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practically took possession of, northern and cen-
tral India. Sivaji, their great leader, began his
pillaging crusades even before the death of Au-
rangzeb. After his death a Brahman family,
whose head took the title of Peshwa, led these
people, and carried on for a hundred years a
contest with the British. The great principali-
ties of Baroda, Gwalior, Indore and Nagpur,
the rulers of three of which I am shortly to visit,
were the centres of this power.

The Sikhs, now some of the best soldiers in the
Indian army, also maintained for nearly seventy-
five years a sovereignty of their own in the Pun-
jab, and were only finally disposed of as rivals to
the British in 1849.

Of the Europeans, who from the beginning of
the seventeenth century had attempted the ex-
ploitation of the commerce of India, the Portu-
guese, the Dutch, the Danes had disappeared,
and when Clive appeared upon the scene, only
the French remained as formidable rivals. The
battles of Wandiwash, of the famous Plassey, of
Buxar, all fought between 1757 and 1764, ended
the French rivalry, and the British were left to
deal with the problem of subduing what remained
of opposition in India itself.

Another quarter of a century passed before
Wellesley, later the great Duke of Wellington,


finally disposed of the Maratha confederacy; and
it was not till 1856, when Lord Dalhousie, prob-
ably the greatest of all the governor-generals of
India, having annexed the Punjab in 1849, took
over control of the kingdom of Oudh, roughly
the territory about Lucknow, that the map of
India became what it is to-day. It was Dal-
housie who wrote just before taking this grave
step: "With this feeling on my mind, and in
humble reliance on the blessing of the Almighty
(for millions of His creatures will draw freedom
and happiness from the change) , I approach the
execution of this duty gravely and not without
solicitude, but calmly and without doubt." The
next year, 1857, was the year of the Mutiny!

I quote this passage because I wish to call at-
tention to w^hat I believe to have been the secret
of England's success in India. This success has
been accounted for in many ways. It was com-
mercial greed, say some critics ; it was brute force ;
it was the leverage of power that Great Brit-
ain had gained first in Europe, write the histori-
ans. The first steps were, if you please, along
the path of commercial greed, but later when
the severe work of administration, pacification,
and consolidation was done, it was quite another
force that crowned the work. The civil service
was recruited by examination from the Bible-


reading upper and middle-class of Great Britain;
game-playing, adventurous and healthy, but at
})ottom duty-loving young barbarians, who be-
lieved that India was delivered into their hands
to be saved from itself.

The first and foremost of them w^as Clive, a
tall, silent, rather morose English lad, who began
his career by accusing an officer of cheating at
cards. There followed a duel. Clive missed, his
adversary held his pistol to Clive's head and
bade him beg for his life and retract his accusa-
tion. "Fire and be damned to you! I said you
cheated and you did. I'll never pay you!" was
the reply.

There have been hundreds of lesser Clives in
India since that day, and to them is due the con-
quest and peaceful government of India, more
than to any other one force.

Imagine the United States of America peopled
by Sioux, Apaches, Mexicans, and Negroes. Im-
agine some Mughal conqueror arriving by the
Behring Straits, and after centuries subduing this
conglomeration of fighters, factions, religions,
and languages. Pampered and rich, the conquer-
ors lose control. The land is covered with small
principalities. There is a king in Florida, an-
other in Mexico, another in ^Massachusetts, and
there are armed bands of Mexican bandits, of


Apache raiders, of Sioux freebooters. Imagine
the country filled with jewels, brocades, silks,
gold, silver, stored up for centuries by an indus-
trious, uncommercial jjeople, who had never
learned to spend, and whose rich lived almost
as simply as the poor. Something like that state
of affairs is what the British had to deal with
when Clive saw that merely to win a battle here
and there was not enough, but that if the British
were to stay in safety, they must have sovereign
rights over the land itself. They now^ control the
whole million and a half square miles.



ON landing at Bombay one discovers that
no experience of travel elsewhere has
prepared the way. The luxuries are dif-
ferent, the hardships are different, the whole set-
ting of life is different. I am greeted on the
landing-stage by a lean, chocolate-colored Indian,
In flowing robes and a huge white turban, who
presents a letter from a soldier friend in Luck-
now, who has engaged him as serv^ant or "bear-
er" for our tour. He Is solemnity personified,
and his eyes are brow^n depths of unfathomable
Impenetrability. During the many weeks he was
with us, I saw him smile but once. We were
driving at Delhi, he was sitting on the box with
the coachman. One of the ponies became frac-
tious and landed one of his heels on the shin of
the driver, who howled with pain. Heera Tall
smiled, but even then there was no light, no keen-
ness of joy or sorrow in his eyes. AMiat he
thought about this incident, or what he thought
about anybody or anything else, I shall never



know, but I conclude that it was not of much

It is the easy habit both of those who have
Hved long in India, and of those who merely trot
thi-ough India, to describe the people as inscru-
table, and to assume that there are depths of
thought and feeling behind the unknown tongue,
and the unchanging eyes, which are too subtle
for the Western mind. It occurs to the traveller
sometimes that this is a mistake. There is a
great difference between the indefinite and the in-
definable. It is possible that India is not so much
inscrutable as faded. This old, old civiliza-
tion may have been printed so often from the
same type that the lettering is now blurred and
indecipherable. It may be illegible, too, be-
cause the font of type conveys nothing very in-
telligent or profound even to the users thereof.

Because there was a great literature in India
two thousand years B. C; a well-authenticated
philosophy worked out into a considered system
five hundred years B. C; a Sanskrit grammar
compiled about 350 B. C, which is still the
foundation for all study of the Aryan language;
an astronomy which had succeeded in making a
fairly correct calculation of the solar year, 2000
B. C; the discoveries of notation both by frac-
tions and algebra; a system of medicine, with


hospitals and dissecting-rooms; an art of music,
with its seven notes, invented 500 B. C; a code
of law, the Code of Manu, put into its present
form about 400 A. D.; and a vast collection of
legends and stories in verse, the Mahabharata,
the main story dealing with a period not later than
1200 B. C, because all this is the fruit of the
soil of India, one is perhaps tempted to overrate
what exists of intellectual prowess to-day. The
inscrutability may be emptiness rather than depth.

INIy singular opinion on this subject was not
derived from a study of the bearer, Heera Tall,
alone, for his patient inscrutability was, I am
now convinced, merely a veil of depravity. He
knew that what he knew and thought about was
best left to the idealism of the cloudiest possible

I was honored with the opportunity to know
barristers, journalists, soldiers, native officials
and judges, teachers, holy men, small landhold-
ers, peasants, monks, princes, and educated wo-
men, while in India, and I conclude that indefi-
niteness, rather than profundity, describes their
education and their philosophy of life. It is not
only in India, and at this present time, that easy-
going and rather flabby intellects have been will-
ing to accept the high-flown, the turgid, and the
indefinite as wonderful and weighty.


The bluster of the demagogue appeals to the
many, and the mental gyrations of the transcen-
dental lecturer to fashionable women appeal to
them, at any rate so long as they do not under-
stand him. Ignotum fro magnifico, applies in
the West as well as in the East. It is almost
incredible, as an example of this, that Emerson
should have said of Bronson Alcott and his silly
*'all things are spiral," that Alcott's was the
greatest philosophic mind since Plato. There
are even few^er men who have minds of their
own than have fortunes of their own. We are all
directly descended intellectually from Animism,
and the clouds and mists, the distortions and
noises of the mind are accepted with awe by
most of us, as mysteries too deep for us, when as
a matter of fact what is not clear is generally the
result of lazy thinking, rather than the exploit of
an intellect dealing with matters too high for us.

Of the religion and ideals of the overwhelm-
ing majority of the people, I have written, and it
seems to be a fatigued philosophy, and a blurred
idealism, which animate even the leaders. The
climate, and the habits which necessarily follow,
tend to drowsiness, rather than to alertness and
well-defined wants and wishes.

Even the progressive men and women of In-
dia are still steeped in the atmosphere of autoc-


racy. They fumble badly with the new scheme
of government, brought to them by their pres-
ent rulers, the English. England's greatness is
due in no small degree to the fact that she has
held stubbornly to the belief, despite republics
and revolutions, that all men are not equal, nor
all entitled to an equal degree of liberty, but all
entitled to an equal degree of justice. France
substituted a sham equality for constitutional
liberty, and the results are seen in that country
to-day in the hateful and hampering tyrannies
of bureaucracy. England goes so far as to de-
clare by law that her people are not equal, but
she administers justice to all alike, with an im-
partiality and a rigidity unknown anywhere else
in the world. Equality is a sham, justice is a
reality. Equality has never been realized, jus-
tice has been done. One is purely theoretical,
the other practical. England thus far has pre-
ferred the possible reality to the impossible sham,
with the result that her citizens have more per-
sonal liberty, and are more unfettered in their
activities, than the citizens of any other country.
I found few, even among the educated in In-
dia, who wanted justice, ^^^lat they called jus-
tice I found meant nearly always preference.
The unrest and sedition in India are entangled
in this mesh of misunderstanding, and their


Western sympathizers are unwittingly making
matters worse, by using words which mean one
thing to them, and another thing to those to
whom they are addressed. It should not be
forgotten in studying them that their attitude
toward the science of government is as old and
as deeply bedded in their brains as their lit-
erature, their astronomy, and their religion.
Thousands of years of dampening of individual
effort, of trusting to cunning, to bribery, to in-
sidious influence, have distorted all notions of
justice. They suffer from what Lord Curzon
admirably phrases as the "immemorial curse of
Oriental nations, the trail of the serpent that is
found everywhere from Stamboul to Peking —
the vicious incubus of oflScialism, paramount,
selfish, domineering, and corrupt. Distrust of
private enterprise is rooted in the mind trained
up to believe that the government is everything
and the individual nothing."

One's boyhood notions of Clive and Hastings,
and of the "John Company," are at once modi-
fied. An hour on shore in Bombay is enough.
Even the light is different. It is like that white
light, so purely artificial, in which you are placed
by the photographer when he asks you to as-
sume a natural expression. The effect upon you
at the photographer's, and upon everybody in


India, is the same: in defending yourself from
the Hght you assume a conceaUng expression.
Thousands of years of this light have done more
than we think, probably, to produce the inscruta-
bility so much talked of, and which may after
all be mainly physical.

Another consequence of this hot white light
is that one's clothes are piled on the head to pro-
tect the brain. Most of the natives in the streets
have more yards of stuff on their heads than on
their bodies. Color runs riot. Pinks, blues,
vermilion, orange, brown, yellowy red, saffron,
and many shades of all of them, are worn by
men and women ; even the bullock-carts, and the
horns of the bullocks themselves, are daubed
with glaring colors. Bare legs, breasts, and arms
become so soon familiar that the most scrupu-
lously pantalooned puritanism soon ceases to
notice anything unusual.

The short journey to the hotel reveals the
teeming millions, for where else could nine men
be spared to walk through the streets with a
grand-piano balanced on their heads; reveals the
disdain of time, for where else is a trotting bul-
lock a standard of speed, except in Madeira
where the oxen draw sledges; reveals the una-
shamed duplicity, for within an hour after our
meeting Heera Tall has announced his wages per


month as just twice the amount that my friend
in Lucknow has written me I ought to pay; re-
veals the supremacy of the wliite race, for where
else in this democratic world may the wliite man
walk straight, unconscious and unmenacing, and
yet find a lane made for him, as though he were
a locomotive running on a pair of rails through
a town of prairie dogs ?

An official of importance tells me that the first
thing he does on his holiday visits to England is
to walk down the Strand, that he may recover
from the place-giving, salaaming natives whom
he governs, and be jostled and elbowed back into
the equitable pedestrianism of the West. One
might infer from this that the Englishman likes
it, that the white traveller likes it. I can only
say for myself, and for the scores of English of-
ficials high and low that I met, and some of
whom I knew well, that it is not a situation
that the white man produces or wishes; rather
is it wholly and entirely what the native has
evolved as a penetrating and all-embracing legal
atmosphere. This is his notion of justice, and
order, and equality. He created it ages ago for
his own defence, and he perpetuates it to-day for
his own security. Palpable power he must
have, or there is anarchy. No one knows better
than the rich Parsi, or the intriguing Bengali, or


the peasant proprietor, or the liead-men, or tlie
money-lenders and laborers, that the white man's
unimpeded march straight through city or vil-
lage streets is the symbol for them all, of their
life, and fire, and property insurance.

If this is modern Bombay, what must have
been the Calcutta and the Madras of one hun-
dred and fifty years ago, when Clive and Hast-
ings laid the foundation-stones of British India ?
What indeed was the England of those days, the
England of George I, who could not read Eng-
lish and "who loved nothing but jjunch and fat
women"; the England of George II, who "had
been a bad son, a worse father, an unfaithful
husband, and an ungraceful lover"; the Eng-
land over whose political life w^as the soiling
smear of Walpolean corruption; the England
whose cabinet ministers fought for the control
of the secret- service fund used for the bribery of
the members of the House of Commons; the
England which protested not a word that Fox,
as paymaster of the forces, should have a hun-
dred thousand pounds of the nation's money out
at interest for his own account, and who at one
time made a mart of his office, and paid away as
much as twenty-five thousand pounds in one
morning, in the purchase of votes to buy sup-
port for a timorous government?


When one stops to think of the poHtical con-
ditions of government in the country from which
CHvc and Hastings came, and of the conditions
in the hind to which they went, one is surprised
at their guiltlessness. Clive fought like an Eng-
lishman, but he bribed, deceived, and on one oc-
casion actually forged a name to a treaty, like an
Oriental. Both he and Hastings grew to look
upon the getting and keeping of wealth, in a fash-
ion that ruins men, whether in Calcutta in the
eighteenth, or in New York in the twentieth cen-
tury. Such rupees, and such dollars, can only
buy the clothing of a convict, though their wear-
ers and their descendants live in palaces.

Clive, who was born in 1725, went out to In-
dia as a clerk in the service of the East India
Company at the age of eighteen. He was a
whole year getting from London to Madras, one
can go from London to Bombay now in fourteen
days, and the territory of the company he was
to serve consisted of a few square miles, and
even for that, rent was paid to the native govern-
ments. Here is a picture of an uncouth and
morbid young man, destined to mope in an office
chair. The French and the English go to war.
A French governor of Mauritius captures Ma-
dras. Clive joins the army, but peace is declared
and he returns to his desk. Peace in Europe did


not impose peace in India. A Frenchman of
great ability, Dupleix, by name, saw the oppor-
tunity to tie together the scattered fagots of power
left in India after the death of Aurangzeb, the
last of the Miighals, and began to do so. He
played one Indian state against another, and
backed by a small, but vastly superior force in
point of efficiency, he put, and kept in power the
native ruler or rulers he favored, and he soon
became himself the supreme influence in south-
ern India. Clive is now twenty-five. He urged
his superiors to strike a blow to save India, and
the English trading company, from complete
French supremacy. He marched to Arcot, and
took it without a blow. He was besieged there,
he was oft'ered large bribes to surrender, held out
for fifty days, was attacked, defeated the enemy,
and marched back to Madras as the first suc-
cessful English soldier in India. There he found
Major Stringer Lawrence just arrived from Eng-
land, and his superior in command. The Law-
rences could make a frieze of their names around
India's temple of fame. This first Lawrence
won Clive's friendship, and between them in two
years they broke the power of the French in India.
The "fierce equality" of the Republic to be, of
the French Revolution, could brook no superior
men then, as now. Dupleix was stripped of his


fortune and his fame, and died in obscurity; La-
bourdonnais was sent to the Bastille, and Lally
was dragged to his execution with a gag between
his lips. No wonder the French are not col-
onists !

Clive returned to England, still a boy, to be
toasted as "General" Clive, and to receive a
diamond-hilted sword from the company which
he had saved. In 1755 he sailed for India with
a commission of lieutenant-colonel, and the ap-
pointment of governor of Fort St. David at

The province of Bengal was governed by a
native prince of eighteen, who, becoming jealous
of the growing power of the English, found an
excuse for attacking Calcutta. Most of the Eng-
lish fled down the river, but one hundred and
forty-six remained. Surajah Dowdah or Siraj-
ud-daula — his name deserves to be remembered
— ordered these prisoners to be confined in the
jail at Fort William, a room eighteen feet square.
It was June. I know the heat of Calcutta in
March, what must it be in June .'' The na-
tives prodded these English men, w^omen, and
children into the jail, and laughed at them and
ridiculed them as they suffocated. In the morn-
ing twenty-three were taken out alive. The one
Englishwoman who survived was sent off to the


harem of the young prince. This is the Black
Hole of Calcutta story.

Truly the English are a phlegmatic race. In
the year 1910, in Calcutta again, they screen
the motor-car of their viceroy, of the representa-
tive of their king, with heavy wire netting, be-
cause the descendants of the people of Surajah
Dowlah throw stones at him. It seems a slow
method of teaching self-government in India, and
somewhat expensive in the lives of men and chil-
dren, and the purity of women, but no doubt
they know best.

On hearing of this outrage, Clive and a squad-
ron under Admiral Watson sailed for Calcutta.
Calcutta was recovered with little fighting, and
much to Clive's regret the Nawab Surajah Dow-
lah consented to a peace, and made compensa-
tion to the company for their money losses —
the men, women, and children were not paid
for! This might have been the end of the story,
but again there was war between England and
France. Clive took up the gauntlet in India.
Surajah Dowlah sided with the French. Clive
marched out to Plassey, about seventy miles
north of Calcutta, with 1,000 Europeans, 2,000
Sepoys, and 8 pieces of artillery. The Nawab's
army numbered 35,000 foot and 15,000 horse.
Clive attacked while the enemy were at dinner,


and scattered the Nawab's army to the winds.
This was June 23, 1757, just a hundred years
before the Mutiny.

Clive demanded over 2,000,000 pounds ster-
ling as an indemnity, and was paid a little more
than half that sum, of which Rs. 200,000 went
to Clive as commander-in-chief, and Rs. 1,600,-
000 as a private donation. A sum equal to about
one million dollars of our money at that time.
The rupee has since declined very much in value.
At the same time the landholders' rights of the
882 square miles around Calcutta were granted
to the company. Later, the land tax was given
to Clive personally, and he thus became the land-
lord of the company he served.

Following the fashion of the day, Clive
schemed to put his own candidate, Mir Jafar,
in the place of Surajah Dowlah. While prepar-
ing to oust him, he plotted against him and used,
amongst others, a wily Hindu named Omichund.
The Hindu, knowing the secrets of the plot,
threatened to inform Surajah Dowlah, unless he
were promised a bribe of three hundred thou-
sand pounds. He further demanded that this
payment to himself should figure in the treaty.
Clive prepared two treaties, one shown to the
Hindu blackmailer with the promise of payment
included, the other without it. Fearing that


Admiral Watson would disapprove, he forged
Watson's name to the treaty. When all was
over, the Hindu was informed that he had been
out-Orientalized by Clive, and later went mad.

Mir Jafar began to fear the very power that
upheld him, and secretly intrigued with a Dutch
force which arrived from Java. Clive routed
these. Their ships were destroyed, their troops
scattered, and three months later Clive sailed for
England. He was a great man now, and be it
said he had great expectations of the honors to
be awarded him at home. ^Mio has not been
disappointed in such expectations ? Clive was.
He was a rich man now. He had sent home
more than two hundred and fifty thousand
pounds, and he had besides the spendid income
from the land rents given him by the grateful
Indian prince he had supported. Praise has a
parasite, one steady and constant companion,
malice. Clive was attacked in Parliament, and
he was attacked even by the shareholders of the
East India Company.

Five years after leaving India for the second
time, he was besought, even by those who had
attacked him, to go back to save India again, to
save her from the bribe-taking and personal ped-
dling of the company's own servants. Stories
of repeated revolutions, of a disorganized, pillag-


ing, and corrupt administration readied Lon-
don. Clive alone could save the situation.

He was made oovernor and commander-in-
chief of the British possessions in Bengal, and
as Baron Clive of Plassey in the peerage of Ire-
land, he arrived in Calcutta in May, 1765, and
remained a year and a half. He had now to
fight the corruption, both military and civilian,
of his own people. Even British officers threat-
ened to resign if they were not allowed to steal.
He forbade the receiving of gifts from natives,

Online LibraryPrice CollierThe West in the East from an American point of view → online text (page 8 of 29)