September 27, 2016

Macaulay: Disbelief on Coming up of British Empire in India

The post is build and developed around a quotation given here which has been taken out of an essay written by Macaulay published in 1840. Macaulay can not be overlooked. However, the contents of the essay from where the following lines consisting of more than 1500 words has been plucked out, can not be called a historic document even if it was authored by Macaulay. However, a person in 2016 who seeks to know about the happenings in 1700 may adopt a device and the methodology of learning from the documents produced in 1840s. This is the core of history.
This post is long. Those who are interested merely in the actual contents but not interested in what this blogger writes, may check the following extract. He/she will find a quotation by T. B. Macaulay. The reference to the source is given at the end. However, it is made the part of the essay which the author has written. The reader, interested in the quotation may have to read through the writing of the author and the does not apologize for that.

The Extract: It is a part of an essay written by Thomas Babington Macaulay.

Macaulay wrote thus:
The empire which Baber and his Moguls reared in the sixteenth century was long one of the most extensive and splendid in the world. In no European kingdom was so large a population subject to a single prince, or so large a revenue poured into the treasury. The beauty and magnificence of the buildings erected by the sovereigns of Hindostan, amazed even travellers who had seen St. Peter's. The innumerable retinues and gorgeous decorations which surrounded the throne of Delhi dazzled even eyes which were accustomed to the pomp of Versailles. Some of the great viceroys who held their posts by virtue of commissions from the Mogul ruled as many subjects as the king of France or the Emperor of Germany. Even the deputies of these deputies might well rank, as to extent of territory and amount of revenue, with the Grand Duke of Tuscany, or the Elector of Saxony.
There can be little doubt that this great empire, powerful and prosperous as it appears on a superficial view, was yet, even in its best days, far worse governed than the worst governed parts of Europe now are. The administration was tainted with all the vices of Oriental despotism and will all the vices inseparable from the domination of race over race. The conflicting pretensions of the princes of the royal house produced a long series crimes and public disasters. Ambitious lieutenants of the sovereign sometimes aspired to independence. Fierce tribes of Hindoos, impatient of a foreign yoke, frequently withheld tribute, repelled the armies of the government from the mountain fastnesses, and poured down in arms on the cultivated plains. In spite, however, of much constant maladministration, in spite of occasional convulsions which shook the whole frame of society, this great monarchy, on the whole, retained, during some generations, an outward appearance of unity, majesty and energy. But throughout the long rein of Aurungzeb, the states, notwithstanding all that the vigour and policy of the prince could effect, was hastening to dissolution. After his death, which took place in the year 1707, the ruin was fearfully rapid. Violent shocks from without co-operated with an incurable decay which was fast proceeding within; and in a few years the empire had undergone utter decomposition.
The history of the successors of Theodosius bears no small analogy to that of the successors of Aurungzeb. But perhaps the fall of the Carlovingians furnishes the nearest parallel to the fall of the Moguls. Charlemagne was scarcely interred when the imbecility and the disputes of his descendants began to bring contempt on themselves and destruction on their subjects. The wide dominion of the Franks was severed into a thousand pieces. Nothing more than a nominal dignity was left to the abject heirs of an illustrious name, Charles the Bald, and Charles the Fat, and the Charles the Simple. Fierce invaders, differing from each other in race, language, and religion, flocked, as if by concert, from the farthest corners of the earth, to plunder provinces which the government could no longer defend. The pirates of the Northern Sea extended their ravages from the Elbe to the Pyrenees, and at length fixed their sear in the rich valley of the Seine. The Hungarian in whom the trembling monks fancied that they recognised the Go or Magog of prophecy, carried back the plunder of the cities of Lombardy to the depth of the Pannonian forests. The Saracen ruled in Sicily, desolated the fertile plains of Campania, and spread terror even to the Rome. In the midst of these sufferings, a great internal change passed upon the empire. The corruption of death began to ferment into new forms of life. While the great body, as a whole, was torpid and passive, every separate member began to feel with a sense, and to move with an energy all its own. Just here, in the most barren and dreary tract of European history, all feudal privileges, all modern nobility, take their source. It is to this point that we trace the power of those princes, who, nominally vassals, but really independent, long governed, with the titles of dukes, marquesses and counts, almost every part of the dominions which had obeyed Charlemagne.
Such or nearly such was the change which passed on Mogul empire during the forty years which followed the death of Aurungzebe. A succession of nominal sovereigns, sunk in indolence and debauchery, sauntered away life in secluded palaces, chewing bang, fondling concubines, and listening to buffons. A succession of ferocious invaders descended through the western passes, to prey on the defenseless wealth of Hindostan. A Persian conqueror crossed the Indus, marched through the gates of Delhi, and bore away in triumph those treasures of which the magnificence had astounded Roe and Bernier, the Peacock Throne, on which the richest jewels of Golconda had been disposed by the most skillful hands of Europe, and the inestimable Mountain of Light, which, after many strange vicissitudes, lately shone in the bracelet of Runjeet sing, and is now destined to adorn the hideous idol of Orissa. The Afghan soon followed to complete the work of devastation which the Persian had begun. The warlike tribes of the Rajpootana threw off the Musulman yoke. A band of the mercenary soldiers occupied Rohilcund. The Seiks ruled on the Indus. The Jauts spread dismay along the Jumna. The highlands which border on the western sea-coast of India pured forth a yet more formidable race, a race which was long the terror of every native power, an which, after many desperate and doubtful struggles, yielded only to the fortune and genius of England. It was under the reign of Aurungzebe that this wild clan of plunderers first descended from the mountains; and soon after his death, every corner of his wide empire learned to tremble at the mighty name of the Mahrattas. Many fertile viceroyalties were entirely subdued by them. Their dominions stretched across the peninsula from sea to sea. Mahratta captains reigned at Poonah, at Gualior, in Guzerat, in Berar, and in Tanjore. Nor did they, though they had become great sovereings, therefore cease to be freebooters. They still retained the predatory habits of their forefathers. Every region which was not subjec ot their rule was wasted by their incursions. Wherever their kettle-drums were heard, the peasant threw his bag of rice on his shoulder, hid his small savings in his girdle, and fled with his wife and children to the mountains or the jungles, to the milder neighbourhood of the hyaena and the tiger. Many provinces redeemed their harvests by the payment of an annual ransom. Even the wretched phantom who still bore the imperial title stooped to pay this ignominious black-mail. The camp-fires of one rapacious leader were seen from the weall of the palace of Delhi. Another, at the head of his innumerable cavalry, descended year after year on the rice-fields of Bengal. Even the European factors trembled for their magazined. Less than a hundred years ago, it was thought necessary to fortify Calcutta against the horsemen of Berar; and the name of the Mahratta ditch still preserves the memory of the danger.
Wherever the viceroys of the Mogul retained authority they became sovereigns. They might still acknowledge in words the superiority of the house of the Tamerlane; as a Count of Flanders or a Duke of Burgundy might have acknowledged the superiority of the most helpless driveler among the later Carlovingians. They might occasionally send to their titular sovereign a complimentary present, or solicit from him a title of honour. In truth, however, they were no longer lieutenants removable at pleasure, but independent hereditary princes. In this way originated those great Musulaman houses which formerly ruled Bengla and the Carnatic, and those which still, though in a state of vassalage, exercise some of the powers of royalty at Lucknow and Hyderabad.
In what was this confusion to end? Was the strife to continue during centuries? Was it to terminate in the rise of another great monarchy? Was the Mussulman or the Mahratta to be the Lord of India? Was another Baber to descend from the mountains, and to lead the hardy tribes of Cabul and Chorasan against a wealthier and less warlike race? None of these events seems improbable. But scarcely any man, however, sagacious, would have thought it possible that a trading company, separated from India by fifteen thousand miles of sea, and possessing in India only a few acres for purposes of commerce, would, in less that a hundred years, spread its empire from Cape Comorin to the eternal snow of the Himalayas; would compel Mahratta and Mahommedan to forget their mutual feuds in common subjection; would tame down even those wild races which had resisted the most powerful of the Moguls; and, having united under its laws a hundred millions of the subjects, would carry its victorious arms far to the east of the Burrampooter, and far to the west of the Hydaspes (present day Jhelum), dictate terms of peace at the gates of Ava, and deat its vassal on the throne of Candahar.

The Source:
The above mentioned work, which is part of an essay written by Macaulay, has been taken from “The London Series of English Classics” edited by J. W. Hales and C. S. Jerram. The essay has been included in that series. The title of the essay included in the compilation is 'Lord Clive' by Thomas Babington Macaulay. The essay had been edited and annonated by Herbert Courthope Bowen. The compilation which included the essay by Macaulay, was published as a separate volume in 1877. The essay of Macaulay, which the series picked, had been taken from Edinburgh Review, which was published in 1840. Macaulay had written a similar essay on Warren Hastings. The essay on Hastings by Macaulay was published same review in 1841.
The essay first appeared in 1840. What was the aim of writings this essay at that time? Then it was republished in 1877. The motive of reprint of the essay in 1877 is well explained in the introduction to the compilation by the editors. (continued)

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