Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

One such view in particular, that from Binsar in Kumaon, stands out vividly in my remembrance. This mountain is 8,000 feet high, covered with oak and rhododendron. Towards the north you look down over pineclad slopes into a deep valley, where, 6,000 feet below, the Sarju runs through a tropical forest. Beyond the river it seems to the eye as if the peaks of perpetual snow rose straight up and almost close to you into the sky. From the bottom of the valley to the top of Nanda Devi you see at a glance almost 24,000 feet of mountain. The stupendous golden or rosecoloured masses and pinnacles of the snowy range extend before you in unbroken succession for more than 250 miles, filling up a third part of the visible horizon, while on all other sides, as far as the eye can reach, stretch away the red and purple ranges of the lower mountains. In a hundred ages of the gods, writes one of the old Sanskrit poets, 'I could not tell you of the glories of Himachal.

I must add that few of those who spend the summer in the hill stations of Northern India have the

opportunity of witnessing such scenes as these. If they suppose, at a place like Simla, that they have seen the Himálaya, they greatly deceive themselves. In my own opinion, you may see more magnificent mountains among the Alps.

29

LECTURE II.

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE GOVERNMENT IN INDIA AND

AT HOME.

PRESIDENCIES AND PROVINCES—THE PRESIDENCY OF BENGAL-FIRST CONSTI

TUTION OF THE GOVERNMENT-THE REGULATING ACT OF GEORGE III.HASTINGS AND HIS COUNCIL CHANGES BETWEEN 1773 AND 1833-RENEWAL OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY'S CHARTER IN 1833—THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF INDIA IN COUNCIL-SEPARATION OF THE NORTH-WESTERN PROVINCES FROM BENGAL/RENEWAL OF THE CHARTER IN 1853----A LIEUTENANTGOVERNOR APPOINTED FOR BENGAL-THE MUTINY OF THE NATIVE ARMY

TRANSFER OF THE GOVERNMENT TO THE CROWN--THE INDIAN COUNCILS ACT OF 1861-THE EXISTING CONSTITUTION OF THE SUPREME AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS—THE GOVERNOR-GENEKAL IN COUNCIL-THE INDIAN LEGISLATURES-THEIR POWERS-THE GOVERNMENTS OF MADRAS AND BOMBAY--THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNORS OF BENGAL, THE NORTHWESTERN PROVINCES, AND PUNJAB--THE CHIEF COMMISSIONERS OF BURMA, THE CENTRAL PROVINCES, AND ASSAM--FORMER CUMBROUS MODE OF TRANSACTING BUSINESS--OPINION OF MR. J.S. MILL-OBSERVATIONS OF SIR HENRY MAINE-CHANGES MADE BY LORD CANNING AND BY THE INDIAN COUNCILS ACT-REFORMS COMPLETED BY LORD LAWRENCE--THE COUNCIL CONVERTED INTO A CABINET -THE MANNER OF TRANSACTING BUSINESS--POWER OF GOVERNOR-GENERAL TO OVERBULE THE COUNCIL EXERCISE OF THIS POWER BY LORD LYTTON-MIGRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT TO SIMLA -RELATIONS BETWEEN SUPREME AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS-MR. BRIGHT ON THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA-DECENTRALISATION--THE VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS AND SECRETARIATS—THE HOME GOVERNMENT-THE SECRETARY OF STATE AND COUNCIL OF INDIA-MODE OP TRANSACTING BUSINESS NATURE OF CONTROL EXERCISED OVER THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA.

In the earlier times of the East India Company, the affairs of the three principal settlements in Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, were, in each case, administered by a President and a Council composed of servants of the Company, and the term • Presidency' was applied to the whole tract over which their authority extended. The term has lasted to the present day, and is still used in official papers, but it has almost ceased to have any special meaning. British India is not divided into presidencies, but into provinces, eight of which are extensive countries under separate Governments. The presidencies of Madras and Bombay are now the provinces of the same names.

The term · Presidency of Bengal' requires some explanation.

The name Bengal has had, at different periods since the country came into our possession, very different meanings. It was originally applied, as it still is by the Natives of India, to the tract sometimes called Lower Bengal, including the deltas of the Ganges and Bráhmaputra, and inhabited by the people who speak Bengáli. The earliest factories and settlements on that side of India were established in Bengal, and, as British authority went on extending, the name Bengal was applied to all the territories administered from Fort William, the official head-quarters in Calcutta. Thus, the Presidency of Bengal, or, according to its proper official designation, Fort William in Bengal, came to include not only Bengal and the neighbouring provinces of Behár and Orissa, but the whole of the British conquests in Northern India. Some remnants of the old system still survive. There is a single army for the three provinces of Bengal, the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, and the Punjab, and this, although, as I shall have again to notice, it has not a single native of Bengal in its ranks, is still called the Bengal Army. Another survival from old times is seen in the Bengal Civil Service. The members of the Indian Civil Service, recruited under the system of open competition, are appointed, before they leave England, to the provinces to which under ordinary circumstances they remain permanently attached. The Civil Services of the North-Western Provinces and the Punjab are, for all administrative purposes, as distinct from that of Bengal as from those of Madras and Bombay ; but, in regard to some matters connected with annuities to widows and children, they are still treated as a single body and included in the so-called Bengal Civil Service.

The first Act of Parliament which prescribed a definite system of government for the affairs of India was that of 1773. It provided for the appointment of a Governor-General and a Council of four members for the Presidency of Bengal. The administration was to be carried on in accordance with the votes of the majority of the Council, and the Governor-General had no power to set aside their decisions. Certain powers of control, vaguely defined, were given to the Government of Bengal over the presidencies of Madras and Bombay. Warren Hastings was the first GovernorGeneral of Bengal. The scandalous dissensions in his Council, under the malignant influence of Francis, have become a well known matter of history. They showed that government by the constantly shifting majority of a Council was impossible ; but although similar facts repeatedly occurred to illustrate the folly of such a system, it was not until 1786 that a partial remedy was applied, after Lord Cornwallis had made it a condition of his acceptance of the office of Governor-General that the power of overruling his Council should be given to him. On the renewal of the Company's Charter in 1793,” the powers of the Governor-General were further extended ; authority to overrule their Councils 1 Regulating Act, 13 Geo. III. c. 63.

2 33 Geo. III. c. 52.

was given to the Governors of Madras and Bombay ; the power of the Governments of those presidencies to make laws and regulations for their own territories was recognised; and the supreme authority of the Governor-General in Council over the whole of India was distinctly declared. No very important changes in the constitution of the Government were made after this until the renewal of the Charter in 1833, when the trading powers of the Company ceased. The GovernorGeneral in Council of Bengal then became the GovernorGeneral of India in Council. Bengal was to be divided into two presidencies, Fort William in Bengal and Agra. The Governor-General was to be Governor of the former, and a Governor was to be appointed for the latter. The Agra presidency was not constituted, but by an amending Act passed in 1835 2 the territories which were to have been included in it were placed, under the name of the North-Western Provinces, under a Lieutenant-Governor without a Council. Madras and Bombay retained their Councils, but no Council was appointed for Bengal.

In 1853 the Charter of the Company was again renewed, and an important change in the Government was made. It had long been obvious that it was impossible for a single person to discharge the double duty of Governor-General of India and Governor of Bengal, and the administration of Bengal had notoriously become less efficient than that of any other province in India. The Governor-General was relieved from this charge, and a Lieutenant-Governor, without a Council, was appointed.

In 1857 came the mutiny of the Bengal Native army.
In the following year, by the “Act for the better

1 3 and 4 Will. IV. c. 85.

? 5 and 6 Will. IV. c. 52. 3 16 and 17 Vic. c. 95.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »