« PreviousContinue »
miles, with an area of 1,500,000 square miles, and a population of 200,000,000. I do not ask you to believe that all this has been got as Englishmen of our day would wish it had been got-without a stain or sin. Alas! it is not so.
Some wars there have been on which Truth will lay her pale reproving fingers, and cry, “Shame! shame to England !” But on the whole I do give it you as my thankful and sincere belief that the Indian Empire of our country was not got by design, or policy of ambition-was not a thing that England coveted, but was got against our will, in the face of repeated protests from home, contrary to the avowed policy of nearly every Governor-General, and, in a word, forced on us piecemeal in self-defence. Nor is this enough to say. For when we thus review the story of two centuries and a half, and bring the beginning and the end together in one coup d'oeil before us, setting Captain Lancaster and his five little ships of 1601 beside the British India of our day, dull indeed must be the brain that is not struck with the utter inadequacy of the means employed to the results which have been obtained; and dull indeed the heart that does not cry aloud, “This thing is of God!” “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give the praise.”—Ps. cxv. “For (we) gat not the land in possession through (our) own sword; neither was it (our) own arm that helped (us). But Thy right hand and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance: because Thou hadst a favour unto (us.)”—Ps. xliv.
II.-HOW THE EMPIRE HAS BEEN USED.
If then this Indian Empire was none of our getting, but was put into our hands by God, it follows that it was a stewardship-a trust in which England was to seek and
find her own national benefit in benefiting God's Indian people. The next question is, how has this been done? If this question is to be answered generally, and in a lump as it were, I can have no hesitation whatever in assuring you that English rule has very largely benefited India, so largely indeed that History must needs write it down a blessing. * For only consider what that Mahommedan rule was which English rule came to supersede. It was the rule of the Korân; in other words, the rule of the sworda rule in which war was rarely, if ever, known to cease in any reign, so perpetually was the kingdom racked with invasion from without, or rebellion from within-a rule in general of religious persecution, oscillating between the intolerance of destroying temples and smashing idols, and converting whole districts under threats of fire and sword, and the scarcely less intolerable tolerance of transferring a Hindoo princess to the Moslem Emperor's harem, by way of patronage and honour-a rule of utter insecurity of life and property, in which there was little “inquisition for blood” except for the rich, and private vengeance was the justiciary of the poor—a rule of forced labour without wages, and forced loans without repayment, under which no artizan was master of his own time or industry, and no merchant master of his gains—a rule which scraped wealth from the whole surface of the kingdom, to heap it into a few glittering masses at the Courts of the Emperor and his Viceroys; which was gorgeous in ceremonials and royal progresses, but depopulating and demoralising in its daily life-a rule under which individuals indeed could rise to ambitious heights, but the masses sunk like stones—a rule which corrupted both the conquered and their conquerors, teaching Hindoo men to be slaves and Hindoo women prisoners in the Zenâna, and half-Hindooizing Mahommedans by the contagious influence of caste. In short, a rule of which I know no other good that it did to India than the awful check it inflicted on Idolatry, a check which no doubt was its mission.
* That the Indian Empire has in turn been a blessing to England, requires no demonstration. The rest of Europe has looked on at it with not less envy than admiration. I wish, however, to point attention to one particular benefit that has accrued to us, viz., that India has been a great safety-valve of energy and talent. Where else, some years ago, could the middle-class Englishman without money or interest, by sheer industry, good conduct, and force of character, rise to be a ruler of men in thousands and in millions ? The aggregate of these individual careers made up, and still makes up, an important item in England's prosperity. Happily, however, India is in this respect no longer necessary to us. Our middle classes have found more natural and hopeful outlets in the great white colonies of the New World, the lands of the prairie and the gold-field ; and it might not hurt us to be driven more upon them. The day may come when the AngloSaxon race will have to stand alone and do battle with the world.
Now, English rule was in its details the very opposite of all this. It was conquest, but it was also emancipation. It found nine-tenths enslaved by one-tenth. It subjugated one-tenth, and freed nine-tenths. In short it conferred more freedom than it took away. It introduced peace into the land (that rudimental blessing without which there can be no real prosperity for any people)-it reflected the mind of the favoured country whence it came, and inaugurated an era of industry and commerce—it has kept India safe from foreign invasion, and till 1857 had known no internal rebellion—it has made life and honour safe, labour a property, and property an enjoyment—it has put all men, the Brahmin and the Sudra, on an equality in courts of justice—it has raised the life of a man above the life of a cow at Hindoo courts—it has protected woman, forbidding slavery, and abrogating the right of the Mahommedan husband to murder his own wife—it has abolished the accursed practices of Suttee, Infanticide, and Human Sacrifices to bloody idols--it has almost exterminated Thuggee, and has kept down Dacoity.
Throughout the greater part of its possessions it has surveyed the land, and registered the rights of possessors ; a priceless boon, which Englishmen, who have lived for generations under a settled government, can scarcely realize. *
It is sometimes said in ignorance that the British Indian Government has executed few public works, but the truth is that it has executed more, and grander, than any Government in the world.
In the Bengal Presidency alone it has constructed four irrigation canals to prevent or mitigate famine, the united lengths of which are 1840 miles, t besides immense
* In justice to the great Akbar, it should be stated that he preceded the English Government in the following measures :
1. He forbade Suttee against the will of widows.
5. He put all religions on an equality. And he went beyond the English Government in these, that,
6. He forbade child-marriage—(that infanticide of heart and home).
7. He manifested great respect for Christianity; and ordered Fyzee, the brother of his Prime Minister, to translate the Gospels. (The British Government, as yet, has only desired to translate the Sikh Scriptures. Nothing would more become the direct Government of the Crown, than an Authorised Version of the Bible in the chief dialects of India. The want of it is now the greatest hindrance to a vernacular Christian literature. Without it there cannot even be a Concordance.)
MILES. + Ganges
810 W. Jumna
425 E. Jumna
155 Baree, in Punjab
works of irrigation in Madras and other parts of India. It has constructed too a Grand Trunk Road from Calcutta to Peshâwur, 1423 miles in length, at an expense of more than £1000 a mile ;-£50,000 a year is not enough to keep it in repair. It has laid down 4000 miles of electric telegraph, connecting Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay with each other, and with Peshâwur, the farthest outpost of British India.
These are great deeds for a Government to do, unaided by private enterprise, and still greater would have been done had not unhappy wars exhausted the public treasury.
Private enterprise has, however, come at last to the aid of Government in the article of railroads, and eight English companies during the last ten years have undertaken trunk lines 4917 miles in length, of which about 1000 miles are finished, and the rest will be completed in four years.
Fifty-three millions of English capital are embarked in these railroads, and on the greater part of it interest has been guaranteed by Government.
How English rule has raised the material prosperity of India by all these measures may be gathered from two facts, firstly that the Indian trade has risen from less than a million in 1813 (when the monopoly of the East India Company was abolished), to 88 millions sterling in 1859-60.* Secondly,
* The Friend of India thus compares the trade of the three capitals :
“We can now institute an accurate comparison between the commerce of Calcutta and Bombay, and form a correct idea of the external trade of British India in 1859-60.
1,421, 76, 871
Duty on Merchandise and Imported Salt