§ (3.45.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
rose to call attention to the disasters at Manipur and the causes which led to them, and to move—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House further Correspondence relating to Manipur.The right hon. Gentleman said; Among the frequent criticisms which have been made in regard to the conduct of business in this House, there is one which cannot stand. It cannot be said that the House of Commons bestows too much attention on the condition of the affairs of our Indian Empire. When we consider that we are responsible for the condition and well-being of some 300,000,000 of people 542 in India, it is, perhaps, not satisfactory that generally speaking the affairs of India occupy our attention for only a few hours, and those usually at the fag-end of the Session. I do not make this observation with the view of thinking that it would be desirable that the House of Commons should perpetually occupy itself in interfering with, and endeavouring to supervise the conduct of the Indian Government. I think that the House of Commons exercises a wise and prudent reserve in that matter, being conscious of the great difficulty and responsibility of the questions which may arise, and conscious also of its imperfect acquaintance with the conditions under which that Government is conducted. Therefore, Sir, I do not enter into this discussion, from any point of view, with the idea of laying down that the House of Commons should generally set itself up as a critic of the Indian Administration in its details as it does in respect of our domestic affairs at home. And, therefore, whenever we are called upon to discuss these questions, I am sure the Hon se of Commons will always address itself to them in a spirit of calmness, moderation, and impartiality in the treatment of them. I desire, also, in making this Motion, to disclaim any idea of bringing a general indictment against the Indian Administration. Whatever may have been the faults of the Indian Government in former times—and they were many—I think that in later days our Indian Administration has been one with which we may well be satisfied, and of which we have a right to be proud. Still less do I desire to make this Motion in any spirit of attack or hostility upon the present Viceroy of India. Every man who is acquainted with Lord Lansdowne will approach the consideration of any act of his Government with a disposition to place confidence in his high character, intelligence, capacity, and humanity. But, Sir, subject to all these considerations, I think that when events have happened such as those which have occurred in Manipur—when we have had a British force cut to pieces; when high officials of the Indian Government have been slain; when, in point of fact, a Native Government under our protection has been practically overthrown—it would be the very cynicism of indifference if the House of Commons were to treat 543 such events as matters of no concern of ours. I think it is due to our responsibility, it is due to the people we are called upon to govern, that we should show we are not indifferent to matters which must greatly concern us and our Indian Empire. It is entirely in that spirit, Sir, that I desire to introduce this matter to the attention of the House. I think it would be a grave dereliction of duty on the part of the House of Commons, upon its responsibility as the great inquest of the nation if we did not, at all events, inquire of the responsible Government what the events have actually been, what were the causes which led to them, and how it is proposed to deal with them. There is another consideration which I think we ought to bear in view in this matter. This is a question which concerns the relations of the Indian Government with the Native States of India. Everybody knows that it is a matter of the greatest importance that we should preserve those relations upon a footing of friendliness and confidence. Manipur is a small place, and may be regarded as insignificant; but its dealings with the English Government are regarded with serious and anxious attention by all other Native States. The great feudatories look with anxiety and even jealousy upon anything we may do in regard to a Native State, however small or insignificant. That fact naturally gives great importance to the policy we may pursue in this respect. And, Sir, there is another consideration with which we have to count, and which did not exist in former times. Owing to the fact of our influence and civilisation, there has grown up in India an Indian public opinion, and it is not only to English but to Indian public opinion that we must commend the justice and the wisdom of our rule in India. That is a matter which we cannot leave out of sight at all. Therefore I cannot think that, even at this period of the Session, the House of Commons will be wasting its time if, in the midst of our domestic controversies, we devote a few hours to the consideration of this question. I do not know that it is even necessary to make this apology for introducing the subject to the consideration of the House of Commons. I need not make the ordinary disclaimer that this Motion has nothing about it of a Party 544 character. That fact must really appear on the face of it and in the form in which it is couched. I have designedly and advisedly adopted the old Parliamentary form of calling attention to the subject, and asking the Government for Papers. That is a method which has been adopted very frequently in reference to external affairs when it has not been desired to move any Vote of Censure upon any particular policy, but to see that the House of Commons and the country should be made acquainted with the views and the policy which the Government are about to pursue. I should like to describe this Motion as a matter of inquiry, which will enable and will call upon the Government to give further explanations in reference to this matter which do not appear on the face of the Papers at present in our possession. I think that the Government have recognised this aspect of the case. They do not regard it as a hostile Motion directed against them or against the Indian Government. It is in the interests of all Government, and especially of the Indian Government, that the views of the responsible Ministers at home should be stated, and it is all the more necessary in this case, because the Papers already published contain no statement of the view of the Home Government in reference to the transaction. When I ask for the production of Papers, I desire to refer to Papers which display and declare the views of the Secretary of State for India and the Government of this country, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that the views of the Government will be stated to-night by a Member of this House, who always addresses it—I am speaking of the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Indian Department in this House (Sir John Gorst)—with great knowledge of the subject upon which he speaks, and with great ability. I am, therefore, certain, Sir, that the views of the Indian Government will be well represented on this occasion. One part of the duty which I have to perform I shall endeavour to discharge as briefly as possible. I shall endeavour to state the facts as dispassionately as I can, and simply to raise those points which appear to me to require further explanation. I have alluded to the fact that we 545 have here in these Papers no statement of the views of the Indian Government at home—that is to say, of the Secretary of State, with or without the advice of his Council in India. Of course, the House of Commons looks to the Secretary of State for India as responsible for important transactions such as those which have occurred in India. But the remarkable portion of the Blue Book is, that it begins with a Despatch or a telegram from the Secretary of State for India on February 19th, asking for information of the circumstances attending the expulsion and abdication of the Maharajah of Manipur, which took place five months before. That is the first point upon which I ask for an explanation It is plain upon the face of this Blue Book that these events—that is, the deposition of the Maharajah of Manipur and the determination of the Indian Government to send an armed force to Manipur to restore the Jubraj upon the Throne—was taken without any communication from the. Indian Government to the Secretary of State at home. I confess that that is a circumstance which causes me some surprise. I should have supposed that in the course of five months some communications in reference to a matter of this kind would have passed between the Government of India and the Government of India in London. It is a remarkable fact that these events took place at the end of September last, and that, after communications backwards and forwards between the Commissioner of Assam and the Resident at Manipur and the Government at Calcutta, the final determination of the policy of the Indian Government was to send an armed expedition to Manipur, and that the massacres took place before the Secretary of State in London heard of the affair at all, or that anything had occurred at Manipur. It will be seen from the Blue Book that the second Despatch, which will be found on the first page, is dated March 4th, and it would arrive in London, I suppose, about three weeks afterwards, and must, therefore, have been received at or about the time that the disaster at Manipur occurred. That is a circumstance in regard to the relations between the Government of India and the Government in London upon which we ought to have some explanation. I observe that, 546 curiously enough, there are hardly any communications in this Blue Book between the Secretary of State in London and the Government of India, and none until after the disaster occurred. But at page 58 of the Blue Book there occurs a telegram dated April 15th, which is very curious. It is from the Secretary of State in London to the Viceroy at Simla, and it says, "Can you not keep me informed more fully as to Manipur affairs." That is seven months after the revolution at Manipur had occurred in September; and it throws some light upon the situation and the relations which appear to have existed between the two Governments in a matter of such grave importance—the Government at Calcutta and the Government in London. No opinion seems to have been given with regard to any steps which might have been taken in the matter. Not even after the disaster had occurred was any opinion asked or given as to the punishments to be awarded or the policy to be pursued. There is not one line in this Blue Book from the Secretary of State in Loudon or from the Indian Authorities in London which shows that up to the present date they took any active steps in regard to these transactions. It seems to me impossible that that is a state of things which the House of Commons, looking to the Secretary of State as the responsible Minister-in this matter, can accept. Some time or other the Secretary of State would be bound to review the whole subject and to express the views of the responsible Government upon the whole matter. That is one of the principal Papers which I desire to have presented to the House of Commons. I will, however, go from that point to the transactions themselves and the policy which has been pursued. I do not propose to enter into more details than is absolutely necessary. I assume that the House of Commons is acquainted with the general outline of the case and knows what occurred; and therefore I will only call attention to such particular points as in my opinion seem to demand attention. It appears that on the 22nd of September an attack was made upon the reigning Maharajah of Manipur. Mr. Grimwood, the Political Agent, attributes it to the Doolairoi Hanjaba and the Zillah Sing, brothers of the Maharajah, although it 547 would appear that the Senapatti was the prime mover in the matter, and there can be no doubt that he was the principal agent in the removal of the reigning Maharajah. The Political Agent, Mr. Grimwood, reported by telegram to Mr. Quinton, the Chief Commissioner of Assam, what had occurred, and he received instructions from Mr. Quinton, which were confirmed by the Government in Calcutta, to mediate and not to assume the offensive—that is to say, that he was not to attempt to replace the Maharajah upon his Throne, but to mediate. This is important, because it bears upon the view which was subsequently taken of the persons who were afterwards described as conspirators. Nobody would mediate with conspirators. Well, that was the primary instruction given to Mr. Grim-wood as to what he was to do. And what did Mr. Grimwood do? Because the action he took appears to bear very greatly upon what subsequently occurred. Mr. Grimwood went to the Senapatti. He says—I then sent word to the Palace that I would go and see the Senapatti the next morning.Mr. Grimwood had taken no part in the overthrowing of the Maharajah, but he did not find that it would be possible to re-establish him upon the Throne, and it is quite clear from the Papers in the Blue Book that from the very first Mr. Grimwood was of opinion that the retirement of the Maharajah from the Throne was a very good tiling for Manipur. He says—When I went to the Palace the Senapatti and his brothers were evidently very pleased at the Maharajah's resolution.That is, that he would go away—and the former promised to make all the arrangements for the journey of the Marahajah and his brothers to Cachar in a proper manner.Thus we have the Political Resident agreeing with the Senapatti to make arrangements for the retirement of the Maharajah, and that was the course taken in the first instance in this matter. You will find it referred to over and over again, and the view of Mr. Grimwood is stated at page 7 of the Blue Book—The Maharajah unluckily, instead of exercising his authority over all his brothers without favouring one more than another, sided entirely with the Pucca Sena. On the other hand, while the Pucca Sena seems to have been 548 generally disliked by the people, the Senapatti is the most popular of all his brothers, not only with the Manipuris, but with the natives of India who reside here.That is the view taken by the Political Resident and I think that in every other part or these Papers it will be found that the same view is taken. Of course, that view was reported at once to Mr. Quinton, and the date of the Despatch is very important. The date of Mr. Grimwood's Report to Mr. Quinton was the 25th of September, so that the Commissioner of Assam was in full possession of what had happened, and of the view of the Political Residentat Manipur, on September 25. That view seems to have been completely accepted at that time by Mr. Quinton, the Commissioner of Assam, and it will be found in his Despatch that he takes the same view of the subject, and that he entirely approves, as far as one can judge, of the course taken, by Mr. Grimwood. Mr. Quinton reported to the Government of India. It is difficult to follow the details clearly, because they are only to be found in enclosures, but it will be found that Mr. Grimwood reported to the Government of India on the 9th of October, and, therefore, it may be fairly said that the Government of India were fully acquainted with what had happened at Manipur up to that ditto. The point to which I wish to call the attention of the Under Secretary and the House is a most important one, namely, that either the view taken by the Political Resident at Manipur in accepting the resolution to allow the Maharajah to be dismissed, and of accepting, in point of fact, what had been done by the Senapatti was either right or wrong. If it was wrong, it was surely the duty of the Government of India, without the smallest delay, to express their disapprobation and dissent from the course which had been pursued. But although the Government were in possession of everything that had occurred on the 9th of October, there was no communication either to Mr. Grimwood or Mr. Quinton that they took a different view of the transaction for at least four months. That, in my opinion, is what really lies at the root of the whole matter. I have said that, in Mr. Grimwood's view, the deposition 549 of the Maharajah was accepted, and that the individual who was heir to the throne had declared himself Maharajah, and had been established in that position. Indeed, he had communicated to the Indian Government that the new Maharajah had taken his seat on the throne, and that fact was communicated to the Indian Government in the middle of October, although no notice seems to have been taken of it. Mr. Grim wood was allowed to act in accordance with his own view. In his opinion, his view was accepted and approved by the Indian Government, and the new Maharajah was apparently installed with the assent of the Indian Government. There was not a word from the middle of October down to the end of December from the Indian Government. October passes, November passes, December passes, and the status quo is accepted by everybody. The next date in the matter is the 31st of December. At page 9 of the Blue Book there will be found a further letter from Mr. Quinton, Chief Commissioner of Assam, to the Secretary to the Government of India, dated December 31st What is it that he says?—The Political Agent, as arranged, visited the Palace, when the Senapatti promised to make all arrangements for the journey of the Maharajah and his brothers to Cachar in a proper manner, and guaranteed that those who choose to stay at Manipur should not be molested. He undertook to send for the Jubaraj, then eight miles away on the Cachar road, who arrived two or three hours afterwards, and at once proclaimed himself Maharajah. The Maharajah Sur Chandra Singh accompanied by the Pucca Sena and two other brothers and attendants—in all about 60 persons—left Manipur on the evening on the 23rd of September, under an escort of 35 rifles of the 44th Gurkha Light Infantry, who saw the party safely to Cachar, whence they proceeded to Calcutta. The Jubaraj, whoso nomination by the Maharajah as his successor on his demise, had been sanctioned by the Government of India, has since carried on the Government of the country, having been recognised as Regent by the Political Agent under the orders of the Chief Commissioner.The Despatch further states—The succession of the Jubaraj, who has been recognised as heir by the Government of India, merely anticipates the ordinary course of events, and is generally acquiesced in by the people of the State. Since he assumed office the administration has been successfully and tranquilly conducted, and the Political Agent expects no opposition to it, whereas the restoration and maintenance in the Chiefship of Maharajah Sur Chandra Singh, unless effected by 550 a strong British Force, would most probably involve repeated insurrections, such as those which have characterised the history of the Manipur State.Thus, after three months' experience on the part of Mr. Quinton and the Political Resident of the state of affairs at Manipur, they give their approval and support to the existing condition of things. What was the Government of India doing all this time? They knew perfectly well what the situation was. They knew perfectly well what the Senapatti had done. The Senapatti, practically speaking, was Governor of Manipur, yet the very first words which the Government of India uttered was on the 24th of January. They allowed this state of things to go on all through the months of October, November, December, and January, without expressing one word of disapproval of the course of things which had been taking place at Manipur. That Despatch, which is, of course, one of the most important Papers before us, is dated the 24th of January, and in it, for the first time, we have a reference to the transactions which had taken place in September. Until then there had been no expression of any opinion whatever on the part of the Government of India. But in that Despatch they demur to the course which Mr. Grim wood has adopted. They say to Mr. Quinton that—When Mr. Grimwood received your telegram directing him to mediate, and assuring him of military assistance from Kohima, the proper course for him to pursue was to have gone to the Senapatti at the Palace, to have ascertained the reason of the disturbances, and to have communicated with you. It would then, in all probability, have become apparent, before the Political Agent had committed himself to assenting to the Maharajah's flight and thereby admitted the success of the Senapatti's revolt, that the Maharajah was entirely in our hands, and that the Senapatti, a declared traitor in open mutiny, could have been dealt with by us according as circumstances demanded.But the Government of India had known for four months what the conduct of the Senapatti had been in regard to Manipur. That is one of the points on which an explanation is demanded. How is it possible that the Government of India, with full knowledge of everything that had occurred in Manipur since the middle of October, should at the end of January, for the first time, express an opinion and formulate a 551 policy which reversed and disapproved the views taken by Mr. Grimwood and Mr. Quinton? The Government of India is, of course, the superior authority, and had a right to judge and re-judge the acts of its subordinates; but what requires explanation is how it could have allowed his subordinates to go on from September until the end of January without a single word or hint that they dissented from the course which was being pursued? The Government of India, in their Despatch, express their view that the best thing would be to restore the old Maharajah, to remove the Senapatti, and to employ a force with sufficient strength to show that we were the masters of the situation, and to overawe the so-called conspirators. Why did they allow the position to remain without overawing the conspiritors for four months? It was only after that lapse of time that they expressed an opinion—an unfortunate opinion—which was not consistent with that of those who were on the spot, and who were acquainted with all the circumstances—that a small body of troops would be enough, and that a sufficient number might be taken from Kohima. I do not lay much stress upon this point, because the Government very properly placed upon Mr. Quinton the responsibility of taking such a force as might be necessary; but that was the view which was expressed by the Government of India for the first time at the end of January. At the time Mr. Quinton received this letter he appears to have been on board a yacht. He received it in the early part of February, and, as was extremely natural, he seems to have been filled with dismay that such a view should for the first time have been taken by the Government of India, and he addressed to the Indian Government a strong remonstrance against the policy of restoring the old Maharajah. I would call attention to the fact that neither Mr. Quinton nor Mr. Grimwood up to that time had ever suggested for a moment that the Senapatti was to be removed. You will not find a trace of such a suggestion in what Mr. Grimwood has written. On the contrary, the Senapatti had been treated as the real man, the real Governor, and it was considered a beneficial thing for Manipur that there 552 should be a change, in which the Senapatti should be the moving spirit. On the 9th of February Mr. Quinton addressed to the Government of India, a strong remonstrance against the restoration of the old Maharajah. He says—His restoration would simply mean that the authority of the State would be wielded by Pucca Sena, for whom no one has a good word to say, and the two other brothers now with the Maharajah, instead of by the Jubaraj and the Senapatti.He goes on in the same Despatch to say—I was assured by Mr. Grimwood, who met me at Kohima last month, that there was no feeling whatever shown in favour of the return of the Maharajah, and that the present Government was universally accepted.Then, apparently under the influence of the views of the Government of India, Mr. Quinton for the first time entertains the idea that there should be an inquiry into the conduct of the Senapatti. That will be found on page 23 of the Blue Book, but there was not a word of it until February. He says—The punishment of the Senapatti is not in my mind in any way dependent on the Maharajah's restoration. An inquiry into his conduct and his punishment to the satisfaction of the Government of India can be made a condition precedent to the recognition of the Jubaraj; and unless it is intended to exclude him permanently from the succession, his recognition as Jubaraj in the event of the present Jubaraj becoming Maharajah, should be made to depend upon his obedience and good conduct.It is quite certain that at that time Mr. Quinton did not contemplate the immediate expulsion of the Jubaraj, but simply, after an inquiry into his conduct, allowing him to take his natural place as heir apparent to the throne. That was the state of things in February, and then Mr. Quinton goes to Calcutta. I should mention that up to that time the old Maharajah had been in Calcutta, constantly soliciting aid from the Indian Government. Mr. Quinton goes up to Calcutta and he has an opportunity of consulting with the Government of India. I presume that the Government of India called for his opinion in writing, and it is given in a Despatch, dated February 19th, at page 24 of the Blue Book. He there repeats his strong opinion that the old Maharajah should not be restored. There were two policies open to the Indian Government—one was not to recognise the revolution of 553 the Senapatti, but to restore the old-Maharajah, and the other was to acknow ledge the revolution. But how was it possible to acknowledge the revolution by accepting the usurper to the throne, and at the same time to treat as conspirators the men who brought about the revolution? It would be exactly the same as if we had accepted the restoration of Charles II., and ordered the execution of General Monk. In consequence, I suppose, of the remonstrance of Mr. Quinton, the Government of India abandoned their original policy, which was that of declining to accept the revolution. I should say when I call it a revolution, that this is carefully pointed out as what, in Turkey, would be called a revolution of the seraglio. It was not a political revolution; not a revolution of the people, nor a revolution against the English Raj or against British authority. It had no element of that kind at all; it was a mere quarrel in the Palace between the brothers. There was no political object in the matter and no political reason for adopting one party rather than the other. Mr. Quinton in his Report of the 19th February speaks of a remonstrance against the restoration of the old Maharajah, and he says that—The restoration of the Maharajah and his adherents means the expulsion of the present de facto rulers who have hitherto given no cause of complaint to us, or, so far as I can ascertain, to their subjects.He goes on to say—and this is his final word on the subject—The Jubaraj is the heir apparent, and will have on his side numerous partisans, who look to his future accession, and the Senapatti—the most popular of the brothers, the present head of the Army, a man of bold and turbulent character—may be expected, when driven to desperation, if he does not openly resist, to use his utmost efforts to stir up disaffection and rebellion.That was the reason for not putting up the old Maharajah, and the Government accepted that view, and abandoned their intention of restoring the old Maharajah. But, then, what was to be done with the new Government? Were they to set up the Senapatti, who would be a formidable opponent? He is the heir apparent, and one of the reasons given by Mr. Quinton against the restoration of the old Maharajah was that the Indian Government would always be 554 obliged to maintain a large force in order to keep him on the throne. We come then to what is, of course, the practical part of the transaction—the final determination of the Government of India that was arrived at on the 21st of February. No determination was com" to by the Government as to what they were to do between the 24th of September and the 21st of February. For six months Mr. Grimwood, the Political Resident at Manipur, was without the slightest intimation from the Government as to what course they intended to pursue, or whether they had any intention of disturbing the settlement of the Senapatti. It was certainly not until the middle of March that anything was heard. The Political Resident at Manipur was allowed to go on with his relations with the Indian Government, as they existed at Manipur, without the slightest information as to the manner in which it was intended to deal with the Senapatti. I think I am right in that opinion. The views and final opinion of the Indian Government will be found on page 25 of the Blue Book, which contains the instructions to Mr. Quinton to go to Manipur and deal with the matter. Without detaining the House by reading the whole of the Despatch, it gives instructions for the recognition of the Jubaraj and the removal of the Senapatti. There are, however, some words in the Despatch which are important. Having ordered the Senapatti to be removed from Manipur and punished for his conduct, Mr. Quinton is instructed to inform the Government of India in what way it will be best to carry out this object. The Despatch says—The Governor General in Council considers that it will be desirable that the Senapatti should be removed from Manipur and punished for his lawless conduct. I am to inquire where you would recommend that he should be interned, and what steps you consider necessary for carrying out his removal, without affording him the chance, which his position as head of the Manipur Forces might possibly give him, of making any forcible opposition.Mr. Quinton is then instructed toTake with you a sufficient force, even though opposition may not be expected, and you should report for the orders of the Government of India the conditions which you propose to attach to the recognition as Maharajah of Manipur of the present Jubaraj.555 Again I call attention to the fact that when he was collecting his force and considering what it should be, Mr. Grimwood had no knowledge that the Senapatti was to be removed. That is a material point. Why was not Mr. Grim wood consulted as to the force that would be requisite to carry out the policy decided upon? As to the force which was taken, and which was proved to be utterly inadequate, I propose to say nothing. I suppose that is a matter for military inquiry in India. That it was inadequate there is no doubt. Though it is not part of the civil question, it is part of the military question, and some explanation is required from the Military Authorities in India. In consequence of Mr. Grim-wood not knowing what was to be done, Mr. Quinton started with his troops on the 7th of March. It seems to me very extraordinary that all this should have taken place without any communication with the Secretary of State in England. No Despatch is sent till the 4th of March, just at the time when the whole expedition was organised and was about to start. That Despatch could not, of course, reach England for six weeks afterwards. On the 7th of March, Mr. Quinton and his force left for Manipur. The account of this will be found at page 64, in a Paper written by Lieutenant Gurdon. After the whole expedition had started, and was on the march, Mr. Gardon was sent forward to sac Mr. Grimwood at Manipur. He went by forced marches, and arrived at Manipur on the 15th of March. It is perfectly obvious from these Papers that until Mr. Gurdon saw Mr. Grimwood on the 16th of March, Mr. Grimwood never had any idea that the policy he had been pursuing for six months was disapproved or was intended to be changed by the Government. Mr. Gurdon says he then told him what was going to occur. I think there is some controversy upon this matter. It is difficult to reconcile exactly the two accounts of what Mr. Gurdon said to Mr. Grimwood on that occasion. There is a telegram at page 81, in which Mr. Gurdon says that he—Made following communications to Grimwood beforehand: First, informed him of the intention to deport Senapatti; asked him best way to arrest him without affording him an 556 opportunity of forcibly resisting. Grim wood's reply was, Senapatti personally would resist to-the utmost. Grimwood could suggest no means of resisting Senapatti as described.Why was not this all told to the Government of India before the expedition started? Why were not the Military Authorities in possession, before the force was organised, of this view of the only person who had local knowledge of the case? I am bound to say that this account of what was told Mr. Grimwood has not been universally accepted. In India certainly statements have been made—it is said on the authority of Mrs. Grimwood, and I believe accurately—that when Mr. Gurdon saw Mr. Grimwood he did not tell him there was a resolution to deport the Senapatti, but he asked a number of questions as to what would happen in that event. It is quite obvious, I think, that there was some mistake about that, but it is said that Mr. Quinton did not really know what was to be done until a week after, when Mr. Quinton actually arrived at Manipur. There is a statement, supposed to be authorised by Mrs. Grimwood, which gives this account of the transaction—On Sunday, the 15th of March, Mr. Gurdon arrived at the Residency" at Manipur, having been sent forward by the Chief Commissioner presumably to make inquiries and to gather information. On Monday, the 16th, he closely-questioned Mr. Grimwood with regard to Manipuri affairs. Mr. Grimwood was well posted in the subject, and gave all the information sought for; but from first to last he was Studiously kept in ignorance as to what was the object of the Chief Commissioner's coming. On Tuesday, the 17th, Mr. Gurdon left to rejoin the Chief Commissioner, and on Friday, the 20th, Mr. Grimwood went out to meet him at Sengmai, returning on Saturday, the 21st, at 7.30 p.m. In the interval between Mr. Gurdon's departure from the Residency and Friday, Mr. Grimwood and Lieutenant Simpoon of the 43rd Ghoorkas, who happened to he a guest at the Residency, went out on a shooting expedition, which had been organised for them by the Jubraj.It is hardly conceivable that if Mr Grimwood had received orders to depor the Senapatti he would, in the interval have gone out with him on a shooting expedition.When Mr. Grimwood met the Chief Commissioner at Sengmai, he was for the first time, and in strict confidence, told that it had been determined to arrest the Jubraj in open durbar and deport him from the country, and he was informed to his dismay that his was the hand required to execute the office. … 557 The military officers were not taken into the Chief Commissioner's confidence. Mrs. Grim-wood had been told by her husband, on his return from Sengmai, of the intended coup, but she had maintained, at his request, the strictest reserve on the subject. Mrs. Grimwood, however, as the time approached, tool; advantage of an opportunity to beg of the Chief Commissioner not to force upon her husband the distressing task of arresting the Jubraj, since he had always been on very friendly terms with her husband and herself, and earnestly besought him to impose that disagreeable duty upon some one else.If this account is correct, the statement to Mr. Grimwood of the actual determination to arrest the Senapatti was not made until the 22nd. In any event, until the 15th, Mr. Grimwood, the Political Agent at Manipur, was not informed of what was to be done. Well, Mr. Gurdon, having seen Mr. Grimwood at Manipur, returned on the 15th to Mr. Quinton, who was on his march. On the 18th Mr. Quinton telegraphs to the Government of India what he intends to do. He says—I propose to require the Regent and the durbar to meet me on arrival, announce the decision of the Government, arrest Senapatti, and inform him that the length of his exile and return depend on his conduct and the tranquillity of the country, and order the Maharajah to place a gun with the escort during my stay to prevent any disturbances.That is approved by the Government of India by telegraph. Mr. Quinton arrives at Manipur. Then the determination is taken to arrest the Senapatti, and here I would observe that at that time, so far as we can judge, the existing Government in Manipur was in the most friendly disposition towards the English Government. They treated them with all the solemnities of Eastern respect; they went forth to meet them, and all the ceremonial of a friendly reception was given. Mr. Quinton met the Senapatti; what passed between them we do not know; we have no record of that. It was settled to seize the Senapatti at the durbar. The arrangement was that the orders of India were to be announced at durbar, and the Senapatti was to be told to surrender. If he refused, Colonel Skene was to arrest him at the durbar. Troops were kept in readiness around the Residency where durbar was held in case of resistance. It appears from these papers—I entirely, of course, omit to adopt the evidence given by the Jubraj and others of the 558 natives which, no doubt, would be tainted with partiality. I do not rely upon them. At all events, the Jubraj says he was very much alarmed at seeing the Residency surrounded by troops, and it was in consequence of that the Senapatti did not attend the durbar. I speak in entire ignorance of these matters. There are gentlemen in this House of great Indian experience; they know what the character of tins durbar was. They well know what would be the meaning attached to it by the natives of India; I profess to offer no opinion on the subject. I am quite incompetent to do so. Whether or not it was a proper thing, at a durbar so summoned, to seize one of the persons invited there, I do not know. It is a matter which, in my opinion, the English Government is bound to pronounce an opinion. It is a thing which, for good or for evil, must deeply affect the natives of India and our relations with the Princes of the Native States. I know there has been a great deal of prejudice on this subject. I do not wish to inflame that prejudice or to express an opinion which I am incompetent to form. I know there are durbars and durbars. There are durbars such as was held by Lord Lytton to receive the Ameer of Afghanistan. That was a great reception of a foreign prince. I do not in the least intend to attach the same signification to a durbar of this character. I was struck with the fact that when the Marquess of Ripon addressed a question to the Secretary of State for India in another place, as to the orders to arrest the Senapatti at the durbar, the answer given by the Secretary of State was—My information does not lead me to believe that the Government of India ever contemplated the summoning of the Senapatti to the durbar for the purpose of arresting him. If that had been done I should have been very much surprised.That looked rather, I should say, as if the Secretary of State for India considered that that was a thing that would not be approved of. I have read with great attention articles on this subject by a Member of this House, of great Indian experience, the hon. Member for Evesham, whose opinion is always received with great deference on this subject. Although approving generally of the policy that was pursued, upon the 559 subject of the durbar he has expressed a very strong opinion. He says—To this durbar the family, including the Senapatti and Council of the Maharajah, was summoned. This summons was peaceful to them. They were not to be arrested. There was one exception. This summons was not peaceful for the Senapatti, as he was to be arrested, and yet he was not warned. Now, this cannot be right; no arguments as to the rights of the paramount power can make it so.It is quite plain the hon. Member for Evesham would have disapproved of that transaction. I gather from the pipers that that transaction was not originally ordered by the Government of India. The Viceroy did not know the arrest was to be made in the durbar until he learned it subsequently. He did not read the telegram of the 18th March, approving what Mr. Quinton was to do in that sense. Therefore, if it had been only an error of judgment on the part of Mr. Quinton, who is now unfortunately dead, I would not lay stress upon the matter, but a very different importance is given to it by the fact that it was distinctly approved by the Viceroy. You will find that in pages 82 and 83 of the Blue Book. First of all, referring to the outcry in England and in India as to this transaction at the durbar, he says—Imputation of treachery arises from misconception of Senapatti's position and that of Manipur State. State is subordinate to Government of India, and Senapatti must have known that his conduct in conspiring against the Maharajah, who had been recognised by us, rendered him liable to punishment.How could he have known? Why, the English Resident negotiated with him the terms of the removal of the Maharajah. The English Resident at Manipur had been in communication with him in political life and in private life; the Commissioner of Assam recognised and approved these relations of the Political Resident at Manipur; and for six months he was recognised by the Government rather as the leader of a revolution which they had accepted and approved. Therefore, I think the statement of the Viceroy is open to criticism. Well, then, we come to the question of the durbar—Until Gurdon's telegram of 7th of May reached us we had not received specific information that if Senapatti refused to submit quietly, Quinton intended to have him arrested at durbar after announcement 560 of our orders, but we have no doubt Quinton considered open arrest in durbar, in case of such refusal, would be most straightforward and safest procedure. Knowing Senapatti's character, Quinton probably-felt that only chance of depriving him of opportunity of fomenting disturbance was to effect his deportation as promptly as possible.. … Had the arrest taken place at Durbar, as intended, Quinton would not have lost his life.That is a ratification, and, according to the legal maxim, ratification after the event is retro-active in effect, and is equivalent to a mandate. We must deal with this exactly as if the original order had been given by the Government of India to arrest the Sena patti at the durbar. I do not profess myself, and I do not desire myself to express, any opinion upon that matter, which must rest very much upon Indian opinion; but, in my judgment, it is a matter on which we ought to have the decision of the responsible Government in this House. It is a question which goes far beyond the question of this particular affair, and affects the relations and dealings of the Indian Government with the Native Princes of India in the future. I am afraid I have wearied the House, but it was necessary, in order that I should, in justice to all parties, give an accurate account of the matters and of the points to which I wished attention to be directed, and I could not do better than give that account in the terms of the written Papers. There are several points on which I think we ought to ask for some explanations of the Government. First of all, as I have said, we ought to be told how it was that the Secretary of State had no communication on this subject from first to last until the disaster had occurred; how it was that the change in the dynasty of Manipur could be effected by an armed force being sent to Manipur without any information being communicated to the Secretary of State. Manipur is a State of importance, because it is now the connecting link between Assam and North Burma. We know it is that all this could be done, without any information being communicated to the Secretary of State. Well, then, upon the other point of view of the treatment of the Senapatti as a conspirator, because I do not know exactly what view is to be taken of orders sent to the General, who was to inflict punishment upon the parties concerned. 561You are to go to Manipur, take possession of the capital, and punish, as they deserve, all who have acted as leaders or instigators of the revolt, or who have been concerned in the treacherous murder of British subjects.I do not quite understand what the "leaders or instigators of the revolt" means; whether it means the transactions of the 24th of March, or whether it refers also to the transactions of the 24th of September. That, I think, is a point which should be cleared up. If it refers to the transactions of the 24th September, all I have said as to the acceptance of that by the Government will apply. If only to the transactions of the 24th March, 1891, that will be an entirely different thing. On the question of the separate treatment of the Senapatti and the Jubraj, I wish to know the views of the Government as to the possibility of separating the cases of the Jubraj who was put upon the throne by the Senapatti, and the Senapatti himself; how it is possible to treat one as a conspirator when you accept the other as the new ruler of Manipur. The second point, of course, is the question of the durbar, to which I have already referred. The other point is the extraordinary delay on the part of the Government of India, that is to say, from the middle of October, when they first knew all the particulars, to the 21st February, when they came to a decision determining upon their policy, and the non-communication of these circumstances to Mr. Grimwood. Now, as to matters of future policy I do not press the Government. I know the difficulties in which the Government of India is now placed by what has occurred. That the policy they adopted, right or wrong, has totally failed, nobody can deny. Here is this family of Native Princes. They acquiesce evidently in the removal of one and the setting up of another. One is deposed, the other is under the capital sentence, and consequently the whole fabric of the dynasty of Manipur seems to have been destroyed. What is to be done in order to re-construct the Government there, of course will be an anxious question for the consideration of the Government of India. Well, then, as regards the punishment to be awarded to the persons who were concerned in these terrible events, upon that I venture to offer no opinion. It is a grave responsibility 562 both for the Government in India and the Government at home, and they will determine these matters upon their responsibility and upon their judgment. In the midst of these circumstances which, I think, are to be deplored—whether there is any fault to be found with them or or—at all events there are some bright spots. There is the courage and fortitude of young Grant; there is the self-devotion of Mrs. Grimwood, which have been duly recognised by the Fountain of Honour and by the English nation. I hope I have discharged the duty I have undertaken in the spirit which I have professed. I have endeavoured to state the case as impartially as I knew how. I think the Government and the House will take the view that these matters are worthy of the attention of the English Parliament. Transactions of this kind cannot occur; disasters of this kind cannot be sustained without this House—which, after all, is the final resort—and the Government of this immense Empire showing that they are cognisant of them, that they sympathise with them, and that they desire to arrive at a fair and true judgment upon them.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty, praying that she will he graciously pleased to give directions that there he laid before this House further Correspondence relating to Manipur."—(Sir W. Harcourt.)
§ *(4.58.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Sir J. GORST,) Chatham
Of course to the Motion submitted to the House the Government offer no opposition whatever. The Government have endeavoured to lay before the House ample information respecting the unfortunate disaster at Manipur, and as further information is coming in by almost every mail, and as the inquiries which are now going on in Manipur are almost daily throwing fresh light on the transactions, Her Majesty's Government would, of course, think it their duty, in obedience to the Resolution which the right hon. Gentleman has moved, to give from time to time every information which may be useful and necessary to this House. But the right hon. Gentleman not only moved the Motion. He accompanied it by a speech, in which he has asked for information upon certain points connected with the transactions on which 563 he thinks the Government ought now to pronounce some opinion. I will do my best in the remarks I make to gratify the right hon. Gentleman as far as I can. The time for a full and complete expression of opinion has not yet arrived. Inquiries, as I mentioned just now, are still going on, especially into the military transactions; and not only are inquiries being made into these transactions, but the conduct of the civil officers, so far as it is possible now to obtain information, is also being made the subject of inquiry. It would clearly be improper for the Secretary of State to have written any despatch in which the final conclusion of Her Majesty's Government in these matters was expressed until all reasonable means of obtaining any further elucidation of the facts have been exhausted. The right hon. Gentleman, after a perusal of the Papers, seems to have been unable himself to find anybody whom he would take the responsibility of censuring, and rather asks me to assist him in the task, and invites me to find some person whom the right hon. Gentleman would be justified in censuring. I am afraid if that was his idea—I see the right hon. Gentleman shakes his head—I could not have assisted him, because I am as unable as he is to fix anything like culpable blame upon any person connected with these transactions. Now, the first two suggestions of the right hon. Gentleman are suggestions which I feel myself very much in accord with. He asks, why were these transactions carried to the point of a military expedition against Manipur without any previous consultation with the Secretary of State in London? The only answer to that is that it has been the universal practice of the Government of India in all except what they consider very important cases to take upon themselves the responsibility of dealing with the Native States, and of not seeking the previous sanction or approval of the Secretary of State. And if the Secretary of State's sanction was not asked to this proceeding at Manipur, it was because the Government of India, and everybody connected with this matter, regarded it at the outset as a matter of very little importance; and if there had been no military disaster, if the Senapatti had been quietly arrrested at Mani- 564 pur and deported to some other part of India, very likely nothing would ever have been heard of the transaction in this House. It is because subsequent events have given an extraordinary significance to everything that previously took place that this matter is made the subject of discussion in the House of Commons; but I myself confess that it does seem to me that, looking at the subject by the light of subsequent experience, the question whether a revolution in Manipur should be recognised or net, or whether an important person in the Manipur State should be deported or not, is one of these important questions connected with the administration of Native States about which the Secretary of State should have been informed, and about which, if time had permitted, he should have been previously consulted. The second complaint of the right hon. Gentleman is that there was a very unfortunate and regrettable delay in these transactions. As to this, I should like, in the first place, to point out that if the Secretary of State had been consulted the delay would have been considerably increased, because the Government of India could not have consulted the Secretary of State until all the information necessary to enable them to form their opinion had been obtained, and, therefore, a consultation with the Secretary of State would have added to the five months' during which the Government of India was coming to a decision by two or three months additional delay. Bat this delay, although regrettable, is not altogether inexplicable. The Government was at Simla when the transaction of September 25, 1890, took place, and it takes 14 days for papers to travel from Manipur to Simla. The Government of India was also then on the point of moving from Simla to Calcutta, and I am afraid the migration between Simla and Calcutta causes a good deal of delay in the transaction of public business; and, finally, on the 14th November a fact took place to which the right hon. Gentleman has not called the attention of the House. On the 14th November, the ex-Maharajah addressed a solemn protest to the Government of India, in which he made some very grave accusa- 565 tions against Mr. Grimwood, and this protest had to be sent to Manipur for Mr. Grimwood's observations on it before it could be taken into consideration by the Government of India. Mr. Grimwood wrote his answer to the Maharajah's protest on December 4th, and it was only on December 31 that Mr. Quinton forwarded to the Government of India Mr. Grimwood's explanation, accompanied by his observations and recommendations on the subject. And as Mr. Quinton was on the point of coming to Calcutta a further delay took place in order that he might personally confer with the Viceroy on the matter. I admit that these delays were unfortunate and regrettable, but I think anybody would say that a delay of five months in coming to a conclusion on an important matter of this kind in a place which is not accessible by railroads, and which is remote from the centre of political life in India, although regrettable, is at least to be explained. To come to the next point in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he has rather suggested that the Government of India are to blame in the policy of removing the Senapatti from Manipur, which gave rise to this disaster. That policy was, of course, the policy of the Government of India, and undoubtedly they are responsible for it. But I do not think that either the right hon. Gentleman himself or the people who have criticised this policy have quite appreciated that the removal of the Senapatti was entirely a political act. I am aware that the Government of India in their Despatches make use of expressions like "treachery" and "rebellion," and accuse the Senapatti of moral offences for which they declare an intention of punishing him; but that is only the way in which the Anglo-Saxon race always is accustomed to ascribe criminal misconduct to political opponents. We are not unaccustomed to it in this country. The right hon. Gentleman himself frequently speaks to large public bodies of the criminal practices and misconduct of the First Lord of the Treasury and others who sit on this Treasury Bench; and he speaks of their expulsion from that Bench, which would be a purely political act, as an act of punishment. But, given the right of the Govern- 566 ment of India to expel the Senapatti from Manipur or not, the immediate question is whether it was expedient that they should exercise that right. Just let the House consider who the Senapatti was. He was the man of the greatest ability and the greatest force of character among the ruling family of Manipur. He was a man who was extremely popular among the people, who had a reputation of having impoverished himself by generosity, which is one of the greatest virtues to which an Oriental can aspire. He was not a man of very nice moral character—I do not know that you can expect the same standard of morality from an Oriental that you can expect from an Englishman—but a man who beat two of his slaves to death for stealing a polo pony is rather worse than the average of Oriental despots. And there was this most important characteristic of the Senapatti. He was a man of very independent character, who presumed to make revolutions without consulting the paramount power, and who set a Maharajah upon the throne of Manipur without first asking the leave of the British Resident. A man of that sort must be dealt with in two ways. First, he can be removed from the State altogether: or, secondly, he can be used as an instrument for governing the people of the State. It is quite evident that Mr. Grimwood desired to adopt the latter course, and thought he could make use of the Senapatti as an instrument through which the Manipur people could be governed. Well, that is a very generous policy, and one which everybody is disposed to sympathise with, but it is a rather risky policy. It is a policy the success of which depends upon the Resident obtaining the ascendancy over the Senapatti, and not the Senapatti over the Resident. And between the two powers there is the great difference that the one is temporary and the other is permanent, and that while Mr. Grimwood would remain only a few years at Manipur the Senapatti would remain there altogether, and might, when Mr. Grimwood had gone, possibly obtain an ascendancy over Mr. Grimwood's successor which he could not obtain over Mr. Grimwood himself. For that and other reasons, Governments, Indian and other, have in such eases never encouraged a policy of this 567 kind being adopted. Governments have always hated and discouraged independent and original talent, and they have always loved and promoted docile and unpretending mediocrity. This is not a new policy. It is as old as Tarquinius Superbus; and although in these modern times we do not lop or cut off the heads of the tall poppies, we take other and more merciful means of reducing any person of dangerous preeminence to a harmless condition. Why, in my own life, I have known numbers of cases of this kind. I remember 30 years ago how the British Government spent their blood and treasure in the Colony of New Zealand for the purpose of destroying the power of the Maori King, instead of governing the natives of New Zealand through his instrumentality. I remember how, a few years later, a British Government destroyed the power of Cetewayo in South Africa as soon as he ceased to be necessary as a counterpoise to the Transvaal. But I can give you examples of the same policy much more recent. Why did you expel Arabi from Egypt? Because he was thought to be politically dangerous to the peace of the country. I can give you even a closer parallel, taken from the conduct of that Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was so distinguished a member. Why did you arrest Zebehr and intern him in Gibraltar? There was a man of great authority in a country over which you had no power, but, acting from a political necessity, you would not permit him to exercise his influence in the Soudan, although General Gordon, your agent in the Soudan, asked to have him there. The Government of India, in refusing Mr. Grimwood the assistance of the Senapatti, acted in the same way as you did in refusing Zebehr to General Gordon to enable him to manage the Soudan. I am not saying this for the purpose of applying anything like a tu quoque argument to the right hon. Gentleman. I say it because it is the fruit of our experience; and it is a mortifying thing to have to confess, but I think Governments are very likely to be right in following this tradition. It is, perhaps, better that great ability and independence should be a disqualification for State service; it is perhaps better and 568 more for the peace and safety of the world that you should depend on mediocrities. At any rate, it would be unreasonable for the House to censure the Government of India because, under the circumstances of the case, they determined to remove the Senapatti from Manipur. His political character affords ample justification for the act; and they followed the traditional policy of Governments from time immemorial. Now, there is another branch of the subject which has to be considered, and that is, granting that the policy of removing the Senapatti was right, was it properly carried out? I hope the House will not believe that I would adopt a course so moan and cowardly as to try and shuffle off responsibility upon those who are dead in order that the living may escape blame, but it is necessary to call attention to the position of Mr. Quinton. He was not a subaltern or subordinate officer. He was the Chief Commissioner of Assam, and Manipur was a subordinate Native State in the Province he administered. Now, all who are acquainted with our policy in India know that the Provincial Governments have a considerable amount of independence and even, in some cases, legislation of their own. It is true Assam is one of the least advanced of the Indian Provinces, but oven there, such is the position of the Chief Commissioner, that the Government of India would have been wrong in interfering with Mr. Quinton's discretion in carrying out this policy, and I have no doubt that if Mr. Quinton were alive he would be the first to assert that the responsibility belonged to him and was his. Now, it is very difficult in this House to discuss even to the limited extent to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has discussed it, the conduct of any of the actors in the Manipur affair, because all the chief actors have unhappily perished, and cannot explain any points in their conduct that may seem to us obscure. Some things were pone at Manipur which, I suppose, can never be explained, but which, if Mr. Quinton were alive, he possibly might explain to our entire satisfaction. But, as I have said, an inquiry on the spot is now proceeding, and it is therefore the more difficult for me to say a word on these transactions, for fear a word 569 of mine might do loss than justice to those unhappy men who cannot speak for themselves. But I cannot let the occasion pass without saying one or two things on behalf of the actors in the Manipur disaster, to one of which I am invited by the reference of the right hon. Gentleman himself. Now, first of all, Mr. Quinton has been blamed for planning the arrest at the durbar, and I think that some indignation was evoked in this country about this arrest at the durbar, which was due in a great degree to misapprehension as to what this durbar was. People forgot it was not a ceremonial meeting between equals, such as the ceremonial meetings between the Viceroy and the great rulers of Native States; it was a kind of Court held by the Chief Commissioner, to which the Manipur authorities were summoned in order to hear the determination of the paramount Power, and they would be required to give their obedience to that determination, and if either the Regent or the Senapatti had refused to attend the durbar, they were liable to be punished for contumacy as not obeying when summoned by the paramount Power. No doubt it is a question worth considering whether the attempt to effect the arrest at the durbar was expedient, or not? We have a high authority in the person of the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham (Sir R. Temple), who, no doubt, will be listened to with the respect his opinion deserves should he give it the House; but Indian Authorities are not all agreed on this matter. A few days ago I had a visit from a gentleman who, perhaps, more than anyone else, is entitled to speak upon Indian frontier policy—Sir Robert Sandeman. He has surpassed all Indian officers in the success with which he has dealt with frontier tribes, tribes very different to the Manipuris, of a really warlike, independent race, formidable and dangerous. Sir Robert Sandeman told me the other day that he had repeatedly arrested recalcitrant Chiefs at the durbar, and the last illustration he gave me was from his experience only a few months ago, a short time before he left India. It was a Chief in Beloochistan, who made himself obnoxious to British authority. This Chief was summoned to the durbar, and thereupon he was given into cus- 570 tody and removed, a precisely parallel case to this at Manipur, or as it would have been had Mr. Quinton's intention been carried out. But while I am perfectly ready to admit that the question of arrests at the durbar is one which deserves very attentive consideration, and upon which, after due and deliberate consideration, the Secretary of State will probably have to express an opinion, I wish to repudiate with the strongest indignation of which I am capable the suggestion made in some quarters that Mr. Quinton attempted to carry out, or was capable of carrying out, anything like an act of treachery. Although the accusation was freely bruited about at one time, subsequent information has deprived the charge of all foundation, for it is almost certain that the fact that the Senapatti was going to be arrested was known for days before Mr. Quinton arrived. It is so stated in the evidence given at the trials at Manipur. It was known for days in advance that Mr. Quinton was coming, and that the Senapatti would be arrested. The Senapatti met Mr. Quinton four miles from Manipur with a very small escort, and sat talking with him for some considerable time. Now, does that not show that the Senapatti had no suspicion that Mr. Quinton contemplated any act of treachery?
§ *SIR J. GORST
If the British Commissioner intended a treacherous arrest, there was his opportunity to effect the arrest four miles from Manipur. The Senapatti knew perfectly well that a durbar was called for the purpose of declaring his removal from Manipur and arresting him there. It is apparent, therefore, there was no treachery, and that everything was honourable between the parties. The Senapatti, knowing that he would be arrested at the durbar, refused to go to the durbar at all. I do not believe that anybody acquainted with the facts can entertain the idea that Mr. Quinton contemplated any underhand and treacherous conduct, of which, indeed, he was incapable. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has called attention to the fact that Mr. Quinton's conduct in intending the arrest at the durbar was with the approbation of the Indian 571 Government, and as to this, I think there is no doubt whatever that had they known of Mr. Quinton's intention they would have left him to carry out their policy in the manner adopted by Sir R. Sandeman and other officers on the frontier. Then the right hon. Gentleman said something of the insufficiency of the force, and rather hinted that the force was insufficient, because Mr. Quinton was not fully informed of the resistance which might be anticipated. But I think the right hon. Gentleman must have overlooked the Despatch of February 19th from Mr. Quinton to the Government of India. In that Despatch, speaking of the probability of resistance, Mr. Quinton said that the Senapatti was a man of ability and of turbulent character, who, when driven to desperation, might be expected, if not to openly resist, to use his utmost efforts to stir up disaffection.
§ *SIR J. GORST
That shows that Mr. Quinton had all the necessary information in reference to the resistance to be expected before he determined on the number of his escort. It is easy for us to be wise after the event, but I doubt whether anybody before these Manipur transactions could have doubted that 500 Sepoys, the force Mr. Quinton had at his disposal, would not have been sufficient to account for the whole of the Manipur force. I do not think that anyone, even Mr. Grimwood, had any idea of the tiger-like ferocity with which the Senapatti defended himself. Those who are acquainted with Indian affairs, and have followed Indian history, know that the British power there has not depended upon overwhelming force; boldness and audacity are qualities by which our Empire in India has been acquired and preserved. There was no reason to suppose that the force which Mr. Quinton thought sufficient for carrying out his task was inadequate, for do we not find that the next event in the history is that Lieutenant Grant set out with a force of 80 men to relieve the force at Manipur, that he penetrated to within 12 miles of the town, that he attacked and captured a fort defended by 1,000, men, that he drove back the entire Manipur Army flushed with its victory over the Residency, and when 572 relieved by the prudence of the superior officer, that relief was received by the little force with vexation rather than satisfaction. More than this, on the military question I would not venture to state to the House, as it might do some injustice to men whose previous public service entitle them to consideration, and whose mouths are closed in death. If they committed any error of judgment they have paid for it. I believe this Manipur affair must always remain a dark page of Indian history. It is, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, relieved by two bright examples of conspicuous bravery of a man and of a woman; the splendid audacity of Lieutenant Grant and the patient and heroic endurance of Mrs. Grimwood. I respectfully submit to this House that no proceedings in this House could either mend or mar the record, and to criticise the conduct of the men who have perished in the service of their country, and, therefore, can neither explain nor defend their conduct may be unjust, must be ungenerous, and can serve no political end whatever.
§ (5.31.) MR. CURZON (Southport)
With the defence of the Indian Government by the Under Secretary I find myself in total disagreement, and I therefore feel tempted to ask the indulgence of the House while I attempt to feebly defend the Government of India and the officers concerned. I purpose to limit myself chiefly to those parts of the case which touch the honour of the Indian Government and the officers concerned, a point about which we are more sensitive in this House than any other. Having done my best to master all the evidence at my disposal, and having considered and read the Blue Books most carefully, and also having made myself acquainted with what is the opinion of the Indian as well as the home newspapers, I have confidence in saying that a more painful line of defence than that adopted by the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of the Indian Government and the officers who unhappily have paid the penalty with their lives I never heard. Whatever errors of judgment they committed—and it cannot be denied that in some respects they were deplorable—neither the Government of India nor the officers concerned deserve the reprobation or censure of the House of Com- 573 mons. The first point I take is the resolution of the Indian Government to send out Mr. Quinton to Manipur to restore the Jubaraj, and to arrest the Senapatti. I noticed the right hon. Gentleman spoke in more moderate language than some of the newspapers, but the inference to be drawn was the same, namely, that the Act of the British Government in proposing to forcibly arrest the Senapatti was an act of gratuitous interference on the part of the Government. I am quite ready to admit, that whether it was politic to forcibly arrest the Senapatti at that particular moment, is a question capable of argument. It is quite true a good deal can be said for the Senapatti, and has been already said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby; it is true he was admitted to have been popular with the bulk of his people; that he was on familiar terms with Mr. Grimwood; that since September, 1890, he had not been accused of any overt act of hostility against the Government, land, therefore, there was no pressing need for this violent and powerful step. But this does not even touch the fringe of the question. The point that can be advanced and sustained is this: that both on constitutional and political grounds the Indian Government were absolutely right in the step they took. First, Sir, as regards the constitutional aspect of the question. Manipur is not an independent State; it is a protected State, subordinate to the British Crown. Treaties and negotiations entered into between the two Governments for the space of over 60 years have shown that. During that time the Government have not only saved the Manipur State from absorption by its neighbour on the South, the Burma, but they have saved the ruling dynusty of Manipur from being upset at times by popular out-break, and at times by intrigue. I do not think, therefore, it will be doubted that Manipur was in no respect an independent State. I am amazed in that respect to have heard the language adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby and the Under Secretary of State for India. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby represented the Senapatti as on the whole a respectable gentleman.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I expressed no opinion on that point at all. I have not undertaken the defence of the Senapatti. What I desired to point out was this: that the Indian Government accepted the Senapatti as the Commander-in-Chief under the old Maharajah, and practically as Prime Minister of the new Maharajah, and accepted him for several years, and, in spite of the allegations of the Indian Government, they made no objection since 1888—more than two years—to his remaining as Commander-in-Chief under the old Maharajah.
§ MR. CURZON
That may be true, but the right hon. Gentleman was careful to eliminate from his speech anything derogatory to the Senapatti, and that is a most important point in the case. He was a well-known and notorious man, and I may say a man of even infamous character—["no, no!"]—of even infamous character. He had once been banished from the State of Manipur for acts of criminal violence, and on one occasion threatened with deportation. I am quite prepared to meet the point and argue that for his actions in the month of September of last year he stood in the position of a guilty man, calling for punishment at the hands of the Indian Government. The Under Secretary for India said that the charges of treachery brought against the Senapatti were the mere inventions of political feeling against a political opponent.
§ *SIR J. GORST
I did not say that. What I said was that the whole action of the Government was political—that the removal of the Senapatti was a political act.
§ MR. CURZON
I beg pardon if I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman I understood him to say the Senapatti was a political opponent, that the charges of treachery were similar to those we are familiar with in England, and which, whether there is foundation for them or not, are levelled against a political opponent. It appears to me that is a most unfair way of putting the case with regard to the Senapatti. In the act of last September it cannot be denied that he rebelled against the Ruler of the State who had been restored. I look upon that act of rebellion as an act of rebellion against the paramount Power, which is that of 575 the British Crown. That was the opinion of the Indian Government. They looked upon the Senapatti, from the result, as a man guilty of rebellion against the State, guilty of high treason, and calling for punishment at the hands of the Indian Government.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Will the hon. Member excuse me? If the Indian Government so regarded the Senapatti they must have looked upon the Jubaraj in a similar light.
§ MR. CURZON
I am most happy to meet that point also, because I conceive it is one absolutely valueless. The right hon. Gentleman leads us to understand there ought to be similarity of intention on the part of the Indian Government with the Senapatti and with the Jubaraj. What is the similarity? It is admitted the Jubaraj was not responsible for the rebellion of 1890, but at the time was eight miles away, and he was not accused by either party of complicity in the proceedings, and the right hon. Gentleman wishes to put on the same level with him this notorious Senapatti, who was admitted to be at the head of the conspiracy, and who became the chief officer of the Ruler of the State. The right hon. Gentleman is fertile in resources, but I should like to know what he would have done had he been in the position of the Indian Government at the moment. They might have restored the Maharajah, but it was admitted he was too weak. The Indian Government had at first some disposition towards restoring that Prince, but so strong was the dissenting voice of Mr. Grimwood and Mr. Quinton that the idea had to be abandoned. How could they have ousted the Jubaraj? He had taken the most becoming step; his elder brother having voluntarily abdicated and disappeared, he stepped forward and proclaimed himself the Ruler of Manipur. Having taken that step, the English Government acknowledged him and admitted him to the State. And yet this is the man—this blameless, although weak, individual—that the right hon. Gentleman places on a level with this scoundrel, the Senapatti, and proposes that the Indian Government should treat him in a similar fashion. It appears to me that, the two courses of which I have spoken, that of restoring the original Maharajah and that of ousting 576 the Jubaraj being impossible, there re-remained nothing whatever for the Indian Government to do but to punish the Senapatti. This was the position when, on 21 February of the present year, Mr. Quinton left Calcutta and went to Manipur to carry out the instructions of the Government. And now I come to the second question, and perhaps the most important question, the arrest at the durbar. The responsibility must rest with one of these parties, either with the Indian Government or with Mr. Quinton, or possibly with both. I think the right hon. Gentleman in his speech acquitted the Indian Government of responsibility for the order, and, indeed, by following the evidence in the Blue Books, it is perfectly capable of demonstration that the Indian Government knew nothing whatever of the proposed arrest at this durbar. I will prove what I say. In the first place, take the Instruction of 21st February to Mr. Quinton. Where will you find there any mention whatever of the durbar, or of the arrest at the durbar? Next, I take Mr. Quinton's telegram of 18th March, in which he said, and this is the first intimation of arrest, that he proposed to arrest the Senapatti, but he does not say that he proposed to arrest him at the durbar. Nor was that the legitimate inference. Then there is the evidence of Lieutenant Gurdon, and the terms of the arrangement are actually given on page 8 by Lieutenant Gurdon. The arrangement was that the orders of the Government of India were to be announced at the durbar, and the Senapatti was to be told to surrender. If he refused—I think a relevant and important condition—Colonel Skene was to arrest him at the durbar. And, finally, we have the word of the Viceroy of India himself, that it was not until 7th May that the Indian Government knew anything of the intention to arrest him at the durbar. Therefore, I think it is clear from this evidence that the Indian Government must be held absolutely quit of any responsibility for the proposed arrest at the durbar. The act, therefore, was the act of Mr. Quinton. It was not a rash or impulsive act. It was a decision arrived at by Mr. Quinton in conference with Colonel Skene and Mr. Grimwood, and, although 577 there is reason to believe that Mr. Grimwood dissented from the policy, and we do not know whether he was overruled or whether he yielded to the authority of his superior officers, that decision was the decision of the civil and military authorities combined. I happen to notice in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that he repeated this charge in a far more curtailed form than has been common in the organs of the Press. If the right hon. Gentleman observed a wise and studied moderation of language, that could not be said of some of the organs of the Press that have spoken on the matter. I take these words, which express the charge, from the columns of the Star newspaper. I admit that the Star is not an authority to which any great weight is to be given, but, at the same time, it expresses the character and the rancour of the charge that is made. It was there stated in reference to this question of the durbar that it was deliberately intended to seize the Senapatti before he had time to resist. "This is the blackest spot in all this base and bloody business," a vocabulary which we at once recognised as the normal vocabulary of the Star. I pass over the curious suggestion contained in this paragraph: that before you arrest a criminal you are bound to give him notice, in order that he may have time to resist. I ask the question, was there any ruse in this matter? Was there any trap set? Was the Senapatti lured to this durbar under a sense of false security? The whole matter turns upon what is the character of a durbar. There is nothing precisely analogous to a durbar in this country. It is not a levee; it is not a public entertainment; it is not even a council or conference; but a durbar is an open Court convened by the paramount power, presided over by the officer representing the paramount power, that is, on this occasion, by Mr. Quinton, representing the Viceroy of the Queen. It was on this occasion a Court to which the Jubraj and his brothers were called as feudatories of the British Crown, and in that capacity they were bound to attend. Not only has the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India provided us with a precise analogy in Hindostan, but an analogy will occur to us in European 578 history. It is almost a precise analogy of the great Feudal Courts in the middle ages; and a friend has suggested to me hypothetically what seemed to be an absolute analogy. He suggested the case in which Louis XL of Prance might, if he had had courage, have desired to arrest his turbulent vassal Charles the Bold of Burgundy. Had he been forced to carry that out it might very well have been at a Feudal Court corresponding to this durbar; and had such a step been taken, I venture to say that no one, even in these days of flabby nineteenth century sentiment, would have discovered for one moment that there was any deviation from the strictest code of honour. Was the Senapatti taken by surprise? The whole evidence goes to prove that the Senapatti was a long-sighted individual and knew very well what he was up to all the time. He assumed illness, and went, or rather did not go, to bed. This convenient illness lasted over two days, during which time he was collecting his troops, issuing ammunition and arms, and planting the guns. For two whole days this innocent dupe of Mr. Quinton was actually himself preparing the snare into which Mr. Quinton was to fall. It appears to me that Mr. Quinton took what was both the most open and the most merciful course in this matter—the most open because there was no doubt as to the meaning of his act, and the Senapatti understood it from the first; and the most merciful because, knowing this man to be a desperate character, popular with his army, the one tiling that a man in his responsible position had to do was to escape resistance and avoid the risk of bloodshed. He took the one step by which there was no chance of bloodshed, and by which resistance, if attempted, would be of no avail. I admit that he was guilty of an error of judgment and mistook the man he was dealing with, but it is untrue to say that he exceeded his instructions or belied his honour. I happen to have been a good deal in the East, perhaps as much as any Member of this House who has not had official or business connection with those parts; and I think the House will believe me that I have framed as high and critical a standard of the rules which ought to regulate the conduct of British 579 officials towards subject States as anyone. I do not shelter myself behind the plea that we are dealing with a half civilised and barbarian people. That would be an unworthy and despicable argument. But we are dealing with an Oriental people who knew just as well the meaning of the word "durbar" as any peasant in this country knows the meaning of a Magistrates' Court or a Judge and jury. It appears to me that had this order for arrest in the durbar been transmitted by telegram from Simla, emanating from the Governor in Council, it would not have been anything that needed defence in the House of Commons, but the act was the act of Mr. Quinton, and whatever you may think of the judgment he showed in the matter, I think you will see that it is an act, the morality of which he would not have been called on to defend if he had lived, and which, now that he is dead, ought not to be cast at his memory as a reproach. I will not presume to trespass longer upon the patience of the House. The point which I have tried to bring forward is this—that nothing whatever has been done—whatever the mistakes, or whatever the blunders—that need make an Englishman feel ashamed. There are many things upon which we can hardly form a judgment, and which the grave has closed for us. We shall never know why it was—the Senapatti being admittedly a desperate man, and it being known that ammunition was being dealt out to these men, and that they possessed these guns—that in face of this alarming array of events and circumstances, Colonel Skene actually thought fit, with a body of only 250 men, to attack this force. We shall never know why this unequal contest was not sooner abandoned, and why the Residency instead of being evacuated in circumstances of disaster and horror at 2 o'clock in the morning of the 25th, was not evacuated under conditions of order at five o'clock in the afternoon of the 24th. We shall never know why it was that extraordinary colloquy was agreed upon, or why, it having been agreed upon, all the superior officers were allowed to go out and fall into the trap. These are matters in which it is easy to be wise in the light of quiet knowledge. These are matters which rest with those who have paid the penalty of 580 their lives; but whatever be our opinion upon these points, let us in respect to their memory, and out of regard to the honour which they did nothing whatever to sully, refrain from accusing them of misdeeds of which they stood innocent, or suspecting them of intentions of which the most delicate conscience need not be ashamed.
*(6.0). MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN&c.) (Stirling,
The two speeches we have listened to from the other side of the House, although they differ, and differ widely, in so far as concerns the opinions which they convey, and, above all, the tone by which they are characterised, yet they argee in this one important fact—this one characteristic they possess in common—that they were neither of them addressed to the speech of my right hon. Friend or to any of the inquiries that he had made, but were, I presume, prepared to answer other inquiries and other complaints that have been made through the public Press. The hon. Member opposite, who has just sat down, has, with a naïveté for which I did not credit him before, quoted the charges made by the Star newspaper, and his whole speech was prepared with the purpose of shielding the memories of Mr. Quinton and the other unfortunate participators in these events from certain calumnies which had appeared in that and other newspapers. My right hon. Friend brought no complaint and no accusation against Mr. Quinton. Not a breath of dishonour will pass on any of their memories in consequence of anything my right hon. Friend has said. My right hon. Friend requested—as he was entitled and bound to do—that the views of Her Majesty's Government upon some of these points should be stated, and those views we have not yet obtained.
§ MR. CURZON
May I say, in justification on this point, that I did not say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby himself made those accusations, but that these reports were circulated not only in the newspaper referred to, but in other newspapers, both in this country and in India, and those newspapers contained attacks upon the Government of India, and it did seem to me that, whatever one particular organ 581 might say, I was bound to get up and defend the honour of these men.
§ *MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I have not the least intention of taking part in the quarrel between the hon. Gentleman and the Star newspaper. With the speech of my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State, I am bound to say, I was greatly disappointed. If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, I am a sincere admirer of his, in public as well as in private life; but I regret to see, as many have regretted to see, a certain cynical tone pervading in recent days everything he says in this House, and I suppose it must arise from some domestic circumstance, or other internal motive with which here we have no concern. At all events, I do not hesitate to say that the right hon. Gentleman's speech on this occasion was nothing more than a prolonged satire on the defence of the Indian Government. A tone and spirit of irony pervaded it from beginning to end; and if the right hon. Gentleman had desired to show how ludicrous the defence of the Indian Government could be made to appear, I do not think he could have succeeded better than he did. The right hon. Gentleman gives us, as I have said, no answer to the demand of my right hon. Friend that we should know what the Secretary of State for India thinks of the policy pursued by the Indian Government in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman said, in reference to the charge of unnecessary delay that has been made against both the authorities in India and the authorities at home, there were a great number of reasons for delay in India, owing to the moving of the seat of government from Calcutta to Simla, and so forth; but he omitted to observe this fact, that if the Government of India had kept the Government at home fully informed of what was going on, those delays would not have been tolerated for a moment. The Government at home was absolutely and entirely in ignorance that all these transactions were proceeding for five months after the main events occurred, during which time there were delays in India. I do not believe for a moment that the Government at home, had it known what was going on, would not have been all that time pressing for some solution 582 or other of the position of affairs—of the problem presented at Manipur. Now, the great point in this case is the determination of the Government of India to acknowledge a new Maharajah, and at the same time to punish and deport from his country the principal author of the revolution, which placed the new Maharajah on his throne. And if hon. Members will take the trouble, as we have done, to place the Despatches in some sort of chronological order under the names of the different persons concerned, they would be still more puzzled by the contemplation of what was disclosed. We have in India, connected with this subject, three authorities. We have Mr. Grimwood, Mr. Quinton, and the Secretary to the Government of India, representing, of course, his superiors. Well, each of these authorities has a mind of his own on the subject. I am not disposed to inquire or pronounce a strong opinion as to the degree of independence which would be accorded to officers in the position of Mr. Grim-wood and Mr. Quinton. My own tendency would have been towards treating the opinion of such a man as Mr. Grim-wood, who was resident at the place, and who had resided on the spot and had more personal acquaintance with all the circumstances than anyone else—my disposition would be towards treating him with the greatest confidence, and, unless a very strong ease was made out to the contrary, acting on his advice. He was on the spot, and was conversant with all the affairs. Nothing in Mr. Grimwood's Despatches implies that the Senapatti was, in his opinion, worthy of any punishment whatever. Mr. Quinton, in his first Dispatch of the 31st December, gives us an unbiassed opinion, and after hearing all Mr. Grimwood had to say he also recommended that the Jubraj should be acknowledged, but says nothing whatever about proceeding againat the Senapatti. It is the Government of India, on the other hand, who apparently volunteer an opinion to the contrary. They say, on January 29, that we should intervene in strength in order to punish the authors of this conspiracy. They say that Mr. Quinton should visit Manipur to "overawe the conspirators"—this, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, was many months 583 after the conspiracy had taken place—that the Maharajah should be reinstated, and that the Senapatti should be removed. Afterwards Mr. Quinton goes to Calcutta, and then he repeats his opinion even in stronger terms. There is one remarkable passage, which I think has not been quoted, in which he is arguing against the restoration of the old Maharajah, and he says that the restoration of the old Maharajah meant the expulsion of the present de facto rulers of Manipur, who had hitherto given no cause of complaint to us. And then he proceeds to say how strong, and how popular, and of how strong a will the Senapatti is. And what the Government of India apparently did was, they abandoned their intention of restoring the old Maharajah, but they continued the policy of expelling the Senapatti which was a part of the original policy. What was the good of expelling the Senapatti? I regard many of the arguments now used in favour of removing the Senapatti as ex post facto arguments framed in order to account for this extraordinary policy. The removal of the Senapatti was part of the original policy of the Indian Government, which was to restore the old Maharajah and to expel the Senapatti. The restoration of the old Maharajah, in fact, involved the expulsion of the Senapatti, for, as it is somewhere observed in these Despatches, so long as so many Princes were living in the country there could be no peace. After Mr. Quinton's visit to Calcutta, and when he had been talked over in regard to this point, it seems to me that the worst of all the conclusions was arrived at, namely, a compromise which carried out neither one policy nor the other. There was the policy of maintaining and reinstating the old Maharajah and expelling those who had rebelled against him, and there was the policy of acknowledging the new Maharajah and using him, and those who placed him on the throne, for the Government of the country. The Government of India, in order to bring into apparent accord those rival opinions, appear to have formed a new policy, which they unfortunately attempted to carry out, and which was to acknowledge the new Maharajah, and, at the same time, expel the Senapatti. 584 Well, Sir, what my right hon. Friend has asked is—and surely we are entitled to an answer—does the Secretary of State for India approve of the new policy of the Indian Government? My right hon. Friend distinctly repudiated the idea that he was called upon to express an opinion either as to the amount of force employed or as to the question of the particular circumstances of the arrest of the Senaputti. The main point, of which, I think, the House would do well not to lose sight, and from which we ought not to be diverted from by these subordinate issues, is this—was the whole policy of this expedition a good one, was it right to continue the new Maharajah, and, at the same time, to remove the Senapatti? The hon. Gentleman opposite, who found fault with the Star newspaper for using strong language, did not spare his own strong language in speaking of the Senapatti. All we know of the Senapatti from these Papers, and that is all the information we can get on the subject, is that he was a strong, powerful, and popular man, and also there is a story of his having beaten two slaves. It is not true that he beat two slaves to death, as was stated. Well, I am bound to say, although I have not the personal experience such as the hon. Member has of the East, that I do not imagine that an incident like that, deplorable as it is, would for ever debar a potentate of that order from succeeding to the throne. But, if it did debar him, then it ought to have been acted upon before, but he was continued under the old Maharajah in his office of Senapatti. And even during the months of the Regency, while we were waiting for the final settlement of this question, the Senapatti ought not even then to have been allowed to assume the still more important position of Jubraj, not, at all events, without protest, if his character was so bad as it is now painted. There was no protest, and he accepted the position, and he occupied it. No evil occurred in the country until the arrival of Mr. Quinton. The people were contented; the Government was going on prosperously and peaceably; and we have, therefore, from the circumstances disclosed in these Papers, no reason whatever to attribute to the Senapatti all those evil points of character which the hon. Member opposite seemed so ready to attribute to him. What 585 we expected was that the Government would have been able to complete this series of Papers by producing a Despatch from the Government at home, giving its judgment on this question. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India says it is not yet time to come to a final conclusion on the matter. It may be that he is right in saying that we could not form a final conclusion on the recent events, but surely a decision might be arrived at, and some opinion expressed by this House, in regard to the main policy which Mr. Quinton was directed to carry out. And hero I would call the attention of the House to one of the Despatches of Mr. Quinton, in which he himself protests against his own mission, because in that Despatch he says—I am making arrangements for a visit to Manipur next month, in view of the Government of India determining that the question of the return of the Maharajah should he reopened; but if I am right in supposing that the point is one on which I am asked to form an opinion, I would strongly advise against it. The question is one, as I said before, in which the people of the State have little interest, and is, after all, a mere family dispute; and a visit from the Chief Commissioner, and inquiries such as those suggested, must have the effect of unsettling men's minds and disturbing the tranquillity which now prevails without affording any better grounds than we now have for coming to a conclusion in the matter to be inquired into.Therefore, I think we must assume that Mr. Grimwood at Manipur, and Mr. Quinton at Assam, were, after all, the best judges of what was best to be done under all the circumstances; but upon every point they seem to have been over-ruled, except upon the one point of the recognition of the new Maharajah. Well, Sir, I regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India, speaking on behalf of the Government, has not given us any opinion on these matters on behalf of the Secretary of State. The hon. Member for Southport (Mr. G. Curzon) has given his opinion very strongly, and with great force and knowledge, upon the subject, but, after all, it is only his individual opinion. He has defended the Indian Government as if he were entitled to speak on their behalf, and he has spoken with much energy. He has defended the Indian Government with much ability, but it was from the right 586 hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India that we expected to hear a speech which would either defend or modify, or mitigate the idea which has been formed in regard to the policy of the Indian Government on this important question.
§ *(6.14.) SIR R. TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
The right hon. Gentleman who has justsat down has complained that the preceding speakers on this side of the House have not sufficiently followed up the able and argumentative speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. I will, with the permission of the House, endeavour to some extent to supply that omission, but I must preface what I am about to mention in regard to this important question by saying that I quite acknowledge and fully appreciate the very calm, and temperate, and statesmanlike, and also the comprehensive manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has treated this subject, although I am bound to add that in regard to certain particulars when the right hon. Gentleman elaborately criticised the delay of certain months which took place in the autumn, and discussed the grave question as to why Mr. Grimwood did not know certain facts and did not do certain things by a certain date, and in regard to certain other minutiae, the right hon. Gentleman reminded me very much of an elephant picking up pins. I will, with the permission of the House, endeavour to select certain points in the undoubtedly excellent speech of the right hon. Gentleman which, in my opinion, call for special notice on this side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the effect which these transactions were likely to have on the Native States of India, and I apprehend that he might be understood to imply that the effect will not be favourable. I think that those who, like myself, have had experience with regard to these Native States, will be of opinion that the effect will be good, because the Native States will have observed the manner in which for years we have conducted our supremacy over this little State of Manipur, that we gave shelter to the Maharajah when he was deposed, that we endeavoured to establish his brother on the 587 Throne, and to remove, even by force, all who were disposed to rebel against him. All this, I contend, will be recognised as our good evidence in respect of our Government, and that it will have a favourable influence on opinion in the Native States of India. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby paid a very just and eloquent tribute to the gallantry and endurance of both the men and the women who were engaged in these transactions, but I should like to point out to him and to the House that in that eulogy there was one very notable omission. He omitted to mention the fidelity, the loyalty, and the endurance of the native soldiers, particularly the Ghoorkas, who are among the good soldiers, not only of Asia, but of the world, and but for whom, on the night of our retirement from Manipur, not only the ladies and English officers, but every one associated with them, must have perished of thirst in the wilderness. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will excuse me endeavouring to supply what I am certain was only an accidental omission on his part. The right hon. Gentleman did me the honour of quoting an opinion of mine with regard to the question of the justice of the intended arrest of the Senapatti in durbar, and, notwithstanding all that has been said in the animated and generous attempt of my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. Curzon), I must adhere to what I have publicly stated. It certainly does appear to me that under all the circumstances of the case in relation to this particular durbar it was not justifiable on the part of the authorities to summon the Senapatti to that durbar without a previous warning that it was intended to arrest him when he got there, assuming that that was the intention with which he was summoned. I do not hesitate to say that if it was intended that he should be arrested that arrest ought to have been carried out in the ordinary way. What, I ask, would have been easier, at the moment of the arrival of the British escort at Manipur, than to have sent a force of Ghoorkas to arrest the Senaputti at his own house? That is a thing which might have been done, and would have been done, no doubt, swiftly, suddenly 588 and effectually; but instead of doing this the authorities give him time to prepare for resistance by summoning him to a peaceable durbar—a summons which he undoubtedly saw through, because it must have been perfectly transparent, and we now well know the result. I quite agree with the remark made by my hon. Friend the Member for Southport, that it is very hard to criticise effectually the unfulfilled intentions of a dead man; but when such a question as this is being brought forward in the House of Commons, I should not like it to be supposed that Indian Authorities of the first rank would say that arrests of this kind were things to be allowed. On the contrary, I am sure that these authorities would say that such a procedure as this constituted a very dangerous precedent. My right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for India has, in the course of his speech in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, quoted authorities as to certain arrests that have been made on previous occasions, but I must point out to the right hon. Gentleman and to this House that there are durbars and durbars. There are certain durbars which are durbars only in name. They are simply Courts of Justice to which certain persons are summoned. They have to go there under direct orders, and if they disobey they know that they may be arrested and compelled to appear to obey the summons, and to take their chance of what they get on arriving there. If a man thus summoned attends such a durbar, knowing what is likely to happen, he cannot complain of any sharp practice or unfair proceeding, if he be arrested in the durbar itself. But a durbar of this sort is not to be confused for such a durbar as that which has been referred to in connection with what took place at Manipur. That was a solemn affair—a State ceremonial—under the roof of the British Residency. The Regent of Manipur was himself to be present with other Princes of the blood, and the affair was to be conducted with a considerable amount of ceremony, and with some warlike display. What it was that Mr. Quinton intended when this durbar was summoned we shall never know exactly, but of this I am quite sure: that he never intended to do 589 anything of a treacherous or dishonourable character. Yet, as far as I can gather, there was an intention of arresting the Senapatti in the durbar, without notice, a durbar which was peaceful to all others, save to him. If so, this intention was not properly justifiable, and it will do no good, either for the honour of England or its influence in British India, to attempt a justification. I have thought it necessary, out of deference to the great Service to which I have had the honour to belong, to make this frank and explicit statement. In my opinion, arrests ought never to be made at durbars of this kind in India. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has very properly asked whether the Government of India justifies such a procedure. That Government indeed, incensed at the extreme comments made by a portion of the English Press, have offered some defence by telegraph, but I trust that the Government of India, upon a full review of the whole of the circumstances of the case as has now been laid before this House, will say nothing different from that I have already asserted. Surely the British Government will never sanction such a procedure for the future. If it be thought otherwise for the moment, that is owing to some misapprehension of the language which was used in the telegram addressed to them which they have answered, perhaps, without that amount of circumspection which the gravity of the case demands. Of course, I am unable further to explain the attempt at justification, but I cannot think that it will be seriously persevered in, especially as the Governmen of India never ordered the arrest, and are not answerable for any intention that may have existed. I know that the hon. Member for Southport has spoken of some mediæval examples which go the other way. And I must here thank him for the generosity with which he has come forward to defend Indian officers when attacked in their absence with an amount of chivalry which is often a desideratum in this age and generation. Is there not a famous case—that of the arrest of Count Egmont at Brussels. The Count, as the House will recollect, was summoned by the Spanish General to a conference with regard to the fortifications of the city, and at 590 that conference he was suddenly arrested. Has that not always been regarded in the history of the civilised world as an unjustifiable act on the part of the Spanish Governor? What occurred at Manipur was, undoubtedly, a small act in comparison with that. I hope that no evil example of this kind, and that no precedent will ever be allowed to tarnish that British honour which in India has been hitherto untarnished. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has spoken of the smallness of the force employed in the Manipur expedition. I must say, in justice to the Government of India, that according to their arrangements a larger force was to be employed, and it was only Mr. Quinton's fault in not waiting for the extra relief force, which was close at hand, that the expedition was so restricted in numbers. But the disaster was not due to the mere fact of the force being insufficient in numbers. The Ghoorkas are a fine infantry force, and 500 of them would no doubt be well able to stand against 5,000 Manipuris in an open field. But the unfortunate fact is that they were cooped up in the British Residency, which was close to an un-fordable moat, and right underneath the fortified walls of the palace upon which guns of British manufacture had been mounted. And, in addition to that, the Residency had a thatched roof of inflammable material. It was this unwonted "location," as the Americans would call it, that caused the disaster. Then as to the 40 rounds of ammunition. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby very properly did not touch upon that, beyond saying it was a point which required explanation, and possibly I may be able to afford him the explanation he wants. It appears that the force possessed two kinds of rifles, namely, Snider and Martini-Henry, and for both kinds there was a large supply of ammunition in the Residency. The fault was that it was not fully used. And now I come to deal briefly "with the main point. The right hon. Member for Derby, while condemning the mode of arrest, asked is it possible to justify the policy of the Government of India? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling also adverted to that point, and spoke of it as the most 591 interesting question of all before the House. I agree that the real question is, Was the Viceroy justified for acting in the manner he did? I contend that he was. Might I ask the House just for a few moments to consider this question. It appears to be the inconvenient custom with the Royal House of Manipur that the succession goes not from father to son, but from brother to brother; and as there are several brothers, all near the Throne, doubtless, too, by different mothers, quarrels are constantly arising. It is this unfortunate custom which has led to the present disaster. What was the case as it presented itself to the Government of India? Here we had the Maharajah, whom we had supported on the Throne by formal recognition for many years, and who had rendered us great service, especially in our wars with the hill tribes, and more particularly in the last Burma War. I could show hon. Members a long list of military expeditions in which his troops have taken part. He was suddenly driven from the Throne by one of his brothers. This had to be recognised for the moment by Mr. Grimwood, the officer on the spot, who had of necessity to await the orders of the Government of India regarding the de facto administration. The Maharajah, being exiled, comes to British India. When he gets there he petitions the Government of India to send him back again. This gave rise to a certain amount of complication, which required the patient consideration of the Government. And that accounts for the delay of which the right hon. Gentleman complained. Had they hastily decided the matter, he would have been one of the first to complain that they had not taken sufficient time to consider whether the self-exiled Maharajah was a possible Sovereign for Manipur, or whether it would be better that his next brother should succeed him. In due course the Government of India ascertained that the author of the expulsion of the Maharajah was not his next brother, but his next brother but one, the now notorious Senapatti. They came to the conclusion that the Maharajah proper was an impossible person, but that it was advisable to recognise the next brother as the Sovereign of Manipur, who, in fact, had 592 in the meantime been accepted de facto as the Regent. They also decided that they would not allow the Senapatti to remain any longer in Manipur, because they knew he was the one who had exiled his lawful Sovereign, and they had information that he was treating the Regent as a puppet. They believed him to be not only a dangerous, but a cruel man. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling to throw a kind of veil over the misdeeds of this man. It is very kind of the right hon. Gentleman to take so lenient a view of Oriental misconduct; but it was the opinion of the Government of India that the Senapatti was a dangerous person. Therefore, when the Government had determined to recognise the de facto Regent and to remove the Senapatti, I hold they took a very proper course. Remember they did not propose to imprison or to transport the Senapatti. They only desired that he should leave the country to be comfortably "interned" at State expense in some pleasant or convenient place in India; and his possible return to Manipur was to depend solely on his own conduct. Of course, it is possible in all matters human that different persons should arrive at different conclusions. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby would, if he had been Viceroy, have done something else, or that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling, if he had been senior Member of the Council, would have given different advice. No two men would act precisely alike under such circumstances. I take it that it is a waste of time for us in this House to discuss whether or not, under such circumstances, the Viceroy acted absolutely for the best, or to urge that he might have done something different. He took as good a course as any that could have been taken; I think he took the very best. There still is the question, had the Government of India a right to interfere? I think I can establish in a very few moments that they had such a right. What is the political history of Manipur? In the last century it was a little petty State, and it is now so small that I hesitate to give statistics, unless the House should burst into laughter at their insignificance.
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. He did not, but, unless I misunderstood him, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling did.
§ *MR. CAMPBELL BANNERMAN
I said nothing about the right to interfere in Manipur, but I said something to the effect that I thought that in most cases such as this a greater degree of consideration would have been given than appeared to have been given in this ease to the advice and opinion of our officers on the spot.
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE
The Government of India is answerable. The Viceroy is responsible for the actions of his Agents on the spot. Surely it is a now doctrine that the Viceroy is to be impugned before the House of Commons, because be has not seen fit to adopt the advice of his Political Agent. What is the Viceroy there for but to form his own judgment? I think that I have shown that the interference was of a right kind, and I am now endeavouring to prove that we had a right of interference. Early last century this little State, so statistically insignificant, was about to be eaten up by a neighbouring and aggressive Power. That Power was Burma, the then Kingdom of Ava, or as it was then called the Empire of Alompra. In his extremity the Maharajah of the day threw himself upon British protection. It was granted to him for the time, and the State of Manipur was saved until the beginning of the present century. Then came the first war between us and Burma, in which the State again fell into danger, so much so that when we made our first Treaty with Burma we stipulated specifically for the freedom and safety of Manipur. And if the House will look at the history of our political transactions with Manipur, it will find that we had negotiations with them about roadways, that we had to give them ammunition and other stores, as to the disposal of which the Maharajah actually consented to give a minute Report. Then there came some territorial adjustment of the Eastern 594 frontier of the Kingdom of Upper Burma, and we actually had to arrange for a small transfer of territory from Manipur to Burma in consideration of which the Maharajah was glad to receive a small sum per annum in rupees. This brings the history of Manipur up to the year 1830 or thereabouts. Then, again, came more troubles about the succession—internecine among brethren. The Queen mother and her infant son had to take refuge in British territory. The son remained there until he became of ago, and then he went back under British auspices to assort his rights, and they having been established, he reigned under British protection for a lengthened period. Afterwards there arose again the old story of a fight among the relatives, with the result that we had to send an Agent to explain that we could not allow this sort of family dissension, and that the Sovereign whom we had recognised was to be obeyed. And so it went on until very recently, when the Maharajah was again compelled to seek protection in British territory, land it was afforded him in consideration of his long services. We knew perfectly well that the Maharajah was expelled by his brother the Senappatti, who had set up the Regent as his puppet. This puppet he would soon have driven out. Therefore, if we did not remove the Senapatti there would soon have been another revolution and another exiled Sovereign. I maintain that we were bound to interfere in a very effective manner, and that the Government of India, from among the many possible modes of interference, chose the best. Before I resume my seat, I would like to point out that it is a great pity that we should be occupying the time of this Imperial Parliament in discussing details of this nature. If we desire to discuss Manipur at all, surely we could find far worthier matters in connection with it to form the subject of our Debates. Let me remind the House that Manipur holds a very important position, for it is the half-way house between Assam and Upper Burma. It is essentially a point—strategetically and politically—on our Eastern Indian frontier which must be traversed by all expeditions of a political and military character between Bengal and Burma; therefore, its geography is of the highest importance. There are projected, in connection with 595 it, railway schemes and other means of communication which, if carried to a successful issue, would do much to solve great political problems which may, if they remain unsolved, cause us trouble hereafter. It is proposed, for instance, to construct a railway beginning in the fertile valley of Assam, passing through the hills of Eastern Bengal, then traversing the deltaic region of the Megua till it reaches Chittagong the seaport. From this line a branch could easily be made right on to the plateau of Manipur. When communication has been established between Manipur and India a similar communication could be easily established between Manipur and Upper Burma. The drainage of the Manipur plateau is towards the Irawaddy. Its streams are affluents of that river, consequently a natural engineering line is thus afforded in the direction of Ava. These are important matters which greatly affect the future of our domination in Upper Burma, and also in Bengal, and which would enable us, with greater force, to defend our Empire in the East in the event of attack from a Foreign Power. I hope that this question will receive much more attention from this House than it has had in the past.
§ *(6.50.) MR. MACLEAN (Oldham)
I submit that no question relating to India could be more interesting or more worthy of discussion in this House than the character of the Indian Government itself, which is the real issue at stake in this Debate. We have just heard two speeches in defence of the Indian Government—one the cool, unhesitating speech of the Under Secretary of State for India, and the other the warm-hearted, generous, and thorough-going speech of the Member for Southport (Mr. Curzon). I should think it a great calamity if the policy advocated by the hon. Member for Southport were adopted by the Government, for I am sure if that line were taken it would have a deplorable effect in India. The speech of the hon. Baronet who has last spoken (Sir Richard Temple) was of a different character. He has with equal hand delicately apportioned praise and blame to the Indian Government. I think, after what he has said about the arrest or attempt to arrest the Senapatti, that there really remains 596 nothing more to be said. I think that that statement made by one of his great authority—an authority highly respected in this House and in India—is perfectly conclusive on that point. The hon. Baronet, however, defended the policy of the Government in the main. He said the Government were perfectly right in resolving to deal as they did with the Senapatti. He told us what the history was of the State of Manipur, and he pointed out what is obvious from the Blue Book—namely, that this revolution which took place was simply a family affair; that it was so many brothers fighting for the succession to the Throne. Now, does not that often occur, not only in Manipur, but in Afghanistan and Nepaul? And when it occurs in Nepaul, what is the policy of the Government towards that State? It allows brothers to fight out their quarrels among themselves so long as they do no harm to the British Empire, and it recognises the strongest man among them as the ruler of the country. Why should a different policy be pursued towards Manipur and towards the Senapatti? I am not going to say a word about the Senapatti's personal character. I think it is sufficient for us that Mr. Grimwood vouches for him that he was a popular man; that he governed the State well, and Mr. Grim-wood, I remember, in one passage expressly says that he was the only one of the princely brothers who had remained poor through his own generosity. I consider it a very shabby proceeding indeed on the part of the Government of India to rake up old charges, and the discussion of criminal offences of years back, and to put them in at the end of the Blue Book for the purpose of creating a prejudice against this man in the minds of the British public. If he had faced us in fair fight, if he had fought with us openly, and treated those of our people whom he had taken prisoners honourably and as hostages, I should, for my part, have had nothing but admiration for him; but not one word can I say after the events that have occurred. But we are now simply discussing the policy of the Government of India towards this State of Manipur. My right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India says that the Government of Lord Lansdowne simply took the course which 597 all Governments take in dealing with a bold and independent man of a strong character; and he gave us illustrations from his own personal experience of the way in which men had been treated who had shown independence of character. But the obvious difference between the cases he mentioned, such as those of Cetewayo and Arabi Pacha, and the case of the Senapatti, is that in those cases the men who were removed were opposed to the British Government, and had been acting against them; whereas in this case you have the Government of India accepting the very policy carried out by the Senapatti, and then determining to remove the man who carried it out. That is the gravamen of the charge brought against the Government of India, and it is very difficult for anyone who reads the Despatches to understand how it was that the Government of India came to the conclusion to remove this man. It was proved that he was no enemy to the British Government. He was very well disposed towards us, and yet the Government of India summoned Mr. Quinten to Calcutta, and Lord Lansdowne and his Foreign Secretary there compelled him to adopt a policy entirely at variance with his own opinions and with those of his colleague (Mr. Grimwood). That is a matter upon which it is necessary that the Secretary of State for India, and, in default of the Secretary of State fur India, the British House of Commons, should express a very strong opinion as to whether it was a wise and just policy or not. I think, for my part, it was a very indiscreet and uncalled-for policy. Let me deal very shortly with the means by which it was proposed to carry out that policy. I do not suppose that any of us will stand up to accuse Mr. Quinton of deliberate treachery towards this man—of intentional treachery; and now that he is dead, it is impossible to clear up what was really the meaning of his conduct. I think it may be said absolutely that the Government of India is responsible for everything Mr. Quinton did. They assumed that responsibility in their telegram of the 9th May to this country; and I am greatly surprised that there is no Despatch produced this evening from the Government of India, repeating more 598 fully the language of that telegraphic Despatch, because evidently the Viceroy-had considered the whole matter very fully, and he completely took upon himself the responsibility for all that had been done by Mr. Quinton. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby-quoted some words of this Despatch, and perhaps the House will allow me to repeat them—Until Gurdon's telegram of the 7th May reached us we had not received specific information that if Senapatti refused to submit quietly Quinton intended to have him arrested at durbar, after announcement of our orders; but we have no doubt Quinton considered open arrest in durbar in case of such refusal would be most straightforward and safest procedure. Knowing Senapatti's character, Quinton probably felt that only chance of depriving him of opportunity of fomenting disturbance was to effect his deportation as promptly as possible. As a matter of fact, when Senapatti failed to comply with Quinton's orders, and letter of warning was sent to Regent, Senapatti awaited arrest, and prepared resistance, which led to massacre.I think it can hardly be contended that this is not an acceptance of the policy carried out by Mr. Quinton in attempting to arrest the Senapatti; and Mr. Quinton really thought his scheme received the direct sanction of the Government, because in a telegram of the 18th March he says—I propose to require the Regent and the durbar to meet me on arrival, announce the decision of the Government, arrest Senapatti, and inform him that the length of his exile and return depend on his conduct and the tranquillity of the country.Then we have the telegram the next day from the Foreign Secretary stating that "your proposals are approved." How can it be contended that the Government of India did not understand that Mr. Quinton proposed to get this man into a place where he could arrest him without fear of his being able to defend himself or call any forces in aid? It does not seem to me to be of much consequence what kind of a durbar it was to which he was summoned. Mr. Quinton met him on the way to Manipur. The Senapatti came out four miles from the city to greet him, and they talked together in a friendly manner for an hour in a tent and Mr. Quinton gave him no warning of what he intended. Was it consistent with honour and good faith, when he had been treated in this way, that he 599 should be summoned to a friendly meeting with the intention of arresting him? The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India quoted what was done by Sir Robert Sandeman on the frontier. Everybody who knows him has the highest respect for Sir Robert Sandeman. We all know what excellent work he has done, but he is the Lord Warden of the most unruly district on the whole frontier; he is a dictator. The whole of his district is constantly in a state of siege, and the action of Sir Robert Sandeman is not a guide as to what ought to be the conduct of the Representative of the Government of India in the more settled and more regularly governed parts of the country. Having studied what opinions have been expressed in India on this question, I consider it is the duty of the Secretary of State, as representing the Imperial Parliament, to let the people of India know that in future conduct of that kind on the part of the Representatives of the Government of India will not be approved, because if it is sanctioned it will be a very difficult matter indeed to induce any Native Prince, with whom we have the slightest difference of opinion, ever again to enter a durbar held by a Representative of the British Crown. Something has been said in this Debate about the House of Commons not interesting itself in discussions of this kind, but I say the interposition of the House of Commons on this occasion is fully justified by the prolonged reticence of the Secretary of State for India. The Under Secretary said the time had not arrived when a complete opinion could be given by the Secretary of State on the whole of these transactions. Of course not. There are the Reports to be received upon all the transactions that have taken place relating to the disaster, but the Secretary of State has long had before him what is the judgment of the Viceroy upon the two most important questions of the policy pursued towards Manipur—in the first instance, as to the proceedings before the disaster occurred; and, in the second case, as to the proceedings of Mr. Quinton in trying to arrest the Senapatti. These are questions on which it has long been competent for the Secretary of State to pronounce an 600 opinion. Is it improper that this House of Commons should be called upon to discuss so important and delicate a question? What was the object of the great change in the Government of India that was made during the time of the Indian Mutiny? The complaint, then, was that India was not sufficiently under the direct and immediate control of Parliament and popular opinion in this country, and the representative of the Secretary of State was made the Chief Governor of India. No doubt, as a rule, we do not wish to interfere with details of the administration of India, but on great questions of policy it is always an advantage for the opinion of the House of Commons to be known. We deny to the people of India any right of representation; they have no power of expressing their own opinions upon any question that arises. Criticism is free enough in the Press of India. I saw that the other day Lord Cross, speaking at a dinner, said he was very glad the Press of India was free, because it was a safety-valve for the grievances of the people. That is a familiar image, and I dare say it is accurate enough. But it is not very flattering to the Indian Press, for it seems to imply that Indian newspapers may blow off any amount of steam without ever ruffling' the complacency of the official mind. Anyone who has tried to create public opinion in India must often have felt discouraged and disheartened at finding he was simply beating the air. But in India the people have an immense respect and veneration for the House of Commons. It is to this House they look for a redress of their grievances, and to see that the country is governed well. A great French orator once said, in the darkest days of the French Empire, he crossed the Channel occasionally in order that he might have a bath of freedom. The members of the Indian Civil Service are not so brilliant as they used to be. They have not the same opportunities of coping with emergencies as they used to have, and it may be difficult to find amongst them a daring pilot in extremity. But they are upright, honourable, safe men, who do their duty to the best of their ability, but still they have all the defects of a close service; they are apt to think too much of themselves and too little of 601 outside opinion, and it must do them immense good to have their minds brought into contact occasionally with the fresh and invigorating breezes of an enlightened public opinion in this country. Here public opinion is not merely a safety-valve; it is the motive power which controls and sets in action all the administrative machinery of the State, and it is to that opinion that we must look on all occasions to discern what the true policy is that we ought to pursue in difficult circumstances in India. I say public opinion has pronounced a judgment on this question which is perfectly consistent with fair play to the Government of India, and which, at the same time, will maintain unshaken and unstained that character for good faith which has always been the mainstay of our rule in India.
(7.10.) SIR G. CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,
I think the House is to be congratulated on the tone of this Debate, and that we are all indebted to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) for bringing it forward in a very moderate and not in a Party or polemical spirit. There has been a great disaster; but the Under Secretary of State for India was right in saying that, after all, in India, we have to risk much to gain much. It is by daring and boldness we have achieved great things in India, and we must not judge people too hardly by results. Great things have often been done by rashness, and we applaud the result. On the other hand, when things are attempted with apparently inadequate means, and failure results, I am afraid we are apt to be a little too hard upon those engaged in the operation. I am inclined to think that considerable blunders, both civil and military, took place at Manipur, but the principal actors sacrificed their lives, and it is very inexpedient that we should be too hard upon them. The failure, to a great extent, was a military one; but I am bound to accept the view taken by the Under Secretary that 500 native troops might reasonably have been expected to cope with any difficulties which might arise in this petty Native State. As to the civil difficulty, the discussion must be of an academic character. The Senapatti was not arrested in the durbar, and, therefore, we need not discuss 602 whether or not, under the circumstances, we should have been justified in arresting him. As to the general policy, I have considerable sympathy with the view that considerable weight ought to have been given to the opinion of the local authorities. There is an Institution in India called the Foreign Office, and there is too great a disposition on the part of that office to centralise control and not to pay sufficient attention to the opinions of the local authorities. I think that whatever was done in this matter should have been done quickly: delay was most unfortunate. I gather that the old Maharajah, having been expelled, was free to go. He wished to devote the remainder of his life to religious meditation. When he got to Calcutta he fell into the hands of Calcutta lawyers and intriguers. At their investigation he made out a case: that the Government of India thought it necessary to press it on the attention of the Foreign Office with out consulting the opinions of the local officers was unfortunate. With regard to the delay which took place, I think the fact of the matter is, that the Government of India were too much occupied in unfortunate little wars in the other extremities of India. They treated this petty Manipur business as of little importance; they let it drift, and eventually there was a conflict of opinion between the Government of India and the local officers. As regards the question of the acknowledgment or non-acknowledgment of the revolutionary Government, I differ from the view suggested by the Under Secretary, namely, that it is better to refuse to acknowledge a strong man and put in a mediocrity, who may be a puppet of your Government. No doubt, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has said, the interest of the Native Princes has to be considered, but the honour of India has to be considered also. While we must maintain the utmost faith and justice in our dealings with the Native Princes, we must let it be thoroughly understood that they have obligations, and that we must see that those obligations are fulfilled. If we have a case of this kind in which there has been not so much rebellion against the Queen, but an atrocious murder of British officers, I hope the Government will feel they 603 have a duty, both in the sight of the people of India and of the Native Princes, and that is to let it be known that these things must not be done with impunity, and that if they are done there will be a fair and just deliverance.
§ *(7.20.) SIR L. PELLY (Hackney, N.)
This case is one that is very similar to many other cases which have happened in India. The facts, broadly, are somewhat as follows: A crisis happens in a native State; the local officer looks into it, and reports it to his superior—in this instance to the Chief Commissioner, who in turn reports to the Supreme Government. In this case the Government instructed the Resident to hold his hand, to avoid the offensive, to watch affairs, and if he saw an opportunity to mediate and try to arrange thorn. That opportunity, in the sequel, did not arrive, but, at all events, things went on quietly for a time, and certain persons were summoned to Calcutta. The old Maharajah went to Calcutta, where he made his complaints. The Chief Commissioner was called to Calcutta, and the Government took it into their consideration what they should do. Meantime any proceedings of subordinate authorities could not be considered otherwise than as temporary and provisional pending the final decision of the Supreme Government. After long discussion, and after personal communication with the Chief Commissioner, and after receiving his views and those of the local officers, the Government of India determined that they would not altogether accept the opinions of the local officers, but would, in deference to the opinion of Mr. Quinton, so far modify their own intentions as to refrain from restoring the old Maharajah. Government further announced their willingness to accept the Regent as a Maharajah, under certain conditions, as he had refrained from intervening in the rebellion. But Government declined to allow the Senapatti to remain in Manipur, as they held him to be the real instigator of the rebellion. That the Government of India came to consider the matter was more important than they at first supposed is evident from this, that they instructed the Chief Commissioner to go himself to Manipur. In giving those instructions they probably, as they always do under similar circumstances, gave only 604 a general instruction to carry out a certain policy, and did not specify the details of the manner in which this was to be done; and from that moment the carrying out of the order really rested with the local authority. It was open to the Chief Commissioner either to write to the Regent and inform him what the instructions were, or to go in person and at once to Manipur, and there settle with the Regent the means for carrying the order out. Seeing that the Senapatti was not the Chief of the State, but subordinate to the Regent, the better course would have been to have summoned a durbar, and explained to the head of the State what the instructions were and to have requested him to see them carried out. But the Regent being really impotent, and in the hands of the Senapatti, would have said "I dare not do it, and I cannot do it," in which case it would have been for the Chief Commissioner to write to the Government for fresh instructions, or to have told the Regent that as he could not enforce the obedience of his own subjects the Supreme Government would have to issue fresh orders. I think it was inexpedient to go into the enclosure at the Palace without artillery. The Chief Commissioner, under all the circumstances of the situation, should have applied to Government for fresh instructions, and have submitted that if force were to be used artillery would be required. That was not done, and the only difference between this and many other Native crises is this, that the course taken by the Chief Commissioner may perhaps have been open to comment as erroneous. Disaster ensued, and a consequent appeal to this House. Nevertheless, and on the whole, I think the best course is to leave the Government of India to act for themselves, believing they will do the best in difficult circumstances as they arise. We cannot ascertain all the details of the difficulties that arose after the arrival of the Chief Commissioner at Manipur, and the best thing is to let the past be past and say as little as possible about the matter.
§ (7.26.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I think that the House has no reason to regret the time that has been spent on the subject to-night, because we have all 605 felt that a good deal has been cleared up, and that the question has assumed a much sharper form in our minds than it had before. But at the same time I do not feel we have received from the Government all the light we had the right to expect, and some of the light we have received is rather of a mischievous and dangerous character. I have heard with regret the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India To this we agree: and we shall wait for a further Despatch expressing the deliberate judgment of the India Office. My right hon. Friend pointed out there were many things upon which inquiry was still pending, and which it would be unfair to expect the Secretary of State now to pass a definite opinion upon. But the Under Secretary said some things that seem liable to misapprehension. In the first place, I think he will feel that he has not entirely disposed of the question regarding the durbar. There is, doubt less, some force in the view that such a durbar may be regarded as a Court, and great appositeness in the statement he gave from Sir Robert Sandeman; but, on the other hand, we have the hon. Member for Evesham (Sir It. Temple), and also the opinions known to have been expressed by some eminent retired Indian officials, and I feel, therefore, it would be desirable that we should have this question of the durbar thoroughly reviewed, and the deliberate judgment of the Government of India expressed on it. I have been rejoiced to observe that there is an unbroken concurrence of opinion in acquitting Mr. Quinton from anything like blame for treacherous or unfair conduct. Though I did not know him intimately, I know enough of him and about him to say there was no man in the North-West Provinces more universally respected and trusted, and there are none amongst those who had watched his career who could believe he was guilty of any treacherous act. But the right hon. Gentleman made use of an expression which I hope he will disavow. He spoke of the desirability of not having a strong man, such as the Senapatti, as ruler of a Native State. I believe that to be a bad doctrine, condemned by experience. On the contrary, it is much to the interest both of Native States and 606 of the Indian Government to have as Sovereigns or ruling Ministers men of vigorous character. To take the most conspicuous example, the House will remember that in Afghanistan, after having twice overthrown the Native Government, we were twice compelled to set up strong rulers, men approved because of their strength—I mean Dost Mahommed—after the first great Afghan War, and after the second Afghan War, Abdur Rahman, the present Ameer. I could give many minor instances in which it has been found that the best possible way of bringing about good administration in Native States, and of maintaining peaceful relations with the British Government, is to support a man of strong character and popular with the native people. In this particular case it should be noticed that the Senapatti had not been offensive to the native subjects of the State or to the British Government. It is not alleged—I do not find it in the Despatches—that the Senapatti used his power to govern badly. He was popular; he had not shown himself in any way antagonistic to the British Go-venment, and he remained on good terms, perhaps on too good terms, with Mr. Grimwood himself. Therefore we, the paramount power, had no motive in deposing him. I do not extenuate the actions of which he is said to have been guilty, but we have to consider them in connection with Oriental practice. However, assuming him to have been a violent man, he had not shown himself dangerous to his native subjects or to the British Government. For this reason, I cannot help feeling some regret that if the Indian Government did require these five or six months to make up its mind as to the course of policy it should pursue, it should not sooner have communicated its decision to Mr. Grimwood. This point was strongly put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, and no answer has been made by the Under Secretary or any speaker since. It may have been true that the Government required time to consider the representations of the ex-Maharajah and to submit them to Mr. Grimwood for his criticism; but surely the Government ought to have taken pains to ascertain what was going on in Manipur meantime. 607 Meantime, Mr. Grimwood remained on intimate terms with the Senapatti, and even up to the last week accompanied him on a hunting party. He appeared not to have known the view of the Government of India, or, if he did, he did not guide his own conduct by it. There was nothing to indicate to the Senapatti, or to the inhabitants of Manipur, that the Government of India was displeased at the revolution, and was going to take steps to punish those concerned in it. The term revolution is too strong to use. As Mr. Quinton says, in one of his Despatches, it was a mere family dispute, a dispute not even between the reigning dynasty and another dynasty or family, but a dispute among the members of the reigning family, of whom the nominal head was nothing more than the first among equals, primus inter pares, as Mr. Grimwood put it. It was, perhaps, too serious a view of this dispute to decide that it required the intervention of the paramount Power; but, assuming that it was right to remove the Senapatti, it was surely a dangerous course to leave him practically enjoying the full confidence of Sir. Grimwood until the moment for his deposition came. On the question of delay, there is one observation I desire to make which has not yet been made. The Foreign Policy of the Government of India, I understand, including in the term by Foreign Policy the relations of the Indian Government with such protected or semi-independent States as Manipur, is not in the hands of any responsible Minister or Member of the Council. There is a military Member of the Council, the Commander-in-Chief, a Member who is responsible for Public Works, and other Departments, such as the legal, have representatives, but there is no Member representing Foreign Affairs. The explanation is that the Viceroy himself is his own Foreign Minister, and it is to this I wish to call attention. It seems to me that matters so important deserve the attention, not only of the Viceroy himself, who, of course, as head of the Government, is the ultimate referee on all Indian questions of administration, but of some other high official also. Overwhelmed, as the Viceroy is, with an enormous mass of grave and responsible work, of which we can scarcely form a conception, it is not fair to him that he should 608 also have the sole control of and responsibility for Foreign Policy. He ought to have the advantage of a Minister with the position of Foreign Minister while being Member of the Council, in the same sense as we have a Minister for Foreign Affairs in this country. It is true there is an official called the Foreign Secretary; but his position in the Government of India is much lower than that of Foreign Secretary here. He is merely a Secretary, and not able to deal with foreign affairs in the same way as the Commander-in-Chief can deal with military affairs, and more than once in the history of Indian Government cases have arisen in which the want of such a member of Council has been greatly felt, and has indeed resulted in serious evil to the State. During the time when the Manipur affair was under discussion, the Foreign Secretary was absent, his place being filled by a junior official. I do not say that this accident had any effect on the transactions, but it is well to consider-whether in this respect the Government of India does not require some reform. There is another point upon which no answer has been given to the criticisms of my right hon. Friend. What were the grounds for rejecting the advice given by the authorities on the spot? Hon. Members have said the Government of India must in the last resort decide. Quite true; but when the Government of India decides against the advice of its local officers, and when the disregard of that advice ends in disaster, surely the Government of India is bound to show that its action was right, and the advice of its local officers wrong. That has not been done either by the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary or the hon. Member for Southport. I think it will be admitted that it was a mistake to send Mr. Quinton to Manipur. The suggestion that so important an official as the Chief Commissioner should go up to Manipur did not come from Mr. Quinton himself; it came from the Government of India, although Mr. Quinton very properly accepted without demur the suggestion that he should go. The misfortunes that occurred assumed a more serious character from the death of Mr. Quinton, and his 609 presence probably somewhat restricted the effective action of the military-officers in command, who might have acted more promptly and more energetically but for the presence of so high an official. I will not attempt to discuss the military action, or to allot the blame among the various persons concerned. We must all feel there was no want of courage, but that there was some want of skill. If we ask what is the general moral to be drawn from the whole matter, we may feel that it is this: That the conduct of the Indian Government in its foreign relations requires to be watched somewhat more carefully and closely than it seems to be watched by the Home Government. No one would be less willing than I to suggest a policy of interference on the part of the office in London, still less of Parliament; but when we hear of so many frontier wars, and when we see from the perusal of these Papers that the Government of India is in the habit of taking important decisions with regard to frontier affairs without communicating with home, I cannot help thinking that it would be better if there was more communication of intentions, at least on the part of the Government of India. I was impressed by what the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy said as to these frontier wars on the North-West of India. There has lately been a good deal of activity, perhaps too much, on the North-West frontier, and we ought to be better informed of what is going on there, and ought to have some assurance that the forward movement we have reason to believe is in progress there is watched more closely, and scrutinised more carefully by the India Office, than these occurrences at Manipur would lead us to believe. I hope, after what has been said to-night, that the Government will carefully consider the future fate of Manipur. It would be a pity that Native Princes, who are sensitive in these matters, should be left to the belief that there is a tendency on our part to interfere for the extinction of that qualified independence which has been left to them. Without expressing an opinion as to the future Government of Manipur, I hope the Government will hesitate before they attempt a permanent atten- 610 tion in the condition of that State. I quite agree with the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Temple) as to the strategic importance of Manipur as to the route to Assam from Burma; but I should regret a policy of annexation.
§ *(7.45.) SIR R. LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
There can be no doubt whatever as to the immense political and strategical importance of the geographical position of Manipur. That State is rightly regarded as the key of the communications between Assam and Burma; and not only so, but it is also the key to the communications between the Continent of India itself and Burma, and the communications with the South-West States of China. The House will at once, therefore, recognise the immense importance of any discussion that bears on the future condition of that State, and our future relations with it. But at the same time, I must confess, that differing from the hon. Member for Aberdeen, I do think there has been something like a waste of time on the part of this House in discussing the particular phases of the question that have been brought before the House this evening. I quite admit that the speech with which the right hon. Member for Derby opened the discussion was a most temperate, moderate, and statesmanlike speech—a speech which it was a pleasure for any old Indian to listen to. The right hon. Gentleman did full justice to the Indian Services; and as an old member of these Services, I am obliged to him for the expressions that he used; but when he states that he is bringing forward this Motion as dealing with certain important questions of Indian Policy, I must venture to remark that the main body of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and of the speeches of most hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the House this evening, has been concerned rather with minute criticisms on minor matters of detail. Even where the policy of the Government of India has been attacked or defended, it seems to me that it has been on comparatively small points of administrative detail, which are better left to the discretion of the Government of India itself. The Government of India, as the right hon. Member for Derby well told 611 us, consists of men who have, to a large extent, spent the best parts of their lives in studying Indian questions on the spot, and surely to them may be left questions affecting smaller matters of detail, such as the occasion when the Senapatti should be arrested, or when he should not be arrested. Things of that sort might surely be left to the discretion of the Government of India, and the points that are brought up here for discussion should be simply and solely large points of general policy. The first point that has been dealt with very largely to-night is the question of arresting the Senapatti at the durbar. The authority of the Member for Evesham is very great on such a question as that, perhaps as great as any man living; yet I feel myself unable to agree with the conclusion he arrived at on the question of the durbar. I would venture to base my objection to his conclusion even upon his own speech, and the words which he used to explain to this House most correctly the real meaning of the word durbar. I observed that the hon. Member for Aberdeen complained that no full and clear explanation had been given of what was understood in India by a durbar, but I would venture to state to the hon. Gentleman that my hon. Friend the Member for Evesham did point out that there are durbars and durbars. There are many forms of durbars. There are durbars little more than a mere levee. There is a durbar which is more like the meeting on the Field of the Cloth of Gold where there is a meeting of potentates on equal terms, such as when the Viceroy of India met the Ameer of Afghanistan. But there is also, as the hon. Member for Evesham pointed out to the House, a durbar which by universal admission, is a tribunal of justice, a durbar to which the durbarees are summoned. They are ordered to attend, and at that durbar a declaration of policy or of the intentions of the Government may be made, and undoubtedly arrests may be made at such a durbar without any imputation of treachery. The Under Secretary of State quoted instances of such a durbar on the Beloochistan frontier, in which Sir Robert Sandeman carried out some such proceedings as that of arresting prisoners. The reply was made by the 612 hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Maclean) that the Beloochistan frontier was a particularly wild one; and he also said that such rules could not be applied to a more settled and more civilised part of the Empire. I meet that in two ways. First of all, I say that Manipur is as wild and as unsettled as any part of the Beloochistan frontier, even although the inhabitants of Manipur are not of such a warlike quality as the Beloochis; and, secondly, what is an honourable act in Beloochistan cannot become a treacherous or a dishonourable act in Manipur. Therefore, I venture to point out that the very description given by my hon. Friend the Member for Evesham of this particular form of durbar, which is also a tribunal of justice, does prove most incontestably that Mr. Quinton and the Government of India, if they intended to order the attendance of the Senapatti at this durbar, and if they intended to arrest him, were justified by Oriental usages. There is not only the instance of the arrests by Sir Robert Sandeman, but arrests at durbars have come from the remotest ages in the East. I do not wish to say anything on the subject that might seem to be an attempt to raise a smile, but I would point out that even in the earliest times the arrest of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego took place at a durbar convened by Nebuchadnezzar, when he called together all the captains and nobles, and he arrested Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego on the testimony that was then given. Similar proceedings, we have learned to-night, have been adopted by Sir Robert Sandeman. The same kind of durbar must take place in Oriental countries frequently, because that particular form of durbar is by no means an uncommon one. The right hon. Member for Derby, with great modesty, disclaimed any right to speak authoritatively on the point, but said that this question with regard to the durbar would have to be settled by Indian opinion, and not apparently by English opinion. Well, I am not quite sure that I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman there. I think that the Government of India in future, at any rate, after observing the imputations that have been placed upon them, somewhat unjustly, I would say, in this country with regard to the proposed arrest of 613 the Senapatti, will regard English sentiment on this point. I think that in India we cannot be too careful to have the highest possible standard on these points; and I should be glad to see the Government of India look in future to English rather than to Oriental opinion upon all such matters. But if regard be had to Oriental opinion and to Oriental custom—immemorial custom—then I will venture to say that no blame can rightly attach to the proposals that had been made either by the Government of India or by Mr. Quinton. The hon. Member for Aberdeen said that it was not advisable that the Viceroy should be in charge of the portfolio of the Foreign Department in India. The hon. Member bused that opinion on his view that the duties of the Foreign Office are of the highest and most difficult character. That is quite right, but it is really the very reason why the portfolio of the Foreign Department was, by the arrangement come to when the Council of the Governor General was established, entrusted to the Viceroy himself. I had the honour of being attached to the Simla and Calcutta Foreign Office, and, therefore, I am aware of what took place. The view taken was this: that the communications coming under the purview of the Member of Council for the Foreign Department were of such an important and confidential character, that they required to be dealt with with so much strength and ability to carry them through that it was best, if the Viceroy had any portfolio at all to hold, for him to hold that particular portfolio. We have seen recently in this country that a similar policy has been productive of the best results, where the Prime Minister has also been Foreign Secretary. I see the hon. Member shakes his head. Perhaps he means that the Foreign Office in this country is not quite the same as the Foreign Office in India; but there is this ground of similarity between them: that both are concerned with matters of the highest importance and delicacy. There is one other point in the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen on which I should wish to say one or two words before I sit down. He criticised somewhat severely the opinion expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State 614 for India—confirmed also, I may say, by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy—that there is some objection to the paramount Power leaving in positions of the highest power and influence in Native States men of strong wills and violent tempers. That, perhaps, is not exactly what the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) said. As nearly as possible, he said, I think, that the Government objected to the policy of employing strong men in high positions. But I would draw the hon. Member's attention to the fact that there are strong men, men of strong wills, but of honest integrity of purpose, who have done most admirable service to the Empire in many of the Native States of India. I need only mention the names of the late Sir Madhava Rao and the late Sir Salar Jung. We have such men in many of the Native States at present who are of that character, who do most valuable service in that character. The Secretary of State and my right hon. Friend do not object to such strong men. What we object to is not the employment of strong men in those positions, but the employment of men with strong wills and violent tempers—aye, and of violent actions, as it has been shown, by quotations from the judgments of this very Senapatti, he has himself been guilty of. He has been guilty of the most shameless actions, of the most shameless cruelties, cruelties which are regarded with as much horror in India as in England. I hope the hon. Member for Aberdeen will regard that as a fair criticism on his remarks about men of strong will. It is not the strong men of India—it is not at all because they are strong men, or because they are popular, that we object to them; but it is on account of the subjects of those Native States, who would have to suffer from their oppression if we allowed them to be under the charge of such rulers, that we, who know the circumstances of India, object most strongly to the employment in such positions of men of strong wills, combined with violent tempers and actions. I trust, Sir, that that will be regarded as a justification of the policy of the Government of India in decreeing the deportation of the Senapatti. After most carefully reading the whole of the evidence 615 presented to us, I do feel that it would have been suicidal for the paramount Power to have left such a cruel and violent man, such an avowed enemy to British authority, in power among the Manipuris. I think, therefore, that that justifies the general policy of the Government; and, for my own part, in all the broad outlines of that policy, I entirely agree with it. It may be that on some of the minor details of its execution there are things which we all deplore; but those details, Mr. Speaker, I do maintain should be left to the discretion of the Government of India.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
, interposing, said: I hope the right hon. Gentleman will postpone for a little what he has to say. The Secretary of State for War will reply on the whole Debate. My right hon. Friend will consent to the Papers being granted; but the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) and the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) deserve some reply from the Government.
(8.4.) MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
I venture to intervene in this Debate for a very brief time, because my views on Indian questions are different from the views of the vast majority of both sides of this House. As long as I have been in the House I have always thought it was an imperative duty on Irish Members closely to investigate Indian matters, because we have more sympathy with States which, like Ireland, are under the British Flag, but outside the pale of the privileges of the British Constitution. Now, Mr. Speaker, the course of the Debate all during; the night has more than justified my action when I yesterday appealed to the First Lord of the Treasury not to throw over the Bill brought in by the Government themselves, having for its object the better administration of the Indian Government. Let us consider now with reference to that question, first of all, what is admitted in the course of this Debate. It is notorious that the subject States of India—Manipur is one—comprise no fewer than 60,000,000 of human beings. A revolution of great import has oc- 616 curred in Manipur. That revolution was suppressed, or put down, or taken into consideration, not by the Home Government of India, not by Lord Cross, or by the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India, or by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanhope), who is at present on the Treasury Bench, and who has administered Indian affairs with very great success, and with his accustomed ability—it was simply taken into consideration by Lord Lansdowne and his Indian Council. The Indian Government, or those portions of the Imperial Government which have a cognisance of Indian matters, have no official record, and no official information of anything that went on at Manipur. I think that is a very shameful and a very disgraceful state of affairs. It appears not to be within the knowledge of the British public that the India Office at home is a very elaborate office. There is an Under Secretary, my right hon. Friend [Sir J. Gorst at this moment entered, and took his seat on the Treasury Bench]—I see that the right hon. Gentleman has taken his seat, and I may inform him that I was simply commenting on the fact that it was a very shameful and a very disgraceful state of affairs that a revolution should take place in a State like Manipur, and that the Government at home should be without official information of it; and that, further, it should be simply taken into consideration by the Indian Government in Calcutta, the Government of the Viceroy and his Council. Lord Cross had nothing to say to it, and gave no advice. The matter, so far as the documents go to show, was taken into consideration by the extraordinary Council of 15, the 15 members of the Indian Council, which is a kind of Cabinet for Indian administration. Having regard to the fact that no fewer than 60,000,000 of people are affected, and having regard to the fact that the Government at home knew nothing of this transaction, I think it will be granted that such a state of things is a scandal to our administration. I can well remember—indeed, when the right hon. Gentleman was making his very able speech I was forcibly reminded of a splendidly written article of his on Indian matters, published before he assumed the responsibility of high office, in which he said there were many facts 617 connected with the Indian Government which had not been brought before the public. I say that the treatment of Manipur by the Home Government is one of those cases. Let us see how the right hon. Gentleman stands in reference to Indian matters. The Member for Stockport assumed, I think, rather an ambitious office; he tried to make the Indian administration purer, and better, and more virtuous than did the right hon. Gentleman who is the exponent of Indian administration in this House. The right hon. Gentleman did not say that this deposed Prince, this Senapatti, this Commander-in-Chief, who is now under sentence of death, was, as did the hon. Member for Stockport, a scoundrel. He said nothing of the kind. He admitted that he was an able man, a popular administrator, who gathered round him the great enthusiasm of all his people. All this the right hon. Gentleman said; yet, with a cynicism which has never been equalled even by the Chief Secretary, he said that because the Senapatti was an able man, and because he was a vigorous administrator, he was as such an object of jealousy to the Indian Government. That, inasmuch as he was popular among his people, the Indian Government regarded him with a jealous eye. The right hon. Gentleman added that the deposition of the Senapatti was not a moral but apolitical act; it was not done on the ground of morality. Really I think I must commend the right hon. Gentleman for that confession. He at the same time said that when a man, an Indian subject, becomes an object of danger or jealousy to the Indian Government on account of his abilities, on account of his originality of character, the first thing the English Government must do is to blacken his character and to set a picket on him, in fact——
MR. MAC NEILL
Well, I do not wish to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman. These charges and allegations date so far back as 1881, and, though they should have been forgotten, they have been raked up against this man when it became convenient for the Indian Government to put him down with a view to annexing the whole Province of Manipur. This was the real object of these transactions and pro- 618 ceedings. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman was very happy in his comparison with reference to the field of poppies, in which the heads of the topmost poppies, which in a degree stood above the others, were knocked off, with a further suggestion that so might be managed obstreperous politicians. If it is mentioned in every bazaar, in every gathering of English officers, and every gathering of Indian natives, that the English Government in India is not for the benefit of the people of India, that it is not to promote the welfare of the people, that it is not to advance the best men to the highest places, and that it is not to endeavour through native agency to bring home to the people of India government in its best possible form, then we shall dissolve English rule in India by dispelling the confidence which ought to exist. I never thought that an English Minister would stand up here—a responsible Minister of the English Crown, representing the English Government in the Empire of India—and avow that the subject races are held by us-simply for our own benefit, and that our officials may ride rough-shod over them. The right hon. Gentleman drew a comparison in reference to the present dangers to the State. Reference was made to the New Zealanders, who it was said constituted a danger to the colonists there, and who, therefore, ought to be destroyed. I am sorry that such cases which have been referred to have existed; but, at the same time, I should wish it to be known that the English Democracy have never to this date been responsible for the crimes: and atrocities that have from time to time been perpetrated by the Governments by which they have been ruled. From the time of these remote occurrences down to the date of the Pigott conspiracy—[Cries of "Oh!"]—I am quite sure the Speaker will call me to order if I say anything which in his opinion may be wrong. Of course, it is absolutely essential that the Government of India should be free from all blame on account of the atrocities and forgeries upon which our Indian Empire was founded. I am glad to say that the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham (Sir Richard Temple), who combines with great experience of the Indian Service high ability and high honour, has emancipated him- 619 self from the trammels of Indian officialism in that most able article, in which he vigorously denounced the impropriety and dishonour of asking any one whom you intend to manacle into your garden or your house. This case, in point of fact, is the old case of the spider and the fly, and that is not the way in which English administration in India ought to be carried on. I, for one, shall never have the great honour and privilege of sitting on the Treasury Front Bench—at any rate, in this Parliament; and, therefore, I do not feel bound in my intelligence by any of the trammels of officialism. Consequently. I do not hesitate to say that the person who is really responsible for all these troubles is not Mr. Quinten, who is dead, and, therefore, unable to speak on his own account, but Her Majesty's Viceroy of India, Lord Lansdowne. This, I think, I shall be able to prove to the House up to the very hilt in the Blue Book containing the correspondence which has been issued on this very painful subject. Let me ask the House to consider for a moment how things have been going on in the State of Manipur. It is a small State, and hitherto appears to have been fairly well managed. Mr. Grim wood, who has lost his life, would appear to have so conducted himself in the office he filled at Manipur as to be enabled to bring the natives there very much in accordance with his own views, and I am quite sure that anyone who will read the Despatches dealing with the actiontion of that gentleman during the two years he was at Manipur will agree with me in saying that he did his best to promote not only the interests of his own Government, but also the peace, tranquillity, and welfare of the community in the district in which he was placed. I think I shall be enabled to prove to this House from the Despatches contained in this Blue Book, first of all, that Mr. Grimwood and Mr. Quinton approved of the supplanting of a feeble and incompetent Maharajah by a capable one. There was no idea of treachery or want of loyalty to the British Crown on his part, and the best proof of that is to be found in the fact that Mr. Grimwood, when the revolution occurred, was at the British Residency at Manipur, and went over and had a durbar, which was an honourable durbar, at which he conversed with the present Maharajah of 620 Manipur, and likewise with the Senapatti, who is now under sentence of death, and who would have been to happy and independent Prince administering the affairs of the State of Manipur to the welfare of the community over which he would have been ruling had it not been for the action of the Viceroy, Lord Lansdowne. Mr. Grimwood says, on page 6 of the Report—The Maharajah then wrote a letter to the Senapatti to tell him his determination to leave and resign the 'gaddi' to the Jubaraj, and when I went to the Palace the Senapatti and his brothers were evidently very pleased at the Maharajah's resolution, and the former promised to make all the arrangements for the journey of the Maharajah and his brothers to Cachar it a proper manner, and that those who chose to stay in Manipur would not be molested. He also said he would send for the Jubaraj who it appears, was about eight miles away on the Cachar Road. The Jubaraj arrived two or three hours after, and at once proclaimed him self Maharajah. As soon as the Maharajah's intention of leaving the country was known numbers of Manipuris flocked to the Residency to see him, most of them bringing various sums of money to present to him. To judge from the way the people wept, one would say the Maharajah was popular, and everyone seemed sorry at his departure.On page 3 of the Despatch Mr. Grimwood says—I have no doubt that the departure of the Maharajah and three of this brothers will be, at any rate for a time, beneficial to the country. A Maharajah and seven brothers over whom he had little real authority were too many for a small country like this, and their reduction being half will be a relief in more ways than one. The Marahajah personally was popular, but he was a weak ruler, paid little attention to public business, and spent hours every day in worshipping in the Temple. He was not at all the person to keep order amongst his brothers, and he is a man who will be much happier, I imagine, as an ascetic than as a ruler. The Jubaraj, who, I hope, will he allowed to succeed to the "gaddi," has the reputation of being much more active and business-like. The Senapatti has more than once incurred the censure of the Government; but, as I have mentioned above, he is popular amongst all classes; he is the only Prince who is said to be poor owing to his generosity, He is also on good terms with the Jubaraj; and if the latter is allowed to succeed to the "gaddi," the Senapatti, as Jubaraj, would assist in making his rule strong and popular. At the time of writing, everything is profoundly quiet and going on as usual. The postal services have not been interrupted at all.In all these things we have the experience and testimony of Mr. Grimwood and Mr. Quinton, who are best able to judge as to the conduct and character 621 of the Senapatti. I have here further testimony as to what the Political Agent at Manipur considers to have been the effects of this revolution. At the time it occurred he expressed a hope that the result would be beneficial, and, after four months' experience, he says that as far is he can tell the feeling of the bulk of he people is one of perfect contentment under their new ruler, and there is no reason why this should not be the case. And yet this ruler is the man whom the hon. Member for Stockport spoke of is a scoundrel in his Debating Society speech earlier in the evening. As I read these Records, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and I ask hon. Members who are listening to me, to bring to their recollection the fact that an hon. Friend stood up in his place on the eve of the Whitsuntide holidays and asked for the cause of the delay in producing these Papers. Is the reason to be found that the British people quickly forget circumstances in the sequence of events, and it was deemed desirable, therefore, to delay the Papers until the freshness of what had occurred had passed off? I never saw State documents which so deeply convicted an Administration. I come now to a Despatch by Lord Lansdowne, or by one of his agents in Calcutta. It is dated the 24th January, and is as follows:—The opinion which the Governor General in Council has formed from a perusal of the Papers in this case is, that we should intervene with a sufficient show of strength to make it understood that we intend to he masters of the situation.Why should they, I ask, be masters of the situation? Why should not the Manipuris be masters of the situation and govern in their own country, so long as they are doing no hurt to the British Administration, which, after all, is only there for the protection of the Manipuris? Then the Despatch goes on—The differences between the Maharajah's brothers must be settled on principles of justice.The fact is, the Indian Government was simply trying to grab this State, although both Mr. Grimwood and Mr. Quinton had declared it to be a good Government in Manipur. Again, the Despatch says—Whatever arrangement is come to must have our full sanction.The sanction of people in Calcutta who 622 know nothing whatever about the Manipuris. Then comes an instruction to visit Manipur, and the Despatch continues—In the opinion of the Governor General, if you find that the Maharajah would receive a reasonable amount of support from the people of Manipur, he might be reinstated and promised assistance in consideration of his implicitly following our instructions.The consideration, I beg the House to mark, is not in consideration of his good government, or of services rendered, but of his implicitly following the instructions of people in Calcutta. Again, the Despatch shows the official knowledge of the incompetence of the Maharajah, for it says—It will probably be desirable that the Senapatti should in any case be removed, for even if the Maharajah proves hopelessly incompetent and the Jubaraj is recognised, it would be necessary to remove his disreputable adherents from the State and to punish the Senapatti for his violent and lawless conduct.I must say that after this night's Debate I do not think that the man now under sentence of death is likely to be executed. It appears to me from these Papers that the object of the Indian Government was to disturb the tranquillity of this little State in spite of the entreaty of Mr. Grimwood and in defiance of Mr. Quinton's matured opinion. The object was to "grab" this little county. Talk of Irish land grabbers, why they are only miniatures of the Indian land grabbers! I am sorry that Mr. Quinton lost his life. He made an error of judgment; he-ought to have put his foot down when Lord Lansdowne sent him the instructions which led up to this disaster. He began life in a humble position in an obscure Irish parish, by his own efforts he raised himself to a high post, and he ought to have told Lord Lansdowne that he valued his honour too highly to carry out such instructions. I am not particularly concerned for the honour of Lord Lansdowne, or of the Indian Government, but I am concerned for the memory of my countryman, Mr. Quinton, who had a splendid career in India. An attempt has been made, no doubt a kindly one, in an admirable article by the hon. Baronet to show that the plan of inviting the Senapatti to the durbar, then to arrest him, was the idea of Mr. Quinton. But the documents conclusively prove the reverse. A telegram in the Blue Book, on page 27, shows that Quinton, in the 623 earlier part of February, when this matter was brought to his notice, wrote strongly to the Viceroy objecting to it. Bat his Excellency the Governor and the Council were determined to destroy the little State, so Mr. Quinton was brought up to Calcutta, and had an interview with the Viceroy on February 21st of the present year. He had to be closeted with his Excellency, as Resident Magistrates in Ireland are closeted with the Chief Secretary, in order to bring him up to the scratch. Then he was despatched on the road, and on the 18th March he telegraphed that he intends to arrest the Senapatti at the durbar. He says—Your letter 21st ult. Expect to reach Manipur on Sunday with escort described in my demi-official letter of the 22nd idem. Have communicated with the Political Agent through Lieutenant Gurdon, whom I sent in advance. I propose to require the Regent and durbar to meet me on arrival, announce the decision of the Government, and arrest Senapatti.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I may point out that the durbar there referred to is not the durbar called by Mr. Quinton; it was really the entourage of the Regent.
MR. MAC NEILL
I must acknowledge my error; I think the right hon. Gentleman is right. But if the right hon. Gentleman will look at page 80 of this Blue Book he will see a telegram dated 30th April, from the Viceroy to the Secretary of State, as to the arrest of Senapatti. He will find it there stated: "Arrangement was, orders of India were to be announced at durbar." That is the durbar of the British Residency, and not the durbar of Senapatti, and Senapatti was to be told to surrounder at the durbar of the Residency, the durbar which was to be surrounded by military in three or four quarters. And then came the words—" If he refused, Colonel Skene was to arrest him at durbar."
MR. MAC NEILL
He ratified them afterwards, and I am certain the whole of this arrangement was carried out between Mr. Quinton and his party and the Viceroy. The telegram goes on to say—" Troops were kept in readiness round Residency, where durbar was held, in case of resistance." A greater violation of the laws of honour and hospitality has scarcely ever been 624 heard of, even in Indian politics. Talk about straightforward English gentlemen or about honour after this! It is a ghastly story, and a shameful story. Now, Sir, I think we have proved that there was an arrangement of Quinton's which, at all events, was sanctioned by our highest authorities, to arrest this man; and how did Quinton behave on the morning of that day? He came into Manipur on the morning of Sunday, the 22nd March. The man whom he intended to arrest met him four miles out of the town. Quinton dismounted, and had a parley and a conversation with him, and that afternoon the plan was arranged, and he was invited to attend this durbar to be arrested. He was invited there contrary to the expressed opinion and entreaty of Mr. Grimwood, and contrary to his (Mr. Quinton's) own better judgment in fact. What I have said, and always say, in Indian matters I say from a sense of great responsibility. These people have got no representative, and it is necessary that questions affecting Indian administration should be closely watched. How long is this kind of administration to last? Could you not have gone straightforwardly to these people and have said, "We have come to arrest you," and have taken a proper force and carried a strong arm? That might have been an unjustifiable, but it would have been a manly, course; and why should tricks and treachery be resorted to? This Senapatti was never asked to go to the durbar with the knowledge that he would be arrested the instant he went in. I am sorry to think that Indian administration, which of all the administrations of the British Empire should be the purest from its past antecedents, should still maintain the character that attached to it in the past.
§ (9.17.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle
I am very sorry the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down differed in two respects from the general character of the Debate; in the first place, because he has drawn, not upon the Blue Book, but upon his own imagination, for the facts he has laid before the House; and, secondly, because the general tone of his speech has been in direct contradiction to the general tone of the speeches that preceded it. I am glad to recognise from the speech 625 of the right hon. Gentleman who opened this Debate, and from the speeches of almost all hon. Members who succeeded him, that there has been a general desire to inform the country of the facts of this unfortunate incident without endeavouring to create any Party prejudice either on the one side or the other, or to direct public attention in condemnation of any official. Among the speeches delivered on the other side of the House there has been one rather general complaint, and that complaint has been that Her Majesty's Government have not hitherto presented their final judgment upon all the facts of the case, and the right hon. Gentleman asks that any Despatch the Secretary of State might be ready to write to the Government of India upon the whole of this case should be at once presented to this House. Now, Sir, I am bound to say the difficulties in the way of any general view at this moment are very great. In the first place, there is more than one inquiry going on. We know perfectly well, from what the Viceroy has told us, that he has instituted inquiries into the various aspects of this case, and he has not hitherto communicated to us, nor has he yet received, the results of those inquiries. But as regards the other aspects of the case, there is a very great difference of opinion among the various authorities who have to deal with it. Unfortunately many of those who might have contributed valuable testimony on one side or the other are dead, and in deference to that calamity which has fallen upon them there is a general reluctance on the part of the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate, and on the part of everyone who has followed, towards speaking of them or making anything like an attack upon those who are not in a position to answer for themselves. We therefore approach this subject under circumstances of very considerable difficulty, but we recognise fully the responsibility which rests upon the Government of the day in England to express an opinion on the action of the Government in India. The general rule, we know perfectly well, is this: The Government of India has to act upon its own responsibility. There have been exceptions—unfortunate exceptions—where Governments in this country have ordered the Government 626 in India to carry out a particular policy in India without either consulting them orallowing due weight to the opinions put forward. I regret any such case, because I believe in the main it is best to throw the responsibility entirely upon the action of the Government of India, the Government of this country to remain a Court of Review, which when it has received all the facts and circumstances connected with any case can write out to India and express from this country the deliberate opinion of the Secretary of State for India in Council upon the action which the Government of India has taken. The Government in this country and the Government of India in Council do not shrink from that responsibility. So soon as the facts are fully before them they are fully prepared, and indeed determined, to write out to India a general review of all the circumstances of the case, expressing their opinion and asking such questions as they think the circumstances of the case may demand. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), who spoke in the course of the Debate, alleged that the questions that had been put by the right hon. Member for Derby had not been answered by the Under Secretary of State. Well, I took a very careful note of those questions, and though, of course, I am not able to say whether the answers were altogether satisfactory or not to hon. Gentlemen opposite, this at least I will say—that there was no question which the right hon. Gentleman put forward in his speech which the Under Secretary did not attempt to approach in the course of his speech. I beg pardon, I think there was one. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of this Debate, spoke of this affair as one in which a British force had been cut up. I should like to say to the House one thing of which they are probably unaware. We have heard of this affair altogether in terms of the grossest exaggeration, and it may be a surprise to many hon. Members to learn that after all the result of the unfortunate affair which took place in Manipur was this: that only 25 men of our forces in India were either killed or were missing. The total loss in the affair at Manipur—with the exception, of course, of the unfortunate massacre of some English officers taken prisoners 627 afterwards—amounted to only 25 killed and missing. I should like, and I am sure I desire, to approach this subject from the point of view of the points which are admitted and the points which are disputed, and it is very desirable indeed that we should all entirely appreciate what facts are admitted and what facts still remain in substantial dispute between us. First of all, it is substantially admitted that the Government of India had the right to interfere in the affairs of Manipur. That has not been disputed by any speaker who has taken part in the Debate, and it is undoubtedly the right of the Government, not only in consequence of their special arrangements with the State of Manipur, but also because of their paramount power in India, to interfere when they think it necessary in the affairs of a State situated as Manipur is. It is very satisfactory, therefore, to be able to stand on firm ground so far. The Government of India, whether right or wrong in what they did, had a right to interfere, at any rate, in the affairs of Manipur. Secondly, I think it is admitted on all hands, that for the mode of carrying out their policy, the Government of India cannot be held to be responsible. I do not think any speaker to-night has substantially disputed that proposition. There was one idea put forward, I rather think by the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce), that it was quite wrong on the part of the Government of India to send Mr. Quinton at all to Manipur, and that what had been done at Manipur might very well have been carried out by Mr. Grimwood, who was a man of consider able experience, and might have carried out all the arrangements without the interference of Mr. Quinton. Well, I want to know how it is possible for any hon. Gentleman opposite to argue any such point as that, because, on the one hand they tell us that it is an affair so small that Mr. Grimwood might very well have carried it out without Mr. Quinton's interference, and, on the other hand, they tell us that it was so important that it ought to have been referred to England for settlement by the Government in England. These two contentions are utterly contradictory. I believe the facts of the case really to be this: As a rule, it is very desirable if you can to deal with the 628 matter on the spot. It is also desirable when a matter comes before the Government in India that the Government of India should be trusted to carry out that policy. The number of instances in which reference ought to be made on matters affecting a Feudatory State in India—before action is taken—to the Government of this country is exceedingly small. That being so, with that exception, I have not heard any objection taken to the proposition I have laid down as to the mode of carrying out the policy adopted, and which the Government of India is not responsible for. I do not think I am called upon, nor am I ready, to defend the military arrangements that took place. I am not dealing in particular with the number of troops or with the question of ammunition, because I think a great deal might be said on both these subjects in very great contradiction of many of the criticisms passed in this country upon the action of the authorities in India. But upon the general disposition of the military forces, and the general action taken in that respect in the expedition to Manipur, I cannot help feeling that there is a great deal that requires explanation, and there is a great deal that with any explanation it will be exceedingly difficult to defend-Now I come to the second point, in which an attack has been made upon the mode in which the policy of the Government of India has been carried out—I allude to the arrest, or the proposed arrest, in durbar. Anybody who has read what has passed, and anybody who has listened to the Debate to-night, must be perfectly aware that on this subject there is a very great difference of opinion among the highest Indian authorities. We have had very high Indian authorities passing judgment either on the one side or the other. I heard with very great interest, for instance, my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. Curzon), who had evidently studied the Indian authorities, and who spoke, not as expressing his own opinions, but as from his study of the Indian authorities which he had obtained at the time. I had his outspoken and frank approval of the course adopted in this respect by the Indian Government. I heard also with very great respect the opinion of my hon. Friend the Member for Evesham (Sir R. Temple), than whom none are entitled to speak with greater authority in 629 this House on Indian questions. He expressed the contrary opinion. Well, that only shows the very great difficulty that anybody, in this country at any rate, must have in arriving at a satisfactory conclusion on a matter so greatly disputed between one high authority and another. At the same time, I cannot help thinking that every body ought to remember that a Durbar Court is not necessarily a Ceremonial Court. I believe myself that there is a great deal in the opinion of those authorities who point out that there are various descriptions of durbars. There are durbars that are purely ceremonial, where nobody would dream for a moment of attempting anything like what is suggested in this case. There are durbars that are not ceremonial, but are practically Courts held for the purpose of announcing the orders of the Government of India. That was the kind of Court to which the Senapatti and other officials were summoned—a Court to hear the orders of the Government of India. Take, for example, the illustration of a Court of Justice. Suppose a man is ordered to appear and does not appear, you then issue a warrant for his arrest. In this case, the men were summoned to hear the orders of the Government of India; and if they do not attend, steps must be taken to ensure their attendance——
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I beg pardon, but that was not the point. The point is that they were summoned in order to be arrested.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
If the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I think he will allow me to proceed with my argument in my own way. I am dealing with the point of the summons to the durbar. The summons to the durbar was for the purpose of hearing the orders of the Government of India; and, so far as I am concerned, I believe the summons to the durbar for that purpose was certainly not without precedent, and might almost be described as not wholly unusual in the history of the Government of India. That being so, if any officer had attended for the purpose of hearing the orders of the Government of India, the question arises, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite says, whether the officers who summoned the durbar would not have the right to arrest them if they 630 attended that durbar. That, again, is a point on which there is great difference of opinion.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
Oh, yes, there is this difference—I think the right hon. Gentleman must allow that there must be some difference of opinion if there are precedents in favour of one particular course, namely, that of arrest in such circumstances. There are precedents which the right hon. Gentleman cannot dispute on this matter; and that being so, he cannot for a moment say that this is not a matter capable of argument both on the one side and the other. Now, I venture to say with the greatest respect, having no personal experience in the matter, that, on the whole, although the Government of this country are inclined to agree with the Government of India as to the possible legality of the course that was pursued—and precedents prove that it was a legal course in certain cir cumstances—they also prove that the particular case in which it is exercised must depend upon the particular circum stances surrounding it. There is nothing certainly in what has taken place that reflects the smallest stain either upon the Government of India or upon the officer who took this course without reference to or sanction of the Government of India. What the Government of India have done is that they have approved of the case in the circum stances to which it was applicable; and in that opinion we concur. Whether that was the course that would have recommended itself to the Government of this country if they had been applied to is a matter which I can answer in this way: Supposing my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State having, as he now has, the facts before him, had been asked whether or not it was a course it was desirable to adopt, he would have replied, It is not the course which, in his opinion, ought to have been adopted. Now I pass to the further question which is really in dispute between us, the question of the wisdom of the policy itself. What grounds are there for saying that the policy adopted was not a wise one? I should say it would be somewhat presumptuous on the part of any individual in this House, who could have but little knowledge indeed——
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
Of the precise circumstances prevailing in Manipur, to say that the Government of India, who had at its disposal the best information on the subject, and were able to decide on the spot, with full knowledge of all the circumstances, was wrong in adopting the particular course it did adopt. I believe we will do wisely to place the responsibility on the Government of India, and to admit that, with very imperfect knowledge, to control the action of the Government of India in such a case as this would be wrong; but, of course, the argument is a perfectly fair one; that if the policy of the Government of India was wise, why was it not adopted at once? Why did they not at once propose to get rid of the usurpers at Manipur and replace the Maharajah? Well, of course, I think we are all agreed in this House that if it was possible for the Government of India to have proceeded at once in the matter it would have been much better. But I would point out to the House two considerations: First of all, that the approval of the Government by the Regent and the Senapatti was purely and entirely provisional. They were distinctly told that they were allowed to retain the government which they had assumed solely until the further orders of the Government of India were received, and although the interval was a long one before the orders were given, still they had the fullest warning that they had to abide by the orders of the Government of India. The second consideration is this: Any delay that occurred at Calcutta was caused entirely by the desire of the Viceroy, first of all, to do justice to the ex-Maharajah. He wished to hear everything which he had to say. He gave him the fullest opportunity of making int hecompanla had to make against the course the Government were taking. The Viceroy also desired to hear, in the fullest manner, the views of Mr. Grimwood and Mr. Quinton as to the policy to be adopted. What the Viceroy and his Council desired, in the first instance, was to replace the ex-Maharajah. Mr. Grimwood and Mr. Quinton said that was not the policy they were inclined to support, and they wished that it should not be adopted. It took a considerable time to argue the question. Everybody knows very well that the complaints had to be referred to the various parties, and the 632 whole had to be fully considered at Calcutta, and after the fullest consideration the Viceroy decided to give up his own opinion and adopt the opinion thrust upon him by Mr. Quinton and Mr. Grimwood. Then, when the Government of India is charged with not forming an opinion on the spot, I should like to know what a Government could do more than confess itself convinced upon the whole by the arguments which its agents put forward, abandoning the idea of putting up the Maharajah, and accepting the course proposed by their own agents. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) said that that was all very well, but the Government of India should have withdrawn the proposal to withdraw the Senapatti. But that meant this: that the Government of India ought to allow the revolt at Manipur to remain successful and untouched and the authority of the Senapatti unassailed. That was an absolutely impossible course. It was absolutely essential to mark the sense of the authority of the Government of India as the paramount Power. Nobody doubts that the Senapatti was the author of the revolt. I shall quote the authority of General Johnston and General Gurdon-, resident at Manipur, both of whom are agreed in their views on that subject. The Government of India must have felt that there could be no peace in Manipur if they left the Jubraj reigning with the Senapatti at his side. They knew the Senapatti was a kingmaker, and that he would have afterwards made himself king. The result would have been that no Native Chief could have relied on the promises of the Government of India to sustain him in the position in which they placed him if the Government had allowed this revolt to pass unnoticed. I do not think, therefore, there was any alternative if the Government of India desired to prevent the necessity of leaving the Senaputti to be a public danger to the interests of the State in Manipur. I beg pardon—there is possibly one alternative, and that is the alternative suggested by Mr. Quinton. Mr. Quinton suggested that there should be an inquiry beforehand. Now, lot anybody consider that for a moment. Here is a man in a position of paramount authority in Manipur, with the power of life and death over all the people, and we are 633 told that the Agent of the Government of India is go to Manipur and hold an inquiry into his conduct. How could you hold such an inquiry, and, if you did, how could you get witnesses to tell the truth on one side or the other? Certainly, the only course that could be taken, if an inquiry was held, was the course which would he taken in any other case. If you inquire into the conduct of any officer, you begin by suspending him from his duties, and that would have been the only course to adopt in the Senapatti's case. Therefore, it seems to me that, although the policy under the circumstances of the case was exceedingly difficult to decide upon, and still more difficult for us at this distance, and not understanding all the circumstances of the case, to pronounce upon, yet we are able to say with confidence that the course adopted was alike honourable to the Government and honourable to this country. It was a policy which asserted the right of the Government of India, and, as I think the hon. Member for Evesham (Sir R. Temple) said, it was one likely to give confidence in the various Native States in India. The general effect, therefore, of that policy was good, and we see no reason whatever to question or disapprove of it. The hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) in his speech, raised two very important points. I am sorry to say I was not present when he made his speech, but, from what I hear, it must have been an exceedingly valuable contribution to this Debate. He suggested that instead of the existing Foreign Secretary, there should be a man in a high position and a member of the Council, who should act as adviser to the Viceroy on foreign questions. I think there is a great deal to be said for that suggestion. It is not one on which any action can now be taken, but it is deserving of consideration, and the hon. Member's reference to it makes it a subject which I think the Viceroy in Council ought carefully to consider. Then the hon. Member proposed that the policy of the Indian Government, in relation to the various dependent States, should be more carefully watched in this country. I very much doubt the wisdom of that policy. We have in this House so little knowledge of the relations of India with the various dependent States that I think that, except in exceptional cases, we should leave the 634 Government of India to deal with them, and not interfere with it unnecessarily. I say, therefore, in conclusion, that, as far as we can understand all the circumstances of this case, whilst we are aware that we cannot defend in every respect and on all details the conduct of every actor in this matter, we do not, on the other hand, desire at this moment to apportion any blame. We propose, at a later period, to issue a general review of the opinion entertained in this country of the policy adopted by the Government of India, and we undoubtedly propose also in that general review to address certain inquiries to India as to certain points on which further light may be necessary. But, taking it as a whole, we say the policy of the Viceroy, and the action founded upon that policy, deserve our confidence. We are prepared to give the Viceroy that confidence, and we have every reason to believe that his answer to our inquiries, based upon the further attention he will be able to give to all the facts of the case, will clear up a good many points which at present are obscured, and will prove that his policy, although unfortunate, and ending in a disaster which I do not for a moment attempt to depreciate, has been devised and carried out for the best interests of the Empire over which he rules.
§ (9.55.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I have trespassed so long already on the indulgence of the House that I shall be very brief in what I have to say. To a great degree the object of this Motion has been attained. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has stated that the Government in England, represented by the Secretary of State and the Cabinet, will review the whole of these transactions and pronounce their judgment upon them. That, I think, is a matter of the very first importance. I am very little solicitous to go into any controversial points now. I am thinking a great deal more of the effect which this discussion is to have in India, than of the effect, the temporary effect perhaps, on opinion here in England. This discussion, and the principles which have been enunciated in it, will have a permanent effect in India. I have, therefore, looked with great anxiety to the language and to the principles asserted from the Government Bench upon this subject. I was a little anxious at first when I heard the Secretary for 635 War speaking on the subject of durbar. I regard that as a matter of enormous importance to our relations to the Native Princes of India. I do not know what the precedents are to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, but I have had the opportunity, since this question has been before the English mind, of conversing with a great many persons of the highest experience. I have not met one who has not expressed their regret at, and condemnation of, these transactions, or rather intended transactions. There have been mentioned to-night similar instances on the rough and rude frontier superintended by Sir Robert Sandeman. Those are the only instances of such transactions that I have ever heard of. Though I cannot agree with the Secretary for War that the Viceroy's telegram, while assailing the legality generally, disapproved of its application in this instance. I am perfectly satisfied with the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman, that if the thing had been submitted to the Secretary of State in England, it would have been disapproved and discouraged, and I hope that will be a sentence which will prevent a recurrence of such a transaction in India for ever hereafter. So much as to the question of the durbar, which after all, is only a subsidiary one. Though I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman as to the policy adopted in regard to the Senapatti, I confess it seems to me an erroneous policy. I can quite conceive that there should be a great difference of opinion on the subject. I quite agree that you ought not to condemn a person in the situation of the Governor General of India on doubtful questions of policy upon which differences of opinion may be entertained; but there is a far graver matter which has taken place to-night, which makes it more essential than ever that the opinion of the English Government in its most solemn form should be expressed. That is, I am sorry to say, the necessity for condemning and repudiating the grounds upon which the Under Secretary has stated that the Senapatti should be removed. If these grounds are to be admitted, if they are to be acknowledged and adopted by the English Government, I see nothing but misfortune in the near future. The Member for North Kensington said that it was not because he was an able man, but because he was a man 636 of violent temper that he was condemned. That was not, unfortunately, the language that was held by the Under Secretary. Unfortunately, the words used by the Under Secretary are already in print, and to-morrow they will be known in every part of India. I could have understood the ground taken up, and, I suppose, was intended to be taken up, by the Government of India, although I call it an unfortunate ground—that the Senapatti's former character was bad. That was a ground on which I was sorry to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Southport speaking in the heated language which he used. That the Senapatti, tried according to the standard of English opinion, was not a man of admirable character, I am ready to admit; but the Government of India had for years permitted that man to occupy the highest position in the Government of Manipur. It was not the un authorised act of Mr. Grimwood, or of Mr. Quinton, to acknowledge the Senapatti. The Government of India had deliberately acknowledged him as Senapatti, that is, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army in Manipur, for years under the late Maharajah; and it is all too late in order to justify a policy of this kind to produce acts of former years, which they have condoned. But I pass to the reason given by the Under Secretary for India, in a tone which I confess I regret, for these imputations which fill up the latter part of the Blue Book, namely, that they had only been advanced by the Government of India, because it was only language like that used in political conflicts. The Government of India ought not regard itself as entering upon a political conflict with a man in the position of the Senapatti, and still less to launch at him, in these circumstances, charges founded in such a spirit. But a far graver thing was the language in which the Under Secretary justified the removal of the Senapatti. It was not because he was a violent man; it was not because he was a cruel man; it was because he was an able and an independent man.
§ *SIR J. GORST
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman would wish to misrepresent me. I have already interrupted a speaker on this point, to say that the ground for the Senapatti's removal was, as I stated, that he was a 637 man of a character dangerous to the peace of the Manipur State.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Yes, I agree; but what was the nature of the danger? The nature of the danger was the evidence of his ability and the independence of his character. What was that reference to the only safe principle which can be adopted in the Government of India? I do not know that he would want it to be applied to the Government of England also. But what was this panygeric upon mediocrity if it was not a censure, if it was not a satire, if it was not a sarcasm—yes, a sarcasm against ability and against independence. If the statement enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman is to go forth as the views of the English Government with reference to the administration of India, I think it is capable of and will result in most disastrous consequences. I spoke of the public opinion which is growing in India. It is growing under your civilisation, it is growing under that education which you have given to the Native races; and when you state in the seat of authority in England that a disability for that administration in India is to be found in the ability of the Native races, is to be found in their independence, and that the Government of India is to be likened to the policy of Tarquinius Superbus, it is high time that the Cabinet should consider their review of the transactions that they are about to make. The Government of India hove found three defenders to-night. First of all there was the Under Secretary, and he compares them to Tarquinius Superbus. He was followed by the Member for South port, and he likened the English Durbar to the policy of the Court of Louis XL of France; and then, as if these illustrations were not complete, there rises the Member for North Kensington, and says that the policy of Lord Lansdowne in India was that of Nebuchadnezzar towards Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Well may the Viceroy of India "Defend me from my friends." If you should have a joint defence offered from these Benches——
§ *SIR R. LETHBRIDGE
I am very unwilling to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I should like to say that Ireally never compared Lord Lansdowne's policy to that of Nebuchadnezzar. I simply used as an illustration of the kind 638 of durbar which I understand was to have been held at Manipur, the famous durbar of Nebuchadnezzar, who called together his captains and generals and bands of music, and arrested Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Precisely what I understood. In order to defend the policy of the durbar, the hon. Member for North Kensington, with his profound acquaintance with Indian customs, said that these were the Eastern habits and practices, and were exemplified in the conduct of Nebuchadnezzar in summoning Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to his durbar, and without notice seizing them. Now, that is the sort of line which was taken up. I think it unfortunate; and I desire that in this Debate there should go very different language to India. It is not by raking up precedents of ancient times, which no man approves, that we wish to see the British rule defended and sustained in Indian opinion. I hope that these views will not be adopted. I hope on the contrary we shall lead the Indian races to believe that we value ability, that we value independence in them. I do not myself see why, if the Senapatti was an able and an independent man when these revolutions took place, he should not have properly succeeded himself to the Throne. It has been explained by the Secretary for War that the Senapatti was removed as a danger and a cause of disturbance in Manipur; and he has said that you ought to rely upon the opinion of the people on the spot in judging of these matters. I am entirely in favour of relying upon the judgment of the people on the spot, but Mr. Grim-wood and Mr. Quinton said most distinctly that the Senapatti was a great security for the peace upon the spot. It is said, in the most express terms, in a passage which I have already quoted, but to which I will again refer—The Senapatti is his youngest brother. The present Government has now been in existence for nearly six months, and is conducted with tranquillity. It has shown itself in various ways amenable to the advice of the Political Agent, and has, as already reported, met the views of the Government of India with regard to the Manipur levy.That does not bear out the assertion of the Member for North Kensington that the Senapatti was an enemy of the British Government. He was nothing of the kind. He was ready to act in the 639 most perfect accord in support of the English power; and you have the testimony of men of experience on the spot that his rule and influence in Manipur had contributed to the strength of English authority and to the peace of the State of Manipur. Therefore, if it is to be put upon this ground that this man was a danger, except, perhaps, as Pretender to the Throne—which I do not deny—to the peace of the State in respect of his being adverse to English authority or creating disturbances in Manipur, that is absolutely contrary to all the evidence upon the face of it. Of course, if that danger is to be accepted, you will have in the native States no man of any ability, no man of independence. If their heads, according to the illustration of the Under Secretary, are to be cut off like the poppies of Tarquinius, then I say that that is a policy unworthy of the English nation, which will be ultimately fatal to the British rule. In my opinion you ought to take a policy exactly the opposite. If you find men of ability and independence who are ready to act with you, who are ready to support your power, you should gladly welcome and embrace them, instead of laying down what I will call a cowardly principle, a principle which has no reliance and no support in that which is best and most worthy in the peoples you govern. If you accept a principle of that kind you never can govern these great populations growing every day in intelligence and power, and you will weaken your policy in your Indian Empire. It is in my own opinion in embracing principles entirely the opposite that you must look forward to the strengthening and continuing of that Empire which is the chief glory of the British rule.
§ *(10.15.) SIR J. GORST
I hope the House will allow me a few words by way of personal explanation in consequence of what I consider the very unfair interpretation pat by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby upon some general observations in the course of my speech. If the matter concerned only myself, undoubtedly I would be content to leave it to the judgment of those who may read what I said, to see whether the words I used could fairly bear the construction put upon them by the right hon. Gentleman; but, inasmuch as I have been speaking 640 here as the Under Secretary of State for India, and inasmuch as the interpretation the right hon. Gentleman thought fit to put upon my words might do mischief in India—and I think the right hon. Gentleman himself said he thought it would do so—I should like expressly to deny that I ever asserted such a doctrine as that the Government of India, in dealing with the Native States, should act on the principle of suppressing ability and independence. What I said was, that the reason which justified the Government of India in removing the Senapatti, and which would justify the Government of India in removing any Native Prince, magnate, or official from any of the protected Native States, was not that the Senapatti was able and independent, but that he was a man who was prepared to act, and who did act, in defiance of the paramount Power. I particularly called attention to the fact that he effected a revolution without the leave of the paramount Power, that he put a Maharajah on the throne without consultation with the paramount Power, and I said, using almost the language of the Despatch from the Government of India, that such a state of things could not be endured, that it was necessary to show we were masters, and it was for that reason, and that reason only, that the expulsion of the Senapatti from Manipur was justified.
§ *(10.16.) MR. CREMER, (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
I have not the slightest desire to prolong the Debate which, on the whole, I think will be productive of excellent results, but I must say that the impression which the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary produced upon me was exactly of the character described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. I have, however, only risen to make an appeal to the Government to exercise the power and authority with which they are clothed, and to act in a spirit of clemency towards the Senapatti. He has been condemned to death by a tribunal concerning the composition of which I will not venture to express an opinion, but there are very grave doubts in the minds of many of our countrymen as to his guilt, or complicity in guilt. It is quite clear from the Debate—and the admissions by those who have defended the Government of India—that a series of grave blunders was com- 641 mitted by somebody; it is also clear, from a perusal of these Despatches, that the Senapatti was and had been anxious to act in a spirit of harmony with the British Government; besides, it is open to doubt whether actual hostilities were commenced by the troops under his command or by the British force. It is also manifest that the Senapatti knew of the intention to arrest and punish him, and that he naturally resisted. I am not much acquainted with the rules of warfare, and have no desire for such knowledge lent; but I think the Senapatti was perfectly justified by such rules in offering resistance to the attempt to capture him. It is admitted that there was an intention to capture him at the durbar in a treacherous manner, though I know that is not the view entertained by bon. Members opposite. There is, however, no proof that the Senapatti is a villian of the character depicted by the hon. Member for Southport; and as he acted practically in self-defence by resisting capture, I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to exercise their clemency, and to spare the life of the Senapatti, at least until a full inquiry has been instituted into all the circumstances of the case.
§ (10.20.) Question put, and agreed to.
That an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty praying that she will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House further correspondence relating to Manipur.