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But him. Scattered throughout the
European British subject.
Let us take the facts in the order in which they occurred. Early in 1882 a great criminal procedure code was passed. any necessity existed for the proposed change, then was the time to have proposed it. The whole subject was on the anvil; the attention of the public and the legislature was engrossed by it. code was prepared without a word being heard as to the proposed change. The necessity which is now represented, by way of argument, as urgent, did not occur to
the responsible framers of that code. If any inconvenience had been felt to result from the settlement of 1872 during the ten years which had elapsed, it would have been the duty of the framers of that code to make provision against it. On the contrary, they proposed, with all the authority of the responsible Government, to perpetuate the settlement of 1872. The Act of 1882 was accordingly passed and settled.
What occurred in the interval to render that necessary in 1883 which was overlooked or deliberately disregarded in 1882? During the discussions on the Criminal Procedure Bill, Mr B. L. Gupta, a native member of the civil service, wrote to the Government to repeat the arguments of 1872 against what he termed "the disability under which myself and other Indian members of the service labour." It was put forward as a purely personal claim. The race privileges of the Englishman involved disqualification on the part of five natives, whose number might increase; and on that personal private ground, without regard to the public considerations involved, the claim was put forward.
The next step was that Sir Ashby Eden, the late LieutenantGovernor of Bengal, on the eve of his departure from India, submitted this letter of Mr Gupta's to the attention of the supreme Government. He did so in a document which was so hastily written and ill-considered, that while in part of it he recommended that "the matter should receive full and careful consideration whenever on any future occasion a fitting opportunity occurs,"-in another part of it he declared that "the time has now arrived" when these disabilities should be removed. But the inconsistency would never
have arisen if any urgent necessity or existing administrative inconvenience had been present to his mind.
The next step was, that the proposal was referred as to the principle to the local governments, and came back, generally speaking, stamped with their approval, except in the case of Coorg.
Meanwhile the European community, which had acquiesced in the native magistrates of the Presidency towns being vested with far greater powers (including imprisonment for two years and whipping), thereby showing that their race privilege is not insisted upon when circumstances are not considered to render it essential and desirable to do so, raised their voices in one unanimous and prolonged cry of anger, alarm, and astonishment. The whole subject, after being thoroughly ventilated in the press, and declaimed upon in indignation meetings with of course the usual amount of exaggeration and excitement, came on for discussion in the council of the Viceroy. Very able and well considered arguments were addressed to the council on both sides. We have considered them from the point of view, whether the time has come when, from necessity or motives of administrative convenience or general expediency, the time has come when the European community may be fairly asked to abandon the settlement of 1872 and 1882, and consent to a further deprivation of their race privileges, beyond what was imposed upon them by that settlement, as no longer required for the safety of themselves and their families. Race distinctions must fall as time goes on, and as empire becomes more and more socially welded together. In the meantime every proposed change
must be judged by whether it is opportune, required by circumstances, entitled to a just and generous acceptance by those who are affected by it.
It is fair to investigate the case put forward by the Government with these two uncontradicted facts in our hands. First, that the Government of India did not consider it necessary or expedient to propose any change by their great measure of last year. SecSecondly, that the whole European community, which acquiesced in a similar proposal as regards the Presidency towns, is to a man against it as regards the country at large. We lay great stress upon both those facts. In the first place, the statesmen who frame these codes are men of great experience and knowledge of Indian affairs, aware that the settled policy of Parliament is to do away with race distinctions wherever practicable, sure to be urged on from home along that course of policy. Their abstention therefore last year from proposing this change is most significant. Next, we hold the non-official European community in India, who are composed of all classes, and obviously of enterprising, active, and ambitious members of those classes, or they would not be in a distant country and a hostile climate, in much greater respect than Sir Arthur Hobhouse does. We do
not regard them as fools, because they express themselves twice in half a century in terms of violent indignation, nor do we say that impunity for crime is pleasant to them. They are a law-abiding community, entitled to protection from the criminal classes, and entitled to prefer a European in their midst as the representative of law and order, officially responsible for the maintenance of the Queen's
peace. Their unanimous opinion is, in our judgment, entitled to respectful appreciation from any Government.
What has official opinion, as expressed in the Viceroy's council, to say on the subject? Sir Stuart Bayley has had upwards of thirty years' experience. He has held the office of Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal. In earlier years he had an extensive experience of the lives led by planters in the Mofussil, and he speaks with a full knowledge of the circumstances by which they are surrounded. This is what he says:
"There is another aspect to the case of the opposition, which I think deserves most attentive consideration; and this is the real danger in which the isolated European living in the Mofussil runs from having these false cases trumped up against him. It is right that I should state publicly that this danger is a very real and a very of this council has had the same exserious one; for probably no member perience as I have of the lives led by planters in the Mofussil. My own experience has given me a strong feeling on this matter, and any one who knows anything of the extreme bitterness with which disputes about land the unscrupulous methods to which are fought out in the Mofussil, and recourse is had in conducting those disputes before the court-methods to which a planter cannot have recourse
will understand how precarious his position may become, and how essential to him it is that the law should be well and wisely administered. far, then, as the argument against the Bill is based on a fear that these dangers are perceptibly increased, and that under the new Bill the law will be less well and less wisely administered than at present, I consider the objections deserve a most careful examination."
Sir Stuart Bayley went on to argue that the "small measure now pending," as Sir Arthur Hobhouse calls it, was not nearly so dangerous
as was said, and that its effect had been exaggerated by the fear that it was only a stepping-stone to a larger measure. Far from adopting the tone of Sir Arthur Hobhouse, that this is only the removal of an obstruction to a great policy, a cautious step to a high ideal, he denies altogether that there is any intention to place all Europeans, quoad jurisdiction, on the same footing as natives. We note that he adds that such a proposal would be regarded as "dangerous and uncalled for." He can hardly be surprised if, under all the circumstances, the European community fastens on the grave and serious admission made as to the danger of tampering at all with the present administration of criminal justice, and distrusts the alleged finality of this Bill.
General Wilson, like most military men, was dead against the measure. "I maintain, as I have always maintained, distinct opposition to it; and believing it to be impolitic, I hope it will not become law." But he denounced the unnecessary violence and agitation against it, particularly the advice tendered to the volunteers to resign in a body. The Commander-inChief, on the other hand, "would have been very glad if matters could have been left as they are;" but he had been satisfied by the representations of the Home Department that "it was necessary to remove some of the disabilities of the native members of the civil service;"-in fact, the whole question, from a practical point of view, turns on that. He did not, however, say what the representations were; and we are left to find out for ourselves the real administra
tive inconvenience which it is desirable to remove, at the cost of all this turmoil and excitement, and display of race antagonism. We
must go to Lord Ripon's speech for the most authoritative and the most responsible statement of the grounds on which this measure is proposed. But before doing so, it is necessary to note that the pres ent Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal expressed his "conviction that this measure is unnecessary in the present condition and constitution of the Native Judicial Covenanted Service in Bengal, and that it is inopportune, having regard to the many claims which demand the most cordial relations between the Government and the European community in India." He forebore on that occasion to go fully into the matter, but he added that there were a great many facts that he could bring forward to show that there was no administrative difficulty in connection with the matter.
"No Government," he continued, drawal of legislation in the presence deal with legislation or the withof a popular frenzy. Still I should be wanting in my duty if I failed to press on the Government that I hope that, in their absence of contact with popular feeling, they will not allow themselves to think that the calm which I hope supervene is an indication of apathy or indifference. If it be the opinion of the Government of India that this is a case of temporary excitement which will soon die out, I am sure they are mistaken; for I feel that, in the whole of my experience in India, this is unmistakably the strongest and most united and unanimous expression of public discontent that I have ever known, and that the last state will be worse than the first. I could wish for myself that the Bill could be withdrawn ; and I do so not only for myself, but as expressing the opinion of a great many who have spoken to me on the subject, even though they support the principle of the Bill."
The speech of Lord Ripon was a fair and temperate statement of
the whole case. He evidently was not prepared for the burst of resentment with which the Bill had been received. Some of the most experienced of his council admitted that they had not been prepared for it; and it is quite obvious that it would not have been worth while to encounter it on behalf of so small a measure which raises the maximum of disturbance for the minimum of result. He put his defence of the measure entirely upon the removal of the disqualification of the native judges and magistrates. He instanced two natives who had risen to sufficient status in the service to entitle them to try Europeans, and pointed out that the number must gradually and steadily increase. Times had changed since 1872 in this respect, "that some of these native gentlemen have acquired these important positions, and others will go on rising to them in increasing numbers in coming years." Then he added: "I say, administrative inconvenience has already begun to be felt, and it will increase." In other words, the settlement of 1872, so far as it provided that a European British subject could only be tried by one of his own race, should last only so long as there was no one of any other race in a position to try him. The moment that a native was competent from his position to infringe the settlement, an Act should be passed to enable him to do so. The Act of 1872 remedied the great inconvenience of having to take English prisoners in every case to the Presidency towns. It was an inconvenience which, owing to increased means of communication, diminished every year; but still it was necessary to remedy it, and the English community acquiesced at once. The inconvenience now suggested is, on the high autho
VOL. CXXXIV. NO. DCCCXIII.
rity of Lord Ripon himself, still in the future, and will not be sensibly felt until a large number of natives have attained the necessary position. Till that time, there will always be European magistrates in every district where European crime is likely to occur, or at the very worst in an adjoining district. Lord Ripon evidently felt that the moment he got to the question of administrative inconvenience, he was on very weak ground indeed. accordingly argued that it was wiser to introduce this change now, "when the persons who would obtain the power are very limited in number; when the circumstances under which they enter the civil service insure their ability and character; and when all their proceedings can be carefully watched. Being few in number, it will be easier now than afterwards for the attention of local governments and the public to be directed to their proceedings. I hold it therefore to be wiser to introduce the measure now, gradually, cautiously, and tentatively, than to wait till the change is forced upon us by necessity." He thus gives up the ground of necessity, and even present convenience, and justifies his proposal on the ground that in a future which may be remote it will become necessary, and meanwhile all parties may gradually learn to accommodate themselves thereto. This view involves the theory that the Act of 1872 was a sham, and that the moment it became operative, however faintly, it was to be repealed. wonder that the European community felt that good faith had not been observed, and that the proposal was premature, not to say precipitate. The policy which Parliament and the Crown are pursuing in India may, and probably