H. Caldwell Lipsett.

Lord Curzon in India : 1898-1903 online

. (page 1 of 8)
Online LibraryH. Caldwell LipsettLord Curzon in India : 1898-1903 → online text (page 1 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


B 4 302 13S


ikS3 3 ~~ 1903

I.Caldwell Lipsett

Xocb Curson in 3nbia


A Son of A\ars. By Major Arthur Griffiths, Author of

"Chronicles of Newgate," etc. 3s. 6d.

In Royal Colours. a Story of the Coronation Derby. By
Nat Gould. 3s. 6d.

A Sportswoman's Love Letters. Fourth Edition. By Fox

Russell, Author of " Colonel Botcherby," " Outridden," etc. 3s. 6d.

Richard Brice. Adventurer. By Charles Junor, Author

of " Dead Men's Tales," etc. 6s.

The Daughters of Job. By "Darley Dale," Author of

" The Village Blacksmith," etc. 6s.

The Viking Strain, a Realistic Novel. By A. G. Hales, War

Correspondent, Author of " Campaign Pictures," etc. Illustrated by Stanley
L. Wood. 6s.

Thomas AssheTON Smith; or the Reminiscences of a Famous

Fox Hunter. By Sir J. E. Eardley-Wilmot, Bart.
A New Edition with an Introduction by Sir Herbert Maxwell, M.P. Illus-
trated with numerous Engravings. 6s.

A Frontier Officer. By H. Caldwell Lipsett. 3s. 6d.

O Duchess! a Trivial Narrative. By W. R. H. Trowbridge,
Author of " Letters of her Mother to Elizabeth," " The Grandmother's Advice
to Elizabeth," etc. is.

Round the World with a Aillionaire. By Basil Tozer.


On the Promenade Deck. By Torin Blair, Author of

" Epaulettes," " Belinda," etc. is.

Camp Fire Sketches. By A. G. Hales, War Correspondent,
Author of " Campaign Pictures," " The Viking Strain," etc. is.

Two Fools. By G. B. Burgin, Author of "The Cattle Boat,"
" A Goddess of Gray's Inn," etc. is. iln preparation.

A Girl IN London. ByJoHN Strange Winter, i^.un preparation.

" Why I Don't." A Series of Humorous Sketches by Welleslev
Pain (brother of the well-known humorist, Barry Pain), is. \_In preparation.

A HE^fJ Comic EnCYCLOF/EDIA. Written and Illustrated by
Archibald Chasemore. is. [/« preparation.

Free Pardon. By Reginald Barnett. is.

The Twillford AVystery. By G. Firth Scott, Author of

" The Last Lemurian," etc. is. [/« preparation.

The /Malefactors. By Charles Rawdon Blair, Author of

" Adventures on a Houseboat," etc. is.

Complete Catalogue on application

Photo hy Elliott &- Fry



Lord Curzon in




author of

"where the atlantic meets the land,"

*'a frontier officer," etc.

With an Appendix containing Lord Curzon's Speech
justifying the Delhi Durbar.





jJ^ { l rights risei'ved.']


I r-




I. Lord Curzon's Aims .... i

II. Russia, Afghanistan and Persia . . 12

III. The Independent Tribes ... 29

IV. The New Frontier Province 45
V. Famine Administration .... 54

VI. Irrigation and Railways ... 70

VII. British Rule in India .... 82

viii. Miscellaneous Reforms . . . gS

IX. The Best Viceroy since Lord Lawrence 109

Appendix — Lord Curzon's Speech on

THE Delhi Durbar . . . . 119


H.E. THE Right Honourable Lord Curzon

OF Kedleston (Viceroy of India) Frontispiece


The Lady Curzon of Kedleston and her
Children, the Hon. Mary Irene and
the Hon. Cynthia Blanche . . facing 32

Map of the Mahsud Waziri Country . . 41

Waiting for Death (a Scene in a Native

State) facing ^d,

Lord Curzon in India



Lord Curzon of Kedleston is at once one of
the youngest and most successful Viceroys that
ever guided the destinies of our Indian Empire.
His selection for so high an office at the early
age of thirty -nine was a universal surprise.
Lord Dalhousie, who assumed the same post
at the age of thirty-six, was his only pre-
decessor of fewer years. But Lord Curzon
has amply vindicated the claims of youth to
be the time of courage and initiative, of high
ideals and strenuous performance ; and now at
the end of the first four out of his five years'


term of office he has won for himself the
reputation of an able and conscientious adminis-
trator second to none in the Empire.

The great Coronation Durbar at Delhi, which
is to be held on January 1st, which the Duke
of Connaught attends as the representative of
the Royal Family, which has attracted a
considerable portion of the English aristocracy
to India, and at which Lord Kitchener will
hold a review of the Indian army as its
Commander-in-Chief, has drawn the eyes of the
Empire to India at the present moment, and
has thrown a blaze of light on the good work
which its Viceroy has been quietly doing for
years past. Unless some entirely unforeseen
occurrence arises, the present ceremony must
prove the culmination and the crowning moment
of Lord Curzon's Indian career. His remaining
year of office can only be spent in winding up
the threads which have already been prepared.
Therefore a better opportunity than the present
could not be conceived for examining the results
of his enormous and untiring industry.


Lord Curzon, as is well-known, passed through
a searching preparation for his present post, and
one that was apparently designed in especial
for that particular end. Though a comparative
stripling, he was not new either to office or to
the East when he took over the rulership of the
300 millions of our Indian Empire. The son
of Lord Scarsdale, the Vicar of Kedleston,
Derbyshire, he passed through a brilliant career
at Eton and Balliol. To a first in Mods, he
added the Lothian and Arnold prize essays,
and eventually a Fellowship at All Souls. The
office of President of the Union prepared him
for his later labours in the House of Commons.
On leaving the University he went in for an
extensive course of Eastern travel, in the course
of which he visited Central Asia, Persia,
Afghanistan, the Pamirs, Siam, Indo-China and
Korea. His knowledge of several of these
countries has since been of use to him in his
official position. His first publication, Russia in
Central Asia, was produced in 1889. In the
autumn of the same year he went to Persia as


Special Correspondent to the Times, and three
years later issued his monumental work upon
that country. While in Persia he formed strong
opinions on the Persian Gulf problem and the
question of railways in Persia, which have
sensibly affected the foreign policy of India
during the past few years.

In addition to Nasr-ed-Din, the late Shah
of Persia, Lord Curzon also became personally
known to Abdur Rahman, the late Amir of
Afghanistan, who gave the following interest-
ing pen - picture of his visitor in his auto-
biography : — *

" I received a letter from the Right Honourable
Mr George Curzon (now Lord Curzon), saying
that as he was travelling towards Chitral and
the Pamirs, and was anxious to make my
acquaintance, he would wait for my permission
to come and see me. I accordingly invited him,
and he was my guest at Kabul for a few days.
Several friendly conversations took place
between us, for though he did not understand
Persian, and I did not understand English, we
were able to communicate through Mir Munshi

* The Life of Abdur Eahman. London: John Murray.


(the private secretary). From these conver-
sations he appeared to be a very genial, hard-
working, well - informed, experienced, and
ambitious young man. He was witty and full
of humour, and we often laughed at his amusing
stories. Though Mr Curzon's visit was a
private and friendly one, and not in any way
in an official capacity, yet still we touched upon
and discussed all the important affairs of my
Government. The special topics of conversation
were as to the north-west frontier of Afghanistan,
and as to my successor to the throne."

The long-expected crisis of this very succes-
sion occurred during Lord Curzon's term of
office as Viceroy.

While these travels were yet unfinished, Lord
Curzon entered Parliament, winning his first
seat, that of the Southport division of Lancashire,
from the Liberals, and holding it for twelve
years. Upon his resignation the Liberals again
acquired it. In the House he rapidly made his
mark, becoming in turn Assistant Private
Secretary to Lord Salisbury, Under Secretary
of State for India, and Under Secretary of State


for Foreign Affairs. In the last two posts he
acquired an invaluable familiarity with the
affairs of India, and the international politics of
Europe. His parliamentary reputation is still
fresh in men's minds. His ability was univers-
ally recognised, while his somewhat superior
manner made him enemies, as it has since done
in India. The surprise occasioned by his
appointment as Viceroy was as much due to
the interruption of a promising career in home
politics as to Lord Curzon's youth and lack of
administrative experience. But it is safe to
say that this fresh departure was as fortunate
an experiment for Lord Curzon himself as for
the Empire at large. He proved himself the
man for the post at an anxious time in our
national affairs, and by so doing increased his
reputation more even than if he had remained
at the centre of attention at home.

Thus forged into a fine weapon by his experi-
ences, Lord Curzon entered upon the charge of
our Indian Empire. He took up the task with
a full recognition of his responsibilities, of the


greatness of his duties, and of his opportunities.
At the dinner given to him by his old Etonian
schoolfellows before he left London, he quoted
the words of Carlyle : —

"I have sometimes thought what a thing it
would be could the Queen in Council pick out
some gallant-minded, stout Cadet, and say to him,
' Young fellow, if there do lie in you potentialities
of governing, of gradually guiding, leading, and
coercing to a noble goal, how sad it is they should
be all lost. See, I have scores on scores of
colonies. One of these you shall have as vice-
king. Co you and buckle with it in the name
of Heaven, and let us see what you will build
it to.'"

Lord Curzon has had the opportunity of
Carlyle's imaginary Cadet, and has used it to
show that he had in him the potentialities of
governing, and that it would indeed have been
a pity had those potentialities been wasted. But
to this forecast of his own career Lord Curzon
added a picture of what the ideal Viceroy should


" What then (he asked) is the conception of his
duty that an out-going Viceroy should set before
himself ? I have no new or startling definition
to give, but the light in which it presents itself,
to my mind, is this. It is his duty, first and fore-
most, to represent the authority of the Queen-
Empress, whose name, revered more than the
name of any other living sovereign by all races
and classes from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas,
is in India both a bond of union and the symbol
of power; and to associate with the personal
attributes that cling about that name the con-
viction that the justice of her Government is
inflexible, that its honour is stainless, and that its
mercy is in proportion to its strength. Secondly,
he should try to remember that all those people
are not the sons of our own race, or creed, or
clime, and that it is only by regard for their
feelings, by respect for their prejudices — I will
even go so far as to say by deference to their
scruples — that we can obtain the acquiescence as
well as the submission of the governed. Thirdly,
his duty is to recognise that, though relatively
far advanced in the scale of civilisation compared
with the time of Lord Wellesley, or even Lord
Canning, India is still but ill-equipped with the
national and industrial and educational resources
which are so necessary to her career, and so to


work that she may by slow but sure degrees
expand to the full measure of her growth. And
lastly, it is to preserve intact and secure, either
from internal convulsion, or external inroad, the
boundaries of that great and Imperial dominion."

How has Lord Curzon realised this ideal of his
own creation ? He has upheld the dignity of the
Sovereign with a perception of the effect which
regal pomp has upon the Oriental imagination,
that is exemplified by this very Durbar. For his
consideration of the native population let a Hindu
prince speak : —

" We have never (said this native magnate) had
a Viceroy so anxious to learn the real wishes of
the children of the soil, so scrupulous in giving a
patient hearing to their grievances, so full of
schemes for the development of the resources of
the Empire, so firmly resolved to leave India, at
the conclusion of his term of office, a better, a
more contented, and a more prosperous land than
he found it."

Even allowing for the Oriental desire to please
in these words, there is still left a large sub-


stratum of truth. Famine has greatly handi-
capped India during the past four years; but
Lord Curzon has done what in him lay to en-
courage and develop the resources of the country.
Under the fourth and final head his work has been,
perhaps, the most diflScult, though least obtrusive.
Three years ago India was called upon to save
South Africa for the Empire by sending the first
reinforcement of 6000 men to Natal ; and almost
ever since she has been upwards of 10,000 men
short of her proper garrison. It is hardly too
much to say that the single personality of Lord
Curzon has supplied the place of those 10,000
British soldiers ; that by his mingled moderation
and firmness he has prevented all manifestation
of unrest within the boundaries of Hindustan, and
so discounted the danger of affording any en-
couragement to our watchful enemies beyond its

Turning now to the details of his government,
in his second Budget speech, delivered in March
1901, Lord Curzon gave a list of twelve important
reforms, which it had been his intention ever since


he came to India to carry into effect. The follow-
ing is the complete list : —

(1.) A stable Frontier Policy.

(2.) The creation of the new Frontier Province.

(3.) A Reform of the Transfer and Leave Rules
in the Indian Civil Service.

(4.) A diminution of Report Writing.

(5.) A stable Rate of Exchange in the Currency

(6.) The increase of Railways.

(7.) The encouragement of Irrigation.

(8.) A cure for Agricultural Indebtedness.

(9.) A reduction of the Telegraphic Rate be-
tween India and Europe.

(10.) The preservation of Archaeological Remains.

(11.) Educational Reform.

(12.) Police Reform.

This list covers practically the whole field of
Lord Curzon's activity, and in the subsequent
chapters of this book it will be shown what he
has done to carry out these ideals also.



India is surrounded on three sides by the sea, and
on the other by what Lord Rosebery has called a
" cactus hedge " of mountains. It is one of the
manifold duties of the Viceroy to see that this
hedge is not pierced from outside by the enemies
of the Empire. Incidentally also the hedge itself
occasionally requires trimming. Its inhabitants, the
independent tribes, though useful as a defence, are
sometimes troublesome as neighbours. On the other
side of the hedge are four countries, Thibet, Asiatic
Russia, ^Afghanistan and Persia, from only one of
which, Russia of course, is an invasion of British
India to be feared.

Starting on the extreme north-east with the
Thibetan border, invasion is practically impossible
from this quarter. There have been rumours



lately of a Ru.ssian treaty with Thibet ; but even
if the whole country fell into the hands of Russia,
that would not matter to us. Thibet is a poor
country, commercially unprofitable, and the roads
across the border are mere mountain tracks,
difficult enough for the individual traveller and
impossible for an army. Similarly across the
Pamirs, near Gilgit, the only point at which
Russian territory is actually conterminous with
British, we have nothing to fear beyond the possi-
bility of a few dribblets penetrating into Kashmir.
At Chitral no menace to India itself is involved ;
but if we had not occupied that small State,
Russia would have done so, and would thus have
come in direct contact with the turbulent tribes
upon our border, and have been in a position to
foment trouble among them.

Afghanistan has hitherto been regarded as the
weak spot in our defences. Every invasion of
India from the north, known to history, has come
through Afghanistan and that gate of India, the
Khyber Pass. But the conditions of modern war-
fare have changed many things, and Afghanistan


should now be an easy country to defend. Its
inhabitants are fierce and fanatical, and before
their resistance to a Russian advance was over-
come, the British army would have time to choose
the most favourable position to meet the invader.
According to modern military science our best
position is the Kabul-Kandahar line. Kabul com-
mands all the passes that debouch from the north,
and it is only seventy miles from our outposts near
Peshawar. Similarly Kandahar blocks the
Russian line of advance from Kushk through
Herat to Quetta, and is only seventy miles from
our railway terminus at New Chaman.

The Russian railway terminus at Kushk is about
the same distance from Herat. There are about
400 miles between Herat and Kandahar; thus
Russia would have little more than time to seize
Herat before we could occupy both Kabul and
Kandahar and check her advance. It is practi-
cally certain that if Russia should ever invade
Afghanistan the British army also would cross
our border and advance to meet her. For political
reasons we could not afford to wait inactive on


our frontier and risk a rising in the interior of India.
But the Boer War has shown that modern arms of
precision have so increased the advantages of the
defending side that the 100,000 men we could pour
across the border at the threat of danger would be
able to deal with any Russian army that survived
the difficulties of commissariat and transport across
the Afghan mountains.

At the extreme western end of the line
comes Persia, which has been gradually rising
in international importance of recent years.
From her present base in this direction Russia
could not possibly attack India. In addition
to the whole width of Persia there are
500 miles of Baluchistan between the
Russian frontier and Quetta. But Russia's
policy of insidious but unresting advance is
too familiar for us to rest easy upon that score.
Recent history seems to show that she is
now directing her attention to acquire complete
control of Persia and^ its railways. With a line
of rail up to the Baluchistan border, the
granaries of Khurasan and Seistan behind


her, and only the Baluch desert between her
and Qaetta, Russia would be in a very different
position to that which she at present occupies,
and the physical features of the country lay
India more open to attack at this point than
anywhere else along the whole line of our
north-west frontier.

Turning to the internal condition of the two
countries which form " buffer States " between
us and Russia, Lord Curzon's term of office has
been signalised by the occurrence of an event
in Afghanistan which had long been anticipated
by students of Central Asian politics as likely
to provoke a crisis in the antagonism between
us and Russia. That was the death of Abdur
Rahman, the strong but cruel ruler, whom we
recognised as Amir when after the second
Afghan War he showed himself able to hold the
throne against all comers. So long as Abdur
Rahman lived the policy of preserving Afghanistan
in its entirety was both obvious and simple.
The wily old Amir was not entirely loyal to
us. He was not averse to causing us annoyance


when he wished to display his own power, for
instance by writing his book, the Takwim-ud-din
preaching a jehad against the infidels, or by
encouraging the Afridi mullahs to stir up the
tribes against us. But he was too good a
judge of his own interests to intrigue deeply
with Russia. As his autobiography shows, he
knew very well that in the last result our interest
is to preserve Afghanistan and Russia's is to
dismember it. A weaker or less crafty ruler
may not recognise that point so clearly. But
that is not all. Afghanistan is a mere aggrega-
tion of provinces; it is, like India, China, or
Asiatic Russia, rather a geographical tract of
country inhabited by different and alien tribes
than a homogeneous nation. Herat was only
annexed to the Afghan kingdom in the last
year of Dost Mahomed's life, Balkh and the
rest of Turkestan two or three years earlier,
Kandahar not long before that. The different
provinces are only held together by the single
thread of a man's life. Afghanistan is a
" one man Power." Consequently there was


the danger that, if Abdur Rahman's successor
did not prove as strong a man as himself, Kabul,
Kandahar, Ghazni, Herat, the Hazareh high-
lands, those of the Aimaks and the Usbeg
provinces along the Oxus might all fall to
pieces and disintegrate. Abdur Rahman v^as
too wary and suspicious openly to appoint
his successor during his own lifetime ; but
short of that he did all that he could to
secure the succession of his eldest son,
Habibullah Khan. During the last years of
his life he gave Habibullah complete control of
the domestic affairs of the kingdom, and chose
him wives from all the most influential families
in the country. These measures proved un-
expectedly successful ; and though Habibullah is
not as strong a man as his father, he has held
the throne of Afghanistan now for a year, which
is no mean feat. But as Abdur Rahman chose
the moment to die when we were at war in
South Africa, and India was denuded of all
available troops, we may be sure that Lord
Curzon had some anxious moments.


It is only within the last month we have
learnt that Russia took the hitherto unex-
ampled step of applying to the British Govern-
ment to be allowed to enter into direct relations
with Afghanistan. The request, it is true, was
confined to "frontier matters," and Lord Cran-
borne, in his reply, as stated in the House of
Commons on October 21st last, strictly limited the
possibility of intercourse to such questions as must
frequently arise between two countries who have
a conterminous border. Regarded on the surface
this is a natural request, and might be taken as a
corollary to the Russo- Afghan Boundary Commis-
sion. But on the Continent it is generally regarded
as a veiled demand for a representative at Kabul.
Now we ourselves have not a representative at
Kabul, merely an unaccredited native agent, and
we certainly cannot allow to Russia a concession
we have not asked for ourselves. Besides, it was
this very subject of British versus Russian repre-
sentatives at Kabul that gave rise to the second
Aforhan War. It was because Shere Ali received
a Russian mission under General Stoleteff, and


immediately afterwards refused to allow a British
mission uuder Sir Neville Chamberlain and Sir
Louis Cavagnari to pass through the Khyber, that
Lord Lytton commenced military operations against

Moreover, the moment chosen by Russia to
make the demand was most significant. Lord
Cranborne stated in the House, on October
29th, that the Russian note was dated February
6th, 1900. Let us just consider the condition
of affairs in South Africa at that moment.
Ladysmith was being besieged. Our defeat at
Spion Kop had occurred only a fortnight before
on January 24th, and it was not till a week
later, on February 13th, that Lord Roberts
began his turning movement on the Modder
River. Three weeks after the receipt of the
Russian note, Cronje was captured, Ladysmith
was relieved, the tide of war had turned in
our favour, and Russia had missed her oppor-
tunity. But the choice of such a moment to
make such a demand showed a very obvious
desire to profit by our embarrassments.


Persia is in much the same distracted state as
Afghanistan. Like Abdur Rahman, the late Shah,
Nasr-ed-Din, was a strong and far-sighted ruler.
He knew better than to allow Russian influence
to obtain a hold upon his country ; but the present

1 3 4 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryH. Caldwell LipsettLord Curzon in India : 1898-1903 → online text (page 1 of 8)