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gentlemen, if your uncle lived (as I have heard that he did) in Calcutta and Meer-ut, at the rate of four thousand pounds a year, that would account for a considerable share of a mine which else would seem to have been worked in vain. Unquestionably, my uncle's system of living was under no circumstances a self-denying one. To enjoy, and to make others enjoy — that was his law of action. Indeed, a more liberal creature, or one of more princely munificence, never lived.
It might seem useless to call back any fragment of conversations relating to India which passed more than fifty years ago, were it not for two reasons: one of which is this, that the errors (natural at that time) which I vehemently opposed, not from any greater knowledge that I had, but from closer reflection, are even now the prevailing errors of the English people. My mother, for instance, uniformly spoke of the English as the subverters of ancient thrones. I, on the contrary, insisted that nothing political was ancient in India. Our own original opponents, the Rajahs of Oude and Bengal, had been all upstarts: in the Mysore, again, our more recent opponents, Hyder, and his son Tippoo, were new men altogether, whose grandfathers were quite unknown. Why was it that my mother, why is it that the English public at this day, connect so false an image that of high, cloudy antiquity—with the thrones of India? It is simply from an old habit of associating the spirit of change and rapid revolution with the activities of Europe; so that, by a natural reäction of thought, the Orient is figured as the home of motionless monotony. In things religious, in
habits, in costume, it is so. But so far otherwise in things political, that no instance can be alleged of any dynasty or system of government that has endured beyond a century or two in the East. Taking India in particular, the Mogul dynasty, established by Baber, the great-grandson of Timour, did not subsist in any vigor for two centuries; and yet this was by far the most durable of all established princely houses. Another argument against England urged by my mother (but equally urged by the English people at this day) was, that she had in no eminent sense been a benefactress to India; or, expressing it in words of later date, that the only memorials of our rule, supposing us suddenly ejected from India, would be vast heaps of champagne-bottles. I, on the other hand, alleged that our benefits, like all truly great and lasting benefits (religious benefits, for instance), must not be sought in external memorials of stone and masonry. Higher by far than the Mogul gifts of mile-stones, or travelling stations, or even roads and tanks, were the gifts of security, of peace, of law, and settled order. These blessings were travelling as fast as our rule advanced. I could not then appeal to the cases of Thuggee extirpated, of the Pindanees (full fifteen thousand bloody murderers) forever exterminated, or of the Marhattas bridled forever a robber nation that previously had descended at intervals with a force of sometimes one hundred and fifty thousand troopers upon the afflicted province of Bengal, and Oude its neighbor; because these were events as yet unborn. But they were the natural extensions of that beneficent system on which I rested my argument. The two terrors of
India at that particular time were Holkar and Scindiah (pronounced Sindy), who were soon cut short in their career by the hostilities which they provoked with us, but would else have proved, in combination, a deadlier scourge to India than either Hyder or his ferocious son. My mother, in fact, a great reader of the poet Cowper, drew from him her notions of Anglo-Indian policy and its effects. Cowper, in his "Task," puts the question,
"Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
Pretty much the same authority it is which the British public of this day has for its craze upon the subject of English oppression amongst the Hindoos.
My uncle, meantime, who from his Indian experience should reasonably have known so much better, was disposed, from the mere passive habits of hearing and reading unresistingly so many assaults of this tone against our Indian policy, to go along with my mother. But he was too just, when forced into reflection upon the subject, not to bend at times to my way of stating the case for England. Suddenly, however, our Indian discussions were brought to a close by the following incident. My uncle had brought with him to England some Arabian horses, and amongst them a beautiful young Persian mare, called Sumroo, the gentlest of her race. Sumroo it was that he happened to be riding, upon a frosty day. Unused to ice, she came down with him, and broke his right leg. This accident laid him up for a month, during which my mother and I read to him
by turns. One book, which one day fell to my share by accident, was De Foe's "Memoirs of a Cavalier." This book attempts to give a picture of the Parliamentary war; but in some places an unfair, and everywhere a most superficial account. I said so; and my uncle, who had an old craze in behalf of the book, opposed me with asperity; and, in the course of what he said, under some movement of ill-temper, he asked me, in a way which I felt to be taunting, how I could consent to waste my time as I did. Without any answering warmth, I explained that my guardians, having quarrelled with me, would not grant for my use anything beyond my school allowance of one hundred pounds per annum. But was it not possible that even this sum might by economy be made to meet the necessities of the case? I replied that, from what I had heard, very probably it was. Would I undertake an Oxford life upon such terms? Most gladly, I said. Upon that opening he spoke to my mother; and the result was, that, within seven days from the above conversation, I found myself entering that time-honored university.