HL Deb 19 February 1858 vol 148 cc1723-9

said, their Lordships were aware that of late years considerable efforts had been made by the Government in India to extend education among the Natives. He believed there was reason to fear that these efforts Lad not been attended with the best results, and it was very desirable that they should know at least in what direction they went. It was manifest that they had produced a considerable impression on the minds of the Sepoys. It should be remembered that the Sepoys were not like the soldiers in this country, where they were usually unmarried men; on the contrary, it was part of their religion to marry, and their object in joining the army was to be able to send remittances to their families, and make provision for their children. Their desire also was to be able to retire and live with their families on a pension, instead of supporting them with the ordinary wages of labour. Altogether they were persons of domestic habits and feelings, and had occasional furloughs granted them to enable them to renew their connections. It was very desirable, therefore, we should know what the feelings of these people were with respect to the education we were establishing in India, and accordingly he had given notice of a Motion for the production of a Report which he understood had been written by Mr. Chapman, the Director of Public Instruction at Behar, for 1855–56. Though he had not read the Report, he had seen extracts from it, which he would take the liberty to read to the House. Mr. Chapman, in his first quarterly Report, said:— To the spread of education there are great obstacles in Behar, arising chiefly from the bigotry of the Mussulman moulavics and a general fear of proselytism, exasperated at the moment by the attempt to deprive gaol convicts of their lotahs. To deprive them of their lotahs would, no doubt, be felt as a great practical grievance, and he could well understand that it would give rise to a great deal of excitement among the Sepoys. In the next quarterly Report it was stated that "the religious suspicion of the people was still an impediment," and in the Report for the third quarter his words were:— He is able to confirm, from a strict observation, all that he has formerly asserted of the existence of a deep-rooted prejudice against the educational measures of the Government. The people are persuaded that their conversion is aimed at. They believe that the missionaries are in the pay of Government, and it is almost impossible to convince them of the contrary. Now, he had been informed, though he could hardly give credence to the statement, that there had been regularly given by the Government grants in aid of the missionary schools. Till he heard a formal intimation of that fact he was unwilling to make it the ground of any reflection upon the Government, for he could not believe it possible that they would act in a manner so inconsistent with their obligations, and so much opposed to the traditional wisdom and policy of all the greatest men who had governed that country. He would assume, therefore, that on this point his information was not correct, and that there had been no grants given in aid of the missionaries. Further, as he understood, the Report from which he had quoted had the following passage:— The consequence is, that when a command to send their children to school would be obeyed, if not with intelligent assent, at any rate as a decree of fate, our advice is despised and rarely followed. I therefore find it most effectual to take for my starting point, and to allow my subordinates to do the same, that it is the order of Government that people should now educate their children, and that the people ought to be satisfied that Government would not command that which is not good for them. Having laid down this principle, we then proceed to prove, by every argument at our command, that in so doing Government has no intention whatever to interfere with the religion of its subjects. This was the mode of proceeding which Mr. H. L. Reid had adopted in the Northwest Provinces. These were some of the passages contained in this Report, and he was desirous of seeing the whole of it. The Government no doubt had information of the proceedings adopted with reference to the schools. What they did was not done in a corner. The Reports made from time to time were forwarded to the Government, and the Government was therefore perfectly cognizant of what was going on. He had been favoured with an extract from the letter of an officer in the Bengal Army, in which there was the following passage with reference to the schools:— One of the chief causes of the outbreak was the system of education which had been of late introduced. Schools were raised in every village, and in every school religious books, Bibles, &c, in Hindostance, were introduced, although it was optional with pupils to read them or not. * * The whole country became alarmed at the innovation, and soon the mysterious chupatty was passed through the land, from Peshawur to Calcutta. He did not now press on their Lordships the importance of preventing the existence, among the Natives of India, of any apprehension that there was an intention on the part of the Government to depart from its old traditionary policy. He assumed that the Government practically intended to act on the ancient policy by which we acquired the country, and he should not, therefore, for the present question their intentions on that subject. He could only regret that over-zealous officers of the Government had brought on the Government a suspicion of having departed from the original understanding. He would move,—

That there be laid before this House, Copy of the General Reports on Public Instruction in the Lower Provinces of the Bengal Presidency for 1855–56.


was understood to say, that he agreed much in the opinion expressed by the noble Earl with regard to the importance of educating the Natives of India, and had felt the same interest that he had done in watching the insults of the measures which had been adopted for that purpose. With reference to the effects which education in India might have had upon the Sepoys, he could not imagine that there was any connection whatever between it and the recent mutiny, inasmuch as the Sepoys, or the great mass of them, were recruited from Oude, in which province the system of education had not yet penetrated in the slightest degree. The House was aware of what educational measures had been adopted in India, and he, for one, rejoiced that a large portion of their Lordships were of opinion that it was the duty, as it was the privilege, of the British Government to improve the education of the swarming population who were subject to this country in India. As far back as 1813, on occasion of a renewal of the Company's charter, it was recognized by the charter that it was the duty of the Government of India to endeavour to encourage learned Natives to introduce Western literature, and to impart that useful knowledge which would be most likely to establish the material welfare of the country, as well as to improve the moral character of the Natives themselves. It was ten years after that, however, before any effectual steps were taken to discharge that duty. The Committee of Education for India was then established, who proceeded to appoint able men to administer that department, and a grant of £10,000 was made. Great good was done by consolidating the public schools in the various districts, and their measures were generally productive of very useful results to the cause of education in India. It was thought by the Committee that it was the duty of Government to introduce Western knowledge into India, and the best way to introduce that knowledge was first to encourage a knowledge of the English language, which would enable learned Natives readily to master the literature of Western Europe; and that then, by encouraging the study of the vernacular languages, those learned Natives would be enabled to communicate that knowledge to the great mass of the country. Measures were accordingly taken to give effect to that suggestion; a considerable improvement took place, and the number of schools increased to a great degree. The matter was brought before the Committee of their Lordships' House in 1853. Those of their Lordships who attended that Committee, and those especially who heard the admirable evidence which was given by three or four witnesses on that occasion—Dr. Duff, Sir Charles Trevelyan, Mr. Martin, and Mr. Halliday—would remember the stress that was laid upon the desirability of extending the education of the people of India upon the principles laid down by the Committee on Education to which he had adverted. A remarkable despatch, founded on the Report of that Committee, was subsequently prepared by the Board of Control, concurred in by the Court of Directors, after being examined and commented upon by some of the principal authorities on the subject in this country, and sent out to India. That despatch, too, recognised that it was a public duty and a public advantage that the people of India should receive Western education, and adopted the principle that, if education were given, the best means of doing it was to extend the English language instead of the classical languages, and encourage the study of the vernacular tongues. For this purpose it also stated that—having due regard to the differences of religion in India—no better system could be adopted than that very system which had been found to work so well in this country amongst Christians of all denominations. That system was well known to their Lordships, and it was not necessary for him to describe it now. It chiefly consisted of giving assistance to schools of all denominations, by grants of money, by the proper training of schoolmasters, and by subjecting such schools to Government inspection, so as to take care that the public money was not thrown away. Now, in that despatch he believed there were not less than seven passages which lay down in the broadest manner possible the intention of the Government not to interfere in the slightest degree with the religious teaching in the schools in India, but to abstain entirely from interference with with that religious teaching. It recommended, in accordance with the evidence of the witnesses he had named, that an Indian University should be established, founded upon the model of the London University, as best adapted to the circumstances of that country; which University should receive scholars from all the different educational institutes of India, whether Christian, Hindoo, Mahomedan, Parsee, or Buddhist, or any other. In short, it was to be as open as possible. From the Report of the Inspectors of Instruction, dated December, 1856, it appeared that what had been done had, on the whole, turned out most satisfactory; and he had particular pleasure in observing that one of the principles laid down by the Government was, that it had been found better to rely upon the self-supporting principle as far as possible, and upon the schools already existing in a district, than to establish new schools to be wholly supported by the Government; and in many instances the founders of Native schools had come forward and placed their schools under the inspection of the Government with the greatest alacrity. Certainly, so far as the province of Behar was concerned, one circumstance is noted which is well worthy of our consideration. Mr. Chapman, the Inspector, states:—that there was a connection in the minds of the Natives between the spread of education and religious conversion. He (Earl Granville) could only say, however, that it was one of the curious problems attending the late mutiny which remained yet to be solved, how, if this feeling prevailed, the mutiny of the Sepoys was so little joined in by the Native population of the country. There was one passage in Mr. Chapman's Report to which the noble Earl had alluded, and from which it seemed as if the Inspector had not proceeded with his usual judgment. He must say that, in telling the Natives that it was the command of the Government that they should send their children to school he had acted indiscreetly, and in a manner that was entirely opposed to the letter and the spirit of his instructions. With regard to the effects that were likely to be produced by educating the people of India, he had heard it as an undoubted fact, from Calcutta, and equally from Bombay—from Calcutta, upon the authority of Mr. Halliday; from Bombay, upon the authority of a gentleman who had held one of the highest judicial positions there, and was constantly in correspondence with some of the most trustworthy persons at that Presidency—that, almost without an exception, those Natives who were connected with our places of education had remained faithful and loyal to the British Government; their superior intelligence and information giving them the belief that it was for their own interests, as well as for the interests of the country, that the British Government should for the future be the supreme Government of India. This was shown in a remarkable degree at Bombay, where he understood some of our troops had met with a most cordial reception, and been entertained at a public dinner by some of those very Natives. There was, however, one part of the education given to the Natives which our experience of the last year had unanimously condemned. He believed that it was not the time to give instruction in the scientific departments of war to those whom we found we could not always trust or depend upon. Up to the present time, this teaching had been carried to the highest degree, and he had been told by a gentleman of great professional reputation, who was at the siege of Delhi, that as regarded science and tactics, both in artillery and engineering, the Natives proved themselves equal, if not superior, to ourselves. He had also been informed that, with some remarkable exceptions, where the talent of the General had shone forth with conspicuous lustre, our successes were in general not so much owing to our superior science as to those moral qualities which no mere teaching could impart, and which were inherited by Englishmen through the blood they had derived from their ancestors, and their being brought up under Western civilization and free institutions; thus constituting them a race superior to the Natives with whom they had to deal. He did not believe that we could ever hope to raise the 180 millions of India to the exact point of civilization to which we ourselves had attained. All he could say was, that if ever such a result should be attained, it was clear that they must either have a large share in their own government or they would expel us from India altogether. At the same time he could not, for a reason of that sort, or from a mistaken notion that we could more easily govern them, admit that it was our duty studiously to keep them in ignorance. Every thinking man in the present day was of opinion, that our real object in our government of India must be to benefit the people governed, and that therefore we must do our best to elevate them in the scale of social and moral being. For those reasons he trusted that the existing system of education would be persevered in; although he entirely agreed with the noble Earl, that it must be carefully watched both in India and from home, so that the officers who were entrusted with the charge should in no respect go beyond the exact limits laid down for their guidance.

Motion agreed to.