« PreviousContinue »
district in the Cape Colony, hundreds of miles from the nearest land of the Transvaal. Lord Carnarvon naturally profited by the opportunity to acknowledge the effective aid which the Government had in both Houses received from the Opposition. Their severest critic was Mr. Leonard Courtney, the member for Liskeard, who, both on the second reading, and in a motion which he introduced a month afterwards in condemnation of the Act of Annexation, protested in no measured terms against Lord Carnarvon's policy. On the first occasion he insisted that confederation was not desired by a single colony in South Africa, and that the annexation of the Transvaal was a deliberate reversal of the wise policy of twenty years ago, when the Orange River Territory was given up, maintaining that the latter State might now have been annexed with the greater reason of the two. He added that the case differed entirely from that of Canada, attacked Sir Theophilus Shepstone, Mr. Froude the historian, who had been out to the Colony to disturb the people's minds by political lectures, and Lord Carnarvon, who had displayed in the conception of his proposals sent out to Africa "an ignorance which was almost incredible." On the second occasion, Mr. Courtney declared that the apprehensions of Sir Theophilus had been imaginary; that he had been received in the Transvaal with cordiality because the people thought that he had come to negotiate a treaty; and that his proclamation took them entirely by surprise. The annexation would involve us not only in considerable expenditure now, but in future wars; and had the forms of the House permitted it, he would have moved a resolution condemning it as unjustifiable and injurious to the interests of the United Kingdom and of the South African Colonies. He declared that the new Government would be a despotism, and condemned in strong terms the action of England. Mr. Courtney found a few friends and supporters in Sir Charles Dilke and others on the question of this old-fashioned act of imperialism; but the sense of the House, as far as the Obstructives would allow it to have any, was entirely against him. Indeed the dictatorial and dogmatic manner of the member for Liskeard, on this occasion as on others, notably in the debate on Mr. Gladstone's resolutions, prevented his obtaining with the House that weight to which his undoubted knowledge and powers of work might have entitled him, and placed him throughout the Session in a somewhat false position.
Undoubtedly the annexation of the Transvaal, reviving as it did an almost obsolete tradition of British policy, was not one to meet with much favour with the followers of a wide school of modern political thought. But it becomes unusually, though it may be accidentally, significant, at a time when the disciples of another school have been and are discussing with much zest and no small show of reason, the advisability of the assumption by England of the suzerainty of Egypt, not only to secure our royal road to India, but also for the benefit of the overworked and unpaid fellaheen, whose small holdings are rapidly becoming absorbed into the posses
sion of the Khedive, to gratify that potentate's apparently exclusive ambition to become the owner of all the land in his country. The purchase of the Suez Canal shares was by many believed to indicate that Lord Beaconsfield rather meditated one of his dramatic surprises in that direction. And while the talk of "British interests" in Egypt, in connection with the Eastern Question and the road to India, is gathering every day, men with Mr. Courtney's views might well feel some uneasiness. In any case, with Egyptian questions looming in the north, annexations in the ascendant in the south, and such men as Stanley prosecuting their military explorations, with a wonderful courage and endurance, amongst the strange and savage central tribes, the present condition of Africa presents to those who are given to meditate upon the shifting aspects of our world of change, an attractive field for speculation.
And the year was not to close in South Africa without a new episode in the history of our relations to the natives, and a new but trivial Kaffir war. Kreli, chief of the Galekas, in the Transkei, who, "owing," said some of the accounts, "to deterioration of character through drink," had become hostile to the British, sanctioned two attacks upon the Europeans. In one, on September 24, 120 frontier police and the friendly Fingoes defeated the Galekas; while in another, a few days later, 200 Europeans and 8,000 Fingoes routed a small army of 8,000 men with considerable loss, the artillery and rockets "doing good work." Sir Bartle Frere, whose appointment as Governor of the Cape at the beginning of the year was generally welcome, and who was a man accustomed to this kind of work, proceeded at once to Williamstown, in British Caffraria. The Cape volunteers went to the front with alacrity, and two small detachments of troops were sent to the coast of Caffraria to take the Galekas in the rear. Sir Bartle Frere, upon all the information before him, took the bold step of deposing Kreli, and annexing his country to the Queen's dominions in South Africa. For the purpose of carrying into effect this decision Commandant Griffith was instructed to occupy the country hitherto governed by Kreli, and, accordingly, the force advanced in several columns from the Kei river, on the south, and the Fingo country, on the west, to march through the Galeka country to the sea, driving the hostile Kaffirs before them. One or two of the columns encountered a sharp resistance, but they met with no check and no reverse. The Galekas threatened our small force in somewhat imposing masses, and exposed themselves more than in previous wars. But as soon as they came within range our guns were brought to bear on them, and a few shells sufficed to throw them into confusion. It was not long before tranquillity was restored in the country, and Sir Bartle paid some handsome compliments to the police, the volunteers, and the friendly Fingo tribe, though the fighting power of the latter was questioned in some quarters. But Lord Carnarvon, in
receiving a deputation upon the subject, and fully endorsing all that Sir Bartle Frere had said and done, said that through his promptitude we had "had a very narrow escape from a very serious danger"; for the rising showed many signs of deliberate preparation. Happily, some of the native chiefs, at least, seemed to have conceived a very wholesome awe of the English power, and to have discouraged all Kaffir war. One of them, once very powerful, was described as telling Sir Bartle that he only wished to depart with his mother to a land where he could not hear of war, and that all he wanted was a horse, and a uniform to wear, and a hat with a box to keep it in. But the serious moral to be drawn from the rising remained the necessity of promptly organising in the South African Colonies a permanent defensive force raised in the colonies themselves, maintained in constant efficiency, and ready to act at the shortest notice at any point of the territory.
India-Proclamation of the Queen's Title of Empress of India-The Indian Famine-Its history-Measures of Relief-The Mansion House Fund-The Indian Budget at Calcutta-Famine-statement at the close of the year— Annual Statement on Indian Finance in the House of Commons-The Northwest Frontier-The Jowaki War.
WE stated in our first chapter that the proclamation of the Imperial title in India was very differently viewed by different authorities. To some it was a timely vindication of the Queen's position and rule in the East; to others it was an indecent and ostentatious waste of money at a time when famine was threatening a large part of India. It is impossible now for the annalist to form any judgment either as to the proportions or bearing of the event in the future; and we have thought it a better course to take Lord Lytton's own accounts of the ceremonial and its incidents than to glean from the glowing descriptions of special correspondents, or from the criticisms of speakers at home.
An Assemblage of the principal chiefs and nobles of India was held by the Viceroy at Delhi on the 1st January 1877, and her Majesty's new title proclaimed amid great rejoicings, and most gratifying demonstrations of loyalty. On the same date durbars for the reading of the proclamation were held in each district or division throughout British India; the troops in each cantonment were paraded, and salutes of 101 guns fired from all forts and batteries in the three Presidencies. Displays similar in character took place at the capitals of those chiefs who were prevented from attending the Delhi ceremonial.
After the submission in October of the proposals of the Indian
Government on the subject of the Assemblage, the unexpected visitation of famine in Southern India, and other unforeseen difficulties, induced them to consider very seriously whether it might not be their duty to withdraw them; but, after full consideration of the political importance of the event, and in view of the advanced state of their preparations, as well as the disappointment which the abandonment of the Assemblage would occasion to native chiefs and others who had completed arrangements for attending it, they felt satisfied that such a course would be inexpedient. They carefully reconsidered, however, certain details of the general plan, relinquishing, on account of the expenditure they involved, some proposals which they might otherwise have been glad to carry out, and reducing the scale and cost of others within narrower limits than would under other circumstances have been desirable. They, moreover, limited the number of invitations to the Assemblage, and directed that no native chiefs, noblemen, or others, should be encouraged to attend it, in any case likely to involve them in expenses which they were not fully able to afford.
Notwithstanding these measures, the number of chiefs, nobles, and European visitors attending the Assemblage largely exceeded all anticipations. Of the ruling chiefs, no less than sixty-three were present, including the Nizam of Hyderabad; the Maharaja of Mysore; the Gaekwar of Baroda; the Maharajas of Gwalior and Indore, and the principal chiefs of Central India; the Maharana of Udaipur, the Maharajas of Jaipur and Jodhpur, and the principal chiefs of Rajputana; the Maharaja of Jammu and Cashmere and the principal chiefs of the Punjab; together with chiefs from Bombay, the North-Western and Central Provinces, Bengal, and Sindh. And it may here be mentioned that the aggregate populations under the direct rule of the chiefs present at Delhi approach forty millions, while their united territories exceed the combined areas of England, Italy, and France. The titular chiefs and native gentlemen attending (exclusive of members of the suites of ruling chiefs) were nearly three hundred in number, comprising the flower of the Indian nobility, and persons of distinction from almost every province of the Empire. Among them were the Prince of Arcot and the Princess of Tanjore from the Madras Presidency; the Maharaja Sir Jai Mangal Singh, and some of the principal landowners and citizens of Bengal; the Maharaja of Balrampur and the principal Talukdars of Oudh; forty representatives of the most distinguished families of the North-Western Provinces; scions of the ex-royal family of Delhi; descendants of the Saddozai of Cabul, and the Alora Chiefs of Sindh; Sikh Sardars from Amritsar and Lahore; Rajputs from the Kangra Hills; the semi-independent Chief of Amb, on the Hazara border; envoys from Chitral and Yassin, who attended in the train of the Maharaja of Jammu and Cashmere; Arbabs from Peshawar; Patan chiefs from Kohat and the Derajat; Biluch Tomandars from Dera Ghazi Khan; leading citizens from Bombay;
Gond and Mahratta nobles from the Central Provinces; Rajputs from Ajmere; and natives of Burmah, Central India, Mysore, and Baroda. In addition to the feudatories and nobles of the Empire, his Excellency the Governor-General of the Portuguese settlements in India; the Khan of Khelat; a deputation from the Sultan of Muscat; ambassadors from his Majesty the King of Siam, and the Maharaj Adhiraj of Nepal; the envoy from the Amir of Kashgar; the Foreign Consular Body; and a large concourse of English and native officials and visitors were present as spectators.
The chiefs and nobles, with their followers and most of the visitors present, were accommodated in large encampments, arranged, for the most part, in provincial groups on either side of roads converging to a central group of camps on the north side of the ridge, comprising those of the Viceroy, the Governors of Madras and Bombay, the Commander-in-Chief in India, and the lieutenant-governors and chief commissioners of provinces. For the multitude thus brought together, which cannot, with the troops, have fallen far short of one hundred thousand souls, besides horses, elephants, and camels-thanks to the complete arrangements of the local authorities-ample supplies were available.
Having completed a tour of two months' duration from Simla to Bombay, visiting in the course of his journey Peshawur, Lahore, Multan, Bhawulpore, Jacobabad, and Kurrachee, the Viceroy arrived at Delhi by special train on the afternoon of Saturday, the 23rd December, 1876. On alighting from the train he was received by the President in Council and other high civil and military officials. In accordance, likewise, with an invitation addressed to them, the ruling chiefs present in camp assembled at the railway station to take part in the reception. The Viceroy, after short conversations with the officers of Government present on the platform, turned to the native chiefs, and addressing them collectively, expressed his pleasure at meeting them, and his thanks for their attendance at Delhi. This reception formed one of the most interesting events of the assemblage. Many of the sixty-three chiefs present had never previously met each other; some had not even before left their own principalities; they, one and all, evinced the greatest eagerness to welcome the Viceroy; they moved about without ceremony or question of precedence, and were most cordial and friendly in their manner towards each other.
After conversing with the Nizam, the Maharajas Sindia and Holkar, the Maharaja of Cashmere, the Maharajas of Mysore, Udaipur, Jaipur, and others, the Viceroy mounted his state elephant, and, followed by the whole of the British officials present, proceeded in state through the principal roads and thoroughfares of Delhi to the viceregal camp. Along the line of route, from the railway station to the camp, a distance of nearly