Puslapio vaizdai

wounds. Its importance lies not in the nature of the terms offered to Germany, severe as they are. It recognises and makes provision for the effective application of the international conscience. It does not abolish war but it makes war not only unnecessary but unprofitable, by providing an agency for the peaceable settlement of international differences, an agency that has behind not only the moral but physical sanction of the collective nations. For the first time in history we envisage a world free from the burden of armaments, from the nightmare of hideous warfare. Where so much has been accomplished public opinion may surely forgive any little departures from the course dictated by pure equity. If the Treaty is humiliating to Germany it is so not, out of a desire to humiliate Germany but because the disarmament of Germany is the first step to the disarnament of the world.

The League of Nations forms therefore the corner stone of the whole edifice and so long as it stands solid and four square minor defects are unimportant. But a League of Nations in itself

without the conscience of humanity keenly watchful behind it and animating it would be worse than useless. There have been such Leagues in history before. These have generally degenerated into associations of spoilers because the original higher conscience was allowed to be stifled by the individual greed and rapacity of the nations. If a similar spirit prevails in the present case the. Peace Treaty would be the greatest disaster to the world's future. It eliminates Germany but without an effective League of Nations it would merely mean a repetition of the old game with new pawns. Let us make this point quite clear, for the acid test of the Treaty is not the position it assigns to Germany, not the way in which it divides the spoils, but in the League of Nations. The establishment of a collective conscience is a vital condition of the new settlement for no single nation can point to a career unblemished by departures from strict rectitude. As a just settlement the Treaty will stand or fall by the fate of the League of Nations.

Queen Victoria: The Centenary of Her Birth


HEN the great British Queen passed away in the year 1901 all classes in India felt they were losing a friend, one who had never ceased to take a personal interest in all the varied experiences this country was called to pass through in her long reign. No one could doubt the real sympathy of Queen Victoria for the welfare of the people of this country, for in all her actions there was clearly evidenced a deep personal anxiety for the steady and happy progress of India's millions. The celebrations in connection with the centenary of her birth, May 24th give us an opportunity of recalling some of the main features of her reign, especially in her relations with India and the Empire, It is not always

easy to understand her actions, especially in her earlier days, but her long successful reign which witnessed so many striking advances in every branch of national and domestic life, is a sufficient evidence of the high place she held in the hearts of her people. She had a strong sense of duty and dignity, and she was ever ready to sacrifice her personal wishes to what she believed was her duty as a Sovereign. She had strong monarchial views and dynastic sympathies, and was altogether lacking in democratic principles, believing firmly in the due subordination of classes. In the early days of her reign these qualities were not a serious drawback, for democratic principles made the greatest advances at a later date. Yet she suc

ceeded in the later period, when times had considerably changed, in retaining the good will of the people, and of working in hearty co-operation with the Ministers appointed by the people.

She was fortunate in the men who stood by her in her early days of inexperience. Not only was she guided wisely by her Ministers, but in King Leopold of Belgium she had a faithful councellor, as also in Baron Stockmar, who though German, appears to have discharged his duties in a highly efficient manner. There was great dissatisfaction in the minds of the British public because of the belief that German forces were being brought to bear too much on the Queen, and doubtless there was some ground for their anxiety. But strong though her sympathies might be, there is no evidence to prove that she ever allowed anything but the welfare of her subjects to govern her activities. The British people were always suspicious of the German influence, and her influence in the direction of support to Germany was counteracted by the general feeling throughout the country. These fears were strengthened when they were informed that the Queen intended to marry her cousin Albert, the son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, and it must be admitted that the English people were not much in favour with the proposal. But when they saw their Queen enjoying a life of real domestic happiness, and learned to know more of the personal character of her husband, they did not neglect to show their pleasure at the union.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

her influence was, of course, only indirect, as India was then governed by the East India Company. But her close relations date from the great Proclamation issued in her name in 1858. We have the records of her letters at this period to her Prime Minister, instructing him of the nature of the message she wished the people of India to receive from her in those critical days, when feeling on both sides ran high. Every Indian is acquainted with the substance of that famous Proclamation, and it is openly quoted as the Great Magna of Indian liberty. It is a statement of the Queen's personal interest in the welfare of the Indian people, and the expression of her determination that her people in India shall be governed with a tender and scrupulous regard for the rights, dignities, usages, and well being of each and all. For many minds and classes the Proclamation acted a powerful charm. "To all who had a grievance or a grudge against the Company, to all who feared for their religion, their property or their lives, to all who had just been tasting the bitter fruits of anarchy and violence, it seemed like a happy waking out of a bad dream, a quiet sunrise after a night of storm and great peril. . . . Loyal princes no longer feared that their prescriptive rights would be taken from them, while everywhere in the country and town, men of culture, and social weight hailed the new edict as a timely message of peace and goodwill to all classes of the people." From that time to the day of her death her interest in the welfare of her Indian subjects was unabated. She rejoiced when it was possible for her sons to make visits to India, and there is no doubt these visits strengthened the loyalty of the people to the British throne. When the Duke of Edinburgh came in 1869 bearing messages of motherly love from the Sovereign, the people looked upon the event as "the seal of peace after the great struggle which placed India under

the Crown, an Act of Oblivion for the painful

left behind"

memories which that struggle The visit of the Prince of Wales in 1875-76 called forth a burst of passionate loyalty to the great Queen, and for the first time the great feudatories felt they were no longer passive units in an irrisistible organisation of political skill and military force, but living members of an Empire under a living head.

The great Durbar held when the Queen took the new title of Empress of India, or Kaiser-iHind, was another landmark in the relations of the Queen with India. The new title was welcomed throughout India by the people as well as by the chiefs; its proclamation was received with every possible demonstration of loyalty. Throughout the whole country gifts of food and clothing were made to the poor. Letters from public bodies and private individuals written in divers languages, poured in upon the Government. One chief wrote,

This is the third time that India is going to be ruled by an Empress. The first was the widow of the Hindu King Agniborna; the second was the Rizia Begum, the daughter of the Muhammadan Emperor Altamsh; the third is Queen Victoria, the English Sovereign. But something greater has been achieved. Such a powerful Sovereign of so vast a territory never ruled India. This proclamation may therefore be superior to all its kind.

Others were written in flowery and picturesque language but all had for their burden their great affection for the English Queen. One writer says that

"there can be no doubt of the fact, now universally acknowledged in India, that the proclamation of the paramount superiority of the British Crown was an act of political wisdom and foresight which has not only strengthened the British position throughout the vast territories of India proper but has had no small effect beyond the frontier of the Indian Empire.

Though the political situation has greatly changed during the past few years, the respect for the Queen's memory has not diminished, nor has the strength of the Indian's loyalty to the Crown. All classes have learned to look upon the Queen as the very embodiment of those qualities which are associated with the "Mother." Never was she remiss in her thought of India in the

times of her joys as well as her sorrows, while the people responded quickly when she was called on to bear heavy domestic burdens. There were dark days, when the prospects of India were full of gloom; then the Queen sent messages of sympathy and good will. There were days when the country was called upon to bear devastating evils, pestilence, plague, and famine; messages of hope and promises of help were flashed from the Royal Palace across the seas. There were occasions when her brave Indian soldiers fought by the side of her own, and suffered hardship and death; they called forth from her Majesty messages of gratitude and consolation. Movements were set on foot throughout the country for the amelioration of the awful conditions then only too prevalent, and the Queen's message of encouragement was never lacking. We cannot wonder that her Indian subjects revere her memory, and love to show her honour.

Little has been said of that wider work of the Queen in connection with the extension and consolidation of the British Empire of which India forms a part, a part becoming increasingly important. Never has the world seen such a development as the British Empire, and the recent wonderful manifestation of Imperial Unity has surprised the members of the Empire almost as much as it has astounded the enemy countries. Before Victoria showed her interest in her overseas subjects, very little was done to strengthen the natural bonds of affection, but her activities, especially on the occasion of her Jubilee in 1887, when she invited representatives from the Colonies to meet her Ministers in London to discuss affairs of common interest, have done much to make possible the present unity. There has been progress on every hand, and the Queen's part in the consolidation of the Empire must ever stand as one of her greatest contributions to the British nation.



HE news that the Union Assembly has appointed a Select Committee to investigate the grievances of the Indian population naturally focuses attention once more upon a problem that has become more and more disquieting during the last two years, until it has become once again acute. It is, therefore, necessary to take a bird's-eye view of the situation in order to realise exactly what has been happening in South Africa since the settlement of 1914 And first of all, let us remind ourselves exactly of what that settlement achieved and what it did not achieve.

The settlement was arrived at between Mr. Gandhi, representing the Indian community, and General Smuts, representing the Union Government, and it was designed to bring to an end the Passive Resistance Struggle based upon Indian 1 hostility to certain specific measures. It consists of two parts, first, the Indians Relief Act of 1914, amending the Immigration and other laws specially affecting Indians, and secondly, administrative relief in regard to the application of other measures, and contained in the correspondence that passed between Mr. Gandhi and General Smuts, dated June 30, 1914, and published at the time. It is necessary at this stage to remember that, whilst the 1914 settlement was indissolubly linked up with the provisional settlements of 1908 and 1911, there is nothing in the nature of 66 А secret treaty," as is now sometimes hinted at. And it must also be understood that the settlement covered only the points upon which Passive Resistance .had arisen, and which are quite clear from the Report of the Indian Grievances Commission of 1914, the provisions of the Indians Relief Act of that year, and the above mentioned correspondence. It did not purport to deal with matters of grievance outside the scope of the Passive Resistance Struggle,


save in a very general and indirect way. For evidence of this one need only refer to Mr. Gandhi's own public letter to General Smuts dated June 30, 1914, in which he specifically calls attention to certain salient matters affecting the welfare of the Resident Indian Community. It is thus clear that other grievances of longstanding, and fully recognised by the late Mr. Gokhale, during his visit to South Africa, awaited solution at a favourable opportunity. Had the war not ensued almost immediately, there is no doubt that some, at least, of them would have been speedily pressed upon the attention of the Government.

The War, however, supervened, and, in common with all other loyal British subjects, the Indian community refrained from agitation for the assertion of its claims to consideration, but, on the contrary, adopted a policy of the closest possible co-operation with the Government, to whom it offered its resources, which, to some extent and in a niggardly way, were utilised, and of self-denial in the political field, save in so far as measures of self-defence were necessitated either by the zulum of indiscreet officials or by the breach of the tacit truce by sections of the white population, to whom the War and the spectacle of Indian sacrifice appeared to have taught nothing save to attempt to take advantage of the pre-occupations of the Government, the general public, and the Indian community, to undermine and render still more insecure the Indian position in the country. On the whole, the Government observed the spirit and letter of the 1914 settlement, though now and again it was tempted to sin, and was saved only by the strongly-expressed intention of the community to resume Passive Resistance if such a flagrant breach of a solemn covenant were resorted to by it. Up to the time that I left South Africa, in

[ocr errors]

October 1914, the Indian position had been maintained intact and in some respects even improved; though even then, as events have shown, there were evidences of instability, partly due to the weakness of Government, and partly to the inveterate hostility of the white traders throughout South Africa.

In three respects, at least, I found it necessary, when I was on the point of leaving South Africa, to submit memoranda to the minister of the interior, Sir Thomas Watt. The first was in reference to a preliminary attempt to enforce discriminating Railway Regulations against Indians in the Cape Province, based upon the Transvaal model adopted in 1910, which they had never previously been subjected to. I had just returned from a farewell tour in that Province, which I had visited in order to familiarise myself with the latest details of the local situation, and I found it necessary to warn the Government that Cape Indians would not for a moment tolerate the infringement of their rights in the manner suggested. Fortunately, the Regulations were tested in a court of law and found to be inapplicable, and there, I hoped, the matter ended. But new and much more drastic regulations were subsequently framed and published, with the result that a great agitation throughout the Union was organised by the Indian community, who pointed out that regulations adopted to meet an emergency in the Transvaal, at a time when the energies of the Indian community were fully engaged in the Passive Resistance Struggle, might certainly not be extended to other Provinces where quite different traditions and conditions had always prevailed, and that, on the contrary, the Transvaal Regulations themselves were unsuited to the new times and the new ideals with which, as a result of the War, the whole world was facing the future. As a result of the agitation, the offending Regulations were modified in several important respects, but

they still did not fully satisfy the Indian requirement, and, at the last session of the Imperial War Conference, they were specifically alluded to by Lord Sinha in the remarkable memorandum presented by him to the Conference. It is believed that his influence has resulted in the adoption of measures calculated to allay Indian fears in this respect, though full details are not yet known.

But a far more serious grievance has always been that of Indian trading rights. For these are the life-blood of a community that so largely subsists upon trade. It is only in Natal that the majority of Indians are otherwise occupied, and the non-trading section of the Indian population is not nearly so well-to-do or well organised as the traders. If, therefore, the latter are SO crippled as to be compelled to leave the country, as is the openly avowed desire of their European trade competitors, the lot of the Indian population can then well be imagined. In the Cape and Natal, the control of trading licenses has for many years been in the hands of municipalities and licensing boards, composed largely of the Indians' trade rivals. It is no news, therefore, that every possible effort has been made to limit Indian trading, enterprise in these Provinces by an unfair use of the machinery created by the Legislature. In the Transvaal, however, the situation, up to 1908, was not so bad. Indians upon tendering the license fee and producing a certificate of registration, showing that they were lawful residents, could obtain a license to trade anywhere in the Province. In that year, however, the Precious and Base Metals Act, and in 1909, the Township's Act, were passed, the object being to put an embargo upon Indian trade in mining areas, in which reside the majority of Indians in the Transvaal. A series of legal decisions, however, had appeared to limit, if not to remove, the danger of utter ruin to the Indian community. But in 1912, when

[ocr errors]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »