SIR W. HUNTER'S "LORD MAYO."
Sin W. HUNTER'S short biography of Lord Mayo is not so interesting as his account of Lord Dalhousie—one of the best monographs ever written—for a very obvious reason. There was much less to say about his subject. Lord Dalhousie was a great ruler of the kingly type, a man of dominant personality who imposed his will not only upon men but on events, who devised a great policy of his own, and carried it through suc- cessfully, sometimes by sheer force of character and intellect, sometimes also by a resort to what can only be described as military violence. Lord Mayo, though a much greater man than his contemporaries understood, was great in a non- picturesque way as an official administrator of the higher type, with large views of improvements to be introduced into the great Indian machine, but the quietest and, so to speak, most conventional manner of introducing them. He had been trained in a rather singular way. A member of one of the great Anglo-Irish families, the son of a squirearchical father and an Evangelical mother, bred up in strict piety and all outdoor exercises, he was elected Tory Member for his county in his twenty-sixth year, and before he was forty-five he had been three times Secretary for Ireland. The holder of that office occupies a wholly exceptional position in the British administrative system, for he has to govern almost as directly as a Continental Minister, yet has to defend every step he takes, and account for every failure he makes, before a democratic Parliament. He is perpetually impelled to do strong acts and propose great changes, and perpetually hampered by the necessity of convincing hundreds of men who do not and cannot understand the facts, and who are doubtful at heart of the expediency of any change. Most Irish Secretaries break down, but in the few who succeed, the position develops a habit of governing strongly, and a habit of explaining care- fully what their objects are in so governing, and why they adopt the peculiar methods for which they are assailed. The training made a considerable man of Lord Mayo ; but he grew tired of his labour at last, and when, at the age of forty-six, Lord Beaconsfield offered him the Indian Viceroyalty, he accepted the heavy responsibility with thankfulness. He wanted a larger field in which to employ abilities of which he was conscious, and a career less hampered by criticism and colleagues, and he neither dreaded the difficulties before him nor the excessive labour which he knew to be necessary to carry out his ideal.
He took the oaths in Calcutta as Viceroy on January 12th, 1869, and from that moment till he was murdered on Feb- ruary 8th, 1872, he was as completely Governor-General, the active head of the Administration in all departments, as ever Lord Dalhousie had been. The Indian system, indeed, forces upon the Viceroy all responsibility; but it is quite possible for him, by always accepting the recommendations of the Councillor at the head of each department, to avoid all strenuous labour. The mechanism of the Supreme Government is arranged in this wise. Each of the five members of Council manages a depart- ment, and as regards the mass of affairs in that department, submits his opinion to the Viceroy. If the latter agrees with him, the orders are issued without farther ado ; but if the matter is of importance, the opinions of the other Councillors are also re- quired. When given, they are submitted to the Viceroy, and as his order is final, and as he alone decides whether any question is or is not deserving of the opinions of more Councillors than one, it will readily be seen that the Viceroy is actually sovereign, in the same sense as the Emperor of Germany. Lord Mayo never shirked this responsibility ; but besides keeping the Foreign Office and Public Works in his own hands, exercised a general control over all other de- partments, and more especially finance, about which he enter- tained strong opinions. He worked habitually from 5 a.m. till 8.30 p.m., fifteen hours, with intervals of half-an-hour for breakfast, half-an-hour for lunch, and about an hour for sharp riding, thus giving himself thirteen hours for actual reading, writing, consultations with his subordinates, and the often severe ceremonial work in the way of receptions inherent in his position. It was this hard economy of time which enabled him to accomplish so much, this and his custom of compelling
Tho Raters of India Lord Mayo, By Sir W.W, Hunter. Oxford : Clarendon Prom. 1881.
all subordinates to do their work too, and lay everything before him, with all the facts carefully ascertained, and all opinions bearing upon them fully threshed out, before his own judgment was demanded or expressed.
Lord Mayo was not, however, a mere revising authority. He formed upon all subjects a definite opinion, and made that the policy to be steadily carried out. He thought, for instance, that the plan previously adopted for the restraint of the raiding hill-tribes of the North-West frontier was bad in principle, and radically changed it. The plan was to let the tribes descend and retreat, and then punish them by military expeditions. He insisted on a policy of prevention, of "vigi- lant, constant, never-ceasing defence" of the exposed portions of the frontier :—
"It had been objected that such a system of watchful defence must act as a constant menace to the tribes.' To this Lord Mayo replies : I cannot see the force of this objection. The presence of a policeman is indeod a standing menace to the thief ; and a sight of the gallows may be a salutary reminder to the murderer. It is, I fear, too much the habit to adopt what is doubtless the view taken by the mountaineers themselves of these affairs. They look upon them as acts of war and justifiable aggression. We have to teach them that assassination, the attack of a defenceless village by night, and killing people in their beds, are not acts of war, but are esteemed by civilised nations to be sots of murder. The sooner we teach these people this lesson the better. We have already taught it to millions who are less intelligent than the Pathfins of the Haziira frontier.' Lord Mayo's policy was to remove such crimes from the operations of honourable warfare into the jurisdiction of a strong armed police. To the objection that a raid, unless avenged by a military expedition, would impair our prestige on the frontier,' he answers : I object to fight for prestige. And even those who may still think that killing people for the sake of prestige is morally right, will hardly assert that the character and authority of the British arms in India are affected one way or the other by skirmishes with wild frontier tribes. But there are other considerations connected with the subject, of wider and greater import than the punishment of a few mountain savages, and the vindication of a local officer's prestige. Every shot fired in anger within the limits of our Indian Empire reverberates throughout Asia; gives to nations who are no friends to Christian or European rule the notion that amongst our own subjects there are still men in arms against us ; and corroborates the assertion that the people within our frontier are not yet wholly subjected to our sway, and that the British power is still disputed in Hindustan.' " He held that the true land frontier for India was a ring of friendly but entirely independent States, and before he died, Belooehistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Burmah, all previously agitated or anarchical, were orderly, friendly, and entirely confident that the great Empire on their borders intended no aggression. He believed that sound finance was the root of good administration, and within three years he had changed the almost permanent deficit of three millions a year into a surplus of more than a million a year. "lam. determined," he wrote in his first year to Sir H. Durand, "'not to have another deficit, even if it leads to the diminution of the Army, the re- duction of Civil Establishments, and the stoppage of Public Works. The longer I look at the thing, the MOTO I am con- vinced that our financial position is one of great weakness ; and that our national safety absolutely requires that it should be dealt with at once, and in a very summary manner.' 'I should be sorry,' he wrote to the Duke of Argyll, to say how much I feel the hard lot that is now east upon us, to recover the finances from a state of deficit. But unless we have a war, which God forbid, we will do it." The change was due to three causes,—a saving of £1,500,000 in direct annual expenditure, effected by severe economy ; an increase of revenue by 2500,000, obtained through direct taxation ; and a radical change in the financial relations between the Empire and its Provinces. The Provincial Governors had been accustomed to ask for what they wanted with an importunity which, backed as it often was by publia opinion, was almost irresistible. They had no motive for economy, and every motive for suggesting expenditure ; while if they once got hold of money, they spent it all to enable them to ask again. As Sir J. Strachey wrote, "they saw on every side the necessity for improvements, and their constant and justifiable desire was to obtain for their own Provinces and people as large a share as they could persuade the Government of India to give them out of the general revenues of the Empire. They found by experience, that the less economy they practised, and the more importunate their demands, the more likely they were to persuade the Govern- ment of India of the urgency of their requirements. In representing those requirements they felt that they did what
was right ; and they left to the Government of India, which had taken the task upon itself, the responsibility of refusing to provide the necessary means." Lord Mayo revolutionised that system :—" After an exhaustive preliminary corre- spondence with each separate Administration, he issued a Resolution on the 14th December, 1870, which may be called the Charter of the Provincial Governments. By this docu- ment, which in due time received the approval of the Secretary -of State, a fixed yearly consolidated grant was made to each Government, to enable it to defray the cost of its principal services, exclusive of the Army, but including Public Works. The grants thus made were final, for a period usually of five years, and were liable to reduction only in case of severe financial distress happening to the Supreme Government. They belong absolutely to the respective Local Governments. No savings from any one of them revert to the Imperial Treasury. Their distribution is left to the discretion of the Local Governments, without interference on the part of the Governor-General in Council." The General Treasury now, therefore, knows what it will have to provide for, while the Provincial Government profits by every economy in having more to spend. This was perhaps the greatest of all Lord Mayo's administrative reforms ; but he also commenced the system of building State railways, he fostered the new scheme of vernacular as supplementary to English education, he organised the Statistical Department, and he completely remodelled the government of the Andaman Islands, the huge convict settlement occupied by eight thousand of the fiercest and least hopeful of all Indian -criminals. It was in an expedition to visit the islands and inspect the improvements already made, that be lost his life. He was stabbed on February 8th, 1872, by a Pathan from beyond our frontier, who had been condemned to penal servi- tude for killing within our jurisdiction an hereditary foe. The man thought his offence no crime, and nursed through three years his intention to have revenge by killing some European of rank. The loss to India was a terrible one, for Lord Mayo, already a great administrator, might, in the fullness of his experience and in the strength of the confidence with which he had inspired the Government at, home, have' attempted still more formidable tasks. No one who reads Sir W. W. Hunter's monograph will doubt his powers, or question that he would to the end have used them as zealously as at first. The only defect of the record is that while it throws a flood of light on Lord Mayo as a great officer of State, it leaves the inner character of the man but partially distinguishable. We see his abilities and his rectitude, but we do not see his whole character, in which there must have been, if not foibles, at least peculiarities. Why, after he had sat in Parliament for twenty years, and governed Ireland for five, was the report of his appoint- ment received, not only by the public, but by men who had watched him closely, with such incredulous amazement ? The blunder certainly arose from no contrast between his pow°, s and his appearance, for if ever man had the face of a tranquil but determined ruler of men, it was Lord Mayo; and his cumbrousness of speech is hardly a sufficient explana- tion. Many bad speakers have been regarded as able men ; but there was a doubt about Lord Mayo's capacity which Sir W. W. Hunter does not sufficiently explain. We fancy, without knowing, that his conversation was as poor as his usual utterances in public,—that, in fact, he always needed time to produce his best.