The greatest divine, scholar, and Churchman Grostdte of thirteenth-century England sprang from this despised order. Poverty was no discredit in this early time. The great revival of religion which characterized the period in which these changes were going on was that of the two orders of begging friars i 2 lo , the Franciscans and Dominicans. These missionaries revived the almost forgotten practice of preaching.
By their vows they could have no possessions. The older orders had lands, houses, money ; and the heads of the great abbeys vied with bishops and nobles in wealth and pomp.
But the two new orders did not even possess the hovels in which they were lodged. Hence they were held in great honour, J. The clergy, we are told, advised their penitents to manumit their serfs, though our informant adds somewhat spitefully, that they did not act m their own possessions on the advice which they gave so freely to others, and that even at the time of the Reformation a nominal serfdom existed on many of the abbey lands.
The last payments which I have seen made for the marriage of daughters and for non-residence on the manor are in the fifteenth and early part of the six- teenth centuries. The working classes were very prosperous during the fifteenth century, and when they were still under these obligations they appear to have bought up their dues. The action of the king, too, must have had its effect. From early times, the king provided himself on occasion with a personal army, en- listed and specially drilled, and distinct from the national militia of freeholders.
It was with this army that the wonderful victories were won in France against such prodigious odds at Cre9y, Poitiers, Agincourt, and elsewhere. It was on the model of this ancient army that Cromwell picked and drilled his Ironsides, and, again, that Marlborough and Wellington formed the troops with which they fought, to say nothing of similar feats of discipline and endurance which have characterized British armies in other parts of the world.
Though the serf was not enrolled in the militia, he could and did enter into the royal army. We learn by accident that one of the n most valiant of Edward III. In this manner the condition of the lowest class in society was gradually rising. In other countries it was more and more depressed.
The French peasant was made to bear all the weight of taxation, till he became, perhaps, more miserable than any one in the world. Nor A was the condition of the German peasant better. The peasants rose in rebellion, were vanquished, and were thrust down into more hopeless servitude. A century and a half before this time , the French peasantry tried to better their con- dition by an insurrection, in which they were also defeated and driven into a lower position I than they even occupied before.
These were the only occasions in which the common people, as they were called in these two countries, tried to better themselves by force of arms, until, of course, the terrible uprising of the French Revolution In England, however, there occurred an in- surrection 1 from which, though it collapsed and was to all appearances a failure, results of the most important kind ensued, results which entirely modified the domestic history of this country, and led to the virtual emancipation of the serfs.
The only relic of the ancient system which has survived to our day is the tenure which is known as copyhold.
In this tenure, the manor court registers successions and conveyances. It is not at all unlikely that such an evidence of title was an advantage, for even now, though a copyholder may compel the enfranchisement of his estate, many estates of this kind still exist. In ancient times the occupancy of such property marked the social condition of the holder, but as early as the fifteenth century it only indicated certain pecuniary liabilities.
I SHALL now attempt to point out by what course of events the English serf became virtually free, apart from those influences and tendencies which have been stated above. The circumstances may be exactly traced, and though complicated, can all be discovered and be assigned their several forces. It will be remembered that labour rents were generally convertible into money payments at an early period.
In course of time they were universally so commuted, these payments being a little less than the ordinary rate of wages pay- able for the service. These payments became part of the regular income of the superior lord, and are always entered as the first item of his income in the annual balance-sheet which was always made up on every estate ; these balance- sheets still exist by thousands in public and private collections.
When everything of this kind had long been settled and acknowledged, Europe was visited with a prodigious calamity in the form of a destructive pestilence. It treated every country alike, and it is calculated, with great probability, that a third of the people perished within a few months. In consequence, the profits of the more opulent landowners and agriculturists fell to next to nothing. They were forced to abandon agriculture, and to let their land and stock together on the best terms they could.
They tried to regulate the wages of their hands by act of Parliament. But the law, though re-enacted again and again, was not powerful enough to arrest the rise. They could not get back to the old rates of wages even for the farm hands, and were of course powerless to control the price of whatever else they needed to buy for the cultivation of their fields. Besides, the labourers combined together, and when the law fined some persons — few we may conclude from the whole number who took more wages than the law allowed — the labourers paid the fine out of a common fund.
Year after year, as we can see from evidence which exists, and is indisputable, wages went on rising, and of course the rents of the landowner went on falling. I am referring to the effects of Wiklifs teaching and of the instruments which he used. Wiklifs youth was contemporary with the great plague to which I have referred.
He must have been about twenty-five years of age when that appalling visitation took place. It was especially deadly at Oxford, where he was residing. Before this event it was thronged with students. Wiklif was as considerable a person in the University as Grostete had been a century before him. His learning, in what was then learning, was abundant, and his reputation was early and great.
He had the advantage it seems, too, of considerable social position, for he was a scion of a respectable and well-to-do Yorkshire family. At this time England was at war with France. Edward HI. Whatever the worth of his claim was, it was weakened by the length of time which elapsed between his right as he interpreted it accruing and the claim he made.
Every pope was a Frenchman, and was supposed to be on the French side of the quarrel. The Pope, therefore, was not so popular in England as he had been when he lived at Rome and was supposed to be impartial on public questions. People naturally believed that the great Death was a judgment for national sins.
Unhappily the calamity was followed by manifest scandals. The clergy, secular and regular, became fright- fully demoralized. It has been noticed over and over again that in such calamities men get desperate, immoral, and violent. Even the missionary orders, the friars, fell utterly from their old reputation, and rapidly lost their. The court of Rome, then at a small town in the south of France, was in great straits.
It was poor, and its administration was costly, as it could not employ its servants without wages ; and it claimed, and indeed had long exercised, the right of confirming or annulling the nomina- tion to benefices, and had even conferred these benefices in expectancy. It was filling offices in the English Church with men who never came near England, but simply took an income from it.
At that time it was said that one-third of the land of England was in the hands of the Church, besides the tithes and dues. The clergy were about one-tenth of the adult inhabitants. Now, here was plenty of material for discon- tent.
He was devout, and was dissatisfied with the morals of the clergy. He was learned in the learning of the time, and he believed that others would be the better for all the learning he could impart to them. So he struck at the Pope s power, at the authority of the monks and friars, and determined to translate the Bible into English, as well as to undertake a literary controversy. His personal popularity, his con- nections, and the situation of affairs, greatly increased and entirely account for his influence.
He naturally adopted expedients which suited the temper of his time. A century and a half before, the friars were reformers, whose conduct and preaching rebuked the older orders. Now the friars had become no better than the monks. He determined to create a new order of poor priests, who should revive the best age of the friars, who should surpass them in diligence, and should reach the hearts of the people.
Wiklif does not seem to have laid down any rule for his disciples or agents or emissaries. I make no doubt that he thought it better not to imitate the old orders in this characteristic and invariable feature of their organization. Every order of monks had a rule, or discipline, and was under a regulated authority.
So much was this the case that the order itself was often called a rule. Wiklif appears to have thought that no other discipline was necessary than that of religious zeal. Furthermore, Wiklif himself began to move away more and more from the doctrines of the Roman Church. This is what always happens. They who dispute the authority of any govern- ment are always led to examine the grounds on which that authority is founded, and ultimately to challenge the opinions of those who insist that this authority should be respected.
Just the same course of events happened a century and a half after Wiklif s time. Henry VIII. But events were too strong for them, and gradually there grew up a feeling that the tenets of the Roman Church were as unsatisfactory as its authority. On the contrary, they rather pro tected him ; for it seems that at this time thi wealthy clergy were nearly as unpopular as thi Papal authority was.
But it wa impossible for the workmen by themselves b carry out this process or to find the agents fo it. It was the essence of that old society tha every one knew what his neighbour was about The whole machinery of local justice was baso on this presumption.
Men were held respor sible for the misdoing of their fellows to a extent which we cannot realize, and, in orde to be responsible, it was necessary that the should know all that could be known of thei neighbours. Besides, they were expected to roam about, preaching and teaching. There was nothing in the system of Wiklif s priests which was at variance with the practice of the time. On the contrary, they were only doing what the friars had done, with great acceptance, for a long time. The manner of their preaching was very familiar, and as yet they were careful of the matter of their preaching, or perhaps nobody beyond the working men paid much attention to what they said.
It is plain that these poor priests supplied the organization which the work-people could not have created themselves, and were the treasurers of the fund subscribed for common purposes. We come to this conclusion, partly because we know of no other agency which could have been employed, partly because we know that there was a powerful and secret combination, partly because the general judgment of the time fastened on the poor priests the responsibility of the events which followed.
They are dis- tinctly said to have preached about the natural equality of man, and to have called in question the claims of superiority which the noble and wealthy classes made, and had for so long a time given effect to. In practice he had, at a period more or less remote, paid for his hold- ing by his labour. His lord had agreed to take money in place of labour. But at the present time the labour cost twice as much as the com- mutation came to.
It was not, they argued, unfair that this bad bargain should be revised, and a new one entered into which was more just to the landlord. They proceeded to put this plan into execu- tion, and to imprison those who resisted pay- ment.
They took the same steps with some of the poor priests who were more imprudently outspoken than others were. The time seemed favourable. The king was a child. His prin- cipal guardian, John of Gaunt, had become very unpopular, and his half-brothers, a great deal older than he was, were already distinguished by violence and misconduct. In an instant, and on the same day, there broke out an insurrection which extended over nearly the whole of England. It was strongest in what was then the wealthiest part of England, the eastern counties.
The king and his advisers evidently wished, when Parliament met, to get rid of all the con- ditions of serfage as they existed in their modified form. But the landowners would not hear of this, as was not unreasonable. But no attempt was made again to revive the old money payments. Gradually the estates of the serfs assumed a new form, under the name o f copY - halds, and these estates, though they often had peculiar customs, were as much secured to the owners as any other.
Custom, therefore, and an insurrection ap- parently unsuccessful, but really, as far as its purposes went, a complete success, put an end to a system which had long existed, and seemed likely to endure.
We do not know how it was that the money rents of the copyholders were extinguished, while other peculiarities connected with their holdings survived. But we do know that within two or three generations of this memorable insurrection, men of family and fortune purchased copyholds, now free from servile taint. But, on the other hand, in other countries, and especially in France, the lot of the inde- pendent cultivator grew worse and worse.
A tenant at will, across the channel, was in a far better position than the owner of land under an inferior or agricultural tenure in England, in very early days. At last, the most tremendous convulsion that the world has hitherto seen occurred, in which the innocent and the guilty, the just and the unjust, perished in a common ruin.
This is called the French Revolution of 1 The English people knew who it was who had really wrought this work. His mind was set on political and religious reforms. I mention them in the order in which they occurred to him. They were thenceforth persecuted. In order to stop their mouths, twenty years later a law was enacted providing that no clergyman should preach without a bishop's licence, even after he was ordained; and it is alleged that much of the violence and misdoing which brought about the great war of succession between the adherents of York and Lancaster was due to the silencing of the preachers.
Wise men, who disliked the reformers heartily, saw that universal repression was an error. One i can only get glimpses from time to time of the secret way in which these teachers of the early Reformation kept up their work stealthily and in danger, for the proof of their activity is found only when they were captured and executed. It was specially in Norfolk that these emissaries 1 of the reformed faith laboured, and more sufferers under the heresy laws perished in Norfolk before the time of Henry VIII.
I do not here enter into the merits of the war of succession in the fifteenth century, or into those of the struggle between king and parlia - ment in the seventeenth, but it is remarkable that the geographical line which separated the two contending parties on each of these memor- able occasions, was almost exactly the same as that which divided England in the uprising of The English kings were powerful, but never absolute.
Probably there never was and never could be an absolute monarch, for a king must act through agents, and then what he calls his 8. I believe that there cannot be conceived a more painful posi- tion than that of a monarch who wishes to do well by his people, but, being conceived and admitted to be absolute, is obliged to bear the unpopularity of those who exercise all his authority under the shield of his greatness.
Two things always checked the English king, custom and a council ; the former, it is likely, far more powerful at first than the latter.
His council was not that of his servants, but of his critics, perhaps his opponents, occasionally his enemies, whom he had to consult or to conciliate, who gave him advice, which might be very un- palatable, or checked his purposes, which might be more so. There were sure to be differences of opinion in this council, of which the king and his immediate ministers might take adroit ad- vantage, as happened more than once in English history, or there might be unanimity which was, as the case might be, helpful or dangerous.
In time the smaller tenants were excuseH attendance, and only the great ones summoned. It was a sign of disaffection, per- haps of revolt, if any of these great persons refused to attend, or even neglected the summons. The principal occasion on which the king needed the attendance of his council was when he wanted money. If he wanted extraordinary help — no rare event in unquiet times — he had to ask for it, and to risk a refusal.
But there lurked in this clause what is the origin of all popular power in Parliament, the right of those who were asked to refuse and to give reasons for their refusal.
Even the most headstrong of rulers, as long as he is of sane mind, does not wilfully wish to be unpopular. At last, after a more than usually severe quarrel with one of our kings, the leader of the reforming party, or at least of the opposition to the king's purposes, bade every county and every considerable town send two or more representatives to that assembly which had gradually got the name of a Parliament. But lEdward I.
Thirty years ifter — perhaps at an earlier date, but from the ater period the record is continuous — he revived he elected Parliament. Exactly six hundred vears ago 13 Edward I.
From the first, these Parliaments were invited to aid the king and to assent to laws. It is said that the king s maxim was, that what con- cerns all should have the consent of all ; and Edward was bent on making extensive altera- tions in the common or customary law.
At first he seems to have enacted these changes by his own authority. Soon, however, he put his intended reforms before Parliament. At first the old council and the new representatives sat together. The old council became the House of Lords or Peers, and generally sat with the king in what was called the Painted Chamber. We do not know who it was who elected these members.
There is no early law defining the qualifications of the electors. Generally the Parliament was summoned in order to make the king a grant in aid of his ordinary revenue, and notice was, therefore, unwelcome.
But it is certain that all the owners of property were taxed. The taxing rolls for, say, Edward L's time are still in existence, and with a little pains one could make a shrewd guess from them as to the population in those parishes of which the records are preserved. The representatives were paid for their attendance, a custom which continued till the seventeenth century.
The Parliament gradually gained power, es- pecially in weak reigns and in troublesome times. It made the assent of Commons as well as Lords necessary for legislative acts, and was taken into counsel on questions of foreign policy during the first great war with France In matters which the king did not bring before it, but itself undertook, it presented its own attempts at legislation in the form of petitions, to which the king agreed if he approved of them, or rejected under a civil expression to the effect that he would be advised about it.
The king generally invited these assemblies in order to lay before them his wants and to invite their assistance. Now, the Lords were his council, his peers, and he sat with them, as the sovereign is still sup- posed to sit on the throne in the House of Lords. Now, it was rather invidious to discuss the king s necessities in his presence, and a custom early grew up of referring this matter to the Commons, who made their grants, and returned them to the council of the Lords. Besides, the constitution of the Upper Chamber was very peculiar and very uncertain.
The majority was generally of the clergy, the bishops, and heads of monasteries. The lay peers were summoned very irregularly. In one Parliament there might be ninety or a hundred, in another, even in the next year, not one-fifth the number. But the Commons were always present.
They were paid for their attendance, and would have forfeited their wages had they been absent. It is probable that the Commons selected some one or more of their own number to com- municate between them and the king.
He was called the Speaker, because he addressed the king on their behalf. At last it was fully recognized that no tax could be imposed without the consent of Parlia- ment, and that this consent must be first asked in the House of Commons.
Thus the House of Commons is absolute over the whole revenue, and it is from this power of taxation that the Commons have become at last able to under- take practically the whole government of the country. It is stated above that we have no early information as to who the electors were. It is probable that, in the towns, the burgesses were allowed to make bye-laws regulating the mode of election, so that, in course of time, there was every conceivable court of electors, from uni- versal suffrage to selection by a very limited number of persons.
The towns, too, were of all sizes. Some must have been very poor places from the very first, but as long as the custom of creating new boroughs went on, none of any considerable size were left without representa- tives. Each county sent two knights — Yorkshire no more, and Rutland no less. Two counties were under a peculiar local government, Chester and Durham, and were not represented in Parlia- ment at all.
The representatives of the counties were evidently considered superior to those which were sent from the towns.
They were paid higher wages, they were occasionally con- sulted, after and in the absence of their town colleagues, and for a long time the Speaker was always selected from this contingent. Additions were made to the boroughs, appa- rently on no intelligible principle. The boroughs in Cornwall, Wilts, and Surrey, were very numerous, and it is difficult to believe that some of these were ever considerable places. The king was supposed to bid them send members at his discretion.
Sometimes the town refused to obey the mandate, for the charge of the member's wages was heavy, and was met by taxing the townsfolk. Sometimes the inhabitants petitioned against the costly honour.
The two English Universities, on the other hand, after the Reformation, petitioned Eliza- beth for the privilege of representation. The queen rejected their prayer, but James con- ceded it. The nomination of members was made in the counties at the county court, and the election was by a show of hands.
Itdoes not seem that a poll was ever demanded or taken, and the sheriff, who was the returning officer, who filled up the writ and returned it with the names into the proper office, must have exercised this dis- cretion, in case there were a plurality of nomi- nations, in deciding who were the candidates favoured by the majority.
We are not told who were the electors, till a statute of informs us. The petition was granted, and a law, as the custom then was, passed on it. But this was, it seems, only intended to reaffirm and enforce ancient custom, for seven years before a return after six days' notice was acknowledged to be an irregularity, and one that should not be a precedent.
But in this same Parliament, the right to the franchise was decided, after a petition to the effect made 'by the Commons to the king, to belong to all suitors in the county court and others — a form of words which implies that the j act bestowed universal suffrage in the counties, i The sheriff and the electors were to seal the ; writ.
The use of seals was universal. One of the com- monest kinds of seal among poor persons was a coin. In , when Bunyan feared that he would be again subject to persecution, he made over all his goods by deed of gift to his wife, and sealed the document with a twopenny piece.
It was further demanded that the elected knights should reside in the county which chose them. The petition was granted, and an act passed on it. Ten years afterwards, it is further enactecj that the freehold must be i n the same county,. This restricted franchise remamed the only qualification in the counties till , i,e. Since the landownersTiaH given up cultivation on their own account, the tenants on leases or at will had become very numerous.
There is no reason to believe that the freeholders had increased in numbers. If one takes the ordinary rent of arable land at the time, and this was the best of the cultivable land, we shall find it to have been about sixpence an acre, scarcely ever more, very often less.
The qualification is therefore eighty acres of arable land. But it is certain that such a holding involved, on an average, common rights in the common pasture to about an equal extent, for in those days at least half the land in every parish was unen- closed, open, and free for pasture to all the inhabitants. The patriotic stop-at-homes, however, were prom ised as reward, 'ample facilities for out-door recreation'. But that very thing has been lacking since Enclosure.
So the Minister of Agriculture 'appealed' to landowners, and particularly to 'o wners of mountains and moorlands', to 'permit. The modest ma n's life, limb, property and family were at the unrestricted disposal of the Government.
Only this humble request could be made to the present-day successors of the squires who enclosed. Whether any Englishman trod a mountain or moor as a result, we may safely doubt.
For fifty years, in this free country, a Bill to gain for the descendants of John Yeoman 'access' to his native mountains was regularly thrown out by Parliament. In it was suddenly allowed to become law - but in such a form that in practice nothing has been changed; and during the war enclosure and restriction have been carried even further. The emperors of Austria were also archdukes and count s of so much else that their titles filled a page. The grandees of Spain decked themselves in fl owery chains of titles.
Oriental potentates call themselves the Son of God, Daughter of the Moon, Lord of this, that and the other. I know no title so grandiloquent and arrogant as, 'Owner of Mountains and Moorlands'. In this country you may ask an ordinary looki ng man his calling, and he may reply, 'Oh, I own mountains and moorlands'.
And if you then say, 'Sir, what of that humble, forlorn, impoverished and sickly looking fellow over there? Would you permit him briefly to use one of your mountains - not a big one, of course, but one of your smaller and par tly worn mountains? I am putting a railing round it'. When the South Africans may not climb Table Mountain, or the Australians be forbidden to use Sydney Beaches, they may realize how confined we have become since Enclosure.
Consider this picture of conditions near two of our greatest cities, from an article on the Access to Mountains Bill by Professor Joad:. A person visiting the Central Station at Manchester on a sunny Sunday morning might. He would be wrong.
Looking closely, he would see that all the supposed refugees were reasonably young and vigorous; in f act, they were not refugees at all, but only ramblers escaping from Manchester. From 7. Rucksacks are piled on the platforms; hobnails clink on the stone; sandwiches bulge from the pockets of tweed coats. By half -past nine the station is empty; the trains have taken them away to Edale and Chinle y for a day on the Derbyshire moors.
It is, I submit, impossible not. Taki ng them by and large, our northern industrial. For a hundred years men and women stayed in these places because they must, worked in them, played in them, and on Sundays, when piety. To-day biking has replaced beer as the shortest cut out of Manchester. Between Manchester and Sheffield there are some square miles of moorland. A great belt of spacious country, empty save for a few moorland villages. Some parts, as where Kinderscout raises its ugly head some two thousand feet above sea level, are grim and bleak: others are a spread of bracken and purple heather cleft by deep valleys with fast-running streams.
This country is in the highest degree exhilarating; it tones up both spirit and body and, appropriately, it lies in the heart of the most thickly populated area in England - stretching on the east to the gates of Sheffield and the urban agglomerations which sprawl over the south of Yorkshire, on the west almost to Manchester and the teeming populations of the cotton towns.
It would be difficult to. Yet of the total area all but 1, acres is closed to the public; , acres are in private ownership and sacred to the pres ervation of grouse; 39, acres are owned by local authorities some of whom mysteri ously debar the citizens whom they are supposed to represent, from access to the land of which, as citizens, they are owners.
Over all this stretch of country the hand of the keeper lies heavy. Walkers are frowned at by notice boards and everywhere tres passers will be prosecuted. On Sundays hundreds of walkers are carefully shepherded along the public footpaths. In the whole district there are only twelve of these wh ich are over two miles in length, and on fine Sundays you will see a continuous file of wa lkers following one behind the other for all the world as if they were a girls' school taking the air in 'crocodile'.
What a picture! I know no country which can offer one distantly comparable with it. Enclosure has produced results worse even than those which the 'bold and hardy husbandmen' foretold. Nowadays this dog-in-the-manger disease is not confined to the group with which it began. It has spread through the whole community. Every little local Bumble's ambition is to put a railing round something; it makes him feel important, and he en closes the pieces of greensward, the public parks, which alone remain to the English from their gr eat heritage of commonly-shared land.
Hence our fortified parks, an English monopoly; anywhere el se it would be thought mad to put a hideous iron fence round that which is meant for all. Consider this ludicrous picture from the daily press:. Though railings surrounding Ashton Park, Pr eston, have been removed for war purposes, the gates are locked at night. Boys collect at closing time and tell the park keeper not to lock himself in.
But it is no joke. It is a formality that must be carried out so that the town does not lose its rights of closure when the park is enclosed again. What is the town but the townspeople? Who but they have rights in the park, the last place they may go to? But the thing goes even further.
It leads to the enclosure of the little squares in which London abounds, places which might relieve much of the surrounding ugliness. They, too, were imprisoned, and behind a curtained window a watchman, the repr esentative of the 'Committee of Management', kept jealous watch to see that no child played on the grass or puppy on the paths. Came the war, and the railings were removed. New the Committees, resolved to have these monstrosities restored immediately peace breaks out, co mplain in the newspapers of the affront done to those who 'pay for the upkeep' a shilling a week from each householder by the sight of citizens using the paths or sitting on the seats in a warm noonday hour.
The mania has infected the very descendants of those who were driven from the land. The Englishman's ambition seemingly is to acquire a little house and garden and enrail it.
The railing keeps nothing out and nothing in. The dog jumps over or squ eezes through; the burglar steps across. But the sight of his railing apparently makes the Englishm an feel, in a small way, like those who benefited from the great Enclosures, like a little lord of the manor.
Enclosure, I wager, is chiefly to blame for the way the Englishman has enclosed his spirit. He moves through the old books and tales as a man, forthright, plain-speaking, independent, intolerant of petty oppression.
Nowadays he encloses himself; he immu res his spirit; his instinct is to repress his emotions and his thoughts; he hedges. And 'to hedge' is the precisely apt word. He is enclosed. Such are the effects of Enclosure, and they grow ever worse. The few who profited claim that all has been for the best. The Mar quess of Salisbury, in propounding Post-War Conservative Policy , affectionately quotes another peer, Lord Stamp, as 'showing' that 'the average man at the end of the nineteenth century had become four times as well off as his predecessor at the beginning, and the same development has continued into the twentieth century, including the decade before the present war'.
Medical records, certainly, show that we are far healthier than we were. But the argument collapses when the infallible test is applied. We have ceased to multiply. Englishmen no longer wish, as their forefathers wished, to bring many children into a worl d in which they will be four times as well off.
For many years, even after Enclosure, we increased exceedingly. Belief in the world, and faith in the future, were hardy plants, not easily discouraged. Now, they droop. Does any sign offer that, after this new world war fo r freedom, a spirit of freedom will prevail; that the land will be liberated, at least that part which on ce was commonly shared; that an Englishman will be free to climb a mountain? For Enclosure only works one way. The small man's fence will not avail him if the squires wish to hunt across his acre.
Remember the Devonshire man who twice asked the fox hunters to keep off his poultry farm, where he sought to make a living. To-day, under the threat of starvation, the English countryside thrives again within its Enclosure. No scrap of land that will grow food must be wasted, we are told. The fox destroys much food. It c ould be quickly exterminated. Hunting has never exterminated the fox.
It is not meant to. It is the pastime of the w ealthy and the foxes are jeal ously preserved for it. The Minister of Agriculture was asked 'whether he was satisfied that foxes were being as rapidly and economically exterminated by foxhunting as they c ould be by any other met hod; and, if not, whether he would instruct masters of foxhounds that they mu st either show better results or cease to operate during war time? Listen to the reply: 'The answer to the first part of the question is, Yes; th e second part therefore does not arise.
The history of Enclosure shows that the English squires were the first Bolshevists. They were Reds. They seized the land of others. It was the most galling and debilitating thing ever done to the English spirit. It is vain to think of 'constructing' a be tter England after this war unless the causes of our present plight are first realized. This is foremost among the things that should be changed. Of our two great parties, the Labour Party behaves to wards this paramount question as a tame elephant might behave to a wild tiger.
The other Party, which alone is politically vigorous, is directly descended from the enclosing squires, with their faro debts, and has not changed its mind since The Marquess of Salisbury's Post-War Conservative Policy puts its heaviest veto on 'the nationalization of agriculture'. Well, this Party took the land which was not theirs. That part of England, if they could ever look beyond class, th ey would liberate; they would still hold enough, the bulk. That would not be 'nationalization' but restitution and the amendment of a criminal misdeed.
The Minister of Agriculture grew quite heated when he was urged to check staghunting in war time. It is a monstrous paradox. If freedom exists at all in the minds of men, this country is the home of it, and men who love it are unitedly on our side to-day, because they know they cannot win or regain it, save with us and through us. When we win, th ey will get this freedom. The bold and hardy husbandman of France will blithly work on his plot, liberated from the watch of alien masters.
Even our enemy, the bold and hardy husbandman of Germany, rid of the interference of Nazi officials, will. The bol d and hardy husbandmen of Serbia, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Greece, Norway, Poland, will re-enter into the enjoyment of their fields. We alone are shorn of this , the half of freedom. The sun stepped down, and the shadows crept out from the oak. The premonitory hush of evening gathered over the peaceful scene. In the inn behind me, mugs and glasses clattered, as all was made ready for the labourers who would come when their work was done.
I needed to go, because soon dusk would fall, and the blackout, and the sirens, and the noise in the air. First, I went for a moment into the little church hard by. The most utter peace I ever knew filled its cool nave. I looked at the memorial to the dead of the last war; beneath it lay a few fading flowers.
I read the long list of vicars stretching back far to Thomas de This and Wilfrid de That in Norman times.
Then I noticed that one part of the old church was newly restored, and different from the rest. I found a tablet which told that in the last war a Zeppelin bomb. Even here! Even in this peace! These two wars, I thought, would follow you into the deepest glade of the darkest forest; you would find an unexploded bomb there, or a crater.
I took the car and drove back, still musing on the enchanted scene I thus discovered. As I came into. Emptier and emptier were the streets. With the thickening dusk, the traffi c lights took on a jewel-like brilliance. I reached Portland Place and, while I waited for the red light to change, the sirens called. I put the car away, and. Another day was over, and a daylight dream of England.
Where does England stand, within its still unbroken citadel, as it approaches peace and the greatest. The long siege has been withstood; through the sally-ports surge those men,.
Mafficked and Municked, the crowds will sing and dance and cheer again. Shall the colours peel from that picture again, as we walk down Civvy Street?
Shall we find it, marked '2s. Here was a Haunted House, a place where the ghosts of a million men and countless million hopes walked. Banished to oblivion in Lambeth, it was an eerie place, the sha bby sepulchre of an idealistic generation.
Here, in pictures that attracted great crowds in , were 'the boys' going over the top on the Somme or floundering in the mud at Ypres, the Royal Flying Corp s pilots setting out in Morane Parasols, the old uniforms and equipment - things as dead and meaningless as battle-axes and arquebuses.
To-day again this little island has saved the way of lif e on this planet as we know it. Our world may be small; if you consider the universe and the planets as a limitless sea with a few fish in it, it is indeed a very small plaice. But it is important for us. This island vanquished, and neither the decapitated empire nor America would have escaped conquest. That woul d have meant a new order in this world and by no stretch of imagination which we can reach, a better one, whatever our present lot.
Where do we stand now, who live in this insignificant and supremely important fragment of earth, the British island? Miniver , which will show them their island during the siege. It was made far away and the players do not speak th e English of this land. Hollywood, which showed Vienna during the last impoverished years of its d ecline as a place of gay uniforms, countesses, wine, song and lilac, now shows them England besieg ed: a place where well-poised feudal squires and squiresses emerge from their Enclosures to deal fi rmly, tactfully and kindly w ith the Blitz and with a chorus of half-witted yokels.
How sick am I of this picture! While our isla nders fought all over the globe, the Ministry of Information produced in their honour a series of short films called Into Battle. The first was about friendly aliens in a non-combatant unit! Among some fine types of men in it, I recognized one who followed, in a certain foreign city, the second oldest calling in the world. By no standard, can such a picture deserve pride of place in this island.
The means of implanting the suggestion that we ar e second-rate are now so great, and the films and radio so subtly spread it, that the native character, already sorely injured by Enclosure, may be further undermined. Two American soldiers once asked the Brai ns Trust what thing they might take back with them to America, which could count as typically English'.
The answers were: 'A bottle of English beer'; 'Some crumpets; 'Mr. Winston Churchill, but we can't spare him'; and, 'the English word, "quite".
Such was the distillation of English culture. A piece of an English railing might be an answer. Only one real answer exists, and all those lips. Because Shakespeare is the greatest writer living. It is sinister that this is the only answer we can make. A Frenchman, a German, a Hollander, a Norwegian could offer many answers even to-day. We have lost so much that we have nothing else that is typically English.
True, by diving into the pa st we might find somethi ng: a Sheraton chair or a Chippendale cabinet, a picture by Constable or Crome, pewter, homespun. But to-day? A piece of Wedgwood, perhaps, or a bulldog?
Certainly not a f ilm about England during the siege; that, we import! We cannot export an enclosed estate or a derelict area. No, the only answer is Shakespeare, who lives to-day as he lived centuries ago. We might offer the world the voice of England, but it is silent. This voice we hear is not the voice of those who toil, or fight, or serve, and long to better our island lot. Since this great new thing, broadcasting, was made the monopoly of the politicians of the day - after the war, a Free English broadcasting station should be set up somewhere abroad - only the mealy- mouthed and the tongue-in-cheeked may enter there.
That hour in the week, after the Sunday evening news, when more people than at any other time settle themselves to listen, was once filled with broadcasts that sought to invigorate and stimulate, to contribute to an improvement in our affairs.
Now we rarely hear any but those who know how to sp eak long and say little, to embroider verbiage with flowery compliments to men in office; it is like th e uttermost hell, where sinners are condemned to listen for all eternity to interminable aldermen.
Compensation for the lack of anything to listen to, at this upward end of the broadcasting scale, was offered when began.
We were permitted by the gr ace of the song pluggers to hear, at its lower extremity, the sound of gastric wind being expelled from the human body, or a lifelike imitation. The song of whom or what was it typical? Then second thoughts seemingly set in at broadcasting headquarters, for 'Right in der Fuehrer's face' was broadcast with silent gaps in the places which this sound previously occupied.
The Press, which overlooks nothing of importance, indignantly told its readers that the B. Came the dawn, and another day in the life of England. I love to picture the ladies and gentlemen of the Board of Governors banning questions about Enclosure, for instance, while raspberries are blown across the overladen air. With all this sealing of lips, save for the purpose of blowing raspberries, the spirit of England at home is astonishingly different from that which our fighting men show in action and which the world now salutes again.
Outside the fortress, are staunchness, dogged endurance, valour and resolve; within, are repression, self-seeking, babel and trivial talk. The broadcasting monopoly, which is enormously wealthy, entrenched in privilege, and commands th e entire talent of the country, should be the spokesman of the nation, because it speaks to the w hole world. How can we give of our best, from within the island fortress, save through it?
Once the Brains Trust was asked, 'If you had six months to live, how would you spend them? Another said he would spend the time 'in a mortal funk'. This at a time when our men, on land, on all the seas and in the air, face death as their daily lot!
The Brains Trust itself grew restive in the shack les that were put on it and some of its members clamoured for the raising and widening of the debate. At that, another member complained that 'the highbrows' were trying to ruin the Brains Trust, th at we were fighting, after all, for 'low-brows' and democracy, and that the Brains Trust must be ke pt 'lowbrow'. This diverting argument was most typical of our island to-day. The brain lives be hind the brow, and lowness of brow was a chief characteristic of the first men who went on two legs.
It may be studied in any monkey house. I love to. The contrast between the British achievement in the wo rld, during the last three years, and the spirit of the home island, as it is evinced in the only way it can express itself, through our broadcasting, is staggering in its incongruity.
It shows that the worthi est battle remains to be fought when this battle is done: the battle for the spirit of England. The beginning and end of that battle is, Freedom.
A battle for anything else, in England, would be worthless. But a man must understand what he stri ves for. How would a simp le man define Freedom, the thing we have not? Freedom is a thing of innumerable facets, but split it, and it has but two halves. Th e first is the half we have lost, the freedom to enjoy and use a part of our native land. The second half is the greater half, because the first half rests on it.
It is, freedom from wrongful arrest and wrongful imprisonment. Given these two things, a man is as free as he need wish to be on this planet; the rest is for him to make. Freedom of speech, assembly, religion, contract , and the rest, are smaller facets. These are the two halves of the jewel. The first half was taken from us through Enclosur e. The second half, the only basis on which freedom can be built, we kept through thick and thin. Now it has been taken from us, with the connivance of the same Commons which enclosed the free lands, by men who say they will give it back when the war is over.
We should not rest until that first ha lf of the jewel is taken from the safe and restored to us, and then we should set out in search of the second half. The danger is, that few realize the worth of this priceless thing. Everywhere I went before this war, I found that, while the English reputation sank like a declining sun, from China to Abyssinia, from Austria to Czechoslovakia, this thing still gave th e Englishman a feeling of superiority over others.
They shared that feeling. Here, they thought, walks a free man. In no other country I knew obtained, in our full measure, the law that no man might be arrested and held without immediate publication of the charge ag ainst him, or imprisoned without open trial.
In France, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Italy, Roumania, Greece, Bulgaria and Germany, the policeman, magistrate or judge, in greater or lesser degree, mi ght detain and intimidate men, and delay or falsify the processes of the law, so that no man felt free.
Cash and corruption entered largely into the system, and often justice and the police were but instrument s of victimization wielded by persons in office. In the Scandinavian countries, Holland and Switzer land, which seemed to me the happiest and best- run in Europe, an order akin to ours prevailed. For your E-Ceilidh or Barn Dance. Wixamtree WIXD Three songs written from information in transcripts from interviews with people who have worked in, or whose partners have worked in the world-renowned sand industry of Leighton Buzzard.
The Engine Boy. Contact page. Please make cheques payable to:. A celebration of the history, future, traditions and legend of Marston Vale, Bedfordshire. Little Italy. Bedfordshire Brickmakers. Man of Clay. Limited Edition of Copies. NB: This is not a studio recording but was recorded in the school on mobile recording equipment. The school choir appear on the songs marked with an asterisk.
Wixamtree WIX A celebration of years of the British canals. The Duke of Bridgewater. The Bold Navigators. I have recently been magistrate in the taluk of , and almost every day had to try a number of frauds on the salt revenue, as they are termed. It distressed me exceedingly to pass sentences upon the poor wretches brought before me, but my duty was to administer the law, and I took care to do it as humanely as possible.
Here is an instance of the way in which the law works. A case came before me in which a labourer had shifted his place of residence, and had made himself a new mud hut.
When he came to occupy his hut, he found the earth-floor strongly impregnated with saline particles ; he scraped up some of the dirt, separated the parts as well as he could, and put the " salt " he had collected outside to dry. This was observed by a revenue collector; the man was proceeded against, was imprisoned, and was condemned to receive some lashes, but the last part Mr. That is, in buying five-pennyworth of salt, one half-penny represents the value of the condiment, and fourpence-halfpenny the tax upon it.
The period we have under review is that already mentioned, viz. During that time the population, allow- ing for checks by famine and by other calamities — in one night, in the delta of the Megra river in Bengal, nearly one hundred thousand people were drowned by a cyclonic wave sweeping across the low level country — the increase cannot have been more than, at the outside, twenty per cent. As a matter of fact, it has been less, but we will accept that estimate.
That is, salt is now several Jeveaue! Yet Englishmen are told, by official apologists, that we have made life easier and better for our Indian fellow-sub- jects, that all the advantages of our rule — and they, it is said, are legion — have been for the people. Rather, it seems that while the native rulers whipped the people with whips we have scourged them with scorpions. About eight years ago, Mr. In that poem, apostrophizing English supremacy, Mr.
Keene asked, — ' What has your civilization done for the people here? Has it made them prosper? Skulking in rotten cabins, like foul and famished ghosts ; While you live at Simla concocting statistics and well-paid posts ; Standing like trees between the soil and the beams of God, Furnishing each clod-hopper with one supporting clod?
This is not your ideal? Well, and what is it then? Flatulent Bengal students aping the manners of men? It would be tedious here to follow out the several acts of our statesmen which have led to so discreditable an issue. A glance at the revenue returns confirms the opinion formed on the spot in India, as to the unsatisfactory nature of our rule. After seeing with one's own eyes what is to be seen, the conclusion cannot be avoided that nearly the whole course of present trouble arises from the fearful and unnecessary expense of our way of doing things in a country which we won by craft and by the sword, and which we are only able to keep by deeds of oppression and by resources wrung from the vitals of the people.
It is time to put an end to this state of things, or — if things have progressed so far that an end is not possible, except at the cost of more effort than even a resolute people like the British would be prepared to undertake — that there was such an immediate grappling with the subject as shall, at least, procure amelioration.
Now that India is virtually ruled by the House of Commons, every Englishman is guilty of serious dereliction of duty who does not strive, so far as in him lies, first, to understand the country and the people, and, then, steadily and unweariedly, to use every means in his power to bring relief to the suffering and oppressed.
Since my return from India, scarcely any- thing in the conduct of my countrymen has struck me more than their pathetic wish to uplift India, their strenuous desire to do something for the Indian people, if only they knew how to act, if they could only learn what there is for them to do. Before everything else the Right under- Englishman's mind must be cleared of cant about the inferiority of the Indian and his excessively wicked character.
I also know that it is only j in the adoption by British electors of such a view as I have ; indicated, and by action appropriate taken thereupon, the i, regeneration of India may come. Then it may come, whence alone it can come, viz. Only by remedial effect of this kind it is possible for us to cleanse out 44 souls, in however slight a degree, of the wrong we have done in the past.
The way before us, to a better state of things, may be long, the difficulties in the path leonine : nevertheless there lies our duty. I am persuaded, if my fellow-countrymen could but appreciate things as they are in India, sooner or later, and sooner rather than later, the right course would be taken. The misconceptions which have to be cleared from our minds before we can hope to understand the needs of India do not apply to individuals merely : they affect the whole range of efforts commonly current relating to the country.
Englishmen, as a rule, are not made acquainted with India as it is. Their conceptions generally are formed upon impressions gained from official utterances, the prevailing Roseate utter- tone of which is always roseate. That is, to the hasty glance. On the face of things, all is smooth and satisfactory : the balance sheet for the year seems satisfactory. It is only afterwards that the accounts are found to be eight millions wrong, that this sum had actually been spent, when the accounts are made up, and no record of the expenditure appeared.
Not wishing for a moment to impute to anyone a conscious desire to mislead, I cannot refrain from saying that a more complete misunderstanding is not possible than is contained in the ideas which maybe formed upon the statements of those who, from the official standpoint, address the English pubHc on Indian affairs.
Hunter, the Editor of the Imperial Gazetteer of India, during his residence in Britain, has delivered lectures in Birmingham and elsewhere, on what England has done for India. In those lectures there is probably not a single assertion which, in itself, is not absolutely accurate, yet the whole Misleading in- effect of the dcHverance is sadly misleading.
India, as it is formation. Hunter's graphic descriptions. Still, even he, with all his predilections towards magnifying the good 45 and minimizing the bad of English rule, is unable to prevent Dr. Hunter the hideous truth in much of its painful nakedness occasion- ally becoming visible. The awful fact which I have put in the forefront in this Letter, viz. Hunter's addresses, with reluctance, and as if against his will. Another example of the kind, but more glaringly unfair, is to be found in the handsome volume on ' India in ,' by Sir Richard Temple.
Here, again, the facts cited, with one or two minor exceptions, cannot be gainsaid, but the total effect is inevitably to create a false impression. It is as correct a description of India in its varied moods as would be the exhibition of a picture — say, one of Sir Richard's own painting, which, in Indian galleries, have brought him no little praise — depicting the bewitching beauty of the morning dawn or evening twilight under tropical skies, which should be de- clared to be thoroughly satisfactory of all the moods, fierce noon-tide heat, terrible drought, awful cyclone, which the climate of India exhibits.
Even the ghastly horrors of famine, and the maintenance of starving labourers on one pound weight of grain per day, in Sir Richard Temple's hands, become pleasant to the eye and endurable to the mind. India, although it has provided both fame and fortune to Sir Richard Temple and Dr. Hunter, ought not to be entrusted to them for exhibition — that is, if satisfaction is to be given either to Indians or to Britons, or, what is of greater importance, if violence is not to be done to truth.
The Anglo-Indian Reformer sighs as he reads the Baronet's mistakes, and feels that if such a man goes wrong there is little hope of the average politician being right. So long as the statements of those whose interest it is to say peace where there is no peace though they may not recognise the fact, and speak and write in good faith are relied upon, correct ideas of India are impossible.
In a direct form, it is true, no tribute is paid ; indirectly, how- ever, England is draining India, not simply of its surplus, but actually of its very life-blood. Shortly before the close of the last session of Parliament, the Marquis of Hartington, Secretary of State for India, in answer to a question, admitted that nearly three millions sterling per annum are paid from the revenues of India to persons not resident in that country, as pensions and furlough pay.
The Hon. It is amusing, if so serious a subject can be amusing, to see how energetically the India Ofiice resists any application made by the War Office for any charge beyond what the Indian authorities regard as absolutely necessary.
Now for facts. Said Mr. England supph'es the troops, and India is bound to pay whatever the conscience of the War Office demands.
Then, it had been said that the principle on which the military charges were apportioned between England and India was one of joint partnership. Now, could a joint partnership exist between a giant and a dwarf. Here and there, indeed, there were a few Englishmen — dis- interested, philanthropic, warm-hearted Englishmen — who took an interest in the affairs of this country, but that was all.
And yet they were told that the adjustment of military expenditure was conducted on the principle of joint partner- ship. If they examined the practical working of this joint partnership, what would they find? All these were Imperial undertakings, but India had to furnish the troops with their pay and allowances. England, in fact, borrowed, and India paid.
During the period of the last Madras Famine, a weekly metropolitan journal, whose voice, on all political matters Indian, is always heard on the right side, made some unfortunate blunders when dealing with irrigation. In an article written on the failure of the monsoon rains, and the means which should be adopted to minimise the evil, the writer gravely proposed to meet the dearth of water by sinking an artesian well in each taluk, AweUineach adding that this 'would reduce the losses of a famine year, at Inlr least by one-half, by rendering it possible to keep the animals alive.
Probably, when taluk was written, village was meant. There are, of course, small tanks in abundance used for bathing or drinking, or for cattle, but irrigation tanks there are none. There is a portion of the district, outside the limits of the delta, in which there may possibly be some irrigation tanks, but that region depends for its water Supply on local rains, and is no better off in a deficient monsoon than the surrounding famine districts.
It is the delta alone that deserves the name of a garden. It is constantly assumed by English writers that what has been done in Tanjore might be repeated in every district of the Presidency. But this tion 49 supposition proceeds on complete ignorance of the climatic conditions of the country. There are, of course, differences rai causes. The minimum rainfall on the West Coast seldom approaches what can be called a failure of the monsoon. The crops in Tanjore scarcely ever fail, because the water supply comes largely from the West Coast.
Similar conditions to those that have created the fertility of Tanjore are found, to some extent, in the deltas of the Kistna and the Godavari rivers, but they are not found anywhere else in the Madras Presidency on a large scale.
It ought not to be possible for mistakes of the character I have just mentioned to be made. The end which I, for one, have in view, viz. India is now con- trolled by the House of Commons. Whatever the House decides is done, no matter how disagreeable the decision may be to particular individuals, who would fain resist the will of the British people.
To the remark which may be made, that to grant political power to the Indian people is to begin their regeneration at the wrong end, that we must wait for many years, and educate and train them still farther before we do anything of the kind suggested, the answer is easy. Our own country, and all the other countries on the globe which possess freedom, have shown that it is precisely National ad-. Results of a like character would become apparent in India, if, with cautious wisdom, a similar course were pursued.
Indeed, it is only as the scope for the exhibition of enterprise is provided for a nation that the enterprise can be displayed. Uttered wise words, which ought now to be acted upon : ' There can be no hope,' he wrote, ' of any great zeal for improvement when the highest acquirements can lead to nothing beyond some petty office, and can confer neither wealth nor honour.
While the prospects of the natives are so bounded, every pro- ject for bettering their character must fail, and no such pro- jects can have the smallest chances of success, unless some of these objects are placed within their reach, for the sake of which men are urged to exertion in other countries. This work of improvement, in whatever way it may be accepted, must be very slow, but it will be in proportion to the degree of confidence we repose in them, and to the share which we give them in the administration of public affairs.
India has within her tified. Seshiah Sastri, the Hon. Kristo Das Pal, and a host of others, bearing testimony in what they have done, — sons capable of meeting the grave financial and social perils of the Empire, if only it be made possible for them to work their way to the front.
In India itself scarcely anything can be done in this forward action direction. It is not easy, in a free country, to understand the obstacles to resolute forward action in India. A significant instance of what I mean occurred between four and five years ago. Because certain private gentlemen, impressed with a sense of the awful condition of the famine-stricken people around them, held a public meeting, and appealed to England for assistance, and did not, before so acting, obtain the consent of the Government of India, then in dignified seclusion at Simla, strenuous attempts were made to discredit their appeal.
But if the first ideas at Simla had prevailed, no fund would have been possible. Unfortunately, it was successful in Bengal, and for a time the founts of benevolence in Calcutta were partially dried up at a touch from the viceregal hand. This, which is a sample of what too often goes on in India when public opinion shows signs of movement, will serve to enforce what I have already said many times, viz.
What, it appears to me, can be done, without any loss of. A double good would be effected. Our countrymen, in an attempt to help their fellow-subjects in India, would acquire a knowledge of that portion of the British Dominions which would be of the greatest benefit to them. Such an organization in this country would, through the recognised Associations in India — for example, the British Indian Association at Calcutta, the Sarvajanik Sabha in Poona, and others — be the means of throwing a flood of light upon matters now obscure.
This is a duty which, I cannot but suppose, the members of the Federation will be proud to be instrumental in doing. Breadlines of There are broad lines of action which may be decided upon at once, without waiting for special organization or for definite information from or about India.
It is impossible, of course, for anyone not in the secrets of the Cabinet to say what means will be adapted to this end. But it is conceivable that the idea of Grand Grand Com- Committees for the discussion and arrangement of special departments of business will be considered. Upon that point, no doubt, the Federation, in its autumnal campaign, will have much to urge, in the way of suggestions, upon the Government. Robert Knight, " whose knowledge of the Empire is very great, in a proposals.
For many reasons I think such a Committee would be too small ; I do not see, either, why members of the hereditary branch of the Legisla- ture should be equal in number with the elected representa- tives of the country.
What is wanted, above all things, in such a Committee is the fresh and healthy political feeling derivable only from the constituencies. Let the members be eligible for re-election, but do not let them be irremovable. However, these are mere matters of detail. The great thing is the principle of having all Indian affairs brought prominently and regularly before this country. Were such a Committee chosen from the few men in the two Houses who really know India, and were the proceedings of the India Office regularly submitted to their inspection, they would constitute an efficient " audit " of Indian affairs.
They should have power to call for the most confidential, the most secret, documents ; and it would be their duty to bring before Parliament, and openly oppose therein, proceedings which they did not approve. They should have no power to do more than "report " to Parliament, and to lay bare before it the true character of our proceedings, that the nation might not be deceived and misled, as it now is, at all points concerning India.
Such a Committee would be the "eye 'of Parhament over all that was being done by the Indian Government. In the course of a very few years, the members who had been on this Permanent Committee would know all that it is essential for Parliament to know concerning the details of our administration.
The occasions would not be numerous when they would find it necessary to "report" at all; while their support of the Secretary for India in Parliament itself would be a guarantee of the propriety and wisdom of his proceedings, as the Committee should, of course, be selected without regard to Party. And this great change in the character of the Secretaryship should be attended by a change of equal moment m the Indian Council.
As now constituted, that Council is power- less for any good purpose. It has degenerated into a sort of outwork for defending the existing order of things in India, and for arresting all reform in our rule of that country. Defects in ex- isting Councils. Governor pre- siding, checks free speech. Powers pos- sessed by Coun- cillors. No control over political, financial, or other matters. In relation to the Legislative Councils which exist in India, a great work has to be done which, I feel convinced, the Federation could accomplish.
Some people, who know that India is ruled despotically, may be surprised to learn that there are Legislative Councils in the Empire. The Councils, however, are merely rudimentary institutions. No regular session is arranged for. The members are called together when the Governor-General, Governor, or Lieutenant- Governor thinks well to summon them. Each Presidency and Province has its Council. It consists generally of from twelve to fifteen members. Government officials forming a large majority.
The ruler of the Empire, Presidency, or Province, presides over the Council, and by virtue of the power he possesses, and the influence he exerts, practically prevents even such plain-spoken observations as the rules would permit.
The non-official members are selected by the Governor, one for each race in the Presidency or Province. The duties of the members are strictly confined to a con- sideration of new laws ; these laws are submitted by the Government. The non-official members have no power of initiation.
They are not allowed to ask any questions— either political, financial, social, or of any kind whatsoever. The Presidency or Provincial Budget is never so much as mentioned in the Council. A more anomalous position than that of these Councillors can scarcely be conceived : the members It should be done away with. The English official members of SeCouncU are allowed no such right, but draw only their Council allowances.
About four-and-a-half years ago, while editing a daily newspaper in Madras, I strongly advocated the establishment of Representative Assemblies, sketching in outline such a Chamber as that Presidency is, not merely fit for, but urgently needs to quicken the rich but stagnant mental life of the Madrasses of all j classes and creeds.
And, what is true of Madras is true also of Bengal and other parts of the Empire. The chief points of the scheme I put forward, while in India, were as follow : — I.
Qualification for a vote might be found in the jury lists, proved owner- ship of landed property, or payment of the profession tax. An Assembly so constituted would leave the Government what, under exist- ing circumstances, they should have, viz. Right of queS' tioning.