THE PROTECTED PRINCES OF INDIA.* WHEN, some fifty years ago,
Macaulay wondered at the little interest excited, even among ourselves, by the great actions of our countrymen in the East, he had good cause for his wonder. The period of conquest was one of thrilling interest; every page of its history chronicled evants stranger than fiction; heroism of the most romantic type might well set aglow the national pride ; the principles of administration had a lesson for all to whom the government of a conquered race was a problem for consideration. Again, novelty of scene, the strangeness of the people, of their customs, religions, manner of living, mode of thought, all worked together to invest the subject with a unique charm. All this is changed now. In the sober, humdrum India of to-day the fiercest struggles are those that rage round finance. The Govern- ment of the country travels along well-defined lines, which afford no outlet for daring coups de main ; for revolu- tions we have nothing more dangerous than the " league- long " rollers of congress oratory; life in India is a thing familiar to every British household; the main problems to be solved deal with social reform, or abound in techni- calities which experts on the spot can alone hope to understand. Thus an intelligent interest in India is, for different reasons, more restricted than even in Macaulay's day. Yet there remain subjects of inquiry attractive in character and worthy of study by those who propose to themselves no close connection with Indian affairs. Among such is the history of British relations with the native princi- cipalities. The subject is one that has lost rather than gained by the fragmentary references to be found in books on British India. Its importance deserves separate treatment, and this it has received at the hands of Mr. Lee-Warner, in a work which shows a great skill in unravelling its multifarious intricacies.
Mr. Lee-Warner evidently considers the preservation of the native States to be a duty as well as sound policy, and in noting the dangers to which that policy has been exposed in three periods of Indian history, he accurately selects the spirit of benevolent coercion as the principal source of danger in the present age. "The danger," he says, "of the first period was anarchy, whilst the danger which followed the extension of the protectorate was sterility, and a sense of irresponsibility in the minds of Sovereigns, protected as they were against rebellion and assured of independence in their internal affairs. The danger of the present period of relations arises from the side of benevolent coercion. The quickened current of beneficent and progressive ideas which agitates the stream of British administration, finds its way to even the most sluggish waters of the native States."
• (1.) The Protected Princes of India. By William Lee-Warner, 0.8.1. London : Macmillan and Co. 1894.—(2 India's Prince,: Short Life Sketches of the native Balers of India. By Mrs. Griffith. London : W. H. Allen and Co. 1894.
The first six chapters of the book pass in historical review the obstacles which at the outset presented themselves to the formation of what the Company called "a firm union and alliance ; " the next six examine the rights and duties of the States ; while the concluding chapter appropriately discusses various theories as to the nature of the tie which unites these States to the Crown. "The position of the British Government," he remarks, "is not primus inter pares, but paramount, and it has never lacked the force to maintain its rights and compel obedience. It has never shirked its own duties which correspond with the rights of the States. Its duty is not only to protect, but to give strength and vitality to the native sovereignties, allowing them full scope to develop their own systems of administration. It must rely to a large extent on the argument that not merely the interests of British territory, but the solid interests of each protected Sovereign, are bound up in the common good of the United Empire. But there are duties which it has the right to enforce, and those duties may be considered under five heads : obligations for the common defence, obligations in regard to internal administration, the duties of loyalty to the Crown, and certain jurisdictional en- gagements." The obligations for the common defence are divided into two categories according as they concern a state of war or a state of peace. When war is threatened or com- menced, the writer shows by the analogy of other protectorates and by the text of Indian treaties that, with the exception of two States, Mysore and Hyderabad, which have commuted their liabilities, the British Government practically holds against the protected States a blank cheque upon their resources which it can fill in at pleasure. Why this cheque has not yet been filled in is explained on pp. 218.9. In times of peace, the obligations of the States are described as invol- ving such restrictions upon the strength of their armies and their armaments as shall prevent embarrassment to them- selves and disquietude to their neighbours. Limitations must, of course, be placed on their right to recruit, and, besides these duties affecting their own armies, they must assist the Imperial army in the matter of supplies, canton- ments, rights of passage, and measures for securing the Imperial system of communication by railway, telegraph, and road. To such claims on their loyal co-operation, the most jealous of the Indian Princes will certainly not take exception.
In the chapter on "Obligations in External Affairs," Mr. Lee-Warner is not content to rely upon the unmistakable terms of the treaties which deprive the States of all diplo- matic relations, whether with foreign Powers or each other, but points out by reference to the American Constitution, the Swiss Confederation, and the United States of the Ionian Islands, how reasonable are the demands made on the Indian Princes, and from what embarrassments they are saved. "At the period," he says (p. 269), "when the Indian States were included in the protectorate, and resigned their rights of negotiation, they were not fit to be trusted with such dangerous powers, and their surrender of their sovereign rights saved them from them- selves. Public conceptions of the sanctity of interstatal obligations have greatly improved ; but even in the pre- sent day, partiality, pecuniary necessities, or misconception might prejudice contracts. Such influences are happily neutralised by the wholesome rule which requires interstatal arrangements to be executed through the intervention of an impartial Government, which desires only the perpetuation of native rule and the prosperity of the Queen's allies." Approaching the subject of obligations in internal affairs, the writer is conscious of the fact that he is dealing with a difficult subject. "The fall extent," he remarks— p. 301—" of British rights of intervention in the Home Departments of the protected States has never been, and never can be, defined. The theory of it is well under- stood, but it has never been explained. When one leaves the safe ground of military and international obligations, in respect of which the paramount Power has received its authority to act, one enters upon the debatable ground of policy, and approaches the mysteries.' If Sir George Campbell was too sweeping in his comment on the relations between the British Government and the protected States- ' it is impossible to give a definite explanation of what matters we do meddle with and what we do not '—there is
solid truth in the application of his words to the in- ternal administration of the States." Over this delicate ground Mr. Lee-Warner walks warily. But to the lay mind his plan of treatment seems as sound as it is eminently safe. After proving that no violence is done to treaties by timely intervention to save the States from the fate of Coorg or Ondh, he differentiates interference in the interests of the States from interference in the interests of the British Government. Of the former, six types are given with which no one will quarrel. These are the right to recognise successions to sovereignties and to regulate disputed successions ; the right of interference to prevent dismember- ment of a State ; to suppress rebellion against the lawful Sovereign; to prevent gross misrule; to check inhuman practices or offences against natural law or public morality; to secure religious toleration. Of matters justifying inter- ference under the latter head, Mr. Lee-Warner selects juris- diction over British subjects, uniformity of coinage, railway jurisdiction, and judicial arrangements. But he adds the following caveat :—" Equal nations which recognise no obliga- tion to consult a superior before they enter into relations with other independent States, are forced by the circumstances of their inevitable intercourse with other nations to adapt their internal administration to the pressure of remonstrance. Some room for a similar discharge of obligations requiring concerted action, and for the maintenance of friendly rela- tions, must be left in the Indian system, where nearly seven hundred States are united to a superior Power." Again, on p. 303, he points out that while care must be taken that a policy of benevolent coercion does not prove more dangerous to the integrity of the Indian sovereignties than was the policy of escheat or annexation, the progressive wants of society impose new responsibilities on those who are charged with their administration.
The chapter on "The Obligations to the Crown" will pro- voke no criticism. But the next chapter, that on British jurisdiction in native States, demands notice. To the ordinary reader it may appear somewhat technical. Yet it deals with one of the most difficult problems of Indian political history, and to those who have followed the subject so far, it will probably be as interesting as anything in the book. In the lessons to be learnt from Roman history, upon which Mr. Lee-Warner dwells in his introductory chapter, he is evi- dently leading up to the conclusions here presented. There he justly remarks that Roman law converted the client States into provinces of the Empire, and he rejects any attempt to provide an Imperial organisation or judicial system for the States as incompatible with our engagements. He clears the ground by showing that it is absolutely necessary to make some pro- vision for British jurisdiction in the dependent States. In so far as this jurisdiction is exercised over British subjects, it is a personal jurisdiction which Parliament has conferred upon the Indian Legislature, and laws can be passed in British India for its delegation and control. But by the nature of the case, the parent Power must go further. In the disintegrated States that attribute of native State sovereignty which is called "jurisdiction," is divided by treaty, cession, or other lawful means, between the overlord, the British Government, and the protected Prince. It is a territorial and not a personal jurisdiction. It is exercised over places which are not in British India, and over persons who are not strictly subjects of the Queen. The British Army must be quartered in foreign cantonments, imperial lines of railway cross in and out of the native States, at various centres of commerce, civil stations are established beyond British India, and in some cases the jurisdiction of a chief over the whole of his territories is limited to a certain class of crimes or suits. For such cases neither Parliament nor the Indian Legislature can provide, because the local extent of its legislating power does not go so far. The vacuum is thus filled by the executive authority of the Secretary of State in Council, who establishes courts, pre- scribes their procedure, and delegates his power to British magistrates and Judges called political officers. This brief outline of the position will suffice to indicate the character of the problems to be solved and their solution. • The gist of the whole matter is that sovereignty is divisible, and is shared in different proportions in the different States between the pro- tected Prince and the authority described as the Secretary of State in Council. The courts established by the Secretary of State in Council are established by him in his capacity as part
ruler of the State, and in so far as they exercise jurisdiction over other than British subjects, they rest on what corre- sponds to the law of the State and not to the law of British India. To those who are engaged in building up systems of government on the coast of Africa and. in Borneo, this chapter will afford interesting parallels of difficulty and solutions capable of application or imitation. In the con- cluding chapter, on "The Tie which Unites," Mr. Lee- Warner examines the character of that tie, and shows that neither "international," nor "feudal," nor " constitutional " precisely covers the whole ground. Define it as we may, a, common protection unites under one standard of allegiance, and by one bond of common interest, the isolated groups of Hindoo, Mahommedan, and aboriginal societies which make up India; and "the maintenance of the union," says Mr. Lee-Warner, "offers the best promise of realising the hope of the future which the late Poet-Laureate beautifully expressed in Akbar's Dream." We have spoken of the skill with which the writer disentangles the numerous knotty points of an intricate subject. We may add that his style is scholarly, and that varied and apt illustration lights up what- ever is technical or abstruse. To the specialist in India, the work will be essential in the practical help it affords; for the philosophical student of history, it will have the wider signifi- cance of theoretical inquiry.
We have grouped with Mr. Lee-Warner's able and states- manlike work—a real contribution to political science—a popular account of the existing protected Princes of India. The work makes no pretence to literary merit, but it gives a fairly interesting account of the men who rule the home- ruled portion of the Indian Empire. It contains, besides, a description of their dominions, and is embellished with por- traits of the rulers and views of their palaces and chief cities. The account of the Nizam is, as it should be, specially full. The author has usefully reprinted the letter to the Viceroy, in which the ruler of the great State of Hyderabad offered to contribute towards the expense of defending the Indian frontier. It may be remembered that the letter concluded : "This is my offer in time of peace. At a later stage, you can count upon my sword." In a word, those who are interested in the personal side of the question, will find much to interest them in Indices Princes.