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RULERS OF INDIA
THE GOVERNORS-GENERAL AND DUPLEIX
MARQUESS CORNWALLIS · MARQUESS WELLESLEY
MARQUESS OF HASTINGS - EARL AMHERST
G. D. OSWELL
PRINCIPAL OF RAJKUMAR COLLEGE, RAIPUR, CENTRAL PROVINCES, INDIA
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
WITH Pitt's India Bill of 1784, a radical change took place in the relations of the Company to its Indian possessions, and from this time onward through the long line of Governors-General the supreme management of Indian affairs, as Sir John Seeley has stated, passed out of the hands of the Company. "Thenceforward an enterprise, begun for purposes of trade, fell under the management of men who had no concern with trade. Thenceforward two English statesmen divided between themselves the decision of the leading Indian questions—the President of the Board of Control and the Governor-General : and as long as the Company lasted the leading position belonged rather to the Governor-General than to the President of the Board. With this change in the control of Indian affairs came also a change in the selection of the men who were to have the supreme control of affairs in India. Henceforth the Rulers of India, as a general rule, were chosen from the ranks of the aristocracy of England : and no class could have been more welcome in India, for nowhere in the world is the prevailing sentiment more aristocratic in its character than in India, where the personal rule of the Chief has always recommended itself to the genius of the people. Herein may be found one factor in the success England's rule in the East. It not without significance that the long line of GovernorsGeneral of India should have begun with Lord Cornwallis, who did so much in creating a landed aristocracy in the Provinces he was called upon to rule, and should have ended with Lord Canning, who not only established the aristocracy of the greater India of his day in their ancient rights and privileges, but after their stanch loyalty had stood the strain of the test it was put to during the great crisis of 1857, even gave them additional privileges that no former Governments had ever granted them. It is indeed fitting that in the year of the Jubilee of the Proclamation of the great Queen, whereby they were granted this token of trust, still further privileges should be in contemplation for the aristocracy of India, and that they should be called upon to take a still more important place than they have hitherto taken in the Councils of the Empire.
In his biography of Lord Cornwallis, Mr. Seton-Karr has stated that Mill, while admitting the generous policy of the Permanent Settlement, declares that it was dictated in some measure by prejudice, and attributes to Cornwallis, himself an aristocrat, the intention of establishing an aristocracy on the European model. Mr. Seton-Karr's comment on this is a sound one : · Lord Cornwallis’ aristocratical prejudices—if they be so considered—were really just what suited his position and aims. It may be truly said that they cannot be cast aside by any statesman who thoroughly comprehends the peoples whom he has to govern and the problems which he ought to solve. There is nothing democratic in the various strata of Indian society. From its earliest traditions to its recent history it has been the sanctuary of privilege. Its tribes worship pomp and pageantry, and are reconciled to an apparent inequality over which every man of talent and capacity hopes to triumph. It may be taken as an axiom that the general sense of the Natives is in favour of marked gradations of rank, and of exemption from restraints and restrictions, while at the same time a value is set upon impartial justice, inviolate good-faith and incorruptible integrity. Guilds and fraternities, associations of traders, community of interests between co-parcenary communities are not democratic, but, if anything, oligarchical : and caste in all its endless ramifications is a symbol of honour and not a badge of disgrace.' These words are as true now as when they were penned, and though something may be said of the democratic tendencies of some, but by no means all, of the new great Middle Class that has arisen in India, their ideas have not penetrated far among the masses of the peoples of India. The aristocracy of India still wield an enormous influence, and the great masses of the peoples of India still will to have it so. Pertinently, therefore, does a writer in a recent number of The Spectator remark : 'Surely no one could desire more in the name of sympathy or of democracy than that people should be governed in accordance with their own prepossessions.'
India has been fortunate in the men who have been deputed by England to be its Rulers. The great musterroll of Governors-General is a long and distinguished one. First in the roll comes Warren Hastings, who was GovernorGeneral for the long period of eleven years, and who has been described as the administrative organizer, as Clive had been the territorial founder, of our Indian Empire'. His career has been sufficiently dealt with in the earlier volume of this series that deals with the Company's Governors. It was during his régime that the Company came to the momentous decision that other than Company's servants should be placed in supreme control of affairs in India, a decision which did more than almost anything else to establish British rule in India ' broad-based upon the people's will’. And from his time onward, with the exception of Sir John Shore, who was indeed afterwards created a peer, all Governors-General were chosen from the highest ranks of England's nobility. There was a short interregnum of some twenty months after Warren Hastings, when Sir John Macpherson, a civil servant of the Company, acted as Governor-General. The Directors had wished to appoint Lord Macartney. He was visiting