« ÎnapoiContinuați »
These remarks point to what I have long believed to be a serious misfortune to our Indian Government—the non-existence of any history of British India which is trustworthy and complete in its facts, and which at the same time possesses the essential quality of literary excellence. Since the earlier part of the present century the old stories of the crimes by which the establishment of our power in India was attended have been passed on from one author to another. A few students know that for the most part these stories are false, and (to use the words of Sir Alfred Lyall) that “the hardihood and endurance of the men who won for England an empire were equalled only by the general justice and patience with which they pacified and administered it.' These calumnies have caused, and still are causing, no little mischief both in England and in India. Thousands of excellent people are filled with righteous indignation when they read of the atrocious acts of Clive and Ilastings, the judicial murder of Nandkumár, the extermination of the Rohillas, the plunder of the Begums. No suspicion of the truth reaches them that these horrors never occurred, and the fear can hardly be repressed that there may be some foundation even now for charges of Indian misgovernment and oppression. Disparagement of their own countrymen has always been one of the common failings of unwise Englishmen, those birds of evil presage who at all times have grated our ears with their melancholy song. They find in the supposed crimes of the founders of our Indian empire an unfailing source of invective and obloquy. This false history is systematically taught by us, and believed by the educated Natives of India to be true. It is impossible that this should not have a serious effect on their feelings towards their English rulers.
We owe to Sir James Stephen, to whom India owes many other debts for good service, “the first attempt (I am quoting the words of Sir Henry Maine) to apply robust, careful, and dispassionate criticism to this period of history. One at least of the imaginary crimes to which I have referred—the judicial murder of Nandkumár by Impey and Hastings—will hardly again appear in sober history.
The great criminal in this matter was James Mill, whose history, “saturated,' if history was ever so saturated, ' with party politics,' is ordinarily accepted to this day as the standard and veritable history of British India. IIis excessive dryness and severity of style, Sir James Stephen says, “produce an impression of accuracy and labour which a study of original authorities does not by any means confirm. . . . His want of accuracy is nothing to his bad faith. My experience is, that when he makes imputations, especially on lawyers, he ought always to be carefully confronted with the original authorities.'? I should have hesitated, even on such authority as that of Sir James Stephen, to accuse an historian not only of inaccuracy but of bad faith if I did not feel that I had qualified myself to form an independent opinion on the subject.
I have personally had occasion to investigate the facts of perhaps the worst of the crimes of which Hastings has been accused, the sale and extermination of the Rohillas. Several years of my Indian service were passed in the province of Rohilkhand. When I was first sent there, men were still living who remem
The Story of Nuncomar and the Impeachment of Sir Elijah Impey, vol. ii. p. 119.
bered having heard in their childhood the story of Hafiz Rahmat, the great Rohilla chief, of his defeat by the English, and his death. I went to Rohilkhand without a doubt of the truth of the terrible story told by Burke and Mill, and by Lord Macaulay in his famous essay, but I soon changed my opinion. I found myself in the midst of a population by which the history of those times had not been forgotten, and of which an important and numerous section consisted of Rohillas, the children and grand-children of the men whose race was supposed to have been almost exterminated. I was in frequent communication with a Rohilla prince who ruled over a considerable territory which his ancestor owed to Warren Hastings, and which had been in the possession of his family ever since. No one had ever heard of the atrocities which to this day fill Englishmen with shame. Later in life I was able to undertake an examination of the original authorities on the Rohilla war, and I can hardly express in moderate language my indignation at the misrepresentations, the suppression of truth, the garbling of documents of which I found that Mill had been guilty. The English army was not hired out by Hastings for the destruction of the Rohillas; the Rohillas, described by Burke as belonging to the bravest, the most honourable and generous nation on earth,' were no nation at all, but a comparatively small body of cruel and rapacious Afghán adventurers who had imposed their foreign rule on an unwilling Hindu population, and the story of their destruction is fictitious. It was unfortunate that Lord Macaulay accepted Mill as an authority deserving the fullest confidence. There is not an important fact in his essay on Warren Hastings which is not taken from Mill's History. I share the admiration which Sir James Stephen has expressed for the services rendered to India by Lord Macaulay, and of him I shall speak no word of disrespect. But it is a misfortune that he was thus misled. I fear that the time is distant when English people will cease to accept his brilliant essays as the chief sources of their knowledge regarding the establishment of our empire in India.
There remains one subject, connected with our system of education, to which I have not referred. It is matter for great regret that almost nothing of our knowledge of ancient or modern India, whether of its languages or its history, its people or its institutions, has been derived from the colleges and universities of our Government. They succeed in giving a more or less good imitation of an ordinary English education, but the young men of India learn in them very little about their own country. An unfortunate result is often seen in the want of sympathy shown by English-speaking Hindus, and especially by Bengális, for the poorer and less instructed classes of their countrymen, in their love for the emptiest platitudes of political discussion, and in their persistent refusal to grapple with those terrible social questions which are always confronting us in India, and in which lie the chief difficulties of our Government. This is a subject to which I shall return in another lecture
AN INDIAN PROVINCE.
REASONS FOR DESCRIBING AN INDIAN PROVINCE-THE NORTH-WESTERN
PROVINCES AND OUDH–THEIR SITUATION, AREA, POPULATION, LANGUAGE, AND HISTORY-ASPECT OF THE COUNTRY—THE AGRICULTURAL POPULATION-CITIES-MANUFACTURES-DELHI AND AGRA-THE MONUMENTS OF THE AFGHÁN AND MOGHUL DYNASTIES/RACES OF MENARYANS AND NON-ARYAN--THE RELIGIONS OF THE PEOPLE-HINDUS AND THE HINDU RELIGION-SIR ALFRED LYALL'S ASIATIO STUDIES -ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE RELIGION OF AN INDIAN PROVINCE MR. IBBETSON'S REPORT-CHARACTERISTICS OF BRAAMANISM-SUPERSTITIONS AND CUSTOMS-CASTE-ERRONEOUS IDEAS REGARDING IT-ITS TRUE CHARACTER-THE REVERENCE FOR BRAHMANS --CASTE NOT CONFINED TO HINDUS-CASTE AMONG INDIAN MOHAMMEDANS-THE DISTRIBUTION OF MOHAMMEDANS IN INDIA-SMALL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MAJORITY OF MOHAMMEDANS AND HINDUS- THE MORE ORTHODOX MOHAMMEDANS THOSE
FOREIGN DESCENT-THE MOHAMMEDANS NO CAUSE FOR POLITICAL ANXIETY-EFFECTS OF ENGLISH EDUCATION-CONVERTS TO
If anyone were to propose to give in a few lectures an adequate description of all the countries of Europe, their geography, their climates, their governments and systems of administration, the character and customs and languages and religions of their inhabitants—his undertaking would not be more impossible than that of giving within the same limits an adequate description of India; nor, however much those limits might be exceeded, do I believe that for the latter task any man living possesses the necessary knowledge. I think that if I endeavour to give some account of one of the great provinces, noting, as I go on, points which in other Indian countries differ or correspond, I may be able to convey