What is it we have to complain of in India? What is it that the people of India, if they spoke by my mouth, have to complain of? They would tell the House that, as a rule, throughout almost all the Presidencies, and throughout those Presidencies most which have been longest under British rule, the cultivators of the soil, the great body of the population of India, are in a condition of great impoverishment, of great dejection, and of great suffering. I have, on former occasions, quoted to the House the report of a Committee which I obtained ten years ago, upon which sat several members of the Court of Directors; and they all agreed to report as much as I have now stated to the House—the Report being confined chiefly to the Presidencies of Bombay and Madras. If I were now submitting the case of the population of India I would say that the taxes of India are more onerous and oppressive than the taxes of any other country in the world. I think I could demonstrate that proposition to the House. I would show that industry is neglected by the Government to a greater extent probably than is the case in any other country in the world which has been for any length of time under what is termed a civilized and Christian government. I should be able to show from the notes and memoranda of eminent men in India, of the Governor of Bengal, Mr. Halliday, for example, that there is not and never has been in any country pretending to be civilized, a condition of things to be compared with that which exists under the police administration of the province of Bengal. With regard to the courts of justice I may say the same thing. I could quote passages from books written in favour of the Company with all the bias which the strongest friends of the Company can have, in which the writers declare that, precisely in proportion as English courts of justice have extended, have perjury and all the evils which perjury introduces into the administration of justice prevailed throughout the Presidencies of India. With regard to public works, if I were speaking for the Natives of India, I would state this fact, that in a single English county there are more roads—more travelable roads— than are to be found in the whole of India; and I would say also that the single city of Manchester, in the supply of its inhabitants with the single article of water, has spent a larger sum of money than the East India Company has spent in the fourteen years from 1834 to 1848 in public works of every kind throughout the whole of its vast dominions. I would say that the real activity of the Indian Government has been an activity of conquest and annexation—of conquest and annexation which after a time has led to a fearful catastrophe which has enforced on the House an attention to the question of India, which but for that catastrophe I fear the House would not have given it.
If there were another charge to be made against the past Government of India, it would be with regard to the state of its finances. Where was there a bad Government whose finances were in good order? Where was there a really good Government whose finances were in bad order? Is there a better test in the long run of the condition of a people and the merits of a Government than the state of the finances? And yet not in our own time, but going back through all the pages of Mill or of any other History of India we find the normal condition of the finances of India has been that of deficit and bankruptcy. I maintain that if that be so, the Government is a bad Government. It has cost more to govern India than the Government has been able to extract from the population of India. The Government has not been scrupulous as to the amount of taxes or the mode in which they have been levied; but still, to carry on the government of India according to the system which has heretofore prevailed, more has been required than the Government has been able to extract by any system of taxation known to them from the population over which they have ruled. It has cost more than 30,000,000l. a-year to govern India, and the gross revenue being somewhere about 30,000,000l., and there being a deficit, the deficit has had to be made up by loans. The Government has obtained all they could from the population; it is not enough, and they have had to borrow from the population and from Europeans at a high rate of interest to make up the sum which has been found to be necessary. They have a debt of 60,000,000l.; and it is continually increasing; they always have a loan open; and while their debt is increasing their credit has been falling, because they have not treated their creditors very honourably on one or two occasions, and chiefly, of course, on account of the calamities which have recently happened in India. There is one point with regard to taxation which I wish to explain to the House, and I hope that, in the reforms to which the noble Lord is looking forward, it will not be overlooked. I have said that the gross revenue is 30,000,000l. Exclusive of the opium revenue, which is not, strictly speaking, and hardly at all, a tax upon the people, I set down the taxation of the country at something like 25,000,000l. Hon. Gentlemen must not compare 25,000,000l. of taxation in India with 60,000,000l. of taxation in England. They must bear in mind that in India they could have twelve days' labour of a man for the same sum in silver or gold which they have to pay for one day's labour of a man in England; that if, for example, this l.25,000,000 were expended in purchasing labour, that sum would purchase twelve times as much in India as in England—that is to say, that the 25,000,000l. would purchase as many days' labour in India as 300,000,000l. would purchase in England. [An Hon. Member: 'How much is the labour worth?'] That is precisely what I am coming to. If the labour of a man is only worth 2d. a-day, they could not expect as much revenue from him as if it were 2s. a-day. That is just the point to which I wish the hon. Gentleman would turn his attention. We have in England a population which, for the sake of argument, I will call 30,000,000. We have in India a population of 150,000,000. Therefore, the population of India is five times as great as the population of England. We raise in India, reckoning by the value of labour, taxation equivalent to 300,000,000l., which is five times the English revenue. Some one may probably say, therefore, that the taxation in India and in England appears to be about the same, and no great injury is done. But it must be borne in mind that in England we have an incalculable power of steam, of machinery, of modes of transit, roads, canals, railways, and everything which capital and human invention can bring to help the industry of the people; while in India there is nothing of the kind. In India there is scarcely a decent road, the rivers are not bridged, there are comparatively no steam engines, and none of those aids to industry that meet us at every step in Great Britain and Ireland. Suppose steam- engines, machinery, and modes of transit abolished in England, how much revenue would the Chancellor of the Exchequer obtain from the people of England? Instead of 60,000,000l. a-year, would he get 10,000,000l.? I doubt it very much. If the House will follow out the argument, they will come to the conclusion that the taxes of the people of India are oppressive to the last degree, and that the Government which has thus taxed them can be tolerated no longer, and must be put an end to at once and for ever. I wish to say something about the manner in which these great expenses are incurred. The extravagance of the East India Government is notorious to all. I believe there never was any other service under the sun paid at so high a rate as the exclusive Civil Service of the East India Company. Clergymen and missionaries can be got to go out to India for a moderate sum—private soldiers and officers of the army go out for a moderate remuneration— merchants are content to live in the cities of India for a percentage or profit not greatly exceeding the ordinary profits of commerce. But the Civil Service, because it is bound up with those who were raised by it and who dispense the patronage of India, receive a rate of payment which would be incredible if we did not know it to be true, and which, knowing it to be true, we must admit to be monstrous. The East India Government scatters salaries about at Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Agra, Lahore, and half a dozen other cities, which are up to the mark of those of the Prime Minister and Secretaries of State in this country. These salaries are framed upon the theory that India is a mine of inexhaustible wealth, although no one has found it to be so but the members of the Civil Service of the East India Company. The policy of the Government is at the bottom of the constant deficit. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has twice recently declared that expenditure depends upon policy. That is as true in India as in England, and it is the policy that has been pursued there which renders the revenue liable to this constantly recurring deficit.
I have come to the conclusion, which many hon. Members probably share with me, that the edifice we have reared in India is too vast. There are few men now, and least of all those connected with the East India Company, who, looking back to the policy that has been pursued, will not be willing to admit that it has not been judicious but hazardous—that territories have been annexed that had better have been left independent, and that wars have been undertaken which were as needless as they were altogether unjustifiable. The immense empire that has been conquered is too vast for management, its base is in decay, and during the last twelve months it has appeared to be tottering to its fall. Who or what is the instrument—the Cabinet, the Government, or the person— by whom this evil policy is carried on?
The greatest officer in India is the Governor-General. He is the ruler of about one-fifth—certainly more than one-sixth—of the human race. The Emperors of France and Russia are but the governors of provinces compared with the power, the dignity, and the high estate of the Governor-General of India. Now, over this officer, almost no real control is exercised. If I were to appeal to the two hon. Gentlemen who have frequently addressed the House during these debates (Colonel Sykes and Mr. Willoughby), they would probably admit that the Governor-General of India is an officer of such high position that scarcely any control can be exercised over him either in India or in England. Take the case of the Marquess of Dalhousie for example. I am not about to make an attack upon him, for the occasion is too solemn for personal controversies. But the annexation of Sattara, of the Punjab, of Nagpore, and of Oude occurred under his rule. I will not go into the case of Sattara; but one of its Princes, and one of the most magnanimous Princes that India ever produced, suffered and died most unjustly in exile, either through the mistakes or the crimes of the Government of India. This, however, was not done under the Government of Lord Dalhousie. As to the annexation of Nagpore, the House has never heard anything about it to this hour. There has been no message from the Crown or statement of the Government relative to that annexation. Hon. Members have indeed heard from India that the dresses and wardrobes of the ladies of its Court have been exposed to sale, like a bankrupt's stock, in the haberdashers' shops of Calcutta—a thing likely to incense and horrify the people of India who witnessed it.
Take, again, the case of the Burmese war. The Governor-General entered into it, and annexed the province of Pegu, and to this day there has been no treaty with the King of Burmah. If that case had been brought before the House, it is impossible that the war with Burmah could have been entered upon. I do not believe that there is one man in England who, knowing the facts, would say that this war was just or necessary in any sense. The Governor-General has an army of 300,000 men under his command; he is a long way from home; he is highly connected with the governing classes at home; there are certain reasons that make war palatable to large classes in India; and he is so powerful that he enters into these great military operations almost uncontrolled by the opinion of the Parliament and people of England. He may commit any amount of blunders or crimes against the moral law, and he will still come home loaded with dignities and in the enjoyment of pensions. Does it not become the power and character of this House to examine narrowly the origin of the misfortunes and disgraces of the grave catastrophe which has just occurred? The place of the Governor-General is too high— his power is too great—and I believe that this particular office and officer are very much responsible—of course under the Government at home—for the disasters that have taken place.
Only think of a Governor-General of India writing to an Indian Prince, the ruler over many millions of men in the heart of India, 'Remember you are but as the dust under my feet' Passages like these are left out of despatches, when laid on the table of the House of Commons:—it would not do for the Parliament or the Crown, or the people of England to know that their officer addressed language like this to a Native Prince. The fact is that a Governor-General of India, unless he be such a man as is not found more than once in a century, is very liable to have his head turned, and to form ambitious views, which are mainly to be gratified by successful wars and the annexation of province after province during the period of his rule. The 'Services' are always ready to help him in these plans. I am not sure that the President of the Board of Control could not give evidence on this subject, for I have heard something of what happened when the noble Lord was in India. When the Burmese war broke out, the noble Lord could no doubt tell the House that, without inquiring into the quarrel or its causes, the press of India, which was devoted to the 'Services', and the 'Services' themselves, united in universal approbation of the course taken by the Governor-General. Justice to Pegu and Burmah and the taxes to be raised for the support of the war were forgotten, and nothing but visions of more territory and more patronage floated before the eyes of the official English in India. I contend that the power of the Governor-General is too great and the office too high to be held by the subject of any power whatsoever, and especially by any subject of the Queen of England.
I should propose, if I were in a position to offer a scheme in the shape of a Bill to the House, as an indispensable preliminary to the wise government of India in future, such as would be creditable to Parliament and advantageous to the people of India, that the office of Governor- General should be abolished. Perhaps some hon. Gentlemen may think this a very unreasonable proposition. Many people thought it unreasonable in 1853 when it was proposed to abolish the East India Company; but now Parliament and the country believe it to be highly reasonable and proper; and I am not sure that I could not bring before the House reasons to convince them that the abolition of the office of Governor- General is one of the most sensible and one of the most Conservative proposals ever brought forward in connection with the Government of India. I believe the duties of the Governor-General are far greater than any human being can adequately fulfil. He has a power omnipotent to crush anything that is good. If he so wishes, he can overbear and overrule whatever is proposed for the welfare of India, while, as to doing anything that is good, I could show that with regard to the vast countries over which he rules, he is really almost powerless to effect anything that those countries require. The hon. Gentleman behind me (Colonel Sykes) has told us there are twenty nations in India, and that there are twenty languages. Has it ever happened before that any one man governed twenty nations, speaking twenty different languages, and bound them together in one great and compact empire? [An hon. Member here made an observation.] My hon. Friend mentions a great Parthian monarch. No doubt there have been men strong in arm and in head, and of stern resolution, who have kept great empires together during their lives; but as soon as they went the way of all flesh, and descended, like the meanest of their subjects, to the tomb, the provinces they had ruled were divided into several States, and their great empires vanished. I might ask the noble Lord below me (Lord John Russell) and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn has not as yet experience on this point), whether, when they came to appoint a Governor-General of India, they did not find it one of the most serious and difficult duties they could be called on to perform? I do not know at this moment, and I never have known, a man competent to govern India; and if any man says he is competent, he sets himself up at a much higher value than those who are acquainted with him are likely to set him. Let the House look at the making of the laws for twenty nations speaking twenty languages. Look at the regulations of the police for twenty nations speaking twenty languages. Look at the question of public works as it affects twenty nations speaking twenty languages; where there is no municipal power and no combinations of any kind, such as facilitate the construction of public works in this country. Inevitably all those duties that devolve on every good government must be neglected by the Governor-General of India, however wise, capable, and honest he may be in the performance of his duties, because the duties laid upon him are such as no man now living or who ever lived can or could properly sustain.
It may be asked what I would substitute for the Governor-Generalship of India. Now, I do not propose to abolish the office of Governor-General of India this Session. I am not proposing any clause in the Bill, and if I were to propose one to carry out the idea I have expressed, I might be answered by the argument, that a great part of the population of India is in a state of anarchy, and that it would be most inconvenient, if not dangerous, to abolish the office of Governor-General at such a time. I do not mean to propose such a thing now; but I take this opportunity of stating my views, in the hope that when we come to 1863, we may perhaps be able to consider the question more in the light in which I am endeavouring to present it to the House. I would propose that, instead of having a Governor-General and an Indian empire, we should have neither the one nor the other. I would propose that we should have Presidencies, and not an Empire. If I were a Minister—which the House will admit is a bold figure of speech—and if the House were to agree with me—which is also an essential point—I would propose to have at least five Presidencies in India, and I would have the governments of those Presidencies perfectly equal in rank and in salary. The capitals of those Presidencies would probably be Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Agra, and Lahore. I will take the Presidency of Madras as an illustration. Madras has a population of some 20,000,000. We all know its position on the map, and that it has the advantage of being more compact, geographically speaking, than the other Presidencies. It has a Governor and a Council. I would give to it a Governor and a Council still, but would confine all their duties to the Presidency of Madras, and I would treat it just as if Madras was the only portion of India connected with this country. I would have its finance, its taxation, its justice, and its police departments, as well as its public works and military departments, precisely the same as if it were a State having no connection with any other part of India, and recognized only as a dependency of this country. I would propose that the Government of every Presidency should correspond with the Secretary for India in England, and that there should be telegraphic communications between all the Presidencies in India, as I hope before long to see a telegraphic communication between the office of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) and every Presidency over which he presides. I shall no doubt be told that there are insuperable difficulties in the way of such an arrangement, and I shall be sure to hear of the military difficulty. Now, I do not profess to be an authority on military affairs, but I know that military men often make great mistakes. I would have the army divided, each Presidency having its own army, just as now, care being taken to have them kept distinct; and I see no danger of any confusion or misunderstanding, when an emergency arose, in having them all brought together to carry out the views of the Government. There is one question which it is important to bear in mind, and that is with regard to the Councils in India. I think every Governor of a Presidency should have an assistant Council, but differently constituted from what they now are. I would have an open Council. The noble Lord the Member for London used some expressions the other night which I interpreted to mean that it was necessary to maintain in all its exclusiveness the system of the Civil Service in India. In that I entirely differ from the noble Lord. [Lord J. Russell here indicated dissent.] The noble Lord corrects me in that statement, and therefore I must have been mistaken. What we want is to make the Governments of the Presidencies governments for the people of the Presidencies; not governments for the civil servants of the Crown, but for the non-official mercantile classes from England who settle there, and for the 20,000,000 or 30,000,000 of Natives in each Presidency.
I should propose to do that which has been done with great advantage in Ceylon. I have received a letter from an officer who has been in the service of the East India Company, and who told me a fact which has gratified me very much. He says—
'At a public dinner at Colombo, in 1835, to the Governor, Sir Wilmot Horton, at which I was present, the best speech of the evening was made by a native nobleman of Candy, and a member of Council. It was remarkable for its appropriate expression, its sound sense, and the deliberation and ease that marked the utterance of his feelings. There was no repetition or useless phraseology or flattery, and it was admitted by all who heard him to be the soundest and neatest speech of the night.'
This was in Ceylon. It is not, of course, always the best man who can make the best speech; but if what I have read could be said of a native of Ceylon, it could be said of thousands in India. We need not go beyond the walls of this House to find a head bronzed by an Indian sun equal to the ablest heads of those who adorn its benches. And in every part of India we all know that it would be an insult to the people of India to say that it is not the same. There are thousands of persons in India who are competent to take any position to which the Government may choose to advance them. If the Governor of each Presidency were to have in his Council some of the officials of his Government, some of the non- official Europeans resident in the Presidency, and two or three at least of the intelligent Natives of the Presidency in whom the people would have some confidence, you would have begun that which will be of inestimable value hereafter—you would have begun to unite the government with the governed; and unless you do that, no government will be safe, and any hurricane may overturn it or throw it into confusion.
Now, suppose the Governor-General gone, the Presidencies established, the Governors equal in rank and dignity, and their Councils constituted in the manner I have indicated, is it not reasonable to suppose that the delay which has hitherto been one of the greatest curses of your Indian Government would be almost altogether avoided? Instead of a Governor- General living in Calcutta, or at Simla, never travelling over the whole of the country, and knowing very little about it, and that little only through other official eyes, is it not reasonable to suppose that the action of the Government would be more direct in all its duties and in every department of its service than has been the case under the system which has existed until now? Your administration of the law, marked by so much disgrace, could never have lasted so long as it has done if the Governors of your Presidencies had been independent Governors. So with regard to matters of police, education, public works, and everything that can stimulate industry, and so with regard to your system of taxation. You would have in every Presidency a constant rivalry for good. The Governor of Madras, when his term of office expired, would be delighted to show that the people of that Presidency were contented, that the whole Presidency was advancing in civilization, that roads and all manner of useful public works were extending, that industry was becoming more and more a habit of the people, and that the exports and imports were constantly increasing. The Governors of Bombay and the rest of the Presidencies would be animated by the same spirit, and so you would have all over India, as I have said, a rivalry for good; you would have placed a check on that malignant spirit of ambition which has worked so much evil—you would have no Governor so great that you could not control him, none who might make war when he pleased; war and annexation would be greatly checked, if not entirely prevented; and I do in my conscience believe you would have laid the foundation for a better and more permanent form of government for India than has ever obtained since it came under the rule of England.
But how long does England propose to govern India? Nobody answers that question, and nobody can answer it. Be it 50, or 100, or 500 years, does any man with the smallest glimmering of common sense believe that so great a country, with its twenty different nations and its twenty languages, can ever be bound up and consolidated into one compact and enduring empire? I believe such a thing to be utterly impossible. We must fail in the attempt if ever we make it, and we are bound to look into the future with reference to that point. The Presidency of Madras, for instance, having its own Government, would in fifty years become one compact State, and every part of the Presidency would look to the city of Madras as its capital, and to the Government of Madras as its ruling power. If that were to go on for a century or more, there would be five or six Presidencies of India built up into so many compact States; and if at any future period the sovereignty of England should be withdrawn, we should leave so many Presidencies built up and firmly compacted together, each able to support its own independence and its own Government; and we should be able to say we had not left the country a prey to that anarchy and discord which I believe to be inevitable if we insist on holding those vast territories with the idea of building them up into one great empire. But I am obliged to admit that mere machinery is not sufficient in this case, either with respect to my own scheme or to that of the noble lord (Lord Stanley). We want something else than mere clerks, stationery, despatches, and so forth. We want what I shall designate as a new feeling in England, and an entirely new policy in India. We must in future have India governed, not for a handful of Englishmen, not for that Civil Service whose praises are so constantly sounded in this House. You may govern India, if you like, for the good of England, but the good of England must come through the channels of the good of India. There are but two modes of gaining anything by our connection with India. The one is by plundering the people of India, and the other by trading with them. I prefer to do it by trading with them. But in order that England may become rich by trading with India, India itself must become rich, and India can only become rich through the honest administration of justice and through entire security of life and property.
Now, as to this new policy, I will tell the House what I think the Prime Minister should do. He ought, I think, always to choose for his President of the Board of Control or his Secretary of State for India, a man who cannot be excelled by any other man in his Cabinet, or in his party, for capacity, for honesty, for attention to his duties, and for knowledge adapted to the particular office to which he is appointed. If any Prime Minister appoint an inefficient man to such an office, he will be a traitor to the Throne of England. That officer, appointed for the qualities I have just indicated, should, with equal scrupulousness and conscientiousness, make the appointments, whether of the Governor- General, or (should that office be abolished) of the Governors of the Presidencies of India. Those appointments should not be rewards for old men simply because such men have done good service when in their prime, nor should they be rewards for mere party service, but they should be appointments given under a feeling that interests of the very highest moment, connected with this country, depend on those great offices in India being properly filled. The same principles should run throughout the whole system of government; for, unless there be a very high degree of virtue in all these appointments, and unless our great object be to govern India well and to exalt the name of England in the eyes of the whole Native population, all that we have recourse to in the way of machinery will be of very little use indeed.
I admit that this is a great work; I admit, also, that the further I go into the consideration of this question, the more I feel that it is too large for me to grapple with, and that every step we take in it should be taken as if we were men walking in the dark. We have, however, certain great principles to guide us, and by their light we may make steps in advance, if not fast, at any rate sure. But we start from an unfortunate position. We start from a platform of conquest by force of arms extending over a hundred years. There is nothing in the world worse than the sort of foundation from which we start. The greatest genius who has shed lustre on the literature of this country has said, 'There is no sure foundation set on blood;' and it may be our unhappy fate, in regard to India, to demonstrate the truth of that saying. We are always subjugators, and we must be viewed with hatred and suspicion. I say we must look at the thing as it is, if we are to see our exact position, what our duty is, and what chance there is of our retaining India and of governing it for the advantage of its people. Our difficulties have been enormously increased by the revolt. The people of India have only seen England in its worst form in that country. They have seen it in its military power, its exclusive Civil Service, and in the supremacy of a handful of foreigners. When Natives of India come to this country, they are delighted with England and with Englishmen. They find themselves treated with a kindness, a consideration, a respect, to which they were wholly strangers in their own country; and they cannot understand how it is that men who are so just, so attentive to them here, sometimes, indeed too often, appear to them in a different character in India. I remember that the Hon. Frederic Shaw, who wrote some thirty years since, stated, in his able and instructive book, that even in his time the conduct of the English in India towards the Natives was less agreeable, less kindly, less just than it had been in former years; and in 1853, before the Committee presided over by the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring), evidence was given that the feeling between the rulers and the ruled in India was becoming every year less like what could be desired. It was only the other day there appeared in a letter of The Times' correspondent an anecdote which illustrates what I am saying, and which I feel it necessary to read to the House. Mr. Russell, of The Times, says:—
'I went off to breakfast in a small mosque, which has been turned into a salle a manger by some officers stationed here, and I confess I should have eaten with more satisfaction had I not seen, as I entered the enclosure of the mosque, a native badly wounded on a charpoy, by which was sitting a woman in deep affliction. The explanation given of this scene was, that "—— [the name of the Englishman was left blank] had been licking two of his bearers (or servants), and had nearly murdered them." This was one of the servants, and, without knowing or caring to know the causes of such chastisement, I cannot but express my disgust at the severity—to call it by no harsher name—of some of our fellow-countrymen towards their domestics.'
The reading of that paragraph gave me extreme pain. People may fancy that this does not matter much; but I say it matters very much. Under any system of government you will have Englishmen scattered all over India, and conduct like that I have just described, in any district, must create ill feeling towards England, to your rule, to your supremacy; and when that feeling has become sufficiently extensive, any little accident may give fire to the train, and you may have calamities more or less serious, such as we have had during the last twelve months. You must change all this if you mean to keep India. I do not now make any comment upon the mode in which this country has been put into possession of India. I accept that possession as a fact. There we are; we do not know how to leave it, and therefore let us see if we know how to govern it. It is a problem such as, perhaps, no other nation has had to solve. Let us see whether there is enough of intelligence and virtue in England to solve the difficulty. In the first place, then, I say, let us abandon all that system of calumny against the Natives of India which has lately prevailed. Had that people not been docile, the most governable race in the world, how could you have maintained your power for 100 years? Are they not industrious, are they not intelligent, are they not—upon the evidence of the most distinguished men the Indian Service ever produced—endowed with many qualities which make them respected by all Englishmen who mix with them? I have heard that from many men of the widest experience, and have read the same in the works of some of the best writers upon India. Then let us not have these constant calumnies against such a people. Even now there are men who go about the country speaking as if such things had never been contradicted, and talking of mutilations and atrocities committed in India. The less we say about atrocities the better. Great political tumults are, I fear, never brought about or carried on without grievous acts on both sides deeply to be regretted. At least, we are in the position of invaders and conquerors—they are in the position of the invaded and the conquered. Whether I were a native of India, or of England, or of any other country, I would not the less assert the great distinction between their position and ours in that country, and I would not permit any man in my presence, without rebuke, to indulge in the calumnies and expressions of contempt which I have recently heard poured forth without measure upon the whole population of India.
There is one other point to which I wish to address myself before I sit down, and in touching upon it I address myself especially to the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) and his colleagues in the Government. If I had the responsibility of administering the affairs of India, there are certain things I would do. I would, immediately after this Bill passes, issue a Proclamation in India which should reach every subject of the British Crown in that country, and be heard of in the territories of every Indian Prince or Rajah. I would offer a general amnesty. It is all very well to talk of issuing an amnesty to all who have done nothing; but who is there that has done nothing in such a state of affairs as has prevailed during the past twelve months? If you pursue your vengeance until you have rooted out and destroyed every one of those soldiers who have revolted, when will your labour cease? If you are to punish every non-military Native of India who has given a piece of bread or a cup of water to a revolted trooper, how many Natives will escape your punishment and your vengeance? I would have a general amnesty, which should be put forth as the first great act done directly by the Queen of England in the exercise of Sovereign power over the territories of India. In this Proclamation 1 would promise to the Natives of India a security for their property as complete as we have here at home; and I would put an end to all those mischievous and irritating inquiries which have been going on for years in many parts of India as to the title to landed estates, by which you tell the people of that country that unless each man can show an unimpeachable title to his property for ninety years you will dispossess him. What would be the state of things here if such a regulation were adopted?
I would also proclaim to the people of India that we would hold sacred that right of adoption which has prevailed for centuries in that country. It was only the other day that I had laid before me the case of a Native Prince who has been most faithful to England during these latter trials. When he came to the throne at ten years of age he was made to sign a document, by which he agreed that if he had no children his territories should be at the disposal of the British Government, or what was called the paramount power. He has been married; he has had one son and two or three daughters; but within the last few weeks his only son has died. There is grief in the palace, and there is consternation among the people, for the fact of this agreement entered into by the boy of ten years old is well known to all the inhabitants of the country. Representations have already been made to this country in the hope that the Government will cancel that agreement, and allow the people of that State to know that the right of adoption would not be taken from their Prince in case he should have no other son. Let the Government do that, and there is not a corner of India into which that intelligence would not penetrate with the rapidity of lightning. And would not that calm the anxieties of many of those independent Princes and Rajahs who are only afraid that when these troubles are over, the English Government will recommence that system of annexation out of which I believe all these troubles have arisen?
I would tell them also in that Proclamation, that while the people of England hold that their own, the Christian religion, is true and the best for mankind, yet that it is consistent with that religion that they who profess it should hold inviolable the rights of conscience and the rights of religion in others. I would show, that whatever violent, over- zealous, and fanatical men may have said in this country, the Parliament of England, the Ministers of the Queen, and the Queen herself are resolved that upon this point no kind of wrong should be done to the millions who profess the religions held to be true in India. I would do another thing. I would establish a Court of Appeal, the Judges of which should be Judges of the highest character in India, for the settlement of those many disputes which have arisen between the Government of India and its subjects, some Native and some European. I would not suffer these questions to come upon the floor of this House. I would not forbid them by statute, but I would establish a Court which should render it unnecessary for any man in India to cross the ocean to seek for that justice which he would then be able to get in his own country without corruption or secret bargain. Then I would carry out the proposition which the noble Lord has made to-night, and which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer made when he introduced his Bill, that a Commission should be issued to inquire into the question of finance. I would have other commissions, one for each Presidency, and I would tell the people of India that there should be a searching inquiry into their grievances, and that it was the interest and the will of the Queen of England that those grievances should be redressed.
Now, perhaps I may be told that I am proposing strange things, quite out of the ordinary routine of government. I admit it. We are in a position that necessitates something out of the ordinary routine. There are positions and times in the history of every country, as in the lives of individuals, when courage and action are absolute salvation; and now the Crown of England, acting by the advice of the responsible Ministers, must, in my opinion, have recourse to a great and unusual measure in order to allay the anxieties which prevail throughout the whole of India. The people of India do not like us, but they scarcely know where to turn if we left them. They are sheep literally without a shepherd. They are people whom you have subdued, and who have the highest and strongest claims upon you—claims which you cannot forget—claims which, if you do not act upon, you may rely upon it that, if there be a judgment for nations—as I believe there is—as for individuals, our children in no distant generation must pay the penalty which we have purchased by neglecting our duty to the populations of India.
I have now stated my views and opinions on this question, not at all in a manner, I feel, equal to the question itself. I have felt the difficulty in thinking of it; I feel the difficulty in speaking of it— for there is far more in it and about it than any man, however much he may be accustomed to think upon political questions, and to discuss them, can comprise at all within the compass of a speech of ordinary length. I have described the measures which I would at once adopt for the purpose of soothing the agitation which now disturbs and menaces every part of India, and of inviting the submission of those who are now in arms against you. Now I believe—I speak in the most perfect honesty— I believe that the announcement of these measures would avail more in restoring tranquillity than the presence of an additional army, and I believe that their full and honest adoption would enable you to retain your power in India. I have sketched the form of government which I would establish in India and at home, with the view of securing perfect responsibility and an enlightened administration. I admit that these things can only be obtained in degree, but I am convinced that a Government such as that which I have sketched would be free from most of the errors and the vices that have marked and marred your past career in India. I have given much study to this great and solemn question. I entreat the House to study it not only now, during the passing of this Bill, but after the Session is over, and till we meet again next year, when in all probability there must be further legislation upon this great subject; for I believe that upon this question depends very much, for good or for evil, the future of this country of which we are citizens, and which we all regard and love so much. You have had enough of military reputation on Eastern fields; you have gathered large harvests of that commodity, be it valuable or be it worthless. I invite you to something better, and higher, and holier than that; I invite you to a glory not 'fanned by conquest's crimson wing,' but based upon the solid and lasting benefits which I believe the Parliament of England can, if it will, confer upon the countless populations of India.
* * * * *
HOUSE OF COMMONS, MAY 20, 1858.
[A despatch of Lord Ellenborough, the President of the Board of Control, to Lord Canning, the Governor-General of India, had been laid before the two Houses. This document severely censured the Governor-General's policy in dealing with the talookdars of Oude. Immediate advantage was taken of this document by the Opposition, and on the 10th of May Mr. Cardwell gave notice in the Commons of a motion condemnatory of Lord Ellenborough's despatch. Lord Ellenborough retired from the Government. On May 14, however, Mr. Cardwell brought forward his motion in the House of Commons, but, after a lengthened debate, consented to withdraw it, at the earnest entreaty of many from his own side of the House.]
I am afraid I shall hardly be able to take part in this discussion in a manner becoming the magnitude of the question before us, and in any degree in accordance with the long anxiety which I have felt in regard to Indian affairs, but I happen to have been unfortunately and accidentally a good deal mixed up with these matters, and my name has frequently been mentioned in the course of debate, not only in this but in the other House of Parliament, and I am unwilling, therefore, to vote without expressing my opinion upon the matter under discussion. First, I may be allowed to explain that I think almost everything that has been said and imagined with regard to the part that I have had in bringing on this discussion has been altogether erroneous, and has no foundation whatever. There was no arrangement between the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Board of Control and myself with regard to the question that I thought it my duty to put to him on the subject of Lord Canning's Proclamation. I had spoken two or three weeks before the date of that question to the hon. Gentleman, because I had been informed by a respected friend of mine, Mr. Dickinson, the hon. secretary of the India Reform Society, who has very great information on Indian affairs, that he had received communications to the effect that some Proclamation of this character was in preparation and was about to be issued. I spoke to the hon. Member with regard to that report; and he told me that he had received no communication which enabled him to give me any information on the subject. I then intimated to him that in case there was anything of the kind I should certainly put a question to the Government respecting it. This was three weeks before the date of my question. Well, I read the Proclamation in The Times newspaper, the same day that every one else read it; and I came down to the House, not having seen the hon. Gentleman in the meantime. I met my hon. friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith) in Westminster Hall, and he told me that having read the despatch, and knowing my intention with regard to it, he, having met the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) that evening, said to him he had no doubt that when I came down to the House I should put a question respecting it. When I came down I put a question and received an answer; both question and answer are before the House and the country. But I confess I did not anticipate that we should lose a week from the discussion of the Indian Resolutions on account of the question which I then asked the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Board of Control.
Now, Sir, with respect to the question before the House, I should have been content to let it end when the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General sat down. I think, Sir, the House might have come to a vote when the Solicitor-General finished his speech. I could not but compare that speech with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Resolution now before the House. I thought the right hon. Gentleman raked together a great many small things to make up a great case. It appeared to me that he spoke as if his manner indicated that he was not perfectly satisfied with the course he was pursuing. I think he failed to stimulate himself with the idea that he was performing a great public duty; for if he had been impressed with that idea I think his subject would have enabled him to deliver a more lively and impressive speech than that which he has made. But, Sir, I believe that every one will admit that the speech of the Solicitor-General was characterised by the closest logic and the most complete and exhaustive argument. There is scarcely a Gentleman with whom I have spoken with regard to that speech who does not admit that the hon. and learned Gentleman has seemed to have taken up the whole question, and to have given a complete answer to all serious charges brought against the Government.
This Motion is an important one in two aspects. First of all as respects the interests of parties at home—which some people, probably, think the more important of the interests concerned; and, secondly, as respects the effect which will be produced in India when this discussion, with the vote at which we arrive, reaches that country and is read there. The princes, the rajahs, and intelligent landholders, whether under the English Government or independent, will know very little about what we understand by party; and any cabal or political conspiracy here will have no influence on them. They know little of the persons who conduct and take a part in the debate in this House; and the 'loud cheers' which they will read of in our discussions Will be almost nothing to them. The question to them will be, What is the opinion of the Parliament of England as to the policy announced to India in the Proclamation?
Now, Sir, I complain of the right hon. Gentleman, and I think the House has reason to complain, that in his Resolution he endeavours to evade the real point of discussion. The noble Lord who has just sat down (Viscount Goderich) says he will not meet this matter in any such indirect manner as that proposed by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn); but what can be less direct than the issue offered by the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford? This is proved by the fact that, throughout the course of this discussion, every serious argument and every serious expression has had reference to the character of the Proclamation, and not to those little matters which are mixed up in this Resolution. Nobody, I believe, defends the Proclamation in the light in which it is viewed by the Government, and censured by the Government. All that has been done is an endeavour to show that it is not rightly understood by those who censure it as announcing a policy of confiscation. In fact, in endeavouring to defend it, hon. Members insist that it does not mean something which it says it does mean, and which if any of us understand the English language it assuredly does mean. The right hon. Gentleman asks us to do that which I think is an absolute impossibility. He wants us to condemn the censure, and wishes at the same time—and I give him credit for this—that we should pronounce no approval of the thing censured. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman, though unfortunately he has been led into this movement, wishes the House to pronounce an opinion in favour of confiscation. I do not believe that any Member of this House asks us to come to a conclusion in such a way as that our decision shall be an approval of that which the Government has condemned in the despatch. But if we affirm the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman, how is it possible for the people of India to understand our decision in any other sense than as an approval of the policy of Lord Canning's Proclamation? With regard to the publication of the Government despatch, it is not a little remarkable how men turn round and object to what they formerly were so loud in demanding. On this side of the House it has been the commonest thing to hear hon. Gentlemen say that all this secrecy on the part of the Foreign Office and the Board of Control is a cause of the greatest mischief. Assume for a moment that the publication of this despatch was injudicious—after all, it was no high crime and misdemeanour. We on this side of the House, and hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, ought to look with kindness on this failing, which, if a failing, leans to virtue's side. Then, Sir, with regard to the language of the despatch, I do not know of any Government or Minister who would not be open to censure if we chose to take up every word in a despatch. A man of firmer texture, of stronger impulse, and more indignant feelings will, on certain occasions, write in stronger terms than other men—and I confess I like those men best who write and speak so that you can really understand them. Now I say that the proposition before the House is a disingenuous one. It attempts to lead the House into a very unfortunate dilemma. I think that no judicial mind—seeing that the result of a decision in favour of this Resolution will be the establishment of the policy of the Proclamation—will fail to be convinced that we ought not to arrive at such a decision without great hesitation, and that we cannot do so without producing a very injurious effect on the minds of the people of India.
We now come to what all parties admit to be the real question—the Proclamation and the policy of confiscation announced in it. There are certain matters which I understand all sides of the House to be agreed on. They agree with the Government and the East India Company that the people of Oude are enemies but that they are not rebels [Cries of 'Yes, yes!'—'No, no!'] I thought the supporters of the Resolution of the right lion. Gentleman the Member for Oxford told us that if the Government had written a judicious despatch like that of the East India Company, they would have applauded and not censured it. Well, the East India Directors—and they are likely to know, for they were connected with the commission of the Act that brought this disturbance in Oude upon us—say that the people of Oude are not rebels; that they are not to be treated as rebels; but as enemies. If so, the Government have a right to treat them according to those rules which are observed by nations which are at war with each other. Will the House accept that proposition? ['No, no!'—'Yes, yes!'] Well, if hon. Gentlemen on this side will not accept it, I hope the noble Lord the Member for the West Riding (Viscount Goderich) will not include them amongst those who are in favour of clemency. I am quite sure the people of England will accept that definition—that civilised Europe will accept it; and that history— history which will record our proceedings this night, and our vote on this Resolution—will accept it. Sir, I do not see how any one claiming to be an Englishman or a Christian can by any possibility escape from condemning the policy of this Proclamation.
I now come—and on that point I will be as brief as possible—to the question. What is the meaning of confiscating the proprietary rights in the soil? We have heard from a noble Lord in 'another place' and it has been stated in the course of the debate here, that this sentence of confiscation refers only to certain unpleasant persons who are called talookdars, who are barons and robber chiefs and oppressors of the people. This is by no means the first time that, after a great wrong has been committed, the wrongdoer has attempted to injure by calumny those upon whom the wrong has been inflicted. Lord Shaftesbury, who is a sort of leader in this great war, has told the world that this Proclamation refers only to 600 persons in the kingdom of Oude.
The kingdom of Onde has about five millions of people, or one-sixth of the population of the United Kingdom. Applied to the United Kingdom in the same rate of the population it would apply to 3,600 persons. Now, in both Houses of Parliament there are probably 700 landed proprietors. It would, therefore, be an edict of confiscation to the landed proprietors of the United Kingdom equal to five times all the landed proprietors in both Houses of Parliament. An hon. Gentleman says I am all wrong in my figures. I shall be glad to hear his figures afterwards. But that is not the fact; but if it were the fact, it would amount not to a political, but to an entire social revolution in this country. And surely, when you live in a country where you have, as in Scotland, a great province under one Member of the House of Lords, and seventy or eighty miles of territory under another, and where you have Dukes of Bedford and Dukes of Devonshire, as in England—surely, I say, we ought to be a little careful, at any rate, that we do not overturn, without just cause, the proprietary rights of the great talookdars and landowners in India. It is a known fact, which anybody may ascertain by referring to books which have been written, and to witnesses who cannot be mistaken, that this edict would apply to more than 40,000 landowners in the kingdom of Oude. And what is it that is meant by these proprietary rights? We must see what is the general course of the policy of our government in India. If you sweep away all proprietary rights in the kingdom of Oude you will have this result—that there will be nobody connected with the land but the Government of India and the humble cultivator who tills the soil. And you will have this further result, that the whole produce of the land of Oude and of the industry of its people will be divided into two most unequal portions; the larger share will go to the Government in the shape of tax, and the smaller share, which will be a handful of rice per day, will go to the cultivator of the soil. Now, this is the Indian system. It is the grand theory of the civilians, under whose advice, I very much fear, Lord Canning has unfortunately acted; and you will find in many parts of India, especially in the Presidency of Madras, that the population consists entirely of the class of cultivators, and that the Government stands over them with a screw which is perpetually turned, leaving the handful of rice per day to the ryot or the cultivator, and pouring all the rest of the produce of the soil into the Exchequer of the East India Company. Now, I believe that this Proclamation sanctions this policy; and I believe further that the Resolution which the right hon. Gentleman asks the House to adopt, sanctions this Proclamation; that it will be so read in India, and that whatever may be the influence, unfortunate as I believe it will be, of the Proclamation itself, when it is known throughout India that this—the highest court of appeal—has pronounced in favour of Lord Canning's policy, it will be one of the most unfortunate declarations that ever went forth from the Parliament of this country to the people of that empire.
Let me then for one minute—and it shall be but for one minute—ask the attention of the House to our pecuniary dealings with Oude. A friend of mine has extracted from a book on this subject two or three facts which I should like to state to the House, as we are now considering the policy of England towards that afflicted country. It is stated that, under the government of Warren Hastings, to the arrival of Lord Cornwallis in 1786, the East India Company obtained from the kingdom of Oude, and therefore from the Exchequer of the people of Oude, the sum of 9,252,000l.; under Lord Cornwallis, 4,290,000l.; under Lord Teignmouth, 1,280,000l.; under Lord Wellesley, 10,358,000l. This includes, I ought to observe, the Doab, taken in 1801 in lieu of subsidy, the annual revenue of that district being 1,352,000l. Coming down to the year 1814, there was a loan of a million; in 1815 a loan of a million; in 1825 a loan of a million; in 1826 a loan of a million; in 1829 a loan of 625,000l.; and in 1838 a loan of 1,700,000l. Some of these sums, the House will observe, are loans, and in one case the loan was repaid by a portion of territory which the Company, in a very few years, under an excuse which I should not like to justify, re-annexed to themselves, and therefore the debt was virtually never repaid. The whole of these sums comes to 31,500,000l.; in addition to which Oude has paid vast sums in salaries, pensions, and emoluments of every kind to servants of the Company engaged in the service of the Government of Oude.
I am not going further into detail with regard to that matter; but I say that the history of our connection with the country, whose interests we are now discussing, is of a nature that ought to make us pause before we consent to any measure that shall fill up the cup of injury which we have offered to the lips of that people. After this, two years ago, we deposed the Sovereign of Oude. Everything that he had was seized—much of it was sold. Indignities were offered to his family. Their ruin was accomplished, though they were the governors of that kingdom. Some hon. Gentleman, speaking on this side of the House, has tried to persuade the House that this confiscation policy only intends that we should receive the taxes of Oude. But that is altogether a delusion. That is a statement so absurd that I am astonished that any one, even of those who support the Resolution, should offer it to the House. In 1856, when you dethroned the King of Oude, you stepped into his place, and became the recipients of all the legitimate national taxes of the kingdom of Oude; and now, having seized the 500,000l. a year, the revenue of that country, after a solemn treaty which contained a clause that if there were a surplus of revenue it should be paid to the credit of the kingdom of Oude; after having applied that surplus, contrary to that clause of the treaty, to the general purposes of India; you now step in and you descend below the King, to every talookdar, to every landowner, large or small, to every man who has proprietary rights in the soil, to every man, the smallest and humblest capitalist who cultivates the soil—to every one of these you say in language that cannot be mistaken—'Come down from the independence and dignity you have held. As we have done in other provinces of India we shall do here. Two-thirds of you have not been mixed up in this war; but in this general confiscation the innocent must suffer with the guilty, for such is the misfortune of war, and such is the penalty which we shall inflict upon you.' Sir, if this Proclamation be not a Proclamation of unheard-of severity, how comes it that so many persons have protested against it? Does any man believe that the noble Lord the Member for the West Riding (Viscount Goderich) understands this Proclamation better than the high military authorities who have so long known India? Does he suppose that the House of Commons will take his authority upon a matter of this kind in preference to the authority of the whole united press of India? ['Oh! oh!'] Well, I dare say that hon. Members who cry 'Oh!' have not read the newspapers of India upon the subject. Some of them uphold it because they say that at one fell swoop it has done that which it took us twenty years to do in other districts of India, and destroys every man who could influence the people against the British Government. Others say that it is a Proclamation of such a character that it must cause 'war to the knife' against the English, and that the Governor-General who issued such a Proclamation should have been prepared with a new army at his back that he might have power to enforce it.
The learned Gentleman the Attorney-General for Ireland referred in his speech the other night to what had been said by the hon. and learned Member for Devonport (Sir E. Perry) on the occasion of a question that I had put some two or three weeks ago. Now I call the House to witness whether when I put the question which brought out this despatch, and when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer rose in his place and gave the answer that with respect to the policy of confiscation—for that is the only thing there is any dispute about in the Proclamation—the Government disavowed it in every sense—I call the House to witness whether every Gentleman present in this part of the House did not cheer that sentiment. Of course, every man cheered it. They would not have been men; they would not have been Englishmen; they would not have been legislators; they would have been men who had never heard of what was just and right, if every instinct within them, at the instant they heard the declaration of the Government, did not compel them to an enthusiastic assent. And it was only when the fatal influence of party, and the arts which party knows how to employ, were put in motion, that hon. Gentlemen began to discover that there was something serious and something dangerous in this memorable despatch. Now, I would ask the House this question—are we prepared to sanction the policy of that despatch?
I am very sorry that I have not done what only occurred to me after this debate commenced, and after the Amendment was proposed, or I should have proposed another Amendment to the House that went expressly upon that point, because—and I speak it without the smallest reference to the influence which it may have on any party in this House—I think it of the very highest consequence that, whatever decision we come to, it should be liable to no misinterpretation when it arrives in India. Then, Sir, we have been treated to a good deal of eloquence upon the manner of the despatch; and with regard to that I must say a word or two. The noble Lord the Member for London, who sits below me, has, I think, fallen into the error of most of the speakers in favour of the Resolution; that is, of treating some of the outside circumstances of the case as if they were the case itself. I do not think, however, that he stated there was a word in the despatch which was not true, although he did express what I thought was rather an immoral sentiment for so eminent a statesman. The noble Lord told us that after a crime had been committed, men in office were never to let it be known or suspected that they thought it was a crime. [Lord John Russell: 'The hon. Gentleman is mistaken; I never said anything of the kind.'] I did not hear it myself, but I read it, and many of my friends came to the same conclusion. ['Oh! oh!'] Well, I understand, then, that he did not say it; but what he did say was, that there was a great deal of sarcasm and invective in the despatch, and he read a passage to show that such was the case. But the fact is that a great deal depends upon the reading. I could take a despatch of the noble Lord himself and read it in a manner that would perfectly astonish him. He said, if I am not mistaken, that if the House were to approve of that despatch as a proper despatch, then Lord Canning was not fit to occupy the meanest political or official situation. Indian despatches have, to my mind, never been very gentle. I recollect having read in Mill's History of British India, and in other histories also, despatches that have been sent from the President of the Board of Control, the Secret Committee, and the Court of Directors, over and over again; and I have thought that they were written in a tone rather more authoritative and rather more dictatorial than I should have been disposed to write, or than I should have been pleased to receive. It arose from this—that in old times the magnates sitting in Leadenhall-street were writing, not to Lord Canning and men of that altitude, but to merchants and agents whom they had sent out, who were entirely dependent upon them, and to whom they could say just what they liked; and for 100 years past, as far as I have seen, their despatches have had a character for severity, and that which men call 'dictatorial,' which I think might be very well dispensed with. But that is a matter which should certainly be taken into consideration, when a large portion of this House are disposed not only to censure Lord Ellenborough, but to overturn the Government, because a despatch is not written precisely in those gentle terms which some hon. Gentlemen think to be right when inditing a letter to a Governor-General of India.
There is one other point which I must notice, and that is the supposed effect of this despatch upon the feelings of Lord Canning. I am not so intimate with Lord Canning as many Members of this House, but I have had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and have always believed that he was one of the last men who would knowingly do anything that was inhuman or unjust, and that is my opinion now. I think he is to be commiserated, as any other man would have been who happened to be in India at such a time as this; and I think we are bound also to take a lenient view even of such errors as we may think he has committed. If I had gone to India, or into any service under the State, I should expect that there would be a general disposition to give me fair play in the exercise of my office, and that no strained construction to my injury would be put upon anything which I did. Well, that is the view which I entertain with regard to Lord Canning. I have never uttered a syllable against him in public, although I think that some of his acts have been open to great objection; and I am not about to say anything against him now. I would not support a Resolution which was intended to damage Lord Canning; and I think the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) has not done wrong in offering to the House the Amendment he has placed before us. But it is just possible that Lord Canning is in the midst of circumstances which have rendered it very difficult, perhaps impossible, for him to exercise his own calm judgment on the great question which forms the subject of this Proclamation, I see in that Proclamation not so much an emanation from the humane and just mind of Lord Canning, as the offspring of that mixture of red tape and ancient tradition which is the foundation of the policy of the old civilian Council of Calcutta. But, Sir, if it were a question of hurting Lord Canning's feelings and denouncing this Proclamation, I could have no hesitation as to the choice which I should make. A man's private and personal feelings are not a matter of importance for the House when compared with the vast and permanent interests involved in the dangerous policy which we are now discussing. And I do not think the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell), the noble Lord the Member for the West Riding (Viscount Goderich), and the noble Lord the Member for London, have any right to throw themselves into something like a contortion of agony with regard to the manner of this despatch; because, as was stated to the House the other night by the learned Attorney-General for Ireland, they did not tell us much about the feelings of another public servant, acting on behalf of the Crown at a still greater distance from England, when last year they gave a vote on the China question which pronounced a most emphatic condemnation on the conduct of Sir John Bowring. Now, I like fair play. I would treat Lord Canning as I would treat Sir John Bowring; and I would treat Sir John Bowring as I would treat Lord Canning. Do not let us have in the service of the State low-caste men who may be trampled upon at pleasure, and high-caste men whom nobody dare criticise.
I said, when I began, that this Resolution is important in reference to something else besides India; that it is important with reference to the position of parties in this House. I would ask the attention of the House for a few moments to that branch of the subject. I am afraid—and I hope I am not slandering anybody in saying it—that there is quite as much zeal for what is called 'place' as there is for the good of India in the proposition brought before us. If that despatch had been published three months ago, when we were all sitting on that side of the House, it is very probable that many Gentlemen who now speak against it would have thought it a noble despatch, containing noble sentiments, expressed in noble language. But now, Sir, there has been for the last two months a growing irritation observable, particularly in this part of the House. There has been a feeling which no ingenuity has been able to disguise—a fear that if the present Government should, by some means or other, remain in office over the Session, no small difficulty would be found in displacing it—lest, like the tree, which, when first planted, may be easily pulled up, it should by and bye strike its roots downwards and its branches outwards, and after a year or two no man would be able to get it out of the ground. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know that I differ very widely from them on many public questions, and probably at some not distant day they may find it out in some act of severe hostility; but I put it to the House, whether, out of doors, the reputation of the present Government is not, in many respects, better than the last? Take, for instance, the Gentlemen who come up from the country on various deputations to the Ministers—the judgment of these deputations, without an exception, is in favour of the manner in which they have been received by the present Ministers, and of the way in which their suggestions and requests have been treated. Now, this may be no great matter, and I do not say that it is; but I make the observation for the benefit of the Gentlemen who sit on these benches, because it is just possible that they may some time have to receive deputations again. Then take their conduct in this House. 'Oh, yes.' hon. Gentlemen may say, 'but they are a weak Government; they have not a majority, and they are obliged to be very civil.' But what I maintain is, that every Ministry ought to be very civil, and what I am prepared to assert is—and I ask every man on this side of the House if he does not agree with me, for I have heard dozens of them say it out of the House—that when the late Government were in office civility was a thing unknown.
Take another point—for it is worthy of consideration by Gentlemen on this side of the House, and I ask hon. Gentlemen who sit below the gangway especially to consider it—look at the heritage of trouble with regard to our foreign policy which the existing Government found on their accession to office. Three months of what was going on upon the Conspiracy Bill would have landed you on the very verge of a war, if not in a war, with France, and that danger has been avoided certainly by no concession which is injurious to the honour of England. Take the question which has agitated the public mind with regard to Naples. I am not going into any details; but so far as a Government could act, this Government appears to have acted with judgment. I think the noble Lord below me (Lord J. Russell) admitted that himself. I did not say that the noble Lord said anything against them. On the contrary, I rejoice to have him with me as a witness to what I am stating. With regard, then, to these questions, seeing the dilemma into which the foreign affairs of the country were brought under the last Administration, I think it is but fair, just, and generous that Members on this side of the House, at least, should take no course which wears the colour of faction, for the purpose of throwing the present Government out of office. Whenever I join in a vote to put Gentlemen opposite out of office, it shall be for something that the country will clearly understand—something that shall offer a chance of good to some portion of the British empire—something that shall offer a chance of advancing distinctly the great principles for which we—if we are a party at all on this side of the House— profess to care.
But there is another reason. Not only is it feared that hon. Gentlemen opposite will get firm in their seats, but it is also feared that some hon. Gentlemen near me will get less firm in their alliance with the right hon. Gentlemen on this side. I have heard of mutinous meetings and discussions, and of language of the most unpardonable character uttered, as Gentlemen now say, in the heat of debate. But there was something more going on, which was traced to a meeting of independent Members recently held in Committee-room No. 11; and if a stop were not put to it, the powerful ranks on these benches might be broken up, which, if united, it was believed, would storm the Treasury benches and replace the late Government in office. I believe it was intended that a desperate effort should be made to change the state of things here before Whitsuntide. That was a resolution which had been come to long before any one knew anything about Lord Ellenborough's despatch. And the present seems to be a convenient opportunity, inasmuch as it has this in its favour, that it appears to be defending an absent servant of the Crown; that it appears to be teaching a lesson to the Government who have acted injudiciously in publishing a despatch; altogether it has that about it which makes it an excellent pretext on which hon. Gentlemen may ride into office. Now, I do not speak to Whigs in office or to those Gentlemen who have been in office and expect to be in office again; but I should like to say what I believe to be true to those Gentlemen who call themselves independent Members, who come here with no personal object to serve, not seeking place, patronage, or favour, but with an honest desire, as far as they are able, to serve their country as Members of the House of Commons. If this Resolution be carried, it is supposed that the old Government, or something very like it, will come back again. Now, there was great discontent with that old Government before it went out; yet no pledge whatever has been given that its conduct will be better or different; no new measures have been promised, no new policy has been avowed, no new men, that I have seen, have been held forth to the public very distinctly as likely to take high office in the State. There have been some things which I should think Members of this House must have felt pain at witnessing. There are newspapers in the interest of this ex-Treasury bench which have, in the most unblushing manner, published articles emanating from the pen of somebody who knew exactly what was wanted to be done. In the case of a gentleman, for example, who was engaged in Committee-room No. 11—a gentleman whom I need not mention because the House knows all the circumstances of this case, but a gentleman who took a most prominent part in the proceedings in that Committee-room—and no one is probably more indignant at what has been done than himself—those newspapers have positively fixed upon and designated him for a certain office, if the present Government go out and another comes in; another gentleman who seconded a Resolution on that occasion is also held up for an office; but they do not state exactly what his precise position is to be; and the glittering bauble of some place in the incoming Government is hung up before many hon. Gentlemen who sit around me. It is not said, 'It is for you' and 'It is for you;' but it is hung up dangling before them all, and every man is expected to covet that glittering bauble.
But this is not all. These are not the only arts which are employed. Members of this House sitting below the gangway, who have been here for years—Gentlemen of the most independent character—receive flattering and beautifully engraved cards to great parties at splendid mansions; and not later than Friday last, of all times, those invitations were scattered, if not with a more liberal, no doubt with a much more discriminating hand than they ever were before. [An hon. Member: 'Absurd!'] Of course it is very absurd; there is no doubt about that, and that is precisely why I am explaining it to the House. Why, Sir, if those cards of invitation contained a note with them, giving the exact history of what was really meant, it would say to hon. Gentlemen, 'Sir, we have measured your head, and we have gauged your soul, and we know or believe'—for I believe they do not know—'we believe that your principles which you came into Parliament to support—your character in the House—your self-respect will go for nothing if you have a miserable temptation like this held up before you.' Sir, if we could see them taking a course which is said to be taken by the celebrated horse-tamer, who appeals, as I am told, to the nobler and more intelligent instincts of the animal which he tames, then I should not complain. But they appeal to instincts which every honourable mind repudiates, and to aspirations which no hon. Gentleman on this side of the House can for a moment admit.
Well, then, if they succeed, what sort of a Government shall we have? I am as anxious for a Liberal Government as any man in this House, but I cannot believe that, in the present position of things on this side of the House, a Liberal and solid Government can be formed. We are told, and the whole country has been in a state of expectation and wonder upon it, that two eminent statesmen have actually dined together; and I am very glad to hear that men engaged in the strife of politics can dine together without personal hostility. I say nothing of the viands that were eaten. I say nothing of the beverage that was in the 'loving cup' that went round. One of our oldest and greatest poets has told us that—
'Nepenthe is a drink of soverayne grace.'
He says that it was devised by the gods to subdue contention, and subject the passions; but that it was given only to the aged and the wise, who were prepared by it to take their places with ancient heroes in a higher sphere. But that could not have been the contents of the 'loving cup' in this instance, for these aged statesmen are still determined to cling to this world, and to mix, as heretofore, with all the vigour and the fire of youth in the turmoil and contention of public life. But does the fact of this dinner point to reconciliation, and to a firm and liberal administration? I believe that any such Government would be the worst of all coalitions. I believe that it would be built upon insincerity, and I suspect it would be of no advantage to the country. Therefore I am not anxious to see such a Government attempted.
I ask the House, then, are they prepared to overthrow the existing Government on the question which the right hon. Gentleman has brought before us—a question which he has put in such ambiguous terms? Are they willing in overthrowing that Government to avow the policy of this Proclamation for India? Are they willing to throw the country into all the turmoil of a general election—a general election at a moment when the people are but just slowly recovering from the effects of the most tremendous commercial panic that this country ever passed through? Are they willing to delay all legislation for India till next year, and all legislation on the subject of Parliamentary reform till the year after that? Are they willing, above all, to take the responsibility which will attach to them if they avow the policy contained in this Proclamation?
I confess, Sir, I am terrified for the future of India when I look at the indiscriminate slaughter which is now going on there. I have seen a letter, written, I believe, by a missionary, lately inserted in a most respectable weekly newspaper published in London, in which the writer estimates that 10,000 men have been put to death by hanging alone. I ask you, whether you approve of having in India such expressions as these, which I have taken this day from a Calcutta newspaper, and which undoubtedly you will be held to approve if you do anything which can be charged with a confirmation of the tenor of this Proclamation. Here is an extract from The Englishman, which, speaking of the men of the disarmed regiments, who amount to some 20,000 or 30,000, or even 40,000 men, says:—
'There is no necessity to bring every Sepoy to a court-martial, and convict him of mutinous intentions before putting him down as guilty. We do not advocate extreme or harsh measures, nor are we of those who would drench the land with blood; but we have no hesitation in saying, that, were the Government to order the execution of all these Sepoys, they would be legally and morally justified in doing so. There would be no injustice done.'
No injustice would be done! I ask the House to consider that these men have committed no offence; their military functions were suspended because it was thought they were likely to be tempted to commit an offence, and therefore their arms were taken from them; and now an Englishman—one of your own countrymen—writing in a newspaper published in Calcutta, utters sentiments so atrocious as those which I have just read to the House. I believe the whole of India is now trembling under the action of volcanic fires; and we shall be guilty of the greatest recklessness, and I will say of great crime against the Monarchy of England, if we do anything by which we shall own this Proclamation. I am asked on this question to overturn Her Majesty's Government. The policy adopted by the Government on this subject is the policy that was cheered by hon. Members on this side when it was first announced. It is a policy of mercy and conciliation. False—may I not say?—or blundering leaders of this party would induce us, contrary to all our associations and all our principles, to support an opposite policy. I am willing to avow that I am in favour of justice and conciliation—of the law of justice and of kindness. Justice and mercy are the supreme attributes of the perfection which we call Deity, but all men everywhere comprehend them; there is no speech nor language in which their voice is not heard, and they cannot be vainly exercised with regard to the docile and intelligent millions of India. Yon have had the choice. You have tried the sword. It has broken; it now rests broken in your grasp; and you stand humbled and rebuked. You stand humbled and rebuked before the eyes of civilized Europe. You may have another chance. You may, by possibility, have another opportunity of governing India. If you have, I beseech you to make the best use of it. Do not let us pursue such a policy as many men in India, and some in England, have advocated, but which hereafter you will have to regret, which can end only, as I believe, in something approaching to the ruin of this country, and which must, if it be persisted in, involve our name and nation in everlasting disgrace.
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HOUSE OF COMMONS, AUGUST 1, 1859. From Hansard. [On August 1 Sir Charles Wood made his financial statement on India to the House of Commons. One of his proposals was that the Government should be empowered to raise 5,000,000l. in the United Kingdom in order to meet the demands of the present year. The Loan Bill passed through both Houses.]
I have so often addressed the House upon the question of India that I feel some hesitation in asking a portion of the time of the Committee this evening. But notwithstanding an observation of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India that he does not see anything gloomy in the future of India, I confess that to my view the question assumes yearly a greater magnitude, and I may say a greater peril. I think, therefore, that having given some attention to this subject in years past, I may be permitted to bring my share, be its value more or less, to the attempt which we are now making to confront this great evil. When we recollect how insufficient are the statements which he has from India, the right hon. Gentleman has given us as clear an account of the finances of India as it was possible for him to do, and looking at them in the most favourable point of view we come to this conclusion:—We have what we have had for twenty years, only more rapidly accumulating, deficit on deficit and debt on debt.
The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee that when he left the Government of India, I think in 1855, everything was in a most satisfactory condition. Well, it did happen in that year, perhaps by some of that kind of management which I have observed occasionally in Indian finance, that the deficit was brought down to a sum not exceeding 150,000l. [Sir C. Wood: 'There was a surplus of 400,000l.'] The deficit, I believe, before the mutiny was 143,000l. But, if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to take the three years preceding the mutiny, I think that will give a much fairer idea of the real state of the case, and it is not the least use shutting our eyes to the real state of the case, because some day or other it will find us out, or we shall find it out. The real state of the case in the three years preceding the mutiny, 1855, 1856 and 1857, ending the 30th of April, is a deficit of 2,823,000l., being an average not very far short of 1,000,000l. a-year. That is the state of things immediately after the right hon. Gentleman left office. I do not in the least find fault with him. He did not make the deficit, but I merely state this to show that things are not at the moment in that favourable state which the right hon. Gentleman would induce the Committee to believe. Keeping our attention to that period, there is another point of view, which is also very important. It appears to me that any Government must be an excessively bad Government which cannot defray its expenses out of the taxes which it levies on its people. We know, and every one has for years known, that in India there is a source of revenue, not from taxes levied on the people, but from opium, and which is very like the revenue derived by the Peruvian Government from guano. If we turn to those three years and see what relation the expenditure of the Government had to taxes levied on the people of India, we shall find, though we may hear that the taxes are not so much as we imagine, or that the people are extremely poor, or that the Government is very extravagant—we shall find that the sum levied for the sale of opium and transit was no less than 10,500,000l., and if we add that to the 2,800,000l., we get a sum of 13,300,000l., which is the exact sum which the Government of India cost in those three years over and above what was raised from the people by actual taxation. I say that this is a state of things which ought to cause alarm, because we know, and we find it stated in the last despatches, that the income derived from opium is of a precarious character, and from the variation of climate in India, or from a variation of policy in the Chinese Government, that revenue may suddenly either be very much impaired or be cut off altogether.
The right hon. Gentleman brings us to the condition in which we are now, and it may be stated in the fewest possible words to be this,—that the debt of India has been constantly rising, and that it amounts now to 100,000,000l. sterling. ['No, no!'] The right hon. Gentleman said 95,000,000l., but he said there would be 5,000,000l. next year, and I will undertake to say that it is fair to argue on the basis that the debt of India at this moment is about 100,000,000l., that there is a deficit of 12,000,000l. this year, and that there may be expected to be a deficit of 10,000,000l. next year. It is not to be wondered at that it should be difficult to borrow money on Indian account.
I am not surprised at the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Glyn) being so lively in the House to-night, and other hon. Gentlemen connected with the City, who, I understand, have been impressing on the Secretary of State the fact that money cannot be had in the City for the purpose for which he wants it. I do not wonder that it is difficult to raise money on Indian account. I should think it extraordinary if it could be borrowed without a high rate of interest. That it can be borrowed at all can only arise from the fact that England, whatever disasters she gets into, generally contrives, by the blood of her soldiers or by the taxation of her people, to scramble through her difficulties, and to maintain before the world, though by enormous sacrifices, a character for good faith which is scarcely held by any other country in the world. With regard to the question of an Imperial guarantee, I take an opposite view from the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) on that particular point, though I agree with what he said as to certain expenses thrown on the Indian Government.
Last year I referred to the enormous expense of the Affghan war—about 15,000,000l.—the whole of which ought to have been thrown on the taxation of the people of England, because it was a war commanded by the English Cabinet, for objects supposed to be English, but which, in my opinion, were of no advantage either to England or India. It was most unjust that this enormous burden should have been thrown upon the finances of the Indian Government. But I do not oppose an Imperial guarantee because I particularly sympathize with the English taxpayers in this matter. I think the English taxpayers have generally neglected all the affairs of India, and might be left to pay for it. But there was no justice in imposing on the unfortunate millions of India the burden of a policy with which they had nothing to do, and which could not bring any one of them a single handful of rice more—it did bring them rather less than more—than they would have eaten without it. But I object to an Imperial guarantee on this ground,—if we let the Services of India, after exhausting the resources of India, put their hands into the pockets of the English people, the people of England having no control over the Indian expenditure, it is impossible to say to what lengths of unimagined extravagance they would go; and in endeavouring to save India may we not go far towards ruining England?