TOPICS OF THE DAY.
TO LORD STANLEY.—ARE WE TO HOLD INDIA, AND HOW ?
Tan latest news from India gives force and emphasis to our re- peated assertion, that the military and administrative problems raised by the mutiny and accompanying events require totally different treatment to that which they have hitherto received. It must not be forgotten that, upon a broad view of our proceedings on this side, all that we have contributed to a settlement of the questions has been some thirty thousand English troops. During the late summer and autumn of last year it was taken for granted that the rapid dispatch of reinforcements for the English army in India comprehended the whole necessity of the case. So that some thousands of Englishmen were landed in India in time for the winter season, it was thought everything must thenceforward go well. According to the prevalent theory there were a few
• strong places to be taken, and a few collected bodies of mutineers to be destroyed, and for this work thirty thousand English troops were considered more than enough. Accordingly the late Govern- ment despatched English regiments, and the best available Eng- lish general, and took no more thought about the matter. Since that moment all the energies of our statesmen at home have been expended upon plans for the destruction of the East India Company and the substitution of some government in its place. The war in India, it has been thought, might be left to Sir Colin Campbell, the English troops, and the cold season. There were not wanting men at the time who augured ill from the disposition of mind shown by the authorities at home here in England to revolutionize the English branch of Indian Administration instead of keeping their thoughts in a state of watchful attention to the possible Indian developments of so extraordinary an occurrence as the entire revolt and break down of the Bengal military power. There were not wanting those who considered that the whole theory upon which we were proceeding, that a certain number of English troops must be all powerful to settle the Indian question, was founded on a misapprehension of the true nature of the crisis, in its moral aspects, and of the probable march of events. It oc- curred to far-seeing men even then that, if the cold weather cam- paign did not witness the complete suppression of the fires of re- bellion, if the prestige of British power, and the actual material weight of the British armed hand were diminished by the km- traction of the revolt into the hot season, the whole state of affairs might become serious in the extreme, and assume proportions little dreamed of at the outset. But the anticipations of thinkers of this class are becoming more than verified. The latest news from India shows, as its net result, that the massive columns which have swept certain districts clear from rebellion for the moment, scotch the snake, but do not kill it. And it appears, that with three or four months of the hot season still to be encountered, available English troops are but few in number. In fact it is con- sidered that less than thirty thousand Englishmen are actually fit for duty. In the meantime a vast army of Sikhs has been hastily thrown together, which does not pay to the British power any- thing that deserves the name of a trustworthy allegiance. Upon these troops depends in a great measure the safety of the extreme north-west of India. While, beyond the frontier, Beloochistan and Affghanistan are fermenting with the anxious inquiry whether British power is or is not about to cease in that quarter of the world ; and Persia shows her opinion upon the subject by steadily declining to carry out the most important parts of the treaty which closed the late war. Besides this, feudatories of the Beloochistan power, notably the Jam of Beyla, are bearing them- selves so equivocally and so threateningly towards us that it is be- coming a question with our military and civil administration, in that quarter, whether our safety may not lie in taking that bold initiative against them, which for men driven to bay by Asiatics is generally the wisest policy. All these things make it abundantly clear that the question which we have proposed at the head of this paper to the young statesman, who at this most critical moment of his country's his- tory is the person most responsible for the answer, is not out of time or of place. It is a question that no longer belongs to the school of alarmists who are ready to draw the most terrible in- ferences from the slightest facts, but it arises naturally from the calm survey of the whole action of the revolt, and of its bearings upon Indian politics. If, as has been the fashionable view of the subject hitherto, our holding of India, as a whole, depends upon tine overwhelming force of armed Englishmen, it seems scarcely rash to say that the facts, as they stand, have already gone a long way to settle the question against us. Nay, it seems scarcely possible to effect even the thorough pacification of the country by such means. It can never be sufficiently re- membered that the present difficulty is quite different in kind from anything with which the British power has hitherto had to deal. Victory over an Asiatic army, except, indeed, in the case of the Sikhs, or the storming of an Asiatic strong place, have been comparatively easy tasks for a mixed British and Native force. But the pacification of immense territories, and the crush- ing of a hydra-like revolt pervading` them, have furnished a per- fectly new problem. - In spite of warning`this prablein has come upon us unawares. And Ads plain that it constitutes a danger of the most pressing description. For now more than twelve- months there have been armed men abrio:a defying British power is India. And at the end of the time we find ourselves in a posi- tion inferior to that we occupied. at the beginning. We have taken our Delhi and our Lucknovr. But the fire still spreads ; and the mass of combustible material throughout the empire, and across its frontiers, is so great, that, unless it be speedily extin- guished, catastrophes far more grave than any which have yet occurred may signalize the second year of the history of the great Indian revolt, or mutiny. It becomes, therefore, kperemptory necessity that our states. men should sit down and consider this Indian question more closely and comprehensively than they yet have done. The time does not appear far distant when uncontrolled power and respon- sibility will virtually be in the hands of Lord Stanley. At a moment when the highest available wisdom that can be brought to bear upon difficulties so great and perplexing is needed, he will, according to all likelihood, have the virtual selection of eight out of the fifteen advisers, from whom he is to derive emu_ sel and support in one of the greatest tasks ever imposed upon a statesman, young or old. If he really grasp in all its stern and naked simplicity the truth, that upon the next few months of his administration, depends the whole future of English rule in India, depends his whole future position in the annals of English statesmanship and the esteem of his countrymen, it cannot be but that lie will make a religion of selecting those and those only who he feels possess a real insight into the pressing needs of the hour ; those and those only who can deal with the insight of statesmen with the question, , what are the general principles upon which depend the thorough pacification of India, and the build. ing up of a secure and permanent empire for an indefinite time hereafter.
We apprehend that this inquiry may meet with a very plain and true answer ; that principle most assuredly is not to be found in the presence of a greater or less number of English troops, but ih the course taken for the reorganization of the native armies of India, and in the redistribution of civil administration, with a view to the defence of India considered as an integral empire, for which we are now, in spite of the thirty or forty independent Princes, virtually responsible. We believe, that it will be found that, as we began in the conquest of India, so, in spite of this military mutiny, we shall have now, a hundred years later, to pacify, civilize, and hold that country. Our first conquests were made by Sepoys devoted to officers whom they found to be, in the fullest sense of the word, their true kings and governors. In the Scinde horse, which it should never be forgotten is so largely oomposed of men from the very districts whence were drawn those Bengal Sepoys who have so savagely turned against us, we have the living representative, in the most perfected form, of that free spontaneous military system, which is the one thing needful for the pacifying and holding of India by Englishmen. In the great soldier to whom that military organization is due, we have the capacity to expand it rapidly and effectively to the mea- sure of the present pressing wants 'of the country. In the great administrators who have wisely and firmly preserved Scinde and the Punjab in tranquillity, and drawn from them sources of strength for the crisis, we have men capable of affording the greatest assistance in such a work. In short, the principles are clear, the men who can carry them out are avail- able, and the ease is one of urgency, which will not wait for commissions of inquiry sitting here in England. The organi- zation upon an unassailable footing of the north-west frontier provinces, and the rapid application to the great levies of Sikhs of the principle upon which the Scinde horse has been governed, are the two measures which will not brook'
rook delay, which cannot bear postponement to " next session." What is required for the pacification of India is a sort of temporary military dictatorship, and there can be no person so fit to wield it as that great military administrator, whose warnings, had they been attended to, would have saved the empire from the crash which has befallen it—Ge- neral Jacob of the Scinde horse.
The point which we are most deeply anxious to enforce is, that such a method of organization, conducted by some such adminis- trator, is of the most immediate importance for dealing with the actual mutiny or revolt itself, and with that great Sikh mass of equivocal military power, which is nominally ours, but may at any moment turn against us. It ought to be abundantly clear by this time, that the mere sending of English re- inforcements will be a comparatively useless measure unless ac- companied by powerful reconstructive measures applied to our civil and military systems. It ought to be clear also to any person who surveys the whole course of events in Central Asia and India, that every month during which this revolt is protracted is another nail in the coffin of our India Empire. In all earnestness we would impress upon the mind of Lord Stanley that he has taken up an office which requires from him that he should free himself from every influence, if any there be, thit may hinder his percep- tion of the tremendous magnitude of his work and his responsibi- lity. The crisis that has befallen the Indian, and therefore the, British Empire, is one which will no longer bear trifling with. He cannot too rapidly learn that the vessel of the State is i.!.1 Teri difficult waters indeed, and that everything must be postponed t° taking the best pilots on board. The country has viewed with admiring sympathy the courage with which he has taken " the most difficult part Of administration at this moment. But it is an awful question for him whether his portion is hereafter to be the gratitude or the reprobation of Englishmen. Meantime h has been actively helping to make a clear sweep of administration here at home. The amnion of the East India Company is all $ expelled. Does Lord Stanley intend to introduce the seven devils of Downing Street and the Horse Guards ? We will hope that one who has given so many proofs of earnestness will find strength of will to execute, as he certainly has strength of faculty and of candour to appreciate the true wisdom for this critical moment. Let us wait and see how Lord Stanley will interpret in his own practice that union of power and responsibility which he has been so active this session in preaching as a doctrine, and both of which he has certainly accumulated in no ordinary degree in his own hands, and upon his own head.