The Earl of Mayo - William Hunter - darmowy ebook

In his internal administration Lord Mayo had to encounter two imperative, and at first sight, irreconcilable necessities. The one was the necessity for consolidation, the other was the necessity for decentralisation. The new India which Lord Dalhousie had conquered and annexed, could only be made a safe India by rendering the resources of each part available for the protection of the whole. It could no longer be mainly held from the sea-board. Its security depended on a network of strategic positions, several of them a thousand miles inland, which had to be firmly connected by railways with each other and with the coast. Lord Dalhousie clearly discerned this, and in his far-reaching scheme of empire, consolidation formed the necessary complement of conquest.

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by William Hunter

Published 2018 by Blackmore Dennett

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The Life of Dalhousie dealt with the last accessions made to the British dominions in India under the East India Company. The present volume exhibits a memorable stage in the process by which those dominions, old and new, were welded together into the India of the Queen.

Between the two periods a time of trial had intervened. Northern India, drained of its European regiments in spite of the protests of Dalhousie, seemed during the agony of 1857 to lie at the mercy of the revolted native troops. The Mutiny left behind it many political lessons, and two historical facts. These facts were that the Sepoys in whom the East India Company gloried as its chief strength had proved its chief danger, and that the ruling princes of India, whom the Company always regarded as a main source of danger, had proved a source of strength.

I say the ruling princes of India. For besides the reigning families there were certain ex-ruling Houses who furnished leaders and rallying-names to the revolt. The Muhammadan lapsed dynasties were represented in the Mutiny by the titular majesty of the King of Delhi and his sons. The great Hindu power, the Maráthás, who seemed destined in the last century to build up an indigenous Indian empire out of the wreck of the Muhammadan dynasties, stood forward against us in the persons of Náná Sáhib the adopted son of the deposed Peshwá, and his military follower Tántia Topi. The lesser ex-ruling Houses, whose states had come under the British Government on failure of direct male heirs, supplied an equally vindictive and a more heroic leader in the Rání or pensioned princess of Jhánsí. But the great body of the reigning Feudatories in India held aloof from the Mutiny. Many of them cast in their lot with us in our hour of direst need. The story of the loyal Punjab Chiefs who helped us to retake Delhi is known to all Englishmen. But the succour, the shelter, the aid, rendered by scores of the Native Princes throughout India, find but a passing mention in history. Of the 150 principal Feudatories and Chiefs, we can count the disloyal ones on the fingers of one hand. Local leaders, like Koer Singh the Behár landholder, were mostly bankrupt or ruined men.

One result of the Mutiny of 1857 was to profoundly modify the attitude of the British Government to the Native Princes. The East India Company had regarded them as semi-foreign allies; of whom the more powerful were to be bound tightly by treaties and overawed by subsidiary troops; while the weaker should be absorbed into the British dominions whenever a just occasion arose. This system of annexation was 'the one clear and direct course' deliberately laid down by the East India Company's Government in 1841. When the Queen assumed the direct control of India, her first act was to reverse that policy. In solemn words she assured the loyal Princes and Chiefs of her desire to maintain their rule over their own States. The Feudatories became thenceforward an integral part of the British Empire of India, with a clearly defined position, intermediate between the Sovereign and the native nobility in our own provinces.

In order to secure the perpetuation of their power and dignity in their own families, Her Majesty gave up a cherished principle of the preceding Mughal Empire; namely, that in the Feudatory States which directly owed their existence to the Imperial throne, the succession to the government of the State depended on the Emperor's pleasure. This principle which the East India Company had enforced for its own aggrandisement in the absence of natural male heirs, the Queen in 1858 deliberately renounced for ever. The right of adoption and of succession to the government of the Feudatory States of all classes, was placed on the same firm basis as the right of adoption and of inheritance to private property. The Native Chiefs became as deeply interested as the landed proprietors in our own provinces in the stability of the Queen's rule. For henceforth they held alike their governments and their estates under charters granted by the British Power.

This important change in the status of the Feudatory Princes carried with it increased responsibilities both on their part and on the part of the Suzerain. It became the duty of the Suzerain, in subjecting fifty millions of Indians to permanent feudatory rule, to secure, by a closer supervision, that such rule should prove a blessing and not a curse to the people. It became the duty of the Chiefs to co-operate more cordially with the Suzerain Power to give that good government to their subjects, which was the fundamental postulate of the new order of things. The changed status of the Feudatory Princes gradually evolved its practical incidents, not always without friction, during the ten years after India passed to the Crown. Those years were years of consolidation. To Lord Mayo, as we shall see, fell the more beneficent work of conciliation: the task of infusing into the old sense of self-interest new sentiments of loyalty, and of awakening new conceptions of solidarity between the Feudatory Chiefs and the Suzerain Power.

But Lord Mayo's work of conciliation was not confined alone to the princes, it embraced also the peoples of India. One of the most historical sections of the community, the Muhammadans, had gradually sunk into the degeneracy incident to an ex-ruling class. The educational and administrative measures of the fifteen years preceding 1869 accelerated their downward progress, and practically cut them off, throughout large parts of India, from any fair share in the public employments which were once their almost exclusive birthright. Lord Mayo had been deeply impressed both in Russia and in his native Ireland by the political dangers arising out of such an excluded class. The measures which he initiated formed an important step towards reconciling the Muhammadans to our system, and of adapting that system to their needs. For this task of conciliation, conciliation alike of the princes and peoples of India, Lord Mayo had special gifts. For, to use the words of the Earl of Derby, 'it was with him not a matter of calculation, but the result of nature.'

In regard to the foreign policy of India, Lord Mayo arrived at a juncture when the pre-existing methods had come to their natural termination. Lord Dalhousie's annexation of the Punjab in 1849, by throwing down the Sikh breakwater between British India and Afghánistán, brought closer the boundaries of Russian and English activity in the East. Our Asiatic relations with Russia passed definitely within the control of European diplomacy, and during the next twenty years the Indian Foreign Office pursued a policy oflaissez faire towards its transfrontier neighbours on the north-west. This policy, deliberately adopted and justified at its inception by the facts, had manifestly ceased to be any longer possible, shortly before Lord Mayo's arrival. The dangers of isolation were become greater than the risks of intervention. The task set before Lord Mayo was to create a new breakwater between the spheres of English and Russian activity in Asia.

We shall see how he accomplished this task by a cordon of allied States along the north-western frontier, and by securing the concurrence of Russia to the system of an intermediate zone. Lord Mayo's foreign policy formed the true historical complement of Lord Dalhousie's annexation of the Punjab. Instead of the old Sikh breakwater on the Indian edge of the passes, he constructed a new breakwater on their further side, against movements from Central Asia. 'Surround India,' he said, in words which I shall again have to quote, 'with strong, friendly, and independent States, who will have more interest in keeping well with us than with any other Power, and we are safe.' On the basis thus established by Lord Mayo in 1869, the modern policy of British India towards Central Asia has been built up.

In his internal administration Lord Mayo had to encounter two imperative, and at first sight, irreconcilable necessities. The one was the necessity for consolidation, the other was the necessity for decentralisation. The new India which Lord Dalhousie had conquered and annexed, could only be made a safe India by rendering the resources of each part available for the protection of the whole. It could no longer be mainly held from the sea-board. Its security depended on a network of strategic positions, several of them a thousand miles inland, which had to be firmly connected by railways with each other and with the coast. Lord Dalhousie clearly discerned this, and in his far-reaching scheme of empire, consolidation formed the necessary complement of conquest.

Lord Mayo came to India after the long strain which succeeded the Mutiny had passed away, and it fell to him to give a more complete development to his illustrious predecessor's views than had up to that time been practicable. Indeed, before his arrival, it was become apparent that under the then existing system, an adequate rate of progress in railway extension could only be attained by an outlay which exceeded the resources of Indian finance. Under Lord Mayo's orders a new system of State Railways was inaugurated—a system which has filled in the gaps left in the railway map of India as contemplated by Lord Dalhousie, and which is now bringing about an era of railway development throughout India such as Lord Mayo himself would scarcely have ventured to hope for.

During the five years preceding Lord Mayo's first year of rule, 1869-70, only 892 miles of new railway had been opened.1 During the five years which followed 1869-70, no fewer than 2013 additional miles were opened.2 The old system of Guaranteed Railways had from its commencement in 1853 opened only a total of 4265 miles during the seventeen years ending 1869-70. Under the new system of State and Guaranteed Railways inaugurated by Lord Mayo, the total rose to 15,245 miles in 1887-88.

1 Parliamentary Abstract, 1865-66 to 1869-70, inclusive.

2Idem; 1870-71 to 1874-75, inclusive.

But while Lord Mayo strongly realised that the public safety in India demanded consolidation, he perceived that financial solvency depended on decentralisation. Up to his time the expenditure of the most distant provinces was regulated from Calcutta. In the greater India handed down by Dalhousie this task had grown beyond the power of any single central bureau. The result was an annual scramble by the Provincial Governments for the Imperial grants, and a chronic inability on the part of the Central Government to estimate its real income and expenditure for either the current or the coming year. In the proper chapter the disastrous consequences of this state of things will be duly set forth. It suffices here to state that the measures devised by Lord Mayo and his counsellors put an end to that state of things for ever.

By those measures he re-organised the finances of India on a broader basis of Provincial independence and Provincial responsibility, subject to a clearly defined central control. He awakened in each Local Government a new and keen incentive to economy—the incentive of self-interest. He found chronic deficit; he left a firmly established surplus. At the same time he reformed relations of the Provincial treasuries with the Central Government so as to secure that the Budget estimates should thenceforth be a trustworthy forecast of the resources of the year. All this he accomplished without impairing the efficiency of the central control, or depriving the Central Government of any power which it could really exercise with advantage.

But great as was the immediate success of his financial measures, he looked forward to still more important results in the future. He felt that the problem of problems in India is to bind together the Provinces in a true and not a fictitious unity; not indeed as homogeneous portions of a nation, but as integral parts of an empire. To accomplish this, he perceived that an ordered freedom must be accorded to the Provincial Governments in matters of local administration, as well as a strict subjection enforced from them in matters of Imperial policy.

Lord Mayo believed that the best training for any large measure of self-government in India was to be found in the management of local resources. He declared, as we shall see, that his financial policy would, 'in its full meaning and integrity, afford opportunities for the development of self-government:' 'the object in view being the instruction of many peoples and races in a good system of administration.' He denied that his policy was a policy of decentralisation in any destructive sense. On the contrary, he regarded it as a powerful impulse towards consolidation on the only basis possible for a vast empire—the basis of Provincial initiative and Provincial responsibility subject to a firm central control.

In narrating the principal measures of this viceroyalty, I have freely used my larger Life of Lord Mayo, published fifteen years ago. But I would express my obligations to the authorities in the India Office for the facilities now afforded me, especially by the Political Department, for tracing the subsequent history of those measures in the official records, and thus enabling me to estimate their permanent results. I would also express my gratitude to members of the family: especially to the Countess Dowager of Mayo, not only for materials originally supplied,3 but also for valuable suggestions during her perusal of the proof-sheets of the present volume, and for the portrait which forms its frontispiece.

3A Life of the Earl of Mayo, fourth Viceroy of India, 2 vols. 2nd edit. 1876.



Richard Southwell Bourke, sixth Earl of Mayo, was born in Dublin on the 21st of February, 1822. He came of a lineage not unknown throughout the seven centuries of unrest, which make up Irish history. Tracing their descent to the ancient Earls of Comyn in Normandy, the de Burghs figured as vigorous instruments in the English conquest of Ireland from the Strongbow invasion downwards. From the William Fitzadelm de Burgh, commissioned to Ireland by Henry II to receive the allegiance of the native kings, sprang a number of warlike families, now most prominently represented, after many mischances of forfeiture and lapse, by the Earls-Marquesses of Clanricarde and the Earls of Mayo.

Like other Norman barons in Ireland, the de Burghs gradually fell into the rough ways of the tribes whom they subdued. One of them married a granddaughter of Red-Hand, the old King of Connaught, and the family name naturalised itself into the Irish forms of Bourke, Burke, or Burgh, which it has since retained. They adopted the conquered country as their own, and each subsequent wave of English invaders found the Bourkes as intensely Irish as the old Celtic families themselves. I trouble the reader with these matters, not from an idle love of genealogy, but because the past history of the family did much to mould the character of the Bourke who forms the subject of this volume. His was a nature into which an ancient descent infused no tincture of any ignoble pride of birth. But its memories lit within him an unquenchable love of the people among whom his ancestors had so long borne a part—a sentiment which, after blazing up once or twice in his youth, shone calmly through his life, and went with him to the grave.

'I come of a family,' he said on one occasion in the House of Commons, 'that cast in their lot with the Irish people.' To that people he devoted his whole English career. The only parliamentary office which he accepted was the Chief Secretaryship for Ireland; and this office he held thrice. He spoke so seldom on any but Irish questions as to be little known to the English public. Amid the splendid cares of India his letters break out into longings for his Irish home. It was an Irish cross that he placed on the plain of Chilianwála over the unnamed dead. In his Will, he begged that his body might be conveyed to Ireland, and laid in a humble little churchyard in the centre of his own estates, with only an Irish cross to mark his grave.

As in the feuds and rebellions of Ireland, from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century, the Bourkes bore a boisterous part, so, during the eighteenth century they emerge as active prelates and politicians. John Bourke of Kill and Moneycrower, an ambitious and hard-working member of the Irish Parliament, was created Baron Naas in 1776, Viscount Moneycrower in 1781, and finally Earl of Mayo in 1785. The third Earl held the Archbishopric of Tuam and gave a clerical turn to the younger branches of the family, among whom the Bishop of Waterford and the Dean of Ossory left well-remembered names. The fourth Earl has a surer hold on the public memory in Praed's verse. The fifth Earl was the father of Lord Mayo the subject of this memoir.

Hayes, the scene of Lord Mayo's early years, was an unpretending country house in Meath, about twenty-two miles from Dublin. Here, in the earlier part of the century, lived the second son of the fourth Earl of Mayo, the Honourable Richard Bourke, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, with his wife Mary, daughter of Robert Fowler, Archbishop of Dublin. In 1820 their eldest son Robert, afterwards fifth Earl, wedded Anne Charlotte Jocelyn, a granddaughter of the Earl of Roden; and the Bishop, retiring to his see-residence at Waterford, gave up his family house of Hayes to the newly-married pair. Of this marriage Richard Bourke, whose life I am about to relate, was the eldest son.

At Hayes they lived for over forty years, bringing up a family of eight1 children in a quiet religious fashion, and upon such means as fall to the son of a younger son. In 1849 Mr. Robert Bourke succeeded to the earldom, and afterwards took his seat in Parliament as a representative peer. But long before that time, Richard and the other elder children were out in life. It was the Hayes influence that moulded their characters and shaped their careers, and it was Hayes that they always thought of as their home.

1 Of ten children born to them, one daughter died in infancy and one son in boyhood.

As the Hayes income did not permit of a public school education, the father set about the task of home-training with steadfastness of purpose. In his youth he had passed a couple of years at Oxford, but his own up-bringing had been mainly a domestic and evangelical one, characteristic of an Irish see-house sixty years ago. His marriage confirmed this cast of thought by closely associating him with the evangelical leaders of the time. The tutor and governess formed important figures in the life of that quiet household, in which few events took place to mark the march of time, save the father's periodical absence at assizes, or on county business. This monotone of boyhood, little broken by the usual external influences, gave a singular force to the family tie among the young group at Hayes.

The house became a well-known resort of the evangelical clergy, and figures somewhat prominently in the religious biography of that time. One clergyman has left behind a picture of his warm welcome on reaching Hayes belated—his postillions having lost their way and entangled the carriage in a wood—and how the nursery turned out a little battalion, which had retired for the night, but now streamed forth 'wrapped in shawls and cloaks' to greet the family friend. Nor does the narrative fail to notice 'the asylum established within the grounds for persecuted Protestants.'

The sobriety of tone at Hayes was brightened by the delight which the father took in the outdoor life of his children. Walking expeditions, long rides, cricket, swimming matches on the Boyne, and every form of robust companionship which endears Englishmen to each other—in all these the father and sons bore an equal part. The talent at Hayes came from the mother. But to the father they owed the ideal and standards in life which result from growing up as the dearest friends of a single-minded and tenderly considerate man.

'My father,' writes one of the sons, 'brought us all up with the idea that we should have to make our own way in the world. But at the same time, every one of us felt that what little he could do for us he would do to the last penny. His generosity used to break out unconsciously in a hundred details. During the Indian Mutiny, I gave a little lecture to the tenants and neighbours on what the army was then doing in the East. Unmeritorious as the performance undoubtedly was, I remember my father coming into my room early next morning, and saying, with tears in his eyes, that he felt proud of it, and that he was not a rich man, but begged me to accept a twenty-pound note.'

Of the mother, the same son writes. 'What strikes me most in looking back, was her earnest love for her children; an inexhaustible fund of common sense; a contempt for everything mean or wrong; and a firm belief that her daily prayers for us would be answered, and that we would be a blessing and comfort to her through life.

'She it was who really enabled my father to pull through the many difficulties of his married life, between 1820 and 1849. She was never idle—always writing, doing accounts, or working; had little time for reading, but constantly did her best to get us to take an interest in books. Her mission, she used to say, was work. She devoted much of her time to the cottages of the sick, to clothing clubs, and the hundred little charities which crowd round the wife of an Irish squire who tries to do his duty. I never knew any one whoworked harder. Two days a week she gave up to standing at the door of her medicine-room, dispensing drugs, and, when necessary, warm clothes to the poor. And day after day, in bad seasons week after week, the dinner-bell rang before she got a drive or a walk. Often have I thought that poor Mayo inherited from her that conscientiousness in the discharge of minute duties which to me seemed one of the characteristics of his official life, both in England and in India.'

The mother stands out in this and other documents which have come into my hands, a figure of gentle refinement among the robust open-air group at Hayes; recognised by it as something of a paler and more spiritual type than the warm colouring of the life around her. Into that life she managed to infuse a consciousness that, somehow, there was a higher and more beautiful existence than the vigorous animalism of boyhood dreamed of. Richard as the eldest cherished her memory with a touching retentiveness. A thoroughly manly boy, the leader in all the pastimes and mischief of Hayes, his childhood reflected the more retired aspects of his mother's nature, not less than his father's love of out-door sports. There remains a little collection of sermons written by him before the age of twelve, and instinct with the pathos of an imaginative child under strong religious impressions. These discourses, chiefly upon texts dear to the evangelical mind, dwell with a quaint earnestness on such subjects as the doctrine of grace, the worthlessness of this world, and the glories and terrors of the next.

The taste for history soon began to mingle with his meditations, and his twelfth year produced a little book in a straggling boyish hand, entitled, 'A Preface to the Holy Bible, by R. S. B. of H——': with the motto, 'Multae terricolis linguae, coelestibus una.' In this fasciculus he gives a historical introduction to each of the books of the Old Testament as far as the Psalms, with notices of their authors and contents. His boyish letters breathe the pronounced Protestantism of the people among whom he lived. At fifteen he writes to his father: 'There is a poor man here on the verge of the grave just come out of Popery. Lord Roden' (the relative with whom he was then staying), 'has received alarming letters from M. Caesar Malan of Geneva, giving an alarming account of the increase of Popery on the Continent.' Such sentences contrast curiously with the tolerant sobriety of Lord Mayo's maturer mind. But they illustrate that ready sympathy with his surroundings, which won for him in later life the love of his own countrymen, and produced so deep an impression among the princes and peoples of India.

With one more quotation I must bid good-bye to the home-life at Hayes. It is a letter written to his mother on his thirty-seventh birthday, when he was Chief Secretary for Ireland for the second time, amid the distracting cares of Phoenix Park agitations, and the coming defeat of his party in Parliament.

'MY DEAREST MOTHER,—I am very thankful for your motherly letter and all the good advice it contains. I have had many blessings in my time, and I am most thankful for them in my heart, though I may not make any great demonstration of my thoughts. We are all getting on in years, and are, I hope, setting our faces homewards. My life is, at the very most, more than half over, even supposing that I should live to be old. And how many chances there are against that! This time thirty-seven years ago I was a small thing. How much smaller in one sense shall I be thirty-seven years hence! How much greater, we may hope, in another!'

In 1838, Richard being then sixteen, the Hayes family went abroad for a couple of years. The first year they spent in Paris, the tutor and governess living as usual in the house. But for the first time in their lives, the boys bent their necks to the discipline of exact teaching, beginning with the French professor at 8 A.M. and ending with the dancing-master at 7 in the evening. For these long hours in the schoolroom they took a sufficient revenge out of doors. One can picture the torrent of thick-booted Irish boys, each accustomed to do battle for his own branch in the great laurel at home, ravaging among the miniature embellishments of a Champs Elysées garden. They set up a swing, wore the grass into holes, swarmed up the delicately-nurtured cedar, and trampled the flower-beds. At the end of six months, when the family left, Mr. Bourke had to pay the outraged proprietor a bill of five hundred francs, for 'dégradation du jardin.'

In the summer of 1839 the family rolled southwards to Switzerland, and had four months of climbing. The next winter, passed in Florence, opened up a new world. The French and Italian masters went on as before, and Richard took lessons in singing and on the violoncello, for both of which he had early disclosed an aptitude. But another sort of education also began. At first half holidays, then whole days, were spent in the galleries; the mother now as ever leading him on in all noble culture. 'Richard,' writes his brother, 'intensely enjoyed the artistic atmosphere of the place.' He learned to recognise the different schools and artists by patiently looking at their works.

At Florence, too, Richard first entered the world. The mother took care that the best houses should be open to her son. So to balls, Richard Bourke and his next brother went; and to all the haunts of men and women in that friendly society of winter refugees. 'Before he returned to England,' writes his brother, 'he had become a man.'