Front Page Titles (by Subject) I: THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE BRITISH EMPIRE IN INDIA - Studies in History and Jurisprudence, vol. 1
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I: THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE BRITISH EMPIRE IN INDIA - Viscount James Bryce, Studies in History and Jurisprudence, vol. 1 
Studies in History and Jurisprudence (New York: Oxford University Press, 1901). 2 vols.
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THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE BRITISH EMPIRE IN INDIA
In several of the Essays contained in these volumes comparisons are instituted between Rome and England in points that touch the constitutions and the laws of these two great imperial States. This Essay is intended to compare them as conquering and ruling powers, acquiring and administering dominions outside the original dwelling-place of their peoples, and impressing upon these dominions their own type of civilization.
This comparison derives a special interest from a consideration of the position in which the world finds itself at the beginning of the twentieth century. The great civilized nations have spread themselves out so widely, and that with increasing rapidity during the last fifty years, as to have brought under their dominion or control nearly all the barbarous or semi-civilized races. Europe—that is to say the five or six races which we call the European branch of mankind—has annexed the rest of the earth, extinguishing some races, absorbing others, ruling others as subjects, and spreading over their native customs and beliefs a layer of European ideas which will sink deeper and deeper till the old native life dies out. Thus, while the face of the earth is being changed by the application of European science, so it seems likely that within a measurable time European forms of thought and ways of life will come to prevail everywhere, except possibly in China, whose vast population may enable her to resist these solvent influences for several generations, perhaps for several centuries. In this process whose agencies are migration, conquest, and commerce, England has led the way and has achieved the most. Russia however, as well as France and Germany, have annexed vast areas inhabited by backward races. Even the United States has, by occupying the Hawaiian and the Philippine Islands, entered, somewhat to her own surprise, on the same path. Thus a new sort of unity is being created among mankind. This unity is seen in the bringing of every part of the globe into close relations, both commercial and political, with every other part. It is seen in the establishment of a few ‘world languages’ as vehicles of communication between many peoples, vehicles which carry to them the treasures of literature and science which the four or five leading nations have gathered. It is seen in the diffusion of a civilization which is everywhere the same in its material aspects, and is tolerably uniform even on its intellectual side, since it teaches men to think on similar lines and to apply similar methods of scientific inquiry. The process has been going on for some centuries. In our own day it advances so swiftly that we can almost foresee the time when it will be complete. It is one of the great events in the history of the world.
Yet it is not altogether a new thing. A similar process went on in the ancient world from the time of Alexander the Macedonian to that of Alaric the Visigoth. The Greek type of civilization, and to some extent the Greek population also, spread out over the regions around the eastern Mediterranean and the Euxine. Presently the conquests of Rome brought all these regions, as well as the western countries as far as Caledonia, under one government. This produced a uniform type of civilization which was Greek on the side of thought, of literature, and of art, Roman on the side of law and institutions. Then came Christianity which, in giving to all these countries one religion and one standard of morality, created a still deeper sense of unity among them. Thus the ancient world, omitting the barbarous North and the semi-civilized heathen who dwelt beyond the Euphrates, became unified, the backward races having been raised, at least in the upper strata of their population, to the level of the more advanced. One government, one faith, and two languages, were making out of the mass of races and kingdoms that had existed before the Macedonian conquest, a single people who were at once a Nation and a World Nation.
The process was not quite complete when it was interrupted by the political dissolution of the Roman dominion, first through the immigrations of the Teutonic peoples from the north, then by the terrible strokes dealt at the already weakened empire by the Arab conquerors from the south-east. The results that had been attained were not wholly lost, for Europe clung to the Greco-Romano-Christian civilization, though in a lowered form and with a diminished sense of intellectual as well as of political unity. But that civilization was not able to extend itself further, save by slow degrees over the north and towards the north-east. Several centuries passed. Then, at first faintly from the twelfth century onwards, afterwards more swiftly from the middle of the fifteenth century, when the intellectual impulse given by the Renaissance began to be followed by the rapid march of geographical discovery along the coasts of Africa, in America, and in the further east, the process was resumed. We have watched its later stages with our own eyes. It embraces a far vaster field than did the earlier one, the field of the whole earth. As we watch it, we are naturally led to ask what light the earlier effort of Nature to gather men together under one type of civilization throws on this later one. As Rome was the principal agent in the earlier, so has England been in the later effort. England has sent her language, her commerce, her laws and institutions forth from herself over an even wider and more populous area than that whose races were moulded into new forms by the laws and institutions of Rome. The conditions are, as we shall see, in many respects different. Yet there is in the parallel enough to make it instructive for the present, and possibly significant for the future.
The dominions of England beyond the seas are, however, not merely too locally remote from one another, but also too diverse in their character to be compared as one whole with the dominions of Rome, which were contiguous in space, and were all governed on the same system. The Britannic Empire falls into three territorial groups, the self-governing colonies, the Crown colonies, and the Indian territories ruled by or dependent on the sovereign of Britain. Of these three groups, since they cannot be treated together, being ruled on altogether different principles, it is one group only that can usefully be selected for comparison with the Roman Empire. India contains that one group. She is fitter for our purpose than either of the other two groups, because the self-governing colonies are not subject territories administered from England, but new Englands planted far away beyond the oceans, reproducing, each in its own way, the features of the constitution and government of the old country, while the Crown colonies are so scattered and so widely diverse in the character of their inhabitants that they cannot profitably be dealt with as one body. Jamaica, Cyprus, Basutoland, Singapore, and Gibraltar, have little in common except their dependence on Downing Street. Neither set of colonies is sufficiently like the dominion of Rome to make it possible for us to draw parallels between them and it. India, however, is a single subject territory, and India is compact, governed on the same principles and by the same methods over an area not indeed as wide as that of the Roman Empire but more populous than the Roman Empire was in its palmiest days. British India (including Burma) covers about 965,000 square miles, and the protected States (including Kashmir, but not Nepal and Bhotan), about 600,000 square miles, making a total of (roughly) 1,565,000 square miles, with a population of nearly 290 millions. The area of the territories included in the Roman Empire at its greatest extent (when Dacia and the southern part of what is now Scotland belonged to it) may have been nearly 2,500,000 square miles. The population of that area is now, upon a very rough estimate, about 210 millions. What it was in ancient times we have no data even for guessing, but it must evidently have been much smaller, possibly not 100 millions, for although large regions, such as parts of Asia Minor and Tunisia, now almost deserted, were then filled by a dense industrial population, the increase in the inhabitants of France and England, for instance, has far more than compensated this decline.
The Spanish Empire in America as it stood in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was still vaster in area, as is the Russian Empire in Asia to-day. But the population of Spanish America was extremely small in comparison with that of the Roman Empire or that of India, and its organization much looser and less elaborate1 . Both the Spanish and the Russian Empires, however, furnish illustrations which we shall have occasion presently to note.
Of all the dominions which the ancient world saw, it is only that of Rome that can well be compared with any modern civilized State. The monarchies of the Assyrian and Egyptian conquerors, like those of the Seleucid kings and of the Sassanid dynasty in Persia, stood on a far lower level of culture and administrative efficiency than did the Roman. Neither was there in the Middle Ages any far stretching dominion fit to be matched with that of Rome, for the great Ommiad Khalifate and the Mogul monarchy in India were both of them mere aggregates of territories, not really unified by any administrative system, while the authority or suzerainty of the Chinese sovereigns over Turkistan, Mongolia, and Tibet presents even fewer points of resemblance. So when we wish to examine the methods and the results of British rule in India by the light of any other dominion exercised under conditions even remotely similar, it is to the Roman Empire of the centuries between Augustus and Honorius that we must go.
When one speaks of conditions even remotely similar one must frankly admit the existence of an obvious and salient point of contrast. Rome stood in the middle of her dominions, Britain stands, by the Red Sea route, six thousand miles from the nearest part of hers. She can reach them only by water, and she conquered them by troops which had been sent around the Cape over some thirteen thousand miles of ocean. Here there is indeed an unlikeness of the utmost significance. Yet, without minimizing the importance of the contrast, we must remember that Britain can communicate more quickly with the most distant part of her territories than Rome could with hers. It takes only twenty-two days to reach any part of British India (except Kashmir and Upper Assam) from London. But it took a nimble, or as Herodotus says, a ‘well girt traveller,’ perhaps forty days from Rome to reach Derr on the Nile, the last fortress in Nubia where Roman masonry can be seen, or Gori, at the foot of the Caucasus, also a Roman stronghold, or Old Kilpatrick (near Dumbarton) where the rampart of Antoninus touches the Clyde; not to add that the sea part of these journeys might be much longer if the winds were adverse. News could be carried not much faster than an official could travel, whereas Britain is, by the electric telegraph, in hourly communication with every part of India: and the difference in speed between the movement of an army and that of a traveller was, of course, greater in ancient times than it is now.
Thus, for the purposes both of war and of administration, England is better placed than Rome was as respects those outlying parts of the Roman Empire which were most exposed to attack. Dangers are more quickly known at head quarters; troops can reach the threatened frontier in a shorter time; errors in policy can be more adequately corrected, because explanations can be asked, and blundering officials can be more promptly dismissed. Nevertheless the remoteness of India has had results of the highest moment in making her relation to England far less close than was that of Rome to the provinces.
This point will be considered presently. Meantime our comparison may begin with the points in which the two Empires resemble and illustrate one another. The first of these turns upon the circumstances of their respective origins.
Empire is retained, says a famous maxim, by the same arts whereby it was won. Some Empires have been won easily. Spain acquired hers through the pertinacity and daring of a Genoese sailor. She had comparatively little fighting to do, for the only opponents she encountered, who added to valour some slight tincture of civilization, were the Mexicans.
Russia has met with practically no resistance in occupying her vast territories in Northern Asia; though she had some sharp tussles with the nomad Turkmans, and tedious conflicts both with Shamyl and with the Circassians in the Caucasus. But both Rome and England had to fight long and fight hard for what they won. The progress of Roman and British expansion illustrates the remark of Oliver Cromwell that no one goes so far as he who does not know whither he is going. Neither power set out with a purpose of conquest, such as Alexander the Great, and perhaps Cyrus, had planned and carried out before them. Just as Polybius, writing just after the destruction of Carthage in bc 146, already perceived that Rome was, by the strength of her government and the character of her people, destined to be the dominant power of the civilized world, so it was prophesied immediately after the first victories of Clive that the English would come to be the masters of all India. Each nation was drawn on by finding that one conquest led almost inevitably to another because restless border tribes had to be subdued, because formidable neighbours seemed to endanger the safety of subjugated but often discontented provinces, because allies inferior in strength passed gradually into the position first of dependants and then of subjects.
The Romans however, though they did not start out with the notion of conquering even Italy, much less the Mediterranean world, came to enjoy fighting for its own sake, and were content with slight pretexts for it. For several centuries they were always more or less at war somewhere. The English went to India as traders, with no intention of fighting anybody, and were led into the acquisition of territory partly in order to recoup themselves for the expensive efforts they had made to support their first allies, partly that they might get revenue for the East India Company’s shareholders, partly in order to counterwork the schemes of the French, who were at once their enemies in Europe and their rivals in the East. One may find a not too fanciful analogy to the policy of the English in the days of Clive, when they were drawn further and further into Indian conflicts by their efforts to check the enterprises of Dupleix and Lally, in the policy of the Romans when they entered Sicily to prevent Carthage from establishing her control over it. In both cases an effort which seemed self-protective led to a long series of wars and annexations.
Rome did not march so swiftly from conquest to conquest as did England. Not to speak of the two centuries during which she was making herself supreme in Italy, she began to conquer outside its limits from the opening of the First Punic War in bc 264, and did not acquire Egypt till bc 30, and South Britain till ad 43-851 . Her Eastern conquests were all the easier because Alexander the Great’s victories, and the wars waged by his successors, had broken up and denationalized the East, much as the Mogul conquerors afterwards paved the way for the English in India. England’s first territorial gains were won at Plassy in ad 17572 : her latest acquisition was the occupation of Mandalay in 1885. Her work was done in a century and a quarter, while that of Rome took fully three centuries. But England had two great advantages. Her antagonists were immeasurably inferior to her in arms as well as in discipline. As early as ad 1672 the great Leibnitz had in a letter to Lewis XIV pointed out the weakness of the Mogul Empire; and about the same time Bernier, a French physician resident at the Court of Aurungzeb, declared that 20,000 French troops under Condé or Turenne could conquer all India3 . A small European force, and even a small native force drilled and led by Europeans, was as capable of routing huge Asiatic armies as the army of Alexander had proved capable of overthrowing the immensely more numerous hosts of Darius Codomannus. Moreover, the moment when the English appeared on the scene was opportune. The splendid Empire of Akbar was crumbling to pieces. The Mahratta confederacy had attained great military power, but at the battle of Paniput, in 1761, it received from the Afghans under Ahmed Shah Durani a terrific blow which for the time arrested its conquests. Furthermore, India, as a whole, was divided into numerous principalities, the feeblest of which lay on the coasts of the Bay of Bengal. These principalities were frequently at war with one another, and glad to obtain European aid in their strife. And England had a third advantage in the fact that she encountered the weakest of her antagonists first. Had she, in those early days when her forces were slender, been opposed by the valour of Marathas or Sikhs, instead of by the feeble Bengalis and Madrassis, her ambitions might have been nipped in the bud. When she found herself confronted by these formidable foes she had already gained experience and had formed a strong native army. But when the Romans strove against the Achaean League and Macedon they had to fight troops all but equal to themselves. When Carthage was their antagonist, they found in Hamilcar a commander equal, in Hannibal a commander superior to any one they could send against him. These earlier struggles so trained Rome to victory that her later conquests were made more easily. The triumphs of the century before and the century after Julius Caesar were won either over Asiatics, who had discipline but seldom valour, or over Gauls, Iberians, Germans, and Caledonians, who had valour but not discipline. Occasional reverses were due to the imprudence of a general, or to an extreme disparity of forces; for, like the English, the Romans did not hesitate to meet greatly superior numbers. The defeat of Crassus by the Parthians and the catastrophe which befel Varus in the forests of Paderborn find a parallel in the disastrous retreat of the English army from Cabul in 1843. Except on such rare occasions the supremacy of Roman arms was never seriously challenged, nor was any great calamity suffered till the barbarian irruption into Italy in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. A still graver omen for the future was the overthrow of Valerian by the Persians in ad 260. The Persians were inferior in the arts of civilization and probably in discipline: but the composition of the Roman armies was no longer what it had been three centuries earlier, for the peasantry of Italy, which had formed the kernel of their strength, were no longer available. As the provincial subjects became less and less warlike, men from beyond the frontier were enrolled, latterly in bodies under their native chiefs—Germans, or Arabs, or, in still later days, Huns—just as the native army in British India, which has now become far more peaceful than it was a century ago, is recruited by Pathans and Ghurkas from the hills outside British territory as well as by the most warlike among the Indian subjects of the Crown. The danger of the practice is obvious. Rome was driven to it for want of Roman fighting-men1 . England guards against its risks by having a considerable force of British troops alongside her native army.
The fact that their dominions were acquired by force of arms exerted an enduring effect upon the Roman Empire and continues to exert it upon the British in imprinting upon their rule in India a permanently military character. The Roman administration began with this character, and never lost it, at least in the frontier provinces. The governors were pro-consuls or pro-praetors, or other officials, entrusted with the exercise of an authority in its origin military rather than civil. A governor’s first duty was to command the troops stationed in the province. The camps grew into towns, and that which had been a group of canabae or market stalls, a sort of bazaar for the service of the camp, sometimes became a municipality. One of the most efficient means of unifying the Empire was found in the bringing of soldiers born in one part of it to be quartered for many years together in another. Military distinction was open to every subject, and military distinction might lead to the imperial throne. So the English in India are primarily soldiers. True it is that they went to India three centuries ago as traders, that it was out of a trading company that their power arose, and that this trading company did not disappear till 1858. The covenanted civil service, to which Clive for instance belonged, began as a body of commercial clerks. Nothing sounds more pacific. But the men of the sword very soon began to eclipse the men of the quill and account book. Being in the majority, they do so still, although for forty years there have been none but petty frontier wars. Society is not in India, as it is in England, an ordinary civil society occupied with the works and arts of peace, with an extremely small military element. It is military society, military first and foremost, though with an infusion of civilian officials, and in some towns with a small infusion of lawyers and merchants, as well as a still smaller infusion of missionaries. Military questions occupy every one’s thoughts and talk. A great deal of administrative or diplomatic work is done, and often extremely well done, by officers in civil employment. Many of the railways are primarily strategic lines, as were the Roman roads. The railway stations are often placed, for military reasons, at a distance from the towns they serve: and the cantonments where the Europeans, civilians as well as soldiers, reside, usually built some way off from the native cities, have themselves, as happened in the Roman Empire, grown into regular towns. The traveller from peaceful England feels himself, except perhaps in Bombay, surrounded by an atmosphere of gunpowder all the time he stays in India.
Before we pass from the military aspects of the comparison let it be noted that both Empires have been favoured in their extension and their maintenance by the frontiers which Nature had provided. The Romans, when once they had conquered Numidia, Spain, and Gaul, had the ocean and nothing but the ocean (save for the insignificant exception of barbarous Mauretania) to the west and north-west of them, an awesome and untravelled ocean, from whose unknown further shore no enemy could appear. To the south they were defended by the equally impassable barrier of a torrid and waterless desert, stretching from the Nile to the Atlantic. It was only on the north and east that there were frontiers to be defended; and these two sides remained the quarters of danger, because no natural barrier, arresting the progress of armies or constituting a defensible frontier, could be found without pushing all the way to the Baltic in one direction or to the ranges of Southern Kurdistan, perhaps even to the deserts of Eastern Persia in the other. The north and the east ultimately destroyed Rome. The north sent in those Teutonic tribes which occupied the western provinces and at last Italy herself, and those Slavonic tribes which settled between the Danube, the Aegean, and the Adriatic, and permeated the older population of the Hellenic lands. Perhaps the Emperors would have done better for the Empire (whatever might have been the ultimate loss to mankind) if, instead of allowing themselves to be disheartened by the defeat of Varus, they had pushed their conquests all the way to the Baltic and the Vistula, and turned the peoples of North and Middle Germany into provincial Romans. The undertaking would not have been beyond the resources of the Empire in its vigorous prime, and would have been remunerative, if not in money, at any rate in the way of providing a supply of fighting-men for the army. So too the Emperors might possibly have saved much suffering to their Romanized subjects in South Britain had they followed up the expedition of Agricola and subdued the peoples of Caledonia and Ierne, who afterwards became disagreeable as Picts and Scots. The east was the home of the Parthians, of the Persians, so formidable to the Byzantine Emperors in the days of Kobad and Chosroes Anushirwan, and of the tribes which in the seventh and eighth centuries, fired by the enthusiasm of a new faith and by the prospect of booty, overthrew the Roman armies and turned Egypt, Syria, Africa, Spain, and ultimately the greater part of Asia Minor into Muhamadan kingdoms. Had Rome been menaced on the south and west as she was generally menaced on the east and sometimes on the north, her Empire could hardly have lived so long. Had she possessed a natural barrier on the east like that which the Sahara provided on the south she might have found it easy to resist, and not so very hard even to subjugate, the fighting races of the north.
Far more fortunate has been the position of the English in India. No other of the great countries of the world is protected by such a stupendous line of natural entrenchments as India possesses in the chain of the Himalayas from Attock and Peshawur in the west to the point where, in the far east, the Tsanpo emerges from Tibet to become in Upper Assam the Brahmaputra. Not only is this mountain mass the loftiest and most impassable to be found anywhere on our earth; it is backed by a wide stretch of high and barren country, so thinly peopled as to be incapable of constituting a menace to those who live in the plains south of the Himalayas. And in point of fact the relations, commercial as well as political, of India with Tibet, and with the Chinese who are suzerains of Tibet, have been, at least in historical times, extremely scanty. On the east, India is divided from the Indo-Chinese peoples, Talains, Burmese and Shans, by a belt of almost impenetrable hill and forest country: nor have these peoples ever been formidable neighbours. It is only at its northwestern angle, between Peshawur and Quetta (for south of Quetta as far as the Arabian Sea there are deserts behind the mountains and the Indus) that India is vulnerable. The rest of the country is protected by a wide ocean. Accordingly the masters of India have had only two sets of foes to fear; European maritime powers who may arrive by sea after a voyage which, until our own time, was a voyage of three or four months, and land powers who, coming from the side of Turkistan or Persia, may find their way, as did Alexander the Great and Nadir Shah, through difficult passes into the plains of the Punjab and Sindh. This singular natural isolation of India, as it facilitated the English conquest by preventing the native princes from forming alliances with or obtaining help from powers beyond the mountains or the sea, so has it also enabled the English to maintain their hold with an army extraordinarily small in proportion to the population of the country. The total strength of the Roman military establishment in the days of Trajan, was for an area of some two and a half millions of square miles and population of possibly one hundred millions, between 280,000 and 320,000 men. Probably four-fifths of this force was stationed on the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates. There were so few in most of the inner provinces that, as some one said, the nations wondered where were the troops that kept them in subjection.
The peace or ‘established’ strength of the British army in India is nearly 230,000 men, of whom about 156,000 are natives and 74,000 Englishmen. To these there may be added the so-called ‘active reserve’ of natives who have served with the colours, about 17,000 men, and about 30,000 European volunteers. Besides these there are of course the troops of the native princes, estimated at about 350,000 men, many of them, however, far from effective. But as these troops, though a source of strength while their masters are loyal, might under altered circumstances be conceivably a source of danger, they can hardly be reckoned as part of the total force disposable by the British Government. Recently, however, about 20,000 of them have been organized as special contingents of the British army, inspected and advised by British officers, and fit to take their place with regiments of the line.
It would obviously be impossible to defend such widely extended dominions by a force of only 230,000 or 250,000 men, but for the remoteness of all possibly dangerous assailants. The only formidable land neighbour is Russia, the nearest point of whose territories in the Pamirs is a good long way from the present British out-posts, with a very difficult country between. The next nearest is France on the Mekong River, some 200 miles from British Burma, though a shorter distance from Native States under British influence. As for sea powers, not only is Europe a long way off, but the navy of Britain holds the sea. It was by her command of the sea that Britain won India. Were she to cease to hold it, her position there would be insecure indeed.
In another respect also the sharp severance of India from all the surrounding countries may be deemed to have proved a benefit to the English. It has relieved them largely if not altogether from the temptation to go on perpetually extending their borders by annexing contiguous territory. When they had reached the natural boundaries of the Himalayas and the ranges of Afghanistan, they stopped. Beyond these lie rugged and unprofitable highlands, and still more unprofitable wildernesses. In two regions only was an advance possible: and in those two regions they have yielded to temptation. They have crossed the southern part of the Soliman mountains into Baluchistan in search for a more ‘scientific’ frontier, halting for the present on the Amram range, north-west of Quetta, where from the Khojak heights the eye, ranging over a dark-brown arid plain, descries seventy miles away the rocks that hang over Kandahar. They moved on from Arakhan and Tenasserim into Lower Burma, whence in 1885 they conquered Upper Burma and proclaimed their suzerainty over some of the Shan principalities lying further to the east. But for the presence of France in these regions, which makes them desire to keep Siam in existence as a so-called ‘Buffer State,’ manifest destiny might probably lead them ultimately eastward across the Menam and Mekong to Annam and Cochin China.
The Romans too sought for a scientific frontier, and hesitated often as to the line they should select, sometimes pushing boldly eastward beyond the Rhine and the Euphrates, sometimes receding to those rivers. Not till the time of Hadrian did they create a regular system of frontier defence, strengthened at many points by fortifications, among which the forts that lie along the Roman Wall from the Tyne to the Solway are perhaps the best preserved. So the English wavered for a time between the line of the Indus and that of the Soliman range; so in the wild mountain region beyond Kashmir they have, within the last few years, alternately occupied and retired from the remote outpost of Chitral. It has been their good fortune to have been obliged to fortify a comparatively small number of points, and all of these are on the north-west frontier.
There have been those who would urge them to occupy Afghanistan and entrench themselves therein to resist a possible Russian invasion. But for the present wiser counsels have prevailed. Afghanistan is a more effective barrier in the hands of its own fierce tribes than it would be as a part of British territory. A parallel may be drawn between the part it has played of late years and that which Armenia played in the ancient world from the days of Augustus to those of Heraclius. Both countries had been the seats of short-lived Empires, Armenia in the days of Tigranes, Afghanistan in those of Ahmed Shah. Both are wild and rugged regions, the dwelling-places of warlike races. Christian Armenia was hostile from religious sentiment to the enemies whom Rome had to fear, the Persian Fire-worshippers. Musulman Afghanistan dreads the power of Christian Russia. But the loyalty or friendship of the Armenian princes was not always proof against the threats of the formidable Sassanids, and the action of the Afghans is an element of uncertainty and anxiety to the British rulers of India.
To make forces so small as those on which Rome relied and those which now defend British India adequate for the work they have to do, good means of communication are indispensable. It was one of the first tasks of the Romans to establish such means. They were the great—indeed one may say, the only—road builders of antiquity. They began this policy before they had completed the conquest of Italy; and it was one of the devices which assured their supremacy throughout the peninsula. They followed it out in Gaul, Spain, Africa, Britain, and the East, doing their work so thoroughly that in Britain some of the roads continued to be the chief avenues of travel down till the eighteenth century. So the English have been in India a great engineering people, constructing lines of communication, first roads and afterwards railways, on a scale of expenditure unknown to earlier ages. The potentates of elder days, Hindu rajahs, and subsequently Pathans and Moguls, with other less famous Musulman dynasties, have left their memorials in temples and mosques, in palaces and tombs. The English are commemorating their sway by railway works, by tunnels and cuttings, by embankments and bridges. If India were to relapse into barbarism the bridges, being mostly of iron, would after a while perish, and the embankments would in time be swept away by torrential rains, but the rock-cuttings and the tunnels would remain, as the indestructible paving-stones of the Roman roads, and majestic bridges, like the Pont du Gard in Languedoc, remain to witness to the skill and thoroughness with which a great race did its work.
The opening up of India by railroads suggests not a few interesting questions which, however, I can do no more than indicate here. Railroad construction has imposed upon the Indian exchequer a strain all the heavier because some lines, especially those on the north-west frontier, having been undertaken from strategic rather than commercial motives, will yield no revenue at all proportionate to their cost. It has been suggested that although railroads were meant to benefit the peasantry, they may possibly have increased the risk of famine, since they induce the producer to export the grain which was formerly locally stored up in good years to meet the scarcity of bad years. The comparative quickness with which food can be carried by rail into a famine area does not—so it is argued—compensate for the loss of these domestic reserves. Railways, bringing the numerous races that inhabit India into a closer touch with one another than was possible before, are breaking down, slowly but surely, the demarcations of caste, and are tending towards an assimilation of the jarring elements, racial and linguistic, as well as religious, which have divided India into a number of distinct, and in many cases hostile, groups. Centuries may elapse before this assimilation can become a source of political danger to the rulers of the country: yet we discern the beginnings of the process now, especially in the more educated class. The Roman roads, being highways of commerce as well as of war, contributed powerfully to draw together the peoples whom Rome ruled into one imperial nationality. But this was a process which, as we shall presently note, was for Rome an unmixed gain, since it strengthened the cohesion of an Empire whose inhabitants had every motive for loyalty to the imperial Government, if not always to the particular sovereign. The best efforts of Britain may not succeed in obtaining a similar attachment from her Indian subjects, and their union into a body animated by one national sentiment might become an element of danger against which she has never yet been required to take precautions.
The excellence of the highways of communication provided by the wise energy of the Romans and of the English has contributed not only to the easier defence of the frontiers of both Empires, but also to the maintenance of a wonderfully high standard of internal peace and order. Let any one think of the general state of the ancient world before the conquests of Rome, and let him then think of the condition not merely of India after the death of the Emperor Aurungzeb, but of the chief European countries as they stood in the seventeenth century, if he wishes to appreciate what Rome did for her subjects, or what England has done in India. In some parts of Europe private war still went on two hundred and fifty years ago. Almost everywhere robber bands made travelling dangerous and levied tribute upon the peasantry. Even in the eighteenth century, and even within our own islands, Rob Roy raided the farmers of Lennox, and landlords in Connaught fought pitched battles with one another at the head of their retainers. Even a century ago the coasts of the Mediterranean were ravaged by Barbary pirates, and brigandage reigned unchecked through large districts of Italy. But in the best days of the Roman Empire piracy was unknown; the peasantry were exempt from all exactions except those of the tax-gatherer; and the great roads were practically safe for travellers. Southern and western Europe, taken as a whole, would seem to have enjoyed better order under Hadrian and the Antonines than was enjoyed again until nearly our own times. This was the more remarkable because the existence of slavery must have let loose upon society, in the form of runaway slaves, a good many dangerous characters. Moreover, there remained some mountainous regions where the tribes had been left practically to themselves under their own rude customs. These enclaves of barbarism within civilized territory, such as was Albania, in the central mountain knot of which no traces of Roman building have been found, and the Isaurian country in Asia Minor, and possibly the Cantabrian land on the borders of southwestern Gaul and northern Spain, where the Basque tongue still survives, do not appear to have seriously interfered with the peace and well-being of the settled population which dwelt around them, probably because the mountaineers knew that it was only by good behaviour that they could obtain permission to enjoy the measure of independence that had been left to them. The parts of provincial Africa which lay near the desert were less orderly, because it was not easy to get behind the wild tribes who had the Sahara at their back.
The internal peace of the Roman Empire was, however, less perfect than that which has been established within the last sixty years in India. Nothing surprises the visitor from Europe so much as the absolute confidence with which he finds himself travelling unprotected across this vast country, through mountains and jungles, among half savage tribes whose languages he does not know, and that without seeing, save at rare intervals, any sign of European administration. Nor is this confined to British India. It is almost the same in Native States. Even along the lofty forest and mountain frontier that separates the native (protected) principality of Sikkim from Nepal—the only really independent Indian State—an Englishman may journey unarmed and alone, except for a couple of native attendants, for a week or more. When he asks his friends at Darjiling, before he starts, whether he ought to take a revolver with him, they smile at the question. There is not so complete a security for native travellers, especially in Native States, for here and there bands of brigands called Dacoits infest the tracks, and rob, sometimes the wayfarer, sometimes the peasant, escaping into the recesses of the jungle when the police are after them. But dacoity, though it occasionally breaks out afresh in a few districts, has become much less frequent than formerly. The practice of Thuggi which seventy years ago still caused many murders, has been extirpated by the unceasing energy of British officers. Crimes of violence show a percentage to the population which appears small when one considers how many wild tribes remain. The native of course suffers from violence more frequently than does the European, whose prestige of race, backed by the belief that punishment will surely follow on any injury done to him, keeps him safe in the wildest districts1 .
I have referred to the enclaves within the area of the Roman Empire where rude peoples were allowed to live after their own fashion so long as they did not disturb the peace of their more civilized neighbours. One finds the Indian parallel to these districts, not so much in the Native States, for these are often as advanced in the arts of life, and, in a very few instances, almost as well administered, as British territory, but rather in the hill tribes, which in parts of central, of north-western, and of southern India, have retained their savage or semi-savage customs, under their own chiefs, within the provinces directly subject to the Crown. These tribes, as did the Albanians and Basques, cleave to their primitive languages, and cleave also to their primitive forms of ghost-worship or nature-worship, though Hinduism is beginning to lay upon them its tenacious grasp. Of one another’s lives and property they are not very careful. But they are awed by the European and leave him unmolested.
The success of the British, like that of the Roman administration in securing peace and good order, has been due, not merely to a sense of the interest which a government has in maintaining conditions which, because favourable to industry are favourable also to revenue, but also to the high ideal of the duties of a ruler which both nations have set before themselves. Earlier Empires, like those of the Persian Achaemenids or of the successors of Alexander, had been content to tax their subjects and raise armies from them. No monarch, except perhaps some of the Ptolemies in Egypt, seems to have set himself to establish a system from which his subjects would benefit. Rome, with larger and higher views, gave to those whom she conquered some compensations in better administration for the national independence she extinguished. Her ideals rose as she acquired experience, and as she came to feel the magnificence of her position. Even under the Republic attempts were made to check abuses of power on the part of provincial governors. The proceedings against Verres, which we know so well because Cicero’s speeches against that miscreant have been preserved, are an instance of steps taken in the interests of a province whose discontent was so little likely to harm Rome that no urgent political necessity prescribed them. Those proceedings showed how defective was the machinery for controlling or punishing a provincial governor; and it is clear enough that a great deal of extortion and misfeasance went on under proconsuls and propraetors in the later days of the Republic, to the enrichment, not only of those functionaries, but of the hungry swarm who followed them, including men who, like the poet Catullus, were made for better things1 . With the establishment of a monarchy administration improved. The Emperor had a more definite responsibility for securing the welfare and contentment of the provinces than had been felt by the Senate or the jurors of the Republic, swayed by party interest or passion, not to speak of more sordid motives. He was, moreover, able to give effect to his wishes more promptly and more effectively. He could try an incriminated official in the way he thought best, and mete out appropriate punishment. It may indeed be said that the best proof of the incompetence of the Republican system for the task of governing the world, and of the need for the concentration of powers in a single hand, is to be found in the scandals of provincial administration, scandals which, so far as we can judge, could not have been remedied without a complete change either in the tone and temper of the ruling class at Rome, or in the ancient constitution itself.
On this point the parallel with the English in India is interesting, dissimilar as the circumstances were. The English administration began with extortions and corruptions. Officials were often rapacious, sometimes unjust, in their dealings with the native princes. But the statesmen and the public opinion of England, even in the latter half of the eighteenth century, had higher standards than those of Rome in the days of Sulla and Cicero, while the machinery which the House of Commons provided for dealing with powerful offenders was more effective than the Roman method of judicial proceedings before tribunals which could be, and frequently were, bribed. The first outbreak of greed and corruption in Bengal was dealt with by the strong hand of Clive in 1765. It made so great an impression at home as to give rise to a provision in a statute of 1773, making offences against the provisions of that Act or against the natives of India, punishable by the Court of King’s Bench in England. By Pitt’s Act of 1784, a Special Court, consisting of three judges, four peers, and six members of the House of Commons, was created for the trial in England of offences committed in India. This singular tribunal, which has been compared with the quaestio perpetua (de pecuniis repetundis) of Senators created by a Roman statute of bc 149 to try offences committed by Roman officials against provincials, has never acted, or even been summoned1 . Soon after it came the famous trial which is more familiar to Englishmen than any other event in the earlier relations of England and India. The impeachment of Warren Hastings has often been compared with the trial of Verres, though Hastings was not only a far more capable, but a far less culpable man. Hastings, like Verres, was not punished. But the proceedings against him so fixed the attention of the nation upon the administration of India as to secure for wholesome principles of conduct a recognition which was never thereafter forgotten. The Act of 1784 in establishing a Board of Control responsible to Parliament found a means both for supervising the behaviour of officials and for taking the large political questions which arose in India out of the hands of the East India Company. This Board continued till India was placed under the direct sway of the British Crown in 1858. At the same time the appointment of Governors-General who were mostly men of wealth, and always men of rank and position at home, provided a safeguard against such misconduct as the proconsuls under the Roman Republic had been prone to commit. These latter had little to fear from prosecution when their term of office was over, and the opinion of their class was not shocked by offences which would have fatally discredited an English nobleman. The standard by which English public opinion judges the behaviour of Indian or Colonial officials has, on the whole, risen during the nineteenth century; and the idea that the government of subject-races is to be regarded as a trust to be discharged with a sense of responsibility to God and to humanity at large has become generally accepted. Probably the action of the Emperors, or at least of such men as Trajan and his three successors, raised the standard of opinion in the Roman Empire also. It was, however, not so much to that opinion as to their sovereign master that Roman officials were responsible. The general principles of policy which guided the Emperors were sound, but how far they were applied to check corruption or oppression in each particular case is a matter on which we are imperfectly informed. Under an indolent or vicious Emperor, a governor who had influence at Court, or who remitted the full tribute punctually, may probably have sinned with impunity.
The government of India by the English resembles that of her provinces by Rome in being thoroughly despotic. In both cases, whatever may have been done for the people, nothing was or is done by the people. There was under Rome, and there is in British India, no room for popular initiative, or for popular interference with the acts of the rulers, from the Viceroy down to a district official. For wrongs cognizable by the courts of law, the courts of law were and are open, doubtless more fully open in India than they were in the Roman Empire. But for errors in policy or for defects in the law itself, the people of a province had no remedy available in the Roman Empire except through petition to the sovereign. Neither is there now in India any recourse open to the inhabitants except an appeal to the Crown or to Parliament, a Parliament in which the Indian subjects of the Crown have not been, and cannot be, represented. This was, and is, by the nature of the case, inevitable.
In comparing the governmental systems of the two Empires, it is hardly necessary to advert to such differences as the fact that India is placed under a Viceroy to whom all the other high functionaries, Governors, Lieutenant-Governors and Chief Commissioners, are subordinated, whereas, in the Roman world every provincial governor stood directly under the Emperor. Neither need one dwell upon the position in the English system of the Secretary of State for India in Council as a member of the British Cabinet. Such details do not affect the main point to which I now come.
The territories conquered by the Romans were of three kinds. Some, such as Egypt, Macedonia, and Pontus, had been, under their own princes, monarchies practically despotic. In these, of course, there could be no question of what we call popular government. Some had been tribal principalities, monarchic or oligarchic, such as those among the Iceni and Brigantes in Britain, the Arverni in Gaul, the Cantabrian mountaineers in Spain. Here, again, free institutions had not existed before, and could hardly have been created by the conqueror. The third kind consisted of small commonwealths, such as the Greek cities. These were fitted for self-government, which indeed they had enjoyed before they were subjected by Rome. Very wisely, municipal self-government was to a large extent left to them by the Emperors down till the time of Justinian. It was more complete in some cities than in others; and it was in nearly all gradually reduced by the equalizing pressure of the central authority. But they were all placed under the governor of the province; most of them paid taxes, and in most both the criminal and the higher civil jurisdiction were in the hands of imperial officials. Of the introduction of any free institutions for the empire at large, or even for any province as a whole, there seems never to have been any question. Among the many constitutional inventions we owe to the ancient world representative government finds no place. A generation before the fall of the Republic, Rome had missed her opportunity when the creation of such a system was most needed and might have been most useful. After her struggle against the league of her Italian allies, she consented to admit them to vote in her own city tribes, instead of taking what seems to us moderns the obvious expedient of allowing them to send delegates to an assembly which should meet in Rome. So it befell that monarchy and a city republic or confederation of such republics remained the only political forms known to antiquity1 .
India is ruled despotically by the English, not merely because they found her so ruled, but because they conceive that no other sort of government would suit a vast population of different races and tongues, divided by the religious animosities of Hindus and Musulmans, and with no sort of experience of self-government on a scale larger than that of the Village Council. No more in India than in the Roman Empire has there been any question of establishing free institutions either for the country as a whole, or for any particular province. But the English, like the Romans, have permitted such self-government as they found to subsist. It subsists only in the very rudimentary but very useful form of the Village Council just referred to, called in some parts of India the Panchayet or body of five. Of late years municipal constitutions, resembling at a distance those of English boroughs, have been given to some of the larger cities as a sort of experiment, for the sake of training the people to a sense of public duty, and of relieving the provincial government of local duties. So far the experiment has in most cities been only a moderate success. The truth is that, though a few intelligent men, educated in European ideas, complain of the despotic power of the Anglo-Indian bureaucracy, the people of India generally do not wish to govern themselves. Their traditions, their habits, their ideas, are all the other way, and dispose them to accept submissively any rule which is strong and which neither disturbs their religion and customs nor lays too heavy imposts upon them.
Here let an interesting contrast be noted. The Roman Emperors were despots at home in Italy, almost as much, and ultimately quite as much, as in the provinces. The English govern their own country on democratic, India on absolutist principles. The inconsistency is patent but inevitable. It affords an easy theme for declamation when any arbitrary act of the Indian administration gives rise to complaints, and it may fairly be used as the foundation for an argument that a people which enjoys freedom at home is specially bound to deal justly and considerately with those subjects to whom she refuses a like freedom. But every one admits in his heart that it is impossible to ignore the differences which make one group of races unfit for the institutions which have given energy and contentment to another more favourably placed.
A similar inconsistency presses on the people of the United States in the Philippine Isles. It is a more obtrusive inconsistency because it has come more abruptly, because it has come, not by the operation of a long series of historical causes, but by the sudden and little considered action of the American Republic itself, and because the American Republic has proclaimed, far more loudly and clearly than the English have ever done, the principle contained in the Declaration of Independence that the consent of the governed is the only foundation of all just government. The Americans will doubtless in time either reconcile themselves to their illogical position or alter it. But for the present it gives to thoughtful men among them visions of mocking spirits, which the clergy are summoned to exorcize by dwelling upon the benefits which the diffusion of a pure faith and a commercial civilization will confer upon the lazy and superstitious inhabitants of these tropical isles.
Subject to the general principle that the power of the Emperor was everywhere supreme and absolute, the Romans recognized, at least in the earlier days of the Empire, considerable differences between the methods of administering various provinces. A distinction was drawn between the provinces of the Roman people, to which proconsuls or propraetors were sent, and the provinces of Caesar, placed under the more direct control of the Emperor, and administered in his name by an official called the praeses or legatus Caesaris, or sometimes (as was the case in Judaea, at the time when it was ruled by Pontius Pilate) by a procurator, an officer primarily financial, but often entrusted with the powers of a praeses. Egypt received special treatment because the population was turbulent and liable to outbursts of religious passion, and because it was important to keep a great cornfield of the Empire in good humour. These distinctions between one province and another tended to vanish as the administrative system of the whole Empire grew better settled and the old republican forms were forgotten. Still there were always marked differences between Britain, for instance, at the one end of the realm and Syria at the other. So there were all sorts of varieties in the treatment of cities and tribes which had never been conquered, but passed peaceably through alliance into subjection. Some of the Hellenic cities retained their republican institutions till far down in imperial times. Distinctions not indeed similar, yet analogous, have existed between the different parts of British India. There is the old distribution of provinces into Regulation and Non-Regulation. The name ‘Province,’ one may observe in passing, a name unknown elsewhere in the dominions of Britain1 (though a recent and vulgar usage sometimes applies it to the parts of England outside of London) except as a relic of French dominion in Canada, bears witness to an authority which began, as in Canada, through conquest. Though the names of Regulation and Non-Regulation provinces are now no longer used, a distinction remains between the districts to the higher posts in which none but members of the covenanted service are appointed, and those in which the Government have a wider range of choice, and also between those districts for which the Governor-General can make ordinances in his executive capacity, and those which are legislated for by him in Council in the ordinary way. There are also many differences in the administrative systems of the different Presidencies and other territories, besides of course all imaginable diversities in the amount of independence left to the different ‘Protected States,’ some of which are powerful kingdoms, like Hyderabad, while many, as for instance in Gujarat, are petty principalities of two or three dozen square miles.
The mention of these protected States suggests another point of comparison. Rome brought many principalities or kingdoms under her influence, especially in the eastern parts of the Empire; and dealt with each upon the basis of the treaty by which her supremacy had been acknowledged, allowing to some a wider, to some a narrower measure of autonomy2 . Ultimately, however, all these, except a few on the frontiers, passed under her direct sway: and this frequently happened in cases where the native dynasty had died out, so that the title lapsed to the Emperor. The Iceni in Britain seem to have been such a protected State, and it was the failure of male heirs that caused a lapse. So the Indian Government was wont, when the ruling family became extinct or hopelessly incompetent, to annex to the dominions of the British Crown the principality it had ruled. From the days of Lord Canning, however, a new policy has been adopted. It is now deemed better to maintain the native dynasties whenever this can be done, so a childless prince is suffered to adopt, or provide for the adoption of, some person approved by the Government; and the descendants of this person are recognized as rulers1 . The incoming prince feels that he owes his power to the British Government, while adoption gives him a title in the eyes of his subjects.
The differences I have mentioned between the British provinces are important, not only as respects administration, but as respects the system of landholding. All over India, as in many other Oriental countries, it is from the land that a large part of revenue, whether one calls it rent or land tax, is derived. In some provinces the rent is paid direct to the Government by the cultivator, in others it goes to intermediary landlords, who in their turn are responsible to the State. In some provinces it has been permanently fixed, by what is called a Land-settlement2 , and not always on the same principles. The subject is far too large and intricate to be pursued here. I mention it because in the Roman Empire also land revenue was the mainstay of the imperial treasury. Where territory had been taken in war, the fact of conquest was deemed to have made the Roman people ultimate owners of the land so acquired, and the cultivators became liable to pay what we should call rent for it. In some provinces this rent was farmed out to contractors called publicani, who offered to the State the sum equivalent to the rent of the area contracted for, minus the expense of collection and their own profit on the undertaking, and kept for themselves whatever they could extract from the peasantry. This vicious system, resembling that of the tithe farmers in Ireland seventy years ago, was regulated by Nero and abolished by Hadrian, who placed the imperial procurator in charge of the land revenue except as regarded the forests and the mines. It exists to-day in the Ottoman Empire. Convenient for the State as it seems, it is wasteful, and naturally exposes the peasant, as is conspicuously the case in Asiatic Turkey, to oppressions perhaps even harder to check than are those of State officials. When the English came to India they found it in force there; and the present landlord class in Bengal, called Zemindars, are the representatives of the rent or land tax-farmers under the native princes who were, perhaps unwisely, recognized as landowners by the British a century ago. This kind of tax-farming is, however, no longer practised in India, a merit to be credited to the English when we are comparing them with the Romans of the Republic and the earlier Empire.
Where the revenue of the State comes from the land, the State is obliged to keep a watchful eye upon the condition of agriculture, since revenue must needs decline when agriculture is depressed. There was not in the Roman world, and there is not in India now, any question of agricultural depression arising from foreign competition, for no grain came into the Empire from outside, or comes now into India1 . But a year of drought, or, in a long course of years, the exhaustion of the soil, tells heavily on the agriculturist, and may render him unable to pay his rent or land tax. In bad years it was the practice of the more indulgent Emperors to remit a part of the tax for the year: and one of the complaints most frequently made against harsh sovereigns, or extravagant ones like Justinian, was that they refused to concede such remissions. A similar indulgence has to be and is granted in India in like cases.
Finance was the standing difficulty of the Roman as it is of the Anglo-Indian administrator. Indeed, the Roman Empire may be said to have perished from want of revenue. Heavy taxation, and possibly the exhaustion of the soil, led to the abandonment of farms, reducing the rent derivable from the land. The terrible plague of the second century brought down population, and was followed by a famine. The eastern provinces had never furnished good fighting material: and the diminution of the agricultural population of Italy, due partly to this cause, partly to the growth of large estates worked by slave labour, made it necessary to recruit the armies from the barbarians on the frontiers. Even in the later days of the Republic the native auxiliaries were beginning to be an important part of a Roman army. Moreover, with a declining revenue, a military establishment such as was needed to defend the eastern and the northern frontiers could not always be maintained. The Romans had no means of drawing a revenue from frontier customs, because there was very little import trade; but dues were levied at ports and there was a succession tax, which usually stood at five per cent. In most provinces there were few large fortunes on which an income or property tax could have been levied, except those of persons who were already paying up to their capacities as being responsible for the land tax assessed upon their districts. The salt tax was felt so sorely by the poor that Aurelian was hailed as a benefactor when he abolished it.
India has for many years past been, if not in financial straits, yet painfully near the limit of her taxable resources. There too the salt tax presses hard upon the peasant; and the number of fortunes from which much can be extracted by an income or property tax is, relatively to the population, very small. Comparing her total wealth with her population, India is a poor country, probably poorer than was the Roman Empire in the time of Constantine1 . A heavy burden lies upon her in respect of the salaries of the upper branches of the Civil Service, which must of course be fixed at figures sufficient to attract a high order of talent from England, and a still heavier one in respect of military charges. On the other hand, she has the advantage of being able, when the guarantee of the British Government is given for the loan, to borrow money for railways and other public works, at a rate of interest very low as compared with what the best Native State would be obliged to offer, or as compared with that which the Roman Government paid.
Under the Republic, Rome levied tribute from the provinces, and spent some of it on herself, though of course the larger part went to the general expenses of the military and civil administration. Under the Emperors that which was spent in Rome became gradually less and less, as the Emperor became more and more detached from the imperial city, and after Diocletian, Italy was treated as a province. England, like Spain in the days of her American Empire and like Holland now, for a time drew from her Indian conquests a substantial revenue. An inquiry made in 1773 showed that, since 1765, about two millions a year had been paid by the Company to the British exchequer. By 1773, however, the Company had incurred such heavy debts that the exchequer had to lend them money: and since that time Britain has drawn no tribute from India. She profits by her dominion only in respect of having an enormous market for her goods, industrial or commercial enterprises offering comparatively safe investments for her capital, and a field where her sons can make a career. Apart from any considerations of justice or of sentiment, India could not afford to make any substantial contribution to the expenses of the non-Indian dominions of the Crown. It is all she can do to pay her own way.
Those whom Rome sent out to govern the provinces were, in the days of the Republic and in the days of Augustus, Romans, that is to say Roman citizens and natives of Italy. Very soon, however, citizens born in the provinces began to be admitted to the great offices and to be selected by the Emperor for high employment. As early as the time of Nero, an Aquitanian chief, Julius Vindex, was legate of the great province of Gallia Lugdunensis. When the imperial throne itself was filled by provincials, as was often the case from Trajan onwards, it was plain that the pre-eminence of Italy was gone. If a man, otherwise eligible, was not a full Roman citizen, the Emperor forthwith made him one. By the time of the Antonines (ad 138-180) there was practically no distinction between a Roman and a provincial citizen; and we may safely assume that the large majority of important posts, both military and civil, were held by men of provincial extraction. Indeed merit probably won its way faster to military than to civil distinction, for in governments which are militant as well as military, promotion by merit is essential to the success of the national arms, and the soldier identifies himself with the power he serves even faster than does the civilian. So, long before full citizenship was granted to the whole Roman world (about ad 217), it is clear that not only the lower posts in which provincials had always been employed, but the highest also were freely open to all subjects. A Gaul might be sent to govern Cilicia, or a Thracian Britain, because both were now Romans rather than Gauls or Thracians. The fact that Latin and Greek were practically familiar to nearly all highly educated civil servants, because Latin was the language of law as well as the tongue commonly spoken in the West, while Greek was the language of philosophy and (to a great extent) of letters, besides being the spoken tongue of most parts of the East, made a well-educated man fit for public employment everywhere, for he was not (except perhaps in Syria and Egypt and a few odd corners of the Empire) obliged to learn any fresh language. And a provincial was just as likely as an Italian to be highly educated. Thus the officials could easily get into touch with the subjects, and felt hardly more strange if they came from a distance than a Scotchman feels if he is appointed to a professorship in Quebec, or an Irishman if he becomes postmaster in a Norfolk village. Nothing contributed more powerfully to the unity and the strength of the Roman dominion than this sense of an imperial nationality.
The English in India have, as did the Romans, always employed the natives in subordinate posts. The enormous majority of persons who carry on the civil administration there at this moment are Asiatics. But the English, unlike the Romans, have continued to reserve the higher posts for men of European stock. The contrast in this respect between the Roman and the English policy is instructive, and goes down to the foundation of the differences between English and Roman rule. As we have seen, the City of Rome became the Empire, and the Empire became Rome. National independence was not regretted, for the East had been denationalized before the Italian conqueror appeared, and the tribes of the West, even those who fought best for freedom, had not reached a genuine national life when Spain, Gaul, and Britain were brought under the yoke. In the third century ad a Gaul, a Spaniard, a Pannonian, a Bithynian, a Syrian called himself a Roman, and for all practical purposes was a Roman. The interests of the Empire were his interests, its glory his glory, almost as much as if he had been born in the shadow of the Capitol. There was, therefore, no reason why his loyalty should not be trusted, no reason why he should not be chosen to lead in war, or govern in peace, men of Italian birth. So, too, the qualities which make a man capable of leading in war or administering in peace were just as likely to be found in a Gaul, or a Spaniard, or a German from the Rhine frontier as in an Italian. In fact, men of Italian birth play no great part in later imperial history1 .
It is far otherwise in India, though there was among the races of India no nation. The Englishman does not become an Indian, nor the Indian an Englishman. The Indian does not as a rule, though of course there have been not a few remarkable exceptions to the rule, possess the qualities which the English deem to be needed for leadership in war or for the higher posts of administration in peace2 . For several reasons, reasons to be referred to later, he can seldom be expected to feel like an Englishman, and to have the same devotion to the interests of England which may be counted on in an Englishman. Accordingly the English have made in India arrangements to which there was nothing similar in the Roman Empire. They have two armies, a native and a European, the latter of which is never suffered to fall below a certain ratio to the former. The latter is composed entirely of Englishmen. In the former all military posts in line regiments above that of subahdar (equivalent to captain) are reserved to Englishmen1 . The artillery and engineer services are kept in English hands, i.e. there is hardly any native artillery. It is only, therefore, in the native contingents already referred to that natives are found in the higher grades. These contingents may be compared with the auxiliary barbarian troops under non-Roman commanders whom we find in the later ages of Rome, after Constantine. Such commanders proved sometimes, like the Vandal Stilicho, energetic defenders of the imperial throne, sometimes, like the Suevian Ricimer, formidable menaces to it2 . But apart from these, the Romans had but one army; and it was an army in which all subjects had an equal chance of rising.
In a civil career, the native of India may go higher under the English than he can in a military one. A few natives, mostly Hindus, and indeed largely Bengali Hindus, have won their way into the civil service by passing the competitive Indian Civil Service examination in England, and some of these have risen to the posts of magistrate and district judge. A fair proportion of the seats on the benches of the Supreme Courts in Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Allahabad, and Lahore have been allotted to native barristers of eminence, several of whom have shown themselves equal in point of knowledge and capacity, as well as in integrity, to the best judges selected from the European bar in India or sent out from the English bar. No native, however, has ever been thought of for the great places, such as those of Lieutenant-Governor or Chief Commissioner, although all British subjects are legally eligible for any post in the service of the Crown in any part of the British Dominions.
Regarding the policy of this exclusion there has been much difference of opinion. As a rule, Anglo-Indian officials approve the course which I have described as that actually taken. But I know some who think that there are natives of ability and force of character such as to fit them for posts military as well as civil, higher than any to which a native has yet been advanced, and who sees advantages in selecting a few for such posts. They hold, however, that such natives ought to be selected for civil appointments, not by competitive examination in England but in India itself by those who rule there, and in respect of personal merits tested by service. Some opposition to such a method might be expected from members of the regular civil service, who would consider their prospects of promotion to be thereby prejudiced.
Here we touch an extremely interesting point of comparison between the Roman and the English systems. Both nations, when they started on their career of conquest, had already built up at home elaborate constitutional systems in which the rights of citizens, both public and private civil rights, had been carefully settled and determined. What was the working of these rights in the conquered territories? How far were they extended by the conquerors, Roman and English, and with what results?
Rome set out from the usual practice of the city republics of the ancient world. No man enjoyed any rights at all, public or private, except a citizen of the Republic. A stranger coming to reside in the city did not, no matter how long he lived there, nor did his son or grandson, obtain those rights unless he was specially admitted to become a citizen. From this principle Rome, as she grew, presently found herself obliged to deviate. She admitted one set of neighbours after another, sometimes as allies, sometimes in later days, as conquered and incorporated communities, to a citizenship which was sometimes incomplete, including only private civil rights, sometimes complete, including the right of voting in the assembly and the right of being chosen to a public office. Before the dictatorship of Julius Caesar practically all Italians, except the people of Cisalpine Gaul, which remained a province till bc 43, had been admitted to civic rights. Citizenship, complete or partial (i.e. including or not including public rights) had also begun to be conferred on a certain number of cities or individuals outside Italy. Tarsus in Cilicia, of which St. Paul was a native, enjoyed it, so he was born a Roman citizen. This process of enlarging citizenship went on with accelerated speed, in and after the days of the Flavian Emperors. Under Hadrian, the whole of Spain seems to have enjoyed civic rights. Long before this date the ancient right of voting in the Roman popular Assembly had become useless, but the other advantages attached to the status of citizen were worth having, for they secured valuable immunities. Finally, early in the third century ad, every Roman subject was by imperial edict made a citizen for all purposes whatsoever. Universal eligibility to office had, as we have seen, gone ahead of this extension, for all offices lay in the gift of the Emperor or his ministers; and when it was desired to appoint any one who might not be a full citizen, citizenship was conferred along with the office. Thus Rome at last extended to all her subjects the rights that had originally been confined to her own small and exclusive community.
In England the principle that all private civil rights belong to every subject alike was very soon established, and may be said to have never been doubted since the final extinction of serfdom in the beginning of the seventeenth century. Public civil rights, however, did not necessarily go with private. Everybody, it is true, was (subject to certain religious restrictions now almost entirely repealed) eligible to any office to which he might be appointed by the Crown, and was also (subject to certain property qualifications which lasted till our own time) capable of being chosen to fill any elective post or function, such as that of member of the House of Commons. But the right of voting did not necessarily go along with other rights, whether public or private, and it is only within the last forty years that it has been extended by a series of statutes to the bulk of the adult male population. Now when Englishmen began to settle abroad, they carried with them all their private rights as citizens, and also their eligibility to office; but their other public rights, i. e. those of voting they could not carry, because these were attached to local areas in England. When territories outside England were conquered, their free inhabitants, in becoming subjects of the Crown, became therewith entitled to all such rights of British subjects as were not connected with residence in Britain: that is to say, they had all the private civil rights of Englishmen, and also complete eligibility to public office (unless of course some special disqualification was imposed). The rights of an English settler in Massachusetts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were those of an Englishman, except that he could not vote at an English parliamentary election because he was not resident in any English constituency; and the same rule became applicable to a French Canadian after the cession of Canada to the British Crown.
So when India was conquered, the same principles were again applied. Every free Indian subject of the Crown soon became entitled to the private civil rights of an Englishman, except so far as his own personal law, Hindu or Musulman or Parsi or Jain, might modify those rights; and if there was any such modification, that was recognized for his benefit rather than to his prejudice. Thus the process which the Romans took centuries to complete was effected almost at once in India by the application of long established doctrines of English law. Accordingly we have in India the singular result that although there are in that country no free institutions (other than those municipal ones previously referred to) nor any representative government, every Indian subject is eligible to any office in the gift of the Crown anywhere, and to any post or function to which any body of electors may select him. He may be chosen by a British constituency a member of the British House of Commons, or by a Canadian constituency a member of the House of Commons of Canada. Two natives of India (both Parsis) have already been chosen, both by London constituencies, to sit in the British House. So a native Hindu or Musulman might be appointed by the Crown to be Lord Chief Justice of England or Governor-General of Canada or Australia. He might be created a peer. He might become Prime Minister. And as far as legal eligibility goes, he might be named Governor-General of India, though as a matter of practice, no Indian has ever been placed in any high Indian office. Neither birth, nor colour, nor religion constitutes any legal disqualification. This was expressly declared as regards India by the India Act of 1833, and has been more than once formally declared since, but it did not require any statute to establish what flowed from the principles of our law. And it need hardly be added that the same principles apply to the Chinese subjects of the Crown in Hong Kong or Singapore and to the negro subjects of the Crown in Jamaica or Zululand. In this respect at least England has worthily repeated the liberal policy of Rome. She has done it, however, not by way of special grants, but by the automatic and probably uncontemplated operation of the general principles of her law.
As I have referred to the influence of English constitutional ideas, it is worth noting that it is these ideas which have led the English of late years not only to create in India city municipalities, things entirely foreign to the native Indian mind, but also to provide by statute (in 1892) for the admission of a certain number of nominated non-official members to the legislative councils of the Governors in Bengal, Bombay, Madras, the North-West Provinces and Oudh, and the Punjab. These members are nominated, not elected, because it has been found difficult to devise a satisfactory scheme of election. But the provision made for the presence of native non-officials testifies to the wish of the English Government to secure not only a certain amount of outside opinion, but also a certain number of native councillors through whom native sentiment may be represented, and may obtain its due influence on the conduct of affairs.
The extension of the civil rights of Englishmen to the subjects of the Crown in India would have been anything but a boon had it meant the suppression and extinction of native law and custom. This of course it has not meant. Neither had the extension of Roman conquest such an effect in the Roman Empire; and even the grant of citizenship to all subjects did not quite efface local law and usage. As the position and influence of English law in India, viewed in comparison with the relation of the older Roman law to the Roman provinces, is the subject of another of these Essays, I will here pass over the legal side of the matter, and speak only of the parallel to be noted between the political action of the conquering nations in both cases.
Both have shown a prudent wish to avoid disturbing, any further than the fixed principles of their policy made needful, the usages and beliefs of their subjects. The Romans took over the social and political system which they found in each of the very dissimilar regions they conquered, placed their own officials above it, modified it so far as they found expedient for purposes of revenue and civil administration generally, but otherwise let it stand as they found it and left the people alone. In course of time the law and administration of the conquerors, and the intellectual influences which literature called into play, did bring about a considerable measure of assimilation between Romans and provincials, especially in the life and ideas of the upper classes. But this was the result of natural causes. The Romans did not consciously and deliberately work for uniformity. Especially in the sphere of religion they abstained from all interference. They had indeed no temptation to interfere either with religious belief or with religious practice, for their own system was not a universal but a strictly national religion, and the educated classes had begun to sit rather loose to that religion before the process of foreign conquest had gone far. According to the theory of the ancient world, every nation had its own deities, and all these deities were equally to be respected in their own country. Whether they were at bottom the same deities under different names, or were quite independent divine powers, did not matter. Each nation and each member of a nation was expected to worship the national gods: but so long as an individual man did not openly reject or insult those gods, he might if he pleased worship a god belonging to some other country, provided that the worship was not conducted with shocking or demoralizing rites, such as led to the prohibition of the Bacchanalian cult at Rome1 . The Egyptian Serapis was a fashionable deity among Roman women as early as the time of Catullus. We are told that Claudius abolished Druidism on account of its savage cruelty, but this may mean no more than that he forbade the Druidic practice of human sacrifices2 . There was therefore, speaking broadly, no religious persecution and little religious intolerance in the ancient world, for the Christians, it need hardly be said, were persecuted not because of their religion but because they were a secret society, about which, since it was new, and secret, and Oriental, and rejected all the gods of all the nations alike, the wildest calumnies were readily believed. The first religious persecutors were the Persian Fire-worshipping kings of the Sassanid dynasty, who occasionally worried their Christian subjects.
Neither, broadly speaking, was religious propagandism known to the ancient world. There were no missions, neither foreign missions nor home missions. If a man did not sacrifice to the gods of his own country, his fellow citizens might think ill of him. If he was accused of teaching that the gods did not exist, he might possibly, like Socrates, be put to death, but nobody preached to him. On the other hand, if he did worship them, he was in the right path, and it would have been deemed not only impertinent, but almost impious, for the native of another country to seek to convert him to another faith, that is to say, to make him disloyal to the gods of his own country, who were its natural and time-honoured protectors. The only occasions on which one hears of people being required to perform acts of worship to any power but the deities of their country are those cases in which travellers were expected to offer a prayer or a sacrifice to some local deity whose territory they were traversing, and whom it was therefore expedient to propitiate, and those other cases in which a sort of worship was required to be rendered to the monarch, or the special protecting deity of the monarch, under whose sway they lived. The edict attributed to Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel may in this connexion be compared with the practice in the Roman Empire of adoring the spirit that watched over the reigning Caesar. To burn incense on the altar of the Genius of the Emperor was the test commonly proposed to the persons accused of being Christians.
All this is the natural result of polytheism. With the coming of faiths each of which claims to be exclusively and universally true, the face of the world was changed. Christianity was necessarily a missionary religion, and unfortunately soon became also, forgetting the precepts of its Founder, a persecuting religion. Islam followed in the same path, and for similar reasons. In India the strife of Buddhism with Hinduism gave rise to ferocious persecutions, which however were perhaps as much political as religious. When the Portuguese and Spaniards began to discover and conquer new countries beyond the oceans, the spread of religion was in the mouths of all the adventurers, and in the minds of many of the baser as well as of the better sort. Spain accordingly forced her faith upon all her subjects, and found no great resistance from the American peoples, though of course their Christianity seldom went deep, as indeed it remains to-day in many parts of Central and South America, a thin veneer over the ancient superstitions of the aborigines. Portugal did the like, so far as she could, in India and in Africa. So too the decrees by which the French colonizing companies were founded in the days of Richelieu provided that the Roman Catholic faith was to be everywhere made compulsory, and that converted pagans were to be admitted to the full civil rights of Frenchmen1 . But when the English set forth to trade and conquer they were not thinking of religion. The middle of the eighteenth century, when Bengal and Madras were acquired, was for England an age when persecution had died out and missionary propagandism had scarcely begun. The East India Company did not at first interfere in any way with the religious rites it found practised by the people, however cruel or immoral they might be. It gave no advantages to Christian converts, and for a good while it even discouraged the presence of missionaries, lest they should provoke disturbances. Bishops were thought less dangerous, and one was appointed, with three Archdeacons under him, by the Act of 1813. A sort of miniature church establishment, for the benefit of Europeans, still exists and is supported out of Indian revenues. After a time, however, some of the more offensive or harmful features of native worship began to be forbidden. The human sacrifices that occasionally occurred among the hill tribes were treated as murders, and the practice of Sutti—the self-immolation of the Hindu widow on her husband’s funeral pyre—was forbidden as far back as 1829. No hindrance is now thrown in the way of Christian missions: and there is perfect equality, as respects civil rights and privileges, not only between the native votaries of all religions, but also between them and Europeans.
So far as religion properly so-called is concerned, the policy of the English is simple and easy to apply. But as respects usages which are more or less associated with religion in the native mind, but which European sentiment disapproves, difficulties sometimes arise. The burning of the widow was one of these usages, and has been dealt with at the risk of offending Hindu prejudice. Infanticide is another; and the British Government try to check it, even in some of the protected States. The marriage of young children is a third: and this it has been thought not yet prudent to forbid, although the best native opinion is beginning to recognize the evils that attach to it. Speaking generally, it may be said that the English have, like the Romans but unlike the Spaniards, shown their desire to respect the customs and ideas of the conquered peoples. Indifferentism has served them in their career of conquest as well as religious eclecticism served the Romans, so that religious sentiment, though it sometimes stimulated the valour of their native enemies, has not really furnished any obstacle to the pacification of a conquered people. The English have, however, gone further than did the Romans in trying to deter their subjects from practices socially or morally deleterious.
As regards the work done by the English for education in the establishment of schools and Universities, no comparison with Rome can usefully be drawn: because it was not deemed in the ancient world to be the function of the State to make a general educational provision for its subjects. The Emperors, however, appointed and paid teachers of the liberal arts in some of the greater cities. That which the English have done, however, small as it may appear in comparison with the vast population they have to care for1 , witnesses to the spirit which has animated them in seeking to extend to the conquered the opportunities of progress which they value for themselves.
The question how far the triumphs of Rome and of England are due to the republican polity of the one, and the practically republican (though not until 1867 or 1885 democratic) polity of the other, is so large a one that I must be content merely to indicate it as well deserving a discussion. Several similar empires have been built up by republican governments of the oligarchic type, as witness the empire of Carthage in the ancient, and that of Venice in the later mediaeval world. One can explain this by the fact that in such governments there is usually, along with a continuity of policy hardly to be expected from a democracy, a constant succession of capable generals and administrators such as a despotic hereditary monarchy seldom provides, for a monarchy of that kind must from time to time have feeble or dissolute sovereigns, under whom bad selections will be made for important posts, policy will oscillate, and no adequate support will be given to the armies or fleets which are maintaining the interests of the nation abroad. A republic is moreover likely to have a larger stock of capable and experienced men on which to draw during the process of conquering and organizing. The two conspicuous instances in which monarchies have acquired and long held vast external dominions are the Empires of Spain and Russia. The former case is hardly an exception to the doctrine just stated, because the oceanic Empire of Spain was won quickly and with little fighting against opponents immeasurably inferior, and because it had no conterminous enemies to take advantage of the internal decay which soon set in. In the case of Russia the process has been largely one of natural expansion over regions so thinly peopled and with inhabitants so backward that no serious resistance was made to an advance which went on rather by settlement than by conquest. It is only in the Caucasus and in Turkistan that Russia has had to establish her power by fighting. Her conflicts even with the Persians and the Ottoman Turks have been, as Moltke is reported to have said, battles of the one-eyed against the blind. But it must be added that Russia has shown during two centuries a remarkable power of holding a steady course of foreign policy. She sometimes trims her sails, and lays the ship upon the other tack, but the main direction of the vessel’s course is not altered. This must be the result of wisdom or good fortune in the choice of ministers, for the Romanoff dynasty has not contained more than its fair average of men of governing capacity.
There is one other point in which the Romans and the English may be compared as conquering powers. Both triumphed by force of character. During the two centuries that elapsed between the destruction of Carthage, when Rome had already come to rule many provinces, and the time of Vespasian, when she had ceased to be a city, and was passing into a nation conterminous with her dominions, the Romans were the ruling race of the world, small in numbers, even if we count the peoples of middle Italy as Romans, but gifted with such talents for war and government, and possessed of such courage and force of will as to be able, not only to dominate the whole civilized world and hold down its peoples, but also to carry on a succession of bloody civil wars among themselves without giving those peoples any chance of recovering their freedom. The Roman armies, though superior in discipline to the enemies they had to encounter, except the Macedonians and Greeks, were not generally superior in arms, and had no resources of superior scientific knowledge at their command. Their adversaries in Africa, in Greece, and in Asia Minor were as far advanced in material civilization as they were themselves. It was their strenuous and indomitable will, buoyed up by the pride and self-confidence born of a long succession of victories in the past, that enabled them to achieve this unparalleled triumph. The triumph was a triumph of character, as their poet felt when he penned the famous line, Moribus antiquis stat res Romana virisque. And after the inhabitants of the City had ceased to be the heart of the Empire, this consciousness of greatness passed to the whole population of the Roman world when they compared themselves with the barbarians outside their frontiers. One finds it even in the pages of Procopius, a Syrian writing in Greek, after the western half of the Empire had been dismembered by barbarian invasions.
The English conquered India with forces much smaller than those of the Romans; and their success in subjugating a still vaster population in a shorter time may thus appear more brilliant. But the English had antagonists immeasurably inferior in valour, in discipline, in military science, and generally also in the material of war, to those whom the Romans overcame. Nor had they ever either a first-rate general or a monarch of persistent energy opposed to them. No Hannibal, nor even a Mithradates, appeared to bar their path. Hyder Ali had no nation behind him; and fortune spared them an encounter with the Afghan Ahmed Shah and the Sikh Ranjit Singh. Their most formidable opponents might rather be compared with the gallant but untrained Celtic Vercingetorix, or the showy but incompetent Antiochus the Great. It was only when Europeans like Dupleix came upon the scene that they had men of their own kind to grapple with; and Dupleix had not the support from home which Clive could count on in case of dire necessity. Still the conquest of India was a splendid achievement, more striking and more difficult, if less romantic, than the conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortez or the conquest of Peru by Francisco Pizarro, though it must be admitted that the courage of these two adventurers in venturing far into unknown regions with a handful of followers has never been surpassed. Among the English, as among the Romans, the sense of personal force, the conscious ascendency of a race so often already victorious, with centuries of fame behind them, and a contempt for the feebler folk against whom they were contending, were the main source of that dash and energy and readiness to face any odds which bore down all resistance. These qualities have lasted into our own time. No more brilliant examples were ever given of them than in the defence of the Fort at Lucknow and in the siege of Delhi at the time of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8. And it is worth noting that almost the only disasters that have ever befallen the British arms have occurred where the general in command was either incompetent, as must sometimes happen in every army, or was wanting in boldness. In the East, more than anywhere else, confidence makes for victory, and one victory leads on to another.
It is by these qualities that the English continue to hold India. In the higher grades of the civil administration which they fill there are only about one thousand persons: and these one thousand control two hundred and eighty-seven millions, doing it with so little friction that they have ceased to be surprised at this extraordinary fact. The English have impressed the imagination of the people by their resistless energy and their almost uniform success. Their domination seems to have about it an element of the supernatural, for the masses of India are still in that mental condition which looks to the supernatural for an explanation of whatever astonishes it. The British Raj fills them with a sense of awe and mystery. That nearly three hundred millions of men should be ruled by a few palefaced strangers from beyond the great and wide sea, strangers who all obey some distant power, and who never, like the lieutenants of Oriental sovereigns, try to revolt for their own benefit—this seems too wonderful to be anything but the doing of some unseen and irresistible divinity. I heard at Lahore an anecdote which, slight as it is, illustrates the way in which the native thinks of these things. A tiger had escaped from the Zoological Gardens, and its keeper, hoping to lure it back, followed it. When all other inducements had failed, he lifted up his voice and solemnly adjured it in the name of the British Government, to which it belonged, to come back to its cage. The tiger obeyed.
Now that we have rapidly surveyed the more salient points of resemblance or analogy between these two empires, it remains to note the capital differences between them, one or two of which have been already incidentally mentioned. On the most obvious of all I have already dwelt. It is the fact that, whereas the Romans conquered right out from their City in all directions—south, north, west, and east—so that the capital, during the five centuries from bc 200 (end of the Second Punic War) to ad 325 (foundation of Constantinople), stood not far from the centre of their dominions, England has conquered India across the ocean, and remains many thousands of miles from the nearest point of her Indian territory. Another not less obvious difference is perhaps less important than it seems. Rome was a city, and Britain is a country. Rome, when she stepped outside Italy to establish in Sicily her first province, had a free population of possibly only seventy or eighty thousand souls. Britain, when she began her career of conquest at Plassy, had (if we include Ireland, then still a distinct kingdom, but then less a source of weakness than she has sometimes since been) a population of at least eleven or twelve millions. But, apart from the fact that the distance from Britain to India round the Cape made her larger population less available for action in India than was the smaller population of Rome for action in the Mediterranean, the comparison must not really be made with Rome as a city, but with Rome as the centre of a large Italian population, upon which she drew for her armies, and the bulk of which had, before the end of the Republic, become her citizens. On this point of dissimilarity no more need be said, because its significance is apparent. I turn from it to another of greater consequence.
The relations of the conquering country to the conquered country, and of the conquering race to the conquered races, are totally different in the two cases compared. In the case of Rome there was a similarity of conditions which pointed to and ultimately effected a fusion of the peoples. In the case of England there is a dissimilarity which makes the fusion of her people with the peoples of India impossible.
Climate offers the first point of contrast. Rome, to be sure, ruled countries some of which were far hotter and others far colder than was the valley of the Tiber. Doubtless the officer who was stationed in Nubia complained of the torrid summer, much as an English officer complains of Quetta or Multan; nor were the winters of Ardoch or Hexham agreeable to a soldier from Apulia. But if the Roman married in Nubia, he could bring up his family there. An English officer cannot do this at Quetta or Multan. The English race becomes so enfeebled in the second generation by living without respite under the Indian sun that it would probably die out, at least in the plains, in the third or fourth. Few Englishmen feel disposed to make India their home, if only because the physical conditions of life there are so different from those under which their earlier years were passed. But the Italian could make himself at home, so far as natural conditions went, almost anywhere from the Dnieper to the Guadalquivir.
The second contrast is in the colour of the races. All the races of India are dark, though individuals may be found among high-caste Brahmins and among the Parsis of Poona or Gujarat who are as light in hue as many Englishmen. Now to the Teutonic peoples, and especially to the English and Anglo-Americans, the difference of colour means a great deal. It creates a feeling of separation, perhaps even of a slight repulsion. Such a feeling may be deemed unreasonable or unchristian, but it seems too deeply rooted to be effaceable in any time we can foresee. It is, to be sure, not nearly so strong towards members of the more civilized races of India, with their faces often full of an intelligence and refinement which witnesses to many generations of mental culture, as it is in North America towards the negroes of the Gulf Coast, or in South Africa towards the Kafirs. Yet it is sufficient to be, as a rule, a bar to social intimacy, and a complete bar to intermarriage.
Among the highest castes of Hindus and among the most ancient princely families, such as those famous Rajput dynasties whose lineage runs back further than does that of any of the royal houses of Europe, there is a corresponding pride of race quite as strong as that felt by the best-born European. So, too, some of the oldest Musulman families, tracing their origin to the relatives of the Prophet himself, are in respect of long descent equal to any European houses. Nevertheless, although the more educated and tactful among the English pay due honour to these families, colour would form an insurmountable barrier to intermarriage, even were the pride of the Rajputs disposed to invite it. The oldest of the Rajput dynasties, that of Udaipur, always refused to give a daughter in marriage even to the Mogul Emperors.
There was no severing line like this in the ancient world. The only dark races (other than the Egyptians) with whom the Romans came in contact were some of the Numidian tribes, few of whom became really Romanized, and the Nubians of the Middle Nile, also scarcely within the pale of civilization. The question, therefore, did not arise in the form it has taken in India. Probably, however, the Romans would have felt and acted not like Teutons, but rather as the Spanish and Portuguese have done. Difference of colour does not repel members of these last-named nations. Among them, unions, that is to say legitimate unions, of whites with dark-skinned people, are not uncommon, nor is the mulatto or quadroon offspring kept apart and looked down upon as he is among the Anglo-Americans. Nothing contributed more to the fusion of the races and nationalities that composed the Roman Empire than the absence of any physical and conspicuous distinctions between those races, just as nothing did more to mitigate the horrors of slavery than the fact that the slave was usually of a tint and type of features not markedly unlike those of his master. Before the end of the Republic there were many freedmen in the Senate, though their presence there was regarded as a sign of declension. The son of a freedman passed naturally and easily—as did the poet Horace—into the best society of Rome when his personal merits or the favour of a great patron gave him entrance, though his detractors found pleasure in reminding one another of his origin. In India it is otherwise. Slavery, which was never harsh there, has fortunately not come into the matter, in the way it did in the Southern States of America and in South Africa. But the population is sharply divided into whites and natives. The so-called Eurasians, a mixed race due to the unions of whites with persons of Indian race, give their sympathies to the whites, but are treated by the latter as an inferior class. They are not numerous enough to be an important factor, nor do they bridge over the chasm which divides the rulers from the ruled. It is not of the want of political liberty that the latter complain, for political liberty has never been enjoyed in the East, and would not have been dreamt of had not English literature and English college teaching implanted the idea in the minds of the educated natives. But the hauteur of the English and the sense of social incompatibility which both elements feel, are unfortunate features in the situation, and have been so from the first. Even in 1813 the representatives of the East India Company stated to a committee of the House of Commons that ‘Englishmen of classes not under the observation of the supreme authorities were notorious for the contempt with which, in their ignorance and arrogance, they contemplated the usages and institutions of the natives, and for their frequent disregard of justice and humanity in their dealings with the people of India1 .’ And the Act of 1833 requires the Government of India ‘to provide for the protection of the natives from insult and outrage in their persons, religions, and opinions2 .’
It may be thought that, even if colour did not form an obstacle to intermarriage, religion would. Religion, however, can be changed, and colour cannot. In North America blacks and whites belong to the same religious denominations, but the social demarcation remains complete. Still it is true that the difference of religion does constitute in India a further barrier not merely to intermarriage but also to intimate social relations. Among the Musulmans the practice, or at any rate the legal possibility of polygamy, naturally deters white women from a union they might otherwise have contemplated. (There have, however, been a few instances of such unions.) Hinduism stands much further away from Christianity than does Islam; and its ceremonial rules regarding the persons in whose company food may be partaken of operate against a form of social intercourse which cements intimacy among Europeans3 .
One must always remember that in the East religion constitutes both a bond of union and a dividing line of severance far stronger and deeper than it does in Western Europe. It largely replaces that national feeling which is absent in India and among the Eastern peoples (except the Chinese and Japanese) generally. Among Hindus and Musulmans religious practices are inwoven with a man’s whole life. To the Hindu more especially caste is everything. It creates a sort of nationality within a nationality, dividing the man of one caste from the man of another, as well as from the man who stands outside Hinduism altogether. Among Muslims there is indeed no regular caste (though evident traces of it remain among the Muhamadans of India); but the haughty exclusiveness of Islam keeps its votaries quite apart from the professors of other faiths. The European in India, when he converses with either a Hindu or a Musulman, feels strongly how far away from them he stands. There is always a sense of constraint, because both parties know that a whole range of subjects lies outside discussion, and must not be even approached. It is very different when one talks to a native Christian of the upper ranks. There is then no great need for reserve save, of course, that the racial susceptibilities of the native gentleman who does not belong to the ruling class must be respected. Community of religion in carrying the educated native Christian far away from the native Hindu or Muslim, brings him comparatively near to the European. Because he is a Christian he generally feels himself more in sympathy with his European rulers than he does with his fellow subjects of the same race and colour as himself.
Here I touch a matter of the utmost interest when one thinks of the more remote future of India. Political consequences greater than now appear may depend upon the spread of Christianity there, a spread whose progress, though at present scarcely perceptible in the upper classes, may possibly become much more rapid than it has been during the last century. I do not say that Hinduism or Islam is a cause of hostility to British rule. Neither do I suggest that a Christian native population would become fused with the European or Eurasian population. But if the number of Christians, especially in the middle and upper ranks of Indian society, were to increase, the difficulty of ascertaining native opinion, now so much felt by Indian administrators, would be perceptibly lessened, and the social separation of natives and Europeans might become less acute, to the great benefit of both sections of the population.
When we turn back to the Roman Empire how striking is the absence of any lines of religious demarcation! One must not speak of toleration as the note of its policy, because there was nothing to tolerate. All religions were equally true, or equally useful, each for its own country or nation. The satirist of an age which had already lost belief in the Olympian deities might scoff at the beast-gods of Egypt and the fanaticism which their worship evoked. But nobody thought of converting the devotees of crocodiles or cats. A Briton brought up by the Druids, or a Frisian who had worshipped Woden in his youth, found, if he was sent to command a garrison in Syria, no difficulty in attending a sacrifice to the Syrian Sun-god, or in marrying the daughter of the Sun-god’s priest. Possibly the first injunctions to have regard to religion in choosing a consort that were ever issued in the ancient world were such as that given by St. Paul when he said, ‘Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.’ Christianity had a reason for this precept which the other religions had not, because to it all the other religions were false and pernicious, drawing men away from the only true God. We may accordingly say that, old-established and strong as some of the religions were which the Romans found when they began to conquer the Mediterranean countries, religion did not constitute an obstacle to the fusion of the peoples of those countries into one Roman nationality.
When the Monotheistic religions came upon the scene, things began to change. Almost the only rebellions against Rome which were rather religious than political, were those of the Jews. When in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries, sharp theological controversies began to divide Christians, especially in the East, dangers appeared such as had never arisen from religious causes in the days of heathenism. Schisms, like that of the Donatists, and heresies, began to trouble the field of politics. The Arian Goths and Vandals remained distinct from the orthodox provincials whom they conquered. In Egypt, a country always prone to fanaticism, the Monophysite antagonism to the orthodoxy of the Eastern Emperors was so bitter that the native population showed signs of disaffection as early as the time of Justinian, and they offered, a century later, scarcely any resistance to those Musulman invaders from Arabia whom they disliked no more than they did their own sovereign at Constantinople.
A fourth agency working for fusion which the Roman Empire possessed, and which the English in India want, is to be found in language and literature. The conquests of Rome had been preceded by the spread of the Greek tongue and of Greek culture over the coasts of the Eastern Mediterranean. Even in the interior of Asia Minor and Syria, though the native languages continued to be spoken in the cities as late as the time of Tiberius1 , and probably held their ground in country districts down till the Arab conquest, Greek was understood by the richer people, and was a sort of lingua franca for commerce from Sicily to the Euphrates2 . Greek literature was the basis of education, and formed the minds of the cultivated class. It was indeed familiar to that class even in the western half of the Empire, through which, by the time of the Antonines, Latin had begun to be generally spoken, except in remote regions such as the Basque country and the banks of the Vaal and North-Western Gaul. As the process of unification usually works downwards from the wealthier and better educated to the masses, it was of the utmost consequence that the upper class should have, in these two great languages, a factor constantly operative in the assimilation of the ideas of peoples originally distinct, in the diffusion of knowledge, and in the creation of a common type of civilization. Just as the use of Latin and of the Vulgate maintained a sort of unity among Christian nations and races even in the darkest and most turbulent centuries of the Middle Ages, so the use of Latin and Greek throughout the whole Roman Empire powerfully tended to draw its parts together. Nor was it without importance that all the subjects of the Empire had the same models of poetic and prose style in the classical writers of Greece and in the Latin writers of the pre-Augustan and Augustan age. Virgil in particular became the national poet of the Empire, in whom imperial patriotism found its highest expression.
Very different have been the conditions of India. When the British came, they found no national literature, unless we can apply that name to the ancient Sanskrit epics, written in a tongue which had ceased to be spoken many centuries before. Persian and Arabic were cultivated languages, used by educated Musulmans and by a few Hindu servants of the Musulman princes. The lingua franca called Hindustani or Urdu, which had sprung up in the camps of the Mogul Emperors, was becoming a means of intercourse over Northern India, but was hardly used throughout the South. Only a handful of the population were sufficiently educated to be accessible to the influences of any literature, or spoke any tongue except that of their own district. At present five great languages1 , branches of the Aryan family, divide between them
Northern, North-Western, and Middle India, and four others1 of the Dravidian type cover Southern India: while many others are spoken by smaller sections of the people. The language of the English conquerors, which was adopted as the official language in 1835, is the parent tongue of only about 250,000 persons out of 287,000,000, less than one in one thousand. An increasing number of natives of the educated class have learnt to speak it, but even if we reckon in these, it affects only the most insignificant fraction of the population. I have already observed that it was an advantage for England in conquering India, and is an advantage for her in ruling it, that the inhabitants are so divided by language as well as by religion and (among the Hindus) by caste that they could not combine to resist her. Rome had enjoyed, in slighter measure, a similar advantage. But whereas in the Roman Empire Greek and Latin spread so swiftly and steadily that the various nationalities soon began to blend, the absence in India of any two such dominant tongues and the lower level of intellectual progress keep the vast bulk of the Indian population without any general vehicle for the interchange of thought or for the formation of any one type of literary and scientific culture. There is therefore no national literature for India, nor any prospect that one will arise. No Cicero forms prose style, no Virgil inspires an imperial patriotism. The English have established places of higher instruction on the model not so much of Oxford and Cambridge as of the Scottish Universities and the new University Colleges which have recently sprung up in England, together with five examining Universities. Through these institutions they are giving to the ambitious youth of India, and especially to those who wish to enter Government employment or the learned professions, an education of a European type, a type so remote from the natural quality and proclivities of the Indian mind that it is not likely to give birth to any literature with a distinctively Indian character. Indeed the chief effect of this instruction has so far been to make those who receive it cease to be Hindus or Musulmans without making them either Christians or Europeans. It acts as a powerful solvent, destroying the old systems of conventional morality, and putting little in their place. The results may not be seen for a generation or two. When they come they may prove far from happy.
If in the course of ages any one language comes to predominate in India and to be the language not only of commerce, law, and administration, but also of literature, English is likely to be that language; and English will by that time have also become the leading language of the world1 . This will tend both to unify the peoples of India and (in a sense) to bring them nearer to their rulers. By that time, however, if it ever arrives, so many other changes will also have arrived that it is vain to speculate on the type of civilization which will then have been produced.
These considerations have shown us how different have been the results of English from those of Roman conquest. In the latter case a double process began from the first. The provinces became assimilated to one another, and Rome became assimilated to them, or they to her. As her individuality passed to them it was diluted by their influence. Out of the one conquering race and the many conquered races there was growing up a people which, though many local distinctions remained, was by the end of the fourth century ad tending to become substantially one in religion, one in patriotism, one in its type of intellectual life and of material civilization. The process was never completed, because the end of the fourth century was just the time when the Empire began, not from any internal dissensions, but from financial and military weakness, to yield to invasions and immigrations which forced its parts asunder. But it was so far completed that Claudian could write in the days of Honorius: ‘We who drink of the Rhone and the Orontes are all one nation.’ In this one huge nation the city and people of Rome had been merged, their original character so obliterated that they could give their name to the world. But in India there has been neither a fusion of the conquerors and the conquered, nor even a fusion of the various conquered races into one people. Differences of race, language, and religion have prevented the latter fusion: yet it may some day come. But a fusion of conquerors and conquered seems to be forbidden by climate and by the disparity of character and of civilization, as well as by antagonisms of colour and religion. The English are too unlike the races of India, or any one of those races, to mingle with them, or to come to form, in the sense of Claudian’s words, one people.
The nations and tribes that were overcome and incorporated by Rome were either the possessors of a civilization as old and as advanced as was her own, or else, like the Gauls and the Germans, belonged to stocks full of intellectual force, capable of receiving her lessons, and of rapidly rising to the level of her culture. But the races of India were all of them far behind the English in material civilization. Some of them were and are intellectually backward; others, whose keen intelligence and aptitude for learning equals that of Europeans, are inferior in energy and strength of will. Yet even these differences might not render an ultimate fusion impossible. It is religion and colour that seem to place that result beyond any horizon to which our eyes can reach. The semi-barbarous races of Southern Siberia will become Russians. The Georgians and Armenians of Transcaucasia, unless their attachment to their national churches saves them, may become Russians. Even the Turkmans of the Khanates will be Russians one day, as the Tatars of Kazan and the Crimea are already on the way to become. But the English seem destined to remain quite distinct from the natives of India, neither mingling their blood nor imparting their character and habits.
So too, it may be conjectured, there will not be, for ages to come, any fusion of Americans with the races of the Philippine Isles.
The observation that Rome effaced herself in giving her name and laws to the world suggests an inquiry into what may be called the retroactive influence of India upon England. In the annals of Rome, war, conquest, and territorial expansion pervade and govern the whole story. Her constitutional, her social, her economic history, from the end of the Samnite wars onwards, is substantially determined by her position as a ruling State, first in Italy and then in the Mediterranean world. It was the influence upon the City of the phenomena of her rule in the provinces that did most to destroy not only the old constitution but the old simple and upright character of the Roman people. The provinces avenged themselves upon their conquerors. In the end, Rome ceases to have any history of her own, except an architectural history, so completely is she merged in her Empire. To a great extent this is true of Italy as well as of Rome. Italy, which had subjected so many provinces, ends by becoming herself a province—a province no more important than the others, except in respect of the reverence that surrounded her name. Her history, from the time of Augustus till that of Odovaker and Theodorich the Ostrogoth, is only a part of the history of the Empire. Quite otherwise with England. Though England has founded many colonies, sent out vast bodies of emigrants, and conquered wide dominions, her domestic history has been, since she lost Normandy and Aquitaine, comparatively little affected by these frequent wars and this immense expansion. One might compose a constitutional history of England, or an economic and industrial history, or an ecclesiastical history, or a literary history, or a social history, in which only few and slight references would need to be made to either the colonies or India. England was a great European power before she had any colonies or any Indian territories: and she would be a great European power if all of these transmarine possessions were to drop off. Only at a few moments in the century and a half since the battle of Plassy have Indian affairs gravely affected English politics. Every one remembers Fox’s India Bill, in 1783, and the trial of Warren Hastings, and the way in which the Nabobs seemed for a time to be demoralizing society and politics. It was in India that the Duke of Wellington first showed his powers. It was through the Indian opium trade that England first came into collision with China. The notion that Russian ambition might become dangerous to the security of Britain in India had something to do with the Crimean War, and with the subsequent policy towards the Turks followed by England down to 1880. The deplorable Afghan War of 1878-9 led, more perhaps than anything else, to the fall of Lord Beaconsfield’s Ministry in 1880. Other instances might be added in which Indian questions have told upon the foreign policy of Great Britain, or have given rise to parliamentary strife; although, by a tacit convention between the two great parties in England, efforts are usually made—and made most wisely—to prevent questions of Indian administration from becoming any further than seems absolutely necessary matters of party controversy. Yet, if these instances be all put together, they are less numerous and momentous than might have been expected when one considers the magnitude of the stake which Britain holds in India. And even when we add to these the effect of Indian markets upon British trade, and the undeniable influence of the possession of India upon the thoughts and aspirations of Englishmen, strengthening in them a sense of pride and what is called an imperial spirit, we shall still be surprised that the control of this vast territory and of a population more than seven times as large as that of the United Kingdom has not told more forcibly upon Britain, and coloured her history more deeply than it has in fact done. Suppose that England had not conquered India. Would her domestic development, whether constitutional or social, have taken a course greatly different from that which it has actually followed? So far as we can judge, it would not. It has been the good fortune of England to stand far off from the conquered countries, and to have had a population too large to suffer sensibly from the moral evils which conquest and the influx of wealth bring in their train1 .
The remark was made at the outset of this discussion that the contact of the English race with native races in India, and the process by which the former is giving the material civilization, and a tincture of the intellectual culture of Europe to a group of Asiatic peoples, is only part of that contact of European races with native races and of that Europeanizing of the latter by the former which is going on all over the world. France is doing a similar work in North Africa and Madagascar. Russia is doing it in Turkistan and on the Amur; and may probably be soon engaged upon it in Manchuria. Germany is doing it in tropical Africa. England is doing it in Egypt and Borneo and Matabililand. The people of the United States are entering upon it in the Philippine Islands. Every one of these nations professes to be guided by philanthropic motives in its action. But it is not philanthropy that has carried any of them into these enterprises, nor is it clear that the result will be to increase the sum of human happiness.
It is in India, however, that the process has been in progress for the longest time and on the largest scale. Even after a century’s experience the results cannot be adequately judged, for the country is in a state of transition, with all sorts of new factors, such as railways, and newspapers, and colleges, working as well upon the humbler as upon the wealthier sections of the people. Three things, however, the career of the English in India has proved. One is, that it is possible for a European race to rule a subject native race on principles of strict justice, restraining the natural propensity of the stronger to abuse their power. India has been, and is, ruled upon such principles. When oppression or cruelty is perpetrated, it is not by the European official but by his native subordinates, and especially by the native police, whose delinquencies the European official cannot always discover. Scorn or insolence is sometimes displayed towards the natives by Europeans, and nothing does more to destroy the good effects of just government than such displays of scorn. But again, it is seldom the European civil officials, but either private persons or occasionally junior officers in the army, who are guilty of this abuse of their racial superiority.
The second thing is that a relatively small body of European civilians, supported by a relatively small armed force, can maintain peace and order in an immense population standing on a lower plane of civilization, and itself divided by religious animosities bitter enough to cause the outbreak of intestine wars were the restraining hand withdrawn.
The third fact is that the existence of a system securing these benefits is compatible with an absolute separation between the rulers and the ruled. The chasm between them has in these hundred years of intercourse grown no narrower. Some even deem it wider, and regret the fact that the European official, who now visits England more easily and frequently, does not identify himself so thoroughly with India as did his predecessors some seventy years ago. As one of the greatest problems of this age, and of the age which will follow, is and must be the relation between the European races as a whole on the one hand, and the more backward races of a different colour on the other hand, this incompatibility of temper, this indisposition to be fused, or, one may almost say, this impracticability of fusion, is a momentous result, full of significance for the future. It was quite otherwise with that first effort of humanity to draw itself together, which took shape in the fusion of the races that Rome conquered, and the creation of one Greco-Roman type of civilization for them. But the conditions of that small ancient world were very different from those by which mankind finds itself now confronted.
It is impossible to think of the future and to recall that first impluse towards the unity of mankind which closed fourteen centuries ago, without reverting once more to the Roman Empire, and asking whether the events which caused, and the circumstances which accompanied, its dissolution throw any light on the probable fate of British dominion in the East.
Empires die sometimes by violence and sometimes by disease. Frequently they die from a combination of the two, that is to say, some chronic disease so reduces their vitality that a small amount of external violence suffices to extinguish the waning life. It was so with the dominion of Rome. To outward appearance it was the irruption of the barbarians from the north that tore away the provinces in the west, as it was the assault of the Turks in 1453 that gave the last death blow to the feeble and narrowed Empire which had lingered on in the East. But the dissolution and dismemberment of the western Roman Empire, beginning with the abandonment of Britain in ad 411, and ending with the establishment of the Lombards in Italy in ad 568, with the conquest of Africa by the Arab chief Sidi Okba in the seventh century, and with the capture of Sicily by Musulman fleets in the ninth, were really due to internal causes which had been for a long time at work. In some provinces at least the administration had become inefficient or corrupt, and the humbler classes were oppressed by the more powerful. The population had in many regions been diminished. In nearly all it had become unwarlike, so that barbarian levies, raised on the frontier, had taken the place of native troops. The revenue was unequal to the task of maintaining an army sufficient for defence. How far the financial straits to which the government was reduced were due to the exhaustion of the soil, how far to maladministration is not altogether easy to determine. They had doubtless been aggravated by the disorders and invasions of ad 260-282. Neither can we tell whether the intellectual capacity of the ruling class and the physical vigour of the bulk of the population may not have declined. But it seems pretty clear that the armies and the revenue that were at the disposal of Trajan would have been sufficient to defend the Empire three centuries later, when the first fatal blows were struck; and we may therefore say that it was really from internal maladies, from anaemia or atrophy, from the want of men and the want of money, perhaps also from the want of wisdom, rather than from the appearance of more formidable foes, that the Empire perished in the West.
British power in India shows no similar signs of weakness, for though the establishment of internal peace is beginning to make it less easy to recruit the native army with first-class fighting-men, such as the Punjab used to furnish, it has been hitherto found possible to keep that army up to its old standard of numbers and efficiency. Still the warning Rome has bequeathed is a warning not to be neglected. Her great difficulty was finance and the impoverishment of the cultivator. Finance and the poverty of the cultivator, who is always in danger of famine, and is taxed to the full measure of his capacity—these are the standing difficulties of Indian administration; and they do not grow less, for, as population increases, the struggle for food is more severe, and the expenditure on frontier defence, including strategic railways, has gone on rapidly increasing.
As England seems to be quite as safe from rebellion within India as was Rome within her Empire, so is she stronger against external foes than Rome was, for she has far more defensible frontiers, viz. the sea which she commands, and a tremendous mountain barrier in whose barren gorges a comparatively small force might repel invaders coming from a distance and obliged to carry their food with them. There is really, so far as can be seen at present, only one danger against which the English have to guard, that of provoking discontent among their subjects by laying on them too heavy a burden of taxation. It has been suggested that when the differences of caste and religion which now separate the peoples of India from one another have begun to disappear, when European civilization has drawn them together into one people, and European ideas have created a large class of educated and restless natives ill disposed to brook subjection to an alien race, new dangers may arise to threaten the permanence of British power. Such possibilities, however, belong to a future which is still far distant.
It is, of course, upon England in the last resort that the defence of India rests. The task is well within her strength, though serious enough to make it fitting that a prudent and pacific spirit should guide her whole foreign and colonial policy, that she should neither embark on needless wars nor lay on herself the burden of holding down disaffected subjects.
England must be prepared to command the sea, and to spare 80,000 of her soldiers to garrison the country. Were she ever to find herself unable to do this, what would become of India? Its political unity, which depends entirely on the English Raj, would vanish like a morning mist. Wars would break out, wars of ambition, or plunder, or religion, which might end in the ascendency of a few adventurers, not necessarily belonging to the reigning native dynasties, but probably either Pathans, or Sikhs, or Musulmans of the north-west. The Marathas might rise in the West. The Nepalese might descend upon Bengal. Or perhaps the country would, after an interval of chaos, pass into the hands of some other European Power. To India severance from England would mean confusion, bloodshed, and pillage. To England however, apart from the particular events which might have caused the snapping of the tie, and apart from the possible loss of a market, severance from India need involve no lasting injury. To be mistress of a vast country whose resources for defence need to be supplemented by her own, adds indeed to her fame, but does not add to her strength. England was great and powerful before she owned a yard of land there, and might be great and powerful again with no more foothold in the East than would be needed for the naval fortresses which protect her commerce.
Happily, questions such as these are for the moment purely speculative.
[1 ]The total area of the Russian Empire exceeds 8,000,000 square miles, and the population is about 130,000,000.
[1 ]Dacia was taken by Trajan in ad 107, and lost in ad 251. Mesopotamia and Arabia Petraea were annexed by Trajan about the same time, but the former was renounced so soon afterwards that its conquest can hardly be considered a part of the regular process of expansion.
[2 ]Territorial authority may be said to date from the grant of the Diwani in 1765.
[3 ]See the admirably clear and thoughtful book of Sir A. C. Lyall, Rise of British Dominion in India, pp. 52 and 126.
[1 ]And indeed the employment of these barbarians to resist the outer barbarians probably prolonged the life of the Empire.
[1 ]An incident like the murder in 1889 of the British Resident at Manipur, a small Protected State in the hill country between Assam and Burma, is so rare and excites so much surprise and horror as to be the best proof of the general tranquillity. In that case there had been some provocation, though not on the part of the Resident himself, an excellent man of conciliatory temper.
[1 ]Poems x and xxviii. It is some comfort to know that Catullus obtained in Bithynia only themes for some of his most charming verses (see poems iv and xlvi). Gains would probably have been ill-gotten.
[1 ]See Sir C. P. Ilbert’s Government of India, p. 68. The provision creating this Court has never been repealed.
[1 ]The nearest approach to any kind of provincial self-government and also the nearest approach to a representative system was made in the Provincial Councils which seem from the time of Augustus down to the fifth century to have existed in all or nearly all the provinces. They consisted of delegates from the cities of each province, and met annually in some central place, where stood the temple or altar to Rome and Augustus. They were presided over by the priest of these divinities, and their primary functions were to offer sacrifices, provide for the expense of the annual games, and elect the priest for next year. However they seem to have also passed resolutions, such as votes of thanks to the outgoing priest or to a departing governor, and to have transmitted requests or inquiries to the Emperor. Sometimes they arranged for the prosecution of a governor who had misgoverned them but on the whole their functions were more ceremonial and ornamental than practically important; nor would the emperors have suffered them to exert any real power, though they were valued as useful vehicles of provincial opinion (see Marquardt, Romische Staatsverwaltung, vol. i, and an article in Eng. Hist. Review for April, 1893, by Mr. E. G. Hardy).
[1 ]The use of the word to denote the two great ecclesiastical divisions of England (Province of Canterbury and Province of York) is a relic of the Roman imperial system.
[2 ]For instance, Cappadocia, Pontus, and Commagene were left as subject kingdoms till 17 ad, 63 ad, and 72 ad respectively.
[1 ]‘The extent to which confidence has been restored by Lord Canning’s edict is shown by the curious fact that since its promulgation a childless ruler very rarely adopts in his own lifetime. An heir presumptive, who knows that he is to succeed and who may possibly grow restive if his inheritance is delayed, is for various obscure reasons not the kind of person whom an Oriental ruler cares to see idling about his palace, so that a politic chief oftens prefers leaving the duty of nominating a successor to his widows, who know his mind and have every reason for wishing him long life.’—Sir A. C. Lyall in Law Quarterly Review for October, 1893.
[2 ]One finds something similar to this Land-settlement in the Roman plan of determining the land revenue of a province by what was called the lex provinciae.
[1 ]Rice, however, is sent from Lower Burma into India proper.
[1 ]The total revenue of British India was, in ad 1840, 200,000,000 of rupees, and in 1898-9, 1,014,427,000 rupees, more than a fourth of which was land revenue and less than one-fourth from railways. (The exchange value of the rupee, formerly about two shillings, is now about one shilling and four pence.) £190,000,000 has been expended upon railways in British India and the Native States. The land revenue is somewhat increasing with the bringing of additional land under cultivation. It is estimated that forty-two per cent of the cultivable area is available for further cultivation. The funded debt of India is now £195,000,000, the unfunded about £12,000,000.
[1 ]After the fifth century, Armenians, Isaurians, and Northern Macedonians figure more largely in the Eastern Empire than do natives of the provinces round the Aegaean.
[2 ]Among these exceptions may be mentioned Sir Syed Ahmed of Aligurh, and the late Mr. Justice Trimbak Telang of Bombay, both men of remarkable force and elevation of character.
[1 ]The subahdar, however, is rather a non-commissioned than a commissioned officer, and is not a member of the British officers’ mess.
[2 ]Russia places Musulmans from the Caucasian provinces in high military posts. But she has no army corresponding to the native army in India, and as she has a number of Musulman subjects in European Russia it is all the more natural for her to have a Colonel Temirhan Shipsheff at Aralykh and a General Alikhanoff at Merv.
[1 ]Constantine prohibited the immoral excesses practised by the Syrians of Heliopolis.
[2 ]‘Druidarum religionem apud Gallos dirae immanitatis et tantum civibus sub Augusto interdictam penitus abolevit.’—Sueton, Vita Claud. c. 25.
[1 ]I owe this fact to Sir A. C. Lyall (op. cit. p. 66).
[1 ]There are in India five examining and degree-granting Universities, with about 8,000 matriculated students, nearly all of them taught in the numerous affiliated colleges. The total number of persons returned as receiving instruction in India is 4,357,000, of whom 402,000 are girls.
[1 ]See Ilbert’s Government of India, p. 77.
[2 ]Ibid. p. 91.
[3 ]The number of Hindus in all India is estimated at 207 millions, that of Musulmans at fifty-seven millions, aboriginal races nine millions, Christians two millions.
[1 ]As in Lycaonia; cf. Acts xiv.
[2 ]There is a curious story that when the head of Crassus was brought to the Parthian king a passage from the Bacchae of Euripides was recited by a Greek who was at the Court.
[1 ]Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, and Gujarati.
[1 ]Telugu, Tamil, Kanarese, Malayalam.
[1 ]It is estimated that English is at present spoken by about 115 millions of persons, Russian by 80 millions, German by 70, Spanish by 50, French by 45. Of these English is increasing the most swiftly, Russian next, and then German.
[1 ]The absence of slavery and the existence of Christianity will of course present themselves to every one’s mind as other factors in differentiating the conditions of the modern from those of the Roman world.