Page images

The control of this water he made no reference to the area in 1588 and 1805 was assured by a special squadron, which held the narrow seas firmly while the main fleets dealt with the enemy's capital ships. The invading army cannot move until this special squadron is overpowered. Its strength and composition depend upon the force by which it is threatened, as has been already explained in the case of Lord Keith's squadron. That torpedo boats and destroyers alone are not sufficient has been proved by Admiral Togo, who with his combined force of all classes has driven the Russian torpedo craft into port, and covered the landing of an army in spite of them. Neither is the untried submarine likely to prove more effective than the torpedo boat and destroyer. Nothing is more to be deprecated than the attempt which has been made to enhance unduly its importance by playing on the credulity of the public, to whom the unknown is always terrible. The new instrument of war has no doubt a value, but that it is anything more than an auxiliary with limited and special uses is difficult to believe.

The Prime Minister has told the country that the invasion of these islands is not an eventuality which need be seriously considered. Although our organised fleets were assumed to be absent from home waters,

extreme importance of their
offensive action. His argument
was really based on a defensive
strategy, depending mainly for
its success on the action of
the destroyer and submarine.
In adopting this attitude he
doubtless reflected the opinions
of his professional advisers.
It is noteworthy that in 1902
the Admiralty laid before the
Colonial Conference a "Memor-
andum on Sea-power and the
Principles involved in it," in
which occur the following

"In the foregoing remarks the word defence does not appear. It is omitted advisedly, because the primary object of the British Navy is not to defend anything, but to attack the fleets of the enemy, and, by defeating them, to afford protection to British dominions, shipping, and commerce. This is the ultimate aim. To use the word defence would carries with it the idea of a thing be misleading, because the word to be defended, which would divert attention to local defences instead of fixing it on the forces from which attack is to be expected. The traditional role of the British Navy is not to act on the defensive, but to prepare to attack the force which threatens-in other words, to assume the offensive."

This is the strategy of Drake
and Togo. The emphasis laid
on the defensive in 1905, as
compared with the offensive
in 1902, is commended to the
attention of the reader, who
will remark the far-reaching
and important consequences

Printed by William Blackwood and Sons.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

THE Constitution and working of one of the most colossal governments in the world-of a Government of foreigners over a conglomeration of nations of various creeds, races, and temperaments-affords a plentiful source of reflection to the political student and the practical statesman. It is a matter which ought to be of enduring and never-diminishing interest to all Englishmen. England has a real duty in India, and, though the great work of practical administration must be done by the men on the spot, it is the British nation that, before the world, stands pledged for the right performance of it. The responsibility for a just, impartial, and stable government of India has been committed, for good or evil, into the hands of Parliament, and through Parliament to the electoral body of Great Britain. They must realise that if, through ignor


ance or indifference, they fail to discharge that responsibility, they are not performing the first of all duties in an English citizen-his duty to his country. The interests of India are England's real interests. About keeping India there is no question. Without India, as Lord Curzon has said, there would be no British Empire. The danger of foreign invasion is, however, not the only danger which besets our rule. An Act of the Indian Legislature pressed upon the Government by ignorant politicians at home, or a military order issued by a Commander-in-Chief quainted with the land, may arouse the fanaticism and bigotry of millions, and create a blaze of fury and revolt which would tax the strength of England to extinguish. The ignorance which prevails with respect to Indian affairs is not confined to the uneducated masses that mainly form the



electoral body of Great Britain. There is not one well-informed man out of ten who knows that the title Viceroy of India has no statutory provision; that the Governor-General is a senatorial proconsul; that the superintendence, direction, and control of the civil government of British India is not vested in the Governor-General, but in the Governor-General - inCouncil; that the superintendence, direction, and control of the military government of British India is vested not in the Governor-General nor in the Commander-in-Chief, but in the Governor-General - inCouncil; that to make the Commander-in-Chief Minister of War would involve a farreaching change in the constitution of the Indian Government. Ignorance as to the respective powers of the Secretary of State and of the Council of India, ignorance as to the plenary authority of the Governor-General and the constitutional rights of the Council of the Governor-General, is general and profound. A striking proof of the accuracy of these statements was afforded the other day. At this time, when grave questions of foreign policy and great military problems affecting the peace and security of our Indian Empire are pressing for solution, a Member of Parliament, who at the time was a member of the Cabinet, the executive body "from whence comes," as Lord Beaconsfield said, "the final decision on these matters," stated in the House of Commons that he was colossally ignorant of Indian affairs," and that he

[ocr errors]

did not know there is in India "a semi-elective Council with a voice in financial matters." The object of this brief, and necessarily inadequate, sketch of the development of constitutional government in India, and of the machinery as it operates to-day, is to remove, in some degree, ignorance so strange and discreditable.

In order rightly to comprehend the nature of the government of India and to judge of its character, the conscientious inquirer must first direct his attention to the circumstances under which it arose, and to the principles on which it is founded. He must trace and understand the close union between the history and constitution of the Indian Government and that of England. The Supreme Government of India is not the creation of any Indian authority, but derives its constitution and powers from many successive Acts of Parliament. It is a common error that the East India Company were a trading company owning vast provinces in India over which they exercised sovereign rights until an Act of Parliament, in 1858, transferred these territories and this government to the Crown. The claim of the Crown to the Indian territories was asserted as soon as Clive laid the foundation, in 1765, of territorial sovereignty by the acquisition of the Diwani or right of receiving the revenues of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa. Clive proposed that the Crown should take possession of the territorial acquisitions, and Chatham agreed with him that

it was both the right and the duty of the Crown to take the government of India under its direct control. He held that no subjects could acquire the sovereignty of any territory for themselves, but only for the nation to which they belonged. The Cabinet was divided on the subject, and the Rockingham section of the Whigs maintained the sole right of the Company, under the terms of its charters, to the government and revenues. Burke, the most prominent member of the party, was then a fervent supporter of the rights of the Company. Government and the Company, he considered, were "as equal dealers on the footing of mutual advantage." The public had derived great benefit from such dealings, but "the Ministry, instead of listening to the new proposals of that Company, chose to set up a claim of the Crown to their possessions," and Burke, who in after years was never weary of slandering the Company and its servants, was shocked that "the East


the Diwani decreased while the expenditure increased. In 1773 the financial embarrassments of the Company became great that they were obliged to solicit help, and they received a loan from the public of £1,400,000. As the public had become a creditor of the Company, the Ministry could no longer neglect Indian affairs, and the same year Parliament passed "An Act for establishing certain Regulations for the better management of the affairs of the East India Company as well in India as in Europe." It has often been assumed and stated that Parliament for the first time interfered to control the administration of the Company by Pitt's famous East India Bill. But this is a mistake. It was by the Regulating Act of 1773 that, for the first time, the British nation, as a nation, assumed the actual responsibility of the government of the territories won by the servants of a trading corporation. By this measure it was enacted that "for the government of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal there shall be appointed a Governor-General and four Counsellors," in whom the whole civil and military government of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa were invested. The Governor of Bengal was converted into a GovernorGeneral in order to give emphasis to the fact that the other Presidencies were subordinate to Bengal. The Governor-General and Council were appointed by name in the Act; they were to hold office for five years, and were not

India Company was to be covered with infamy and disgrace." The Company came to a compromise by agreeing to pay an annual sum of £400,000 "in respect of the territorial acquisitions and revenues lately obtained in the East Indies." After Clive's return to England the affairs of the Company became utterly disorganised, owing, as he stated, to "a relaxation of government in his successors; great neglect on the part of his Majesty's Administration, notorious misconduct on the part of the Directors." The revenue from

removable except by the Crown, after representation made by the Court of Directors. In order to have a supervising control over the Company, the important power was taken for the Secretary of State and the Board of Treasury to examine all correspondence received in England from India. The Governor-General and Council were required constantly and diligently to transmit to the Court of Directors "all exact particulars of all advices or intelligence and of all transactions and matters whatever." The paramount authority of the Sovereign was declared by the creation of a Supreme Court of Justice. The Court was the King's Court, and every officer of the Company and the Company itself were amenable to the jurisdiction and powers of that tribunal, subject only to appeal to the Sovereign in Council.

The Regulating Act of 1773 was a failure, because it attempted what Parliament can never do with success- -a direct interference in the local government of India. Three of the men named in the Act to conduct the local government in India had no Indian experience

Lieutenant-General John Clavering, who had neither ability nor tact, owed his appointment entirely to parliamentary influence; Monson was a brave old soldier of no political capacity; Philip Francis, when "my hopes of employment were distant and uncertain," owed his success to Lord Barrington, Secretary at War, whom he had served: Warren Hastings, who was Governor-General of Bengal,

was nominated the first Governor-General; and Barwell, an old servant of the Company, was the fourth member. On the 26th of October 1774 the new Council met for the first time, and then commenced that long quarrel which, after distracting British India, was renewed in England, and in which all the most eminent statesmen of the age took an active part. The GovernorGeneral and his counsellors fought not only with each other, but they fought with the Supreme Court. The Act of 1773 had two vital defects. The first was that the Governor-General was entirely dependent on the vote of his Council. The second was the placing a Court of Justice, the interpreter of its own charter and of the laws which it administered, at a distance of many thousand miles from the Legislature which alone it was bound to obey. Francis wrote to a friend

"I wish you would enquire and tell me in what dirty corner of Westminster Hall these cursed Judges were picked up. I have no personal Quarrel with any of them, but assuredly they are driving hard to the destruction of this Country. It was a pleasant Idea to give a Nation a Court of Judicature before you gave them a Constitution. I see a Number of Streams but no Fountain.

I see Laws without a Sovereign. Does any man in England know, or think it worth his while to inquire who is King of Bengal? I believe not. Yet, tho' a matter of Indifference

among you great Politicians at a distance, it is really a Question of some little account to us who pretend to be a Government, and are now and then obliged to act as if we were so."

During the whole of his Indian career, Francis wrote

« PreviousContinue »