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Tasmania, South Australia, and Victoria, in conference assembled, having had under their consideration Lord Kimberley's circular despatch of the 13th of July, 1871, have unanimously adopted the following resolutions :
“1. That the Australian colonies claim to enter into arrangements with each other, through their respective Legislatures, so as to provide for the reciprocal admission of their respective products and manufactures, either duty free, or on such terms as may be mutually agreed upon.
“ 2. That no Treaty entered into by the Imperial Government with any foreign Power should in any way limit or impede the exercise of such right.
“ 3. That Imperial interference with intercolonial fiscal legis. lation should finally and absolutely cease.
“4. That so much of an Act or Acts of the Imperial Parliament as may be considered to prohibit the full exercise of such right should be repealed.
“5. That these resolutions, together with a memorandum from each Government, or a joint memorandum from sưch Governments as prefer to adopt that method, shall be transmitted to the Secretary of State through the Governors of our colonies respectively. “Signed at Melbourne this 27th day of September, A.D. 1871.
“JAMES Martin, Attorney-General and
Tasmania. “ JAMES DUNN, M.L.C., “ John HART, Treasurer and Premier,
South “ William MILNE, Chief Secretary,
Australia. “ W. MORGAN, M.L.C., “C. GAVAN DUFF, Chief Secretary and Premier,
Victoria. “ GRAHAM BERRY, Treasurer and Com
missioner of Customs.” In British India no events occurred of a nature to disturb the general peace of society and the steady progress of material improvement by public works. The troublesome predatory inroads of the Looshais, a wild tribe or collection of tribes inhabiting the forest country bordering on Assam, occasioned the only frontier disturbance ; but these were of sufficient importance to require in the latter end of the year an expedition of British forces, respecting which no complete information has as yet been obtained.
But in the absence of actual disaster the public mind of India, and of those at home who take an interest in Indian affairs, was a good deal agitated by discussion respecting the disposition of the Mussulman population of that country towards its Government. Out of the total number of 150,000,000 who inhabit
British India (omitting the protected territories) about 25,000,000 are Mahometans. They are scattered in very unequal proportions over the surface of the country, most numerous in the extreme northwest, in Oude and other northern wealthy provinces, in parts of Bengal, and in particular districts of the south long under Mahometan rule: generally, it may be said, in the most advanced districts, which still contain indications of the wealth and power attained by members of the conquering faith in the times when they held the great peninsula in subjection.
“To this day," says Mr. Hunter, the author of a very remarkable essay on “Our Indian Mussulmans," " the peasantry of the Delta of the Ganges is Mahometan. Interspersed among these rural masses are landed houses of ancient pedigree and of great influence. Indeed, the remains of a once powerful and grasping Mussulman aristocracy dot the whole province, visible monuments of their departed greatness. At Murshedabad a Mohammedan Court still plays its farce of mimic state, and in every district the descendant of some line of princes sullenly and proudly eats his heart out among roofless palaces and weed-choked tanks."
When the English became masters of Bengal they found the Mahometans, so to speak, in possession. The new conquerors regarded them as paramount; the Hindoos, or Gentoos, as they were then called, as a secondary or subordinate body. So much was this the case, that when Warren Hastings had leisure to turn his mind to the subject of education and other civil wants, he recorded a minute (to quote the words of Mr. Nassau Lees, late Principal of the College of which he speaks) “in which he declared that learning was disappearing from the land, and that, as the Government considered it expedient to retain the civil administration of the country in the hands of the Mussulmans, an institution for their education should be established. With this view he founded the Mahometan College of Calcutta." But, once deprived of their supremacy as conquerors, the Moslems, both of Bengal and other parts of India, dwindled in importance; the subordinate races began to assume a position more in accordance with their numerical superiority. The system of education at Calcutta (to be mentioned only as an instance of the general change) was to a certain extent Anglicised and reduced, “as regards the upper classes in Bengal, ostensibly to little more than the substitution of the Hindoo College with an English education for Hindoos, for the Mahometan College with a Mussulman education for the followers of Islam.” The system of competitive examination, under which native candidates are now mainly introduced to civil employment, is said in addition to militate (speaking still chiefly of Bengal, the most opulent of Indian provinces) against the interests of the Mahometans; a prouder, perhaps more indolent race, outstripped by the active, ambitious, and pliable youth of the Hindoo races. But this and other alleged causes of dissatisfaction felt by the descendants of the quondam conquerors in a land where British rule has now enforced equality, must
be left as a matter of inquiry too detailed for our purpose. Most valuable information respecting it will be found in the volume of Mr. Hunter to which we have alluded, and the controversial correspondence which it has provoked.
Much has also been said on a very curious branch of the subject —the position of Mahometan true believers, and their own notions respecting that position, under an Infidel Government. The letter of the Koran, as is well known, recognizes no such position, and admits of no compromise between the supremacy of Islam and its exclusion. But the severe and unsocial tenets of every gradually modified by necessity. The following is an abstract of the account given by Mr. Nassau Lees of a convention between himself and the Sheikh-ul-Islam of Egypt on this subject :
“ The inference to be drawn from the Sheikh's arguments, whether based on the Koran or the Canons, and which I believe to be the accepted rule, is that under a strong, just, and liberal Christian Government–i.e. a Government under which perfect civil and religious freedom is allowed—a Mohammedan may be as true and loyal to his Sovereign, though a Christian, as any of his Christian subjects, and not infringe the law; although, should the Government be weak, he would be bound to aid any Mohammedan movement which he had sound reason to believe was sufficiently powerful to overthrow the existing Government and set up a Mohammedan Government in its stead. Should it be strong and oppressive, it would then be his duty to leave the country. And that this doctrine, I may add, although not having the force of law, would be the rule and practice with Christians or the followers of any religion under the sun, who should find themselves under the Government of an alien race, we have had abundant proof in Europe. This is the law. But there are sects in India, as there are in other parts of the East, who do not recognize the doctrines or the law of the orthodox Moslim; and who, even under Mohammedan Governments, would give endless trouble if not kept in order."
A habit has prevailed, rather popular than accurate, of comprising these sects of malcontents under the general name of Wahabees or Wahabites. The sect founded by Abd-ul-Wahab is confined almost wholly to Arabia, where it has carried out on a great scale its schemes of religious reforms and military aggrandizement. It now governs the province of Nejd, and has a strong hold on many adjoining districts. But we are not aware that either the Wahabees as a body, or any of their distinguished leaders, have evinced any tendency to prosecute their schemes beyond the Arabian peninsula, or to interfere with the loyalty of our Indian population. Such projects would seem rather at variance with the general scope of their policy. In fact, the name of Wahabi, like that of Puritan or Jesuit, seems to have become rather the indication of a class of sentiments and habits of thought than an accurate designation of a body of men combined for practical purposes. However this may be, it is certain that our Indian malcontents
have a strong and fanatical body of allies in the mountain region beyond our jurisdiction, on the north-western frontier of the Punjab. For some years past hostilities have been at intervals carried on between ourselves and some of the warlike tribes in that quarter, headed by supposed enthusiast leaders, possessing spiritual supremacy, of whom much has been said but little discovered. It is now well known that ever since the mutiny communication has been carried on between the leaders and the heads of the disaffected party in Bengal, particularly at Patna and at Calcutta. Recent trials of some of the leaders in these treasonable schemes, especially in the former city, have laid bare a series of intrigues, with very wide ramifications, implicating, no doubt, only a small, but an active, class of religionists: and a very sad event has occurred to draw public attention to this quarter of danger. In September 1871 the Acting Chief Justice of the High Court of Calcutta, Sir Charles Norman, was murdered by a native when just about to enter his Court. The assassin was apprehended, and shortly afterwards executed. He was a Mussulman, reported of ascetic life and habits. Whether he was actuated by some private motive, or by a sudden impulse of fanaticism, or regarded the Judge as an enemy to the faith by reason of certain judicial acts which he had performed in relation to the trial of the Patna conspirators, or whether he was actually made the instrument of murder by a knot of conspirators, have been questions of much dispute, and of which no solution has as yet been found, or at least publicly given. There are evidently dangers against which it is necessary to be prepared. But it is satisfactory to find that the general tone of the Mussulman public, so far as made known to us through the more educated class, is vehement in condemnation of the alleged practices of the sect, and in assertion of content with the general principles of Indian Government, even while maintaining the existence of certain asserted grievances.
Turning again to our own country, this year will long be marked as the date at which a great scheme of National Education was set at work in England. The establishment of nearly 300 School Boards is a social fact which will tell with irresistible force on coming times. In most of the large towns of England it is now the law that school teaching shall be provided for every child, and that every parent shall send his child to school. Even in the rural districts the education of the poor has received an impulse which will extend it to classes who have not before been reached. The means of secondary education are also being extended by the reform of the Grammar Schools, while the year leaves the Universities really open to the nation. The foundation is thus firmly laid for a system of education which shall throw open the career of learning to all who have the courage to enter on it, and remove “poverty's unconquerable bar" from the path of knowledge.
But in the administration both of the Education Act and of the Endowed Schools Act great and general discontent was excited,
and something more than a coolness arose between the Government and a large part of its supporters. The closing year threatened more trouble to the Government from the clauses of the Education Bill allowing of aid to Denominational Schools than from any other source, Mr. Dixon, supported by a powerful body of Nonconformists, assuming the lead of the agitation against them. The object of excluding religious teaching from day-schools was pursued with fanatical earnestness by a section of the Liberal party ; the Nonconformists, and those Liberals who politically sympathize with them, complaining that both the Grammar Schools and the Elementary Schools are being given over to ecclesiastical predominance. Whether the charge be true or not, or whether this predominance be unavoidable or not, it caused serious disaffection. In the School Board elections at Merthyr, Halifax, Dewsbury, Wolverhampton, and Stafford, the first four places elected the strongest opponents of denominationalism, while in the latter the denominationalist was returned by a very narrow majority. In these elections, too, the old principle of a simple majority was acted on, the cumulative vote not coming into use. In this matter, therefore, the year developed and left behind it a difference of opinion between the great Liberal constituencies and the Government. But the country, bearing the facts in mind, was not likely to agree with Sir Charles Dilke in saying that "one might suppose that the Education Department was presided over by the powers of darkness, instead of by good men like Sir Francis Sandford and Mr. Forster."
The vexed and painful question of the Contagious Diseases Acts, of which we have already spoken in the first chapter of this history, continued throughout the year to occupy a prominent position in the public mind, the opposition to them gaining more apparent strength.
The Acts of 1864, 1866, and 1869, for the prevention of the spread of contagious diseases, had passed through Parliament without attracting much notice. The two former were regarded as measures of sanitary police for the benefit of the Army and Navy; the last provided for extending the operation of the Acts to any locality, the inhabitants of which should make application to that effect and provide adequate hospital accommodation. An active and influential organization was arrayed against the Acts in 1869. The House of Commons was moved to repeal them, and a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into their operation. The Report of this Commission was issued this year. No less than eighty witnesses were examined, and the Commission permitted the presence at their meetings of representatives of the two societies which had been formed for the purposes respectively of extending and of repealing the Acts. These gentlemen had the opportunity of watching the proceedings and of suggesting witnesses to be examined. The Report noticed, at the outset, the means adopted by some of the opponents of the Acts to bring them into public odium