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be a population "intelligente et éclairée" [Bravos], and ought to have a share in the public business and in the control of the finances. "Let us form " (peroration this) "a committee of action, and summon none but people dont les lumirèes et le caratere soient une garantie pour nous. And let me tell you that nothing will be easier; I speak before an assembly composed of the élite of the Mauritian population." A fortunate nay, an ideal island this, where the élite represents the whole country, French, English, Indian, Arab, Chinese, and Malagasy; where, too, a member of the élite can assure it that between it and the great majority of the population there is a complete consensus of opinion.
hundred. Will the whites submit to this majority, as elective institutions would require them? Is it not better that the crown should continue to govern than that an electorate composed mainly of Indians, Chinese, and Arabs, who must certainly be in the majority unless the franchise granted be founded not on property but on educational qualification, should govern?
the usual course of the proceedings was broken by a busy barrister, whose acquaintance we have not yet made. This gentleman announced himself as the champion of the Indian element, and proceeded to remark that prejudice of color was far more burning (brulante) than people imagined; a delicate subject, whereof he would endeavor to treat without giving offence. At this point, however, the Indian champion was hooted down; and he withdrew, announcing that he would continue the opposition that he had begun.
The Committee, however, worked steadily on, and held a second meeting in October, 1882. There were a good many notaries and attorney's clerks in attendance, and a few Arabs; but the lower orders were almost entirely absent. The bold orator of the Council again opened the proceedings, as on the former occasion, with a temperate speech. He ridiculed Committee of Initiative and Committee the notion of anxiety at an Indian supremof Action were accordingly nominated, acy, "the Asiatic spectre " (as it is called), and set to work at once. But meanwhile and said that those Indians who were the general ardor was a little damped by qualified should be placed on the electoral the appearance of two letters in the local roll. Then followed the first legal genpress, written by the senior unofficial tleman, who spoke with similar generosity member of Council, a gentleman of great in regard to the Indians. Here, however, ability, weight, and experience-in fact, the Nestor of the Council. The island, he urged, is extremely prosperous and contented. Perfect harmony reigns between all classes; our trade and finances are both in most satisfactory condition. Why disturb all this? How can we have elective institutions in a colony containing a multitude of races with no bond of nationality, or patriotism, or religion, and differing in manners, customs, language, color, and even dress? Look at Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Réunion. In 1866 the French colonial minister consulted Then our old friend the chaleureux disthe Councils of those islands as to the courser came forward, and was received propriety of introducing an elective ele- with rounds of applause. The worthy ment; whereto the Councils replied that gentleman was for some time unable to such an innovation would only separate speak for emotion, and was compelled to the population into two bitterly hostile begin with an apology for his weakness. camps, and that it would be better for the He again dealt, in his well-known chacrown to continue to hold the balance of leureux fashion, with the claims of the power between the incongruous elements. Indians and the absurd fear of their The colonial minister agreed, and the preponderance in the country. His sencolonies flourished. But in 1871 Gam-timents towards the Indians were betta introduced universal suffrage, which generous as those of the preceding speakhas led to the effacement of the respect- ers; a fact which we beg readers carefully able classes, the desertion of capital, the to note. most disastrous legislation, general demoralization, and even bloodshed. Look, too, at the following figures. In 1848 our Indian male population numbered forty nine thousand; it now numbers, in spite of epidemics, one hundred and fifty-one thousand. The general population contained in 1848 fifty-five thousand six hundred males; it has increased in the same period to but fifty-seven thousand three
The ultimate outcome of all this oratory was a petition, signed by three thousand three hundred and twenty-nine persons, praying for a reconstitution of the Council, with the proposal that it should be composed of ten official, ten nominated, and ten elected members. The grievances of the country and the powerlessness of the unofficial members were set forth in moving terms, and a whole scheme of re
The acting governor, Mr. Napier Broome, had hitherto wisely abstained from expression of opinion; but he now gave his views clearly as to the causes and meaning of the reform movement, in a despatch to Lord Derby :
It will be seen that the meeting at which the position was considered was numerous, influential, and orderly. . . . It must be allowed that its promoters, with a considerable body of their followers, have shown themselves well fitted to take part in public affairs; and should doubt or objection arise as to the proposed change, it will certainly not be grounded on any apprehension that the "planters, landholders, members of the learned professions, and merchants," by whom the petition is supported, are deficient in political capacity. If it were a question only of these classes, or if those who now came forward stood at the head of an ordinary population from which they themselves had sprung, and the wants and wishes of which they might be presumed to interpret, Mauritius, I have no hesitation in saying, would long ago have emerged from the condition of a Crown Colony.
form, cut and dried, with even the prop- | The extraordinary richness and prosperity of erty qualifications for future voters, was Mauritius, and its long settled law and civilizacarefully drawn out, the whole being tion, have nourished an island aristocracy signed by our friend the chaleureux ora- which is perhaps without example in any country of similar extent for its numbers, its tor, as reporter to the Committee. activity of mind. social refinement, and its intelligence and Our planters have never been ruined by events, nor are they, as in some other sugar-growing Colonies, an absentee class. As a rule they live on their estates, and many of them belong to families of old date, amongst whom the soil of the island has for generations been held and passed under the French code. Our merchants trade on a great scale with many parts of the world, and are men of high commercial ability and standing. Our Bar is equalled in few English colonies, in most of which gentlethe Courts, and attorney's and barrister's men are locally admitted to practice before business is done by the same person. In Mauritius, the attorney and the barrister are advocate can practise before our Superior as sharply defined as at Westminster, and no Court who is not also qualified to practise before the Imperial Courts of Judicature. The medical profession here is equally well manned, not by practitioners who emigrated because they failed to make their way in England, but by gentlemen of island families, who have been sent to Europe in their youth to be educated at the schools of London, Paris, and Edinburgh. As for the local press, But, as your Lordship knows, the matter it is enough to say that Port Louis boasts rests upon a different basis. We have here to deal with 360,000 people divided into half-seven daily journals, a number significant of its heterogeneous population, and not equalled, a-dozen races, between which - however they I believe, in any Colonial town. These newsmay dwell in harmony- there is, as has been said, "no bond of nationality, religion, and papers are carried on in an island cut off patriotism, and who differ equally in manners, mail, or of any chance vessel) from the rest of (except on the day of the arrival of the monthly customs, language, and even dress." There is no one entitled to speak in the name of the the world; and have thus to subsist on local inhabitants of this Colony. The planter may of the Government, which, as may be sup- that is to say, mainly on the doings speak for the 300 owners of sugar estates, posed, are sharply watched and criticised. who form the leading interest of the island; the English or Scotch merchant for the half-bitions of this busy, bustling upper-class secdozen British firms which are the channel of a great portion of its commerce; the Creole gentleman for an "upper thousand" of his class; and the official for a bureaucracy, 750 strong. The shopkeeper or employé, of blood wholly or partially European, may interpret for their respective sections of their community, which may number about 2,000 each; the eight or nine hundred Arab traders may have common knowledge of what is suited to their wants; and the Chinese retailers, a very isolated section, may know their own affairs. None of these classes represents what I may call the aboriginal lower class of the island, the 28,000 male adult descendants of the slaves of former times; still less do they represent the main factor of the population, the 250,000 people of Indian race.
To satisfy the political aspirations and amtion of our society, there are only the eight unofficial seats in the present Council. The Crown appoints to these, and they are nominally tenable during its pleasure. As a mat ter of fact, a Councillor is never removed, and the present unofficial members have held their seats for periods varying from a quarter of a that objections to such an inelastic Council century to thirteen years. It is no wonder should arise among the busy, bustling upper section above described.
As regards the overruling of the unofficial members, Mr. Broome pointed out that out of one hundred and thirty-one laws, many of them of great importance, passed by the Council within the previous five years, one hundred and twenty-five had been passed without any adverse un. official vote; while of the remaining six, three received one adverse vote; two, two adverse votes; and one, four adverse
tion of Mauritius" (so ran the despatch), "numbering about two hundred and fifty thousand, out of a total number of three hundred and sixty thousand, has immigrated into the island with the sanction of the Indian government, in full reliance upon that protection which is secured to them under the existing Constitution." That was sufficient reason for refusing to alter it.
votes, the unofficial members numbering into the Council. "The Indian populaeight. Finally, on grounds easily deducible from the foregoing despatch, he strongly deprecated any step in the direction of elective institutions; his chief reason being that the granting of the petition would give the government of the Colony first into the hands of an oligarchy of planters, journalists, and lawyers; or, the vote of the Creole and Indian population becoming predominant, give the electoral power to an ignorant class easily preyed on by demagogues. In either case, the embitterment of class and color feeling would be certain. Briefly, the only recommendation he could make was that the unofficial side of the Council should be renovated by the retirement and renomination of the members en masse every five or seven years, or at the rate of one or two annually.
So ended the first stage of the movement. Meanwhile, however, a great change had taken place at Government House. Mr. Napier Broome was promoted to an Australian colony, and Sir John Pope Hennessy took his place. This latter gentleman has done much in the course of his service to promote divers reforms in different colonies, with varying results. Perhaps his most notable success lay in his procuring the abolition of the representative assemblies in the Windward Islands, and his most notable failure in an attempt after the same end in Barbados, which resulted in a rising of the blacks against the whites in that island. In fact, Sir John has generally been more popular with the black or colored section than with the whites in every colony that he has yet governed. Nevertheless, his wellknown Liberal opinions were sufficient to encourage the reform leaders to renew their efforts; and accordingly, in December, 1883, six months after Sir John's arrival, the matter was again brought forward, this time in the Council itself. Two resolutions the one condemning the then existing Constitution; the other claiming as indispensable a Council of twenty-one members, whereof at least twothirds should be unofficial - were duly moved, talked over at great length, and passed the first by nine votes to six, the second by eight votes to seven. Sir John Pope Hennessy, in reporting the fact to the Colonial Office, strongly supported the reformers, confirming all that had been said by Mr. Broome as to the superiority of the middle class in Mauritius, and add
How far Mr. Broome's estimate of the true causes of the reform movement was correct may be judged from the fact that of the fifty-two members composing the Reform Committee ten were editors of newspapers, at least seven (including three of the principal officers) were of the legal profession, and eight were doctors. But the legal element was not wholly unanimous on the reform question. As we have seen, a busy barrister took up the championship of the Indians at the second meeting; and he fulfilled his threat of opposition by getting up a counter-petition against the movement, to which he obtained seven thousand signatures and crosses from actual Indians, and by duly forwarding the whole, with some very forcible arguments on his side of the question, to the secretary of state. The Nestor of the Council and his following, small but influential, also drew up and despatched a counter-petition. Altogether, these were stirring times at least among the busy, bustling section, for it does not appear that the Indians took the least interest in the proceedings. We have looked in vain, also, for a meeting of the Chinese, or of the Arabs, or of the Malagasies, or of the African negroes. These races ap-ing that the relations between the Indians pear to be strangely apathetic in political affairs.
Lord Derby's reply to the petition of the reform agitators was delayed until the middle of June, 1883, and, when it did arrive, was by no means satisfactory to them. The colonial minister offered to make some change in the direction mentioned by Mr. Broome, but firmly declined, for the reasons stated by him, to permit the introduction of an elective element
and their employers, and generally between the higher and the lower classes, were of a trustful and friendly nature unknown to other colonies. Of this trustful friendliness more will be said; but meanwhile it is curious to note the composition of the Council at the time of this most important debate. Of the eight official members, no fewer than five were acting officers, one at least of whom held opinions diametrically opposed to those
of the gentleman in whose place he sat. Further, the Nestor of the Council was too ill to attend, and his vote was consequently lost. On such small things do grave issues hang. Had these two members been present, both resolutions would have been lost. Sir John Pope Hennessy laid great stress on the conduct of the debate as proof of the fitness of the Mauritians to govern themselves; and certainly, if rhetorical power is to be taken as the measure of political ability, it must be confessed that he was no more than just. But in this respect the reformers certainly had the superiority; and many doubtful arguments employed by them were allowed to pass unchallenged by their opponents. "It is a fallacy," said the bold orator who moved the first resolution, "it is a fallacy to say that we owe our prosperity to our political system. We owe it to our geographical situation, to the fertility of our soil, to the energy and enterprising spirit of the inhabitants, to the influx of foreign capital, to free trade, and an abundant supply of labor." Alas! there are too many British possessions, not less fertile, not less favorably situate, where capital and labor are both of them scarce, and the general condition is unsatisfactory, all because they were for years under a pseudo-representative government which, by denying security, forbade all enterprise and progress.
the officers themselves depends on the interest of influential relations.
Though carried triumphantly through the Council, the plans of the reformers were not left untroubled by opposition from without. The Nestor of the Council, though he could not record his vote, took pains to record his opinions in the local press, and combated the arguments of the majority with none the less earnestness and force for that his cause was now desperate. The busy barrister, too, again took up the cudgels for the Indian popula tion, and brought newspaper extracts and other evidence to show that prejudice of race and color was by no means extinct in Mauritius. And, indeed, it may well be conceived that it was not, inasmuch as a leading member of the French whites had recently devoted his leisure to a series of articles proving that the ultimate supremacy of the Indians was a sociological certainty. Further, the busy champion urged that too little importance had been attached to his petition against reform, which had been signed by seven thousand Indians, and argued that, if the reformers had studiously abstained (as they affirmed) from any endeavor to procure the support of that class, this was sufficient evidence that they left it completely out of the question.
In vain Lord Derby wrote early in 1884 to announce that in the face of the resoluThe Reform Committee followed up its tion passed by the Council, the imperial victory with an address to the secretary of government would not press its objections state, less courteous than the first, and to a reform, and would be prepared to not free from bad taste and personal allow a certain number of the unofficial acrimony. Two new grievances were ad- members of Council to be elected, instead duced: first, the introduction of flogging of nominated as theretofore. His lordinto the island prisons, to which French ship, however, did not fail to repeat that sentiment is violently opposed; and, sec- he considered the existing Constitution ondly, the disinclination of the Colonial fully adequate to elicit a free expression Office to appoint native Mauritians to of the wishes and requirements of the coloffices within the colony. The question ony. It may seem strange, after all that of corporal punishment in prisons is al- has been stated already, that, holding ways difficult and open to argument. those opinions, he should have yielded; Suffice it to say that English sentiment is the reader shall judge from the sequel opposed to French in regard to it. The whether he did right or not. Yield, hownon-appointment of colonists to public ever, he did; and Sir John Pope Hensituations in their native land is a stand-nessy at once communicated the welcome ing grievance in all such small commu- news to the leaders of the reform movenities as Mauritius, and a grievance not to ment not, be it observed, to the Council, be remedied. Nevertheless, the Colonial as was his duty. The leaders graciously Office is undoubtedly in the right. Where accepted the concession, provided that the the educated class is so small, it follows of unofficial members were granted the same necessity that most of its members are powers relating to votes on matters of related to each other, and the ties of blood finance or of purely local interest as those are too strong to permit public officers to enjoyed by their peers in Jamaica, to which execute their duties impartially where the condition Lord Derby agreed. The numwelfare of their kinsman is at stake-ber of elected members was then ordained much more so when the advancement of to be six; the balance of the Council to
consist of three nominated unofficial and cates, notaries, attorneys, solicitors, duly nine official members. Sir John Pope qualified medical practitioners and pharHennessy thereupon appointed a "thor-macists, sworn land-surveyors, certificated oughly representative Commission" to teachers, clergymen, alumni of the Royal settle the details of the franchise, etc.; and College after passing a certain examinanow the battle began in earnest. "This tion, editors and sub-editors of newsthoroughly representative Commission" papers, and reporters and other members included thirty-two members, of whom of the editorial staff of a certain standing. twenty were members of the original Re- It was a beautiful and comprehensive but form Committee, one an Indian, and one anot strictly complete list. There seems Chinaman. It does not appear that this to be no reason why architects, engineers, last pair took any active part in the pro-actuaries, and bona fide dramatists (to say ceedings; and, indeed, it is recorded by a nothing of veterinary surgeons and denmember of the Commission that they were tists) should not have been added. "tous deux fort intimidés de se trouver au milieu de nous." Figure the bewildered visage of Goolam Mamode Ajam, and the solemn face and twinkling eyes of AjamTink-Win, as they gazed on this turmoil of lawyers and doctors! It appears that they never spoke; and there is, unfortunately, no pidgin-English protest attached to the minutes.
The reformers, assured of a majority, began to assert their power at once. At the very first meeting of the Commission, the leaders moved the adoption of the franchise proposed in the petition of 1882, and were with difficulty dissuaded from pressing for an immediate division. Three motions for returns and reports, in order to ascertain the qualifications and position of the Indian population, were rejected by large majorities. Two returns (afterwards proved to be utterly worthless), purporting to show the probable number of electors, were handed in at the third meeting; and then the majority resolved that no better information could be obtained on this subject, and proceeded without more ado to settle the question of the franchise. A curious reversal of the usual order of things. The property qualifications proposed in 1882 were then at once adopted, with a single alteration. They were as follows:
a. Ownership of immovable property of annual value of Rs. 480.
b. Movable property worth Rs. 5,000 at least.
c. Payment of rent at rate of Rs. 40 per month.
d. Salary at rate of Rs. 80 a month (reduced to Rs. 60).
(The husbands of wives, or eldest sons of widows possessing any one of the first three qualifications, to be also entitled to the vote.)
Further, the franchise, irrespective of property qualification was granted by the Commission to graduates of universities in the United Kingdom, barristers, advo
But that was not all. An educational test had to be decided on; a matter which seems to have puzzled the Commissioners a good deal. First, one gentleman proposed that nobody should have a right to the vote unless he were acquainted with the French or the English language. This was firmly and virtuously rejected by the reformers, on the ground that a large number of Indians, having other electoral qualifications, would thus be deprived of their privilege of voting. Then another gentleman proposed that electors should be required to prove that they could read and write in their own language. This, again, was rejected by the same majority led by the same speakers, one of whom (the leading reformer in the Council) urged that such a measure would ruin the colony, extinguish the Creoles, and establish the uncontrolled sway of the Indian element. It need hardly be said that this majority included all those who had been so loud in protestation of generosity towards the Indians in the earlier reform meetings, and had laughed at the fears of an Indian predominance. The matter was finally settled by the following resolution, which we give verbatim - first, because it is not easily condensed, and, secondly, because it deserves to be studied as the production of the élite of highly cultivated and intelligent Mauritian society:
"No person who at the time of the Royal Order in Council" (establishing the new Constitution), "hereafter to be promulgated, shall be under twelve years of age, shall be registered as a voter when he comes of age, unless he shall, in the presence of the registering officer or a magistrate, subscribe his name to his claim to be registered, and write thereon the date of such subscription in English or French."
It is hardly necessary to add that these various measures were not passed without a struggle. A few members of the original Reform Committee seceded from the com