, a mass of detailed information invaluable for the practical purposes of administration is contained in nine appendices, which in about 200 closely packed pages discuss in detail every conceivable subject connected with the government and administration of the country.
The defect of the book is in its arrangement. It leaves a somewhat confused impression on the mind. This was perhaps a necessary result: of the extraordinary quantity of information of various kinds which it contains, and of the extreme difficulty of bringing the various topics discussed under any sort of general scheme. It is, however, very much easier to find fault upon this point than to suggest improvements. The book as a whole unquestionably deserves the highest praise, and any one who will read it carefully will be able to get more real knowledge from it about the real nature of the work which is being done by the English in India than from any other book with which we are acquainted. One thing, at all events, it puts beyond a doubt-- the extraordinary vigour of the author, a quality which is the one great characteristic of the service to which he belongs, the articulus stantis aut cadentis regni. As long as Indian civilians write books like this in the intervals of business, and under all the hardships of life in India; as long as they interest themselves so passionately in their work, and feel so keenly its connection with nearly every subject which: can occupy serious thought, the English rule, if understood and supported by the people of England, will not only last, but will prosper, and make its subjects prosper too.
We cannot pretend to give more than a specimen of the contents of this remarkable book. Many of them we must leave altogether unnoticed. We cannot do more than mention the chapters which relate to the religion of Orissa, and in particular to Jagannath (commonly spelt Juggernauth), who, it appears, is a god distinguished above all other things for humanity and for a recognition of the equality of men, and who hardly ever ran over anybody except by accident. His real crime is that his ceremonies are to a certain extent indecent, and that his worshippers breed cholera among themselves by their filthy habits, and disseminate it through every part of India on their return to their own homes.
We may, however, give a very slight sketch of the main points established in great detail by Mr. Hunter about the condition of the province under native rule, and the effects of English rule upon it.
“Little is known regarding this kingdom," says Mr. Hunter, "before the sixth century B.C." He might have added that not much worth knowing is known about it for many centuries more. The oldest inhabitants appear to have been savage tribes, the ancestors of an almost equally savage remnant called in these days Savars and Kandhs. They were more or less displaced by a Sanskrit-speaking race, who appear from ancient monuments and traditions to have been Buddhists. There are also obscure traditions about certain "Yavanas," who were probably Greeks. In the course of the fifth century of our era Brahmanism seems gradually to have prevailed against Buddhism, and in connection with this revolution (one of the most singular and obscure in the history of the world) Mr. Hunter has much to say about the Brahmans and their divisions in different parts of India. His remarks tend to show that, instead of forming a single caste, they were and are divided into all sorts of castes, classes, and families, with which we are very imperfectly acquainted. Various Brahman dynasties succeeded each other in Orissa for many centuries, and worshipped according to different rituals, of which various monuments are still remaining. The system which finally triumphed, and still survives, finds its headquarters and its chief expression in the worship of Jagannath. Jagannath is now the most popular god in India. "While on the intellectual and spiritual side of his nature he claims to be identical with Buddha, the ninth incarnation of Vishnu, he stands forth the hero of the warrior caste, as Rama in his seventh incarnation, and has drawn to himself the sympathies of the pastoral races as Krishna, the eighth appearance of Vishnu upon earth." This shadowy series of religious changes fills up the history of Orissa down to the twelfth century of our era. At that time it was subject to rulers whom Mr. Hunter calls the Gangetic dynasty. Their history from 1132 to 1532 presents merely "a narrative of confused and miscellaneous fighting," during the greater part of which the Mahommnedans fought with various success with the native rulers, whom they finally deposed. Of these Mahommedans many were Afghans; the last of whom was first an officer of Akbar's, and then a rebel against him. He was killed in 1576, and Orissa became a province of Akbar's empire.
For about forty-five years Akbar and his lieutenants governed Orissa, and crushed the Afghans who had preceded them. When this was effectually performed, the rulers of Orissa began to revolt against the emperors of Delhi. "The military position of Orissa pointed it out as a natural permanent basis of revolt." The Afghans again raised their heads, co-operated with insurgents in Bengal, and were at length again suppressed. At last, in the middle of the eighteenth century, the Mahrattas came down upon Bengal and used Orissa, as the Afghans had before them, as their base of operations. They became at last masters of the province, and their single notion of government was to squeeze out of the country every available rupee. "I have," says Mr. Hunter, "most carefully examined the records of this period, but I can detect absolutely no trace of anything like a civil administration. The Mabratta cavalry harried the country at stated periods each year and departed with the spoil."
There had been a few European settlements in Orissa from very early times. The earliest English settlements were Pippli, founded in 1635, and Balasor, founded in 1642. They carried on business and held their own against the various native Powers till 1803, when Lord Wellesley determined to follow up his victories over the Mahrattas in Central India by an attack on their countrymen in Orissa. The Mahrattas made a very faint resistance. The expedition against them was most judiciously made and was completely successful. Orissa, "nearly equal in size to Scotland and twenty times more fertile," was conquered "at an outlay of ;3o;oco and about fifty men." The most interesting part by far of Mr. Hunter's book is the answer which he gives to the question, What has been the result of the establishment of British power? For the answer in detail we must refer to the book itself. In a highly condensed form it is as follows:--The government of Orissa may be divided into three parts. The government of the districts under the full British system; the government of the tributary States; and the government of the wild Mountain tribes. We must confine ourselves to the districts under British rule proper. In the first place, it appears that between 1822 and 2872, notwithstanding the famine of 1866, the population has doubled; and this is the result of the growth of tillage, for the town population has been nearly stationary. "No foreign enemy has crossed the boundary of Orissa since 1803. Armed violence on the part of the rulers has ceased; oppression on the part of the landholders and a hundred of their vexatious imposts, such as those on the marriages of the peasantry and the birth of their children, have been put down. Courts of law have been brought within every man's reach, and the villagers no longer adjust their disputes by bands of incendiaries and clubmen. Meanwhile, the criminal classes have been effectively dealt with, and a firm police administration has rendered anything like kidnapping or the old depredations on a great scale absolutely incredible to the Orissa peasant of to-day." In the last year of which Mr. Hunter had the returns there were in gaol "one criminal to every 6,000 of the population and one female to every 100,000.” That is to say, the average number of prisoners in gaol in a country about as populous as Scotland is under 450.
The great evils to which Orissa has always been subject are too much water or too little-- floods and droughts. We cannot follow the exceedingly interesting account of this matter which Mr. Hunter gives. It is enough to say that the physical formation of the country is such as to place it almost entirely at the mercy of three great rivers-- the Mahanadi, the Brahmani, and the Baitarani. These, at the rainy season, are apt to tear the country to pieces by their inundations. The river channels are sufficient to carry off to the sea only about one-half of the flood waters. They have been transformed by a perpetual process of silting into high-level canals, the bottom of which is above the general level of the country. Half the flood-water, therefore, sweeps over the country and spoils the crops. The rivers have to a great extent been embanked, and every effort is being made to construct canals which will husband and regulate the supply of water so as to make it a source of wealth instead of destruction.
Valuable as these material benefits to the country are, Mr. Hunter (most justly, as we think) places above them all as the great achievement of the English rule the gradual establishment of a whole system of private proprietary rights in the land. Under native rule these rights were inchoate. The rights of the villages and their various officials, and those of the superior revenue officials, were to the last degree indeterminate and fluctuating. The whole system depended on the Government, which from time to time took from the cultivators of the soil as much of the produce as it could get through a long chain of revenue collectors, to whose fingers in each case stuck a larger or smaller proportion of the revenue collected. The villages were, so to speak, the cultivating units and remained unaffected by the changes among their various superiors except as to the amount which they had to pay. The rights of the individual villagers, the rights of the inferior revenue officers, and the rights (if such they could be called) of the Government all remained in a fluid, indefinite condition.
The result of peace, legislation, and the establishment of courts of justice has been to make property in Orissa pretty nearly as definite as property in Kent or Middlesex, and to give to every peasant in the country specific individual rights to which he is intensely attached, and which he vindicates in the English courts. Mr. Hunter has a most striking remark on this point which deserves far more attention than it has received. “By creating a long series of private rights in the soil we have developed an inexhaustible source of perfectly legitimate litigation. I by no means join in the English outcry against the so-called litigiousness of the Hindus. The growth of private rights has been so rapid under our rule that if the people did not very freely resort to our courts it would be a proof either of hopeless apathy on their part or of the corruption or unpopularity of our tribunals." Perhaps the most striking mode of contrasting English and native rule is, however, to be found in a passage in which Mr. Hunter compares the revenue expenditure of our own Government with the expenditure of its predecessors. The present revenue of Orissa is about £450,000. Of this £339,696 goes in collecting the revenue, in the administration of justice, and keeping the peace. There is a single native regiment which costs £17,000, and the balance of £28,000 represents the contribution of Orissa to the general expenses of the empire.
The nominal revenue of £450,000 has varied but little for many centuries, but the value of this income measured in grain was at least eight times greater. "It sufficed to support an administration infinitely more minute and, as regards its higher officials, infinitely higher paid. None of the English governing body in Orissa ever hopes to make a fortune; under the Hindu princes Government employ was synonymous with assured opulence. Sixteen great Ministers regulated the kingdom with seventy-two deputies and thirty-six separate departments of State. . . . . The Orissa king could at a moment's warning take the field with 18,000 horse and foot. . . . Thirty or forty thousand pounds were not considered extravagant for an ordinary temple," and the kings kept Courts which must have been very luxurious, though their luxury is probably exaggerated by tradition. The simple fact is that when the country was much poorer than it now is the native rulers rackrented it to the very utmost, took from it eight times as much as we now take from a far richer country, and spent the proceeds partly in magnificence, partly in war, and partly in temples. "The native kings of Orissa enjoyed the undivided ownership of the land. Instead of a long line of part proprietors stretching from the Crown to the cultivators as at present, and each with a separate degree of interest in the soil, the plenum dominium was finally bound up and centered in the hands of the prince."
It would be very unjust to Mr. Hunter to regard him as an indiscriminate eulogist of the Government which he serves. He speaks freely of the various mistakes which have been made, and which, indeed, are inseparable from such an undertaking as the establishment of the British Empire in India, and he appreciates the immense difficulties with which English rulers have to contend. For instance, Mr. Hunter is one of those who think that the assessment of the land revenue in Orissa (and, we should infer, in other parts of the country) has not proceeded upon proper principles. He points out that we have developed private rights in land at the expense of the public revenue; that the original assessment upon the land was exceedingly light; that when the thirty years for which it had been made expired, Orissa was suffering from the effects of the famine; that it was then renewed for a further period of thirty years at the old rate; and that it should have been made either in grain or in cowries but not in silver, the value of which, as he proves by much curious evidence, has been steadily declining in Orissa ever since our conquest of it. Mr. Hunter says that had the revenue been taken in grain it would have enabled us in Orissa to reduce the salt tax, and to do without the income tax. Mr. Hunter's doctrine, in short, is that the land tax ought to be assessed in grain upon the produce of the land, and not in silver upon a something called the rent of the land-- a payment which in truth is not rent at all, but a customary payment bearing no relation to the value of the land.
Mr. Hunter also dwells upon the difficulties connected with the whole scheme of irrigation, which he points out in these pithy words:-- "A civilized Government cannot stand by and witness its people dying by hundreds of thousands of hunger. Yet in the present state of rural India Government cannot construct the requisite protective works without the risk of national insolvency." Be further points out with a distinctness which we do not think has been equalled by other writers what may be called the religious or spiritual difficulties of the Government of India. "These Indian races, to the spiritual side of whose nature our English Government is by its very position forced to shut its eyes, and for whose spiritual wants we can make no provision, have got a capacity of belief and a depth of religious emotion which, if worked upon by a really great leader, may yet be destined to blow in pieces our rule." This remark is of the highest importance. It points to questions of which we cannot even sketch the magnitude in this place, though they give to the whole question of India its principal interest in many minds. In a subsequent article we shall make some observations on Mr. Elliott's work about India.
Part 2: July 26, 1872.
We gave some account the other day of Mr. Hunter's work on Orissa as an illustration of one method, and as it appears to us the right method, of giving English people information of real importance about India. Mr. Elliott's book seems to us to be nearly as good an illustration of the wrong way of doing so.
The book, in the first place, is bad on the face of it. Mr. Elliott treats; his readers like children. He is of opinion that they will not read about India at all unless he tempts them into it by a crumb or two of stale sugar-candy. His title is "Concerning John's [John Bull's] Indian Affairs,” and the book from first to last is written in the form, at once awkward, tedious, and insulting to the common sense of his readers, of a series of letters from Mr. Elliott to John Bull, which profess to be reports of former conversations between John Bull and Mr. Elliott. Mr. Elliott tells "My dear John" that they had a talk a few days before about Indian affairs. "My dear John" will remember that he addressed Mr. Elliott as "my good man," and made many observations about his (Bull's) "Indian property." My dear John will also remember various unpleasant things which Mr. Elliott told him: "How you fretted and fumed, my dear John! But as facts and figures were duly marshalled before you, and you began to be nervous, or at least doubtful as to the safety of your Indian estates, you again took refuge in anger," &c. &c. At the other end of the book there is a great deal of capital made by describing Mr. Grant Duff as Duff. "The fact is, my dear John, that Duff had no business on the committee at all. 'Well, well,' you broke in, 'let me hear no more of it. I'll speak to the Duke, and see what he has got to say about Duff's conduct.'” All this is simply bad manners, the behaviour of a person who has no confidence in his power of interesting others on a most serious subject unless he takes liberties and is rude. We need not insist upon that wretched style in which the whole book is written, but it is bad throughout. The substance of the work is the really important part of it.
Shortly, its substance is this. Everything done in India by its present rulers is wrong from end to end. The whole form of government should be revolutionized. The Governor-General should sink into a Minister of War and Foreign Affairs. India should be broken up into "at least five great divisions-- say Bombay, Madras, Bengal, North-West Provinces, and Punjaub." Each governor is to manage his own finances. No new laws to be made for the future unless initiated by petition from the people. Every "county" (this we may explain means district, which Mr. Elliott supposes to be too hard a word for an Englishman to understand) "to have a consultative council." The governing power in each collectorate in all points of internal administration to rest with the collector. No fresh taxation to be levied without the consent of the councils, and then only for local purposes, unless in the case of a levy required for some extraordinary Imperial emergency, as, for instance, war. Does this mean that every district council is to consent before a tax can be imposed, or a majority of them, or what? These and many other matters of great importance which we have not room to notice are to be done at once under pain of the destruction of the Empire by bankruptcy.
It is difficult to give an adequate idea of the wild absurdities involved in this "very rough outline of a scheme of government by which the country might be managed cheaply and effectively," but we may mention a few of them. In the first place Mr. Elliott is inconsistent. At p. 65 he gives a sort of hint at this scheme, and says (p. 66), "I cannot think, with all the will in the world, that, considering their present ignorance, the people of India can possibly fit themselves for such a system of government under a period of at least fifty years from this." At pp. 200-2 he speaks of the scheme as one which must be adopted at once, to escape pressing danger. Again, Mr. Elliott is one of the persons who exclaim against excessive legislation in India, and one of his proposals is that no more laws should be made unless initiated by petition from the people. In order to get his scheme into working order it would be necessary to begin by repealing nearly all the existing laws of India, and enacting a completely new set of laws, invented out of the head of Mr. Elliott or somebody else. The whole organization of the country, the whole system for the administration of justice and collection and assessment of the revenue, would have to be broken to pieces, and a new one erected in the place of it, and this new system when once established could never be altered, except upon a petition by the people.
In the next place the proposition that each collector is to govern his own district "in all points of internal administration" is incredibly wild. It assumes that the whole experience of all Indian Governments at all times is to be set aside. The essence of Indian Government, the mainspring by which such enormous results have been secured by the use of exceedingly small means, is discipline and subordination. The magistrates and collectors of districts rule over their assistants. The Commissioners of Divisions superintend the magistrates. The Local Governments superintend the Commissioners, and in matters of grave importance the Governor-General in Council superintends the Local Governments. To break up all this and to cut up British India into several hundred petty principalities each governed by a magistrate (who, by the way, under the present system would probably not stay in his district for more than two or three years) would be an act of suicidal folly. As to the proposal to have five local governors each managing his own finance in his own way, subject only to the payment of a contribution (to be fixed apparently by nobody and on no principle) to the national army, it is equivalent to a proposal to multiply by five at least, and probably by a much larger figure, every existing difficulty of governing India.
We could easily pursue the subject, but these remarks are enough, if any are needed, to show the crudity and extravagance of Mr. Elliott's ideas. Violent and sudden changes, which are dangerous everywhere, amount in India to mere destruction. With a degree of pains, labour, risk, and good fortune which very few people in the least appreciate, we have contrived in the course of several generations to build up by degrees a system of government which no doubt has its defects, but which most assuredly does effectually answer most of the great purposes of government. It keeps the peace, protects life and property, and maintains a sufficient force to secure the country against foreign invasion. It is in full operation, and is being worked by people who understand it. To make such changes as Mr. Elliott suggests would be like selling a house and grounds which undoubtedly belong to the seller, and in which he and his family have lived with reasonable comfort for generations, in order to invest the proceeds in the shares of a bubble company established to work an invention of which we have not even got a working model. The scheme is hardly worth serious discussion, but it throws great light on all the rest of the book, and illustrates strikingly enough the value of a great deal of talk about Indian grievances and Indian reform.
We cannot discuss the various points which Mr. Elliott refers to. Besides the "My dear John" and "My good man" of business, and apart from his scheme for a legislative revolution, Mr. Elliott's 286 pages treat of education, railways, irrigation, religion, finance, the assassination of Lord Mayo, the use of cattle-dung for fuel, and many other matters. His views about religion are characteristic of the man. Of course, instead of saying what he has to say plainly, he throws it into the form of a 'dialogue between a missionary and a Brahmin. The Brahmin suggests, and the missionary approves the suggestion, that the true way of Christianizing the Hindoos would be to teach them first of all a purified version of their own creed as it was understood by its earliest monotheistic teachers. This would in time raise the people to pure theism. Pure theism "can never satisfy the religious wants of mankind as at present constituted." The people would discover this, "and spontaneously seek out the admirable religion of Christ." Mr. Elliott thinks that this suggestion is too much in advance of the age to be adopted, but is sure it is right. He considers, in short, that he knows more about every department both of speculation and of practical business than all other persons who have had to do with India put together, and he proposes the most radical changes in every department of things with a simple confidence which gives the measure of the value of his opinions. Mr. Elliott's life has been that of a coffee-planter in an out-of-the-way part of Mysore, where he had hardly any one of education or experience to associate with. What would be thought of a Chinese who had passed many years of his life in managing a sheep-farm in Lewis or Mull, and on his return to China set up on the strength of his experience of Europeans as an authority on the measures to be taken for the restoration of good government to Spain?
We are far from saying that his book has no value at all. On the contrary, some of the points which be makes are, we think, good, though they are very familiar. There may be room for considerable economy in regard to the organization of the army. Three commanders-in-chief, each with a separate staff, require a strong justification. Probably there is room for reduction in parts of the native army, and more particularly, as has often been pointed out, in the Madras army; but the advantage of such savings cannot be got at once. Change in itself is a most expensive business. A private person may often find it cheaper to live for several years in an expensive house than to move into one at a lower rent. Just in the same manner, a Government may often commit itself to great expense for a series of years by making changes which will ultimately effect savings. No one, again, can dispute the evils of the Guarantee system for railways, and it is highly probable that the railways, constructed under it were much too expensively made. A narrow guage might have been quite as good as the Irish gauge which was adopted, and would have no doubt been far cheaper. No doubt, also, Mr. Elliott is right in thinking that great caution is needed in undertaking, planning, and carrying out the enormous engineering works which are in progress or under consideration in various parts of India. Engineers, no doubt like other people, want to distinguish themselves, and not unfrequently are apt to try to do so by building bridges or other expensive structures which by no means repay their cost; and the same is true of architects. No doubt there are many public buildings in India which might have been left unbuilt, and many works which need never have been constructed, while others have been built very badly. Let all these matters by all means be looked into as carefully as possible; let past faults be subjected to the most searching criticism; let the most careful precautions that can be devised be taken against their recurrence. No doubt there is an ample field here, as in every department of Indian affairs, for the exercise of any available amount of sagacity and ingenuity. Upon many of these topics Mr. Elliott makes very sensible remarks, and supplies pointed illustrations. We will go a step further with him. We think he is right in the belief that India is a very poor country, and is never likely to be rich as Europe is rich; and we quite agree that it would be wrong to impose heavy taxes on the natives of India in order to force them into a career of speculation and labour alien to their habits and wishes for the sake of promoting the interests of English merchants and manufacturers. Some influential persons both in England and India have advocated the policy of what they call developing the resources of India by the expenditure of enormous sums of money to be raised by loan, the interest being provided by taxation. We should feel as strongly opposed to this as Mr. Elliott himself. The Empire was no doubt founded by merchants, but it never can be creditably administered as a mercantile speculation.
The point at which we differ from Mr. Elliott, and at which we think his book likely to do great mischief, is a very plain and broad one. His criticisms all proceed on the principle that we ought not to attempt, however cautiously, to introduce the fundamental principles of European civilization into India; that we are not justified in spending the money, or in investing the English authorities with the political discretionary powers, which are absolutely indispensable to that object. How far Mr. Elliott himself realizes this we are unable to say, but it is the real drift of his book. He says in one place, in advocating the banishment and the confiscation of the property of "the whole kith and kin" of men like the murderer of Lord Mayo, "If we do not choose to govern the country, at least to some extent, on Asiatic principles, the sooner we leave it the better." Here the truth comes out. The vague, "at least to some extent," may be struck out as mere surplusage. Mr. Elliott's real wish, and that of many others, is that India should be ruled on Asiatic principles. He wishes us to sit in the seats of Hyder Ali and Tippoo, of Runjheet Singh or Sevajee, or at best to occupy the position of Akbar and his successors. He does not believe in the principles of European society. He considers law, legislation, and government by law as mere delusions and weakness of mind. An act like Mr. Cowan's is in his eyes "merely one of those errors of judgment which, considering our peculiar position in India, we must expect to be occasionally made." His advice would be, "Do not trouble the people with principles about law and justice, which are just so much froth; do not worry them with your ideas about civilization. Put down an absolute ruler in every district; let him have a set of native assessors, and manage matters on native principles. If he hangs people without trial, or blows them away from guns, or impales them, or cuts off their hands and feet, it is at worst an error of judgment. It is nothing to you, the people, or the European governors, of England. Satisfy the natives, and let everything else take care of itself." This is the real tendency of the scheme of local councils with a veto on legislation and taxation, and the real drift of much of the talk which is so common in these days about sympathy with the natives and knowledge of their ways. It admits, of course, of being thrown into a popular form, and of being connected with many of the commonplaces of English liberalism about representative institutions and local self-government. Its essence, however, is retrograde and bigoted. Popular institutions in modern Europe have been progressive for several generations for reasons which we need not refer to, and we have thus got fixed in our minds the notion that there is a necessary connection between popular institutions and the progress of civilization. No error can well be greater. In India the establishment of such a scheme as Mr. Elliott proposes would simply put a stop to all improvement whatever. It would not merely prevent improvement; it would convert blessings into curses. Prevent war, keep the peace, establish private rights, and you get a vast increase of population. Govern the increased population on the principles on which the mere rudiments of social life were provided for in times of war and rapine, and you produce want, disorder, gross oppression and jobbery, and a pressure of population on means of subsistence not less injurious than war and rapine. There are only two modes of dealing with India; the native mode, with its logical results, and the English mode, with its logical results. Experience has shown what native principles of government fully applied resulted in. They led to centuries of anarchy and a reduction of the organization of society to the very lowest form consistent with its existing at all. What will ultimately be the result of the English mode of dealing with India it would be rash to foretell; but so far, in the midst of all kinds of dangers and difficulties, and in spite of every sort of mistake, it has produced magnificent results. If we determine to shut our eyes to these results, to look at nothing but failures and mistakes made under difficulties which it is hardly possible to estimate without special knowledge of the subject, and to try to go back to principles of government which are as barbarous in theory as they have been shown to be futile in practice, we shall sacrifice to mere despondency and faint-heartedness one of the noblest enterprises in the world.
Pall Mall Gazette, July 23 and 26, 1872.