- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 24 Jan 1908, p. 132-141
- Mckay, Rev. Dr. R.P., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Travelling in the East and feeling grateful that one is a British subject. Feeling the influence of Britain when passing through the Continent of Europe. Britain's position in India: what she has done and what the opportunities of the future are to be. India as great, almost, as the whole of Europe with older nationalities, older nobilities, older religions, and older hostilities. Criticism against Britain's activities in India and the speaker's response to it. The feeling that exists among some of the older families of India. India as the greatest architectural country in the world. The matter of British justice, and fiscal justice. The reclamation of water for the whole country. Prospects for another mutiny in India. Improvements in Education under British control. Looking forward to independence. The need for the caste system to be got rid of. An explanation of the irritation in India today. Religion in India. The issue of self-government in India. The British alliance with Japan that controls the East today. Great change taking place in China and Korea. Changing attitudes toward Christian missions. Putting a better sentiment, a Christian sentiment, into these countries of the East.
- Date of Original
- 24 Jan 1908
- Language of Item
- Copyright Statement
- The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
- Empire Club of CanadaEmail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Agency street/mail address:
Fairmont Royal York Hotel
100 Front Street West, Floor H
Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3
- Full Text
- FORCES AT WORK IN INDIA AND THE FAR FAST.
Address by the REV. Di&. R. P. McKAY, before the Empire Club of Canada, on January 24th, 1908.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
One does not travel very far in the East until he begins to feel grateful that he is a British subject. You begin to feel the influence of Britain, indeed, when you are passing through the Continent of Europe. As one man in Palestine said to me: "I wish England would do for Palestine what she has done for Egypt." Just while I was there there were some of the chief men of the tribes in prison, and they were imprisoned for the reason that the Governor went to them and said, "You must raise this year twice as much in taxes as last year," and they said, "The people cannot do it." "Well, they must do it," the man -replied. "We cannot." "Well, it means imprisonment." That is Turkish rule, and you find the best people of Palestine passing into Egypt, because of the British rule in Egypt. You find, also, as you come across the ocean towards India that one of the principal topics of conversation is Britain's position in India--what she has done and what the opportunities of the future are to be. You are constantly in touch with that question; you meet it everywhere; and, although we have been reading a great deal recently about India. I do not know that any of us can fully appreciate the greatness of the problem until we see the country. I had no conception of the magnitude of that country and of that problem until I set my eyes upon it.
India is as great, almost, as the whole of Europe. It has older nationalities, older nobilities, older religions, and it has older hostilities. You find these great nationalities have been fighting each other for centuries, and England had to come in and deal with the problem.
For instance, I have often heard when speaking about the dissatisfaction of the Bengalese, this statement, " Oh! that is only one province!" but you must remember that the population of Bengal is twice the population of France. You are dealing with an immense community when you are simply dealing with one province. There are many other provinces, and they are all great, and England had to come in and deal with that problem. " What has she done?" This is one of the first questions you will ask these people who criticize England. " Has not England justified her presence there?" One of the things she did was to introduce peace. The princes were always at war with one another in the past, and today there is not a prince in India who dares invade the territory of his neighbour but at the risk of his throne and his liberty. There is not a man, from the highest noble to the humblest highwayman, but knows that if he does wrong he does it at the risk of punishment; so that all recognize that England has done a very great thing for India when she has compelled peace all over the Empire.
And yet, you know, there are a large number of people in India who do not place a very high value upon that. They used to be at liberty to do as they pleased. There was a career open to a man of energy. Any man that had a sword and an arm to wield it in the past could hew his way to a throne, it might be, and could get all that an Asiatic admires in the way of palace and paraphernalia and retainers and the adulation of the subject, etc. He could do as he pleased if he were strong enough. It was a great campus, upon which every man contended for the mastery. Now everything has become flat and uninteresting. Here are three hundred princes, with practically nothing to do. In connection with their palaces, I have seen elephants kept for state occasions, standing there bound, swaying from side to side, with nothing to do. You read Kipling's story of the jungle and the elephants there, and you feel the painful contrast. That is the prince of India today, the subject of British authority. I have had the privilege and pleasure of spending some time in the company of one of these men. One of them was just within a month or two of reaching his majority, when he would come to the throne. He was simply the creature of a British official. He was compelled to go through, a certain course of education, and when he is placed upon his throne he has to do just as he is bid. You can understand the impatience of these people. Some of the families are older than the oldest British families. You can understand the feeling that must exist among that class of people. Associated with that is this one complaint, " We have lost all our national spirit."
India was the greatest architectural country in the world. The finest architecture man has ever produced was produced in India. You find great temples-one covers fourteen acres. I have seen one hall there where there are a thousand pillars, each one carved into some mythical representation of their religion. The people of India say: " We have come into the wooden age. We have lost the golden age, because we have come under British domination." They forget that a temple was twenty-two years in the building, that men were drafted at intervals to do the work, and that all the work was forced labour, which cost nothing, and that the temple cost twenty million dollars in addition to that. The Asiatic is not much troubled with sympathy or pity for people who suffer. It is true that there never will be again in India such buildings erected, simply because there will never again be forced labour, so far as British influence will go; and so in other respects.
" Did not England give you justice?" I had a long conversation with a very intelligent young Hindu, and he told me a great many things, and I have discussed many points with him. I said: " Did not they give you justice? Does not Britain give every man justice? You can get justice-the humblest man as well as the-greatest." He said: "Yes; that is true." And yet, to an Asiatic, that does not mean as much as it should. To the Asiatic the prince rules by Divine right, and he can go at any time to him and look for redress. They say you go to a British court and you may not get your case into the court for six months, or perhaps six years, and you may have to pay a fee when it is all over that is greater than the amount involved in the case. They do not think anything of sifting evidence, for example. They do not think about a specialist in ferreting out justice. They want it at once. When I was in China, rolling along in a chair, one of the easiest and most comfortable and, cheapest methods of travelling in China, a lady met me, She was bleeding down her arms, and had evidently been in some trouble. She saw me and thought I was a mandarin. She dropped, and touched her forehead to the earth, and was immediately going to submit her grievances. That is the right of every easterner, and that is a specimen of what is occurring in the East all the time. That does not accord with British methods. British methods are very much better, but they do not understand them there.
It is the same with regard to fiscal justice. I told you how forced labour was once used for their great public works. The same thing is true in every other respect. There is never such a thing as a tax levied as we understand it. Some man says, " We want from your district so much money." and they will send it in. If the governor wants one pound, the under official will collect two, and the other one will be his own. I said to one of these men, " What do you think of the British in Egypt?" He said: " We like the British." " Why?" " Because we know now how much taxes we have to pay, and we have to pay them only once a year." That is what has been occurring everywhere. There was no such thing as justice. The people were the creatures of those in authority. The people submitted, and yet they would go, back to the old condition today. There is some kind of Asiatic loyalty to the past that would bring them to do it. There are today about forty-five millions of acres in India that have been irrigated through British enterprise. Some of the rivers are literally exhausted in irrigating the soil. I was speaking to an engineer, and' I. said: " What about watering the whole country just as you are watering these districts?" He said: "There, is water enough to water the whole country, but it is underground, and you must dig for it, and it is expensive." We now have those forty-five million acres redeemed, and they are pushing work in other parts of India, and have already spent $150,000,000 in that one department alone. And so in other respects.
People say: " Will there be another mutiny in India?" No; there can never be another mutiny. If there is going to be disaster it will not be in the way of mutiny. Formerly there were only four hundred miles of railway; now there are twenty-eight thousand miles. Then it took three or four months to get from Calcutta to Delhi. Now you can do it in three or four days, and so the Government has the whole thing completely under their hand; and, as far as any outbreak is concerned, it is an impossibility. So with education. The people had no education before British control. today thousands of people graduate from the colleges and schools every year. And that is one of the bitter things of the past year or two. Lord Curzon passed a bill making it more expensive and difficult to get a degree in the universities. Many of the Hindus resented this very bitterly. They said: " It is trying to prevent us getting education. We want everybody to be educated." I said: " What is going to follow?" " Why, independence. We want to be independent." I said: "Suppose England went out today; what would you do?" " We don't want England to go out today. We could not yet govern ourselves." But they look forward to independence.
The caste system must be got rid of. I was riding with a young Hindu, and we had a good deal of interesting conversation with regard to the caste system. I had the pleasure of dining with a rajah and local agent of the Governor-General, and he admitted the foolishness of this system of caste. There is not an educated family in India but thinks it is foolish, but the time has not come for its breaking up. The time will come, and they will get rid of it. As one of these young men said to me: " I have given up caste; I have given up all religion, for that matter; our only religion today is our country." What will happen in the future is that they will get unified and educated, and be able to do what we are doing-able to govern themselves. Well, now, England is doing all this, and doing it generously--I think, doing it righteously. Of course, she has made her mistakes. In answer to my question, " Can you give me an explanation of the irritation in India today?" an Englishman on my ship said: " Although England has made mistakes, there is not upon the face of the earth today a better government than the government of England in India." I think that is true.
There is another thing. I think the British people are making a mistake in this way: You know we have been very prosperous as a nation, and we hold our heads a little high, and find it difficult to be congenial to other people; and the result is that we have not personally won these people, although we have sought to treat them rightly. The British have not won the love of the people because they have kept them at arm's length and treated them as a conquered race. A young man said to me: " I like to do business with the Englishman in his own country--in London, in Paris; but when the Britisher comes to India he leaves his manners behind." Every young man who goes to India gets his appointment by examination. He may be comparatively low-grade socially. He wants to do the best he can for himself, socially as well as in every other way, when he gets to India, and so he puts on airs, and is apt to do foolish things. The poor people, who would look up to him and would be grateful for kindnesses, receive curtness
and hostility. I was speaking to the chaplain in Calcutta of the National Scotch Church there. He was an interesting gentleman, and I asked him: " Do you see much in Calcutta of this irritation?" He said: " It is very much in our own hands. I was reading a newspaper in the street car the other day about some trouble in Africa. There was a Hindu on the seat beside me, and he said to me: ' Has that trouble in South Africa been settled?' 'Oh! yes; it was not anything very important. The troublesome people are under arrest, and all is over.' He said: ' I am glad to hear that. I notice that you are a gentleman.' ' What do you mean?' He said: ' If I spoke to some other people in that way they would not answer me.' ' Don't you think you axe making too much of that? You think the British people are not interested in you.' 'No; it is not imagination. If I sit on a bench in the park beside an Englishman, he will get up and leave the bench."'
That is the spirit that is developing, and it is developing very largely through the thing of which I am speaking. I asked another man one day: " Is there any trouble up here?" He said: " No; we have no trouble here." I said: " How is that?" He said: " We have a beautiful man here; a splendid officer of the Government. He treats everybody kindly, and everybody likes him." That is the explanation.
Then, of course, this must be taken into account you know that sometimes people are a little timid as to what may be coming and are apt to be a little obsequeious. For instance, Lord Curzon, in addressing some of the natives away up at Delhi one day, said, " I would advise you not to give up your own religion, not to become Christians, but to stick to your religion." Here is a Christian man, by name at least, and he is talking to a heathen community. You know that, whatever else the people in India believe, they believe in religion, and when a man comes professing to be a Christian and disowns his own religion he discounts himself and the Government which he represents. A man once said, " I think India would be Christian but for the fact that the British Government does not want it." They have that impression, notwithstanding that the British Government is a Christian Government and is conducted on Christian lines. The Government is afraid that it may seem to be partial, and it is apt to go to the other extreme.
There is another thing. Just think, here is a country of 300,000,000 people. Here are these great nationalities, very ancient races, with an ancient nobility, and they are governed by what? By a little company oil Britishers that number less than 2,000. They have 60,000 or 65,000 British troops, but the rest of the army is native, and they know, since 1857, that the native army is not to be relied upon in any kind of trouble. And this is the little garrison that supports an officialdom of between 1,500 and 2,000; and more than that, these Britishers do not take root, they do not belong to the country, every man is pensioned at the age of sixty, goes back to England and lives on his pension. No man marries and educates a family in India. No old men are there who have had experience and who give the benefit of their experience. Such a thing has never been known in the world's history, and these people see it. They say that it is not natural. They say, " We ought to govern ourselves; we pay for it, and we are as able as they. We are prepared to enter into examination contest with any of you." And they can do it. Now, of course, as I have said, it is not going to come in the form of a mutiny. The great cry today is this, " We must have office " and they are getting the offices more and more. They are getting them rapidly, and! the probability is that the change will come in that direction; that they will so far control the offices of the country that they will control the country. What will come of it one cannot tell. There must be some other policy adopted if their sentiment is to be changed so that they would reluctantly give up contact with the power that has controlled them.
I have talked of the forces of the fast-of England in India. In the fast a magnificent game is being played. Here you have that vast country China, one of the most wonderfully beautiful countries in this world. I have seen nothing in the way of agricultural country that I could talk of in comparison with the resources of China. That vast country lying there and governing itself, almost without government, moving along all these centuries--self-government in the fullest sense. Here are the Powers watching like eagles watching their prey. England at first was supreme. She ruled the whole East from Hong Kong, and she was. very astute. When she got possession of that little place she controlled all the shipping of the fast until the year 1895. Then there came the war between China and Japan, and Japan won, while Russia and France and Germany went in and robbed her of her prize. Russia took Port Arthur, and England in return seized a coating station in the north. Now England is in competition with all the other Powers, where formerly she reigned supreme. Then came the " open door" controversy. Everybody began to pledge himself to the integrity of China, and that there should be an open door in trade and equal opportunities for all. Then the question of spheres of influence, a proposal made by Germany. Germany did not want to oppose the open door policy; she wanted to undermine it, and made a proposal that China should be sliced up and each take a share. She even went so far as to get out maps indicating the sphere of each. In the meantime the United States had assumed control of the Philippines. She went back to the open door problem and advocated that. The sphere of influence idea was dropped, and the open door policy was adopted. By and by the British alliance with Japan came about, and that is the greatest factor in it all. That controls the fast today. That is the one power that steadies the whole business--that Japan and England stand together for weal and for woe.
That is the problem. Great changes are taking place in China and Korea. I preached to a congregation in a church that would seat 1,500 people, and that church was full of men, and then that congregation adjourned and the church was full of women. In one town but a very few years ago there were no Christians at all. Now the whole country is turning over. What we would like to do today is to give these people a higher religious standard, give them better ethics, for that is the lack of all Eastern countries and all Eastern religions. Go down and see them at work, look down into the pit, and it is a fearful pit-it is miry clay. As a matter of fact the ethics of these Eastern religions are diabolical. They are vile as sin can make them. The missionaries are going in, and I am glad to find that the best of our newspapers have completely changed their attitude toward Christian missions.
The North China Times, published in Shanghai, i.3 one of the strongest advocates of the Christian religion. You find even the London Times, of which Dr. Morrison is the pastern representative, and which a few years ago was the enemy of missions, is now strongly in their favour. Dr. Morrison saw the missionaries, and native Christians at work, and he formed such a favourable impression that from that day to this he has been the avowed friend of missions in the Fast, and the London Times is his exponent. If there has ever been in the world's history a time that is full of importance, it is this very hour in the East. The change is just about to come-some change or other. We are upon the eve of great results, and if we could just now send our Christian influence to mould it, control it, and give it direction, the future for ourselves, as well as for the East, would be very much more secure. We have touched the East at a hundred points, commercially, especially in the way of tariffs. What we want is to get beyond these commercial walls, behind them, and put a better sentiment, a Christian sentiment, into these countries, and we will find our relations with these people much more happy and satisfactory.