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in the attachment of the masses; in the sense of security of title and possession, with which our whole policy is gradually imbuing the minds of the principal chiefs and native aristocracy, in the construction of material works within British India, which enhance the comfort of the people while they add to our political and military strength; in husbanding our finances and consolidating and multiplying our resources; in quiet preparation for all contingencies which no Indian statesman should disregard ; and in a trust in the rectitude and honesty of our intentions, coupled with the avoidance of all sources of complaint which either invite foreign aggression or stir up restless spirits to domestic revolt.”
MAYO AND NORTHBROOK
LAWRENCE was made a peer on his retirement, and he had & worthy successor in India. Lord Mayo was an Irish nobleman of ancient descent, and possessed all the kindly sympathies and generous impulses of his countrymen. His genial and affable disposition disarmed opposition; his strong capacity for work secured efficient administration; and his faithful adherence to the interests of peace enabled him to continue the policy of his predecessor. His dignified demeanour impressed all, and he moved among the princes and chiefs of India, a king among men.
Born in Dublin in 1822, Lord Mayo had entered Parliament in 1847, and had served as Chief Secretary for Ireland on three occasions before he went out to India. He was Mr. Disraeli's selection, and as the Conservative Government fell towards the close of 1868, people expressed a doubt if the succeeding Liberal Ministry would uphold the choice. It is needless to say that Mr. Gladstone declined to listen to party clamour, or to rescind the appointment. And during the three years of Lord Mayo's Viceroyalty in India, he had the hearty support of the Liberal Ministry.
Lord Mayo took charge of the Indian Administration at Calcutta on January 12, 1869. And we can form some idea of his Viceregal work in India if we pause awhile to take note of his “Cabinet,” and his seven departments. Lord Mayo himself held the "portfolio” of the Foreign
* As a junior officer, I attended Lord Mayo's reception of the King of Siam at the Government House in Calcutta in the winter of 1871-72. The Viceroy's princely presence and dignified courtesy no doubt impressed his royal guest, as it struck every one present on the occasion.
and the Public Works departments. The able jurist, Fitz James Stephen, was the Legal Member of his Council, and presided over the Legislative department. Sir Richard Temple, with his varied Indian experience, was his Finance Member. Barrow Ellis was the Home Member, and Sir John Strachey the Revenue Member. Each Member dealt with the current duties of his department, and only brought important matters to the notice of the Governor-General. Once a week he held his Council, consisting of all the Members, and “in this oligarchy all matters of Imperial policy are debated with closed doors.” In this brief but pithy sentence we detect all the strength and all the weakness of Indian administration. The “oligarchy” comprised the ablest British officials in India, but has never, within a half century of the Crown administration, admitted an Indian within its body. Neither the revenue, nor the finance department, nor any other department, has ever been entrusted to an Indian. The people of India have no place within the Cabinet; no consultative body of representatives has been organised to advise the Cabinet; no constitutional method has been devised to bring the Cabinet in touch with the people. The best of Governments, composed of the ablest of administrators, must fail of success when the people are so rigidly excluded from the administration of their own concerns. Only two months after his arrival in India, Lord Mayo received the new Amir of Afghanistan in the famous Umbala Darbar. Sher Ali, who had now secured his position as the ruler of Kabul, came in the hope of obtaining a fixed subsidy from the Government of India. Lord Mayo presented him with the sum of £100,000 which had been already promised, gave him hopes of help and support when desirable, but rightly declined a fixed subsidy. “We have distinctly intimated to the Amir,” wrote Lord Mayo, “that under no circumstances shall a British soldier
* Sir William Hunter's Earl of Mayo (Oxford, 1891), p. 86.
cross his frontier to assist him in coercing his rebellious subjects. That no fixed subsidy or money allowance will be given for any named period. That no promise of assistance in other ways will be made. That no treaty will be entered into obliging us under every circumstance to recognise him and his descendants as rulers of Afghanistan. Yet that, by the most open and absolute present recognition, and by every public evidence of friendly disposition of respect for his character, and interest in his fortunes, we are prepared to give him all the moral support in our power; and that in addition, we are willing to assist him with money, arms, ammunition, native artificers, and in other ways, whenever we deem it desirable so to do.”
This was strict adherence to the “Masterly Inactivity" of Lord Lawrence; and Lord Mayo acknowledged this in a letter to Lord Lawrence, written immediately after the Umbala Darbar. “I adhered rigidly to the line laid down-i.e. no treaty engagements which may, hereafter, embarrass us, but cordial countenance and some additional support as it may seem advisable. I believe that when you sent Sher Ali the money and arms, last December, you laid the foundation of a policy which will be of the greatest use to us hereafter. I wish to continue it.”
But Lord Mayo did something more than merely continuing the policy of his predecessor. He developed it in order to secure peace in the Indian frontiers on a firm foundation. His distinctive foreign policy was to establish a ring of friendly and independent kingdoms on the frontiers of India, without interfering with their internal administrations, and without seeking to bring them under British domination. “I have frequently laid down," wrote Lord Mayo, “what I believe to be the cardinal points of our frontier policy. They may be summed up in a few words. We should establish with our frontier States of
Sir William Hunter's Life of the Earl of Mayo (1876), rol. i. pp. 259 and 260.
* Bosworth Smith's Life of Lord Lawrence (1885), vol. ii. p. 478.
Khelat, Afghanistan, Yarkand, Nepal, and Burma, intimate relations of friendship. We should make them feel, that although we are all powerful, we desire to support their nationality. That when necessity arises, we might assist them with money and arms, and perhaps even in certain eventualities with men. We should thus create in them outworks of our Empire, and by assuring them that the days of annexation are passed, make them know that they have everything to gain and nothing to lose by endeavouring to deserve our favour and support.” In pursuance of this clear, sound, and sensible policy, Lord Mayo sent Douglas Forsyth to discuss and settle matters with Russian Ministers at St. Petersburg in October 1869, and the Oxus was fixed as the northern boundary of the Amir's dominions. Lord Mayo also succeeded in inducing the Shah of Persia to demarcate the boundary between his kingdom and Beluchistan. And he authorised a British officer to settle the internal dissensions in Beluchistan. Towards Nepal he maintained a firm and friendly attitude; and in Upper Burma he restrained the warlike propensities of the king, and established closer commercial relations. Happy it were for India if the firm and friendly attitude towards surrounding countries had been always maintained by Lord Mayo's successors. In the internal administration of India, and especially in financial matters, Lord Mayo's success was less pronounced. Sir John Lawrence, a stern economist, had failed to secure a surplus; and Lord Mayo succeeded only by adding to the taxes. The fault lay not with them, but with British Ministers, who had thrown burdens on the Indian revenues which Great Britain ought to have shared. The Public Debt of India in 1870 was Io.2 millions sterling, and the interest on this heavy debt had to be paid. Lord Mayo increased the Income Tax from 1 to 2% per cent. and then to 34 per cent. ; and he enhanced the duty on salt in Madras and in Bombay to secure a surplus.
* Sir William Hunter's Life of the Earl of Mayo (1876), vol. i. pp. 283 and 284.