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ART. 1.-1. The Administration of the Marquis of Lansdowne as Viceroy and Governor-General of India, 1888-94. By GEORGE W. FORREST, M.A. Calcutta: 1894.
2. Statement exhibiting the Moral and Material Progress and Condition of India during the Year 1891-92 and the Nine Preceding Years.
3. Statement exhibiting the Moral and Material Progress and Condition of India during the Year 1892-93.
4. Correspondence respecting the Affairs of Siam. No. 1. August 1894.
FFICIAL statements purporting to exhibit the moral and material progress of a great country during a term of years are never likely to attract the general reader. For to him the Blue Book is deterrent, because its colour and usual contents belong to a kind of literature that either makes no attempt to deserve popularity, preferring dulness to incaution or inaccuracy, or else incurs legitimate suspicion if it attempts any deviation from the hard dry road of facts, figures, and strict induction of practical conclusions. Nor are retrospective surveys of administrative periods likely to find much favour even with the politician, who lives almost entirely in the present, and finds ample occupation in the incessant discussion over contemporary affairs which is provided for him by journalism and the unceasing flood of orations within and without Parliament.
Nevertheless the two publications that stand first in the list at the head of this article appear to us to merit some general attention. In his succinct history of Lord Lansdowne's administration of India from 1888 to 1894 Mr. Forrest has described, well and impartially, the work of a
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Viceroy who unquestionably exercised great personal influence upon the course of government during those five years, and whose activity, firmness of purpose, and generosity of character are universally acknowledged even by those who do not regard some aspects of his foreign policy with unqualified approval. The Statement of the Moral and Material Progress of India between 1882 and 1892' is not a mere record of events and transactions within that decade; it is prefaced by a brief and useful summary of antecedent history, leading up to the point at which the special narrative begins. We are thus presented with a complete review of foreign politics, of our relations with the internal native States, of the formation of the chief British provinces, of the administrative machinery, and of the constitution of the Indian Empire as it has been gradually built up by parliamentary statutes, by public ordinances, and by the operation of the Indian legislature. In like manner the sections dealing with municipalities, local government, the military and marine forces, and public instruction take up their story from the beginning, while under all other important departments of public business the area traversed by this report is sufficiently large to afford a comprehensive view of the subject.
We find no fault with these publications for being tinged with the natural colour of healthy optimism. It is not the business of official or semi-official writers to touch otherwise than very lightly indeed upon the defects or drawbacks which are inseparable from every system of government, or to lay stress upon the underlying difficulties that necessarily adhere to such a grand and unprecedented experiment in the art of managing alien dependencies as that upon which we are engaged in India. In this, as in every other record of accomplished facts, the work of criticising results may safely be left to volunteers, whose zeal and acuteness in discovering the weak parts of the official case may usually be relied upon. For ourselves, while it is the main purpose of this article to survey rapidly, and from an independent standpoint, the immense field that is covered by these two able and ample dissertations, we shall not be extreme in marking what is done amiss, but neither shall we abstain from drawing attention to problems of delicacy or complexity, or to any noteworthy tendencies or symptoms, that the publicist or the political biographer may have fairly thought himself entitled to overlook.
To begin with the foreign affairs of India: In the political
terminology of Europe the word 'protectorate' has risen to remarkable prominence during recent years, denoting a species of relations that, although they have existed from time immemorial between strong and weak States, had not previously been quite so openly affirmed or formally defined as at present. Every leading European Power now lays claim to certain spheres of influence, over which it may or may not assert a distinct suzerainty, but within which no interference by rival Powers is allowed. The subordinate rulerships may either be enclosed within the superior dominion, or may lie outside as breakwaters against foreign impact or invasion; and it follows, as a necessary consequence of such a position, that the protecting Power finds itself in charge of a double line of frontiers-the interior line circumscribing its actual jurisdiction, and the exterior border including those spheres which it is pledged to defend. Nowhere is this peculiar formation better distinguished than in India; nowhere can its growth and characteristics, or the responsibilities which it entails on the sovereign Power, be more instructively examined.
It may be useful to extract from the Blue Book a passage that sketches briefly the geographical features of the Indian borderlands.
'The continental frontier of India presents a great and most interesting variety of political and ethnic elements. On the west, in the direction of Persia, are the pastoral freebooters of the Biluchistan plains, succeeded by the warlike and predatory highlanders of the strip of mountainous country known as Yaghistan, or the Independent tract that remains unground between the upper millstone of fitful aggression from Affghanistan and the nether, in the shape of the uncompromising peace and order enforced by the British in the Indus valley. Next comes the mountain barrier of the Himalaya, the greater part of which is under the comparatively strong administration of chiefs of Indian descent; but towards the east these give place to hill and forest tribes of Mongoloidic origin, which spread southwards, forming a fringe all along the frontier of Assam and Burmah, where they meet their kinsmen under the sovereignty of China and Siam.'
In the foregoing citation the frontier which is delineated is that which surrounds the Indian continent, within which lie most of the older native principalities, surrounded and isolated by the British dominion. Upon the condition and progress of these interior States the Blue Book provides ample information.
'Here,' says the writer, we are brought face to face with a series of political conditions absolutely unique, and for complexity, variety
and the novelty of principles that have to be applied for their regulation without a parallel in any other part of the world. These States cover an area of nearly 600,000 square miles, and contain a population of more than 66 millions. There are in round numbers 690 of them, varying in size from Haiderabad, with its 11 millions of subjects, to the petty chiefship in Central India or Kathiawar, extending over a couple of villages with less than 1,000 inhabitants.'
But it must not be inferred that our protected States or spheres lie all within that geographical circumscription. As a matter of fact the range of our protectorate stretches far beyond the red line which marks British possession, embracing not only the semi-independent tribes whose highlands form the fringe that encircles our true border, but also the great outlying rulerships of Affghanistan and Baluchistan, and such minor States as Sikhim and the petty chiefships on the north-east. It is with these outlying countries that our external relations have been principally concerned during the last ten years, and it is upon Lord Lansdowne's management of the important questions involved in our position upon this debateable ground, interposed as it is between our proper territory and the outposts of strong and active rivals, that the Viceroy's foreign policy must rest its claim for deliberate approval.
The general situation is well sketched out in Mr. Forrest's short history.
The independent principalities and Powers beyond the bounds of Hindustan which come within the purview of the Viceroy of India extend from the Arabian Sea to the little-known dependencies of Burmah lying beyond the Salween river. To consolidate our friendship with the independent kingdoms, to define our sphere of influence over the petty States and wild tribes that border our Empire, and to distinctly demarcate the boundaries which separate us from our neighbours, have been important features in the external policy of Lord Lansdowne, and much has been accomplished during the past five years in all these directions. As Lord Lansdowne stated in the address to the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce which signalised the close of his administration, we can no longer afford to be indifferent to what passes within the territory of petty chiefs on our border. "Russia on the one side, France on the other, and China on the third "have steadily advanced."'
It is quite true that the gradual approach towards our frontier of Russia from the north-west and of France from the south-east has profoundly modified the strategical position of India, and has, to borrow Mr. Forrest's words, enormously increased our interest in the intervening 'country.' Upon what principles, then, are we to introduce