Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

separation of the brothers Lawrence, Sir Henry firmly refusing to support the anti-landlord policy of Sir John. It is sometimes argued that the British, having conquered the country, are bound to abolish whatever they find wrong and to substitute what appears to them right; but this argument, not in itself very strong, is completely disposed of when we consider the history of the British ascendency in India. The inhabitants of India have never been subdued, as was shown above ; indeed, much of the country is still under native rule ; and even where British influence directly prevails, the life of the people has continued very much what it always was.

If, now, it should be objected that to abandon Western ideals and leave Oriental notions and rules of conduct to hold their course would be to reverse the entire policy for which the Civil Service has so long laboured, those who accept our solution will not shrink from the corollary. A glance at the history of this famous administrative body will show that neither has it always been actuated by the same policy, nor existed under identical conditions.

That history, extending over about a period of a century and a half, may in fact be divided into three periods. From Clive to Wellesley the administration of Bengal had been, more or less, carried on by native instrumentality, supervised by European officers originally engaged for commercial ends, and anxious above all things to make money for themselves. When the salaries were raised and a higher standard of duty introduced, a great bureaucracy arose of which the best members, in conjunction with a few colleagues, nominally soldiers but practically not different from themselves, modelled and controlled the administration. Munro, Elphinstone, Malcolm, Metcalfe-to name only some of the best known-gave permanent distinction to all branches of Anglo-Indian politics, and acquired for themselves a reputation which often extended beyond Indian limits. The great achievements of this period may be said to have terminated with the annexation of the Punjaub; indeed, even before that event a considerable decline in the value of the official staff began to be observable. Without an invidious mention of names, it may be sufficient to note that from Bentinck onwards to the Mutiny a perfunctory and mechanical method of government had become almost universal, and the complete surprise of the events of 1857 is the best proof of the negligent and unintelligent manner in which affairs were conducted. Not only were the Members of Council and heads of departments in Calcutta unable to understand what was going on, but none of the divisional or district officers stationed in the provinces were able to give information on the subject. And so poor Lord Canning, unenlightened or misinformed, drifted into courses which would have ruined his reputation had he not proceeded to the scene of action as soon as it was possible and based his future action upon his own observation. The financial crisis which ensued was perhaps inevitable ; but the means employed to overcome that crisis partook of the old pedantry. Centralisation in its most rigid form continued supreme. An official was sent out from the Treasury to reorganise the finances, but his most important step was the introduction of a tax entirely unsuited to the manners and habits of the people. The income tax, however useful it may have proved in England, only produced in India a maximum of trouble with a minimum of return, espionage among neighbours was directly encouraged, and English methods were so closely copied that the notices of surcharge were headed “Sir or Madam,' in a country where no woman of respectability lives by herself or has independent means.

After the Mutiny and the extinction of the Company's authority the College of Haileybury was abolished, and the question of patronage once more appeared, as it had threatened to do forty-five years before ; but instead of Lord Grenville's plans of vesting the nominations in the head-masters of public schools, the Government of that day adopted the plan of throwing the service open to all young men who could give the best results in a competitive examination. Abstractedly considered, the plan seems hardly more rational than those adopted in Gilbert and Sullivan's musical dramas, and if it has worked as well as it has, such success can only be due to the character of middle-class English youths. A few candidates have from time to time been natives of India, many of whom have gained good places in the competition by means of precocious quickness and a retentive memory. But even these, by virtue of their training at an English University, have acquired European notions, and they have gone out to India prepared to emulate their European colleagues in the application of principles unsuited to the wants of their fellow-countrymen. Furthermore, the very admission of such men was but a hypocritical concession to the Royal Proclamation of 1858. The promise that there should be no distinction of creed or colour was fulfilled to the ear rather than to the hope. The result of this system has not been all that its supporters may have expected, and the unrest that India has been suffering from for some years cannot be attributed to any other source. The more enlightened the natives of India become the more they will resent what Mr. Morley has called 'the Fur Coat Policy.' Some practices and sentiments have, doubtless, found their way into popular life, but these have been due rather to the corruption of Hindu and Moslem principles and have been rectified with the complete approval of the leaders of the people. It is surely time that the Indian Government confined itself to the maintenance of peace and order, leaving the people to work out their own salvation on their own lines. A reaction in this direction is already observable, and the following report taken from the Morning Post of the 11th of March 1908 will show how far the feelings of both parties have travelled since the year 1833 : :

EDUCATION IN INDIA.

Calcutta : March 10. The Maharaja of Darbhanga, accompanied by a deputation of the Hindu Religious Society, to-day presented to the Viceroy on behalf of that body an address, the signatures to which were representative of the States of Kishangarh, Saitana, Rewah, Kashmir, Oubha, and Alwar, the three great shrines of Puri, Gaya, and Madras, and many leading cities. The address stated that the society was a purely religious and non-political one, and emphasised the loyalty of the signatories to the Throne. Their main object was to secure the imparting of religious with secular education.

The Earl of Minto, in his reply, sincerely welcomed the distinguished deputation. He said that in spite of the fact that they had passed through troublous times the Government had good reason to recognise the loyal support which the orthoc ox Hindu community represented. Education was the greatest problem in Indi , to-day, and upon its solution the future of the country largely depended. The qu »stion how to minister to the burning thirst for knowledge rested largely with such societies as that represented before him. Neutrality in religious questions must always remain an axiom of British rule. After advocating denominational hostels in connexion with colleges and schools, Lord Minto urged the society to obtain a hold over parents in their homes and to insist on their instilling into their children those principles of loyalty and religion which they advocated. In conclusion the Viceroy expressed complete sympathy with the aims of the society.-REUTER.

The contrast between this sympathetic attitude and the scornfuł repudiation of seventy-five years earlier justifies the hope that the balance is at last turning. In all parts of India which preserve their ancient civilisation Western self-sufficiency is not to prevail, but in those parts where no civilisation at present exists the case must greatly differ.

All Anglo-Indian history shows that there have been primitive races in almost inaccessible jungles and wild tribes on the northern frontier amongst whom the fundamental necessity is the enforcement of such order and decorum as are necessary for the safety and welfare of the more orderly populations upon whom they border. For the due management of such cases a sort of rough-and-ready administration has always been found necessary, and it has been best carried out by officers accustomed to military discipline. Classes of this sort must therefore be exempted from the principles which we have here sought to lay down. It is an old saying amongst the Irish that every herring must hang by its own tail ; and the British Empire will be strong and prosperous in proportion as the administration of each part is in the truest harmony with the evolution of its inhabitants.

Should it be objected that the introduction of Oriental principles into Indian administration might be injurious to Imperial interests, it seems sufficient to answer that this could not take place so long as there was no extension in the powers of the Legislative Council. The constitution of British India does not resemble the parliamentary

VOL. LXIII–No. 376

3 Y

system which has obtained at home since the establishment of the Hanoverian dynasty, and the powers of the supreme Government are sufficient to secure the independence of the executive administration.

It is not the object of the writer to lay down in detail how the occidentalising tendency in modern India is to be arrested; it will be enough if he has indicated some of the dangers. One crucial illustration must be pretty obvious : the extremists of Young Bengal demand that India should have the status of a self-governing colony. They cannot be aware of the grave peril which is involved in such & false analogy. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are virtually independent nations of one creed and colour, attached to the Empire by ties which are hardly more than sentimental; for external defence, no less than for internal administration, they have to make their own provision. What would be the result if a similar degree of indepen. dence were enjoyed by India ? Occupied by scores of discordant races, and exposed to the designs of rapacious neighbours, they would be compelled to raise an enormous revenue for the maintenance of domestic tranquillity and for national defence. The Imperial Government, losing its interest in the country, would be unwilling to make adequate exertions for the protection of India, and it might even become a question whether, in such altered circumstances, it would be worth while to do so; but so long as the guardianship of Britain holds good so long she must continue to perform her task to the best of her moral and material resources.

H. G. KEENE.

1908

EQUALITY AND ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

The demand for religious equality in elementary schools has lately been pressed with new seriousness. It is not likely again to be passed by unnoticed. Those who oppose it have themselves contributed to this change of attitude. From treating it as an amiable but impracticable dream they have passed to attacking it as the most dangerous obstacle to that educational peace which all except a few fanatics earnestly desire. It is strange to find religious equality refused by a Liberal Government in deference to the supposed 'will of a Liberal majority. It is stranger to see Nonconformists demanding a fresh recognition of the principle of a State religion, and proposing to set up what is virtually a new Establishment differing from the existing Establishment only in the fact that its seat is the school instead of the Church, and its members the children instead of the parents. It is strangest of all that among those who ask that something less than equality shall be meted out to the Church of England are a majority of the bishops, a large number of the clergy, and the greater part of the Anglican laity, including many who are closely associated with 'Church Defence.' The Church of the nation, it is argued, must care for the children of the nation. Consequently, when the nation has shown that it does not want its children to be cared for in this way, the Church must change her methods. As she can no longer teach everybody her own creed, she must aim at teaching everybody something else. I am tempted to wonder why those who thus reason do not carry their capitulation further and apply the same principle to the churches and the services. It is quite true that as regards the children the nation is undenominational. But the nation is equally undenominational as regards the parents. It dislikes definite ideas in religion ; consequently it objects to creeds. It prefers something to which everyone can attach a meaning of his own; consequently it welcomes Simple Bible Teaching. It finds its ideal in a system which leaves some hundreds of thousands of teachers free to treat the most difficult book in the world as a sort of theological lucky bag into which everybody may dip and expound what he thinks he has found there. It is obvious that our present ecclesiastical system is very imperfectly adapted to this state of mind. What is wanted is a religion calling itself Christian,

1081

3 y 2

« AnteriorContinua »