The Marquess Wellesley, K.G. in India, 1798-1805 : an essay : [manuscript]

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[printed card tipped in]

Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland.

The President & Council request the pleasure of the company of

[line] at the SOCIETY'S ROOMS, (22, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.) On Friday, May 21st, 1909, at 4 o'clock, when the ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY'S PUBLIC SCHOOL MEDAL will be presented to A.H.M. Wedderburn (Eton College) by The Right Hon. Lord Curzon of Kedleston, G.C.S.I, G.C.I.E.

C. HUGHES, Secretary.

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[newspaper clipping] LORD CURZON ON INDIA. [inked in by hand] THE TIMES - 22 May, 1909. The Royal Asiatic Society's Public School medal, presented yesterday at the society's house, Albemarlestreet, by Lord Curzon. LORD REAY (president of the society) occupied the chair, and among those present were the Rev. E. Lyttelton (Headmaster of Eton), Sir C. Lyall, Mr. Hart Davies. M.P., Sir Mortimer Durand, Mr. C.E. Buckland, Mr. K.G. Gupta, Dr. T.H. Thornton, Mr. Syed Hosain Bilgrami, Sir A. Wollaston, Mr. T.W. Thomas (India Office Librarian), and Miss Hughes (secretary of the Asiatic Society). ASIATIC SOCIETY'S PUBLIC SCHOOL MEDAL. LORD REAY said that this was the first occasion on which the medal had gone for a second time to the same school. Eton was previously victorious in the competition in 1905. In 1904 it went to Merchant Taylor's School, in 1906 to Rugby, in 1907 to Westminster, and in 1908 to Harrow. He spoke of the importance of encouraging the study of history in general, and more especially that of India, in all our public schools and like institutions. No person could engage successfully in administrative or political work who was not, to a certain extent, master of the historical problems which lay at the root of all political development, and nothing but disaster could accrue to any country where the study of history did not obtain a foremost place. LORD CURZON said that the ignorance in England about India was perhaps less than it was 20 or 30 years ago, but it was still quite appalling. A little while ago he came across a case in which a popular English novelist had written a book the scene of which was laid in India, and the error was perpetrated of making Bombay appear in Bengal. When this mistake was pointed out to the author, instead of sacrificing the edition, he rather humorously had a slip of paper printed and pasted into each copy on which appeared the words. "It must be understood that for the purpose of this story, and for this story only, Bombay is in Bengal." (Laughter.) If this sort of ignorance could prevail among men of culture, and distinguished as the writer of the novel was, it was not surprising it should be widespread among the general class of the population. He truly believed we could find 100 men in England who could give a correct list from memory of the Derby winners from the start for every one who could give a correct account of the number and names of the Indian provinces or a list of the Viceroys since the Mutiny. (Laughter.) He referred to the mass of information available about India in Blue-books and other publications, especially emphasizing the value and importance of "The Moral and Material Progress Report on India." He suggested that the right thing to do was to take that Blue-book, reduce its apparent compass, invest it with an attractive appearance and pleasant binding, and hand it over to the Daily Mail for circulation. (Laughter.) He really believed that would do more to advertise India than any official expenditure on Blue-books spread over a series of years. A great many people went out to India now, and it was a remarkable thing that in proportion to the shortness of their visit there they felt an over-mastering impulse to record their impressions in print. The shorter the time they spent in the coutnry, the longer the speeches they made in the House of Commons afterwards about it, the more immense their pretentions and the great the ignorance, as a rule, they showed. (Laughter and "Hear, hear.")

THE INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE. If he were a parent seeking a profession for his son he thought that the first thing he would do would be to cast his eyes on India, mainly for two reasons. In the first place, because his son would be doing something definite, practical, of positive value to large masses of human beings at a time of life when in any other country or profession he would be only occupying a secondary and irresponsible place, and, secondly, because India opened up a field of responsible activity to a young Englishman greater than any in the world. It was open to any young man of character and ability who went to India, from whatever class he was drawn, to rise to a position in that country, before he had attained to the age of 50, where he was ruling, with almost single authority, a territory larger than that of many European kingdoms, and exercising an authority greater than that of many European kings. Many years ago John Bright used to say that India was the playground for the aristocratic classes. John Bright had a great and genuine interest in India, tempered by a good deal of ignorance (laughter); and he seriously seemed to think that we kept India as a means of finding billets for the younger sons of the aristocracy. Lord Reay, who had been in India a long time, could tell them if in travelling about the country and observing the Civil servants conducting the Administration he ever came across the scions of a pampered aristocracy. For himself, Lord Curzon said, he never saw them and he always held that one of the greatest merits of the service, and one of its sources of strength, was that instead of being recruited from one class at home it was drawn impartially from all classes of the community, so that the best English blood - the upper, the middle, and all classes - was perpetually percolating into India and giving it all that British character and British intelligence could offer. (Cheers.) His belief was that India would get a much larger share of public attention in the future than in the past. A wave of unrest had been going over that country resulting in the commission of atrocious crimes and eventually producing a series of concessions and reforms by the present Administration. Nothing could be more improper than for him to say anything on that occasion with a political complexion. Therefore, he would not say a word as to the effect which it appeared to him these changes would have in the future; that they must impose a great strain upon the civilians called upon to administer the country. And, if that be so, how important it was for the training up of ensuing generations of those men that they should have that broad acquaintance with Indian conditions and history which it was the main object of the competitions for the society's public school medal to give. In presenting the medal to Mr. Wedderburn, he said that he had read his prize essay and having had occasion to study Lord Wellesley's career he had always taken the view expressed by the writer that he was a man of large views, great courage, most distinguished abilities, and of absolutley sincere patriotism. (Cheers.) The REV. E. LYTTLETON remarked that interest in the East was growing steadily year by year at Eton. On the proposition of LORD REAY, seconded by Mr. W. IRVINE, a vote of thanks was passed to Lord Curzon. [line]

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