HC Deb 19 July 1859 vol 155 cc31-51

said, he rose to call the attention of the House to that portion of the Report of the Commissioners upon the Indian Army which referred to the amount of force to be maintained in future. He should hardly have had the courage to detain the House, even for a very short time, in such weather, had he not found that in the opinion of many of those most versed in Indian affairs this really was a matter of vital consequence. The proposal of the Commission was that an army of no less than 190,000 sepoys should henceforth be maintained, with 80,000 European troops, making a total force of 270,000 soldiers; and it was highly important to observe that this force was quite independent of the military police corps, of which the Commissioners said that "They have been formed, or are in course of formation, throughout India; and, neither in numerical strength, nor yet in military organization, does this force differ in any essential respect from the regular Sepoy army." Now this military police force, scarcely differing, as the Commissioners said, from a regular army, amounts already to 97,000 men, and was rapidly increasing, so that before long we should have a force of something like 400,000 men in arms, of whom more than 300,000 would be natives. Now, it might seem very presumptuous for a civilian like himself to throw any doubt upon a proposal emanating from a Commission composed of ten distinguished generals. Nor could he venture to do so. All he wished was to draw attention to the subject, so that at any rate it might be thoroughly sifted; for, whatever the counterbalancing arguments might be, no one, he supposed, would deny that the evils and risks attendant upon the maintenance of so vast a force would be most serious. At the outset the financial aspect of the matter was, he might fairly say, alarming. Every thoughtful statesman, he believed, felt the greatest anxiety as to the financial prospects of India. In spite of all the expedients that could be devised it seemed impossible to make both ends meet, except by means of loans, and he need not say how shortsighted—in the long run how ruinous—it would be to depend on that delusive aid. So far from their being in a position to aggravate Indian taxation, all those most intimate with that country urged emphatically the importance of lowering the taxation from its present height. There was no doubt that in Southern India, at any rate, the cultivators of the soil were oppressed almost beyond bearing by the assessment on land. Mr. Kaye, the celebrated advocate of the East India Company, said, "It would be well that it should be clearly understood how, at the bottom of all our misdoings and all our shortcomings, is this miserable want of money." He would dwell no further on this point, because he was well aware that no man who knew anything of Indian affairs would dispute the vital importance of bringing her finances into a better state. But if they were to keep up a force of 270,000 soldiers besides military police corps throughout India it would be impossible to avoid financial embarrassment. The people would be still more crushed. Those public works from which so much was hoped for the happiness of India would be brought to a standstill. In short, a heavy blow would be dealt to the best interests of the empire. Now, of course these evils would have to be cheerfully encountered if they were necessary to the security of our dominions. But, he put it to the common sense of every gentleman here whether, in organizing and arming a body of about 300,000 Natives, they were not running headlong into a fearful risk. That, at any rate, was the view of many men of high authority. But the Commission seemed to think that it had fully guarded against that risk, by proposing a force of 80,000 Europeans to keep the Native troops in check. The experience of the mutiny, however, showed but too clearly that the presence of even an overwhelming British force, that even the impossibilty of success, that even the certainty of destruction, would not keep a Native regiment from mutiny if it once had caught the infection. Of course he allowed that, if they were to put arms into the hands of 300,000 Natives, they must have 80,000, or perhaps 150,000 Europeans to suppress, even if they could not prevent mutiny. But it must not be supposed that by such a force of English they secured themselves from an explosion. And it was again matter for serious thought that the maintenance of so great an European army, which would be necessitated by the maintenance of so vast a Native army, would involve a really awful sacrifice of life and health to those English soldiers. No one who had not had occasion to look into that point could have an idea of the waste of life that would ensue. To use the words of one of the witnesses before the Commission, "The sacrifices in men and money caused by the climate are astounding,"—"the medical statements would almost stagger belief." In fact, Colonel Tulloch's statistics showed that out of a force of 80,000 English nearly 6,000 would perish every year. But the permanent loss of health to thousands upon thousands more was no less painful to reflect upon. It seemed inexpressively mournful that so many of our brave defenders should perish miserably on the plains of India. A grave responsibility therefore rested on those who made a proposal tending inevitably to that result, unless the necessity for it could be shown to be a real and dire one. But further, the replenishing of so large a force, and one dwindling away so quickly, must seriously interfere with the recruiting for the home army. Colonel Tulloch proved that if all the proposals of the Commissioners were carried out, there would be just 30,000 annual passages of soldiers between India and England; and as the voyage took four months, this gave a force of nearly 10,000 men always at sea, whose services therefore would be utterly lost both to England and India. He knew that very great doubt was felt by those competent to judge whether it was not literally impossible to keep up the force recommended by the Commission without dangerously skimping our home defences. He thought it would be allowed that these were serious considerations. But of course the question was, what there was to counterbalance them, and here the Commission left us altogether in the lurch. On one of their other proposals they launched out into very long arguments, but not a single word did they say in support of this proposal. In one of his letters to his brother Joseph, the great Napoleon said, "There never was a general who did not cry out for a large army." And as the Commission consisted of ten Generals and only one civilian it was perhaps but natural that they should recommend the employment of a large force. He doubted however whether that House would be disposed to receive their ipse dixit as conclusive. But perhaps it might be thought that, although the Commission did not reason the matter out itself, it gave the conclusion from the reasonings of the witnesses who were examined. But it was the fact, and a very remarkable fact, that in no one instance did the Commissioners inquire from any witness the grounds of his opinion as to the amount of force. Nor after long and patient search through the blue-book had he been able to discover one instance in which any witness volunteered such an explanation. Was it thought, on the other hand, that although neither the Commission nor the witnesses reasoned out the question, still the proposal of the Commission was founded, if not upon reasoning, yet upon the greater number or greater authority of the witnesses whom they called before them. Quite the reverse. For instance, the Commissioners recommended 50,000 Europeans for Bengal; yet out of the twenty-seven witnesses examined on that point, eighteen recommended a force varying from 20,000 to 45,000, but largely below 50,000, while only one third recommended 50,000 or upwards. But, what was most remarkable, they proposed 15,000 Europeans for Bombay, although not one witness recommended so large an amount, and General Griffith, who seemed to have gone fully into the question, only demanded a force of 7,000. And again, as to Madras, they recommended a force of 15,000 Europeans, though Earl Canning placed the amount at 11,000, and no single witness went beyond, except a civilian named Thomas. Thus it would be seen that the proposal of the Commissioners was not borne out by the bulk of the evidence which had been given before them. Amongst those who recommended a smaller force than that which the Commissioners named were General Pollock, General Low, General Ashburnham, General Sir Arch-dale Wilson, General Jacob, General Cotton, and others. Now, it would be absurd to doubt that arguments of some kind or other must exist in favour of the proposal of the Commission; and as it was a matter on which no human being could have any personal or party feeling, he had sincerely endeavoured to make out what those arguments were. Though foiled in his study of the blue-book, he had made inquiries among gentlemen of large Indian experience, but wholly without success, and he had in vain exerted his humble ingenuity to the same end. Would they be told that the object of this force was to escort treasure? He found the Commander-in-Chief speaking with some indignation of what he called "the most unnecessary guards and escorts required to be given by the army," and one officer of great experience declared that the whole system of escorts could be put an end to by giving orders on the Native bankers, instead of sending backwards and forwards vast amounts of treasure. Would they be told that the army had great police duties to perform? That was true formerly; it was true no longer. Those duties were to be devolved on the police corps that were being formed throughout India. The only object, then, of this army was to defend the country from some enemy. Where was that enemy to be found? No one dreamt of an invasion from Thibet. The wild tribes on our northwest border could be repelled by a small force supplied with Enfield rifles and Armstrong guns. There was literally no risk lest India should be invaded. The only motive that remained for keeping up this vast force was to secure our dominion from a domestic foe. But he again put it to the common sense of every hon. Gentleman who heard him, whether, instead of making ourselves more secure, we did not run a fearful risk by arming and organizing a body of nearly 300,000 Natives? What was the lesson taught us by the mutiny? Was it not this, that while we had nothing to fear from the unarmed population, the troops whom we had trained and armed might at any moment fly at our throats? We knew now for certain that this danger was a real one, that it was a portentous danger—a danger against which no precautions could insure us; and yet, with all the horrors of the mutiny still fresh in our recollection, we were actually going not merely to restore our Native army to its former strength, but to render it a great deal more powerful. Who could wonder that Indian statesmen should stand aghast at what he had heard one of them characterize as "so monstrous a proposal?" Presumptuous as it might have seemed to him to call attention thereto, he thought that he, or any man, however obscure, had the right to ask what the grounds were for a proposal which bore on its very front the strongly marked likelihood that it might lead to a renewal of the unspeakable horrors of two years ago. He now challenged the noble Lord the late Secretary for India, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the late Secretary for War, as the two Commissioners who sat in that House to furnish that explanation. He was very glad to have the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) to appeal to, because, if he in his heart disapproved the proposal made by his brother Commissioners, he was the last man to shrink from saying so. On the other hand, if there were some occult arguments which had satisfied him, they would be likely to set the minds of others at rest as well. But, as left by the blue-book, the case stood thus:—This proposal was not supported by one word of argument. It was condemned by the greater number and by the greater weight of the witnesses. It must lead to financial embarrassment; it might lead to financial ruin. It would again defer the long-hoped relief to the starving cultivators of the soil. It would stay the progress of education and of public works. It would involve a fearful sacrifice of life and health to the English troops. It would interfere with our home defences. Above all, it would prepare the materials for an explosion that might again fill India with carnage and ruin. In conclusion, he would beg the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, to inform the House what were the reasons on which the proposal of the Commission was founded.


rose to reply.


intimated that there was no Motion before the House.


said, he would move that the Report of the Commission be laid on the table.


There is no Motion before the House.


I move that the House do adjourn.


Sir, I will avail myself of the opportunity now afforded me to answer as briefly as I can the question put to me by the hon. Member opposite. The hon. Gentleman has challenged me to state whether my opinion agrees with or differs from that of the Commissioners generally on the subject of the amount of military force which ought to be maintained in India. Upon that point I will merely say that I do not believe it is possible for any set of men in this country, whether they be civilians or military men—I doubt whether it is possible for any set of men even in India—to lay down positively and precisely what is the amount of force, not at the present moment required to maintain tranquillity in India, but which will be wanted when the disturbances have entirely ceased, and when peace is completely restored. That is a question which does not admit of a precise reply, and when the hon. Member says that the Commissioners have adduced no arguments to show that 80,000 Europeans are required to preserve peace in India, I do not know in what manner you are to argue the question, or to prove that the exact number required is 60,000, 70,000, or 80,000, otherwise than by taking the opinion of the most experienced and competent witnesses whom you can find, and ascertaining what is their view as to the amount of force which is sufficient to maintain tranquillity in the various districts in India. But when the hon. Member says that, in the recommendation the Commissioners have offered, they have gone against the evidence which was laid before them, I should like to state in half a dozen words what the substance of that evidence is. I have looked through it to-day, so far as the number of European troops is concerned, and I find that of the witnesses, General Low gives a force of 45,000 for Bengal; Colonel Wylie, a force of 40,000; Captain Browne, 40,000; Sir G. Clerk, 50,000; Colonel Master, 40,000 to 50,000; Sir S. Steel, 40,000; Sir C. Trevelyan, 40,000; and Colonel Durand, who was sent over from India by Earl Canning, expressly to represent the views of the Indian Government, forty-five battalions, which, I presume, means 45,000 men. The recommendation of the Commissioners, expressed in very general terms, was that something like 50,000 Europeans would be required for Bengal. With respect to the whole of India, Major Baird told us that in his opinion 80,000 Europeans would be required; Colonel Felix gave the number at 60,000; Sir R. Vivian at 60,000 to 70,000; Colonel Holland at 60,000; while the Earl of Ellenborough thought we ought to have 60,000 local European troops, I have also had an opportunity of ascertaining what the opinion of Sir John Lawrence was upon the subject, and no man either in India or England appeared to me to be more strongly impressed with the necessity of maintaining a large and even a preponderating force of European troops. As for the number which may be required at a subsequent period, I do not think it can be denied—no one who sat upon the Commission desires to deny—that a considerable reduction may and ought her after to take place when certain results have been attained which are at present only in course of attainment. No doubt, when you have connected all the principal military stations in India by railroads, when those comparatively new acquisitions, which form so large a portion of your Indian Empire, have been consolidated and become accustomed to your rule, and when that disarmament, which is now in progress in several provinces in India, has been more effectually and extensively carried out, such a military force will no longer be required as at the present moment, and for some time to come, will be wanted to maintain the tranquillity of the country. But I do not think it can be said with truth that a powerful military force is not now required in India. If you take the actual population of India, including those Native States over which England exercises a military supremacy, and compare it even with that large force of 300,000 men which has been referred to by the hon. Member, you will find that the proportion borne by the army to the population is considerably less than in the majority of European States. But I repeat now what I stated on a former occasion, that the recommendations of the Commissioners were directed to the military question—that they were offered subject to many qualifications—and that it was never intended to act upon them irrespective of financial considerations. A force so large as that mentioned in the Report of the Commissioners, may, in the present state of Indian finance, be greater than the revenues of the country could bear; and if so, you may be justified in incurring one risk to avoid a greater, and in maintaining an amount of force, lower than that which you would think expedient with a view to the preservation of tranquillity. With respect to what has been actually done, I am able to say that very urgent instructions were sent out from this country, and have been repeated on more than one occasion, to the effect that a considerable reduction should be made in the number of Native troops. The Native force, when I last received any official account of it, was larger than at the outbreak of the mutiny. But this has not been the result of any pre-conceived plan, nor has it arisen from any intention to replace the old Native army by a new one of equal extent; it has taken place simply because in the actual circumstances of India, the Government were obliged to take soldiers wherever they could find them, and could not disband them until the danger had gone by. However, there is a considerable reduction now taking place in the number of Native troops, and that diminution will be carried much further. But with respect to the question of expense, I should say that a Native force is by far the least costly, the calculation being that one European soldier costs as much as eight Natives. I do not think the House would desire to go into details on the present occasion, and therefore I will merely repeat, in conclusion, that while the Commissioners have stated what amount of European troops is required in a military point of view, they at the same time, I conceive, would readily admit that their views ought to be largely modified by those financial exigencies which at the present moment press so heavily upon the Government of India.


said, it was clear that the course adopted by the late Government had altogether failed in settling the great question of the reorganization of the Indian army. The Military Commission they had appointed had produced a most unsatisfactory report, or rather two reports, for there were two, one of which was opposed to the other; and it was for the House to consider which of the two should be adopted. Although the question to be determined was far more a civil than a military one, inasmuch as it embraced considerations not only of finance but of the principles of Government to be adopted in India, the Commission consisted of a number of generals and only one civilian, and of its military members the majority were not at all acquainted with India. The consequence was, as one might see from every line of their Report, that the main subject present to their minds was not the Indian army, or the interests of India, but the British army, and the interests of their profession, He complained, also, that the Commissioners kept out of sight the views of Indian officers. From having brought forward some years since a Motion for the amalgamation of the two armies, he knew the opinions of Indian officers upon the subject, and that what those officers dreaded above all things was, the influence and favouritism of the Horse Guards; and yet it was a fact that, although the late Secretary for War, who, as Chairman of the Commission, acted impartially, ruled that inquiries respecting the Horse Guards and the sort of appointments they made in India might be addressed to the witnesses, the Indian general (General Hancock) who had expressed a wish to ask such questions was not allowed to put them, and accordingly he made a separate report. In that report he has had the courage to put on record his opinion as to the jobbing displayed in placing in the chief commands in India men incapacitated from age, infirmity, and inexperience. Whether the military force in India should be a force of the line, or a local force combined with a detachment of the line, was a question which had been left by the Committee altogether in doubt. He was very glad to hear the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) give in his adhesion to what was the almost universal opinion of those who were acquainted with India, that for the good of India, and for carrying on the administration of government without collision between different departments, it was desirable to have a local European force. Her Majesty's Government had not yet expressed any opinion on the subject, but proceeding upon his recollection of what fell from the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) when his measure for India was before the House, he (Sir Erskine Perry) had little doubt what the opinion of the Government would be when it came to be expressed. The question of the army of India was one that went so deeply into questions of finance and questions of government that he hoped to be forgiven if he should dwell somewhat more at length upon it. There were two theories prevalent in Indian circles as to the mode of carrying on the Indian Government. The one was that Natives were so thoroughly untrustworthy, so false to their European masters, and so unreliable, that in order to prevent a sudden outbreak of rebellion, it would be indispensable that we should keep up an overwhelming European force. During the last two years, accordingly, that force had been raised to three times what it was. There were now 111,000 European and 270,000 Native troops in India, altogether, as his hon. Friend said, nearly 400,000 men under arms. These views, even if they were sound in policy, would yet be altogether incompatible with the present condition of India. The revenues of India were not sufficient to meet the expense, and England, as the Crimean war had proved, could not furnish the men. As regarded the question of finance, they knew that even before the outbreak of the rebellion the expenditure was greater than the revenue. The rebellion itself had cost the country no less than £40,000,000, and before all was paid for the permanent charge upon the revenues would be upwards of £3,000,000 per annum. It was clear, therefore, that instead of an increase of the permanent military forces, the better opinion was that which recommended a reduction of the number of our gigantic army to limits which the country could bear. That object could only be attained by carrying out the second theory to which he had referred—namely, by governing with the co-operation of the Natives, by engaging their sympathies. That was the opinion which his twelve years residence in India had implanted in his bosom. He felt it was impossible that our system could endure if the Native was to be religiously excluded from every place of profit and honour in his own country; and he had accordingly, on every occasion that offered, advocated the introduction of a more liberal policy towards the Natives by employing them in places suited to their abilities. He hoped that the late rebellion had taught us many valuable lessons. And he appealed particularly to the Conservative side of the House in behalf of the Native landholder and gentry. What was the system which we pursued with the Native army? Our system was to give high pay to the rank and file, more than double the amount which could be gained by a day labourer; and to provide excellent pensions for those obliged to retire from the ranks, making it thereby the best conditioned army in the world, as far as regarded the common soldier. But it also excluded the Native gentleman from every field for the exercise of his ambition and the employment of his abilities. Now the system had completely and confessedly broken down. He was satisfied that the employment and encouragement of the landed gentry of India was the best security which we could find for the future. The corps to which they were admitted formed not only a better but a cheaper force than could be obtained from Native troops drilled and equipped on the European model. The Native cavalry, for instance, equipped and drilled in the European manner, cost us £102 per man, whereas the Native irregular regiments commanded by Native Gentlemen, cost but £35 per man; and he (Sir Erskine Perry) did not hesitate to say before the present and the late Secretaries for India that the irregular forces were by far more efficient and serviceable than those tightly dressed dragoons, drilled and equipped after the model of the Prussian cavalry. Lieutenant Merewether's evidence before the Army Commission will be found most interesting. He had commanded a corps of Jacob's horse, and he spoke of the efficiency and trustworthiness of these irregular forces in the highest terms, and testified to his readiness to face any foe with them in any quarter of the world. They had achieved deeds of renown on every field where they had been employed in India and in Persia. Sir John Lawrence, in the Punjab, acting on a similar opinion, raised ten battalions of irregulars, in which only five Europeans were employed, the corps otherwise being officered by Sikh and Mahomedan gentlemen. That corps had done signal service to the Queen of England. It was on these grounds, and with that experience before him, that he (Sir E. Perry) contended that we ought to give encouragement to the Native gentlemen, and engage their sympathies by the same liberal policy as we should wish others to pursue to ourselves if we were overrun by a triumphant enemy. Let the House look to the French in Algeria, where we heard of their employing Arab generals in command of native troops. That course also had been recommended by the ablest men that had appeared in India. Sir Charles Napier was in favour of it, and set them the example by the employment of two Native gentlemen as aids de camp in places of equality with Europeans. General Hancock strongly recommended the formation of corps of cavalry, which would cost them £35 a man instead of £102, and of infantry, at an expense of £15 a man instead of £25. And when it was said that that system would endanger our supremacy in India, his answer was that our supremacy depends upon our own just government, and on non-interference with the religious views of the Natives. Let the House attend to the solemn opinion of Sir John Lawrence, who is often cited by those anxious to introduce the Bible into all Hindoo and Mahomedan schools. In a paper lately laid before the House, he states that he did not trace the slightest sign of conspiracy in the late rebellion, but that it was all founded on the fears of the Native soldier that it was the intention of Government to interfere with their religion. He (Sir E. Parry) would give as another reason for the outbreak the exclusion from offices of profit and command that was so rigidly enforced against native Indians. In future the government of India must be made more congenial to the feelings and wishes of the people. In this country we acted on the principle of justice to all classes, whether Churchmen, Dissenters, or Roman Catholics, and non-intervention with the religious opinions of any class. If this principle were acted on in India that empire would become a great blessing to this country, and civilization would at the same time be widely diffused. He was not sanguine as to our being able to establish very good government in India, because we were so different from them in race, colour, habits, and religion that real amalgamation was well-nigh impossible. Nor is the fault entirely on our side as a race of haughty conquerors, much is owing to the unsocial character of the Hindoo. They would not eat with us, or drink with us, or intermarry with us. Their amusements are [not our amusements, their social life is wholly different from that which we lead. But with all these drawbacks, he believed that England by the observance of just principles, and by the same strict neutrality in matters of religion, which is adopted towards Dissenters, Catholics, and Jews in this country, would introduce a better system of government than India had ever known. He trusted that the right hon. Baronet, who bad got the power into his hands, would carry out the same liberal views with regard to the army that he had formerly shown in the case of the civil service, and that by attending to those principles of justice that were as strong in the Hindoo mind as in our own, by opening the way for them to offices of trust and profit, and presenting to them a fair field for legitimate ambition, he would promote the true interests and happiness of India.


said, he thought the country was indebted to the hon. Member who had raised this question, for it was a question on the proper consideration of which depended the future conditions of the finances of India, and by association the finances of this country. He would confine his observations, however, to the one subject before the House—namely, the number of European troops necessary to be maintained in India for the future government of that country. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) had expressed himself as being at a loss for any basis on which to come to any definite conclusion as to the number required for that purpose. But if the noble Lord wanted such a basis, he needed not to go further than the traditional policy of the East India Company. Now, what was the traditional policy of the East India Company? In the year preceding the outbreak of the Affghan war, the number of Royal troops in India was 16,040 infantry, and 3,711 cavalry; being a total of less than 20,000. Two years later, in consequence of the number of troops sent out from this country, the number of the infantry was raised to 25,000, and the cavalry to 4,000, still making a total of less than 30,000 of the Royal Army. The Company's European troops had risen from 15,000 to 20,000 men, so that from the period of the Affghan war down to the outbreak of the late mutiny, the number of European troops was always under 50,000. In the year 1857, when that outbreak occurred, the number of infantry of the Royal Army was 25,095 men, and the cavalry 2,955, a total of less than 30,000, while the Company's Europeans amounted to 20,000, and yet this force had proved itself amply sufficient to break the neck of the rebellion, and to crush it at Delhi, at Lucknow, and Cawnpore, before a single company of reinforcements arrived from Europe. If at such a time 50,000 Europeans were sufficient to crush the rebellion, surely in the future, when not a fortress existed throughout India which would require to be reduced, nor a Native power with a force capable of resisting half-a-dozen battalions, surely they would not be seriously asked to maintain 110,000 European troops in India in addition to the 21,000 in the depots in this country out of the revenues of India. Was such a demand reasonable, was it just to India, was it just to this country; which after all, whatever might be said to the contrary, must be ultimately responsible for the engagements of India? He did not hesitate to say that a body of 50,000 Europeans would be amply sufficient, and was the utmost number that the country would require. It was impossible for India to pay for more; and if the authorities persisted in maintaining a larger number, there would be a constantly recurring defalcation in her revenue. If they wished to govern India, it must be through the good-will and confidence of the people, and not by the sword.


said, he rose to express his concurrence in an observation that fell the other night from the hon. Member for Invernessshire—namely, that the actual amount of force that must be maintained in India would depend on the measures taken by the Indian Government. If the authorities in India were permitted to set aside the Royal Proclamation, then no amount of force England could send to India would maintain tranquillity in the country. It was high time, he thought, that the pledges given in Her Majesty's gracious Proclamation should be authoritatively carried out. The people of India were promised that they would be protected in their land possessions. In order to their being so, the resumption commissions ought to be utterly extinguished. The scheme of proselytizing the people by giving large grants to missionary establishments from the revenues of India should also be put an end to. We should also restore some of those chiefs and dynasties that had been deposed from positions of rank and influence. In his opinion, unless the Government was prepared to adopt measures for ameliorating the condition of the Natives of India, and securing their affections; unless they strove to rule the two hundred millions of India by love rather than the sword, they would signally fail to advance the prosperity or improve the financial position of India.


remarked, that the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), when he quoted the opinion of Sir John Lawrence as to the large force which should be kept up in India, omitted to mention another opinion of his, in favour of having a large irregular force. Allusion had been made to an opinion to which expression had been given by Sir John Lawrence, with reference to the origin of the mutiny in India, to which he wished to direct the attention of the House. The opinion to which he referred was contained in a letter addressed by Mr. Temple, Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, to Mr. Edmonstone, and was to the following effect:— Indeed, it is Sir John Lawrence's very decided impression that this mutiny had its origin in the army itself; that it is not attributable to any external or any antecedent conspiracy whatever, although it was afterwards taken advantage of by disaffected persons to compass their own ends; and that its proximate cause was the cartridge affair, and nothing else. Sir John Lawrence has examined many hundreds of letters on this subject from Natives, both soldiers and civilians. He has, moreover, conversed constantly on the matter with Natives of all classes, and he is satisfied that the general, and indeed almost the universal, opinion in this part of India is to the above effect. It may be true that discontented Sepoys worked upon the minds of their less guiltless comrades, and persuaded them that a sinister but systematic attempt was about to be made on their ceremonial religion; and that in many regiments the majority were misled by designing individuals. But, as a body, the Native army did really believe that the universal introduction of cartridges destructive of their caste, was a matter only of time. Now, his hon. Friend near him (Sir E. Perry) had represented Sir John Lawrence as saying that the mutiny was produced by an interference with the religion of the Natives. That was not exactly Sir John Lawrence's expression; he said that it was produced by an interference with their caste; that it arose in the army itself, and was not the result of any external conspiracy; the proximate cause of it being the cartridge affair, and nothing else: that it arose from the dread of an interference with their ceremonial religion, and the belief that the entire destruction of their caste by the cartridges was only an affair of time. The House ought also to know that it was Sir John Lawrence's opinion that were it not for the pains that had been taken to keep the army from any knowledge of Christianity, the Natives could never have entertained such an erroneous idea.


said, his own opinion of the way in which the mutiny had been brought about was, the manner in which the Sepoys had been pampered, until they had turned upon their masters. If the Government had raised the degraded classes of India into the condition of men, and placed them upon a proper foundation as subjects of Her Majesty, his belief was that the troops would hare remained loyal to the Crown. He denied that the missionaries received any subsidies from the Indian Government. They repudiated altogether the idea of engaging in the work as mere mercenaries, and he was quite sure that the society to which he belonged, and which had been very zealous in the cause of the missionary, would quickly cease to exist if it adopted any principles of a mercenary nature. So far from supporting the missionary efforts, the Government opposition to them was discreditable and disgraceful. Reason, justice, and truth, were the only influences brought to bear in support of the missions, and there was no greater enemy to Christianity than the Government of India.


said, that the opinion which he had formerly expressed with respect to the amount of European troops which ought to be kept up in India, remained unchanged by anything he had heard in the course of the debate. Hon. Members might say that we could dispense with our large European force if we instituted a better system of government, but he deprecated the use of such observations, for he thought that they were likely to mislead the public, and to have an injurious effect in reference to the Government of India. Our position as regards that country was somewhat peculiar, distant as she was some 15,000 miles from our shores. But, in addition to that circumstance, there was the fact that the character of the Natives of India was extremely impulsive, and that the greatest necessity existed for affording sufficient protection to those English capitalists who went out to settle in the country, by whose means civilization was extended, and who would be prevented from making it their home if the European force maintained there were to any great extent done away with. The subject was one of considerable importance, and he would recommend to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India to deal first only with the Presidency of Bengal, and then if the plan succeeded there it might be extended to the other Presidencies. There was the more ground for such a course, as the mutiny had been confined to the former province. With regard to the Bengal army, however, he had seen some months ago a plan propounded by Earl Canning, which was so ably conceived that he would venture to submit it to the House. It was to the effect that forty regiments of European infantry should be raised for Bengal, and that to each of those forty regiments a regiment of Native auxiliaries should be attached, which should be commanded by a commandant, a second in command, an adjutant, an assistant-surgeon, and six non-commissioned officers from the European regiment with which it happened to be connected. It was also suggested that the Native force so constructed should have no separate parade, no separate colours, and no separate order or word of command, and it was expected that the result of the adoption of such a proposal would be that a sufficient precaution against treachery on the part of the Native troops would be taken, inasmuch as there would always be on the spot an European regiment to crush any attempt at revolt. By the adoption of that scheme we should also secure the advantage of having a hot. weather force, and if, out of an army of 113,000 men which might be thus raised, 40,000 were made available for the Punjab; 60,000 for the Northwestern Provinces, and 13,000 for Bengal Proper and Behar, we should have made an admirable provision for the defence of that portion of India, at an additional expense of about half a million a year above that which the Bengal army had cost before the mutiny had broken out. If the right hon. Baronet opposite, however, should object to this scheme he should recommend him to take into his consideration the evidence which had been given before the Commissioners by Sir Charles Trevelyan.


I shall not attempt in the course of this somewhat irregular debate to enter into the details of this ques- tion. The subject is one of the utmost importance, and the House is, I think, much indebted to the hon. Member who introduced it to our notice, as well as to the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir E. Perry) who, in his speech, adverted to many topics which are worthy of our most serious consideration. I rise mainly for the purpose of asking the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India a question which I hope he will not deem me pertinacious in pressing upon his attention. The subject is one with respect to which, after what has taken place, he can scarcely fail to perceive an uneasy feeling prevails on both sides of the House. The question of Parliamentary Reform is as important; that of our financial position demands our most serious consideration, but I doubt if either of those important matters are of such immediate consequence as that which has been introduced to our notice to-night. It is because I am of this opinion, and because I never turn my attention to India without something of alarm, that I am anxious to ascertain from the right hon. Baronet when he proposes to bring the question of Indian finance before the House? It is certainly an unpleasant subject for a Minister, but the right hon. Baronet will best consult his future credit as well as the interests of England and India by inviting the attention of the House of Com-with the fullest confidence to the difficult —I had almost said—the insolvable problem of Indian finance. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, who has filled the office of Secretary for India for more than twelve months, knows that no other department of the Government can compare with that for difficulty; and, notwithstanding the intelligence, the industry, and the absence from prejudice by which he is distinguished, his best friends feel that while he held that office he encountered difficulties which he was not able fairly to overcome. Those difficulties now stand in the way of the right hon. Gentleman who has succeeded him; and I speak not as a political opponent, but as a political friend, when I recommend him to ask the judgment and opinion of the House upon them in the frankest possible mauner. If there is any statesmanship among us there is here ample opportunity for its exercise and display. If this matter of India were settled so that we could feel satisfied about it, it would afford me greater pleasure than any change connected with the institutions or the Government of England which could take place. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that I have pressed this question upon him repeatedly, not because I wish to worry him in his office, but because I am anxious that while Members remain in town, and while there is still the disposition and the power to consider the question, we should have brought before us this solemn and important matter, upon which every man should be asked to give his judgment to the best of the faculties and abilities which he possesses.


said, he gladly rose to inform his hon. Friend (Mr. Bright) that he should be the last person to complain of his pressing this matter on his attention. Knowing the great interest which his hon. Friend had taken in Indian matters for many years, he would say that no person was so well entitled to bring forward a question of this kind as his hon. Friend. He could assure him that he should be perfectly ready to take his advice and act upon the principle which he had urged by dealing frankly with the House—taking them into counsel, if he might so speak— when considering the difficulties which beset the subject of India. It was because he was anxious to deal frankly with them that he had delayed the financial statement until he could lay the matter fully before them. It would be easy for him to make a concise statement on Indian finance, while from not having precise information, the House would be obliged to take the matter upon his ipse dixit, and he really thought that he was acting more in the spirit of the advice tendered by the hon. Member by postponing his statement until hon. Members were in possession of all the information which he himself had upon the subject. He wished to keep nothing back from them. He had already laid upon the table all the financial despatches, and the only document he was now waiting for was the ordinary annual accounts. These would be on the table on the next Thursday, and when they were printed, and in the possession of hon. Members, he purposed, not only for his own sake, but for the sake of public business, to bring the financial state of India before the House at the earliest possible period. He could assure them that he would not lose a single day after those accounts were before the House. With regard to the question before the House, the number of our troops to be maintained in India, it was not advisable for him to go into the matter at any great length. He should on a future occasion have to bring before the House the great subject of the Indian army, and his statement would be more effective if it had not been anticipated by any partial statement. The question of the army was intimately connected with that of finance; and he could assure the House that during the short time which he had held office he had bestowed anxious and daily attention upon the subject of the Indian army, though he had not been able to see his way yet to a satisfactory result. He quite concurred with the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) that it was perfectly impossible at the present moment to fix the amount of the permanent European force in India, and indeed it was not a question which pressed for an early decision. We had now an enormous force which might be reduced, but yet we could not break faith with the men who had fought our battles, and turn them off at the moment we did not require their services. He did not expect that they could arrive at a normal state of things in India for a year or perhaps more. There was a great difference of opinion upon what the force in India should be; but he did not think, after the experience of the last two years, it would be wise to reduce the European force to the low point at which it stood before the rebellion. He quite concurred that the present European force in India might be considerably reduced; and he had a strong opinion in favour of the irregular cavalry force, which possessed advantages in point of expense, and in this, that it afforded employment to the Native gentry. Before he left the Board of Control he had entered into a correspondence with the Marquess of Dalhousie upon the subject of dispensing with the services of the regular Native cavalry. He did not think that it would be wise on that occasion to state more than he had already said.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.