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of Europe. Englishmen have often similar impressions in visiting India ; they cannot see the great diversities that exist. As to persons who know nothing of geology or botany or agriculture, rocks and trees and crops present comparatively few distinctive features, so it is with those who look with uninformed minds on conditions of life and society to which they have not been accustomed.
The differences between the countries of Europe are undoubtedly smaller than those between the countries of India. Scotland is more like Spain than Bengal is like the Punjab. European civilisation has grown up under conditions which have produced a larger measure of uniformity than has been reached in the countries of the Indian continent, often separated from each other by greater distances, by greater obstacles to communication, and by greater differences of climate. The diversities of language, religion, and race are as wide in India as in Europe, and political catastrophes have been as frequent and as violent. There are no countries in civilised Europe in which the people differ so much as the Bengáli differs from the Sikh, and the language of Bengal is as unintelligible in Lahore as it would be in London. An educated Mohammedan gentleman of Northern India has more in common with Englishmen than with the Bengáli graduates of the University of Calcutta. Such facts often explain much that is unintelligible to Englishmen.
Again, people complain that Indian authorities differ so greatly among themselves that you can never be sure that
have learned the truth. These apparent contradictions have frequently no real existence, but arise from false generalisations.
To one, for instance, who has gained his knowledge
of India in Lower Bengal, India is a country of almost constant heat and damp, luxuriant vegetation, rivers, tanks, rice-fields and cocoanuts, with few cities and no monuments of art, densely inhabited by a mild and timid population. To such an India as this, a vivid imagination could hardly conceive a completer contrast than the India of Agra or Lahore. Instead of one of the dampest and greenest countries of the earth, you find in the early summer one of the brownest and most arid, a country scorched with winds like the blast of a furnace, but in the winter it has the climate of an Italian spring, cold, frosty, and invigorating. In the latter season, instead of the tropical vegetation of Bengal, you find thousands of square miles covered with wheat and barley and the products of the temperate zone.
It is a country with famous cities and splendid monuments, and its population is not inferior to that of many parts of Europe in manliness and vigour.
I have spoken of the different countries of India, but they are not countries in the ordinary European sense. A European country is usually a separate entity, occupied by a nation more or less socially and politically distinct. But in India, as Sir Alfred Lyall has explained in his “ Asiatic Studies,' a work that is a mine of knowledge and wisdom on Indian matters, there are no nations of the modern European type. The same fact has been clearly brought out by Professor Seeley in his admirable lectures on the ` Expansion of England.'
"Geographical boundaries,' says Sir Alfred Lyall, have no correspondence at all with distinctive institutions or groupings of the people, and have comparatively little political significance. Little is gained toward knowing who and what a man is by uscertaining the State he obeys, or the territory he dwells in; these being things which of themselves denote no difference of
race, institutions, or manners. Even from the point of political allegiance, the Government under which a man may be living is an accidental arrangement, which the British Viceroy or some other inevitable power decided upon yesterday and may alter tomorrow. Nor would such a change be grievous unless it divorced from him a ruler of his own tribe or his own faith. .. The European observer-accustomed to the massing of people in great territorial groups, and to the ideas (now immemorial in the West) contained in such expressions as fatherland, mothercountry, patriotism, domicile, and the like-has here to realise the novelty of finding himself in a strange part of the world, where political citizenship is as yet quite unknown, and territorial sovereignty or even feudalism only just appearing. For a parallel in the history of Western Europe we must go back as far as the Merovingian period, when chiefs of barbaric tribes or bands were converting themselves into kings or counts; or, perhaps, he should carry his retrospect much further, and conceive himself to be looking at some country of Asia Minor lying within the influence of Rome at its zenith, but just outside its jurisdiction. He gradually discovers the population of Central India to be distributed, not into great governments, or nationalities, or religious denominations, not even into widespread races, such as those which are still contending for political supremacy in Eastern Europe, but into various and manifold denominations of tribes, clans, septs, castes, and sub-castes, religious orders, and devotional brotherhoods.' !
I must not continue my quotation, but I invite those who wish to understand what India really is, to study Sir Alfred Lyall's most interesting book.
This is the first and most essential thing to learn about India—that there is not, and never was an India, or even any country of India, possessing, according to European ideas, any sort of unity, physical, political, social, or religious ; no Indian nation, no people of India,' of which we hear so much.
| Asiatic Studies, p. 152. Sir Alfred Lyall was specially referring to Central India in this passage, but it is equally true of India generally.
Until we rightly appreciate the significance of such facts we shall, among other things, never understand how our Indian Empire has come into existence, and how this vast dominion is maintained by a handful of Englishmen. There was never, as Professor Seeley has shown, any conquest of India by the English, according to the ordinary sense of the word 'conquest.' The conquest was rather, to borrow his expression, “in the nature of an internal revolution,' directed by Englishmen but carried out for the most part through the Natives of India themselves. No superiority of the Englishman would have enabled England to conquer by her own military power the continent of India, with its 250 millions of people, nor could she hold it in subjection, if it had been occupied by distinct nations. In the words of Professor Seeley, the fundamental fact is that India had no jealousy of the foreigner, because there was no India, and therefore, properly speaking, no foreigner. 1
It is a consequence of all this, that in every great Indian province the political sympathies of large sections of the population towards men who, geographically speaking, are their own countrymen, are often as imperfect as they are towards their English masters. We have never destroyed in India a national government, no national sentiment has been wounded, no national pride has been humiliated ; and this not through any design or merit of our own, but because no Indian nationalities have existed. They no more exist in the so-called Native States than in our own territories, and the most important of those States are ruled by princes who are almost as much foreigners to their subjects as we are ourselves.
· The E.rpansion of England, p. 206.
The diversities between the countries of India and the people inhabiting them extend, more or less, to their administration by the British Government. The ordinary English notion is that the Secretary of State for India and the Viceroy and his Council carry on, somehow or other, the government of India. Few Englishmen understand how comparatively little these high authorities have to do with the actual administration, or appreciate the fact that the seven or eight chief provinces of British India, which may be compared, in area and population, to the chief countries of Europe, have all their separate and, in a great measure, their independent governments.
Under circumstances of such extreme diversity as those which exist in India, no single system of administration could be appropriate. Instead of introducing unsuitable novelties from other countries, Indian or European, we have taken, in each province, with some unfortunate exceptions, the old local institutions as the basis of our own arrangements. Good or bad administration in India depends to a far greater extent on the Government of the province than on the distant authorities in Calcutta or London. The vast majority of the population is hardly conscious of the existence of the Viceroy and his Government. From time to time a glimpse is caught of the great Lord Sáhib. He passes perhaps along the streets of some famous city with a train of elephants recalling the traditions of Aurangzeb, or at some immense gathering, more picturesque and magnificent than any of the ceremonial shows of Europe, he receives in Darbár the homage of princes and chiefs. From the splendour of his surroundings people derive some vague notions of an authority above the powers by which they know that they are governed.