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tenance of the edifice of the Indian Empire in the great office
In more recent years, a pen not unworthy to be classed with that of Lord Macaulay has enabled us to judge with truthful accuracy of the careers of the two great men who, after the Marquis of Wellesley, stand out in the highest relief in the history of India. On the Marquis of Dalhousie devolved the task of completing the territorial conditions of British India, of extending the dominion of England as the ruler and suzerain of the vast peninsula to its natural boundaries, of declaring that neither aggression on our frontier, nor shameful native misrule, should pass without the crucial remedy of reducing the offending kingdoms under the power whose frontier had been outraged, or whose patience was at length exhausted by the never-ceasing spectacle of barbarism and cruelty. How gallantly this task was performed, how the Marquis of Dalhousie rose to the height of the duties imposed on him without vacillation or faltering, how to his great political and military
successes he added the largest administrative results of civil character, is within the recollection of middle-aged men. But it is part of the history of the forty years regarding which we have been told, on no slight authority, the curiosity of the younger generation is halting and feeble.
And then we come to Earl Canning, who, almost without exception among English statesmen, presents the grandest picture of unswerving firmness, courage, and magnanimity in the midst of the most appalling dangers; who, without losing hope and strong resolve, saw the fabric of an empire fading away from his vision like an iceberg in the Gulf Stream; who at the same time had to confront a native rebellion, the panicfear and disaffection of his countrymen, and the opinion at home which was the reverberation of the latter. He met the rebellion and he put it down. He met the panic-fear and he triumphed over it. When blood and punishment and cruelty were preached, he stepped forward as a grand and magnanimous ruler, as the representative of British humanity and civilisation, and with mild but absolute accent proclaimed, 'This shall not be,' and it was not. The greatness of the man who could so speak and so act, at such a time as the crisis of the mutiny and rebellion in India in 1857, is not to be measured by the ordinary deeds of war and peace, however grand in execution the former, however wise and beneficent the latter may be.
Here then, again, we have two magnificent specimens of British individuality, two men who, equally with Clive and Warren Hastings, have contributed to the building and maintenance of the edifice, but against whose memory no stone shall be thrown in the future on account of deeds bringing a reproach to the national conscience. Lord Dalhousie completed India according to certain conditions of necessity at a time of political transition, of change from the old to the new, from the ancient to the modern in form as well as in sentiment, his just and correct estimate of which has long been acknowledged.
The controversy which raged round his policy, and for some years subsequently, has been forgotten. The justification of that policy is seen and understood in India. He waged great He added kingdoms and provinces to the dominions of the Queen. Old fictions, which had been so useful in the early days we have referred to, were swept away. The old device of governing India according to Indian ideas-that is to say, with respectful deference to the prejudices of barbarous native princes, to hideous superstitions, to the laws of the im
perfect civilisation of Hindooism and the recent Mussulman dominion-was to disappear.
To all this Lord Dalhousie afforded something more than the commencement. The machine of government, of administration, was apparently moving with accelerated speed. The pressure of organic reform was making itself vitally felt. Against the novel impression, the new sensation, the undefined dread of something not understood, and, it may be added, the demolition of the last vestige of Mahometan power, came popular reaction, of which the military mutiny was the first expression, urban disaffection and provincial rebellion the second. Earl Canning, having reduced the national reaction, replaced the empire on a solid and durable basis, the character of the man and the form of the government he directed having singularly aided in the great work of re-establishment to which his energies were henceforth to be devoted, when his vigorous prosecution of the war had finally extinguished the last embers of active rebellion and disloyalty.
And since then such a peace has endured in India as was never known in that country before. If we except petty frontier disturbances with savage and contemptible tribes, that peace has been profound and absolute since 1859; and there is reason to believe that every day adds to its solidity and to its apparently lasting quality. Such, then, is the great result of Earl Canning's work, following as it did on that of the Marquis of Dalhousie, which in many and highly important respects was the preparation for it. The two administrations should ever be viewed and considered together. An old system finally passed away under the auspices of the one. The new system was finally installed by his successor. To use a military figure, it may be said that the former brought the early campaigns of a war to a brilliant conclusion, and believed in the termination of the contest accordingly. The latter suffered the practical result of the miscalculation, but, having girded his loins, accomplished that which he believed to have been effected when he first assumed office.
It was remarked that during the latter years of Lord Canning's rule India lapsed into a state of repose which presented almost an appearance of lethargy. The re-establishment of the finances; the reform of the military system; the inauguration of the new relations with England consequent on the disappearance of the old fictions of the so-called double government of the East India Company and the Crown; the tightening of the bonds between India and Great Britain through the new laws and institutions, and by means of im
proved communications of steam, post, and telegraph; put a heavy strain on the several departments of the administration. The Council of the Governor-General assumed more and more the form of a Cabinet as understood in this country, the Governor-General or Viceroy being relieved accordingly, and the business of government being divided among the respective members of the Council. The Viceroy retains the general superintendence of all the departments, but the current work is performed departmentally according to the necessities of the vast and comprehensive machine into which the Government of India has been developed.
In consequence of these arrangements, while the Viceroy retains his independence and absoluteness as the responsible head of the Government, and causes his will to be felt in Council on all important matters, he is not now too much overwhelmed with the details of business, or exposed to trials on this account beyond the powers of a man of regular application. It was necessary to say a word on this point, as the improvement in the transaction of business which has been alluded to has a great constitutional importance if it be duly considered, besides mainly tending to the facilitation of the labours of the one man, the Viceroy, on whom before the public lies the whole weight of administration, the whole responsibility of government.
It is evident that in so vast a concern, the number of minor governments or administrations under the Government of India being now not less than twelve, the references from the former must be very considerable, the orders of the latter must be large and comprehensive, that the Federal relation under the Supreme Authority, the questions of national defence, the expression of law, the development of resources according to the conditions, wants, and capabilities of each separate administration afford ample work for the Cabinet or Council the members of which direct the several departments of the Central Government. Under such altered circumstances, the facts of which are the immediate consequences of the expansion of the duties and obligations of authority with relation to the subject masses, it would seem to follow that in future the single figure of the Viceroy will not stand forth in the high relief of former days. However real and potential his authority, his individuality will perhaps not appear before the public in the distinct and clearly cut form which may be proper to a period of administration characterised by simplicity and directness, but is liable to be merged or shaded amid the abstractions and joint responsibility result
VOL. CXLIII. NO. CCXCII.
ing from a Government which has come to be constituted as we now see it in India. For although a Cabinet under the guidance and direction of the absolute Viceroy, the Council comprises several members, the appointment of whom is independent of nomination or patronage on the part of the Viceroy. Formerly this independence was confined to the Commanderin-Chief. But of late years the change has been made of nominating from England legal and financial members, and very recently another for Public Works has been added, while the local members who owe their places to the Viceroy remain as in old times.
Other agencies are tending in a like direction, which may generally be referred to the latter years of Earl Canning's Government. Foremost among these is the change in the form of the relations of the Government of India with the controlling authority at home. What may be called a fiction of power was swept away when the East India Company disappeared as a co-operating agent in the administration and patronage of India. It is true that from the time of Mr. Pitt the Supreme Control has rested in the hands of the Minister of the Crown. But it is also true that the double arrangement of the Company and of the Board of Control, with an involved system of correspondence, was the means of slackening the bonds between Parliament and the Governor-General. The Court of Directors was at times a kind of buffer between the two. It is incontestible that the disappearance of the Company as it took place in 1858, the apparent as well as the real assertion of the Crown in Indian concerns, have caused the relations between the Government of India and the Secretary of State to be more immediate and direct than they used to be between the former and the Board of Control. The responsibility of the office in England has then so far been extended. What has thus been gained to it may appear to some observers to be a loss to the ruler in India, a deduction from the authority of the Viceroy, a substitution of the means of executive action in the hands of the Secretary of State for the functions of supervision, of control, and the occasional exercise of veto. It would seem therefore, at first sight, that a change of form has to a certain extent developed a process of centralisation in favour of the Minister at home, who now-a-days is not seldom styled the actual ruler of India by popular writers, a corresponding diminution of provincial independence and autocratic initiative being felt in the position of the Viceroy. To such an apparent state of things other considerations bring their contribution. The improved means of communication have now so closely