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to be under the direct eye of the Government of India and of its head, instead of somebody else. Business will be better done and more quickly done ; and there will not be long and vexatious delays.”
The third reform was of great importance, as it really goes to the root of our authority in India, viz., the personal influence of the British official over the people. Before Lord Curzon's measure officials were shifted about and had little time or inducement to master a dialect, or to make friends with the people. By a change in the leave-rules this evil has been obviated, and the “general post” of officials is no longer an annual excitement to the service, and a solemn bewilderment to the perplexed people.
Allied with this reform was the Viceroy's slashing attack on the tyranny of the pen. There was too much writing for the mere sake of writing in the great offices of the Government of India, and the Local Governments; and the Viceroy brought out rules providing for greater simplification of procedure, less penwork, more frequent verbal consultation, and superior despatch; next followed a rigorous onslaught on the multiplicity and length of reports.
It is no exaggeration [says this viceregal iconoclast] to say that the system of report-writing that prevails in India is at once the most perfect and the most pernicious in the world—the most perfect in its orderly marshalling of facts and figures, and in the vast range of its operations; the most pernicious in the remorseless consumption of time, not to mention print and paper, that
it involves, and in its stifling repression of independence of thought and judgment.
The fifth reform was the working of the change in the currency system, and closely connected with this was the sixth problem, railway reform. Neither subject lends itself to a passing notice, nor does the seventh subject of reform, viz., that of irrigation. The eighth item in the programme was the housing question or the indebtedness of the agricultural classes. The Viceroy had already grasped the nettle when he carried through the famous Land Alienation Bill for the Punjab, indeed an “innovation, but also an act of courage.” By this measure the fatal gift of unfettered power over land—an arbitrary creation of our own—was recalled, and the sturdy and manly men of the Punjab were saved, in spite of themselves, from becoming the serfs of the money-lender. The working of the Act has realised the highest hopes of its supporters, and now the Government of India under its energetic chief are threshing out a scheme of agricultural banks, a very necessary corollary to legislation such as that which has been enacted in the Punjab. This list of some of the reforms which were occupying the mind of the Viceroy during his first two years, and filling every hour of the day and night which he could spare from the heavy current work of his office would suggest that there was not much space left for other preoccupations. But Lord Curzon was already at work planning for Commissions to inquire into the conditions of education in its various branches, and into the working of the police department. Soon there were to follow Commissions in connection with irrigation and railways, all of which were, as the Viceroy said, “Commissions to solve and not merely Commissions to shelve,” and their constitution, the framing of the reference and the endless correspondence, intermediate reports, and lastly the Report itself, “condensing the labours perhaps of a twelvemonth, and the intellectual precipitation of a multitude of minds,” involved endless labour and anxiety to the master-mind which had initiated the inquiry. It is time, however, to end this enumeration of some of the endeavours of the Government of India to make the people happier, more contented, more prosperous, and other efforts to a similar end, such as the encouragement of private enterprise, and the development of non-agricultural sources of income cannot be properly noticed here. For this somewhat dry recital of subjects is not given as a chronicle of Lord Curzon's zeal, but is presented to the reader in order that he may realise how much there is to be done in India, all necessary, and most of it eminently urgent. And the recital has been in vain if the reader does not sympathise with the Viceroy and his colleagues, when he sees them after four years of steady toil, with many reforms accomplished and with taxation reduced, almost within sight of goal, suddenly switched off by external influences over which they have no control. At the end of the fifth year he sees the Viceroy, who can ill spare the time, away up the Persian Gulf heartening the Indian officers who watch our interests in that desolate and repulsive region, and reviving and cementing old friendships and alliances with the tribes on the littoral. He sees, too, a mission advancing into Tibet in the face of great physical difficulties, and at a most inclement period of the year, and he wonders what has suddenly come over this peaceful Viceroy, who seemed so absorbed in internal economies and home husbandry. He doubtless knows, as every one of the three hundred millions of India knows, that it is Russia, Russia the “inevitable,” and he recalls the Afghan War, the Panjdeh scare, the campaigns in Hunza Nagar and Chitral, and remembers that the money necessarily but unprofitably spent—money so sorely needed for railways, irrigation, and improved administration in India — was spent because Russia willed it so. It is unfortunate, and most regrettable ; it is as though the owner of an old estate quietly and steadily improving suddenly finds his fences being torn down by a new comer who has recently cribbed a bit of the common. It is as though the proprietor of an old-fashioned respectable business suddenly learns that a man of new methods with a mission is unsettling the operatives by vague threats and vain promises. It is regrettable, but it is useless to be angry. It is a mistake to imagine that the Anglo-Indian is a Russophobe. He sees Russia engaged in a work not unlike the work which has fallen to our lot in India. The Anglo-Indian knows the difficulties and the disappointments which beset the task of Oriental administration ; and if Russia would realise that Asia is large enough for both missions, and would let us carry on our burden without adding to our embarrassments, we should wish her “God speed" in the great work which she has undertaken. It is an age of big things, and though one may dread the consequences of megalomania one cannot help admiring the great adventurers. Opinions differ as to the object of Russia's mission in the East. Let us turn to the opinion of a recent writer whose sympathies are certainly not English. In his work, Russian Advance, the American Senator, Mr. Beveridge, writes : The idealistic purpose of Holy Russia to advance on Asia is a fact a present fact, an aggressive, militant, ever progressive fact. It is a fact which the British Foreign Office troubles over more than any other of its Imperial world problems. It is a fact constantly before the Viceroy of India. . . . It is a fact which the English soldier who holds the thin red line on the outpost of English
dominion in the Far East encounters in armed and deadly form and force in his unending skirmishes with the hill men.
Evelything, according to Mr. Beveridge, proceeds from the ideal. Russia has never waged a war except for an ideal. Her aims in Manchuria and in the Persian Gulf may be explained by her open-sea requirements; but it is an ideal which explains the “presence of Russian agents all through Afghanistan,” and * Russian influence in Tibet and practical Russian sovereignty at Lhasa.” And this ideal is “the Russian's subconscious thought that it is to be the glory of his race to set up the cross over all of Asia's myriads of millions.” Translating the ideal into the real, and without pausing to inquire whether a nation so recently emancipated from slavery does actually cherish such an ideal, we may say that Russia's steady advance towards India is detrimental to our rule and to the welfare of the ruled, and that it will, if not arrested, be ruinous to our Empire. We too, like Russia, have our ideals, more humble, perhaps more practical. Quite apart from the pride of rule there is ever present to our countrymen in India the solicitude of the guardian and trustee.
We have come here [said Lord Curzon] with a civilisation, an education, and a morality which we are vain enough, without disparagement to others, to think the best that have ever been seen : and we have been placed by the Power that ordains all in the seats of the mighty with the fortunes and the future of this great Continent in our hands. There never was such a responsibility. In the whole world there is no such duty. That is why it behoves every one of us, great or small, who belong to the British race in this country to set an example. The man who sets a bad example is untrue to his own country. The man who sets a good one is doing his duty by this.
And knowing as I do after an experience of India reaching over a quarter of a century that this idea permeates all classes of our countrymen in the East, and that we all of us in a simple and unostentatious manner have our own little mission, I think that we might carry our ideal to the jury of the world and ask for a verdict in our favour. Mr. Beveridge will be called as a witness for Russia. He will tell the court of the “engaging methods " by which Manchuria was acquired—methods which should “teach the Englishman something more than mere inflammatory protest when he reflects on his decades of blunder —bloody and costly blunder in learning the lessons of Colonial Government in India.” Let us learn some of these methods. Mr. Beveridge notices with satisfaction the absence of friction between the Russians and the natives. The provinces north of Vladivostock are said to be fully occupied by the Russian peasant. “It is quite impossible to explain the retirement of the Chinese. There was no friction between the people and the Russian peasant.” There seems a very obvious explanation. Speaking of the dreadful massacre of Chinese by the Russians at Blagovestchensk only a few years ago, Mr. Beveridge writes, “When we hear of Russian outrages we must always bear in mind that while it may well be that all of these bloody details are entirely true, yet the chances are that the forbidding aspects of each affair are magnified.” Skobeleff at Goek Teppe, when he slaughtered 20, ooo men, women and children, was only following “the traditional method” of Russia, “to strike when you strike, and to spare not when you are striking.” A Russian priest says to Mr. Beveridge, “We WOL. XLIII 17
Russianise and Christianise. After they have been taught that there will be no trifling with interference to our authority (and we never teach the lesson rore than once) the people come gradually to like us.” When Russia “had finished she had finished.” And so there is no friction ; but it may be permitted to suggest that here is a good deal of fright. Tne methods are really as old as the East. They were the methods of the late Amir of Afghanistan; they were the methods of the famous Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu, to whom we sold Kashmir. Such methods stamp out crime, 2nd often stifle opposition ; but they are not Western methods, and so we must blunder on as best we may in India. Viceroy Alexeieff proclaims to the world that he will annihilate the Manchurians if they do not throw in their lot with him. Viceroy Curzon opens the Kohat Pass, holds the Khyber free for the caravans and the long line to Chitral safe for the reliefs, without a threat. One cannot allude to more of the “engaging methods;” but the Russo-Chinese Bank must be mentioned, as the same method obtains in Persia. Mr. Beveridge shall describe it. The RussoChinese Bank is the Empire of the Tsar engaged in banking business in the Further East. It may be asked why, except for the sake of establishing another “engaging method,” did not the Russian Government build the Manchurian Railway directly. The answer is simple. If any Power objects to the Russianisation of Manchuria the Russian Government can reply that it is not the work of the Government but of a private corporation, whose interests, nevertheless, Russia has a right to protect. Next, if Russia wishes to extend her railway towards Pekin, and to go southward and meet the French lines advancing northward, she can do it through the agency of the Bank, to whose methods the Oriental mind has become accustomed, and in which the world has acquiesced. And, lastly, by the intervention of this agency Russia can keep out the goods of another country by differential rates, and urge that the fixing of these rates was a matter of business policy of the railway company. In Persia there is the same method. The Banque d'Escompte de Perse, under the immediate control of the Ministry of Finance at St. Petersburg, is obligingly helping the spendthrift ruler of Persia, and since 190o some four millions sterling have been lent. It is nothing to Russia that the money has been squandered on the most questionable objects. Provided the security is good it is no business of hers to lecture the Shah on his duties to his people. The security is good, and it pays to lend money at 6 per cent. which can be borrowed in Paris at 4 per cent. ; and above all the Russian bank is a most potent