Imatges de pÓgina
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hanging over the heads of members, Wednesday after Wednesday, if once the aforesaid practice has been successfully employed. As regards changes in the times of sitting, if the proceedings in the House itself were alone to be considered, it is probable that the change most likely to conduce to the expeditious despatch of business and the shortening of the duration of sessions would be the adoption of the hours of what are now called "morning sittings' as the daily business-hours of the House, with the alteration already suggested as to the restriction upon counts. There are, however, two strong reasons which would weigh against such a reform; its inconvenience to Government officials and professional men, and the hardship upon those members who, being engaged upon committees, could not, without neglect of duty, be present at the debates of the House. This inconvenience is felt in no small degree when, under the present régime, 'morning sittings ' begin to be held; and its extension would be strenuously resisted. The House might gain something by meeting at three, the committees taking eleven instead of twelve as their usual hour of meeting; but even this change would be a balance of inconveniences, and would fail to affect perceptibly the principal evils of which we complain. Neither could any arbitrary rule be safely adopted, in addition to that already suggested, as to the particular hour at which one class of business should cease and another commence, or at which a division upon the question of going into Committee of Supply should certainly be taken. The House, by the establishment of such a rule, would be parting with, instead of, as in the adoption of the cloture, taking additional power, and this would be frequently found inconvenient. A discretion must be left with the House in its general arrangement of business, and it is to enable and facilitate the exercise of this discretion that the cloture is recommended, inasmuch as its absence leaves too much to the discretion---or indiscretion-of individual members, to the weakening of the power of the House itself. Further than this, the limitation upon motions for adjournment, the appointment of a general Public Bill Revision Committee, and the restriction upon the power of 'count‘ing out, seem the most feasible alterations that can be suggested, the curtailing of individual speech being left. loom*ing in the future' as a possible contingency. One still larger reform remains to be noticed-namely, the question of allowing a Bill partly discussed and dropped for lack of time, to be revived in the succeeding session, and taken up at the stage which it had already reached. This point was considered, and an adverse opinion expressed, by the Select Committee of 1861. It admits of much argument on either side, but it is purposely left

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untouched in the present article, as having reference not only to the forms and proceedings of the House of Commons, with which we have attempted to deal, but to the general course of legislation in both Houses of Parliament. There can be no

. doubt that the adoption of such a reform would, with proper safeguards, be attended with very considerable results in the direction of the more rapid progress of legislation, but it is one which might be accepted or rejected quite apart from the alterations in the internal arrangements of the House of Commons which have been herein suggested.

To all these and to any other remedies which may be proposed, there will doubtless be many objections raised and maintained. “Interference with the freedom of debate' will be held before our eyes as a terrible bugbear. We shall be

. told that we seek to limit the power of the independent portion of the House of Commons, and to fetter the free action of the Representatives of the People. Solemn warnings will be given us against increasing the tyranny of a majority and invading the sacred rights of a minority. Moreover, we shall be laughed

a to scorn as the

of alterations to which the House of Commons will never consent, and which would involve a departure from the first principles of the British Constitution. Well-be it so. The British Constitution has lasted for many a long year, the longer and the stronger, probably, from its susceptibility of continuous improvement and its adaptability to the ever-altering requirements of succeeding ages. At the present moment, the evils which we have pointed out in the legislative system of the House of Commons are great and prominent. If no remedy be applied, they will become more and more intolerable. It is for Parliament to determine whether a remedy can be found, or whether it is better that the country should suffer and the course of useful legislation be for ever impeded, rather than that the much-abused freedom of speech among legislators should be curtailed and tradition invaded and disregarded in any particular. Sooner or later the change must come, for, after all, common sense is a characteristic of Englishmen, and common sense will not for ever endure to see good measures postponed again and again, and perhaps finally deteriorated in their passage into law, merely because the House of Commons lacks the moral courage to exercise some legitimate restraint upon its own members, and chooses that the time of the country should be wasted, and defects in the law remain unaltered, sooner than exert itself to that self-reform which the voice of public opinion and the dictates of ordinary intelligence have long declared to be imperatively necessary.

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Art. IV.-1. A History of the Sepoy War in India, 1857–

1858. By JOHN WILLIAM KAYE, F.R.S., Author of the · History of the War in Affghanistan. Vol. II.

Vol. II. London: 1870. 2. Caunpore. By G. 0. TREVELYAN, Esq., M.P. London:

1865. MK

R. KAYE's new volume (the second) of his . History of the

Sepoy War,' being almost exclusively a narrative of events, evidently written after a careful investigation of facts and collation of authorities, would have given us still greater pleasure than we have derived from it, if we had not observed, scattered here and there through its pages, several intimations that the author intends to avail himself of some future occasion to substantiate his theory that the outbreak of the Sepoys was but the efflorescence on the surface of the passionate hatred of British rule burning in the veins of native Indian society. Thus at page 234 he says, speaking of the rural districts round Benares, • It was not merely that the mutinous Sepoys, hanging about ' the adjacent villages, were inciting others to rebellion (this ' was to be expected), but a great movement from within was

beginning to make itself felt upon the surface of rural society, • and for a time all traces of British rule were rapidly disap* pearing from the face of the land. Into the real character • and general significance of this movement I do not purpose • here to inquire. The investigation is an extensive one, and • must be deliberately undertaken. It is enough in this place * to speak of immediate results.' And again, at page 290, he quotes in support of his text the well-known Red Pamphlet (the author of which, as we have reason to believe, will not thank Mr. Kaye for reviving the notoriety of this clever production of his hot youth '), ' If this had been a military out

break, as some have imagined, if the dispossessed princes and • people of the land, farmers, villagers, ryots, had not made • common cause with the Sepoys, there is every reason to be* lieve that but a portion of the force would have revolted.'

But we have too high an appreciation of the merits of Mr. Kaye's work as a whole, and our feelings towards him as an author are too kindly, to suffer us to enter again into the lists of a controversy which, notwithstanding the passages above quoted, he has professed to eschew in his preface to the present volume. It is much more pleasant to follow his narrative with the admiration that it deserves.

Odimus accipitrem qui semper vivit in armis,'

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and we are content to postpone the conflict of opinion till he strikes the first blow.

There is one point, however, upon which we believe it to be essential to the truth of the history of the eventful year 1857, that we should dispute a position which Mr. Kaye appears to have taken up, though we do not see that he directly affirms it. He has devoted the forty-two first pages of his book to details of the views of the British Government, in India and at home, with respect to the removal of the once royal family of the Moguls from the palace-fort of Delhi, and to the disputed claims of the oldest and youngest sons of the possessor of the nominal sovereignty to the succession. This laboured exordium, if it mean anything in connexion with a work which has for its subject the Sepoy War, must be intended to imply that the war was stimulated and encouraged by the occupants of the palace, if, indeed, it did not owe its origin to their intrigues. For what other object could the old king, his three elder sons, their insolent boy-brother, and his termagant mother have been brought at such length and with so much pomp upon the scene at all? This whole chapter is out of place in the history, and the length at which the futile intrigues of the Queen-mother are dwelt upon is almost the only blemish in Mr. Kaye's volume. That he should have thought it worth while to give room to the gossiping dialogue between the young prince and Mrs. Fleming, the serjeant's wife, shows how hard he was driven to connect these intrigues with the Sepoy War.

We do not believe that there was any complicity between the Sepoys who mutinied at Meerut and the inmates of the palace at Delhi. We do not believe that there had been any previous understanding between the two parties, nor that when the Sepoys broke out their subsequent march to Delhi was the result of a foregone determination. On the contrary, there is

good evidence to prove that it was seriously debated whether it would not be the better plan to proceed to Bareilly. We quoted in our review of Mr. Kaye's first volume, Lord Lawrence's statement, forming part of his judgment upon Emperor, that “ Nothing has transpired on this trial, or on any • other occasion, to show that he was engaged in a previous conspiracy to excite a mutiny in the Bengal army ;' and since no one will question Lord Lawrence's acumen, and as his means and opportunities of forming a correct opinion on the subject were certainly unrivalled, we have gladly fortified our own convictions by a reference to him. His letters on the subject are now before us. Speaking of the Sepoys' debate,

the ex

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after leaving Meerut, whether they should march to Delhi or Bareilly, he writes :

'I heard the story from Moohun Lal (Burns's Monshee, in Cabul), and it was confirmed by all which I gathered subsequently in Delhi. Mohun Lal was in Delhi when the Sepoys first entered it, and he told me that they talked openly on the subject. The story was something to this effect. A Sepoy said, “Why hesitate where to go? Delhi has a fortress, an arsenal, a treasury, the King, and there are no European soldiers. That is the place to make a stand.” ?

Again

My own impression is that neither the King nor any of his family had really anything to do with the mutiny in 1857, in the first instance, though the latter, as did many Mahomedans, went in with great zeal against us, after the mutiny broke out. I do not even think that the family had much influence with the mutineers during any period of the war, not even during the siege of Delhi, though the King's name was a tower of strength in various ways for a long period. Had the mutiny succeeded, a new race of chiefs, for the most part, would have sprung up among the leaders, whom the mutiny would have brought to the front, and this was generally felt.'

We trust that after this the public will hear no more dark hints and mysterious imaginings, little more tangible than Lord Burleigh's celebrated shake of the head, about plots against British domination hatched and contrived in the palace of Delhi. The Sepoys must have been weak indeed, assuming that ever they had formed any definite plans before they broke out, to have put any trust in the idle and dissolute scions of ci-devant royalty who herded in that Court. That the King or the more active of those who used him as a puppet may have entered at a period shortly antecedent into feeble and futile intrigues with the Shah of Persia is very probable, but neither of the two could have afforded the smallest real assistance to the other.

The pity is that Mr. Kaye should have wasted so much of his time and so many good pages upon a subject so unworthy of his pen. If the space which those pages occupy had been transferred from the beginning to the end of the book, he need not have postponed to a future occasion his narrative of that most important event---the triumphant conclusion of the siege of Delhi.

So much for differences of opinion. We gladly turn to those subjects of the deepest interest to all who have hearts to feel for the bitter sufferings undergone, and to admire the brilliant heroism displayed by the sons and daughters of our race-by the latter no less than by the former-displayed alike in doing and in enduring under the most adverse circumstances, and

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