Sir George Bird wood has also had a long Indian career, and no one suspects him of pro-British bias—rather the reverse. Yet we find him writing to the Times in 1895 about one of the Indian provinces, as follows: “The new Bengali language and literature,” he says, “are the direct products of our Law Courts, particularly the High Court at Calcutta, of Mission schools and newspaper presses and Education Departments, the agents which are everywhere, not in Bengal only, giving if not absolute unity yet community in diversity to the peoples of British India.” The modern literature of Bengal, he goes on to say, is Christian in its teaching; if not the Christianity of creed and dogma, yet of the mind of Christ.
It is that transition in ideas, that alteration in social, political, and religious standpoint which we are going to trace and illustrate.
“By the well where the bullocks
Silent and blind and slow.”
[Sidenote: Indian conservatism.]
[Sidenote: Is mere inertia.]
But while acknowledging the potent influences at work, and accepting these representative utterances, it may yet be asked by the incredulous—What of the inherent conservatism, the proverbial tenacity of India? Is there really any perceptible and significant change to record as the outcome of the influences of the nineteenth century? Well, the expression “Indian conservatism” is misleading. There is no Indian conservatism in the sense of a philosophy of politics, of society, or of religion. Indian conservatism—what is it? To some extent an idealising of the past, the golden age of great law-givers and philosophers and saints. But very much more—mere inertia and torpidity in mind and body, a reluctance to take stock of things,