Leave me, then, to my pigs and sheep

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Richard Cobden an John Bright am 22. September 1857 über den Sepoy-Aufstand und dessen Niederschlagung [nach: John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden]:

I am glad to see your handwriting again. Although I knew our minds were busy in one and the same direction, yet I abstained from sending you my cogitations, for I was fearful of adding fuel to fire. These Indian horrors give me a perpetual shudder. The awful atrocities perpetrated upon women and children [durch die Aufständischen] almost give rise to the impious doubt whether this world is under the government of an all-wise and just Providence. What crime had they committed to merit the infliction of tortures and death? Verily the sins of the fathers have been visited on the children to the third and fourth generations! And how can it be otherwise in the case of a nation? For if a collective crime be perpetrated, and a community be visited with retributive justice, even an hour after the commission of the deed, those who have entered life in the interval must participate in the penalty. We can see that it must be so, but not that it ought to be.

These fiendish outrages upon the defenceless—the propensity displayed in so many places to unparalleled cruelties—have amazed me more than anything that ever occurred in my time. We have read of something of the kind in St. Domingo, in the French Revolution, and in the revolt of the polish peasants, but in our time nothing like it has happened, and I would not have believed that any tribe of men which had been in contact with civilized life could have committed such barbarities. But we seem in danger of forgetting our own Christianity, and descending to a level with these monsters who have startled the world with their deeds. It is terrible to see our middle-class journals and speakers calling for the destruction of Delhi, and the indiscriminate massacre of prisoners. Leaving humanity out of the question, nothing could have been more impolitic than the wholesale execution of common soldiers with which we attempted from the first to put down the rebellion. Had it been a mutiny of a company or a regiment, it would have been of doubtful policy to hang or blow from the guns all the privates concerned. But when an entire army of 100,000 men have planted the standard of revolt, it is no longer a mutiny, but a rebellion and civil war. To attempt to hang all that fall into our power can only lead to reprisals and wholesale carnage on both sides.

Did you observe that the men who swam ashore at Cawn-pore after the boats, in which were the garrison who had been promised a safe passage, had been treacherously sunk, were blown from the guns on successive days, no doubt in imitation of our treatment of the Sepoys? To read the letters of our officers at the commencement of the outbreak, it seemed as if every subaltern had the power to hang or shoot as many natives as he pleased, and they spoke of the work of blood with as much levity as if they were hunting wild animals. The last accounts would lead one to fear that God is not favouring our cause, and that too many of our countrymen are meeting the fate which was intended for the natives.

But the future—what is in the distance? The most certain and immediate result is that we shall have a bankrupt empire of 150 millions of people on our backs. The end of this year will leave the Company minus not much short of 100 millions sterling, including guaranteed railways, &c. And then comes all the sacrifices of life and treasure which we shall make to put down the rebellion and reconquer India. And nobody asks what benefit we shall derive from our success! You know my opinion of old: that I never could feel any enthusiasm for the reform of our Indian Government, for I failed to satisfy myself that it was possible for us to rule that vast empire with advantage to its people or ourselves. I now regard the task as utterly hopeless. Recent and present events are placing an impassable gulf between the races. Conquerors and conquered can never live together again with confidence or comfort. It will be a happy day when England has not an acre of territory in Continental Asia. But how such a state of things is to be brought about, is more than I can tell. I bless my stars that I am not I a position to be obliged to give public utterance to my views on the all-absorbing topic of the day, for I could not do justice to my own convictions and possess the confidence of any constituency in the kingdom. For where do we find even an individual who is not imbued with the notion that England would sink to ruin if she were deprived of her Indian Empire? Leave me, then, to my pigs and sheep, which are not labouring under any such delusions…..


Bei Libera Media ist das Buch „Richard Cobden“ von Franz von Holtzendorff neu aufgelegt worden. Ursprünglich handelte es sich um eine Rede im Berliner Handwerkerverein, die Holtzendorff, einer der führenden Juristen seiner Zeit, im Jahre 1866 hielt. Sie erschien dann auch im Druck.

Das Buch enthält eine ausführliche Einleitung zu Franz von Holtzendorff und Richard Cobden sowie zahlreiche Fußnoten, die Hintergründe, Personen und ungewöhnliche Wörter erläutern. Es ist über Amazon erhältlich (einfach auf das Bild klicken):

Cobden klein 4

Siehe auch:

Dieser Beitrag wurde unter Antiimperialismus, Großbritannien, Indien, Liberalismus, Richard Cobden veröffentlicht. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink.

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