페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Two questions of considerable difficulty remain, on neither of which do we feel disposed to dogmatise, -the question of native and European equality before the law; and the question of the employment of native agency in the more important functions of administration.

On the first of these topics there is a good deal to be said on both sides. As long as no Englishman appeared or resided in India, except the civil and military employés of the Company, it was possible and reasonable enough to treat them all as belonging to the dominant race, and entitled to special privileges and exemptions. They were all in fact rulers; and as such, could with no propriety be subjected to the jurisdiction of, or even placed on a mere level with, the ruled. În the circumstance too, that they were all the agents and servants of the sovereign authority, could be found a certain security against the abuse of this peculiar and privileged position. They were at any time liable to dismissal and punishment for any misconduct or oppression. But when the exclusive rights of the East India Company were broken down; when thousands of Europeans flocked to In. dia for the sole purpose of making money by industry or commerce; when many of these were adventurers of low habits and violent tempers and scandalous pretensions, over whom the authorities retained no summary or despotic power,—it is evident that to exempt such men from the jurisdiction of the native courts, or from enforced compliance with native rights and customs (where British courts of justice are so few and far between), would have been to issue to them a letter of license for unlimited iniquity and oppression. They were voluntary visitors or settlers, and as such, could not complain of being subject to the conditions of the community to which they went. Moreover, their numbers have been always small. The entire number of planters, merchants, settlers, and unofficial Europeans of all classes, does not exceed ten thousand in the whole of India. On the other hand, there can be no doubt that in a country where our safety depends so entirely on our moral influence-on the impression fixed in the native mind of the inherent superiority of the European race—it would have been most desirable, had it been possible, to uphold this superiority, and rivet this impression, by abstaining from ever placing an Englishman in any

circumstance or manner under a Hindoo. But we apprehend that the practicability of maintaining this rule with any decency or justice was destroyed when free emigration to Hindostan was first permitted. The mistake, if it be one, was made in 1833. It is natural also, though perhaps not very reasonable, that the independent European residents in the interior should be angry at the privileges conceded, in deference to their religion, caste

D

notions, and hereditary rank, to certain native families and classes,*-privileges which, as Englishmen, they do not share simply because they have not the smallest traditional claim to them. Finally, we can largely sympathise with the indignation of English residents and merchants at finding themselves compelled to plead in civil matters before native judges, who often really do hate them and wish to drive them out of the country, and who are always supposed to do so; and in courts where it is notorious (and must be avowed with grief) that no justice can be obtained except by the most extensive and systematic bribery, applied to judges, officers, and witnesses alike. And we can well understand that the tendency of this system will be to discourage the better and more high-minded class of men from establishing themselves in India, and to confine the residents and planters to a more reckless and unscrupulous set, who will combat the natives with native weapons, and do much to degrade and dishonour the English character in native estimation. Still, we confess, we do not at present see our way out of the dilemma.

The other question,-as to the employment of native agency in influential and responsible departments,-seems to be very much one of degree, experience, and time. It is one in which the actual administration of the hour must feel its way. Few thoughtful or competent men will be inclined to lay down any fixed or general rules upon the subject. The Hindoo character, with some excellent qualities and capabilities, possesses also many deplorable and deeply-rooted defects. A better or more careful estimate of both cannot be found any where than that given by Elphinstone in the cleventh chapter of his History; and his description applies, though not in an equal degree, to those natives who retain their old faith and caste, as well as to those who have been converted to the purer creed of Mahomet. They are usually amiable when their fierce or fanatical passions are not aroused; they have strong and tenacious family affections, are capable of much tenderness, and are susceptible to kindness; and though indolent and timid, prefer death to what they deem dishonour; and, when inevitable, will encounter it with a calm and unostentatious stoicism worthy of all admiration. These are noble qualities, of which it would seem much might be made. But a vicious religion and a wretched education have perverted and nearly neutralised them all. Their notions of dishonour are strangely puerile and conventional; their entire morality is low and worldly; they have little regard for justice, and no regard for truth; in all judicial matters they are false, rapacious, and corrupt, to an almost incredible degree; and they seem utterly devoid of consideration for the rights of inferiors and of a sense of public duty. Even Mr. Cameron, who goes further than any other writer in his estimate of what the people may become, and ought to be made, says:

* Some native families of rank are exempted from appearing personally in court, because such appearance, according to their caste notions, would be tlagrantly dishonouring.

“The judges of all grades should be indiscriminately European and native ; but this is a state of things which can only be approached by degrees, and by means of the highest education. I am not at all sure that we have not gone too far in the official employment of natives without preparing them by European training. ... My anxiety for the improvement of the natives of India does not blind me to the marked distinctions which exist between them in their present moral condition and their European governors; and I think it highly important that such distinctions should not be neglected in constructing institutions for our Eastern possessions. I would not, for example, trust a native with power over his countrymen in any case in which pecuniary considerations do not prevent the employment of a European. Their general contempt for the rights of inferiors, and the abominable spirit of caste, render them very unsafe depositaries of such a trust.”

We have, we confess, a very strong conviction of the utter unfitness of the native Hindoos at present for any of the higher functions of administration ; and we wish it were possible to supersede them more completely than we have done. That in the course of time, and by sedulous care in their education, they may become fit to assist us in governing their country, we hope and believe; but such is their actual inferiority (moral rather than intellectual) that we can only retain this hope and faith by constant comparison of Englishmen now with their ancestors in the dark ages. That our most energetic exertions should be directed towards preparing the natives for higher and more responsible positions than they can at present occupy with safety, does not, we think, admit of a doubt. Nor do we fear that the permanence of our Indian empire will be endangered thereby. Long before native agency can be so widely employed as to be dangerous, the native character must have been so far modified as to render it secure. By that time the blessings of our rule will have become so widely seen and so fully established, that no native intelligent enough to be employed by us will wish to overthrow us. But we think it should be our rule, only to advance to places of authority and influence such of the Hindoos as have received a European education, have imbibed European notions of morality, have lived enough among Europeans to have become impregnated with that sense of public duty without which no man can be fit to govern others, -such, in a word, as without having been thrown altogether out of harmony with their countrymen, shall have become qualified to guide and to control them. Even now

[ocr errors]

the ablest, purest, wealthiest, and most sagacious of the Hindoos are conscious that the overthrow of our rule would not only be their ruin, but would be the greatest conceivable misfortune that could befall their country. It rests with ourselves so to act, that all whom we in time have trained to aid us,— all, in a word, whose character, under any régime, would mark them out for influence and sway,—shall entertain the same conviction. By “ time,” however, we mean not a few years only, but more probably a few generations. National peculiarities are not speedily effaced ; nor are national vices to be eradicated by any summary process. Meanwhile we recommend to our readers the following wise suggestions :

It is no wish of mine to direct the ambition of the natives solely to official distinction ; but you cannot exclude men from administering the affairs of their own country without stigmatising and discouraging them. In addressing the students of these universities eight years ago, I said to them, “Do not imagine that the sole or the main use of a liberal education is to fit yourselves for the public service ; or rather, do not imagine that the public can only be served by the performance of duties in the offices of government. I am quite ready to repeat that admonition. I strongly desire to see the native youth distinguish themselves in all honourable ways; but I more strongly desire that our colleges should send forth zemindars capable of improving their own estates and the condition of their ryots; natural philosophers capable of collecting and utilising the vast store of undiscovered facts contained in the soil, climate, and productions of their country; moral philosophers capable of studying the peculiarities of the Indian races, and of directing them, by eloquent exhortation, to virtue and happiness, than that these colleges should be nurses of eminent judges and collectors" (Cameron's Address, p. 153).

We have left ourselves no space for lengthened comment on any of the works whose titles we have placed at the head of this article. Nor is it, perhaps, necessary. We may say, however, that no one can carefully study all those works without attaining a very fair acquaintance with Indian interests and the Indian character. The able and judicious pamphlet of Mr. Cameron we have referred to more than once in the course of our remarks. The Letters of Indophilus are believed to proceed from a gentleman who once held a responsible position in India, and now fills one still more important in this country, and they display an unusual intimacy with the whole subject. The Despatch on Education gives a full account of the new plans pursued in India, and inaugurated, we believe, by Sir Charles Wood while at the Board of Control. Col. Sleeman's book is full of entertainment, and throws a flood of light on Indian character and manners. He was political resident at Lucknow before Sir Henry Lawrence. Mr. Pratt's papers are sagacious and valuable; they convey the deliberate conclusions of a man whose acquaintance with India is not only thorough, but of recent date, and will serve to disperse many errors and illusions. The book of M. de Valbezen is written in an excellent spirit, and abounds in succinct information; and is particularly valuable as containing the estimates and views of an intelligent and competent foreigner.

ART. II.-GEORGE SAND.
Histoire de ma vie. Par George Sand. Paris, 1855.

Euvres de George Sand. Paris, 1857. Few travellers can have crossed the Channel on a fine day, and have reached the point where the coasts of both countries are visible at once, without reflecting how wide and vast are the moral and intellectual differences which separate lands divided by a material barrier so narrow. It is not only that race, religion, language, history, are all different for this we should, of course, be prepared ; but the whole tone and turn of thought is dissimilar; and whatever efforts are made to attain a superficial harmony, however familiar we become with the languages and literatures of the Continent, we are always separated from the continental nations. Englishmen take much greater pains to understand the manners, traditions, language, and writings of the leading nations beyond the Channel than are expended by the inhabitants of those countries in gaining an acquaintance with us, or with each other. And yet we never cease to seem to them insular. We cannot judge by their standard, or feel with their feelings. There are whole portions of thought in which our minds run in an entirely distinct channel. More especially with regard to those two cardinal points of human society, religion and the relations of the sexes, we seem to think with an irreconcilable difference—our right is not their right, nor their wrong our wrong. They reproach us as much as we reproach them. We talk as if the whole of French fiction was a vast mass of corruption; they shrink from the iron conventionalism of English society, and the coarseness of our public immorality. What we call license, they think the honest obedience to a divine passion. What we consider delicacy of language, they consider the affectation of prudery.

Such a difference pervades national life far too deeply and widely to, be referred to any one cause, or reduced under any one head; but we seem, at any rate, to present it to ourselves in a distinct shape when we observe how much greater the influence of society is in England than in France or Germany.

a

« 이전계속 »