§ SIR HENRY RAWLINSON
rose to ask the Secretary of State for India, If the Government has come to any decision on the recent appeal of the Maharajah of Mysore with regard to the succession of 828 his adopted son; and, if so, whether he is prepared to lay on the table of the House any Correspondence that may have passed on the subject? In order to render the Question intelligible it would be necessary for him to make a few explanatory remarks, not for the purpose of discussing the merits of the case—as that would be premature pending the announcement of the intentions of the Government—but merely in order to state his reasons for asking the Question. It had been often noted that the House was disinclined to discuss Indian questions, but he could not believe that it could be really indifferent to the interests of 100,000,000 of our subjects in India. The province of Mysore was of great extent. It contained 12,000 square miles, and had a population of 3,000,000, and yielded a yearly revenue of £1,000,000. This country was under the government of a native Hindoo dynasty for many generations, but about a century ago it was conquered by the celebrated Hyder Ali, from whom it descended to his son, Tippoo Sultan. In 1799 the united arms of the British and the Nizam re-took it from Tippoo Sultan, and it was then in the power of the Governor General to have divided the territory between the British Government and its allies. It was thought advisable, however, to re-establish the old Hindoo dynasty in order that it might act as a counterpoise to the Mahomedan Governments of the South of India. For that purpose the Governor General took a boy, the representative of the ancient Maharajah of Mysore, not from a dungeon, as had often been stated, but from private life, and by virtue of a treaty with the Nizam placed him on the throne. Surrounded by parasites, and having an unlimited command of money, it was not surprising that the young Prince turned out to be a weak and dissipated ruler, though he was neither cruel nor rapacious; and in due course, under the provisions of a treaty, the British Government stepped in and sequestered the country, and from that time to this the country had been under the administration of British officers. Although there might be some question as to the grounds on which we interfered, yet the benefits conferred on the country had fully compensated for the irregularity of that interference, and he was not prepared to advocate the restoration of the old Rajah, who had now for thirty-three years been unused to the toils of government. But there was another matter 829 on which the Rajah had some ground of complaint, and that was with respect to the right of succession. For a long time it was believed, both in India and England, that the Rajah had an intention of bequeathing his territory on his decease in free gift to the British Government, and the probability was that, if he had been restored, he would have done so. But being disappointed in respect to his restoration, he lent his ear to other counsels and adopted a son and heir as his successor, according to the Hindoo law. Now, the Home Government had disallowed this claim to appoint a successor, and it was this point which he wished to bring under the notice of the House. The question might be considered both in a legal and in a political point of view. Firstly, whether the Rajah really had any right to appoint a successor; and secondly, whether it was expedient on our part to acknowledge that successor? It was contended by the late Government that the Rajah had no right whatever to appoint a successor; it was maintained that his claim to the throne was purely personal, as he had attained his position in virtue of a personal treaty, the conditions of which he did not observe, and thereby allowed his territory to be sequestered by the British Government. In reality, however, the Rajah did not become Sovereign of Mysore in virtue of any treaty whatever with us, either personal or perpetual. He acquired his position in virtue of our treaty with the Nizam. When once he was placed on the throne and declared to be a Sovereign he acquired all the rights inherent and indefeasible in a Sovereign, and one of those was the right of hereditary succession, and sequestration did not invalidate that right in any respect. The article which authorized sequestration in case of the non-fulfilment of obligations, which he read, contained nothing to invalidate the rights of the Pasha as an independent Sovereign, or to interfere with his leaving his territories to a successor. In reality, the payment of the subsidy had never fallen into arrear; where we were authorized to sequester territory merely as the equivalent of a deficiency we had sequestered the whole country, and what was to be temporary we had made permanent. Courts of Justice had, however, repeatedly ruled that the position of the Rajah was that of an independent Sovereign, and that Mysore was foreign territory, where a writ issued from a British Court of Judicature could not 830 be executed. The Rajah, indeed, was admitted to be an independent Prince, although he lived as a private person, and it seemed an arbitrary exercise of power to disallow his right to appoint a successor. It must be remembered that in India the law regarded an adopted son in the same light as a natural born son, and to disinherit him was equal to saying that the property of a man who had been temporarily deprived of its administration—by the decree of a Commission of Lunacy for instance—should lapse to the Crown upon his death. If the legal view of the case was strong, the moral and political one was much stronger. Some years ago there was a perfect rage for the acquisition of new territory in India. Principality after principality was annexed, the annexation mania culminating in the acquisition of Oude, which was closely connected with, if it did not originate, the Indian rebellion of 1857. After the extinction of that rebellion a new era was inaugurated under Lord Canning. A Royal proclamation was issued, which had been described as the Magna Charta of India, confirming to the Native Princes their personal rights, their dignities, and privileges. Supplementing that proclamation, there came the famous despatch of Lord Canning, declaring that on the failure of natural heirs the adoption by Native Princes of a successor would be recognised, and that nothing should disturb that arrangement so long as the family was loyal to the Crown and observed the treaties faithfully. When the Rajah first expressed a wish to adopt a son, and signified the fact to the Governor General, a difference of opinion prevailed in the Council of India, to whom the subject was referred, and a vague answer was returned, leaving the question open. It was on record that there were two dissentients in the Council, Sir Frederick Currie and Sir John Willoughby, even in this preliminary stage of the matter. Subsequently the adoption actually took place, and on a second reference to England was formally disallowed, although three of the most experienced Members of the Council of India, Sir George Clerk, Sir Frederick Currie, and Captain Eastwick, again re-forded their dissent. That was the position of the case at the present time. It was considered that under the operation of the last order, in the event of the death of the Rajah, by some formal act of annexation the Rajahship of Mysore would 831 be at an end, and the territory would be incorporated with the British dominions in India. Now, what effect would such a measure have on the feelings of the Natives in the face of the proclamation of Lord Canning? They would certainly see in it a mere desire to annex large revenues to the British Government. The other great Princes of India were in a position very similar to that of the Rajah of Mysore; and if in the treaties with them heirs and successors were not mentioned, we might, on their decease, say that they were Sovereigns for life only. The case was one of great importance, involving, as it did, the good faith and honour of this country. There were two other points which it was important that the House should also take into consideration, one being the general question of annexation, and the other the present state of India. With regard to the general question of annexation, he heartily agreed with the principles which Lord Canning had laid down in the despatch which he had previously read, and in which he stated that our supremacy would never be rightly accepted and respected so long as we left ourselves open to doubts, which our uncertain policy had justified, as to our ultimate intentions towards Native States. For the civil government already our English officers were too few for the work on their hands, and the annexation of territory would not make it easier to discharge our existing duties. To these sentiments he would add one or two remarks which seemed to him of great weight. It was his firm belief that independent Native States, under a good and friendly Administration, were a source of strength and not of weakness. They were a source of strength because, in the first place, they furnished a sort of safety-valve for the exuberant Native energy which could not find employment under our rule, and which, while unemployed, fermented and was a source of danger to us. They were valuable also as a breakwater to disaffection and mutiny; it had been said that the existence of the Native States of Hyderabad and Gwalior had really been the means of saving Madras and Bombay in the Mutiny of 1857. And Lord Canning had left it on record that but for the loyal Native States in the North West the tide of the mutiny would have swept in one wide wave over the country, from the borders of Bengal to the Indus. It was mainly owing, indeed, to the fidelity of these Native States that we were able to make 832 head, and ultimately to suppress the rebellion. They should bear these things in mind, learning from the experience of the past how to act in the future. He had studied the subject with much care, and he believed that never in this century had it been of more importance than at present to conciliate Native feeling in India, and to endeavour to rule the people through their affections rather than through their fears. India at present was in a transition state both from within and from without, and it mainly depended upon our conduct during this interval of trial whether the crisis would end to our weal or to our woe. When he said that the country was "in a transition state from without," he alluded to an entirely new phase in our Indian rule, which was now imminent. India was rapidly coming in contact, for the first time, with the other great European Powers—he referred to the conquests of Russia in Central Asia on the one hand, and on the other to the opening of the Suez Canal, by means of which we might expect to see the swarming fleets of the Mediterranean transferred to the Indian seas and coasts. An entirely new phase was thus opening to India in her foreign relations; and the change in the interior of the county itself was even more important. India, indeed, was just now awakening from the lethargy of centuries. The country was stirred from one end to the other by the contact of European industry and civilization, but was not yet penetrated with its quickening influences; and it depended on the spirit in which the Government was conducted whether the change now in progress would lead to good or evil results. If we betrayed a sordid or scornful spirit, if we disregarded Native feeling, and proclaimed the doctrine of "India for the English," then the stronger and wealthier India might become, the more would the differences of race be deepened, the more would religious hatred become intensified; and if we continued to retain the country it would be at the expense of such a drain on our resources that it would be questionable whether it would be worth the cost. But if we acted with kindness and forbearance, if we led rather than drove, if we governed India for the Indians, then we might expect that in due course that great country would become the most loyal and the most prosperous, as it was already the most fertile and the most populous of all the dependencies of the British Crown. He would only fur- 833 ther remind the noble Lord (Viscount Cranbourne) that since the last orders were sent to India a very numerously-signed petition had been presented to the House in favour of the Rajah's claim to adoption, and that a deputation had also waited on him last year to advocate the same cause, so that they might consider the whole question to have been re-opened and re-considered. He begged, in conclusion, to ask, Whether the Government has come to any decision on the recent appeal of the Maharajah of Mysore with regard to the succession of his adopted son; and, if so, whether they were prepared to lay upon the table of the House any Correspondence that might have passed on the subject?
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he wished to say a few words in support of the appeal made to the House and the Government by his hon. Friend, because he felt that the position in which India stood was one of great difficulty and danger. If the decision of the late Government were allowed to take effect, it would carry dismay to the Native Indian mind, which would not be able to understand the grounds upon which it rested. When the question of the assumption and seizure of the Native Principalities arose it did not meet with the attention which it deserved, but opinions were expressed at the time which gave rise to those feelings of alarm which his hon. Friend had described. On that occasion Lord Dalhousie, who had only lately arrived in the country, announced in broad terms his opinion that the time had arrived when the Government should lose no lawful opportunity of extending their territory, though, at the same time, they should pay the most scrupulous regard to the rights of others. No wonder such a declaration caused alarm. He endeavoured to draw the attention of the House to the subject, but it was one to which the House would not listen at the time. The question, however, became aggravated from year to year, until at last the Government thought that the time had arrived to quiet the alarm which had been created on the subject. It was a remarkable fact that while those connected with the civil administration came eagerly forward to defend principles of confiscation by which their departments might be extended, those who had spent years in India, and were intimately acquainted with the feelings of the Natives, and with the law and practice on the subject, protested almost unanimously against the 834 course on which the Government was embarking. With regard to this Mysore State, Lord Canning laid down a simple but broad principle, that the assurance as to the right of succession should be given to every chief who governed his own territory as a sovereign Prince; and it was alleged that the Rajah of Mysore was not included within that condition. It was a principle, in fact, that those cases in which sovereign rights were exercised carried with them an inherent right to succession. It was said that it was specially intended to exclude the Rajah of Mysore from the exercise of that principle; and perhaps, on the face of it, it bore that construction; but no one who knew Lord Canning would think that he entertained the idea of denying the sovereign rights of the Rajah of Mysore, for within thirty days after laying down that principle he wrote again on the subject of that Mysore State, expressing his hope that the titular ruler of that State might eventually be induced to bequeath his power to the British Government. His territory had been administered for more than forty years by British officers, and he admitted that this fact entitled the English Government to impose such conditions as might appear called for; but he maintained that, as a matter of right, the succession ought to be recognised. The present Governor General had described the Rajah as a dependent Prince, possessing only such personal rights as had been conferred on him by treaty; but that despatch was written in ignorance of all the facts of the case, and tended to re-open all those questions which Lord Canning had settled. It was true that the British Government at one time made a treaty with the Rajah in perpetuity, in which no mention of his heir was made; but he contended that the Rajah's rights of sovereignty did not depend upon that treaty, and a previous treaty between the same parties recognised the Rajah as sovereign of Mysore. The claim we had to interfere with the territory arose out of a treaty declaring that whenever the subsidy which should be paid should fail, then the British Government would have a right to go in and occupy the place, and administer the State laws, the terms implying that that should be merely a temporary measure; and all our rights depended upon that treaty. He hoped the British Government, in deciding this matter, would maintain its character for good faith.
Sir, this is beyond doubt a very important question, and has attracted a great deal of attention both in England and India. It has been usually discussed with considerable exaggeration both of argument and feeling; and I have to express my thanks to both the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken upon it for bringing it forward in so moderate and so candid a spirit. The hon. Member who brought the subject forward established what I thought was a very convenient division of it, when he said he would refer first to the legal and then to the political grounds of the question; and I shall adhere to his division, because, though upon the legal ground I may differ from him very considerably, I daresay that when we come to the political question we shall be found not very widely apart. The first question upon which I want to touch, although it does not concern my main argument, is one raised by the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Colebrooke); I mean the question of the adoption despatch of Lord Canning. I feel bound, in justice to the Governor General, to point out the reasons why I think he was justified in stating that that despatch conferred upon the Rajah no right of adoption. The simple facts of the case are these:—Lord Canning carefully excluded all those who were not in the actual government of their own territories from its operation; and afterwards, by way of an illustration of what he meant, he sent a special sunnud to every individual chieftain upon whom he intended to confer the right. Prom that list the Rajah of Mysore was excluded; and I cannot conceive any more distinct or emphatic way by which Lord Canning could announce that the Rajah was not to enjoy the right of adoption. I think that the adoption question does not arise on the present occasion. I shall therefore prefer, in the few short arguments I shall use, to lay aside the question of adoption, to treat the young man as the lineal son of the Maharajah, and to inquire into his rights as that lineal son. I hope by doing that, among other objects, to establish in the mind of the hon. Baronet opposite, and, it may be, in the minds of any of the Native Princes of India who share the fears he attributed to them, a conviction that no thought ever entered into the mind of Her Majesty's Government—I am convinced that no such thought will ever enter into the minds of any British statesmen—of disturbing these 836 solemn grants that Lord Canning made to the Native Princes. I believe there is no right which every Government in India will regard as more sacred than Lord Canning's concession on the subject of adoption to the Native Chiefs. The hon. Baronet who brought forward this Motion rightly said that the whole of the Maharajah's title depends upon the partition Treaty of Mysore. It lies in the four corners of that treaty, and what we have to inquire is—Did the Maharajah receive a full right of Sovereignty with succession; that is, in fact, his territory in fee simple; or did he receive only a life grant? Remember that this is not the case of an ancient Sovereign whom we found in that country, or with whom we made a treaty. This is the case of a man whom we took from a house in which he was confined when a child, dying from ill-usage, and whom we rescued and placed on the Throne. Therefore, it is to the treaty alone that we must look to see whether the Maharajah has any right to bequeath or hand down to his lineal son the territory then granted to him. Now, I confess that, when I came to examine this question carefully, though I was naturally in no way prejudiced in favour of the views of my predecessor, but I was quite surprised at the doctrines and the interpretation of the treaty which several of those who argue the case of the Maharajah had taken up. The Partition Treaty of Mysore was a treaty in which the Maharajah himself had no share. It was a treaty between the Nizam and the English Government, and its object was, as its name implies, to divide the territory which conjointly they had conquered from Tippoo Sultan. The Maharajah of Mysore is not mentioned at all in the preamble. The first article of the treaty declares that certain territories afterwards named shall be subjected to the authority, and shall be for ever incorporated with the dominions of the English East India Company. The second article says that, for the same reasons, certain districts afterwards specified shall be subjected to the authority and for ever united to the dominions of the Nawab Nizam. Then again, for reasons therein stated, the fortress of Seringapatam was to become part of the dominions of the said Company, in full right and sovereignty for ever. In each of these three articles the greatest care is taken to say that the grant is one "for ever"—first to Eng- 837 land, and then to the Nizam. Then comes the fourth article, which declares that a separate Government shall be established in Mysore; and it is stipulated and agreed that for this purpose the Maharajah of Mysore, a descendant of the ancient Maharajahs, was to possess the territory thereinafter described. There is not one word in the article about sovereignty, perpetuity, or inheritance. Now, I cannot imagine that if you were dealing with any other case—with a case, for instance, of private property or International Law in Europe—you would doubt for a moment that with a contrast so striking between these several articles, the intention was that to the Maharajah alone should the grant of that territory be made, and that it should be reserved for subsequent decision what should be done with that territory after his death. The hon. Gentleman who introduced the question said that there were many Indian treaties from which the word "perpetuity" was excluded, and that there was no Native Prince in India who would feel himself secure if on that ground we disputed the right of this young Maharajah. I see that that statement was also made by a very distinguished member of the Council, with whom the hon. Gentleman is familiar. Now, I went very carefully through the seven volumes of Indian treaties to ascertain whether that was the fact. I am bound to say, that wherever territory in granted, as a rule the words of perpetuity are carefully inserted. There are some slight exceptions in the case of rectification of frontier, and where agreements are made with well-known reigning houses, with regard to whom it was wholly unnecessary to insert those words; but as a rule they were inserted, and I cannot subscribe to the doctrine that even if the case of Mysore and that of other States were analogous, such a construction would imperil other Native Thrones. But the case of Mysore stands by itself. There is no other case like it in India. The hon. Gentleman talked of Scindia, Holkar, and the Nizam. Well, but we found those Princes on the Throne. They were reigning Sovereigns before our time, and it was immaterial with regard to them whether we put into treaties with them words of perpetuity or not. But this man derives his rights from us, and it is only to ns that he can look for the exact definition of them. But there was one analogous case—the case of Sattara. That was exactly the same case of a territory carved out of 838 a conquest, and given to the descendants of those who formerly reigned in the same region. But in the Sattara treaty the words "of perpetuity" are carefully inserted. Therefore the case seems to me complete that, so far as the construction of the treaty can guide us, the son of the Maharajah has no right to succeed to the sovereignty of Mysore. If that be so, I need hardly add that it is not necessary to enter into the question of adoption, because what the lineal son has no right to, it is clear that the adopted son cannot claim. I must therefore express most emphatically the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that the rights conferred upon the Maharajah of Mysore by the Partition Treaty terminate with his life. So much for the legal question. Now for the political; and here, I think, the case assumes a different aspect. The hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying—although I do not think the feeling is very logical—that there exists a considerable feeling among many distinguished Princes in India in regard to the policy of the Government in this case. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman introduced the question of fear into the argument that he presented to the House. I not only disclaim being actuated by such a motive, but I must state, in the most distinct manner, that there does not seem to me to be the slightest occasion for any appeal to our fears in this instance. I believe that we were never safer in India than at the present moment. There never was a time—whether we have to rely on our swords, or whether, which I hope is now the case, we may rely on the sense which the Natives entertain of the justice they may expect from us, or the security which our Government confers upon them—when we had a better right to calculate on the stability of our power in that country. But that fact docs not in the least diminish our desire to calm the minds of the influential feudatories who are in alliance with us—to do anything consistent with our duty to India, which may be pleasant and agreeable to their feelings. And therefore I freely admit that the wishes which have been expressed by several distinguished Princes on this subject have much weighed with Her Majesty's Government. Not that we concede to those Princes any right or title to interfere in this matter. But the feelings between us are naturally those of amity. We know that we are together engaged in a great work, which will task the strength 839 of both of us. We are aware that the object we have in view will be much facilitated, and that we shall more readily obtain the good Government we seek, if we work thoroughly and heartily together, and if no jealousies disturb our common action. But there are other considerations, and I think the hon. Gentleman stated them very fairly and eloquently. I do not myself see our way at present to employing very largely the Natives of India in the regions under our immediate control. But it would be a very great evil if the result of our dominion was that the Natives of India who were capable of Government should be absolutely and hopelessly excluded from such a career. The great advantage of the existence of Native States is that they afford an outlet for statesman-like capacity such as has been alluded to. I need not dwell upon other considerations to which the hon. Gentleman so eloquently referred; but I think that the existence of a well-governed Native State is a real benefit not only to the stability of our rule, but because more than anything it raises the self-respect of the Natives, and forms an ideal to which the popular feeling aspire. It is not therefore the intention of Her Majesty's Government, whenever the Maharajah dies, that the State of Mysore shall be annexed. But then, if not annexed, what is to be done with it? Well, I must say that I do not feel inclined to adopt the opposite alternative. I do not think it would be consistent with our duty to hand it back to a Native Government unchecked and uncontrolled. The House will excuse me, I am sure, from entering into any further details on that subject. But no one can have examined the records of the Commission that inquired into this subject after Lord William Bentinck assumed the Government of India, without feeling that to such a course there are insuperable objections. Then the question really amounts to this—how far will you go in giving to this young man a share in the Throne and the Government of the territory that his father possesses? It is from no other feeling than a real belief, which I think is justified by the facts, that the time for a decision has not arrived that we hold that the decision of this question must be deferred. It must be obvious to anybody who reflects upon the subject, that the character of a Native Government, and the amount of blessings it is likely to con- 840 fer upon the people, must depend more than is the case in our part of the world upon the character of the individual ruler; and nobody can tell what will be the character of the adopted child of the Maharajah. When this youth shall have advanced in years—when he shall have reached some twenty years of age—it will probably then be possible for those who may be charged with the responsibility of the Government of India to decide whether he is likely to imitate the bright example which has been set by the Native ruler of the neighbouring State of Travancore, or whether he is likely to fall into those habits of prodigality and favouritism which are among the besetting sins of Indian Courts. We shall leave the decision of that point to those on whom the responsibility will properly devolve. It is the wish of Her Majesty's Government by no word or action to fetter that discretion, or to bind beforehand the judgment of those who will have before them the facts with which we are now unacquainted, and who will therefore be better qualified to adopt the conclusions to which they may legitimately lead. But there is even yet another consideration. As the hon. Member justly said, the state of India is now one of transition. It is a state of rapid and violent transition; and no man can tell what the needs of that country will be ten or fifteen years hence. And, whatever treaties or engagements may be entered into, I hope that I shall not be looked upon by Gentlemen of the Liberal party as very revolutionary if I say that the welfare of the people of India must override them all. I quite admit the temptations which a paramount Power has to interpret that axiom rather for its own advantage than its own honour. There is no doubt of the existence of that temptation, but that does not diminish the truth of the maxim. Therefore, I should be sorry now to pledge any future Government to any course which might honestly and clearly seem to be at variance with the interests of the people of Mysore. But, reserving that point, as far as we can see it may well be hoped that a practical share in the Government of the whole or a portion of the country—probably that would be the best—might be given to this young man. I am only stating my own individual opinion—merely stating what the circumstances of the case as they stand before us now may seem to justify. But I wish again to repeat that I am uttering 841 no pledge. We leave the decision of the case to those on whom the responsibility of that decision must rest. Our only object now is to so order our proceedings that they should be able to arrive at an easy and just decision. When the present Maharajah dies no change will be made in the form in which the Government of Mysore will be conducted. As to the young Maharajah, if we have the opportunity to do it, of course we shall be glad to do all we can to give him the advantages of a European education, and so prepare him, to the best of our ability, for the responsibilities which we hope it may one day be possible to commit to him. I need scarcely say that, of course, proper arrangements will be made for maintaining him in a condition suited to his rank; but beyond that, I think I should do my duty best by pledging the British Government no further. With reference to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's Question, I will only say that the despatch in answer to the application of the Maharajah of Mysore will be laid on the table; and it will then be competent for him, if he does not approve the views of Her Majesty's Government to ask for the opinion of the House on the subject.