Essay III. The Englishman in India, by J. G. McCormick, D.D., Dean of Manchester.
Take notice! This is not an essay: it is the rough impressions of an Englishman who was in the country for one cold weather. He hopes that he is not a "Paget M.P." He is at least equipped with some second-hand knowledge, for his forbears lived and worked in India, his mother was born there, his brother was killed on the frontier, and his sister is a nurse in a Kashmir hospital. Moreover, he is a parson, and if you are the sort of parson to whom men will talk, you get an insight into the real life and difficulties of people which is not likely to come to any other traveller. If he fails to understand, his failure springs from ignorance and not from lack of sympathy or admiration. Finally, he has no axe to grind--not even an economic one. The reader is now warned, and if he reads these fugitive impressions of a wandering and appreciative parson he does so at his peril. Bas!
I have been told to write about the Englishman in India. It is a title fat with importance. It should presuppose ten years' hard labour in the country as a minimum qualification for the writer. And yet the title is too lean. "Englishman" is not a big enough [36/37] word. It is true that I heard the pleasant burr of the Lancastrian from Bombay to Magherita and back again, and no doubt there are towns other than Manchester which are represented in India; but on the commercial side at least, the first impression which I carry away about the Englishman in India is that more often than not he is Scotch with a dash of Irish and a flavouring of Welsh. So when I use the word Englishman I shall mean Britisher, for the call of the East has been as potent north of the Tweed as south, and west of the Irish Channel as east.
I doubt if the Englishman in India recognises the amazing variety of his own species to be found in that country. So many of the occupations in India are in the nature of "services," that there is a tendency to shut up the European community into compartments which are nearly water-tight. In the small stations, of course, the compartments are not so water-tight, because there is but one club. There water, with its proper accessories, is to some extent a solvent. But in many stations, such as, e.g., railway, mining, engineering, the whole European population is already in one compartment. If a man has been soldiering in India, it is quite possible for him to know practically nothing of large areas of the activities of his compatriots, and that even though he may have been twenty, twenty-five, thirty years in the country. So many men who live and work in India do not travel about it. When they go on leave they grudge every minute which is not spent in taking them by the quickest route to the ship for home. Nor do they commonly allow themselves much time to spare on their return. This does not only mean [37/38] that a man may live thirty years in India and never see the Taj. It also means that he may live thirty years in India and never see (in any adequate sense) a tea-planter or a coal-miner, or a manufacturer, or the white officers of a frontier regiment. And yet all these are as essential to the fabric of English life in India as is the white soldier or the member of the I.C.S. I was fortunate enough to be sent to places each of which was typical of one side of the Englishman's life, and each of which was totally different from all the others. Dumped upon these differing communities, and of necessity brought into close contact with their several problems of living, the impression left upon my mind is that of a variety of service rendered to the country far wider than I had ever visualised at home. I had certainly seen our people too much as soldiers, Indian civilians, and a vague but inadequate number of commercial men. I did not at all realise either the extent or the importance of the work that is done by what I may call the "silent" services.
Let me first sketch the Englishman as I saw him, and then offer some criticisms and suggestions which spring from my observation. I shall only speak of what I did see. It is for this reason that I omit such important bodies as missionaries. I did not go south of Poona, so that the whole of Southern India must be left out, but I covered Northern India from the extreme north-east frontier in Assam to the extreme north-west frontier at Quetta.
I met the Englishman of India first of all, of course, [38/39] on the boat--for the most part a lean, clean-cut type of face and frame. There were some who ran to fat, for India is a country of extremes, even in the matter of adipose tissue. But the distinguishing characteristic which differentiated our fellow-passengers from a shipload of travellers was the spirit of what I may perhaps describe as weary keenness which prevailed. Somebody was always ready to do what might be wanted, and to do it as all part of the day's work. Intellectual, athletic, hedonistic, they were all the same. There was a thoroughness, too, with which, as soon as we entered the Red Sea, they entered upon the routine of tropical life. And this ordered activity of life presented me with one great difference between the Englishman in India and the Englishman at home. In India, as far as the men are concerned--and I shall say something about the women later on--there are no idlers. That might not strike an ordinary man as much as it strikes a parson. If you have worked at home amongst those who would travel first-class on an ocean liner, you will know that an appreciable proportion of your congregation do no work, or at least have no regular occupation. That makes it difficult to bring home Christianity to them; for work is an essential part of the Christian conception of life. A Christian idler is a contradiction in terms. No man--and no woman--has a right to live upon the industry of the community without making some return by services rendered. I do not say that the Englishman in India works because he is a Christian, but it is certainly easier to preach Christianity to him because he works. But I must pass on to the types which I saw in India itself.
 (i) Most people associate Bombay chiefly with welcomes and good-byes. They don't get very much further than the Taj Hotel, the Yacht Club, and, perhaps, a drive to Malabar Hill. Bombay seems a place of endless junketings. But the passer-by gets no idea of the real Bombay, or of the Englishman who, very literally, sweats at his job all the year round. The long hours were a revelation to me, and I was only there in--save the mark!--the cold weather. It may be foolish to try to hustle the East, but the commercial East in the land where the Parsee nourishes is apt to see to all the hustling that is necessary if the commercial West is to hold its own. Leave out of account for the moment the official people, and here you have a large population of young Englishmen, living very often in "chummeries," and kept as hard at it as ever they would be in Manchester--and that in a climate which is calculated to take energy out of you at an extraordinarily rapid rate. The only way to keep fit is to add exercise to office-work; so you may see young England in Bombay hard at it at golf and tennis and riding before breakfast and in the scant hour or two of daylight when work is over. The soft seductive nights do not make life any easier if men would keep straight. The long string of gymkhanas, each allotted to some section of the community, spells the needs, and sometimes add to the difficulties, of the white man. It needs grit to make good in Bombay, and, when you think of the comparatively small percentage of failures, you feel that it is worth while for the Church to put its back into the problems of this Eastern business life.
(2) Or take a week's journey to the north-eastern [40/41] corners of India, where Assam looks towards Thibet on the north and Burma on the east. There you will find amongst the tea-planters a totally different type. And no wonder. The life is as different from the life of Bombay as the life of a cattle-rancher is different from that of a clerk on an office stool. Here you get for the most part a Public School type--not university: the tea companies like to catch them young. Their work and play alike lies in the open air. In the scattered bungalows of the tea-gardens these young fellows live for the most part in couples in their early days, or in their own bungalows if they are managers. They direct and order the imported coolies on the gardens, and very often have to father and mother them as well between whiles. In the cold weather they ride, walk, bicycle, or, if lucky, motor, to the clubs for polo, tennis, and other recreation. But the life is essentially lonely, and in the wet season they stew indoors and out alike in a perpetual Turkish bath, the air of which is laden with every kind of beastly insect. And yet they are as cheery and jolly a lot of fine fellows as you could wish to see. Their hospitality is proverbial, and, indeed, to the unseasoned digestion of the visitor, overpowering. Conditions of living might be improved, and more particularly it would be well if the tea companies made provision for earlier hopes of marriage, for it is not fair to claim the whole youth of a man with but a distant hope of being able to marry. The strain is too great. But I take my hat off to our women-folk in Assam. Many stick it out with their husbands all through the hot weather, and a pluckier, cheerier lot it would be hard to find; while the good they do in the community [41/42] is beyond words. And cheek by jowl with the tea-planters you find the oil men--mostly Scotsmen--sinking their wells in virgin jungle, or the Stafford-shire coal-miners working their mines in the wild foothills of the Naga country. All these, whether they are oil-experts from the laboratories at home, or Glasgow engineers, must be prepared for any jungle happening in this teeming country, where the lamps of your bumping Ford may at any corner throw into startling relief the striped tiger who stands blinking stupidly at the glare.
(3) Or leave the open-air life of Assam, or the crowded jute-mills of Calcutta, and go to Delhi. Bless my soul, you are in a different world! Here are the men about whom we hear something at home. Here the great ones of the Indian earth do congregate. Viceroys and Commanders-in-Chief pass across the stage with appropriate pageantry--working, be it observed, just a little harder than most other people. Here staffs function, which, according to the novelists, means to scintillate, but, according to the experience of one traveller, means to be adequate for all causes at a moment's notice. Here, too, at the right season of the year are all the heads of the departments--the men who govern India. Here sits the Legislature, in which you may study the Englishman employed upon the most difficult, the most courageous, in some ways the most thankless, and, in ultimate aim, the most noble task he has ever attempted--and that is the gradual welding into one self-governing nation of a continent of different nationalities accustomed for many centuries to foreign rule. But the soldier and the Indian civilian are not the only Englishmen in Delhi. Here you have [42/43] your great educational and medical establishments, such as the Cambridge Mission to Delhi, and the schools of nursing so particularly the care of the present Vice-Reine. If in the capital of the old Moghuls you get a glimpse of Englishmen as a race of rulers, you get a picture of a very different stamp of ruler which, from the point of view of the well-being of the community, needs to fear no comparisons with the past.
(4) From Delhi I was pitchforked into Waziristan, if you can use so violent a term of the leisurely experience of railway travelling in India. And here you hit another type of Englishman totally different from all the rest. In that barren, stony, and grandly rugged land you meet the men who make possible peace, and sometimes wealth, and sometimes dear life itself, for countless thousands of the dwellers in the plain. These are the men who keep the frontier, and the law of the frontier is one for everybody who lives there: "On the frontier you keep what you can--including your life." These men live under war conditions. Death may leap at them from any nullah by the roadside. They freeze in winter and grill on a stony gridiron in the summer. They watch over their Indian regiments, Sikhs, Pathans, Gourkhas, and what not. Their men are their children, and in one and the same breath they will curse the frontier and tell you there is no place like it, and that they wouldn't serve anywhere else in India for untold lakhs of rupees. I preached to them--though without the usual adjuncts--both at the base at D.I.K. and in Waziristan itself; but, especially in the camp at Manzai, I felt that I had rather listen to them. Fine stuff this, and oh [43/44] that I could put some of our wasters and shirkers and jelly-backs at home on to the road to Jandola for a week or two!
(5) From the frontier to a railway centre. Imagine the Grand Trunk Road as you have it so wonderfully etched by Mr. Rudyard Kipling. On the right-hand side, as you travel up from Calcutta, the Ghats rising steeply from the plain, crowned by Paresenath, the sacred mountain of the Jains, and on the left, in the plain itself, the great Jaria and Sijua coal-fields. And here, again, another type of Englishman. A business man? Yes, but of a different order from the office-man of Calcutta or Bombay. Here are the coal men at grips with the executive problems of coal-mining under conditions as far removed as could possibly be imagined from Durham or Lancashire or South Wales. The good employer at home makes the well-being of his employees his anxious care, but, as far as I was able to judge, his anxieties are meagre and his cares of the armchair variety compared with the paternal, judicial, commercial and climatic worries of the employer in India. Take one point. Good people in India are rightly anxious about the problem of women-labour in the mines. So reforms are sketched out at the conference table and on paper. Then you find yourself confronted with the fact that the Indian coolie will not leave his wife above ground while he goes down into the mine. Your scheme of reform is apt to find itself wrecked at the outset. Or take another point. The difficulty of making bricks without straw is proverbial. But there is plenty of "straw" in India. The difficulty is to find the stuff of sufficient reliability to bind the straw. And that difficulty is [44/45] by no means confined to the men at the top. Again, I take off my hat to the subordinates, whether in the coal-mines or on the railways. In every rank the Englishman in India has constantly to be accommodating himself to the unexpected. Our labour troubles at home we know, but at least we know where we are. In India everyone from top to bottom has, not merely in the great emergencies, but constantly to be making shift with what he's got. And what he has got is often as unknown a quantity as x. At a moment's notice he has to devise expedients, to fill gaps, to create, to rearrange. And the point is that he does it, whether he is an engine-driver or a superintendent, a mine-manager or a head-ganger. But it is a heart-breaking job. And over all these communities presides the tutelary deity known as the D.C. With wide powers, consulted by everybody, whether about railways, mines, churches, or the amenities of social precedences, etc., he needs a cool head and a wise judgment if he is to shepherd aright the variegated community given into his charge. Does any other country breed this type of man as satisfactorily as our Indian Civil Service?
(6) One place more. At the end of my work I was unexpectedly sent to what proved to be a very hectic and, to me, very wonderful week-end at Quetta and the Staff College. It took me five or six days to get there from my railway centre. I began in the thinnest summer clothing and longed for less. I ended in thick woollens and desired more. Incidentally I passed over part of the Scindh desert in a high wind, and knew the pleasures of eating sand and breathing sand and adding sand to my raiment both inside and out--[45/46] and all this merely in the cold weather, and without that heat which can make the Scindh desert a very pretty representation of the infernal regions. I found myself on arrival on a high-level plain, tucked away amidst snow-covered mountains. There I had to work chiefly at the Staff College. "Work" is the right word for that strenuous life. Here you get the young brains of the Army, taught by the brains that are only slightly less young. The immediate problems before them are urgent enough--to be prepared with well-thought-out schemes for any of the thunderbolts which may burst down the historic pathways of invasion from the north. But the frontier can become too absorbing. So the horizon is deliberately made as wide as the whole problem of soldiering throughout the world. Everything that can inform the mind and whet the appetite for military efficiency is set before these picked men. I have never had so attentive and alert an audience as I was privileged to address at the Staff College. Nor had I realised before how wide must be the interests of the Staff Officer. From the study of the great problems of morale--linked as we know now they must be, not merely to professional armies but to every class in the community--to the problems of camouflage and of the moving of bullock-wagons, everything is grist that comes to this mill. To meet the picked men who were engaged in the study of the problems of soldiering, and to live, even for a few days, in that atmosphere of hard work, of intellectual alertness, and of delightful good-fellowship, was pure joy Teachers formed a band of brothers, and let me recommend any who are overpressed with the common conviction that the English are a stupid race to pay [46/47] a visit to the Staff College at Quetta. Here conspicuously, too, in this atmosphere of ability, you got the conviction that it is ultimately character that counts.
(7) Before I close this brief sketch of types of Englishmen in India, I want to say one word about two classes of professional men who are to be found everywhere. Walk round any of the older churches in the big towns, or indeed anywhere. One fact will strike the visitor as different from anything he will see in England. The inscriptions on the memorials to those who have died are illuminating. "In memory of John Smith, drowned while crossing the River Indus, aged twenty-one"; "of Henry Jones, died of cholera, aged twenty-three"; "of Annie James, carried off by fever, within three weeks of landing at Bombay, and a fortnight after her marriage, aged twenty." India is a country of sudden death. Sickness, severe and perhaps fatal, may lurk in your next meal. Recurrent malaria may sap your vitality. And all the time the work has got to be done. So the one man who is indispensable to the Englishman in India is the doctor. He has a harder, if more picturesque, life than his confrere at home. Standing as he does a little outside the other services, and passing through the barriers which divide service from service, he is often the confidant, the guide, as well as the healer of the people to whom he ministers. In some places he has wide powers, as, for instance, in Assam, where he very rightly enjoys a position of independence, and where his word is law as far as the physical welfare of the coolies is concerned. Speaking of him as I found him, I can only say that he does very great credit to his profession and to his country. In talking over the [47/48] things which matter, the springs of will and character which, important enough everywhere, are trebly important in the East, the problems of living, and all those things which must interest a parson, I found that his judgment, where I could check it, was amazingly sound and accurate, and based upon what was evidently real knowledge both of problems and of men.
The other special class is also connected with the churches--I mean the clergy. I do not think that people in India realise the immense difficulties of the parson's life in India. It is easy enough, of course, to do the routine services--though in some of the vast and scattered charges the physical labour is great, and the mere fitting in of services no small task. If you only have a service once a month at your particular station, it needs some effort of the imagination to see that the parson may be having a continuous round. But the difficulties I mean are the difficulties of being a good parson. All clergymen are not preachers, and much of the best work at home is done by the gradual influence of a ministry in one place extending over a considerable number of years. But to the man who has the pastoral rather than the preaching gift, nothing is more disheartening than the way in which his congregation in many places entirely changes in a couple of years. It is heart-breaking. Then there is the club-life at the stations. It is amazingly difficult to steer between the Scylla of an anti-club parochialism and the Charybdis of a mere club loitering. To be hail-fellow-well-met, and yet so to act that the other fellows feel that it is really well met when they meet you, takes a good heart and a strong head. And, again, there is the loneliness. The laity very properly expect [48/49] that the clergy should supply some driving force of spiritual content or inspiration. It is right that they should also realise how, compared with the clergy at home, the lack of other clerical brethren in his immediate neighbourhood deprives the priest in India of some of the most potent helps in his own spiritual life. And the routine work is deadly official. I came across one man who, at the expenditure of a vast amount of time, had to get out a return about the condition of the clothing of the malis of all the cemeteries in an area as big as several English counties. He was a Government official, and it was a Government return. And that sort of thing is soul-destroying. I do not think that the laity in India really appreciate the spiritual difficulties of their clergy. But, in spite of those difficulties, I was struck by the keenness and the hard work, and in many cases the real spiritual vitality which the clergy showed. Men who had with difficulty got to know a certain number of their congregation, only to find them moving away just when they might hope for some fruit of their labours, yet still trying to get to know the new people and repeating the same process; and men who are consciously trying to do their best in the social life, while they do not forget the object of their calling; and men who are striving by every means to keep alight the flame of spiritual inspiration in their hearts in order that they might be able to help their people--I met some of them all. And if I were to make one criticism of a general character about the relations between the laity and the clergy, it would be that the laity are apt to expect too much from the clergy and to back them up too little. After all, it is true of [49/50] every gift from man to man, beyond cash, that what you want to get from a man you must help him to give.
There are many classes in the community whom I have left out, notably the missionaries, the schoolmasters and mistresses, whose magnificent work under most trying conditions is really one of the glories of our rule, the splendid N.C.O.'s and privates of our English regiments; but I had no opportunities of studying them in bulk. But I saw enough of them and heard enough to make the appreciation which I have written above quite deliberate.
I close this part of my paper by some reiteration. I do not think that the average Englishman in India realises how many quite distinct types of himself there arc. I am quite sure that the Englishman at home does not realise either the variety or the pressure of the work that is done in India. He pictures India in terms of soldier men, I.C.S., Society after the fashion of "Plain Tales from the Hills," a lordly and pleasant life, some vague admixture of commerce mostly conducted by "Nabobs," and a fat pension upon which to retire at a comparatively early age. I am not sure that this ignorance is not one of the secrets of what success we do attain, because the generality of people at home know so little that they leave things more or less in the hands of those who do know something.
Any paper such as I have written would have little value beyond the small informative importance of the impressions which I have recorded above, unless it [50/51] contained also something in the nature of criticism, both negative and positive. Let me then offer one or two pieces of negative criticism first. I repeat that I offer them as the fugitive impressions of a traveller, but as a traveller who was brought into most intimate relations with all sorts and classes of our countrymen in India. Men and women certainly spoke freely enough to me about their lives, and much that my own observation led me to suspect to be true was more than confirmed by what people who made their lives in the country told me about their own difficulties and problems.
(1) And first. The division into water-tight compartments of the services and social grades in India is, to a certain extent, inevitable. It seems also in many ways to be harmful. The results are sometimes absurd, especially in the bigger towns. The man of education, birth, and refinement who happens to be in the ancient and honourable occupation of bookselling finds himself ineligible for certain clubs, because he has not reached what is supposed to be the superior status of a merchant. The same type of thing, of course, is to be found in England, but it does not press nearly so hardly on individuals, for the lines of cleavage are far more blurred. But in India, where you have a small community living in a foreign land, with all sorts of delicate questions as to definitions of "European," the hardship is far greater and the damage to the prestige of the Sahib in general is real. But this is only one illustration of a general temper which appears more pronounced in India than it does at home. If you are military you are military; if you are "railway" you are "railway," and so on. In times of [51/52] crisis, of course, all this is swept away. The records for mutual generosity, loyalty, and self-sacrificing helpfulness of the English community are truly magnificent. But as far as I have seen I am quite sure that the excessive segregation into sharply defined sets is, on the whole, harmful under the peculiar conditions of our life abroad.
And arising immediately out of this segregation is the development of social priority within the several sets. This is markedly noticeable amongst the women. In regiments, of course, it is inevitable that great importance should attach to the position of the Colonel's Mem-Sahib; but not in this service only, but in all the services, the cramping effect upon the initiative of the other Mem-Sahibs is evident. Again and again, when anything was suggested, the type of answer that we missioners got was "Yes, that is a very good thing and ought to be done, and if you can get Mrs.------(the Burra Mem-Sahib) to take it up, I will gladly help." But unless the initiative were taken by the Burra Mem-Sahib, it would be regarded as almost indecent for anybody else to move in the matter. Burra is a very, very big word in India. The reason why so much good is done is because so many of the Burra Mem-Sahibs do really play up. Whether in the regiment, the commercial station or the railway centre, they do put themselves out to help forward anything for the general well-being of the community. But where they fail I hazard the criticism that there is rather too great a tendency to regard the battle as already lost, too little of the spirit which says, "This thing has got to be (lone; if nobody else will do it, I will."
(2) One more negative criticism may be offered, if [52/53] efficiency is the test to which every service must submit, there is a real danger lest the gods of efficiency should be exalted over the gods of ultimate purpose. "Where there is no vision the people perish" is ultimately as true of a tramway company as it is of the British Cabinet. The Englishman is, of course, proverbially shy of visions. If a man talks about them too much he will be labelled a crank, or, under certain tongue-loosing circumstances, suspected of over-stimulation. But in India, added to these inhibitions, there is the perpetually asserted predominance of the "spiritual" in Indian culture and ideas. I do not doubt for one moment that there is a great deal of truth in the statement that the genius of India is largely spiritual, and can teach us very much indeed. But I am sure, also, that a great deal of nonsense is talked about the spiritual contribution which India can make to the Empire. A lecture under that title was advertised a little time ago in England, and it consisted of nothing but nebulous theories about the occult; and the average Englishman says: "If that be 'spiritual,' for pity's sake let me be practical!" He sees religions at work about him of which he wishes to speak with all due respect, and of which he does not pretend to make a profound study, and he says: "If these are 'spiritual' religions, let me confine my religion to teaching me to be just and honest, and a doer of my job to the best of my ability." So he cleaves to the good which he sees, and is inevitably led to disparage the spiritual element in his own religion. But that is a tragedy. He is apt to forget that the whole basis of Christianity is spiritual, that it offers a spiritual explanation of life, and that duty [53/54] towards God is as much a part of it as duty towards your neighbour. I venture to think that the Englishman in India does not press his own virtues to their logical conclusion. After all, why exactly shouldn't we be unjust, and take bribes, and not do a good day's work? The answer which many an average Englishman would give is one of those formulae so dear to his public-school heart: "Well ... er ... you know . . . that sort of thing isn't done." Yes, but why isn't it done? And the ultimate answer is written in the first chapter of Genesis, and was blazoned before the world by Christ. It is that man is made in the image of God, and to do any of these things is to be a traitor to your very being. It is this side of life which is neglected at home, but which I thought was almost deliberately pushed aside by many of our splendid people in India.
Let me pass in conclusion to three constructive criticisms. I link them to the words Fellowship, Practice, and Prestige.
(I) Fellowship.--If our community in India is segregated, and, I admit, inevitably segregated more than is the case in England, deliberate effort is necessary to find common ground. You will expect me to say that that common ground is to be found in our religion. And I do say so most emphatically. The Church is the common ground. But when I say "the Church," I do not at all mean the four walls of a building. I mean the Church in the community, the community in the Church. The Church should be the centre of all movements for the well-being and good-fellowship of the English community, and the rallying-ground of crusades for every fine and decent thing. Then, [54/55] at once, with that tendency which I have already remarked to leave every man to run his own job, it is said: "Let the parson lead us in all these enterprises of our communal fellowship. Let him put himself at the head of all these movements for the general well-being." But stop a moment! Is every parson a born leader of men? I was constantly reminded in India that the Englishmen in the different services are all picked men. But as far as intellectual ability is concerned, can you say that of the parson in every station throughout India? Why should he be expected to have the driving force necessary to dominate communities of picked men? Some can and do. It is unreasonable to expect that all could. The fact is that this business must not be left to the parson. Not only the ritual, but the results of our religion are a communal obligation--an obligation of a faith the two master-words of which are Father-God and Brother-Man. This is as much the concern of the Deputy Commissioner and the tea-planter, and the mine-ganger and the Colonel's lady as it is of the parson. It will break down the disadvantages of the water-tight system without impairing the efficiency of the different services if there is common ground upon which all can meet, and that common ground may well be the practice in common of a sane Christianity by men in a world of men. The keynote of our religion in this respect is Fellowship.
(2) Practice.--The over-emphasis upon efficiency about which I have spoken above is, of course, not to be countered in the least either by inefficiency in performance or slackness in will-power. Aspiration is not a substitute for action; nor is it difficult to see that [55/56] it is better to be a workman than a wind-bag. But the way to strengthen the spiritual side of our life and work is the practice of the doctrine of the Incarnation. You start with the undoubted fact that the vital things which govern all life are spiritual and must be so. But you cannot know any spiritual truth until that truth is made incarnate in some act communicable to another person. Justice is an attribute of God Himself, but man can only know justice if somebody is just as between A and B. What was the Incarnation after all? It was the clothing of the God-idea in such fabric as man could grasp. When, therefore, men find themselves stationed in lonely and remote places, or beset by the temptations of power or of pleasure, that which gives meaning to life and makes it sane and clean and satisfying is not to deny the value of spirit or to fall back upon the barren routine of doing a particular job as well as possible, but to recognise that we are upon the earth as incarnation of spiritual truths. The image of God! By practising kindliness, courage, good cheer, love, discipline, worship and the rest, we are bringing these things to birth as truly as do the man and woman who beget and bear a child. The Englishman in India sees so keenly the value of practice in his service, and emphasises so frequently the value of so intangible and spiritual a matter as prestige, that he might well be the prophet of the Empire in the realm of the practice of Incarnation.
(3) Prestige.--From Tilbury, through India, to Tilbury again, the word "prestige" resounded in our ears. Some lamented its decline; some foretold its resuscitation in a new form. All alike agreed on its [56/57] supreme importance. But the cry you met everywhere was "Send us pukkha Sahibs!" If a white face gives the title of Sahib, then each bearer of a white face carries the prestige of Sahib in his own hands. Some of our people, notably the officers of the Indian army, tea-planters, administrators, and the like, and, of course, missionaries are brought so close to our Indian fellow-subjects that there is no need to remind them of the obligations of Sahib-hood. And how splendidly, for the most part, they carry them out! But I could not help being struck by the way in which some sections seemed to feel themselves remote from and unconcerned with the Indian population. Yet the Indians see and the Indians know. When some young fellow, perhaps fresh from home, perhaps ignorant and unaccustomed to power, does not behave as a Sahib ought, the harm that he does is fifty times greater than the harm he would do at home. A few men who, because their work lies mainly amongst their own race, will not take the trouble to learn the A B C of Indian thoughts and prejudices, and consequently do and say the things which no Sahib in India should either do or say, make the work of all the rest infinitely more difficult. The women of our race in India have in reality a far more difficult time than they have at home. What not only our men, but our rule, owes to them it is difficult to over-estimate. Our missioners again and again spoke of the splendid specimens of English womanhood whom they met--I certainly not least. But when some small silly set of women act as though they thought that India and its life was created for their amusement, they stab the womanhood of England cruelly deep, because they, too, are of the Sahib-folk. [57/58] In spite of what is written about the life of hill stations and the rest, I am sure that the proportion of the merely frivolous is no greater in India than it is at home. The harm it does must, from the necessities of the case, be much greater. After all, we have the highest possible authority for a very scrupulous regard for the results of our actions upon others, even though those actions may awaken in ourselves no sense whatever of wrong-doing. It is recorded of Christ that when He was about to do one of His works, He prefaced it by a public address to God, and said, "Because of the people which stand by I said it." For Himself He had no need, and yet "because of the people which stand by" He said it. That motto is as applicable in London, Glasgow, and Manchester as it is in Bombay, Simla, and Assam. East and West, the necessity of remembering our relationship to the people who stand by is equally obligatory; but it happens from the facts of the situation that in India there are more people who stand by, and they are more interested, and the Englishman stands upon a much more public platform-That fact he generally recognises. I am instituting no comparison between the Englishman in India and at home. If I did so, I do not think it would be to the advantage of the Englishman at home. But, in a country where you are a Sahib, the faults of the few are proclaimed to high heaven by every ill-wisher, and in some vital matters outweigh much of the good that is done by the many. At least this much may be said for certain--that whether for such matters as church-going, or social life, or the treatment of prejudices of other races, it would be no bad thing to find this motto on the mantelpiece of every bungalow [58/59] of the Englishman in India, "Because of the people which stand by . . ."
I end in the temper of mind into which I generally fall when I think of the splendid men and women I got to know: I wish that most of us were as good as the Englishman in India. God bless him!