Great Britain: Foreign Policy and the Span of Empire, 1689-1971: A Documentary History - Vol. 3

By Joel H. Wiener | Go to book overview

SEPOY MUTINY AND ITS REPERCUSSIONS

Minute by the Marquis of Dalhousie Summarizing the Political,
Administrative, and Economic Reforms Carried out by Him as
Governor-General of India, 28 February 1856-
[Dalhousie served from January 1848 to March 1856.]

1. The time has nearly come when my administration of the government of India, prolonged through more than eight years, will reach its final close. It would seem that some few hours may be profitably devoted to a short review of those eventful years, not for the purpose of justifying disputed measures, or of setting forth a retrospective defence of the policy which may, on every several occasion, have been adopted, but for the purpose of recalling the political events that have occurred, the measures that have been taken, and the progress that has been made, during the course of the administration which is about to close. I enter on that review with the single hope that the Honourable Court of Directors may derive from the retrospect some degree of satisfaction with the past, and a still larger measure of encouragement for the future.

30. It is not, however, in the new provinces alone that great changes have been brought to pass. When the Statute of 1833 expired, material and important changes were made by the hand of Parliament upon the frame of the administration itself. Of these, two principal measures are worthy of note.

31. Until that time the local government of Bengal had been placed in the hands of the Governor-general of India. But in the year 1853 the system, by which the officer charged with the responsibility of controlling the government of all India was further burdened with local duties of vast extent and importance, was happily abandoned. The Governor-general was finally liberated from the obligation of performing an impossible task, and a Lieutenant-Governor was appointed to the charge of Bengal alone.

The importance of this measure cannot be overrated.

32. At the same time another great change was introduced, equally novel in its character, and not less important.

A Council was appointed as the Legislature of India, which was no longer identical with the Supreme Council, but included divers other members, and exercised its functions by separate and distinct proceedings of its own.

* Parliamentary Papers. 1856, XLV, Cmd. 245, 4, 10, 12–26, 33, 35–39.

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