Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

England under Gladstone, 1880-1885 online

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cases, the latter introducing many striking changes into the
legal system.

The Tramways and Public Companies BOl was a measure
of considerable importance to Ireland, only second in value,
according to Mr. Parnell, to the Land Act and the Arrears Act.
Its main object was the promotion of tramways in Ireland, but it
also aimed at a^^sisting emigration, and at extending some of the
provisions of the Land Act to public companies. Emigration
was exceedingly unpopular with the Irish pai'ty and with the
Irish people, and a system of migi'ation from an overcrowded
pai't of Ireland into thinly populated districts was advocated by
INIr. Parnell and his followers. Unexpected difficulties, indeed,
had arisen against the emigration schemes of the Government.
The United States proved to be as unwilling to receive pauper
emigrants as the Australian colonies had once been to receive
convicts. America simply refused to receive emigi-ants whose
presence would prove a burden on the country ; some emigrants
were actually sent back, and notifications were addressed to all
the steam companies warning them that the landing of paupers
was prohibited. In Ireland, too, public opinion was strongly
against emigration. The Boman Catholic bishops joined in a
resolution protesting against it and warmly advocating migra-
tion. In the end the Government agreed to use some portion
of the sum set apai-t for emigration for the furtherance of

The Irish Labourers' Bill, introduced by Mr. T. P. O'Connor,
empowered the sanitary authorities in rural districts to provide
dwellings for laboui'ers by means of Treasury loans, and with
the assistance of the Board of "Works. Another measure affect-
ing Ireland, the Sea Fisheries Bill, which proposed to encoiu-age
Irish fisheries by building piers and harbours by means of money
advanced from the Irish Church Surplus Fund, was passed early
in August.

The Indian Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, better


known as the Ilbert Bill, was wildly agitating Indian and
Anglo-Indian society, and tlie agitation was soon as keen in
London as in Calcutta. In the January of 1882 Mr. B. L.
Gupta, a distinguished native official of the Bengal Civil Service,
pointed out the injustice of the existing law, by which native
magistrates and sessions judges were forbidden to try Euro-
peans except in the Presidency towns. The Indian Govern-
ment, after inquiring into the matter, decided that the law
called for alteration, and the result was Mr. Ilbert's Bill. Mr.
Ilbert's Bill proposed to extend the power of trying Europeans
to all justices of the peace, whether European or native. The
Bill aroused the wildest indignation in the Anglo-Indian com-
munity. Had Mr. Ilbert's proposal been to revive the East
India Company, or to restore the kingdom of Delhi to the last
descendant of the Grand Mogul, it could not have aroused a
fiercer or more angry opposition. Its sujDporters came to the
rescue of the imperilled measure with equal vehemence ; and
India and England were alike agitated on public platforms and
in the press by the fiercest controversy that had stirred India
since the days of the Mutiny.

What the Bill proposed to do was not veiy daring. Its
opponents habitually spoke of it as if it were about to concede
for the first time to Indian natives the right to try European
settlers, and as if the concession involved with it the ruin of
the Indian Empire. As a matter of fact, native judges already
possessed, in the Presidency towns, the right of trying EurojDean
ofienders, and the Ilbert Bill only proposed to extend this exist-
ing privilege into other portions of the Indian Empire. It is
clear that existing civilisation will no longer tolerate the govern-
ment of an empire like India on the good old-fashioned principle
which gave everything into the hands of the white adventurer,
and reduced the people of the country to a condition of practical
servitude. The opponents of the Bill, however, even wi.en
they were willing to concede theoretically the right of the
Hindoo to equality with the European, contested that practi-
cally the application of the theory would not work at present,
In the Presidency towns, perhaps, where all legal proceedings


were carried on in full publicity, and where injustice of any
kind could be easily detected, it was allowable to have Euro-
peans tried by native judges. But in distant country districts
there could be no such surety against injustice. The Indian
mind was not yet, the opponents of the Bill gravely urged,
awakened to that fine spirit of equity which is so characteristic
of English rule in India, and a^l sorts of injustice to Europeans
might confidently be expected if British subjects in Hindostan
were deprived of their time-honoured privilege of trial by British
subjects, and handed over to the corrupt mercies of a Hindoo

For months the agitation went on, and the clamour against
the Bill increased. The Indian Government made a fresli
effort to complete the expression of opinion from all the various
local authorities. Koughly speaking, all native Indian ofiicials
were in favour of the measure ; the majority of European
officials were opposed to it ; a very large proportion were in
favour of some modification of its principles. The Bill was then
referred to a select committee, which introduced several im-
portant amendments as the means of effecting a compromise
between the out-and-out supporters of the Bill and the Anglo-
Indian Defence Association, The new amendments, while re-
cognising the general principle of the measure, introduced one
or two alterations intended as safeguards for European interests.
The old Eux'opean privilege of being judged by Europeans alone
was removed, but in its place a new privilege was created, by
which a European charged before a district magistrate or before
a sessions court would have the right to require a jury, of which
not less than one-half should consist of Europeans, or Americans,
or both. Although this compromise brought the question of
race distinction more prominently forward than ever, and though
it invested Europeans with an important privilege not allowed
to natives, it was accepted by the Legislative Council, and the
measure became law in January 1884. The Maharajah of
Durbungah expressed his regret that the new privilege had not
been extended to natives; Mr. Evans, on behalf of the opponents
of the Bill, declared that they still refused to recognise its so-called


'principle,' and hatl only accepted a settlement for tlie sake of
peace ; Lord Ripon closed tlie debate, declaring that the natives
had lost nothing, and had gained the vindication of a great

Another important Indian measure was the Bengal Tenancy
Bill, based on the recommendations of the Bengal Rent Com-
mission appointed in 1879, This Bill was practically the first
important attempt to define the relative rights of zemindars
and cultivators in the most populous Indian provinces. The
struggles between the ryots or labourers and the zemindars or
landlords, which occupy so large a space in the history of
British India, are practically a repetition on Indian soil of the
landlord and tenant difiiculty of Ireland, and the Bengal
Tenancy Bill is in some measure the fellow of the Irish Land
Act of 1880. It proposes on the one hand to give reasonable
security to the tenant in the enjoyment and occupation of his
land, and on the other hand to afiord the landlord reasonable
facilities for the settlement and recovery of his rent.

A difficult question in connection with the Australian
colonies arose in 1883. This was the formal annexation on
the part of the Government of Queensland of the island of New
Guinea. For years the Australian colonies had been anxious
to secure the authority of England in New Guinea and in the
islands of New Britain, New Ireland, and the Solomon and
Santa Cruz Islands, which lie eastward of New Guinea, as
they urged that the occupation of these islands by any foreign
Power would be injm^ous to themselves and to the trade of
Great Britain. The English Government were quite willing to
see these annexations carried out in 1875, if the Australian
colonies could agree to act together; but this common agree-
ment was wanting, and the scheme for the time fell through.
In the March of 1883, however, the Government of Queensland
decided to act on its own responsibility, without the assistance
of the other Australasian Legislatures. Alarmed by rumours
of possible annexation by France or Germany, Queensland took
the bold step of sending an agent to New Guinea to hoist the
British flag at Fort JMoresby. This act was declared null and



void by the Home Government, as one out of tlie powers of a
colonial Government. The disallowment roused a strong dis-
play of public feeling in all the Australian colonies. In the
words of Admmistrator Sir A. H. Palmei', of Queensland, it
was ' undoubtedly the opinion throughout the whole of the
Australian colonies that Great Britain should be supreme,
and have no rival in the Southern Pacific' Mr. Service, the
Premier of Victoria, wrote to express the profound regret
of his Government at the decision of the Home authorities,
'a regret Avhich I do not hesitate to say is echoed by the
Governments and people of Australia. It has been a serious
and irreparable error to allow of French intrusion amongst us
in Kew Caledonia.' Mr. Service went on to say, ' For New
Caledonia has been constituted a penal settlement, and the
ex2)ense of our penal establishments is already appreciably
swelled by the re-convictions here of escapees and expirees from
that colony. . . It has been assumed that Great Britain avoided
responsibility by declining possession of these islands. It seems
to me that the responsibility lies wholly in the other direction,
and that if the united voice of Australia declares that the an-
nexation is a measure essential to our welfare and safety, there
is a great responsibility in disregarding that voice.' The
South Australian ministers were no less eager in their support
of the annexation of New Guinea, of the New Hebrides, and
the adjoining islands. The Premier of Queensland, Mr. T.
Mcllwraith, in a memorandum laid before the Executive
Council of Queensland, declared that the action of her Majesty's
Government justified ' some decided and concerted action on the
part of the Australian colonies. . . . In 1875 Lord Carnarvon,
while not discouraging the idea of extensive annexation, assigned
as one reason why he could not act on the representations of
the Australian colonies, that the British taxpayer could not,
and would not, bear the expenditure. Lord Derby advances
the same reason now. . . . The expense need not be great, and
we now know that the Australian colonics will undertake this
expense, or shai-eit with her Majesty's Government if required
to do so. . . . If her Majesty's Government does not feel that


the annexation of New Guinea or of the islands adjacent to
Australia is of so much importance to the empire at large as it
is to the Austx-alian colonies, let some means be devised by
which those islands may be held and governed for the benefit
of the Australian people. . . . The circumstances of the present
case seem to point to a necessity for combination among the
Australian colonies — a combination for both legislative and
executive purposes.'

While the Australian Premiers and people were agitating
on the subject of annexation, an association was being got
up in London under the title of ' The New Guinea Exploration
and Colonisation Company,' the purpose of which was to or-
ganise a company of ' adventurers ' — we use the word in its
old Elizabethan sense — who would make a descent upon New
Guinea and found a colony after the good old fashion of six-
teenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century colonisers. The
head and front, the promoter and inspirer of this ingenious
scheme, was a remarkable man. Brigadier-General H. R.
Maclver was an excellent type of the soldier of fortune. He
had served in his time — he was now still a compiratively young
man — under no less than fourteen flags. He had fought when-
ever and wherever there was an opportunity for him to lend his
sword to any cause that pleased him. He had fought for the
Confederates in the American civil war ; he had fought for the
Greeks against the Turks; he had fought for Don Carlos in
Spain. General Maclver was not a revolutionary warrior of
the type of General Cluseret. Sprung from an old Scottish
family, he inherited all the Highland traditions, and was a firm
believer in Divine right. The ' revolution' only inspired him
with horror, but the magic words ' the king ' could always con-
jure up in him the spirit of loyalty which gave so many gallant
hearts to the cause of the Old and the Young Pretender. But
though Captain Mayne Reid or M. Fortune du Boisgobey might
have found an excellent subject for romance in the career of
Brigadier-General Maclver, he did not quite commend himself
to the Colonial Ofiice as the very man to whom the colonisation
of New Guinea might best be entrusted. Lord Derby was

u 2


peremptory in Lis refusal to allow General Maclver to cany out
his scheme. ' If an attempt should be made to carry out the
project described in your prospectus, her Majesty's Government
will be under the necessity of instructing the High Com-
missioner for the Western Pacific, and the officer commanding
her Majesty's naval forces on the station, to interfere for the
protection of the native inhabitants of the islands.'

"With all his military experience and love for adventure,
General INIacIver was not prepared to wage war against the
British Government. He promptly informed the Colonial
Office that he had converted his organisation into a peaceful
trading company. Loi-d Derby would have none of the trading
company, however, and when the general went so far as to hint
at floating the company under a foreign flag, he was signiBcantly
warned that ' the use of a foreign flag would not exempt the
proceedings of the company's managers and pi'omoters from
control.' This fettled the matter. Nothing more was heard of
the oi'ganisation, and General Maclver sought occupation for
his restless spirit in other pursuits. But the incident was in
itself remarkable, and gave a further stimulus to the Atistral-
asian desire to obtain the government of Kew Guinea and the
other islands themselves, and no longer leave them open to
domestic or foreign enterprise.

In July 1S83 it became definitely known that the Govern-
ment of India had undertaken to pay Abdul Rahman, the
Ameer of Cabul, a yearly subsidy of 120,000/. The subsidy
was to be raised by a tax upon the people of India, and for the
first time in the history of our connection with Central Asia, a
subsidy to a Central Asian chief became a regular item of Budget
expenditure. This was not absolutely a new departure, indeed ;
only the permanent natiu-e of the proposed subsidy was novel.
Ever since England became mixed up with the afiairs of
Afghanistan, she has found it necessary to make over large sums
to the various rulers of the country. All our relations with
Afghanistan have been based on the assumption that some sort
of alliance with that country is necessary in order to preserve
ourselves from the machinations of a foreign foe. Of late years,


and for long enough back, the assumption has of course been
that that foreign foe was Russia. But such was not the assump-
tion in 1809, when Elphinstone conducted the first English
mission to Cabul. The foreign foe against whose machinations
we had to guard ourselves then was France. Elj^hinstone's
treaty with the then Ameer of Cabul was framed to resist a
possible invasion of France in co-operation with Persia. But the
dread of French arms in Afghanistan soon passed away and was
forgotten. Russia in 1828, by the Treaty of Turcomanchai,
obtained great influence at Teheran, and from that time forward
her influence in Central Asia became the nightmare of English

By the death of John Richard Green, in March 18S3,
England lost one of her foremost historians. He first became
famous by his ' Short History of the English People,' ' a history,'
in the words of its author, ' not of English kings or English
conquests.' The book at once passed into a great number of
editions ; it was read by everybody ; it became adopted as a
text-book in schools ; it gave new life to the popular apprecia-
tion of English history. The fame of its author was established,
and for eight years he enjoyed his fame, writing, studying, de-
voted to his work. Then on the threshold of a great career he
suddenly died, at the age of foity-five, leaving behind him an
enduring name and an enduring regret. A few days later in
the same month another remarkable man died a too early death.
Mr. Ashton Wentworth Dilke was only thirty-three years old,
but he had already won himself a ])rominent place amongst the
most advanced Radicals, and a distinguished political career
seemed ensured to him. He had travelled widely, he knew
Central Asia well, he was a varied and accomplished linguist,
he knew Russian as few Englishmen know it, and had trans-
lated T yurgueniefi''s latest novel into English. He entered
Parlia jient under the new Gladstone Ministry as member for
Newcastle, but the pressure of ParKamentary life proved too much
for his health, which was never strong. He went to Algiers in
the hope of recovery, but the hope was not fulfilled. He was
sincerely i-egretted, in the truest sense of those famihar words,


by all who knew him. Shortly before his death he had resigned
his seat in Parliament, and his place was taken by Mr. John
Morley, for whose success Mr. Ashton Dilke sent his cordial
wishes with what was almost his dying breath, from the pleasant
African shore whither he had gone to die.

In June died Henry S. Leigh. His life, also too early
shortened, for he was only forty-six years old, must be called in
some measure a wasted life. He Avas a true poet ; he had rare
abihty, but his talents were squandered on work imworthy of
his hand, on the librettos of comic operas and the like, and his
memory as a poet depends upon a few out of his too few verses.
His poetry belonged to that order which has been given the
absurd title of Vers de Societe, a title which is supposed for
want of a better to include such widely different writings as
those of Mr, Frederick Locker and jNIr. Austin Dobson. Mr.
Leigh's verse was not the refined, urbane, polished society verse
of Mi\ Locker; it had not the exquisite grace and dainty
scholarship of INIr. Dobson's Dresden muse. It was the verse
of a Londoner who loved London, and its theatres and its pleasant
Bohemian clubs, and many of its men, and some of its women.
One can hardly help thinking that if Mr. Leigh had chosen,
he might have been such a poet of London itself as London
has never yet had. It was said that an early disappointment
had made him indifierent of success, and it may be so; certainly
there were few men who, with such apparent certainty of success,
took so little pains to win it. There is one of his poems, written
years and years ago, when he was a very young man, called
' Little "\Vhat's-her-name,' addressed to some fair priestess of the
temple of burlesque. It seems exceedingly light-hearted, and is
intensely pathetic. If it had been written in Augustan Latin
by a singer of the Sacred Way, or in Parisian argot by some
haunter of the Ponime de Pin, it would have delighted scholars
and bookworms who now, perhaps, have never heard of it. ' I
would ask no higher honour,' he says at the end, ' I would seek
no higher fame, than a corner in the memory of "Little What's-
her-name." ' It is no concern of ours or of any one's to inquire
who * Little What's-her-name ' was or is ; but it is to be hoped,


for the sake of her singei^'s request, that she did keep a corner
of her memory for Henry Leigh.

Father Thomas Bnrke, the great Dominican preacher, the
eloquent adversary of Mr. Froude's histoi-ies, the man who most
of all his time deserved the title of Chrysostom — the new
' Golden-mouth ' — died in this year ; so did E. B. Eastwick, the
Orientalist, dear to so many who have first directed their un-
certain steps through the perfumed paths of the rose-garden
of Saadi of Shiraz; so did Rawdon Brown, the editor of the
' Calendar of Venetian State Papers,' who went to Venice once for
a visit, and loved it so well that he never left it ; so did Payne
Collier, the Shakespearian critic — not j^rematurely — ninety -four
years old, likely to be remembered especially for his notorious
' Perkin's Folio ' and for his spiteful diaries ; so did Captain
Mayne Beid, beloved by boys. John Brown, the Queen's
servant, died in March. The Duke of Marlborough died in
July, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Lord Blandford, Avho
occupied in the Upper House tlie unique position of being the
only peer who was an avowed advocate of home rule for Ire-
land. Sir George Jessel, the Master of the Bolls, who died
in March, was the first Jew made a judge in England. A
promising career was brought to an untimely end by the death
of young Mr. Frank Hatton, who was killed out in Borneo by the
accidental discharge of his own gun. Though he had not left his
majority long behind him, he had already made himself a name,
and was like to have gone very far indeed had he lived. Some
deaths that were not dii-ectly connected with England must
not be suffered to pass unchronicled. In Germany died the last
of the Goethes, Wolfgang von Goethe, a grandson of the poet.
A little later the great musician, Richard Wagner, died. With
Karl Marx died the head and front of Socialism, the greatest
name in German revolution since Lassalle. France lost Gus-
tavo Dore, who was as popular, personally and pictorially, in
London as in Paris. The death of the Count de Chambord,
the devotee of the White Flag, shattered the hopes of the French
Legitimists, and gave new hope to the Orleans party. In his


self-chosen exile in France died Toui'guenieff, the greatest of
Continental novelists since Balzac. Over in Damascus died
Abd-el-Kader, the gallant Emii-, whose bright sword had so
often held its own against the arms of France, and whose coiu-age
and chivalry did so much to save Christian lives during the
Lebanon massacres of 1860. In Sir Salar Jung India lost a
great statesman, and England one of the most valued of her
counsellors in the government of the country. The death of
Prince Gortschakoff removed one of the most interesting figui-es
of Continental diplomacy, but England can scarcely be said to
have lost a friend.



For the hour we were fixed in Egypt. Nominally we were
remaining merely to support the Khedive's authority ; actually
we were temporarily the masters of the country. The Khedivial
Government could not have held together without vis. The
life of the Khedive would not have been worth a handful of
paras half an hour after the last British soldier had embarked
at Alexandria. We had had our own way in Egypt. After a
period of inaction, even of inanition, we had bestirred oui'selves,
and at the cost of bombardment and a bloodless campaign we
had overthrown the ingenious system of the dual control which
we had been at such pains to set up some few years earlier. The
dual control was an absurdity which it was undoubtedly for the
welfare of England to abolish. But in abolishing it we had
taken the responsibility of setting Egypt straight, and the
responsibility was sufficiently severe. The country was hope-
lessly disorganised, hopelessly in debt, hopelessly demoralised.
It was like some child's puzzle, all the different portions of
which were tumbled into bewildering medley, from which it was
our task to sort the chaos and to piece together a complete and
presentable scheme of government. The task was not im-


possible, nor even appalling. It i"equired time, temper, and
trouble ; but the desired end did not appear to be distant, and
ministers were confidently predicting the hour when the last of
the British bayonets should shine in the Egyptian sun, when
the machinations of an obscure fanatic in a distant desert dis-

Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyEngland under Gladstone, 1880-1885 → online text (page 27 of 38)