§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Mr. Speaker, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, I take the opportunity of noticing a Question which was addressed to me a few days ago by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Samuelson). I thought at the time that the Question was unfair and improper. The Question was, whether I was then prepared to inform the House of the title which Her Majesty would be advised to adopt with respect to the matter contained in the Bill before us, and my answer was that I was not then prepared to give that information to the House. It appeared to me that that Question, as I ventured to remark, was unfair and improper, because, in the first place, on a controversial matter it required me to make a statement respecting which I could offer no argument, as the wise Rules of this House, as regard Questions and Answers, have established. I should therefore have had to place before the House, on a matter respecting which there is controversy, the decision of the Government, at the same time being incapacitated from offering any argument in favour of it. I thought the Question was improper, also, in the second place, because it was a dealing with the Royal Prerogative that, to say the least, was wanting, as I thought, in respect. Both sides of the House and the whole country agree in the view that we are ruled by a strictly Constitutional Sovereign. But the Constitution has invested Her Majesty with Prerogatives of which She is wisely jealous; which she exercises always with firmness, but ever, 1720 when the claims and feelings of Parliament are concerned, with the utmost consideration. It is the more requisite, therefore, that we should treat these Prerogatives with the utmost respect, not to say reverence. In the present case, if Her Majesty had desired to impart to the House of Commons information which the House required, the proper time would certainly be when the Bill in question was under the consideration of the House. It would be more respectful to the House, as well as to the Queen, that such a communication should be made when the House was assembled to discuss the question before them; and such information ought not to be imparted, I think, in answer to the casual inquiry of an individual Member. Prom the beginning there has been no mystery at any time upon this matter. So far as the Government are concerned they have acted strictly according to precedent, and it has not been in my power until the present evening to impart any information to the House upon the subject on which they intimated a wish to be informed. But, upon the first night, when I introduced this Bill, I did say, alluding to the Prerogative of the Queen and Her Majesty's manner of exercising that Prerogative, that I did not anticipate any difficulties on the subject to which the House had referred. To this point, in the course of the few observations I have to make this evening, I shall recur; but before doing so, I will make some remarks upon the objections which have been made to a title which it has been gratuitously assumed that Her Majesty, with regard to her dominions in India, wishes to adopt. It is a remarkable circumstance that all those who have made objections upon this subject have raised their objections to one particular title alone. One alone has occurred to them—which primâ facie, it may be observed, is rather an argument in favour of its being an apposite title. No doubt other objections have been urged in the debate, and I will refer to them before proceeding to the other part of my remarks. It has been objected that the title of Emperor or Empress denotes military dominion; that it has never or rarely been adopted but by those who have obtained dominion by the sword, retained it by the sword, and governed it by the sword; and, to use the words 1721 of a right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) who took part in the recent debate—"Sentiment clothes the title of Emperor with bad associations." Now, the House must at once feel what vague and shadowy arguments—if they can be called arguments—are these—"Sentiment clothes the title of Emperor with bad associations." [Opposition cheers.] I very much doubt whether sentiment does clothe the title of Emperor with bad associations. I can remember, and many hon. Gentlemen can remember, the immortal passage of the greatest of modern historians, where he gives his opinion that the happiness of mankind was never so completely assured, or for so long a time maintained, as in the age of the Antonines—and the Antonines were Emperors. The right hon. Gentleman may be of opinion that an Imperial title is a modern invention, and its associations to him may be derived from a limited experience of which he may be proud. But when so large a principle is laid down by one distinguished for his historical knowledge, that "sentiment clothes the title of Emperor with bad associations," I may be allowed to vindicate what I believe to be the truth upon this matter. Then a second objection was urged. It was said—"This is a clumsy periphrasis in which you are involving the country if you have not only Royal but Imperial Majesties." Now, the right hon. Gentleman who made the remark ought to have recollected that there would be no clumsy periphrasis of the kind. The Majesty of England requires for its support no such epithet. The Queen is not "Her Royal Majesty." The Queen is described properly as "Her Majesty." Therefore, the "clumsy periphrasis" of "Royal and Imperial Majesty" could never occur. There is, however, a stronger and more important objection which has been brought to the title of Empress, which has hitherto been merely assumed in argument. This greater objection I will place briefly before the House. It has been said that we diminish the supremacy of the Queenly title by investing Her Majesty, though only locally, with an Imperial dignity. Now, Sir, there appears to me to be a great fallacy in that position. I deny at once that you diminish the supremacy of the Queenly title, by investing Her Majesty, though only locally, with an Imperial dignity. I 1722 deny that any Imperial dignity is superior to the Queenly title, and I defy any one to prove the reverse. ["Hear!"] I am happy to have that cheer; but I hear and read every day of an intention to invest Her Majesty with a title superior to that which She has inherited from an illustrious line of ancestors. It is necessary, therefore, to notice this statement. In times which will guide us in any way upon such a subject I doubt whether there is any precedent of an Emperor ranking superior to a crowned head, unless that crowned head was his avowed feudatory. I will take the most remarkable instance of Imperial sway in modern history. When the Holy Roman Empire existed, and the German Emperor was crowned at Rome and called Caesar, no doubt the Princes of Germany, who were his feudatories, acknowledged his supremacy, whatever might be his title. But in those days there were great Kings—there were Kings of France, Kings of Spain, and Kings of England—they never acknowledged the supremacy of the Head of the Holy Roman Empire; and the origin, I have no doubt, of the expression of the Act of Henry VIII., where the Crown of England is described as an Imperial Crown, was the determination of that eminent Monarch, that at least there should be no mistake upon the subject between himself and the Emperor Charles V. These may be considered antiquarian illustrations and I will not dwell upon them, but will take more recent eases at a time when the intercourse of nations and of Courts was regulated by the same system of diplomacy which now prevails. Upon this question, then, I say there can be no mistake, for it has been settled by the assent, and the solemn assent, of Europe. In the middle of the last century a remarkable instance occurred which brought to a crisis this controversy, if it were a point of controversy. When Peter the Great emerged from his anomalous condition as a powerful Sovereign—hardly recognized by his brother Sovereigns—he changed the style and title of his office from that of Czar to Emperor. That addition was acknowledged by England, and by England alone. The rulers of Russia as Emperors remained unrecognized by the great comity of nations; and after Peter the Great they still continued to bear the titles of Czar 1723 and Czarina, for more than one female Sovereign flourished in Russia about the middle of the century. In 1745, Elizabeth Czarina of Russia, having by her armies and her councils interfered considerably in the affairs of Europe—probably (though I am not sure of this) influenced by the circumstance that the first Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, in the middle of the last century, was about to meet—announced to her allies and to her brother Sovereigns that she intended in future to take the title of Empress, instead of Czarina. Considerable excitement and commotion were caused at all the Courts and in all the Governments of Europe in consequence of this announcement, but the new title was recognized on condition that Her Majesty should at the same time write a letter—called in diplomatic language a Reversal acknowledging, that she thereby made no difference in the etiquette and precedence of the European Courts and would only rank upon terms of equality with the other Crowned Heads of Europe. Upon these terms, France, Spain, Austria, and Hungary admitted the Empress of Russia into their equal society. For the next 20 years, under Peter III., there were discussions on the subject; but he also gave a Reversal disclaiming superiority to other Crowned Heads in taking the title of Emperor. When Catherine II. came to the Throne, she objected to write this Reversal as being inconsistent with the dignity of a crowned Sovereign, and she herself issued an edict to her own subjects, announcing, on her accession, her rank, style, and title, and distinctly informing her subjects that, though she took that style and title, she only wished to rank with the other Sovereigns of Europe. I should say that the whole of the diplomatic proceedings of the world from that time have acknowledged that result, and there can be no question upon the subject. There was an attempt at the Congress of Vienna to introduce the subject of the classification of Sovereigns, but the difficulties of the subject were acknowledged by Prince Mettermich, by Lord Castlereagh, and by all the eminent Statesmen of the time; the subject was dropped; the equality of Crowned Heads was again acknowledged, and the mode of precedence of their Representatives at the different Courts was settled by an alphabetical arrangement, 1724 or by the date of their arrival and letters of credit to that Court at once and for ever. The question of equality between those Sovereigns who styled themselves Emperors and those who were Crowned Heads of ancient kingdoms, without reference to population, revenue, or extent of territory, was established, and permanently adopted. Now, Sir, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) said the other day—"If Empress means nothing more than Queen, why should you have Empress? If it means something else, then I am against adopting it." Well, I have proved to you that it does not mean anything else. Then, why should you adopt it? Well, that is one of those questions which, if pursued in the same spirit, and applied to all the elements of society, might resolve it into its original elements. The amplification of titles is no new system—no new idea; it has marked all ages, and has been in accordance with the manners and customs of all countries. The amplification of titles is founded upon a great respect for local influences, for the memory of distinguished deeds, and passages of interest in the history of countries. It is only by the amplification of titles that you can often touch and satisfy the imagination of nations; and that is an element which Governments must not despise. Well, then it is said that if this title of Empress is adopted, it would be un-English. But why un-English? I have sometimes heard the Ballot called un-English, and indignant orators on the other side have protested against the use of an epithet of that character which nobody could define, and which nobody ought to employ. I should like to know why the title is un-English. A gentleman the other day, referring to this question now exciting Parliament and the country, recalled to the recollection of the public the dedication of one of the most beautiful productions of the English muse to the Sovereign of this country; and, speaking of the age distinguished by an Elizabeth, by a Shakespeare, and by a Bacon, he asked whether the use of the word "Empress" applied by one who was second in his power of expression and in his poetic resources only to Shakespeare himself in the dedication of an immortal work to Queen Elizabeth was not, at least, an act which proved that the word 1725 and the feeling were not un-English?. Then, of course, it was immediately answered by those who criticized the illustration that this was merely the fancy of a poet. But I do not think it was the fancy of a poet. The fancy of the most fanciful of poets was exhausted in the exuberant imagination which idealized his illustrious Sovereign as "The Faery Queen." He did not call her Empress then—he called her "The Faery Queen." But when his theme excited the admiration of Royalty—when he had the privilege of reciting some of his cantos to Queen Elizabeth, and she expressed a wish that the work should be dedicated to her—then Spenser had, no doubt, to consult the friends in whom he could confide as to the style in which he should approach so solemn an occasion, and win to himself still more the interest of his illustrious Sovereign. He was a man who lived among courtiers and statesmen. He had as friends Sidney and Raleigh, and I have little doubt that it was by the advice of Sidney and Raleigh that he addressed his Sovereign as Empress, "the Queen of England, of Ireland, and of Virginia"—the hand of Sir Walter Raleigh being probably shown in the title of the Queen of Virginia, and it is not at all improbable that Elizabeth herself, who possessed so much literary taste, and who prided herself on improving the phrases of the greatest poet, revised the dedication. That example clearly shows that the objection to this assumed adoption by Her Majesty of the title of Empress as un-English could hardly exist in an age when the word was used with so much honour—in an age of "words which wise Bacon and brave Raleigh spake." I think it is obvious from these remarks, made upon the assumption that the title which Her Majesty would be pleased to adopt by her Proclamation would be "Empress," that the title would be one to which there could be no objection. I am empowered, therefore, to say that the title would be "Empress," and that Her Majesty would be "Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, and Empress of India." Now, I know it may be said—it was said at a recent debate and urged strongly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) 1726 —that this addition to Her Majesty's style, and in this addition alone, we are treating without consideration the colonies. I cannot in any way concur in that opinion. No one honours more than myself the colonial Empire of England; no one is more anxious to maintain it. No one regrets more than I do that favourable opportunities have been lost of identifying the colonies with the Royal race of England. But we have to deal now with another subject, and one essentially different from the colonial condition. The condition of India and the condition of the colonies have no similarity. In the colonies you have, first of all, a fluctuating population—a man is Member of Parliament, it may be, for Melbourne this year, and next year he is Member of Parliament for Westminster. A colonist finds a nugget, or he fleeces a thousand flocks. He makes a fortune, he returns to England, he buys an estate, he becomes a magistrate, he represents Majesty, he becomes High Sheriff; he has a magnificent house near Hyde Park; he goes to Court, to levees, to drawing rooms; he has an opportunity of plighting his troth personally to his Sovereign, he is in frequent and direct communication with her. But that is not the case with the inhabitant of India. The condition of colonial society is of a fluctuating character. Its political and social elements change. I remember 20 years ago a distinguished statesman who willingly would have seen a Dukedom of Canada. But Canada has now no separate existence. It is called the "Dominion," and includes several other Provinces. There is no similarity between the circumstances of our colonial fellow-subjects and those of our fellow-subjects in India. Our colonists are English; they come, they go, they are careful to make fortunes, to invest their money in England; their interests in this country are immense, ramified, complicated, and they have constant opportunities of improving and enjoying the relations which exist between themselves and their countrymen in the metropolis. Their relations to the Sovereign are ample; they satisfy them, the colonists are proud of those relations, they are interested in the titles of the Queen, they look forward to return when they leave England, they do return—in short, they are Englishmen. Now let me say 1727 one word before I move the second reading of this Bill upon the effect which it may have on India. It is not without consideration, it is not without the utmost care, it is not until after the deepest thought that we have felt it our duty to introduce this Bill into Parliament. It is desired in India. It is anxiously expected. The Princes and nations of India—unless we are deceived, and we have omitted no means by which we could obtain information and form opinions—look to it with the utmost interest. They know exactly what it means, though there may be some hon. Members in this House who do not. They know in India what this Bill means, and they know that what it means is what they wish. I do myself most earnestly impress upon the House to remove prejudice from their minds and to pass the second reading of this Bill, without a division. Let not our divisions be misconstrued. Let the people of India feel that there is a sympathetic chord between us and them; and do not let Europe suppose for a moment that there are any in this House who are not deeply conscious of the importance of our Indian Empire. Unfortunate words have been heard in the debate upon this subject. But I will not believe that any Member of this House seriously contemplates the loss of our Indian Empire. I trust, therefore, that the House will give to this Bill a second reading without a division. By the permission of the Queen I have communicated, on the part of my Colleagues, the intention of Her Majesty, which She will express in her Proclamation, if you sanction the passing of this Bill. It will be an act, to my mind, that will add splendour even to her Throne, and security even to her Empire.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Disraeli.)
§ MR. SAMUELSON
said, that the right hon. Gentleman, in the observations which he had made to the House, had condescended to make an allusion to a Question which he had asked the other evening, and which he had described as unfair and improper. He thought that expression was hardly courteous—was hardly more courteous than the answer that the right hon. Gentleman gave to his Question on Tuesday last. 1728 Now, he (Mr. Samuelson) thought the name of Her Majesty had been very improperly imported into the debate by the right hon. Gentleman. If the question which the House had to determine were one solely affecting the pleasure and gratification of Her Majesty, he was sure the House would act as it had always done, and give to the consideration of this Bill its most favourable attention. Her Majesty had reigned now for nearly 40 years, and in the course of that time the love and affection of her people had been evinced from year to year, and within the last two days She had performed an act which would more than ever endear her to her subjects. It was as Queen of England she would always be remembered, and it was by her Queenly title that her memory would descend to posterity. The question, however, they were now asked to entertain was not one affecting Her Majesty. It was one of high policy—a question in which by this Bill the House was invited to take part. [Cries of "Agree."] It was not often that he troubled the House with any remarks, and he begged for its indulgent attention. To his mind it was more than doubtful whether the addition of the title of Empress was an act of high policy. It was, in his opinion, an act of the most questionable policy to have introduced this Bill at all, and he had not heard any reason calculated to remove the prejudices which existed with regard to this matter. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the time had come when the relations between the people of England and the people of India were such that some recognition of Her Majesty's title had become absolutely necessary; and, furthermore, that it was desirable to recognize the transfer of the dominion of India from the East India Company to the Crown. That transfer took place 18 years ago, and the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten that it was acknowledged by the Proclamation of Her Majesty when the Queen was styled "of the United Kingdom and of her dominions in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, Queen, Defender of the Faith." The right hon. Gentleman had said that this addition to Her Majesty's title would be agreeable to the Princes and people of India; but he had produced no evidence in support of that assertion. The right bon. Gentleman had endeavoured 1729 to explain away the prejudices which existed against the title of Emperor, and had referred to the time of the Antonines. Instead of going back to that time, some 1,700 years ago, it would have been much better had he devoted his attention to the events of the present time, when he would have discovered why the title of Emperor was not consonant with the feelings of the people of this country. He need not remind the House of the antecedents of the Second Empire in a neighbouring country in our own days—how it was founded in the orgies of the Camp of Satory—how it was confirmed by the slaughter and the barricades of Paris, and how it ended ingloriously in the catastrophe of Sedan. With regard to the German Empire, whatever might be the facts in reference to the policy of its creation it had been contemporaneous with an outbreak of religious strife between Catholics and Protestants. In dealing with India it must be remembered that there were great varieties of religions and race suggestive of strife. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he knew what were the sentiments of the Princes and Natives of India. Now, he must be considered a bold man who would undertake to say what was the current of public opinion in India. Did we know at this moment what had led to the Sepoy rebellion? And if the assumption of this title should happen to coincide with monetary derangement which seemed impending in consequence of the depreciation of silver, how did we know in what light the connection of the two subjects would be regarded in India? He himself considered this to be a gratuitous act on the part of the Government, one to justify which, as he had before said, no sufficient evidence had been adduced. He thought the right hon. Gentleman, having recently elevated certain persons to the Peerage, and given a step to certain Noblemen in its hierarchy, would have done better had he rested there. In his (Mr. Samuel-son's) opinion, the right hon. Gentleman ought, on the first reading of the Bill, to have plainly answered the Question put by the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), and thought it was not quite fair the House should be called upon that evening to decide the matter without time being given for reflection. The country ought to have 1730 proper notice, so as to have an opportunity of expressing its views. The Princes of India should not alone have been taken into the councils of the right hon. Gentleman to the exclusion of this House and of the people of this country. Therefore, he begged to move the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Samuelson.)
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he had on a former evening ventured to express his humble concurrence in the general policy of this measure. In every way it was desirable and would be acceptable to the people of India that some step should be taken distinctly to mark the Imperial character of our reign in that country. As to what the new title should be, he had expressed no opinion, and he did not desire to express a very decided opinion now; but he would state some facts which might, perhaps, lead to the formation of an opinion on the subject. Looking at the question from an Indian point of view, whether the title was that of Empress or that of Queen, the end to which he looked, and to which he believed the Government also looked, would equally be attained, and the one title would as well answer the purpose in India as the other. The question as between Empress or Queen was, therefore, one that might and should be determined with reference to English considerations. He had created a good deal of hilarity on a former evening, when he gave it as his opinion that in taking the step she was now advised to take, it would be well that Her Majesty should mark that she succeeded to the position of the Great Mogul. On the other hand, the hon. Member for Hackney, instead of being amused by that suggestion, lectured him very severely for making it, describing the Great Moguls as fierce and barbarous conquerors and oppressors. Now, he said that the memory of the Great Mogul was not one that excited either laughter or hatred in India. His memory and name were very great. It might be that, judged by a modern standard, his Empire was not a perfect one; but judged by the standard of the 18th century, it was very great and glorious, and was in many respects an excellent and 1731 good Empire. It was remarkable for religious toleration to a degree that did not exist in Europe in those days. Hindoos were tolerated, and placed in a social position under that Empire which Nonconformists had not then attained in Great Britain. In some respects the poor were protected from the rich and the grasping in a way which was not done in our own Empire. Great arts, great monuments, great laws, many great reminiscences of that Empire had made the memory of the Great Mogul a power in India which continued to the present day. When our power was overthrown by the Mutiny, the King of Delhi was set up in our place, which showed that the memory of the Great Mogul, to whose power Her Majesty had succeeded, was still existent. Whether the Queen took the title of Queen or Empress, he thought it would equally be translated by the Oriental word Bad-shah, which was derived from a Sanskrit root, and signified "Protector King." That was peculiarly appropriate, and the question really was how it was to be translated into English. They had always translated it King. That being so, the question became one whether there was now any necessity for the title of Empress of India. The Prime Minister had shown with great force that in reality the title of Empress was not higher than that of Queen, and did not carry greater state or dignity. Therefore he was at some loss to understand why he should consider it necessary, as an appeal to the imagination of the people, to give the title of Empress rather than that of Queen. Another consideration urged was this—In modern Europe—as in the ease of the German Emperor—Emperor, it was said, was the title of a Sovereign who reigned over Kings; and in that respect it might be thought that Emperor was superior to King. Well, if there were Kings now ruling in India, it might be desirable to have a title superior to them, and to adopt the style of Empress instead of Queen. But in reality in India there were no Princes who assumed or claimed the position of Kings, and therefore there was no necessity that the title of Empress should be taken in preference to that of Queen. The titles of the Native Princes were all taken from, and borne in subordination to, the former Sovereigns of India. Most of them 1732 held under the Great Mogul. The Nizam of Hyderabad and of the Deccan was Governor General of the Dec-can. The other great Mahomedan Viceroys, in Bengal and Onde, for instance, took titles which were distinctly marked in subordination to the Great Mogul. Similarly, as regards the Mahratta States, Scindia, Holkar, and the Prince of Baroda did not assume Royal titles, but were marked in subordination to the head of the Mahratta confederacy. True, there were Rajahs and Maharajahs, and as Rajah came from the same root as Re or Rex, it might in some sense be translated King. But it was well known in India that many subjects bore the title of Rajah and Maharajah, and therefore these titles could not be taken to refer to a "King." He believed the visit of the Prince of Wales was an occasion on which the Native Princes had shown openly their disposition to accept their position as feudatories of the Queen, and the people of India their loyalty to the Crown. As, therefore, from the Indian point of view, there was no reason for the title of Empress in preference to Queen, it remained to refer to the feelings of the people of this country, and he feared Her Majesty had not been advised to take the wisest course in adopting the title of "Empress." When one met a dozen men in the street and all concurred in one view, it might be taken as some evidence of the opinion of the people. He had consulted many in the street, and found that all held that the title "Queen of England" was a magnificent title, and that it would be a great pity to alter it. He would advise the Government to consult the feelings of the people of this country.
entirely differed from the hon. Member who had just spoken, that the people of this country required any notice of the adoption of any additional title by Her Majesty. She was supreme Ruler and Governor, subject only to that Higher Power "by whom alone Kings reign and Princes decree justice." He was glad to hear that Her Gracious Majesty was not to be shorn of those appendages to her style and title the omission of which would indeed give great offence to the people of this country. Her Majesty was, "by the grace of God," Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and "De 1733 fender of the Faith," and he hoped that she would long continue to reign in that capacity.
Sir, there is one sentiment expressed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli), towards the conclusion of his speech, which certainly I feel the force of. He expressed his great desire that there should be no division on this subject. I go so far, at least, with him that I am deeply convinced that this is a matter which cannot be settled in a manner satisfactory to the feelings of those concerned by any mere majority. The acceptance of the Bill by the mere vote of a majority—and, possibly, a Party majority—would, in my opinion, be very far from attaining the object which the right hon. Gentleman has in view; and the loss of the Bill through an adverse vote would likewise, in my opinion, be attended with serious evil. On this account I, for one, have been desirous to take time, and to avoid all hasty and precipitate declarations of opinion on the question; and, although the leaning and tendency of the sentiments I entertain will be obvious enough from what I have to say, yet I do not desire to give any opinion at this moment on the question whether it would or would not be right—for I have no control over the vote of any Gentleman in this House—to accede to the request of the right hon. Gentleman, and to allow the second reading of the Bill to pass without a division. What I shall attempt to do is this—I shall endeavour to weigh the reasons which have been given by the right hon. Gentleman for the measure he has introduced. I shall point out certain considerations which undoubtedly appear to me greatly to recommend—not with any hostile view, but in order simply to obtain full deliberation—the Motion made by my hon. Friend (Mr. Samuelson), for which, I may say, I have no personal responsibility; and I may likewise add a few words on the question of the title the Queen now bears as compared with the title which it is proposed to give. Now, I would point out what appears to be an incorrect and misleading use of an important phrase that has more than once been observable in the speech of the Prime Minister. When asked for a declaration on the subject of the advice it was his intention to tender to Her Majesty, he spoke of the pressure ex 1734 ercised upon him as an attempt to interfere with the Prerogative of the Crown; and he has told us to-day, in words that are perfectly true and undeniable, of the manner in which that Prerogative has been exercised by the Sovereign during her reign, as if he considered that in this matter we had, at any rate, some concern with the Prerogative of Crown. I wish. Sir, to get rid of this misleading expression. Prom the beginning of this discussion to its present stage, and from its present stage till its close, we have had, and shall have, nothing whatever to do with the Prerogative of the Crown. Statute and Prerogative are logically exclusive of one another. The Prerogative of the Crown does not require, and does not depend on, statute; the statutory power conferred upon the Crown has no relation and no concern with Prerogative; and the question now before us is as to the policy of conferring any statutory power upon the Crown with respect to its Royal style and title, and the question is what that power shall be and how it shall be used. Now, if I understand the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he alleges two grounds for his proceedings—one is precedent, and the other is the desire of India; but as to positive argument in support of his proposal, I do not find a trace. Now, as regards precedent, it appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman has been wholly misled in his reading of what he terms the precedent of the Act of Union. For what is it that has given rise to uneasiness, and has created difference of opinion in this House? What is it that creates—I will not use too strong a word—misgiving and mistrust in every circle and in every portion of society with which I am conversant? but, as far as regards this question, I have been hardly able to trace any political distinction (as in respect to the Suez Canal) in the feelings and opinions on the subject. But what is the force and effect of the precedent the right hen. Gentleman thinks he has found. In the first place, the precedent is wholly detached from the matter which is now, if I may so say, in dispute, because it has exclusive reference to the enumeration of territories and powers which were granted; whereas the matter about which differences of opinion now exist is not the enumeration of territories at all, but the designation of the 1735 Sovereign herself. The right hon. Gentleman appears to me not to have perceived the very peculiar circumstances out of which the adoption of the empowering method, instead of the enacting method, arose in the year 1801. If I read the circumstances of the time aright, it would hardly be too much to say that Parliament had no power but to proceed by empowering enactment; and why? Because there was the question of a Treaty between two perfectly independent Legislatures, and if Parliament had done what was done in the reign of Henry VIII., when the title of Supreme Head was conferred on the Crown by statute, it would undoubtedly, as it appears to me, have invaded the province of the Legislature of Ireland had it attempted to give—what it had done by Resolution—statutory powers in Ireland by its own act to the title which it was in contemplation the Sovereign should assume. By the expedient adopted, the Crown was placed in a position to exercise the power that Parliament had conferred, according to the known intentions of the Parliament of England and likewise the known intention of the Parliament of Ireland. But, as I said just now, this precedent quoted by the right hon. Gentleman has no concern whatever with the designation of the Sovereign, and my authority for saying so is a speech by Mr. Pitt himself. In moving the Resolution he used these words—It will be seen that the article merely relates to the name of the United Kingdom, upon which, I apprehend, no difference of opinion can exist.The power given had relation to the name of the kingdom which is not now at all in question, and in 1801 the designation of the Sovereign was equally out of the case and out of the view of Parliament. I come now to the other argument which the right hon. Gentleman alleges, the desire of India, and he alleges this desire in very strong and very remarkable terms. It is said that this change is desired by Princes and by people, and we are told that the Government have ample means of making inquiry, and that they have not neglected those means. Upon this statement I have two remarks to make. First, it would appear as if the people of India had been much more in the 1736 confidence of the right hon. Gentleman than the British Parliament. We have not known what advice was likely to be tendered to the Sovereign; whereas, according to the right hon. Gentleman, the Princes and the people of India have been aware of it all along, and have conclusively made known the feelings they entertain on the subject. But if that is so—if the right hon. Gentleman is in possession of this evidence of the feelings of the Princes and the people of India—why has he not laid it before us? I say that we have every title—every moral title, every Parliamentary title—to be put in possession of that evidence, and that my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Samuelson) is within his right when he asks that before he is called upon to decide upon the very delicate question contained in the right hon. Gentleman's speech to-night, time may be given him for the purpose of receiving such evidence. I urge this matter most seriously upon Her Majesty's Government. I beg we may have in an official shape this evidence which the right hon. Gentleman possesses of the manifest desire of the Princes and people of India with respect to the title which it is proposed Her Majesty should assume. In my opinion, this is a matter of the greatest importance. We have had some declarations in this House with respect to India. The hon. Member for West Cumberland (Mr. Percy Wyndham), who is well known for his ability, on the night when the right hon. Gentleman first made his proposal, said that an Imperial title would be the one most suitable, because it would signify that Her Majesty governed India without the restraints of law or constitution.
§ MR. PERCY WYNDHAM
I said that the Government of India was a despotic Government, not in the hands of one person, and not, as in this country, a Constitutional Government in the hands of the Queen and the Houses of Lords and Commons. The Government of India is essentially a despotic Government as administered by us, although it includes more than one individual.
I am very much obliged, and I perceive completely the hen. Member's meaning; but I am sorry that to that meaning as it stands I take the greatest objection. If it be true—and it is true—that we govern India without the restraints of a law except 1737 such law as we make ourselves—if it be true that we have not been able to give to India the benefit and blessings of free institutions—I leave it to the hon. Gentleman—I leave it to the right hon. Gentleman, if he thinks fit—to boast that he is about to place that fact solemnly upon record. By the assumption of the title of Empress I, for one, will not attempt to turn into glory that which, so far as it is true, I feel to be our weakness and our calamity. What do we know of the juridical effect of the measure which the right hon. Gentleman has proposed? Of that subject he has not said one word. I am not competent to enter into it; but the learned Gentleman behind me (Dr. Kenealy), who is accomplished in his knowledge of the law, is able to do so. There are many hon. Members in the House who can supply the defect; but I wish to bring to the attention of the Government that which appears to me to be a very serious point in this question, of which the right hon. Gentleman has not taken the slightest notice. He has introduced to us a Bill which states that an Act of Her Majesty enacted—That the Government of India, theretofore vested in the East India Company in trust for Her Majesty, should become vested in Her Majesty, and that India should thenceforth be governed by and in the name of Her Majesty.I am not now speaking of the word "Empress," but of India, and I wish to bring into view a serious question, and a question wholly unexplained to this moment, which may be involved in any statutory establishment of the name of India in the title of the Sovereign. If I read the Act for the government of India correctly, the recital of the Preamble of this Bill is inaccurate. As I read it, it is not true that the government of India has been vested in Her Majesty; and it is not true that it has been enacted that—"India should thenceforth be governed by and in the the name of Her Majesty." Now, this is a matter of very considerable delicacy and importance. The Act for the government of India provides, in the 1st clause, that—The government of the territories now in the possession or under the government of the East India Company, and all powers in relation to the government, vested in or exercised by the said Government in trust for Her Majesty, shall cease to he vested in or exercised by the said Company, and all territories in the possession or 1738 under the government of the said Company and all rights vested in or which may have been exercised by the said Company in relation to any territories, shall become vested in Her Majesty, and exercised in Her name.That is the great operative part of the clause. It is clear that the operative part of it does not embrace the entire country of India. ["Oh, oh!"] Let the hon. Gentleman who disposes so easily of this question point out to me a legislative or a judicial decision, and I shall then pay the greatest respect to what he says; but for the present I must be content to proceed on my way without the advantage of his approval or support. The operative part of the clause is carefully limited to the countries which had been held in trust for Her Majesty by the East India Company. The clause ends by saying—And for the purposes of this Act India shall mean the territories vested in Her Majesty aforesaid, and all territories which may become vested in Her Majesty by the aforesaid.I may he wrong; but it is clear that this was the draftsman's expedient, as it was impossible to go on reciting the long and cumbrous description which I have read—namely, the description of these territories. It is plain, therefore, that the government of India—that is, the entire India—never has yet, by statute, been vested in Her Majesty; but that which has been vested is the government of the countries which were held in trust for Her Majesty by the East India Company. I would be the last man to raise this question if it were a mere verbal quibble. It is as far as possible from being a question merely verbal; the speech of my hon. Friend who has just sat down indicates that it is no verbal quibble. He says his desire is—though I am glad that he at any rate hesitates as to the title of Empress—that the Queen shall assume some title in respect to India which shall show that she is assuming the possession of the powers of the Great Mogul. [Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: As the representative of the nation.] I quite understand that; my hon. Friend is much too constitutional a Member of Parliament to omit that qualification. If I understand my hon. Friend aright—and he speaks with much authority on the subject—he distinctly assures us that the supremacy of the Great Mogul extended over all the Na 1739 tive Princes of India within the limits of the dominion which we call India. What I want to know is this—has that supremacy, that dominion, ever been, legislatively or even judicially, up to the present moment, assumed either by the East India Company or by the Queen, who succeeded the East India Company? It would be the utmost presumption if I were to speak dogmatically upon this subject; I believe it to be a question admitting of very considerable difference of opinion. As we have very great varieties of relations with the remaining Native States, as in some cases any independence that they possess is nothing more than nominal, as in some cases our powers over them either have been obtained by Treaty or are of a limited character, I would point out to the House that in regard to our power in India—that vast and curiously-constructed fabric of which we are the stewards, and which it is our duty to maintain so long as any obligation connected with that power remains to be fulfilled—we are under the most solemn obligations to proceed with caution, with circumspection, with a strict regard to principles of law, with strict regard to the lessons of history, in every stop we take in this great matter. Whether my principle be right or not in the allegation made respecting a former Sovereign of India, I am under the belief that to this moment there are important Princes and States in India over "which we have never assumed dominion, whatever may have been our superiority of strength. We are now going by Act of Parliament to assume that dominion, the possible consequences of which no man can foresee; and when the right hon. Gentleman tells us the Princes of India desire this change to be made, does he really mean to assure us that that is the case? If so, I require distinct evidence of the fact. There are Princes in India who, no doubt, have hitherto enjoyed no more than a theoretical political supremacy, but do they desire to surrender even that under the provisions of this Bill? I cannot conceive a stronger argument addressed to Her Majesty's Government, and it is with them and not with us that the burden of proof lies upon this question. The right hon. Gentleman is going to advise the Queen to become Empress of India. I raise the question, What is India? I have said that the dominion 1740 now vested in Her Majesty is limited to the territories vested in the East India Company. I ask whether the supremacy of certain important Native States in India ever was vested in the Company or whether it was not? We are bound to ask the right hon. Gentleman—and I think he is bound to answer the question through the medium of his best legal authorities—whether this supremacy is so vested or not, and whether he can assure us upon his responsibility that no political change in the condition of the Native Princes of India will be effected by this Bill. If there is a political change effected, I do not hesitate to say I do not think it would be possible to offer too determined an opposition to the proposal of the Government. Instead of saying, as I do, that I feel every desire to postpone coming to a decision, I should say it would be an act of temerity almost approaching to insanity, for any purpose such as the right hon. Gentleman has described, were we, the British Parliament, to consent to effect a change in the political status and position of the Sovereigns of India, with respect to whom we at least are not in a state of ignorance. I feel with the right hon. Gentleman—indeed, I feel a little more than the right hon. Gentleman—the greatness, the unsullied greatness, of the title which is now borne by the Queen of England. I think I use the language of moderation when I say that it is a title unequalled for its dignity and weight, unequalled for the glory of its historic associations; unequalled for the promise which it offers to the future, among the titles of the Sovereigns of Europe, among all the states and nations on the earth. Sir, I have a jealousy of touching that title, and I am not to be told that this is a small matter. There is nothing small in a matter, in my judgment, which touches the honour and dignity of the Crown of England. These matters are all great—they are far-reaching—they have an importance even for the life of our Sovereign, which I hope will be long preserved, and they reach far into the future of England. You should not take a step in advance now which hereafter you may possibly have to regret or retract. You should consider very carefully the whole of these questions which touch the Sovereign—such are the lessons I have learnt from my political instruc 1741 tors, and such are the lessons I try to hand down—you should consider all that touches the Crown as matters of the highest delicacy, of the highest importance, and part, the most sacred portion, of the same power which we are called upon to administer on behalf of the Empire. I own I think there ought to be strong reasons—reasons of much more strength than I have gathered from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman—to induce us to run the smallest risk of putting in jeopardy this magnificent and noble title of the Queen of England. I am not speaking of the institutions of France; but speaking of the associations and history of the title of "King of France," it might have put itself into competition with the British Crown, but that title of "King of France," has been entirely swept away, and an article of modern manufacture, when Royalty has been set up in France, has been substituted for it. It has been the misfortune of that great country to feel itself compelled in a considerable degree to encounter one of the heaviest of all calamities—namely, to break with its own past, to sever its present traditions from those which it had accumulated in other days. We have all our misfortunes and dangers, but that is a calamity which this country has never been called upon to encounter, and which, I trust, it never shall. What I fool about this Imperial title is that, with the greatest possible respect for Emperors now subsisting, and more oven than respect it may be, and not at all questioning that the perfect legitimacy of the titles which they bear, as justified by the circumstances in which they stand, I am not very willing to have the title of Queen of England—without very strong reasons shown me—brought into any sort of competition with theirs. The right hon. Gentleman has, indeed, manfully contended that there is no inferiority in the title of King as compared with that of Emperor, and I believe the state of the matter diplomatically is this—that the question of precedence has never absolutely been ruled upon as between one King and Emperor or another King and Emperor. That has never been absolutely ruled amongst the Courts of Europe. But this, I think, has been the case—that practically, whenever the title of King has come into competition with that of Emperor, up to this moment 1742 either the former title has been completely absorbed or has assumed the second place. If I take the Kingship of the Emperor of Austria when he was King of the Romans and also King of Hungary, I find that he was never heard of as King of Hungary or King of the Romans, except in the days when he was crowned with the iron crown in the Cathedral of Milan. He was called Emperor of Austria, and in that title his Kingship was practically swallowed up. Under the teaching of circumstances which perfectly warrant the act, the King of Prussia, as he was a few years ago, has become the German Emperor, and has ceased to be King of Prussia; but whether that title is technically used or not I cannot speak positively; but we know that his Kingship is entirely absorbed in that of Emperor. Now, I want to know why I am to be dragged into novelties, or into comparisons on a subject of this sort? If it be that Queen of the United Kingdom is still to remain the superior title, what do we then do? We introduce a completely new anomaly into the nomenclature of titles, because undoubtedly the title of Emperor has certain pretensions: they are not given up, but they are exhibited by the facts I have just recited, that, where the two come into competition, the title of Emperor prevails. But why are we to invent another innovation and say that from the principal and central, and I do not hesitate to say the superior, dominion Her Majesty shall derive the title of Queen, but that from the scondary dominion she shall derive the higher title—namely, the title of Empress. Is there a difference between the two titles; and, if so, is it a difference of which we ought to take note? History, in my opinion, goes far to determine that question. There is on the title of Emperor a historic stamp. The right hon. Gentleman cannot escape from the whole of the records of history by quoting Gibbon and the peculiarly exceptional and solitary period of the Antonines. We have not always got Antonines to govern us. If we had, oven some of the machinery and labour of this House might be dispensed with. The title of Emperor is distinguished, it seems to me, in history from the title of King by two characteristics. The title of King is commonly and by usage hereditary. If we except Poland, there is no other very strong case we can 1743 quote historically of the elective character in conjunction with the title of King. The title of King is, as I have said, hereditary; the title of Emperor is not, according to history it is elective. I do not, of course, mean to deny that you have now certain hereditary Empires—Empires, in comparison, of yesterday, because the German Emperor has been an Emperor only a few years, the Emperor of Austria only from the commencement of this century, and the Czar only from a period in the last. But the ancient Empire which gave its historic character to the title was elective from the first. I do not mean regularly elective, because force often stepped in; but originally the title of Imperator was a military title voluntarily conferred, and it was historically derived from that military title when it was borne by the Roman Emperors. Those Emperors, I may add, did not exercise their regular prerogatives of government in virtue of their being Emperors. They had quite enough of King-craft in them, or Emperor-craft, if yon like so to call it, to know on what they ought to base their authority, and consequently they availed themselves of the ancient titles of the Republic; and while assuming in the face of the world the title of Emperor, they also took the old constitutional title of Consul or other officer, in order that they might be legally entitled to exercise the functions of government. As Emperors they had no lawful powers. Powers they had, but they were not powers restrained by law. As to the Roman Emperorship, I need not enter into detail of the manner in which it was commonly disposed of and of the part exercised by the Prætorian Guards in the choice of the incoming candidate. The same may be said of the Emperors of Constantinople. In Germany the justice of the view which I have endeavoured to lay before the House was still more strongly illustrated. The Emperor of Germany is a gigantic figure in the retrospect of history, and I was astonished, I confess, when I heard the right hon. Gentleman say that the Emperor of Germany had no precedence over the Kings contemporary with himself. I do not know whether he retained it down to the very latest period of the existence of the title; but undoubtedly in the period of Charles V., and in all 1744 antecedent ages, if not in some of those that followed, until the Empire of Germany became so tremendously weakened with the religious wars following the Reformation, the precedence of the Emperor of Germany over the Sovereigns of Europe was undoubted. This is not a place or time for literary controversy; but it is clear that the Emperorship of Germany, which is the great and cardinal example of modern Emperorship for Christian Europe, was strictly an elective institution. Moreover, being an elective institution, it was an institution—and that is the second point of distinction between the two great titles—altogether exempt from the control of law. These are juridical questions, raised as to the rights of the Emperor with respect to the Pope, which lie entirely outside of this discussion; but speaking of the Empire of Germany, what legislative powers did the Emperor, after he had been elected, possess? None, What he possessed he possessed by the strong hand, and that is the character of the German Emperor. I am not saying that the powers were ill-used, or that he was not, on the whole, probably a very beneficial person for the Europe of those days; but what I am saying is that the title of Emperor is one which in the course of history has been almost uniformly dissociated from hereditary succession, and associated with elective succession, and, on the other hand, dissociated from the regular control of law, and associated with the undefined exercise of will, and very often with the simplest way of enforcing it. I confess these are very serious considerations, and if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to have anything like an unanimous or general assent of the British Parliament to the proposal he makes, he must give us further information and other reasons besides those which he has heretofore laid before us in order to bring about any such result. The right hon. Gentleman will therefore, I hope, be disposed to accede to the wish of my hon. Friend. I am perfectly certain that if this were an ordinary Bill my hon. Friend would be justified in pressing his demand by the usual means which are in the hands of Members—namely, by challenging the judgment of the House, and if he does not press it, it will not be because he has not occasion for pressing it, but be 1745 cause he is unwilling to take issue with the right hon. Gentleman in the form of a division, at any rate until the necessity becomes absolute. There is one other point on which I am anxious to make a few comments. I was, I own, struck by what fell from my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) the other evening in reference to the colonies. Whether it be desirable to make any recital with regard to the colonies or not, it is a subject which requires much consideration whether we can wisely introduce reference to India in the title of the Sovereign, while we at the same time take no notice of the colonies. The right hon. Gentleman, the Prime Minister, assured us on the first evening of the discussion that such a proceeding would be wholly superfluous, inasmuch as the Colonies were included in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. I should gladly accede to his proposition if I were aware of any sufficient ground—I might almost say of any ground—which can be alleged for a statement so novel and so paradoxical. The legal inclusion for certain purposes, not in the title of the Sovereign, but in the scope of Acts of Parliament, and up to certain limits, is a thing perfectly well known; but as to the inclusion of the colonies in the title of the Sovereign and in the name of the United Kingdom, as far as the title of the Sovereign is concerned, I really am not aware of it, and I have yet to learn what authority can be quoted in support of such a proposition. I think it is a very serious matter indeed if, when we have had no opportunity of consulting the colonies or of ascertaining their feelings on such a subject, we were to become parties to an Act which, by its very frame work, excludes the colonies. If the right hon. Gentleman had addressed to us—at least to me individually as a Member of Parliament, along with others—the request that we should give to the Government a discretion to advise the Crown upon the enumeration of countries in the title of the Sovereign, I, for one, should have been disposed, though not seeing any great cause for such request, to acquiesce in it; but the right hen. Gentleman, unfortunately, does not do that. He recquires us to give him a discretion to make an addition in respect to India, but he excludes from the power which he asks of us any 1746 means of making an addition in respect to the colonies; and I do not hesitate to say that I, for one, am not prepared to be a party to the exclusion of the colonies from the scope of this Bill. I am willing to leave it to the Government to consider that matter; but my impression is that if anything is to be done, the colonies ought to be noticed, and consequently I am not willing to be a party to their exclusion. Sir, I conclude with expressing a hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give some further consideration to this question. I must say I think that when his opening speech on the former night was heard by the House it was felt that the examination and scrutiny of the matter had hardly been carried up to the point which its gravity and its delicacy required. My disposition is, if it were possible, not to go to issue with the Government on a measure of this kind; but I own that I must hoar from the Government, or those who may support this measure, arguments of a different character and a different gravity from those which hitherto have been adduced, or at some stage or other I fear it will be my duty, reluctant as I may be to enter upon its performance, in some manner or other to mark no inconsiderable degree of dissent from the framework of the measure as it stands.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
There is much of the speech of my right hon. Friend—I mean the antiquarian and historical portions of it—which I think the House will not desire me at present to follow; but there are one or two points in regard to which it is desirable that an answer should be given to his remarks. There was one portion of my right hon. Friend's eloquent speech in which he touched a chord which must have found a response in the heart of every Member of this Assembly when he spoke of the love and veneration attaching to the old and beloved title of our English Queen. But we have no question before us as to the maintenance of that old and truly British title. There is no question of losing that which is entwined in the hearts of all Englishmen. It is a question of a totally different character that we have before us to night. Will hon. Members look for a moment at the position in which we stand? My right hon. Friend said he regarded the measure with some misgiving and mistrust, 1747 and the hon Member for Banbury (Mr. Samuelson) in plainer language said he could not deny that he viewed it with something like prejudice. But, in point of fact, are we now doing anything very extraordinary? Are we proposing anything very much out of the usual course of English history, or are we not rather following the precedents set in former cases when there have been changes in the Constitution and limits of the Empire? My right hon. Friend says—"Let us look to precedents." Well, there have been several changes in the style of the Sovereign of this country. In the first place, there is the style given to the Sovereigns who ruled over the three portions of the now United Kingdom, and when we had our King of England, of Scotland, and of Ireland. When the union was effected between England and Scotland you changed the designation, not because there had been any difference in the acquisition of power by the King, but because you were bringing together two portions of the Empire, and placing them in different relations one towards the other, and you substituted for "England and Scotland" the term "Great Britain." In a similar way, when the union was effected between Great Britain and Ireland, you dropped the separate titles and adopted the title of "the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland." My right hon. Friend opposite, when he was speaking as to whether this was done by statute or prerogative, charged my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government with taking a fallacious view with regard to prerogative. Now, I would ask him by what power it was done on the occasion of the change to which I have referred at the time of the union with Ireland, when the title of "King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" was assumed? By what authority was it that the title of "King of France" was at the same time abandoned? Was that by statute or by prerogative? It was by prerogative. It was in consequence of the power given to His Majesty to exercise his prerogative that that change was made. Similarly in consequence of the power now given to exercise the prerogative, Her Majesty will exercise it in order if this Bill is passed to effect the change which is about to be made. What are the circumstances of this change? Up to the 1748 year 1858 the territories which are now governed by Her Majesty in India were held and governed in trust for Her Majesty by the East India Company. On the occasion of the abolition of the power of the East India Company an Act of Parliament was passed which said that those dominions should henceforth be governed in the name of Her Majesty herself, and not by any one in trust for her. It would have been perfectly reasonable if at that time some step had been taken such as was taken at the time of the Union with Scotland and the Union with Ireland. Similarly it would have been perfectly natural and right, and no one would have questioned it at that time if it had been thought expedient to give a title distinctly to mark Her Majesty as Ruler of India. Indeed, I believe there are right hon. Gentlemen sitting on that Bench who at the time talked of that course being taken; but for good political reasons connected with the circumstances of the Mutiny that stop was not then taken. Well, it not having been taken then there has never been any occasion on which it would have seemed desirable or fitting to remedy the defect until the present year. It can now be done in a graceful manner without any hints as to sinister designs or any intentions of changing the relations between this country and the people and Princes of India. It has become a reasonable thing for us to ask that Her Majesty should be empowered to take the title which would have been given to her in 1858 but for circumstances which have now ceased to exist. My right hon. Friend said—"Let us be well assured that no change is intended in the political status of the Princes of India." But does my right hon. Friend really think it necessary seriously to put such a question as that? If he can allow such a suspicion to enter his head he had better give up his words of distrust, adopt the more candid language of the hon. Member for Banbury, and speak of prejudice. There may be something which reveals itself to my right hon. Friend, but which does not reveal itself to ordinary minds; but, for my part, I am wholly unable to see how the addition to Her Majesty's style and titles of a title which is to mark her as being specially connected with India can in any way whatever affect the political status of Indian Princes. The 1749 Proclamation which Her Most Gracious Majesty was pleased to issue when she assumed the direct Government of India is still in force, and by that Proclamation and by the law of the land will the Government of India continue to be governed. But my right hon. Friend says—"After all, what is it that we have to look to? You are talking to us of the wishes of the people of India." Well, it is from an Indian point of view that the question ought to be regarded; and if hon. Members would only bring themselves to regard it, as they ought to do, from that point of view, we should hear much less of these feelings of misgiving and mistrust, and statements about the character of the Emperor of this country and of another, all the examples being drawn from European history. We are told that there is no wish expressed on the part of the people of India for this new title. The people of India have expressed themselves on this subject. The hon. Gentleman (Sir George Campbell), who knows India well, spoke in a different tone from the right hon. Gentleman opposite as to the opinions of the people of India.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I admit that we have not attempted a plebiscite in India to collect the opinions of the people there; but we are not without some evidence of their feeling. In the first place, the title of Empress has been used. On August 18, 1873, Lord Northbrook, in writing to the Ameer of Yarkand, described the Queen in this manner—"Mr. Forsyth," the Envoy sent on this occasion, "is also the bearer of a Poyal letter from Her Majesty the Queen of India and the Empress of Hindostan."
§ MR. SAMUELSON
Will the right hon. Gentleman have the kindness to inform the House whether Yarkand is in British India?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
No; but Lord Northbrook was the Viceroy of the Queen, and it was in India and from India that he sent a letter bearing this title. I have not searched all the Indian journals, but here is an extract from The Friend of India, dated December 12, 1873, referring to a fete given by the Talookdars of Oude, which, for the satisfaction of 1750 the hon. Member for Banbury, is, I may state, in India. At this fete the Talookdars presented to the Governor General a loyal address, which thus concluded—We would entreat your Excellency to assure Her Majesty, Empress of Hindostan, of our eternal gratitude and constant loyalty.… In conclusion, we earnestly beg your Excellency to convey to our beloved Sovereign our long-wished-for and fervent prayer that Her Majesty, in addition to her numerous high titles, be graciously pleased to be called in accordance with the immemorable usage of our country."—and I will not venture upon the Hindostanee word, but I am told that it is equivalent to "Empress." ["Name."] Well, it is true that I held for a short time the Seals of the India Office, but I did not during that time learn the language of India. The word is "Sháhán-sháh-i-Hind Zil-i-Subháni." I am told this word corresponds in the minds of the Natives of India with the word "Empress." To me, however, it docs not signify whether the words exactly correspond or not. The fact remains that there was, and is, a desire on the part of many of the Natives and Princes of India that Her Majesty should take a title distinctly denoting that she holds a certain sway in India. We are told, and truly told, that in Europe there is no difference between the ranks of Queen and Empress; but although it is true that in Europe it could make no difference whether one title or the other was used, except that there is, perhaps, a prejudice against the title of Empress, may it not be equally true that among Eastern nations there is a great deal of difference between the two titles, with a prejudice the other way in favour of Empress? Let the House remember that among Oriental people an enormous value is attached to very slight distinctions. What to us may appear exceedingly trumpery and trivial distinctions, are in their eyes of the greatest importance. It is of the highest consequence, therefore, that we should take care that Her Majesty should in no "way suffer in India by the assumption of any title or the use of any language signifying that she holds a less exalted position than any other Sovereign. We have still sitting on the opposite Bench right hon. Gentlemen who were Colleagues of the late Lord Palmerston. Lord Palmerston was very jealous on this subject. About a year or two after Her Majesty came to the 1751 Throne, Lord Palmerston had a serious conversation with the Persian Envoy of that day, complaining that the title given to Her Majesty by the Persian Government was an inferior title. The Persian Envoy at the time was Hossein Khan, and the title given to the Queen was Malikeh; whereas Lord Palmerston contended that Her Majesty should be called by the Imperial title of Pádsháh. In the end, Lord Palmerston compelled the Persian Envoy to admit that the Queen was entitled to the higher and more important title. Now, Persia is not in India, and Yarkand is not in India, and the same may be said of many other countries in Central Asia; but the people of all those countries are continually brought into close relations with the Natives of India, and throughout all those countries there is one Power in particular which exercises a great and deserved influence. Is it well that to the Emperor of Russia should be given in those countries a title which appears to the people there to be higher and greater than the title borne by the Queen? The announcement has been made that it is Her Majesty's wish to mark the visit of the Prince of Wales to India by taking some title which should seem to connect that country more closely with our own; and after this first step has been taken, will anybody be satisfied that she should adopt a title which may appear in the eyes of the people of India to be lower than the title of the Emperor of Russia? It is all very well to say that in this country and in this House the title of Queen is as high as the title of Empress. We know it to be so, and to ourselves the title of Queen is so dear that we should not like to see Her Majesty barter it for any other. But in India the case is different. Whatever you may think of the propriety of marking this epoch by completing that which was the original intention in 1858, consider in what position you will be if, after making the proposal, you either go back or appear to hesitate. We have made the proposal, and for our part we do not hesitate on the ground directly stated by the right hon. Member (Mr. Lowe), that we may have to surrender this title if we lose India; and again put forward or rather hinted at by my right hon. Friend just now, when he said that this is a step which we may one 1752 day have to regret: but let us show tonight that we have no fear that we shall lose our Indian Empire, or ever be compelled to retrace the step we are now adopting.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he did not concur with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the power given by the Act of Union to George III. to take any title he thought fit was to be exercised as a matter of prerogative. On the contrary, he regarded it as the use of a power given by a statute. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had entirely misunderstood the argument of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich. His right hon. Friend did not suppose that the Government intended to make any change in the position of the Princes of India; but he pointed out that, without intending it, such a change might be made. Of course, if there was any ground for that fear it would be possible to remove it in the later stages of the Bill. The really important question before the House was whether Her Majesty should have the title of Queen or Empress; and, in his opinion, it was a question which at present they were hardly in a position to discuss. They had an important Bill before them, and it was only now, upon the second reading, that they were told what the object of the Bill was. He thought that, under such circumstances, they were scarcely in a condition to consider the arguments either for or against the proposed addition of the title of Empress. His hon. Friend (Mr. Samuel-son) therefore would be perfectly justified in persisting in his Amendment; but, at the same time, it was a matter of some importance that they should come to a unanimous conclusion. He had listened with great attention to the speech of the Prime Minister; but he did not hear him advance any argument to justify the proposed title. He said that it was the same as Queen, yet it would affect the imaginations of our Indian fellow-subjects. His object in rising now, however, was simply to say that he thought the right hon. Gentleman had not only misunderstood his (Mr. Forster's) remarks about the colonies, but, what was of much greater importance, he misunderstood the feelings that would be excited in the colonies. He regretted exceedingly that when the very important step was taken 1753 of proposing an addition which was tantamount to a change in the titles of our Sovereign—no change having been made since the beginning of the present century, and only two or three changes in the whole course of the existence of our Monarchy—the question of including our great colonies had not been more thoroughly considered. He thought the difficulty was very much increased by the fact that when the Queen was proclaimed throughout India—perhaps not legally, but certainly officially—a new title was assumed, and the Queen was known to be proclaimed as Queen of the United Kingdom and its colonies and dependencies; and now, when an official change of title was about to be made, the colonies were passed over and entirely ignored. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman had no intention of slighting the colonies, and he thought the observations which he had made on that subject would be received with satisfaction by our colonial brethren; but he could not say as much for the right hon. Gentleman's argument. He said the colonies were part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, but every one knew that they were not. For instance, no Government could contemplate parting with a portion of the United Kingdom, as with Gambia. The right hon. Gentleman made use of a further argument—namely, that people went to the colonies to make their fortunes and came back to spend them in England, and that the colonists constituted a fluctuating population. He (Mr. Forster) objected to that view being taken of our colonists. The colonists did not regard themselves as a fluctuating population, but as the founders of mighty communities; they were conscious that they were already great communities, and the people of England were equally conscious that they were so. It was therefore much to be regretted that when a change of title was about to be made the colonies did not receive that recognition which they deserved by being included in the new title.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, that as he rose only to support the Motion for adjournment, he did not think it necessary to speak on the main question, for he took it that the adjournment would be conceded by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. The 1754 right hon. Gentleman must be aware from the grim silence with which his announcement had been received on that (the Opposition) side of the House that they were deeply disappointed with the title which he intended to recommend to Her Majesty. The country also, he believed, would be deeply disappointed; and as soon as they knew that Empress was the title to be adopted they would speak out very loudly about it. They in that House knew it that night for the first time; and he thought they would be false to their trust if they did not give the people an opportunity of considering the subject before the Bill was adopted. It had been urged that the title of Empress would gratify the feelings of the people of India; but, in his opinion, the feelings of the people of this country were of very much more importance than the feelings of the people of India or even than those of the colonies, though these were of some account too, and were now being ignored. They should not, therefore, decide this question until they knew what were the feelings of the people regarding it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that Lord Northbrook had already used the title of Empress in reference to the Queen's Sovereignty in India. But who had given the noble Lord authority to do such a tiling? They were not going to justify him in what he had done, and confirm it because he, on some occasion without authority, had given the Queen a new title. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had alluded to the awkward position in which they would be placed if the House now hesitated to go on with the Bill after the Government had announced their intentions; but that was not the fault of the Opposition, and if anything wrong had been done, let it be laid on the shoulders of those alone who were responsible for it. He ventured to predict that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would live to regret the day he touched this question at all.
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, he had lived in India for 30 years, and he was in a position to declare that the assumption of a titular dignity in India by Her Majesty, where her Sovereignty was already known, acknowledged, and felt, would give to the Natives of that country the greatest possible satisfaction. When this Bill was introduced on the 17th of February the discussion that ensued was 1755 most unsatisfactory. He came down prepared to hear the Prime Minister introduce the Bill, and he thought the opportunity would be immediately taken by the noble Lord who led the Opposition to second the Motion cordially, and that the discussion would immediately terminate. But nothing of the sort occurred. The noble Lord was in his place, and apparently quite in his usual form. But he remained doggedly silent. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) jumped upon his legs as soon as the Prime Minister had sat down, and made a speech of the greatest bitterness against the Bill. That speech was altogether unworthy of the reputation of the right hon. Gentleman as a statesman, and, he believed, created considerable amazement in the rank and file of the Opposition. The action of Gentlemen on the front Opposition bench on that occasion seemed to betoken divided counsels, and that the Leadership of the Liberal Party, on that night at least, was in commission. Assuming that Her Majesty would take the title of Empress, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London condemned it on the ground that it would imply the exercise of political personal power by Her Majesty in India, and he quoted Blackstone in corroboration of his argument. But the people of India knew nothing of Blackstone, and cared less. What they did know was that the Representative of Her Majesty in India had exercised political personal sway of the most absolute kind, especially with regard to the Princes of that country. The Natives of India knew that the Viceroy acted under the instructions of a Secretary of State who was responsible to Parliament; therefore, whether Her Majesty assumed the title of Queen or Empress was merely a matter of sentiment, the style was not one which would make the slightest difference in her government of India. Then, according to the right hon. Gentleman, the title of Queen of India would be equally objectionable, because the colonists of Australia and Tasmania would be displeased. He (Mr. Smollett) knew nothing of them; he had heard they were rather a rough lot, but they could not be so stubborn or pig-headed as the right hon. Gentleman would lead us to assume. There was no similarity 1756 between India and the colonies. India was not a colony; it was a subject Empire, with 200,000,000 of people, its revenue was £50,000,000, its trade, import and export, amounted to £130,000,000 sterling annually, and £300,000,000 or £400,000,000 of British capital were sunk in that country. It was therefore worth 100 such places as Tasmania. He had stated in rising that any titular designation assumed by Her Majesty in India would be agreeable to the people, and he might add that it would be most acceptable to the Princes in Asia. He would tell the reason why. During the 30 years that he (Mr. Smollett) resided in India every Ruler in a Native principality lived in a state of sullen discontent and filled with gloomy forebodings of ruin. They looked upon themselves as a doomed race. Every Governor General who went out to India wont with the craze of annexation upon him, and that craze was contagious. Some of them declared that that annexation policy was our irresistible destiny; but that was a "sham." Lord Dal-housie, the greatest Viceroy under the dynasty of the East India Company, had no dissimulation in him, and he laid it down that the whole of India ought to be brought under British rule, and that no opportunity should be neglected for dethroning a Native Prince and bringing his dominions under our sway. Being a Great Mogul, he found opportunities as thick as blackberries; and one of his last and most discreditable assumptions of power was the seizure of Oude. He justified his annexation of Oude on the ground that the people would be delighted to come under British rule. Lord Dalhousie said he would not require the services of another regiment to defend the annexation, and yet within 18 months of that time the Bengal Sepoys rose in rebellion, and the people of Oude joined the mutineers to a man. The Mutiny was quenched in blood, and when order was restored the Government of India was transferred from the Company to the Crown. The Proclamation then issued by Her Majesty made the name of Queen Victoria the most popular name in Asia, because it repudiated the doctrine of annexation; and from that day the Princes of India had enjoyed what he called a new lease of life. The auspicious visit of the Prince of Wales would serve greatly to stimulate the loy 1757 alty of the Native Princes. The people would look on the proposed addition to Her Majesty's title as a proof that she was proud of her Eastern dominions, and the Princes would regard the act as a renewed pledge of her protection to them for the future. The House must jealously watch the action of Secretaries of State and of future Viceroys, for they were not to be trusted; and it must also take care that every promise made in that Proclamation to Prince or people was fulfilled to the letter, for the Proclamation, though received with favour by the people, was cursed in their hearts by the ruling class in India. The civil and military servants of the Crown in India had always advocated the spoliation of Native rulers.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The House is evidently anxious that the debate should be brought to a close, and I have no intention of prolonging it, partly for this reason—that there appears to be no debate to be continued. The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich can scarcely be said to have received an answer from the other side of the House; and I trust that the subject which he has proposed for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government will receive that consideration, at any rate before we reach the next stage of this Bill. I certainly do not intend to follow the observations of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Smollett), except to remark that he began by taunting me for not having risen on the night when this Bill was introduced, and immediately seconding the Motion of the First Lord of the Treasury. Now, considering that I not only was not then aware what use was to be made of the powers which were proposed to be conferred on Her Majesty, but also that I had not at that moment, any more than the hon. Member, been favoured with a sight of the Bill that was to be brought in, it would, I think, have been rather premature for me to have offered myself as the Seconder of the measure. I now merely rise to call the attention of the House to one feature which I think may have been observed in the speeches that have been delivered to-night. The right hon. Gentleman opposite began by imploring the House, if possible, to arrive at a unanimous conclusion. My right hon. Friends who have spoken on this side also urged on the House the ex 1758 treme undesirability, if it can be avoided, of dissension in such a matter as this, and they have all indicated that if there must—as I fear there must—be a division of opinion among us before the Bill leaves this House—at all events, that division should be postponed till the latest possible period. I cannot say I think the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Samuelson) was unreasonable. It is hardly reasonable that a Bill should at once be read the second time, the purport and object of which was only communicated to the House this evening. But it appears to me that in assenting to the second reading the House will do no more than give its assent to one of the principles recited in the Preamble of the Bill—namely, that it is expedient that there should be a recognition of the transfer of government so made by means of an addition to be made to the style and titles of Her Majesty. The objections taken by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson), and I believe by many other hon. Members on this side of the House, to the title which Her Majesty is to be advised to assume can certainly be discussed with equal advantage at a later stage of the proceedings. Therefore, I trust that my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury may think fit, with the permission of the House, to withdraw the Motion that he has made; and I hope, on the other side, that the Government will be willing to meet him in a conciliatory spirit by postponing the Committee on the Bill a sufficient time to enable Members of this House to consider the announcement which has been made to them to-night, and also for the consideration of the subject by the country. For although we are told we are legislating primarily in the interests of the people of India, we cannot forget that what we are doing may, to a great extent, affect this country and our colonies also. I hope therefore, the Government will consent to postpone the Committee on the Bill to a reasonable period.
§ DR. KENEALY
said, it appeared to him that the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) were unanswerable, and remained entirely untouched by anything that had been advanced on the part of the Government. He had hoped 1759 that the Government would have been able to produce documentary proof of the necessity for this Bill; but instead of that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had contented himself with sneering at the idea that the title of Emperor or of Empress was associated with military power, and he had to go back some 16 or 17 centuries, to the time of the Antonines, to refute it. The fact itself, however, tended strongly to confirm the assertion. The dedication of the Faery Queen, by Spenser, was not an argument, and ought not to have been seriously treated as such. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman was serious in employing it. He (Dr. Kenealy) objected to the title of Empress because it was a despotic one, and one not fitted for a constitutional Sovereign to adopt. Upon high political grounds he asked the right hon. Gentleman to defer this question until the country, with the information it now possessed, had pronounced upon it. The Imperial title had evil associations in India, and should we ever lose our hold on that vast country, where the light of education was beginning to spread, and whore the spirit of freedom might soon awaken, how ignominious it would be for the Sovereign of this country to have to abandon the title which it was now proposed to assume!
§ MR. SAMUELSON
explained in reference to the imputation to himself of prejudice on the subject of the Bill, which had been made against him on the part of the Government, that he had given his reasons for objecting to the title of Empress; but he said that if prejudice did exist on the subject, nothing that had been said in reference to it by the Government had tended to remove that prejudice. He only wished to add that he was perfectly willing to withdraw the Amendment if the House thought it better that the further consideration of the question should take place on going into Committee. ["No."]
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 31; Noes 284: Majority 253.
§ MR. DISRAELI
There is only one clause in the Bill, and, therefore, I propose to take it this day week.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday next.