{65}

1858

THE problems of India were as clear, and hopeless, in 1858, as they were ninety years later when the British Government tried to give the vast country its freedom. Two statements from the time give some idea of what thoughtful men felt about India's plight. The Prince Consort wrote,1 "The Indians are not a people capable of conquering independence for themselves, to say nothing of maintaining it. Since the days of Bacchus and Nimrod India has constantly been overrun and conquered by new races the Assyrians and Persians, the Greeks under Alexander, the Hiungnu, Tartars, Arabians, and others, down to the most recent times. The conquerors have brought under the yoke and oppressed the races whom they found in possession, but have neither rooted them out nor absorbed them; thus they remain intermingled, but without national coherence."

The second statement 2 came from Lord Canning, Governor-General of India during the mutiny. "As long as I have breath in my body, I will pursue no other policy than that I have been following; I will not govern in anger. Justice, and that as stern and inflexible as law and might can make it, I will deal out. But I will never allow an angry and undiscriminating act or word to proceed from the Government of India, as long as I am responsible for it." Then the proud phrase, "I don't care two straws for the abuse of the papers, British or Indian."

These were the ideas of two of the important men who were to help in transferring the government of India to the Crown, when Lord Derby's government came into power, with Mr. Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Malmesbury as Foreign Secretary. The New India Bill was drawn up, providing for a viceroy, in place of a governor-general, a secretary of state for India with a seat in the cabinet, and a council. The draft of the Bill was sent to the Queen and the Prince Consort and their suggested changes, except one, were adopted. The President of the Board of Control thanked them for "the Prince Consort's valuable and constitutional suggestions." Late in May, Mr. Disraeli wrote to the Queen that "such satisfactory progress" had been made with the Bill that it might be regarded "as safe." At the end of Mr. Disraeli's letter to the Queen was the first flash of an effulgence which she was to enjoy later on. He wrote of the Bill, " ... it

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