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The salaries of officers to be regulated by the work to be done, without reference to individuals or classes to be employed, further than is necessary, with a view to having good work, including in the term as respects civil government the maintenance and security of the sovereignty of England; the consequent employment of native agency more and more extensively, with liberal, though (to Europeans comparatively) moderate allowances; the restriction of all high-paid European functionaries (I include all judges, magistrates, and collectors of districts) to matters necessarily requiring their interference ; the full recognition of the absurdity of attempting to administer the affairs of a million of civilised men by the direct agency of one or two individuals, and those foreigners; and the practical application of the principle that we cannot really have a civil government excepting through the co-operation of the people ; the gradual exclusion of servants temporarily deputed from England from all functions not necessarily confined to them with the view of maintaining the sovereignty of England; the more general employment of individuals in place of collective bodies; the immediate exemption of the local governments, especially the supreme Government, from responsibility for matters of detail which they cannot usefully, and do not actually, administer; the clear definition of responsibilities actually belonging to all classes of public functionaries; the appointment of a Governor-General and Council for all India, with powers and duties so defined as to make him such in reality, not in name; the union of the armies of the three presidencies under one head; the transfer of the whole to the Crown; the substitution of a part of the Royal Navy for the Bombay marine or the Indian Navy; the better regulation of the supply of stores required by the Indian Governments; a stricter check upon expenditure in public works; the better definition of the powers of Direction as distinguished from those of Control; the exclusion of the controlling authorities from all patronage, direct or indirect.
I should suppose it likely that the purposes of economy would be promoted by the employment of the ordnance and other national establishments, in all business connected with the Indian Army, which has to be done in England in their several departments. The island of Ceylon ought, I should think, to be part of the Indian Government; St. Helena should be a national concern; and, of course, the revenues taken from the people of India in virtue of our national sovereignty should be regarded as belonging to the public purse of England, so that every saving in our territorial charges may be considered a national saving; and every waste of our territorial resources a waste of public money.
Of all the British rulers during the period it was perhaps Mountstuart Elphinstone who approached most nearly the acceptance of the policy in its ideal which has been expounded above by M. Chailley. He is remembered by Indians of the present day with greater feelings of affection than perhaps any other British ruler of India. Like all writers in the service of the East India Company he came out to India at a very early age. The early years of his service were spent in the difficult task of diplomacy at Nagpur and Poona during those last eventful days of the Mahratta Confederacy and in still more strenuous duties on the field of battle. He took part in the battle of Assaye as an interpreter on Arthur Wellesley's staff, and was told by his chief that he had missed his vocation and should have been a soldier. He was Resident at Poona during the anxious years leading up to the final overthrow of the Peshwa's power. Indeed, he remained at his post until the last possible moment in face of the gravest personal danger, and while riding to join the British troops at Kirkee looked back on the flames rising from the Residency which had already been set on fire. In the battle itself he showed the greatest resource and courage, and was to a large extent responsible for the victory that ensued. In the House of Commons Canning paid a great tribute to his skill. Mr. Elphinstone (a name distinguished in the literature as well as the politics in the East) exhibited on that trying occasion military courage and skill which, though valuable accessories to diplomatic talents, we are not entitled to require as necessary qualifications for civil employment. On that, and not on that occasion only, but on many others in the course of this singular campaign, Mr. Elphinstone displayed talents and resources which would have rendered him no mean general in a country where generals are of no mean excellence and reputation."
At the conclusion of the war Elphinstone became Commissioner at Poona, and in 1819 was appointed by Canning Governor of Bombay in preference to Munro and Malcolm. It may seem strange that the two Indian races, the Sikh and the Mahratta, who have in their time offered the
most sturdy opposition to the British troops, have so soon after defeat become law-abiding citizens of the British Empire. The peaceful acceptance of British rule by the Sikhs was due mainly to the wisdom and statesmanship of Henry Lawrence, which has been discussed in an earlier volume. And “the rapidity and apparent ease with which the British rule was established over a country of wild valleys and precipitous mountains inhabited by a race of [Mahratta] warriors ” was due in the main to Elphinstone. The principles which guided his policy in dealing with a problem demanding so much firmness and sympathy will be explained in the following extract taken from the writings of Mr. Forrest. That Elphinstone could be firm when the occasion demanded it is also shown by an incident also referred to by Mr. Forrest. A plot was engineered by a few Brahmans to restore the Peshwa. Elphinstone at once showed himself a man of iron and ordered the ringleaders to be blown from the cannon's mouth. The Governor of Bombay, while approving of the action, suggested that Elphinstone should ask for an indemnity, but he refused. "If I have done wrong," he said, “I ought to be punished; if I have done right, I don't want any act of indemnity."
The esteem with which Elphinstone was held by the Indians over whom he ruled is shown by the address which was offered by them on his departure. In addition, a sum of £20,000 was subscribed by the Indian community, which was utilised for the foundation of professorships in his memory. The result was that, as a beginning, lectures were given by English scholars brought out to India for that purpose in the town hall of the city; but the fund was eventually diverted to the support of a college which still bears the revered name of Elphinstone and in which have been trained some of the most accomplished and publicspirited Indians of recent times. No more fitting monument could have been erected in honour of one of the most farseeing statesmen who have ruled in India.
Mountstuart Elphinstone and his Policy Source.—(i) Letter from Mr. Canning to the Court of Directors.,
Dated September 21, 1818. (Parliamentary Papers.) The extraordinary zeal and ability which has been displayed by so many of the Company's servants, civil and military, in the course of the late brilliant and complicated war, and the peculiar situation in which the results of that war have placed the affairs of your presidency in Bombay, appear to me to constitute a case in which a diversion from the general practice in favour of your own service might be at once becoming and expedient.
It further appeared to me that the compliment to your servants would be the more distinguished if suggested by a previous declaration of the readiness of the King's Government to concur in such a choice, should the Court of Directors think proper to propose it.
To have coupled such a declaration with the name of any one individual would have been to expose the motives of it to misconstruction. To have named none would have been to retain altogether undiminished the power of objecting to any individual nomination.
The gentlemen2 whose names I have mentioned have been selected by me as conspicuous examples of desert in the various departments of your service, and in that scene of action which has been most immediately under our observation. I mean no disparagement to others whose eminent qualities may stand fairly in competition with theirs; and I may add that there is but one of the three with whom I have the honour of a personal acquaintance.
On whomever your preference shall fall, it will always be a satisfaction to me to have had this opportunity of recording not only my admiration of the talents and conduct of those gentlemen whose names I have specified, but the high and just estimation in which I hold the general merit and character of your servants.
Source.—(ii)" Official Writings of Mountstuart Elphinstone." Edited
by G. W. Forrest. (Richard Bentley & Son.) Mountstuart Elphinstone's success as an administrator was chiefly due to the fact that he saw that political institutions and social usages which had lasted for centuries could not be entirely devoid of merit. His great endeavour in the civil administration
1 The occasion was the necessity of appointing a Governor of Bombay.
2 Mountstuart Elphinstone, John Malcolm, Thomas Munro.
was "to show the people that they are to expect no change, but in the better administration of their former laws.” He felt that not only the privileges, but even the prejudices of the people ought to be respected. He wrote to the Governor-General :
It is, however, to be remembered that even just government will not be a blessing if at variance with the habits and character of a people.” Mountstuart Elphinstone knew that foreign dominion must ever be a hardship, and the most that conquerors can do is to take care that the yoke presses as lightly as possible, and that it galls at the fewest points. The Marquis of Hastings left him the choice of giving the Raja of Satara a jahagir or a small sovereignty, and he adopted the latter course, for he felt the importance “ of having for part of the Peshwa's subjects a government which could afford them service in their own
The re-establishment of the Satara Raja in some measure reconciled the old Mahratta chiefs to the destruction of the more modern authority of the Peshwa. The English were no longer fighting against the House of Sivaji, but against a successful Mayor of the Palace. Many of the old families, let it be recorded to their credit, resolved to share the fortunes of their fallen prince, but the majority gave in their allegiance to their conquerors. To preserve the old families from destruction, to maintain their influence, was one of Mr. Elphinstone's first cares.
He saw that the nobles of the Deccan were not, like the chiefs of a Muhammadan Government, foreigners to the people, but they were of the same nation and religion, and the descendants of those who had been their leaders since they rose to independence. He also saw that the Muhammadans in their most powerful days never attained complete success in taking the place of the local princes, and in substituting their own for native law and organisation, and he tried to avoid, as far as possible, attempting what the Muhammadans had failed to do.
The suppression of rebellion was accompanied by a settlement of the land revenue. The system introduced did not essentially differ from the comparatively patriarchal scheme of management of Nana Farnavis, by which the agents of the Government settled directly with the people. The advantage of the rayatwari system is that it enables us to know the rayats, and them to be acquainted with us. The abolition of the farming system of Baji Rao, by which districts were rented to contractors, removed many grievances. Mr. Elphinstone felt that many novelties must accompany every revolution, and he tried to limit the number as much as possible. He ordered the collectors to administer the Government without the restraint of any regulations but those which they found established.” He did all that lay in his power to revive the public spirit which