« PreviousContinue »
this, as Sir John emphatically observes, ' is the very evil * against which we have to guard. Increase of territory will,
in spite of all our efforts, coine too rapidly ; but, to be at all safe, the march must be gradual towards a crisis which can' not be contemplated without alarm.' The peculiar character of the British power in India, destitute of all natural root in • the soil,' allows of no toleration to resistance. There can be no concession, no admission of weakness; every thing must be carried fairly through, since, when victory leaves our standard, our Indian supremacy will become a shadow and a name. Whether this is a desirable state of things or not, is a different question; but, that it actually exists, there can be no reasonable doubt, though we are by no means sure that Sir John Malcolm and those who think with him, take the right view of the policy demanded by the crisis.
We much fear that there is forming, if not actually matured, a spirit of most formidable opposition to the efforts of Christian missionaries. We do not allude to the miserable effusions of such men as Bowen and Dubois, but to the opinions of calculating and influential politicians ; to the decided negative given by Mr. Elphinstone, in answer to proposals for introducing native schools into the conquered territories of the Peishwah, and to a similar reception which proposals of the same kind, in reference to Central India, met with from Sir John Malcolm. The latter expresses himself upon the subject with great apparent moderation, admits that no mischief
have resulted ' from’institutions of the same kind in other parts of India long subjected to British authority, but deprecates interference with the prejudices existing in countries newly conquered, and just emerging from a state of anarchy. We confess that this excessive overstraining of the doctrine of political expediency appears to us of unfavourable augury; it awakens a suspicion of priznary and radical disaffection to the great cause. Nothing, as it should seem, could be better adapted to remedy the evils of anarchy, than the gift of knowledge. Without instruction, there can be no permanent civilization; and no time should be lost in communicating the blessings which Providence, by crowning our arms with success, has rendered it imperative on us to confer. If this excessive timidity is to prevail, the natives will soon discover our weak side ; and the very policy which is designed to conciliate and confirm, will debilitate and destroy.
• The efforts,' writes Mr. Wallace,' which are now making in India to educate the natives, are, perhaps, the most effectual towards the interests of the Christian religion of any that have yet been made. But it is my humble belief, that if the British missionaries were permitted to locate the converted Hindoos upon the waste lands in our provinces, either in conformity to ancient Hindoo civilization, or to plans found practicable in Éurope for bettering the condition of the poor, such a foundation for native Christian society would be laid, as could never again be shaken by the attractions of idolatry. Round such a nucleus the native population would gradually congregate, till civilization extended from the mouths of the Ganges to the Indus, and from the Himalaya mountains to Ceylon.' pp. 374.
Mr. Wallace has brought together a large collection of important materials, and has displayed considerable skill in compressing and arranging them. Having spent a considerable part of his life in India, as a military officer, he has had many opportunities of personal observation, and he appears to have neglected no opportunity of adding to his own proper store, the information afforded by others. His work is designed both as a vade mecum for the traveller, and as a book of easy reference for the general reader. It is not invariably writien with good taste, nor is it always accurate* in its details, but it is altogether a useful, interesting, and accessible volume, and it stands, we think, a fair chance for popularity. The book is divided into the distinct departments of Geographical, Historical, and Miscellaneous, with an Appendix of interesting matter. As a specimen of his general style, we shall extract a few anecdotes illustrative of the romantic valour of the brave men who established and extended the Portuguese empire in the East.
During an overwhelming attack made by the Egyptian fleet that had passed down the Red Sea unexpectedly, on a small squadron under Laurence D'Almeyda, after a most determined resistance, his vessel struck on a flat. It was impossible for the other vessels to get near him, for Hocenus, the Egyptian admiral, with his native auxiliaries, surrounded the wreck, assailing this unfortunate ship on all sides. The battle continued during a whole day, and at night a boat was sent to bring off the Portuguese admiral, but he replied, “ I shall never leave those who have been my companions in danger, nor desert this ship whilst hope or life remains to defend and save her for my country.” Next morning the battle was revived, and one of Almeyda's thighs was shot away, but he ordered himself to be placed in a chair on the deck, and continued to give his orders with coolness till another ball carried away part of his breast and ribs, when he expired. The Egyptians then boarded the vessel, when Laurence Catus, a servant of the deceased admiral, who was wounded in the eye with an arrow, and who had thrown himself on the body of his master, started up, and with his sword killed several of the assailants, while another sai. lor, named Andrew Van Portua, who had lost his right hand, and received a musket-ball in his shoulder, fought to the last with his left, dealing destruction around. When Almeyda's father heard of his son's death, he said, “ It is mine to sustain his place,” and, brushing away the tear of mortal weakness, he proceeded with a fresh force to attack Hocenus, destroyed his whole feet in the harbour of Diu, took that important little island, and amazed the continent by his valour and humanity.
* We could give several instances of inaccuracy, but one or two shall suffice. The mistress of Holkar is called his sister ;' and Sir David Ochterlony is, we believe, very erroneously represented as the commander-in-chief of the army employed against the Ghoorkas.
• In this engagement the brave Nonnius Vasques Pereira was killed; he passed through the enemy's batteries that lined the shore with his single ship, and boarded Hocenus amidst his own fleet.
• Old Almeyda did not live to see the termination of his commenced success, for having fallen into disgrace with king Emanuel by some misunderstanding, he was recalled, and killed at the Cape of Good Hope, by a pointed stick having been run through his body, in an affray between some of the natives and bis sailors. But Nonnius Acunia took the fort of Diu, and the fortified island of Betel, where the desperate Turks, having burned their wives and children, being determined to receive no quarter, rushed upon the Portuguese like lions, maddened by revenge, and were not destroyed till they had slaughtered seventeen officers and one hundred and fifty men belonging to the force under Nonpius.' pp. 173—5.
M. Say's pamphlet is written with the laudable motive of correcting the erroneous views entertained by continental politicians, on the subject of our Indian possessions. Vague notions of wealth and power, connected with the tribute and the commerce of Asia, seem to float in the heads of the eminent persons who direct the machinery of European governments, until they fix it in their minds as a settled axiom, that to assail England in the East is to strike at a vital point.
• There appears to me to be a general mistake on the Continent of Europe with respect to the British Dominion in India. The question is often asked-How did it arise? Who exercises it? Is it the East-India Company—the military—or the parent state? It seems to be taken for granted, that India is the principal source of British wealth. Even governments most interested in entertaining correct ideas on subjects of political economy, share, in this respect, the opinions of the vulgar. They imagine that the nations of India groan beneath the yoke of England, and that they have only to appear in arms, and overthrow a hated and unstable power. This was Bonaparte's intention by the expedition to Egypt, and it has twenty times occupied the cabinet of St. Petersburgh.
Say, pp. 5, 6: With the design of counteracting these inaccurate opinions, M. Say gives a succinet but clear statement of the history and actual condition of the East India Company, and shews that,
on a fair estimate of profit and loss, it is embarked in a losing concern, borrowing money to pay its dividends, accumulating debt instead of realizing property, and setting off fictitious credits against a real defieit. He makes it appear, that even the profits made by the servants of the Company, are
of advantage to the mother country, in as far as they are spent in India, and in short, he presents our Asiatic concerns under such an aspect as is well calculated to deter hostile monarchs and ministers from entering on schemes for the invasion of Hindostan.
Supposing any foreign prince or usurper should procure a few willing or reluctant partizans, he would have still fewer means of resisting British power and intrigue than the princes who governed India before the English, and who, nevertheless, have been forced to submit to the superior tactics of Europe and the superior policy of England, A European army would appear in India under great disadvantages. It would not find a people incensed against their rulers, ready to second it, as has been asserted. The princes, rather than the people, were the enemies of the English ; and independent princes no longer exist. European forces could only be sent by land; and let any one calculate the delay, the expense, and the loss which must attend an army in such an expedition ! Not to speak of the nations it would have to fight with on its road, of the men, horses, and artillery lost in the burning sands, the trackless swamps, and impassable rivers, it would have to encounter, on its arrival, a wellestablished power, defended by an army of 160,000 men, disciplined like Europeans, and with the facilities of receiving by sea all necessary reinforcements and supplies.' Say, pp. 32, 33.
M. Say contends that British India is, on the whole, well governed; but we do not clearly understand him when he observes, that
* The English have totally abandoned all idea of correcting the prejudices of the Hindoos, or of converting them to Christianity. It is even their policy to prefer that they maintain their present opinions. They are either Mahometans or followers of Bramah. Mahometanism renders its votaries resigned and docile. The religion of Bramalı, by the inflexible rigour with which it adheres to its hierarchy of casts, trains them to subordination. The most perfect religious toleration exists, therefore, in British India; and if we add, that peace reigns over the vast countries formerly torn to pieces by a hundred despots, who pillaged them at their pleasure,--that industry is protected, and every one may now enjoy the fruits of his labour, and amass wealth in security,- we shall be forced to admit, that the situation of Hindostan was never happier than at the present moment.' Say, pp. 30, 31.
To the greater part of this paragraph we can, of course, make no objection ; but the qualification of Mahomedism is beyond our comprehension. We should have supposed that, of all the classes of British subjects in India, the votaries of the Prophet would be found "least entitled to the distinctive epithets, i resigned and docile. On the general question as to the probable permanency of English supremacy, the opinion of M. Say leans to the affirmative; and we shall cite the closing paragraphs of his tract as giving a summary of his views on the ultimate condition of Asia.
• In every case the freedom of India seems impossible ; but ought we to wish, for the interests of humanity, that Europe may lose its influence over Asia? Ought we not rather to wish that it should increase ? Europe is no longer what she was in the days of Vasco de Gama and Albuquerque. She is arrived at a state in which Asia has nothing to fear from her influence. With her despots and superstitions, Asia has no good institutions to lose, while she may receive many from Europe.
• The nations of Europe, from their enterprising spirit, and the astonishing progress they have made in all the branches of human knowledge, are, no doubt, destined to subdue the world, as they have already subdued the two Americas ;-1 do not mean by force of arms. Military preponderance is, and ever will be, accidental and precarious. Europe will subjugate the world by the inevitable ascendency of knowledge, and the unceasing operations of her institutions. It is no longer necessary to employ arms against the American Indians. Asia needs longer time on account of her immense population, and the inertia which long-rooted and immoveable customs oppose to every species of innovation. But the march of events is inevitable. The religion of the Magi has given place to Mahometanism ; that of Bramah has lost half its votaries; and Mahometanism will wear itself out in turn like every thing else. The facilities of communication by water are becoming every day more perfect. In our own times, the voyage to India by the Cape of Good Hope has been lessened one half, both in ease and celerity, since 1789. The other passages to the East will indubitably become more short and practicable. The liberation of Greece will lead to that of Egypt; and civilization, gaining ground, will level the obstacles to communication; for the more civilized nations become, the more will they perceive that it is their interest to communicate with their neighbours. We may then have a faint idea of the future state of society; but time is a necessary element in all great revolutions.
Say, pp. 34-6. We must recur to Mr. Wallace for the purpose of enforcing the necessity of a thorough revision and condensation in the event of a second edition. Such a work is so much wanted, that it is well worth while to take pains in its composition, since, without it, details are valueless. Accuracy is indis