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THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION TO INDIA.
A new era has dawned upon India; of a more dramatic close to the war the reign of VICTORIA BEATRIX has than that which is actually before commenced.
us. But we have long conceived it On the 1st of November 1858, to be an historical necessity that the solemn proclamation of the new Raj strife should die out, spluttering ; was made in all parts of India. that, indeed, there should be no Jehan Koompanee, or John Company, crowning catastrophe, no grand cliBehaudur, was declared to be dead max, nothing to afford an opportunity or deposed, and Victoria Padshah for a closing tableau with any startBegum sent to reign in his place. ling theatrical effects. The ProclamUp went the rockets, up went theation has been read ; Victoria reigns ; hats, and up went the shouts of the the message of peace has been deEuropeans; and down in reverential livered; but the mails from India salaams went the heads of the sub- still bring us tidings of war; and it ject races. Truly the cold season may be doubted whether the Prohad commenced most auspiciously, clamation will hasten its close by a or portentously. Victoria Vindex in single day. Proclamations, as Lord the field with Lord Clyde ; Victoria Canning has recently assured us, Beatrix in Secretary Beadon's port- have little effect upon the public folio : the message of peace floating mind. Between those who don't over the land, with awful commentary, understand and those who don't benow and then, of cannon and fusil- lieve them, the great mass of the lade. Rebellion not wholly trodden people is divided. Of course, it out-still only in its embers. New was necessary to proclaim the new inquietudes from strange quarters Raj; but it may be doubted whether blurring the fair prospect of return- the framers of the Proclamation ever ing peace : an epoch of contrarieties expected it to produce any effect and inconsistencies bewildering to upon those to whom it was ostensibly men's minds, as though the bayonet addressed. were affixed to the end of the olive But looking at this Imperial manibranch, and the roar of the 8-inch festo altogether from another point howitzer were the fittest language of of view, it is impossible not to regard love.
it as a highly important document. If we could have conceived the Virtually, we may conceive it to be possibility of such an imposing close addressed to the people of England. to the Sepoy war as that-dazzling It is an authoritative exposition of even to the obtusest imagination-of the future policy of the British Goan immense British army, forming a vernment towards the states and the wide extended circle, enclosing, as it people of India ; a solemn enunciawere, with a ring of fire, the revolted tion of the self-imposed obligations districts, and hemming in the few of the paramount State towards the remaining rebel-bands with certain subject country. It lays down the destruction; then, by the voice of its principles upon which the greatest of commander, sending forth, on a given the dependencies of England is henceday, a summons to all the rebel chiefs forth to be governed. Addressed to send their emissaries to his camp though it is to the people of India, it to hear the gracious message of peace, is a pledge given to the people of Engsent to them across the sea by the land that the dusky millions, who own Queen of Eugland; and then, the the sovereignty of the Queen of Engsummons obeyed, of the reading of land, will be ruled with righteousness the Proclamation at the headquar- and justice, with mercy and toleraters camp before all the wakeels of tion, befitting a Christian monarch. our former enemies, and of our native From that ever-to-be-remembered ist allies, amidst general demonstrations of November, a fresh start is taken; of joy and interchanges of friendship, a new career of empire is commenced. we might have deplored the absence The past is to be a rasa tabula. The
VOL. LXXXV.-NO. DXIX,
traditions of centuries are to be as The one defect of the Proclamation nothing. The Company is not. The lies in this ungrateful omission. ForQueen reigns; and how she intends getting what is left undone, we may to govern, we may learn from the applaud unstintingly what is done, Proclamation before us.
and not with less pleasure for the And yet it was barely gracious— feeling that the policy now enuncicertainly not at all graceful—to ig- ated in the name of the Queen of nore all that magnificent Past. True, England is substantially the policy the army of the East India Com- which the East India Company has pany, after a century of loyalty, had ever professed to maintain, and, but broken out into revolt. But it is the for ambitious home-bred statesmen, nature of Indian armies to break out doubtless would have maintained. into revolt—not once in a hundred If the Company, as its last solemn years, but many times in a hundred act, had put forth a declaration of years — not seldom thereby over- its policy, the principles declared turning great empires. Even over- would have been substantially the run as it was by blood-stained mu- same as those set forth in the Imtineers, India was a great gift to the perial manifesto. From first to last, Crown of England ; and something it is little more than the traditional might well have been said about the policy of the East India Company : merchant - princes who had reared the anti-annexation policy, which such an empire, not at much cost of drove Lord Wellesley mad the English blood, and at no cost at all neutrality policy, which grieved the of English treasure. Was not the spirit of Exeter Hall. The Company, East India Company-great in his- however, were always slow to make tory-worth a sentence of this roy- proclamation of their sentiments. al Proclamation? To issue such a They knew how the best intentions proclamation is a mighty privilege. may be falsified by adverse circumWhat monarch ever before issued stances, and they never had worldly such a proclamation to two hundred wisdom enough to make liberal use millions of foreign subjects, so many of platitudes. No great public body, thousand miles away from the seat indeed, ever did such manifest injusof the Imperial Government? And tice to itself by its reticence and refrom whom did the sovereign derive If the Company had been the power and the privilege to issue less regardless of public opinion, we such a proclamation, but from the should not now have the noble and merchant Company which is now ig- generous sentiments of the Queen's nored ? The Crown has dispossessed Proclamation contrasted with the the Company. For good or for evil, grovelling selfish policy of the dethe thing is done. Whatever we funct merchant rulers. We should may have thought, whatever we may not now hear the manifesto of the have said about that revolution 1st of November lauded as a branwhen it was only in progress, now new coinage from the Imperial mint. that it is a fait accompli, we shall But, at all events, whether the not bewail the Past, but hope for the metal be new metal, or only the old Future. Still we cannot speak of the re-stamped with the image and suinauguration of the new Raj without perscription of Victoria Beatrix, from a word of gratitude to the old. that memorable 1st of November we Whether the Company governed start afresh on a new career ; and it wisely or unwisely, may be a ques- is well that we should look serition for the solution of historians in ously at the pledges that have been future ages, as it is for pamphleteers given, at the obligations which have and journalists in the present. But been assumed, in the name of the it is a fact that, somebow or other, Queen, and on behalf of the people they achieved dominion over two of Great Britain. It would have hundred millions of Asiatics, and so been well, at all events, for the naplaced England in the foremost rank tional reputation, if, in past years, of the sovereignties of the earth. In England had from time to time taken whatsoever way the new Sirkar may stock of her duties towards India, govern, it was by the old one that and not waited to be aroused to the marvellous empire was won. sense of them by a terrifying
and stunning explosion. But now Cabinet considers it, the Crown conthat a new epoch has commenced, descends to it; new meanings are inand she finds herself brought face to troduced, or new words are made face with the people of India, the to represent old meanings; and when great veil of the Company being the patchwork is accomplished, it is altogether removed, we may expect impossible to say whose work it is, this Imperial indifference to be stimu- or who is really the fittest interprelated into something like curiosity, ter of its meaning. perhaps activity; and if the pro- And, after all, we do not know pensity to interfere be kept in abey- that this is much to be deplored. If ance, this awakening of national a proclamation is to be drawn up, or interest may have its uses. We have a despatch is to be written, it is often wondered whether, after all, necessary to find words at the outthe past indifference of England may set; meanings may be found afternot have resulted from her confidence wards. It is no contemptible part in the Company. Doubtless she had of statesmanship to be able successa prevailing sense that the Company fully spargere voces ambiguas, to emknew what they were about, and ploy words so wanting in sharpness might be intrusted to govern the and distinctness of outline, that you country after their own way. There may shade them off on one side or will be more uneasiness now, more the other into almost anything that vigilance, more inquiry, more criti- you like. It has been often said, cism, criticism, in the first instance, that no business is done so well as taking the shape of grave questions that which is left to do itself; and about the meaning of the Imperial no public document, perhaps, is better manifesto. “Wanted an interpre- explained than that which is left to ter.” Language was given to us for explain itself—not by words, but by the expression of our thoughts, but practical results. Much must necesstill more, it has been sarcastically sarily be left to the operation of Time said, for their concealment. It is an and the revolution of Circumstance; awkward question that you put to a much to the discretion of those upon man, when you ask him what is his whom devolves the duty of giving meaniny-awkward when only the practical exposition to the ambiguoperations of a single mind are to be ous words of the written document. traced, from the germ of the idea to Nothing in the world is so embarrassits verbal expression. But awkward ing as a definition-embarrassing to beyond measure, when Government, the individual, and often mischievous in its collective capacity, is called in the extreme to the community. upon to declare its meaning. Who Public men and public interests have knows? Who meant anything? Who ere now been sacrificed to a word. fathers the thought ? Who will be Clinging, for consistency's sake, to a sponsor for it? The actual pater- meaning not to be escaped or evaded, nity, in most cases, rests with some meu have gone wrong, in defiance of very able and efficient public ser- experience and regardless of results, vant, of whom no one out of his damaging themselves and injuring department ever hears, and who, after others; and at last "perishing in having made the reputation of half- their pride,” rather than retract a-dozen statesmen, quietly retires honestly an unlucky word, or confrom the scene into blankest oblivion. fess that they used it without thinkThen, perhaps, some under-secretary, ing of its meaning. “permanent” or 'parliamentary, We have written this wholly withgrafts upon this original stock an out design; but it is not altogether idea or two of his own; then the of the nature of a digression. We Secretary of State applies his re- do not know, indeed, any more fitsponsible pen to the document- ting introduction to a commentary diruit, ædificat, mutat—more or less; upon such a document as the great and then, in smaller matters, the Indian Proclamation of November business is complete. But, in more 1st, 1858-a document which, within momentous cases, when Parliament the space of a single page of this and the people are sure to sit in journal, sets forth the policy of her judgment upon the measure, the Majesty Queen Victoria, not only with reference to the present con- cleared away, without a word of honjuncture of affairs, but to the circum- ourable mention. stances of all time--the passing and The announcement of the act then the permanent—the particular and follows the announcement of the rethe general-policy of the Govern- solution. “We have taken upon ourment of Great Britain towards the selves the said government." And subject races of Hindostan. So few this done, all_her Majesty's subjects the words and so great the argu- within her Indian territories are ment! In so small a space it was called upon to be faithful to Queen not possible to set forth so wide a Victoria, to her heirs and successors, scheme of policy with any accom- and to submit themselves to the paniments of definition and explana- authority of those whom she may tion. So much the better. The least appoint to rule over them. said, the soonest mended. He is not "Having appointed her Viceroy, the the least wise statesman, who, in Queen confirms in their several offices such a case, mindful of the conflict all persons previously employed in of opinion on many of the great the service of the East India Comquestions to be glanced at, reverses pany, and accepts all the treaties or the aphorism of the Roman satirist, engagements made under the authoand takes for his motto, not Brevis rity of the said Company. In these esse laboro-Obscurus fio; but Brevis respects the Proclamation only folfio; Obscurus esse laboro. It is good lows the Act of Parliament under generalship to fight with one's words which India is now governed. But in front, and to keep one's meanings we come now to the pith and matin reserve.
row of the document, contained in But it is time that we cease from the next four clauses. The first of these prolegomena, and take up the these runs thus : “We desire no exproclamation itself. We purpose to tension of our present territorial consider seriatim the great questions possessions ; and while we will perwhich it involves—the great prin- mit no aggression upon our dominions ciples which it enunciates—with the or our rights to be attempted with practical solution and application impunity, we shall sanction no enof these questions and principles. croachment on those of others. We After the usual titular preamble, in shall respect the rights, dignity, and which, according to the copy of the honour of native princes as our own; Proclamation now before us, her and we desire that they, as well as Majesty announces herself as De- our own subjects, should enjoy that fender of the Faith of the United prosperity and that social advanceKingdom of Great Britain and Ire- ment which can only be secured land, and its several dependencies in by internal peace and good governEurope, Asia, Africa, America, and ment.” Of this it is impossible to Australasia, * Victoria Beatrix goes on speak otherwise than in words of to observe that, "whereas for divers highest commendation. But is it the weighty reasons, we have resolved, enunciation of any new policy-does by and with the advice and consentit in any way indicate the inauguraof the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, tion of a new era ? Is it, indeed, anyand Commons, in Parliament assem- thing more than the traditional policy bled, to take upon ourselves the of the East India Company? If at government of the territories in any time since the Company began India, heretofore administered for us to govern, it had been asked to dein trust by the Honourable East clare the principles upon which it India Company.” To that Company, regulated its conduct towards the naas we have already said, a just tri- tive states of India, it would have bute might have been paid. It ought enunciated its policy in language pronot to have been thus sarf-kard, or bably more emphatic than the above.
We use the text of the Friend of India—the only copies of the Proclamation, indeed, before the public, having been received from India. We assume their authenticity. In the copy before as the words are, “ VICTORIA, BY THE GRACE OF Gon, OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, AND OF THE COLONIES AND DEPENDENCIES THEREOF IN EUROPE, Asia, AFRICA AMERICA, AND AUSTRAL1!A, Queen, Defender of the Faith."
When the East India Company ex- rule of the paramount State has isted as a company of merchants, its hitherto been, it must be acknowcry ever was, not for territory, but ledged, somewhat arbitrary in this for trade. There was no crime which So also has it: been in respect a Governor-general could commit less of another very important “right": venial in its eyes than the extension what is called sometimes the right of empire. In later days, the acqui- (properly the rite) of adoption. There sition of new territory was either is perhaps no one single point on forced upon the Company by the ag- which there are greater varieties of gression of its neighbours, or assented opinion. Is this son-making-this to upon the recommendation of In- king-making-henceforth to be sufdian statesmen, when no principles fered without restriction? Doctors were to be violated, and no rights differ with respect to interpretations to be swept away by the act of an- of Hindoo and Mohammedan law. But nexation. The assent may, in some it is not very clear that when a knotty cases, have been too readily yield- question arises, the power of solution ed; but in no case was the usurpa- ought to be vested in an interested tion one which the Company might party, who may settle the matter to not have justified with reference bis own advantage. We have alto such a declaration of policy as ways ourselves felt disposed to accept that quoted above. "We admit,” the dictum of Lord Metcalfe, that the Company might have said, “no where the paramount State has itself aggression upon our dominions to be conferred, by an act of grace, the committed with impunity ; therefore sovereignty upon a native prince, we took the Punjab. We respect it may, in default of genuine heirthe rights, dignity, and honour of ship, resume the title and the terrinative princes as our own; but no tories it bestowed, but in no other native prince has a right to mis
That which it gave, it may govern and oppress his people ; and take away. But even under such he who does misgovern and oppress circumstances, though the right be has neither dignity nor honour; established, we confess that we would therefore we took Oude. We desire rather not see it exercised.
And we that the natives of the country should hope that among the rights which enjoy that prosperity and that social are henceforth to be respected, the advancement which can only be se- right of adoption will be one. Great cured by internal peace and good care, however, must be taken to government; therefore, again we guard against possible--we may say say, we took Oude, which, in the probable fraud. The adoption hands of its native princes, could must be clear and distinct-testified have enjoyed neither prosperity nor upon undoubted authority-during social advancement." Looking, there. the lifetime of the adopter, whilst fore, at the practice of the East India in the full possession of his faculties; Company, it is to be justified by a and so far as the fact can be ascerreference to the doctrines of the Pro- tained, it must be an act of unclamation; and as to its declared biassed will. There is often, on principles (whenever the Company the part of widows or interested has taken the trouble to declare state-servants, an attempt to make them at all), they have not been a out a case of constructive adoption tittle less pure or less elevated than after the death of the prince or those enunciated by the Crown. chief. Such, doubtless was attempt.
With the exception of one, on which ed by the Nagpore Ranees—a weak we shall presently comment, we do case altogether in the hands of the not know a word susceptible of greater grievance-monger; firstly, because latitude of interpretation than that there was no adoption during the word “Rights." We pledge ourselves lifetime of the Bonslah ; and, secondto respect the rights of the natively, because the defunct prince, on princes of India. But what are those whose behalf a post-mortem adoption rights ? Is
was attempted, was one of those who, “The right divine of kings to govern having derived their title and their wrong'
power from the British Government, henceforth to be one of them ? The had, according to the doctrine of