Holden Furber; The English Utilitarians and India. By Eric Stokes. (New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. xvi, $), The American Historical Rev. OTHER REVIEWS. Jacobinism. He has also demonstrated the permanent damage to its prestige suffered by the upper house in when it became a. utilitarianism on Indian education: K. A. Ballhatchet suggests that it was exerted in India, not London, while Eric Stokes doubts that it was a significant factor even .
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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. It has been my conviction that British rule in India was not a disconnected and meaning- less fragment of English history, butthat even from the most insular standpoint it holds a mirror up to nature, reflecting the English character and mind in a way that often escapes the Englishman confined within his domestic setting. I hope that my examination of the Utilitarian influence on India will help to throw the Utilitarian movement as a whole into new perspective, and in particular I would like to think that it counters the prevalent tendency to be interested in the Utilitarians solely as abstract moral and political theorists, to the neglect of their practical aims and influence.
I have sought to show that the nature of these practical aims was deduced logically from their abstract theory, and that both fall into a system whose completeness is more obvious in Indian than in English history.
Some surprise may be occasioned by the small figure which John Stuart Mill makes in these pages, despite the thirty-five years he spent as an official at the India House. But, as I have pointed out, his official work was almost en- tirely confined to handling political relations with the Indian states, and neither by temperament nor belief was he fitted to take over the leadership of the doctrinaire programme laid down by his father and Bentham.
It is significant that the most powerful challenge to his attempt to lead the Utilitarian tradition within the fold of popular liberalism came from one whose whole faith and argument rested upon PREFACE vjii Indian experience.
It was India which most clearly exposed the paradox in utilitarianism between the principle of liberty and the principle of authority, and it was Fitzjames Stephen, on his return from India, who challenged the intellectual basis of J. I have dealt with this question in the concluding chapter. Similarly, I have dealt briefly with the other broad movement of intellectual qualification affecting the standing of the Utilitarian dogmas — that prompted by the historical and comparative method of Sir Henry Maine.
I have suggested that this current of ideas also found practical expression in a school of Indian policy. I should like to acknowledge the sympathetic help and encouragement I have received from Dr. I am particularly indebted to my friend Charles Parkin, Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, whose suggestions have done much to improve the book; and to another dear friend, the late Ian Macgregor, whose death on the Gold Coast in deprived Portuguese colonial history of a most promising scholar.
Sutton and his staff at the India Office Library have also been of great service, especially in lending books to me while in Malaya and Africa — surely a unique library service. Finally, for all the tedious work of typing and indexing, I would like to record my gratitude to Mrs.
The English Utilitarians and India
The Battle of the Two Philosophies i 2. Liberalism and the Policy of Assimilation 25 3. The Utilitarians and India 47 II.
The Doctrine of Rent and the Land Tax 81 2. The Reform of the Administration 2.
The Reform of the Superior Government 3. Macaulay as Law Member 1 84 4. The Penal Code IV. The End of the Utilitariahs Age of Reform 2.
Certainly India played no central part in fashioning the distinctive qualities of English civilization. It was a military empire in an unimperial age, a vast commitment dubiously balanoed by its actual commercial value to English industry, a possession which generated that artificial rivalry with Russia which preoccupied British foreign policy throughout the nineteenth century. Mentally it reacted upon the Eng- lish middle class by infusing an authoritarian counter-cur- rent into the main tide of Liberal opinion, so that serious men from Chatham onwards wondered whether the posses- sion of a despotically-ruled empire might not prove fatal to the cause of liberty in England.
Stokss in the earlier decades, India provided that element of scale and expansiveness to the new middle-class mind, so essential for the deployment of its political and moral ideas.
Htilitarians, considering the general public indifference to Indian affairs, it is remarkable how many of the movements of English life tested their strength and fought their early battles upon the Indian question. Insia was the same with other contemporary movements of ideas.
Evan- gelicalism, the rock upon which the character of the nine- teenth-century Englishman was founded, owed much of its impetus to the Indian connexion. Because of this family tie with India utilitarins by the Grants, the Stephens, the Thorntons, and others, Clapham and its offshoots were to send forth generations of Indian civil servants stamped with the Evangelical assurance and earnestness of purpose, if not always the old religious conviction.
The family connexion with India was repeated in the case of the Utilitarians. What led James Mill to undertake the labour of his History of British India is uncertain, but the work resulted in the sstokes of him and his son after andd the East India House and firmly fixed Utilitarian influence in Indian affairs.
The relation of such movements to India was not merely personal and fortuitous. British policy moved within an orbit of ideas primarily determined in Europe, although it lost nothing, of course, of its clothing of expediency and its habit of waiting upon events. The transformation of the Englishman from nabob to sahib was also fundamentally an English and not an Indian transformation, however much events assisted the process. Indian experience undoubtedly hardened cer- tain traits in the English character, but for their origin one needs to penetrate to the genesis of the nineteenth-century English middle class, and to the hidden springs setting its type.
The fierce, downright exterior, the instinct for his own caste and race, the consciousness of religion, the sense of a moral code and a constant dwelling under an unwritten law of duty, the eager and crude intellectual appetite — all the images the imagination must summon to picture the English- man of the early Victorian age in India, are really drawn from English social history.
This determining influence of English histoiy extends beyond character to the broad fashioning of British policy. However confused the surface of events, the tide of British policy in India moved in the direction set by the develop- ment of the British economy. The Industrial Revolution and the reversal it brought about in the economic rela- tion of India with Britain were the primary phenomena.
A transformation in the purpose of political dominion was the main result. Instead of providing a flow of tribute — a con- ception which survived at least until the end of the eighteenth century — the British power in India came to be regarded after as no more than an accessory, an instrument for ensuring the necessary conditions of law and order by which the potentially vast Indian market could be conquered for ‘ British industry.
This transformation of economic purpose carried with it a new, expansive, and aggressive attitude, which the French, who were its later masters, termed that of la mission civilisatrice. Britain was to stamp her image upon India. It was the attitude of English liberalism in its clear, untroubled dawn, and its most representative figure in both England and in India was Macaulay. The material and intellectual elements of which it was composed were the three movements which have already been described as possessing a special and particular connexion with India.
Free Trade was its solid foundation. Evangelicalism pro- vided its programme of social reform, its force of character, and its missionary zeal. Philosophic radicalism gave it an intellectual basis and supplied it with the sciences of political economy, law, and government.
These three movements were its constituent dements, but liberalism in the first age of reform could hardly be each of these things in turn. Macaulay again was the true representative. Of a middle- class merchant family, brought up among the Clapham Sect, and falling under the spell of Utilitarian doctrines at Cam- bridge in i8i8, he found the confines of each creed too constrictive. Purging them of dogma and blending their practi- cal aims and spirit, he voiced the trenchant, generous, empirical liberalism of the eighteen-twenties and thirties.
Doubtless local circumstances and the changing economic relationship between England and India opened the path for Indian reform, but the opportunity was seized by a move- ment of much more than local significance.
The whole transformation of English mind and society, as it expressed itself in liberalism, was brought to bear on the Indian con- nexion. And it was brought to bear — it is this which makes Indian history important for the most insular of English historians — by its most distinguished representatives, James and John Stuart Mill, Bentham and Macaulay.
One has only to add Maine, Fitzjames Stephen, and Morley for later Indian history, to enumerate most of the important figures in the intellectual history of English liberalism in the nine- teenth century. The Liberal current began to assert itself in India at the same time as it did in English political life.
It was from about 1 8 1 8 that the cause of reform gathered momentum. There had indeed been earlier, isolated victories. In the parliamen- tary battle of 1 8 1 3 the free-traders had stripped the Company of its commercial monopoly over India, and separately. But the movement was not homogeneous, and was prevented from exploiting its gains by Indian condi- tions. From until the British power was preoccu- pied with internal war and political problems.
The English Utilitarians And India
For it was during this period that the political map of India was given a recognizably modern shape, and the British territorial possessions, scarcely changed from the time of Clive, were expanded until they bestrode the Peninsula. Madras and Bombay rose from small coastal settlements to be the adminis- trative capitals of two great new Presidencies; the one absorbing — apart from the puppet states of Mysore and Travancore — the whole of India south of the Kistna, the other taking in a broad belt of territory in western India running from Surat in the north to join with the Madras territories in the south.
In the Bengal Presidency the British frontier was advanced from the centre of the Ganges valley to its headwaters, and a new dependent province later to be known as the North-Western Provincesstretching from Allahabad to beyond Stokess, was set up as the fruits of Wellesley’s conquests and annexations. This expansion had its own logic, but again in a sense it owed its impulse and sanction to the martial epoch through which Britain passed in the Napoleonic Wars.
By the Mahr’ktta power had been extinguished, and the political problem ceased to be of the first importance. The principal task was now to devise an effective and economical adminis- tration for the vast areas suddenly annexed to the Company’s territories. As Shelley wrote in that year in his preface to Prometheus Unbound, the cloud of mind was discharging its collected. The resistance which liberalism encountered in India was not the ordinary inertia of the existing order.
It encountered what in a more intellectualized political tradition would be called a rival political philosophy. It encountered the spirit of Burke. In the shaping of Indian policy this form of conservatism was to have a much stronger hold than in England, where the pro- gress towards an industrial society was rapidly to empty it of content.
In India, as the attitude of paternalism, it was able to make strong head against the reforming tides and to divide its opponents. It succeeded so far as to shift the emphasis of liberalism, by drawing out the latent authoritarianism yhe resided in its utilitadians. In doing this it tended to divide and confuse the Liberal aims.
Particularly did ans draw off the influence of the Utilitarians.
The English Utilitarians And India by Eric Stokes
enblish It will therefore be necessary to examine all these currents of thought, and to observe their Indian context, before the special influence of utilitarianism can be studied. The Battle of the Two Philosophies T h e setting of British administrative policy was laid at the foundations of the British dominion in India.
In the early period after Plassey expediency predominated. The immediate problem at that time was the manner in which the British should exercise their controlling power in the Bengal territories. At nidia they felt too inexperienced and unready to contemplate taking the government of the coun- try into their own hands, and had resort to the expedient of a puppet Indian government.
The attitude persisted when the considerations of expediency which had prompted it were no longer so strong. But they continued to regard them- selves as inheritors rather than innovators, as the revivers of a decayed system and not the vanguard of a new.
Social con- ditions favoured this attitude. Set on making their fortune before the climate indoa disease carried them off, they were zealots for no cause or political principle, utilitariane were content to conduct the public business according to its. Yet their very presence betokened a change in the character of government, however long its effects might be delayed. The breach had been made, and the pressure of the Directors for patronage steadily widened it until the English element in the government of Bengal predominated.
Warren Tye attempted to resist its implications. Yet he feared not only the immediate effects of releasing a horde of plundering English officials into the interior, but also the more lasting consequences df loos- ing English ideas and methods on the weakened fabric of Indian society. He tried, unsuccessfully as it proved, to confine utilitafians British element in the administration to the Supreme Government at Calcutta, and to leave the ordinary provincial administration in wtokes hands of the old Indian official class.
With its powers of jurisdiction defined in only the vaguest manner it was possible for the Court by legal construction to extend I Ninth Report of Select Committee on the A fears of InAta, xySs; Burke, fVorks, edn.
The threat that English law would displace the indigenous Hindu and Muslim system aroused in Hastings the first conscious reaction in favour of preserving Indian society and its uhilitarians against the anglicizing danger. For the first time such an attitude did not rest upon reasons of expediency but was grounded on an emotional prejudice.
It was only brought back to its original principles. As the legatee of Mughal rule the Company was regarded as bound to respect the religion and habits of the people and to preserve to them their special laws.