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CHAPTER I

CANNING, ELGIN, AND LAWRENCE

- An era of Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform succeeded

the Crimean War. Lord Palmerston, the most unquiet of Foreign Ministers, was forced to be a peaceful Prime Minister when the nation wanted peace. Great events succeeded each other in the world's history. Italy won her independence in 1860. America cemented her Union in blood, shed in a great civil war. Prussia wrested provinces from Denmark, and entered on her career of aggrandisement. Russia planned her march eastward. Lord Palmerston witnessed all this, and did not move. The rise of great nations called forth his jealousy, but did not provoke his interference. He died in 1865, when there was peace in his country.

For Englishmen had entered on a period of domestic reforms. The great fiscal reforms of Mr. Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, removed bit by bit all restraints on trade. Mr. Cobden concluded his Commercial Treaty with France in 1859. The Paper Tax was removed in 1860. Other taxes were repealed, and yet the revenues went up by leaps and bounds with the expansion of trade.

A Reform Bill was introduced after Lord Palmerston's death, but was defeated. But the nation demanded the measure; and a Reform Bill, introduced by Mr. Disraeli, was passed. Mr. Gladstone succeeded him as Prime Minister in 1868, and his first administration was marked by other reforms. The Irish Church was disestablished. The first Irish Land Act was passed. A system of National Education was organised. An Army Reform was effected. The Ballot Act was passed. The High Court of Justice was established.

Indian history reflects this peaceful progress during the first eighteen years of the Crown Administration. Lord Canning became the first Viceroy of India. Few of those who had protested against his “clemency,” and had petitioned for his recall, knew of the task he had performed, or the trial he had undergone. It often happened during the dark days of the Mutiny that the silent and indefatigable worker passed the best part of the day and all the night at his desk. One winter morning he had worked from midnight till midday, without rest and without interval for breakfast; he then fell back exhausted, the action of the brain had ceased. Nor was it Lord Canning alone who bore this burden. His wife, the faithful partaker of all his anxieties, often shared his labours. She sat up, far into the night, copying secret letters and despatches which were not allowed to pass through the ordinary official channels. They bore the burden together; and they came out triumphant.

The Mutiny was at last over. A great Darbar was held at Allahabad on November 1, 1858, and Lord Canning read the Queen's Proclamation to the assembled men. This greatest of all Indian Darbars was dignified without ostentation, impressive without vaingloriousness. At another Darbar, held at Cawnpur, the new Viceroy made a welcome announcement. The rule against a doption which had brought princely dynasties to a close, was abolished. The Government of the Queen recognised the ancient right of adoption in Indian princes. Every ruling chief in India breathed more freely when they heard this announcement. The nation received the new administration of the Crown with acclamation.'

Proceeding on his journey, Lord Canning visited the great cities of Northern India and the Punjab, and reached the frontier town of Peshawar in February 1860. Retracing his steps, he paid a short visit to Simla, and

Paid a shawar in Feb'unjab, anh

returned to Calcutta in the heat of May. His health had been undermined by incessant labours; but no considerations of health kept him from his duty. Another arduous tour was undertaken in autumn; and the Viceroy held a Darbar at Jabalpur to meet Holkar and Sindia and other chiefs of Central India. It was necessary for him to be everywhere, to meet the princes and the people of India after the Mutiny. It was necessary to reassure - them and to consolidate the empire in their good wishes and loyalty.

A great sorrow fell on Lord Canning in 1861. On his • return from a fresh tour in Northern India he found his wife seriously ill. Lady Canning had caught the Terai fever on her journey from Darjeeling; she rapidly sank under the fatal illness, and died in November. Then the strong heart of the indefatigable worker broke. “I went into the death chamber," writes his private secretary, “the proud, reserved man could not restrain his tears, and wrung my hand with a grip that showed how great his emotion was.” In March 1862 Lord Canning left Indiaa dying man.

In no period of modern Indian history—except under the beneficent rule of Lord William Bentinck-were so many great reforms crowded within so short a period as during the administration of Lord Canning. But the greatest of his task was to promote the agricultural wealth of India, to secure to the tillers of the land the profits of cultivation. The land question is at the root of the prosperity of all agricultural nations; and Lord Canning's generous endeavour to solve that question in the interests of the people will be narrated in a future chapter. It is enough to mention here that the Bengal Rent Act of 1859. extended to the agricultural population of the Province à protection they had never enjoyed before; and the provisions of this Act were before Mr. Gladstone when he framed his first Irish Land Act ten years after. More than this, Lord Canning sought to protect agriculture

in all the Provinces of India from harassing re-settlements and increasing State-demands. If that wise measure had been adopted, India would have witnessed less of those recurring famines which are the saddest feature of Indian history during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

High education also received the Viceroy's attention. The Universities of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay were established in 1857 on the model of the London Univer-sity. The inspiring influences of a Western Education reached a larger circle of the population. Indian society responded to this stimulus. The greatest writers of Bengal, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Madha Sudan Datta, and Bankim Chandra Chatterjea, made their mark in the early 'sixties. Never, since the time of Lord William Bentinck, was so much of high aspiration and healthy ambition manifest among the people as in the early years of the Queen's Government, and under her first Viceroys.

In legislation, too, Lord Canning's administration stands apart from all subsequent times. The Indian Penal Code, which had been drafted by Macaulay and the first Law Commission in 1837, was passed in 1860. Codes of Civil and Criminal procedure were passed; and the Police was organised and regulated by a new Act.

The Governor-General's Council, as reconstituted by the Act of 1861, consisted of five Ordinary Members. Lord Canning distributed the work among the Members, and placed each of them in charge of a separate department. The Council was thus converted into a Cabinet, of which the Governor-General was the head. The Member in charge of a department dealt with all ordinary questions, and only placed serious matters before the Governor - General for his consideration. When there was a disagreement in opinion, the question was brought up for discussion before the Council. This system of adıninistration, first introduced by Lord Canning,

obtains to the present day. Its only defect, which should have been rectified since the time of Canning, is, that there is no representation of popular opinion in the administration of the empire.

Judicial administration was reorganised. High Courts were established in Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, in 1861, by the amalgamation of the Company's Courts and the Queen's Courts. Sir Barnes Peacock, a distinguished lawyer, sat as Chief Justice of the High Court at Calcutta. Rama Prasad Roy, son of the distinguished Raja Ram Mohan Roy, was appointed the first Indian Judge of the Calcutta High Court, but died shortly after his appointment. The most distinguished of his successors was Dwarka Nath Mitra, whose sound judgment and fearless independence commanded the respect and admiration of all.

The army was reconstructed, and India was garrisoned with 70,000 European troops and 135,000 Indian troops. This vast army has been considerably increased since, and has been made a reserve for Great Britain's Imperial requirements in Asia and in Africa.

But the most difficult problem which faced Lord Canning was finance. It had been decided by the British Government to throw the whole cost of the Mutiny Wars on the Indian finance; and the Debt of India increased by over forty millions sterling. The annual interest of this Debt was enormous, and Indian tax-payers were called upon to meet the demand. James Wilson, a sound political economist, and for some time Financial Secretary to the Treasury, was sent out as the first Financial Member of the Governor-General's Council. He created a State paper currency, and he imposed a Licence tax and an Income tax to meet the growing expenditure.

Lord Canning's work in India was done. Public opinion in England and in India had lost its bitterness. Englishmen had come to form a juster estimate of the

Englishma England and in 'India was dom

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