The New Government
The time was thus ripe for a new start in India. But at first the new rulers had no such intention. They were awed by the magnitude of their achievement and could not believe that their dominion would be lasting. They had succeeded, they believed, because of a set of favorable circumstances which might change to their undoing. The wisest of them were the most diffident. They thought that they were sitting on a social and racial volcano, which was quiescent for the time being but might erupt at any moment. Thus Charles Metcalfe emphasized the "precariousness" of the Company's new dominion; Mountstuart Elphinstone considered that "the belief that our Indian empire will not be longlived is reason and not prejudice"; while Sir John Malcolm wrote "in an empire like that of India we are always in danger." The ruler of Delhi, the opponent of the peshwa who organized his territories, and the pacifier of central India all concurred in this imperialist gloom. They had all in youth been ardent members of the forward school; in success they saw more of the danger than the opportunities.
The policy actually adopted will be described in Chapter XXIII. We will continue this one with a brief description of the administration as it actually stood about 1820. Everywhere the British found traces of the Mughal rule, and their respect increased with their knowledge. There was, in fact, more in common between the British and the Mughals than has been generally realized. Both took a paternalist view of society. Their object was to provide a frame of security within which the general business of life could proceed. Both therefore emphasized law and order while abstaining from cultural or social interference. But apart from this agreement on ends there was also a considerable community of spirit. Both groups, unlike the aristocrats of medieval Europe, were lovers of trade. High Mughal lords indulged in it almost as freely as the early Company officials. Shaista Khan, governor of Bengal for many