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in India and in England is a case in point. It was approved by a resolution passed rather unexpectedly through the House of Commons; and of course it was a central plank in the platform of the highly educated native reformers in the presidency towns of India. Yet, although something might be said for the demand, if it be treated as a question of abstract right apart from practical expediency, the project fell to pieces so completely under the dissection of the Indian governments, who showed clearly how it would operate and what would be its consequences, that our English Ministry, whose extreme liberalism is beyond suspicion, has lost no time, on reading the reports of their responsible advisers, in setting aside the resolution by a decisive negative. There was, indeed, no difficulty in demonstrating that the holding of examinations in India would attract an unmanageable inultitude of candidates, who might swamp in a few years the European element, replacing Englishımen by natives from those provinces and classes which, in the advantage of European education, have had the start of Upper India by one or two generations at least. It is manifest that superiority in this respect would hardly counterbalance other disqualifications for the control of the northern races. Nor would it have been altogether prudent or opportune to fill the higher ranks of the civil service with many Hindus and a few Mahomedans at a time when the relations between the two religious parties were so undeniably strained that a member of either faith would be inextricably hampered by the duty of interposing as an authoritative and unbiassed mediator in any open discussion between them. And, lastly, remember
, ing that the vast majority of Indians do sincerely desire the tranquillity of the country, the security of invested capital, and the maintenance of the existing relations between England and India, it must be admitted that these essential conditions of progress and prosperity can only be preserved upon a system by which an effective proportion of Englishmen in the higher ranks of the administration can be assured.
The question of relaxing the limitations which have hitherto been imposed upon the trial of criminal cases before a jury must be regarded from a similar point of view. The prime object of all legal procedure is the conviction of offenders and the prevention of crime; and among a people which is infinitely divided by castes and sects, among some of whom mutual animosity prevails, while others are under the bias
of ingrained prepossessions against the taking of life, whether of man or of animals-prepossessions which their neighbours may utterly reject and despise—and none are much accustomed to face responsibility or unpopularity by looking solely to the public interest in giving a verdict, among such a people the method of trial by jury comes as an exotic innovation, with little probability of success, except by gradual and discriminating introduction. Nevertheless the attempt which was lately made in Bengal to withdraw from juries certain classes of offences which had previously been within their cognisance was hardly judicious, and Lord Lansdowne's Government acted wisely in referring the whole question to a Commission, by whose report and the orders passed upon it all matters in difference appear to have been quietly adjusted.
It should be reckored to the credit of Lord Lansdowne that the most important measure of constitutional reform that has recently been enacted for India by the British Parliament was vigorously supported by his Government and passed during his viceroyalty, though it had previously been initiated by Lord Dufferin. The Indian Councils Act of 1892 gave a Legislative Council to the North-West Provinces; it increased the numbers of the members of all the councils, provided for the selection of non-official members on a representative principle, and materially enlarged the functions of these bodies. The privilege of recommending members for the Imperial Legislative Council has been bestowed on the four provincial legislatures, and upon academic, commercial, and municipal associations or corporations; and under the rules now issued a certain proportion of the members of the provincial councils will be proposed and nominated after the same manner. • There is no part of the scheme' (says Mr. Forrest) · for which Lord Lansdowne has greater personal • responsibility than that in which this principle is admitted ; and when we add that in the new councils the members have the right of financial discussion and of interpellation it will be allowed that they have acquired powers of a certain substantial value.
Nothing can be more interesting to the student of history and of the art of government than to watch the course and conduct of the great experiment in the slow devolution of political enfranchisement that the English have undertaken for India. The present time is in some respects favourable
. for the prevention of this difficult operation. Englishmen and Indians see much more of each other at home, and know each other much better than formerly; education is bringing
the upper classes nearer to a common level; while capital, commerce, and even literature are bringing about a stronger community of ideas and interests. There need be no surprise if native politicians, however able and well-intentioned, are usually found to be in their novitiate with regard to the complex problems raised by the application of political science to the government of dependencies ; but among their English colleagues and advocates one might have looked for the habit of reasoning from past observation and experience. Yet even in England there is a party that seems seriously to advocate schemes for marking off all British India into electoral districts with a low voting suffrage. There is in recent history but one prominent instance of the sudden introduction of popular representation into a country that had for centuries been governed autocratically through powerful officials, and that instance is afforded by the assemblage of the States-General of France in 1789, when the ignorance of the people, the utter inexperience of the deputies, and the total absence among the ministers of any practice or precedents in the management of representative institutions produced speedy confusion and irremediable disorder. If rash and revolutionary changes could bring such rapid political ruin upon a compact and highly civilised nationality, what other results might be expected in the midst of the vast incoherent miscellany of tribes and castes that compose the population of India ?
In order that constitutional reforms may be successful they must follow some intelligent order, and must not begin at the wrong end. Let us look for an illustration in the history of a country where England undoubtedly possessed for some time the ascendency, though some may think that at the present moment the tables have been turned. How did we set about enlarging the civil rights of the Irish Catholics? We began by conferring upon a people, the mass of whom were extremely ignorant and easily misled, the privilege of voting for members of Parliament ; but it was not until after a long interval of discontent and disaffection that the voters were allowed to elect representatives of their own faith, who were in fact their natural leaders; and when that had been done there was more delay before the question of general education in Ireland was seriously taken up. It must be clear to those who look back upon the results of this policy that much confusion would have been avoided if the order of these reforms had been reversed. In Ireland this may or may not have been possible; in India, at any rate,
it is practicable to adjourn radical changes of the governing constitution until public instruction, which is slowly permeating all ranks of the population, shall have raised the general level of intelligence, and to defer placing the mechanism of representative government in the hands of a masterless multitude until there is a fair certitude that they will not be utterly bewildered and misdirected in endeavouring to use it.
* All political rules are dependent on the special circumstances, conditions, and character of the people for whom ' they are intended. The political art is essentially an
art of adaptation; it admits of very few general terms, and the course which is suited for one stage of society is wholly unsuited for another.' Although in the page from which this passage is extracted Mr. Lecky was discussing the problem of the legitimate sphere of government action, his remark applies as well to the suitability of political form's. We believe that among the intelligent classes of the Indian people, with the possible exception of those who are not unnaturally eager for place and power, the enlargement of the legislative councils and the method of nominating upon responsible recommendation are accepted as suitable and sufficient. The next step should be to establish a local council in all the great provinces of the Indian empire, and to aim at gradually entrusting these bodies with complete jurisdiction over provincial concerns, so that the vital principle of decentralising an administration that has a constant tendency to congestion at the head may be consistently observed. If it be true, as we believe, that Occidental civiJisation acts upon Indian society as a powerful solvent, loosening its antigue bonds and breaking down its subdivisions, there is at least some political advantage in assisting the people to arrange themselves in fresh compartments, to collect round local centres, and to preserve the distinctions that have grown up naturally in a country which exhibits manifest diversities of climate, race, and history.
But in order that this programme for the development and distribution of powers shall be successfully carried out the English nation must deal logically and consistently with India. Institutions that have been strengthened acquire additional titles to be respected; and legislative councils which have been invested with the rights of interpellation and of examining financial statements will soon find a way of making themselves heard. The statutory relations between the Indian Legislature and the English Executive
Government which controls it, are so constitutionally delicate that they should not be subjected to any avoidable strain, and it is particularly advisable to avoid even the appearance of depreciating the legitimate authority or dignity either of the Councils or of the Government in India. For the legislative and executive bodies within that country are the two grand agencies by whose influence and reputation the business of a distant empire is peaceably transacted by the energy and ability of a few able men set over many millions. Such considerations as these should induce the English Parliament, to which, of course, the English Ministry is entirely responsible, to hesitate before it prefers, in such a question as the laying of import duties on cotton, the immediate interest of its constituencies to the wishes, and indeed the needs, of India, by negativing beforehand measures which it is manifest that the Indian Legislature, if left to choose its own ways and means, would undoubtedly have adopted.
Among the better-informed and moderate leaders of native opinion the financial dependence of India upon England is already becoming a matter of remark and dissatisfaction, while our military expenditure is a salient point for their criticism. And it is observed, not without reason, that in these respects India is by no means on a footing with the self-governing colonies. That the ultimate and unimpeachable decision upon all Indian questions shall rest with the Imperial Parliament, is so far from being contested in India that in all quarrels or grievances against officials the native reformer invariably cries out upon the House of Commons for succour. It would be deplorable if in the course of his political education he should imbibe a loss of confidence in this supreme guardian of his liberties, if his latest apotheosis should prove something much less than divine, and if the truth of the warning which has been more than once hinted to him should at last dawn upon his understanding, that it is possible for the Parliament to interfere too much.
It may not be irrelevant, in connexion with this subject, to refer to a remarkable speech delivered more than twenty years ago by Mr. Gladstone, in reply to a complaint by à member of the House of Commons that the will of the English people and the control of their representatives in l'arliament were disregarded by those who had the management of foreign politics and of dependencies. After showing by a string of examples that in regard to wars, annexations, and high-banded proceedings generally, by governors or chief officers in India and elsewhere, the