The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83
England and India
England and India.
A Writer in the Journal des Debats, Paris, furnishes cool statistics to prove that the loss of India, "The Peacock's Tail," would be no real damage to England. India only transacts with Great Britain an eighth part of the whole British import and page 50 export trade. If India was independent, or belonged to a Foreign Power, nobody supposes that this trade would be extinguished. Would it be materially affected, even this eighth?
Then, again, the import trade, to India from Great Britain, has increased 26 per cent. in the last five years. But the same trade, from France to ludia, has increased 50 per cent., and from Germany to India 80 per cent. Yet more striking are similar comparisons with reference to the export trade, from India to England, and other nations. While that to England has only advanced with a mild percentage, corresponding to the imports, the export trade from India to Russia has increased 1800 per cent. in five years! Ever since the abolition of the East India Company, the Government of India has been carried on without profit to the British Nation—that is to say, State Exchequer. What, then, is this magnificent prize upon which bankrupt Russia is swooping?
But, say the Russophobists, Russia would manage in a very different style, and wring riches out of this region—it would make India perspire clots of coin, gold mohurs and silver rupees by the million, to be transmuted into roubles. Stay. Germany would have a voice as well as England. There is chronic enmity between the Russian and German people, and none between the Russian and English people. You remember that flaming speech by Scobeleff, in Paris, declaring that war must come between the Slav and the Teuton. To be sure, he said that the war between England and Russia, over India, was inevitable too, but that he declared to be only a matter of policy, not sentiment.
If the key of India be in London, there is a minor key in Berlin. If India would be worth anything to Russia, Germany knows it. Suppose that Komaroff defeated Roberts before Herat, grasped the fortress, and swarmed his army down upon India. Would there be no German army on the western frontier of Russia?
The balance of power was never more nice and exact than at present. But Russia has no idea of a conquest of India, under the existing condition of the world at large. We mean that Russians of the calibre of de Giers, Ignatieff, Schouvaloff, Lessar, Gourko, and Komaroff, have no such an idea. They mean, however, to distend the balloon of their power to its utmost capacity. They will infringe, as far as possible, on Afghanistan. The result of war between England and Russia would probably be the obliteration of Afghanistan, and the establishment of a coterminous Anglo-Russian frontier.
Russia would like to drive England to seize Herat. By so doing we would make Afghanistan hostile, and have to conquer it like the Punjaub. Imagine the expenditure, and the forces required. India is under tutelage by England, with a view to its National page 51 Independence. This must be the distant outcome. Lord Ripon was commissioned to take the tentative steps in planting Local Government, and the Ilbert Bill was an attempt to remove legal distinctions between conquerors and conquered. The Russian thundercloud will lead Lord Dufferin to some concessions.
Komaroff's attack on the Afghans was a politic stroke, to neutralise the effect of the Durban at Rawul Pindee, the interview between the Ameer and the Viceroy. Thus the Elephant flouted the Whale.