31 AUGUST 1867, Page 7


WE want English politicians, particularly politicians who, so to speak, stand on the threshold of the Cabinet, to remember an incident of the last few months. In August, 1866, Lord Cranborne was appointed Secretary of State for India, and the selection was received by the general public with a sort of stare, a murmur of surprise, which in the more violent journals became a positive hoot of derision. The Star was half inclined to call the appointment a crime, and the Telegraph quoted it as a final instance of Tory corruption and imbecility. Eight months after, Lord Crinborne resigned on grounds quite unconnected with Indian affairs. Nothing particularly interesting to the public had occurred in India in the interim ; no great war, no mutiny, no one of the few events which momentarily fix English attention upon Indian affairs. A budget had, indeed, been produced, but it was not Lord Cranborne's,; a despatch had been discussed, but it was about Mysore, and the public notion of Mysore is that Tippoo lived there once, that he had a mechanical tiger which roared, and that he was killed by the Duke of Wellington. Never- theless, a complete change had passed over public sentiment about Lord Cranborne. It was understood in all societies, among, all classes interested in politics, by the squires as well as by the statesmen, by the ten-pounders as well as• by the journalists, that England had found another efficient Great Mogul, another man competent to govern, from a distance of seven thousand miles, a fifth of the human race. Silently— for it is of no use for them to talk, they are dogs in the sight of Vestries—the great family party which fights, and governs, and plants, and proselytizes in India, which throughout Asia plays the part assigned on the Continent to the English aristocracy, had reckoned up their new man, accepted him, and thenceforward were prepared, outside parochial politics, to follow him as a worthy leader of men. Quickly, through the masses of long letters re- ceived every week from India, through words dropped in clubs, through remarks at dinner tables, through stories told at country houses, through an article or two in journals which editors read, the Indian impression was conveyed to the British middle class, and filtered down and down, till a journal like the Telegraph actually published something like a formal apology for its misconception of Lord Cranborne's powers. Before his resignation had impressed politicians with a sense of his independence, before he had uttered a word on the Reform Bill, the Anglo-Indians, who are almost without ex- ception Radicals, had raised a representative Tory in public estimation from an able, but acrid debater, into a leading statesman.

What has all that to do with Indian furlough rules ? Just this ; that the main cause of all white grievances in India is the belief among political men that Anglo-Indians have no political power. They have been turned out of Parliament, they own no boroughs, and they produce no orators, and unless a war is toward, east of the Isthmtis, they may safely be despised. If the smallest colony in British possession hated its governors at home with the virulent intensity of feeling, the absolute loathing, with which the great Indian aristocracy now hates the India House, it would find a hundred advocates in Parliament, each anxious to build a reputation on the satisfaction of its claims. The Indians cannot find one, cannot as they say, get the most distant approach to a fair hearing, cannot make ordinary politicians even understand what it is they are so angry about, have actually to express a sort of servile thankfulness because the Times, habitually more kindly towards them than any other journal, allows letters upon their master grievance to appear during the recess. If Somerset House, or Whitehall, or the Custom House were half as irritated by any oppression as the Anglo-Indians are by this one, the official world would be in a turmoil, and the papers weighed down with letters; yet 5,000 English gentlemen ruling an empire, and connected with every family in the country, are actually thankful be- cause they have an opportunity of saying, in an exceptionally dull season, that they have a big grievance. The whole satisfaction of their lives is destroyed by the operation of an honest prejudice in the India House, and they are not per- mitted, they say, even to expose it. We really are not exaggerating, though our readers will doubtless think so. We only wish we could publish the letters which reach us weekly from men to whom India seems to have given every- thing, who are neither overlooked, nor impoverished, nor affronted, who are and consider themselves successful, and who hate their lives because of leave rules to which they cannot get five minutes' parliamentary attention, which journalists will not write about, which, if they did write about, the public would not study. They will not read what we are saying now, we know that well enough, and ibis more from pity for a misery we know to be real than from any hope of relieving it, that we try once more to put the Anglo- Indian case into an English form. As long as it is in the Indian one, a muddle of " furloughs," " sick leave," " private leave," " privilege leave," and " Indian leave," it will never be listened to at all, and we believe we can bring the case most fully home to the English mind by an apparently minute illustration.

It has always been the custom in India, as in England, to allow officials an annual holiday of a month. That is not much, people will admit, even when one does not work thir- teen hours a day—Indians, if they work at all, work like slaves—under a thermometer of 80°, but it was as much as the Government could give, with due respect to the interests of the public service. To make it a little more, the India House, which, when its prejudices are not in the way, is a kindly employer, allowed the official at his own discretion to accumulate his holidays for three years, and, such accumula- tion being convenient to the State, which would else have to be perpetually finding substitutes, added a fourth month to enable the official to rejoin. This holiday, always very dear to the services, became about 1856 almost invaluable to one particular section of them, the experienced men who are getting near the top. Such men in India are usually about forty-four years old, are receiving salaries ranging from 2,000/. .to 3,5001. a year, and have children at home just growing into marriageable girls and collegians. To see them for a few days, once in four years, to keep up in their minds the recollection of the father's face, to be sure that they are happy, to bring to their minds the sense that they have homes, although so far away, is to most fathers .a matter of somewhat keen interest. The Indians have other ties, too, odd as it seems to the India House, fathers and mothers getting on in life—a son of forty-two presumes a father of seventy—relatives of all sorts and ages, whose lives are made the happier by seeing the Indian son, or nephew, or brother for a few days in every four years. Naturally, therefore, as it mattered nothing to the State, and cost no money—the pay of that rank being equal even to the demands of the Peninsular and Oriental Company—the higher officers got into a habit of running home for six weeks, just to kiss the children, and see the old mother, and settle any morsel of family business that might happen to be afloat. Will it.be believed that the India House summarily forbade the practice They did not abolish the leave, which would have been in- telligible, though harsh, but they forbade officers, as if from wanton cruelty, to use it where they pleased. They might go to the Hills, to play chicken hazard and seduce their neigh- bours' wives, or to Cashmere, or. to Ceylon, or to China, or even to Egypt, but they must not on any pretence revive family associations or reinvigorate their constitutions by a run to Southampton. It unsettled them, said the fifteen little Moguls, made them discontented with India, and kept up a yearning for London life and English country pleasures which was most injurious. The officials, on the other hand, argued that the evil, if evil there was, lay in the new hanker for England, and the mental un- rest it produced, and not in the new way of relieving it, and resented the order as at once an injury and an in- sult. The Fifteen, however, could not be moved, and two years ago they went a long step further in the same direction. Indians being also Englishmen, have sometimes business at home, money to inherit, fathers to bury, claims to ascertain, and it has been for half a century a custom to recognize that fact. If a man once in six years would write to the Viceroy, informing him confidentially why he wanted to run home, and would, to show his sincerity, sacrifice his whole pay and allowances, he might go home for six months without loss of his appointment. This, however, as steam improved, became popular, too, despite the great sacrifices involved, and the India House, true to its policy of making India as far as it can a separate planet, abolished this- also. The same Papal spirit, the same hatred of modern life and civilization, runs through the whole of the leave rules. They are not in them- selves illiberal, Indian officers can if they like stay only too long away from duty, provided only they will stay in places where their residence is injurious to them, or will come to England at intervals so long that on their return India seems once more a foreign and a detestable land. They may have twenty months' sick leave, and twenty-five months' privilege leave, and a three years' furlough at home, and no end of " hill leave," may in all avoid duty for at least a fourth of their twenty-five years' service, but they may not come home or short visits at decent intervals, may not, in fact, regard themselves as what they are—English officials serving her Majesty abroad. They are to be Indians, not Englishmen, and as Indians the less they see of Europe the better for their contentment.

We need not point out how utterly inconsistent a spirit of this kind is with the facts of actual life. It would be harsh even if Indians could bring up their children in India, for it would still thwart a natural and justifiable love of home for no adequate reason, but as all children are and must be sent home, it is felt, as one great Indian officer writes to us, as "one of those cruelties of stupidity which irritate more than cruelties with a meaning." It is the main cause of that fierce discontent which has invaded Indian society, which is demo- ralizing the services, and which produces one immense political evil—a habit of receiving English orders not as final awards, as they used to be received, but as orders from enemies intended to insult and annoy, which honourable men must fight, if needful, by appeals for democratic support. This spirit, which is day by day deepening, has for result one consequence which the India House does not like, a constant and most injurious criticism in Parliament—which really does not know and can- not know whether orders, say, about promotion, are fair or not —and another which English statesmen cannot approve. The local Governments become the advocates of the services against the supreme authority, publish their orders under∎a sort of protest signifying, " It is not our fault, gentlemen, it is all those rascals at home," and throw on the India House the whole odium of every unpopular restriction. The discontent rises almost into a monomania, till willing obedience to England is a thing unknown, and the hierarchy of authority is kept up, so to speak, by a sort of physical force. And it is all so utterly unnecessary. The Indians are asking nothing except that steam and its consequences shall be recognized, that the close relation with England which the India House cannot abolish if it would shall be regarded as a good instead of as an evil. They are not asking for " gold spoons and turtle soup," but for liberty to eat their own porridge out of their own Britan- nia metal at the hours which best suit their individual digestions. So far from being immoderate, the Indians will be content with less than their old privileges, if only they may enjoy them in their own way. They do not ask a revival of the old wild rules of charter leave, which enabled an officer to live half his term in New Zealand or the Mauritius on full Indian allowances, or in fact anything but most moderate intervals of relaxation at home. They will give up, we believe, the furloughs, which are really injurious to the service, and make any concession about sick leave, that most un- manageable of leave difficulties, if only the Government will let them have the holiday they are entitled to now without restrictions, will grant, that is, one year in every five, without loss of office, in full commutation of all other external leaves whatever, sick leave, of course, being taken when needed, but counting against the quinquen- nial holidays. The way this would work is easily described. John Smith, magistrate of five years' standing, would not come home,—first, because he has not the money ; secondly, because his first baby is only just coming ; and thirdly, because he wants to keep a reserve of one year against sickness or sudden necessity. He would come the second five, as he does now, but only for one year, instead of three, and go out again with his Indian habits unbroken for a spell of four years, made cheerful by the certainty of return. Thenceforward he would be able to keep up a genuine relation to home, to parents, and to his children, and yet never be long enough away to get out of his Indian harness, to lose his Indian friends, or to break his habit of Indian work. He would be a well paid officer in the tropics, bat without the sense of exile, would, in fact, be a happy and contented man, instead of a most unhappy and discontented one. The State would not lose a day of his work, nor a rupee of pay, and would gain by the whole difference between willing and unwilling service, between an obedience rendered with a hearty wish that the orders may succeed, and obedience rendered with a languid hope that the results may prove disastrous enough to rid India of the Council to which every misfortune, exaction, or failure is now in India traced. If Sir Stafford Northcote cares to make an Indian reputation, this is his opportunity, or rather this would be, if the Indian Minister of the Crown were not on all such matters rather less influential than one of his own clerks. The clerk might quietly recommend, but—the question having a pecuniary side—the unhappy Minister can only petition fifteen old men, delighted with every chance of proving that his only right is to shield them from the smallest responsibility.