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Page:An Historical Sketch of the Native States of India.djvu/29

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7
INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER.

of their independence, ground down by the Márhátás, restored to ease and safety by the British in 1817, they had not till within the last sixteen years shaken off the mistrust engendered partly by a retrospect of the past, but more even by the sight of the absorbing process occa- sionally put into action around them. But the Royal Proclamation transmitted to India by the present Earl of Derby in 1859, and the unmistakable manner in which the spirit of that proclamation has been carried out, have dissipated all alarms. Never were loyalty and good feel— ing more widely spread amongst the native princes of India than at the present moment. The moral influence thus gained gives the paramount power opportunities for urging the feudatory chiefs to adopt measures of progress and liberality. It is to be hoped that in the course of time there will be cemented between that power and its feudatories a confidence and affection such as can be born only of a complete comprehension of the native modes of thought on the one side, and an appreciation of the great moral ends aimed at by modern civilisation on the other. An understanding of that description would be the certain prelude to the grounding of a system com— pared to which that even of Akbar was 'the baseless fabric of a vision.' When not Only the higher governing classes —who already appreciate the truth—but the great mass of Englishmen employed in India shall have schooled themselves to believe that real predominance consists alone, not in belonging to a mis—called dominant race, but in predominance in learning, in ability, in the higher mental qualities and moral powers of a man, irrespective of his colour, his nationality, and his creed; when, too, the native shall have completely learned, as he is fast learning, that to take part in the affairs of the present age it will be necessary to abandon prejudices which restrict his progress, then only may we feel confident that India is entering upon a path which will tend to her advance— ment in greatness, and open out careers for her sons.