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siveness displayed in the ten years' statement; and let us, as irresponsible critics, venture upon an excursion into the region of pure politics as distinguished from departmental administration.
It would be strange indeed if, when all organised governments in the world have their essential defects and accidental difficulties, the course of our rule in India were free from them; and the only matter for surprise is that the troubles are so few when the risks are so many. The immemorial antagonism between religions, for example, of which the pernicious effects are prominently visible in almost every crisis of European history, is at this moment not only active but powerful in India, where it is evidently gathering strength in an atmosphere that might have been expected to soften and dissolve it. In the great cities there are certain classes who have become imbued with the ideas and negative convictions propagated by the manners and teaching of Europe; but the vast multitude is everywhere conservative and follows leaders whose sense of danger to the ancestral creed has sharpened the edge of religious animosity. The agitation set up by the Hindus against the killing of kine by Mahomedans denotes the persistence, under altered circumstances, of an ancient and inexhaustible quarrel between two religious systems that are in strong contrast upon almost every cardinal point of ritual or belief. The bitter animosity thus generated between Hindus and Mahomedans culminated in very serious riots for three days in Bombay city, and in some fatal affrays in the eastern provinces near Benares and Patna. Lord Lansdowne, who suppressed these disturbances vigorously, took a subsequent occasion of laying down in plain terms the British policy of strict neutrality and toleration towards religions, coupled with a firm intention to put down violence; nor need it be feared that Lord Elgin will hesitate about maintaining public order. Nevertheless fresh quarrels have again broken out within the last few months at Poona; and this remarkable outflow of religious jealousy is still spreading, while it is supposed that active demonstrations against the killing of cows are still being concerted in many parts of India. Under the native rulers the disturbances from this cause were chronic and inextinguishable wherever the factions were evenly balanced; and there was peace only where one side or the other was irresistibly overmatched. No such collision as that which has been recently reported could have occurred at Poona so long as it was the capital of the Brahmin Peshwas, for the plain reason that the Mahomedans would
have been instantly crushed ; nor is it likely that under the Moghul emperors the Hindus could have raised a tumult against the slaughter of kine at Delhi or Agra. Moreover in those days of disturbed and dilatory communications no concerted action among the sects in distant parts of India was possible; so that a petty religious war might have broken out in the north without stirring up unruly affections in Bengal or the Dekhan. But in these respects the condition of India is now entirely changed. The enlightened toleration of the British Government, although no religious party accepts it in principle, does nevertheless in practice provide all disputants with a fair field, shows no favour, and eren withholds police interference up to a certain limit wbich, when it is reached, there is great temptation for excitable sections to overstep. That the Mahomedans should be legally protected, or the Hindus strictly restrained, in the public celebration of their worship in the streets of Poona or in the holy city of Benares, tallies better with administrative notions of rigid impartiality than with native ideas and traditions. Local custom and established precedent are of course the safest guides; but when disputes of this kind come before the law courts the decision is almost sure to irritate the losing side, and if a turbulent minority wins it is much teinpted to provoke resentment by triumphantly insisting on the extreme exercise of the rights decreed. If any collision follows it is noised abroad throughout the length and breadth of India ; religious passions and prejudices are fomented by the journals, and the summons to rally in defence of a menaced faith goes round among people who, whether Hindus or Mahomedans, have never been backward in answering such calls. Remembering that religious changes and controversies on a grand scale began in the West, where the Roman Empire had levelled local barriers, established free intercourse among nations, and professed neutrality towards all religions that did not interfere with politics, we have no sure ground for assuming that in the East they will be extinguished or even greatly discouraged by the pax Britannica.
Our opinion is, therefore, that there is no reason for expecting the disappearance, in India, of troubles bred out of the jealousies of rival faiths. On the contrary, as under the empire of the Cæsars so now in the land of English imperialism, peace, prosperity, and the equalisation of races and religions under one universal and impartial dominion are conditions rather favourable than unfavourable to wide
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spread religious movements among a people profoundly interested in things spiritual. The British Government does well to be prepared beforehand for such possibilities, and to watch vigilantly any precursory symptoms ; but we must take care to anticipate nothing, and above all things the Government should avoid vain and premature alarms. The attempt made last summer in England to raise a scare over the mysterious smearing of trees in Behar did ill service to British rule in India ; it suggested the notion that Englishmen could be easily frightened, and it was founded on a tendency to exaggerate and misunderstand the true bearing of such manifestations. No sane person could disregard, still less would he deride, these signs and tokens in India ; but even false confidence is less dangerous than the attitude of undignified panic, or the assumption that because an unintelligible fact requires cautious investigation it is the forerunner of some vast political conspiracy. It is true that the origin and purpose of the circulation of cakes, which immediately preceded the Mutiny of 1857, have never been explained; but a reference to the evidence collected on this subject in Kaye's · History of the Sepoy War' will show that even at that time, when men's minds had been startled by a sudden unforeseen eruption of fanaticism, the opinions of competent observers differed considerably as to any connexion between the cakes and the military revolt. One thing is certain, that among the innumerable sects of Hinduism the use of mystic signals and the passing round of emblems and intimations, sacrificial, prophetic, or (so to speak) masonic, are not unfrequent in India ; and it seems also fairly established that the population at large, far from joining an immense conspiracy of silence, are usually as much puzzled by these phenomena as their rulers. The passage through the villages of cakes in 1857 was the common talk of the country-side. The peasantry were open-mouthed about it; they consulted the English officials, and if there were any deep secret the people at large were certainly not in it. History and past experience throw little light on these questions, for undoubtedly great disturbances have occurred without any such premonitory symptoms, while, on the other hand, these curious incidents have often happened without any subsequent commotion.
We do not desire that these things should be treated lightly or negligently; but of all rulers the English in India are least likely to be caught in a fool's paradise, and nothing breeds panics in the people like unsteadiness in their
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government. There is at least one example on record, though now entirely forgotten, of the consequences of administrative credulity. In the year 1834 palm leaves with seditious notices or warnings written upon them were found hanging on trees by the side of all the roads leading to Kandy in Ceylon. The Government took alarm, made secret inquiry, surrounded with troops the palace of a high native officer, arrested him at night, and prosecuted him, when the whole affair turned out to be a plot, not for the overturn of British rule, but for the damage and disgrace of the said officer.
Finally, we may quote upon this curious question the opinion of a very competent native observer of high education and capacity.
• What about the mysterious daubing of mango trees in Behar? Well, if this incident shows anything it shows from what little causes the excited imagination may jump to large, sweeping conclusions. This smearing of trees is by no means the first occurrence of its kind, though the first, certainly, to be taken so much notice of.... Once the incident was raised into a portent of political danger, and excitement rose to its height where all should have been calm indifference, it needed but little ingenuity to weave explanations and gloomy forecasts. Very much the same importance was given to the distribution of chupátis just before the outbreak of the sepoy revolt. That, too, was a mysterious occurrence, and could not but have caused the troubles it preceded. In fact, however, the Mutiny has never been traced to the chupátis. The latter were more likely distributed by some happy father out of gratitude to his gods' having heard his prayers for a son and heir. He was probably rich enough to distribute them in large quantities, and the balance was passed on from village to village till the origin of the chupáti became lost, and they went on their way rejoicing as sacred prasád—that is, food sent by the gods to their followers, to be partaken of sparingly and passed on to believers still further off. ... The chupátis had, perhaps, no more to do with the Mutiny than had the “Ferocious Dooly” immortalised by the M.P. knowing everything about it all. The moral of such incidents is that if the people of India are superstitious some of its administrators are no less ready to lose their heads.'
So much has been made in some quarters of the smearing of trees that it has seemed to us worth while to give some of the reasons why it need not be regarded as a portentous omen, like the writing on the wall of Belshazzar's palace. On the other hand, though we deprecate belief in mystic signals and thickening plots as not conducive to a calm survey of the political horizon, we are by no ineans disposed to take an optimistic view of the present or prospective
situation in India. No prophetic interpreter of a mysterious language is required to discover what the educated native politicians are thinking about in a country where the native press, open-mouthed, voluble, and hard-hitting, has at any rate not joined the conspiracy of silence, and where a National Congress holds annual meetings. Nor is anything beyond native experience of Asiatic affairs needed to tell us that in India spiritual and temporal matters are closely connected, that the political agitator may make his market out of a religious fermentation, and that thus the old-fashioned conservative Hindu, who may imagine his caste or his customs to be losing ground, may be prevailed upon to follow leaders whose real aim and tactics he by no means' understands. In these circumstances it is no easy matter for the British Government to maintain the necessary equipoise among jarring creeds, and to satisfy those who press for a policy of advanced Liberalism upon questions of administrative and social reforms, without offending the very sensitive prejudices of those whose attachment to our rule is strictly conditional upon our abstaining from all interference with their domestic and religious institutions. And embarrassments of this sort are materially intensified when the pressure of the native reformer, whose views and aspirations are natural enough, is supported by the cooperation of well-meaning but inexperienced advocates in England.
We desire to make it clearly understood that we are not hostile, in principle, to the wishes of the educated natives for a larger share in the government of their country. During Lord Lansdowne's viceroyalty a considerable advance (we quote from Mr. Forrest) has been made in associating the natives of India not only with legislation, but also with the judicial and executive administration. Ninety-three offices which had hitherto been held only by members of the covenanted civil service have been declared open to the different provincial services, which are almost exclusively filled by gentlemen of Indian parentage. What we are endeavouring to point out is that the obstacles, drawbacks, and intricacies which beset the path of Indian liberalism are very liable to be overlooked both by the native gentlemen who have little or no experience in the working of the Western institutions that they are anxious to introduce, and by the European politicians who are no less ignorant of the true conditions and circumstances of Indian affairs. The proposal to hold competitive examinations for the civil service simultaneously