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Speeches on Questions of Public Policy, Volume 1 by John Bright

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* * * * *


The speeches which have been selected for publication in these volumes
possess a value, as examples of the art of public speaking, which no
person will be likely to underrate. Those who may differ from Mr.
Bright's theory of the public good will have no difficulty in
acknowledging the clearness of his diction, the skill with which he
arranges his arguments, the vigour of his style, the persuasiveness of
his reasoning, and above all, the perfect candour and sincerity with
which he expresses his political convictions.

It seems likely that the course of events in this country will lead
those, who may desire to possess influence in the conduct of public
affairs, to study the art of public speaking. If so, nothing which can
be found in English literature will aid the aspirant after this great
faculty more than the careful and reiterated perusal of the speeches
contained in these volumes. Tried indeed by the effect produced upon any
audience by their easy flow and perfect clearness, or analysed by any of
those systems of criticism which under the name of 'rhetoric' have been
saved to us from the learning of the ancient world, these speeches would
be admitted to satisfy either process.

This is not the occasion on which to point out the causes which confer
so great an artistic value on these compositions; which give them now,
and will give them hereafter, so high a place in English literature. At
the present time nearly a hundred millions of the earth's inhabitants
speak the English tongue. A century hence, and it will probably be the
speech of nearly half the inhabitants of the globe. I think that no
master of that language will occupy a loftier position than Mr. Bright;
that no speaker will teach with greater exactness the noblest and rarest
of the social arts, the art of clear and persuasive exposition. But
before this art can be attained (so said the greatest critic that the
world has known), it is necessary that the speaker should secure the
sympathies of his audience, should convince them of his statesmanship,
should show that he is free from any taint of self-interest or
dissimulation. These conditions of public trust still form, as
heretofore, in every country of free thought and free speech, the
foundation of a good reputation and of personal influence. It is with
the fact that such are the characteristics of my friend's eloquence,
that I have been strongly impressed in collecting and editing the
materials of these volumes.

Since the days of those men of renown who lived through the first half
of the seventeenth century, when the liveliest religious feeling was
joined to the loftiest patriotism, and men laboured for their conscience
and their country, England has witnessed no political career like that
of Cobden and Bright. Cobden's death was a great loss to his country,
for it occurred at a time when England could ill spare a conscientious
statesman. Nations, however, cannot be saved by the virtues, nor need
they be lost by the vices, of their public men. But Cobden's death was
an irreparable loss to his friends--most of all to the friend who had
been, in an incessant struggle for public duty and truth, of one heart
and of one purpose with him.

Those who have been familiar with Cobden's mind know how wide was his
knowledge, how true was his judgment of political events. The vast
majority of those who followed his public career had but a scanty
acquaintance with the resources of his sagacity and foresight. He spoke
to the people on a few subjects only. The wisdom of Free Trade; the
necessity of Parliamentary Reform; the dangerous tendency of those laws
which favour the accumulation of land in few hands; the urgent need for
a system of national education; the mischief of the mere military
spirit; the prudence of uniting communities by the multiplication of
international interests; the abandonment of the policy of diplomatic and
military intermeddling; the advocacy, in short, of the common good in
place of a spurious patriotism, of selfish, local, or class aims, formed
the subject of Cobden's public utterances. But his intimate friends, and
in particular his regular correspondents, were aware that his political
criticism was as general as it was accurate. The loss then of his wise
and lucid counsel was the greatest to the survivor of a personal and a
political friendship which was continued uninterruptedly through so long
and so active a career.

At the commencement of Mr. Bright's public life, the shortsighted
selfishness of a landlords' parliament was afflicting the United Kingdom
with a continuous dearth. Labour was starved, and capital was made
unproductive by the Corn-laws. The country was tied to a system by which
Great Britain and her Colonies deliberately chose the dearest market for
their purchases. In the same spirit, the price of freights was wilfully
heightened by the Navigation-laws. Important branches of home industry
were crippled by prying, vexatious, and wasteful excises. And this
system was conceived to be the highest wisdom; or at any rate, to be so
invincible a necessity that it could not be avoided or altered without
danger. The country, if it were to make its way, could make it only
because other nations were servile imitators of our commercial policy,
and, in the vain hope of retaliation, were hindering their own progress.

The foreign policy of Great Britain was suspicious and irritating, for
it was secret, busy, and meddling, insolent to the weak, conciliatory,
even truckling, to the strong. The very name of diplomacy is and has
been odious to English Liberals, for by means of it a reactionary
Government could check domestic reforms, and hinder the community of
nations indefinitely. The policy of the Foreign Office was constantly
directed towards embittering, if not embroiling, the relations between
this and other countries. It is difficult to account for these
intrigues, except on the ground that successive Governments were anxious
to maintain political and social anomalies at home, while they were
affecting to support 'the balance of power' abroad. The abandonment of
intervention in foreign politics was the beginning of agitation for
domestic reforms.

Perhaps no part of the public administration was worse than that of
India. The great Company had lost its monopoly of trade in the Eastern
seas, but retained its administrative powers over the subject races and
dependent princes of India. Its system of finance was wasteful and
oppressive. Its policy was that of aggression and annexation. In
practice, the Government was irresponsible. Nobody listened to Indian
affairs in Parliament, except on rare occasions, or for party purposes.
The Governor-General did as he pleased. The President of the Board of
Control did as he pleased. If the reader wishes to see how the former
acted, Mr. Cobden's pamphlet, 'How Wars are got up in India' will
enlighten him. If it be necessary to inquire what the policy of the
latter might be, the disastrous and disgraceful Affghan War is an
illustration. Never perhaps was a war commenced more recklessly. It is
certain that when loss and dishonour fell on the English arms, the
statesmen who recommended and insisted on the war tried to screen
themselves from just blame by the basest arts.

The internal resources of India were utterly neglected. The Company
collected part of its revenue from a land-tax, levied in the worst
shape. In order to secure an income through a monopoly, it constrained
the cultivation of certain drugs for which there was a foreign demand;
and neglected to encourage the cultivation of cotton, for which the home
demand was wellnigh boundless, and to which the Indian supply might be
made to correspond. The Company constructed neither road nor canal. It
did nothing towards maintaining the means of communication which even
the native governments had adopted. It suffered the ancient roads and
tanks to fall into decay. It neglected to educate the native gentry,
much more the people. In brief, the policy of the Company in dealing
with India was the policy of Old Spain with her Transatlantic
possessions, only that it was more jealous and illiberal.

Against these social and political evils, and many others which might be
enumerated, a very small body of true and resolute statesmen arrayed
themselves. Among these statesmen the most eminent were the two chiefs
of the Anti-Corn-law agitation. Never did men lead a hope which seemed
more forlorn. They had as opponents nearly the whole Upper House of
Parliament, a powerful and compact party in the Lower. The Established
Church was, of course, against them. The London newspapers, at that time
almost the only political power in the press, were against them. The
'educated' classes were against them. Many of the working people were
unfriendly to them, for the Chartists believed that the repeal of the
Corn-laws would lower the price of labour. After a long struggle they
gained the day; for an accident, the Irish famine, rendered a change in
the Corn-laws inevitable. But had it not been for the organization of
the League, the accident would have had no effect; for it is a rule in
the philosophy of politics that an accident is valuable only when the
machinery for making use of the accident is at hand. Calamities never
teach wisdom to fools, they render it possible that the wise should
avail themselves of the emergency.

A similar calamity, long foreseen by prudent men, caused the political
extinction of the East India Company. The joint action of the Board of
Control and the Directors led to the Indian mutiny. The suppression of
the Indian mutiny led to the suppression of the Leadenhall Street Divan.
Another calamity, also foreseen by statesmen, the outbreak of the
American Civil War, gave India commercial hope, and retrieved the
finances which the Company's rule had thrown into hopeless disorder.

I have selected the speeches contained in these two volumes, with a view
to supplying the public with the evidence on which Mr. Bright's friends
assert his right to a place in the front rank of English statesmen. I
suppose that there is no better evidence of statesmanship than
prescience; that no fuller confirmation of this evidence can be found
than in the popular acceptance of those principles which were once
unpopular and discredited. A short time since, Lord Derby said that Mr.
Bright was the real leader of the Opposition. It is true that he has
given great aid to that opposition which Lord Derby and his friends have
often encountered, and by which, to their great discredit, but to their
great advantage, they have been constantly defeated. If Lord Derby is in
the right, Mr. Bright is the leader of the People, while his Lordship
represents a party which is reckless because it is desperate. The policy
which Mr. Bright has advocated in these pages, and throughout a quarter
of a century, a policy from which he has never swerved, has at last been
accepted by the nation, despite the constant resistance of Lord Derby
and his friends. It embodies the national will, because it has attacked,
and in many cases vanquished, institutions and laws which have become
unpopular, because they have been manifestly mischievous and
destructive. No one knows better how conservative and tolerant is public
opinion in England towards traditional institutions, than Mr. Bright
does; or how indifferent the nation is to attacks on an untenable
practice and a bad law, until it awakens to the fact that the law or the
practice is ruinous.

Mr. Bright's political opinions have not been adopted because they were
popular. He was skilfully, and for a time successfully, maligned by Lord
Palmerston, on account of his persevering resistance to the policy of
the Russian War. But it is probable that the views he entertained at
that time will find more enduring acceptance than those which Lord
Palmerston and Lord Palmerston's colleagues promulgated, and that he has
done more to deface that Moloch, 'the balance of power,' than any other
man living. Shortly after the beginning of the Planters' War, almost all
the upper, and many of the middle classes, sympathized with the Slave-
owners' conspiracy. Everybody knows which side Mr. Bright took, and how
judicious and far-sighted he was in taking it. But everybody should
remember also how, when Mr. Bright pointed out the consequences likely
to ensue from the cruise of the _Alabama_, he was insulted by Mr.
Laird in the House of Commons; the Mr. Laird who launched the
_Alabama_, who has been the means of creating bitter enmity between
the people of this country and of the United States, and has contrived
to invest the unlawful speculation of a shipbuilder with the dignity of
an international difficulty, to make it the material for an unsettled
diplomatic question.

There are many social and political reforms, destined, it may be hoped,
to become matter of debate and action in a Reformed Parliament, towards
the accomplishment of which Mr. Bright has powerfully contributed. There
is that without which Reform is a fraud, the redistribution of seats;
that without which it is a sham, the ballot; that without which it is
possibly a danger, a system of national education, which should be, if
not compulsory, so cogently expedient that it cannot be rejected. There
is the great question of the distribution of land, its occupancy, and
its relief from that pestilent system of game preserving which robs the
farmer of his profit and the people of their home supplies. There is the
pacification of Ireland. The only consolation which can be gathered from
the condition of that unhappy country is, that reforms, which are highly
expedient in Great Britain, are vital in Ireland, and that they
therefore become familiar to the public mind. There is the development
of international amity and good-will, first between ourselves and the
people of our own race, next between all nations. There is the
recognition of public duty to inferior or subject races, a duty which
was grievously transgressed before and after the Indian mutiny, and has
been still more atrociously outraged in the Jamaica massacre. Upon these
and similar matters, no man who wishes to deserve the reputation of a
just and wise statesman,--in other words, to fulfil the highest and
greatest functions which man can render to man,--can find a worthier
study than the public career of an Englishman whose guiding principle
throughout his whole life has been his favourite motto, 'Be just and
fear not.'

I have divided the speeches contained in these volumes into groups. The
materials for selection are so abundant, that I have been constrained to
omit many a speech which is worthy of careful perusal. I have naturally
given prominence to those subjects with which Mr. Bright has been
especially identified, as, for example, India, America, Ireland, and
Parliamentary Reform. But nearly every topic of great public interest on
which Mr. Bright has spoken is represented in these volumes.

A statement of the views entertained by an eminent politician, who
wields a vast influence in the country, is always valuable. It is more
valuable when the utterances are profound, consistent, candid. It is
most valuable at a crisis when the people of these islands are invited
to take part in a contest where the broad principles of truth, honour,
and justice are arrayed on one side, and their victory is threatened by
those false cries, those reckless calumnies, those impudent evasions
which form the party weapons of desperate and unscrupulous men.

All the speeches in these volumes have been revised by Mr. Bright. The
Editor is responsible for their selection, for this Preface, and for the
Index at the close of the second volume.


OXFORD, _June_ 30, 1868.

* * * * *

The Second Edition of these volumes is an exact reprint of the first,
certain obvious errors of the press only having been corrected.

OXFORD, _Dec_. 21, 1868.

* * * * *



I. House of Commons, June 3, 1853

II. House of Commons, June 24, 1858

III. House of Commons, May 20, 1858

IV. House of Commons, August 1, 1859

V. House of Commons, March 19, 1861


I. House of Commons, March 13, 1865

II. _The Canadian Fortifications_. House of Commons,
March 23, 1865

III. _The Canadian Confederation Scheme_. House of
Commons, February 28, 1867


I. The _'Trent' Affair_. Rochdale, December 4, 1861

II. _The War and the Supply of Cotton_. Birmingham,
December 18, 1862

III. _Slavery and Secession_. Rochdale, February 3,

IV. _The Struggle in America_. St. James's Hall,
March 26, 1863

V. London, June 16, 1863

VI. _Mr. Roebuck's Motion for Recognition of the
Southern Confederacy_. House of Commons,
June 30, 1863

VII. London, June 29, 1867


I. _Maynooth Grand_. House of Commons, April 16,

II. _Crime and Outrage Bill_. House of Commons,
December 13, 1847

III. _Employment of the Poor_. House of Commons,
August 25, 1848

IV. _Rate in Aid_. House of Commons, April 2,

V. _Habeas Corpus Suspension Bill_. House of Commons,
February 17, 1866

VI. Dublin, October 30, 1866

VII. Dublin, November 2, 1866

VIII. House of Commons, March 14, 1868

IX. House of Commons, April 1, 1868


I. _War with Russia--The Queen's Message_. House
of Commons, March 31, 1854

II. _Enlistment of Foreigners' Bill_. House of Commons,
December 22, 1854

III. _Negotiations at Vienna_. House of Commons,
February 23, 1855

IV. _On the Prosecution of the Russian War_. House
of Commons, June 7, 1855

Letter of John Bright to Absalom Watkin on the Russian War

* * * * *




_From Hansard_.

[The ministerial measure for the government of India was introduced by
Sir Charles Wood on June 3, 1853. The particulars of the Bill were as
follows: The Government proposed that for the future the relations
between the Directors and the Board of Control should be unchanged, but
that the constitution of the former should be altered and its patronage
curtailed. It reduced the number of the Members of the Court from
twenty-four to eighteen, of whom twelve were to be elected as before,
and six nominated by the Crown from Indian servants who had been ten
years in the service of the Crown or the Company. One-third of this
number was to go out every second year, but to be re-eligible.
Nominations by favour were to be abolished. The governorship of Bengal
was to be separated from the office of Governor-General. The legislative
council was to be improved and enlarged, the number to be twelve. The
Bill passed the House of Lords on June 13.]

I feel a considerable disadvantage in rising to address the House after
having listened for upwards of five hours to the speech of the right
hon. Gentleman. But the question is one, as the right hon. Gentleman has
said, of first-rate importance; and as I happen from a variety of
circumstances to have paid some attention to it, and to have formed some
strong opinions in regard to it, I am unwilling even that the Bill
should be brought in, or that this opportunity should pass, without
saying something, which will be partly in reply to the speech of the
right hon. Gentleman, and partly by way of comment on the plan which he
has submitted to the House. There is, as it appears to me, great
inconsistency between the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and that
which he proposes should be done; because, really, if we take his speech
as a true and faithful statement of the condition of India, and of the
past proceedings of the Government in that country, our conviction must
be that the right hon. Gentleman will be greatly to be blamed in making
any alteration in that Government. At the same time, if it be not a
faithful portraiture of the Government, and of its transactions in
India, then what the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do in regard to
the home administration of that country is altogether insufficient for
the occasion. I cannot on the present occasion go into many of the
details on which the right hon. Gentleman has touched; but the
observations which I have to make will refer to matters of government,
and those will be confined chiefly to the organisation of the home
administration. I am not much surprised that the Government should have
taken what I will call a very unsatisfactory course with regard to the
measure they have propounded, because they evidently did not seem
exactly to know what they ought to do from the very first moment that
this question was brought before them. I do not allude to the whole of
the Treasury bench, but I refer particularly to the noble Lord (Lord J.
Russell), because he was at the head of the Government when this
question was first brought before them. Lord Broughton, then Sir John
Hobhouse, was at that time the President of the Board of Control, and he
was not in favour of a Committee to inquire into the past government and
present condition of India. Shortly afterwards, however, it was
considered by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that it would be
desirable to have such a Committee appointed. A Committee was appointed,
and it sat.

But at the commencement of the present Session the noble Lord intimated
very distinctly, in answer to a question which I put to him, and which
seemed to make the noble Lord unnecessarily angry, that it was the
intention of the Government to legislate, and in such a way as to leave
the Indian Government almost entirely the same as it had hitherto been.
['No, no!'] Well, I thought that the noble Lord said so, and in
corroboration of that I may mention that the noble Lord quoted--and I
believe that it was the noble Lord's only authority--the opinion of the
right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries), who
considered that no material change was required in the constitution of
the home Indian Government. Well, when the noble Lord made that
announcement, considerable dissatisfaction was manifested on both sides
of the House, some hon. Members speaking in favour of a delay of one,
two, or three years, or declaring themselves strongly against the
present constitution of the Indian Government. However, from that time
to this, various rumours were afloat, and everybody was confident one
week that there would be no legislation, or only a postponement; in
another week it was thought that there was to be a very sweeping measure
(which last report, I must say, I never believed); and the week after
that people were again led to the conclusion that there would be a
measure introduced such as the one this night submitted to the House.
Again, it was understood so lately as last Saturday that there would be
no legislation on the subject, excepting a mere temporary measure for a
postponement. I confess that I was myself taken in by that announcement.
On Monday the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Danby Seymour) gave notice of a
question on the same subject, and he was requested not to ask it till
Tuesday. On Tuesday there was a Cabinet Council, and whether there was a
change of opinion then I know not, but I presume that there was. The
opinion that was confidently expressed on Saturday gave way to a new
opinion, and the noble Lord announced that legislation would be
proceeded with immediately. All this indicates that there was a good
deal of vacillation on the part of the Government. At last, however, has
come the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board
of Control. There were some good things in it, no doubt. I do not
suppose that any man could stand up, and go on speaking for five hours,
without saying something that was useful. But as to the main question on
which this matter rests, I do not believe that the plan which the
Government proposes to substitute will be one particle better than that
which exists at the present moment.

With regard to the question of patronage, I admit, so far as that goes,
that the plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman will be an
improvement on the present system. But I do not understand that the
particular arrangement of the covenanted service is to be broken up at
all. That is a very important matter, because, although he might throw
open the nominations to the Indian service to the free competition of
all persons in this country, yet if, when these persons get out to
India, they are to become a covenanted service, as that service now is
constituted, and are to go on from beginning to end in a system of
promotion by seniority--and they are to be under pretty much the same
arrangement as at present--a great deal of the evil now existing will
remain; and the continuance of such a body as that will form a great bar
to what I am very anxious to see, namely, a very much wider employment
of the most intelligent and able men amongst the native population.

The right hon. Gentleman has, in fact, made a long speech wholly in
defence of the Indian Government; and I cannot avoid making some remarks
upon what he has stated because I wholly dissent from a large portion of
the observations which he has made. But the right hon. Gentleman, above
all things, dreads that this matter should be delayed. Now I will just
touch upon that point. The right hon. Gentleman has said that he has not
met any one who does not consider it highly desirable that the House
should legislate upon the subject of the Government of India this year;
and that it will be a great evil if such legislation is postponed. In
support of this view he produces a private letter from Lord Dalhousie
upon the subject. Now I do not consider such evidence as by any means
conclusive, because the House knows that Lord Dalhousie has been
connected with the system that now exists. That noble Earl is also
surrounded by persons who are themselves interested in maintaining the
present system. From his elevated position also in India--I do not mean
his location at Simlah--but from his being by his station removed from
the mass of the European population, and still more removed from the
native population, I do not think it at all likely that Lord Dalhousie
will be able to form a sounder opinion upon this question than persons
who have never been in India. In my opinion, no evil can possibly arise
from creating in the minds of the population of India a feeling that the
question of Indian Government is considered by the House of Commons to
be a grave and solemn question; and I solemnly believe that if the
decision on the question be delayed for two years, so as to enable
Parliament to make due inquiries as to the means of establishing a
better form of government in India, it will create in the minds of all
the intelligent natives of India a feeling of confidence and hope, and
that whatever may be done by them in the way of agitation will be rather
for the purpose of offering information in the most friendly and
generous spirit, than of creating opposition to any Government
legislation. However, the question of delay is one which the House in
all probability will be called upon to decide on another occasion.

But passing from that subject, I now come to the principle upon which
the right hon. Gentleman founded his Motion. The speech of I he right
hon. Gentleman was throughout that of an advocate of the Indian
Government, as at present constituted; and, if Mr. Melville had said
everything that could possibly be dragged into the case, he could not
have made it more clearly appear than the right hon. Gentleman has done
that the Government of India has been uniformly worthy of the confidence
of the country. My view of this matter, after a good deal of
observation, is, that the Indian Government, composed of two branches,
which the right hon. Gentleman does not propose to amalgamate into one,
is a Government of secrecy and irresponsibility to a degree that should
not be tolerated in a country like this, where we have a constitutional
and Parliamentary Government, I have not the least idea in any
observations which I may make either in this House or elsewhere of
bringing a charge against the East India Company--that is to say,
against any individual member of the Board of Directors, as if they were
anxious to misgovern India. I never had any such suspicion. I believe
that the twenty-four gentlemen who constitute the Board of Directors
would act just about as well as any other twenty-four persons elected by
the same process, acting under the same influences, and surrounded by
the same difficulties--having to act with another and independent body--
the Board of Control. Neither am I hostile to the Board of Control,
because I think that the duty imposed upon it is greater than any such
body can properly perform. The right hon. Gentleman, the enormous
labours of whose office could not be accomplished by any one man, coming
into office in December, and having to propose a new Government for
India in the month of May or June, must have found it extremely
difficult to make himself master of the question. But beyond this the
House should bear in mind, that during the last thirty years there has
been a new President of the Board of Control every two years. Nay, in
the course of last year there were no less than three Presidents of the
Board of Control. Thus that Board seems framed in such a manner as to
make it altogether impossible that any one man should be able to conduct
it in the way which it ought to be conducted. Beyond this, the President
of that Board has to act in conjunction with the Court of Directors.
Without saying anything which would impute blame to any party, it must
be obvious that two such bodies combined can never carry on the
government of India wisely, and in accordance with those principles
which have been found necessary in the government of this country. The
right hon. Gentleman has been obliged to admit that the theory of the
old Government of India was one which could not be defended, and that
everybody considers it ridiculous and childish. I am not at all certain
that the one that is going to be established is in any degree better. It
was in 1784 that this form of government was established, amid the fight
of factions. In 1813 it was continued for twenty-years longer, during a
time when the country was involved in desperate hostilities with France.
In 1833 another Bill, continuing that form of government, passed through
Parliament immediately after the hurricane which carried the Reform
Bill. All these circumstances rendered it difficult for the Government,
however honestly disposed, to pass the best measure for the government
of India. But all the difficulties which then existed appear to me
wholly to have vanished. Never has any question come before Parliament
more entirely free from a complication of that nature, or one which the
House has the opportunity of more quietly and calmly considering, than
the question now before them.

I should have been pleased if the right hon. Gentleman had given the
House the testimony of some two or three persons on his own side of the
question. But, as he has not done so, I will trouble the House by
referring to some authorities in support of my own views. I will first
refer to the work of Mr. Campbell, which has already been quoted by the
right hon. Gentleman. It is a very interesting book, and gives a great
deal of information. That writer says--

'The division of authority between the Board of Control and the
Court of Directors, the large number of directors, and the
peculiar system by which measures are originated in the Court,
sent for approval to the Board, then back again to the Court, and
so on, render all deliverances very slow and difficult; and when
a measure is discussed in India, the announcement that it has
been referred to the Court of Directors is often regarded as an
indefinite postponement. In fact, it is evident that (able and
experienced as are many of the individual directors) twenty-four
directors in one place, and a Board of Control in another, are
not likely very speedily to unite in one opinion upon any
doubtful point.'

That, I think, is likely to be the opinion of any man on the Government
of India. There is another authority to which I will refer, Mr. Kaye,
who has also written a very good book. It was actually distributed by
the Court of Directors; I have therefore a right to consider it a fair
representation of their views of what was done, especially as the
Chairman of the Court has given me a copy of the book. Mr. Kaye, in
referring to the double Government which existed in Bengal in 1772,
makes use of these expressions. When I first read them, I thought they
were a quotation from my own speeches:--

'But enlightened as were the instructions thus issued to the
supervisors, the supervision was wholly inadequate to the
requirements of the case. The double Government, as I have shown,
did not work well. It was altogether a sham and an imposture. It
was soon to be demolished at a blow.... The double Government
had, by this time, fulfilled its mission. It had introduced an
incredible amount of disorder and corruption into the State, and
of poverty and wretchedness among the people; it had embarrassed
our finances, and soiled our character, and was now to be openly
recognised as a failure.'

This is only as to Bengal. The following are the words he uses in
respect to the double Government at home:--

'In respect of all transactions with foreign Powers--all matters
bearing upon questions of peace and war--the President of the
Board of Control has authority to originate such measures as he
and his colleagues in the Ministry may consider expedient. In
such cases he acts presumedly in concert with the Secret
Committee of the Court of Directors--a body composed of the
chairman, deputy-chairman, and senior member of the Court. The
Secret Committee sign the despatches which emanate from the
Board, but they have no power to withhold or to alter them. They
have not even the power to record their dissent. In fact, the
functions of the Committee are only those which, to use the words
of a distinguished member of the Court (the late Mr. Tucker), who
deplored the mystery and the mockery of a system which obscures
responsibility and deludes public opinion, could as well be
performed "by a secretary and a seal."'

Further on he says--

'In judging of responsibility, we should remember that the whole
foreign policy of the East India Company is regulated by the
Board of Control; that in the solution of the most vital
questions--questions of peace and war--affecting the finances of
the country, and, therefore, the means of internal improvement,
the Court of Directors have no more power than the mayor and
aldermen of any corporate town. India depends less on the will of
the twenty-four than on one man's caprice--here to-day and gone
to-morrow--knocked over by a gust of Parliamentary uncertainty--
the mistaken tactics of a leader, or negligence of a whipper-in.
The past history of India is a history of revenue wasted and
domestic improvement obstructed by war.'

This is very much what I complain of. I admit the right of the East
India Company to complain of many things done by the Board of Control;
and I am of opinion, that if the House left the two bodies to combat one
another, they would at last come to an accurate perception of what they
both are. The East India Company accused the Board of Control of making
wars and squandering the revenue which the Company collected. But Mr.
Kaye said that Mr. Tucker deplored the mystery and the mockery of a
system which obscured responsibility and deluded public opinion. It is
because of this concealment, of this delusion practised upon public
opinion, of this evasion of public responsibility and Parliamentary
control, that you have a state of things in India which the hon. Member
for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) has described, when he says that the Company
manages the revenues, collects the taxes, and gets from
20,000,000_l_. to 30,000,000_l_. a-year, and nobody knows how
much more. But, whatever it is, such is the system of foreign policy
pursued by the Board of Control--that is to say, by the gentlemen who
drop down there for six or eight or twelve months, never beyond two
years--that, whatever revenues are collected, they are squandered on
unnecessary and ruinous wars, till the country is brought to a state of
embarrassment and threatened bankruptcy. That is the real point which
the House will have to consider.

With regard to some of the details of the Government plan, we should no
doubt all agree: but this question of divided responsibility, of
concealed responsibility, and of no responsibility whatever, that is the
real pith of the matter. The House should take care not to be diverted
from that question. [Mr. Mangles: 'Produce your own plan.'] An hon.
Gentleman has asked me to produce my plan. I will not comply with that
request, but will follow the example of a right hon. Gentleman, a great
authority in this House, who once said, when similarly challenged, that
he should produce his plan when he was called in. I believe that the
plan before the House to-night was concocted by the Board of Control and
the hon. Member for Guildford and his Colleagues I shall, therefore,
confine myself at present to the discussion of that plan. Some persons
are disposed very much (at least I am afraid so) to undervalue the
particular point which I am endeavouring to bring before the House; and
they seem to fancy that it does not much matter what shall be the form
of government in India, since the population of that country will always
be in a condition of great impoverishment and much suffering; and that
whatever is done must be done there, and that after all--after having
conquered 100,000,000 of people--it is not in our power to interfere for
the improvement of their condition. Mr. Kaye, in his book, commences the
first chapters with a very depreciating account of the character of the
Mogul Princes, with a view to show that the condition of the people of
India was at least as unfavourable under them as under British rule. I
will cite one or two cases from witnesses for whose testimony the right
hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) must have respect. Mr. Marshman is a
gentleman who is well known as possessing a considerable amount of
information on Indian affairs, and has, I presume, come over on purpose
to give his evidence on the subject. He was editor of a newspaper which
was generally considered throughout India to be the organ of the
Government; in that newspaper, the _Friend of India_, bearing the
date 1st April, 1852, the following statement appears:--

'No one has ever attempted to contradict the fact that the
condition of the Bengal peasantry is almost as wretched and
degraded as it is possible to conceive--living in the most
miserable hovels, scarcely fit for a dog-kennel, covered with
tattered rags, and unable, in too many instances, to procure more
than a single meal a-day for himself and family. The Bengal ryot
knows nothing of the most ordinary comforts of life. We speak
without exaggeration when we affirm, that if the real condition
of those who raise the harvest, which yields between
3,000,000_l_. and 4,000,000_l_. a-year, was fully
known, it would make the ears of one who heard thereof tingle.'

It has been said that in the Bengal Presidency the natives are in a
better condition than in the other Presidencies; and I recollect that
when I served on the Cotton Committee the evidence taken before it being
confined to the Bombay and Madras Presidencies, it was then said that if
evidence had been taken about the Bengal Presidency it would have
appeared that the condition of the natives was better. But I believe
that it is very much the same in all the Presidencies. I must say that
it is my belief that if a country be found possessing a most fertile
soil, and capable of bearing every variety of production, and that,
notwithstanding, the people are in a state of extreme destitution and
suffering, the chances are that there is some fundamental error in the
government of that country. The people of India have been subjected by
us, and how to govern them in an efficient and beneficial manner is one
of the most important points for the consideration of the House. From
the Report of the Indian Cotton Committee it appears that nearly every
witness--and the witnesses were nearly all servants of the Company--gave
evidence as to the state of destitution in which the cultivators of the
soil lived. They were in such an abject condition that they were obliged
to give 40 or 50 per cent, to borrow money to enable them to put seed
into the ground. I can, if it were necessary, bring any amount of
evidence to prove the miserable condition of the cultivators, and that
in many places they have been compelled to part with their personal
ornaments. Gentlemen who have written upon their condition have drawn a
frightful picture, and have represented the persons employed to collect
the revenue as coming upon the unhappy cultivators like locusts, and
devouring everything. With regard to the consumption of salt, looking at
the _Friend of India_, of April 14, 1853, it appears that it is on
the decline. In the year 1849-50, the consumption was 205,517 tons; in
1850-51, 186,410 tons; and in 1851-2, 146,069 tons. Thus, in the short
period of three years, there has been a decrease in the consumption
amounting to 59,448 tons, which will involve a loss to the revenue of
416,136_l_. [Footnote: The _Friend of India_ was incorrect in
this statement the real decline in the consumption of salt was about
12,000 tons.] Salt is one of those articles that people in India will
use as much of as they can afford, and the diminution in the consumption
appears to me to be a decided proof of the declining condition of the
population, and that must affect adversely the revenue of the Indian
Government. Now there is another point to which the right hon. Gentleman
has slightly alluded; it is connected with the administration of
justice, and I will read from the _Friend of India_ a case
illustrative of the efficiency of the police. The statement is so
extraordinary that it would be incredible but for the circumstance of
its having appeared in such a respectable journal:--

'The affair itself is sufficiently uninteresting. A native
Zemindar had, or fancied he had, some paper rights over
certain lands occupied by a European planter, and, as a
necessary consequence, sent a body of armed retainers to
attack his factory. The European resisted in the same
fashion by calling out his retainers. There was a pitched
battle, and several persons were wounded, if not slain;
while the Darogah, the appointed guardian of the peace, sat
on the roof of a neighbouring hut and looked on with an
interest, the keenness of which was probably not diminished
by the fact of his own immunity from the pains and perils of
the conflict. There has been a judicial investigation, and
somebody will probably be punished, if not by actual
sentence, by the necessary disbursement of fees and
douceurs, but the evil will not be thereby suppressed or
even abated. The incident, trifling as it may appear--and
the fact that it is trifling is no slight evidence of a
disorganised state of society--is an epitome in small type
of our Bengal police history. On all sides, and in every
instance, we have the same picture--great offences, the
police indifferent or inefficient, judicial investigations
protracted till the sufferers regret that they did not
patiently endure the injury, and somebody punished, but no
visible abatement of the crime. The fact is, and it is
beginning at last to be acknowledged everywhere, except
perhaps at home, that Bengal does not need so much a
"reform" or reorganisation of the police, as a police, a
body of some kind, specially organised for the preservation
of order. Why the change is so long postponed, no one, not
familiar with the _arcana_ of Leadenhall-street and
Cannon-row, can readily explain.'

Mr. Marshman uses the expression, 'the incident, trifling as it may
appear;' but I will ask the House if they can conceive a state of
society in a country under the Government of England where a scene of
violence such as has been described could be considered trifling?

The right hon. Gentleman has, while admitting that the want of roads in
some districts of India is a great evil, endeavoured to show that a
great deal has been done to remedy the deficiency, and that on some
roads the mails travel as fast as ten miles an hour. Now, I believe that
if the speed were taken at five miles an hour, it would be nearer the
truth; and I will beg the House to excuse me if I read another extract
from the _Friend of India_ of April 14, 1853:--

'The Grand Trunk, however, is the only road upon which a
good speed has been attained, remarks being attached to all
of the remainder strongly indicative of the want of improved
means of communication. From Shergotty to Gyah, and Gyah to
Patna, for instance, the pace is four miles and a half an
hour; but then "the road is cutcha, and the slightest shower
of rain renders it puddly and impracticable for speedy
transit." From Patna to Benares the official account is the
same, but the rate increases at one stage to five miles and
a half. The southern roads are, however, in the worst
condition, the mails travelling to Jelazore at three miles
an hour, or less than a groom can walk; and even between
Calcutta and Baraset the rate rises to only four miles and a
half an hour, while everywhere we have such notices as "road
intersected by numerous unbridged rivers and nullahs," "road
has not been repaired for these many years," "road not
repaired for years," the "road in so bad a state, and so
much intersected by rivers and nullahs, that no great
improvement in the speed of the mails can be effected." And
yet the surplus Ferry Funds might, one would think, if
economically administered, be sufficient to pay at least for
the maintenance of the roads already in existence. New
roads, we fear, are hopeless until Parliament fixes a
_minimum_, which must be expended on them; and even
then it may be allowed to accumulate, as the Parliamentary
grant for education has done at Madras.'

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the subject of irrigation; and
I hold in my hand an extract from the Report of the Commission which
inquired into the subject. The Report states that--

'The loss of revenue by the famine of 1832-33 is estimated at
least at 1,000,000_l_. sterling; the loss of property at a
far greater amount; of life, at 200,000 or 300,000; and of
cattle, at 200,000 at the lowest, in Guntore alone, besides the
ruin of 70,000 houses. The famine of the Northern Circars in
1833, and that of the north-western provinces of India at a later
period, prove with irresistible force that irrigation in this
country is properly a question, not of profit, but of existence.'

The right hon. Gentleman has also quoted from a Report by Colonel Cotton
on the subject of the embankment of the Kistna. Now, the embankment of
the Kistna has been recommended as far back as the year 1792, and from
that time has been repeatedly brought forward. The whole estimate for it
is but 155,000_l_., and it was not until September, 1852, that the
preliminary operations were commenced. I find this officer stating with
respect to the district of Rajamundry, that if a particular improvement
that had been recommended above twenty years ago had been carried out,
it would have saved the lives of upwards of 100,000 persons who perished
in the famine of 1837. I say that such facts as these are a
justification of stronger language than any in which I have indulged in
reference to the neglect of the Indian Government whether in this House
or out of it. The right hon. gentleman candidly informs us that this
very embankment has been recently stopped by order of the Madras
Government, because the money was wanted for other purposes--the Burmese
war, no doubt. In the year 1849 it was reported that Colonel Cotton
wrote a despatch to the Madras Government, in which, after mentioning
facts connected with the famines, he insisted, in strong and indignant
language, that the improvements should go on. I believe that there was
an allusion in the letter to the awkward look these things would have,
pending the discussions on the Government of India, and I understand
that it was agreed that the original letter, which countermanded the
improvements, should be withdrawn, and that then the remonstrance from
Colonel Cotton should also be withdrawn. A gentleman who has been in the
Company's service, and who has for some time been engaged in
improvements, chiefly in irrigation, writes in a private letter as

'From my late investigations on this subject, I feel convinced
that the state of our communications is the most important
subject which calls for consideration. I reckon that India now
pays, for want of cheap transit, a sum equal to the whole of the
taxes; so that by reducing its cost to a tenth, which might
easily be done, we should as good as abolish all taxes. I trust
the Committees in England are going on well, in spite of the
unbecoming efforts which have been made to circumscribe and quash
their proceedings. Woe be to India, indeed, if this opportunity
is lost! Much will depend upon you--

(the letter was not addressed to myself)--

and others now in England, who know India, and have a single eye
to its welfare. It behoves you to do your utmost to improve this
most critical time, and may God in his mercy overrule all the
efforts of man for its good! What abominations, villanies, and
idiotcies there still are in our system! Is there no hope, no
possibility, of infusing a little fresh blood from some purer
source into these bodies?

(the ruling authorities).

It is quite clear that no radical improvement can take place till
some influences can be applied to stimulate our rulers to more
healthy, wholesome action; health can never be looked for in a
body constituted as the Court of Directors now is; nothing but
torpid disease can be expected as matters now stand.

With respect to the administration of justice, I shall not go at any
length into that subject, because I hope it will be taken up by some
other Gentleman much more competent than myself, and I trust that a
sufficient answer will be given to what has been stated by the right
hon. Gentleman. However, as far as I am able to understand, there
appears to be throughout the whole of India, on the part of the European
population, an absolute terror of coming under the Company's Courts for
any object whatever. Within the last fortnight I have had a conversation
with a gentleman who has seen a long period of service in India, and he
declared it was hopeless to expect that Englishmen would ever invest
their property in India under any circumstances which placed their
interests at the disposal of those courts of justice. That is one reason
why there appears no increase in the number of Europeans or Englishmen
who settle in the interior of India for the purpose of investing their
capital there. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to make an excuse on
the ground that the Law Commission had done nothing. I was not in the
House when the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) brought
forward the Bill of 1833, but I understand it was stated that the Law
Commission was to do wonders; yet now we have the evidence of the right
hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, that the Report of
the Law Commission has ever since been going backwards and forwards,
like an unsettled spirit, between this country and India. Mr. Cameron,
in his evidence, said (I suppose it is slumbering somewhere on the
shelves in the East India House) that the Court of Directors actually
sneered at the propositions of their officers for enactments of any
kind, and that it was evidently their object to gradually extinguish the
Commission altogether. Yet the evidence of Mr. Cameron went to show the
extraordinary complication and confusion of the law and law
administration over all the British dominions in India. The right hon.
Gentleman the President of the Board of Control also referred to the
statistics laid before the public; but I want to know why Colonel Sykes'
statistical tables are not before the House. They are at the India
House; but a journey to Leadenhall-street seems to be as long as one to
India, and one can as soon get a communication by the overland mail as
any information from the India House. What did Colonel Sykes say, with
respect to a subject referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, who had
given the House to suppose that a great deal had been done in respect to
improvements in India? Colonel Sykes stated that in fifteen years, from
1838 to 1852, the average expenditure throughout the whole of India on
public works, including roads, bridges, tanks, and canals, was
299,732_l_. The north-west appeared to be the pet district; and in
1851 the total expenditure was 334,000_l_., of which the north-west
district had 240,000_l_. In 1852 the estimate was 693,000_l_.,
of which the north-west district was to have 492,000_l_., leaving
only 94,000_l_. in 1851, and 201,000_l_. in 1852, for public
works of all kinds in the three Presidencies of Bengal, Madras, and
Bombay, with a population of 70,000,000 souls. The right hon. Gentleman
then referred to the exports from this country, and the increase of
trade with India; and a kindred subject to that was the mode in which
Englishmen settle in India. What I want to show is, that the reason why
so little is done with India by Englishmen is, that there does not exist
in that country the same security for their investments as in almost
every other country in the world. I recollect receiving from Mr. Mackay,
who was sent out by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, a letter
expressing his amazement on finding that in the interior of India an
Englishman was hardly known, unless he now and then made his appearance
as a tax collector. The following Return shows in what small numbers
Europeans resort to India:--

'British-born subjects in India not in the service of the Queen
or the Company:--

Bengal 6,749
Madras 1,661
Bombay 1,596

'In the interior of the country, engaged in agriculture or

Bengal 273
Madras 37
Bombay 7

I cannot believe, if the United States had been the possessors of India,
but that where there are tens of Europeans now in that country there
would have been, not hundreds, but thousands of the people of America.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the exports to India, and wanted to
show how large they were. Certainly they have increased very much,
because they started from nothing at all. Before the opening of the
trade, the Court of Proprietors, by resolution, declared that it was
quite a delusion to suppose it possible to increase the trade with
India. In 1850 the total exports to India from Great Britain and Ireland
were 8,024,000_l_., of which cotton goods alone amounted to
5,220,000_l_., leaving 2,804,000_l_. for the total exports
from Great Britain and Ireland upon all other branches of industry other
than cotton. Now, let the House make a comparison with another country,
one with which a moderately fair comparison might be made. Brazil has a
population of 7,500,000 souls, half of whom are reckoned to be slaves,
yet the consumption of British goods is greater in Brazil, in proportion
to the population, than in India--the former country, with a population
of 7,500,000, taking British goods to the amount of 2,500,000_l_.
If India took but half the quantity of our exports that Brazil did in
proportion to her population, she would take more than five times what
she now takes. Yet Brazil is a country upon which we have imposed the
payment of exorbitant duties, which we have almost debarred from trading
with us by an absurd monopoly in sugar, while India is a country
entirely under our own government, and which, we are told, is enjoying
the greatest possible blessings under the present administration,
compared with what it enjoyed under its former rulers. Our exports to
India in 1814 were 826,000_l_.; in 1832 they were
3,600,000_l_.; in 1843 they were 6,500,000_l_.; and in 1850
they were 8,000,000_l_. India consumes our exports at the rate of
1_s_. 3 _d_. per head; whilst in South America, including the
whole of the slave population, the consumption per head is 8 _s_.
8_d_. These are facts which the right hon. Baronet is bound to pay
serious attention to. For myself, representing, as I do, one of our
great seats of manufacturing industry, I feel myself doubly called upon
to lose no opportunity of bringing such facts before the House,
satisfied as I am that there is no Member of this House so obtuse as not
to comprehend how materially the great manufacturing interests of this
country are concerned in the question--what shall be the future
Government of India?

Another subject requiring close attention on the part of Parliament is
the employment of the natives of India in the service of the Government.
The right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay), in proposing the
Indian Bill of 1833, had dwelt on one of its clauses, which provided
that neither colour, nor caste, nor religion, nor place of birth, should
be a bar to the employment of persons by the Government; whereas, as
matter of fact, from that time to this, no person in India has been so
employed, who might not have been equally employed before that clause
was enacted; and, from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the
President of the Board of Control, that it is proposed to keep up the
covenanted service system, it is clear that this most objectionable and
most offensive state of things is to continue. Mr. Cameron, a gentleman
thoroughly versed in the subject, as fourth member of Council in India,
President of the Indian Law Commission, and of the Council of Education
for Bengal--what does he say on this point? He says--

'The statute of 1833 made the natives of India eligible to all
offices under the Company. But during the twenty years that have
since elapsed, not one of the natives has been appointed to any
office except such as they were eligible to before the statute.
It is not, however, of this omission that I should feel justified
in complaining, if the Company had shown any disposition to make
the natives fit, by the highest European education, for admission
to their covenanted service. Their disposition, as far as it can
be devised, is of the opposite kind.

'When four students (added Mr. Cameron) were sent to London from
the Medical College of Calcutta, under the sanction of Lord
Hardinge, in Council, to complete their professional education,
the Court of Directors expressed their dissatisfaction; and when
a plan for establishing a University at Calcutta, which had been
prepared by the Council of Education, was recommended to their
adoption by Lord Hardinge, in Council, they answered that the
project was premature. As to the Law Commission, I am afraid that
the Court of Directors have been accustomed to think of it only
with the intention of procuring its abolition.'

Under the Act of 1833 the natives of India were declared to be eligible
to any office under the Company. No native has, in the twenty years
which have since elapsed, been appointed to any office in pursuance of
that clause which he might not have held before the Bill passed, or had
it never passed at all. There might not, perhaps, have been so much
reason to complain of this circumstance, had the Government of India
meanwhile shown a disposition to qualify the natives for the covenanted
service; but the fact is that the Government has, on the contrary,
manifested a disposition of a totally opposite character. The House must
be very cautious not to adopt the glossed and burnished statement of the
right hon. Gentleman as exhibiting the real state of things in India;
for it is essential, in the highest degree, that in the present critical
juncture of things the whole truth should be known. The right hon.
Baronet, towards the close of his speech, has gone into the subject of
education, and not so much into that of ecclesiastical establishments in
India, but somewhat into that of religion. Now, with reference to
education, so far as can be gathered from the Returns before the House--
I have sought to obtain Returns of a more specific character, but to no
purpose, having received the usual answer in these matters, that there
was no time for preparing them--but from the Returns we have before us I
find that while the Government has overthrown almost entirely that
native education which had subsisted throughout the country so
universally that a schoolmaster was as regular a feature in every
village as the 'potail' or head man, it has done next to nothing to
supply the deficiency which has been created, or to substitute a better
system. Out of a population of 100,000,000 natives we instruct but
25,000 children; out of a gross revenue of 29,000,000_l_. sterling,
extracted from that population, we spend but 66,000_l_. in their
education. In India, let it be borne in mind, the people are not in the
position with regard to providing for their own education which the
people of this country enjoy, and the education which they have provided
themselves with, the Government has taken from them, supplying no
adequate system in its place. The people of India are in a state of
poverty, and of decay, unexampled in the annals of the country under
their native rulers. From their poverty the Government wrings a gross
revenue of more than 29,000,000_l_. sterling, and out of that
29,000,000_l_., return to them 66,000_l_. per annum for the
purposes of education!

What is our ecclesiastical establishment in India? Three bishops and a
proportionate number of clergy, costing no less than 101,000_l_. a-
year for the sole use of between 50,000 and 60,000 Europeans, nearly
one-half of whom, moreover--taking the army--are Roman Catholics. I
might add, that in India, the Government showed the same discrimination
of which the noble Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell)
seemed to approve so much the other night, for, although they give to
one Protestant bishop 4,000_l_. a-year, with 1,2OO_l_. a-year
more for expenses and a ship at his disposal, and to two other
Protestant bishops between 2,000_l_. and 3,000_l_. a-year,
they give to the Roman Catholic bishop a paltry sum of about
250_l_. a-year. The East India Company are not, perhaps, herein so
much to blame, seeing that they do but follow the example of what is
going on in this country.

There is another question--perhaps the most important of all--the
question of Indian finance, which, somehow or other, the right hon.
Baronet has got over in so very lame a manner, in so particularly
confused a style, that had I not known something of the matter
previously, I should have learnt very little from the right hon.
Baronet's statement. A former Director of the East India Company has, on
this subject, issued a book--of course, in defence of the Company. Here
are two or three facts extracted from this book:--From 1835 to 1851--
sixteen years--the entire net taxation of India has produced
340,756,000_l_.; the expenditure on the Government in the same
period having been 341,676,000_l_.--an amount somewhat in excess of
the revenue. During these sixteen years there has been also expended on
public works of all kinds 5,000,000_l_., and there has been paid,
in dividends, to the proprietors of East India stock,
10,080,000_l_.; making a total expenditure of 356,756,000_l_.
In the same period the Company has contracted loans to the extent of
16,000,000_l_.; every farthing of which has gone to improvements,
the stated extent of which I believe to have been greatly magnified, and
to pay the amiable ladies and gentlemen whose votes return to
Leadenhall-street those immaculate Directors whom the Government seems
so desirous of cherishing. All expenditure for improvements of every
kind, and all dividends to stockholders, have been paid from loans
contracted during the last sixteen years; so that the whole revenue has
been expended, leaving nothing for improvements and nothing for the
Company's dividends. This seems to me a formidable, an alarming state of

The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Indian debt coming upon the people
of this country, expressing the opinion that if the Government of India
were transferred to the Crown--which assuredly it ought to be--the debt
ought so to be transferred. The debt is not in the present Budget,
indeed, but it will certainly come before the House. I have already
referred to a memorable speech of the late Sir Robert Peel on this
subject, in 1842, just after he had come into office, and when, finding
the country left by the Whigs with an Exchequer peculiarly discouraging
to a Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was about to propose that temporary
income-tax which has since become permanent. He said, after referring to
the affairs of Canada and China--

'For the purpose of bringing before the House a full and complete
view of our financial position, as I promised to do, I feel it to
be my duty to refer to a subject which has of late occupied
little attention in the House, but which I think might, with
advantage to the public, have attracted more of their regard--I
refer to the state of Indian finance, a subject which formerly
used to be thought not unworthy of the consideration of this
House. I am quite aware that there may appear to be no direct and
immediate connexion between the finances of India and those of
this country; but that would be a superficial view of our
relations with India which should omit the consideration of this
subject. Depend upon it, if the credit of India should become
disordered, if some great exertion should become necessary, then
the credit of England must be brought forward to its support, and
the collateral and indirect effect of disorders in Indian
finances would be felt extensively in this country. Sir, I am
sorry to say that Indian finance offers no consolation for the
state of finance in this country. I hold in my hand an account of
the finances of India, which I have every reason to believe is a
correct one. It is made up one month later than our own accounts--
to the 5th of May. It states the gross revenue of India, with the
charges on it; the interest of the debt; the surplus revenue, and
the charges paid on it in England; and there are two columns
which contain the net surplus and the net deficit. In the year
ending May, 1836, there was a surplus of 1,520,000_l_. from
the Indian revenue. In the year ending the 5th of May, 1837,
there was a surplus of 1,100,000_l_., which was reduced
rapidly in the year ending May, 1838, to one of 620,000_l_.
In the year ending the 5th of May, 1839, the surplus fell to
29,000_l_.; in the year ending the 5th of May, 1840, the
balance of the account changed, and so far from there being any
surplus, the deficit on the Indian revenue was 2,414,000_l_.
I am afraid I cannot calculate the deficit for the year ending
May, 1841, though it depends at present partly on estimate, at
much less than 2,334,000_l_. The House, then, will bear in
mind, that in fulfilment of the duty I have undertaken, I present
to them the deficit in this country for the current year to the
amount of 2,350,000_l_., with a certain prospect of a
deficit for the next year to the amount of at least
2,470,000_l_., independently of the increase to be expected
on account of China and Affghanistan, and that in India, that
great portion of our Empire, I show a deficit on the two last
years which will probably not be less than 4,700,000_l_.'--
[3 _Hansard_, lxi. 428-9.]

Now, this deficit has in the period since 1842 been growing every year,
with the exception of two years, when, from accidental and precarious
circumstances, a surplus of between 300,000_l_. and
400,000_l_. was made out. The course of deficit has now, however,
been resumed, and there is probably no one in this House or in the
country but the right hon. President of the Board of Control, who does
not perceive that the Burmese war will materially aggravate the amount
of that deficit. Where is this to end? When the Board of Control was
first established, the debt was 8,000,000_l_.; in 1825 it was
25,000,000_l_.; in 1829 it was 34,000,000_l_.; in 1836,
37,000,000_l_.; in 1843, 36,000,000_l_.; in 1849,
44,000,000_l_.; in 1853, 47,000,000_l_.; and now, including
the bond debt at home and the debt in India, it is about
51,000,000_l_. The military expenditure of India has increased
since the last Charter Act from 8,000,000_l_. a-year to more than
12,000,000_l_. a-year, and now forms no less than 56 per cent. of
the whole expenditure. I believe that if the Indian Government would
endeavour to improve the condition of the people by attending to
economic principles, by establishing better means of communication, by
promoting irrigation, and by affording facilities for education, the
Indian population would at once be convinced that there was a feeling of
sympathy entertained towards them on the part of their rulers and
conquerors, and the idea--which I believe prevails very extensively--
that we held India more with the object of extorting taxation than of
benefiting the people, would speedily be removed.

When I come to consider the amount of the revenue, and its pressure upon
the population, I think I can show a state of things existing in India
which cannot be paralleled in any other country in the world. The
evidence of Mr. Davies and Mr. Stewart, collectors in Guzerat, shows
that in that district the actual taxation varies from 60 to 90 per cent.
upon the gross produce of the soil. Mr. Campbell calculates the gross
revenue of India at about 27,000,000_l_.; and Mr. Kaye, a recent
authority, who, I presume, wrote his book at the India House, states
that the gross revenue was 29,000,000_l_. The land revenue is
12,000,000_l_. or 13,000,000_l_.; and although the Government
took, or intended to take, all the rent, it is not half enough for them,
and they are obliged to take as much more from other sources in order to
enable them to maintain their establishments. I mention this fact to
show the enormous expense of the Indian Government, and the
impossibility of avoiding a great and dangerous financial crisis unless
some alteration is made in the present system. Mr. Campbell, speaking of
the Indian revenues under the Mogul Princes, says--

'The value of food, labour, &c., seems to have been much the same
as now--that is, infinitely cheaper than in Europe; and,
certainly, in comparison to the price of labour and all articles
of consumption, the revenue of the Moguls must have been more
effective than that of any modern State--I mean that it enabled
them to command more men and luxuries, and to have a greater

I would ask the House to imagine that all steam engines, and all
applications of mechanical power, were banished from this country; that
we were utterly dependent upon mere manual labour. What would you think
if the Chancellor of the Exchequer, under such circumstances,
endeavoured to levy the same taxation which is now borne by the country?
From one end of India to the other, with very trifling exceptions, there
is no such thing as a steam engine; but this poor population, without a
steam engine, without anything like first-rate tools, are called upon to
bear, I will venture to say, the very heaviest taxation under which any
people ever suffered with the same means of paying it. Yet the whole of
this money, raised from so poor a population, which would in India buy
four times as much labour, and four times as much of the productions of
the country, as it would obtain in England, is not enough to keep up the
establishments of the Government; for during the last sixteen years the
Indian Government has borrowed 16,000,000_l_. to pay the dividends
to the proprietors in England.

The opium question has been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir
C. Wood). I must say I do not know any one connected with China, or at
all acquainted with the subject, who is not of opinion that the opium
revenue is very near its termination. Even the favourite authority of
the President of the Board of Control, Mr. Marshman, declared his
opinion that India was on the verge of a great financial crisis. Whether
the present Chinese Government retains its power, or the insurgents be
successful and a new dynasty be established, the scruple against the
importation of opium into China from India having once been removed, the
transition to the growth of the drug in China is very easy, and there
can scarcely be a doubt that opium will soon be as extensively
cultivated in that country as ever it was in India. This might very soon
produce a loss of 3,000,000_l_. of revenue to the East India Company.
There has already been an annual deficit in the revenues of the East
India Company for the last fifteen years; they have to bear the cost of
a Burmese war; and the annexation of new territory will only bring upon
them an increased charge, for Pegu will probably never repay its
expenses, and yet they have the prospect of losing 3,000,000_l_. of
their revenue within a very few years. Now, what would the Chancellor of
the Exchequer say if the President of the Board of Control came to that
House and proposed to raise a loan upon the credit of this country for
the purpose of maintaining our territory in India? Would it not be
better at once to ascertain whether the principles and policy on which
we have hitherto proceeded have not been faulty? Should we not rather
endeavour to reduce our expenditure, to employ cheaper labour, to
increase the means of communication in India, which would enable us to
dispense with a portion of our troops, and to make it a rule that the
Governor-General should have more honour when he came home, for not
having extended by an acre the territory of our Indian possessions, than
if he had added a province or a kingdom to them?

The plan proposed by the President of the Board of Control appears to me
very closely to resemble that which exists at present. The result, so
far as regards the real question, about which the public are most
interested, is this, that the twenty-four gentlemen who are directors of
the East India Company are, by a process of self-immolation, to be
reduced to fifteen. I think this reduction will be one of the most
affecting scenes in the history of the Government of India. As the East
India Company keep a writer to record their history, I hope they also
keep an artist to give us an historical painting of this great event.
There we shall see the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles), the hon.
Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), one of the hon. Members for the
City of London, and the other directors, meeting together, and looking
much like shipwrecked men in a boat casting lots who should be thrown
overboard. To the fifteen directors who are to remain, three others are
to be added, and the result will be that, instead of having twenty-four
gentlemen sitting in Leadenhall-street, to manage the affairs in India,
there will be eighteen. The present constituency is so bad that nothing
the President of the Board of Control can do can make it worse; but as
that right hon. Gentleman finds it impossible to make it better, he lets
the constituency remain as it was. The right hon. Baronet proposes that
the Crown should appoint six members of the Board who have been at least
ten years in India, so that there may at all events be that number of
gentlemen at the Board lit for the responsible office in which they are
placed. But this is an admission that the remaining twelve members of
the Board are not fit for their office. They have two ingredients--the
one wholesome, the other poisonous; but there are two drops of poison to
one of wholesome nutriment. The right hon. Gentleman mixes them
together, and then wants Parliament and the country to believe that he
has proposed a great measure.

As regards the right hon. Gentleman's speech, I must say that I have
never heard so great a one--I mean as to length--where the result, so
far as the real thing about which people wish to know, was so little.
The twelve gentlemen appointed by the present constituency are degraded
already by the right hon. Gentleman's declaration, that they are not
elected in a satisfactory manner, and that they are not fit persons for
the government of India. They are, in fact, bankers and brewers, and men
of all sorts, in the City of London, who find it their interest to get
into the Court of Directors--no matter by what channel--because it adds
to the business of their bank, or whatever else may be the undertaking
in which they are engaged; but who have no special qualification for the
government of India. If the Government thinks it right to have six good
directors, let them abolish the twelve bad ones. Then it appears that
the Secret Department is to be retained. Speaking of this, Mr. Kaye,
quoting the authority of Mr. Tucker, a distinguished director, said it
was no more than a secretary and a seal. Next comes a most extraordinary
proposition. Hitherto the directors have undergone all the hardship of
governing India for 300_l_. a-year; but the right hon. Gentleman
now proposes to raise their wages by 4_l_. per week each. I must
say, that if this body is to be salaried at all, and is not to have the
profit of the patronage enjoyed by the present Government, nothing can
be worse economy than this, with a view to obtaining a body which shall
command the respect, and have the amount of influence, requisite for
conducting the Government of India. Sixteen of the directors, receiving
500_l_. a-year each--why, they would have to pay their clerks much
more!--and the chairman and the deputy-chairman 1,000_l_. a-year
each. The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme seems to bear the
marks of--I am almost afraid to say what; but he seems to have tried to
please every one in framing his great proposition, and at last has
landed the House in a sort of half measure, which neither the East India
Company nor India wants. If I had made a speech such as the right hon.
Gentleman has delivered, and believed what he said, I would leave the
Indian Government as it is; but if I thought it necessary to alter the
Government, I would do so on principle essentially. The right hon.
Gentleman is afraid of bringing the Government of India under the
authority of the Crown. What, I should like to know, would have been
done if India had been conquered by the troops of the Crown? We should
then never have sent some thirty men into a bye-street of London to
distribute patronage and govern a great country. The Government of India
would then have been made a department of the Government, with a Council
and a Minister of State. But it appears that the old system of hocus-
pocus is still to be carried on.

This is no question of Manchester against Essex--of town against
country--of Church against Nonconformity. It is a question in which we
all have an interest, and in which our children may be more deeply
interested than we are ourselves. Should anything go wrong with the
finances, we must bear the burden; or should the people of India by our
treatment be goaded into insurrection, we must reconquer the country, or
be ignominiously driven out of it. I will not be a party to a state of
things which might lead to the writing of a narrative like this on the
history of our relations with that empire. Let the House utterly
disregard the predictions of mischief likely to result from such a
change in the Government of India as that which I advocate. When the
trade was thrown open, and the Company was deprived of the monopoly of
carrying, they said the Chinese would poison the tea. There is nothing
too outrageous or ridiculous for the Company to say in order to prevent
the Legislature from placing affairs on a more honest footing. I object
to the Bill, because--as the right hon. Gentleman admitted--it
maintains a double Government. In the unstatesmanlike course which the
right hon. Gentleman is pursuing, he will, no doubt, be especially
backed by the noble Lord the Member for London. I only wish that some of
the younger blood in the Cabinet might have had their way upon this
question. Nothing can induce me to believe, after the evidence which is
before the public, that this measure has the approbation of an united
Cabinet. It is not possible that thirteen sensible gentlemen, who have
any pretensions to form a Cabinet, could agree to a measure of this
nature. I am more anxious than I can express that Parliament should
legislate rightly in this matter. Let us act so at this juncture that it
may be said of us hereafter--that whatever crimes England originally
committed in conquering India, she at least made the best of her
position by governing the country as wisely as possible, and left the
records and traces of a humane and liberal sway.

I recollect having heard the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton
(Viscount Palmerston) deliver in this House one of the best speeches I
ever listened to. On that occasion the noble Lord gloried in the proud
name of England, and, pointing to the security with which an Englishman
might travel abroad, he triumphed in the idea that his countrymen might
exclaim, in the spirit of the ancient Roman, _Civis Romanus sum_.
Let us not resemble the Romans merely in our national privileges and
personal security. The Romans were great conquerors, but where they
conquered, they governed wisely. The nations they conquered were
impressed so indelibly with the intellectual character of their masters,
that, after fourteen centuries of decadence, the traces of civilisation
are still distinguishable. Why should not we act a similar part in
India? There never was a more docile people, never a more tractable
nation. The opportunity is present, and the power is not wanting. Let us
abandon the policy of aggression, and confine ourselves to a territory
ten times the size of France, with a population four times as numerous
as that of the United Kingdom. Surely that is enough to satisfy the most
gluttonous appetite for glory and supremacy. Educate the people of
India, govern them wisely, and gradually the distinctions of caste will
disappear, and they will look upon us rather as benefactors than as
conquerors. And if we desire to see Christianity, in some form,
professed in that country, we shall sooner attain our object by setting
the example of a high-toned Christian morality, than by any other means
we can employ.

* * * * *




_From Hansard_.
[After the suppression of the Indian mutiny, Lord Palmerston's
Government determined to introduce a Bill the object of which was to
place the possessions of the East India Company under the direct
authority of the Crown. This Bill was introduced by Lord Palmerston on
February 12. But the Government fell a few days afterwards, on the
Conspiracy Bill, and Lord Palmerston's Bill was withdrawn. On March 26
the new Government introduced their own Bill, which was known as the
India Bill No. 2. The chief peculiarity of this Bill was that five
members in the proposed council of eighteen should be chosen by the
constituencies of the following cities:--London, Manchester, Liverpool,
Glasgow, and Belfast. The scheme was unpopular, and Lord Russell
proposed that it should be withdrawn, and that resolutions should be
passed in a Committee of the whole House, the acceptance of which might
prove a guide to the proceedings of the Government. The suggestion was
accepted by Mr. Disraeli, and in consequence India Bill No. 3 was
brought in, and read a second time on June 24.]

I do not rise for the purpose of opposing the second reading of this
Bill--on the contrary, if any hon. Member thinks proper to divide the
House upon it, I shall vote with the noble Lord. I must say, however,
that there are many clauses in the Bill to which I entertain serious
objections. Some of them will, I hope, be amended as the Bill passes
through Committee; but if that is not the case, I can only hope that, as
the Bill of 1853 is abandoned in 1858, within the next five years the
House of Commons will take some further steps with regard to this
question, with the view of simplifying the Government of India as
carried on in England. I wish to take this opportunity of making some
observations upon the general question of Indian government, which it
might have been out of place to have made during the discussion of the
various Resolutions which have been agreed to by the House.

I think it must have struck every hon. Member that, while two
Governments have proposed great changes with regard to the government of
India, no good case has really been made out for such changes in the
speeches of the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman by whom the two
India Bills have been introduced. That opinion, I know, will meet with a
response from two or three hon. Gentlemen on this (the Opposition) side
of the House. It occurred to me when the noble Lord at the head of the
late Government (Viscount Palmerston) introduced his Bill--and I made
the observation when the present Chancellor of the Exchequer brought
forward his measure--that if the House knew no more of the question than
they learned from the speeches of the Ministers, they could not form any
clear notion why it was proposed to overthrow the East India Company.
The hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles) has expressed a similar
opinion several times during the progress of these discussions. The
right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham) has also said that the
East India Company was being dealt with in a manner in which animals
intended for sacrifice were treated in Eastern countries and in ancient
times,--they were decked with garlands when they were led out for
immolation. That is true; but it does not therefore follow that the
House is not quite right in the course it is taking. It must be clear
that the moment the House of Commons met this Session there was only one
course which the then Government could adopt with reference to this
question. A feeling existed throughout the country--I believe I may say
it was universal--that for a long time past the government of India had
not been a good government; that grave errors--if not grievous crimes--
had been committed in that country. I think the conscience of the nation
had been touched on this question, and they came by a leap, as it were--
by an irrepressible instinct--to the conclusion that the East India
Company must be abolished, and that another and, as the nation hoped, a
better government should be established for that country. There was a
general impression, arising from past discussion in Parliament, that the
industry of the people of India had been grievously neglected; that
there was great reason for complaint with respect to the administration
of justice; and that with regard to the wars entered into by the Indian
Government, there was much of which the people of England had reason to
be ashamed.

It has been said by some that these faults are to be attributed to the
Board of Control; but I have never defended the Board of Control. I
believe everything the East India Company has said of the Board of
Control--to its discredit; and I believe that everything the Board of
Control has said to the discredit of the East India Company to be
perfectly true. There was also a general impression that the expenditure
of the East India Government was excessive; and that it had been proved
before more than one Committee that the taxes imposed upon the people of
India were onerous to the last degree. These subjects were discussed in
1853, at which time, in my opinion, the change now proposed ought to
have been effected. Subsequently the calamitous events of 1857 and 1858
occurred; and the nation came at once to the conclusion--a conclusion
which I think no disinterested person could resist--that it was
impossible that India and its vast population could any longer be
retained under the form of government which has existed up to this
period. If, then, a change was inevitable, the question was how it
should be accomplished and what should be done. I think it is quite
clear that the course the noble Lord has pursued is right--namely, that
of insisting that during this present Session, and without delay, the
foundation of all reform in the government of India should be commenced
at home, because we cannot take a single step in the direction of any
real and permanent improvement in the Indian Government until we have
reformed what I may call the basis of that Government by changes to be
effected in this country.

What, then, is the change which is proposed, and which ought to be made?
For my own part, in considering these questions, I cannot altogether
approve the Bill now before the House. What we want with regard to the
government of India is that which in common conversation is called 'a
little more daylight.' We want more simplicity and more responsibility.
I objected to the scheme originally proposed by the Chancellor of the
Exchequer because it did not provide these requisites; that scheme so
closely resembled the system we were about to overthrow that I could not
bring myself to regard it favourably. In considering the subject before
Parliament met, I asked myself this question:--'Suppose there had never
been an East India Company or any such corporation,--suppose India had
been conquered by the forces of the Crown, commanded by generals acting
under the authority of the Crown,--how should we then have proposed to
govern distant dominions of vast extent, and with a population that
could scarcely be counted?' I believe such a system of government as has
hitherto existed would never have been established; and if such a system
had not existed I am convinced that no Minister would have proposed the
plan now submitted to the House.

I think the government would have been placed in the hands of a
Secretary of State, with his secretaries, clerks, and staffs of
officers, or of a small Board, so small as to prevent responsibility
from being diffused and divided, if not actually destroyed. I suspect
that the only reason why the Country or Parliament can be disposed to
approve the large Council now proposed is, that they have seen something
like a Council heretofore, formerly of twenty-four, and subsequently of
eighteen members, and I believe there is something like timidity on the
part of the House, and probably on the part of the Government, which
hinders them from making so great a change as I have suggested to the
simple plan which would probably have existed had no such body as the
East India Company ever been established. I am willing to admit candidly
that if the government of India at home should be so greatly simplified
it will be necessary that very important changes should be made in the
government in India. I agree with the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) that the
representatives of the Crown in India must have power as well as
responsibility; that they should be enabled to deal with emergencies,
and to settle the hundred or the thousand questions that must arise
among 100,000,000 of people, without sending 10,000 miles to this
country to ask questions which ought to be settled at once by some
competent authority on the spot.

There are two modes of governing India, and the hon. Member for
Leominster (Mr. Willoughby), who has been a very distinguished servant
of the East India Company, has publicly expressed his views upon this
question. I have been very much struck with a note attached to the
published report of his speech, referring to the multifarious duties
discharged by the Directors of the East India Company. That note states

'A despatch may be received, containing 60, or 100, or 200 cases;
and the despatch, in itself voluminous, is rendered more so by
collections attached to it, containing copies of all former
correspondence on the subject or subjects, and of all letters
written thereon by various local officers, and all papers
relating thereto. There has not long since been in the Revenue
Department a despatch with 16,263 pages of collections. In 1845
there was one in the same Department with 46,000 pages, and it
was stated that Mr. Canning, some years since in the House of
Commons, mentioned a military despatch to which were attached
13,511 pages of collections.'

The hon. Gentleman did not say in his speech that anybody at the India
House ever read all these things. It was quite dear that if the
Directors were to pretend to go through a waggon-load of documents
coming to Leadenhall-street every year it must be only a pretence, and
if they want to persuade the House that they give attention to only one-
tenth part of these papers they must think the House more credulous than
it is in matters of this kind. That is one mode of governing India. It
is the mode which has been adopted and the mode which has failed. If we
are to have the details settled here, I am perfectly certain we can have
no good government in India. I have alluded on a former occasion to a
matter which occurred in a Committee upstairs. A gentleman who was
examined stated that he had undertaken to brew a wholesome beer, and
quite as good as that exported for the supply of the troops, somewhere
in the Presidency of Madras, for one-sixth of the price paid by
Government for that exported to India from England; that the experiment
was completely successful; that the memorandum or record with regard to
it was sent home, no doubt forming part of the thousands of pages to
which reference has been made; and that it was buried in the heap in
which it came, because for years nothing was heard of a proposition
which would have saved the Government a very large amount annually and
opened a new industry to the population and capital of India. I believe
this system of government is one of delay and disappointment--one,
actually, of impossibility--one which can by no means form a complete
theory of government as held by any persons in the House; and that the
other, the simpler system, which I wish the House to undertake, would be
one of action, progress, and results, with regard to India, such as we
have never yet seen and never can see until there is a complete
simplification of the Indian Government in this country.

I come now to the question--and it is for this question that I have
wished principally to address the House--if at any time we obtain the
simplicity which I contend for with regard to the government at home,
what changes will it be desirable to make in the government in India?
And I would make one observation at this point, that in all the
statements and arguments which I hope to use, I beg the House to believe
that I use them with the greatest possible deference, with the feeling
that this is a question upon which no man is at all entitled to
dogmatize, that it is a vast question which we all look at as one we are
scarcely capable of handling and determining. I submit my views to the
House because I have considered the subject more or less for many years,
and I believe I am actuated by the simple and honest desire of
contributing something to the information and knowledge of Parliament
with regard to its duty upon this great question.

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 30,000,000_l_. a-year
to govern India, and the gross revenue being somewhere about
30,000,000_l_., 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
60,000,000_l_.; 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
30,000,000_l_. 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 25,000,000_l_. Hon.
Gentlemen must not compare 25,000,000_l_. of taxation in India with
60,000,000_l_. 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 25,000,000_l_. would
purchase as many days' labour in India as 300,000,000_l_. 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 2_d_. a-day, they could not expect as much revenue from him
as if it were 2_s_. 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
300,000,000_l_., 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 60,000,000_l_. a-year, would he get
10,000,000_l_.? 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

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

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

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