페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Bradlaugh, M.P., who at the time took a keen interest in Indian affairs, gave expression to this alarm. He moved adjournment of the House on July 3, 1890, and brought on a debate on the subject. The motion for adjournment • was lost, but the debate stayed the hands of the Indian Government. Maharaja Pratap Singh has since been restored to power, and has ruled Kashmir in peace. No charge of misgovernment or of treason has been brought against him.

Great events had in the meantime followed in rapid succession in England. Mr. Gladstone had endeavoured to pass his Irish Home Rule Bill in his third administration, February to July 1886, and had failed. Ninetythree Liberals had receded from Mr. Gladstone, and had joined the Conservatives in support of the Union with Ireland. In the general election which followed, the Conservatives and Liberal Unionists formed the majority, and Lord Salisbury became Prime Minister for the second time.

The Uzionist Government lasted for six years, from 1886 to 1892. But Mr. Gladstone, now over eighty years of age, was still determined to carry through his Irish Home Rule scheme, and vehemently attacked the Government. A general election took place in 1892. The Home Rule was the leading question, and the contest was stubborn. Mr. Gladstone triumphed, and became Prime Minister for the fourth time, with a majority of forty on his side. Lord Kimberley, who had been his Secretary of State for India in 1886, was again appointed to the post, succeeding Lord Cross the Conservative Indian Secretary. But in 1894 Lord Kimberley became Foreign Secretary, and was succeeded by Mr. Fowler, now Sir Henry Fowler, in the India Office. . Great hopes were entertained in India from the return of the Liberal Government, and from Mr Fowler's accession to the India Office. His undoubted abilities and his clear grasp of facts would surely enable him to comprehend Indian questions in their true light.

Mr. Fowler had been a staunch supporter of Irish Home Rule, and would support and extend Self-Government in India. He had been President of the Local Government Board, and would make the District Boards of India real centres of popular administration. He was a man of the people, and would sympathise with the just ambitions of the people of India. These hopes were widely entertained in India, but they were doomed to disappointment. Under the influence of the times, and under the Iinperialist administration of Mr. Gladstone's successor, Lord Rosebery, Mr. Fowler fast drifted into Imperialism. His administration proved more autocratic than that of his titled predecessors. He adopted with vehemence the official idea of an absolute Government in India uninfluenced by popular opinion. He resented, on occasions, with equal vehemence, the just demands and aspirations of the people. He passed no large remedial measures, made no popular concessions. He was a joy to the ruling classes ; he disappointed the people of India.

Mr. Fowler continued large extensions of Indian railways on borrowed capital, beyond the resources and the immediate needs of the country. He sanctioned the mischievous activity and the wasteful expenditure of the Indian Government beyond the frontiers of India. A mission was sent to the Amir of Kabul. A delimitation of the frontier was effected. Chitral, Swat, and Wazaristan were included within the British sphere of influence. Seeds were sown for the frontier war which broke out three years after.

Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule Bill had been passed by the House of Commons in 1893, but had been rejected by the House of Lords. · Early in 1894 the aged Minister had retired from Parliament; and in 1898. he passed away, mourned by the entire nation. His greatest political opponents, those who had bitterly resented his foreign policy and his Home Rule scheme, joined with his most ardent followers in doing honour

to the memory of a MAN who was God-fearing, great, and good. His deep earnestness, his unrivalled powers, his high personal character, and his lifelong services to his country, had created an impression on the popular mind. Above all, it was the combination of his greatness with private Christian virtues that struck the imagination of a nation. “A great example,” said his political opponent, Lord Salisbury, "to which history hardly furnishes a parallel, of a great Christian Man.” They laid his remains in Westminster Abbey, where sleep England's greatest and best.

CHAPTER III

ELGIN AND CURZON

WHEN Mr. Gladstone finally retired from public life, early in 1894, the last restraint on the growing feeling for war was withdrawn. The Liberal Government continued under Lord Rosebery for a year, and fell in June 1895. Intelligent observers, who could read the signs of the times, felt that some great war, somewhere in the world, was inevitable. The air was thick with unquiet rumours. Places of amusement and public gatherings rang with the voice of defiance. The public press breathed of the expansion of the Empire. Trade looked forward to future possibilities from conquests. Workmeft re-echoed the cry, and were led to hope for more profitable employment. Lord Salisbury, now Prime Minister for the third time, raised his warning voice more than once, and then allowed matters to drift. A foreigner, judging from the events of 1815, 1855, and 1895, would have said : the British nation were, on the whole, a peaceful nation, but required a little blood-letting once in forty years to make them appreciate peace.

Wars followed almost immediately. Sir Herbert Kitchener, now Lord Kitchener, conquered Dongola and moved up the Nile in 1896. In September 1896 he shattered the army of the Khalifa at Omdurman. The fall of Gordon was avenged. British supremacy was established on the sands of the Soudan. France with- . drew from Fashoda.

The power of China had been broken by Japan in 1894 and 1895. European Powers crowded in to secure “spheres of influence” in that decrepit empire. Russia

obtained Port Arthur and became dominant in Manchuria. Germany acquired ports and territories. England took Wei-Hai-Wei. Then followed the Boxer rising, and the war of the allied Powers in China. And European armies disgraced themselves by barbarities against an unresisting and unoffending population.

But the culminating event of these dark and unquiet times was the war in South Africa. Dr. Jameson led an expedition against the Transvaal, and was crushed in 1896. The Boers armed themselves against further attacks. The British became impatient of the pretensions of the “Nebulous Republics.” A war followed, which lasted two years, which cost Great Britain over 20,000 men, and over two hundred millions of money. And amidst the horrors of the war, Queen Victoria passed away in January 1901, lamenting the disasters which closed her long and prosperous reign.

India did not escape the influences of these unquiet times. Lord George Hamilton was Secretary of State for India from 1895 to 1903. He had been Under Secretary for India from 1874 to 1878. He had been a member of an Indian Finance Committee in 1874, and had presided at the Irrigation Committee of 1878. He was familiar with Indian problems, and approached them with soine knowledge of details. But he lacked the firm grasp and the abilities of his predecessor; and he had as little sympathy with the people of India and their just aspirations. During a period of unexampled calamities, of war and pestilence and repeated famines, the Secretary of State stood by without a plan of radical improvement, - without a scheme of permanent utility. No large remedial measures were introduced to improve the wretched condition of a suffering nation. No action was taken to lighten the load of taxation. No adequate steps were adopted to foster indigenous trades, indus

tries, and manufactures. No needed security of tenure , and of moderate assessments was bestowed on the culti

« 이전계속 »