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or imprisonment would have far exceeded the supposed fault of Mr. Fair, if it could have been substantiated; but the heaviest punishment in those forms, which he had himself the power of awarding, did not satisfy Sir Charles Chambers; he required that his victim should be banished ten thousand miles from the scene of his occupation. And then a British Governor cannot suffer the commands he has issued to be successfully opposed by an individual, however violent and unjust those commands may be, without weakening a salutary impression of his power. This is "an unanswerable plea," and so it might be thought at Constantinople for the extremes there resorted to in affording aid to authority. This reasoning is in the highest strain of that "Oriental tyranny which it is, or ought to be, our highest boast to have destroyed." It confounds political power, as it is displayed in war and negotiation, which is possessed in the highest degree by the most civilised nations, with that disregard of life and property which is peculiar to barbarous Governments. It expresses sentiments which no English writer would venture to avow, and involves an aberration from the plainest principles of natural justice and sound policy, into which he could not be betrayed, were not the statute-book stained with the enactment which gives to Governors in India the arbitrary power of deporting their countrymen from India to England.
'In a similar strain is the following passage from his speech in the Court of Proprietors :-" It has been said, and it has been repeated to-day, that your empire in India is one of opinion. It is so: but it is not an opinion of your right, but of your power. The inhabitants of India see that limited by laws and regulations, and the spectacle increases their confidence; but show them the person who exercises an authority they deem supreme, braved and defeated by those under him, and the impression which creates the charm will be broken." If the charm were of so frail a nature it must have been broken long ago, or rather must have been broken and renewed a thousand times; for the inhabitants of India have often seen the local Governments distracted by faction, braved by civil and military insubordination, and overruled by a distant and unknown power. They have seen double negotiations conducted, and contradictory treaties concluded, by King's Commissioners, and by the different Presidencies. They have seen authority so divided between the British and Native Government, that "the Native grew uncertain where his obedience was due." They saw Lord Pigot deposed, imprisoned, and die in confinement; the defeats and victories of Warren Hastings, in his contests with the members of his Council, and with the Judges of the Supreme Court; and various mutinies, both among the European officers and sepoys of the Bengal and Madras armies. The charm to which the British owe the origin, advancement, and duration of their power, and the awe which it inspires, is manifestly the superiority of disciplined
well-armed, and well-paid troops, over an undisciplined, ill-armed, and ill-paid rabble. Other causes, resulting from superiority in knowledge and art, have, doubtless, contributed to their influence.
'The argument derived from the supposed fragility of the charm, and from the ambiguity in the word "power," is not only unfounded in fact, but inapplicable to the question, inasmuch as editors of newspapers, and other publishers, are not persons "under a governor. They are not in the exercise of official duties, nor capable of giving offence by erroneous, negligent, corrupt, or contumacious conduct. If subordinate functionaries obstruct public business by such misconduct, the consequences, wherever the fault lies, may be highly inconvenient; but, if a Governor goes out of his way to attack a private individual, if all his grandeur availeth him nothing, so long as he sees Mordecai the Jew sitting at the King's gate, if he would employ force to destroy the fortune and banish the person of an innocent man, it is fit that he should be defeated. But, if there were not a fatal snare in the law, no Governor would commit himself in so odious a conflict; and then the inhabitants of India would be spared the sight of his unseemly defeat, or the still more shameful spectacle of his success.
'Except in India, the press is free wherever a British Government exists in Ireland, while every other restriction was heaped on that oppressed country;-in Canada, where the mass of the inhabitants inherited the religion and laws of France;-in the West Indies, where nine-tenths of the population are slaves ;-in New South Wales, where a great portion of it consists of convicts, or of those who by time or pardon have become emancipated. More plausible objections might have been raised against its introduction into all those countries than into India. With respect to the two extremes, Ireland and the West Indies, it might have been said that, in the former, the inhabitants were too intelligent, and too nearly on an equality with other British subjects, to be trusted with the use of such powerful means, as a free press would be in their hands, of reclaiming the few privileges from which they were excluded; and that, in the latter, the vast majority of the inhabitants were depressed and degraded by so many and so severe disabilities, that no discussion of them could be permitted, with safety, to the ruling minority. In India the Natives occupy a middle position, equally removed from the intelligence and immunities of the Irish, and from the ignorance and servitude of the Negroes. But, because the English residents in India are not strong enough to extort the repeal of an arbitrary prerogative, it is pretended that the good of India "needs a mixture of some principles happily uncongenial to England," though such mixtures may have been found too congenial to the ideas and tempers of English magistrates and statesmen until controlled by law.
"The tendency of unrestrained discussion is to attach the people
to a system of government, under which they enjoy so reasonable and agreeable a mode of making known their grievances, of exhaling their discontent, of appealing to the sympathies of their fellow subjects, and to the wisdom and generosity of their rulers. It also affords to Government the advantage, which by no other means can be obtained, of ascertaining the opinions and feelings which are from time to time prevalent in the country, without which knowledge the grounds of its proceedings must always be defective, and may sometimes be irretrievably erroneous. Compared with the clear and comprehensive view which is thus obtained of the state of popular feeling, the information which can be drawn from spies is worse than useless: they misrepresent and exaggerate the little that they discover, and afford delusive hopes of the general predominance of tranquillity, satisfaction, and allegiance. It appears, however, to Sir John Malcolm, that "we could give the Brahmins, and others of the instructed classes of India, no weapon which they would know better how to use against us than a free press. Their efforts would be chiefly directed to corrupt our Native soldiery, who are neither insensible to their own consequence, nor inobservant of the depressed scale on which they serve:" and he mentions "inflammatory papers in the form of proclamations, letters, and prophecies, directed to the subversion of the British power," of which "there has been, for the last thirty-five years, a most active circulation :" but, from the difficulty of multiplying copies, and the fear of detection, confined to particular parts of the country,' as "an earnest of the dangers to be apprehended from the printed tracts and papers which might be expected from a free press."
'If such papers are circulated, they are unaccompanied by any calculated to counteract their evil qualities; but they could not be printed, under the freedom that is contended for, without greater liability to detection and punishment, and without being infinitely outnumbered by publications of an opposite tendency. It is without example in any age or country that plans to subvert a Government should be carried on through the medium of the press. The productions of the press are invariably directed against specific abuses in the Administration, or in the frame of the Government; they address themselves openly to the understanding, interests, and passions of the whole nation, and succeed or fail in proportion to the number and weight of the persons whose minds they influence. But conspiracies are begotten and nourished in secrecy, and managed by instruments and methods altogether different. Conspirators communicate by means of messengers and cyphers, and use the utmost circumspection in selecting those to whom they may think it prudent to disclose their purposes. But, according to Sir John Malcolm, a free Native press "could only be used towards one object-that of our destruction." The papers now secretly circulated "depict the English as usurpers of low caste, and tyrants
who have songht India with no view but that of degrading the inhabitants, and of robbing them of their wealth, while they seek to subvert their usages and their religion." The Native soldiery are always appealed to, and the advice to them is, in all instances he has met with, the same-" Your European tyrants are few in number,— murder them!" A free press, he insists, would afford greater, nay unbounded, facilities for the dissemination of such sentiments and the furtherance of such projects; as if imprisonment for libel, and even transportation, were things unheard of and unknown to the law of England. And all the circumstances which generate the mattér of sedition, which occasion the active circulation and greedy reception of these libels, and enable them to "keep up a spirit which places us always in danger,”—all these perilous circumstances he would carefully preserve in their present condition. That the English should continue to stand in those relations towards the Natives which give colour and verisimilitude to their being represented as "low-caste usurpers, and as tyrants who seek India with no view but that of degrading the inhabitants, and of robbing them of their wealth," is a policy which, however contrary to reason and experience, he justifies by reference to the indescribable and inconceivable peculiarity of those ties by which we hold India, the true character of which it is given only to a few chosen vessels to understand and that the Native soldiery should never cease to be accessible to such seditious incitements, but be retained for ever in their present state of depression, is also a doctrine which he maintains by the same compendious argument. All his care is to feed the disease and to exclude the antidote.
'If papers of the tenour described abound, they will, no doubt, be dispersed most profusely when disaster has befallen, or seems impending, "from the occurrence of misfortune to our arms, from rebellion in our provinces, or from mutiny in our troops." It has been well observed, that, in arbitrary Governments, where no intercourse subsists between the executive power and the people, where the latter have no insight into the proceedings of the state, but are left to judge, merely from the event, how far they might have been wisely designed or honestly conducted, it is not surprising that they should consider every failure as a crime, and demand a victim for every disaster. But in free and enlightened states, where the people go, as it were, hand in hand with their representatives, and their representatives with the ministers, through every stage of a proceeding, they certainly do not wait for the event before they stamp it with their approbation, and certainly do not insist upon punishing those who had the conduct of an expedition, while they can assign reasons to themselves in exculpation of a failure.' Until the materials for constituting a Representative Government in India exist, the unfettered working of the press would afford a medium for maintaining a highly useful intercourse between the executive power and
the people, whence they could obtain an insight into the proceedings of the state, and be enabled to go hand in hand with those who administer the Government through all the stages of their measures. To that instrument peculiarly belong those animating and healing properties which invigorate and adorn prosperity, while they supply fortitude and consolation in adversity.
'I have argued this point on the supposition that papers instigating to rebellion and massacre are secretly circulated to the extent asserted, and endeavoured to show that they afford no foundation for the inferences deduced. But the reader will, perhaps, agree with me in requiring further evidence in support of the facts, when he considers that, of the many Englishmen who have had equal opportunities of observation during so many years, no one had the fortune or dexterity to discover this incessant secret warfare, except Sir John Malcolm; and that he never divulged it till 1824, though he had paid particular attention to it during twenty-five years, that is, since 1799. Even when examined by the House of Commons, in 1813, when it must have been an object of his particular attention for fourteen years, he not only did not say that he considered the Brahmins, and other educated Hindoos, to be actuated by the most hostile feelings, and eager to seize every opportunity to spread discontent and excite rebellion, but he said nearly the reverse, viz. "I certainly conceive that the attachment of the HINDOO population is the chief source of our security in India." So far was he from professing to have been, during fourteen years, an attentive observer of what had escaped the search of every other person so far was he from pretending to have had access to peculiar sources of information, and to have penetrated into the most secret recesses of Hindoo machinations against British authority, that he said:-"There is, even among Europeans in India the best acquainted with their language and manners, so little of that intimate intercourse with the body of the Natives, which could alone lead to a precise knowledge of their real sentiments upon points of Government, that it is very difficult for any person to say more than that they are apparently contented, because they remain quiet; and that the leniency of the rule, and the general system of our administration, is such as should place us high in the scale of the Governments to which they have been accustomed, and with which they can draw any comparison. Do you think, or not, that the majority of the Hindoo population are contented with the British sway at present? I have answered that question, as far as I am able, in what I stated above: they appear to be so."*
Colonel (now Sir Thomas) Munro's answer to a similar question was as follows:- Do you not think that the whole population of India, under the British sway, is at present submissive and apparently contented?-I think the great mass of the population is certainly both submissive and contented, both apparently and in reality; but there are