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referring to the events of 1879, which properly falls within the limits of the succeeding Book. We have done so in order to give the reader a connected account of the fiscal controversy which went on from 1874 to 1879. The circumstances under which the import duty was surrendered are a curious comment on the last clause of the Resolution of the House of Commons. That clause desired the repeal of the duty “so soon as the financial condition of India will permit." The duty was actually repealed when Southern India had not yet recovered from the Madras famine of 1877; when Northern India was still suffering from the famine of 1878; when new cesses on land had recently been added to the Land Revenue; when the Famine Insurance Fund created by special taxes had disappeared; when the estimated budget showed a deficit; and when troubles and a vast expenditure in Afghanistan, brought about in quest of a scientific frontier, were impending.
If the House of Commons exerted an undue pressure on India by passing its Resolution in 1877, the Indian Government was guilty of a weak betrayal of trust in carrying out that Resolution in 1879. It may be safely asserted that no Viceroy who has ever ruled India would have sacrificed the revenues of India at such a moment except Lord Lytton; and no financier who has ever held the post of Finance Minister in India would have advised and supported such a sacrifice except Sir John Strachey.
This mean sacrifice to party politics did not even secure a party triumph. The Conservatives were defeated at the general election of 1880.
LYTTON AND RIPON
We now enter upon the last period of the Victorian Age. The close of Mr. Gladstone's first administration in 1874 is the date, if any single date can be given, for that gradual change in men's sentiments, opinions, and aspirations, which has been called a Conservative Reaction in Great Britain. The rapid advance of the Great Powers of the world aroused new jealousies and awakened new ambitions. A great Western Republic, united once more after a Civil War, was supreme in one half of the world, and claimed an increasing share in the politics and commerce of the other half. A united Germany had arisen with the strength of a giant from the fields of Sadowa and Sedan, and dominated over the counsels of Europe. France too was rising after her defeat, and was seeking compensation in Asia and in Africa. And Russia had torn up the Black Sea Treaty, and continued her unresisted march eastwards. A feeling of unrest filled the minds of Englishmen. Domestic reforms no longer called forth the same enthusiasm as a desire for expansion. The advance of Russia towards India must be checked. England's supremacy in Asia must be maintained. The Continent of Africa was still open, and unexplored regions awaited the British conqueror. A closer union with the Colonies would restore British influence, and would enable England to present a united front to the world. All over the globe there was need for a vigorous foreign policy—a policy of expansion and of conquest—to maintain England's position among
rising nations. So Englishmen felt, vaguely, but strongly; and as is often the case, the first blind enterprises were neither wise nor successful.
The sound frontier policy of Lord Lawrence no longer found favour. The creed of Sir Bartle Frere found acceptance in the present state of the national mind. Lord Northbrook had rejected that creed, but Lord Northbrook had resigned. A new Viceroy, willing to carry out the new policy, was selected. The first letter of the British Prime Minister, Mr. Disraeli, to Lord Lytton, indicated to him the task he was expected to perform.
“My DEAR LYTTON.—Lord Northbrook has resigned the Viceroyalty of India, for purely domestic reasons, and will return to England in the spring.
“If you be willing, I will submit your name to the Queen as his successor. The critical state of affairs in Central Asia demands a statesman, and I believe if you will accept this high post you will have an opportunity, not only of serving your country, but of obtaining an enduring fame.”
Lord Lytton was then forty-four years of age, and was Minister of Legation at Lisbon; and this was the first intimation he received of his proposed appointment to India. The letter discloses the one object of the appointment. Lord Lytton was chosen to give effect to a policy in relation to Afghanistan which Lord Northbrook had declined to carry out. The recent famines in India and the economic condition of the people find no mention in the Prime Minister's letter. These matters did not interest the British Cabinet very much.
The new Viceroy lost no time. On April 12, 1876, he took charge of his office from Lord Northbrook. On April 24 he was at Umballa, and gave the Commissioner of Peshawar the draft of a letter to be sent to the Amir
* Letter from Benjamin Disraeli to Lord Lytton, dated Nov. 23, 1875.