Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83

Ripon and Dufferin

Ripon and Dufferin.

In our article on ""Viceroy Ripon," we expressed fervid admiration of the spirit in which he had governed India, and, although he is now under an official cloud, we retract nothing. It must be remembered that Mr. Gladstone dictated the policy. Nowadays, the Liberals and Conservatives of India are in telegraphic communication with London, and every ripple of feeling finds its way there at once. "The key of India is not Afghanistan but London," to adopt Lord Beaconsfield's expression.

The Calcutta Exhibition did a great deal to strengthen the bonds of union between India and Australia. Messrs. Bent, Bosisto, and Woods, Victorian members of Parliament, went there, and have since become the mouthpieces of Australian views on that magnificent and inexhaustible country. Mr. Bosisto's lecture page 45 on Australia, to the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, excited considerable interest. At this end he has been equally effective in dealing with India.

The long list of able Governors-General furnished to India is the strongest indication of the calibre of the peerage. The names of Cornwallis, Bentinck, Dalhousie, Canning, Lawrence, Mayo, Northbrook, Lytton, Ripon, and Dufferin, among those who have handled the sceptre of Hastings, suggest various policies, and high tide marks of ability. Lord Dalhousie initiated the great railway works, and it has occurred to us that Lord Ripon has launched an analogous undertaking in regard to the mind of India and its government.

Our last article was apropos of Lord Lytton's attack, in the House of Lords, upon Lord Ripon. Indeed, their policies were in the most violent and glaring contrast. Lord Lytton painted the disorder implanted in India with all the skill of a literary artist, combined with the virus of an ex-Governor-General, whose policy had been overturned. Lords Selborne, Northbrook, and other Liberals, defended Lord Ripon, with arguments which appeared to us to be common sense as against special pleading.

For many years Lord Ripon's name was mainly associated with Freemasonry, as Grand Master of the Order in England. His successor was the Prince of Wales. Lord Ripon resigned through religious convictions, which led to his joining the Roman Catholic church. On this account Mr. Gladstone's selection of him as Viceroy of India was much canvassed. We opine that the conversion of Lord Ripon had something to do with the course he took in India. It certainly influenced Mr. Gladstone, to some extent, in choosing him, in order to conciliate the Catholic party, which virulently opposed Gladstone in politics, through his attacks on the Vatican, and the general tenor of his political life in that regard.

Lord Ripon, we say, went to India to carry out a policy which would be the antipodes of Lord Lytton's. The pendulum had swung right round with Beaconsfield's overthrow. One could not imagine a Lytton carrying out the orders of a Gladstone. Even such men as Hartington or Northbrook, from the Liberal side, would never have plunged in with the daring of Ripon. So that much lies with the instrument. Lord Ripon's adhesion to the Catholic Church was a step not prompted, as might have been supposed, by his terror at the advance of the Proletariat, but by his growing sympathy with the working classes. This is abundantly manifested by the noble, generous, and self-denying spirit in which he proceeded to make himself an object of obloquy to the upper classes by his course in India.

In the first place, he took off the gag which Lord Lytton had imposed on the native Press. Puck, the New York Punch, lately page 46 had an engraving of Uncle Sam showing Bismarck how to deal with Socialism, by giving it free speech. But then the object of a tyrant is always to maintain a dynasty, not to make a people happy. Lytton brought Russia into India in one way, by his surveillance of the native Press. To be sure there are some Sepoy Fenian rags; but the real healthy and most intelligent part of the native Press may be trusted to stifle their influence. Lord Lytton, however, wanted to crunch liberty as well as licence. We are convinced that his coercive and costive policy would have led to a frightful explosion, and that judicious liberalising is the means to avert anything of the kind.

Lord Ripon introduced the beginnings of Local Government. The Nabobs may rage as they like, but this must come. The question has been set simmering. Lord Dufferin will not return to the Lytton system. His instructions are to adopt a middle course. Irritation has to be calmed for the moment. The march of Reform will not be stopped. Both parties watch Lord Dufferin jealously. We notice the unusual manner in which Lord Ripon has welcomed Lord Dufferin in Calcutta, quite effusively, indeed. They performed over again the scene of Richard II. and Boling-broke entering into London. Ripon was Richard, and Dufferin Bolingbroke. The suffrages of the cultured English were lavished on Dufferin, but Ripon had the homage of the poor millions, represented there by the sympathetic dusky thousands.

Lord Dufferin's appointment has met with the approval of everybody. He will play his role well. Probably it will be a peaceful term of office, but the gunpowder has been laid. Our Indian railways, bridges, and canals are not intended merely to keep the people in subjugation. No, they are measures of education. Their corollary must come in freedom.

The measures of Local Government were the most vitally important proposed by Lord Ripon, that is to say, by Mr. Gladstone, but the most disturbance has been caused by the proposed legal reforms, to place Englishmen in India on an equality with natives. It must be remembered that the privileges possessed by Englishmen there do not extend to other Europeans or Americans.

Lord Mayo may have been the beau ideal of an able Viceroy, but those bracketted in our affections are Canning and Ripon. We know Ghollah and Chunder in Melbourne. They have warm friends here, as they have in England. And this reminds us of the loss of the masterly and chivalrous Henry Fawcett. Never again will that sonorous voice be listened to, as it enchained the House of Commons with the whilom forbidding subject of Indian finance, in the same manner as Gladstone's budgets had given taxation quite a poetic aspect. Gladstone, Fawcett, and Ripon—true friends of India! We are right glad of the visit of Lord page 47 Randolph Churchill. It will do "Randy" a power of good, and India, too.

India is no longer dark. We cordially thank our friend, Dr. W. W. Hunter, the Hayter of India, as Government Statistician, for his admirable "Gazetteer." His labours have been prodigious in formulating and tabulating the anatomy of mighty Hindostan.

The unimpeachable power evinced by Lord Dufferin in the different atmospheres of Canada, St. Petersburg, Constantinople, and Cairo, is a guarantee for the skill with which he will guide the helm in Calcutta.