Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/221

This page needs to be proofread.


DALHOUSIE'S POLICY TO NATIVE STATES. 217 Lord Dalhousie and the Native States. — Lord Dal- housie's dealings with the Feudatory States of India revealed the whole nature of the man. That rulers only exist for the good of the ruled, was his supreme axiom of government, of which he gave a conspicuous example in his own daily life. That British administration was better for the people than Native rule, seemed to him to follow from this axiom. The truth is that the system of British protectorates, as developed by Lord Wellesley and his successors, had proved by no means a complete success. It practically secured to the Native Chiefs their principalities and revenues, however they might abuse their position and oppress their subjects. A remedy for this state of things has since been worked out in the India of the Queen by enforcing a higher standard of personal responsibility on the Feudatory princes of India. But in Lord Dalhousie's time the old unreformed system was bearing its last and worst fruits. Dalhousie was thus led to regard Native Chiefs as mischievous anomalies, to be abolished by every fair means. Good faith must be kept with princes on the throne, and with their legitimate heirs. But no false senti- ment should preserve dynasties which had forfeited our sympa- thies by generations of misrule, or prolong those that had no natural successor. The ' doctrine of lapse ' was the practical application of these principles, complicated by the Indian practice of adoption. It has never been doubted that, according to Hindu private law, an adopted son entirely fills the place of a natural son, whether to perform the religious obsequies of his father or to inherit his property. In all respects he continues the rights of the deceased. But it was argued, both as a matter of historical fact and on grounds of political expediency, that the succession to a throne stood upon a different footing. The paramount power could not recognize such a right, which might be used as a fraud to hand over the happiness of millions to a base-born impostor. Here came in Lord Dalhousie's maxim of ' the good of the governed.' In his mind, the benefits to be conferred through British administration weighed heavier than a superstitious and often fraudulent fiction of inheritance. Lord Dalhousie's Doctrine. — When a Native Chief left direct male heirs of his body, Lord Dalhousie recognized their