§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I hardly know anything more interesting—I am sure there are few things more instructive—than to recall the commencement of great events. It is remarkable how insignificant incidents at the first blush have appeared which have proved to be pregnant with momentous consequences. A street riot at Boston and at Paris turned out to be the two great revolutions of modern times. Who would have supposed, when we first heard of the rude visit of a Russian sailor from a port in the Black Sea to Constantinople, that we were on the eve of a critical war, and of the solution of one of the most difficult of political problems? And so, some few weeks ago, when it appeared in the newspapers that there was a mutiny in a Native regiment in India, I dare say few people read the paragraph. I dare say, indeed, most persons turned for amusement to the more exciting discussions in this House on questions of domestic interest of comparative insignificance; and if the tranquil course of the House of Commons this year have not afforded them even this resource, they were, perhaps, more interested in the stimulating adventures of the police courts. But, Sir, I have always thought if mankind could bring themselves to ponder in time on the commencement of those events that greatly affect their fortunes it is possible that we might bring to the transaction of affairs more prudence and more energy than are generally exercised, and that probably we might prevent many public disasters. It was with that feeling, Sir, when the first news arrived of the occupation of Delhi by the rebels, that I thought I was only performing my duty in addressing some inquiries to Her Majesty's Ministers as to their opinions with regard to the cause of those remarkable events and the exact position of affairs. I am bound to say that at the time the answer which I 441 received impressed me with the feeling that Her Majesty's Ministers did not view the events which had occurred in that spirit which I thought their latent importance demanded. The House will recollect what was the information afforded by the Government on that occasion. The President of the Board of Control told the House that the Governor General of India wrote in very good spirits—that Her Majesty's Government hoped and trusted—nay, that they even believed—that by the next mail we should hear that the city of Delhi had been razed to the ground, and, in order to afford that test of truth and of danger which is so thoroughly appreciated by the inhabitants of the British isles, we were told to look at the state of the public securities. We were told the funds at Calcutta had not fallen, but, on the contrary, had rather risen, and the inference to be drawn from this circumstance was that the danger was neither profound nor extensive. Well, Sir, the tone taken by the Government in the other House of Parliament was not more serious. The noble Lord (Earl Granville) there ingenuously informed the country that the Government were utterly taken by surprise both here and in India—that twenty-four hours before these events occurred they did not even suspect that anything was wrong. Even in that patrician assembly, which is generally considered to be more connected with the land, the funded test was also applied, and when a question was asked, as if in combination with the Ministry, whether the funds had fallen at Calcutta, and the answer being that they had not fallen, that answer was received with marks of approbation. I admit that one ought not to review with too critical severity the first expressions of a Government after such events: but when the Government had had the advantage of being informed, not merely by telegraph, but by despatches, of what had happened—when they had had a considerable time to consider these events—when several Councils (anxious ones, I have no doubt), had been held upon them—ten days, in short, after the first notification of what had occurred in India—the House was favoured by a great officer of State—one of the principal Members of the Cabinet—incidentally, it is true, but still, on the occasion of an Eastern debate having some indirect reference to India—the Persian war, I mean—the House was favoured with the matured opinion of the Cabinet upon 442 these great events—the Chancellor of the Exchequer informed the House that the revolt of the Bengal army was a sudden impulse, occasioned by superstitious feelings. We were thus favoured with the mature opinion of the Government upon the cause of these important events, and it was clear from their general tone and from the expressions of persons of authority, who, if not members of the Government, exercise great influence in this House, and are supposed to be general supporters of the Government, that the conduct of the native troops in India was looked upon as a mere military mutiny—that was, I think, the expression that was used on that occasion. Now, I apprehend that it is of the greatest importance to obtain as clear an idea as we can of the causes which have led to these events. I said, on the occasion I have before referred to, that we ought to have the opinion of the Government on that subject: and when the cause alleged by the Government appeared to me to be insufficient, I ventured to intimate that it was the paramount duty of Parliament to investigate the causes, if they deemed those alleged by the Government to be unsatisfactory. Some objection was taken to this course. It was alleged that, this being a mere military mutiny, all we had to do was to put it down, and when it was put down, then the Government would consider the condition of the Indian army. Now, I humbly think that the question whether it is a mere military mutiny is one of primary importance. Is it a military mutiny, or is it a national revolt? Is the conduct of the troops the consequence of a sudden impulse, or is it the result of an organized conspiracy? The House must feel that, upon the right appreciation of that issue, the greatest of all questions, namely, the measures which the Government ought to adopt, or Parliament ought to sanction, entirely depends. The measures which may be adequate in the case of a military mutiny will not be adequate to cope with a national revolt. The measures which may be perfectly competent to deal with conduct which is only the consequence of sudden impulse will be totally insufficient to deal with conduct which is the consequence of a conspiracy long matured, deeply laid, and extensively ramified. I apprehend that the right understanding by this House of the cause of the present state of affairs in India is a primary piece of knowledge, without which we cannot undertake to support any measures that 443 are brought forward for the purpose of putting an end to the disorders which there exist. I will, therefore, Sir, to-night presume, with the indulgence of the House, to address them upon two points. I will ask them, first, to inquire what are the causes of the present state of affairs in India; and, when they have arrived at a general conclusion on that point, I will ask them to inquire what are the proper measures, under the circumstances, which should be adopted. These are the two points to which, then, I will call their attention tonight, it being my opinion that they are inseparably connected, and that, unless we arrive at a just conclusion with respect to the cause, it is totally impossible for us to adopt any sufficient remedy.
Sir, it is not my intention to-night to trouble the House with any lengthened description of the condition of the Bengal army. I apprehend that, whatever may be the variety of opinions which prevail among us on other subjects, no great difference can exist with regard to this—that the condition of the Bengal army, both as regards discipline and disposition, has been for some time, and was at the time of the revolt, highly unsatisfactory. The House has, upon that subject, very ample materials on which it may form its opinion. The House is now familiar with the fiery criticisms of the lamented Napier. I have no doubt every expression which he used is uppermost in the minds of those whom I address. The country has been recently favoured with the calmer reminiscences of another distinguished Indian general—Lord Melville. There exists in a pamphlet, no doubt familiar to many Members of this House, the concurrence of a distinguished, and one of the most rising of Indian officers—Colonel Jacob—who does not, I believe, agree with Napier on any other subject, and which sets forth clearly the unsatisfactory state of the Bengal army. It appears to me that I should trespass unnecessarily on the time of the House if I entered into any minute details, or brought numerous proofs, to justify the conclusion at which I suppose a vast majority of the House have arrived. Since the time when General Napier penned those confidential and vivid descriptions of the state of the Bengal army, since Lord Melville gave us his personal experience of it, since Colonel Jacob published that pamphlet, it has been acknowledged that the condition of the Bengal army has not improved, but deteriorated, and that 444 the grievances, or alleged grievances, of the Sepoys, instead of having diminished, lave perhaps increased. I think the House will feel it unnecessary for me to enter into the question whether that army was over or under officered. I think the House will agree with me, that it is unnecessary to prove that, if under-officered, those officers who remained were, in too many cases, inexperienced, ignorant of the language of the country, and too frequently contemptuous of its usages. I think the House will agree with me, that it is unnecessary to enter into the question of the pay, the pension, the furlough of the Sepoy, his foreign service, or general service. And there is one reason which, above all others, induces me not to enter into any details upon this branch of the question, because I am persuaded (and I shall offer to-night facts and arguments in support of my opinion) that the conduct of the Bengal army in revolting against our authority was the conduct of men who were not so much the avengers of professional grievances as the exponents of general discontent. I shall show, or endeavour to show, to the House to-night that our Government in India of late years has alienated or alarmed almost every influential class in the country. I shall show, or endeavour to show, to the House to-night that the mutual suspicions and prejudices between rival religions and different races, which were the cause of segregation between powerful classes in that country, have of late years, in consequence of our policy, gradually disappeared, and that for them has been substituted an identity of sentiments, and those sentiments, I am sorry to say, hostile to our authority. I shall have to show to the House how these feelings have led to communication between classes who never communicated before. I shall have to show to the House how communication under such circumstances led to conspiracy. I shall have to show to the House how the most powerful native class in India, the army, which has been disciplined by our energy and exertions, was at last drawn into the vortex; and I shall show to the House that for a considerable period of time the state of India was one of menacing combustion, and all that was wanted was the occasion and the pretext. I shall show the House how that occasion was afforded, and how that pretext was devised.
But before I touch upon these points, 445 although it is not my intention to-night to refer to many documents, there is one passage in a most important Indian State paper to which I ought to advert. The House is familiar with a Minute that was laid on our table in 1856, which is, in fact, a history of the Government of India by the late Governor General (the Marquess of Dalhousie). It consists of forty-five pages and 180 sections. It touches upon every theme, one would suppose, that eight years of energetic government supplied, or that could occur to cither House of Parliament. Here we are told of the kingdoms that under the Government of Lord Dalhousie were added to the dominions of the British Crown. No subject is too high or too insignificant to escape notice. We are informed, not only of annexations of territory, but of the establishment of railroads and electric telegraphs. Nothing is omitted, except one—the subject upon which we require information. When the intelligence of the military revolt arrived I was anxious to refer to this most important Indian State paper, and to have the opinion of the late Governor General on the state of the Bengal army and the Indian army generally when he retired from his long viceroyalty. He has given us forty-five pages and 180 sections, but to my surprise, when I examine them, the Indian army never appears. There is no subject which can possibly interest us, or no incident of importance which did occur, that is not here commemorated except the state of the Indian army. At last, to my surprise, I found in section 151 a reference to the condition of the European soldier. He was not the soldier upon whose condition I wanted information; but still that section was at the moment of some comparative interest. The subject is treated at length. Under the head of "European soldier" the improvements in barrack construction, in their ventilation, the differences in their altitude in the hill-country and in the plain, are touched upon with a solicitude which cannot be too much praised. Under the same head—there being more than twenty paragraphs devoted to such important topics—I find an incidental notice of the native soldier in India. Here it is:—The position of the native soldier in India has long been such as to leave hardly any circumstance of his condition in need of improvement.I thought it right, in speaking of the condition of the Bengal army, and after adverting to the opinions of men like Napier, 446 Melville, and Jacob, that we should have before us the statement of the highest authority on this subject, and therefore I have read to the House that solitary sentence from the Minute of Lord Dalhousie.
I now proceed to lay before the House the reasons and facts that have induced me to arrive at the conclusions which I have already stated. Of late years a great change has taken place in the Government of India. In olden days, and for a considerable time—indeed, until, I would say, the last ten years—the principle of our government of India, if I may venture to describe it in a sentence, was to respect Nationality. We often talk now of our conquest of India, and sometimes we are told that it is necessary to re-conquer that country. The conquest of a country inhabited by 150,000,000 of men, in many instances of warlike habits, could at no time have been an easy achievement. Its difficulty must certainly be increased to us after what has occurred, and therefore I think it is of some importance that upon this grave and common idea of conquering India we should have as accurate notions as possible. I deny, Sir, that in a vulgar sense of the words we have ever conquered India. We have taken a part in the military operations which have very frequently been conducted upon a great scale in India. The annals of our warfare in India are glorious. Our arms have been victorious in many signal fields and many brilliant campaigns. We have often triumphed over powerful Sovereigns and baffled skilful and dangerous confederacies. But still our conquest of India in the main has been a conquest of India only in the same sense in which William of Orange conquered England. We have been called in—this happened very frequently in the earlier periods of our Indian history—by populations suffering under tyranny, and we have entered those kingdoms and principalities to protect their religion and their property. It will be found in that wonderful progress of human events which the formation of our Indian empire presents that our occupation of any country has been preceded by a solemn proclamation and concluded by a sacred treaty, in which we undertook to respect and maintain inviolate the rights and privileges, the laws and customs, the property and religion of the people, whose affairs we were about to administer. Such was the principle upon which our Indian empire was founded; and it is a proud as well as a politic passage 447 in the history of Englishmen, that that principle has been until late years religiously observed. All our great Indian statesmen—I am not talking merely of politicians who have gone out to undertake the government of Presidencies, but of men like Malcolm, Metcalfe, Elphinstone, and Munro—have always upheld the principle of maintaining the engagements we made in those proclamations and treaties. Our empire in India was, indeed, founded upon the old principle of divide et impera, but that principle was put into action by us, not with any Machiavellian devices, but by merely taking advantage of the natural and, if I may use the expression, spontaneous circumstances of the country in which we were acting a part. There were in India so many independent States, so many princes of different races, so many religions, and even so many languages, that if yon honestly performed your engagements, it was totally impossible to raise a combination which could overwhelm you. Why did the Mahomedans and the Mahrattas fail in India? The two principal causes of the downfall of those dynasties were—first, that they persecuted the people whom they had conquered on account of their religion; and, secondly, that when their treasuries became empty they confiscated the land of the chief proprietors. England, on the contrary, always came in with a guarantee of their lands, and a solemn engagement not to tamper with their religion. It was by a policy founded upon these principles that our power in India was established. All our great Indian authorities, indeed, have recognized in the existence of independent Native States a source not of embarrassment, but of security to England. They have looked upon them, to use the expression of one of the most eminent of our Indian statesmen, as the "safety valves" of our empire. The turbulent spirits of the country were enrolled in their armies. Their mode of life offered a career which our more regulated and ordinary habits would not have furnished to the fiery youth of India. A strict observance of our treaties, the rigid maintenance of the laws and customs of the people, and, above all, a faithful respect for our guarantees of their land and a scrupulous adhesion to our engagements not to tamper with their religion—these were the sources of our strength, and upon these our great Indian statesmen always insisted. But, Sir, of late years a new principle appears to have been adopted in 448 the government of India. If the old principle—the principle upon which our empire was created and established, and which prevailed until very recent times—was a respect for nationality, the principle of the new system seems to be the reverse, and may be described as one which would destroy nationality. Everything in India has been changed. Laws and manners, customs and usages, political organizations, the tenure of property, the religion of the people—everything in India has either been changed or attempted to be changed, or there is a suspicion among the population that a desire for change exists on the part of our Government. Now, taking the last ten years, I would range under three heads the various causes which have led, in my opinion, to a general discontent among all classes of that country with our rule. I would describe them thus—first, our forcible destruction of native authority; next, our disturbance of the settlement of property; and thirdly, our tampering with the religion of the people. I believe that directly or indirectly, all the principal causes of popular discontent or popular disturbance will range under those three heads; and to those three heads I now wish to address myself. I will endeavour to do so without overpowering the subject with details and without referring to documents, except for authority, and I will also endeavour to compress my observations as much as possible without sacrificing clearness; but even then I shall have to trust to the generous forbearance of the House for the time I shall occupy. The House will, however, recollect that I am venturing to treat a theme of colossal proportions, that the issue at stake is of corresponding magnitude, and that upon the just appreciation by Parliament of the present state of India depends the greatness of this country.
Now, Sir, I will first address myself to the forcible destruction of Native authority in the East by our Government, and in this subject are involved some of the most important principles of Indian policy. The House must recollect that even at the present time there are at least 200 Native Indian princes; they still govern a population of at least 60,000,000 of inhabitants. With all these princes the English Government has treaties. These treaties differ in many particulars of detail; in some there are conditions for contingents, in others for tribute, in others, again, for the residence at the Native Court of a representative 449 of the English Government; but there is one feature of similarity throughout all these treaties—that is, an engagement on the part of the English Government with each Indian prince, that so long as the latter shall observe the conditions of the treaty, the English Government will secure to him and to his heirs for ever the throne upon which he sits. Now, Sir, about the year 1848 is what I fix as the date of the inauguration of the new system of Indian policy, which I shall show to be opposed to all the principles by which our empire was gained and established. Great wars had then terminated victoriously and triumphantly for this country. The struggles with new Powers that had sprung up—with ancient Powers that had threatened us—were closed. There was no fear of foreign assailants, and under those circumstances less regard for internal safeguards against discontents. But the condition of India, in a financial point of view, was by no means satisfactory. The House is so familiar with this part of the subject that I shall not dwell too closely upon details. The House is aware that the nature of Indian revenue is such that it admits of no expansion. The great bulk of the revenue is raised from the land; and, although we receive a considerable amount from the duties on opium and salt, yet the revenue from those sources in a great degree can only increase from increased consumption by an increased population. Affairs, however, had come to such a point, that it was absolutely necessary that the revenue of the East Indian Government should be enlarged. About this time accordingly appeared one of the most important State papers that ever was published relating to India: it was a Minute of Council referring to the decease of an Indian prince, and in which was laid down the principle, almost without disguise, that the future Indian policy would be, to increase the revenue of our dominions by increasing our dominions themselves; that, in short, the only mode by which an enlarged revenue could be obtained was, by enlarging our territories. A native Indian prince had died without natural heirs. The territories over which this prince had ruled were not of first-rate importance, although they were not inconsiderable; his revenues were not of great amount, yet they were not to be despised; he was a prince to whom the respect and interest of a powerful portion of the Indian races were directed. He was the chief of the great 450 Mahratta family. After the fall of the Mahratta empire, it had become a point of high policy with our Indian Government that from the ruins of that empire independent Mahratta States should be formed, and that the heads of that family should be placed upon the musnud, as a means of gratifying the feelings of the defeated Mahratta people, and of obtaining their sympathies for the new order of things. Such was the position of the Rajah of Sattara—a name probably unknown to many, but which at one time occasioned some interest in this House, and respecting whom many papers were laid upon this table. The death of the Rajah of Sattara was fixed upon as the incident by which our new Indian policy was to be inaugurated. The Rajah of Sattara, as I have already reminded the House, died without natural heirs, but the House must also remember that the Hindoo system is such, that a family can never become extinct. The law of adoption prevails in India, and has prevailed from the most ancient times, and is accompanied by the most solemn sanctions. The law of adoption is, in fact, the very corner stone of Hindoo society, and men who have no natural heirs adopt a son, as one of those matters of course which the great duties of life are ever considered. Indeed, according to the Hindoo religion, the deceased Hindoo in another world can look for no happiness unless certain duties are fulfilled and certain ceremonies performed by his heir in this; and therefore it is absolutely necessary that he should appoint an heir, in order to insure the fulfilment of those offices, and the performance of those rites. Hence, adoption in India is not only a civil right, but a religious privilege; the whole frame-work of Indian society is established upon that principle. The Rajah of Sattara, dying without natural heirs, had, before his death, selected an heir, who was nominated with all the solemn ceremonies peculiar to the occasion, whose adoption was notified to the British Resident, and published to the people by salvoes of artillery, and was received by them with perfect approbation. The Governor General of India, however, in pursuance of the vigorous and novel policy which he had determined to establish in India, took the decided step of abolishing the law of adoption; he did not recognize the individual who had been proclaimed to all India as the son and successor of the deceased prince: but, claiming the equivocal 451 right of suzerainty, as Lord paramount, he ordered his troops to enter the Raj, and the Raj of Sattara was absorbed into the dominions of the East India Company. This step was not taken without considerable difficulty. The Governor General of that day was a young man, energetic, but not versed in Indian affairs, for at that period he had only been a few months in the East. The most experienced Indian statesmen protested against his conduct, and warned him of its consequences. They knew it was not merely a question affecting a small territory, but that it was a policy which involved important principles of law and custom of general application. The Governor of Bombay, which Presidency is contiguous to the territory of the deceased Rajah, was at that time Sir George Clerk, now the Secretary of the Indian Board. I believe all will agree, however differing upon some points of policy, that Sir George Clerk has shown himself, in many instances, to be a consummate statesman in the affairs of India. He protested against that policy, and warned the Indian Government against its consequences. I have been told, on authority so high that I cannot doubt it, that, at the last extremity, he proposed that the annexation should be postponed till it could be subjected to the arbitration of the highest authority in Indian matters in this country, Mr. Mountstuart Elphinstone; but this proposal was rejected. I am bound to say that some of the Directors of the East India Company, on that occasion, evinced considerable prescience, and no mean ability. Unfortunately, there was a majority in favour of the new policy; but there remain on record the dissents of six members of the Court, men without exception of Indian experience, and, as their dissents show, men of ability, of thoughtful minds, and of practical wisdom. I have not those dissents by me, but I call to mind the names of such men as Mr. St. George Tucker, Mr. Melville, and Captain Shepherd. The protest of Captain Shepherd, which may be found in the Sattara papers, contains language which I recommend to the serious attention of the House, for they are words of wisdom that would have become any statesman of any country in the world. The annexation of Sattara was resolved and accomplished. Whatever may have been the passing murmurs, they were altogether disregarded; and from that moment, without ceasing, 452 the system of annexation was brought into play, or was attempted, in every instance in which a native prince died without natural heirs. The principle of adoption, which I have before said is the very corner stone of Indian society, was systematically set aside by the Government, and the opposite principle became the basis of a new policy. An hon. and learned Gentleman, who takes an interest in Indian affairs, moved some time ago for a Return of the annexations that have taken place between 1848 and 1856. I do not know whether that paper is in the hands of Members, but if it is, a brief glance will show that while some of the annexations have occurred by conquest—as to which I am now saying nothing—in the great majority of instances they have been the consequence of a want of natural heirs; as for example, Jeitpore in Bundelcund, Sumbulpore, Bughat, Oodepore, Jhansi, Boodawal. This return also gives us four instances of annexation proposed by the Governor General, but not yet sanctioned by the Court of Directors; as, for example, Kerowlee, Adyghur, Colapore, Tanjore. In every one of these instances our Government took a step which shook the confidence not merely of native princes, but, as I shall be able to show, the confidence also of a powerful party among the population of India. All the Rajahs who during that time died without natural heirs had dominions of greater or less extent and no inconsiderable revenues, and all of these were absorbed into the British empire. The final Minute of the late Governor General to which I have referred—the memorable document that was placed last year on the table of the House of Commons by the late Chairman of the East India Company—after enumerating some vast annexations to which I shall not now allude, contains a paragraph which is called "minor political events," and with the permission of the House I shall read from that paragraph a passage that will convey an impression of what has been going on in India much more vivid than could be given by mere spoken words. It says:—Early in 1848, the Rajah of Ungool, a petty chieftain in the Jungle Mehals, resisted the authority of the Government. His raj was taken from him, and he has since died in exile.The Rajah of Sikkim, a hill chieftain on the borders of Nepaul, in order to enforce certain claims which he alleged against the Government of India, had the audacity to seize the person of the political officer at Darjeeling, when travelling under the Rajah's safeguard within his dominions. 453 Military preparations were made; the Agent was released, and all the territories which the Rajah possessed within the plains were confiscated, and have been retained.In Scinde, Meer Ali Morad, of Khyrpore, was accused of having forged a clause in a treaty whereby he had wrongfully obtained possession of lands which of right belonged to the British Government. A full and fair investigation was made. The Ameer had every opportunity afforded to him of defending himself; but his guilt was proved beyond a doubt. The lands were taken from him, and his power and influence were reduced to insignificance.I mention these cases, which did not involve a violation of the law of adoption, to illustrate the system that was now pursued with such vigour in India by every means and on every pretext. I now call the attention of the House to 1854. There had been five or six years during which the Indian Government, commencing with Sattara, had dealt under this system with the territories of a dozen independent princes, chiefly on the plea that their territories had lapsed to the Indian Government for want of natural heirs, when in 1854 one of the most considerable of the native princes died—one who still sat on a royal throne—the Rajah of Berar. His was no ordinary case. He was a prince whose dominion extended over a territory of 80,000 square miles, with a population between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000—with land the richest in India, and highly cultivated—whose treasures were great, and who had been a faithful ally, for never had it been alleged that he had violated the conditions of any treaty. He died without natural heirs, and in pursuance of the new policy it was determined to annex his vast and wealthy country to our dominions. Our Resident at the Court protested against this annexation, and the Governor General was opposed in Council by the ablest of its members when he proposed it—among others, by General Lowe, whose name is known to many Members of this House. I have no personal acquaintance with him; I can only form my opinion of him from public report, and by reading that which shows the ability and integrity of the man—the Minutes made by him in Council. But I may say that he has always been considered as one of our first Indian statesmen. He is a man who has risen by his own energies and merits. He has passed fifty years as the representative of the Indian Government at various Courts of India—with Mahomedan Sultans, Hindoo Rajahs, and Mahratta Princes—and 454 he is supposed to be more familiar with the wants of India and the life of India than any other Indian statesman of the day. He was therefore, with great propriety, appointed a member of the Supreme Council. I will refer to the printed documents for his statements, for were I to give them without doing so, it might be supposed that in the heat of discussion they were exaggerated or coloured. The Governor General of India detailed the policy which he intended to pursue with respect to the Rajah of Berar in a Minute of Council: and I am bound to say that a public document exemplifying more acuteness and energy, was probably never penned since the bulletins of that great Emperor who was in the habit of annexing kingdoms to his immense empire. I do not wish to weary the House with more references than I can help; but I feel that we are only as yet in the antechamber of Indian discussion, and I think it right to draw particular attention to one passage for the future guidance of the House. In that Minute the Governor General says:—The incorporation of Nagpore" which is the popular name of Berar, "would give to us a territory which comprises 80,000 square miles, producing an annual revenue of forty lacs of rupees, and containing more than 4,000,000 of people, who have long desired to return to our rule.Mark what follows:—It would completely surround with British territory the dominions of his Highness the Nizam in a manner highly beneficial for the purposes of internal administration.The Nizam is the most powerful Mussulman Sultan in India, with a population of from 8,000,000 to 10,000,000 under his command, and territory of commensurate proportion. And, mind you, these Minutes bring you into the Supreme Council of Calcutta, which is the same as the Cabinet Council in this country, in so far as they indicate the policy that was in the minds of individuals. Let me now ask the House to listen to some expressions in the Minute of General Lowe, as recorded in these papers. It is of the greatest importance to have the opinion of a man of this class. We have a great variety of opinions upon Indian policy in this House; it is easy to say that one man is a tool of the Directors, and that another is a wild Indian reformer, yet all will agree when we get the opinions of a mature and experienced intellect among Indian statesmen, delivered confidentially, that it is above all price. What says General Lowe? After 455 raising a great many objections in twenty-two paragraphs, he makes this confession:—In my conversations with Natives, when I was in Rajpootana, there never was any unpleasant remark made to me respecting the annexation of the Punjab. Some said Duleep Sing was an unlucky youth in having such bad counsellors; but no one ever said that the British Government acted with injustice in annexing that territory to its own; they seemed perfectly to understand that an invasion of our territory entitled us, according to the ordinary course of human affairs, both to repel the invaders and to seize their country.But every person who mentioned the subject to me, and there were numerous persons who did so, held totally different language in regard to the annexation of Sattara. They did not make use of many words on such occasions; my own situation, being one of authority over them, placed them under great restraint in that respect, but what they did say, and their manner of saying it, showed me very clearly that they thought it a case of might against right, and all expressed an earnest hope, evidently accompanied by some dread in their minds to the contrary, that a kind Providence would save the Rajpoot families from such disgrace and disaster.When I went to Malwa, in 1850, where I met many old acquaintances whom I had known when I was a very young man, and over whom I had no authority in 1850, I found those old acquaintances speak out much more distinctly as to their opinion of the Sattara case; so much so, that I was on several occasions obliged to check them.It is remarkable that every Native who ever spoke to me respecting the annexation of Sattara asked precisely the same question—namely, 'What crime did the late Rajah commit that his country should be seized by the Company?' Thus clearly indicating their notions, that if any crime had been committed our act would have been justifiable, and not otherwise.The House must not for a moment suppose that General Lowe is a man overconfident in his own opinions, or of a temper which listens with impatience to the suggestions of others. On the contrary, it is clear, from the tone of these Minutes, that, if he has a fault, it is that of too easily yielding up his own convictions to the predominant practice of the moment. These Minutes are full of evidence that it was with the greatest pain, and with the utmost desire to avoid the irksome duty, that he felt it necessary to come forward and oppose this policy. They are full of expressions of admiration and devotion to the Governor General. But invariably as the proceedings advance you find that General Lowe gives up the struggle in despair. I will just read a line from his Minutes to show that I have not misrepresented him in this respect:—After a very careful perusal of the Most Noble the Governor General's Minute on this important 456 subject, and of the various papers circulated along with that document, it is with feelings of sincere regret that I find it quite out of my power to arrive at the same conclusion as his Lordship has done respecting the course which the British Government ought now to pursue towards the Nagpore State; and I can truly add that I write this Minute with much reluctance, for it vexes me that it should be my duty to express on an important subject sentiments which are opposed to those of a statesman whose great talents, whose eminent public services, and whose whole character I view with genuine admiration and respectAnd he adds—There is also another cause for my disinclination to write this Minute, which I may as well confess at once—namely, that I feel completely convinced that, practically speaking, it will have no effect whatsoever on the majority of the public functionaries in London who will have to consider and to decide this question.Allow me to say before proceeding further, that the East India Directors are not entirely open to the character given them by General Lowe, because I have shown you that there was a minority in the Court which resisted the first of those great measures, the annexation of Sattara, and there are papers on the table respecting the proposed annexation of the Raj of Kerowlee, which show that the Raj was not annexed to our dominions—the case being too flagrant—entirely through the interference of the East India Directors. But, to proceed with the great case of Berar. The House will have already gathered that the Raj of Berar, with its 80,000 square miles, its population of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000, and its treasures, was seized, notwithstanding the protest of General Lowe. The troops of the British Government were ordered into the territory, the furniture and jewels of the Queen were seized. It was understood that the Queen had a private treasure of her own to the amount of 18,000,000 of rupees—about £900,000—it was proved that it was entirely her own private property, having belonged to the Queen-mother, a woman of great abilities, who had once been regent of the kingdom, yet it was seized, and by the British Government. The Raj of Nagpore was annexed; it is one of the four kingdoms which we are told with so much pride and self-complacency in the Minute of 1856 have been added to the Crown of England.
Now, Sir, I must pause here for a moment on the subject of annexation. I want to touch upon the second division of the subject. I want to show you how the settlement of property in India has been 457 disturbed by the new system of Government during the last ten years. This portion of the subject is intimately connected with that part to which I have already adverted, and the House will see in a few moments why I have stopped at the year 1854 on the subject of annexation. Remember, the principle of the law of adoption is not solely the prerogative of princes and principalities in India; it applies to every man in Hindostan who has landed property and who professes the Hindoo religion. The great feudatory, or jaghedar, who holds his lands by public service to his lord; and the enamdar, who holds his land free of all tax, who corresponds, if not precisely, in a popular sense at least, with our freeholder—both of these classes—classes most numerous in India—always, on the failure of their natural heirs, find in this principle the means of obtaining successors to their estates. Those classes were all touched by the annexation of Sattara. They were touched by the annexation of the territories of the ten inferior but independent princes to whom I have already alluded, and they were more than touched, they were terrified to the last degree, when the annexation of the Raj of Berar took place. What man was safe? What feudatory, what freeholder who had not a child of his own loins was safe throughout India? These were not idle fears; they were extensively acted upon und reduced to practice. The resumption of jagheers and of enams commenced for the first time in India. There have been, no doubt, in former times, impolitic moments when attempts have been made to inquire into titles, but no one had ever dreamt of attacking the law of adoption; therefore no authority, no Government had ever been in a position to resume jagheers and enams, the holders of which had left no natural heirs. Here was a new source of revenue. But while all these things were acting upon the minds of these classes of Hindoos, the Government took another step to disturb the settlement of property, to which I must now call the attention of the House. The House is aware, no doubt, from reading the evidence taken before the Committee of 1853, that there are great portions of the land of India which are free from land-tax. Being free from land-tax in India is far more than equivalent to freedom from the land-tax in this country, for, speaking generally and popularly, the land-tax in India is the whole taxation of the State; and it is not a light impost, 458 therefore, by any means. There are large portions of the land in India which enjoy this freedom. The origin of the grants under which these lands are held is difficult to penetrate, but some are undoubtedly of great antiquity. They are of different kinds. Besides the private freeholds, which are very extensive, there are large grants of land free from the land-tax, with which mosques and temples have been endowed. One of the greatest sources of our success in India in old days was that whenever a tyrant, a Mussulman chief, seized and confiscated their lands and we were appealed to by the native holders, we came in as vindicators of public right, and we invariably guaranteed the security of property, as in the case of the jagheers and enams. Once, indeed, a Governor General, under the pressure of distress in the public revenue, was so ill advised as to question these titles. Our power was then supposed, so far as Bengal was concerned, to be consolidated. The Governor General of that day was advised to institute an inquisition into those titles. It was alleged that there were fraudulent claims of exemption. There are fraudulent titles in England, and, no doubt, in India, the scene of so many revolutions and conquests, there may have been claims fictitiously supported. But the House will recognize at once the wisdom which would prevent a Government at any time entering upon the dangerous ground of an examination into the titles of landed estates. Even in England the process, if carried on, would produce revolution as the menace of it once did. Any person, for instance, in possession of church lands or of a Royal manor, who could not prove that the land was rightfully acquired by the persons from whom he inherited or purchased it, might have his whole property confiscated. Thirty years ago this system was tried in Bengal, and after some experience the discontent was found so great that it was first partially and soon after entirely dropped. But under the new system established in India this plan of investigating titles was at once embraced, as a proof of a powerful Government, a vigorous Executive, and most fruitful source of public revenue. Therefore, Commissions were issued to inquire into titles to landed estates in the Presidency of Bengal and adjoining territory. They were also issued in the Presidency of Bombay, and surveys were also ordered to be made in the newly-settled 459 or North-Western provinces, in order that these Commissions might be conducted, when the surveys were completed, with due efficiency. Now, there is no doubt that during the last nine years the action of these Commissions of Inquiry into the freehold property of India has been going on at an enormous rate, and immense results have been obtained. Of course, it is excessively difficult to arrive at very precise calculations on such matters, clouded in a mystery which can only be penetrated by an authorised investigation; but from information placed before me, and which I would not offer to the House unless I had confidence in it myself, I am induced to believe the amount obtained by the Government of India in this manner—that is, by the resumption of estates from their proprietors—is not less in the Presidency of Bengal alone than £500,000 a year. Conceive what a capital is represented by such an annual revenue! Conceive the thousands and tens of thousands of estates that must have been resumed by the Government from the proprietors to obtain such a result! This is in Bengal alone; but a Commission has also been issued in the Presidency of Bombay, and has been hard at work there. I have been informed—and I would not mention the results unless I had a profound conviction that they are strictly true—that the amount of freehold land resumed by the Government of Bombay is not less than £370,000 a year. The Presidency of Madras remains, of which I know nothing. The North-Western Provinces, mapped out and surveyed, would probably, but for the recent revolt, have been subjected to the same process. I ask the House for a moment to pause and consider what a revolution in property has been going on under the new system in India, when a sum exceeding two-thirds of a million of pounds sterling per annum has been obtained by the Government as rental of land absolutely taken from individual proprietors. The House will see, as far as I can place before it the salient points of the question, how the system has worked. Hon. Members see that the law of adoption has been abolished, a law not affecting kingdoms and principalities merely, but the tenure of land in the whole or greater part of Hindostan. The law of adoption is limited to the Hindoos; but the House will understand that, so far us the resumption of estates is concerned, since all may be required to prove 460 their title, the sense of injury thereby created affects all classes of the population and all races. But there is another source of revenue, which during the last few years recourse has been had to, and with respect to which the results, as regards the opinions and sentiments of the population, are not less important. The House will understand that when we gradually obtained absolute predominance over the great kingdoms of India we often left a nominal authority—the pomp and pageant of power—to the Native Princes, to whom and to their heirs and chief dependents, the Government accorded pensions. They were perpetual pensions. For instance, the Nabob of Arcot, when he ceded the Carnatic, was guaranteed a considerable pension, and this revenue was enjoyed for several generations. I mention this as an illustrative case. Not only the descendants of the chief, but the Ministers and great personages all had pensions, which were placed on the Government list of India. Now, under the new system these pensions have been discontinued, and are to be considered as annuities only. The House will see that this conversion of hereditary pensions into personal annuities is confiscation by a new means, but on a most extensive, startling, and shocking scale, because the descendants of those ancient Royal Families and nobles find themselves by this new rule reduced to a state of the utmost humiliation, and the people see their ancient Sovereigns, whose deposition from political power they might for many reasons feel a loss, reduced almost to absolute beggary. Take the case of the descendant of that very great chief the Nabob of Arcot, who was allowed a pension of £4,000 a year. [An hon. MEMBER: £40,000!] Well, then, that makes the case much worse. Possibly both statements may be right, because what I speak of may be a portion inherited by one of his descendants. The son, of course, counted on that revenue; but he was alarmed when he heard that the revenue, if he got it, was to be considered an annuity. Even this, however, it was at once announced that he must forego; and I am assured by one who I think cannot be mistaken, that this Prince has received, under the name of charity, from the Indian Government a sum in rupees which amounts in pounds sterling to £150. Conceive £150 being offered to a man who had a right to receive, according to what we have just heard, £40,000 461 a year! Let me read upon this subject a passage from that Minute which is the keystone of the new Indian system. The forty-third section of the Minute is in these words:—During the last autumn the Nawab of the Carnatic very suddenly died. As the treaty by which the Musnud of the Carnatic was conferred on his Highness's predecessor was exclusively a personal one; as the Nawab had left no male heir, and as both he and his family had disreputably abused the dignity of their position and the large share of public revenue which had been allotted to them; the Court of Directors has been advised to place the title of Nawab in abeyance, granting fitting pensions to the several members of the Carnatic family.Very shortly after the death of the Nawab of the Carnatic the Rajah of Tanjore deceased. He left no son and no male heir, direct or indirect, who bore his name. The Honourable Court was therefore advised to resume the large stipend which the Rajah had enjoyed, as a lapse to the Government, pensions being granted to the members of the family, as in all similar cases.The House will see, therefore, with reference to the second point, how far the Government have disturbed the settlement of property by their conduct with regard to the resumption of lands, by abolishing the principle of adoption, and by changing into annuities those pensions on condition of paying which we became lords of the sovereignties. That, then, I say, is the second great cause which has produced general discontent throughout India, and has estranged numerous and powerful classes from that authority which I think on the whole they were disposed to regard with deference.
Sir, I have now to approach the third point—that of tampering with the religion of the people of India. This, I am aware, is one of those subjects which are called difficult and delicate; but, in my opinion, no subject is difficult or delicate when the existence of an empire is at stake, and I shall therefore address myself to this point without any undue reserve. I know that a great prejudice has been raised in this country against missionary enterprise in India, and if I could ascribe to missionary enterprise in that country any share in the production of those vast calamities which we are now considering, nothing should induce me to shrink from avowing my opinion. When, however, we hear of missionary enterprise in India being the source and origin of these disasters and troubles, I cannot but remember that missionary enterprise is no new feature in India. At a period antecedent to 462 the existence of our empire there were active Christian missions in India. Roman Catholic missions existed, I believe, before the successes achieved by Clive, and although our own missions are of much more modern date, their greatest efforts—their most energetic exertions—have been co-existent with general satisfaction and peace among all classes in India, and with a vigorous and successful policy on the part of the Government. With these facts before me, then, I must hesitate before I attribute to missionary interference any of those calamities and dangers which we are now considering. The House will pardon me for making these observations. When the country is in danger we are very happy to seize the first plausible reason which may account for that danger; but the great object of the debate I wish to induce the House to enter upon is to arrive at sound and safe conclusions as to the causes of the calamitous events which have occurred. I think very great error exists as to the assumed prejudices of Hindoos with regard to what is called missionary enterprise. The fact is that the Hindoos, and the Indian population generally, with the exception of the Mussulmans, are educated in a manner which peculiarly disposes them to theological inquiry. There are no people who take such interest in religious discussions as the Hindoos, to the understanding of which their minds are perfectly disciplined. They are a most ancient race; they have a mass of traditions on these subjects; a complete Indian education is in a great degree religious; their laws, their tenure of land, depend upon religion; and there is no race in the world better armed at all points for theological discussion than they are. Add to this that they can always fall back upon an educated priesthood, prepared to supply them with arguments and illustrations when they require such assistance. So far from the Hindoo looking with suspicion upon the missionaries, I am convinced, from what I have read and heard, that the Hindoo is at all times ready to discuss theological questions with the missionary. I remember reading years ago a history of the Roman Catholic mission in India, written by an abbé—I think the Abbé Dubois—a man of admirable piety, great knowledge, and immaculate character, who, I believe, had spent the whole of his life in India; and no man who has read that impartial and able work can suppose for a moment that missionary enterprise, whether conducted by Roman Catholics, Protestants, 463 or any denomination of Christians, would ever cause any serious dissension between the Hindoo population and the Government of the country. But what the Hindoo does dread—what he regards with the utmost jealousy—what he looks upon with undying apprehension—is the union of missionary enterprise with the political power of the Government. With that power he associates only one idea—violence; he remembers the missionary enterprise of the Mussulmans; the Koran in one hand and the scimitar in the other; and, although he is perfectly ready to live upon the best terms with the missionary pure and simple, and to enter into interminable theological arguments with him, the moment he suspects the missionary is sanctioned by the Government—that authority anticipates conversion—the most sensitive feelings of the Hindoos are outraged. No taxation however grievous, no injustice however glaring, acts so dangerously on the Hindoo character as the persuasion that the authority of the Crown is exercised to induce him to abandon the religion of his forefathers. Now, have the Government of India lent a sanction to that suspicion of the Hindoos? Have the Government taken a course which has led the mass of the people to believe that there was ground for such a suspicion? This is a most important inquiry, and it is one to which the House ought to address itself. I must say, after examining the subject, I am sure with impartiality, that it appears to me that the Legislative Council of India have, under the new system, been constantly nibbling at the religious system of the natives. I do not say that the establishment of a great system of national education—which, if it had been kept free from any taint of this description, would have been of the utmost advantage to India—has been converted into an obvious and open instrument of proselytism. I do not say that in establishing a national system of education for the Hindoos you have gone ostentatiously into their schools with the Sacred Scriptures; but I am very much misinformed if the Sacred Scriptures have not suddenly appeared in those schools; and you cannot persuade the Hindoos that they have appeared there without the concurrence or the secret sanction of the Government. I think also that the establishment of what is called in the Minute "a system of female education in India" was a very unwise step on the part of the authorities. After all their 464 efforts they seem to have collected some fifty Indian ladies in an establishment, and I cannot but regard it as a dangerous measure—considering the peculiar ideas entertained by Hindoos with regard to women—that these fifty Gentoo ladies should lave been placed in an institution where they were under the guidance and instruction of men. I think that a circumstance calculated to alarm and disturb the Hindoo mind. There were, however, other acts on the part of the Government, which I regard as much more reprehensible, and which, as I shall show, have produced very evil consequences. There are two Acts which have passed the Legislative Council of India within the last few years, and which have amazingly disturbed the religious mind of Hindostan. The first was the law which enacted that no man should be deprived of his inheritance on account of a change of religion. That has occasioned great alarm in India. The House must understand that property is inherited in India by men as trustees for sacred purposes, and if a man does not lose his property who has changed his religion some of the principal ends and duties of that inheritance cannot be fulfilled. That is a change in the law which has created much alarm and suspicion. But there is also another law, which has, if possible, more alarmed the feelings of the Hindoos, and that is, the permission to a Hindoo widow to marry a second husband. What could have induced the Governor General of India to pass such a law it is, at this moment, difficult to conceive. If there had been any great feeling on the subject among the Hindoo community, one could have comprehended the reason; but, as I am informed, no man or woman among them ever expressed any desire in favour of a change which is looked upon by all as an outrage on their faith. These two laws have, to my mind, more than any other cause, disquieted the religious feelings of the Hindoos, and prepared their minds for recent lamentable events. Even very lately I heard that the Governor of Bengal had forbidden the ancient procession, sacred both to Mahomedans and Hindoos, from being solemnized. That was not a wise step. Look, also, at sections 46, 47, and 48, of the final Minute of the late Governor General. What do we find there? Two incidents are there described as "remarkably signalizing the period." The adoption of the Christian faith by Maharaja Duleep Sing, the last of the 465 rulers of the Punjab, then quite a lad, and the baptism of the daughter of the ex-Rajah of Coorg, to whom Her Majesty Queen Victoria officiated as godmother. These incidents are ostentatiously brought forward by His Excellency, and I am informed that these sections of this Minute have been translated and circulated in every bazaar of the Presidency, as evidence of the intentions of the Government, hostile to the national creeds. All this is policy highly dangerous, tampering as it does with the religion of the population. But what has been the consequence of the conduct of the Legislative Council to which I have alluded? There has been established in Calcutta a native society imitating our societies for propagating the Gospel. The moment it was believed that the missionaries were patronized by the Government—the moment it was widely circulated that the missionaries were the emissaries of the British Government, it was deemed necessary to take steps to counteract the effect of their conduct; and some years ago, but still within the period within which I am generally confining my remarks, a society called the Devnah Sobah was set on foot to maintain the ancient faith of the country, and to protect it from the assaults of the Government; and that society was organized on a scale of great and increasing extent. It has had its agents throughout Bengal and the north-western provinces generally, and has since extended them to more distant parts. But here was an organization—some of its agents I am told have even reached this country—which, in the moment of trouble and political disaster would not be idle, acting, as they believed, in the most sacred cause of their religion.
I have now endeavoured to show to the House under the three heads to which I first adverted—namely, the forcible destruction of native authority in India, the disturbance of the settlement of property in India, and the tampering with the religion of India—that there have been causes at work during the last ten years which have naturally and necessarily occasioned great discontent and disquietude among powerful classes in that country; and, taking into consideration the state of affairs in India, and the state of the public mind in India shortly after the annexation of Berar, I think we shall see that the whole of the Native princes were alarmed by our policy, and that though those who were most aggrieved were the 466 Hindoo Rajahs, still there can be no doubt that the Mahomedan princes and populalation could not have looked at this policy without considerable distrust. I have shown that even so far as the tenure of land is concerned, irrespective of the principle of adoption, the Hindoo and the Mahomedan princes and population were equally affected; I have shown that a powerful society to defend the religion of the country was in active operation; and under these circumstances, I think the House will see that it is no exaggeration to assume that about 1854 and 1855 the temper of India was one of peril, and one which ought to have occasioned disquietude to the Government of that country.
It was under these circumstances—it was with the great body of the princes alarmed and the most powerful classes of the proprietors smarting under grievances—it was even in the midst of usurpation and confiscation, added to religious terror first touching the great mass of the working population, that an event occurred in India to the consequences of which I am now going to solicit your attention for a few moments. And that is the annexation of Oude, the effect of which, as I shall show, was of a peculiar and, as regards public opinion, if I may use the expression, of a generalizing character. Now, I am not going to-night at all into the merits of the Oude case. It is a subject which of course requires and will receive due attention when it shall come specially under the consideration of the House; but it would now demand too much time for me to enter into or even allude to the merits of it. I desire only to state a few facts. I must remind the House, that in the case of Oude the principle of adoption was not involved, for the ruler of Oude was a Mahomedan prince, and still is. The annexation of Oude did not take place in consequence of the alleged infraction of any treaty by the sovereign of Oude. It has never for a moment been pretended, that there has been any such infraction. On the contrary, not only the late, but the preceding and all other sovereigns of Oude have been our faithful and even affectionate allies. It is a fact, that no one can deny, that at the time of our greatest disaster in India, when our army was destroyed in Afghanistan, and when alarm with respect to the sentiments of the Native princes in some quarters was felt, so great was our confidence in the Sovereign 467 of Oude that we denuded the contiguous province to his kingdom of all the forces we had there, and he not only sent us his war elephants, but even £400,000 sterling. If I touch upon those points, it is only that no false assumption should be raised from my silence. We shall be told, no doubt, that the condition of his country was not satisfactory, or that his character was not irreproachable. I shall not enter into these questions. But, whatever may have been thought of his conduct, no right can be founded on that for dethroning him; for by the treaty we had with him the very matter of individual incompetency or misconduct had been anticipated and provided for. And there was another reason why the Government of India ought to have looked with indulgence on the personal conduct of the late Sovereign of Oude; because the Government of India changed the line of succession in Oude, and placed the father of the late King on the throne instead of the prince, who by custom and by law ought to have succeeded. Of that prince I have some knowledge by the information I received some years ago from men most competent to speak of him. He lives in a distant eastern city upon a pension allotted to him by the Indian Government, and he was commended to me long before the question of Oude interested public attention as a man of spotless character, enlightened and amiable, and more competent, perhaps, to become a benevolent and judicious prince than, perhaps, any other that ever existed in the East. This, I think, is a circumstance which ought to be remembered when the deposition of the Sovereign of Oude comes fairly to be considered. However, the moment the throne of Oude was declared vacant, the English troops poured in; the Royal treasury was ransacked, and the furniture and jewels of the King and his wives were seized. From that instant the Mahomedan princes were all alienated. For the first time the Mahomedan princes felt that they had an identity of interest with the Hindoo Rajahs. From that moment they threw aside the sullen pride of former conquerors who would not condescend to sympathize with the victims of Sattara. They saw that from a system founded upon a violation of Hindoo law they were not to be exempted. The moment that the throne of Oude, occupied by its King, was declared vacant, and English troops were poured into his territory, the Mahomedan princes understood 468 what would be their future fate. You see how the plot thickens. You have the whole of the Indian princes—men of different races and different religions—men between whom there were traditionary feuds and long and enduring prejudices, with all the elements to produce segregation—become united—Hindoos, Mahrattas, Mahomedans—secretly feeling a common interest and a common cause. Not only the princes but the proprietors are against you. Estates as well as musnuds are in danger. You have an active society spread all over India, alarming the ryot, the peasant, respecting his religious faith. Never mind on this head what were your intentions; the question is, what were their thoughts—what their inferences? But the annexation of Oude brought more than all this. Although you had alienated from you the hearts of princes and proprietors—although you had poisoned the former affection and veneration of the peasantry—there was a class in India which, if you had allowed it to remain faithful, might have enabled even the new system to have triumphed. It turned out that the great proportion of the Bengal army were subjects of the King of Oude. I have been told, on such high authority that I venture to make the statement in this House—although I heard it first with, I hope, some allowable scepticism—that there were not less than 70,000 men from Oude in our Indian armies and contingents. They were recruited from the villages; in some instances they were proprietors, in many more they were the sons of proprietors. They entered the service of the British Government. They looked forward, when their period of service terminated, to retire to their native villages with their pensions, and with the high privileges which, if not formally legal, they no less by custom effectually enjoyed. If an Oude subject, a soldier of the Company, were injured, and the authorities gave him no redress, he had a right to appeal to the British Resident. Here was a favoured class in Oude. Here was an imperium in imperio. I am not vaunting it. I am not praising it. I am stating facts. It is the existing situation which acts on the opinions of the man, and the opinions of the man produce the events. What is his position now? The Oude Sepoy finds that he has no village to return to, where he is to live the favoured subject of his native Sovereign. If he is injured, he must appeal to the Company, and be treated as 469 all other subjects of the Company on the broad plains of Bengal. He goes back to his estate, or to the head of his family, his brother or father who holds it. This estate may be small, but it is as dear to him as the tenure of a Kentish yeoman. They have cultivated that estate, and they have paid to their native Sovereign the taxes claimed from them in kind. We know very well how taxes in kind are paid in Eastern countries. Sometimes they pay more than they ought, sometimes less, but when there is a bad season, though living under a despot, practically they defy despotism, and do not pay taxes at all. But the Oude Sepoy returns now to his village, and finds it belongs to the Company, and that the rigid revenue system of India is applied to his small property. I wish to enter into no controversy now as to the revenue system of the East India Company. Abstractedly a fixed payment, enforced under all circumstances, is infinitely superior to payment under Eastern systems; but it is practically superior only when the circumstances are such as to make a fixed payment more advantageous than trusting a great deal to the prince or proprietor. The Oude Sepoy finds himself subjected to a hard and novel system of taxation and revenue. He finds he has lost political privileges and his territorial position; and, for the first time, the great body of the Bengal army is disaffected. How does that act? With the princes, the proprietors, and the religious classes, all for a long time distrustful and disaffected: the opportunity occurs, and the only class which can keep them in order is angry and discontented. Hon. Gentlemen opposite will tell you that I have no evidence that there was any combination among these classes. It is a "sudden impulse," says the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He may as well have told you that the income-tax was a sudden impulse. The annexation of Oude took place in 1856. This is only the middle of 1857. Is it true that in the interval there has been no evidence of combination and conspiracy in India? There may have been evidence which the Government has not understood. There may have been symbols which perplexed them. There may have been conduct, the motives of which they could not penetrate. But, that there is no evidence of combination for the last twelve months, especially in Bengal, seems to me a position which cannot for a moment be maintained. The House has heard 470 of the circulation of the mysterious cakes in India—or, if not, allow me to tell them what has taken place, and was taking place in India many months ago. This took place. A messenger comes to the headman of a village, and brings him six pancakes—chupatties, such as the Natives make of wheaten flour—and he says, "These six pancakes are sent to you; distribute them among as many villages, and make six others, and send them on with the same message to another headman." The headman obeys, accepts the six cakes, makes six others, and sends them on to the headman of the next village with the same message. How did it begin? It is a mystery. If we knew the village whence the pancakes were first circulated, we might get very valuable information; but all we know is, that, in the course of four or five months, the whole of Bengal, and the greater part of the contiguous country, have been subjected to this process of messengers going from village to village, from headman to headman, from police-station to police-station, leaving six pancakes, with no other order than that they should be circulated, and six other pancakes should be made and forwarded. I ask the House this:—Suppose the Emperor of Russia, whose territory in extent and character has more resemblance to our Eastern possessions than the territory of any other Power,—suppose the Emperor of Russia were told, "Sire, there is a very remarkable circumstance going on in your territories; from village to village men are passing who leave a pot of caviare, with a message to some one to perform the same office among their neighbours. Strange to say, this has been going on in some 10,000 villages, and we cannot make head or tail of it." I think the Emperor of Russia would say, "I do not know whether you can make head or tail of it, but I am quite sure there is something wrong, and we must take some precautions; because, where the people are not usually indiscreet and troublesome, they do not make a secret communication unless it is opposed to the Government. This is a secret communication, and therefore a communication dangerous to the Government." This sending of cakes went on. I do not say that the Government could penetrate the secret; I do not now find fault with them because they did not find it out.—What I want now to show is—that there were outward and visible signs of confederacy. 471 There was also an indication of conspiracy among the military, which must have been known to the Indian Government. I allude to the circumstance of the lotus flower. A man came with a lotus flower, and gave it to the chief soldier of a regiment. It was circulated from hand to hand in the regiment, and every man who took it looked at it and passed it on, saying nothing. We must understand that every man who passed it on was acquainted with the plot. When it came, to the last soldier of the regiment he disappeared and took it to the next station. The process was gone through in every regiment in Bengal. There was not a regiment, not a station, not an escort, among which the lotus flower has not in this way been circulated. All these things took place after the annexation of Oude, and then the Sepoys were drawn into the vortex of that conspiracy which had been long secretly forming. An hon. Gentleman reminds me that last year the Bengal regiments refused their furloughs. That was certainly significant. I ventured to say that I would show a state of society in India which proved the existence of general discontent, and, difficult as it might be to prove conspiracy, that I would offer to the House facts and circumstances sufficient to convince them that there was conspiracy. I think I have said enough to induce the House to pause before they form too precipitate an opinion upon the causes of the disasters in India. I think I have said enough to make the House at least feel that it is not by saying that we have to deal with a mere military mutiny that we shall save India. But, I said, and I think I have shown, that the condition of things was this—that the people of India were only waiting for an occasion and a pretext. That occasion was soon furnished, and that pretext was soon devised.
Turning for a moment to the last Indian papers—those relating to European troops—I find there an observation by Lord Canning which I think worthy the attention of the House. There is not much in these papers; but here is something to which I ought to refer. In a despatch dated the 7th of February, 1857, the Governor General takes, I think, a rational view of his position and of the condition of the Indian empire. He shows the dangers that may arise; but he remarks, "Peace has been restored in Europe, it is true, and with its return the disquietude which even a distant war had raised in the 472 minds of the Native population in some parts of India has passed away." There is no doubt that the war between England and Russia occasioned disquietude in India. It is the character of eastern nations, and especially of the Indian populations, many of which are extremely warlike, to sympathize with war, and the moment they hear that there is a great struggle in Europe, such as that which took place a considerable time ago between England and France, or that which recently occurred between England and Russia, we find that their minds are agitated. The mind of India was disquieted at a time when there were causes of domestic disquietude also occurring; but no doubt the somewhat sudden termination of the war between England and Russia gave us a good opportunity of which to avail ourselves, in order to prevent the evils which threatened our Indian empire. It is impossible to believe that our Indian Government could have been ignorant of the state of the Bengal army. I cannot suppose that the strange expression which I have quoted from the Minute of the late Governor General as to the state of the Bengal army could have been anything but a political ruse, if I may use the expression; and if he avoided treating in detail of a subject which he knew was pregnant with so much danger, perhaps he considered—as I believe it is the habit to consider in India—that, although the Bengal army had been for years in a state of what may be called chronic insubordination, there was nothing in its condition tending to precipitate the revolutionary movements that have now occurred—for it was not known that they were in a long-prepared conspiracy with the other classes. But I ask the House what, in such a state of affairs, was the duty of the Indian Government, and of the Home Government? When they found what really was the state of the Indian army, what ought they to have done in order to preserve our empire? Unquestionably it was the duty of the Indian Government to have most solemnly impressed upon the Government at home that the time had come when they ought most seriously to consider the state of our Indian army and the means which should be adopted, in the event of an outbreak, to defend and preserve our empire. Who can doubt that such representations were made to the Government at home? It is almost trifling with the patience of assemblies like the two Houses of Parliament to be told by Ministers, 473 when these grave events are occurring in India, that they had been taken completely by surprise, and that twenty four hours before they had no idea of their possible occurrence. I cannot but believe that there are representations not only from Lord Canning, but from Lord Dalhousie—not only from poor General Anson, to whose probable despatch or Minute I have referred in my notice of Motion, but from other persons in authority—that must have brought the state of India before the Government at home. We can understand that, however cognizant either the Government in India or the Government in England were of the dangers impending in the death-struggle with the Russian empire, it was totally impossible to attempt to remove them. It was one of those conjunctures in which statesmen have a right to say, "Great as the stake is, and bad as our chances are, still for a long time we have lived upon chances in India, and in the midst of the efforts we are making in Europe we cannot give our minds or devote our means to a danger so distant." But I cannot understand why our Ministers, with the information which they must have had—because if they had not that information they only prove that there is no use for Ministers either in India or in England—the moment the Treaty of Paris was signed, did not regard it as their first duty to give all their energies and thoughts and devote all their resources to the settlement of India. Plainly, the first policy should have been one of profound peace—a policy suggested by the disquietude which had been occasioned, according to Lord Canning himself, by the war between England and Russia. What was the course pursued? Was it, as regarded India, of a sedative and tranquillizing character? Did we calm the population and at the same time inquire into their grievances and attempt to baffle their manœuvres and conspiracies? Why, Sir, the fact is, the people of India, who for long years, as I have endeavoured to show to-night, and I think not unsuccessfully, had been preparing for an outbreak, found that as soon as the struggle in Europe had ceased, Asia was made the scene of war, and that, too, not in one quarter only and with one nation. The Mahomedans had not previously sympathized cordially with the Hindoos. But what do you do? The most powerful class of Mahomedans in India—the Shiites— 474 hear that you are going to make war upon an Oriental monarch, and that monarch him whom they regard as the head of their religion. There was nothing in that intelligence which tended to remove the disaffection of that class of the Indian population, and before they had recovered from it, they found there was war with China, and troops are sent from India to carry it on. The condition of India in 1856 has been shown to you by Lord Canning, in what may be called a wail of lamentation over the state of our Indian empire and the paucity of troops at his disposal. Nevertheless, at that very period troops were sent to Persia and promised to China, and the Madras army, feeble as it is, was told that it must garrison Pegu. At the time when it was the policy of England to soothe and tranquillize India, and to remedy the grievances occasioned by rash government, our Ministers had the hardihood to light the torch of war in every direction throughout the East. I am told that only 5,000 men were sent away, and 5,000 are coming back. The occasion which the discontented people of India were looking for, offered the moment they heard of these detachments of troops being sent to Persia and China; then they determined to take the terrible step we are discussing to-night. Do you think that the nations of India count your troops upon their fingers? They know that your troops are going away; they hope that you may have to send more; and, deciding broadly upon these facts, they do not inquire how many are going or how many are coming back; it is sufficient for them to know that you have war in Persia and in China, and that your European troops are gradually leaving the great Peninsula. That being the state of the case, the time being ripe, the occasion being offered—offered by the Government of England—a pretext only was wanted; and a pretext was soon found—your cartridges, greased in a manner to outrage their religious belief—men lost their caste by serving the Power which they had so long obeyed. I will not go into the question as to whether the cartridges complained of, are the same as have always been used, as we have been told is the case. I do not suppose any one will, after this discussion, suppose that, because the cartridges were believed to be, or were pretended to be believed to be, greased with pig's fat or cow's fat, that that was the cause of this insurrection. I hope, at least, that the rising generation 475 in Parliamentary life, who are now entering upon their career amid occurrences which will furnish ample materials for long discussions during many years in this House—will not too hastily accept such a superficial explanation. The decline and fall of empires are not affairs of greased cartridges. Such results are occasioned by adequate causes, and by an accumulation of adequate causes.
I have now, Sir, endeavoured—imperfectly, I am aware—to sketch the causes which I believe to have led to the present condition of our Indian empire. I have omitted many things, and many of importance, from an effort to avoid overloading the subject with details, and I know I have subjected myself thereby to many observations in reply, which I might have avoided, had it not been for an anxious apprehension of trespassing too long upon the attention of the House. But I hope, at least, I have conveyed to the House with clearness the general positions I wish to establish, by which I do not seek to gain any fleeting party triumph, but that, after well and deeply considering and properly discussing this subject, we may arrive at some safe conclusion for our future guidance.
And now, Sir, I will turn to the second branch of my observations, and they will be much briefer than those to which the House has already listened with so much patience. Assuming, Sir, for a moment, that the general views which I have attempted to convey to the House are founded in truth, I have now to inquire what are the becoming means which the Government ought to adopt to meet the emergency with which we have to contend. In a certain sense and to a certain degree, there can, of course, be no controversy among us, because we are all agreed that in the present state of affairs the employment of force is the first and most necessary step. But the degree in which that force should be employed, and the manner of its employment, greatly depend on the views which the Government and the House may take of the cause of the emergency. A mere military mutiny may be met by a mere military effort. But if, on the contrary, what we have to deal with be an insurrection, supported by the favour and sympathy of the great mass of the population, our measures must, as I think, be both in nature and degree different from those of which we have had an intimation from Her Majesty's Government. 476 Looking upon this as a national revolt—I cannot adopt the belief that the measures announced by the Government—merely military measures—are adequate to the occasion. I confess I should be inclined to doubt, whether they were adequate for a mere military mutiny; but under no circumstances, did I believe, as the Government appear to believe, that this is a mere military mutiny, would I presume to offer any strong opinion upon the means they have thought it right to take for putting it down. If when a mere military mutiny is to be put down, the Government cannot be trusted with the settlement of the amount of force to be applied and the means by which success is to be achieved, what confidence on any subject could be placed in them? Therefore, if I agreed that this was a military mutiny only, even if I was of opinion that the force they recommended was not sufficient for the occasion, I should leave the responsibility to them; and if they failed in their object from want of means, Parliament would be able to exact a due account. But, concluding, as I do, that this is something much more serious, I do not think that the means announced by the Government are in any way adequate to the occasion. Let us consider what are the means with which the Government intend to save our empire. We heard at first of 14,000 men to be sent out; but nearly one-half of that amount consisted of reliefs. Some 6,000 of those men are to fill up vacancies among the European ranks in India; so that, although the total number of troops to be sent out amounts, we are now told, from 20,000 to 25,000, yet the additional force we shall furnish will only be 18,000 or 19,000 men. Of that number how many can be fairly estimated ever to appear in the field? There will be the percentage of loss from the voyage, the percentage of loss from climate, and the casualties of warfare, even before war on a great scale has begun. Taking these casualties into account, you cannot fairly expect that of those 18,000 or 19,000 men more than 15,000 fresh troops will arrive on the field in India. Does the House believe that that is a sufficient force to cope with the present circumstances of India? To my mind, our efforts should be on a much greater scale. There should be not only an advance from Calcutta through Bengal, but also an expedition up the Indus—and, in my opinion, the latter would be the more important of the two expeditions. 477 It is only in that manner you can embrace and command your empire: altogether to meet this emergency, the noble Lord must take much bolder steps than he seems inclined at present to adopt. I think he ought to call out the militia—not only call them out, but embody them; and I do not understand, unless the noble Lord does this, how he can maintain the war with effect. Besides, if you send out a powerful expedition, it is necessary to establish in this country a powerful and ample reserve. How can that be done unless you not only call out but embody the militia? The noble Lord said the other night, in reply to some observations of mine, that he saw no use in calling out the militia, except to make that a means of recruiting the regular army. No doubt it is a high privilege and a noble duty for the militia to recruit the ranks of the regular army; but I cannot agree that it is the primary duty of the militia. Their first duty is to defend our hearths, and I do not see—not caring to allude to the present state of Europe, but simply regarding the alarming condition of Asia—what steps can be taken for the proper maintenance of our national defences unless the militia be called out and embodied, and unless the noble Lord comes down to the House to ask for ample means to prosecute the war in which we have embarked. I have made these observations as to the question of force, and I should not have ventured to make any criticism upon the acts of the Government upon this subject if I had been able to agree with them as to the causes of the disturbance. But, to my mind, that is not all that we ought to look to. Even if we do vindicate our authority with complete success—revenge the insults we have received—rebuild the power that has been destroyed—it appears to me that we have still a very great and responsible task before us, for it is impossible to drive from our consideration not merely the future of India, but also the present condition and feeling of the great mass of the population of that country. We may pour our legions and our fleets up the rivers and through the provinces of India—we may be successful—but to my mind we should add to that success and doubly strengthen our force—and I am prepared, for one, to give any support to Her Majesty's Government which they may require for that purpose—if at the same time we should say to India that supposes she is aggrieved and outraged—to India perhaps 478 despairing of pardon—"Although we will assert with the highest hand our authority—although we will not rest until our unquestioned supremacy and predominance are acknowledged, from the Punjab to Cape Comorin—it is not merely as avengers that we appear." I think that the great body of the population of that country ought to know that there is for them a future of hope. I think we ought to temper justice with mercy—justice the most severe with mercy the most indulgent. But how are you to do that? What step are you prepared to take? How are you going, let me ask, to govern India, when, as I have heard, it has been circulated on the highest authority that the Native army in Bengal no longer exists? Has the House well considered the consequences of so easily saying, that as the Native army of Bengal has no longer any existence we should substitute for it English regiments? I do not wish to view the question as one of finance. This country is in a condition at the present moment which will not permit us to dwell upon such considerations—but it is a question not to be lost sight of or blinked. But suppose you had 100,000 or 200,000 Englishmen in India, could you govern India with their aid? You might as well talk of governing India with the House of Commons. Why, the assumption that you are to have an army of Europeans to govern India involves a complete revolution, both in your external policy and in your internal administration in that part of the world. How are you to invade kingdoms like Pegu—how are you to conquer countries like the Punjab—merely with men of English constitution? How could they journey through those burning deserts and perform those duties which now are with facility accomplished by the Native troops? You could not do it. Look at the condition of our English regiments in India. We have been obliged to guard them and protect them from the influence of the climate up to the moment of those battles which they have been called upon to fight, and which they have invariably won. Well, then, as to your foreign policy? With such a system, it would no longer exist. There must be no more annexations—no more conquests. You must entirely change all your relations with the States coterminous with your Indian empire. But look at your internal administration. Can you levy your revenue with English troops? Are English troops to be stationed at every outpost? 479 Are they to escort the money from your treasuries? Are they to perform all those duties which now are with facility performed by those whose habits and organization adapt them to live and work in that country? It is totally impossible that you can ever govern 150,000,000 of men in India merely by European agency. You must meet that difficulty boldly and completely. Well, then, the course which I recommend is this:—You ought at once, whether you receive news of success or of defeat, to tell the people of India that the relations between them and their real ruler and Sovereign Queen Victoria shall be drawn nearer. You must act upon the opinion of India on that subject immediately; and you can only act upon the opinion of Eastern nations through their imagination. You ought to have a Royal Commission sent by the Queen from this country to India immediately to inquire into the grievances of the various classes of that population. You ought to issue a Royal Proclamation to the people of India, declaring that the Queen of England is not a Sovereign who will countenance the violation of treaties—that the Queen of England is not a Sovereign who will disturb the settlement of property—that the Queen of England is a Sovereign who will respect their laws, their usages, their customs, and, above all, their religion. Do this, and do this not in a corner, but in a mode and manner which will attract universal attention and excite the general hope of Hindostan, and you will do as much as all your fleets and armies can achieve. But to do this, you must act with vigour. You must send to that country competent men—men of high station and ability, such as would entitle them to such office—and who shall appear in Hindostan in the Queen's name and with the Queen's authority. If that be done simultaneously with the arrival of your forces, you may depend upon it that your military advance will be facilitated, and I believe your ultimate success insured.
Sir, no one can be more sensible than myself that I have most imperfectly treated this great question. I may be asked why, with these convictions, I have ended these observations only with a Motion for papers. It may be said, that if the views of the Government and those that I have expressed appear to be so contrary, "Why don't you assert your opinions in a Resolution, and call upon Parliament to 480 sanction it?" I will state the reason why I have not taken that course. I thought, and I still think, that it was of high moment, at this emergency, that the Parliament of England should not shrink from entering into a discussion on the state of our Indian empire It appeared to me that if we were to return to our counties in silence, we should have abdicated our functions, and lost all claim on the confidence of the people. It is at these moments that we who are the Great Council of the nation should stand forward to be the guides and guardians of the people of this country. The opinions of the Government upon this subject have not been expressed in such a decided manner—they have not been adopted so long—that I should despair to find that their minds would rise with the occasion, and that they would embrace a more vigorous and larger policy than they have hitherto seemed to intimate or recommend. I cannot renounce the hope that even the discussion of this night, after others may perhaps have been listened to more competent than myself, may elicit from the Government a declaration which may carry some hope and confidence to the people. If they should take that course, sec in what a position we should then be placed. A united Parliament and a strong Government are two circumstances most necessary in the difficult position in which we are placed. That is a consideration that has influenced my mind. It is not that I myself on this or on any other subject on which I might recommend a policy would shrink from responsibility; but I wish to show to Europe and to Asia that it is not the object of the British Parliament to overthrow a Ministry but to save an empire. I trust, therefore, that this discussion will at least elicit such a declaration of policy on the part of the Government that the only duty of the House of Commons in future will be to support it with cordial sincerity. If they do not take that course—if they adopt insufficient means, and public disaster occur—deep will be their responsibility. We shall meet again, and perhaps sooner than this House two months ago deemed probable; and if they neglect their duty to the country, I, for one, will not shrink from responsibility. I will then appeal with confidence to an indignant people and to a determined Parliament, and I will ask them to unite their energies to save an endangered empire. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving, that there be laid before this House— 481Copy of any Minute or Despatch addressed to the Governor General of India, by His Excellency the Commander in Chief, the late Major General the Honourable G. Anson, dated on or about March 1856, relative to the state of the Bengal Army:Copy of a Report on the organisation of the Bengal Army, drawn up by the late Lieutenant General Sir Charles Napier, and transmitted to His Grace the Duke of Wellington, K. G.
MR. VERNON SMITH
Sir, it is impossible to deny, and I am sure it is not my wish to deny, that the right hon. Gentleman has made on this occasion a very able and remarkable speech—remarkable for the fluency of the speaker, the variety of his resources, and all those qualities which adorn, and have long adorned, his character in this House. If it was a mere matter of pleasure to listen to an excellent lecture upon the state of our affairs in India at the present moment, even in this month of July, I think we could not have spent our leisure better than by paying attention to the right hon. Gentleman. But at the close of his three hours' speech I am tempted to ask what is the use of this oration? I am tempted to ask not only that question, but to go further and to ask, is not there very great mischief in bringing forward this subject in the manner in which it has been brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman? He has told the House that we have treated with levity these great mutinies in India. For my own part, I deny that I have ever treated them with levity. The right hon. Gentleman questioned me some weeks ago as to the state of affairs in India? I answered him as well as I was able from the information which I then possessed. If I treated the question without that apparent gravity and anxiety which he thought necessary, I can only say that, while they believed the best, Her Majesty's Government were prepared for the worst; but there was nothing in the tone in which I addressed the House which could give rise to the notion that I was not thoroughly aware of the condition of things in India, or that the Government was not taking every means in its power to put down these mutinies. The right hon. Gentleman, from the manner in which he has treated the subject, instead of having done aught to allay the apprehensions of the public mind, has introduced topics calculated to produce a vast amount of mischief. Now, amid much that was discouraging in the news from India, there were two grounds of consolation; but both 482 of those grounds the right hon. Gentleman attempts to cut from under us. The first ground of consolation is that, as far as we are informed, there are not the slightest symptoms of the mutiny being a national revolt. There is not a tittle of evidence, and the right hon. Gentleman has adduced none to show that the outbreak arose from national discontent. Another most consolatory circumstance in our intelligence from the East is, that no native Prince has been as yet concerned in these transactions. The right hon. Gentleman sweeps away that source of comfort also from our minds. He says, there has been a conspiracy among the native Princes; but there is not the shadow of proof to show that there is anything approaching to a conspiracy of that kind. I was glad to find that the clock had reached the hour for the despatch of the next mail to India before the right hon. Gentleman told us that the Native Princes and Native proprietors of India were in their hearts our enemies. I now utter a distinct contradiction to that statement. Did not the Maharajah of Gwalior come forward with his contingent, and issue throughout his territory a proclamation that any man who brought in a mutineer should receive a reward of 100 rupees? Did not the Rajah of Puttealla come forward to assist us with his forces, although he might have pleaded the existence of a dispute between him and the East India Government? I defy the right hon. Gentleman to show that any one of the Native Princes, our gallant allies, have sullied all their loyalty by betraying us at this juncture. Therefore, however much we may admire the right hon. Gentleman's eloquence, we must, I think, regret the excessive inexpediency of his Motion. As to his Resolution itself, it is well known that it means nothing. One of the papers for which he has moved does not, I believe, exist. I refer to the imaginary official despatch from the Commander in Chief to the Governor General. I told the House before that I had directed every search to be made in the department over which I preside, with a view to discover such a document; but no such document has been, found. A similar search has been made at the India House with the same fruitless result. The only despatch from the Commander in Chief which bears in the remotest degree upon the point described by the right hon. Gentleman is a despatch which relates merely to two or three officers 483 who are mentioned by name as being relieved from their regimental duties, and are desired to return to them. As to the other paper—the despatch from Sir Charles Napier to the Duke of Wellington—it refers to a totally different subject from that stated by the right hon. Gentleman. It relates to the defence of our frontiers, and particularly to the defence of the frontier of the Punjab; and although there may be incidental references to the state of our troops, the right hon. Gentleman must see that the document is one which ought not to be unadvisedly produced. But I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that the part of the despatch which relates to the state of the troops does not, in the smallest degree, bear out his surmises. This memorandum was sent in 1849 to the Duke of Wellington, who was then alive, and who considered it so unimportant that he took no notice whatever of it; nor, indeed, has any Government from that day to this acted upon it. Any charge of negligence against any particular Government on that score must therefore fall entirely to the ground.
I do not think it necessary that I should follow the right hon. Gentleman through the details of all the operations carried on for many years past in India. Certainly, most of his strictures would not apply to the present Government, nor to the Government which immediately preceded them. The right hon. Gentleman's review of Indian affairs extended from the year 1848 to the year 1857; and if any censure were implied, the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was himself a Member must come in for its share of it, for his charges extend over the period when they were in office. In respect to many of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, so far from holding an opposite opinion, as he seemed to anticipate, I entirely concur with him. He says that everything in Indian affairs is changed. Well, who is responsible for that change? It is quite true that India has, for several years past, been in a state of transition; that is to say, European ideas have been sought to be adopted throughout India by persons engaged in civil and military employments there. The reason for this is, that greater attention has been paid to India by this country, and the consequence has been, that Gentlemen in the House of Commons have frequently brought forward Indian questions, always endeavouring to engraft their 484 English notions upon Indian policy. Whether that be right or wrong is certainly a grave problem in philosophy. The right hon. Gentleman says it is wrong; but those who are constantly twitting the Indian Government with not advancing rapidly enough will do well to remember that the right hon. Gentleman ascribes all the present evils to our moving too fast. According to the right hon. Gentleman, everything like interference with what was antiquated, obsolete, and contrary to the spirit of the age, has helped to produce this commotion in the Indian army. On the same ground he condemns the recent measures in relation to Hindoo marriages, and for the abolition of the suttee. ["No, no!"] He certainly mentioned the abolition of Hindoo ceremonies as one of the causes of the present excitement. I believe that all this is perfectly true. I have not a doubt of it. But these measures were the result of the irresistible course of events in this country, for which no man can fairly hold the Government responsible. The government of India is, and always has been, a most difficult problem; and it has become infinitely more difficult than ever since the attention of the Parliament, the people, and the various religious sects of England has been more closely drawn to Indian questions. The right hon. Gentleman says that, by changing everything, we have committed three huge errors—we have disturbed the Native authority—we have interfered with the property—and we have interfered with the religion of the people of India. He went with great detail into the whole question of interference with Native authority. He analyzed the famous Minute of Lord Dalhousie. I certainly have a great admiration—in which, I dare say, the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me—of the high character and eminent abilities of Lord Dalhousie; but I do not pretend to say that that noble Lord did not go too far in abolishing the Hindoo system of adoption. And when the right hon. Gentleman speaks of the Government endorsing that policy, he entirely forgets the fact that that policy was rejected by the Court of Directors and the home Government. But it is not a perfectly plain case that the Hindoo system of adoption always extends so far as to strangers. It has been admitted to extend to blood relations, even although they go back for centuries, and therefore sovereigns and proprietors who have inherited their lands for several hundred years may claim the 485 right of adopting heirs from their descendants and collateral relations. This, however, is a grave question, well deserving the attention, not of the House of Commons only, but of other persons who are more capable of solving it, and of eliciting the exact truth. Every question of succession in a State in India ought to be taken separately, in order to arrive at a just conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman thinks of applying one system to all these States. I do not think it would be advisable or practicable to attempt any such arrangement. Every State in which the issue has failed has its own law of adoption, its own customs and usages, and, without entering into the consideration of these, it would be impossible to pronounce off-hand that the system propounded in Lord Dalhousie's Minute is incorrect. No doubt his Lordship treats this question rather cursorily, because he is addressing the Court of Directors, who are aware of every individual instance to which his doctrine applies; but, before we decide whether he was right or wrong, in justice to Lord Dalhousie, we ought to analyze every separate question, and examine the foundation on which it rests. Instead of that, however, the right hon. Gentleman passes one sweeping condemnation upon his policy as to adoption, and states it to be one of the causes of discontent. The fact cannot be too much insisted upon, that there is no apparent connection between the Native Princes and this revolt. If the Native Princes were offended with the conduct of the Government towards the Rajah of Sattara, no doubt they would have manifested that feeling at the time. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Nizam ought to take warning. But the Nizam has taken no warning—he has shown no dissatisfaction towards our rule. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, tells him that he is very unwise in not taking offence at our policy; and, no doubt, if the right hon. Gentleman's speech produces its natural effect in India, we shall have a whole shoal of discontented Native Princes, either rising in rebellion, or coming to this country with their discontents, or at all events finding eminent lawyers to bring their cases before the House of Commons. According to the right hon. Gentleman's statement, heavy charges have been brought by all the Indian Princes, or those who would have been Indian Princes 486 by adoption, against the Government. I utterly deny the assertion, and am somewhat surprized at such a statement coming from such a source. I do not know whence the right hon. Gentleman has obtained his information. Certainly two or three cases involving rights of adoption have been recently debated in this House, but we had no assistance from the right hon. Gentleman in discussing them; indeed, I do not recollect his having even taken part in Indian debates, until this unfortunate mutiny so alarmed him as to call forth his elaborate speech of to-night. The right hon. Gentleman would, however, I think, have done well if he had shown a more prudent reserve. I am quite aware that the difficulties of an Administration are the opportunities of an Opposition, but I think the right hon. Gentleman and his friends will do more mischief to the interests of the country, and to themselves as a party, by this Motion, than will be compensated for by any advantage they can derive from it.
The right hon. Gentleman next referred to what he called the disturbance of property in India, as one of the causes of the great wrath against our Government that now existed in that country. In so doing, he alluded to the propriety of inquiry being made by a Royal Commission into the rights of tenure under the Native Princes. Now, I at once admit that we have not dealt with many of those tenures as the Native Princes did. Many of them were of feudal origin, and could not be carried out under our system of government. For example, the holders of land had, in some cases, to keep horses saddled and bridled ready for the use of the Rajah when he went into action. Such tenures as these—and there are thousands of a similar kind—were brought to an end when the government of the country came into our hands, and in most cases it was for the advantage of the tenant that it should be so. The Rajahs were, among other things, entitled to what we call fines from the holders. These fines were done away with; but, by the equalization of their property, it has been found that, on the whole, the People have rather gained than otherwise. It is beyond doubt that enormous frauds and corruptions have taken place, and there may be a good reason for the appointment of a Commission; but the right hon. Gentleman, without assigning these frauds as a cause for inquiry, has dexterously, for the applause 487 of his own supporters, thrown out the idea that a Commission has been appointed to inquire into the titles of the proprietors to their lands. No doubt much discontent has been caused in India by the changes that have taken place, especially among fraudulent proprietors, and others who dreaded any inquiry into the existing state of things; but does any important change of law ever take place in our own country without creating discontent among some class or other affected by the change?
The right hon. Gentleman, in the third part of his subject, referred to a matter of the greatest and deepest importance—namely, our alleged interference with the religion of the natives. That is unquestionably a matter of great delicacy and difficulty; but the feeling with regard to their religion being insulted is not a new thing with the people of India; it has been going on for many years, and we find it in operation among the natives as far back as the time of the mutiny of Vellore. The historian of that mutiny, after stating that the natives of India are not opposed to controversy on religious questions, observers that it was not the dissemination of Christian doctrine by the missionaries that excited their hostility on that occasion, but a belief that the Government entertained the idea of compulsory conversions. I believe it is much the same now; I believe that the missionaries, excellent and intelligent men, are received wherever they go with respect by the natives, who have no sort of objection to listening to them. They are accustomed to every shade and variety of religion, and look upon the missionaries as men who are only discharging what they regard as a sacred duty. Perhaps they may look upon them as fanatics, just as they consider there are fanatics among themselves, but they manifest no antipathy to them, and always listen to them with respect. It is different, however, when missionaries are found among the civil servants of the Government, or among military men? When they see men like Colonel Wheeler, for example, preaching in the bazaars and distributing tracts to the soldiers of his own regiment, they begin to fear that the Government is contemplating compulsory conversion. I have no hesitation, therefore, in saying that it would be the best possible policy of the Governor General at once to interfere and peremptorily to forbid in every instance the exercise of missionary zeal among the 488 civil and military servants of the Government. This is, however, not a new question; it is one that has for many years excited a deep interest in this country, and has led to the publication of numerous pamphlets; among others one by a relation of my own, the late rev. Sydney Smith, who, on the subject of Indian missions warned the Government against disaffection being spread among the troops from this source. Some years ago orders were sent out against the interference of these lay missionaries; but these orders gradually fell into abeyance, and the system had since been carried on with renewed vigour—not because the Government desired it, but because the zeal of the House and the country had resolved that the system of conversion should be carried out to the fullest extent possible. If, for instance, some weeks even ago I had suggested that all those civil and military servants of the Company who took part in missionary labours should be removed, I should have been met by shouts of disapprobation; for it had always been a favourite idea of some parties that India was a field peculiarly adapted for the labours of the missionary; and in the House of Lords a nobleman distinguished for his zeal in the cause of religion and charity, and for his ability and attainments had boldly uttered the doctrine that it was better to lose India than to abstain from these attempts to propagate our religion among the natives. The right hon. Gentleman has adverted to Mr. Halliday. Why, Mr. Halliday, after the insurrection of Santhal, proposed that the whole of that territory should be handed over to the missionaries for the purposes of education, to this course I decidedly objected. I thank the right hon. Gentleman opposite for having stated his opinions so boldly on this question of religion, and I can only repeat that I entirely concur in the opinions he has expressed.
The right hon. Gentleman next referred to the question of annexation. Now, I do not say that we are entitled to seize upon every portion of territory that we can possibly lay hold of; but, on the other hand, I do not object to many of the cases of annexation to which he has referred. The right hon. Gentleman began his list of annexations with the advent of Lord Dalhousie,—a course that I think was rather unfair, for there were annexations before that time. There was the dispute with the Ameers of Scinde, and the case of 489 the Punjab, which ended in annexations. [Mr. DISRAELI: Those were annexations by conquest, and not the kind of annexations to which I referred.] But I cannot allow the right hon. Gentleman to draw so fine a line of distinction as that which he makes between annexations gained by conquest where we had provoked the quarrel, and those which have followed what he calls a violation of the principle of adoption. This brings me to the question of Oude, which I admit is one of the greatest importance. The right hon. Gentleman says, and says truly, that Oude is a question by itself, and that one evening would scarcely suffice for the proper discussion, and he therefore touched upon it but lightly, and I shall follow his example. Oude was annexed in the early part of 1856. It was known that it was about to be annexed during the whole of 1855; the papers respecting the annexation were laid on the table in 1856; but up to the present time not a word has been said about it, and I have a right, therefore, to conclude that the House of Commons looked upon that annexation as not being a question of such pressing interest as to make it necessary for them to take it up. When the right hon. Gentleman talks about the exclusive rights of the Native Princes he must remember the rights of the subjects of those princes and of the obligation which rests upon us to see that those subjects are protected in their rights. He has spoken of Princes and proprietors, but altogether omitted the people. These subjects of the King of Oude were kept in subjection entirely by our power, and we thus made ourselves responsible, morally at least, for every act which the King did. We had our troops and our Resident there. If we had withdrawn them there would have been complete anarchy. Lord Dalhousie thought that the state of things in Oude was such as ought not to be tolerated under our rule, and he decided that it would be better to annex the country. I will not enter into the question whether it was done in the best manner or not, but it certainly was done in the manner least likely to be offensive to the feelings of the parties concerned. We have the best possible reason to believe that the state of that kingdom as regards the people, at least, has exceedingly improved since the annexation. The right hon. Gentleman, in his anxiety to connect everything which has gone wrong with this mutiny, asserted that the mutiny began 490 with the Oude Sepoys, and that they were discontented with the annexation. I cannot tell exactly whether the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that there are 70,000 Sepoys from Oude in our service; it is an enormous number certainly; but if they are discontented it is because they have lost the exclusive privilege of redress which they formerly had. An Oude Sepoy, wherever he was, when he had a grievance used to communicate it to his relations in Oude. They went to the Minister, and the Minister, glad to have an opportunity of proving how anxious he was for the welfare of the people, immediately laid it before the Resident, and thus the Sepoy from Oude had a means of getting redress which other Sepoys had not. It does not, however, follow, that the state of that country is happy where such a monopoly of redress exists; and Mr. Coverley Jackson, who was the Resident in Oude, is now in London, and bears testimony to the superior comforts and condition of the people since the annexation took place. The right hon. Gentleman is wrong, too, in saying that the Oude Sepoys have been withdrawn from their homes. The contrary is the case, for they have been quartered very much in their own territory, and I can only hope that they will be as satisfied with the measure of subjection to our rule as the rest of the population undoubtedly are. The right hon. Gentleman has completely failed to connect the case of Oude with this outbreak. I can see no connection between the two, nor can I imagine that there can be any, unless it were by means of some of the courtiers who surround the King of Oude at Calcutta, of which I have seen no trace, and should be very sorry to see any.
The right hon. Gentleman complains of the meagreness of the papers, because they do not furnish him with any of those proofs which he expected from them of the Government having long since received warnings of this outbreak. If the papers are meagre it is because there never were any such warnings as the right hon. Gentleman desired to find in them. The right hon. Gentleman left it to me to produce what papers I thought best. I produced a narrative of the mutiny in the first set of papers; and in the second set, as there was no limit fixed as to how far back they were to go, I adopted the limit which was contained in the notice given by the Marquess of Clanricarde in the other House—namely, the 1st of April, 1856. To the 491 assertion that the Government have received any warning of this outbreak I give a positive denial. The right hon. Gentleman says that the circulation of the chupatties ought to have been a warning to the Government; but that was confined entirely to the native villages, and it is well known that the villagers have taken no part in the outbreak, but, on the contrary, have done all in their power to assist the Europeans who were forced to take refuge among them. As to the refusal of furlough, it is not the fact that many regiments refused their furlough. That refusal was confined to a part of one regiment—it was a mere isolated fact, and, even if it had possessed any significance, it only took place in April, so that it could have been no warning to the Government in England of what was going to take place in India in May. Another allegation is that the troops never thought of revolting until they heard of the wars with Persia and China, and the consequent drain of European troops from India. If that be the case they certainly chose a very inopportune moment, for they revolted just as they heard that the troops were returning from Persia; in fact, I believe the European regiments landed from Bushire about two days after the mutiny commenced. And, with regard to the China war, no European troops were withdrawn from India on account of it, but only two Native regiments. There was not the slightest warning of any disaffection in the Native army sent home to this country; on the contrary, perfect reliance was placed in these troops. Lord Dalhousie, in the only sentence in his Minute which refers to the army, says, "There never was a military man in such a condition as the Sepoy." Look, too, at the farewell address of Sir William Gomm. The other night an hon. and gallant Officer asked me whether any report had been received from General Anson, pointing out the dangerous condition of the Bengal army; I replied in the negative; and it was then suggested that such a report might have been received from Sir William Gomm, the previous Commander in Chief. Again, there was no ground for any such supposition; and, in point of fact, Sir William Gomm, in his farewell address to the army, expressed his admiration of its discipline and efficiency. Sir William Gomm was appointed by the Duke of Wellington, who knew India; he was in India five years, and his opinion of the Native army was that it 492 would perform any service that was required of it. That was the opinion of Sir William Gomm just before he left India; but there is no record of the alleged opinion of General Anson. I now come to the opinion of the "fiery Napier," as he has been termed by the right hon. Gentleman. Sir Charles Napier was no doubt one of the most eminent authorities about India. He was a man of very great abilities, but like many other men of genius, he frequently exhibited great eccentricity and inconsistency; but, if I were to go into a detailed examination of his writings I should find that he has given opinions very much in favour of the Sepoys. He said that in many respects the Sepoys are the finest soldiers in the world; he says their qualities are such that the young men are good in action, and the veterans are steady and experienced, while in physical qualifications and in height, though not perhaps in breadth, the Sepoys beats the European soldier. It would no doubt be easy to bring numerous instances of Sir Charles Napier's admiration of the Sepoy regiments. Sir Charles Napier was in Bombay, and afterwards in Scinde. He was also Commander in Chief of the army in India. It is said that Sir Charles Napier, when at Bombay, wrote against the system of promotion by seniority in the Bengal army; but when he got to Bengal he never made that alteration in the army, although, being then Commander in Chief, he surely had opportunities of carrying into effect any alteration which he thought desirable in the Bengal army. The House should also bear in mind, that the opinions of Sir Charles Napier had only become known to the Indian Government by the recent publication of his Memoirs. I do not believe that Sir Charles Napier ever made a remonstrance to the Court of Directors or the Indian Government of the kind now quoted. I know it may be said that Sir Charles Napier had a sovereign contempt for the Court of Directors and the Government; but if for that or any other reason he did not communicate with them, it is surely a sufficient excuse why they did not act without an official remonstrance by Sir Charles Napier upon opinions thrown off by him in 1849, and never brought under their notice. I will very readily admit that Sir Charles Napier must be considered a very high authority on any military question, and I should, for my part, be prepared to attach the utmost 493 importance to any opinion that might emanate from him upon any subject; but I cannot admit it to be a reproach upon the Indian Government that they did not act upon suggestions that never were made known to them. The right hon. Gentleman said, that during the Russian war the Government were so hampered that no one expected them to attend to India. So far, however, was it from being thought we ought to send more European troops to India, that we were taunted for not withdrawing troops from India to send them to the Crimea. I remember my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Devonport (Sir Erskine Perry) bringing forward a Motion upon the organization of the Indian army. My hon. and learned Friend said, we might withdraw twenty-five regiments from India. [Sir ERSKINE PERRY dissented.] I certainly understood my hon. and learned Friend to have stated that twenty-five regiments from India would have formed a capital contingent against the Russians. Sir De Lacy Evans, a greater military authority, said in 1855:—If now it were found by that Committee that our Indian territory was in a state of tranquillity, such as to afford the assurance that there was nothing to fear from domestic convulsion or from foreign aggression for a considerable period, why, he would ask, should the Government of this country, by a mere technical difficulty, be deprived of the advantage of being able to employ elsewhere a portion of the European force of the Indian army? He said European force, because he was not one of those who thought that it was desirable to employ Sepoys in the present war in the Crimea, as they did not possess sufficient strength for that species of work; but the English force in the service of the East India Company, he considered, might be employed to advantage.It is all very well to cry out now that the calamity has arisen, and say that it ought to have been foreseen. Of course, on occasions of this kind there are always a number of men who are wise after the event, who will say that they prophesied what has taken place, and that every one foresaw what would happen except the Government. But I do not think that many Members of this House, looking back to their speeches, will say, that they have given us warning of recent events; and I firmly believe that the persons best acquainted with the condition of India never anticipated the present military insurrection. The current of opinion has been, indeed, quite the other way; and it has been the same in India. I have asked the best authorities, and those who have had the best opportunities of observing the 494 Mahomedans and the Hindoos, whether they heard in society that there existed; any appearance of dissatisfaction among the Natives. They all agree that the matter was never even discussed. What was the opinion of Parliament in 1853? A Committee was appointed upon India in 1852, when the question of the Indian army was considered. Nothing was recommended to be done in regard to the Indian army. The Committee were appointed under Lord Derby's Government. Mr. Herries, the President of the Board of Control, moved for the appointment of that Committee without making any allusion to the Indian army or any danger arising from that source. In 1853 the Act was passed relative to the Government of India. I attended all the debates, and nothing was said about the Indian army, and no one Member seems to have contemplated the possibility of a revolt of the Native troops. There was indeed a clause in that Bill to give additional power to the President of the Board of Control to increase the number of the East India Company's army; and that brings me to the jealousy which Parliament has always displayed of adding to the Queen's troops in India. That jealousy was raised during Mr. Fox's Bill, and ever since there have always been apprehensions entertained of sending more than 20,000 men to India. The fear expressed never was as to the insecurity of the Native force, but was always that the Minister would take advantage of India as a depository of patronage, and would keep up as large a standing army as possible in that country. The same policy has been enforced on considerations of economy. I have frequently heard it stated in this House that the question of finance involved the only danger to our dominion in India; and when I came into office I was warned that this was the one thing to be attended to. I was told that the finances of India admitted of no expansion—that there were certain sources of revenue to which it would be impossible to make any addition. Nor did it appear that there were any great means of decreasing the expenditure. The late Governor General thought that any great diminution of the expenditure was next to impossible. There was some question of reducing the salaries of the civil servants to a sum rather greater than was given in the colonies; the very mention excited offence, for the only public in India is the civil service; and it is not to be expected that 495 the civil servants will show much zeal in reducing their own salaries.
The right hon. Gentleman went into a detail of the causes of the late mutiny, and I will not blink the question of the immediate cause of that mutiny. The right hon. Gentleman forces me to enter upon this subject, though I should not otherwise think it advisable to do so. In my opinion, it would be very presumptuous and premature for any person in this country to lay down authoritatively the precise causes of that event. The right hon. Gentleman says it is a national revolt. If I was compelled to give an opinion, I should have said that it was more a military mutiny. It is impossible at present to declare what has caused it, but if it be a military mutiny I say it is impossible to suppose that there was not, in the first instance, some mismanagement at Meerut. At Meerut there was no deficiency of European regiments—a fact which the right hon. Gentleman opposite would do well to bear in mind when he speaks of the inadequacy of the European force which was maintained in India as one of the main causes of the recent unhappy occurrences in that country. When the news of what had taken place at Meerut first arrived here—which intelligence, I may observe in passing, the right hon. Gentleman accuses me of having treated with levity—I was enabled at once to ascertain, to my great delight, that there was a large European force stationed in that quarter, and I was, I must confess, somewhat astonished to find when the next mail came in that the outbreak which had occurred there had not been quelled. What really happened at Meerut was that which I am about to state. Eighty-five Native soldiers, who had been imprisoned for disobedience of orders, were brought out manacled into the presence of their comrades—a course which ought not to have been taken unless there had been such an overwhelming European force at hand as would have checked any tendency to insubordination, and without such a display so extreme a measure ought never to have been adopted. Be that as it may, however, the result was that an outbreak took place, and the mutineers were allowed to make their way to Delhi, in the most unaccountable manner, without pursuit, along one of the most open roads in India:—so that it is impossible to conceive—though I should be sorry to give any positive opinion on the subject—that there was not some mismanagement 496 connected with the whole affair. In all such cases it is, I may add, the first step which is of the greatest importance, and it is to the energy which was displayed by General Gillespie that we were indebted for the promptness with which the mutiny at Vellore was put down. The right hon. Gentleman has omitted to state many circumstances which in all probability largely contributed to produce the calamity. One of the principal causes of the existing state of things in India is said to be that a great number of officers in that country were withdrawn from military and engaged instead in civil employments. Well, if that be the true cause, I can only say that the system is one which has been in operation for a period of fifty or sixty years. That it has prevailed is a circumstance which cannot at all events be fairly laid to my charge, for my only act with reference to the strength of our army since I came into office has been to add one captain and one lieutenant to each regiment. I must, however, in fairness state that the employment of European officers in a civil capacity is a system which is held by many high authorities to be perfectly defensible. It is regarded in the first place as being a great boon to the service—as being a great incentive to exertion; while it is confidently asserted by many persons who are well acquainted with India that the presence of European officers in great numbers in the army is not always productive of advantage. In corroboration of that view, I may observe that in the best portion of the Native force—I mean the Irregular Cavalry—there are very few European officers; but it is also true, no doubt, that these officers are picked men. We cannot, therefore, with any degree of fairness, in my opinion, ascribe the occurrence of recent events in India entirely to the cause which I have just mentioned. The origin of those events might perhaps more correctly be traced to the fact that the impression, owing to the progressive spirit of our age, prevailed among the Natives of India that it was our object not so much to christianize as to denationalize or de-Indianize them, if I may be permitted to use that expression. Again, the attachment which the Native soldier formerly bore to his officer has of late years, from various causes, considerably diminished. In past times, the yearning for home used not to prevail to the same extent among the officers, or at least it had not the same chance of being gratified. Englishmen in military 497 command used to look upon India as their home and residence. Now, however, the modern facilities for furlough has given rise to an unceasing appetite to the same class of men for a return to England; and this circumstance, I have no doubt, has exercised a considerable influence in promoting disaffection in the Indian army. It must, moreover, be admitted that the tone and I temper displayed by the European officers in India of late years have—as far, at least, as I can learn—caused a severance between them which did not in former times prevail. That tone and that temper are such, I have heard, as to lead them to speak at mess and upon other occasions of the Sepoys as "niggers," and I may, while referring to that point, take occasion to express my approbation of the excellent address which was lately delivered by my hon. Friend the Chairman of the East India Company to young men about to enter into their service in that country. My hon. Friend has been, it is true, found fault with by an old Indian officer for the tone which he took upon that occasion; but I think the advice which his address contains must, if followed, be productive of the most beneficial results. Another mischief has arisen from the concentration of its power at head quarters, for if an officer be neither feared nor loved, he cannot hope to be obeyed. I shall now, with the permission of the House, read an extract from an account which is given by an officer, who formerly served in India, of the feeling which then prevailed between the Native soldiers and their officers. He states that there were at the time in his regiment two officers of twenty-five years' standing, and a number of younger officers; that the greatest intimacy existed between them and the Natives, whose goodwill they gained by joining in their pastimes, by contributing to defray the expenses of their festivals, by such trifling acts as playing with their little children, arranging their lawsuits, and settling their quarrels. A different state of things, I regret to say, has since sprung up, and I must confess that the want of a kindly feeling between the officers and men is one of those evils for which it is extremely difficult to find a remedy. It is easy to effect improvements in administrative details; but how is it possible to alter the feeling of men, or those relations between different classes which have their origin in mere feeling. It is a question which legislation cannot affect, and one which in my opinion can be 498 dealt with in no other way than by endeavouring to introduce a different tone into the service. But the right hon. Gentleman opposite has sought to find another reason for the breaking out of the mutiny in India in the objection to the holding of certain processions which, he says, was made upon the part of Lord Canning. I must, however, confess that I do not exactly know to what processions the right hon. Gentleman alludes; and this I can state to be the fact—namely, that Lord Canning has shown the utmost determination in putting a stop to all interference with the religious ceremonies of the Natives in India, and has placed his veto upon some proceedings of the suburban police which appeared to have that tendency. The undoubted popularity which my noble Friend enjoys among the Natives is, I believe, in a great measure to be attributed to the policy which in that respect he has adopted, and I am sure the House will concur with me in the opinion that he is entitled to the highest praise for having prevented, as he has done, all interference in matters with respect to which the people of India are so peculiarly sensitive.
I may now advert to the circumstance that the Act of 1853, by which Parliament was enabled to establish a new Legislative Council, endowed that Legislative Council with powers which had no previous existence in the executive Government in India. The result has been that the members of that body, imbued no doubt with a desire of distinction, have brought forward Bills for the promotion of English as opposed to Indian objects. I trust, however, that recent events will serve as a warning to them not to tamper with the religious—call them if you will the superstitious—feelings of the people of that country. Well, the right hon. Gentleman opposite has, among other things, alluded to the question of education in India, but he has not told us what course we ought to take with regard to that question in preference to that which has been adopted. The fact is, it is a subject in regard to which it is impossible to stand still, but in dealing with which it is desirable that we should proceed with the utmost caution.
Having now discussed the alleged causes of the mutiny in India, I shall proceed to deal with the important question of the remedy which ought to be applied. Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman complains that we have not taken care to send out a sufficient number of troops; but the 499 fact is that he has fallen into an error in his calculation, for we have sent out more troops than the Governor General asked for, and the number of men sent out, or to be sent out, amounts to nearly 20,000. I may say that two regiments which were to proceed to China have been stopped, and also 500 men have been sent from Ceylon and two regiments from the Cape. That is a very large force, and we must take into our consideration not only the numerical force, but also the awe with which a European army is always regarded by Orientals. It appears to me that in Indian warfare the extent of that awe is difficult to imagine, and therefore it is that we have seen that in India English generals may lay aside their preconceived notions of strategic warfare, and dare hazards which against other enemies they could not venture to risk. It has been so from the battle of Plassy downwards; and even lately in Persia we have had an instance of the terror with which Orientals regard Europeans, where we have seen a well-equipped force of no less than 7,000 men routed and thrown into confusion by forty-five dragoons.
Now, then, the right hon. Gentleman says that he would issue a Royal Commission to proceed to India. Why, that would be virtually to supersede the Governor General. I cannot think that in a moment of trouble and difficulty it would be expedient to hamper the movements of the Governor General, more especially when that Governor General is a man like Lord Canning, in whom we have the most perfect confidence. From the very commencement of these transactions, Lord Canning has not only committed no mistakes, but he has corrected the mistakes of others. When, unfortunately, Mr. Colvin made the mistake of offering an amnesty to those mutineers who would return to their duty, Lord Canning, at once negatived that offer—and, in fact, there is not one act of his which has not been marked by vigour and good judgment. I think, therefore, that with a view to immediate action to supersede Lord Canning would be a fatal error—it would not only be unfair to him, but would be injurious to the public good, but it is very possible that a Commission might be usefully employed with the sanction, and under the authority of the noble Lord. What I have done has been to write to Lord Canning to ask him if he wishes for a Commission, and, if so, of what class of men 500 —whether military or political—he would wish that Commission to be composed. It must not be imagined that to deal with this question we require some great mastermind to point out the course which we ought to adopt. If we have a great master-mind, all the better; but in the meantime our course appears to me to be very plain, and the remedies for the evil appear to be well within our reach. The right hon. Gentleman wishes that the Queen's name should deliberately be connected with everything done at present in India, and he recommends that an assurance should be given to the people of that country, in the name of Her Majesty, that while the most vigorous measures will be adopted to suppress the mutiny, they will be treated with humanity and consideration as to the future. Now, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the issuing a proclamation on that subject is not necessary to convince the native population that while the rebellion will be sternly suppressed, the quality of mercy will be exercised in the subsequent proceedings of the British authorities. The right hon. Gentleman in talking about delay in the redress of grievances in India must remember in what hands the Legislature has thought proper to place the government of that country. In the year 1853 Parliament again deliberately placed that government in the hands of the East India Company, subject to the control of the Crown, and the constitution so established must necessarily be carried into practical effect. The machinery of the Government was instituted by Parliament with a view to caution, and what is the effect of that machinery? Why, if any improvement suggests itself to any one he has to communicate it first to the President of the Presidency in which he resides, the President of that Presidency then communicates it to the Governor General, the Governor General communicates it to the Legislative Council, who, after taking time to consider the matter, refer it to the Court of Directors, who read all the papers upon the subject, and then refer it to the Board of Control, where again the documents must be read for a final decision. That is the system which Parliament itself has chosen to provide for the Government of India, and of course it is necessarily unsuited for rapidity of action. That, however, is a subject which ought properly to be considered at some other time than the present. As I 501 have mentioned the Board of Control, I may be allowed to advert to a circumstance connected with it. It has been said by one, who is thought by some persons a high authority upon Indian affairs, (Lord Ellenborough), that persons connected with India view with the utmost distrust the gentleman who now has the honour of holding the office of President of the Board of Control. Now, we know that the noble Earl entertains something like a vindictive feeling against the East India Company, and I myself, in my earlier days was connected with the subject of the attacks which were made upon the noble Earl. The noble Earl is in the habit of seeing all the discontented gentlemen who come from India, who obtain a ready hearing from the noble Earl, and no doubt he connects their complaints against the Government of India with the gentleman who holds the office of President of the Board of Control in this country. From my position I am frequently under the necessity of refusing claims and petitions put forward by retired East Indian officials, and I have no doubt that these gentlemen in their disappointment often address themselves to the noble Earl in language not very complimentary to me. But I am in the habit on the other hand of communicating with persons high in authority on Indian affairs, who invariably shake their heads and shrug their shoulders at the mere mention of the noble Earl's name. I, however, for my own part, can only say that so far from wishing to enter into any controversy with the noble Earl upon the subject, as long as he gives the advice which he does give, and as long as he supplies those suggestions which he does supply for the benefit of our Indian empire, I shall listen to them with great respect, and I shall bear the compliments with which he couples them to myself personally with the utmost good humour. To revert, however, to the question as to whether it would be expedient to send a Commission to India, I can only repeat that at present I think that it would be inexpedient. I do not think that such a Commission would be available for the purpose which the right hon. Gentleman proposes, and I most certainly think that it would be ill-advised in any way to supersede any act of the Governor General. I think that it might, perhaps, be advisable that a Commission should issue at the instigation and by the authority of the Governor General, but I 502 cannot recognize the expediency of such a Commission as has been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman.
I come now to the important question, are we to abandon our Native regiments? and to that question I give a decided negative. I think that it will be impossible to govern India without Native troops. Why, Sir, there is in India an army of nearly 300,000 men, and can any man imagine that the people of England can ever consent to bear the expense of maintaining one half that force of European troops? We must therefore look to the re-organization of the Native troops. That brings me to the consideration of how these troops are composed. At present the Bengal army is composed of high-caste natives, and more especially of Brahmins. Now it seems to me that such an arrangement is extremely objectionable. There has been a limit of late to the employment of Brahmins; but there ought, I think, to be a further limit in that direction—that is one of the questions which would hereafter acquire the deepest consideration. I believe it was the late Sir Charles Napier who proposed that members of various creeds should be enlisted in the same regiments; and it is manifest that men of different castes may be engaged to serve together. Men of high caste, and of low caste, and of no caste at all, are employed in the Bombay regiments; and the Bombay and Madras armies form the best models, as far as we are yet aware, on which our Indian military force should be organized, because they still remained faithful to the British standard. What the intelligence brought by the next mail may be I cannot say, but at present we know that the Bombay and Madras army have shown the greatest fidelity and attachment. They take their families with them in line; but the high caste man will not allow his wife and children to accompany him. Therefore you might, by enlisting the low caste men, have an improved Hindoo system, because no doubt the presence of their families would be a strong preventive against the men mutinying. You may also diminish the regular and add to the irregular cavalry. That is a proposition which has frequently been made. Lord Dalhousie went so far as to recommend the withdrawal of two regiments of the Queen's cavalry and the substitution for them of irregular horse. The regular cavalry has been very much condemned; but it must be remembered that the Bombay 503 horse has lately at Kooshab done good work, and we must not decide against them until we see what they are when tried. Another very grave question is, whether we shall continue the Native artillery. My own opinion, founded not upon my own knowledge of military matters, but upon the information which I derive from others, is that a Native artillery is a very dangerous force, and that it might be much better to maintain only European artillery—I do not mean only Queen's troops, because the Bengal horse artillery are, according to Lord Ellenborough, the finest arm of the service, and, in the opinion of all men, very excellent troops—but I think it would be better to confine it altogether to European soldiers. These opinions I offer with great diffidence, as not being a military man; but these are questions which may properly be inquired into in the reorganization of the native army. They are questions which do not seem to me to require any immense stretch of military genius, and I cannot but hope that when this mutiny, so unfortunate and miserable in its effects, is over, they will be decided greatly to the advantage both of the Home Government and of the people of India. There are at present in India men perfectly capable of deciding these questions. There is Sir Patrick Grant, one of the best men in the Company's service, who is now called upon to preside over the Bengal army. I am proud to say that Sir Patrick Grant is the first Company's officer who was ever placed in command in a Presidency; and that I was the first person who suggested the practice of giving such commands to Company's officers, and enforced it upon the perhaps rather unwilling decision of the then Commander in Chief. He is a man perfectly competent to advise in these matters—a man of large experience and great knowledge of India. The person whom we have appointed provisional member of Council, in case of General Lowe's retirement, is General Outram, who is not only a good administrator but an excellent military authority, and whose advice I have no doubt that my noble Friend will follow in this emergency. Therefore the Governor General is not without persons to advise him. At the same time I have no doubt that if it should be more satisfactory to the public at home he would waive any consideration of his personal credit, and would be but 504 too willing to accept assistance from any one who might be sent from this country.
Therefore it is that, although I see all the difficulties in our way, and feel all the gravity of the occasion, I am not without hope that we may arrive at a satisfactory solution of all these questions. Certain I am that there shall be wonting no assiduity on the part of Her Majesty's Government, nor any of the energy for which the right hon. Gentleman has called, in devoting themselves entirely to this task. This is one of the most awful events which have happened in our history. I feel that most deeply, for I remember nothing occurring at so great a distance which has so powerfully affected society. It is impossible to walk the streets of this metropolis without witnessing the anxiety with which the arrival of news from India is expected. I think that the right hon. Gentleman might well have abstained from entering upon the delicate topics upon which he has touched on the present occasion. The question, however, of the Government of India is of immense importance, and one to which the House would do well to address itself, even at this late period of the Session. If it thinks there is anything wrong, if it disapproves the mode in which India is governed, let it sit day by day and night by night to consider this subject of overwhelming interest. If it disapproves any one concerned in the Government, let it discard that person; but I do think surely, Sir, that it is unadvisable for it to waste its time in discussions which lead to nothing. It is the duty of the House of Commons and of the country to wait in stern and resolute silence the news which may be coming from India. At the same time, if they discover any evil, they are perfectly justified in immediately attacking it; if they find any deficiency in any one; if they entertain, as stated by my Lord Ellenborough, any distrust of myself or of any other person in power, in God's name let them state it and their reasons for it, and at once proceed to the remedy of his removal. They will have no more willing assistant than myself; my personal reputation shall never for a moment stand in the way of the prosperity of India. If they observe any weak head, or any faint heart, or any faltering hand, let them at once wrest the power from the innocent but ineffective grasp that holds it; but if they do not, if they think otherwise, then I ask them, in the name of our common 505 country, not to disparage a Ministry which they decline to displace, not to enfeeble the arm which they still think fit to strike, not to embarrass the understandings of those whom they deem competent to judge and capable of conducting the affairs of our immense Indian empire in this its novel and extraordinary crisis.
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
said, that he could not at all agree with the proposition of the President of the Board of Control, that the present was an inexpedient time for discussing the questions now before them. He could very well understand that if the country were in an agitated state merely, and there was reason to believe that inflammatory speeches might create disturbance, it might be the duty of a prudent Legislature to abstain from discussion on the topic; but when the whole country was in a flame, it was quite clear that no discussion in that House could increase the disorder, and it was requisite to inquire into the causes of so calamitous an occurrence. So far as he understood the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Vernon Smith), he was not inclined to connect the military revolt with any general disaffection in the country—and upon that he would observe presently—but, whatever might be the opinion of the House as to the causes stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and the remedies he sought to apply, there could be but one opinion as to the tone and temper in which the right hon. Gentleman had discussed the question. The right hon. Gentleman had treated the subject as an Indian subject ought to be treated, without reference to party politics, and without attempting to gain a party triumph; and he trusted that the same spirit would pervade the speeches which were about to follow. There would doubtless be a unanimity of opinion in the House as to the mode in which this revolt in India must be put down. There must, of course, be the greatest possible exhibition of force on the part of this country. From his knowledge of the imaginative people of India, he should say that it was a great point to strike their minds by a display of force, and he should have desired the exhibition of force to be double of what it was proposed to be. He should have been glad to see the expeditious route of Egypt used for the passage of some 2,000 or 3,000 artillery, and war steamers with regiments sent out within ten days of the arrival of the news of the first occurrences in India. The exhibition of such a force 506 would have impressed the Indian mind with an idea of power far exceeding the visible force displayed. The main question to be discussed that night was, whether the military revolt was confined solely to the army, or whether it was a reflex of the national feeling. It became every one to speak diffidently upon causes operating on the minds of those so far away; but his clear opinion was, that the military revolters were merely acting in accordance with the feeling of their brethren throughout India. The army of India had benefited the most of all the Indian subjects under the rule of the Company. The pay of soldiers in other countries was below the ordinary wages of labour, but in India it was 100 or 200 per cent higher, and when his service was expired he had a good pension. Added to that, the soldier was drawn from a higher class than most European soldiers belonged to; he was drawn from the yeomanry of India, and while one brother went into the army, the other brothers remained at home to cultivate the farm; and the soldier remitted most of his pay home, and ultimately retired on his pay to join the family circle. Another fact was, that by the system adopted the East India Company, on economical grounds, granted large furloughs every year, so that a third of the armies were relegated to their homes every year, and thus continued closely connected with his family. Such being the advantageous position of the Native army, he felt sure that no personal motives had been operating on the Native soldiers to make them discontented. The origin of the disaffection which had exhibited itself must, therefore, be sought in other causes, and he quite agreed with the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire in his explanation of the causes, for he (Sir Erskine Perry) had himself, though in feebler language, brought the same arguments, illustrated by exactly the same quotations, before the House last year. He also then referred to Lord Dalhousie's policy, which he thought had been the main cause of all the evil. Lord Dalhousie, after he had been a few months in India, declared, on the occasion of the annexation of Sattara, that the Government ought to omit no rightful opportunity of annexing every Native territory that came within its grasp. This declaration was met by General Lowe, in his remarkable Minute, who showed how these annexations disaffected the Native population. But it was not only to that prescience of 507 General Lowe that he would refer, but he would also read to the House an extract of a letter, brought by the last mail, from one of the first administrators in India. The writer stated:—I lay it down, not as a principle, but as a certain fact, that every step we take in the policy of annexation is a step towards the termination of our connection with this country. Upon the military class of our subjects the action is twofold—first, they argue (and so does every native, whether we know it or not, even the poor fishermen in my yacht) upon the justice of each annexation; secondly, they are more restricted in seeking a career by service where their ambition and energies might find a harmless vent. Thus, they either remain discontented and ready to enter into any plot, and are constant in abuse of us, or they become, what is worse, a rottenness at the core of our power—discontented Sepoys.Let the House consider how this policy of annexation must operate on Native minds. Of course he had been compelled, in his judicial career in India, to search for motives for conduct, and he always found that the best mode of arriving at a conclusion was to look at the Hindoo as like ourselves, animated by the same motives which act upon human nature generally. Let them take a European nation exposed to the policy of annexation by a conquering power whenever occasion arose. What would be the effect of such circumstances on the Anglo-Saxon race, for instance? The right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire also put his finger on the right blot when he adverted to the extraordinary resumptions of land from private landholders which have been going on throughout India. It was no doubt true that a large portion of India had been appropriated by grantees, who held under manufactured titles purporting to have been granted by the Native princes of Delhi; but when the Deccan was annexed, Mr. Elphinstone, in a broad spirit of statesmanship, gave the fullest validity to those grants. At any rate, although there might have been frauds in some of the titles, after thirty or forty years' possession it was bad policy to put in motion a roving commission of inquiry, on which were placed young captains and lieutenants not sufficiently acquainted with the feelings and habits of the people. The President of the Board of Control had said there was no evidence that the Native princes had entered into any conspiracy. He (Sir E. Perry) had not heard the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire make such a statement. He must say that the right hon. Gentleman had shown a remarkable acquaintance 508 with Indian affairs, for he had never heard a speech in that House, from any Member who was unconnected with India, so entirely free from anything like error. What the right hon. Gentleman stated was, that the frequent annexations must tend to alienate the Native princes from British rule. Such proceedings could not fail to excite feelings of alarm and distrust, and they found, from General Lowe's statement, that throughout the Native principalities he heard nothing but complaints and murmurs of disaffection. There were two or three Native princes who were staunch supporters of the British under existing circumstances, and it might be said that we held our position in the North-West Provinces by the assistance of the Gwalior Rajah; but could it be supposed that that prince entertained any particular regard for the British Government, which, ten years ago, deprived him of half his kingdom? Why, then, was the Rajah assisting us? Because he believed we were strong, and feared that if he did not do so we should take the very first opportunity of annexing the other half of his kingdom. The Rajah of Putteealla was also one of our staunch supporters, but had he any cause to love British rule? A year or two ago he was anxious to visit England—a very natural desire in a Prince having £500,000 a year—but it was said that his request had been most peremptorily refused by the Company, and no doubt in affording us assistance he was actuated by motives similar to those which influenced the Gwalior Rajah. Among the landowners themselves—the zemindars and jaghiredars—disaffection was widely spread, and to show their feeling he would read to the House some questions which he had some months ago been requested to put to the President of the Board of Control on their behalf. The statement placed in his hands was in these terms:—The recent annexation of Nagpore and Oude and the rumours of the approach of other annexations (particularly Hyderabad and Baroda) have caused a general panic among the remaining princes and chiefs of India, who wish to know —1. Whether any fixed rule or principle is to be observed in making annexations in future, and whether any kingdoms are likely to be permitted to remain in the hands of their rightful possessors? 2. Whether the custom of adoption and right of inheritance of the Hindoo native chiefs and landholders of India can be secured for the future or not? 3. Whether any tribunal, with an appeal to the Privy Council, can be established for the trial of claims to the titles, power, and property of native princes for the future?509 These questions evidenced the feeling which existed throughout the country. Unfortunately, the governing doctrine of the East India, Company was that the possession of land in fee simple was a great evil in India, and that as land was the main source of taxation it would be injurious to the community to allow it to be parcelled out among independent owners. In support of this view the opinion of a servant of the Company, Mr. James Mill, had been quoted, and that gentleman contended that it was a great evil to allow land to get into private hands; but those who were acquainted with Mr. Mill's democratic opinions and his objections to a landed aristocracy, would not be surprised that he advocated such views. If he (Sir Erskine Perry) were correct in his belief that the disaffection of the Native army was merely a reflection of what was passing in the national mind of India, it was for the Legislature to consider what remedies should be adopted. There seemed to him to be only two modes of governing India. The first was by an exhibition of overpowering force; by repressing every intellectual movement, and by keeping the Natives of India in a state of utter subjection. To carry out this system it would be necessary to increase enormously the number of European troops in India, to exclude the Natives from all offices of trust, and to abandon all schemes for their education and improvement. The other course was to associate the Natives of India with ourselves in the government of their country; to identify the interests of the wealthy and influential classes with our own, and to pursue the system adopted by the Romans, who, under the Republic, admitted the natives of Asia Minor to all places of confidence and trust, and especially to civil offices. He was sorry to find that Lord Ellenborough—whose general views of Indian affairs were in his opinion extremely just—appeared to incline to the former of these courses. He (Sir Erskine Perry) believed, however, that such a mode of government would be utterly impossible in India under British rule. The men whom we sent out to occupy high positions in that country were embued with all the liberal opinions of the day, and they felt that they had a duty to perform to the Natives of India as well as to the mother country. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) had made some observations with reference to female education, in India, but he had misapprehended 510 the course which the Government proposed to pursue on that subject. Their intention was merely to encourage female education, and the Natives themselves were desirous of promoting that object. The President of the Board of Control appeared to think that those hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House who were anxious to improve the government of India wished to introduce European notions and institutions into that country. No one acquainted with the condition of India could suppose, however, that it was fit for anything like constitutional government. India could only be ruled by despotic power, and English institutions founded upon self-government would be wholly unsuited to such a country. What he and those hon. Gentlemen who thought with him maintained was, that in order to govern India well regard must be had to Indian as well as to British interests. Their object must not merely be to obtain an increased revenue, but to promote the gradual improvement of the Hindoo population. He wished the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli), with his weight in that House, his knowledge of the subject, and the power he had of expressing his opinions, had come forward at an earlier period and propounded his views on this question, for it was one which unfortunately had been too much neglected by statesmen in this country. Now, however, that the leading Members of the House had taken it up, he was satisfied that nothing but good could result to India from its discussion, and that a generous and wise policy, if that should ever prevail in India, would do more to retain the affections of its people than any course that had ever been adopted.
said, he thought the majority of the House would agree with him that the Government ought not at that moment to be embarrassed by Motions like that under consideration, but, on the contrary, were entitled to the thanks of the House for the vigour and determination which they were manifesting in meeting this emergency. He had heard with deep regret the speech of the right. hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli). Inexperienced as he was in Parliamentary debate, he must say that a more unpatriotic or injudicious speech he never heard delivered. The right hon. Gentleman had objected to the annexation of Oude; but had the right hon. Gentleman been in danger of losing his head as he (Mr. Campbell) was some years ago in 511 Oude, he would not perhaps have said so much against annexation. If the right hon. Gentleman should ever think of travelling in India in order to acquire information, or if he should have designs on the Governor Generalship of India, he would recommend him to destroy every copy of his speech of that night that he could lay hold of before setting foot in the country.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, the hon. Gentleman had assigned a reason for the annexation of Oude which, at least, had the merit of originality. The hon. Gentleman said he was on one occasion nearly losing his head when travelling in that country. If he had lost his head altogether, he (Mr. Whiteside) questioned if that circumstance would have convinced Parliament that Oude ought to have been annexed. What did the hon. Gentleman mean by saying that the House of Commons ought not to discuss this question at this particular time? What did the President of the Board of Control mean when he said, in the early part of his speech, that this was not a subject that ought to be discussed at this time? When would be the proper time, if not now? It would seem from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Vernon Smith) that they were not to discuss this question now because it was a time of war, and that, after the war was ended, they were not to discuss it, because it would then be a time of peace. That was not the view which Mr. Fox took of his duties as a Member of that House. With his matchless eloquence and daring spirit he hesitated not to express himself on subjects connected with India, whenever he thought it his duty so to do; and on similar occasions the greater genius of Burke was employed in the vindication of truth and justice. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, in the first instance characterized this as a miserable and trifling revolt, but yielding to his better judgment, towards the close of his speech, he said with truer feeling, that it was an event which affected the sensibilities of the nation, and disturbed the thoughts of every man in this city. He (Mr. Whiteside) had the good fortune to know the late Sir Charles Napier; he had heard him converse on subjects connected with India, and the distinguished soldier certainly did express himself in a very decided manner in reference to certain persons and things; but was he wrong in that? In these days it was a great objection to a man in a position 512 like that of the late Sir Charles Napier to speak frankly what he felt and thought; but if such a man shuffled he might get on, and might perhaps hope eventually to obtain the praise of the Government of the day. When Sir Charles Napier went to India to command the Bengal army a revolt took place of which the gallant soldier had written a minute and careful history. He found the men composing the Sepoy regiments were receiving letters in numbers such as they had never before received, and he was asked to open those letters, but with the spirit of a gentleman he recoiled from such an act. He received a communication from Sir Colin Campbell, who now possessed the confidence of the Government and of the country, and who at that time was the officer in command at Rawul Pindee, stating that he was apprehensive of a revolt there; and the correspondence which took place on that occasion between Sir Colin Campbell and Sir Charles Napier is printed. The result was that a gentleman now a member of the other House of Parliament—he meant Lord Melville—was ordered by Sir Charles Napier to march with a strong force to put down the revolt or mutiny in question. Sir Charles Napier gave such express and clear instructions in reference to that incipient movement of several regiments under Sir Colin Campbell that resistance became impossible. Sir Charles Napier found that at a distance of 500 or 1,000 miles the same facts and circumstances took place, at the same time as at the place to which his particular attention was directed, and he argued, therefore, a common design or conspiracy. When a regiment refused to receive its pay he marched the troops to Umballah, stripped them of their accoutrements, and substituted a Goorka regiment in its place. After Sir Charles Napier arrived at Kohat he was informed by the European officers, that a new regulation had been sent with regard to rations which would not be just to the Sepoys. He ordered the putting of the regulation in force to be suspended for a month while he communicated with the Governor General, and he had set down with sarcastic accuracy the amount which he proposed to expend, without authority, for the benefit of the country. It was £40. He received upon that the reprimand of the Governor General of India, and, like a man of spirit, he resigned. But Sir Charles Napier, a brave, experienced, and skilful commander, did not resign until he 513 had expressed decided opinions upon the Bengal army. A record of those opinions was left, and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control said they were entitled to respect. How had he respected them? In what way had the Government acted upon them? Sir Charles Napier said of Delhi that to guard against surprise, considering its position, its treasures, and its magazines, it should always be defended by 12,000 picked men. Was Delhi defended by 12,000 picked men? It would be said that it was very easy to be wise after the event. Some people were wise before and some after, and there were some who were wise neither before nor after the event. It was true there was a very great distinction between Bengal and Bombay. Sir Charles Napier never said that the Bombay army was in a state of disorganization. He said that it was composed of the finest troops in the world; that they were officered by younger, more ambitious, and more competent men than the Bengal army; and that they could not enforce the same system of promotion in the Bengal as in the Bombay army, because in the Bengal army the Sepoy was promised promotion after a certain period of service, and they must keep faith with him in that respect. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control seemed to think that no opinions had been expressed by military men confirmatory of the strong, decided, and unanswerable opinion of Sir Charles Napier. But, supposing that one or two of the gallant officers whom he saw before him had stated to the Government that it was their opinion that a particular branch of the service, the regiments they commanded, the division of the army whose conduct they had discovered was disorganized, demoralized, and disaffected, what would be thought of the Government who first employed those gallant officers, and then refused to act upon their evidence or their advice? It was not the fact that the condition of the Bengal army was not pointed out by military men besides Sir Charles Napier. He held in his hand the pamphlet of Brigadier General Jacob, who was now in Persia. Brigadier General Jacob was in Bengal, and he gave eight reasons why the Bengal army was not to be depended upon. If it would not disturb the gravity of the House too much he should like to show from the pamphlet the mode of relieving guard:—The eighth evil, the want of discipline, is the 514 necessary consequence of much that has already been described. In speaking of want of discipline I do not only mean that which is shown by serious mutinies and misconduct on extraordinary occasions, but also as evinced in the ordinary everyday routine of duty in the Bengal army. This is such as to be almost incredible by an officer of the Royal army, or of the other armies of India. The first thing done by a Bengal Sepoy when he mounts guard is to strip himself of arms, accoutrements, and clothing; the muskets are piled, and a sentry is posted, who remains generally (not always) properly accoutred, &c.; all the others, including non-commissioned officers, disarm and strip. If there be any water near, they go and dabble in it, after the fashion of all Hindustanees, otherwise they cover themselves with sheets and go to sleep; quite naked, mind you, with the exception of a langootee. When the sentry thinks he has been on duty long enough, he bawls out for some one to relieve him. After a while up gets a Sepoy from beneath his sheet, and after a few yawns and stretches puts on his clothes and accoutrements, but does not take his musket (that would be too much trouble, and endanger upsetting the whole pile); he then goes to the sentry, takes his musket from him, and occupies his place; away goes the relieved man and strips like the others.It was stated further that when Sir Henry Dundas insisted at Peshawur upon the guards being relieved daily there was considerable grumbling and complaining in consequence. Though differing from Sir Charles Napier upon many points, and speaking of Sir Charles Napier's farewell address as his farewell curse to the Bengal army, yet Brigadier General Jacob, who was a man of skill and enterprise in his profession, confirmed Sir Charles Napier in the most remarkable manner. Was that the only evidence which the Government had before them as to the state of the Bengal army? Lord Melville had an opportunity of ascertaining what the moral organization of that army was, and he trusted the House would never forget what Lord Melville had stated in his place in Parliament. Lord Melville was reported to have said, on the 13th of July,—Nobody could deny that the discipline of the Bengal army was of the worst possible description, and in that light it had been looked on by the late General Anson, who had in consequence, ever since he assumed the command of the army in India, deemed it his duty to represent to the Court of Directors the absolute necessity of increasing the European force in India—a recommendation to which, however, so far as the Government was concerned, no sort of attention had been paid. In proof of the statement that the discipline of the Bengal army was of the worst description he might inform the House that in the year 1849, shortly after the first occupation of the Punjab, when he bad commanded on the frontier, two Bengal regiments had mutinied, and when he had returned home in 1850 he had expressed the greatest disapprobation of the condition 515 of the troops of which that army was composed. He had, however, been told that, no matter how just his opinions on the subject might be, he must not give utterance to them in public, inasmuch as it was extremely undesirable that foreign nations should be acquainted with the real state of affairs. The result, at all events, had been that no steps had been taken in the matter by the Board of Directors, and that the discipline of the Bengal army continued to be of that character to which he had drawn attention.He never knew before that it was the policy of England to suppress the truth. The Government had the opportunity of ascertaining the truth, and did not do so, or having ascertained the truth they did not act upon it, but left the fate of India to the chapter of accidents, He thought the papers laid before the House, barren as they were, contained the condemnation of the Government. His argument was equally supported if he could show that the ruling powers in India were in possession of the information upon which it was their duty to act. In a paper dated the 19th of May, upon the subject of mutinies in the East Indies, he found the following passage, which emanated from the Government and Council:—The necessity for an increase of the substantial strength of the army on the Bengal establishment—that is to say, of the European troops upon this establishment—has been long apparent to us; but the necessity of refraining from any material increase to the charges of the military department, in the present state of our finances, has prevented us hitherto from moving your honourable Court in this matter.The ruling powers in India were long aware of the necessity of increasing the European force in the Bengal army, and being aware of it they suppressed their convictions. Ought they to be trusted with the government of an empire which, upon a miserable plea of economy, might be sacrificed? The India Directors had concluded the question, because they had acknowledged they were apprised of the dangerous state of the Bengal army long ago; and the following sentence in their despatch to the Governor General, dated the 10th of September, 1856, stated the reason why they did not do their best to prevent evil consequences resulting from it:—These considerations would have induced us to determine to allow two additional captains to every regular native regiment in our service, but in the actual condition of the finances we must confine ourselves to sanctioning your appointment of one additional captain and one additional lieutenant to every regiment of native infantry and cavalry of the regular formation in the three Presidencies, and of two additional captains and 516 two additional lieutenants to each European regiment.The truth was apparent that the Indian Government did not augment the army, on the ground that they could not afford to do so; and now, in accordance with the principles of modern economy, they spent millions where thousands or hundreds would have sufficed before. At the same time, they had propounded a problem which he (Mr. Whiteside) ventured to say never would be solved either until the Indian empire was lost or its government was changed. They said that the great problem which they had to decide was how they could maintain the discipline of the army while its officers were removed to civil appointments. That was a problem which he believed they never would solve. Sir Charles Napier stated that 658 officers in the army, which he had commanded, held civil appointments. Could any man say that an army could be properly commanded, or that it could discharge its duty efficiently if the most competent officers were withdrawn for the purpose of civil appointments? Sir Charles Napier had recorded his opinion that the thing was impossible, and every impartial man must agree with him that it was so. Financial reasons he had no doubt were at the bottom of this practice. If an officer received £600 a year in his regiment, and it was desired to fill up an appointment at £900 a year, the officer received an additional £300, and was called upon to do the duties of a civilian. £600 a year were thus saved, to be distributed among the favoured friends of that enlightened body—the Court of Directors. The Company dwelt upon the number of absentees from the regiments, and, having stated the difficulty of maintaining regimental efficiency when officers were withdrawn on detached employment, they said,—We have attentively considered the Minute recorded by the Marquess of Dalhousie, just before his Lordship's departure for Europe, on the augmentation of European officers required for the Indian army, in connection with several other Minutes on the organization of that army.He inferred from that passage that Lord Dalhousie, before he quitted India, had left upon record a paper in which he had recommended an augmentation of the European forces, which he (Mr. Whiteside) supposed had never been complied with, for a more extraordinary correspondence he had never seen than that which subsequently took place between the Horse Guards, the Secretary at War, the India 517 Board, and the Board of Control upon the question of whether four regiments or two should be sent out to India. Proceeding, however, in the regular order of events, he found that on the 2nd of April the Indian news published in London announced a partial revolt in India; and afterwards in the leading journal of this country there were many statements made of the condition of India. Then, on the 6th of May, there was a letter from the East India Directors, in answer to a communication offering them four regiments, in which they stated:—We have had the honour to receive your letter of yesterday's date, announcing, with reference to our letter of the 29th ult., that in consideration of the present uncertainty as to the duration of the hostilities in China, Her Majesty's Government have deemed it expedient to recommend the despatch of four regiments of infantry to India without delay. In reply we are requested by the Court of Directors to state that upon the understanding that two of these regiments are to be in substitution for two other regiments which had been intended as a relief to Her Majesty's 10th and 29th Regiments, but are required for service in China, and that Her Majesty's 10th and 29th Regiments will in consequence return to this country in the next ensuing winter, the Court will take immediate measures for obtaining tonnage for the conveyance of three regiments to Bengal—viz., one to supply the place of a regiment withdrawn without relief during the war with Russia, and two to replace the regiments above specified, which are on the Bengal establishment.Was that rational conduct, when they must have been aware that a mutiny had broken out in the Bengal army, and when they knew the opinion of military men with respect to the disorganization of that army? This was succeeded by a long letter from Lord Canning, which was highly creditable to the noble Lord, in which he stated that he had gone to the last limit that prudence and a sense of duty permitted him to go in sanctioning the withdrawal of three regiments for the Persian expedition, adding that it was natural that the withdrawal of those troops should make an impression on the Bengal army. If the Government did not judge as ordinary men would judge, from the facts presented to their mind, they were not fit to conduct the government of a great country. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control seemed to think that this was a mere military mutiny, but he did not deny the fact that a great many of these Sepoys were in the district of Oude, and he (Mr. Whiteside) had been informed by a gentleman nearly related to an officer who had commanded a regiment in that district 518 that the Sepoys had complained of the number of petitions about the land which they had sent in to the Government and which had been unanswered. It appeared that about 40,000 petitions had been sent in by the Sepoys respecting the proceedings as to the settlement of the land tenure in Oude. "They never will be answered," said the gallant gentleman to whom he (Mr. Whiteside) referred, "because they were not upon stamped paper," and he added, to the Sepoys, "You are aware that they are very slow at head-quarters; you'll get your answer in three or four years." These men were friends and connections of those who tilled the soil, and he feared if they had sent in thousands of petitions which had received no answer that that had made some impression upon them, and bore some relation to the awful transactions which had taken place in India. He (Mr. Whiteside) could not understand the argument of those who said that we must have a different mode of government in India from that which we had in this country. The principles of justice were of universal application; they were immutable; they were eternal; and they were as applicable to the people of India as to the people of England. Was it true that Hindoos of rank and character had been deeply hurt in their opinions in consequence of the change in the law of inheritance? He had been informed by the gentleman who had drawn up their petition against that change of the law—a petition which he should ask the Government to produce—that Hindoos of rank objected to it, not on religious grounds only, but because, by the domestic institutions of their country, a loss of caste deprived them of the inheritance of property, while the law in question annihilated caste, and thus gave the deepest dissatisfaction to the best Hindoo families in the country. With reference to the religious question, he did not understand complaints to have been made of the existence of missionaries in India. Far from it, for he believed that the Hindoos took pleasure in discussing questions of theology with individual missionaries, and he knew that the Americans, who had no territory in India, had missionaries there who had been very successful. The complaint, as he understood it, was in reference to a passage in the answer of Lord Canning to the memorial of the missionaries, in which he unfortunately said that they were quite right. Lord Canning's precise words were:— 519The progress made in the two years that have since elapsed may not be such as to satisfy the aspirations of zealous men, eager for the advancement of true knowledge, among the benighted people whose spiritual and intellectual enlightenment is the object of their daily care and labours. I do not blame their impatience; that they should watch and urge the Government of India in the carrying out of the great work of Indian education is not only natural, but commendable.That passage had been given to him (Mr. Whiteside) by a person who had resided all his life in Calcutta, and who said,—That is the passage which has alarmed the Hindoos, because they think that the Governor General is not leaving the missionary free to exercise his talents as best he may in promoting their conversion, but that he has announced to the community that he intends to exercise the authority of the Government in order to carry out the object which they have in view.There was no class in India contented with the existing laws or their administration, and after reading the speeches not only of the Earl of Ellenborough, but of the Earl of Albemarle and the Earl of Harrowby, he found it difficult to say that there was no ground for the complaints made upon that subject. He understood that the most eminent merchants in Calcutta were dissatisfied with the conduct pursued toward them in reference to the laws and tribunals to which it was proposed to subject them. The President of the Board of Control had received many deputations upon that subject; but, though very courteous in his demeanour, had never committed himself by promising them anything. Such being the state of things in India, he wanted to know how the Government would be able to satisfy the independent and reflecting Members of that House and the English community generally, that by sending out 20,000 men, taking Delhi, and destroying the rebellious Sepoys, they would be able to govern the country wisely and well. The President of the Board of Control had admitted that something should be done, and at the close of his speech he seemed to think that the issuing of a Commission, as suggested by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, would not be an undesirable course to pursue, provided it was recommended by the Governor General. So that the truth was ascertained and the grievances were redressed it was immaterial in what way the object was effected; but he submitted that when an awful calamity had occurred it became the duty of Parliament to probe the evil to the bottom, to discover what might have been 520 its cause, and by wise and prompt action to remedy abuses the existence of which no prudent or humane man could for a moment doubt.
§ MR. VERNON SMITH rose to correct two mistakes which the hon. and learned Gentleman had made in his very fair and able speech. He had not called the mutiny in India a "miserable" mutiny, while he had carefully guarded himself against stating that it was purely military. What he had said was, that it was impossible at the present moment to know all the causes which had contributed to the revolt; but he had added, at the same time, that the crisis was one of national importance.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I am one of those who had no wish that the House should enter into a discussion upon the present occasion; and I must say that in the presence of that which the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has called—I believe most truly—an awful calamity, I cannot conceive anything less tending to the advantage either of England or of India than such a discussion as the one in which we were now engaged, if it were to end as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire and the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen would seem to desire. Let us follow the hon. and learned Gentleman in what he has said. The hon. and learned Gentleman has found great fault with the Government for several things they have omitted to do; he has pointed to the President of the Board of Control as incompetent to discharge the duties of his office; he has stated that the condition of India requires immediate inquiry, and that, to use his own words, we must probe the evil to the bottom. But let us see what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire said in the latter part of his speech. He told us that for the present he would content himself with moving for papers, but that he had pointed out the grievances of India, that he thought the Crown should be brought into closer connection with that country than it has hitherto been, and that it should be declared that Her Majesty had no interest in the oppression of the Natives, the violation of the law of adoption, in the disturbance of titles, or in the violation of the religious feelings of the people. What is to be the result of all this? Is it to be, as the right hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen seemed to indicate, a vote of censure 521 upon the Government for the course they have pursued? or, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested, some strong measure declaring that the Government of India has hitherto been a tyranny and an oppression, that Her Majesty is about to put everything to rights, and that henceforth India shall be immediately connected with the Crown? Neither of these things is proposed—nothing, indeed, but that we shall require the production of two papers, one of which does not exist, and the other of which is immaterial for the purpose for which it is asked. If this be, in truth, an awful calamity,—if the state of India is enough to affect the heart of every man in England with anxiety and apprehension—it is sufficient that the House of Commons should have a debate leading to no result? Are we to be satisfied with now blaming the East India Company, now blaming the Government, now blaming Lord Dalhousie for a policy which has been pursued during the last ten years, and that we should separate without any declaration as to what is to be done at the present time? Such, as it appears to me, is not the course which the House of Commons ought to adopt. I should be sorry, as this debate has been brought on, if we were to separate without some declaration upon the very important subject before us. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, in his very able and eloquent speech, went over many of the incidents which, he thought, showed the misgovernment of India. He pointed out the injustice done to the Native princes by setting aside the law of adoption, the disturbance of the landowners in their titles, the disquietude of the soldiers with respect to their privileges and territorial possessions; but, in dealing with these topics, upon which he dwelt with great knowledge and felicity, the right hon. Gentleman never ventured to say that the great mass of the people of India are suffering under oppression. Princes are discontented, many of the landowners are so also, the soldiers are discontented—but of the great body of the people we do not hear that they are oppressed. Let us see what are the general merits of the case which the right hon. Gentleman has put before us. In speaking of its general merits I do not mean to say that in several of the instances quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, as well as in some of those cited by the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, the Governor General or the Government of 522 India may not have been in the wrong. I am not prepared at the present moment—I do not think the House is prepared to come to a definite judgment upon many of these points. With regard to the Native princes, one thing has often struck me in considering the proceedings of Lord Wellesley in India, and his dealings with Native princes, and that is, that some of those whom he left carried, as eastern potentates are apt to do, their tyranny to an extreme, and would long ago, by a series of violent revolutions, have been hurled from their thrones if they had not been living under the protection of the British Government, whose power would be used to support them against any popular outbreak. This is a subject to which I think the Governor General of India was bound to turn his attention. I do not say that in every instance we have done right in taking away power from those princes; but I am convinced that if we had allowed them to continue to oppress their subjects under the protection of British troops, and so have compelled the people to resist their authority by force, we should have brought great evils upon India. Again, with respect to the ownership of land, no doubt we should think an inquiry into titles in this country very oppressive; but, as the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen says, the rules of justice are universal, and if it should appear that in England there were a number of pretended landowners who had forged titles, and who were oppressing their miserable tenants under fraudulent representations of titles which were not valid, I should not, in that case, feel surprised at the institution of an investigation. The observations which I have already made are equally applicable to the annexation of Oude. It is impossible for us to say in this debate and at the present moment that any wrong has been done to the people of that territory by the act of Lord Dalhousie; on the contrary, I am not sure that they have not greatly benefited by the change which has taken place. With regard to the treatment of the soldiers, I own that that subject requires considerable investigation. There are, no doubt, great difficulties attending it, but I do not think that either past Governments or the present Government can be said to have adopted every means in their power to preserve discipline. I believe it is true that not only Sir Charles Napier, but the Duke of Wellington and 523 Lord William Bentinck have given opinions unfavourable to the discipline of that part of the Indian Army which has just mutinied; but my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Control says very justly that it would be impossible to hold India and our conquests there, with respect to the propriety and justice of which there has been no question to-night, by European troops alone. The Bengal army was therefore created. That army is found much less efficient and much more costly than it ought to be. Attempts were, from time to time, made to place more European officers in the regiments. Two things have counteracted these attempts. In one, I think, Lord Ellenborough and, I rather believe, Sir Charles Napier were as much in fault (if fault there were) as any person—namely, in taking away the best, the most competent, the most judicious of these officers, the men best acquainted with the Natives, from their regiments and putting them in civil and political situations. There were persons (and Lord Ellenborough was one) who, I think most unjustly, decried the civil servants of India, than whom I believe there are no men more eminent in political and civil stations. A certain set of persons were always crying out, "Why don't you employ the military?" Well, if that course is adopted, the natural consequence must be that you weaken the discipline of the army—you weaken the moral force of the European part of the Indian regiments. There is another thing to which my right hon. Friend has alluded—namely, a change in the customs and manners, and a change also partly owing to the rapidity of communication, to which no Government can apply an adequate remedy. When men went out in the days of Warren Hastings, or even in the time of Lord Wellesley, and adopted the Indian Service as their profession, they became completely Indian in their feelings and habits; they past the best part of their lives in India; they eared nothing about the politics and little for the events which were taking place in England; they were entirely absorbed in Indian affairs; in the revolutions and the wars of that empire and their habits were those of the country. Well, these were men likely, at all events, to know the character of the Indian soldiers. They were likely to enter into their feelings, and from the superiority of European civilization to have a considerable influence over their minds. Now, however, 524 things are changed. Young men go o India; they hope before long that they shall get back to their native country; they receive the English newspapers constantly; they get letters from home twice a month; their feelings and habits remain English; and that being the case, they cannot condescend to enter into the feelings of the Natives, and to show that sympathy which existed between the two races in former times. This, of course, is not the fault either of the East India Company or of Her Majesty's Government; it s one of the changes which have taken place in the natural and uncontrolable course of events. But I own it appears to me that we have trusted rather too much to Indian troop—and to Indian troops of one particular kind—and have bad too large an army altogether. My right hon. Friend, I think, spoke of 300,000 men. We have often had 250,000, and the number may now be greater. But I should think an army of 50,000 Europeans, with 100,000 Natives, would be a far better security, so far as force is concerned, for our Indian empire than an army of 300,000 men, of whom 30,000 are Europeans and 270,000 Natives. In that respect I think some change is desirable. But there are other changes, some of which have been suggested in former debates and hinted at again this evening—changes in the way of reform, in the better administration of justice in India, in the establishment of a better police, and I must add (in spite of what has been said by the hon. and learned Gentleman) in the more general diffusion, of education. Changes of this kind ought to be prominent in every future government of India. I do not say it is a matter of blame that the East India Company have not done more—they have been gradually introducing improvements and removing causes of complaint. But the hon. and learned Gentleman said at one moment that justice was of no country, that it was of all countries, and then he went on in the next breath to blame the Government—for what? For saying that a man who changed his religion should not forfeit his property in consequence of that change. Why, I have always heard it reckoned as the most barbarous and cruel part of the penal law in Ireland that a Roman Catholic was subjected to the loss of his property if a person came in and said he was a Protestant and on that account claimed the property of the other. It would appear, 525 then, that although, as the hon. and learned Gentleman says, justice is of all countries, yet what we should think wholly barbarous here is a law which ought to exist in, India, and it is his opinion that we must modify our sentiments and take care not to go on too rapidly, lest we affront the prejudices of the Natives of India. Now, all this is really a matter of very great difficulty, because these prejudices meet you at every step, and therefore her Majesty's Government and the East India Company must at every step carefully consider how far they can with safety go. Whatever we may do in the future, however, I own it strikes me that the first matter upon which the House of Commons ought to pronounce any opinion is that the Queen's Government ought to be supported. I have differed from them with respect to several matters not immediately Indian, but connected with the East—their Chinese and Persian wars—but there is no question of these wars at the present time. The question of this evening is the government of India, and I do submit to this House that we ought not to be satisfied with the grant or refusal of an insignificant paper or despatch, but that, the question having been raised and placed before us, we ought to come to some decision which may give strength to the Government in the efforts they are making, while at the same time we ought likewise to express our desire to support any measures which will tend to ameliorate the state of India and conduce to its permanent tranquillity. I shall therefore move—That an humble Address be presented to her Majesty, to assure her Majesty that this House will cordially support her Hajesty in any efforts that may be necessary for the suppression of disturbances in India, and in any measures that may be required for the permanent establishment of tranquillity and contentment in that important portion of her Majesty's Dominions.Some expression of sentiment of that kind appears to me to be necessary. It is a moment of great anxiety, and the House of Commons, if it interferes at all, should, I think, interfere in a manner worthy of itself, and should show that, while we are not appalled by the peril, it is our earnest desire that her Majesty's subjects in all parts of her empire should live under a just and enlightened Government.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "An humble address be presented to Her Majesty, to
assure Her Majesty that this House will cordially support Her Majesty in any efforts that may be necessary for the suppression of disturbances in India, and in any measures that may be required for the permanent establishment of tranquillity and contentment in that important portion of Her Majesty's Dominions," instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, he had been at some trouble to prepare himself upon this Motion, but he assured the House that his labour had been entirely thrown away, for so little indication had its terms afforded him of the line which would be taken, that in no single instance had he referred to the authorities proper to enable him to follow the right hon. Gentleman. All his poor resources, therefore, were unavailable, and he had now to apply himself anew to what had occurred during the debate. He had not been prepared to find the right hon. Gentleman so ready to point out the causes of the unhappy state of affairs in India. There had been nothing from the Government of India to show the causes of the outbreak, and even the best-informed authorities in this country professed themselves at a loss to account for it. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had perspicuity enough to ascertain those causes, but not altogether correctly, as he (Mr. Mangles) believed; for it happened that every one of the reasons assigned by the right hon. Gentleman broke down upon examination. The facts of the case, indeed, were quite opposed to the theory which he had set up. The right hon. Gentleman said this was not a mere military mutiny, but that it was the reflection upon the Sepoys of the discontent felt by the Native princes at the treatment which other Native princes had met with. Unfortunately, however, for his argument, all the facts led to an opposite conclusion, for it happened that none of the Native princes had taken part in this outbreak, but all of them had sided with the Government, and some of them—as the Rajah of Gwalior—had rendered the most valuable assistance. Then, again, the right hon. Gentleman said the landowners were dissatisfied; but the fact was, that with one or two exceptions, the landowners and zemindars had freely offered their aid to the Government. The same was to be said of the native inhabitants of Calcutta. In truth, so far from this being a national revolt, the simple truth was that where there were no Sepoys there had been no revolt. 527 There were many Stations in Bengal and the central Provinces where there were no Sepoys, and in all those places the authority of the Government, up to the date of the latest advices, had been completely maintained. Even in Oude, which had been referred to as the focus of disorder, that gallant soldier and valuable public servant, Sir Henry Lawrence, had driven off, with a small body of Europeans and artillery, a mutinous Sepoy regiment; and not one of the Irregular Regiments, with the exception of the wing of one, had joined the mutineers. He had seen in the newspapers a letter from Colonel Baird Smith, dated from the upper part of the Doâb, describing how, when deserted by his Sepoys, he patrolled the country with a few European officers, and was received by the Natives with the utmost enthusiasm. All the accounts that had been received from the disturbed districts showed that those who had fled naked and wounded from Delhi and other Stations had been received by the Natives and zemindars with the greatest kindness, and conveyed to Agra and other places of safety. In the Punjab, one of our latest acquisitions, where, if anywhere, a spirit of dissatisfaction might be expected to prevail, not a finger had been raised against us; and he had seen letters from Sir John Lawrence, Mr. Montgomery, Colonel Abbot, and others, in which they stated that the population was with us to a man, and were daily bringing in mutinous Sepoys who had deserted their colours. At the present time a large additional force was being raised in, the Punjab, and the whole of the regiments raised in that Province had remained faithful. Surely those facts were at variance with the theories of the right hon. Gentleman. But, supposing there was any truth in the causes assigned by the right hon. Gentleman for the outbreak, every one of those causes existed in 1853, when the Committe upon Indian affairs was sitting. The right hon. Gentleman was a member of that Committee, and if he believed that the East India Company and the then Governor General (Lord Dalhousie) between them were ruining India, he ought then to have brought those causes under the notice of Parliament, when they could have received that full investigation which it was impossible could be given them now. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to be in regard to Indian affairs something like a stormy petrel—he never appeared save in times of 528 difficulty and danger. He (Mr. Mangles) had never heard the right hon. Gentleman open his lips about India since the Cabul occurrences, at which time he carried a free lance on the outskirts of Sir Robert Peel's government, and spoke in most indignant terms of the disasters at Cabul. Now, he had made his appearance again upon the unhappy mutiny of the Sepoys. But why, if he took so warm an interest in the good government of India, did he not give better attendance to the Committee of 1853? He (Mr. Mangles) very seldom had the pleasure of meeting the right hon. Gentleman in that room. But that was the time to have investigated and amended all the grievous errors of administration which the right hon. Gentleman saw so clearly and deplored so strangely. But—to return—another reason which had been assigned by the right hon. Gentleman for the present disturbances was the dissatisfaction of the Native princes with the suppression of the system of adoption; but the fact was there had really been no such suppression. Adoption was necessary in cases where there was no heir in existence for the due performance of certain religious rites, and with that arrangement the Indian Government had not interfered. What had been done was that, in certain cases and under certain circumstances, the Indian Government would not permit kingdoms or principalities to pass by adoption. In the case of the Rajah of Sattara, upon which so much stress had been laid, what were the facts? The Rajahs of Sattara were descendants of Sivajee, the founder of the Mahratta empire; but the descendants of Sivajee had long been put aside by the Peishwas, who ruled the country much in the same way as the Mayors of the Palace ruled France when the descendants of Clovis were the nominal sovereigns. The unfortunate Rajah, at the time we conquered the Peishwa, was a captive closely confined, if not actually in chains. It was then the policy of the Government to set up the descendants of Sivajee in order to conciliate the Mahrattas, and the Rajah was made a prince upon condition that he should do nothing—not even marry—without the consent of the Indian Government. In fact, he was not a sovereign at all, but a mere puppet set up by the Indian Government for political purposes. Hon. Gentlemen laughed, but surely that was better than being imprisoned. This foolish lad chose eventually to rebel against British power, and for 529 that offence he was deposed, and his brother succeeded him. His brother died without heirs, but on his deathbed he adopted a son who was not even a descendant of Sivajee, though he was descended from some one higher in the line of ancestry. So little did the boy whom he adopted expect that adoption that he could not be found when the Rajah was dying. He had gone out birdcatching or on some other boyish pursuit. They had to hunt for him up and down. The British Government refused to recognize him as the successor of the Rajah. And that was one of the great hardships which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire had described with so much unction. It was remarkable that the only two remaining Mahratta Princes—Holkar and Sindiah—had rendered us assistance. The case of the Rajah of Berar was still stronger than that of the Rajah of Sattara; for he died without making any adoption. His widow did; but that adoption was not by the Hindoo law a legal one. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the East India Company must have known the state of the Sepoy army, for they had such ample warning. Upon that point he (Mr. Mangles) would call Sir Charles Napier— "the fiery Napier"—into court as his witness. His right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Control had not done his own argument on that subject justice, or anything like justice. His right hon. Friend had quoted Sir Charles Napier as to the stature and personal appearance of the Sepoys, but he might have gone much further and have shown what Sir Charles Napier thought of their state of discipline and trustworthiness. In the first place here was a general order, dated the 16th of January, 1853, upon the trial of a Native Serjeant of infantry, in which Sir Charles Napier said:—I have seen most of the armies in the world, and I have never seen one that was better paid or better cared for than the army of the East India Company. Never have I seen a more obedient or more honourable army, and I will not allow a few discontented malignant scoundrels to disgrace the colours of their regiments by an insolent attempt to dictate to their Government what pay that Government shall give soldiers towards whom it has always been just and generous.But that was not all. An hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken slightly of Lord Dalhousie, in relation to his difference with Sir Charles Napier as to the payment of 530 the troops. Was that hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Duke of Wellington investigated that question and gave a verdict upon it? He believed he was not, and he would therefore read a few of the words which the Duke of Wellington used on that subject. The Duke said:—The Governor General was right. I have no hesitation in stating my opinion that there exists no sufficient reason for suspending the order of the 15th of August, 1845; that the Governor General was right, and did no more than his duty in expressing his disapprobation of the Commander in Chief in suspending the order of the Government in relation to paying the troops and ordering the adoption of a formally repealed order.The Duke of Wellington then gave his opinion in favour of the Governor General; but of course on military matters the Duke was not so high an authority as the hon. and learned Gentleman. In Sir Charles Napier's Report on the military occupation of India, dated the 27th November, 1849, was the following passage:—The defence of our Indian empire is confided to four distinct armies (Queen's, Bengal, Madras, and Bombay), consisting collectively of about 300,000 fighting men and 400 pieces of field artillery, ready for war, without including those of position, mounted on forts, and lying in our arsenals. This is a vast army, and it is in a good state of discipline, complete in its equipments, full of high courage, and a high military spirit reigns through all ranks. It is also necessary to say that this force could be doubled without any injurious pressure on the population, and that every part of India can furnish recruits in abundance. Our service is extremely popular, and the troops faithful to a proverb. There are some things which admit of correction, and these may be put right when the Commander in Chief is placed on a proper footing, but not till then.In a subsequent passage of his Report, Sir Charles Napier said:—I have heard that Lord Hardinge objected to the assembling of the Indian troops for fear that they should conspire. I confess I cannot see the weight of such an opinion. I have never met an Indian officer who held it, and I certainly do not hold it myself; and few men have had more opportunities of judging the armies of all three Presidencies than I have. Lord Hardinge saw but the Bengal army, and that only as Governor General, and for a short time. I have studied them for nearly eight years, constantly at the head of Bengal and Bombay Sepoys, and I can see nothing to fear from them except when ill-used; and even then they are less dangerous than British troops would be in similar circumstances.Was that a warning? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) had spoken of the grievances of the Sepoys, and had quoted Lord Melville as an authority. Lord Melville had certainly spoken disparagingly 531 of the state of the Bengal Sepoys, but he did not say that they had any grievances to complain of. The truth was, that the only grievance which did exist was one of which the Government itself had to complain, and that was, that they had been so much indulged that their discipline had been affected. He (Mr. Mangles) believed that Sir Charles Napier said what was perfectly true when he stated that no body of men in the world—certainly no body of soldiers—had ever been so indulgently and over-kindly treated and bad had so little grievances to complain of as the Sepoys. He believed that they had been spoilt. But he did not believe that this mutiny was a matter of discipline; it was the work of a frantic fanaticism on the part of some of them who would not listen to explanations, and who acted like madmen because they fancied that the Government intended by force or fraud to deprive them of their caste. The Bengal Sepoy was a simple-minded and almost childlike person. He was taken from the best description of the agricultural classes, and he (Mr. Mangles) would stake the little reputation which he had as to a knowledge of India, that when the facts of the case came to be known it would be found that the frightful atrocities which had occurred had not been committed by the Sepoys at all, but by the prisoners released from the jails, and by some of the bad characters that congregated at the bazaars and other places of that sort. The men were mad from a fear that their caste was to be interfered with, and were scarcely masters of their own actions. The right hon. Gentleman, in his eagerness to get at the causes of this mutiny, did not wait until the matter was reported upon by those in India who were best qualified to form an opinion upon it. Yet, strange to say, he had not hinted at the hypothesis that these men might possibly have been acted upon by some foreign or extraneous agency. Nobody in this country was competent at this moment to speak positively on such a point; but from all that was known of the habits and general fidelity of the Sepoys it might fairly be suspected that they had been acted upon by extraneous influence of some kind or another He entirely agreed with what the right hon. Gentleman had said as to the Christian missionaries. While these missionaries were entirely unconnected with the 532 Government, and went among the Native population simply as preachers of the truth, the purity of whose lives was generally known, their labours would be viewed not only without jealousy, but with respect by the people of India. The real danger to be carefully guarded against was a belief on the part of the people of India that the Government aided and abetted the missionaries. The Government should give no assistance, direct or indirect, to the missionaries, but should simply stand by and see that they were not wronged or persecuted. At the same time the Government ought not to remain inactive in regard to the moral and intellectual advancement of the people. A great Roman had said, "If it were never dangerous to do right, who would ever do wrong?" It was not safe, perhaps, to put down the suttee and the sacrifice of children, which were once so common in India, but which were now suppressed by law. It was a mistake to suppose that the society in Calcutta to which allusion had been made was anything new, or dated no further back than Lord Dalhousie's time. It existed thirty years ago, before the suttee was abolished, and it had petitioned Parliament to restore to the Hindoos the privilege of burning their mothers. Parliament, however, not deeming the denial of such a privilege a serious grievance, wisely refused to accede to their prayer. So, also, it seemed a most atrocious thing that a man who changed his religion should be deprived of his property. Surely, it was not a very cruel hardship that a man should not be suffered to rob his brother because that brother chose to profess a different creed. [Mr. WHITESIDE interposed a remark.] The law to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred did not touch the question of caste. It simply declared that no man should lose his inheritance on account of a change of his religion. It was alleged that the Indian Government had resumed endowments of land once dedicated to the support of the Mahomedan religion. That was a total error. All such endowments were held sacred by the State, and never interfered with. He would not trespass further on the time of the House at that late hour, but, in conclusion, would merely thank them for the kindness with which they listened to him.
§ MR. LIDDELL
could not sit quietly in his place while such an attempt as that of the noble Lord the Member for London 533 was made to set aside this Motion. The noble Lord's Amendment was wholly incongruous to the Motion. That Amendment asked them to do that which no doubt every man in the country would cheerfully do at such a moment of peril—namely, to support Her Majesty in maintaining the brightest of her territorial acquisitions; but the Motion of his right hon. Friend asked for information, which was yet denied them, as to the causes of the late disasters. The contents of the meagre papers already furnished to the House did little more than suffice to show that there were proclamations and other official documents still behind which the people of England had a right to see. He therefore wished to know from the Speaker whether it was not competent for the House, while cordially agreeing in the noble sentiment of the Amendment, at the same time to press her Majesty's Government for the information which they were entitled to demand.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:— Ayes 79; Noes 203: Majority 124.
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he had no wish to stand between the House and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) who had risen at the same time. He had moved the adjournment of the debate because he thought the question was one of such vast importance both to India and to this country, that it ought to receive the full and deliberate consideration of the House; but after the strong expression of opinion which had just been given he would not enter upon the subject, as it was impossible to do justice to it at that hour of the night. He must, however, tender to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) his ackowledgments for the great service he had conferred, not only on this country, but on India, by the admirable manner in which he had placed before the House all the great questions that affected the welfare of India, every one of which was worthy of a separate debate. To show the true causes of the mutiny would require considerable time and greater attention than the House was capable of at that late hour, and he should prefer to give way therefore to the right hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, that he also regretted that the debate on a subject of so 534 much importance should be disposed after so brief a period given to its consideration; and was much surprised that so little prominence should have been given in the debate to the commercial view of the Indian question. The key to the solution of the difficulty was afforded by one word which had been introduced by the noble Lord into his Amendment—the "contentment" of the people of India. Depend upon it they would never prosper in this matter by force of arms. Unless they could induce the people of India to see that their interests lay in their relations to this country, they would never obtain a permanent hold upon them.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I had no personal interest in the division which has just taken place. Having, by the kindness of the House, had an opportunity of expressing my views on the condition of India, which must now for some time occupy the attention of the country, and considering that the Motion for the adjournment came from the other side of the House, I think I should have acted not only with discourtesy, but also with a want of fairness, if I had not voted for it. I am content to have had an opportunity of expressing in my place in Parliament my general views on the condition of our Indian empire, and I do not look upon the decision of the House, whichever way it may go, or in whatever form it may be demanded, as being really an incident of any importance in the matter. The future is hid from us, and until that future is revealed, it is impossible to arrive at any satisfactory decision on these great events. I had no wish, therefore, to solicit from the House any definite judgment; but I thought it of the last importance that the House of Commons, under such circumstances, should show to the country that it has given its diligent attention and consideration to events of such startling importance and interest-as those which have occurred in, India. I must avail myself, under these circumstances, of my privilege for a few minutes to make some remarks upon the observations which have fallen from different hon. Members in the course of this debate, and as they shall be very few, I will at once refer to those which are of a personal nature. I can assure the President of the Board of Control that he labours under a great misapprehension if he supposes that I accused him of displaying levity in the answers which he made to me on a former occasion in reference to this 535 subject. As I am not in the habit of preparing any expressions which I use in this House, I would not myself venture to say that I had not made use of particular words, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that nothing was more foreign to my feelings than to attribute anything of the kind to him, and my friends around me tell me that they were perfectly unaware that any such expression had fallen from me. I certainly did think, and I retain my opinion, that the manner in which the information from India was first received by the right hon. Gentleman, and on a subsequent occasion noticed by one of his Colleagues, did convey to me the idea—which is shared, I believe, very generally by the House and by the country—that the Government did not attribute that importance to these events which they deserved. That is a point which, after all, time must decide, and I am not prepared, and I never wished, to force the House to give an opinion on it. It has been said of me—and I hope the House will absolve me from egotism in referring to it—that this is a new-born zeal of mine in the affairs of India; and the hon. Chairman of the East India Company said of me that I was the stormy petrel of Indian affairs, inasmuch as I never made a speech on them except when they were in a disturbed condition. These are observations easily made and easily believed by a majority probably of the House. I cannot suppose that there are many Gentlemen who have watched my career with such critical minuteness as to be able to say whether the allegation is a true one or not; but, as it has been made, I may be permitted to observe that it has not the slightest foundation. Certainly, I can say with respect to Indian affairs what I suppose every Gentleman who has had a seat for some time in this House can—that it is not a subject which one gets much encouragement to meddle with in this House. The observations of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mangles) were a little inconsistent, because he owned himself, in the course of his speech, that on the occasion of the disasters in Affghanistan, I, occupying then an insignificant position in this House, did endeavour to attract its attention to the policy and to the causes which had produced them. But the hon. Gentleman says that circumstances having placed me in a more influential position, I did not exhibit that zeal for which I am now desirous of gaining credit in Indian 536 matters. In 1853, the hon. Gentleman says, I never favoured the House with any opinion upon India. But what is the fact? In 1853 not only did I trespass upon the House at almost greater length than I have done to-night, but I did all that I could to prevent the renewal of that charter to which the hon. Gentleman owes the position which he at present occupies. It was at my instance that my noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) brought forward the Amendment which, if it had been carried, would have prevented the renewal of that charter, and I supported him to the best of my power. The hon. Gentleman says that I was not a very frequent attendant on the Indian Committee of 1853. That sounds very well in debate, but when you come to analyze the facts—and I feel that I really must ask the House to excuse me for entering into these details—you will find that the result, so far as the interest which I took in India is concerned, is exactly the reverse of that which the hon. Gentleman wishes the House to infer. It so happened that the inquiry into the expediency of renewing the charter of the East India Company took place when I was in office. The right hon. Gentleman then at the head of the Board of Control (Mr. Herries), did me the honour to consult me—as I had then the direction of the business of this House—upon the form and mode in which that inquiry should be made. We finally decided that there were seven heads of inquiry which it was important should be entered into by the Committee before its decision was arrived at. The first head was as to the form of government; the next referred to those great questions upon which I have touched tonight—the revenue, the tenure of land, the interference of the Government with the religion of the Natives, and other matters of that kind. The first head of inquiry was entered into during the year that I was in office. I sometimes attended, and though the pressure of business was heavy upon me, I kept my attention fixed on all that took place before the Committee. Next year, when we were out of office, the Government which succeeded us came to the conclusion that, although the Committee of the House of Commons had only investigated one of the seven branches which we had fixed upon—namely, that referring to the mere form of government—the question of that double government, on 537 which the country took so much interest,—yet it was absolutely necessary for the security of our Indian empire that we should without loss of time legislate, and enter upon an investigation of the other branches of inquiry after the Act had passed. My noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn then brought forward his Amendment—the mildest and most moderate which could have been proposed. All my noble Friend asked was that the House should not legislate until all the heads of inquiry had been entered into and reported upon. I supported him in that Motion, but we were defeated, as we always were when we took a view of Indian affairs opposed to that which continues to exercise so fatal an influence. The hon. Gentleman now says that I did not attend the Committee. But can a man occupy a less satisfactory position than to be a Member of a Committee of the House of Commons to inquire what shall be the new government of India when the House of Commons, before that Committee have half concluded their inquiry, have already decided the very form of government that shall be adopted? Why it was a perfect mockery. I admit that from the moment the House of Commons passed that Act I no longer attended the Indian Committee. The hon. Member acted otherwise, and if there is the slightest doubt on the subject I answer for the worthy Chairman that he was sedulous in his attendance upon that defunct and obsolete society for inquiry into what was already decided on. I have been obliged of late to refer to evidence then received upon such subjects as the levying of revenue and the tenure of land, and if the House want to see an apology for unalloyed and unmitigated confiscation they have only to turn to the evidence of the worthy Chairman, He has now explained everything that has occurred by what he terms the "frantic fanaticism" of the Sepoy. It is difficult, perhaps, exactly to define what "frantic fanaticism" may be, but when I listened to the worthy Chairman the other night, assuring us that his mission was to convert the whole of India to Christianity, I think that was frantic fanaticism. Commend me to this candid avowal of the Chairman of the East India Company, when the existence of our Indian empire is at stake. I now come to the answer of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control. I had expected that the right hon. Gentleman might have adverted to those features of Indian society, 538 history, and life, which I ventured to place before the House, and the importance of which I endeavoured to impress. But the right hon. Gentleman passed these circumstances almost without notice. He treated them as old stories. But it is because they have been heard before—because they are old stories—because they are permanent and enduring causes of misrule—that I brought them before the House. If they had been the accidents of the hour they would not have produced the events that have startled the most powerful country of the world. But the great defence of the right hon. Gentleman to the comprehensive view I endeavoured to take was an assurance of his ignorance. The right hon. Gentleman says—"I will prove that we had no warnings. I will prove that we, the Government of Great Britain, that I, the Minister of India, were more completely ignorant of the state of India than you imagine." The right hon. Gentleman spoke with all the simplicity that the Marquess of Hastings said was peculiar to Indian potentates. I had thought it quite possible that the right hon. Gentleman had no information on the subject, but with good-natured irony I gave him credit for some. At one time, indeed, I thought it just probable that with this double Government—rather with this Cerberus to watch over the affairs of India, the Government at Calcutta, the Government in Leadenhall Street, the Government in Cannon Row, and all the complicated contrivances of this vast machine—I thought it just probable that the right hon. Gentleman might have succeeded in obtaining a glimpse of light and some slight fragment of information. I did not think it right to assume that in these events which have alarmed a country and endangered an empire there had been in official quarters the gross ignorance which appears to have prevailed. The right hon. Gentleman denies that he knew anything, he protests his ignorance with a plaintiveness that is irresistible, and a pathos that I yield to without further struggle and argument with a Minister who, so far as India is concerned, would wish us to believe that his Government is the most purely ignorant Government, and therefore the most incapable (because there are some who believe that capability does depend upon knowledge)—the most uninformed Government that ever presumed to influence the destinies of that country. The right hon. Gentleman has suggested that this debate is of no use. The noble 539 Lord the Member for the City of London, who is not a stormy petrel, but rather the halcyon brooding on the waters, and who, when the Government is in any difficulty, produces a calm—a conciliatory calm—the noble Lord, too, does not see the use of this debate—he does not see what practical end is to be gained by it. Why, Sir, have I not suggested a measure that may have inconceivable influence on the future—the issuing of a Royal Commission; and have we not had an admission from the Government not only that the proposition is politic and practicable, but that they are not sure that this proposition may not have already been decided on. Is that a debate without a result? But then the right hon. Gentleman says that if we have a Royal Commission we must have a master mind at the head of it. The right hon. Gentleman says, "It is all very well to recommend a Royal Commission, but can you find a master mind?" I am not surprised that Her Majesty's Ministers, after the admissions they have made, should find some difficulty in discovering a master mind. But I venture to observe to the Government, that for the duties I wish the Royal Commission to perform no master mind is necessary. The possession of those high qualities that command the confidence of nations, the assertion of those principles that enchain the affections of mankind—these are what we want. What India wants is not a master mind, but the assertion of truth and justice by the sovereign power of the country. Let it be announced by the highest authority of this country, that you will no longer sanction the violation of right, that you will respect your engagements, and take care that those who are your subjects shall enjoy their just privileges, and rest assured that you will do more than all the devices of all the master minds to secure the tranquillity of India. I come now to the notice that I have placed on the paper. The right hon. Gentleman says that I have moved for the production of one paper that does not exist, and of another paper that cannot be produced. Now, as to the first paper that does not exist—I read in an Indian newspaper a year and a half ago—to which, therefore, it cannot be objected that it was an article produced with reference to these events—a detailed account of a document drawn up by General Anson on the state of the Bengal army, and submitted by him to the Governor General. The military 540 service is congratulated upon this step on the part of General Anson. The paper is said to include the proposed constitution of the staff, and many other particulars are given. The writer awaits with the greatest anxiety, he says in conclusion, the decision of the Governor General on the subject. The person who wrote the article did not know the form of the document, and does not say whether it is a minute or a despatch. All that I could do, therefore, was to give as good a description as I could of that document, thinking that no Minister would make a technical objection to its production, and that if it were in his possession it would be placed before the House of Commons as a paper of importance. Now I have no moral doubt that a document of that description is in existence, and was presented to the Governor General of India. So much, however, for a document which is said not to be in existence. Let me next advert for a moment to that which will not be produced. The Report of General Napier, according to the noble Lord the Member for London, is immaterial and insignificant. Has the noble Lord, let me ask, read that Report? If not, how does he know that it is immaterial or insignificant? I myself have not seen it, but I know those who have read and conned it and are familiar with it—men of as high character and station as the noble Lord—and who assure me that it is most material and significant. I think it therefore of the utmost importance that that document should be laid before us; but instead of it, and as a substitute for the Report of General Anson, a man who has just died in the service of his country, and which, therefore, if produced, would give us some business-like information—and instead of the Report of General Napier, a man of extraordinary genius and resource, we are, it seems, to have one of those dry constitutional platitudes which, in a moment of difficulty, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London mechanically pulls out of the dusty pigeon-holes of his mind, and shakes in the perplexed face of a baffled House of Commons. The noble Lord's is one of those Amendments which nobody can support and which nobody can oppose. What idea, I would ask, can expressions so vapid give to this country, to Europe, or to Asia, of the feelings, the thoughts, and the opinions of the House of Commons at this moment? We are in difficulties—and we are to hasten to the 541 Throne, and announce a constitutional common-place? Either the Government should come forward with a policy, or the House should obtain information. I fancy the House would think it inexpedient that any one, at the opening of an emergency like this, should attempt to thrust his own opinion on them: but it is our duty by discussion to obtain a becoming knowledge of our position. We ought not to bring the debate to a close by asserting that which is, after all, nothing more than a mere routine sentiment. So far as I myself am concerned, I am satisfied that an opportunity has this evening been afforded me of stating, however imperfectly, my views as to the policy which we ought to adopt with regard to our Indian empire. The future must decide as to whether these views are or are not correct, I shall no longer contend about the miserable question whether two papers should be laid before this House, or whether we should accept the Amendment which the noble Lord the Member for London has submitted to our consideration. I shall rest satisfied with having placed upon record, before we return to our respective constituents, the principles which in relation to the important question in debate I profess, and the policy which I believe will be ultimately adopted.
in explanation of the expression which had been used by the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, to the effect that he (Mr. Mangles) believed it to be his peculiar mission to convert the people of India, said that he had never made any statement so foolish. Upon the contrary, he had simply observed, upon the occasion to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, that the Government of India should scrupulously abstain from all interference with religion, but had added that he thought that country had been placed by Providence in our hands in order that we might be instruments in His hands for ultimately spreading Christianity throughout the millions by whom it was inhabited.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
proceeded to say that he had not, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire had stated, applied the words "immaterial and insignificant" to the Report of Sir Charles Napier. He had observed that he believed the Report was immaterial to the decision of the question at issue, but he had not used the word "insignificant" at all, nor could it ever be applied to anything 542 emanating from a man of such high repute as Sir Charles Napier.
MR. T. BARING
said, he had been a member of the Committee which had sat in 1852 and 1853 to inquire into the affairs of India, and which the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Buckinghamshire, had charged with having abrogated its duties. Now the right hon. Gentleman was quite right in stating that the measure renewing the charta for India had been laid before the House of Commons before the labours of the Committee had been brought to a close; but he should remind the right hon. Gentleman that the point upon which the measure had mainly rested, namely,—whether the system of double government should or should not be continued, had been previously to the introduction of the Bill thoroughly investigated. The various other points connected with the subject, however material they might be, related merely to questions of administration, which could not have interfered with the passing of the measure. The Committee had no doubt in the course of their inquiry not been favoured with the attendence of the right hon. Gentleman, subsequent to the introduction of the Bill to the notice of Parliament; but he (Mr. Baring) could not help thinking that if the right hon. Gentleman had then entertained the opinions which he had that evening advanced, he would have done far better in giving expression to them before the Committee than in confining himself to suggesting to the noble Lord the Member for Kings's Lynn (Lord Stanley), the Motion for postponing legislation to a future year which he had submitted to the notice of the House. He (Mr. Baring) could not refrain from expressing his astonishment that the right hon. Gentleman, who seemed to regard the labours of the Committee as having been a mere farce, had not sought to give those labours efficiency by bringing under the consideration of the Committee the views which he himself entertained. Indeed, the only explanation which he could give with respect to the importance which the right hon. Gentleman appeared that evening to attach to those views which he must be held to have regarded as insignificant in 1853, was, he thought, to be found in the fact which had been stated by the hon. and learned Member for Devonport (Sir Erskine Perry)—namely, that the whole of the speech which they had heard from the right hon. Gentleman was the very same as he himself had made last year. 543 The eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman was, it seemed, nothing more than the thunder of the hon. Member for Devonport. Be that as it might, however, he (Mr. Baring) could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman had kept his opinions to himself until the present crisis had arisen—a moment when it was desirable that the utmost confidence should be exhibited both by that House and by the country in the efforts of the Administration. He, for one, could not approve the course which the right hon. Gentleman had taken. The speech which he had made that evening would go forth to the country, and it would be seen that a man possessed of the great talents and the commanding eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman was of opinion that that there existed so many causes for the mutiny which prevailed in India as to justify the revolt of the entire population of that empire. The right hon. Gentleman, in effect, proclaimed to the people of India that their Government was bad, and that they ought not to rest satisfied until they had effected a change in that Government. It had, indeed, been his misfortune to differ from many of the views upon the subject of India which the right hon. Gentleman entertained; but upon no former occasion had he differed so widely from the right hon. Gentlemen as with reference to the policy of the course which he had that evening adopted. That course had, at all events, produced one good result—it had given rise to the statesmanlike and patriotic Resolution of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, to which he hoped the House would assent.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman appears to be satisfied with his speech. I myself cannot pretend to answer for the opinions of other persons, but I must for myself say that I regret that a gentleman who possesses the talent of the right hon. Member for Bucks, and who holds such a prominent position in this House and in the country, should have selected a moment of great difficulty and anxiety to bring forward this Motion. I myself shall not go further into the subject than to say that I am content to stand upon the speeches of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Control and of the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of the Court of Directors (Mr. Mangles), and to leave those two speeches as antidotes to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I shall not, at this late hour, enter into the main question, or detain the 544 House by repeating statements which have already been made; but I must say, with regard to one paper moved for by the right hon. Gentleman—namely, an assumed Report from General Anson (the right hon. Gentleman states that he has read that Report in an Indian paper: I do not dispute the fact)—I can only say that the Government are not in possession of such a Report, and therefore it is not in their power to produce it. With regard to the Report made by Sir Charles Napier in 1849, that Report undoubtedly does exist. The right hon. Gentleman says that he has never seen or read it; he can only suppose what it is. Now, I have read every word of it, and I can tell him what it is not. It is not a Report of the organization of the Indian army, but a Report, detailed, elaborate, and carefully drawn up, showing how to defend our Indian possessions against outward attack—showing where one place was more exposed than another—where weakness existed, and where security was peculiarly needful—in short, all those suggestions which foresight, precaution, and sagacity could recommend. To extracts from those papers—to such extracts as it is proper to publish, and as the House would think it proper to publish—Her Majesty's Government have not the slightest objection. But the House, I feel sure, would not be inclined to publish any document which it might be for the detriment of the public service to promulgate. I may say, however, that so far from this document being calculated to induce or warrant the Government in coming to the conclusion that the Native army of India would not be faithful to the Crown and Company, they had letters to anticipate exactly the reverse. It was stated in that document that the Indian army was faithful, that it was well disciplined, and it went on to complain that, owing to some objections for which no solid ground had been shown, the Indian army was not brought out in sufficient numbers for exercise. The writer said, with respect to the Bengal troops, that large masses of them ought to be exercised together. He scouted the idea of danger, and only counted that such exercise would promote their efficiency. I am satisfied that the House of Commons, having considered and discussed the present affairs of India, will not be content to separate on this the first discussion of the subject without carrying to the foot of the Throne an assurance to Her Majesty that She will receive their earnest and cordial 545 support in any emergency which may occur, and that they will take into their consideration measures for the purpose of placing on a permanent footing the tranquillity of that part of Her Majesty's dominions. I am glad, therefore, that my noble Friend, than whom there is no one more fitting to deal with such a matter, in the Amendment he has moved, has struck the key-note of the public feeling in this matter, and I hope that the House will think it proper that they should not separate this night without voting unanimously for the Amendment of my noble Friend.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
wished to advert to what had just fallen from the noble Lord. If he understood the noble Lord, the hon. Member for Guildford, in reading to the House what he (Sir J. Pakington) believed to be extracts from a blue-book, had, in fact, been reading part of the very paper for which his right hon. Friend had moved, and which the Government had refused, and which was not, therefore, a public document. The noble Lord must be aware that it was a grave irregularity for a Member to read such a paper in such a manner, and after that the noble Lord could hardly refuse to produce it. Having received private information with regard to the contents of the paper, and of the value of its contents, he had listened with surprise to the statement of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), and though the noble Lord had forgotten that he used the word "insignificant," he (Sir John Pakington) could assure the noble Lord that he took a note of it at the moment. He hoped the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) would now make the paper in question a public document by laying it on the table of the House.
§ VISCONT PALMERSTON
The right hon. Baronet has mistaken what I said. I said that the substance of that part of the paper which related to the organization and discipline of the Indian army had been stated, and that I was ready to produce extracts of that part of it. I apprehend that there is no irregularity in reading to the House any paper which has not been produced, provided that the person reading it is ready to lay it on the table. I am ready to lay what has been read on the table, and I have given the reasons why the other part cannot be produced.
§ MR. DISRAELI
With the permission of the House, I will move only for extracts from that paper to which the noble Lord has referred.
§ GENERAL THOMPSON
said, he rose to note that in the debate no notice had been taken of what was the most important part of the question, the breach of military faith and honour with the soldiers of the Native Indian army. The debate had been the play of Hamlet with the part of Hamlet left out; and there was an audi alteram partem which ought to be, and would have been, brought forward if an opportunity had been given.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put and negatived.
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente,
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to assure Her Majesty that this House will cordially support Her Majesty in any efforts that may be necessary for the suppression of disturbances in India, and in any measures that may be required for the permanent establishment of tranquillity and contentment in that important portion of Her Majesty's Dominions.